Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.

I remember as a child sitting outside Edward Cullen's front lawn, truthfully I wasn't quite a child but I was just as naïve as one, and waiting for his father to come by after sharing my school news with Esme. Carlisle would beckon me to the porch and pat the seat beside him. This was our routine. Carlisle would let me ask him any questions I had and he would answer before patting my head and sending me on home.

At the time I had though nothing of it, Carlisle was a doctor; he was meant to help and answer questions, I had seen him answering a whole load when Jessica Stanley fell from her bedroom window. Carlisle got yelled at a lot too, mostly by Jessica Stanley's mother, but I didn't really think that was part of the job.

It wasn't until I was older that I realised that Carlisle answered my questions for more reasons then just being used to it. I suppose he might have pitied me, the gangly young girl from next door who's mother had run off before she could walk and who had no one in the world beyond her workaholic pa and a teenage brother who'd rather stick his head in a bucket of cold water then teach his little sister the ways of the world.

I had always sort of known it had something to do with Edward Cullen though. He was Carlisle's only child and a troublesome one at that. Edward Cullen didn't ask his father questions or advice and I guessed that maybe Carlisle wanted him to.

I was fourteen I think at the time and sitting out on the Cullen porch sipping Esme's lemonade that she'd made me specially. The sun was setting, as it always seemed to be around the time I found myself waiting on Carlisle's presence.

He did come after a moment, just after kissing Esme's cheek and telling her in his smooth Northern accent that he'd be "just a minute now, dear", as he always did.

He sat slowly beside me, lifting his glasses from the bridge of his nose and wiping them with a piece of simple white cotton. "Well Bella?", he said slowly, arching an eyebrow.

"Did Edward come home last night?", I asked innocently, swinging my legs out under me. Emmett had told me not to ask the Cullen's about Edward, he said it would upset them, but they never seemed to mind and always answered my questions.

"Yes", he admitted, though he didn't sound pleased "in the morning".

I nodded absently and stared at my legs for a long time.

"Is Edward evil?", I asked, my Southern accent ringing strong.

Carlisle looked at me strangely and murmured "no".

"It's just.." I said quickly "folks round here talk about Edward a lot". Carlisle nodded and didn't look surprised, he never really seemed surprised by anything when it came to Edward.

I figured it might be because he was his father, but my own pa was often surprised by me and Emmett, like that time my father walked in on Emmett and Rosalie Hale under the covers in his bedroom. I couldn't tell exactly what they were doing but I did sort of know, Edward had told only a week before because I couldn't find Carlisle to ask him. Edward's way of telling me was funny but gross, I preferred Carlisle's way.

Carlisle's eye met mine and he told me seriously "You shouldn't listen to everything you hear Bella".

I nodded in agreement but continued all the same "Is he really that bad though?, he's always been good to me", I pressed.

Carlisle rubbed a hand along his jaw and sighed "No, Edward's not bad", Carlisle said clearly, seriously "just young, and confused".

"My pa says that all the time about Emmett, but I think he's biased", Carlisle laughed and nodded along with me. "Maybe Bella, maybe".

"Why do folks think Edward's bad?", I persisted.

Carlisle pinched his nose and smiled good naturedly. "Folks like to find excuses Bella", he muttered.

I stared at Carlisle, confusion clear as day on my face.

"If young Jacob Black got in a fight, would you say he's evil Bella? Would he be bad to the core then?".

"Well…. No", I said slowly.

"No", Carlisle agreed "you'd say he can't help it, that he doesn't know any better because that's how his family is too".

I nodded in acceptance. "But if Lauren Mallory got in that same fight people would say she's gone bad that there is something wrong with her".

"Why's that?", I asked curiously.

"Well because Lauren is a minister's daughter, her parents weren't hit bad in the crash, she's had a good upbringing and her family don't fight, who else would they blame?", he asked gently, coaxing me into seeing his view.

"Well, why do they have to blame anyone?", I asked, my brow furrowing.

"Because that's just how people are, a lot of people see things in black and white", he explained "to some, people are good or bad and someone is always to blame, no matter whether it's true or not".

"But my pa says you can't blame no one without proof", I argued. Carlisle nodded and said sombrely "No one wants to blame the town doctor and his good wife on their son's problems. They can blame his friends, but he wasn't always around them so instead they decide that Edward was just bad, rotten to the core".

I shook my head in defiance "Edward's not bad", I insisted.

"No he's not", he agreed seriously "But people don't want to look deeper Bella, they don't want to look into why Edward is the way he is".

Carlisle smiled sadly "People round here like to judge Bella, it's been this way for a long time, and I'm afraid it'll stay that way for a long time".

My shoulders sagged glumly and Carlisle patted my shoulder in a way that reminded me of how Sue Clearwater used to ruffle my hair, back before she and Seth packed up and headed for the North.

"How come Edward doesn't come by mine anymore?", I asked, I had asked Emmett the same question many times, he always responded by saying "just cause".

Once I had even tried asking Edward as I had spotted him traipsing down the stairs in the same clothes as he had worn home that evening.

Edward had rubbed his jaw just like Carlisle did and said "Ain't nothing you need to be worrying about there, Em and I'll be alright", I had nodded and pretended not to hear when he mumbled under his breath "Long as I stay away from blondie".

"They had an argument s' all", Carlisle huffed.

"But that was an awful long time ago", I sighed.

"Things take time Bella", Carlisle informed me "those two could be old men before they forgive each other, but hear you me they will eventually".

I shrugged and Carlisle looked at me strangely "You know Bella you and Edward are nearly the same age, you two are closer in age then him and Emmett", he remarked, a twinkle in his eye. "And?", I asked stupidly.

Carlisle shrugged but grinned and said simply "You're the only person in this town that never did give up on him".

I continued to stare blankly and Carlisle laughed, a deep chuckle "One of these days Edward's going to realise that Bella, and then, well then….", he trailed off and smiled before patting my head and rushing me off home 'before the little hellion arrived home'.

I had skipped back home, thinking over what Carlisle had told me and thought just for a moment what it would be like to stay just a moment longer at the Cullen house, if Carlisle didn't pat my head and tell me to 'be getting on home now.'

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