Summary: Pre-Twilight Volturi, canon AU. 2nd place femslash judges vote, In the Closet Contest. Together for centuries, Sulpicia longs for a deeper relationship with Didyme, the woman who also happens to be her mate’s sibling…
First off, I have to admit that as much as I love slash, I’ve never been drawn to the lady side of slash, so Arcana broke my proverbial femmeslash cherry. Whether you’re a femmeslash virgin like me, or it’s the only thing you read, Arcana is a must-read.
What solareclipses so artfully does with this story is take a missing piece of the Twilight Saga and give it life. She makes Sulpicia and Didyme real people – three dimensional characters with motivations and desires and fears. And she does it in a way that is absolutely believable within Twilight canon.
She is light—so pure, that sometimes I feel I must shade my eyes from her brightness. Wherever her leather-sandaled feet venture, shadows flee, and laughter reigns. Her heart, still though it may be beneath her breast, sees only goodness, for she is only goodness in this den of vampire thieves and hungry lion men.
Solareclipses’ prose is well-researched and beautifully written. She effortlessly weaves bits of history in with the narrative, creating a richer, fuller experience for the reader. Though Arcana is only just over 5,000 words, there is no dearth of imagery or affect. In fact, the story is likely more impactful than if it was twice as long.
At face value, Arcana is only about Sulpicia and Didyme. However, through the telling of their relationship, their love, we get a glimpse into the lifestyles and lives of the Volturi through the centuries. We also gain a better understanding of current-day Marcus’s misery and Aro’s need for power and control.
My husband Aro knows of my feelings. How can he not, when his every touch unveils to him my history, my every thought? There are no secrets between my mate and me. He does not hide his anger over my inexplicable desire for his sister, though he is also aware that my infatuation is beyond my control; it is perhaps this fact that annoys him most. I imagine that his gift often confronts him with love and lust for his much happier sibling. […]
The years pass, turn into decades, and then centuries. We witness the rise and fall of societies, participating in some, ignoring most. Eternity is longer than any of us were able to imagine. Velathri becomes Volterrae becomes Volterra, and our coven takes on the name Volturi, growing until Marcus is more frequently required in the great hall with Aro and Caius. The latter two thrive in this new, more powerful environment; Marcus broods without his wife. His angst is understandable; I cannot fathom living without Didyme.
As solareclipses points out in her ending Author’s Note, so often in fanfiction, slash especially, the focus is on the lemon. We fixate on when a couple will get together, where it will happen, how it will happen, how many times, etc. But in reality, relationships are largely a waiting game with no guarantee of citrus. Arcana plays the waiting game well, but not in the typical way. It’s not a story rife with sexual tension or innuendo, and the story isn’t just the lemon.
The story is the emotion and affection between the two women, strong enough to endure centuries. And when the two finally do give in to their love for one another it is still more about their connection and less about the physical act.
“Let me see you,” she says, and unlike my hands, hers are calm and gentle. She takes her time, slowly pulling down one shoulder strap and then another; it is the single most pleasurable and torturous feeling I have experienced. My breathing is erratic as I stare into her eyes. I feel as though I am looking into her soul, and it is so painfully beautiful, so perfect, that I wish I could cry, if only to show her how deeply I care. Somehow, Didyme understands this, for she understands me. Her hands leave my dress straps sagging loosely around my biceps, coming up instead to cradle my face. “Shh, shh, shh. I understand, mellita.”
If you’re familiar with the Volturi in Twilight canon, you know that this story cannot have a happy ending. But that ending just makes the rest of the story that much more poignant.
Arcana is a dynamic tale, one that is full of rich characters and gives the reader an intimate peek inside the walls of the Volturi that we could never hope to get from the original Twilight Saga. If you’ve ever wondered about the interpersonal relationships within the Volturi, Arcana is a great place to start. I enjoyed the story and its realism so much that I am choosing to believe it is canon.