OK new fic time :) This has been in the works for quite a while, and thanks to jensmuse, Twicali and the other ladies at forum for inspiration to carry it on! This fic also owes a lot to Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls (actually, I have my own playlist so if you want it, PM me). I know it's not really congruent with a lot of what Stephenie wrote about Carlisle's backstory and I have tried to stick to the canon as much as possible, but there were a few historical inaccuracies so I've gone with what's right historically. I hope you like this one guys! Also, note: I speak NO LATIN. It could easily be wrong, and if it is, a correction would be welcome :)
Carlisle sat rigidly on an old wooden chair as his father paced in front of him, deliberating. His face was stern, although this was nothing out of the ordinary. He generally disapproved of many of Carlisle's choices, beginning with his declination to study theology, but this was partly because he knew that Carlisle only stayed because he worried for him. His health was failing him and he became increasingly weak. What he wasn't aware of was Carlisle's other reason to stay. The incarnation of perfection that held him to the small diocese. Elinor Barling. He allowed himself to think a little of her while his father paced, trying not to move an inch. Her hair shimmered in sunshine, wavy and coal black. It fell down her back to her hips in thick ringlets. At least, it fell down her back because she pushed it there. He smiled inwardly, knowing how she hated it to cover her face- any why wouldn't she, with such a face as hers? Her skin was pale, quietly beautiful in its delicacy, and her eyes were the most startling shade of green. It was enchanting. She looked fragile, like a mild winter would be the death of her. He knew he wanted to marry her, but be hadn't the courage to ask her father. He was the local butcher and had refused to partake in the witchunts organised by his father, believing them to be ludicrous. In fairness to him, they had never been successful, and Carlisle knew that to stir up the parish in that manner was unwise, but more often than not the people had stirred themselves up without outside influences. He also, much to Carlisle's dismay, refused to call him Carlisle. This was partly due to the fact that Carlisle was only a nickname of sorts- his mother had been from Carlisle. His real name was Nathaniel, but nobody (not even his own father) addressed him thus- other than Christopher Barling, of course.
His father finally turned to face him. "You will lead the hunt tonight, and that is my final word on the matter. I am far too old to be doing this and it is your duty as my son to take over." Carlisle opened his mouth to argue back, but his father raised his hand to stop him. "No arguments." Carlisle closed his mouth. His heart sank, knowing that Christopher would never allow him near his daughter again.
Carlisle was stood in front of the mob- for there was no other word to describe them- attempting to draw their attention. He raised his voice, waved his arms about (feeling foolish as he did so), and tried to whistle, but to no avail. Suddenly, a loud shout of "QUIET!" came through the crowd. Weaving through to join him at the front was- ah, it was Elinor. Carlisle smiled at her, grateful, finding it difficult to concentrate all of a sudden. As she drew level, he shook himself. He must concentrate on the task at hand.
His father's method was ineffective, he felt. They confined to the main streets and not too far into the woods around, when all the disappearances were farther afield. As he told the gathered crowd his stratagem, he noticed with glee that Elinor was nodding along and smiling at him. This empowered him to carry on talking, greeted by a rousing cheer from the people. They decided to break off into groups, and a few men at the front walked up to join Carlisle. Suddenly, Elinor was at his shoulder. She looked up at him from underneath her eyelashes.
"I know that usually women are not permitted to join in the hunt, but seeing as my father has forfeited his place, I was hoping to take it, if that's alright," she said, blinking rapidly. Carlisle stood gaping at her for a long moment, then recovered himself.
"Err, I, um," he swallowed, "yes, I should think that wouldn't present any problems, right?" he turned to the men beside him, all of whom instantly stopped gawking at Elinor. They nodded and grunted their approval in response. Carlisle smiled serenely at her. She smiled widely, momentarily rendering him speechless. He blinked a few times, then cleared his throat, gesturing pathetically in the general direction of the road leading towards the woods. Elinor took his arm.
"Lead the way," she said brightly.
It was exceedingly difficult to see in the woods. They did have the torch carried by one of the men with them, but it only created more flickering shadows against the trees. Carlisle then thought it might have been better to go during the day, but was reminded that none were able to join him. Dark though it may have been, he was glad of the company. It made him somewhat less nervous, and he was also grateful for the oppourtunity to be closer to Elinor. This thought made him extatically happy, and their closeness created with it a new sensation that he was not familiar with- it coursed through his veins powerfully, both burning him and making him shiver. He carried on through the darkness, careful to help Elinor over prominent branches and rocks, and to move twigs and bushes aside for her. Then, suddenly, one of the men in the group stopped dead in his tracks, holding out his arm to halt their progress. Carlisle then heard something he knew was not caused by any of their party- a faint rustling all around them, he couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from exactly, but he didn't like it at all. Seconds later, he heard something he liked even less- silence. Not a peaceful silence, but an eerie absence of any noise that caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. He turned very slowly to face his followers, their faces showing the fear he felt. He opened his mouth to tell them to run, when he heard Elinor scream behind him. He wheeled around to see- nothing. The torch had been dropped with a loud clatter and he heard the rest of his party flee. He could see nothing around him, so he turned in what he thought was the direction of the village and ran.
Elinor opened her eyes. She thought she could see one or two stars in the sky, but they were in a sliver of dim light that illuminated nothing. She looked frantically around herself, seeing nothing. She tried to get up, but something cold restrained her. The thing hissed at her, and the breeze that emanated from the direction of the hiss was an exceptionally intoxicating smell. It was like lavender fields, mixed with morning rain and apple blossoms. She moved towards the scent, inhaling deeply, craving more. It got more intense as she raised her head, and a low moan came from above her. Suddenly, there was an ear-splitting cracking sound, like trees crashing as they were ripped from their roots. The scent moved, as did the icy mass that had held her down. Her head clearing, she scrambled onto all fours to get away. She felt fallen leaves and earth under her hands, so she knew she was in the forest. Wonderful, she thought, that meant there was no light and plenty of obstructions ahead. The commotion only got louder as she moved, and there was the most hideous tearing sound accompanied by an ear-piercing shriek of pain. It was so awful that her heart almost stopped. She scrambled forwards, crouching down. She didn't get far before she tripped over a protruding root. On her way down she hit her head on the tree it belonged to, causing her head to throb. She heard a faint rustling behind her, then a vice-like, chill grip appeared seemingly out of nowhere around her ankles. It pulled her back the way she'd come, talking to her in an unfamiliar tongue. She scrambled her hands over the floor, searching for something to get hold of, but nothing appeared. She tried to dig her nails into the ground, but it was solid from the cold. She frantically felt around, hoping for a tree or a bush. She prayed that God would save her from this demon. At that moment, there was a loud crunching sound, and the grip dropped. She heard shouting in that same unfamiliar tongue, it pierced the night air around her as she ran.
She got further and further from the sickening crunches and angry shouting, thinking perhaps she could make it to the less dense outskirts of the forest. She continually tripped and knew she cut herself a number of times- she could feel her warm blood trickling down her now exposed legs- one of the creatures had ripped her skirt. She fought back the tears that had been flowing freely since she got away from the creatures, knowing that she could do this. She hit various trees along the way, always accompanied by searing pain. She ran through it, although it got harder and harder as she began to feel weaker and weaker the longer she continued. Suddenly, she ran into something else very solid. It clawed at her, and she pushed at its stone cold form, tears returning in force.
"Please," she begged, "no! Don't!" She heard a weak voice that was more beautiful than music reply.
"Operor non timeo," it said, before it pierced her neck. Before she could scream, she was engulfed in internal flames.