Title: Carlisle's Muse
Word Count: 2139
Summary: Bella muses on the complexities of Carlisle's character and realises something about herself.
Author's Note: Well, another day and another fic for the apple-a-day. Today my prompt is 'music' and I believe that many of you out there might have a thousand or more ideas about what can be done with this prompt. Music is something that I am very passionate about, even though I haven't played an instrument in years, so I hope that when you read this you like the directionality of my musings. Thanks for stopping by!
Aside from piggy-backing up to dizzying heights with Edward, the last time I had climbed a tree was over a decade ago, when I pulled myself into the stretching limbs of the Japanese cherry-blossom tree in Charlie's backyard. I can remember the way in which the branches seemed to creak in protest under my very insignificant, eight year-old weight. I can remember, too, the confetti-like petals of the flowering blossom as my jiggling loosened the delicate clusters and they rained down upon my head. I pretended I was a bride, reaching my hand out to catch the silky pink flowers as they spiralled towards the grass below. As with most things in my life, reality caught up with me quickly when I lost my balance on the branch that I was perched precariously on and crashed to ground in an undignified heap.
I still have the scar on my arm where my elbow scraped the bark on the way down. I suppose my intolerance for blood could have been influenced by how much of it there was that day, mixing gruesomely with the fallen cherry-blossoms. After ensuring my safety, Charlie had read me riot act about disturbing the tree – didn't I know that it only blossomed for a short time every year? That it was very delicate?
I guess I did after that, because the branches were all but bare after my misguided escapade.
Why then, I had decided to scale the impossible heights of the tree in the Cullens' backyard, I have no real justification – except that I was bored sitting in the house while Edward and the others hunted and Carlisle brooded in his office over medical textbooks. I had been reading Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre all morning and I was practically crossed-eyed from the strain.
The tree was the only oak tree amongst a forest of spruces and firs, which was exactly why it stood out as being majestic – and incidentally the only one that wouldn't prickle me with needle-like spines. It was also the only one that I could get a half-decent grip on. I was thankful, as I swung myself unto the first branch, that Carlisle's study did not face the backyard and that no-one would be privy to my unladylike clambering in the middle of a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was oddly liberating, though, to behave like a naughty eight year-old again. Even the minor scratch against my knee as I pulled with all my might wasn't enough of a deterrent.
A branch about midway up the almighty tree was the perfect breadth for me to sit with my back against the trunk, legs stretched out. Wide enough that I wouldn't tumble to the ground in a bloodied heap, like my last solo tree-climbing endeavour. Although the mossy wood had stained my jeans with green smears and under my nails were filthy, I felt ecstatic that I had managed a daring feat without my natural born clumsiness winning through.
Perhaps I was evolving.
The summery, flower scented breeze ruffling through the leaves sent me into a sort of meditation-like trance as I let my thoughts wander without the worrying creaking of the protesting branches. This oak tree was sturdier than the dainty cherry blossom of my youth.
I had lapsed into the fuzzy state, somewhere between consciousness and dozing when I heard the resonating sound of the cello, thrumming somewhere off to my right. At first I wondered if it was my imagination – a solidifying dream pulling me deeper into the grasps of slumber – but I didn't know this composition and I didn't think my mind was creative enough to imagine it. Far from it in fact, for the lulling and deeply melancholic music was both eerie and heartbreaking.
Only Carlisle and Jasper could play the cello and for two reasons, I knew with absolute certainty that it was not the latter; Jasper was hunting with the others and his abilities were nowhere near as acute as Carlisle's who had spent the better part of two-hundred odd of his three hundred and forty-something years learning to play.
Awake once more, I turned my head toward the open window of the music room – a spacious, glass lined room that was always bright and airy. Even so, with the golden rays of the sunlight spread across the floor, the atmosphere within was still brooding – still yearning, owing to the undulating notes floating into the backyard.
Carlisle's pale hands caressed the instrument lovingly, pressing on the strings while his right hand drew the bow across them. His eyes were closed and I noticed that his expression hinted at deep concentration, and deep sadness. I hadn't seen such emotions in him before because I had always sensed that Carlisle kept a tight restraint on himself. Probably why he was the patriarch of the Cullens; he was the one most capable of maintaining order and calm in the face of absolute chaos.
It was him that looked as though he were in chaos, today. His smooth marble brow was furrowed, his always neat blond hair askew with two devilishly stubborn stands falling across his forehead and his lips pinched with the torment of his thoughts. I had always considered it somewhat clichéd that people used music as a vent for their inner distress. It seemed like an excuse that those moody types who dressed in black used to explain away their endless, talentless banging on drums and screeching incoherently into microphones. But as I watched, like a voyeur from my perch on the oak tree, that excuse suddenly seemed like a feasible reality.
Each deep, rich note appeared to tell of Carlisle's unspoken heartache and I was compelled to watch him, to listen to him even though I knew that I was technically spying. I had always noticed something intensely private about him and I had admired it, even. Sometimes I felt as though I wore my heart on my sleeve and at times I wondered how Edward had not noticed the burgeoning attraction I felt towards the mysterious man who lead the coven. Carlisle was enchantingly deep; a provocative man who made me feel odd.
Odd is a very generic word for a feeling, isn't it?
To say I felt 'odd' could insinuate all sorts of things but it was the only word that I could use to describe the fluttering knot of anxiousness I felt when Carlisle was around. As though he knew something about me that even I hadn't worked out, yet. His golden eyes were always so knowing and worldly-wise. Quite unlike anyone I had ever met, in fact.
The music stopped and the void it left in the air, despite the twittering of birds and the rustle of the surrounding trees in the temperate breeze, saddened me. My lazy afternoon had become one of reflection and when I looked through the window again, Carlisle's almost defeatist stance all but made my heart squeeze. Sitting in his chair, his arm had dropped and the bow in his hand touched the ground while the body of the sleek, polished cello lay against his thigh. I saw that his eyes were downcast and even the sparkling of his skin in the waning afternoon light wasn't enough to brighten the dourness of his mood. I thought, as I swung my legs over the branch to position myself for a better look, that if it were possible, he might have been crying, so agonized was his expression.
When he lifted his head and turned to look out the window, I worried he might see me lurking in the oak at the bottom of the yard, then I realised that the leafy curtain behind which I hid made it far more difficult for him to see me than me to see him. His bronzy eyes were unseeing but I caught the prominent glint of embittered emotion in his irises, even from a distance.
Carlisle set the cello aside and I thought that he might return to his study, to brood once more over his abundance of medical texts but instead he went to the cabinet that I knew was filled with sheet music – some in glossy books that had the music to timeless classics such as Fur Elise and others with more modern compositions as well as the ones I had always been most curious about; the handwritten sheets complied by various members of the family during their most inspired moments. Carlisle was looking through these, pausing midway through the stack of pages with a doubtful, perhaps hesitant expression upon his otherwise stoic face. I watched as he glanced briefly back at his cello and then removed the sheet music altogether.
He toyed with the instrument for a long few minutes, twisting the tuning pegs and flicking his fingers against the strings, listening, twisting again. After awhile I began to wonder if I ought to go back to my daydreaming doze and forget all about my voyeuristic half hour watching Carlisle. He rosined the length of his bow with the chunk of amber coloured resin, then blew on it, rosined it some more and I wanted to yell out 'just get on with it, already!' but I was mute, half breathless with expectation because I knew that whatever piece of music had drawn Carlisle to the cabinet must have been one that he felt would encapsulate his emotions. And I admit, the curiosity of that was burning my insides.
After he had suitably tightened the hair on the bow, Carlisle positioned the cello between his legs and memorised the first few notes on the sheet before beginning and what emerged from the newly tuned instrument made me freeze in the bowels of the oak tree; my lullaby. Played with such delicacy and near reverence, I listened in apt wonder, not quite understanding why Carlisle would want to play this piece of music. His face was so heartbreakingly haunted that I was sure it couldn't be to enhance his mood. And then with the fanfare of a brass band in my mind, the penny dropped – a resounding clink in the back of my head.
He was thinking about me! I was the reason for his broodiness, the anguish and confliction that marred his otherwise perfect face. The music stopped again, halfway into the fourth bar and even from all the way across the yard I heard the clatter of his bow as he tossed it across the room and it hit the floor. Luminious skin was stretched tight across his knuckles as he clutched the neck of the cello so fiercely I feared he might snap it.
I looked away then, frightened and embarrassed at what I had just witnessed. My spying had enlightened me to something so private and certainly forbidden and I cursed myself for my own stupidity; spying never amounted to anything good. Never. Certainly not today when I had learned through my covert methods that Carlisle courted secret feelings for me.
Like I did for him. That he had played my lullaby and was so possessed by his conflicting emotions sent me into a blind panic. I almost lost my balance, even in a colossal sized tree such as the oak. My heart was hammering manically and without thinking, I looked back up at him, retrieving the discarded bow, now. His shoulders were slumped as he examined the wood for scratches or damage and I yearned to go to him, to tell him that it was okay to feel the way that he did for me. Even though it absolutely wasn't okay. Not for me and not for him.
Carlisle played for some more time, alone in the music room and the notes of my lullaby were never touched upon again. I sensed that the more upbeat compositions that he played were consciously picked to alleviate the burdening cloud of doom that had settled over him and, as a consequence of my spying, me. By the time the sun had all but disappeared from the sky and threatening looking cumulus clouds were rolling in over the mountains, I was bleak with misery.
He stopped playing, put away the sheet music and filed Edward's composition back amongst the others. He glanced at his cello once more, longingly and shook his head sadly. The window was still open and his name was on my lips as he moved towards the door. I could have called him like I so desperately wanted to, but I remained silent. The light was extinguished, plunging the room into darkness and as the rain came on suddenly, heavily. The droplets dripped through the canopy of leaves above my head, and as the sky wept, I did too. For all the things I couldn't change.
And all the things I wished I could.
A/N: Okay, next time I am going to write something happier between Carlisle and Bella, I promise! I will be back with a new prompt soon, I am sure! In the meantime, do let me know if you enjoyed this! Thanks for reading! Pereybere x