Rating: (eventual) NC-17
Pairings: Edward/Bella (all canon pairings)
Summary: BD AU - The Denali clan arrive two weeks early for the wedding, bringing mischief and trouble in their wake. But Tanya and Irina are the least of Bella's problems. When the Volturi and the werewolves both remind the Cullens of their promises, Bella realizes that she will ignite a war, no matter which choice she makes. What no one will realize until too late is that Aro wants something - and he will do anything to get it.
A/N: Erm... *waves feebly* Hi? I know it's been a while, but it took me a while to jump back into the fanfic groove. This chapter has a lot of dialogue, but it's setup for the next one - where the fic finally lives up to its rating :) All chapters can be found here. Slight BD spoilers - nothing from the plot, just small details. Thank you sooooo much to cinnamon_kisses for all of her support while I've worked through this.
The Denali sisters did not return the next morning. I found out from Edward that Carlisle had advised Eleazar and Carmen to find them and apprise them of the situation.
“Eleazar was rather anxious to be as far away from the house as possible when the Volturi arrived,” Edward told me, back turned as I got dressed. Alice let me borrow one of her shirts, one I was sure she knew would be a little snug on purpose. I tugged at the bottom, trying to make myself comfortable, then finally gave up and threw one of Edward’s button downs over it.
“Well, I certainly don’t blame him. Wouldn’t you have left if you had the option? You can turn now,” I added, half impressed and half disappointed that he hadn’t peeked once. I sighed inwardly, wondering if his endless stock of self control would ever run out.
Edward seemed to pause as he looked at me and I blushed, shifting from foot to foot under his scrutiny. I was going to kill Alice for sticking this shirt on me. “What? Did I put my clothes on inside out or something?”
He blinked once, then rolled his eyes at me. “Bella, you are absolutely absurd.” He leaned down and kissed my neck, and I let my hands trail up his arms with a sigh. “But as much as I like the idea of you wearing my shirt, I’d like you better out of it.”
“I bet you would,” I muttered, and Edward smirked, sliding his hands under the back of the shirt. He slipped it from my shoulders, sending tiny bolts of electricity skating across my skin. As the shirt fell to the floor, I fought the urge to cover myself up again.
Edward’s eyes smoldered as he looked down at me. Tilting my chin upwards, he said, “You’re beautiful.”
I blushed. To cover my embarrassment, I stood on my toes and kissed him, wrapping my arms tightly around his shoulders. Edward lifted me and laid me down on my back on his bed. I hitched both legs around his waist, gasping as he trailed kisses across my throat.
Suddenly, he paused. He cocked his head to the side and groaned.
“What now?” I sighed.
Edward didn’t have to answer. A quick knock on his door was followed by Alice bounding into the room. I removed my legs from his waist as quickly as I could without damaging anything.
“Alice, are you going to make a habit out of this?” Edward asked, moving off of me and sitting up.
“Hmmm,” Alice made a show of standing with one hand on her hip, one finger pressed to her lips. “Yep,” she answered after a moment. “Your future is looking mighty bleak, brother mine.”
“Should I be afraid?” I asked Edward while I sat up, blushing as I adjusted my shirt.
“Terrified,” he muttered.
Alice grinned, peered around Edward, and crooked her finger at me. “Come on, stop dawdling. You’ll see him after I’m finished with you.”
I groaned, standing before Alice could grab my arm. There was no chance of getting away once she had a hold on me. “Alice, can’t this wait ‘til later?”
“Nope,” she said, but she was staring at Edward as she spoke.
Edward tensed for a moment before standing. “Now?” Alice just nodded. He shook his head, kissed my cheek, and left the room before I could ask him what was going on.
I glared at Alice as I followed her to her room. “I really hate it when you two do that.” And I was getting tired of all of the secrets.
“Sorry,” Alice chirped, pulling my dress from her closet. She certainly didn’t sound like she was. She took the dress off of the hanger and stepped over to me. I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Bella,” she said, narrowing her eyes. “I can make you put this on, you know.”
“Not until you tell me what you just told Edward. Then, I’ll do whatever you want.” I knew I was being petulant, but if this was the only way to get Alice to tell me what was going on, then I could afford to be a little stubborn.
Alice rolled her eyes. “Ugh, why are you always so difficult?”
I turned my head to the side and planted my feet. She huffed. “Fine,” she grumbled. “I’ll tell you while you put the dress on.”
I eyed Alice suspiciously, not sure if I believed her, but eventually, I dropped my arms and started to slip out of my clothes.
“Thank you,” Alice sighed. She spoke as she slipped the dress over my head. “Seth is here to talk to Edward. Watch the pins!”
I’d taken a step backwards, forgetting that she still had to finish the train. The last thing I needed was to step barefooted onto a pin and bleed all over the gown. That would certainly make the wedding interesting.
“That’s the big secret?” I asked her, craning my neck as she knelt down to fumble with the delicate lace at the edge of the train. Seth and Edward had kept in contact since the battle with Victoria and the newborns. He was the only one any of us could get a straight answer out of when it came to the pack. The two of them talking was nothing new and, as far as I could tell, nothing of consequence.
“It’s what they’re talking about that’s the big secret,” Alice said, standing, moving around me in a circle so she could look at the dress from different angles.
I arched my eyebrow. “Are you going to tell me, or am I going to have to play twenty questions to get the answer out of you? Alice?”
I turned around when Alice didn’t answer. She wasn’t paying any attention to me, but was staring out the window, perfectly still. Suddenly, she turned around with a hiss.
“Lift your arms, Bella. Now.”
“Don’t argue with me. Just do it.” Alice was rarely this snappish, so I hastily did as she asked. She quickly lifted the dress over my head, and grabbed my clothes from the bed.
“Sam just showed up with most of the pack. I need you to get dressed and stay here while I help Edward deal with this.”
“But if it’s the pack, maybe I can-“
“Bella, while the wolves are here, I can’t see a damn thing, and if Irina and her sisters come back, things are going to get ugly. Edward will kill me if you’re in the middle of that, so stay. Here.” Alice disappeared from the room and I pulled my clothes on, then ran to the windows to try and see what was going on. I could see Edward, Alice, and Carlisle just at the edge of the woods, standing across from Seth, who was flanked by two wolves – Embry and Quil, I thought. I couldn’t be sure.
I was sure that Jacob wasn’t there, or else he would have made his presence known. I don’t know why I expected him to be, but a small part of me had been hoping, that maybe, just maybe… But he still wasn’t back, and I was beginning to wonder if he ever would be. I tried not to think about that possibility – it hurt too much. Instead, I focused on what was happening now. I couldn’t see the rest of the pack, or the rest of the Cullens, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there.
“Screw it,” I muttered, running up to Edward’s room to grab my shoes before flying down the stairs and out the door as quick as I could without tripping. I didn’t want to draw any unneeded attention to myself.
Of course, Edward realized I was coming well before I was in hearing distance of their conversation. I could see his back tense.
“I thought you said she was staying at the house,” I heard him mutter to Alice.
“I told her to stay put,” Alice said, turning to glare at me with her arms crossed.
“No, its better that she’s here,” I jumped as Sam appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. I glanced towards the tree line, trying to focus my eyes, and could just barely make out some of the rest of the pack behind Seth. “She needs to know this, too.”
“Know what?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“You need to be reminded of the rules of the treaty – the treaty they made with us.”
“I know all about the treaty, Sam,” I responded defensively. “In fact, it was Jacob who told me.”
Bringing up Jacob was the entirely wrong thing to do – I should have known better. Sam’s eyes narrowed into slits. “Then you know what will happen if one of them bites you, or arranges for you to be bitten. The treaty will be broken and it will mean war between us.”
I was amazed that he had even considered that Edward would think to have someone else bite me so that the treaty might remain intact. I certainly hadn’t.
Carlisle seemed to be on the same wavelength. “Why come to us with this now, Sam? Why all of a sudden?”
“We know there have been other vampires in the area.”
So they had, in a sense, recognized the Volturi. Carlisle twitched. Edward nodded, just barely.
“We have guests staying here, for the wedding, as I’m sure Edward mentioned to Seth to pass on to you so you would know they would be of no danger.” Seth looked decidedly uncomfortable at being addressed. Carlisle did not elaborate further. I tried to keep a straight face, wondering why he would not mention the Volturi when they presented such a threat.
“He did tell me, but they weren’t who I was talking about, and you know that. There is something else going on, Carlisle.” He nodded his head once, and that must have been a signal of some kind, because the rest of the pack began moving away. He stared at Edward, and I cringed back from the intensity of his eyes. Edward, of course, didn’t flinch. “Change her, and the treaty will be broken. As quickly as we became allies, we will become enemies. It’s as simple as that.”
Sam turned towards the trees, and Seth followed with a frown, mouthing, “Sorry,” over his shoulder.
Just as they left, Emmett appeared in a blur. Edward groaned, closing his eyes.
“What now?” I asked.
Alice was the one who answered. “Tanya and her family are back. They’re not at all happy with us.”
My heart was thudding wildly in my chest. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. This was all my fault. The werewolves wouldn’t have come if they hadn’t known I was going to be changed – and that was still certain. The treaty had to have some sort of loophole we just hadn’t found. On top of that, the Volturi came to check up on me. We both knew the wedding gift was just a cover story.
“Bella, you have nothing to be sorry for,” Edward murmured, wrapping his arms around my waist. I closed my eyes and sighed, leaning into his embrace.
“Edward Anthony Masen Cullen,” even I heard Irina’s livid voice from across the meadow.
“She doesn’t seem too happy,” Emmett muttered.
“Be glad you can’t hear Tanya,” Edward told him.
I winced sympathetically, but then a thought occurred to me. “Why are they so angry?” I understood the threat the Volturi could hold all too well – they held an ultimatum over my head, and I wasn’t even a vampire yet – but there seemed to be some underlying personal reason the Denali family had to be afraid of them. Something Edward hadn’t told me.
Before Edward could answer, we were accosted on all sides. I jumped as Irina and Tanya appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Kate, Eleazar, Carmen, and the rest of Edward’s family were not far behind them.
I clutched on to Edward’s arm and held on.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Irina practically screeched. “You invite us into your home, and not twenty-four hours later, the Volturi arrive, and now you’re conversing with werewolves.”
“We warned you we would be in contact with them, Irina,” Edward told her.
“Yes. Your friend who’s gone missing.” I was shocked Edward had said anything about Jacob, much less mentioning him as a friend. Her eyes narrowed, and she hissed, “It’s a shame he isn’t rotting somewhere.” I reeled as if she’d slapped me. “I can’t believe you associate with those mongrels.”
“That’s enough, Irina.” Edward pulled me against his side, but made sure to keep himself between Irina and I. “We didn’t know the Volturi were coming, as I’m sure Eleazar has explained to you, nor did we have any idea that the pack would be here,” Edward told her, his body still as stone and thrumming with tension.
“What, has Alice lost her sight?” she sneered.
“I’m not omnipotent,” Alice challenged, “I don’t see everything. I can’t see werewolves, as we’ve already explained to you, and Aro knows how my visions work; he knows how to circumvent them.” She glared, and I was suddenly reminded that my pixie-like friend was a predator who could rip limbs and decapitate heads with her bare hands. “Be glad you had any warning at all,” she hissed.
Carlisle deliberately stepped between them. “Irina, your family is guests with us, as we are under the impression that you can keep yourself under control while in any of the werewolves’ presence. If you find you are unable to handle yourself in a civil manner, I am going to have to ask you to leave.”
Irina took a step backwards. “You would trade us for them?”
“They are Bella’s friends,” I was shocked to hear Jasper be the one to answer. “They are… allies.”
“How fitting of you to remind us that we did not help you and your enemies did,” Irina growled, bending into a crouch.
Edward, seeing the threat, pushed me behind him and bared his teeth at her. Alice followed.
“Enough, from all of you,” Eleazar said, stepping forward, and the command in his voice was apparent. Irina stood upright immediately and simply glared in Carlisle’s direction. Alice folded her arms across her chest and huffed. Edward didn’t move.
“I appreciate the concern,” he told Irina, placing an arm on her shoulder, “But I have accepted Carlisle’s explanation as truth. So should the rest of you.”
Edward’s eyes flickered over to Tanya. Only someone who was used to watching him as closely as I was would have noticed. His lips moved so quickly, I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but Tanya nodded, and he relaxed, immediately standing straight up again.
I only became more anxious. If I asked him about their conversation, would he tell me the truth or gloss over it, brushing it off as nothing? I frowned, heart beginning to pound, and cursed my human reactions, knowing the entire clearing could hear them, even if they wouldn’t know the truth behind what had prompted them.
The entire universe did not need to know I saw Tanya as a threat.
“We don’t even know why they were here,” Irina argued, crossing her arms over her chest and refusing to drop the issue. “How can you be sure that they won’t return?”
“We’re not certain that they won’t,” Carlisle told her honestly.
Before Irina could start yet another argument, Carmen stepped in. I think it was the first time I’d really heard her speak since we arrived. “We appreciate the honesty. I wish we’d known of the depth of your involvement with the Volturi before, but there is nothing we can do about that now.”
Eleazar was eyeing me strangely. I squirmed under his gaze. He shifted his eyes to Edward, and whatever he was thinking seemed to shock Edward completely.
“Later,” he muttered, glancing down at me, and Eleazar nodded. I wanted to scream. That was two conversations I was purposely being kept out of in as many minutes. When was I going to stop being treated as the fragile minded human who would go into hysterics when under the slightest bit of pressure?
Probably not even when I was a vampire, I thought to myself grimly.
“Maybe I should go home,” I told Edward as the group began to taper off into smaller conversations – Jasper and Emmett were arguing over a bet that Jasper had, apparently, won. Esme, Carmen, Kate, and Alice headed back to the house, and I almost groaned when I caught wind of the words “guest list” and “place cards.” Eleazar and Carlisle were discussing what had just happened with the werewolves. Tanya and Rosalie were trying to keep Irina calm, though I wasn’t sure if they were succeeding.
“Bella, no one is kicking you out,” Edward told me.
Irina glared at me, and I was sure they weren’t succeeding. Rosalie stared incredulously at Edward.
He sighed, “Rosalie agrees with you.”
“Of course she does,” I mumbled.
“She’s not trying to be mean,” Edward argued. “But Irina isn’t in the state of mind to be rational or civil.” He grasped my hand. I let him lead me towards the garage.
“So, she’s just looking out for me then?” I asked him sarcastically.
“She doesn’t hate you, you know.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
Edward rolled his eyes. He opened the door for me, pausing for just a second – sitting on the passenger seat was Aro’s gift to me.
“Alice,” Edward muttered, and I nodded. By the time I sat down and closed the door, he was already pulling out onto the road.
The ride home was silent. I had so many questions for Edward, I didn’t know where to start, but he seemed intent to focus on his thoughts. I had a feeling that no matter how much I pestered him, he wouldn’t tell me what I wanted to know anyway, so I stared out my window. Edward grasped my hand and I turned my head to look at him. His skin was sparkling slightly in the light of the sun where he had his window open.
I sighed as we pulled up to my house. “Are you going to come in?”
Edward hesitated. “I… should probably get back. Tanya still had a few choice words for me.”
“Yeah, I saw that,” I told him, trying to keep the jealousy I was feeling from showing in my voice. “I take it you’re going to continue your conversation with Eleazar as well.”
Edward winced. “Bella, you notice too much for your own good.”
“I know,” I kissed his cheek. “But if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be with you.” Edward chuckled and shook his head.
I wouldn’t be jealous. I didn’t have a reason to be. Tanya wasn’t a threat. I took a deep breath, trying to convince myself of this. I kissed him, said, “See you tonight,” and got out of the car before I changed my mind.