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
5. A Chat with my Uncle
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Chapter 5: A Chat with my Uncle
October 28 th 1789, midnight
Somewhere in Pennsylvania
I cowered in the dark oak forest, hugging my knees to my chest. My hands shook even when I held them tight. The crescent moon offered little illumination to the cold autumn night, but the stars burnt brightly in the midnight sky. Owls hooted quietly from treetops; crickets serenaded the heavens.
I jumped up quickly when a foot stepped on a twig loudly. In panic, I ran.
Arms caught me and held me back, and I started to scream until I realized whose arms they were.
"Lakota!" I hissed, sinking to my knees. I saw his white teeth smile through the dark night. "Did you see them? How many are there?"
"I do not know; countless." Lakota's smile vanished, and he frowned. "Quee has stayed to lure them out," he said, and then I realized that there were other wolves surrounding us. "We will defend you during your return to the village; their feet are swift and they'll reach here soon."
"But, Lakota," I protested, "I want to help you fight! I can –!"
"Ssshh." He held up a hand, and I fell silent. He sniffed the air, and I copied him.
He was right; there are many.
His eyes were bright with bravery, and he pushed me southwest towards the village. "Run, Cornelia. Fast!"
I obeyed. I ran as fast as my feet could carry me, but it wasn't fast enough. The vampire scent got closer and closer the farther I ran.
Suddenly, something hit me. It felt like running headlong into an oncoming train, and it knocked the breath from my lungs as I hit the ground. It pinned my legs before I could act. I forgot all of Quee's and Lakota's combat training when I saw his bloody red eyes. I screamed louder every millimeter it got closer to my neck. I thrashed hard, and finally I broke free! I flipped away to safety… but too late. Pain erupted in my shoulder and my throat burned with my cries. Venom boiled my blood and stung my cells, and then I felt him take a mouthful of my life-giving blood…
I shot upright, panting. I ripped the clothing off my bloody shoulder and... A scar? But –!
I nearly fell off the small bed as I took in my surroundings. The Featherbed... no vampires... no enemies. Shaking my head vehemently, I forced myself to come back to the nineteenth century. I looked at the crescent-shaped scar on my collarbone and sighed heavily. It wasn't the first time that I'd experienced that same memory through my dreams. That's what all my dreams were – memories.
My whole body was covered in a cold sweat, and I shivered as I pushed the quilts off myself. My pale legs shimmered lightly, and my head jerked up to behold the perfectly blue sky out my window.
"Cornelia! Are you in there?" Martha shouted from the hall.
"Yes!" I groaned.
"The day is awaiting, dearie! 'Drop your dreams; rise as the sun'!"
Martha had taken to inventing her own proverbs over the past eight days I'd stayed at The Featherbed. Only her soups kept me asking for more.
The wooden floor felt like frozen ice when I put my bare feet on it. After wrapping a quilt around my shoulders, I quickly slipped on my socks and shoes. I leaned down at the hearth and stuck my finger in the semi-warm ashes there. Shuttering, I stood to get dressed for the day.
Smoothing my newly-finished green smock, I walked down the hallway and descended the stairs. That green dress was the pride of my life. "Hello, Martha," I sang, skipping past the counter.
Her forever-flushed cheeks dimpled when she smiled. "Well, I declare! After all the other guests finish breakfast and gone!"
I giggled affably and took my usual seat. "Oh, Martha," I sighed dramatically, using my finest noble accent. "You've only waken me from the sweetest dream…" Why did I have such an affinity for lying?
"My, my, dear lady. Do tell, I say!" she exclaimed theatrically, flitting to my side with a bowl of cold soup. It was creamy potato soup, with the potatoes I'd helped her peel the previous evening.
We had invented our own tradition of bantering in the morning. I was fast becoming friends with Martha Brown. "Well," I began, "I dreamt of my love. My true love!"
She gasped into her hand and began scrubbing a table with a damp rag. "Gracious me! How was he like, dear lady?"
"Why…" On perfect timing, Mister Wells came out of the door under the stairs, which I had leaned was his private quarters and office. "Why, he was...!" I looked back at Mister Wells and pointed dramatically, pretending to faint upon the table. Martha and I giggled into our hands as Mister Wells watched innocently.
"Have I just become a part of some joke?" he asked offhandedly. A small smile broke on his face when we simply continued to laugh.
"Go-od morning, M-Mister Wells," I said between chuckles. Martha struggled to gain her composure by pretending to drop her rag.
"And to you, Miss Cornelia." No one had queried after my surname, and I hoped to keep it that way for as long as possible… as I didn't have one. "And a fine one it is," he continued, straightening some papers and placing them behind the counter.
"Indeed, yes," I agreed, looking out the window at the blue sky again, still smiling. I'll have to take an umbrella if I'm to go out. The day was Saturday, and Mister Stockton had told me that I had no need to work on that particular day of the week. However, I would appear strange if I simply stayed indoors all day.
"Caleb? Are you going out?" Martha called after her brother as he took his hat from the stand.
"Yes, I need to post this right away." He held up an envelope. "A good day to you, ladies." He tipped his head as he closed the door behind himself. The fire flickered with the wave of cold the door had let in. Apparently the weather wasn't as mild as it appeared to be.
After silently finishing my entire bowl of soup in five spoons, my hands froze when I had the bowl halfway to my waiting tongue. "Yes, I need to post this right away."
"Who's Paul Whittier?" I asked, picturing the letter that sat under my bed next to my leather pouch of coins.
She laughed harmoniously. "Why, he's the senior physician at the clinic, Cornelia."
I deadpanned. I was very familiar with the small doctor's office that they called a "clinic." The "peaceful" vampire's scent went to and from it every day. When I didn't need to sleep, I snuck out of my north-facing window at night to hunt. Many times on such nights, I crossed his scent in the woods. Either he was avoiding me too, or I was more lucky than I thought. I had no clue what a vampire was doing in a doctor's clinic, but I knew it was no good thing. Blood hoarding, mutilation, doctor "assisted" suicide…
"Why do you ask, Cornelia?" Martha asked, bringing me from my musings. "Are you going to see your uncle?"
My white lie had spread around the town like wildfire. Gossipers and chinwags were prattling about it behind my back everywhere I roamed. Thus, I had devised a cleaver story to excuse my complete disregard for my "uncle." Since I discovered that the demon lived very far out of town, I claimed to have wished to live closer to town. Yes, I had spoken with my uncle; yes, he had given his consent to my current residence at The Featherbed. An elaborate falsehood, but it was all I could do to guard his identity as well as mine.
I looked up at Martha as she took my empty dish. She was still waiting for an answer.
"Yes, Martha. I suppose I will."
As I returned to my room to retrieve the note, my plans were dashed when I remembered the weather. Even if I managed to reach the clinic, the demon would probably not be there. On the prior Wednesday, when he usually worked, the sun had prevented him from coming into town. That had been the day that I tracked his scent to the large house in the forest on the border of town. After glimpsing the southern face of the vial lair, I had run back to Hoquiam with all due haste.
Though it would be better to go there when he's not, I suppose. Maybe some clouds will come later...
I set the envelope addressed to "Peter Whittier" in the sun-filled sill of my window, and sat down on the bed to work on my newest sewing project. I had bought ₵2 worth of white cotton for a nightgown. I'd even secured some lace trim for the hems and bust. I pulled my white thread through the fabric... in and out and in and out.
I helped Mister Stockton at the General Store every day from seven o'clock 'til lunchtime, except for the weekends. He paid me fifty cents each day, which was an overly generous sum. I had one dollar and fifty cents saved in my leather money pouch. I had already made my weekly payment of ₵70 to Mister Wells, and had splurged on some caramel chews and peppermint sticks at Mister Stockton's. I had refused when he offered half-price for employee's, and he had laughed at my staunchness.
But what I had my eye on the most was the pocket watch at the glassblower's. The owner, one Mister Elijah Timmins, was a master glassblower and metal-worker. The shop's name ("Timmins' Glassworks") did not elude to his other merchandise. He had glass cups and figures and panes, as well as metal locks and hinges and gadgets. His young apprentice, Nathan Cummings, the tavern owner's son, was deft with soft metals. He was also the designer of the object of my infatuation. The light silver pocket watch and chain in the front window caught my eye every time I walked by the storefront. It had an intricate molding on the face: tall majestic pine trees stand on a high cliff face, overlooking the stormy billowing ocean, fish jumping here and there between the graceful waves. It was $12.
By the sun, it was noon by the time I finished my nightgown. I tried it on, and was very pleased with my work. I had just started stitching the lace onto the collar when Martha knocked at the door.
"Come in, Martha!" I called, picturing her surprise when she heard her own name.
The door opened, and Martha waddled in with two fire logs in her arms. "How'd you know it was me?" she asked, her rosy cheeks turned up in a smile.
I set my needlework aside and stood to help her with the cold fireplace. "You knocked thrice; only you would knock so meekly." I couldn't imagine her appreciation of the fact that I could smell her rose-petal scent through the heavy door.
"Oh, Miss... I digress..."
After helping to stoke the fire and complimenting my fine sewing with the nightgown, Martha offered me some lunch. I declined, favoring to eat in my room. She left to help the lunch crowd of mill workers from the surrounding camps. Most of the workers favored The Featherbed's fine menu and friendly service over the tavern's brusque atmosphere.
As I settled back into my lace hemming, I glanced out of the window. Some puffs of white clouds were drifting overhead, but that didn't necessarily mean it would rain. If I were outside, I would smell it on the wind if it were coming.
Not able to resist temptation any longer, I put my supplies away in the wardrobe and slipped the envelope into the front pocket of my smock. I would walk in the shadow of the buildings on main street while the sun was out. There were many things I still hadn't seen in Hoquiam, and I knew I could find something to keep me out of the sun.
I took a deep breath of the cold, moist, late morning air and set off. As I walked by the Tack and Bridle shop, I head the pounding of a hammer on an anvil. As I walked by the General Store, I heard Mister Stockton selling a pound of raw cinnamon. I wondered if I should buy some new material for another dress… or maybe a cloak for the cool weather. I'll need a pattern... Mrs. Weaver doesn't have any that I can purchase.
The smell in the small shop was of parchment an ink. High, book-filled shelves meandered through the tight space, and I traveled through the dark maze to find the checkout counter. A man in a very fancy, purple suit sat behind it, his chin perched on his fist with his nose in a book. It was entitled Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the English Colonies. I remembered very well when the pamphlet was published by John Dickinson.
The man was very surprised by my sudden presence, and be bumbled his apologies as he half-closed his book. "Hmph, yes, how can I help you?" By the way his h's slurred and his s's dragged, the man was French.
"Yes, sir. I'm looking for a book on sewing patterns."
He motioned to the bookcase on the back wall with a lace-cuffed hand. "There should be several guides in that area, young lady. Talk to me once you find what you're looking for."
"Excellent. Thank you, sir."
"Hm, hm... no trouble at all."
I walked to the shelf and knelt at the bottom. Several titles caught my interest: Felling the Frontier: A Guide on Timbering,Hairstyles for American Women of 1800,A Study: Post-War French and Indian Relations, and The Guide to the Northwest. However, the next shelf up held the item of my search The Seamstress's Helper.
"Excuse me, sir," I said, taking my find back to the counter. The man glanced over top of his book. "How much is this volume?"
"All medium-sized books are $3, Miss."
I tried to hide me surprise. Who knew books were so expensive? "O-Oh. Thank you, then. Good day."
I left the shop with a frown. I hate being poor. I walked along the very edge of my shadow until a reached the end of the street. Then, I turned around and started again.
It wasn't until the forty-seventh turn that clouds came out to cover the sun. And then, it was only a thin cover of white clouds. Sighing at my chronic misfortune, I set out across town to the clinic. When I reached the church's street, I caught his scent. It always lead to and from the clinic, but I could tell that the trail was fresh. He was taking advantage of the clouds, just as I was.
My fingernails were digging into the palms of my hands as I stood in front of the small doctor's office. His scent was all over the small white house; from the small stone path, to the blue wooden door. I could hear voices from inside, but I couldn't pay attention enough to decrypt them. My mind was screaming one thing and one thing alone. Run.
My teeth were grinding against each other as my hand gripped the brass doorknob. It took all my concentration not to crush it. I stared without seeing the red-and-white sign on the door: "Clinic open Monday through Saturday from five in the morning to eight in the evening. No appointments necessary. Surgeon Doctor Paul Whittier residing."
His scent moved just behind the door. The door whose knob I was slowly turning...
"Oh… hello. How can we help you?"
I tried to collect my expression as I address the young human female that had spoken. "Er..."
The room was tiny; like the coat room of a schoolhouse. It looked as though it was the receiving room, as there was a paper-scattered desk where the human sat. Waiting benches were lined along the front walls, and a sliding pine door closed off the next room directly ahead. The human was in normal clothes, with a large white apron tied around her waist. She smiled kindly.
"…Yes, I need to speak with Doctor Whittier."
Her eyes did a quick sweep of my un-harmed body. "Is it about a medical problem?"
I shook my head. "I need to deliver a message."
"Oh. In that case, you could just leave it with me if you like."
I was tempted. Very tempted to simply give her the letter. However, Ephraim's words echoed through my head… "Be sure that only Whittier gets it. Don't let any other hands touch it."
"Um… I'd prefer to deliver it in person, if you don't mind."
She seemed surprised. "Yes, of course. You can go back, then." She motioned to the door.
I nodded to her, and smiled reassuringly. "Thank you, ma'am."
A shockwave of foreboding went through me when my hand touched the door. My instincts to flee made me want to crawl out of my own skin to get away from that door. The human looked at me strangely when I hesitated. So, I forced myself to slide open the door and bravely stepped inside.
The room must have been five times the first; the outside of the building hid its true size. Beds were lined up along the walls, head to foot. Three large cabinets stood in the very middle of the room with medical supplies scattered on top of each. Windows circled the entire room, though there was dark brown draperies covering the light. The hard-wood floors were spot clean, and the prominent smell in the room, other than drugs and medicines, was peroxide. However, when stood out from all the other odors in the room… was vampire.
I saw the demon immediately: he was kneeling in front of the bed in the rightmost corner of the room. Though he was facing away, I saw that he wore a similar suit to what I'd last seem him in (which was also the first time), and he now sported a cream-colored lab coat over it. A little girl sat on the edge of the bed, holding the hand of the man who stood over her, which I assumed was her father. The girl's blue eyes were filled with tears, and her bottom lip trembled as she stared up at her father. My eyes widened when I saw what he was treating. He pulled quick stitches through the torn, bloody skin of her knee.
I felt my stomach churn.
"Can I help you, Miss?"
I turned to the man walking toward me. He had greying hair on either side of his balding head, and his belly barely fit into his trousers. His spread-out brown eyes reminded me that of a frog. He couldn't have been very much taller than my 5'3".
"Doctor Whittier, I presume?"
He spoke briskly, as though very occupied by something. "Yes. Richard Whittier. The pleasure is mine, I'm sure."
He made me feel uncomfortable. "I have a message here for you." I pulled the note from my pocket and held it out to him. "It is from the Quileutes. I was told you were expecting it."
His eyes brightened with recognition, and he took the envelope quickly. "Thank you. I was expecting it. Thank you for bringing it," he said briskly, turning away before he'd finished. Perhaps he is very occupied.
I felt immediately liberated. I'd never expected that I wouldn't even have to encounter him. I turned quickly for the door.
"Oh, Cornelia! Don't leave just yet. I'd like to speak with you."
I froze immediately. It was his voice that had summoned me. I turned only my head, keeping my body angled towards the door. He wasn't even looking at me, though the two humans were. I heard the male ask who I was, and I heard the demon explain that I was his relative, and then I heard the man recall that he'd heard that I was in town. He wrapped the girl's stitched leg with a bulky bandage, and told her not to walk for a few days. The father thanked him, carefully picked the girl up from the cot, and walked towards the door.
The girl leaned against her father's shoulder, still fighting tears. The man was obviously worried about his child, and he merely nodded to me as he passed. The door slid shut unusually loud. The demon faced away towards the bed as he rolled up some spare gauze.
"Carlisle, I need to post something straightway. If Mrs. Parson calls, make sure she stays 'til I return."
"Of course, Doctor Whittier. Farewell."
Doctor Whittier walked by me again, not noticing me at all, stuffing some papers into a new envelope. Then, half turning, "Ah, yes. Thank you again, young lady. Good day to you."
"Good day," I whispered, not really caring if he head me. My eyes were stuck on the demon, who was making a note on the paper that sat on one of the cabinet tops.
The entire atmosphere changed in a matter of seconds when we were alone; it became charged with tense energy and circumspection. I noticed for the first time the ticking of the pocket watch that lay near his inkwell, and the gentle patter of rain that had begun on the windows. Twelve candles hissed from their spots on the walls, in groups of four around the room.
I watched his amber-colored eyes track words on the page as he wrote.
Then, he set the quill down, and straightened. I flattened my back as well, though it did little for my intimidation output. Or lack thereof. He looked at me for the first time, and I looked back. We were both motionless for several long moments, and the wind blew the rain heavily against the house. I waited for him to make the first move, my muscles poised for anything and everything.
Suddenly, with near-silent footsteps, he moved closer. My ankles ached from holding myself there, and I tried to keep my face void of fear. He stopped about five feet from me, and even at that distance I had to look up at his eyes. Those caramel eyes of his stared down at me, completely devoid of any emotion.
"I've heard a rumor," he said abruptly, startling me, "that my niece is in town."
I swallowed dryly. My voice shook, betraying my neutral expression, "W-Well... I... I've heard that as well." This was the moment I'd been dreading; what I had pictured since the first time I told the lie.
I'm sure I misconstrued the small smile that ghosted his lips. He continued, speaking purposely slow, "I'm sure you're aware of the inconspicuousness I wish to keep in Hoquiam."
I nodded slowly, solemnly.
"And you're familiar with the reason for that desire, are you not?"
I nodded again, sharply and surely. "I am."
He sighed then, very quietly, and the human gesture surprised me. Does he confuse himself with them? "Then how, Miss Cornelia, do you suggest we proceed from our current situation?"
I turned my chin up, matching his formal tone, "Is the situation so unacceptable the way it currently is?"
"Miss Cornelia, you forget that I have a 'family member' in town that the residents expect me to support."
"Perhaps she will fare well on her own, sir."
"It would be irresponsible of her care provider to abandon her in such a manner."
"Perhaps she no longer requires a care provider."
"A seventeen-year old girl who has just traveled from Boston?" he countered. His tone questioned my sanity.
"Eighteen," I amended, becoming indignant.
"Nonetheless," he retorted. "Why is she here?"
I balked. I didn't have one for that – I didn't even know the answer myself. Yet, I stood my ground with stubbornness and pride. "That's not of your concern."
He took one confident, broad step forward, and my façade nearly shattered. His voice was cold and curt, "I beg to differ."
I bit my lip hard to keep from retreating. "Doctor Cullen," I addressed him harshly, using his title for the first time. "What do you suggest?"
He blinked – another human exercise – and said nothing. What strange world had this demon emerged from?
I felt anger fill me, and felt a will rise up from somewhere within me. "A more important question would be your purpose here." A will to fight. "Why are you a doctor? Why do you walk among them? And why are your eyes that absurd color?"
His posture became more and more stiff with each question. The muscle in his jaw worked as he nearly glared down at me. I could tell he was fighting to keep his carefully-cultivated composure. "Perhaps this is not the best place for those answers." He spoke through gritted teeth.
"No. Perhaps not."
I turned on my heel and promptly left the establishment...
Scared out of my mind.