AN: I'm ALIVE! Authors note at the end.
DANGER WILL ROBINSON (Yes I realize that this would be the wrong category): Anyway there is a small section in here that is discussed that boarders on M-ish sort of content being discussed. But nothing explicit is mentioned or named. Just a forewarning
Disclaimer: I don't own twilight, or it's character. Stephenie Meyer does. I'm just messing around with empty space and time.
A Mother's Guilt
~ Esme ~
I don't know how long he ran, but it was probably longer than it needed to be. Though I understood I guess. I was fighting my own giddiness, trying to reason with myself that finally getting one's boyfriend to react to you is not a reason to feel like you won an Olympic medal. In fact one should feel sorry for getting into such a situation that would leave one's boyfriend clearly embarrassed… because he was an early twentieth century prude. It wasn't helping, I still feel like I won something of huge significance… I really needed to get my head out of the gutter.
At the same time, it was hard not to sink back in because no matter how much Edward said he wanted me, the fear was still there, it was instinctual now, to fear him leaving me. But on the physical level of things, I had always wanted him physically. And I know he always fought off his blood lust as I tried and failed to fight off my… Edward lust, and I had always worried that he was attracted to my blood, and not to me. It was one of those things we really didn't talk about, a worry that was always in the back of my head. It was a worry that had just been squashed… for now anyway.
Rushing green momentarily became swirling white until we came to a full stop in the Cullen living room.
"Bells!" Before anything came into focus Emmett had me wrapped in his arms squeezing me so tightly I couldn't breathe.
"Let her breathe Emmett!" His hold lessened some. Thank god for Edward.
"Sorry sis, was just excited to see you. You haven't been back since… well, um we officially decided we wanted to make you the worlds first clumsy vampire." I couldn't help the laugh that bubbled out at that. I felt guilty for almost ignoring him, okay… ignoring everyone except for Edward and Alice, but the rest weren't at school, and I was grounded… and then he makes fun off me in a light hearted way, it made me hug my giant soon-to-be-brother back.
"Missed you too Emmett," I managed to mumble out against his shirt. He leaned back then, and I continued, "But I'm grounded, so I can't go anywhere except for school and Newtons." He released me and stared at me with a frown.
"That didn't stop you from coming last time!"
"Well, I didn't know what the terms of my grounding where at the time, and I had just woken up from a two day nap." I shot back at him.
"Ah, loopholes. I'm the best at finding those!"
"That he is. Now get back here, lets finish this!" Jasper spoke, from somewhere behind Emmett
"Yeah, yeah." Emmett was immediately sitting down next to Jasper on the couch and the sounds of a car chase came from the TV, cop sirens included. I sighed lightly and sat down in one of the loveseats and Edward sat next to me holding me close as we watched the two play. This wasn't an unfamiliar sight, last summer Jasper and Emmett loved to play videogames when they weren't out roughhousing. And it was times like these that you could sort of forget that your hanging out with vampires.
Except for last summer… Jasper had stayed away from me as much as was "polite" as much as he could get away with, without Alice giving him a look. I understood of course, I understand… He had said that when they were gone, that he had worked on his control… when they were gone I assume, but he was still worried it wasn't enough. Would he be closer now, or would he still keep his distance?
"Bella!" I braced myself for yet another breath defying (literally) hug, from Alice, however, all I felt was a small breeze and a brief embrace. I opened my eyes, that I hadn't even realized I closed only to see Edward standing and Alice who was crossing her arms across her chest as she looked at him amused as Edward donned a look I don't think I had ever seen on him… no I take that back I saw it about fifteen minutes ago, although this wasn't so much looking like a deer in the head lights as it was pure mortification with a dash of… embarrassment? A large crash came from the television speakers,
"I WIN!" Emmett shouted as Jasper roared with laughter. I turned to see what he was laughing at. Emmett was looking at him curiously too, we looked at each other clueless as Jasper settled down.
"Alice what did you do to the poor man?" He finally said. She looked back at her husband with a smile rivaling that of the Cheshire cat.
"I didn't do anything!" She laughed as Edward stood with an arm crossed over his stomach and the elbow of the other arm resting on it, as his thumb and index finger pinched the bridge of his nose.
Despite his earlier look… this one was more than familiar. He was trying to focus on his own thoughts. I wondered what exactly Alice had seen, and what Jasper had felt… what Edward felt. Though I did not have the opportunity to wonder long.
"Bella?" I turned to see Esme, who looked as if approaching a wounded animal. I guess in some ways, that's exactly what I was… but I was already beginning to heal.
"Esme!" I smiled brightly at her as I took a step towards her. The look on her face had me running to close the very short distance between her and I. The pull to Esme was a call that I had not felt in a while. So empty from Edwards loss, the bonds I had with the others easily melted into the mix of pain, but the loss of Esme held its own place of pain. She filled a hole that Renee had never quite been able to fit into.
I wrapped my arms around her as I slammed into her. She stood stock still and I stood still in response. I almost had said a mandatory Sorry but she inhaled deeply before I could and she wrapped her arms around me just as tightly as I had mine around her. I inhaled and immediately melted into her embrace, hugging her just that much closer.
I had never been good at showing my emotions, especially with Charlie. Hugs were awkward with him, and with my mother… hugs were mandatory to keeping her calm, making sure she felt safe. But with The Cullen's, it just seemed a natural part of being… of existing.
Edwards embrace always made me feel safe. Alice's embrace seemed to transfer her enthusiasm and her love. Emmett's embrace made me feel like the kid sister who had that big brother I'd always dreamed of having. And Esme's embrace was like going back in time…
I had never minded taking care of Renee. Taking care of people was natural for me… but that didn't mean I had never wanted to be taken care of. Edward, in his way, has taken care of me, but there was nothing like the warmth of a mothers embrace. I pulled myself closer to her.
As much as I would never admit it, when I was younger, much younger, I use to dream of being a different girl with a different mother, a mother who would give me those warm embraces, rather than me give them to her… but I grew up, and it was a pointless thing to think about… I never though I'd get what I had once dreamed of.
Esme had given me hugs throughout the summer, and I had slowly become spoiled by them. The last hug I had from her was at the Airport, and that had been somewhat rushed, and the last time I had been here was all business. I had gone far too long without Esme's hugs.
"I missed you… missed your hugs," I mumbled into her shoulder.
"I missed you too dear Bella. I missed you too." I felt her hand brush through my hair a few times as I inhaled her scent… even her scent screamed of everything maternal, it was as soothing as her embrace was.
"I'm still grounded, but my dad's sleeping… do you think that maybe you could possibly briefly ignore the parental gossip code about me being over here?"
"I think I can look the other way." I smiled, feeling slightly conspiratorial… not in the way that I had with the bikes, but in the way that your mother knows you're seeing someone your dad hates, but doesn't tell your father until she may have talked positively of your boyfriend a few times to him, softening him to the big reveal... Something I never had a problem with.
"Thanks." I sighed again,
And then my stomach growled. Cue immediate blush and a laughing Emmett.
"Almost 11:30," She said as she leaned back, and we slowly let go of each other. She smiling brightly at me, her eyes reflecting the light of the TV more than it normally would… venom tears that would never fall, "What would you like for Lunch?" She asked me. Before I could think, my knee jerk reaction to being taken care of began to fly out of my mouth,
"Esme you…" I felt a small wave of motherly love, and a need to provide… a need to mother, a subtle reminder from Jasper. I swallowed my need for independence and sent gratitude in his direction, "You could make a PB&J, if you want to."
She looked happy, that I hadn't told her what she had most likely thought I was going to say… what I would have said. But she gave me a stern look, that made me look at my shoes.
"A little birdie told me that someone," I could almost feel Edward tense behind me, before he wrapped his arms around me as Esme continued, "forgot to make sure you ate breakfast this morning."
"Well I wasn't thinking about food at the time." It was honestly a sore subject between Edward and I… and Alice… and apparently Esme as well. It's not like I had really paid attention to how much I ate or didn't eat when they were gone, I just ate if I was hungry and until I was full. Charlie had noticed my decrease in appetite, he knew that was normal for depression, and my baggy clothing hid the difference, as I avoided physical contact like the plague and by the time anything had probably been noticeable, he had stopped bothering to come in when I screamed in the night… He hadn't known just how much I had lost… nor had Alice noticed… Edward noticed… I had been subjected to a mini health class, and constant prodding to make sure that I ate more than I felt like I could, trying to get me back to the amount I used to eat before they…
At this point I was almost afraid to step foot in Carlisle's office, he'd probably go all concerned doctor with health charts as references, on me.
"You need more than a Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich dear," I couldn't help the flare of annoyance at that statement… I almost wanted to say, Why? Are you fattening me up for a feast? But I knew that wasn't true, and it was insensitive, and my annoyance was pushed to the side by concern and more love, and fear…
Was Jasper breaking confidence with Esme to do this? To make me understand? I felt guilty for it, despite how obvious it may be to see… to feel it seemed like an invasion of privacy… all this from feeling fear, what did she fear?
"Love?" Edwards arms tightened around me. I broke out of my stupor and looked back up at Esme,
"Well seeing as I wasn't hungry for breakfast earlier" Edward stiffened slightly, " how about breakfast for lunch?" It was a wide enough category, she could make what she wanted in the amount she thought appropriate.
"Alright dear," She was smiling again as she turned to walk towards the kitchen. I felt her fear instantly replaced with happiness, my guilt rose again.
Jasper and Emmett went back to playing their video game, but our strange conversation did not end.
My guilt was left alone as a different tenor, Jasperstenor, of guilt was added, and understanding in that same tenor replaced my guilt…
… Jasper didn't have a choice, except for to feel what others felt, he understood my brief guilt more than I could ever understand it myself, just the same I pushed my understanding on his guilt…
Edward walked me over to the second couch and I sat between Edward and Alice, I stared blankly at the screen, only noticing these changes briefly, as conversing with Jasper like this was taking an extraordinary amount of focus.
It was so strange to compartmentalize each emotion. It was like a long hallway, with doors on each side directly across from each other. One emotion per room. You could let an emotion in and out, you could swap emotions, or you could put an emotion in the room opposite it, and they would cancel out… That's what this brief abstract conversation felt like.
The guilt and the understanding disappeared as Esme's motherly love replaced it, along with something else. I was confused for a moment before that something went away and one of my own emotions was thrown back at me, it took a moment to identify. It's how I felt when I was closing myself off from others, I had done that so much my first few weeks of school… and still did it to a lot of people, because of the Cullen's secret.
The strange emotion came back, into the door opposite of feeling closed off… and they both disappeared. The direct opposite of being closed off was being open. Understanding washed through me as I began to understand that Esme was very open about what she felt, though perhaps not to the level that Emmett was, she did not hide her emotions either.
He let my guilt come back, and Esme's openness descended upon it, going into the opposite room, leaving me with no reason to feel guilt. But I was still left wondering why he had shared her feelings with me.
My attention was brought back to the hallway as two emotions were highlighted… the first was confusion, that one dimmed, then he highlighted curiosity… then he highlighted the feeling of closing myself off, then the surprisingly desperate need to be mothered.
I understood, and the hallway faded.
He was helping me let go… helping me, let myself be taken care of, without forcing acceptance on me, as he had yesterday with Alice and her desire to Barbie me. He was using emotions, in a completely foreign way… foreign, as in foreign language, a language so impossibly vast, and with a limited vocabulary, he had managed to form a logical argument, for me to let Esme do something as simple as cooking lunch for me.
I conjured up my own hallway, it was small, my vocabulary limited. And instead of feeling Gratitude and Brotherly love, I put the idea of that each emotion in a different room, on the positive side of things. Focused on those two different things. And I felt it, but it wasn't like feeling it, it was like saying it.
His reply was immediate. Sisterly love, and gratitude of his own. Before I could "voice" my confusion, he highlighted a very foreign feeling. It was vampire… I realized this entire "conversation" had been in human emotions, but the emotion now was changing… I recognized the change despite the foreign feeling of it. He had finally forgiven himself for my birthday. But he was thanking me for my forgiveness.
I felt the tell tale signs of my blush, which though I wasn't paying attention to the outside world, I could feel myself instinctively react, trying to hide it with my hair. I picked out Happiness, the kind of happiness I felt when I was here, with family, and more brotherly love.
I let the hallway fade, and I brought my consciousness back to the forefront of my mind, a place I hadn't realized I had left. Four vampires were staring at me. My eyes briefly glanced at the clock, only to realize that my small conversation had lasted about ten minutes. My eye brows shot up and I felt Edwards hand brush back my hair and my blush came back full force. Alice gave me a quick hug and peck on the cheek and she went to go sit by her husband who was giving me a reassuring smile as Emmett looked at me slightly confused.
"Dude you totally zoned out… kind of like Alice is half the time!" She whacked him on the head, though that didn't stop him from laughing. I looked down to my lap.
"How I wish I could get inside your head." Edward whispered in my ear. I repressed a shudder that was asking to be let out. I saw Alice nudge Jasper. Then with a confidence I didn't know I had, I turned to face Edward and looked him square in they eye. Our lips mere centimeters apart. How I held my composure I had no idea. But I said something that I had always thought, but never had the nerve to say.
"If you want things to stay chaste between us," I place my hand on his upper thigh, "then it's a very good thing you can't hear exactly what I'm thinking, precisely when I'm thinking it."
He swallowed. His eyes darkened noticeably.
"Bella, your lunch is ready." Alice said in the distance. I slowly got up and walked into the kitchen with confidence, through a daze… which abruptly ended as soon as I entered the kitchen. Esme smiled, visible amusement in her eyes. My initial reaction was complete mortification, and then there was anger fueled by my mortification. I opened my mouth,
"Sorry Bella!" Jasper yelled from the next room, not bothering to hide the smile in his voice. I let out the breath I hadn't realized I had been holding. The anger that had flared so suddenly had died just as quickly, as my reluctant forgiveness was given,
"No your not." I mumbled as I heard three distinct laughs, one of which was beside me. Though Esme's was far, far quieter than Emmett's. How the heck was I supposed to look at Edward now?
"It's at the table dear." I inhaled appreciatively as I sat down at the dining table, where my plate was made for me, and the dishes to make everything had already been cleaned, nothing for me to do... She knew me too well.
"Thank you Esme." I dug into the scrambled eggs first.
"You're welcome dear. Do you mind if I sit with you?"
"Sure." I thought nothing of it, as I did with Edward. It was easy for me to understand the want to make sure that one's cooking is enjoyed. She might not be able to eat with me, but her other children had no need for her cooking skills. This was a chance for her to be a mother, to make sure her… her child was fed, that her child was taken care of… that I was taken care of.
I swallowed my bite of maple syrup covered pancake, swallowing my tears with it. I took another bite, sighing in satisfaction as my once growling stomach was no longer on empty. I took a sip of orange juice before sticking my fork in a sausage link… I stared at it for a moment. What was the likely hood that of all the strange odds and ends that the Cullen's kept in their refrigerator, that they would have sausage links?
"Did Alice…?" I was trying to phrase my question but I didn't have to,
"Yes, she and Emmett went out this morning."
"Thank you." I said, almost quieter than normal.
"Welcome Bella!" I heard Alice's bell like voice, but Emmet's volume made only his words heard. I smiled, as I continued eating.
I had eaten all of my eggs and my two sausage links and half of my two pancakes and half of my orange juice when I felt full to the brim. I leaned my head on her shoulder and she wrapped her arm around me as she scooted her chair closer, kissing my forehead, then leaning her head on mine. Whispering,
"You should eat more…." At one time I had been able to eat this meal, with larger proportions of everything. I had a late lunch that Saturday, but still ate dinner when I normally did.
"I know, I'm just enjoying the tired happy full feeling before I do." She chuckled. I sat there for a few moments,
"I honestly wish everyone could enjoy your cooking. Maybe I could drag my dad over here for an outdoor sort of thing when it's warmer?" I made it into a question… I know my father wasn't exactly the happiest with the Cullen's… "Maybe he would soften up if you cooked for him?" I felt her smile against her hair.
"Perhaps an indoor thing, sooner… a bit easier for transferring food to the freezer without it being noticed… if your father would like something like that." I thought it over when Alice came in and sat across from me smiling. I turned to face her, keeping my head on Esme's slightly uncomfortably hard shoulder.
"Tomorrow night, with Esme and Carlisle and you. We'll say that Edward has been ignoring us… which he has, so we're going to drag him on a sibling trip to the movies with all five of us."
"When do I ask him?" She smirked.
"You don't ask him. Esme do you mind If I ruin the surprise to make Bella cooperate?" What surprise?
"That's fine dear."
"Edward will take you home just before five and Esme will stop by with something homemade, and Charlie will wake up just as Esme is leaving. You'll be getting ready to put it in the refrigerator when your dad comes down stairs, He'll ask if that's dinner as he will be hungry, then you will proceed to tell him that Esme made it and dropped it off for the both of you after hearing that he worked the night shift after working the day shift as well.
"He will then feel obliged after experiencing Esme's superb cooking skills, to call her and thank her. Esme will then invite him and you over for dinner tomorrow night, while her cooking and his happy stomach are still fresh in his mind. He'll be a bit flustered but unable to say no, considering it will just be the four of you.
"He'll go fishing in the morning, and then you both will be here by 6:00 and dinner will be waiting." Alice finished and smiled. I opened was just about to ask, when Alice answered.
"Yes, everyone is more than fine with it." I nodded.
"You should finish eating up before it gets too cold and soggy." Esme smiled at me placing another kiss in my hair. I sighed, knowing my stomach had settled, and knowing she was right. I sat back up and grabbed my fork…
"You know, being told to eat more by my Vampire mother is far less annoying than being told to eat more by my Vampire boyfriend." I looked back up at her, her eye's shining. I realized what I had said. I had no regrets. I smiled then took another sip of orange juice.
Then I heard a loud crash in the other room, and Emmett and Jasper were laughing again.
"Boys!" Esme said, in a very stern, do not mess with the mother, sort of voice.
"What exactly was that?" I questioned slightly wary.
"Emmett was being… Non-Prudish." Alice explained. It took me a second to figure out what Emmett could have possibly gotten out of that sentence besides mother. When a memory of one of my mothers very, very brief phases that lead to a lot of noise with a misplaced instruction packet leading my mother to give me the sex talk at the age of eight. I felt my blush as I sat up in my seat, looking at Alice while trying to keep the embracement from my voice.
"Please inform Emmett that one generally works their way up to that stuff and I'll be starting from scratch." Complete and utter silence emanated from the other room, "And tell Jasper to stop with the artificial confidence." Alice smirked.
"That's all you."
"I'm still blaming Jasper." Alice and Esme both chuckled, as I began to eat more of my pancakes for something to do that would not require speaking.
"I'll go make sure they don't destroy anything else." Alice left still smiling. Esme broke the silence shortly there after.
"I know many your age are well aware of…" She paused searching for the correct wording, I saved her the effort.
"But why do I know about such things?" I finished for her, she nodded looking slightly embarrassed herself. "When my mother started dating again, she went for well… guys a bit more on the wild side than, from what Renee said, Charlie ever was. And Renee being as unorganized as she was, didn't pay attention to where she left some of her boyfriends… stuff and I came across said… stuff and a few" I cringed, "Pictures. I immediately grabbed my backpack and did my homework in my room rather than at the table. When my mother realized what had probably occurred… She apologized, a lot, and then she gave me a somewhat detailed version of the sex talk at the age of eight."
I saw Esme in my peripheral vision shake her head with her eye's closed, her lips in a scowl that didn't belong. I chugged the last of my orange juice having eaten nearly everything on my plate. But there was no way the last half of the last pancake was going down after talking about that. It made my stomach more than queasy. I pushed the plate back a bit to which she promptly made disappear. She placed a hand on my shoulder,
"Feel up for a walk in the garden?" I squashed the instinctual thrill of fear that rushed through me at those words and a burst of reassurance rinsed away my internal frown. Once again, I found myself thankful for my empathic brother. Though knowing that he was still here let me know that the boys likely did in fact hear my explanation to Esme. I blushed at the thought and plastered a smile on my face and nodded, answering her question.
"Sure." I would just not think about it for the moment, this was a walk with Esme in her space to think and relax. She grabbed a jacket for me and I put it on as I followed her outside.
It was a beautiful work of art hidden behind the house. You could see that some of it had been left unkempt, though she had cleaned up and replaced a good portion of the plants, some still needed replacing and the areas around them needed some clean up. Even so, everything Esme placed in her garden just fit, and always had. She had even let me help her plant some of her flowers and bushes, I guess that had kind of been our bonding time. I never really understood how I could be helping her when I was slower to her than a snail was to me, but she said that plants require the delicate touch and care of a human hand, so she did her best to replicate the time and energy spent on creating her ever growing masterpiece. She said that I didn't slow her down, I just added a true human element.
She had a flower or a plant for every member of the family hidden throughout her garden. Jokingly she had said that if either Freesia or Strawberries could handle so much water and so little sun, she would have added those because of my scent. But she said she chose something more fitting of who I was rather than my "fragrance". I never had figured out what it was.
When she told me that this was her sanctuary, I had been confused and apologetic for encroaching, even though she was the one to invite me. But then she told me that spending time with a daughter was more of a sanctuary than anything else.
And then she left. They all left, I was just a pet like Laurent said.
"Bella, oh Bella." I heard Esme whisper in my ear, dragging me back into the present. My arms were wrapped around myself, holding myself together. The memory of the gaping hole within my chest faded as I processed the fact that someone else was holding me together, someone with cold arms and a warm heart. A sob broke from my mouth before I realized it was there.
"I'm sorry, so sorry." She choked out. I shook my head as I gripped the back of her shirt.
"N-not your F-fault." I rested my ear against her silent heart as I tried blinking away my tears. It frightened me, how easy it was to fall back into the memory of pain. How abrupt it was at the slightest trigger. I couldn't focus on it, and I didn't want to, that pain was in the past. Something I would never have to deal with again… I pushed it all aside and looked besides us, looked at the product of Esme's love and care.
I saw nearest to us was a new raised flower bed, one that had a roof with a second small flower bed on top. There was nothing in the top yet, but on the bottom were the two things that Esme said didn't grow well in Forks weather, too much rain and not enough sun. My breath hitched.
She came back. She built something new, something to protect and care for Strawberries and Freesias in an unnatural environment.
"Just because they're in an environment that most would say is unhealthy, doesn't mean that they won't thrive, given the proper care and a little extra TLC." She paused, letting her words sink in. Hidden by the wood sides that went down past the actual roof, was an artificial sun light, and the roof, the second flower bed protected them from too much rain.
A human member of a vampire family… an unnatural environment. But I was cared for, and I was protected, I was a part of her garden, her family… human or not.
I clung to the woman who for all intents and purposes, would be my mother for the rest of eternity. I let my tears go unchecked, basking in the comfort that Esme brought me until I shivered slightly from the cold I hadn't really noticed. She pulled back and I let my death grip on her lighten as her eyes met mine.
"Leaving you, a daughter behind is the greatest regret I harbor, because you bring us so much hope. You make the Cullen family whole. You make Edward whole, you make him happy. I can never thank you enough for that. I have no right to ask for forgiveness, but I'll make you a promise, I promise that I'll always be here if you need a… a mother to talk to. I could never replace Renee and I don't want to, but I'll be here just the same."
I closed my eyes with a smile on my face. What was it with vampires and thinking they didn't deserve forgiveness? I opened my eyes finding hers open and honest and I said the only thing that made sense to say,
"I love you mom." Her eyes danced with a sudden burst of happiness as she pulled me into another hug,
"As I love you my daughter." Warmth filled me inside and out,
"And there's nothing to forgive, you're here now and forever. That's what matters." She laughed out a sob as she pulled back again, holding me out by my shoulders. We smiled at each other in a way that Renee and I hadn't in a very long time. No, Esme could not replace Renee, just as Renee could never fill the hole that Esme did.
"Come on, let's get you inside and warmed up." My tears had stopped but the red eyes remained I'm sure. Hell they probably all heard it, but at this point, I don't think I really cared.
We headed back to the back porch in comfortable silence, walking through a beautiful garden, slowly being rebuilt with time, with care, and with love.
AN: Well it's been a friggin long time since I've been on Fanfic for anything substantial I do appologize… and there are many, many, many, a reason for this but here I am with another chapter that had been partially written for a very long time, I just couldn't figure out how to end it…. So I ended it in a garden :D
And yes I am keeping it a Bella Jasper family fic, because Jasper having been the first to be forgiven and having her feel what the other feel, will be guiding her and the rest of the Cullen's to find their peace.
Thus the liberties I took with how Jasper's ability works as well as how Bella compartmentalizes things, or feelings in this case. Hope you don't mind too much…
Let me know what you think and maybe I'll get inspiration from something someone says… I'm trying to figure out what to do next chapter without it being a filler...?
Anywho untill later, my readers