The Road Not Taken
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.
8. Chapter 8
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1159 Review this Chapter
It was unnerving, after years of utter indifference, to see Marcus sitting in her living room, looking interested in what she had to say, however slightly. She also learned very quickly that he was impossible to offend. When she told him his soul was fractured in addition to being disturbingly dark and violent, he waved it off. It was to be expected, after all, and he honestly didn’t seem to care that she didn’t really like him. He just wanted her thoughts on their abilities. So they sat, sometimes for hours at a time, and discussed the theories in grave detail. Sometimes Edward would join them, standing near the mantle and watching Bella’s face.
Caius, sans bodyguards, had been informed of Bella’s ability as well. He joined Aro and Marcus in watching Bella, noticing whose eyes she would meet and whose she would not, though he never spoke to her about it. On the rare occasions when they were trying to decide whether to initiate someone into the guard, she and Edward would both be consulted.
They were on their way back from such a meeting late one morning when Heidi unexpectedly joined them in waiting for the elevator. “Bella, do you mind if I come up for a minute?” she asked. Bella looked at her oddly. Although she had always been pleasant to Heidi, they had never sought one another out for company before. And as Marcus enjoyed reminding her, she had been a huge disappointment to all of the Volturi who didn’t know about her abilities. She didn’t expect any of the guard to show an interest in her.
“Of course not,” she replied, confused. She glanced at Edward, who looked vaguely amused, and decided that as long as he wasn’t concerned she wouldn’t be either. Heidi, however, looked at Edward with undisguised annoyance. Everyone knew that he could read their thoughts. Having him around was ridiculously inconvenient. But he smiled at her slightly, and she relaxed. At least he wasn’t angry. It HAD been he who mentioned the pictures in the first place.
Edward dropped Bella’s hand as they approached her door, and she smiled up at him for an instant. He registered the sadness in her smile as he always did. Over two years, and it had never faded. He forced himself to smile back. “I’ve got a letter to send to Emmett, so I’m going to run it down to Gianna. Do you have anything you want me to take?” He always offered, but she never gave him letters to deliver. He wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t trust him not to read them, or because she’d prefer he not know who she was writing to. He never asked her which.
Bella shook her head. “Nothing today, thanks.” He nodded and turned away, disappearing into his room. Bella looked after him briefly, then smiled at Heidi.
“He’s very thoughtfully trying not to overhear our conversation,” she explained. Heidi smiled as well.
“He’s pretty good about that, isn’t he? We’ve all been really rude to him about it, but I guess he can’t help it.”
“He really can’t. He tries not to take advantage.”
Heidi shook her head. That was better than a lot of the rest would do, if they had the same gift. Aro, at least, generally asked permission before he read everything in your head. Not that anyone dared refuse. But she was fairly certain that if Felix could read everyone’s minds, Volterra would be an absolutely intolerable place to live. And really, as uncomfortable as it was to know that Edward could read her thoughts, she’d never noticed him using his knowledge against her.
Heidi followed Bella into her sitting room and looked around. She spied the objects of her visit immediately, but didn’t want to just rush over to look. That seemed rude. “I heard from Gianna that you had pictures of your family,” she said hesitantly. “I don’t remember mine at all, and I was wondering if you might...share.”
Bella turned to blink at Heidi in surprise. She wanted to see pictures of the boys? And then she thought back to the Cullens’ excitement over her birthday party, graduation, and the cancelled wedding – the joy they’d felt at sharing in parts of her human life. Seeing the hopeful expression on Heidi’s stunning face made it clear to her that this was the same sort of desire. Heidi didn’t remember her own humanity, so she wanted to share in Bella’s memories. Bella smiled at her, and led her over to the mantle.
“This is Charlie. He’s just finished second grade, I think, so I should be getting a new picture soon. It’s nearly September, isn’t it?” she asked, realizing for the first time how little attention she’d been paying to the passage of time. “And this is Will. He’ll be starting second grade. Embry thought they should start school early in case –“
Bella broke off, biting her lip, and looked over at Heidi. “Well, I don’t know if you’d heard. Jacob – their father – was a werewolf. With Edward’s family living so close to La Push, it’s possible the boys will be, too. Embry – Jacob’s half-brother – thought that if they started school early, they’d have a better chance of finishing before their first transformation. It was a good thought, and they’re such smart boys. I told him to go ahead.”
Heidi, apparently, had heard. She looked neither surprised nor scandalized as Bella had expected. Bella smiled at her again. Heidi really was a very nice girl, when she wasn’t swept away in the bloodlust. Bella didn’t even mind looking her in the eyes now and then, as long as it wasn’t shortly after she’d fed. Her soul shone through them, of course, but it wasn’t frightening in the way that Aro’s or Marcus’ was. Maybe it was only because she was so much younger?
“They’re very handsome,” Heidi replied, looking longingly at the images.
“I have more, if you’d like to see them,” Bella offered, since she seemed eager. Heidi nodded, and Bella dug a few stacks of pictures out of the bottom drawer of her little desk. They sat close together on the couch and Bella explained the pictures, naming each person. The longer they looked, the younger the children got. Finally, there was a picture she and Jacob had had taken of the four of them, shortly after Will’s birth. She ignored her own wan appearance. “And that’s Jake,” she said quietly, finding it impossible to look up to see Heidi’s reaction.
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