Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or any of the characters, else I wouldn't be writing fanfiction of it.
Story: After Edward leaves Bella, she's lost. Hanging only by a thread of hope in the form of the Volturi, she heads to Volterra, Italy with her death (and maybe her rebirth) in mind. There, three brothers will start to compete for her heart.
Set AU of New Moon.
Spoilers: For Twilight and some of New Moon, for sure.
Warnings: Smut in the future, language, violence, slightly suicidal thoughts, etc…
Pairings: Aro/Bella, Marcus/Bella, Caius/Bella, Demetri/Athenodora, Felix/Heidi, Charlie/Sulpicia
Stairway to Heaven
Chapter Six: The Smile When You Tore Me Apart
Charlie was nowhere near prepared for what was happening. One moment, he was with Bella, Heidi, and Demetri, and then the next Bella was having an attack and they were suddenly all but practically flying away from where they were.
And before Heidi and he could catch up with Demetri and Bella, they were stopping and Charlie wasn't sure why and what was wrong now. All he knew was that he was really panicking and he wasn't with his daughter who he really needed to be with right then.
And then he saw Sulpicia there, and he was starting to get a clue.
"Heidi, I will take care of Charlie from now on," Sulpicia said softly. "I don't really attend the balls anyway. You may join in with the festivities."
Heidi gave a small bow and gently handed Charlie over to Sulpicia, who resumed carrying him. It was quite undignified and he would prefer not to be carried like this, but it seemed he had no choice.
"Sulpicia, what's wrong? What's happening? Why was Bella freaking out?" he tried not to sound demanding, but his daughter looked really upset and he wasn't there with her to try to help or comfort her in any way.
"I believe she caught sight of the Cullen clan," she murmured and he flinched.
God, he wished he was a vampire and could beat the hell out of those jerks. They hurt his daughter –they should pay for that. Bella was his precious daughter, and they hurt her to the point that she seemed almost unable to be brought back.
If it hadn't been for these vampires, she might not have ever even gotten back to him and back to herself.
"We'll 'eat out' in the town then," Sulpicia suddenly decided. "Much better than being stuck in this stuffy castle."
When he still looked reticent, she gently patted his hand. "Demetri will take care of her, Charlie," she squeezed his hand in comfort. "He'll make sure she's alright, until one or all of the brothers comes to see her. You know Aro, Marcus, and even sour ol' Caius always take care to make sure Bella is well cared for. This time with be no different, Cullen or no Cullen."
Charlie sighed, but finally agreed to go with Sulpicia and let the others take care of Bella for now. He was quite sure he'd still fret over her while in town, but he wasn't as knowledgeable about the Cullens (like he thought he was) or the situation with them and his Bella. He could only hope the others had a better handle on this than he did.
His thoughts were racing, and had been since Bella and Demetri had left Heidi and him behind. And, well, his thoughts (particularly loud because of the panic and worry, as well as the seriousness of the situation) were like an alarm bell going off right next to Edward Cullen's ear, who more than freaked out at the brief vestiges of thoughts that had something about 'Bella,' 'hurt,' 'panicking,' filtering into his head rapidly, and then were gone as if they were never being thought of. In fact, Edward wasn't even sure he had heard those thoughts, and maybe he was going mad.
He wouldn't be surprised. He missed Bella so much it tore at his undead heart.
He had even thought he'd smelled Bella's scent! Nothing but madness was plaguing him, ever since leaving his beloved Bella behind. But she had to be safe. She had to be protected. This was all for her own good.
It had to be.
As he kept trying to reassure himself, Alice frowned and looked thoughtful. And somewhere else in the castle –away from them –Bella turned into Demetri's chest and couldn't help sobbing in his arms. He was more than irritated at this turn of events, and he hoped it didn't ruin all the progress he and the others had worked hard on with her. He inwardly cursed those stupid Cullens and imagined a fiery death for each of them.
"It is alright, Bella," he murmured to her as he held her, thinking quickly on how to help her or even just distract her.
He wished his lover was there. If Athenodora was there, she would definitely know what to do and –
Ah yes. His silly beloved would no doubt be inwardly cackling in triumph while cooing over Bella and he, and while encouraging less than proper (but extremely pleasurable) activities. And that cackling in triumph would have all to do with the fact he, representative of the Volturi, was covering Bella in his scent, in Volturi scent, and marking her as theirs.
She was theirs –Volturi.
Damn it, she was fucking Volturi and they were never going to let her go.
And Edward would ironically be mere feet away, in the same castle, as they devoured Edward's precious, willing lamb, and kept her with them forever.
So he crushed his lips against hers, restraining his vampire strength, and ravished her mouth. He kind of wished the Kings were there –it would no doubt be amusing to see them growl and snarl at him, and he and Athenodora would smirk and laugh at them and their fastidiousness.
The brothers should thank him (and Athenodora) of course. They were doing all the hard work for the Kings, so they should definitely be thankful.
Helping Bella along, and getting her over that silly vampire boy –they better be damned grateful.
His hands traveled down to her hips, squeezing with just the right amount of roughness. Demetri also made sure to keep kissing her and not pulling back for long periods of time, because he wanted her lightheaded and heady. He'd just grabbed one of her legs and hooked it around his waist, about to maneuver her onto her bed, when they were interrupted.
"What do you think you are doing to her?" the female's voice was close to being a snarl, and he exaggerated his sigh. Hearing the voice, his lips curled into a sneer.
Without bothering to extricate himself from a dazed Bella or turn around fully, he merely twisted his torso slightly to face Alice Cullen with a sneering look, tilting his head at an angle to face her and narrow his burgundy eyes at the pixie-like vampire.
"I do believe you were interrupting something," he drawled lazily, acting completely indifferent and uncaring in front of the other. "And intruding into this private area."
"I think you should remove your person from Bella right now," Alice growled, taking a warning step forward.
He opened his mouth, but was surprised to be cut off by Bella, who (he hadn't noticed) had become fully aware of the situation and gotten out of her daze already.
"Demetri, would you mind leaving me to deal with her?" she asked him softly, and he really didn't want to.
But she'd asked. And he could feel just how important this was to her.
Demetri sighed again, this time in resignation. He threaded his hand through her hair in fondness and offered her a gentle smile, ignoring the shocked look of the other vampire in the room.
"Bella, be sure to be safe and get out everything that you want. I will be with Athenodora in the Ball, but rest assured I will have Felix and Alec or Jane come here and hover outside your door, if you need them."
He started to leave at a human pace, passing Alice and glaring at her in warning as he went through the doors reluctantly.
Alice turned back to the human girl, who she dearly cared for and who wouldn't look at Alice at all.
"Bella," she called out softly. "Could you…please look at me?"
Bella's head slowly lifted and they finally locked eyes. Bella looked exhausted and worn out, and Alice had remorse coloring her face and highlighting her body with every position of her limbs. But she tried to convey her deep affection for the girl, just as Bella wanted to convey the hurt she was still feeling at the other.
"I don't have any words that can make up a good excuse to you," Alice acknowledged sadly.
Bella looked away again. "How did you find me?" she deflected.
"I smelled your scent, as Edward did," Alice confessed. "But unlike him, I didn't dismiss it as some kind of hallucination. I took a moment and let the others go on ahead, before doing my best to track down and trace your scent all the way to here. It was hard, as every other scent in the castle, vampires and whatnot alike, were beginning to mask it."
Alice gave her a wry but grim smile. "I snuck off to go looking for you. Here I am," she tossed her arms up halfheartedly in the universal gesture for that statement.
"And here I am," Bella said bitterly, looking at Alice again, but this time with tears in her eyes. "Here I am. Broken and once unwanted. And then the Volturi, the ones all of you warned me about, were the ones doing their best to pick up the pieces and try to put me together! They want me and they care for me, and they want to keep me forever! Even though it can be really scary how possessive and aggressive they are about me, at least they won't toss me aside! They haven't and I know they won't…" her angry and hurt tirade trailed off into a whisper.
Alice felt like crying, and hated that vampires couldn't.
She was by Bella's side in a flash, and gently touched Bella's shoulders, leading her to sit on the bed and had sat down next to her. Reaching to slowly grasp Bella's face, she stared into tearful eyes and felt venom well up in hers.
"Oh dear Bella," she murmured. "I have always believed you would end up being my sister, no matter what. No matter Edward's stupid delusions and ideals of protecting you. I've always known you would have a better life and things would turn out perfect for you in the end…even in the embraces of the Volturi."
And Bella broke down and hugged the one connection she had to her old life with the family she had desperately wanted to be accepted by and be a part of.
Athenodora knew something was wrong the moment she saw Demetri enter into the ballroom. She knew that he would have never left behind Bella, with or without her requesting it. He cared deeply for their human girl, and being tasked by staying with her side meant that he would make sure he never even left it for a second.
So she pursed her lips and waited as he made a beeline for her dark corner, where she had been insisting on hiding herself the whole time.
"Why aren't you with Bella?" she frowned at him.
He frowned back, upset (though she knew that it wasn't towards her). "Alice Cullen found us. And intruded into the room. And interrupted me attempting to distract Bella about seeing all of them by ravishing her in the confines of her room."
"Too bad you didn't succeed. It would have been even better if 'dear' Edward could be privy to the scene or the aftermath or even witness us parading her around with her so obviously ours."
A brief smirk flitted across Athenodora's lips at the thought. Demetri shared the brief smirk.
"A shame indeed," he let out a dark chuckle. "I would have liked to have seen the expression on that boy's face, if he knew that his precious Bella was not only now our precious Bella, but also scandalously cavorting around with us evil Volturi in debauchery."
Oh, Athenodora had to giggle sadistically at that.
"Anyway, Bella asked for me to leave so she could deal with the Seer. I did so reluctantly, but I think that Bella might really need this after all," Demetri went back on track, still a bit unhappy with the situation.
"Well…now that you're here," Athenodora started out mischievously, a sly smile forming on her lips. "I see a mind-reader in need of tormenting."
Demetri grinned cruelly.
Edward was miserably standing by the "food" tables, away from everyone and avoiding his family. He wanted nothing more than to make a scene and get the Volturi angry at him, forcing their hand and getting them to rip him apart and burn the pieces to rid him of the unbearable pain he was going through with the absence of his Bella. He'd once had that thought when he'd thought that James had killed her, and he was now revisiting his old thoughts of suicide by the Volturi's hands. If he asked, would they grant it?
His head whipped upwards from his staring at the ground to search out his family, who all looked preoccupied, and further delving into their mind didn't reveal any thoughts relating to Bella.
'…still remember her doe-eyed brown eyes…'
Scattered words, phrases –too much for him to handle, too much remembrances of a fragile human girl he loved.
Madness! It was all madness!
Edward was going mad, that was it. He missed and loved his beautiful Bella so much that it was driving him insane, and he was hearing and relating nonsensical words and thoughts of these frivolous vampires to his beloved angel.
Hurriedly, he blindly grabbed for a cup of blood on the table behind him and drunk it down quickly, grimacing and simultaneously reeling back in a high as he tasted premium grade human blood.
Dear God, he was losing it completely.
He slammed the cup back on the table and away from him, wildly looking around and frantically dipping into thoughts and also at the same time muffling them from his head, desperate for any sign of Bella's presence in their mind or to drive away any more coincidental thoughts of the others into driving him into further madness.
The thoughts from before were recycling and he was repeatedly hearing them like a broken record.
Edward wanted to clutch at his head and scream. A flash of a female brunette with pale skin flittered through his mind, and he violently swung his head to and fro, trying to see who had visualized Bella. Of course he wasn't absolutely sure, and he knew that he was grasping at nothing –he hadn't seen the girl's face, but he knew it was Bella. He knew it was her!
Did the Volturi know? Had they found out? Had they come after her? Was she no longer safe? What if they had taken her? What if they'd drained –
He tore out of that room, ignoring baffled stares and shocked looks and irritable glares. Edward didn't stop until he was out of the castle and had fled to the safe confines of the forest to sort himself out.
He was quite certain he was going insane.
And yet Edward had also missed several shared smirks and very satisfied members of the Volturi Guard, who were all mentally celebrating and patting their backs a job well done.
Athenodora and Demetri both gave each other a silent toast, basking in their success and exultance.
"I see," Alice murmured. "So Charlie is here as well. That's…amazing. I would never have thought the Volturi would keep not only a human alive, but two at that. Not only around them, but also keeping their own laws at bay, even though they'll eventually turn you in the end. Which is just as amazing, given that they usually choose the 'kill' route for everyone."
"Yeah…they can be harsh," Bella muttered, shaking her head a little.
"We've moved back to Forks," Alice revealed tiredly. "It's not the same without you, of course," the vampire gave a small smile at the other at that.
"How are the people there taking Charlie and mine's disappearances anyway?" Bella was actually rather curious about that. And she figured she could tell Charlie about it.
Alice winced. "It was…a bit of a shock to find out that you went missing, and then Charlie 'rashly' took off after you," she understated purposefully. "The people in Forks are still talking about it, even though it's been, according to them, some months since the two of you went missing, one after the other."
What Alice didn't mention was all the side whispers the people of Forks said, thinking none of them could hear, about Bella's zombie-like and then broken and robotic state after they had left. The broken smiles, the broken stares.
None of the Cullens missed the side looks, the snide comments under people's breaths to each other, or the outright glares (mostly from the Quileute people they managed to glimpse). All aimed at the Cullen family, blaming them for first Bella's miserable state, and then the two Swans' disappearances.
None of the actions of the people truly bothered them, but the content of why in them and what happened to Bella and her father had more than caused the entire family grief.
They had been trying their best to look for the two missing father and daughter, utilizing whatever tools and methods at their disposal. They had only managed to find out that the two of them, at separate times, had gotten on a plane to Italy.
She didn't know why none of them had thought of the Volturi. Probably because they hadn't wanted to.
To them, it would have certainly meant certain death for the two humans.
"Alice," Bella hesitantly called out to her. "Did you…did you know I would meet the Volturi and be here with them?"
Alice gave her a soft smile. "I did, sort of. I had a vision of you with some of the Volturi, smiling and looking really happy. It was a little after Edward and all of us had left Forks behind. It was just that small scene, where all of you were having fun together –as strange as it was to see any of the Volturi having fun. I didn't see anything about Charlie or any details at all. And after that small vision, I chose not to look any more into your future. I made that decision, and I decided it was best –so you could find happiness and Edward wouldn't accidentally see and come after you and interfere."
Bella understood that Alice must have gotten that vision when Bella had remembered the Volturi and made the decision to come to them after graduation and ask for her death back then.
"I think I should thank you," Bella reached over and embraced the other female, hiding her face into Alice's marble-like, cold neck. "I think I've found myself really happy here, and a real home with the others."
Alice's face screwed up and she felt like crying again. But again, a vampire's inability to truly cry impeded here once more…
"I wish you could have found that with us," Alice breathed out and squeezed the other, barely remembering to not crush the other, as much as she'd wanted to squeeze Bella tightly and never let go.
Bella wished that too, but though she'd sort of made peace with Alice, she hadn't yet made peace with the others.
The two of them continued their hesitant chat until the Ball was over, and Alice finally had to leave. She unwillingly did so, promising she wouldn't say a word about Bella's presence there to anyone, and then Bella was left alone in her room, having too many thoughts to herself in the quiet and stillness she was left with.
Started 1/12/14 – Completed 1/13/14
A/n: So there's two more chapters for the "Edward Recovery arc" and then Bella will be ready to move on and a new arc will start. More on the Cullens in the next two chapters! I hope everyone's still enjoying this, and please review!