Warnings: Some explicit content, character death.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: This is set five years after the ending of 'Siren of the Twilight'. This will be a three-shot.
I'd been a vampire for five years.
Thanks to the clarity that came with the change, I could remember as if it was yesterday, my first sight of Volterra. I had said goodbye to my human friends and family, left my mundane human existence far behind me in exchange for another.
When I first moved to Forks, I could never have imagined how much that tiny, rain-soaked town would change my life. But it had, and I saw the evidence every time I looked into a mirror.
Everything about my senses had been heightened, my body and face smoothed and perfected until I almost didn't recognise myself in the mirror, the morning I awoke from the change. My eyes, red as blood, had startled me at first.
But that had not been the only change. My life in Forks, and before that in Phoenix, had been ordinary, unimportant. I was just one teenager among millions.
Now I was a Queen, a leader. In our world, my word was law.
I felt a smile dawn as I looked out of the tower window, the view encompassing all of the golden town below me, gleaming in the Italian sun with its yellow stone and terracotta tiled roofs, and beyond to the wide, seemingly unending plains. I had run the length and breadth of those plains, knew their every hollow and dip and dell like I knew the contours of my face, or that of my husband's.
My mind turned to the man I had married in secret, exactly five years before, at a time of sunset, of twilight just like now. Aro had changed me the very night we arrived in Volterra. My last night as a human.
I could still remember the pink of the dawn, my last dawn as a human, as the sun had risen over the rooftops of Volterra, only for it to be blotted out by the pain of the change.
It had been like a dusky rose, spreading across the sky like a bloodstain.
It had taken a year to get my bloodlust under control, once I awoke from the change. There had been an incident, about six months after my change, when the worst had happened, and no pain could equal that. Only Aro had been able to help come to terms with the guilt, and the sorrow, of taking a life. The thirst had nearly been all-consuming and painful, the only real pain I was capable of experiencing once I became a vampire. Jane's gift could not harm me, not that she would ever have tried of her own free will.
The diminutive vampire did have a sadistic side. I'd seen it before, many times, but it was always only in the service of the Volturi. If Aro, or I, or Caius or Marcus, ordered her to stop, she stopped instantly. I had grown to love her, just as I loved Alec and Demetri and Felix and all the others of the Volturi guard.
I smiled as I turned to face Jane, when I smelt her approach, her unique scent like rose petals mixed with the unmistakeable scent of human blood. It was one I'd long become used to.
"Ok, Jane. Confession time," I murmured, the blonde vampire smirking impishly as she appeared from around a corner, the skirts of her robe swishing gently as she glided towards me. I spread my arms, gesturing to the gown I wore, and my upswept hair. "Why the hell am I wearing this, and where is that conniving snake of a husband of mine?"
I had returned to our rooms after going for a run in the foothills, as I often did. Running and the speed of being a vampire, was one of my favourite things. Aro had been none too happy, arguing that I should not leave the citadel for fear I might be a target.
I remembered Damon all too well.
I had refused to stay cooped up for all eternity in Volterra. That had been our first real fight, and in the end Aro could not gainsay me. I was immune to all gifts of the Volturi guard, and he knew I would never have forgiven him if he had restrained me by force. In the end, he had merely insisted I take a guard with me if I must go, and he could not join me himself.
Even that had dropped off, as my powers grew and expanded. My shield could be used not only to protect others from mental attack or penetration, but I had discovered I also possessed the power to shield them and myself physically as well.
When I had returned to Volterra, it was to find this beautiful monstrosity of a gown waiting for me on our bed.
I was used to luxury and wealth in Volterra. Aro had warned me when we arrived that I would just have to get used to it, and to being treated like a Queen. I only reluctantly agreed.
The dress was black silk overlaid in golden lace, the cool silk hugging my perfected form before flaring from my knees in a cascade of contrasting colours and textures. As always, I wore the Volturi crest Aro had left me during our year apart around my neck.
Knowing it was a message, and that Aro wished me to wear it, I had given in and swept up my hair, and then gone up to my tower, my favourite spot in the citadel, to wait. It was no use trying to find him; Aro was exceedingly good at evading me if he wanted to, and there were places in the Volturi citadel that I had not, even in five years of living there, managed to explore yet.
Jane tore me out of my reverie again, with her teasing smirk. "I couldn't possibly say, my Lady," she murmured formally, and I rolled my eyes at the formality. It was my right and my title, as Aro's wife, but that didn't mean I had to enjoy it. Jane, Alec and Felix liked using it just to annoy me most of the time. "I was however requested by the Master to bring you to the solarium."
"You mean we actually have one of those?" I asked, frowning. Jane shrugged.
"Even the Masters still enjoy the feel of sunlight. This way, we do not run the risk of exposure," she replied, with a slightly pointed look in my direction. I sighed and rolled my eyes; Jane disapproved of my outdoor excursions just like Aro did, and just like Aro, she had learned that telling me no usually meant I would do it anyway.
It was an exasperated sort of bond between us, like that despite the gap in physical age and rank, Jane was my long-suffering elder sister.
I just smiled and remained silent, walking away as Jane rolled her eyes and shook her head.
The solarium was a wide, cavernous room at the very heart of the citadel, where a glass domed roof let in the sunlight, safe from prying mortal eyes.
As I walked inside, I smelt the scent of human blood. The thirst burned in my throat, but I could see no one else in the room, as I glided forward, and stopped, smiling.
In the very centre of the solarium was a chaise piled high with cushions and silk throws, a small mahogany tantalus beside it holding a carafe of ruby red blood and two crystal glasses. Violin music played softly in the background, and I smiled as I recognised some of Elgar's work.
Knowing Aro was around somewhere; I crossed my arms and called out. "So what is all this?"
I felt my husband's presence with a rush of cool air against my back, and didn't move as his arms came around me, holding me tightly in his embrace. "I believe humans call such things anniversaries. Your change is certainly an event I would wish to celebrate," he murmured against my ear, making me shudder. His fingers traced the crest hanging in the valley between my breasts, before trailing sensuously down my stomach, and I gasped.
While I was no longer a newborn, some things would always test my control to breaking point.
My husband and my never-ending lust for him being one of them, a fact he exploited every chance he got.
"Aro," I growled warningly, and he chuckled. "Behave."
"Where you are concerned, that will always be an impossibility, amore mio," he sighed mock-apologetically. I eyed him over my shoulder narrowly, meeting his flawless features and milky red eyes.
"Don't try the seduction technique on me, buddy," I retorted, mock-snarling but my grin and the look in my eye didn't exactly match my tone. Aro chuckled, pressing a kiss to my temple.
"I do wish you would cease using modern idioms. I can't keep up," he muttered, releasing me and going to the tantalus, pouring blood into the crystal glasses and offering one to me. "I am most certainly not your 'buddy'."
"Awww, is the big, bad, millennia-old vampire finding it too hard to cope with the modern world?" I teased him, waiting for him to crack but my ever-so-patient husband just smiled darkly, and raised his glass to me.
"Keep going, my Isabella," he chuckled. "I have my limits."
And I was probably the only person in existence able to push them with impunity. I smiled and sipped my blood, relishing the warm saltiness against my tongue. "Well, since we wouldn't want that," I smiled a seductive smile of my own, as his eyes darkened with hunger, and he prowled closer. "I ask again. What brought all this on?"
"I told you, the anniversary of your change," he replied insistently. He reached out and traced a finger down my cheek to my lips, lingering on a spot of blood I had purposely let slip, and he painted my lips with it. "Am I not allowed to plan a surprise for my wife?"
"Well, I certainly wasn't expecting you to remember," I replied. We hadn't done it before, and I was surprised he remembered. Heck, it wasn't exactly high on my list of priorities either, not really. Call it a remnant of my old dislike of celebrating birthdays.
Aro looked offended, and I swept my hand out over the chaise and the blood, and the relatively private location, or as private as it got in a citadel full of vampires. "Or that you planned this! I didn't know I married a closet romantic," I grinned, setting down my glass and his, and stepping into his arms. I twined my own around his neck, and met his eye, dropping my teasing and I smiled sincerely. "Thank you, love. This is beautiful."
The sun warmed us, as Aro bent his head to mine, our kiss slow and unhurried. There was no rush, no need, just pleasure and comfort. His hand crept into my hair, ruffling the smooth style, holding me tightly as his tongue ravished mine, and I abruptly felt far too hot.
The intimacy that surrounded us threatened to turn to something far hotter and darker, and I broke the kiss, wanting to prolong it a little while longer. Our lives were full, busy, and moments like this were not as common as I would have liked. I leant my head on his lapel, against the familiar softness of his usual suit, and his hand stroked my hair.
"Didyme put you up to this, didn't she?" I muttered. I felt Aro sigh, as I restrained a laugh, and raised my head.
"She might have mentioned the importance of such a date," he replied reluctantly. "And Alice."
I really did laugh then. My relationship with Aro's sister and Caius's mate, Athenodora, was close, as close as sisters. I adored Didyme for her cheerfulness and innocent love of life, and Athenodora for her sophistication and intelligence. She had been the one to truly teach me what it meant to be a wife and Queen of the Volturi, had eased me into my new life where sometimes Aro could not.
As for the pixie-like vampire, we were firm friends. We did not see one another often, but we kept in touch regularly. They had moved on from Washington two years ago, and had settled in Canada for a few years.
"Thought so," I breathed. "Romance needs a woman's touch, and you, my darling husband, have other talents."
"And what might those be?" he smiled, as I raised my head, sliding one hand into the hair at the nape of his neck and drawing him down to me, hunger sparking in me at the fire in his onyx eyes.
"I think you know very, very well," I whispered, just before his hands tightened around my waist, pulling me hard against him, tightly moulding my body against his, our clothes an annoying barrier.
His lips brushed continuously against mine, as his hands left my waist to rise to my hair, removing the pins and clips which held it in place, until it tumbled freely down my shoulders. His fingers, long, quick and clever, fell to the neckline of my gown, and dipped inside, just a little, but the contact was enough to make me burn, our intimacy descending into something far more primal, but we held it at bay.
I felt his fingers tighten around the cloth, and I glared at him censoriously, despite my growing need for him. "Oh no, no, no you don't!" I hissed. "You're not destroying this gown."
"But you so enjoy it when I do so, mia bella," he growled, brushing his lips against mine. I was so distracted by his scent and the warmth of his body reaching for me, that I was barely aware of the sound of ripping fabric. "And this dress," he continued, with another rip! "Was made to be destroyed. It is a sin to cover such beauty from me, amore mio."
I grabbed hold of his shirt, and did some ripping of my own, smiling innocently when he glared down at me, my dress and his shirt now beyond repair. "Eye for an eye, darling," I muttered, reaching up to finally bring his lips back to mine. Desperation fuelled me as a phantom heartbeat raced inside of me, as Aro quietly groaned against my lips, before I felt him lift me against him and his hips rocked into mine. I gasped, and then fell back onto the softness of the chaise, Aro following me down immediately.
"Didyme is going to kill you," I breathed, as there came more sounds of tearing silk and lace, and I felt the cool air against my thighs. Aro chuckled against my neck, as I arched and writhed beneath him.
"I am terrified, amore mio," he muttered.
"You should be," I panted, reaching up and kissing him, my tongue searching inside his mouth, until he acquiesced and kissed me ravenously, until I moaned and arched beneath him, meeting his lustful eyes with my own.
"Enough talk of my sister," he breathed seductively, kissing the palm of my hand, nestled against his cheek, before nipping at the skin of my wrist, one of the places where he had bitten me five years before. "If I am already lost, then I will make sure to enjoy this to the full."
My laugh was smothered by his lips, as our clothes became tattered piles of fabric on the floor, pooling over the flagstones, as our bodies came together in that familiar, fiery dance that I would never grow tired of, not with him.
Eternity could not get better than this.
Vampire stamina was a wonderful thing. I never felt tired, and Aro sure has hell didn't.
It was probably a good thing the solarium was deep within the citadel, away from the hearing of even the keenest vampire.
Eventually we paused, and I just luxuriated in the feel of Aro's arms holding me so tightly that I doubted any of my ribs would have survived had I been human. As a near indestructible vampire, however…it just felt good.
I dimly heard the familiar sound of Caius calling for Aro, and I groaned.
"Has he ever heard of a day off?" I muttered, rebelliously as Aro chuckled against my hair.
"I believe not, amore mio," he sighed ruefully. My relationship with Caius, unlike Athenodora, Marcus and Didyme, was not smooth, to say the least. We appeared civil and co-operative to any visitors, but in private we just about tolerated one another. I suspected Caius resented my gifts and the power they gave Aro, making it near impossible for him to supplant my husband. I was never entirely sure why Aro kept him around, since he wasn't exactly shy of doing whatever was necessary when a threat to the coven emerged.
"I had better go and see what he wants. It would not do for him to stumble across us thus," Aro continued, pressing a kiss to my shoulder before standing and dressing. I lay back on the chaise and enjoyed the view of my husband.
"He might actually learn something. Or be scarred for all eternity…." I trailed off, grinning. "Either way Dora would probably thank us. Stay."
"As tempting as you are, amore mio, he grinned, returning to the chaise to loom over me, his lips brushing mine. "I would rather no one saw what is only mine to enjoy."
I rolled my eyes. "Possessive, aren't we?" I murmured, before his lips pressed against mine, dissipating anything else in my head that I had thought about saying. His tongue stroked mine, so deliciously wicked and teasing, that I was already reaching up to pull him back down with me, when he pulled back with a dark smile.
"You cannot deny it, my Isabella. Dress and meet me in the meeting hall; you know how much Caius hates it when you come," he murmured, before stepping back and walking from the room. I smirked, and swung my legs off the bed, already contemplating how I might drive Caius's nonexistent blood pressure up, just for some fun revenge for interrupting my time with Aro.
My dress was not salvageable. I sighed.
For a man who never wanted anyone else to see me naked, he did love tearing my clothes up. Mind you, I loved doing the same to him so I couldn't talk.
With a shrug, I gathered up what I could and ran back to our rooms, thankful that I met no one along the way. Felix, Demetri and Alec already had enough ammunition to tease me until the end of the Universe. If they saw me running through the citadel with barely a stitch of clothing…well, I doubted even Jane's power would be enough to stop them laughing.
As soon as I made it inside our rooms, the long cavernous chamber panelled in mahogany and lit by candlelight, making it both dark and warm at once, I bolted the door and glided to the large walk-in closet I had been forced to fill when I first arrived and awoke from my change.
I slipped into a pair of dark grey leggings and knee-high boots, before grabbing a blouse, when a sound I hadn't heard in six months echoed through the room.
My cell phone.
When I first came to Italy, Aro and I had agreed that I would keep in touch with Charlie and Renee, but only distantly. Bit by bit, I had reduced how often I spoke with them. One year ago, I had last spoken to my father to make excuses for why I couldn't come to his wedding to Sue Clearwater. Old Harry Clearwater had died of a heart attack shortly after I left Forks, and Sue and my Dad eventually hooked up two years after Harry's death.
My relationship with my parents was strained, and the only dark part of my life. I hated hurting them, disappointing them, but it had to be. They could never know what I had become, and they could never meet Aro. While Renee had never met him, or seen him, Charlie had encountered Aro once or twice when he was masquerading as the temporary replacement Biology teacher at Forks High.
At least they were happy. Mom and Phil were settled in Florida, where Phil taught minor league baseball and Mom had set up a small design business. She sent me a quilt made up of different t-shirts from various baseball games we had gone to when I was younger, as her first design, and while I couldn't do more than email her to tell her how much I loved it and how proud I was of her, I always got it out of my closet at least once a day to look at it and remember my human life with her, to make sure it stayed fresh in my memory.
I felt its soft, yielding surface under my fingers now as I moved towards the box where I kept it, along with a few mementoes of my human life. And my cell phone.
As I touched the smooth, sleek dark casing, I closed my eyes and fought for strength. It became harder with every conversation, every disappointed goodbye.
"Bella? Bella dear?" Didyme's familiar bell-like voice punctured my miasma of pain and reluctance, and I turned with my cell in hand, to find the slender, dark-haired vampire watching me sympathetically from the door of my closet. "Bella, I heard the phone. I just came to see if you were well."
"Not really, Didyme," I breathed, trying to smile a little but I sensed it came out a grimace. With a deep, but unnecessary, breath I flipped it open and held it to my ear. I didn't recognise the number. "Hello?"
"Hello, my name is Dr. Grant from Forks General Hospital. May I speak to Isabella Swan?" a husky, masculine voice came over the line, and something in me seized.
"This is Isabella. What's happened? Is it my Dad?" I asked, heart in my mouth. Didyme rushed to my side, one hand on my shoulder, sensing my fear and distress.
"Mr Swan and his wife were involved in a car crash a few hours ago. Mrs Swan died nearly instantly," the doctor began, and I felt myself begin to shake. One word echoed in my head, over and over again, as dread filled my every cell. No.
"-We did everything we could for Mr Swan, but his injuries were too severe. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. We have contacted Mrs Swan's relatives and children, but you are Mr Swan's only listed emergency contact other than his wife. Please accept my condolences, and those of the entire hospital, Miss Swan. We all knew Mr Swan, Charlie, well and he will be missed…" the doctor finished, and the cell phone slipped from my hand, slamming into the stone floor. I felt a breeze and dimly sensed that Didyme had left the room.
I didn't care. I could barely breathe, or think, or see, or hear anything beyond the doctor's words. Charlie was dead. My father was dead.
A/N: I hope I haven't lost my touch. Writing Aro/Bella is much harder than it used to be :/