Cornelia: A Tale of Twilight
“This is my story. I should probably start at the very beginning, so you may understand the better: my father was a vampire; my mother was a human. It’s been quite a few centuries since I was born, so I have decided to make a record of my life… as I may not have much longer to live. I have seen death and love; despair and hope; tragedy and miracles. I regret little, as everything I have done has been right in my own eyes. My motivations were purposeful, and my memories are pure. My name is Cornelia.” Follow the life of a hybrid through the Twilight universe from her birth in 1778, through love, loss, and friendship. Drifts in and out of canon. Main pairings: CarlislexOC, JasperxOC.
I wrote the majority of this before Breaking Dawn was published, so this was my version of "hybrids." My reasoning is that Cornelia is a "venom-producing" female hybrid, whereas all the girls in the books are non-venomous. Enjoy reading! More published on FanFiction.net, under the same screen name. -Scarlet
3. The Storm and the Stranger
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Chapter 3: The Storm and the Stranger
October 21 st 1813, Sunset
Hoquiam, Oregon Country
The light faded from the sky as I made my way south. Human scents became closer with each step I took. I hadn't walked among humans for many years, and I feared how I may fare. Another thing that was worrying me was the "peaceful vampires" that the chef had spoken of. Did the Quileutes have some armistice with them? Did they allow them to hunt of their land?
That would be dreadful.
I felt a drop of rain on the back of my hand just as I saw the first buildings of a town. From half a mile away, I read the sign clearly: "Hoquiam Tack and Bridle." The dark clouds in the sky made the sunset much darker than ordinary, and I saw no humans outside of their homes as I walked into town. Few lights shone through the buildings of shops and residences, and I looked up at the high steeple of a church as I passed.
I soon walked out of the other end of town. I wasn't used to such a small society of humans, having lived in cities like Boston and Charlestown, but I guessed that that was how humans functioned in the West. Or it's because the Quileutes let them all die. I shuttered as the rain became heavier, and it soon doused me thoroughly.
Halfway back to the main road, I was shivering and wet. The rain splashed in the muddy street as I walked by the church again. My worn leather lace-ups were filled with water, making squishing sounds with each step I took. My purple dress of many days was soaked and torn, and now had a distinctly brown appearance. My long hair had half-fallen out of its braid, and was plastered to my forehead and cheeks.
A cold wind had picked up with the rain, and it bit and stung at every exposed inch of my skin. The pine trees around town groaned with the harsh breeze, and offered little shelter from the abusive weather. Why have I come here in the first place? I mistook my tears for rain. Thunder clapped in the near distance.
Suddenly, I spied a figure walking along the opposite side of the street, very far away. I found it odd that anyone would be out during such weather. The figure's head was bowed under a large, black umbrella, and I recognized the shape of a tall man. Then, a scent penetrated the rain, and my back went rigid.
The man was a vampire, and he was walking in my direction.
Before I could act, the man looked up, as though first noticing me as well. Raindrops blurred my vision, so I put up a hand to shield my eyes. What I saw was not what I expected.
He wore a formal black suit with a white shirt and a loose black necktie underneath, and carried a black leather bag at his side. This attire gave him a very human appearance, and it startled me. We stared at each other, unmoving, until I was forced to blink.
Then, not breaking my gaze, the stranger stepped forward. I stepped back… naturally. His brow furrowed as though he was deciphering something.
He stepped forward again, this time a bit more cautiously, and slowly crossed the street. He raised his voice against the howling wind, and I heard every pitch of his musical speech, "Hello?"
I thought it was strange that an Englishman be so far from his home, but that wasn't what worried me. The man had astonished me by closing the distance between us completely, and sharing his oversized umbrella.
I was paralyzed from either the cold or from fright. Granted, my feet had become quite sunken in mud as I had stood there, but that was not an appropriate excuse for my action. I stayed. I stayed and stared up at that six-foot vampire like a small child staring at Saint Nickolas. I was about to become a warm meal for him, yet I stayed.
His expression turned to that of concern when I didn't speak. "Are you well, Miss?"
That's when I noticed it. Maybe I had been looking at his mouth before, or perhaps at his fair blond hair. But the moment I saw his eyes, I almost tripped in the mud when I stepped back in shock. "Y-Y-Your eyes!" I exclaimed, pointing between his nose.
He looked more surprised than I. His mouth opened to say something, and then closed. He frowned down at me as I gaped up at him. "Forgive me," he said, ignoring my accusation. "I am Carlisle Cullen."
He held out his hand, and my eyes darted from it to his face. He'll kill me for sure. Instead of taking his hand, I took another step back. "Er, Cornelia," I said.
He put his hand down after a moment. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He spoke louder than the rain that thudded on the umbrella and the wind that blew my shirts. "May I ask what keeps you so in the rain, Miss Cornelia?"
I shook my head. I didn't want him to know any vulnerabilities. Like how I didn't know where to run if he…
"Well, I suggest you get indoors before you catch cold."
I balked. Why is he worried about my health? I felt compelled to put his concern at ease, so I spoke. "Thank you, but I never take ill." Even though my life was at imminent risk, I didn't forget my manners.
He looked perplexed, as though I had told him I ate tree fungus for dinner. His brow furrowed once again, and he shifted his feet. "Might I at least offer you some shelter for this evening? This weather is good for nothing."
He's trying to lure me away from human sight. He'll kill me with no witnesses. "No, Mister Cullen. I must decline."
He nodded, as though he'd expected the answer. "Allow me to point the way to the nearest inn." He motioned to the building next to "Hoquiam Tack and Bridle." I saw faint candlelight in the downstairs, and several windows indicated a spacious second level. "I must encourage you to seek rest there."
He confused me – now he was sending me away. I would gladly run. "Th-Thank you! I-It was a pleasure," I stammered, stepping away.
I felt the man's eyes on my back as I sped off in the direction he pointed out. I broke into a run when I reached the main street. I was free.
The sign above the door said "The Featherbed." I pushed open the thick wooden door, and was grateful for the rush of warm air that greeted me. I closed the door behind myself quietly and quickly took in my surroundings.
A human sat behind a low counter at the far side of the room, with his chin resting in his hand. He looked middle-aged, unshaven, and half asleep. There was a large, open space to the right of the counter with several tables and chairs. A fireplace crackled from the corner. To the left was a small stairway to the second level. I then heard a soft snore, and realized that the man was sleeping, with his eyes half open. The floorboards creaked as I made my way to the human at the counter.
I cleared my throat, but he didn't stir. "Um… excuse me?"
The man made a coughing sound in his throat, and opened his eyes fully. He acted as though he had been awake all the time, and I got the impression that he practiced the trick often. "Ahem, yes, can I help you?" His voice was gruff from sleep.
"Er, uh, yes. I'd like an overnight room," I said.
The man smelt foul; he had either rolled in a pig sty or ate rotten potatoes. He grunted some incoherent reply and motioned to the staircase. The only words I caught were "twenty cents."
I bit the inside of my lip. I had forgotten about money. "Um, oh. I-I don't have enough," I stuttered.
The man shrugged, and leaned forward on the desk. His rancid breath was like smelling burnt garlic. "No fare, no room."
My spirit dropped. I had usually been able to convince people to give me what I wanted, but this man was downright uncivilized. Yet, I had to try. "Sir," I began, "please. I can work off the charge tomorrow, sir… I-I can cook and clean, and I've even –!"
His bloodshot, brown eyes were more aware than they had been all night. He leaned forward again. "I-could get my-boss for you if you'd-like-maybe he'd work something-out for-you-love." His words slurred together, and I now recognized the scent on his breath. Alcohol.
I nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, yes, please do."
And then he hobbled around the counter, and entered a doorway I hadn't noticed under the stairs.
I stayed where I was the entire ten minutes he was gone, during which I heard him open the string bottle he had on his ankle and take a drink. Then, I heard him knock loudly on a door, and another human stood and answered it.
"Yes?" It was a man's voice, undeterred by sleep.
"Mister Wells… sir… there's a girl here, and she cannot pay…"
"Peace, Martin. I'll see her."
"Yes, sir… of course, sir…"
The smelly man didn't come back out, but the new man did. He had a kind face, well shaven and clean for a change. He had deep blue eyes and thick black hair, and he had to duck through the doorway to enter the room. He appeared several years younger than the other man. He was surprised when he saw me, and he appeared concerned as he walked over. "Miss," he said, holding out a hand, "I am Caleb Wells."
I didn't feel keen to shake his hand, so I simply brushed my fingers with his. "C-Cornelia."
"Martin tells me that you cannot meet the fee for the night," he said, somewhat sympathetically.
"Please, sir. I just seek shelter from the storm and I am fully willing to work for the fee. Perhaps in the kitchen, or in –"
"Miss, I haven't the mind to make a slave of you…" He laughed heartily, and I blinked. "We shall speak of compensation in the morning. Now, let's see…" He walked behind the counter and dug around in the shelf under it.
"Oh my," I said, wringing my fingers. "I couldn't possibly accept…"
He stopped suddenly, and looked at me closely. "You haven't been here long. Where is your family? Your parents?"
His perception startled me. I wasn't usually associated with my apparent age, but this man was more observant than the others. "Well, I… I've come from Boston to stay with my… my uncle."
This response seemed to relieve him. "Sorry to intrude, Miss Cornelia, but you seemed very young to be offering yourself for work."
I could only nod and smile, somewhat sheepishly. He returned the smile. Then, he found what he was looking for and motioned to the stairs. "Let me show you to your room."
I followed him up the stairs and into a long hallway of doors. "I cannot thank you enough, sir."
"Worry not," Mister Wells said. Then, after a moment, he stopped in front of the last door on the right and faced me. "Would I be familiar with your uncle?" he asked suddenly. "It is a small town and I know most everyone."
I froze. I hadn't expected him to be so curious. People in the West must be very different from the East. I tried to imagine something that wouldn't sound ludicrous. Obviously the shrewd man would see through any pale lies. My mind flashed to the tawny-eyed man on the street. "Er… Carlisle Cullen?" I resisted the urge to clap my hand over my loose tongue. What have I done?
His eyebrows nearly met his dark hairline. "The doctor?" Then, as if catching himself from rudeness, "I… wasn't aware that Doctor Cullen had any family." He looked troubled.
"Yes… well, yes, he is my mother's brother, who passed away. I'm not surprised that he doesn't favor speaking of it." My lie was unfolding so naturally… so harmfully.
"Oh, I see. Forgive me for inquiring after it," he apologized.
"Think nothing of it. My mother died long ago." Very long ago…
"I bid you goodnight, then, Miss." He held out a key for me to take, and bowed.
I took the key, and said goodnight.
After I'd heard Mister Wells' footsteps return to the room under the stairs, I put the key in the lockbox of the door and turned. I closed the door behind myself quickly and turned the lock again. The room was small, but very comfortable. A red glowing fire burnt low in the hearth, and a candle flickered upon the table to the right. A small bed was shoved into the left corner, and had several quilts upon it. Beside the bed on the left wall was a small wooden wardrobe, which was empty. Two apples, half a loaf of bread, a pitcher of water, and three cups sat on the table.
I immediately sprang for the food and tore a piece off the bread. I had hunted elk the previous day, but my travels had thoroughly exhausted me. After finishing the bread and half of the water, I took off my shoes and set them by the hearth to dry. I laid my dress out to dry as well, and sat by the fire until my underclothes were only damp on my skin. I set my only possession, Lakota's silver dagger, on a shelf in the wardrobe. I wrapped myself in many warm blankets, laid on the soft mattress, and fell into a very deep sleep.