Another Cullen Christmas
Edward and I were laying on our bed, simply holding each other, when the sun rose over Forks on Christmas morning. I had been sharing my thoughts with my husband, telling him of the gifts that Renesmee would receive and exalting over my newborn eyes finally returning to their normal topaz color. My year as a newborn was finally over and, hopefully, our troubles with it.
"She'll be awake soon." Edward said, pulling me closer as his voice smoother over me like crushed velvet.
"She's up now." I said, hearing her rustle in her sheets. We both got up and went down to the bedroom we had recently converted into a nursery. Our now one-year-old-but-eight-year-old-looking daughter was already trying ot sneak to the front room, where the tree glistened with its Alice-induced splendor.
"Mommy! It's Christmas!" Nessie (the nickname had begun to grow on me) exclaimed as she jumped into her father's arms.
"Yep! Let's go see what Santa left you, why don't we?" I asked, wrapping my arm around Edward's waist and kissing her little rosy cheek.
"Mommy." She scoffed. "Santa doesn't exist."
"Sure he does." Alice called out from the door, dancing over to our family. I smiled as she pulled her niece out of Edward's arms, Jasper closing the door behind her.
"Hey, Jazz. Missing the elf ear hat this Christmas?" I asked, grinning mischievously at his grimace.
"He burned it." Alice said, swinging her niece in the air. "So next year, we're ordering spares."
"Uncle Jasper, does Santa exist? Mom says he does." Nessie asked.
"Well, if vampires are real, why can't Santa be? I think he does." I smiled at my perceptive brother-in-law.
A loud thump resounded on the roof, and then a red-suited figure slid down the chimney. A bag filled with toys and a slim, red-and-white-clad person followed.
"Uncle Emmett! Aunt Rosie!" Renesmee called, recognizing the two insane vampires.
"Any particular reason that you couldn't use the door?" I asked in a deceptively sweet voice.
"We got permission from Santa to deliver these presents." Emmett said with glee.
"He does know Santa's not real, right?" I whispered to Rosalie so Nessie wouldn't hear me.
"I should hope so." She answered. "I never thought to ask."
"So, who are we still waiting for?" My older brother (at least in the eyes of the humans) asked, looking around.
"Not us, anymore." Carlisle said as he entered, a bag of gifts on his shoulder and his hand clasped in Esme's.
"Grandma! Grandpa!" Nessie squirmed until Alice released her, then ran to be scooped up by Esme. She had been spending a lot of time with both sets of her grandparents. At least the ones that lived in Forks.
"Or me." Jacob said, entering the cottage with a bag of his own.
"Wow, what a party." Charlie said as he entered behind the giant frame of the werewolf, a bag of his own in his hand. I groaned.
"What?" Edward smiled.
"She's going to be so spoiled by the end of the night. We're going to have to add another cottage to the back." I looked at Alice, who had that insane glint in her eyes again. "That was a figure of speech. Don't get any ideas." I pointed a finger at her.
"Don't worry, Bells. They're not all for Nessie." Charlie said as he leaned forward to kiss my cheek, something he did all the time now. I knew he was still trying to adjust to the temperature of my skin, and I appreciated the effort even as I grimaced.
"That means some of them are for me, doesn't it?"
"Bella." Alice warned. "Don't be difficult."
"I won't be. But I won't like it." I said, taking my daughter from Jacoba nd placing her on my lap as I sat on the floor in front of the massive pile of presents, one that grew even further as my family added their shares.
"That's all we ask." Alice said, playing Santa yet again and distributing presents to everyone. She motioned for Nessie and I to go first.
Of course, the little one tore into it like a Tasmanian devil. Revealed before her was a book, one with a picture of a pair of fangs on the cover. She had been reading almost non-stop now.
"Emmett." I rolled my eyes without looking at the tag. My box had a long length of black satin with two ribbons attached inside.
"Is this what I think it is?" I asked, my jaw hanging open.
Edward walked over and tied the ribbons under my chin. "Hmmm...I would say that it's a cape."
"Good. So long as I'm not overreacting." I said just before I leaped on my older brother with the sound of two boulders colliding.
Emmett just laughed in his booming voice and plunked me back down beside Renesmee, but held his side when I got in a good blow to the right side of his ribs. "At least I didn't get you more lingerie this year."
"If you had, then more than your ribs would hurt." I menaced before handing Renesmee a gift from her father and me. She opened it to find a gorgeous dress I had found over the internet (the only way I agreed to shop). It was blue velvet, with a white gossamer ribbon over the waist that hung clear to the floor. Its adjustable blue straps and long length assured that she would be able to wear it for a while, even at her advanced growing speed.
She looked at it, then at Edward and me, and smiled the largest grin I had ever sen on her tiny face before launching herself at us. "Thank you!" She cried, her face buried in my neck. It's beautiful."
"Hey! Squirt! You gonna get tearing, or what?" Emmett called.
"Okay, Uncle Emmie." She giggled, plopping herself down on his lap. "What next?"
The giving went on and on, until finally the wrapping paper was in trash bags and gifts were piled neatly by the fire. I snuggled with Edward on the couch while Jacob and Emmett helped Nessie open her toys and release them from their evil plastic wrappings. Charlie had left a while ago, kissing his granddaughter and me one more time and clasping Edward's hand. There were still a couple of gifts laying on the ground that had yet to be opened. They were from the Denali clan, and Edward and I had run up to Alaska to pick them up and drop off ours for them.
"Momma! Look what Aunt Kate and Uncle Garrett got me!" She held up a black book from her newly married aunt and uncle. On the inside there were pictures. Pictures that Kate had spent many hours taking during the scariest time of my life. There were pictures of me training with Kate (probably taken by Tanya), training with Zafrina, me sitting on top of Emmett with my legs crossed and a smile on my face after one of our wrestling/training matches, pictures of Edward and Nessie playing in the snow, and pictures of the giant snowball fight we had staged as a stress-reliever/training session. My favorite pictures, however, were the ones in the back.
There were two. One had Edward holding our daughter while I kissed her cheek, much as I had this morning. Underneath this picture was an inscription written in golden pen and Kate's beautiful calligraphy. "The Family" was curved and embellished.
The second was a picture taken by Leah (who refused to be in the picture) with ever single supernatural being who had turned up to support our family against the Volturi (except the people who fled, of course). It was moments after the battle, and we were all grinning like fools, wrapped around our mates and embracing our family. Relief had loosened our shoulders and most of us glittered in the sun. Zafrina and the other Amazons were embracing as though they had been separated for years, but still smiled at the camera. My family was all in a bundle on the ground, everyone in contact with everyone else, smiles from ear to ear. Or muzzle to ears, as Jacob was lying in front of Edward and I, Renesmee clinging to his hair while Edward and I kissed her. Kate and Garrett smiled, not at the camera, but at each other, a new beginning in their eyes. Carlisle and Esme smiled down at the bundle that was their children indulgently, arms wrapped around the others waist. The younger werewolves played in the snow in the corner of the picture, with the older ones basking in the winter sun.
Under this photograph was the inscription "The Whole Family" in the same elegant calligraphy. As I read, if I could have, I would have cried. Instead, I tugged Renesmee into my lap and hugged my family closer.
I opened my mind at Edward. 'I love you.' I told him as I kissed my daughter's cheek.
He squeezed my hand tightly and handed my a package. Inside was a photo album with more pictures, but this one was different. There were pictures drawn by Alice from her visions from before we had even met, drawings by Edward from our first meeting while he was trying to get me out of his head, drawings by Esme of me of the first time I heard Edward play. There were pictures of me as I slept, Edward and I holding hands and laughing in the hallway at school, Charlie and I watching TV (or he was, while I was reading a book). They were an entire history of my life as a human with these wonderful people, from before we met until the other day while I was cooking for my daughter. My human memories came back slowly as I looked at those pictures, some clearer than others, but none so clear as the proof that I had never been happier than in the presence of these people.
"Thank you." I said sincerely. Jasper, who had been leaning against the couch against my knees, reached back with the hand not entertwined with Alice's and squeezed my knee in a brotherly manner. My affectionate mood was apparently rubbing off on him.
"Wow, a present Bella didn't complain about receiving." Alice smiled up at me.
"This is the kind I like. The ones that people make and mean something." I smiled at my husband. "This is beautiful."
"Of course. It's full of pictures of you." He responded, kissing my cheek.
"Oh barf. Gag me with a spoon." Jacob said, smiling up at us so that we knew he didn't mean it.
"I'd love to." Rosalie responded, grinning malevolently. There was no love gained between them despite again being allies. At least there was no vehemence behind the death threat.
"Okay, honey. Go play with Dog Breath while I give your father his Christmas present." I said, handing my daughter over to my best friend.
"Ooooh. What're you guys gonna do? Play chess?" Emmett asked.
"Emmett...remember our deal?" I berated.
"But you're not a newborn anymore. I can take you."
"No time limit on the deal." I reminded him, nudging him with my toe as I passed.
"Come on, Bells. Even Alice and Jasper let me tease them." My older brother complained.
"They have more patience than I do." I answered. "Now, if you'll excuse us."
I led Edward out of the house by the hand and began running. Edward was still the fastest in the family, but I was a close third. Alice claimed second. The woods disappeared around us, caressing us with its velveteen branches.
I guided him to a spot I had found a few months ago while hunting with Alice. I stopped and turned to him, brushing his lips with my own. "I've been practicing." I said as I wished him Merry Christmas in my favorite way, opening my mind and letting him know my thoughts (or what was left of them) the whole time.