The Long Road Home, Chapter 5: Rue de Paradis (Alice)

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a work of Twilight fanfiction.

Chapter Note: This chapter picks up right after Chapter 3, and is from Alice's POV. Historical references are accurate. I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter 5: Rue de Paradis

If I'd loved New York, I swooned over Paris. It became my new home. But it took me some time to get used to it.

I'd arrived in France ten days after departing New York. The voyage had been uneventful, although by the time my feet touched the rough planks of the wharf in Paris my throat burned with an intensity I hadn't felt in a long time. I hadn't fed before fleeing New York, not wanting to take the time to do so...and it had been too long before that, anyway. I always put off feeding as long as I could.

All around me the crowd swirled, people jostling me as I stood motionless among them, my struggle with my thirst momentarily rendering me stiff as a statue. The scent of them, hot blood pulsing through their veins, was agonizing. Even so, in the midst of my fight with myself, I could still hear the differences in the languages around me: many were spoken, though French was definitely predominant, the voices mingling and clashing, laughter and shouts and conversations. My mind heard and catalogued them all, even as my body warred with my will. I had much to learn, and I gritted my teeth with determination: I would learn all I could, and more. And always, always, maintain control of myself.

I kept my eyes closed for a moment, remembering, trying to get a grip on my instincts. I flooded my mind with memories, trying to gain perspective.

I thought about my time on the boat. I had stayed belowdecks in my stateroom during the trip, only venturing above in the nighttime, to take in the breathtaking sight of the moon hovering over the restless sea, the stars glittering abnormally close and bright-no longer dimmed or obscured by city lights, I saw the skies the way they were meant to be seen, endless and expansive, full of mystery.

The ocean was studded with foamy whitecaps, whipped up by the strong winds blowing from the north: it was the beginning of wintertime, and there were icebergs about as well. The North Atlantic crossing was often a dangerous one at that time of the year, even with the modern advances of steamship travel. I had held my breath at the sight of the icebergs, glittering like diamonds in the moonlight, floating low in the water...but I knew there was much more to them below the surface, jagged enough to tear open the hull and sink our ship in minutes. I could hear the watchmen up in the tower constantly calling out direction changes and warnings to the officer manning the wheel below. It had been a White Star Line vessel I was sailing on, after all, and no one wanted a repeat of the disastrous Titanic incident!

Of course, the fact that I wouldn't have been in any real danger wasn't important to me. I could swim without tiring, could stay submerged and never need to breathe...But I thought of all the people, and held my breath anyway, anxious-for them. And I found the icerbergs a disturbingly accurate analogy for my own nature: glittering, cold, hard, dangerous...deceptive.

I loved to lean over the edge of the railing and inhale the sharp, salty scent of the water, to feel the icy cold wind as I breathed it in. It felt so clean, and I felt so alive. For the first time in...ever.

During all that time, never having to sleep, I had thought over and over about why I had left New York. Corin's darkly handsome face and his tales replayed themselves in my mind over and over again, alternating with Eleazar's anguished but hopeful expression as he gazed at his Carmen in her suffering.

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