Summary: When Edward flees to Volterra after learning of Bella’s death, he is coerced into remaining as a member of the Volturi Guard. Redemption can be found even when it is not being sought after. Slash/New Moon AU
For our first post-launch review, I chose the first fic I reach for when someone asks me for a vampslash rec. With perfect glee I sat down to re-read Tracking Redemption by shoefreak37. I very very very rarely re-read fanfic. Consequently, I thought I might have to push myself to pick it up. This was only the second time I’ve read this story, and yet once again, I couldn’t put it down.
The story begins in New Moon, but Edward is running to Volterra earlier than in canon. Alice has seen Bella in the meadow with Laurent, and then she disappears from Alice’s visions. With Bella dead, Edward runs off to commit Volturicide.
This time, no one follows him. This time, Aro succeeds in acquiring Edward as a member of the guard. His first assignment is a simple one, more or less. His second, not so much.
He began scouring the hardened nails with ferocity as though trying to purge himself of the self-loathing he was experiencing. If only he could get his hands clean, then he would be free of what he’d done. He could forget it.
Edward cleansed and rubbed and polished and buffed his fingernails, but the stains would not come clean. He added more force and the brush crumbled in his hand. He grabbed another one and began scrubbing again in desperation, and, once again, the tiny plastic tool could not withstand Edward’s panicked grip.
Shoefreak37 ‘humanises’ (so to speak) many of the Volturi, making them real people with depths beyond what we might think of as ‘evil’. Edward finds a few friends within the guard, and Demetri is there from the beginning. Slowly Edward comes to realise that perhaps he wasn’t attracted to Bella in the way he thought he was, and yet he continues to feel tremendous guilt over her death.
“I know that the pieces of your heart are scattered. You feel that you will never find them all again, but, trust me, I am very good at finding things. I already know the shape they are to go back in,” Demetri stated, clutching Edward’s left pectoral tightly. “I can feel how good your heart is Edward, even in its absence.”
Edward let his breath out in a rush, and sobbed once more quietly. “How can you stand to be near me? I can barely tolerate myself.”
“Edward, I have not been moved by another in well over five hundred years. How could I not want to be near you?”
I’m sitting here trying to find words to express how I feel about Edward and Demetri. I can’t. I get stupid-happy all over again. I have a different Demetri in my head from the one in the books (and definitely the movie). He’s patient and understanding. Gentle and self-sacrificing. I’m trying very hard not to *swoon* while I’m supposed to be helpful and factual and shit 😉
Edward is innocent and very pure at the beginning of the story. His thoughts are very proper. This character definitely grows and changes in the course of the story. The sex scenes in Tracking Redemption are very very hot (OMG mountain sex), but the first time Edward says something I wasn’t expecting, it almost killed me dead. More than that superficial change, Edward eventually comes to accept himself, to accept what he is, his immortality. This I found to be a very strong theme within the story, and is part of what makes it a perfect example of alternate universe vampfic.
Tracking Redemption is compelling, surprising, and concise. It’s a hair over 100k, but it doesn’t feel like a rambling epic. Every sentence adds to the story and advances the plot. I’ve heard Shoe refer to her prose as ‘purple’. It’s not, in my opinion. If there is a smattering of turgid members, it’s completely appropriate to Edward’s point of view. Shoe writes in third person, but she does it exceptionally, never once dropping out of Edward’s head and into someone else’s.
The strongest impression I come away with every time I read Tracking Redemption, is that it doesn’t read like serialised fiction. There are no loose ends. No obvious ‘corners’ the author has written herself into which she must then waste an entire chapter digging her way out of (don’t look at me like that, I have a WIP in which I’ve done that exact thing). The first time I read it, I could not believe that shoefreak37 hadn’t written the entire story before she posted a word. It just seemed that cohesive.
I was beyond impressed.
There is also a companion story: Til Death Do Us Part by GracieBlack28, which is a Jacob/Bella story set in the same universe. I haven’t read this, so I offer the link for FYI purposes. The author seems to have a few other stories set in this universe, focusing on the wolfpack, Embry and his parentage specifically.