AN: Standard disclaimer here
So I've had most of this sitting around for a while. I like it but it means the story is moving a little slow, this is mostly fluff to move it along but important fluff in my book. Any suggestions to make it rock will be considered
Previously in Chapter 7:
For tomorrow Jasper had promised to not only call in the morning but spend the day with Bella. Bella raced to her room to get ready for bed, not sure that she'd be able to sleep, still feeling the tingle from Jasper's lips on hers and enjoying the scent of him still hanging heavy in her bedroom.
Bella knew she was purposely avoiding talking about the prophecy, it didn't matter to her. She didn't want to do anything but be with Jasper. Just like he said, "I want to be with you because of who you are, not what you are, what we are supposed to become." She totally agreed. She knew the Volturi weren't going to give up on her and Jasper, she also knew she was going to kill them the first chance she got after being changed. She just wanted to be with Jasper, she loved how her heart fluttered and stomach flipped around when she thought of him and his touches, his kisses. It was all so new to her and wonderful.
Jasper arrived home to the waiting Cullens who wanted to know what Bella said about the prophecy.
Jasper gave a sheepish grin, "I tried to talk to her about it but she wasn't interested tonight."
"So what did you do all evening then? You were there for hours and got nothing from her?" Edward asked impatiently, continually frustrated that he couldn't hear Jasper's thoughts anymore.
If he could have blushed he would have. "Nothing, just talked about our lives," he mumbled as he walked away.
He felt Rosalie's, Emmett's, and Esme's humor while Edward remained upset. Alice was sad but tried to be happy for her former love. Carlisle was at work, but surely would have found Jasper's avoidance and embarrassment humorous.
Jasper went upstairs and thought about how all the things in his life have led him to this moment. He was not happy to hear he was part of a prophecy yet he felt almost relieved to know that his suffering at the hands of Maria was to help make him strong for his mate. But he only wanted to be strong for her not for the vampire world. It wasn't his to run. Still changes needed to be made, living in secrecy is certainly necessary but the harsh rule of the Volturi didn't seem warranted in this day and age. Maybe thousands of years ago when they came into power there was a use for them, but not now.
Jasper found himself lying on the roof later in the evening only to be joined by Esme. He loved his mother figure but he was certainly his own adult. Still it was nice to have someone who cared so much for him, for all of them. She would even accept Bella.
Esme laid next to Jasper sending him her love and support, she softly began singing a lullaby. The words didn't really matter to Jasper, it was just soothing, which is what Esme intended. He finally reached for her hand, sharing his emotions lightly with her. This was something they'd done in the past but not often. It was almost like a mother holding her ailing son. She couldn't ease his ailments but she could be there for him. Jasper had occasion to need this mother figure when he would deal with memories of his past. Some days were just rough for him but Esme was always there, and always seemed to know what he needed.
"How do I get her away from them?" he whispered, to maintain the quiet that surrounded them.
"You don't, Jasper. This is your destiny. I know you don't want to hear it. I know you don't want to live it, but it is time for things to change for everyone. If you can give us all a better life, it would benefit you too. Maybe give you the peace and forgiveness that you so richly deserve."
Jasper released Esme's hand feeling his emotions turn angry and wary.
"Please?" Esme requested holding her hand out to reconnect with him again. "I didn't say those things to upset you. I said them because I know what a wonderful person you are and I know you have let your past go but I also know it still haunts you at times, Jasper. I love you and I want you to be happy. I know your start into this life was not pleasant, we all know that, but this prophecy… well it has all the earmarks of a way to make you happy. I know you don't want to rule. But you don't want to deal with your thirst and none of us do really. We didn't ask for this life, but we've tried to do the best we can with what we have been given.
"Don't decide anything hastily. You should examine all sides. Not for us but for yourself and your future with Bella. If you take her and run, you'll always be on the run. There will probably be bounties on your heads. If that happens, you'll have no one but us to turn to and the Volturi know that. They could try to use us to lure you out. Or we all go on the run with you. Please just think it over. I know you won't rule with Aro, Caius, and Marcus but walking in there and bringing down their rule may be easier if they think you're willing to conform to them.
"I don't have all the answers. And like I said no decisions need to be made tonight. Just make sure you look outside the box." Esme released Jasper's hand and sent him her love before descending into the darkness off the roof top.
Jasper had no idea how human rulers did it. Having the weight of the world on them, dealing with wars, trade, economics, immigration, all of it. He let his vampire mind run with everything Esme said. She was wise and he respected that she didn't try to influence him just give him a bigger picture. He hadn't thought about having to stay on the run. Having a bounty on his head, on his mate's head. She was right, he needed to see this from every angle not the lovesick fool he had become or the complacent Cullen he had been for the last 50 years. He needed to embrace his tactical senses and realize he was again going to have to fight for his life. The stakes were greater now though, as he would have to fight for his mate's life as well.
The enemy is bigger and stronger than he was used to, they were experienced, and cunning. His mate was in the middle and his family are a weakness if he can't make them a strength.
Jasper sat alone on the roof the rest of the night, his thoughts vacillating between Bella and the curse as he had come to think of the prophecy. He wanted to live out a quiet life with his new soon-to-be bride but he knew that wasn't possible. So he formulated a plan. Part one, learn who your enemies are, which means- meet the in-laws.
As the sun began to shine above the tree line Jasper fell from his perch and entered the house to clean up for the day. Couples were still by themselves in their rooms and he found it was only 7am. However, he had promised Bella a full day together and a certain time wasn't planned.
A ride through the woodlands, he thought as he pulled up in front of Bella's house. He saw a curtain flutter up top to reveal Felix's shinning smile and nod before the front door was opened by the same man only a second later.
Jasper made his way to the door and the awaiting vampire. "Good morning, sir. You are here early." Felix stepped back allowing Jasper entrance.
"I'll wake the princess?" Felix questioned waiting for Jasper's orders. He noted this behavior as being one of a servant. Not usually how Felix presented himself to Jasper, which as of late was that of a peer not a servant.
"That's okay, Felix, please have a seat. I can wait for her to wake up. Did she sleep well?"
Felix took a seat across from Jasper at the kitchen table. "She did seem to have some trouble falling asleep, sir. She was very happy when you left though."
"What's with all this sir stuff, Felix? You can just call me Jasper." He looked over at the hulking vampire who looked and felt shocked.
"No sir. I'm sorry I cannot do that. I am to show you proper respect when we are alone."
"On who's orders?" Jasper looked closely at Felix as he fiddled with the bottom of his white button down shirt that was uncharacteristically untucked from his black dress pants.
"Sir, I've been too relaxed in the way that I have spoken with you and I had orders when I returned to treat you accordingly. I realized I have not been doing that, mostly because I cannot in front of Charlie, but even then I was not giving you the proper respect you deserve and I apologize for that."
"Really?" Jasper sat there waiting for Felix to say more but he simply nodded and returned to fiddling with his shirt tail.
"Felix, tell me. Do you like Volterra?"
Felix's eyes shot up to look at Jasper, "Sir?" he questioned not sure what Jasper was looking for.
"It's a simple question, Felix. Do you like it there?"
"Well, I haven't been there much in the last 15 years, sir. Maybe my assessment of Volterra is incorrect?" he was unsure of his answer but he knew he didn't want to anger Jasper.
Jasper sighed feeling like he wasn't going to get anything from the hulking man who had suddenly become as timid as a kitten around him. Resigned to waiting for Bella to wake, Jasper sat back in silence and began to get lost in his own thoughts.
"Well, it isn't always a bad place to be…" Felix suddenly began staring at the wall over Jasper's head. Jasper focused back on Felix without saying a word. "Volterra isn't bad, there's always plenty to eat and the Masters are not cruel men. They do try to be fair. Punishments can be severe but they are typically earned. The castle has been kept up to date, it's modern inside, the furnishings and such are replaced about every five years or so with the exception of some antiquities. Everyone has their own rooms and we can come and go as we please.
"Bella, well she causes a lot of ruckus when she is there," he smiled fondly at his memories. "The Masters really do love her, Caius especially. They wanted her because of the prophecy-"he paused and looked directly into Jasper's golden eyes as he continued. "I don't think they want her just for that anymore. I've taken her every summer, to stay for over a month, to visit with them and they bend over backwards while she is there. She has her own handmaiden, sorry, I guess they're called personal assistants now. She has her own chef when she is there, she has unlimited funds and is taken to all the best shops in Italy.
"All the palace business is pretty much placed on hold when Bella is there. They do some at night while she sleeps but otherwise, it can wait. They spend hours talking to her about her family and what she's been doing in America. Marcus taught her to play chess and they always play several games while she's visiting. Aro likes to share time in the library reading and discussing you and her future. Caius, well the only time he isn't cranky is when she is around.
"Caius actually smiles and spends hours with her teaching her music and languages and sometimes they just sit around watching television. That was another change she brought into the castle, television. No one really bothered with them but now we have a theater room with over 20 chairs, a sound system that puts theaters to shame and of course a wall-sized television." Felix smirked at that thought.
"She speaks five languages now, fairly fluently. Did you know that?"
Jasper sat quietly mulling over the information Felix had given him. Bella's influence on the brothers was certainly notable, especially if they would put things on hold for her. In Felix's description the worst thing he could say was that punishments were harsh.
"I didn't know that. She is very smart. Felix? If you could change something about Volterra, our rulers, or even being a vampire, what would it be?" Felix's eyebrows scrunched together as he thought about his answer. Jasper was glad he was taking the question seriously.
"I suppose…" Jasper felt as Felix became nervous but waited for him to continue. "I guess, if I could change something about being a vampire, it would be the damn thirst. I mean I understand needing blood and I understand feeling thirsty but what we experience is beyond ridiculous." Jasper nodded in acceptance of the answer.
"If…" Jasper perked up, interested to hear what else might be said, "I guess if I was going to change anything about Volterra it would be the theatrical way that things are done. I think it is useless and also ridiculous. I like my home very much but sometimes the Masters can be over the top with how they do things, like presenting themselves on thrones. I don't think anyone uses thrones anymore. And besides they're not kings. They're the rulers of our world sure, but ya know, maybe they shouldn't be. Maybe they should retire or something and give someone else a chance. I like the American democracy. I think it could work for us.
Jasper felt Felix's hope increase as he talked about a democracy and realized he was speaking more about the prophecy. Jasper sighed heavily and tuned out the ramblings of the vampire across from him. He let his thoughts wander to the girl upstairs whose even heartbeat filled the otherwise suddenly silent house, as Felix realized he had lost his audience with the would-be prince.
Bella began to stir about 9:30am and Jasper found he needed to be with her and see her as she opened her eyes. He ghosted upstairs without a word to Felix and entered Bella's room quietly. She faced the window and he carefully walked around the bed as her breathing continued to change and her heart rate continued to increase. He settled against the windowsill waiting for his beauty to open her eyes.
Jasper noted the soft features of her face, caught somewhere between youth and womanhood, a roundness that indicated youth that was already trimming into that of a woman. Her full soft pink lips were slightly parted as her nose wrinkled indicating she smelled something. A slow smile spread across her lips as she opened her doe eyes looking right into Jasper's amber orbs.
"Morning," she whispered as Jasper slowly stalked towards her.
The sun streaming in the window behind him gave him an ethereal glow and Bella felt her heart soar with love and excitement for the man as he kneeled by her bed.
"Morning," he responded, cupping her soft pale cheek in his cold marble hand.
"You're early," she smiled and chose not to move, there was a connection between them and for the life of her she would not be the first to break it.
Bella's eyes closed and Jasper felt her cheek warm beneath his hand and he just waited. She was exactly what he needed to get through everything from now on. He would do things her way to start. He would meet her family, court her, fall in love with her, marry her, and worry about the prophecy later. Right now, his concern was her, her heart, and her every desire.
Bella opened her eyes meeting his again and he remembered his words that first day. "She must be dealt with." He had no idea at that time that she was his to "deal with" for all eternity. Concern that a human girl knew too much quickly flew out the window when he learned who she was. Now as they shared moment in time connecting their souls, Jasper finally felt free.
His grin grew and he shared his emotions through the hand on her cheek, it was not something he could put into words. She did things for him in ways he didn't understand. She was his, but a piece of himself he didn't know he needed until this moment. She smiled and placed her delicate warm hand over his.
"We are meant to be and I'm glad you are sharing this with me."
Jasper felt her insecurity rise at her words, she was still afraid that she would say or do the wrong thing, again.
"I couldn't share it with anyone else, Bella. You are the reason for it. I've never felt this way. I can't even describe it. You are setting me free and healing me all at the same time. I can't thank you enough. I can't even begin to tell you what this means to me."
Bella, turned her head and kissed his palm before leaning over to kiss him.
"We'll be great together."
Jasper was a bit wary of those words but nodded all the same. He knew she was talking about more than just their relationship but he tried to keep his mind on the moment. The moment he knew he was beginning to feel true love for the warm beautiful creature that had loved him nearly her whole life.