I originally wrote this as a one-shot, but then got hooked by this process and decided that I'd try to get into all their heads. Rosalie has always intrigued me, and was the first character I wanted to examine. I wanted to explore how and why her attitude towards Bella had taken such a dramatic shift.
On a personal note, there is no way to adequately express my thanks to sunflower-queen for all her help and encouragement with this. I would still be fiddling with this story if not for her... SQ-you're the best!
Epiphanies and Second Thoughts – Rosalie
As the door slammed behind me, I found myself sinking to the floor, shaking violently. In the over seventy years since my change, even during my hunt to annihilate the animals who had destroyed my human life, I had never felt this loss of control.
I concentrated every bit of energy on curbing my somewhat familiar instinct to feed—I say somewhat, because I had not truly thirsted like this for human blood since those early days. But the combination of my recent refusal to hunt until Edward did so, the way my emotions were scattered in the midst of the potential tragedy unfolding in front of me, and the beautiful aroma of Bella's blood wafting temptingly around me had set the stage to reawaken the monster who always inhabited my being. And as I struggled successfully to again shackle the beast, another part of my psyche suddenly came into focus and I had an epiphany.
Maybe I have been wrong this whole time
Random, yet connected, thoughts ran through my mind at the speed of light. Like pressing "fast forward" on an old VCR the images spun, beginning with the call from Bella, their arrival at the airport and the confrontation with Edward that followed.
I saw every moment that had occurred since their return to Forks; Bella's deteriorating health, Edward's and my almost constant snipping and sparring, Carlisle's and Esme's frantic worry, Alice's excruciating pain from the images she still tried desperately to bring into focus, Jasper's exhaustion as he tried to maintain whatever control he could over all our emotions, and Emmett's struggle as he dutifully continued to support his wife despite his intense feelings that this could end disastrously and we would all surely be destroyed.
As the images continued to dance through my head, I saw, interspersed with the more recent memories, some that were older; incidents when I had spoken scornfully of Bella, spoken rudely to Bella, letting her know that I did not approve of this interloper. My perfect recall brought forward incident after incident when I had rudely and uncaringly acted out my ire. Each time I had an opportunity to let her know she did not measure up to my standards, I selfishly took it.
It is no secret in our family that I'm The Selfish One. To be honest, I've worn that title rather smugly over the decades; everyone else has something they excel at, and taking care of ME is my gift. And just as we all know each other's weaknesses, in the same vein, we also exalt in each other's strengths. My family, in the true spirit of familial love, has not only tolerated my selfishness; they have, if not encouraged, at least accepted it graciously. Though each of us has had some sort of personal cross to bear, I am the one who has been given free reign to behave in whatever manner I choose without fear of repercussion. Even Edward, who has always been my fiercest detractor, had always tempered his criticisms of me because of my unfortunate past.
As Edward's love and concern for Bella had developed, he had grown less and less tolerant of my "gift" and had, over time, let me (and the rest of the family) know that he was not going to tolerate any of my thoughts, words or actions that could potentially be of harm to her, whether mentally or emotionally. Certainly if I had been any less "gifted," I would have understood his position, but The Selfish One has never liked being chastised.
So I continued along the path of disdain and scorn in all matters "Bella" and slowly chipped away at my relationship with Edward. While underneath everything we continued to love each other as siblings, I had tested and tortured that relationship until it was almost in tatters. In the last year and a half, I could think of only one time I had acted in a way that earned Edward's approval: when I had said "no" the night Bella asked us to vote our regarding her immortality.
These last weeks, in the aftermath of her phone call from Isle Esme and during the time we've all been together trying to deal with the situation as it has developed, I've had ample time to reflect on my role as Bella's protector, and all that should entail. While my first response to Bella's plea for help was absolute, mind-numbing shock, that soon gave way to an almost euphoric enthusiasm. A baby! It also gave me a purpose and a goal and, unintentionally, a foe: Edward.
So focused have I been on anticipating and countering Edward's negativity about Bella's pregnancy and the baby she and I both desperately needed to see delivered, I've not taken any time to really consider the possibility that things might not work out as Bella and I have planned. To be honest, introspection is not an activity I've regularly participated in.
And as the insanity of the last several minutes played out before me, I was no longer so blithely assured that Edward was wrong and Bella could, with my help, bring forth this child that she and I had both so desperately desired—these last few moments had brought the bitter taste of fear to my mouth. For though I had scornfully wanted nothing but Bella's absence during the first months of her and Edward's relationship, and had quickly fallen back into the habit of considering her with contempt after my (at the time) sincere apology after she rescued him in Italy and had considered her almost a nuisance in the ensuing months (until the moment I received her frantic phone call), I now saw with frightening clarity that, if today's events ended tragically for Bella and/or the baby, they would also surely end tragically for Edward and the rest of our family.
Why had I not considered that possibility before this moment?
It had become glaringly obvious to all of us that Bella's path through this experience would end one of two ways: she would be immortal, or she would be dead. I had steadfastly believed that Bella could carry this child, even in the face of her dizzyingly accelerated pregnancy, and in those first 24-36 hours after her phone call, I had even assumed she could carry and deliver the baby and still stay human; Pollyanna-ish, maybe, but who would have foreseen how things would progress?
Once faced with the rapid progression of things, I tried to maintain that Bella could survive the birth considering the wealth of knowledge and experience in things both medical and vampire that are at our disposal, but the information Emmett and Jasper had gathered regarding the rumors and legends of other possible vampire/human births had forced me to modify that opinion.
For a while now, it was generally expected by all of us that Bella would be changed after the delivery, considering the devastating birth process we were anticipating. Carlisle had led the way in preparing for this "special delivery" and was even now (in addition to hunting) completing several tasks he had undertaken in pursuit of our collective goal. I had persistently refused to entertain the idea that there could be any negative outcome to this whole situation.
Okay, I admitted to myself, that's not completely true. Several times the small, intrusive thought of "what if Bella dies?" had knocked on the door to my consciousness. I had quickly cast out those thoughts when they occurred—having a mind reader for a brother will help anyone to develop the ability to banish inopportune thoughts quickly, and Edward and I were in a desperate struggle as it was; I didn't need to add any fuel to his fire. I would refocus myself each time; checking on Bella, reassuring Bella, tending to Bella's needs.
My mind now figuratively shuddered at the seductive image of me with an infant held tenderly in my arms, Emmett bent protectively over us, the rest of our family looking on lovingly. In the past seventy-odd years since being sentenced to this half-life, that vision had maintained a ghost-like existence in the recesses of my mind, taunting me in moments of weakness. Each time it had made an appearance, reminding me of my eternal loss, I had ruthlessly banished it to the nether reaches of my psyche, unable to bear the anguish that I felt.
Alone in the hallway, however, with no one to observe my introspection, I admitted to myself that I had entertained moments since Bella's phone call when I allowed myself to acknowledge that haunting vision. And though I now mentally winced at my callousness at doing so, my own silent heart admitted to the intense yearning that I had experienced in recent days; a vision I would once have moved heaven and earth to experience, if I'd had the power to do so.
But I didn't have that power, and it was neither right nor reasonable to continue to dwell on thoughts of the vision, however seductive and inviting. In light of what was happening on the other side of the wall I found myself leaning against, I now feared that I might live to experience that reality, though only in part.
Because if fate had conspired to deliver to the Cullen family a new baby, but separate that baby from its mother, there would be no peaceful happiness. The Cullen family as we've known it will cease to exist. I know that now.
If Edward and Jacob were able to save Bella but not the baby, she would mourn for eternity. Edward would mourn with her for the loss of the child, and for her because she would never be truly happy again.
If they saved the baby but lost Bella, Edward would certainly be bent on self-destruction, and would possibly be gone even before Carlisle, Esme and Emmett returned—nothing any of us could do would stop him from following her. We all had learned in March that Edward had no intention of existing on this earth without his Bella at his side.
And if, God forbid, we lost Bella and her child, and therefore Edward, I realized I didn't know how we could exist as a family. The depth of loss would be too much to comprehend.
At one time I might have been reluctantly, guiltily content to entertain thoughts of filling my own maternal void with her child, but I had unwittingly-maybe even unwillingly-formed a bond with Bella, and those errant thoughts were no longer welcome in my mind. The stab of fear that ran through my being as I heard the sound of Bella's womb separating from her body had turned my already cold countenance to ice.
These everlasting, torturous days filled with worry had given me an opportunity I had never really had; never really wanted. I developed a relationship with my human sister-in-law. I was able to recognize the strength she had, strength she shared with my brother. I could appreciate the commitment she made to carry to carry her child to term, despite the agony it caused Edward, despite her own agony to find herself at odds with her husband. I had grown to love her. Not as Alice did, of course, but in my own way. We were truly sisters now.
So I found myself sitting against a wall in our home amid the sounds of my brother and his former rival, linked in a desperate struggle to save the lives of the woman they both loved and the child she had fought so hard to bring into the world. I could still smell the enticing scent of Bella's blood, but was no longer tempted to partake; I wished only for her to live. And for the ability to somehow, somehow, make all our dreams come true.
But though I may be a mythical creature, I had no power (beyond my selfishness); I was under no delusions. No fairy would appear and make things all better, no miraculous event would make things right….unless Edward and Jacob were the instruments of said miracle.
And the cold, hard truth of the matter was that if Bella died, my guilt would know no bounds. I'd encouraged and assisted her from the beginning, and I would pay a penance for eternity if she perished
Saying "I'm sorry" is completely inadequate in such a situation.
My head had been propped against the wall as I leaned against it, but I now lowered it into my hands as a tearless sob welled up from my chest. I wished with all my might for Esme's calm hand on my shoulder, her soothing voice to comfort me as I looked into a possibly desolate future. I craved Carlisle's presence; how different things might be if he was here to lead the way. Mostly, though, I yearned for the reassuring feeling of my mate's arms encircling me, the wonderful scent of Emmett filling me with security, the glow of his love a balm to my shattered, silent heart.
Please, God. Help them. Please. Please.
Would He listen to a plea from a creature such as myself? I could only hope.
"Renesmee…" My brain registered the sound of Edward's awed voice, and my attention shifted instantly from my inward focus to the room where our family drama was being played out. I realized I had not been actively listening to any sounds from the room behind me in the minutes I had hovered here in the hallway, so distracted was I by my mental musings.
A girl! A gasp of relief left my lips as Edward's tone of voice told me without words that the baby had been safely delivered. As I slowly raised my head from my hands, I heard another voice: Bella's. "Let me….give her to me," I heard her say haltingly. No sooner had my head straightened than it fell again into my hands, and another sob rose to my lips.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you..." My lips formed the words, and my countenance was filled with relief and joy. I was taken aback at the lack of panic that I might have anticipated hearing from the site of such frenzy only moments before. Bella continued tenderly, tiredly. "Renesmee…so beautiful." Then Edward's voice gently scolded; "No, Renesmee." As I rose from my position on the floor to see what was happening. I heard Bella gasp. My still heart lurched in another jolt of fear. What was happening?
Even from outside the room, I could feel the charge of electricity that suddenly radiated. "What are you waiting for?" I heard the dog growl. I quickly turned the handle of the door and opened it to see the room much like it had looked as I exited only moments before. With one exception. In the midst of the blood and insanity, my brother held a wet, bloody, beautiful baby girl.
"Take the baby," Edward said to Jacob urgently, but the dog was bent over Bella, furiously compressing her chest; frantic. Without even sparing a glance at the baby or the man, he said "Throw it out the window."
I quickly stamped down my furious urge to throw him out the window, or maybe tear him limb from limb. I could see the unmitigated panic on Edward's face as his mind appeared to struggle with thought of how to save his wife; what to do with his daughter.
His daughter. Bella's daughter.
Ouch. An errant twinge of jealousy flickered through my mind, but it was gone before I even made a move to expel it from my brain.
I approached him quickly, but calmly. "I've got it under control. Give me the baby, Edward. I'll take care of her until Bella..." He flashed a look of apprehension and hesitant gratitude at me and, reassured, handed off his newborn daughter. He turned back to Bella the instant I had Renesmee in my hands.
As he reached for the syringe he had prepared with his venom and prepared to plunge it into Bella's heart, I turned away and moved quickly toward the door, reaching to the table where we had been putting supplies in preparation for the baby's birth. I grabbed a couple of blankets Alice had purchased and made ready for the delivery, and headed toward the hallway with my precious cargo, worried about Bella, but completely overwhelmed by the feelings Renesmee was inspiring in my still heart.
Pulling the door closed behind me, I stood for a moment and gazed at the little miracle in my arms. Bella's eyes stared at me from Renesmee's dainty face, dark chocolate with bristly dark lashes. Edward was present, too, in the beautiful bronze color of her hair, apparent even beneath its coating of blood from her delivery. I could see already that her hair was curly; much curlier than Bella's waves, and absently wondered who had contributed that trait to Renesmee's makeup. The clinical portion of my mind noted her accelerated heart rate and above-human-average temperature, but I could sense that these were most likely her nature; I discerned no sort of infection or anomaly.
Well, other than her entire existence, that is.
I tore my attention from the baby and began to make my way toward the stairway at the end of the hall.
The tenuous hold I had on my emotions made me feel strangely uncertain, unsteady. Though I had never had a clumsy moment in all my time as a vampire, I felt the need to proceed cautiously. Carrying Renesmee securely in one arm, I held firmly to the banister with my other hand as I descended into the living room, afraid something would upset my balance.
In my peripheral vision I noticed Alice near the kitchen, watching carefully as I approached the couch and sat down. I held Renesmee against my chest securely with one hand and arranged the two blankets on my lap with the other, then carefully lowered her and laid her on the blankets.
I felt Alice move to stand behind me, felt her stillness as she gazed over my shoulder at our niece. Renesmee's beautiful brown eyes focused first on me, then drifted upward to focus on Alice. The three of us existed in our own little bubble for a moment; Alice and I staring in silent awe at the tiny miracle on my lap, Renesmee's eyes gazing unrelentingly at the two of us.
I continued to hold Renesmee in my lap, carefully examining her plump arms and legs, her delicate ears, her curly, matted bronze hair. I turned slightly toward Alice, who had moved to sit next to me on the couch, handing me a warm, damp cloth with which I began to carefully clean Renesmee's face and body.
"Can you see anything? Her heart stopped…Edward was using the syringe of his venom as I left, and Jacob was performing CPR. Can you see? Will she be OK? She lost so much blood…." I spoke in a hushed tone, the renewed fear that I harbored for my newest sister apparent in my voice, which trembled slightly. I closed my eyes briefly, remembering the horror of the room, the frantic struggle that was going on above our heads, the fight to save Bella even as I sat here adoring her daughter
Alice didn't answer immediately, and I paused in my ministrations and turned my head to look directly at her. I was surprised to see a look of bewilderment, maybe even wonder, in her eyes. She spoke slowly, measuring her words. "Well, yes, finally. Since Jacob is still up with here I can't see her, of course, but just a moment ago I had a glimpse of Edward smiling. She's going to be fine, I think. It's only been a glimpse into her future; not much, really, but enough to reassure me that she's going to be OK. How are you?"
Gentle waves of relief slowly began to soothe the residual feelings of despair and panic that had surged through my mind. I struggled with my thoughts for a moment, returning my attention to Renesmee, who continued her inspection of Alice and me as I finished my cursory cleaning of blood from her petite body.
I realized what Alice's expression meant—I was certainly not known for wearing tender emotions on my sleeve. And our recent bond notwithstanding, Bella and I had never had a connection in the past; Alice was surprised that I would be so heartfelt in my concern for Bella's well being.
"After I almost lost it in there, I waited outside and had a few minutes to think things over. I realized that I really have come to love Bella, believe it or not. I'm so grateful to her for this….I know it's not the same thing as being a mother myself, but I never even thought I'd have the chance to be involved with a baby, and now Bella has brought this beautiful little angel into our family. I didn't want her to die after all she went through to protect Renesmee. I can't explain how happy I am," I finished rather clumsily.
For an instant Alice's face maintained its expression of incredulity. A little embarrassed by her intense scrutiny, and my own sentimental statements, I grabbed another of the damp washcloths Alice had brought and renewed my efforts to clean Renesmee. I felt my trademark guardedness spring to the fore, and opened my mouth to try to put my thoughts into more "Rosalie-like" terms.
However, before I had a chance to utter a single syllable, an impish grin curled Alice's lips, and a glint of mischief appeared in her eyes. "Well, my oh my, Rosalie Hale has a heart—who would ever have suspected?"
She looked at Renesmee, who continued to gaze alternately between her two aunts, her hands coming together and lifting to her mouth. As Renesmee opened her lips and displayed-surprise-a couple of pearly white teeth, Alice's grin widened. "Little Renesmee, I wish you could remember this moment forever and serve as my witness, because no one else will ever believe it," Alice said teasingly. She looked again at me, beaming. "As much as I'm adoring this little one, I've gotta run-wait 'till Jazz hears this!"
Stooping to place a gentle kiss on Renesmee's forehead, she patted my shoulder and then sped to the front door, where she abruptly ground to a halt. She quickly turned her head back to me, winking, and said, "OK, you get to pick out her first outfit, but when I get back we'll need to get together on wardrobe plans. Certainly she'll be easier to deal with than her mother!" She then proceeded to skip through the doorway, heading to where Jasper was pacing in the forest, waiting for news from the house and the sounds of Carlisle, Esme and Emmett's return.
"Well, little angel," I crooned, carefully lifting Renesmee and snuggling my face into the folds of her neck, breathing in her sweet scent, "let's see about getting you all cleaned up, dressed and fed. This may be my only opportunity to dress you without your Aunt Alice hovering—let's make the most of it!"
I took another moment to soak in the beauty that was Renesmee—her intense chocolate gaze, beautifully translucent skin, dainty features, soft bronze curls, steadily beating heart. A little human, a little vampire; a perfect blend of her parents. She's an original…the thought ran through my mind.
The sound of slow footsteps on the landing, and the smell of Bella's blood mingled with wet dog, alerted me to the arrival of Jacob. I tensed, listening to the sound of his steps, and carefully drew in the scent that wafted toward me, trying to determine whether he was a threat to my charge. Though I was certainly no mind reader, nor an empath, I for a moment sensed a hostility emanating from him and my body grew taut, my arms contracting around Renesmee's small form in a protective motion. But almost as soon as I registered the hostility, it evaporated, and there was a quiet stillness that replaced it.
Somewhat reassured, I gathered Renesmee to my chest, rose and snuggled her close to my body as I carefully turned to face Jacob, caution and wariness apparent in my every move.
The sight that greeted my eyes as they landed on Jacob was something that I was completely unprepared for. An image popped into my mind, unbidden. It was a very recent memory of Edward's face; in the instant he realized he was hearing Renesmee's mind from within the womb. The wonder and joy that had shone from his guise was now perfectly replicated in Jacob's reverent gaze. This was a development that I certainly had never anticipated.
"Jacob," I said a little sharply, somewhat concerned about his sudden absorption in Renesmee. Was this not the same mutt whose first official acknowledgement of Renesmee, only minutes before, was to suggest that Edward "throw it out the window"? Jacob turned his eyes, seemingly against his will, and focused on my face, still looking a bit like he wasn't sure exactly what was going on around him. Renesmee had begun to move from her perch on my shoulder, her head turning rather clumsily toward Jacob's still form. I absently wondered if she had noticed his stench.
"Jacob," I repeated. "What are you doing? Is Bella OK? Edward? Is something wrong?" Jacob shifted his weight slightly, his eyes returning to Renesmee, and he again was frozen, staring at my niece. Though I discerned no sense of danger from him, his actions were making the hair on the back of my neck bristle. This was not a Jacob I had ever encountered.
"Jacob!" At the forceful sound of his name, he once more seemed to reluctantly shift his eyes from Renesmee to me. "Alice just said she had a vision, and she's sure that Bella's going to be OK," I told him. "What's going on up there?"
Jacob's eyes cleared, and his attention focused squarely on me. An expression of relief washed over his face, and his eyes closed for a second. He shook his head minutely, and whispered, "He did it." His eyes opened, and again he turned his focus to Renesmee, who seemed to lean toward him from my arms. I narrowed my eyes, focusing on reading all I could from his bearing. "What's with you? You're not going to be sick or anything, are you?"
I watched as Jacob seemed to pull himself together, with some effort. He again turned to glance at me, and curved his lips in a small, careful smile. "Yeah, no, I'm great. Just a little, I don't know, overwhelmed I guess. Crazy day, huh?" And he again returned his attention to Renesmee, the smile spreading slowly across his face. His fascination with her seemed in no way threatening, but I decided it was high time I removed her from his presence—his man-in-a-desert-who-just-found-water imitation was making me distinctly uncomfortable.
I turned back to the couch and picked up the washcloths I had been using to clean Renesmee, and she abruptly shifted in my arms. I straightened quickly, securing her, and took a step toward the stairs, practically bumping into Jacob, who jumped back quickly.
I took a moment, and drew a sharp breath. "Look, Jacob, I know you're probably ready to get out of here, and I'm taking Renesmee upstairs to finish cleaning her and get her diapered and dressed. She needs to eat, and I'm sure you aren't going to want to be around to see that, because I'm not talking about baby formula. So thanks a lot for everything, and believe me I'm shocked to say this, but I really mean that. And I guess we'll see you around sometime, but it's probably time for you to go now. I'm sure Edward will talk to you later." I rushed through my comments, ready to take care of Renesmee's needs.
As I climbed the stairs with my precious bundle, leaving Jacob to see himself out, I spared a thought for Bella's friend, who had been the bane of my existence for the last few days. It seemed that he had accepted Renesmee's arrival, and was willing to be cordial. Not that we would have much of a relationship with him or his pack in the future, considering our need to relocate to take care of two newborns.
Moving into the room that Esme had lovingly prepared for our newest family member, I gently laid Renesmee in her bassinet and grabbed a small bowl from the dresser. I went to the bathroom, filling the bowl with warm water, and returned to Renesmee with the bowl and more fresh washcloths in hand.
As I carefully cleaned the last of the blood from her skin and hair, she looked around, her eyes moving from me to the door, and back again. Eventually her hair was clean and shiny, curls springing up as the bronze locks dried. Her tiny fingers flexed as she waved her arms about, drawing her knees up then kicking out occasionally. She didn't utter a sound, but her lips pursed occasionally, and two or three times she sucked at her fists, spreading a bit of baby drool around her mouth, cheeks and chin.
Though I had never diapered a baby, I was happy to realize that the actions felt right to me, and I dressed her in a beautiful pink footed pajama outfit. Thank goodness Alice believed in preparing for the unexpected and had insisted on obtaining a few pink things "just in case." Some charity was about to be the recipient of a small fortune in blue baby clothes. I leaned in to pick up Renesmee, and was struck again at the wonder of the day.
As I straightened, I tucked Renesmee into the crook of my arm. For a moment of pure magic, I took in this most precious gift that Bella had given to all of us. I wondered anew at her bravery and selflessness. I had never shared Carlisle's views about the existence of our souls, but now I had proof positive that he was likely correct in his assumptions. Because this little miracle, the product of a vampire father and an extraordinary human mother, had without a doubt the most beautiful soul I had ever encountered.
"All right, angel," I said as we began to make our way to the kitchen, "you have been patient long enough. Let Aunt Rosalie get you fed, and then we'll come back upstairs and check on your mommy and daddy."
Upon entering the kitchen I saw that Alice had already prepared Renesmee's bottle and left it waiting for me on the counter. As I crossed into the living room, the sound of quick footsteps on the porch and low conversation (what was Jacob doing still here, talking to Alice?) announced the return of Carlisle, Esme and, most importantly to me, Emmett.
A thrill ran through me as I anticipated the joy of introducing Renesmee to the rest of our family. I consoled myself that Bella wouldn't mind letting me have this moment. And as I continued toward the front door, I couldn't contain the very un-Rosalie-like smile of pure happiness that had spread itself across my face.