Title: An Alford Plea
AH or AU: Canon, Pre-Twilight
Word Count: 3675
Setting: Pre-Twilight Canon
Summary: There is a powder keg of egos and adamancy waiting to be lit in this house. Rosalie feels like playing with fire. And Edward. Canon, missing moment... or is it? M.
This one-shot is being posted in participation with the above mentioned contest hosted by FilthyRoseward & Co. Please see the contest profile for full details. http: / / w w w . fanfiction. net/u/2529769/
An Alford Plea by whatsmynomdeplume
Rosalie's anger is like a tenuous thread, silken and smooth. And it's as if Edward, with knives on his feet, is walking back and forth, slowing fraying her nerves with his arrogance and condescension. Ever since she's come into this house–carried into it and this life against her will by Carlisle nearly two years ago—he has never once failed in making her feel smaller than the burnt, used up ember that pops in the log fire of the living room.
He can hear every word she thinks. He is never courteous enough to ignore her thoughts but he's also never disinterested enough to not listen and he's never polite enough to not show his disdain. Though he has stopped playing God as he did in those years when he was away from the family, he has not stopped acting like God.
His condescension seems solely directed to Rosalie, however. To Esme, he is the loving, repenting son, so gentle in her eyes that she can't help but forgive him everything and anything. To Carlisle, he is the prodigal son, the star student—they have a bond that stretches through their mutual loneliness and come what may, it will never waver. Carlisle may have changed Edward, but it was Edward who changed Carlisle's life, giving him a companion when seclusion had been his only lifestyle.
Rosalie sometimes feels like a stranger in this warm family of cold-skinned vampires. Her blood runs hot with a different type of feeling, with anger and the frustration of helplessness. Esme adores her with the strength of motherly love that she possesses so intrinsically. It is less easy with Carlisle–she is attempting to let go of the resentment she feels for him taking away her choices. It is difficult because on one hand she can't imagine holding on to this anger forever, and on the other hand, she is so very angry that she has to even contemplate forever. Rosalie had always been aware of two things: her beauty and how fleeting it was. She'd understood how to live a short, full life with it—when her beauty faded, she would be blessed with immortality through her children and their children and their children's children. Never once did she want for the type of immortality she has now, unfading, yes, but frozen.
Adding to that, it was bad enough that Carlisle intended for her to be Edward's fiancée and companion, so soon after her own fiance, her companion, had so thoroughly wrecked her. But then Edward so thoughtlessly tossed her aside and she couldn't help but hate them both a little. These men who make these decisions without ever really considering her, because their intentions and their experiences make them feel they know best. It only makes her feel more powerless.
So even as she is finding her place in the Cullen household, she and Edward can't seem to come to terms with each other. The silent detente she shares with Carlisle is non-existent with Edward. They are always at war, at each other's throats–his prejudice against her, her pride of herself; she doesn't know what Carlisle was thinking. Only in a different universe could she and Edward have gotten along.
The four of them–Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie and Edward–are sitting around a table in the living room at Carlisle's insistence. It is his idea of family, his deluded notion that perhaps he can foster affection–or maybe just civility–through proximity. They've been doing this for four months now. In that time, Rosalie and Edward have only grown to hate each other more.
But there they sit: Esme knitting, Carlisle and Edward reading, Rosalie simply lost in her thoughts. Edward stands abruptly and as he does, a sliver of his waistcoat drags up the cotton material of the shirt underneath it, exposing the pale flesh underneath. From the firelight's dancing shadows of orange and brown, it looks almost human, soft and tangible, alluringly yielding and a pang strikes Rosalie.
It is, indeed, a pang of attraction and it is groundbreaking for her. She has not felt this, that jolt deep inside the deepest inside of her, the one that would have caused her to blush if she could have, since... the night her life ended and her eternal death began. She feels... alive in the moment of arousal, like the deadened part of her that Royce killed has awakened. It is nothing but a small thought, vividly felt yet quickly pushed aside, but it means everything to Rosalie. It means that she may be healing, despite the dead skin, dormant cells, and deceased life she feels defined by.
But Edward, so quick only to hear what is on the surface, sees nothing of the changes not consciously thought. All he hears is the lightning crack that the thought of arousal sounds like, and that it is directed to him. He turns to Rose and sneers before striding out of the room.
She doesn't need to read his mind—his face says it all. The way his nose wrinkles in distaste demonstrates his displeasure. The way his mouth tightens to a small line shows his outrage. And the way his eyes look at and yet through her scream that he would never stoop down to such thoughts.
That is the moment. That is when Edward inadvertently brakes Rosalie's path to healing and that is when Rosalie decides to break Edward.
Rosalie has always suspected–no, known that there is no way the righteous indignance Edward wears on his sleeve, his sullen face, his sneer can be lived up to. Edward lives in his own world, where he is judge, jury and executioner. By the power of his gift, he is privy to everyone's secrets but he has never had to give up any of his own. He rests on that knowledge, smug and safe behind his ability.
It is the type of injustice that drives Rosalie mad. Moreover, she cannot stand that she herself does not have any power. But this night and that pang and that sneer, they've reminded her of something. They've reminded her of the sneers she used to toss and dole so easily when she was alive and vibrant and beautiful. She used to be Edward, snide and judgemental, proud and petty, and she's sick of being on the other side of it.
Rosalie is going to use the one power she has. And she's going to use the power Edward has.
There is a powder keg of egos and adamancy waiting to be lit in this house. Rosalie feels like playing with fire.
Rosalie's beauty is not her only strength at play in this game. She is tenacious, almost to a fault, yet it renders her a patience so innate she doesn't recognize she has it. She also understands intricacies—she has always been good at catching little details, even if she misses their larger consequences. And so, slowly, she starts down a path. She isn't quite sure of the destination, but it is the first fight she's fought in a long while–no matter how covert–and it pumps a fire through her veins that feels like blood did when she was alive and exhilarated.
It starts with one thought.
Edward has a strange habit of standing and reading—it makes him look unnatural and daunting; uncomfortable and the opposite of at ease. It is so utterly him that it annoys Rosalie to no end. She puts the gazette she is reading down and stares out the window. Snow is gently beginning to fall and she thinks of the beauty of the white. She forcefully leads her thoughts away from the one—and possible only time—she wore white, where it was streaked with the red of her vengeance.
Instead, she thinks of the white snow, thinks of gentle, thinks of soft. Of it falling on her skin, cold and warm meeting to melt, of how the frost cannot help but fall prey to the heat, suck it up and ultimately let the warmth destroy it.
She thinks of how the snowflake meets a soft, lovely death on a fingertip or nose, how it still lingers on the skin in the form of water, how gentle and caressing it is, even in its afterlife.
And very quickly, in such a split second that it is easy to question whether it happened or not, she pictures herself in the snow. Stark naked.
Edward's head jerks up behind her. He heard it. Rosalie doesn't move, doesn't give away anything, simply continuing to think about the innocent loveliness of snow.
A few moments of silence that seem to drag on for eons pass, Rosalie reveling in them, Edward thoroughly thrown. When he clears his throat and strides out of the room, she controls her thoughts but allows herself a small smile.
It is a small victory. Not even a battle, just a moment.
She continues to do this. Not so often that Edward will think it is on purpose but enough to elicit a reaction out of him. And true to his predictable staidness, he has the same response every time. His head jerks suddenly to her, even as his nostrils flare and his eyes turn, for just one second, cold and hungry, the thoughts too titillating to not affect him. A few moments of venomous glaring later, he stands and exits the room, ignoring Esme's questions and Carlisle's protests.
Rosalie is doubly pleased that not only does this little game she plays cause Edward discomfort, but it also gets him out of the room.
Rosalie hasn't though about sex in a long while. It is a painful memory, one that makes her feel as if a vice is trapped around every dead part of her innards. She doesn't remember many of the details of that last night of her life when Royce took everything from her, thank goodness, as a result of the change. But the vengeance that coursed through her as she awoke was too strong, too fiery, too vivid for her not to know that her last hours as a human were spent being subjected to the worst of humanity.
And her rampage, her revenge, while temporarily satisfying for the sake of comeuppance, didn't help heal that association. Her sexuality, her attractiveness, always on the forefront of her thoughts when she was alive, were deadened along with her skin and heart and body.
But for all of her issues with sex—justified as they are–she knows Edward has more. Being turned at the height of his sexual prime, being alone for his entire existence, not to mention being privy to people's innermost thoughts—Rosalie doesn't quite know how he's not obsessed with sex. It is rather the opposite, as if it repels him.
But in those reactions to her sneaky, steamy split-second thoughts, Rose has deciphered it. Edward is not repelled by sex. He is scared of it. He hates the loss of control that comes with arousal, the wanton thoughts, the undeniable reactions of his own body. He hates that should he, the great Edward Cullen, think about sex, give into its seedy seduction, then he will be no greater than those whose thoughts he scoffs at.
He sits on a glass throne, Edward does. This pedestal he has raised himself on is precarious. It takes the simple power of thought to knock him off.
One night, after Edward shoots Rosalie a particularly withering look–even though she's not played her silly little game on this day–he actually requests that Carlisle and Esme not leave. He's not so subtly implying that he doesn't want to be alone with her, and Rosalie decides she has had enough.
She storms into her room, slamming the door so hard that the doorjamb rattles. She can practically hear Edward's satisfied smirk, so pleased that he has incensed her. But he has no idea what is coming to him. Edward's not listening to her but if he were, her thoughts are vague enough that he couldn't possibly predict what was about to happen.
She has to steel herself for she's about to do. She's never thought about anything like this, though sex did raise a taboo curiosity that she never let herself nurse. And then after what happened with Royce, sex became something she never wanted to think about again.
But if there's one thing she needs to thank Edward for, it is because he has, with the ire he irks in her, reminded her that she is still yet existing. And she will for eternity. Life was short, forever is long, and she cannot pretend that she doesn't need to break out of this deadened mold she's been clinging too.
So she gathers all her courage, takes a deep, unnecessary breath... and imagines.
Her thoughts are bold and vivid, as if outlined in dark black ink to make them stand out. Carlisle and Esme are long gone and it is only the two of them in the nearby radius, Rose's thoughts compete with nothing else in Edward's mind–they are all he can hear.
And he is incredulous toward them.
Rosalie closes her eyes and pictures herself undressing. She recalls the hundreds, millions of times she's done it but she tinges it with perversion, as if she is a voyeur to her own body, the way Edward is a voyeur to these very thoughts.
Off comes the outer chemise, the brocade and bravado. Then the dress itself falls to the floor with some of her inhibitions. Rosalie imagines herself, in her slip and garters, inspecting herself in the mirror, viewing the swell of her breast with so much keen interest that she must reach up and run her hand along it. She imagines herself holding the weight of it and then squeezing, lightly running the very tip of her thumbnail along the dark puckered, pointing tip and shuddering from its effect.
And then she hears a gasp come from the other room–and it is not imagined. Edward is listening. When she does the same to the other breast and hears a similar noise, she knows Edward is not just continuining to listen—he is choosing to listen.
She goes back to her fantasy land, where she is now pulling the slip over her head. It goes, then she slowly rolls down the garters, down the endless expanse of one smooth leg, then the other. She keeps picturing herself, removing more and more of her clothing, revealing more and more of herself until she is naked, bare and bared.
She takes a moment to wonder if this is the first time Edward has ever seen a naked woman and wishes she were in the room with him to see his face upon the realization that she is doing all this deliberately. She feels eager to know that she is putting in his place, making him think these thoughts that he so condescends upon others for, and suddenly, she is hungry to do more.
She pictures herself lying down on the bed, and lazily, yet intently, running her hands down her breasts to her hipbones, touching every part of herself gently and intently. She visualizes one hand at her breast, toying and teasing the tip, the other hand sliding down her stomach, before retreating up, then sliding down a little father, before retreating up again, then sliding down the farthest, and staying there.
She imagines her fingers toying with herself, then, truly emboldened, imagines someone's fingers taking their place. She doesn't put a face on the phantom hand, the guest in her fantasy–she doesn't want to picture Edward doing this to her. But she never pictures the face that belongs to the hand and she can only hope that Edward is inserting himself into this enactment of erotica.
It becomes more blurry now and she doesn't quite know what to think of—just fingers on the fleshiest part of her that make her cry out, then fingers in and out of her, then both together. She pictures herself arching her back, breasts rising into the air and her hands continue to play with them, her hips moving to the rhythm of the other set of hands that toy with her down below. She imagines the way pleasure feels so much more acute in this body, even without breath, or blood, or a heartbeat. It takes the place of the venom in her veins, fills her up as these imagined fingers do.
There is a viciousness, a vindictiveness that crackles as an undercurrent to her thoughts. Though she doesn't think it overtly, Rose worries that it might turn Edward off, but to her surprise, he relishes it. She can hear changes in his normally silent body and the darkness, the anger, the sharp edge... it turns him on.
Rosalie can't see Edward's expression, the furrow between his eyebrow, his mouth set in a firm, hard line that still not as hard as another parts of him. But the hitch in his unnecessary breaths, the groans and grunts give away all of his thoughts. It doesn't take a mind reader to understand his arousal is manifesting itself physically and for the first time in his life, Edward is touching himself, with the fumbling and frenzy apt for his seventeen-year-old self. Rosalie throws more images at him, lewd and lubricious, of legs bending and hips bucking, of those unknown fingers high on the pale frontier of inner thighs, then higher and then inner, of the slant of a back meeting derriere, of hands on breasts and then a mouth that opens to a tongue that flicks the pointed tip as–
Suddenly, he is done. It is done.
She can hear his release, his coming her comeuppance. It is a guttural groan that rips out of him, feral and fierce in its force, tinged with regret.
She saunters out into the hall, fully clothed—for she was never really naked—and fully confident. She heavies her steps as she passes Edward's room, even though her thoughts are louder than both her victorious gait and his recovering pants.
He came. She saw. She conquered.
Days pass like the pendulum swing of the grandfather clock Carlisle has placed in their foyer. Rosalie doesn't speak of what has happened. Nay, she doesn't even think of it. She won't give Edward the satisfaction of knowing it meant anything to her–though really, it means more than she can say.
She feels powerful again. Not as a vampire but as a woman, as if she has control of surroundings. She's been damned to this living death, yes, but the incident has helped her realize, she is still the master of her own existence. She talks more now. Unafraid to voice her opinion because Edward's glares no longer intimidate her, she expresses her wish to Carlisle to find a hobby. She doesn't want it to be medicine but she likes the intricacy of something like that. Carlisle asks her if she'd like some books on mechanics-how machines work, how engine convert fuel into power. It's not a typical read for a woman and that only furthers her drive to learn it. She shies away from Esme's homemaking womanliness and embraces her feminity in a thoroughly unfeminine way. When she walks, it's like she used to when she was alive; head high and proud, back straight, fire and power in her eyes.
And should she dwell on it, she'll have to recognize that she has Edward to thank for that. So she doesn't think of it.
Whether Edward thinks of this battle he's lost, no one shall ever know. He has the privacy of his own thoughts and never lets one slip out. He is more stoic in the days following than even before, unwilling to be perturbed by the haughty beauty Rosalie is once again learning how to wield. He knows and she knows that he lost. Even if it isn't a victory she can flaunt in his face, he sees nothing but prodding in the returned swing of her hips, nothing but taunting in the way she embraces the season's fashion and the way (he can't help but notice) the fashion embraces her flawless figure.
There is only one time that night's events are even hinted at, and that too is so subtle that it may well just be a coincidence. When Edward brings up that perhaps he might try law school instead of medical school, he is left a scrawl of a note in his music room, his private sanctuary. It is an excerpt, clearly ripped from a legal dictionary and reads:
Alford Plea: In an Alford Plea, the defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court will pronounce the defendant guilty. An Alford plea allows defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt.
Edward never attends law school.
A month later–such a short time for their eternal existence–Rosalie is out hunting and comes across a curly haired man, so like Vera's boy, with death hanging over his shoulder and childlike eyes.
A few decades later, Edward walks into a classroom and smells the sweetest blood and finds a strength he never knew he had, to withstand it.
Whether what transpired between them is simply never talked about or completely buried so deep as to be the vampire's equivalent of forgetting, it cannot be known in certainty. There is always something there between Edward and Rosalie- be it animosity wrapped up in attraction or loathing stoked by a fiery secret. Leave alone being put into words, that night is never thought of, never implied in a glance or a glare.
It's as if it never happened.
Perhaps it didn't. After all, in all of eternity, there has never been a word spoken about it out loud, neither by Rosalie nor by Edward.
Knowing them, there never will be.