It was raining and cold in Forks, Washington. We were at our old house which had been turned into a funeral home. The mood was sad as people crowded in to see the retired chief of police for the last time. The house probably drew people in as well, the mysterious Cullen house. Various foot marks that had surrounded the house, the strange scents and one broken window revealed just how curious people were.
I stood at the door holding Jacob's hand while people waited in line to see me, to offer Charlie Swan's granddaughter some sort of condolence. He lived until he was ninety six, four years after the death of Sue Clearwater and ten years after the death of my grandmother, Renee and twenty years after the death of Billy Black. We were by his side when he died, Carlisle trying to sooth the pain of his decrepit body. I shivered at the memory and Jacob squeezed my hand.
My mother and father were here somewhere out of sight as well as Esme, Carlisle, Alice and Jasper. They would never pass for the age they should be at this time. I looked like my mother's sister. Jacob was safe though, those who remembered him at all, like Mike Newton, assumed he was Jacob Black Jr. That was fine, let them assume because I needed him here now.
I looked around the large gathering of people and caught familiar faces, friends of my mother's and their kids who were my age. Mike Newton and his wife from New York, Wendy, were looking into the coffin now. Their daughter Allison looked politely disinterested but when she caught my eye she smiled and waved. Angela and Ben had four children who were absent today. They had stayed in touch the longest, as long as my parents allowed them. I always liked Angela and her eldest son, Peter, was very kind. Jessica Stanley was there with her daughter Elizabeth. We heard about her divorce through Charlie. She didn't look happy about being here but she stood dutifully beside her mother who looked as if she would break from old age.
The evening dragged on, neither Jacob nor I spoke until everyone was gone from the house and the coffin buried beside Sue Clearwater and Billy Black on the Reservation. My mother and father appeared quickly beside us on our way to Jacob's house.
"How are you momma?" I asked, I couldn't tell, her face was blank. She smiled and pulled me into a bone crunching hug that I had to hold my breath through.
"You did great love." She said when she released me, not answering my question. I looked at my dad quickly and he grimaced. He barely took his eyes off her.
"Who wants something to eat? Where are the other bloodsuckers?" Jacob asked in an attempt to break the silence. I elbowed him in the ribs and my mother snarled.
"The others are at the house, taking care of some things before we leave again." My Dad answered, still looking at my mother.
"Easy, Bells," Jake said nonchalantly, "You may not want food but I certainly do. You stinkin' vampires have starved me these past few days." I elbowed him again and he didn't flinch, though I was sure he felt it. I inherited my parent's marble skin, though it was warm to the touch and my heart beat inside me, a trademark of my mother before I almost killed her. My dad shot me a reproachful look at that thought. I shrugged and followed Jake inside.
"Want something, Ness?" He asked, face in the fridge. "Want eggs? I can make eggs, or pancakes if you want. Pizza?" I shook my head, not interested in human food today. Usually I could get it down but not today, not after my only human grandfather died, not after the last member of mothers family suffered from mortality.
"I think I'll hunt with my parents today Jake." He nodded expecting that and smiled in approval. I kissed him on the cheek and went back out to find my mother's shoulder shaking violently in my dad's arms, she was crying though there would be no tears on her cheeks.
"Come on Bella, let's hunt," My dad murmured to her. The dark circles under their eyes were not from lack of sleep but lack of food. My mom nodded quickly and the tremors stopped.
"Ness, if you want to stay with Jake, that's fine. I'm fine." Her voice was a beautiful sing song bell that did not break. However, her flinch on "I'm fine" betrayed the lie. She was never good at lying.
"I'm coming mom. Let's go get us some mountain lions." I could feel Jacob's anxiety as I said these words but today was not about him. We took off in a blur, towards the thick forest and far from Forks.Hunt- Bella
It was hard watching my father gasping his last breath. They didn't know, not really. The others didn't know what it was like to watch a mortal relation, a father, die. They didn't have any, or didn't stick around to watch it. It was horrible, worse than Renee. At least I was smart enough to let Renee go, to distance myself from her, for her sake and mine. Edward's gaze never left mine, even during the hunt I had to smile and convince him to go hunt for himself. Something Renesmee was thinking must have convinced him because he left and she attached herself to me. Mother and daughter relation reversed. I had already taken down a lion and a small elk and was waiting for Edward.
I was much more practiced at this now and managed to come away spotless, just like my perfect husband. Ness was always messy, she didn't care. Sometimes I wondered if she was fighting an identity crisis, never quite sure how to act or who to identify with. I sighed and Ness looked at me questioningly, I didn't answer and she looked away. Despite myself, I constantly thanked god she had Jacob. It was certainly hard at first when their relationship escalated. It made me and Edward uncomfortable. He was MY Jacob. It took awhile to realize he was still Jacob, my best friend. It's been ten years though, since they've been together that way, I've gotten used to it and so did Edward, to some extent. He didn't appreciate many of Jake's thoughts but managed to refrain from hitting him.
The pack was pleased to have Jacob back on the Reservation. He had visited throughout our absence but now he would be staying here, with Renesmee. She didn't know that yet though. She had a choice of course but he would be here and Edward and I had to leave with the rest of the family, we would start over in another city, another high school. She would be happier here, she loved the pack and she loved Jacob. I was sure she knew what was going on but she said nothing. I would lose my father and my daughter in one week and she wouldn't make it worse for me.
Edward came back with worried golden eyes. I smiled at him and he smiled back, unsure of my mood. We ran through the woods at an exhilarating pace, Ness fell behind. I could hear her heart accelerating and slowed my pace. She belonged in the world of beating hearts. I would never begrudge her that. It was time for her to make her own life. Jacob had been willing to keep traveling with us but Edward and I knew they were both getting increasingly unhappy. Renesmee was a silent sufferer, like me. Even if Edward couldn't hear her thoughts, it was evident that she was ready to leave, even if she didn't know it.
Emmett and Rosalie went ahead to northern Vermont, our next destination, to set up. We bought a house in a random little town in the middle of the forest called Rorke. We were enrolled in the public high school. The semester started in about a week. I watched Edward walk slowly back to us. He will always be the most beautiful person I've ever seen. He is my personal miracle I could not, would not live without him.
"What are you thinking?" He whispered before he reached my side, but I heard him clearly.
"You." He cocked his head to the side and smiled, just a little. Renesmee stood and started walking back. I looked at Edward questioningly.
"She's ready to be with Jacob, she's realized this and she knows we know as well." I nodded. It was time to leave our daughter. I snuggled into his chest and felt myself shaking uncontrollably.Move
It was never spoken aloud. It didn't have to be. We moved some of Ness's things in with Jake. He promised to take care of her. It wasn't goodbye and we didn't say goodbye. I could not bear that. My heart ached at the thought of leaving her but I know it's for the best. They would visit, we would visit. The treaty was more or less void. My family was allowed on the Reservation when we visited Jake but there were more wolves around when we were. That was fine.
Renesmee took my hand just before we got into the Volvo. I could suddenly see all the memories we had together from her point of view, laughing, smiling, learning, crying, yelling, everything was overlaid in an unshakeable love. I hugged my daughter and promised to see her soon. Yeah, perhaps during Winter Break I thought bordering bitterness. She had a cell phone so I could call her and she could call us.
The drive to the Vermont house was long, about two days. This house was newly built. Esme designed it and decorated it before we got there. We all had to drive our own cars to be as efficient in car transfer as possible. I grudgingly admitted that I do like my fast sports car and my motorcycle and I didn't want to leave them behind. I had no idea what the make or model was on either vehicle, I just knew they were fast and exhilarating. That was fine.
The house was beautiful. There was a main house and two smaller houses beside it, all nestled in the canopy of the large pine trees. They looked so natural. You could see the mountains over the trees. A small brook ran through the forest behind the house. It was far from the highway or any main road. You had to follow a dirt path to get here. Similar to the house in Forks, the back wall was made completely of large windows. It was a charming house, large but not intimidating or showy.
One of the smaller houses was a garage and it was larger than it first looked because it was built into a hill. I was worried that Edward and I wouldn't have our privacy in this house and had resigned myself to less Edward time at night but Esme shocked me by saying the other house was ours. She insisted I had no choice but to take it because all of my stuff from home was in it already. The others seemed to agree and Emmett threatened to give me hell if I didn't accept it graciously. I was never a gracious gift receiver, something that irritated them immensely.
It was beautiful and quaint, made of dark stone on the outside and full of warm colors on the inside. It had a grand piano in the main room as well as an easel, bookshelf, a huge sound system and walls of Edward's music. My music occupied only one shelf. The main bedroom was dominated by a large bed with a sturdy metal frame and gauzy white sheets. There was another bedroom as well, for Renesmee, just in case. I smiled at the thought, though I knew I Wouldn't see my daughter for a little while, longer than I've ever been away from her. Edward was silent behind me, his hand on my shoulder. "I'm okay. It was really nice of Esme to give us our own house again, what about the others, don't they want a little house?"
Edward smiled at me, "Rosalie and Emmet will build their own house if they want one, they're not shy don't worry. Alice and Jasper have always stayed in the main house." I nodded knowing this was true. I was so grateful that I still had that little piece of solitude, where I could go and not worry about being overheard. It was ironic that I craved this kind of privacy when I already had the most privacy of anyone. I was constantly thankful that Edward couldn't read my mind unless I deliberately let him.
Edward held me in his arms for a little while, we were perfectly content simply standing there. I could stand there forever with him. "Shall we break the bed in? We have a few hours before school starts." Edward asked, mock seriousness in his voice.
I groaned loudly, "Ugh don't remind me! I can't believe I have to go to high school AGAIN. I have an adult daughter!" Edward kissed my hair, behind my ear, along my jaw, my throat, and I completely forgot about school, the main house I hadn't seen yet and even worry about Renesmee got pushed to the back of my mind. Edward occupied all of my senses.The 3rd 1st day of High School
The school was small, about the size of Forks High School. Edward and I are in most of the same classes. We started as juniors with Jasper and Alice, Emmett and Rose were seniors, like always. We had to take two cars, Rose and Emmett in Emmett's Jeep and the rest of us in Edward's Volvo. I should be used to the stares, the intakes of breath as the six of us walked by, the whispering and pointing, the other physical reactions from the boys, but I wasn't. If I could blush I certainly would be now. Edward squeezed my hand knowing I hated this. The first day anywhere was always the worst.
Emmett and Rose walked in front. Rose was always confident and she should be, she knows she's beautiful. However she still didn't dominate the whispered talk as I always expected. She was usually pegged as a snob or something equally rude. People were instinctively scared of Emmett and Jasper. Alice was usually considered the "weird one". Then there was me and Edward. I wished that people would feel about me how they feel of Rose or Alice. At least that way, they stayed away. No, for some reason, people flocked to me. Something I found increasingly annoying and Edward found hysterical as did Emmett. I even tried to work on my mean face with every one of my pseudo- siblings. Alice was the only one who didn't end up laughing, though I know she was just holding it back.
My first class was French with Alice and Edward. You had to take four years of a foreign language at this school. I was never good at any foreign language in my human life. Now, I had spent four years in France and many years in Canada and French was just as easy to speak as English. I seemed to learn a lot faster now. The teacher, Madame Latoune, introduced us to the class but we didn't have to say anything. There were three desks, which didn't look like they belonged, in the back of the room. Alice sat on my left and Edward on my right.
The boy in front of me immediately turned around. He had brown hair and eyes but he was tall and muscled, definitely the athletic time, probably popular. I wouldn't call him handsome but I was very biased. His breath caught when he looked at me and I fought the urge to roll my eyes. I looked pleadingly at Edward but he was laughing behind his hand. "Hi," the boy said, "I'm Rob." I wonder what he would think if I told him I was old enough to be his grandmother.
"I'm Bella Swan. This is Edward and Alice Cullen." I told him, trying to get the attention off of myself. It didn't work as he seemed to find my voice incredibly interesting. Many people had turned slightly to listen and many girls glared. I was never very good at girl relationships anyway. I swear the teacher was purposefully stalling class. The boy, Rob, nodded once toward both of them, no doubt sizing himself up against Edward from the look on both their faces.
"Maybe I could show you around?" He asked weirdly hopeful. Crap.
Edward stopped smirking but didn't use his scary face despite the hard kick I delivered to his shin. "That's ok," Edward answered, "we can figure it out, thanks." Rob seemed to get the hint. He turned around and class started.
The rest of the day continued in the same way. Three more boys singled me out, I already forget their names. Finally it was lunch and we met up with the others to sit alone in the corner of the room. "So what's the gossip Edward?" Rose asked, nonchalantly.
"O same old same old. They think it's weird that we're all "together together" but of course they buy the whole Cullen, Hale, Swan adoption thing. O yeah, and all the boys love Bella." He laughed again but was overshadowed by Emmett's loud booming laugh. Everyone looked at us and I kicked him under the table which set him off again. I was no longer stronger than he was, he barely felt it.
"That boy from French is going to come over here in a second. He was dared to ask Bella to join his lunch group." Alice said, amused. Rosalie didn't like any of us having human relationships and I agreed so at least she was on my side. She hissed but Emmett told her to lighten up. She didn't but said nothing more.
Sure enough Rob stood up, pushed on by his jock friends. The girl next to him looked unhappy. She was mumbling that I wasn't even that pretty but then she started talking to her friend about how hot Edward was. I couldn't disagree, really, I felt bad for her. "Quick, laugh," Alice said and we all laughed on cue, perfect actors. Rob's step faltered and I heard his friends bet on whether or not he'll chicken out. I looked at Alice, "Oh he'll come." She and Edward both assured me.
I practiced my scary face quickly. "Babe, you look like a little puppy in pain," Edward said and I scowled. Emmett couldn't contain his laughter but at least he was a little quieter this time.
"Bella?" It was Rob, obviously. I turned slowly to face him, making sure to seem human for the sake of my family, not him.
"Hi…um…?" I said, maybe if I pretended to forget his name he would go away.
"It's Rob," he said quickly wanting to get it over with. His friends were quiet now, clearly impressed by his balls. Well so was I, it's not easy when Emmett and Jasper and even Rose were staring intently at you. "I was wondering if you wanted to come join me and my friends. I mean all of you are welcome." He said quickly, clearly feeling uncomfortable under their stares.
I looked around me for help. It took me half a second to see I was getting no help. I sighed to myself, envying my daughter for not having to repeat school over and over. "Thanks for the offer Rob, but I don't think you have enough room at your table for us." He looked at the table and shrugged, acknowledging this to be true but he still looked hopefully at me. This was ridiculous. "I'll see you later though, k?" I said quickly he nodded and I knew he would be in another class with me today. Luckily I was never in a class without Alice or Edward. He shuffled back to the table and money was exchanged as bets were won.
"Thanks so much for the help, guys." I murmured, looking down at my uneaten food. They were all shaking with invisible laughter.
Rob was in my Biology class, fifth period. I had this class with Edward as well and sat on the opposite side of the room as my potential admirer. I was practicing my scary face the whole way to class. I failed, it only worked when I was extremely angry otherwise it was apparently very amusing. The class reminded me of those hazy human memories or Edward sitting beside me in Biology, the electricity and awareness I had felt was magnified now. I decided to share this with him. It made him happy when I opened my mind to him. He didn't jump at my sudden thoughts in his mind but he looked a little startled. A slow smile crept across his face and he held my hand through the rest of class.
Gym was not a requirement here, thank goodness. It would be so boring trying to control my strength and speed and what not. However, I was somehow stuck in home economics with Alice. Edward was in woodshop. I grudgingly entered the room full of girls, growling to Alice about sexism. Is this a joke?
It wasn't though. We were given cloth and thread and were told to sew. It turned out to be soothing though. I used to sew all the time for Renee and Charlie. Sadness gripped my heart but I kept my head bent over what I was doing and ignored Alice's sharp eyes. The girl who had been fantasizing over Edward at lunch kept throwing me hostile glances. Great. Another one of those.
I was happy Edward wasn't here to see me practically break down in the middle of class. No one here would be able to tell but Alice could. He would see it in her mind later. The bell finally rang and Alice and I managed to dodge Rob and this other boy Daniel. We were at the car in just a few minutes after the final bell and I let the waves of sorrow hit me again. Alice and Jasper drove home with Emmett and Rosalie.