|After the Storm
Author: Malianani PM
In the wake of the storm, one thing remains. Will it be enough to carry them through? Pre-Twilight, canon compliant, one shot, Esme POV.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort - Esme & Carlisle - Words: 1,563 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 3 - Published: 03-12-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7919628
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
After the Storm
The house has never been so silent. No concertos ring out from the new Boesendorfer in the parlor; no murmured conversations trickle in from the library—not even the soft swish of a page turning in a book. The only sound is the steady tick of the old grandfather clock in the foyer below them. For a moment she listens to the pendulum sway, softly marking the passing seconds. There has always been a grandfather clock in every house in which she's lived—at least, that's how she remembers it. The clock, like the lace curtains in the windows and the gay flower arrangements that decorate each room, is a sign of peace and reassurance . . . of home and family. Normally, it's a sound that brings Esme comfort. Now, it's a second-by-second reminder of everything that is wrong.
She turns her head toward the open window. All that's left of the storm is the fresh, wood-damp scent of rainwater clinging to the windowsill. She watches as the breeze brushes through the thin, white lace curtains. The full moon casts a silvery sheen through the fabric, throwing frenzied patterns against the walls and over the bedclothes. Her eyes trace them across the top of the quilt and over to where he lies, silent and unmoving. For all his patience and peaceful countenance, Carlisle has never before seemed so quiet, so still. She has always been in awe of his ability to live the human charade so impeccably. Now, he stares unblinkingly at one bare spot on the far wall. He looks cadaverous under the glow of the moon, his skin taking on the pale bluish cast of the newly dead.
Reaching for his hand, she draws herself closer to him. "Everything will be all right," she whispers. Her fingers brush through his hair. It feels soft, like corn silk. Suddenly, he seems so small and lost, like an orphaned boy. She kisses his forehead and his eyes close.
Carefully, she runs her fingers over his face, tracing down along his taut jaw and finally, across the thin line of his pale lips. Bending down, she brushes her lips against his, closing her eyes in relief when she feels him sigh against her mouth as his kiss trembles to life. She presses against him more fervently, running her tongue along his lips, moaning in relief as he opens to her and she deepens their kiss. She feels his fingers brush delicately along her back. For one selfish moment, she basks in the sensation before his hands fall away.
"It's all my fault," he says. His voice is barely audible, even with her enhanced hearing and being as close as they are. She feels the bedclothes shift as his hands contract into fists.
"You know that's not true," she murmurs against his cheek. She feels his jaw tighten as she speaks and she knows that convincing him will take more than kisses and soothing words.
She suddenly feels a rush of energy flush through her. It is a strange, unnamable sensation, but not completely foreign. If she were still human, she imagines how her heart would race—how the energy would burn white hot through her veins, seeking release. It's been a long time since she's felt this sensation and at first, all she can do is let it wash over her in waves, crackling and crashing within her, like an electrical storm at sea.
She hears Edward's voice, then, ringing through her mind as clear and proud as a bell. "I liked it, Carlisle. I want it. It's who I am, and I won't deny myself any longer."
"Son . . ." she hears Carlisle whisper, but his word is lost in the sudden storm of Edward's rage.
"You are not my father! My father is dead. You can go on pretending you're the perfect human with the perfect life and the perfect family—but you won't do it with me. I won't lie to myself anymore."
Again, she sees his eyes as he stands at the top of the stairs. They glisten red—blood red—with the life force of whatever poor wretch happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when Edward decided to give in to his baser desires. She watches his mouth curl into a snarl as he pushes past her on the staircase, flinging the front door open wide as he races into the rain.
"No, no, no . . ." she hears Carlisle mumble as he darts to the open door. She feels her heart shudder against his desperate cry as she watches him sink to his knees the doorway, the rain pounding against him.
She breathes deep as the memory shakes through her and settles heavily onto her aching chest. A part of her understands why Edward left them. She knows how hard it is to follow this lifestyle, to deny the thirst for human blood that shadows each of them like a specter wherever they go. And yet, each day, they make the choice to do the right thing and preserve human life. It is the only choice that keeps them all from falling into the abyss—from losing their humanity altogether and becoming mere beasts. She thinks that, as a family, they would cling to that purpose together and carry each other through. Isn't that what a family does? Stick together through thick and thin? Uphold one another?
But Edward made a different choice. And now she and Carlisle are left to pick up the pieces and somehow refit them into something resembling normality—whatever that looks like.
"It isn't your fault," she says again, sliding her hand down the arc of his cheek. She thinks she feels him begin to lean into her fingers, but he abruptly turns his head away.
"I was selfish . . . from the very beginning."
Esme leans in closer, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her lips against the smooth slope of his neck. Slowly, she feels his body loosen and curve into hers, fitting so perfectly that she can barely believe there was a time when she had lain next to a different body—one with hard lines and angles that always jabbed and poked, no matter how she shifted her weight.
She remembers the first day she awoke to her new life. She had been so confused at first. She thought she felt a breeze brush against her cheek and for a moment she believed she still stood on top of the cliff, her toes tipping precariously off the rocky ledge. But when she opened her eyes, the cliff's gray shadows were replaced by a stunning prism of light that seemed to dance across the face of a man she recognized immediately. Even though she had only met him once years before, he had somehow entered into her and become a part of her, like the blood that pulsed through her veins or the very breath in her lungs.
Unfortunately, her transformation did not mend all the wounds she sustained in her human life. It had taken her months to struggle through the dark night of pain Charles left in his wake to finally trust another man again. But Carlisle's patience and compassion knew no bounds. And though she knew even before he confessed it aloud that he had been hopelessly in love with her from the very start, he had waited until she was ready to open herself to him. Was that being selfish? Was his desire to share the bottomless well of love that dwelled within him selfish?
"Love isn't selfish, Carlisle." This much she knows. Love doesn't bully its way into a person's heart or demand that a person be or do what it wants only to satisfy its own needs. Love waits. It sacrifices. It stretches beyond itself, even into dark places where pain dwells and answers are scattered in pieces on the ground. And even if Edward can't embrace that love now, she knows that the love she and Carlisle have is strong. Stronger than Edward's anger, or the pain of her human past, or the hundreds of years Carlisle spent in loneliness.
"You loved him enough to let him go," she whispers into his ear. "We loved him enough. And we'll love him when he comes home again."
He turns to her then, shifting in the cradle of her arms until their noses nearly touch. For a moment, she watches as his lips tremble on the verge of speech or tears.
"Do you really believe he'll come home?" he finally whispers and she looks up into his eyes. They shine silver in the moonlight, and in them she sees a glimmer of the boy who lived centuries ago—the motherless child who longed for nothing more than the warm assurance that he was loved. That all would be well.
"I do," she breathes against his lips. "I do."
And as she welcomes his tender kiss, she knows that their love is strong enough to weather every storm.
A/N: Once again, thanks to my talented and fabulous friend and beta, Woodlily. Her keen eye and insights make all the difference.