Act XX: Love Never Dies
I could feel the rising excitement of the crowd outside the tiny walls of my dressing room. It had been a week since my performance in Florence, and my reunion with Aro and they had been the happiest seven days of my existence.
It felt like I was whole again, without having known before that I was torn apart. He completed me in every way even while he utterly exasperated me at times, with his absolute refusal to let me pay for myself, or to let me walk down the stairs alone, without my hand in his.
I guessed he still remembered my clumsiness of old.
But deep down, I knew there was another reason, one which drove me as well as him. Even now, so close to being together forever, I was deathly afraid something would come between us, and tear us apart irrevocably.
But now I was on the final performance of the tour, the last I would sing for a long time, and I felt only deep, overwhelming excitement at what lay ahead.
Tonight I was dressed in a gown even simpler than the one I had worn in Florence, in a bright scarlet. My hair was loose down my back, just brushing the small of my back. The dress clung to my curves, simple yet elegant. Apart from diamond earrings, I wore no other jewellery.
Taking a deep breath, I focussed on the red rose in my hand, tied with a black ribbon, on which was a note.
Aro's gift. I stroked the downy petals, contemplatively, musing over my life as I heard the other acts go on, entertaining the crowd.
In my twenty eight years of life, nothing could have prepared me for what I would go through tonight. Not James's bite, not Edward's love, not even Aro's.
Tonight I would become a vampire, and seal the bond I held with Aro forever.
Inhaling shakily, I froze when I felt cold hands slide over my arms, before I lifted my eyes to Aro's in the mirror.
"God, you scared me!" I exhaled shakily, as he smiled wryly, caressing my arms with his hands.
"Soon, no matter how quiet I am, you will never be surprised again," he murmured, bending his mouth to my neck, and kissing the pulse point lingeringly. I shuddered, and let myself relax back into his embrace. He sat down behind me on the stool, his legs outside mine, so sat with the 'V'. I relaxed back into him with a contented sigh, resting my hands on his arms as they came around my waist. "Nervous, amore mio?"
"Not really," I breathed. "Just reminiscent. Thinking about tonight…"
I felt his kiss on my temple, inhaling deep of the scent of my hair.
"Shall I tell you what's going to happen tonight?" he asked, some unknowable emotion seeping into his voice as his arms tightened. I nodded, suddenly breathless. "In moment, mere moments, drums will roll. There'll you stand, just like before. The crowd will hush, and then in one sweet rush…I will hear you sing once more."
"And then?" I asked, turning my head so I could watch his face over my shoulder. Hunger reigned supreme in the dominant planes of his face, screaming from his eyes as he brushed my lips with his own.
"Then I will take you home, ravish you within an inch of your life, then we shall seal our bond forevermore," he murmured, before kissing my lips with all the passion and desire that lay between us. Aro had shared my bed for the past week, and still I could not get enough of him. I doubted I ever would.
I had been glad I wasn't a virgin, the night we first made love. I had lost it to a close friend at Juilliard. It hadn't been love, but it had been comforting and pleasant, if not entirely painless.
But nothing could compare to the complete satiation I experienced under Aro's hands and mouth, and body. Even if he hadn't taken my virginity, he had certainly been my first climax.
But none of that mattered now, as I clung to my dark angel, and kissed him as longingly as he kissed me.
Abruptly he left my lips, and I heard the door of my dressing room open dimly, as a stage hand popped his head in.
"Miss Swan? It's time," he breathed, before closing the door again. Taking a deep breath, I stood and walked out the room.
To take my destiny in my hands, at long last.
When I stepped on stage, I immediately felt Aro's eyes on me. Awareness rushed over my skin, as I looked for him while the opening notes of my aria began to play. The song had a long introduction, so I had plenty of time to search for my lover.
There he was, standing in a long gallery, far above the audience, with his brothers alongside him. I smiled up at him, before lowering my eyes to the audience.
And catching sight of the three people sitting in the front row, watching me with proud, if cautious eyes.
Alice, Esme and Carlisle Cullen.
I heard my cue, and determinedly tore my eyes away from them, opening my mouth and letting the music within me swell up and rush forth, like a waterfall.
"Who knows when love begins, who knows what makes it start?
One day it's simply there, alive inside your heart.
It slips into your thoughts, it infiltrates your soul,
It takes you by surprise, then seizes full control.
Try to deny it, and try to protest.
But love won't let you go, once you've been possessed…
Love never dies, love never falters. Once it has spoken, Love is yours,
Love never fades, love never alters. Hearts may get broken, love endures.
Hearts make get broken, love endures.
And soon as you submit, surrender flesh and bone, that love takes on a life,
Much bigger than your own. It uses you at whim, and drives you to despair,
And forces you to feel more joy than you can bear.
Love gives you pleasure, and love brings you pain!
And yet when both are gone, love will still remain.
Once it has spoken, love is yours…
Love never dies, love never alters.
Hearts may get broken, love endures.
Hearts may get broken…"
I gathered myself for the final verse, raising my eyes to Aro's, lifting my arms to the heavens, as I sang with all my soul.
With all my love.
"Love never dies, love will continue!
Love keeps on beating, when you're gone!
Love never dies, once it is in you!
Life may be fleeting!
Love lives on!
Life may be fleeting!
Love lives on…"
Tumultuous applause broke out, as I curtseyed deeply, feeling utterly drained as if my very soul had left me. Taking a shuddering breath, I glanced once more at Aro, before I turned and swept from the stage for the last time.
Still gowned in the scarlet dress, I joined the after-party, mingling with the crowd. Flashes from cameras blinded me at first, as I made my way towards the raven-haired head I glimpsed at the fringe of the crowd.
Until I found my path blocked by three very familiar faces.
"Carlisle, Esme, Alice," I inclined my head politely. "I hope you enjoyed the show?"
"Very much so," Carlisle breathed, a proud smile on his face. All three were dressed well, Carlisle in a tuxedo which highlighted his gold hair, Esme in a lavender dress which reached to her ankles, and Alice in a blue halterneck which reached her knees. I looked around for Rosalie, Emmet, Jasper or God forbid, Edward but there was a distinct lack of Cullen.
"You sounded like an angel," Alice told me enthusiastically, and in that moment I decided I just didn't have the energy to maintain a grudge against them. Soon, I would have a new life, and I didn't want the ghosts of the past to rule my future.
"Thanks. How did you know?" I asked, looking towards Alice. She smiled her mischievous pixie grin.
"I had a vision of course. We phoned Aro and asked if we could come and see you one last time. He agreed," she told me quickly, and I nodded.
"You look so beautiful, Bella," Esme told me with a motherly smile, an odd kind of yearning in her golden eyes. "You've blossomed into an incredible young woman."
She came towards me, and I couldn't stop myself from hugging her back. Tears started in my eyes, and when I drew back, I guessed Esme would have been crying too.
"Where's-?" I began to ask, but Carlisle cut across me.
"At home. Emmet, Rosalie and Jasper sent their regrets and their love, but they had to remain at home and watch you on the TV. Edward is…" he trailed off, and I understood.
"Edward is Edward," I completed. "Give my love to them when you see them."
I looked over to where I knew Aro was standing, becoming impatient to get to his side. Carlisle smiled an understanding smile.
I felt his hand on my shoulder, as I turned and looked up into his ochre eyes.
"Bella," he began. "We made a mistake all those years ago, a mistake we can't undo much as we would like to. Even if you can't forgive us, then please…I hope you have a wonderful life. It's the least you deserve."
I sighed, looking at the inhumanly beautiful faces around me, before standing on my toes and kissing Carlisle on the cheek.
"Thank you," I breathed. Alice and Esme both hugged me gently.
"Be happy," Esme whispered, pressing my hand before stepping back and taking her husband's arm.
"Keep him in line. God knows it's about time someone did," Alice put in cheekily, nodding towards Aro. I laughed in agreement.
"Oh don't worry, I have every intention to," I replied with a wink. Carlisle shook his head.
"Where has our sweet little Bella gone?" he shook his head, as I turned away into the crowd.
In my heart, as I left them there, I knew I would see them again.
I watched my Isabella as she left the Cullens and made her way toward me. From the happy smile on her lips, I surmised the meeting had gone well.
All to the good. Tonight was a night for letting go of the past.
I had let go of mine, now Isabella had to let go of hers.
Now we could start our forever.
I watched my love as she walked unerringly through the crowd towards me, with a presence and a poise that only age could bring. Her long brunette hair shone in the gentle light, streaks of auburn and gold gleaming.
Her sumptuous figure was lovingly displayed by that scarlet dress, where it clung to her curvy figure, and down to her knees, where the skirt flared out to trail behind her on the floor.
I had already started to plan exactly how I would divest her of that dress tonight.
Caius glanced at me, then back at Isabella as she made her way toward us, before he chuckled.
"Poor Isabella. I almost feel sorry for her," he commented off-handedly, while I sent him a narrow-eyed glance.
"Don't. She's more than a match for me, brother mine," I growled, at which one eyebrow rose.
"I take it back. Poor you," he grinned, and I even thought I glimpsed an amused expression flit over Marcus's face.
"And what are you three gentlemen whispering about?" Isabella's soft voice suddenly asked, and we glanced up to find her already upon us. I caught my breath at her gentle beauty once more, as I always did.
"Nothing, nothing at all," Caius replied easily. I was surprised how quickly my brothers had taken to Isabella, but then again I suspected she earned their grudging respect when she managed to evade them for ten years.
It was rather an achievement.
"Hmm, now why don't I believe you?" Isabella asked, with a wicked gleam in her eye.
"No reason whatsoever," Caius replied, but I knew that equally wicked grin on his face. "Your performance was sublime, Isabella."
"Thank you, Caius. And you Marcus?" she inquired, looking towards my third brother. To my surprise, he awoke from his usual bored mood enough to say,
"You are a goddess of music, Isabella,"
Caius and I stared at him, before Isabella's next comment had me looking towards her hastily.
"Hmm, maybe I'm taking up with the wrong brother-" she began teasingly, before I twined her waist with my arm, hauling her to my side.
"Don't even think about it," I growled in her ear, as she shivered deliciously in the circle of my arm. "You're mine."
"And I feel that's our cue to depart, brother mine." Caius muttered, looking to Marcus. "Good luck tonight, Isabella."
"Thank you, Caius," she inclined her head gracefully.
"May the dawn see the Volturi with a new sister," Marcus put in, before he vanished into the crowd. I distantly saw our Guard detach themselves from the shadows to follow him out. Caius lingered.
"Try not to enjoy yourself too much tonight, Brother," he murmured for my ears only, before he too disappeared into the crowd with a wicked smile.
"What have you done to them?" I muttered, gazing after my brothers puzzlingly. Isabella laughed in my ear, as I shook my head and began to steer her out of the crowd. "You're a bad influence."
"Hark who's talking," she retorted, sliding her arms around my neck, kissing me very lightly on the lips, before leading the way out of the after party.
The moment we entered the cool tunnels leading down to the car park, I caught Isabella's arm and pushed her into the wall. I muffled her exclamation of surprise beneath my lips, as I hungrily plundered her mouth. She sank against me with a soft sigh, returning my passion with her own sweet brand.
"You were mesmerising, amore mio," I breathed when next our lips parted. "I was entranced."
"I sang that for you. Only for you," she replied, resting her head on my chest.
"It was an apt choice, for us. And I have a feeling our love will never die," I whispered into her hair. Isabella raised her head, and looked me in the eye.
"Never," she replied softly, before raising her lips to mine in an inexpressibly tender kiss.
In that one kiss, we sealed our devotion to each other, and reaffirmed it. Without warning, I swept her legs out from beneath her, and lips still joined, I ran with her to the car.
Aro held me nestled in his arms until we reached the house I had been staying at for the duration of the week.
It was Christabelle's old house.
I led the way inside, up the staircase with no preamble, just purpose in my heart.
Outside it was dark, the pitch-black night hemming in the little havens of light and warmth which were the houses of Volterra.
I didn't bother to switch the lights on, when I entered my bedroom. I just glided into the centre of it, and waited.
Sure enough, Aro's hand slid around my waist and pulled me back into his arms, hard against his body. I gasped but sank against him, very slightly shifting against his body, and the hard evidence of his desire pressed against my lower back.
"Aro…" I began, but he smoothly stopped me in my tracks when I felt his hands on the fastenings of my dress.
"Hush, Isabella. Tonight…is for you. Your triumph and the beginning of your new life," he whispered in my ear, gently kissing the skin beneath it. I relaxed back into his arms, as his free hand left my back, and began to guide the dress down my body.
"Our new life," I corrected him softly, leaning my head back against his shoulder, as I closed my eyes in bliss at his cool hand gliding down my body.
The dress collapsed in a pool of scarlet at my feet, and before I knew it, I was standing naked in the moonlight. Aro shifted in front of me, and knelt at my feet.
"Marcus was right. You are a goddess, and I fully intend to worship you until the end of time," he breathed, looking up at me reverently.
Barely able to think with his fingers tracing up the back of my thighs, I shivered in the cool air.
Aro bent his head and kissed my stomach, lingering on the slight swell of it, before rising to his feet in such a show of harnessed power, I felt my breath leave me, as he pressed my naked body against his still fully clothed one. He took my lips with a voracious hunger, steadily fanning the flames building beneath my skin. I broke away, away from his arms, and lifted my hands to the buttons of his suit jacket.
"My turn," I breathed, quickly undoing the garment and sliding it off. He tamely let me undress him, yet his eyes warned me time was running out.
With another delicious shiver, I finished quickly, stepped around and behind him, spreading my hands over his strong back, and planting a kiss at the nape of his neck.
"You're treading on thin ice, Isabella," Aro growled, as I stepped back around, and pulled myself against him.
"I think I'm more than ready to fall through it," I replied, leaning up and taking his bottom lip between my teeth, simultaneously pressing my body to his. His eyes glittered with pure desire, as he bent his head to mine.
The moment our lips touched, it was like a dam broke between us, and a wellspring of passion and craving before untouched gushed forth.
Aro's hands hungrily explored my body in the same way mine did his, as he yanked me off my feet and twined my legs around his waist. Breaking off our kiss, I caught his eye as I brushed my core against his body, biting my lip when I heard his moan. Abruptly, my back was against the wall, and I had only a moment's warning, before he thrust into me. I cried out, loving the feeling of my body stretching to accommodate him, as he withdrew then returned, his face buried in my neck.
I held him to me, my fingers entwined in his hair, as I cried out with each deep thrust, each abrasion of my skin by the wood at my back. I didn't care that it hurt a little, since it only added to the pleasure before I finally broke.
The waves of satiation washed over me, only to leave me yearning for more when I felt Aro still hard within me. He raised his head, panting against my lips, as he kissed me tenderly.
"Act 1," he gasped, before withdrawing from me completely, and taking me in his arms. He carried me over to the bed, and laid me down on its sapphire sheets, the silk cool against my sweaty skin. He followed me down, but when I went to reach for him, he scooted back. I frowned at him, but I was too boneless to do anything other than lie there, prey to my own vulnerability. "No, Isabella. Tonight it is my night to worship you, in all your mortal glory before I make you immortal," he growled, taking hold of my knees and shifting them apart. I felt a wave of arousal rush over my skin, as he moved back up my body and kissed me heatedly, tilting my head back against the bed to deepen the angle of the kiss.
Aro broke from my lips, his mouth dotting kisses down my jawline, then down my neck, sucking on the soft skin and soothing it with his tongue when it reddened beneath his attentions. My breathing accelerated with excitement when he kissed down over my sternum, between my breasts before his breath ghosted over them. Flicking me a wicked grin, he set his lips to one, taking it into his mouth, while his hand rose to cup, then knead the other one.
At the same time, my breath left me entirely when I felt his fingers against my core, cupping me then penetrating me so I arched beneath his body. An ecstatic cry left my lips, desire rapidly building beneath my skin once more, a now familiar pressure pooling in my stomach.
Suddenly, his lips and hands left my body, as I moaned in disappointment, my every cell throbbing. I tried to sit up and reach for him, but Aro evaded my hands and sent me a warning glance.
"Put your hands down, Isabella, and leave them there. Or do you want me to tie them up?" he asked, and I sent him a defiant look, unafraid.
"Try me," I grinned.
"Oh I intend to, in the centuries to come," he growled, before he lowered his head to my skin again, just below the rise of my breasts, kissing down as I shifted beneath him.
His breath ghosted over my abdomen and down, when I froze in anticipation. He knelt and reached up with his hand, dragging it down my body from the hollow of my neck to my hips, making me arch upwards, thrusting my hips into the air. He took hold of them, holding me still as he bent his head and I felt his breath against my core.
His tongue surged in, and I jerked, crying out in ecstasy. My dewey skin rippled, as the fire at my core began to melt, when he withdrew his tongue, to replace them with his fingers, thrusting them in once, twice, before taking them away and penetrating me with his tongue again.
For hours it seemed he worshipped my body, conducting a symphony for me out of my carnal desires, with I the solo performer, as my body sang with tension and desire, ready to crescendo, while my cries hung shivering on the air.
Finally the molten heat at my core erupted for the second time that night, as I climaxed, and felt my limbs soften, finally shattered.
He reared over me, our lips brushing as my body awoke once more at the touch of his body against mine. He slid in only a little way, before withdrawing, teasing my body, so that void within me pulsated and begged for more, as I cried out. I clenched my hands on his back, trying to bring him down to me, but he caught my hands and imprisoned them either side of my head, before bending down for a kiss, still teasing my body with his.
Using my feet, I raised my body to caress his, pressing my breasts against his chest, forcing him to penetrate deeper into my body. Hearing his groan, I grinned against his mouth and clasped him between my thighs, using my inner muscles to tighten around him. He caught his breath, and then surged into me, taking my mouth and my body in one devastating invasion.
I bucked my hips in time to his rhythm, my aching body ravished beyond remembrance, as I arched and cried out into the empty darkness around us, the only sounds that of our heated lovemaking.
Looking up into Aro's passion glazed eyes, I struggled to think straight.
If I hadn't been so cynical, I might've believed I was living in a fairytale. The ugly duckling, who had turned into a swan, and found her prince at last.
I almost laughed, except my mouth covered by Aro's, as I felt his rhythm increase, the intense pleasure of being filled by him so completely, utterly claimed, intensifying tenfold.
For the fourth time that night I shattered, crying out, clasping my dark angel to me when I felt his own release, as he surged into me one last time.
Panting heavily, I lay still for a few minutes, relishing his heavy weight on me, as we recovered.
I nuzzled his ear, catching his attention.
"Do it now," I breathed, struggling to think well enough after that earth-shattering few hours. "I want you to make me immortal, while you're still inside me, surrounding me, loving me."
"As you desire," he growled in my ear, raising his head. He tenderly caressed my lips with his own. "Now we'll have our forever."
"Yes. I love you, Aro, now and forever," I whispered, stroking his raven hair out of his face. He pressed a kiss to my palm, before stroking my face tenderly.
"As I love you, mia stella. Are you ready?" he asked, as I caught my breath. I moved my neck to the side, presenting it to him, even arching up to meet his lips eagerly.
"See you when I wake up," I quipped, as he bent his head to my neck, and then I felt absolute fiery agony as his teeth sheared into my skin. I felt the complete torture that was my blood draining away, before Aro drew back.
The venom quickly built in my system, even before Aro licked the edge of the bite on my neck with his tongue, sealing it, before bending his head to the other side, and biting there too.
I dimly looked up at the ceiling, as fire tore through me, burning me to a crisp as the change started.
I was vaguely aware of Aro lifting from me, and then cradling me in his arms, as I screamed and writhed, arching into his arms.
The pain was so intense, that my eyes shot open, and I forced myself to focus on Aro's beloved eyes, anguished at my pain.
"I…love….you," I forced out, before I closed my eyes, and focussed on not moving a muscle.
Maybe I was a fairytale princess, getting her happily ever after, but this time there was no 'the end' at the close of this story.
No, the end of this story was just the beginning.
For us both.
It had been the past which had brought us together, and now that story was coming to a close, and another one beginning.
The story of our eternal future.
AND that's a wrap people! I really hope you enjoyed the story, I adored writing it for you. All I can say is thank you so much for the support, the reviews and the general utter coolness which is my fanfiction readers.
You are awesome.
And no complaints about this chappie please. It is M rated, so just get over it.
Hopefully I'll be updating Siren in a few days.
I was a bit hesitant over this chapter, seeing as I haven't written any good lemons in a long time, not since the ALSL Get Off In Volterra challenge, and I hope I haven't lost my touch.
Thank you all again, and hope you enjoyed the story.
The Last Disclaimer: I hereby declare I do not own any of the characters, symbols, devices, names, places, or songs used in this fanfiction. They all belong to their respective owners.
The lucky b******s!