Chapter summary: What was I going to do? If she fell off my lap, with her luck, she would probably give herself serious head trauma. I wasn't in the bed with her, so this was okay ... wasn't it?


I woke screaming. We were racing to the outhouse again; I was wrapped in a wet blanket again; my clothes were wet.

Again.

"Almost there," Rosalie said desperately. "Almost there," she repeated.

"NO!" I wailed, jarred awake from the pure Hell of my dream to this pure Hell of realizing that it was all just a dream.

"Just hold ..." Rosalie began, but I was vomiting now, and the stream of it as we raced came to a sudden stop, because we stopped, too. Rosalie held me above the ground, and held my hair from my face, as I regurgitated the soup, and then began dry heaving, but then ...

"Oh, no!" Rosalie exclaimed, and her hand moved from my face and hair down below, where she ripped off my PJ bottoms and lifted up the blanket.

I was still dry heaving, but, well, stuff was dribbling out of me everywhere now. My body just entirely let go, and I made a nice disgusting stinking mess of myself on myself and on the snow-covered forest floor. And, given my luck, on Rosalie, too.

Isn't this just swell.

Eventually my heaving subsided, because there was nothing left for me to heave, and I had no strength left in my body to heave it. Rosalie used my PJ bottoms to wipe off my legs, and then she scooped up the dirty snow in them. With a simple flick of her wrist, she threw that dirty, stinky snow ball far, far away, in the direction of the river, and raced me to the outhouse.

The coals were already there. The pail was already filled with water. The candle was freshly lit. All this had happened already. It was if Rosalie knew this was all going to happen, and she had prepared for it.

Rosalie gingerly set me down on one of the crapper seats.

"Do you need to ...?" Rosalie asked.

I just looked up at her ... I found I could cry again, I was leaking out of my eyes, as well. I swallowed, which set my throat on fire again, but this time it was a different fire. I guess I had been screaming quite a bit, both asleep and awake. My throat was raw.

"I'll wash you," Rosalie said quietly, not looking at me.

And she did. She not only washed my private areas, with soap, but she also lifted me up and washed my legs, too. Then she dried me, gently. The whole time, I was just nothing, just a rag doll in her arms, trapped in the aftershocks of the dream and trapped in the reality of this mess now.

And then she washed my hands. I wondered absently at that, but I felt something wet and sticky on my right hand ... like last night.

You know, I thought it was really bad that I would pee in my dreams and then Rosalie would have to clean that up. I thought it was even worse that I had a dream where I begged Rosalie to have her way with me, only to be woken up by Rosalie and then have her clean me then, too. But to have both things happen in the same dream?

Now I knew I had really hit bottom, because I couldn't imagine a scenario worse than this one.

Her scent didn't help one bit, either. It was so much stronger than usual, it just seemed to be oozing out of her like the smell coming out of an oven baking bread. Her presence filled the whole space, and then overflowed it. It made me recall the last time her scent was this powerful: that night of my last dream when she had to clean me and the whole outhouse. It made me just want to grab her to me and breathe her in. But that wouldn't be right. This Rosalie was not the one of my dreams.

Again.

Rosalie ripped the blanket right down the middle, just like that monster tank of a vampire ... was it Felix? ... ripped her, except she ripped the halves into top half and bottom half, ... or dry half and wet half. She rewrapped me in the dry top half, and we were racing back to the cabin as the bottom half joined my soiled clothes, probably in the river.

Not that it mattered. Not that I cared.

When we reentered the cabin, Rosalie sat me on the bed and retrieved a new blanket and a new pair of panties and PJs for me. She laid the blanket on the bed beside me and extended the clothes to me.

I looked down at the clothes. I knew they were for something, but that didn't seem to matter right now. I looked right back into Rosalie's black eyes, that is, the eyes that were no longer golden, as they were in my dream.

Because that what it was, just a dream.

"Rosalie," I said, ignoring the offered clothes, "take me."

Rosalie froze. She looked at me for a second, blinked, straightened up and crossed her arms.

Now I knew this wasn't a dream. No matter how terrible the consequences, in a dream, at least, she would come to me. In a dream, she wouldn't withdraw like that. She was always pulling back in reality. She was always distancing herself from me when I was awake.

This wasn't a dream.

"I'm ..." she began cautiously, then restarted. "I don't know what you mean."

I looked at her. Wasn't it obvious what I wanted? I guess not, I thought dully, I guess I'll have to make it plain enough for her to understand.

I pulled my hair back from my neck and put my head on the pillow, lying down on top of the bed.

I looked at her. "Rosalie," I repeated, "take me." It'd probably be easier for her to take me if I was lying down on the bed. I realized that I was dressed, or, more correctly, not dressed exactly as I was in my dream, but things were happening so differently here, because ...

Rosalie didn't move.

"I don't know if you know what you're saying," Rosalie said quietly, "or I don't know if I know what you mean." Then she paused and grimaced. "Or both, so, would you please explain exactly what you do mean?"

I sighed.

"You promised, Rosalie," I said sadly. "You promised. You promised you would kill me if this were a dream, and it was, and I know you want my blood more than anything, and I won't need it anymore when I'm dead, so just take me, right now; take every last drop of blood, and let me die, because ..." I was so calm up to this point, but now it was getting harder to breathe. "Because I can't go on any more. So just take me now, Rosalie, so you don't have to be burdened with me anymore."

"Ah, yes," Rosalie said carefully. "So when you say 'take me' you were talking in the sense of earlier today ... that is to say, to drink your blood, yes?"

I looked at her quizzically. "What else would I mean?"

"Hm. Yes, of course. Now I understand: for you, that's all that means. Well. Thank you for your offer, but, as I have explained to you, I do not ..."

"Rosalie," I shouted in frustration, "look!" I coughed. "It doesn't matter anymore, okay? I won't tell anybody, and it'll be a waste, so just get off your high horse and do it. You promised!"

"I made no such promi-..."

"You did!" I screamed. Ouch! I winced. Now my head hurt, too.

Rosalie's face hardened.

"You promised," I whispered.

"I think," Rosalie said, "you need to put on your night clothes, and I think you need to go back to sleep, and we'll talk about this tomo-..."

"Tomorrow!" I screamed. I started coughing in earnest now. I shouldn't have screamed, I guess, but I was sick and tired of ... well, everything. I curled into a ball and squeezed my eyes shut as I coughed.

I felt my upper body being lifted up off the bed into a sitting position as I coughed. When the coughing subsided I looked to see Rosalie sitting on the chair by the bed holding me upright. She held out a cup to me. The smell of honey wafted off of the liquid inside.

"What's the point, Rosalie?" I asked, irritated.

"If it doesn't matter either way, then it won't matter if you do take this," Rosalie responded firmly.

"Can't have a girl coughing while you're drinking her dry?" I asked, my voice filled with sarcasm. I coughed again, which weakened my argument.

Rosalie grimaced and looked away. "Something like that," she whispered.

I sighed, but took the cup, and carefully took a small sip.

It worked wonders immediately, as it had done the last time. But it was still miraculous how the liquid seemed to attach itself to my insides, soothing the rawness I felt inside. Everything inside felt a slight buzz from the liquid, and then it all went numb.

Rosalie switched cups on me. More water. I just shook my head as I took it. I had no idea how anyone could get their jollies out of cleaning up mess after mess like this, but there was just no talking to that set look on Rosalie's face.

I drank some water, following Countess Rosalie's decree. I wonder if she'd be taking a bath tomorrow morning in "hot water" that nobody was allowed to touch. I wonder if I'd be in a large sack. I wonder if she'd throw my remains in the stove to make soap.

"Are you able to dress yourself? Or do you need help?" Rosalie asked, indicating the panties and PJs beside me.

I put on the clothes. I saw that Rosalie looked really uncomfortable; she wasn't looking at me at all.

"All dressed now," I said. "You happy?"

Rosalie looked back at me. "You put your undergarments on backwards," she said. What? Does she have X-ray vision or something?

"Wouldn't be the first time," I answered carelessly, staying right where I was. I didn't care.

But apparently Rosalie did. She just hovered there for second, and then she undressed me and then started to put my panties on me the right way this time.

"Of all the ..." I said. "That really bothers you, doesn't it?"

Rosalie finished dressing me and withdrew to her chair.

"All the things that happen tonight, and you just can't stand that my panties are on backward." I shook my head in disbelief.

"They'd become uncomfortable after a while if they stayed like that," she scolded. Well, she tried to sound scolding, but she also couldn't hide her embarrassment.

She quickly passed me the first cup, helpfully raising it to my lips before I could reply to her.

I carefully took in a few sips of the liquid, and it when down my throat like syrup. I handed the cup back to her, fighting to command my arms to give her the cup. My arms seemed to have turned into wet spaghetti noodles.

The cup didn't quite make it, but I did control its fall onto the bed between us. It even landed right side up, so at least something happened right today.

I hissed at myself and my lack of motor control.

Rosalie took the cup off the bed from my numb hands.

"Thank you," she said calmly.

Rosalie handed me the cup of water, and I finished that. I managed to hand her back to cup ... with her hands meeting mine half-way.

"Now can we do this?" I asked her.

"Now," Rosalie answered, "you can sleep."

I found myself bundled in the new blanket, tucked into bed.

"Rosalie, you just don't get it, do you? What? Do I have to draw you a picture? I go through Hell all day, and then sleep is, like, way worse, but no! Then I wake up, and that's even worse!"

"You say sleep is all like that or something, whatever you said," I spit out. "But it's not! If sleeping is like this, I don't want to go to sleep! And if waking up is like when I wake up, I don't want to wake up! So please spare me the lecture on how I can start over tomorrow, because I can't. I don't know what's real anymore, and I don't know which is worse, so just kill me now, okay?"

"No," said Rosalie.

"What's the problem?" I asked with annoyance. "You're gonna kill me anyway, so just do it now!"

"No," Rosalie said again.

"Arrrrgh!" I shouted. "What the Hell kind of vamp are you anyway? You're all like, ooh, scary, 'I'm going to kill you!' but then you ... just ... don't! And the way you treat me it's all like ..."

I stopped here. I didn't know anymore how she treated me, because I didn't know the difference between my dreams and reality any more. I didn't know what I thought she thought and what she was actually doing any more.

I didn't know anything any more.

"Please, Rosalie," I begged, "just kill me. I can't stand this any more, and I just want it to stop."

"But it won't," Rosalie responded sadly.

"What?" I asked utterly confused by the look on her face.

"If I were to kill you now," she said, "I would be suborning your suicide," she said. "You know, there's a special circle in Hell reserved for those who commit violence to themselves, and do you know what happens there?"

I sighed.

"What happens there," she continued, "is that every missed chance that person had is shown to them, over and over again. What's worse, it's shown what would have happened if you had continued to live, how you would have helped somebody, or saved somebody's life, but then the reality is shown, that, because you are dead, because you chose to die, all these terrible things followed. Every one who loved you is brought before you, too. Your father would be placed in front of you, tears coming from his eyes, telling you how much he misses you now, over and over again, for all Eternity."

"If I killed you now," she concluded quietly, "it wouldn't stop; I would only be sending you to a place where every worst thing that ever happened to you would go on without cessation, and, perhaps worse, all the joys and hopes you would have experienced would be shown to you, but you would never be allowed to sample them, whereas if you had lived, they all would have been yours."

"Rosalie," I said just as firmly, "you are describing to me exactly what I'm going through right now. What you're saying to me can't be any worse than now, and it's not going to get any better. It just isn't, so, just please ..."

"So you've had a couple of accidents in bed." Rosalie's reasoning voice interrupted me. "Certainly embarrassing, but nothing over which to extinguish one's life."

"It's not that, Rosalie," I said. "Well, not only that," I grimaced to her reproachful face. "It's what I've been dreaming. It's just so real, don't you understand that, Rosalie? I don't know anymore what's real and what isn't, and I don't ..."

I swallowed hard and looked away from that perfect face.

"Do you know the worst part of my dream, Rosalie? Can I tell you what was the worst?" I pleaded.

Her silence was the only answer.

"The worst part," I whispered, "was that you were so happy! You were just so happy, Rosalie, and I was just ..." my throat got stuck. "Oh, God!" I gulped. "I was just so happy for you, Rosalie." I shook my head. "I was just so happy for you."

Two more tears wet my pillow. Another thing to burn, I thought, hating my now-human-again weakness.

"And that didn't tell you that you were dreaming?" Rosalie asked with a raised eyebrow.

"But it didn't have to be a dream. It doesn't. Don't you understand? You could just ..." I looked away from those not-filled-with-joy eyes.

"I don't understand," Rosalie said quietly. "Would you explain, please? You've told me your dreams before, tell me what's troubling you now ... maybe we can work through this despair of yours?"

I dared a glance at her. Concern radiated from her. I buried my head under my pillow. Telling her all about this dream? About her? And me?

The embarrassment just might kill me, but what would be worse is if it didn't kill me, and there would be Rosalie knowing and me, being alive knowing that she knew, and her avoiding me, giving me looks, shaking her head at me, for, like, forever.

Ugh.

"No," I finally responded, firmly.

"Well, then, that's my answer, too. If you don't tell me what's so important that you have to die, then I'm not going to assist your suicide." She added firmly: "I wouldn't do that, anyway."

"Jeez!" I shouted, throwing my pillow aside. "What does a girl have to do to get herself killed around here?"

"Actually," Rosalie arose and started putting out the lamps, one by one. "It's been a rather difficult job keeping you alive around here, hasn't it? If it's not a walk in the snow, in socks, then it's strangling yourself with your own sheets? Or maybe a swim in the river after playing tag with wolves? Your ability to find death in the safest of places is truly astounding."

"Yeah, well," I said, rolling my eyes in the darkness, "you're good at everything else, what else could I bring to the relationship?"

Rosalie was silent for a while, and I wondered if I had gone too far. I wondered if she had read more into that statement than what I meant. Whatever I meant.

Which reality was this again?

"Hope," she finally answered in a whisper.

"Well, Rosalie," I said, "I'm plum out of hope, so why don't you just ..."

I felt Rosalie put something soft into my arms, and I felt cotton on my cheek. My sweater ... and it still smelled of her.

"Why don't you just sleep now, and we can talk about this when you've recovered your bearings a bit?" Rosalie's question wasn't so much of a question as it was a command.

"Oh, and this is supposed to make me feel all better, is it?" I demanded.

"I've noticed it gives you comfort, yes," Rosalie answered placatingly.

"So I'm some little girl you can throw her binkit at make her take her nap time?" I asked hotly.

"'Binkit'?" Rosalie asked in confusion.

"Do you see me as some little girl?" I demanded, not letting it go.

"No, you're not a little girl;" Rosalie answered, "you're a big ... what are you doing?"

What I was doing was struggling out of the bundling Rosalie had wrapped me in.

"So, I'm a big girl, huh?" I said as I struggled with my confinement. "Oof!" I exhaled as I gave the blankets another heave. Rosalie sure wrapped me up tightly.

"Yes ..." she said hesitantly, "that doesn't explain ..."

"You gittin' in this bed with me?" I asked.

"No, of course not," she said.

"Well, fine!" I snarled, finally freeing myself of my constraints. I got up shakily and stumbled my way around where I thought the chair was, I had to grab ahold of the shirt Rosalie was wearing by the shoulder and it, and my swaying, swung me right into Rosalie's lap.

It wasn't what I'd call a graceful maneuver, but it got the job done.

I put my head on her cold shoulder and wrapped my arms around her smooth neck.

"Um," Rosalie said.

I couldn't stop the smile that forced it's way onto my face. I didn't want to. Prim and proper Rosalie said 'um'! This, definitely, was a victory for me to record in my journal, and she could read that note as many times as she wanted to. Serves Miss Nosey right!

"What!" I demanded. "I'm a big girl. You said we'll talk after I sleep, I told you I couldn't sleep without you holding me, but, no, Miss 'Oh, I'm too whatever to get into bed with you' Hale can't handle that, so here I am. Besides, can't have me strangling myself in the sheets or peeing on them, again, thanks to you and all that water you gave me. Problems?"

"Well, ..." Rosalie began.

"Didn't think so!" I snarled.

Rosalie sighed. "You make this all so hard!"

"Oh, Rosalie Hale, poor vampire me!" I moaned sarcastically, closing my eyes, very comforted and comfortable, resting on her lap, my soft body molded into her solid one.

"You have no idea!" she growled. But she then wrapped an arm over my shoulder, providing support for my head, and the other encircling my legs and bottom, resting her hand on my lower back.

It felt ... I don't know anymore, given what I've been dreaming. It felt motherly. It felt tender. It felt sweet. It felt ...

I sighed in a breath of her. "Rosalie," I began, "why are you ..."

"Can't have you loosening your grip and breaking your head open before the morrow, now can we?" she demanded tightly.

"Yeah," I answered, "that would be a real shame ... and a first: me getting my way instead of you getting yours."

"It would be a real shame," Rosalie chided, "and is that how you see it? The only way you can advance your aims is to subvert mine?"

"Oh, Jesus Christ!" I murmured, smirking to myself, pleased that she couldn't whack me, being all tied up as she was, holding me.

She didn't, but she shifted her shoulder, forcing my head down into a little bow.

I sighed. She always had to win, didn't she? Even when she couldn't possibly win, she still won.

"Yeah, yeah," I complained softly into her shoulder. "Well, you enjoy your little victory now, 'cause starting tomorrow? We're gonna start playin' by my rules!"

"Your rules, is it?" Rosalie asked amused.

"Yup," I replied nonchalantly.

"The law girl is now invoking her executive mandate. This should be entertaining."

"Yup," I said again.

"Actually ..." she said, still sounding pleased at her little head-bowing victory and the thought of me laying down the law. I felt her reach out to the bed and rewrap me in the blanket. "You'd freeze if you stay in my embrace without some covering," she explained.

It was quiet for a moment. She was so cool, but that actually was nice, given that the fire was making the cabin a sauna, the blanket rewarmed the cool bits of my body pressed against the clothes she wore.

"As long as you don't mind adding this blanket to the burn pile after I pee all over it, since you can't seem to get me to the potty in time," I mumbled, falling deeper into the restful not-caring of sleep.

"Hm, yes, burning a blanket or resuscitating a girl succumbing to hypothermia ... the former seems a smaller price to pay."

"What happened this time, Rosalie?" I asked, feeling my eyebrows crease in confusion.

"I was ... distracted ... again ..." Rosalie responded hesitantly.

I think my eyebrows touched. "How could you be? Weren't you right here? What distracted you?"

Rosalie didn't answer.

That woke me right up.

"You were in my dream!" I exclaimed, looking up from her shoulder.

I couldn't see anything in the blackness, but I felt her stiffening.

"I have no idea what you're talking abou-..." Rosalie indignantly tried to deny what I was saying, but I saw right through her.

"You read my mind!" I shouted, and I felt Rosalie wince away from me, so I spoke more softly, but still very excitedly. "You read my mind, and then you put yourself in my dream! You did! Oh, my God, Rosalie, you were there! You really ..."

Rosalie sighed and put her hand to my head, gently resting it against her shoulder. "No," she answered definitively, "I didn't do this." Then she said more kindly: "You may have dreamed of me, I suppose, but I didn't manipulate what you dreamed. You dreamed what you dreamed, that is all."

"No, Rosalie, you were there!" I held onto my position fiercely. "You were there, and you called me 'Lillian'! And you said ..."

I felt the laughter bubble through Rosalie's body.

"'Lillian'?" She exclaimed. "Why would I call you that? You aren't me; I'm not you. That's not your name at all! Again, you were so very wrong. Besides, what if we were to come across others? That name is my alias, not yours. Two companions named 'Lillian'? Much too noticeable. No, my dear girl, that's not it at all."

"It was 'Lillian'!" I said petulantly. "You said."

Rosalie sighed. "Look, sleep now, and tomorrow I will show you the word 'Lillian' in the dictionary to demonstrate how ill it befits you. Your new name is not 'Lillian.' You'll still need to earn your true name, prescient dreams notwithstanding."

This hurt. But then I realized something else.

"Rosalie!" I said, struggling to lift my head against her immovable hand. It didn't work: my head stayed glued to her shoulder. "The Volturi, they're after you ... and the Cullens!"

"Yes," she said, "any interaction with mortals, other than the usual," she added distaste to the last phrase, "is forbidden, but not to worry, I have contingencies in place."

"No, Rosalie! It's not that! They called you, um, they called you 'eaters of something not nice.' You and the Cullens! They're going to kill you for that! We have to warn them!" I cried, growing distressed.

"What we have to do right now is that we have to sleep. Right now." Rosalie commanded authoritatively, nestling me closer to her in her embrace.

I was concerned before, but her hugging me like this? It felt nice.

It felt really, really nice.

I felt the line between reality and my dreams blurring into a cloudy nothing that I couldn't distinguish anymore.

And I didn't care.

"You will warn them?" I queried, closing my eyes again, nuzzling her shoulder with my cheek.

"Passing your message along is right up on the top of my to-do list," Rosalie said quietly but exasperatedly.

"So you're gonna go back to them afterwards?" I asked curiously ... and a bit sadly.

Rosalie was silent.

"Rosalie ..." I began.

I felt her chest go up and go back down with her sigh.

"What're yuh gonna do afterwards?" I asked. I felt the medicine of her honeyed voice, or whatever it was stealing over even my ability to speak.

She couldn't be on her own, right? She probably had never been on her own. Her, being on her own? Wouldn't she be lonely? Who would she have to boss around?

"This, really, is so far out of what concerns you, I really don't know how to dignify it with any answer at all." I could just feel Rosalie's impatience with me. "What you need to do now is to give that pretty head of yours a rest by sleeping."

"Yuh really thing I'm pretty?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes," she responded.

"That's nice." I smiled. "Ya know, nobody else things I'm pretty."

"That you are unable to say the word 'thinks' just proves that you're asleep already." Rosalie's voice was a bit testy now.

"Hey, now! Don' make me come over here and kick yur butt!" I warned her. She definitely didn't want a piece of me, I tell ya! It was a good thing she was holding me down, 'cause otherwise she would've gotten a whuppin', what, with her lip and all.

"You already are 'over here' and I actually am more than a bit fearful of what you might damage in your current state."

She did sound a little bit scared, so that was nice to hear.

"Yeah," I said pleased, "I'd bust up the table or chairs pretty good, wouldn't I?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of internal organ damage or you breaking your own bones ..."

I growled. "Jes' you wait. Remind me when today is tomorrow, and I will definitely kick your butt."

"All right," she answered easily, "when 'today' is 'tomorrow', I'll remind you of that. I'll even remind you to make your own rules ... when 'today' is 'tomorrow', but you? 'Kicking my butt,' as you say? That will only be happening in another one of your dreams."

I knew that somehow she was making fun of me or teasing me, but I couldn't figure it all out. I was just too tired, anyway. Too tired and too comfy in Miss Teasy-Mocky-Vampy's arms.

"Well, you say I'm asleep now, right? Then this is a nice dream, you holdin' me." I answered, my smile returning.

"Sleep now, please, before you say something else you probably will not remember in the morning," Rosalie pleaded.

"So I can say anything I want to, and it'll be okay?" I challenged.

Hm. And I thought to myself, Self! 'cause that's what I call myself when I'm talking to myself, self, I sez, now I can say it!

Rosalie was on to me: "Go," she enunciated each word, "to," with displeasure, "sleep."

"I can't," I whined, chickening out at her imperious tone.

Rosalie sighed, then very softly sang a lullaby my grandmother sang to me, years and years ago:

Guten Abend, gute natch, mit Rosen bedacht ...

And with her cradling me in her strong arms, with me wrapped in the toasty warm blanket? I was out before she reached the second line, but I wondered ... was 'rosen' ... did that mean Roses?

Whatever it meant, I hoped I dreamed of her again, 'cause this time, I was gonna push her into the river.

Let's see how she likes that!


Chapter end notes:

Not in the purview of this or the last chapter, but I do address the question of the Cullen's lifestyle as to how other vampires might consider it an abomination worthy of eradication in my blog at twilight-dad(dot)blogspot(dot)com. The title of the entry is "Cullen's 'noble' choice?"

A 'binkit' is a sure way to help ease a child (or dinosaurs) to sleep (a binkit is also sometimes called a 'blanky' or 'blanket'), especially ones concerned about scary monsters. Failing that, Brahm's Lullaby, of course, is guaranteed to put a sleepy (and, erhm, 'medicated') girl of Germanic descent to bed. Works every time.

Now, as for hugging vampires for solace ... Usually not very successful, in fact, a study of literature shows that ... hm? What? You are telling me that all literature published these days say hugging vampires is sweet and comforting?

Le sigh.

This chapter has provided inspiration for the writer MazingEnglishGirl's "Take Me; Leave Me" chapter in her story Fools in Love.