The Cannabean Betrothal.
It was a wonderful surprise.
At his age, there wasn't much that excited Carlisle Cullen outside of his wife, his children and their families and he was so thankful that they all knew him well enough to know exactly how he'd want to celebrate his birthday/retirement: with all of them.
The well wishes and gifts were sweet, but in a deft maneuver, Carlisle was able to get away from all the fussing over him and in a rare moment of solitude, he slipped over to his favorite tree and lovingly watched his legacy interact.
His glance fell to his wife; the beautiful woman who had captured his heart so many years ago and still gripped it so tightly to that very day. She was his everything and as he advanced in age, the most comforting thought he had was of how well they'd reared their children and how his sons' love and voracious desire to care for their mother was nearly as strong as their father's love for her.
In each of his sons Carlisle saw the traits that would collectively keep their mother whole should he and his bride be parted through death.
As he thought of them, Carlisle scanned the landscape to put his eyes where his mind lay. In the far distance, he saw Emmett, teaching the boys how to play croquet and warning them against using the mallets on anything other than the balls on the ground.
In Emmett, there would never cease to be security and safety – a fortitude of sanctuary from anyone or anything that could ever cause harm to his loved ones. His selflessness in that area had been proven time and time again throughout the years. For the love, ease and comfort of his parents, he'd made no commotion about the feud between his brothers that nearly tore his family in two. Regardless of the turmoil suffered at that time, in Emmett's presence there was always rest and refuge and peace.
Across the lawn, Carlisle spied Jasper and chuckled quietly to himself as he watched his middle son and his wife juggle their thirteen-month old son. They were very devoted parents, but Carlisle made a mental note to mention later that if they never put Judah down, he would never learn to walk.
But in essence, that was just who Jasper was. He needed, and his heart was to be needed like every mother with an empty nest could attest to. Carlisle knew that as long as Jasper had air to breathe, he would need his mother as she needed him to and he would give her that purpose for the rest of her days.
And then there was Edward.
Carlisle's eyes roved the land in search of his youngest son, before finally finding him just a few feet away, sitting beside his wife on the large log swing that the grandchildren had abandoned only minutes before. He smiled to himself as Edward held out a plate of grapes and berries for his wife, now pregnant with their fourth child, and watched as she accepted it with a quiet gratitude.
Only in his mind did Carlisle allow the thought that Edward held a special place in his heart. He was an against-the-odds type of individual and Carlisle felt and shared in every one of Edward's successes as if they were his very own. His scholastic excellence, athletic triumphs, business endeavors – and perhaps the one that was the most difficult and endearing of them all: his lovely wife.
Carlisle knew without a shadow of a doubt that anything Edward set his mind to, he could attain; for that was his gift: acquisition and provision. And with Edward, Esme would suffer no want, no need and no provision that Edward couldn't attain for her and without burden.
With a deep breath, Carlisle straightened up and prepared to join the party, his party, once more. Of course his reveries were premature, as he knew he had quite a few years left in him yet. But still, he took comfort in his introspections regarding his family and when he looked back at the deck and saw Charlie Swan, a man who had become one of the best friends he'd ever had in his life, looking at Bella and Edward with that same restful look in his eye, he knew he wasn't alone in being reassured by the presence and love of his progeny – of his family.