FGB for Gail/SakariX
EPOV of chapters 1-5
A/N First and foremost I would like to thank Gail for her donation to ALS. Aciepey and LambCullen worked magical beta fu on this piece, gracias chicas. Thanks to my prereaders Jules and MoreThanMyself. None of this would have happened without the encouragement and input from my fabulous WC ladies, much love to all of you. Finally, YellowGlue and AmelieGray, you inspire me to reach farther.
He had ridden for days. It would have been faster to run, but he needed the connection, the mortal connection he felt only when riding, before he did what he needed to do. As he rode into town, his hood pulled low over his face and the cloak whipping furiously behind him, he listened.
"She won't last the night."
The man with her thinking, hurting. He loved her. "I hope it is without horrid pain, she's been through enough already."
Another few streets passed.
"The pustules look so painful, but I'm afraid to touch them."
Edward had reached the center of the poor part of town, where the blight was worst. He dismounted, not bothering to tether his steed, he would come to him from a far distance with just a whistle. He stalked the cobblestone path, combing the the thoughts of the humans inside the hovels they called homes. The scent was putrid. He felt his ire spark at being reduced to such interactions on these imperfect humans.
"Dear Lord, please deliver me home. The pain, I cannot endure!"
"How will he get well when there is no money, no food to be had? I do not know what to do, other than to be merciful. God forgive me."
Edward snorted. "God" certainly had his hands full in London.
As he walked through the narrow passageways of London, he recalled the meeting with his family.
His family sat around a table, the meeting called by himself and Carlisle, necessary to keep them fed and the Volturi from interfering in their business. The situation in London was dire, and they depended on the high concentration of people in London to be able to live a settled existence. Their coven had grown weary of the nomadic way of most vampires decades ago.
He sat directly across from Alice, who had tried her best to warn the stupid humans of the coming pestilence. Now she had resigned herself to helping Edward secure sustenance in the way least frightening to the already panicked people.
He scoffed. His sister, always wanting to think the humans would change, be good, if only they knew what was at stake. Always thinking she could balance her evil nature by trying to save the general population of disgusting humans.
He continued walking, slowly creeping through the alleys, searching for that perfect human. A broker of sorts, yes? He laughed to himself. The driver and cart would follow him shortly, he had a few days to find his human.
It slammed into him like a bolt of lightning.
A scent. A bloody delectable scent. It went straight to the core of his being. He was tempted, no determined; needed to find the source of this warm, pulsing temptation.
He growled then halted. He needed to remain in control. He slowly started walking again, remembering the rest of the conference with his family.
They had found out the hard way that the diseased humans tasted disgusting. The blood was weak and thin, completely undesirable. No, it didn't make vampires sick, nothing could, but the pursuit of healthy humans had become a time consuming venture for Edward. He had grown tired of combing the human minds one by one to find out if they were ill. He was spending too much time present in London where he could be blamed for the deaths of many whose blood did not rest on his hands. Nomads had flocked to London and other cities and were behaving less than discreetly.
Edward's plan was genius, really. He had only to spend some time finding the right person for the job. Alice and Esme fretted at the spiritual damage that would be done to this already condemned person. He sneered at their thoughts. What could be worse then their mortal existence now?
The scent was stronger now, driving him to distraction, when he needed to concentrate. He could not act rashly, his family's way of life depended upon his steady decisions. He neared the abode from which the decadent scent emanated, trying to stay alert while pummeled with its heady strength. He listened to the thoughts in the home, hoping the answers to his draw to this place would be answered there.
The loudest voice was that of Mr. Swan, the head of the house it would seem. He was disgusted, remembering scenes from his day, collecting and burning bodies in the forest clearing, praying that God understood he was not desecrating the bodies intentionally, he just had very few choices. "Charlie" thought once again, as he did daily, that if he'd had the resources, he could have sent Bella away, like one of Bella's peers had been. Edward could hear the man's brain cracking into pieces as he tried to place what he had seen behind mental wall after wall.
The other voice, weak and simpering, begging only for forgiveness for her weakness, the safety of her child and for admittance into heaven, the mother. Renee. The name echoed often in Charlie's mind, yet what was missing? He lifted his nose into the air unnecessarily, the luxurious scent was still invading his senses. Yes. It was here.
He decided to spend the evening trying to sort out the voices, and why the owner of the beautiful blood wasn't speaking to him. He spent the night, then the day, then it had been almost a week and his patience had left him. He had watched the girl come and go, seen her purse her plump pink lips in reaction to the stench of the street, but could not hear a single objection from her head. It was maddening!
He was sure the scent was coming from her. The wretched smell of her mother was unmistakable, and he was now familiar with Charlie's scent as he followed him on his gruesome missions daily. Over days he listened as the mother became sicker. As her putrid flesh began to rot, Mr. Swan's thoughts became more desperate. Surely the other humans must have been able to discern that the sickness had been visited upon the Swan Family. As Edward searched outside the house for evidence of this, he was still unable to glean a single thought from the mysterious Isabella.
This beautiful girl with the singing blood and silent mind perplexed him. She was a riddle that he needed to solve. It would not do to have her closed to him! She would also be the perfect incentive to force the father to do his bidding. It was as if Fate herself had planned their appearance to him; the family was perfectly suited to his cause.
Finally, he could watch and wait no more, he would go to them the next night.
He had found them again, in a familial bubble that would not protect them from anything. The mother was not coherent anymore, her thoughts constricted to direct responses or daydreams of days past. Edward was able to soak up every bit of Isabella's existence while watching Renee die. He was surprisingly grateful, he felt himself wanting to touch the mother and reassure her, for a moment. Then he was disgusted with himself.
Even this delectable human would be nothing more than a momentary plaything. Something to satisfy his curiosity, a puzzle to solve.
The next evening he sat on the roof to hear Isabella sobbing. He could not hear at all what had upset her so, but it unsettled him, even knowing it was likely the predictable death of her mother.
That evening Charlie came home to find Isabella sobbing. "What is the matter girl?"
Edward was by the window now, entranced, as she looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. "Mother, she isn't well." She rose to be enveloped in her Father's strong arms. "She won't let me see to her, won't let me near her!"
Charlie braced Isabella with his hands on her arms. "You listen child! You will do as your mother has instructed. I have seen it myself! Once one is taken it's only a matter of time."
What darling Isabella did not hear were her father's prayers for her to just run.
Isabella begged. "Please, Father! You cannot make me sit back and do nothing while she suffers, it is too cruel!"
Edward leapt from the roof.
Edward rapped on the door sharply, three times.
Charlie opened the door, motioning for Isabella to move away. Edward stood in the doorway, covered head to toe in a black woolen cloak. He spoke, his voice commanding, smooth and clear. "Mr. Swan. My name is Edward Cullen. It would behoove you to allow me entrance, I have a proposition for you." Charlie's eyes shifted to Isabella. "I assure you, I won't hurt your daughter." Edward was allowed through the entry way. "Yet," he mused, inaudible to Charlie.
Edward saw no need for social pretences, his mission was simple. Once situated inside the home he stated, "Your wife will die by weeks' end, Mr. Swan." Isabella was standing in a shadowed corner of the room, likely believing he could not see her. She gasped at his statement and flung herself at the him; Charlie looked on, stunned. As she hit his chest with her little fists, he chuckled.
As she pounded with all of her might on him she yelled. "How dare you demand entrance to our home and say such things!" Impatient, he pushed her away as gently as he could. The girl must know who would be in charge now. He looked at Charlie.
Mr. Swan's thoughts now were a jumble.
"He'll kill her! Stupid girl!"
"So brave, so definite in her belief in the Lord's goodness."
"Why is he laughing? Dear God, he looks to be the Devil himself."*
Amused at the maddening girl's display, he spoke to her father. "She carries quite a passion in her heart. Delicious." He smiled.
Edward pulled his hood back, ready to reveal his true nature. He caught the man's eyes , holding them steady as he walked towards the Charlie. "You are in a poor situation, Mr. Swan. Your beloved dying, your beautiful daughter doomed to the same fate, or perhaps to be taken by one of the hordes roaming outside the walls. No way to escape, and by tomorrow when they find out about your wife they'll mark your house."
The man was clearly terrified, also enraged. His thoughts swirling til they were just a mass of red anger. "What do want with us? Make your demands and leave my home!"
Edward walked toward the man, the useless prayers and pleas to his God buzzing around his mind. "I am not a typical man, Mr. Swan. I am a man of means beyond your ability to imagine. I reside in my manor far away from the filth of this city. My family is very powerful." He took another step, backing Charlie into the wall. "Look into my eyes, Mr. Swan. What do you see?"
"Satan. Monster. You will ruin my daughter."
Then Edward heard the pounding of his heart race faster, faster as he studied the eyes of the man before him. Edward's menacing smile grew, and the father was in full panic. He finally spoke aloud, what Edward had already heard. "It's not possible!"
The vampire laughed. "I assure you, Mr. Swan, my eyes are indeed blood red, and the reason for that is fantastical, but all too possible. I am vampire, Mr. Swan, and as I said, I have a proposition for you. Your human illness makes your blood disgusting. It may not infect us, but it is distasteful. My family wants clean blood. Bring us seven clean people that we can feed from, seven per week every week, and I will ensure that your innocent girl lives a long life, filled with all the comforts money can provide, far away from this cursed death sentence."
Visions of bloodshed coursed through the Father's thoughts, then pictures of his Bella, his perfect, beautiful Bella dying at the hand of this disease or some roaming rapists. "No. Anything but that." Edward's lips twitched into a barely noticeable smirk then.
Charles pulled himself up then; all peacockery and showmanship for the sake of his daughter, lest she think him a weak man. Even as the words left his mouth he was picturing Bella burning in a fire in the meadow. "And if I don't?"
"Well, hmmm...I suppose I won't draw things out when I drain you and your daughter." Edward looked at the girl then, the fear in her amplifying her scent, her plump lips tempting him to bite, then snapped his head back to the father. "You will simply both be dead in minutes. Your wife will be left to die alone, of course."
The desperate human looked from his family to Edward and lied. "How am I supposed to know who has clean blood?"
Edward growled and lunged at Charlie, pinning him to the wall by the throat. "Do not try to lie to me, man. You know where the sickness resides, because you deal with their dead. You speak to the townspeople, and hear them talk. While I can find clean blood as I did with you, it is an unpleasant and tiresome task."
From the corner, a whisper. "Father, no. Please don't do this."
The vampire and the human's eyes were locked, the man's voice a course whisper. "And what of my death?"
Edward sighed, "Poor Isabella will surely have found a way to make herself useful by then." He looked towards the shadowed corner where the girl stood, thinking she could not be seen. He watched her chest rise and fall as she became more agitated, making Edward want to provoke her further. "Regardless, she'll be out of the city, far away from this horror."
Isabella spoke again. "Only to face the horror of living with a monster such as you."
He laughed heartily. "Do we have a deal Mr. Swan?"
Charlie kept his eyes on the stranger, his own brown meeting sinister red. "I do not see that I have much choice. Yes we do."
Edward shook the human man's hand, the warm, wet feeling of his palms repulsing Edward. He turned his head to Isabella, his hands tented before him, fingers bouncing against each other. "Now, to hammer out some details. Fair Isabella will return with me tonight." A sob sounded from across the room.
Stupid human girl, did she not know how fortunate she was, even that he had noticed her, a guarantee of leaving this horrid life behind. He sneered as he thought of how he might persuade her to show some gratitude towards him. "She'll have no need to bring anything other than her person, as her needs will be met at the manor." Mr. Cullen nodded curtly, closing the matter.
Edward looked on as the father tried to pull his daughter into an embrace, only to be pushed away. A tear fell from his eye. "Isabella, you will be safe, you will be healthy to live your life. The only other path is death. Would you have me give you to him as a meal this minute?"
The girl turned to her mother, this Renee. Her eyes were glazed with fever, pustules becoming apparent on her neck. She spoke, barely above a whisper. "Bella, you must go, save yourself. Remember that no matter what surrounds you, you are called to serve and honor the Lord." Renee nodded to Charlie, who furrowed his brow in thought. Visions of Bella, knelt in prayer with a crude metal cross flashed through her head.
The father walked over to the wooden box that held their earthly goods and pulled out a smaller box. He gave the box to Isabella silently, not saying what was in it. In Charlie's head, an image, clouded by uncertainty, of Isabella in a fine gown, preparing to marry, this trinket in hand.
Edward snorted. "That won't help her, Mr. Swan. Her fate belongs to me, and me alone now."
The father tried again to embrace his daughter, this time she allowed it. "I love you, my daughter. Be brave and strong. Live your life well and good. Find love, find the miracle of your own child, so you know what your mother and I had. Never forget that we love you. I will see you soon."
Isabella sobbed into her father's tunic, clinging to him, her eyes pleading with him to change his mind, as the monster waited to take her.
Edward cleared his throat. "Mr. Swan, I will send a carriage for the seven adventurers you find, next week at the toll of the evening bell."
The man huffed. "Mr. Cullen, how am I to coerce seven people to get into carriages bound for who knows what fate?"
Edward tilted his head for a moment, straightening up before answering. "Mr. Swan, it is of no concern to me how you get them there, only that you do. Tell them they are going to a festival. Tell them it's employment. Tell them something, but get them into the carriages happy and healthy or your beautiful Isabella will suffer."
He extended his hand toward Isabella, and she spat on his outstretched hand. "So very passionate, my little lass. Here I was hoping we could be friends."
As amused as Edward was at the fire that burned in this confusing little puzzle of a girl, this behavior would not do. Not at all.
"Tsk tsk, Isabella. You will not do that again." He swept Isabella up in a quick, effortless motion, holding her under his arm like a small parcel. With a sharp whistle and a quick turn towards the door, he clipped,"Off we go then."
Edward walked out the door with Isabella, her father powerless to stop him. Mr. Swan had no thoughts in his head as he watched his only daughter being carried away, small fists beating on Edward's back, screaming for her mother and father.
Edward ran to the waiting carriage, invisible to the townspeople around him. As he entered the carriage, he tossed Isabella onto the cushioned seat, the maneuver easy but causing a growl to rip forth from him nonetheless. In the rush of air that flew behind her was a scent that provoked a feral reaction from him. He threw himself backwards, landing on seat on the opposite corner of the carriage. They sat, both pressed back against the carriage walls, panting, each eyeing the other warily. Edward put his hand over his mouth, remembering just now that he didn't have to breathe.
Seeing the miniscule movement as Isabella made for the door to run, Edward spoke through clenched teeth. "Do not move. You cannot outrun me, you cannot fight me off. Sit still if you value your life, Isabella." He had noticed from the moment he encountered her that her mind was closed to him, but now this fact infuriated him. He had to rely on his senses and instinct in a way he hadn't had to for a century. Every breath she let out seethed with hatred and fury, yet she seemed untouched by fear.
She had frozen at his command, but he could see her assessing him and relaxing her posture. When she spoke, the words rang with a toxicity that rivaled his venom. "I am not a fool. You cannot hurt me. You need my father to bring your meals to you and your monstrous coven. I have seen a lot of horror as of late and I promise you this, you do not scare me, Mr. Cullen." As she said those last words she leaned forward, her face inches from his. Edward swallowed the venom that pooled in his mouth, his mind reeling.
Only seconds passed before Edward pushed her back against the wall, one hand securing her by the hair and pulling her head sideways, another on her upper arm. He was crouched on his knees over her, straddling her. His mouth was at her jugular and he growled before speaking in a rough whisper into her ear. "I tell you now Isabella, I have not, in all of my existence, smelled a finer scent than yours." She whimpered as he ran his nose up and down her creamy ivory throat. "You are simply mouth watering. Do not tempt me. It would be far too easy to bypass a hundred meals for one taste of you." He pushed back from her and landed on his bench in a quick blur. He prayed that she believed his words, for every word he'd spoken was truth. "Driver! Go on!"
The rest of the trip passed without further conversation between the two. Edward watched the scenery pass as they progressed, pondering his reaction to the girl and how he would continue to ensure her safety when the biggest threat to her was his own self. He watched as Isabella slumped into a deep sleep, ending up lying on the bench. He mused at how easily he could just take her now, it would be almost painless, eventless. He forced himself to think of the many hours he would have to spend combing the disgusting minds and tolerating the sickening smell of the London townsfolk if he did, and it staved off his urges for the moment. Some hours later, as the carriage turned onto the long narrow drive that led to Cullen Manor, Isabella woke.
She pushed herself up, eyeing Edward warily as she did. She glanced at the scenery via the carriage opening, and Edward studied her face. So different from when she was sleeping, Isabella's face was alight with either emotion or thought, and Edward again was sharply annoyed at his inability to discern which. Almost as if she sensed his gaze, she whipped her head around to look at him, leveling upon him an icy glare. "We are close then?" Edward nodded his head, and her eyes returned to the scenery. Edward's eyes never left her, but did travel further down to take in her long neck, her pulse throbbing visibly.
When the carriage came to a stop in front of the manor, Edward leapt out in a flash. He was relieved to take a huge breath of fresh country air. He turned to help Isabella out of the carriage, but the driver had already done so. Isabella stood, her eyes on his, no longer issuing challenge, but still not showing fear. Edward bowed slightly, gesturing toward the entry to the manor with his hand in a curt motion. She nodded her head and turned, walking towards the huge red doors. Edward walked behind her, observing her as she took in the manor. From her reaction he thought she had not seen the likes of Cullen Manor before. He felt a certain pride at that, cursing himself for thinking so heavily on one fragile little human's thoughts.
Before they could reach the doors, they swung open with a bang. Standing in the middle of the entrance was Alice, a huge smile on her face. She skipped past Isabella and flung herself into Edward's arms, hugging him tightly. Edward patted her on the back awkwardly, embarrassed at the display. He could hear her thoughts of gratitude, and as he set her down, another thought. "Well she certainly smells delicious!" Edward let out a growl without thinking as he jumped in front of Isabella defensively. "Relax, brother. Bella and I are going to be good friends," nodding as she spoke.
Isabella tilted her head, looking suspicious. "How do you know that name?"
Alice giggled, answering as if it were obvious. "I saw you ask me to call you that, I just decided to start with it now."
Edward stiffened, as Alice linked her arm through Bella's, leading her into the house. Isabella's hair swung rhythmically as she walked with Alice, her free flowing waves contrasting wildly with Alice's tight plaits. Isabella was all warm in browns and lighter shades of earth, as all peasants garb tended to be. Alice was a contrast in emerald green silk, her long black plaits hanging stiffly down the middle of her back. Isabella had seemed to relax a touch with Alice, and Edward was annoyed rather than relieved. He would need to make it clear that Isabella was not here to serve as Alice's new plaything! As he stepped into the manor, he heard Alice giggle and speak. "Bella, I'd like to introduce you to our family, we've all been very anxious to meet you."
Standing before them in an arc were the remaining five vampires that composed his family. In the middle was Carlisle, to his right Esme, then Jasper. Emmett and Rosalie flanked his left. Carlisle cleared his throat then spoke. "Welcome to Cullen Manor, Bella. Regardless of the unfortunate reason behind your visit, we hope that you will be comfortable here." He introduced the vampires surrounding him. "Your quarters are ready at any time that you would wish to visit them, though I hope you will indulge me and allow me to give you a tour."
Alice jumped and clapped enthusiastically. "You must go on the tour Bella, there's so much to show you!" The vampires walked away with the girl, only Alice turning to look back at her brother,shooting a knowing smile in his direction. Frustrated, Edward followed behind them, intently keeping twenty paces behind them at all times.
After the foolery that was the welcoming party for Isabella; the tour, a sumptuous spread of the best foods they had to offer, and Carlisle playing for her on his piano, Edward had had enough. He had been leaning against the wall in the hall outside of the parlour where they sat, laughing and telling stories, trying to draw the withdrawn girl out of her shell. He had grown impatient, shuffling through the thoughts of his family when the only thoughts in the room he cared to hear belonged to her, to Isabella.
With a snarl he whirled to his feet and strode into the parlour. Speaking sharply, loud enough to be heard by all, he commanded, "I require Isabella's accompaniment this moment!" The tinkling piano continued, no one's thoughts even shifting to the fact that he was standing in the room. Furious, he bellowed, "She is not your toy! This stops immediately!"
"Edward! What has come over you?" Esme, ever the concerned mother.
Edward stalked to where Isabella was sitting, seeing her shrink from him only stoked his rage. He held out his hand to her, inches away from her body. When he spoke, it was a growl through his clenched teeth. "You will come with me now, Bella."
When her hand barely hovered near his he grabbed it roughly, pulling her into his side and wrapping an arm around her waist. She scurried and tripped in her attempts to keep up with the pace he set, irritating him further. "Can you not stay on your feet for mere minutes, little girl?"
He heard her heart starting to pound, then her breath hitching and ceasing, finally a snuffling sound, a whimper. "Oh, fine then," he snapped, picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder again, "This way you will make it to your quarters today, as well as alive."
Edward was surprised that she was silent. She is probably stunned, he thought, as he chuckled. To his surprise he felt her thin arms wrap around his rib cage, holding on, keeping her from bouncing. The intrusion of new sensations made him want to throw her across the hall, yet he maintained his composure, discreetly adjusting himself as he ran up the stairs.
He could not near her quarters fast enough as his mind spun in a lascivious direction. It is not as if the thoughts had not crossed his mind previously, just not with such an obvious and unfamiliar effect. The heat of her thighs permeated the cold stone of his hands as he held her aloft, and he wanted to press the flesh further to test the give and her reaction.
Relieved as he reached her door, he flung it open and was at the bedside in a flash. He flipped her onto the bed unceremoniously, like she was disgusting beast.
Standing before the bed, he glowered, suspicious of her. This fragile little human whose mind was closed to him, whose scent overwhelmed him, whose very physical presence made him lose his composure. Was she some kind of witch? Some other creature?
She lay in the bed where he had thrown her. He crawled up onto the bed, careful not to touch her. He sniffed at her, then caught her eyes and stared into them angrily, accusing her. She turned her head away from him, not making a sound, her heart pounding erratically. "I will know what you are about, what you intend, mark my word."
He stood back, gesturing widely to the surrounding room. "Isabella, these are your personal quarters. Everything in here is here for you personally. The wardrobe is full, anything you could possibly require to wear has been chosen by Alice, just for you." This was not proceeding how he had envisioned. He was sure that what he had intended to be his welcoming speech had turned into a frightening tumble into her new life. As he moved, she flinched and shrunk away from him.
Just as he thought about softening his approach, his ire was stoked yet again. What comfort had she not been given? What reason had she to act like a wounded bird? He sneered, " The chambermaid will bring you food and drink come morning, plus a fresh wash basin. Please try to keep yourself clean; I know you are not used to such customs in your slums, but as you will find, we smell everything." Now she was trembling, he needed to be away from her. "Good night Isabella, my precious little doll." He turned on his heel, left the room and slammed the heavy wooden door behind him.
He stood outside of the door, leaning on his hands against the wall, his head leaned back, listening. Isabella was sobbing. He held on to his anger, but could not deny a tug at his cold, dead heart. Then he heard an echo through the manor, Alice, "Brother, you might as well let her in, she is not vacating that hole of a heart that you have anytime soon."
Edward ran to the nearest window, leaping through it and down to the grounds below, running as fast as he could to the forest that surrounded them. He ran and ran 'til he could hear no voices, could feel no pull from Isabella's blood.
After the night of running, Edward thought to go see how Isabella's father was faring in his quest. He sprinted towards London, using his vampire brain to focus solely on this one issue: Was Mr. Swan going to live up to his obligations?
Strolling casually down the streets of London, Edward took notice of the changes. The stench, unbelievably, had increased exponentially. Abandoned livestock wandered the streets, leaving filth and foulness behind them. The squealing of pigs and bleating of sheep was crowding his brain with noise.
Homes were boarded up, painted to warn people from them, but still the evidence of broken fortifications proved that death was no deterrent to acquiring material possessions. These infected homes would be pilfered with no thought to how the pestilence was passed from one person to another. Their belongings would be taken, traded, sold...no honor other than letting the thief live another day or week.
Edward finally made his way to the humble abode that used to house his Isabella. When he arrived, he couldn't sense Mr. Swan in the home. The smell of death hung heavy over the residence. The putrid smell of Isabella's mother threatened to overtake him, combined with her vivid memories of the whole of Isabella's life. He lay on their roof, absorbing the visions of life that Renee shared with him of her life, of his Isabella's life. He was lost in the flurry of images, curious about this silent minded girl.
He spent the night there, on the Swan's roof. After Mr. Swan arrived the memories doubled, Charlie far more coherent that Renee, with vibrant, clear memories, and detailed hopes for the future. Edward could see Charlies wife through his eyes, even as disturbing as it was to look at her, the man's heart still swelled when he looked at her. Edward continued to listen and observe, soaking up all the details that he could.
When Mr. Swan finally retired on a mat on the floor, Edward was transfixed by his dreams. Mentally wading through the loud snuffling snore of the man, Edward was exposed to ethereal visions of Renee and Isabella throughout their lives. Punctuating the dream was the image again of Isabella, ready to be joined in holy matrimony, cross in hand. As the scene advanced, Edward felt a fire begin to burn in his chest. Standing next to Isabella was a tall, brawny boy with black hair.
The angry roar that issued forth from him woke not only Mr. Swan, but the few remaining living neighbors he had.
Settling himself, he pushed back any curiosity about his reaction, obviously Isabella now belonged to him. Seeing his property given to another, even in a dream, would be enough to enrage any man. Why would seeing Isabella given away to another be any different?
When Mr. Swan revisited slumber, it was to nightmares. Even Edward was appalled at the phantoms haunting the man.
As he pulled his spectre cart, wet limbs and putrid heads fell off. Every time he replaced them, another would fall, making his progress towards his goal advance by only several feet per hour. At last when he made it to the burn circle and began to pull the bodies into the black pit, chunks of flesh clung to him with every move. He would grab onto an arm and it would rip off in his hands.
Finally, no matter the height of flames in his fire, Mr. Swan could not see the bodies to their end. They sat in the fire, faces gaping at him, refusing to burn, until the man woke with a horrified scream, grasping for the ground below him. He scrambled as best he could for the chamber pot, missing his goal as he vomited on the floor.
Edward was pleased when Mr. Swan decided to sleep no more, and get about his daily work.
Charlie cleaned himself as best he could, then walked out to his cart and drew it behind him. He started slowly, Edward heard the wooden wheels creak as much as Mr. Swan's old bones. The sun had not yet risen, but Charlie did not hesitate. A block away from his house, his chant began, "Bring out your dead!" A command, a plea, to be repeated a multitude of times this day.
Edward followed, watching as Mr. Swan did indeed begin recruiting people as promised. This pleased Edward so, that it was difficult not to make his presence known to express his satisfaction. Instead, he decided to make his way back to the manor, his mood lightened and his hopes met.
Edward could hear her. Her sighs, the flipping of the pages, the whispered words, all echoing from the library. She seemed to have made herself at home amongst his things, his books, his prized collection. Irritated, he charged towards the room, intent on rousting her from her contented roost. He reached the entry to the room, slowing to a stealthy speed, undetectable to the girl. What he saw gave him pause.
She was seated on his plush, throne-like chair, her feet tucked under her, looking through a great tome. She stared at the page, a deep 'v' forming between her brows, as if she could will the information into her head. He relaxed against the door frame, arms crossed, amused by this little human girl, as she aspired to know what few men had knowledge to do. She put her fingers to her temple, and Edward bit back a laugh.
Then she looked up.
Her eyes bore into his. Accusing, embarrassed. She pulled herself up, bringing her feet to the floor, in a more proper position. "Is there some way I can be of service to you?"
Edward, caught off guard, as he was wont to be with Isabella, chuckled. "Ah. No. My apologies."
She cocked her head at him, the 'V' between her brows deepening. "Am I in your way?"
He straightened, pulling his hands to his sides in a formal position. "No. Not at all Miss Swan. I only wanted to ensure my valuable volumes were safe from your clumsy grasp." He smirked at her. "It appears you have the sense to know when to be careful, so I shall be on my way."
Edward moved, with purpose, away from the library. He entered the parlour intent on visiting his piano, something he rarely did recently. He sat at the bench, exposing the piano keys by lifting the wooden enclosure. After stretching and cracking his fingers and knuckles, he placed them at the keys, the cool ivory familiar to him.
The song that emanated from him was melancholy at best, dismal at worst. He let all of his anger, anxiety and disappointment flow into the music he played; the beautiful, dark tune seemed to draw Isabella in. He heard her breathing by the doorway. He was pleased that he could summon her this way. "This will be much more conducive to my plans," he thought, a wide smile breaking onto his face.
He had felt her pulsing from behind him. He could hear her blood and breath and muscles moving, everything except for what she thought. Infuriating! She drew closer, the warmth of her approaching starting to feel more like static, sharp stings of heat. He turned, snarling at her, teeth bared, needing to get rid of her until he understood this feeling.
Another day. He sat on a balcony overlooking the gardens, watching as Alice and Isabella took a break from their walk around the grounds. The sat on a blanket amidst the flowers, chattering away while Bella nibbled on some bread and cheese. She was animated, happy even, as she spoke with Alice, a different Isabella than he was familiar with. Unable to hear her thoughts, observing her was his only course in figuring her out, deciphering her effect on him.
He listened as Alice asked questions and received answers. He had wondered over these very things for days, and here Alice just asked, and the information was available!
"So, Bella, how do you find life at Cullen Manor? Are you finding enough to keep you entertained? Is the food to your liking?"
Bella was quiet for a moment, then took a deep breath before answering. "Your home is beautiful Alice, my bed is luxurious, like nothing I have seen before." She picked at the grass next to her, seeming to avoid Alice's eyes. "I have never been so well fed, and the fare is delicious. I did find the library; I am fascinated by the collection of books! If only I could read them to understand, but the images are so engaging!"
Edward was transfixed. Isabella seemed to glow as she discussed the books with Alice, who looked at her with a knowing grin on her face. "Ah, yes. Edward. He collects them, is as captivated by them as you seem to be. And he does know how to read them..."
Isabella gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "All his? I did not know. I never would have...it is now wonder he seemed so angry!"
Alice giggled, placing her hand on Bella's knee, which seemed to comfort her immediately. "Bella, you are welcome, nay, encouraged to look at the books. You may go where ever you want in our home. You should see Carlisle's collection of paintings, Jasper's impressive array of weaponry. We all have something that has held our interest over the centuries, and that long to amass the finest examples."
Alice sobered then, taking Bella's hands in hers. "Bella, is Edward treating you well? I know he can be stern, sometimes rough."
Bella looked away from Alice, but did not pull her hands away.
Waiting for her to answer, Edward paced back and forth on the balcony. He did not like Alice's prying, and was further agitated at Alice's ability to touch Bella without her shrinking away from her.
When Isabella spoke, her voice was a tremulous whisper. "He is just so angry, all the time. I can do nothing right."
Alice smiled gently. "Bella, I do not think he has met the likes of you in all of his years."
Edward, leaning forward now, saw as Bella raised an eyebrow. "How so? I am but a girl."
"Bella, has he told you anything about us? Besides the obvious, that we are vampires."
Isabella shook her head. "No. He does not so much talk to me, he gives me orders."
Alice nodded briefly. "Yes. Well. Edward is not used to having to engage someone in a mutual conversation."
Isabella laughed heartily. Edward snarled at the idea of Alice and Isabella down there laughing at him. How dare she!
Alice looked straight at him with a beaming smile. "Oh, Edward. So serious all the time."
Alice turned back to Bella, riding out her giggles before catching her eye with a serious gaze. "Bella, some of us, in our family, we have extra abilities. We do not know why or how, but for example, I can see the outcome of the decisions any one person makes. I can see their future. Now Jasper, his ability is subtle. He can feel what others feel, and influence their feelings in return."
Isabella was quiet for a moment, staring at the blanket on which they sat, then lifted her head. "And Edward?"
Alice gave an abrupt laugh. "Bella, Edward has an extremely powerful gift. He is able to hear the thoughts of all that surround him, at all times. He is able to "see" through the lies and pretenses that we all employ, right to the truth of what every human or vampire is thinking. Everyone except for you. It is very frustrating for him to say the least."
Isabella cocked her head. "Is there something wrong with me?"
Alice stood, brushing her skirts, extending her hand to Bella to help her up. "No, dear. I think there is actually something quite right about you."
Edward stood at the balcony, peering at the ladies as they packed up and went on their way. Alice was mentally naming each flower as she walked by it, her thoughts, her visions hidden from him. He would have a talk with her later.
Edward was surprised the next day when he did not have to hunt Alice down. Instead, she found him in the stables where he was preparing to ride.
She walked slowly toward him, gauging his reaction to her. On either side of her, the animals huffed and clung to the outside walls of their pens. He could not help the low grumble emanating from his chest, but retained his composure otherwise.
"Walk with me for a moment brother? We need to speak and I do not want to unsettle the horses further." She turned and began to walk out, motioning for him to follow.
He caught up with her quickly, walking by her side. "What is it, dear sister? Come to pilfer more secrets from me to share with Isabella?"
She frowned at him, snipping right back at him. "I only told her what you should have told her immediately. If she is to work with us, it is only right that a certain level of trust and civility be maintained."
"Yes, well, I cannot trust someone I cannot hear, and cannot be civil to a human who provokes me at every turn!" He halted, scowling down at her, his face inches from hers. "Is this what you came to discuss Alice? Because I fail to see how my interactions with Isabella have become your responsibility."
Alice pushed him away with a hand to his chest. "Well, for one thing brother, there is a small problem with our plan, something that would result in chaos with our humans. The solution to this problem requires you to speak with Isabella, and might go a little less horribly if you could cease being a tyrant to her."
Alice continued on, explaining the vision she had had, and the changes in the plan. Edward would need to compel Isabella to bring the humans from the carriage to the hall. Alice and Jasper would help to bring her to the carriage, soothing her before hand. He was not happy with the change. He disliked having to place trust in an unpredictable human to follow through on every point, but Alice had seen it working.
Edward entered Isabella's chambers the night before the humans were due to arrive. She sat at her table, where she had been eating, staring at him with an alarmed look on her face. He walked over to the table, then behind her, trailing his index finger across her shoulders as he did. "Do not worry little Isabella, I am just here to speak with you. Nothing more."
He heard the air rush out of her lungs, her voice shaky as she asked, "What is it sire?"
"You will be needed tomorrow eve to welcome the humans sent by your beloved father. We had not intended on your participation, but there is no other option at this time."
He continued, despite hearing a wailing sound building in her chest.
"Humans have a natural reaction to vampires, even before noticing our red eyes, that makes them distrustful and prone to anxiety. By the time they notice our eyes, the humans will be in full out panic. If you bring them into the hall where we will feed, then they will be calmer, making this a more pleasant experience for all."
Edward could not help his amusement at her horrified face. He smirked, speaking in a clipped tone, "More pleasant for everyone but you, I suppose. I am afraid that cannot be helped though."
Isabella had dropped to her knees then, begging. "Please do not make me lead these people to their death. Their blood will be on my hands, the sin of murder on my soul!"
Edward insisted, looking down at Isabella's display with disdain. "Were we to have one of the humans in our employ do this, they would know our secret, we would be exposed. That is unacceptable. We would have to kill them along with the others." He was interrupted by sobs then and released an exasperated sigh.
"You are the only human with a reason to keep our secret, little girl. You should be grateful! You have value to us now, you have secured a place at Cullen Manor on your own."
He crouched down, next to the crumpled mess of a girl on the floor. When she finally looked up at him she whispered. "Please."
He snuck his finger under her chin, and glared into her eyes. "You will do as you are told, my Isabella," he growled, "you will bring the humans to us or I will ensure that you and your father are very sorry."
E/N – I would like to thank everyone who is reading this little story of mine, and all of the reviewers. I appreciate you coming along on this ride with me more than I can express. I read each and every review, and they make my day, sometimes my week. If you'd like to hear me be inappropriate and see my Rob Pr0n collection, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm nitareality. I have a Twilighted thread where I can frolic and play with you. And maybe post a teaser or two. It's here. www (dot) /forum/viewtopic (dot) php?f=33&t=11278