“Hello, Mister Whitlock.” Jasper grinned as he walked into the kitchen, removing his boots and looking at the sweet brunette with strange, vivid green eyes. It was an odd tradition, inherently theirs, after his bride had been so pleased to be introduced as ‘Mister and Missus Whitlock,’ after their wedding, with two-wing silverbell still in her hair and a handful of mountain laurel in her hands.
“Well, hello there, Missus Whitlock, ma’am.” He drawled, taking in the sight of the worn saddle on their rough dining table. “You planning to ride the table to town for dinner, darlin’?”
Isabella Whitlock let out a peal of laughter that pulled the smile out on Jasper’s face. “Young Hickory down the road is a damn fool. They went and dehorned a cow, and couldn’t stop the bleeding. They even wrapped the things with cobwebs before riding down to ask for my help.”
“And you made them pay you in an old worn saddle instead of something useful?” Jasper questioned.
“It’s about power and miles and potential, Jasper, not usefulness.” Isabella replied with a sigh. “You know that.”
“I was just teasin’, sweetheart.” Jasper replied, contritely. He didn’t fully believe in the magic she did, or the tales of her mother, but he had to believe some of it, after all he had seen. A saddle was better than the bent piece of wood, broken eggshell, or pretty stone she had collected from others in similar payment. “It’s a fine saddle.”
“It’ll protect you.” She said with a smile. “For as long as I can make it anyway. Make sure you always come home.”
Jasper grasped her around the waist and smiled down at her. “What happens when you wander off? You got a magic saddle too?”
“I’ll always find you.” She replied, hand pressed to his heart.
“I don’t get something tangible to be sure?” He teased.
Frowning, she disappeared into their room, and returned with a perfect white feather from who knew where. “Here.” She said, tucking it into his pocket. “A promise. I will always find you.”
It was strange for the Cullens to have visitors, so it took Esme a bit longer than normal to realize what the knock was. She lived with six others after all, but put down her paint chips and headed to the door. When she opened it, she found a girl who looked like a teenager, but her eyes were old. Esme would have suspected she was a vampire if it hadn’t been for the fact that they were bright green, and that her heart was beating.
“Hello, can I help you?” She paused, noting how nervous the girl looked.
“I...I hope so.” The girl said after a moment. “Is there someone here...that is...do you know a man named Jasper?”
Esme couldn’t help but feel for how nervous the girl seemed, with good reason as they never had humans here. “Do you go to school with Jasper?”
“Oh, no ma’am.” The girl replied, wiping her hands on her jeans. “That is to say...not yet? No, I’m...I’m his wife.”
“Well, good evening, Major Whitlock.” Isabella said pleased,, as he walked into the home with his new rank.
“Always a pleasure, Missius Whitlock,” Jasper replied, beaming proudly at his new uniform. “You’re looking well.”
“Well, we’re having my husband’s commanding officer over for dinner. I had to break out the fine plates.”
Jasper laughed, and leaned down to kiss her. “You are the finest thing in this place.”
Esme blinked. “You’re his wife ?” She repeated. As long as they had known Jasper, all the times they had managed to get him to open up about his past, he had never mentioned a wife.
“Isabella Swan Whitlock, ma’am, a pleasure to meet you.” Isabella replied, with a slight bob, as if she were wearing a dress instead of worn blue jeans. “Is Jasper here?”
Esme rolled this statement around, and then stepped back, opening the door wide. She didn’t smell like prey, and if she was Jasper’s wife, Esme couldn’t turn her away. “He’s not home right now, but he and the rest of our family should be back soon enough. Won’t you come in?”
“That’s very kind, ma’am.”
“Call me Esme, dear.”
Jasper had felt unsettled, as if something was wrong, without knowing why. He had made the sudden decision to head home, only for his eyes to widen in horror as he rode down the dirt road. He didn’t remember how he made it from the horse to kneeling on the ground, pulling his wife into his arms. “Bella,” he breathed. “Bella, darlin’, what happened?” He was trying to keep her head up and put pressure on what looked like a pair of shears stabbed into her gut.
“Jasper.” She wheezed. Her hand raised, as if reaching for him. “Get them out.”
“If I do that, you’ll bleed out.” Jasper said, shaking his head. “It’s staunching the wound.”
“It burns ,” She said, dropping her hand to try and grab it. “Get it out , Jas, you have to get it out .”
Jasper tried to clear around the wound, becoming horrified at the way the skin was bubbling and turning black. Between that and her pleading, despite knowing that removing the shears would make it bleed worse, he pulled out the shears and tossed them aside, immediately putting as much pressure on the wound as possible. “Stay with me, Bella.” He demanded. “Don’t you die on me.”
“Mum…” Isabella managed, looking up.
Jasper glanced up, having never met his mother-in-law only to see a beautiful but strange woman, with a bright green dress and a feather capelet wrapped around her shoulders. “Go for help!” He shouted at her. “She needs help! The doctor…”
“Wouldn’t be able to help her.” The woman said coolly. She sank down on the other side of his wife. “What have you gotten yourself, ma belle dame sans merci ?” She looked over the wound and grimaced. “You must come back to the mounds to heal.”
“No.” Isabella rasped. “I’ll stay.”
“You’ll die, mo dhuine beag. ” Her mother said flatly. “If you come home, in time, you’ll heal and come back.”
Jasper felt tears mixing with the dust in the air and plastering to his cheeks. “She’ll live?”
“Only if she comes with me.” The woman said. “If she stays here, she’ll be dead.”
“Go, Bella.” Jasper said, voice rough. “You said you’d always find me.”
Bella shook her head. “It’ll be too long. You won’t…”
“I’ll wait for you.” Jasper promised. “Go.”
“Look away, Jasper Whitlock.” The woman said, sternly. “When you look back, she’ll be safe.”
Jasper did as the woman instructed, and when he looked back, Bella was gone, as was her mysterious mother, and all that said his wife had been in his arms was the blood on his hands and on the dirt road.
The kitchen was bright and airy, all big windows and polished wood and steel. Isabella gratefully accepted the cup of tea, sat on a stool on the breakfast bar, somewhat awkwardly. “The tea is delicious ma’...Esme.” She corrected, when the woman huffed amusedly at her.
“Now, Isabella, was it?” Esme repeated. “When did you marry our Jasper?”
“You can call me Bella.” The girl offered, before answering. “June twenty-first, eighteen sixty-one.” She swung her legs a little unsurely. “Maybe he doesn’t remember.”
“He remembers most of his mortal life, though he doesn’t speak about it much.” Esme admitted. “If you don’t mind me asking, if you’re that old, how are you…”
“Alive?” Bella finished. “My mother is sidhe, of the line of Finnguala. I was...injured...and mother took me to her home to recover. She made me sleep, forgetting that time...passes differently here.”
Esme stared at her for a long moment. There were whispers about the sidhe in some vampire circles, but they were largely dismissed as myths. “You’re a fairy?”
“Half, actually.” Bella answered. “For giving her a child, she’s ensured that my father is regularly reincarnated, with his memory intact.” She frowned. “I thought Jasper might...but then when I couldn’t find him, I looked elsewhere and, well, found you.”
“Well, I’m very glad you’re here.” Esme said, patting her hand. “Jasper has been lonely.”
Bella smiled shakily. “Hopefully he’ll still…” She trailed off. “I hope I can help.”
Alice frowned, stopping for a moment in the hallway of Forks High. “Alice?” Edward asked, taking her elbow, and pushing her forward slightly. He didn’t understand what he was seeing in his mate’s mind. It had started out as Esme answering the door, but then there was a kind of hole he had never seen before, and only a few moments later there was another flash, this time with Carlise and Esme both in the kitchen, before the hole seemed to devour her sight.
Alice came out of it with a shake, suddenly pale. “I don’t know. I’ve never...there’s never been anything like that before. We need to get home.”
“What’s happening?” Rosalie asked, herding the family into an empty hallway.
“I don’t know!” Alice said, voice going high and thin. “It’s like I have a blind spot, something I can’t see!”
“Okay.” Jasper said quietly. “We can’t all leave. Rosalie and I will stay behind while Emmett and Edward take Alice home. When they ask, she wasn’t feeling well.”
“I’m not staying behind if there’s danger.” Rosalie hissed.
“We don’t know that there is.” Jasper pointed out, trying his best to calm everyone and be the strategic one. “And if there is, Edward is fastest, and Emmett is strongest, and they can call us if there are any problems.”
Rosalie grumbled, but acquiesced.
Esme wanted to believe the girl, she really did, but it wasn’t her decision alone, and so while chatting politely, she waited for her husband to return. When he did, she hurried into the foyer. “There you are! We have a guest I’d like you to meet.”
“A guest?” Carlisle repeated, shedding his jacket. “Is that wise, Esme?”
“She came looking for Jasper.” Esme replied, in a low voice. “She’s not one of us but she’s not human either...she says she’s half-sidhe.”
“Sidhe?” Carlisle repeated. “I didn’t know if any were still around, with so much iron being used.” He frowned. “What does she want with Jasper? Fae are notoriously tricky.”
Esme fluttered slightly. “Come speak to her.”
Carlisle sighed, but followed, immediately taking in the strange scent of the girl, and the unearthly green eyes. He held out a hand. “I’m Dr. Carlisle Cullen.”
“Isabella Whitlock,” she replied, shaking his hand. “Good to meet you, sir.”
Carlisle’s eyes went wide. “You’re related to our Jasper, then?”
“I am...or I was...his wife. It’s been so long, I wouldn’t blame him if he’s moved on.” Bella managed, trying to look unaffected, but not even coming close.
“How were you separated?” Carlisle questioned, feeling protective of his adoptive son.
Bella winced. “There’s a...strangeness…to the aos sí .” She started, carefully, a strangeness in even her voice as she used the name. “Even half-born like me, are...unusual. I would help people who needed it, but that could breed contempt too.” She swallowed hard. “I was stabbed by a scared human, iron poisoning.” Almost instinctively, her hand went to where the wound had been. “It would have been fatal, but my mother, who’s fullborn, came when I was dying in Jasper’s arms, and put me to sleep in her barrow.” She pursed her lips. “When I woke, I came looking.”
“So long?” Carlisle asked, lips pursed.
“Time passes differently.” Bella explained. “It was far too long. I don’t know if he…but I needed to find him. I need to see him.”
Carlisle didn’t have to be an empath to see and hear the pain and yearning in her voice. “All right.” He agreed. “It’ll be some time yet…”
As if belying that, Edward, Emmett, and Alice arrived home. Carlisle knew right away, of course, but he had no way of knowing what the girl in front of him could tell, and Jasper wasn’t with them. “But you are welcome to stay until he comes home.”
“You are very kind, Dr. Cullen.” Isabella replied with a grateful smile.
Carlisle noted that she, like all the stories of the fair folk, was polite, but deftly avoided saying thank you, despite obviously meaning so. It lent credence to her story. Many people in the modern age didn’t know that.
“What is she?” Alice’s voice was high and panicky, as his three children came into the room. “I can’t see her, or anything around her!”
“She’s a guest, Alice.” Esme scolded, gently. “She’s here to see Jasper.”
“I can’t tell you if you can trust her.” Alice protested. “I can’t tell you anything . Everything around her is dark!”
Edward placed a hand on Alice’s shoulder. “Come on, honey.” He said, calmly. “Let’s head back and tell Jasper he has a guest.”
“Emmett can stay.” Edward said, with a glance at his brother who nodded.
“I’ll stay too.” Alice said stubbornly. “Unless you can read her?”
Slowly, Edward shook his head, and sighed. “Fine, we’ll stay. Emmett, can you go get Jazz?”
“Yup.” Emmet said, with a grin, this was the most entertainment he'd seen in months. “Be right back.”
The kitchen descended into a frosty silence.
Emmett arrived vampire-quick back at the school, and caught Jasper’s attention with a forged note from Carlisle. He then slid into class next to Rosalie.
“Mr. Hale, Dr. Cullen has excused you for the rest of the day. Please read chapter six.” The teacher said, bored.
Jasper blinked, surprised he would be summoned, and that Emmett would return. He shot the burly vampire a look.
“You have a guest.” Emmett said, too low for anyone else to hear.
Jasper left the class, puzzled. What kind of guest could set Alice off so much? It couldn’t be Peter and Charlotte. They would have called, and Alice always could predict their visits. Besides, Emmett had said ‘ a guest ’ and not ‘ guests .’ Who else would come to see him ?
He ran most of the way to the house, puzzled when he got close. There was a strange scent, but it wasn’t food . Something earthy and wild, mixed with apples and something sharp. He slowed, and walked up to the door, trying to decode it.
“I’m here.” He said normally, knowing his family would hear him, letting his nose carry him to the rarely used kitchen, where Edward, Alice, Carlisle, and Esme were gathered. Then he spotted the other person, and froze.
“Good day, Major Whitlock.”
He hadn’t heard that voice in far too long. His mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, shocked, and then somehow, something came out, accent twanging through despite himself.
“A joy, as always, to see you, Missus Whitlock, ma’am.”