He watches snow fall from the clouds. Unburnished flakes of stardust, gathering around his naked feet, too delicate to feel frigid.
He watches springtime as it unfolds from the buried frost of the earth. Burning blossoms of fragile fire burst through the ground, too fast to overwhelm him.
He watches love. The forces of that love, coagulating and congregating, entwining into something so exquisite, he cannot even bear to look for this long...
But he keeps watching.
Only when he opens his eyes does he realize, he is the witness to a miracle.
Others around him are watching this miracle, too. He wants to share it with them all – every single one of them. Yet, a part of him wishes to cherish his miracle in the safe shade of secret. He is so convinced that the others can only snatch a snippet of what he sees.
They watch her unveil eyes of deepest cedar – eyes that, to their kind, are so delightfully foreign, so enchanting. Those eyes are the eyes of his wife staring up at him – human eyes – a curious testament to boundless confessions and truths.
The eyes of his daughter are a mahogany mystery, drawing him in like an ant to a candy bar. He is small and helpless as he watches those eyes, almost as small and helpless as the one to whom they belong...
One day this infant will no longer be so small and helpless. This is an unthinkable thought.
The frustrations of a first-time father are so profound, so deeply primal, so much like drowning. But in place of suffocation, there is instead an overabundance of breath in his lungs; in place of numbness, there is a feeling of being so distressingly alive.
There were so many times when Edward thought he felt alive for the very first time.
Waking up with the Scripture-studded gaze of Carlisle Cullen staring down at him.
Sinking his teeth into the neck of another number... another faceless, nameless victim.
Matching the lips of Bella with his own, beneath a wide gray sky full of doubt.
This feeling of true love, he believes, was what finally sent him scurrying out of his shell. Bella had always been such a puzzle to him. She was complicated and intriguing and wonderful, just begging to be solved. She was a thousand scattered pieces he needed to place in just the right way...
It was not until that fateful night on Isle Esme when he finally realized that he'd had the last piece all along...
He knew Bella's body and soul were yielding to his, crushing his fears, pulling him into the warmest of traps which he feared he would never want to escape. He even knew this was something sacred, as she met his eyes and whispered his name in that moment... he knew. But that her body would, by the very flood of his love, become a tabernacle for a second soul... he would have never known this.
The sheer, untampered beauty of their union had manifest itself in the form of something everlasting. This tiny person – this unpredictable angel of innocence named Renesmee.
He looks at her, in the awestruck and intoxicated way only a father can look at his daughter, and what he sees cripples him to the core. His soul, and Bella's soul. Two halves of one whole to create another... It was so simple – elementary, even. Like blue plus red equals purple.
A piece of himself; a piece of his Bella.
Never would he have dreamt that these two recklessly passionate ingredients yielded perfection.
But they had.
He was looking at her right this moment. He was watching soft petal eyelids flutter open and shut. He was touching impossibly tiny fingers, holding an impossibly tiny hand. He was listening to the restless pink hummingbird pulsing inside her chest. He was feeling her warmth radiating like rays of fragrant summer sunshine... and that warmth coated his aching heart.
Her body was so small, rendered into soft shapes, separate limbs... round belly, round cheeks, round eyes. Her skin was addictive to touch, positively insulting to velvet... her coloring that of a milky rose. Her hair fell in dark ringlets of silk around her forehead, stray curls curving to frame tiny ears. She was precious, and he could have murmured all descriptors of how precious she was, but there were no words.
And so he watched her, eyes drinking in every last nuance of her body. Her every breath was a tiny breeze that awakened the air around him and filled each particle with uncontainable joy. Those particles were dancing around him because she was breathing... Her breath was music, and his heart sang with it; his lungs followed her rhythm like it was a religion.
She was so fragile. And she made him feel so fragile. But this was a welcome feeling, a feeling to be savored. He knew that their love was anything but fragile – it was indestructible.
He had seen this love before – the ways it danced and bloomed like an unrelenting vine, winding itself through every heart in his family. But he had seen a glimpse of it in its purest form, a spark in the passing glance of his father, so many times since he'd been delivered from humanity. Carlisle would sometimes look at Edward this way... in an unsettlingly striking golden grasp of fondness, and appreciation so intense it bordered divinity.
Edward could be surrounded by every other member of his family – just one amongst the crowd – but when Carlisle caught his son's gaze in this way, the elder's mind whispered these same silent words:
"You were the first."
This, Edward now knew, was the very way he would look upon his own daughter. This was the source of the fount, the beam of light who promised to bring a long lost sailor home after ages on a black sea of hopeless voyage.
With her blindly reaching hand and her five curling fingers, Renesmee had pulled both her parents ashore from the waters. They were once lost at sea, but Renesmee had led them home.
Forever in debt to her for the timely rescue, Edward dropped his anchor wherever his daughter happened to be. He wished to spend not single a moment away from her side. If she was not within the field of his gaze, he panicked inside. It was a fierce, silent, visceral panic. He needed her, the way he thought he would ever only need Bella.
How could he have ever thought his heart to be useless in this life? How could he have let himself go on for so long, believing his soul was as brittle as stained glass; that immortality had stripped him bare of his ability to love?
When Bella finally held a lantern to his darkness, he had seen all of the endless spaces that needed to be filled. With Bella alone, he thought, he would be able to fill them all. Together they could bring light to every corner.
Well, they could have very well done it, but now they were three instead of just two.
Oh, the heart does not strain to fit another in its loving embrace. Edward's heart was as eager as Bella's, as if they had both been longing to take in another. As if they had known from the beginning how their completeness could only be welded further by this chocolate-eyed cherub, this miracle with eyes and hands and feet and a heart of her very own...
It brings Edward such ridiculous jubilation to think that this tiny creature holds the capacity to love him unconditionally in return. As content as he would have been to simply love her recklessly for the rest of eternity, he knows this will not be the case. And this staggers him. He can see that Bella is just as floored at the prospect.
The things they had to look forward to, together...
He can imagine these things, now. For a few moments he savors the hopeful premonitions.
Holding her against his chest as he walks along an endless beach, the sand sparkling like silver dust beneath their feet, the sun singing the music of morning. Clouds parting for their intrusion as they climb the crests of cotton waves. They are together. Just a father and his daughter, their bodies clad in white linen that plays shy games with the wind.
Keeping her close through the night as a storm sweeps in around them, the lightning striking like platinum threads against the sky, the thunder stuttering songs of solitude. Covers parting for their intrusion as they sink in a soothing sea of patchwork quilts. They are together. Just a father and his daughter, their bodies clad in plaid flannel that plays mischievous games with the static.
Lifting her up as they run through a meadow, the grass swaying like thin emerald fingers around their ankles, the insects humming the tune of tranquility. Flowers parting for their intrusion as they chase the seasons of spring and summer. They are together. Just a father and his daughter, their bodies clad in denim and cotton that play carefree games with the butterflies.
In time, he would watch this miracle grow into something even more amazing...
He takes his immaculate daughter into his arms; her skin burns him with its searing softness, her warmth streaming through him like chords of tender fire. She is so oblivious, staring up at him, her eyes boiling with trust and truth. She has no idea how her glassy gaze makes her father's soul tremble with gratitude, or how the warmth of her skin sends chills racing up his icy arms.
He holds her ever closer, the firm angle of his cool cheek brushing against the velvet pillow of her own. Her lips touch his face as his eyes wilt their surrender, and the faintest pressure of her touch is so inconceivably powerful, it sends him visions of the world as she sees it, rushing like rapids of love and glittering wonder through his mind.
They were one in the same, yet ages apart and so, so different. They had so much to teach each other, so much to learn, and so much to rejoice in.
Her kiss is as light as air but as brilliant as the sky itself, proof that majesty can be born from something so simple and so easy to miss.
They have a tangible but untouchable connection – a father and his daughter – passing the blistering affection and trust between one another through this pastel kiss.
As faint and tiny as it was, that kiss had left him breathless.
He watches her grow, taking small steps that need the aid of a stronger hand. And before he knows it, she is taking long leaps without the help of anyone else.
It is happening too fast.
Oh, some parents thought they knew the worst of perils as they watched their children grow up. But they were blessed, for they could not see that new millimeter added to their baby's leg overnight. They did not have to witness the physical manifestation of that growth at supernatural speeds before their eyes.
But he did.
He would not have changed Renesmee for the world, but heaven help him, he would have wished for just a little more time... Time to lose himself in that fascinating flow of development, watching her every step of the way.
But in the midst of her steadfast evolution she promises him so much joy. Already, he can see it, shining in her tender smile. She shows him fantastical evidence of their promised future when he holds her, and she graces him with a wild and wonderful insight into her mind.
In these visions, Edward can see the way Renesmee sees him. The way she looks up to him as a faithful caregiver, a passionate protector, a loyal friend... each a vital ingredient in the formula which yields a father.
He can see her love for him, and it reminds him of stones that cannot be worn by the rush of a stream, evergreens that will withstand the frigid floss of snow on their branches, stars that will last longer than life allows, light that continues to pierce their eyes ages after they are gone...
As this blessing of Renesmee's love breaks and mends his heart, Edward takes her small enough hands in his and makes a promise of his own.
He will be there for her, whenever she calls, and in the times when she cannot call for him. He will care for her, and he will protect her, and he will be her friend, in a faithful test of time.
And she will love him unconditionally, no matter what he does; no matter how far their troubles take them to the edge of the shores... She will pull him back; she will shine like the strongest star in a clear winter's night and lead him back to the light.
Forever they will be together, father and daughter, by the covenant cast in a perfect, pastel kiss.