A chance encounter in her local coffee shop brings Bella's life to a grinding halt. Who is this stranger that knows things about her, she had only dreamed of ever finding out? How do they cope when they face a common enemy?
3. Chapter 2: Filia Reginae Pauones
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”Filia Reginae Pauones”
She was dumbfounded. How could he possibly know about her mother’s locket?
Instinctively her hand went to the jewellery hidden beneath her shirt. She had always had the jewellery on her body, keeping it as close to her heart as her outfit allowed. It belonged to her mother and it was the only reminder she allowed herself to keep of her.
“Isabella, your locket.” He inquired impatiently.
She hesitated for a second before retrieving the pendant. She curled her hand protectively around the shell and looked with distrust at her stranger. “Why? What do you need it for?” she asked.
“I need what’s inside the locket. It’s a key.”
“Inside?” she looked at him with questions in her eyes. “I didn’t even know it could open,” she mumbled, speaking more to her self than for his benefit.
“You never opened it? Weren’t you curious about the content inside the locket?” he was astounded.
This time she spoke up: “No, I didn’t know it could do that.”
“Well then. Let’s open it and see.”
She looked down at her hand, which had remained tightly clasped around the locket. Slowly she willed her fingers to uncurl from their grasp, revealing a round bronze locket. A peacock adorned the face of the locket, its tail feathers standing proud and each bedecked with one red ruby in the centre.
But this time when she looked at the locket, with which she considered herself very familiar, she noticed the emerald gemstone representing the peacock’s eye very much resembled the colour of Edward’s.
He looked down into her hands perusing the locket for the first time. It very much resembled what he had imagined it to look like, and felt a small sense of satisfaction in knowing this might work for him.
“Can I?” he asked tentatively since she seemed particularly sensitive with everything concerning this possession of hers.
She silently yielded, handing him the jewellery. Carefully she placed it into his awaiting palm, once again blown away by the energy surging through her when her fingers came into contact with the skin of his hand.
“Thank you,” he said in soft tones, slightly turning the locket so the head of the peacock faced him. The locket had the mechanics to open on the side. He studied the lock and wondered how exactly he would get it open.
“What now?” she asked.
“Just give me a minute.”
When he had been staring at the locking device of the locket for 3 minutes, she became impatient.
“Don’t you know what you’re doing?”
He hesitated but continued staring intensely at the entrapment before him, “I don’t exactly know how to open it. We were never told…”
“What? Who never told you?” She looked at him with her brows drawn together and a frown marred the corners of her lips.
This time he looked at her with annoyance. “’Who’ is not your concern! Anyway, they obviously didn’t tell me, so that leaves this discussion at a moot point, don’t you think?” he stated with annoyance at her enquiry.
“Not really no.” she rebutted.
He drew in a breath through his nose, his nostrils flaring at her. “Oh really, how so? Please do inform me princess!” he stressed his nickname for her, knowing it would annoy her. He knew it was petty of him to goad her, but he was infuriated by this utter powerlessness not knowing how to open the locket left him with.
“You are impossible! Do you ever answer what you’re asked? Or is it only my questions you refuse to acknowledge?” Her cheeks were flaming red by now and she could feel her heartbeat pounding in her chest. “And don’t call me that,” she added.
Their eyes were interlocked during their entire discussion. They didn’t notice they had moved slightly towards each other, so only his hand holding the locket remained in the space between them. His fingertips were pressed against the fabric of her shirt and pressing into the soft skin of her upper-abdomen. She could see every imperfection of his facial skin; the slight stubble on his chin and a small scar in the corner of his right eye. He felt her breath puffing against the top of his neck and chin and his lips parted slightly, his own breath panting onto her forehead.
And standing like that they both felt the tension between them spark with an intensity neither had ever experienced before. It was like the air surrounding them were filled with electricity and they were the poles attracting the electrical sparks. They were repelling and attracting each other at the same time, neither of them able to move away from or closer to the other.
His fingers twitched against her where they rested on her stomach. His touch sent warm butterflies flying through her body. She was panting at this point, completely unfamiliar with the sensations flowing inside her. When she looked back into his eyes, she was once again taken aback by the colour and emotion displayed in his. He was staring straight back into her chocolate ones with a burning jade, the green of his own turning darker closer to the pupil. The intensity of his stare sent her mind spinning, and she drew in a quick breath, the air squeezing through her soft, ruby lips and disturbing the air of sizzling electricity.
He drew back astounded by the power she seemed to have over him. He had been absolutely focused on every little aspect of her, yet hadn’t noticed the fact that there barely remained 4 inches between them before the enchantment that seemed to befall them lifted. She was dangerous.
She observed his retrieval with questions in her eyes. Questions in the nature of ‘what was that’ were on the forefront of her mind. But if she were to be honest with herself questions like ‘why did he withdraw’ hid beneath the other ones, pushing their way to the forefront.
She shook her head trying to rid herself completely of the thoughts invading her mind. They weren’t welcome. In fact her entire behaviour since she stumbled after him in the coffee shop was alien to her.
A creeping silence filled the air around them. It descended upon them, making her twitch her fingers and shuffling her feet. She was nervous.
She avoided looking into his eyes, instead focusing on her locket still lying in his palm.
“So how do we open it?” She was the first to break the silence, still avoiding eye contact.
He hesitated. “I don’t know.”
He was studying the locket, trying to come up with a way to open it. He briefly entertained the notion of trying to break it up with force, but he had a feeling she wouldn’t appreciate him going bonkers on her locket.
He turned the locket on its side sticking his thumbnail into the locking devices, trying to pry it open. It didn’t budge in the slightest and he put more force into his antics.
She was appalled. Was he trying to wreck it?
She grabbed for the locket making contact with his finger still lodged inside the lock. And that’s when they heard it. A slight click sounded from the small pendant. They both froze staring into the other’s eyes.
Carefully she removed her hand from his taking the locket with her. It opened with ease as she held it in her palm between them.
Nestled inside the locket was a small silver coin. She didn’t know what she had expected to show on the inside of the jewellery, but was slightly disappointed it weren’t some form of memorabilia of her mother, or even a picture. Didn’t lockets normally hold pictures inside of them?
Instead she gazed upon the small silver coin. It seemed rather antique and couldn’t have been a form of currency. At least not one she knew of. The side of the coin facing towards them was adorned with yet another peacock. ‘What was with this obsession with birds?’ she thought.
“What is this?” she asked.
“You don’t know? Don’t you recognize it?” He was more curious than anything else. ‘She really don’t know what all this is about,’ he thought.
“No, I’ve never seen this before.”
He took the coin from the locket contemplating what was best. To tell her and risk her not believing him or let her see for herself and be forced to believe. He opted on the last option. He really couldn’t afford the first one, too much were at stake.
“Just watch,” he calmed her, picking up the book he’d sat back upon the shelf during their staring contest. He turned the cover so the book turned towards her, and placed the coin into the small indention of the book. It fit perfectly. “Turn it,” he ordered her.
She hesitated for just a second, before placing the tip of her index finger upon the edge of the coin. The peacock was placed upside-down, and she turned it until it was sitting correctly in the hole.
As soon as the coin was placed correctly in the cover she removed her finger, watching in awe as the coin began glowing enhancing the shape of the peacock.
“It’s a key. It’ll allow us to open the book.” He was staring at her petite form, amazed and a little relieved the coin worked.
She was still staring intently down at the coin, which was beginning to melt away into the cover. Only the peacock stood proud against the leather, while the background of the coin glided into the book. Meanwhile letters began appearing on the otherwise nameless cover, descripting: ‘Filia Reginae Pauones’.
She tentatively touched the letters, marvelling at the beautiful inscription. “What does it mean?” she asked him, staring briefly into his eyes before returning her gaze to the book.
“It’s Latin,” he said. “It means Queens Daughter of Peacocks.” He was staring at her, trying to gauge her reaction.
“You know Latin?” she questioned, surprised and somewhat pleased by this new information.
He was looking at her funnily. “Yes I do. I learned Latin, as well as French and Spanish, a long time ago,” he mused. She had bewitched him. That was certainly not the reaction he’d anticipated from her, and he was rather bewildered towards her behaviour.
“Oh…” she paused, “That’s impressive.” She didn’t know how to react. She’d learned a sliver of Spanish during her high school years, but could not exactly brag about her mad foreign language skills. “What does it mean?”
“What does what mean?” he asked.
“’The princess of birds’-thing,” she inclined towards the book.
He paused, running his index finger along the first letters. “Well, it’s an old urban legend really.” He looked towards her, trying to yet again gauge her reaction. “It should be in here somewhere.” He looked back to the book, tapping twice onto the cover, encouraging her to open it and read for herself.
She reached for the book, taking it from his grasp and slowly opened it to reveal the first pages. An envelope, which had been nestled between some of the pages of the book, came free and glided to the floor of the library. It landed in a flowing motion face down, and Edward bent at the knees, retrieving the object from its position on the ground.
He turned it in his hand, reading the name of the person the letter was addressed for. His shock was short-lived as he realised the letter was for the woman standing before him.
He met her questioning stare. “It’s addressed for you,” he handed her the letter, grazing the palm of her hand as he retrieved his own. He realised he had this urge to touch her as much as possible, and physically felt his heart beating at double speed whenever his skin came into contact with hers. ‘This is dangerous,’ he thought.
She turned the letter twice in her small hand, briefly handing him the open book. She studied the lettering at the front correctly addressing the letter for Isabella M. Swan. She didn’t recognize the writing, and was rather trepid opening it.
“Don’t open it.”
She startled. “Why not?”
“I don’t know, but read this.” He pushed the book towards her, showing her the inscription of the preface.
I’m assuming you’re successful in introducing my daughter to our world, since you’ve accomplished getting this far in the process as reading these words.
This book is, as you well should know, a heritage from my husband’s sister and should very well serve the purpose of satisfying whatever questions my daughter might have.
As you’ll discover I’ve added a personal letter for her, which I ask you to give to her and instruct her to read when she feels ready. This means she should not read it before discovering what this book has to tell her and not before she’s alone.
I’m counting on you to do right by our values and thank you!
Sincerely, Regina vestra.’
She silently turned the page and was even more perplexed by what showed on the next pages. The left page contained a hidden one, and when she unfolded the paper from its place nestled into the centre, it revealed a map.
The map had an almost pirate-y feel to it. She suddenly felt like she was 5 years old again, running around her backyard on her birthday, trying to locate the hidden treasure her dad had brought out here for her. She’d spent many a birthdays and grand occasions chasing treasures and presents around their house and yard.
She refolded the hidden page, saving her studying of the map for a later time, and preferable a time when she had satisfied her need to find out what the rest of the book contained.
A few pages into the book showed nothing but a few artistic swirls. They seemed to be hand painted on the paper and not one painting was similar to the previous one. Some swirls were in bright colours while others were subtler in their expression. She was studying the pages of painting trying to decide whether they meant anything significant or if they were only added to the book to give it an artistic expression.
She turned another page and was briefly surprised by the writing. She had almost anticipated the book to only contain art by the time she’d passed the fifth page of artistic and colourful swirls. She let out a breath through her lips, her eyes scanning the words before her.
“What does it say?”
He was studying her, trying to determine what the letters on the page between them said, but honestly, the book was upside down and the letters were fairly small to begin with. Besides patience was never a strong suit of his.
“Hmm… It seems to be a fairy tale of sorts.” She replied.
“Well then, read it.” He hurried her.
“If you like to,” he was smiling softly; trying to lay of the pressure that he wanted her to read it aloud to him. He was equally curious as to what the writing contained and to hear her soft, melodic voice narrate it to him.
“Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, a king ruled. He was a noble king, one not unkind to even the lowest scum of his subjects. No, his people loved him, and he them. But the one he adored most of all was his queen. She granted him 3 beautiful children; a boy, a girl and another boy. He lived in harmony in his small kingdom, a true family, together and happy.
“But The Queen was only at her happiest in her vegetable garden. She adored the labour involved with caring for her plants and vegetables, and she was particularly proud of a small display of strawberry plants. Every day she nurtured the plants, watching them grow, their stems shooting through the earth and rising towards the mother of all life, the sun.
“One morning on her peaceful walk to the gardens, the Queen felt overcome with darkness, roughly forcing her to bow into the dirt beneath her golden slippers. A knight was patrolling through the garden and jumped to her aid when she crumbled. He carried her to the king, who was beside himself with worry. He sent word to fetch the royal physician.
“The King was heartbroken when the doctor announced The Queen had fallen ill to a disease, and he were not be able to cure her. So The King trusted his Kingdom to his eldest son, Aerondale, while he set out to find a cure that could save his wife from the terrible faith that had befallen her.”
Bella paused, staring blankly at the pages and the colourful drawings that surrounded the script. “What does it all mean?” she looked at him with question in her eyes, hoping he would give her the answer. She was prepared for disappointment. He had yet to disclose a single answer to any of her questions this far, so it was surprising for her when he answered.
“I’ve heard this tale before. When I was a kid, my mother used to read it aloud for me and my brother.” He mused. “My father said it was simply a tale made by child’s imagination, but my mother refused to acknowledge that. She insisted the story originated from behind the walls of the castle-”
“Castle?!” she interrupted him, slightly disturbed and honestly a little intrigued by the fairy tale and his account. “Is this some sort of joke?”
He looked timidly at her, realising how this must sound to her ears. “Isabella, I’m not from here…” He paused, gauging her reaction. She remained stoic before him, refusing to budge and mistakenly provide him with an out of explaining this to her. “You aren’t either. We’re from another realm, you and I. Here by accident and choice. I was sent here to bring you back, to guide you back to your real world.”
Her jaw slackened from its hold, shaping her red lips into a small ‘o’. She was speechless and frozen in her position, holding the book tightly in her trembling hands.
“I don’t know what this story has to do with you,” he mused. “I recall it ending happily ever after, as most stories do, whenever my mother told it.” He pried the book from her hold, turning the page and pausing, before reading aloud.
“The King travelled the country far and wide, searching desperately for some word or help to stop his queen’s suffering. He travelled from the eastern forests of vigour to the barren plains of the west, up to the freezing temperatures of the north and down to the scorching heat of The Dragon Valley of the south.
“He searched the kingdom, high and wide, returning after 3 years to his kingdom with no cure, and no enthusiasm to lessen the blow on his awaiting family.”
Edward turned yet another page, looking towards the girl briefly. He licked his lips and continued reading.
“Upon his return, his eldest son Aerondale had fled the kingdom, leaving the responsibility of ruling the people in the hands of his only daughter, Caromin, and youngest son, Carleon, who had yet to reach his seventeenth year. The Queen had fallen deeper ill, rambling of strawberries and rays of sun, when one of her servants or family visited her by her sick bed.
“The King was in deep despair of the loss he suffered. He lost a son as a consequence to his quest to save his queen.
“It was on the forth night of his return to the Kingdom The King stumbled upon an old servant watering the plants of the queens beloved vegetable garden. He was appalled by this old witch’s audacity, mending and caring for something that was not hers to care upon.
“ ‘Tell me, beldam – what is your purpose here in the royal gardens?’ he inquired of the old lady, seconds away from unsheathing his blade from its place on his hip.
“ ‘You’d be wise to stand down my king,’ the old hag sneered at him, predicting his move to force his blade on her. ‘I’d hate for you to miss an opportunity you’ve been searching for in the last 3 years.’
“ ‘Of what are you speaking witch?’ The King raised his voice towards the hag, trying to scare her into submission.”
He licked his lips one more time, this time catching her fleeting look at his pink tongue peeking out through his burgundy lips. He snorted slightly at her, leaving her equally mortified and embarrassed. Not because she looked as much as by being caught.
She snapped the cover of the book closed with a resounding clang and grabbed it out of his hold.
“I need some fresh air,” she stated, turning on her heels and leaving the library.
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