Author's Notes:

This story takes place between Book 2 and Book 3 of Breaking Dawn, starting from the point where Jacob leaves, believing Bella is dead (pages 355-378). The time where Bella is hovering near death, and then unaware of her surroundings, is retold here from Edward's point of view.

In Edward's words

A Changing Heart

She's not here anymore. The words flashed through Jacob's mind as his hands weakened, unable to fight for Bella's life any longer.

The hell she's not, my thoughts screamed in reply. She promised to keep her heart… our heart beating. I wasn't going to let her give up, even if he could.

"Go, then," I spat. Get away from her, you bastard. I slapped Jacob's hands away, barely registering the snap of his bones breaking. And he thought I was a traitor? I pressed against Bella's tired heart, forcing it to move the thick venom through her system.

Jacob stepped back, mindlessly turning toward the door, shrouding himself in premature mourning. And Bella had counted on him?

"She's not dead. She's going to be fine," I said as a dismissal. I won't let her die. I won't let us die.

"Bella, my love, stay with me, you have to fight," I whispered. Her heart didn't respond, and her lungs were deathly still. I stopped only to blow a fresh supply of oxygen into her chest. As my hand returned to encouraging her heart, the furnace in my throat raged. Her blood was everywhere, bathing her naked form, covering my hands, coating my lips. The scent and flavor that had drawn me so intensely before, didn't entice me any longer. The burn in my throat was not one of desire, but of the hell I was so close to entering.

"Bella, I love you; stay with me, please," I begged. Jacob's mind intruded again, as he remembered the horror he'd just witnessed. Was there nothing I could do to help her return to me?

I heard Jacob's thoughts crumbling… Maybe I was begging for the wrong things. Anything… I would do anything to keep her with me. "Bella, you promised Jacob you would keep your heart beating… he needs you. Please, you can do it."

Nothing. Bella's face was blue now, the face of death. The compressions had broken nearly all of her ribs, and the sound of her bones grinding together overpowered nearly everything else. No, she can't die! We can't die… and then I heard it.

A soft coo, and Rosalie's responding murmur. She is so beautiful, she thought. Our baby was content, the whispers of her thoughts focused on the cup at her lips. I should be comforted by that, by this new life. I'd held my daughter only for a moment, had felt her heart reach out to mine – but without Bella, there was no future for me. The cold reality was an ice dagger in my chest. Rosalie would have the daughter she always wanted, and I would perish with my wife, my love, hopefully consumed in the same flames that cremated this body – this beautiful body I had beaten to death with my own hands. The image of Bella's battered face filled Renesmee's mind, and my heart ached with her need for her mother. I tried one last time.

"Bella, you have to live for our daughter, she needs you most of all. Live for Renesmee."

Just as I caught Jacob's murderous thoughts and lifted my head, Bella's heart twitched against my pounding, bringing my life into focus for one instant. I continued the compressions, but felt another twitch, and then her heart began to beat on its own.

"Bella, you're doing it. One beat at a time, my love." My hands stilled, and I brought my face to hers. I felt the faint wisp of air being pulled into her mouth as she took a shallow breath, on her own. Prayers weren't something that graced my lips often, but the "Thank you" that escaped was exactly that.

I kissed her gently, the flavor turning my throat to charcoal as the enormity of the last minutes took hold in my chest. My head fell into her blood-soaked hair and I wept. Tearless sobs wracked through me, and I shook as I fought for some kind of control. She was alive, but had been so close to death… she had been dead.

Grief, love, fear, relief, anger, joy, regret… every emotion that existed exploded inside me all at once, crushing me. With every breath my chest heaved, the motion reminding me of how I'd forced her to overcome death; torn her from heaven as violently as if I'd ripped her heart out with my fingers. Could she forgive me… if she ever woke up?

"I'm sorry Bella. You didn't deserve this. I love you," I choked. Her heart picked up speed in response, chastising me, I knew. I could imagine her words…

It's you I don't deserve, she would say, with a blush. Another sob coursed through me, knowing the agony she must be enduring if she was ever going to speak again.

Please let this be the last pain I cause her.

Time and space were lost; for once the sound of other minds did not interrupt the emotional upheaval of my thoughts. Everything I was before was gone, there was nothing left. No logic, no thought, no ability; nothing. I existed only in the hyperactive beating of Bella's heart – our heart. I'd come so close to losing her… to killing her… and not with my monstrous thirst, but with my love. The pain ripped me again, burning nearly as hot as the fire she must be experiencing in her haunting silence.

- -

Eventually my awareness and control returned, and I finally lifted myself above my love, my existence. She was no longer blue, but still extremely pale. Even covered in blood she was beautiful, so peaceful with her eyes gently closed.

At the thought of peace, I panicked… surely the change had started, but there was no evidence of that. Even with her heart pounding in my ears I felt her arm for a pulse – did I do something wrong? Could she really be dead, the heart beat just an involuntary memory of a lifeless body?

Bella took a stronger breath then, and her heartbeat strengthened. I inhaled as well, but the relief was not as complete this time. The incineration that was my throat ached again, but I embraced it. "I'm burning with you, Bella, you're not alone," I whispered in her ear. How I wished I could take the pain she must be feeling upon myself. She's suffered enough already.

Her heart continued to strengthen, and I reached out for her cheek again, but stopped. My fingers were still crimson with her blood, dried on my hands and arms. The others would be returning soon, and wouldn't fare nearly as well as Rosalie had. Reluctantly I pulled myself to the temporary sink set up near the door and meticulously washed as if preparing for surgery.

Thankfully Carlisle, or perhaps Alice, had the foresight to leave several sets of scrubs next to the sink, and I quickly slipped a set on before tossing my blood soaked clothes in the fireplace. The flames burst to life, dancing happily over the fabric, eager for more. My eyes wandered around the room, finding more than enough fuel for the fire.

My gaze rested on Bella, and the rest of the carnage disappeared. Nothing else would be touched until I'd cared for her.

Slowly I washed her, torn between the fear caused by her frozen state and the relief that she didn't seem to be experiencing the torture that the change brought. Perhaps she'd been so close to death that the pain was delayed. Maybe she was in some sort of limbo between death and transition. As I carefully wiped away the stains, I cringed as red was removed only to reveal purple. Her bruises hadn't healed, and had in fact multiplied from the brutal CPR she was subjected to.

When I got to the bite mark that Renesmee had left, I stopped. Teeth… human babies weren't born with teeth, but it was evident that my daughter had a full set. I examined the red crescents closely, intrigued by the slowly healing injury. If venom had been applied to the bite, it would have vanished by now. Renesmee was a true mixture of human and vampire… and she wasn't poisonous. In what other ways would she surprise me?

Bella took another breath, and I worked my way up to her face. As I slowly wiped her blood stained cheeks, I couldn't resist kissing her. Her lips were still warm, her pulse a hummingbird's beat within. She didn't respond, and another chill radiated through me. I washed her hair, finally remembering that we were not alone in the house.

She is so perfect.

The sentiment stunned me because Rosalie wasn't the source. Jacob?

His thoughts were simple, and exceptionally clear. Are you cold, little one? Hungry? Such a strong grip you have.

What was going on? He'd been ready to kill my daughter – how long ago was that? – and now he was acting like she was his daughter? I listened to Rosalie's mind, and found even more confusion.

She reached out for him? Why would she want that putrid mutt? He'd better give her up or I'll rip his head off… I could see the cup in her hands as she prepared another meal of blood for Renesmee.

We're almost there, Edward, hang on. Carlisle's thoughts loudly cut in, announcing the return of the rest my family.

Finally, the help I needed. Bella remained gruesomely still on the table – I hoped that Carlisle could tell me if she was really going through the change. If she was really, truly alive.

I finished cleaning her abused body and covered her to the chin with a clean sheet. My mind buzzed with surprise and awe as each member of my family was introduced to my daughter. I picked up Bella's hand and held it to my cheek. "She has your eyes, my love," I whispered. The urge to be with Renesmee, to be the one holding her, showing her off, divided my attention, but as long as Bella suffered I couldn't pull myself away. This was another birth that I was responsible for, and I wouldn't let her bear this alone.

Carlisle's hand didn't startle me when it rested on my shoulder. You did it, son.

"Did I? She hasn't moved. Not a millimeter."

Have faith, Edward. You remember that it took time for the venom to permeate Esme's consciousness. There was so much damage, and the repairs had to be made before she could sense the pain. His mind filled with a horrific image of his wife, paralyzed, but moaning gently before the intense fire filled her. When the first screams sounded in his memory I winced with him, feeling the agony in his heart that mirrored the pain in her body. How would I make it through this?

And there was the morphine, maybe it really does work. But she is definitely alive, Edward. Be patient. I'll be with you. You are not alone.

She is alive, I told myself as I rubbed the back of her hand. Her heartbeat radiated through my fingers, and the gentle warmth, though fading, was still evident. Carlisle cleaned the room around me, filling the air with the sharp tang of bleach as Bella's heart ticked off the seconds. It beat quickly, rivaling the speed of Renesmee's tiny rhythm. The next days were going to be torture, and I steeled myself against the screams I knew were coming.

"Thank you, Carlisle, for everything."

We all love her, and you.

He finished cleaning in silence, his mind focused on the image of the baby suckling downstairs. Renesmee was the center of attention; Bella would call her dazzling. I smiled, remembering how I'd been dazzled by her face; her brown eyes an exact duplicate of her mother's. Of course they loved her, how could they not?

So this is what it's like, finding the one you'd die for. The thought was so intense, so forceful that my head whipped around to the door. It was partnered with the image of Renesmee cradled in Esme's arms. I recognized the feeling in many ways. Bella evoked the same reaction in me, so long ago, but this was more basic, more animalistic. More wolf-like.

"No, he didn't…" The words came out as a snarl. I'd been so focused on Bella that I'd missed the excitement downstairs.

Edward, what's wrong? Carlisle thought innocently. I looked at him and clenched my jaw. He'd become quite adept at hiding his thoughts, it seemed.

"Tell me, Carlisle – there's no use hiding any more."

His golden eyes didn't waver, but I heard him weigh the decision before responding. "It appears that Renesmee has had a profound impact on every member of our family. Including Jacob."

Carlisle didn't speak to me without a reason, and the sound of his voice silenced everyone downstairs. They all knew, and their thoughts washed over me like a heavy rain.

He's so gentle, she is perfectly safe.

I'll hold him for you, Edward. You can pulverize him.

If you'd thrown the dog out days ago, we wouldn't have this problem.

She adores him. Not like she loves you or Bella, but she cares for him, wants to protect him.

I can't see a damn thing, they are both blank to me.

I couldn't help it, you know that, Edward. I only want to protect her, that's all. You've read Quil's mind, you understand how imprinting works.

And one last tiny thought. Mine.

I'd barely held her, and now my baby, our baby, was focused on Jacob Black. Bella's hand fell from mine so that I could press my fists into my eyes. When would things get easier? Would they ever? This was too much. I'd fought so hard for Bella, and now I had to fight for my own daughter? This must be the hell I'd earned, to be so close to everything I could ever want, only to have it ripped away before I could reach it.

"Renesmee…" I moaned.

She must have heard me, because her tiny word vanished and was replaced by the memory of my face, staring with wonder into hers. The word repeated as I watched my lips say it to her, seconds after she was born. Renesmee. The memory was filled with such love that I gasped. Love only for me.

"Let's go see Daddy," Esme said, confusing me. My daughter hadn't spoken, yet Esme heard her? I looked at Carlisle.

"Carlisle, what the hell is going on? Jacob has…" The word vanished, but Carlisle nodded minutely, and I swallowed. Bella's breathing slowed, distracting me for a split second, and I put Jacob out of my mind. "And Esme can read minds now?"

He just smiled. No, she can't. Your daughter, my granddaughter, his smile widened, has an amazing talent. You'll see.

A talent? Before I could consider his statement, Esme came in and brought Renesmee to me.

"She is so beautiful, she looks just like you, Edward," she said warmly as she put the tiny bundle in my arms. My daughter.

Her eyes were exactly Bella's, so deep and warm, and I couldn't help but remember the first time I'd seen such loveliness, in a cafeteria of all places. Renesmee's face was not Bella's, and though I couldn't see myself in it, her countenance was eerily familiar. I recognized the color of her hair as mine, and ran a finger through her soft curls.

Her eyes didn't leave me, and as my hand caressed her perfect cheek, I was rewarded with a strawberry blush, and a smile. I love you, Daddy.

"She smiled. Oh Edward, that's her first smile, just for you." Esme's voice wavered, and I could hear the joy that would have given her tears. A murmur of awe, and a little jealousy, rippled through the minds downstairs, but nothing specific registered. I was holding Renesmee, our child.

"Hello, my sweet daughter. I love you too." As the words left my lips a lump filled my throat, as if trying to add more strength to the words. Her scent was sweet with human blood and vampire perfume, but there was no desire, no thirst burning my throat. I'd helped create this life, this perfect baby girl, and could never conceive of hurting her. She affected my… being… so deeply that words failed me.

Renesmee wiggled in her wraps, and her hand reached up for my face. Momma, she thought, and images passed through her mind of Bella's blood streaked face. When her hand touched my skin, the same pattern repeated.

I moved her tiny fingers to my lips, kissing them lightly, and the lump grew. "Momma's alright, my sweet. She'll hold you later." My mouth unwillingly creased in a weak smile, and Renesmee was unconvinced.

She twisted around, amazingly strong for a barely-born infant, and turned to Esme. Her hand pulled away from mine and she reached for her grandmother.

My heart ached as I realized she wanted Esme, and I prepared to pass her back.

"No, Edward, she doesn't want me to hold her, she wants to tell me something," Esme said. She leaned her face down to my daughter, who touched it just like she had touched me. The same word, Momma, accompanied by the same images, appeared in her mind again, and I watched in amazement as Esme answered her question. "She's just fine, my dear, don't worry. Daddy is right, she'll hold you after she wakes up."

Renesmee has the ability to put her memories into another's head with her touch, Edward, Carlisle thought.

"Uh…" Words eluded me again.

I'm going to give Bella a quick exam, alright Edward? Taking advantage of my stunned distraction, Carlisle lifted the sheet covering Bella gingerly. I nodded numbly, and Esme stood close, blocking Renesmee's view of her mother.

Esme looked into my daughter's eyes. "Daddy is special too, Renesmee. You don't have to touch Daddy to tell him your thoughts, sweetheart. He hears how much you love him every time you think it."

The infant in my arms watched her grandmother with clear comprehension before gazing up at me. I love you, Daddy, she thought with her tiny mental voice.

"I know, my sweet, I know." I pulled her face to my lips and kissed her cheeks, then her forehead. My eyes closed, savoring the warmth of her skin against mine, and the contented sigh her mind made as I did.

Bella is doing well, Edward. Her bruises are nearly gone, so the venom seems to be working. We just have to wait. Carlisle came to stand next to me as I raised my head from my daughter's. Her eyes were drooping, and fear raced through me.

"Carlisle, is she…"

Sleepy, Edward. He smiled at me, patting my shoulder, calming me. The human traits she exhibits are quite remarkable.

"She's one of a kind, just like her mother," I said, my chest warming when she smiled again at the sound of my voice.

"We'll come check on you in a little while," Esme said, stepping toward the door.

I looked back at Bella who was still perfectly motionless, her dark hair draped gracefully over one shoulder.

"Call if there is any problem," Carlisle added, glancing toward Bella before holding the door open for his wife. I heard him fielding questions once he reached the family room, including concerns about Renesmee. Luckily Jacob didn't press the issue. This is my daughter, not his.

Renesmee yawned, and her eyes closed for a long blink. Memories of holding a sleepy, human Bella under her tattered quilt ghosted by, and without thinking, I started rocking. The music came next, automatically pouring from my throat. Renesmee's eyes opened wider for a moment, entranced with the sound and I stopped.

More Daddy?

"All right, but close your eyes, my precious." I smiled, and she mirrored my expression as I began again. Bella's lullaby became Renesmee's lullaby. Her breathing slowed, but deepened as she drifted to sleep, and I watched her dreams begin to unfold. It seemed so easy to block out everyone else's thoughts with our baby in my arms.

Still rocking, I moved closer to Bella. "She's amazing, my love, I can't wait for you to see her." A stab of guilt pierced me as I realized that it would be a long time before Bella could hold our daughter. A newborn vampire had no sense of control, and even if Bella some how avoided draining the blood from this precious life, she could so easily crush our baby just by hugging her. Renesmee was clearly stronger and tougher than a human, but still not fully vampire. She would be in danger until Bella got control – months from now.

My face passed through Renesmee's dreams, and a new reality set in. I'm a father…

In all my years, I never considered that I would be in this position. Of course I never imagined I would find someone as amazing as Bella, so I shouldn't be surprised that her miracle would extend to the baby girl snoozing in my arms. The completeness that Renesmee brought was staggering. She fulfilled a need I didn't know I had, and expanded a love that was already infinite.

Renesmee existed because of the unending love I feel for Bella – a living, amazingly breathing, tangible result of that love. My heart responded in kind, expanding to encompass this new life when I thought it had already been filled to overflowing. The realization left me paralyzed as I tried to define something so boundless. I began breathing again when I found the one boundary that could possibly haunt forever. One brown-haired beauty slept in my arms, another lie just as still on the table before me. God help me should I ever have to choose between them.

I barely noticed Alice enter, I was so engrossed in memorizing every detail of our beautiful baby's face as she slept in my arms. When my sister breezed past me without a glance, she got my attention. "Alice, what are you doing?"

"Dressing your wife… something you neglected to do," she said sharply. He never thinks twice about what she wears until he sees it on her. Like the clothes just materialize on her body…

I started to groan, but the distressed look on Alice's face stopped me. Had the future told her something? "What's wrong now, Alice?" I braced myself, refusing to imagine what else we would be forced to endure today.

"Your daughter is still unreadable, and having her here makes it impossible for me to see how Bella will awaken, so don't even ask," she grumbled. "But I think I know her well enough to predict that she wouldn't want to be stark naked when she does open her eyes."

My jaw relaxed; I'd inadvertently been gritting my teeth. "I'm sure your right, Alice. Thank you." She drew a long dress out of the garment bag she'd brought. "Be gentle, Bella's spine…" My voice became a croak, unable to continue as sound of Bella's back snapping echoed in my memory.

"I will, Edward. Try not to worry."

Bella's face with golden eyes appeared in Alice's mind – a picture she'd seen on and off for two years now – and my fears subsided for the moment. The perfect baby in my arms took a deep breath, and I watched her sleep, just as entranced as I was when I watched her mother sleep. Renesmee's forehead creased as she dreamed about Rosalie whisking her away from Bella. I held her close, humming again, and the fear in her mind faded.

Alice paused, staring at me. "I could never have foreseen this," she said softly.

I met her gaze, and was surprised to see her face relaxed and smiling. "No, Renesmee is a miracle that defies prediction."

"True, but that's not what I meant." She finished buckling dangerously high heels on Bella, then stood in front of me, resting her hand on her niece's curls. "You. I could never have predicted that you would want to be a father if you had the chance. You have changed again, Edward, and it's lovely." Her hand moved to my arm and she gave it a squeeze.

"I had no idea… no one is more surprised than I am." I glanced at Bella. "She knew, though."

"It'll all be fine, you'll see. I'll come back later when Renesmee is back downstairs and check on Bella. Then you can find some clothes," she looked meaningfully at my pale green attire.

Alice slipped out the door before I could respond, but I knew better than to argue. As I picked up Bella's hand again and held it next to my sleeping daughter's face, I found many other things to occupy my thoughts, including imagining Bella's reaction to the stilettos that she was now wearing.

- -

Too soon our sweet baby stretched, and her lovely eyes fluttered open. In the time she was sleeping I watched her hair, her fingernails as they grew. Even her fingers themselves were longer and thinner. By the time Carlisle and Esme returned I was panicked again.

"She's hungry," I said quietly as I passed Renesmee to her grandmother.

"Carlisle, she's…" I hesitated, not sure if I should voice my concern as the murmuring below quieted. I glanced at Esme's back as she left, fawning over Renesmee. "She's so big," I finished.

Carlisle's eyes darkened. She's growing at an amazing rate. I've noticed. I'd like to track her growth, if I may. I nodded solemnly. It's too early to know what will happen Edward, please try not to worry.

I sighed. Too late, I thought, glad he couldn't hear me. He would quantify the amount, but I knew from my own observations that growth like Renesmee's couldn't be sustained for long. Would she only have years, instead of decades, flashing through her unique existence in the blink of an eye? I reached for Bella's hand again, trying to push away the worry that was destined to be my constant companion. When she woke she may not even remember our daughter. Would she get control in time to know her… before Renesmee grew up… before Jacob took her away?

I stroked Bella's cheek, getting no reaction. Here I was worrying about Bella's control, when I didn't even know if she'd ever wake up. I took a deep breath, trying to find some modicum of calm in the chaos that had become my life. The scent of her blood was still strong, laced with morphine, and a new, sweet highlight. The freesia and lavender were joined with a sugary aroma… honey? My scent had a honey component – both Esme and Rosalie had commented on it when they'd woken from their transitions. I'd marked her… Now I understood why Bella had been so insistent on having me infect her.

Mmmm, the new flavor settled in my throat, actually chilling the fire a miniscule amount, and I finally allowed myself to believe that there would be a happy ending to this disastrous chain of events. Bella had been right again. We would be together forever.

Please come back to me, my love… I thought as I prepared to welcome Bella into our immortal world. We'd made it through hell, and now heaven was waiting.