After long months of not writing at all, here I am with a sad one-shot that I hope you'll like. The idea occurred to me just two days before and I wondered that there might be someone that Carlisle had loved in his human life. And so I made this little story about how two persons can meet again amidst the circumstances and pain. I missed fanfiction and Carlisle! This was really hard to write. And I didn't use old English for I don't have any idea about that language. Haha. Enjoy new year!


The Portrait

Early 18th Century

Dawn was coming. The wintry darkness was fading, being slowly replaced by the golden tinge of the approaching sunlight. Cold air coursed through my bare skin as I sat motionless on the damp fallen log. The sound of the river in front of me was all I focused on. It helped me to relax, to dispose of my thoughts—even if it is impossible for a creature with a vast mind capacity such as me. I just sat there, forgetting the world… quiet and unperturbed.

I was starting to forget about my former self. No matter how much I try to remember my life that had once been, time took control of my memories. And even if I sat here for the next one hundred years, I still would not be able to bring them back. I still could not bring myself to relieve the agony I was feeling inside. Half a century I had been a damned creature and those years made me forget. Only straightforward details my mind could conceive.

Shadowy visions started to flash one by one inside the various spaces of my endless mind.

I could see an old city; busy people traveling forth the streets. There were merchants, artists, gentries, commoners. There were horses, stalls, brick structures, puddles in the streets, and so many objects. Different colors, vague yet still flicking. The women's colorful dresses swirled with the vision.

I could see an old man with strong, handsome features. He had fair gold hair. He looked at me with eyes the angry shade of gray. Then, he hit me in the face. I cried in pain.

The vision shifted and I saw a reflection in the mirror. He was young and sturdy. The blond hair he had inherited paternally; the azure eyes that looked straight back at me. He was real, he existed. I could see how he sat in the pew and opened a reading. His authoritative father was speaking in front of the altar. Other young men among his age were also there, controlled… influenced. But I could see the contradiction in the young man's clear azure eyes. He did not believe in his own father's words. Everything was wrong.

Then I saw the young man, his features changed. He had grown taller, stronger. He became more like I was at the present. He was me. I saw how I led the hunters into the alley I had seen those monsters and the courage it took me was evident in my voice.

And then flashes of visions once more—rapid and unclear. I saw the raven-haired beautiful creature with skin as pale as the moonlight and bright crimson eyes; a playful smile on his lips; and a set of razor sharp teeth. And at that moment, there was only pain.

Vague recurrences… I could feel the cold stone grazing my body as I crawled. The smell of blood and rotting potatoes tainted the air and I hid. The agonizing pain I must endure… for I had to keep silent.

With that searing darkness of fire, a new vision flashed into my mind. It was of a young woman—her hair the waves of chocolate and eyes of emeralds. I could see how she took a brief glance at me inside the church and she smiled so softly. The vision flew by, was replaced by daylight. I could see her in front of me, laughing and speaking. I held her hand and we stared at each other. Then it faded once more. I was in a dimly-lit room. The candles were flickering in the nighttime. The room was almost bare with the exception of a clean rug at the center of the room and a dozen of books scattered around. And the young woman appeared in front of my sight. Something had changed in her appearance. Her brown hair was longer and her face seemed more beautiful. Her green eyes held mine with what I could perceived as trust.

"I love you." She whispered in my ear and I wrapped her in my arms.

I reciprocated that feeling and at that night, we made love. The vision flicked and I saw patches of skin to skin in the golden light, I could hear sounds, I could hear myself telling her how much I loved her. I could see her face beneath me. And the way her lips moved against my own. She was so beautiful and she had been mine.

And I can't even remember her name.

I let out a frustrated sigh. The sun had already risen and I took the liberty to stand from where I sat. A moment later, I was on the river—cleansing myself. I need to remember.

It was a rare occurrence that I would interact with humans for the past decade… for it had taken me quite a few decades after I had found my vegetarian lifestyle to actually control my thirst. I did not know but it was in me that I had control… even if it was difficult.

London had changed for the past fifty years. But I still managed to find my way. The night was approaching and I walked inconspicuously in the lamp-lit streets of the big city. I was growing accustomed to the enticing scents of innocent humans. And I had been wandering around Europe—studying and exploring. Here I was, back at my old birth place. My appearance had somehow caught attention from the onlookers. Most were women who stared at me inquisitively. I winced internally. I hated my exterior. Couldn't they see that this was only a façade to lure them into their death? With a sigh, I turned to a quiet street.

I entered an old little bookshop just around the corner. A pleasant scent was potent inside the small place. The books in the shelves looked interesting as I scanned them one by one with only a brief glance. I could smell the old paper and antiquity in them. There was a book about plants that caught my attention and I took it from the shelf. Skimming through the fragile pages, I made my way to the counter just by following the rush of blood I could hear and the pleasant smell alongside it.

"Good evening, Sir." A rich woman's voice greeted me and I looked up to see her looking curiously at me. Something triggered inside my mind. I took off my hat and bowed at her. "Well, you seem very fond of plants."

I smiled. "You are quite correct, Miss. I just happened to pass by and science interests me."

I gave her the book with some money and she did her job. The young woman would be around eighteen. Under her fair skin, I could see the veins and hear the blood rushing inside her body… The most enticing of all was the curve of her neck where the warm liquid was at its best. I swallowed the venom that pooled in my mouth. Her attention turned back to me as she handed me the book. She looked eerily familiar—with her dark hair and green eyes. And I just knew it. How could that possibly be?

"Have we met each other before, Mister?" she asked in her gentle voice. Her eyes were growing steadily curious as we stared at each other. It took me half a second to steady my composure.

"I am quite sure I would remember a beautiful woman like you." I replied and we both smiled. "But I do not think so, Ms. Grant."

Her eyes widened and at the same time her heart stopped for a beat. "I am sorry, but how do you know my name?"

I chuckled and pointed at the paper with her name scribbled lying at the counter that separated us. She laughed. "I see, you are a little observant, Mister?"

"Cullen." I offered my gloved hand and she gave her right to me. I kissed it gently—not breathing. "It is a pleasure meeting such a lovely young woman like you, Ms. Grant."

She simply smiled at me. I bowed my head and exited the small bookshop. With that, I hid in the darkness.

It would be a lie if I say to myself that she did not resemble the woman in my memory. I knew for the fact that she looked exactly alike her. There is something about her thick chocolate hair and emerald green eyes that pulled me towards her. Oh dear, it cannot be! She looked so young. The woman in my memory must be in her old age or even dead by now. Sighing, I remained hidden on a dark alleyway but I still could see the old bookshop in front of me. I waited.

Only minutes passed and I saw the lights inside the shop extinguish. The pleasant smell of peaches became pungent and I kept an eye on the young woman walking cautiously on the side walk. I let her get far away as possible so as not to notice me. I heard a door open and close a good thirty yards from where I was hiding.

I followed her scent and noticed a white handkerchief lying in front of the brick apartment building just the same as the others in the neighborhood street. Picking up the piece of cloth, I instantly noticed that it was hers. Her scent was on it. Maybe she had unconsciously dropped it on her way home. Inhaling it deeper, realization hit me.

Oh dear Lord, I was stalking a young woman! It was horrible of me!

Then, the door opened in front of me. In my staggering realization, I did not even notice that the young woman had actually exited her house and she stopped in her tracks. Green orbs stared widely at me. I had regained my composure even before she took her next heartbeat. I was not breathing anymore. It definitely would be safer.

"It is good to see you again, Ms. Grant." I smiled pleasantly and her eyes trailed down to the cloth I was clutching in my right hand.

"I must've dropped my handkerchief for I was looking for my key." She spoke slowly, still unblinking.

"Oh, so this is yours." I chuckled and walked towards her. "I was on my way when I noticed it lying here."

She quickly took it from me and smiled a shy smile. "Thank you, Mr. Cullen. It is very nice of you."

With a heavy heart, I bowed at her but was immediately cut off by the sound of a woman calling from inside the house. "Elizabeth! What are you doing outside the house? Your dinner is ready!"

"I am to talking to someone, Mama!" Miss Elizabeth Grant gave out a shy laugh. It took us a few seconds of silence before I could hear her mother approaching towards us. I instantly recognized the dark hair. But her mother's eyes were the same color as her hair. I bowed at her as greeting. She looked at me inquisitively like she was trying to remember.

"Good evening, Mister…" she trailed and her daughter quickly whispered my name in her ear before I could reply. "Cullen. Oh, you must be famished! Come… I just prepared a very late dinner."

I considered for a moment before agreeing and the both of them led me inside their home. There were paintings everywhere—adorning the dark-paneled wood of the walls. The narrow entrance was inviting. Mrs. Grant quickly disappeared into the kitchen. Her daughter helped me take my black coat off and she hung it near the doorway; the same as I removed my hat and placed it there, too.

"Have you not been out in the sun for a very long time, Mr. Cullen?" Ms. Grant asked with a shy smile on her plump pink lips. I chuckled.

"Yes. I've been studying a lot during the day, confined in my own room. And my life is always at night." I said to her as we walked towards their dining room. It was the opposite, really. I had been studying by night and making most of my time in the day—with no one seeing me, of course.

I did not have any air in my body anymore to continue speaking so I took another large amount of it. In that split second, I smelled the peachy scent of the young woman beside me, the floral scent of her mother, something lavender upstairs; and roasted beef and potatoes. If I was a human, I would already be mouthwatering at the smell of the food. But I was not. It made my stomach hurl just thinking about eating them and figuring out how to spit them out back after I was done.

"You must be very smart." She commented and I smiled. "Well, a man your age might as well be studying law or some other profession."

"Medicine." I simply said—careful about the oxygen I was releasing as I speak.

"A doctor, that is very impressive."

The sound of broken china echoed inside the house and Ms. Grant half-ran towards the dining room. I quickly followed in a human pace. Mrs. Grant was standing still near the table, her eyes transfixed at the wall beside me. Ms. Grant was asking her mother if she was alright. Then she noticed what Mrs. Grant was looking at. Same reaction…

I turned to look and was immediately frozen at the spot. In less than a second, shock, panic, escape, coursed through me. There in the first painting in the wall was a portrait of a young man with golden hair and azure blue eyes. The same cheekbones, nose, lips, everything… It was me. Exactly the same as I was in the present—except for a few modifications like the pale skin and golden eyes. It was a human twenty-three year old me. And also in that moment, I had processed what explanation I could give and make my quick escape. This was absolutely impossible.

"That's why I thought I met you before. It was you! But how? It was painted for about five decades ago!" Ms. Grant exclaimed and I was rooted there on my spot. A tear was trying to escape from her eyes.

Mrs. Grant was staring at me now. Her shocked expression had somehow softened. "I can't believe it…"

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. But you both must be mistaken." I excused but I could see it in their faces that they did not accept it. I was breathing now—air was what I need to speak. "Well, it might be my grandfather. He looked a deal lot like me. But you see we have different eyes."

The middle-aged woman's eyes brightened with relief. "Yes… Silly of me to even think that it was you. Strange you have gold… I've never met a person with gold eyes."

"Mama… people had at least some differences in their features. No one is the same." Ms. Grant chided. She looked fine now. I somehow managed to smile inwardly. She looked the same as the woman in my memory.

I turned to walk a few steps toward the painting and faced it. It was small, the size of a regular book, and was in a simple wooden frame. It was really me and I ought not to deny it. But I had to lie to these innocent women. "How come you have a painting of my grandfather, Mrs. Grant?"

I faced them and she explained. "My mother is an exquisite artist. She had painted that in the 1660's at age seventeen. She told me her story every time when I was just a child. You see… my mother became an early widow. As far as my knowledge is, that man was her first love."

The memory flashed in my mind again. Something inside me felt lost.

"When my mother was sixteen, she met that man. I do not know his name for she never told me. It was inside the Protestant church and he caught her eye. He was already twenty-one at that time. She said that who could ever ignore the young man's golden hair, tall stature, and blue eyes. Really… it was love at first sight for her. The next meeting for them was a complete surprise for her. He approached her and that was the start of their secret relationship. They were forbidden to love each other for that man had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders brought upon by his father. And my mother's parents do not permit her to see other men…"

"The morning after my mother turned eighteen—a special birthday she said, he was gone. Nobody knew what happened to him. Mother almost lost her sanity but she remained strong." I was absorbed at her retelling. "A few years after, she married my father and never saw her first love again."

"She still talks about him." Ms. Grant spoke gently and I froze once more. "But she's very weak now. She has been suffering from her ailment for almost a year."

In that instant, the scent of lavender became even more pronounced in my senses. It was her—just above the ceiling. My dead heart sank. I did not know why.

"Look," Mrs. Grant pointed at the largest painting inside the room. It was the portrait of the young woman in my memory. Her soft wavy hair was down pass her shoulders, glistening green eyes, diamond face, attractive nose, and red plump lips. She was so beautiful. "She had painted that while looking in a mirror. She was twenty-three."

I captured that image in my memory. "Come, Mr. Cullen. I want you to meet her."

I followed them upstairs—still feeling a little nostalgic. The memories I had lost and regained. This was something precious from my past. Someone I had left behind.

Mrs. Grant opened the mahogany door and we entered the cozy bedroom. My eyes are transfixed at the sixty-eight year old woman lying on the bed with her eyes half-closed. White hair framed her face and though aged by time, she was still beautiful. I knew by the sound of her heart and the passage of air in her lungs… she was in pain.

"Grandmother, I would like you to meet someone." Ms. Grant sat at the edge of the bed and she beckoned me to come near them. I walked six steps and stopped just beside the bed. The lady looked at me and it took her a few seconds before recognition. Her eyes widened—revealing those green eyes I had once known. Though my memory might fail me, I knew she really existed.

"Stay still, Carlisle." She chided and I chuckled. She was painting me and we were inside my hideout. The idea of her making me a portrait was somehow gratifying. I watched as she took in my features.

"Carlisle…" she spoke clearly. I was even surprised that she managed to do so. She stretched her frail right hand and I took it—inwardly cursing myself for taking my gloves off when I entered the house. Her warm hand clutched mine and I knew she felt the difference. She knew that it was me and that I had changed. That I had become the monster she had feared most; the monster that I often talked about with her on how I could capture. She knew the truth behind everything. I said my apologies to her in my eyes and knew that she understood. Tears fell down her eyes and I closed mine.

"Thank you…" she breathed and I looked at her. Then she tenderly smiled and released my hand. I knew then that she was going to die. She closed her eyes and took her last peaceful breath—the smile still on her wizened lips.

I had said my goodbyes to the two women who warmly accommodated me for a supposed to be dinner. I watched as their faces became gentler from the loss of a beloved. They already had accepted it even then. And amidst the circumstances surrounding their family, I took the liberty to ask for my portrait. They willingly gave it to me.

And now I walked in the dark streets of London, my dead heart seemed to become freer. The silent wind of the evening washed away all the events that had happened. It left me to contemplate how I was brought to the person I was wishing to find out. Maybe fate got something to do with it. Or maybe the Lord willed me to find her… to disclose everything from my past; to ease my frustration; to atone for the desertion I had unwillingly gave to the young woman I once loved…

I looked at the painting I was clutching in my hands. This was a link to my past and I would not look back anymore. With little force, I crushed the painting with my hands and threw the dust in the asphalt. Everything had happened for a reason.

Enlightened, I left the sweet memory of Elizabeth Fitzroy in my wake.