Title: The Snow Globe

Summary: When Esme's idyllic newborn life takes an unexpected and frightening turn just days before Christmas, can an equally unexpected experience show her the true value of her gifts of faith, hope and love? A Twilight twist on a classic Christmas tale. Canon.

Pairing: Carlisle/Esme

Rating: T

Word count: 5,534

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Snow Globe

Esme paused to take in the beauty of the wintry woodland scene surrounding her. The freshly fallen snow possessed just the right, rare consistency that allowed it to cling to the branches. It was a spectacular view worthy of framing.

"Only God could create such a perfect work of art," Carlisle murmured reverently, his low tones quickly absorbed by the thick blanket of snow.

"You read my mind!" Esme exclaimed. It was astounding how often she and the man who had recently brought her into this strange new life had similar thoughts. At times, it was as if they were somehow connected.

Other than the sound of the crunch of the snow under their feet, they strolled in silence and admired the splendor of the forest not far from Carlisle's home before they began to hunt in earnest. As they continued to walk, Esme became increasingly distracted. Carlisle was carrying a box under one arm. He knew she noticed it, but said nothing. It was one of the games Carlisle liked to play with her – seeing how long he could draw out a surprise. Not that he was being cruel – quite the contrary. Carlisle had found living with a mind reader most frustrating, so he enjoyed stringing Esme along with surprises just because, well, he could. And she played along because she could tell he got great joy out of surprising her, as well as giving. Watching her squirm in anticipation was his icing on the cake.

"Okay! You win. What's in the box?" she blurted out.

"I know!" a distant voice called out mockingly.

Esme rolled her eyes. Edward was out of sight, off hunting already, but his gift was, unfortunately, far reaching. "It's not that impressive anymore, Edward."

"It's a gift for you." Carlisle held the box wrapped in plain paper and tied with string. It must have just been delivered by post.

"But Carlisle, Christmas is still days away and … and I haven't gotten you anything, or Edward for that matter. He's so young; I would have really enjoyed putting something under the tree for him. And –"

Carlisle held a finger up to her lips. "Shh. We understand. It's still too soon for you. We've both been through the newborn stage, remember?" When Esme opened her mouth to protest, he tucked the box back under his arm and cocked an eyebrow.

Esme press her lips together in a pout and dropped her shoulders in defeat. He knew her so well already. Her curiosity always outweighed her need to protest. "Okay. You win again."

He smiled. And she melted. It was the same smile that made her swoon as a young woman, unchanged by time. He would remain as dazzling as he was today for all time, and if she was lucky, she'd have that long to be in awe of it.

Patiently, he held the box while she untied the string and delicately tore open the paper. After all, just because someone has super strength, didn't necessarily mean it had to be used. Patience was a virtue, Carlisle often reminded her in his wisdom and experience.

"Oh, Carlisle! It's beautiful!" Esme gasped. And it was. Nestled in the sturdy box, surround by balled-up newspaper was a large snow globe. The scene inside portrayed a small town, and in its square, a tall, decorated tree complete with a glittery star on top.

"Turn the key on the bottom," Carlisle instructed, pleased with Esme's initial response to his gift.

Carefully, she turned the globe over and gave the small dial several turns. The melody of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" filled the hushed space around them. Esme turned it upright and the "snow" swirled and drifted around the town's Christmas tree.

"I love it. Thank you," she said, suppressing a twinge of pain in her heart for having nothing to give in return. She knew Carlisle heard her genuine gratitude, but could still see the hurt in her newborn eyes.

"This is to celebrate the first six months of your new life. You are doing so well. Keep it up, and by next Christmas we'll be shopping on Main Street, I promise."

"How much longer?" She cringed as her voice took on the tone of a whimper. It was often lonely in her self-imposed isolation in Carlisle and Edward's home. At times, she felt she might go mad with boredom.

Carlisle looked into her pleading, dark crimson eyes – and lied. "Soon. Now let's hunt before Edward leaves nothing but scrawny rabbits."

Esme turned her nose to the wind to seek out prey. And a man's fate was sealed.

"Carlisle!" Edward read Esme's thoughts and sounded the alarm, but it was too late.

With the speed only a newborn could harness, Esme was driven by hunger and led by a scent she and Carlisle had kept her so isolated from since her rebirth that the rush of it was all-consuming. She was drinking the warm nectar before her mind could catch up to her keen predatory instincts.

Seconds later, Edward and Carlisle skidded to a stop before her. Esme was sitting in the snow, hugging her knees to her chest with the dead man's blood oozing down her pale chin. Her wide eyes stared at the hunter sprawled on the snow as the realization of her actions sunk in.

"Hunting season is over!" Edward exclaimed as if it could justify both the man's unfortunate death and Carlisle's carelessness. "He shouldn't be here." Edward's nose wrinkled. "And…something about him doesn't smell right."

"There's no way to undo this damage. We can only attempt to contain the fallout." He lurched for Esme, pulling her to her feet and shaking her shoulders. "Snap out of it, Esme!" It took a few more shakes before her eyes left the dead man and focused on Carlisle. "Go home. Do you understand? Go home!"

From deep inside, Esme felt the unfamiliar pulsing drive of self-preservation. It was just as strong as the drive that consumed her when the smell of human blood hit her system.

She ran.

At top speed she wound her way through the trees that didn't appear as beautiful as they did just innocent moments ago. Now they seemed to leer and crowd toward her, threatening to punish her for her heinous deed. A deed she knew poor Carlisle and Edward would have to cover up.

Somehow in her blind dash for the safety of home, she came across the snow globe. Intact, cushioned from the fall from her hands by the snow, it called to her. Esme scooped it up and continued to run until she reached her room. Shutting and locking her bedroom door against the visions plaguing her mind proved ineffective. Esme curled up on her bed, snow globe clutched to her chest as her vampiric brain churned out negative images and berating thoughts faster than she could comprehend them.

She had killed. Taken a human life. For the first time, she had experienced the scent and taste of human blood and it was temptation and satisfaction beyond what she ever conceived was possible. Esme let out a wailing sob. Everything would change. She was a killer. Sweet, kind Carlisle could never harbor such an evil influence on Edward, who struggled himself with, as he named it, the "calling" of human blood. Undoubtedly, Carlisle would ask her to leave. She was weak, the only one of the three of them who had killed. She began to shake uncontrollably. Esme knew she was falling in love with Carlisle, and now all that could be over before it could even begin.

The thought of being on her own again was debilitating, and without Carlisle and Edward, this life had no meaning or purpose. What would keep her from killing again and again?

"I can't be this. I can't be this." Esme's body shook violently. The room began to spin and distort as her brain resolved for a second time to end it all.

As a queer feeling overtook her, the snow globe began to vibrate against her chest. Esme scrambled across the bed away from it as it continued to shake and bounce. Then suddenly, it started to grow – bigger and bigger and bigger –

Esme jumped from the bed just before it collapsed from the globe's increasing weight. She pushed herself into the corner of the room as the snow globe with its blizzard of snow swirling inside like a tempest filled the room.

Esme squeezed her eyes shut when it seemed the enlarging object would crush her. Then she heard a popping sound. When she opened her eyes, she was standing on a dark street, snow buffeting her body.

She called out for Carlisle and searched the veil of white for anything that could tell her where she was or how she got there. Wrapping her arms around her body and lowering her head, Esme began taking steps into the strong headwind. Moments later, a faint glow appeared in the street ahead of her.

"Hello? Is someone there? Can you help me?"

The spherical glow came closer and closer, and for a moment, Esme considered running, but something about the light was mesmerizing. She watched its approach.

When it stopped before her, she could make out the shape of a person within the glow, yet her senses picked up nothing – no scent, no body heat, and no sound other than the howl of the wind.

And then all of it stopped. Everything went still. The wind died and the snow fell fast to the ground as if it were small pebbles cast from a shovel. The night sky was clear for as far as Esme could see.

She blinked several times in astonishment. A slight woman stood before her. She was dressed in a simple, cotton shift, yet she was so beautiful, Esme wondered if she, too, was a vampire. But no, the woman still had no scent and her eyes were a crystalline blue.

"W-w-where am I?" Esme croaked.

"Look around you," the expressionless woman said.

Esme assessed her surroundings and gasped. Before her stood a tall, decorated tree complete with a star on top. In the middle of a quaint town square.

"I'm inside my snow globe! How is that possible?"

The woman let out a soft chuckle. "My dear, you are vampire. How is that possible? Surely, you must believe by now that anything is possible with God."

Esme began to cower as comprehension set in. "Am I to be judged for my sins, spirit?"

The woman before her began to glow brightly and her dress transformed into an brilliant iridescent silk gown as large wings as white as the purest snow unfurled from behind her.

Esme dropped to her knees and bowed her head before the magnificent sight of glory.

"Be not afraid," the angel spoke, her voice gentle and clear. "I have been tasked to give you one last opportunity to appreciate the truth."

When Esme raised her head, the angel had resumed the appearance of the woman. "I don't understand," Esme whispered.

The angel held out her hand. "Come, I will show you."

Esme walked mutely next to the angel down the darkened main street of the empty town. "Where are we going?"

"To the edge of town, just up ahead."

Esme knew when they had reached the point the angel mentioned as the road split into three different paths: one to the right, one to the left, and a very dark road straight ahead. It looked like a tunnel into nothingness.

The angel came to a stop and turned to Esme. "What happened today was a terrible, terrible thing. But all things happen for a reason. Joy and sadness alike have their place and time." The angel pointed to the road ahead. "This is the road you have currently chosen. It is very short and infinitely dark."

Esme hung her head. "Suicide."

"You have been saved once from that road, yet you would choose it again?" The angel's voice was firm, but somehow held no judgment. Instead, she seemed genuinely perplexed.

"I have tried to be a good person – in my human life as well as this new one – but I seemed fated to coexist with evil. That is not something I will ever choose."

"And the heavens know this, my dear. It was thought that if you were saved, you could accomplish the great deeds upon this earth you were destined to do."

"God gave me a second chance – as a vampire?" The revelation rocked Esme to her core.

"Everything happens for a reason."

"But I killed as a vampire! I must not be allowed to do so again."

"And so we have come to this." The angel again pointed to the shadowy road ahead. "You can take this road – again. Or, you can travel down your new path." She pointed to the right. "Or you can choose to go back." She gestured to the road to the left.

"Back?"

"To your human life."

Esme's eyes widened as she took in what the angel told her. "How?"

"Let me show you."

Together, they stepped onto the path leading back to Esme's human life. A sound startled Esme and the angel smiled. "It's just your heartbeat."

Esme clamped her hands over her heart. Sure enough, it was beating within her chest. She took a deep breath, relishing the feel of her chest expanding. Her steps quickened as they walked.

Soon, they stopped at a small house in a quiet neighborhood. Light poured from the windows into the night. The angel gestured for her to look inside the front window. Esme stretched on her toes and peered inside. She saw two young children: a little girl, maybe three years old, and a boy about the age of five. They were playing under a modest Christmas tree. A man, shielded behind a newspaper, read in a chair close by the children.

Esme felt an ache in her chest. Children. How she loved children – their innocence, pureness of heart, and capacity to love unconditionally.

"Charles?" A voice sounded from another room, and the man lowered his paper to reply.

Esme stumbled back from the window gasping at the sight of the man. It was Charles Evenson, her husband! "Him. Oh, my Lord, I had almost forgotten about him." Again, Esme was clutching at her chest, only this time in an attempt to slow her heartbeat and breathing.

"You fear him," the angel stated the obvious.

"I did."

"Look again…"

Hesitantly, Esme resumed her post outside the window just in time to see an older version of herself enter the room, dishtowel in hand. "I've finished the dishes." As her counterpart folded the dishtowel, a round belly was revealed.

Though tiredness was plain to see on her face, when the youngest child turned to her and smiled, the woman's face lit up with a grin Esme knew she had never had in the presence of Charles Evenson. "Who's ready for bath time?!" she announced with delight.

The children clamored from the floor and raced up the stairs with excitement. Esme watched as her other self followed them up the stairs and out of sight. It saddened her to see them go; she wanted to see more…

"Angel, are those are my children? And…?" Esme's hands subconsciously smoothed over her empty abdomen vaguely recalling the sensation of life moving within it.

"Yes. And the unborn child is a girl," the angel added softly, casually.

Esme felt her eyes swimming in tears. "My own children." The thought of them filled her heart almost to bursting. Yet… Esme turned cold eyes toward Charles.

He folded his paper before reaching for the telephone. As the sound of happy children rang out above him, Charles dialed.

"Margaret." He nodded into the phone. "Yes, I will be able to see you tomorrow. Same hotel room. The key will be waiting at the desk." He listened, and then responded, "Yes, until then, my love." Hanging up the phone, he glanced at the stairs before smirking to himself.

Esme stepped away from the window as the tears that were formed in happiness coursed down her cheek, leaving behind a salty, wet track of betrayal.

"Come." The angel took her arm. "There is more to see before this evening is over."

They walked back to the three-way split in the road. Esme stopped short of the end of the path that led to her human life. Closing her eyes, she put her hand once again over her beating heart. Within a few more steps, it was still.

When she opened her eyes, her vampire senses had returned. She never really appreciated how much more of her surroundings she could experience with them.

The angel stood silently, waiting.

Esme pointed to the right.

"You wish to see your future life as a vampire?"

"Yes."

The angel nodded and they began to walk. However, this street was not familiar. This wasn't the way to their home in Ashland. This was a big city street. As if hearing her thoughts, the angel explained: "You don't age, so you have to move often. Close friends are not a possibility if they are human."

The sound of laughter soon caught Esme's attention and she changed course to pursue it. The angel followed. They entered a park. From the lighting of the sky, Esme guessed it was either twilight or just before dawn.

In the distance, she saw the image of herself she had come to know walking, laughing, and talking animatedly to Carlisle. She strained to hear what they were talking about, but then Carlisle pulled vampire Esme into his arms and kissed her. Not any kind of kiss, however, but a kiss of passion that spoke of known intimacy. When the kiss ended, Carlisle caressed her cheek. A flash of gold on his left third finger caught her attention.

"Yes." Again the angel affirmed what Esme wondered. "You and Carlisle marry."

"You mean…he doesn't leave me?" Esme murmured to herself. "He forgives me for what I did?"

"Carlisle is very special, indeed."

Something in the angel's voice made Esme desire to inquire more about Carlisle - only a shriek distracted them both. Esme recognized it as her own voice. Alarmed, her eyes sought out the future version of herself and Carlisle. They were being pelted with…snowballs.

"Edward!" Esme was calling out in a voice torn between laughter and shock as she instinctively covered her head from the barrage of wintery projectiles.

"I'll save you, fair Esme!" Carlisle gave out a heroic cry as he scooped up handfuls of snow, molding them at vampire speed into perfect circles before hurling them one after another in the direction of the onslaught.

The two men continued to bombard each other with snowballs until they got close enough for Carlisle to tackle Edward. They rolled in the snow, laughter filling the air. When they finally stopped, stood, and brushed off the snow, a new volley of snowballs rained down upon them from above.

Future Esme let out a peel of laughter from high in a tree.

"What kind of mother does that?" Edward asked Carlisle, who simply shrugged.

"A clever one!" Esme called down, still laughing. With one leap, she landed next to them. And in the blink of a human eye, they were gone.

Esme remained in a stunned silence before finding her voice. "Angel?"

"Yes."

"I'm…I'm confused. Carlisle, Edward, me…we are a coven. A group of vampires that exist as a unit for advantageous reasons. But what I just saw now – it was…"

"A family."

"Is that possible?"

"Vampires are ruled by instinct as much as they are ruled by their emotions. They are capable of great acts of ruthless; however, they have an equal capacity for great acts of compassion and love. It is just going to take a few very extraordinary individuals to lead them in the right direction. They can be taught by others with special gifts that there is another way to live."

"It can't be me that you speak of. I have no special gifts, angel. I'm just ordinary. And so is Carlisle."

"Ordinary people can do amazing feats if they believe. But extraordinary people can make a difference when they act on their beliefs. They become a beacon of light around which others can gather to find their way out of darkness."

Esme felt small in front of the angel. Instead of rising to challenges, she had always run. She ran from Charles' cruelty and appeared destined to run from Carlisle's goodness as well. She felt ashamed. Where was her faith?

"Edward called me 'mother.'"

"And so will others who come to know your light."

"Others?"

"You don't think God would send you and Carlisle on such an important mission alone, do you? Everyone needs sources from which to gather strength and purpose, Esme. Now, come. There is one path remaining."

Esme shrank away from the angel's reach in fear. "No! Please, angel. I don't want to go down that path. Please, I was wrong. I see that now. I was weak! I promise I won't seek that path ever again."

The angel's eyes darkened, turning black as Edward's when he refuses to hunt. Esme was terribly frightened.

"Twice you have fallen and twice I have provided you a savior. Still, you have not seen the truth nor have you risen above your short-sighted fears to see the potential consequences of your actions! You will face that now."

From all sides Esme heard a roar of wind. In the distance she saw a great white wall of snow rising from the ground. Near and nearer it came, the sound so great it pressed against her like a crushing weight. Snow and cold spun around her and the angel like a vengeful tornado of made of winter itself.

Again she was blinded by white, tossed to and fro upon the whim of the wind. When it stopped, she found her feet on the border of the short, dark path.

"You will walk this path alone," the angel spoke from behind her.

Esme didn't dare to refute the angel's command, nor did she look back. "I'm afraid."

"The strongest steel is forged from the hottest fires."

Mustering all the trust she could, Esme moved forward. Her steps were tenuous and small, yet it seemed like each step took her miles into the darkness. It wasn't long before the dark completely surround her, swallowing her. Up, down, side to side was nothing but murkiness. Esme began to feel as if she were falling, falling, falling into nothingness.

She struggled to control her instincts and her emotions, and wanted to cry out, but didn't. "Have faith, have faith," she muttered to herself squeezing her eyes shut. The angel was giving her another chance, the chance to choose her path. Esme had already decided suicide was not the path she would take, yet the angel had insisted she go this way. There must be a lesson, a preview of something the angel needed her to see. "Have. Faith."

But as the darkness continued on and on, Esme finally cried out. The word that came from her mouth surprised her: "Carlisle!"

And he appeared.

Only, he wasn't really there. It was an image of him, looming ahead of her like he was on a large movie screen, only in color.

He looked sad. Edward then appeared in the scene. He told Carlisle he was leaving.

"First I lose Esme, and now you, son? What have I done to lose everything I have ever held dear in my life? Tell me, what have I done?"

"You led us to believe we could fight this desire, this hunger, for human blood. We are not all as good as you. Esme's denied thirst proved to be her undoing. I'm going to face it head on. Embrace it."

And he left.

The scene changed. Edward walked the streets of a large city at night. In the rain he stalked a man. The man began to run, somehow sensing the malice creeping up behind him. As he ducked down an alley, Edward pursued. But the man was ready. Facing Edward as he approached, drew a knife, and stood his ground. It would be his last stand for Esme saw Edward's blood-red eyes shining like rubies in the moonlight.

Esme covered her face with her hands. "I will not watch!" she shouted. "Edward is not this! This is my fault. I will not be the cause of the destruction of his soul. Oh, God, hear me!"

Esme began to sob, falling on her knees. A gentle touch on her back startled her. When she looked up, the angel was there, her eyes shimmering a soft blue. Like magic, they were at the beginning of the three paths.

"Send me back, angel. Send me back to my human life. That is the path I choose," Esme blurted out.

The angel stared at her with a blank expression. "Why have you chosen that path?"

Esme felt her heart would tear from her chest. Sometimes, the truth did, indeed, hurt. "I have tasted human blood as a vampire. I…I don't think I can resist it. And I will not be a burden to Carlisle and a bad influence on Edward. Look what becomes of him because of me! They would be better off if I never existed in their lives."

"You would choose a loveless marriage in an effort to protect two vampires?"

"Yes, they are vampires. But they are kind, capable of such love. Carlisle is a compassionate doctor. Why should I be allowed to destroy their potential to do good and be happy? They are vampires, but they have more to offer the world as vampires than Charles Evenson will ever offer as a human."

"Ah, the greater good," the angel responded with a nod. "But what if I told you Edward didn't become a rogue because of you? He actually stopped his murdering spree to return to you."

Esme looked perplexed.

"So quickly you forget! Love, Esme. The love you and Carlisle have for each other and for others – human and non-human alike – is a beacon of hope. Its light and promise draws Edward back home. Can't you see the potential in that? The potential to change so many lives?"

"Can you assure me I will never take another life if I chose to be vampire?" Esme begged.

"I cannot."

"This choice is not easy!" Esme raged in frustration. "You want me to choose, yet each path has the potential for destruction!"

"But only one can make the most of your gifts, Esme. You possess the potential for boundless faith, hope, and love."

With those words, Esme finally began to understand the angel's message. "Twice I have fallen, and twice you have provided me a savior…," Esme quoted the angel, the pieces forming a cohesive picture. "Are you my guardian angel?"

The angel smiled radiantly. "Yes. How fortunate I was to be given a soul whose name literally translates 'to love.'"

Esme's mind raced with realizations. "Twice I have fallen – the tree and the cliff! And twice you provided a savior – Carlisle!"

The angel simply nodded once.

"Oh my. I have a destiny given to me by God!" Esme breathed in the midst of an epiphany of a lifetime.

"If you are strong enough to accept it," the angel said. "Are you?"

But before she could respond, a voice called from over their heads, "Esme!" It seemed to be coming from the sky itself. Esme looked up, searching the unseen boundaries of the snow globe above them.

"Carlisle? Is that you?"

"Esme! Please, answer me!"

"It's time. You must make your final decision now," the angel stated with urgency.

. . .0O0. . .

Carlisle's panicked voice continued to call her name, but the angel had vanished, and once again, Esme was swallowed into infinite darkness, falling endlessly.

She heard Edward's disembodied voice speak as well: "That hunter must have ingested something, drugs maybe. It must have affected Esme's system."

"I don't know how to fix her, Edward."

"Her system will heal. You know that." There was silence in the darkness before Edward spoke again. "But knowing that isn't enough because…you still dread the worst. You would be changed without her."

Silence again.

"How long have you suspected, son?"

"Your thoughts dwell on Esme quite often since she has arrived, but this is the first time I have truly understood of the depth of those thoughts."

"I need you to understand –"

Edward replied without hesitation to the question forming in Carlisle's mind, "I am happy for you. For us."

Esme could hear them more clearly with each passing second, but blackness still surrounded her. Her limbs felt – well, she couldn't feel them at all.

The angel's final words came back to her: You must make your final decision now.

So, would she fall endlessly until she decided? Would she die – cease to exist – if she didn't chose? She didn't know. But one thing she did understand from the angel's words: this would be the last time her guardian angel would intervene. This was her very last chance to pick the life she wanted to live. Would it be as a human in a loveless marriage and children from her own womb? Or…could she be strong enough to pick the life that offered love, a chance to make a difference, but yet would never be easy.

Again, Carlisle came through. Her savior once again. "Esme. Please."

I chose you, Carlisle! she tried to call out. With no voice of her own, she began to pray. Please, Lord, never again will I take my life for granted. Please give me this one last chance. I promise I will not waste it. I promise to love myself and everyone around me. I will be the beacon of hope you created me to be.

With a gasp and a jolt, Esme's eyes sprung open. Carlisle's angelic, concerned countenance was, once again, there to greet her.

"Oh, thank God!" He heaved a sigh of relief and drew her into his arms. He had never held her before, but she did not object. He pulled her close to his chest, kissing the top of her head. She could see Edward standing at the foot of her bed; his head was bowed, but he was smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary.

At first, Esme was disoriented, even nauseated – an unfamiliar sensation for a vampire. But she had just been falling through space, she reminded herself. No up, no down or sideways. No wonder she was queasy. Her heavy arms rose to embrace Carlisle and he anchored her. Esme smiled into Carlisle's knit-sweatered chest. Yes, he was her rock to this world, to this life she had chosen, and to this destiny. And tolove.

"Um, I think I'll just…go…anywhere but here," Edward said as he dismissed himself from the room as Carlisle and Esme's wordless hug lingered.

Eventually, Carlisle eased Esme back onto the bed. He knelt on the floor next to her, taking her hands in his.

She smiled widely. "I saw my guardian angel, Carlisle. She was beautiful. And she told me so much. Taught me so much about myself and my life." Carlisle looked into her eyes, but he didn't respond. Esme's face began to fall. Didn't he believe her? "My snow globe! Where is it?" She began to panic.

"It's right here. I put it on the shelf for safe keeping. I found you holding it when you were unconscious in bed." He rose, retrieved it, and brought it over to Esme.

"It's magical, Carlisle!" She took it from his hands and stared down at the town with its splendid Christmas tree. The snow stirred, drifting slightly against the miniature buildings.

"What did your angel share with you, Esme?"

She looked at Carlisle. His warm, golden eyes sparkled.

"She said…" Esme bolted up. "She told me…" And suddenly she found herself scrambling to grab the fading, fleeting edges of a vision that was disappearing faster than she could chase it. "I…I don't understand. I can't remember what she said. It was important though. And it was real!"

"Of course it was," Carlisle replied, easing Esme back down into the lying position on her bed. "Maybe you should rest."

Carlisle turned to leave, but as he began to shut the door to Esme's room, she called out after him, "Wait!"

"Yes?"

"Carlisle, I never told you thank you. Thank you for this new life. I feel I have a renewed sense of purpose. I think…no, I know I belong here, with you and Edward."

Carlisle flashed the smile that made Esme's insides swim in warmth. "I think so, too. And I hope our first Christmas together will be the first of many. It's not a simple life I have offered you, Esme, but I believe it can be a wonderful life."

The End

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