UNDER THE MOON
I hadn't realised I would lose either way; I was my own worst enemy. But knowing this fact had freed me, rid me of something hard and black-and I had only discovered this fact when I looked upon my saviour.
Her petite feet move in rapid taps over the hard cold passage; I can hear the swish of her robe, the cling of her chain as it rubs on her neck but most of all, it is Jane's thoughts my preternatural dual hearing hones in on.
It will be mere seconds before she arrives at my chamber for a night out in beautiful Volterra-she is a secret romantic, my jaded exquisite Jane. She needs reintroduction, for Jane is two intensities of the vampire I had once known before I had ever thought with convicted certainty that I would be in Volterra for eternity. Jane, half of a dangerous duet-but no less dangerous when she is solo, if not more dangerous without her twin 'Alec' to keep her in check; Alec's capacity to sense her irrational emotions is what stop's her from permanently harming minds with her beautifully terrible gift. She is ancient, even in her ethereal youth but I cannot fault her for being fourteen-it is only three years from my physical age, after all. Poor Jane and Alec have the misfortune of being so correctly built to their ages and lacking in the subliminal essence of adult hood. That is to say, where I can skip ahead and claim twenty-three, the dangerous duo is stuck in their impossible youth.
This does not bother Alec so much, it plays out to his advantage due to his partiality to his tastes, but poor Jane could never get over almost being a woman. And this thing she had never tasted-in her ancient mind fuelled by a mixture of childish tantrums and pubescent sorrow-it had made her nearly the most unhinged creature I had come to know.
Nearly; for she had now found a new half and we were twined in our distress-her and I, twins at the greatest magnitude united by the insanity of containing a broken heart.
She has already imagined where I would be positioned before she opens the oak doors; I would be lounging on a round magnificent bed with my hands tucked behind my head and legs crossed languidly over each other. This vision of me would be bathed in the warm glow of a hundred littered candles and a lustrous satin tint would be rising from the rich covers of the bed and velvet cushions, illuminating this cloaked quality in me that she was convinced was seducing her. Our eyes would meet; her crimson to my blackened gold, and she would scowl at me naturally-how dare I coax such a pathetic emotion as infatuation from her 'Powerful Womanly Heart'.
Powerful Womanly Heart, oh Jane...! Her heart was neither there, nor was she any more a woman than she was a child-a heartless simple torturous ambiguity instead. Maybe in her empty chest, there was something, a passion hidden in her, and even if she did not know it-she feared it extensively. Her, her brother and most certainly Aro sensed this passion in her-and if I knew Aro as I knew him, he would have used it against her since her birth.
She opens the door and has the audacity to be startled when the room is bathed in darkness and not warm gold, shadows dancing miserably and bountiful as the small glow of the moon barely covers the perimeter of the tiny window, and it is there I stand frozen exuding melancholia of the highest quality.
"I had candles sent to you" she shuts the door slowly, grated by my continued woeful self but pleased that I had not disappeared into the Volturi's strange network of buildings that formed their empire. She swallows the little light hungrily with her eyes, preternatural night adjustment if you may; and I watch through her mind as she anxiously searches the scented butter milk candles out. They are in a corner, with a few of the silks and cashmeres, stacked indifferently on top of each other. She is hurt by this, but remains silent; grateful and irked further due to the obvious telepathic grace I give her mind. It really is a sign that my pride is not without intelligence and cleverness-I know better than to be pompous with Jane. At least, this is the only answer that she has come to on why I behave myself with her. I indulge her shirking the solitude that comes with being in 'Aro's family' and allow her to circulate around me-all because I fear her gift.
It is part of it, why I am in company with her second most to my self-not wanting to be on her bad side is about as shrewd as I could have ever managed on my second return to Volterra. The other reason I blame entirely on my telepathy and Carlisle. There was not one point in this quiet lonely hell of Volterra that I had wanted to find myself relating to her and understanding the circumstances that had caused her to be who she is now.
"I have not found use of the candles as yet" I tell her, not looking away from the giant moon. I am irritated with her for coming here tonight; I had wanted to drown in my thoughts, singing to the wind and wrapped up in my calming gloom.
"They are handmade" she tells me and then pauses to listen to the sounds of the corridor-mice, wind and pipes. We are too far off to be overheard as nothing but an inconsequential murmur. "Do you not like your room to be decorated? Alec likes you-" she pauses to scowl violently at that fact, hating how Alec is not weighed down by things like pride and insecurities with his affections "-I could ask him to decorate"
"Alec and I have different tastes" I say softly, a smile playing on my lips. This pleases her a little. "I like the way my room is"
"It is three by two, Edward" Jane breathes twirling in the middle of the room and spreading her too sweet frangipani scent "There is only a boring single bed and an old table!"
"I have no space for anything else"
"Because it is a measly three by two!" she sighs.
"What I meant was..." I say slowly "I have no need for anything else"
"Hmm" she scowls at the east wall, small hands clenched in front of her and her thoughts a swirl of anger at what she feels was an impetuous response to her steadily desperate infatuation.
"Aro has begun contemplating seeing me now" I tell her softly. She stiffens, forgetting her silent sulking and half-hearted musings on just properly forcing me into more lavish surroundings.
"Ha!" she scoffs elegantly, peering at me "It has only been what, six months...!?"
"Six months..." I say in awe, thinking of Azure-precious baby of Leah and Carlisle. I had a few thousand graphite sketches of her, a series of obsessive lamentations on how she would look like now. I had taken it upon myself to study children of that age, and if I had thought babies and toddlers the strangest creatures with their round faces, disproportioned limbs and torsos as well as ignorant lack of intelligence; I was now entirely enthralled and captivated.
Aro and I had been having a silent war, these six months-a war that had required no communication, no meeting besides his deliberate release of his thoughts and then his awaiting my reaction to his thoughts. I was partially pleased with out stalemate; he would ask me if I were comfortable and well settled-I would reply yes and shower him with praise on how generous he was. Then I would make my request, which he would meet; as a telepath, I needed my thoughts to be my own-surely he of all could understand.
There would be no problem, he would let me keep my thoughts for decades if needed, but one day-he would ask for them, and I would be too entwined with him and the Guard to ever dream of refusing him.
This would save Carlisle and his wife and child. I would have succeeded. Aro would meet with me soon, the before mentioned compromise would happen but Aro would throw his deciding factor at me-he would send Demetri to Carlisle on an unpredicted date, only because he was most caring and needed to be sure his old friend was truly 'well' and 'adjusted' to losing his son to the Volturi.
And it is from my reaction to this, which will decide my loyalty. Shunning comforts and lying languishing in my chamber only helped my cause with Aro, he could see then that I truly did not expect to see my family again and if I ever did see them, it would only mean that my fealty was severely engraved in Aro.
"He does this to prove to you how his desire for you is not of the extraordinary type" she says standing by my side and leaning forward on the toes of her flat pumps to get a view of the outside world "You wait six months so that you know you are nothing less than an executed business. A well executed one at that"
"He wants to break me, Jane. And you and I know that is the reason for my wait" I tell her but I don't mention the part about how Aro used to know me-how Aro had once pinpointed exactly what I was under this hard skin.
The old me would have been driven insane by such callous treatment, the old me wouldn't have put up with having his beauty and talents neglected in the down town parts of the Volturi's complex tunnels and buildings. The old me... the young me... the subliminally sinful me...
"Why are you smiling?" Jane asks softly, her little fingers touching the sill. She is still on her tiptoes, like a ballerina-a ballerina that will never tire of that awkward posture. She isn't really concerned like she used to be by my sudden laughter, or melancholy or frowning. She puts it down to being a telepath; so involved in the thoughts of others that my own thoughts always catch me unawares.
"I used to be so evil, before I came here" I tell her, still smiling. "I used to be so unintentionally bad, Jane. The inadvertently worst"
"I am to believe that coming here, where every yearning and fancy is immediately attended to..." she says slowly, smiling through her pout and raising an eyebrow "Has made you good?"
"You talk of such things as though the Higher Guard is permitted to participate in them-yearnings and fancy! Ha!" I laugh "Not you, not your brother... and not even Felix can be seen in such a disgraceful uncivilised manner. You are all required to hold yourselves with the 'utmost chary respect', to reflect your masters"
"You and I both know we have ways to go around that!" Jane stated in her odd ridged tinkle "Alec gets his lovers, Felix... well; you would know what he gets up to better than I and everyone else has their needs met!"
"Then it leaves you and I, Jane" I whispered and she stiffens when a thrill spreads over her at the exclusivity I set out for us. "The last truly gracious and sacred High Guard"
"As lovely as your ambition is..." she laughs "You have not been sworn in yet and maybe Aro delays because he thinks telepathy is not as free a ticket into the High Guard as originally anticipated be some?"
"Or maybe he wishes to make the telepath the leader of the High Guard, as originally feared by some?"
A pause, I swallow as her thoughts play out-the wind is moving with quick velocity outside, not violent and aggravated, just excited; casting smells and sounds about. I groan low, a hiss-I am on my toes just like she stands by the window, my body filling with boiling water. It is a pain that hurts as all of them are, but she is kind these days. It doesn't kill me and reawaken me like they used to, her little glares. She releases me and I lean heavily on the sill by her, breathing unnecessary breathes with quick harried force.
"I apologise!" I rasp, groaning low "I meant no threat!"
"Apology accepted" she says with difficulty. "Maybe you can take a walk with me and tell me of your youth-those few moments you remember, maybe a time when you were... about my age?"
"I barely remember..." I start, about to decline being out with her when the night was so dark and empty-that fear of her back now, tenth fold. I was never truly allowed freedom to explore the city; I had only been out at night once before and I was permitted to watch the bustling humans in the park from the east tower, three hours away from my current chamber. It was all a difficult trek, moving through secret passages with their guards and needing Jane's sympathies for this...
I want to decline but she tenses, now that she has used her gift-she has no qualms on doing it again.
"I barely remember, but I am sure it will come to me as we walk" I tell her quickly and she sighs heavily, casting me a dejected look (that still manages to be threatening) before stepping quickly to the door-and after a brisk jog to the window, she springs into the night.
I move away, and watch as she flies through the window and into the calm night and when I look down-she is standing impatiently seven stories below. I reach her with little effort and she glowers at my refined landing. I am impetuous, she shouts in her mind. I am arrogant, she rages. I am too beautiful and lovely, she sighs.
"Let's go through the city first" she states, already moving up the cobbled roads. "Tell me what a young man would get up to in the city, in your time"
I remember being extremely competitive. Jane is not surprised by this fact; it is part of my arrogance she decides-a catalyst she thinks. Competitiveness led the way to my evil apparently, but assumptions are for the arrogant-and she is very arrogant I realise as I prattle on with half lies and inconsequential substance of my human past. This study she has made of me, grates me intensely because the me she knows and understands-that they all do, including Aro and subsequently Carlisle and the family I have now lost-that old me has long been thrown to the past. Whoever said a vampire's personality was an intensified version of his human self and could not be altered to anything other than what it was set into in our resilient coating, whoever said this had not understood the ways of love and the things that branch off from love.
Carlisle had been changed by Leah; I had seen this, everyone had seen this. He was no longer unsure of the emotions he used to classify as negative but he now allowed them to run their course, be it anger and rage, lust and selfishness. Rosalie... not a lot of change in meeting Emmett, but I suppose it was there... somewhere... buried deep or shallow enough. Love, it changes us. Or maybe with vampires it only merges with who we already were... intensifies our old human selves in a good way, past what the venom could achieve.
But what I had gone through when I met Azure's eyes was too concentrated, too copious and precious to ever be labelled and analysed with the conclusion coming to fall on love. Love was but a feeble emotion, a ghost in the face of what I felt.This had to be more, and maybe that is where the old me surfaced-had I become narcissistic about my Azure? Goodness, she had to be the apex of everything! The answer to all questions and the inspiration behind all philosophies; she was water, and were we not fish? Was she not the being that was born to wash away the sins I had committed against my father, against Carlisle? I had been so sure I would be filled with either hate or indifference towards her and instead I felt something that was not the third -not love-but a fourth and exclusive emotion greater than all.
"I wasn't really interested in girls in my human days" I tell Jane "I was interested in glory, fame and honour"
"You are seventeen" she states more to herself than affirming with me "So back then, at seventeen... in the early breath of the nineteen's, you had no sweet heart? It was a beautiful time I think-I have seen the books and researched"
She has researched the era after her attention for me had trebled. This makes me uneasy-not only the knowledge that Jane has two extremes; intense dislike and obsession, but the fact that she did not participate in life or take much joy in her immortality like most vampires do at some level. While Alec snuck out of the Guard and flirted his way to fun times, she stayed behind... brewing hatred and bitterness. Seeking only the attentions of Aro, being manipulated by this need to be needed and now, here she stands before me.
Pretty perking womanthing behind such a scene as the moon dipping over the high shops-in her red cloak with the sleek black dress beneath it and black sparkling flat pumps. There were not nearly enough Azure's to fix such damned creatures as Jane and I.
"About your sweetheart..." she sighed, breaking from her memory of viewing the nineteen century from behind a window or through narrowed eyes-wishing everything would burn, but this hate she felt was not only for my time, to be fair. She hated all the times, not a single one of it was to her liking. Ostentatious and elegance or was it simple and quaint, she hated them all!
Narrowed waists and bosoms flowing freely, hair long and waved or held in pins-chivalry or ogres; it didn't matter to her if it was the French renaissance or the Beatles stirring hearts; it had only highlighted that she was underage for all of time.
"I didn't have a sweetheart" I tell her.
"Come now, you had to have had one" she insists. "A girl...? Tell me it wasn't a boy!? Most vampires with a preference for boys in their humanity are more drawn to that in their vampirism!"
"What consequence does that have to you what I am more partial to...?" I ask her daringly. She growls low and I feign bravery and ignore it.
"Nothing, it just would have been such a boring mystery to uncover to that conclusion!" she lies casually-if I had no telepathy, I would have never known. I am aware she is getting exceptionally good at hiding her thoughts, but this will only be a problem later on-and later on, it may not matter so much. Only I know that I am not going anywhere. That this is it, for all of eternity and I can only hope that the vampire world stays as singularly isolated and well behaved as it has been for the past century-I had no feeling for violence of current, in my little bliss ball of Azure.
"I had no preference for boys back then" I sigh, closing my eyes and letting her lead me through the dark high town streets of fashion-I immediately miss Alice and I am grateful Jane last thought of clothing and refinements along these lines, a few decades ago. It would be hard for her to re-establish herself into the current times as present, and it was endearing that she was even attempting it.
"But you were of a sexual age?" she asks softly.
"And are you so certain you are were not?" I laugh at her veneration with the turn in topic, when she had been through a few things with Aro and yet was bashful of her interests. I hated how drenched in Carlisle and drowned in Azure I had become. It had now caused me to reach a point were I understood that neither her nor Alec had fully grasped what they were brought into when being 'treasured' by Aro. She can not claim she had been virtuous before she had joined the Volturi, because her turn to sin of this nature had been of the natural kind. Guaranteed her physical exposure had come within the confinements of vampirism but she had been exposed in private; coy thoughts of a prepubescent human girl mingled with confused feelings and self exploration, were these not enough to lead the path?
"Yes, but I was a girl and that isn't the point!" she snaps, eyes flashing.
"Are you saying you aren't a girl now?" I tease her and her anger softens-it was always a fifty-fifty chance with Jane, on how she would take humour. Her temper had become better with time, but it was still gratingly because of her increasing obsession with me. And I had no other choice than to play to it, because until I met with Aro-it was under her protection that I was not harassed. A harassed vampire is a limbless vampire...
"Would you not answer me, Edward?" she asked exasperated "Why do you do this, play games constantly!"
"You should try it" I tell her "Play games, not be so serious all the time"
"Games get you in trouble"
"Games will teach you fun!" I tell her, but I indulge her in the end; calling upon the blurring image of some golden haired beauty that I always feared looked like Rosalie and may have fuelled my bitter sweet relationship with Rose "Well, I may have been infatuated with a girl once, I think I may have been seventeen or sixteen actually. I am not sure how much I liked her and I fear it was a shallow variety of infatuation-her aesthetics would compliment mine, that sort of thing. I am more or less certain she was involved in my reasons to go to war; to please her and my father. Kill two birds with one stone"
"You sound much the same as you are now" Jane states humoured.
"Hmm, interestingly... I have never told anyone about her or that fact" I murmur "I wouldn't have. No, I don't think I would have wanted it getting back to a certain vampires ears"
"Were you intimate with her" Jane asks carefully, ignoring my musings and charging ahead to her real curiosity.
"No" I tell her stonily. "Not with her, not with any other girl"
"Even your Isabella?" she asks.
"I would have killed Isabella if I were such a barbaric creature so full of hormones and lust, you know that" I say in the same coldness. She ignores it and presses.
"Aro suggested to Caius once that you were madly in love with Carlisle, such an unrequited sad but powerful love"
"Sometimes, it is as if Aro knows every thought a person has ever had" I say airily and watch her from the corner of my eye, as she struggles fighting of a smile and a frown at the same time. Strangest creature...
"Is it to say he saw true in your every thought?" she asks me. We are by the little bridge, built by humans and designed by Marcus's late wife. It is elegant and simple; the river pushing below it is wide enough for boats but not big enough to be grand and majestic, only sweet and lovely. She skips over it, and like always-I compare the movements of a human blood drinker to that of a truly civilised vampire. Jane is a cat in almost every preternatural grace, she does not try to pretend or fidget. The only reality in Jane's cat-like grace is that most beings would think her a house cat (deceptive little thing she was, but really she was as elusive as a leopard and just as ruthless).
"It is to say, he made my every thought turn true to his prediction" I corrected her "He planted the seed, and it grew wild and dangerous"
"Then it is Carlisle that holds your heart for all time!" she exclaims with joy-better him than Aro. She couldn't bear how she so obviously may never have me, but what really would hurt her and would be intolerable was to lose Aro -and if the two became entwined (Aro and I), she would rapture but not die. She was too precious for Death, Aro had long warned her and I feared he would warn me too. We would be twins, since Alec was not cohesive to our pain-and united in this fact; precious tormented jewels of Volterra.
I watch her standing by the little island over the lake, with its single tree and the moon behind it. Once again, she is in a picture painted by a gifted artist. Little deceiving angel. I skip over to her, and she watches me with just as much curiosity; I laugh when she thinks I am like a cat too. Easy description for all vampires, we were all some form of cat or other and I may have been cheap with her when I study her. I am always cheap with Jane, but better I give something than nothing. Indifference would be too much a price to pay, in the end.
"No one holds your heart?" she asks softly, watching me in confusion as I sit by the base of the ancient tree. I don't need to sit, but I do-and this is her confusion. Just like I didn't need the single bed, but I had it. I was more human than I should be, she feared-and if not for her, I would have had that humanity stripped out of me with titanium knifes and the pieces kicked to my body and reattached to something malformed.
"My sweet, but I have no heart to give to anyone!" I tell her and she pulls her expression into a pinch.
"You are too familiar with me" she states. I lean back onto my back and tuck my hands behind my head-a posture she had imagined me in an hour ago. I look at her but remain silent. Her hair is pale and blowing over her half cherubic face, her eyes are gleaming burgundy and her pale lips are quirked in confusion and irritation.
"Now, how can I not be familiar with you when we are the only two people on this here island?" I ask her. "I say, title of endearment is considered personal with you Jane but not lusty kisses...?"
That was strike two, and I am pulled viciously down by gravity and flattened on my back while a steam iron rolls over my back. She releases me almost immediately but this time I laugh exhausted, struggling through imagined pain to get up.
"I am not your sweet!" she hisses.
"You are Aro's, I know!" I breathe.
"Aro won't be kind about you putting such things into my mind, into my memory"
You put them there first, I want to tell her. But I want to return to my chamber now and gaze on my sketches in peace. Even if she told him or showed him what she imagined, he wouldn't care. And that was always the sad part about Jane's loyalty-Aro only cared to a certain point, the rest; this other love she had pushed herself to develop and imagine... it was not there. If it ever had been, it had long run its course as curious things do with Aro.
"Then I'll stop with my games" I tell her, rising up and dusting my pants "I seem to be the one getting all the trouble, while you get all the fun"
"What fun!" she snapped indignantly.
"Well, no discussion to be had!" I tell her sternly "I will stop now, Madame-and bother you no more with my musings. I am, as all the other Guards think-insane and most likely to be executed within the turn of the decade"
She stares at me in confusion, and then looks across the river from where we came from. "Do you wish to return, Edward?"
"Fine" she had already skipped across and was running through the streets.
She takes me to a larger chamber; there I can smell humans so freshly. It was only recently decorated by them, I suspect. It isn't a negotiation and she is nervous about Aro wanting to meet with me soon-she wishes to make me her unannounced pet, and Aro could put a dent in that. I am grateful and angered by Aro so suddenly, for if it wasn't the twisted involvement she had with him were he was the owner and master of her gift and body, I would be forced past her previous toying with me into being more intimate. Bites and prods under Aro's command were much more easily forgiven in exchange for this civil protection she was now offering.
Jane and her violent loyalty to Aro, even though this ultimate lover of hers has not seen her past her gift for fifty years-and her loyalty is truly all the more aggressive because it was Aro who made her, and she pledged fealty to him from the moment she opened her red eyes. It may have been different for some of the guard, but the spell was on them too. It would fall on me with time too; I could feel it working already-slowly so it could reach into the marrow of my bones. Why else was I so at peace when I should be breaking down and dying... maybe I had accepted it all so fully and irrevocably.
We would all be united to him, and maybe then-Jane's nightmare would come true and she would never have me, and Aro would be too entranced by me to care for her ever again. All of us, under the moon-under Chelsea's gift.