A Family for Alice

Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing around with them.

I stifle a yawn as I walk down the hall toward my classroom. I should be excited since it's the first day of school, but I'm too tired. Our last night of summer celebration lasted a bit too long last night, and while I love the pleasant ache of my most used muscles, I'm not too fond of my droopy eyelids.

Carlisle laughed when I disgustedly rolled out of bed at five-thirty this morning, but I let him have his fun. I laughed at him all summer when he had to wake before me, so it was only fair.

"Esme, wait up!"

I stop and turn, smiling as I see Rosalie rushing toward me.

"Morning, Rose."

"Good morning, Esme." She's wide awake and ready for the day. At least one of us is. "Are you excited about today?"

I can't help but smile and nod. Her enthusiasm is contagious. "I am, but I wish I could take a nap with the kids later. Or maybe drink some more coffee." My one cup during the faculty meeting isn't helping all that much.

"The kids will keep you awake, I'm sure," she teases, linking her arm through mine. "How many do you have this year?"

"Ten," I say happily. "It's a perfect number."

It's one of the reasons why I love living in our small town. Even in public school, we have enough teachers to go around so that our classrooms aren't crowded. And since I can offer more one-on-one time with each student, they learn even more.

"I have eleven," Rose informs me. "I really think it's going to be a great year."

I laugh. "We haven't even been with the kids for longer than that hour at 'meet the teacher', though. You could easily have a holy terror who makes your job miserable."

"Psssh…this is kindergarten, not fourth grade. We get all the sweeties before they learn how to be terrors."

I hum in agreement. The kids really are sweet, and I can't wait to get to know my bunch for the year.

Rosalie and I separate at our rooms which are right beside each other. The principal knows better than to split us up even though I have a feeling she wishes she could. But we're sisters…well, in law anyway, and we like working close together.

I flip the light switch and watch as my room comes to life. Everything has already been set up last week, and thanks to Carlisle's help, it's just how I like it. The tables where the kids will sit have names taped to each spot, and the worksheets for the day are stacked neatly on my desk. There really isn't anything for me to do, so I sit at my desk and wait.

Fifteen minutes later, the first student arrives along with a set of parents who are more nervous than their son. I show him to his seat before attempting to reassure the parents that he's fine because he really is. They finally leave, and then it's a steady stream of little ones and parents, all showing some degree of anxiety. I do my best to address every concern and assure everyone that we're going to have a great day and year.

Soon I have eight little students ready for the day to begin, but I wait on the last two. It doesn't surprise me that our neighbor, Bella Swan, is one of the last ones to arrive. Punctuality really isn't the Swan family's thing, but they make it on time. With a quick leg-hug for me, Bella rushes to her desk without another thought. I'm positive she'll thrive here, and so are her parents. They leave without much fuss, and then I'm waiting again.

I check my watch one last time and am about to start class without my missing student, Mary Brandon, when Rosalie comes to the doorway.

"I think I have one of yours," she explains with a smile. "Come on in, sweetheart. This Mrs. Cullen is your teacher."

A tiny girl with dark hair steps from behind Rosalie's legs. Her chin is down, as are her eyes, as she timidly walks toward me.

I kneel down so I'm at her level and smile warmly. "Good morning, dear. Are you Mary?" She glances at me, blue eyes wide, and gives me a small nod. "Well, I'm so happy to have you in my class, Mary. Would you like to find your desk?" I hold out my hand, and after a pause, she takes it.

I lead her over to her desk and get her settled in beside Bella. As soon as I'm sure they're okay, I go back over to the doorway where Rose is waiting.

"Thank you," I whisper. "I know it's easy for parents to get confused." With two Mrs. Cullen's teaching kindergarten, it's a wonder why we're not all confused.

She shrugs. "No problem. Her mother dropped her off without a word, so I didn't even notice until there wasn't a desk for her. I think she's a shy one, so give her a little extra love."

We're not supposed to play favorites, but I know what she means. Little Mary does look like she could use some TLC. She's clearly anxious and might not even know what's going on. Not all parents are adept at preparing their children for all-day kindergarten.

Once Rosalie leaves, I close the door and walk to the front of the room. Most of the students are watching me closely, but for the ones who aren't, I clap my hands softly.

"Okay, boys and girls. Who's ready to start the day? I think I'm ready to sing a few songs."


The morning passes quickly, as most first days do. We play a few name games to get to know each other, color a "Welcome to Kindergarten" picture and even draw pictures of our favorite animals. Recess is another thing all together, and I'm glad I won't be going out with them every day. The fine mist isn't enough to deter them, but I'd rather not sit out in it.

Before lunch, there's a tour of the school and then we head down to the cafeteria to eat. Rose's class and my class share a large table, so we're able to sit close to each other as we watch our students. Our mornings have been very similar, and the afternoon promises to be the same.

Nap time is a bit of a struggle since the excitement level is still pretty high, but most of mine go down without a fight. I don't believe for a second that they'll all be sleeping, but at least they're calm. The only one not lying down is little Mary, but I think I know why.

"Sweetheart, do you not have a mat?" I ask softly as I sit on my knees beside her. She shakes her head, sniffling softly. "Oh, it's okay. I'm sure I can find a special one just for you." Her eyes meet mine, and she smiles, one of the few real smiles I've been able to coax out of her.

Even after half of a day, I know something's special about this girl. She's quiet, but even shy Bella has been interacting with the class. Mary has yet to say anything, and though I haven't been forcing her, I'm grasping at straws.

Just like I promised her, I find a pink princess mat in one of my closets. I have a few that were donated after the end of last year. They've been cleaned and disinfected, so they're ready to be used for anyone who needs one. I'm not sure if Mary's parents didn't buy her one or simply forgot to give it to her today, but either way, I've got her covered.

I place the mat next to Bella's, and Mary lies down without me having to ask.

With everyone down, I can take a moment for myself. I check my school email and go over my lesson plan for tomorrow. It basically consists of the same types of things, as will the rest of the week. Sometimes getting to know all of the students is the hardest part since I want to do the best I can in order for them to succeed.

Unfortunately, nap time never seems to last long enough. When the forty-five minutes are over, most of the kids are busting at the seams to get up. I wake the few that are actually napping, including Mary. She looks so peaceful as she sleeps, and I hate to wake her, but it's story time.

When we're all sitting in a circle, I begin reading the first book. After it, I continue reading until the parents begin to arrive. The first day is the only time they're allowed to come into the school to pick up their kids, so I let them have their fun. The kids are always so excited to show their parents what they did on the first today, and this batch is no different.

I summarize our day for the parents, and the kids give them their animal drawings. Everyone leaves happy and excited about the next day which thrills me. I never want a child to dread coming into my classroom. Here we have fun and learn at the same time.

My school day drags on a bit more with some of the more unpleasant faculty duties, but eventually, Rose and I walk out together.

The drive home flies by, and then I'm back in Carlisle's arms as soon as I walk in the door.

"I missed you, baby," he says into my hair, hugging me tightly.

I giggle and snuggle into his chest. "I was only gone eight hours. But…I missed you too."

"It was eight hours too long. I didn't know how I was going to survive without you."

I snort. "You're feeling awfully corny today. Good thing you have to work tomorrow too."

"You wound me, dearest," he says as he pulls me away from his chest. "I love you, though, so I guess I'll keep you."

"Of course you will." I stand on my tiptoes and kiss him once, twice, and three quick times before he deepens the kiss until I'm pressed against the wall.

If this is the way I'll be welcomed home for the rest of the school year, then I can't wait for tomorrow.

A/N: Welcome to my fun little project!

This started out as a plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone late one night. I've been working on it for a few months, mostly when I had writer's block with Perfect Love, and I'm finally ready to share. PL readers, I offer this in thanks for being so patient with me. And don't worry - it won't take up any of my already sparse writing time.

This fic is entirely self-serving, as all of mine are, but hopefully you guys like to read what I like to read ;). The research done on this was slim to none, so forgive any inaccuracies.

You can expect regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday updates as long as FFn cooperates.

A million bazillion thanks to MelissaMargaret for making my words pretty and to anhanninen for prereading and encouraging.

And thanks to all of you for reading!