A few weeks before the wedding Bella has a startling memory that could change everything. I dreamed of hall lights and unfamiliar faces, darkness and feeling small and helpless. I woke with a start. May contain triggers
4. What Rosalie Said
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I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling and trying not to think. That was proving impossible. Looking around the room I saw my Jane Austen compilation book. Inspiration struck.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged," I recited to myself, "that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
I couldn't remember anymore of that, so I moved on to Shakespeare.
"Oh Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet."
But then Romeo had a line, and Edward's voice was in my head again. I was tired, but I couldn't sleep anymore. I should get dressed and drive over to the Cullen's, but there was a tiny voice in the back of my head that said that Edward might not want to see me. Don't be silly Bella, I said to myself, he said we will deal with the consequences together. I didn't want to think about the consequences of what yet, so I got up and grabbed my toiletry bag and headed to the bathroom. I cursed the sun as I brushed my teeth. A large part of me knew my doubts were silly, but I wouldn't be having them at all if Edward were still here. I could hear Charlie moving around downstairs, and groaned to myself. I was going to have to seem normal for him. I wasn't ready to talk to him about it yet.
It. That's what I was calling being molested. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stepped into the shower. I was still in shock. It made me nauseous every time my thoughts drifted that way, and yet, a part of me couldn't accept that it had happened. I must be wrong. But the dream was so real. I felt disgusting. It wasn't just that I had been treated that way as a child. It wasn't even that when Renée had suspicions she hadn't left him. It was the betrayal that she hadn't talked to me about this. Ever. That she had left it so that I had been blindsided by this weeks before I was supposed to get married. It was the ultimate example of Renée's selfish and flaky behavior. Did Charlie even know? He was quiet, but would push himself to talk about things that he felt were important. I couldn't imagine him ignoring this.
I stood under the hot water, letting it wash away the tears which flowed down my cheeks. I sobbed quietly for a long time. The water started to get cold, so I turned it off as soon as I could get myself under control. I quickly dried off and dressed, resolving to go to Edward's house as soon as I was done eating breakfast. My resolve only lasted until I got downstairs and came face to face with Charlie. Watching him at the sink washing his breakfast dishes, I heard a little voice in my head.
Edward can't love anyone like you. You're all dirty now. He'll have to leave and find someone better.
Another voice was right behind it,
You are just making this all up. Renée would never let this happen. What kind of daughter are you anyway?
The wave of nausea rose again. I pushed it down deep and carefully kept my face blank. Luckily, today Charlie was on parental autopilot.
"Hey kiddo! You sleep okay?" he asked without looking up from the sink.
"Yup" I lied.
"Got any plans for today?" he continued as I got myself a bowl of cereal, "There's a game on this afternoon, and I'm heading down to La Push to watch it with Billy. Gonna try and convince him to put some posters up down there too." Charlie was annoyed that Billy wasn't worried about Jacob being gone. He'd covered Forks in "Missing" posters and wanted Billy do to the same in La Push. Apparently Billy didn't see the point.
Thinking about Jacob running off weighed me down with another layer of misery and I lost my appetite. The voices were back.
Definitely unlovable and gross... even Jacob had to run away.
This is all crazy... you are such a drama queen. Things like this don't happen to good girls. You are always a good girl, right?
I shook the voices off again. Maybe I should just stay at home today. It wasn't like I was any kind of company in this mood - and Alice would probably want to go over more wedding plans. Ugh. The wedding. I definitely didn't want to think about the wedding just now. Trying not to think about the wedding led to thinking about Alice trying to get me to decide between two photographers, which led to me remembering the photo album.
When I'd left Phoenix, Renée had made me a scrapbook during one of her classes. It was one of her more successful hobbies, and the album was beautiful. It started with a photo of me a newborn, and continued chronologically until the week before I'd left. It included all my school photos and many friends and acquaintances. And I was suddenly sure it contained the one photo that would make me feel less crazy, and more sure that I wasn't making all this up. I quickly dumped my cereal, washed my bowl and ran up to my room. Quickly flipping through the pages, I found the photo I'd been looking for. It showed a family, with six children of various races. My foster family. They were real. Now if only I knew more of why I stayed with them. I was going to have to talk to Renée. I didn't want to talk to her. I just wanted answers. I didn't think I had the patience to try and keep Renée on topic while I found out about the most painful part of my childhood. I sighed.
A car honked in the driveway. I looked up. Who was that?
"Bella, you expecting someone?"
"No, Dad, but I'll go see who it is."
"Tell them to come in. It's rude to sit in the driveway and honk... are they allergic to sunlight or something?"
I laughed to myself, as Charlie was currently watching a sports update in the living with the blinds drawn. Looking out the window, I saw a black Mercedes with tinted windows and I realized that whoever was in the car likely WAS "allergic to sunlight". It was one of the Cullens. I walked carefully to the car, not sure who I was hoping for. I wasn't sure what (or who) I was going to see, but my jaw nearly hit the ground when I realized it was Rosalie sitting behind the wheel. She waved me towards the passenger seat as I stared at her. Rosalie had never willingly come to my house before. She had never picked me up. In fact I didn't think she had ever been here for social reasons. So what on earth was she doing here, on today of all days. She rolled the window down just a crack.
"Are you getting in or what?"
"Ummm," I muttered, really not sure what was going on.
"Just get in the car already. You were planning on coming over today, correct?" she said, irritated.
"Just, let me go get something, and tell Charlie where I'm going, okay?" I stuttered.
"K, just hurry up."
I almost ran back up the stairs, but tripped, caught myself, and realized that a quick walk would be a better idea. I stuffed my photo album into my shoulder bag, and yelled to Charlie, "I'm heading over to the Cullen's!"
I heard him yell "Okay!" just as I closed the the door behind me.
I got into the car and Rosalie immediately took off. Apparently it was too much to ask to find one member of the family who didn't feel that driving 20 mph above the speed limit was "crawling".
We drove for a while in silence. I still didn't know why Rosalie had come to pick me up and it was getting to me. But I didn't want to say anything. I didn't want to talk about what had happened last night. I didn't know if Rosalie knew, and I didn't want to drag up bad memories from her past. I didn't really want to be in this car sitting in uncomfortable silence with someone who disagrees with what I want to do with the rest of my life because she thinks that I should have babies and give up on the most important person in my world.
As my mood got worse, I got twitchy. Rosalie noticed that I was squirming in my seat and grimaced.
"Look, I'm sorry about this. I have some things I'd like to say, but I'm not sure how to start."
"Well, I suppose I should let you know that your... recently remembered past is general knowledge back at the house."
"Oh." I looked at my hands. I didn't know what else to say.
"It was Alice, but it wasn't really her fault. She caught wind of you talking to Edward in your room last night about 20 minutes before it happened, and was all upset and told Jasper. Then Edward came home and Emmett guessed something was up and took him off into the woods for a boy talk, and I guess he told him what was going on. Then you were at home and couldn't make up your mind about whether to come over or not, and it was driving Alice crazy because her visions were changing every few seconds, so she told me why, and I decided enough was enough and came to get you." She shrugged.
I continued to stare at my hands. I knew in theory that the Cullens couldn't keep secrets from each other, but this was the first time it had been put into practice with my life. Listening to Rosalie's explanation it made complete sense why everyone who knew did, but I was still embarrassed. I could feel the flush of emotion rising up my neck and my eyes began to water. I didn't want to cry in front of Rosalie. It would be ridiculous... she'd been through so much more, and she wasn't crying.
"Are you all right? I'm sorry that we all found out this way. Carlisle and Esme are out hunting. They're due back tonight, and Edward will probably tell them. It's easier this way, though. No explanations, and you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
I shook my head, and the tears spilled over. Rosalie's face looked panicked.
"Ummm, don't cry...." She patted me gingerly on the shoulder, and pulled the car over on the side of the deserted highway. "Look, I wanted to talk to you. You don't have to say anything, but I think you should listen. Because while it's not the same thing, I do have some idea of what you are going through. And I wanted you to know that it won't always seem as bad as it does right now." I peeked at Rosalie, sitting far too still to be human in the drivers seat, staring straight ahead. "One day it will seem a little better, and then one day you'll go days, weeks without thinking about it. It never goes away all together, but it becomes... manageable. Bearable." She grimaced, an odd expression on her beautiful face.
I nodded. I didn't really agree with her. She understood more in this moment than any other person I knew could, and yet she still didn't really get it. "Sure."
"Great. I knew this was a bad idea. 'Sure' - That's the best you can come out with?"
I lost it. I had not slept well, every emotion I had was rubbed raw and I just saw red. "Look Rosalie, thanks for your help, but I don't know what you are hoping to accomplish here. I'm trying to deal with this in my own way in my own time, and I don't need you or anyone else to tell me how to do it." I took a deep breath and kept on going, the pent up feelings pouring out of my mouth, "I don't know how I'm going to feel next week, tomorrow, or later today. Right now I'm just a big mess, and I would appreciate being left alone to just get on with it. It's not like anyone really wants to get involved with this, and I know you'll all feel like you should and that you have to be there, and pick me up and put me back together, but I don't need your pity, and-"
"Pity! You think I'm here out of PITY? Are you crazy?"
"No, I'm not crazy! Thanks!" The tears were welling up again, hot and angry. "I just don't need anyone to think that they have to stick around while I go through this. Because I've got this fucked up thing to deal with and I don't want anyone to feel like they have to stay and deal with this out of some sense of obligation."
She gave me a piercing look. "This isn't about me or the rest of us, you're worried about Edward aren't you?" I nodded. She shook her head. "I've never seen two people ever who were so bent and determined to not put the other one out. He's at home, ranting and raving to Emmett so that he doesn't upset you, and you're locked at home with Charlie not wanting anyone to help you because we might only do it out of "obligation". Here's what you need to understand though. Edward loves you beyond all reason. Love IS obligation. When you love someone you are OBLIGATED to help them. That's the whole point of the marriage vow, right? For better for worse? Any of this sound familiar?"
She smacked the steering wheel with both hands. "See, this is why I didn't want to do this. I just wanted to get it out of the way before someone asked... I knew they would, they all think like that. But it's not like I can help. It's not really like that. You have to decide to this on your own. I can't do it for you. It's not like there's a blueprint or a plan or something. I can tell you what I did, but that's no good, because revenge doesn't really help. I'm not sorry for what I did, but it didn't help, and it's not something you can do right now anyway." She attacked the steering wheel again.
I nodded. Revenge was definitely not something I was thinking about right now. I cleared my throat. "I do want to let it go. I do. And I will. But I have to find out what happened first. Because I really don't know enough. And I'm really hurt that my parents didn't deal with this at the time. At least, I'm disappointed in Renée. I don't think Charlie knows either. At least not the whole story. But Renée didn't deal with it. And she should have. Because she's my mother and that's her job." I sighed. "Do you remember when you came into Edward's room and told me your story?" She nodded. "I wanted to tell you about this then, but I didn't really know how. You said at the time how different we were, and I don't think you really understand why. Renée is a neat person, but she's a lousy parent. I know it's kind of a running joke at your house that I'm this clumsy, accident prone human who needs to be looked out for all the time, but honestly this is the first time in my life that anyone has seen me that way. When I lived with Renée I was her sensible, born-middle-aged daughter, who was the one who made sure the bills got paid, and that we had groceries, and that she was being safe on a date. I made sure we had a map in the car, gave her directions over the phone when she got lost, and made sure she turned things into work when they were due. I gave my own mother a "safe sex" talk when I was fourteen years old. And it was never fair for it to all be on my shoulders, but there was no one else to do it. Because Renée wouldn't. Couldn't. I don't know."
More tears, this time with a sob. Rosalie looked at me while I completely broke down, and slowly and hesitantly began to rub my back. "Shh, Bella. I know. You're not alone anymore. You've got Edward. You've got me - well, US really. And we will look after you, whether you want us to or not."
I nodded and sniffed, wiping my fave on my sleeve.
"You know, that whole nose goo thing is really gross." she added conversationally. I gave her a watery smile, and she relaxed noticeably. "I meant what I said earlier. Once you get some answers, it will be easier to live with. It happened a long time ago, and it doesn't change who you are inside." When I looked a Rosalie, I felt like I was seeing her for the first time. This was her personal mantra. This was how she lived with terrible things in her past. This was how she held her head high. I felt so privileged that someone strong like Rosalie could ever consider me her sister. It helped. The part of me inside that had been sure that I was changed and awful and not worth knowing was still there. But it had an angel that looked like Rosalie sitting on it's shoulder, telling it to stop being ridiculous.
Rosalie didn't seem to notice that I was lost in thought, and kept on talking. "Actually, if you get your own way after the wedding, you may not remember it anyway." That hadn't occurred to me. Edward had told me that human memories fade after the change, with only the really strong and important ones stay with you as the years past. He could remember going to baseball games with his Father, what kind of cookies his Mother had baked him, but couldn't remember much about going to school. Rosalie had said something about it too, the first time she'd told me her story. That she could remember the night she'd been attacked but couldn't remember her brothers. My memories of Steven weren't strong - I could hardly remember them at all.
"Although," continued Rosalie, still unaware of my inner turmoil, "there's always the chance that you'll come to your senses and change your mind." I grimaced involuntarily. Rosalie sighed. "I know you think I'm some kind of bitch, but I just don't think that you are thinking this all the way through. And I wouldn't want you to regret it later. Or for Edward to regret it later. And I really don't get how anyone would choose this."
"I don't think you are a bitch. I just... don't think you can understand my point of view any more than I can understand yours. If it were possible for me to have babies and get old and whatever WITH Edward, than I would. Honestly. But it's not and I can not and WILL not live and do those things without him." My voice broke again. The idea of not having Edward left me feeling panicky.
"I know, and I wish I had easy answers or any answers or something. I just know that if I had been asked... I would have said no." She looked at me, and I looked at her.
"I know. And I feel differently. And I appreciate that you are looking out for me." I said softly. "And I've listened to you, and I think I need to make my own decision from this point onwards."
"I know. I don't like it, but I know. And if you ever want to change your mind...." she trailed off, suddenly embarrassed.
"You'll be the first to know." I promised, feeling just a bit lighter. Rosalie and I had been at odds over this for a long time. It felt good to agree to disagree.
Rosalie looked at me, and I looked at her. Without another word she turned the car back onto the road, and headed for the Cullens house.
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