Edward didn't know which emotion to full concentrate and allow to consume him the moment those words came out of Bella's mouth. Her aunt…going to the Volturi? How could she do such a thing to her own flesh and blood? He'd known humans to be deceiving creatures through all the time he's lived but Bella was extraordinary and sweet. How could anyone wish ill towards her let alone her own family. It just couldn't seem to make sense to him. He was infuriated. He was sad…sad that nothing seemed to be going well like Bella deserved. It would have been easy to keep her safe but now her aunt was practically handing Bella over to the enemy. For lack of a better term, they were all screwed.
"You're sure?" he managed to ask her, still trying to make sense of it all. Bella mistook his confusion and anger of the situation as doubt of her abilities and knowledge; something she had grown accustomed to around him.
"You're doubting me? Seriously?" she replied angrily, taking a few steps away from him. She thought everything was going to finally work out between them. She thought Edward had finally come around and was willing to stop with all the questioning. Yet here he was, doubting her? His eyes widen as soon as she stepped away from him, not realizing she'd take his question as a sign of doubt. Yes, there was doubt but not of her abilities.
"No Bella, I don't doubt you," he assured her, internally cursing himself for being so stupid. "I'm shocked if anything that your own flesh and blood would do something like this."
"Oh," Bella breathed a sigh of relief, also mentally chastising herself for allowing such thoughts enter her mind. She needed to put more trust in Edward just as he was doing for her. "I thought vampires couldn't go into shock," she teased.
"Funny," he smirked in response, relieved the recent reconciliation with Bella was not suddenly broken.
It didn't take long for everyone to gather in the living room as per Bella's request. Jasper seemed to already be filled in on the information thanks to Alice, while the others sat around curious at what could have happened so soon. Thoughts seemed to circulate around how successful the first day went, while Rosalie—as usual—sat bored and irritated to be wasting her time on someone she did not care for.
"So, we hear there's news?" Esme was the first to speak. Bella didn't know her for long, but the amount of compassion and love which radiated from her towards her family was evident. If she wasn't mistaken, Esme may have already been feeling protective of Bella.
"Yes, how did everything go today Bella?" Carlisle was next to raise a question. It seems the idea is working with masking your scent, that's a good thing…he silently added. This was only one piece of helpful information. Being surrounded by humans for eight hours seemed to have caused their scent to rub off…while it was several different scents from the different students she encountered…human scent was still there. If you didn't focus long enough trying to differentiate between people, she could easily fool a vampire into believing she was human as well.
"As far as first days go, it went well," she started.
"If you call breaking a guy's nose going well, then yes, it definitely went well," Rosalie snickered from the corner, secretly praising Bella for standing up for herself. She couldn't have done it better herself without risking exposure.
"You broke someone's nose?" Esme asked, concerned.
"Please, he totally deserved it," Emmett scoffed. "He deserved a lot more if you ask me."
"What happened?" Carlisle asked.
"It's not as bad as they make it seem," Bella assured them. "And I watched how much force I put behind the punch. Someone just invaded my personal space and couldn't take no for an answer…I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And I didn't get in trouble either, so we don't have anything to worry about."
"She's right," Edward stepped in, sensing Bella's eagerness to move passed the topic and focus on important matters. He also seemed to relax when Bella took his hand in hers, her way of thanking him for stepping in. "There's a more important matter we need to discuss."
"What's going on?" Emmett asked, his demeanor instantly shifting to one more serious. How could something already be going on…
"It's my aunt," Bella started, looking to Edward for the support she was finally confident he would give. He nodded to her, in encouragement, to continue. "She's going to the Volturri, or she's already gone there."
"Why would she go there…the Volturri are there…" Esme said in disbelief.
"That's the point, she went there to turn me in," Bella told them. "She went with every intention of leading them directly to me."
"What the hell!" Rosalie exclaimed. Everyone turned to her in shock, not expecting her to show she cared so much suddenly what would happen to Bella. "What? Don't look at me like that. Her aunt just signed all our death sentences by ratting her out. We're dead no matter what now."
How could someone do such a thing to a loved one…Esme thought.
This does complicate things; we'll have to leave…Carlisle silently thought, though well aware Edward and Bella both heard him.
"We don't need to leave," Bella assured him.
"You're crazier than I thought!" Rosalie exclaimed, jumping from her seat and now towering over Bella. "You may have no care in the world for what happens to this family, but I will not let harm come to those I love. You did this to us. It's you they want and you tell us we don't need to leave…you honestly expect us to sit here waiting for them to knock down our doors and kills us all!" All through Rosalie's outburst, Bella remained completely calm. Ever since her conversation with her grandmother, she'd realized while she accepted her destiny and was ready for a fight, she hadn't fully developed confidence in controlling her abilities. This moment, for Bella, was a test she placed upon herself. Her instincts were to overreact. Instead, she remained calm and focused on what she wanted to do. No death glares, no forced focus…she simply looked at Rosalie…thought what she wanted to do and willed it to happen. The moment she willed it, Rosalie was sent back—not through the wall like others would have expected—but back in her seat. Every attempt to get back up failed. Bella made sure Rosalie would not be able to stand up from that share until she was good and ready for her to stand back up. Eventually, Rosalie stopped resisting and sat glaring at Bella.
"Now that I have your attention Rosalie," Bella started. "I'll have you know that while I haven't known any of you for very long, I care for all of you as though you were my own family. I would never put any of you at risk. I hope you all understand that. I would not stand here before you, telling you we do not need to leave if I didn't already know staying, for now, would be safe for us all."
"Please, explain," Carlisle requested, still impressed with Bella's show of control of her powers.
"I've talked to grams. She's cast a spell completely wiping out all memory of me and my abilities before she met with the Volturri. She won't have any information to offer them," she explained. "However, that isn't stopping Aro from sending out a search party. They'll be looking on the east and west coast, sunny states specifically…"Bella stopped herself from continuing offering all information. She had her own plans for Jane. And she would make sure she was ready to eliminate the threat.
"So then we should be fine for now," Emmett said. "We'll just be on the lookout. Eventually they'll leave when they come up empty handed."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Jasper told him. I know how it works…if they send who I think they will…they'll expand their search without Aro's instructions..
"You're right Emmett," Bella said, ignoring Jasper's thoughts. She didn't want anyone involved when it came to Jane or any of the Volturri members.
"No, I think Jasper has a point Bella," Edward told her, looking her in the eyes. He could tell she was hiding something.
"What are you thinking Jasper?" Carlisle asked, needing all the information to figure out the best course of action.
"I think they will expand the search with or without Aro's direct instructions," Jasper told everyone. "It'll only be a matter of time before they start suspecting any vampires in our area. They may even track down vampires to see what they know. We shouldn't take this news lightly. We have to be prepared in case they show up here."
"Or if Jane shows up here," Rosalie threw in.
"I'm sure we'll be fine," Bella countered.
"No, he's right Bella," Emmett told her. "We need to be prepared even if there is the chance."
"So what's the plan in the event that they may there way here," Alice asked. "Say they come questioning vampires in the area. Aro won't be with them, so our thoughts are safe and therefore so is Bella." But…
"But we cut contact between me and everyone in this room to eliminate any possibility of you knowing me," Bella finished Alice's though aloud.
"What? No," Edward stated. "Absolutely not. You're with us so we could protect you. We can't do that if you stop spending time with us."
"I'm not saying you'll never see me again Edward," Bella tried to explaining, though while she tried avoiding the idea of them coming to Forks, this was the perfect way to slip away and practice controlling and using her powers without the Cullens' around. She needed to prepare herself for facing them alone…without them. "I'm just saying that we need to be careful of me being here in the house with you…if they track down your scent, it'll bring them here. Even if they sense the human, that alone will cause trouble for you. If they focus on my heart beat…that'll make it even worse. It could lead them straight to me and we'll all suffer. I refuse to allow that to happen."
"She's right Edward," Rosalie added. "She can't spend her time here."
"You would love that, wouldn't you Rose," Edward snapped at her. "For Bella to be out of the picture and attention to once again be all around you."
"Get over yourself and think, you idiot," Rosalie spat at him. "What she's telling you makes sense. It keeps all parties safe in the event the Volturri show up here, without Aro."
"I won't be able to stay at the cottage," Bella realized aloud. "They may pick up on Grams's scent because she's a witch. But she's using her magic to block it. She should be safe."
We have a place for you to stay, if you need one Bella…Esme thought.
"Esme, I can't stay here," Bella told her. "I won't put you all at risk."
"Not here," Esme assured her. "A property not too far from here, secluded in the woods. Our scent isn't there…you can stay there. You should be safe."
"None of us would be able to ever go there if we want to avoid our scent to be traced to that location," Edward added, making sure everyone knew this. I'll find a way to be there with you Bella. I won't leave you alone in this…
"Edward, you'd be taking a risk doing that," she shook her head, not agreeing with him. "It'll be fine. I'll get the area protected by charms so no one but me can get near the area. We'll have to be careful at school. If they turn up there…that could potentially blow it for us as well."
"She's right," Alice said. "Not just for her protection, but for ours in regards to exposure."
"So then what now?" Emmett asked. "We limit how much we see and hang out with Bella and hope it works? How is that protecting her?" This is crap, let them come. We'll fight off each and every one that gets close to the area…
"Emmett, if we go looking for trouble with the Volturri, we might as well be handing ourselves over," Edward told him. "This will work. I'm sure they won't even set foot in Washington."
"I'll get in touch with my contact in Volterra and see what Aro is planning," Carlisle said as he stood. "No matter what, we will figure it out." Don't worry Bella, I'm sure it will not come to a confrontation…she smiled at him, her way of showing she agreed but she also knew better. She was simply waiting for a confrontation…she would start with Jane. She had a month to get ready for her. And she would be.
The search along the west coast had been underway for almost three weeks and Felix was growing tired of the same boring routine, especially since they've come up empty handed in each city they've scavenged.
"How long are we meant to be on this pointless journey?" Felix mused aloud. "We could be feasting with the others, and what do we get? Stuck searching among these humans as though we'll find anything." The moment he finished, he was on the ground screaming in excruciating pain as Jane stood not too far over him, unleashing her powers on him.
"You do not speak ill of our Master," she simply stated. "Do not question our orders. We are to protect him at all costs. Do you understand me?"
"Y-yes—ssss" he barely said through the pain. As soon as she stopped using her powers against him, he relaxed taking an unnecessary breath of air. "Must you use your powers to prove your point Jane?" She simply smirked. No, she didn't need to use her gift. That didn't mean she didn't enjoy using it to torture others.
"This is the last place," He told her. "There's nowhere else to look and we're empty handed. Aro will not be pleased."
"You head back and report our findings," she told him.
"And what will you do?" He asked, not able to find any good reason to stay in such a horrid place.
"I will continue the search," Jane said to him. "That is all you need to know. Tell our Master I will not return empty handed."
"Very well," Felix was off on his journey to Italy while Jane took her journey up North. She was familiar with the covens who lived in the area; she would go there and torture every vampire necessary to get the information she needed to make her Master proud of her.
Within the next week, she had been to Seattle, Olympia and Port Angeles. Her current stop was Forks, Washington. More specifically, she stood staring into the distance where the scent of five vampires had taken her. Forks High School. She observed the interactions of the students who circulated outside between classes and noticed the Cullens' as they kept to themselves switching as well. She was aware of their suspicious lifestyle, surviving on animal blood and living amongst the humans. Aro allowed this as long as they did not threaten exposure. Jane secretly would have enjoyed turning them over to Aro with the false accusation that they have threatened exposure, though he would learn the truth. The game itself would have been fun to initiate.
What Jane hadn't noticed as she spied on the human student body of Forks High was the very person Aro had sent her to find. While Jane's focus was on the Cullens and every other student, Bella—who had secretly taken the month to strengthen and use her abilities and magic—spotted Jane from her spot near the school. Jane's thoughts gave no indication that Bella, herself, had been spotted. She took that as her cue to stay far away from the Cullens in order to make her move.
The Cullens were currently under the impression that Bella was still in the process of learning her abilities. But behind closed doors, Bella had practically mastered her abilities with the intention of taking the battle to the Volturri if need be. This moment, with Jane here just as her Grams said she would be, was her chance to take her out.
It was convenient that Jane wasn't paying careful enough attention, for Bella had already made it to the opposite side of the woods behind where Jane stood spying.
Look at those pathetic Vampires…it would be so easy to let Aro believe they have exposed our secret…it would be fun to toy with them…I'll have to follow them later…make my presence known…
Bella heard Jane's thoughts from where she hid. She was much better at picking out people's thoughts and shutting them out. Hearing the threat Jane posed on her family alone was the motivation Bella needed to confirm taking Jane out permanently was what she needed to do. To protect her family. Without hesitation, Bella focused on Jane and in less than a second, Jane was sent flying back taking several trees with her on her journey deep into the woods and away from public eye. She needed her far away not only to avoid the humans of seeing what would happen, but she needed to get far enough away that the Cullens would not be able to hear what was going on. They wouldn't suspect her gone until she didn't show up at the end of the school day. For the past month, Bella didn't spend much time with the Cullens on school grounds to avoid suspicion, though her relationship with Edward had grown stronger. He suspected her secrets, but respected her wishes to keep things private. If only he knew…
When Jane finally landed in Bella's chosen location, she struggled to stand and comprehend what had happened. Bella still remained hidden from Jane's view so based on Jane's view, she had been attacked by something completely invisible.
What the hell! Bella heard the anger in her thoughts and her need to use her powers to destroy whoever it was to attack her.
Once again, Bella used her powers to throw Jane back into the trees behind her. Though this time, when she landed, two trees on either side of Jane suddenly collapsed on top of her. Of course, this wouldn't hinder a vampire. Jane merely broke through the trees from below and landed in a crouch, ready to fight.
"Show yourself!" She demanded. "You dare take on the Volturi guard!" The sooner I use my powers and kill you, the sooner I can move on to my business…Though what Jane wasn't capable of doing, was actually fighting. She had never come in contact with someone who wasn't affected by her powers. They always worked before. As a result, she never had to learn to fight. This was already working in Bella's favor.
"Is the Volturi guard supposed to scare little ol' me?" Bella asked, menacingly as she stepped into the field. Jane glared at Bella, but did not resort to using her powers so quickly. She could smell human scent on her. I guess a snack could come in handy while I find my attacker…
"Do all humans wander alone in the woods, or are you particularly stupid," Jane taunted Bella, not realizing that it was Bella who attacked her. "I didn't plan on stopping for a snack, but you'll do." Jane sneered but when she went to move forward, nothing happened. Without her realizing, Bella had used her powers to control whether Jane had the ability to move or not. Bella willed her still and it happened. Jane was defenseless.
"I wouldn't try fighting it," Bella told her, taking a seat on the ground enjoying the moment. "Despite your best efforts, you won't be able to take a single step from where you currently stand."
"What?" Jane said in disbelief. She struggled to take a step…anything…but nothing happened…just as Bella said. That was when the realization hit her…Bella had done this. She glared at Bella once again. "You!? You're doing this!" No human is able to do this, what is this trickery!
"Neat trick, isn't it? "Bella asked, pretty proud of herself.
"Free me, human! And I may just spare your life!" Jane ordered. I will enjoy killing you slowly…
"I don't think you are in any position to bargain lives with me," Bella told her. Jane had had enough. She focused intently on Bella, unleashing her power on her. She was taken back when nothing happened. Bella wasn't laying, screaming out in pain…What is wrong with my powers!
"Oh, your powers are completely intact," Bella assured her. "They just won't work on me. Nothing you do will work on me, especially since I have the upper hand."
This is impossible…no human ever escaped my wrath…
"But, am I human?" Bella taunted. I can smell the human all over her…what is she? "You're not very bright are you Jane?" Jane's eyes flew to Bella, surprised at the use of her name.
"Who are you!" Jane demanded. That scent…wait…there's multiple human scents…they cannot be her own….
"Now you're getting it," Bella smiled. "It's a shame, really. You should've stayed away Jane. You should have stayed in Volterra and left me alone."
"When I get my hands on you, you will be begging me for your life!" Jane screeched. "Do you hear me? I don't know what you are, nor do I care but I will kill you!"
"Those were the orders, weren't they?" Bella continued. "To kill on site." In that moment, Jane realized who Bella was and suddenly, she feared her own life.
"You won't get away with this!" Jane yelled. "There are others here in Forks who will find you and kill you." Damn it, why did I send Felix away…
"Felix is long gone," Bella told her. "We both know that. It's just you and me. And I'm sorry, you're too much of a risk." Bella didn't let Jane get another word in, though it didn't go unnoticed that Jane continued trying to use her powers against Bella. And with Jane unable to move, it made Bella next move rather easy. Jane needed to be gone. Bella willed her death. Bella willed Jane to obliterate from where she stood and in that moment that Bella's thoughts became more concrete, a high pitched scream filled the air as Jane was blown to bits, leaving nothing in the place where she once stood frozen in place.
Bella tried convincing herself she did the right thing. It would have been either Jane's life or her own. Bella knew Jane's plans for the Cullens once they arrived at the house after school, and she couldn't and wouldn't allow them to be hurt because of her. Bella was pulled out of her thoughts when her phone started ringing. She knew who it was.
"Grams," she breathed a sigh of relief as she answered the phone.
"You've done well, Bella," her voice sounded through the other end of the phone.
"You saw," Bella said matter of factly.
"I did and you did the right thing," she assured her. "Jane was the first who needed to go and if you hadn't done what you did, all of us would be in danger. You've protected your family. Your mother would be proud."
"I know Grams," Bella tried to sound convincing, but the truth was she was afraid of her powers. She was afraid of losing herself if ever having to use her powers in the way she had just done against Jane.
"You are in control Bella," her grandmother told her, as though reading her thoughts.
"I know Grams," Bella told her again. "What's next?"
"They'll suspect something when she doesn't return," she told her.
"How long until the next one makes an appearance?" Bella asked.
"Alec won't make an appearance for a month an half," she answered. "He was Jane's brother."
"Grams, this is ridiculous," Bella told her. "Why sitting around taking them down one at a time over the next few months. There has to be a way to get them all at once and just get it over with."
"Bella, you are not setting foot in Volterra," her grams ordered.
"I don't understand why not," she admitted. This had been an ongoing disagreement between her and her grandmother.
"You are most vulnerable there Bella," her grandmother explained. "They do have you aunt and will use her as a weakness. You need to understand that with you there or not, your aunt will not make it out of there. She is barely alive as we speak. But this is the path her resentment has taken her. You need to accept this or it will help to destroy you. Just wait for him to be in Forks."
"Ok," Bella gave in. "I'll wait here. I'll be ready."
Bella left the field and headed back to the school, making it in time for the last bell to ring. She'd missed the last two periods, partly due to what went down with Jane and the other part attempting to come to terms with what she did. No matter how much she tried to convince herself it was for the best, she was still scared of herself.
She came into the parking lot, searching for Edward and the others. She saw Mike standing by his car with his group of friends. When he made eye contact with her, he instantly looked away, afraid of her. He'd finally taken the hint and started to stay away from her.
"Bella!" she heard Alice call for her and made her way over to where Alice was standing. One look at Bella and she could tell something was wrong. What's going on? Bella shook her head, not wanting to talk about it.
"Are we ready to go or what?" Rosalie asked, annoyed with the delay. Should you even be standing with us right now, risk and all…Rosalie taunted Bella through her thoughts. Bella couldn't help but glare at Rosalie. She didn't use her powers on her, like the others braced themselves for. It surprised them to see her in control…after all, she made it seem as though her control was still a work in progress.
"Leave her alone Rose," Edward said, taking Bella's hand and leading them to the car. She hadn't shown up at Biology and he was worried. He knew better than to ask about it with everyone around.
Everyone piled into the car and headed over to the Cullen house. Bella, can we talk alone when we all get back…Edward silently asked her. She nodded her head slightly. She was glad he was first to ask because that was her intention when they got back. She needed him before she broke down in front of everyone.
"So I know you shouldn't stay long, but Jane or anyone else haven't been in the area and I was hoping to do a girls night…"Alice said as they pulled up to the house.
"It's too risky!" Rose spat, not wanting Bella to put them in risk even more than she apparently was.
"I think if Bella wants to, she should," Emmett chimed in. "She's been avoiding the house like a plague for months, it'd be nice to have the whole family together" It's whatever you want Bells…
"I think I need to lay down, if that's ok," she told them. "Alice, we can do that tomorrow night if that's ok with you?"
"That sounds great!" she jumped up and down in excitement. "I'll get started on the plans!" While everyone else headed inside, Bella took Edward's hand. Where would you like to go to speak privately? He silently asked. Instead of answering, she just started leading the way to her cottage, the place Esme had given to Bella to stay. None of the Cullens had been there, because of the risk of the vampire scent being traced to the location.
All the charms Bella set up also made it difficult for any unwelcome visitors to pass through into the clearing. However, Bella was leading Edward into the location willingly. Being here alone caught him by surprise.
"Bella, what are we doing here?" he asked, instantly worried about putting her in danger. "It isn't safe, you know that."
"It's fine Edward," she told him, leading him into the cottage. "The charms are up and no one who isn't invited can get passed them. We're safe. Even your scent is masked here."
"That's a relief," he smiled, relaxed knowing he could potentially spend more time with her there. "You weren't in Biology today, I was worried about you…"
The thought of where she was and what had happened finally caught up to her and she couldn't control keep it bottled in anymore. She could feel herself close to breaking down in front of the one person she needed to comfort her. Of course, she'd have to tell Edward the truth. But that would mean she'd have to tell him about Alec and she wasn't sure if she could do that just yet. He needed to know…but he wouldn't let her out of his sight if he knew.
"Bella, what is it?" he was at her side the moment as soon as he sensed something was wrong, cupping her cheeks trying to comfort her. What's wrong, love? She wrapped her arms around his neck; instantly his arms were around her in a tight embrace. He was worried about her. Not knowing what was wrong wasn't helping the situation at all.
"Edward…I'm scared," she told him through her tears.
"What are you afraid of, love?" he asked, trying to find a way to help her. You can tell me anything, you know that Bella…
"Myself." She whispered and gave in to her tears.
A/N: It's been a long time since my last update…but I'm hoping to remedy that and update this story as much as I can. I want to see this through to the end, so we're on our way there…hope you liked the chapter!