So recently, I was chatting up one of my fave authors, ThisColony, and she throws me a little linkage love to this AU fic, CN&FL. Since I've been on some weird, hardcore angsty AU binge, I don't really hesitate to open it up and start
Normally with AU's, 5 general questions come to mind.
1. Age and Place it occurs?
2. Who's the vamp?
3. What makes it different?
4. Are there sexy times?
5. Is Edward going to change Bella, or be a little bitch about it?
The last two are usually mysteries up until the end of the stories, so I'll focus on 1-3.
Bella is older in this one, but it still takes place in Forks. She is a jaded, sardonic, bitchy bartender who has managed to find herself doing something she loathes, in a place she loathes, with people she loathes. Her dreams have slipped through her fingers, and she's a little bitter about her circumstances, but not in an off-putting way. Her characterization is easy to relate to, and also very easy to relate to canon Bella. She's not vulgar or slutty or traumatized, she's just bored and disappointed that life didn't turn out like she'd planned.
Edward and the Cullens are vamps, but this story begins with Edward flying solo... in RUSSIA. That's right. Other countries exist. I like it that -- even though he goes to Forks -- we're seeing him as kind of nomadic and in a different place than the US or Canada or UK. Is it just me, or do they rarely go anywhere else? Russia seems like a perfect option.
Edward is also lonely, as always, but darker in the sense that he's depressed, struggling to find his place, and wants a home where he thinks there is none. There's an air of mystery about both his eating habits and his past as he settles down in the town and tries to make a believable facade there. When he first meets Bella in the bar (and there is no love at first sight here) he is overcome by his bloodlust, first and foremost. Devastated and torn about the effect of the call of her blood and his very close call with nearly killing her, the rest of the Cullens will come into play.
I'm quite certain that my favorite part about this story is Edward's reaction to Bella's blood. Which will be my mention of number 3.
We know he likes it. We know he wants it. We're told this in every vampy fic, yes. Bella is nummylicious. But queenofgrey has managed to make Bella's blood like its very own entity to Edward and has taken it to a whole new level. He doesn't notice her face or her meekness or her blank mind. No. He notices her blood and it haunts him, taunts him, and tears him apart from the inside when it isn't there. This isn't about romance, plain and simple. It's the longing and appreciation for her scent.
In fact, he adore, reveres, and is so obsessed with the smell of her blood, that a part of the monster within him doesn't want to kill her, instead pondering a desire to worship the blood, have it to always smell and crave and adore. Queenofgrey shows this by gracing Edward with one of Bella's shirts -- a tool to meant to desensitize him. Simple. Common. Scented. Shirt. Well, needless to say,
Just the imagery of him reacting into this shirt in this way is so fantastic, desperate and somehow... a paradox, in that it's reverently animalistic. He keeps this shirt, burying his nose into it, even around the others. It becomes a security blanket, a fix. It's almost tender in it's intensity, his dependence on this item and her smell, even though he doesn't even really know her yet.
Over the course of these ten chapters, we see Bella's interest in the unknown, her draw to things of mystery, her urge to escape the mundane and get answers from Edward. Their interactions are suspenseful, Edward being at times incapable of controlling his bloodlust for her. He reveals very much, very soon, and Bella knows from the get go that all is not ordinary with him.
But bored bartender Bella likes this, even despite her knowledge that he wants to kill her. Her behavior, though seemingly canon, really isn't. She probably reacts the way most anyone would in her position. There is a gun. Which is all I'm saying, because... I don't want to give it away. Just know that Bella isn't all whiny girly girl swooning over the dark vampire here. She's got some balls, alcohol, firearms, and she's a little pissed off.
There is eventual correspondence, and this story is just beginning to show us the building of a relationship between the two, the little moments in which they get to know one another, and how they overcome the obvious obstacle of his reactions to her scent.
All in all, queenofgrey has created a visually, emotionally, mentally stimulating story, weaving the minds of these two together through the beauty of her prose. If you're looking for a good vampy AU, deep, thoughtful, and exploratory of Edward's primal nature mingled with his loneliness, I urge you to give a read, add it to alerts, review the author, and let her know how you feel.
With an average of 0.7 chapters per day, queenofgrey is a quick updater, and we lazy ficsters dig that shit, don't we? ~collective nod~
Also, I'll be waiting to see if numbers 4 and 5 come to fruition. :)