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
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Chapter 4: Hoquiam
October 22 nd 1813, 7:11am
Hoquiam, Oregon Country
The sun woke me. I hadn't noticed the window over the bed before, and now the dark sky had brightened with sunshine. Grey clouds were still out; it looked as though it had rained all night.
I turned onto my back stiffly. I hadn't slept long enough, because I didn't feel comfortable in the strange place. Finally rising ten minutes later, I finished most of the water in the pitcher and ate one of the apples. I shivered in the cold morning air; the fire had gone out during the night. My dress and shoes were dry, and I used the rest of the water to rinse my face after I'd gotten dressed.
I heard voices from downstairs when I stepped out into the hallway. As I cautiously descended, I saw two other guests had been up already, and were enjoying a meal at one of the tables. A new face was behind the counter, and the young lady smiled broadly when she saw me.
"Good morning! Mister Wells told me that you had arrived last evening."
I smiled. "Yes, just last evening."
She walked over to me and took one of my hands in hers. "Oh, dear! You're chilled through! Let me get you something warm to drink," she said, pulling me over to the closest table.
I sat on the wooden chair, entertained by her hospitality. Her round cheeks were flushed and her blue eyes were bright. She wore a simple brown dress with a faded brown apron, and half of her dark brown hair was covered with a dark blue cloth. Her subtle beauty and stout figure were charming. "W-Why, thank you."
"Not at all, dear, not at all! Serving is what I like best." Producing a bowl from behind the counter, she rushed to the fireplace in the corner, and filled the bowl with some hot liquid from a pot that hung there. She then set the steaming bowl on the plate in front of me, and I noticed a spoon a fork off to the side.
It appeared as though my white lie from the previous night had spread to other ears.
"You're too kind. Thank you so much." I looked up at the woman gratefully.
"You're very welcome, dear. I'm Martha, by the way. Martha Brown."
I then understood why I had taken to the woman so quickly. The woman who had "adopted" me in after I was born; the woman who taught me the meaning of life – her name had been Martha, and she'd had blue eyes. The Boston smallpox in 1780 had separated us forever. I swallowed thickly. "My name's Cornelia," I said to Martha.
"Good to meet you, Miss Cornelia." She was distracted by another guest arriving downstairs. Enjoy your meal!"
I took the spoon from the table and dipped it in the bowl. I blew the steam off the liquid and put it too my lips. It was chicken broth.
"You're a new face around here, aren't you?"
I looked up at the person who had spoken. The two men at the table across from mine were looking at me curiously. The elder man with grey hair had spoken. "Um, yes. I just arrived last evening."
"So they tell me…," the man remarked.
I felt embarrassed that they already knew so much about me. A lie about me, granted, but something nonetheless. "Do you live here in Hoquiam, sir?" I asked, wanting to level the conversation.
"Naw," he drawled. "I'm a fisherman up in Port Angelis. The name's George. I'm in town for s'pplies."
"I'm Cornelia," I said, tipping my head in greeting.
"This here's Jonathan, my accomplice." The old man laughed roughly and smacked the other man on the shoulder.
The second man nodded to me; he was younger than George but they looked similar in appearance. "It's a pleasure, Miss. Don't let my brother scare you away." He smiled good-naturedly.
George tore off into another fit of laughter.
I couldn't help but chuckle. "I haven't heard of Port Angelis… is it north of here?"
Jonathan spoke for his brother this time. "It's just a small fishing village; I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it."
I nodded in acknowledgement and took another sip of my broth. The guest that Martha had greeted walked by to sit at the farthest table by the fire. It was a young man in a black robe.
"Mornin', Father," George said, grinning. It was disrespectful to address a cleric in such a manner, but I simply explained it as another strange thing people in the West did.
"Good morning to you, Mister George. I trust your evening was peaceful?" His voice was monotone, and he only glanced up long enough to nod.
"As peaceful as a church on Sund'y night," he said factually, and then started laughing away.
The Father's face was stoic.
I finished my broth quickly; the young man made me nervous.
"Miss Brown?" I caught her on my way out.
She stood from her work behind the counter and smiled. "Please – just Martha."
"Martha," I amended. "Do you know when I may speak with Mister Wells?" I had already determined that he was not in the building.
"He's gone to the next town for something, but I'm sure he'll be back by nightfall, Miss."
I nodded. "Thank you."
The morning was crisp and damp. The thin cloud cover overhead shielded the world from the sunbeams of light. Few townspeople walked the streets, and a horse-pulled wagon was pulled up to the building across the street. The words "Hoquiam General Store" was written on the front, and a large window showed its variety of merchandise inside. Men were unloading supplies from the wagon and carrying them inside.
The devastation of the storm could be seen everywhere – branches and leaves were scattered throughout town. Several men were helping clear a large limb off the church lawn as I walked by.
As I walked, I thought what I could do with myself there. It now seems awfully silly of me to be here. I had come on a whim, and a whim can only take you so far. Then, it struck me. I didn't have to work for Mister Wells to pay my debt; I could find employment anywhere in town.
I briskly jogged back to the General Store.
There was a tall woman in a purple dress speaking to the merchant behind the counter when I entered. Most the merchandise was stacked in the ceiling-to-floor shelves behind the counter, and whatever wasn't on the shelves was in barrels or sacks. Some jars of candy were lined up on a table to the left of the door, and a large crates were stacked up to the right with labels such as "sugar" and "barley."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll place the order immediately."
"Thank you, John. That's all I need today."
"Very good. A fine day to you."
The lady in purple eyed me curiously as she turned and walked out the door. I stepped up to the counter. "Hello," I said.
The brown-eyed, brown-haired man looked surprised when he saw me. "Well, hello! What can I help you with, little lady?"
"Well… actually, I was wondering if I could help you. Are you looking to hire, sir?"
He smiled when he heard this. "I've been considering hiring some part-time aid for a while now, in fact." He paused. "But aren't you a little… young to be looking for such a thing, Miss?"
"Um…" Why are humans so inquisitive in the West? "I've just arrived here from Boston, so I have very little. It would help me greatly if I could earn a small salary."
His eyes lit in comprehension, but he still didn't look very convinced. "All right, then. You can start helping me here for a small bit of cash, and maybe it'll be profitable for the both of us as we move along." He smiled wide and stuck his hand out to me over the counter space. "I go by the name 'John Stockton' here in town, Miss."
"I'm Cornelia," I said, taking his hand in a light shake. "Thank you very much, Mister Stockton."
"Have you a place to stay in Hoquiam, Miss Cornelia? Do you have family here?"
I briefly considered how I should respond. It was apparent that this man had not heard my lie yet, but if I told another story to him then people would begin to question. I had already made a claim, and I'd better stick to it. "I've come to live with my uncle," I said vaguely.
His next question was natural, "What's his name? I probably know him."
I took a deep breath and said, "Carlisle Cullen."
His reaction was similar to Mister Wells'. "Doctor Cullen? Who would have thought that man had… family!" He laughed, and then quickly turned it into a couch. "Yes, well… when would you like to start?"
I smiled. "As soon as possible."
Very shortly, I was stocking shelves with new supplies and dusting windowsills. Mister Stockton helped the frequent patrons that passed the threshold, and I worked behind the scenes to make their shopping experience a good one. However, I heard customers murmur about me behind my back; even Mister Stockton gossiped about my supposed uncle. My heart sank deeper and deeper with each whisper. How will I get out of that situation?
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my work so well that I was surprised when Mister Stockton informed me that it was lunchtime. He told me I'd worked enough for that day, and gave me my first pay: fifty cents. He said that I could return the next day for more work. I lost count of how many times I thanked him.
With five shiny dimes clenched in my hand, I felt on top of the world as I walked back out into Hoquiam. It was enough to pay my fee at The Featherbed and to buy some new clothes. I put two dimes in my pocket to pay Mister Wells when he returned that evening, and walked down the main street of town.
There was a tavern directly across from The Featherbed, called simply "Hoquiam Tavern." I pictured a much less refined version of the inn I had chosen. A glassblowing shop was next to the General Store, and a bookstore stood at the end of the buildings on the right. A Post Office stood all alone at the end of the street, and two men were arguing over a newspaper headline on the porch. The last building on the left was my destination: "Hoquiam Tailor Shop."
The shop was much more spacious than the General Store, and there were more windows that let light in. Glass-paned cabinets along the western wall held yarns and thread of all colors. On the opposite wall was scores and scores of materials. There were solids, florals, and tartans of all varieties in rolls along the wall. Along the back wall was a long wrack of pre-made clothes. A thin lady in an apron sat in the far left corner on a stool, sticking and pulling a needle through a piece of blue cloth. A middle-aged man with red hair stood spoke with a young lady by the material rolls. The whole room smelt of fresh flax and cotton, and the bright colors and lighting was very appealing.
When I stepped further into the room, the woman on the stool looked up at me. She smiled as she walked over to me. "Welcome, dear. I don't think we've had the pleasure –?" Her misty voice complimented her willowy frame, and her wide blue eyes were curious as she awaited my introduction.
"Cornelia, ma'am. I'm new in town."
"Millicent Weaver, Miss Cornelia. But don't let the name fool you – I'm the town's seamstress." She giggled at her own little joke and embraced me lightly around the shoulders.
I tried to relax around her motherly manner. "It's good to meet you, Miss Weaver."
"But, dear, where's your mother?" She stepped back and looked behind me, as though to find something there.
"She… passed away while I was living in Boston. I've come here to live with my uncle." The lie was so easy now; I was beginning to believe it myself.
Empathy erupted in her kind eyes and I felt as though I'd just told her that her mother died. "My God, how terrible that must be for you… I apologize for –"
I put up a hand to stop her. "No need. It happen long ago when I was very young."
But she was still close to tears.
Wanting to change the subject away from myself, I smiled and said, "I'm looking for a new dress."
Seeing my discomfort, she immediately brightened. "Is that so? You've come to the right place, Miss."
She lead me to the back of the store and showed me the variety of dresses they had in my size. After taking my eye color and complexion into consideration, she declared that the royal blue muslin dress and overcoat suited me best. I consented easily… until I looked at the price tag. I tried not to gawk at the $2 tag and insisted that something warmer would do with the cooling weather. However, even the simple, forest green cotton dress was ₵75.
Deeply concerned (yet subtly unnoticing) about my financial situation, Millicent lead me to the raw material section. I found the very same gingham green, cotton material, and determined that ₵12 worth of the fabric would be enough for an ankle-length dress and a hair covering. Another ₵8 of a matching solid green material would make a fine smock. I paid four more cents for a needle, thread, and scissors, and thanked Millicent for her time.
I took my purchases and my remaining ₵6 back to my room at The Featherbed, and found that Mister Wells had returned early. He treated me to an afternoon lunch, and we discussed my situation over a steaming bowl of Martha's fresh vegetable soup. I produced the two dimes from my pocket, and Mister Wells looked impressed.
"Mister Stockton at the General Store has taken me on part-time," I informed him.
He nodded. "John has been wanting an employee for a while. I'm happy that you've occupied yourself here so quickly."
I smiled. "I can't thank Mister Stockton enough."
As we talked, I leaned that he had inherited the inn from his grandfather who had passed away. Much like myself, he had moved to Hoquiam away from his family to manage the business.
"You've no family here, Mister Wells?" I asked.
"Only my sister – Martha."
"Martha is your sister –!" I was surprised; save their eyes, they looked little alike.
"Yes," he said, smiling at my disbelief. "She married Shamus Brown shortly after we moved here. You may have met him at the tailor's. He's worked there for years, and they live together in the apartment above the shop."
I remembered the red-haired man I'd seen at the Tailor Shop, and nodded.
In the end, Mister Wells and I came to a financial arrangement. He would charge me half-price (a very generous ten cents) until I could find permanent arrangements in town. I could feel his curiosity as to why I didn't simply stay with my "uncle," but he was too polite to inquire after the topic. I didn't understand his boundless generosity, but thanked him endlessly anyway.
I returned to my ten-cent room and began work on my new outfit. While I had been out, Martha had rekindled my hearth and refilled my pitcher with clean water. I dragged a chair from the table to sit by the fire, and laid my supplies out of the bed. I had photographically memorized the pattern that Millicent had showed me, so I made cuts here and there on the material to begin. I sewed as quickly as my super-human dexterity allowed, yet I had only finished half of the dress after two full hours.
Wanting to stretch my stiff legs, I went back outside for a stroll in town. More clouds had gathered on the horizons, and I smelt that rain was soon to come. I walked by the main street shops, the church, and the doctor's office to reach the small human neighborhood on the far side of town. Most of the homes were two-story duplexes, but some privately-owned homes were larger.
For the first time, I noticed a small trade shack beyond the houses. Several wagons were waiting to pick up supplies for trade, and several were unloading purchased supplies. I spoke with the employee that managed the stables, and discovered that Hoquiam was a major lumber hub in the North. Traders from as south as Nevada came to buy their cuts, and they even bartered with some French-speaking Canadians. There were several lumber camps and mills surrounding Hoquiam for many miles.
On my way back to The Featherbed, I caught a scent that I wasn't expecting. Werewolf.
I tracked it to the building across the street from my inn – the tavern.
Forcing myself through the swinging wooden doors, I was met with the putrid smell of alcohol and smoke. There was laughing and yelling all around the two story, open room. There were two gentlemen at the bar, competing on who could drink more before passing out. The third man had already passed out at his stool. Tables and chairs filled ever available space in the room, and many groups of men were playing cards or dice games at them. However, a space had been cleared in the center of the room (tables had obviously been pushed aside, adding to the clutter) where a group of men stood in a circle. The other patrons seemed not to notice them, and the bartender was watching nervously, looking pretty helpless.
A boy, appearing about 15 or 16 years of age, stood in the center of the circle of men. His dark skin and brown hair gave away his heritage easily. Apparently, the six white men had some sort of quarrel with the boy. The latter, sensing my presence, looked behind himself at me. His expression blanked, and he opened his mouth to say something…
Then, as he was distracted, the man nearest him swung his fist at him. The human's knuckles cracked against the boy's jaw, no doubt fracturing in several places. The boy stepped back in surprise, and put up his hands in surrender. The man clutched his fist and howled in pain.
"Son of a bitch!" another man yelled, staring at the boy.
"S-S-Sorry!" the boy stuttered, stepping away and waving his hands.
He bumped into a third man, and he grabbed the boy by the collar and shoved him down to his knees. "What the hell is wrong with you, Black?" the human yelled.
Black. Titus Black. His son, perhaps? "Stop that!" I shouted.
Nearly every eye in the bar turned to me. The men in the group laughed, and my knees all but buckled by the smell alone.
The man who held Black eyed me with his bloodshot eyes, and a smile creased the sweaty, unshaven skin of his face. Tobacco smacked in his mouth as he spoke, "Who says, little girl?"
I squared my shoulders with what dignity I had. "Let that boy go, sir. What you're doing is wrong."
Another ripple of laughter went through the crowd, and some men at the tables looked up from their cards. The man with the tobacco seemed to be the ringleader. "I just have a small dispute to settle with young Ephraim here," he drawled, smirking.
The boy was struggling to keep his composure as he was held down, and I became worried. I'd known young wolves to be dangerous; Lakota had never let me near his sons when they first transformed. But I was unsure... Perhaps wolves in the West are different, as well?
My hands began to shake at my sides. "Sir, let him go. You don't know what –"
Suddenly, the boy gave a terrible cry, and within half a second he was out of the door. All the humans present were startled; it must have looked like he simply disappeared. Without ado, I quickly left the bar while the humans were distracted.
Outside, the boy had already made it halfway down the main street. At least he remembered to run like a human. I tore off after him, and caught up as quickly as I could. He was already behind the Post Office when I reached him.
"You there!" I shouted, slowing my steps.
He had already fell to his knees on the ground. He breathed heavily and clenched his fists to his chest. His gaze was frozen on the ground. He had almost lost control for sure.
I carefully put a hand on his shoulder, and his head snapped back immediately to glare at me. "I-I apologize. I saw you there… I simply had to help –"
"No," he growled, standing rigidly. I stepped back. "They're not right." He turned, and his eyes burned down at me. "Father only sent me to give this to Peter Whittier." He shoved a half-crumpled envelope towards me firmly, speaking abruptly. "They didn't like my skin."
I took the letter from him. "Peter Whittier" was roughly scribbled on the front; a name I wasn't familiar with. I looked up at the boy and smiled kindly. "I'll make sure he receives it. You can go home if you have no other business in Hoquiam."
"No, I don't," he spat, annoyed. "Be sure that only Whittier gets it. Don't let any other hands touch it. He'll know what it is when he sees it." Then he paused, as though realizing something important. "Wh-Who are you?"
"Oops, I should introduce myself. I'm Cornelia." I offered my hand, and his forever-fevered one shook mine firmly.
"Ephraim. Ephraim Black."
I smiled; he was proud of that name, and rightly so. "I'm sure we'll be seeing more of each other, Ephraim."
His eyes narrowed, and I could tell that he knew what I was. After a moment he stood to his full height and nodded sharply. "Very well, Cornelia. I'm going now."
"Farewell." I curtsied.
He smiled at my mock-formality and bowed before turning to the dirt trail that lead out of town.