Disclaimer: I own nothing, just having a bit of fun.
A/N: I always feel like poor Esme doesn't get the credit she deserves. So, I decided to give her some where I thought it was due – along with something that I think happened in New Moon…
Tender Mothering Care
I was bent over the latest sketches for the new landscaping in the backyard when there was a soft knock on my studio door.
"Come in, Nessie," I beckoned my granddaughter, smiling and looking up.
She entered tentatively, looking a bit green.
"Um…Esme…I'm not feeling too well. There's a bug going around at school, and I think I caught it." As if to emphasize her point, she grimaced and hunched over a bit.
I flashed to her side and placed a cool hand against her warm forehead.
"Yes, dear, you do seem a bit feverish. Did you want me to call your mom and dad?"
"No, no," she murmured weekly. "They've been waiting so long to go back to your island, I don't want to make them come back early for me. I think I'll be okay in a few days, I just wanted to let you know—" She stopped mid-sentence, clapping her hand over her mouth and running down the hall to the bathroom.
I ran in behind her, holding her hair back as she bent over the toilet and promptly emptied the contents of her stomach.
"Oh, honey, I'm going to call your dad; I'm sure they'll want to know…"
"No, please, Esme, I promise it's okay. I'm just going to head back to the cottage and crash in my bed until it passes." I helped her stand and filled the glass by the sink with water for her. She sipped the water gratefully, then looked at me and blushed.
"Do you…well…I mean, it's a bit of a walk and I'm not really feeling up to running; Jake's not around and I don't really want to walk by myself, so…could you please, maybe, ya know…"
I smiled warmly at my young granddaughter. Though she was nearly grown to maturity, in my eyes she was still only a six-year-old. "Sweetheart, I'll be glad to carry you and dash you back to the cottage. Let's go."
As we walked down the hallway, I stuck my head into Carlisle's study. "Darling? I'm going to run Nessie to the cottage—she's feeling under the weather."
Carlisle looked up from his work, his amber eyes concerned. "Should I call—"
"No, we should be fine. Let the children have their….fifth, is it now?...honeymoon! We'll be fine." I gave him a reassuring smile as Nessie turned around and ran back for the bathroom.
A few moments later, I picked her up and carried her not to the cottage, but up the stairs to Edward's room.
"Honey, let's keep you in the house for now, all right? You can use your dad's bathroom and sleep in the bed here. Alice and Rose will be back from shopping shortly, and they can help as well."
Renesmee looked at me and smiled a bit before groaning and climbing into her father's large bed, curling up facedown into the pillows.
"….Grandma?" she muffled pitifully. "Could you go get me some pajamas from the cottage?"
"I'll send Emmett, and while he goes and gets them I'll get you some chicken soup, all right?"
"Thank you," she said weakly.
"Absolutely," I whispered, before racing down the hallway. Emmett was sitting in front of the big screen television, playing a video game and cursing at the screen.
"Emmett? Can you run to the cottage and grab Nessie some pajamas? She's ill and will be spending the next couple of days in your brother's room while Edward and Bella are gone."
In an uncharacteristic gesture, Emmett immediately dropped the controller and flew out the door. I went to the kitchen to pull out a can of soup to heat up in case Nessie felt like she could hold it down. Emmett was back before I could turn on the stove, and he gave me a mischievous smile before he darted up the staircase to Edward's third-floor bedroom. I rolled my eyes and began stirring the soup.
"Be nice, Emmett. She doesn't feel well." I knew he would be able to hear me.
As soon as the soup was ready, I took it up the stairs and found Emmett sitting on the edge of the bed chortling softly. Nessie was sitting upright against the pillowshams with a disgusted look on her face.
"Emmett, come on. I haven't worn these in years. When I had the body of a four year old." She was holding up a set of footed pajamas that were fuzzy and pink, with bunny ears on the feet. "…and, come to think of it, I hated them then, too."
I kept the bowl of soup in one hand and lightly shoved Emmett's shoulder from behind. "Emmett! She's sick! Honestly, what am I going to do with you…"
"Aw, Esme, I brought her some real ones, too. Sheesh. Just trying to make her smile." He flashed a big grin at Renesmee and pulled a pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt. "These better?"
Nessie sighed softly, her face turning a slight shade of green again. "Yes, thank you," she whispered softly, clearly nauseated. Emmett's eyes grew wide and he jumped off the bed.
"Uh, that's my cue to leave. Feel better soon, Ness." He darted out the door as I placed the soup by the bed and scooped Nessie up, racing her across the room and into Edward's private bathroom. As she threw up in the toilet, I brought the pajamas into the bathroom and placed them on the counter.
"Go ahead and get changed, sweetie. I'll make the bed down for you and get a heating pad. I think Rose has one somewhere."
Nessie, not removing her head from the toilet basin, held up her right hand and gave me the universal "OK" sign. I smiled and stepped out, closing the door behind me.
I was coming back in with the heating pad just as Nessie was ever-so-slowly climbing into the large bed.
"Why does dad even have a bed in here? He and mom have the cottage."
"Well, honey, when your mom was human, he wanted to make sure she had a place to sleep in case she had to stay here for the night. Plus, I think it makes the room more aesthetically pleasing, anyway."
Nessie rolled her eyes before frowning again. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, settling back into the sheets. I pulled the comforter up to her chin and sat on the bed beside her, sweeping her auburn curls from her face.
"That feels really nice, gramma," she mumbled. I smiled and placed the palm of my hand gently to her forehead for a moment. She sighed softly, closing her eyes. "I'm sorry to be so much trouble."
"It's no trouble at all, sweetie. Honestly, it's nice to have someone to take care of. In all these years, I've never really had the opportunity to nurse any of my 'children' back to health. It comes with the territory, I suppose," I replied, laughing gently.
"Well, I'm glad I'm half-human, then. It'll give you a chance to use your nursing skills for the first time in nearly a century."
"Well….that's not entirely correct, Nessie. I've used them more recently than you might think," I smiled at the memory.
Nessie opened her eyes, furrowing her brow in confusion. "When?"
"I'll tell you, but it's been a secret of mine for years—only grandpa Carlisle knows. And Alice, though that could not really be helped, because she saw my decision to do it…no, no, lay down, darling!" I scolded gently, for Nessie had sat up in anticipation. She laid back down, grumbling.
"I promise!" she muttered, though her eyes sparkled at the idea of learning a secret. "But what if Dad accidentally hears it in my mind?" she asked worriedly.
"Oh, don't worry, dear; it's not that kind of secret. It really was not a big deal, I just decided at that time it was best not to let him know, and it has never really come up since then, so…." I trailed off, smiling again at Nessie's anxious face. She may have the body of a 14-year-old, but she was still a child in many ways.
I tucked her back in, and took a deep breath to tell my story.
"Well, you see dear…has your daddy told you a lot about when he and your mother were together before they were married?"
"No, but mommy has. She loves to tell me stories about Daddy. She loves him a lot…she also says she wants to remember as much of her human time with him as possible, and that talking about it helps."
I nodded slowly. "Has she ever mentioned any…sad things about Daddy?"
Nessie's brow furrowed in thought, then relaxed with remembrance. She nodded slowly.
"She hasn't said much, she just has said that at one time, Daddy thought it would be best if they weren't together, that maybe him being a vampire would put her in danger. But they never stopped loving each other, and she went to Italy to save him from Aro and the Volturi in Italy. That's all I know…. Gramma, are you about to tell me a sad story?"
"No, no, dear. I just want to make sure I don't confuse you or…" I hesitated, unwilling to get myself into any trouble with Edward or Bella for telling their daughter too much without their permission.
"Don't worry. I won't say anything. I know there's lots of stuff I don't know yet…Daddy is…a little protective sometimes."
I snorted softly. "My dear, that's an understatement. But as long as you know that it's only because he loves you so much, then that's all that matters. Anyhow. Story time?"
She nodded eagerly.
"Well, this happened during the time that your parents were apart. Edward had asked that we all move away from Forks to keep Bella as safe as possible. We did as he asked, though none of us—including your father—really had any desire to leave. But we wanted to keep your mom safe. He asked Aunt Alice not to look for her future. So, we went and spent some time up in Alaska, visiting Tanya and Kate and the other Denalis for awhile."
Nessie nodded, her eyes curious.
"However, I truly missed your mother. I knew I had promised Edward to leave her alone and safe, but I could not help but feel as though I had abandoned one of my own children. So, against his wishes, I came back to Forks one night to check on her. Alice called me as I was running, having seen what I decided. She encouraged me to go, knowing that Edward would be livid if he found out. But we all wanted to make sure she was okay. Grampa Carlisle wanted to know, too, and he ran with me as far as this house right here. He knew that my devotion to Bella could not be swayed any more than it could for any of your aunts and uncles.
"So, late one night, I ran over to Grampa Charlie's house when I knew Bella would be sleeping. I only planned on peeking through the window to see her for a moment. However, when I looked into her bedroom, I was surprised to find her bed empty. I was concerned, until I heard a small cough from another room in the house. I decided to sneak in through the window and just make sure she was all right. I could only hope that she was asleep and would not see me.
"I crept through her bedroom and down into the hallway, where I heard her steady breathing coming from the bathroom. I had no idea why she would be sleeping in the bathroom – and, when I opened the door, I found her lying on the floor, curved around the toilet. The poor thing had exactly what you have – the stomach flu. I saw that Charlie had left her a small glass of water and that she had yet to taken a drink from it. From the looks of her, she had been sick the whole day.
"Well, I couldn't just leave here there on the floor! So, I picked her up, careful not to wake her. The last thing she needed was to be frightened to death by my unexpected presence. I placed her in the bed and tucked her in, placing the water by her bed. Then, I couldn't help myself…I sat in the rocking chair that your dad used to sit in and I watched her sleep for awhile."
I edited the story as much as I could for Nessie's sake. There was no way I could mention to her how frail her mother felt in my arms. How I could tell that she had lost too much weight and that her skin seemed sallower than it should. I also distinctly remembered the vague scent of wet dog about her – not nearly as strong as it became, because Jacob had not been around her since he became a full werewolf yet. Little did I know, he was fifteen miles away going through that transformation at that time.
I let my mind wander as Nessie's eyes began to flutter closed. I remember feeling so helpless that night. Conflicted. I knew that one of my children was suffering because of another's actions, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. However, I told myself, Bella was sick – perhaps she had had the flu for awhile and that's why she had lost weight and looked so pale. However long I spent in that rocking chair trying to justify my actions on Edward's behalf, I could not. I had abandoned one child, just as another had abandoned me. My family had been ripped apart at the seams. Rosalie and Emmett had been traveling for weeks, Jasper still felt horrible about what he had done, Alice spent most of her time consoling Jasper, and Edward had disappeared, only calling once every few weeks to let us know he was okay. It tore Carlisle and I apart, but we allowed them to make their own decisions. Bella had not had the opportunity to make her own decision, and it was hurting her.
"I watched her sleep until the sun began to rise," I continued. "She didn't move much, and she didn't speak in her sleep like Edward said she was prone to do. She was too sick. But I walked over and placed my hand across her forehead and felt that her fever was beginning to break. Her breathing was more even, and she had some color coming back to her cheeks as she slept. In her sleep, she smiled as I brushed my fingers across her face, moving her hair. It was the most motherly I had felt in decades, and I knew that one day she would officially be a part of my family, whether your father knew it or not."
I finished my story, smiling at the memory.
"How come you didn't tell dad?" she questioned sleepily. "Why would he get mad about that? It's a nice story…"
"Well, I don't think he'd get mad, per se. But at the time, he would have been angry at me for interfering. So, I just kept it to myself and your grampa. It was my own little secret and I enjoyed that. From what I've gathered, your mother thinks it was Charlie that carried her back to bed."
Nessie snorted loudly. "Yeah, right. Like Gramps could possibly pick her up and carry her to her room without waking her up. I mean, he's strong and all, but…" she giggled.
I smiled warmly. "I think it's time for you to try and get some sleep, dear. Here's some water…I'm assuming you don't want the soup right now?" Nessie scrunched up her nose and shook her head apologetically. I nodded and stood up slowly.
"Whisper if you need anything – I'll hear you." I brushed her hair across from her face once more, bending over to kiss her forehead.
"Thanks, gramma…" she trailed off, her eyes closing. She sighed contentedly. "And thanks for the story. It's fun hearing about mom when she was human…"
"Yes, she's certainly brought life back into this family, in more ways than one. Goodnight, Renesmee. Feel better."
"Mhmm…" she mumbled, already half-asleep. I crept quietly from the room and closed the door behind me.
"Esme, you know that my daughter hasn't exactly perfected her ability to block me out…" Edward noted a few days later, smirking slightly.
If I could blush, I would have. "Are you angry with me?"
Edward exhaled softly and shook his head.
"No, not really. In all honesty, I'm glad that one of us was there to take care of her properly when she was ill, least of all when she was—I mean, after I—well, you know." Now it was Edward's turn to look sheepish.
"Now, Edward. We've been through this before. You have nothing to feel guilty about anymore. Bella forgave you. She chose you. She married you. She loves you. And she knows you were only doing what you thought was best for her. Whether or not she agrees with that is another issue entirely, of course. But I think we can both agree that things worked out for the best."
Edward shrugged, but gave me a small smile.
"Thank you, mom. For being there."
"Absolutely. I was telling Ness that it's fun being a mother to all of you, but sometimes the actual 'mothering' falls by the wayside when all of you could easily take care of yourselves. It was nice being able to take care of someone who truly needed me for once."
Edward stared at me and took my hands in his.
"Esme, we all need you; more than you possibly know. Your devotion and compassion and acceptance have brought me through some of the darkest times in my life. Hearing your thoughts the first time I brought Bella to the house, knowing that you were so happy at my happiness and feeling how confident you were that I could successfully start a relationship with her…it was more of an encouragement than I can begin to describe."
I looked down at the ground at his unexpected praise, and he squeezed my hands before pulling me into a hug.
"Honestly, mom – we all appreciate your attentiveness to us. Maybe we should go about saying it more often."
"Thank you, son," I whispered softly. "I appreciate you saying that. Now, go take care of your daughter and your wife. I think Bella is teaching Nessie how to swing from tree branches out by your cottage. I know how much you'll love that…" His eyes widened in alarm, and he shot off before I could finish my sentence.
"Bella! Renesmee! What are you thinking?!" I could hear his protests as he flew across the river and into the woods. I couldn't help but laugh. I had a lot to be grateful for, especially my sweet family.