Redemption: Author's Note:

A One Shot tribute to the work of Stephenie Meyer. Rated K. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is background for "The Little Angel of Forks".

BD, post-birth of Renesmee, with references to Midnight Sun.

If you don't like Christianity, read something else and don't flame me. Note to readers of my other fics: Carlisle is Christian, and I love him like a brother. Being Christian doesn't mean you become a total soppy goody-goody. It does mean that you are thankful for your blessings and that you try to be a good person. Becoming suddenly pious and perfect because you claim you are a Christian is not real. We are far from perfect.

This story is dedicated to my kids.

Characters: Edward Cullen, Renesmee Cullen, and Carlisle Cullen

Carlisle's pov: He is a Christian

All was quiet in the room, save the bump-a pat pat made as Edward rhythmically soothed his newborn daughter in Bella's old rocking chair. I watched him from the doorway. The only light came from my Tiffany lamp on the desk, which cast a gentle glow on his face. Bella lay silent and still in the hospital bed opposite. She would be one of us in a couple of days.

It had been very hard to coax Edward from Bella's side long enough to clean her up and exsanguinate the room, but he had finally gone, showered and changed clothes, and returned with the chair. Then he had demanded that Rose and the baby's admirers let him have his "kid".

Now, Renesmee's head was tucked cozily into her father's chest with her little legs folded up under his long-fingered hand. She looked so tiny in her white cotton sleeper and little stocking cap. Edward had crooned a brand new lullaby to her and she had sighed and drifted to sleep.

What a change Bella had brought to us. The family had initially feared Edward's attachment to her. Their bond provoked terrible trials, but now they would have more happiness than any vampire had ever imagined. And the Cullen family would grab onto their coat tails and enjoy the ride.

Who would have thought that it would be shy little Bella who would breathe color into all of our lives. Her ability to kick down preconceived notions made us all re-evaluate our perceived limitations. She had caused us to hope. To alter patterns. To imagine new possibilities. How strong and brave she was! A sort of hapless human missionary to the undead. Who knew! Only God, in His plan.

Bella and Edward dangled keys to happiness. Bella brought gifts from God. To me, she was proof that prayer worked, proof that God cared. Proof that God didn't hate me for borrowing these souls to be my family. He will have us all someday, I know that. Hopefully, He will be pleased with how we spend our longer days. Meanwhile, He sent a fearless little human girl to show us that she was the one who knew our innermost spirits, better than we knew them ourselves. She saw the Cursed as Blessed, while calling them to live according to godly standards, rather than monstrous ones.

Edward used to be the odd man out, the one who didn't fit and didn't hope to. Then, Bella made him grow up, and while she was at it she bound us tightly together and dragged Edward into the middle of the group. He often acted as leader to his siblings now, in situations where he would have deferred to them in the past.

Bella was Edward's soul mate and the destroyer of his false pride. She saved him from his demons. She made him live, rather than exist. That answered so many of my prayers. I had worried about Edward's spirit for so long. Worried that he would never have the fulfilling life that I envisioned for him when I bit him on that dreadful night so many years ago.

Esme received a daughter with a kindred spirit. Bella delighted in the same things as Esme: Family, home and unconditional love.

To playful Emmett, she was the baby sister he missed. The one with pigtails who would sit on a rock with him and chat about life. Bella delighted Emmett.

She was Alice's best friend, a link to the human world Alice couldn't remember experiencing. Alice went a little crazy, trying to live vicariously through Bella by setting up all sorts of 'human' activities, but Bella held her accountable if she acted spoiled. And Alice loved Bella, simply for daring to adore her favourite brother.

Jasper received true forgiveness and acceptance from Bella, and it made him strive to be a better person. The preservation of Bella's life was imperative, which forced Jasper to improve his self-control.

Alice and Jasper were always a little on the periphery of the family, the 'kids' who were adopted in without ties of blood or venom. Then, Bella knit them into the family circle. She wouldn't let them stand outside it.

Bella willingly shared everything about pregnancy and motherhood with Rose, just so Rose could have the experience she craved. Rose's bitterness evaporated with the promise of being allowed to help raise a child. Renesmee could interact safely with vampires. Rose was overjoyed to be a blood relative to a child upon whom it was permissable to dote.

The wolves. We would never have found a permanent truce with them, had Bella not become the intermediary, and had she not been brave enough to bear Renesmee. Because of Bella, there would never be a war with them. Because of Bella, Seth was, for all intents and purposes, Edward's little brother. Someday, if I could trust in Edward's ability to forgive, and I knew I could, then Jacob might even be a legal member of the family. Inconceivable idea, just a breath of time ago.

Now, no person in the household was marginalized. Bella's love unified our family. Bella's gifts to us proved God's grace to us. We could not imagine existing without her. Thank God, she had clung tenaciously to life, and would soon reap the reward for which she had so longed. She would never age or suffer infirmity, and she would be with Edward, always. After brief suffering, she would be an equal member of the family and we would enjoy her presence until the Last Day.

Edward stroked the baby's back and patted her bottom. Stroke, pat-pat. Stroke-stroke, pat pat to the counter rhythm of the chair's creaking. His eyes were shut, his chin resting peacefully against the baby's head. A heavenly vision. A miracle. Unexpected potential fulfilled. I feasted my eyes on them. Thank you, Almighty God, through Whom all things are made and in Whom all things are possible.

Edward opened his eyes and looked at me. "Carlisle? There's something I want to ask you about that."

"Of course, Edward." I came and squatted at his feet.

"You always told me that God loved us, even though we vampires defied Him by cheating death. It's hubris, cheating Him of power. I never understood why you think He'd forgive that. How can that be?"

"God is merciful, Edward. He loves all souls, none of them are perfect, and He always joyfully welcomes those who want to serve him. Even souls of monsters are not beyond the reach of God. There is nothing God cannot touch, and there is nowhere to hide from Him."

Edward looked at the baby. His eyes flickered to me, and back to his daughter.

"You know, when I first met Bella, I thought maybe, just maybe there was some Being up there, who fashioned her to suit me. And that some reckless angel booted her down out of paradise for me to catch. Irresistible scent, fascinating ability to confound my mind-reading, great personality, gorgeous, with no sense of self-preservation and the constant need to be rescued. I was a goner. But I was bitter, and I thought there was no way that any Being existed who would create a reward for me. It wasn't what I deserved. I was an evil entity, past redemption, who deserved eternal punishment. Only one Commandment unbroken.

"I denied the gift. I thought Bella was sent as a torment. She was someone pure and innocent for me to destroy. I would destroy myself whether I stayed away from her or stayed with her. If I claimed her for my own, I would be angering God. If I left her, I would hate God and He would count me His enemy. I felt damned either way. I couldn't believe that He intended for me to have her. I wallowed in self-hatred, and I pushed away chances at happiness."

"But souls aren't automatically assigned to their fates, Edward. It isn't what you are, it's what you choose to do. And it's whether you acknowledge God is in charge, ask Him for forgiveness and thank Him when He blesses you. Most vampires will be damned, because they defy God and never repent of it. Those who do their best to serve Him, no matter how they came to exist, will reap rewards. God loves to give gifts, and He loves to be thanked.

"I believe you were right the first time. He intended Bella for you. He created her with your needs in mind, and then He gave her needs that only you could fill. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen two souls that mesh as perfectly as yours do."

"I could have missed out on this. Had I chosen to trust Bella sooner, would I have had all this earlier? Did I waste the time?"

"All things happen for a reason, and we don't necessarily understand it at the time. We all have lessons to learn, and there is a time for everything under the sun. If you had acted sooner, perhaps you would not have a daughter. Who knows? Don't question, just accept the gift."

Edward sat pensively. Something gold glinted on his neck, partly obscured beneath his open shirt collar. He'd never been one to wear jewellery. I wondered what it was.

"I prayed for Bella, and God heard me. I prayed that He wouldn't take Bella away from me, and that He would make everything okay again. I was so afraid the baby would be an abomination. Demonic. And then, I heard its thoughts and they were innocent and pure and loving. So I thought, maybe things would be alright. I trusted Bella.

"Then, this tiny thing was too strong for Bella, and she broke her mother's body, and I was afraid again. Bella was never afraid. Her inner strength has always been...awe inspiring.

"When Renesmee was born, something unexplainable happened. It was outside of science, it was spiritual. But it was real. When I lifted her from Bella's womb, I could see the light of Heaven clinging to her, like an aura, and I knew she was sent from God. And if He sent her, she must have a soul. And if God was blessing me, then I must be worth something to Him. So I must be capable of being redeemed. So I must still have a soul.

"I don't know how to pray, Carlisle. I closed my mind to your prayers. I didn't listen."

"You just talk to God, like you'd talk to me. It doesn't have to be fancy." Hope surged in my chest.

Edward shut his eyes and tilted his head up, exhaling. He was quiet for a few seconds.

"God? Thank You for Bella. For the baby. For my family. For letting me have opportunities to see and do things mortals don't. For giving me blessings and abilities that are unique. Please forgive me for all the wicked things I have done. I want to be of use. I want to go to Heaven at the end of this life. I want my family to meet me there when it's time. Please help me to be good. I don't feel strong. Amen."

"Was that okay, Dad?" he peeked at me shyly from under his lashes.

"That was perfect, my son. I am so glad for you. Now we will be together, forever and ever, someday when we leave this imperfect world."

Edward sighed and kissed Renesmee. The object at his throat glinted again as he shifted in the chair. I moved close to him, stroked my miraculous grandchild's hair and reached to brush Edward's collar back so I could see what he was wearing. His golden eyes regarded me peacefully.

I had given it to him long ago, when he was a newborn vampire. I didn't even know that he had kept it. I thought he had thrown it aside in his bitterness, discarded it, and all it represented.

It was a small, gold cross.

My soul exulted. I took my precious son's face in my hands and kissed the top of his head. He looked at me, a bit bashful, and drew me into a one-armed hug.

"I'm glad God picked me to be your son. I'm glad you saved me, so I could experience some of the mysteries of life. Thank you for choosing me, that day at the hospital. I must have had lessons to learn. What I have been given... I wouldn't trade for anything."

This was, truly, the very best moment of my very long life. Then, one of the next best moments followed it: my chosen son passed me my granddaughter, sharing his joy and thereby increasing it.