A crowd of angry villagers. A boy and a girl are led towards the stakes. Death is never easy to remember.
A little story about Jane and Alec's final moments as humans, told from Alec's perspective. The title is the Italian word for "Twin".
1. Chapter 1
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One of the clearest memories I have of my mortal existence consists of my sister being shoved towards the market square by a large, burly man reeking of sweat and ale. Jane was crying and she was very angry. She rarely cried out of sadness, or pain - always braving the scraped knees, the baker's broom handle and the pebbles ("Uh oh, my mistake" the village boys would say as they ran past us), even though I told her she was free to weep as much as she liked. Her method of dealing with pain and all its ramifications was to be angry and boil just like the cauldron in which the old wives made their soap. When she was furious, my baby sister wished her looks could kill. She felt frustrated that she couldn't just squeeze and scratch and bite and burn and hurt her enemy with the sheer hatred that she felt. Looking back, it must have been endlessly tiring and damaging to keep that venom bottled up inside. Maybe this is why she enjoys her power to such an extent now.
Since I was the optimistic half of us, I had told her that if she wishes for something, it will become true. Of course, I did not know what that meant or how it really worked at the time; it was just something I had heard while Mrs. Jammer (or was it Jalor? Janor?) was reading to her son on the bench near the church one Sunday. She chased me away when she realized I was listening. "You awful boy, have you no other business than sitting there and staring at us like that? I don't have anything to give you, so go." She did not need to tell me to leave. She could have asked me to come and have tea and jam with her and I would have still ran away from that shrilly voice. Little Marcus or Matthew or whatever his unimportant name was died of consumption the following spring, and Jane had to be chased away from his funeral by one of the undertakers because she couldn't stop grinning. I hadn't taken his mother's words to heart at all, but she had.
I digress, but I always find myself fascinated by the little bits and pieces that come up from the murky waters of my mortal life. Becoming a vampire is like submerging yourself in the Lethe River. You forget many things. Some of them come back to you in flashes, just like that day when I remembered a black and white dream I had when I was seven years old, or that July day when I threw a half eaten apple in the ferns near the stream and accidentally hit a squirrel. I still find it difficult to remember the days when I could not look at the sun for more than a few moments, when I would grow tired after running through the marshes, when the summer sun would make me feel dizzy in the head and when I feared winter because we never had clothes that were warm enough.
Jane stumbled and almost fell over. One of her shoes (never the right size) had fallen and she made an attempt to pick it up, but the man frowned and grabbed her skinny elbow, almost lifting her off the ground. "You won't be needing that anymore, witch." Jane cried even harder. Whoever thought that she was crying because she was afraid was wrong. She was crying because it was unfair that after a life of misery and illness and frostbittenfingers and emptystomachs and dust and tears she would be at the mercy of the very people whom she so deeply hated. I tried to reach out to her, to grab anything, even a handful of her dress, but the one who was pushing me from behind slapped my hand as soon as I raised it. "Can't keep your hands off each other, can't you? Devil's spawns!"
"Make sure they don't touch, Simon. We don't know what magic they can work if they touch each other" came the priests' voice from behind us. "It's such a terrible thing to befall upon our village. We never had any witchcraft shadowing the work of the Lord here."
"What is there to do, Father?" asked a young woman.
"I always knew they was something wrong with them. At first I thought they were just some good for nothing miscreants, just like their parents. Only after I saw the way they look at others I said to myself James, something's wrong with these children."
Ah, the baker. I never quite forgot that gruffy voice. I tried to look at him, but he was lost somewhere in the sea of people who were jeering at us.
"So young, and yet already of the Devil's party" continued the priest. "We must purge evil from our bosom and only then we will be eligible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember that the Lord itself sent floods to clean this earth of sinners."
I might have missed a service or two, but I am pretty sure that Jesus did not advocate murder.
"I will pray for your souls, children."
Whoopee. That makes me so happy Father, I could rush towards the stakes if I wasn't chained to this ogre. Speaking of the stakes, I don't remember how we got there at all. I know that I got a few splinters in my feet while I was dragged up towards the pole. I must have been shivering so badly that I had to be half carried. While one of the men was tying my arms, I used the chance to really look at the crowd. Jane had stopped crying and was drawing in large gulps of air. There were mostly men present, although I recognized a few females from the village among them, too. They had the typical "he had it coming" look on their faces, the same expression humans make when they want to convince themselves that there was really nothing more that they could do and that this is the best course of action. I could never pinpoint the reason why they so disliked the way I looked at them. Maybe they felt that whenever I stared at them, I sent them that one frightful, crippling message: I know who you are. I knew exactly how rotten, shallow, vain, stupid, selfish they were. And that terrified them.
We build walls around ourselves, defenses which serve one single purpose: concealing our weaknesses. No weaknesses, no pain. Humans are very afraid of pain. In fact, I think there isn't any animal that fears and at the same time loves to inflict pain more than the homo sapiens. I used to believe that there was good in man, back when I wasn't so old and so powerful. If I could see right through the straw walls of their ego, I could also spot kindness and compassion and trust. That doesn't matter now that I am immortal. Humans are, after all, very fickle. How many vows of love have I heard while walking through Volterra alone? We'll be together forever. I'd die for you. I love you. Promises, promises. Humans change like the weather. They have no idea how silly they look, caught up in their petty squabbles and meaningless chatter. They say genuine feelings of love and friendship are rare these days. Well, since I have lived for many generations, I can frankly say that they have always been rare. Most humans love to pull and beat down the nail that stands up. Like sheep, they find comfort in conformity. Whenever someone raises from the mud, they gleefully pull and suck him down back into the cesspool. They want to have companions in misery. They want to die with someone. Generally, they're never brave enough to do things on their own. Jane wisely said to me that humans do not need the devil. And if he does exist, then he's probably suffering from millennia of ennui because humans do all his work for him. I think humans invented him to justify their acts. The devil made me do it, wasn't that the old saying?
I looked at the crowd again. One strange, well-dressed man was staring at us with a frown. Looks like even the aristocrats enjoy a good burning at the stake once in a while. I was afraid, so afraid that I felt like vomiting my insides. I had already emptied my stomach on the way here, but the sensation lingered. The men began to gather more wood around the stakes. I snapped my head to the right, desperate to look at my sister's face for as long as I could. She is the only one I have ever loved and adored. Nobody could ever understand what it means to be born with someone, no, to start your very existence together with another. Even if we were broken into millions of little pieces, our atoms would still gravitate towards each other. The human mind cannot even comprehend how that moment of trembling joy feels, when I look into her face and I see someone who truly understands, who knows and feels and doesn't need explanations or reasons, who doesn't ask why and why not, someone who is me as much as I am her. If we were suddenly to merge into one person, none of us would feel any difference.
Many members of the Volturi say that Jane is heartless, but they haven't really seen her smile when she opens the gifts that I bring her, or the little crease forming between her brows when she works on her herbarium, or the laughter that fills our room whenever I manage to catch her and spin her around, or felt the pressure of two thin arms embracing me from behind whenever I was in a bad mood, or the sudden kiss on the cheek followed by our arms interlacing, a gesture so natural that it was almost instinctive. They were never chastised about throwing away their old clothes (Jane gave me a great deal of grief when I threw away the vest I had worn at my execution - she treats our old possessions as if they were baby shoes and milk teeth) and I am all too glad. I never believed that anybody beside myself was worthy of seeing and experiencing all that. Not even Aro. I would throw the world away for Jane.
She was looking at me, her eyes red from crying and her face damp, her breath uneven. I hoped that whoever had caused that swelled lip would suffer slowly, horribly, cruelly for daring to hurt my sister.
"In a way, they're doing us a favor" she said, trying to raise her voice above that of the crowd. "I could not stand it if you died before me."
Somewhere in the corner of my eye, I could see an orange spot starting to form. They had set fire to the wood. It took all my self control not to look. The idea of death struck me the moment I felt the smoke fill my nostrils. I did not want my sister to die. I did not want to die. It was so unfair, so demeaning to be killed by those dogs who even now were unable to look in my eyes without flinching.
It doesn't matter anymore. You can have this world. You can keep rotting in it for as long as you like. Me and my sister are leaving. I turned my head back to Jane, and I spotted that dark haired aristocrat again. He looked anxious. He must have been drinking, because his eyes were red. His eyes were so red... it doesn't matter, the smoke is getting thicker. The crowd seems to gather closer, like moths to a flame. The sky is silent.