You're my world, the shelter from the rain
You're the light that helps me find my way
You're the words when I have nothing to say
You're the fire that warms me when I'm cold
You're the hand I have to hold as I grow old
You're the shore when I am lost at sea
How long has it been since this storyline began
And I hope it never ends, and goes like this forever
And in this world where nothing else is true
Here I am
Still tangled up in you
~ Staind, Tangled Up in You
We were all different people after that fateful day at the end of January. We never took our immortality for granted again, seeing how easily it could be snatched from any of us. We closed any gaps in our family dynamic, sealed tight to keep would-be intruders out. So much love was made the night of our victory it would make a hooker blush, but celebrations were well deserved.
Esme was not quite whole, but her limp was barely noticeable. She went out of her way to include my sister in everything we did. In fact, all of my family had come together more often since then. Charlie made a formidable wolf, but he made a better father when all of his anxiety washed away with the destruction of the Volturi as we'd known them.
Frank would be happy to know he didn't have to live with a foster family, if he'd been sentient in that way. Instead, I was grateful for the both of us; I really loved that little guy. He'd warmed to other members of my family, though he still gave Jasper a wide berth.
Edward had healed as promised, the thin white scars resembling cracked marble in his otherwise perfect skin. We had since christened each room in our cottage, again. The reaffirmation was necessary for our peace of mind as well as the closeness of the mating bond.
I was still in awe of my own powers, the way they'd manifested under such duress until I learned of even more gifts. Renée and Carlisle agreed that what we'd all witnessed when I ran in desperation toward Edward was telekinesis, a power I didn't know I possessed. However, there were no levitating spoons and coffee cups for Emmett’s enjoyment, unfortunately. I needed the adrenaline and fear to create earthquakes and to use the telekinesis, but I still lit the fireplace occasionally for my own amusement. And Emmett’s.
And here I was, mid-February, back at the University of Washington with Angela and Jessica. I'd caught up on what I missed in January and was making low A’s to high B’s in my classes. Not bad for nearly dying on a snowy battlefield filled with the supernatural. Not bad at all.
Except that now I felt awful, like I couldn't get enough sleep, and the passing out I'd done on the field had become a regular occurrence. I was snappy and hungry, alternating with cuddly. I was probably giving Edward whiplash, but he took everything in stride.
“How can you stand me when I snap at you like that?” I'd asked.
He merely kissed my temple and smiled. “You could have died, Bella. We all could have. Not much bothers me after that.”
He was too nice, and he deserved better than my bad attitude, but I couldn't seem to help myself.
“Well, Mr. Nothing Bothers Me, now I'm getting fat, so deal with that.”
Not being under the constant threat of death had improved my appetite, if not my mood.
“If you think for one second I care about your weight, Bella, you are mistaken,” he said vehemently.
I'd jumped him after that, and neither of us gave a damn how much weight I'd put on.
February rolled into March, and a few things started to click for me. One day when I had no classes, I rushed from my bathroom into the bedroom where Edward was reading at the desk.
“Edward!” I said his name in a panic, and he was up and standing in front of me in an instant.
“What is wrong?” he demanded.
“C-can vampires make babies?” I choked out.
The silence I was met with was telling. It was broken by the shrill ringing of my cell phone, and I blindly reached out for it on my desk as Edward and I stared at each other.
I answered it wordlessly once I saw Alice's name on the screen.
“Bella?” Her voice was shrill in my ear.
“What have you seen?” I whispered.
“Um, you're not going to finish college any time soon,” she ventured.
Edward grabbed for the phone, growling into it in words too fast for me to comprehend. He hung up the phone and continued to stare at me until the panic was too great and I had to say something.
“What did she say, Edward?” I cried.
He blinked, and his gaze focused on my face. His body relaxed, and he pulled me against him. “You will be fine, I promise. Whatever I have to do, I swear it will be done.”
“Okay, you're scaring me.” I pushed at him until there was some space between us and searched his face. There was worry in his eyes, but his face was the smooth mask he’d perfected for over a century.
“Alice saw you, very pregnant, but then your future cut off. She does not know why, or what it means. Carlisle suggested we come home immediately,” he said in a monotone.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I shouted. “We were so positive you couldn't produce children! Remember? You're technically dead!” I shouted some more. I felt the hysteria rising again, the uncontrollable feeling I’d had in the bathroom when I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember having my last period.
“That is exactly why we need Carlisle to give you an exam. We cannot waltz into a medical office and ask them about the potential vampire, slash whatever you are, hybrid!”
My breathing was too fast; I was losing it. I couldn't believe this was happening. “What—” I swallowed and tried to breathe. “What do we do if something goes wrong? Alice can't see my future anymore!” I reminded him.
He sighed loudly, pulling on my hands until we sat on the bed side by side. “You will be fine. We will see to it, Carlisle and I. We need to pack and head back to Forks. I will take care of that, you tell the girls you are sick or something. We can work something out with the university to finish this year online, if that is your wish.”
His touch grounded me somewhat, but I was still scared. It wasn't even the thought of a baby that scared me as much as the thought that Alice couldn't see me anymore. After all that we’d faced together, a baby created out of our love was not going to be the end of me. Oh, gods, a baby!
“There's nothing in the teen werewolf handbook for what to do when your vampire boyfriend knocks you up,” I joked, then sniffed as I wiped away the tear that escaped.
Edward's eyes softened, and he cupped my face in his hands. “I would be honored to father children with you. I never knew it was a possibility.” He used his thumbs to brush away more tears as I started to cry.
“We need to go, huh?” I mumbled.
“Yes, love. The sooner we have answers, the better for my peace of mind.”
Angela was the only one home, and she was disappointed to hear I was leaving again. “To be honest, I was getting worried about you. You’ve been sick for awhile now.”
I’d used the excuse of a tropical illness for why I was out for the month of January. “I know. I thought I was better, but all I’ve done is sleep and pass out.”
She smiled gently at me. “Are you sure you aren't pregnant?”
“I’m not sure, no. I'll let you know when I figure out what’s going on with me,” I promised.
The ride to Forks was all too familiar, and I mostly slept. We were met at the front door by Esme and Carlisle.
“Bella,” Esme greeted me with a tender hug and a cold kiss to the cheek.
“Son, how are you holding up?” Carlisle asked Edward.
The look Edward gave him really was answer enough. “I just want to know that Bella will remain healthy.”
“Of course,” Carlisle replied.
The house was oddly quiet as I let Frank out of his carrier. The poor guy was likely used to it by now, but I hated carting him around. We followed Carlisle up the stairs and to his study. He already had an exam table and some equipment set up.
“Just promise me you had nothing to do with Frankenstein’s monster,” I quipped.
No one laughed.
Other than being able to confirm that I was, in fact, pregnant with a white demon love child, nothing Carlisle used to poke and prod me with could get past the amniotic sac.
“It appears to be impervious to outside influence,” Carlisle observed.
“Like vampire skin?” I asked.
“Quite similar, yes.”
Edward groaned, and my gaze shot to his face. “What?” I demanded.
He shot a glare at his father. “Speak out loud, please.”
“All right. The Amazons were helpful, to an extent. They have seen hybrids between vampires and humans…but the mothers never survived birth.”
“And nobody thought to say anything sooner?” I shouted, my emotions out of control again.
“They did not realize that you weren’t taking any precautions against this. It didn't cross their minds, honestly,” Carlisle defended his friends. “I had not heard of it before, or I would have warned you myself.”
“Everyone take a deep breath,” Esme encouraged. “Anger and accusations will get us nowhere.”
“But I’m not human, not really. I’m not weak. What are the complications?”
“They needed blood while pregnant, and most were averse to the idea. They didn't realize it would save their lives. Apart from that, the birth can be rather…violent.”
I shivered. “In what way?”
Edward stepped in to answer me. “You see how the machines cannot penetrate through the sac?” I nodded. “It would take the bite of a vampire to rend an opening.”
“That sounds pleasant,” I muttered.
“At any rate,“ Edward said while staring at Carlisle. “It can be done, and we will do it.”
“Of course,” Esme assured us all. “Whatever it takes, Bella.”
So I became permanently installed in the Cullen home, by virtue of the craziness that was my life. The baby grew rapidly, and my symptoms were hard to manage without unsleeping vampires keeping a continuous watch. Sue and Harry practically lived with us again, Sue taking leave from the school, while Harry still had to work. Renée and Charlie had found a place nearby they wanted to buy, but they were still in the house, as well.
I mostly stayed in the living room, it being central to the kitchen and a bathroom. I didn't have to even get up and walk when I needed something, though I often did to stretch my legs and keep my muscles working. The baby was often resting on a nerve, and I needed help walking before too much time had passed. I ate regular food when it stayed down, but more often than not I drank blood that Carlisle procured for me. I tried not to think of the implications of how he obtained it, any more than I liked to think about how well the blood satisfied me.
March was the rainy season, and it was a constant sight. I loved the rain, really, though it plagued me while I was stuck at home to not be out in it. I loved the sound of the first few plip-plops on the window panes, the smell of the dirt as the rain woke it up. Edward would open all the windows for me so I could feel the electricity as it stormed, so I could smell the fecund earth as it was washed new again. I needed to experience the outside world I’d always lived in to avoid going insane, even if it was in this small way.
“Mom, this is the ninety-ninth time I’ve peed today. You don't have to come with me.” It was April, and I was most likely going to end up giving birth soon.
Sue was my helper that day, and I was grouchy as hell. “Bella, I’m coming whether you like it or not. You’ve lost weight, and this baby is huge. You need help, so stop bitching about it.”
I hung my head. “Yes, Mom.”
As we sat back down on the couch in the living room, I looked around and realized we were alone. “Everyone is hunting,” Mom informed me. “Well, the vampires are. Harry went to get us some dinner, and I really don't know where your parents went.”
“I can't believe I’m going to be a mom,” I whispered, staring at the woman whose love was imbedded in my soul. “You did such a good job when you didn't even know me.”
“I knew you in my heart, Bella. I recognized you as a child that needed a mother, and that was all it took for you to be mine.”
“What did you do with me at first? I couldn't remember how to speak; I didn't know my name.”
She sighed wistfully. “You were so serious all the time.” She reached over and ran her hand down my hair. “I called you Maralah, which means one who was born during an earthquake. Then Harry found the article with the information about you and your parents, and I knew your birth name.” She laughed. “You looked at me strangely when I first called you Isabella, but it was so you. You’ve always had a thirst for knowledge, and a resilience that most people don't possess. If anyone can be a good mother, it is certainly you.”
I leaned toward her and threw my arms around her. “Oh!” I gasped as a pain shot through my lower belly.
“I think it might be time, Bella.”
She called Edward, who was never far away, and it wasn’t long before he came back, bringing his parents and sisters with him. Edward carried me up the stairs to the study Carlisle had been using as an exam room and laid me on the bed; this room would serve as my ‘birthing suite’.
“I'm so nervous,” I admitted to no one in particular. I felt the strange movements of the baby I was sure was too big to be normal.
“Just remember that I love you, and I will make sure you live,” Edward said as he took my hands in his.
“Way to lighten the mood, babe.”
He didn't get the chance to reply as another pain ripped through me, this one excruciating and centered at the base of my spine. I couldn't help screaming, even as Carlisle hurried to give me pain medication.
Edward leaned down slowly, an odd expression on his face. He rested his ear on my abdomen as the child within moved and my skin rippled with the effort.
“I can hear the baby's heartbeat,” he marveled. “It must be attempting to get out.”
“Yes, please get it out!” I begged, feeling somewhat drowsy.
“It’s going to be fine, Bella. I promise you,” Alice said from my other side. I felt a sense of calm and peace come over me before I realized that Jasper had come to stand in the doorway.
“Just don't focus on what Edward is doing,” Rose added. We had agreed that it was only fair for Edward to deliver our baby, and I was most definitely not focusing on that.
The pain meds worked, combined with Jasper’s calming affect, and I felt myself slipping under. Just before I lost consciousness, I heard Edward’s voice.
“We have a girl,” he whispered in my ear.
I closed my eyes and slept with a smile on my face.