A/N: So, this is the final chapter of Teaching. This fic has been my baby for quite a long time. And now it's finished, and I'm letting it fly free and untouched. Oh my God, I sound like a neurotic mother. Anyway, this one is quite important to me. It's my longest fic, and in a way, it's been my favourite to write. I know that it is one of the less challenging fictions that I've written - it's hardly on the emotional level as On A Sparrow's Wings or Target Protection or Darkness Falls. But, as the longest fic and I've genuinely had fun with it. I honestly have. I've loved how much you guys have all responded to it, how much feedback I've had for it. I love that, I love how you've all responded, how different reactions have been. I love that you've all taken the time to read, review, and get enraged about it. I love that some of you have stuck with me since the first chapter, even though I have been terrible at updating, and unreliable, but some of you have still stuck by me. And I love the readers who review telling me how they just found the story, and that they liked it. Wow, this is getting very Oscar-winner-speech. I'm going to stop. But seriously, thank you all, so, so much for caring enough to read this story. So with this chapter, I'm letting Teaching fly the nest. That's it, no more. Sequel? No. Maybe one day, there will be a spin off. Maybe. But definitely no sequel. So, in celebration of Teaching reaching maturity and adulthood, I'm going to request one thing: please get this story to the total of 400 reviews.
Thank you all : )
"Where am I putting the tree, Esme?"
"In the corner, Emmett, just by the fireplace. Oh, Jasper, put those holly branches on the dining room table, the girls are busy with the centre-pieces. Carlisle, the fairy lights are Alice's area, ask her what she wants done with them. Edward, go and get that box of decorations, and put them down somewhere near the tree, then help Carlisle with the lights." The house is full of life and noise. The girls are laughing in the kitchen, making wonderful looking designs using holly and ribbons. Jasper returns from a second trip with mistletoe. I snag a branch and flit over to Esme, holding it over her head.
"It is tradition, darling," I smile, and she reaches up and kisses me. Emmett wolf-whistles, weaving tinsel around the banisters. Bella comes through from the kitchen, holding a lovely piece in her hands, putting it over the fireplace.
"Bella, where do you want this mistletoe?"
"Oh, just shove it down. We'll find a home for it." I throw the branch I'm holding to Bella, and Jasper turns around to find her holding it up and smiling. He sweeps her into his arms and kissing her enthusiastically. Lucas mimes being sick, and carries on making paper chains. He insists that this is very necessary. As a result, the house is festooned with coloured chains, and looks rather merry. I sigh happily. Christmas isn't something we make such a huge deal out of. But this year is different. So Esme and Alice have gone into overdrive, and the house is alive with laughter and the smell of fresh pine needles, holly and mistletoe. Bella is loving it, and her and Jasper seem to have found a new lease of life. It's like twenty years ago again. They don't see anything but each other, they fall in love again every day.
But the biggest change is Rosalie and Emmett. It's been two months of laughter, cameras and baby clothes. Their beautiful baby boy has enchanted everyone, and Rosalie seems hypnotised by him. She never takes her eyes off him unless she's hunting, and as soon as she gets back, he's back in her arms. I don't think he's been put down once since his birth. He's beautiful. He is the spit of Emmett. Literally, exactly like him. Blue eyes, dark curls. Rosalie is in love, and she radiates happiness. Jasper practically glues himself to her every time she comes round to show her treasure off. Bella loves watching them together. She makes him hundreds of outfits. I'm not sure if anything has been shop brought. Everything is hand-made. Bella, it transpires, is excellent at making clothes. She and Alice have set up an internet business, and are making insane amounts of money. Today, he's wrapped in the softest knitted cashmere blanket I have ever seen. Jacob Isaac McCarty. His dungarees and soft denim and his shirt is cotton. The front pocket of the dungarees has a panda on it, embroidered in wool. He's adorable. He's currently sleeping in Esme's arms, but he'll be wanting a feed soon. Christmas is for him, so it gave everyone an excuse to spend money. Jacob will be spoilt to within an inch of his life tomorrow. It's Christmas Eve.
It's lovely. Esme takes over Rose's place at the table, and she and Emmett fight over whose turn it is to feed Jacob. Emmett wins, and cuddles his tiny son close while Rose warms the bottle in the microwave. Emmett feeds him, laughing as Jacob tries to clutch at his bottle. He's been doing this sort of thing recently, starting to reach out and grab whatever you give him, and it makes Rosalie all but cry with delight. Emmett loves it, and hands him everything he can that won't represent a choking risk. I can't take it for very long, and beg a cuddle. I get one, and hold on for a while, cooing at him. He grabs at a stray lock of hair, and I disentangle him. He gets handed round, before Emmett reclaims him. We've more or less ignored the rule about not keeping children around me. They still live here. No adverse effects have been seen. It's fine, it's all fine. And Jacob is beautiful.
The tree is up, Lucas has finished with his paper chains, the centrepieces are dotted around, candles and the fire have been lit, and Jacob is being handed round after his bath. Jasper hangs on for slightly too long, gazing down at Jacob. I know he's thinking of what might have been. What could be. Rosalie finally settles him off to sleep, and then they all leave the room. I dispatch Jasper and Lucas upstairs to get the presents from us to them, and we arrange them under the tree. I hope Jasper likes his present.
Everything's so bright and happy. Everyone's so cheerful and energetic, running about with decorations and sneaking around, wrapping presents. Secrecy is all over the place. Bella has used her shield to negate Edward and Alice's abilities to look for gifts, which has annoyed them no end. However, it's making them both extra excited, and Alice is uncontrollable. And for me, this year is extra special. Jasper was following me for months during the pregnancy and after it without even realising it. I asked Bella why he was doing it, and she smiled.
"You're happy," she said, simply, propping her feet on the sofa, patting her bump. "You're literally exuding it. You're like a drug to him. He can't help it. He's drinking you in like a human drinks water." I'd grinned, and made sure that Jasper had full access at all times. He was just drawn to me. And as I was frequently with Bella, they spent large amounts of time together. Suddenly, they're like the first few weeks all over again. They look at each other like they've just met.
And then Jacob was born. Bella came in at three in the morning on October 11th, and announced, with great relish, that she'd just had her first contraction. Emmett had promptly lost his head completely, shouting about hot water. Bella called Carlisle, told him what was happening. He came home immediately. Her waters broke at six, and then the contractions got worse. She hissed through her teeth.
"Does it hurt?" I'd asked immediately.
"It's uncomfortable." The swearing when she actually started pushing was incredibly. There was some throwing of objects and cursing and general bitching. She did the whole thing standing in the living room, holding onto the fireplace. Finally, finally, after hours of pacing and pushing and cursing, Carlisle, who was crouching between her legs, shouted that he could see the head. Bella shouted something that sounded very much like "No shit, Sherlock", and pushed again. Suddenly a head was visible between her legs. Emmett was staring like he was watching a dissection. Suddenly, at two thirty five pm, Bella pushed one last time, and an indignant scream filled the room. Carlisle closed in on Bella, who looked horribly ill suddenly, and cut the cord. Esme took the baby, wrapped him in a towel, and them put him in my arms. Emmett was staring from Bella to his child, like he couldn't quite believe it.
"It's a little boy, a beautiful boy." Esme said, but I barely registered. Emmett finally seemed to snap out of his trance, and came over to me. I handed over the baby in my arms, and he took him like he was scared.
"He's so tiny. He's so light."
"Yes, and he's beautiful." Bella was already looking better, wrapped in a robe. Jasper is kneeling beside her, getting her to drink something. When I inhale, I realise it's actually a cup of blood. It's human blood. "I have to," she says, seeing the direction of my gaze. "It's - I can't explain it. But it makes you horribly weak. Animal blood won't cut it - I tried after Edward. What will you call him?"
"We thought Jacob. Jacob Isaac."
"McCarty, obviously," says Emmett, dragging his gaze from Jacob's face. "He's my son."
The first few weeks, it was hypnotic. Neither of us could stop watching him. I haven't used the crib once. He sleeps in my arms, or in Emmett's. He went through a phase when he refused to sleep in my arms. He wanted Emmett. Then a phase where he didn't want Emmett, and only wanted me. This was worrying, until we were reassured by Carlisle that it was normal.
It's been such a wonderful two months. He's laughing now, smiling and cooing. He's beautiful. Every day, Bella produces a new outfit. She makes everything herself, knitting, sewing, crochet, embroidery. I never knew she could sew. She went into overdrive. She frequently appears waving a tape measure, to measure him for new trousers and tops. She knitted him a beautifully soft hat for the winter, in pale blue with a white trim, and taught Alice to make bobbles. Everything from Alice now has a bobble on it. These bobbles amuse Emmett no end. He persuaded her to make him a woolly hat with a bobble on it. This meant, naturally, that he had to insist that everyone had bobble hats. So, Carlisle is now dispatched to work with a grey hat with a green bobble on it. It's been the cause of great amusement in town.
Bella and Jasper tell us that we can go downstairs to put our gifts under the tree. I got Bella and Jasper a joint present - they're going, although they don't know it yet, to Greenland for a fortnight. Bella loves Greenland - apparently she's got a thing for snow. So that's their present sorted. I sit back on my heels when I'm done, looking up at the tree with the lights twinkling. It's so lovely. And When Emmett sists down beside me, holding onto Jacob, I know it's complete. My family.