A/N: Written with the amazing emmajanepringle for the FemSlash10 challenge, for sheepfairy.
The room feels cold, foreign. She hates the four-poster bed and the ridiculous gold linen. Hates that she's here in this room without Edward. Bella would give everything to be back in the sun on Isle Esme. Well, almost everything. She hears an exasperated sigh, and opens her eyes.
Rosalie is sitting on the floor with her back against the door. She looks irritated, her hair mussed from carrying Bella swiftly up the stairs and depositing her on the bed, before she turned and slammed the door in Edward's face.
"Men," Rose says, in a voice that sounds like she's choking.
Rose considers for a moment, all the times she'd thought she'd rather be in physical pain than suffer through being near Bella. In the beginning, she'd tried to keep her feelings to herself, but Rose has never been good at hiding disgust. She can beat almost anyone at poker (Alice and Edward notwithstanding), but Rose doesn't like emotions. She doesn't like the way they make her feel out of control. Readable. Predictable.
Rosalie Hale was the most beautiful girl for miles, and she didn't get a happy ending. Rosalie Hale brushed her hair 100 times a night, took excellent care of her clothes, had tiny feet and beautiful hands. Rosalie Hale was vain, but that's what the world told her to be. She lived in a world where women couldn't go to college. They didn't even really marry for love. There were family arrangements, financial arrangements, class issues.
It was Rosalie's beauty that was her escape. Her way out. Class and money didn't matter when you were gorgeous. Men looked at her and wanted her. She can't deny, even now, that she didn't enjoy that feeling.
Bella Swan doesn't need beauty. Bella was born in a time when she can have whatever she wants. And it's a cruel twist that Bella wants everything Rose has, and Rose still finds herself wanting to be human. Royce King took more than Rose will ever admit. She took his life, but she wishes, some days, that she was the one that died instead.
This whole night is a farce. The door isn't keeping Edward out. It's not even really Rosalie that's keeping him away. It's that moment when they cleared customs, he saw Rose's expression, and knew in that moment that Bella had betrayed him. That she'd put her trust and her faith and her future in Rosalie's hands, and not his own.
So now Bella's perched here, feeling unsettled and so very unsure, staring across at her sister-in-law, who says nothing and scowls back. Bella can't help but notice how beautiful Rose is, even scowling. The little inkling of doubt sneaks back in, and she wonders why Edward chose her. Why he didn't choose Rose. If he wishes he was with Tanya. If he regrets everything, especially now.
Bella toes off her shoes and sighs, swivelling to collapse back against the piles of pillows. Her back aches and her eyes are watering, and she wants a do-over. Wants to say to Edward, "You're right, let's wait." Would give anything to be back in the yard under the twinkling lights at their wedding. She closes her eyes, shivers a little at the memory.
She doesn't hear Rosalie move, but suddenly she is sitting on the bed beside her, pulling a blanket up over Bella. Bella doesn't want Rosalie's comfort, but there's nothing comforting about Rose's expression, so Bella pulls the afghan more tightly around her shoulders and figures it's okay. She made a pact with the devil, and now she has to live with the consequences. Edward had nothing to worry about any more, Bella probably doesn't have a soul to save. But she has this. It will be okay, she tells herself, tells the nascent life inside her. We'll work this out.
It's all wrong, all upside down. It should be Edward here beside her, tucking her in, holding her close. He shouldn't be downstairs with Carlisle surrounded by books. History and science don't have the answers.
Rosalie looks tired, the circles beneath her eyes darker than usual. Bella wonders how they will ever make this work. Rose promised she would feed to the point of bursting before Bella got home, and her bright eyes indicate that she kept her word, but she'll need to drink again. She'll have to leave Bella alone to do it. The thought makes Bella's heart skip a beat.
Rose arches an eyebrow. "What is it?"
"This is insane, Rosalie. We're never going to make this work." Bella draws her knees up, rolling onto her side toward Rose. She knows Edward will hear her, if not now, then later in Rose's thoughts. There are no secrets in this house.
"He will never hurt you, Bella. Not now that he knows how strongly you feel." Rose knows this. Edward loves Bella more than life itself, and more than once that knowledge has caused tension in the family. Rose has never known love like that. Emmett complements her, and she complements him. They are not two halves of a whole, the way Alice and Jasper are. Emmett would mourn her death, but he would survive.
So would she.
"Then why are we doing this?" Bella's voice brings Rose back to reality, out of her self-indulgent thoughts.
Rosalie reaches out, and places a hand on Bella's arm. The gesture is meant to be soothing, but all Bella feels is a stone touch that should be Edward's and isn't.
Bella rolls back onto her back, away from Rosalie, and the blanket falls to the bed. She stares down at her body, the bones of her hips standing up at either side of this new development. Bella no longer knows what she feels. This thing, this life inside of her is real, and growing. She feels so protective, so maternal toward it. And yet, Bella thinks, she's spent the last two years struggling to be with Edward. Can she really be ready to throw it away for this? For the unknown?
"Maybe I'm wrong, Rosalie. Maybe we should let Carlisle..." she can't say the words out loud, feels like a traitor for even thinking it.
"NO!" Rose hisses, her face filled with fear.
Bella is shocked by the feel of Rosalie's cool palm against her abdomen. She can count on one hand the number of time's Rosalie's touched her. Every single time has been tonight.
Rose isn't intoxicated by Bella's scent the way the others are. Edward, Alice - they all love Bella. Even before this werewolf thing, Rose never thought Bella smelled particularly nice. Human, yes, but nothing special.
She hates her, and she doesn't. Here she is, allied with the one person in the world who has everything Rose wants and plans to throw it away. If she could switch places with Bella, she would. She would give up Emmett and immortality and even this family for her humanity. For her chance to carry a child. For everything. She doesn't hate Bella, she hates that she can't have what Bella has. Envy, rearing her head, long green tendrils of hair against a flaming sky.
Bella presses Rose's hand against her stomach. Against her belly. Against her baby.
Rose smiles. Bella doesn't find it comforting, not really, but she does feel relieved that someone understands her. That someone is on her side, whatever the motivation. That maybe, just maybe, she is right and Edward is wrong. Though the fact that it's Rosalie who came to her rescue is a little unsettling. It's not like Rose has been Bella's champion. Ever.
Bella can't help but wish it was Edward smiling, Edward here with her. But he's not, and he thinks what's inside her is an abomination. Edward is downstairs, with his books and his need for explanations, and what Bella needs right now isn't on any printed page. And then they both hear Edward yelling, and the front door slams. "Emmett took him hunting," Rose says, her eyes unreadable. Bella suddenly feels tired, her limbs heavy, and there doesn't seem to be anything anchoring her any more but Rosalie's cool palm, the pads of her fingers pressing lightly over her shirt.
Some part of Bella wants her to stop. Wants her to take her hand away. Wants Rosalie gone from her room, from her life. But at least Rosalie is here. At least she understands. And Bella's hormones are getting the better of her again, a fat tear rolling down one cheek.
Rose looks at Bella with a question in her eyes. She tries to smile. Rose kisses the place where Bella's baby is, and Bella can't help herself. She gives a contented sigh. This is the way things were supposed to be, she thinks. This is what having a baby is supposed to do: bring two people closer together.
Bella never imagined it would bring Rose closer to her. And not this close. Not so close that Bella can breathe in the icy scent of Rosalie, not so close that Rosalie's hand is stroking across her belly.
Rose's hand brushes against Bella's breast, and Bella gasps.
"What's wrong?" Rose asks quickly.
"Nothing, nothing." Bella tries to steady her breathing. "I'm just a little . . . sensitive." She thinks of Edward's hands on her body, back on Isle Esme, when everything seemed so simple and clear. Bella aches for it.
Bella wants this to be okay. She needs to know she's making the right decisions. Needs more than anything not to be alone. In this. In anything. Rosalie is suddenly unsure, unsure of her role in this, in upsetting the family dynamics, of proving to everyone how selfish she is. If Bella dies, it will be Rose's fault. She will be blamed, and rightfully. She will have to leave everything she has always known - in this life at least.
Rosalie's hand stills, and there is a moment, where Bella should roll away, or tug the blanket back around her, or sit up. Any number of things to put the distance back between them, to restore order. But Bella's body seems to have other plans, and she arches up under Rosalie's touch, urging her on.
"Damn hormones," she says, and Rosalie laughs, a sound Bella isn't sure she will ever get used to.
"Well, I can definitely help with that," and Bella can hear the smile on Rose's beautiful face. "If you want," previous uncertainly suddenly creeping in.
"Oh," Bella says. "Yes." Talking has suddenly become wildly complicated.
Rosalie understands, understands everything better than Bella ever thought possible, Rose's fingers slipping beneath the hem of Bella's shirt, tracing against her skin. Bella closes her eyes. A voice in the back of her mind is crying, wrong, so wrong, but nothing has gone right since she felt the first flutter of life within her, and she can't won't do this by herself.
There will be a baby. Rose and Bella are willing this thought into existence, into reality. Somewhere, they both believe it. Maybe even now. Maybe in a minute. Maybe later. But there will be a baby. A chance for redemption for one, a symbol of love for another.
Rosalie undoes the buttons on Bella's shirt, peeling it open, revealing her already swelling breasts. Bella stifles the urge to wrap her arms around herself, to cover herself in embarrassment at the way her skin flushes and her breath catches. Her chest rising and falling.
Rose thinks for a moment that she should want to devour Bella, figuratively and literally. Bella's skin is so pink, so warm, so alive. She can see Bella's blood, blue and dark, pulsing through the thin skin near her wrist. Can hear Bella's heartbeat, speeding up with each passing second. She wonders why she does not find this hard, at all. Even Alice did. But this isn't hard for Rose to resist. She inhales, feels her ribs fill needlessly, and presses her cold body against Bella's tender human skin.
Rosalie's touch is nothing like Edward's. There's no reverence, no hesitation. Her blond hair soft against Bella's skin as her tongue traces a path across Bella's breasts. Her teeth nip at Bella, her fingers pinch at her nipples, and there's a sharp thread of pleasure arching Bella's spine.
Rosalie reaches between them, and deftly unbuttons Bella's jeans. Bella can feel Rose's eyes on her. "If I didn't know better, I would say you've gotten larger in the last hour."
"Rose," Bella groans, shifting her hips.
"Just saying," Rosalie mutters, moving her hands downward. Bella hears the rip of denim and feels no loss, just Rose's breath, surprisingly warm.
Rose can't believe she's doing this, not really, but watching Bella squirm in her own self-pity was too much for her to handle. Plus, she'll do anything for this baby, and if that means keeping Bella happy, then so be it. She slides and twists her fingers inside Bella.
Bella arches up again, pushing her hips against Rose's hand. But Rose keeps her firmly in place, and Bella shifts sideways, around. Rose whispers in Bella's ear, "A little impatient, are we?" and gives a low, soft laugh.
"Please, Rose," and Bella hates begging, but she needs this, she needs this so badly, and Edward won't give it to her and Rosalie Hale is the only on her side, the one Cullen who keeps her own last name, the sister she's never wanted or even liked. Rosalie Hale, the one that's taking care of her, the one that is trying not to look at her as if Bella's not everything she hates.
And then Bella stops thinking, because Rose's hands are moving in ways Bella can't even begin to understand, here, there, back again, fast and quick, smooth and sure, and oh, it feels, it feels like Bella's singing. Bella's breathing is all over the place and she forgets to inhale. Her left leg trembles, and Rose runs her hand over Bella's warm skin. Bella is writhing on the golden sheets and she doesn't care, she doesn't care about anything except that she's close, and she feels something different, and she isn't consumed with worry. She's consumed with desire and that's more comfortable, more normal, more familiar. She cries out, pointing her toes toward the door, torn between begging Rose to stop and to keep on.
Rose has never felt this pleasure as a human. She thought it would be her wedding night, and she would be worshipped, but instead it was raining and dark, and she wished she didn't remember any of it. She wishes she could forget. But she has Emmett now, and he makes her happy in ways she never thought possible. And, Rose figures, Bella will owe her after this. Bella and Edward, once he gets his head out of his ass. Rose's hands are moving without thought, without paying real attention to the person below her.
There's a sharp intake of breath, and then Bella's body begins to shudder, and Bella is clutching Rose's shoulders with something akin to heartbreak. Rose snaps back to reality and finishes Bella off quickly, her breath and fingers pressing against her, and Bella lets out a sound that doesn't really seem human, shuddering and collapsing.
She leaves Bella on the bed, eyes closed, loose-limbed and panting. She goes to wash Bella's scent off her hands. No need to leave too much incriminating evidence for Edward.
Bella steadies her breathing. Rose is already back to normal, back to the stone cold beauty she always was, though Bella doesn't know if she can ever really think of Rose as cold again. She thinks of one of her favorite quotes, from Le Petit Prince, the one thing she maybe remembers from French class, "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."
She loves Rose, she realizes. Everything has changed. Again, Bella realizes how many different kinds of love there are. Rose loves her, too. Everything has stayed the same. She rests her hand on her bump.
"If anything happens . . ." Bella's whisper trails off.
"Nothing is going to happen, Bella Cullen." Rose stops for a second, and Bella hears a sharp intake of unnecessary breath. "But if something ever did, I would do everything . . . anything." Rose puts her hand on top of Bella's again.
"Anything for this."
Bella brushes her hands through Rose's hair, and exhales with relief.
"Thank you, Rose. Thank you."
Bella falls asleep like that, with Rose's head resting gently on her stomach, even now making sure the heartbeat is strong. Rosalie finds her jealousy waning with each beat she hears. Life didn't deal her the hand she wanted, but there would be a baby now, even if it wasn't the way she imagined.
She closes her eyes, and counts heartbeats.