Credit for all Italian translations goes to LaMomo.
Credit for all Portuguese translations goes to myworldisblue.
Credit for the Greek translation goes to So Gian on facebook.
Chapter was beta'd by Project Team Beta.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
After pressing the end button on the phone, I took a few seconds to let the news sink in.
I couldn't say that I was surprised–all of us knew that this day would come eventually. It was already planned to happen, just not yet.
I was still standing with the phone in my hand when Edward came up behind me and turned me so that I faced him. "What is it, love?"
I sighed deeply and closed my eyes. I put the phone down as gently as possible–I didn't want to risk breaking it. "Adriana was bitten today. She's changing as we speak."
Edward frowned in confusion. "Why are you so upset? I thought it was already planned."
"Yes, it is, but it wasn't supposed to happen now."
"Does it matter?" This was one of those times when I wished Edward knew a bit more about my coven, but as he was not a full member of the Volturi, he wasn't in the know when it came to coven business. It sure would have made this a lot easier if it had not been necessary for me to explain.
"You don't understand. It's two months early, which means that it was not Aro that bit her. I would bet my arm that it was Felix."
Edward still looked confused. I did not have the time to explain the situation thoroughly since I had been summoned to the castle, but I did my best anyway. "Edward, Aro or one of the brothers are always the ones to change a new member of the coven. They do it as a way to reassure themselves that the new member will be loyal to them since they'd be bound together by blood and venom. If Felix was the one who bit Adriana himself, he's practically broken one of the household rules. Aro's probably furious."
Understanding dawned on Edward's face. "So that phone call–"
"Was Marcus telling me that Adriana's been bitten, and I need to be present for a punishment of one of our guards," I finished for him and swallowed thickly. I did not like the thought of having to punish my own brother, but he did break one of our rules, and so he had to be punished.
Edward started to run his hands over my bare shoulders in a soothing gesture, but I was too distressed. "I have to go change," I said and stepped away from him. I had to become emotionally detached as fast as possible and not think of Felix as my brother but as my guard.
I walked as fast as possible to the master bedroom without exposing myself to the servants that wandered around the house constantly. I had complained profusely to Aro when he told me about the servants. My house was supposed to be my sanctuary–the place where I could be myself with my husband and not have to think about humans for a while. But Aro had made a valid point when he said that people would get suspicious if we bought a house as big as this without hiring servants to help us maintain it.
I still did not like it, though, so Aro told me to keep the servants for six months before firing them. I only had another month to endure it.
I often wondered why I listened to my father so much, why I let him decide so much in my life. Then I remembered how long he'd lived and how wise he actually was. He knew exactly how to keep the humans unsuspicious, so I took his advice.
The house we lived in was too big for only two people, but it had also become a sort of extension of the castle in Volterra. It had been decided that all festive events would take place in this house. The castle would be used strictly for business.
The property was humongous, spread out over eighty-five thousand square feet, forty-four and a half acres of grounds surrounding it, plus a seven-thousand-five-hundred square foot fruit orchard with a five-thousand square foot greenhouse.
Not only was there the main villa, there was also a servants' villa, a guest villa, a reception area, and various other small houses and sheds spread over the entire thing.
So, yes, it was very grand, but also incredibly beautiful. The exterior was still in the style of the sixteenth or seventeenth century, which I think was when the house was built while the interior had been remade into a more eighteenth-century style.
In the five months that Edward and I had lived here, we'd made the place into our home. At least the wing we used personally. The rest of the house still looked kind of museum-like with religious paintings on the ceilings, marble floors, and mahogany staircases.
Once inside the bedroom, I opened the double doors that led to the huge walk-in closet. The room had been remodeled to hold all of our clothes. I was pretty sure that even Alice's chin would have dropped to the floor if she saw this closet because it looked like a private two-story boutique. A chandelier hung from the ceiling and the walls were covered with shelves and racks filled with shoes and clothes.
I quickly picked out a black, fully lined, three-quarter sleeved, business dress with a fitted stretch crepe skirt. I put my hair into a smooth, low bun and finished the look off with black pumps and my crest necklace.
I walked back into the sitting room where Edward still stood and gave him a small kiss on the mouth. "I don't know how long I'll be gone."
Edward gave me a small smile. "Yeah, I know that by now. Just come home when you can."
"Always." I gave him another kiss before grabbing my cloak that hung over one of the lounging chairs. I carefully exited the house, making sure that I remained in the shadows all the way to the edge of trees that surrounded the garden. Once covered by the trees, I started to run at full speed toward Volterra.
I kept the cloak off until I arrived outside the castle. It had only been thirty minutes since I had gotten the call from Marcus, but I still felt as if I should hurry. I went toward the throne room where I knew they were waiting for me.
Father was pacing back and forth with a stormy expression etched on his face. He looked up when I entered. "You surely took your time, Isabella," he said with a displeased tone.
For once I did not cower under his stare. His servants had been the cause of my delay, and he knew it. "I apologize, Father, but the servants you insisted on slowed me down considerably." I raised my eyebrow at him, but he did not move a muscle. He just kept staring at me until the door to our right was opened and Felix stepped inside with his head lowered.
A surge went through me as the last of my hope that it wasn't Felix disappeared. I did not show how I felt, though. Instead, I walked up to stand next to my father. Felix raised his head and looked at me, but he could see that this was one of those times where I was his Mistress and not his sister.
Father told Felix the reason for his punishment before he called for counsel between the four of us. We decided that his rule break wasn't severe enough for a hard punishment, so he was suspended from guard duty for two months. Some might have thought that it did not count as punishment, but this suspension would cause him to lose some of the respect from the other guards, and that would take quite a while to build up again.
Afterward, Felix went in the direction of the room that Adriana was in. I quickly followed him, having a few questions to ask. I caught up with him outside of the door. High screams came from within, and I saw how Felix cringed. "Why?" I simply asked him and stared into his eyes. He knew exactly what I was referring to.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. "I don't know. I didn't plan it, it just happened."
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
Felix closed his eyes. He looked thoroughly ashamed of what he was about to tell me. "Adriana and I were in the reception when she, out of nowhere, kissed me." He opened his eyes and exhaled harshly. "You know that I haven't done anything with her yet because I'm afraid to hurt her, but when her mouth touched mine, something took over me. I couldn't control it. The next thing I consciously knew was that I had buried my teeth into her neck." He threw his hands in the air in a gesture to show that he clearly did not know what to do.
He looked so destroyed; I just had to hug him. "I feel so guilty. Aro gave his permission for her to join us and this is how I thank him?" he mumbled into my neck.
"Shhh! It wasn't your fault. It was instinctual," I reassured him. When I leaned away from him, I looked into his eyes questioningly. "But why didn't you tell us this before? I know Father would have understood."
Felix shook his head. "I deserved the punishment. I should have been able to control myself. I acted like a newborn. I know better than to let my instincts take over me like that."
"No, you don't." I put my hands on Felix' face when he refused to look at me. "Felix, the instincts that come with being mated are completely new to you. They caught you off guard and you couldn't help but to act on them."
He still did not listen to me. "Don't downplay it. Edward was in the exact same position that I was in when he met you, and he never attacked you." He was determined to put this entire thing on himself. His tone told me that he was not open for anything but his own explanation.
"You can't compare yourself with Edward. When Edward met me, he had been denying his instincts for seventy-five years." A particularly high scream made us look at the door that separated Felix and Adriana. For a second, Felix' expression changed so that it looked like he was the one burning. I knew he ached to be with Adriana, but Aro never allowed anyone inside the room during the transformation. He said that it strengthened one's psyche if one went through it alone. "I'll get Alec," I said without taking my eyes off the door. I didn't care what Father said. The transformation was the worst thing a vampire would ever experience, and I had always envied Alice who had no memory of the event. She was lucky in that way. With Alec's help, we would be able to ease Adriana's pain.
When the night fell, I decided to call Edward and tell him to come to the castle instead of me going back home–I would just have to get back here when Adriana 'woke up' anyway–and I felt that I had to be there for Felix at the moment.
I had told my father and uncles about what truly happened with Felix and they did understand. They also respected that Felix would still take his punishment without complaint.
During the last minutes of Adriana's transformation, I was right by Felix' side, holding his hand tightly in mine. Edward was with us, explaining to Felix that Adriana did not think badly of him for changing her.
Felix was a complete mess. I had never seen him so unhinged before.
As soon as Adriana's heart stopped beating, he unlocked the door and went inside. I slowly followed, making sure that my facial expression was passive before coming into Adriana's line of sight. It had been decided that I would be the leader that made the rules clear to Adriana, as she was the first changed after my joining of the family. I had not wanted to do it, but Father insisted.
Adriana was sitting up in the bed with Felix hovering above her, her face cradled in his hands. She cautiously turned her head when she heard my entrance. Her face did not give her thoughts away, but with Edward by my side, I knew she must have been thinking about me when a low growl emitted from his chest.
"I would not entertain those thoughts if I were you, little girl," I warned with a sugar-sweet voice that did not disguise my authority.
Adriana quickly averted her gaze, but when she did, the most peculiar thing happened. The condensation on the window started to move toward its center until it created a small amount of water that slowly dripped down the glass. With a sizzle, it evaporated into steam.
My eyes widened in complete shock when I looked between Adriana and the window. I was a hundred percent sure that what just happened had something to do with the girl on the bed. Felix had not noticed anything as his eyes were for Adriana only, but Edward and I exchanged a look that said I had to run this by the brothers.
When the couple on the bed turned toward us, I had arranged my facial expression into a passive stone mask again. I ordered Adriana to follow me to the basement where her meal was to take place.
When everything was settled, I hurried toward the throne room with Edward by my side. We burst through the doors to find the brothers engaged in a conversation with Demetri, Jane, and Alec. They were about to go out on a mission.
"Take Santiago with you. You need some muscle now that Felix is suspended," I heard Marcus' advice before the three disappeared. Father looked up at us and frowned at our appearance. I was sure we both looked pretty flustered because that's how I felt, at least. I felt as if I'd run a marathon.
If Adriana possessed a gift–and a gift as powerful as I suspected it to be–it could mean a huge uplift for the Volturi guard.
"What is the matter, my dear?" Father asked. I strode up to him, lifted my shield, and showed him what we'd just witnessed. At the same time, Edward explained it to Caius and Marcus. When we finished, I voiced my suspicion.
"She's hydrokinetic. I don't know how powerful yet, but she definitely has a physical gift."
"Incredible," Aro breathed out.
"Who should we assign as her trainer?" I asked. We only had one other in the coven that possessed a physical gift and it still wasn't the same kind as Adriana's. Marcus' ability counted as physical as what he saw wasn't an illusion.
Everyone stayed quiet as no one knew who should train Adriana. We were at a loss.
"Can you take someone in from the outside?" Edward asked.
"It would complicate things, but it's definitely possible. Why? Do you have someone special in mind?" All four of us directed our attention to Edward.
He shrugged. "The most qualified person would be someone that has a gift similar to hers, right?" We all nodded. "Well, then wouldn't Anastasiya be the best?"
A few seconds passed as we let that sink in. I grabbed Edward's head and pulled him down for a hard kiss. "You are brilliant," I said against his mouth. Of course the Russian pyrokinetic would be best. It was so obvious that none of us saw it. "We should contact her immediately."
"Yes, we certainly should," Aro agreed while he studied Edward speculatively. Edward must have heard his thoughts, for he stiffened for a second as he looked at my father, but then quickly relaxed again. I had absolutely no idea what that was about, but I knew that if it was important, Edward would tell me once we were back home in Florence. I would never nag him about telling me everything that went through his head. He was allowed to have his secrets, just like I was allowed to have mine. If he wanted to tell me, he would.
I slammed the door almost hard enough for it to break when I entered the house. I was furious, and I needed to take the anger out on something.
Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw how he looked at her so adoringly, and it made me sick to my core. Why did he look at her like that? Wasn't it enough that I disliked her before?
I tore off my cloak and threw it on the floor before I ran up to the second floor. I found Edward in the library. He was sitting behind his desk with two books in front of him and a notebook in which he wrote occasionally. I did not know what he was doing and I was too angry to ask him.
When he heard my angry entrance, he looked up from his notes. "Did something happen at the castle?" he asked with a worried expression.
"No! Whatever would make you say that?" My tone was laced with heavy sarcasm, but Edward did not let it get to him. He was used to it after a year of marriage. He gently closed both of his books before rising up from his chair and walking up to me.
"Won't you tell me?" he asked in a very persuading tone.
"No," I said and crossed my arms across my chest. "I won't tell you because nothing happened."
"But if nothing happened, then why are you upset?"
"I'm not upset!"
Edward raised an eyebrow before shrugging and going back to his books. I knew the trick he used, but it still annoyed me that he could get to me like that. He knew me too well.
"Fine! I just don't get what's so special with Adriana, okay," I exclaimed. Edward once again closed his books. He moved the chair back and opened his arms so that I could sit down in his lap. I thankfully climbed up and snuggled into my husband.
He gently started to stroke my hair and I immediately felt a lot better. "What happened this time?" he asked with a soft voice. That he talked so quietly had nothing to do with anyone overhearing us–we had not had any servants in the house for seven months–but he knew how much it soothed me when he talked so that only I would be able to hear.
"Only the same, really. I know that it doesn't really mean anything, but I just don't like it when Father looks at her like that. I remember when he looked at me like that. Now he doesn't as often anymore. It just gets to me."
During the eight months that Adriana had been a vampire, she had weaseled her way into everyone's hearts. Everybody liked her. Even I liked her. Sometimes. I guess that I just couldn't stop myself from thinking about when I first joined the coven and how long it took before people started to accept me fully. They liked me, sure, but it took quite some time before I was fully accepted as one of them. For Adriana, it had barely taken a month.
Anastasiya left Volterra about two months back when she deemed Adriana to be fully trained in her gift. She said that Adriana was one of the most powerful vampires she'd ever met.
Yeah, I did not like hearing that.
Adriana could influence anything that contained pure water. Snow, clouds, fog, rain, ice, hail, anything! Her only limit was that she could only handle six-hundred-thousand gallons of water at the same time, and then it was a strain for her. With that amount of water, she could create waves, waterfalls, and even walls of water if she concentrated.
As far as we knew, she was even more powerful with water than Benjamin was. We had never personally witnessed Benjamin use his powers, but from what Aro had told us from Amun's thoughts, Adriana was just slightly more advanced, something that elated Aro to no end.
"Isabella, you have absolutely no reason to be jealous of Adriana. If anything, she should be jealous of you. You are one of the leaders of the Volturi coven, the most powerful coven in the world. Why should you feel threatened by a guard? It's not like she can take your place." Edward's arms tightened around me, and I started to draw random patterns on his shirt.
"I guess you're right."
"Love, I know I'm right. Aro loves you. You're his daughter and nothing could ever replace seventy-one years of loyalty. Your loyalty toward your father has never wavered. Not once, and if I remember correctly, I believe that you, once upon a time, said that Aro values loyalty above everything else."
He was right. Like usual.
I tilted my head backward and looked him in the eye. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"
"Of course I do. You love me almost as much as I love you." He winked at me and I laughed. This was usually how we concluded things. He knew very well that our love for each other was equal, but we did love to tease each other from time to time.
The sun changed position and started to shine right through our window. I looked out and focused my eyes on the pool in the yard.
"What do you say about taking a swim with me?"
Edward smiled widely. "I'd say that I wouldn't want to do anything else."
I untangled myself so that I could walk to the master bedroom and fetch a bathing suit, but Edward stopped me before I could take a single step. He scoped me up in his arms and ran outside. The sun reflected off our skin, but we were not worried. The vegetation around the yard was too thick and the house was situated three miles from the heart of Florence. No humans were around, so we were completely safe.
"It's not necessary for you to cover yourself for me. It's not like I haven't seen you before," Edward whispered in my ear, referring to the fact that I was going to get a bathing suit. It was not until then that I realized that I had left my shield completely down and Edward had been able to read my every thought since I first entered his hearing range.
"Why didn't you tell me I left it down?" My tone was playfully accusive.
Edward chuckled. "Why would I? Your thoughts are too entertaining to deprive myself of them."
I lightly hit his chest. I pretended that I was put out with him, but my shield was still down, now consciously so, and he knew that I was just playing him.
We reached the pool and he set me down on my feet, but he kept his arms around me. He lifted me from the ground so that my feet dangled as he kissed me deeply. His tongue licked my bottom lip, asking for permission to enter, which I gladly gave him.
The sun was warm on my face and I enjoyed every second of it.
Suddenly, we were falling sideways right into the pool. We were still fully clothed and I knew that Edward did that on purpose. When I broke the surface, I saw Edward grinning at me. "Oh, you are in big trouble now, mister."
I dove under the surface and pulled on his leg so that he was on the same level as me. He was still smiling at me as he pulled me against his chest underneath the water.
We played in the water for hours. The night fell and we climbed out to just sit underneath the starlit sky. I was completely content as I leaned my head against my husband's shoulder and admired the glimmering lights in the black night. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
One thing was for sure after the afternoon I'd shared with Edward. My thoughts were nowhere near Adriana at that moment.
9 years later
I was pulled from my thoughts when the big double doors were opened and Edward stepped inside the room, all dressed in black. His pale skin and red eyes contrasted dramatically with the color of his clothes. He was insanely handsome.
My hands tightened into fists around the fabric I was holding. I quickly released it. My long, sharp nails could make holes in the fabric, and I did not want to destroy it.
Father opened up his arms and announced the reason for our gathering before directing Edward to come forward. He walked with sure and confident steps up to the thrones and knelt down in front of us.
Aro walked up to Edward and put his hand on his head. "Edward, do you promise to be forever loyal to the Volturi?"
"And will you, Edward, uphold our laws and values by punishing those that deserve it?" Caius' hand joined Aro's.
"I will." With every vow that Edward agreed with, warmth spread through me. I felt completely filled with it.
"Do you promise to protect what we all hold dear inside of these walls?" Marcus' voice had considerably changed since I'd pledged my loyalty to them. During my ceremony, his voice had been monotonous and bored; now, it was filled with authority and dedication. I was so glad that my uncle had finally come to life again. He would always feel incomplete without Didyme, but by talking about the tragedy that had plagued his life for so long, he had come to realize that his late wife would never have forgiven him if he were to shorten his own life.
I walked up to my husband and placed my hand over the others on his head. "Will you serve us willingly for as long as you shall live?" The vow I made him take had been tweaked quite a bit since this ceremony was a bit different from when a guard was to join the coven. Edward would not become a guard. He would become a counselor and an honorary family member. Since I was one of the coven's leaders, I would never leave. Edward's marriage to me meant that he wouldn't be able to leave either. His vow of serving us as long as he would live was like a renewal of his vow to stay with me.
"Autos o andras exei iposxethei tin afosiosi/ pisti tou stin omada, tin oikogeneia kai tous frourous. Ton kalosorizoume me anoixtes agkales kai xoris prokatalipseis. Tha ton kanete na aisthanthei san enas apo emas didaskontas tou tous dikous mas tropous?" This man has pledged his loyalty to this coven, the family, and its guard. We welcome him with open arms and without prejudices. Will you make him feel like one of us by teaching him our ways? I thought back to my own ceremony, when I had absolutely no idea of what Father had said in Greek, and I smiled. The customary 'Yes' in all the languages of the guard rang out and Father gestured for me to drape the cloak over Edward's shoulders.
When I had resumed my spot between my father and mother, Edward rose on Aro's command. He fastened the buckle on Edward's cloak and gestured for me to continue. I walked back up to Edward and grabbed his right arm. I gently removed the bracelet that had the Cullen crest on it and put it in his hand. Then I reached into my pocket and presented my husband with the Volturi crest necklace. He ducked his head, and I put the necklace around his neck.
When his eyes met mine again, I gave him a small but passionate kiss. "Welcome to the Volturi Coven, Edward."
This story went through an online beta program and had all minor mistakes corrected on 18/02/2016