June 9, 2013
I can never forget the time when I was going through it: the change.
It had felt like nothing else, like a sword slicing through my skin again and again till it had drained and pierced me from head to toe. A fire had raged in my blood, in my head and under my skin, and it had been depressing to know that it only seemed to accelerate.
Screaming did no good.
More than anything, it tired you out. And that was not effective, because if your hands went loose, you could not grip anything to soothe the effect of the pain, and then it felt more than deadly.
Katherine was doing exactly that: I could hear her in the library upstairs. It had been about thirty-six hours since it had started, and there were some more to pass.
Carlisle was giving her morphine in doses that had to be unhealthy, but the venom was burning it off too quickly for it to actually do anything.
Mark went ballistic when Katherine finally started screaming, but had calmed down once he accepted that doing something else was not possible. Now, he was sticking to her side, trying to somehow make her listen to him through the pain. I knew it would be insignificant: she was in too much agony to notice anything else right now.
I watched the blood color the water red as it mixed with the latter and ran down the drain. I felt proud of myself, really. If this had happened a few years ago, I was sure I would not have been able to control myself. Today, I had not only helped Carlisle deliver Katherine’s children, but had also sewed her up while Carlisle had worked on the little ones.
After changing my blood-soaked shirt, and taking a quick bath, I started for the basement. We were keeping the babies away from Katherine’s screaming for now.
Everyone in the family was there when I entered, hovering over the little musketeers. I saw Bella and Esme with the eldest (Ed, who had been the first to come out) while Leah and Rosalie were fawning over the middle one (Edd). Seth, Jacob and Nessie were crooning to the little girl (Eddy, and cue eye roll), who had been, for the time being, kept in the incubator.
It turns out, Carlisle’s theory had been right. He had predicted that one of the babies might not get enough nutrition inside Katherine’s little frame, so it could be a little weak.
Katherine’s little girl was more human than her brothers. In just a matter of two days, where her brothers had grown to the sizes of three months old, she looked like a little newborn, just over a few weeks. She couldn’t yet open her eyes entirely, but I could tell they were her mothers’. She also had trouble breathing, so Carlisle set her up inside an incubator to provide her with a strong support system.
Don’t tell anyone I said this, but she looked like a small, hairless kitten, really.
“Hey.” I walked up to Bella, where she was cradling Ed, singing to him softly.
“Hi,” she whispered.
Ed, who had been staring intently at Bella all this time, now turned his gaze to me, and whimpered.
That was another thing I was amazed at: the bond between a child and its parents. Katherine’s kids were not big weepers, but even they knew that none of the people coddling them right now were their parents. Every time someone came in, they became anxious. Granted, they’d not taken a dislike to any of us in particular, but they’d also not accepted us wholly. The only time when they’d ever been really calm since being born was when Mark came in to see them.
He’d balked at the sight of his daughter until Carlisle assured him that there was no real danger to her. He then turned his attention to his two sons, who had watched him wide eyed and with intense fascination the entire time he sang to them. They recognized his voice from when they heard him in the womb, and they had naturally known that this man, Mark, was special.
“Hey man, how’re you doin’?” I asked Ed sweetly, and Bella smiled beside me.
“He’s been restless all morning. I think he’s waiting for Mark to come back.” She rocked Ed gently so he would quiet down a little. “How’s Katherine?”
“I don’t think it should be long now. We used a lot of venom to speed up her transformation.” I nodded, absently brushing Ed’s hair. He looked exactly like Mark: a little Tom Hanks.
Ed moved again, and made a little noise, and that elicited a response from Edd. I swear, those two had one track minds! It took only seconds for the latter to start wailing like he was being murdered. Oh yes, did I tell you? While Ed was calm and expressed his discomfort wordlessly, Edd was a lot more vocal about it. Hence, the wailing. He and Emmett were going to get along just fine.
“Esme, can you get Emmett for me? His clone just started crying,” Rosalie called out from her place beside Edd’s crib, and in the next second, Emmett bounded through the door.
“Where is he?!” He took one look at the boy and softened. “Oh, come on, you pansy! How are you ever going to get a girl if you start crying for Mommy the first thing in the morning? Girls don’t like douches. You’ll probably end up playing video games and drinking beer, and having dinner with sixteen cats!”
Imagine my horror when Edd sobered up at Emmett’s words: entirely Obi Wan Kenobi-d by him!
Lord help Katherine and Mark.
“What just happened?” Bella stared at the interaction between Emmett and Edd.
“What happened is that we need to keep Edd away from Emmett,” Alice whispered in terror, and I agreed.
“You’re going to turn him into you. Lord knows one is enough.” I shook my head, and Emmett grimaced at me.
“Don’t worry, Edd. They’re just jealous ’cause you’re the cool kid!” Emmett cuddled him, and for a moment, I thought he would melt like an ice cream under the sun.
Ed shuffled again in Bella’s arms, and she handed him to me. “Here, hold him. I need to get his bottle ready.”
We were giving the kids human blood as of now. The one time Carlisle tried to feed them animal blood had been disastrous. While Ed drank some and made weird noises, Edd had outright refused to put it to his lips. He had cried and cried until Esme gave me some O positive. Who knew babies had preferences?
Eddy was, for the time being, fed through an intravenous line. She couldn’t yet grip a bottle, and needed to be kept warm. So, Carlisle had suggested the method to keep her as healthy as possible.
I cradled Ed in my arms and cooed to him softly, watching as he kicked his arms and legs and tried to rid himself of the onesie we had put him in. His eyes were big and blue, almost translucent, and very probing. He was going to be an old, poetic soul, although a little stuck up maybe.
“Here.” Bella appeared by my side holding a bottle. I had been worried about how it would look if we were feeding a baby a red liquid instead of the usual milk, but Esme and Alice were smart enough to buy one of those opaque bottles that are covered with patterns.
“Wait, I’ll do it.” I sat down in the rocking chair in the corner of the room near the wall-sized window. That was an advantage with our “basement”. Instead of being under the ground, like every basement is, ours was on the ground floor. It was more like a room that we never used. The wall-sized window here opened directly towards the forest, providing a spectacular view of green and white. Ed liked being here.
I held him gently in my arms, checked the bottle’s temperature, and put it to his lips. Almost immediately, he stopped fidgeting and latched onto the bottle like his life depended on it, sucking relentlessly.
“Woah, slow down there, champ. There’s a lot more.” I chuckled and tried to get him to loosen his grip, but he just protested and held on even more tightly.
Bella knelt on the floor beside me, watching him intently and occasionally brushing his hair.
Her face was a euphonious symphony of wonder and love . . . and longing. There was immense passion and love in her eyes, and hidden underneath it was an almost painful sadness, engendered by the lack of one that could be her own. She looked at Ed with such fervor that I think she had forgotten momentarily our presence in the room.
And so, with my mind’s eye, I imagined what we must have looked like: me with Ed in my arms, feeding him, and Bella kneeling beside me, caressing him like one should caress a newborn.
Would it be as easy, having another baby? Would we be as good with him as we had been with Nessie? Would I mess up again, which was, I admit, the only thing I was worried about?
What if I disappoint my kid as a dad? What if I could never be a part of his life like he wanted me to be? What if I go back to being the same person I had been when Bella was in the initial stages of pregnancy?
My gaze turned to Bella, and I took in the joy that was so evident on her face as she watched the baby in my arms.
I should slap myself silly.
I chuckled silently as I realized how ignorant I had been. Not new with me, I know, but you would think I would have grown out of it by now.
The woman beside me was my answer all along.
I was a fool to have a doubted myself. No matter where I went, Bella would always bring me back: here . . . home. This wasn’t ground zero: she was. She was my start and my finish line.
In retrospect, all my worries looked insignificant now. How could I go astray when I had Bella? I might not be that much of a believer in myself, but I knew that Bella was. She always found ways, methods. I was a traveler, and she was my light. I was Dante, and she was my Beatrice.
No matter what I became, Bella would always make me human.
“Bella?” I asked softly.
“Hmm?” She didn’t look at me, busy with how Ed was now on the verge of dozing off, his bottle almost falling off.
“Yes.” There, I said it.
“Yes, what, Edward?”
I knew there were other people in the room, so I decided to be cryptic, but I knew she would understand.
“You asked me something . . . last night. Yes. Let’s do it.”
I smiled at her, and she looked up at me.
The shock and disbelief was dripping from her face, but so was her sheer happiness.
“Really? You . . . you’re agreeing?” she whispered.
“Yes.” There was no doubt in my voice. I was ready, and I knew that she was too, maybe more so than I.
“Oh . . . Oh Edward!” She hugged me, but it was more of an awkward embrace than a full fledged ‘I-love-you-more-than-love-itself’ kind of hug.
“I love you, Bella. It was only a matter of time. I’m ready,” I told her once she let me go, and I thought she would start crying at my words. Maybe she was . . . crying happy, frozen tears.
“Yes?” She grinned at me, her voice a little shaky, and my expression mirrored hers.
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