She is their darling baby girl, so they spoil her sweet.

She's grateful for their love. It's only natural that she would do anything to prove she deserves it. Becoming a reflection of everything they stand for is the very least she can do.


Her name is too long for anyone to say, so she amasses quite the collection of nicknames over the years.

She is their darling daughter and their little princess and sometimes their shining star every couple of months when Alice dresses her in a new birthday dress.

When she gets older Jacob renames her just like he did before: angel, baby, love, cutie, babe, beautiful, darling, sunshine, little lady, sweetie, kitten, lover and baby girl for when the guys aren't around and she's being silly.

When his werewolf appetite gets the better of him she also becomes peanut, sugar, cookie, jellybean, pumpkin, cupcake, muffin, pudding, cutie pie and babycakes. Really, about the only thing he doesn't call her is bella (but that's not because he won't let her teach him Italian).

How is she supposed to introduce herself? She lets her parents decide that.


She hears the story of Emmett and the bear first.

It's a funny story—sometimes she wonders why it's not a tragedy because a man dies at the end, but they tell her it's a comedy so she nods and realizes she must have just misunderstood what the words mean—so Emmett tells it all the time.

He always makes sure to end the story by kissing Rosalie.

They lived happily ever after, you see, even if lived isn't exactly the right word.


She had not even lived a full year when she first saw someone die.

Irina had gone to the Volturi and betrayed the Cullens. Her death was justice, even if it was cruel justice.

The burning had been so swift she thought it was a trick of the light; the slap Caius gave Irina, the tool that didn't work the way it was supposed to and so died, seemed to echo for a long time afterwards.


On the day that it dawned on her exactly what her grandfather did for other people, she knew she wanted to be a doctor just like him (and her father and Aunt Rosalie, too, though they never did use the certificates on their walls).

There was something wonderful about being able to fight even death himself, changing the course of a person's life. Of course, she's not venomous (like all the female half-vampires) so she can't change lives in quite the same way, but she does the best she can.


Her father's story is a beautiful one—of a lonely man saving a dying boy—but it's not just about her father.

It is about the power of a mother's love.

One word from a dying mother can give an isolated man a companion and a young boy a new life—if a mother can do all that with one word, imagine her power.

Elizabeth Mason is also dead, but that's neither here nor there.


The cramps that happen to her once every so often (half-human biology is rather unpredictable) aren't so bad. She wouldn't mind them much, that's why she has medication, only they're a huge inconvenience. The blood doesn't bother her family; it's dead so it doesn't count. She sometimes thinks it should taste better than other blood because life itself was supposed to come from it but then she's not a vampire so what would she know? But they can smell it. They know.

Just like the werewolves know.

She can't decide which is worse, because it's obvious how the werewolves don't come anywhere close to her when they smell her like that but her family's hovering is pretty embarrassing in its own way. Everyone wants to fix the situation for her, to make it go away.

So once every so often she and her mother go out of town for a little while.

It's just easier that way.


When they tell her about her grandmother all she can think about is the lost boy that was the reason for the broken body Carlisle saved (yet another uncle, but maybe he would have been different since he was breakable). What would he have been like? Would he have had his mother's eyes? Or his father's temper? They never will know.

Her very first moment showed her what a mother would do for her child, so her grandmother's story just reconfirms it. It's the same story, with different names and faces and different times. They both have happy endings.

Esme now has even more children to love. And if sometimes Esme is just a little too eager to ignore the cost as long as it makes her children happy, if she adopts even the werewolves who hate her in her need to mother, well, Esme is just a wonderful mother like that.


She has a crush on Nahuel for sixty-seven hours when she's fourteen years old. That's how long it takes before someone finds out (probably her father, but she never figures out for sure) and they tell someone who tells someone who tells someone else.

Huilen is so upset about Nahuel's broken jaw he has to take his aunt back to South America.

So she gets over her crush.

Fast.


Alice doesn't remember.

Period.

(Except not period…

"James came after her and so the vampire who was her friend stole her away and saved her. James killed him for saving Alice so we don't even know his name, but that's how Alice became one of us," Bella told her one day.

No one ever tells her that 'friend' isn't the right expression, not when she's crazy and he's watching over her (like a guardian, like a savior) because she smells so damn good. When she was younger they tried, but she got confused because it sounded too close to the definition she had been given for true love. So they stopped trying to explain and just assumed she would understand when she was older.

She does.

Alice doesn't remember so...period)


Between dying and being reborn as a Cullen, Jasper existed for years, years that everyone seems content to pretend never happened. But she knows that time did not cease between those years, that his time was filled with violence and a woman who was not named Alice.

She understands why they never tell her about war. If she has learned anything it is that werewolves like to fight and vampires only do it when they have to and little girl vampires surrender (and die, because it wasn't their place in the first place).

And she understands why they never tell her about not-Alice, too. It wasn't meant to be forever, so it doesn't matter at all.


Jacob takes care of her and he takes care of his pack, but when he wants to spend more time with her he lets Leah Clearwater deal with the other wolves for him.

She doesn't really understand Leah, who is impossible even to the impossible creatures that surround them. Leah is not human; that much is obvious when she gets angry and grows fur. In fact, Leah is a lot like the vampires except she bleeds—just not once a month.

There is a small suspicion in her mind that she never shares with anyone that they don't call Leah unnatural because she has claws.


The other hybrid vampires don't come to visit. They love their father still. They have no love in their hearts for her.

She remains unique.

Special.

One of a kind.

The words don't disguise the way no one who could understand wants to talk to her.


"I'd be waiting forever if I just sat there with my mouth closed and expected the guys to eventually get tired of yapping and listen to me," Leah said, when she asked one day what point could possibly be served by beings so mean and loud all the time.

The explanation does not appease many people. Most people just call Leah a bitch. They offer jokes about it being technically true (it was funny the first hundred times), which is more than they give when they insult Rosalie.

It's because they're disagreeable—sort of like Caius and Aro, except less evil. Not that anyone ever dares call the Volturi anything unpleasant to their faces.


When they finally tell her what happened to Rosalie, she cries for a long time. They expected it; it's why they waited so long to tell her. Rosalie has been everything to her, so to think of her aunt hurting, with no one to help her…why, it isn't fair at all. Her only comfort is that Carlisle came to fix the mistake and so her darling aunt was not allowed to disappear into the night like she wanted.

It wasn't shock that made her cry. She has always known beauty has a price—the vampires are perfect because venom courses through their veins and it burns her father tells her in one of his more candid moments. So it makes sense, in a way that makes her stomach clench, that Rosalie, most beautiful of them all, had to pay a much steeper price.

Sometimes, when Jacob calls her the most beautiful girl in the world, she wonders what it's going to cost her.


She doesn't ask Esme what has to happen, all the little things that slowly strip everything from you, bit by bit, piece by piece, until your boy is your world because you don't have anything else—she thinks she wouldn't be able to understand.


The first time Jacob kisses her, it's her seventeenth birthday (or maybe her sixth—she's so special all the time no one bothers to remember). They were talking about her plans for school and she had been happy, because it was exciting, the thought of all the new things she could learn. She was saying—

Then Jacob kisses her the way he was always supposed to.

She's so busy listening to the bells and violins, to the fireworks and the earthquakes (otherwise known as the catcalls and wolf whistles of all their friends and family), that it's only afterwards that she feels the smallest tinge of annoyance. The sentence on her lips was important and he took it from her.

But he smiles and she loves him, so she wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him some more.

Whatever she was going to say couldn't have been that important, anyhow.


To say she loves her mother more than her aunts isn't true, though sometimes she feels guilty because maybe she should? She is still grateful that her mother isn't like her aunts, that her mother was smarter. Because she loves Rosalie and Esme and Alice, but Bella is the one she killed.

It's a small consolation, but she takes it.

At least Bella chose right.

Bad things happen, she knows, if you choose wrong. A girl can't be too careful because if you pick wrong, (get married to the wrong man, almost get married to the wrong man, catch the eye of the wrong man) well, then you bring all sorts of horrible things upon yourself. So it really is better if you chose right to begin with.

She's glad Jacob chose her right away so she never has to worry about making the right choice.


Jacob figures it out first, because he knows her body better than she does, and he brings her to Carlisle with a delighted smile. She trusts him so she does what Carlisle says without question, lets him put his cold hands on her belly, lets him call in Edward, lets her father call in everyone.

"Congratulations. The two of you are going to have a baby."

They're pregnant—she thinks about her body stretching and growing in awkward ways and even knowing the biology behind it all she can't stop wondering how much it hurts even though she understands it's worth it of course it's worth it everyone she knows says so and it's not like she's afraid of a little pain but she is but more than that she's afraid of this thing this child and of all the things she will have to do for it because nothing is stronger than a mother's love but she doesn't want to die to prove she loves this child she doesn't she's too young and scared and she can't do this but then he looks so happy she puts on a smile and repeats it—they're pregnant.


Rosalie and Esme hover (hover like vultures she remembers the expression goes and feels guilty even though she obviously didn't mean it like that) when they hear the news. Leah avoids her for three months after the fact. Alice doesn't care; she gets Jasper to take her to Paris. Her mother smiles at Jacob and they share a hug about how they were always going to be one big happy family.


She isn't sure why she heads over there, but somehow she finds herself on her grandfather's doorstep. He's a mysterious figure in her life, but his house always has noise in it. The television is always on, food's always being cooked up, the telephone rings and their hearts beat...everything is so loud she can almost hear herself think.

His "congratulations" is drowned out by everything else. All she can hear is his wife preparing something in the kitchen. When she can finally think again, she remembers that she has been brought up properly. Good manners dictate she goes to help—she just invited herself over, she's never this rude, she needs to make it up to them somehow.

Charlie's wife is even more of a mystery to her, but Sue accepts help and that's all she wants, really. To do something, to be useful, to...

She doesn't know.

"They told me," Sue says. She doesn't say congratulations, not even in the stiff way her daughter muttered. For a long moment Sue just watches her, waiting for a response that she never learned to give. She doesn't know what the question is so she can't hurry to provide the correct answer. She can't be Sue's happily ever after, too. Eventually, Sue says, "If you're not ready for this, Nessie, you need to remember that there are options—"

Real mothers jump off cliffs. Real mothers get torn to pieces. Real mothers do not ever give up. She knows that. No wonder Leah isn't a real woman. It's only to be expected, really, since she didn't have a real mother. A good mother—a good woman—could never stand in the middle of her kitchen and suggest that the child inside her is anything less than perfect, anything less than desperately desired.

It wouldn't be fair to all the women she knows who want a child so desperately and yet can never have one.

And Sue can stand there and suggest that she doesn't have to do this?

Yes, actually, she does.

She flees the kitchen; explaining would take too long.


Charlie lets her put her head on his shoulder without a word. He gives her an uneasy smile and asks her unimportant questions.

She's upset by what Sue just suggested, but she knows it's not Sue's fault she answers his question the way she does. It's no one's fault, really. It's not like she really means it and even if she did, it doesn't matter. It's just a silly little cosmetic thing (like all the clothes Alice buys all the time, if you think about it).

Besides, she only answers the way she does because she thinks that's what Charlie wants to hear.

"I hope it's a boy."