Hi! This is a huge break away from my usual stories, and I'm nervous about posting it. It came from the scene in BD2 where Marcus feels nothing but relief at his death.
I researched as much as possible on the Volturi background, so please forgive any inaccuracies you find.
Thanks so much to Geeky for looking over this for me. Girl makes my rockin' world go round.
Time waits for no man.
The saying was what convinced me there was no humanity left within me, that the venom had flooded and frozen my veins. No blood flowed through them, no heart to pump in my chest. There had been, once - but it felt like lifetimes ago. My heart had given up in the ways I wished I could. Time was frozen, and so was I, trapped by a body that refused to give up even though my mind had long ago. There were blissful, heavenly seconds where I would almost forget, when the hurt in my chest seemed like a scratch and not an open wound that refused to heal. But I always remembered, because there was no way to forget.
Photographic memory had never seemed more like a curse than when I remembered her face. So pure, so perfect, so sweet. A cruel twist of fate that one driven by making others happy was tied by blood to one driven by power and greed.
Her name felt like being tied to a stake, tied and bound, waiting for the flame to hit my skin. I would have welcomed the fire. I would have felt relief at anything that defeated my immorality. But no flames flickered close enough to catch me, and so I lived each day burning from the inside out. I wished for an end to eternity, and in doing so it seemed the quicksand stopping the hands of the clock from turning just got deeper.
Time had no meaning but that it meant another week, year, century without her. It seemed ironic that I didn't need to breathe to exist, for knowing I'd never feel the sweet touch of her lips against my own was sure to stop my lungs from working. My hands grew stiff and gnarled from the unnatural amount of time kept curled, but I refused to hold them straight, remembering the times her palm had slid against mine. Even the air kissing against it felt like a travesty, like a sick mockery of the comfort of touch she'd gifted me with. Instead I balled them tight and pressed them into the gold adorning the arms of my throne, vowing her touch would be the last I'd know.
I spent so long in that chair that it felt like another skeleton. I watched streams of children and adults be brought before us. I would watch them be tortured, teased and killed, and still the pain of losing my mate was stronger than anything else. I fed only when I had to, taking sustenance from those killed for me by the guard. I looked into the eyes of each I drank blood from and wondered whether they'd felt love in their lifetime. I wondered who would miss them now that they were gone, whether there'd be a heartbroken partner weeping at a graveside in their honour, and the blood sliding down my throat would sour and curdle.
The others made themselves kings, but I never wanted to rule. I wanted to live and love with my one. I wanted to spend a million years cherishing, adoring, worshipping. I wanted time. And now that I'd gotten it, I didn't want it at all, not without her. Instead I spent it with the man who'd ripped my dreams away for the sake of strengthening his own position, killing his own sister without a second thought. He had never admitted to it, but we both knew the order came from him. The first ten years after her death were a haze that not even the vampire mind could decipher. Aro had expected me to join with his plans when his sister was out of the way and my will had been stripped from me, but instead he was faced with a shell of a man who refused to do anything but stare at the stone walls surround ing him.
When he acquired Chelsea, things changed. Many thought Jane's gift to be torturous, but Chelsea's proved sadistic. I felt bonds with the man who had killed my mate and torn her from me. I fought it and she pushed harder, and each ounce of love she implanted in me was met by five of self-hatred welling in my chest. My refusal to do more than the necessary tasks required of me was my final act of defiance, the only one I could wage.
I did not fight when told of the situation with the Cullens, however.
The trip to Forks was my first time leaving the castle in centuries. The immortal child drew me, for I remembered Didyme's horror upon learning of their executions. A small spark of the light living behind her eyes burned out that day, and I traveled to America knowing that if it came to it, I would stand against Aro and Caius. Chelsea's gift was strong, but the loss of my mate, the anguish of her death, was stronger. Centuries of missing her had given me time to let my hate grow into an acidic fury, ready to wipe out anyone who stood in my path.
We arrived to find a snow-covered clearing The white was untouched, unblemished, just like Didyme had been. It was clean enough to drive out the dirt that resided within me, cleansing enough that the shackles of Chelsea's forged bonds seemed to fall away.
I had been a good man once, worthy of the love of a better woman.
It was time to rediscover that man. My chrysalis was coming to an end, and it was time for me to emerge from darkness and step back into light.
I breathed for the first time in centuries, my breastbone aching with the effort of the forgotten movement.
The crisp air tasted like a rebirth as it hit my tongue.
I swallowed as my eyes rested upon Edward.
I had seen so much of myself in him when he had begged for death and did what I wished I could have. Knowing he was alone in the world was unbearable for him, and he had only been without her mere hours. I'd wanted to call out to him, to ask him how he imagined hundreds of years alone felt, but I couldn't. I knew Aro would not let him die unless he was forced to, and I couldn't bring myself to inflict yet more pain on a man whose suffering was my own. Instead I had spoken while he kneeled before us on that marble floor, my raspy voice echoing around the circular space. I asked him whether there would be another, but the blank look of his eyes had told me all I needed to know. He was as dead inside as I was, and I felt an unexpected pang of compassion gather next to the jealousy at his freedom to seek death . I told Aro to let him die, that he was not of use to us, but he knew better. He locked red, narrowed eyes on me, and in that moment I saw that he could read all I'd tried to hide. Aro understood what it cost me to be by his side every day, how his proximity felt like being flayed.
Then I realized I had made the worst mistake of all - that in speaking up for Edward, I had dropped my own guard. I had shown Aro and Caius how bitter I was, how broken inside by Didyme's loss still.
That was when I knew I had to take the first chance I could to break free of them. The only chance, most likely, and I knew Forks was it.
So while everyone else stood stiff, I kept my eyes trained on Edward. He moved closer to his Bella, curving his hand around hers like it was a reflex he didn't have to think on. My lips twitched, a strange sensation pulling at the muscles of my cheek.
For the first time since Didyme died, I smiled.
I would never know happiness, but he would.
Even if it was the last thing I did, I would give them the chance that had been stolen from Didyme and me.
Aro's speech was predictably sensationalist , stirring up the witnesses with tales of how our kind would be discovered if we showed leniency to anyone who defied our rules. That no laws had been broken mattered not to him, especially when he was faced with the prize of the gifted vampires before him. I watched as the vampires on the other end of the clearing seethed and shook their heads, and I wondered how it was that Aro had stayed so powerful for so long. Looking around at the guard, I knew it was no more than his collection of gifted vampires that had allowed him to rule.
I also knew that the opponents across from us were just as gifted, if not more so. Jasper had given us many problems in the past, and Emmett was matched only by Felix. There were vampires completely unknown to us, but the relationships between all the vampires w ere strong. The Cullens had gathered a group prepared to fight, and I knew we wouldn't leave without death occurring. I didn't miss the way Aro turned his head slightly to assure himself he was flanked by Jane and Alec. He tilted his head to the right slightly, and I watched as black smoke began to unfurl from Alec's hand. His power was called a gift, but it brought no happiness.
The tendrils of thick smog spread across the clearing, their darkness blocking out the vivid white of the snow beneath. Wisps broke into branches that snaked their way toward the crowd, but before they could make contact, the soot-colored vapor gusted back up towards us like a tornado. With a snap of Alec's wrist, it was gone.
"How?" Aro whispered.
Even across the space between us, I saw the smirk curling Bella's lips.
"Jane!" Aro snapped, and I watched the young girl come forward. She focused on Edward where he stood at the front of the group and twisted her head to the side. I waited for the screams of agony to reach my ears, but they never came. Jane switched her gaze to Bella, then to Carlisle and on to Esme, and each time they stood stoically.
"How?" Aro said again, louder.
My eyes landed back on Bella. Her eyebrows were drawn together tight, her mouth pinched as she focused hard.
Jane continued to try to maim, but no one shifted even an inch, like they didn't even feel the attack.
"It can't be," Caius muttered, shaking his head beneath the hooded robe.
I saw it, then - the lines of protection binding each of the vampires across from of us to Bella, wrapping around her family and friends like...
"A shield," Aro breathed.
I felt a flutter of something in my chest, even though it was impossible.
For the first time in over a millenium, I felt hope.
"We will have to fight, brother," Caius said lowly, ever bloodthirsty. He stepped forward, but Aro's hand shot out to land on his chest.
"Remember our position, Caius!" he hissed.
I knew he was referring to the number of the guard who relied on their gifts in order to protect them. Staring across to the Cullens' supporters, it was clear the Volturi were outnumbered, outskilled and outdone.
"We cannot seem weak," Caius retorted.
I took my chance.
"I agree," I said as loudly as my rarely-used voice would allow. The sound was a croak, but the way the eyes of those around me widened meant I'd been heard. "If we do not punish them, it will seem as though we are in fear."
"The Volturi do not fear anyone," Aro answered. The set of his mouth and the glimmer of his red eyes told me that Aro knew what I was doing and that he was helpless to stop it in front of the crowd gathered.
"Then prove it, brother."
The word felt like a betrayal as it passed my lips, but the snarl Aro gave made it worth it.
"I will remember this," Aro spat at me, and then he gestured some of the guard forward. "Show no mercy."
The growl that came from across the clearing was so fierce it almost cracked the ground in two. I saw the Cullens and their supporters running forward and the guard beginning to do the same, the witnesses behind us growing ever more terrified.
The smack of bodies colliding was all that could be heard, and I struggled to see what was happening. Aro and Caius were surveying the action with what seemed like indifference, but I'd known them long enough to see the spark of fear that dulled their eyes from ruby to garnet.
Jane was the first to fall. Alice tore her head from her shoulders while Jasper ripped her arms from their sockets, a lit match appearing from seemingly thin air to fall across her remains. Alec stood horrified on the other side of the battlefield, his eyes roving over the fire with something close to disbelief. He stared for so long that he became little more than a sitting duck for Emmett to attack, Bella's shield a bubble that kept them all safe from anything the guard could do.
One by one, more guard members moved forward under Aro's command, all racing into the fight and on to their grizzly ends. Bonfires of bodies sent plumes of purple smoke into the air, and not even our perfect eyesight could see all the way through to the action beyond.
We smelled the wolves before we saw them.
Snapping jaws and teeth tearing flesh was the final straw that made the witnesses scatter, and soon there were only the innermost circle of the Volturi standing outside of the fight. I heard a pain-filled cry over the sounds of the struggles and turned to see Chelsea standing over the body of her mate, Afton.
"Corin!" Aro shouted, an unspoken urge for her to soothe Chelsea's devastation.
"She doesn't feel it, Aro," Corin said, the horror clear in her voice. "I can't get through."
As I looked back to Chelsea, my eyes caught sight of Edward's Bella to the side. She was fixing a narrow-eyed look on Chelsea, and suddenly I understood. She was shielding Chelsea from the manipulation that kept her with the Volturi, and there was nothing they could do.
Chelsea glanced up at the small gathering of the Volturi, back down to Afton, and then flung herself forward with a scream onto his burning body.
The knotted web of the guard had begun to unfold.
As Chelsea perished, so did the bonds she'd forged to keep the guard with Aro . Corin and Renata's manufactured need to protect Aro suddenly deserted them, and they took a step back.
"Do not move!" Caius warned, reaching for them, but seconds later he was flat on his back.
Renata stood over him, her eyes wide but unrepentant.
"You would turn on me, Renata?" Aro asked, genuine shock clear in his voice.
Red eyes burning more fiercely than any of the bodies surrounding them were his only answer.
As I flickered my eyes between the men and their most trusted guards, I caught sight of Athenodora and Sulpicia, Aro and Caius' wives, turning away. They had been made content by Corin, who had been bonded to Aro by Chelsea, who in turn had been made to believe she was happy using Corin's gift.
The interwoven network of gifts meant to protect had become Aro and Caius' downfall.
The guards and wives didn't make it more than twenty feet before they were attacked by the wolves, as was Caius, who had been following them futilely.
I stood next to Aro, the man I had hated for longer than I could remember, watching his kingdom crumble beneath him. I felt no pride, no happiness. I felt nothing but the usual ache for my Didyme, my usual bone-deep weariness at my existence.
"We must flee," Aro hissed in my direction.
"Only a coward doesn't know when he is beaten, Aro."
He turned toward me then, his face the cruellest I'd ever seen it. "You must be the most cowardly of them all then, must you not?"
His words were the fuel that finally enabled me to let my rage go.
I leaped before he knew it was coming, landing on him so hard he went down three feet deep in the snow.
"She was my mate!" I screamed, not caring that my voice was hoarse. "Mine, Aro, for all eternity. Mine to have forever, mine to care for, to care for me. You stole her from me, and only your manipulation stopped me from tearing you limb from limb."
He struggled, but he was no match for the pure rage of a man with nothing left to lose. I tore his left arm off and tossed it to the side, ignoring the sound of his pained screeches.
"But nothing stops me now. I've waited too long for my revenge. No longer."
I ground my knee down into his calf, using sheer force to break it from his knee. His right arm hit me in the side of the head, yet I felt no pain.
I felt nothing but redemption.
Finally, my love for Didyme didn't feel like a padlocked chain of guilt sitting around my neck.
Finally, I knew warmth.
"The centuries of watching you hide behind the power of others were worth it," I told him, getting a firm grasp on the wrist of his right arm. "Just so I could be the one to kill you."
I tossed his arm onto a fire still burning near us.
"Just so you could know the fear you made Didyme feel. Just so you could feel a fraction of the endless anguish you subjected me to, and all for your own greed."
I kneeled forward, wrapping my hands around his head and pressing into his skull.
"What did your greed bring you, Aro?"
I ripped his head from his neck and pitched it to the side, praying it would find its way into flames. Exhaustion settled into every pore of my skin.
An outpouring of love brought my gaze upward. My power of being able to sense relationships between people had brought me nothing but bitterness after Didyme's death, and yet this was something else - something pure and earnest and true.
I didn't expect to see a Cullen standing before me.
"You are the only one left, Marcus," Edward inched closer to me, his face sad. Behind him, the rest of his group were hugging and rejoicing, but his face held no joy. "We will offer you asylum, if you—"
"You can read my thoughts, Edward. You know I would not want it."
He nodded, his eyes flicking down to the snow between us.
"Your Bella loves you with a force I've never seen matched in all my years, you know." That newly-familiar pull of muscle in my cheek told me I was smiling. "Until I saw you with the child today. The love that flows between the three of you is like no other."
I watched Edward's face morph into a muted happiness, but it didn't last long. "What will you do?"
I laughed, the feel of it so unfamiliar I'd almost forgotten I even knew how. "I'll die, Edward, as I should have done millennia ago. No one is meant to live as long as I have." My eyes drifted back to his Bella, holding their child in her arms. "Not alone, anyway."
"I can't kill you like this, Marcus."
I shook my head. "I may not believe in heaven, but I know my existence is the worst form of hell. Death would be a kindness, the best blessing you could bestow upon me."
He stared into my eyes for long seconds, and then he balled his fists.
"It must be me?"
"We aren't so different, you and I. Any man can be made into a monster if he has no choice but to be one. Great loss does that to a person, as you well know."
Edward stepped closer. "That's why you spoke for me when I came to be killed?"
"An eternity without one's mate is not a fate I would wish upon my worst enemy."
"And I am your worst enemy?"
I closed my eyes. "No, Edward. My own worst enemy has always been myself."
I felt his feet brush against my bent knees, his hands coming up to cup my head.
"Thank you," I whispered.
A loud, metallic screech, a bolt of pain, and I knew nothing but blissful, endless black.
Then a whispered, "I've waited for you so long, my love."
Please let me know what you thought.
Thank you for reading! Until next time, xo