DC: I don't own it
Thanks to my reviewers!
Sorry I haven't updated lately. I haven't been in a twilight mood for the past months. I blame New Moon. I mean most stores are treating it's release like some sort of second coming. It's even more annoying because Harry Potter HBP was brushed off like it was nothing (and personally I think it's the better of the two movies). Then again hype tends to turn me off. Hence why I never saw Avatar.
Carlisle came home from work to find Esme knitting in their hobby room. He kissed her forehead as a greeting and she returned it.
"How is she?" He asked.
"See for yourself," Esme said, nodding towards the living room. Carlisle went out and found Bella sitting in her pajamas hugging a pillow. He saw that she was watching a cartoon movie and crying. When he got a closer look he saw she was watching The Land Before Time and he rolled his eyes.
"I'll always be with you Little Foot, even if you can't see me."
"Bella honey why are you crying?"
"B-because he's all alone now," Bella sobbed into a tissue. "W-without his mama."
Carlisle came and sat with her. He offered her a snuggle and she accepted. She curled up against him and he kissed her head. "You miss your mother don't you?"
Bella nodded and wiped her eyes again. Her cheeks were stained red and he knew it was because she had been crying all day. The tears were getting thinner and thinner but she seemed just as upset.
"I miss them so much right now. I want to ask her what I should do."
"You can always ask Esme," Carlisle reminded her.
"How many times has she been heartbroken by love?"
Carlisle thought back for a moment and realized she had a point. Esme had never been in love before him, and while she could help her deal with the trauma from her encounter with Aro, but she couldn't tell her how to cope with losing her fiance because of her mistakes. Really nobody in the house knew how to help her with that.
"I really messed up. Now I don't know what to do about Edward."
"Well do you love him?"
"Yes. But I don't want to be with him."
"Why?" Carlisle asked. "Granted I agree it's too soon but maybe after time..."
"Do you really want me to hook up with Edward or do you just want me to get married?"
Carlisle smoothed her hair. "Sweetheart if you never got married that would be fine as long as you were happy. Though the idea of you being untouched by another man is delightful."
Bella laughed a bit. "But you don't want me to be lonely."
"No," Carlisle agreed, "which is why I will buy you a cat."
Bella laughed again and it made Carlisle smile. He missed her laugh.
"So I hear you were watching cartoons all day."
"Movies from my childhood. I watched 101 dalmations and then Balto."
"Ah yes you loved that movie," Carlisle chuckled.
"You didn't for some reason."
"It reminded me of my days as a doctor in Chicago. Dealing with that epidemic. Let's just say it didn't have a happy ending."
"Why did you keep going if it was so bad?" Bella asked.
Carlisle squeezed her shoulders gently and smiled. "Because someone had to. Many of the young doctors I worked with lost faith and gave up. I couldn't. Even though watching children die because of sickness was hard, I knew that I had to be stronger than the disease."
Bella was silent.
"Bells you're a strong girl, and I know you will find a way to conquer this. Though the less you being naked with a boy is involved, the better."
Bella rolled her eyes and Carlisle gave her a squeeze again. "I don't mean to be all slutty and naked it just sorta happens. Besides, nothing happened with Edward last night."
"You two were together for a long time."
"And in the event we had sex you would have heard it," Bella reminded him.
Carlisle shuddered. "Stop growing up, okay. Go back to being the sweet innocent little girl you were. Y'know the one that had no idea what sex was."
Bella smiled at him and shrugged. "Sorry daddy, I grew up."
He rested his chin on her head and sighed. "I know," he whispered sadly. "Just promise me you won't grow up too much more."
"I'll try my best."
Carlisle nodded and hugged her tight. His baby girl was still in pain and he was still quite unable to do anything about it. He just hoped beyond hope that she wouldn't do anything foolish. He couldn't count on the values he and Esme had taught her as a child because she was so different. He could only hope that underneath the traumatized girl his daughter was still there, just as sweet as always.
"How was work?" Bella asked, breaking his thoughts.
"Long. I was distracted the whole time."
The conversation ended after that and they watched the misery of a young dinosaur together in silence.
If someone had told Bella three months ago that she and Alice would be sunbathing together gossiping about cute boys and other girly things, she would have said someone was crazy. But there they were on the deck of the Cullen house in bikini's lounging in cushioned chairs with sunglasses. Their skins glittered but they didn't seem to care. They were discussing the movies. A perfectly innocent topic that Alice knew wouldn't really upset her.
"Aro would always drag us to see cheesy operas when we were younger," Alice said, "Edward loved them. But then again I think he may have some homosexual tendencies."
"I would agree," Bella laughed. "I went to an opera once when I was younger. Dad took me and said I would like it."
"It was in Italian and I was twelve."
Alice laughed and pat her arm. "You'll learn good taste soon enough my dear."
"Define good taste."
Alice just smiled at her and then turned her head back towards the sun. "Oh my god this feels so good," she sighed happily. "I hated being cooped up in Volterra all the time. Especially since the sun was always shining. Oh Bella you would have loved Italy if the situation was different."
"I'll go back some day," Bella promised, "when the memories have faded a bit. Dad said he would take me to Rome some day."
"I liked Rome."
Bella looked like she might have said more, but the approaching vampires cut her off. She and Alice sat up and watched the boys come back from their hunt. Jasper and Carlisle looked neat and tidy as usual while Edward was a little ruffled.
"You'll get it," Carlisle assured him as they reached the top. He saw the girls and sighed. "Can't you two put on some real clothes?"
"Daddy you have to stop with that."
"Yeah Carlisle, I really don't see why bikini's bother you," Alice chirped with a smile. Jasper was smiling at her and she winked in return. Carlisle rolled his eyes.
"This is a pretty good reason," he grumbled. He walked in the house to find Esme and the boys stayed behind.
"Did you guys have fun?" Bella asked, taking her sunglasses off and setting them aside.
"Oh yes," Jasper said, coming over to sit with Alice. She scooted over and he sat next to her. "You both look lovely today."
"You're sweet," Bella said, laying back down. Edward sat on the wooden railing and made a face at his sister. Alice in turn made one back. They stopped when Esme came out giving disapproving looks. She occupied the third lawn chair and much to Carlisle's pleasure and dismay she too was wearing a two piece bathing suit. At least he had changed into summer clothing and let himself enjoy the sunlight as well. He sat on the railing with Edward and smiled a bit as the sun's warmth hit his back.
"So when are you leaving?" Edward asked. It was a question that was on everybody's mind and he knew his sister had hinted at it earlier.
"I suppose soon," Bella sighed. "I don't really want to go back there but Caius is being quite persistent."
"You should give control to Marcus," Alice suggested with a small smile, "that'll piss him off."
"I'd rather you avoid angering him further, Bella," Carlisle advised quietly. "I would also like for you to go with an escort."
"Yeah just incase Caius has a thing for pretty vampires with an angry streak," Jasper said with a smile. Bella just giggled and put her sunglasses back on.
"Dad your so pale it's blinding me," she teased. Everyone laughed, including Carlisle. "Alright I'm going this weekend."
"That's when you have your conference in Chicago, right dear?" Esme asked Carlisle. "You two could fly part of the way together."
"Edward will you go with me?" Bella asked. "To keep me safe and give dad a piece of mind?"
"Sweetie if you want piece of mind for Carlisle you should probably go with me," Jasper said. "That way he doesn't worry about someone taking care of your lady parts."
Alice and Bella giggled while Edward looked ready to blush and Carlisle grumbled.
Edward was the unlucky one who had to sit through a flight with Bella. He hated flying and he could hear the college girls thinking about him a few seats down. He could smell the blood in everybody and oh did he want it. He noticed that Bella wasn't breathing. She was looking at her book pretending to read but she had been on the same page for almost twenty minutes.
"You okay?" Edward asked quietly, putting his hand on hers. She turned her hand over and gripped his tight with her fingers.
"I'm scared," she admitted. "Going back there...I don't know what to expect."
"Don't be scared," he whispered. "You'll be just fine. All you have to do is sign a contract saying Caius is the new leader and that's it."
"That's it?" Bella asked in a voice too low for the ears of her fellow travelers.
"What else are you expecting?"
"I murdered my husband Edward," she hissed in the same quiet tone. "And my son. You can't expect me to believe that they are okay with that."
"There's something you don't understand about that coven," Edward said, shifting. "A long time ago it belonged to Stefan and his brother. There was a great battle and Aro seized power violently with his brothers. He was the new leader and Caius became his second. Basically the only thing that kept Caius from killing Aro and taking power was the contract had to be signed over. It's a complex sort of monarchy."
Bella looked down at their hands and closed her eyes. "All the same, I still expect something bad to happen."
"Caius won't hurt you for killing Aro as long as he gets control of the coven."
Bella nodded silently and looked out the window. She could only see the ocean down below and it made her feel a bit sick. She didn't know what awaited her in Volterra. She pulled her hand gently from Edward's and folded her arms across her chest. She shifted one leg over the other and Edward sighed.
"Can I help?"
"Can you go back in time?"
"Then you can't help."
Thus was their relationship. Without warning Bella would go from affectionate and gentle to frosty and closed off. Edward understood the change in emotions and didn't blame her in the least, but it did get tiresome sometimes. Especially since those were the times when he questioned the most where he stood with her. He could tell most of the time she was thinking about Emmett and the other times she was thinking about Aro. Sometimes she thought about him and how their lust for each other grew, but that just went back to thinking about Emmett. She missed her ex and she wanted him back. Or at least that's what Edward thought. It was hard to know for sure as he couldn't read her mind.
"You're thinking about him again aren't you," he mumbled.
Bella looked at their reflections in the window. "I just want it to end."
"What Aro did..."
"Edward I really don't want to talk about this. Not right now. I'll just get angry and end up saying something I'll regret a little too loudly."
She reached down and touched his hand lightly with hers. He looked into her eyes and she smiled softly. "Thanks for being so wonderful."
She made it so easy to stick around and put himself through this mental torture.
Edward wasn't sure where Bella got the confidence to march into the castle that had once been her prison. Her stride was bold and confident and her eyes were stormy. She was definitely unhappy and he couldn't really blame her. After all she was just a couple floors away from the room where she was tortured and just down the hall from the ballroom where she and Aro shared a wedding waltz. The place radiated with bad memories and Edward thought it was a credit to her character that she didn't crumble upon returning.
They found Caius and Marcus in the throne room as usual. The grand throne between them was empty. Caius looked unhappy as always and Marcus looked bored. As they came in Jane and Alec watched them carefully as they crossed the marble room.
"Ah, our sister has come to visit," Marcus said with a slight smile. "And Edward, you have returned."
"Only to make sure no harm comes to Bella," Edward promised.
"Ah, I see. I hear you are living with Carlisle now. You two always did get along well."
"Enough chit chat," Caius growled, "you have tried my patience dear girl."
"Peace, brother, that is no way to talk to our late brother's wife."
Bella walked up to the blonde vampire and he stood. "Sign and be done with it."
"So rude," Bella sighed, "this is a difficult decision. After all this is in the interest of all the coven members."
"Sign the bloody paper and get it done with," Caius growled.
"Perhaps she should hear all the facts, brother," Marcus suggested. "View all the candidates."
"Marcus I had no idea you wanted power so badly," Edward said, "so unlike you."
"I could care less. I plan to leave soon anyway."
"Then stop babbling!"
Edward looked at Caius. He seemed to be in quite a hurry to have his name chosen as the new leader. He saw glimpses of his mind but Caius was used to telepathy, especially Edward's unique brand. He could keep his thoughts locked away tight and Edward felt a cold tingle in his spine as he could see bits of the older vampire's memory. He saw a body in a bed. A young vampire was tending to it, feeding it blood. Was it Aro? Could the demon have survived? Edward wouldn't put it past him.
"Bella," he said quietly, putting his hand on her arm. She glanced at him.
"I need to talk to you for just a brief moment."
"Edward you pest! Let her finish what she came here for!"
Edward pulled Bella's arm and Caius growled.
"Surely she doesn't want to stay here much longer. I can see the fear in her eyes! Sign the blasted contract already and you can leave!"
"Alright listen," Bella said loudly, "I'm the one with the bigger hand here so sit down, shut up and try some damn patience."
Marcus snorted and Edward pulled her away. He leaned over so close his lips touched her ear as he spoke. "Give him the power. Do it and be done. He is rushing for a reason and whatever that reason is, it can't be good."
"What are you talking about? What reason?"
Edward saw the glimpses again. They were stronger this time. The figure in bed was in pain. He could see dark hair and red eyes. Then the glimpse was over.
"I think..." he looked at Bella and wondered if he wanted to say anything more. He hesitated when he saw her face. Traces of laughter could still be seen in her eyes from earlier. He remembered watching her and Alice giggle like teenage girls and the way she smiled more and more every day. What if Aro was alive? What if he somehow survived being burned and poisoned? It was an incredibly long shot but if it was real...the laughter in her eyes would die.
"I have to get this done," Bella said, looking back at the old vampires. Caius was practically twitching he was so anxious. "The contract will have some additions."
"What in the world are you talking about?!" Caius demanded.
"In this contract, the Olympic coven, or Carlisle Cullen's coven, shall never be harmed by you or yours."
"Now just one moment..."
"Unless," Bella continued, "they have broken the laws of our kind."
Caius settled a bit.
"Perhaps, Mrs. DiVolterra, you should add one more clause," Marcus said lazily, "to protect yourself."
"Yes," Bella agreed, "the death of my family was in self defense and shall be recorded as such."
"Fair enough," Caius agreed. He wrote it on the parchment and handed her a quill. "Sign it."
Bella nodded and signed the contract after reading it three times. Caius signed as well and he seemed to be calmer.
"Perhaps the next time we meet it will be more pleasurable," Caius said as they gave each other a formal handshake.
"Perhaps there won't be a next time."
"Dear Bella," Marcus said, taking her hand and kissing it, "always a pleasure. Do travel safely and tell Alice to take care of her brother."
"I'm right here," Edward grumbled. Marcus smiled at him and patted his head like he would a child. Edward took Bella's hand and practically dragged her out of the castle.
Carlisle was delighted to see them when they got home, but his delight faded when Edward requested a private talk with him.
"What's wrong?" Carlisle asked as he shut the door to his study.
"Something I saw in Caius's mind," Edward said quietly. So quietly in fact that Carlisle had to lean in a bit. "I think Aro might be alive."
Carlisle just pulled back silently. His lips pursed together and he immediately looked towards the door, as if Aro would come in right then. Or worse, Bella.
"It's getting to be time to move anyway," Carlisle said slowly after a long pause.
"He has Demitri remember."
Carlisle gave Edward a brief annoyed look before realizing the younger vampire was quite right. Aro's seeker would find them. Bella had made quite the powerful enemy when she escaped her prison.
"Are you sure?" Carlisle asked quietly.
"I don't know for sure. Something was recovering and I have no idea what."
Carlisle bit his lip and looked out the window. Bella was sitting outside on a bench in the sun. One leg was crossed over the other and she was chewing anxiously on her thumb. He could see pain in her eyes. It radiated through her body.
Edward noticed it too. He left the room quickly and went to her. Carlisle watched as Edward appeared next to her.
Bella turned and looked at him. She curled into his side and he held her.
"I can't stop thinking about him," she mumbled into his shoulder. "All the pain he caused...for what?"
"He wanted you as I do," Edward answered, "he watched you love another man and wished it could be him."
He stood up and pulled her up with him.
"The difference," he said, holding her hands, "is that I won't take what I want. I will wait until you want me in return."
Bella touched his face gently. "You've been so good to me Edward. I've forced you to stay here when I know you haven't always been happy."
"That's not true. Jasper and I get along very well. I used to get along very well with Carlisle until he started entertaining the idea that we were sleeping together."
Bella smiled and kissed him lightly.
"Why did you do that? You know he's watching."
"I love to screw with him," Bella murmured before kissing him again. She heard grumbling in Carlisle's study.
"Seriously Bella I don't want your dad to think that we spend every free moment screwing each other like crazed horny bunnies."
"There's an image," Bella muttered. She slid her arms around his waist and tucked her fingers in his back pockets. Edward would have blushed if he could. "What did you tell him?"
"What do you mean?"
"You were hiding something all the way home and then you drag him off for private talk."
"Guys have secrets, it's a guy thing," Edward shrugged, "sweetie you're cupping my bum."
"Do I have to play dirty?"
"Oh god please don't," Edward moaned, "Bella it was old Volturri stuff that I saw in Caius's mind.
Bella pressed her hips against his.
"Really, nothing you have to worry yourself over."
"Edward," Bella whispered against his cheek, "I can tell when you're hiding something."
"Bella it was just Caius freaking out because he didn't want the Romanians to take control of the coven. Marcus was worrying about Stefan's reaction to Aro's death. Apparently the Romanians have been trying to stir up trouble and Caius was afraid you'd hate him enough to give the coven to them. I told Carlisle just so he could hear an ear out for trouble. At least until we know that they know Caius is in control."
"I guess I believe you," Bella said pulling away from him. "You could have just said it though."
"I could have but then I wouldn't have gotten to feel your goodies."
Bella kissed his cheek and patted his hip. She turned to leave and he caught her hand.
"I love you Bella."
Bella softened a little. She came back and kissed him briefly on the lips. "Of course you do."
She turned and walked away leaving him with a flirtatious wink. Edward grumbled.
"You've been spending too much time with my sister!" He called after her.
Bella just smiled back at him and blew a kiss. Edward caught it and blew it back making her laugh. She was happy. She was smiling and laughing like she had before. Best of all, he knew from her smile that she loved him back.
Yay an update!