Evil Twin

evil twin

 

Forks. June 4th, 2013

“Rise and shine, Bella!”

“Ugh,” Bella resisted the urge to throw a pillow at her friend’s head. Her sunny disposition always were a pain in the ass and just because she was staying at their house, didn’t mean that she had to be awakened so rudely. She pushed her hair out of her face as she sat up. “I’m awake.”

“Good,” Alice nodded with a bright smile. “I put your clothes in the bathroom, and Esmé is making you breakfast. Hurry up, we’re leaving for school in 30 minutes.”

While she was grateful to the Cullens for taking care of her, she also had the feeling that she was stuck with them. Edward, her boyfriend, had explained a number of times how Bella had lost her memory after a car accident, how her rehabilitation had taken some time and that she had forgotten about it as well. But at times, she felt as if she was suffocating.

They had moved to Forks for Bella’s health. The fresh air, the green trees, would do her good. The warm weather in the Southern States only did her harm. On top of that, being in Washington made it easier for the Cullens to be outside, they would sparkle less. Oh yes, she was in a household filled with vampires. That was one of the things she couldn’t believe when Edward told her about them.

Vampires weren’t real, but they were. They were cold, and their bodies were solid as a rock. Impenetrable. Worst of all, they didn’t sleep, which made for very awkward nights. Bella had found out that she didn’t like him to watch over her while she slept; she found it creepy.

Things didn’t add up, but the family told her that it was because of her accident. That she was going to feel off for a while longer, but that eventually everything would fall into place. Until then, everything was going to be new. And that sucked.

The Cullens were a very hands-on family of vampires. There was Esmé and Carlisle, the parents. Carlisle was a doctor and mostly in charge of Bella’s rehabilitation. Esmé’s cooking could use some improvement. Emmett, the jock, and his wife Rosalie, a gorgeous woman with cheekbones to die for. Then Alice, who was very fashion forward and could tell the future and her husband Jasper, who could influence someone’s emotions. And then there was Edward. Her Edward. He could read thoughts, but for some reason found Bella intriguing as he couldn’t read hers.

Bella didn’t have to do anything around the house. At first, she thought it was because she was still recovering, but it seemed like it was the norm. Esme would prepare her food and Alice made sure that Bella was always immaculately dressed. The only thing Bella was allowed to do was to shower, get dressed and sleep.

She stumbled out of her bed and made her way into the bathroom, brushed her teeth and pulled her hair into a ponytail before getting dressed in tight fitting jeans and a nice shirt. “Good morning,” she said as she walked into the kitchen and as on cue, Esme set down a plate of food in front of her. “Oh, I’m not hungry.”

“You have to eat something, sweetheart,” she smiled at her. “Brain food, so you can concentrate.”

Bella looked at her breakfast. It was a full English breakfast with the baked beans in tomato sauce looking just that, like brains. “I’m sorry, it just… makes me feel sick to my stomach.”

Edward sat down next to her and caressed her hair. “Eat something, love,” he said softly. “We don’t want you to take a bite out of our fellow students because you get hungry, do we?” He teased her as he pushed the plate towards her. “You get cranky when you get hungry.”

“Why do you care? The worst thing that could happen is me passing out.”

Edward looked at his mother and then at his father. “Maybe she’s not ready to go back to school just yet,” he said carefully. “Can’t you just homeschool her? We’ll go to school and-”

“Edward, Bella is more than ready to go back to school,” Carlisle said gently and put his arm around his wife. “If we keep her locked away from the world for much longer, she might start crawling the walls. You don’t need to worry, Jasper’s in her class.”

“He’s not going to mind rape me,” Bella said with a scowl, but started to eat her breakfast anyway the moment he entered the kitchen. “Fucker.” She had a severe dislike to Jasper because he could switch her mood just like that. And it sucked. He could make her do things she didn’t want to do, and that sucked even more.

Edward had explained to her that Jasper wasn’t taking any pleasure out of it either, but that it was a necessity as something in her brain was damaged. Something she didn’t quite understand, but without Jasper’s influence, she would have had to be admitted into a hospital, and she disliked that too.

She had thought it many times before, but she was in hell. Literal hell and there was no escaping it, because they would find her. If she’d leave, they’d track her down. Vampires were excellent trackers. Maybe it was scare tactics, but she knew about them now. She knew how their world worked, and now her life was in danger because of it. Maybe by going to school, she could sneakily figure out if she was missing, like one of those people on milk cartons.

And apparently, paranoia was part of the deal too. As were hallucinations. For a while she had believed that the trees had been talking to her. As if. The Cullens were good people, and they weren’t out to get her; they only wanted what was best for Edward’s girlfriend, and short of turning her, this was the best that they could do.

She polished off her plate and downed her cranberry juice, feeling a lot better than before. “Okay, let’s do this.”

~o.O.o~

She ignored the whispering of the trees as Edward drove them to school. They weren’t real, it was all in her head. But she liked Forks. She could do without the cold, but the shrubbery was absolutely wonderful, until Edward drove into town. “I don’t think I’m ready.”

“Don’t worry, Bella,” he smiled at her as he pulled onto the parking lot. “Nobody knows you here, nobody knows us. Fresh start.”

“Yeah but it’s one thing to have to deal with a small group of people and then 100s, I don’t think I’m ready.”

“Don’t be scared, we’re all here. The first sign of trouble, we’re getting you home.” He parked the car and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s become the coolest kids in school.”

Bella wondered if the accident had caused her to forget how to do school, too. Their first class was math, and she couldn’t make any sense out of it. There were numbers and letters and sure, she pretended to work, to listen, but she didn’t understand any of it. Her neighbor was a girl called Lauren, and she kept shooting Bella glances, almost as if she knew that Bella was dumb. Or crazy.

Instead of taking notes, because Bella didn’t know what they were talking about anyway, she was drawing trees. And there were outlines of a small cabin. She hadn’t known she could draw, and found it fascinating how detailed it was. Tuning out the rest of the class, she spent the rest of the period on her drawing.

The next class was history, and like math, she decided to try to pay attention to it. At least it weren’t numbers she had to be dealing with. But, as a plan B, she pulled out her drawing anyway. When she opened the book to the page number the teacher gave them, she started to read, and for some reason, the words warmed her heart.

It was about the European settlers in the Americas, how it truly started in the 1400’s. But that wasn’t right, she knew that for a fact. Something inside of her knew that the book, and the teacher was wrong. How could she be so stupid? “Excuse me,” Bella spoke up as she raised her hand.

“Yes, Ms. Swan?”

“If we’re being taught about the Europeans coming to America, shouldn’t the chapter, or your story, for that matter, start with how the Vikings fled Scandinavia to avoid the plague? They reached our shores at the beginning of the 10th century. Most of them went for Canada or Greenland, but there were also a few ships who didn’t make it that far, and peacefully settled in Virginia, for example.”

“But that’s not an important part of history, Ms. Swan.”

“But it is. The story is so much more than just Christopher Columbus, who was a hack, by the way,” that remark got the entire classroom to snicker, except for Edward, who didn’t look amused at all. “The Norse Colony in Greenland lasted for nearly 500 years before conflict eventually caused them to flee. There was also a small colony in Virginia that bloomed into a somewhat larger village, but conflict with their native neighbors caused almost the entire village to die. This was all centuries before you and the book claim that the Europeans came to America. And it’s just every bit important as your stories about Columbus.”

“What proof do you have?”

Bella huffed. “The proof is written on the cave walls. To hide from their assailants, the settlers created caves, sometimes a whole cave system, well hidden from view. They wrote their stories in Norse runes. Carved it in with knives or sharp stones.”

“Bella’s a little bit of a history buff,” Edward smiled kindly, but she could detect agitation in his voice. “Forgive her, she gets too excited about things like that.”

Not being deterred by Edward, Bella continued. “In 1837, a Danish antiquarian pointed out that the works of Adam of Bremen from 1075. The works told about early settlements in Winland, the Viking’s name for what we now know as North America.”

“Bella, that’s enough,” Edward snapped. “You’re embarrassing the teacher and yourself.”

“Stop calling me Bella,” she snapped back at him. “You know I hate that name.”

“I think this is highly interesting,” the teacher said as she sat down on top of her desk. “You see, Norse history, especially those of the Vikings, are a speciality of mine. Well, more like a hobby, and what you said, is correct.” She then looked at the entire class. “Take a lesson from this, everyone. Not everything you need to know is found in school books. I want a ten page essay on the time before Columbus and you might have to go to the library to find what you need. If you copy from wikipedia, I will know.” When the school bell rang, she hopped off her desk. “Isabella, Edward, please stay behind.”

“We don’t need to,” Edward kindly smiled at the teacher as he held on to Bella. “Bella’s not feeling too well, obviously, I should take her to the school nurse.”

“Just because she’s excitable doesn’t mean she’s not feeling well,” the teacher took Bella’s hand and smiled at her. “Please, tell me more… Oh! What about the werewolf lore? What do you think about that? Was that truth or fiction?”

“In Greenland?”

“Don’t answer that, Bella, let’s go,” Edward said as he started to pull her away from the teacher.

“No, Virginia,” the teacher wasn’t letting go of Bella either. “Some local teenagers stumbled upon a cave there that told a story about a werewolf colony.”

“Really?” Bella blinked, getting excited. “Oh, that is so cool!”

“Tell you what. Come by my office tomorrow and we can go over some of the pictures. I don’t have them with me right now but I promise, you’re going to get a kick out of it.”

“No, Bella’s not coming by your office tomorrow,” Edward said with a growl. “Please let go of her before I file a complaint at the principal’s office.”

The teacher let go of Bella and put her hands in the air. “Fine, but just because she’s smarter than you, doesn’t mean you should get jealous,” she said amused. “And I am still your teacher, Edward Cullen, you don’t get to make demands.”

~o.O.o~

Forks, June 5th, 2013

He had taken Bella home after the stunt she pulled in history. Edward had put her in her room and had left her there. She didn’t mind. It had been great to get excited about something again, it was almost as if a spark had ignited in her brain and she suddenly knew about Norse history. Edward had never told her that she liked it before the accident.

She spent the rest of the day looking out of her window, with the window wide open as she finished her drawing. The whispers of telling her that she was in danger were pushed to the back of her head, because they weren’t real. They were insistent, but they weren’t real.

Edward took her to the principal’s office that morning before school after Carlisle had told him to make a formal complaint, and was surprised to find the history teacher already present in the office. “Mr. Cullen! What can I do for you?” The principal greeted him with a smile. “Do you know that you make a bad impression when you go to a new school on the first day and then only take part in two classes?”

“Bella wasn’t feeling too well, sir,” Edward countered as Bella scowled next to him. “You see, she’s been in a bad car accident a few weeks ago and if she gets excited, she gets dizzy.”

“I do not,” she huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.

“I see. Does this have anything to do with what you wished to speak to me about, Ms. Salvatore?” The principal said, looking at the teacher. “You started to say something about Mr. Cullen being less than friendly towards his friend.”

“He was,” she confirmed, looking over at Edward. “Isabella wished to stay behind to discuss her favourite history topic with me, and he was absolutely insistent on leaving and not wanting to leave her with me. As a teacher, I’m concerned about his influence in my classroom.”

“I understand. Mr. Cullen?”

“Ms. Salvatore took things too far with Bella,” Edward said in his polite voice. “My father wrote you a letter, specifically instructing you not to allow teachers to stimulate her like that.”

“He did?” The principal said, looking through his stack of papers. “Oh, you mean this one where he wants to squelch Ms. Swan’s intellectual growth?” He held up the paper and looked at Edward.

Bella was confused. “Why did Carlisle do that? I thought he wanted me back in school?”

“He does, but he still wants you to take it easy, love,” Edward said kindly, caressing her back.

“Well, that’s stupid,” she huffed as she reached for the piece of paper and ripped it. “There. No more letter.” She then turned to Edward. “And if you don’t get your hands off me, I will break them!”

“You skipped breakfast.”

“Yes,” she said with a growl.

“We need to go home.”

“No.”

“What you need, Mr. Cullen,” the principal spoke as he reached for another piece of paper and handed it to him. “Is to get to class. I hope you don’t mind, I switched things around for you so that the both of you no longer share a class together. Nor does she share a class with any of your siblings.”

Edward scowled as he looked at the teacher, who was watching him with a big smile on her face before she waved at him. “You don’t want to be late, now, do you? I’ll make sure she’ll have something to eat before her class starts.”

“No, you won’t. She has a special diet. I’m calling my father and this is not over.”

“Get to class, Mr. Cullen.”

“I’ll be fine,” Bella sighed as she looked at Edward. “Go already. I’ll see you between classes.”

“I don’t like this,” Edward stomped off to find his sister. Something wasn’t feeling right, they needed to take Bella out of class. He hadn’t been able to get a read on the history teacher and the principal’s thoughts were scrambled too. Something was up. Bella was in danger.

Bella watched as Edward walked off and closed the door. She then turned to the teacher and the principal and sighed. “Do I get a schedule change too?”

“No,” Ms. Salvatore smiled at her. “You’re exempt from your first class, as it’s math and we need to talk.”

“I don’t like math.”

“Yeah, I figured that, come.” She said as she lead Bella to a different room, an empty classroom before getting something out of her bag and lit it. “There. Now we can talk without anyone overhearing us.”

Bella looked at the teacher, confused. “What is that?”

“Oh, it’s a sage stick. Combined with the spell I just cast, we’re now basically in Fort Knox. No vampire hearing and all.”

“You know of vampires?”

“Yes. And I happen to know you’re with a bunch of dangerous ones right now,” Ms. Salvatore leaned against the desk. “You’re in danger, Isa. I’m here to help.”

She blinked upon hearing the name Isa. “What did you just call me?”

“Isa.”

Bella hummed in appreciation. “Sounds good.”

“Because that’s your name,” Ms. Salvatore smiled at her. “Now, first things first. Are you hungry or thirsty?”

“Neither,” Bella replied as she sat down on a chair. “I skipped breakfast because it makes me feel sick. Carlisle devised a special diet for me and it’s gross. I do like cranberry juice though, so I had that this morning.”

“Hmm…” Ms. Salvatore rummaged through her bag and produced a small carton of cranberry juice. “Here you go.”

“Thank you,” she smiled at her, putting the straw in the carton and took a sip. “Oh, that is disgusting!”

“You said you liked cranberry juice,” the teacher snorted and pointed at the carton. “That’s it.”

“No, it’s not. It doesn’t have the hint of copper it’s supposed to have, nor does it soothe the burning. In fact, this doesn’t burn at all, so I don’t know what this is but…” she wrinkled her nose as she handed the carton back. “Thanks but no thanks. How do you know about the vampires? Have you any idea in what danger you’re in by simply knowing about them?”

The teacher pointed at the sage stick. “I’m not afraid of them,” she set the carton down and retrieved a blood bag from her bag. “You know what this is?”

“That’s blood.”

“Yes. I brought it just in case.”

She blinked as she saw the delighted look on her teacher’s face. “That’s disgusting, why would you do such a thing?”

“Uhuh,” she said as she ripped the bag open at the top. “How does it smell? This is a delicious bag of AB negative. Would you want it?”

Bella couldn’t control herself as she lunged for the bag and started to drink it out of instinct. This was stupid, this was gross. This wasn’t happening, but it tasted so good. It was absolutely delicious and she moaned in pleasure. “What’s going on?” She muttered as she continued to empty the bag, squeezing it dry to the last drop.

“How do you feel?”

“Stronger.”

“Good, I’ll bring a bag in every day.”

“What’s going on?” Bella repeated as she wiped her mouth from the blood, before licking it off her hand as she wanted more.

“You’re a vampire. The Cullens gave you just enough blood to stop you from desiccating and that’s just not right,” Ms. Salvatore took the bag and put it back in her purse. “Now, Isa, this is important. You’re not going to bite any student in this school, do you understand?”

“Why would I want to bite someone?” She asked as she blinked. Was she a vampire? Like Edward? But he fed on animals and that was definitely not animal blood.

“Yes. I’ve been told that when you get upset or angry or in a complete meltdown, you like to eat churches full of people. Don’t let them know you know you’re a vampire. Play along with their little game until we know more. While we’d rather pull you out now, we don’t think that will be good for you.”

“What?”

“Can’t talk anymore, it’s time to go to class,” Ms. Salvatore said as she extinguished the sage stick. “Keep this a secret.”

Bella spent the rest of the day confused, lost in thought, as she tried to wrap her mind around things. She wasn’t sure what was going on and it was very possible she’d been hallucinating. Dreaming. Yes. That was it. Her encounter this morning with Ms. Salvatore hadn’t been real. It had been wish fulfilment. But what if it wasn’t? What if everything she experienced was real? That she was misplaced, that she was a vampire and that the trees were talking to her? Well, maybe the trees weren’t, but everything else?

Edward was fuming between classes, making sure she was still in one piece and by the end of the day, she had wanted to rip his head off, but it was as if the history teacher could sense that she was about to snap and pulled her aside to remind her to stay calm and collected. Bella wanted to rip out her heart for saying that. There wasn’t a good reason for her to do so, other than it getting Bella into even more danger than she already was.

But now that she was a vampire, her chances of surviving the Cullens just got bigger.

When they got back to the house, Jasper was checking his phone as he received messages on it and she noticed how his pale complexion even tured more pale. Bella headed straight to her room to do research. If she was a vampire, she wasn’t a Cold One. Her skin wasn’t marble and she had checked, she wasn’t shimmering in the sun either.

Jasper came to get her for dinner time, and much to her surprise, she didn’t feel his intrusion on her mind, which confused her even more. It caused him to smile knowingly and escort her to the kitchen.

She had found references about ancient vampires who looked like humans in every way. Mostly the lore of Dracula. Most vampires in modern day fiction were the same; garlic was bad, holy crosses were bad. Like walking in sunlight. It would cause vampires to combust. And yet, she had no problems with it at all. She was going to have to ask Ms. Salvatore about it.

Now that she was aware of what blood tasted like, she could taste a trace in her meal and in her cranberry juice, but her cranberry juice still burned, as if something else was added to it. She had gotten used to the burn over the last few months, she remembered how hard it was to drink it, but seeing as the Cullens wouldn’t give her anything else, it was what she had to deal with.

“Don’t worry, Bella,” Carlisle said gently. “I shall have a talk with the principal tomorrow to get Edward back in your class. He said you were feeling quite miserable without him.”

No, she didn’t. She didn’t even like school. She spent her hours drawing instead of paying attention. If this was all for show, then why actively try to keep up the charade? It wasn’t as if she knew what was going on anyway. Biology didn’t make sense. Neither did Spanish. She accidentally caused a bloody nose at some girl during sports. She was miserable because she didn’t understand. Not because of a lack of Edward. In fact, she did a better job at keeping up appearances without him breathing down her neck.

“Jasper volunteered to stay behind while we go out hunting,” Carlisle said to Bella as she finished her plate.

“Okay, but can I please have some more juice? Or food? I’m starving,” she said as she pushed her plate away from her. Esme’s cooking wasn’t great, but she needed more.

“No, you’ve had enough,” Carlisle laughed. “But it’s a good thing that your appetite is returning, Bella. It’s what we’ve been waiting for.”

The moment the family left the house, was the moment where she started to look around for food. Or alcohol. Anything. But the Cullens didn’t eat or drink. She was just about to give up when Jasper caught her snooping around. “I’m sorry, I’m-”

“Looking for this?” Jasper smiled at her as he held up a blood bag.

She hesitated before grabbing the bag and started to drink. “Sorry,” she muttered, knowing that human blood didn’t go well with Jasper and that he was probably fighting his urges. “How did you…”

“We know you’re a vampire, Bella. That’s the whole point of your special diet. They give you enough not to dry up,” he said kindly as he sat down. “Passing you off as a human sounded better in Carlisle’s mind as you’re not like us.”

“Okay,” she said with the bag still on her lips.

“Now I’m curious about how you know.”

“That’s a secret,” she said as she licked her lips. There was still some blood left in the bag, but she realized she’d been too greedy. “You know who I am then?”

“I do.”

“And the car accident was a simple excuse?”

“Yes.”

“Was any of it real?”

“To you? Yes.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Bella replied as she started to pace around the room. “Things didn’t add up, small things. And when I put all those small things together, it became a huge thing. So, why can’t I remember who I am? What did you do to me?”

“I don’t know the specifics. I do have to admit that Emmett and I were part of the team that removed you from your family because you’re something special. It’s not unheard of for a Cold One to have a special gift. Edward with his mindreading, Alice with her visions… but for a vampire like yourself? The Volturi wanted Carlisle to observe you. By pretending you’re human and actively weakening you with your diet, he’s doing just that.”

She decided she couldn’t wait to finish her blood bag and finished it. “Tell me why I’m not killing you.”

“Because up until earlier this evening, I had no idea who you were. Now that I know, I realize that we are in danger and I want to save my own skin. So I’m on your side now.”

“Traitor,” she tossed the blood bag at him. “Is my name Isa?”

“Yes.”

“Do I have to keep guessing about who I am or are you going to tell me?”

He laughed at that. “I’m sorry, darlin’, but you need to figure that out for yourself. But after what happened in history yesterday, and after what I’ve told you now, I think that you’ll figure it out sooner or later.”

“Why do I need to figure it out for myself?”

“I have no idea. As I said, Carlisle didn’t go into specifics about that.”

She had a strong urge to kill him, but fought it. With Jasper being able to manipulate emotions, he was her strongest ally. He could keep her safe while she figured things out. “If I google vampire Isa, will I show up in the results?”

“No.”

~o.O.o~

Forks, June 6th, 2013

Isa looked at the burning sage stick as it burned and looked at Ms. Salvatore. “My name is Isa and I’m a vampire. I know that the Cullens are holding me against my will and for some reason made up this thing that I was in a car crash and lost my memories as a part of that.”

“Car crash? Well, that’s new,” the teacher said as she handed Bella a bag of blood. “What else?”

“Jasper Cullen has switched sides and is now protecting me,” she looked at the bag of blood. “Not that I’m not grateful, or anything, but why should I trust you? I have a feeling that I shouldn’t trust you.”

“You don’t like me very much, but that’s okay. I’d do anything for my family, even if it means keeping an eye on my almost sister-in-law.”

“Your what?” She nearly spat out the blood in shock.

“Sister-in-law. You’re engaged to my brother. You were celebrating it in Virginia when they took you. He was out for a quick snack and when he returned, you were gone.”

“Just how old am I?”

“Old,” she replied with a smile. “I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t.”

“Jasper said the same thing.”

“Did he say anything about what they’ve done to you?”

“No,” Isa felt her face change as she tore through the bag. “I’m still not even sure if I’m hallucinating all of this or not. It could very well be a trick of the mind, yet another side effect of the head trauma that I got from the crash.”

“That is indeed something you need to figure out,” Ms. Salvatore agreed. “What does your instinct tell you?”

“Well, that things are wrong, but then I rationalize and remember what Carlisle said, that it’s part of the injury and then I don’t know.”

“You should listen to the trees for guidance.”

Isa laughed. “Yes, now I’m sure that I’m hallucinating.” She handed her the half empty bag. “I don’t want this anymore, this is stupid.”

“What are you feeling?”

“That I need to create as much distance between you and me to feel safe. That I want out. Away. Gone. Hiding. I don’t know.”

“Good. Do it.”

“No!” she blurted. “Because they will find me and they will bring me back.”

“So? You’re strong enough to hold your own against them,” she said encouragingly, mildly pushing her. “Do whatever you need to find yourself again. I’m even willing to schedule a last minute class trip to Virginia to explore the Viking caves you talked about in class the other day.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Ms. Salvatore,” she said defensively. “I suggest you start minding your own business before you get killed.” She grabbed her bag and left the classroom, bumping into Alice as she turned the corner. “What!” Bella snapped.

“Easy, Bella,” Alice said soothingly. “Are you alright? What’s made you so upset? Is it the teacher?”

Bella looked at Alice and counted to ten. All she saw was a head she could screw off a body and to do that in the middle of a school hallway, was not a good plan. “Yes. It was a discussion gone awry about some Viking stuff,” she replied as she tried to remain composed.

“Really? Because I couldn’t hear a word that was going on inside that classroom,” Edward said as he joined his sister’s side. “In any case, don’t let her get to you like that. It’s unbecoming.”

Bella growled as she pushed Edward against the nearest wall with a loud bang. “You know what’s unbecoming? Trying to control me.”

“Bella!” Alice gasped. “You let go of him right this instant! Edward and I are only looking out for you! Clearly you’re not alright, maybe we should take you home. Give you some rest.”

She grabbed Alice by the throat as she started to see red. Just the idea of destroying the pixie filled her heart with glee. No one was touching Isa. No one. There was only one person for her and he wasn’t here, and she didn’t know who he was, either. But it wasn’t Edward.

Alice grabbed her throat once Bella was on the floor and looked at Jasper. “Why did you do that!”

“Because Edward wasn’t doing anything and she was just about to rip your throat out,” Jasper countered as he lifted the limp body of the vampire and flung her over his shoulder. “I’m taking her to the woods, have her wake up, calm her down and take her to Carlisle.”

“Yeah, do that. Make sure he straps her down and put her under, she’s regressing,” Alice sneered.

“It’s that teacher,” Edward pointed out.

“No shit, Sherlock,” Jasper rolled his eyes at him and marched out of the school.

~o.O.o~

She sat up and glared at Jasper before looking at where they were. The woods. He hadn’t taken her home, he hadn’t killed her and they weren’t in school. And most importantly, she still felt that rage coursing through her body, so he hadn’t messed with her head, either. She kept staring at him, not willing to be the first person to speak up. He had snapped her neck, he should apologize.

“You would have torn her head off.”

“That was the idea,” Bella said angrily. “I am sick and tired of playing games. No one is giving me the answers that I need and until then, I’m stuck with you.”

“You need to calm down. I can’t take you home like this.”

“There is no calming down!” Bella fumed as she got to her feet and started to pace around the clearing. “And you know why? I’ve learned that I’ve been living a lie for months! I wasn’t in a car crash, I was taken. By you! All the things I’ve been told are preventing me from remembering who I am because for some reason, for every feeling that I have, there’s an explanation! If murdering Alice or Edward or Carlisle or whomever will solve that for me, then you should allow me to!”

“But it won’t solve anything,” he said calmly, as he watched the vampire. She was pacing around like a caged animal, feral, wild. Dangerous now that she was souped up on human blood. The vervain in her system was enough to keep her from being compelled, but not enough to weaken her. He was sure that Alice and Edward would tell Carlisle what happened at school and he would up the dosage. Maybe put her under again.

Her anger was justified, it was pure, as was her heart. However, if she didn’t calm down, he was going to have to use his ability. Despite her age, she still could be killed once subdued enough and that would result in his death. And that wasn’t going to happen. “Isa, you need to calm down on your own, or I will have to help you. Find your control.”

Maybe taking her to the woods hadn’t been such a great idea. He knew that she could still hear the whispers, her connection to nature was the only thing that Carlisle struggled with to get tucked away, but she had been told that they were hallucinations. Jasper feared for a complete overload.

But perhaps the complete overload wasn’t such a bad thing. She was far away from civilisation, he could control her emotions and there wasn’t a lot of hurt that she could do. Maybe if she’d start listening to what surrounded her, she would be able to get back to herself in a much quicker way.

“Focus and listen. What do you hear?”

“Nothing,” she said as she stopped and looked at him. “The rustling of leaves, the tiny feet of animals. The wind. Your poor attempt of trying to look like you’re breathing.”

“What else? What about the whispers?”

“Don’t, Jasper. Don’t,” she warned him. “Those aren’t real. Carlisle said. They’re not real.”

“And everything that Carlisle has told you has been a lie, so start listening to those whispers, Isa Karlsdotter, or I will have to use my gift on you before I bring you home.”

She hit the nearest tree in her rage, and watched as it snapped in half. Immediately she could feel a tightness in her chest, almost as if she had committed the crime of the century and put her arms around it before it fell on the ground. “No, no, no, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” she said as tears fell down her face. She tried to put it back in its place and held on to it. “I didn’t mean to, please, reattach, please, please…”

He reeled from the emotional rollercoaster that Isa was on. Her anger was now replaced by deep sadness and concern. She truly felt sorry for hurting the tree, but there was nothing she could do about it. The tree was broken. “Let it go, Isa.”

“No!” She held on to the tree, holding it in place as she placed her head against the trunk and then she heard its screams. Its agony. Mark, the tree, was in so much pain, it was crippling her as she held on, trying to soothe him. But it was too much. She had to let go to stop feeling as if every fibre in her body was on fire, and that meant that she had murdered a tree in cold blood.

Isa gently lowered the trunk to the ground, placing it neatly next to the stump before caressing what was left of the tree. “I am so sorry, Mark,” she whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that. I am so sorry. No, this is unforgivable. I’m the last person who should have cut you down. Please, try to grow back,” she sobbed as she kept caressing the stump.

He watched in awe as she talked to the tree as if it was a real person, as if she was now listening. He could work with her sadness, tell Carlisle that she got sad because she hates it that she can’t remember things, or that she feels stupid in school for not understanding the subject matter anymore. It made the house a safer place for all of them.

It didn’t take away the fact that the whole scene was heartbreaking. She had rediscovered a part of herself, and in her mind, had to do the unspeakable to do so. On the other hand, this was good. She was on the road back. Maybe he could have Carlisle tell him why it would be wrong for her to have her memories back in one go – other than that she’d probably kill them all.

He started to pick up another person’s emotions and decided that he and Isa had to head home. “We need to go,” he said as he tried to pry her off the tree, but she was holding on to it for dear life. “Come on.”

“I want to stay outside,” she was still sobbing. “I need to heal him.”

“You already have, come on. We’re not alone.”

“I don’t care! Mark needs me right now!”

Jasper sighed as he started to pry her fingers off the stump one by one. “Don’t make me influence you.”

“Go away,” she said as she pushed him away, flinging him across the clearing.

“Oh, careful, you nearly took my head off with that one,” a voice sounded as he emerged from the trees. “But I guess I had it coming.”

Isa looked up as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “I know you.”

“I sure hope so, otherwise I’m not sure what I’m doing here,” he smirked as he pushed the Cold One down again and continued to walk to Isa. “I saw your little spat with the tree.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“I know. I did mean to kick Ezekiel through the woods though, and you scolded me for that, so I know your pain.”

“You don’t.”

“Oh, you let me know the pain quite well, oh woodnymph of mine,” he said with a grin and squatted down next to her. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

“I know that.”

“Good. So, what’s my name?” He pushed a strand of hair out of her face and looked at her, hopeful that she’d remember. “Come on, don’t make me wait. I know it’s in your head somewhere.”

“Are you my history teacher’s brother?”

“What the fuck is Stefan doing out here?” Damon blinked at her. “I told him to hold the fort!”

“No, no, the blonde lady.”

“Rebekah? Is that her name?”

“I don’t know. I only know her as Ms. Salvatore.”

“Oh, sounds intriguing,” Damon said amused. “I guess I’ll have to go to school tomorrow to check her out. Is she hot?”

“Isn’t she your sister? She claims to be my almost sister-in-law, so am I engaged to you?”

He blinked at that and then started to laugh, falling backwards into the grass and kept laughing. “Oh man, I haven’t laughed so much in ages!” He hiccuped. “Oh, that’s good… I can’t wait until Stefan hears about this. Or your actual fiancé… although he’d kill me.”

“So you’re not.”

“Of course not! Don’t get me wrong, you’re hot, but you’re not my type. Besides, you broke my dick, there was no way in hell I was going to allow you anywhere near me like that!”

“I thought two legs and two boobs were your type,” Jasper piped up as he moved beside Isa. “Damon.”

“Jazzy pants, good to see you again.”

“Asshole.”

“The feeling’s mutual, dickface.”

“Wait,” Isa said confused as she looked between the two. “You two know each other?”

“Not by choice,” Damon winced. “As it turned out, we have a mutual friend who forces us to be buddies from time to time…”

“And your name is Damon.”

“Yeah but that doesn’t count, he told you,” he said with a grin and got to his feet. “Now, you both better hurry along now, Ms. Salvatore sent me a text message saying that the rest of the Cullens left school as well.”

“So you do know her,” Isa pointed out.

“No, I’ve never met the woman, but I guess she’s a witch and she’s on my… our, side. So… yeah… I know of her, but I’ve never met her.” He then turned to Jasper. “Speaking of witches, my witch has said to tread lightly. Not to push her that much. The thing that you just pulled? That was pushing too much. Last time she was sent into an overload, she slaughtered an entire church filled with people.”

“And that’s why we’re in the middle of the woods,” Jasper pointed out. “I know how unstable she is, I can feel it. There’s plenty of wildlife for her to take down, and unfortunately she took it out on a tree.”

“Oh! Mark!” Isa cried out, her attention diverted back to the tree and went back to it to pet it.

“What?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Mark will be fine,” Damon huffed, waving it away.

“What?”

“Dude, she talks to trees.”

“I know that.”

“She talks to trees and Ezekiel is doing better now.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Peachy. As long as she stays away from my dick.”

~o.O.o~

Forks, June 10th, 2013

Bella yawned and tried to stretch herself as the sunlight caressed her face and woke her. It was a beautiful day, indeed. She looked out the window and smiled. The sky was bluer than blue and there was barely any wind. Maybe she was allowed outside for a little bit today.

“Good Morning, Bella,” Edward’s voice sounded. “How are you feeling?”

“Happy,” she smiled at him as he came into focus. “Fine, really. Can we go outside today?”

“Maybe, if there’s some shade,” he pushed her hair out of her face before undoing her restraints. “Let’s start with coming downstairs for breakfast.”

She allowed herself to be pulled up and she felt slightly weak in the knees, but Bella was thankful that Edward kept her upright. It had been an interesting couple of days and she couldn’t remember much, but Edward had told her that she had some mental breakdown, related to a car accident she had been in. They had to restrain her because the medicine they had given her caused some side effects and they had been worried that she’d hurt herself.

But Bella didn’t remember the rest, and that was alright. She wasn’t going to be forced to remember, because they would love her anyway for the rest of her life. The Cullens were going to take care of her like they had before, no matter how bad things would get with her. She should feel lucky that she hadn’t been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Yes. She felt lucky. She felt happy. Content. Safe.

“Good Morning, Bella,” Carlisle greeted her. Dr. Cullen was amazing. He was kind and he was knowledgeable. And Bella was in his debt. Any other person would have told her to go away after she’d shown some issues after her accident, but he took care of her. He didn’t want to leave her on her own as she didn’t have anybody. “You remember Corin, don’t you?”

“Hi,” she greeted her with a nod. Corin was a nurse, a befriended nurse from Italy and she had come over to help Carlisle with Bella’s treatment. And that was fine, she was a nice lady. She remembered another nurse, but it appeared that she was no longer needed and had left. Bella gratefully dug into the breakfast that Esme had made for her and greedily drank her cranberry juice. She loved cranberry juice, it tasted ever so sweet, but with a little after burn to wake her up.

“I was thinking of taking Bella out on the patio this afternoon,” Edward spoke up. “To try to get some color back on her face.”

“I don’t think that’s the best idea, Edward. Bella is still weak. But, we could play some boardgames today, wouldn’t that be fun, Bella?”

“That sounds like fun, I’m good with whatever you decide.” She watched as Corin excused herself and then longingly looked at her now empty glass of juice. “Can I have some more juice, please?”

“No, sweetheart, we don’t want you to get an upset stomach.”

She nodded slowly and thought for a moment. “Can I have some water, then?”

“Of course.”

Water didn’t quench her thirst. Maybe she wasn’t feeling too well, still. “I uhm… I’m going back to bed,” Bella said softly as she retreated to the bedroom, followed closely by Edward, making sure that she wouldn’t pass out on the way there.

The next thing she knew was hearing a lot of crashing and falling of things and noises, startled, she looked at Edward, who had a concerned look on his face. “What’s going on?”

“We’re under attack,” Edward managed to say before he lifted Bella off the bed and gently put her in a closet. He handed her her blanket and her pillow. “Stay here until I come and get you, do you understand?”

She nodded as she watched the door close. All she could hear were shouts, followed by more crashing and shattering of things. It seemed to go on for a very long time, she wasn’t quite sure for how long, but she could feel her heart beat in her chest, desperately wanting to jump out of there. “Where is she! Find her!” She could hear someone demand and Bella felt a chill run down her spine. They were looking for her, weren’t they?

She hid underneath her blanket and tried to crawl deeper into the closet. She was so scared, so unbelievably scared. But Edward would make sure they couldn’t get to her. The rest of the Cullens would make sure, wouldn’t they? They were strong and indestructible. Why would anyone want her? Bella wasn’t anyone special. Maybe they were from the hospital and they would take her away, lock her away for good, because she wasn’t right in the head, she knew that, but Carlisle had done everything in his power to make sure she could stay.

She wanted to stay. “Please, Edward, make sure they don’t get to me,” she whispered from underneath her blanket.

“Bella.”

“Jasper!” Bella crawled out of her hiding spot and saw his bloodied appearance. “What… what happened?”

“It’s okay,” he smiled at her and lifted her in his arms. “You’re safe, I’m sorry we had to do it this way,” Jasper grabbed her blanket and wrapped it around her. Knowing that she was going to be upset, he gently nudged her mind into a nice, peaceful state. “But there wasn’t any other way.”

“What do you mean?” She put her arms around his neck and looked around as he walked through the house with her. She could see body parts belonging to the family all over. “Jasper, what happened? Are they… where’s Edward?”

She started to struggle against his hold, and even though she’d been put through the mental and physical wringer, he was glad that she was so weak, it was easier to transport her like that. He could feel how she fought his calming influence, and it took a lot of him to make sure she wouldn’t shut down or flip out. “Sorry, darlin’, I’m the only one left standing. They came out of nowhere.”

“Who did?”

“Never mind that, you’re safe now. I’m going to take you to a place where you’ll be safe.”

~o.O.o~

Mystic Falls, June 12th, 2013

“Where are we?” Bella asked as Jasper carried her through the woods. He had slipped some blood in her drink along the way. It was hard for him to control himself, but he did it. He didn’t want to end up like the rest of his family.

Jasper now understood why Damon had called the Original vampire the Happy Homicidal Maniac. Watching him tear into Edward was brutal, what was worse was that he used Edward’s arm to separate Alice’s head from her torso and continued his violent rampage. Damon and Jasper simply had to make sure no one ran. It was hard, to watch his family getting slaughtered like that, and if he hadn’t changed his mind, he would have ended up the same way.

The Mikaelsons and the sired one had managed to figure out what exactly Carlisle had done to Isa, and that there were only two options for her to recover. One; she was going to have to remember everything all by herself, push through the boundaries that had been set up in her mind or two; wait until the vervain was out of her system and invade her mind to break down the barriers, but that would severely hurt. Something her fiancé didn’t want to happen.

For now, they went with option one, and the first step would be to bring her back to the place that she called home. Jasper wasn’t quite sure where the cabin was, and he wasn’t really allowed to know other than that it was in these woods. He understood why. It was for Isa’s protection. “I’m going to leave you in the care of a friend of mine,” he spoke as he stopped in the middle of a clearing. “This is for your own protection while I find the ones responsible for killing my family.”

“But…”

“Trust me, Bella,” he smiled at her. “You’re going to be perfectly safe with him. He knows about your accident and your relapse, and he promised me that he could fix you.”

“But Carlisle said…”

“What can I say? This guy is a miracle worker,” he gently set her down on the ground. “I wouldn’t leave you with him if I didn’t completely trust him.” Jasper then pointed at the trees around them. “These trees will keep you safe as well. And it may sound silly, but if you listen closely, you can hear them talk to you.”

“I’m not a child, Jasper,” she rolled her eyes at him and watched as a man emerged from the shadows. “Is that him?” The man was tall and he had a handsome face, she could see that he had a forced smile on his face, but it was handsome. If it hadn’t been for the loss of Edward that she was still dealing with, she would even go as far as the man being boyfriend material.

“Bella, this is Kol Mikaelson and he’s going to take care of you.”

“Hello, darling,” Kol greeted her. He hadn’t liked the plan, but Freya thought this was the best way possible to save his Isa. But it hurt when there was no hint of recognition in her eyes. It made him want to kill the Cullens all over again. Maybe even start with Jasper. Despite his change of heart, he still had had a hand in taking her away in the first place. “You must feel exhausted from your journey.”

Her heart skipped a beat. He had an English accent and it was beautiful. His voice sounded kind, heavenly. She trusted him, and didn’t need Jasper to tell her that he was trustworthy. She felt a sense of peace, serenity, in his presence. And that wasn’t Jasper’s influence either. Bella let go of Jasper to walk towards him, but wobbled and nearly fell. If it wasn’t for Kol catching her, she’d have fallen on the floor.

“Look at that, already falling for me,” he said with a grin as he scooped her up into his strong arms and then looked at Jasper. “Thank you.”

Jasper nodded. “Keep her safe,” he then turned around and sped off to where he had left the car.

“Welcome to Mystic Falls,” Kol said to her as he started to walk towards the cabin. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her, she looked terrible. They had been so close in getting her back a few days ago, but much to his frustration, Carlisle had been on to them. The house went into lockdown mode and while Kol wanted to go in and take her then, Damon had insisted that they’d wait, after seeing Isa’s state of mind. Now that he saw her for himself, he knew that they had quite a way to go.

While the journey to the cabin didn’t take long at all, by the time they arrived, she had fallen asleep in his arms. His tiny Isa. His beloved. But he was a stranger to her.

He tucked her into bed and shot off a message to Damon to get some human food down to the cabin. He wanted to give her blood, immediately, but she could get defensive about it and she could shut down. Kol didn’t want that to happen so until the moment would come up, he was going to have to play along.

And that sucked. He wanted to pump her full of blood and take her to the caverns below, to show her her own words. He wanted her back. He wanted his Isa back and once she was back, they would both track down Jasper and kill him. Because she earned her revenge as well.

Patience wasn’t one of his virtues.

~o.O.o~

There was food. She smelled food and she was so hungry. She sat up and looked around, disoriented as where she was. It looked like a cabin, a one roomed cabin with a huge tree in the middle – seriously, who did that? – and she was on the bed. There was food on some big slab of stone and that man was sitting next to it, obsessively checking his phone. “How did you manage to get food without a stove?”

“Oh, you’re up!” Kol smiled brightly at her as he brought over the food. “I’m a terrible cook, especially over an open fire. I had a friend of mine make it and bring it over.”

She looked at the meal, the smoke was still coming off of it. “Are you a vampire like Jasper?”

“Not like Jasper, but yes,” he said as if he was offended. “He’s the stone cold sort.”

“And what? You’re the warm and cuddly sort?” She countered with a smile as she tucked into her food, it tasted delicious, it was the best food she’d ever had.

“Would you like me to be?” Kol replied playfully. “I mean, I could be. But all vampires are cold blooded. My kind simply has a way to stay warm. And we bleed normal blood, not the acidic goo that Jasper said was painted on the walls of that house you were in.”

She lowered her fork and tried not to get queasy about it. “Don’t remind me, that was gross and horrific and ugh. I’m not hungry anymore.”

“You barely ate.”

“You started to talk about blood and goo, it’s disgusting,” she shuddered at the thought and the memory, before sighing deep. She hadn’t had the chance yet to completely process what was going on, what had happened. Jasper had done his best to shield her from the onslaught at the house, but that didn’t take away the fact that everyone who cared about and for her, were gone. She had even started to like Edward again. “Do you know what happened in Forks?” She asked quietly, looking down at her hands.

“Yes.”

She looked up to him with a hopeful look in her eyes. “Do you know who killed them?”

Oh, he didn’t like the way this was going, but decided to answer truthfully anyway. The sooner, the better, right? “Yes.”

“Then you should tell Jasper, because he’s trying to find the ones responsible, to make them pay,” she said, urging him.

Sighing, Kol handed her back her fork. “You should eat something. If you finish your plate, I’ll consider telling Jasper who’s responsible, but I have an inkling that he already knows.”

“You can’t blackmail me in eating in exchange to do something,” she said as she continued to eat. If she had to be honest, she was still hungry and it simply tasted divine. “This tomato sauce is amazing.”

He smiled at her, if only she knew. She had to finish the pasta, she’d get a good quantity of blood inside of her, even though it was only nearly enough to sustain her. The quicker she remembered she was a vampire again, the better. “Jasper has told me about your story, you don’t remember anything before your accident?”

“No,” she said as she kept eating. “Carlisle said that it was my body’s way of suppressing the accident – complete blank slate. And it’s not funny.”

“Do you remember going to school last week?” If she did, then they’d be a lot closer to getting her back than originally thought.

“Sort of? I mean, I know I went to school, but the I started to hallucinate again so I’m not sure if I was ever present,” she said with a snort. “The hallucinations or maybe it was disassociation, started when I got in with it with the history teacher about the Europeans coming to the Americas. I mean, I know that he’s considered the most important person in history, but the Europeans, especially the Vikings, started coming to this place even before the 10th century. Christopher Columbus was a hack.”

Kol smiled at that. Freya had told him about the encounter, of course, and he had beamed with pride. It was proof that his Isa was still in there, buried, but in there. “I think you’ll get a kick out of this; this cabin was built in the 10th century by the daughter of a viking who had travelled to the New World to escape the plague.”

“Really?” Her eyes grew big as saucers before looking around, really looking around. It was beautiful. “But what’s with the tree?”

“It reminded her of her beloved and she decided to make it the center of her home, that way, he was always close even though he was off trotting around the world.”

The story sounded familiar, but she couldn’t remember where she had read about it. “She built this by herself? What was she? Superwoman?”

“A vampire.”

“Oh. Yeah, that makes sense, I suppose.”

“You don’t believe me,” Kol said with a pout. “Why not?”

“Well she’d have to have been a Cold One, then. All the Volturi leaders were born like… a millennium and a half before Christ. They’re the oldest vampires that ever roamed the planet, perhaps there are even older vampires than that because they’d have to be turned and so forth.”

“She wasn’t a Cold One,” he said, not amused.

“Touchy subject?”

“Not at all, darling,” he said with a wink and got to his feet. He needed to create some distance between himself and this Bella. He didn’t like her. “She wasn’t a Cold One. In fact, she was the first sired vampire after a powerful witch cast an immortality spell on her children to protect them from harm. Granted, it happened by accident because she and one of those children were as good as betrothed to each other and they drank a little of each other’s blood whenever one went away for a very long time. She died in a fire and turned. Then she waited for hundred and hundreds of years for her beloved, waiting for him to return, but he never did because he didn’t know that she was still waiting for him.”

“I think I saw that movie once,” Bella said with a yawn. “Or was it a book? I don’t know.”

“Get some rest.” Yes, rest, he added in thought. Before I snap your neck. When she laid down and drifted off into a light slumber, he quietly left the cabin and handed Damon the dishes as he was still waiting outside. “I need to kill something.”

~o.O.o~

Mystic Falls, June 13th, 2013

She had woken up a few times during the night, and she had been afraid that Kol would be watching her, like Edward had done in the beginning of their relationship, but he was sleeping on the big stone slab and it didn’t look too comfortable. She was surprised that he was sleeping, really. To her knowledge, vampires didn’t sleep.

Bella quietly made her way out of bed and stumbled in the dark. She was grateful for the tree at that moment, as she fell into it instead of face planting on the floor. “Whoops,” she whispered. “Sorry!” What was she? Drunk? She was surprised when her head got filled with images, vibrations. A voice, even.

Jasper had told her to listen to the trees, and he’d been silly, but was this really a tree talking to her? Instead of withdrawing her hands, she kept them on the trunk, trying to figure out how it worked. Apparently, the tree was hyperactive, a wave of emotion and feelings coming over her and thoughts. Words.

Isa is home. Isa is home. Happiness. Joy. Isa is home. Don’t leave again, Isa. We need you to get better, don’t leave. Remember. Remember. Isa is home. There were flashes of her – was it her? – in various ages in time, running between the trees with a big smile on her face. Dancing underneath a tree shedding its leaves in Autumn.

Stumbling backwards back onto the bed, she stared at the tree in confusion. She was crazy. That was it. Better yet, she was dreaming. Yes, she was still dreaming and to deal with what happened in Forks, she dreamt that the tree spoke to her.

“What’s going on?” Kol muttered as he opened his eyes and looked at her. Oh, he knew what was going on, or he hoped he know. If his namesake could help him out with Isa, then he was all for it. Even though it still sounded ridiculous.

“Nothing. I need to pee, where’s the bathroom?”

“Outside in the bushes.”

“No.”

“Yes. Or there’s a bucket just outside.”

“Never heard of running water?”

“I have, actually. There’s a river not too far from here.”

Bella huffed as she crawled back under the blankets. “Pass. I don’t have to go that bad.”

He couldn’t contain his laughter. “Oh, that is just precious,” he sat up as he was nearly choking. “Oh, so precious. I should write that down, you’re going to find this amusing later.”

“It’s not funny,” Bella muttered. “I get it that living in the middle of nowhere is safe and all, but no running water?”

“The river is quite nice this time of year. I’ll take you to it later so you can take a dip and clean yourself up. I’ll have my friend bring over some clothes you’ll fit.”

It was quiet for a while and still disturbed by what had happened when she had touched the tree, she sat up again. “I know this is going to sound crazy, and you might think that I’m breaking or whatever but the tree spoke to me. Or at least I think it did. Maybe you should let Jasper know and have him assess the notion of me thinking that the tree spoke to me.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s a tree! Who talks to trees? You? Can you hear it?”

“No, but it’s quite normal in your case.”

Her head snapped to him. “What do you mean? You don’t know me.”

“No, I don’t know you. But I do know the other you. I’ve already said too much, go back to sleep.”

“No.” Frustrated by the lack of light, she got out of the bed and made her way over to Kol and sat down next to him. “You’re going to tell me what’s going on. Right now.”

“Or what?” While he was glad that the meal laced with more blood that she’d gotten over the last few days had kicked in and done her some good, right now he preferred the weaker version of this Bella. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go.

“I’m going to keep asking until you break,” she threatened. “Or pee all over you, depending on how long it takes.”

“It’s a long story.”

“Well, I’m awake, you’re awake, so tell me the story.”

He let out a growl and reached for the bottle of bourbon that he had placed next to the stone and screwed off the lid before taking a large gulp. He then handed it to Bella and she did the same. “That story I was telling you earlier, about the family who was turned immortal? It’s true. And I know that because it was my mother who cast the spell, turning my siblings and I into vampires. This cabin? Belongs to my fiancé.”

“Okay…” Bella said slowly, taking another sip before handing the bottle back to him.

“And the part of not knowing that I had turned her, is true too. She spent a thousand years all by herself, with the trees, saving people, helping them. Whenever she could, whenever the trees told her she had to,” he continued as he took another swig. “And at first, after our reunion, I thought it was endearing that she believed that she could talk to nature. That she was able to heal broken trees, or asked the animals for their permission to feed on them. Then, it got annoying and I tried cutting her off. We travelled across the world for a while, until a couple of months ago when we helped out my brother in New Orleans. I was an idiot and pushed her away. She came back here.”

“Why?”

“Because this is her home. All of her memories are here. The trees are her family and her entire story is written down. I needed some time to come to my senses and eventually found her here. We talked things over and then I proposed.” Sighing, Kol ran a hand through his hair as he took another drink. “I left her for only a moment to go and get some blood and when I returned, she was gone. Kidnapped.”

She didn’t know what to say as she looked at him. “I am so sorry, I can’t imagine what you must be going through. What’s your fiancé like?”

“She’s the most kindest, loving and prettiest person on this Earth. I don’t deserve her, not one bit, but she’s so forgiving. Her heart is so open and I’ve done some nasty things to her, or in my life, and she doesn’t care. I didn’t know I sired her, she doesn’t care. I didn’t know that I had a hand in her death that caused her to turn, she said it was alright. After we fought and I returned to her, she said that while she was cross with me, she forgave me, because she was at fault too. But she wasn’t. Not entirely. I should have known better. I have a big ego, you see. I thought I could fix her. Change her life so she could live inside my world, but I had to realize that it was me who needed to change.”

“She’s one lucky girl,” Bella smiled at him. “Why are you hanging out with me then?”

He nearly drowned himself in the rest of the bottle, quiet, as he contemplated his next move. Bella was still weak. He knew that it was their plan to have her remember on her own or wait until the vervain was out of her system, but she was weak. Weaker than when she slaughtered the church. He could easily overpower her when needed and he could keep her inside. Throw her into the cave system below if needed. The only entrance and exit were in the cabin. “Because I have to,” he eventually said, finishing the bottle. “Now, you had your story, go back to bed.”

“That wasn’t an answer.”

“Well, it’s what you’re going to have to accept,” Kol got to his feet, lifted Bella up and got her back onto the bed. “Later today we’re going to the river so you can clean yourself up. Not another peep.”

~o.O.o~

“How is she doing?” Damon asked as he stopped next to Kol, who kept an ear out for Bella. She was having a wash up at the river and even though he was close by, he wanted to give her some privacy.

“She’s lucky I didn’t snap her neck.”

“Does she remember what happened a few days ago?”

“Yes, although she thinks that it didn’t happen.”

“Good. Then we’re going to work her up so much that she’ll kill one of her trees again and snaps.”

“That’s the worst idea ever.”

“Seemed to work the last time,” Damon shrugged as he pushed a bag of clothes in Kol’s arms. “They’re Elena’s. I think it’ll fit.”

“Freya managed to figure out what herbs they used on her. It’s not just vervain, but it also prevents witches from getting inside Isa’s head,” Kol replied as he held the bag. “She doesn’t even want to make an attempt, afraid that she’ll do permanent harm.”

“She’s been off the drugs and vervain for two days. She’ll come back,” he replied, hopeful, as he watched Isa emerge from the river, still wearing her clothes that were now soaking wet. “Oh, change of clothes coming to the rescue!”

Bella saw Damon standing next to Kol. But if Damon was here, if he was real, then was what she experienced when he and Jasper were bickering also real? She felt the color drain from her face. That was ridiculous. Because if that was real, Ms. Salvatore from school had been correct and that while she thought she had imagined it, she had drank human blood from a blood bag. Because she’d be a vampire.

If all of that was real, and not a hallucination as Carlisle had told her, then that meant that she wasn’t Bella Swan. She was Isa. Kol’s fiancé. Which, explained a lot, but it wasn’t real. It simply couldn’t be real. She didn’t want to be a vampire, and if she had to believe Kol, Isa was an old vampire. No, this wasn’t happening. Nope.

“Oh, I know that look on her face,” Damon murmured. “She’s ready to bolt.”

Kol made his way over to her and wrapped his arms around the wet vampire. “No, she’s not.”

“Sire to the rescue! You know, if you had been around when she was turned, maybe on your way to control your impulses, you could have taught her!”

“You’re not helping, Damon.”

Bella struggled against Kol’s hold. “I have no idea what you’re doing, but let me go.”

“You’re not going to run?” Kol asked surprised.

“Why would I do that?” She ducked out from underneath his arms, snatched the bag from the ground and started to march back to the cabin. “My life is a crazy mess right now, if I’d run, I’d never figure out what’s real or not. And unless you want to see me naked, don’t come into the cabin until I say you can!”

“Oh!” Damon smirked, earning him being smacked on the head by Kol.

“Do not tempt me to tell you to go fuck yourself, Damon, it won’t be pretty,” he warned him as they followed Isa back to the cabin. “I’m only tolerating you for your kinship with my Isa and because she cares about you, but do not piss me off.”

“Hey, she offered.”

“No, that was a warning,” he countered as he stood in front of the door. “I appreciate all that you’re doing to help out, and you and I might seem friendly, but do not mistake that for something that it’s not. I will kill you if I have to.”

“Jealous much?” Damon huffed, crossing his arms over his chest and defiantly looked at Kol. “I don’t like her that way, and you know it.”

Bella opened the door and gently nudged Kol before pulling him inside. She then pointed at Damon. “Inside, now.”

Damon winced, she sounded much like a disapproving mother, but he knew that she couldn’t really hurt him, the little blood in the two meals he had prepared for her wasn’t enough to actually rip out his spleen… or was it? Isa was known for living on less potent blood. Oh, he was fucked. She was going to break his dick again, wasn’t she?

“Sit,” she ordered the both of them as she leaned against the tree trunk. Damon looked guilty and Kol looked amused. She didn’t feel amused, at all. “First of all, whose clothes are these?”

“Ah, my girlfriend’s,” Damon replied. “If you’d think that I’d go shopping clothes for you… sorry, I draw the line there.”

“Get a different detergent because it smells.”

“Noted.”

“And I know you,” she told Damon. “You were in the clearing with me and Jasper, when he tried to calm me down.”

“Yes, I was.”

Pushing herself away from the trunk, she started to pace around it. “Okay so… if you were there, and you’re now confirming it, that means that it actually happened or I’m currently hallucinating. So this is either real, or not real. But it’s so ridiculous that it can’t be real, so you’re not here, unless Kol sees you too, and he can, because he talked to you. You’re interacting with each other. You’re both not real then,” she tried to rationalize as she kept pacing. “But let’s say all of this is real, just for the sake of my sanity… all of this started with my teacher. Ms. Salvatore.”

“Not my wife or sister.”

“Shut up, I’m thinking,” she demanded as she continued what she was doing. “She called me Isa and gave me a blood bag to drink from because she said I was a vampire. But I hate blood. Yet, when I drank it, it tasted delicious, as if it was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time. The way it caressed my tongue, the way it went down my throat, it was heavenly. Silky, smooth… coppery yummyness.”

“Don’t make us thirsty, darling,” Kol swallowed hard as when she talked about blood going down her throat, she touched hers with her hand and it travelled down her torso and it looked hot.

“You’re thirsty?” Bella scoffed as she kept walking around. “I feel like I could devour an entire planet!”

“You do tend to get a little cranky when you’re hungry,” Damon piped up.

Ignoring Damon, she continued to follow her crazy train of thought. “So, if this is real, and I reacted to blood like that, then it’s true, I’m a vampire. And my name is Isa.” She then turned around to face Kol. “Your fiancé.”

“That’s correct.”

“So why don’t I remember all of this?”

“The Cullens took you away from me and fiddled about with vervain and other types of herbs to make you forget, according to Freya-”

“Who’s that?”

“My sister.”

“The history teacher?”

“She went with Damon’s last name in the hopes it sounded familiar to you and as not to raise any suspicion for the Cullens who went to class with you. It was your erratic behaviour that got us caught.” Kol told her as he watched her closely. “We nearly got you out too, and it seems that they somehow have managed to bury your true memories even further.”

“My buddy Peter, who’s also Jasper’s buddy Peter, told me they had a Volturi and another powerfully gifted Cold One dig into your brains. Lock your true self away. The only way to get free of that, at this moment, is for you to remember on your own. Break through the walls they put up,” Damon explained, surprised that things were going so well. They all had been afraid for a little Isa bomb-explosion. But maybe this was because she wasn’t remembering who she was, simply recounting what she was told.

“What’s the other option?”

“Wait until the herbs and vervain are completely out of your system and for one of us to go into your mind and pull you out,” Kol replied.

“Is there another option?”

“Yes, but it’s not preferable and I don’t want it to happen,” he snapped.

“Is it your choice, or mine?”

“Mine.”

“It’s my head! My life! My memories! Why should you be the one deciding what’s going to happen?” Bella shot at him as she continued her pacing. “The Cullens already controlled every single part of my life, so if this is reality, if what everything we’re discussing is real, then why would it be your choice?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Damon huffed and thumbed in Kol’s direction. “The idiot feels guilt about what he’s put you – Isa – through. The accidental turning, the events leading up to your death… Forgetting all about you, thinking you were dead for good, not raising you properly as a vampire… the works. And that’s something because Kol Mikaelson doesn’t do guilty. No, you know, he makes the last option his choice, because it’ll be painful for you. Very painful. Like using a sledgehammer to butter your toast. Witches would have to use so much power and force to break that head of yours open, that you’ll be in pain. And then it’s not even sure how much of you is going to survive. So, that’s why it’s his choice. As much as I disagree, it’s his choice, not yours.”

“Screw you both,” she spat.

“Although, I have to admit, I kinda like this version of you. It’s spunky,” Damon grinned.

She was quiet for a moment and shook her head. “Carlisle said that everything I was experiencing were unwanted side effects of the car accident. Hallucinations. Paranoia.”

“Darling, you weren’t in a car accident. And if you were, you would have survived with not a scratch on you. You’re a vampire.”

“Yeah, you’ve told me that and I remember the taste of blood. Carlisle said it could be a side effect, my brain playing tricks on me.”

“Go ask your tree to send you something to eat,” Kol told her with a small smile on his face. “You two spoke last night, do it again. Ask for food.”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“What are you in the mood for? Can’t ask for humans, but there’s plenty of deer.”

“Oh, rabbits. Stefan likes the bunnies,” Damon pointed out.

“No doubt you’ve eaten bears and wolves before,” Kol pointed to the tree. “Go on, I dare you. Amaze yourself.” He hoped that the tree would cooperate, that it saw that Isa wasn’t in her right mind. He knew that she never asked them for anything, but for her to believe what was going on was real, the tree had to deliver.

It felt ridiculous to have to rely on a bloody tree.

“You already think this is nuts, so be nuttier,” Damon dared her. “You went from super angry to super sad when you snapped a tree in half in Forks. It was as if the world ended.”

“You didn’t feel his pain,” she countered.

“Aha! You do remember!”

“Yeah, as a part of my hallucination. But fine,” she threw her hands in the air before walking to the tree and placed her hand against the trunk with a bored expression on her face as she looked at the men watching her with an eager look on their faces. “Nothing’s happening.”

She had done it earlier, why didn’t it work now? Was it because she was aggravated? She never had problems with her anger and those bloody trees. Kol was worried that the Cullens had ruined her for good, and if that was the case, he didn’t want this to be her new life. “I’ll go and get you something to snack on,” he muttered as he left the cabin. Elijah was the babysitter, Elijah was the one who could fix everything. Even Niklaus had more patience. He had promised better.

His Isa was stuck. Stuck in believing what she had been told. They had only found her after two and a half months; the other two weeks were guesswork, anticipating the Cullen’s next step, and he had been wanting to take her out of that house immediately. It was only because Freya told them that she’d be damaged beyond repair that they hadn’t done anything and now that she was here, going with the plan he had offered as the plan Freya and Nik had devised hadn’t worked, he hated it.

He dialled Nik on his phone. He needed to know his thoughts. He was probably going to suggest just to kill her, and that would be swell and all, but Kol really had feelings for Isa. Still had. He realized just how much when she was taken, it nearly ripped him apart and that had been a shock. But before his brother could answer, he hung up and headed back to the cabin. Short of killing her and leaving her to her own life, there was only one thing he could do.

He was simply going to keep snapping her neck until the herbs were completely out of her system. Then fix her. Bring her back.

Walking back into the cabin, ready to snap her neck – it was going to hurt him more than her, he stopped in his tracks when Bella had Damon in a vice-like grip and it looked painful. “Well, this is interesting.”

“A little help, please?” Damon said with a strangled voice. Not only had Bella her arms around his neck, her legs were around his torso and they were on the floor.

“She’s not supposed to be strong enough to subdue you yet, Damon, so whatever you did, you must have angered her.”

“He was flirting with me!” Bella cried out. “And then he said was going to take me below! In the nether regions of this cabin for story time!” She tightened her hold on him. “I’m not his for something like that!”

Kol casually leaned against the tree stump with his arms crossed over each other. Just as he had lost hope, there was a glimmer of his little ray of sunshine. “That is naughty. Go on then, snap his neck.”

“I am trying, but he is stronger!”

“Not for long, darling,” he reached over and snapped Damon’s neck, the vampire went limp in Bella’s arms in an instant and she let go of him. “Well done,” he said appreciatively before removing the rug and pointed at the hole. “Would you like to join me downstairs? There are some stories down there that I wish for you to see.”

“No,” she got to her feet and dusted herself off. “I’m hungry.”

“Well, you just killed the cook.”

She looked around the cabin and sighed. “Very well. Get us a chicken or a fish or whatever and I’ll cook us something,” she said as she walked to the little cupboard, revealing a large pot and some ingredients in there. “I’ll get the fire going.” When she looked over her shoulder to look at him, she smirked. “Go on, viking boy, do your job,” she teased as she tossed some things in the pot and headed outside.

He refrained from kissing her senseless and quickly caught them some fish – chickens were too messy and there were large trouts in the river and was back just in time to see her come back with some water in a different pot and starting the fire. “I’ll get you a blood bag from Damon’s house, if you want.”

“No, it’s fine,” she sighed as she leaned against a boulder and started to filet the fish. “I’m insufferable and moody and if I was at full strength, I would have killed him so… let’s not do that until the real me surfaces.”

“So you believe the story then?”

“Eh,” she said with a shrug. “My life was crazy as it was, entertaining this possibility could lead to sanity. Or not. And if not, then it’s fine anyway.” She reached for some kind of rack and placed it above the fire and placed the now gutted fish on them. She then placed the pot next to the fish on the coals and started to add water and other things she brought from the cabin.

Kol had watched her eagerly, she cleaned the fish on vampire speed and he believed that she didn’t even realise she was doing it, and as he watched her work, he could see his Isa. All those years ago, cooking him a meal. And she was doing it now, still the same way. He got out his phone and started to film her. “Darling, I’d like to make my brothers jealous, could you tell me what you’re making for dinner?”

She removed the rack from the fire and stirred the large pot. “Jealous? Why?”

“Just entertain the idea of making them jealous. What are you making?”

“Kornmjölsgröt with trout. It’s the best I can do on short notice,” it rolled off her tongue as if it was completely normal. She then looked up to Kol with a smile, as he was still filming. “Or, we could have gone to the golden arches.”

“Oh no, I want this. Definitely this. The smell is absolutely amazing. It’s so good, I can almost taste it without actually tasting it.”

She removed the skin from the fish and started to tear it apart before relaxing against her boulder and grinned. “I think I know some Scandinavian.”

“Yes, you do.”

“Kornmjölsgröt. Grain flour meal. Porridge.”

“If you call it Fish Porridge, it doesn’t sound too good,” he sent the video to his family and waited in glee. There was no doubt that they’d want a taste of this and it took a while to get from New Orleans to Mystic Falls. By the time they’d arrive, it would all be long gone.

“It’s not authentic, I had to substitute stuff because a thousand years is a long time, but I have my own little garden not far from here where there’s some herbs and whatnot,” she said as she watched Kol and realized what she had said and what she was doing. “Fuck me, it’s real, isn’t it? I’m not 18, I’m a thousand year old vampire! And I was kidnapped!”

“Yes,” he replied with a nod and then smirked when he saw the reactions of his siblings. “Niklaus says to save him some of the food when we’re done,” he started typing. “I just replied ‘not a chance’.”

“Is he coming? Because if so, we need more fish.”

“No, he’s not,” Kol snickered. “Elijah’s envious and wishes that there were more people around who could cook like they used to in our time as humans because even though times changed, he still longs for- oh bugger, he’s being far too elaborate again. Boring. Rebekah wants you to feed as you look terrible. That’s not nice, I think you look pretty, no matter how you look.”

“I’m not going to drink blood, Kol. Not until I know what I’m doing. Not until I understand what I can do.”

“I know, darling, and that’s fine. A drop or two would keep you from desiccating, no need for more just yet.”

“When will Damon wake up?”

“In a while,” Kol sat down next to her and watched the fire. “Don’t feel guilty about me snapping his neck. I like doing it. In fact, I might do it again if he wakes up.”

“Only when he’s being obnoxious.”

He huffed as a response. “He doesn’t have an off-switch.”

~o.O.o~

Mystic Falls, June 15th 2013

He hadn’t been able to resist to snap her neck a few times over the course of the previous day. Mainly because she was – as she had stated earlier – quite moody and testing his patience. But when he didn’t snap her neck, she was usually not-Bella but not Isa either. Yet, he didn’t mind her company.

He was surprised when he woke up, that she had joined him on the concrete slab of stone he’d been sleeping on for the last few days and had tucked herself underneath his arm. And now he didn’t dare to move. She was so soundly asleep and the smell of her soothed him so much, that he didn’t want to burst his own bubble when he had to deal with his not-fiancé.

He had nudged her mind a little, mostly because he was afraid that he wasn’t going to do it properly. Despite being centuries old, he didn’t have the experience his brothers had. Granted, he spent almost 500 years travelling the earth, but he never had to do something like this before. And he was afraid that he was going to harm her. He had nudged her mind, simply to see if the herbs had worn off and the vervain out of her system and much to his relief, there wasn’t a trace left.

Now all he needed was to bring her home.

And maybe that was best while she was still asleep.

He cursed himself as he shifted, just a little, and tucked her hair behind her ear before placing his hand on the side of her head. They were already in full bodily contact and he liked it that way. It meant a stronger connection, a bigger pull. Almost like gravity. Relaxing himself, shaking off his anxiety, he allowed himself to be sucked into her head and found it clean.

Niklaus had said that it could be messy. That it was going to be hard to find Isa in the whirling thoughts inside her head, but it was absolutely clean. There were boxes everywhere, taped shut. Doors leading to wherever and it felt a little overwhelming. And underwhelming. Was this it? Was he going to have to look through every box, behind every door, to find her? How disappointing.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Bella emerged from the shadows. Or was it someone else? Freya had warned him about some sort of security measure against intrusions and that in Isa’s mind, they would be equals. He wouldn’t be able to rely on his vampire strength, only his strength of will and he was determined to get her back. The spell, however, would be determined to keep everything behind lock and key.

“I know I’m not,” he replied as he headed for the boxes and started to look at the labels. “But I’m here anyway.” The boxes were pieces of Bella that Isa had already shred over the last few days.

“It’s trash day, they’ll be collected later,” she said as she pointed at the boxes. “You need to get out.”

“Not until I found what I came for,” he said and as he walked towards the doors, they seemed to be further and further away. Angrily, he turned around to face her. “You need to stop that.”

“Or else?”

“I’ll use brute force.”

Bella, Isa, whoever it was, snorted. “As if, you’re too concerned in trying not to harm your beloved Isa. What did you want to do? Compel her? How? She’s not here. There’s nothing here. Have a witch use a sledgehammer and break down every door? Risking Isa’s mind?”

“If I have to.” Kol turned around again and continued to march to the doors, who yet again started to move away from him. “But I’m hoping it won’t come to that.” He continued to walk for what seemed hours, the girl behind him calling him things such as stupid, incredulous, weak, pathetic, and he ignored it all. In fact, it only made him more determined to find his Isa.

“Why do you care?”

“Because she’s my responsibility.”

“Not good enough. Tell me why you want Isa back so much and I might consider you taking her, because sooner or later, she’ll find her way back anyway and I won’t be able to stop it. So, try again. Why do you care?”

He stopped and faced her again. “Because she’s my responsibility. I made her the way she is. It’s my fault and I need to make things right. I’ve left her alone for long enough, and I am not going to do it again. The months that we were parted, hurt, and I do not wish that feeling upon anybody. She’s been on her own for over a thousand years, waiting, for me. I don’t deserve her, I know I don’t. Getting her out of her own mind is the least that I can do.”

She thought for a moment and shook her head. “No, still not good enough.”

“What do you want to hear?” He almost yelled at the image. “That I need her? Because I do, and not for pure selfish reasons like as long as she’s still around that my brother won’t lock me away again. No, I need her. She makes me a better person. Balances me out. Makes me see the world differently and shows me that not everything has to be so bloody complicated. Asking her to marry me was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I nearly died. Me and my gorgeous face. But you know what? She’s more gorgeous, she’s beautiful inside and out, even when she talks to her trees. To nature. I love her, of course I want to save her. I would be a prick if I didn’t.”

“You still sound like a selfish brat to me, you Originals are all the same. Me, me, me. Sure, you care for people. You try to help them, but to what end? Only to better yourself. Tell me why you care so much for her survival. Bella’s the better template, isn’t she? More whole.”

“Bella’s broken thanks to whatever they’ve done to Isa. Bella isn’t a real person. Isa is. All her memories, all her experiences, they’re worth something. They’re real. I come to retrieve Isa because she doesn’t deserve this. Not at all. She’s the sweetest, kindest person on this Earth and I’ll be damned if I don’t do what’s right in getting her back. So, hand her over.”

The image shrugged. “Very well. You want to know why the Cullens took her?”

“Yes, please.”

“There’s a war going on between the Original sire lines. The Volturi wanted to see if they could mess with the war by inserting a trojan horse that would cause a guaranteed destruction of all vampires created by an Original. Global domination and all that. But they failed. Isa’s too strong willed and Bella was indeed, only a template. It’s uncertain if they’ll try again. Perhaps they’ll get physically involved. Be wary. Don’t trust anything, question everything when it comes to this war. Isa is one of a kind. Take care of her, her gift might be your salvation,” the image shuddered and winked out before all the doors opened and he was enveloped by every memory, every thought, his Isa had had, and he could now understand the mess that Niklaus had described.

Kol quickly exited her mind and smiled proudly at himself. He had done it. He had released his Isa. He wasn’t quite sure if he had to believe all that nonsense about a war between the sire lines, but then again, there were certain lines of his siblings line that were just as conniving as the three of them were. If there was a war going on, Nik, Elijah and Rebekah had to brace themselves.

Oh, he was so lucky that he only had Isa to worry about.

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