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Fire and Ice

Summary:
What made Jane and Alec become what they are? Written for Amore di Anima's fanfiction challenge.


Notes:


1. Fire and Ice

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2648   Review this Chapter

Fire and Ice

Alcyone

“Keep running!” Alec tugs on my hand. My arm is dead weight. One more pull and I feel it will fall from my shoulder.

“Alec,” I gasp.

“Faster!” he snaps. “We need to keep moving.”

The burning in my lungs spreads. My legs started cramping a few minutes ago and I feel the sweat dripping off my brow. My body refuses to stand any more abuse. My knees buckle and I collapse onto the forest’s floor.

My fall jolts Alec and he almost falls as well. “Jane! We can’t stay here!”

“I can’t run anymore.” I am almost sobbing. “I can’t keep moving.”

“Jane…” Alec trails off, massaging his thighs. I can feel his pain. My twin looks at me, watches me tremble from the bitter wind. His lips are a pale blue, a shade I must also reflect.

“All right, Jane,” he says gently. “All right.”

I hissed at the sudden pain in my hand. I turned it over and watched as the tips of the fingers blistered.

Alec,” I muttered. I walked to the house and into the kitchen. Alec held his hand away from a hot pot. His fingertips matched mine.

I’m sorry, Jane,” he said when he saw my hand. I walked to our mother’s herb cabinet and found some aloe. I rubbed its gel over my fingers and Alec’s.

I’m sorry,” he repeated.

It’s nothing,” I replied.

We both glanced again at the herb cabinet, one that was running low on herbs. Our mother had been the one to keep it always full. But ever since…

Alec and I stumble through frozen bracken until finding a tree with a large indentation in its roots. Alec cuts down evergreen branches while I spread the few furs we have. Eventually I have a cover of furs on the floor and Alec has wrapped the branches around us, forming a fence of sorts to lessen the harsh wind. We curl up under another fur; our hands clasp together. I look into Alec’s face, a mirror of my own, and see my fear reflected in his wide brown eyes.

“D-don’t wo-worry Jane,” he whispers. “In the morning, we’ll keep moving and get far away from here.”

I nod my head.

“A-Are you v-very cold?” The words barely make it past my chattering teeth.

“Not t-too mu-much,” he lies. “Y-you?”

“No-not at all.”

It’s not the first time I’ve lied.

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

Alec was out hunting today. Mother believed him too young but with our father dead he had no choice.

Mama? Jane?”

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

I heard him call out clearly yet made no move.

Jane?” His voice was higher, fearful. I tried to say something but the words did not move past the ball in my throat.

Mother! Jane?!”

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

In here,” I managed to gasp. I heard his steps, heard the door fly open.

Jane? What’s happened?”

I slowly raised my eyes from the blood-spattered ground. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

The cold feels sharper now. The branches, once good protection, no reveal us as the wind strips them bare. A fine dusting of snow cloaks Alec and me. We huddle closer, body to body, trying to warm us both.

I feel his cold, the sharp needling of the wind on him just as I feel my own.

How long have we been lying here, I wonder. How long since we ran away from our home? How long since they destroyed our lives?

How long will it take them to find us?

I shiver, not purely from the cold. A trickle of fear drips down my spine, freezing the very marrow in my bones.

“Jane,” Alec says. “Don’t fear. I’m the man and I will protect you.”

The man in our family, yes, but not a man to them. You can’t fight them, Alec, I want to cry out but the words are frozen in my throat. Your power won’t save you for long. And if you die, what will become of me?

I throw my arms around him, burrowing my head under his chin. He holds me tightly.

The storm continues wailing overhead.

Alec slowly opened the trapdoor. He stepped out and I followed quickly after him. I let the door fall again as we surveyed our surroundings.

Everything was destroyed. The bed sheets were torn, the small table reduced to kindling. The chairs were not much better. The door hung on only one hinge. In the main room, our kitchen burned. All my mother’s treasures lay in shards or were simply gone. The herb cabinet was almost unrecognizable. The leaves and flowers released their smell as they burned, turning the air sickly cloying.

Anger licked my insides. This was my home. My home. They had no right.

But of course they did. They had every right. They could kill a woman and drag her body away. They could burn a home. They could hunt children.

It’s the ones like us who have no right.

I no longer feel pain. I’ve succumbed to a blessed numbness.

Alec’s eyelashes are ringed with crystalline ice. He is horribly pale, a shade I see from my hand I also have. A faint blue outlines his lips.

We no longer shiver.

Ice holds us together now. Even if we had relaxed our pose, the ice would keep us tied.

Suddenly, the faint white outlining us changes. I narrow my eyes slightly, my brain sluggish. It takes a few minutes for me to realize the silver light of the moon has turned red.

Cracking a thin sheet of ice, I look up.

The moon has turned a violent shade of red, blood-red. The moon is still beautiful but in a much harsher way. She seems like a ruthless warrior, cutting down all before her, reveling in their blood. The moon frightens me. The light it now casts is eerie, transforming the forest before my disbelieving eyes.

I wonder if the moon is angry. Angry at Alec and me? For what we’ve been accused of? For the power we supposedly hold in our eyes? Perhaps she is angry at what happened to our home, at the blood that soaked into the walls. But then she would have turned this color that night.

Maybe she is angry at what is being done to us, not of us. Perhaps she is trying to send us a message in the only way she can.

“Alec,” I whisper. “Alec, wake up, look at the moon.”

My brother’s gentle breathing greets me. He slumbers on. I shake him once more then surrender. I look back to the moon.

The more I look at her, the more she seems to not be angry. Rather, she appears to be in pain. Someone has hurt her and she is now bleeding red light because of it. Perhaps they shattered her inside and that’s where the red comes from.

The more I look at her, the more the moon reminds me of me.

I bleed with her, bleed my pain, bleed my fear, bleed my horror. The moon is my companion this night. She is with me, believes me and so bleeds with me; she is the only one who does so.

I watch the moon bleed the entire night until faint white splotches on her surface appear. They spread until they cover her completely, wiping away all traces of blood.

The moon is a pure silvery white again.

And I cannot move.

I try to move my head but my body is numb. It does not respond to me. My fingers lay curled over Alec’s shoulder. My legs are entwined with his. My head feels unnaturally heavy and only my eyelids can move. I cannot even open my mouth. But even my eyelids are getting heavier.

I fight a losing battle to keep them open. My lashes grow heavier with each passing second. I can actually see them, bowing from the weight of the ice accumulating on them. My tears have frozen tracks across my cheeks. My body sinks into an even heavier slumber.

Move!

So heavy…

You have to move!

So tired…

Don’t you dare fall asleep!

So tired…so very, very tired…

No! Don’t sleep!

And I fall into a wonderfully heavy slumber. I dream of white, beautiful shades of white, treacherous blankets of white.

Alec and I collected all that is left. I packed a small bag with all the foods I could find. Alec grabbed his bow and arrows and several furs that had not been destroyed. I clutch the food to me as Alec threw his pack onto his back.

Come quickly!” he said. I ran lightly to him. He carefully opened the door and surveyed the surroundings.

I don’t see anyone,” I whispered into his ear. Alec nodded.

Let’s go.”

He threw the door open. Before he could start running, I grabbed his hand, sliding my palm in his.

Together?” I smiled questioningly at him.

Forever,” he finished with a grin.

And together we ran from our home into the forest blanketed with snow. He held my small hand in his slightly larger one as we ran and never once let go.

Pain. Piercing pain. Freezing pokers stab into every inch of my skin.

My eyes snap open.

There is a stone roof above me. How odd. I saw stars, I saw a bleeding moon. There was a sky above m, I know. Yet now there is rock.

There was also cold. Lots of cold. With a sharp, biting wind howling us down. But this place, whatever and wherever it is, is warm. Like the baths I used to take.

How odd.

There was also Alec…

Alec!

I try to sit up but if the sudden pain that stabs through my head had not stopped me, the hand that suddenly shoots to my chest would have.

“Relax, child,” a voice says. “You just awoke. You don’t want to be fainting again any time soon.”

The voice chuckles.

I cannot see whoever it is that spoke but I do see their hand, long-fingered and very pale. Seeing him, though, is suddenly imperative to me. That voice could not belong to a human. It was too beautiful. It felt like a caress, a gentle sighing that washes over one and leaves them refreshed and peaceful. I slowly turn my head.

A man stands next to me, wearing black robes. His hair is the color of ravens and tumbles down his back like a fluid, black waterfall. His skin, delicate-looking, is an icy, translucent white that stands in shocking contrast to his dark clothing and hair. His eyes are the most surprising thing of all, a red that could not belong to any human.

But then he speaks and any doubts about him I could have had evaporated. “Sleep, Jane. You’re safe now.”

I do not wonder how he knows my name. Instead, I listen to the soft, lilting tones of his voice and see his kind smile.

He is the most beautiful man I have ever seen.

I struggle to open my eyes. Next to me, I feel Alec stirring.

I do not need to open my eyes to know where my brother is. I can sense him just as he can me. And I know that if I stretch my hand just slightly, I will be able to hold his.

Alec’s hand greets me halfway.

I turn my head and see my brother. He smiles at me. “Are you all right?”

“Yes. Are you?”

“Fine.”

“And you’ll feel perfect after you drink this,” the same voice from earlier interrupts.

Alec and I start and both reach to sit up. Two hands impede our progress.

“Slowly or else you can lay there all night,” he warned.

Alec and I slowly sat up.

“Who are you?” Alec asks the man.

The man smiles a close-lipped smile. “My name. I’ve gone through many of those. But you, my dearest Jane and Alec, may call me Aro.”

“How do you—” Alec begins.

“Know our name?” I finish. Aro laughs.

“Oh, I’ve seen you finish each other’s sentences or chorus questions hundreds of times and it always amuses me.”

“You’ve been watching us?” Alec says. Aro nods, smiling.

“I’ve been interested in you two for a while. Such things said in your village about you. Strange powers that you use with your eyes.”

“All lies,” I state. Aro turns his smile to me.

“Are they, now?” His red eyes make me feel as if he’s examining me.

“Yes,” Alec snaps.

“That’s too bad,” Aro says. “You see, I was going to help you. Someone cursed with such power will require help now and then. But if you do not have it, then you will not be interested in the help I was to provide.”

“And what help—”

“Were you going to provide?” Alec finishes. Aro’s smile grows further.

“The very greatest of them,” he says just above a whisper. “What would you give in order to evade death? Forever?”

“Not die?” I gasp.

“Yes, Jane. And not just that. It’s something that would make you stronger than all other humans, faster than them as well. It makes you more beautiful than you ever were before. And, of course, grants immortality.”

“You’re lying,” Alec says but I can tell he wishes it were true.

“Am I?” Suddenly, Aro disappears. Before we can gasp, his voice comes from behind us. “If I had been lying would I have been able to do that?”

We turn around. Picking up a rock, Aro continues, “If I were lying, would I be able to crush this rock like I am?” His fist closes around the rock and there is an audible crack. When he opens his hand, the rock has been reduced to powder.

“But why would you give us this?” I ask.

“Because it is not fair what has happened to you. Life has not been easy for you, has it? No. No one deserves such pain, such humiliation. I know how you feel; I was humiliated once, my family killed. And so, I am offering you a way out. But first, you’ve yet to drink! Come, this will make you feel much better.”

He floats, there is no other word for it, before us and picks up two cup to hand to each of us. We take the cups demurely. Alec’s eyes shine in anticipation.

“And you’re going to give this to us now? Is it this drink?” Alec asks. I have never seen him so excited before. My own glee surprises me.

Aro laughs. “No, it is not the drink. It’s something else. And I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for it. You need to be older; you’re still too young. But, fear not,” he says potting our suddenly livid faces, “it’ll be very soon. For now, you will return to your home. Keep to the area around your house and you will have no problem. You will find your home has been repaired and there will always be food in a pantry I have had made for you. Remember; do not head into the village. Do not give the villagers anything to blame you for and you will be fine. But now, drink up and later you will find yourselves back at your home.”

Alec and I both take a long gulp. Sleep claims us before the cup is half-drained.

“Jane! Jane! Wake up!”

My eyes slowly open.

“Alec, what…?”

“Look, Jane!”

I see we are back at our house but it is different now. It is clean and airy. Everything is new, the bed, the tables, the chairs…all crafted expensively. There is a new door in the adjoining wall of the bedroom and main room. It leads to a pantry stocked with rows of meat, bushels of vegetables, and baskets of fruits.

“It wasn’t a dream then?” I ask Alec. “We really met Aro and he did all this for us?”

“That’s not all, Jane. Look!” He flashes a piece of paper in my face. He reads to me the single word written on it.

Soon.

It’s something that would make you stronger than all other humans, faster than them as well. It makes you more beautiful than you ever were before. And, of course, grants immortality.”

A slow smile spreads across my face. “Soon,” I whisper to myself. Soon I will see Aro again. Soon I will be something greater. Soon no one will ever hurt me again.

“Soon.”