"Of course we end up cooking for the human," Rosalie said, slicing the carrots quickly and precisely for the salad she was preparing, "We don't even-"
The loud thud of the knife on the wooden chopping board interrupted her next word before she continued, "eat!"
"Rosalie, we are going to have to discuss your attitude to this evening's guests if you keep jibing at them like this - I will not have more smashed crockery just because you don't agree with introducing a new friend to the family," Carlisle said, taking the knife from her, and continuing to prepare the vegetables by himself.
"Why can't I? I could smash it all and it wouldn't matter because we don't use it," she pointed out picking up a wine and dropping it purposefully before catching it a gain.
"Hey! That's very expensive hand-blown glass," he said, taking it out of her hand and placing it down on the ornately decorated table.
"Oh yeah, cause it's not like we're made of money after 400 years of investment, is it?" she said, rolling her eyes as she went back to harshly chopping up the salad vegetables, "For a centuries old vampire, you really are a hoarder, aren't you?"
"Just because we have money, doesn't mean we have to waste it," he said, his fatherly tone making his cold heart warm.
"Tell that to your super cars," Esme said, pursing her lips at her hypocritical husband as she laid the table.
"I can't believe you let Edward go out with his blood bank but we have stay here," Jasper said, coming into the kitchen, "Wouldn't it have been better if he stayed, so he would've have found out if she's human for us?"
"I'm sure I was just being silly," Esme said, "If she's got family in Forks we'd already know if there were other supernatural beings."
"Who did she say she was related to?" Carlisle asked, furrowing his brow as he tried to remember.
"She never mentioned it, it don't think. Just that she was living with her uncle," she said, thinking back, "I don't even think we got her last name, did we?"
"Yes, but we didn't give ours either," he reminded her.
"At least we won't be the scarily perfect family that dates their siblings like at school," Emmett laughed, before groaning, "We have to fake eat, don't we?"
"Well it would be quite suspicious if none of us ate after inviting her to dinner," Esme said, raising her eyebrows and smiling as he whinged, "This dinner is going to be perfect!"
"She's here," Alice said, revelling in the sight of her parents nervous for the first time in what felt like forever.
"Have you had a vision?" Jasper whispered.
"No, I can hear her talking to herself," she giggled.
Esme rolled her eyes at the amusement of her peppy daughter, "That's probably her son, Teddy, she's talking to."
"She has a son?"
Rosalie's question was never answered when Esme clapped her hands and beamed at her husband as the hushed whisper they'd heard on the doorstep stopped and she rang the doorbell.
"That must be her," Carlisle said, starting to get up to answer the door.
"I'll go and let her in, sweetheart," she said, looking over at her vampire children, "You better be on your best behaviour."
They waited as she left the room. None of them could smell the girl and the boy she was carrying yet, but Jasper was especially worrying especially about controlling himself, no matter what his mother had said about her blood not being enticing.
Once the door was open, the vampires were assaulted with the exact smell Esme had described before: fresh and calming, as though someone had cracked open a window to let in the summer breeze.
"Hi Hermione!" she said sweetly, ushering her in, smiling as she saw she trying to juggle a large ruffled pie tin and Teddy in her arms together, "Oh here, let me take that for you."
"Thank you, it's so nice to see you again," she said, breathing out as the weight was lifted and taking Teddy into both arms, "It's just a little something for you - my mother's bakewell tart recipe."
"You didn't have to do that!"
"Well it was so kind of you too invite me; I just wanted to do something in return to say thank you," Hermione said, smiling as her little boy snuggled into her chest whilst she spoke to him, "Teddy's happy to see you too, aren't you little man?"
They both laughed when he looked shyly at Esme before returning to his hiding place, "Don't you want to speak to Esme sweetheart?"
He buried his head further down into her and she frowned, "That's odd, he's not usually this quiet."
"Oh, I'm sure he's just a little shy," she said, waving it off and looking back to Hermione, "We're all just so glad that you could make it."
"Oh Merlin yes! I'm so sorry about last night, but I had some urgent business to attend to, you see," she said, guilt lacing her voice, "I would have called earlier to tell you, but it was quite sudden and-"
"It's fine," Esme said placatingly, "I'm just glad that you're here now - we finally get to meet you and your gorgeous son properly!"
"You're right, no use crying over spilt potions," she grinned, propping up Teddy and not seeing the odd look she was getting from her host.
"Well, er, we best not stand here all day. Come through, I'll introduce you to the rest of the family," she said, leading Hermione through to the kitchen, where the four vampires who'd never met her were waiting impatiently.
They all looked to the door when they heard their mother say she was bringing her in.
"Everyone, this is Hermione Granger," Esme said, moving to stand by her. Hermione blinked as she saw not just Esme's husband, but four people she'd never met before.
The four adopted children saw the woman and her child and immediately started assessing her.
Her little boy, who had burrowed his head into her chest, was dressed cutely in a slightly crumpled shirt and jeans, the creases probably from being carried. Hermione, on the other hand, was wearing a pretty peach dress that complemented her figure, but with a look her clashing red bracelet, both Rosalie and Alice looked to each other, noting simultaneously that she probably wasn't as interested in fashion as they were.
Jasper sighed in relief as he realised his mother was right - her blood was appealing, but he didn't feel the urge to drink it like he did with other humans. Glad about this revelation, he tilted his head to admire the girl the enchanted blood belonged to. Though he knew that she was no threat to Rosalie or Esme, Hermione was certainly captivating in her own right with a wild mane of curls and sparkling hazel eyes. He could feel that she was a bundle of nerves and curiosity all mixed into one, not just using his powers, but from her slightly flushed face and eyes, which were flitting around the room as she tried to take everything in. Her son, however, was clutching onto her for dear life and was quite scared about the whole affair, though he could sense he felt quite threatened as well.
'Most probably due to all these huge vampires in the room,' he thought wryly.
"It's lovely to meet you all," she said, giving them a wave before whispering to Teddy, "Say hello."
He took his head from under Hermione's chin and mumbled a quick, "'lo."
"He's feeling a bit nervous about meeting all of these new people, aren't you?" she teased, rubbing him on the back, "What's wrong?"
The Cullens politely stayed silent, though it took all their control too, as he whispered to her, "Smell too sweet."
"Too sweet? What're you talking about darling?"
"Sicky sweet an' look mirror-ey" he harrumphed loudly, "Don't like dem!"
All of the family looked up at this, staring at the boy in a new light as he explained that he didn't like them because they smelt too sweet and they seemed reflective. They'd only experienced that one other time - and that was with Bella's filthy mutts.
Rosalie wasn't fooled by this girl's sweet and gracious exterior: she was definitely not human, and neither was Teddy. She smelt delicious, but none of them could even imagine drinking from her, and her son's blood was insignificant. She used odd words and phrases, not like the other humans they'd encountered, and it seemed that her son had the same senses as the dogs. There was something up here, and she knew it.
"That's not very nice Teddy," she scolded him, looking apologetically at the family, whose minds were racing, "We don't say nasty things about other people, do we?"
"No," he grumbled, pushing out his bottom lip stubbornly.
"And why not?"
"'Cause I wou'nt like it."
"No you wouldn't," she raised her eyebrows, before suddenly attacking his tummy with tickles, "Can you be good?"
He nodded his head fiercely and started to fidget, "I can!"
"Alright, alright," she giggled, turning to the Cullens, who were waiting patiently, though they seemed a little agitated, "I'm so sorry, but grumplestiltskin over here is just a bit nervous."
"It's lovely to see you again Miss Granger," Carlisle hesitated, unsure whether her little boy was okay with them now.
"You too Mr… oh, I actually never got your name, did I?" she realised, wondering how she'd gotten through a whole conversation without finding that out, "Merlin, how odd!"
'Merlin? Potions?' Carlisle puzzled, curious about her odd terminology, 'I wonder if that's some type of slang.'
"Yes, it is," he chuckled, holding out his hand for her to shake, "Well, I'm Carlisle Cullen, you know Esme, and these are four of our five children - my youngest is out with his girlfriend tonight."
'Cullen, where've I heard that before?' she wondered, before shrugging it off.
"You guys didn't tell us she was English!" Alice exclaimed, beaming over to the girl, "Hi, I'm Alice! You're accent is adorable. "
"Jasper," he said, accentuating his southern accent and wrapping his arm around Alice's waist, "You look lovely tonight."
"Oh, thank you," she blushed, looking down.
"I'm Emmett," he said excitedly, if not a little too loud, "And this is my girlfriend Rosalie."
Hermione went to speak again, but before she could say anything, he interrupted, "And before you say anything, it's not weird or perverted or wrong because we're foster children, not related."
"Sorry, Emmett gets quite defensive about our relationship," his girlfriend smirked, "I'm not a Cullen, I'm a Hale along with my brother Jasper."
"No problem, I wasn't going to mention it," she said, feeling awkward that she seemed to have upset Emmett, "I was just going to introduce you all to my son, Teddy."
"He's gorgeous," Rosalie said graciously. Emmett squeezed her hand in support as she admired the girl's son, checking her quickly before returning to his genial demeanour.
"Yes, you look like a natural mother," Esme added, joining her children and husband to sit at the table whilst Hermione settled Teddy into a chair.
"I try my best," she shrugged, sighing, "I just feel so bad about moving him away from the family he's grown up with, but after…"
"After what, dear?" Carlisle asked kindly, noting the pause in her explanation.
"Oh, never mind," she dismissed, and Jasper tried to ignore the wave of pain and sadness that rolled off her as she thought, "But we had a family tragedy and we moved to America to be with my uncle Charlie, my mother's brother. I just felt like he, and perhaps I too, needed someone who could help us cope."
"When you say Charlie, do you mean Charlie Swan, chief of Forks police?" Esme asked, her eyes wide.
"Yes, that's him," she nodded, thanking Jasper as he poured her some water, "I guess you really were right when you said everyone knew each other around here."
"Well our family have a more personal connection with Chief Swan," Alice said expectantly, waiting for her to catch on.
"Oh, how so?"
"Well, er, it's not us that know him well, but our fifth son, Edward," Carlisle said, "He's dating Charlie's daughter, Bella."
"Isabella?" Hermione exclaimed, "My cousin Isabella?"
"Yep," Emmett said, "Did Charlie not say anything about it?"
"Well I haven't really seen my cousin, apart from once. Though he did mention something about a boy, I think," she said awkwardly.
"I would've thought he'd have told you. Oh well!" Alice said happily, "So what is it you do, Hermione? Or do you not work with Teddy to look after?"
"Well at the moment I'm looking for a place to set up a shop-"
"Oh, I know the perfect spot," she squealed, starting the natural flow of dinner party conversation.
"Mi'nee, food please," Teddy moaned after a few minutes, tugging at her dress.
"One second darling," she waved.
Alice said silently to Jasper, "Watch the boy - I can't believe I've even seen this…"
Unknown to Hermione, who was chatting to Carlisle about the rise in prices over the last few years, Teddy had spotted the lasagna on the counter of the kitchen. And with his basic knowledge of the accidental magic he'd done before - that if you wished for something, it would most likely happen - was willing it to come to him with all his might; managing a very weak levitation charm in the process.
"I know, and really, there's no real way to-"
Carlisle's point was cut off as a loud crash echoed through the room and all eyes turned to the pile of broken glass and a ruined meal.
"I knew I saw it!" Alice shouted, jumping up, "Teddy did that!"
"What? No of course he didn't, he couldn't have," Hermione defended, "And what do you mean, you saw it?"
"She's lying," Jasper said calmly, trying to send those feelings to the rest of his family, "She feels guilty."
"What the hell are you?" Rosalie roared standing up, dragging Emmett up with her, "I knew she was trouble - humans are always trouble!"
"Well I would say vampires are trouble as well, wouldn't you?" Hermione barked back, taking out her wand much to the confusion of the Cullen children, "I was going to be civil, but-"
"How do you know we're vampires?"
"I've met many vampires before, I just didn't know you could have amber eyes."
"And you plan to attack vampires with a stick? Are you mental!"
"No Emmett, she's a witch," Carlisle said evenly, holding his hand out to both Hermione and Rosalie to stop any fighting, "That's her wand, and trust me it's a lot more powerful than anything we could ever do."
"Please, you're scaring my son," she said, looking nervously to Teddy who was looking up at them with wide eyes, "I am a witch; I've got my magical licence - I can show you."
"That's fine Hermione, I know about witches," Carlisle nodded, motioning for her to put down her wand, "I just haven't seen one in quite a while. Though I think that's a good idea, it might put my children's minds at ease."
She took out her beaded bag and went to collect the documents. Immediately, the smell of fresh human blood assaulted their noses and Jasper's eyes narrowed as he couldn't find a source to drain dry.
"Why is there blood in your bag?" Rosalie asked harshly, watching her brother, "You knew we're vampires and you brought blood?"
"What do you mean? Can you smell blood?"
"It's fresh - you only get that from fresh kill," he growled lowly, stepping closer to her.
Hermione thought about what it could be, before she remembered, "It's just - wait a sec," she rummaged around for it, before giving up and using accio to find it, "Now if I remember correctly, Professor Slughorn said these were Sanguini's favourites and hopefully this might calm you down."
"What are you talking about?" Emmett asked confusedly, cocking his head to the side with the rest of his family as they watched her pull out several weird shaped packets from the bag, sealed in clear plastic wrapping with a large 'H' on the side, "What are those?"
"Blood-pops," she said simply, pulling the packaging off one quickly to reveal a bright red lollypop.
"They smell just like human blood," Jasper whispered, moving closer again subconsciously, "What is that?"
"Oh, just a little bit of magic," Hermione winked, calming down now that she wasn't under any threat. She offered the sweet in her hand to the entranced man, "Try it."
"Wait! When we taste… human blood, a sort of frenzy begins in our bodies, it's impossible to stop," Carlisle said worriedly, "If he eats that-"
"I know, just wait," Hermione frowned, holding out her finger.
Jasper put it tentatively into his mouth, letting the taste settle before his amber eyes widened and he started to lick at the lolly quickly, stopping only to say, "It tastes like blood and it's warm too, I can feel it pulsing under the hard coating… it's exactly the same as veins! But I don't feel-" he licked again, thinking about how to explain himself, "I don't feel like I need more, it's just nice."
Carlisle wasn't so convinced, "This isn't actual blood, is it? We're vegetarians; that's why we've got amber eyes."
"Vegetarians, hey?" Hermione giggled, looking at Jasper, who was licking quickly, with a raised eyebrow.
"He's the newest addition to our coven," Rosalie explained automatically, before her face turned sour as she scowled at the visitors, "And if you've just given him human blood, you've ruined the fifty years of work Jazz has put in to control himself by doing that, and considering the only other source is flowing through your veins, witch-warped or not, you've made a really stupid mistake, missy."
"It's not real blood, I promise Rosalie," Hermione said seriously, holding out one for her to try, "The reason the lollypop is warm and seems like it has a pulse is because it's charmed. But the taste - well Sanguini said that's all due to life fruit."
"Life fruit? I've never heard of it?" Carlisle said.
"Well, you wouldn't have heard of it, it's magical," she explained, putting on a scholarly tone much to the amusement of Teddy, "To make the life-blood juice, which is what's in those sweets, the herbologist who is growing them must soak the seeds in a small amount of blood before they're planted - that way the juice that comes from the berries the plant produces mimic the humans blood it was cultured in."
"That sounds… complicated," Emmett said, taking one from the pile she'd left on the table, "Wouldn't it make us crave real blood though?"
"No, the sugary coating is laced with epione extract, and apparently that soothes the effects of addiction," she laughed, thinking back to the eccentric vampire she'd spoken to at the Slug club, "Sanguini was quite chatty about the whole subject."
"You keep mentioning this Sanguini? Who is he?" Esme asked, "Is he a magician like you?"
Hermione winced a little at the demeaning name and protested, "He's a wizard and I'm a witch; neither of us are magicians, thank you. They are ridiculous halfwit imitations - anyone can pull a stupid rabbit out of a hat but proper magical I can transfigure a shoe into a bunny and it wouldn't be stuffed too."
"Okay, someone's got issues with magicians," Jasper said, raising his eyebrows at her glare.
"You try being asked hundreds of times to cut someone in half by your Grandma, then see if you love magicians too," she folded her arms, her mind heading completely off topic thinking back to the christmas party, "I don't automatically assume that you burn in sunlight, do I?"
"Back to your vampire friend," Emmett said anxiously.
"He wasn't a friend exactly," she said, thinking about how to explain it, "We met at a christmas party at my school."
"Why did you have vampires in school?" Emmett said loudly, his expression turning to confusion for about the fifth time in the conversation, "Isn't that, like, seriously dangerous?"
Hermione frowned, "He didn't go to my school, although that's not very nice to say, especially about your own kind - Sanguini was a distinguished gentleman and you'll do well to remember that."
"Oh sorry, I was just concerned about the safety of hundreds of students," he said, rolling his eyes, "What was I thinking?"
"Do you mind if I?" Jasper didn't finish the question, but his insinuation was clear.
"Sure," she said, watching carefully as he sucked happily at his second lollypop, "They are just a snack, though. You can't use them in the place of real blood so you still have to hunt even if you eat them everyday."
"We don't eat human food," Carlisle said sceptically, "Are you sure we can eat them?"
"They don't repulse you like usual food does, do they? They're basically vampire-friendly sweets," she told him, "I mean, I can eat them and my Charlie, who's a muggle, can too but that-"
"A muggle?" Alice interrupted.
"A non-magical person," she explained shortly, a little miffed he'd cut in.
"So we're muggles to you?" Alice asked curiously.
"No, you're magical creatures," Hermione said, feeling awkward at calling people she'd just met creatures, "It doesn't mean you're wild or anything. I mean, Sanguini is still a part of society, he just had to make an unbreakable vow to never drink with the intention to kill or turn anyone - apart from his mate. However, if you don't agree to the terms they consider you a danger and you're banished from the wizarding world."
"So are we banished from the wizarding world?" Emmett said, furrowing his brows, "That sounds… ominous."
"No, that's only british vampires," Carlisle said. Hermione thanked him quietly for taking over what had been a very long question and answer session, though she was wondering what he knew about wizarding history, "The Volturi have been around since 1100 BC, which you know, and when they were formed they took control of all vampires. But when the British Wizard's Council was set up in 1200, they went against the ideas of other Wizarding Councils like in Sweden and France by taking responsibility of their country's vampires, and I'm guessing other magical creatures too - they haven't been in the Volturi's history books ever since, it's like they all disappeared."
"Well, that's because they would've done. People who are banished generally travel to seek refuge with the Volturi, like Jane, but I'm assuming that if you didn't know about our approach to vampires, if weren't banished too?"
"No, I was abandoned by an ancient vampire in the 1600's," Carlisle said, "I was found by a vampire called Alistair, who said he had to lead the banished already, and he took me to Volterra."
"It's been proven that the ministry's methods are much more effective than the Volturi's," Hermione said, "We don't let our crazy, revenge-filled vampires lose so they can go out and kill everyone like Aro does."
"You know Aro?" Rosalie frowned, narrowing her eyes, "I thought you didn't know any foreign vampires?"
"No, I said I didn't know there were any vegetarian vampires around - that's why I didn't recognise you immediately. I have been to Italy before you know," she said, crossing her arms, "And I've been on a school trip to Volterra for an essay I was writing on that coven at school."
"What school did you go to?" Emmett asked incredulously.
"It was actually quite fun," she smirked, thinking back, "I had quite a good time with this guy called Felix; he was even more handsome than the usual vampire."
"Yeah, and he's only 500 years old or so," Carlisle said, furrowing his brow at her callous attitude, "Flirting with a vampire, do you witches have no sense of self-preservation? Just how old were you when this happened?"
"I was 17," she said defensively, folding her arms, "And I know this is hard for you to understand but you're not the only big baddies in the world. I've faced much worse than a few autocratic vampires."
"They're still vampires!" Rosalie argued, "I bet you just casually hang around with werewolves too?"
"Actually, Teddy's father was a werewolf, and a very great man," she said, stroking his soft light-brown locks lightly.
"I knew he smelled off," Jasper said, "But it isn't strong like the wolves in La Push."
"Well he has werewolf heritage, but he isn't actually a werewolf himself," she said, glancing at her little man, "He still has the senses and instinct of a werewolf though."
"That's why we smelled sweet to him," Alice realised, "Teddy sees us like the wolves do, and smells us the same way too."
"Are you friendly with the pack then?" Hermione asked, looking down at Teddy and wondering if these similarities might sway Billy's decision.
"Not exactly," Emmett laughed, "I wouldn't say we're the best of buddies."
"Yeah, more like good enemies," Rosalie smirked, thinking of the mutts.
"Oh Merlin, Billy can't know I'm here then, he'll blow his top and never let me see Sam," she muttered.
"Sam Uley?" Alice asked, though Hermione didn't reply exactly.
"So Bella's dating a vampire," she said aloud, before thinking, 'And I've been imprinted on by a shape-shifter. Gurgling gargoyles... poor Charlie!'
Next time, see Charlie and Hermione in La Push - and a nice romantic moment with Sam and Hermione... xxx