Credit for all Italian translations goes to LaMomo!
Credit for all Portuguese translations goes to myworldisblue!
These two are the best for helping me!
Also, thank you to Project Team Beta that beta'd this chapter for me. They really helped me a lot!
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 hanging up the phone, I took a few seconds to let the news sink in.
I couldn't say that I was particularly surprised. We all knew this day would come eventually. It was already planned to happen, but not yet.
I was still holding the phone when Edward came searching for me.
"What is it, love?" he asked me with a frown. "I can practically feel your distress."
I sighed and closed my eyes before placing the phone down on my desk as gently as possible to keep myself from breaking it. Technology had become so fragile lately and wasn't really made for creatures as strong as myself.
"Adriana was bitten today. She's changing as we speak."
Edward looked at me in confusion. "Why are you so upset over it? I thought it was already planned."
"Yes, but it wasn't supposed to happen today."
"Does it matter?"
It was at times like these that I wished Edward knew more about my coven. He wasn't a member of the Volturi, though, and so he wasn't in the know when it came to coven business. It sure would have made a lot of things much easier if I didn't have to explain everything to him every time.
I shook my head. "You don't understand. It's two months too early, which means that it wasn't Aro who bit her. I would bet my arm that it was Felix."
The confusion didn't leave Edward, but I didn't have the time to explain it more thoroughly since I had been summoned to the castle, but I did my best anyway.
"Edward, one of the brothers are always the ones to change a new member of the coven. They do it for reassurance to make sure the new member remains loyal to them since they'd be bound together by blood and venom. If Felix bit Adriana, he's broken one of the household rules. Aro's furious."
Understanding finally dawned in Edward's eyes. "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 didn't 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 ran his hands over my bare shoulders in a soothing gesture, but I was too worried to calm down.
"I have to go change," I said quietly 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 long as Edward touched me, it was impossible.
I had to walk in a brisk, human pace to the master bedroom in order to avoid exposure. The servants who wandered around the house constantly were human, and while I had complained profusely to Aro when he told me about them, he had made a good point when he explained that people would get suspicious if we bought a house as big as this without hiring servants to help us maintain it.
It didn't mean it made me any happier about it, though. 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.
Aro told me I had to keep the servants for at least six months before firing them, and I only had another month until then, so I endured it.
I often wondered why I listened to my father so much, and why I allowed him to decide so much in my life, but then I always remembered how long he'd lived and how wise he actually was. He knew exactly how to keep the humans unsuspecting, so I took his advice.
Mine and Edward's house was much too big for only two people, but it had also become an extension of the castle in Volterra. We always hosted all the festive events in the house while the castle was only used 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 out over the entire thing.
It was very grand, but also incredibly beautiful. The exterior had been preserved in its original sixteenth-century style, which was when it was built, while the interior had been remodeled into an eighteenth-century design.
In the five months that Edward and I had lived here, we had made the western wing our home so that we could enjoy the setting sun from our windows when the servants had retired for the evening. The rest of the house was very museum-like with religious paintings on the ceilings, marble floors, and mahogany staircases.
Once inside our bedroom, I opened the double doors that led to the huge walk-in closet that used to be the room next door, but it had been reconstructed to hold all of our clothes. I was certain 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 business dress with a fitted stretch crepe skirt, and put my hair into a smooth, low bun. My crest hung around my neck, and the black pumps I already had on had to do.
I went back to Edward and gave him a kiss. "I don't know how long I'll be gone."
Edward smiled and placed his hands on my waist. "Just come home when you can," he said and kissed me again.
"Always." I grabbed my cloak and 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 them, I started to run at full speed toward Volterra.
I arrived outside the castle only thirty minutes after 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 took your time, Isabella," he said with a displeased tone.
For once I didn't 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 bit back, and while he narrowed his eyes at my tone, he didn't reply. He just continued to stare at me until the door to our right was opened and Felix stepped inside with his head bent forward.
An uncomfortable surge went through me as the last of my hope that it wasn't Felix went up in smoke.
I didn't 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 explained the reason for Felix's 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 didn't count as punishment, but this suspension would cause him to lose some of the respect from the other guards, and it would take quite a while to build up again.
After, Felix went in the direction of the room that Adriana was in. I quickly followed him since I had a few questions I wanted to ask.
I caught up with him outside of the door where high screams could be heard from within.
"Why?" I simply asked and stared into his eyes.
He knew exactly what I was referring to pulled agitatedly at his hair. "I don't know. I didn't plan it, it just happened."
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
Felix closed his eyes in shame. "Adriana and I were in the reception when she, out of nowhere, kissed me." He sighed and finally looked back at me with devastated eyes. "You know I have avoided everything physical with her yet because I'm afraid to hurt her, but when her mouth touched mine, something took over. I couldn't control it. The next thing I consciously knew was that I had my teeth buried in her neck."
He threw his hands in the air in to show that he clearly didn't know what to do. He looked so destroyed; I just had to hug him.
"I feel so guilty," he confessed. "Aro gave his permission for her to join us and this is how I thank him?" he mumbled into my neck.
"It wasn't your fault. It was instinctual," I reassured him. When I leaned away, I looked at him 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 like that."
"No, you don't," I told him and forced him to look at me when he tried to look away. "Felix, the instincts that come with being mated are completely new to you. They caught you off guard and you couldn't help but act on them."
He still didn't listen to me. "Don't minimize my rule-break. Edward was in the exact same position when he met you, and he never attacked." He was determined to put all the blame on himself. His tone made it clear he wasn't open to anything but his own explanation.
"You can't compare yourself with Edward. When we met, he had been denying his instincts for seventy-five years."
A particularly loud scream made us look at the door that separated Felix for Adriana. For a second, Felix's expression changed and 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 the 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. 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 have to get back here when Adriana 'woke up' anyway, and I wanted to be there for Felix.
I 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.
When there were mere minutes left of Adriana's transformation, I was right by Felix's side, holding his hand tightly in mine.
Felix was a complete mess. I had never seen him so unhinged before, but Edward was with us, and he explained to Felix that Adriana didn't think badly of him for changing her. My brother looked a little bit relieved after hearing that, but he couldn't relax completely until he could hear his mate say it to him directly.
As soon as Adriana's heart stopped beating, he unlocked the door and went inside. I slowly followed and made 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 "adoption" into the family. I hadn't wanted to do it, but Father insisted.
Adriana was sitting up in the bed with Felix hovering in front of her, her face cradled in his hands. She cautiously turned her head when she heard my entrance, and while her face didn't give her thoughts away, Edward's low growl revealed them to me anyway.
"I wouldn't entertain those thoughts if I were you, little girl," I warned with a sugar-sweet voice that didn't disguise my authority.
She 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 drop of water that slowly trickled down the glass. With a sizzle, it evaporated into steam.
I froze in shock, but my thoughts ran wild. I was certain that what we had just witnessed had everything to do with the girl on the bed.
Felix hadn't 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 to us, I once again wore my passive stone mask. I ordered Adriana to follow me to the basement where her first meal was to take place.
When everything was settled, I hurried to 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's advice before the three disappeared.
Father looked up at us and frowned at our appearance. I was sure we both looked flustered because that's how I felt. Almost as if I'd run a marathon.
If Adriana possessed 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 while Edward explained it to Caius and Marcus.
"She's hydrokinetic," I said. "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 in the coven who possessed a physical gift and it still wasn't the same kind as Adriana's. Marcus's ability counted as physical as what he saw wasn't an illusion.
"Can you take someone in from 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 nodded. "The most qualified person would be someone that has a gift similar to hers, right?"
"Yes, of course."
"Well, wouldn't Benjamin be the best, then?"
I grabbed Edward's shoulders and pulled him forward for a hard kiss. "You are brilliant," I said against his mouth. Of course the only atmoskinetic we knew would be best. "We should contact him immediately."
"Yes, we certainly should," Aro agreed and 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 force him to tell 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.
The door almost splintered when I entered my house with a loud bang. I was beyond furious, and I needed to take the anger out on something.
Whenever I closed my eyes, all I saw was 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 to search for Edward. I found him in the library sitting behind his desk with two books in front of him and his touchscreen monitor on which he wrote on occasionally.
I didn't know what he was doing and I was too angry to ask.
He looked up from his notes as soon as I entered the room, as he had already heard my angry entrance, and his eyes were worried. "Did something happen at the castle?"
"No! Whatever would make you say that?" I said, my tone laced with heavy sarcasm, but Edward didn't take it personally.
He knew me inside and out, and he gently closed both of his books before rising from his chair to walk up to me. "Won't you tell me?" he asked in a seductive voice.
"No," I said and crossed my arms. "I won't tell you because nothing happened," I continued to insist.
"But if nothing happened, then why are you upset?"
"I'm not upset!"
Edward shrugged and went back to his books.
I knew the trick he used too well, but it still annoyed me that he could get to me like that. "Fine! I just don't get what's so special with Adriana, okay," I exclaimed.
He once again closed his books and moved his chair back. He opened his arms for me to sit on his lap and I thankfully snuggled into my husband.
He gently stroke my hair and I immediately felt a lot better.
"What happened this time?" he asked softly. The volume wasn't out of fear of being overheard because we hadn't had any servants in the house for months, but he knew how much it soothed me when he talked for my ears only.
I sighed. "Only more of the same, really. I know it doesn't 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 feels like I've been set aside, and it gets to me."
Adriana had been a vampire for eight months now, and she had weaseled her way into everyone's hearts.
Everybody liked her, including me … Sometimes.
But I couldn't stop myself from thinking about when I first joined the coven and how long it took before people started to accept me completely.
They liked me, but it took quite some time before I was accepted as one of them.
For Adriana, it had barely taken a month.
Benjamin and Tia had left Volterra two months back when he deemed Adriana to be fully trained in her gift, and he had told us that she was one of the most powerful vampires he'd ever met.
I hadn't liked hearing that.
Adriana could influence anything with water in it; 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.
She was even more powerful with water than Benjamin himself, which we'd all witnessed at one of their lessons, and it had elated Aro since Adriana was his.
"You have absolutely no reason to be jealous of Adriana," Edward said while nuzzling my hair. "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." His arms tightened around me, and I started to draw random patterns on his shirt.
"I guess you're right."
He chuckled. "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 to your father has never wavered. Not once. And if I remember correctly, I believe that you, once upon a time, told me that Aro values loyalty above everything else."
He was right, and I was embarrassed of myself, but I tilted my head back 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 enjoyed teasing each other from time to time.
The sun changed position and shined through the window which grabbed my attention. I looked outside and my eyes focused on the glimmering water in the pool. "You wanna take a swim with me?"
I was about to climb down from his lap to make my way to our bedroom for a bathing suit, but Edward stopped me before I could make a single move. He stood up with his arms under me and ran outside.
The sun reflected off our skin, but we weren't 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.
"Why cover yourself up?" he asked in a whisper. "I'm rather partial toward your unclothed body."
It wasn't until that moment 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 accusative.
Edward chuckled. "Why would I? Your thoughts are too entertaining to deprive myself of them."
I lightly hit his chest and pretended to be put out with him. My shield was still down, though, 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 didn't let me out of his arms. He lifted me from the ground so that my feet dangled as he kissed me deeply, and when he licked my bottom lip to ask for permission to enter, I gladly gave it to him.
The sun was warm on my skin and I enjoyed every second of it.
Suddenly, we were falling sideways into the pool. We were still fully clothed and I knew that Edward did that on purpose.
When I broke the surface, I saw him grinning at me. "Oh, you are in big trouble now, mister."
I dove under the surface and pulled on his leg to drag him underwater with me. He was still smiling at me as he pulled me against his chest underneath the water.
We played for a while, but as it most often did, it soon turned into something else. Edward had me pressed against the edge of the pool—our clothes were floating around in the water—and he had successfully chased away all of my unnecessary jealousy of Adriana.
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 darkness. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
9 years later
The big double doors to the throne room were opened and Edward stepped inside, all dressed in black.
His pale skin and red eyes contrasted dramatically with the color of his clothes, and I hungrily drank him in. He was so insanely handsome.
My hands tightened into fists around the fabric I was holding, but I quickly released it. My long, sharp nails could make holes in the fabric, and I didn't want to destroy it.
Father opened up his arms and announced the reason for our gathering before directing Edward to come forward.
He walked up to the thrones with certain, confident steps 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?"
"I do," Edward replied, and a surge of pride went through me.
"And will you, Edward, uphold our laws and values by punishing those who deserve it?" Caius' hand joined Aro's.
With every vow that Edward agreed with, more 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, but now it was filled with authority and dedication.
I was so happy 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 joined my father and uncles in front of my husband and placed my hand over theirs on his head. "Will you serve us willingly for as long as you shall live?"
The vow I made him promise had been tweaked a bit since this ceremony was different from when a guard joined the coven.
Edward wouldn't 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, and Edward's marriage to me meant that he wouldn't be able to leave either. His vow of serving us as long as he lived was like a renewal of his vow to stay with me.
Aro made the finishing speech in Greek, and now I knew what he was saying compared to my own ceremony when I'd had no idea.
"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?"
The customary 'Yes' in all the languages of the guard rang out and Father gestured for me to drape the black cloak over Edward's shoulders.
Edward rose on Aro's command, and after my father had fastened the buckle of the cloak, I grabbed his right arm. I gently removed the cuff-bracelet with the Cullen crest on it and placed 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 it around his neck.
When his eyes met mine again, I gave him a small but passionate kiss.
"Welcome to the Volturi Coven, Edward."
So, that's it. It's officially over.
Now I want to tell you how much I've appreciated your never-ending support on this story. I never in my wildest dreams thought that this story would get so much attention. Just yesterday, I received my 400th review. That's amazing!
I have a few people I would like to thank!
First to LaMomo and myworldisblue for the translations to Italian and Portuguese.
Secondly, to all the betas on Project Team Beta that corrected my grammar and mistakes throughout the story. I would like to list all of them, but there's thirty of them so that would just take up a bit too much space ;-P
Hopefully, if anyone of them is reading this story, they'll know that I'm talking about them and know how much I've appreciated their help! Thank you!
Thirdly to all of you wonderful readers and reviewers. You've kept me going through this whole thing, but I would like to thank a few special ones,
Purradox – You faithfully read all my stories and review every chapter. Thank you so much!
Falling In Bleeding Roses – For giving me the review that kept me going in the beginning when the story was still fighting for attention.
dj071688-Coppertop – For always being excited about the next update and following it with dedication on FB.
LaPumuckl – You just recently joined this story, but you deserve a thank you here because you went through this story in what? Two or three days and took time to review each and every chapter. That meant a lot to me. Thank you! And also for being my 400th reviewer!
So that was the thanks.
Now I would like to try something out here.
It would just be awesome if each and every one of you told me in a review which country you are from so that I get to know exactly how far this story has reached out. I'll then make a list and put that up as an "update" after this chapter and you'll get to see as well!
And also, I would like to know what you all really thought of the story as a whole and what your absolute favorite part was.
Why was it your favorite part?
Was it something special you thought I did well?
I would be incredibly grateful if you told me these things and it would kind of be a fun thing as well :-D
Okay, I'm done talking now!
Thank you all so so much and I'll see you in my next story!
Lots of love and hugs and kisses