Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created this little world I like to play in.
Thanks to those of you that went over to the Fandom Choice Awards. The Ancient Woman didn't place in the Best Villain category, but I really do appreciate those that took the time to cast a vote. I need to find the time to go and read some of the stories that were honored!
My beta and I are going to try hard to set a regular update schedule, most likely on Sundays, so I hope you will enjoy as the story starts to pick up steam.
We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children,
That makes the heart too big for the body."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I knew it!" she chanted, before sneaking her hands up to cup his cheeks. "Hey!" she giggled, patting his face lightly, her face breaking into a wide smile.
Carlisle was luminous, and his cultured voice did nothing to eliminate the angelic vision she'd carried of him for so long. "Hello, little one!"
She smiled and laid her head down on his cold shoulder for just a moment, closing her eyes in peace. Her thoughts matched her expression. Deep within, where the mind often recalled, examined, and questioned memories, Carlisle had come to represent all that was magical for her. That he was truly here, that she was able to touch him, that he was the same…that he was that elusive being that she'd held against all logical explanations in her mind as true, that the memory of his – and our - otherworldly presence, musical voice and kindness toward her that Christmas Eve; all of these had given her moments of true respite from the chaos and pain of the last few years. In effect, her extremely vivid memory of Carlisle had become both an anchor and a bulwark of tranquility in her mind. Jasper rested his eyes on the child with a small smile curving his lips, his thoughts a mixture of happiness and jealousy at her emotions. He wanted to be the one touching her…even though he understood and accepted that Victoria had made the first connection with Carlisle and so was therefore the one she would relate to first.
Softly brushing Victoria's hair back, Carlisle smoothed his hand down her back in a very paternal manner.
"You helped us," Victoria murmured. "My Mama and I...things were better after you to talked to the Big Man for us." But she pulled back and tears filled her eyes. "But someone really mean hurt my Mama."
"I know, little one. I'm sorry," he said solemnly, his eyes becoming liquid gold.
"Is she okay now?" Victoria asked. "My Mama…" she clarified just in case Carlisle couldn't follow her thoughts.
Carlisle didn't even have to think twice about his answer. "Yes." His beliefs about Heaven were clear, and the sincerity of his response settled her. She imagined her mother in a long floating gown walking through a palatial palace…the epitome of a ten year old's heaven.
I wasn't certain what I believed the hereafter to be. Certainly, I had experienced a kind of otherworld in my spirit walks with the twins. And having seen spirits for myself, I could not help but believe that there was indeed a Heaven and a Hell. But after having felt the warmth that Marcus did when Didyme grabbed his hand and the feeling of security when Marcus, Billy, and Old Quil…even Stefan and Valdimir…protected me, I knew only one thing - it was a good place. It was neither fair nor just that Saralyn had been killed – and since when is evil known for that? But what I did know is that her physical remains rested in a special place on our land, her grave plot cherished even…through Jasper's care of the sacred ground and the dogwood tree next to it. I was absolutely certain in my personal faith and beyond rational logic that her immortal soul was truly at peace.
Carlisle's next words interrupted my distant thoughts as I returned my attention to the child. "But sweetheart, I say that because it is what I believe, not because it is something I've seen."
The honey-blonde maned girl grinned shyly, unconsciously imitating Jasper, thinking that he was being secretive, and she was willing to play the game.
"I trust you. If you say she is okay, I believe you. Charlie tells me that his friend is in heaven too. So maybe they are hanging out together." Charlie smiled through his mustache at this, his hand squeezing Sue's as she fought back a momentary surge of emotion.
It was such a pre-teen thing to say, that it reminded us all of why we were here.
Ellie stepped to her father's side and put her hand on the shoulder Victoria wasn't laying upon. When the human girl finally moved back, she startled for a moment seeing Ellie there, but the young woman smiled swiftly to Victoria, earning a quick grin in return.
"Victoria…this is…" Ellie smiled up at Carlisle and then over to Esme who joined them quickly "…these are my parents." She scooted under Esme's arm, wrapping her arm around our mother's waist. "This is Esme…" she grinned broadly "…my mother." She said the word with such reverence that it brought a sheen to Esme's eyes. "And this…" Ellie placed her hand back on Carlisle's shoulder "…is my father, Carlisle."
"But…" Still equating us to angels, Victoria couldn't quite accept what she was hearing.
William came to her side, unable to stand the disquiet in her voice. His begging eyes had Jacob and Nessie moving closer. "Victoria, this is my mother and father. Renesmee and Jacob."
Victoria looked up to Jacob and then over to my tiny daughter, and their youthfulness made her take a second breath before she could talk. "Angels can have kids?"
Emmett broke first, his booming laughter filling the room and causing her to glance around to really notice the rest of us. Angelic was not an attribute he would've used to describe Jacob, much less in his snarling, fierce wolf form. Even for Ness it was a stretch; she was just too mischievous. But my goof ball brother's humor was what was needed, and Victoria broke out in a huge grin and laughing lightly before looking at each couple in the room. When her eyes landed on me, they widened and Bella snickered, as did the others. For God's sake…it was just a face! Tearing her gaze from me, she continued to move around the room, her eyes finally touching over Emmett and Rose, who smiled.
"I remember you all…" she declared, as she carefully went back in her memory of us on that Christmas Eve, lined up near the votive candles, mentally ticking each off on a list. Smiling shyly at Anna, she did a double take on Henry.
Henry was a kid magnet as well, his uncommon beauty really setting him apart. His clear blue eyes, pale skin, flushed slightly, and black hair gave him the look of an Irish rogue, but the warmth that his vampiric charisma exuded and his body physically radiated off, lured women and children in. She couldn't resist the twinkle in his eyes and giggled.
"Let me introduce you," William said softly in a gentle rumble. Then he dropped to a knee beside Carlisle, putting himself more at her level. "But first, I'm going to ask that you understand that we're a little different."
"Duh…" she muttered, thinking we wouldn't hear. Bella squeezed my hand, trying to distract us both; otherwise, I might have laughed.
Victoria looked over to Charlie and Sue for permission, and upon receiving it, she followed the small steps William had made. He nodded to Jacob and Nessie. "As I said before…they are my parents. Unfortunately, I'm told I'm a lot like my dad."
Jacob and Bella chuckled ruefully at that, but Nessie distracted her by taking Victoria into her arms and giving her a smothering hug. "It is so nice to finally meet you." Although Victoria noticed the difference of Nessie's temperature, as she had William's in the past, the warmth of the hug she received from my baby at least took the edge off of her fears.
William next stepped to Emmett, Rose, Henry, and Anna. He introduced them by name, and Victoria stood in reverence of Rose's beauty. Long gone was the cynicism and bitterness that had made my sister brittle…the only flaw in her façade. Happiness had rendered Rosalie nearly perfect.
"You are so pretty," Victoria said in an awed tone.
"Oh…sweetie…I think you are the most precious thing I've seen in a long time," Rose replied sincerely. She couldn't help but reach out and cradle Victoria's face. At the feel of Rosalie's cold hand, the little girl lit up with contentment. A thought stirred in her mind that angels should be warmer, but she was willing to accept our nature immediately…as she had before.
Emmett nudged William, letting him know to "fess up."
William took a deep breath and caught Victoria's attention from Rosalie. "Okay…so remember that whole different thing? Here's where it starts." He glanced back at Emmett and Rosalie, and then waved a hand at them. "They are Henry's parents." He moved his hand over to the dark-headed exotic woman beside Henry. "Anna's his wife."
"Okay." She was still focusing on how youthful that Emmett and Rosalie looked, but it really hadn't hit her. She was a highly intelligent young lady, but she was still just a ten year old. She looked curiously at Anna, and her beauty, before moving forward with William.
Seth came next, and the tall man too smiled softly at her before taking the initiative away from William and introducing himself. He extended a beefy hand to the girl, who shook it carefully, inhaling in surprise at the heat of his palm. "I'm Seth, Jacob's friend, and Bella's stepbrother. Sue's my mom."
Her eyes rounded at the realization that she'd been living with his parent. "Bella?" she asked in our direction. She'd seen the pictures of Bella and me at Charlie's and Sue's. It was then that she realized that the little girl she'd seen in the pictures with us was most likely Renesmee; her mind noting that Nessie's features, coloring, and curls were exactly the same in all the photos.
"That's me…" Bella confirmed her suspicions quickly, grinning good-naturedly down at Victoria.
Victoria blushed looking toward us, and bowed her head slightly, embarrassed at her reaction to me. Emmett started to tease, but I glared at him in warning. Taking Carlisle's and William's guidance, Bella gently sat down to her knees. Bella was so tiny that Victoria actually looked down at her.
"Charlie's my dad."
Victoria stumbled a little, hearing the contrast in her musical voice identifying her rougher-voiced father. Her thoughts pursued the idea that if Bella was an angel, then how could Charlie be her father, unless she'd died? Her mind further pursued that if that was so, whether it was possible for her mother to come back to her as well. The idea both intrigued and upset her.
I shifted my foot very minutely in discomfort at that thought; my actions were picked up by all the immortals in the room. I did not want to cause the child further pain, but at the same time, knew I would have to correct her fleeting thought.
"And this is my husband, Edward," Bella introduced me, providing a little distraction.
I was thankful, for one of the few times in my life, for my face then, because Victoria was immediately taken in and relaxed under my attention. "Hello," I said quickly and then smiled. Jasper helped, giving her a quick dose of calm.
She turned her head slightly to the side, looking at me quizzically. "How did you get that scar?" As soon as the dazzling effect had worn off, she'd seen it.
"Fighting a very bad man," Bella supplied, and I wanted to growl at her. Her answer only perpetuated Victoria's beliefs. She was imagining a battle of epic proportions between legions of angels and demons played out on an ethereal plane of existence; the flashing winged figures swooping down on the rising dark clouds of evil beasts issuing from below.
Victoria's smile was blinding just before she astonished me with her thoughts and then the others with her words. "I see that the Big Man didn't let you lose."
My eyes went wide at her child-like belief that the Big Man had anything to do with what had occurred; though I had to admit that I felt the ethereal presence of Fate – perhaps acting as an agent of Him - stepping in when I faced Caius and Aro's horde. I opened my mouth very slightly to respond but thought better of it. Perhaps it was true. Certainly Carlisle would whole-heartedly concur.
William stepped in to redirect the conversation. "Okay…so some more weirdness." He took Bella's hand and laced their fingers together, then glanced up lovingly at us before returning his eyes to Victoria.
"They are my Nonno and Nonna."
Victoria tilted her head to one side as she stared in confusion at us, because she wasn't sure of what the Italian words meant. Thankfully Nessie and Jacob walked up to us, Stefanie in tow. Ness was the perfect balance of Bella and me, so once William cleared up his uncharacteristic blunder, hopefully, Victoria would be able to see the truth before her eyes.
"William…" I hissed at him. "Clear it up." Victoria had been distracted by Stefanie, who she considered a dear friend, so she missed the look I traded with my grandson.
Taking a deep breath, William forged on. "Victoria, Bella and Edward are my grandmother and grandfather. Nonno and Nonna are the Italian words for them. Carlisle and Esme are our great grandmother and grandfather."
"What?" Her calm began to crack.
Carlisle moved to her other side hearing the stress in her voice. "Victoria, sweetheart…do you trust Charlie and Sue?"
It was a good move on Carlisle's part, because Bella's and Seth's parents had come to mean the world to her.
"Yes," she answered without reservation, and bobbed her head, turning to look toward Charlie and Sue for reassurance.
Charlie nodded in his typical silent, but strong, manner. He looked steadily and keenly at the child, and smiled quietly before lifting his eyes to Bella and me. Sue linked her arm through Charlie's, then leaned against him. "It's okay," she mouthed to Victoria.
"Do you trust me?" Carlisle asked next. It wasn't a question of ego; he was just wise enough to know that she'd focused on him those few years ago…and again just now.
She turned and saw the pure love in Carlisle's face. Our father didn't have to be a good liar, or use the many skills at subterfuge he'd perfected over the years; his sincerity was plain and simple. And, Victoria fell victim to it.
"I do," she squeaked. "But how?"
She turned again, looking at me closely to see if she could see any similarities to Esme or Carlisle. It was then that she really noticed our eyes. Her gaze swiftly looked at each of us, checking to see that we all had golden eyes, save for Henry's crystal blue eyes, Nessie's chocolate brown, Ellie's whiskey ones, Stefanie's emerald green, and the Quileutes' dark brown eyes. Her mind jerked from the realization, but I didn't feel fear from her, just confusion. Grasping for something, she moved to Renesmee, and it was then that a degree of calm reappeared in her face. It was clear to her that our baby was a mixture of Bella and me. It didn't hurt that Nessie was standing beside a still-kneeling Bella, and that they were almost identical images of each other aside from their coloring and hair.
"It's part of our differences," William said simply.
"Are the red eyed ones the same?" Thank God she was only referring to Fred, his handsome face clear in her mind.
All eyes turned to me, and this time she didn't miss it. Her curiosity sparked as to why everyone would look to me. So much to explain…thank goodness, we were wise enough to have limited what we would do this day. But her question begged to be answered.
I shook my head. "Yes and no. That is a difficult question to answer, little one. The red eyed ones are similar to us, but a lot of them…live differently. They can be very dangerous to someone like you."
"Because they all work for the other guy?" she said in a simplistic explanation. It was the way a child would think…the black and white of good versus evil.
I knelt so that I would be beside Bella. This was the debate that'd shaped my existence for almost a hundred years. If it had taken me a century and the benefit of an intelligent and stubborn mate to finally come to peace, what would it take for a child who'd lost almost everything?
"No, they don't all work for the other guy. In fact, some of my good friends have red eyes. The color of our eyes has little to do with whether or not we are good or bad. That is a choice we make."
She was able to understand what I was saying. Thank God for the Quileute School which provided lessons in their culture, language, and stories. She remembered the spoken legends that she had heard from Sue and many of the pack at bonfires she'd been to on First Beach, as well. "The Raven… Báyak…he's a sneaky one, isn't he, William?" My grandson nodded beside her. "But he can be good too…he just has to decide it."
I seized the opportunity to relate to something she already knew, and I felt Jasper calming her, supporting her.
"Right…it's a decision as to how we choose to live our lives, just like the Raven has to make decisions about how to act."
"But you are so young…how are you William's grandfather? How can he…" she grinned back to Carlisle, who'd remained kneeling on the floor "…be his great grandfather?"
"You've noticed that William has grown quickly, right?" I knew she had, but we'd decided to leave the whole gifted thing out of the mix for awhile. It was going to be enough for now that she learned we were immortals.
She nodded at my question and then blushed. She was well aware that she had a crush on William…what she didn't yet know was how serious or life altering that "crush" really was.
"Well, we age a little differently."
"Like you stay looking younger longer."
"Yeah…" here it went "….like forever."
She just smiled. "Well, I knew that, silly. Angels don't die."
Back to the angels idea again. I shot a look at Carlisle in amusement and jerked my head; he was going to have the privilege of explaining that particular situation. He thinned his lips very briefly at my upraised eyebrows and barely contained amusement. He knew he'd be explaining more about our immortality… just not this instant.
But first, the person that I knew would become most important to her, other than William, waited. Jasper was doing so well at being patient in this first "official" meeting; Alice, however, was about to explode with excitement and barely suppressed joy. Even though Jasper had wanted to delay revealing to the young girl his true relationship to her out of an abundance of caution, Carlisle had insisted on telling Victoria immediately, because he knew how important she was to Jasper. Our father wasn't very good at keeping those things from us that made us happy, particularly when he'd decided there could be no harm in it.
William put his hand on Victoria's shoulder and steered her past Bella and me to stand before my warrior brother and pixie sister. Rising, I moved a step closer to Jasper, just to give him support. I had no fear that he'd hurt her; her blood did not sing out to him; it was the opposite, in fact, calming him. This was an anomaly we hadn't understood about Victoria, until the Mistress had revealed the child's lineage. It made a strange sense that these facts, tied with Fate, however improbable it all seemed, had drawn Jasper to her. For my part, I drew closer to him, so that he could watch my face as I heard her thoughts.
Next to Jasper, Alice blurred; she was trying so hard to remain still, but failing miserably. I'd never seen her so excited to meet someone since Bella moved to Forks. My thoughts brightened; Bella moving to Forks. Her presence had created a tumult of unexpected chaos that burst into our unending immortal lives; she'd been a bright meteor in the dark sky and irrevocably altered us all. If I'd only known… Nah…I couldn't help but grin a little. Everything had happened the way it was supposed to, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. Bella and I'd already discussed, just after Henry came to us, how everything had needed to happen exactly as it did. As this was exactly the same with Victoria, in Jasper's and Alice's life.
Alice's energy drew Victoria's attention first. "This is my great aunt…" William said, earning a snarl from Alice for bringing age into it "…Alice, and she is a little hyper."
"Hello," Victoria smiled shyly, breaking out into laughter when Alice squealed and pulled her into her arms for a hug. They weren't much different in size, so it was as if two friends had been reunited after a long time apart. She sniffed at Alice suddenly.
"Wait…" Victoria cried out quickly, her mind seizing on something that had eluded her, but was brought into immediate clarity. "You've been to my house."
Alice froze, and then started laughing as she saw what Victoria was going to say.
"You smell good…like chocolate chip cookies. I've run down to mom's kitchen before…" she'd taken to calling Sue mom within the last year "…thinking she was baking some."
Then Alice and I both froze as Victoria broke from William and flung herself at Jasper. He was stunned not only by her actions, but the emotions rolling off her.
"Victoria?" William asked sharply, not because he was unhappy, but because he'd been startled by her actions.
Her mumbled reply was clear to us all. "If she smells like cookies…then he's the one in my dreams…the one who watches over me. He smells like home." She took a deep breath of Jasper just to confirm her guess.
Jasper's eyes darkened in pleasure, his hand coming to rest at the crown of her hair and slowly running down the bright honey-blonde strands. Other than with Alice, I'd never seen him be so relaxed at touching another, much less a human. To be able to do so without subterfuge…it overwhelmed him, and the room benefitted from his feelings of utter bliss. Emmett's goofy grin almost got sloppy.
"You do, right? Come to Daddy Charlie's and watch me while I sleep?" Victoria asked, her face pressed against his upper abdomen.
"Yes," he said softly, wrapping his arm around her while he looked over to Alice in pure adoration. Alice shivered in pleasure, waiting for him to have his moment with her.
"Why?" She finally pulled back to look up at him.
He took the moment to do what so many of us already had. Kneeling so that they looked eye to eye, his lips quirked to the side and he answered, "Because you are so very important to me."
"Why?" It was a plausible follow-up, but it was said in such a little girl voice that it was adorable.
"Because…" and Jasper looked to Carlisle for confirmation and support; our father nodded in encouragement "…you and your mother are…" He took a second to take a deep breath. "You and your mother are long lost relatives of mine."
Her blue eyes rounded out, but she won a place in my heart when her mind felt concern toward Charlie and Sue. It would've been easy for her to retreat within after having lost her mother, but after grieving, she had been able to start healing, and in the process she'd opened her heart to Charlie and Sue as surrogate parents. Although she felt the indefinably strong kinship connection with Jasper, she didn't want to leave or hurt the two humans who stood just behind her.
As Jasper waited with supernatural stillness, Victoria peered back at the Swans to see their reaction. Charlie smirked and shooed her back toward Jasper. Thrilled at the depth of his compassion, Bella blurred to Charlie's side, hugging him lightly, mindful of her vampire strength as Victoria turned back to the man stoically waiting her regard.
"As in you're a long lost cousin?"
Reaching up to brush his hand along her jaw, Jasper shook his head slowly. "No." He paused a beat. "As in you're my granddaughter, many generations removed. One I didn't know about until after what happened to your mother."
Her eyes widened and then she scrunched her face together in confusion.
"But we saw you, in Trinity Parish in Seattle…" Her words didn't quite match her thoughts. She was thinking that we must have known something because we helped her then. Even if it hadn't been true, there would be no convincing her that we hadn't been the ones to settle their affairs. She'd yet to truly accept the granddaughter thing. Carlisle had a lot of explaining to do.
"I know, darlin'." Jasper wasn't going to lie to her about anything. There was no purpose in doing so. "We helped simply because we wanted to."
"I gave her the necklace…the one you left for me." She looked then to Alice, who nodded gently. Her ability of deduction was scary…Jasper kinda scary. But even with Jasper's calming influence, tears filled her eyes at the memory. "She was wearing it… when she died." She then sobbed and Jasper sighed heavily, pulling her back into his arms, circling them around her protectively.
We'd made sure that Saralyn had been buried with it as well. But her burial was a topic of conversation that we decided wouldn't be addressed just yet. Victoria was intelligent and Jasper's progeny, but a human's mind could only take so much. When he finally allowed himself to lay his cheek on the top of her head, allowing her to cry it all out, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
"Darlin', we're here to love you now…just like she would have."
She took a deep breath at the promise in his voice and snuggled her face into his cold chest as if it was the safest place in the world.
Jasper…reformed blood thirsty vampire…snuggled her even closer, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. His murmured words, however, said it all. "Victoria, I promise, we're here now…I'm here, and you'll never be alone."
Would love to know your thoughts?
To ColdOnePaul, thank you so much for making this so much better! My little story transforms under your red ink.