“Renesmee, darling? Time to wake up sweetie. It’s Christmas day.”
I opened my eyes and blinked as the dim light hit me. Momma and Daddy were both there like every day, smiling at me, and they both held something wrapped in shiny stripy paper. That’s when I remembered: Christmas!
Everybody in my family (and a lot of the guests) had told me about Christmas. Auntie Rosalie told me stories about sparkly balls and beautiful parties, Granddad Carlisle told me the tale of the nativity and baby Jesus, Uncle Emmett told me about Santa Claus and flying reindeer that were impossible to hunt, and Grandma Esme told me about the Christmases before Daddy met Mom. Nobody liked to talk about last Christmas, especially Mummy and Daddy. When I asked, Grandma Esme just said it was a very sad time because Mom and Dad weren’t together.
I had put a picture of Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper in her head, and she swallowed, but not like she was drinking.
“Yes,” she said. “Like Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper aren’t together with us now.”
Momma and Daddy didn’t look very sad now. Mom put her little shiny parcel down to lift me out of bed and cuddle me. I put my hand on her cold cheek and put a picture of the presents in her head. She and Daddy both laughed, but I didn’t know what was funny.
“Such impatience! And for presents, too,” Daddy said, looking at Mom.
“No doubt who she gets that from,” Mom said. “Alright, yours first.”
Daddy smiled at her and gently placed his present in my hands. I beamed at him and very quickly I tore the shiny shiny paper off. I didn’t rip it, though, I just destroyed the sticky tape holding it together. I liked the gold and silver paper a lot; I didn’t want to ruin it.
In the middle of all the paper was a little blue metal thing, with tiny buttons and long white wires coming out from it, like a tail that split in two. At the end of each wire was a little pod.
“It’s a music player,” Daddy said. He reached over and put the pods in my ears, then pressed a couple of the teeny buttons. A little screen flashed and some words moved across it, but I was listening to the music that was coming from the pods.
“Headphones,” Daddy said. “They’re called headphones.”
I didn’t really listen to him, but I did start singing. It was the song Daddy always sang to me, the one he said he had written for me, played on the piano. I grinned happily and closed my eyes to listen properly. It sounded like the piano was right there in the room with me, even though it wouldn't fit. I thought I could get lost in the music and forget where I was. Momma laughed as I sang along.
“Aren’t you going to say thank you?” she said to me.
"There's really no point, Bella, you know I can hear how she feels," Daddy said.
"Nothing wrong with making manners a habit," Momma said to him.
I stopped singing and opened my eyes for one second to look at Daddy and think thank you before starting again.
“You’re welcome,” Daddy smiled, “but don’t you want to open your mother’s present, too?”
I pulled the pods—headphones—out of my ears, and Daddy picked up Momma’s little present, wrapped in the same gold and silver shiny paper and with a shiny gold bow on top. I reached out and picked it out of his hand, leaving the blue music player where it had been. It was in the shape of a box, and I quickly lifted the sticky tape off the paper, which Mom put down on the table next to my little bed. She knew I would keep the paper for later. I liked shiny things. I saw I was right about the present: inside was a little black box. I turned it over, looking at the soft material that it was covered in. It was the same material that my red party dress from three weeks ago was made of. Velvet.
“Inside,” Mom said, smiling.
I found the line where the box would open and pulled the lid back. It stayed connected on one side, like a door. Hinged, that was the word. I kept learning so many new words every day; it was sometimes difficult to think of the one I wanted. I preferred to use pictures. I flipped open the box and felt my eyes go wider.
Inside the box was a little cushion made of velvet, like the box, and on the cushion was a beautiful golden necklace. It was exactly the same colour as Daddy’s eyes when he had just hunted. Daddy smiled when I thought that; it was nice that I didn’t have to tell him everything. He smiled more and I pulled the necklace out of the box. The chain was quite thin and it was gold too. The actual… pendant was shaped like an oval and it had pictures of leaves and vines round the edge, engraved. So pretty. Then I saw that the pendant had hinges too.
Daddy took the box out of my hands so I could open the pendant. It was a little bit tricky because it was quite small and it was difficult to find anything to hold on to, but I had little fingers and long nails so I managed.
I recognised the little picture straight away. It was from about six weeks ago, when Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper were still at home, and it was a picture of all of us: Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper, Auntie Rose and Uncle Em, Grandma Esme and Granddad Carlisle, Momma, Daddy, Jacob and me. Seth had taken the picture because there was no one else left. I was in the middle, with Mom holding me. Daddy and Jacob were on either side, and everyone else was gathered round. Auntie Rosalie was as far away from Jake as she could get, but everybody was smiling at the camera. I was very small then, and my hair only just hit my shoulders, but it still looked like me.
The picture was really very tiny, but I could see everyone's faces properly. Maybe Granddad Charlie wouldn't, because he was human, and Momma said humans couldn't see as well as her and me, but everyone else would.
"You can change the picture whenever you like," Mom said. "I've got lots of them which I've made smaller for you."
I smiled. Next to the picture, there was some strange writing in beautiful slanting letters. I reached up to Mom’s cheek without looking away to put a picture in her head of the writing, and a question. I could read easily, I liked reading, but I couldn’t read this.
“It means I love you more than my own life,” Momma said. Her voice went a bit wobbly at the end but I was still looking at the funny writing. That looked nothing like any words I knew.
“It’s in French,” Daddy said, and his voice was a bit shaky too. “Je t’aime plus que ma propre vie.”
The words were strange, and the way they meant nothing and something at the same time was weird and wonderful. It sounded beautiful.
“Do you want to put it on?” Mom asked.
“Yes, please,” I said out loud.
Daddy moved closer to pick up the locket and fasten it round my neck. His fingers were very cold, but I was used to being hotter than everyone else. Except Jacob, of course. Jacob was warm like me.
“There,” Daddy said, and he took a step back to look at me. “You look beautiful,” he announced, and I smiled happily.
“Just like her father,” Mom added, and they smiled at each other.
“Right,” Momma said suddenly, “Better get you dressed to go to Granddad’s.”
“Actually,” Daddy said, “best put off getting dressed until after we’ve gone to see the rest of the family.”
I frowned. Why?
“Ah,” said Momma. So she knew why. I would just have to wait and see “Alright then, let’s go.”
Then we were running through the trees. I loved running with Momma or Daddy or Jacob. They were faster than me, and I could look around me without worrying about where I was running. There was so much I hadn’t seen in this huge exciting world. Of course I knew the way from the Big House to the Little Cottage and I had seen everything there, but sometimes if I was lucky I would see a squirrel or a new type of bird, and I could show it to Grandma Esme and she would tell me its name. Grandma Esme loved looking at birds.
I didn’t see any birds today, but I didn’t mind because today was already special, and soon we were at the House.
Jacob was waiting outside on the porch for me. When he saw me, a great big grin appeared on his face, like it always did.
“Nessie!” he yelled, and jumped off the porch to come and see me. “Merry Christmas!” he grinned, and then he remembered Mummy and Daddy. “And merry Christmas to you, too.”
“Merry Christmas, Jake,” Mom said, smiling. Daddy did that funny thing with his eyes where they went all the way round in a circle.
I giggled and reached out for Jake. Momma sighed but put me in his arms so I could tell him about the presents.
“Pretty,” he said when he saw the locket. “And you got it on! Cute!”
He moved me to one arm so he could pull something out of his pocket. It was another present, but this one wasn’t wrapped in shiny paper. Instead, it was in a cute brown cloth bag with strings tied in a knot. I quickly untied the strings and opened the bag.
“See, Nessie can untie it!” Jake said to Mom. “Your own daughter!”
“Very funny, Jake,” Mom said, but I wasn’t listening. I turned the bag upside down and a loop of braided threads fell out, twisted together like when Auntie Rosalie plaited my hair, tied together to make a circle.
Using his free hand, Jake picked it up and put it on my wrist. It was a bit big so it slipped on easily.
“Since you grow so fast, I thought I’d better make it big,” he said.
I lifted my wrist closer to my eyes to look properly. I couldn’t tell how many different threads there were, but there were lots, all with colours that were just a little bit different. They were reds and browns, and I could see the colour of my hair, and the colour of Jake’s fur, and the colour of Jake’s skin, and the colour of the tree trunks, and the colour of blood, and the colour of Momma’s eyes, and the colour of my eyes… I couldn’t name them all. I pressed my hand to Jake’s warm cheek to tell him how much I loved it.
“Aw, stop it, Ness, you’re making me all embarrassed,” Jake said in that funny voice that makes lying an okay thing to do.
Daddy didn’t seem quite as happy. “So long as that doesn’t have the same significance as a ring, Jacob,” he said in an almost-growl voice.
“Of course not!” Jake said. “Ugh, we’ve been through this, that’d be sick!”
Momma sighed again. “Reminder: some of us haven’t got a clue what’s going on?”
I touched Jake’s cheek again, this time with a question.
“Um, well, usually guys would give rings like this bracelet to girls when they ask them to… uh… get married. Quileute guys, I mean,” he said, looking at Mom. “Anyway, that’s why I did a bracelet, not a ring. Thought you might freak,” he said to Daddy.
“But wasn’t the point of the rings that they took such a long time to make that no man would make one unless he truly cared about his betrothed?” Daddy said, even closer to a growl now.
"Okay, so the bracelet took longer, but having something to do with my hands keeps me sane. You know how much time I put in for that wolf charm I made Bella?"
“Edward,” Mom said quietly. “Don’t spoil it for her. You know Jake meant no harm.” She sounded a bit strange, a bit sad. “It’s beautiful, Jake,” she said.
“Bella?” Daddy said, and his voice sounded nothing like a growl now. “Are you alright?”
I twisted to look at Mom as she smiled. I could tell it wasn’t a proper smile, a happy smile, but she was pretending. “Of course I’m alright. Shall we go inside? I’m sure everyone’s waiting for us.”
Daddy still looked worried but he didn’t argue. Maybe he wanted to talk to Mom alone later. They often had moments when it looked like they were going to say something, but then they would look at me and shake their heads. It was a little bit annoying, actually. Daddy knew I knew, but he didn’t ever mention it.
Jake looked like he hadn’t noticed anything, but he might have been pretending. “Sure, sure,” he said and we all went into the house.