SM owns Twilight. I just borrow her characters and change their personalities.
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here." William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Esme was a deprived woman. She had never felt the warmth of love or the spark of adoration, perhaps the most positive emotion she had ever enticed was pity. Her mother had been a sparkling gem of the ton the daughter of an Earl, the owner of heart that propelled her to run away to Gretna Green with a mere merchant. The merchant, Esme's farther, was richer than most of the men who had the temerity to treat him disdainfully. They were a lovely couple, their marriage full of laughter and affection.
Then Esme came along and the strains of childbirth bled her mother to death. Soon after that, her father took his own life; on his suicide note he said there was nothing left to him in this world. Esme had not been enough to make him stay, only to drive him away. The feeling of guilt for her parent's untimely death was greatly reinforced by the Earl, her grandfather. She had become his ward after her father's passing and the Earl never failed to stress how kind hearted of him receiving her into his home had been.
As time went by, the Earl's distaste turned to hostility, for there was nothing of his daughter on the mousy bluestocking who lacked achievements as much as she lacked beauty and social grace. She grew up as a secret well kept, educated and well clothed but never allowed to mingle with the other children. Only the servant's kept her company, without their steady support she would have been driven to madness by her grandfather's scorn.
She never understood why her grandfather gave her a season, but when a not so handsome Baron paid her court, she saw a chance to escape the Earl's clutches and took it with all her might. She wasn't naive enough to believe that theirs would be a love match, however she had expected some degree of respect and companionship, something pleasant enough to make life bearable.
Soon she learned to expect nothing from Lord Cullen other than sneering glances and impolite words. For the most part, she did not care so much, she was used to being mistreated. The few times he visited, she tried to be brave and welcoming, hoping against hope that an invitation to visit London with him might arise. It never came. When her child was born she had been elated and immediately fell in love with the beautiful blond haired girl. She sent a missive to Lord Cullen informing him of the birth. He never responded and never visited.
It took her a lot of time and many failed attempts, before she could get to London. Being shy and understated, she almost wasn't admitted on her husband's home, a place she had never seen before. She was determined to make Lord Cullen acknowledge Bella and hopefully even form a bond with the child. However, the cutting words of biting rejection she received penetrated her hardened heart, she could stand such commentaries directed at herself but not at her beloved baby girl.
That day she made a promise, her child would never again be the object of contemptuous eyes. She would be beautiful and accomplished, smart and funny, graceful and polite. Bella would be an English Rose, someone everyone would envy. Not even her arrogant father would be able to judge her beneath him.
For the next few years she became a tyrant within her own home, dictating every move Bella should make, every moment of her daughter's life filled with activities aiming at only one goal. At age three Bella put on a especially made corset and never again was allowed to go without one. Men liked slim waists, her mother said. At age four she proficiently played several instruments and completely mastered the pianoforte. She also studied 5 different languages and soon watercolour lessons would be added to her activities.
There were several beauty rituals Esme submitted Bella to. Lotions to clear her skin, weird smelly mixes to keep her hair shinning, however the concoctions to keep her slim were the truly dread ones, for they gave her horrid pains. Sometimes when she refused to swallow the concoction, even after her mother tried to pour it down her throat, she would be sent to sleep without dinner and on the other day she would have to forgo breakfast. She could not eat breads or much meat, her main source of nourishment was the porridge the cook sometimes smuggled to her.
As any child would, sometimes little Bella just wanted to run free on the beautiful meadows surrounding the property, the ones she was so rarely allowed to visit, to bask in the sun. On those days, when fanciful notions of a real childhood entered her mind, Bella was distracted and sometimes would not pay attention to her lessons. But Esme had become obsessed with success accepting nothing but absolute excellence. Any err was met with strategically delivered beatings, for she wouldn't want to mare Bella's skin. Sometimes Bella would pray for her father to visit, she was sure he was a kind and loving man who wouldn't condone her mother's rigid schedule and constant beatings.
Bella was almost six when respite came in the form of a really young boy who was sent from London by her father. Due to her mother's constant use of the word, for a long time Bella thought his name was bastard. Since the day he came into the house, all of Esme's dark energy was redirected at tormenting the little boy she thought was her husband's natural son. Bella was still required to be an overachiever; however Esme's frustrations had a new escape goat.
Had it not been for the kindness of the servants who frequently hid him and for the sympathy of Bella who would sometimes come between Esme's lashings and Jacob's body, the boy would not have survived his first year at his new home. He was painfully shy and afraid, his only lifeline the nights he spent sleeping in Bella's bed, cocooned by the warmth of her caring embrace.
Almost imperceptibly, Esme's sanity started to slip away, her demons overtaking her awaken life, no longer confined to the dark recesses of her mind. She no longer pressured her child, who was primarily trusted to the servants, tutors and the governess. And Jacob was no longer paid attention to, something the whole household was thankful for.
While Esme spiralled into madness, the children had the best time of their lives. Bella insisted that Jacob should take part on her lessons and the boy insisted she should take part on outside activities. They complemented each other perfectly, both knowing happiness for the first time. They were unbelievably close, sharing a bond that not even the mad would fail to see. It was by no means a fraternal relationship, even though innocent enough, Esme realized it would one day grow to be something more.
On a spell of lucidity, prompted by the seeds of incest, Esme wrote to her husband demanding he secured Bella's future by acquiring a husband for the child. She hopped it would create some distance between the pair, for it would be clear that they would never be able to be together. She made sure the boy heard the news of the betrothal and the broken look on his face gave Esme absolute satisfaction. After that, insanity engulfed her on its heavy cloak and never again was Esme released from its hold.
Meanwhile, a desperate mother was looking for her son. Surviving her illness by the sheer force of her love for Jacob, Tanya stubbornly clung to life, desperately hoping to save her son. However, her body wasn't strong enough and eventually she lost the battle leaving her baby boy on the hands of the vilest man she had ever met. However, her doctor, a pious man promised he would continue the search until he took his last breath and once Jacob was found, he would protect the boy in any way he could.
It took years for James to fulfil his promise, but he never gave up. The name of the man who fathered the child was never revealed to him, however one glance at the boy and James simply knew the love of his life had sired Jacob. James recognized what should be done, the boy should be delivered to his father. Gazing at the defenceless child, for the first time in years James disregarded the call of duty and honour and made a selfish choice. He would be the most wonderful father to Jacob, forever loving and protecting him, for he was the only part of Jasper he was allowed to retain. The boy would want for nothing and neither would James, since finally he would have a family.
However, he still had to deal with Lord Cullen and his demented wife, for James was a vengeful angel ready to punish their crimes against an innocent child. He started by presenting himself as an emissary from Lord Cullen, supposedly sent to treat his wife's condition. Seeing Esme's unfocused eyes and hearing her incoherent words, James knew she would be an easy target. Every day he would come and whisper on her ears, filling her head with ideas of flying to freedom, jumping to happiness, terminating her life.
One day the idea finally penetrated the fog of Esme's madness and she smiled. She could just give up and go back to her mother's arms, the only person who had ever loved her, the woman who gave up her own life so that Esme could live. They could be together again, all it took was one last act of bravery. That night Esme rose from the bed and walked a long way to the cliffs that bordered the estate and as she jumped for the first time in her life she was truly happy.
It took him over a week but eventually the pressure of responsibility compelled Lord Cullen to attend to his wife's funeral. Not many people were present at the affair, the attendants consisting mainly of tenants of Lord Cullen's estate who felt it was their duty to at least pretend to care. Lord Cullen tried to leave immediately but James' carefully laid plans were not about to be ruined by Lord Cullen's insensitivity. Making sure the wheels of the carriage were damaged, James had Lord Cullen stranded on the estate, at least until morning came. It was more than enough time to complete his plans.
Sneaking into the house, James found his prey soundly asleep. He had paid the maid to slip some laudanum on Lord Cullen's port, guaranteeing his quietness through the procedure James was about to perform. Applying pressure to certain nerves James made sure Lord Cullen's punishment would last for a long while. A lifetime of consciousness but absolute inability to move or communicate, completely at the mercy of people to whom he had been less than kind.*
Going to Jacob, James allowed his new son a lengthy goodbye to the girl unfortunate enough to be the spawn of two demons. He had seen to the girl's wellbeing by writing to her Great-grandfather, asking the Earl to collect the girl, for her mother was dead and her father incapacitated and he was her closest kin. After promising Jacob that one day he would be able to see Bella again, James left the house towards a new beginning in France.
From afar, Eric, the coachman, watched the doctor exact his revenge. From the moment he had seen the man he had recognized the burning of hate within his eyes and the thirst for justice within his soul, for Eric was no stranger to the sentiment. A long time ago, his brother, Michael, had perished under Lord Cullen's hands. It took him a long time to infiltrate Lord Cullen's staff and long years until the opportunity to avenge Michael's death presented itself.
But now, it had come the time to finish the job started by the good doctor. Eric would torture and debauch Lord Cullen's body and before the night was over, Lord Cullen would be standing at the gates of hell.
"Avesti sete di sangue, e io di sangue ti riempio." ("With blood that was thy thirst, I feed thee full"). Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio.
AN: *James' revenge was borrowed from Mark Billingham's "Sleepyhead". Eric's revenge is entirely a product of my mind.
For those of you who are interested, here is a tidbit of information on locked-in syndrome:
"Locked-in syndrome is a state of wakefulness and awareness with quadriplegia and paralysis of the lower cranial nerves, resulting in inability to show facial expression, move, speak, or communicate, except by coded eye movements.
Locked-in syndrome typically results from a pontine hemorrhage or infarct that causes quadriplegia and disrupts and damages the lower cranial nerves and the centers that control horizontal gaze. Patients have intact cognitive function and are awake, with eye opening and normal sleep-wake cycles. They can hear and see. However, they cannot move their lower face, chew, swallow, speak, breathe, move their limbs, or move their eyes laterally. Vertical eye movement is possible; patients can open and close their eyes or blink a specific number of times to answer questions."
This is the end, thank you for joining me. I will be extremely thankful if you leave me a review.