Edward loves three things in life: His wife, his family, and his music. When the last of the three is in question, Bella cannot imagine a more superior being to exist. But when the master among pianists appears at their doorstep, Bella can only observe in awe as Edward is tutored by this grandiose, though slightly eccentric vampire. Music has never seemed so complicated before. Yet: Are musical notes really all this man weaves together, or is there something more involved? Something... Romanian?
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7. The Ice Age
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 1826 Review this Chapter
The icy street didn't prevent Edward from driving fast.
In fact, the way the car's tires glided along the slippery surface seemed to drive Edward to an even faster speed, which – I may add – was well over any limitations. Even for Germany.
But I didn't care to remind Edward that his wish for speed was stronger than his vehicle, and continued to stare ahead in frosty silence.
Eventually, the echo of the car's engine wasn’t enough to conceal the oppressing stillness, and Edward turned his eyes from the road to my face which was still pointing straight out, refusing to meet his gaze. From the corner of my eye I saw Edward's lips twist down into a frown.
"I'm sorry," he began, "I should have listened to you."
Knowing that any other answer would lead to a further argument, I shrugged.
"Gerasymenko is insane," Edward continued, and turned to look at the road again. He puckered his eyebrows in a brooding manner and lifted his left hand to cover a part of his angular chin. I could tell his broodings were of no positive nature from the way his eyes glazed over in concern.
For a moment, we just drove in silence, but the rigidity of the problematic situation forced me to end my "silent treatment". I took a deep – and unnecessary – breath of air and leaned back, crossing my fingers as if in prayer.
Edward noticed my new pose quickly, and seemed to draw the same metaphor from it, for he switched hands on the driving wheel in order to cover my entwined fingers with his palm. He shook my hands.
"It's all right, Bella. Nessie is fine. His mind cannot lie to us."
The whole day's stringency then finally melted away, and like thawing ice in spring, the waters running down my spine were still cold, still wintry.
"His mind cannot lie to us?" I cried, "Cannot lie? Then what has been going on in the last few months? Whose mind have you been hearing? You've been spending one hour a week with that man, if I recall, and you haven't suspected a thing! So what now, this sudden change of approach just appeared out of nowhere? He obviously can lie to us."
I suppressed my panic at the thought of Nessie in a madman's hands, and clamped my lips shut before I'd show how scared I really was. I wasn't mad at Edward – the fear was much too powerful to allow any other emotions to root in my head.
"I don't understand it," Edward murmured, more as an afterthought than in defense, "His mind never betrayed a word of this. I could have sworn to his sincerity. And yet he has clearly been planning this for a long while – but why? What has he to gain by keeping Nessie? Why does he want you and Alice at his house? How could he not think about it?"
I shrugged for the second time and bit down on my lip.
"I don't really care how he did it. All I'm interested in is the what."
Little Alice was the first to arrive at the professor's place. She seemed reluctant to step into the still unfamiliar house alone, and lingered around the vast garden instead, pretending to know precisely what she was doing.
But Gerasymenko smiled at the arrival of his guest. As long as he was the host, no lady would be left alone in the cold – though it was no more physically uncomfortable than the house, it did have a certain symbolic meaning that could not be ignored. So he opened the front doors of his residence and called to the nervous vampire.
"Ah, Alice, my dear. How delighting to see you've arrived! May I have the great honor of offering you a chair in my living room while we wait?"
Alice forced a smile onto her petite face, and glided over the lawn to shake hands with the tall, bony vampire. By the bemused look on her face, the professor could tell that the instructions she had been given were very imprecise, and that she had only a vague idea of the state of affairs. This irritated him – did Edward truly lack the courtesy to give his sister a proper explanation?
He led his guest through the narrow hallway and into the more extensive living room, a smile that he might describe as friendly enlightening his ashen face. Alice kept her gaze to the front the entire time. There was a dim look there, a look of remoteness, which could only mean that she was using her astonishing ability to search for answers in the time still to come.
She would find little of interest in the upcoming seconds, but did she see beyond that? The professor couldn't help but wonder about his own outlook, the potential that lay there. When Alice’s expression shifted, he immediately thought of only one possible reason – she could see the splendor that waited for him in the future, and, most importantly, the musical harmony that he could and would bring the world as a gift.
His thoughts were not interrupted when another woman bounded across the marble floors to embrace his new guest. A grand stage with his grand piano and his grand stature and his grand performance…
The rumble of a car's engine was enough to pull him out of his contemplation, though, and Gerasymenko cursed the damn, metal monster in his mind. There used to be a time when no such horrid noises fouled the air.
But Gerasymenko also knew what the arrival of that certain vehicle would mean, and he braced himself for the upcoming visit. This time, he couldn't allow himself to underestimate his task.
Alice was holding Renesmee protectively as she turned her head towards the approaching sound in expectance. There was knowledge in her gaze.
"Your brother and his wife will be arriving shortly. Can I offer you anything?" Gerasymenko asked, oblivious to Renesmee’s disgusted expression, "Tea, perhaps?"
"You've always been a joker," The young half-vampire spat at him, "Sir."
This angered the professor.
"Have your parents not taught you how to respect your elders?"
"Sure they have. I'm to respect my sane elders at all times. And oops, it looks like you don't belong in that group…"
"Nessie," Alice cautioned her niece in a whisper.
Oh, the insolent youth! The world was not progressing in any pleasurable direction. The professor could accept the arrogance of the imprudent humans, but why mature vampires should be allowed to behave this way, he could not understand. The Volturi era had done nothing but harm to honor and decency…
And he could not lose his focus. There was too much danger in giving away too much at a too early stage.
The roar of the engine came nearer and nearer, until it finally reached its destination with one deafening screech of the brakes. Gerasymenko winced at the blare. He would have to scold Edward about that later.
The professor's ruined mood was not uplifted when the newcomers burst right through the front door and dashed into the dark living room with overstated frenzy.
"Nessie, Nessie, Nessie…" The young mother ranted as she passed him, not caring to even glimpse at her generous host. Edward, too, greeted his teacher with only a defiant stare.
"It's ok, it's ok, we're here, you're safe…"
Gerasymenko was bewildered.
"My dear children, there really is no need for all this fuss," he declared, "I rarely encounter such disrespect! Remember this: Rudeness is a weak man's imitation of strength. Etiquette is of greatest importance when one has something the other has not."
"And the other way around," Isabella hissed under her breath and shot a deadly glower at Gerasymenko.
"Indeed, Isabella, indeed," he agreed.
Edward positioned himself between his family and his teacher, and spread his arms out protectively.
"We have all we want from you now," he said coldly, "and we have no reason to stay. Goodbye, Professor."
But, as though he foresaw the outcome of an attempted escape, he did not move from his defensive stance.
"You have all you want, young Edward?" the professor hinted, "Everything?"
Isabella shot an anxious look at her daughter.
And then the warm body under her arms evaporated, becoming nothing but hot steam in the chilliness of the living room air…
Edward snarled and hurled himself at the pianist, pinning him to the stone floor.
"Where is she? What have you done to her?"
The pianist glared at him and shook his head in disgust.
"This is why you will never become a great pianist, Edward. You have no susceptibility for delicate affairs such as this. You are too heavy-handed."
The words had no effect on Edward. The professor sighed as he saw his pupil's brows draw together while he tried to detect the answers from his mind.
The small but elegant chandelier glimmered in the little light of the room, the reflecting light sending rainbows across the walls, the crystals swaying in the clamor of the usually so silent house…
"Where. Is. My. Daughter."
Isabella was now standing above the pianist's face, looking down at him in ferocious, unforgiving hatred. Her eyes were pitch-black.
"I am willing to discuss the matter at hand," Gerasymenko offered, "If I get my hands back. Be careful there, young one. My fingers are essential when it comes to playing, as a pianist you should know that –"
"I will rip off every one of those fingers right now if you don't speak," Edward threatened.
"Now, now. We are both men of honor."
The two men stared at each other for a very long moment.
"Rip them off," Bella encouraged, followed by a grave nod from Alice, "Take away from him what he took away from us – his life."
"No one has been taken away from anyone yet, Isabella."
Gerasymenko was growing impatient. He had feared the young vampires might act inconsiderate, but this behavior went beyond that term. Clearly, they were not blessed with intelligence, or they'd know when it was their turn to listen, and his turn to speak.
Edward eased his grip slightly.
"I will speak as soon as I am set free, Edward. The situation is not hopeless. Your daughter is fine."
The professor let sincerity flood his thoughts, and finally, Edward did let go. Both men straightened carefully, all the while staring into each other's eyes in mistrust and antipathy.
Isabella shot a violent glare at Edward, but did not dare tackle the professor again.
"Talk," Edward ordered as soon as he was upright.
Gerasymenko smiled, and motioned for his guests to have a seat.
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