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The Ashen-Cloaked Child

Aro may not have been able to get Renesmee, but he was going to have a half-vampire in his guard. Somehow.


2. Interim

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Aro had turned out to be a good lover, though I sensed most of his energy had been spent trying to keep me alive (and accidentally breaking my bed), leaving little room for either of us to really enjoy it as much as we could have. Still, it was good.

Before he left, he told me that if I was pregnant I would know within the week – that is, if I paid close attention. He would come again, then, ifthe seed did not take. His words, not mine.

After a few hours' sleep, I dragged myself out of bed. According to the rest of the Volturi, nothing had happened last night, and they would be expecting me at the same time as always. But even tired and sore as I was in the outfit I had carefully picked out to hide the bruises, I found some extra thrill in my work that day. Jane flitted in and out of my work area. I slept with Aro last night, I told her in my head. When Felix and Demetri teased me by feigning interest, I slept with Aro last night teased them back. I looked at the entrance to the wives' tower and whisper-thought I slept with Aro last night. And when humans filed in for lunch, I told them, I slept with the guy who's going to eat you, and had to resist a small giggle. I rarely got so giddy, and it was really rather childish, but it got me through the day.

Throughout the week,I began to notice other small changes. I was usually a pretty good sleeper, but I became far more restless. My eating habits changed, and I began reacting strangely to certain smells. A simple pregnancy test confirmed it, and I slipped the thin stick into a Ziploc bag and slid it between papers to give to Aro. The next day I was ordered to move out of my apartment. I would have a room in the Volturi's castle from now on.

Thus the last stage of my life began. By the end of the month I'd be either immortal or dead. All I'd planned and dreamed for for years was culminating, and while I was rather excited, I also felt a little disappointed. In truth, I'd been hoping we would fail the first time. When Aro left me that first night, he'd left me wanting more, and now I was afraid I would never get it, since he'd gotten what he wanted.


Rooming arrangements were interesting. My first item of business was to get plumbing installed near my room. The only ones in the whole castle were the public ones downstairs by my work area, and it would never do for me to use those while I was living here. We could hardly put my personal hygiene need where the public could see, and my room was so far away that I was worried I wouldn't be able to make it when I got further along in my pregnancy. I only needed a rudimentary toilet, sink, and shower for one month, and I got them. Meanwhile I collected every scrap of firewood and blankets I could get. I could install plumbing, but gas heating was out of the question – too expensive – and neither I nor my baby would be going cold. Other than that, I'd be doing fine. I had maternity clothes and a nice soft bed. Another young woman was assigned to wait on me – no doubt she'd be taking my place as secretary soon – and better yet, she was a nurse, with the training to set whatever bones the baby broke.

She also could get me blood – illegally, but the Volturi would pull a few strings in order to get that overlooked. I was actually a little nervous about the blood-drinking. It was ironic that I had filed thousands of victims through those doors, knowing that if I got my desire, I would someday drain their blood myself, but when it came to sipping it through a cup, I got queasy. But I had never thought I would have to do it while human, and I lacked the imagination to really believe I would starve without it. But I would do it eventually.

Meanwhile, I would work as secretary for as long as I could. But that all changed as well. None of the vampires talked to me anymore, mostly for fear of Jane (I could tell when she passed by it took nearly every ounce of her control not to kill me), but also because they resented me. I'd be getting into the guard the easy way. I was hurt, but also more determined. I'd end up changing their minds about me somehow in the course of eternity. Nevertheless, I was glad when I had to quit.

I could feel the baby now, and it was getting stronger. It wasn't hurting me yet, at least not very much, but it was there. I thought about what I would do when it got out of me. Feed it, yes, clothe it and care for it, but it wouldn't need those services very long. Perhaps then I would find a place for us among this elite group of law-enforcers that passed for a vampire coven.