A/N – This is the last extra chapter, some Daisy POV and a wedding. Just wanted to finish it all off with a "and they lived happily ever after"!
Daisy POV – 11 years old.
"Hi Daisy. Mind if I join you?"
I throw the handful of pebbles I've been playing with into the stream and turn around to see Angela standing a little way away, holding a bunch of flowers. "No, that's okay. What are you doing with those flowers? Is that my bridesmaid bouquet?" I splash back to the bank.
"It's the same, but it's not yours. I got the florist to make up an extra bouquet – I wanted something for Rosalie." Angela picks up the jar of green water and mouldy dandelions that's sitting next to me on top of my mom's memorial rock and tips it out. "Will you hold these for me?"
I take the bouquet while Angela rinses out the jar and fills it with fresh water at the stream before taking it over to the rock and sitting it on the flattest part of the top, where Clementine won't be able to reach it to eat the flowers.
"They're so pretty." I breathe in the smell of the flowers and hand the bouquet to Angela, then scramble up onto the rock. "But…don't you think it's kind of weird to be giving flowers to my mom on the same day you're going to marry my dad?"
Angela laughs. "I don't know, is it?" She starts arranging the flowers in the jar. "It doesn't feel weird to me; I've been thinking about her a lot lately. I feel like today wouldn't be happening if it weren't for your mom. She's the one who made this beautiful family that I get to be part of now, and on today of all days I wanted to take a moment to come down here and tell her again how grateful I am, and promise her again that I will always do my best to take care of you all the way she would want."
"I think Mom would be happy," I say shyly. "I mean, she'd probably rather be here! But since she's not, I think she'd be glad that Dad's happy again and that we all get to have you for our mom."
"I hope so." Angela leans against the rock and pats my leg. "I love all of you a lot! I really hope that Emmett and I are going to be as happy together as he was with Rosalie, and that I'm going to be a good mother to all of you."
"You already are," I say. "You've been looking after us all for ages! You know Holly and the little twins don't even remember Mom really, and not even Mac and Noah that much. They all call you Mom…" I bite my lip and then say hesitantly, "It doesn't matter that I don't, does it? I know you said it didn't, but now that you're going to adopt us and everything…is it still okay if I just keep calling you Angie?"
"That's absolutely fine."
"Are you sure?" I look hard at her face, trying to see if she's telling me the truth. Because even though I don't really want to call her Mom, I really do love Angie and I don't want to do anything that makes her upset with me or hurts her feelings.
But Angela just smiles at me, the same as always, as she reaches out and hugs me. "I'm really sure," she says gently. "I love you Daisy, and I love getting to be part of your life. And I know you love me." She cups my face and kisses my forehead. "It doesn't matter what you call me; what matters is what we are to each other. A name, or a title…that doesn't matter at all."
I smile back. "I'm really glad you're adopting me. Even if it's kind of weird to be adopted a second time! And I think it's really cool that you wanted to do it today and make it part of your wedding."
"Well, you know it's only symbolic, we'll have to do it all the right way with lawyers and a court order for it to be official, but I really wanted to do something today. I'm marrying your dad because I love him and want to be with him forever, but I'm also choosing you and your brothers and sister – I want you to be my family, and I want it to be forever too. I really wanted to do something to show you all just how much you mean to me, and how much I want to be your mother always." Angie wipes her eyes and then laughs. "Gosh, how much do you think I'm going to cry today?"
I laugh too, but I don't answer because I think if I start trying to talk then I might cry too. I still remember how horrible it was after Mom died. Our family just felt like it was so broken, and everyone was so sad that it felt like we were never ever going to be happy again. Dad tried to act normal, and maybe the boys didn't notice anything, but half the time he was walking around like a zombie and I could tell how much he missed Mom. Angela didn't change everything when she came, she didn't magically make everything fixed right away, but she made it easier and then she made it better. I still get sad that my Mom died, but after all this time with Angela we feel like a regular happy family again.
"We should go back." Angela looks up the field towards the house. "Alice and Jasper arrived just before, and it's probably time for us to start getting ready."
For a moment our fingers touch as we both reach out and touch the raised letters of my mom's name on the plaque before we head back to the house. Rosalie. I think it's funny the way everyone does that – there's a lot of writing on the plaque, but my mom's name is always much cleaner and shinier than the rest of it.
Angie and I walk up through the field towards the house. I can see the marquee for the party after the wedding set up over by the oak tree, and while I've been down at the stream Dad's finished hanging up the flower garlands on the back porch where the actual ceremony is going to take place. I stop at the bottom of the stairs, suddenly conscious of my muddy bare feet, as I look at the cleanly swept steps and porch.
"Daisy Jade! How you doing?" Jasper comes out through the kitchen door and grins at me. "How can you look more grown up every time I see you? You're going to be a beautiful bridesmaid today. Do I get a hug?"
"I don't want to walk on the stairs, I'll make everything dirty," I say, indicating my feet.
"Allow me." Jasper scoops me up in his arms, careful to keep my feet away from his suit. He kisses me on the cheek and I wrap my arms around his neck and hug him tight. I love my uncle.
"All ready for today?" Jasper kisses Angie's cheek. "Still sure you want to commit to being part of the Cullen family circus?"
"I'm nervous about the wedding," she admits. "I never like being the centre of attention! But the marriage, being a Cullen…I'm not nervous about that at all."
"Are you going to change your name?" I ask, as Jasper carries me up the stairs. "I never thought of it. My mom didn't, that's why we're all Hale-Cullen."
"I thought I would," Angela says a little shyly. "I like the idea of taking your dad's name, and also then my name will be the same as half of yours."
Jasper holds open the kitchen door. "I'd say I hope you and Emmett are going to be very happy together, but I don't think it's even a question. You two are great together." Inside, he gently sets me down on the floor and pats my shoulder.
"Angie, there you are! I've bought the most divine crown for your veil, I know you'll love it, you're going to look so beautiful! And Daisy, my delightful little darling!" Alice comes bursting into the kitchen and immediately squeezes me into a huge hug. "I've got a gorgeous hairstyle I'm planning for you and I borrowed a little tiara from the ballet company's costume department, you're going to look exquisite!"
"You look so good," I say, admiring Alice's shocking pink suit and matching high heels. She's even wearing a little hat with netting and feathers – she looks like an olden day movie star. "Can I try your shoes?"
"Not with those muddy feet!" Alice says. "Once you've had a shower you can…look at your feet! Are we the same size now?! You've grown!"
I don't think I have. I'm the shortest person in the sixth grade, and Mac and Noah are taller than me even though I'm two years older. But Alice is tiny like a fairy and her feet are like kid's feet so maybe I will fit into her shoes now.
"You should go and have a shower," Angie says to me, glancing up at the clock. "The boys must be finished by now."
"Yes! And you need to come with me." Alice grabs Angie's hand. "I want to do your hair and make up. Daisy, use the hair dryer once you're done in the shower, I'll fix you up once I've finished with Angela."
Holly's in the bathroom when I go in, standing on the step stool and admiring herself in the mirror. She's already wearing her flower girl dress and Alice must have done her hair first, because it's half up and half down, curling down her back and topped with a delicate, sparkling tiara. She looks like a model out of one of Angie's bridal magazines.
"Look how beautiful I am," Holly breathes. "Look how beautiful Alice did my hair! Look at my beautiful princess crown! And my dress is so beautiful, and look what happens when I spin around!" She jumps off the step and spins so that her dress flies out until she's so dizzy she nearly falls into the bathtub.
She might look like a child model, but she's not very coordinated.
"Careful." I grab her arm. "Don't fall down. And you shouldn't be playing in here when you've got your dress on, it might get wet or get toothpaste on it or something."
Holly staggers slightly. "Oh no!"
"You have to get out anyway, I need to take a shower." I push her gently towards the door. "Go and ask Jasper to read you a story."
After my shower it takes forever to dry my hair, but I make sure I do it properly and then I run upstairs to get dressed. I love my bridesmaid dress; Angie let me and Bella pick the colour and Bella said I could have whatever I wanted, so it's purple and the prettiest dress I've ever had. I also have new shoes with the highest heel Angie and Dad would let me have (which isn't very high, I don't know why they're happy for me to do backflips on a high beam but they think I'll break my ankle on a shoe) and my first proper grown up bra.
"Daisy-bug, can I come in?" Dad knocks on my door.
"Sure." I do up the buckle of my shoe and then stand up and strike a pose. "How do I look? Alice still has to do my hair, but does my dress look nice?"
"You look beautiful." Dad puts his hand to his heart. "Absolutely gorgeous."
At first I think he's joking, but then he keeps blinking and he's doing that lopsided smile that means he's trying not to show that he's got feelings. "Oh, Dad, don't…"
He laughs at that, and sits on my desk chair. "All right, sorry, I'll be tough and sensible. But Daisy…you really do look beautiful."
I put my arms around his neck and kiss him on his nose. "And you look good in your suit. Exactly like you should look for a wedding."
"Excellent. That's just the look I was going for, groom at a wedding." Dad reaches into his pocket. "I've bought you a present."
It isn't wrapped, so I can see right away that it's going to be jewellery. I open the little velvet box and find a necklace, with three silver hearts hanging from a delicate chain. The hearts all have a different coloured stones in the centre, and some engraving along one curved side. "Thank you, I love it!" I lift it closer so I can read the tiny letters.
"Angie said you needed a necklace to wear with your dress," Dad says. "I wanted to get you something special, to remember the day, so I picked that. The hearts are for each of your moms. Their birthstones…"
Alice. Rosalie. Angela.
"It's really pretty." My voice shakes a little bit, but Dad's already pulling me close for a hug, holding me tight when I hide my face in his shoulder. "I'm sorry," I say, even though I don't know if he can hear me. "I really do love the necklace."
"It's fine." Dad kisses my head. "It's that kind of day."
When I'm sure I'm not going to cry, I stand up and open the jewellery box, gently taking out the necklace. "Can you help me do this up?"
"Sure." My dad's hands look way too big for the tiny clasp, but when I hold my hair out of the way he gets it fastened around my neck in a second. When I turn around to show him how it looks, lying just below the hollow of my throat, he has the same lopsided smile on his face. "Perfect."
"You don't think it's too weird to have three moms and be adopted twice?"
Dad laughs. "Not at all. You're lucky – three of the most amazing women I've ever known all belong to you." He hugs me again. "Although I think I'm really the lucky one, getting to have you."
"That too." Dad shakes his head. "Unless she takes her chance and ditches me at the altar."
"You don't have an altar; you're getting married on our back porch!" I giggle. "And I don't think that would ever happen anyway."
"Not a chance." Alice appears at my bedroom door, hauling a cosmetics suitcase behind her. "Angie is now all made up and dressed and styled, and you are going to have one absolutely gorgeous bride walking down the aisle to you, brother dear."
"I can't wait," Dad grins.
"Now you have to get out of that chair so I can work on Daisy," Alice says, waving her hands imperiously.
"Okay, okay. Not too much make-up though, she doesn't need it." Dad boops me on the nose and stands up. "You're perfect just as you are."
As soon as he's gone I heft Alice's suitcase up onto my bed and open it. It's crammed with cosmetics palettes and hair products and nail polish and jewellery boxes. "Don't pay any attention to Dad. Put as much make-up on me as you want – I want to look really glamourous!"
Alice giggles. "You're going to look stunning. Grab that tiara and I'll get started on your hair."
I find a plastic box holding the tiara and gently take it out. It looks like it's made of spun silver, and reminds me of snowflakes as it catches the light and sparkles in my hands. "Are these real jewels?"
"Good lord no, I'm not your Grandma Lily," Alice says in amusement, reaching past me for a hairbrush and curling iron, and several packets of hairpins. "They are pretty good fakes though, don't you think? I borrowed them from a costumer friend who works with a ballet company, they're from the Snow Queen. Sit up here now, let me do this."
I watch our reflection in the mirror as Alice starts briskly curling and pinning my hair. Sometimes I do this when we're together, looking to see if there's anything about us that is the same. It's hard to imagine that once I was just a tiny little tadpole baby growing in her belly. I wonder if she ever thinks about it too.
"Did you know, I was exactly your age when your dad got married the first time?" Alice says, stepping back and eyeing me critically.
"Really?" I wince as Alice unpins half my hairstyle and starts redoing it.
"Yes, I was eleven and completely beside myself when Rosalie asked me to be a junior bridesmaid. My dress was pink, and completely encrusted with Swarovski crystals – it weighed a ton."
"It's still in the closet at Grandma's house; she let me try it on one day," I tell her. "It felt like I was wearing a bulletproof vest."
Alice laughs. "I loved it. I felt so grown up and beautiful, even next to Rosalie who basically eclipsed the stars with her exquisite bridal perfection!" She sighs a little. "It still seems rather surprising, when I remember that day, that today I'm going watch Emmett get married to someone else."
"But you think it's good, right?" I say a little anxiously. "Dad marrying Angie?"
"Oh yes!" Alice says emphatically. "I love the two of them together! I love the way they've found each other after so much sadness – I'm so glad they're going to get a happy ending. I'm also very glad that you and your sister and brothers are going to have a mommy again, and that Angie is going to be such a good one."
"I asked Dad if he and Angie were going to have a baby together and he said no," I say.
"Well, they probably have their hands full already with six of you," Alice says.
"I thought Angie might want to have another one, since her little boy died. But she said she's happy to be an adopted mom, like Grandma." I fiddle with my new love heart necklace. "I'm kind of glad. We have enough kids already, and I wouldn't want to have to share a room with Holly or a new baby."
Alice chuckles. "I don't blame you."
"Do you think you would ever like to have a baby?" I ask a little tentatively. "I mean, one that you keep."
"You make it sound like I gave you away on Craigslist," Alice makes a face at me in the mirror, and I can't help laughing.
"I didn't mean it like that!"
"I hope not! And in answer to your question, no. I'm perfectly satisfied with a life that doesn't include being a mother." Alice pauses for a moment, before she says cheerfully, "I am very, very glad that I had you though. As difficult as it was at the time, you're one of my very favourite people and I think the world is a far better place because you're in it!" She laughs and wraps her arms around me from behind, pressing her cheek against mine so that we're both looking at each other in the mirror. "Darling Daisy, I adore you. I love being your auntie and you know I'm always here for you...and I think your life with Emmett, with Rosalie and now Angela, is much better than anything I could have done for you. It takes more than love to be a good parent, and they all have what it takes."
I squeeze her arm. My adoption has never been a secret and we've talked about it or referred to it a lot over the years, but I realise that this is maybe the first time that Alice and I have ever talked about it in this kind of grown up way. I like feeling like she trusts me, and isn't treating me like a little kid.
Holly comes into my room and immediately zeroes in on Alice's cosmetics suitcase. "Can I have some?" She reaches for a palette full of neon eyeshadow colours. "This one? I'll look so, so beautiful…"
"Don't touch that!" Alice shrieks.
Holly stops dead, her lip quivering.
"Oh, I didn't mean to shout at you!" Alice swoops down and gives Holly a big hug. "But we don't want to get any make up on your beautiful dress before the ceremony! And you can't have any make up…Daddy will be so cross with me if I do that."
"But I want to look beautiful," Holly pouts. She touches Alice's cosmetics case with the very tip of her finger. "Please Alice, please…"
"If you promise not to touch anything while I finish doing Daisy's hair, I'll give you some lip gloss," Alice promises.
"And nails? Sparkly nails?" Holly bargains.
"Oh…yes, all right!" Alice comes back and picks up another hank of my hair. "Perhaps getting the three year old dressed first wasn't the best idea?" she muses. "I didn't know she wouldn't sit quietly and keep herself neat!"
Holly leans against my thighs and gazes at my face as Alice finishes pinning my hair and starts attaching the tiara. "You look like a princess, just like me," she says happily. "And Mommy has a sparkly crown too and a veil and her dress is all the way to the ground!"
"You are all beautiful," Alice says, stepping back and clapping her hands in satisfaction. "Daisy, you look divine. Let's get some make up and finish up."
I sit there with my eyes shut while Alice does my face. I wouldn't exactly say I look like a super glamorous movie star when she's done, but with my gorgeous dress and the make up and hairstyle and tiara I think I look prettier than I ever have before. Maybe even as pretty as Holly, who squeals with joy as Alice brushes some pale pink onto her nails and then swipes some shimmery stuff over her eyes. Then Alice holds Holly's wrists like handcuffs so she can't move her hands and mess up her polish, while I show Alice my gold medal and the two ribbons I won at the last gymnastics meet, and my book report on Tuck Everlasting that my teacher gave me an A for. Holly is telling us a long, boring story she's made up about our donkey Clementine and our cat Aslan when we Mac comes slouching into my room.
"Dad says are you done yet? The rest of the family is here now, and he wants to get started on taking photos?"
Alice flicks one of Holly's fingernails. "That's dry. We're all done."
Holly runs ahead of me out of my room and down the stairs. "Mommy!" she shouts. "Look, what Alice did!"
"Oh, so pretty!" Angie crouches down to give Holly a hug, smiling at me over her shoulder. "Daisy, you look so grown up and so lovely!"
"I think I know who is going the win the 'who wore it better' poll of bridesmaid dresses." Bella, who is Angie's other bridesmaid, grins at me. She's just being nice; our dresses are nearly the same, but I think it looks better on her because she's got boobs and I hardly have anything.
"Oh Bella, your tiara!" Alice turns and bolts up the stairs. "I'll just pin it into your hair! And Eliza sweetheart, I bought you some barrettes…"
She's back down in a second, with a matching tiara to mine and a mouthful of hairpins, and a handful of butterfly barrettes for my cousin Eliza. Alice gets busy working on their hair, while Holly skips and twirls to show Eliza her dress and the photographer, a lady with two giant cameras slung around her neck, keeps trying a little hopelessly to usher everyone towards the door.
"Everyone looks great, so if we could just move outside and get some family photos while we're all fresh? Please?"
"I thought the bride was supposed to be a secret from the groom before the wedding?" I ask, as Dad comes out of his room straightening his jacket and kisses Angie's neck.
"Traditionally, yes." Dad shrugs. "But it's just a superstition, and I don't think anything is going to lay some bad luck on this wedding…hey Anya?"
Angie touches Dad's face and they look at each other in a way that's so soppy I have to look away out of sheer embarrassment. Like, it's all very nice they're in love and having a wedding and I am very happy for them…but gosh, can't they just be a little less obvious about it sometimes?
"Besides, how long do you think Bram and Zeke are going to last looking clean and smart?" Dad adds, as there's a sudden crash from the little twins' bedroom and one of them screams. "Whatever you're doing, stop it!" he yells down the hall.
Bram and Zeke come out of their room and then I retie Zeke's shoelaces while Dad straightens their ties and tucks in both their shirts. Angie gets Noah to put down his book, and then we all go outside for photos.
The photographer takes a thousand photos, everyone by themselves and in all different groups. I have to smile until my face hurts, but I don't really mind. Not for this.
The guests start arriving, and while the photographer takes Dad and Angie away to do photos of just the two of them I help Grandma and Edward greet everyone and take them to where we've set all the chairs up. Everyone is happy and excited about the wedding and adoption, and I get a lot of hugs and congratulations. It's nice to have so many people telling me that I look beautiful for once, since usually people always just say it about Holly.
Finally though, it's time for the ceremony. Dad stands up on the porch and bellows at everyone to sit down, since he has the loudest voice, and everyone laughs. They laugh even more a minute later, as Holly waltzes down the aisle flinging her flower petals everywhere and Clementine trots right along behind her eating them all up. I walk next, along the aisle between the rows of chairs in our yard, then up the stairs to the back porch where Dad is already standing under the flower garland with the celebrant. Mac, Noah, Bram and Zeke are with him. Then comes Bella and Angela, and she really does look like an angel in her white dress and fancy crown and veil. Dad squeezes her hand as she climbs the steps to him, and Bella comes and stands by me. Then the celebrant clears his throat and starts the wedding.
The ceremony is just like on tv. All the bits about "gathered here to celebrate" and "to love and honour and cherish" and "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health" are all in it. And even though weddings are happy celebrations, there's certainly a lot of crying when Dad and Angie say their vows. When the celebrant announces that they're now married and can kiss, everyone stands up and applauds.
"Today we have watched Emmett and Angela say their vows and commit to sharing their lives with each other," the celebrant says, and everyone quickly takes their seats again. "But today is about more than their marriage union. Today is also about the very special act of making a family."
Every time we've practised this, Dad has said something different so I don't really know what to expect when he steps forward. "A very wise person once said to me, family is just about who really loves you," he says, and already I can see tears in his eyes. "I think that's true. Family is the people you choose, the people who will love you and laugh with you all your life, the people who will cheer you on as you fly and be there to catch you when you fall. Family is the people who walk with you in the dark and stand at your side as you face the sun. Family is where your heart is, and my heart is right here and it is full." His voice cracks, and for a moment he stops as he swipes a hand over his eyes. "But the other thing about love, and about family, is that there's always room for more. And today, my kids and I want to welcome another and make our family a little bit bigger again."
He grins, and reaches out to take Angela's hand. "You've been part of our lives for over three years now. You walked through the broken pieces, and your strength and kindness and love helped us heal. You opened your arms and your heart to us, and you made our family feel whole again…we love you Anya, and today we want to make it forever."
Angela is squeezing Dad's hand and, even though she's crying, I've never seen her smile so big.
"We want you to be our Mommy," Holly says, wrapping her arms around Angie.
The celebrant smiles at all of us. "We've got some special promises to make now, don't we kids?" He unrolls a big certificate. "The children and I worked on this together, and I'm going to read it on their behalf. Today they want to welcome Angela into their family with open hearts and full acceptance. They want to promise to love and honour her as their mother, to share their lives and their love with her from today and for all days. Kids?"
"Yes!" We all shout together.
"And Angela, do you promise to love Daisy, Mac, Noah, Bram, Zeke and Holly unconditionally and unreservedly? Do you promise to care for them, protect them and nurture them as their mother, from this day and for all days?"
"I promise," Angela says.
To make the adoption feel more real we all wanted to sign something, just like for the wedding part, so the celebrant made the certificate with the promises on it and space for all of us to sign. Angela goes first, which is kind of funny because she has to sign her new name of Angela Cullen and for a moment she forgets how she was going to write it. I get to go next and I do my signature like I've been practising, with fancy capital letters and the i dotted with a daisy flower. I get a bit annoyed that instead of his proper name, McCarty Edward, Mac just writes Mac Hale-Cullen, but Noah does it properly with his whole name. Bram knows the letters of his name but always puts them in the wrong order so he scrawls BARM, and then Zeke just does a giant zigzag scribble across the whole bottom of the page because that's how he thinks you're supposed to do the letter Z. Holly makes us wait for ages while she draws a cat face, which is her favourite thing to draw. She did this every time we practised and I didn't think she should be allowed to draw, but Dad and Angie said that since it's not a really real legal document that Holly should participate in the way that she can. And when it comes down to it and I look at all our mixed up signatures and scribbles and Holly's funny cat face with the crooked whiskers, I'm really glad that it's like that. Because this is who we are, right now in this moment, and I don't ever want to forget this.
"I love you all so much," Angela says, dropping down to her knees and holding out her arms. "And I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you all in my life, and how honoured I am that you've chosen me too. I promise that I will always do everything I can to live up to the trust you've placed in me and be the mother that you deserve. I love you…"
And even I don't feel stupid for crying a bit now, not when everyone else is and we're all hugging, and Angie kisses my forehead and calls me her daughter. I love that she's going to be my mother for real and for always. Because dad is right that family doesn't have to be blood, it can be the people you choose and the people you love and who love you, and that's just the way I want it.