A Father's Folly
A/N: Just a quick reminder that challenge entries are now being accepted for the Twilight Anniversary Challenge!
And…since I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't ask something for nothing, here's an outtake to Verdeaux Celebration. I thought that Carlisle really needed his say;)
Thanks again go to Gleena and Justine Lark for their awesomeness and well, you know, reading my stuff over and over.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all related characters. Dang it.
Folly- lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight.
King Carlisle the VI sat behind the desk in his study. He leaned back in his chair, resisting the urge to put his feet up on the antique desk. Esme hadn't been happy about the scuff marks that his shoes had left on the wood. Instead, he turned in his chair to face the window and swirled the glass in his hand, allowing the white grape-plum wine to breathe. His thoughts wandered over the most recent turn of events. If he'd had doubts before, Edward's behavior at this morning's brunch confirmed it. Edward was smitten; and not with his fiancée.
Carlisle sipped from his glass again, allowing his gaze to settle on the bottle at the sideboard. It hadn't escaped Carlisle's notice that he had subconsciously chosen a wine that was vinted the same year that Edward had been born. His first son had been occupying his thoughts for some time. Edward had always been a very serious child, and Carlisle couldn't help but think that he was somewhat to blame for it.
When Alice had been born in 1980, Carlisle's own father had still been King. Gustav the VII had been a more domestic ruler. He didn't believe in reaching out to create diplomatic ties; therefore, Carlisle had few duties as Crown Prince besides wait to ascend the throne. Alice had been fortunate to have both her mother and father heavily involved in her first two years.
When Edward was born in 1983, Carlisle fully expected to be able to lavish the same attention on his son. Fate had other plans. King Gustav died very suddenly, leaving Carlisle feeling unprepared as he took up the crown much sooner than he had expected.
Then, when Edward had only been a few months old, the Beirut barracks bombing shocked the world. The major casualties had been from the US, but Verdeaux' French neighbors had also suffered loss of life in the terrorist attack. When France's President Mitterrand asked Verdeaux for aide in the crisis, Carlisle had seized it as an opportunity to strengthen international ties for the first time since his grandfather's reign during the Great Wars.
He had spent many hours in Parliament during Edward's first year, arguing his ideals for international relations, and even more time reaching out to the neighboring heads of state to solidify their diplomatic ties. Carlisle had been stunned and a little ashamed when Esme reported to him that Edward had said his first word. He had expected Esme to gush that he had said 'mummy,' but she rather dryly informed him that his son was following in his footsteps. Edward's first word had in fact been 'Parliament.'
Carlisle often worried that his long hours in state business during Edward's formative years had contributed to his son's serious demeanor and strict sense of duty. When Emmett had been born a few years later, Carlisle was in a better position to be more involved. He hoped that his efforts had paid off; Emmett's carefree and lively attitudes were a shocking contrast to his brother.
Carlisle let his eyes wander to the bookshelf where various family portraits sat framed. Even in the non-official portraits that Esme or a servant had taken of the family, Edward posed stoically while Alice and Emmett were lively, mischievous and cheerful. It was no surprise to Carlisle that Edward had taken his 'duty' so seriously.
When Alice had declared her intention to court Jasper, a lesser-ranked noble, Carlisle and Esme had been delighted to see their daughter choose love over a title. His daughter and her husband were a well-matched couple; Jasper's calm steadiness leveled out Alice's enthusiasm, making for a strong front. They would be an excellent ruling pair.
Carlisle wanted the same for all of his children. When Rosalie Hale had come to Alice and Jasper's wedding with her parents, Carlisle had seen the way that she had looked at Edward. It wasn't the same way that Lauren Mallory had. The Mallory girl had been utterly offensive with her propositions towards Edward; even the looks that she gave Edward while in full view of Esme and Carlisle had been bordering on indecent.
Rosalie had looked admiringly at Edward, though it was with obvious respect. She was a woman who understood the position Edward was in, and respected him for it, without objectifying him. Later that evening, Carlisle had made it a point to pull Edward aside and speak about the possibilities there between his son and Rosalie. It was a decision that Carlisle had begun to regret. He had hoped that a relationship between his son and Rosalie would help Edward learn to relax and appreciate the joys that life had to offer beyond obligations and duty. Carlisle had wanted his son to learn to feel with his heart before he thought with his head.
At first, Carlisle had been pleased with the care and attention that Edward had shown in his frequent correspondence to Rosalie. Then he had accompanied his son to the UK to attend a conference in London while Edward visited the Hale's home. He had been certain that Edward would end the courtship after having seen the stiff interactions between the two of them in person.
Lord Hale had accompanied them back to Verdeaux on state business. Though Carlisle had been shocked when Lord Hale had pressed Edward about an engagement, he was floored when his normally stubborn son glanced at him in what Carlisle now realized was defeat, and had said that it would be his honor to have Rosalie's hand in marriage.
He had been under the impression that he didn't know his son well enough, and that perhaps Edward's serious disposition merely extended to public displays of affection. He hoped for their sake, that when they weren't under the watchful gaze of others, Edward and Rosalie had more chemistry than the potatoes that grew in the countryside.
A knock at the door pulled Carlisle from his introspection.
"Come in," he called, turning to face the door.
"Your Highness?" It was Ambassador Swan.
"Yes, please, have a seat," Carlisle insisted. "Wine? It was vinted the same year Edward was born," he offered, gesturing to his glass.
"Thank you." Carlisle stood and poured a glass for Ambassador Swan himself.
"Since you mentioned him; I've been told that Edward is quite the ladies' man," Swan hedged. Carlisle had been expecting this. It would have been just like Bill Mallory to leave some disparaging parting words about Edward to his successor.
"I assume you mean that Bill Mallory told you to keep an eye on my son?"
"You admit that it's a problem?" Ambassador Swan said, surprised.
"I will admit no such falseness, Ambassador," Carlisle warned.
"Charles, or Charlie, please."
"I never cared for such a stiff name," the man explained. Carlisle had to stifle his laugh. He had a feeling he would like this Charlie Swan very much.
"My son never made advances towards nor said anything inappropriate towards young Lauren. He may have refused her rather brusquely, but that is the worst of his crimes."
"So he didn't invite her to put her hands in his pants?" Carlisle nearly spat out the mouthful he had just sipped from his glass.
"On the contrary," he said when he had cleared his throat. "He told me he had to tell her in no uncertain terms to keep her hands outof his pants. Really, the girl was incorrigible. Anyone with eyes could see that she was on the verge of molesting my son in front of me and his mother. She would hardly refuse an offer from Edward, if one had in fact existed, let alone complain about it to her father."
"Hell hath no fury?" Charlie said with a grin.
"Exactly. Take a look at our pictures; Edward is probably the most proper prince in all of Europe," Carlisle said with a wave towards the shelves. Charlie stood at the invitation and took in the many images of the Cullen family.
"What happened to him? He seems so stiff in these pictures. He seemed like quite the Casanova this morning," Charlie said gruffly. Carlisle smiled; they had gotten to the crux of the matter.
"I've actually never seen Edward so open and engaging to someone he's just met, let alone a woman."
"Hmm," Charlie grunted. "You fish?" he asked unexpectedly, pointing out an antique reel that sat on the shelf.
"Yes. Not as much as I'd like; there's always some sort of state business to tend to." Carlisle suddenly had an excellent idea. "Would you care to join me tomorrow? I could invite Edward to come while his bride-to-be has her dress fitting. We could of course, discuss international relations from a boat just as readily as in an office."
"Sounds marvelous." Charlie's enthusiastic acceptance was all Carlisle needed to set the plan in motion.
"Until tomorrow then."
"Good night, Charlie."
Carlisle shook hands with the ambassador and walked him to the door. He was still standing there when he heard Charlie greet his son in passing.
"Tomorrow then, Edward," Swan said. Then, a second later, Edward stood before him with a slightly confused expression.
"Edward," Carlisle greeted. He stood in the door of his office and offered his son a small smile. "How are things with Rosalie?"
"They're fine, father. We were just smoothing some details for the wedding this afternoon."
"You know what you want?" Carlisle said tentatively. He didn't care for the flat, emotionless voice that Edward had adopted. Carlisle was sure that his son was completely unaware of his tone; for a brief moment, he thought he saw regret in Edward's eyes.
"Of course," Edward said stiffly, schooling his features.
"Your mother and I only want for you to be happy with your choice, Edward." Carlisle felt a pain in his heart when he saw the brief flare of hope in Edward's eyes fizzle out. Edward stood in silence for a moment before he took a big breath.
"I can only hope to be as happy as you and mum one day," Edward said ambiguously. Carlisle decided not to push his son too far in one night. How he wished his son would listen to his heart.
"I've invited Ambassador Swan to go on a fishing excursion while Emmett escorts the ladies tomorrow. Care to join us?" Edward's guarded face suddenly showed relief.
"Yes, that sounds perfect."
Carlisle smiled at his son's retreating form and couldn't help but think that Edward was trying to avoid something. Or someone.
"Carlisle?" Esme's voice rang through the stillness of the study only a few moments after Edward left. Carlisle was relieved that she hadn't found him with his feet up again.
"I wanted to speak to you about something; I was wondering what you would think."
"What is it Esme?" Carlisle was concerned. Esme wasn't the type of woman to ask permission for something; not that he would expect her to have to ask his permission for anything. But, he couldn't deny the inquisitive tone of her voice.
"What do you think about Bella?"
That had been unexpected.
"I thought she was lovely, charming, and poised once you got around her apparent lack of coordination."
"Don't you think she and Edward shared a moment earlier?" There it was.
"I did not fail to notice that, Love."
"I'm arranging for him to give Bella a tour tomorrow."
"I've already invited him to go fishing with the Ambassador and me."
"Perfect; that means his schedule will be cleared and they will be allowed a full day together. Thank you, love. I couldn't have planned that any better myself!" Esme left the room, mentioning something about finding Alice. Carlisle was speechless. Esme was a master at negotiations. Perhaps Edward's choices weren't set in stone.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I am in no way disparaging working parents- you all have my respect. But Carlisle feels that guilt that every parent feels when they think back on the way they raised their kids and can't help but wonder if he did things 'right.'
Go! Read, write, and submit your anniversary stories! But I would be tickled if you would just drop me a note about this little outtake:)