A/N - Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. This is a collab between NCChris & LadyMiaF.

ARO POV

I stood lost in thought; my hands clasped awaiting the arrival of my power hungry counterparts, Vladimir and Stefan. I was thankful for my trusted Jane for arranging this meeting; she was the only one I could depend on to keep my most treacherous of secrets hidden.

I stared into the flames that were licking at the log in the fireplace in front of me, my thoughts drifted to Marcus and my sister, Didyme. They were thinking of leaving. I could not allow this; I needed Marcus not just as a brother, but for his gift as well.

That was the reason I had secured the meeting with The Romanians. I was to give them Didyme to do with as they wished. My only condition was that Marcus was to believe her dead. I paused in my thoughts as I heard the RomanianBrothers approaching.

Stepping out of the shadows, I waited for them to enter the abandoned castle hall. The location was one mutually agreed upon weeks earlier when our vicious plan was first devised. Vladimir entered a mere step in front of his brother, Stefan.

I held my hands out in a non-threatening gesture to the brothers. "Vladimir, Stefan…I am pleased to see you decided to join me today. Come, we have much to discuss and arrange."

We talked long into the night and the meeting adjourned as dawn approached. Snapping my fingers, Jane appeared with Didyme. I could see the fire in my sister's eyes, even through Jane's power had obviously weakened her over the last several days.

Even now, the Volturi guard was engaged in a search for her. Marcus did nothing but rage around the Volturi castle waiting for any word, alternating between fearsome temper and devastating despair. Caius had taken most of our guard to search for her. The newborn, Demitri, thankfully had not gained enough control to utilize his power. He would have been a formidable roadblock to the success of this arrangement. The ability to track anyone, human or vampire, over any distance would certainly have foiled the game. I was grateful that my seer, Aegidius, had seen both his power and when it would develop. If I had waited even six months longer, Demitri would have confirmed his loyalty by discovering Didyme's location.

It was with a heavy heart that I nodded to Jane to release Didyme to Stefan and Vladimir's guard. Affection was a pointless emotion, however, I did feel it for my sister and for the pain her loss would cause my brother. Their pain was an acceptable cost for keeping Marcus' talent and my edge over the rest of the vampiric world.

I addressed Didyme one final time.

"Sister, I am sorry that things have come to this point. You must understand that I cannot allow you to take Marcus from me."

She whispered something to Jane, who nodded and led her toward me, confident that she could handle any situation with her power if need be. Jane was quite the addition to my collection. Her youthful demeanor and sadistic character made her an asset I would not soon tire of. Her twin, Alec, though talented, was not as loyal as my Jane. He had drifted toward Marcus as his mentor instead.

Shaking off those random thoughts, I turned my attention once more to Jane and Didyme.

"Aro, we have known each other for many centuries. Never once have I been disloyal to The Volturi. I would not have believed you capable of this level of cowardice."

Her voice was weak, but her eyes sparkled with inner strength. She was a formidable woman. I would miss her. I opened my mouth to reply, but was interrupted as she spat a mouthful of venom in my face. The venom no sooner left her mouth before Jane had he writhing on the dirty stone floor in agony. I couldn't help the small smile that crossed my face as I watched Jane toy with her.

Lifting my hand slightly, I addressed Jane, "Enough, my dear Jane. Please hand over your charge to our Romanian brethren now. Goodbye, Didyme."

I watched as Stefan, Vladimir, and their guard towed an almost unconscious Didyme from the great hall. Turning toward Jane, I relayed my orders.

"Jane, we will rest here in the castle today. When night falls, we shall return to Volterra."

I seated myself on the ruined throne, content to wait out the sun and think through my story for when we returned to Volterra empty-handed. I mused in silence for some time, finally deciding that I would say I had not found her, but had gotten in a small scuffle with a nomad. This nomad had claimed to see her being forcefully led toward Germany. We would say we had headed in that direction and regrettably come upon a pyre still warm to the touch. Amid the ashes was Didyme's wedding band. I fingered the smooth golden band that I had taken from her prior to releasing her to the Romanians and congratulated myself on my foresight. Her scent would cling to the metal band and, at any rate, Marcus would recognize the ring as hers.

I would have Jane assist in tearing my clothes a bit to demonstrate the fight had ensued. This would work beautifully. I knew I would succeed in my plot and manage to Marcus a prisoner by my own means. He would stay a loyal king of the Volturi just as I required of him.

No one would ever guess at my involvement. I was assured of my triumphant move over this game that I played and much like a chess game, both Didyme and Marcus were nothing more than my pawns. My power would remain unshakable with Didyme out of the way and Marcus cowed into his position for eternity.

I would be victorious and, more importantly, I would win in a way that would always allow me to be the distraught brother, grieving for his dead sister. As the sun began to set, I called Jane forth to assist me with the next phase of my plan, plausible deniability.

We made haste back to Volterra, our story well thought out and impeccably launched. Jane was privy to the entire scheme. She had sworn herself to my service.

As we approached the walled city of Volterra, we paused a moment to compose ourselves into grief-stricken façades. Jane and I would need to give flawless performances if this phase of my plan was to be successful. Anything less than a perfect performance would leave Marcus with hope of Didyme's recovery.

We quickly entered the underground tunnels that led directly to the throne room. Marcus was there, pacing and raging at anyone unlucky enough to encounter him.

I told Jane to remain near the doorway and threw myself on the floor at Marcus' feet, sobbing pitifully.

"Brother, I am so sorry. We failed her…we were too late."

Here I dissolved into hysterical sobbing once again, my forehead pressed to the smooth stone floor. I was the picture of grief.

Marcus became a statue before me. He neither spoke nor moved. He did not blink; he did not breathe. After what seemed an eternity, he finally croaked out a response.

"Aro…I…I do not understand. Where is Didyme? What happened to my mate?"

I did not respond. Instead, I simply held out the wedding band and gestured to Jane to come forward. She would tell our tale as I once again lay prostrate upon the floor, seemingly overcome with my own grief.

Jane spoke quietly, her entire demeanor hinting at grief. I would have to reward her for her admirable performance. Had I not known she was lying, I would have been utterly convinced by her accounting of events.

As her story came to a close, she drifted over to me, placing her small capable hands beneath my arms and gently lifting me to my feet.

"Come, Maestro. Let us leave Master Marcus to his grief. You need to feed after your struggle."

I allowed Jane to lead me to my chambers. I shuddered as Marcus' roar of grief and pain echoed through the halls of the castle. The pain he must endure would be a heavy burden and I honestly regretted it, but nothing would be allowed to prevent my rise to absolute power over the vampires of the world. With Marcus and Caius forever at my side, our power would be solidified.

I dropped the façade as soon as we entered my chambers, a evil smirk replacing the distraught grief that had been there only moments before.

I turned to Jane and mouthed, "This is only the beginning, ma Cherie."

I fought back a bout of laughter as I moved to the window, staring out into the night and plotting my next move. I had no doubt that Marcus would ask us to end his existence. I decided to contact Caius as soon as possible. I could relay the story and sway him to my perspective; he would assist me in keeping Marcus with us.