I own nothing other than deep regrets it has taken so long to get this up. More at the end.
Chapter 18: Moving toward the goal
Edward felt as if he was floating, his limbs drifting effortlessly, yet his eyelids were heavy and he could not open them. He began to struggle, fighting the blindness and darkness futilely. His head thrashed back and forth furiously.
"Shhh…" a soft whisper soothed, a cool hand brushing over his forehead and down over his cheek. "You'll be okay. Promise. Just relax, Edward. I'll be here when you wake up."
Edward calmed immediately but still could not find the strength to force his eyes open. A brush of soft lips against his cheek barely registered in his mind before the darkness overwhelmed him again. Before he could lose himself to the void, some unknown force jerked him backwards.
Edward? I need to show you something. Please hurry!
Edward felt himself move toward the gentle voice in his head. The darkness lightened more and more until he found himself standing alone in the music room at Masen Manor.
"Marie? Anthony?" he whispered, scanning the room anxiously. Perhaps Maggie's spell had reversed itself and he, Bella and Maggie were now back at the manor house. "Bella? Maggie?"
But no one answered. Edward crossed the room, his steps echoing in the empty room. Edward stopped in front of the bookcase where Anthony's journal had been found and looked for any clues they may have missed. He found nothing new but he did spy two very familiar mirrors mounted on opposite walls of the room.
Suddenly, the sound of someone quickly walking down the hall broke his exploration. The music room door flew open and a young woman with blonde hair scurried in, her rosy cheeks flush with excitement. She looked around frantically before taking a deep breath and calmed herself.
"Hello, I'm Edward Cullen," Edward said politely, holding out one hand in introduction. "You must be Marie."
She ignored him and positioned herself next to the harpsichord, gazing toward the door expectantly. She repositioned herself several times, leaning to one side and then to another, straightening her skirts then pulling down her bodice only to pull it back up.
Marie listened and her face broke into a huge grin as the sound of someone coming down the hall.
Edward smiled as Anthony entered the room, closing the door behind him. Marie squealed and quickly ran into his arms—walking right through Edward, leaving him quite perplexed. She reached up, threw her arms around Anthony's neck and peppered kisses on his face and cheeks.
Edward realized he was watching what had happened and that Marie and Anthony could not see him. This was what the voice had said they wanted to show him. He focused all of his attention on what unfolded before him.
"Good to see you, too," Anthony smiled.
Edward was shocked to hear the voice. It was deep and rich, full of love and adoration.
Up until this point, he'd only heard a few whispery snippets. It was not at all what he had expected.
"So what is my surprise?" Marie asked, jumping up and down excitedly.
"Patience, my bride," he grinned, pulling a book out of his jacket. "Did you get everything packed for Chicago?"
She nodded furiously while happiness flowed from her. Edward smiled but felt a little as if he were intruding on a very private moment.
Anthony took Marie's hand and gently led her to the harpsichord. He took his seat and smiled up at her as she placed her hands on his shoulders. He flipped through a few pages before settling on a particular one. Edward walked up behind the couple and took note of which page just as Anthony began to play.
"Just for you," Anthony murmured, closing his eyes as he concentrated on the music.
Edward recognized the tune as the one he had played for Bella just a few weeks before. She had been moved by the passion in the music and had even shed a tear, though she would probably punch him in the arm if he brought it up. He smiled as he thought of her. If there was anyone in the world he could pick to solve this mystery with, he was thankful it was Bella Swan.
Anthony continued to play as Marie leaned down and lightly kissed him on the temple, earning a big smile.
"I love you," she whispered as he continued to play.
"As I love you," he murmured sincerely.
As Anthony played, neither he nor Marie noticed the mirrors begin to shimmer and vibrate. A low hum, just barely perceptible, emanated from the glass went by undetected, as well.
Edward watched, helplessly, knowing he couldn't warn them. No sooner had the last notes faded from the air when the mirrors began to wildly rattle and glow with a green light.
"What in …" Marie began before she was pulled toward one wall. Eyes wide with fear, she reached toward Anthony who stood and grabbed for her hands, just missing her fingertips. "Anthony!" she cried.
Horrified, Edward watched as Marie shrieked as she floated up in the air to the mirror over the fireplace. At the same moment, Anthony rose from the floor, choice words falling from his lips as he was jerked across the room toward the other mirror.
And suddenly all was silent. Edward stood in the middle of the room, his head turning from one side to the other. He could see shadowy images of the couple, locked within their own glass prison just before everything went black again.
Bella sighed as Edward slumped back onto the mattress. She turned in her chair and threw a glare at Maggie who stood silently next to the fireplace.
"You said it would sting but God almighty, Maggie, he's been unconscious for hours," Bella hissed. She straightened a light blanket over Edward's chest.
"Well, I wasn't expecting him to get hit in the back of the head with the front door as we were transported," Maggie sniffed indignantly before turning to poke at a pitiful fire that belched forth with more smoke than flame.
"No, I suppose that's not quite something one plans for."
Bella gazed back at Edward's unconscious body. He appeared to be resting peacefully, his lips pouting ever so slightly in his sleep. She smiled at the boyish face and couldn't resist one last caress before sighing and turning back toward Maggie.
Maggie appeared to be in a world of her own, muttering under her breath as her frustrations at the fire that wasn't.
"Oh, bother!" she finally muttered before snapping her fingers sharply. "Enough of this."
The smudgy, pitiful smolder burst forth into a proper, cheery fire immediately. A marked increase in temperature grew as the flames popped and crackled merrily, and Maggie gave a self-satisfied nod at the fireplace before turning toward Bella who looked at her in disbelief.
"I don't know what witches do in your time, but in 1820, we don't flaunt our gifts," Maggie sniffed indignantly. "And we can't always snap our fingers and have everything we desire. There are rules and limitations."
"I'm afraid I don't know any witches so I can't tell you." Bella shrugged after a few moments silence. "So where do we go from here?" she inquired softly, not noticing that her hand had instinctively taken one of Edward's and gripped it gently.
"Go? We're not going anywhere, Bella," Maggie huffed, one eyebrow cocked in confusion. "We barely escaped an attack on Masen Manor, and I'm not about to go anywhere without knowing for certain I will be safe."
"No, not go as in travel. Go as in what course of action do we take."
"Well then why didn't you say so?"
"I thought I did."
"Well, regardless of semantics, we need to determine why Alaric would do this?"
"You're certain that it was Alaric?"
"Of course! I was facing the door when I cast the spell transporting us here. He saw all of us." Maggie glared briefly at Bella, her gray eyes flashing as if she could not believe anyone would doubt her recognition of her brother's best friend. Her shoulders slumped in defeat. "I never knew he had any magical ability, though."
"Isn't it obvious to other people with the gift?" Bella's free hand ran gently over Edward's hand, tracing the long fingers absentmindedly.
"Um…no. We don't usually advertise the ability. Rather the opposite. We spend most of our existence hiding it from others, in some cases even family members." Maggie looked embarrassed and ducked her head for a brief moment.
"So no secret handshake or anything?" Bella teased lightly. She needed something to lighten the mood. Anything.
"Secret handshake? Why in the world…"
"A joke, Maggie."
"Oh. I see. Maybe."
Bella sighed and turned back toward Edward and brushed an errant curl off his forehead. In his sleep, he smiled faintly, earning a grin in return. She noticed a faint blush tinge his cheeks as if he had thought some naughty thought. This was a dramatic improvement over the first hour where his skin had taken on a deathly pallor.
"So where are we?" Bella asked quietly.
Maggie straightened up in her seat.
"This is my house. It's a few miles away from Masen Manor and isn't complete yet, hence we are all in one room." Maggie waved one hand around the cramped quarters made more so by the addition of two crates containing the mirrors and a harpsichord.
"It's fine," Bella assured.
"I hadn't told Mother and Father or Anthony that I'd started building this because I did not want them to try and talk me out of it but really, after a hundred years living at home, you just have to go out on your own."
Bella blinked silently a few times at the revelation. Apparently, Maggie was much older than she had imagined.
"I mean, sometime I hope to find my someone special and I'd like to have a place of my own to take them to since Masen Manor will go to Anthony."
"But you're older!"
Maggie smiled sadly at Bella.
"I'm female, Bella," Maggie whispered. "And in case you don't realize it, I'm not a Masen."
"A Masen. Much can be held in a name."
Bella silently gazed at Maggie, knowing the older woman was right. Even two hundred years in the future she had faced the prejudices of those that thought having two X-chromosomes was a hindrance to the ability to think.
"Well, if it's any consolation," Bella said gently, "in two hundred years, you are a successful woman." She stood and crossed the room to where the harpsichord stood.
"Thank you. That does mean something."
The small journal Edward had spent so much time studying for clues lay on top of the instrument. Bella picked up the book and thumbed through it. The music and notations meant absolutely nothing to her. She glanced back over at the bed, hoping he'd wake up soon so they could get the end of this mess.
Bella crossed her arms and hugged herself tightly.
"Wake up," she whispered pleadingly.
My sincere apologies for the delay—between the holidays, a 10 day visit from family, and two rather serious (but remedied) health issues on my part, I have not been able to write anything until this past week. And even then, a vicious original fiction plot bunny bit and I couldn't write a word until that was laid to rest.
But here I am! We are probably 3 good chapters away from the end and I've set the goal to finish before I go to Disney in mid-February so there you go!
I am truly grateful for your continued support and treasure every review, PM, and recommendation whether it's for HOH, EE, or any of my one shots.