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Fic: The Heart of Darkness, chapter 4

Title: The Heart of Darkness
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Romance, Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama
Word Count: Approx. 3,500
Characters/Pairings: Edward/Bella, canon couples
Summary: Set post-Eclipse. Getting married without tripping her way down the aisle was supposed to be Bella’s biggest worry before she and Edward began eternity together. But the Volturi, an unforeseen friend, and an unexpected enemy create more complications than even Alice could have predicted. Bella thought being dead would make things easier, but for once there’s more at stake than simply staying alive. And somehow, Forks is still at the heart of it all....
Warnings: Spoilers for Eclipse. Written before Breaking Dawn. Graphic sexual situations; graphic violence.
Disclaimer: If I was Smeyer, this would have been the plot of Breaking Dawn. Since I’m not, this fanfic is being posted without profit and without ridiculous names.
Author's Note: This was written before Breaking Dawn and with the help and input from my friend, snuggle_muggle. To all the reviewers who have waited very, very patiently for this chapter, I want to say thank you. Thank you so, so much for all the encouragement. You're the reason why I continue to write :)

Links to previous chapters:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3



In the nights that followed I woke up gasping for breath, my chest heaving painfully as my heart raced. I would jump out of bed and throw the window open, welcoming the cool breeze. The night air was thick with moisture, and soon a light mist mingled with the beads of sweat on my forehead. But as I calmed down, Edward standing worriedly by my side, I found that all I could remember of the dreams were disjointed pictures, traces of colors and shapes that made no sense to my waking mind.

*


Edward parked Alice’s yellow Porsche in the driveway beside a small car I’d never seen before.

“Your hairstylist just arrived,” Edward said. “Alice has him waiting upstairs. He couldn’t believe I was going to pick you up the day of the wedding.” Edward smiled. “He mentioned something about bad luck.”

“Did you explain to him we’ve already had plenty of that?” I said, thinking about Edward’s formerly perfect Volvo now sitting in pieces at a scrap heap.

Edward leaned over to unbuckle my seatbelt for me, not wanting me to upset the bandage Carlisle had put over my palm. I rolled my eyes but made no protest as Edward disappeared from the driver’s seat to open my door.

Edward caught me rolling my eyes and gave me an unapologetic grin, taking my bandaged hand in his and giving it a small kiss as we walked towards his house.

He stopped in the doorway, turning to face me with a curious expression on his face.

“The next time I see you, you’ll be walking down the aisle.”

“That’s the general idea, yes,” I said. I watched him watching me and felt a pleasurable surge of self-awareness. I rocked forward to press myself against him, and standing on tip-toe gave him one last kiss as a single woman.

“Can’t wait,” Edward murmured, and opened the door for me. I hadn’t even begun to register the sheer volume of flowers that were inside the Cullens’ house before I was promptly ambushed by a miniature porcelain doll in a frilly dress.

“You’re here, finally!” Alice trilled, grabbing my hands and tugging me away from Edward. “Max is upstairs waiting for you! Come on!”

I cast one last glance over my shoulder to where Edward was standing, framed in the doorway. He gave me a small smile before he turned and disappeared.

“Don’t worry, he has his own getting ready to do,” Alice said, correctly interpreting my silence. “Emmett and Jasper will be with him.”

Privately I thought Edward would look like a groom out of one of those bridal magazines no matter if he spent five seconds or five hours getting ready, but I didn’t argue with Alice; she had the power to make my last hours as a single woman very, very painful. I thought of the millions of make-up brushes she was sure to have on hand and winced.

“Bella! Darling, how exciting it is to see you!” Max said, jumping up from Alice’s vanity as soon as we entered the room. “And I must say, how exciting it is to see such a hunk of a man!”

“He was spying through the window,” Rosalie explained, stepping out of Alice’s walk-in closet in a stunning navy-blue sheath dress. “I almost had Jasper come in just to calm him down.”

“Oh honey, you know how it is with gorgeous men… you can’t help but appreciate them!” Max said, completely unaware of Rosalie’s implication. He gave me a hug and pulled me away from Alice’s side, then sat me down in the chair in front of Alice’s ornate gilt mirror. “Now, I believe you wanted something simple… how about keeping all your hair down but in long, loose curls?”

“That sounds perfect,” I said, though I couldn’t stop myself from throwing a nervous glance at the curling iron.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing elaborate,” Max said, sweeping my hair up in one swift motion. “Do you have a veil? I can pin it in place for you.”

“Yep, and we have these pins,” Alice said, popping up suddenly behind me. In her hands she held a dark red velvet box. “Here, Bella. This is for you.”

Wordlessly I took the box and opened it; inside were at least a dozen silver pins, each containing what looked suspiciously like a diamond on the end.

“They’re beautiful,” I breathed, admiring their simple elegance. “But I can’t—”

“No ‘buts’ on your wedding day!” Alice said firmly. “Besides, it’s really a present for me too… I’ll definitely ask to borrow them when I get married.”

“You’re getting married too?” Max said interestedly as he took the first section of my hair and wrapped it around the curling iron.

“Oh, some day,” Alice said, smiling sweetly. “He won’t know what hit him.”

“Well, I can’t wait to see the groom’s face when he gets a load of you,” Max said with a happy sigh. “What a gorgeous couple you two make… just imagine what your kids will look like, with genes like yours!”

“Oh… we haven’t really thought about kids,” I said, trying hard not to think about my all-too-real dream.

A knock at the door saved me from this awkward line of conversation. Two stunningly beautiful women walked in, neither of whom I’d seen before. But judging from their pale skin and unearthly good looks, I knew immediately they must be the vampires from the coven in Denali.

“I just wanted to stop by and give you these,” the tall brunette said, placing a vase full of white roses on a side table. “You must be Bella,” she said, walking over to me. “I’m Kate.”

“Hi, Kate,” I said, smiling up at her reflection in the mirror. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet,” Kate said, showing her perfect white teeth as she smiled. The way she spoke was more than a little bit patronizing, but I guess I must seem awfully young to her—she was probably over a century old, I reminded myself.

“Who’s your friend?” I asked, my eyes glancing over to the other woman’s reflection. She had long, dark hair and lips that seemed to form a perfect pink heart on her otherwise pale face.

“This is Akiko,” Kate said. “She’s new to the coven, and we wanted her to meet all our friends.”

Akiko bowed her head, causing her curtain of dark hair to fall forward. “I am very pleased to meet you, Bella Swan,” Akiko said. Her voice was light and airy, but I knew better than to think of her as delicate.

“I’m so glad you could come,” I said, noting with relief that both of them had light amber-colored eyes. “You both look incredible.”

This was something of an understatement, as Kate was wearing a glittering gold dress that played up her wavy brown hair. Akiko, who was a full head shorter than Kate but still a few inches taller than me, was wearing what looked like a cross between a kimono and a dress; it was silk, and pictured oriental water-lilies floating down stream.

“Oh, thanks,” Kate said, looking down as if she had forgotten what she was wearing. “But I don’t think any of us will compare to you.”

“That’s right,” Max chimed in. “Her hair is made for curls. You are going to be gorgeous, honey!”

“She already is gorgeous,” Alice said, prancing around happily.

“We won’t keep you any longer,” Kate said, waving goodbye as she and Akiko turned towards the door. “See you at the wedding!”

As the door closed behind her I let out a sigh of relief; all these people and preparation was beginning to feel a bit overwhelming.

“Are you all right?” Alice said, watching my reflection in the mirror take deep, calming breaths. “Do you want me to get Jasper?”

“Oh, no,” I said, thinking about how worried Edward would be if Jasper had to be called over to calm my nerves. “I’ll be okay… it’s just the jitters.”

“You are lovely, Bella,” Rosalie said. I was so surprised that I forgot my sudden bout of nervousness. She stood beside Max as he let loose another curl, brushing aside a wayward strand. “This is going to be a truly wonderful wedding… and I’ve been to many.”

I smiled my thanks to her as Max declared my coiffure done and Alice whirled my chair around to face her.

“Now, close your eyes Bella,” Alice said, grabbing a long black tube out of her makeup bag.

I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes, reminding myself that in a few hours, Edward and I would be on our honeymoon.

*



Carlisle said, “You may kiss the bride,” and, for a moment, Edward’s eyes looked as if they had filled with moisture—which, of course, was impossible, as vampires are unable to cry. Abruptly, I realized that it wasn’t his eyes filling with tears—it was mine. I wanted to laugh at myself for being so absurd, and I blinked the tears back quickly, but Edward had already noticed.

Edward’s eyes crinkled as his lips quirked into my favorite crooked smile, and he lifted a fingertip to gather the moisture that clung to my eyelashes. His expression shifted, becoming almost reverent as he bent down to kiss me. Edward’s cool lips found mind and he kissed me gently, cradling my face between his marble hands. It didn’t leave me breathless like his kisses usually did—rather, I felt a rush of contentment, as if time had relinquished its hold on me and left me calm and tranquil in the respite. I felt my lips curve into a smile, and I pulled back slightly so I could open my eyes and capture this moment forever in my memory. I hoped that this would be my strongest human memory—that the image of Edward’s face as he kissed me would overshadow the pain of the coming transformation.

It wasn’t until after we broke apart that Edward’s attention suddenly shifted. His head snapped back towards the house, his eyes open in shock. Puzzled, I turned to follow his gaze.

It took me a moment to see what had Edward stunned, and I gasped as Jacob’s six-foot seven-inch frame filled my line of sight. My mouth was still in the process of falling open in recognition when Jacob’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he lurched forward, unconscious.

“Jacob!” I cried, dashing to kneel beside his prone figure, not caring that my wedding dress was in the process of acquiring knee-shaped grass stains.

The guests had jumped up in their seats, craning their necks to see what had happened. I could just make out Alice’s voice from the murmurings of the crowd.

“He crashed my wedding!” Alice howled, her tiny fists balled at the sides of her taffeta bridesmaid dress. It was almost disturbing that someone so dainty could look so murderous.

Your wedding?” Emmett said, raising his eyebrows.

“Jake! Can you hear me? Are you all right?” I said, shaking his shoulder roughly. My emotions were whirling, shifting from shock to rage to guilt to worry. It was hard to say which emotion was dominant; the angrier part of me feared that if Jacob regained consciousness, I would just knock him back out again.



“He’s coming around,” Edward said. He was standing over us, and I looked up at him in confusion. His voice sounded oddly cheerful—gleeful, even. What was going on?

“What…” Jacob mumbled, as he opened his eyes blearily.

I touched his shoulder, still undecided on how I should feel. “Jake…” I hesitated, searching for the right words to say—for any words to say. But Jacob wasn’t listening to me. In fact, he wasn’t even looking at me. He wasn’t paying me any attention at all.

He was staring at something over my shoulder, and I turned around, trying to see what had attracted his interest. I saw Charlie hovering a few feet away, and Renee and Phil staring anxiously. Rosalie and Emmett were standing side by side, Rosalie looking like a runway model in her bridesmaid dress. Emmett was poised for action, the perfect Best Man in a crisis situation.

But none of these faces held Jake’s attention; he was staring at only one face in the crowd—a face that was supernaturally beautiful, with snowy skin and warm amber eyes. It was Akiko, the new vampire from the coven in Denali.

And she was staring back

I turned my attention back to Jacob, who looked shell-shocked. “Come on, Jacob, let’s get you inside,” I said, tugging at his arm ineffectually.

“Here, let me give you a hand,” Edward said, reaching to where Jacob lay prone on the ground.

That snapped Jacob out of his daze. He glared up at Edward defiantly. “I can manage,” he said, and quickly rose to his feet and stalked off towards the Cullen house.

“Um, excuse me,” I said to the bewildered crowd, turning to follow Jacob inside. I didn’t dare look at Charlie’s face—I didn’t want to know what he thought of Jacob showing up and fainting after he’d just walked me down the aisle.

“Jake, are you okay? What happened?” I said once we were inside. Edward followed soon afterwards, placing a protective hand on my hip. I didn’t know if I should be irritated or touched—was Edward trying to further provoke Jake?

“I don’t know,” Jake said miserably, dropping onto the Cullen’s white sofa. He ran his hands through his hair roughly.

“Jake’s upset because he imprinted,” Edward said, his calm voice startling after hearing Jake’s, which was rough with pain.

I gasped. “On who?”

Jake pulled his hands out of his hair and gave Edward another glare. “On one of the bloodsuck—vampires,” he said, barely able to say the word.

“Akiko,” I breathed, finally understanding why her face had held Jake’s attention. “You imprinted on Akiko.”

“Akiko,” Jake repeated, his face twisting as he said the name of his soul mate for the first time. I could see the two sides of his nature warring against one other.

I thought suddenly of the magnets on my fridge at home, and the two opposing sides I realized I’d once been fighting against. I could understand how Jake felt, a least a little.

“Oh, Jake,” I said, sitting down next to him and tentatively reaching out to hold his hand. “Has this—has this ever happened before?”

I knew the answer before he shook his head. Of course it had never happened before—vampires and werewolves were sworn enemies, after all.

“Do you want me to fetch Akiko?” Edward asked quietly. I glanced up and could tell that his initial amusement was gone, replaced with a carefully blank expression.

“No,” Jake said. It sounded like it took a great deal of effort for him to refuse seeing her. “I don’t think I can handle that just yet.” He let out all the air in his lungs and looked at me, his eyes shuttered with pain. “How will I tell the pack? How can I explain this to them?”

“It’s not your fault, Jake,” I said, feeling his fear and confusion as though it were my own. “They’ll understand eventually… none of them had any choice. Sam and Quil know that first-hand.”

“This is different,” Jake whispered brokenly. His eyes began to search mine. “Bella… what if you hadn’t chosen Edward? What if you’d chosen me, and this had happened? I still love you, but I won’t be able to keep any of my promises…” He let out a shaky laugh that sounded half-way like a sob. He stared at Edward again, looking like he was steeling himself for something extraordinarily painful. “I’m glad she chose you.”

Edward nodded silently. He knew what it cost Jacob to make this admission, could hear the pain in Jacob’s innermost thoughts.

“Jake… you’ll always be my sun,” I said finally, squeezing his hand in mine.

“Sure, sure,” Jake said, a ghost of his old smile flashing across his face before it contorted again in disgust. “I can’t believe this is happening to me. How can I possibly love a vampire? I can’t even stand the way they smell!”

“Maybe you’ll grow accustomed to it,” Edward said thoughtfully, no trace of umbrage in his voice. “Or maybe Akiko will smell differently to you.”

“Maybe,” Jake said doubtfully. “Not that it matters what she smells like—it doesn’t change what she is. What I am.”

“Do you want us to talk to her for you?” I asked hesitantly.

“No,” Jake said, standing up suddenly. “I’m going to go see Sam before I do anything.”

“You’re the rightful Alpha, Jake,” I said softly. “Remember that. Do what is right for you.

“Being an Alpha means doing what is right for the pack,” Jacob countered.

“Doing what’s best for the pack means taking your needs into account,” I said, persistent. “You can’t let this drive you insane, Jake. You’re going to have to be with her eventually.”

“Bella… do you have any idea what this is like for me? Having the woman I’m in love with tell me I have to be with someone else?” Jake sighed. “I’ve already conceded that you marrying… Edward… was for the best, but I can’t process anything else right now. I need to go.”

“Jake—” I said, calling after him even as he ran toward the door and morphed into wolf-form, a flash of red-brown disappearing into the woods.

Edward took my hand, which was still stretched out in front of me to where Jacob had been standing seconds before.

“He’ll be okay,” Edward murmured. “He’s just in shock.”

“What is going on?” Alice demanded, gliding into the room and fixing us with a stern look. “You know I can’t see anything about Jacob. Did he try to take Bella away from you? Is this war?”

“No!” I said, and Edward shot me a glance that was meant to mollify me. But I was too upset for my friend to be soothed.

“Jake just had an… unusual experience,” Edward said. “He was not attempting to sabotage our marriage.”

“I guess it would have made more sense for him to interrupt before the vows,” Alice reluctantly allowed. “But why did he faint? Is he sick?”

“In a manner of speaking,” Edward replied cryptically. “He’ll recover soon enough, though.”

Alice sighed. “I guess neither of you are going to enlighten me.”

I looked at her apologetically. “Sorry, Alice, but it’s a… sensitive issue.”

She nodded glumly, but let the subject drop. “Well, Jasper managed to get everyone calm and happy, so I don’t think you’ll have any trouble fielding questions about what happened with Jacob. And Rosalie and Emmett started the music for dancing...”

“Shall we?” Edward asked, turning towards me and offering his hand.

I clasped his cool hand in mine and followed him outside. At first I tried to look for Akiko in the crowd, but I was soon caught up by Jasper’s effusive influence. I found myself swaying happily with Edward to our first dance as husband and wife, unable to think about anything else entirely.

*


Author's Note: I half-way called Jacob imprinting on a vampire! Too bad BD made it gross and creepy. Akiko's name means "Iris, light and bright" in Japanese, which I find incredibly appropriate.

Any feedback is adored :)

Tags: fic, the heart of darkness, twilight
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