Author Note: This chapter has been revised and bits added to it as of 07 Feb, 2016.
Driving along the main road into Mystic Falls, Bella stared out the window of the rental van that Charlie got that carried their essential belongings that they packed up for their move. A few months after she had the mental breakdown from the Cullens’ departure, he sat her down for a long discussion and told her that they would be moving away from the area. Hopefully, to somewhere where she wouldn’t have so many memories and could heal.
She had always believed their family was from Washington state for generations, but it turned out that shortly after high school, Charlie and Renee actually took off from Virginia. As far away from their families as possible. Neither of them believed their local legends and the stories that were told to them and chose to stay out of it. As he told her briefly about some of the histories, and his mockery of them, Bella remained quiet about the references to vampires, werewolves, and witches alike, that the founding families, like theirs were, once hunted.
She didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was all true and very much real, but humans had no real defense against vampires, if they wanted to kill you. At least the kind that she was aware of. The closer they reached the town of Mystic Falls, Bella could feel something changing, almost shift inside her. Looking out the window, she watched the buildings and people walking on the street as they passed by. Bella could see them as they were, but she also saw everything as if it were another time, as if it were nearly a century or more ago. Like an overlay of an image, imprinted on another.
Her eyes met with one young man as he stood with two girls outside a restaurant and she felt something of familiarity with him that she couldn’t place but she also knew she never saw him in this life. She saw him standing there staring at her in period dress, perfectly poised with a girl that was identical to the one that was with him now. Except the girl in the period gown had a cold, calculating scowl on her face as she clung to the boy’s arm while the modern girl looked on curiously as her friend and he exchanged a few words.
Shaking her head from the tricks her imagination was playing with her, Bella turned back to looking around while Charlie quietly turned through the sleepy streets that he once grew up on. “Here it is Bells. The old Swan manor. I know it’s more than what we’re used to back in Forks, but it’s been in the family for generations. I’m actually surprised that it’s still in livable condition,” he muttered as he stared at the building as the two climbed out of the moving van.
She looked at the house in shock as she seemed to know it from her dreams she’d had over the previous nights since she learned of their moving to Mystic Falls. Taking a few steps up closer to the old, wrought iron gate, her hands gripped the bars as her eyes fell down to the shrubs that wrapped around just below the large porch that ended at the side of the house where a section of the yard disappeared around the house. Her mind pictured a tall, handsome man with dark hair and an impish smile on his lips step around, as if he had been hiding, presenting a single orchid in his hand before the image disappeared.
“What the hell is up with this place,” she murmured to herself as her dad came up behind her and slapped a hand on her back.
“Welcome home. Come on. Let’s get the windows open and the place aired out while we start getting the stuff inside,” Charlie smiled as he pushed on ahead of her, leaving her at the sidewalk, unknowingly in a stunned state.
Bella had just finished looking around the house and opening what windows that she could, surprised at how well the place was maintained. Charlie explained to her about the Founding Families Council and some of their duties that he recalled probably having something to do with the house and everything being so good, especially after he notified them about their coming to live there again.
After choosing her room and making sure that it didn’t have a tree that was easily accessible to her window, Bella was heading back downstairs when the doorbell rang. Sighing, she knew Charlie was somewhere in the basement and likely hadn’t heard a thing so she went to greet whomever it was. She blinked in surprise as she found the three faces from town that they had past that two she had the flashback vision of that she was trying to shake still.
Something in her, like a foggy memory of warning, told her to stay inside as she held the door open and behind it. Smiling at them, Bella met each of their eyes. “Hello,” she greeted with caution as she eyed them as curious as they looked back at her.
The guy, who seemed to stare at her like he was seeing a ghost, was slow to respond as he smiled while the girl beside him seemed to take charge. “Hi! We just wanted to welcome you to Mystic Falls! I’m Elena. I actually live the next block over if you need anything,” she smiled happily. She seemed nothing like the scowling creature of a woman in the scene Bella pictured, which confused her as she looked at her as she shook her hand.
“I’m Stefan and this is Bonnie,” the guy introduced, finally finding his voice. He held his hand out, but Bella couldn’t help but notice it didn’t cross my doorway the way Elena’s did. She looked down at it for a moment before slowly looking up at him and to the other girl, Bonnie. As she started to reach out to shake his hand, the scar from James’ bite began to tingle, even sting the closer she reached. Something it never done before, causing her to jerk back from him and look up at him suspiciously.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Bella said as politely as she could, feeling uncomfortable under their scrutiny. Her eyes shifted to Bonnie as she seemed to stare back at her intently, making her wonder who she was and what she wanted with her as well since she wasn’t in either of those flashbacks she just had – not that she was crediting them to anything other than hallucinating.
Elena looked from Bella and her reaction to her friends, frowning at them with her displeasure. “Ignore them,” she said. “A bunch of us are going to be at the Grill tonight. It’s really the only decent place in town to hang out. You should come join us.”
Stefan evidently wasn’t expecting her to invite her like that as he turned to look at her questioningly. After a moment he sighed reluctantly. “Yeah, it would be great. Elena’s brother and mine should be back in town by then. Damon’s always eager to meet new faces,” he said as he looked at her curiously again.
Bella’s head canted to the side as she looked back at him, seemingly lost for a moment, the blue eyed man with the orchid came to mind for an unknown reason. A blush started to grace her cheeks and shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t do well in crowds,” she said hesitantly, eying them.
“We can do something else, smaller. I promise. How about we have dinner at Stefan’s? What do you think? You think Damon can be back in time to make his sauce?” Elena asked, evidently excited for the guy’s brother to cook for them. Something about the girl’s enthusiasm for the man’s cooking, or perhaps just the sauce he made, had Bella amused as she suppressed a smile.
He hesitated but seemed more thoughtful on that idea. “Yeah, I’m sure that we can work something out there if you prefer that. I’m so sorry, we didn’t get your name. Elena can come pick you up before dinner if you want to join us. Have Jeremy bring some movies to choose from?”
Bella’s eyes jumped from each of them as she debated the invitation, drawing her bottom lip in between her teeth before answering. “Isabella, but I prefer Bella. Um, I have to ask Charlie – my dad… I’m sure he’ll be happy to let me go. I’ll be right back,” she said as she went down to ask for his permission.
Hesitating at the top of the stairs, that led to the basement, she was extremely reluctant to go further. While she had no problems in the past going into the cellar at their old house, or even going up against a bloodthirsty vampire; new emotions, fears, begun to creep into her being. “Dad?”
“Yeah, Bells? Come on down,” he called out, causing her to cuss inwardly. As she was about to step across the door, onto the top landing, she felt something like a cool breeze, or a breath across her back, causing her to turn quickly to look behind her.
Only finding nothing there. She hadn’t come across a trace of Cold Ones along their travels, thankfully. And the sunny climate of Virginia wasn’t particularly vampire friendly, so she could not help but wonder if she was truly going insane now. Believing things to be, that aren’t.
“Bella? Everything alright with you?” Charlie asked as he had come to the bottom of the stairs when she didn’t come down, finding her standing and looking out towards the kitchen still.
“Um, yeah, Dad. Actually,” she started, drawing in a deep breath, her eyes taking one last sweep of the area before turning to look to him. “A couple teenagers that we had passed coming into town figured out where we live and came over. They want to invite me over to join them and some of their friends for dinner tonight.”
He studied her for a moment, nodding slowly. “Sure. If you want to go, you can go. Just call if you want me to come get you. It’s nice that you meet some friendly people. Might do you some good.”
She swallowed, not wanting to rehash that argument with him about the Cullens. She already knew, and accepted that they weren’t good for her. Especially Edward. Though, she was more hurt by the actions of the rest of the family, save for a select few.
“Thanks, Dad,” she replied quietly, turning and heading back to the front door where she’d left her surprise visitors.
When she returned, the three had the same cautious smiles on their faces as she approached but still remained inside the house. “He said it’s okay. Just come find me whenever I guess,” Bella shrugged.
“Do you have a cell phone? I can call or text you when I’m on my way,” Elena suggested.
She shook her head. “No, I don’t. Not anymore. Don’t worry, I’ll be ready. There isn’t much to do around here anyway other than unpack what is left of my clothes that I didn’t leave behind.”
“Okay then,” Elena replied, wishing to understand her, but seeing that the girl was clearly hurting over something because her eyes held a troubled look that she was all too familiar with in someone else. “I’ll see you later.”
“See you later,” Bella said to them, waving as she closed the door. Leaning against it, she bit her lip, wondering what the hell she just got herself into.
After their visitors left, Bella continued on with her afternoon, moving in and unpacking. Every now and then, Charlie’s cell phone would ring and she would know it was Billy calling, or Jacob wanting to talk to her but she refused to talk to him now that he suddenly felt it was okay to speak with her after he was the one that stopped in the first place.
While she still had a grudge against him, it wasn’t nearly as deep as the one against the Cullens. Every time she thought about them, she was just filled with so much anger that she felt like she might explode. She knew it was unhealthy and she did everything she could to control it which was why she was working so hard to put as much energy as she could into getting as much done with moving in.
Her room was much larger than any other she had previously and she knew it was take time to collect things to fill up the space. If she made friends here, she was sure she’d eventually be dragged to the mall at some point, something she wasn’t particularly looking forward to. So when she went to open a box that she didn’t recall packing, that had her father’s handwriting on it labeling it for her room, she was filled with a familiar rage when she saw its contents.
“Dad?!” Bella yelled out before she went over to her door, crossing her arms angrily as she glared at him. He poked his head out of his own room and she knew she should have eased up but she was too enraged at that point.
“Yeah Bells?” he asked cautiously as he saw her expression.
“Where did that box come from? I know I didn’t pack it. I purposely left that stuff behind. I didn’t want it,” she sneered, glaring back at the box in her room. She knew he knew exactly what box she was speaking of when his eyes flashed and the guilt filled his face.
“Sorry Bella. I didn’t know. I thought it might have been overlooked and thought I would help. We’ll just donate it,” he said softly.
Bella dismissed him, “Normally I’d be all for that, but no. I want it burned.” She turned back into her room, heading for the box and considered her options as she remembered every miserable day playing Bella Barbie for Alice. The supposed visions she had of her enjoying herself and liking the clothes was foolish. Seeing the lie for what it truly was now only stirred up more animosity within her against the coven.
Dragging the box over to the window, she had to fight with all her human strength to get it open in the godforsaken, ancient house. When she finally had it up, she took a breather, leaning on the window sill, her fingers gripping the aged wood so tight to control her anger that her knuckles turned a deathly shade of white. Her eyes searched for something, nothing, in the late afternoon sun, knowing that their kind wouldn’t be around.
“See this Alice. This is what I think of your clothes,” she muttered as she seemed focused on nothing in particular before she turned and started throwing the clothing from the box out the window in fits.
As soon as she was done with that, it wasn’t enough into her desire for satisfaction against the vampire. She needed to take it further so she turned and flew down the stairs, her father, confused and concerned, on her heels, questioning what she was up to. Instead of answering him, she went straight to the back of their truck where she knew they had the spare gas can in case they ran out of gas during their drive across the country.
“Bella? What are you doing?” Charlie asked, but she could hear the underlying fear in his voice.
“Getting my revenge,” she answered, feeling more free than she had in months as she started to move over to the pile but stopped by the end of the truck, her heart beating wild in her chest. She could hear Edward and Alice screaming in her head that she was crazy, that this was wrong, but she no longer cared.
“Bella…There are other ways to deal with your anger with them,” Charlie said carefully.
“No. I think this way is much better. More therapeutic for me actually,” Bella said with a grin. Her thoughts were running wild at this point, completely ignoring the voices from the Cullens that were quickly fading as they were losing influence over her. “I think you were right that this town might be real good for a change for me Dad.”
She took a deep breath, allowing herself to cut another tie with that family, and went over to begin drowning the clothes with the gasoline before setting it on fire without a moment of hesitation or a blink of an eye to her decision. Charlie let her stay there in her silence, knowing she needed to grieve that part of her relationship of her life, but he couldn’t help to be concerned for her.
As soon as she felt she was alone and he was away, Bella let out a huff of irritation. She thought about Edward and his final words to her. She would do what he asked of her. She would move on, but she would be the bigger person for it. It would take time though, she knew. “Stupid, sparkling, idiotic vampires,” she mumbled under her breath. “One day I’ll show you who’s no good for me…”
After all that, Bella felt just worn out and really wanted to crawl into bed for a long nap. As she returned to her room, she stopped short as she saw a woman in period clothing like she did earlier that day. “What the fuck?” she asked herself.
She looked just like Elena, the girl that invited her to join them for dinner but this one had nothing but hate in her eyes making Bella stand still in fear as she watched the image over her circle around her like a whisper of a memory before the image turned and ran out the window.
Breaking out of the hold it had her under, she ran after it, to the window as she looked out to see if maybe she could see something, but there was nothing around as the sun was setting. She didn’t have time to think about it as Charlie called up to remind her that her new friends would likely be coming soon for her. “This town is seriously really fucked up,” she muttered to herself for like the millionth time that day.