The Twilight Twenty-Five

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She had always wondered what it was like to be a normal girl.

They told her that she wasn't missing anything but the worst parts; trying to figure out which shade of lipstick looked the best, shaving her legs, overwhelming hormones, worrying about how to define herself for the rest of her life.

Her beauty was beyond compare. Her skin was smooth as alabaster. Her life was unnaturally long, so her decisions didn't matter much. Plenty of time to wipe the slate and try again. Besides, she didn't really have to make too many decisions anyway. She wasn't defined by her taste in music, or the clothes she wore, like a regular teenager was.

She was defined by the family she had been born into, and the things she had never chosen but couldn't change.

"You're perfect," Her mother told her, "You have nothing to worry about."

"You're lucky," Aunt Rosalie smiled, "You get the best of two worlds."

"It's easy for you," Esme would say, "Just enjoy life."

Aunt Alice understood it the best out of anyone, having always wondered what she herself had lost when she'd lost her humanity. But the fact that she had no memory of what it was like to be a carefree girl was eased somewhat by her knowing that she had never really been one. Between her misunderstood gifts and her time in the asylum, there was probably never a time when her life was full of summer romances and lazy afternoons.

Still, Alice was one of the only people who really listened, and who really tried.

It was Alice who bought her Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine, it was Alice who helped her keep track of boy bands and watched shows about women trying on wedding dresses with her. It was Alice who took her shopping, and Alice who crashed parties with her (under the strict rule of nobody ever in a million years telling anybody what they'd done.)

In a way, it was like following the Alice from the storybooks. Out of the grey and dismal world of strict rules and gothic monsters, and into a cheerful wonderland of China Glaze nail polish, Sephora eye shadow and Hello Kitty jewellery. Sometimes, when they were out in the world looking at silly things and laughing at nothing, she felt like she was almost real.

But, all too quickly, and the feeling was bound to slip away.

"Did you ever want to date anybody other than Uncle Jasper?" She asked Alice once, when they were driving home.

"Not really," Alice replied with a smile, "After all, I kind of saw the whole thing coming. And he's literally the man of my dreams, so you'd have to be crazy not to go for that chance when it comes up. Why? What's up?"

"Nothing," Renesmee shrugged, "I was just wondering. Because you saw it, it must have felt kind of… predestined? I didn't know if you'd ever felt like because he was your future, you wanted some say about the present. Maybe sow some wild oats, I guess."

Alice laughed, and she sounded like a mermaid princess instead of a vampire.

"I didn't really have any wild oats. Rosalie might have, you should ask her. As for feeling trapped by destiny, or however you said it, I never did. Jasper and I don't have passionate explosions of drama, or a tear-stained and star-crossed past, or any of that stuff. We have something that I like more. We make each other better, and when we're apart we can't be as strong as we are when we're together. We're a team."

"I guess you have to feel like you're equals to be a team."

Alice pulled the car over, and looked at Renesmee with that penetrating gaze. The one that was a perfect mixture of ruthlessness, suspicion and empathy.

"Is this about Jacob?" She asked.

Renesmee fidgeted a little, and shook her head.

"Okay. But if it's about Jacob, you can tell me."

"It's not about Jacob."

"Are you sure?"

"Can we just go home? Please?"

Of course, it was about Jacob. Not Jacob himself, but the idea of not really being allowed to choose anybody other than him. She cared for Jacob, she supposed. She certainly felt like they shared a unique bond. But it was so hard to tell if she could ever be in love with him, or if he would always be a little like a doll she'd gotten long ago. Something that had always been by her side, that was hers by all rights, but that had been chosen by somebody else.

It was strange, and it made her nervous about this long and endless future that everyone said would last for centuries.

Sometimes she felt the way that Alice hadn't.

Trapped by destiny.

She thought back to the time she'd caught a glimpse of her living reflection, because that was the first day she'd started to feel… incomplete. Not just different or strange, but like something had been taken away from her, something she didn't even know she was missing.

The girl had been in the mall with her friends. She was like Renesmee, but different. She had long chestnut hair in loose waves, and glittering dark brown eyes, and a nice complexion. But she was laughing, and wearing an off-the-shoulder top and cat-eye glasses. Like a picture in a magazine.

The looking glass life.

The girl she could have been.

She watched this alternative self, this glamorous possibility, drinking a blended Starbucks something-or-other and holding court with the other girls. Even though she was a floor above them, lingering unseen by one of the big plant pots with the dark green plastic ferns, she could easily hear what they were talking about.

"Do you have a dress?" One of the other girls was asking the Mirror-Renesmee.

"I don't even have a date!"

"Well, you can't skip prom, bitch," Another friend said fondly, "So just pick a guy and ask him."

"Nobody wants to go with me…"

"Right. Cuz you're a hideous monster-face made of ugly. I forgot."

"No! It's because I barfed on Jonathan Gainsborough at Homecoming!" She sounded so genuinely traumatized that it was almost impossible not to laugh, and it was probably even harder to stop yourself if you'd been there and seen it.

Renesmee smiled. What was it like to do something like that? Not barf on your date, but ruin an evening so thoroughly that you worried you'd be alone forever. A funny thing to take for granted, fear of the unknown.

She knew that if she wanted to go to a prom, Jake would take her. But her parents would probably discourage her from going. And what if she wanted to take somebody different? What if a boy from her class asked her, and she said yes? There had to be somebody who'd want to take her to a dance, because she was beautiful and wonderful just like her family always told her.

But the girl in the mall was the same kind of beautiful, and probably sort of wonderful in her own way. And nobody was asking her. Young, confused, lonely in such a strange way. Renesmee wanted to know what it was really supposed to be like.

When the girls had moved on, she'd gone to the store that sold prom dresses, and looked in the window. There were three mannequins in a display. One with long blonde hair, one with a brown up-do and one with chin length black hair. They all had their elbows and wrists bent so that they had their hands on their hips, or looked like they were holding imaginary purses.

The blonde one was wearing a daring tangerine gown with a plunging neckline, the brunette a flowing boho chic dress with unusual lace detailing, and the third mannequin was dressed in a flirty tutu style that could have been designed by Betsey Johnson.

There'd been a fourth, standing a little beyond the window so it could only be seen from the angle Renesmee had found herself on. It hadn't had a wig or a dress, just the chalky white skin and the perfectly painted face.

It had frightened her.

"I don't want you to think that I'm not on your side," Alice said, just as they pulled into the house's driveway, "Because I am. Always."

Bella was standing at the front door then, waiting for her daughter to come inside.

Renesmee nodded. Everyone would always be on her side, everyone would always catch her if she fell and keep her out of harm. They'd practically fought a war for her, and they'd probably do it again. But it was time for her to fight for herself, and for the woman - the person - that she wanted to become.

She looked at her mother, waiting and worrying, and she knew it would be difficult for Bella to understand. It might even be impossible. After all, she'd wanted to become a vampire more than anybody else in the coven. Renesmee's mother had demanded immortality and perpetual youth, so how could she possibly know what it felt like to want to be…

"Ness," Alice said softly, "Are we going inside?"

"Yeah. Of course," Renesmee smiled, "Thanks for being here, Aunt Alice. I mean it."

If she was going to do it, she'd have to make up her mind and get it done before her father came back from hunting. Otherwise he'd be able to figure it out, and there was no chance of him letting her go. Then she'd have to be careful not to think about the idea too much, or she'd end up projecting it into everybody else's thoughts. Which would be just as bad.

She'd have to get organized quickly, and there wouldn't be any time for excessive sentiment or proper goodbyes. It would be nice if Alice remembered this moment fondly, since Renesmee had meant what she had said, and she knew there might not be an opportunity to say it again for a long time.

She was leaving.

It was time to stop being perfect, and time to become something real.