Disclaimer: I own nothing but my copy of each Twilight book and the mini copy of the first book that I bought so I could read in class inconspicuously.
I leaned back against my husband's chest as the end credits to A Christmas Story flickered on the flatscreen in our family's living room.
It had been a lovely Christmas.
Renesmee had approached her second holiday season with unmarred enthusiasm, taking sheer joy not only in the anticipation of her own gifts, but in shopping for her aunts and uncles as well. This morning she had woken early, eager to get to her gifts and to see the reactions of those she loved as they opened theirs. Her enthusiasm spread through all of us, and we all laughed when Jasper reacted to his new sweater from Esme much as Nessie had to her new Barbie.
The "excited girl Jasper" squeal that Emmett recreated throughout the morning had gotten old quickly, though.
Charlie, Sue, and Billy had come over in the mid-afternoon, carrying piles of gifts (mostly addressed to Ness), to join in the festivities.
The humans ate dinner in the early evening and we settled in for a Christmas movie marathon. We had already been through four and Jacob was busily working to convince the rest of the family to watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians when I glanced down at my daughter.
Clad in her new princess gown, she rubbed furiously at her eyes with the heels of her hands. She clenched her jaw shut to conceal a yawn and blinked slowly as she pulled her hands away from her face. The clock, I noted, read 9:30, a full half-hour past Renesmee's usual bedtime. It made sense that she would be exhausted; she'd had a very full day and had woken two hours earlier than usual.
I nudged my husband and he grinned down at the little girl.
"Nessie? Love, it's time for you to go to bed." Nessie blinked up twice and shook her head,
"I don't wanna."
"It's bedtime, Ness," I prodded gently, "After bedtime, actually."
"I don't care." I blinked and narrowed my eyes in confusion,
"I said 'I. Don't. Care.' I wanna stay up." Her lips were set into an angry frown, and I wondered at my daughter's curious behavior. She had always been an agreeable child, and it was rare that she put up resistance to direct instruction.
"Ness, your mother and I said it's time for bed. Now say goodnight to everyone."
"No," she spat, her tone hard and determined; I recognized it immediately as a voice Edward and I had both adopted during our infrequent arguments.
Edward's golden eyes hardened, focused on the perfect mirror of his face scowling back at him.
"Renesmee Carlie, I'll give you to the count of three to say goodnight to everyone and make your way upstairs," Edward seemed oblivious to the uncomfortable shifting of our family around us, and he leaned forward on his knees to challenge our child, "One…"
"I'm not going!"
"Two and a half…" I felt a wave of calm wash over the room and glanced over to find Jasper staring intently at his niece. Edward shook his head and looked up at his brother,
"Jazz, I'd appreciate it if you didn't…" he paused for a moment, remembering the human company we were in and allowing his implied meaning to manifest, "right now. She needs to learn this one on her own."
Jasper nodded and settled back into his seat, and the feeling of ease pulled back. I saw the tears pool in Renesmee's chocolate brown eyes and knew that, had she not been acting so ridiculous, I'd have given in and let her stay up.
"Three…" Edward paused for a second, waiting for Nessie to begin her customary good nights. When she stomped her foot and clenched her jaw, making it apparent that she would do no such thing, Edward shut his eyes and exhaled in annoyance.
Then, swiftly and suddenly, Edward stood and scooped Nessie into his arms.
"Nessie says goodnight, everyone."
"No! No! Put me down! I don't wanna go! Let me go, daddy!" she protested as Edward carried her up the stairs.
"No," came Edward's soft voice, "You're behaving like a baby, so I'm going to treat you as such. I'm very disappointed in you."
Her choked wail was the only response.
I sank back into my seat on the sofa and shut my eyes tightly, still a bit flabbergasted at Renesmee's behavior. I realized that I was possibly being too still considering the human company we were in, but I made no effort to move until I felt Esme's gentle hand rest on my shoulder. I reached up to place my own hand over it.
"It's alright, dear. She was just tired," my mother-in-law squeezed my shoulder gently.
"I think that sometimes we forget that Renesmee, despite her remarkable growth and maturity, is still a child. And children have temper tantrums," Carlisle reminded me from somewhere across the room.
"She was irrational, Bella," Jasper chimed, "She was exhausted and her emotions were out of whack."
I shook my head to clear my thoughts, and felt my heart break even further as I heard Renesmee's now-muffled sob from upstairs. Charlie grinned at me sympathetically from across the room.
"She can throw one hell of a tantrum, Bells. Reminds me of you at her age- you never were one for fits, but if you wanted to, you made yourself heard."
I knew my family was trying to comfort me, but the words meant little. The image of tears running down Renesmee's face was burned into my mind, and the sound of her miserable sob was the only noise that held any resounding meaning at the moment.
I felt another squeeze at my shoulder and looked up to find Esme grinning at me sympathetically.
"Would you like to go check on her?"
I nodded slightly, and before I could truly comprehend what was happening, I was on my feet. I had to force myself to maintain a human speed as I climbed the stairs.
When I reached the door to Edward's old bedroom, I listened for a fraction of a second- long enough to hear Edward snicker, no doubt in reaction to the hurried footsteps he must have heard. Ignoring him, I pushed open the door and rushed inside to find Renesmee lying on her side, facing me as Edward rubbed lazy circles on her back. Her eyelids drooped and I could tell that she would be asleep within the moment.
I knelt next to my daughter and brushed a lock of hair out of her face before leaning over to place a gentle kiss on her cheek. She reached out and cupped her hand around my neck.
I'm sorry, Momma, she thought, I love you.
And with that, her eyes closed, and she drifted off to sleep.
Reviews are love.
I have three others of these either written or most of the way there, but I'm having trouble coming up with an idea for the fifth. I was thinking something with one (or a few) of Ness' aunts or uncles? Ideas are more than welcome :)