Chapter summary: Something is very wrong. My transformation hadn't gone this badly. Is she fighting it so hard that she's killing herself before the venom changes her?

Warning: The last chapter was bad. This chapter is worse. Graphic and explicit. Not for the squeamish.


Day two, late afternoon:

This is bad. This is very bad.

The girl had begun convulsing. Something was going very, very wrong.

Edward, where are you?

And why did Carlisle have to work today? Couldn't he have taken today off from the hospital? Why did they entrust this girl's life to me? How could they possibly think I could handle this responsibility? Didn't they see that something unexpected would happen?

"H-help!" she cried.

I rung my hands. I didn't know what to do. I reached for the washcloth in the water basin … then I heard it.

She screamed, and then the scream turned into a gurgle, and then that gurgle turned into vomit.

She sprayed vomit right up into the air, hurling it, projecting it, more than three feet straight up, and it came right back down all over her face and bodice.

And she kept vomiting.

Then she started to choke on her own bile.

Quickly I loosed the restraints binding her wrists — I had to risk that she would claw out her own eyes, because choking to death now was a worse option — and I sat her up, cradling her head into my chest.

Thankfully her throat cleared, but that meant that my blouse was now covered in what she just ate.

What she just ate smelled like digested food … and there's no smell more putrid for a vampire than that. Not even cooked food, which was so disgusting in its smell I swore I would never cause myself to go near a smell like that again. Thankfully Carlisle and Edward seemed to prefer their steaks tartar these days.

But the smell coming from her? The bile covering me?

Actually, after the initial shock, that, surprisingly for me, I didn't need to suppress a gag reflex — I didn't have one, it appears — I found that I didn't mind it at all. You hold a baby boy in your arms after he feeds and you discover that his burp sometimes contains a lot more than air. And when he screws up his face? Then the look of relief? A sure sign you need to check the diaper, which has more often than not leaked more than a bit onto you.

Did I mind that? No, it connected me more to my baby. I minded it when that stopped … because that's when he stopped, and became still … and cold.

So when Rosalie vomited on me? Strange as it sounds, I suddenly felt a stronger tender connection to her in that moment of her weakness.

Then, when Rosalie's stream of bile stopped and turned to dry heaving? That didn't stop? But just kept going and going and going?

I didn't know who I consoling more with my murmured words as I held her ribs from exploding out of her body: her, … or me.

That's when the front door opened.

Edward, help! I begged as loudly as I could in my mind.

Edward was down in a flash, bless is lightning speed. Rosalie didn't hear him or see him standing in the door, because she was still dry heaving, helplessly, into my blouse, my arms holding her to me and holding her together.

Edward surveyed the mess with distaste.

What's happening? I asked in a panic.

Edward looked at me quizzically.

I don't remember this happening to me, I clarified, something's going horribly wrong; how do we save her?

Edward shook his head, pityingly. He responded in our voice, a voice that a vampire could hear, but that human ears, ears that Rosalie still had, couldn't.

He said: "You don't remember this, Esmé, because you were clinically dead for the first two days: Carlisle massaged your heart that whole time, your heart only beat on its own the last day … the worst day."

"This isn't the worst?" I asked incredulously.

Edward just shook his head sadly and was about to say something, but Rosalie's dry heaving stopped, and she whimpered.

It was the saddest sound in the world … that is, until she whispered: "Water…"

"Edward, …" I began, but then Edward cut me off.

"Don't give her anything," he said fiercely.

"What?" I demanded, shocked.

I wondered: where was his heart? Where did the Edward that I know and love … where did he go?

"Her stomach has been … altered," Edward explained. "You give her anything — water, or anything — it'll come right back up and it will only cause her more pain."

Edward looked at me seriously: "You give her water, and you'll only be hurting her."

"Water, …" Rosalie begged. "Please!"

"Edward," I said to him, "what do I do? How can I help her?"

Edward regarded me stonily from the doorway. "You can't. Unless you kill her now."

I gasped.

"But there's a chance the transformation's gone too far already, and we'll have to take more forceful measures to make sure she doesn't regen-…"

"Edward," I held up my hand, "thank you; we won't be doing that, okay?"

Edward shrugged as Rosalie begged again: "Oh, God, please: water!"

"How can you stand this?" I asked Edward.

Edward regarded me.

"Do you want me to take over?" he asked. "It only gets worse from here."

I glared at him.

"It's not a weakness, Esmé, you've done enough; Carlisle and I can take care of the rest."

I felt my shoulders square. "No, but thank you, Edward; I can do this."

I was not going to abandon this girl — my girl, my new daughter — because I am weak. I am a mother. I am strong. I know of self-sacrifice. I would be willing to give my life for my child … because I did. I could take on her suffering and bear it. I could do this for her. She would be loved — she would be loved by me! — and she would know that love from the very first moment that I became aware of her need. I would not abandon her. I will never do that.

Edward looked at me as if I were a new person, not as weak little Esmé to be coddled, but a strong person, an equal.

But then he grimaced. "I never saw you as weak, Esmé."

I sighed at Edward and his mind-reading.

Edward rolled his eyes. "Is there anything I can get you?" he asked solicitously.

New clothes … I thought, new clothes for both of us would be good.

Edward nodded, and as he left, he said: "I'll get her two sets, just in case."

Just in case what? I wondered.

Edward's knowing voice floated back to me: "You'll see."

I didn't have time to meditate on this, however, because Rosalie was frantically clawing at her foot restraints. I was amazed at her, stunned, in fact, that she had that kind of strength to be able to concentrate on getting her hands to move with any direction at all through her pain.

"Honey," I said, "we have to keep these on, to protect you from yours-…"

Her shriek interrupted me: "I have to … I have to … I HAVE TO …"

I removed the restraints from her ankles, ripping the leather off with a simple twist of my hand.

"What do you have to do?" I asked. I figure I could risk whatever she did, as the restraints seemed to be driving her mad.

She fell of the table into a heap on the floor, and started crawling.

"I have to …" she repeated.

Then a stench much worse than the vomit covering us both reached my nostrils.

I saw what she obviously had to do from the wet stain spreading from the seat of her dress.

I picked her up, tearing off her dress and sat her on the crapper that had never been used in this shelter by any of the current residents until now. I don't even think she noticed or felt the need to be embarrassed when I ripped the soiled undergarments from her body, as she was so lost as she defecated uncontrollably.

"I'm so sorry, dear," I apologized, "I … just didn't know that … I just haven't needed to …"

She held onto me, and I, her, for a long time, and she screamed and cried as first her bowels emptied themselves completely, and then her bladder followed suit.

I heard a surprised 'Oh!' by the door frame, but when I looked I just saw a pile of neatly folded clothes by the door.

Edward probably saw more than his young gentleman eyes were accustomed to seeing. He probably retreated the second he came into the room. I couldn't hold his squeamishness against him, however. But I didn't have time dwell on this, as I had a much more delicate creature to tend to at present.

"Honey, I'm sorry," I apologized again. "I'm so sorry, but let me wash you, and put some new clothes on you, okay?"

Rosalie looked somewhere, not at me at all. Her eyes had a million-mile stare.

Her silence was deafening. She wasn't screaming nor moaning, she was frozen, transfixed by something.

Then her head snapped around to me, and she stared me dead in the eye, and she grasped her stomach with both her hands.

"Oh, my God! OH, MY GOD!" she wailed, then she screamed desperately: "Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!"

"Honey," I said consolingly, but her tone scared me a little bit: "it can't stop, it has to run its …"

"MY BABIES!" she screamed. "It's EATING MY BABIES!"

Then I realized that her hands weren't over her stomach; they were over her womb.

This moment was one I must have definitely missed during my own change, and now I was very glad I had missed it. Having just had my own baby die in my arms? And then this?

I carefully drew her into me. I couldn't think about myself now; I had to be strong for her.

"I'm so sorry, honey," I said, "I'm so sorry."

I don't know if she heard me at all, as she was sobbing and crying onto my shoulder. She kept repeating 'my babies' mournfully as she cried.

I let her have her cry, sitting on the crapper that I flushed to remove most of the odor, for soon she would not be able to cry … not anymore. Not after the venom ate away her eyes and her tear ducts.

But I also needed to help her, too. And me covered in her vomit? And her covered in that and her own excrement? This couldn't be helping her at all. I lifted her from the seat she would never need to use again and brought her to the shower stall. I ripped off the remainder of her clothes and my own, throwing them all into the burn bag, and rinsed then soaped then rinsed us both thoroughly.

She is such a beautiful girl. The bruises and wounds from the beating she received at the hands of those beasts were starting to be subsumed by the transformative effect of the venom, and her true beauty was coming back to the fore. I couldn't wait to see her face when the cigarette burn was gone from the iris and the bruising was gone from there, too. I pictured her beautiful human face and already saw how the slimming effect of the venom on her face would make her indescribably beautiful: the sculptures of the Greek goddesses wouldn't hold a candle to the beauty my daughter would have.

My daughter. I savored the phrase in my mind. My daughter.

My daughter whose head was bent in sadness as she continued to cry through the shower as she would sigh a whisper now and then: 'my babies.'

And then her whispered words changed, but not for the better: "I want to die," she cried out in despair, "Oh, God! Let me die, please!"

The poor dear. Her only joy taken from her before she even had a chance to experience it. For me, at least I had Carlisle in this new existence to give me something to look beyond my own terrible loss. I hope … careful now! … well, I hope our family would give her meaning in her new existence. I hope, as a new mother to a new daughter I never knew I wanted, that I could give her the love she needed to …

"Esmé," Edward's indignant voice whispered from beyond the closed door, "you can't do this. What if she'll have nothing to do with us? You can't force us on her."

I sighed. Yes, Edward, I answered him in my mind. I understand this. I was given the same option, and her choice may not be mine: she may choose to strike out on her own instead. I understand this — I don't have to like understanding it, however — but I will let her know that she is welcomed and loved here, and will be for as long as she chooses to stay, and, if she leaves, every day she's gone, and as soon as she returns I'll be waiting for her, as I waited for you, with open arms and heart.

Edward sighed in return. "Esmé," he whispered a bit angrier, "you can't smother a person like that, you just have to …"

"You just have to run along, Edward," I said a bit more forcefully.

That boy and his very strange view of ethics just gives me a headache sometimes.

"What?" Rosalie asked me in confusion, moved beyond herself.

I smiled at her, "It's nothing, sweetheart, I just …"

Then she doubled over and screamed, right back in her agony again.

Do you know how hard it is to dress yourself with a screaming girl a bit taller than you clinging to you? Hard, isn't it? Now imagine dressing her too as she convulses in her agony.

"Honey," I said after I somehow managed to dress her, "I'm going to take you back to the table now, okay? It's better if you're lying down. Do you understand me?"

Rosalie jerked herself away from me, viciously. It did nothing, as her still human strength was nothing compared to mine.

"Sweetie, …" I began consolingly to the jerking frame.

Her struggle did nothing, but her words worked: "Don't call me that! Don't touch me! LET ME GO!"

And she screamed in agony.

I let her go. Hurt. Stung.

She crumpled to the floor, crying, writhing in agony.

"I…" I began, but I didn't know what to say. I turned to the door to leave her be.

"Don't leave me! DON'T LEAVE ME!" she wailed.

I turned back, because I felt it. My heart seemed physically to leave my body and go out to her. It was almost as if I actually saw it happen.

I lay down on the ground, right next to her.

"I'm here," I whispered, "I'm here … Rosalie."

She turned into me and grabbed me into her with all her frail might. I cautiously wrapped her in my arms, ready to let her go if she demanded it.

"Hurts," she whimpered. "It hurts."

"I know, honey," I said. "I know."

"Make it go away, please!" she begged.

"I can't," I said sadly.

She just cried and cried into my shoulder.

And I held her, and I let her cry.

And she held me, the only strength she could grasp.

And I let her hold me, and was strong for her to let her draw strength from the inexhaustible well of me.

And I held her.


Chapter End Notes: Rosalie's perspective as she loses her 'babies' in this story is presented in my story "Rose by a Lemon Tree" (rlt), ch 12 ("The Soul: the Singer — II: Family Time"). Please note, however, that rlt is AU, that is, not canonical, but this piece can be interpreted strictly canonically (but fits perfectly fine in the msr/rlt canon). Also note that rlt is a companion piece to my story "My Sister Rosalie" (msr), and reading rlt doesn't make much sense if you haven't read past ch 24 ("Rain by a Rose Garden) of msr.