~Prologue~

I'm not a heroine. I'm not the main character of a perfect fairy tale, or the girl who everyone admires for her strength. I'm not brave, or drop-dead gorgeous or graceful. I don't have a cunning wit or genius level intelligence. I'm just a girl who got caught up in a nightmare and was desperately trying to keep afloat of the despair. I am weak, but I can't be anyone but myself and all the faults that come with that. I've tried being someone else before but it just makes the outcome worse in the end.

I would later discover that the self-built walls that kept others at arm length from me would be to both my detriment and my benefit. The fact that my emotions and opinions do war within my mind without the sign of a ripple hinting what is going on beneath the calm façade on my face. That human instinct only gets you so far and then you just have to take a leap of faith and pray you'll make it. That independence isn't all that important in the long run, and that sometimes if you can make it to the end of the day with most of your morals intact, you've done well, even if everything else seems to suggest otherwise.

My name is Isabella Swan, and I'm just trying to make it to the next dawn.

Chapter 1

BPOV

My hands shake as I swallow yet another Xanax, praying this dose would get me through the next few hours. I had felt the tentative grip I had on reality begin to slip as from the corner of my eye one of the men leaving had reminded me of Charlie in his gestures and posture. While at work I know I can't risk slipping into that dark place of my mind. The sneer of one of my fellow co-workers doesn't help my anxiety any before I shove my prescription bottle back in my ragged backpack in the employee storage area. Taking a deep breath I force myself to go back out into the crowded Italian Bistro that I work at.

It is a popular place, favoured by many business men from the nearby office buildings. I haven't worked here for long (anxiety attacks and relapses at the last six places I'd worked meant that it was difficult to keep a job for any reasonable stretch of time). The pay was crap, but the tips were decent in this part of town and the bistro was almost always busy which meant no lag time that I could drift away in.

Picking up my orders I weave around the bustling café and silently deposit the specialty coffee drinks with the food to those who had been waiting. After fifteen minutes the tense, stressed, self-hatred and paranoia I felt since the reminder of my father starts to ease letting me know the Xanax has kicked in. If I could just avoid touching or being touched too much until the end of my shift I might actually be able to focus enough to work on paying my bills and cleaning my grungy apartment a little before falling into the not-so-peaceful oblivion known as sleep. Sometimes I just can't decide whether my nightmares or the vivid twists my imagination come up with are worse.

The little bell over the entrance tinkles merrily letting us staff know yet more people have entered. I turn to look accidently getting my shin hit with a chair that has been left out in the walkway for my trouble. Gasping quietly I rub it quick before straightening again. It really is a good thing the uniforms here include long pants as due to my innate clumsiness I'm always sporting a small collection of bruises and cuts on my fair skin.

"Isabella! Table seven, hurry up!" one of the other girls hiss at me. I don't bother to reply (not that she waited for one), instead I just orient myself towards the designated table.

Getting there in relatively good time I quickly glance out of the corner of my eye to see that it is-yet again- a table full of businessmen. Without looking at any of them I begin my spiel.

"Welcome to Sanremo Bistro, I am Isabella and I'll be your waitress this afternoon." I announce with as much sincerity as I can muster at the moment. I'm fairly sure my efforts fail though, as I sound quite monotone to even my own ears. Taking a deep breath I finally look up to face the customers I am serving to tell them of the specials.

"Today we-" and I stop, because what is sitting in front of me cannot by the holy hand of God be true. It absolutely cannot be real. I can feel the blood drain from my face in such a rush I didn't think was possible, while my eyes widen without my conscious consent.

Sitting before me along with a couple of ordinary businessmen are some not so ordinary vampires.

After the circumstances and happenings that I have lived through I can differentiate a vampire from a human in a literal split-second. The lines of their faces and bodies are always too perfect. Their skin no matter the lighting is a cold bloodless white. Paleness is not the issue- but rather the lack of colour that fresh blood beneath the skin is the most obvious giveaway. Not to mention if you happen to catch one in the sunlight. Their faces are always immaculate- no discolouration, pores, or imperfections to be seen. Humans always have imperfections. Lastly, of course is their eyes. Golden-bronze for the vegetarians like my former family or the much more common bright blood red for the human drinkers. Or for those vainly attempting to blend in a muddy burgundy-brown colour of a brown contact lens overtop.

As I said before it took me more time to breathe in my next breath than it did to take in all these details of the three vampire men before me, muddy red-brown eyes and all. What scared me to the point I almost peed was that I recognized the centre male vaguely. His sharp posture screamed of past eras, the look of distain on his face spoke volumes about his thoughts about his companions and his business suit was immaculate. What grabbed me the most though was his white blond hair, piercing eyes and youthful face bellied by the sense of authority he seemed to exude. Caius Volturi.

My instincts flared and I knew I couldn't pause for any longer than I already had. I quickly broke eye contact and bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to bring me back into focus slightly. Then I forced myself to speak, desperately hoping whatever came out of my mouth didn't draw any attention my way.

"R-right. Um. T-today's specials are listed on the c-card here" I quickly gestured to the card on the table "and fountain d-drinks have free r-refills. ?"

I glanced up at them briefly and continued before barely half a second had gone by, interrupting one of the human men about to order as they stared at me incredulously.

"No? OkayI'llbebackinabit…afteryoulookatthemenus." And with that prime display of articulation I turned around and tried to not look like I was sprinting away from the table.

By the time I am in the backroom again my entire body is trembling. I can hear my breath hammering quickly in and out of my lungs as I fling off my apron, then take all my tips and shove them quickly in the pocket of my backpack. One of the other girls on break is watching me with wide eyes as I pull on my jacket. Barely glancing at her I mutter

"I'm not feeling well, I need to leave. Sorry," before I dash out the back door and toward the subway. Running on instinct I'm praying to any listening God (or Goddess, demi-god, sprite, spirit- whatever I'm not picky) that the lunch meeting that had required a Volturi present for was important enough that they couldn't leave part way through. Or at least couldn't wrap-up quickly enough before I manage to get my butt on a subway car heading in any direction followed by a few more random types of public transportation so my scent is lost amongst the comings and goings of the city.

As I slip through the doors of a car just leaving, squishing myself in amongst the crowd I try to breathe deeply and calm myself. If asked none of the staff of Sanremo Bistro that are currently on shift know much of anything about me other than my first name. Well that and I have some sort of need for medication. The manager who does the hiring and thus has my address and personal information wasn't in today so that shouldn't be too much of an issue. And I hadn't said anything to tip them off. No mention of sparkling or blood. I hadn't looked at Caius for long I don't think. If I'm at all due for some luck now would be a good time for it to come through- I mean surely I had had enough curveballs thrown my way to last me for a while, right? Please just let them think I was a strange waitress with a mental problem, and not someone who knows one of the best kept secrets in history.

Run-down apartment building. I've been crisscrossing Seattle for six hours hoping to throw off their trail if they're even following me at all. I'm fairly sure I'm over my limit for how many Xanax I'm supposed to take in a day, especially considering I've not eaten since my rather small lunch earlier. My head keeps whipping from side-to-side as I bypass alleyways, knowing that I look suspicious but unable to help myself. Night isn't exactly a good time to be female and alone in this neighbourhood, nevermind my vamp issues. I trip slightly over a curb but manage to catch myself as I finally make it to the entrance for my building.

The dingy stairwell seems longer and steeper than normal as I stumble up the three flights of stairs to my floor. It takes me a further five minutes to actually get the key to open the flimsy door before I'm in and locking it behind me. My vision is starting to blacken around the edges as I tremble and stumble towards my bed in the one room apartment, almost collapsing to the ground beside it as I pull out my emergency stash from beneath the bed. Ripping open the dufflebag I shove my backpack into it and pull my sleeping bag off the thin mattress before shoving it in there too. I grab the two photos on the dresser along with the rest of my medication and toiletries before scanning the room. I lunge for the package of granola bars and add them to my bag as well. All my clothes go next and the rest I can leave behind, though there isn't really much. By this point though my hysteria has broken through the chemical barriers I tried to erect and the darkness in my vision is becoming more persistent. The images of blood and gore and pain rise up from my mind and I am lost once more to the horrors in my unconscious. I won't even remember falling to the ground.

"Human. Wake up human." I feel something hard poking me and I really don't like it. Reluctantly I open my eyelids and blink a few times as I wake-up. I am no longer in my shabby little apartment but instead what appears to be a hotel room. For some reason I am strangely calm to be waking up in a new place, but the numbness is often a side-effect when I black-out. I probably should be more worried than I am, but I just can't bring myself to care yet. That will come soon enough, it always does.

"Finally! She's awake Lord Caius," breaks through my sleep-addled thoughts and I turn my head to the side to see a small blonde vampire with a sneer of disgust as she looks down at me. It's then that I wonder if I'm still asleep. The sneer of hatred and the bright ruby red eyes are often the beginning of most of my night terrors.

Suddenly the girl is gone and approaching is Caius, back in the robes and necklace that he sported in the painting of the Volturi in Carlisle's study. I'm more convinced than ever this is a figment of my overactive imagination- surely the Volturi didn't actually go around in velvet robes all the time, it would be highly impractical. Knowing the blood and screaming and torture is likely to start soon (going with the pattern of all my previous dreams) I stiffly pull myself upwards and lean against the headboard of the bed I am laying in.

"Girl, do you know what I am?" Caius asks abruptly in the silence of the room. I blink at him for a moment. My nightmare vampire's don't usually have conversations with me before the pain starts. I nod my head slowly anyways, knowing there is no point in lying- they can always tell. The heart goes a little faster, the pupils dilate, the hair on your arms stands up slightly- all large flashing signs for vampires.

"What am I?" he demands, you can tell from his voice he is used to getting exactly what he wants from those around him. Still looking at his perfect skin I notice that up close it looks less resilient than the others do, almost older and slightly parchment-like.

"Vampire." I admit, barely breathing the word. I'll die and wake up soon to my real hell.

I go to brush my bed hair back from my face when my wrist is suddenly encased in cold stone. Caius is staring at James' bite mark as if he has never seen such a thing.

"Why are you not dead? Who told you about us? How did you recognize us in the restaurant? Answer me!" he demands shaking my arm slightly. The anger in his tone draws more vampires from outside the room into it to see what has riled up their Master.

My senses are starting to come back to me now and there is a creeping feeling of hysteria that's flickering in the back of my mind. I desperately cling to the numbness- no this is just another awful dream.

"Thought being a waitress would be a safe choice- nothing to do with vampires at all," I mumble aloud to myself musing more than answering his questions. "But POP comes the Volturi out of nowhere." I continue to babble.

Caius' jaw clenches as do the fingers holding my wrist. A sharp pain radiates up my arm from the contact driving back more of the numbness. Things are starting to become clearer and I'm starting to feel confused and frightened and anxious again. Not that that is anything new.

"You will answer me girl, how were you informed of our existence? Who gave you knowledge of the Volturi?" he again demanded voice raised slightly and shaking my arm again. This causes my arm to jolt sending shooting agony through my wrist, and suddenly I realize this is most definitely not another night terror but real.

Now at this point I had three options. I could act oblivious, which was unlikely to do anything but piss Caius Volturi off even more, but I could none the less. I could beg them just to kill me quickly and hope to find some sort of peace in the afterlife. Or, I could explain about them.

Most people I understand would try to save their own skin and throw them and all the events since them under the bus so-to-speak. I'm not like most people I've found unfortunately. I realize I'm not exactly stable with all that has gone on over the last three years but I've had to deal with that anyway I could. The name of their family did things to me mentally that I knew I couldn't deal with. Every time the C-word would come out of my mouth or really anyone else's since they left something awful would happen. Maybe it is coincidence; maybe it's my paranoia kicking into high gear, whatever the reason it still comes down to the issue that I simply won't speak of them. I no longer hold any loyalty to them, don't misunderstand, simply that something to do with them always leads to the route with the most pain possible. I'd much rather die.

"Please just kill me." I told him softly. Caius looked at me incredulously for a moment before letting go of my wrist.

"You will die, but the vampires who leaked our existence to you must be punished for their actions. You must tell me first." Caius stated emotionlessly watching my every move like the predator he is.

My mind flashes once again to poor Sarah-Anne as Victoria ripped open her throat.

"C-can't" I stutter in return cradling my pained wrist and tightening both arms around myself as much as I could.

Caius growls in frustration before turning to the group of observing vampires. "Jane!" he shouts. The little sneering blonde from before steps forward, the others rapidly moving out of her way as she does so. She has a mean little smile on her face as she looks towards me.

We all sit there for a moment, I just waiting for something to happen. The blonde's face wrinkles slightly with concentration then soon horror.

"It's not working Lord Caius," she stammers. If at all possible the ensemble of vampire's begin to observe me with even more intensity.

"Try it on someone else!" Caius orders with a mix of anger and disbelief. In the next moment one of the large men in the crowd drops to the floor screaming in agony. I whimper at the site the screams bringing me someplace I didn't want to return to. It rises like a demon from my mind and pulls me in. There are screams, and burning flesh, heavy smoke and blood. So much blood. An emptiness that tries to consume me followed by shouting and pain. I'm in hell again, and I can't get out.

CPOV

Jane quickly cuts her power off, allowing Felix to get up off the floor. The girl is whimpering and trembling, even after Felix's screams have ceased. She rocks herself on the bed and then the smell of her fear starts to sweep out into the room. She has well and truly lost her hold on sanity at this moment and I know there is no use attempting to get any other information out of her in this state. I would just have her killed, except the Volturi must know how she survived a bite from one of us. Not to mention that leaving the loose end of unpunished vampires that informed her of our world cannot be left untouched. The Volturi stay a powerhouse by missing nothing. Even if it takes a century to finish Volturi tasks are always ended. Completely.

I am about to leave the room in disgust at the weak-minded female when she starts to mumble.

"Charlie…Dad! Daddy! I'm so sorry, all my fault never should have….blood so much blood… Newborns, oh god they're Newborns!" before breaking off into sobs once more.

Needless to say that spikes my interest. Anything to do with newborns gets messy quickly, and these somehow were in the vicinity of this human. The Volturi don't even like to deal with more than one or two newborns at the same time. Whatever secrets are locked in this girl's mind are vital and possibly time sensitive, which brings my next move easily forward.

"Get everything she needs, we shall bring her back to Aro."

The girl, one "Isabella Marie Swan" according to her license, seems to have lapsed into a semi-catatonic state. She breathes, and blinks but does not respond otherwise. For a vampire such as myself that rarely interacts with humans other than to feed or dispose of, I find her behaviour disturbing. So much so that the majority of the plane ride thus far I have spent watching her, unable to focus for too long on my reports with the wet thumping of her heart so close by. The younger ones either eye her with disgust as with young Jane, or try to pretend she does not exist. I am just finishing my notes about the investment opportunity that the girl interrupted when I hear a strange gurgling noise. Looking up (and noticing every other vampire in the vicinity glance up as well) I can tell it has come from the girl. The sound appears to be originating from her abdomen. How strange.

"What does that mean?" I demand. We can't afford to have the child die on us so my concern is well placed.

It is Alec that finally responds eyeing the girl with his forehead slightly furrowed. "I believe it indicates hunger, master Caius. She should probably eat something."

Felix groans softly and wrinkles his nose in disgust. The smell of human food may not be pleasant to us but I understand the necessity of it and see no need to act in such a manner. Just like disposal of the corpses after we have fed is essential but a chore too. "Felix find and prepare something for her to eat," I order before turning back to the finishing touches on my report. I can hear Jane and her brother lightly snickering at the perturbed face that Felix has put on in response to my order. Of course his reply is as expected "Yes, Master Caius." No one among the guard is willing to risk my wrath.

The only vampires of my acquaintance that are willing to go against me are my two brothers, my sister-in-law Sulpicia, Aro's wife, and my own wife Athenodora. Though I rarely get into any sort of confrontation with either of the women out of respect and lack of conflicting topics shared between us. Though both will offer opinions or requests from time to time the actual running of the Volturi is left to my brothers and I. It is not that they lack the ability to rule or are unintelligent- Sulpicia in particular has a uncanny ability to strategize, and my beloved Athenodora is fluent in some 40 odd modern languages and dialects- it is merely that both have other pursuits that capture their interest and that we all come from a time where the men dealt with war. In the past Athenodora and Sulipica both have taken over the running of the guard when all three of us brothers have been required for one reason or another.

It always amuses me greatly to watch my fair-haired elfin built wife lose her temper with one of the bulky male guards. Her face alight with anger and her tongue sharp as she scolds and their heads either bowed with shame or as they vainly try to keep their own opinions and emotions in check. And all the guard soon learn that none of us brothers ever let the guard's opinions or emotions come out with regards to either of the wives go unpunished.

Even Marcus who for the last 1500 years has had apathy as his staple emotion is quick to intervene on behalf of Athenodora or Sulipica. Our family always comes first, and especially since Didyme's death, both women have been treasured and coddled. It is difficult for me to understand how in today's society men who supposedly love their women merely watch them put themselves in danger or to face difficulties on their own unsupported. My brothers and I come from a time when such was unheard of. Women from good families are to be cherished, loved and protected. That is the way it has always been, and amongst the Volturi while we rule, how it shall always be.

The females of the guard are rarely sent on missions alone, and are usually not used in physical confrontations. Though it varies of course, female vampires are still weaker than males generally and though we do not breed, a mate is the most precious of all gifts to a vampire. They break the monotony of our long immortal lives, and bring us a sense of peace and completeness. I am not a kind man by any means but with Athenodora I can even be soft.

Felix interrupts my train of thought bypassing me with a tray of human food and holding an apple. He steps in front of the girl who continues to stare through him, and he pauses before waving the apple in front of her face. She does not respond of course, and I am tempted to roll my eyes at my guard's stupidity. "Felix," I bark, "you'll have to try and get her attention, the girl is in a panicked state, she won't do anything unless you get her out of it." I may not know much about humans, but even I know that much.

Felix just nods before he pokes her shoulder a couple times. I sigh softly and briefly pinch the bridge of my nose. Felix may be strong but he is dumb enough to give even vampires twinges of head pains. A moment later I hear him speak again, causing my head to fly upwards.

"Hey Jane!"

I roar in response. "STOP IMMEDIAETLY!"

Jane's face is one of confusion and horror when I look her way. Felix looks sheepish, and Alec concerned. I continue my rant. "Jane, it was your gift that caused her mental recession in the first place, show some common sense! And Felix, I said to gain the human's attention not torture her beyond all use!" It is a brief moment of silence before Jane finally responds seemingly not to have heard a word I said.

"She didn't react," she breathes out her words barely a whisper.

"What?" I bark in response. This seems to jolt the chit back into the present as her face immediately schools itself and she turns her attention finally towards me.

"Master Caius, before you ordered me to stop, I did use my power on her. She, she didn't react at all. No twitching, no screaming, nothing! Just like before!" I stare at her in response not knowing exactly what to say. My mind is processing multiple possibilities for this phenomena at once- coming to rest on my main concern that her mind has completely shattered and even Aro won't be able to get much from her. I go back to pinching the bridge of my nose, tired beyond belief from all the curve balls that have been thrown at my orderly plans within the last twenty-four hours. I eventually decide to merely go over the issue in the back of my mind for now, knowing my vampire mind will continue to make theories and attempt to sort out what this girl is based on the information available, while the forefront of my thoughts are taken up by other things. I simply hope that Aro will be able to bring some clarity to this entire clusterfuck.

"Jane, Felix, sit down and be silent," I order not bothering to look at either of them. Instead I turn to look at the girl again trying to come up with a way to make her respond enough to consume something. Alec interrupts my thought process.

"Master Caius?" he questions softly.

"Yes?" I hiss out in response, my impatience not at all subtle within my tone.

"I have an idea to possibly wake the human, and it won't harm her further, my lord."

Slowly I turn to face him one eyebrow arched to further indicate my patience is short but that I am listening.

"Perhaps we could pour cold water on her face, Master Caius. That always seems to be the option used by humans themselves on television and in novels." Thinking quickly for a moment I nod in agreement. I am not one for television generally but I know the twins enjoy watching it, Jane in particular showing the age she was changed at with her love of 'Saturday Morning Cartoons' whatever they were. I cannot see the harm in this option as long as we dry the human off immediately afterwards. It would not do to have her become ill before she has lived out her purpose.

"Finally a practical suggestion," I state standing and moving to sit across from the human girl. "Alec, go retrieve me a vessel of water and a cloth."

He quickly does so, thankfully before retreating to his sister's side. It makes me immeasurably glad that Alec and Jane came as a package deal so to speak, as dealing with Jane's temper without her brother's calming influence is not something I wish to deal with in addition to everything else going on at the moment.

Holding the plastic cup that Alec has given me I figure there is no real finesse required for this and I splash the water in one smooth movement on the girl's face. She immediately starts in place blinking a couple times at me before you can see the residence of a soul once again take up behind her eyes. She looks extremely confused and there is a dash of hurt as though asking what she had done wrong to deserve cold water poured on her. I shove the towel towards her before she can speak or look around at all.

"Dry yourself off," I order sternly as she takes the proffered item. I then go on to add- for there is no use in causing this obviously fragile minded human added stress until we get what we wish from her- "you haven't responded to anything for the last four hours. You must eat." With that I drop the tray into her lap, which she quickly reaches out to steady, and return to my previous seat.

She watches my departure blinking owlishly a few times before letting out a soft "Thank-you." If I had not been a vampire I would not have heard the sentiment. Of all the things thanking me? The vampire in charge of her kidnapping and being hauled to a different continent and the girl is thanking me. I shake my head at the ridiculousness of it.

A little while later she still has not done more than move the food around the plate, her hair curling ever-so-slightly due to the moisture left over from her wake-up call. "Child, you must actually consume the food in order for it to have any value, not merely stare at it." I finally state my exasperation apparent in my tone.

She looks up at me then, surprised, before her face completely flushes and she ducks her head. I can smell the rush of blood to the surface of her cheeks and it looks surprisingly charming on the creature.

"Sorry," she murmurs before actually eating a forkful of food. I nod sharply and turn back to my papers. Any other human in this situation would be making an unholy racket demanding to know where we are going and what their fate is to be, but not this girl. Her strangeness puts me ill at ease and I can only hope Aro will know what to make of her.

AN: Hello, all. This is my first dive into Twilight fanfiction and I hope you are as captivated by the Volturi as I am. Firstly, I want to say this is the first piece that I've felt the need to write for years, as I lost my writing support group when I moved and so have been completely unmotivated. I'm hoping, with encouragement, your thoughts, opinions, critiques and ideas I'll be able to finish this piece making it something to be proud of. Warning though this will have Bella with Marcus, a significantly older vampire so if you don't like the age difference please do not read this. Also, this story will eventually have an M rating please keep that in mind- there will be blood, death and sex. And, like a male from a previous time period Marcus will be quite dominant in nature around Bella. In no way will he harm her or disrespect her, he's just going to be very protective and possessive too. In this story Aro did not kill Didyme, nor have her killed. You'll find out more about that situation with time.

So, please tell me your thoughts. Should I continue this? Does it sound interesting so far? Please let me know. ~Dolphin Dreamer