As soon as my parents were willing to let me go, I ran to the circle. To my great delight they did let me join, though I felt slightly squeezed, as though with Kachiri here I didn't fit any longer. Should you ever find yourself without Jacob, we'll happily enlarge our circle for you, Renesmee.
I sent them all the gratitude I could muster. They had made me stronger; they had helped me reach farther than I would have dreamed possible. I would see them again one day. Even if I never fully joined their circle.
Then they dropped their hands and mine. Zafrina lifted me and the other two hugged me as well, just as Mama and Edward just had. I would miss my fierce friends.
I took a quick moment to dig through my pack while surrounded by my friends. I found a letter Mama had addressed to me. I moved it to my pocket. "Secret." They nodded simultaneously.
Zafrina approached Mama then, "You must bring the child to see me. Promise me, young one."
I asked Mama for the same.
"Of course Zafrina."
"We shall be great friends, my Nessie." I imagine she said it for Mama's benefit. We were great friends already.
Siobhan brought a frightening notion along with her goodbye, "Of course, this isn't over. The Volturi won't forgive what happened here." I felt cold in my mother's arms, she was right.
She had the answer as well though, "Alice will warn us when they intend to strike and we'll gather again. Perhaps the time will come when our world is ready to be free of the Volturi altogether." I hoped that day was soon.
Maggie hugged Mama and I before going.
That left just our newest friends, Huilen and Nahuel, and the Denalis. I already counted Garrett among them. All the others had left even more quickly than my circle. I didn't get to say goodbye to Benjamin and Tia. I hoped I would see them again.
Our cousins were still bearing their grief. I hugged each one showing them that I respected Irina and her choice. I also asked each to tell me something of her, I was sad I would never know her.
"She was fiery," Kate told me. "You would think I was the hot-headed one with my gift, but I was not. She was as quick to love as to hate."
"Her heart was loyal," Tanya shared. "That's why she wouldn't come to your family's aid. She was still loyal to Laurent. But she was loyal to your family too, it must have been very difficult for her to go to the Volturi. Alice told me she deliberated on that long." I knew that to be true.
"She was soft." I didn't expect that when Eleazar said it. "Some strange feminine maternal instinct. That was why she took to Laurent, and there lay her downfall. But to her, he was a lost child who needed help finding his way." He shook his head wishing she hadn't.
"She was devious," Carmen said with a half-smile. "I know Emmett can make your family want to yank their hair with some of his stunts, but he doesn't hold a candle to the pranks Irina would pull. I will NOT tell you more of them. You have enough bad influence from that uncle of yours." Her eyes were merry but there was darkness in them too.
"Thank you for telling me," I told each of them. "You will visit again soon?"
"Of course," Carmen insisted. "And we are much closer than the Amazon." I smiled happily.
I found a little time alone with Alice while Edward was breaking down the Volturi's plan and how Mama had completely destroyed it. I asked her if she saw my blocks.
She kissed my head, "I did, and I heard your Christmas present, thank you very much. You'll have to play it for Jasper though."
"I have to say though, you weren't surprised when you saw me."
I shook my head.
She laughed lightly, "You are too smart by far. Even your mother doubted I was returning, doubted there was any chance of surviving, and you kept faith in me, you, who have only known me a few weeks!"
I shrugged this time. I replayed a lot of the conversations, especially those at the beginning. I knew where she'd gone. I knew she was getting something we would need.
"Did you hesitate?" I asked her.
"What do you mean?" she asked seeming horrified by the suggestion.
I showed the image of the ancients giving verdicts.
She laughed loudly. "Maybe just a second or two. I love to make an entrance."
A few days later, I faked sleep and pulled Mama's letter out when I was alone. Her writing was the least lovely of my family, but I'd seen her regular scrawl and could tell she'd taken more care when writing this.
My dearest Renesmee, my beautiful baby, my little nudger,
If you are reading this, it is because I can no longer be with you. While I can't bear to think of it, I know you are well without me. Alice gave me the means to protect you and Jacob. I am sure she knew that saving you was the only thing I'd want in the hopeless situation we were faced with. I am also sure she must have seen you escape. In that she has given me hope. I am sure you are safe with Jacob now and I pray you are happy together. If you ever see Alice again, thank her for me.
I love you Renesmee. You are the physical evidence of my love for your father. We were all shocked when I became pregnant with you, such a thing being impossible. We should have known better. What was impossible was that our love wouldn't create something as wonderful and special as you. I loved you the moment I knew of you. The moment you first touched me from inside. I know my days of burning were hard for you. They were hard for me too, and not just for the pain. I wanted to know you, what had become of you, what you looked like. You were the first thing I reached for after Edward when I woke, but the family was rightly concerned for your safety. I have treasured every second I have spent with you, even when I thought we'd have years together.
Take care of Jacob. I hope he is everything to you that Edward is for me. Take care of each other. Be Happy! Be as happy as I was when you were with me. No one can ask for more than that.
I love you, Renesmee,
My memory was very good, but not indelible as my parents'. I refolded the letter and hid it under my mattress.