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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:


5. IV: Adagio In Minor

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5139   Review this Chapter

chapter IV adagio in minor



Everyone in the pack was disturbingly quiet after they all changed back and got themselves dressed again in the dark. There had been a lot to see in each other’s minds after they left the Cullens'.

Jacob went back with Sam to his house. Emily was waiting in the rocking chair on their porch when they got there and Sam told her tiredly, “Em, you should be sleeping” as she got up and stepped right into his arms.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. Then she looked at Jacob and said, “I was hoping you’d come over, Jake. I’ve got some coffee ready…”

They went inside and Jacob sat at the kitchen table with them mostly in silence, sometimes staring at but not touching a cup of coffee in front of him as Emily had to hear the whole terrifying explanation. Her belly was a shallow bulge underneath her gauzy yellow blouse. Usually it could be awkward having to avoid staring at her gruesomely scarred face, but right now as he looked at her he could not help but have his eyes drawn right to that growing stomach. It felt like she might as well be holding a bomb in there.

Emily got tears welled up in her eyes in fear, asking all sorts of questions he and Sam didn’t even know the answer to yet. This would be happening all over La Push this morning and there was no end, no consolation. He knew Billy had been waiting at the Clearwaters’ with Sue; they would both be finding out everything from Seth and Leah this very moment.

Even watching Sam try to comfort his wife as he told her what they were going to have to go into, Jacob was glad in a way to be focusing primarily on all this. He was glad to be distracted sitting here with those he thought of as a brother and sister rather than alone with himself and the other things that stung just as much as the gripping fear of not coming back from this battle to see this family anymore.

But it was all there in Sam's and Emily’s eyes anyway. They did not say anything about it or try to make him talk about it, but Emily eventually slid her chair around to sit close to him and soothingly rubbed his back for a moment, knowing and seeing it. He must have really been a mess, he thought, for her to be looking at him like that. He didn’t know.

“You’ll be alright,” she promised softly. She said that to him a lot.

It was too easy to just let himself go at the moment, and he could feel his throat tightening just a little, his hard exterior about to crack. He didn’t know. When he had let the words “I’d rather see you dead” slip out he had meant it and he hadn’t meant it. It was not as bad as he had expected, worse than he had expected. He would be alright, he would be alright, as mothers promise. The days and the years would come back, time and the sun meaning something again, and he would start to change and grow older again, he would heal, even if it was hard to believe it now. She would stay exactly the same.

They all knew, of course, that it was the first time he had seen her since before. He had always known he would not want to see her again if he didn’t have to. He’d imagined it would be like having a time you argued with somebody as your last memory of them instead of a nice one. It was easier just to tell himself she was gone rather than cling to some piece of her that was still left out there.

But her eyes, still hers even with their completely wrong, inky black color and yet not hers. Her voice and her face, the same but different. This was the girl whose hand he had held while she got stitches at the hospital, whose blood he had later had to wash out of his shirt he’d given her to hold against the wound, who he had pulled out of the blackness of the deep water and ordered not begged BREATHE because she just had to, she had to. And he used to think that it just wasn’t right. How could something that meant so impossibly much to him be so fragile, so easily damaged or almost lost, kept in this world only in such a weak and vulnerable body? He could remember how small she was to hold in his arms, across his lap, much too small for everything she was to him. He did not have to be an invincible immortal himself to wonder about what kind of sense this made.

Now she was nothing of that, her body turned into a hurtful weapon, all killing instinct rather than struggling survival, every breath not even needed and meaning nothing.

He could not tell himself she was gone anymore. It was something different from that and maybe, in some ways, harder to accept. Trying to swallow a hard rock that just won’t go down.

Once a little before she had turned eighteen, Bella had been at the Cullens' house looking at all the pictures on the wall in Carlisle's office as Edward searched for a book in there. Her eyes stopped on one particular picture when she noticed it for the first time: a small, framed art print. It was a dark, shadowy painting of a succubus perched over a sleeping young man in his bed, looking down on him like a hawk circling a helpless mouse. The creature was bizarrely beautiful with her cruel, menacing face, naked and pale and inhuman.

"Edward?" she asked. "What's this?"

She jumped a little in alarm when his face was suddenly right by her shoulder, following her gaze to what she was looking at. "Ah," he said with a laugh, smiling. "You found Irina. Kind of tasteless, isn't it?"

She looked at him with a cocked eyebrow. "Irina?"

"The three sisters of Tanya’s coven are most likely the ones who started the human myths of succubi," he explained. "They used to have this hanging in their home because they think it's funny how much the one in this painting happens to look remarkably like Irina. The last time we visited them there they gave it to Emmett after he found it to be so amusing."

"He did..." She felt like she was missing something.

Edward smiled. "Well, he thinks those girls are very silly, you see. As you've probably come to understand a little by now, it's quite the exception rather than the norm for a vampire to have any kind of a sexual or romantic attachment to their food, to put it in a way that is like how most of us would think of it. Forgive me, but the way the movies show relationships between vampires and humans is honestly kind of hilarious to us. But that is how Tanya, Kate, and Irina kept getting close enough to humans they did not actually kill to start those kind of stories; they all developed quite a fondness for human men. That was the reason they decided to change their diets."

He put his arm around her waist, leaned over and kissed her cheek. "But their liking for humans is, of course, not even comparable to my exclusive attraction to you,” he added. “I’m quite the freak among my kind, rather than simply an exception.”

She laughed lightly. “Is it really so unthinkable for you to sympathize with humans? It’s what you all once were, after all.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. It seems people can get used to any way of thinking to the point that they’ll never question it, even if it would bother someone else. It sort of makes you wonder if all of morality is just completely subjective.”

She followed him out of the office saying, “All of it can‘t be. You could never make me accept the idea that it’s okay to be killing people.”

“Even if a burning bush told you it is?” he asked, looking back at her with a teasing grin.

“If a burning bush was talking to me, I would probably check myself into a mental institution. Or else assume that it wasn’t actually a communication from God but some evil force trying to trick me.”

“Well, there you are.” He held the door to his room open, letting her go in first. “If you evaluate every situation like that, the only thing determining what you believe is really right is yourself. And if that’s how it is for everybody, it means they can believe anything they want that may be completely different from anyone else’s ideas. Do you not find that a little depressing?”

“Yeah, unless we all have an inherent nature that tells us what is good, even if some people just go against it.”

“Yes. I tend to hope so.” He took her hand and led her to the couch, where they sat down close together at one end. “Aren’t you glad I haven’t lost my gut instinct for what is the good thing to do?”

“I guess I better be,” she said, giggling. “How did we get to talking about this?”

“From Irina,“ he said with a smirk. “I could repeat our whole conversation from memory if you like, but I think you mean that as a rhetorical question.”

“Yes, that’s not necessary. Show-off.”

And he had laughed and circled his arm around her, leaning down to kiss her.

Bella did not go to Charlie’s house after she hunted. She drove to Port Angeles and sat in a crowded café with a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream she had no intention of actually reading and a steaming cup of coffee that would sit by her until it got cold.

It had first started a little over a year ago. Alice had dragged her along to a mall a long way out of town to go shopping with her, and while they were briefly separated, Bella had been unlucky enough to cross paths with Mrs. Newton, who just happened to be there with a friend. She had been trying to find a top she liked in her size and then looked up to see her staring curiously at her from the other end of the store.

In a slight panic, Bella had turned away and tried to keep a moderate pace as she left the store, thinking desperately, Please don’t think I’m me, think I look a lot like me, think I must be somebody younger who’s related to me…

When she risked a subtle glance back at her, Mrs. Newton was casually talking to the friend with her and seemed to have forgotten what she saw.

Bella had found Alice in the shoe store where she’d left her and pulled her into a corner to whisper, “We need to leave. Mike’s mom is here.”

“Oh no,” she said. “Please tell me she didn’t notice you!”

“Considering she didn’t have a heart attack from seeing me risen from the dead, I don’t think she got a good look, but she definitely noticed me.”

Alice had ended up stealing a pair of shoes that day because they rushed right out of that mall without taking the time for her to change from the ones she was trying on.

After that, there had been more similar incidences, too many for her not to start wondering if she was not just getting lucky every time. It was mostly just small, inconsequential things that happened too easily. She once saw that Alice and Rosalie were close to getting into some of their occasional sibling bickering and hoped that one of them would just worry about anything other than what they were doing to bother each other, and then Rosalie had suddenly seemed to remember she had a lot of things to do in the study even though Emmett looked a little puzzled when she said something about this and went upstairs. Then one afternoon when she and Edward were sitting and reading in a park after going to their morning classes, she had seen a little boy run out into the street in front of them and gasped as a car headed for him, but the driver had slowed and stopped in time to avoid the boy with what looked like an impossibly fast reaction.

Edward had been even more astounded by this than her, saying in a bewildered voice, “How strange. He did not even notice the child until he had already started braking. Unless his thoughts now are somehow unreliable.”

That was when she had first started to feel a little scared. But she did not let it show.

“Huh,” she said. “Maybe he‘s just so in shock and it happened so fast he can‘t remember it right. Almost hitting a kid like that would leave me pretty disoriented.”

“Yes. Or perhaps he just skipped his medication today and has no idea what‘s going on,” he said, making her laugh. “I know too well how confusing it is to try to listen to someone’s thoughts when that happens.”

It wasn’t exactly that she did not want him to know. She did not want to think of it herself at all. She wanted to forget about it and believe that there was another explanation.

If she could save a child’s life on accident, on an unconscious impulse, that was one thing. But for her to develop any kind of control over this, to try to use it on purpose…That was something else. The idea of being that powerful was daunting and somewhat terrifying to her. What if letting this talent grow would just make it more out of control? Edward did not even have the ability to completely tune out what he could hear, no matter how wrong it might seem when looking at it in a certain way for him to be in everyone’s heads uninvited all the time. Could having this strange power that she did not even fully understand mean that she could practically use and control people like puppets? She did not necessarily have to believe in a God to feel that doing something like that would be playing God.

Somehow, it made her feel ashamed. The special talents that some vampires had apparently reflected certain strengths they had as humans. This was supposed to have something to do with the kind of person she was. She could not help but think that it must have been some kind of a less admirable trait of hers that had been amplified when she became immortal to make her have this power rather than something anyone ever would have considered a strength or good quality.

But all those feelings did not mean much to her anymore. Not now.

She sat holding her book open, looking around the café at all of the people in there. When she was human, she knew she could be practically invisible sitting alone in a setting like this, the quiet and harmless book worm keeping to herself so much that nobody notices her. She sort of wished it was still like that so that she did not have to put on such a convincing show of not paying attention to anyone else, but her appearance called much more attention to itself now and she occasionally caught someone at a next table with their eyes on her.

It didn’t matter. Nobody could possibly suspect…

Her, she decided, looking over at a teenaged girl who appeared to be working on math homework and had a cup of coffee with her. She might as well start simple.

Bella thought, I want you to take a drink of coffee.

The girl kept punching some numbers in her calculator, and then wrote something down. She didn’t touch her cup.

Bella looked back down at the pages of her book for a moment, thinking, and then looked back up at the girl. She concentrated on picturing her picking up the cup and raising it to her mouth. She imagined pushing her arm up as if she could control some invisible force. She tried to get just one of her fingers to move at all by doing this. Nothing happened.

She gave up on her and searched the room with her eyes, stopping them on a middle-aged man reading a newspaper.

Stand up, she thought clearly, as if ordering him with her mind, trying to put a lot of force into the thought. He didn’t move, and she thought hopelessly, Please stand up?

But nothing she tried was any more effective on him. She sighed, looking back at the teenage girl, who only just now was remembering her coffee and taking a sip of it.

Thanks, she thought dryly. She looked at a clock on the wall, sighing again like she was already exhausted from trying. It was starting to get late and nobody but Alice would have any idea where she was when she was gone for so long. She was going to have to speed like crazy on the way home.

One more try. She decided that was the most she could do for now. Maybe she needed to take some time to think about what the key to doing this right was before she just kept trying the wrong way to make it work.

As she expected this time when she tried to make one of the cashiers scratch his nose, she had no luck again. Resigned, she closed her book and stood up to leave.

Nobody chose to ask her why she had been gone so much longer than she ever left the house. Later in the evening, Jasper came to the doorway of her and Edward’s room and said, “Excuse me. Bella, do you have much of a skill with drawing?"

"Drawing?" she echoed, surprised. "No, not really. I hardly ever draw anything..."

Edward looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "But you're really not bad," he contradicted, seeming surprised that she would be oblivious to this. "I've seen you draw something fairly good a few times."

She rolled her eyes and gave a short laugh. "Yeah, doodling in class."

"Well, it sounds like out of this whole household you're the only one with even a little artistic potential,” Jasper said. “Well, I mean, Alice—she's pretty good, but cannot really make things look realistic..." He shrugged. "What I am trying to ask is if you think you could try to do some drawings of the members of the Volturi you have met as you remember them. It would be very instrumental to have when I explain to the pack what they need to be ready for. Only the ones who we need to worry about the most because of their special talents. Demetri will not matter."

Her mouth dropped open a little. "I could try..."

"I would appreciate it."

Edward smirked at him. "The skills you need to win a fight really aren't all brawn, are they?"

Even if she wasn't very confident about how well she'd be able to do it, Bella was glad to have something useful she could do to help during the time there wasn't anything else to occupy herself with except worrying. She immediately got to work on doing several simple portraits on large paper. She did not really think about how well she was doing it but just did it, and it seemed to come much more naturally than drawing something ever had before. Aro and Marcus were the easiest because she had seen their faces the most, not just in person but in the painting in Carlisle's office. Then she did the best she could to draw a good likeness to Alec and Jane, the only other ones she had met who Edward told her would be the greatest dangers.

Once she was done taping them up on the back glass wall on the bottom floor a couple hours before they were to have their meeting here, Edward came up behind her and looked across the row at all of them, looking impressed but taking a moment to say anything.

“You're really quite good, you know,” he said finally, looking down at her.

She could actually admit to herself as she looked at all her work up on the window that he was right. They looked much better than she could have expected. She'd never thought she was a particularly good artist before, but she had also always assumed she couldn’t be and never tried much. Perhaps, like Edward's musical talent, it was a skill that had become augmented to the extreme when she became like him.

He reached over and took her hand. “What do you think?” he asked. “Now that you’re not hungry at all, could you join us down here this time?”

She frowned to be reminded of it. “I’m certainly going to try,” she said, looking down at the floor with a glum face. “…You were right. It is a lot harder than I ever could have imagined. More than you ever could have been able to describe.”

He put a finger under her chin to tilt her face back up toward his. “Don’t worry,” he said with a small, encouraging smile. “I do not think you will hurt him.”

She shook her head in doubt. “But no matter what I had you promise me, I know it’s not like you can be watching me like I’m a child all the time. We’re going to have a million other things to be worrying about. I don’t know…if I can go into this…and be sure…” Her voice trailed off into silence, like the idea scared her too much for her to talk about it.

“I have more confidence in you,” Edward said simply.

She just kept shaking her head in disbelief. “Do you think I have more strength for this than you? Even you say it still amazes you that you didn‘t just get me the first chance you had.”

“But it was quite different for me, wasn’t it?”

“How?”

“Well…when I first had to fight that urge, you were nothing more than a stranger to me. A very lovely stranger, but nonetheless...”

Bella snorted and hit his chest teasingly.

He smirked at her before continuing. “But you and Jacob know each other,“ he said. “You already care so much for him. When you have something that much more important to think about, it becomes a lot easier. And in any case, when you are in the middle of a ravaging battle and need to be the most concerned with protecting your own life, I am quite sure that will distract you from how appetizing he smells, rather than it being the other way around.”

She shrugged. “I hope so.”

Edward looked to the side at the glass wall, considering something as he glanced out at the yard. “Come sit outside with me,” he said, taking her hand again.

As they walked out together, he looked up at the darkening sky. “Alice has seen that we should be getting a couple sunny days later this week,” he said.

“Great,” Bella said flatly as they each took a seat on the edge of the porch. “If only I could be as optimistic about something besides the weather.”

He squeezed her hand tightly but did not speak. He didn’t seem to have anything confident to say on some other subjects.

Whenever Bella thought about them having to face the Volturi, she kept hearing in her head the things Alice had said to Jacob about them once. “You’re right, dog. The Volturi are the very essence of our kind—they’re the reason your hair stands on end when you smell me. They are the dread behind your instincts, the substance of your nightmares.”

Desperate to fight off the momentary terror, she looked back at Edward and tried to smile convincingly. “At least I don’t have to ask you to stay behind with me this time.”

Even though her tone was half-joking, he looked a little stricken. He turned his face away from her eyes. “Don’t say that,” he said uncomfortably. “This is exactly the kind of thing I didn’t want for you.”

As she realized what he was saying she frowned, also looking away from him, her hand loosening a little in his. "Well, there's no use in having regrets now, is there?" she muttered.

He shook his head, turning back to her with his face looking a little apologetic. "I was only saying..." He sighed. "You just have no idea how brutal this is going to be. And you...It is not as if you’ve ever even killed anyone before.”

“And I never will kill anyone who doesn’t probably deserve it.”

He closed his eyes a moment, shaking his head again. “I don’t know…With the ways I have tried to justify certain actions of mine before and how it made me feel after a while…I don’t know if I can believe that things are that simple, so black and white.”

She looked off in the distance at the last of the sunset for a while, wondering if he was right. She thought of how she had been trying to master her powers earlier, and it gave her a sudden sick feeling deep inside. But there was no getting out of it.

The thought reminded her of something that had been looming in her mind. “Jasper isn’t alright with fighting the Volturi,” she guessed.

Edward looked at her somberly. “No. He isn’t. He identifies with vampires like them much more easily than most of the rest of us can. He has a lot of respect for them and what they do.”

“It makes me feel absolutely awful.”

“Alice is the one who should feel guilty about it, if anyone. It is for her that he is going against his own nature by doing this, not you. It is unfortunate, but…it is still only by his choice that he‘ll go with us.”

She shook her head. “I’m sure it doesn’t really feel like that. I did not feel like I could have possibly done anything else but made you stay with me when Victoria’s army came. I would have gone crazy otherwise, waiting to find out if you were okay.”

“…Yes,” he admitted after seeming to think about it a moment. “You’re right. It isn’t much of a free choice.”

After a while Bella had another thought and asked him, “What about Carlisle? I know it isn’t like he’ll be fighting his old friends face-to-face, but I was surprised he so easily decided we should help.”

Edward shook his head as if it was a somewhat elusive concept for him to understand, too. “You know how Carlisle is,” he said. “More than anything, he is always an amazingly compassionate person. He knows it would be a little hypocritical of him to be so determined to never hurt a human being and live the kind of life he does as a doctor because it makes it easier for him to live with what he is and then just be all right with this happening, when this is our responsibility in a way whether we want to look at it like that or not. Even I can see that he is right, though without this personally affecting me and others who I care about I admit I might never have had the kind of perspective to care. This is not about enforcing the law of our kind. It is about hate, and it really is quite disturbing. To you it must be plain disgusting. When it comes to a situation like this, your remarkable amount of compassion outweighs even Carlisle’s.”

She rolled her eyes at the exaggeration. “It’s not like I have any reason to dislike werewolves. If I was a truly saintly person I would be going around the world and risking my life trying to defend tons of innocent people from being slaughtered by vampires whether they mean anything to me personally or not. The kind of compassion I have for the pack is just…selfish, sort of.”

He smiled vaguely. “I don’t know if I can think of it that way.”

“You can never think of me in a bad way,” she teased with a tone of slight annoyance.

His smile then was wide and genuine. “I know. I will try to work on that if you really want me to.”

“Do,” she said, her smile mirroring his. Then she was quiet in thought for a few seconds and went on, “I just don’t understand. How did Carlisle actually live with people like that for so long? I know that for a while they were the only kind of understanding peers he could have, and he always preferred to be part of some kind of family. But…he is such a completely good person. I went to Volterra myself, and it was like I had stepped into hell on earth. I just cannot picture him there with those people.”

He gave a quiet sigh, looking like he was struggling to think of a right way to explain what he thought of it. “They are not evil in their own eyes,” he said.

She snorted. “Anyone can be good in their own eyes,” she said.

“Is there anyone else‘s judgment who you really have to go by? I mean besides God’s, if you believe in all that. Some of the most despicable people in the world are those who never even give any thought to whether they are doing the right thing or not. The ones who figure, ‘How can I not be good? Everybody likes me.’ But it is not as if the Volturi do not even live by any kind of code themselves. They do actually follow the same laws they so rigorously enforce, after all, not abuse their positions of power. Unless you might see what they are doing to the wolves as that, in which case you can at least feel every bit as justified in trying to stop it.”

Bella shook her head like this was all too much to think about right now. “It’s just hard to see them that way…It seems too easy to live the way they do. It tends to be people who worry more about doing the right thing that have it pretty hard.”

“Yes…But I think it is easy to sometimes take for granted how fitting it really is that we sometimes like to call ourselves ‘vegetarians.’ It doesn’t have anything to do with it being the only right kind of life, and that is why Carlisle has never judged Aro, Caius, and Marcus. The way he sees it, it is simply the right kind of life for us.”

She knew he was certainly not trying to make her feel any worse about what was to come, if it was possible for him to, but as she stared out at the yard thinking about all that, it all felt like a suddenly heavy burden. Maybe if she had stayed human then the Volturi never would have gone this far, and even if it would have meant having some entirely different problems to deal with, she might never have gone through with it if she could have known. But as things were, it was too late to think twice about anything. She could not let this happen without trying to stop it, whether it would have a devastating cost or not.