Life After

1. Quiet Reminiscing

"TELL ME ABOUT THEM."

We had already finished eating dinner ant cleaning the kitchen of its remnants. So we sat in front of the fire place, staring at the flickering fire. The warmth it radiated did nothing for either one of us; the temperature our bodies were, we were rarely ever cold.

We sat on the floor, our backs against the couch, and I leaned my head on his wide chest. I stared off into the flames and my mind wandered to a different fire place, in a different setting. The people gathered before it were tenser, but the love in the room was evident. Someone laughed.

"Tell me about them."

"What do you want to know?" he asked, playing with one of my bronze ringlets.

I pulled a small, silver necklace with a locket from my pocket and opened it. My fingers flittered over it ever so carefully; as if afraid it would crumble and disappear.

I brushed one cautious thumb across the woman's face. She was unimaginably beautiful; pale, slender, with long chocolate-brown hair and strangely tinted eyes—a color between dull crimson and gold.

"Tell me about her. What was she like?"

I felt his body tense for a few seconds and then relax a little. It was a painful subject, for both of us, but I had to know.

I was only a few months old when we ran. Because of the way I grow, I was really the size of the average three-year-old human, and mentally seven or eight at least. Despite that—and all the other things I could do as a vampire-human hybrid—I had only spent those few short months with my parents. I remember them—and all the rest of the family as well—but memories have never been enough. I miss them terribly. The only thing that helped, even if just a little bit, was hearing about them from Jake,

"Your mother was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, even as a human. She was shy, somewhat of an outsider to society, but kind and good. She was clumsy as a human, and we had a lot of good laughs and fun. She was my best friend. We stood by each other and helped one another through a lot of hard times. Even when I first joined the pack and I insisted on keeping myself away from her she wouldn't give up on me."

I put a hand to his cheek and showed him an old memory of a lot of really big wolves.

He nodded.

"Do you miss them?"

"I do." He paused. "We were like brothers; one big family."

I hesitated, looking at the man in the photo.

"What about…You didn't like my father though." A statement, not a question.

He knew he was trapped and sighed in defeat. "For a long time your father and I were… on bad terms… we hated each other," he admitted. "After you were born things got better. He resented me for having imprinted on you, but we both came to the conclusion that there needed to be an understanding between us if we wanted to make sure you were safe and happy." He hesitated. "I wouldn't say we were friends, but there was an evident comradeship. I think… I think the closer we got to the battle the closer we became. A sort of comradeship of arms formed."

Then he became silent.

I let the subject go, not asking any more questions.

I looked at the fire place and listened to the rain falling outside, washing the world clean.

"It's been six years since the day we fled, and still, it's hard to talk about everything." His voice was huskier as he spoke; tears were chocking his throat.

"Six years…" I mumbled. It didn't feel like six years—it felt like a lifetime. I looked at the back of my hand and then turned it over. It didn't seem like six years either. Because in those six years I had grown fourteen—I had grown from a frightened three-year-old to a defensive and protective seventeen-year-old. I was no longer Nessie, the scared child that had been sent away by her parents so that her life would be saved; I was Renesmee, the vampire-human hybrid, one of a kind, strong, and fiercely deadly.

"It's getting late," Jake murmured in my ear. "I'll go run the perimeter; you get ready for bed."

I nodded and got up. I held out a hand, he took it, and I pulled him up. He hugged me and disappeared.

I sighed and made my way to the room that was mine.

Despite the six years that had passed, we never stayed in one place for too long. Jake said it's dangerous. I never asked why; I didn't need to. The long line of dark cloaks and thirsty red eyes was burned into my mind like a scar from a hot rod iron. Jake said that if they ever found us, it would be our end. I believed him; it was impossible to forget the shrieks and metal-tearing sounds that could be heard for miles as they ripped my family into piles of limbs, and later, burned them to ashes.

I shuddered and spat the minty foam into the sink. I put the toothbrush away and climbed into bed.

I lay in the dark for a long time, the memories of my family running through my mind like short clips from a movie.

I was still awake when Jake came back. I could hear the door close behind him, and his footsteps as he entered the room across the hall from mine. I listened as he closed the door, the water ran as he showered, and some time later, I found myself listening to his slow breathing as he slept.

Now that I knew he was safe, we were safe, I could allow myself to slip off, and sleep.