Ten thousand pardons but RL just wasn't kind to the writing muse.
Chapter 19: Showdown solution
Edward stirred in his sleep as the soft voice floated through his mind.
One more thing, Edward. Before you go. One more thing. Please. You need to know this if you're ever going to help us.
Edward felt himself slightly nod and a sensation of peace floated over him. The darkness surrounding him lightened again and he found himself back in the music room. He saw the mirror over the fireplace and thought he discerned a hint of cream fabric swish across the glass. The second mirror, though, was leaning against the bookcase, an open crate next to it.
The sound of boots clomping down the hall interrupted his perusal of the crate and mirror. Edward flattened against the wall, forgetting momentarily that no one could see him. He shook his head in mild self-disgust as he remembered that he was merely an invisible observer to all of this.
"Master Alaric! Master Alaric!" Fritz called from down the hall. "I have already told you that Master Anthony is not here."
"I'm not here to see Anthony, Fritz," an impatient grumble bit back just as the two entered the library.
Edward's eyes widened as Fritz and Alaric crossed the room and headed for the mirror and crate. It only took a moment before he recognized the second man as Bella's personal assistant, Eric. Gone were the flamboyant rhinestone-encrusted glasses, spiked hair, and bright clothes and in their place was a plain gray wool ensemble, flashing black eyes and hair plastered down with some unknown oil. Edward shuddered at the coldness that seemed to seep from every pore of this Alaric person.
Alaric glanced quickly around the room as if afraid of being caught but when he saw the mirrors, still glowing ever so slightly, a faint grin of satisfaction graced his lips. Suddenly, he cocked his head and his brow furrowed as if he saw something amiss. Alaric walked over to the harpsichord just in front of where Edward stood.
Edward held his breath and pressed himself further back against the bookcases. He had no idea to what extent this man's powers extended but now knowing the man was an exceptional witch that had outfoxed Maggie for two centuries made him extra wary. It would do no good for him to be discovered if Alaric had that talent.
Alaric picked up the journal that lay open in the music stand and quietly closed it, ignoring the older man fussing behind him. He opened the lid of the bench and tossed the book into it before turning back to a near frantic Fritz.
"I told you before that a set of mirrors I ordered from France was delivered here by accident, and I am going to take them down and pack them away before Mrs. Masen returns. You do know how much she hates mirrors."
Alaric waved dramatically around the room, earning a nod of agreement from Fritz.
"Milady does have passionate feelings toward mirrors," Fritz agreed, rubbing his hands worriedly as if Mrs. Masen would appear at any given moment.
"So be a good man and find me a hammer so I can crate up this abomination and remove it from the premises. I'll be out of here quicker than a wink, and we will all be happy."
With a quick bob of a bow the older man hustled out of the room, leaving Alaric alone. He turned slowly toward the mirror propped up against the bookcase before kneeling down. Alaric lightly rapped on the glass. Edward saw the hazy image of Anthony appear.
"Sorry, old friend," Alaric murmured, eyes half-closed as he caressed the wood frame of the mirror ever so gently. "I hate doing this to you, but you caused a problem that wasn't going to go away. That child just can't be."
The mirror on the wall rattled frantically. Edward saw a shadowy Marie pounding on the glass from the inside, her face contorted in a scream.
"Oh, hush," Alaric groaned, tossing a small ball of yellow light over his shoulder toward the mirror which suddenly fell silent.
Alaric stood and turned toward the fireplace. He looked up at the glass, a deadly anger flashing in his eyes.
"If you had just kept your mouth and legs shut," he muttered, brushing a few pieces of dust off his coat absent-mindedly. "Then we could have…"
Fritz burst into the room, a small hammer in his hands. Alaric took it and with a glare sent the servant scurrying from the room.
"Now I finish this," he muttered before pounding the nails into place.
Edward felt as if the hammering was echoing in his head and covered his ears in a feeble attempt to block out the sound.
The pounding continued, long and loud and insistent.
Bella and Maggie looked at one another in silent shock.
"I thought you said no one knew about this house," Bella hissed.
"No one does!" Maggie insisted.
The knocking at the front door continued and Bella feared the hinges would give way before the person on the other side of the door gave up. The faint jangling of metal accompanying the knocking sounded oddly familiar to Bella and she looked disbelievingly over at Maggie.
"That can't be…" she began just as Maggie cautiously approached the door.
"Mah-genta, I know you are in der," came Sweetie's voice. "Open da doah. I have someone here who can help."
"Who in the world is that?" Maggie whispered.
"It sounds like Sweetie," Bella quietly replied, glancing over at the still sleeping Edward. His face had changed. Instead of the peaceful slumber, his face was now pinched in a scowl. She reached over and gently stroked his cheek, earning a slight relaxing of the body but the tension was still there.
"Care to tell me who this Sweetie person is?" Maggie demanded, straightening her back. A soft glow began to radiate from one hand and Bella knew a spell was being conjured before her.
"She's your secretary in our time. She's your best friend in the world and another witch. She's a Nigerian albino and has a wicked sense of humor," she replied in a rush.
Maggie blinked silently at these revelations. She quickly processed this information, her mind a bit muddled at the facts so different from the reality she knew in 1820. The faint hum that had accompanied the glow slowly faded.
"Well, I guess I better let her in, then, right?"
"It would be polite."
Maggie nodded more to herself and unlocked the door. Sweetie and a tall, dark haired man entered the room. Maggie straightened her back and stood between the newcomers and the bed where Edward still lay unconscious.
"Are you alright?" Sweetie quickly asked Bella who nodded.
"Best I can be."
"Ahnd Edward?" She straightened her voluminous orange and brown dress as she glanced at the bed.
"He'll be fine in about five minutes," the stranger announced with certainty.
Bella glanced over at the man. She knew she had never seen him before. He was almost seven feet tall with dark black hair and wore a charcoal gray suit in a similar style to Edward's. She instantly thought of Emmett but this man would dwarf him and where her friend was a big softie, this man emanated a much harsher vibe. She did not feel threatened but she was certain this was not someone you wanted to cross.
Bella instinctively placed herself between the man and Edward's unconscious body.
"Which gives us enough time to conduct proper introductions," he continued before making a quick bow. "My name is Felix. No surname. Ms. Mobolade has filled in what gaps I had in this tale after I offered my services."
Felix took Maggie's hand and slowly brought it to his lips and placed a soft kiss upon it.
"And…and…they are?" Maggie stuttered, her eyes wide.
Bella thought this was one of the few times she had ever seen Maggie flustered.
"Vast as the stars in the sky," he replied with a quick wink.
Bella noticed he did not let go of Maggie's hand, nor did she try to remove it from his grasp. Her attention was taken away as Edward stirred silently on the bed. A few moments later, his familiar green eyes slowly blinked open.
"Hey there, stranger," she smiled softly, sitting on the edge of the bed and taking his hand in hers.
"Hi," Edward croaked, rubbing his face with his free hand.
"How do you feel?"
"Like I did when Seth Clearwater hit me in the back of the head with a wiffleball bat back in T-ball." Edward winced when his hand touched the goose egg lump on the back of his head. He struggled to sit up but managed to do so after a few attempts.
"Ouch," Bella said with a wan smile. "In a way, that's what happened. Maggie poofed us out of the manor just as Alaric burst through the door. The door hit you in the back of the head, and you've been out of it for several hours."
"I beg your pardon," Maggie sniffed indignantly. "I do not poof. That was a highly developed, extremely difficult transportation spell that took me six months to perfect. I did warn you it would sting."
"If you use goldenrod pollen instead of Camilla, I have found the transportation to be less jarring," Felix offered helpfully.
"Goldenrod? That makes sense. Not exactly easy to get right now, but…" Maggie's voice trailed off as she pondered the possibilities.
"Or you could just learn to tesseract and that would save you the need for ingredients."
"Tesser…" began Bella, remembering one of her favorite books from childhood.
Edward tensed when he saw Felix but calmed when he felt Bella quickly squeeze his hand reassuringly. His eyes flitted between Sweetie and Maggie and Felix before resting on Bella's soothing face.
"Felix and Sweetie just arrived," Bella said softly.
"Good to see ya, Dr. Cullen," Sweetie smiled. "Mr. Felix here showed up just aftah Maggie and I sent ya back."
"Yes, my timing was impeccable," Felix smiled, his teeth flashing. "Moments sooner and it would have interrupted the charm to bring you two here and moments later Ms. Green would have been in the room when I approached Ms. Sweetie here with my proposal."
"Ahnd she would wanted to come along," Sweetie offered.
"Would have messed up the entire space-time continuum more than it has already been done. Tricky things," Felix stated, nodding. "I should know. I've done it often enough. It's not meant to be done by just anyone. Even talented witches such as yourselves."
"What are you?" Maggie murmured.
Felix smiled. It was a genuine smile and the room filled with a sense of warmth.
"I just am," he replied. "I am. I have been. I will be. I know."
Bella looked over at Edward who had no idea what to say. Maggie's eyes widened and her mouth fell open in shock. Sweetie nodded slowly and Maggie's already pale skin whitened even further.
"I didn't think they existed," Maggie murmured under her breath.
"Oh, but you can see I do." Felix approached the bed and looked at Edward as if asking for permission.
Edward had no idea what the permission was requested for but nodded slightly. Felix's large hand gently wrapped around Edward's head and a soft tingling sensation crept across his scalp. A few seconds later, the pain and the lump were gone.
"There you go," Felix smiled before crossing the room to where the mirrors and harpsichord sat. He studied them for a moment before turning back to Edward.
"So you know how it happened, yes?" Felix said in a rush.
Edward nodded, unsure of how Felix knew what he had witnessed.
"And you know the why?"
"Something about the child," Edward replied.
"Child?" Maggie gasped but was quickly silenced by Felix's sharp glare.
"Yes. And you know how to reverse it."
"I think so."
"Yes or no. There is no I think so."
"Edward?" Bella asked nervously. "What is going on? And why is this man talking like Yoda?"
Edward quickly relayed everything he had seen while he had been unconscious.
"I'm going to be an auntie?" Maggie whispered.
"To the most powerful witch ever born," Felix said with a nod.
"But Anthony and Marie don't have any powers!"
"Neither did my parents," he said with a shrug. "There is no secret formula to make a witch or an immortal or any other magical being."
"There's more of you all?" Bella exclaimed without thinking. She slapped her hands over her mouth and flushed a bright red.
"Many more, Ms. Swan," Felix replied with an indulgent smile, ignoring any verbal faux pas on Bella's behalf. "My kind doesn't have a name. But I have many talents that it is my duty to use to the best of my ability. Sometimes I do magic. Sometimes I time travel. But only to the past. My future hasn't been written so I can't go forward beyond my last day in the present. Sometimes I know things that should have been and am assigned the task to fix what happened which is why I am here."
"To save Anthony and Marie?" Maggie interjected.
"To prevent their imprisonment from happening," Felix corrected gently, his eyes filled with an unknown sadness. "What happens beyond that is out of my control."
"No. Like I said, I was given the task to fix a wrong. We will have to go to the manor, Edward will have to play the music and we will have to wait."
"But what about Alaric?" Bella asked worriedly.
"Oh, you leave Master Alaric to me," Felix replied with a toothy grin.
Edward looked around the room, blinking rapidly as if to try to get everything to focus. He noticed Sweetie looked uncomfortable and raised an eyebrow in question to her. She smiled wanly and tried to give a reassuring nod but he knew something was amiss.
"Sweetie?" he murmured.
"Now don't ya worry, Dr. Cullen. Everything will be as it should be," Sweetie stated with an air of quiet serenity.
"So what do we have to do?" Maggie demanded abruptly.
"I'll get us back to the house. Edward and Bella will go to the music room. Timing is of the essence. It will be just after the spell was cast so Anthony and Marie will be in the mirrors. You know what to do then, right?" Felix asked, earning a nod from Edward.
"Then," he continued, "you, Miss Mobolade and myself will confront Alaric and it will end."
"How can you be so certain?" Bella inquired.
"I don't fail, Miss Swan. Ever. Absolutely everything has been planned and all contingencies have been taken into consideration. The parties that will be affected by the contingencies have been notified and informed of their options."
With a wave of one hand Felix cast a quick spell that carried the entire group to the main foyer of Masen Manor.
"Parties? Contingencies?" Bella stuttered just as everything returned to color. She blinked away the fuzziness in her head from the transportation spell.
"The master bedroom is the safest place to be should you need it after playing the tune," Felix whispered quietly to Edward before marching down the hall with Maggie right behind him.
"You only have a few minutes to make it to the music room," Sweetie said in a rush once the room stopped spinning. "Go!"
"Will this work?" Bella demanded, grabbing Sweetie's arm.
"Alaric will be defeated," Sweetie replied solemnly.
"That doesn't answer my question."
"That is all I cahn tell ya." Sweetie gently freed herself from Bella's grip and followed Maggie and Felix in a swirl of brown and orange.
Edward grabbed Bella's hand and pulled her up the stairs. He had no idea just what Felix meant but something about the man instilled a sense of trust in him so he took those words to heart.
"But…" exclaimed Bella as she was dragged to the music room. Her gut told her this was the right thing to do but her brain was milling through the countless where and why and how and so forth.
"Bella, we really don't have time for discussion," Edward stated, marching over to the harpsichord and placing the journal on the music stand. He flipped through the small pages until he found the right one and quickly settled himself on the bench.
"Bella, please. If this is going to work, we have to do this now. We'll figure out the why and how later. We will have all the time in the world to do it together." His gentle tone and pleading eyes broke through her rational side and her entire being relaxed.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Ms. Swan. I've grown rather accustomed to having you around." Edward smiled warmly at her, taking in how her face flushed ever so slightly at his words. He held out his hand. "And when this is done, I plan to have you around a lot more."
"What do I need to do?" she murmured, taking his hand in hers.
Edward's face lit up in a broad smile, and he quickly kissed her fingertips.
"Stand right there and just watch me play. That's all Marie did before the spell engaged."
"Like this?" She leaned over ever so slightly, resting her arm on the side of the harpsichord, watching him.
"Just like that." Edward glanced around the room, startled by the completely silent house around them. "Do you hear that?"
"Exactly. There's nothing. No creaking wood house sounds. No birds outside. No footsteps as the others search out Alaric. Nothing."
"Like the quiet before a storm. I think you better get playing." Bella's heart pounded in her chest as she knew this was the only chance they had to get back to their time and their place. If this did not succeed, not only would Anthony and Marie be trapped apart but she and Edward would be stuck in 1820 with no hope of seeing their friends and family ever again.
Edward nodded and his hands hovered above the keys. "Well, here goes everything."
Sitting up straight, he began to play, his fingers coaxing every bit of emotion he had seen Anthony portray in his dream. While nowhere near as smooth a tone as a piano, the harpsichord responded to Edward's playing and Bella felt herself enraptured by the tune she remembered hearing while sharing ear buds with Edward on the floor of her office. That seemed like eons ago.
As the music filled the room, Bella could sense the love Anthony had poured into composing the piece and wondered if she would ever be on the receiving end of such love.
Bella glanced over at Edward and saw his green eyes watching her and she suddenly knew the answer to her question. She had already found that someone.
"Page 48, section 2D," she murmured.
"What?" Edward asked softly, continuing to play.
"There's nothing holding us back from being together."
"No. There really isn't," he smiled, glancing back at the music. "And if there had to be anyone to time travel with, Ms. Swan, I'm rather glad it was you."
"I'm glad to be with you, too."
The last few notes of the song faded into silence and Edward and Bella looked at each other, afraid to say anything.
"Well?" Bella finally whispered.
"No idea," Edward quietly replied.
Suddenly, the entire house shook as if all of the air had been sucked out of it and then blown back in. Bella felt Edward's arms wrap around her as he pulled her close and covered her body with his as books flew out of the shelves and scattered around the room. She felt him jerk as a particularly large volume caught him in the shoulder.
"That'll leave a mark," he muttered close to her ear.
Bella stifled the hysterical giggle that threatened to escape her lips.
Shelves collapsed and a few decorative vases slid to the floor, shattering upon impact. The two mirrors rose above them, spun in a circle and then fell to the floor, their glass skittering across the floor in thousands of tiny, sharp pieces.
Muffled yelling and screams filtered up the stairs and down the hallway toward them but they could not determine just what the sounds meant.
And then suddenly, there was silence.
Edward relaxed his hold on Bella and raised his head, checking the room for any more flying books. He stood and carefully assisted her to her feet.
"What was that?" Bella whispered, her voice sounding harsh in the deadly still room.
"I have no idea." He looked around at the devastated room. It looked like a small tornado had torn everything apart.
Edward cautiously picked his way through the debris, leading Bella to the door. The two slowly entered the hallway, looking both directions, hungrily listening for any sound. But they heard nothing.
Edward motioned toward the staircase and Bella nodded as she followed him. Down the dark hallway the two crept, listening for any sound that would reveal what had happened.
"Why do I feel like we're the last two people on earth?" Bella whispered.
"Because you have an undying love of 1950s horror flicks?"
She smiled in spite of herself at his attempt at humor at a time like this.
Edward stopped suddenly, blocking Bella's way and she nearly ran into him.
"What?" she started before seeing what had caused him to stop. The grand staircase of heavy wood balustrades and carpeted steps was completely missing.
"That first step is a doozy," he said quietly.
"No doubt," she replied, peering over the landing to the floor below. Bella paled and threw her hand over her mouth. "Oh, God."
Bella turned away and buried her face in Edward's chest. He looked down and saw what had upset her so. In the middle of the grand foyer lay a mangled pile of brown and orange fabric surrounded by a dark puddle.
"You don't think…" Bella's hoarse voice croaked as she tried not to lose her last meal.
"I don't know." Edward ran one hand soothingly up and down her back. "I just don't know."
"Should we call for them?"
"They knew we were up here. And with Alaric on the loose, I don't think we should call attention to ourselves. Felix said to go to the master bedroom if we needed a safe place after playing the piece."
Bella nodded mutely, a small sob escaping from her lips.
Edward gently guided Bella toward what had been their bedroom and locked the door.
"Not that that will do much good," he muttered, wrapping his arms around a shivering Bella. "You ok?"
"No, not really," came the weak reply.
Edward gently lifted her chin and saw the tears filling her deep brown eyes. He smiled sadly and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
"It didn't work," she said with a muffled sob, burying her face again into his chest.
"We don't know that."
"Yes, we do. You said when Anthony played the piece they were immediately pulled into the mirrors. Nothing happened when you played."
"That devastation in the music room was nothing?"
Bella slapped weakly at his chest, earning a pout and a fake whimper of pain.
"We don't know if that was related to you or to Maggie, Felix and Sweetie finding Alaric. Oh, poor, poor Sweetie!" Bella sniffled.
"Bella, shhhh," he soothed, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling her onto his lap.
"What do we do?" she said, her words muffled into his chest.
"I don't know."
Edward gently ran one hand up and down her back, rocking her soothingly as he stared out the window at the setting sun.
"I could go out the window, and see if I can find the others," he offered.
Bella shook her head frantically and her arms tightened around him. She felt emotionally and physically spent. A heaviness filled her entire being and she just wanted to stay right where she was, in his arms, listening to the strong, steady beating of Edward's heart.
"No. Just stay right here," she whispered, closing her eyes and snuggling into him.
"Ok," he whispered back, placing a gentle kiss on her temple.
Bella lifted her face as his lips glided down her cheek, humming contently. She turned toward him as he placed another kiss on her jaw. Again, she let him know she liked the feeling.
"Edward?" she quietly asked. Her hands ghosted over his arms in a soft caress.
Bella turned to look into his eyes and let the words trail off. She wasn't usually this shy but at this particular moment, her mind a confused jumble of facts, emotions and fears, she wasn't sure how to word her desires.
"You want?" he asked innocently.
"Thought that was what I was …"
Before he could finish, Bella spun until she was straddling him, her arms around his neck. She paused for a second before bending to press her lips to his. She sighed contently as their kiss grew in intensity.
"You have to tell me what you want, Bella," Edward murmured huskily, his hands gripping at the gathered material of her dress.
Edward looked at her for a moment, trying to read just what she meant by the single word.
"Are you sure?"
She nodded mutely.
"Bella, I don't have…"
"Do you think that's valid considering everything?"
"Do you think if it's not it's going to matter? If we're stuck here to the end of our days we're either going to die of frustration or just let nature take its course." She studied his face for a moment in silence. "Unless you don't want…" Bella started to stand before he tightened his grip, locking her in place.
"Oh, I want. I've wanted since that evening in your office when we shared a pizza and listened to Anthony's composition." He pulled her against himself where through the many layers of fabric, she could feel him.
Bella sucked in her breath as her eyes widened at the knowledge before her.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Never seemed like the right time or the right place," he said simply.
"I think we have that covered."
"I think we do."
*peeks out* Please don't kill me for the fade to black. It takes me a really, REALLY long time to write lemons and I made the executive decision to do this so I could get the chapter up since it's been 2 months since the last installment.
That said, I will write one if there is a request for it…
My RL is looking good. The house went back up on the market & we've had a lot of lookers so that's great!
My health issues have been improving so I've had more time to write! Yay, me!
I always treasure your thoughts so log in and let me know!