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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:


6. Homecoming

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4158   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Five
HOMECOMING

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Standing at the top of the stairs, I saw Edward’s siblings before they saw us.

Not that that was all that difficult really. Emmett and Rosalie would stand out in any crowd, let alone when they were only standing with Esme.

Emmett was as big as I remembered, if not bigger. He seemed to fill up a majority of the front room but whether that was because he really was that massive or because his personality was so huge, I couldn’t tell. His smile, as he gingerly embraced Esme, was so wide, so bright, that it could power a spotlight.

In comparison to her husband’s bulk, Rosalie was very petite but I knew that was partly due to my perspective at the top of the stairs. In actuality, Rosalie was slim yet statuesque; she had nearly half a foot on my five foot four inches.

She, like Emmett, was wearing a smile at meeting her mother figure again. She looked absolutely gorgeous—I tried not to feel like an insignificant speck in the scope of her overreaching shadow—and I realized that I’d rarely seen her smile. If possible, it made her flawless face even more beautiful.

I had the sudden desire to turn around and hide in Edward’s room until she’d gone away again. Whenever I saw Rosalie, I couldn’t help but remember how he’d told me that she had been changed in the hopes that she would be his mate. Though he reassured me that he saw her as his sister only, it made me uncomfortable to stand so close to her. What if he was making a comparison between us and realized how woefully plain I was?

Not that everyone wasn’t plain in comparison to Rosalie but still… no one ever said that jealousy had to be rational.

I didn’t have a choice, though. My hand was still in Edward’s and, as if I offered no resistance—and I guess I didn’t—he carefully led me down the stairs. We went slowly and I had to wonder at Edward’s reluctance to seeing them.

We didn’t announce our arrival but, as soon as we stepped down from the last stair and started to walk towards where Rosalie, Emmett and Esme were congregated just inside the doorway, we had their full attention.

“Edward!”

Emmett’s roar was unmistakable and I could tell that he hadn’t changed one bit in the time that they’d been gone. He clapped his brother on the back—harder than necessary, given his strength, but Edward didn’t even flinch—before turning his big, goofy grin on me. “And Bella! You still here? Edward hasn’t eaten you up yet?”

If it was anyone but Emmett who’d said that, I think my heart might’ve plummeted straight to my shoes. But Emmett was Emmett—a big ol’ teddy bear. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it and the tight hug he gave me cemented that belief.

I hadn’t been expecting him to move, and I doubt Edward did either. At any rate, he didn’t intercept Emmett but I’m sure it bothered him. He really did think I was that delicate and he barely trusted me with himself, let alone anyone else—including his brothers.

But Emmett was careful and, though it was fitting for him that he gave me a great big bear hug, it was no worse than some of the hugs my mother had given me out of worry. In fact, it felt nice that Emmett was so comfortable around me.

Now, if only Rosalie would feel the same way…

I dared another glance in her direction as Emmett pulled back and, his golden eyes twinkling in amusement, looked daringly over at Edward. I could imagine the argument that Edward would have with Emmett over his impulsiveness later on; I would have to remind Edward not to be such a worrywart.

Rosalie was standing still, listening to something that Esme was whispering in her ear. She nodded and I wondered if she’d even noticed that me and Edward had come downstairs. How could she not? Emmett was so loud in his greeting that I couldn’t imagine how anyone—especially someone with a vampire’s sense of hearing—could have ignored it.

It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would have that she didn’t even look my way. Actually, her cold shoulder was much preferable to the hate-filled looks she used to give me. I’m a coward and a chicken—it was easier to handle being ignored than to feel like I had to answer to her glares.

On reflection, I’m sure she noticed that I was standing there. Trying my best to be sly, I watched her for a few seconds and I realized that, just as I’d expected, her smile was missing from her face. This close, I could also see that there was something different about her eyes. Like the rest of the Cullens, they were golden, a lovely topaz, but hers seemed almost cloudy.

I know I was staring. Rosalie, well aware of her supernatural beauty, was used to being watched at all times and I didn’t think she would acknowledge my obvious gawking. However, as if she could feel the heat of my stare, her head snapped in my direction. Our eyes locked then and I felt my knees go weak. There was nothing but anger written on her face.

She only held my gaze for a second before she moved her head again and glared at Edward. If possible, her eyes hardened. Her jovial smile was nothing but a memory.

“So, Bella, how was it in rainy ol’ Forks while we were gone? I see you haven’t drowned, so that’s a plus.”

I heard my name and I realized after a beat that Emmett was talking to me. Almost reluctantly, I looked over at him. Behind me, Edward and Rosalie continued to, for no reason I could see, face off.

Emmett’s smile hadn’t wavered once and his happiness was almost contagious. “Rainy, mostly,” I answered, shrugging my shoulders in a “what can you do?” manner. “How was it in Africa? Did you enjoy your vacation?”

I’m not an idiot. I knew exactly what Emmett was doing: taking my attention off of what was going on behind me. Esme had gone over to Rosalie’s side and, again, she was whispering to her blonde daughter. Her voice was, to my ears, a high-pitched buzz; I couldn’t hear anything over the roar of Emmett’s voice as he told me a story about some vicious lion he’d had as a dinner date during their time in Africa.

For a second, I imagined Emmett, Rosalie and a full-grown fuzzy lion sitting at a table, sharing a meal of zebra and antelope. If I hadn’t been so curious—or so worried—about what was transpiring between the three Cullens behind me, I think I might’ve burst out laughing.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see that Esme had moved to stand next to Edward. Her hands were moving in a calming gesture as she muttered something to him. What I wouldn’t have given to know what she was saying.

The only thing I did know was that Edward didn’t seem to agree with her. He gave one stubborn jerk of his head, frowning as he glanced back at Rosalie, before moving forward. I felt his hand, cold as ice and just as hard, as he let it settle on my shoulder.

I took that as my cue to let my attention wander from Emmett back to Edward. Emmett must’ve known that his temporary role as distracter was through; he let his story trail to a close as he reached out his hand for Rosalie. As if she was made specifically to fit the mold of his body, she melted against his side.

All anger had faded from her as she hugged him but there was something else there, something I couldn’t fully describe. This was much sure, though: I’d never seen her wear such an odd expression.

There was no denying the fact that something was going on, something I wasn’t privy to. As he moved forward, almost standing in front of me as he put himself between me and Rosalie, I could see that Edward’s jaw was set and his eyes seemed to be darker than they’d been since this morning, before he’d gone hunting. I could read his expression as easily as if I was able to read his mind. Whatever was going on, he wasn’t planning on telling me about it.

Not yet at least, I added silently to myself. I hoped he didn’t think so little of me that he thought I wouldn’t say anything about this strange afternoon.

My eyes were curious as I turned to look at him questioningly. He gave his head a little shake before clearing his throat. “Bella, it’s getting late and I’m sure Charlie will be wondering where you’ve been,” he said formally, and I nodded. I’d been expecting him to take that route. “Are you ready for me to take you home?”

Edward really could be predictable. I’d known this was coming and secretly I was glad. I was positive that Rosalie had not been pleased to see me in her home when she returned from her vacation and, despite Emmett’s delight at seeing me and Esme’s assurance that I was always welcome, I wanted to get out of her hair.

If I wanted to get any information out of Edward, it would definitely be more advantageous to get him alone. I was lucky that he wasn’t just sending me off by myself. Not that I’d thought he would—he seemed to have this idea that I could get lost in my own backyard.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Okay.”

I don’t know what it was about me that gave my intent away but Edward tilted his head when he heard my answer. Narrowing his eyes and staring at my face, it was like he was searching for something. I tried to look innocent—we were still surrounded by a good part of his family, after all—but I’m sure I failed.

Edward chuckled to himself and, after a moment’s hesitation, held out his hand. There, resting on his pointer finger, was the key to my truck. He nodded at it. “Here. I’ll even let you drive.”

Oh, he was good. He knew that I wanted to ask him about what Emmett and Rosalie’s sudden arrival meant; he also knew that, with my attention on the drive back through Forks, he could very easily distract me from my questioning.

Well, two could play that game. “That’s alright, Edward. You can drive,” I said sweetly, grinning. It was a sacrifice—a big one—but it was one I was willing to make. I was curious and he was trying to hide something from me. So what if I let him drive my truck again?

Besides, the next time he tries to take my keys, I’ll just have to remind him how anxious he was to have me drive.

Edward didn’t argue with me. I’d almost expected him to but, instead, he flipped the key into the air before catching it quickly, folding his fist around it. I was nervous that he might have accidentally squished it but I knew better than to get too worried. He was very good at controlling his strength; after close to a century of masquerading as a human, he was a pro.

In fact, he didn’t say another word. He did shoot a look at Esme over his shoulder and I could see that his eyes were still troubled, but he remained silent. I was sure that, whatever was on his mind, his family would know about it after I was home.

Which also meant that he wouldn’t be staying over with me tonight, I realized. That made me a little sad but not as much as not knowing what was bothering him. I hated it when Edward had something on his mind, something he felt like he couldn’t share with me. Despite his protests to the contrary, I was an open book. I shared everything with him—well, everything I could. Why didn’t he feel the same way about sharing with me?

I guess it came down to the fact that, not only had he been a vampire for almost a hundred years, but he’d also been the solitary type for just as long.

He was waiting for me at the front door and I could feel the urgency behind his stare. I quickly said my goodbyes, addressing even Rosalie though I kept my eyes on Emmett. I made sure to thank Esme, as I always did, and I promised that I would see them all soon.

I wished that Alice and Jasper had returned from wherever they had gone. Every situation at the Cullen house was much less strange when Alice was around—and, of course, Jasper’s special gift could be very handy when things went tense.

Rosalie remained silent and I wasn’t surprised. No matter what Edward said, I couldn’t believe that she was jealous of me. Still, I knew she disliked me and I’d given up on ever hoping that that would change.

Emmett, he held his hand out, waiting for me to give him a high five. It took me a second to understand what he meant and when I, blushing as I did so, placed my small hand against his massive-sized one and gasped at the difference in size, he just laughed.

I didn’t notice it before but I really had missed him. It was good to see him back.

Esme wished me a good night and told me to make sure Edward got me home in one piece. It made me smile that she knew her adopted son so well—Edward’s driving was legendary in the Cullen household, if only for the way that Alice found it funny for the way I often complained about it.

Edward’s touch was light on my shoulder but I could feel it as he gently steered me towards the door. There was no use resisting him and I didn’t even try. I waved my hand as we left, offering one last goodbye. I felt bad, leaving so quickly, but I’m sure there was no need to. They knew Edward well enough to understand his reactions.

I thought that he might try to convince me to drive again one we were outside but I guess his sense of preservation was too strong because he didn’t. He just walked straight to my truck and opened the passenger side for me before finally letting go of my shoulder.

“In you get.” He gestured to the empty seat with his hand, a mocking smile on his face.

“Thank you,” I retorted, trying to sound peeved rather than grateful. I climbed into the cab without another word.

He stood outside of the truck for a minute before rolling his eyes and shutting the door for me. He didn’t slam it, though; I took that as a good sign.

Before I’d even had the chance to blink, he entered in through the driver’s side doorway. He glanced at me once—I turned my head immediately, not wanting to be dazzled right away—and then sighed. It was a low sound, a quiet sound, that was nearly drowned out by the roar of my truck. Something was really on his mind.

I noticed that, as he started to back up, Edward didn’t turn the radio back on. I was grateful for that. The way I figured it, it would be easier to convince him to open up to me without the distraction an upbeat 50’s tune could cause.

It was steadily getting darker out. It seemed that it was nighttime when we were leaving the Cullen property but, as soon as we turned onto the main road, I saw that it was twilight—Edward’s favorite time of day.

I watched as he started to head back into town, my truck groaning in protest as Edward tried to push it too hard. Like always, he was in a rush and his impatience was noticeable. I felt bad for my truck but I knew it could handle the mild strain Edward’s foot was currently causing the gas pedal; it was a real trouper.

The quiet seemed heavy, punctuated only by the occasional sounds coming from the truck. I wasn’t sure how to break it—I wanted to start this conversation just so. If I didn’t, it would be no problem for him to come up with a million and one reasons why not to tell me what was bothering him. I needed to give him the one reason why he shouldn’t keep secrets from me.

As it turns out, I didn’t even have to say anything first. He did.

“Something’s on your mind, Bella, and I’m sure you’re dying to share it with me.” While smiling a smile that didn’t go so far as to extend anywhere but his lips, he made a show of bracing against the steering wheel. “Go on, I’m ready.”

I didn’t appreciate the way he was acting so lightly: it was as if I was the one making a big deal out of everything. I had half a mind not to even bother trying to find out what had him so worked up…

Then I realized that was probably what he wanted. Hey, I knew all about reverse psychology—my dad was a cop, after all.

Just for that, I didn’t even try to lead into a full conversation. Instead, I just blurted out the question that was on my mind.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

There, I said it. After all the concerns and worries I’d had since he picked me up from work, I think he owed it to me to answer that one simple question.

I just hoped Edward saw it that way.

He didn’t say anything for awhile. Instead, he stared straight ahead, looking like he had on the majority of the ride over to his house. I almost didn’t think he was going to answer me again.

But, thankfully, he did. “I’m… I’m not sure,” he admitted finally, without a trace of humor. “I didn’t want to worry you.”

“I hope you know that, by not telling me all afternoon, I was more worried than if you’d mentioned that Emmett and Rosalie were coming back. They’re your family, Edward. Why would I be worried?”

It was nice to see that he looked a little sheepish. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. “I am truly apologetic.”

He sounded so serious that I could barely hold on to my mild anger. I loved it when he spoke like that, when he sounded just like the gentleman he’d been at the start of the twentieth century. It was that, more than anything, that reminded me who I was with—and it fascinated me.

“You don’t have to be,” I said, trying to sound like I meant it. “I just… I just wished you could tell me everything. It’s hard to feel like you’re purposely keeping secrets from me.”

“That was never my intent!” Edward suddenly sounded very angry and, I couldn’t help myself, I let out a small gasp. He heard it and, when he spoke again, he was much gentler. “Oh, Bella, I really am sorry. I was very foolish, I see that now, keeping it all to myself. Esme wanted to let you know but I didn’t want to upset you, or worry you even. I know how you care for Emmett, and I didn’t want you to be hopeful that he was returning. As for Rosalie…”

“Just don’t do it again,” I said quickly, cutting him off. I knew my relationship with Rosalie was not one of note but I didn’t actually want to hear Edward say that out loud. It’s hard, hearing that someone so close to Edward could have such a dislike towards me.

“Yes, ma’am,” he laughed, and the tense atmosphere that had settled over the truck was dispelled with the cheerful sound. The knots in my stomach unraveled then and I knew then that everything was all right.

Only one small thing was still bothering me. “I do have a question, though,” I began, sounding both hesitant and curious. I knew I was pushing my luck but this was one aspect of his behavior I couldn’t understand.

“Only one?” he asked, glancing over at me. His eyes were twinkling in the twilight. “I’m getting off easy tonight.”

I ignored that. “Why does it bother you that they came back?” I knew that Edward was close to Emmett and he normally tolerated Rosalie, even if she wasn’t his favorite sister. It made no sense to me that he would be so annoyed at their return.

Edward sighed, louder this time, and I felt guilty for producing such a sad sound out of him. I didn’t want him to worry any longer. “It’s… it’s not that.”

“Then what is it?” I didn’t understand and I wanted so desperately to.

“Remember how I told you that Alice saw something?” He waited until I nodded before continuing, “She did, and she shared it with me. I was within range of her mind when we were driving to the house and I picked it up then. It wasn’t definite, there were too many variables but…” He shook his head. “In the end, it didn’t matter. Whatever their reasons, Emmett and Rosalie have returned earlier than expected. I just wish there’d been some warning to their arrival, something more than a flash of a vision by Alice.”

I think I finally understood what he meant. At least, the way he was acting this afternoon made some sense. He’d been playful, even cheerful, when he met me at work; his sudden change in attitude had happened during the car ride. If he’d been seeing something that Alice had already seen, it was no wonder that it made him so antsy.

Edward, I knew all too well, did not like having only a few pieces of a puzzle; he needed to have the puzzle completed, glued together and framed.

Reaching towards him, I placed my hand on top of his. Maybe it would help if I tried to put things a little into perspective for him. “But aren’t you glad that they have come back?”

“Of course I am,” he said quickly. I think he was trying to reassure himself more than me. “The house is always so quiet when Emmett is away, and the bathroom vanity always vacant.” He grinned to himself at his little joke. “Rosalie must have missed her mirror while on safari.”

I only just managed to bite my tongue in time. It wouldn’t help the situation between Rosalie and me at all if I resorted to picking on her perfection.

And then, because I literally—even if I didn’t mean to—bit my tongue to keep quiet, I let out a small cry. “Ow.”

Edward laughed, even if I could tell that there was still some unexplained, lingering worries running through his head. It was a rich laughter and, if it hadn’t been for the throbbing pain on the right side of my tongue, I might’ve enjoyed listening to the sound.

Instead, I frowned. “I’m glad I’m such a source of amusement for you,” I muttered, more annoyed at myself for doing something so stupid than at him for laughing at my stupidity. At least it took his mind off of everything else that was bothering him.

“Aw, I love you, too, Bella.”

If it wasn’t for the fact that I was pretty sure that my tongue was swelling up a bit, I would have stuck it out at him. Maybe next time I wouldn’t try to be so understanding. I’d spent half my evening worrying about what was making him worried and, not only did it turn out to be something kind of silly, but what was my thanks? I bite my tongue and he laughs.

At least we both got a little lucky. I could have made my tongue bleed. And that wouldn’t have helped matters at all.

I kept my head turned away from him as he continued to drive. Now that he’d confessed, I almost wanted to tell him to pull over and let me drive the rest of the way to Charlie’s house. Let’s see how smug he was when I got back in the driver’s seat.

Even though he couldn’t read my mind, I’m sure Edward had no trouble figuring what sort of thoughts were running through my head. He was chuckling under his breath—I tried to ignore how the sound cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up—and I could feel his eyes on the side of my face.

Then, gently flipping over the hand of his that was under mine, he intertwined our fingers. The rush of electricity that flood up my arm and touched my heart caused my minor pout to turn into a satisfied smile, no matter how hard I tried to hold onto it.

I turned and looked at him. His golden eyes were twinkling again. Shaking my head, I said, “You’re impossible, you know that?”

The cheekiest grin I’d ever seen him give me split his face. “Oh, yes. I know.”