Disclaimer: The Twilight universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. The title is from the Damien Rice song.

A/N: A character study of Rosalie.

9 Crimes

There are few people in her life that have ever bothered to try to understand her bitterness. She knows that it makes her ugly, that her harsh words and unpleasant disposition mar her physical beauty, but she can't figure out how to change it.

She used to wear the anger as armor, used to find it necessary to survive her hellish eternity. She was stuck, forever stuck, in that one horrible day. She was violated, her dreams were crushed, and her life was taken. Rosalie was denied everything. Every basic bit of comfort that someone with her experiences should be afforded was taken from her.

She couldn't sleep, couldn't wake up in some pure day with a chance to start over. She couldn't move past it, couldn't put it behind her, because that violation was both her last and first memory. And so, as her everlasting day wore on, the armor became her skin, the bitterness seeped into her essence, and even as her physical body had become more beautiful, she only grew uglier.

Only Esme had a shadow of an idea in those early years. Only she could understand what it was to simply be stuck, to feel like a product of some best-forgotten violence. Only she could understand what it was to be denied motherhood. And in those days, it was only Esme that could see past the armor, could see what was left of Rosalie's fragile skin. Only Esme bothered to look harder, to see the frightened girl, to see the reasons for her unending torture.

Esme gave her simple care, loving warmth. She gave her a shoulder without ever prying, without ever asking for more or different or better. She admonished her gently when Rosalie got out of hand, loving her without pitying her. Esme pitied her situation but never her. She allowed Rosalie to retain all of her dignity.

Rosalie only survived the years before Emmett because of Esme.

She hated to look in the mirror at first. She longed for a change, for lines to form, for something to remove her from the girl she was that day. She thought that killing Royce and his friends would help but she came home and looked in the mirror and was the same girl. How could she move on when her life was stuck, when her worst memory was her most vivid one?

Rosalie went to Edward when Emmett came. She and Edward had never gotten along. Reading her thoughts didn't mean he understood them and she was happier, in those days, to shove everyone away, to be exactly what he thought she was, shallow and bitter and mean. But Emmett was worth bridging the gap, so she went to Edward.

He'd taken one look at her, at her face, at her wringing hands, at all that vulnerability. Her armor was down. She was there with a simple question. "Why me?"

Her thoughts told him the rest of the story. She had thought Royce was decent too, had thought maybe there could be love there, had never imagined he could hurt her. And her heart told her that Emmett was different, that he loved her completely, that it had little to do with her physical beauty and everything to do with the woman he saw when she let her armor down.

But to let her armor down for good, with anyone, was a huge risk. Maybe the biggest risk, and no matter how much she wanted him, wanted a true partner, she wanted some modicum of reassurance. Edward just offered her a soft smile, a rare, fleeting moment of simple love and understanding. "He's not the same," he said.

And that was all she needed.

She and Edward might have their differences more than they had their similarities, but he'd never lie, would never hurt her so irreparably.

So with one person, her armor was forgotten. Emmett stood with her in the mirror and she saw that different reflection she was looking for, that something else that separated who she was from that one defining memory. He brought happiness to a life that had been so defined by tragedy and he loved her when she thought herself unloveable.

They were openly affectionate because it was safe. Emmett was her safety. She didn't care who saw or knew because if Emmett was to be her one reward, the one true good in her life, she was going to enjoy him and love him with reckless abandon.

She imagined their child often, allowed that old hurt to wrap itself around her until it touched him, until he ached for wanting to give her what he never could. And try as she might, she couldn't shake off the want. She couldn't help thinking that Royce was continuing to take from her, that her violation was absolute.

And the armor again became her companion.

Alice and Jasper became her brother and sister nearly effortlessly. Jasper asked nothing of her, wanted nothing of her. He simply wanted Alice and Rosalie found the depth of their love refreshing. They were just as broken as she was and yet they had found a way to become a solid unit. They'd left off the armor and had become shields instead. Jasper was Alice's shield and Alice was Jasper's. And when they were folded together, when they were entwined, they were untouchable.

And in those moments when Alice emerged from the intimate life she had created with Jasper, she was so unapologetically Alice. She wanted to be Rosalie's friend. She saw past the armor and never discounted Rosalie's feelings. Alice didn't roll her eyes or push her away, she just made it clear that she could never understand the depth of her hurt, the agony of that kind of pain. But Alice loved her, sharp claws and all. And Rosalie loved Alice right back. She imagined it was impossible not to love Alice.

Rosalie thought that maybe Jasper understood her better than anyone. His ability rendered her armor useless, allowed him to see exactly how affected she was, to see how she struggled everyday to not be defined by her bitterness. She wondered, often, what it was to wear visible scars like Jasper's, visible reminders of all of his past crimes. She imagined it made it easier for him, that people saw the marks and expected nothing. They understood his pain, his unease because the cause was written across every inch of his skin.

Rosalie's scars were all so deep, all so personal that people simply saw the armor, the bitter words and prickly disposition. And before she could even consider letting them in, they were gone. Some part of her ached for some deep wound, some just healed gash that she could point to and yell, "This is why! This!" But she had nothing except her story, her awful memory

She resented Bella from the start. She resented her for causing trouble, for upsetting their lives. She made things so difficult, compromised their safety, and was intent upon throwing away her humanity. Rosalie couldn't stand that thought. She couldn't stand someone willingly giving away everything for which she had yearned. Telling Edward about Bella jumping off the cliff was a mistake but an honest one. She truly believed that Bella was dead and she truly didn't understand the depths of Edward's feelings.

Rosalie fought to make up for the indiscretion, even dropping her armor, even telling Bella her whole horrific story in the hopes that she might make a real life for herself, that she might see the other side of the fairytale. She had only told the story three other times, to Esme, to Alice, and to Emmett. And they had all loved her first, had all made an effort to see past her bitterness. To Bella, the story was told as a gift, as an apology, as a chance.

When Bella was pregnant, Rosalie knew what Edward thought. She wasn't dumb. She knew he simply thought she wanted Bella dead, that she wanted the child. But in reality, she was doing exactly what she would have wanted someone to do for her. If she was pregnant, she'd want someone who could make the difficult choice. She'd want someone who could put the child first. If she and Emmett could create a child, she'd die for that baby a thousand times.

Renesmee wore at her armor, rendered it nearly useless. She was a miracle child and as much as Rose was desperate to be a mother, she loved being an aunt. It somehow lessened the pain. Watching Nessie grow pacified the violent want, made her seem gentler to those that took the time to look.

Rosalie had once longed for death. She used to imagine a do-over where Carlisle never found her, never changed her, and she was simply allowed to pass on. She could have died, childless and unaware. Instead, she was forced to live childless, ageless. She was doomed to an eternity without the one thing she truly wanted. She was doomed to an eternity of pain and anger.

But her family and her husband had changed that want, had twisted it until she could barely remember that breathless ache. That girl who stood in the mirror searching for change was a stranger to the Rosalie she became.

Knowing that the girl was real, that she had once been even more lost, even more pained gives Rosalie some shred of hope, gives her some reassurance that one day, the bitter girl will be just as much of a stranger. She wants all reminders of Royce to be gone for good, to be exorcised from her body and soul.

Until then, she will be content with the people who have found a way in. She will be content to be sister and daughter and wife and aunt. She will be content to fiercely protect her slice of happiness, to fight for the people she loves.

Until then, she will don her armor, will breathe deeply, and will let others define her by her bitterness.

Because, try as she might, she just can't figure out how to change it.

Note: This is a re-post from my journal but I cleaned it up a bit. For all of you patiently waiting on new RBTL and SRBS...both are coming shortly. I have a deadline this week at work but after that, I will post on both. Maybe sooner for RBTL if I take a work break. :)

Please review!

- Brynna