Summary: Carlisle Cullen's world had been drastically changed. He had hunted monsters as an Anglican preacher, and was now one of those monsters he had once hunted. He was slowly coming to terms with his lot in life when he had stumbled upon a group of mostly civilized vampires, the Volturi. Within a few weeks of his stay with them, he begins to learn that all things are not always what they seem. Cannon couples and creatures eventually.


Prelude

I rarely think about what I'm going to do next. I don't like thinking because I'll over-think. It's far more fun to see the horrified reactions of the ones I love around me than to think things through. However this thing, I probably should have thought through. Carlisle would have seen it coming. He knew me too well. Esme would have stayed the shock in her loving graceful ways as always. Jasper; would he ever forgive me? I loved them all too much and this thing I had done was not like anything else I had ever done in my immortal four hundred and sixty some odd years…

-Caterina

Chapter one Carlisle

I've found myself thinking about the odd circumstances that I have found myself in over the years. God does seem to push me continually to the edge of my sanity only to show me that not only can I endure, but that my way is the correct path for me and my family.

There were a couple of parts of the horrible incidents that occurred over the winter that never seemed to make sense until I actually thought about them. I didn't want to. The Volturi, my darling children, even my grandchild – how odd it is to say that and yet so joyful!- all gave me a very new perspective on things. However, the missing puzzle pieces, those two Romanians, left me with many questions and few answers.

They had only said that word gets around when you go up against the Volturi. They claimed they didn't care what our cause was, what rules we had broken, and yet, for all their uncivilized words – the way they caused everyone to act with trepidation - they behaved. They didn't seem to be fit but yet they tried. So very much the opposite of us and yet so very much the same. My darling family didn't seem to fit either; neither in the supernatural world or in the natural one, but we tried. We all tried as hard as we can. Jasper is slowly coming to terms with his struggle after watching Bella transform into a decades old vampire rather than the thirsty newborns he knew for most of his hard life.

But the Romanians. I had spoken with one of them, Stefan, alone for a minute. He said he had heard about our struggle through a mutual friend; one whom the Volturi knew better than to touch. That confirmed my suspicious although I couldn't dwell on it at the time. Now I can. Caterina. My darling sister.

Hmm. Perhaps "sister" isn't quite the best way to describe my relationship with her. She was the first one, in this immortal existence, to show my something more. Her life was flamboyant to say the least. She existed with color and even now my imagination remembers her on that day during the Carnival, the last time I saw her in the Old World.

It was late in the 17th century. I had only been in Volterra for a few weeks. I was still in wonder at the world around me. It was a world of myth and legend interwoven into the reality I always knew creating a vision that hadn't existed before. I had been lead to believe, through out my human life, that vampires were creatures that existed only to serve the Devil's purpose. Now that I was one, I knew differently. Vampires were just creatures; creatures that could choose to live in accordance to God's teachings if they so wanted to. Of course, convincing the others of that was a struggle of Sisyphean proportions.

I wandered, rather aimlessly, through the halls of the castle in Volterra. I had heard that herder would be back soon and I wished to have nothing of it. I wanted to run from the main hall, to escape the screams that I knew would accompany the feeding frenzy. I did not wish to think on the pitiful estate that any of those poor humans must be in as they saw the unrelenting stare of the red eyes.

How these vampires, civilized in all other ways, could not see the horror they inflicted was incomprehensible to me. I had pleaded with Marcus and with Aro to at least try my way, to live off of animal blood rather than being a murderous creature. I received only shakes of the head and laughter in return for my begging. Aro even went so far to suggest that I should try their ways. He promised me either a human that was within months of their end or a criminal so far evil that it would a blessing to have rid of them. I was revolted at his suggestion. However, I politely as possible stated that I would go to the forests in the evening and dine there. Aro's only response was to laugh at me again.

My fingers racked over the stone surface of the castle walls as I let my thoughts overtake me. It was but barely into the undertide and I still had a great many hours until I could leave the darkened halls.

One of the many things I have learned since becoming a creature of the night is why we are called creatures of the night. In the day we cast light as if made of a thousand prisms. Thankfully, it is only in the sun that such an effect is made. If the day is overcast or otherwise darkened, then there is little problem with walking amongst the humans. Well, little problem that their senses would be able to pick up upon.

I had not feasted upon human blood as of yet in my existence. I planned on never doing so. Humans smelled to vampires as the Christmas feasting must smell to humans. There wasn't a way to not want to savor the very essence or partake in the meal. Thankfully, I have found a way to forgo this feasting. I survived on animal blood rather than human.

It calmed my thirst and allowed me to not become a murder. I would not take a human life when animals, something that I did eat while I was human, would do just as well. I did even eat animal blood once during my human years. Though, my memories of black pudding are rather faded now. I do recall not enjoying it.

I have been attempting to build up my endurance to the smell of human blood. I barely noticed when a human walked into the room anymore. My main indication that anyone was near was their heartbeat, not the aroma that accompanied them.

Studying at all hours, I wished to help others. In my human life, I had been a preacher; chasing down the types of creatures that I myself now am. Now, I had hope to be a doctor. Aro laughed at this one as well but seemed more than eager to allow this pursuit. He had given me any medical books I could have possibly ever wanted and told me stories of medicine during his day, 2500 years ago or there about.

I hoped that, by studying and allowing myself to be around humans, the affect of human blood would lessen with time. So far, it did seem to be working. I could control myself around small scrapes and cuts. It was not without some pain on my part but I would take the pain if it helped to alleviate the pain of others.

I had agreed to be an apprentice of sorts to a Doctor Gagliardo who lived within the walls of the ancient city. He believed I was simply ill at the site of blood and that I was attempting to overcome my phobia. He wasn't too far from the truth with such a belief.

Aro had asked him to take me on as an assistant within his medical examinations. I was startled with such a proposition. Given my unusual choice, as far as these creatures were concerned, I did not believe that any would do more than tolerate my lifestyle given the first few weeks here. I was a curiosity. Nothing more, or so I thought.

"Carlisle, Doctor Gagliardo is a dear friend of ours. He is…unaware of what we are, only that we are different from others," Aro told me as we had walked towards the meeting room two weeks ago. Aro stopped gliding along the carpeted floors and turned to me. "I would…appreciate if you would keep our secret at all costs?" he more asked than stated.

I nodded, confused. "Do you mean for me to be guided by him?" I asked for clarification. I had mentioned wishing to be a doctor but I had believed that the Volturi and their followers would laugh it off similar to my instances to drink animal blood. All of it was connected; I wished only to preserve human life. They seemed to think differently.

"Indeed, strange one! It would be more beneficial to us all if you received proper instruction. Perhaps we shall make you a doctor to vampires!" Aro started with a small laugh as he began to glide again down the halls. "Those werewolf bites can be quite nasty according to Caius," he stated with a smile upon his lips.

I was overcome with gratitude. I was not use to simply being given what I had wanted. I was born into the lower classes. We were well enough off but did not have the means to simply buy or ask for whatever our hearts desire was. An education, such as I was to receive, would cost money, or at least, need influence. My family had little of either. If I had married, I would have liked to think I would have strove to give any children I may have had more. However, was that not the wish of every parent? I would never be a parent given that I am a vampire. One of the first things I learned upon my stay here; vampires could not have children.

"Grand merci!" I exclaimed in my native tongue, English. Aro laughed as he continued to pass me with his entourage. It was one of the first times I was truly happy in my existence as a vampire.

My thoughts were brought back to the present by the sounds of someone speaking. It was low. Despite my hearing, I could not make out the words other than they were quick. I stopped walking aimlessly around the castle and finally stopped to look as to where I was. I did not recognize it.

I thought as to my direction from whence I had come. I had transversed two staircases and followed a northerly route through the castle halls. I must, therefore be in the women's quarters. A small smile crept to my lips. It was no wonder that I did not recognize this hallway if it were the women's quarters. I had no reason to be here before or currently.

My curiosity overtook my sense. Though there was no rule against a male being merely in the upstairs hallway, I did not think it was something that was expected either. However, should not everyone be downstairs in the main hall? Was it not time for that gruesome feeding that sent me on my aimless wandering to begin with? If so, then whose voice to I still hear whispering?

I looked around at my surroundings taking in the tapestries that lined the walls. They were rich in color despite being a couple of hundred years old at this point. They depicted Pentheus being torn apart by the Maenads in rich bold colors that almost made the scene look joyful. I suppose too many of the others, it was a scene of feasting, of joy. It did seem an appropriate piece of art to hang in the women's quarters, particularly that of vampire women.

I slowly and quietly walked in the direction of the voice. I heard only one and it sounded like whoever it was was repeating herself. I could tell the voice was feminine in it's high but whispered tones. The voice sounded soft but warm; an odd quality for those of us that are cold as stone.

The voice got louder as I walked towards the room I believed the sound was coming from. I could now make out some of the words. It was latin.

"Ave Maria, gratia plena," the whispered tones started again. It caused me to stop. Although I knew those words, the words of the papist prayers, I could not fathom why I would hear them here.

"Dominus tecum," she continued. My jaw went slack. It was a prayer. A prayer to Mary, the mother of God. A God I fully and completely believed in. However, I remembered the reaction I received when I told Marcus of my beliefs.

"God has forsaken our kind," he said, looking as he had heard this all before, many times over.

I gripped the edge of the desk in front of me which separated me from Marcus. Aro was busily humming and looking for a book or this and that. He simply seemed amused. "But could be not begin to return to God's grace if we obey his laws?" I asked. It was the same argument I had had since I had gotten here. I argued that we did have souls and that we should preserve human life. Afterall, we were all once human. Should we kill those that, in many cases, our own descendants? Or should we continue to try and live as we once did but eating animal's blood rather than the blood of humans? In this, I verily believed that we could safe ourselves from the damnation that the others seemed to fully believe in.

"Oh, of what matter is it? When we, ourselves, shall never die?" Marcus asked, leaning against his arm, bored.

I sighed. There was little to be won in a debate that would continue to be beat around like a bad game of stool ball. I leaned back in my chair and would try to continue this argument later. We may not die of natural causes, but we can die. I had already seen the trial by fire, literally, that takes place.

"Benedicta tu in mulieribus," the voice stated, bringing me out of my state. Whoever she was, she was praying. But for what? And was she one of my kind? I had seen a few humans about as servants to the Volturi. They were in on the secret that we all held. If they please the Volturi greatly, they would be turned. If not, they would join the other unfortunate souls two floors below. Or, so I had been told.

As I started to walk again, in the direction of the soft, lyrical, warm voice, I began to wonder if that is whom she was praying for; those unfortunate souls below. It would make sense given the overwhelming belief amongst my kind that we had given up our souls. Those that were dying below had not.

"Et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus," she continued, her voice growing louder to my ears as I moved forward, but still barely above a whisper. I was pretty sure that human ears would now be able to pick up the sounds of her voice.

I looked at the doorway from which the voice seemed to beacon me. The light flickered out of it, flowing into the long dark hallway. The wooden door frame framed the glowing light. I turned into it, not knowing what to expect other than a few candles.

"Sancta Maria mater Dei," she said, facing forward. I gasped at the very sight of it all. The room was a small chapel. Many of the more affluent and nobles houses had them so that within itself should not have shocked me, other than this affluent and noble house was a home to vampires who did not believe in their souls and thereby did not see a reason to pray for them.

The walls were painted in a fresco of the likes I had yet to see. Different scenes from the Bible carefully played out around the small chapel. There were four pews on either side of the room with the aisle down the center. Each pew had more than enough room to hold four or five people.

The arms of the pews were highly carved and decorated. This was not anything like the simple church I had back in England. Three lamps, all out of gold, swung slightly above my head. Each was lit providing more than enough light. To the side were the candles for devotion that I faintly recognized and remembered hearing about during my father's tirades against the Catholic Church. Above the candles, only one of which was lit, was a tiny nook that held an effigy of Mary, the mother of God.

Directly in front was the alter, cut off from the people by means of a small marble fenced area. Before that there were several cushions upon the stair in which one, I believed, would kneel for Holy Communion. The cushions were embroidered in a fine needlepoint that I could just barely make out from here. They would look woven to the human eye.

The crucifix was far more ornate than the simply wooden one my father had made and I still kept. I kept it with me to remind myself that all beings have their own cross to bare, pardon the pun. My cross was to endure the thirst and to abstain from human blood. It was not an easy task but few tasks are.

The crucifix in this chapel was wrought in gold and silver. It glimmered in the lamp light, showing only part of it's true beauty. The furthest wall was left plain but with a stained glass window on either side. Of course, the windows depicted Saint Marcus.

Before my mind could even register the humor in the stained glass windows, I saw the woman to whom the voice belonged to turn. Her hair was pinned up and partially hidden beneath a piece of the sheerest silk. A few strands of hair, I could not tell if the color was red, blond, brown, or black since it seemed to be all four, framed her pale face. Her eyes, a ruby red, were glaring at me.

I stood at the entrance to the chapel in shock. She was one of us. If the ruby red eyes had not given her away, the pale white skin of her shoulders, visible above the lace edge of her chemise which only added to the…softness? Was that the correct word for the way she looked in her pink silk dress?

She turned back around, her voice strained with anger now as I saw her body become more rigid. "Ora pro nobis peccatoribus," she continued to pray.

I wasn't sure what to do, but my feet seemed to move of their own accord. I walked towards her slightly, and sat down in one of the pews on the opposite side from her. The feeling that crept through me was one of almost being home. The chapel reminded me of my own church, my father's church, despite it clearly being a papist place of worship. I felt peace here for the first time in many years.

"Nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae, Amen," she finished. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she blessed herself; her rosary, I believe, still in her hand. She kissed the beads and then stood up, showing the silver woven into the pink silk of her dress as she moved. Turning towards me, she continued to glare, but at the floor rather than directly towards me. "If Aro sent you," she started in Italian, a language that, up until a year ago I had not heard spoken. Thanks to my vampire mind, I was able to learn it quickly. "Tell him I will have no part of this feasting," she said with such hate that I was aghast at this woman. "I will continue in my own way and none shall sway me," she stated.

I could only watch as she quickly left the chapel, her silk train whispering across the floor. I had no indication or idea of which to say. Was she too abhorred by the conduct downstairs? Her eyes were ruby red yet she was not with the others, why? Why did she have such venom in her voice against Aro? And, most importantly, who was this creature that I had just interrupted in prayer?


Author's Note: Hope you all liked it! I'm pretty bad at keeping to a posting schedual so, if you did like it, please add the story to alerts. That way you'll know when the heck I've updated. It could be a week, it could be a month. You really never know with me.