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Maledictum Magae - Ch. 16

Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters are property of Stephenie Meyer. And I do not get any sort of profit from this.

Summary:
 The curse happened in 1692. For over 300 years, Isabella Swan has lived alone, afraid to be close to anyone again. But when she finally meets someone who captures her heart, the unthinkable happens, leaving her in a kind of danger she never thought possible.



 

A/N: I never meant for this update to take so long to get posted, guys, so I apologize for that. Hopefully, it's worth the wait! Two more updates left until the end... Thanks so much to all of the readers (new and old)! I wasn't able to respond to every review, but I will work hard to that this time around. ;) Enjoy! And as always, a HUGE thanks goes out to my beta, ohfiyera !


Chapter 16: To Wake Anew

The wind blew past her face, swirling orange and green oak leaves around her feet. She felt the rough surface against her back and looked up to see the tall arms of a tree outstretched into the skies above. The gnarled roots acted as a chair for her body, supporting her legs.

She glanced down at her hands, the skin surprisingly blood-free. She lifted her left arm to stretch it out horizontally to the ground. There was no pain.

A small smile graced her lips as the warm breeze kissed her face once more.

Sunlight streamed through the canopy, dancing in between the limbs that swayed in the autumn wind. The light touched her skin, heating her blood to rise to the surface of her cheeks. She felt serene. She felt peace.

So this must be her heaven. The horrors she had experienced were gone. A sudden relief washed over her and she expelled a breath that left her body feeling calm and relaxed.

A little pinging noise brought her out of her reverie and she turned her gaze to the ground beside her. Bright crimson drops began to litter the autumn foliage that covered the forest floor.

Slowly, she looked up to the heights of her tree and noticed the scarlet liquid flowing freely through the ridges in the bark, oozing sadness in thick claret tears.

Startled, she pushed herself away, turning around to walk backward as her eyes stayed on the bleeding tree.

"So you are here," a voice called out behind her.

Bella closed her eyes. It had been hundreds of years since she had heard that voice.

She felt a warming sensation cascade across her back as his presence came nearer.

Turning around, she opened her eyes to her Jacob, her first love, her first kiss, her first everything.

Thankfully, he was not mangled in her heaven like he was in her nightmares. He looked just as she remembered him before the chaos took over their lives.

He was beautiful.

"Jake," she breathed, unable to find her voice.

He swallowed, his hands shoved within his pockets. Hesitantly, he retrieved his hands, reached out to her, but then dropped them back to his sides. It was as if an internal battle waged on within his body.

He frowned, his eyes glistening, and suddenly he closed the gap between them, his hands finding purchase on the sides of her face. He brought their foreheads together as the gasp that escaped her lips floated into the air.

"Isabella," he whispered earnestly, his lips brushing against hers.

The wind picked up around them, sending a haze of warm hues in the leaves that feathered past their skin and whipped through their hair.

"I wish I could keep you here," he murmured, his thumbs gently wiping away the stray tears that claimed her cheeks.

"Aren't I dead?" she asked, wrapping her fingers around his wrists, enjoying the feel of his skin against hers.

Jacob shook his head, an expression both happy and sad crossing his face. "No, my Izzy, you are not dead."

Her hands slid down his arms, along his sides, until they rested on his hips. She tugged his body closer to hers.

"In fact," he whispered, brushing the tip of his nose against hers. "You need to wake up."

She pulled back from him slightly, realization dawning on her. "That means I'll leave you, won't it?"

A watery smile crossed his boyish features. "Yes, Isabella. You will."

Bella shook her head, her tears falling faster. "No. I won't leave you, Jacob."

"Shh…" he hushed, brushing away strands of her hair to caress her cheeks. "I have and will always be with you. Besides, you have another who has claimed your heart back in your own world."

An image of Edward floated through her mind and she could do nothing to stop the increased rhythm of her heart.

A soft chuckle rumbled through Jacob's chest. "I do not like someone else being able to touch you like this," he confessed, lifting his chin to place a kiss on her forehead. "But he does love you – wholeheartedly. It is a very strange feeling to come from a vampire," he teased.

Bella smiled, her fingers dipping beneath the hem of his shirt to trace lazy circles on his tanned skin.

"I wish I didn't have to leave you, though."

"I'm right here, Izzy," he said, placing his palm against her chest. "I'm here in your heart. It's where I've always been."

"Jake," she whimpered, pushing her forehead back against his.

She felt the wind caress the back of her neck, blowing strands of her hair haphazardly around them.

And with the wind, the fragments of Jacob's body began to leave, disintegrating inch by inch. His feet disappeared first – patches of color and light slowing vanishing into nothing.

Panicked, Bella watched as her first love dissolved before her very eyes. "No," she whispered, her voice quivering. "Don't leave me. Jake…"

"Shh…" he hushed as the wind grew in strength. It picked up debris from the forest floor, creating a cocoon of fallen leaves around them.

He gathered her small hands within his and placed lingeringly kisses on her flesh. "You need to wake up," he murmured. He kissed away each tear that slid from her closed eyes. "Wake up." His lips drifted over her forehead, over the bridge of her nose, across her cheeks, and finally stopped to hover over her own lips, wet with the salt of her tears. "Wake up, my love," he breathed.

Beep.

Beep.

A piercing noise filtered through the fog of her brain. She slowly blinked her eyes open, the dim lighting around her allowing her to gradually adjust to her surroundings.

Paneled ceiling tiles looked down at her. The air smelled heavily of disinfectant and in the distance she could hear the quiet buzzing of several people talking.

Turning to her right, she saw her bare arm lying exposed over a worn seafoam green blanket. A tiny plastic tube stuck out from the dip in her elbow. It reached up to a large bag of clear fluids that hung above her head.

The next thing she noticed was her left hand lying across her stomach. Surrounding the hidden layers of gauze and plaster that covered most of her arm, a blue sling secured the appendage to her body.

When she turned to her left, she not only saw but also felt the sensation of something soft and feathery against her lips and chin. Her eyes slid down to the top of a black head of hair.

Alice's small body had curled up against Bella's side, careful not to touch her injured arm. The side of her face rested against Bella's collarbone. It probably wasn't the most comfortable way to lie in bed, but she didn't think her friend minded so much.

"I was wondering when you'd wake up," Alice murmured.

She didn't move to look at Bella, but kept her head where it was.

Bella glanced around the hospital room, her eyes grazing over the mounted T.V. in the corner, to the cheap landscape paintings that hung on the wall, to the pulled yellow privacy curtain. The door beyond was left open for the nearby nurses to better hear within her room in case she needed them.

"Where am I?" she asked. Her voice was raw, crackling around the edges of each note her vocal chords produced.

"I thought that much was obvious," Alice teased.

Bella hummed appreciatively. "Specifics, please."

A beat of silence resonated into the air and Bella's gaze began to focus on a crevice where the wall met the ceiling. For a brief moment, she felt the vampire's chest rise and fall, her preserved lungs no longer filling with oxygen but missing the joy of being used.

"You are in the grand care of North Shore Medical Center," Alice explained, her words sounding flat in the purified air. "Carlisle has made sure that you receive the best care."

The wall and the ceiling began to blend into one another as Bella's eyes focused and unfocused – back and forth.

"Alice?" Bella whispered, her voice barely expelling past her lips.

The petite vampire lifted her head, her amber eyes glistening in the florescent lights as they met the dull muddied gaze of her friend.

Bella licked her chapped lips, wishing suddenly that she had a glass of water.

"What happened?"

The corners of Alice's nostrils flared minutely and her throat moved with the involuntary action of a swallow.


The night before…

Blood.

Her body was covered in it.

He was covered in it.

Her blood.

Her clothes were saturated. His were stained.

Her skin glistened with the crimson fluid. His was tainted with it.

She was covered in blood.

He was covered in her blood.

Edward pushed through the back entrance of the hospital ER doors, the body of his beloved as light as a feather in his arms. Her head lulled against the curve of his shoulder. Her arms hung limply – one dangling against his back, the other draped over the hand that held her upper body.

Though blood stained her skin and clothes, the organ that pumped the vital fluid through her body hardly made a beat within her chest.

His eyes were midnight black, a storm that brewed with the ever-growing desperation of a man in need and on the brink of losing all hope.

Nurses and orderlies stumbled in their strides, their charts forgotten, their gurneys halted. One nurse, startled at the display, dropped a sample of urine to the floor. The bright cadmium liquid spread across the linoleum around her shoes.

"Help me," Edward gasped, his body feeling heavier with her weight every moment he heard her heart slipping away from this world.

And they all stood there. They all stared. The neurons in their brains could not function fast enough to overlook the monstrous appearance of this man before them and help the wounded woman in his arms. Their thoughts penetrated his mind, exploding around him like an erupting minefield.

Livid, the growl that rumbled through his chest was nearly deafening.

"HELP ME!"

The roar that thundered through the halls, sent spider web cracks that snaked through the glass windows of each exam room.

Screams and cries filled the air as more chaos erupted within the halls.

A strong hand suddenly pressed against Edward's back, between his shoulder blades, and immediately a wave of ease washed over him.

Jasper, his gaze an equal shade of black, appeared at Edward's side. The lids of his eyes slowly slid shut and he expelled a warm energy of peace and calm throughout the hospital. It was a wave so powerful, that the patients agonized in the waiting room felt no pain. The newborns in the nursery on the third floor ceased their wails and fell into blissful sleep. The crippled who lived their days in the intensive care unit found solace in the white-washed walls and the yellow isolation gowns that their caregivers wore to feed them, wash them, and tend to their every other need.

For the very first time, every living creature within the building relaxed into a state of sudden silence.

When Jasper opened his eyes, he saw a male nurse in teal scrubs put down the chart in his hands and grab an empty gurney that lay against the wall. Two other nurses followed him as they made their way calmly, yet efficiently, toward Edward.

As Bella was placed gently on the starch white sheets of the bed, Carlisle stepped into view.

He spoke softly with one of the nurses and then followed them as they rushed down the hall toward the surgical center.

People stepped out of their way, like the parting seas.

And Edward stood there beneath the bright, fake lighting – a man covered in his lover's blood. He felt as if his soul had left his own body and had traveled away with hers.

Jasper removed his hand from Edward's back and stood silently next to his brother as he took in the sights of the employees resuming their work. The nurse who dropped the urine sample grabbed a pair of gloves and began to clean up the mess.

This does not reprieve my previous actions. Jasper thought. But I hope that you will allow me to make it up to you… and to Bella.

Edward barely flinched, his eyes focusing on every movement that the gurney made, every slight jostle of Bella's body, every miniscule flutter of her hair…

Finally, his lips parted, his tongue pressed against the back of his teeth, and two words were hushed into the frozen atmosphere around them.

"Thank you."


Present…

Alice's bright, wide eyes stared ahead, almost in fear. Her voice sounded foreign to Bella's ears. "You had to have several transfusions, Izzy," Alice whispered. "You nearly died."

Flashes of fire and chaos danced through Bella's mind. Instead of the fading paint on the bare wall before her, she saw flames. She could almost feel the heat of them as they spread around her. She saw eyes of midnight and skin of snow. She saw bodies clashing together and could recall the thunderous sound when they collided. She saw Alice before her, grasping her hand, whispering incantations beneath her breath. Most importantly, she saw the blurred vision of Edward leaning over her, cupping the back of her head within his hand as her world began to slip away.

"He was a wreck," Alice told her, her voice slicing through the frenzy of memories. "I didn't know what was going to happen the moment I saw him burst through the ER doors."

Bella turned her head slightly toward Alice, her cheek coming into full contact with black hair. "What?" she croaked. "What do mean?"

Alice sighed, a prolonged, heavy sigh, and it was as if she was expelling the stress of both she and her friend. Slowly, she pushed herself up on one elbow and turned to look at Bella. "I mean Edward. He carried you here. He was so crazed…"

Alice's eyes glazed over and a far-off look crossed her face, as if remembering. "A nurse tried to bring Edward to an exam room to have him looked over and he nearly tore her head off. If Jasper hadn't have been there, things would have been much worse."

Bella frowned, not understanding what she meant. "Jasper's here?"

A small grin slid across Alice's lips. "Yes, he's here. He's the reason we were able to get you the help you needed. No one wanted to come near you because of Edward. They were terrified of him. Jasper was able to change that."

Bella stared blankly at her friend before shaking her head. "I don't follow."

"Jasper has the ability to manipulate people's feelings. He feeds off of them and then changes them. It doesn't come without consequences, mind you, but he's very powerful with his gift."

For a moment, it appeared as if she was struggling with what she wanted to say next. Her jaw was set, creating sharp lines around her face. "It's the reason he's with the Volturi."

She looked up at Bella then, her eyes suddenly wide, pleading. "He didn't mean to hurt you, Bella. He truly meant to help save you, but Chelsea beat him to the scene first. In order to save you and Edward, he had to play along with her."

Bella nodded, though she still needed time to process her friend's words. "Tell me what happened, Mary Alice," she whispered, using the vampire's full name. "Tell me what happened after I…"

Alice took Bella's free hand in her own, her thumb gently drawing circles over Bella's skin.

"The Volturi guards waited for us to return from the hospital. And then they left. Aro was sentenced to a lifelong servitude to his brothers Caius and Marcus. You see, as the original rulers of the Volturi, they formed a bond that neither one could break. By betraying his brothers, especially Marcus, Aro can no longer rule in the position that he was in. Caius will now be the head Prince of the Volturi.

I, for one, don't think it was a fair sentence. But, I know that Aro will forever remember the moment he almost died. He'll always remember the feel of my hand over his heart and the way his skin peeled away by the flames that you created. That is the only thing that makes this worth it. He'll be haunted by us forever."

Bella had to smile over that.

"Did you know about Didyme?" Bella asked as Alice settled back down at her side.

"Yes and no. I didn't know the full story until tonight, but I had seen snippets of the truth within Aro's and Edward's thoughts."

"I thought you could only see the future," Bella wondered aloud, her eyes feeling heavy with exhaustion.

Alice carefully placed her arm over Bella's chest, hugging her gently. "Yes, but Didyme's fate was wrapped up in your future, Izzy."

"Hmmm…" Bella hummed sleepily. The drugs that pumped through her veins were beginning to work their magic once more. "What about Marcus?"

"Edward brought him over to the site of Didyme's death. He wasn't angry with Edward, because he knew the truth. In fact, I think he was grateful that Edward brought him there."

Bella could picture the forlorn vampire amidst the woods, sorrow-filled ruby eyes gazing around him through the falling snow.

"And then what?"

Alice shrugged. "He mourned."

The Marcus in Bella's mind slowly fell to the forest floor on his knees, holding his head in his hands.

"Regardless of Didyme's actions, she was his mate. Just as I am Jasper's and you are Edward's," Alice explained. "Your mate is a part of you. They are your other half and to be without them, is to lose part of yourself. You are never truly whole after a loss like that. Marcus was never fully a part of this reality because most of his soul had died with her. I think being at the site of her death brought him some closure."

The lids of Bella's eyes slowly fluttered up and down as she willed her body to fight against the chemicals that clouded her brain. She needed to know more, and she wasn't going to find out if she fell asleep again.

"You need to rest," Alice murmured, lightly brushing away a few strands of hair from Bella's forehead. "I'll come back later."

Bella felt her weight shift as the bed gave to Alice's body. On impulse, she reached out for Alice's hand, her nimble fingers encircling the vampire's wrist. "Wait," she called out groggily.

Alice, now standing by the bed, turned to her.

Through the drug-induced haze, Bella could still make out the concern in her friend's wide, tawny eyes. A thought had been brewing in her mind ever since she awoke, and she needed to know the truth before her body succumbed to the pain meds that flowed through her system.

"Why am I not dead?"

Alice hesitated, though her eyes never left Bella's exhausted gaze. She bent forward, placing her hands gently on either side of Bella's head, only pausing when their foreheads met.

"See," Alice breathed.

It was like an electric shock exploded up her limbs. Bella's eyes widened, her pupils dilating, and she automatically clutched onto the fabric of Alice's shirt.

Before her, images spun in the irises of Alice's eyes, until they encompassed her mind completely.

A world so different, and yet so familiar, passed before her. She saw her best friend kneeling before a fire so many years ago, the hem of her skirts stained with mud. Her long, raven hair fell loose around her shoulders, framing the heart-shaped face that held such strong features. She held out her hand, palm kissing the sky, and with the other hand, she held a blade. The blade, painted with rust, sliced through the vampire's skin as she threw the force of her strength behind the blow. Clear liquid seeped out of the open wound, almost translucent against the pale, snowy flesh. It dropped into a tin cup filled with a substance that Bella couldn't quite make out. Within seconds, the wound on Alice's hand had healed. She dropped the blade, closed her eyes and began murmuring words into the air. Flames sprang from the top of the liquid, dancing inside the rim of the glass. And just as quickly as they appeared, they vanished, leaving behind a blue-tinged smoke that rose into the night sky.

The next thing Bella saw made her heart stop and start all at once.

"Here, drink this Izzy."

Isabella sat at the wooden table in the middle of her small kitchen, head in her hands. Mary Alice placed a glass of brown liquid before her and she grimaced, knowing exactly what it was.

"I have no need of a tonic, Mary."

The dirtied hem of Mary Alice's skirt swirled around her ankles as she sat opposite of Isabella. A stray piece of ebony hair fell out from beneath her coif and she hastened to tuck it back in. "You will need it. I've seen it."

"Why?" Isabella asked, her voice slightly panicked.

Mary Alice didn't say a word, but silently pushed the glass closer to her friend.

Bella gasped for breath, her chest heaving; her body shaking. She felt the cold of Alice's hands leave her face, yet her own hands still clung to the material of Alice's shirt.

Unbeknownst to her, tears leaked from the corners of her eyes and slid fast down her cheeks.

A frown shaped the small, thin lips of Alice's mouth. "I couldn't let you die, Izzy," she murmured. "But I couldn't turn you into one of my own. My blood – my venom – is what keeps you alive today. My spell diluted its strength enough that you would never turn into a vampire, but that you would live longer than any mortal should ever dream of."

Her chin quivered and her tawny eyes watered, though no tears fell from her sorrow-filled gaze.

"It was the only choice I had," she muttered, her voice breaking. "I didn't want to lose you, Izzy. I'm so sorry."

Bella felt the weight of her friend collapse over her, sobs raking through her petite form.

Silence seemed to flood her mind. Gone were the cries that escaped Alice's lips. Gone were the voices that drifted outside her door and the echoing intercom that spread throughout the air. The beeping of her heart on the monitor had disappeared. The sound of her breathing had left her ears.

Bella stared ahead, past the tufts of ebony hair that tickled her chin. She felt the room slowly begin to slip away – stark whites and bold browns bleeding into black. And as the pressure in her head returned, she was left with the truth swimming around in her mind.

She wanted to reassure Alice. She wanted to place her hand on her friend's back in a comforting way and tell her that 'it was okay.' But her body was losing against the chemicals that invaded her brain and sung through her nerves.

Eventually, there was nothing but a black void that engulfed her and allowed her to slip away into a world where nothing, not even she, existed.


For several hours, maybe days, Bella drifted in and out of the haze that wanted to capture her completely. She longed to break free, and yet she wanted to stay in the comfort of the solace it gave to her mind.

At one point she heard humming. It was a beautiful sound that drifted above her, kissing her brow, her eyelashes, the tip of her nose and down to the curve of her chin. She felt its melody flow through her and she longed to listen to it for all eternity, just curled up in her world of darkness and the comfort of the lullaby.

At another point, she felt cold against her face. The cold was almost barely there, like a feather flitting ever so lightly over her skin. With the cold, the familiar humming came and went.

Soon, the lullaby transformed into colorful lines that sliced through the midnight void of her mind. They danced and spun and splattered across her brain, creating the shape of a man with cinnamon hair and honey eyes. He sat beside her, hovering over her, his features distraught, his lips turned down. She wanted to reach out and touch this man – this being who issued the song she so loved to hear in the darkness.

His form began to fade in and out as the lullaby drifted away. She didn't want to lose him. She didn't want to be left in the dark anymore. She wanted to be brought into the light, into his warmth.

And so with all of her strength she reached out to him.

Her hand found his, her fingers brushing against his flesh.

He looked up at her, startled, the golden flecks in his eyes shining brilliantly.

Suddenly, there was light.


Reviews are better than strange vampire tonics.