A/N: Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks to tiffanyanne3 for the beta and radar1230 for the pre-read. I made a few changes after they looked, so any mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended
As I drank, the weakness I hadn't even realized I was experiencing began to fade. As the pain in my throat receded, the smells and sounds from around me became crisper and cleaner. The voices were all atwitter at the moment, especially the one I had tossed aside so effortlessly; he was obviously itching for retribution.
"There are courtesies, Aro!" he complained hotly. "Especially concerning feeding. Everyone knows this—you've made certain of it. Disrespect is always punished."
"In most cases, I would agree, Felix." Aro's voice was conciliatory, but at the same time, resolute. "This, however, is a special situation, a unique set of circumstances. He is as green as a newborn, obviously as unpredictable, and apparently without memory. He is unaware of the… rules."
"It's our job to teach them," Felix growled.
"Again… in most cases, I would agree. But this time… Well, this time, I'm far more interested in observing than punishing."
The conversation trailed off, yet I registered that not all of the dialogue was vocal. The nondescript hum of conversation that had previously been buzzing in my head was now crystal clear. It took me a moment to realize that I was hearing their thoughts.
Felix was still grumbling about payback, teaching lessons and enforcing the rules.
Aro was contemplating how much more I would need to eat before my strength returned and we could continue our journey to Alaska.
The tinkling soprano voice was worried about how I would respond when I regained my memory and realized what I had done.
For a moment, her words caused me to wonder. What I had done? Then I was once again gulping air instead of nourishment, and all questions fled my mind. The need to feed once again dominated. I dropped the spent, lifeless body and moved on to the next. Ignoring its terrified screams, I snapped its neck efficiently and effortlessly before burying my teeth in tender flesh and drinking deeply.
Will we get to feed at all, or was this all for him? Felix thought bitterly. I should reap the benefits of my own hunt!
From the corner of my eye, I saw him move slightly in my direction. I growled lowly, deep in my chest, and my arms circled the object in my arms possessively, pulling it closer to my chest as if I could protect it from him. The sound of crunching bones barely registered as my teeth sank even deeper and rich liquid flowed freely into my mouth. As my stomach filled, the frenzy to feed began to diminish. Slowly, I began to come back to myself, although I was still growling possessively and clutching desperately at the object in my arms.
Yes! Aro thought triumphantly.This is natural. This is the way things should be, not Carlisle's abominable attempt to be… humane. He snorted in derision. Feeding only on animals is ludicrous, impossible! It will never fill the need, never taste as sweet…
His thoughts finally jolted me from the haze in which I'd been ensnared. I reluctantly lifted my head, a few drops of liquid trailing down my chin. Raising a hand, I brushed at the mess, feeling the warm stickiness spread against my face and fingers. As if in slow motion, I glanced down to my hand; it was stained crimson, and though I was now fully replete, my mouth began to water anew at the sight. Unable to stop, I lifted my hand in order to lick the blood from my fingers.
"It tastes good, doesn't it?" Aro asked. His voice was sickly sweet and overly pleased.
I paused in my action, fingers hovering in front of my lips. My eyes darted to his face. He was smiling victoriously.
"Personally, I don't know how you've lived so long abiding by Carlisle's misguided sense of compassion. Doesn't it feel good? Eating your natural prey…" He cocked his head to the side and quirked his eyebrow in question.
An odd tugging sensation teased the corners of my mind, almost like a rubber band being stretched to encompass an object. When it snapped back into place, realization—and memory—came with it. My gaze moved from his face to the now-unrecognizable mass in my arms, and I gasped in horror. Dropping the body to the ground, I collapsed next to it, overcome with shame and self-loathing. I tore at my hair, spreading the blood—the damning evidence of my weakness—all over my head.
"No!" I screamed.
"Welcome back, Edward," he stated pleasantly.
I turned on him with a growl. Memories flashed through my mind. I saw it all—my life with Carlisle and my family, my relationship with Bella, my… history… with those standing in front of me here today: standing before Aro eleven years ago, asking for death when I thought Bella was dead; Aro's obvious interest in Bella when she was presented a few days later, immune to their powers; the gift he sent Bella upon hearing of our engagement; the messages from Volterra following our marriage, always asking about Bella; the constant moving ever since, along with the knowledge that they would never rest, that we were never safe…
"Yes… I see that you've remembered now. Good, good…" he stated, advancing on me with hand outstretched.
I recoiled in response. "Don't touch me!" I yelled as I scrambled to my feet and out of his reach.
"Now, now, Edward. Don't be like that," he chided, hand still outstretched. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way. It's up to you."
Although I knew that escape was next to impossible, the blood now flowing in my veins gave me a strength I hadn't felt in years. The six Volturi members were all standing in front of me; the path to the woods behind was clear. Without further thought, I turned to run.
Aro tsked. "Jane? A little help, please?"
I'd only taken one step when searing pain once again dropped me to my knees.
A/N: I stayed with Edward a bit longer than planned this time because I didn't want to break up the recollections of his rebirth and first few experiences. We'll be hearing from Bella again for the next few chapters.
Thanks for reading!