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What Music They Make

Summary:
When an unexpected conflict with the Volturi brings Jacob back into her life, Bella finds that being a vampire only makes it even more complicated for her to be in love with two people.


Notes:


3. II: Cantante

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6369   Review this Chapter

chapter II cantante



They could hear some of the things being said upstairs because even as Marcus, Aro, and Carlisle were trying to keep their voices low, some of them were getting so frustrated trying to reason with each other that they raised them sometimes.

The rest of them were all gathered on the bottom floor in a confounded silence. Bella and Edward sat on the bottom step of the stairs.

“This can’t be happening,” she said quietly, breaking the prolonged silence at last.

Edward put his arm around her waist. “This will sound awful, but…they are lucky that they won’t bother to go after their families, too. When they wouldn‘t even make an exception for you…”

Stop,” she said, shaking her head and covering her face with her hands, hating to even think about it. “Don’t say it so easily like that! We can‘t just let them do this!”

“Bella,” Alice said in a low, steadily warning voice. “We will talk about this. But not right now.”

She tried to calm down as she continued to sit in silence, looking around at everybody’s faces and trying to see what they were thinking. How she wished she had Edward’s gift right now. Instead of…

No. No. Not that. She buried her face in her hands again, wanting to just think about nothing, to be able to go into something like sleep again for once. She felt like she was going to explode out of her skin.

Edward held her close against him, but she didn’t seem to feel it, was hardly consciously here. All of her was just full of faces and knew nothing else. Sam. Billy. Quil. Emily. Embry.

Jacob.

It was suddenly as easy to picture them as if she had last seen them all yesterday.

Years ago, when the Cullens were still gone from Forks, Jacob had once brought Bella along to Emily’s house when everyone in the pack was coming over there for dinner. Bella had helped Emily wash dishes afterwards and they ended up sitting at the table having their own conversations while the boys talked and laughed loudly in the next room.

At some point, they had started talking about less light topics than before. Bella told her how much it scared her to have Jacob and the others out trying to get Victoria all the time.

“I get worried, too,” Emily admitted. “But she’s only one. We should be more worried about the people she might end up killing before they finally get a chance at her. One of the boys might get hurt, but it would take a lot for one little vampire to actually kill one of them. All it takes is one little bite for somebody else and they‘re done for,” she said with a dry smirk.

“What would happen if a vampire did bite a werewolf?” Bella wondered. “Would that hurt them? Do you know if they could actually be turned into a vampire?”

Emily looked thoughtful for a while. “Well…according to what I’ve been told, theoretically one could. Quil’s grandfather has actually told me about one of our legends that’s about that.”

It was not one of the most well-known Quileute legends, she explained, and one that the Elders didn’t tend to take as seriously and weren’t so quick to believe every word of. A few of the protectors of the past were known to have left their people to become wolves forever because they all had their own stories, but this one, Emily said, was about one like that whose fate was quite different from the others’.

This protector was a young man named Qahla who had always had a terrible lack of control over his feelings. He had a short temper and got into fights a lot. He had a bad reputation for falling in love with women fleetingly and breaking their hearts when he always then found someone else he liked more. Then when he was eighteen he lost his temper having an argument with his father and accidentally killed him when he burst into a wolf. The pain of his guilt was so unbearable for him to carry as a human that he left the tribe and wandered as a wolf, deciding he would never change back. He felt being a wolf was the fate he deserved if he could only cause harm with the feelings and passions of a man.

He went hunting for cold ones, following their scents, for as a wolf it was easier to blame all of his suffering on them and their existence and see it as so simple a problem. One day when the sun was shining, after he had been wandering like this for many months and strayed very far from his home, on his hunt he reached a bright clearing in the forest where a female vampire was standing right in the sunlight and sparkling vibrantly. She had her face turned up toward the sky with her eyes closed, as if she must have been enjoying the warmth of the sun on her on this rare unclouded day. But as she heard and smelled him approach, she opened her eyes and looked toward him.

Something uncanny and unexplainable happened when Qahla saw her, for he knew he should only feel hate for one of the cold ones, but the woman was so breathtakingly beautiful and had such a gentle face that just looking at her made his heart break. He did not want to destroy her. The emotions that filled him just at the sight of her were so overpowering that without being able to control it, he changed back into a man.

The female was just as transfixed staring at him. As she started to come near him with her eyes burning red and a determined look on her face that had suddenly started to look less benign, he realized at once that she wanted his blood. Just before she would have stopped hesitating, though, another female vampire appeared from the trees and got between them with a threatening growl. The two rushed together with a loud crash like the clapping of thunder, the ferocious noises they made echoing through the trees. They were fighting over him. As Qahla saw this it seemed to bring his sense back, and he changed back into a wolf so he could defend himself.

Even though he knew he may not be able to fight two of the cold ones together, instead of running away he went after the second female who had appeared, who he could easily tell was stronger than the other. He could see that if he didn’t kill her the beautiful woman was going to die fighting for him, and for some reason he did not understand he could not let this happen.

But as he attacked, they surely thought he meant to hurt both of them and they both fought back. When the first female climbed onto his side, he managed to throw her off of him, but not before she bit him. Then he was able to quickly kill the other.

By then he could feel the venom from the bite starting to spread and burn. He knew that it was going to slowly and painfully kill him as long as he stayed as a wolf because it could not change this body. He looked at the vampire he had found here, into her beautiful eyes that were cautious and alert as she prepared for him to attack her as well, and sunk to the ground in resignation. She came to stand in front of him with a pained look.

“Why did you save me from her?” she demanded.

Of course, he could give no answer.

She kneeled in front of him and said, “Please change back from this form if you can. If you do, I can make your death quick.”

Her voice was so strangely kind for belonging to a creature like her. It was what made him able to calm down even with the horrible pain from the bite and change back into a human. But then as she looked at his eyes, she found that she could not bring herself to kill him. And as soon as her venom began to spread through his human body, he had started to become like her and he could no longer turn back into a wolf.

“Is that really what would happen?” Bella asked after Emily told her this part of the story.

She shrugged. “We can assume so, if a wolf was actually bitten. It’s a big ‘if.’ That’s why this particular legend is so odd and questionable. A vampire would never actually want to bite a protector—not in either form. Don’t think I never worried about that at one point, but Sam tells me he's never once known a vampire to actually reserve to using their teeth in a fight with them. Let’s just say werewolves seem to be the opposite of appetizing to them.”

Bella nodded. “Then how does it end?”

“Qahla and the other vampire became lovers,” Emily said, raising her brow in acknowledgement of how strange it was. “And as an immortal, he never had such fickle and dangerous feelings again and loved one other forever. That’s the way it ends. Maybe you can see why the wolves wouldn't accept this legend as true so easily.”

Bella looked at her blankly.

She smiled. “Well, besides how unlikely it seems that anyone else ever would have found out what happened to him to make the story get passed down, it almost shows vampires as kind of sympathetic, doesn’t it?”

“Sympathetic?” Bella echoed in surprise. “Not really. It shows them as being totally animalistic, not even having real human feelings. The female went right from wanting to drink his blood to wanting to be with him, as if it‘s the same thing to her! And he didn’t care? Vampires don’t have some kind of twisted attraction to humans like that, not like in the movies. Or like insects…ones that want to mate with and eat each other. You know, like a praying mantis...”

She laughed. “Aren’t they?” she said vaguely, like she couldn’t really know.

“Well, come on. I think if she really fell in love with him when he saved her, she would have killed him. He only changed back because he thought she would. It was kind of selfish of her.”

“Well, that’s where love always gets kind of complicated to think about, isn’t it?” she said with a laugh. “But yes, I think it’s definitely supposed to be kind of a sad ending. He gets what he deserves in a way.”

“It seems like something that was just made up as a fable to teach people a lesson,” Bella said. “The guy has kind of a tragic flaw.”

Emily shrugged. “But anyway, it’s how we have an idea of what would happen in those circumstances. There must be somethingtrue and substantial in it.”

“What the heck are you ladies talking about in here?” asked Sam, who had just appeared in the kitchen to get some ice.

Jacob followed saying, “Yeah, I thought I heard something about praying mantises.”

They both laughed. Bella did not perceive then how her world brightened a little just at having Jacob enter the room; she did notknow yet.

What she had thought she knew about love then and what she knew now were so different they sometimes seemed like the most significant thing separating the past and present, her two lives.

Carlisle finally came downstairs with the others looking resigned. He and their guests seemed to have nothing more to say to each other. Before they left, Aro turned to the others and said, “I am sorry it has to be this way. I never realized you all might have so much of an objection to it. But surely it could come to some of you as a relief when this is completely out of your hands and dealt with. Goodnight to you all.”

Carlisle was not impolite and did not seem angry, but in no way did he bid them farewell like they were old friends. He and Aro just nodded to each other respectfully before he turned to leave through the door.

“Oh, yes,” he said, remembering something and looking back. “And do be sure to let them know they have absolutely no chance if they try to just run away from this. Demetri has been in the area following their awful smell around for two days and managed to find every one of them so he would be able to again.”

Carlisle’s face changed with a thought and he asked, “Will you be remaining in this area for the time being?”

“No, we do not know exactly where. But far enough away. I assume you would prefer we not hunt here, after all.”

“Yes. Thank you, Aro.”

Everyone remained silent even a while after they had left, until they were sure to be far away. Then Jasper asked, “What was agreed?”

Carlisle sighed. “They will do it in our baseball field, since he knows exactly where it is. At midnight six days from today…So we better tell them soon.”

“Oh my God,” Bella said, sounding almost like she would swoon then if she could.

“I’m so sorry, Bella,” Esme said, shaking her head. “We understand they mean a lot to you…”

“It’s completely hopeless, isn’t it?” she said, looking around at all of them. “They’re supposed to be completely undefeatable. How can they survive facing them?

“They could have one advantage,” Carlisle said. “The Volturi will not be anticipating that they’ll have help.”

Some of the faces in the room turned toward him in surprise while others seemed to expect this. Jasper seemed the most shocked.

Carlisle walked over to sit on the floor near where Bella and Edward sat on the stairs. He spoke directly to her. “It was very difficult for me to make this treaty a long time ago. I didn’t need to do it. Edward and Esme and I could have fought the only werewolves that were here at the time when we first moved to Forks. We had done nothing to them or harmed anyone, and they hated us. But I did not like the idea of having to kill them. Then more of them could have come, and we never would have been able to avoid having this violent conflict continue between us and their kind. I wanted instead to try to make them understand. And it’s true, they can be very difficult. They didn’t want to be reasoned with. But I think it was my complete unwillingness to fight them instead of keep having to evade a confrontation with them that made them finally listen to me, though they certainly must have thought for a while that we were just too scared. They have never quite trusted us, but they've been giving us a chance for about a century now.”

“But you blew it with me,” Bella said glumly.

He shook his head. “Please do not think that this is happening all because of you. It was always at somewhat of a risk of agitating the Volturi that I kept this kind of arrangement with the wolves. I knew it would amuse as well as disturb Aro to know I had made a kind of deal with them, that he would see it as being dangerously tolerant, and that he might even decide to do something about them.

“The Volturi hate werewolves, even more so than the typical vampire. They’ve lost a couple very valuable members of their guard to them. They’re actually quite afraid of them and won’t try to deal with them except in large groups, which is why it is a big undertaking for them to decide to get rid of ones they know about. Aro must have been carefully planning how to do this these past few years; I doubt they have ever dealt with such a large number of them before. Considering Alice was not able to give us a warning about this, it seems he did not think of how it could be beneficial to involve us until just today. They seem to think of it as their duty to do all they can to try to eliminate them from the world entirely, but Aro respects and would rather not offend me. I believe he is just glad to have an excuse to attack the pack without me really being able to blame him because the way we broke the treaty by changing you means he can claim we have given him no choice.”

“He is,” Edward confirmed. “Bella is not a worry on his mind at all. He didn’t pull out that card until I tried to point out how his fears are unreasonable.”

“This is just a war over territory, really,” Alice said. “They don’t want the vampires in this area to be in the werewolves’ control, as it might as well appear to them, instead of theirs like the rest of the world. Because obviously dogs run things a bit differently,” she said with a slight roll of her eyes.

“Can anyone understand if I say that I somewhat prefer their way?” Carlisle said.

Everyone was quiet a moment. Then Rosalie said, “Yes, I can.”

Bella nodded. “The wolves protect everyone in this area from vampires,” she said. “That includes Charlie, Angela, Mike…everyone I knew here who I would want to be safe. I know we can’t keep staying here for much longer at all. But it would make me feel better knowing that they’re still here watching over things.”

Emmett sighed. “As weak a job I think they do at it, I guess I can understand that.”

Edward and Alice snorted, briefly trying to control mild grins.

Carlisle smiled a little. “I know how most of our kind feel about them. But I cannot help but find them a little remarkable. It doesn’t make any sense why monsters like us would exist. But they exist for the reason of defending people. If we are so perfectly adapted to be easily effective killing machines, it seems more than fair that a rare handful of humans has had nature—or whatever force it may be—give them ways to fight back. It always comes at a cost for us to live the way we live, staying in one place like our home here for a long time like civilized people of a real family and trying to still fit in with humans to some extent rather than hunt them. Having difficulty handling werewolves because they do not know better than to assume we are dangerous is perhaps just part of that cost. This is why I thought it was important to put aside our prejudices and try to resolve our problems with them peacefully a long time ago. And I am simply not comfortable with the idea of the Volturi going after them just for what they are rather than for anything they have done and killing them in such an organized manner that it‘s practically genocide.”

“But…to defy the Volturi?” Jasper said with a little disbelief. “Do you realize how dangerous this is going to be? This is their specialty. This will not even be a battle for them—more like an effortles massacre.”

“Yes. That’s why we will really need you especially, Jasper.” Carlisle’s tone was a little beseeching. He looked around at all of them. “I…can only hope I am not asking too much of any of you by deciding this is where I stand.”

Jasper seemed to think about it a moment. “Of course I would not have us divided on something like this,” he said. “I can understand your feelings. I just worry what it will mean to offend them like this.”

“Aro will not take it personally,” he promised. “He is so extremely practical. And he sees us as much too useful possible assets to make us real enemies. I predict that if we fight, he’ll be reluctant to even have anyone hurt us if they can help it. They could be overconfident enough for him to think he can afford that.”

Jasper nodded, but still seemed to show some reluctance on his face.

“Well?” Esme said quietly. “I suppose we need to let them know what is happening as soon as possible.”

Many heads in the room turned a little carefully toward Bella. She looked down at the floor away from them and let out a nervous breath of air.

Edward watched her dial the number, but seemed to feel like he was intruding on something and stepped away to leave her alone once she put the phone to her ear. It was 4:15 in the morning and there was no answer the first time. The second time she called she thought nobody was going pick to up again, but after several rings—

The audible clashing of plastic, someone sloppily picking it up. “Yeah, what?”

It was him, but not the way she liked to remember, sounding tired and a little annoyed. It somehow caught her off guard and made her feel even less capable of opening her mouth and talking to him. How could she do this? But if someone he was quite less friendly with had called instead it just would have caused him to wonder why she couldn’t be the one to do it.

“Hello?”

“Jacob,” she finally said back.

She thought she heard a sudden, fast exhale of air, and then there was a dead silence for a long moment.

Then he murmured, “Christ. Is it you?”

“Sorry. I know this must be…”

“What it is is…really early in the morning,” he observed, and seemed to realize this could only mean she was calling because of something bad. She could hear in his voice that he was slowly waking up completely, realizing how real this was. “What’s going on? I was actually…well…going to try to call you guys or something because we know some vampire‘s been around here and thought you might know something about whether or not we should be worried. I mean we definitely are, we‘ve been trying to hunt them down, but it seems weird…”

“How do you know?” Bella asked. “Did you see him?”

“So you do know. It’s a him, is it? No, we haven’t seen him, just been able to tell he was around some of our houses because of the smell. It‘s like he‘s really interested in the pack. Paul thinks he must be suicidal to be getting near a bunch of wolves.”

“…No. He isn’t suicidal.”

Another expectant pause of silence. Bella felt like her voice was restrained in her throat. She just wanted to tell him it was nothing, let him go back to sleep and think later she had not really needed to come back into his life and this conversation hadn‘t happened and her voice in his ear had not been real.

“What do you know?” he asked after she waited so long, starting to sound worried.

She sighed. “We need to meet.”

“’We’ is…?”

“Everyone. The whole pack.”

“The whole pack, right now?” he said in surprise. “I could just tell the others—“

“No, they all need to hear this. It’s too important to wait. It’s…It’s really bad, Jake,” she said dismally.

He was quiet again for a second. “Are you okay?”

She could hear how the question was a stranger in his throat. She swallowed, hesitating. “I’ll just have to see you soon. Can you get everybody here—at the house, I mean—as soon as you can?”

He thought for a second. “Yeah. It’ll probably be in less than a couple hours.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

When she flipped her phone shut, she saw that many of the others, including Edward, had left this part of the house. She found Alice’s eyes looking right at her.

“They’ll be here soon,” she said, though she knew they had probably been able to hear everything, and turned to go upstairs. But Alice came over to her and took her hand, leading her into a corner far away from where Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie were.

She whispered right into Bella’s ear, talking quickly and so quietly the words could only be heard by her. “I’ve seen what you’re able to do.”

Bella’s eyes widened fearfully, and she pulled away from her, shaking her head. “Please, Alice…”

“It’s important.” She took her arm to stop her from walking away from her.

“That’s silly. You can’t have seen something like that…”

“I haven‘t seen you use it, since you may only have by accident and maybe without even knowing it, but I can see it if someone will have the potential for something like that in them. It’s like being able to tell how a growing person will look in a year; not much is going to change that. I’ve seen it since right before you were turned, when it was final that it was going to happen and we knew when. It’s been well over three years. I know you must have started to discover it by now. Don‘t you see how useful—?”

“Yes, I do see how useful it could be,” she said a little darkly.

“Why are you just trying to hide it?”

Bella crossed her arms and stared down at the floor nervously. “I don’t like it.”

Alice sighed, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Well, I’m afraid whether you like it or not, we’re going in a fight up against a pretty terrifying force, and we’re going to need all the advantages that are available to us. Please think about that. But Bella…” She tightened her grip on her shoulder and looked at her seriously. “It’s good that you haven’t told anyone. It’s better that they don’t know what they’re up against. Don’t let anyone else know. It’s bad enough that I do, and I‘m sure glad I decided it wasn‘t my business to say anything before.”

And she turned and left her alone. Bella just stood there a long time, terror taking over her in a much more paralyzing way than before now that she had a moment to herself just to think about all of this.

There were things she had told herself she would never do, things that it scared her just to know she could do. But she had never imagined they would find themselves in this kind of a situation. To make all of this be over a lot more easily…to keep some of the people she cared about from getting killed…she wasn’t sure there was anything she wasn’t willing to do. And this possibly terrified her more than anything.

The sound of Jacob’s voice on the phone, heard again for the first time since she was still human, remained scratching in her head distractingly—a sound once comforting that now only filled her with anxiety about too many things. He never should have had to see her again at all. He should have been able to move on and forget about her. He certainly should not have had to defend himself from a deadly enemy with her and possibly die.

For her. No matter what Carlisle had said, she could not stop thinking that.

“Why is everyone so quiet?” Bella demanded as she was sitting on the stairs again later. The silence all over the house was driving her a little crazy. Emmett and Alice just looked at her with some feeble smiles.

Edward walked over to her and took her hand. “Come on,” he said, pulling her onto her feet. “I haven’t played you anything in a while. Let me play your song.”

She didn’t know if she really wanted to hear her lullaby right now, at a time when she wouldn’t be able to appreciate it. Everything was supposed to be perfect and right when she heard that song. But she went with him to the piano and stood leaning against it as he sat down, saying nothing to stop him.

They had only the screen door at the front of the house closed, so the thick heat of summer could be felt breathing on them through the mouth of the front doorway. There was a light breeze rustling all of the trees outside, carrying in the scent of leaves and dirt, and as Edward started playing the melody that was so familiar to her, the delicate and precise pressing of the keys blended with the sounds from outside.

Then Bella caught a new, foreign scent coming from far away outside, an immediate disturbance that perplexed her so much her attention was taken right away from listening to the music. At almost the very same time, Edward hit a chord that resounded sourly, some of the notes coming out sounding more like metal things dropped on a kitchen floor than the soft and perfectly tuned tones they were supposed to be. As she stared forward toward the door, the sound made Bella jump in surprise, her shoulders stiffening, and she looked down at Edward as he frowned and his brow creased together in confusion.

Emmett was laughing lightly. “Hell. Something’s wrong with that piano.”

Edward unmusically hit several notes again until he found the problem: two keys in the lower register that weren’t playing right. He pounded out the two distorted notes together again and again, with different amounts of force, trying to hear what was wrong with them.

“I swear I didn’t touch the thing,” Alice said, and Emmett laughed again.

Bella had already forgotten about what Edward was doing again; as he got up and walked around her to lift up the top of the piano, he did not notice how all of her attention seemed to be on something far away. She started walking slowly toward the door, looking out of it and watching closely for any movement besides the breeze tossing the trees.

When Edward looked inside the piano, he immediately saw what was causing the problem and gave a light laugh. “Oh, I don’t believe it…Bella. Look.”

He looked up and found her with her back to him, not even seeming to have heard him.

Now Emmett had joined Edward by the piano to see inside for himself. He started laughing as much as ever. “Ha! Look at that!And she thought she’d lost it!”

It was Bella’s bracelet. Somehow it had fallen into the piano after she left it on top of it and was now caught over two of the strings. As Emmett leaned over to take it out, Edward just stared at her.

“Bella?” he called again.

This time she heard him and spun around to look at him, but she did not seem the least bit interested in what he’d just found as Emmett handed the bracelet to him, or to have taken notice of it at all. “Can you see that they’re here?” she asked. “Who else is with them?”

Now everyone started to look at her strangely. Edward was silent a moment, looking like he was concentrating on something as if listening for a sound in the distance, and then he slowly shook his head. “I don’t know what you mean,” he said. “They haven’t brought anyone else with them.”

“But can’t you smell the one?” she asked, and she started to step back away from the door as if she were afraid of what was going to come through it soon. “One of them smells different…not like a wolf, I mean…”

The others seemed to be trying to see what she was talking about for a moment, and then looked at her just as confused as ever.

“They all smell normally disgusting to me from here,” Alice confirmed with a shrug.

“There couldn’t be anyone else with them,“ Edward said. “They phased to come over here, of course. That’s why they are taking so long to come inside.”

Bella slowly shook her head in bewilderment. “That’s so…strange,” she said in a vague, barely conscious tone, like she was partially just talking to herself. Then she looked around the room and seemed to realize at last that her whole family was now gathered around here and looking at her very curiously. She awkwardly looked down at the floor and walked back toward where she had been standing before by the piano.

They were here. She heard them coming up the steps of the porch and talking to each other as they came to the door, but she did not look around at them. Edward was standing before her, looking only straight at her face.

He held out his hand toward her. She looked down and found he was holding her bracelet. Slowly, like she wasn’t completely sure what she should be doing at the moment, she reached out and took it. “Thank you,” she murmured.

It had only been misplaced for several days, but it was strange to hold it again after thinking it was gone forever; she lost herself running her thumb over the tiny and amazingly detailed carved wolf, forgetting for a while what was happening right now.

“Okay, you‘ve got us here,” said a very familiar voice behind her, sounding a little gruff and guarded. “Now that you have us all plenty worried, who wants to explain what‘s going on?”

She woke up with a hard slam. She turned around, her eyes wide. He had just come to stand within about ten feet of her—just close enough to be too close.

Everything pulling, pulling her irresistibly into death. If it can be imagined, two massive constructions of magnetically attracted material, two trucks unlucky enough to drive near enough to each other, so many tons of metal, flying together with the angry force of a thunderstorm and crashing with a godlike scream of inevitability and useless destruction. Nothing to be done. All the sudden it seemed practically impossible not to just let the dark curtain of her instincts drop over her sensible mind and take over her entire body, to let go of herself.

Jasper noticed the intense and easily perceptible change in her mood right away, but he did not seem able to understand it. “Bella?” he said quietly, looking at her. “What’s the matter?”

Jacob had been looking forward—looking at anyone but her, as it seemed. For as soon as everyone else’s attention turned to her, his eyes moved directly to her like he knew exactly where she was standing but had been avoiding acknowledging the very spot where she stood. Immediately his expression seemed to soften just a little, looking more vulnerable and completely taken aback—a little worried, maybe—because of the look he then saw on her face.

“It’s you,” she said in a whispering gasp as she realized it, stepping back away from him a little as if he frightened her. Everyone was looking at her with confusion. “That’s…That’s impossible!

Edward looked extremely frustrated to have no understanding of what was bothering her. He took her arm and said quietly to her, “Bella, what is impossible? Are you alright?”

“Oh—“ It came out like a moan as she leaned over a little as if she felt like she was going to be sick, covering her mouth and nose with her hand. She understood then with horrific clarity and at the same time found it a ridiculous joke that some described it with a phrase like la tua cantante. It was not so much like something was singing to her as screaming at her, a disturbingly high-pitched, constant sawing sound in her brain blocking out everything else, absolutely impossible to ignore.

It was too much to handle. She could barely even make sense of what was being said to her or think about anything else but how much she wanted to…

She just looked to the side at Edward for a second, her eyes still large with shock, and then glanced in the direction of all the others and muttered, “Excuse me.”

Within four seconds she was up the stairs and out of sight.

Everyone stared after her, still looking at the staircase with confused expressions.

“Okay,” Leah said with a short laugh.

“I suppose Bella will not be joining us, but listening from upstairs,” Carlisle said slowly and awkwardly. He shot Edward a questioning look and right away he also left the group to follow her.

“Let us get right to the point,” Carlisle said. “I’m afraid you are all in a very unfortunate situation. What do you already know about the Volturi?”

Edward heard many of the werewolves respond with alarmed remarks at finding out this had something to do with them. He stopped listening once he had gone into his and Bella’s room and shut the door behind him.

She was sitting with her legs curled up against her, hugging her arms around them as she rocked back and forth just a little as if she was too anxious to sit still. He could hear her still breathing a little quickly.

He went and crouched in front of her. “What in the world is wrong?” he asked, reaching out and smoothing his hand through her hair. “You are scaring me."

She looked up at him and shook her head frantically. “I don’t know how this can be,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense!”

“What doesn’t? Does this…?” He seemed uncomfortable to complete the question. “Does this have something to do with Jacob? Why did you leave?”

“Because I was going to hurt him if I didn‘t,” she said in a rush of blurted words. She said it as if it made her sickeningly ashamed.

He shook his head slowly, not understanding. “Why? Surely you can’t mean…”

“Yes, bite him. I know!” Her eyes rolled around the room and she looked half-mad for a moment.

“You…were having a hard time trying not to…attack him?” he asked.

“Harder than hard.”

For a brief instant, he could not help but look a little disgusted. “But he is a—!”

“Apparently this makes some kind of an exception to that,” she interrupted quickly, hating to have to try to explain it. “Do you understand? Edward, it’s never been this hard before. Not even right after you turned me.”

His face looked as if it became more relaxed, but it was more like the understanding he finally had shocked him so much that it completely detached him from having any kind of immediate reaction. There was suddenly too much happening to be able to respond to all of it adequately.

“You…think he’s your…?” He talked so quietly it was barely audible.

Looking away from him, she took a long moment to respond, but then gave the smallest nod.

She never saw the look on his face after she confirmed this. As she was still looking away, he reached over to her right hand that had been balled into a fist for so long as she fought against herself with so much determination downstairs and was still clenched tight a little. Gently, he tried to pry her hand open. “You’re going to break this,” he warned quietly.

In this hand she was still holding her bracelet that had just been returned to her. She seemed to notice this with some alarm, opening her palm and looking down at it, blinking a little. She would not meet Edward’s eyes before he stood up and left the room.