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Moonlight Serenade

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1924
*

“Would you two be so kind as to stop bickering?” Carlisle glanced up from behind his book, where he was eagerly making notes, while desperately trying to tune out the two vampires who were steadily attacking each other with colder and harsher words.

“I am not doing anything.” The words slid out from between his clenched teeth; from the other side of the room she continued her embroidery biting back a smirk. It was easier to know when she had struck his weak point as those deft fingers would miss a key.

“Isabella…” Carlisle shot her a look, her grin faded into one of shock.

“Carlisle, he should learn to control his behaviour. I’ve never known a newborn’s quite like him.” Another missed key and a hiss, she bit the inside of her mouth to stop the grin escaping. She was aware it was cruel of her, but there was something so intensely satisfying watching the boy rile himself up. However, he was barely seventeen and an orphan facing eternity, sometimes something almost like pity crawled up inside her chest and left her feeling breathless. She knew when he was in his room, he spent hours staring at the few souvenirs of his past life, those she had been able to steal for him before their house had been taken over by the bank. However this pity was short-lived due to the intense irritation he caused her as he always near. It bothered her because she enjoyed her freedom and the quiet, especially what living with Carlisle before had afforded her. Yet, Edward did not understand this, and found himself drifting towards her. This was due to his housebound status because he was still a newborn. Even if he was lonely, she was certainly not his personal entertainment.

She had been used to being alone for years, occasionally, when she felt like it she would throw herself into charity work alongside other woman, championing their latest cause and raising money for it. Especially with her wide smile, and charms she could raise thousands. Once she had been told her face was so beautiful, it could start a war. It had felt like a threat. Or she would cover her hair and pretend to be a man, working alongside Carlisle. This was easier to do in the old days, before they started checking with paperwork as she was too lazy to get a real medical license. Mostly she stayed at home, reading and writing. Now, he was here … always.

“Go for a walk?” It was not a suggestion. Gently she placed her work beside her, and stood elegantly and left quickly. Walking along the streets she pulled her coat tighter against herself, it was cold and so she pretended she felt it, enjoying the charade. When she returned Carlisle was gone for his night shift while Edward moped in his room, silent more so than usual, she hoped Carlisle had admonished him into silence.

She changed into something more comfortable, a silk robe that had been imported from Paris from the greatest century of culture. Despite her love of possessions, there was something about the nomadic life she missed. Her and Carlisle alone, travelling around Europe, pretending to undertake the Grand Tour. They had fit in quite well.

She began to play her records, turning them up to as loud they would go, closing her eyes and lying upon the large mat that was placed before the roaring fire. She liked to sit so close to it, feeling the burn across her skin. It reminded her of before…

“Mind if I join you?” He had come down from his bedroom, clearly he had not understood her desperate need for alone time and stood at the door, one hand upon the handle but not opening it without permission.

“That’s fine.” She sighed, keeping her eyes closed, listening to the twist of the doorknob, the squeak as it opened and the light footsteps before he sat upon the chair awkwardly, furthest away. They didn't often, if ever, spend time alone together especially not at night while she was barely dressed. This was because the boy was still caught up in social expectations, he was not aware he was now outside the realm of time, they would change however he wouldn’t. She opened her eyes flicking over to Edward, his hands rested upon his lap, his eyes trained upon his hands. “Are you all right?” She felt a strange rush of pity for him.

Narrowed eyes flickered to meet hers, “Why?” The questioned stopped her short, shrugging she let her eyes drift back up to the ceiling. There was an elongated moment of silence before he opened his mouth, but did not speak. “How do you feel?”

“Sorry?”

“You have been a vampire nearly a hundred years, when did you stop missing your old life? I know that it is all gone, everyone is… dead. But when does it stop?” He looked… broken, his eyes were full, he would have been wiping away tears if he could cry. She made her way over to him and sat beside him reaching for his hands, their fingers interlinked. She realised this was the first time they had touched intimately, as all previous times had been to restrain him during his newborn state.

“I suppose… it’s different for all of us. I… I was dying, my parents were desperately trying to save me. I died yet they lived and I knew they lived, long, happy lives. It was hard knowing they got to live without me, and it served as a strong link to my past, it took another thirty years until I could move on. But you… for you your family is in heaven, they are safe, they are happy…” It felt right so she lifted one hand to his face, his cheek was smooth beneath her palm. He was still a child.

He moved quickly, his arms were suddenly wrapped around her. His face was buried in her neck, as his body shook with quiet cries. She shushed him, running one hand through his hair, the other wrapped around his back.

They stayed like that for a while, her comforting him until he pulled away. He wiped away tears that weren't there, “I’m sorry… thank you… excuse me.” He blurted the words and was gone then, heavy footsteps upon the stairs, then the slam of his door. She slunk back to the mat, placing her head next to the head of the polar bear and closed her eyes pretending to sleep.

Things changed after that.

*

1918

“Carlisle… what have you done?” She would have felt nauseous if she could have. A boy lay upon the bed, screaming and writhing while Carlisle hovered over him holding him down to stop him from hurting himself as he thrashed. A deep-rooted ugly guilt sat upon his face.

“I couldn't leave him, she asked… his mother asked me to save him. I couldn’t…” He trailed off, using the excuse of holding the boys arms spread-eagled as he tried to fight through the venom, to escape it. She knew his pain, the awfulness, and felt pity.

She had received the note upon returning home, her hair curled in the new fashion and she felt beautiful, she had even applied some rouge to her cheeks to give her the appearance of humanity; she had been excited to show him. The door was still locked upon her return home, the flowers she had bought sat in her basket ready to bloom any day soon. She was glad she had bought them, they were Carlisle’s favourites, his absence was not suspicious especially these days. She barely saw him with the outbreak of Spanish Influenza, the newspapers were in uproar, fear kept the streets mostly empty.

Only upon opening the door did she find the note, lying face down she felt panic, her name in his handwriting stared up at her, reaching down to grab it she went into their parlour to get some water for the flowers. Only after she had completed that did she read the note.

Urgent, leave as soon as possible. Head to the cabin. Bring only essentials.

The letters were a scrawl, quite unlike him, and she felt panic spike her system. She didn't bother bringing anything, the flowers lay forgotten in the later summer sun. She drove as fast as possible out of the city, north towards the nearest and largest national park. Manistree national forest, they had a cabin their for whenever she managed to break Carlisle away from his work where they would hunt and live in close quarters together. It had only one bed, which she would lie upon, pretending to sleep, while Carlisle would often join lying alongside her while reading. He thought nothing more of it, but she did. Deliberately touching him, she revelled in him.

Arriving hours later she burst forth through the trees, abandoning the car as soon as she hit heavy foliage and rant he rest of the way, ruining her beautiful, new, leather shoes. She heard the screams as soon as she neared the cottage and felt an awful twist in her gut, those screams were familiar in an awful way. The screams of the change. What had he done? What… had he done? Slowing to a walk she made the rest of the way through the forest slowly, hating every step she took knowing things would never be the same again. Irrevocably changed.

“You couldn't let him die? You had to change him? Do you understand how much this is going to affect our lives?” She could not help but allow herself to whine slightly.

“Bella!” He seemed shocked at her selfishness. Only a small part of her was glad it was a boy before her, not another to compete for his affections.

“I’m going to hunt.” She slammed the door behind her. Life had never been fair to her, these past few decades had been certainly too good to be true. She did not hunt, instead she swam, carefully removing her clothing as that was all she had as she had not brought anything else in her sheer panic for Carlisle’s safety. The water calmed her, the pretence of drowning her until she floated onto the shore. She only returned later when she had calmed, managing to squash the burning anger and jealousy, “I’ll take over now.” Despite it being impossible, he still looked exhausted, she sat upon the bed they had once shared and ran her hand across his burning forehead.

Carlisle sat back heavily upon the chair looking as if he were the one burning. “Did I do the wrong thing?” It was an impossible question to answer, she wanted to scream and rave, but held her tongue.

“You did what you thought was right,” she turned back to the boy, Carlisle moved then, quickly, his forehead pressed against the back of her hair, he breathed her in deeply. She squashed the rush of longing.

“Thank you.” She nodded but pulled away, she was no longer anyone’s excuse or validator. He seemed to understand that and pulled back. “His name is Edward Mason, he is seventeen, both his parents had passed.” Disappearing outside for some fresh air, she was left with the stale air with the screaming boy.

Nestling her body so she was resting alongside him allowing her cool body to cool him, she began to hum, it was one of her favourites, Debussy. It seemed to calm him somewhat, giving him something to focus upon. She assumed anything was better than Carlisle’s mantra of ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’ Not that she would have commented. Taking in the human form beneath her she saw how his body had been ravaged by the illness, sunken cheeks, ribs, an unnatural thinness. She wondered what the venom would deem necessary to fix.

Three and a half days later his heart beat for the last time, it had taken longer than she had and he was concerned he had not done it correctly. He had apparently moderated his approach, than the one he had taken for her. For her he had mimicked his own bites, and it had been crueller and more painful than usual. She was still somewhat self-conscious of her own, her poor neck almost ripped open. Although it made her feel closer to Carlisle, for they shared the exact same bite marks. For Edward he had tried an easier way.

Both of them stood at the far end of the cabin, several feet away from the bed, hoping both their strength would be able to stop him. “Edward?” Carlisle called cautiously, in one fluid yet awkward motion he was flying off the bed, his back hitting the far wall, eyes wide in fear, before narrowing as a snarl escaped his throat and his body slipped into an instinctive crouch. “Edward, I am Carlisle, your doctor, do you remember?”

“What did you do?” Constantly shifting in-between anger and fear, flight and fight, amongst thousands of other emotions. “NO!” He snarled angry, “she’s dead,” and then he flung himself towards Carlisle, his movements based upon pure instinct were sloppy, even if they were fast, and he forgot to account Bella into his attack. The two of them managed to force him onto the ground as he fought against them, screaming and snarling.

“Edward, Edward, calm you’re going to hurt yourself, or me, or Carlisle!” She called out, after her hand had missed his teeth by a mere quarter of an inch. “Calm, calm!” She called out, as Carlisle only seemed to rile him up, fear and memories of the hospital. His arms were almost breaking with the tension they needed to control him. She began to hum Debussy again, letting go with one arm of his arm despite the risk and began to stroke his hair as she had done during his change.

“Please stop…. so loud.” He mumbled into the floor after he had calmed. “You are… you are talking so loud…” Bella and Carlisle shared a concerned look. “I promise…” He whispered after a few seconds more. Carlisle let go, and nodded at Bella to do so, they shifted back quickly out of the way as he scrambled to his feet. “I’m a what?” He cried out, with half a laugh.

“You are a vampire Edward, please understand, you were dying and I saved your life. But in order to do so I had to change you. First you need to feed, that burning in your throat…” his hand flew to his neck, gripping it tightly as his teeth bared a little, “you need blood. We will take you hunting.” It took less than a second and he was bursting thought the window, glass shattering, as he launched himself towards the small herd of elk she had rounded up outside. They stood well back watching as he took down the entire herd. Only then did he stand to face them wiping the back of his hand against his mouth, only smearing the blood further.

“I’m a monster…”

“You can be good… it’s a matter of choice.” Bella raised a hand toward him, she was wearing Carlisle’s clothes now, it smelt of him and it had comforted her somewhat despite the new situation.

“No… no I dont… no!” He yelled, “I don't want to come inside!”

Bella shot a concerned look toward Carlisle, he motioned for her to be quiet as he turned back to Edward, a frown appearing on his face.

“Of course I can hear you?” He began to pace.

“What is going on?” Bella snapped then, irritated as it was clear she was missing out on something.

“Edward, please stay calm,” Carlisle lifted out a hand towards him, before turning to Bella, “I just asked him if he waned to come inside, and then I asked if he could hear me.” He paused as if for dramatic effect, glancing between the two. “Edward I think you can read my mind.” Edward gave a hysterical laugh. “You’ve been responding to my thoughts since you awoke.” She ran through the events in her head and she realised it made sense as he had responded to questions that had not been asked, well vocally. But he had not responded to her… of course. It made perfect sense.

“But you can’t read my mind, I’m a shield.” He could only stare at them, it took thirteen hours thirty-eight minutes to explain everything to him in full, with a hunting break in that time, before he was fully aware of vampiric law.

*

2006

She was nervous… no. Yes. There was no point in lying to herself. She was so gut-wrenchingly nervous. Her face pressed against her knees, as her arms wrapped around herself as she made herself as small as possible. Ripping down the sun visor she stared into the small mirror, into her eyes perfectly in-between red and amber. She had wanted to wait longer but was desperate to see Edward and Carlisle. She had done a lot of reconnaissance, and was aware of how much had occurred without her. She had probably been forgotten by now, the first, the black sheep.

Even so, she felt it necessary to apologise. Abandoning Carlisle, while he was alone and most vulnerable, as he struggled with what he had done to them both she had laid the blame upon him and fled.

However she had never found Edward, which had been her ultimate intention.

“Come on, come on, come on!” She revved the engine before jamming her foot down upon the gas, the car launched forth through the winding lanes through to where she knew Carlisle and Edward now resided.

There was now six of them. Two pairs of mates, Alice, Rosalie, Jasper and Emmett. It was Rosalie and Emmett who were apparently Carlisle’s protégée. She was shocked he had made more of them, after the state he had been in after she had left.

It was a beautiful mansion, large and white, large glass windows dominated most. She knew how he had loved the sun.

The front door was open before she had cut the engine, the two of them stood at the top of the stairs. Their faces unreadable.

“Hello boys.” She left the car door wide open, keys in the ignition, ready to flee.

“Bella,” it was Carlisle who broke forward first, bounding down the stairs and wrapping his arms around her tightly. Gingerly she hugged him back, she melted into his embrace, he smelt so familiar and comforting.

“Carlisle,” She choked out, the bond between their maker and child was strong, stronger than either of them had ever understood. Especially for the first.

“I’ve missed you,” he inhaled the smell of her hair, and the two of them stood like that for a while. Saying nothing but knowing they would have to speak about it later, but then was not the time.

“Hello Bella,” finally Edward’s voice broke through and they stumbled apart, and she was left to face the boy she had promised she would follow to the end of the earth, and who had left her. She didn't greet him, instead they rushed to each other, her arms fit round him easily, she had forgotten how gangly he was, how tall he was. She was shocked at how old his eyes were, as if he had aged a lifetime while they had been apart. Their hug was so tight she felt as if she could break in half, their entire bodies were pressed together, legs to torsos to heads.

She laughed pulling back, pushing her hair back from her face and she was stood facing her two boys.

Edward reached forward, plucking a stray leaf from her hair, his fingers lingering in her hair. “I’m glad you never cut it.” He gave her a shy smile which she returned.

“Have you returned?” Carlisle spoke then, hope had ignited in his eyes.

Her eyes trained upon the floor she nodded, “if you’ll have me?” They both laughed in unison, both reaching out to touch her in some way. Carlisle resting a hand upon her shoulder while Edward caught his hand in hers.

“You always will have a home with me.”

It brought her some sick joy realising both their hands were free of rings.

“Come, meet the rest of the family.” Carlisle’s arm reached around her waist, while Edward fell into step beside them. The ‘family’ were waiting at the top of the steps. The two women seemed wary of her, both faces held scowls, while the men seemed slightly more welcoming, the larger man was positively beaming down at her. “Our family has extended, this is Rosalie and Emmett, they are also your siblings, Emmett bounded down the stairs while Rosalie reluctantly made her way down the stairs, she was the blonde.

“Nice to meet ‘ya.” Emmett shook her hand eagerly, “I’m afraid I haven't heard much about you,” he shot an accusatory glare towards Carlisle and Edward, “but we can rectify that soon, sister.” He kissed her cheek and she smiled at how gentle he was. She liked him.

Rosalie did not offer a hand, nor a hug. Instead she hung back, nodding at her. Bella felt a familiar stab of hatred toward her, clearly they were infringing on each other’s territory. She was no longer Carlisle’s only female protégée. “Nice to meet you,” the words were stilted, and only at Emmett’s nudge.

“They joined us in the thirties, while Alice and Jasper joined us in the fifties.” Carlisle supplied, his arm a heavy and comforting weight around her waist. In this time they too had joined them at the bottom of the steps.

“I didn't see you coming.” The small vampire, Alice, scowled at her.

“Alice,” Edward admonished her gently, “be nice, just because you can’t see her. She’s a shield.” She felt exposed at Edward’s words, revealing her power to these strangers. “Alice is psychic, you must have inadvertently blocked her.” The double exposure, while no problem to Edward clearly irked Alice somewhat also.

“I’m so sorry,” a hand shot out, “I’m usually a lot nicer. I’m just not used to being blind.” She tried to muster a bright smile for her, Bella shook her hand trying to smile back.

“It’s nice to meet you also.” She had already registered the final vampire, the blonde southerner, she knew before he had even opened his mouth. She had inserted herself into some of it in the seventies, when it was gentler and safer than when the wars ravaged back in the eighteen hundreds. He did not offer a hand, appearing weary, she assumed waiting for a reaction to his numerous scars but she had known many southerners and offered her own hand, a shy smile upon her face.

“Bella,” although he already knew her name. He nodded at her looking slightly less serious.

“Come on, let’s go inside now introductions are out the way.” Carlisle seemed almost giddy, pulling her inside the large mansion they headed towards the living room they both sat upon the sweetheart sofa, hot on their heels Edward perched upon the arm. “Tell me everything you have been up to?” He seemed to be avoiding the obvious, why had she returned? Although she had Edward to ask that very same question, and in front of four strangers it did not seem right.

“Mostly I’ve travelled.” She shifted away from Carlisle’s touch, he removed his arm, however in the process pressed herself against Edward. “I’ve done Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, inside and out.” She shrugged not knowing how to fill seventy odd years. “When did you return?” She shifted so she was staring up at Edward.

A small, sad smile appeared upon his face, “thirty-one.” She froze, pain spiking through her body, she almost burst into loud bitter laughter, she knew he had returned by thirty-three, because that was when Rosalie had been turned. She had found them in Rochester by the beginning of thirty-four, however they had already disappeared, alongside the mysterious disappearance of the socialite’s daughter Hale, blood was found, no body. Her fiancee, mysteriously dead also. Foul play suspected.

She found them again, this time in Tennessee. She had watched carefully, wary of the new addition. It was instantly clear that she had been replaced, unable to watch any further she had fled.

Not that she would ever admit this aloud.

Her eyes flickered around the room finding herself being watched intently, she stared beyond into the next room and of course… she laughed, “of course you would.” A teasing tone in her voice as she made her way towards an unnecessarily large grand piano, happy to escape the oppressiveness of the room.

“I’m good now. Excellent in fact and…” Edward broke off and winced at the cacophony as she slammed her fingers down upon random keys, harder than needed be.

“You were saying?” She smirked, moving her hands to smash down upon the keys. Instead he went to slam down the cover upon her fingers. She mock gasped and turned to face him, old rivalries sparked up and she was ready…
“We still have everything of yours,” Carlisle broke in in-between them, they both took steps back, she had not realised how close she was too him and laughed nervously.

“That is because you are ridiculously sentimental,” she stared pointedly at that stupid cross which hung above the stairs, large and obnoxious.

“I’ll go get it.” Carlisle was gone then, Edward paused a moment then followed leaving her alone with the others. Unable to supply conversation, she slipped back into the living room and upon the empty couch.

“So Bella, how come we’ve never heard of you?” That was Emmett, loud and intrusive, but she found herself not minding.

“You had better be asking Carlisle that question not me.”

“What year were you changed?”

“Oh, eighteen twelve.”

“Near enough same as Jas,” he nodded towards Jasper who smiled slightly strained, apparently there was no secrecy here. “Where about?”

“Here,” she smiled, “well almost… close-by to here. There wasn't much here back then.” There had been very little of European settlement on the West coast by that time.

Thankfully Edward and Carlisle reappeared then, each carrying a large trunk which they set in front of her. Opening them she was immediately hit with a nostalgia, reaching down she pulled out her things, she had amounted a large amount of trinkets from eighteen twelve to nineteen twenty-nine.

Dropping to her knees she began to search through her things, things she had accepted had been gone forever. “Oh,” she whispered pulling out the single portrait she had of her parents out, her father’s stern yet warm eyes, her mother flighty yet loving. She closed her eyes desperately trying to remember them, pressing it against her heart. Distantly aware of the other four leaving them.

Carlisle’s hand rested upon her shoulder. She threw her head back blinking away tears that could not fall. “Charles and Renée,” he supplied, she was glad as she had forgotten. Her mother had been French, she spoke only French to her and her father had always been irritated by their private conversations, he was British from a good family, they had vast amounts of wealth and land back in Britain. She could not remember her early years in England, only her later ones in the Americas.

Shifting through the rest of the box she discovered family jewellery, a beautiful sapphire set into a gold chain, her mother’s wedding ring. Her own fingers tangled with Carlisle’s, “thank you for keeping this… I had forgotten.”

She smiled at Edward who smiled back at her, “don’t be sad, be happy they're still alive though your memories.” She remembered she had once said those exact words to him in those early, strained years between them. She touched his cheek gently.

The second trunk was filled with times she could remember more clearly, her times with Carlisle and then with Edward, she laughed at the portrait of the three of them. She had demanded she stood while the two men sat in front of her, all severe and stern, she even rested her hands upon their shoulders.

“I remember the photographer was so mad,” she giggled, “he kept muttering ‘not right, not right.’”

“I had to pay him double for him to take the picture.” Carlisle laughed.

“What about this one?” Edward pulled a frame from the bottom of the box, his eyes widening almost comically before putting it back quickly. She dived upon it, turning it to face her, she laughed loudly, mostly at his reaction.

“Oh Bella.” Carlisle shook his head, still laughing.

“It was tasteful,” she promised, it was a naked portrait, however it was from behind, ergo, tasteful. “Hey, it was one of you who kept this.” She waved it accessory in their faces, giggling as they realised this and looked embarrassed. “I can’t believe you kept it all, thank you.” She said sincerely.

“I always hoped you would return,” Carlisle admitted honestly.

“I knew you would.” Edward looked up at her from under his eyelashes.

“Why Bella? Why now?” She knew it was coming, yet she still recoiled.

“Courage.” It seemed so simple yet a lie. “I couldn’t face you for years, knowing you had this new family. Where was I to fit in? The run-away?” Her hands twisted into the shag rug.

“I did the same, I returned.”

“You didn't return with a replacement already in place.” The words fell from her mouth before she could stop them, she slammed her mouth shut.

“She wasn't a replacement. She was dying and I saved her, as I saved you, as I saved Edward. You are two totally different, independent people… was that why you never came back?” He choked out the final part, and she kept her eyes upon the floor giving him the answer. “Oh Bella, oh Bella.” She felt like a child…

“She was changed… partly as a companion for me…” She felt a shift inside her, some sort of raging anger that came from nowhere. As if she felt betrayed by them both.

*

1822

She let out a long piercing scream, panting long and hard, if this was hell she was already there. Burning inside and out. The large bulge in her stomach was refusing to come out, the mid-wife had muttered words that had sealed her fate but they were still trying desperately. Breech birth. She screamed again, the tears streaming upon her face.

“The doctor is here!” Someone called from he distance, but she could not focus, the only thing that held her attention was her desperation of not dying.

He appeared like an angel, blonde and sent from heaven, he grasped her hand and stroked her hair whispering comforting words to her, his touch was cooling and she longer for more.

There was very little she remembered after that as they began to cut her open, an early caesarean in which the mother died but the children had a small chance of survival. However, as in most cases, neither child not mother survived. Her babe was dead as they took it out of her, and she was stolen away from the room out the window and across the fields as Carlisle desperately tried to save her. He bit her, and pumped her heart manually for most of her change, she was half-dead and he did not wholly expect her to recover.

Carlisle had met newborns before, he later explained to her, but none were like her. None had the concentration, the willpower, the pure strength of character to remain true to self.

The loss of her child and past life affected her greatly, she spent many a great months inside the cabin unmoving from bed as she mourned the loss of the boy, it had been a boy. Apparently with her brown eyes and a thick head of brown hair. She made him return to her to the grave. She returned to it every year upon his birth day, and her death day. She was only nineteen. She had not yet lived before her death.

The man who became her maker, her… she did not know what he was to her. She felt a strong emotional connection to him, a need to be beside him. He cared for her, he made sure she hunted when she wished to lapse into nothingness. He showed her how to live. How to have forever while not loosing yourself.

That did not mean she did not resent him.

They had sex once.

He had apologised afterwards and disappeared for three days. She had felt dirty and had cried for a day before lapsing into numbness. He had returned after the third day, helping her from bed and encouraging her to hunt.

He did not touch her again, not in that way.

*

1928

She had killed.

A boy of no more than twenty; he had been travelling home when he had fallen and cut open his palm upon the ground. It had been nothing, but it was everything. Strength bunched into her bones, the monster took complete control something that never happened. She did not pounce, there was no need to for a human, instead it was more careful, more cunning. She smiled wide like the cheshire cat and reached down, helping him stand.

“Let me help you!” She had offered, a guiding hand and a smile and he would have done anything for her. She had led him deep into the woods where no one would find them, and no one had seen them leave together.

Then the polite monster became the beast.

She had ripped out his throat, drinking him dry, she had revelled in every second of it. Immersing herself in who she truly was, what she truly was. She was no child of God. She was Satan’s creation. Blood stained her face, it covered her clothes, it mattered her hair. She collapsed beside the gasping, dying boy and breathed, feeling alive for the first time. Her mind swam, the rush unbelievable, indescribable.

When he had drawn his last breathe and turned cold did she move, her movement giddy and jolting, unused to such power. Over one hundred years of a clean slate. Ruined forever. Like her.

She buried the bow in a shallow grave, on unconsecrated ground.

Returning home to an empty house she felt his absence most. The door to his room remained firmly closed. His lingering smell growing fainted by the day. The flowers she had bought had died and had not been thrown out.

She was in the process of arranging a newly picked bouquet when Carlisle returned, still working, not mourning. He stood in the doorway a strange awful look in his eye.

“What did you do?” He choked out.

“My slate is no longer clean.”

They fucked once more.

That was the third, and final time.

*

2005

“Oh my book!” She had kept a book of pressed herbs and flowers from each of the places she had lived, from her human life right up until she had left. It must have been mostly full, the pages were large and the specimens she chose were only small. And there it was upon his bookshelf, she gave him a gentle smile.

“I hope you don’t mind that I kept it out?” He sounded shy about it.

“Of course not,” she ran her fingers gently down the spine. “I like your room though.” Carlisle had gotten a call, work, he had apologised and had had to leave quite suddenly and Edward had taken her to his room. She sat upon his large leather couch, admiring the music that covered most of the walls. Much like old times, the two of them. She felt comforted by how familiar it felt.

Downstairs beneath them she would hear movement and would be reminded that this was not the past anymore.

“Honestly, what have you been up to?”

There was something different in his eyes, his face. He had aged, as of course was inevitable. She felt grief at his loss of innocence.

“I did what vampires do Edward.” Her tone took on a sharp edge, the one she had used often in the early stages of their relationship.

“And what is that?” He took on the accompanying brusque tone.

“Travelling, working, learning.”

“You’re being deliberately annoying.” He snapped. She stuck her tongue out to prove his point, and this broke his anger, “really, look. I’ve studied at medical school twice, undertaken countless degrees in literature, math, law, mechanical engineering, countless languages…”

She realised all he had done with himself was the immersion in knowledge, she supposed that was a good way to waste eternity. Better than her way…

“You were always terrible at languages.”

“Now I can speak more than twelve fluently.”

“Three mediocrely.” She countered teasing.

“Mind if I join?” Alice was stood in the doorway suddenly, she did not realise how close she had come to Edward and immediately shifted away.

“Of course…” She patted the couch beside her and Alice slide in beside her.

“Would you mind lifting your shield? It’s odd…”

“I’m sorry, I can’t, and I’ve tried to learn how to control it.” She would take that lie to her death-bed, Alice thankfully shrugged.

“Now I’m aware of you and your existence I can kind of see you,” her eye narrowed as she stared off into the far-distance. She would have to be more careful with how far she pushed out her shield, making sure to retain this strength, there was nothing she could do now about Alice’s semi-sight, she would have to put up with it. But to be careful not to drop it anymore. Jasper was hovering now in the background, either keeping an eye on her around Alice or not wanting to be too far separated from her.

He gravitated into the room slowly, and the four of them ended up sat around the room talking about things, politics, to literature to music, mostly centred upon her own thoughts, emotions and experiences. When she revealed that she had been there at the Kennedy assassination, front-row, Emmett appeared then interested and they conversed enjoying having a new voice.

She watched Edward most, he responded acutely to Alice, she realised they must have been having a private conversation.

“They do that all the time, don’t worry, it doesn't ever get less annoying.” Emmett laughed, noticing her staring, she felt embarrassment flare through her at getting caught.

“Wait, so if I can’t see you, does that mean Edward can’t hear you?” Alice leant forward interested then. They both shook their heads.

“No, thankfully.” She laughed reaching out to push him gently at the same time as he said, “no, it has always been irksome never knowing that she was thinking, or planning…” She knew however he found it the farthest from irksome, in face he found immense comfort in her silence. That was the reason he had gravitated towards her in the early years, the voices quietened somewhat the closer he was to her.

Alice gave them a look, narrowed eyes and raised eyebrows, and Edward withdrew immediately. She felt her own irritated spike, forever left out of private conversations.

She had her own room. Apparently while it was presented as the ‘guest bedroom’ they had always left a room especially for her. Painted in her favourite eggshell blue. She moved in easily, as she had been travelling with very little clothing anyway. Her trinkets from before were spread out, there was boxes of her books, and her writings. Pictures she had painted, things she had drawn. It had been so long since she had had a home of her own, it was a comfort.

More and more time was spent around Alice, and therefore Jasper, as they came as a package deal. However she found herself enjoying being around both of them, Alice was chatty and beautiful and excitable, a kind soul, while Jasper was her antithesis emotionally, calming and soothing. The four of them spent a lot of time with each other, it was clear Edward had a new best friend as he was inseparably close to Alice, the two of them having nervous psychic conversations. While this was occurring, if they forgot the other two were there, her and Jasper spoke. She discovered she had a lot in common with him, a shared passion for history, and having grown up in the same century. While the eighteen tens had very little in common with the eighteen sixties it did not matter as they spoke about it as if they did.

He spoke little of his early years but she listened intently and without judgement, as she had learnt he had the ability to sense and control emotions, she was instantly wary but he barely if ever used his gift, and only then to calm.

It took until the third week of living there when Carlisle sat her down and informed her that he was dating someone. He looked awkward at this. As if he too was imagining the last time they had fucked, how he had tasted the human blood from her skin. How he hadn’t been able to look in the eye as he got ready for work the next morning.

She left that day. Never to return.

… to find Edward.

Her name was Esme and she was a nurse at the hospital he worked at. They had been dating over a year and he wished to introduce they to each other as apparently Esme knew all.

He was happy, and of course that was he most important thing. The smile that graced his lips as he spoke of her, finally he was happy. After almost four hundred year without love. He deserved it.

Esme was missing the rest of them, and she also wanted to meet her. So after work Esme would also be appearing, she took that as a warning. So she went and cleaned herself up, her hands pressing against her stomach, a habit left over from her human life. Even placing in brown contacts to hide her not-quite amber eyes from view so as not to scare. She sat curled upon the couch as Emmett watched some baseball game, Edward sat close by reading while she stared out the window.

Alice bounded up, coming back from hunting with Jasper, apparently it was necessary whenever Esme came around. She sat so close to her she was almost on her knee and began to plait her hair.

“You have the most beautiful hair in the entire world.” She sighed, Bella felt warm at the compliment and the comfortableness she showed around her.

“I just never cut it I suppose. I vaguely remember being stubborn as it used to take so long to care for, and it was the British fashion anyway.” Alice’s smile widened at the details, her backstory had also been explained, her lack of memory, instead waking up alone with only her visions to guide her. Toward Carlisle and Jasper, towards hope and future.

The story of her and Jasper’s meeting was beautiful, she had felt compelled to voice these thoughts and had watched Alice’s face soften some more and had pressed a kiss to her cheek.

The sound of a wet, human heart beat filtered through into the house.

She railed against the monster in her mind, the one that had had free rein for so long. Instead she squashed it down, holding forth her own impression of perfect control. Jasper caught her eye and she knew it was a look of solidarity, the hunger flickered in his eyes like a flame he was unable to put out. Heavy footsteps up the steps onto the front porch, Carlisle holding the door open for her.

This was it.

She was older than Bella had expected, nearly her mid to late twenties, she had long caramel hair and a kind face. After a faltering moment she jumped to her feet drifting towards, “hello.” She noticed everyone else’s reaction, a jittery stiffness about their movements. Ready to stop her if she pounced. All but Carlisle who knew her remarkable immunity.

After four hundred years of searching and loneliness he had chosen her, it stung slightly knowing it had never been her. Even those he had chosen her first, and they had spend the most time together, out of every other person he had ever known in his long life. And it had never been her…

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Esme smiled shyly, glancing at Carlisle quickly, as if to check she was doing okay.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, I’m glad you make him so happy.” She reached forward to hug her gently, the woman reciprocated and Bella stepped back.

“Remarkable,” Jasper whispered so quiet that Esme could not hear, she would ask later.

“I should probably let you be, I’m making everyone nervous.” She smiled, perhaps a little too wide, showing too many teeth. But Esme did not seem to notice, only returning a wide smile in return. “Edward?” She turned to him, he followed her automatically towards the back. They had fallen into a hunting pattern together.

“Elk or mountain lion?” He queried.

Jasper was behind them then, “mountain lion.” He spoke first.

The three of them jumped the river together, each with their own style, Edward included a summersault, she had enough power to twist herself in the air catching herself in his obnoxious stunt so they both went tumbling to the ground, she laughed loudly as Edward groaned having landed heavily with his neck in an awkward position. Jasper merely stood over them with an amused patient look. He offered her a hand to stand.

“He always was a show-off, I enjoy taking him down a peg or two.”

*

1920

He was whining… again.

She had to bite the inside of her cheek to stop lashing out, with words or fists.

Debate about souls, and religion, something a seventeen year old boy should have lost interest in. Especially in the moment he became a creature of the night. Instead he insisted on talking to Carlisle about it almost constantly, every since he had gained rational thought back and was able to hold a real conversation. She almost missed newborn Edward and his short attention span, and insatiable hunger. That had meant she spent as little time as possible with him as he was always out hunting.

She had left a copy of Dracula upon his bed, alongside a wooden stake merely to be petty.

Newborns were certainly a lot of work, something she never intended on finding out herself.

“Why should you care? This is not going to be something that is going to effect you for years? You are immortal.”

“Bella…”

“No, she’s right, it might not be for a while. But I will die, and hundreds of years is a lot of time to mess up, become sinful. What about then?”

She groaned loudly, she stood, “I shall return when someone learns to forget human thoughts and realise we, as beings, as higher on the food chain and importance, than humans.” The slam of the door behind her was petty but vindicating. She had forgotten a coat, but it did not matter too much as they still lived in relative obscurity, they had few neighbours for the safety of the humans.

Halfway down the lane she heard quick footsteps behind her, “you forgot your coat…” He held out her long black one.
“I don’t need it?” She raised her arms towards the thick undergrowth, “no one is going to see me and think I’m inhuman.” It was a slight jab. He held her coat against himself and he looked thoughtful before he opened his mouth, hesitating for a second.
“What are you and Carlisle?”

Immediately she shut down, “he is my maker.”

“No… no… I mean… emotionally. How do you feel?” She was not ready to answer that question, she did not know herself.

“Why?” That seemed the safest route to go, turn the tables upon him.

It worked, he began to bluster, “I just… I don't know… just curious I suppose… It’s strange not being able to read your mind. You’re an enigma.” She liked that, she was unreadable.

“Do you like Carlisle?” He understood the implication in her tone and began huffing and mumbling and shaking his head, “you know it’s not unheard of, it’s perfectly fine if you do?”

“No, I like girls. Definitely.”

“I am glad that is cleared up. I shall be home before the sun rises.” She dismissed him easily, but she was aware he was still stood watching her, so she put a sway in her step knowing exactly what she was doing, but not knowing it was not necessary.

*

1928

“I think… something has changed between me and Edward.” She loathed to speak those words, now the my were real, her fears were real. She could be mocked, refused, thrown out.

Carlisle’s head ripped away from the novel he had immersed himself in. “What?” A strange expression on his face. Indescribable.

“I’m not sure… surely you have noticed it?” She did not know what answer she wanted more from him, that he had not seen it and only she and Edward were more antagonistic than ever and he was sure they truly hated each other. Or…. or that he loved her, or at least felt something for her.

“You fight too much. You just need to avoid spending as much time in each other company if you are just going to annoy each other.”

Good.

Good.

No. It was not good, she felt her heart crushed every so slightly.

“You don’t think he hates me do you?”

She had noticed him pulling away from her recently, even at that moment he was hunting alone. Having declined her offer to join him.

“He doesn’t hate you. I don’t know what he feels. Just breathe Isabella, you focus too much upon him.” She would have described the tone as jealous had she been able to even fathom such a concept of Carlisle jealous. Suddenly he slammed the book shut. “We never get to do anything with just to two of us!” It was true, before they had attended balls together, hunted together. They were never apart and always alone. “Let’s go out. There must be a dance hall nearby!”

“You cannot be serious!” She laughed feeling lighter already, here is was distracting her to make her feel better.

But Carlisle had mirth in his eyes, his mouth set into a joyous smile.

“Go wear that blue dress, the beautiful one from Paris.” She had never moved so fast, she fixed her hair, put on some humanising make up, and the dress. The beautiful blue dress. She never felt more beautiful than when she put that one for the first time that night.

There was one she had never wore, and would never wear again after that night.

“I’m ready.” She appeared at the foot of the stairs, her coat thrown over one arm ready to leave to dance and to be free. He was ready also, dressed in a tuxedo. She felt old, yet still lingering, emotions arise from somewhere deep inside her.

He was so handsome.

“Lets go,” he offered his arm to her and they left, catching a taxi straight into town. She felt lighter and freer than she had in a long time. They found a jazz bar easily, slipping into it unnoticed she began to loose herself.

They danced for hours and hours, the heat from the surrounding bodies warmed them up so much she almost felt giddy. Blood rushing around her system so fast her head swum, the thick, heavy smoke clung to her as she inhaled the nicotine allowing it to infect her body. She was as drunk as a vampire could get. Drunk off human scent, and human blood, and lust.

Carlisle too looked freer than she had ever seen him, his pupils blown wide.

He kissed her then, it was not the first time they had kissed. But never like this, his mouth was hard upon hers, pressing against her tightly, his fingers in her hair pulling her tight and close against him. He softened then pulling away.

“Is this…” It was a question, is this okay? Dear, gentle Carlisle, never to do anything without consent.

She thought back to that last time they had done this, it had been confusing and wrong, and she had been hurt by it. Everything was different now, everything had changed. That seemed so long ago, as if it was not quite the same girl who had gently slipped the dress from her body leaving herself stood in front of him. This was no longer one-sided.

“We should… probably leave,” she was breathless in her lust and delight. His hands slid their way around her easily, kissing her lips, her jaw, her neck.

“We should go.” He agreed, one hand easing its way up her leg, his fingers catching upon her garters.

It was a blur, rush of lust, as he slid the dress over her head it ripped down the shoulder but could not find it in herself to care. They were together then, as one, again and again, this was what it was supposed to feel like… wasn’t it. She wondered if she was supposed to be wondering what this all meant? What did mates feel for each other? Was it this? Was it more? What if he left again like last time?

“I… I think I love you…”

The door slammed downstairs as she whispered those words, they both froze realising Edward was below them having returned from the hunt. The footsteps did not continue further into the house as he had heard them, heard her admonition.

Loud footsteps suddenly slamming up the stairs, neither of them could move from their position, neither of them could bare to look at the other. She realised what it felt like then for the first time.

It felt like betrayal.

She pushed like away, pulling the sheet up so she covered herself, using her hair like a curtain. Carlisle sat on the edge of the bed, facing towards the wall. Listening to Edward three rooms down pretending as if they could not hear each other.

She realised what was happening the same time as Carlisle, the sound of a suitcase being locked. She jumped up grabbing her dress but realised it was ripped and instead went for Carlisle’s shirt, it was long enough it covered her in the necessary areas. She ripped open the door, Carlisle was dressing himself also, buttoning up a shirt and pulling on trousers.

Edward was halfway down the stairs.

“Edward!” He ignored her, reaching the door and wrenching it open. “Edward.” She raced down the stairs catching his arm and pulling him back.

“What?” For the first time he bared his teeth at her, truly menacing.

“What are you doing?”

“Leaving.”

“Edward, you can’t leave.” Carlisle hung back, a look of shame sat upon his face. It was another stab to her heart, she knew he would regret it. Just like last time.

“Watch me. I’ll leave you two to your love nest, you wont have to wait until I leave next time.” She went to whisper his name once more but he ripped his arm away, every second she could see him getting further and further from her reach. “I never wanted to hunt animals anyway, you are fake, both you. Pretending to be human. It’s all a lie. We’re monsters. We corrupt and ruin. You ruined me and Bella. Look at us.” He let out a laugh but there was no humour in it. “Goodbye.”

The door slammed and neither Carlisle nor Bella moved, both frozen in horror and shame. Finally she managed to rip herself away, stumbling upstairs, she dressed in her own clothes, numb and ghost-like she escaped through the back door leaving him alone. She followed his scent until it became lost and she sat down to cry, whispering his name over and over again.

*

2006

“I am impressed.” Jasper lounged against a nearby tree as she finished her kill, “the way you control your bloodlust is just… I’ve never felt anything like it before.” She stood wiping the corners of her mouth. She preferred to hunt wild, loose control. But she refrained while around others.

“I’ve always had it, I could go out around humans within three months of my change.” She shrugged, it was nothing to her.

“Everyone else, it’s always there, in the back. Where with you, it is as if you process it and ignore it.”

“Amazing isn't it.” Edward appeared, dropping down from a tree branch, landing on the balls of his feet lightly.

“One of a kind.” She agreed, grinning at him lightly.

“I’m going to head back, I’ll catch you two up later.” She felt nervous suddenly, as if there was a deeper reason for his leaving. They began to meander back towards the house at a human pace.

“Esme is lovely…” He blurted out, “she has one of the most genuinely kindest minds I’ve ever heard.”

“That’s nice…” Talking of Carlisle’s new beau it felt oppressive. “She seems… nice.” It fell flat.

“So you and Carlisle never?”

Her hands clenched tightly.

“After you left, once more, it was…” Horrible, awful, the worst experience of her life. “It was wrong, we regretted it. He felt guilty, so I only did it again to make him feel more so… for forcing you away. I blamed him, I blamed myself. I couldn't bear to be around him. So I left.” They had both stopped walking, she stared down at the ground beneath her feet, she like to hunt barefoot, so they were muddied and bloodied.

“He was a mess when I came back, he welcomed me back with open arms, his thoughts were oppressive in their sadness and apology. He became a machine without us, I… I just wished you had come back sooner.”

“I thought you had Rosalie.” He laughed, she felt her mouth quirk up also. There was certainly no love lost there. Antagonistic was perhaps the kindest descriptor.

“No… it was always you.” Her eyes flashed up to his face to decipher his meaning. His phone rang then and she cursed. It was Alice, they needed to return fast.

Invariably, as in her life, things began to go wrong.

The murder rate in Seattle was increasing at an alarming rate, despite them keeping a close eye on it, it became clear this was a problem. Upon their return Edward explained in depth of the problems they had had with a local coven who had begun to track Esme, they had managed to get rid of two of them, but it was the final female who was the problem. Trouble also seemed to follow Esme.

As on top of this final female they believed that there was a newborn army in Seattle. Upon their return they were sat in the dining room, all in their places. Edward went to Carlisle’s right hand side, while she hung back unsure of her place. Apparently as they returned to Esme’s place someone had been in her room, his scent was everywhere. Jasper and Emmett at that time were trying to track the stranger.

Carlisle looked wild with worry.

The television was on low in the next room while they reported on the rise in murder in Seattle. A nasally blonde was explaining the spike in murders. Esme surprisingly did not look as terrified as would have been expected. Her heartbeat was elevated but outwardly she looked calm.

Jasper and Emmett returned home soon after, “I’m afraid the scent disappears around twelve miles out.” They took respective places beside their wives.

More bothered about where she should sit she realised she was being ridiculous and sat at the opposite end of the table so she was facing Carlisle with three seats in between her and the two men.

“We should notify the wolves.”

“Run patrols.”

“Always make sure someone is around Esme.”

Suggestions were being thrown around readily, but it was all localised.

“What about Seattle?” Finally she spoke up.

“We’ll take care of it soon, but Esme is our first and main priority.”

“Of course, but the Volturi will come soon enough. You don’t need to invite them into your home and show them your human girlfriend who knows the only secret.” She did not mean to sound so cruel.

“They already know.” Carlisle looked guilty.

She knew this. “I don't want to know.” She breezed from the room then. This was not her problem. This was not her coven.

Sitting upon the front stairs she stared out into the night, wrapping her arms around herself. No one came to her. She sat alone.

*

1987

“Revolution?”

“They never work. You need a massacre. A behind the scenes, inside job.”

“Chelsea?”

“Obviously.”

There was five of them, she was the least important member so she stayed silent. It was an accident, how she had ended up in a revolution to end the Volturi. They had killed Angela, her best and closest friend. Angela and Michael. Without thought they had been ripped to pieces. She was angry. That was why she was there.

“Charlie.” He was very old, and that definitely was not his name but he had introduced himself to her as that, helping her and pulling here away from the crime scene. His eyes flickered to her and he immediately left the table, he followed her outside, away from the others.

“You alright Bells?” He had even given her a nickname, she loved it. He reminded her of her human father.

“I don’t think this is going to work.” She was aware of the blasphemy she was uttering. “They’re corrupt, and I believe something needs to change. But… the five of us?”

“I know… I know…” He rubbed his jaw, he was sporting a large handlebar moustache making him look much older than his late forties but he would never remove it. “Just wait, wait and see what happens. We can always leave.” He laid a hand upon her shoulder. “But it’s worth fighting for what is right.” He stared into her eyes, imparting important information.

“I know.”

However, it was not her nor Charlie who was the traitor.

*
2006

The wolves, she was informed were giant six and seven foot shape-shifters from the local Native American reserve. No description however prepared her for the large group that stood across the clearing from her, they were truly something.

Edward came and stood beside her as Jasper moved to the front, he had been placed into the leadership role. One he was good at, but clearly not comfortable with, so she tried to send him positive emotions.

When it came to their turn to try she felt jumpy, not wanted to reveal herself. Nevertheless Edward called her out, it was only fair he reasoned, as she was the only one who he could not hear.

They were stood ten feet apart, she shifted from foot to foot ready, he stood on the balls of his feet lithe. Then it begun. He launched himself directly towards her, head-first, he was the newborn this time. She pinned him easily enough. Then they switched, and she came head on, and he managed to get around her and pinned her. Something flicked in both their brains then, she could see it in his eyes, something she had seen that day all those years ago.

Rage.

They began to attack each other, lightening strike attacks, ripping and tearing. Snarls and hisses escaping from them. Years upon years of built up anger and aggression came pouring forth. It was then she realised she deserved it, and some part of her wanted him to finish the job, the job that the Volturi had not been able to. So she let him grab her and tear, he stopped half-way through but it was too late. The crunch echoed across the clearing and she screamed. Edward was being ripped away from her suddenly, she couldn't look up, as Carlisle bent over her, pressing his hand against her arm. It hadn’t feel fully ripped away, only half, but enough for it to hurt.

“Are you alright?” He whispered carefully brushing the hair away from her face, she nodded wincing as it knitted back together, hopefully in the correct position.

“This is over.” He called out, helping her stand. Edward was being held back by Jasper with Emmett standing close-by. He was not struggling, but nevertheless he was not trusted. “Alice, Rosalie, stay with them.” He helped her into the truck they had come with Esme in, she followed too, slipping into the front seat and letting Carlisle strap her in quickly. “We’ll head back to the house and I can check her arm there.”

“What… what happened? Everything was moving too fast. Are you all right?” Esme twisted in her seat as much as the harness would allow.

“I got what I deserved.”

“Bella.” He admonished her.

“You don’t agree?” She snapped.

“Stop this! Stop fighting! There’s clearly something that caused you all to break apart, and you all need to sit down and talk this out. It has been killing you all for months, I don't even want to think of poor Jasper having to deal with it all.” Esme burst forth, clearly she had been dying to say this for months.

“He just needs to learn to control himself, and she let him do that to her.” Carlisle’s hands flexed on the steering wheel. “I saw.” His eyes connected with hers in the rear view mirror and she looked away.

“Why?” Bella felt a stab of annoyance, but telling her to be quiet would only cause more tension.

“Because I deserved it.” She repeated before falling silent and ignoring them. She didn't even realised they were home until her door was being pulled open and Carlisle was helping her from the car needlessly.

“Snap out of it!” He called suddenly, aware of what was happening. “Bella!” She could feel herself retreating, it was always inevitable, “come inside and I’ll mend your arm.” He was pulling her forward, her body upon autopilot. She was sat upon the couch. Her shirt was pulled away, over one arm and then her hurt one.

She was aware of a gasp in horror. Not Carlisle.

He worked methodically fast, holding the skin back together so it knitted. His fingers traced past scars, new to him old to her. She felt her gut tighten when his fingers touch the break around her neck, similar to her arm. A job half-done.

He slipped a cast around her arm and took her to her room, lying her upon the bed and letting the door close behind him. Her shield began to worm its way inside her mind more and more, each appendage getting cut off, until nothingness. She imagined this was what sleep had once felt like. And she drifted.

*

1998

It was thrilling yet terrifying.

Over a century she had not felt the fear of death, the final stop upon the commute of life, and now. Now it was being called, informing her that her time was nearly up. God. She felt real again. She felt human.

Forced onto her knees in the court of the Volturi, two vampires on either side of her holding her, treason.

Well.

Was it treason when you had sabotaged nearly every step? Nevertheless she could hardly defend herself when her mind was locked to Aro. Like she had assumed not a single Volturi power worked on her, and they had tried. That had been her ace, the only reason why she had been allowed to work alongside them. She was going to be the detonator.

Only someone had blown them up first, and in the wrong way.

She always had known Lauren was a rat.

Aro’s touch filled her with revulsion, but she couldn't even more her head to pull away. So she felt the leathery touch and the sharp jabbing sensation into her mind, it was rebounded instantly and his hand withdrew with a sharp hiss.

He spoke in an unknown language, and Jane stepped forward responding. Cold and calculating eyes fell upon her and then she felt regret, she was not yet ready for death. In fact it terrified her, a cold and sharp regret. She would have done anything in that moment to live, so she gave her life.

*

1947

“Who are you?”

“I could ask you the same question.”

Two pairs of narrowed red eyes stared back at each other from across the pavement, neither moving to attack so the other person resisted also. It was as civilised as vampire got.

“Isabella.” She offered a hand across the vast space between them.

“Thomas.” She quirked up an eyebrow, as he grasped his large fist in her own. He had a long mane of hair complete with a long beard. He looked as if he was not just from another century, but another world. The look was completed with simple labouring clothes, he would not have fit in with the elite with hair like that.

“What’s your real name?”

“Ragnar, but it doesn't flow as well today.” She grinned, he smiled back at her. “Would you like to walk with me?”

So they walked for a long time, round the city, and the spoke. She was fascinated by him, and he seemed to enjoy her company. They spoke of where they had travelled, why they were there, what they thought about everything. The sun had set and rose, and was almost setting by the time they finished their conversation.

“Isabella, would you like to join me as a companion?”

“I… yes!” He reminded her of her father, someone she had not had in her life for a long time, but she still mourned his presence. Carlisle had always been an unknown and Edward had been an adversary then a crush.

She left the small suitcase she had been carrying around with her at the hotel, for the first time in her entire life she was unburdened by possessions. She had the clothes on her back and the man at her side.

“I need a new name. I have had this one for over twenty years. Pick one.” They were sat in a diner together, the smell of coffee strong and nauseating but their heads were so close together she could only smell him. He smelt like the earth, of a time long passed.

She thought for a moment, then feeling childish but knowing she would never knowingly reveal why she whispered the name, “Charles.”

“Charles?” He sat back against the booth, “I have never been a Charles before, I do not like it.” Her face fell at his unmeaning insult. “Charlie. I much prefer.” She let out a laugh.

“Nice to meet you Charlie.”

“Much more of a peasant name, a labourer.” He nodded to her very seriously. “Come, we must go hunt.” Her clothes had been exchanged quickly for someone of a lower class, the silk and light fabrics had torn and had gotten dirty easily. It was easier to move as someone of the lower classes, less expectation and introspection. She had never been one of them and she found herself enjoying it.

*
2006

She came to awareness gently at first, then all at once.

Her body would have been stiff it if could have been. Jasper was sat in the corner of the room reading, his body tensed suddenly and he glanced to her.

“Welcome back.”

She did not respond, instead her hand went to her shoulder, feeling the new join, her shoulder was stiff however and she winced as she rolled the joint.

“Where did you go?” He hovered at the edge of the bed, unsure whether he could sit.

“Away…” She knew it was not a sufficient answer, and Jasper was not for her bullshit. “My shield, it wraps itself around me, allows me to escape.” She bit her bottom lip, a habit thing left over from her human life.

“I couldn't feel you, in fact I couldn't feel anyone. Alice couldn't see anything, Edward couldn't hear anyone. Total blackout for ten miles around you… that’s really impressive.”

“In my days we used to call it fatigue, bed rest was prescribed.”

“It’s called depression now.”

“Vampiric depression.” She had never put two and two together before but it made sense, she let out a laugh.

“Seattle is coming to us, you've missed a lot while you've been out.” He explained then how Alice had seen the cause for all the death and murder in Seattle. It was a newborn army of vampires, and they were heading towards Forks. She was yet to see why, but a date had been set.

“Everyone is out hunting right now. I offered to stay here, it’s nice not to feel everyone else’s emotions for a while. Although I am glad you have returned, everyone was beginning to get nervous although Carlisle said this had happened before?” It was a question, however she ignored it. “Edward has been worried sick, he has spent the last few nights over your bed in vigil. Only the threat of the fight in two days has forced him away to hunt.”

“Two days? So soon…”

“You should probably hunt too.”

“Wait… they’re out hunting? Animals?” He nodded warily, he could not see where she was heading with it. “But if they're fighting newborns, twenty or so of them, would it not be safer to… break the habit?” She felt awkward, but he agreed readily, leaning forward closer to her, as if they were conspiring together.

“I suggested that, but was quickly shot down. Morals first, always.” They left shortly afterwards, hunting in the nearby region, she drank and drank, whenever she disappeared it always sucked her strength away, last time it had been so bad she had to have something brought to her… She waited for Jasper to finish who consumed more than necessary, his eyes were so light, a colour she had never seen upon him before. “I have something to ask you.” She recoiled at his words, those words were never good words. No one informed they were asking anyone a question before they asked it. “You and Edward? Are you in love with him?” She turned away, a high, cool and cold laugh.

“How could he ever love me?”

“I didn't ask that question.”

Her hands balled into fists.

“Do you love him?”

She spun around to face him, eyes narrowed, a snarl upon her face. She stalked towards him shoving him backwards, “why? Why should it matter what I feel?” She shoved him again, he did not fight back and stumbled so he was lying upon his back. She could see how tense he was, how uncomfortable he was to be in such an open position, but he did not defend himself.

“That is my answer.”

She spun away from him pressing her hands against her face. Before she fled, once more.

It began to snow during the night, that was when she knew the estimate of two days was correct. She stayed hidden in the firs, high above the ground so as to leave no scent so she could not be found. When the sun began to rise only then did she move, not wanting to leave them short she moved slowly toward where she had been shown was going to be the fighting ground. They were all there. Waiting.

Five. Only five. No Carlisle. They spun around as they heard her approach, Rosalie did not seem pleased to see her, while the others nodded or smiled at her. Edward’s eyes were tortured, questioning, but she avoided them.

To the other side were the wolves, large, weary eyes stared at her. Fourteen of them. That was pleasant.

“How long?”

“Not long, not long at all.”

He did not approach her and for that she was thankful, instead she worked upon clearing her mind. Leaving it free of vice and anger, instead she allowed the monster to work its way forth, insidiously into her mind, into her actions, into her soul.

Edward called out when he could hear their minds. He called out what they were thinking, their battle plan, which was limited at best. They broke through the trees and did not stop to assess the scene, instead they threw themselves forward at an alarming speed. The other side which had split off entered then at the other side of the clearing, the vampires and wolves splitting into two halves to take them down. She did not move much, instead she waited for the vampire to come to her, to launch itself forward, arms reached to crush her, to tear her head from the shoulders and she had her shield ready and waiting. They dropped like stones. She wasted no time ripping their heads from their body and waiting for her next attacker. There was little fighting, on her part.

That was why it made it so easy for her to detach herself from what occurred before her, as if she was play-acting, now is the time where I detach the head, as if it wasn't really her at all. Before long the last one was dead, and they stood like statues not really believing that it was over. That the threat was over and they were safe.

“They’re gone… they’re really gone. They’re not coming back.” Alice laughed as she was ripped from the future. She felt the relief flood through her body, curling half over her arms wrapped around her body keeping her together, whole.

Footsteps strode towards her and she looked up, Edward with his shirt ripped, a bite upon his arm glistened new and painful in the pitiful daylight. His eyes were black and pained. He stopped before here, mere inches.

Like a storybook, as if they were acting out scenes from a book, she lifted her head opening her arms to him, consent. He was upon her, pressing his hard and cold lips against her own hard and cold ones. She had kissed before, she had done much more before, but now, here and now. It felt like the first time. Her fingers grasped his shirt, before moving around to tugging on his hair in a desperation to get closer to him, so they could be one being, never parted ever. His own hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her close. His own mouth was unsure, there was only lust and reaction. Her legs wrapped around his waist and she felt him beneath her. A groan, a rip of shirt.

Too much, too fast, too much, too… fast.

She dropped her legs, having to push him away, their chest both heaving as if they needed the air, the exhilaration and rush of adrenaline. They stood there on a battlefield, with their foreheads touching one another. She could almost imagine the years falling away leaving them both new and fresh to the world once again.

He would have those green eyes once more, he would be a lawyer, he would ask her to dances and she would say yes. And they would steal kisses under the willow tree in her front garden. And then would marry and have children and they would love each other and be happy and…

“The Volturi!”

No! She took two staggering steps away from Edward who looked physically pained by her actions. They weren’t supposed to be here, they weren’t supposed to come. It hadn’t even been that long. She wasn't ready. She wasn't ready.

“They’re on their way, they’re coming… here.”

“Get Carlisle on the phone.” Second-in-command Edward, having stolen her place. “Get him down here.” Rosalie did as she was told, informing Carlisle to get down here as soon as possible. Grim news was relayed as they all turned to see the plume of smoke billowing from where their camp had been. Well laid plans…

As they waited she dropped her head and began to pray, not that she particularly believed, but the comfort was still there. Edward came to stand behind her, she could feel his eyes on her, his shield desperately scrabbling to get inside, to hear her. But she kept it up. She kept him out.

“Amen.” She whispered it too quietly for any ears to hear, but she imagined that he reacted, that he had heard her, and for a moment she feels at one with him.

Carlisle and Esme appeared and conversation encircled them, tales of Victoria and another newborn, how he was no longer a problem. He mourns her, even as she had tried to take his happiness, he still mourns the life he had taken. Their eyes met for a moment and she scorns him, a mocking look slipped onto her face for a moment. But he saw, and he understood, his eyes hardened. Good. Fuck you.

They appear across the field as if they were floating, Edward positioned himself beside her ready to protect if needed be.

There were four of them, two large black cloaks and two smaller ones. She sagged against Edward for a moment, and her body ached from the memory of hunger as they had starved her for so long. She had thought she would not come back from it, the hunger had eaten away at her. And all that was left was the monster. The monster who killed that boy all those years ago with cunning and skill.

She recognised them. She had only met Jane for a second as she had tried to burn her. But Dimitri and Felix. They had been the guards for her and Charlie.

She panicked, and acted on instinct, like a small, stupid rabbit trying to outrun the fox. She ran from the scene. Not knowing what would happen, only that she had to at least try to stop it. It worked for a few second until the sound of two heavy footsteps appeared behind her, only one had followed her. Hope began to blossom in her mind that she could get away when she suddenly she was tumbling if to the ground. His arms wrapped around her legs.

The fight seemed to leave her body at that moment. Quickly, not that he needed too, he dragged her to her feet, forcing her arms behind herself.

“Why’d you run? Huh?” He shook her and her arms ached with the force he put upon them.

“Because you’re going to kill me. And I don’t want to die.”

He has no answer to that, but she doubted he cared.

Slowly she was dragged back towards the field. Her head had fallen forward, her body refused to respond. Two long hundred years and she wanted more. She hungered for them. Edward was being restrained by Emmett and Jasper, he called out her name as he saw her. His wild eyes were too much for her to bear. She did not look up.

Before the Volturi she was forced upon her knees in front of Jane.

“I should have done this a long time ago Isabella.” She smiled angelic and she wanted to rip her face apart piece by piece. “For being a traitor you are sentenced to…”

“No! Wait! Stop!” Edward struggled against his captors arms, the arms of his family keeping him safe. “Isn’t there anything that can be done?”

She closed her eyes.

She knew him so well.

It worked.

It worked so well.

The plan that she had been aware of, fell into place around her. Edward offering his own life for hers, Jane pretending to consider this. Her blanket shield back in place so no one could use their power. Even Jane. Jane acknowledging it was a good offer but not enough. Alice. Her friend next. Offering a certain length of service, at least she was smarter.

Edward touched her as he passed to join the Volturi, a gentle brush of her shoulder, but she was so mad she could not respond. Not right. Not right. Her mind screamed at her. The plan was only supposed to be a way for her to escape. She had never intended on staying so long with them.

Only then did Demetri let her go, stumbling so she was then stood alongside the new group of five.
“Thank you for taking care of the newborn problem Carlisle,” Jane smiled sweetly, and she watched as the boy she loved was pulled away from her. Just before they cleared the scene she turned back once more, “Thank you Isabella for your service, Ragnar now awaits you with your newfound freedom.” Jane sent her a wide smile, full of teeth and promise. The last thing she saw of Edward was the betrayal etched deeply into his face, he was a wounded man.

Revealing her betrayal Jane must have assumed they would kill her. Part of her hoped they would.