I don't own a word of this.
This was my contribution to the Secret Santa Fic Swap and it was written for shelikesthesound. I hope she liked it. And I hope you do too. She wanted Edward and Leah, something I've never read or written, so that's what I did...
How Mommy and Daddy Came To Be
"Tomorrow is going to be so awkward," she said, sighing deeply as she put the plates in the dishwasher. "Do we really have to go, Edward?"
Working on scraping the burnt-on remnants of lasagna out of the pan, he chuckled and shook his head. "I thought spending Christmas with one's family was something human families liked to do, wife of mine. I'm not wrong, am I?"
Leah scrunched her nose and sighed again. "I suppose not. We're not really a normal human family, though, you know."
"You don't say," he teased. "How so?"
She rolled her eyes and hit him with a rolled up dish towel, knowing full well it'd feel no more painful than a snowflake falling on his arm. "Gee, I don't know. Maybe because you're a vampire, I'm a shape-shifter, and our daughter is some sort of vampire, human, and possible shape-shifter. Maybe that's why we're not a normal human family? You think?"
Edward wrapped his arms around his wife and nuzzled against her neck. "That's probably it, all things considered. But even if it is awkward, it's just one day."
"One day with the girl you almost killed yourself over," she pointed out, trying to keep up her pout even as he tried to work around it, "not to mention the fact that Jacob will be there with her."
"It was your mother that married Bella's father. How could it be any more awkward than their wedding?" he asked, kissing her just once more as he heard their daughter coming toward the house after a snowball fight with her vampire uncles. "Etta's coming," he whispered to her. "Hey, maybe it won't be so bad because she'll get along with Sarah. It's the first time they'll meet each other, you know."
Leah was doubtful, but she didn't have time to express that aloud before four-year-old Henrietta Elizabeth Cullen, who went by Etta and looked to be eight, bounded into the kitchen and shook the snow from her hot pink coat and boots. "Hi, Mommy," she chirped happily. "Hi, Daddy."
"Hi, munchkin," Leah said, pushing a plate of cookies toward her. The daughter she'd given birth to had an appetite for traditional food that was definitely inherited from her wolf mother and an appetite for animal blood that was definitely inherited from her vampire father. "Who won the snowball fight?"
"Me and Uncle Jasper," she answered around a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie. "We were on a team against Aunt Alice and Uncle Emmett. Then we buried Uncle Emmett in the snow because he said that me and Aunt Alice are almost the same size and she got mad."
Edward snickered and sat down on a stool at the island. "You'll have to describe that better for your mother, Etta," he suggested, thoroughly enjoying the replay of it in her mind.
"I will," Etta promised before she turned solemn, "but can I ask you two a question first?"
Leah glanced at Edward, knowing he would know the question already. She didn't like the look on his face, and she guessed what the question was. "Go ahead, munchkin," she told her daughter, waiting to hear the question she and Edward had been expecting for a very long time.
"How did you and Daddy meet?" Etta asked, fulfilling Leah's guess. "How come you're so nervous about going to Grandma Sue's house tomorrow morning?"
The story started with Leah, so Edward let her start the answer. "You know how I can turn into a wolf?" When Etta nodded, Leah continued. "Well, that's where it all starts; the first time I ever turned into a wolf is the first step toward me and Daddy being together and having you. I was in a bad mood that night and I got in an argument with my mom. I accidentally phased, without knowing I could do it, and my dad had a heart attack when he saw it."
"Grandpa Harry, who I'm named after," Etta finished helpfully when Leah choked up a little. "Was Daddy there?"
"No, I wasn't there, sweetheart," Edward answered, giving his wife more time. "Remember, your Cullen family and your Quileute family don't like each other much unless they have to. I was in Italy."
"Italy! Why?" she demanded, impatient to finally have her questions answered.
"I'd, um, broken up with my girlfriend so I went there to distract myself," he replied vaguely, not yet ready to have her know everything. "I had never seen your mother."
"Then how did you see her? Was she a wolf when you saw her first?"
Edward smiled as he thought of the first time he saw the lithe gray wolf he'd come to love in all forms. "Actually, she was. You see, some people in Italy didn't like the girl I'd broken up with because she came to save me and they knew she knew about vampires. I went back to Forks to protect her as best as I could. We didn't love each other anymore, she'd come to love Jacob."
"Did that make you sad?" Etta asked, chewing her cookie slowly as she interrupted again.
"A little bit, but Jacob was a wolf like your mother and he wanted to protect Bella as badly as I did. In time, we had to fight to protect her. That's when I saw your mother," he paused to glance at his wife, remembering the way it had felt when his eyes met hers that day in the clearing. "She was a wolf and was not at all happy to have to help vampires fight other vampires."
"Until I saw your father," Leah said, picking up the conversation in a purely happy place. "You know about imprinting, right? Well, that's what I did. I imprinted on him and there wasn't anything I'd rather have done than fight to keep him safe because the vampires trying to hurt Bella would have hurt him to get to her."
"It wasn't the Volturi, though," Etta said nodding knowledgably, "Uncle Emmett told me so. They're the Italian vampires and they came around later."
Her parents silently, and separately, vowed to not so subtly remind Emmett to send her to them with all such questions, but they both nodded in confirmation. "That's true," Leah said, seeking to distract her daughter. "But I thought you wanted to know about us."
Etta bounced on her stool and accepted the glass of milk her father handed her, having read her want of it in her thoughts. "I do, I do."
"Hush, then, and listen," Leah scolded her lightly. "Where was I?"
"You were protecting Daddy," she reminded her, grinning at the idea of a girl protecting a boy and causing Edward to laugh softly at her pride in her mother.
"Right, protecting Daddy," Leah said, pretending as though she'd actually forgotten. "So, before we even got to fight the vampires that wanted to hurt Bella, me and the other boys in the pack had to learn how to fight vampires. I tried to pay attention, really I did, but no one paid much attention that first night."
It was Edward who interrupted that time, teasing his wife if only because he loved to see her brief frustration at being teased fade into a smile. "Why not, my love?"
She stuck her tongue out at him, and then smiled. "The boys were kind of gobsmacked that I'd just imprinted on you, on your daddy," she clarified for Etta's sake. "Personally, I'd barely paid attention to imprinting except to know that I didn't want to do it because it had already screwed up my life."
This concerned Etta very much and she gasped, clapping her slightly shimmery caramel colored hand over her mouth. "Because you imprinted on Daddy?"
"No, no, munchkin," Leah said quickly, trying to figure out the best way of explaining this part of the story. "I was just like Daddy, because I loved someone else before I loved him. That was Sam, you know him. When he started being a wolf, he imprinted on Emily and broke up with me. That's how it screwed up my life. That's why I hated it."
"But you were wrong," the little girl pressed.
"I was wrong," she said, leaning into to Edward's embrace as he appeared beside her. "But I didn't admit that for a very long time."
"Your mother is stubborn," Edward added, smirking as his wife swatted at him.
"Not stubborn, logical," she argued. "The shape-shifters exist for the purpose of killing vampires so it was really weird to find myself bound to one for all eternity."
Etta giggled and stood up, leaping along the stools until she was on the one closer to her parents. "I bet it was weird," she agreed. "What did you do?"
"Well, I fought it for a really long time," Leah admitted sheepishly. "I didn't want to be the wolf girl who fell for the vampire. It just felt stupid."
Edward lifted his daughter and sat down with her on his lap. "But, like I said, your mother is stubborn," he said, winking at his wife. "It took a lot of time and a lot more patience for her to give in to the inevitable. That was okay, though, because I needed to completely stop loving Bella like I had and she needed to stop loving Sam like she had."
"This part is boring," Etta declared as she reached for one final cookie. "Let's skip to the part where Mommy realized she was in love with you."
Leah reached out and tickled her daughter's stomach. "Oh, so it's a love story you're after, is it?"
Giggling uncontrollably, the little girl didn't even try to squirm away from her parents. "Yes!" she squealed. "Love story!"
"Alright, then, one sappy love story coming up," her mother agreed with an overdramatic sigh. "I realized I loved your daddy when I saw a book of Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork on the shelf at his house. I asked whose it was, because they have a crapload of books, and he said it was his. My thoughts must have been very excited, because he took me to the third floor where, what did I see on the wall but the original Ram's Head, White Hollyhock-Hills."
"The painting with the steer's skull on it?" Etta asked, wrinkling her nose because it wasn't her favorite painting at all; she'd made it very clear and Leah had consented to leave that painting with Carlisle and Esme when she and Edward set up their house.
"That's the one," Edward confirmed, chuckling at his wife's sigh. "Once she saw that painting, and Carlisle convinced her that I actually owned it, she started talking to me more. We spent a lot of time traveling to art museums at first. I think she was just using me for my car and my money at the time. Then, one day, an auction house in Seattle was auctioning Calla Lily Turned Away. Your mother, being who she is, broke her leg practicing her fighting with Emmett and couldn't go to the sale."
Leah stuck her tongue out at him. "I didn't even really want to go anyway," she pouted. "I knew I didn't have a fraction of the money that the painting would go for and I wasn't going to ask him to buy it for me."
Knowing that the pretty flower painting, one she much preferred to the steer skull one, hung in a place of pride in the living room, Etta grinned widely. "But he bought it for you, didn't he?" she asked, giggling now over the idea of her Uncle Emmett giving her mother a broken leg.
"He sure did, munchkin. He went to the auction in Seattle and bought the painting. He still won't tell me how much he paid for it."
"Why do you still want to know that?" Edward asked over his daughter's head. "It's a gift, Leah, not something you need to pay me back for."
"I know that," she protested, her thoughts betraying her to him. "I just want to know. I can't even find the price it sold for online."
"Mommy, you looked?" Etta squawked in disbelief. "Daddy, she looked!"
"I knew she would," he replied calmly, "that's why I made sure the auction house wouldn't make it public. You can do those type of things if you have enough money."
Leah's attempt at scowling at him failed, in part because she loved that he done all that for her but mostly because her daughter was watching her reaction. "Move the story along, Edward," she said with a quiet sigh.
He nodded in understanding and brought Etta's attention back to himself. "I gave her the picture just as her leg finished healing. Do you know what she said?"
Etta shook her head eagerly. "What did she say, Daddy?"
Leah and Edward answered in unison. "I love you."
Hugging her father tightly then jumping to do the same with her mother, Etta sighed happily. "That's a good love story. Do you know why?"
"Why?" Leah asked, always curious about her daughter's mind and the way it worked, especially since Edward always knew what was in it.
"Because," she said, in a tone that made it clear she thought it was obvious, "if Daddy hadn't had that book, and you hadn't seen the creepy skull painting, then broke your leg, and got the lily painting, then said you loved him … then you wouldn't have me."
"That, my sweet daughter, is very wise," Edward declared. "I, for one, am very glad that we have you."
"That makes two of us," Leah agreed, lifting her daughter into her arms. "But now, munchkin, it's time for bed or Santa Claus won't come and leave you any presents at all."
"That's not fair!" Etta protested shrilly. "Santa Claus won't come unless everyone in the house is asleep and Daddy never sleeps. He won't come at all!"
Biting her lip hard to keep from laughing, Leah hugged her daughter. "Daddy will go hunt and stay with Grandma Esme and Grandpa Carlisle tonight, munchkin. That way you and me can go to sleep and Santa Claus will come. How's that sound?"
It sounded like a good idea but, as Edward kissed her goodnight, she eyed him intently. "Don't hunt the reindeer, Daddy," she warned him very seriously. "Santa Claus needs them."
Now biting his lip to keep from laughing, he nodded solemnly. "I would never eat Santa's reindeer. Besides, I'm not really thirsty tonight so I'll just go the other house – to avoid temptation and all that."
"I love you, Daddy," Etta chirped happily. "See you in the morning!"
Leah was lying awake in her own bed, having been sent there when Etta worried that Santa might think she was a baby if her mother was sleeping with her, when Edward slipped silently into the house. "Merry Christmas, wife," he murmured, crawling in bed beside her. "Don't worry, Santa Claus has been and gone already, with eight reindeer intact."
"Did he leave presents?" she whispered back.
"Heaps," Edward replied, not exaggerating the fact that someone was most assuredly spoiling one Henrietta Cullen. "It might be hard to tear her away to go to your mother's house."
"We could skip it," Leah suggested as she curled in to him. "Let her play all day then, when she gets tired of us, send her to play with her aunts and uncles."
"I can't let you do that, wife," he told her bluntly. "After all, Sue and Charlie moved here to be close to Etta. You know your mother will just send Seth, and possibly Jacob, to find us if we don't show up."
Groaning loudly into the pillow, she agreed with him in her mind.
"It's just a few hours. And think about it this way, Bella will be there but Sam won't." Edward didn't say that, unlike his wife's feelings about Sam disappearing when she imprinted, he hadn't forgotten what he'd felt for Bella. In truth, she already knew it. "Anyway, Leah, stop not wanting to do it. You have to do it. All you'll do by spending time not wanting to is to ruin the rest of the experience."
"For you and Etta as much as for myself," she finished, realizing just how right he was. "Alright, then, why don't you distract me to get me started on being in a better mood about this?"
"Distract you? On Christmas?"
"Not like that, Edward!" she laughed loudly, before remembering her sleeping daughter and burying her face in the pillow again. "Tell me a story."
Calming down with the knowledge that she wasn't looking for sex, as much as he liked having sex with her, on Christmas, he eyed her speculatively. "What do you want to hear a story about? Santa Claus?"
"I'm not Etta," she laughed more softly. "I know all about Santa Claus. I want to know about Christmas as it was before World War I. I figure, who better to tell me about it than my husband – who lived it?"
Ignoring the jibe at his age, Edward did as she asked. He told her everything he could remember about celebrating Christmas as a boy at the dawn of the 20th century. His favorite memory, the one he told her just before she fell asleep, was of the puppy his father had given him when he was eight. He'd named the dog Hershey, after his favorite kind candy – the Hershey's Kiss – and considered the dog to be his best friend. He remembered clearly that it was the best gift his father had ever given him.
"What kind of dog was it?" Leah asked sleepily. "Do you remember?"
"A mutt, I'm fairly certain," he answered thoughtfully. "I remember he gave it to me on Christmas Eve, because he said it needed warmth and food. It was a tiny thing. I think he'd found it abandoned in the street on his way home from work. I heard him and my mother arguing about it; she thought it was a disease ridden fleabag that he should have left in the street or put out of its misery. It was one of the only times I was ever really angry with my mother.
"My father and I never had too much interaction for one reason or another, but that puppy brought us together."
Awake now, and focused fully on the story, Leah wrapped her arms around him. "Do you know what happened to the dog, to Hershey?"
"I do," he admitted sadly. "He died about a week before I came down with the Spanish Influenza. I don't know if a dog can get influenza, I never looked because maybe I didn't want to know, but he went to sleep one night and didn't wake up in the morning. I buried him under the apple tree in our backyard. And then I got sick."
She hugged him tightly, letting him have his moment of quiet memory.
They didn't talk much more after that, instead just lying in each other's arms as they waited for dawn to break.
Etta woke before dawn broke, and came bounding into their bedroom. She leapt up onto the bed and squirmed in between her parents. "Santa Claus came," she announced gleefully. "I peeked at the presents under the tree."
"Not in them, right?" Leah asked as sternly as she could. "Because looking under the paper would be a bad thing, munchkin."
"I'm a good munchkin," Etta grinned. "Not a piece of paper or tape out of place. I swear on Aunt Alice's Porsche."
Chuckling, Edward sat up and swung his daughter onto the floor. "Let's go see if Santa Claus spoiled Henrietta Cullen, shall we?"
She disappeared from the room before her mother could get her feet onto the floor.
"Is this how most children are?" Edward asked his wife quietly as he sat on the floor beside the Christmas tree and watched his daughter rip brightly colored paper off packages before tossing the packages aside to be examined later.
"Yes," Leah laughed, pulling a piece of tape out of her daughter's silky auburn hair. "Yes, Edward, all little kids are like this. I promise that she's as normal as she can be."
"She can also hear you," Etta interrupted impishly, pausing with her hands on a book she'd specifically asked for. "You're the abnormal ones. Uncle Seth said so."
"He's not one to talk," Leah and Edward said in perfect unison, dissolving into a fit of giggles with Etta when they realized. It was Etta that recovered most quickly. "Come on, open your presents. Please!"
They did as they were told, moving almost as quickly as she had because they were going to be late for Christmas lunch. When they were all dressed and in the car, Etta sighed and kicked her foot lightly against the back of Leah's seat. "There's going to be another kid there, right? Does she know what I am?"
"Yes to both," Edward confirmed. "Her name is Sarah and she knows what you are and what your mother and I are. Her father can do the same thing that your mother can. Don't be nervous, sweetheart. We'll all be there and so will your uncle Seth and your grandmother."
"I thought it was all a secret," Etta argued thoughtfully, "how come Sarah gets to know?"
"Remember when I told you about Bella last night?" Edward asked her. "Bella is her mother and Bella knows what I am so she and Jacob, Sarah's father, told her everything."
"Partly because we're going to be there," Leah added. "You're related to Sarah, to be honest. Cousins, or something like that. You'll be fine."
Etta sighed uncertainly and looked at the white house her father had just parked in front of. "I hope they like me," she murmured as she climbed out of the car.
Sue met her daughter's family at the car; hugging Leah tightly, Edward loosely, and Etta with all her strength. "Merry Christmas," she said with a cheerfulness that was just a little bit tense. "You're the last ones here."
"Thanks for pointing that out, Mom," Leah replied dryly, slipping her hand into Edward's as Etta held on to her grandmother. "So everyone will be staring at us when we walk in?"
"I don't know who everyone would be," Sue countered. "Seth and Charlie are completely used to all this. Unless there will be tension between Edward and Bella, I don't see any blatant staring in your future."
Knowing that his mother-in-law, still not totally used to who had ended up as her son-in-law, was genuinely worried, Edward tried his best to reassure her. "Bella and I have spoken, Sue. Everything will be fine. I promise."
And it was.
Leah and Edward talked easily, as friends, with the couple they had such a complicated history with. Seth made things easier with his easy-going, neutral nature that could bridge any gap. Sue and Charlie looked on with pride as their granddaughters fell into an easy friendship that immediately included finishing each other's sentences and showing a liking for the same books and toys.
By the end of the day, Leah's smile was no longer forced, nervous, or uncertain. She was genuinely happy around her extended family, around the girl her husband had once loved and she'd once judged so harshly, and that felt good.
Edward bumped against her shoulder, reading her thoughts, and kissed her cheek. "Not so bad, is it?" he whispered softly.
She shook her head, trying and failing to pout or scowl. "Can we do this often?"
"As often as you like," he promised, "and don't worry, Etta's been asking me the same thing. She's very keen to stay close to Sarah."
"Really?" Leah knew they were getting along, but she was a little surprised by the news.
"Mm-hmm," he hummed, leaning close to her ear. "She adores Sarah, so it's more than just liking Sarah because she doesn't have to keep secrets from her. Sarah feels the same about Etta, by the way."
"Our daughter found a friend, a true friend, on Christmas?" It was something that she'd long worried about, even going so far as to ask Jacob and Bella if they'd mind Sarah knowing everything – she hadn't known they'd already told her – and the idea of Etta having a friend thrilled her. "That might make this the best Christmas ever."
"Just wait until we get home," Edward murmured quickly, his lips on her ear before he pulled away like he hadn't done anything.
Leah covered her shock well and got down on the floor to play Monopoly with the girls and Bella. She couldn't wait.
The Georgia O'Keeffe Artwork
Ram's Head, White Hollyhock Hills - wiki/File:O'Keeffe_Georgia_Ram's_
Calla Lily Turned Away - en/georgia-o-keeffe/calla-lily-turned-away