She awoke asking for her parents.
Their faces were her first thought, and in a moment they had bound up the stairs and were sitting on the edge of the large white bed.
She slept in the grand white house, in Carlisle and Esme's room. She missed their smell.
She would have slept in Rosalie and Emmett's room... but her uncle had locked himself in there, she didn't want to disturb him, no matter how much she craved her Aunt's rose-petal fragrance to trigger happier memories.
Edward shook his head when he saw what she wanted to know. Bella raised her eyebrow.
"You don't need to think of it ever again..."
"But I do." she said simply.
"Ness..." Bella tried.
Now she was shaking her head, and felt the threat of tears. "If I don't talk about it. If I just let it sit inside of me..." she shook her head again. "I don't know what will happen."
They couldn't argue with that.
"You and Jacob..." Edward murmured.
Jacob had told Sue and Seth. He said they couldn't have brought her body home... the truth was he didn't want to. He didn't want Sue to see Leah's blackened corpse, heavy with the venom. It wasn't long before Seth had seen though. Jacob had stayed in wolf form for two days now, intent on feeling every ounce of pain and loss that his pack experienced... Seth especially. The young wolf had seen his sister's death through Jacob's memories. Edward knew, from hearing Jacob's thoughts, that if there had been any way he could have saved the kid from having to see that... but there wasn't. So Jacob had remained linked to all of them. He wanted to know everything of their pain. But really, he was just punishing himself.
"What...?" Edward started to ask.
Renesmee closed her thoughts off to him, showing only a brick wall.
She wanted to say this out loud. Like there was healing in the words spoken...
"Marcus. Why did he turn on Aro?" Renesmee tucked her knees up, hugging them to her chest.
"Sulpicia." her father replied simply.
"What about her?"
"She was Marcus's mate, originally. Aro had Chelsea break the bonds between them."
"Oh." Renesmee breathed. So much she hadn't known at the time...
"I expect that family feud was a long time coming..."
"Chelsea..." Renesmee's thoughts had already skipped ahead.
Edward nodded once. "She was very powerful..."
Renesmee could feel the hot pin-pricks of threatening tears.
"I didn't think she could break the bonds of family though..." she murmured.
Renesmee sat in the middle of the large bed, Edward on one side. He reached out now, taking one of her hands and looking intently into her face.
"Because Alec kept giving you mild doses of the anesthesia. He had been doing the same thing to Marcus for decades... no wonder he always looked so..."
"What?!" Renesmee couldn't keep the pain and surprise from her voice.
"Alec." he replied simply.
She blinked back the tears. She wanted to talk about this, but she didn't want to think about Alec... she didn't know her feelings yet. Had she cared for him, just a little? Was it only Chelsea's doing? A combination of Alec and Chelsea's power? She didn't want to... thinking about Alec as something more than a monster was a conundrum she could push aside for another day. Or lock away in the deepest part of herself, to never think of again. Either way, not now.
Suddenly Bella had pulled herself up onto the bed, and was sitting next to her. She wrapped one cold arm around her daughter, and Renesmee leaned her head against her mother's solid stone shoulder, but kept her eyes on her father's face.
"Chelsea..." she started again.
She let the brick wall crumble as she showed her father. Replayed for him. The way she had smashed Chelsea's head against the stone floor.
"Why did I do that?" Renesmee asked.
Edward and Bella exchanged a look that Renesmee couldn't interpret.
"What?" she asked, pulling away from her mother slightly.
"Why do you think you did it?" Edward asked, slowly.
Renesmee shook her head. "I... I don't know..." she creased her brow and replayed the moment again and again. Turning around, knocking her down, fingers feeling the crushed skull...
Renesmee shook her head again. "I thought..." she began.
"Yes?" Edward urged.
"I thought I heard someone..."
This time Renesmee definitely noticed a look between her mother and father.
"What?!" She demanded, heat rising with her voice.
"I wasn't sure but I thought..." Edward's brow creased.
His head snapped up when he heard the quiver in her voice and saw her thoughts were tainted with anxiety.
In a flash he was on the other side of her, cradling her just as Bella had.
"When Jane started torturing your mother..." she felt him cringe, "...I thought I could hear you..." he stroked her cheek with a feather-light touch, looking down into her wet glassy eyes, her mother's eyes. "I saw what you were doing... I saw you reading Jane's thoughts and mimicking them back to her, I could see you reading her mind".
She hadn't remembered...
It came back to her. A flood of memory. She showed both of them. Her mother and father, showed them how she had held a mirror up to Jane's own twisted mind, used her power...
"My God." Bella breathed.
Bella reached a hand out to cup her daughter's face, turning it so she could look into her chocolate brown eyes.
"How?" she whispered to Renesmee, but Edward answered.
"Your very own version of fight or flight..." Edward murmured.
"What?" Bella and Renesmee both asked at once, turning to look at him.
"An acute stress response of the nervous system... your body was under such pressure, you became better equipped to defend yourself by having your power grow..." Edward murmured. He sounded like Carlisle, going off on medical jargon tangent. The comparison made mother and daughter both wince.
"But that isn't mine..." Renesmee whispered.
Bella kissed her forehead, "you are your father's daughter..." she whispered back.
Edward shook his head. "Perhaps it was always there, over time it may have grown... but you were thrown into a situation where your body needed something more to protect itself..."
Renesmee frowned, remembering. How many times had it happened? She thought she had heard Marcus, once. Alec too... and she heard her father telling her to kill Chelsea. Always during highly stressful moments.
She suddenly remembered her original question.
"I killed Chelsea because you told me to..." she said.
Edward stopped talking and looked down at her, giving a small nod. "I suddenly thought that if we could break the bonds she had formed..."
"That's why there was such chaos..." Renesmee murmured, "why they started fighting with us?"
"And against each other." Bella added.
"Even Renata turned against the family..." Edward said, "They were all held together so loosely. No real bonds, no real love..."
"Not like us." Renesmee ended.
She started crying then, let the tears spill out. She cried for what they had lost, and it all came back. She watched her father's thoughts, his memories. Saw what he saw as Demetri ripped into Esme, trying to get to Emmett... had ripped her to shreds. Carlisle and Emmett were too late when they finally... Renesmee choked on the tears, but they kept coming as the memories poured into her head. Carlisle had lifted Esme's broken body and walked with her in his arms, into the flames...
Bella and Edward were stroking her, cradling and rocking, humming soft words. It would do no good. She saw it all again and again.
"I'm sorry..." Edward whispered. "I'm sorry you have to see..." but he couldn't stop thinking it, and Renesmee couldn't help but see it.
This was apart of her now. She would have to live with it. Live with what she had done... what was sacrificed for her.
Jacob still wasn't back come twilight. When the sky turned purple and succumbed to the darkness...
Renesmee wandered out to the front porch, a pair of Emmett's dark denim jeans in her hand, deciding to wait for Jacob there. He hadn't spoken to her since they got back two days ago... but two days ago she hadn't been talking either.
She would ask him now, ask him to shift back so she could speak with him. Tell him things she couldn't tell her family. What he would do with the information, she didn't know. She could only hope that he would understand.
Emmett was there, sitting on the last step.
He looked so unnaturally small, folded in on himself.
Nobody had spoken to him since they got back.
Jasper and Edward didn't need to, to have some idea of what he was going through... but none of them could really know. No matter how much they knew his thoughts, felt his emotions. Jasper who was so attuned that he was also walking around like a broken man, folded in on the pain, admitted to not really being able to grasp the depth of Emmett's loss.
They heard him. In their room. The noise he made... it was an empty cry, calling for her.
Nobody had spoken to Emmett since they got back.
But he had spoken to Renesmee.
He came into Carlisle and Esme's room last night, while she was still drowsy with sleep, he had sat on the edge of her bed and reached for her hand.
She had curled away from him. She couldn't bring herself to look at him... all she could show him was how sorry she was. He had lost all that was dear to him, because of her... it would never be enough, but she kept showing him how sorry...
He had put a strong hand on her shoulder and pulled her to a sitting position. His eyes were hollow as they stared at her, but burned with an intensity she could not look away from...
"You were worth it!" he said in a low hiss.
Renesmee closed her eyes and felt the tears burning behind. She shook her head, but Emmett shook her right back, making her teeth rattle.
"Look at me, kid!" he snapped, and she did. God it hurt, but she opened her stinging eyes and looked at him...
"Rose always knew... always knew you were worth the fight. She sacrificed herself for you, knowing that you were worth it!"
"No!" Renesmee spat out.
Emmett slackened his grip, but kept a hold and kept looking into her eyes.
"Yes." he said, simply
He shook his head, "Love them, always. Miss them. Blame yourself all you want even though there's no point..." Emmett stopped shaking his head then, "...but never, never think for one second that Rose or any of us would have done any differently." he let go of her and slowly stood.
"Because she always knew..." he murmured, before turning and walking out of the room.
Now, looking at him folded in on himself as he sat on the bottom step... Renesmee wondered, as she had last night. Was Emmett capable? He was sad enough, felt empty and lost without Rosalie... but was he capable? Carlisle and her father had once said that there was not so many ways for vampires to kill themselves. So was Emmett capable? Could he walk into the flames as Carlisle had done...?
Renesmee walked the last few paces to the steps, and then sat down beside him.
She tentatively posed the worried question toward her uncle...
"Would if I could, kid..." Emmett didn't turn to look at her, but reached out and grabbed her hand, squeezing tight, "...But I promised Rose once that I would always look after you, and I can't very well do that if I'm dead." His voice had caught on her name, and his grip on Renesmee's hand slackened.
He slowly stood, looking off into the dark woods... and then he sprinted toward them. Gone in a second. Renesmee could hear the sound of him crashing through the trees into the deep darkness.
Suddenly Alice was sitting where Emmett had been a second ago. Renesmee hadn't noticed her, too intent on the spot in the clearing where Emmett's boulder form had disappeared...
"He won't want to hear it for some time..." Alice whispered, nodding toward the same clearing Renesmee was watching, listening to the trees falling. "...But I see someone in his future".
Renesmee turned and peered into Alice's face. Her seeing eyes were wide and serene as they looked into the distance...
Alice reached for Renesmee's hand and squeezed, cold on hot, she kept looking into the dark woods, kept listening to Emmett's torture.
"She'll be waiting for him, and when he is ready, he will find her..." Alice ended, and let Renesmee's hand drop.
Renesmee raised one eyebrow and sent a silent query Alice's way.
Alice shook her head in response, but then suddenly an image flashed in Renesmee's mind.
Blonde, tall, elegant, beautiful Tanya of the Delani clan...
Renesmee was taken aback by the clarity of her cousin's face as it appeared in her mind.
When the image of Tanya faded Renesmee saw that Alice was peering into her face curiously.
"You are your father's daughter..." she whispered, slowly.
Rensmee shook her head slightly.
"Jacob's coming..." Alice whispered, before Renesmee could say anything.
Alice's hands were cupping Renesmee's cheeks, and she quickly planted a kiss on her forehead. "Good to have you home..." Alice whispered, and then she stood and danced away, closing the front door behind her.
Renesmee looked back to the dark distance, and listened.
She smelt him first.
Wood-smoke, grass and dog... Jacob.
In a moment the large russett wolf was walking slowly forward. Renesmee saw two brown wolves, Embry and Quil, wait by the clearing, seeing Jacob safely home before turning and dashing back.
Renesmee stayed seated on the front steps, watching Jacob's slow approach.
Finally he came to sit, haunched before her. His large wolf eyes looking into her face. Neither of them moved, just stared. They hadn't spoken since she got home, not really. What was there to say?
"I'm sorry..." Renesmee whispered, and felt the first tear slide down.
Jacob cocked his large head to one side, ears pricked high, he made a low whining voice.
Renesmee sniffed. She showed him an image of his human self, and his large head gave a small nod.
A ripping sound ensued, and then Jacob was peering down at her.
She handed him the jeans and he slipped into them.
He didn't make a move, just stayed standing in front of her, looking down at her.
"I'm sorry..." she whispered again.
"I heard you." he said simply.
She let out a shaky breath. She expected this... he'd spent two days as a wolf. Listening to the packs thoughts. Listening to Seth, after he'd shown him Leah's death. The senseless brutality of it. All for her. Leah's death, all for her. He'd had to tell Sue and then see what Seth saw, his mother's catatonic state, rocking herself back and forth as the tears slid down...
She was expecting this. But it still hurt all the same.
"I don't know what to say..." Renesmee huffed, feeling the tears wet on her cheeks.
"I don't think there's anything..." Jacob started, and it cut her. It twisted in her gut and wrecked her insides.
She let out a low moan and doubled over on herself, clutching at her stomach, though she knew the pain was a little higher...
She shook her head, unable to stop the babble of words escape from her lips. "It's all my fault. They're all dead because of me... They were right, I am an abomination, I was always going to kill them, it was eight years in coming..." she couldn't stop now, it was too easy to let the words fall out. "My family. Your family. I have always hurt the people I love, it's who I am and now you all have to suffer because of it... oh God, oh God, oh God..."
And then she was on fire. Burning, searing, blistering...
He held her in his arms, and she burned.
Their heat burned her, melted them together, his arms around her a burning heat she couldn't escape...
"I'm so sorry!" she spat the words out, and when that wasn't enough, she showed him. Rosalie, Carlisle, Esme, Leah, Seth, Sue... showed him what she had to be sorry for.
And then she couldn't hear her own thoughts against his thunderous Alpha voice.
He was yelling at her, a deep thunderous thing rumbling from within in... he was yelling at her.
"NO! Listen to me, listen to me!" he roared.
He was shaking her, and she was forced to open her eyes and stop the images.
Suddenly his hands were stroking her face, willing her to focus on him.
"Ness, Ness listen to me..." he urged.
After a moment, when her cries were no more than a soft murmur, he talked, and she listened...
"This was never your fault. Never. Do you understand? Lord knows you are the daughter of Bella Swan and will never completely accept that, but its the truth..." his eyes were blazing, black and furious as he spoke. "I blame myself for Leah's death, and maybe that's not right either but it is what it is... the one person I can never, never blame though is you."
She opened her mouth, about to argue, but he didn't let her.
"You are loved Ness, deal with it. We all went through hell and back to keep you safe and we'd do it again in a heartbeat, even after all that we've lost..." his thumb absently stroked her cheek, "... because it's you, Ness. It's you. You're apart of us and we wouldn't have it any other way, we couldn't... we are all bound to you, and I don't care that you think that means we're all doomed and always have been. I just don't care, Ness. Because I know it's not true, and so do your family, so did Rose, Carlisle and Esme. God! They knew it! You are the best part of any of us... me, especially... and I can never be sorry for loving you, could never blame you..."
She stopped him then, with a kiss.
She reached her hands up, her fingers entwining in his hair, she pulled him to her and the flames consumed them.
Her lips parted and he groaned with her, his hands pressing against her back, pushing her against him...
When they parted, she put her head to his, and closed her eyes.
"I still don't know what to do." she whispered.
He pulled his head back and looked into her face, raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head slowly, "I was going to tell you that I'm sorry..." he opened his mouth, about to say something, but she brought her hand across his lips, clamping them shut. She continued; "...I was going to tell you that I'm sorry, for everything, and more... but I am really sorry because despite all that... Knowing that I am all wrong for you, because we will never have a happy ending. Things will never be easy for us, because all the old arguments still hold, Jake... you can't leave the pack, and we can't ask them to go on shifting and never aging when the people they love die..." Now he was really struggling, but she held firm and kept talking. "Despite all that... I love you. I want you. Forever. You and me, I want it... I nearly lost it, I nearly lost you... and I know I can't do without. I just know." She let her hand fall, but Jacob was silent.
She sighed, her shoulders lifting and falling with the effort. She looked down, avoiding his searing gaze. "So, I'm sorry... I won't give you up, even though I know it's the right thing to do..." she forced a smile, but it came out all wrong, "Guess I have even more in common with my dad..." she murmured.
She looked up then, and was surprised to see a small smile on his lips.
Suddenly, she was furious, and she let him know it... let him see it. After all that had happened? He was smiling? He really didn't have any idea what lay ahead of them? What sort of pain he was going to put the pack through...?
She opened her mouth, but now it was his turn. He reached up, and clamped his hand over her lips...
"I am leaving the La Push pack." She struggled, but he kept one arm around her waist and his hand firmly clamped down over her mouth, "I am going to let Embry step-up... I don't know what's going to happen to them once we all leave for Scotland, maybe there won't be any need for Embry to... but the point is, I am leaving the La Push pack. I am going with you, where ever you go."
He loosened his hand, and she pulled her head away to give him a quick, deep bite on the hand...
"Ouch!" he yelped, still smiling.
"So I am supposed to just watch you die over the next few years?..." she screamed.
Jacob shook his head.
"Then what? What do you want me to do, I can't leave my family, not now..."
Jacob kept shaking his head, and she stopped talking. There was something in his eyes, in his smile that stopped her from saying another word.
His arm tightened around her waist, and he kept peering into her chocolate eyes.
"I said, I am leaving the La Push pack..." he whispered.
"What?" Renesmee croaked.
"There's a new pack that needs an Alpha..." he continued.
The memory played at the edge of her conscious thoughts. Just on the tip of her tongue... a hazy memory, of Marcus. Marcus and... two heartbeats.
Before Renesmee had a chance to open her mouth Jacob placed a broad, hot hand against her still flat stomach, a huge grin splitting his face.
I was not left drifting. A new string held me where I was. Not one string, but a million. Not strings, but steel cables. A million steel cables all tying me to one thing - to the very center of the universe. I could see that now - how the universe swirled around this one point. I'd never seen the symmetry of the universe before, but now it was plain. The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood. It was the baby girl in the blond vampire's arms that held me here now. Renesmee.
- Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Chapter 18 'There are no words for this'. Page 360