"DANCING ON DADDY'S SHOES"
"Such a remarkable girl!" Aro exclaimed as he brushed his icy fingers across my cheek. "I'm so pleased that you'll be coming with us."
With a loud gasp, I jerked upright in bed. When it snaked its way into my brain at night, that nightmare went in one of two directions: either Aro took me away to Volterra or he took my family away from me. No matter what, I was always left alone, either in the lonely field in Forks that my family had never set foot in again or in a cold state of servitude in Volterra, Italy, a place I'd never actually visited.
In reality, though, it was just a dream, and I was safe at home. My pale blue walls that Grandma Esme had designed, the numerous family photos, the wood carvings Jacob gave me, and the dirty sneakers and baseball bat littered about my floor were all signs that the world was right, that I was with my family, that we were all secure. Nevertheless, when I dreamed of Aro, sleep never returned easily for me. I was wide awake at that point.
I shuffled out of bed and went to my bedroom door. Piano recordings that were unmistakably my father's works drifted up the stairs, along with the occasional girlish giggle from my mother, which often mingled with his own throaty laugh. I loved to hear them when they were carefree and together. It took the edge off of my nightmares.
We had all been absurdly happy since moving to New Hampshire a month ago, even if it had been hard to leave Forks. We missed Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Sue, as well as the people of La Push. I missed the cottage I had spent my first five years in with Momma and Daddy. Even so, when we left, our sad departure gave way to an exciting fresh start. Forks held many memories, both good and bad, while New Hampshire was a blank canvas on which we could do anything we wanted.
Moving as quietly as I could, I slipped from my bedroom and edged to the stairwell. I carefully peered through the uppermost bars of the white railing that looked down onto the large, hardwood-floored living room. Our New Hampshire home was many times larger and more extravagant than the cottage in Forks, much to my mother's chagrin, but right now she didn't seem to mind the extra floor space that my father had talked her into.
The room was alight in the soft yellow glow of candlelight and firelight, and the sofa had been shoved against a far wall. My parents—Momma in a long, red form-fitting dress and Daddy in a black tuxedo with tails—waltzed together expertly, so attuned to one another that neither noticed my presence, not even my fluttering heartbeat. Perhaps Momma shielded me, too. She sometimes did that to give Daddy a break from the constant buzz of background thoughts, or when I needed the extra privacy. In the last several months, I learned there were just some things I didn't want my father knowing, even if he couldn't really help the situation any more than I could. Our relationship was a million times better when my father was not aware of the intricacies of my period or the fact that I had a crush on Jacob Black. We unashamedly depended on my mother to make things easier for both of us.
I watched my father kiss my mother so deeply that it made me blush and feel a little queasy, all at once. They were often heavy on the "PDA," as Uncle Emmett called it, but it was especially bad when they thought no one was watching.
With a boyish grin, my father dipped my mother backward. Her spine sloped at a sharp angle that would surely break a human in half, but she didn't seem to mind in the least. Instead, she laughed loudly just before Daddy leaned over her and kissed her exposed throat. Her head fell back even farther, and that was when she caught sight of me at the stairs, her eyes widening.
Momma could be very funny when embarrassed, and now was no exception. She flew from my father's grasp, leaving him empty-handed and momentarily bewildered. "Renesmee!" she said with a shy smile, her eyes darting between my father and me.
Running a hand through his unruly hair, Daddy let out an awkward cough. "Bad dreams, sweetheart?"
Resisting the urge to chuckle at my parents, I nodded. "It's okay, though." I frowned. "Sorry I interrupted you. You just looked so graceful," I said with a whisper. "It was fun to watch."
Ever since hitting what was, for me, a stage of puberty, I had become painfully clumsy in anything that didn't require a fast pace. I could still hunt and run, thankfully, but walking was virtually impossible, it seemed, ungainly as I was now. My family had never been more thankful for my thick skin.
"It's all right," my father said. "I think it's best that we stop now, anyway, don't you, Bella?" He smirked at my mother, and I wondered how he could think such innuendo was still lost on me. Gross.
When he frowned deeply in my direction, I winced. I wasn't shielded anymore, clearly. Sorry, I thought to him. I wished Momma would give more warning when she did that. He nodded in agreement.
Looking between my father and me again, a curious expression on her face, my mother muttered, "I needed to see Alice tonight. I'll do that now." She smiled up at my father and brushed her fingers along his jaw. He returned her smile and ducked his head in the way he did when they were silently communicating. They had perfected it over the last couple of years. And then, with a wave goodbye, Momma swiftly left our house via the back door. I knew Aunt Alice was going to have a fit when she saw my mother had run in that beautiful gown.
My father grinned. "Yes, Alice will be livid over that," he agreed. His face grew serious quickly. "Are you sure you're all right?"
I scrambled down the stairs, careful to keep a hand on the side railing as I descended. Wordlessly, I went and hugged myself around my father, squeezing him as tightly as I could. "I'm okay." I breathed in his comforting scent and enjoyed the silence of his chest. Though it might unnerve humans, hearing nothing when I was against my father or mother was what I was used to, what made me feel at home and safe. A beating heart would seem out of place. Daddy kissed my hair, in response to my thoughts.
From where my head rested on his chest, I saw a red, heart-shaped card set out on the couch and paled. "Oh no! Valentine's Day! I'm so sorry, Daddy!" I'd ruined everything for them.
He chuckled and hugged me tighter. "Don't worry about it. It's two in the morning, so the day's only now begun. Besides, it's a rather commercial holiday, and your mother doesn't allow me to give her anything more than a card and perhaps some flowers, so this is just another day, for the most part."
I looked up at him incredulously. "So you guys dance down here a lot, then?"
"Sometimes," he said, his eyes crinkled up in delight. "It is nice that your mother no longer feels so embarrassed to dance."
He nodded with a chuckle. "Most definitely. She needn't have felt as embarrassed as she did, but your mother was rather clumsy before she was turned."
"Even when it came to dancing?" I had heard many stories about Momma's clumsiness—which was of "epic" proportions, according to Uncle Emmett—but I'd never thought of her not dancing with the natural elegance she possessed as a vampire.
"Emmett's right. It was fairly epic," he laughed. "Especially when dancing. I'm surprised he never told you that, considering how much he loves to goad your mother… She just thought too much about it. She often felt insecure when she had no reason to."
Maybe I'm like that, I thought.
"I'd say you are a bit that way, for now," he whispered softly. "But, really, you're a beautiful, smart girl who can do anything—you just have to get to the point where you believe that about yourself."
I blushed and looked away from him, into the crackling fire burning in the flagstone fireplace. My mind conjured up the images of my parents' beautifully slow waltz. I doubted I'd ever be as beautiful or coordinated as my mother.
"Renesmee," Daddy said and tilted my chin up with his kind, cool fingers. "Would you like to dance?"
My eyes bugged out. "I can't."
He released his hold on me and sped to the large sound system, turning it to a different piano piece. He returned to me in another split second. "You don't have to know how," he said with a grin and lifted me up effortlessly until my feet were atop his polished leather shoes.
"Daddy…" I huffed and rolled my eyes.
"What? This is how your mother survived junior prom."
He spoke as if "dancing" this way was the most natural thing in the world to do, but it made me feel silly.
"I'm sure you mother felt much the same at first." He smirked. "But have a little faith. I won't step on your toes, and you can't hurt mine, so enjoy yourself."
I bit my lip as he placed my left hand on his shoulder and then extended our other two hands out from our side. "Relax," he commanded. "Just have fun. I won't laugh if anything happens."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, you will." He was greatly amused that I had inherited even a fraction of my mother's clumsiness, and try as he might to hide it, I didn't miss the barely contained smirks and laughs.
"All right," he said with a snort. "I won't laugh much. If anything happens, I will only chuckle, at most."
Slowly, my father began to move, shifting my weight along with his as if I were nothing but a feather. We twirled across the wood floors, his shoes clapping down in the mastered moves I couldn't imagine matching at this point in my life, but it didn't matter. I could feel them, and I trusted him implicitly. I didn't have to be anyone but who I was in that moment, which was a very good thing, because normally I'd feel pretty self-conscious in pajamas beside someone in a dress suit. But not with my father.
The next track played, and I recognized it as my lullaby. I beamed up at him.
"Smiling is a good sign still, yes?" he asked with a chuckle.
"I believe so."
"Good. I want you to be happy. That's what I always want for you, little one."
We moved silently for several other tracks before I began to feel fatigued, even though my father was the one doing all the work. I leaned into his embrace and moved my arms around his waist. He moved more slowly. "Can we dance more tomorrow?" I asked, sad that this moment had to end because of my silly, human need to rest.
"It's not silly, and I'd love nothing more. If you weren't going to fall asleep any minute now, I'd dance with you for as long as you could stand it. We might be here for most of eternity."
I grinned through a yawn. Daddy was wrapped around my little finger, and we both knew it, but I tried hard not to take advantage of that fact. No one could be as grateful for her parents as I was. I worked hard to be a good daughter, as a means of showing my appreciation.
After all, my mother had given her human life for me when I had unknowingly been stealing it right from her, and my father had overcome all remnants of the strongest bloodlust he had ever experienced to save her for both of us. And then, again, on the New Year's Day that still haunted my dreams sometimes, as it had this night, both my parents stood and fought for me. I knew they never would have stopped fighting, if it came down to it, such was their never-ending love for me.
Removing one of my hands from my father's shoulder, I placed it against his cool cheek, showing him his face as it was right now and trying desperately to communicate my love and gratitude. I knew I didn't need to press my hand to his face to do this, but he loved when I did. I love you, I thought to him.
"I love you, too, little wren," he said in a soft, choked up whisper. I smiled at the nickname he reserved for our most precious moments.
He gently flung me out in a twirl, then, which I awkwardly completed with a squeal before coming back to him and putting my feet on top of his again. "You have your mother's laugh," he told me with a radiant smile.
"Well, I'm sort of glad that I don't sound like a boy," I teased.
He smirked at me before letting out a mock sigh. "I'm afraid you might be turning out to be as sarcastic as both of us combined."
As we danced slowly in what was probably going to be our last dance for the night, my thoughts drifted. "Do you think Jacob will ever want to dance with me?" I asked suddenly. The thought of dancing with Jacob made me feel warm and happy. I wasn't sure why, considering I'd seen him dance with my mother once or twice, and he was terrible, but that didn't matter in the least. The thought also worried me a little. Would he even want to dance with me?
My father grimaced like he did when he heard thoughts that offended him. "I'm sure he would be all too eager, but isn't it enough to dance with your dear old dad for now?"
"Oh. I didn't mean it that way…" I frowned and shifted my gaze downward, frustrated by my father's mood swings when it came to my best friend. I stared at my father's large feet, which were encased in shiny, black dress shoes, where mine, pale and bare and tiny in comparison, rested atop them. My toenails were painted a pretty plumb color, courtesy of Aunt Rose.
After a moment, I looked back into my father's eyes. He looked a little afraid, and I understood why. Sometimes I was afraid, too. Everything always happened so quickly in my life. My growing pains were hard on all of us. "No one's ever going to take me from you, Daddy," I assured him. Not even my Jacob, I added silently.
While his face didn't smooth out entirely, he relaxed some and pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead. "And I will always be there for you, Ness, no matter what." He frowned then. "I may be especially present when it comes to your Jacob."
I giggled at his silliness before my mouth stretched wide in a yawn. Still standing on his shoes, I leaned up on my toes and kissed his cheek. "I think I'll go back to bed now, Daddy." I hopped off his feet, but continued to smile up at him. "Thanks for the dance," I whispered timidly. "It made me feel a little less clumsy—probably because you were doing all the dancing." I laughed and felt familiar warmth rise to my cheeks.
"You'll outgrow it," he told me with a somewhat wistful smile that seemed to suggest I'd outgrow much more than clumsiness. He kissed my forehead once more, and then turned me toward the staircase with a gentle shove to my shoulders. "Go to bed," he said, and then asked in a soft voice, "Do you want me to tuck you in?"
I glanced at him over my shoulder, taking in his sad, golden eyes. At my request, neither of my parents had tucked me in for several months now. I just hadn't felt like I needed their help any more. He missed our nighttime ritual, I realized, and his sadness tugged at my heart.
A sheepish smile crossed his lips as he listened to my thoughts. "My overly-observant daughter," he said with a sigh. "That would be your mother's genes."
In truth, it was probably both my parents' genes, for how observant must my father have been as a human to have be gifted with the ability to read minds? He smiled at the thought.
"Come on," I said, grinning and tugging at his large, alabaster hand. "There might still be some monsters under my bed that I need you to take care of."
I removed my fingers from my father's forever-youthful face and gave him a watery smile. "Aunt Alice is going to kill me when she sees what I've done to my makeup," I laughed, rubbing at the smudged mascara under one eye.
Dad returned my weak smile and brushed at the tears on my other cheek with the pad of his thumb. "I'm not sure why she put it on you. It's not as if you need makeup to look beautiful in the first place." He tucked a stray curl behind my ear as I rolled my eyes. "Thank you for that. That's one of my favorite moments with you, too."
Grabbing at one of his hands, I squeezed it tightly. "Ready?"
He smirked. "As your old man, I believe I'm the one who's supposed to be asking you that," he teased.
"Yeah, but I don't know of too many fathers that have to see their daughters get married nine years after they were born."
"This is true," he sighed. He moved his chilly hands to cup my face tenderly. They felt soothing against my abnormally warm skin. "Renesmee, please understand that though today is hard for me to watch, I love you dearly. All your mother and I want for you is happiness." His eyes shifted to the doorway that led to my future. "If an unworthy dog is what makes you happy, I will tolerate that, so long as he works tirelessly to earn your affections—and don't think I won't be watching. Always. Forever."
"Daddy," I admonished with a small laugh. He gave me a lopsided, shameless grin.
Aunt Alice had, of course, outdone herself. My grandparents' backyard at their old Forks home had been transformed into a simple, but beautiful place for a wedding. White and pale pink roses lined the aisle, contrasting with the deep burgundy bouquet that I would later throw to my few human friends, most of whom were from the Quileute tribe.
The walk down the short aisle with my father was bittersweet, as one of his compositions lilted in the background. And I was distinctly aware that though nothing would ever lessen my love for my parents, or theirs for me, that today was a big day for a great number of reasons. I knew I was expanding myself, my time and attention, to include Jacob Black. He had always been there, had always loved me and been in my life, but today it would be more than that—a public commitment to him, to be his wife, for him to be my husband.
Though I was my own person, through and through, it almost felt like I was betraying my mother and father, who had, just from the luck of my genetic makeup, had so little time with me. And yet, Jacob was my future. I wanted this, wanted him, more than I had ever wanted anything.
Dad squeezed me to his side tightly before handing me over to Jacob. He whispered, "Don't worry, little wren. Nothing could ever take you from us." I could hear in his voice that he would be crying now, if he could.
Smiling, Jacob grasped my shaking hands and directed a nod to my father.
As I stared into the dark, warm eyes that I so loved, I sent out my heartfelt thoughts to my father.
I love you, Daddy. And I can't wait to dance with you tonight. I hope you won't mind my taking off these heels and letting you do all the work.
Author's Notes: Though I think "Breaking Dawn" itself could have been written better, I happen to be one who likes Renesmee, perhaps because of her potential as a character. She would be devastatingly flawed, destined to endlessly blame herself, as both her parents so often did, and the nature of a precocious mind in an oddly-advancing body would be an interesting thing to explore. I hope I have portrayed both of these things in this one-shot.
Moreover, something I frequently encounter in fics that feature Renesmee is that she is either too childish, which isn't consistent with the books, really, or too bratty, which doesn't seem like it would be in character to me. While there's not question that she'd be spoiled, I don't think someone who's witnessed death at such a young age and barely escaped it herself-and remember it perfectly-would be that much of an "erratic teen." (The crazy, hormonal teen is a stereotype that is all too often used.) In fact, I think an experience like that would make for a pretty humble person, especially one with a more mature mind.
I hope you enjoyed my venture into Renesmee's mind, as well as Edward's fatherly love. It was fun to write!