A/N Characters belong to S. Meyer (Like you didn't know that) - well except her new classmates. They're mine.
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to Nessie
Happy Birthday to me
I woke up singing. My fifth birthday, and my second day of school. That had been a hard fought battle. I was glad I'd had a full nine months to talk my father into it. And that was only the first of the problems.
Carlisle and Esme were the easiest, but that was only because they were moving away. Grandfather had hit the point where he couldn't really pass for the age he claimed anymore. He'd considered taking a year away from the hospital, but just couldn't do it. It was his calling. He and Esme were going east, to New Hampshire. I think he'd hoped to lure Mama along to go to Dartmouth, finally, but she was resisting. She was resisting because I was resisting.
I didn't want to move away yet. I wanted to finish school with Jacob, and he was planning to finish High School on the reservation. Of course, what I wanted wasn't exactly easy to accomplish, but I can be very determined. So, after getting Edward to agree to let me go to school at all, I went to work on Billy and Jacob. I didn't want to go to school in Forks. My family was really pushing their luck being seen there at all anymore. I could have lived with Grandpa, but I wasn't any more excited about being driven to school in the cruiser than Mama had been. Meanwhile, Jacob needed to finish school, and he would be doing that right here in La Push. Of course, there was that little problem of blood. Not my diet, my heritage. Which is why I needed to push Billy over. If he would claim I was some relative, I could, theoretically, get in.
Billy was appalled at the idea. "You want to claim Quileute blood? A half vampire? The Maker save us. Taha Aki forgive me for even listening to this." He put his face into his hand.
I pouted prettily and tried to come up with a good argument. Then, I had it. I took Billy's hand and showed him me in a wedding dress beside Jacob. Me pregnant with Jacob's child. Me holding a tiny black haired baby. His teeth ground the whole time. "Wouldn't it be better if I could teach him about his heritage from experience?" I said as sweetly as I could. Jacob was looking at us in confusion. "You know it will happen. Alice couldn't have told me, but I know. And you know." I held his eyes and spoke with as much fervor and spirit as I could muster. A thirteen year-old's voice of conviction. Better than a five year-old's voice of conviction, I suppose. I'm glad he didn't laugh straight out at me. I tried to think of a way to strengthen my case. "And I don't have to claim Quileute blood. Your wife was Macah, wasn't she? I could be one of her relatives."
Jacob watched his father's face, wondering how much of this he was buying. "Are you seriously considering this, Pop?"
Billy hrmphed, and I knew I'd won. I only just managed to wipe my grin before it had fully formed. I kept my mouth somber, though I was sure my eyes danced. "Could you at least dye your hair or something?"
I started to bounce and then jumped in Billy's lap to hug him, "Thank you thank you thank you. Now I just have one other favor."
"Another one?" Jacob asked before Billy could even start to scowl.
"Much smaller, I think. If I'm going to school here, would it be all right if I stayed here too?" I looked down at my hands. I didn't think this part would be a problem, but I really hated making such big requests.
"Oh," Billy said, instantly more relaxed. "Well sure." I hugged Billy again and showed him me studying very quietly and cooking and cleaning up after myself and generally be as low hassle as possible. He laughed. "What would you cook?"
I backed up, slid my jaw to one side and bit my lip. He had me there. I'd never cooked anything besides some Brazilian birds for Jacob. "Whatever I can learn on the Food Network?" I suggested.
Jacob laughed now. "Make sure to focus on fish. Charlie'll love you too." I chuckled with them.
Hurtle one, down. Hurtle two, down. This was getting easier all the time, right? Wrong. Aunt Rose nearly had fits when I suggested moving in with Billy and Jacob. No one cared for that part really, but Rosalie was the worst.
"You smell like dog half the time as it is, and now you're going to live with one?"
Alice wasn't much better. "At least I can see 'around you' now. If you move there I won't see you at all," she mourned.
Mama was just sad I was moving out at all. "You... you don't want to stay with us?" How was I supposed to answer that?
"Of course I want to. I plan to come home every night for a little while. But it will be much easier, and much more plausible if I walk to and from the Black house, don't you think?"
She looked skeptical and totally unconvinced. I tried a new angle.
"You'd have even more time with Edward." Now that they knew I knew and was not bothered by their activities, they lingered in the bedroom longer and longer.
"I have eternity with Edward."
"You have eternity with me, too. This is the only time I'm going to be able to do junior high school. I'm never going to look thirteen again."
"No. You're not," she said a little remorsefully. Certainly that wasn't the hang up. Was it?
"You're worried because you'll miss me? Wouldn't you miss me anyway? I mean, you aren't coming to ninth grade with me, not without some serious makeup." I eyed her sideways.
"No age jokes," she warned. She was so sensitive, just because she was two years older than Edward.
"Almost two years," Edward put in from the piano. I stuck my tongue out at him.
"Regardless, if I'm at school eight hours and asleep eight hours, there's only eight left anyway. And you can cut a couple of those in travel time, unless you think I'm going to run to school. That might be a tad conspicuous." I pointed out sarcastically. "So if I come visit for an hour or two after school, you're really only losing my cranky morning hour and the two hours I'll be doing homework, right?" Mama's eyes narrowed. "Please?" I asked, changing tactics. "Please please please?" Now I put my hands together, literally begging. I wrapped them around her hand and showed her my longing to go to school with Jacob.
She groaned. "You're really all right with this?" she asked Edward.
I wasn't the mind reader, but I knew what my father was thinking right now. I'd won him with my earlier argument. He stopped playing to face me now, and I blushed a little and looked away. I started counting down from 100 in Greek. He shook his head and went back to playing.
"What?" Mama asked me.
Sixty-five, sixty-four, "Nothing, Mama. I'm sure Edward will tell you later," sixty-three, sixty-two. Show you more likely. Sixty-one... I heard a missed chord though.
"So, Edward. Are you Okay with this?" she insisted.
"You can stop counting, Ness. Yes. I'm fine with it. As long as she comes to visit. If you don't, I'm storming the Black house."
I had a terrible thought, you just want to check that I stay in my own room - eek! I didn't mean it, Dad! I didn't mean it!
He chuckled and I knew I was forgiven. "But you're not entirely wrong," he warned. I knew what he meant, what he didn't want to hear when Jacob and I came to visit.
I thought the same thoughts I had with Billy. Cleaning, cooking, studying. He laughed too. I stuck my tongue out at him again. I was instantly repentant though. "So I can go?"
Mama just shrugged reluctantly, "If that's what you want."
"It is! Oh thank you, Mama! Edward!" I hugged them both.
And so it was done. I had moved my wardrobe into Jacob's sisters' old room and put up pictures of my family on all the walls. I'd brought a case of hair dye with me. That was the one part I hadn't told any of my family about. I loved my hair color, Edward's color. It was unique. It was beautiful. It was mine. And it was gone. I'd cried a little in the shower as I applied it, but the shower drowned it out. I felt stupid crying about it, but I really was saying good-bye to my bronze curls for the next ten months, if not the next four years.
I looked at my new reflection with criticism. Well, it wasn't that bad actually. Without any expertise at all, I'd managed to choose a decent product. My curls were just as glossy as ever, but now there was almost a faint blue hue to them instead of red. It was very strange. Mama was going to kill me, but it was too late. My hair was black for the next three months at least. I pulled on my PJ's and went out to say good night to Jacob and Billy.
I got wolf-whistles, literally. I giggled. "I feel weird." I admitted, pulling a handful over my shoulder.
"Well you look gorgeous," Jacob told me. "'Course, you're still a pale face, but whatever." I smacked him with my towel, still blushing.
I looked to Billy now with raised eyebrows. "Will I pass?"
He smiled. "You'll pass."
I bounced a little and gave them each a hug before climbing into bed.
My first day was awful. The only good thing was Jacob walking me in the door. I was dressed ALL wrong. It was probably perfect for public school, especially in an upper class neighborhood, but this was an Indian reservation. Tailored blouses and designer jeans were a neon sign saying, 'I'm better than you,' to everyone I passed. It hadn't even occurred to me that my clothes wouldn't fit in here. I'd always been dressed by Alice, so I'd always been dressed in the best. I looked amazing. That was the problem. I drew stares from everyone and Jacob was off in another direction before I really had time to notice him go. I almost pulled him back with our bond, but I knew that wouldn't be fair to him. He was having trouble fitting in himself. He was supposed to have finished high school two years ago, not have two to go.
So I sucked it up. Then I ran for the washroom. I grabbed an empty stall and tried to piece myself back together. There wasn't a lot I could do about my clothes now. At least my raincoat was relatively normal. I'd just keep that on all day, buttoned up for the most part. And maybe I'd conveniently lose my boots. I could go barefoot. I'd look odd, but hopefully a better kind of odd. I took a deep breath and opened the stall door. I looked at myself in the grimy mirror and began to question my decision. I didn't look like I belonged here at all. I closed my eyes and pictured Jacob. I thought of him carrying his books in one arm and my hand in the other. His brilliant smile. I could do this for him. I could do this for us. I wanted this.
I opened my eyes again and started. "I didn't hear you come in," I told the girl now standing next to me.
"What are you doing here, paleface." It wasn't a question - it was a demand. Her dark eyes glared at me from her round face.
I'd expected this at least. Comments about my clothes, which would come, I wasn't as prepared for. "I am Vanessa Wolf. My father is Macah. You will not call me 'paleface' again, squaw." I made my eyes as hard as hers.
A smile twitched on her lips. "Well, Okay, then. Did I see you come in with Jacob Black?" she asked as she applied lip gloss.
I sighed with relief and smiled freely leaning on the counter. "Yeah. He's a second cousin, or something. Billy took pity on me when Dad passed. Do you mind?" I asked as she started to put the gloss away.
"You mean you don't have better in that Gucci?"
I snorted. "Cheap imitation," I lied. "You like it? I can get my hands on another."
"Nah, but thanks. I'm Ruby." She held out the gloss to me.
"Thanks." I put a little on and gave it back.
"So, you in the habit of ditching class? I thought I was the only one brass enough to do that first day."
"Crap, class started already?" I responded immediately and knew I'd just blown any points I'd won with Ruby. I closed my eyes and cussed quietly. "Yeah, I wasn't ditching. I was... well hiding, honestly."
She chuckled, "No kidding. Can't imagine why, paleface." She said it teasingly this time and I chuckled, too. "Ah, I can cut tomorrow; let's get to class."
I thought adding Ruby to the accepted camp was a coup. Sadly, she was not exactly popular herself, showing up late with her had even more people whispering behind my back. I couldn't help but feel better for having just one person who didn't think I was a stuck up white kid. She also wasn't the only one to call me on it.
"Hey, white girl," one boy called at lunch. Jacob half rose on the other side of the room, but I shook my head at him very quickly.
"Wolf. Don't cry wolf, you won't like what you get." Ruby snickered beside me.
I got a wolf whistle after that. I burst up to him, just shy of full speed and put a hand to his throat. "I warned you." I threatened. I felt a tingle in my palm. Was I really that mad? I didn't think so.
"Yeah, yeah you did," he quivered slightly. Then he licked his lips. "I won't make the same mistake twice." I pulled my hand away and walked back to Ruby and my rather non-existant lunch. I'd stuck to packaged things that I could reuse as many times as possible. I hated human food. Ooh, my mango. I bit straight through the skin.
"What is that?" Ruby asked.
I slurped juice and wiped my chin with my scarf. "Mango. Delish." I pulled my knife, a tool I was never without anymore, and sliced off a piece. "Try it. I love them, but I don't get to have them often."
Ruby definitely approved of mango.
Classes were even more dull than I had expected, but this was in large part due to first day overviews. We were just being given books for most of them. Science was definitely going to be the worst, I thought as I flipped through it. Closely followed by math. I'd stripped both these topics to shreds in my reading at home. History looked good. I'd studied Vampire history, but very little American history. English could go either way. The reading list was all familiar, but most of them I hadn't read in years. Years! I mean I read them when I was two. Still, discussion was the best part of that, so we'd see how it went. Then there was Lore; that was what they called it. Today it was just a list of essentials. Everyone needed a drum, everyone needed a feather. I was terribly curious what would come in this class.
I decided to ask Jacob as we walked home.
"So, I'm dating a tough chick; that's totally hot."
I shoved him. "I just don't want you in the habit of fighting my fights for me."
"Check. So what happens if I cry wolf?" he teased.
"You get pummeled until you have to turn into one!" I started swatting him.
He laughed, fending me off with a binder. "Did you see Claire? She noticed you."
"Claire?" It was one school on the res, so she would be there, I supposed. "No. I didn't think to look for her. I didn't scare her did I? I mean, being a tough-chick and all." I smiled.
He laughed again. "Maybe a little. Intimidated, not scared."
"Jacob, I need a feather and a drum for Lore. So, I know what the drum is and is for, and I figured you could line me up with one. But what do I need a feather for? Does it need to be a special feather or just any one? They weren't very clear before going into legends." I hoped he wasn't offended at my ignorance.
"Oh, yeah. That's for dancing. Doesn't have to special, no. But it should be. Special to you."
"Dance? We're going to be dancing?" I slowed as I digested that thought. I loved dancing. But I knew this wouldn't be ballroom, or ballet, or any other type of dance I was familiar with.
"I think you should snag a raven tail."
"I think I should. Gonna catch me when I fall?" I taunted.
"Always," he said, kissing me.
That night, I'd gone in search of a raven, and Goodwill. I was very glad Alice couldn't see me now, she'd never let me live it down. But I had some well loved clothing, jeans worn by actual wear, and I felt much more confident heading into my second day.