Submission Heading: Sleep My Beauty
Non-Canon Awards; Twisted Fairy Tales
Pen Name: Kessafan
Genre: Romance, Drama
Word Count: 10,865
Pairing: Jasper/ Bella
Summary: Cursed as a child, will Bella’s true love find her before its too late?
Queen Renee smiled down at her beautiful daughter she held in her arms as she listened to her husband, King Charles organise the date of the princess’ christening.
“Don’t forget to invite all of the fairies, husband, they wish to bless our daughter.”
“Of course my dear, once written out, I’ll give them to you to make sure I haven’t missed anyone.”
The queen smiled at her husband before looking down once more to her daughter. “You are so beautiful… the most beautiful babe ever to be born.”
Hearing this, the king looked over to his wife. “The other day I was walking through the bazaar meeting some of the townsfolk and a traveller got my attention. He told me that he’d heard of the people talking about how beautiful our daughter is. When I said that yes, she indeed was beautiful, he nodded and said, ‘Bella’. I asked him what it meant and he said that the word ‘bella’ meant beautiful in his country.”
“Bella…” the queen sighed, “It’s perfect, husband.”
On the day of the christening, the whole town seemed to make their way in and around the castle’s chapel in hopes of seeing the new princess christened. The fairies and pixies of the surrounding woods flew in through the windows and fluttered around the royal family. They each smiled as they passed the small babe and went to wait patiently for the ceremony to begin.
“I waited for my invitation,” said a voice in front of the queen. “… but it never came.”
“Oh, Rosaline, I’m so sorry… I was sure your invitation was there.” The queen said. Rosaline smiled with a slow nod before flying away, but she knew she’d been forgotten and that was something that had never happened to her before. As the Queen of all Fae, she was much larger than normal fairies and pixies and she had always been the most beautiful of all creatures in the entire kingdom but looking at the new princess, she could easily see that she would grow into a beautiful woman and that just wouldn’t do. She was also not about to let her being snubbed from the christening go unpunished, she was going to have her revenge… and she knew just how to get it.
After the ceremony was complete and Princess Bella was named to the masses, the fairies and pixies flew past the babe one by one, giving out their blessings… When Rosaline passed however, she looked down at Bella and scowled. She gently trailed a fingertip down the baby’s cheek and whispered, “When you are seventeen, you will be injured and die!”
“Oh, no!” The queen cried, “Why Rosaline, why?”
“You forgot me, like I was nothing… but I am not… I am the most beautiful, not she. She will never be more beautiful than I and she will die before having a chance to really live.”
But as Rosaline spoke, a little dark haired pixie fairy named Alice, snuck over undetected, quickly chanting a magic spell that would change the curse that Rosaline had just put onto Bella.
Though cursed to die
because of jealousy and pride
You will sleep instead
In all hearts and minds
There you will lie
Till the kiss of true love finds
Rosaline, not hearing that her curse had been changed, laughed as she left the chapel. But hearing the people speak of her and what she’d just done brought her great enjoyment. “No-one will ever forget me now.”
As the years passed, the king and queen watched with heavy hearts as their only daughter grew. They smiled at every new milestone reached, laughed at all the funny things she did but at night… once she slept, Charles and Renee would watch over her and know they were one day closer to losing her. At every turn, people gushed at her beauty, proclaiming her as the most stunning girl ever born, and they were right. On occasion, Renee would see Rosaline watching Bella but she would cut her eyes to the queen and smile before flying away.
When Bella was just five years of age, she came across a spindle while walking the streets of Forkstone with her parents. She saw a peasant woman spinning the wool into a ball.
“Mother, what is that woman doing? I want to see…” Renee glanced in the direction her daughter was pulling her only to gasp in fright of what she was seeing… Fear pulled at her heart and she reached down to grab up her child. As Bella had grown, the castle had been cleared of everything sharp or dangerous; nothing was left to chance…
“You must never touch that, Bella… never! In fact, you are never to go near one. They are very dangerous, very sharp; promise me child, promise me…”
“Okay mother.” Bella whispered. After Queen Renee told her husband that she wished to return to the castle, Bella’s eye continued to watch the woman working her spindle in complete fascination but that would be last time she would see such a contraption.
As the princess grew, she often looked out of her parlour windows and watched the people below go about their lives… She would wish that she could go down there and talk to the many stall holders and see their wares up close. She often played a game as she watched them; she’d speak aloud a conversation she thought the people were having she watched, often finding herself laughing at her silly thoughts. There were times that she’d feel as if she was the one being watched but as her eyes roamed over the masses she never saw any of them look up.
Just once, she’d like for someone to look up…
For nearly the whole of Princess Bella’s seventeenth year, the King and Queen hovered over their daughter to ensure that she didn’t hurt herself. Three weeks before Bella was to see in her eighteenth year, a letter arrived for King Charles.
“What is it my love?” The Queen asked.
“We are to expect a visitor in three days, a Prince James of Volterra; he is wanting to speak of important matters.”
“Volterra? Isn’t that King Aro’s domain? What could he possibly wish to talk of?”
“Yes, Prince James is Aro’s son and if I had to guess, I would say he’s come to talk of a union between our two families.”
Although Queen Renee wasn’t too happy about the news, she knew that this day would come. Renee had been lucky as a princess and had known her husband for many years before they were wed. They’d fallen in love early and were eager to start their lives together. She’d hoped that her daughter would get the same chance but that had not been the case. With the threat of her early demise hanging over their daughters head, the royal couple had been overly protective of Bella and she’d been sheltered; especially in the last year.
“I’ll inform our daughter of the possibility in the morning; it’s only fair that she be forewarned.”
King Charles nodded slowly as he looked to the parchment in his hands. “I only hope that this Prince James is a better man than his father.”
At his words, Queen Renee felt a sense of dread fall over her.
When Queen Renee told her daughter of the upcoming visit of Prince James and what she and the king thought the reason of his visit would be about, Bella was unsure what to think. She’d known that one day a suitor would come calling but she thought she’d be a little older and also have the chance to get to know the man first. It seemed that this wouldn’t be the case after all.
A few days later as the royal family held court, they awaited the arrival of the visiting prince. Word had reached the King that Prince James had arrived and was currently being shown to the throne room and Bella felt more nervous than she could ever remember.
The doors opened and the soft murmuring quickly died down as everyone around them turned to see who was entering.
“Your Royal Highness, may I present, Prince James of Volterra.” The Court Herald called out, announcing the visitor. The man who walked forward was not who Bella had pictured in her mind. Prince James was everything she’d imagined a prince should look like… soft, shiny blonde hair, immaculately presented in the finest black silk clothing and shoes that shined within an inch of their lives… but he must have been twice Bella’s age.
Bella dropped her eyes to the floor before subtly turning to look at her mother. Queen Renee’s eyes were slightly wider than normal and Bella could clearly see shock on her face but that was quickly hidden before she turned to look at her daughter, obviously she didn’t know the Prince’s age either.
“King Charles, it is a pleasure to finally meet you. Thank you for your granting me your time.” The prince lowered his eyes and head in a bow of respect. “Queen Renee, I see that the tales of your beauty are well founded.”
“Why, thank you kind sir.” Renee replied politely. She was unsure why, but the man in front of her made her feel extremely uneasy. Then James turned to look upon her daughter.
“Princess…” James said before lowering he head. As much as he tried to hide it, Bella didn’t miss the way his eyes raked down her body; she had to stop herself from moving to hide behind her father’s throne. She did manage to nod her head back in greet though.
After the introductions, Bella’s father stood and made his way down the dais to stand in front of the younger man. At first, Charles was surprised at his age but then remembered just how much time had indeed passed since hearing of his birth. “I hope your father is in good health, it has been many years since I’ve seen him.”
“Yes, my father is indeed in good health, thank you; he sends his regards. Is there anywhere that we may speak in private, your majesty?”
“Yes, of course, follow me.”
Bella watched at the two men walked off to the door that lead to the eating parlour at the rear of the throne room. When she felt the soft touch of her mother’s hand on her shoulder, she turned. “He’s much older than I expected mother.”
“Yes, for some reason, I thought he was younger as well. Come my darling, we do not know of what the prince wishes to speak of, it may not be what we think.” Bella could only hope that her mother was right. When she’d thought of what her husband might look like in the last few years, Prince James was not the image that popped up in her mind. The queen and princess walked out of the throne room flanked by the royal guards and the many ladies in waiting and made their way to the morning reading room. They’d be summoned by the king later and hopefully let in on what the prince had come calling for.
It had been some hours since the king had gone off to talk to Prince James and Bella was getting rather nervous. She realised that she’d been reading the same page for some time, so she finally she took a deep breath and gave up on concentrating on the words in front of her. Gently, she shut the book and stood up from her seat to walk over to the large floor to ceiling window. “The gardens look lovely Mother.” She said.
“Yes, they are spectacular this year, aren’t they? We should take a walk later… maybe that will help relieve some of your tension?” Again Bella sighed before turning around to look at her mother.
“I know that father will decide on what is to come, but that man… he… I don’t think I like him very much Mother.”
Renee knew what her daughter meant, she didn’t like him either but Bella was correct, the king would be the one to decide if she was to marry the much older prince or not… She couldn’t help but hope that her mother would have some sway with her father and talk him out of accepting a proposal on her behalf. “Never fear daughter, your father loves you very much and I have faith that he’ll only do what he feels is best for you.” Before Bella could respond, the doors to the reading room opened and King Charles and Prince James walked in. Bella couldn’t tell if her father was upset or happy… and that worried her more than anything, normally he wore his heart on his sleeve.
“My love…” Renee said holding her hand out towards her husband. “We were beginning to worry that you’d got lost.”
“Never my love…” Charles said with a smile as he kissed the knuckles of his wife. “Prince James will be joining us for the next week before he has to make the journey back to his home. So, we will be hosting a party in his honour tonight.” Renee had expected that this would occur so she’d already instructed the servants to prepare as much as they could just in case.
“What are you reading, Princess?” James asked Bella. She’d forgotten that she still held the book she’d been reading earlier and looked down to find it clutched tightly against her chest.
“Oh, it’s The Odyssey.”
“Ah, Homer… ‘Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man.’” James quoted. Bella gave him a curious look. “Mmm, maybe you are not up to that part yet. I just spoke a line from the book.”
“Oh, I see… I only started this book yesterday and I’m afraid I haven’t got too far into it.”
“Do you find it interesting?”
Bella answered in the affirmative as she made her way over to the chaise longue chairs a few feet away. She could see her parents talking quietly on the other side of the room and wondered what they were speaking of; she could only hope that her fate hadn’t already been sealed.
The party that night went off without a hitch. Dignitaries, minor royals from neighbouring towns and the more affluent of the city came to be seen with the prince. Bella sat quietly all night and watched the people and proceedings, she also notice Prince James looking her way on numerous occasions throughout the night. When the dancing started, Bella knew she wouldn’t be able to avoid him anymore. Sure enough, he somehow monopolised her time.
The next four days went by slower than any previous four days had. Bella had found out from her mother that the Prince had indeed come to ask for her hand in marriage but her father wanted to wait and see how they got on before giving an answer so he asked the prince to stay for the week. Each day, Prince James walked with Bella around the castle gardens that her mother loved so much; the King and Queen following a polite distance away. While Bella had relaxed somewhat from the first time she met the prince, she still felt uncomfortable in his presence. On the times she tried to envision becoming his wife and leaving the castle with him, the image of what her life would be just wouldn’t come. At the end of the fifth day of the Prince’s visit, Bella and her mother watched as her father walked into his den followed closely by the prince.
“Father is going to give his blessing, isn’t he?” She asked her mother solemnly.
“I expect so. If it’s something that you object to wholeheartedly, tell me now and I’ll interrupt.”
As much as Bella wanted to say yes to her mother, she knew that it would probably happen anyway. And it wasn’t like there were a lot of princes in their part of the world. “No mother, I just wish…”
“What daughter, what do you wish?”
Bella took a deep breath and walked over to the large window that looked down over the bustling streets below. “I wish that my prince was someone of my choosing, someone I had a connection with… someone that takes my breath away.” Bella whispered as her eyes roamed. Suddenly, she saw an upturned face; a beautiful face, which belonged to the only person to have ever looked up at her from the streets below. She gasped as her hand came up against the cold glass.
“Bella?” Her mother called. “What is it?”
But before she could say a word, the beautiful stranger smiled and walked away, blending in with crowd of people. “No…” she whispered.
“What are you looking at child?” Renee asked from where she stood behind her daughter. Bella felt an unusual sense of loss; she couldn’t understand why she felt as though she’d lost something important when the stranger disappeared from her sight.
“I saw someone… he was looking up, at me.”
“Was it someone you know?”
“No, but… I felt like…”
“Like what? Bella, you’re worrying me.”
Bella looked away from the street below and to the concerned face of her mother. “It’s hard to put into words, mother. I’ve never seen that man before but I feel like I know him. But now I feel… empty… knowing I’ll never see him again.” Looking back to the bustling street, Bella searched the faces once more but her beautiful stranger was no longer there.
Unbeknownst to the queen and princess, they were being watched from the shadows of the streets below. This day wasn’t the first day that the pretty face had been upturned but it was the first day that the princess had noticed. A relieved yet knowing smile spread across the strangers face… “Fear not, Princess… you’ll see me again, sooner than you think.”
Two days later, Bella stood in her dressing room attended by her ladies in waiting.
“You look absolutely divine, Princess.” Jessy said as she helped Bella into her gown.
“Oh yes,” Lauren agreed, “positively divine. You will take everyone’s breath away this night, even that of your betrothed.”
Betrothed… Oh, how that word left a bad taste in Bella’s mouth. For the last two days, the only face that entered her mind when that word was uttered was that of the beautiful stranger she saw in the street. She wondered who he was, if he felt the same connection she had and if she’d ever see him again.
“Thank you.” Bella knew that she would have to show herself in a better mood once she made her way down to the grand ballroom in a couple of hours, even if she didn’t feel it. Tonight her father was announcing her betrothal to Prince James to the court and a huge night had been planned in celebration of the news.
Once finding herself standing in a small parlour off to the side of the grand ballroom, Bella tried to force a smile as Jessy and Lauren fussed around her. The door opened and her parents walked in followed by Prince James, she found it even harder to keep a somewhat passable smile on her face. This was not what she wanted… not at all.
“You look beautiful my sweet girl.” The king said as he took his daughter’s hand and kissed the soft silk covering her knuckles.
“Thank you, father.”
“Yes… absolutely divine.” James said softly. The look he was giving Bella made her shudder, and not in a good way, it was almost calculating. As her mother moved forward to hug her daughter, Bella thought James mumbled something to the effect of… ‘mouth-watering’…. But Bella was sure she misunderstood.
“Come now, the Court impatiently awaits.” King Charles intoned.
Her mother took her husbands offered arm and the moved towards the large, intricately carved wooden doors that lead into the ballroom. “Princess…” James murmured as he held his gloved hand out to her. With a soft nod of her head, she took the prince’s offered hand and together they walked behind her parents.
“Presenting, His Royal Highness, King Charles of Fawkes, son of King Geoffrey and Queen Helen of Fawkes.” The royal herald announced. “Her Royal Highness, Queen Renee of Fawkes, daughter of Prince Phillip and Princess Marie of Downey.”
As soon as Bella’s parents moved into the ballroom, she took a step forward herself. Again, the royal herald’s voice rang out.
“Presenting, His Royal Highness, Prince James of Volterra, son of King Aro and Queen Sulpicia of Volterra. Her Royal Highness, Princess Bella of Fawkes, Daughter of King Charles and Queen Renee of Fawkes.” Bella smiled at the herald as she walked past; he’d been around for as long as she could remember and had played with her many times as she grew. He was like a favoured uncle. Inside the massive expanse, decorations of large floral displays made from the royal gardens sat on every available surface. Hundreds of candles flickered in sconces placed on the walls, ceilings and tables. Tapestries depicting times of great importance lined the walls along with paintings of every royal to have lived within the walls of the castle. Fairies and Pixies that lived within and just beyond the castle walls fluttered about, their silvery wings reflecting the colors of everything around them. But it was the reams and reams of what looked like silk floating above her in the wooden rafters that were new. It was all very… otherworldly to the young Princess.
More than an hour had passed since Bella had walked into the grand ballroom and she played the part of the happy princess when a strange sensation washed over her. She looked around the room but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary but the feeling soon had her skin break out in gooseflesh… “Are you cold, Princess?” James asked.
“Oh… no, not at all, just had a strange feeling, that is all.”
James stared at her for a beat before his he turned from her and looked around the room himself. He was much taller than she, so when he stiffened slightly, she thought he’d seen something over the heads of the crowd that she couldn’t. He was about to say something when the trumpets played out signalling that it was time to eat. The Prince led her to the royal table that sat high on a raised platform at the end of the ballroom before taking a seat beside her.
The meal was lovely but Bella was unable to eat much of it for a couple of reasons. “Are you not feeling well daughter?” The Queen asked quietly.
“No, not really.” Between the nerves of the upcoming announcement, the unease she felt near the man who would be her husband, especially now that he seemed on edge and the constant hum of an unknown anticipation that crawled over her skin, Bella could only barely stand the smell in front of her let alone eat it… Before anything else could be said, the King stood from his place and signalled for a trumpeter to call for attention.
“Thank you all for coming on such short notice.” Bella’s father called out. “We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the betrothal of my daughter, the most beautiful princess to ever be born, Bella… Through the union of my daughter with Prince James, our two kingdoms will be forever strengthened.” Bella heard the words but she felt nothing but dread creep up her spine… “To the happy couple!”
The crowd erupted in cheer around the room, glasses were raised and music rang out but all Bella wished to do was run… Run as far as she could go. It was not long after that people all around started moving to the other end of the room for dancing. James stood and offered her his still gloved hand before leading her out to the dance floor.
Once everyone was in place, the band started up a new song. Bella curtsied and James bowed before moving around each other in a practiced dance. With each new partner, she smiled and thanked them for the congratulations but secretly, she was willing the band to hurry up and finish. With yet another curtsy, Bella lowered her eyes and waited until seeing new shoes in front of her before standing back up… but what met her was not what she was expecting.
“Good evening, Princess.”
“You!” Bella whispered. She couldn’t believe it… The beautiful stranger was standing in front of her.
“Yes, it is I… You look beautiful this eve, Princess.” He said with a smile. He knew she was beautiful, but being so close to her after all this time, to have her within arm’s reach; it took everything in him not to pull her close and kiss her plump lips. Her beauty astounded him.
“Oh…Thank you, kind Sir.” Bella’s steps faltered as she tried to speak, think and move to the music all at once; she was failing miserably at all three feats. “Who… Who are you?”
“I am Prince Jasper of Whitlockshire, Princess.” Jasper held up his hand and waited for Bella to raise her own. She gasped as their palms came together; even through the silk of her glove she felt the skin of her hand tingle and she felt an exceptionally strong desire to grab a hold and never let go.
“Jasper…” she whispered. If it weren’t for the fact that Jasper was watching Bella’s face intently, he may have missed hearing his name upon her lips for the first time altogether. But he didn’t miss it and the sound of it made him feel more alive than he’d felt in quite some time. “Who… Where do you…”
Jasper somehow tore his eyes away from the beauty in front of him and glanced over her shoulder. “I will answer all of you questions shortly, Princess, once this dance is over. I have waited for so long… a little longer won’t hurt.”
“I didn’t think I’d see you again. I felt…”
“Felt what, Princess?” He asked as they moved around one another.
“Anxious… I felt anxious when I lost you in the crowd. When I saw you looking up at me, I felt like I’d known you somehow or met you at some time before but had forgotten. I’ve never felt like that before.”
“Maybe in another time, we knew each other well?”
“Maybe…” She replied. “I like that idea. And I like the idea that we’ve found one another again.”
“I do too.” Jasper could hear the end of their dance routine coming up and he’d need to move on to the next lady. “I do not wish to move from your presence, my beauty, but I fear if I stay, I may be removed from your presence altogether and I most certainly do not wish for that to happen, so I will take my leave for now and ask to speak to you again soon?”
“Most definitely, Jasper.” Bella said as her cheeks bloomed in color. “I would love to speak to you some more this eve.”
Jasper curtsied and kissed the back of Bella’s gloved hand; his eyes never straying from her deep brown eyes. “Thank you for the dance, Princess.”
Bella gave a slight curtsy as she spoke. “Are you not going wish me congratulations, Sir?”
“No… For I hope with everything in me, that I can change your mind.”
Bella smiled as her heart fluttered with a feeling she couldn’t name. She wished with everything in her that it was her mind that needed changing. “It is not my mind you need to change, Sir.”
“Oh, but it is Princess… Just one word to your father is all it would take.” He turned his head to the left to see the King and Queen looking their way. “He only wants your happiness, are you happy, Princess?” With a gentle smile, Jasper moved onto the lady standing next to Bella. The sound of a throat clearing brought her attention back in front of her. Standing there was the son of the Viceroy’s of her father’s court.
“Beg my pardon, Lord Michael.”
“Tis not a problem, Princess. Congratulations on your betrothal, and may I say how beautiful you look this eve.”
“Why, thank you.” She glanced to her left and found Jasper staring back at her, slowly shaking his head. Her heart started beating faster, knowing he had probably heard Michael’s reference to her betrothal. If truth be told, she wanted nothing more than to go to her father and put a stop to it all… but she didn’t know if she dared. When Jasper smiled at her, she ducked her head and grinned; her cheeks flaming once again but this time in excitement. She looked to her right and found her father looking at her with a thoughtful expression. A beat later and he stood up and made his way to his daughter.
“Lord Michael,” the king greeted. “May I?” He said, indicating his wish to cut in.
“Of course, your majesty. Thank you for the dance, Princess.” Michael said before bowing and moving away.
“Father, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Bella asked. Her father was not usually one for dancing, much like she was really, but no-one ever questioned him…
“Just thought I’d come see what had my beautiful daughter blushing so exquisitely.” He said running the back of his fingers against the apple of her cheek. Without thought, Bella’s eyes cut to the handsome stranger she now knew was named, Jasper, but he was busy talking and dancing with Lady Jessica beside her.
“Tis nothing, father, but I was wondering… if maybe I could… perhaps…” Her sentence cut off with nerves.
“Bella darling…” Charles said as he took her chin in his fingers and raised her face to look at him. “What is it my beauty?” Just then, the music stopped and people started to mill about. “I’ll tell you what, come find me in about ten minutes in the receiving room over there where we can speak privately; it is much too noisy here. I just need to have a quick word with Bishop Webber.”
Bella nodded and her father gave a quick kiss to her forehead before moving off. She took a few steps towards her mother when she felt someone touch her elbow. Looking up, she found James looking down at her. “Come for a walk with me, Princess?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Sir James, my father is expecting me.”
“It won’t take long, I promise; just out on the balcony?”
Bella took a deep breath looking in the direction her father went and saw him talking to the bishop. “Just a few minutes then.”
“But of course.” James led Bella out onto the large balcony that led down to the castle gardens. It was dark but with all of the lanterns lit along the paved pathways; it was easy to see the many blooming plants below. “It’s come to my attention that I have been remiss in thanking you for accepting my proposal of marriage.”
“But I have not accepted, Sir, for you have never proposed to me. I was only told that this was happening.”
James stood shocked. He blinked as his mind took in the young Princess’s words. Never had anyone spoken to him in such a way. “Oh, well…” But then he smiled. “Somehow I feel as though I’m lucky that I never asked then. Why is it that I get the feeling that if I had asked you personally, your answer would have been in the negative?”
“Probably because you are an intelligent man, Prince James.”
James couldn’t help but laugh as he thought of how perfect she would become once she was his in every way. He liked a bit of fire in his women. Suddenly, he grabbed her hand and pulled her close to his body. “James! “Bella gasped out. “Please unhand me.”
“Oh Princess… I’m about to do more than handle you.” Bella struggled as the much older and much larger Prince held her tightly against him; and he was amazingly strong Bella thought. He nuzzled his face in the crook of her neck, breathing in large lungful’s of her scent. Then she felt his lips against her skin.
“No… please, do not do this.” Bella cried out.
“You heard the lady, James. Let her go, now!” Bella glanced to her right as much as she could when she heard the angry words beside her. She was ecstatic to see Jasper standing there but his face was full of rage… Rage that was so clearly seen upon his handsome face yet made her feel so utterly safe.
“This does not concern you, Jasper.” James sneered.
When Jasper spoke again, the calmness on his face belied the ferocity in his voice. “On the contrary, James, she’s my mate.” The words confused Bella, she was unsure of what he meant. James turned towards him and growled. “And you know the repercussions of harming another’s mate. Let her go, now.”
You lie. James growled as his grip on Bella tightened. She is mine, father made it so. Everyone knew of Jasper’s mind reading abilities, so James didn’t waste time in speaking aloud.
Bella heard another low growl and let out a whimper, both from the sound and the hurt she was now experiencing. In the blink of an eye, Jasper disappeared and Bella was being jumbled around between beings she couldn’t see. Suddenly, a force like nothing she’d felt before slammed into her, forcing her into a crumpled heap on the cold floor of the balcony, pain radiated throughout her body.
Jasper’s rage seeing his mate in the steely grip of the vampire prince was more than he could handle and the thoughts going through James’ mind, too horrible to endure. His attack was instinctual; he didn’t even have to think. His hands had grasped at whatever he could get a hold of and his teeth snapped when his enemy got within reach. All he wanted to do was rip the other vampire apart.
“AAHHHH!” She screamed, the sound braking Jasper out of his fury. Instinct to protect his mate had Jasper moving to her side before he’d even had the thought to do so.
“Burning… why am I burning…?”
“No…” Jasper whispered. A quick search showed him his worst nightmare. His mate, his beautiful, gentle mate had been bitten. Jasper’s keen hearing alerted him to the fact that people had heard the commotion and were now heading their way. He looked up and growled… “Leave now; I’ll make your excuses as to why you couldn’t go through with this betrothal.”
This was the plan all along, Jasper, why would I leave now?
“She’s my mate, remember. You’ve broken one of our most sacred laws.”
What gives you that idea, Jasper? It’s not my venom burning through her system. James said through his thoughts. Jasper turned back to his beautiful Bella and breathed in deeply… Sure enough, it was his scent that emanated from the bite and it was only getting stronger as his venom made its way throughout her body…
“Jasper, what’s happening?” Bella asked, pain evident in her soft voice.
“Shhh, my love.” He whispered as he stroked her beautiful hair. “I’m so sorry; it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Sleep my beauty, when you awaken everything will be better, I promise.”
Under his breath, in a volume too fast and too low for human ears, Jasper spoke again, only this time it was directed at James. “It may be my venom, but she’s my mate so I’ll suffer no consequences. But you were the one who put her in harm’s way to begin with; you were the one who tried to bite her this eve, even when you knew I was here. And you’re not a stupid vampire, James. You would have known I was here for a reason and not just for the company, but still you tried. I won’t tell you again… leave, or your days will be numbered.”
James’ eyes narrowed on Jasper as he held Bella in his arms. Then he was gone.
Movement above him caught Jasper’s eye. “She will sleep now….” Alice said sadly. “… as she was cursed to do.”
“Yes, but only for three days. You know she cannot stay here now, don’t you?” Alice nodded her head as she watched Jasper thinking. “Can you make it so that everyone sees that she hit her head?”
“Yes, but I’ll need some help…” Alice said no more as she started smiling…
“You called my love?” Peter asked as he appeared with a smile. He reached out and gently cupped his mate’s cheek in the palm of his hand. They were quickly joined by the most gentle pixie of them all, Angela.
“Peter…you always know just when I need you the most.” Alice smiled back to the love of her life before explaining what needed to be done. As the three pixies fluttered around Bella’s head, their vision spell was cast. To all humans here this night, they would see a large gash on her forehead. “Do not tell them that James did this or the king will declare war on Volterra, and you know he’d never win. Tell them he brought her out here to tell her that he couldn’t go through with the betrothal and then left. Tell them that when she got over the shock, she tried to run after him and tripped; hitting her head against the balcony rail.”
Just then the balcony doors opened behind them and Jasper lifted Bella in his arms as he stood up. As he turned to face everyone, cries of shock were quickly drowned out by yelling. “What is going on here?” Jasper heard the King Charles call out.
“It’s the Princess, Sire.” A young woman cried.
“Bella? What’s wrong with Bella?” Queen Renee asked moments before breaking through the crowd. As soon as her eyes landed on her daughter, she bellowed out in anguish as she ran forward. “NO! No… no, please no…”
“What have you done?” The king roared.
“It was not him, your majesty.” Alice said as she flew around Bella’s body. “It was naught but an accident.”
The king looked up from his daughter’s bleeding head into the eyes of the man holding her. “Who are you?”
“I am Prince Jasper of Whitlockshire, your Majesty. I arrived two days ago to speak with you only to find your home in preparations for this… soiree. Could we perhaps talk more once we have your daughter seen to, she hit her head quite hard I’m afraid.”
“Oh yes… yes of course, this way.” Renee said without taking her eyes off her unconscious daughter. The people of the court parted ways as the royals rushed towards the large ballroom doors. The king’s voice ringing out ordering for an apothecary to be called, and for James…
“He is no longer here, your Majesty.” Jasper informed as they made their way down the hallway to Bella’s suite of rooms. “I caught the end of what happened out on the balcony and apparently, Prince James no longer wished to proceed with the betrothal to your daughter. He left and it was then that she tripped and fell into the balcony rail.”
“He just left?” Charles asked, outraged. It was more that he’d left his daughter when she was hurt rather than wanting out of the arrangement. If he was being honest, Charles was beginning to think the betrothal was a mistake… especially after what he’d witnessed on the dance floor earlier. Jasper heard and saw all of the king’s thoughts… even the ones where he’d watched his daughter with interest as she danced with Jasper and the rather obvious infatuation she’d shown while in his presence.
“Yes, he left, but I won’t.” Jasper said as the queen showed the way into Bella’s bed chamber. Within seconds, Jasper and the king were ushered out of room and Bella was surrounded by her mother, ladies-in-waiting and the three pixies.
“What do you mean by that statement, Jasper?”
“I meant that I made my way to your kingdom to express my wish in procuring your permission to court your daughter. My father visited you many years ago… King Edward. He had often expressed to me how much he had enjoyed your company and one day hoped that our kingdoms would be united.”
“Oh yes… I remember him travelling with an older boy… Your brother?”
Jasper could see that he was remembering that visit. The first time Edward and Jasper had passed through the region, they’d been wandering through the village to pick up a gift for Edward’s mate, Sarah, when Jasper had seen Bella for the first time… As soon as their eyes had met, he’d known it was she that was meant for him but she’d only been 15 years of age at the time. The two vampires realised they would have to leave and come back in a few years, giving Bella time to grow; though Jasper vowed to check on her quite regularly. They also knew they would need to lay the groundwork on that first visit so that when Jasper came back to claim his mate, the king would be willing to give his blessing.
“Yes, he was my brother Prince Carlisle, but he passed about a year after meeting you; we were very close.” Jasper said. “Many people said we looked like twins even though we were but two years apart.”
“Yes… you are remarkably alike. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.”
“Thank you.” Just then, a large man walked into the sitting room; he was a man who proudly called himself an apothecary, Jasper on the other hand would call a butcher. The thoughts going through his mind of what he’d need to do to ‘help’ Bella had Jasper on the defensive.
“Give me room please.” The man said. He pulled one of Bella’s eyes open and instantly her pupil narrowed to a pinpoint. Already Jasper’s venom was affecting her bodily responses, but he wouldn’t know that. “Oh, that’s not good, not good at all.”
“Oh!” Queen Renee whimpered. Jasper could hear her pain through her thoughts as the memories of when the Queen of Fae, Rosaline cursed her daughter to die when she was seventeen; she was scared to admit that the curse may have finally come to fruition. “Please sir, please don’t let her… die, Jacob…” she whispered.
“Sure, sure… I’ll do my best.” The apothecary s said as he fluttered about doing things he knew were probably not going to help in the slightest. “She’s already dead…” he mumbled to himself. Luckily no-one other than Jasper and the pixie’s heard what he’d said though. Jasper looked to Alice and was shocked when an image of Bella running and laughing alongside Jasper as they sped through a thick forest went through her mind.
Jasper stood at the doorway to the Princess’s bedroom, even though at this point, nothing Jacob did would harm her, he still didn’t want him doing something barbaric. A few minutes later, the ‘healer’ stood and let out a large sigh.
“I’m sorry but I have bad news.” Jacob said despondently. “There seems to be nothing I can do for our beautiful Princess. The blow to her head seems to have done more damage than I am able to rectify. It is up to the Princess now… and the Good Lord. All we can do now is wait, I’m afraid.”
The queen’s sobs were easily drowned out by the trilling voice in his head, Jasper reluctantly pulled his eyes away from his mate. She will be beautiful when she wakes, will she not? Alice asked silently.
“Stunning.” Jasper agreed quietly.
After Jacob left, Bella was attended by her mother and her maids and dressed in bedclothes while Jasper and the king waited outside in the sitting room.
“Before any more time goes past, Jasper, I must inform you of something. When Bella was christened, an invitation to the Queen of Fae folk, Rosaline was overlooked and she became incensed. She attended anyway but that day she cursed our beautiful daughter to become injured and die in her seventeenth year…. She will be eighteen in a week… and now she is injured. It looks as if the curse is finally coming to bear. If it was any other way, I would welcome you to court my daughter but sadly… I don’t think you’ll get the chance.” Charles’ grief stricken voice catching in heartbreak.
“Then I will cherish her while she is still with us.” Jasper said simply. And I will love her like no other once she awakens, until the end of time. He added silently.
Over the next twenty-four hours, Jasper stayed with his mate and her family along with the pixies. When Charles and Renee left the room to take their meals, he promised he would watch over her in their stead, and he didn’t.
“I know you’re in pain my love but it will pass and when it does, you will live a life you never knew existed. You are so beautiful…” Jasper whispered close by Bella’s ear, “… my sleeping beauty.”
“We need to make it seem that she dies soon, Jasper.” Peter said as he hovered in front of his face.
“Yes, I know. The king and Queen have been awake for some time now; they’ll need to retire soon. Give them the next thirty minutes before making them see that she is about to pass.”
“We will.” Alice said sombrely. “Once the vision spell starts, they’ll call in the doctor.”
Jasper nodded as he heard Bella’s parents making their way back from their evening meal. He leant down and brushed a tender kiss against the hair covering her forehead. “Sleep on, my love; it’ll all be over soon.” Jasper lamented over the fact that her parents would have to go through this but there was nothing he could do about it now. As much as he didn’t want to, Jasper released Bella’s hand that he’d been holding since her parents left and moved away to the chair a few feet from the bed.
“How is she?” Queen Renee asked as soon as she entered the bed chamber.
“She still sleeps I’m afraid.”
“Are you hungry, Jasper?” The king asked.
“Not at the moment, your majesty, but thank you. I ate just before arriving this evening.” He had in fact gorged himself on three deer and a bear. He needed to ensure his thirst was well and truly slaked before being around so many humans as well as his Bella.
Over the next half hour Jasper watched his mate and noticed the small changes that were already happening but went unseen by the humans in the room. Bella’s skin was now marginally paler than its normal pale hue; her hair slightly shinier. He knew that it was only the beginning and while he was excited to start his life with Bella, it pained him to know that he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to those she loved. How vowed to make up for it in any way he could.
The instant he saw Bella’s breathing start to change, he looked up to the pixies that sat perched on the tops of the picture frames above the bed. Alice nodded her tiny head before closing her eyes along with Peter and Angela.
“What’s happening?” The queen cried out. “Charles, what’s happening to Bella?”
The king watched his daughter for a few seconds and saw that her breathing had started to falter. Charles looked up to Jasper; unimaginable grief etched onto his handsome face before he looked back at his wife. “I’m so sorry, my dearest.” He didn’t know what else to say.
“No… please, no… Alice, please… is there anything you can do? I’ll do anything…”
Alice opened her sad eyes and shook her head in the negative. “I’m sorry, your majesty, there is nothing I can do to save her.”
The Queen’s anguished sobs once more racked her body and Peter’s face scrunched as he felt her pain. Jasper was amazed at the empathy that the male pixie contained in his small yet fierce body. Not able to stop himself, Peter opened his eyes and flew down to sit upon the shoulder of the queen; his small hand coming up to rest against the Queens temple.
Once the pixie’s vision spell had started, it didn’t take long to complete, even with the fumbling attempts of Jacob to change the outcome. In the few minutes it took for Bella’s breathing to go from irregular to stopping altogether, Jasper was surprised at how much it hurt his soul to see it happen, even though he knew it was all just an illusion. He quietly excused himself from the room and gave the grieving royal couple time with their daughter.
Half an hour later, the king led his inconsolable wife back to her bed chamber, so Jasper walked back into Bella’s room. He could hear her heart still beating and quickly catalogued the minute changes that had taken place since he’d left the room… She is going to be stunning, Jasper thought to himself.
Two hours after leaving, the king returned. “When I arose this morning, I never thought that my beautiful daughter wouldn’t be with me when I went back to my bed.” He said. His eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot as he stared at the prone body of his daughter; his grief was palpable. “Word has been sent to the clergy and they will be here shortly to prepare her for viewing. A lot of people will wish to say their final goodbyes.”
“I will stay with her until then if you wish to be with your wife.” Jasper said quietly.
Charles looked up at Jasper and stared at him for a few seconds. “Thank you, I will take you up on that shortly but I need a few minutes with her first.”
“Of course.” Jasper said before he stood up and with a final look to his slumbering mate, he quietly left the room. He’d only made it halfway down the hall before he heard the sobbing from Bella’s room.
The next day, Jasper stood along the walls of the grand ballroom. Only hours ago, this room was overflowing with music and laughter, now it was a moving sea of bodies gripped by genuine loss and disbelief. Bella had been dressed in her favourite lilac dress, her hair curled and perfectly arranged around her face; she looked as though she was just about to get up for the day. But instead, her body now laid on a large marble alter padded with a thick linen mattress that was filled with the softest duck down; a sheet made of the finest silk and dyed in her favourite color of purple laid above it all. Flowers taken from the royal garden were arranged around her head and large bouquets of the queen’s favourite roses dotted the walls between the castle guards that stood sentry.
As each person walked passed their princess, Jasper listened to their innermost thoughts. Not one person had anything bad to say or think about her and in this day and age, it was a rare thing for him to encounter.
“She’s so beautiful.” A little girl whispered to her mother as she laid her small daisy beside the Princess’ body. “She looks like she’s sleeping, Mama.”
“Yes my sweet child, like she’s sleeping.”
A little while later, Jasper was broken out of his daydreams of his future by the words of a young boy. “She doesn’t look dead, father. What if she’s not, what if she’s just sleeping?”
“She’s not though, Eric. She may look like a sleeping beauty, but sadly, she is not… We have lost our beautiful Princess; it is one of the saddest days I’ve ever experienced.”
Many times over the day, similar words as these were uttered in whispers. Alice, Peter and Angela hovered above her at all times but they were now accompanied by four others. Most people thought it was their grief that kept them there, but it wasn’t, it was necessary to keep the illusion of her death with so many people now watching her. It wasn’t until Queen Rosaline entered the room that Jasper realised why there were so many pixies in place; they were needed so that Rosaline would be fooled as well.
“You did this!” Queen Renee yelled, pointing directly to Rosaline. Since rising that morning, Renee had been dressed in her black mourning clothes; her head covered in a black veil that nearly obscured her beautiful yet anguished face. “Get out! You are not welcome here.”
Rosaline snickered at the Queen’s words. “Oh, I’ll go… I only wished to see my curse fulfilled. You should never have forgotten me your Majesty but you’ll never forget me now… will you! You know, this all could have been avoided… so really, all of this is your fault.”
“GET OUT!” Renee screamed. “GET OUT, GET OUT!”
“Guards!” The King yelled. “Get her out of here.” He knew it was a fairly useless order but he had to do everything he could to try and alleviate his wife’s pain. He was heart-broken enough as it was and seeing Renee’s pain shown so acutely only made his worse. Rosaline laughed as she flew above the reach of the human guards but it soon stopped when a troop of warrior pixies flew in from the open windows of the ballroom.
“Now is not the time, my Queen.” The lead warrior said from where he hovered. “Nothing can be accomplished by coming here today. Please…”
Rosaline glanced back down at Bella before looking back at the large pixie and smiling. “Another time then, Emmett.” With a wink in his direction, Rosaline flew out through the highest window at a speed to fast for most to see. But Jasper did and he also heard the thoughts of affection between the two.
The day wore on and the last few people of the kingdom who had come to pay their respects, both elite and peasant filed into the ballroom. Jasper hadn’t moved from his post, even though the royal couple had left hours beforehand.
Not long to go now, Jasper. Alice thought to him. The clergy will arrive shortly and take her to be placed in her coffin.
He hated the thought but once Bella was placed in the ornate coffin and the lid sealed, he walked away with the grieving King and Queen. He would play his part but it wouldn’t be long before he returned for her. “I must go for now my beautiful Bella but I will return soon” He whispered quickly and quietly as he bent to lay a kiss upon her hand. “Rest easily and I will come to get you and we can start our lives together. You are so beautiful, my love.”
With a lingering glance back to his mate, he followed the King and Queen out to of the royal chapel and into their carriage. “I’m sorry you didn’t get the chance to know our daughter better, Jasper.” The king said. “I can see that you shared an instant connection and feel as though you would have been the best husband we could have wished for our Bella.” The Queen whimpered at the sound of her daughter’s name.
“Thank you Sir, and yes, the connection I felt with you daughter was instant and I feel that it will always be with me.” Jasper said honestly. He only wished that things would have worked out differently and Bella didn’t have to ‘die’ in her parents eyes. She and Jasper could have wed and then travelled away together; letters could have been sent to them to tell of their lives together. But it was not to be. “I will take my leave after she is laid to rest in the morn.”
The king nodded sombrely. “Yes, of course, I understand. Please send my greeting to your father upon your return.”
“I will and please, accept my most sincere apologies on your most tragic loss. I honestly wished for my visit to have a much more pleasant outcome.”
Later that night after everyone had retired to their bedchambers, Jasper stood at the large window of his suite. He listened to all of the minds around him and once most of the humans had gone to sleep, he made his way back to the royal chapel. A quick listen confirmed there was no-one inside and he stole his way inside. He unfastened the lid of Bella’s coffin and moved it aside.
“I’m here my love.” He said as he ran the back of his fingers against her smooth cheek. So many more changes had occurred in his absence; she was now more beautiful than ever before… which he didn’t think was a possibility when he studied her features on the dance floor. Just then, Alice, Peter and Angela entered the chapel.
“Everything is ready at our home.” Alice said as Jasper lifted his mate out of the coffin.
“Thank you, Alice. Watch over for a second please?” He asked after laying her upon the padded bench to the side of the room. In the blink of an eye, Jasper had darted outside and returned with an armful of small rocks equal to the Princess’ weight. After filling the coffin with the rocks, he then replaced and relocked the lid and was back at Bella’s side. “Show me the way, Pixie.”
The Pixies home was deep within the forest that surrounded the castle. Huge evergreen trees canopied the damp ground, small saplings and trees held vines that wove intricately around their bases; the forest was alive with creatures of all kinds. Jasper promised himself to bring Bella back here at some point in the future; he knew she’d love seeing this. He laid her still sleeping body on the bed of leaves, flowers and moss that had been made by the Pixies and fairies that flittered about overhead.
“It’s all very beautiful. I can’t thank you all enough for what you have done for me and for Bella.” Jasper said sincerely.
“We are happy to do so, young Jasper.” Angela said with a smile. It had been a very long time since he’d been referred to as ‘young’… “We will be sorry to see our beautiful princess leave these lands.”
“I will bring her back at some point, I’m sure she’d love to see you all again.”
“You’ll need to leave again soon, Jasper, the people of the castle will begin to stir soon.” Peter said as he hovered beside his own mate. “We will watch over her until you return.”
Jasper nodded his reply as he sat beside Bella. He took her hand in his and gently kissed the skin of her still gloved hand. “You are doing so well my beauty. I hate to leave you again, Bella but I will be back shortly. It won’t be long now until we look upon each other again.” Jasper thanked the Fae once more before running back to the castle.
The funeral service was a sombre affair and the only dry eyes around were that of Jasper and the Fae Queen, Rosaline. The countdown to Bella’s awakening in Jasper’s head was getting close and he was getting anxious to return to her. Once returning to the castle and collecting his few things from the room he’d been given, Jasper gave his condolences to the heartbroken King and Queen and said his goodbyes.
Within minutes of leaving the castle, Jasper was back at Bella’s side. Her transformation was close to being complete and Jasper marvelled at the young woman in front of him. “You will be a Queen one day, my love… my Queen.”
Over the next few hours, everyone listened as Bella’s heart finally started to stutter its last beats, and once it did, Jasper held his breath in anticipation… But when her eyes never opened, he looked up at Alice in question.
“Kiss her, Jasper.” She said with a smile.
He looked down to the still sleeping beauty before him and smiled. “My pleasure… Awake my beauty.” He whispered as he leant forward. His body lit up in a feeling he couldn’t put words to as his lips met Bella’s for the first time. Slowly, he pulled away and watched as her eyes opened to reveal fiery red irises looking back. “Hello my love.”
“You…” Bella whispered. “It’s you…”
“Yes, my beautiful Bella, it’s me.”
Bella’s hand reached up and gasped as her now ungloved hand touched the soft skin of Jasper’s cheek. “I dreamed of you. I dreamed…”
“What did you dream, Bella?”
“That you… love me.”
Jasper’s smile widened as he reached out and cupped her cheek with his own hand. “It was no dream, Bella, for I do love you… with everything that I am. I love you and will do until the end of time itself.”
It was but a few second in time but it was all Bella needed to understand that she felt the same. “Yes… yes, I… I feel the same. I love you too, but how?”
“I will answer all of your questions soon, my love, but first… are you hungry?”
At his words, Bella gasped as her throat flared in hunger. Jasper quickly thanked the Pixies and fairies for all that they’d done over the last few days before saying goodbye so that he could feed his mate for the first time.
Over the years that Jasper had returned to Fawkes and watched his mate as she grew into the woman she now was, he’d often wondered what it would look like to watch her hunt as he did… it was a vision he couldn’t quite grasp. But now… as he stood back and watched his mate pull down a stag four times her size, his heart swelled in pride. She was magnificent!
One day, he would bring her back to her lands and re-introduce her to the small but loyal creatures that had kept her safe from those that wished her harm, her whole life.
“Come my beauty, I have a magnificent world to show you.” Jasper said as he held out his hand. But Bella’s belly was now full and the thrill of the hunt had morphed into something else. When her hand touched his, instinct had her pull him into her arms. “Bella?”
“Kiss me again, my love.” She whispered.
Jasper couldn’t contain his enjoyment of hearing her say those words. “It would be my pleasure, beautiful Bella.”
Jasper’s arms encircled Bella’s body an instant before his lips gently pressed against hers but that quickly changed. Bella couldn’t control what she was feeling and without conscious thought, a growl of want emanated from the back of her throat. It was a sound that had Jasper lose his mind.
Hands gripped hard and lips kissed deeply and when their eyes opened, Bella found herself pressed against a large Sequoia tree. “Please…” she whispered softly. If Jasper hadn’t been so close, even he wouldn’t have heard her plea. “What’s happening, Jasper?”
“Our need to complete our bond is calling to us. I love you, Bella, with every fibre of my being, I am yours.”
Instinct then took them over. As their hands explored previously unknown flesh, the invisible ties of fate that bought them together tightened and strengthened. Their bodies moved together as one in a sensuous dance that they would only perform for each other. The instant love and connection that was there from the beginning exploded into something neither being knew was possible. And when their bodies were finally sated, they lay pressed against each other on the soft forest floor and stared into each other’s eyes. Neither needed verbal conformation of the other’s love for it was easily seen in the eyes looking back at them. Above them, Alice and Peter sat unseen…
I will miss them, Peter. Alice spoke to silently to her mate.
Yes, as will I, my love. But you know that tales of their love will be told throughout years to come. They will become that of legends.
Yes, that they will. Come now, my heart… Your promise of starting a family of our own is now here. Alice’s laughter as Peter chased her through the treetops was that of tinkling bells.
Jasper’s arms tightened around Bella as he smiled at the images he’d just seen in Alice’s mind. He couldn’t wait to finally introduce his mate to his family, but that would have to wait for a little while longer… He wasn’t finished getting to know her, himself.