A/N: I tried to get it out by Monday but alas...I failed. Anyways, here is the chapter. As always thank you for reading, it warms my heart that you readers are enjoying the story. It's a little different, sort of a two in one with the point of views shifting midway through.
Disclaimer: I own nothing directly associated with and or resembling Twilight. I own this plot and publically unrecognized characters.
"It's hard to see a way out, isn't it?"—Miss Lulu Bett, 1921
I had seen many changes in the girl I had once known, more so over the last year but no change could compare to the one I saw as she uttered four words. Respect it or leave.
Sitting on that dock, staring out into the ocean I could see the gears of her mind working. I wasn't privy to her thoughts, though some of them were quite easy to read as they moved across her face, but imagined that she thought of her mother. The girl I knew would have thought of her mother on a day like this. I imagined that she thought of the love that surrounded her and was filled with gratitude. I imagined that she thought about her guitar and how much effort and care went into to the creation of such an instrument solely to make her happy. I hoped that she gave me a passing thought — never had I imagined that her thoughts or even her feelings could be so . . . decided.
In many ways I had to thank the boy for his persistence, it gave me an insight I would not have gotten otherwise. When he came to her, boots in hand, she seemed less than pleased. She wanted to be alone, that much was clear. From what I had observed their friendship seemed to be one of push and pull, he'd push too far into her personal space and she'd pull away enough to where she felt safe. I couldn't deny that they cared for each other, or that she loved him — she had said the words herself. They obviously got on, that much was clear by the chemistry they shared musically. But, on that dock, he pushed too far and she refused to pull away, to retreat.
"Isn't no enough?"
It should have been enough.
Honestly, the revelation that she loved me and that it didn't matter how or why, had me reeling. Should such a young person love so decidedly? How could she know for sure? The boy made a fair point about free will and choice. More than the confusion it incited in me, I questioned why she felt this way about me. It was entirely possible that she was infatuated with a memory and not in love at all. I hoped it wasn't that case.
Then he challenged her and I could see on her face that she did not like it. She drew a line and told him what she would do if he crossed it. It was a fine line to walk, the one between compassion and determination — both shone in her deep dark eyes. She didn't want to hurt him but she wanted him to understand where she stood. No one is immune to rejection but only the weak lash out and injure when spurned.
"Does hurting me make you feel better?"
There was a wealth of maturity in her that I had not expected.
Her focused snapped from him to something else in a moment, their discussion was forgotten. She canted her head towards the party above, noting the lack of music. It was strange watching her in that moment, she seemed to be tasting the emotional climate, almost as if she could feel the danger in the air. Her eyes widen as something caught her attention. She was quick, a lot quicker than I would have thought, as she took the steps up to where the party took place.
Panic grew in her eyes as she looked on at the scene, but she wasn't surprised. Frighten? Yes. Weary? Naturally. But she had expected this, or perhaps she just expected things like this to happen to her. Either way, I began to feel a tightness in my chest, like a fist clenched around my heart.
They held her people, but most importantly, her uncle hostage. The savages were darkly dressed and seemingly human, much as they had appeared to be on the night Isabella's family had been killed but Eleazar knew different. He called them by another name, Dhampir. It meant hybrid, half human, half vampire. As the men talked, demanding that they turn her over to them, Bella's face grew more and more determined. She moved to take a step forward and Noah grabbed, holding her in place. I owed him a debt of gratitude for that. Still, she struggled, both against the arms that held her and her own morals. It went against the grain to let people suffer for her.
The fist tightened around my heart and though it was a fruitless act, I seemed to be incapable of taking a breath.
The Dhampir promised to let everyone go if only they would turn her over, claiming that they knew she was there by her scent. They were threatened and before my eyes loyalty faltered. They were no longer people from the same ilk but individuals, out to save themselves. I was sure that Bella knew this, that she felt the shift in their hearts. As hard as I looked, I couldn't see an ounce of anger in her at this.
I could not say the same for us. We felt the betrayal keenly and watched as powerless as we had been ten years ago as she broke free from Noah's grasp and pushed her way into the small clearing in the yard.
Shutting out the noise in my own home, I prayed for her safety. She pleaded, calmly, for their lives, for the lives of the people she loved so deeply. This night and the one she had lived as a child were painfully similar, down to the predator holding her captive. Just as alone as she had been when she was six she stood there in presence of evil and I could do nothing. Her aunt seemed paralyzed, unable to move or blink. Her cousins, Lila, Viola and Dana stood together, pale and just as paralyzed as the Dhampir approached.
The pain in my chest was becoming unbearable, the shortness of breath causing the edges of my vision to blur. This shouldn't have been happening but it was. I could feel the hands of my family on my shoulders but I refused to look away from the scene unfolding in front of me.
"Alles ist gut, Bella." Her uncle's voice trembled as he said his farewell.
"Nein . . . aber es wird sein."
The girl motivated by compassion and a strong moral compass gave way to another, one who was fierce. The change was evident in her eyes, which burned with rage. This girl, this witch was a warrior with one purpose, survival. Her movements were swift; she didn't flinch as her elbow smashed into the predator's nose. She wielded the blade with ease and deadly precision, slipping it between ribs and across the second Dhampir's throat. Her hands were covered in blood, either she didn't notice or didn't mind, and brought them to her chest as if she was attempting to hold her heart.
Her shoulders shook and the rest of the men rushed towards her. Their leader watched with equal parts terror and fascination, letting go of Nik as he stepped closer to her. The mirror on which we watched began to rattle, quivering against its frame as tiny fissures began to appear. Was it affected by her? When the Dhampirs were close enough to touch Bella dropped her hands and a ring of fire rose from the ground, surrounding her and them. She screamed and the fissures grew wider and longer, spreading, cracking and then all at once the mirror shattered. Shards of glass crashed to the floor and in those fragments I saw the flames she had summoned surged and reached for each of the intruders, engulfing them and reducing each into nothing but ash.
With her out of immediate danger, the pain in my chest vanished, my lungs filled with superfluous air easily but my sole concern was her. No one moved to comfort her, to see if she was ok — they just watched. She sank to her knees in front of her uncle, her chest heaving and tears rolling down her ashen face. Pale and weakened, Bella lost consciences, falling forward onto the grass.
This was the first time I had seen what she was truly capable of and it left me speechless.
"Do you know what you've done!"
I could feel nails digging into my arm as Jo dragged my semi-conscious body across the yard into the house. The door slammed behind us, echoing through the house like thunder — a warning anyone foolish enough to come knocking.
"Do you have any idea what you have just done?!"
My aunt hardly ever raised her voice but when she did it was excruciating. My ears and head rang, both from what I had done and her screaming. But what I was really concerned with was my inability to regain my balance. My vision was blurry, fuzzy around the edges, and now my aunt's talons dug into my both my arms.
The anger pulsed, her aura rippling like the air above asphalt on hot summer day. Some it seeped into me. She should be grateful — I saved him, for her, for me, for all of us.
I saved him! I wanted to say but I couldn't form the words.
"Stay out of this, Nikolaus."
"You're hurting her, Jo."
There was a brief moment of silence, her fingers relaxed and I stumbled backward, catching myself on table Jo kept in the foyer. Slowly, I opened and closed my eyes; trying to focus them. My cousins were nowhere to be seen, Nate and Noah were gone as well, only my aunt and uncle stood in front of me. Jo had always been a definition of peace; her temper ran cool but as I looked into her fierce eyes I struggled to find the person I had known for so long. Nik stood behind her, a little worse for wear and bleeding onto his shirt but at least he didn't look angry.
"I told you," she started in a low voice. "I told you to stay put. You have exposed yourself to them all. Do you think they'll protect you? They won't, Bella!" Her voice gradually went up an octave until she was screaming again, pointing her long graceful finger at the door. "They will sell you to The Order in a blink of an eye and there will be nowhere for you to hide, nowhere for your cousins to hide, all because you had to save Nik. They have speculated about you for years but you went and showed them what you really are!"
"And what is that?"
She paused, talked aback by my question."What?" She whispered.
"What am I? Witch? Mulo? I am the fucking reckoning?! What am I?! Tell me, now!"
"Where . . . where did you hear that word?"
I lifted my chin. "Eva."
We stood there in the foyer, glaring at each other. I had crossed a line going to Eva, I had known then that my aunt would never approve. I couldn't go back and I didn't want to. She flicked her eyes to Nik, who looked away in guilt.
"You knew." Jo accused.
"Yes," Nik breathed.
"Did she tell you or . . . "
"I knew the moment I saw Eva watching her at the bonfire."
She shook her head. "How could you keep such a thing from me?"
"She asked and I couldn't refuse her, love . . . not this time."
"Not this time," Jo repeated before rounding on me again, anger simmering just as hot as before. "How could you go to that woman? After I warned you to stay the hell away from her. You don't know the blackness of her heart!"
"I know how cruel she is but I was lost and needed something that you couldn't give me. Something you still won't give me. What else needs to happen? Who else needs to die?"
I wondered if she knew about every face Eva had shown me. In my mind, I laid them out for her to see. It was painful but needed her to see, to understand why I had done it. Jo continued watching me, as impenetrable as stone, she gave nothing away.
"Answer me!" I had never yelled at her this way but the possibility was too much to bare. "You have no right to be mad at me, none. I saved them, they would have killed you all. I saved him!"
"At what expense? You sound like a child. You saved him but you fail to realize how vulnerable you've made yourself."
"What did you want me to do, let them kill Nik?"
"Yes, because it was his time." Behind her, Nik looked at me with more sadness in his eyes that I had ever seen. He had known.
"You knew, you both knew." I swallowed hard against the lump that had formed in my throat. "And then what, feel what I felt coming from you out there for the rest of my life?" I asked, walking closer to her. "The despair, the agony, the pain . . . every day." I let them seep out of me and into the room, into her. She gasped, reached behind her for support. Nik moved to hold her. "Is this what you wanted me to feel? You can barely stand it, and there is so much more of it. How much more guilt do you want me living with? How much more pain do you think I can hold?"
"You must learn to make the difficult choices, the painful ones. When will you learn?"
"So I am supposed to sacrifice people I love to save myself."
"Yes, when the time calls for it."
A felt cold, deep in my bones I felt frozen at the realization of what she was telling me. "No, I won't."
Her brow furrowed in disappointment. "You've learned nothing and time for lessons is running out. Our way of life depends on you, not me or your cousins or Nik. People have made sacrifices for this and tonight you threw it away. Go to your room. Now. I don't want to look at you."
For a long moment, I just stood there, feeling my life tip on its axis, yet again.
"You're just like her, Jo." I told her "Losing him would've destroyed you just like it wrecked her. She couldn't fight or think or protect me. She left me to them because she was already broken. You can pretend that you made peace with all of this but you and I know better. I know how you really feel, you can't hide that from me."
I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and slammed my door. Leaning against it I looked at my hands, they were shaking and bloody. I felt like screaming and for the first time since coming to live here I did exactly what I felt like doing. I screamed until my lungs gave out and until my throat burned. I wasn't sure when I started crying but when I slid to the floor my face was wet.
Carlisle hid under my bed, alarmed by me and the fit I seemed to be throwing. Eventually, I laid down, the hardwood cold under my cheek. From where I laid I could see my mother's book and the one Nana Cora had given me, their pages open to stories and spells. I glared at them as if by doing so I could glare at women who wrote them and all the things they kept from me. All the things they placed on my shoulders.
I don't know how long I laid there or when I drifted off to sleep but woke suddenly. I felt two arms scoop me up and place me on my bed. When I opened my eyes my uncle was hanging my dress and I was in an old shirt and shorts. He turned on the bedside lamp, illuminating not only the bowl of water and cloth he had brought with him but also half moon scratches on my arms. Quietly he sat and whipped my hands and arms clean; the warm lavender scented water felt good.
"Bella," he started. "I'm sorry."
"For?" I rasped, my voice raw from the screaming earlier.
"For so many things. Life will be much harder and death will be much closer to home." I looked away, thinking on Eva's words. "I should've have died tonight. Before you raise your voice, listen to me. It was my time. I've known this long since before I met Jo."
"My mother, she had The Sight." He smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. "'Dhampir will come and in front of your most treasured gift you will die.'"
I frowned, what an awful thing to say to your child. If I ever had such a vision I would bury it deep in my soul and give my life to change it.
"Your aunt has always had a different set of rules for you, and as unfair as it seems to you, they are there for a reason. To teach you. To mold you into the person you need to be when the time comes that we are no longer here to guide you. You need to be strong and vulnerable, kind and ruthless. It is a fine line that you must walk but I'm sure that you will find balance."
I said nothing, just watched our shadows on the wall.
"I am humbled by your love, that you sacrificed yourself but from here on out, I need you to obey your aunt — no matter what."
"But — "
"No, it isn't a request. I need your word, Bella. If she should tell you to hide, you hide. If she should tell you to leave with your cousins and run, you run without question. Understood?"
Still, I said nothing.
"Bella." He whispered, expecting my promise.
"You have my word."
"Good. Now, sleep."
He left the room as quietly as he had entered. I couldn't sleep, instead, I went to the window and threw it open. The air was cold but it reminded me of another room in tiny town on the other side of the country. Grabbing the blanket off the bed I sank into my overstuffed chair and watched the ocean, wondering if my life would have been any different if I had stayed with Charlie.
A/N: I hope that you all enjoyed the chapter. Thank you for reading!