Substance

Summary: When a vampire finds their mate they are inexplicably bound to them, the bond forged between the two is both eternal and unbreakable. It is also mutual. Would it be the same if their other half were human?

Disclaimer – Original characters belong to Stephenie Meyer, plot lines and characterizations, all belong to Aurora18, copyright June 2011.

Hello all! This is based on a storyline I've had in my head for quite a while now and I'd really like to share it with you. Please tell me what you think at the end, your opinions are invaluable to me.

Chapter 1 - Duty

Light filtered in through the window and lit up a small patch of the wooden floor in front of me. I tilted my head in fascination as I watched the dust swirl anti-clockwise against the light. Leaving my chair and walking through the illuminated space I stood at the window, shaded from the glow of the evening sun by the heavy curtains framing the space.

My expression did not alter as I watched the hundred or so people walking in the streets below me. It was six o'clock in the evening and this was the most popular time for them to leave their jobs for the day. From the height of the building I was in, their heartbeats were perfectly audible, little fluttering sounds, some synchronised and others beating out of time. It was like a concerto, one I had to listen to every single day.

Peering out on to the horizon, I calculated the minutes we would have to wait until we would be able to travel uncovered, it would not do to be conspicuous tonight. It would take under ten minutes to get to the airport at night, where I could run without being discovered, but there was still at least half an hour of daylight left. But the sun would soon be setting. I grimaced as I mentally added another half an hour to the time it would take us to get there if we wanted to catch our flight, we would have to travel in one of those yellow cars the humans were so fond of, and we would have to cover up.

"Rosalie, I was planning on arriving by midnight tonight. Why are you not ready?" I didn't bother to turn around or raise my voice; I knew she'd hear me wherever she was.

She was by my side in an instant, blond hair swirling around her as she came to a stop with a furious expression on her face. In her human life she had been very beautiful, some would have said stunning. Her beauty had only been magnified during her change, but so had her self centred nature and tenacity. Perhaps if I were a human I would have been intimidated, but after fifty years with her, her dramatics were nothing but tiresome.

"Because, I have to pack everything, and I'm hungry. I want to feed before we catch our flight. I don't see why I have to come with you; you're the only one that cares about all that ceremony stuff anyway." I closed my eyes in frustration. Why couldn't she just do as she's told for once?

"Well then you shouldn't accumulate so many things. We won't be coming back here so you should take everything you want with you. As for feeding, I'm sure you'll be able to find something when we get to Volterra." She'd only fed a couple of nights ago, she couldn't possibly be hungry, but she had to whine about something.

"Don't you mean someone?" I turned to face her and rolled my eyes at the arrogant smirk on her face but even though I was several inches shorter, my glare was still enough to make her take a few steps back.

"When we reach Volterra, you will show more respect. I have told you before; they are not as tolerant of your insolence as I am."

"I still don't see why I have to go. I'd much rather stay with the Denali sisters again." I gritted my teeth in frustration, I'd told her time and time again, why she couldn't possibly retain the information I had no idea.

"Absolutely not, you are my responsibility so you are coming. It is a great honour to be invited to the ceremony, and we should both be very pleased for Demetri, now that he has found his mate." I ignored her huffs and complaints and decided to double check I had collected everything I would need to take with me. The rest could be disposed of.

"You still believe in all of that don't you? Having one mate for the rest of your life?" I knew she was referring to my very single status, being over seven hundred years old and still unmated was rare to say the least. I expected a jibe from her but her voice was not harsh or mocking this time, and it made me stop for a second. We had very different views on the nature of vampire relationships, to put it lightly; I was the traditional one while she favoured a much more modern approach.

"Of course, it is just a matter of time. Now get ready, I want to leave now." I held my head high as I turned to face her and spoke in an even tone. She nodded and went to her room, collecting her bags on the way.

I watched the setting sun from the window of our taxi and smiled at its beautiful simplicity. It was something I never tired of watching, despite the thousands I had seen. We had not been able to arrange private transportation from our apartment to JFK airport in the city so our driver was human, and Rosalie was struggling. I knew I would be able to stop her if she decided to act on her instincts but I still kept a close eye on her.

When we settled inside the car the black of her pupils was spreading and her hands were clenched at her sides, telling me that she was having trouble resisting. It was something she needed to practise. She needed to learn to be around humans comfortably in a non-feeding capacity. After attempting to make conversation our driver had fallen into silence, it was probably for the best, it would allow Rosalie to concentrate more. Ten more minutes and we would arrive at the airport. I had arranged for someone to see us through check in and security without any hassle, and so that Rosalie would not have to deal with large groups of people, which I knew she would find difficult. Resisting temptation was something she still needed to perfect.

"We should not be too much longer, he will drop us at the airport entrance and we can walk straight through." I spoke low enough so the driver would not hear us but I don't know how much reassurance my words provided her because she merely looked at me and nodded. I'd told her to hold her breath for the duration of the journey and I think part of the struggle for her was the uncomfortable sensation of not breathing when it was a habit she had gotten used to.

Thankfully our escort was waiting for us at the taxi rank, fully equipped to transport the inordinate amount of luggage Rosalie had deemed essential. Not that we would have struggled at all, but it would have looked strange for two human women.

"Good evening Miss Isabella my name is Peter. Your seven thirty flight to London Heathrow is scheduled to be on-time, flying conditions are good, and you should land at about half past eight in time to catch your connection at London Gatwick airport at nine o'clock to Florence." Peter was tall; almost more so than Rosalie despite her ridiculous insistence at wearing high heeled shoes whilst travelling. I had met him before; he had escorted me while I was on an assignment from Paris to Luxembourg. He was relatively young, a hundred years or so old but thankfully he did not feel the need to fill the time with mindless chatter. This I was grateful for.

"Very good. Thank you Peter. I trust that our luggage transportation has been taken care of." As a rule we never travelled with anything but the most essential luggage, anything else will go on a separate flight to a similar destination and be transported to me, if I needed to go somewhere unexpectedly I did not want to be loaded with the baggage I was already carrying.

"Yes, you will be able to personally escort your things onto the plane going to Rome before boarding your own flight."

"Are any others travelling with us?" I was sure I already knew the answer would be a no, but Aro was known to invite friends now and then, and the safest way to monitor them would be if they travelled with me.

"No Miss, you and Miss Rosalie are the only passengers, although I do believe Gianna will be there to meet you at Florence airport." At the mention of her name Rosalie swung her head around to look at Peter and gave him a mischievous smile, I think she even winked at him. Another bad habit, no doubt picked up from her time in Alaska. I sent her a warning look and she turned around again with a huff to examine her nails. Peter didn't seem to mind the attention.

"Gianna's presence is unnecessary but if it will appease Aro then I shall tolerate her." I understood the need for humans in the façade, especially within the confines of Volterra, and most of them kept to themselves. There were however, a few who secretly fancied themselves superior because of their position, Gianna was one of them. Yet for all the responsibility and importance she believes her job has, she will meet the same fate in the end as any other human in the Volturi palace. I had seen her, on several occasions demean and disregard members of her own kind in hope of earning respect amongst those around her. She thought herself a peacock, it was pitiful.

"Very good Miss. I can direct you to the plane in which your luggage will be travelling now but is there anything else you require of me before your flight."

"Yes actually Peter there is one more thing. I would like you to escort Rosalie to the plane and wait for me there." I didn't like having to treat her like she was cargo, but while I was under the eye of the Volturi, which I very much was with Peter around; I had to treat her in the manner that would be expected. A small part of me was thinking that she deserved it anyway, regardless of expectations, after all the trouble she'd been after her change. I sent her a sidelong glance and I knew without her saying anything that she understood. Despite all the fuss she made about having to go to Volterra, I knew she understood that it was my duty, one I could not ignore. True to form though, she scowled at Peter when he began to lead her towards our terminal, having given me directions to where our luggage would be loaded.

Another part of my reason for sending Rosalie along to the plane without me was to be able to walk amongst the people uninterrupted. I blended in reasonably well, as well as could be expected of a vampire. My clothes were nondescript, black trouser suit with a matching raincoat, but my pale skin and ochre coloured eyes could be considered unique I suppose. I hated having to wear contact lenses but they were a necessary evil, my usual colour would not sit well, despite Americans being fairly accepting nowadays.

I shook hands with the pilot who would be chartering the plane for our luggage to Rome by London. He was a short stout man, in his early forties and incredibly professional. I recognised his scent as I had met him before and I'd obviously made an impression because he made a small respectful bow before leading me to the aircraft for me to inspect it. If another vampire, other than Peter, had tried to tamper with my things, I would know.

"Your luggage should arrive with you no later than midday tomorrow Miss." I nodded my thanks to him and he seemed relieved that our exchange seemed to have come to an end. I didn't blame him. He expected a certain level of hostility from me, and even though he was mildly afraid, he had no idea why. Before he had been able to take a couple of steps away from me I'd tapped him on the shoulder, unwillingly startling him. I pressed two one hundred dollar bills into his palm and at first he looked at me questioningly, even when I lifted the corners of my mouth up into a smile and closed his fingers around the money.

"Miss, thank you, but I'll receive my payment at the end of the -" I could tell he wanted to take it but his sense of right and wrong made him pause. Good man.

"I know, think of it as a …tip. Use it to surprise your wife." I gestured down to the gold band on his wedding finger when he gasped at the mention of his wife. I smiled a little more encouragingly now, showing only a little of my teeth and felt accomplished when he took the money and shook my hand in both of his.

"Thank you Miss, thank you very much. I wish you a pleasant flight and a safe journey." I nodded my head in appreciation and this time I walked away from him without looking back. I liked being able to reward efficient humans, money meant nothing to vampires, but humans thrived on it, the money I'd given him he could use to treat his family, if he had children. It had certainly made me feel better anyway. I felt lighter, and as I walked among the crowds, watching the groups of people, I realised how much I'd missed my own family, and I suddenly couldn't wait to get back to Volterra.

Unfortunately Peter was not misinformed; Gianna was there to meet us at Florence. I smelled her at the same time as I saw her leaning against the car that would be taking us to Volterra. Why humans saturated themselves with ridiculous chemicals I don't know, their scents were quite potent enough on their own; perfumes only succeeded in making them smell intolerable at best. I pushed my sunglasses higher up on my nose as I looked at Rosalie who looked much happier when she saw the car, happy not to have to run anywhere. She had been tolerable on the flight, fairly quiet considering she hated flying, but she usually found something to moan about.

"Your royal princess, oh, I mean Highness, please allow me to welcome you to Florence, if there is anything you should need I would be more than happy to get you anything you want. Please feel free to ask me anything relating to our travel plans or the proceedings for the next few days, I know you've been away for a while, but we should be in Volterra soon, you must be so tired. " I growled lowly and gritted my teeth, did she know nothing? She actually had the audacity to curtsey and to welcome me back to my own home, as if I were a stranger. This was not what I needed, a human alerting everybody within a thirty metre radius that some kind of royal had arrived. The Volturi were all about not letting humans find out about vampires. She might as well have stuck a sign to her head.

I looked straight past her head of bouncing curls to Felix who I was more than happy to deal with instead of Gianna. His greeting was a lot less ostentatious; he gave a subtle, respectful bow of his head and fell in line beside me as we walked around the car.

"Deal with her Felix; I will indulge Caius' idea of a joke this once but I don't see any reason for me to have to see her again." I saw a small smile grace his lips as he guided her away from me where she was no doubt waiting to see if she could do anything else for me. Ludicrous.

Several other members of the guard were seated in the car and they greeted me in the same way that Felix had. Rosalie seated herself behind me and I had to stifle a laugh when I heard Gianna being instructed to make her way to Rome to escort my luggage back to Volterra. She'd enjoy that.

"I trust all the necessary preparations have been made." I didn't bother looking at Felix but I did keep my voice low, I wasn't keen on everyone hearing our conversation.

"Of course, you and Rosalie are actually the last ones to arrive." I knew he was just stating a fact instead of being disrespectful, which was one of the reasons why we'd worked so well together in the past, he respected my superiority of rank.

"I shall make my apologies to Demetri and his new mate; there were several cases that needed taking care of before I left."

"Demetri is honoured that you will be able to attend, he's anxious to introduce you to Adriana."

"I'd never miss a ceremony such as this, they're so rare nowadays, and many of us have forgotten the old ways." He didn't say anything for a while and I sat back and tried to enjoy the feeling of being trapped in this car while I had to endure it.

"Will you miss New York?"

"Not at all, the people are interesting but there are too many of them, too much cruelty and too many sloppy nomads." He let out a roar of laughter and I smirked when it surprised the rest of our passengers, a laughing Volturi guard was a rare sight indeed.

"You've been away too long, everyone has missed you at Court." His voice took on a softer tone, which was quite remarkable for someone as large as Felix.

"Even Caius?" He merely smiled in response and I didn't expect him to reply. It would be unforgiveable and dangerous to speak out of turn about one of the Royals, even if Caius' distaste for me was widely known.

"Aro will be sending me somewhere different after the post ceremonial celebrations, but I do not anticipate leaving such a great length of time between coming back to visit."

"I'm glad, ten years is a long time without family. Do you think you will stay in America?"

"Perhaps, but somewhere with less sunshine, there was a little too much in New York."

"What about Alaska?" Rosalie quickly shrunk back in her seat as I whipped my head round and growled at her. Thoughts of Alaska and the Denali coven had soured my mood and now I was all the more impatient to get to Volterra.

"Felix, how long will it be until we there?" I practically snarled at him and cursed once again that we had to be in this car in the first place. I wanted to run.

"Fifty minutes."

"Make it twenty."

Twenty five minutes later we reached the city wall and I felt a smile unconsciously grace my features. This was where I was meant to be. This was home.

I was greeted by Chelsea and Afton, a mated guard pair for whom I had much respect. We were inside the confines of the courtyard now, so a proper welcome was given. They bowed lowly and I nodded my head in return. I acknowledged Heidi as she transported Rosalie to her own chambers which I was extremely grateful for, she was always more than happy to look after her on official visits; she knew I didn't need any distractions. I was handed my long black cloak and the moment I slipped it on, the guards we had been travelling with fell into place around me, with Felix by my side. All this was merely a formality, there was no vampire who would be able to lay a hand on me even if I were unprotected, but the Volturi are extravagant, and I'm always willing to indulge my family.

Guests of the ceremony stopped to bow and greet me as I made my way to the main chamber, I could hear that there were many vampires within the palace, but this was not unusual. Demetri was a senior member of the Royal Guard; many would be privileged to have been invited to his mating ceremony.

The doors were pushed open in front of me and I smiled properly for the first time in a while. The room itself was imposing anyway but it had been decorated lavishly for the ceremony, I stared around at the crystal chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings and the flutes of fresh blood being passed around on trays. I took a deep breath and shuddered at just how fresh it all was. All the guests were dressed regally in the finest silks and fabrics; everyone wanted to look their best coming to Volterra. Gold curtains framed the large windows and I noticed new stained glass decoration had been put in place. The room itself seemed to scream occasion.

The guards dispersed themselves and there was nothing now between me and the three vampires sitting on the thrones at the end of the room. I made my way over to them in an instant and bowed lowly. I held Caius' hands in mine and dipped my head as I bowed. His face held no expression, even when Athenodora, his mate who liked me a lot more than he did, squeezed his shoulder.

I rose up slowly and moved to the right in front of Marcus. As always his eyes were sunken, they held so much sadness but for the sake of my return he managed a small smile which meant the world to me. He was undoubtedly the closest thing I had to a friend and even though his condition was unchanging, it still pained me to see him like this. I bowed lowly again, pressing his hands to my face in comfort. We made eye contact for a fraction of a second and I knew he was pleased that I had returned.

I moved up several steps to the bottom of Aro's throne and knelt down at his feet. I kept my head down but rose when I felt his thin hands come down on my shoulders, urging me to rise.

"Oh child, it pleases me greatly that you have returned to us. Welcome home Isabella!" He stood on the same level as me and pressed his hands to my cheeks softly. I closed my eyes and let my shield fall away from me completely, leaving no parts of my mind protected. I felt his power as it filtered through all of my memories, paying special attention to what had occurred in the past ten years. We stood there for a number of minutes while he absorbed everything over and over again; making sure that he hadn't missed anything. I always allowed Aro to indulge in this way; it was a small price to pay for living outside of Court.

"Fascinating, you certainly have been busy! There were so many! And you my dear exercise such control, such discipline! Your mind is a rare treat for me; you never cease to disappoint me." He clapped his hands together in delight

"I will always do my very best Father." I nodded my head and went to stand between his mate Sulpicia and bodyguard Renata who both smiled at me as I came over.

"That you will my child. Excellent! Now everybody has arrived! Friends, we are all here to celebrate the mating between Demetri of the Royal Guard to the lovely Adriana of Greece. I would like to thank all of you for being with us here today for this happy time but especially Isabella who has been away from us for so long. I offer my congratulations to the new pair, may their bond prosper!" A deafening round of applause spread throughout the hall and I would be surprised if the sound wasn't heard for miles around.

The ceremony was beautiful, as I knew it would be and if I could have cried, I would have had tears streaming down my face for the past few hours. I could see Demetri and his mate across the room and I smiled as he obviously tried to end a conversation with a member of the Amazonian coven so he could come over and greet me. I still hadn't had the opportunity to offer him my congratulations, but I was willing to wait. I stood with Marcus while I watched the mated couples together.

"Your time will come." I knew his hand would cover mine in support and I smiled up at him when it did. Nobody understood why I hadn't found my mate yet, or why he hadn't found me but I never gave up hope. After hundreds of years of being alone, I often wondered if there was something fundamentally wrong with me, after all I excelled in every other aspect of my life but being unmated was slowly becoming more and more of a burden every day. I rubbed my chest absentmindedly as I tried to quell the pain of being alone that was becoming more and more physical.

Vampires mate for life, and I longed for the day when I would belong to another and they would belong to me. The bond forged between the pair cannot be broken neither by distance nor death. Marcus' mate Didyme had been killed in an ambush three hundred and sixty seven years ago by a group of rebel vampires while she was hunting with her guard. The group were caught and suffered a very slow and painful death but nothing could and ever would ease the pain of losing a mate.

Ordinarily if a vampire should lose their mate, they have the right to come to the Volturi to plead for death, a wish that is always granted. It is said that there is no pain to rival that of losing a mate, not even the vampire transformation. Marcus is the only vampire I have ever heard of who has not been allowed to die at such a loss, I remember for years he begged his brothers to allow him to die but he was refused. If it had been allowed, the Volturi family would be incomplete and it was prophesized that the entire vampire kingdom would collapse, should the brothers not stay together. I personally didn't know what to believe.

Over time he accepted his fate but he has never known any happiness or anything but pain since Didyme's death. He is revered by vampires all over the world for being able to cope with such a loss, but he has no choice. Never again will he mate with another nor will the pain ever cease. I will always admire him for putting his pain aside for the sake of his brothers and for the protection of our secret, Aro may be our ruler but Marcus is undoubtedly the strongest.

I turned my gaze away from Marcus as I heard and smelt Demetri as he approached me. Marcus excused himself, he had already given his blessing during the ceremony and I knew he needed some time alone with his memories. Times like this were the worst for him.

"Isabella, please allow me the honour of introducing my mate Adriana. My love, Isabella is the daughter of the Volturi and one of the most extraordinary vampires I have ever known." They both bowed low to me and I smiled as they each took one of my hands.

"It brings me such happiness to see you mated Demetri, she is every bit as lovely as I imagined she would be. I congratulate you both." I made a careful effort not to make any movement towards the two, newly mated vampires could accidently perceive anything as a threat to their mate, so I had to let them come to me.

"Demetri has told me so much about you, it is such an honour that you came today, there are not words enough to thank you for your blessing." I turned to the olive skinned vampire in front of me and smiled at her compliments, I could tell she spoke truthfully, without any pretence or exaggeration. Her face was open and honest and her eyes bright, yes, Demetri had mated well.

"It was my pleasure to attend such a wonderful ceremony; Demetri is a skilled soldier and a loyal companion. I wish you both every happiness in the world." They both beamed at me and I was happy to answer the numerous questions he had for me about my recent time in America. Like Aro he was shocked by the number nomads still trying to turn vast numbers of humans into vampires, especially after the Southern Wars. Also like my father he had difficulty in understanding how I managed to resist the call of human blood, apart from when I was hunting criminals.

I decided a long time ago that I wasn't suited for life in the Volturi Court; instead I came to an agreement with my family that I would continue to guard the secret of our existence by eradicating those who threatened it and also eliminating as many human law violators as possible. I fed off murderers and rapists and arsonists, those who would pass under the weak human judicial system and continue to terrorise others. That was the compromise I had to make, I was allowed to live away from Court where innocent humans were used to feed the guard and rest of the Court but I had to maintain a partially human blood diet to make sure I was strong enough to carry out my work. The rest of the time I fed off of animals, although I made sure not to focus on any particular one too much, I didn't want to be the cause of a species becoming endangered. My diet was one of a kind but it was the only way I could live with myself.

The main chamber was mostly empty now; the majority of the guests had left to rejoin their covens and only the guard and residents of the palace were left. Jane fell into step beside me as I surveyed the room and I noticed Alec at the other end, watching us, he was never too far away from her.

"Aro tells me you'll be leaving us again at the end of the week. I'm surprised; I thought you might decide to settle." Her eyes showed no emotion; Jane and I had never had a problem with one another, despite my ability to block her power. Even when we'd worked together in the past; there had been no disagreements of any kind. She was sadistic, true, but this was the only world she knew, she had no memories of anywhere else. Mostly I pitied her, she could not understand why I didn't want to make Volterra my permanent home, I loved my family, of course I did, but it didn't mean that I had to agree with the way they did everything.

"It is true, I will be leaving again. I do not know where I'll be going. I must talk to Aro soon." Apparently the conversation was over, I watched her walk away and smiled to myself, Jane's unique air of self importance she had about her never ceased to amuse me.

I took my time to walk around the grounds, it was dark again now. Over twenty four hours had passed since my arrival and I smiled knowing that my things would have arrived safely. I thought of the trinkets I had collected, there were small things, but they were all significant to me. Most of them were things I saved for my mate, things I wanted to give him, when I found him.

I was glad that Rosalie had apparently been successfully occupied in the time I was busy. I didn't bother knocking on her door, instead walking straight through into her room to find her picking apart an engine. Earlier I'd bet that she couldn't tune all the cars in the palace courtyard by the time we had to leave again. My challenge played to her pig-headed side and she'd spent hours furiously combing through the cars trying desperately to improve them in any way she could.

She didn't acknowledge my presence and I sat down in a chair opposite the desk where she was working on the engine and waited for her to say something. She was clearly agitated; she was moving the soldering iron around with great precision and every now and then moving something to the side carefully. Apparently things weren't going her way and I wasn't surprised when she threw the whole thing against the wall in frustration, causing not only a terribly loud noise but also the death of one of the stone walls. But that was Rosalie all over, dramatic.

She let out a growl of frustration and turned to me, her eyes blazing in anger. I stared dully at her in response and lifted an eyebrow to question why she was acting so childishly.

"It won't work! I've been trying and trying for hours and it won't set!" As soon as she spoke, I knew the problem to which she was referring because the same thing had happened before. She was trying to manipulate a part of the engine into a different shape so she could slip something else in beside it, in order to do this she had to melt a few small parts but as soon as she touched them again, they cooled down, her cold hands rendered her tasks useless. And she couldn't wear gloves either, it wouldn't make much of a difference, and she wouldn't be able to be as precise as she wanted. I never bothered to learn the names of all the little bits, it didn't interest me.

"Try again Rosalie, be patient -"

"This is your fault, if I wasn't like this then I wouldn't have a problem." I could sense her tantrums a mile away and it seemed that this time wouldn't be any different.

"Yes because you had such a passion for automobiles as a human." I murmured sarcastically, hoping she'd give up her theatrics.

"I could have had, but you took that choice away from me!" She stormed towards me as she spoke but stopped suddenly the moment the words were out of her mouth, at times it was apparent that Rosalie had little to no respect for me, but she feared me well enough.

I spoke to her quietly, but in a deadly voice that I usually reserved for my victims.

"We are not having this conversation again; you are not to question my decisions. You must accept your life, for it is still a life." I left her standing there, knowing with absolute certainty that she wouldn't dare leave the room after I'd gone. I'd had quite enough of her for a while so I decided to find Aro and have the conversation about my future earlier than I'd planned.

Rosalie had always struggled to accept this life. But I could never regret my decision to change her, even if she made it more than obvious that she resented me for it. It was not a selfish decision; I did not make her as a form of company for myself, but because I had never seen a woman so broken, so helpless and so betrayed by the man she was going to marry, the man she thought loved her. She refuses to believe that she would have died without my intervention, but her life would have been most certainly over, and I only wanted to give her a chance to discover what life could really bring her. So far she had not been as eager as I had hoped.

The door in front of me opened without my even having fully approached it and I smiled as my father welcomed me inside.

"Such patience you have Isabella. I daresay she wouldn't have lasted as long here." His tone was not critical but I knew he didn't quite approve of how lenient I was with Rosalie.

"She is young, she will adapt."

"She has passed fifty years now. You my dear were far less trouble to me; you were in fact a delightful newborn." We both smiled at the memory and I sighed thinking just how long ago that was.

"Perhaps she will be better living with the Denali coven; I understand you're hesita -"

"No." I cut him off and couldn't even find it in me to regret it, one time was more than enough, if I had anything to say about it; she wouldn't get to see them again, no matter how well she got on with.

I reached over for his hand with mine and explained my thoughts fully to him.

"Child, I often forgot how much humanity you have retained. As long as they are loyal, I must allow them to continue, they are at least discreet with their activities." I sneered in disgust as I sifted through my memories, thinking of the visits I had made to the Denali coven in the past; their ways had never ceased to disturb me.

I remembered the sight of the large piles of bodies around their cabins. The Denali sisters, Kate, Irina and Tanya were notorious for what they did. The only reasons they were allowed to continue were that they were incredibly loyal to the Volturi so they were well respected and they had governed the area by themselves peacefully for many years. There was not a human soul in Alaska who knew even the smallest detail about the existence of vampires. They were despicable but careful, and the latter was what Aro regarded as admirable.

Once they had lured human men into their territory they were used for pleasure by the female vampires, except the sisters had no regard for human life. No regard for the frailty of the human body. They fulfilled their use until they were broken, no matter how painfully or inhumanly, and then they fed from them one by one until all was left was a mangled pile of torn flesh and bones. And then they would move on to others. They had been living and feeding this way for hundreds of years and in my mind they were an abomination. Not only did they neglect to have any respect for humans, but in their actions they desecrated the act of having a vampire mate. This was now something none of them would ever know of; they had ruined their bodies for empty pleasure and denied themselves the highest honour of belonging to one vampire.

The only reason I allowed Rosalie to stay with them for the shortest time was because Aro insisted and because it was essential that I travel alone with other members of the guard to visit the Transylvanian brothers to issue a warning. They had been somewhat disrespectful to our name.

"She will stay with me. I am her sire, she is my responsibility and she will honour the way I choose to live."

"Very well Isabella, I will respect your decision."

"Thank you Father. I truly believe she will settle, I only wish for her to be content."

"Yes, I see this. But what about your own contentment little one, this is of much greater importance to me." He didn't need to make contact with me again to know my thoughts on this subject, they'd been painfully clear for hundreds of years.

"I must admit to having only achieved a mild sort of contentment throughout my life so far, this is only for the lack of a mate. I could not have asked for a more enriching upbringing, you know that I am grateful for everything you have given me," he nodded his head in agreement and understanding and I took it as a sign to carry on.

"- but life without a mate, it is a difficult existence. Has anybody gone this long before without being mated, without finding their other half?" He held my hand and I knew his answer was no, I was an anomaly of sorts; my life span was far longer than it took the average vampire to find their mate.

"No. But you my dear deserve so much more than average. I cannot think of a vampire in existence that would truly deserve you. But, I do dream of the day when you will walk through those doors together. No union could make me happier." He gesticulated with his hands intertwined together on the word 'union'.

"Thank you Father."

"Isabella, I feel your sadness, your loneliness, your pain – it is much for one such as you to shoulder. I have counselled with my brothers on many occasions about this and while we may have showed our anxiousness for your bond to be forged with another in the past, we want you to be as happy as possible while you wait." I smiled ruefully, remembering the last time I stayed for an extended period in Volterra. Aro had summoned all of the known vampire covens to Volterra one by one, introducing me to every unmated male vampire he could find in the hope of bringing my mating forward. His attempts were unsuccessful and Caius often teases me that I will find my mate in one of the out of control newborns I so regularly hunt. Needless to say his comments are never taken lightly.

"I am still capable of carrying out my duties as I have done in New York."

"If that is the way you wish to continue then I am happy for you to do so, you seemed to enjoy your time in America. But I understand your reluctance to return to a city, and while I do not understand your peculiar diet little one, I know I cannot persuade you otherwise. With that in mind I want to send you to a somewhat greener environment." I leaned forward when I realised he'd made up his mind. He smiled at my eager attitude and stood up from where he was sitting.

"Where must I go?"

"Seattle, Washington."

Thank you for reading. I really hope you liked it; I've got quite a bit of this story mapped out in my head so writer's block shouldn't be a problem (in theory).

As always, please leave review with comments / suggestions / questions if you have any.

Also, if you're a 'Sight' reader, I'll be updating soon!

Thanks again,

Aurora