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The Road Not Taken

Summary:
Epilogue: “She didn’t really seem like that sort of girl,” Tanya commented, her tone just a tad sour, and Demetri quirked a smile.

“I get the feeling there’s a lot more to her than we’ve suspected.”
Sequel to The Road Less Traveled by Daintress of tm_switzerland.The Road Not Taken


Notes:


20. Chapter 20

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1765   Review this Chapter

Edward’s conversations with Aro always felt like power struggles. Today’s was no exception. Aro had all the time in the world, and when he and Edward were ‘talking,’ meetings were rescheduled, and knocks at the door went unanswered. Sometimes he even forewent his usual feeding.

Aro was thrilled, of course, at the prospect of a wedding. Apparently no one had bothered with such things among the Volturi in at least a century, and Aro was curious to see how wedding customs had changed in the last hundred or so years.

Edward could tell that he was vastly pleased to hear that Carlisle and the others would be moving to Europe, and particularly that Alice would be present. Aro could tell that Edward wanted him to stay away from Alice. They stood together, Aro clasping Edward’s hand in both of his as though asking a blessing from a Catholic priest, answering one another’s thoughts while Aro’s bodyguards looked on. Hours passed, unnoticed for the most part, by either of them.

It was long after sundown by the time Aro raised his head and released Edward’s hand, but they had come to an agreement on Alice. Aro would certainly do everything within reason to convince her to join him, but he would not coerce her.

Aro sat pondering after Edward left. Alice was certainly a worthy pursuit, but in truth he had what he wanted, for now. He thought long and hard about Bella’s decision to have Marcus walk her down the aisle, a seemingly innocuous bit of information that he had gleaned from Edward’s thoughts. It was undeniable, at least to Aro, that Marcus had begun to care for Bella. No one and nothing had captured his interest since the death of his mate, and though Aro was aware that his feelings were in no way romantic, he had been quite concerned about what would happen in another 97 years when Edward and Bella inevitably left the Volturi. He had already begun planning how to deal with renewed grief in one of his closest and oldest friends. Now, however, he saw a bit of hope. Perhaps if Bella was coming to see Marcus as a father-figure, she would at least stay in touch with him when that time came. And perhaps, just perhaps, she could be convinced to stay indefinitely, which would, of course, suit Aro’s purposes perfectly, as well as relieving him of the burden inherent in dealing with Marcus’ pain. He smiled and dismissed his guards, knowing they would remain just outside the door. It had to be nearly time for Heidi to return. He changed his clothing and awaited the smell of fresh blood.

Bella felt her mouth fall open but lacked the motor skills necessary to close it. She’d tried to raise her eyes slowly. She had noticed first how tiny her waist looked – having babies had forced her hips to widen, and being sick during her second pregnancy had shrunk her waist until it was as tiny as Alice’s. She’d already checked, and her stretch marks were a thing of the past, she didn’t need to pull her shirt up now to see.

Her breasts were larger than they’d been in high school, probably also a result of Charlie and Will, though they were far firmer since the change than they’d ever been in her adult life.

Her neck was long and white, smooth, and scattered with only a few of the lightest freckles imaginable. Her chin was still rather pointed, the overall heart-shape of her face had not changed. Her cheeks had lost all traces of blush – pale, and almost translucent. And then she’d met her own eyes in the mirror and she couldn’t see anything else.

Clearly vampiric, her soul glowed a pale ocean blue, glittering metallic, and flecked through with deeper greens and blues. She had seen all variations of gold, bronze, silver, and red – greens, and even black in the cases of Felix and Caius. She had never seen a color like this one. She imagined her soul had probably started out just blue, but the happy years she’d spent with Jacob among the pack had given her a more earthy, greenish tint, though of course, she couldn’t be sure. She had learned early on not to speculate on how a soul came to be as it was, but simply to read it.

Dimly she heard Heidi asking her what was wrong. Her voice broke into her consciousness slowly, almost as if she’d been under the water she was staring into, and by the time she registered it, Heidi sounded truly concerned. She forced her mouth closed, blinked, and shook her head, but didn’t turn her eyes away. “Sorry,” she whispered. “Wasn’t expecting myself to look quite that way.” In truth, she hadn’t really got a good look at any overall prettiness or lack thereof that her face might possess. Heidi was talking again. Bella comprehended that she sounded relieved and wondered how long she’d been staring at herself. Heidi probably thought she was ridiculously self-absorbed.

The thought brought a chuckle. She WAS self-absorbed, but not in the traditional sense. The longer she stared - the further she looked beyond just color, the more apparent her own personal darkness became. She had never killed anyone, but she had hated her fair share of people. And there was murder in her heart. She could see that plainly. That she hadn’t yet performed the act changed nothing. In her eyes the guilt of Felix’s death shown as though she had already accomplished it. She felt her horror grow at the realization, but couldn’t tear her eyes away. She fell silent.

Heidi didn’t quite know what to make of it. She’d never seen a vampire go into a trance just looking into a mirror. As far as she knew only humans got dazzled by vampire eyes. She tried everything she could think of to snap Bella out of it, short of physically forcing her to turn away. She wondered if she was disappointed in the reflection she saw there, and worried about this Tanya girl being more attractive. It seemed to her that it must be something more, and yet what else could it possibly be?

And she really had to leave. If she didn’t go, she’d be late meeting the ‘tour group.’ She’d spent all week rounding them up, she didn’t want to lose them now! Finally she went across the hall and Demetri called for her to come in before she’d even paused. “Can you stay in my rooms for a while?” Heidi asked him quickly. “Bella’s acting strangely and I really need to get going.”

“What happened?” he asked, mildly interested. He’d had fairly little contact with the newest of the Volturi guard, though she’d always been pleasant enough to him. Heidi explained about the mirror and the girl in Edward’s room. Demetri raised an eyebrow. “Alright,” he agreed, wondering what he was getting himself into. But an image flashed behind his eyelids of Bella turning around to smile at him, hardly a week ago now. He watched Heidi walk to the elevator appreciatively, and then let himself into her rooms. Bella was still standing, apparently captivated, in front of Heidi’s bathroom mirror. He could appreciate that view as well.

As far as Demetri was concerned, Bella was beautiful. Not in the same way that Heidi was, of course, but certainly pretty enough that she shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing Edward away from her. He had watched them both from a distance from the moment he got back from Forks, dragging a very disappointed Felix. Only one kill on an outing had ruined his statistics, and it was all Demetri and Jane had been able to do to bring him home with the treaty intact.

Most of the Volturi guard had watched Edward and Bella, that first year. Everyone remembered the farce that Edward’s suicide attempt had become, over a decade before. Demetri recalled, in particular, how protective Edward had been. Felix had tried flirting with the girl, and been glared at, so he’d resorted to threatening her, and got a snarl for his trouble. Demetri had remained silent, but he now knew that his discretion had earned him no points with Edward. He’d not known the man could read his mind at the time. He’d been thinking what a stunning vampire Bella would make, and what an idiot Edward was for not changing her right then and there, if he loved her as much as he professed. If he loved her so much that he preferred death to living without her. Overall, Demetri hadn’t been that impressed with Edward. He had, however, been impressed with Bella. Possibly Edward had seen that in his thoughts as well.

He watched her as she stared into the mirror, noticing the tiny movements her eyes made, as though she was looking at several things at once, and continued to remember. She’d been cold, shivering even. But she had protested when Edward tried to move away from her to spare her the touch of his cold skin. She’d been afraid. Entirely understandable considering Felix’ uncouth behavior, and the nearly successful suicide attempt she’d just foiled. But she’d spoken back to Caius when he claimed that she would betray the Cullens, and thereby everyone else as well. She’d spoken back. To Caius.

She either had no sense of self-preservation at all, or she was simply the bravest being he’d ever encountered. THAT had impressed him. He’d been impressed, too, as he sat with the others in Heidi’s sitting room during her change. Most of them recalled screaming the whole time. Every second. But Bella had gone sometimes hours at a time without uttering so much as a whimper. And they’d all been so interested to find out what special ability she would end up with. Aro had been so sure....

He looked at her now as she stood, tense, before the mirror. Her long hair curled naturally at the ends, and shone in the artificial light. Her face was pale but not vacant like so many he had seen, not even now. Amelia and Aleena came to mind. Pretty enough girls, but not enough brains between them to read Poe.

Demetri wasn’t known for his long attention span. About the only things he spent more than twenty minutes at a time doing were reading horror novels and having sex. And he’d been watching Bella stare at herself for well over an hour. He shook her shoulder, not bothering to be gentle. It wasn’t as if she was human anymore, after all.

“Bella?”