our intents and purposes
When she sees him for the first time, she swears she's seen him before. Even covered in blood, his face is familiar, and she searches her scattered memories for some marker of remembrance, something to stop the nagging feeling in the back of her head that she knows him from her previous life.
"Where's the bear?" he asks, hands pressed against the wound on his stomach. She stops breathing to ignore the scent of freshly spilled blood. It doesn't stop the venom, and barely helps her concentrate.
"He won't be bothering you anymore," she says, kneeling down. With a steady hand she brushes his dark hair away from his face, admiring its natural curl. An image – brief, shaky – flashes through her head. Dark hair like his. Blue eyes. Rosy cheeks, growing paler by the minute.
The name comes suddenly and she whispers it.
"Can he help me?" he asks, and she shakes her head, confused. Not Henry. But who is Henry? More images – a baby, grasping at a mother –
She hasn't thought about Vera since she became what she is now. She removes her hand from the forehead of the man that is Not Henry and watches as he writhes on the forest floor, blood seeping into his clothing. Vera, her friend. Henry, the child. This man, injured. Alone. Dying.
She runs, speeding through trees, frantically swallowing the venom that pools in her mouth. There are miles yet to go before she reaches home. He moans and the scent of new blood mingles with old and she keeps running.
All she can think is not him, not him.
As quickly as she saves him, she abandons him.
Even miles from the house, the sound of his screams rattles her fragile control. She cannot – will not – watch as he cries out in agony. She remembers the pain far too well, and still does not understand why she brought him here, to Carlisle. Not him - but to subject him to this half-life?
They come to see her – first Edward, then Esme – but she does not leave.
"You're being selfish," Edward tells her.
"I can't be there," she replies. Her body shakes at the thought of the man as he lies in their house, dying.
"He's asking for you," Edward says softly. She sighs. If she could cry, she would.
"His name is Emmett," her brother tells her before he leaves.
"Come back, dear," Esme pleads on the second day. "Emmett would be grateful if you were there."
"He'll barely know," she responds, uncertainty in her voice.
"It would be nice," Esme says, chiding her gently.
Instead, Rosalie lies among the dead leaves of the forest floor, weighed down by her guilt until the screaming stops.
Even then, though, she does not go to his side to welcome him into this new life. She returns to her room, tiptoes around him, listens to his boisterous laughing and rare moments of desolation from the quiet of her bedroom. She is intrigued but frightened, and more than anything else she is paralyzed by uncertainty – will he hate her? Will he wish she had never found him? Will he actually enjoy this life?
Instead, she stays on her bed, legs curled to her chest. If Edward, who visits her, knows anything of her inner torment, he says nothing to ease her mind. No doubt he thinks this her penance, and while she tends to disagree with his desire to pass moral judgment, she cannot help but feel that this time, he is right.
It takes her three weeks to leave her room. She only does it to make Esme happy, because it disrupts the family equilibrium that the other woman so deeply cherishes.
Their first meeting – creator and creation – comes scant minutes after she leaves her room. She can feel his heavy tread as he walks around the house, shaking the floorboards in a manner she didn't think possible of their kind.
She braces herself for impact.
There is a moment, a long pause, where he doesn't move and where she cannot meet his eyes. He steps closer, and she does her best – for Esme's sake – not to run.
"The name's Emmett McCarthy," he says, holding out his large hand.
She was raised in proper society and know the appropriate way to greet a gentleman is not with a handshake (her mother would be horrified) but she takes his hand anyway. Her own hand looks small and delicate in his large one, and it surprises her.
"Rosalie Hale," she says, taking a deep breath and meeting his eyes for the first time.
His eyes are red flecked with brown, turning slowly into the golden color of their family. His face, in this waking death, is more chiseled, his features stronger than she remembered. His hair still curls on his forehead.
"Thank you very much for saving me, Miss Hale," he says, and she distinguishes the drawl of a southern accent.
"It was Dr. Cullen who saved you," she responds, dropping his hand. "I did nothing to help you."
"You brought me to him," he says with a slight smile.
"Excuse me," she says, brushing by him, unnerved by his smile. He is being too polite to his murderer.
As weeks go on, he attempts to talk to her as much as possible, and she lets him, though the conversations are brief and full of southern manners. His is endearing polite to him, and she wonders why. It must be something Edward told him, she finally reasons, and seeks her younger brother.
"What did you tell him?" she asks. He is returning from a hunt, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
"What he needed to know," Edward replies, but she knows that's not true. He would never tell Emmett about her vanity, or her jealousy, or the horrors in her heart that he knows all too well with that intrusive gift of his. He would simply make it easier to swallow.
"Why can't you just believe that the man likes you for who you are?" Edward asks. There is a hint of bitterness in his voice that she notices and quickly stores away. Instead, she wonders why anyone, let alone sweet, honest Emmett, would like her. There are days that she's sure her family doesn't like her (or maybe just Edward – Esme cannot hate, and Carlisle would refuse to). Why would Emmett?
"Maybe you should ask him that," Edward says, brushing by her.
"He barely knows me," she says out loud. This much is true; though she brought him here, she did not turn him, nor did she watch the process. She sat in her room, eyes shut, listening to every scream of agony.
Her brother sighs. "Maybe you could make amends by actually being around him. You'll find it him quite entertaining." She hates how he tends to answer her unspoken thoughts and not her actual words but he's right. She can try.
She makes an effort. She listens to the stories he tells, family stories and fairy tales, with rapt attention, partly because her mother taught her to be polite, and partly because she is enthralled by the way his face changes when he speaks, the movement of his hands, the happiness that seems to shine from him.
From his corner, Edward smirks, and she frowns. She feels unbalanced and confused by this upheaval but she would not trade feeling something for anything in the world.
She will never admit it but she thought – briefly – about Edward.
The boy's attractive enough for her but beyond Carlisle's hope that they would fit, and Edward's own reluctance towards the idea, there was nothing that drew her to him. They are siblings now, and will be, but no affection of any sort other than familial.
It's not until Emmett comes that she realizes why.
Emmett has taken to testing his newborn strength by replicating the chores he used to do, albeit now with increased speed and stamina.
She finds him out back one day, chopping wood. He still uses an ax, but the wood is as round as a car tire – unsurprising, in this old forest where they've been living.
"Why do you do that?" she asks. This is the first time they've been alone since she changed him, and her voice seems to startle him – he has to have known she was there, he must have sensed her. "We don't need firewood."
He turns to face her, unconsciously wipes his hand across his face though he's not sweating (such a human gesture) and nods his head in greeting.
"I don't know," he says, "I mean, I guess it makes things more normal – setting up a routine, at least. If I was back home, I'd be doing this right now."
"I'm sorry," she whispers, feeling the pain she's been fighting off return with his honest words. If it wasn't for her, he'd be buried beneath familiar soil, with his family – not with them.
"Don't be," he says, resting the ax against a tree. "You saved that grizzly from eating me, so I guess that's good enough. I don't mind being here."
"It's not what you would have chosen," she says softly, and there's something in his eyes – something so frightening, something she's never seen – that she looks away.
"I'd rather be here than in a grizzly's belly," he says, and she finds the sentiment amusing. Her lips turn upward, and for a moment, she's pleased.
"I've been waiting to see that pretty smile," Emmett says, and she purses her lips, glaring at him. She's not sure why she does that – she likes it when men appreciate her – but this is different. Dangerous.
"Sorry, ma'am," he says, reaching for his ax again. "Didn't mean any harm."
"Rosalie," she says. His head jerks up, eyes fixed on her. "Call me Rosalie."
"Rosalie," he repeats, a sly smile on his lips. "I think I can do that."
It's not until she turns and leaves that she realizes he's been shirtless the entire time. She's not entirely familiar with seeing men…as they are. If it had been Edward, he would have covered up immediately to protect his (and her) modesty, but Emmett seemed…comfortable. Like he knew what he looked like, and dared her to object.
Not that she would, of course. She found him far more pleasing to her than she cared to admit.
The first time Emmett kisses her, she slaps him.
They are returning from a hunt as a family, though she lingers behind. He lingers too, drawing closer and closer to her. She is anxious, and nervous, because things are changing between them and she's not sure what to do. The sole romantic relationship she had as a human was bitter, rotten and decaying beneath the sugar-coated surface. This is nothing like that, but it's nothing like the relationship she has with the rest of her family.
She is frightened by her lack of experience, and confusion over what she wants. Men hurt women, and while she is no longer mortal, she still fears the power Emmett possesses. She admires his muscles and strength when employed in some task but trembles at the damage it could do to her.
"Penny for your thoughts," Emmett asks suddenly and her thoughts vanish as she becomes all too aware of his presence. Being near Emmett is like standing to close to a live wire, and she welcomes the spark.
"They're not that interesting," she says, looking away. He draws closer still, and with little thought, takes her hand in his.
She stops walking. She does not like to be touched, though Esme will often brush hair out of her face or embrace her like a mother does. She does not like to be touched by her male family members, by men in general, and the feel of Emmett's hand in hers upsets her; she pulls away with a snarl, and folds her hands across her chest, as if to protect herself. If the feel of his hand does something else to her, she cannot admit it.
But she is no longer weak and vulnerable as she once was, and Emmett seems to understand this too well.
"I'm sorry," he says, "I just wanted to get your attention."
"You can have it without touching me," she says, feeling guilty at her dismissal of him but the man doesn't even seem to register it. Instead he steps in front of her and stops her. They stand a foot apart, and he looks down at her with dark eyes and she trembles from fear and something else, something so very very new and exciting.
"Maybe I'm asking too much," he says softly (are they getting closer?) "but I was thinking of something a bit different."
His lips are on hers without much preamble; or, maybe, with too much – days and weeks and months of hovering on the edge of this precipice, afraid to fall into something so new and frightening. His lips are so very cold but then again, so are hers.
She steps back suddenly, and without much thought, slaps him. Hard. He barely flinches, and she runs to her family, who have left them far behind in the woods. She's not sure why she does it, or why she runs, but her thoughts flutter around her head in such a confusing way that Edward complains of a headache and leaves them for several days.
It doesn't take that long for everything to settle, however; the next day, when he's out back chopping more wood for the fires they burn only for amusement, she grabs him and kisses him like she knows she's always wanted to, like she's never kissed anyone else.
He doesn't object, and he doesn't slap her. He just pulls her closer.
As things progress, she is amused – pleasantly – by how he always asks. Asks before he moves his hand lower on her body, checks to make sure she wants him to touch her here or kiss her there. Every time he asks, she can feel her defenses crack, and knows one day they will finally crumble down.
It happens slowly – kisses and caresses one day, being caught by their family the next. Esme and Carlisle are happy, and Edward seems relieved for reasons she doesn't care to know.
He's taken to invading the personal space of her bedroom on all occasions. He lounges on the bed, watching her at her dressing table. He watches every vain behavior she has, from debating lipstick colors to whether to pin her hair up, without saying a word.
She'll often join him on the bed, and they lay arm's length apart, talking about what they like and dislike and one night, he places his hand on her hip and pulls her just a bit closer. If her heart could still beat, it would jump in her chest but instead she feels a vibration throughout her entire body as he traces his hand down from her hip to her leg, over her backside, and back up.
He makes her breathless, even though she doesn't need to breath, and she doesn't know what makes her more excited, his hand on her body or the culmination of all their time together.
It's slow at first, and she's scared; the last time she experienced this, well…it was not good. But Emmett takes his time, enjoys taking every piece of clothing off her body, and she enjoys watching him as he does it. She enjoys reciprocating, slipping the shirt over his shoulders and being able to touch him so intimately (she's enjoying his own intimate touches as well).
When the moment comes, he kisses her softly and presses his forehead to hers and asks if it's okay. She wraps her arms around his back and urges him on, telling him this is what she wants because it is, and it's better than she ever expected. She loses herself in where they meet and wonders where they end, the movement of his body and hers and she digs her nails into his shoulder when she falls.
After the first time, it's like a door has been opened to newfound pleasure and above all else newfound trust, and she cannot and will not stop touching him when she wants to. They're not quiet about it, though Edward is the only one who complains. For the most part, she thinks everyone else is just happy that she's happy.
And she is – happy, indescribably happy. Every dead cell in her body is happy because this – Emmett, this life with him and the feeling that she can trust him more than she has ever trusted anyone else before – is so intense and amazing that it makes this lonely existence worth it.
When they move out of the woods and closer to town, Emmett moves his belongs into her room and no one says anything about it.
Their first wedding is the result of wishful thinking and idle time.
They're lying in bed one night, telling each other stories, and she tells him about planning for her wedding. She can talk about it now with only a small fraction of the regret she once felt because Emmett's arms, hard and strong around her, make it easy to be contented with the here and now, not there and then. She tells him about her mother's fits, and the constant dress fittings, and how lovely she looked and how happy she felt.
She doesn't tell him about Royce, but she's sure he knows enough anyway.
"Hmmm," he says, pressing his nose to her neck and making her body tingle. "I would have liked to see you all dolled up like that."
"I'm sure I looked ridiculous," she says, pulling his arms around her tighter.
She imagines, for a moment, if it had been Emmett waiting for her at the end of aisle. She can picture his face at that moment, because if anyone would be ecstatic on his wedding day, it would be him. She smiles at the thought of becoming Mrs. Emmett McCarthy, of greeting guests on his arm, of him carrying her over the threshold into their new home (and of what he would do to her when the dress came off).
Suddenly she is plagued by want, so bad and so futile that it threatens to break her. She may have him now, but she will never be that bride, never start a life and grow old with him and their children and she shudders, holding back a sob.
"What's wrong," Emmett asks, and she composes herself, trying to smile.
"I just wish it had been you I was marrying," she says softly, rolling over to trace the lines of his face. Being with him as made her more honest, and she will never – ever – hold anything back from him. "Though I should be grateful that I didn't get married or I would never have met you."
Emmett smiles and leans down to kiss her, pressing her body back into the mattress and threading his hands through her hair.
"We'll just have to pretend we're already married, then," he says huskily, and she believes that's the best compromise they can offer.
The nagging want continues until one cloudy day Esme and she go to town to look at the newest fashions and there, in a window of an upscale boutique, is the most beautiful wedding dress she has ever seen. It's nothing like her own dress and it lacks much of the glamour she would have wanted back then, but it's simple and so perfect she buys it on the spot.
It's not hard to convince Emmett to marry her, though she seems to wound his pride a bit by doing the asking (she promises to make up for it). Edward tells her they're doing it backwards, and she smiles and tells him sometimes you have to do it that way and he should be glad Emmett's making an honest woman of her. Esme and Carlisle, ever the doting parents, help with the preparations, Carlisle going so far as to secure the help of the hospital minister for the ceremony.
On their wedding day, as Esme clips her hair back and secures the veil, she feels uncertain, worried. But the moment she enters the room, and the moment Emmett's eyes find her, she feels like the most beautiful woman in the world.
And that's nothing on how he makes her feel after the ceremony.
"You know," she says one day, "I'm glad that grizzly attacked you."
They are in Alaska, visiting the Denali clan. They have left Edward behind and while she feels sorry for the poor boy (Tanya's advances have escalated over the years) she wants time alone with her husband. Husband. Five years in, it's still a novel concept and she twists the wedding ring on her finger.
"I told you that years ago," Emmett responds, stretching. The dead carcass of a moose is at their feet and the wind is whipping through her hair but she is happy here, with him.
"True," she admits, "but sometimes it bears repeating." She doesn't tell him how happy he makes her because there's no point: he's seen her unravel before him. He already knows.
He embraces her, brushes his lips against her cheek and whispers, "Last one back to the house has to listen to Edward complain."
He takes off in a rush towards the horizon line and she follows, laughing into the artic wind. She will follow him to the ends of the earth, because in Emmett she has found her salvation in this half-life, and she will not give up her happiness for all the world.
Author's Note: One of three, with two more to follow. Thanks to sparklystuff for the beta work :) All of this belongs to SMeyer, not me. Reviews make Rosalie happy :)