Title: La Foudre
Summary: Forced to remain in Volterra and clinging to humanity with shaking fingers, Bella Swan finds herself entrapped in Aro's games. [Aro/Bella]
Author's Note: Bella/The Volturi fics have become something of a trend recently, and I have apparently climbed onto the bandwagon. This fic, however, might be unique in the fact that it will not have a happy ending for Bella.
The title translates to 'The Lightning' and is the French name of the Tarot card 'The Tower', which has all sorts of symbolism that meshes with this story.
"You have forgotten that actions have consequences, my young friend." The air stilled and thickened as Aro's pronouncement shredded the tautened stillness.
"What do you mean?" Her lover snarled his defiance, but the earth-haired girl in his arms could scarcely chew back her whimpers. There was no need for gifts to see how this would end; her blood would run in pretty rivulets through cleverly concealed culverts. In this moment, it was not death that quickened her pulse, but the certain separation from the bronze boy who clung to her with savage tenacity.
"We cannot simply allow you to depart with Miss Swan. You have shown no intention to change her, and I doubt that this little one—" Aro spared a gesture and a glance at towards Alice, "—will defy your wishes."
"You have my word that I—"
"Edward, Edward, you have never been a liar. Do not allow love to change that charming quirk." The immortal who fancied himself a god glanced around the mausoleum of his throne room, pantomiming a search for alternatives.
"Because you are the son of a very old and very dear friend, I will offer you a unique opportunity. My dear Bella will remain here, with us. We will turn her and train her into the peerless creature I am certain she can become with our tutelage. Perhaps, when she is old enough, she can make the choice to return to you." The ancient's feathery words were serene, the rounded consonants masking barbs that tore the chambers of Bella's heart asunder. Already, a muffled growl was threatening to claw its way from Edward's throat as he foresaw the ultimatum to follow.
"If, indeed, you choose to make a fuss, as I see you long to, I will be forced to let you bear the full brunt of our justice. Your family was complicit in informing this mortal about our world, and they will, of course, suffer the consequences. Would you prefer this outcome?"
Caius' smile was hideously eager, a rictus of obscene satisfaction that belonged on the visage of a gargoyle, perched high on the parapets of a gothic cathedral. The threat would readily be turned into ash-streaked reality, Bella realized, turning pleading eyes to Edward.
He hesitated for a heartbeat, and she found her voice, tremulous and tumbling but sufficient for the situation at hand.
"I'll stay. I'll stay with you, as long as you want. Just—don't. Don't hurt any of the Cullens."
"Ah, how remiss of me to address you, Edward. It seems that the lady has a far clearer head," Aro crooned. "Bella, my sweet, I am more than delighted to accept your conditions. Your aberrant friends will remain unharmed."
"And Edward and Alice—they can leave safely?" A flush of crimson across her cheekbones accompanied this tide of courage, and Bella could see the hunger rising in tendrils behind Aro's eyes.
"If they wish it, I will purchase their return tickets to Washington myself."
Once more, Bella's lips rounded to voice another request, threadbare with desperation but the ebony-haired ancient before her raised a twig-thin finger to his lips. "You have many requests for one whose fate lies at my mercy," he remarked gracefully. "Will you allow my requirements to be heard?"
A mute nod spurred his speech.
"The Cullens will remain in America and concoct an explanation for this young lady's family. Adolescent runaways are so common nowadays, it really is a pity." Aro's glance fell sharply upon his captive audience, before he continued. "If you choose to make the mistake of returning to Italy under any pretense, the retribution will be harsh. Miss Swan will rejoin you if and when the Volturi allow it."
A pause, a heartbeat where Bella expected some act of madness from Edward, or perhaps divine intervention, but nothing came of it but the falling chill of brittle acceptance. Disappointment ghosted elegant fingers down her spine; she did not know who it was that had provoked that sentiment.
"Lovely," Aro announced, a cat's grin gleaming above clasped hands. "Demetri, if you would take our newest guest to her room."
"I can't—I can't say goodbye?" Gnawing at her lip, Bella turned in a whirl of dark hair and metal-scented fear to face the honey-eyed immortal who held her heart between his palms.
"Miss Swan, your capacity for the dramatic is irking Caius and upsetting Marcus. I would advise decorum in your comportment before those who have significantly less patience than Carlisle and his ilk."
Demetri was at her side now, flinty hands resting upon her shoulders, and she could not run.
Her vision blurred and bled, a watercolour tossed into the rain, as she was led away. The sounds behind her, the crunch of flesh and granite, heralded a vampires' fight, and Bella idly wondered whether the red eyed reflection of little Jane was employing his own hellish gift.
The next few hours were sodden, peppered with sobs and salt-stained fingers rubbing red eyes as Bella's heart was peeled, layer by layer. Though her weeping turned woeful and wild in the end, nobody came to comfort or soothe, and the walls of her unexplored room trapped her grief, an echo-chamber of roughened stone.
When the night insinuated itself through leaded windows and lapped away the light, the girl knotted herself on the bed and waited for sleep.
Author's Note: Your feedback is always appreciated.