The beautiful vision that was Rosalie, such was she in life as in death, walked into the drawing room with a small book in her perfectly manicured hand. She held in a displeased sigh at the company that awaited her there.
Edward sat on the piano bench though he played no melody. Instead, he looked contemplative out to the gardens through the big windows Esme loved so much and sulked. But it wasn't his normal brooding that he indulged in most days, no, instead, his brow was thoroughly furrowed in displeased concentration.
"And why, pray tell, are you brooding this time?" She asked in her crisp cultured voice. It was a testament to his pondering that he did not rebuke her comment on his mood.
"Carlisle is reciting medical texts," he said for an answer.
Rosalie frowned, confused as to why this was, apparently, such a bothersome problem.
"Is that all? He is a doctor." Rosalie reasoned, somewhat confused.
"Hm. He only does that when he doesn't want me to know something." Edward explained, concentrated frown setting deeper in place. "He's been doing it a lot lately."
The indignation that rose inside her was almost instantaneous. How dare he-
"Then leave him alone!" She said outraged.
Finally, Edward turned to look at her, his face puzzled, like he couldn't understand what could possibly have her in a mood this time.
"Let him. Keep. His thoughts. To himself. Mansen." She said pointedly, barely keeping her ire in check.
"Why would I do that?" He seemed annoyed at her reaction yet evidently puzzled. The blatant disregard for Carlisle's privacy shouldn't have surprised her by this point, but it did. An unexpected gasp escaped her at his words.
"Why, you little disgusting-"
"Children," the vampires in question turned in unison at the voice. Esme had stopped in the middle of the double doors to the drawing room, a vase of flowers in her hands. Her eyes held a slight warning with an edge of displeasure as she looked at them. "Behave. If you're going to fight, it's outside, remember?"
She nodded, content enough with their answers and moved on. Once she disappeared from view they glared at each other.
"What is your problem?" Edward asked, irritated.
Rosalie scoffed then, and before taking a decision that would end up with Esme making them rebuild her precious house, she turned around and left the room, all but fuming from the ears.
"Unbelievable," she heard him mumble.
What was unbelievable was how he managed to completely miss why she was angry with that gift of his. Edward was dull, and becoming a vampire had not cured him of the ailment. His mind reading abilities had not helped at all.
Rosalie sat down in the dining room, slamming her book down and almost tearing it apart when she opened it. She willed the story to calm her down; the family didn't need another fight between her and Edward so early in the week. She mumbled the words to herself out loud as she read until she was distracted enough to calm down.
A while later, Carlisle came out from his study, coat on and trusted scarf in hand. He looked ready to go out. Through the open door at the other side of the hallway, he found her sitting at the far end of the dining room.
"Rosalie, kitten, I am going for a stroll. Would you care to accompany me?" He asked.
From her place through the opening to the drawing room, Rose could see Edward turn his head with an incredulous expression on his face at not being invited to this outing. He would have most likely declined to go however, but it was the principal that mattered. The woman smirked, very satisfied by the turn of events.
"Of course, Carlisle," she graciously accepted as she stood up. "Let me get my hat and coat, I will meet you outside."
The pale haired gifted her a sweet smile and she could do nothing but reciprocate the gesture.
They lived close to a tame forest where they could hunt mostly undisturbed. They walked there surrounded by tall thin trees and the musky smell of wild creatures hiding from the predators. From them.
When Rosalie had heard they were going for a stroll, she thought for sure he meant to go to town; the day was perfectly overcast to hang around the other people, which Carlisle liked to do very much. It was a little uncomfortable with the delicious smells that would waif around them but the blond woman indulged the head of the house from time to time. Rosalie liked to reminisce of her gone days of humanity. Still, the forest was quite nice too, so it wasn't a bothersome change of events.
They walked quietly, her hand held in the inside of his elbow, Carlisle's steady presence beside her always a comfort.
"May I speak frankly?" He asked after a while. It made her chuckle under her breath.
"I don't think I have ever spoken with anyone more frankly than when I began this life with all of you. Of course, Carlisle, please." She nodded to him.
He said nothing though, taking a moment more for himself, as if gathering strength for touching upon a hard topic. It tarnished a little of the tranquil enjoyment the walk was giving Rosalie, but she waited for him.
"I know this life makes you... unhappy, Rosalie. That it is not one you would have chosen for yourself." She stiffened, not at all expecting his words. Yes, everyone knew she was unhappy, but it wasn't something they talked about. Much less something to be brought up so unexpectedly.
She began to have an idea now why they were having a walk far away from the house and out of the presence of humans. If Edward's words were anything to go by, this was something Carlisle had been thinking about for a long time.
It still stung yes; that she'd have to endure this forever more, than she couldn't have what might've been, that she felt her life had been perfect and it had been ripped away from her. Oh, but the breaking of her golden life had been torn from her before the coming of Carlisle. Of that she was well aware. That had never been his fault.
"Carlisle, I've already accepted your apology." She tried to go for a softness she did not feel towards her vampiric life, but the man was quick to intercede.
"This is not about that," he said hurriedly and then looked down, quite again for a moment. He smiled at her then, rueful. "Forgive me, I am finding it difficult to express what I want to say."
Rosalie nodded slowly, uncomfortable by the topic at hand but willing to let him speak. Carlisle sighed heavily and the corner of her mouth lifted without her consent. Of them all, it was him who leaned the most on the mannerisms of humans, even when he didn't need too. Such had been how much he had ingrained them onto himself.
"Rosalie, this is not about my guilt. I am just… setting context." They reached a small clearing where a tree had fallen some years ago by the anger of a storm. He sat her down, always the gentlemen, and then sat beside her.
The blond woman frowned at that, why must her unhappiness be the context of their conversation?
"You know I would never begrudge you this feeling Rose," he smiled smally at her, as if he were the one who could read her mind and not Edward. "What's more I think I understand it, in a way." He took a moment for himself then squared his shoulders. "You remember how I came to be a vampire."
"Of course, the London sewers. You resisted your thirst until a dear came upon you."
"Indeed," he nodded. "I have left some details out of the story for my own sake but… I think I should like to tell them to you now. I was not fond of this life either, Rose."
"I would imagine," she said kindly, "how could you be? Believing vampires nothing more than terrible demons." They said nothing after that, both knew the thought had not been wholly changed from his first centuries of life.
"Yes, but it was more than that. I could not… live with myself as I was. I could not bear the thought that I might hurt someone for what I had become." Rosalie could tell it was hard for him to look into her eyes as he laid himself bare before her, but he persisted. "For a long time I tried to end my immortal life by whichever means I could."
The woman tensed, her eyes wide with shock. She did not interrupt him, but she reached for his hand, gripping it tightly in her own.
"It was quite a hard feat as you might imagine, and back then I had no one to tell me the rights and wrongs of this life, no one to tell me how it was that our bodies worked or what we needed. I only knew I… I only knew I was not succeeding in my endeavors." He turned his hand so he would be holding hers instead. "I do not tell you this so you will pity me child, this is just-"
"Context?" She interceded and he smiled grimly in response.
"As time passed I finally abandoned my search for death and found, perhaps not oddly enough, that I now searched for life."
He was a doctor now, Rosalie knew there was nothing that brought him more joy than helping humans heal and live.
"But in my travels, I did eventually learn that our lives could be ended." He said, matter of fact.
"Rosalie," he said as he knelt on the floor so that instead of her looking up at him it'd be the other way around. His hands holding hers gently. "I have been giving this some thought and I think it is only fair that I offer this knowledge to you, if you want it, this option."
Her blue eyes looked incuriously down at him, she already knew what Carlisle was offering her, but somehow it was still hard to grasp.
"I do not think it is an evil thought to want to die." He told her with quiet steadiness.
"Yes you do, you think suicide will lead into damnation." Rosalie crooked.
"Well, we are already damned-" he stopped himself there. "Regardless of what I think Rose, I still hold onto what I said. I understand not wanting to be… this, having no desire to be caged to this existence, and that in itself is not evil. I do not think so anyway." Carlisle squeezed her hands tenderly, but then Rosalie stood up and backed away from the kneeling man.
"Why are you telling me this?" She had not thought it possible for her voice to still wobble in her second life, where every move was perfection and every slight action graceful. It seemed she could still be caught off guard though. She was being caught off guard right now.
Carlisle stood up, dusting the knees of his pants as he gathered himself, but he was more sure than he had been when they had started this whole conversation.
"Rose, I want you to have the choice I never could." Was all that he said as Rosalie herself was trying to gather her thoughts.
There could be death, there was an end to this horrible life, this wretched existence that they suffered. No more blood, no more thirst, no more yearning for what she could never have. If she'd been human, she was sure breathing would be very hard at the moment.
"How can it be done?" She asked almost against her will.
"Well, the body must be torn to pieces and then burned, you would not be able to perform this on your own."
"So you would do it?"
"I would do it yes, if you wanted it," he said solemnly but with resolve.
"How?" It was not a complete idea or thought, she could not fathom the words. But in her heart she knew it. How could he ever do this? It would break his heart beyond repair, of this she was sure of.
Carlisle loved, beyond everything, he loved deeply and completely. He loved humanity, he loved nature, he loved all of them as if they were his own. She'd even seen regret upon his face when they hunted. To do this would destroy him. And still… Still he offered her this silver lining. This glimmer of hope that it could be over and done with. That's how much he loved her.
"I apologize if I presumed too much, but I felt if there was even a chance that you might want this it was beyond question that I offer it to you." His hands were clasped in front of him, Carlisle was keeping a respectful distance ever since she'd stepped away. But Rosalie wanted him to come close again and take her hands in comfort for she dared not move herself.
"Out of all of us… If there was ever one of us to be saved from damnation as you believe, it would have been you. You have never killed anyone, you have dedicated your life to service and goodness and compassion." She wanted to laugh at herself, she sounded like Edward right now, throwing flowers at Carlisle's feet. It didn't stop any of it from being true. "Still you would kill me?"
"If that's what you wanted, I would." He smiled softly at her, there was not one grain of doubt in him.
Rosalie turned her back to him, unsure of what expression her face was betraying from her, she could almost feel the phantom beating of her long dead heart.
"I… I need time to think, Carlisle." She managed to say steadily enough.
"I understand," he said quietly, Rosalie finally catching the first glimpses of regret in his voice. "Would you like me to send Esme your way? To make you company or maybe have an unbiased ear?"
Esme would not be an unbiased ear, but she appreciated the thought anyway.
"No, I am quite alright thank you. I… will take a while though, I think."
"I will tell the others not to disturb you." Carlisle always said other's instead of family when he referred of them to her. He knew it made Rosalie uncomfortable.
She nodded though, glad for the respite. Carlisle's footsteps began to walk away.
"Carlisle!" She turned, not wanting to leave this one thing unsaid.
"Yes, Rosalie?" Not Rose, not kitten. She needed to say something before he left and got trapped into his guilt and sadness, which he always did his very best to hide. He was not punishing her with the lack of endearment, but respecting the boundaries he perceived she had just raised between them.
"Thank you, for this. Really. I'm just rather overwhelmed at the moment." He smiled at her, sweetly.
"Take your time, there is no rush." And with that he was gone.
He was right, she had all the time in the world. All the time in the world…
When Carlisle returned home without Rosalie it was curious. When he returned and told the family not to disturb her it was even more so. And when Edward got a look in his face of deep curiosity the blond man turned to look at him with an unusually severe expression and said:
"You are not to go after her, is that understood?"
Edward fumed a little, but he understood, grumbling an answer under his breath. He'd obey. After his years hunting down murderers it was still a tender nerve the idea of disobeying his father in all but blood. He would not go against Carlisle again.
Rosalie was gone for two days and she was yet to return. Carlisle was still reciting medical textbooks in his head and Edward was growing tired of it. The procedure of the day was of the slow and precise method one should use when removing the appendix from a living human without killing them. The bloody imagery was only making Edward hungry so he slowly relented from trying to figure out what was going on with his father. He made the recitations background noise as he tended to do with the multitude of thoughts inside the Cullen household.
Esme herself was getting antsy, but Carlisle reassured her that everything was fine. Rose would be back when she was ready.
Rosalie was not as well versed as Carlisle was at keeping Edward from figuring out her thoughts, but she understood the basis of the process. Replaying memories wouldn't work cause those tended to lead to different memories and different thoughts. It had to be something with structure and that would not have room for divergences. Medical texts were all fine and good but she didn't know them. She decided a song would have to do.
She returned to their home, the voice of Edward drifting towards her as soon as she opened the door.
"She's back," he said softly. Swiftly, Esme was by her side, a worried look on her eyes yet a pleased smile on her lips.
"Rosalie," Esme said in pleasant tones.
"Carlisle?" Was all the blond woman could say. She didn't have Carlisle's practice nor his focus; if she started talking she would lose track of the song in her mind, and then her mind might go away from her, and Edward would realize what all this was about and snitch. It would happen eventually she knew, there were no secrets in this family, not when Edward didn't understand that he didn't have a right to the privacy of their thoughts. She knew he could not help listening in to them, but he also lacked the courtesy to keep their secrets to himself.
Esme's smile thinned as she pressed her lips together, Rosalie had no doubt she wished she could read her mind right now, just as Edward.
"He just got back from the hospital, he's in the attic," Esme said. Rosalie could only nod in thanks as she rushed up.
"Kitten," Carlisle looked up from a book he was inspecting from a box at his feet, a small smile on his lips. Through the song she recites in her mind- the long verses memorized in life carried to her second one- she could tell there was something sad in his expression. She was glad though, in some distracted corner of her mind, for she noticed Carlisle had defaulted again into calling her pet names.
Without a word she took his hand and pulled him away from the attic. They could talk once they're far away enough. As they closed in on the main entrance Esme stood to the side of the corridor. She fret though she tried not to make it evident.
"Going out again? So soon?" She asked them nervously.
"We will be back, my love," Carlisle reassured her tenderly. Then he turned to Edward, caught halfway to standing up from the piano bench. "Do not follow us, understood?"
"Understood," the redhead grumbled under his breath, flopping back down.
Through her concentration, Rosalie had enough thought to smile at that, quite pleased again to see Edward be put down a peg.
"Would you like to race?" Rosalie asked once they're alone in the dark of the early morning forest.
"Ah… of course Rosalie, where to?" He looked taken aback for a moment but he let this pass with grace, following her lead.
The woman shrugged, not really sure herself. But she felt a need to go, to move, even if her body would not tire of it.
"The birth of the river close by is a few miles away?" Carlisle offered.
She nods, and they run.
When they reached the river Rosalie didn't stop, she kept going and her foster father followed without a word. They stopped once they reached a tall hill covered in verdant grass. Dawn was just peaking through the horizon as deep purples began chasing away the darker shades from the sky.
They sat down, both of their hairs in disarray from the speed of their run, but there was no one around to judge them for it. Rosalie noticed a tear in her dress, she frowned, quite displeased by herself.
"Do not worry, I am sure a tailor can fix that right up, or if not, you can get a new one just as beautiful." Carlisle said easily. She smiled at him.
Rosalie had wondered many times as to why he was like this, her human father would've never doted on her this way, though her mother, if caught in a good mood, might've doted on her just the same as Carlisle. In the past she has thought of both kind and unkind reasons for him being like this. Mostly she thought it was because he'd never had small children of his own and had never learned the subtle art of saying no to the every whims of a babe, and so, he offered these whims himself now, unasked for.
"You sure want to spoil me more than I already am?" She answered graciously. At least that's what Edward says. Carlisle chuckled at his expense but didn't seem too preoccupied in his own defense.
"I thought about what you said," Rosalie starts after a while, the colors of the sky softening with the slow crawl up from the sun. "And you are right, I am unhappy. I hate this life. There are few things I do not hate every day. I am… miserable." She confessed looking at the dawn. In her solitude, once she had done her fair bit of thinking, it had surprised her just how much she really despised her existence. Even though they all knew it already, she hadn't realized how every displeasure and unhappiness soaked into every moment. It was devastating to take account of how huge her misery was.
"I see," Carlisle said simply, his face clear of emotion, he too, was not looking at her.
But Carlisle could not fool her, not at that moment anyhow. She didn't know when she had learned to read him, but somewhere along the years, and maybe it was just another part of being vampire, she had come to know how his mannerisms shone through him. Rosalie could tell he was profoundly sad. Perhaps not about the idea that he'd have to kill her, though she imagined that would hurt him terribly, but maybe it was more that he had failed in making her happy and maybe the idea that she did not want to stay with them.
"But I also realized that… I do not think that I am ready to go." She stated.
Her foster father turned his head so quickly she heard a snap. He was quiet but eager to hear what more she had to say.
"Truth to be told I… I do hold you all very dearly," she looked at him finally.
"We do too Rose," Carlisle told her encouragingly. "But you do not have to let us keep you like that if-"
"Carlisle..." she interrupted him softly. "I really appreciate what you are saying but..." She looked down at the damp grass for a moment. "I want to stay. I want to live with you all still. At least for the years to come I..."
And in that moment Carlisle did not need her to say more, he knew by the look on her face what little fears grip at her.
"Rose," he took her hand with slender fingers. "You need not fear me taking away this choice from you. If you ever want it again, if you are ever ready to go... I will be there for you, no explanations or reasons needed," he told her in tender sadness. The smile on his face warming her dead heart.
She did not need to say more. Rosalie closed her eyes and leaned on his shoulder, her hand still gently cradled in his own.
He was beautiful. A holy thing brought to earth. A poem that breathed life. In all his bloody and gory wonder, half dead and delirious with pain, this man was the most beautiful thing Rosalie had ever laid eyes upon. It felt right to be close to this human, to hold his cooling hand in hers.
Suddenly, she couldn't be glad enough to have declined Carlisle's offering all those years ago. This man, this, it felt… it felt like her reason to be alive.
She needed to find Carlisle right now, he would help her, she was sure of it.