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"Regretfully, we must decline your request."




The room had only eight people. There are no teeming crowds this time.
This is not the throne room. It's a salon. A very private one. And specific.

"You must try to understand, you are very young and while this tragic--"

The walls are covered with long, fringed hangings. The couches are gilded, divan and settee, matching chairs and ottomans. The inner balcony rails and the tables made of the same materials. Everything dressed in a decor of maroons, blacks, and silvers.

"--event has surely rocked your world, given time, you will see that it, too, is only an event."

The room is made to feel careless opulent. Lies. Every piece was painstakingly picked.
Each one was immediately replaced with its exact duplicate after mistakes.
Lies. Like the expectation of humility to be invited here. To be honored.

"It would be very wasteful to act rashly now."



There is no regret in the statement granted him.
There is, under it, a web of spider-like glee.
In those red eyes that prevaricate.


Knowing he can hear.


"Surely, you can see," Aro continued onward, flowing glide of movement and symphony of sound. "Marcus, here, is our own prime example of the astounding capacity our kind has to survive the worst of travesties and continue on for not only years, but centuries."



He'd stood there, still as a stone through the delivery.
Watched by guards and wives and The Three.
Thoughts exploding, plans expanding.
Speech unrequired in lecture.
Until this allusion.




Edward scoffed.




The entire room went still. Conversation silenced. Games ceased. Waiting. Watching.

Edward's glance between Marcus and Aro was evident of his thoughts. Marcus was very little more alive than the furniture was. A dog chained so long to its blackness and its sentence of immortality and usefulness that he'd forgotten what life ever held.

Aro's fingers laced together. He rose from his seat and walked forward. Such a fluid grace that few others in their entire world could ever match. Alice, whose every shift was a dance, would have seemed a clumsy child next to it.

"We do hope you will consider remaining with us during this troubling time. There is room for you here, among us. All of your needs and wants will be attended to. Your presence here would prove easily to be quite...invaluable. Beyond measure or memory or reward."

Several of those words are almost pauses.

And Edward's look, if the last time was exasperated at the expanse of the mendacity, is unbridled and exhausted disgust. Aro already knows his thoughts. What he thought of their life and their ways. Of they, themselves. Their past actions with Carlisle. What he had planned if this happened.





The cold cordiality does not negate the black anger, when he gives the words back.

No ounce of fear. Deep rage and emptiness and mocking. "Regretfully, I must decline your offer."

"Ah, but, Edward, you could--" started as Aro's hands extended toward him. Both, as though to off a place for him to put one of his. But even in his starved state Edward had stepped back in perfect balance with the reach out. Not a reaction to an action. A reaction to the thought which gave birth to the action.

"I can see myself out."



A cloak rustled, steps darted forward. "Leave him be, Dmitri."
Aro's voice. Direct. A winding coil of cool smoothness, slicing silence.

The insult and its sting not unfelt, from the words given to him, or the ones he gave back.
"He is our guest, and, having broken none of our laws, he is still free to come and go as he pleases."

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themidnightson

March 2012

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