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every second of every hour

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The house is quiet in the early hours of the morning. Charlie slumbers on the couch, the television playing quietly. Wind makes the house creak on the east side, and Rosalie listens to Bella pace her bedroom.

She had dropped Bella off almost half an hour ago, and tagged off with Esme when she rolled up in the Royce. The others are packing, much faster, and more efficient than Bella.

Because she can hear Bella sit on the corner of her bed, can feel her hang her head, and hear her sigh. She wonders if Bella can hear her father drag himself up the stairs. When he knocks on her bedroom door, Rosalie leans back against the car and crosses her arms.

Inside, she listens to Bella scrape her shoes over the hardwood floor. "Come in."

"Hey, bud, I was just about… Hey. Hey, look at me. What's wrong?"

Her mate sucks in a sharp, jagged breath. "I did something," she says around tears and Rosalie has to grab the door handle to keep from flying up those stairs. "I-I did something."

"Hey, okay," Charlie soothes and the bed springs squeak again. "It's okay. Talk to me. What did you do?"

Bella sniffs. "Something bad. I did something really bad, and I - I'm sorry. I had to, it wasn't wrong, I know it. But it was really bad and now I'm in trouble."

"You're okay, bud. I got you. You're okay and I can fix it."

Rosalie's heart aches when Bella sobs sharply. "No, actually, y-you can't. I have to go. I can't stay."

"Why are you packing? Kid - Bella, why are you packing? Where are you going?"

"I killed Sam, dad!"

The house is silent, other than the wind whistling through cracks.

"...What do you mean?"

"I mean, he's dead. I k-killed him and he deserved it and now I have to leave!"

Charlie is up on his feet, his footsteps are heavy. "Like hell! Ain't no kid of mine rotting in prison for that bastard. I'm your alibi, Bella. They can't prove it. Did you touch anything there, we need to go-"

"No, dad… Dad, listen to me. Dad. Dad, listen!" Bella snarls and the walls shake. Rosalie can hear Charlie's heart stutter. "The pack saw me do it. Everyone saw me do it. They told me to leave and never come back."

"But I…"

"It's complicated, dad. And you know that. For all the reasons you're too scared to talk about. Because of that thing you know but won't face. For the same reason I can smell your fear."

"Then…" his voice is soft and hesitant. Hurt. Scared. "Then they know why you did it. They know what he does. It was self-defense."

"There are rules and I broke them."

"Rules that protect him and not you?!"

"Rules that protect you. And I jeopardized that. I can't be trusted, and now I'm a risk within the pack. A wrench in the gears. Which means they can't protect you. I… I have to leave."

His breathing is bumpy, slow. Rosalie can almost hear how fast his thoughts race. "But I didn't fix it, yet. I thought… I was gonna fix this, Bella. I was gonna make you proud, I was gonna talk to Harry and the others. I was gonna save you. I was gonna fix it."

"I don't need anybody to save me," Bella mutters darkly. There's shuffling, a hand on a shoulder. "Probably thanks to you, though. You raised me, tough as nails. Enough that I could… well. I'm grateful for that. And," she sniffs again, and Rosalie is happy to hear her heart calming down, "and listen, I'll call you. Okay? Wherever I land, I'll call. We'll figure something out. Promise."

"Do you need money?"

"No, I got a weird best friend who took care of that. Don't worry about me."

"That's my job."

"Then do." She listens to her mate shrug. "But I'm golden, pop. Life is fucked, but it's done its worst to me and I'm still standing. Carved me into something stronger than itself. Take comfort in that, yeah?"

"I do. Bella. I'm sorry."

A bag is swung around, buckles and pins. "You know what's crazy? I'm not. I'm not sorry. Not even a little. I'm… I'm free, dude. And I got a smokin' girlfriend that I'm pretty sure is waiting for me outside. I got some kickass people outta all this. Wouldn't trade it for anything."

"Can't you stay a little longer?" Charlie's voice chases after her and Rosalie listens to the wolf bound down the stairs.

Eager little puppy.

She examines her nails, feigning disinterest while Bella calls back a rushed, "Nah, I gotta go. They're coming for my head, I think. She's outside. I can smell her."

And she's going to have to tell Bella to stop informing people how much she's smelling them because it's kind of weird.

The front door swings open with a crack that echoes through the yard and has birds flying off from nearby trees. The corners of Rosalie's lips curve up ever so slightly and she lifts her eyes to gaze softly at her mate. Bella stops short, a few feet away, with Charlie standing on the porch. His eyes are watery, puffy, but hers are dry. Red - Rosalie knows she was crying, but dry.

She nods at Bella. "Swan."

"Hale," Bella replies. She rubs her hands together, looking down the street, and back. "You going my way?"

A single shoulder rises and falls. Barely. "Perhaps. Which way are you going?"

"Wherever you are, babe. Stuck on you like glue… if you'll have me."

She works her jaw, a little better at taming the butterflies in her chest. A little more used to them. To Bella. A little better at… this. "You're not going to actually make me say it, are you?"

"Nope." Bella grins and hops forward another step. "But it would be super romantic if you did."

Golden eyes roll to the sky and Rosalie scoffs. "Always, Bella."

"Nerd."

"You're the one who wanted me to s-!"

She's cut off with a kiss. A kiss she sighs into, slumping back against the car, and cradles Bella's face between her fingertips because god, her girlfriend is cute sometimes.

It's ironic every time Bella melts into her, because she burns like the sun, but it might just be Rosalie's favourite thing in the entire world. How simply and wholly Bella's desire of being close to her is.

So trusting.

A vulnerability that Rosalie's first instinct isn't to attack.

How far she's come, in such a short amount of time. Esme would be proud. She should probably talk to Esme.

Esme's probably waiting. Worrying.

Rosalie hums and pulls away. She smirks, feeling Bella's pouty growl in her chest, and shakes her head. "We need to leave. Wolves are coming for your head, remember?"

"I still think it's dumb you guys let them on your land when you're violently banned from ours - theirs, I mean," Bella says and sighs.

Rosalie is on the other side of the car in the blink of an eye, and she can hear Charlie's startled gasp. "It was Carlisle's attempt at peace. Very effective, no?"

"Right," she snorts and slides into the passenger's seat. "So sassy."

"You knew what you were getting into."

Forks passes them by quickly. Maybe a little too quickly, for Bella, who has her face glued to the window. Rosalie tries to slow down, but she's… excited. Add to that the guilt she feels for being excited, and she kind of feels sick. Dizzy, maybe. Delirious?

Content.

Much more than she usually feels, at least. She's drowning in her emotions, and that's all the more reason to speed, to reach the others faster. Reach Jasper.

The wolf leans her head back against the seat and looks over at Rosalie. A smile stretches across her face, to the point Rosalie looks away, flustered. "I did, you know."

"What? Stop smiling like that."

"No," Bella says and sticks out her pierced tongue. She motions towards the vampire lazily. "I knew what I was getting into," Bella explains finally, her brows furrowed in a serious sort of way. "I watched you, in the beginning. A lot. I, uh, god, I don't know what it was but I just couldn't look away."

Rosalie hums thoughtfully, biting her tongue against the borderline demands of knowing everything. Why did she stare, what was it, what made her keep pursuing, what did she think?

But patience is a virtue, or so Jasper keeps telling her. And Bella is worth Rosalie's best self, so she struggles to be better.

The wolf nods to herself and shifts in the seat, sitting mostly sideways to look at Rosalie's profile. "It was the fourth day, it was Thursday when you finally spoke to me. It was in gym class, we were doing laps, and I'm still not sure if you're aware that you were racing me."

Golden eyes widen. "Okay, first of all - I, damn it, Bella, I remember that! You just had to be faster, you couldn't stand being slower than me."

"I wasn't racing! You were running too fast, and the Cullens already stick out a little too much! I was helping, they know I'm human."

"They don't know I am not, and you were laughing."

Bella chuckles, much to Rosalie's aggravation, and pinches her nose. "You were just so obstinate and angry about a dumb gym warm up."

"I was not."

She gestures to the death grip Rosalie has on the wheel. "You're angry just talking about it, Hale."

"I am not," she grinds out and forces her hands to open.

Bella shakes her head, a fond smile on her face. "Okay. Well, we got to the end. Forty-two laps in ten minutes, how nobody noticed is beyond me. And after that, when he blows the whistle, you stomp over and snarl in my face."

"...I have a few regrets in life, Bella, and-"

"I will physically end you if you ever so much as look in my direction again."

Rosalie groans and hangs her head at a red light, holding her face in her palm. "I am… I'm sorry, Bella."

Bella leans closer, eyes narrowed. "... Are you, though?"

And Rosalie bounces in her seat to glare at her girlfriend. "No, okay?! That last lap should not have counted, you got forty-one laps, and only because you were going to blow our secrets. had to be the responsible one, otherwise I would have won."

God.

Bella falls back in her seat to laugh. Her dark eyes water and she holds her stomach, gasping for breath while Rosalie struggles to hold onto her scowl. Bella grins, and any sorrow from the day is a distant memory in that moment. Joy shines in her eyes. "That's when I knew."

"Knew what?" Rosalie grumbles.

And Bella shrugs. "That I would fall for you, if I wasn't already."

Golden eyes snap to her and the two just sit there, watching each other.

Bella… could love her?

That's what that meant, yes?

She didn't actually say she loves Rosalie, but that she would.

Does she yet?

Or will she?

Rosalie licks her lips. "Bella…"

"Don't," the wolf warns and holds up her hand. "A lot of shit happened today and most of it was bad. I don't want to spoil the good things with it, you know? So I won't say it. Won't say what I feel."

Blonde eyebrows inch up.

"But I do. So you know. I do, and, you know. I don't wanna freak you out again, so don't read too much into it," Bella grunts and awkwardly fishes around in her pocket. She hesitates, staring down at her fist, and holds it over to Rosalie. "Promise you won't freak out, if I give this to you?"

"No," Rosalie whispers but holds out her open palm anyway.

And it might just be perfect, the timing of it all. That the next song in her Disney playlist happens to be this one, at this moment, with Bella in her car.

A ring falls down into Rosalie's open palm.

No chance no way I won't say it, no no
(Give up, give in, check the grin you're in love)
This scene won't play I won't say I'm in love
(We'll do it until you admit you're in love)
You're way off base I won't say it
Get off my case I won't say it
(Girl don't be proud it's okay you're in love)
At least out loud I won't say I'm in love.

The End