A/N: I should be writing other things (BtE, Twific gift exchange), but this kept eating away at my mind. I knew I had to get this down now.
Originally, I was trying to come up with an idea for a TT25 one shot, and this came into mind. But it kept expanding and expanding and I knew I had to make this a stand alone piece. So, this will be a very short story. More than likely five chapters.
This will be my only A/N throughout the story, to keep the illusion~
This is a Fantasy AU, kind of a fairytale quality. I hope you like it.
My beta, Bublichka is the best. Also, I still don't own this.
Bella at 9
Bella had been warned by her mother and father about entering the vast forest behind her house. The behemoth skyscraping trees could pull anyone in, but a child…well a child could be lost inside forever.
By nature, she was very accident prone; she had been known to trip on air and injure herself. Wandering into an area with uneven surfaces conjures up deadly situations for Bella Swan.
Bella's father had drawn a big neon orange line on the grass a few feet before the open woods to give Bella a guideline as to how far she could go.
"Don't go past this line, Bells. I've seen some crazy shit happen in those trees. I might not get to you in time to help you out." Charlie emphasized, gesturing to the fictitious fence he had outlined.
Before that barrier was put up, Bella had wandered off one day, chasing a firefly in the dusk hours. Its little green glow had her full attention; she had wondered how a brilliantly bright light could be emitted from a tiny animal. She marveled over what kind of filament could be inside this insect.
She wondered if the bug was flying toward its family of bugs with different colors; she would've loved to have seen a purple or blue one. She had not watched where she was going and tripped over a rock, scraping her knee.
Blood trickled like a river down her shin, the iron smell hitting her senses. Bella had a delayed reaction to the pain and only started crying when she saw it reach her white socks. The porous cotton soaked up the liquid, the army of red taking over the bright white.
Bella sat on the very rock she stumbled over, watching the battle between the two colors. She wasn't sure if she was intrigued by the quick pace the blood took over her sock or how fascinating it was that blood kept seeping from her open wound.
By the time Bella had watched all of the blood dry and clot on her legs, she had been found.
Renee grabbed her wrist. "You sure know how to scare me." She chastised her, since it seemed like the entire town of Forks had taken the time out to look for this nine year old girl. "No more woods for you."
Like a stubborn and curious child, telling one what not to do had the opposite effect.
A few short days after her trek into the woods, Bella overlooked the silly line in the sand and trumped on through the trees.
She wasn't sure what drew her to it, but there was a tug that she could not ignore.
Soon, she reached the mammoth rock she had fallen over once before and sat down. Something in her told her to wait. Wait for whatever it was.
She had no qualms about sitting there quietly, but she wished a bird would chirp once in a while. There were usually birds all around when she came to this spot in the forest. That particular day though, they seemed to have been chased away.
In her spare time, Bella had been listening to bird sound CD's and cassettes from the library. Bella had thought it a helpful tool to know what kind of bird was in the area by identifying it by its calls and chirps. If she had ever lost her way, the warning sounds from the spotted towhee could guide her home.
She enjoyed bird watching as a hobby as well. There were endless species of this creature and she hoped to have the chance to set her eyes on them someday. The picture books and endless reference pages on them would be nothing compared to feeling the soft feathers under her fingertips.
But, there was neither sight nor sound; it seemed all of the animals that usually inhabit the trees and ground had retreated elsewhere.
Then, there was a noise that disturbed her silent revere, but it was not one of the flapping wings of any bird.
There was a rustling so small, that if she weren't in the all too quiet atmosphere she wouldn't have heard it approach.
As soon as it came into view, Bella's vision became blurry. It felt like someone had placed wrongly prescribed eyeglasses on her. Bella whimpered, trying to rub her eyes to see properly in front of her. She started panicking when her eyes would not focus.
"Help. Please someone help, I can't see!" Bella stood up, stretching her arms out in front of her, letting her arms see when she could not.
"It is only temporary." This…creature soothed her from a distance away. "You will be normal, once you leave the forest."
She opened her mouth to speak, her pink lips forming a perfect 'O'. Why was it doing this to her? "Please, fix my eyes. I can't see where I am going." Bella, like every child, was told about stranger danger and to never share any information about themselves. "Let me see or I will tell someone." Her voice grew higher and higher, emphasizing her point.
Through Bella's eyes, she saw what looked like a blurry finger come to its lips, silently asking her to keep its presence a secret. "Only little girls can see."
"I can't see you though. How could I know what to tell people if I can't see you?" Bella, stubborn as the trees rooted into the ground, questioned further. "Why is that?"
"Only special little girls. They mustn't tell anyone this is where I stay." The creature's voice sounded like the most crystal clear of voice one heard in audio books. It soothed better than a lullaby or bedtime story. Bella wouldn't have minded listening to it every night before she went into a deep slumber.
"But why do you live in the woods? Do you not have a house in town?" Bella had no concept of anyone being without a place to sleep. Did this creature not have a family? Food or books to read?
"In time a home will make itself known. This residence does not know of its existence yet. It'll take years to gestate."
Bella scrunched her face together, figuring out this strange man's puzzle. How does a home not know it exists; Homes are built, not born like humans.
"Flourish, nurture, grow." This creature handed her many options that she might be familiar with.
"I hope your home grows very soon…" Bella inclined him to tell her his name.
"My name will not be known to you just yet, Isabella." Her name rolled off his tongue as smooth as silk rubbed along a cheek. "I'm afraid we must part ways, but my return will not be long after this visit. Be gracious, dear Isabella."
And like that, the creature disappeared behind a tree. Bella's vision quickly returned little by little once the creature had gone its own way. She ran to the tree she had vaguely seen him vanish behind, hoping he had only tricked her and was merely hiding. But when she checked there? Nothing.
How had this creature escaped so quiet and quick?
How did this creature know her name?
Why was he a creature to her and not simply a man who lived in the woods?
Had she imagined this creature in the woods? It would not be surprising.
Pondering everything she had encountered, Bella slowly walked back to her house.
When Bella was five months old, her first words were spoken. Her parents weren't even sure they were real words as they were in Italian. Neither Renee nor Charlie spoke the language nor had the nationality in their veins.
When Bella was starting out her schooling, she skipped kindergarten at age five and went right to second grade.
In a town so small, even a bright little girl was the subject of scrutiny. Why was this girl so smart? People often speculated how such an intelligent girl came from a ho-hum-barely-above-a-high-school education household.
Her parents were average, non-contributing members of society. Renee was a new age-y type, often the subject of rumors around town herself. Renee was a good twenty years younger than her husband, Charlie. How did Charlie, a graying paunchy man capture the heart of a beautiful free spirited twenty something Renee?
One rumor was that she was a mail order bride. However, there were far too many occasions where Renee addressed Charlie in public freely. Plus, Charlie was a cop and mail order brides weren't exactly legal. Another one was Charlie had accidentally impregnated Renee and decided to wed her. He had been a single man for a long time and townsfolk wondered if he would ever take a wife.
No one ever considered the option that Charlie and Renee genuinely fell in love, decided to settle down and have a child.
When she was seven years old, Bella began her friendship with a few imaginary accomplices. Her biggest comrade was a girl named Annabelle and this friend continued to stay with her through the years. She would escort Annabelle throughout the house, allowing her to touch surfaces and acquaint herself with objects.
One day, Bella showed Annabelle the antique stove that Renee had bought for the kitchen. "Annabelle, this is the stove. Mother says we shouldn't play with it or we will get burned." Bella glanced around her, keeping a lookout for adults that might interrupt what she wanted to do. "But what parents don't know won't hurt them." She whispered into Annabelle's ear.
Bella turned the knob on the stove, clicking it on. She held Annabelle's hand out for her to touch the fire. "Don't be afraid." Her lispy little voice was supposed to encourage her imaginary friend.
At that moment, Renee's heels entered the hallway. Renee stood agape at the sight of her daughter, Bella cradling air as her hand inched closer to the hot blue flame.
"Isabella Marie Swan, what in heavens do you think you are doing?" Renee slapped Bella's hand away. Bella did not cry, for she knew that she was in the wrong. She knew she would be punished.
"Mother, I was showing my friend Annabelle the stove." Bella opened her arms out to the girl next to her, looking at her friend.
But, Annabelle was not next to Bella anymore. Bella's face fell and turned to horror when she saw her imaginary friend on the floor, her hands covering her eyes.
"Annabelle!" Bella knelt down, trying to pry her friend's hands apart for a glimpse at why she had fallen to the ground.
After a few tugs, Bella finally caught sight of what Annabelle was hiding. Annabelle's eyes had been burned by the fire.
"Oh Annabelle! I am so sorry!" Bella hugged her close. "Mother, we need to take---"
Bella turned around to address her mother and ask her for assistance with Annabelle, but Renee had exited the room. By the time Bella had looked back down at Annabelle, the imaginary friend's eyes seemed to return to their normal state; her eyelids weren't charred nor were her eyebrows singed off. But when Annabelle opened her eyes, they were that of a blind person.
Bella's lips quivered for her friend and she was ready to burst into tears, but Annabelle placed her hand on Bella's. She silent told her that it'll be alright, that there were far worse things in the world than being without sight.
Containing her excitement that had developed over the course of her walk back to her home was quite the task as Bella heaved the back glass sliding door open to enter her kitchen.
"Mother, there is something in the woods." Bella, clearly not doing her part in shrouding the creature's secret.
"No there isn't." Renee was washing up dishes at the sink.
"But there is. I saw it." Bella pointed to the spot where she had come from.
Renee sighed out. "What did it look like?"
Bella tried to find the words to describe this creature. Her eyes had seen it, but it was clouded in her vision. There were flashes of white, red, and black, but not in the places she had expected. It seemed to carry the voice of a male. Its stature and vague outline looked to be that of a male as well. "I believe it was a man, an unusual one."
Renee clearly had enough of Bella and her overactive imagination. "Bella dear, please stop going into the woods. We've told you several times."
Bella opened her mouth to protest, but her vocal chords would not work. Her voice was lodged in her throat and when she tried to clear it, it was as painful as trying to swallow a jawbreaker. She couldn't breathe and she worked overtime to bring in air through her nose. She gasped, but nothing would fill her mouth.
Bella coughed, willing the tension in her throat to dissipate. Was Bella dying? What had this creature done to her?
Renee rolled her eyes at her daughter, stubborn as ever to get her way. "Bella, do you understand me? No more going in the woods."
Bella's voice came back in a whoosh that nearly knocked her to her knees. Confused and devastated, Bella went up to her room without saying another word to her mother.
That night, Bella slept in her bed and dreamt of the creature in the woods. She saw herself, but yet didn't. Her dream self twirled around in a spring yellow dress with tiny white flowers along the skirt and bodice, the straps tied in little bows at the top.
The strange thing though was her ability to see only little bits of this creature. Instead of a creature, it was a man. She didn't see the man's face, but saw his hand come into her vision; it was as white as snow and not a normal color for a human. He lifted the flimsy strap that had fallen down her arm, putting it back in its rightful place.
She caught a brief glimpse of his features up close from his gentlemanly act. He had pale skin with locks of hair that reminded her of autumn time. His eyes a candy green apple. She could see that his face was handsome and she blushed when he took her hand and kissed it gently.
A week later, just as winter was settling in, Bella traveled back to the spot where the creature had come to her. Sitting on the rock, as if that would be the cue for the creature to appear, she impatiently waited.
Within a matter of minutes, she heard the telltale movement of leaves. She looked around for him, hoping he will allow her to have a clearer look at his face.
This would not be, for as soon as he reached the rock and the clearing that surrounded it, her vision became blurred. She sighed out her frustration.
"Dear Isabella, you look unlike yourself today."
"What do you mean?"
"You look…perturbed. Is something the matter?"
"Why is it that I can't see you? I want to know what you look like."
Bella searched every corner of her eye, hoping there would be a break in the cloudy vision she experienced.
"There are things you are too young to be aware of yet. When you have become of an appropriate age, you will be able to see clearly."
"How do you know I am too young? How do I know you are the right age yourself?" Bella wasn't about to go down without a fight. Too young was useless to her.
Bella heard the creature shuffle his feet toward her; she wasn't sure if he was giving her the benefit of the doubt and accentuating his movements. "Dearest Bell, patience is of a virtue and so are you." His tone was reverent and longing, hope and suffering.
Bella bit her lip; she was not going to get her wish, but maybe he'd be willing to compromise. "Can I touch you?"
The creature growled a quick and resonant, "No."
Bella was taken aback by the inhuman sound that had escaped the creature. "Oh. Well…I would love to know you're real somehow." She hoped that her imagination was not what brought him to her. She already had another fake figment of a friend that wasn't really walking and talking to handle, she wasn't sure she could take another one. Or the scrutiny of it from her parents for that matter.
As soft as a finger must be to touch a bubble without popping it, he spoke. "I'm as real as you want me to be."
As real as you want me to be. Bella couldn't begin to decipher what that meant. She wanted to think that it was entirely up to her whether she would believe that this was real.
He was offering an ultimatum. She could discontinue acknowledging him if she hadn't agreed to keeping him a mystery, not just from everyone else but from herself as well.
Bella had always been a terribly lonely child. Besides her friendship with Annabelle, Bella had isolated herself from her fellow classmates. She was an outcast in the first place for being the only nine year old in sixth grade. There was a special offer on occasion for Bella to take lunch with children her own age, but Bella insisted that she was perfectly content spending her lunches on the swings.
She could see herself with this creature as a friend. Her dream of him and her she had seemed real and possible.
She wanted this creature to be real, but how could she convince herself that he is real. What would make him a solid being on this Earth? "I will believe you exist, if you tell me your name."
The creature sucked in a deep breath through his nose, sounding oddly loud and unhuman-like; no one could suck in that much air through tiny nostrils. "Isabella, I'm afraid I can not tell you my name."
"Then I'm afraid that I can't believe you." Bella's hurt, anger and sadness forcing her to leave the creature stranded, she stood to walk away from it all. Even though there was something telling her that she had no choice but to continue associating with him.
"I am disappointing you, dearest Isabella. I shall show you I am real and maybe then, you will doubt no more."
"I do hope you find a way." Bella, leaving him with her wish, headed out of the woods and into her home.
Bella spent the majority of her afternoon turning the pages of The Birdwatcher's Companion. The shiny pages depicted all the birds that were out of reach for Isabella. Her mere presence in front of a bird would scare it away, even though she was as harmless as dirt. Her finger stretched to stroke the glossy photograph, imagining how the warbler's summer colored short feathers would feel under her touch.
Not more than a few hours after midnight, Bella awoke from sleep. A small sound had come from the corner of her room. She threw the covers off of her and stalked toward a glinting gold object. Upon closer inspection, she instantly recognized it. It was a gilded birdcage, with a real bird perched inside of it.
Bella blinked several times, willing it to either disappear or force herself to realize this was in front of her eyes. She clicked on a nearby lamp to discover what kind of bird resided inside.
The vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow that faded to a white belly. Its short beak that pecked on fruits, nuts and small insects. It was a warbler, the very one from her book she had read that afternoon. She had thought these birds had long migrated down south for the winter.
Hanging by a piece of red string from the cage was an envelope. Bella untied it and read the letter that was inside.
'Let the wings of the warbler flutter for you. To show you that I am indeed of this world.'
The bird shuffled closer to Bella inside the cage, as its wings sung a song in the wind.
Bella blushed and tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear. She continued reading.
'I do hope that my gesture has convinced you to join me more often. I will be waiting for you, my dearest Isabella.'
Bella felt she had no choice but to believe.
The creature resided in the woods and had no access to ask her mother or father about her bird hobby. Only someone who had checked her backpack where she kept her library rentals or even better, her room, would know that she loved to learn about birds.
And then, sitting there on her desk was a page in her book she had left open. The warbler. She could only suspect that he had entered her room or someone he knew had come and seen it.
For all that might not seem right about the trespassing of her room, Bella was grateful that at least one thing in her life was real.