All I Want For Christmas
Second Place winner for the "It was a dark and stormy night" challenge. All Sasha ever wanted was to be needed. She had the most beautiful, caring three daughters but it was never enough for her, was it? The moment she saw Vasilii, she'd never been able to deny him her love or her time. Even when the Volturi threatened her with their lives. Thank you to awsomealice94 for the brilliant banner.
1. In The Shadows
Rating 5/5 Word Count 10669 Review this Chapter
It was a bleak and snowy night when everything changed.
The thick snow veiled the Alaskan wilderness like a blanket of glacial velvet as she trekked through it slowly, tentatively even, with her head bowed. She made her way through a bundle of giant spruce trees, ignoring the dripping needles that fell from the winds that shook the branches. Nights like these she liked the most. When the frosty air brushed against her exposed skin, it made her feel alive. When the freezing snow touched her fingertips and they tingled in response, she felt human. Not completely, but enough to reassure her that she wasn't as dead inside as she felt.
She peered up through the canopy of overlapping trees as she walked, stargazing with a disappointed frown on her face. With the clouds shielding the stars from her ruby eyes, it left the sky a murky color. It reminded her how insignificant this night was. It could have been like any other night: tedious and routinely. The only thing different was that it was the night before Christmas, the new Christian holiday. It didn't affect her either way. She would still leave her coven's little cottage, hidden in the middle of the forest, for her midnight walks. The night would continue on uneventfully; she would find a quick meal, wander aimlessly for a few more hours, and then find her way back to her family.
It always happened that way. Every night spent in these woods, these tangling woods, happened just like that. It had gotten to the point where she couldn't remember spending her time differently. She just couldn't imagine her world without these lonely, meditative nights.
She knew her nightly routine bothered her daughters. It wasn't easy to shut their whispered concerns out of her mind. They were worried about her, their mother, and there was nothing she could do to assure them that she was fine. No words she said or smiles she sent them would change their minds on her growing depression.
A small squirrel scurried its way up a thick trunk and she paused, glancing at it hungrily, as her mind wandered from reflecting on her past decades of life to her thirst. With a wrinkle of her button nose, she pressed forward, leaving the meager rodent behind. She was sure she could find something more fulfilling deeper in the forest. A bear perhaps, she mused, or a wolf.
A cliff face appeared up ahead and she perched herself atop it, gazing down the slick slope leisurely. Though the stars were impossible to see, the moon was very much visible. It hung over her, beaming down on the valley below. She must not have been the only spectator of the full moon because seconds later a howl arose from deep down in the valley.
Her eyes drifted shut as she sniffed, listening attentively for the solitary wolf who had called out to her. It was close, not even a mile away, as it loped through the wintry land. She could hear its heavy panting, its warm breath mingling with the air, hear its keen nose twitch as it hunted down its own prey, hear its full coat of fur sway as it ran, and hear its rich pulse pump blood through its veins. Her eyes popped open and narrowed down on the dashing form of the gray wolf bounding through the snow.
With a jump she got to her feet and slid skillfully down the slope, lithely jumping off of the rocks and landing smoothly. The wolf was getting farther and farther away, its tail swinging playfully as it tracked down a weasel. She had never let a meal get away from her; she wasn't about to let it happen for the first time tonight.
She huffed lightly as she landed on her feet at the bottom of the jagged slope, glancing up at the high overhang above, before taking off into the snow after her prey. As she drew nearer, her breath hitched in anticipation of what was to come. The venom gathered in her mouth, eager for the kill. She could imagine sinking her teeth into the flushed skin, the viscous blood travelling down her throat, the life she would slowly drain away -
Bam! She froze, her eyes unfocused and wide, as she watched the hulking wolf lurch forward and stumble. One of its massive front paws caught on the other and it tripped, flipping over in the snow and diving in headfirst, somehow managing to flip over and face her in the process. A tiny gasp left her lips as bits of ice flew up around it from the impact of its heavy body falling. Crimson blood gushed out from a wound in its side and soaked into the pure white snow surrounding it. In the weak light of the night, it looked like the spurting liquid was actually tar.
Deep shouts echoed up around her and she glanced about wildly. A man wrapped in a bearskin coat ran through the trees yards away, his bow and arrow clutched tightly in his hand. She swallowed hard as her eyes moved from the Inuit man back to the dying wolf. Its whimpering could be heard from miles around as its labored breathing slowed. She stared at it, mesmerized by its great yellow eyes. It stared back, directly at her, and she felt a shiver run up her spine as she realized it knew she was there.
She was released from its stare as the man reached the wolf, prodding it with its bow. The wolf didn't respond; its body swayed but no expression of recognition lit up its face. Startled, she realized it had died. Right before her. A wrinkle formed between her brows as she watched the man lift up the corpse with a grunt; she had never watched something die from another creature's doing. Not only was tonight a first in the sense that she had lost her meal but also because she had observed a murder.
It wasn't something she wanted to witness a second time.
As she turned her back on the man and the meal he had stolen from her, something caught her eye. Off in the far distance, overlooking the Inuit man and his success, was a woman. Wrapped in furs she stood, her brown eyes alert as they danced over the land, looking for what seemed like her husband. The vampire watched as the unfamiliar Inuit woman jerked, looking over her shoulder and at the fire she had started.
The vampire's ears strained to hear what had caught the other woman's attention but came up nearly empty handed. The only noise she caught was a high-pitched squeal, practically a whining sound, which was swallowed up by the wind. A brief look over her shoulder told her it'd be a while before the Inuit man dragged the wolf's body back to his family and she allowed herself a satisfied smile as she decided to inspect the lone Inuit woman.
Her feet moved on their own accord, dragging her through the ankle-deep snow and towards the makeshift camp. Glowing embers and sparks lit up the night around her and illuminated the soft snow as she drew nearer. The flames pranced almost giddily in the bitter winds but somehow remained instead of dying out in the powerful weather. Her eyes assessed the camp site from her spot in the shadows, delicately moving wiry branches so she could have a closer look.
The Inuit woman hunched over a bundle of blankets, murmuring and humming at something that the vampire couldn't distinguish. Long braids of ebony hair fell from the woman's crown and dangled far past her shoulders. It matched her russet skin perfectly and as the vampire watched, she grew more and more jealous. The faint blush on the other woman's cheeks made it painfully obvious that she was alive and the vampire was not.
The vampire shifted her weight to get even a closer look and a branch under her foot cracked loudly, snapping in two from her weight. The Inuit woman looked up wildly, her wide brown eyes scanning the forest for any sort of intruder and then clucked her tongue, speaking a word or two in her native language, before looking down at the blankets again. The vampire sighed a small breath of relief as she unhinged her muscles from their frozen posture, glad she had gone unnoticed.
She was about to leave the Inuit family, uninterested in their foreign culture and indecipherable language, to return to her coven for the night when the Inuit woman did something. She started to unravel the blankets one layer at a time, her fingers prodding and prying at the thick cloth until she had revealed...
The vampire leaned closer, enthralled by the scene playing out before her. Had this been the source of the sound that had captured the mother's attention before? Most likely.
As the vampire's eyes scanned over the tiny infant, she found herself growing fonder and fonder of the child. It had to be the most beautiful baby she had ever seen with its dark brown curls and dimples that formed when he smiled a cheeky grin. He was perfect, a perfect child. Her sharp eyes couldn't find any flaw, no blemish or mark on his darkly tanned skin. There was nothing but radiating happiness and innocence in his bottomless brown eyes, nothing but the joy she knew he could bring whoever watched over him.
Instantly, she felt a pull toward the child. She wanted him. Not for blood, which slightly surprised her when she watched a rosy blush spread over his face, but for company. He could give her a fresh start, a new life, even. She was miserable with her family and they were starting to realize it. She would never regret changing her three daughters, her precious children, but she wanted more. She was simply exhausted of the same routine, worn out by their snippy arguments and shallow habits. Even though she had three of the most talented and ideal daughters she could ever wish for, it wasn't enough to satiate her thirst for company. For countless decades she had walked through these woods, wondering what was missing. She had asked herself why she was so lonesome when she had such a wonderful family or even what she could do to stop her despair. And here she had found the answer to all of her problems in the face of this fascinating human child.
But what was it about him? Was it the adorable gleam that shone in his eyes, as if a secret sort of knowledge was hidden there? Possibly the vulnerable look of him that suggested he needed someone stronger to keep him safe in this frozen tundra. Of course, she could fulfill that duty. No one would be able to get past her if it meant his safety was in jeopardy. She was sure that was why she felt the need to take him and call him her own child. He needed a better mother and she needed a fourth child, someone who would actually need her around. Her daughters didn't need nor want her around as much as before. They had all learned their lessons and been taught the ways. But him...he would need her for years to come, to raise him and teach him.
Streams of jealousy flowed from her as the Inuit woman rocked her child back and forth, crooning a lullaby under her breath. That woman didn't deserve her baby. Why did she get such a treasured baby when the vampire had been subconsciously yearning for one for decades?
The woman set the beaming child down on the pile of blankets, watching him out of the corner of her eye as she looked out over the snow for her husband. The vampire crouched down on the crunchy snow just past where the light from the fire blurred into shadows. If only she could just reach out and grab the child...
No, she couldn't. Not yet. The mother was still glancing between her son and her husband, making sure no harm came to either. The vampire cursed softly under her breath; how to snatch the child? How could she get over there and pull him into her arms before the woman noticed?
The Inuit woman gave a whoop of glee and raced forward through the snow, running to her husband. The vampire's jaw practically dropped as the other woman sped away, leaving a trail of muddled footprints in the snow. Would she really just leave her baby, exposed to the chilled winds, to join in on the celebration of meat? She blinked in surprise; that had settled it for her. The Inuit woman really didn't deserve her baby. If she was stupid enough to leave him for the taking, the vampire would finish off the job.
She pushed the branches aside and tiptoed cautiously towards the fire, gazing down at the baby with pure love. The Inuit woman was far enough away now that neither parent would be able to see her take their child if she moved fast enough.
The child laid, his eyes drifting shut angelically, on a blanket near the fire. She looked at him closely and saw how his long lashes just brushed the tops of his chubby cheeks. He was close to falling asleep, though his ruddy skin trembled from the prevailing cold. On an impulse, she kneeled down beside him and wrapped the many blankets around him tightly. The softest sight escaped his tiny lips as he warmed up and the vampire felt her heart swell. She was doing the right thing, she knew. She was giving him a home he otherwise would have missed out on.
She lifted him into her arms and rocked him, looking out over the land for his unworthy parents. They were strolling back unhurried with the dead wolf still in the man's arms. She stood up, the child still in her arms, and smiled faintly. For the first time in a long time, she felt...at rest. Peaceful. And it was all because of this child. Her child, she immediately corrected herself.
She turned her back on the little camp and walked into the dark of the forest, grinning down at her new baby. She didn't care about losing her meal for the first time. Nothing could compare to what she was feeling now for the warm little body in her arms.
He slept through the hike in the woods, never stirring or waking up, even as the snowflakes fell on his flushed skin. Every now and then she would affectionately reach out and brush the flakes from his face, from his eyelashes, or from his hair, as she thought. She knew she couldn't bring him home. Her family would be outraged with her. She would never be forgiven for bringing a child into their world. She would be thrown out of the family that she had created.
No, she would take him somewhere else. But she didn't know how he would survive without her. It was cold out, beyond freezing, and during the day when she would normally be with her coven, he would die. Her family would be too suspicious if she suddenly decided to leave during the day then.
She paused under a large pine tree and leaned against the trunk while tucking a corner of the blanket under his chin. And what would happen when he grew up, she asked herself. She would have to tell him sometime what she was, would have to explain everything. Would he be accepting? She frowned; probably not. She would lose him just as quickly as she had gotten him. It would all be over the second he put the pieces together and she would be left just as lonely and hopeless as she had been before.
That only left one option. One cruel, prohibited, and sordid option. She would have to change him. She would have to sacrifice his future for her happiness. Oh, how disgusting that sounded. She didn't know if she could do that. How could she steal such an innocent life? But then, on the other hand, she would either have to watch him grow up and eventually die or preserve him here in time and space like an immortal cherub.
When she thought of it like that, the decision was almost easy to make.
She reached down and ran a light finger down his quivering cheek. He was cold. If she left him for the day, there was no doubt in her mind that she would return tonight and find him dead. But to freeze him here in time, to never have him grow or mature saddened her just as much as it excited her. He would always need her. He would always require someone to guide him and watch over him. Her breath fanned out on his face and he twitched, his eyelids fluttering as he dreamed. It was either steal his life from him, steal the future he had that the horrific weather would take anyway or keep him as a baby for all of eternity.
She couldn't bear to see him die. The image it conjured was too disturbing for her. So it was settled. She would have to change him if she wanted him to live. That way, he would never get cold. He would never need anything besides her and blood. That would be difficult, of course, but she was sure she could bring him little furry animals every night.
She picked up the little child in her arms and lifted him up. His eyelids snapped back and he looked down at her curiously, his plump little hand reaching out and pulling a strand of her hair into his hands. She smiled up at him, at his wide brown eyes and growing smile.
"Are you ready, little one?" She asked him quietly and he beamed at the sound of her voice. He ran his hand against her bare cheek and shuddered at the alien feel of her skin. In good time, that would be fixed. Her skin would feel natural to him.
She brought him closer to her and lightly put one fingertip under his chin, tilting his head up and back. She tried to control the trembling of her hands but it was no use. She wasn't sure if this was even possible. He was so small. Was it possible that his fragile little heart would keep beating through the transformation?
She gulped, she would find out soon enough. His eyes followed her movements as she bowed her head, like he knew what she was about to do. She brushed her lips against his forehead before leaning down as she pried the blankets from around his neck until it was exposed to her and what was to come.
With a shaky breath, she pressed her lips against the damp skin there and opened her mouth, tenderly biting into the flimsy skin. It took no effort at all. The skin gave way under her sharp teeth and the scorching blood flowed into her mouth. She pulled back, reluctantly gulping it down. It surprised her that she felt no lure to his healthy blood.
Her mouth disconnected from his neck and she worriedly watched him. He was shuddering, practically convulsing, under the thick blankets. She brushed his curling hair away from his forehead and bit her lip. If he was strong enough to live through it, the process would be done much quicker than with the average human. He was so much smaller that it wouldn't surprise her if it was finished in under a day.
As she cooed and sang him old songs under her breath, she rocked him back and forth in her arms, always trying to make him the most comfortable he could be. He whimpered feebly as his skin grew colder and colder and she watched with awed eyes.
The hours passed easily as he changed, leaving her much time to think about what she had done. Of course there would be consequences to her actions. The Volturi had banned all immortal children centuries ago. But they would never know, would they? She would keep him all to herself. He would be hers and hers alone. She wouldn't even tell her daughters of their recent addition to the family. They would never know of their secret brother and maybe in the end, that would even save them. If the rare occasion occurred that the Volturi did find out, her daughters would be saved because of their naivety.
His skin not only grew colder but, right before her eyes, it grew paler. He was as white as snow with the tiniest rosy blush on his cheeks. A slight breeze ruffled his curls and she tucked them behind his little ears, feeling a burst of affection for her newfound son.
"Vasilii," she named him easily, repeating her long dead father's name. It was a fitting name for her first and only son.
And then his eyes opened. They had lost their vibrant brown somewhere along the way and turned into the most intense crimson she had ever seen. She reached out and ran a finger over his thin eyebrows and down his cheek. He was beautiful, even if he did bear the scars of their people. He would always be her little angel, her favorite child.
He opened his mouth and growled, a strong contradiction to his beatific face. She flinched from the menacing sound and, with a clenched jaw, rocked him back and forth while she walked further into the forest, on the search for her child's first meal.
It was a light and sunny day when she arrived back home.
She had fed Vasilii with little difficulty. He was an eager child, as most newborns were, and had little patience. She refused to see him for his monstrous ways, however. Even when his temper grew short and he lunged for her, she had gently pushed him back and scolded him lightly. Her heart would break if she ever realized what she truly had done. She had taken away his purity and turned him into something far more hideous than even she was.
He was no longer the little Inuit baby she had found. He was something far more dangerous. He was a risk for all who got in his way. With his little fist he could shake the land, causing avalanches to form. With his four tiny teeth he could bite into any source of food he brought her, messily spurting blood in all directions. But to her, he was perfect. A little slice of heaven all for her. He was not a devilish fiend; he was an innocent angel.
She had hidden him in a far, far away abandoned cottage of her coven's that they rarely used anymore. No one would revisit the land and it was safe for him. There were no humans around for hundreds of miles and Vasilii could hardly walk. He was restrained to crawling at dangerously high speeds.
"Merry Christmas, Sasha!" Sasha turned her head as she walked in the door to her coven's new cottage and stared at her daughter. Christmas? Oh yes, that new holiday.
Sasha took off her fur cloak and let it fall on the table. "Merry Christmas, Tanya," she mumbled back, distracted by her thoughts.
Tanya beamed but then her face fell into a frown. Her ruby eyes almost matched the strawberry blonde tint to her hair perfectly. "You never told us what you wanted for Christmas so we-"
"What do you mean? What I want for Christmas?" Sasha had never heard of such a thing. Why would someone get her something for this peculiar new holiday? Her lips turned downwards as she leaned back against the wall.
Her daughter stared at her strangely and opened her mouth. Her second daughter strolled into the room just then and cut her off. "For this new idea of Christmas, we are supposed to get each other a present. Nothing too grand, just something memorable," Katrina told her, her lips stiff as she looked at her mother.
Tanya nodded in agreement and glanced at Sasha. "So what did you want?"
The question stumped Sasha. What did she want? No one had ever asked her that before. She sighed, closing her eyes for a brief second. She had everything she wanted. She couldn't even think of anything else she could ask for.
"All I want for Christmas is happiness. And I have it." It was the truth, too. For decades she had searched for some form of joy and in one short night she had found it. Someone out there in the world needed her, missed her, and loved her. There was no present that could compare.
Her daughters shared long glances and Katrina frowned. She could feel their confusion. In recent years, Sasha had made no attempt to hide her unhappiness. They all knew she was depressed. They all wanted to help. It was only expected that they would be a bit taken off guard by her sudden contentment.
At that moment Irina strolled in, the former conversation unknown to her. Her pale blonde hair was pulled back into a braid, one that reminded Sasha of Vasilii's first mother. The reminder caused Sasha to clench her fists. Maybe she should have killed his parents. It would have been easier than constantly being reminded how she had stolen their son from them.
"You're back," Irina stated and blinked. "Where were you?"
All of their heads swiveled to stare at Sasha. What could she possibly say? Not the truth, obviously not. She would have to lie; but how? There was no possible way to persuade all three of them why she had been gone for so long.
She feigned innocence and defeat. "You all know how it is this time of year," she said, disapproval coloring her tone. "The animals all go south because of the weather. It took a while to find something suitable."
While her beloved daughters preferred human men to supply them with blood, Sasha herself enjoyed hunting off of animals. It made her feel more compassionate, more human. The only human who had ever tempted her were Vasilii's parents and she hadn't of even been attracted to their blood until afterwards.
Tanya smiled affably and gave her a pleading look. "That's why you should just give up your lifestyle, Sasha. Be with us, hunt with us. It's better than running after a pack of wolves." Her tone was light, teasing a bit, but Sasha still grounded her teeth in irritation.
"Oh please," Katrina waved Tanya's suggestion off. "Sasha would never do that. We all know her. She wouldn't hurt a fly."
"Only caribou," Irina slid in, laughing to herself. Sasha closed herself off from them, breathing deeply through her nose and resisting the urge to verbally lash out at them.
Tanya chided them and told them to be silent while she rolled her eyes. Out of the three of them, Tanya would always be Sasha's favorite. Irina and Kate could be mocking and even controlling at times. Tanya was easier to get along with.
As Tanya's ruby eyes met with Sasha's with hesitance, Sasha decided she was the only reason she refused to tell them about Vasilii. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if the Volturi ever came after her most loved daughter.
Irina and Kate, however, she could most certainly live without.
It was a dark and stormy night when everything collapsed around her.
She sniffed curiously at an unfamiliar scent that led to her family's cottage and opened the door. Perhaps there was a visitor, she thought. Maybe a new vampire had found them and wanted company up in this winter wonderland of theirs. She wasn't sure she cared anyway. Whenever she finished visiting Vasilii, she hunted and by then she was practically floating on air she was so happy. Hardly anything was able to ruin the mood her 50 year old son always created.
She stepped inside and looked around. The scent went up the stairs directly, passing by the other rooms. Her daughters were all in the parlor, sitting silently. She studied each of them and their bowed heads.
"What's going on?" Sasha asked gently, her gaze flickering to the second story. It was silent up there. Whoever had intruded on their safe haven was listening in to the conversation below.
Katrina was the first to look up, her cheeks ashen and even a sickly shade. Her eyes were seething with anger as they narrowed into tiny slits. Her livid emotion was a shock to Sasha. What had happened to draw up such a reaction from her usually indifferent daughter?
"How could you?" She hissed softly, her eyes glancing up at the ceiling.
Sasha frowned in confusion. "How could I what?" She didn't know what Katrina was talking about. In the past years life had continued normally. She had done nothing but raise her son with love and care while watching over her daughters. Her life had been blissfully perfect.
Katrina's eyes glowed violently. "How can you stand there and ask that? You know what! The child, Sasha, how could you possibly change that child?"
Her words hit Sasha like a bitter winter wind, temporarily knocking the breath out of her and leaving her staggering. They knew. They knew. How? Who would possibly know about Vasilii and tell them all? Who was upstairs now? Oh God, she thought with a mental groan, what about Vasilii? She had left him hours ago to hunt. Anything could have happened since then. Sasha gulped and glanced at the wooden stairs, wanting more than ever to skip this conversation and run to her helpless child.
She ignored their betrayed looks and stared at the floor instead. "Who's upstairs?" She asked calmly, needing to know if this visitor portrayed any type of threat for her son.
Katrina huffed an incredulous breath and clenched her jaw. She was clearly too angry to speak because Irina looked up then, her sharp face softened by her sadness. "You ignore us," she echoed Katrina's thoughts, her accent thick. "You think only of him, don't you? We mean nothing to you."
Irina, unlike Kate, wasn't angry at all. She had faced the facts and felt dejected, Sasha could tell. Irina's lips pursed as she waited for Sasha's response.
"No," Sasha tried to reassure her. "I love you all, each and every one of you-"
"You would not lead them here if you cared!" Katrina yelled, her voice rising in octaves, as she gestured towards the story above. Sasha stared at her daughter, confused by her words. "We're going to die because of your foolishness! You had no right changing him-"
"Sasha, go upstairs." Tanya's cool voice sliced through Katrina's words, earning a shocked glance from both feuding mother and daughter.
Tanya lifted her head and peered solemnly at Sasha, her eyes expressing all feeling. "There is someone up there who wishes to see you. Just, please, go upstairs." Sasha's ancient face fell in deep sadness at the disappointed tone of her daughter. It seemed as if roles had been reversed; the distraught and fed up daughter scolding the panicky mother.
Sasha turned quickly and moved towards the rutted stairwell. She cringed at the creaking noise they made under her weight and kept her head bowed. In her peripheral vision, she could spot the pale faces of her family watching her.
A rising lump formed in her throat when she reached the top. She felt anxiety settle in and a bit of fear. She had never been the outcast of the family. She was not used to dirty looks or cold remarks. Complaints from her daughters? Always. But rarely did she receive hatred from her beloved children. Not once had she been on the receiving end of their malevolent moments.
At the end of the long hallway was a closed door. She made her way to it very slowly, like trudging through the waist deep snow of the icy lands, as she struggled to control her escalating distress. Every other door was open, exposing decorated rooms belonging to her daughters. Personal objects littered the floors and tables in the darkened rooms. She hurriedly passed her own, noticing for the first time how barren hers was compared to her daughters'. It stung to realize she had more belongings in her house shared with Vasilii than she did with her older daughters.
Her fingertips wrapped around the steel doorknob on the closed door and she frowned. It was so cool to the touch. Chilled, even.
What concerned her further was the faint smell of Vasilii. It attracted her like a moth to an open flame. Sprinkled here and there, it stood out distinctly from any other scent. Her nose wrinkled; but Vasilii had never been here. Why would his scent suddenly coat the upstairs hallway so?
The door swung open under her touch and she peered into the spare room, eyes glowing in anticipation. What she found, however, was unlike anything she had expected.
The room was empty, as it always had been, save for one rocking chair in which Irina had insisted be put in there to make it seem homier. In the chair, swaying back and forth, was a figure shrouded in absolute darkness. He - Sasha could tell it was male from the broad shoulders - blended into the shadows. Where the gloom ended and he began was almost impossible for Sasha to figure out. The only part of him visible was a pair of bright red eyes, narrowed in mingling friendliness and caution. The bottomless pupil smoldered and she caught her reflection in it, trapped and enclosed by his blood red irises.
She closed the door behind her quietly, choking softly on the strong fragrance that perfumed the air around her. It was a bit sour for a vampire's scent and salty. It had a foreign air to it, making her think that the vampire before her was not from around here. Greek, maybe? A curious Mediterranean aroma seeped from him.
The rocking ceased and something moved from the figure. It took her a moment to realize it was arms.
"It is such a delight for you to join us, beloved Sasha. Come closer. I predict by dawn we will know each other quite well." Unfamiliar. The voice was not one she recognized in the least. It had an accent to it, very faint. Rustic, a bit. And flowing. The words poured into one another until the sentences his lips formed were a stream of syllables and noises.
She had not heard such a voice since long before coming into this icy northern land. It reminded her of days spent in the cities where great trade was conducted. The dark haired men who sold all types of tropical fish had spoken with the same accent and they were from the Mediterranean. They had come from distant Oceanside coasts with dark black hair and tanned skin.
"Who are you?" Sasha whispered unsurely. She couldn't tell if this was the type of person you spoke freely to or if you had to be asked to talk. The feeling of great importance that came from him made her second guess her actions.
The ghostly chuckle that echoed back made her chilled blood curdle. He reached up with one pale hand, jostling something with the other arm, and pulled the dark material over his unblemished forehead.
She blinked at the unknown face before her. She had never seen him before in all of her centuries of life. With paled sallow skin and hooded eyes, he resembled someone who descended from Greece. She had been correct in her assumptions. The slightest tan was still intact on his wan face, though not very noticeable, and his thick dark brows hinted at equally dark hair. He had fine, narrowed features, not complimenting his broad jaw and chin whatsoever. And with a hawkish nose, he had a very predatory look to him. Sasha thought he could have been perceived as deeply attractive, even with his unbalanced features. His lingering eyes just made you eager to look away.
"Dear child, you know me. You just do not have a face to put to the name. It is I, Aro of the Volturi. Grim reaper of our kind, in a way." His silky voice had taken on a teasing tone but he did not smile. His red lips were stretched taut on his face, crumpling into a sort of disappointed look.
It took a moment for the name to settle into Sasha's consciousness. And when it did, it hit her. Hard.
Aro of the Volturi. Aro. Vampires had a nickname for him: the Angel of Death. He never appeared to you unless you had done something horridly wrong. Something that deserved the death penalty. Sasha thought of Vasilii for a moment and gulped. But how would he find out about that? He could not have. Vasilii was a secret, no one knew about her own little immortal child.
So why was he here, then? Sasha could think of nothing illegal she or her coven had done besides the creation of Vasilii. There was absolutely nothing to be executed for. But when she thought about it, being here because of Vasilii did make sense. Her daughters' words went with it perfectly. But how had Aro found out? She thought all of this through quickly as dread blossomed and spread quickly through her.
"I heard about your little...creation, I shall call it. I was not sure if the stories were true or not. I suppose this is proof enough for me." Sasha gasped in terror as Aro pulled something out from his cloak and held it out before him, his jeweled hands holding a bundle tightly.
"Give him to me!" She shrieked, her maternal instincts kicking into gear. She lunged forward, hands out like claws and teeth bared. He could not have him, she told herself. He was all hers. Her child, her son, her own little miracle. Aro of the Volturi could go to hell and back again but he would not have her baby.
She would have hit him, smacked right into him with her jaw snapping around his jugular, but he tossed the unsuspecting child to the floor just in time and used his own arms to defend himself. Being trained in fighting, he knew exactly how to manipulate her moves to his own advantage. Before Sasha was sure of what had happened, his stone cold arms were wrapped around her tightly. She craned her neck back and opened her mouth, a venomous hiss escaping as she struggled to bite his exposed flesh.
He grunted against her weight and aggression. "Now, now, little one. Calm down," he scolded and the tone of voice he used drove Sasha mad. When it became obvious she could do no more against his immovable vise, she reluctantly stilled.
Her head lolled to the side and she spotted her little angel, Vasilii, sitting on the floor looking at the two of them in mild interest. His burgundy eyes sparked as he sat back, head turned to the side slightly.
She jolted towards him, hoping her momentarily limpness would make Aro loosen his hold. She snapped forward just slightly and then bounced back as Aro's clenched fist connected with her abdomen. The air rushed out of her lungs as he pulled her back to him. She could feel his cool breath on the back of her neck, deep and relaxed. It stunk of old blood and made her stomach twist in repulsion.
"You need to control yourself, my dear. It's no wonder he turned out the way he did." His voice was light, possibly even playful. Sasha cringed at his words.
"Why are you here?" Sasha wailed against him as she watched her baby from across the room. He was too busy crawling around, deeply intrigued by the new house, to watch her. She felt a desperate longing to be near him along with utter vulnerability.
Aro paused for a moment and then she felt his hand snake around her and his hand grab onto the bottom of her jaw tightly. He pulled her head to the side, sharply, until she was looking out the window. She saw nothing of interest. Just growing storm clouds, a sliver of the moon about to be cloaked by the fog, steep mountain ranges, and-
"See that Inuit village? Do not lie to me, Sasha. I know you see it." Suddenly, his voice was quite rough. Harsh and angry. He had lost the charming tone he had used before.
It meant her time was running out.
She nodded numbly against his hand as her eyes fell on the tiny flame of light deep in the forests that grew on the mountainside. From here she could see tiny individual campfires, carcasses of wolves and bears, and dark skinned people sitting around the fires talking.
"Your son," he coldly spat the word, "killed three people in that village last night. Not only did the Chief see him but five others did, too. Did you train your child to be such a savage killer, Sasha? Or did he simply learn to murder all on his own?"
Sasha's mouth went dry of all venom at his words. Her head spun in peculiar nauseating ways. No. Vasilii could never hurt a human so cruelly. Never. She had tried to teach him how to kill animals, but he would never listen. Sasha felt awful about bringing lost humans to him every few nights, but it was the only blood he fully liked. He would never listen to her lessons on the vegetarian lifestyle, even when-
Aro threw her from him and she landed on the floor, helpless. "That's the thing about immortal children," he growled. "They don't learn. Their minds are empty pits, void of all comprehension. Do you know what he thinks of, Sasha? Do you know what I read from him when I touch my palm to his forehead? Blood. He pictures it in streams, in rivers and in oceans, just for his taking. It is all he wants. Not you, not your company or your love. Just the filling sensation of blood."
"Stop it!" She screamed. She wanted to her no more. He was lying to her, Aro was. Her baby was pure. He was perfect and smart and beautiful. He would never want to disappoint his mother so severely. He would never be so violent. The idea of her baby acting so monstrous made her heart hurt.
Aro looked at her in pure disgust. "For someone who has raised him for fifty years, you sure do not know him well, do you?"
His words made Sasha's temper flare bitterly. Her top lip puckered up in a guttural snarl as it erupted from deep within her chest. "I know him better than I know myself."
His responding look almost resembled a look a pity. Almost. "Then why are you so surprised he killed those innocent people?"
It burned her inside to realize he was right. The pain ate away at her frozen heart, crisping the edges in uncontrolled hatred and humiliation as the anguish blazed through her. She looked over at her child in the corner of the room as he gnawed on the wood noisily like a rodent, bright eyes flickering between Aro and her. He was totally oblivious to the world around him. He did not realize the potential threat Aro imposed. He most likely did not even realize Aro was even hurting his mother.
"You know I am right," Aro whispered hoarsely. "Immortal children are impossible to control. They need to be put down immediately after being discovered."
Sasha's head snapped up in shock. "Put down? No! You will not lay one finger on him! He is not an animal! He is a baby, innocent and-"
"Innocent?"Aro asked incredulously. "Innocent?" This time scoffing. "By god, if he is what you consider innocent, I must be a saint! He was no longer innocent the moment you bit into him, shooting venom into his veins. And because of this, because of the threat he is to all nearby humans, he must be executed. Along with you and your daughters, one by one."
For a moment, Sasha was speechless. How could it be that her blissful life had crumbled down around her so devastatingly quickly? And then, slowly, it dawned on her. Vasilii, Tanya, Irina, Kate. All dead. All burned away because of her mistake, because of one misjudgment to snatch the little baby all those years ago.
She knew what she had to do. There was no hope for her or her son. Their lives were over no matter what. The Volturi gave no excuses. They were a strict brotherhood of rulers who loved to see the ashes of their criminals spread over the land. But there was hope for her daughters, was there not? They, who knew nothing of her fourth child, were innocent. She slumped over and sobbed, crawling forward on her hands and knees until she was groveling at Aro's royal feet.
"Please!" she cried, her fingers clutching onto his cloak like fishing hooks. "Not my daughters! Show mercy, for the love of God. Please! Kill me in their stead. Take Vasilii and me and kill us both. I would rather have us die together than live to see them all die around me. Just, please, save my daughters!"
And for a moment, she thought Aro would kick her off and refuse her. Hit her, even. The anger that stirred in his burgundy eyes was as violent as the turning of the Arctic seas, tossing all that came before it out of the way aggressively, like Inuit canoes and slippery seals. Just like Aro, she thought. Whatever got in the way of his desires was smacked around until they posed no threat at all, not even the menace of annoyance. But under the surface, she saw hints of indecisiveness and it sparked hope, like a wild fire. His sadistic plot was swaying in deliberation before her very eyes as if his ideas were the rocking ocean waves itself.
"Get up," he ordered suddenly, and when Sasha made no move whatsoever, he reached down and yanked her up by her long brown locks. He walked over to little Vasilii, who sat innocently by the window now, and picked him up, too.
She watched him with wide eyes, striving to decipher his thoughts and unexplained actions. Her heart twisted at the sight of her child in his arms but she brushed the emotion off, knowing that if she complained his temper would flare. And then he wrapped his skeletal hand around her forearm and she cringed as his sharpened, glassy nails scraped her marble flesh like daggers.
He opened the door easily after juggling Vasilii which freed his one hand. He pulled her into the narrowed hallway and in the light, she realized, he was even more stunning than she thought before, though his features were pulled into a sinister expression of wickedness. His eyes had a creamy film over them, creating a shining glow that trickled out every time he looked at something. And his striking foreign air overpowered him, setting him aside distinctly from the Slovakian characteristics both her and her daughters had carried over time. He looked so alien to her, something of another world.
"Where are you taking us?" she asked, quietly, as he pushed her down onto the top step. As she walked down them shakily, he seemed to glide right down behind her. She pointedly ignored her daughters, watching from the joining room as Aro paused once at the bottom.
Her scorching embarrassment flooded her senses at the sight of her other children. Oh, how she had failed them. She couldn't bring herself to look up at them and see the resentment on their faces. So instead, she kept her dulled eyes locked on her son and his childish round face as he looked around the house, intrigued by the new setting, unbeknownst to what was occurring behind him.
Aro pulled her forward harshly and she tottered forward, her feet clumsily sliding on the paneled floor as he exposed her to her daughter's accusing glares. "Tell me, Denali coven, did you know of your mother's unrighteous acts?"
Sasha's lips trembled silently in fear as her eyes found their way to her daughter's stunned faces. Tanya looked drained and sorrowful; her eyes were a bit sunken in and her lips tight. She could tell Tanya knew this answer would either save her life or give her the death penalty.
"No, we had no clue," Tanya whispered hoarsely and Sasha felt as if the weight of the world had just sprung off her shoulders. She sighed out a breath of relief and Aro gave a curt nod.
"Sasha, go outside. I want to have a word with your other children," Aro instructed and she did not delay. She scurried from the room like a frightened mouse that had just been in the clutches of a hungry bobcat. Her head was bowed as she exited, her fists clenched at her side into as she reluctantly left her son behind.
The icy weather outside was cleansing and fresh as it wiped Aro's strong scent right off of her. Her feet crunched on the snow as she stood on the fallen flakes that dusted the ground and as the wind blew, it brought forth other scents.
Other scents of vampires.
Of course, she thought. Aro wouldn't let her go outside without some sort of surveillance. His guard was here, clearly, and she was able to identify them as the forming shadows that wriggled in the canopy of darkness in the forests surrounding her house. One came forth, quietly, at the sound of her departure from the house and she felt her senses hone at the sight and smell of him.
His hair tumbled to his shoulders in waves of black, like a dark mane of midnight sky as he drew closer, dressed in dark wool. Everything about him was threatening, from his baleful grin to his twinkling red eyes.
Without a word, he pulled her by the collar further away from the snowy cabin. She breathed out a frenzied breath into the uncomfortably freezing air, like one of those panicking European horses, and she trailed after him. She was tired of being tugged everywhere, like a mistrusted criminal. She knew she was exactly that, a dirty felon, but she didn't think she needed to be pushed and shoved everywhere. As much as she hated to admit defeat, she wouldn't try to plot an escape. The Volturi hounded down anyone who got away. And not so nicely, either.
"On your knees." His voice cracked out like a whip and her legs gave out, falling onto the damp snow and staying there.
He stood behind her, out of site, as she faced her lodge. Through the windows she spied Aro, a shadowed form moving around like a ghost inside, placing his open palm on each of her daughter's foreheads. If she had been able to, she would have had soundless tears falling down the planes of her pallid face. Her daughters would be saved, she knew, but she still felt as if she had let them down. They had never known of their brother; they were entirely innocent. But she would never see them again after this night, after this ending storm and closing night.
She would never see the rising sun again, sending light across the frozen land. She would never see her preternatural skin glitter under its rays like jewels. She would never taste blood again, never taste its luscious flavor or be beckoned by its welcoming call. And, more importantly, she would never again be with her son, united by his need for a caregiver and her need to be one. Her life would end during the dead of a winter night as her sinful soul would slither away into the dim shadows which would drag her down to a fiery hell.
Aro came out without warning and her daughters followed behind him, holding each other in a large huddle of comfort. He paused on the makeshift stoop, his eyes inspecting the scene before him with little Vasilii curled up in his cradling arms.
Sasha could only imagine what this must have appeared like to her daughters. The gloomy night, only illuminated by a spark of lightning here and there, cloaking the land in its chilled embrace as their mother kneeled, waiting to be executed only a mere twenty feet away. She could see, as if she had eyes in the back of her head, the other guards of the Volturi surrounding here and watching from their destined spots in the murky woods. And then the strange guard standing behind her like the Grim Reaper's assistant, with watchful eyes and a malicious smirk on his handsome young face.
"Good work, Demetri," Aro praised the guard behind her as he walked downhill towards her, eyes ablaze in the night.
Somewhere behind her, miles away, a jagged vein of lightning shot from the sky in a sizzling merge of electricity and power. She saw the beam reflect in Aro's downcast eyes and heard the rumble of thunder that echoed the crackle of lightning.
Behind him, paused on the doorstep of her former home, were her daughters. She could see the fear on their faces, the helplessness and hopelessness. And see a tinge of forgiveness. It was enough to send her psyche down a dark road of anger directed towards herself for doing this to all of them and deep grief as she realized this was the last time they would ever lay their bright eyes on their pitiful excuse of a mother. But two things Sasha did not feel, emotions she wouldn't allow herself to feel, were regret and hysteria. She would never apologize for changing Vasilii. How could she? He had turned her endless depression around until all she felt was blissful happiness. And, even now, on the edge of expected death, she would not launch into sobbing or begging for life. She would stand on the cliff of the unknown, strong and steady, and die with whatever shred of dignity she still contained. That was one thing the Volturi would not steal from her.
She watched with fixed eyes as Aro dropped Vasilii on the snowy ground. Sasha flinched as his small body fell into the deep white flakes, sending up a puff of icy bits like a cloud. She fought a bitter turmoil inside, resisting reaching out and taking him into her arms. Her shuddering hands, taut from the exertion it took to not help him, were clasped tightly behind her back.
Aro's head, now bare from his hood, turned to look at her reaction. She kept her jaw clenched, her eyes staring straight forward. His eyes blinked slowly like a resting cat and he got down on one knee next to Vasilii, who was squirming on the blanket of snow.
His long black hair fell over his shoulders as he bent down over her son, the ends tickling the ground just slightly. He bent down, further, further, further, until he was so close to Vasilii, she could see his mop of hair ruffle under Aro's calm breaths.
And then he slashed his razor sharp teeth across his bare neck.
The tormented scream that burst from Sasha' tightened throat was silent in a mix of many emotions. Fury, misery, heartache, and great, great desperation. Her heart swelled in her rib cage until she could no longer breathe. Every breath, every thought, caused her anguished pain. As her eyes watched the bodiless head roll to the side in sickening circles and rock back and forth on the bumpy snow covered ground, her soul shattered into a million tiny pieces, unable to be put back together again.
And more, a dozen more, noiseless screams rose from her throat as Aro bit and tore at her baby. His tiny arms, handless, littered the ground. Then his legs and his abdomen and soon, his body was in unrecognizable shreds that lay scattered like slices of tough leather. She wanted to reach forward, to grab onto the torn chunks and place them together but yet, she did not move. The only part of her that showed any sign of life was her mouth, twisted into a horrified scream. The rest of her was rigid in agony; a marble statue.
Aro stood, wiping his hands on a piece of dark linen he had produced from a pocket of his black velvet vest. He heaved a sort of disgusted sigh and kicked her baby's head to the side. The responding whimper in her throat did not escape her lips, however. Instead, she locked her mouth close and ground her teeth in release of her excruciating mournful feelings.
"That wasn't so bad," Aro said in a placating voice as his keen red eyes studied her face.
She wouldn't reply.
"At least he didn't fight," he continued, his voice lifting into a merry tenor. "Most immortal children, ah, well, you should be glad you never saw those executions! Most gory, I shall say." Sasha silenced him as she gazed up at his cheerful, open face. Something, some sort of severe emotion on her face, must have caught his attention and made him realize what danger he was in for his lips closed and his face fell. "Yes, well, maybe that is a story for a different audience," he murmured as he pulled out a pair of black leather gloves and placed them on his emaciated hands.
She watched in mild interest. Or, as much interest as a mother who had just lost her son could show. Aro caught her staring and gave a thin, cruel smile. "I would rather not watch my victim's life as I kill them," he clarified as he lowered himself onto the ground in front of her, "for the immortal children, they have such simple thoughts that it does not bother me. It allows me into their mind, so to speak. But you, my child, I do not exactly have any desire to see your history and to hear your thoughts."
Sasha's jaw tightened even further at his words. It was his way of telling her she was below him, not worth his time or concern.
Over his shoulder her daughters' eyes were glued to her, awed and terrified. Sasha's eyes flickered between Aro's daunting face in front of her to her daughters' and felt her energy just give out. Like an open flame, captured by the battering winds. She just...broke. Her mind just went out, quickly and without pain. One minute she was fully aware of everything around her; of Demetri's slow breaths not a foot behind her, of Aro's grinning face floating in her vision, of her daughters' muffled cries, of Vasilii's flesh and bone rotting on the ground, of the rest of the Volturi watching eagerly around her, and of the growing storm with its growling thunder and hissing lightning. And the next, she had retreated into her own mind, only a tiny part of her fully conscious of what was occurring.
She felt the gristly leather-covered fingers touch her face and prod gently at her neck but she did not respond. When the hand, Aro's hand, turned her head to the side and grabbed it forcefully, she did not even blink. A part of her mind was going off in a cry of alarm, telling her to fight back and save herself. Or buy some time, at least. But the rest of her mind drowned that warning out until it was nothing but a muffled siren. And she was perfectly happy with it like that.
The moment Aro's venom slicked teeth grazed her flesh and sunk into her neck she didn't even squirm or flinch. The pain of the bite was not strong enough to draw her out from the consuming cave that was her mind. She was content to stay put, locked away in her own peaceful reality, to stay ignorant to Aro's numerous bites that marred her body as he pulled her limbs off one by one and left them, still and ashen on the ground.
One thing she could feel was the ominous night sinking its teeth into her soul, like Aro's harsh bite on her flesh, and pierce her mind. It dragged her away into the solace of death, where nothing mattered, not even her nearly forgotten child. She didn't resist when it took her swiftly, its clutches tight and fatal. She felt nothing but raw ecstasy piling up to the brim, filling up the gaps and cracks of her spirit and putting her broken heart back together again.
The very last thing she felt was when they lit her on fire, side by side with her torn child, mother and son united even through death.
And her daughters watched, their appalled faces twisted into unrecognizable emotions of bitter, endless agony. Their suffering would never disappear for centuries, never fully evaporate or heal. They clutched each other tightly for consolation as their screams reverberated in the nighttime air. The licking flames were reflecting in their red eyes as they stared and the shadows that fell over them that night would not be removed for a long time. The pain that seeped through their dry veins had left its irremovable mark on their minds and on their hearts.
And the Volturi watched, their satisfied faces calm and stoic. Another job well done. A year from now, no one would remember the Denali case. Not even Aro would ever again think of Sasha and her slaughtering baby. The name Sasha would be forgotten and put to the back of their minds. Except for one young man in the back, who watched with tortured burgundy eyes. His features were Spanish, his skin a bit more tanned then the rest of them. Somehow, he knew he'd be back. As his eyes fell on the sisters, past the burning fire, he wondered if he'd see them again. And indeed he did.
And the Inuit village watched, their many faces full of wonderment. Never had they seen any other sign of life in this faraway snow covered land. The other night, when that savage baby - they thought it was an offspring of their evil god, Aipaloovik - had come and killed so many of their people, it had been the first time they had ever seen someone not of their culture. And now they sang to Aipaloovik to take mercy on them and to forgive them for whatever sins they had done. Their prayers did not work, though, for the next morning they awoke to find four more dead and a mysterious pair of black leather gloves by the burned out campfire.
And the nighttime sky, which saw everything, watched, with the face of the moon serving as its heart and the twinkling stars serving as its eyes. When the great rains fell from the heavens, dousing the fire and mixing with the brittle ash, the Inuit medicine men knew the gods and goddesses were weeping. When the crisp winds blew in, swirling the dust in a cloud of ash, the daughters felt their mother finally leave them. When the last flash of lightning split the sky into two, illuminating the dark mountainous land as the following thunder shook the ground, the Volturi finally decided to leave the now much smaller Denali coven.
And when the sun came up the next day, shedding light on all the evil that had been conducted in the shadows the night before, the land looked untouched from all of the debauchery.
It was as if they had never been there at all.