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L'Heure Bleue

Summary:
L'heure bleue, the blue hour: Rosalie and Emmett didn't wait until September to return to Forks. Instead, they came back in August -- and, unfortunately for Bella and the other Cullens, they didn't come back alone. Bella and Rosalie get thrown together when a new and unexpected enemy arrives in Forks. When their freedom -- and their lives -- are in danger, can Rosalie's animosity last? Set Post-Twilight; it's my version of the events following that novel. Pre-New Moon.


Notes:


5. Humanity

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4444   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Four
HUMANITY

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Edward never seemed to hold me for as long as I would have liked him to. I wanted to be in his arms forever; anything less was nowhere near enough. This time was no exception.

I don’t know who sighed louder as he pulled back away from me. I’m betting it was me—Edward, ever since Charlie had been setting down his rules, had been very careful with our physical boundaries. He’d always been that way, since we’d first met, and I knew that he wouldn’t change until I was changed. He was too fearful otherwise, afraid that he’d lose his control one way or another and he would hurt me.

It didn’t matter how many times I tried to convince that I trusted my life in his hands, he was equally as convinced that he couldn’t be trusted. Honestly, it could be very frustrating.

He did not let go of me entirely, though; he encircled my wrists with his ice cold hands. His grip was gentle yet firm as he started to lead me towards his house. I didn’t mind. I would follow Edward anywhere.

As if he could tell what I was thinking, I heard him murmur, “You don’t mind that we chose to come to my home, do you?”

I shook my head fervently. “Not at all,” I promised.

He smiled. “That’s good to hear.” I felt him squeeze my wrists gently before freeing one of his hands. “I’m assuming you’re still going to tell me you’re not afraid?”

“You got it.” I tried to give him a tug on his other hand but it was futile; I don’t think he even noticed. “Besides, why would I be afraid?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure a household full of vampires never scared anyone.”

I was walking behind him, he couldn’t see me, but that didn’t stop me from sticking my chin out in indignation. “Should it?”

As he reached out his pale hand, gripping the brass knob on the pristine, white door, Edward turned his head slightly. “What do you think?” Glancing over his shoulder, he offered me one of his winning smiles. The color of the front door had nothing on his teeth—they were bright white, outshining the dim sunlight. I could feel my pulse quicken at the sight, and it was definitely not out of fear.

I didn’t answer him, but I didn’t need to. He chuckled to himself before turning back to face forward. Without me realizing it, he’d opened the door and was already pulling me behind him into the large, open front room. As soon as he had, he reached behind us, closed the door and, before I could react, pulled me close to him.

He had his arms wrapped around me, his chin resting on the top of my head, as he let out a sigh of relief. I don’t know what it was about being in his house, but the seclusion the Cullen home awarded him seemed to make him more relaxed. At the very least, some of the boundaries he’d set up seemed to blur.

Edward inhaled deeply and then I’m sure I heard him moan. His arms were tense, his hold tight, and I could imagine just how tempted he was feeling. Maybe that was why he was acting so moody today, I wondered. Maybe he was just thirstier than normal.

I wanted to ask him how his hunting went—without really checking up on him, I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t making things more difficult for himself—but, as usual when Edward was this close, when he was being this affectionate, I found myself unable to do anything more than feel complete and total adoration.

He really was being affectionate, I realized as he nuzzled my hair with his cheek before letting me go. Not that I was complaining, but the last time Edward had been so hesitant to let me out of his embrace had been during that disastrous spring break—when James had been bent on killing me. It struck me then that perhaps my near-death experience in the parking lot might have something to do with his mood, or maybe he was just acting out that I refused to give up on the idea of working at Newton’s Olympic Outfitters in order to raise money for college.

Either way, once Edward let me go, I debated with myself whether or not I should press the issue. In the end, I decided against mentioning it… for now. Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced at him and I was glad to see that his face didn’t seem troubled; his eyes were alive again. Whatever had upset him on the truck ride over, I thought it was done. There was no reason to bring it up again.

Instead, I let my eyes stray from his face—it was tough—as I looked straight ahead of me at the front room.

It was a beautiful room and I felt the familiar feelings of awe and amazement—as well as the warm, fuzzy feeling at Edward’s touch—that I usually experienced when I entered the Cullen’s home. I took in the beautiful grand piano that was just off to my left, and the winding staircase beyond that. There was a figure on the steps, I noticed immediately, and she turned around as she heard our entrance. We weren’t being quiet, so it was no wonder that we caught her attention.

Due to the caramel-colored hair I saw, I instantly recognized who it was from behind. Rosalie’s hair was blond, even though I knew it couldn’t be her since she was still on vacation in Africa; Alice had a wild array of black hair that stuck out energetically rather than hair that hung in waves down her back. Still, it was nice to see Esme spin on her heel, her warm, gentle face split wide in a welcoming smile.

“Edward, Bella,” she greeted, gracefully descending the stairs as she approached us. “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.” There was a puzzled quality to her voice but her soft features and her warm butterscotch eyes didn’t give anything away.

To my surprise, Edward didn’t seem all that pleased to see his mother turn and head down the stairs toward us. The uneven grin he’d worn had vanished; he was frowning slightly. “Didn’t you?” he asked, as his eyebrows rose. He didn’t sound angry really, just frustrated, and I couldn’t understand why.

“Of course not,” she answered, acting as if she didn’t understand why he’d ask such a question either. Her eyes were wide, illuminating her pale, beautiful heart-shaped face, as they flickered over to meet me. “Don’t get me wrong, dear. We love having you over,” she assured me and I could feel the sincerity behind her words. “I just thought…” Esme shook her head, her hair swaying with the motion, as she gave a little laugh. It was a high-pitched laugh, one that reminded me of a small bell tinkling, and it was very lovely. “I’ve had the house to myself today, you see, and I’m quite glad to have some company.”

That was right. Edward had mentioned that Esme would be home—but hadn’t he said she would be busy with Alice and Jasper?

Before I could say anything, he asked that question for me. “You’re alone? Where’s Alice? And Jasper?”

I know that, courtesy of his gift, he didn’t need to ask many of his questions out loud. Since he could always find the answer in someone’s mind, he only asked for my sake, so I could hear the answer too. I was grateful for his thoughtfulness; it must be hard for him to cater to the limitations humanity held.

“Alice…” For a second, Esme’s eyelids dropped, as if she were thinking, before she met Edward’s gaze again. “She and Jasper have gone out to run an errand for me. They should return shortly after Carlisle’s shift at the hospital ends this evening.”

“An errand.” Edward nodded like he understood but I couldn’t help but notice the careful way he spoke. “And Bella can stay?”

His mother almost seemed surprised that he would ask that question now. “Oh, yes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” It may have been my imagination, but I think she was speaking just as carefully as he was. Not only that, but I also had the feeling that she was meaning far more than she actually.

This wasn’t the first time I witnessed Edward having a silent conversation with one of his family members. I turned to glance at him and I was just in time to see the tiniest of nods.

I felt my stomach tighten. It hated it when he felt he needed to keep something from me. I just hoped he would trust me enough to confide in me when he was ready. He had to know I’d always be there for him.

Right?

I don’t know where this paranoia kept coming from. I thought I was used to the camaraderie between all of the Cullens; how the decades they spent together meant that there was a level of communication between them that I couldn’t even hope to understand. But to watch the two of them, Edward and Esme, standing together, saying nothing with words but, instead, with their manners and their eyes… it was very awkward and, not for the first time, I felt like an outsider.

“Thank you, Esme,” he said formally, reaching out for my hand as he did so. “Bella and I are going to go upstairs. If you need us, just call.”

I loved Esme. Despite the tension and secrecy that no doubt was permeating this room, she didn’t respond any differently. She offered us both a motherly grin—and a knowing grin—as she nodded. “I’ll be in and out all afternoon,” she told us. “You won’t have to worry about me interrupting anything.”

My blush immediately returned and I willed it to disappear. Like Edward, Esme had been a vampire for a very long time. I hated causing her any sort of temptation and I knew the blood rushing to my face couldn’t be making matters any easier. But, like the rest of the Cullens, she never said anything about it.

I felt his smooth tug on my hand and I saw that Edward was already heading towards the staircase. I gave Esme a small wave with my free hand. “Bye, Esme.”

“Take care, Bella. Try your best to keep my son in line,” she added, and I could see the humor in the tiny laugh lines around her mouth.

I grinned. I was still self-conscious but there was something about Esme that set me at ease. And, unlike Jasper’s special gift, it was something inherent to her personality, to her nature, that made me so comfortable, not a manipulation of my emotions. “I’ll try my best.”

“Be good, Edward.”

Edward growled quietly under his breath but it was more a playful sound than an aggravated one. I wasn’t surprised. He may be a one hundred and four year old vampire, but he could still act like a teenager—and any teenager was prone to embarrassment when being discussed by his mother and his girlfriend.

I had to fight back the urge to laugh. I didn’t think he would appreciate it very much.

He led my straight to his bedroom, though it was probably more correct to consider the room his lounge. There was, I knew, no bed inside because, of course, Edward had no need for one. Instead, there was everything inside that could keep him occupied during the hours when the rest of Forks was asleep.

Not that he needed all that anymore, I though with chagrin. Edward, for some reason, found it entertaining to watch over me as I slept. I just hoped it wasn’t because of my sleep talking.

“So,” I said conversationally, once he shut his door behind us, “what did Alice see?”

Edward’s expression was priceless. It was a look of surprise mingled with disbelief, and a pinch of mild amusement thrown in for good measure. “And what makes you say that?”

I know he found it odd how comfortable I was around his family, how accepting I was of their individual quirks. To me, it was common knowledge—around the Cullens, that is—that Alice had visions. I’d actually been the subject of one or two of them myself. I understood that they weren’t set in stone, that one small decision could trigger a wave of new scenarios, but there was one thing about Alice’s premonitions that I was certain of: whether they came true or not, the Cullens—Edward, especially—placed a lot of stock in them.

If something strange was going on now, if Edward continued, despite his best efforts, to act distant and moody, it usually meant that Alice had had a vision. That, and that someone hadn’t liked what he’d seen.

“Oh, I don’t know. Just consider it a hunch.”

“You and your hunches,” he said, smirking. He was, I had to admit, a skilled actor; he’d rearranged his vaguely unnerved expression into one of smugness as if I wasn’t anywhere close to the mark with my question. Which, I had to think as I watched him closely, must have meant thatI was right on the money.

“Well?”

He shook his head, his smirk a secretive smile now, before turning and gesturing towards his open room. One hand waved towards his massive collection of cd’s on one side of the room, the other pointed at the inviting black couch. “What would you like to do? We have the evening to ourselves,” he said slyly, I noticed, trying to change the subject.

It almost didn’t work. I could tell what he was doing, that he was very obviously hiding something from me, and I was prepared to pester him until he’d gave me some kind of information. I don’t know what it was, but it was bothering him, that much was clear. And I only wanted to help.

But, before I could even attempt to ask my question again, or state my concerns, I realized something. I had to go to the bathroom—and bad. When I washed my cut and my hands, I didn’t bother using the restroom and now… now I was paying for it.

“Actually,” I said, and there was a hint of bitterness in my tone. By the time I returned from the bathroom, I knew that Edward would have something figured out to keep my mind off of his strange mood. As I’m sure it would have something to do with his quick kisses, I didn’t mind too much, but still. It was the principle of the thing, “I really need a human minute. Is that okay?”

He nodded, his expressions entirely victorious. “Of course. The bathroom is at the end of the hall.”

I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at him. “I remember. Thank you.”

“I’ll be waiting for you.”

My heart melted just about then. There was no way I could ever be angry at Edward, or even—as I noticed back at the store—that much annoyed. I loved him far too much and I would always be there for him, whether he wanted (or needed) me to be.

I paused at the doorway, my hand on the handle. I turned around and, aware of the faint blush in my cheeks, I said, “I love you.”

“And I adore you, my love.”

I knew, then, that any chance I had to get him to tell me the truth was gone. I was just going to have to wait until he decided to tell me. Though my stomach was squirming from the earnest way he told me he loved me, and the urge to go to the bathroom, it felt heavy that Edward was—whether it was something important or trivial, I didn’t know—consciously keeping something from me. I hated that he felt the need to keep secrets.

Curse my human tendencies! When I finally convinced him to change me, I’d never have to worry about losing another argument with him again because of a full bladder. He would just have to rely on his charm and his ability to dazzle me into submission.

I found the bathroom easily, as I’ve had to use it more than once since I started coming over to the Cullen home regularly. I remember how, at first, I was so amazed that the house actually had a bathroom. But then Edward had reminded me that, even though they didn’t need a toilet, a shower was quite essential when one had to wash fresh animal blood off of them. Also, he had added in a mocking tone, it was quite difficult to find a large house with as many rooms as they needed but no bathroom on site.

I hadn’t been positive if he was kidding or not but I’d let it drop that day. I was too glad that there was actually a working bathroom in the house—there were times when I sure needed it. This was one of those times.

Like the rest of the house, the bathroom was spotless, a sparkling clean. It put my bathroom back at Charlie’s house to shame.

I didn’t take long, though. Normally I marveled on how beautiful the room was, with the shockingly white porcelain tub, and the ornately carved marble countertops near the sink. But not today. I was in too much of a rush to finish my business, wash my hands and get back to Edward.

So preoccupied with getting back to him as soon as possible, I didn’t even bother wiping my wet hands on the fresh hand towels perched on the counter. I wiped them absently against my pants, not even noticing the wet marks that were left behind.

However, when I scurried back down the hallway and entered Edward’s bedroom through the open door, a quick glance around the big room told me that my effort to hurry had been wasted.

The bedroom was empty. Where had he gone?

“Edward?”

“Bella,” he said softly, appearing behind me so quickly that I only had enough time to let out a small gasp as my damp hand reached up to pat my currently palpitating heart. He smiled at my over-the-top response. A smile, I noticed, that barely reached his eyes. “I’m here.”

“Where did you go?” I demanded. I thought he was supposed to be waiting?

“Downstairs,” he answered promptly. “Esme called to me when you were in the bathroom.”

“Really? I didn’t hear her.” I realized how foolish I sounded as soon as the words were out of my mouth. I guess, for a minute, I’d forgotten who I was talking to.

Edward seemed amused. He tapped his forehead with his pointer finger. “Of course you didn’t. She wasn’t very loud.”

I felt my cheeks heat up so, rather than dwell on my embarrassment, I tried to keep the focus off of me. “What did she want?”

“Carlisle’s leaving the hospital a little early today. She was wondering, since I’d picked you up from work and brought you straight here, if you were hungry. Carlisle is willing to bring some human food over for you, if you’d like it.”

“Human food?” I wrinkled my nose, thinking of the Cullen family’s diet. As much as I wanted to be a vampire like Edward, I doubted I’d ever consider the blood of a mammal more of a treat than a Snickers bar. I shook my head. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m really not that hungry.” I neglected to mention that, when I was around Edward, the fluttering butterflies that lingered left little room for a meal.

“Are you sure? I could even attempt to cook something for you, if you want,” he offered. “We do have a kitchen as well as a bathroom here.”

It was nice to hear the concern in his voice, even if he added a touch of his own smugness to it at the end. I tried not to look too taken aback at the idea of Edward cooking. I couldn’t see him being any better of a cook than Charlie.

“I’m sure,” I told him. “I’ll wait until I get home, then I’ll eat dinner with Charlie.”

“Assuming, that is, that I let you go home to Charlie,” he teased.

I put my hands on my hips. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Wouldn’t I?” Flashing me his uneven smile, Edward lowered himself into a mocking crouch. He looked up at me, gazing at me from behind his thick fringe of eyelashes. “Do you care to stake a wager on that?”

He didn’t even give me the chance to continue in our little charade. After letting out one small, playful growl, he pounced. He moved faster than my eyes could follow and, the next thing I knew, he’d swept me up in his arms and threw himself at the black couch one the opposite end of his bedroom. As he always did, he wrapped his arms around me, keeping me safe. Except for the iciness of his touch, I felt nothing but happiness.

Edward was happy, I was happy—and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to last much longer. I don’t know what it was, but something was going on. I just wished I knew what it was.

We landed on his couch, with me lying on top of him. Even if I wanted to move from my place, I knew I couldn’t. His hold was ironclad and I let myself melt against him. His chest was hard and cold but inviting in his own way. I couldn’t think of any other place I’d rather be.

I sighed happily against him, and he chuckled. “What?” I asked, not even bothering to lift my head. I didn’t want to be stolen from this moment—I was going to cling to for as long as I could.

“You really are quite warm, you know.”

“A body temperature of close to a hundred kind of does that to a girl,” I answered, rolling my eyes. I sounded testy but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew what he was doing, constantly reminded me of my human attributes. Talking about using the bathroom, eating food and being so warm… when was he going to learn that I knew all about being human? And understand that, more than anything, I wanted to be a vampire like him?

He chuckled again, rubbing his hand up and down my back. I noticed that he took great care to keep his hand outside of my shirt so that he wasn’t actually touching me. “It feels nice, Bella.”

“That feels nice, too.”

“Good.”

He kept up a steady rhythm, alternately rubbing and patting my back as he hummed under his breath. He was—at the moment, at least—content, even if he was trying to lull me to sleep. It could have only been an hour since I left work; it was probably five o’clock or so, nowhere near bedtime. But I didn’t mind. It was relaxing, and I closed my eyes.

I didn’t fall asleep but how long the two of us lay in that cozy position I wasn’t sure. It had to be a good amount of time because, through the open window behind us, I could tell that the sun must have set; it was much darker now than it had been when we first arrived.

Suddenly, Edward went tense underneath me and his hand stopped in its rhythm. He exhaled briskly and, in his next move, lifted me up gently and set me beside him on his couch. Slowly, he pulled himself into a sitting position, but he didn’t say anything.

I couldn’t understand what he was doing. “Edward, what’s wrong?”

His eyes opened and there was a fire in their golden depths that almost frightened me, it was that intense. “They’re home.”

I gave him a puzzled look. Maybe I was sleepier than I’d thought. “Who? Alice and Jasper?” I asked. “Didn’t Esme say that hey weren’t going to be home until Carlisle finished with work? What time is it?” I struggled to get to my feet, slightly panicked. “Is it really that late? Charlie’s gonna kill me if I stayed out all night!”

“It’s all right, Bella, calm down. It’s not Alice and Jasper,” he said quickly, his musical voice strained for once. There was almost a grimace on his face and, as my momentary panic flare-up faded, I had to wonder why he looked upset.

“Who then? Carlisle?” But it couldn’t be Carlise—he’d said ‘they’, hadn’t he?

He had. “No. Rosalie and Emmett. They’re back.”

My breath caught in my throat, I was that surprised. Edward’s brother and sister—Emmett and Rosalie—had left not too long after the conclusion of their countless senior year of high school. While the story was that they had left to prepare for the following semester at Dartmouth, I knew better. They had taken a trip to Africa; as a married couple, they had been after some alone time together now that their stint as high school students had ended.

The Cullen house had seemed so empty without them, even if I secretly preferred being in a home that didn’t have Rosalie in it. I know it’s a horrible thing to think about Edward’s sister, but it was nice not to have to worry about being around a dangerous vampire that disliked me. I was certain that Rosalie would never do anything to hurt me because she wouldn’t want to hurt Edward that way—not to mention that I honestly didn’t think she cared enough about me to do so.

“Were you expecting them back?” I asked, bewildered. Had he mentioned it and I’d forgotten?

He turned his head away from me, staring at his closed door. It took him a few seconds before he answered me. “No.” He paused. “Not really.”

“Not really?” What did that mean?

Sighing, he lowered his head. “Alice might have seen something.”

I knew it. “What did she see?

Edward shook his head as he stood up. He didn’t look behind him as he held out his hand for me. I took it without a word, waiting for him to answer my question. He’d been sneaky before, changing the subject before I got him to answer my question. I wasn’t going to let him off so easy this time. “Nothing much,” he said, finally. “It might’ve been a glimpse of them in the house but I only saw it through Alice’s mind, so I’m not entirely sure. We’ll learn more if we meet them downstairs.”

I prided myself that I knew Edward well enough by now to tell when he was being less than honest with me. This was definitely one of those times. Why was he acting this way? “But—”

He turned around then, unleashing the full power of his hypnotizing eyes on me. I never had a chance. “Come, Bella. Let’s go say hello.”

I just nodded, nodded and, as I followed him out of his bedroom, hoped that, before this evening was out, I’d have some idea as to what was going on there.