Well it's been fun folks. I'm happy to see this story at its resolution but also very sad. I will miss you all and your wonderful reviews! But if any of you wish to keep in touch don't be shy and let me know. I'll give you my email. There's no such thing as too many people to talk to!
"How about now?" He laughed; that wonderful sound that would never be anything but youthful and pure to my ears, a laugh so deep it sent a tremor through the mattress beneath us.
He shook his head as he had done many times over the past couple of days,
"Nope. Still no." I sighed, rolled my head back over and shut my eyes. My nerves were irrational. They spouted from nothing …yet everything.
"I don't understand you. It's not natural." He laughed again, and it made me smile.
"Natural? Oh God, that's rich." I smiled wider, he had a point.
"Surely more reason to be nervous. This isn't exactly normal …what's about to happen," I still, despite myself, struggled to call what was about to happen as exactly what it was, "doesn't that scare you a little?"
"You're clutching at straws now." He was right. This felt more natural than anything in the world. It was wonderful and beautiful and magnificent. So much so I wanted to cry. But it was still scary and still took my stomach and wrung it with nerves.
"I know. I know I am believe me, I think …I think I'm just trying to save myself from going crazy. I can't put my finger on what's making me feel like this. I really don't know." I felt him roll over onto his side to face me, I rolled my head to meet his and opened my eyes; slowly, for I knew what they would meet would send a little shock through my spine.
Sonny's wide, emerald eyes gazed down into mine.
I focused on them, those which would never change while everything around them seemed to so quickly. It had been seven months; nothing, a drop in the ocean of time since my little brother had sat up in his hospital bed and wiped tears from my eyes.
Every day since seemed to change him in ways I was helpless to stop.
Far from the physical; the filling out that encompassed his tall frame once he was recovered, the new teeth that had broke through the very back of his gums and caused him to moan and writhe for days, and the goddamn facial hair that I would plead with him to clear on a now almost daily bases… far from that he in his very nature had changed.
Sonny had grown. He'd had to.
Seeing Oz almost disappear down the path of despair that he did would do that. Trying to understand the new vacancy that lurked behind Brice's eyes now would do that. What was about to happen in just thirty minutes would do that.
Thirty minutes. I swallowed hard.
Sonny smiled and with it lines appeared across his face. Lines which were gone as fast as they appeared but ones that scared me nonetheless.
He lifted the hand that was not scrunched into a fist supporting his head and ran the fingers across the scar above his right eye. He touched it a lot when he was thinking, ran his fingers over one of the only two traces of Victor's assault on him. The other; a loud snap he could coax from his arm when he moved it a particular way was more discouraged.
"I'm not scared." He bent his bottom lip as he said it and stared forward, his fingers still tickling the pale, silver scar. "Not even a little bit. I've never wanted anything more than I've wanted this. I don't want anything but this." His eyes met mine again and a wide smile spread across his face, "Forever and ever."
I smiled, swallowing the thought that he would never have that long.
"And I don't want you to be scared." He dropped his hand, fluffing the shoulders of my dress playfully. "I want you to have fun today. So much fun! You deserve it. And as for the long term … well you deserve it then too. We all do." He trailed off, and his fingers returned to the line above his eyes.
I breathed deep,
"He'd be so proud of you, y'know." Sonny's eyes shot up,
"You think?" Alvar wasn't an easy subject. Not with anyone else at least.
Less than a year since he was taken from us it was still raw amongst the others, that much was painfully obvious. But from day one Sonny and I were as we had always been; utterly open.
"I know. Because I am, and Oz is." Sonny sighed, returned to tickling the silky sleeves of my dress. "You're doing what they always wanted you to do. You're living your life and you're happy. Alvar would have loved that."
Sonny smiled sincerely and nodded.
I smelled them in the corridor and took a deep breath. With each of their approaching footsteps the clock on the bedside ticked louder. The time was almost here.
Sonny didn't hear them until three short knocks fell upon the door.
"Come in." I murmured.
"Oh for the love of God, Renesmee! Do you have a death wish!" Sonny laughed as Cora shot towards the bed, "Get up this instant! You crease that dress and there'll be hell to pay and you know it." I groaned as her hands seized mine and pulled me to my feet. He continued to chuckle as she span me around, slapping at my dress franticly to beat out any folds.
"Cora, quit it! It'll be fine." She rose before me and sighed. I couldn't help but smile as her face met mine. Her wild hair had been tamed and pinned loosely in an ordered mass of waves. At the back a big white carnation was pinned into the bun and she wore a long, loose blue dress.
"You look beautiful." She scowled and I just smiled wider. "Cora I promise, my dress is fine. No creases …look. I promise this wonderful day won't be spoiled by the oh so tragic occurrence of any dishevelment on my part." Sonny snorted on the bed.
"You know it's not me you should be worried about." Behind her Oz, who had entered behind her with Brice barked,
"Sha, it's the goddamn Nuptial Nazi who'll be out for your throat if you get in a mess."
Cora rolled her eyes and turned to him,
"Oscar, what have I told you about calling her that." He shrugged as she moved towards him,
"What?I stopped saying it to her face. Isn't that enough?" I couldn't see Cora's expression, but when Oz's face fell into one of a restrained smile I assumed she'd let is gently slide.
Brice smiled and snaked his arm around Cora's waist, pulling her to him.
We were all silent.
My eyes travelled each of them. Sonny stayed on the bed, chewing his bottom lip and starring blankly.
Not nervous, my ass.
Cora and Brice swayed gently together in the corner, his head on her shoulder as they each watched him.
Oz was against the wall, looking quite blank.
I sighed and skipped forward,
"You did it wrong, Jackass." He squirmed when I reached for his neck, pulling at the thing he'd complained about for weeks.
"Argh, leave it, Smee. I hate this goddamn thing." I rolled my eyes, pulling the piece of thin blue material from around him and running it through my fingers.
"Now, now. You wouldn't want you-know-who on your case now would you?"
His eyes rolled to mine quickly before he growled,
Trust Aunt Alice to strike fear into Oscar.
I smiled as I pulled up his collar and re-did the bowtie slowly and carefully. When it was done I clapped my hands gently against his chest.
"There." He squirmed, put his finger inside his collar and tugged. "Ah, ah, ah! No, Oz."
"But it's uncomfortable!"
"So are these ridiculous shoes but I'm not complaining. You can take it off later I promise, but for now, Oz, just play along." Sonny rose from the bed and strolled over.
"Yeah, Oz. For me?" Oscar growled and Sonny smiled. He didn't touch the bowtie again.
I took a step back and looked at them all. My heart swelled at the sight, at what was about to happen, about where we were and what we'd been through the past few months, what they'd come through and endured. For me.
With the sound of familiar footsteps approaching I released a deep, shaky breath.
Cora smiled, her eyes soft as she took me in.
Jake's head poked around the doorframe.
"Are we ready to get this show on the road?"
None of us responded, we just looked at each other for a moment before Brice took a deep breath.
"I suppose we are." He took Cora's arm and began to lead her from room; she leaned over to me first and kissed my forehead.
"You're so beautiful, Renesmee. We're going to have fun tonight." I smiled and released a breath. I hoped so. Brice shot me a wink as they passed Jacob and started down the corridor.
Sonny clapped his hands together,
"Come on, big brother. I guess it's time." Sonny threw his arms around me and hugged me close. He sighed, his head dropping against mine as his arms lingered around my back and I moved mine to his neck and squeezed.
I pulled away and straightened his already immaculate collar. His wide, emerald eyes watched my fingers go and smiled. I looked up at them and we both grinned.
"So I guess I'll see you at the top, Smee."
"Yup. That is if you haven't passed out by then."
"Don't you worry about me, you just try not to fall on your ass when all those people are watching you walk."
"Oh, I'm sure I'll manage." I giggled, "And you just try to keep a grasp of the English language, yeah? Remember all those words you have to say in front of all those people." I smiled as Sonny's eyes closed tight and his lips moved quickly, repeating each of the short sentences I'd helped him rehearse. "Sonny?" His eyes opened. "You'll be fine." He grinned and I leaned up and kissed his cheek, pushing him away. He turned away grinning and patting Oz's shoulder as he passed him and nodding at Jake who still lingered in the doorway.
Without saying anything Oscar went to follow his little brother, but I caught his hand before he could. He turned, looking down at where our hands were now joined instead of up at me. "And you will be too."
He looked up then, staring quietly. He smiled, it was only little and it wasn't quite sure; but it felt sincere.
Then, without saying anything he turned and left along with Sonny.
I stood and surveyed the room which suddenly felt so empty.
"You okay?" Jake leaned against the doorframe, his hands pushed into his pockets.
"I think so." He came towards me, wrapping his arms around my waste as mine came to his shoulders. "Yes."
"Nervous?" His warm breath tickled my face and I smiled.
"Yes." He chuckled,
"It will be interesting, even if nothing dramatic happens …just to look at it …" He continued to smirk, "everyone in the same marquee. Are we sure it's big enough?"
"Oh, Jacob I don't think one even exists that is big enough!" I smiled, for an event with a purposefully limited attendance it was going to feel quite crowded.
"It'll be fine. Everyone will be on their best behaviour I'm sure, and even those who …well, even those whose best behaviour isn't something to be thrilled about I'm sure will do great. They'll have me to deal with if they don't." I tried to smile as some of the more tumultuous moments of recent months passed across my memory. Yes, they had been difficult, but they could have been so much worse. "And if it's what Sonny said you're worried about …about you falling on your ass in front of everybody…" I laughed. Well, this dress was a little difficult to manoeuvre. "Just remember who'll be beside you, whose arm yours will be in." I smiled up at Jacob, my fingers winding through his hair,
"You won't let me fall."
Leah and Sonny were married on La Push beach as the red sun sank into the sea.
Whatever fear I had was washed away as they became husband and wife. Brice sat with his arm through Cora's, grinning proudly. Oz stood close beside me, his face almost expressionless as he held his looming position as best man.
Jacob watched me throughout, sat on the front row beside Seth, who'd proudly given his sister away.
Directly behind him was my Mother.
I'd almost pulverised the bouquet in my hands as I'd walked up the isle and saw her peering at me, my Father watching over her shoulder. I'd squeezed it so tight to keep from crying when I saw the love in her eyes.
My Grandparents were beside my Father, with Jasper and Alice and Rose and Emmett filling the row directly behind.
Naturally the guest list had been very strict. Only those who would not be completely shocked by the unaltered appearance of the Cullens were permitted.
As Sonny and Leah exchanged rings I glanced over at Charlie. He sat on the end of the front row besides Sue. He looked healthy and happy, they both did, and warm tears filled my eyes at the sight of them.
I ached with pride as Sonny spoke his vows clearly, confidently, and with the most sincere and unfaltering smile I had ever seen.
The minister spoke his final lines and as Sonny and Leah kissed the sound of applause and cheers spilled from the rows of people. I looked across at them all and met the eyes of my parents. They both smiled up at me as my lower lip crumpled and the warms tears began to stream down my cheeks. Oz tapped my shoulder gently and when I turned to him he pulled a tissue from his inside pocket,
"I figured you might need this." I took it and smiled, just as the claps fell quiet and one loud 'Whoo!' broke over them. Emmett.
I turned to see him punch his fist in the air and shout,
"It's party time!"
The marquee had been erected not far from the beach. By some miracle, Alice had located an expanse flat enough amidst a rocky cove and had the huge tent put up. A path of gentle, golden candles guided the way to its entrance. I passed through the opening and smiled, shaking my head.
My Aunt always was one for surpassing expectations.
Gentle music floated over the hum of the conversation of everyone who'd entered before me. Three gold chandeliers hung in a precise formation alone the highest point of the pointed ceiling. The tent walls were draped with lines of pale gold silk that matched exactly the dress Leah's two other bridesmaids and I wore. Around the room were round tables adorned with crisp, white sheets and centrepieces that held the same glorious flowers that were spread about the rest of the room and exploded at my senses.
"Nessie!" I grinned as Alice rushed towards me, Jasper following slowly behind. She seized my hands. "Well? Is it alright?" She buzzed before me, squeezing my hands for an answer.
"Alice, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"Really!" I gave her hands a returning squeeze and she smiled gently. "It's not like you to be so anxious. It isn't like you haven't organised anything like this before."
"I know, I know." She bit her bottom lip. "It's just not being able to see anything is so frustrating. All these wolves! I have no idea if it's all going to go alright, if we have enough food!" I leaned my head back to observe the set of tables that lined the farthest wall. Each of them piled high with the most glorious looking selections.
"Alice, trust me, there's more than enough, regardless of the appetites of some of our shape-shifter guests." She smiled and I pinched her chin.
"Wonderful," exclaimed Jasper with a smile "that's just wonderful. I've been telling you for days how perfect everything is and it's made little difference. Yet a few words from Renesmee and I find you completely calmed." Alice giggled and placed her hand on his chest.
"It's all about taste, Jazz. And I'm afraid I have more faith in Nessie's than I do yours." Jasper's mouth fell open,
"I'm insulted! You owe me a dance for that remark, Alice Cullen." My aunt giggled as her husband seized her around the waist, both of them saying bye to me as they went towards the dancefloor.
I watched them go as others also descended on the open space at the room's centre. Beyond them Brice had taken Sue's arm and they were ascending the steps to the small stage that had been set up. I smirked at the sight of the wolf matriarch of Fork's walking arm-in-arm with a vampire.
They both took centre stage as the guests moved closer. I stuck where I was, from there I could see everyone.
"I promise we won't take much of your time," Brice spoke clearly over the people who fell silent to listen to him. "but on behalf of Sue and myself I would like to say just a few short words to mark this occasion." Sue just smiled and from where I was I could see the glistening trail making its way slowly down her cheek. Brice looked at her with a smile and continued. "We are of course, all here to mark the union of two people very much loved; Sonny and Leah." He extended his arm in the direction Leah and Sonny stood, at the centre of the crowd assembled before the stage. Everyone clapped. "But more than that, tonight we celebrate the union of each and every one of us. Be you human, shape-shifter or vampire you come here tonight in the celebration of love; one thing that unites us all eternally. The vampires and shape-shifters of Forks have, I have learned, stood side by side before, and though under vastly different circumstances it showed that it is possible, that we are not so different. We each of us only want to be loved, and to protect what it is we love; even if it is wrong, even if we do not necessarily go about it in the same or the right way. We are each of us alike. And tonight we become family. So, though I believe the custom is to propose we raise our glasses in a toast, I am afraid that glasses and alcoholic beverages are not exactly the forte of a vampire. So I shall just say; to family." Everyone echoed Brice's words and there was clapping again. I clapped along slowly, wiping the tears from my cheeks. "Now, enough talk. Let's celebrate shall we!" Brice bowed and smiled at Sue before they both left the stage and music started slowly playing in the background for Leah and Sonny's first dance.
Jake emerged from the parting crowd and strode towards me, extending his arm silently. I took it with a smile.
The music changed into a piano rhythm as the couple arranged themselves with Sonny and Leah at the centre. Jake held me close as we slowly began to sway.
I watched as Leah giggled as Sonny span her gently across the floor and the song began to kick in.
"Jake… I know this song. Is this … is this Journey?" Jake grinned.
"Don't you dare, Cullen. It's a classic." I giggled,
"I never fancied Sonny for much of a Journey fan."
"Well who said it was his choice? You know rock infused power ballads are a vital part of growing up on the reservation." I dropped my head on his shoulder as I continued to laugh. "You're mocking Journey! I am appalled."
I raised my head at Jake's mocking,
"No, no, I'm not. It's a beautiful song."
"Damn right it is! 'right down the line it's been you and me!' sing with me, Ness!"
"Uh, no way. You're on your own." Jake's eyes squeezed shut as he crooned quietly, still swaying gently.
"'I'm forever youuurs. Faithfully.'"
I dropped down in my seat with a huff. Leah looked across at me sympathetically, sliding her cool drink of water in my direction.
"Thanks. You know I miss the days where I could just stand on Emmett's feet when we danced and let him take me for a ride. It's far more exhausting now."
"I bet. I thought for sure after the third dance with him you'd give up. You're a trooper, I'll give you that." I smiled, then winced as I wiggled my feet in the tight shoes I'd been forced to wear. So far I'd danced with Jake, Sonny, Charlie, Brice, Emmett and Jazz. My feet were starting to feel it.
"Leah, will it totally ruin your wedding if I take these shoes off?" She gasped,
"I'm insulted you could even ask such a thing! You'll destroy my colour scheme." With a wink Leah laughed, "Yeah right, knock yourself out."
I threw the clasp open quickly, shaking the shoes from my aching feet. "Just don't let Alice catch you!"
"Oh, don't worry. I learnt that lesson long ago."
Leah returned her glance to the dance floor before snorting a laugh; the deep dimples I'd only recently come to know her possess appearing at her cheeks as she covered her grinning lips with her hand.
"What?" She continued to grin as I questioned her, and equal smile spreading across my face at the sight of hers. "What, Leah? What's so funny?"
"Nothing it's just…" she turned to me, shrugging, "all this. I mean, could you have ever guessed one day you'd be a bridesmaid at my wedding?" I laughed, shaking my head sternly.
"You have a point, a very good one. You never exactly liked me much."
"I never liked anyone. Don't take it personally." Leah smiled, turning back to watch her guests. "But all that's changed now …now I'm happy." I reached out and wrapped my hand over the top of hers. She looked down as her hand twisted round to squeeze mine back and smiled before playfully growling,
"Shut up, Cullen."
"Excuse me," we both turned to meet the voice that came from behind us, "but I was wondering if I may steal this beautiful young lady for a dance?" I grinned at the voice in question. His eyes met mine and he extended his hand, "That is, if she doesn't mind dancing with her old man?" I giggled as I dropped my hand into his and let him lead me to where the other couples were swaying across the dance floor waving at Leah as I went.
The ache in my feet was forgotten when I bent my arm and put my hand in my Father's.
For a moment we were just silent as we smiled at each other. With the rest of my family there had been a lot of talking, a lot of explaining and questions and pouring of words that seemed to attempt to rebuild the bridges we knew were never really broken. But with my parent's it was different, especially with my Dad, who of course, often needed no words or explanation. But my shield was still intact, and though I let him into my mind on occasion, it was not always open to him. It was like just being together again was enough for the three of us.
"What we you like when you were young, Daddy?" He smiled, but did not seem taken aback. It was like he was in my mind even when he was not.
"Well, I'm not entirely sure. It's hard for me to remember what it's like to be human, and therefore I struggle to remember the things that would have made me who I was. The way I thought, the way I saw things, how I felt about myself; those are things that can sculpt who a person is." I looked up into my Father's golden eyes and wondered what it would be like to look on them when they were green. I wondered if they would be the same emerald as Sonny's. "Why? What do you think I would have been like?" I smiled. It was something I'd given much thought in my life, so my answer was almost pre-prepared.
"Headstrong." He grinned,
"Yes, definitely. And brave. You wanted to go to war after all, so I think you would have been those things."
"I think you were confident, you liked yourself very much." My father laughed, "It shows sometimes! I see it, especially when you're with Mom. She brings out a delicate little arrogance in you that I don't think can solely be blamed on your vampirism. But you were a good boy. I think …no, I'm sure you were a Momma's boy." I smiled as I looked over at Esme who stood beside my Mother and watched us dance. "I think you were a great son. That's why your Mother begged Grandpa to save you like she did." The song stopped, as did my Father who stared down into my eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure you were a great son. You're a wonderful Father after all."
"Renesmee Cullen, where are your shoes?" I grinned as Alice stood before me, her little hands rested firmly on her hips.
"They're here, Alice." Beside me my Mother raised them in her hand, "Relax, she's just taking a break." My Aunt rolled her eyes before sliding into in an empty seat at the table around which I sat along with my Mother, my Grandmother and Cora. My Mom sat close beside my, her fingers running aimlessly through my hair.
"You've really done an amazing job, Alice." Cora pressed her arm on Alice's shoulder with a smile as she spoke.
"Yes, Alice. I know I say this every time but you've really outdone yourself." Esme repeated Cora's sentiments and the two smiled at each other.
Esme had easily grown attached to Cora, just as she had with Oscar, Brice and Sonny. It was in her nature. And though Cora remained reserved, I knew she too enjoyed the company of most of my family members for a reason more than just to keep me happy.
Brice had eventually found an easy place in the fold too. He was even older than Carlisle and their shared interest in history had given them a lot to talk about. Once Jasper's hostility towards those who he felt had caused him pain was lessened he too seemed fascinated with Brice's knowledge.
Sonny had charmed everyone. I had expected no less.
And Emmett just seemed frustrated that he had not yet been able to coax Oscar into a wrestling match more than the one they'd both aggressively engaged in on the day I found my family in the woods outside the Mausoleum.
I squeezed my eyes shut at the memory and felt glad that time was passed.
That really only left two. I looked at them now. Rosalie was stood beside Grandpa Carlisle, though she was not involving herself in the conversation he was having with Sue and Seth. She stared in the direction of Emmett, who was tirelessly spinning Leah across the dance floor, but she barely seemed to be watching them.
Then, on the opposing side of the room, Oscar stood against the wall.
They were the two pieces that may never fit in this new puzzle. I didn't blame them, it was who they were. But I couldn't help the sadness it caused me to see them alienating themselves as they were.
"Mom, I'm gonna go get some air." She smiled across at me,
"You want me to come with you, sweetheart?"
"No, it's okay. I won't be long. I just want to see the beach, I don't know when I'll get to again."
I stared up at the stars and could not doubt that they were clearer now, clearer here than any other place in the world.
My strappy shoes swung in my hand as I purposefully dug my feet deep into the cool sand with each stride. I could still hear the music and the conversation and the laughter behind me as I strode further away. The sound of such joy wrapped the scene beautifully in warmth, making it all the more peaceful. The tide gently lapped against the shore like a motion of steady breathing as I approached it. Finally, with one exhale it reached my feet and the cold sent a tickle up my legs. I breathed in the ocean air, staring out on the horizon which was straight and clear but for the crooked cliffs of La Push which enclosed the picture.
I couldn't know when I might come back here, to Forks, the source of so many elements of my existence.
Sonny and Leah would stay here with Charlie and Sue.
Brice, Oz and Cora would return to the Mausoleum, but I don't know how long it would hold Oscar. There was no telling how far Al's ghost might drive him. I hoped it would not be too far.
The Cullen's would return to Juneau and start the new life that was so abruptly halted by my leaving. Jake and I had decided to go with them, but I was not even sure how long that would last. I felt unsure of a lot of things.
I smiled as a new, but unmistakably familiar scent crept closer on the breeze and stared back up at the sky.
I would always love this place. There would always be memories for me in Forks, and there would never be a feeling more appealing to me than that of the La Push sand beneath my feet. But these memories I could take with me anywhere. No matter where in the world I went I would carry with me Grandpa Charlie's love, I would smile as I recalled the sound of Sonny's laugh and the warmth of Cora's hugs would never be far if I just closed my eyes and thought of her.
I peered over my shoulder; Jake had stopped his approach a few yards from me. He stood now, his hands in his pockets and a smile at his lips as he watched me.
Yes, I would always love this place., just as I would always love the mausoleum.
But did I belong here? Did I truly belong anywhere or I would I just have to wander the world for my entire existence? I wasn't sure.
I peered back over at Jacob and smiled. I figure I had a while to figure it out.