|Reflections on History
Author: SleepySheep683 PM
Why does Rosalie hate Jacob so much? Watching him and Bella at the Cullens' graduation party, Rosalie is forced to confront her past dealings with the Quileute tribe back in the 1930s, and the time she spent with Jacob's great-grandfather, Ephraim Black.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Rosalie & Ephraim - Words: 13,660 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 94 - Follows: 6 - Published: 06-27-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6089851
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Characters: Rosalie, Jacob, Bella, Quil, Embry, Cullens (2000s)/ Rosalie, Ephraim, Cullens, Pack (1930s)
Pairing(s): Jacob/Bella/Edward, Rosalie/Ephraim
Disclaimer: Characters, world etc. does not belong to me- I am merely playing in the sandbox.
Summary: Why does Rosalie hate Jacob so much? Watching him and Bella at the Cullens' graduation party, Rosalie is forced to confront her past dealings with the Quileute tribe back in the nineteen thirties, and the time she spent with Jacob's great-grandfather, Ephraim Black.
Thank Yous: Thanks v much to my betas for this story; Zombie's Run This Town and jmeyer.
Endorsements: This story won 3rd place in the 'BlackPack Quileute Legends' competition: www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/u/2350843/BlackPacks_Quileute_Challenge
But I would like some reviews over here, please *wibbles bottom lip in attempt to be cute. Probably fails*
Reflections on History
By anyone's standards, Rosalie Hale loved a party. She loved dressing up, she loved the attention and she loved parading around Forks High School with Emmett while their peers, mere children, watched with rapture and envy.
This party, however, Rosalie had suddenly found rather unpleasant, and it had everything to do with him.
She watched from the kitchen, ignoring the appreciative glances of the young boys who took in her exquisite periwinkle dress, matching heels, long blonde hair and all of those other trappings that pleased them so. Normally Rosalie would be smirking cruelly, or giving them that icy stare. Her trademark glare informed them that, under no circumstances, did they stand a chance, for she was so far out of their league she might as well be in the World Series while they were milling about in the local Little Leagues.
Right now, she was unable to tear her eyes away from Jacob Black standing in the hallway, proud and arrogant, while Bella berated him rather ineffectually.
"You invited me, Bella," he said with a smirk.
"You were uninvited when I punched you in the face," Bella retorted hotly.
Two other boys were standing by, clearly Native American, clearly Jacob's friends. They were glancing at each other knowingly, grinning every time Bella looked particularly frustrated.
Rosalie couldn't help but do the same.
Nineteen thirty-three had been quite a year for Rosalie, and she tried not to think about it. Instead, she concentrated on the musty animal scent in the air, permeating through the dense forest, ignoring the other, far more enticing smells.
"Focus, Rosalie. This place is ideal for hunting. I'd rather not move so quickly again," Edward insisted, his voice almost acidic.
"Might I remind you, Edward, that out of two of us, I know of only one who has partaken of human blood," Rosalie snapped back furiously. This silenced Edward, and Rosalie allowed herself a satisfied smile at his sullen expression.
"Oh, Edward. I'm so sorry." Esme appeared positively guilt-ridden.
Carlisle squeezed her arm comfortingly. "There, there, my sweet. It was one slip. It could have happened to any one of us…"
"Apparently not," Edward drawled. "Rosalie seems to think we are merely weak…"
Esme promptly burst into dry sobs. Rosalie glared at Edward, who at least had the good grace to look remorseful.
"Was that really necessary, Edward?" Rosalie snapped.
"Oh, because you're the epitome of human compassion?" he retorted. His expression a moment later suggested he deeply regretted his outburst. "Rosalie…"
"Leave me alone," she whispered coldly before storming off through the forest.
She followed the scent, concentrating on her feet lightly padding upon the grass and stone as she ran, chasing her quarry. It smelled like Mountain Lion, which wasn't her preferred choice of predator, but knowing it would irritate Edward, she pursued it relentlessly.
Suddenly, a new smell flooded her nostrils, warm and irresistible. She tried so very hard to stop breathing, but after that initial catch, she simply couldn't. Instead, she followed the smell. Someone was bleeding, and bleeding profusely.
The scent took her along a river, down through some trees, and into a clearing, where she heard the cry of a small baby. Her heart seemed to clench with the noise.
"Where are you, little one?" she sang. "Are you hurt?"
The crying got louder as she traversed the meadow; the sound seemed to have a greater pull than the fresh blood filling her nostrils, singing to her very guts. As she reached the edge of the meadow, she saw the baby nestled amongst the grass and bluebells, its cheeks pink from bawling.
"Hush, darling," Rosalie soothed, picking up the child and cradling it in her arms as it squealed more loudly in distress.
"I won't hurt you, little one," she promised, gently rocking the baby. She glanced down at its swaddling, the delicate swarthy skin, the tufty black hair, the big brown eyes that looked so afraid.
Girl. It was a baby girl. Rosalie just knew.
"Don't be afraid, sweetheart," she urged, but this seemed to do nothing to placate the child. Rosalie wondered, in that moment, how it was possible for a cold, dead heart like hers to break so utterly.
A rustle of twigs alerted her, and she looked up to see a tall, pale figure with slicked back brown hair and bright red eyes.
"That's my dessert," he hissed, his blue soldier's uniform dulled with dirt and mud. The boots had almost worn away completely. In his cruel grip, he held a tall, russet-skinned woman, her complexion flawless, her dark brown eyes dull and tired, blood pouring down the skins she wore from a bite on her neck.
Rosalie held her breath. "No!" she managed to splutter out, holding the baby tightly to her chest.
The woman reached out weakly and gritted words through her teeth that Rosalie could not understand.
"No, you can't have her!" Rosalie insisted to the vampire in front of her.
He snarled. "If you want food, you can find your own. Lazy whore," he replied, before turning his attention to the bloody woman, apparently ignoring Rosalie completely.
The words stung her.
Suddenly, the woman parted her dry lips and laughed.
"Silence, savage!" the vampire soldier snarled, ducking his lips closer to her neck just as the woman said something in that language foreign to Rosalie's ears, although she absently wondered what animal could be making the loud growling that suddenly assaulted her ears. It sounded like nothing she had ever heard before.
"My brothers find you, Cold One," she said brokenly before passing out.
A rustle of leaves, and Rosalie saw a large blur of russet and brown fly at the vampire, a flash of white teeth clamp around its head before ripping the head clean from its body.
It was like no wolf Rosalie had seen before. It stood easily twice her height, and every flank and haunch rippled with muscle and aggression. Yet the wolf appeared restrained, noble almost. It tore through the other extremities of the vampire before it could run with a practised, clinical ease. As the pieces tried to crawl back together again, Rosalie heard war cries coming nearer and nearer, each swiftly replaced by that same menacing growl before more wolves joined them, all differing colours and heights.
The russet-brown wolf wagged its tail against a tree and felled it instantly. Then, it pawed at a nearby stone with its granite-like claws, causing sparks to fly and hit the fallen tree, fire spreading easily through the bark. The other wolves, bits of vampire soldier in their mouths, tossed the pieces onto the fire. Rosalie shivered as he burned.
The same wolf looked up at her, and that's when she realised what was so different about these wolves.
Their eyes were unmistakeably human.
"He's done nothing wrong," Bella was insisting, jabbing the index finger of her good hand at Jacob's chest, the boy unflinching.
"He left you, Bella," he hissed.
"He came back!" Bella retorted.
"Exactly! You were doing fine! Now look at you," he said sadly.
"What do you mean, 'Now look at me?' I'm happy, at last," she spat back.
"Oh, right. So, taking apart your truck so you couldn't see me was for your own good? Getting his sister to hold you hostage just shows he cares?"
"I would never do that, Bella. You know it."
"Yeah? Well, Edward would never force himself on me, either," Bella snapped back, and Rosalie was taken aback by this.
"Bella, it was just a kiss, and I said I was sorry!" Jacob shook his head. "I didn't even try and slip you the tongue."
"That's not the point!" Bella interrupted just as Esme sauntered into the kitchen, her hands full of empty trays.
"Are you alright, Rosalie?" she asked, her face a picture of concern.
"I'm fine," Rosalie replied. Esme put the trays down on the kitchen table before glancing across at the hallway where Bella and Jacob were still bickering.
"Goodness," she said, pressing her hand to her chest in a display of shock. "He looks just like him, doesn't he?"
"Not quite," Rosalie replied as casually as she could.
Rosalie stood eyeing the wolf before her, not daring to move or take a breath. Its chest rose and fell with each steady breath it took, its nose wrinkled in distaste as though it had smelled something it detested.
Soon the other wolves had circled her, she was trapped. The russet wolf in front of her bared its teeth, and Rosalie clutched the crying baby more tightly.
"Leave her alone!" she stammered, and the russet wolf looked surprised. Rosalie didn't know how a wolf could look surprised, but this one had managed it.
The other wolves stepped towards her, but the russet one stared at them all one by one, and they stopped, backing away slightly but still on the alert, their attention fixed on her. The russet wolf seemed to take a deep breath and in a flash, a man, clearly Native American, stood in his place. He was taller and more muscular than any man she had seen before; his skin was the same colour as that fur, but his black hair was surprisingly short.
He was also unexpectedly naked.
"Hand over the child, Cold One," he ordered in a curious accent Rosalie couldn't quite place.
"Please don't hurt her," Rosalie replied, and the man laughed.
"You would do well not to lecture me on such affairs," he replied, and Rosalie decided perhaps his voice had a soupcon of British in it. She supposed there would be missionaries not too far away from this area.
Reluctantly, Rosalie held out the baby. "You will have to take her," she said, eyeing the dying woman in horror.
"A poor trap, Cold One," the man replied harshly.
"That woman is bleeding… I don't want to attack her!" Rosalie insisted, and the naked man seemed intrigued by this. He gestured towards one of the wolves and spoke in that same language the woman had used, the one Rosalie didn't know. The wolf nodded and too became a man.
"Give the child to him," he ordered, and Rosalie obeyed, averting her eyes from the parts of him she should never have to see. All the while, she felt the other man watch her intently, just as the bleeding woman suddenly stretched out her arm.
"Ephraim," she called, and the man whirled round and knelt before her, whispering in that same language. She said something back to him, and Ephraim looked pained, gently brushing his hand against her wound and over her long black hair, as though she were a child that needed comforting.
"Your kind are worse than vermin," he growled, his eyes blazing as he stared at Rosalie while cradling the weakening woman.
"I didn't even try to bite her," Rosalie insisted. "And you stopped her from being killed…"
"And now she shall be worse," he replied, and Rosalie was struck by how remorseful he appeared.
"Carlisle can save her," Rosalie said before she could stop herself, and Ephraim glared at her.
"Only I can save her from becoming one of you," he replied forcefully.
"Carlisle can suck out the venom," she insisted.
The wolves surrounding her growled, pawed the earth as if to pounce, but Ephraim held out his hand. "Explain," he said.
"I don't think… He hasn't done it before, but it's possible. He can drink enough of the blood so the venom is no longer present, if it's done in time…"
The wolves rippled with rage, but Ephraim looked at them, looked at the woman lying in his arms, and snapped, "Do it."
"Me?" Rosalie squeaked. "I… I don't think I could. I don't have that level of control, but Carlisle…"
"This Carlisle of whom you speak is with the others," Ephraim said. "They are too far away; she will not survive the journey. You must do it."
"The others? What do you know of them? What have you done with them?" Rosalie demanded, but Ephraim silenced her with a single glance from those blazing dark eyes.
"Do not waste time. Do it," he ordered, holding the woman steady in his arms, her neck bared to the cold dusk air.
"I can't control myself!"
"Do it, or I shall rip you to shreds and throw you on a pyre," Ephraim replied before his lips twisted into a cruel smile. "I would think that should be enough of an incentive to control yourself."
The wolves boxed her in, and Rosalie had no choice but to kneel forward, her face inches from the gleaming red of that woman's blood. In an attempt to acclimatise herself, she took a deep breath and smelled the tempting warmth but also something repulsive. Something hot, musky and damp.
Ephraim gripped her neck with his hand, and Rosalie realised the stench was coming from him. "Hurry," he urged, and Rosalie did as she was commanded, pressing her lips to the wound and sucking the tart warm blood, thick with venom.
The woman thrashed wildly, trying to stop her, but Ephraim grabbed her hand and whispered something in that language they shared, which seemed to placate her.
Rosalie continued, the taste becoming more and more exquisite with every mouthful as the venom became less pronounced. Somehow, it appeared to be working, and the irony was perfect. If she succeeded, she couldn't envisage any way she could stop from draining her.
The woman seemed to slip into torpor, relaxing as Rosalie drank and could no longer taste venom, only the kind of blood her very insides knew she should have been feeding on all along.
Ephraim's hand squeezed tightly against her oesophagus, and Rosalie felt her whole throat burn with heat from his skin. "Stop," he ordered, and Rosalie couldn't pull away, feeling more and more like an animal than a person.
"Stop!" he called again, grabbing her chin with his hand and physically wrenching her away. She spun around and snarled at him. In a flash she was knocked clean across the meadow, her body wracked with pain. Clambering to her feet, she saw the russet wolf standing where Ephraim had been, as two other men carried the woman away. She heard a crunching noise as her skin melded itself together again, but looking down at her carefully selected outfit of practical riding pants, she could see huge claw marks ripped through the fabric of the shirt and waistcoat.
The wolf looked almost apologetic.
"Why can't you just try to get along with them?" Bella hissed at an unrepentant Jacob.
"They are our enemy," he snapped back. "They made us like this…"
"Quit whining, Jake," the stockier of his two companions said with a confident laugh. "If this hadn't happened, you wouldn't have been able to total the blood sucker that came after Bella, right?"
"Yeah? Well if this hadn't happened, Bella wouldn't want to…" Jacob trailed off at Bella's anguished expression. The two other boys looked at each other in confusion.
"Bella wouldn't want to what?" the taller of the two asked as Jacob ran a hand through his hair, his expression harsh.
Suddenly, he smiled. "Bella, I'd like to tell you a story."
"Jake, now isn't the time! This is my party; I have other friends to speak to!" Bella made to walk away, but Jacob grabbed her hand.
"You've never cared about them before," he pointed out, and this appeared to cause Bella to stop.
She leaned against the wall and folded her arms. "Fine," she said. "Go ahead. Entertain me."
Jacob leant against the wall opposite her. "I want to tell you the story of Bayak and Pixt'adax…"
"Dude, you can't tell her this stuff!" the taller boy sounded rather annoyed.
"Relax, Embry. I'm only going to give her the gist of it," Jacob replied airily. "See, Bella, Bayak tended to be kind of lazy and greedy. He didn't like to work for things the way everyone else had to. He preferred to just take stuff when he wanted, without bothering to take good care of it when he didn't want it anymore…"
Bella visibly flinched. Rosalie thought that Embry and the stockier boy smothered their laugher with admirable efficiency.
"Anyway, Bayak visited Pixt'adax one day, and Pixt'adax's wife made a big meal for them all with more halibut than they could eat. So, while taking the offered leftovers, Bayak asked Pixt'adax how he had managed to catch so many fish…"
"Jake, this had better be going somewhere!" Bella was beginning to look a little impatient.
Rosalie had heard this story herself, many years ago. She wondered if Jacob would interpret the words in the same way as the teller she remembered.
After trudging through the forest for a short while, Rosalie found herself being ushered into another clearing, this time with more wolves and a bonfire blazing viciously away. To her consternation, Rosalie saw Carlisle, Esme and Edward sitting in front of the fire. She soon realised why; the wolves present were able to surround them, making escape impossible.
A chieftain sat in a large high chair, presiding over the whole scene. He looked at Ephraim and spoke that language once again. Ephraim replied in the same tongue.
"Yes, this is the other," he said, seemingly for her benefit.
"Rosalie! Thank goodness you're alright!" Esme said frantically, just as one of the many wolves growled at her.
"Please, she is only concerned for her safety," Carlisle said in his usual calm voice, as though huge shape shifting wolf men frequently captured him and trapped him in forests. Edward merely watched the scene with interest, saying nothing, but looking deeply frustrated. Rosalie could guess why. Edward relied so much on his telepathy, and she imagined these people didn't speak any of the languages he was familiar with.
Although he seemed just as frustrated with Ephraim, which confused her.
The chieftain said a few more words, and Ephraim nodded. "You say you do not kill or bite the humans?" he asked.
Carlisle nodded. "That is correct. It is what you might call a lifestyle choice on our part," he said, smiling benignly. "Please, we have no quarrel with you or your tribe. We wish only to feed on the animals of the forest and to refrain from drawing attention to ourselves."
Ephraim looked to the chieftain and said reams of flowing words, sounding almost poetic to Rosalie's ears. The chieftain frowned and spoke again.
"Yet the others feast upon humans?" Ephraim asked.
Carlisle nodded. "I'm afraid we cannot control the way they choose to live," Carlisle replied, and Rosalie tried to not smirk at his choice of words. She would hardly call this living.
The chieftain looked distinctly unimpressed and said a few more words. Ephraim looked him in the eye, and spoke a little more passionately, pointing to Rosalie. The chieftain looked stunned for a moment, and gestured for Ephraim to step closer before whispering in his ear.
"Grandfather is potentially interested in resolving this matter without bloodshed. His first request is that you submit to staying under our guard overnight, away from our tribe," Ephraim said before turning to Rosalie. "He also wishes to thank you for saving his eldest daughter."
Rosalie nodded, unable to speak, yet wondering if she had detected a hint of a smile playing across Ephraim's features.
The chieftain spoke again, and this time Ephraim looked angry. He appeared to protest, but lost. With a heavy sigh, he looked at Rosalie and appeared most unimpressed.
"Grandfather wishes for you to stay with me," he replied.
Edward looked angry at this. "Splitting us up was not part of the deal!" he insisted.
Ephraim surveyed him coolly. "You are outnumbered, and thus are not in a position to negotiate," he said evenly. "She will come to no harm, provided I am given no cause to harm her."
With those words, he ushered Rosalie out of the clearing and into the forest.
"…So, Bayak took Pixt'adax's advice about using his son as bait to catch lots of halibut without thinking about what he had been told. Which, you know, is kind of crazy; shoving your own kid on a hook and throwing him to the waves, and not pulling up until you no longer feel him tugging on the end? Anyone else would have told Pixt'adax where to stick it, but Bayak often copied people without thinking, and so assumed because Pixt'adax said it would be cool, that he'd be happy with the end result.
"The one person that loved Bayak the most begged him to see reason, and not to do this stupid thing because he had been told it would be awesome, but Bayak didn't listen, and tied his son to the end of the fishing line along with a big fish hook. He remembered not to pull up the line when he felt it jerk, and only to haul up his catch when the line stilled. Once he pulled the line up, he found no fish on his line, only his drowned son.
"He and the one who loved him the most lost everything that day, all because Bayak wouldn't think about what he was doing…" Jacob let the words hang in the air.
Rosalie had to admit, the kid was good. From the way Bella had visibly bristled, the new meaning Jacob infused the story with had not fallen on deaf ears.
"Well, thanks for the story, Jake," she spat defensively. "Maybe now I can tell you one about a bunch of reported killings in Seattle…"
"Wait, is this about that blood sucker in your room?" Jacob's voice was casual, Bella's was anything but.
"How did you figure that one out?" she asked.
"I'm not an idiot, Bells," Jacob replied blithely. "No matter what your popsicle boyfriend keeps telling you…"
"Edward has said nothing of the sort," Bella retorted.
Jacob smirked and shook his head. "Right, but he tells you I'm dangerous?"
"Jake, I know that isn't true." Bella sounded more sincere than Rosalie had ever known before.
"And, you have to admit, really hypocritical…"
"What? I'm a cuddly puppy dog compared to him."
Bella groaned through her teeth and leant her head against the wall. "Whatever, Jake."
Jacob responded by barking at her before he and his two friends burst into peals of laughter, which Bella fought not to join in with.
"If it's of any comfort, I'm hardly thrilled to be stuck here with you, either," Rosalie retorted as Ephraim sulked his way through the forest, the night air feeling unusually close for the time of year. He said nothing in reply. Rosalie smiled. In a savage way it made her happy to see he was so fed up. She had caught a glimpse of her reflection, seen how her eyes were burgundy red, and felt almost regretful that she had to endure this to save someone's life.
"Surely it will be worth the inconvenience," she said airily. "Tomorrow you will be able to play the hero and win over the lovely chief's daughter…" Before she could stop herself to note that the lovely chief's daughter had been caught with that beautiful baby girl who tugged at her heart strings, Ephraim whirled around and stared at her as though she was crazy.
"She is my sister!" he explained, apparently rather disgusted by the prospect.
"Sorry," Rosalie replied, yet finding herself oddly pleased by this new glimpse of the unguarded Ephraim. "I didn't realise…"
"That was the general idea, Cold One," he replied, his eyes flickering over her face in a way that made Rosalie feel a little uncomfortable.
"Your eyes," he remarked quietly. "They were not that colour before."
"No," Rosalie replied, surprised he had even noticed. "They change if you drink human blood."
"I did wonder," Ephraim mused. "The rest of your coven, their eyes were different, too."
"We prefer the term family," Rosalie ventured, averting her eyes from his. "And yes. I hate the way my eyes look at this moment." She sighed heavily. "I look more like a monster this way."
"I confess, I find it difficult to see you as a monster when you saved my sister and my niece," Ephraim said, and his eyes bored into her, full of genuine gratitude, before he looked away and up to the bright moon.
"Do you have a name?" he asked. "Or should I continue to call you 'Cold One?' Or perhaps 'Yellow Head?'" His expression implied the latter suggestion was not a serious one.
"Rosalie," she replied. "Rosalie Hale."
"Ephraim Black," he replied genially. They looked at each other but did not shake hands. Somehow that seemed an invasion, something they instinctively weren't allowed to do.
Ephraim gestured for her to walk ahead. Hesitating slightly, she did so.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked as she gracefully traversed the hint of a path through the forest, hearing Ephraim's footsteps behind her.
"I have never been a captor before," he replied.
Rosalie managed to laugh at this. "I've never been a captive before," she said before a flash of her human memory hit her, and she recalled that she had, in a way. She stopped dead in the forest, sensing the intense heat emanating from Ephraim. Not to mention the smell.
"Is everything alright?" Ephraim asked, his voice gentle but cold. Rosalie couldn't tell if he was annoyed or concerned.
"I'm fine," she replied, continuing their walk through the forest.
"Your manner suggests otherwise," Ephraim said, watching her in a way that made Rosalie feel a little uncomfortable.
"I need to hunt," she said eventually.
"Of course." With those words, he darted away a little and in a flash of teeth and fur became that russet-brown wolf once more.
"So, you know these forests far more intimately that I do," Rosalie said. "Where shall we go?"
Ephraim woofed and wagged his tail. Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Do you want me to follow you?"
Ephraim nodded his large furry head and took off a little into the woods, before stopping, turning around and barking softly again.
Rosalie couldn't help but smile as she sped off after him.
"It's dangerous, Jake. I don't want you there…"
"Bella, it's what we do!"
"Yeah. We're built for it, man." Now one of Jacob's friends had got involved in the discussion.
"I don't care…"
"I'm going to presume you're not belittling our epic skills, and you're just worried we might scar our handsome faces, for which I'm deeply flattered, Bells." Jacob grabbed Bella's hand in his and kissed it, his eyes not leaving hers.
Rosalie heard her swallow from her position at the kitchen table. "Jake…"
"Bella, I'm not leaving you, okay?" Jacob said, his fingertips trailing along her jaw line, his body in very close proximity to hers.
At that moment, Rosalie was distracted by Edward rushing into the kitchen.
"Have you seen Bella?" he asked frantically.
Rosalie sighed and gestured towards the hallway.
His jaw seemed to clench at the sight. "That dog…" Edward reached for the refrigerator door and yanked it open with considerable force, pulling out bottles of chilled soda and slamming them onto the table in front of Rosalie.
"You might want to let Esme do that," she suggested. "She won't want you to ruin her new table…"
"Shut up, Rosalie," Edward snarled. Rosalie fought back a chuckle as she returned her attention to the couple in the hallway. She supposed couple was a rather apt word.
"Jake, you have to stop this." Bella sounded deeply conflicted.
"Bella, you know I can't…" Jacob was standing closer to her now; his whispers were burying themselves deep within her hair. Bella's eyes were fluttering closed, and Rosalie noticed, not without aversion, that the scent between Bella's thighs was incredibly strong.
The poor girl was delusional if she thought she was just friends with this mutt.
A loud smash caught Rosalie's attention. Edward was staring at her, the remnants of a glass bottle in his hands, his shirt drenched in soda. He glared at Rosalie, and she smirked.
"Well, you'd know all about that, wouldn't you?" he snapped.
As she drained her quarry, a black bear which had proven very vicious, Rosalie did her best to ignore the revulsion on Ephraim's face as he kindled a fire.
"I'm surprised you need the heat," she commented after finishing. "I can feel your body heat almost before I can smell you."
"Charmed, I am sure," Ephraim retorted smoothly. "But it is not for me. It is for the bear you have sucked the blood from for the past ten minutes."
Rosalie must have looked bewildered, for Ephraim continued. "If we are to take from the land, we must not waste its gifts…." He stood up and began erecting some sort of tent structure.
"I don't understand," Rosalie said, and Ephraim held out his hand.
"Are you finished?" he asked.
Rosalie was stunned at his behaviour, until she realised he was gesturing towards the dead bear she held in her grip. "Oh, I see," she replied, dropping the corpse to the floor.
Ephraim effortlessly slung the bear over his shoulder, took a knife that appeared to be stashed under a nearby tree root and flayed the skin from the body. "The fur can be used for clothing, once it is dried. Or it can be sold to the pale faces," he explained, ripping the skin from the flesh. "The meat can be cured and used as bait… Or sold to the pale faces." He smirked as he said this. "The bones can be ground down and used to feed the soil. The claws and teeth can be used for jewellery…"
"And sold to the pale faces?" Rosalie offered with a wry smile.
Ephraim seemed to appreciate this. "I see you understand our inventiveness," he replied archly as Rosalie stalked over to him. Ephraim's body tensed as she drew closer.
"Why exactly was I sent away with you?" she asked. "The others…"
"The others will be separated also," Ephraim replied. "They will each be guarded by three of my brothers…"
"That's a big family," Rosalie commented.
Ephraim laughed at this. "They are not brothers in the way you use the word," he said. "We are not that closely related."
Rosalie nodded. "So, if each member of my family is to be guarded by three of yours, why are you the only one here with me?"
Ephraim raised an eyebrow as he cut the internal organs away from the skeleton of the bear. "I would surmise because either you are not considered a threat, or I am considered more than equal to it."
Rosalie watched Ephraim's muscles flex as he worked and was reminded of the sheer size of his wolf form, the ease with which he dispatched that soldier. There was no way she was planning on testing his theory.
"May I help?" she asked, gesturing towards the carcass. Ephraim shrugged, an action that didn't seem to match his serious, weighty persona.
"Why not?" he replied, handing her some form of knife. "Just scrape off the remnants of flesh with this and hang the pelt over the fire, wet side down."
Rosalie nodded and pulled the pelt into her lap, scraping the knife over it. She continued the action for a while, noticing Ephraim appearing restless every time she looked up.
"What would you be doing, then?" Rosalie asked as she performed her task.
"What would you be doing, if you weren't here playing guard dog to me?"
Ephraim scowled at her.
"Guard wolf," she corrected. He seemed to relax a little at this.
"I would still be babysitting," he said with a smirk. "I would be telling the young ones our stories."
The thought of Ephraim being surrounded by children hanging on his every word made Rosalie feel acutely jealous.
"Sounds nice," she replied as casually as she could.
Ephraim shrugged. "They like the stories. Sometimes, we make stories up between ourselves." He offered Rosalie a shy smile. "I tend not to share this part with the elders, however."
"Go on then," Rosalie said.
"Tell me a story," she encouraged.
Ephraim chuckled and shook his head. "I cannot tell you one of our stories."
"A pale face? Our stories are a sacred part of our culture…"
"But you and the children make up stories," Rosalie argued. "They can't be that sacred."
"Sacred to us," he repeated firmly. "We understand our stories are not to be compared to those passed along the generations."
"So, tell me a made up one," Rosalie pleaded.
Ephraim appeared to consider this. "I shall tell you a real one," he offered. "But it will not be in the correct style. Theme, not content, shall be shared."
Rosalie stopped her work and leant a little towards him, giving her full attention. He watched her for a moment, before staring into the fire as it crackled merrily away.
"I shall tell you a story for children," he said. "Of the Raven and the Eagle. One day, the Eagle and his wife invited the Raven and his wife for a meal. The wife of the Eagle made sumptuous dishes of halibut, and they feasted until their bellies were full. The Raven was curious as to how the Eagle had managed to catch so many fish, and because he hoped to emulate the success of the Eagle, he enquired as to how he made such an impressive catch.
"The Eagle knew of the Raven and his propensity for copying others, so he decided to play a cruel trick on him. Thus, the Eagle told the Raven, 'The secret is my son. I use him for bait. I tie him and a hook to the end of my fishing line, and I ensure I do not raise the line when it is jerked. I wait until the movement stops, and then I pull up my son and my catch. It has never failed me.'
"The wife of the Raven implored him not to follow the advice of the Eagle, but the Raven would not be deterred, trusting the words of the Eagle. So, the next day he followed the instructions to the letter. When he finally pulled up his fishing line, he had no fish and his son was dead." Ephraim turned his attention away from the flames and back onto Rosalie. "This story taught me a valuable lesson."
"That people are cruel and not to trust anybody."
Rosalie tried to make eye contact with Ephraim, but he looked away into the flames once more, as though hypnotised by them. She took up the knife again and worked in silence, feeling Ephraim's anger ebb as he poked at the fire with a stick.
"Scars," she said after a while of flicking wet flesh onto the grass.
"You have scars," she said. "I have tremendous eyesight."
Ephraim nodded. "Everyone has scars," he replied.
"I don't," Rosalie said almost automatically. She knew she should have scars. Plenty of them. Her manner of death should have seen to that.
"We all have scars," Ephraim answered mildly. "But they are not always visible to the eye…"
Despite herself, Rosalie found herself laughing, near hysteria. Ephraim had no idea how true the words he spoke were.
She calmed herself and noticed Ephraim watching her appraisingly, firelight flickering in his dark eyes, the crackle of tinder breaking the silence between them.
"You find my slice of personal philosophy amusing?" Although it was framed as a question, Ephraim's expression suggested he didn't expect an answer. Rosalie glanced away from him and at the slow-burning fire.
"I can only conclude this is for one of two reasons," he continued. "One, you see me as an idiot. Yet, I do not see you as one. Given I take advanced classes in algebra and physics, and I can speak four languages, I shall assume this reason is incorrect. Which leaves reason two."
"That you carry deep scars within your soul," he replied simply.
Rosalie smirked. "You presume I have a soul?"
"For the purposes of this discussion, yes."
Rosalie noted internally that Ephraim's reply neatly side stepped her query.
Effortlessly, she slung the now clean bear skin across the framework Ephraim set up over the fire and sat closer to him. "Tell me about your scars," she said.
Ephraim looked at her, his lips tugged up slightly in a brief, almost imperceptible smile. "You avoid challenging or acquiescing to my hypothesis, so I must be correct," he replied.
Rosalie said nothing and instead trailed a finger delicately over a dull faded scar on his upper arm; the heat felt almost blistering to her fingertip. He flinched away, and she let her hand remain in the air, in the same position she was when she touched him.
"You are so cold," he said but hesitantly moved back towards her, like a beaten animal slowly learning to trust.
"How did you get this?" she asked, tentatively running her finger along the mark.
"At school," he replied. Rosalie smiled gently.
"Oh, so you were a trouble maker at school?"
"I am," Ephraim corrected darkly. "I refused to let the missionaries cut my hair."
His reply stunned Rosalie, but she did her best not to show it. "What about this one?" Rosalie asked, moving her hand across to a more faded mark on his shoulder.
"I refused to say Christian prayers," he said.
Rosalie's fingers trailed to his back where a deeper, more coloured scar wove angrily along one of the contours. "And this one?" she enquired, watching with interest as goose bumps formed on his skin where her cold touch lingered.
His lips twisted into a bitter smile. "That was the last scar I ever received. It was from a priest who beat me because I refused to renounce the legends of my people."
Rosalie wasn't sure what shocked her more; the actions of this priest, or the casual way Ephraim relayed them. "What happened to him?"
"I killed him."
Ephraim's lack of remorse astounded Rosalie. "You… You killed him?"
He shrugged. "The anger, it triggered my transformations. He was too close, beating me with the buckle end of his belt while insisting I was a heretic." He paused, took a deep breath, and looked her straight in the eyes. "He deserved no better."
Rosalie remembered how easily the wolf Ephraim had carved through her body within a split second of his transformation. A human caught in the path of that? His claws would have slid through that priest's guts like a knife through butter.
"I have shared my scars with you," Ephraim said. "Please, return the favour."
She couldn't meet his gaze, not because she was disgusted by his actions, but by her own. She was no better than him; no, she was worse.
At least Ephraim's revenge had been unintentional. And quick.
"Why?" Edward was slumped in a chair next to Rosalie, his head in his hands, his shirt sticking to him and smelling as though he had perspired fruit juice.
She glanced across the hallway and saw Bella still pressed up against Jacob, reluctant to move despite her protestations at the boy.
No wonder he couldn't leave her alone.
"Why, Rosalie?" Edward asked again.
Rosalie sighed. Edward never sought her opinion on things, especially Bella. Why did he have to be so bothersome now?
"Maybe it has something to do with him being the one hanging around comforting her while you went on your pity tour of South America?" she suggested acerbically, hoping it would be enough to make him storm off in a huff.
"I should never have left," he said heavily. "She wouldn't be in danger if I'd stayed."
Rosalie couldn't help but think if Edward hadn't got involved with the silly girl in the first place, Bella would have been perfectly safe.
"You think I don't know that?" Edward sounded anguished.
Rosalie shrugged. If he'd stayed away, Bella certainly wouldn't be in this situation. She'd probably be cuddling up to Jacob Black with no regrets; humans were remarkably adept at coping with change. She'd have been fine.
"I can't help how I feel," she retorted.
"Yeah? Try helping how you think," he spat back.
They sat in silence for a while, broken only by hearing Bella's reluctant giggles as Jacob presumably said or did something amusing. Amusing to her, at least. Rosalie was beginning to wonder if they had a secret code, some sort of language only they understood.
"Was he really that wonderful?" Edward asked suddenly, and Rosalie knew who he was talking about.
"Who?" she lied.
"You know who," he replied.
Rosalie glared at him. "None of your business!"
"Esme's right, though. He does look just like him." Edward didn't seem too impressed by this.
"He's taller," Rosalie said. "But not quite as broad. His lips are fuller; his eyes are smaller. He has a slightly more crooked nose. His teeth are better, but he smells worse. He isn't as scarred."
Ignoring Edward's stunned expression, Rosalie glanced towards the hallway, watching as Bella's hand tentatively snaked up Jacob's chest.
"Not yet," Rosalie thought.
The fire was starting to burn down to a smoulder, and Rosalie had been surprised to find Ephraim did not press her on the matter of her scars. Instead he lay on his back, gazing up at the stars.
"How long have you been this way? A Cold One?" he asked quietly.
"Almost two years," she replied, tracing patterns in the dirt with her finger. "Truth be told, I should be more… more savage than I am now." She paused. "Sorry. I didn't mean…"
Ephraim smirked. "That I am the true savage?" he joked bitterly. "You pale faces do not understand, if you wish to see true savagery; you have only to look in a mirror. And that was before you became a Cold One."
Rosalie said nothing but watched his face, etched with anger. The harsh lines seemed out of kilter on his baby-ish face; the big dark eyes almost swallowing the night sky as they scanned the stars. He pursed his lips, squinting a little as he thought those private thoughts, wrinkling his nose as a cool breeze fluttering through the bristles of his hair. He propped his head up against one of his muscular arms, the other rested loosely at his side; his enormous chest rose and fell as he breathed, every single contour of his torso contrasted more intensely by the dull light of the flickering embers.
Without initially realising, she had decided he was rather attractive.
"Is there any particular reason you are staring at me?" he queried.
"How old are you?" she asked suddenly, convinced she was blushing even though she knew it was impossible. Damn Edward. Now she was beginning to assume everyone knew what she was thinking.
He smiled a crooked smile at her, one laden with meaning, and Rosalie began to wonder if he could read her mind after all.
"Seventeen," he replied. "And you?"
"Eighteen," she said, before halting. "Eighteen before I became… this," she amended.
"Nearly twenty, then?"
He smirked. "I told you I was good at mathematics. I am surprised you did not have a husband…"
"Don't you have a wife?" Rosalie quickly interrupted, not wanting to get involved in that discussion. To her surprise, Ephraim's face darkened.
"No," he replied coldly.
Rosalie found herself lying down next to him, her hand inches from his on the cold ground. "Who was she?" she asked softly. Ephraim raised an eyebrow at her but said nothing.
"I presume she made one of those soul scars you were talking about earlier…"
"Are you always this interfering?" he snapped, turning on his side to face her.
"I'm merely interested," Rosalie replied and to her intense surprise, she realised she genuinely was.
Ephraim rolled onto his back again and looked up at the night sky once again. "Eleanor," he whispered without looking at her. "Ms. Cranleigh. She was a young missionary. Twenty one years old. She taught bible class and English. I loved her…"
"That's one unobtainable woman," Rosalie joked gently but was staggered by Ephraim's response.
"She loved me," he said simply.
Rosalie said nothing and looked at him intently, saw the way his features softened a little at the mere thought of this woman.
How his eyes filled with sadness at the same.
"What was she like?" Rosalie whispered, not wanting to break the sudden mythical quality the whole forest seemed to have taken on, the glow of the dying fire making it appear as though Ephraim was sharing a ghost story.
"She was clever, more so than the male missionaries cared to admit. She was kind," he said. "She was the first person to try and stand up to the priest after my beating. She had little luck; the elders spread a few stories about bear sightings and dumped his body in the forest." He chuckled. "Obviously she was not able to see me until I had phased back to human form. That took me a day or so. My father was unable to get rid of her; she sat on the front step of our tribal hall and refused to leave until she could see that I was alright. She tended to my back, the change happened too late to stop the scarring."
"What did she look like?" Rosalie found herself almost jealous of the affection, the love he poured into the words as he spoke of Eleanor.
"Beautiful," he said with a warm smile. "At least to me. My friends could not see it. She had masses of hair, orange, bright like the fire." He gestured towards the sputtering flames. "Her eyes were a mixture of blue and green, like the river in summer. She was pale, so pale. More so than even you, but she had..." He frowned, as though searching for the words. "She had dots of colour all over her nose and cheeks." He tapped his nose gently, dotted his fingertip all around the area.
"Freckles," Rosalie suggested. "She had freckles."
Ephraim nodded. "Freckles." He seemed to squirrel the word away for future use. "She was soft and plump. Whenever I looked at her, and I looked at her every moment I could, she always reminded me of ripe fruit. Her lips were full and pink. I used to spend bible class imagining what they would taste like."
From the description he had given, part of Rosalie imagined Eleanor to be a podgy, pale, redhead mother hen. The other part of her felt as entranced as Ephraim so clearly was with this auburn haired goddess, an epitome of seduction hidden under plain missionary garments, sparkling eyes and an inviting mouth.
"We were in the classroom, late at night. She was bathing my scar, berating the priest, calling him a coward for not facing the tribe. I said nothing, for I could not divulge our secret. But the wolf changed everything, and I knew."
"That every moment I had thought of her in that classroom, she had thought of me."
"How did you know?" Rosalie asked, a little panicked at the notion that perhaps he could read minds. Maybe becoming a wolf meant you could?
Ephraim blushed a little, but he was trying not to laugh. "The wolf, he heightens my senses," he explained. "The scent of her, the tremble in her hands when she touched me, all these secrets became unlocked to me. She asked me why I even attended bible class after everything I got put through. I took the cloth from her and pressed her hand in mine, when she didn't object, I told her how I attended for her, how I would never worship a man on a cross or a man in the sky, but I would worship her for eternity. She laughed, only briefly, out of nerves, but all she said is that it was unchristian. I asked her if the way she thought of me was unchristian, and she slapped me. But she blushed, her scent grew thicker, and I knew it was true, so I kissed her. She pushed me away until I stopped, then she pulled me back, and we continued."
He swallowed deeply. "We conducted ourselves in secret. We found places nobody visited and made passionate love. She would tell me what we were doing was wrong, but she would undress seconds later. I told her I did not care; I told her I wanted to be hers, that I would marry her the moment she asked. Last month, she vanished. All she left for me was a note, saying she had to return to England, that it was the right thing to do, for both of us. Saying she loved me, but it was not enough…"
Rosalie saw tears sting his eyes and longed to brush them away.
"You recall him so clearly," Edward mused. "I know that's not unusual for a… what we are, but still…"
"Stop trampling in my head!" Rosalie demanded hotly.
Edward merely raised his palms in casual surrender. "I can't help it when your thoughts are so vocal," he replied, unrepentant, as Rosalie turned her attention back to Jacob and Bella. Their conversation had shifted yet again.
"Just think about it, Bells. Think about what you're giving up," Jacob implored.
Bella met his gaze. "I have thought about it," she insisted, sounding a lot more determined than she looked. "I'm not giving anything up."
"What about Charlie?" he asked, before glancing at the floor. "What about me?"
"I don't have to give you up," she whispered, her hands straying to the waistband of his cut-off pants.
His expression was hard, as though etched into his face. "Yes, you do."
Bella looked away, tears in her eyes. It seemed to break Jacob's resolve. "Bells, I'm sorry… Just think about all the fun you'll be missing out on. Growing up, bonfires, Christmas, pizza, babies, the warmth of the sun, feeling your heart race when you run or kiss or…" he trailed off, but the look he gave Bella made it crystal clear what he meant. "You're trading in your very life force, for what? Munching on bears?"
"Bella, I don't want you to die! And that's exactly what choosing this…" he gestured around the hallway. "…means."
Rosalie felt she should cry, if only the tear ducts worked. They had almost a millennia of experience between the seven of them, and this sixteen-year-old boy understood their condition more thoroughly than even Carlisle.
She heard the chair next to her scrape across the floor, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Edward stalk off.
"You don't like it when I'm right, do you?" she thought loudly, hoping he would have no choice but to hear.
Ephraim was poking at the fire with a branch, smiling to himself.
"What is it?" Rosalie asked, her brows furrowing into a frown.
"Oh, I simply find it amusing how much I have confided in you," he confessed. "I ought to choose my counsel more carefully."
"I'm surprisingly good at keeping secrets," Rosalie replied earnestly, not wanting him to think for a second she would let him down.
She wondered why she cared so deeply about it.
"But not in divulging them," he countered amiably, and Rosalie stared at the ground, avoiding his eyes.
"I… I can't," she said, pushing the human memories away. "I just can't."
They were silent for a while, the fire now in its last death throes.
"How do you play?" Ephraim asked out of the blue, the way his eyes sparkled making him seem younger than his seventeen years.
"Yes. Recreation. Fun." He glanced at the ground and smirked. "Unless you spend all your time hunting black bears?"
"Vampires can have fun, too," she insisted. "We… Well…We play sports, sometimes…" she trailed off lamely.
"What kind of sports?"
"We've taken to playing baseball, although it's rather difficult with just four of us. Besides, we can only play when there's a thunderstorm. We can't draw attention to ourselves… I fix up automobile engines, sometimes," she added.
Ephraim seemed most puzzled by this. "Automobiles?"
"Yes." She paused and watched him carefully. "You do know what an automobile is, don't you?"
"Of course," he replied disdainfully. "I just do not care for them. They cannot reach the same speed as me…"
Suddenly, he stood up.
"It appears to me, Rosalie, that you have precious little fun in your life," he announced, before frowning. "Your death," he corrected.
Rosalie sighed, despite herself. "That's a rather accurate assumption," she conceded as Ephraim grabbed her by the hands and pulled her to her feet.
"Take your clothes off," he demanded, and Rosalie froze.
"I beg your pardon?" she squeaked, the memories of that night pounding at the floodgates.
Ephraim looked at her oddly. "Take your clothes off," he repeated.
Rosalie shook her head wildly. "No! How dare you!" she raged at the puzzled man in front of her. Once she fell silent, he merely shrugged.
"Alright, but I assumed you might want to keep them dry," he said, and this time, Rosalie was puzzled.
"What do you mean?"
Ephraim pointed across the landscape to a large cliff jutting out over the sea. "I like to dive from that cliff into the sea," he explained. "I find that fun. I thought perhaps you might, too."
They looked at each other, Rosalie taking in his child-like eagerness, the shyness at her riposte.
"Oh. I see," she replied eventually, feeling a little remorse for thinking so little of him. "You do realise that, as a man, you really shouldn't suggest a woman disrobe."
Ephraim appeared sheepish for a moment. "I apologise," he said before grinning at her again. "Does that mean you would like to dive?"
Rosalie looked across at the cliff, the sheer drop appeared somewhat dangerous.
She reminded herself that it no longer mattered. It wouldn't damage her in any way, and the thought gnawed at her.
"Why not?" she replied firmly, unbuttoning her waistcoat and shirt, stripping down to her underwear. Ephraim patiently looked away, his eyes only occasionally straying to her figure when she unhooked her stockings from her girdle and peeled them off. For a brief moment, she found herself surprised that she was quite happy for his glance to linger over her, but she had little time to consider this. Almost as soon as her last stocking fell to the floor, Ephraim took her hand and led her through the dense woods, out to a clearing and up some steep hills to the top of the cliff.
"You jump off this? For fun?" she asked, the sharp wind whipping her hair about as she glanced down into the tumultuous water far, far below, white froth fanning out from the rocks near the cliff.
"Yes," Ephraim replied. "I find it invigorating. Peaceful."
"I suppose it's rather difficult to do anything crazier than turning into a wolf," Rosalie mused. "So why not this?"
Ephraim nodded. "Before, I would only jump from down there." He pointed at a small ledge on the cliff about a third of the way down.
"That's crazy," Rosalie affirmed. Ephraim nodded and took her hand in his; she felt the heat blaze through her skin.
"Care to try it?" he asked, catching her eye.
Rosalie never consented, and Ephraim never acknowledged. Instead they both took several steps back and ran to the edge, leaping off at the last minute. Rosalie felt her hand slip out of his as she hit the water, plunging into the lukewarm sea, letting the calmness and silence wash over her. She swam underwater for a little while, not straying too far, merely observing as Ephraim swam back to the surface, his powerful thighs pulsing with the effort of kicking his legs back and forth through the sea, the muscles in his back twitching the bronzed skin, the curve of his…
Rosalie shook her head, slightly ashamed of herself for paying attention to aspects of this boy she really should be ignoring. With little effort she swam upwards, breaking the surface of the water and feeling her blonde hair stick to her face and back.
"Urgh!" she complained, Ephraim whirling around at the sound almost instantaneously.
"What is the matter?" he asked. "Did you not enjoy it?"
"I did," Rosalie insisted. "But now my hair's a complete mess!"
Ephraim swam towards her, and Rosalie felt the heat build the closer he got, emanating from him through the water.
"You look lovely," he assured her, reaching forward and sweeping her wet hair out of her face with a touch so tender she could scarcely believe it came from the same man.
Then he pushed his hand through the water and splashed her, before swimming away, sniggering.
"That's not fair!" she insisted hotly, swimming after him and splashing him back. He returned the favour, and soon the pair of them were chasing each other, giggling as they did their best to soak each other further.
Eventually, Rosalie leapt onto the cliff face, calling out, "Catch me if you can!"
As she effortlessly pulled herself up the cliff, using barely-there hand and foot holds, she heard Ephraim chase after her, his body heat tangible as he advanced on her, catching her in his arms as they reached the plateau and pinning her to the grass.
"I have got you now," he teased playfully, his hands pressing her arms against the ground, his face inches from hers. "You shall not escape my clutches!"
Rosalie tensed suddenly, dull images flitting through her mind from the life before she died, the parts that stood out more sharply than the rest, that she couldn't escape.
"Ephraim, please stop," she said, squirming under his grip, forgetting she was stronger and could throw him off her without much difficulty.
"Do you surrender?" he demanded, playing his game.
"Ephraim," she protested weakly, choking back a sob she could never make.
He suddenly released his grip on her and sat up, heat from his legs spreading to her own as they touched. "Rosalie? What is wrong?" he asked, his expression a picture of concern.
She felt her shoulders sag.
"Rosalie?" Ephraim gently tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. "Why are you so sad?"
She looked away, taking a deep and unnecessary breath before meeting his soft dark eyes. "You said you wanted to know how I ended up this way," she said, before blurting out a tale she had never vocalised to anyone before.
"I've had enough of this, Jake," Bella hissed, pushing past Jacob, who whirled around and caught her arm.
"Bella, I can't stand by and let you do this without realising…" he trailed off, but Rosalie knew the words he kept choked inside. She imagined she could have said them for him.
Bella looked up at him, her hand on his where it gripped his arm, but she said nothing, did nothing.
"Hey, babe!" Emmett sidled up to Rosalie and slid his arms around her, pressing a kiss to her head. "Come back out to the party. What are you doing sitting out here, anyway?"
He glanced across to the hallway to Bella and Jacob just as he pulled her into a bear hug, which Bella surrendered into with a sigh of relief.
"Oh," he said quietly, sitting down next to Rosalie.
"What do you mean, 'oh?'" she asked defensively. Emmett looked at her and smiled kindly.
"I know I wasn't there, Rose, but sometimes I do listen to Edward's moaning," he joked.
Rosalie sighed. "He's overreacting," she said firmly.
Emmett shrugged. "It's okay," he said, his finger tracing circles on her bare shoulder. "I get it."
Rosalie leant her head against his shoulder. "You're the only one, I think," she replied, remembering Edward's reaction.
Emmett shrugged again. "If he were here, I'd thank him," he replied. "Maybe Jacob Black's the next best thing…"
"Don't even think about it," she hissed.
The cliff top seemed cold to Rosalie, even though she knew she couldn't feel it. Not really. She still wrapped her arms around herself and hunched her body, warding off a biting wind that had no effect on her.
"I was raped and beaten by my fiancée and four of his friends. They left me for dead. Carlisle found me…"
"Raped?" Ephraim looked confused.
There was a moment of silence which felt excruciating to Rosalie, as she imagined him judging her.
"What does 'raped' mean?" he asked eventually. "I presume it is not a good thing?"
As Rosalie tried to explain, with hand gestures and stammered words, he soon understood. The floodgates opened for Rosalie, and she poured out everything, every tiny detail to this shape-shifting stranger. The pain, the humiliation. The jeering of his friends as they took it in turns. The stench of alcohol and tobacco. The dirty fingernails. The ripping of clothes. The cold of the concrete and the endless agony. The dying laughter as they walked away, knowing they would get away with it. The coldness of caring hands, the whispered promise that it would soon be over. The three days of searing torture. The disappointment on all sides.
She was surprised he was still there. She was even more surprised that his hand rested against her back, caressing her skin down to the wet, clinging fabric of her girdle and back up again to her shoulders.
"Rosalie," he whispered tenderly. "Oh, Rosalie."
Suddenly, he pulled her into his arms, a scorching embrace laden with only comfort. His hand found her hair and tenderly stroked from the top of her head down to the nape of her neck, repeated soothing movements as Rosalie rested her head on his shoulder, not caring that he stank to high heaven.
"I can't cry," she whispered against his skin. "I want to, so very much..."
"It is alright," he assured her. "You do not have to cry to let go."
"It was my fault," she said. "My fault for wanting something so… so superficial! Wanting my friends to be jealous. Wanting…"
Ephraim's hands were already cupping her face. "It was not your fault," he insisted fiercely. "It does not matter what you did… Nobody deserves that."
"Perhaps I did," she wondered aloud. "What I visited upon them…"
Ephraim looked positively intrigued, and Rosalie couldn't bear to meet his gaze.
"What I did was terrible," she whispered against his skin.
Ephraim did not let go. "I killed a priest," he reasoned, and it was this that gave her the courage to look up at him, to believe he might not judge her as harshly as she judged herself. The words came easily then, the description of her wedding dress, how it became soaked in their blood. How she left her fiancé until last.
Ephraim's arms remained wrapped around her. "I think you showed them a great mercy," he concluded after a pregnant pause once her story was over.
Rosalie couldn't help but giggle, a nervous reaction she presumed. "Mercy?"
"Of course." He smiled uncomfortably. "Would you like to hear what I would have done, if I were in your place?"
Rosalie nodded, wiping her eyes before realising what she was doing.
"I would have killed one of them. Just one. I would have told the others that I would be back for them. Some time in the future, long enough for them to begin to forget, I would kill another. And so on. I would leave the fiancé until last, but I would never kill him."
"Why?" Rosalie asked, puzzled.
Ephraim offered her another grim smile. "I would leave him to live out the rest of his long, miserable life in fear, fear I would return to fulfil my promise at any moment." He smirked, letting his arms drop from her body. "Now who is the monster?"
"I…" Rosalie sat up and felt mindful of the sudden lack of heat. "I wish I'd thought of that."
They looked at each other for a moment, mere inches apart sitting next to each other while the wind howled around them in the darkness. Then they both burst into helpless laughter.
"I can't laugh at this," she moaned. "I mustn't."
"Why not?" Ephraim asked. "It will not change anything."
She felt his fingertips brush against hers, the sheer heat of him threatening to overpower her. Without thinking, she leant into him, only stopping when he pressed a large hand against her sternum as her nose brushed against his.
"Are you going to kiss me?" he asked quietly.
Rosalie smiled at him knowingly. "Would you like me to?"
"I do not think so," he said, and Rosalie felt indignant. How dare he? She was the most beautiful woman in her state, possibly the country now. He should be grateful for her attention, damn grateful.
"Your kiss could kill me," he said, pressing a finger gently to her lips, before tilting his head slightly and leaning forward, his lips finding a spot on her neck where once there was a pulse point. The heat blossomed through her, skin taut against the dampness of his mouth when he gently sucked. It felt as though she was a car battery being jump started.
For a brief moment, Rosalie thought her heart had started beating again.
He moved to her other side, and she felt her eyelids flutter closed. Tentative fingers strayed across her shoulder, heat spilling through her, almost unbearable. The heat spread to the nape of her neck as he threaded his fingers through her damp hair. She opened her eyes and looked at him, his darkened eyes, his blood pumping faster, the scent more pungent that before.
Silently, she reached out and touched his bare skin, watching the goose bumps form as she ran her fingers down his chest, resting against his abdominal muscles, nervous at her own actions.
Ephraim pulled her close, one hand pressing against the small of her back, the other still in her hair. Pressing his forehead against hers, he whispered, "I wish you could kiss me."
Almost as soon as she heard the words, her lips found his shoulder, his neck, his chest, every part she could explore without breaking the skin with her razor sharp teeth. His breath warmed her as he kissed the top of her head affectionately, his hand sliding out of her hair and down her back, fingering the eyelets on her girdle. Suddenly, it popped open. Ephraim pulled the fabric away, threw it to one side and Rosalie felt the heat build up inside her. He pulled her closer, her skin pressing against his and she almost expected to see steam rise from between them. Hastily, she wrapped her legs around him, savouring the blazing heat that she was beginning to think came from her as he unfastened her bra and pulled it off with her eager help. As he began to taste her newly exposed skin, she moaned loudly, quickly slapping a hand to her mouth in embarrassment.
"What is the matter?" Ephraim asked breathlessly.
"I'm sorry," she said, and he looked at her with puzzlement.
"For what?" His hand gently cupped her left breast and she gasped again.
"That," she managed to whimper.
He smiled, kissed her cheek. "I like it," he replied earnestly, before gently lowering her down onto the grass below, allowing Rosalie to enjoy her greatest secret, one she had only ever chosen to divulge to Emmett.
This was the night she considered she lost her virginity.
"You think she should be with him, don't you?" Emmett phrased his words as a question, but Rosalie noted he already knew the answer, so didn't furnish him with it.
Instead she tried to tear her eyes away from the boy in the hallway cuddling her brother's girlfriend.
"She won't, though," Rosalie said. "She won't… she won't listen to reason."
"Aww, come on, Rose. I like being a vampire," he assured her. "Why won't she?"
The ghost of Ephraim stood in the hallway, trying to save a girl that couldn't be saved, and Rosalie felt angry. For him, at him; it didn't matter. He was going to rip his guts out for that girl, and she didn't deserve it.
Rosalie was brought back to that same old question once again.
If she were human, would she have chosen him?
She knew the answer.
She hated herself for it.
The sun was beginning to break over the horizon. Rosalie watched the sky, her head resting against Ephraim's chest, the rise and fall too quick for him to be asleep.
He took his orders seriously.
She smiled, and reached for his hand, pressing a delicate kiss to his knuckles. Ephraim had seen to it that Rosalie was sufficiently unable to cause trouble for his tribe throughout the night. He had seen to it seven times, and she was delighted.
"Are you alright?" she asked quietly, sitting up and watching his face, dark circles under his eyes, a slight smile on his lips.
"I am well," he said, stroking her hair." Are you?"
"Very well, thank you," she replied, kissing his cheek before he sat up, his hand on her shoulder, sliding down to the small of her back.
"It is daybreak," he announced quietly. "We need to return to my family. To yours."
Rosalie looked down at herself. "You remembered?"
"I told you; I am smart. Besides, they care for you, do they not?" Ephraim reasoned as they both stood up, looking at each other for a moment in silence.
Eventually Rosalie broke it. "I wish I could stay here," she said, pressing herself up against Ephraim and feeling him shiver as he wrapped his arms around her. "Sorry, you're cold," she whispered.
"It is fine," he replied. "I do not mind." He eventually dropped his arms and tucked a tendril of her hair behind her ear. "But we do need to leave."
Rosalie nodded, pulling away and deftly slipping on her clothes before entwining her fingers with his as they walked back to the camp.
"Which languages do you speak?" she asked suddenly.
Ephraim looked at her. "Excuse me?"
"You said you spoke four languages," Rosalie replied with a small giggle. "Which ones?"
"Oh, I see." He smiled and glanced briefly at the grass beneath his feet. "Quileute is my native tongue, but I speak English, French and Latin. In that order of competence," he added.
"Your English is very good," Rosalie pointed out.
Ephraim shrugged. "It is not so good. I understand it, and I can speak it at a reasonable level, but I do not… I do not feel it. Does that make sense?"
"Not really," she conceded.
"I only think in Quileute; I only dream in Quileute."
"I see," Rosalie replied, unable to suppress a smile at the thought of Edward's frustration. Idiot boy.
"This amuses you?"
"Your modesty amuses me."
Ephraim laughed heartily at this. "I, modest? I can assure you, no pale face has ever said that to me before."
Rosalie glanced at his naked form just as he did. "Not that kind of modesty, Ephraim," she said, stopping in her tracks.
"Is something the matter?" he asked, turning to face her.
"When we reach your camp, that's it, isn't it?"
"I do not understand."
"This." She gestured to Ephraim and then herself. "Us. What we shared. It's over, isn't it?"
Ephraim didn't quite meet her eyes. "Yes. What we are… It can never be."
Rosalie stared at a bluebell nestled in the long grasses near her feet. "If things were different… If I were human, say? Do you think perhaps we could be?" she asked quietly.
Ephraim shook his head and laughed, which angered Rosalie. "Something funny?" she asked acerbically.
"Rosalie, if you were human, you would never have made love with me," he said, and Rosalie felt as though he had just stabbed her deep in her guts.
"I… How can you say that?" she stammered, just as she thought of all the reasons that would have kept her away. All of them felt trivial, but it didn't make them any the less real.
"Can you truly, honestly tell me a privileged, wealthy paleface such as your human self would have even considered doing the things we did last night, with me?"
Rosalie didn't meet his eyes. She knew the answer. So did he.
"It is alright, Rosalie. I understand," he said, and Rosalie wanted nothing more than to be a completely different person, just so she could love him the way he deserved. She imagined herself human, alive, giving herself to him the way she did last night, breathing in a scent that wasn't repulsive, crushing her warm body against his, feeling a heat flood her that she could come close to matching, being completely helpless in his strong arms but trusting he would give her all the power she desired.
It was a fantasy, nothing more. One that would have made her blush if it could come true.
Searing heat built up against her cheek, Ephraim was cradling her face in his hand.
"I wish I could be different," she managed to croak out, feeling as though she should cry.
As if he could read her mind, Ephraim wiped away the tear she couldn't make, brushing his thumb against her cheek. "You saved my family," he said. "You… You helped me stitch my broken heart back together. The way you are does not change this." He looked her straight in the eye. "You are not a bad person," he said sternly.
"I think you might be perfect," she whispered, and Ephraim chuckled.
"Nobody is perfect," he replied. "Not you and certainly not me."
She smiled as he took her hand. "Thank you," she said as they continued to walk towards the camp.
"Making the scars fade," she said simply, walking in silence until they reached the camp, letting go of each other's hands before they got within visible range of the two wolves guarding the area.
Nobody batted an eyelid as Rosalie and Ephraim entered the camp, except for Ephraim's father, who quickly gestured for his son to come forward. As Rosalie heard Ephraim speak reams of Quileute, followed by phrases in English such as, "Keep away from our lands, do not kill anyone, and we will keep your secret," she knew they were organising some sort of treaty. A pact. Enemies forming an uneasy truce, trying to trust each other against all of their instincts.
She tried not to smile as she thought about how she and Ephraim had overcome their differences, felt a phantom ache between her legs that couldn't be real.
If was only after a while of this that she noticed Edward staring at her, his mouth agog as though he were trying to catch flies.
"I want to change the terms," Ephraim said after a quick succession of Quileute.
Everyone stared at him.
"You do not approve of our agreement?" Carlisle asked genially.
Rosalie saw Ephraim look over at her, his expression determined. "Not entirely," he said. "You must never bite a human. Not just kill."
Carlisle looked at Ephraim appraisingly, as though he didn't expect him to suggest something quite so clever.
Then he glanced at Rosalie, who did her best to avoid catching his eye. "Agreed," he said with a heavy sigh. "None of us shall be willing to do that in a hurry."
No documents were signed, but hands were shaken and a formal commitment to memory was made. The chief said some words in Quileute, and then Ephraim spoke.
"You are free to go."
Carlisle bowed and gestured for them all to leave. "Thank you for your understanding," he said, his eyes fixed on Ephraim. Rosalie didn't want to know why as she slowly followed the rest of her family out of the camp and into the dense woods, allowing the others to walk far ahead. Only Edward kept lingering, as though waiting for her to catch up.
Before she could shout anything at him, she was startled by the sound of someone rushing up to her. She knew who it was without turning around.
"Ephraim," she whispered, deliberately breathing in a scent that was both noxious and comforting to her.
"Rosalie," he said, touching her arm and gesturing for her to face him. She did so, and he gently cupped her face in his hands, standing so close to her that his forearms were pressed against the length of her body. "Stay still," he whispered, before carefully pressing his lips to hers. She closed her eyes and kissed him back, holding in the way she wanted to crash against him. Too dangerous.
He pulled away and walked back to the rest of his tribe, glancing briefly over his shoulder and offering her a smile. She stood still, smiled back, and offered him a small wave.
She ignored the patent look of disgust on Edward's face as she returned to the others.
"I can't believe you did that," he said sharply.
"What, kissed him?" she asked sharply, pushing past him. "We were lucky they didn't kill us. I'm personally grateful for such a show of affection…"
"That's not what I meant," Edward replied, shaking his head. Rosalie rolled her eyes, waiting for the inevitable backlash.
"Stop trampling in my head if you can't handle what you find there," she said wearily.
"It's certainly one way of keeping them off our backs, by getting on yours," he spluttered.
Rosalie couldn't find it in herself to attack him, this idiot boy who couldn't even see her outer beauty, much less her inner. She wondered if she was making progress.
"Oh, babe, come back!" Emmett called, but Rosalie couldn't stay in that damnable kitchen any longer, watching Ephraim doggedly fighting a useless battle to save her from herself.
A far plainer, more whiney version of herself.
"Whoa, what's up with Blondie?" she heard the boy say with a soupcon of amusement in his voice, as she stomped up the stairs entering the room she sometimes shared with Emmett and slammed the door.
Forcing herself to tremble, wanting to tremble, she grabbed a vase and threw it to the floor.
"Bella's an idiot," she thought viciously as it smashed into pieces.
"That boy needs to get the hell away!" She threw something into the mirror above the dresser, a hairbrush perhaps?
"Edward needs to grow up!" She picked up the dresser and ripped the drawers from it, splinters of wood flying across the room.
"Ephraim had children!" She kicked a closet door, causing it to fall apart.
"Ephraim moved on!"
She stopped suddenly, the fight rushing out of her. He had grown old, fathered children, lived a human life. His legacy was standing in their hallway, doing all the things that she fancied would have made him proud.
She prayed to a god she didn't believe in that Jacob Black would succeed. She didn't care if it broke Edward's heart, if Alice mourned the loss of her potential playmate, even if stupid Bella whined and moaned about the unfairness of it all.
She just didn't want to have to see that boy, that living, breathing reminder of him, ever again.