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Chapter 2

When I came round, I felt like I was slowly extracting myself, limb after heavy limb, from a dense cloud of cotton, and I soon discovered that my eyes and voice wouldn't obey me. My ears rang loudly, and at first I didn't understand what were saying all the voices that surrounded me, saturating my rattled brain. But I could make out some, and I tried to pay attention. I wanted to know what was going on.

… unconscious for more than fifteen minutes, I'm starting to worry. The shock must have been huge. If only I knew more about half-vampires! I should know what to do now!

Carlisle's voice. But I instantly knew that I wasn't hearing it through my ears, which still sounded like a large church bell was ringing between them. So I was reading his mind. Just like my Dad. I shuddered, and I felt eight hands tightening their grip on various parts of me. My Mom's, cradling me on her lap, the rest of my body lying on what I felt was the large couch of the Cullen house. My Dad's, gently grabbing my hands and caressing them, obviously coaxing me to wake up. Jacob's warm hands on my face, and his lips on my cheeks and forehead, his movements nervous. And Carlisle's ones on my wrists, assessing my state. Their thoughts were loud, so loud! They shouted at me, making me recoil.

Oh, Nessie! Jacob's anxious voice, betraying his anguish. Please wake up! What happened? I'm so sorry I wasn't there with you! I had to protect you! I had to do it! Why have I left you for the night? Oh, Nessie, please wake up! I'm so sorry...

I should've waited a few more seconds to kill him. Edward's voice, betraying his fury and his anxiety. What did he do to her with his venom? Why can't I hear her anymore? Has she inherited her mother's shield? And will she be okay? Will there be lasting effects? Will it affect her life span? Oh, I'm going crazy with worry... Renesmee, I'm so sorry. I love you.

She shuddered. Carlisle's would-be calm voice. Maybe she's cold, with all of us around her. Or maybe she'll soon wake up. I should tell them to give her space.

Oh yes, please, Grampa, I thought dimly. Tell them that. I could hear every single thought around me, even the ones of my grandmother Esme and my aunts and uncles, Alice and Rosalie, Jasper and Emmett, from farther in the living room, as worried as those holding me. It was very unnerving, very unnatural, yet mesmerizing. In spite of myself, I was fascinated. But I soon discovered, hearing uncle Emmett's thoughts taking an awkward turn (for me) as he focused on aunt Rosalie, that being in everyone's head could be quite embarrassing.

In less than a minute, I was fed up, and I started to have a strong headache. This would take me some practise. I wasn't a full vampire, and listening to everybody at once wasn't easy. I hadn't enough room in my brain. I had to focus, try one voice at a time. The pain receded doing that, and I sighed. Carlisle felt a little better, sensing that I would soon wake up.

Then I tried to make the mayhem stop, not wanting to go crazy. I remembered what Edward had told me once about tuning everybody out, and I felt the voices fade a little as I concentrated on the one voice I couldn't hear: my mother's. She was just a few inches away, holding me in her arms, and I couldn't hear anything from her. In that instant, for the very first time in my life, I felt empathy for my father. It was so frustrating, not hearing her! And I knew she had difficulty in lifting her shield, so she couldn't do it often, and only for a few seconds.

Nessie! Jake shouted in his head, making me jump. Nessie, please come round! Wake up! I'm losing it, I'm losing it! I love her so much! What if she doesn't wake up? What if... ?

"Jacob, she'll be okay," my father said out loud, his mental voice not so sure. "It's all right, don't worry."

"I think she's cold," Carlisle said at last, still pretty worried. "We should give her space and put... "

But the blanket was already spread on me, thanks to aunt Alice. Thankfully she didn't touch me, because I was suspecting that my parents touching me was the reason that I now shared their gift. And right now, Jacob's hands were all over my face, I realized with dread.

"She's coming round," uncle Jasper said while coming closer to me, feeling my dread and worrying about it. "And something's not right. Release her, all of you."

I heard every thought around me echoing Jake's panic, but suddenly I was alone on the couch. Trying very hard to stay calm, I listened to my father's thoughts while slowly opening my eyes, not wanting to drown in Jacob's painful despair.

Why is Jasper so worried? Why does she feel dread? Oh, how I wish that Alice could see! And Jacob who can't keep it together! Well, he loves her as an adult now, for sure. As if it wasn't already complicated enough without this now! But I'll take it a thousand times if this means that she's safe and sound! And Bella... hold on, my love! Our daughter will be fine! She'll just be fine! I can't stand it if she isn't, but Bella would lose her mind! Oh Nessie, please, please...

My eyes finally obeyed, and I opened them staring at the white ceiling of the big house. A collective sigh of relief echoed in the vast space, but thankfully nobody came closer to me. Jake's voice rose first, of course.

"Nessie? How are you feeling?"

I thought about my answer for a second. How indeed was I feeling? I didn't quite know. Disoriented, of course. Dizzy, naturally. Recovering from an illness for the very first time in my life, predictably. Overwhelmed by everyone's thoughts swirling around me, I'd get used to it. But something more was off, and my previous dread returned. I shivered, and a strange tremor ran up and down my spine.

"Jacob, get back!" Jasper's curt voice lashed out in the air, ringing ominously. "Now!"


"Just do it!"

I could hear my future boyfriend's reluctance, but he took two steps back away from me. And I was glad he obeyed my uncle. I wasn't feeling good, and I didn't want to endanger him.

As I slowly sat up, noticing how my family was gathered five yards away from me, next to the kitchen door, I couldn't help but stare at Jake. For as long as I remembered being alive, since the second I had been born, he had been there, next to me. First for my mother, of course. He had been in love with her, so much that he had overcome the fact that he was a werewolf and she loved a vampire. He had saved her more than he could count, and she had loved him like a brother. Fortunately for me, or the situation would've been very difficult. And when he laid eyes on me, during my first hour of existence, he imprinted on me. And when I first laid eyes on him, I knew, while barely an hour old, that he was the love of my life.

I found it tremendously difficult now to be away from him, even a few yards away. I needed his warm embrace, his strong arms, his lips on my hair, his brown eyes in mine. I needed him telling me it would be okay. But it wasn't okay, and I felt myself trembling from head to toe.

"Nessie?" Carlisle asked, worry creasing his forehead. "Tell us what's wrong, please."

I stayed focused on Jacob, though I could see my parents' anxious faces right beside him. I wanted so much to run to them, have a hug and a few kisses, and their reassurance. But I wasn't the same as before. I knew, deep down inside, that I would never be the same. The vampire's venom had poisoned me. And I was afraid that it was changing me, and to what extent. I wasn't fully vampire. I still could change.

"Nessie?" Jasper asked gently, trying to make me relax with his strange gift. "Why are you afraid?"

"Uncle Jasper," I whispered, "please stay away from me and don't touch me. All of you," I added, eyeing my now distraught family, "stay away and don't touch me."

"Why?" Jake asked, looking distressed and, though he tried to conceal it, a little bit hurt. "Nessie, what... ?"

"I think that vampire had a talent," I said, gathering my thoughts and examining my hands. "I... Dad cannot hear my thoughts anymore. I think that's because..."

I looked at my mother then, beside herself with worry. I wanted so much to run to her! It was physically painful to force myself to stay put, and I shivered again, fire running along my spine. I went on. "I think that when Mom sucked the venom out of my hand, I took her gift."

"But..." Jake started, scowling.

"Bella still has her shield up," my father told me immediately, eyes wild. I could see that he had understood, and his thoughts confirmed it. This is really bad. She has Bella's gift, and probably mine, too. Carlisle is safe, she'll just be more compassionate than before. But Jacob...

Bull's eye, Dad, I thought, shivering harder than before. I wasn't imagining the heat in my spine now. I hadn't much time left. I wanted to dissolve into tears, but that would have to wait. I wasn't safe for them.

"I... I can read your minds," I told them with a faint voice. "I took Dad's gift, too. I think the vampire who bit me could copy every talent with a touch. But..."

I shook harder than ever, my sight blurry with unshed tears. Jake's thoughts were the loudest in my ears, and he was panicking big-time. But I searched for my father. He would do all he could to protect me and my family, like he always did. I saw him move, restraining Jacob right before he could run to me, and shouted "You'll be okay, Nessie! Just stay focused on who you are!"

And then I changed. The heat engulfed me, my arms and legs rocking with spasms, and I felt myself swelling, my face changing, my nose and mouth elongating, thick fur covering every inch of my skin in a quarter of a second. I grew claws, long teeth, a tail, and fell forward on my arms – no, front legs now, I guessed. My clothes exploded before I could touch the floor, and I stood on all four, towering over my baffled family at more than eight feet high. But I could feel something else, growing inside me, a conflicted instinct. I wanted to attack them, and defend them at the same time. Half-vampire, and now half-werewolf. An anomaly. Something which shouldn't exist.

Terrified of the animal instinct in me, I leaped back, away from my loved ones. I crashed into Edward's grand piano, destroying it in teeny bits, and wheeled around, looking for an exit. But again, my father was ahead of me. He ran towards the large bay doors and smashed his way through, ripping every piece of broken glass away from the wooden frame in a blurred motion, allowing me to run through without hurting myself. And I bounded.

In a single leap I was out, and he jumped out of my way onto the porch of the house. I wanted to thank him, but I didn't know how to lift my new mental shield yet. I would have to work on it, but right now I had a much bigger problem. Namely me. I had to calm down enough to phase back, but I was still overwhelmed by all that had happened. Behind me I heard my father, back into the living room, arguing with Jake.

"No, you can't do this, Jacob! She needs time, and your presence won't help her! She's panicked! You'd make things worse by phasing now."

"Edward, I have to go! I have to protect her! I can help her!"

I jumped over the river and was running in the deep forest, only half-listening now, when another wolf emerged from the underbushes, much smaller than me, eyes wary. Leah. The very one person in a fifty-mile radius who couldn't stand me. And now I was a wolf, just like her. My day was just getting better and better.

Nessie? she thought in alarm. She's a werewolf now? How? Why?

No time for that, I complained in my head. I'd rather have some help.

Well, you just have to ask, she said after a few astonished seconds, taking off after me.

That made me stop dead on my tracks. Wait! You can hear me, Leah?

Of course I can hear you, she sneered, every bit as unpleasant as usual. You're a wolf, duh! And so am I.

But... My father can't read my mind anymore! I thought, astonished.

Well, this leech thing doesn't work the same as wolves' minds, it seems. Do you belong in Jake's pack?

Jake's pack? I don't know. I guess... not.

Jake had told me all about the packs' things, and he and Sam being Alphas. But I didn't belong in any pack, not even Jake's one. I wasn't a true werewolf, just a copy of one. And as soon as I realized it, I stopped hearing Leah's thoughts in the same way. I still heard her mental voice, puzzled now, and her current thought, but I couldn't see everything in her mind like a second before. She studied me and whined softly, more concerned than I would've thought, and then her form shimmered. She phased back, and stood naked ten feet away from me.

"I can't hear you anymore," she explained with a grim face. "You've become an Alpha, one without a pack. Maybe you'll be able to talk to Jake, but he hasn't phased yet. Now..."

She sighed and eyed me with a hostile expression. She hadn't gotten around being close to vampires, and I huffed in annoyance. If I could've chosen any member of Jake's pack to help me with this wolf mess, I would've chosen anyone except Leah. But Quil and Embry were in college, and Seth was enjoying his holidays in La Push. How lucky I was.

"Since I'm the one who has the displeasure to have to babysit you for now," she went on, "I'll explain what you have to do."

I growled a little, not happy with the situation either. Did she think that I enjoyed myself right now? She ignored me.

"Phasing for the first time is distressing. You find yourself in a huge body, an animal body with animal instincts, and strange thoughts. Nothing is right. First, you have to focus. Try and relax, lie on the ground, and focus on your human thoughts."

I heard the skepticism in her voice when she said 'human thoughts', but I let it go. Leah wasn't my friend, but she was still trying to help me right now. So I listened to her. I made my strange new body sink to the ground, under a large yew tree, and focused. I'm a half-vampire. I'm almost eighteen in human years. I love Jake. I love my parents. I love my family. I'll go to college with Jake in a few months. I'll get him to kiss me sooner rather than later. I love him so much.

I felt myself shrink a little, and my animal instinct disappeared. I was Renesmee Cullen, daughter of Edward and Bella Cullen, and I was much more than a wolf. The air around me wavered, and I felt myself becoming smaller, a human form again. I opened my eyes with Leah's grudging voice, impressed in spite of herself.

"Not bad for a first-timer. I must say, I prefer you in your usual form. Your silver fur kind of hurt my eyes."

"I had silver fur?" I asked, surprised.

"Glittering one. If you want to run unnoticed, forget it completely. You're more conspicuous than a dinosaur in a horse paddock."

"Well, I'm not supposed to turn into a wolf," I said, my temper rising a little.

"Yes, about that," she said with anger, "how come you're one of us, now? How is it even possible?"

"A vampire bit me a few moments ago," I explained, suddenly weary. "My Mom sucked the venom out, but apparently I gained a new talent. Now I can copy the gift of somebody who touches me. I'm a mental shield and a mind reader now, and a werewolf since Jake touched me."

I concentrated on Leah's thoughts, and of course I could read them just fine. I wasn't paying attention before, so at least I knew how to tune this gift out, but I wished I stayed out of her head. She was engrossed, revolted, angry, distrustful, and... jealous?

"Why are you jealous of me?" I asked before I could stop myself.

She insulted me in a dozen ways in her head before saying out loud "I don't have to answer you, bloodsucker!"

Her raging fury fueled my own anger, and I changed again. This time, I had to really concentrate to stop myself from biting her head off. I had thought she was just hostile, that she detested me like every vampire, but this jealousy... It had something to do with Jake. Not because she loved him, far from it. But because he was with me. She thought of my appearance then, and I whined loudly, my anger dissolving abruptly. I was a wolf freak. She was right, I was glittering silver. Literally sparkling under the light of the shining sun.

"Yeah," she said, a nasty smile on her lips, "you're a real piece of work."

I growled at her, but only for a short second. She was so right. My head dipped down, and I felt tears the size of golf balls rolling down my eyes. I was so confused, so lost! Dimly I heard her astonishment, then her struggle as she thought about what to say, and in the end she just sighed.

"I'm not good at this. I know how to snap at somebody, be curt and unpleasant. I don't know how to be gentle and kind. And I don't think you expect me to suddenly become your pal."

She paused, remembering a better time for her, when she wasn't unpleasant, before she became a werewolf. Before the madness, before... when she was still Sam's girlfriend. And then I gasped, drowning in her pain. It was still so strong! Her eyes narrowed, but she couldn't stop her suffering easily. I could tell she didn't want my pity. But I only felt bad for her. Really bad. I cried some more. I never would've thought I could shed a tear for Leah. Carlisle's compassion, no doubt. Another unwanted gift. What was left of me, now?

With another sigh, Leah phased, and stayed still, ears perked up. She didn't move an inch, then phased back.

"Jacob is worrying. I told him you're an Alpha, so he's going to try to talk to you. You only have to think of him, call him in your head, and you'll hear what he wants to tell you. I'll phase now, and when you're ready we'll run to the Cullen house. You'll be better with your family."

I didn't think so, but I didn't show it. I felt grateful that she was here with me, and I sighed internally for what was coming. Then I thought of the love of my life.


Nessie? His voice reached me as if he were standing next to me, but he was ten miles away. He was tense and worried, of course, but I felt better hearing his mental voice. He cared so much for me. Are you okay?

I'm okay, physically at least, except if you think that transforming into a very big and furry disco ball can be counted as okay.

You're the most beautiful wolf that I've ever seen, he said unexpectedly, then grunted.

Jake? Something's wrong?

No, no, he sighed internally. I just forgot that Edward could listen to us. I think he's going to rip my throat out if I don't focus.

I barked softly, a wolf laugh. Leah rolled her eyes.

Nessie, have you phased back yet?

Yes, but I changed again when Leah pissed me off. She helped me, though.

Yes, quite an achievement, there, you getting her to help. You really are talented. Listen, come back and we'll just...

A faint noise alerted me, and Leah's head and mine snapped toward the eastern woods. I focused, and I heard thoughts approaching fast. Don't know why Aro bothers so much! If she's just a half-vampire, then why want to kill her? She's no threat. And her weak-minded mellow family is no threat either. I really can't figure out why he's suddenly so interested in those half-breeds. It's not as if there's a lot of them...

The vampire running in my direction wanted to kill me. After their failure nearly seven years ago, it seemed that the Volturi had finally decided to get their revenge.