It was a quiet afternoon at the Cullen house. Everyone was off doing their own mid-afternoon activity, and Rosalie had Renesmee. They were in the garage, as the girl had claimed an interest in learning about cars. Rosalie had agreed heartily but found that after an hour that Renesmee was off in her own world.
"Auntie Rose? Last night, Daddy read me a book about a little boy who had role models. When I asked Daddy about them, he told me to ask you today. So what's a role model?"
Rosalie came out from under the car she was cleaning and looked her niece over. Innocent curiosity shone on the girl's face, and Rosalie thought for a moment before answering.
“A role model is someone you admire and look up to. You must find good people to look up to. People with traits you aspire to have or to deepen your understanding of, such as empathy, loyalty, determination. You must watch what they do and follow in their footsteps as you grow, but you must not follow them forever. Eventually, once you have learned all you can from them, you must begin carving your own path.”
The girl was quiet for several moments, enough so that Rosalie eyed her in concern. Renesmee seemed to be in deep thought. Rosalie went back under her vehicle and looked over the bottom of the car, wiping grease away with an already greasy cloth before Renesmee spoke again.
“Auntie Rose? I know who I want to look up to.”
“Oh?” Rosalie came out from under the car to be able to look her niece in the eyes.
Renesmee placed her hand on her cheek despite the car grease and Rosalie watched.
Rosalie, standing at home plate, swinging her bat around, determination flitting across her face.
Rosalie, stubbornness evident in her posture when she protects Renesmee after Jacob won’t take no for an answer.
Rosalie fixing up everyone’s vehicles and taking pride in her work, quietly reveling in the praise and thanks of the others.
Rosalie, on the front lines of their encounter with the Volturi, willing to risk her life for her family.
Rosalie and Emmett on the couch flipping through dozens of television channels, watching none of them, too content in each other’s arms.
Rosalie, absorbed in her work until Renesmee walks in because there’s always a moment that can be set aside especially for her.
Rosalie, Rosalie, Rosalie.
The answer was simple.
And when Rosalie came back from the visions, the answer was evident in the child’s eyes: You.
(Rosalie's heart sang.)
“Auntie, why must I know all of these languages? Papa Carlisle told me that we rarely go anywhere but America and Momma told me that everyone here speaks English.” Renesmee looked up from the Spanish verb book she was reading and curled her lips into a pout.
Rosalie disagreed, they had been to many more different places as times they'd been in America. She shook her head at Bella’s ignorance and bit her tongue. Renesmee was still growing, and so every word that comes out of anyone’s mouth was taken for gospel. It was not Rosalie’s place to estrange her from her mother due to the woman's lack of worldly experience, but it was her place to chase prejudice out of the girl’s mind before it rooted in her heart.
"First, you're going to wipe that expression from your face. Sulking doesn't befit you." Rosalie waited until the girl had done as asked. “Second, all of the people who live in America come from dozens of other places around the world, love. France, Italy, Djibouti, Kuwait, Iran, Japan, Uganda. Everywhere in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia. Not everyone in every place speaks English." Rosalie said plainly. "How would you feel if you went to a new place and no one spoke your language but they expected you to learn theirs?”
“Well, that wouldn't be fair.”
“But that’s what you’re implying, sweet.”
“Oh.” Renesmee thumbed through her book, embarrassment blushing her cheeks.
“We have an advantage in this life, with the ability to read or hear something and recite it back perfectly. Don’t you think that we should use it to make people feel heard and understood and welcome?”
“Yes, of course.”
In a reversal of roles, Rosalie gently placed her hand on Renesmee's cheek to make her look up at her. "That's my girl."
“But Auntie, why must the pressure of being perfect rest on us? Why should we be the only ones to make others feel seen?”
A fair and good point. “The world isn’t entirely fair. We are-” Rosalie stopped herself from using the word cursed - “blessed with the ability to remember. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about bringing the world closer together one language at a time. Besides, wouldn’t you be horribly embarrassed if we were to make a trip to, say, Spain, and you didn’t know the language?”
Renesmee’s eyes lit up.
“We’re going to Spain?”
“A special trip with only your uncles and your aunts. Alice has everything arranged for next week. That’s when she says you’ll have European Spanish memorized. Do you think you can do it?”
“You’ll never catch me betting against Aunt Alice.”
“Quite right. Now, about those verbs…”
The week after, Rosalie, Renesmee, Alice, Jasper, and Emmett strolled down the streets of Madrid, and Renesmee started up a conversation in fluent Spanish with any passerby willing. She told them she was just visiting, and all of them asked if Spanish was her first language. She shook her head no, and they complimented her on her language and some even bought her a souvenir. Renesmee had never felt more welcome anywhere except home. Rosalie got a comment from one woman who bought Renesmee an ice cream cone. "Your daughter is lovely."
(And Rosalie's heart ached.)
"People are cruel, Renesmee," Rosalie announced.
It was the middle of one of the days where the aunts had full control of Renesmee’s wardrobe and Renesmee herself was happy to indulge them by showing off what they threw at her and giving her opinions on whatever clothes they found online.
Alice scoffed. "Since when do you care about the opinions of humans, Rosalie?"
Then she was called out of the room by Jasper and Rosalie turned to her niece to explain her statement.
"What I mean, Renesmee, is that people are jealous of us. Their emotions hardly affect us -"
"Except for Uncle Jasper."
"Yes, except him. Don’t interrupt me, please." Rosalie stated. "As I was saying, their emotions hardly affect us, but when they realize that, they start with the words, and we hear those. That nursery rhyme, the one that goes, 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me'? That's bull. None of this means that they are inherently cruel people, it means they are allowing their jealousy to control them. According to Jasper, most of them feel remorse after speaking ill of one of us. However -"
Rosalie tugged a pair of jeans off of the top of the wardrobe and tossed them to Renesmee, who caught them effortlessly
"-We cannot allow them to know that they are hurting us, because that only gives them an incentive to do it more. Jealousy makes people do horrible things, sweet, and they will do whatever they can to bring someone better than them down to their level, as low as it may be. So to counter that, on a material level at least -"
Rosalie dug around in a couple of drawers before finding what she was looking for. The next moment, a green sweater was in Renesmee‘s face and she giggled.
Rosalie allowed herself a small smile and continued.
"On the material level, at least, you need to look your best while also being comfortable. It’s easy to look your best while being dressed to the nines like your aunt, but that’s what she’s comfortable in. However, you, like your mom, seem to be more comfortable in simpler things. So. Jeans, a nice sweater, and a scarf with some nice shoes and accessories. And then, even if people are jealous and saying cruel things, you can feel at least comfortable in your own skin."
"So what you’re saying is…"
Renesmee’s lips held a quiver of mischievousness in them and Rosalie dreaded the next words to come out of her mouth.
"I need to make sure that I’m being be - you - tiful."
The girl smiled, proud of the awful pun, and Rosalie sighed, raising an eyebrow in great good humour.
"You’ve been spending far too much time with Emmett."
"There’s never such a thing as too much time with Emmett!" His voice carried through the house.
Speak of the devil. Rosalie’s husband entered the room and swung their niece around while she laughed. When he put her down, she placed her hand on his cheek, likely showing him the pun, and he gave a booming laugh, high fiving Renesmee while he looked up at Rosalie with delighted eyes. She smiled back.
(Jealousy flickered in her heart before she tamped it out.)
"Auntie Rose? How did you become a vampire?"
Rosalie looked down at the face of her niece and felt her heart break at the innocent question that sent her emotions swirling. But Renesmee was older now, and if she was able to ask such questions, she was able to hear the answers, even if such answers were watered down.
"That’s a long and complicated and sad story, love. Are you sure you want to hear it?"
"What kind of sad?"
"The kind of sad that’s not supposed to have a happy ending."
The kind of sad that leads to years of hatred and mistrust. The kind of sad that makes one want to die.
"Auntie Rose? Are you okay?"
Rosalie realized she’d been drifting, and Renesmee’s hand was on her cheek, showing her concerns.
"I'm alright, Ren."
"You don’t have to tell me the story if it makes your heart hurt, Auntie. I don’t want you to be sad."
"Everyone’s heart hurts, sweet. That’s part of being alive. Would you like to hear the story?"
"Are you going to be sad?"
"Probably. It’s okay. Remember, this story has a happy ending."
Renesmee contemplated that for a moment before agreeing to hear the story.
"I was very beautiful as a human, and my family was wealthy. Do you remember reading about the Great Depression?"
"That's when I was alive, so having lots of money was a rarity. It was well known that rich married rich, to keep the money within the families."
"That's pretty selfish."
"I agree, sweet. But that's the way things were." Rosalie pulled Renesmee closer. "I was engaged to a man called... well, actually his name isn't important. I thought we would get married and have lots of pretty babies together, and I could fulfill my duties in life as a mother and housewife. Then one evening he... forced me to do something I didn't want to do, and when I said no, he hurt me. He and lots of his friends hurt me and left me to die on the street. That's when your Papa Carlisle found me and turned me into a vampire."
Renesmee placed her hand on Rosalie's cheek. When he turned you, were you okay again?
"I wasn't okay for a long time, Ren. The kind of hurt that the man did to me isn't the kind you can put a bandage on and heal from. The lesson here, sweet, is to never sell your soul to a man, especially if they offer you a world that isn't theirs to give. I was very angry and very mistrustful for many years after I was turned."
Are you still angry and mistrustful?
"Sometimes the memories come back and I get very angry, but Uncle Emmett is here now to help me."
Uncle Emmett is the best, but sometimes Uncle Jasper helps me feel better. Does Uncle Jasper help you?
"If it gets too bad, occasionally Jasper will step in and get me to a point where I can sort out my emotions again, but he never numbs me to my pain. He understands that it's something I have to feel if I'm ever going to heal from it."
I don't ever want to get hurt like you did.
Flashes of people getting hurt went through Rosalie's mind from Renesemee's and Rosalie wanted to cry n relief that the girl didn't understand what she was talking about. Let her keep that bit of innocence for now. There's all the time in the world to know. Literally. Instead of crying, Rosalie pulled her niece closer and kissed her forehead.
"You have a family of vampires with superhuman abilities. If I have anything to say about it, and I do, nothing like what happened to me will happen to you."
Renesmee took her hand off Rosalie's cheek and snuggled in. "Okay, Auntie Rose."
(A protectiveness made itself known, the same protectiveness that had risen in her the moment she'd first seen Renesmee.)
"Rosalie! Take Nessie and line these up the driveway please!" Alice threw a pile of decorations at the two of them and Renesmee laughed as she was showered with streamers.
"Okay, Alice." Rosalie dodged all the decorations as to not mess up her hair, and when they were all on a pile on the floor surrounding a giggling Renesmee, she picked them up, her niece included.
"Auntie Rose!" Renesmee laughed even harder and Rosalie let out a soft laugh of her own at seeing her niece so happy.
When they were at the driveway, Rosalie put her down carefully, as to not let the decorations fall. Rosalie instructed Renesmee as to what to do and they started on different sides of the driveway. They were just about done decorating when a motorcycle pulled up, bringing the scent of the dog with it. Rosalie scowled as he stopped by Renesmee.
"What're you doing out here?" Jacob Black asked the girl. She placed her palm on his cheek. He softened under her touch and nodded along and when she took her hand off him, he wrapped her in a hug. "I missed you."
"Jacob, do you want to help me?"
"Actually, Renesmee, it's almost time for the party to start. Why don't you go get your pretty dress on? I'll finish up out here."
"I bet you'll look very grown up in your dress." Jacob smiled at her, and Rosalie felt herself run cold at his words.
"I'll show you! Momma! I'd like to put my dress on now!" Renesmee called, running inside.
The moment the girl was out of earshot, Rosalie was in front of Jacob, anger coursing through her veins.
"What the hell, dog? She'll look 'very grown-up'? She's barely four."
"She has the mentality of and looks like a twelve-year-old."
"She is a child." Rosalie rumbled. "Not a teenager, not an adult. A child. You are not to talk to her that way."
"You're not her parent."
"No, because if I was, you'd've been out on your ass years ago."
"I'm telling her she'll look nice. What's wrong with that?"
"The way you said it, Jacob. Telling her she'll look grown-up. What she wears does not give you a right or a reason to lust over a child."
"I'm not her lover until she tells me she wants that. And she will want me, one day."
"I will not refuse her what she wants, but it has to be her choice. Not a choice that is 'predestined'."
"She will choose me," Jacob gloated, a half-smirk playing on his face.
"I don't believe you," Rosalie stated.
"Believe what you want, bloodsucker." Then he went inside, calling for Renesmee.
"She will make her own choice, dog."
(Rosalie would not allow anyone to think they had a claim on her niece before she was old enough to know what she wanted.)
Rosalie was driving them home from what had turned into a full day of shopping in Seattle. Renesmee was tucked up in the back, blanket over her legs and headphones in as she flicked through the pre-downloaded music on her iPod. Every time Rosalie looked back to check on her, the girl looked sleepier and sleepier.
"You can go to sleep, Ren. It’s okay."
Renesmee looked up and nodded sleepily, pulling out her headphones and laying her head back to sleep. It was quiet in the car for a while, but Rosalie could hear her heartbeat and breathing, and they were not yet even. She focused on driving, certain that if the girl had something she wanted to talk about, she'd say it in her own time.
"I think you’d make a great mom."
Rosalie’s heart simultaneously swelled and shattered.
"Thank you, Renesmee."
"Goodnight. I love you, Auntie."
"I love you too, sweet."
(She couldn't be a mother, so she'd settle for being the best aunt she could be.)