Carlisle secured another piece of the brace to Seth's arm, and Seth winced.

"Sorry, sorry!" I mumbled, knowing I'd never get a fully articulated apology out.

"Don't freak, Bella," Seth said, patting my knee with his good hand while Edward rubbed my arm from the other side.

Seth seemed to feel no aversion to having me sit beside him on the sofa as Carlisle treated him. "I'll be back to normal in half an hour," he continued, still patting my knee as if oblivious to the cold, hard texture of it. "Anyone would have done the same, what with Jake and Ness - " He broke off mid-word and changed the subject quickly. "I mean, at least you didn't bite me or anything. That would've sucked."

I buried my face in my hands and shuddered at the thought, at the very real possibility. It could have happened so easily. And werewolves didn't react to vampire venom the same way humans did, they'd told me only now. It was poison to them.

"I'm a bad person."

"Of course you aren't. I should have - ," Edward started.

"Stop that," I sighed. I didn't want him taking the blame for this the way he always took everything on himself.

"Lucky thing Ness - Renesmee's not venomous," Seth said after a second of awkward silence. '"Cause she bites Jake all the time."

My hands dropped. "She does?"

"Sure. Whenever he and Rose don't get dinner in her mouth fast enough. Rose thinks it's pretty hilarious."

I stared at him, shocked, and also feeling guilty, because I had to admit that this pleased me a teensy bit in a petulant way.

Of course, I already knew that Renesmee wasn't venomous. I was the first person she'd bitten. I didn't make this observation aloud, as I was feigning memory loss on those recent events.

"Well, Seth," Carlisle said, straightening up and stepping away from us. "I think that's as much as I can do. Try to not move for, oh, a few hours, I guess." Carlisle chuckled. "I wish treating humans were this instantaneously gratifying." He rested his hand for a moment on Seth's black hair. "Stay still," he ordered, and then he disappeared upstairs. I heard his office door close, and I wondered if they'd already removed the evidence of my time there.

"I can probably manage sitting still for a while," Seth agreed after Carlisle was already gone, and then he yawned hugely. Carefully, making sure not to tweak his shoulder, Seth leaned his head against the sofa's back and closed his eyes. Seconds later, his mouth fell slack.

I frowned at his peaceful face for another minute. Like Jacob, Seth seemed to have the gift of falling asleep at will. Knowing I wouldn't be able to apologize again for a while, I got up; the motion didn't jostle the couch in the slightest. Everything physical was so easy. But the rest...

Edward followed me to the back windows and took my hand.

Leah was pacing along the river, stopping every now and then to look at the house. It was easy to tell when she was looking for her brother and when she was looking for me. She alternated between anxious glances and murderous glares.

I could hear Jacob and Rosalie outside on the front steps bickering quietly over whose turn it was to feed Renesmee. Their relationship was as antagonistic as ever; the only thing they agreed on now was that I should be kept away from my baby until I was one hundred percent recovered from my temper tantrum. Edward had disputed

their verdict, but I'd let it go. I wanted to be sure, too. I was worried, though, that my one hundred percent sure and their one hundred percent sure might be very different things.

Other than their squabbling, Seth's slow breathing, and Leah's annoyed panting, it was very quiet. Emmett, Alice, and Esme were hunting. Jasper had stayed behind to watch me. He stood unobtrusively behind the newel post now, trying not to be obnoxious about it.

I took advantage of the calm to think of all the things Edward and Seth had told me while Carlisle splinted Seth's arm. I'd missed a whole lot while I was burning, and this was the first real chance to catch up.

The main thing was the end of the feud with Sam's pack - which was why the others felt safe to come and go as they pleased again. The truce was stronger than ever. Or more binding, depending on your viewpoint, I imagined.

Binding, because the most absolute of all the pack's laws was that no wolf ever kill the object of another wolfs imprinting. The pain of such a thing would be intolerable for the whole pack. The fault, whether intended or accidental, could not be forgiven; the wolves involved would fight to the death - there was no other option. It had happened long ago, Seth told me, but only accidentally. No wolf would ever intentionally destroy a brother that way.

So Renesmee was untouchable because of the way Jacob now felt about her. I tried to concentrate on the relief of this fact rather than the chagrin, but it wasn't easy. My mind had enough room to feel both emotions intensely at the same time.

And Sam couldn't get mad about my transformation, either, because Jacob - speaking as the rightful Alpha - had allowed it. It rankled to realize over and over again how much I owed Jacob when I just wanted to be mad at him.

I deliberately redirected my thoughts in order to control my emotions. I considered another interesting phenomenon; though the silence between the separate packs continued, Jacob and Sam had discovered that Alphas could speak to each other while in their wolf form. It wasn't the same as before; they couldn't hear every thought the way they had prior to the split. It was more like speaking aloud, Seth had said. Sam could only hear the thoughts Jacob wanted to share, and vice versa. They found they could communicate over distance, too, now that they were talking to each other again.

They hadn't found all this out until Jacob had gone alone - over Seth's and Leah's objections - to explain to Sam about Renesmee; it was the only time he'd left Renesmee since first laying eyes on her.

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