Moving was tedious, it always was. Renee had been dragging Bella over the continental US for as long as Bella could remember. It had slowed down after Nonna Higginbotham died, and left Bella her grimoire. Renee had tried to keep it from Bella, but the book always somehow ended back up in her possession. Like magic.
Bella had always been different, out of step with the rest of her peers. She wasn’t ever that happy-go-lucky kind of girl. She was more serious, focused on her studies, on keeping the house running. Renee would always tell her to loosen up, to go and be interested in things that other kids her age were interested in. But Bella just couldn’t. She always had too much on her mind. She had a flighty mother to look after, grades to upkeep, chores to complete and magic to harness and control.
Where magic must have skipped a generation in Renee’s case, Bella was overflowing with it, Her aura was like a second skin. It made people, mortals, think she was intimidating and mysterious. It was the main reason that Renee had made them move to Arizona from Massachusetts after Nonna died. The whispers that followed Bella everywhere, whispers that came from people like Bella and from those that weren’t.
Sometimes, Bella wondered if Renee was jealous that she couldn’t use magic. She always said she wasn’t, but Bella couldn’t help but wonder. Bella loved her mother and Bella was sure that Renee loved her too, but the woman seemed to be very critical of her daughter. Renee would never miss an opportunity to comment on Bella’s lack of social skills, on her lack of interest in her peers. She would say how she wished Bella could be like other kids her age, for her to be normal . Renee never said it exactly like that, but that was the hidden meaning that Bella always picked up from her mother. But Bella could never be normal, not with magic, an undercurrent that lived just beneath her skin.
When Renee met Phil, everything changed. Not for worse or anything. Bella believed that Phil was very good for Renee, he made her feel young again and he took care of her. Bella could relax a bit, knowing that she didn’t have to constantly worry about paying bills, doing grocery shopping and paying rent. Bella still did chores, but she wasn’t overloaded with everything she had to do. And it was nice, for a while. But then Renee’s nagging got worse. Wth how much free time Bella suddenly had, Renee started pushing harder and harder for Bella to fill her time with more normal activities. Bella resisted for the most part, but she couldn’t help but feel like she wasn’t living up to Renee’s expectations. Like she was a failure and a disappointment, that Bella wasn’t the daughter that Renee had always wanted.
That would have been hard enough to bear on its own, but Bella was also a fledgling witch, half-trained. Nonna had tried to teach her everything that she could, but she had died six years beforehand. Bella only had the grimoire to guild her. There were no True Witches in Arizona to teach her and they weren’t exactly welcome in Massachusetts. Bella didn’t know exactly why, she only knew that something bad had happened when she was about four years old. Bella had since been there to visit, but never for more than a week, and the True Witches there always glared at her, as if she was the scum of the earth.
The grimoire could only teach her so much. It contained the majority of their families’ history, family rituals and rites. It contained information on crystals and herbs and their uses. Spells and potions, good and bad. It had summoning magic and how to talk to spirits and the Fae, how to respect them properly and how to make deals with them. There were some comments and hints on how to control her power, but nothing super in depth. Nothing that would tell her who she was supposed to be, what kind of witch she was supposed to be. Though, Bella thought, that was probably something she would have to figure out on her own. The grimoire was more like an informative pamphlet than a step-by-step training manual.
The only thing that had been helping Bella control her powers was meditation. Nonna had told her how important meditation was to a witch, so Bella meditated everyday, almost religiously. And it did help. Bella had a big problem with staying visible. Especially when feeling anxious, embarrassed or noticed in any way. It always started in the fingertips, starting to grow more and more translucent until they turned completely invisible. Then, the process would continue slowly up her arms, until it was like she didn’t even exist. Bella hated any sort of attention being put on her, positive or negative. It’s why Massachusetts was such a hard place for Bella to go to, she couldn’t stand the stares. The whispers.
The Fae Nonna had brought Bella to meet were fascinated by her powers of invisibility. They had managed to help Bella improve, control it better. She could now hide her scent and the sound of her heartbeat, so when she was completely invisible, not even the Fae could find her. But she still couldn’t hide the sound of her breathing, but she was working on it. She had modified it as well, after being inspired by the Notice-Me-Not charm from Harry Potter . Like a chameleon, she could make herself seem unnoticeable, without being completely invisible. Like a wallflower, people could just...overlook her. It was useful when someone wanted a volunteer or when her teacher was looking for someone to answer a question. But on the other hand, it had become a crutch and Bella became more and more isolated. People avoided her to begin with, because of her aura, the subconscious of regular mortals registered her as something dangerous. But now, with her chameleon ability, people noticed her less and less. That’s probably why it made the choice to leave Renee so easy.
Phil, as a regular mortal, had never been truly comfortable in Bella’s presence. He tried really hard to be, and Bella appreciated the effort he went to to try to relate to his weird step-daughter. Phil was a very lovely man, which was why Bella felt safe enough to leave her mother with him.
You see, Bella was moving to Forks, Washington to live with her father Charlie Swan, chief of police. Bella had a love/hate relationship with Forks. The place itself was beautiful, overgrown and lush, teeming with life. Bella could feel the Olde Magick, older than man. It was heady and overpowering. It was rejuvenating for any witch, particularly Hedge-Witches and Nature witches. It was the kind of magic that only the Native Americans knew how to harness, a magic that was sacred. And Bella loved just being in it, the honour of just being allowed to exist within its ageless beauty. That was the part Bella loved about Forks. The part she hated, well. It rained almost every single day of the year. When it wasn’t raining, it was either overcast or snowing. One was lucky to ever see the blue sky in Forks. Bella wouldn’t have minded it too much, would have gotten used to it eventually. The thing was, Forks only had a population of 3,545. There were probably that many people in Bella’s high school and grade school combined.
Small towns, it meant everyone was in each other’s business. They were nosy, had to know everything about everyone else at every minute of every day. Bella didn’t know if she could survive the sheer amount of gossip that she would be forced to endure.
Bella had no idea how Charlie dealt with it, for he was an intensely private man. Though, Bella supposed, his lack of speech probably helped with that. Charlie seemed to be adverse to conversation. It was hard for anyone to know your secrets or opinions if you never spoke. That wasn’t to say that Charlie was cold or condescending or unfeeling. He loved Bella deeply, and Bella knew it. She had never, ever felt unloved by her father. He just wasn’t a man of many words. Bella supposed that’s where she got it from. She didn’t really like to speak unless it was necessary. Or maybe she had never met someone she wanted to converse with for more than a few minutes.
It’s not that Bella was stuck-up or she didn’t think others had important things to say. Quite the opposite. She was just...shy, for lack of a better word. Bella just didn’t feel that she had much in common with other kids her age. She loved to read and was fascinated by the macabre. She wanted to be a medical examiner when she graduated. It wasn’t death, per se, that fascinated her. It was the idea of it, how things functioned, why they were built the way they were and why they eventually died. She was fascinated by mortality. Bella also loved history, specifically religion and how that crossed over with the occult. As a witch, she wanted to know why ancient civilisations worshipped their gods and how they practiced their magic. And Bella loved to read. The older the novel, the better. She enjoyed the romanticism of them, how they were little time capsules, commentaries on the time periods that they were written in.
Bella never felt like she fitted in anywhere, but she hoped in Forks, she could try to find her niche.