AN: I would like to thank Marin-sama and Professor Panda for their help regarding Amazonian names and Brazilian traditions. And Sharebear for the editing help.
The raven was mocking me. I know he was. Sitting up at the top of that Sitka crowing at me. I could see a sparkle in his beak. I'd show him. I looked down at the sundress Alice had chosen for me. It wasn't fitted. Although my growing had slowed tremendously, I still burst out of clothes in weeks if they didn't have some 'growing space'. After three years, even Alice was having trouble justifying a new outfit every day, so the dress hung rather limply from my shoulders. The lemon yellow was nice and sunny. It matched my disposition. Well it had, until that raven had showed up. He flapped his way to a pine this time, a little further from me again. I growled a little.
I was answered by my red-brown shadow. Jacob barked a laugh at my determination. He couldn't understand why I was stalking a silly raven, I was sure. But it had snagged my barrette and I wanted it back! I ran to the base of the pine craning my neck to look up to the top. Stupid raven was moving again. This wasn't working. I pulled the dress over my head quickly and scrambled up the tree.
Jacob must have phased because I heard him call, "Don't fall, Nessie! That tree is too tall!"
Bah. I'd jumped off a cliff with him a year ago, and that was much taller than this tree. Of course, I'd landed in water, not on the ground. I didn't care. I wanted my barrette. I wanted that raven. Needles scratched at my skin, and I thought it better me than my dress - the reason I had left it behind. The tree was starting to lean with my weight so close to it's tender growing tip. I was 86 pounds on Monday, when Grandfather had weighed me last. He seemed to think that not enough for my 4 feet 6 inches, but he'd let it go. I'd be as tall as Aunt Alice soon. My father guessed it would be by my birthday, one week away.
The raven squawked at me again from the neighboring spruce. As I began leaning to rock the tree, I thought about my upcoming birthday. Last year, Jacob had been given permission to take me cliff diving. That was my present from my parents and it had been amazing! I'd done it once since, without their permission. Only because that first time they were watching and I'd had to be sedate about it; I just cannonballed while holding Jacob's hand. What fun was that? The second time, I snuck out with Jacob and ran for the cliff edge, launching myself far out over the water. I spread my arms and legs as I soared parallel to the water. It was what I imagined flying to be like. This year I had another flight in mind.
"Careful, Nessie!" Jacob hollered. He was worse than my mother. Well as bad as.
I gave the tree one last shove away from the raven and set my feet against the trunk. When the top was pointed right at the troublesome bird, I launched myself across the twenty-five feet between tree tops. I snatched the barrette from his beak as he took flight in fear. I wrapped my arm around the tip of the spruce and slowed my decent as the tip bent with my weight and momentum. I knew just before the crack that I'd grabbed on too high up the tree. The tip snapped leaving me to fall through the boughs. I grabbed odd branches as I was able, but I was still falling too quickly. The needles still didn't break my skin, but I heard the shower of them falling to the ground.
Suddenly, I felt fur. He couldn't grab in this form, but he changed my course and took some of my momentum. Now I was able to curl myself up and land on my hands and feet. A plume of needles and dirt surrounded me with the impact. My ankle twisted a little. Wow. I must have been falling fast; I didn't injure easily.
The canine panting turned to a growl then to grumbling. "You are going to be the death of me, Renesmee." Oooh, I was in trouble. He never called me Renesmee.
I pouted, my best weapon in this instance. I took his hand and showed him my intention, hanging on and climbing down. I also thanked him for saving me from broken bones to only have a twisted ankle.
He knelt before me shaking his head. His fingers reached for my foot. I lifted it. "It's not bad. It's already feeling better. I don't heal quite as fast as you, but close."
Then he grabbed my shoulders and pulled me tightly to him. I could feel his relief and sent him images of condolence. I really hadn't meant to scare him. For the first time I felt something crushed between us. As he released me I looked down. They must have been there before, but I hadn't noticed my breasts developing.
Jacob followed my eyes and flushed. "You'd better find your dress," he told me, nudging me on. He phased back once I was far enough away.
I sighed. Mama and Edward were very strict about Jacob wearing pants when not covered in hair. I still didn't understand. Just as I didn't understand why my nakedness was problem. I yanked my dress over my head with a frown. My smile returned when I snapped my barrette back in my tangled curls. I didn't bother pulling the twigs from them. I touched Jacob's side, thinking of home. He knelt down to let me climb his shoulder. I laughed as he ran; he had forgiven me.
"What have you been doing!" Mama shrieked when she saw me. "You have half a tree in your hair." She shook her head and began plucking out wreckage.
"A raven stole my barrette. I got it back." I said proudly patting the shiny in my hair.
"And you never thought that maybe we'd just find you another one?"
"That wasn't the point." I touched her hand in my hair and showed her the raven's taunting.
She laughed now. "Taunted by a bird."
My father came over and kissed Mama's cheek. "What I don't understand is how your dress didn't get damaged."
I looked down. He knew of course. If he hadn't seen it in my head he saw it in Jacob's. I sensed a new rule on the horizon.
"Nessie," he said, exasperated, "you're getting too big to just take your clothes off whenever they don't suit you. You aren't an animal like Jacob. You look every bit a 12 year-old girl. There are men out there..."
"I never run into men who aren't family or wolves."
My father sighed. "Please, Nessie. Keep your clothes on, whatever the case."
I hmphed loudly, slouching under Mama's fingers. "Please, Nessie. For us?" she pleaded.
"Fine." I agreed out of hand. I just made a note not to get caught next time.
My father grabbed my chin. He meant business. "This isn't a whim, Renesmee. If you want to move among humans you need to act like one. If you plan to live as an animal, then I suppose you can run in your hide."
I felt tears sting my eyes. Why was I crying? He hadn't been overly harsh, but something in his words made me feel deeply ashamed. "Yes, Daddy. I want to be human. I will do better." I promised.
He kissed my cheek. "I know you will." Before his hand left my chin I sent him a mental hug. He met it with a physical one.
Mama was now running a brush through my curls. "We need to braid this more I think. I never guessed when we left you with the others that you'd come back like this."
It had been a quiet afternoon with my Grandmother and Grandfather until the raven snatched my barrette. Rosalie and Emmett were off in the woods somewhere. I had watched random trees fall while Grandfather gave me my lessons. Today had been a biology day, cellular reproduction. Alice told me that this lesson was special to my Mom and Dad. It was the first day after Edward had returned from his breather in Alaska, their first meeting after that fateful day when my father almost ate my mother. I shivered thinking about that possibility.
That brought me back to the reason they had left. "So? What did Alice say?"
"That Zafrina, Senna and Kachiri will meet us at the Parque Metrapolitano Bellavista," Edward told me. "Happy Birthday."
I clapped and bounced on my toes. "Yay! Thank you thank you thank you!" I hug-tackled him and he laughed.
"Well, we still have to send them word, we just know they're going to say yes."
"How?" I asked.
"Alice has gone to tell them. She and Jasper will meet us at the Parque as well."
"She didn't say goodbye?" I half-pouted.
"She hasn't gotten that far. She's packing at the house. We thought she'd find you there and tell you herself."
"I'm going to go thank her and say goodbye." I wrenched my hair out of Mama's hands.
"Slow down, Renesmee!" she called after me.
I was already at full speed in the trees.
Alice was on her way to Brazil and we would be following her to Quito in a week. Mama had already put in a call to the lawyer in Seattle to have a new passport made for me. I didn't look seven as my old one said. She was still arguing with Edward about using her old one. He had two good points. Her name wasn't Swan anymore and she didn't look anything like her picture. So, she would be getting new papers before we flew out, too.
Jacob was coming with us. His pack was all set to run with Sam until we returned. He'd decided to go with the passport Mama already had for him. The others were staying at home. I was going to miss them. We hadn't strictly planned our return, but expected it would be in a month or two.
Rosalie had convinced me to play hookie from Grandfather's lessons so she could spend a little extra time with me before we left. Emmett came along as we played catch in one of our favorite clearings. I was always sad they had to bring it down a notch for me. They could throw and run so much farther and faster than I could. They never minded.
Today they had a surprise for me. Emmett pulled out a bat. "But," I hesitated, "there's no thunder."
"Well, let's see if you hit hard enough to need it," he mocked stepping across the clearing to wind up his pitch. Rosalie squatted behind me, ready to catch the ball. I hoped she wouldn't have to. I squeezed the bat tightly and watched very carefully.
I felt a tingling run through my arm and a thunderous crack as I connected with his pitch. Emmett was caught off-guard and ran to try to catch the ball. I stood flexing my fingers, trying to work feeling back into them.
Rosalie stood and took the bat from me. She ran her hand down my arm until Emmett returned with the ball. Then she ran up to him and slapped him. "A fastball? For her first pitch?" she shrieked. She made to slap him again, but he caught her hand. "You could have broken her arm!" She was still yelling.
"We'll have to wait for a storm next time, Uncle Em!" I shouted to him.
After calming Rose down, Emmett swung me onto his shoulders for the run home. That was always fun, higher than sitting on Jacob's back. He put my feet in his hands as he approached the river and launched me just before he jumped himself. We each somersaulted once in the air and I landed standing on his shoulders on the lawn.
"Tada!" we said together to the applause of my parents and grandparents.
After that Rosalie helped Mama and I finish packing. Everything except the tent and Jacob's and my sleeping bags were stowed in large backpacks. I couldn't wait to rejoin my fierce friends in their home in Brazil. I had missed their shared mind.
When I was only a few months old, two of them, Zafrina and Senna had come to stand with my family against the Volturi. When I had met Senna and Zafrina, I knew there was something different about them, something shared. Knowing how Jacob and his pack mind worked, I believed it was something similar, and I was right. Senna had been happy to include me in the circle, especially when Kachiri, the third member, was missing. I couldn't take her place, but I did fill the void a little. I missed the peace their minds had brought and wanted to see the wonderful sights they'd shown me through Zafrina's visions. In just a few more days I would.