Firelight by vampireisthenewblack
Summary: The best traditions start with a memorable experience. I'd been a vampire only half a year when it happened, and I thought it would be just us, forever. Sometimes things don't turn out the way we expect. Edward/Carlisle. Canon. NC-17.
A/N: This story was written as prompted by Frenchbeanz aka MySlashyFriend in the Make the Yuletwi'd Gay slashy fic exchange. Thanks to my alpha and beta readers: afragilelittlehuman, venis-envy, TheRainGirl, kuroiblacknightingale.
This is my canon, and in the same canonverse as my other Edward/Carlisle one-shot, The Polar Opposites of Joy and Loss. Firelight is pre-Esme, Polar Opposites is post-Esme. Like Polar Opposites, I'm not ruling out a continuation, so alert the story (or author alert me!) if you're interested.
Last Christmas had passed almost unnoticed. This year we were to resume our traditions, to show them to Bella and Renesmee, and yes, even Jacob. With no Volturi threat, with no house-guests, we could celebrate the holidays as we had done before.
There was no traditional Christmas dinner, but we had a tree, decorations, and gifts. Alice had always loved the ritual of dressing the tree, and it was she who brought the chest of baubles and wreaths and ropes of lights out of storage and gathered us all. Every single one of the items in the box had a story. This year, there were two of our family—three, if you must—who didn't know these stories.
Alice slid the box in front of my daughter and drew out a little porcelain angel, pale and perfect and blonde. "See? It's Rose."
Rosalie smiled at her husband. "Emmett gave it to me his first Christmas."
Alice hung the little angel on the tree, and as she touched the needles, a fresh wave of pine scent washed over me, stirring my memories.
Renesmee reached in, brushing aside delicate glass globes and gilt bells, and drew out a tiny, perfect, crystal apple. She held it up in front of her eyes, and it turned slowly on the delicate thread. The facets caught the firelight and sent golden flickers around the room.
"That belongs to Edward," Alice said, and as she did she glanced, not at me, but at Carlisle.
I stared at the tree as if I could will it to disappear. What right had I to give any regard to the season, to pretend I was human and take part in such a celebration when all it represented had been taken from me? I was no longer eligible to enter God's Kingdom, I could not, in good conscience, celebrate the birth of Christ.
"Does it seem blasphemous to you?" I asked my creator. It was difficult to keep my voice flat and emotionless.
"I still have my faith, Edward," Carlisle replied. He did not look at me, but regarded the tree with the same feigned interest as I did. "Don't you believe as you did before? I see no reason why we shouldn't continue the traditions we kept while we were human. Even if we don't, Christmas is a time to celebrate our family." He looked at me and his tone became softer. "To enjoy the company of those we love."
I twitched. "My family still rots in the ground." I turned on my heel and ran out into the snow.
I expected him to follow me, but he didn't. I tried to ignore my disappointment.
More tall pines surrounded me. The thick scent filled my nostrils and reminded me too painfully of my loss.
I didn't go so far I couldn't hear Carlisle's thoughts. He was disappointed in himself for not realising bringing a Christmas tree into our house would only give me painful memories. He wanted nothing more than to make me happy—at least content with the life he had given me, and he despaired of it ever happening.
He told himself I was young, still a newborn by his way of looking at it, still struggling with my thirst. He expected I would be volatile in both my emotions and my temperament.
I hated that he made excuses for me as he pulled down the tree and took it outside. I should have been able to hold myself back from angry outbursts.
The anger I once held toward him for changing me had faded, and I was slowly coming to terms with the creature I had become. But I missed my mother and my father. The very idea of Christmas without them was excruciating. The scent of the tree brought it all back, but it was incomplete, like something I'd seen in a dream. I already could not picture my mother's smiling face. That human memory had been obliterated by my transformation, replaced by the crystal clear image I would sometimes see in Carlisle's mind.
Carlisle had only known my mother when she was very ill, close to death. I didn't like to be reminded of it.
He brought the tree outside, left it at the back of the house where it would lie forgotten until spring. He wandered, coming closer to me, giving me the opportunity to leave if I did not wish to see or speak to him.
We met among the trees. Whole snowflakes dusted his pale hair, almost blending with the colour; more were sprinkled over the shoulders of his dark coat. I brushed them off with my fingers. "Forgive me," I whispered. "I should have held my temper." I looked into his eyes, exactly the colour of the cut pine trunk. Even if I hadn't been able to read his mind, I would have felt his regret.
"There is nothing to forgive." He touched my cheek, cupping it in the palm of his hand. Too young, he thought. I cannot expect—
"I'm perfectly capable of being civilised, regardless of my youth, either in years, or months, to whichever you're referring." I dropped my eyes and couldn't help but lean into the comforting touch of his hand. "I should have held my tongue. I had no right to take out my grief on you."
He moved closer, and I felt his arms come around me. "I know you suffer, Edward. Your loss will not fade as the memories do." My heart aches for him. I want only to give comfort.
I turned my face up and gave him the most reassuring smile I could muster. "You are a comfort. I know your reasons, all your actions, come from the purest intent. I understand the tree was not only for me. You needn't have thrown it out. If you wish to celebrate the fact you are no longer alone, I won't interfere. It would be selfish of me to do so."
He sighed, his chest rose and fell against me, and I was overcome with such a feeling of affection I wrapped my own arms around him and lay my head upon his shoulder. I relaxed into him and absorbed the surprise and pleasure that filled his mind.
There was something else there, something not quite tangible, something he made effort to conceal. I caught his eye. "What is it?" I asked.
Pure innocence. "It's nothing," he assured me. Such purity must be protected.
I smiled, thinking of the lengths to which he went to keep me far from temptation, free of the taint of human life on my conscience. It was this I loved about him, the acceptance of his responsibility for having created me.
The top-most branches of our new tree grazed the ceiling. "It's so bare," I said, "but it would feel wrong to clutter it with things that have no meaning."
There was significance to each of the ornaments that had dressed the Christmas tree of my childhood. They were gifts given by friends and family, and a new addition each year 'just because' that I could remember by the age I was the year they had been collected. I knew each of them, and the story behind them all.
The last gift I had given my mother was something for the tree.
I remembered the box they were kept in. It was a wooden chest, with a lid and a brass catch that had been broken long before I could remember. Every year my father would haul it down from the attic, and my mother and I would trim the tree. It was a ritual, filled with stories of past celebrations, many of which I was too young to recall. I could almost hear my mother's voice. "Stand back, Edward, and tell me how it looks."
Carlisle drew a tiny parcel from the pocket of his coat. "Perhaps this will help. It's not much..." He attempted to guard his thoughts, but I saw a flicker of crystal, the shine of gold thread. He held out the tiny gift to me.
It was wrapped only in white tissue and tied with a red ribbon, and as I held it in my hands I looked up at him. "I have nothing for you."
"It doesn't matter. I hope this will give a little of the meaning you seek. Open it."
I tugged at the ribbon, peeled back layers of thin paper and exposed what seemed to be a tiny crystal ball, cut in facets. Coiled around it was a delicate gold thread, and I picked it up and saw it was a tiny apple, with crystal leaves and a crystal stalk. It was exquisite, perfectly detailed, and as I held it up in front of my eyes it sparkled in the firelight.
It reminded me of how glorious Carlisle looked in the sun.
"It's beautiful," I breathed. "Thank you."
He took it and hung it on the tree. Despite the size, the little ornament did not merely disappear. Rather, it was framed, and as it turned slowly it sent tiny flashes of red and yellow onto the needles around it.
"Why an apple?" I asked.
"Something about it reminded me of you." Forbidden...
I looked at him curiously, searching for the rest of his thought, but he had wiped his mind clean and turned back to the tree.
"It is a beginning," he said.
We conceivably had forever, the two of us, endless long years, Christmases into infinity. "It's a good thing it's a large tree," I said, then laughed at his confused expression. "For all the Christmases ahead of us."
He laughed with me, his thoughts of joy and hope. I saw myself as he saw me, and I realised I had not smiled, or laughed, or taken such pleasure in anything so much since my change.
I might have blushed had I been human. "Did you know apples were my favourite fruit?" I said, to break the heavy silence that had fallen upon us. "I loved the way they would crunch when I bit into them, and my mouth would fill with the sweet juice—"
I was hit violently with his thoughts, his memories. I saw myself, human. I could smell the sickness, my own blood. In Carlisle's perfect memory of the moment, he held me and put his lips to my throat and bit down, his teeth broke through skin and muscle and his ears were filled with a sickening crunch and I heard it, I felt it and my mouth filled with the sweetest blood I ever tasted.
I stumbled back, clutching at my throat. It burned worse than it ever had, and though we'd hunted only the day before the thirst was stronger than it had ever been.
Carlisle grabbed me by the upper arms, holding me firmly. "I'm sorry," he said urgently. I couldn't help...so hard to control my thoughts... "I'm so sorry, Edward."
I took deep breaths, filling my lungs with the real scents in the room, fresh pine, wood smoke, Carlisle. I dropped my head to his chest, buried my face in his shirt and inhaled deeply. "How did you ever stop?" I gasped. "The taste... Oh, God, how did you stop?"
He held my head. "I had to stop. I couldn't bear it if I'd killed you." He continued to hold me as I slowly calmed, stroking my hair, kissing the crown of my head.
I relaxed into his comforting embrace, my head on his shoulder, my face turned toward his throat. My lips were a hair's breadth from his skin and I took the scent of Carlisle deep within me. I felt safe. I'd just experienced the method of my change into a damned creature at his hands, yet here in his arms I felt as if I belonged. "I'm glad you stopped," I whispered. "I'm glad you took me, that you saved me. I'm content to be what I am with you beside me."
A great rush of feeling filled Carlisle's mind. Joy and relief and strong affection. He inhaled, looking for my scent. The scent I had now. He savoured it, he loved it, he wanted it.
The intangible thing I hadn't grasped before in his mind was there.
Not for my blood—it was long gone. He revelled in the feeling of my body pressed so close to his, he shuddered as my breath ghosted over his skin, he craved the feeling of my lips that were so close.
I pressed my lips to his throat.
Carlisle gasped, at first stunned by my action, then elated by it. He pulled away and looked me in the eye.
We held each other close, our bodies flush from shoulder to knee, and it felt right. I drank in the sight of him, his eyes, still very light, his handsome face, and I found my gaze lingering on his mouth.
I licked my lips.
How long, I wondered, had I felt like this? This comfort with him, this need to have him touch and hold me? How had I not recognised it for what it was before? Why had I not recognised the same thing in his thoughts? Was I so naive?
All I knew now was I wished to feel his skin on my lips again, and I could have been echoing his thoughts with my own, because it was all he thought about.
I gazed at him in wonder, my eyes wide, my lips parted. I put my hand on the back of his neck and I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his.
His thoughts exploded with barely comprehensible words and images and concepts. Love, and desire, and my face the first time I ever smiled at him. My eyes were scarlet. Edward, he thought, I need... and I can't...too young...he doesn't understand...
It was an innocent kiss, yet everything was suddenly very clear. I moved my lips against his, kissing the corner of his mouth, his cheek, then I whispered to him, "I do now. Finally, I understand."
He shook his head. "You can't possibly know." For so long I've wanted to hold you like this...to touch you...
I gasped as an image came to me, a fantasy, he was kissing me passionately, pushing my unbuttoned shirt off my shoulders.
"I'm ashamed of myself for entertaining such thoughts—but you deserve to know." He unwrapped me from his arms and released me, going so far as to push me away.
"No." I shook my head. "No, Carlisle." I grabbed him, trying to pull him back to me. "I didn't see it before, I didn't know. But now I do and I want it. Please." I held him by the back of the neck and tried to kiss him again.
He turned his face away.
"Please," I implored. "Stop hiding your thoughts from me. Tell me what it is you want, how it is you feel. I cannot forever wonder what this might have been."
His fingers clenched in the back of my shirt, his brow furrowed as he squeezed his eyes shut tight. "I can't." He took my face in his hands and I thought he would kiss me hard—instead he pulled me to him and pressed his cheek to mine and wrapped his arms about my neck and breathed hard into my ear. "My God, Edward...I've wanted you for so long. It's not why I chose you, I swear...I didn't know you as I know you now. I grew to care for you far more than I ever thought possible...I came to feel a kind of love, a very strong kind of love for you and I cannot expect you to understand, you are too young. You are innocent. I can't..."
"Help me to understand."
"You should never have known—I believed I had control of my thoughts."
I dragged my lips across Carlisle's cheek, coming to a stop at the corner of his mouth. "If you do nothing else, Carlisle, just kiss me."
He moaned, a mournful sound of pain and self-denial. His body tensed; he pushed his fingers into my hair and clenched his fist. He seemed to sway without moving as his body and his mind warred against one another. Finally, with a shudder, he gave in.
He dragged his lips against mine and I opened my mouth to him and I tasted his venom and I moaned as I read his mind and the surrender and desire within swept me away and I was lost, carried with him as he let himself go.
I experienced something like it when we hunted, when he would bite into the throat of an animal, I would taste the blood and it would inflame my own thirst. Or so very recently when I saw the night of my change in his memories.
That is how it was when he finally unlocked the gates of his mind. I heard how he felt, how his need for companionship and his joy at having someone to share his life with became genuine affection for me, how it became love. How his appreciation of my beauty became a need to touch, and how that, with his growing affection, turned into lust.
I'd never felt true lust before, not on my own account, never through the minds of others, and I was overwhelmed by it even as I learned it.
I've wanted to kiss you for so long, he told me. I held it deep inside in fear it would drive you away. He pulled back and looked deep into my eyes. "Will you leave me?" His voice wavered.
"No." I tried to pull him back, I could not bear the loss of his lips on mine. "I want to be with you, please."
He swallowed. "Like this?" I have no right to ask it of him... Images flowed through his mind, fantasies, he undressing me, taking off my shirt, lowering his lips to my chest, sucking my nipple into his mouth as I threw back my head and moaned.
He wanted us to be lovers.
I pulled him to me, held his body close, spread my hands over his back. "Like this," I said. "I want us to be together like this." I kissed him again, as deeply as I dared, searching his mind for any indication I was clumsy or my inexperience was obvious, but all I found was his elation, his joy that the thing he most desired yet believed he would never have, was becoming.
He led me away from the tree and pulled me down onto the soft carpet in front of the fire. "I wish I shared your gift, Edward. I wish I could know your thoughts as you do mine. Tell me the truth. Would you have me control my thoughts of you? I'm afraid I will express some desire in my mind you carry out only to please me, yet regret later."
"Don't hide anything," I said. "I trust you completely; I want to know everything. I will share my feelings, my thoughts with you. I want us to have no secrets."
He held my hands and brought each of them in turn to his lips. "Thank you," he whispered. "May I kiss you?"
"Oh, please, Carlisle." I leaned toward him and he gathered me into his arms and he kissed me, and it was soft and slow and almost chaste, but I found I did not need his thoughts to fuel me. They were of wonder and the feeling of my lips and the taste of my tongue, but they were undemanding.
It was I who held him tighter, who moved closer, who explored his lips and teeth with my tongue. It was I who felt my erection straining against my trousers before I ever felt him hardening against my hip.
If I had ever wondered if a man would inflame my desire, here was my answer. I wanted his hands on my body, his naked skin on mine. I found myself gasping his name against his lips as I moved my hips slowly but with an urgency I could not control. He wanted to touch me, to slip his hand between our bodies, and I moaned at the thought of it. "Oh, God, Carlisle, please, yes."
"Soon." His lips fell to my throat and sucked and licked as his fingers worked swiftly at the buttons of my shirt. He pulled it from me and cast it aside, and I did the same for him.
I stared. I'd seen him shirtless before, had admired the smooth planes, the defined muscle beneath the perfect skin—but never had I looked at him this way. I wanted to touch him, and reached out and placed my palm in the centre of his chest. I slid it down, barely grazing his nipple with my fingertip.
He gasped and shook, and I looked up at his face. I'd never seen him look so out of control. He fought to regain it, and I dragged my thumb over his other nipple just to see how he would react.
He cried out and reached for me, pulling me into a kiss that was heated and intense. I let my hands fall to the waistband of his trousers, exploring.
Oh, yes, oh please, God forgive me...
I found the button and flicked it open.
Dear God, touch me, please...
I brushed my hand over the front of his open trousers. His cock strained against the fabric of his shorts and I traced the ridge around the head with my fingertip.
"Oh," he breathed, and inhaled sharply. I looked up into his eyes. They'd gone dark, as if he were thirsty. I pushed his trousers down over his hips and put my whole hand over his length and he groaned and kissed me again.
His thoughts were wordless, fragmented and fleeting and erratic, comprised of pure lust. It inspired the same kind of desire in me, drove me to pull down his shorts, expose his cock, wrap my fingers around it—to which he moaned and jerked his hips—but it also brought a question to mind.
"Do you love me?" I whispered against his throat. It was a plea out of a desperate need to be reassured, yet it came out sounding like a challenge.
He pressed his teeth into his lip, let out a tiny grunt and took my face in his hands. "I love you, Edward. I shouldn't allow this, yet I can't resist." He kissed me hard, his fingers moved swiftly to reduce me to the same state as he, my trousers fell around my knees and my shorts hung off my hips but he did not touch my cock. "I want you completely bare," he hissed, pushing me back so I had to take my hands from him and I half reclined, supporting myself on my hands. He dragged my garments off me and carelessly pushed them aside.
I watched as he removed his own trousers and shorts, and he and I were as naked as we could possibly be. He came toward me and covered me with his body and pushed me back onto the floor. I reached for him, wrapping my arms around his shoulders as he pressed his body to mine and kissed me.
I felt his cock against mine. It sent a shock through me and I thrust upward against him. I was achingly hard. "Carlisle," I cried, "please."
I saw the same need in his mind as he moved against me, as his hard length stroked mine, so I put my hands on his hips and guided him. "Please, yes, quickly...I need...oh, Carlisle, I have to—"
His lips were on mine and I could only moan into his mouth and grunt with each thrust of his hips.
He brought me to the edge of endurance and I ached and I cried out, my voice loud enough to hurt my ears. My entire body tensed and every fibre of me contracted and burst outward and I was everywhere, and the pure ecstasy in his mind fed my own and I thought it would never end.
We fell still. Sticky wetness coated my stomach. The only sounds were his breath and the crackle of the fire. The scent of fresh pine and venom filled the air. I glanced at the tree; the tiny apple turned slowly and winked at me in the firelight.
Carlisle lifted his head and looked down at me. "Edward," he whispered. "Are you...how are you?"
I searched his mind, and found only concern, fear he may have enticed me, seduced me, but no regret.
I smiled. "I am wonderful. Merry Christmas, Carlisle."
Relief flooded him, and he kissed me, his thoughts filled with love and anticipation. I shared his feelings, his excitement, both of us looking toward the eternity that lay ahead.
I watched the tiny apple slowly spin on the delicate gold thread held in my daughter's little fingers. Yellow light twinkled on the facets. "Who gave it to you?" she asked.
I took it from her and hung it on the tree. "It was Carlisle's first gift to me. It is the oldest of all the trinkets in the box."
"It's the one that began the tradition," Carlisle said. I felt his eyes on me. His thoughts flickered between the scene before him and that night so long ago. He cursed his own weakness, but he knew better than any of us that once we love, we can't let go.
Bella was fascinated. "Why an apple?"
"When I was human, they were my favourite." It was a half truth. No one need know he'd had no idea of my fondness for that fruit when he'd bought the gift. "I loved the way they crunched when I bit into them," I murmured, and my head spun with Carlisle's memories.