Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am not SM and I don't own Twilight *sob* Therefore, as much as I wish they were, these characters aren't mine. I just like to play with them :)
A/N: Again, thanks to kyla713 for her mad skills with a red pen and to Shaelove for attempting to tame eccentric little me ;)
On to Chapter One! Hope you enjoy! :)
Six Months Earlier.
Light tapping on my door notified me that I had company, and smiled as I lifted my head from the Jane Austen novel I was reading.
"Come in, Chels," I said quietly.
Even though my door was closed, my sensitive nose had picked up her unique scent while she was still coming down the corridor.
Also, Chelsea was the only person in this entire place who had the common courtesy to knock.
Apparently, vampires don't need privacy…
The door opened, and Chelsea smiled, as she flitted over to me and sat on the edge of my bed.
"Aro wanted me to come and get you. He said, and I quote, that 'your immediate presence is required in the throne room'. Oh, and Caius added that 'tardiness will not be tolerated,'" she said rolling her eyes and I couldn't help but laugh.
I took in her appearance and noticed that she was already wearing her dark grey robe.
Well, I wouldn't exactly have considered it wearing… Drowning in the robe would've been a more accurate description, as her tiny frame disappeared completely beneath the heavy fabric.
"Is it time already?"
"Honestly, Bella, hell could literally freeze over and you wouldn't even notice, so long as you had a book in your hands…"
"Touché," I sighed, as I stood and wrapped myself in my own robe. I made sure to cover my head before following Chelsea out of my room and down the corridor.
The 'throne room' was exactly that, a room where the leaders of our world, Aro, Marcus and Caius sat to pass down judgment on those who had broken the rules.
Of course, this was usually only for show.
If Aro had gone to the trouble of sending a party to track and locate the vampire in question and bring them all the way back to Italy, he had already made up his mind.
The 'trial' was merely a show to cover his own ass…
As we stepped into the room, I noticed that most of the guard had already assembled; the room awash with black and differing shades of grey robes.
We were all color coded, from dark to light; the darker the robe, the more valuable and powerful you were.
The black robes were only ever worn by Aro, Marcus, Caius and the two wives.
The dark grey robes were worn only by Aro's 'treasures', the vampires who possessed some form of ability.
And Aro was an avid collector.
He scoured the globe for 'talented' vampires and when he found one, he would dote on them, giving them whatever their heart desired. He made sure they would want for nothing ever again, and when they agreed to join him, he would bring them back to Italy to add to his 'collection'.
But don't be mistaken. As much as he might want you to believe his intentions were noble and selfless, they were far from it.
With every new talented vampire Aro acquired, he also gained more power.
Because after all, who would want to attack or try to overthrow an army of vampires with some of the scariest and most painful parlor tricks in the world?
Chelsea fell into that category, as did numerous other vampires around the room.
The rest of the room wore light grey cloaks, and those were the lowest in the food chain, as these vampires had no talents; they were ordinary.
My robe was charcoal – lighter than black, yet darker than the robes of the other talented Vampires in the room, and only six of us were allowed to wear them, as the black and charcoal robes were reserved for 'royalty'.
Yes, I, Bella Swan, was a Princess of Volterra.
As I scanned the room, my eyes met with Jane's, and I beamed brightly at her, causing her to scowl in my direction.
Jane was used to people purposely avoiding eye contact with her, because with one look, she could make you feel unimaginable pain, as though you were being burned alive.
Or, so I'm told…
I had quickly taken her place as Aro's 'favorite' when he realized that not only could he not read my thoughts, but that Jane's little trick didn't work on me either. But, I already had my sire, and I wasn't interested in changing, which I think made her hate me even more.
What can I say? Jealousy's a bitch.
"Do we know what today's trial is about?" I asked quietly, as I turned back to Chelsea.
"Not sure exactly, but I heard it's pretty bad," she replied.
"Well, I hope it's over quickly this time," I sighed.
Aro had a flair for theatrics and thrived on being a 'crowd pleaser', so the trials usually tended to get quite ugly.
I believed in the rules that the Volturi had created, and I also believed that those who broke those laws deserved to be punished, as they are in place for a reason.
You would not believe some of the crazy shit that I had heard in that very room. I mean, a vampire falling in love with a human? And not only that, but breaking the number one rule by exposing himself and letting her know what really he was?
The guy obviously had a death wish.
But when Aro caught wind of it, not only did he kill said vampire, but he also tortured and fed on the human right before his very eyes.
No one deserved that fate; to watch the one they love suffer and not be able to anything about it…
Yes, he needed to be punished for his crimes, but not like that.
Even my damned soul knew that was wrong, and I had spent the rest of the afternoon and into the night crying tearless sobs in my room for the innocent love that had been lost in the cruelest of ways.
What I also didn't believe in, was hours of torture trying to 'interrogate' the accused, when Aro had already seen the truth with one touch of his hand.
I may be a vampire, but I'm not a complete sadistic bitch like some of the guard.
The room abruptly became silent as Aro, Marcus and Caius entered, and took their places on the overly large chairs.
Marcus met my eyes and beckoned me to his side, and I immediately obeyed.
As I assumed my place next to him, he took my hand in his and smiled at me warmly, and I returned in suit.
Marcus was my sire, and I owed him for my very existence. But more than that, he was someone I had to come to care for like a father and someone that I knew I could trust, which was a rarity in Volterra.
Unlike the other leaders and most of the guard, Marcus had a heart. Although he enforced the rules, he was kind and understanding and I was so glad that it had been him to save me that fateful day…
Aro cleared his throat loudly, bringing me back to the present and signaled with his hands for the doors to be opened. Not a moment later, Demetri and Felix emerged carrying what I assumed was a slumped vampire in their arms.
They stopped when they were in front of Aro and dropped the body to the floor, where it landed with a loud thump.
When the body didn't move an inch, Aro turned his attention to Demetri.
"Did he give you any trouble?"
"Not at all, Master. He actually came quite willingly," Demetri said as he winked at me, and I rolled my eyes in response.
"Well, at least that's something that may work in his favor. Thank you for finding him so diligently."
Demetri bowed in response and stepped back, as Aro turned his attention to the form on the floor.
"I was so disappointed to hear of your… misconduct, young one. Especially considering the fact that your sire is such a dear friend of mine," Aro sighed.
The slumped form did not move, and although he had only uttered a single word, the sound of his velvety voice sent shivers up my spine.
"I'm sorry?" Aro asked.
"You said my sire. Carlisle is my father, my mentor. I stay with him not only because his venom flows through my veins, but out of the love and respect I have for him."
Suddenly, the body on the floor straightened to his knees to look Aro straight in the eyes, and I couldn't stop the gasp that escaped.
He was the most beautiful specimen I had ever laid eyes on.
One wouldn't normally use the word 'beautiful' to describe a male, but there was simply no other word for him.
Even to my enhanced sight, he was beautiful. Yes, he had flaws, like the way his nose was slightly off center, the fact that his bottom lip was slightly fuller than his top, the bronze hair that was atop of his head that was in complete disarray… But these flaws were what made him beautiful; the fact that some of his human qualities had remained unchanged. Even the light speckling of freckles across his nose, which would be invisible to the human eye, were gorgeous.
As vampires, we were all aesthetically pleasing, enabling us to lure our prey easily, and up until then, the most beautiful person I had ever seen was Heidi, the 'fisherman' as we called her - as she was the one who caught and delivered our meals.
But she paled in comparison to the vampire kneeling on the floor in front of me.
His eyes flew to mine and it was then that I noticed his incredibly unusual eye color. Instead of being red like the rest of us, his eyes were a deep amber color, almost golden…
I had seen vampires wear contacts around humans before, but even then, I had only seen varying shades of violet, never gold.
They were completely mesmerizing and I found myself becoming lost in their depths. After a moment, I realized that the eyes I was staring at so intently were also looking back at me. I watched as his head tilted to the side ever so slightly as he continued to meet my gaze and I felt the oddest sensation begin in my chest. It wasn't painful, yet it wasn't pleasurable. If I had to describe it, I would say it was a sort of dull ache. I hadn't experienced pain in over twenty years and the feeling made me uncomfortable, so I brought a hand up to try and rub the pain away.
I felt a slight pressure on my spare hand and begrudgingly broke eye contact with the strange vampire on the floor to see Marcus eyeing me intently. He briefly, but very firmly shook his head and eyed the hand at my chest before bringing his attention back to me. I immediately dropped my hand and turned back to the kneeling form on the floor to find him doing the same…
"Ah yes, I've heard that vegetarians can form relationships based on love, outside of their mates," Aro spat at him, and I could hear the disgust in his voice.
Wait, vegetarians…? What are vegetarians?
"Speaking of mates, do you have one that we should be aware of? That may… complicate things for you, wouldn't you say?" Aro continued, the tenor and emotions in his voice changing so drastically that he was giving me whiplash.
The room was silent for a long minute, and I didn't realize that I was holding my breath until he spoke.
"No, I have no mate as yet," he whispered in response, as his eyes glanced at me quickly before returning to Aro. "And to answer your first comment, the answer is yes. We are able to form actual friendships based on our diet, which is better than wanting to rip out each other's throats every five seconds, wouldn't you say? I wonder how well your 'army' would get along with each other if you didn't have Miss 'emotional ties manipulator' over there," he said, as he motioned toward Chelsea.
A low murmur started through the crowd, undoubtedly wondering what he had meant by that statement, and I too was curious as to how he knew such things.
"Silence! That's enough," Aro boomed, as the room was again brought to a stand still.
In my peripheral, I noticed Caius lean toward Aro and touch his hand briefly. To an outsider, that touch would appear as a brotherly moment of affection, as though Caius were trying to calm his brother with a touch. But, to those of us who knew better, it was far from affectionate. This was their way of silently communicating.
My eyes shot back to the vampire in question in fear, as I watched him laugh. Did he honestly have no idea who he was laughing at? No one had ever laughed at Aro and lived to tell the tale…
"If you know I am guilty, Aro, then why must we continue this façade? Are you waiting for a confession?" he laughed again humorlessly, as Aro raised his brow at him. "If you must know, yes, I did it. I killed that sadistic vampire before he could drain that child. She was only five years old, and too young to have her life taken so carelessly. I don't care if she was his singer or not, you should have heard him taunting her, scaring the life out of her. She was just an innocent child! So yes, I killed him, and I enjoyed it. And if I were given the chance to go back in time, I would do exactly the same thing. Is that what you want to hear? So you can kill me and keep your reputation? Go right ahead, but know that when judgment day comes, and it will come to all of us, my slate will be cleaner than yours!"
He growled and glared at Aro in defiance, and the ache in my chest flared at the display. I wasn't sure if it was in fear or awe, as no one had ever dared to raise their voice to the Master.
The noise from the guard was suddenly deafening, as their yells and cries for justice bounced off the stone walls. They wanted blood, and I knew without a doubt that Aro would give it to them.
My eyes began to fill with tears that would never fall as I fought the urge to weep. He was so brave and though I had only been in his presence for mere minutes, I knew that I would never meet another more noble. After all, what kind of vampire would risk his life to save one of a mere human child?
I squeezed Marcus' hand and held my breath as I watched Aro take in the crowd, and took a small amount of comfort when he squeezed back.
"Aro, if I may speak?"
Aro raised his hand and turned to Marcus expectantly, as the guard became silent once more to hear the verdict.
"I know that this young one has broken the rules by killing his own kind, but, if I am not mistaken, it appears as though he also has a gift?" Marcus stated, and I almost cried with relief as Aro nodded in confirmation.
"You are quite right, dear brother, and that is what makes this decision more difficult. Your gift is not that different from mine, young one, but unlike mine, yours is not limited to contact. It is a formidable gift indeed…" Aro mused, rubbing his chin for added affect.
"I am prepared to offer you leniency, on one condition. We will dismiss your charges if you agree to join us, here in Volterra, as a member of the guard. Your gift would be a valuable asset."
"And what of my diet?" the young vampire asked, and I once again found myself questioning what he was referring to.
"Being a member of the guard, we would need you at your strongest, so you would be expected to change your diet and feed like the rest of us."
"I will not take human life," he growled and Aro smirked in response.
"You have no other choice. You either join the guard and change your diet, or you die."
I once again found myself staring at him as he made eye contact with me and I pleaded him with my eyes to take the deal.
He sighed and turned back to Aro and I held my breath waiting for his response.
"Then I choose death."
The guard erupted in noise once again in outrage as the pain in my chest exploded, almost crippling me in agony, and I sagged against Marcus' chair for support. I had no idea why he was so important, I just knew the idea of him not existing, was too much for me to bear.
I felt Marcus' hand under my chin as he lifted my head and as I raised my eyes, I found his were blazing. There was an intensity there I had never seen before, almost as though he were suffering the same physical pain as I.
I lifted my shield, hoping to get some sort of reading from him, but was not expecting what I found…
"Beg him, Isabella!"
My eyes widened in shock at the sound of Marcus' voice, but I was even more shocked at the realization that his lips had not moved.
"Marcus…?" I questioned with my mind, and immediately felt ridiculous, until I heard him answer.
"I know what you feel for this young one. I know that you are confused and I will explain it to you later. But right now, you have to beg Aro to spare him. I will not watch you suffer the same fate as I. Beg him, Bella!"
My eyes shot to the still kneeling vampire on the ground and found that his brow was scrunched in confusion.
Had he heard that?
I watched stunned as he nodded minutely, answering my unspoken question.
"Master Aro, if I may?" I asked in a voice filled with more confidence than I felt.
"Of course, my dear Isabella. You may speak," he replied with a grin, and I fought the urge to shudder.
"Master, I know that I am not in a position to pass judgment, and I mean no disrespect by talking out of turn, but I just felt that I needed to make my opinion known. It just seems such a waste to destroy one so talented…"
"I agree, young Princess, but you heard him with your own ears; he will not join us."
"Yes, I heard, Master. But what if we gave him some time to re-think his options? You could keep him here in the castle under guard and see if he perhaps changes his mind?" I asked timidly, praying that he would agree.
"Hmmm," Aro replied, as he stood and walked to stand in front of him.
"I agree. As I am in a fairly giving mood today, I will give you six months. Six months to change your mind and join us. If, at the end of the six months you still decline, then we will have no choice but to dispose of you. But, if your… morals do change, we will be waiting for you with open arms," Aro spoke with a smile, and I felt myself release a heavy breath.
"And, as it was your idea, Isabella, and you are the only one whose mind he cannot enter, I am placing you in charge."
"Thank you, Master Aro, but I don't think…"
"It is not up for negotiation. Guards, take him to the dungeon," Aro replied cutting me off, and with a wave of his hand, Demetri and Felix were carrying him away.
"Isabella, I expect briefings on a daily basis, am I understood? He is not to feed on anything that I do not send specifically, and if he does not feed on what he is given, then he does not feed at all, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Master Aro."
"Very well then. I will expect to see you tomorrow night for your first briefing. That is all."
Aro clapped his hands twice and the room immediately emptied, with the guards and crowds all dispersing at once.
I, on the other hand, was rooted to the stone floor where I stood, still staring at the door where the now prisoner had exited. It seemed the further away he became, the more my chest began to ache. I absentmindedly rubbed my hand against my chest, trying to dispel the ache when I felt two warm hands stop my ministrations.
"You did very well, Bella. You saved his life," Marcus said quietly.
"Why does my chest hurt so much?" I asked, choosing to talk about something else for the moment.
"That I will explain later, but for now, you need to follow him to your posting," he sighed in response, as he pulled me into an embrace.
"You will be fine, I promise you. I have every faith that you will make this situation right."
He placed a kiss to my forehead, before stepping away and walking to the door.
"Just be careful," he murmured, as he smiled faintly and left the room.
Even though he was gone, I still nodded absently as I had no idea how to respond. There were too many questions running through my head.
What did he mean by 'make the situation right'?
What did I have to be careful of?
Why was I the only one whose mind he could not enter?
What was this ache in my chest that was becoming worse by the second?
And, the most important question of all – What had I gotten myself into…?
A/N: So... what do you think? Likey? No likey?
I'd love to hear what you think :)
I've been kind of obsessed with AU's and Vampfics of late so that was probably where this came from.
I have Chapter 2 half written, so if you liked this and would like to see it continued, I should be able to post soon.
And yes, I also have *finally* the next chapter of Wing Girl ready to post also, so that will be ready to go very soon.
As always, I really hope you liked this and thanks for reading.
Much Love Xox