As promised, here is the meeting with the Irish coven. I would love to cover meeting all the new vampires, but I just want to get onto Bella working on her shield and fighting. I will do some key meetings, like the Egyptian coven and Alastair, maybe Garrett, but I probably won't cover every meeting. I will do Carlisle's return, and maybe Rosalie's too, but I don't want this story to get too boring for you. Let me know what you would like me to include, and things I could leave out.
My nervousness increased as three sets of footsteps made their way across porch. Experience replaying this story didn't make it any easier to tell. As the footsteps paused outside the door, I took in a breath, as I would have done if I were human. It relieved me in some ways that these little human impulses hadn't disappeared with my transformation.
"Hello, Siobhan, Liam, Maggie," Edward said, his voice breaking the silence which had spread throughout the room. I tried to imagine what Siobhan would look like. I knew little about the Irish friends of Carlisle, only that which was mentioned that first day I met Renesmee. Then I had been too distracted by my beautiful daughter to pay attention to what they were saying. I pulled Renesmee slightly closer to my chest. She was silent and serious, waiting. Renesmee knew she had a job to do, just like the rest of us. So much responsibility for someone so young. She wasn't even half a year old and already we were putting the weight of the world on her shoulders.
"Hello, Edward," Siobhan replied in a powerful voice, not surprised when he addressed her coven by name. Maybe this was not their first meeting like I expected, but Edward had never mentioned meeting the Irish friends before. "Carlisle said it was important we come quickly. Is everything alright?" Obviously Siobhan was spokesperson for the group, the leader.
"No, Siobhan, unfortunately things are far from okay. We've all been put in a great danger," Edward explained while I tensed, feeling the need to quiver. Renesmee felt the change in my stance, pressing her hand on my neck. Once again the mother-daughter bond was reversed as she tried to reassure me that everything would be alright, that people were coming to help us. I didn't dare mention that no matter how many people we gather, we wouldn't be able to win.
"Then what can we do to help?" A male voice asked, Liam, I assumed. This voice was powerful, slightly intimidating like Siobhan's, but not unfriendly.
"First just listen. What can you hear?" Edward asked. Every vampire cut off their breathing, though Renesmee's heartbeat would be clear even with eight odd vampires breathing. I could almost see the realization of the faces of this unknown coven as they heard the human-like heartbeat.
"Is that a heartbeat? Do you have a human inside?" Siobhan asked, her voice slightly quicker. I remembered that they, like Peter and Charlotte, live a traditional vampire lifestyle.
"No, not a human, but remember that she has a heartbeat. Don't jump to conclusions when you meet her. Please, I can't stress enough that she isn't what she appears." There was a small pause as the visitors processed Edward's words.
"Then introduce us, Edward," Siobhan said, and I was surprised that her voice was relaxed and calm. "We won't deny the truth." Edward breathed a sigh of relief.
"Okay then. Bella, come meet Carlisle's Irish friends," Edward called to me, and I took a quick moment to compose myself before coming into view. Renesmee kept herself hidden in my hair so the new vampires couldn't see her face. After the Denali's reaction, she had learnt it was best for them to see her without really seeing her face. As soon as they did, they would see her as an immortal child.
Siobhan was huge and imposing, her facial features beautiful. I could see she was a gentle person, but her large frame, easily as tall as Edward, left me feeling slightly intimidated. But not as intimidated as when I saw Liam, a tall, lean man who face seemed somewhat hard. Behind them stood a much smaller girl- yes a girl; she was physically no older than Edward, if even that- her bouncing red curls giving her a happy, energetic feel. The way Liam and Siobhan stood it looked like they were protecting her automatically. I remembered Rosalie saying something about Maggie being the talented one in this group. I wondered idly what her gift was, knowing I was probably about to find out.
"Siobhan, Liam, Maggie, meet Bella and Renesmee," Edward introduced us, putting his arm around my shoulders. Renesmee remained hidden as each of the three visitors shook my hand, their smiles friendly and welcoming me to the vampire world. My eyes didn't keep my newborn state a secret. Liam seemed slightly protective of Siobhan as she shook my hand, not knowing of my supposed super self-control, which I now knew wasn't a gift. I could see clearly that Liam and Siobhan were together, both seeming like older siblings to little Maggie as they hovered near her.
"Hello, Renesmee," Siobhan addressed my daughter, leaning down so she was closer to her face. I didn't like having a vampire I had just met so close to her- especially as they didn't know what she was yet- but Edward remained calm, so I knew she would be okay. Their thoughts must have been every bit as calm as their relaxed stances.
Shyly, Renesmee took a deep breath and peeked out from my hair, looking Siobhan full in the face, who froze. Yes, they knew of the rule. Knew of it, and were scared to be associated with anything which would break that rule. Liam stared in shock, but little Maggie didn't change her careful expression.
"Before you jump to conclusions, she is not an immortal child, not by the definition you know. Renesmee has a heartbeat, you can hear it. You can smell her scent and know she isn't a vampire, a full one at least." The other vampires immediately turned their heads to the smallest member of their coven, who nodded.
"Everything Edward says is the truth, even the last part, about her not being a full vampire," her voice was sure of her words, but I could see the confusion as she processed the statement. Edward leaned down to explain in my ear.
"Maggie has a gift for knowing when people are lying, and she knows we are telling the truth," Edward explained while the other vampires listened in.
"Yes, we know you are telling the truth, but we are confused. What is this strange child?" Siobhan asked, gazing at Renesmee. I could see no insult in her words, she was incredibly curious.
"She is half human, half vampire," Edward explained. All three vampires looked dumbstruck.
"Bella conceived and carried Renesmee while she was human. Only after our daughter was born did she make the change. I am her father biologically, and Bella is her mother." It was Maggie who responded, coming to stand right in front of Renesmee, who smiled at her.
"Impossible...but every word is the truth. They are telling nothing but the truth, as hard as it is to believe." Maggie's voice was high and soprano-like, young and youthful, just like her appearance. She reached out to hold Renesmee without thinking about it. Renesmee imagined herself in Maggie's arms, delighted that she had been accepted even before she told her story. I looked up at Edward from the corner of my eye, who nodded.
A little reluctant to have her out of my arms, I handed Renesmee over to Maggie, who cradled her form to her chest. Renesmee looked up at Edward, wanting an answer to a question I hadn't heard.
"Maggie, would you mind if Renesmee explains a little more herself? She has a gift for communicating," Edward said to the small vampire.
"We all believe your story without further need of explanation, but I am curious," Maggie responded while her coven members nodded in agreement. "What can you do, little one." Renesmee beamed a smile, touching Maggie's cheek lightly. I watched as her eyes glazed over, seeing Renesmee's thoughts. Siobhan and Liam waited both patiently and protectively.
"Amazing," Maggie whispered. "Show them, little angel, tell them what you told me." Renesmee was ecstatic, reaching out to touch Siobhan, then Liam, who accepted her story calmly and completely. Just like everyone before them, they were hooked. So far, no one had refused the truth. But how long would it last? At least I had the reassurance that no one had rejected Renesmee's story after hearing it, even those who had such a negative reaction to her in the first place. The Volturi had to do no more than touch her skin to know she was telling the truth, but would we be able to make them pause? It horrified me that I had no answer.
"I see how people could originally assume baby Renesmee was dangerous, but clearly she isn't, so what is this danger you speak of?" Siobhan asked anxiously, Renesmee looking minute in her arms. Edward straightened up, his arm tensing around my shoulders. The other vampires had fallen silent again, listening in on the horror story.
"Another saw Renesmee and jumped to the same conclusion as you originally did. She didn't give us chance to explain. She was grieving and rather...put out with our family. We have about a month until we are to be punished for the crime we have appeared to have committed," Edward's voice was emotionless as he spoke. Renesmee looked serious, but not empty like the rest of us. Unlike me, she still had hope.
"We will fight for the truth," Maggie declared, while Siobhan and Liam nodded. It was obvious they knew who was coming to punish us, the only police force in the vampire world.
"Carlisle would never ask you to fight for us, Maggie, just to witness. You see, Renesmee develops at an acute rate. This time next month she will be about half a year older, physically at least. With every day she gains years of development mentally. It will be clear as you watch her that she is nothing like the immortal children you have witnessed." Edward explained, looking at Renesmee as he spoke. She smiled her dazzling smile at him, unaware of how difficult the coming task would be. I could see the effort it took for Edward to force a serene smile back.
"Certainly we will be able to witness that Renesmee has grown, and we will be willing to fight for her too. We would never deny the truth," Liam declared, speaking for one of the first times. His tone was very friendly, despite his hard, guarded expression. So we had another three vampires to add to the twelve already committed to witnessing for us. It was nowhere near the number in the Volturi, but it might be enough to halt them. One pause, which is all we need.
The next few moments were spent covering introductions. I waited patiently while Edward introduced the latest vampires to those we had already gathered. Siobhan and Maggie were intrigued with the Denali's, unaware that so many vegetarian vampires existed. Peter and Charlotte conversed politely with the coven as they all discussed how they met the Cullen's. To an outsider, it would have just seemed like a friendly meeting.
Renesmee fell happily into the spotlight as she was handed around half a dozen pairs of arms, giggling as she shared her thoughts with all her new friends. Despite their original reaction, I could see how quickly the Denali sisters had been drawn into Renesmee, hugging her close and smiling when they spoke. Renesmee was in some ways the perfect host, entertaining all her guests, bringing such different people together to unite over one common goal. I barely had to speak, my arms wrapped tightly around Edward's waist as we watched our daughter being passed around our guests.
"Such a useful gift!" Eleazar said, smiling at little Maggie. "To know when you are being lied to, or dragged into a trap. And the person doesn't even need to speak for you to see their falseness! We seem to be forming quite a talented little group here!" Clearly everyone's mood was uplifted, knowing we had some extra abilities beyond the normal to help us out. Eleazar looked to Edward and I as he mentioned talent, causing curiosity to spark.
"We know what you can do, Edward, but what about your young mate?" All eyes were on me, and I felt the urge to cower into Edward's arms. The spotlight was not a place I felt comfortable, vampire or not.
"I'm a shield, I think," I responded, a questioning tone in my voice. Still all I saw was me in a ridiculous suit of body armour. It was still baffling to think of myself as having another gift. Super self-control was my gift, it was my talent. A vampire couldn't have two gifts, which meant my self-control was no more than the product of my preparations. But I had seen the newborn Bree in the meadow; I had heard all the stories. Surely my advanced knowledge of this world couldn't have given me the strength to resist humans on my own.
"A shield?" Maggie asked curiously, interested. It was Eleazar who explained, probably knowing the most about vampire gifts out of all of us.
"It's a defensive gift; in this case, Bella's mind is protected from gifts which work inside the head. Edward can't hear her, nor can Aro, and Jane's gift is useless on her," Eleazar explained, a slight tone of pride, or maybe hope in his voice. His words only reinforced my desperate need to protect those closest to me. If I could project my little glitch far enough to protect Renesmee, maybe then she would last long enough for someone to escape with her.
Siobhan, Liam and Maggie all looked at me with curiosity, their eyes gleaming. I could tell Siobhan was fascinated.
"Kate thinks I might be able to project it, shield someone other than myself," I commented after a moment of awkward silence. Everyone was still staring at me, their faces either fascinated, or uninterested; they had heard this all before. Edward looked at me in awe, the familiar but yet still confusing look like I was the centre of the universe.
"Momma is special," Renesmee added in her high voice, smiling. Everyone laughed, and the attention was turned back to my adoring water. A few minutes later, Jacob showed up, unable to stand being away from Renesmee so long. Siobhan, Maggie and Liam listened with interest as we explained the wolves to them, but they made no move to talk to Jacob or acknowledge him as a human being. Jacob seemed content just grumbling to Renesmee in the corner about the stench.
"Look who's talking," Peter mumbled when Jacob complained about all the 'reeking vampires' about. The visiting vampires laughed while Jacob screwed up his nose, pretending to wave away the smell with his hand. Edward and I sat quietly- and unnecessarily- on the couch, staring into each other's eyes. The first time he broke away was to respond to a thought I hadn't heard, his expression tensing slightly. I couldn't be sure, but he looked slightly uncomfortable.
"I'm not sure how that will work," Edward said to one of the visitors. "We would all appreciate if you go out of state. You're welcome to use any of the vehicles here." I saw Jacob's face twist between disgust and discomfort as he realized what they were talking about. His brow creased as they discussed how mealtimes will work. I tried to give him a sympathetic look, but the situation didn't exactly warm me. After all, the pack was here to protect human lives, something which wouldn't fit in with the lifestyle of the visiting vampires.
So Siobhan, Liam and Maggie left in Alice's Porsche, while Peter and Charlotte borrowed Edward's special occasion car. As soon as they were out of the house, Jacob made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat but didn't say anymore. Edward, trying to be a gracious host, made no comment as he handed over the keys to his precious vehicle. After a few seconds, Edward took my hands in his face, forcing our eyes to meet.
"You should go hunting too, Bella," he suggested softly. "I know you are strong enough to last, but I don't want you to be in pain." I opened my mouth to protest, but Edward put a finger over my lips.
"I'm sure Renesmee should go along too. Since your last hunting trip was called off, it would probably be wise to feed her while we things are relatively quiet around here. There isn't too much donated blood left." Edward had me with that one, and he knew it.
"We could do with going hunting now too," Tanya said, hearing our conversation. "Carlisle's call caught us just before we were about to go hunting, so we haven't fed in a few weeks." The rest of the Denali's stood up from their seats on the couch, sprinting then pausing at the door. I jumped up to follow them, pausing when Edward made no move to follow us.
"Are you not coming?" I asked. True, his eyes were still a deep gold. He would be fine for a few weeks, but usually he comes with me on these hunting trips. Edward looked a little hesitant to answer.
"I should probably stay here, just in case someone else shows up," Edward explained. I opened my mouth, about to suggest that if someone were to show up, I should be here with him. Edward noticed this.
"Don't worry, I'm just being overcautious," Edward reassured me, smiling for the old times. Some things never change. "Have fun," Edward whispered into my ear. Then he leaned down to press his lips to mine. It was much more than just a peck. My subconscious reactions taking over, I crashed our bodies together, throwing my arms around his neck like there wasn't a whole audience watching. After a few second, Edward pulled away. If I were human, my cheeks would have been flaming. Instead I dipped my head in embarrassment and took Renesmee in my arms.
The Denali's took off into the woods- obviously they were familiar with the area- as I gripped Renesmee tightly against my chest. It didn't take me long to catch up, my strides still twice as long as theirs. I heard the unique thrumming of paws behind us as Jacob followed, keeping his distance but still in Renesmee's line of sight.
As we caught the scent of a heard of deer off to the north, everyone's stance lowered, letting our senses lead the way. Renesmee flipped out of my arms, shooting off into the woods, holding her own amongst a group of speeding vampires. Closing my eyes like Edward had taught me that very first trip, I let the smell take over, pulling me towards my meal. Taking a deep breath, I slipped into my hunting crouch, shooting off into the woods.