This fic was born out of the banner I made for the No Stress Love Fest that was held for Valentine's Day. It was worked off the prompt that Carlisle had a secret liaison before meeting Esme with a member of the Volturi, and this is my take on that.
Thanks to my lovely beta for this fic, lels2768, who looked over this for me.
As always, I own nothing beyond the plot. I hope you like it.
Down By The Lake
I breathed in deeply, enjoying the cleanliness of the fresh air and the unpolluted scents that hit me – the crisp sweetness of the bark on the trees, the tang of moisture from the lake that rose up into the sky, the bitter chill that swept off the tops of the mountains that surrounded me.
This was where I came when I craved peace and solitude, a place for me to gather my thoughts.
It was too easy to become lost in them back in Volterra.
Too easy to be seduced by the lifestyle of luxury that Aro offered me, so many temptations laid out before me – fresh human blood, companionship, physical intimacy. It was so much.
It was too much.
I couldn't accept any of it.
Instead, I found myself shunning the company of my learned friends more and more. We had come to an impasse with regards to our differing diets; the brothers could not convince me to partake of the blood of the innocent, and I could not convince them that there was another, more humane way.
So they continued to lure unsuspecting humans into the great hall, while I sequestered myself in my chambers, trying to block out the screams and please for mercy that echoed along the stone-walled corridors. Many nights I just couldn't take it anymore and walked out of the castle, seeking solitude and sanctuary in the great outdoors. This spot, a tranquil lake in the heart of the Italian countryside, surrounded by forests and mountains, was my refuge. I could hunt here, deer and other creatures – my small effort to save my soul.
I didn't think that I could stay here much longer.
It was refreshing to have companionship, to have beings of such intellect and innovation to speak with. It truly did make me feel less alone in this strange world I had found myself in. Their lack of conscience was beginning to get to me, however, no matter their sophistication. I knew that sooner, rather than later, I would have to make the decision to leave these new allies of mine and strike out on my own once more.
The brothers could sense my discontent and so it would come as no surprise to them if I parted from their company. I had already dropped several hints that I was interested in exploring the Americas and leaving Europe behind. They had picked up on my inferences with good grace; Aro seemed more upset that I would no longer be around for him to observe and study, than to feel any great loss for my company.
While I would miss being surrounded by others of my kind, I would not miss the lifestyle of these creatures or the cloistered atmosphere of the castle.
In fact, there was very little that I miss about my stay here.
As if to taunt me, the reprimanding voice inside my head that sounded so much like my late father whispered that there was much more that I would miss...even if to miss it, or even think about it, would be immoral.
I was a God-fearing man though; I knew the wrongness, the impurity, of my thoughts. I could not stop them though; the only thing I could do was pray for forgiveness and for the strength not to give into those thoughts. After all that I had resisted, it seemed inconceivable to me that such a slight girl could shake the very foundations of my religion and my morality.
As if she had heard the call of my thoughts, she appeared. Gliding barefooted through the bracken of the forest, she wove her way through the trees, a slow dance to rival any of the ancient woodland nymphs. I watched carefully as she approached, flashes of skin sparkled as the light fought its way through the canopy above. She reached me quickly and stood by my side, staring out over the glistening water of the lake. I kept my eyes on her, unable to take in the beauty of the landscape when there was such beauty before me.
Her lips curved up at the corners at my attention, strands of her long, unbound hair dancing around her face. My eyes slid downwards, registering that she was wearing a thin slip of some kind before I remembered my manners and jerked them back upwards to her face.
Her smile had spread now, laughing silently at my gauche behaviour.
"You can look, you know." Her voice was low and husky – inviting.
I swallowed a mouthful of venom, willing my body not to react. "It would be improper to," was the only answer I could give.
She shrugged, used to my reasons and way of thinking by now. This was not a new argument, yet it was an oft repeated one. Her hair swirled in front of her face once more and unthinking, I twirled the spun silk around my fingers before tucking it behind her ear.
She turned to face me then, her scarlet eyes burning into mine, as if she was trying to see into my soul.
"I think that's the first time you've touched me of your own volition," she commented softly.
I opened my mouth and then closed it again, unsure what to say. None of my father's sermons had ever contained instruction for what to say when confronted with a siren who had bewitched you. I had learnt nothing, short of the correct and proper manners, of how to act in the presence of women.
I lowered my hand, unsure if I had overstepped my boundaries.
Instead of her disgust though, I was greeted by her laughter. "You didn't have to stop."
If I could have blushed then I would have. "I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."
She watched me shrewdly. "I'd say it was you who was more uncomfortable, rather than me."
I remained silent. After a short while, she began to move away from me, her skirts trailing behind her as she headed towards the lake.
"This place is so peaceful."
"I like to come here to think," I volunteered. "Places like this remind me why I'm grateful to still be alive."
"It is beautiful," she agreed. "I can understand why you like it; it certainly is a good place to ruminate upon your thoughts."
I nodded, even though she had her back to me and could not see the action.
"You've been here every day this past month," she continued. "That's a great deal of thinking."
The wind off the lake swirled around us again, caressing her body and drawing her sweet scent towards me. She reminded of the wild, open land of my youth, before my father's profession had drawn us into the centre of London and away from the lush, ripeness of the meadows surrounding the city.
That was it. She reminded me of daisies.
Pure and simple, and yet oh so sweet.
She stood there at the foot of the water, her head tilted back, a small smile painted across her red lips, the wind sweeping around her; she looked like something out of a great artwork, as wild and primal as the setting.
I took a step closer to her and as I did, she spoke again. "You're leaving, aren't you?"
"Excuse me?" I was confused by where this subject had arisen from.
"Volterra. You're leaving us, going away?"
"Yes," I felt bad for admitting it. I had not realised that my presence would be so missed if I did. "I think it's for the best, given the differences in our lifestyles."
"Probably," she assented. She didn't sound happy though.
"I..." I stopped, and then tried again. "I will miss you when I'm gone."
"Really?" she laughed. "I would have thought you would be glad to get away from me, given that you avoid me whenever possible."
Shame washed over me. By trying to assuage my lust, I had given her the impression that I did not like her.
"You worry too much, Carlisle," she reassured me, turning from the lake and floating back across the ground towards me again. "I understand why you stayed away. You're a good man, a man of God, but even the most holy of men sometimes want what they should not."
She stopped, leaving no more than an inch between us. She was so close - close enough to touch, close enough that if I moved my face just the slightest bit forward, we would be close enough to...
She raised herself up onto her toes, just a fraction more and her lips would meet mine. I was trapped, caught in her web with no chance of escape.
"You don't have to try so hard all the time," she crooned, the stir of her breath flickering across my lips. "It's alright to give in occasionally. God will forgive you. I will forgive you."
I whispered her name then for the first time, having avoided speaking it before, as if not saying it would protect my embattled spirits from the warmth she offered. "Heidi."
She took it as assent, closing the small gap between us and pressing her lips to mine. I moaned pitifully at the sweet sensation, shocked that I had finally given in, shocked that I had resisted this indescribable feeling for so long. Her mouth gently coaxed mine into moving, brushing back and forth against the plump fullness of her mouth. We kissed, our lips the only part of our bodies touching, and I wanted more, so much more.
As if she could read my thoughts, Heidi broke the kiss. She didn't go far though, her nose brushed against mine as she whispered to me.
"It's alright to want me, Carlisle. I want you too. There's no harm in it. You can have me."
I tried to dredge up every lesson in forbearance the Anglican Church had taught me, but they vanished into the air at the feeling of Heidi slowly beginning to kiss up and down my neck. I clenched my fists, my eyes clamped shut, fighting against my body's reaction to her nearness.
It would be wrong, so wrong, for me to do this.
Yet as Heidi finally touched me, placing her hands on my shoulders for support and gently capturing my ear between her teeth, I could no longer remember the reasons why. I was one push away from giving in and letting the primal part inside me that I usually kept so tightly leashed loose.
"Let go, Carlisle."
And I snapped.
Grabbing her tiny waist, I pulled her towards me, revelling on the gasp of surprise she gave and capturing her lips with mine once more. She responded just as passionately, opening her mouth to allow me to plunder it with my tongue.
Her arms locked tightly around my neck, one hand teasing the hair at my nape, and adjusting my arms, I hitched her off the ground. My aim was merely to lift her to the same level as I was, but Heidi took it one step further and wrapped her legs around my waist, her skirts riding up her legs, so that her bare thighs were pressed against my hips.
I groaned into her mouth at that, and then groaned again when she used her leverage to rock her hips forward until her centre pressed against my aching groin.
Keeping one arm around her waist, the other slipped down, my hand tracing the outline of her hip and her thigh over the top of her ruched up skirt. She moaned and bucked against me again, one of her hands sliding down to begin to unpick the buttons of my waistcoat.
This clear indication of where things were heading temporarily halted my impassioned actions. Heidi merely laughed at my confusion expression though, unwrapping herself from around my body and sliding down the front of my body, reawakening my primal urges, until her feet reached the floor.
"Be calm, Carlisle. I'll take care of you." As if to prove her point her hands pushed my waistcoat over my shoulders where it slid down my arms and hit the ground.
I put up a token protest, only to be stopped by her fingers across my lips.
"Just trust me, Carlisle. Trust that I'll take care of every part of you." She drew her mouth across mine once more. "Trust that I know what's best for you." She smirked at me and then sharply drew my undershirt over my head. I hadn't even noticed her divesting me of the shirt that I wore.
I sucked in a quick breath as her nails trailed over the pale skin of my chest, stopping to tease my nipples before scratching lower. She never dropped her eyes from my own, not allowing me to watch the magic her fingers were working to tease my body into a state of complete arousal.
I threw my head back, moaning as her fingertips slid across my lower abdominal muscles and progressed downwards, brushing over the swollen length of my cock. I grunted her name as she cupped me, massaging my length through my clothes.
My hips thrust forward as she abruptly removed her hand and my head shot forward, pinning her in a heated glare.
"Why did you stop?" I choked out, inwardly wincing at how impolite I sounded, yet unable to stop the harshness in my voice.
Heidi suddenly leaned forward, sucking my bottom lip in between hers and then biting down sharply. I growled at the unexpected attack, pulling back out of the grasp of her teeth and gripping her upper arms tightly. I loved that I could tighten my grasp as much as I wanted and she wouldn't mind. I didn't need to be careful with her, just like she had just proved that she wouldn't be gentle with me.
Without warning I was flat on my back with Heidi straddling me, rocking against my engorged flesh. She tossed her head back, her hair streaming down her back, her body making small circles against my own, small whimpers being torn from her throat.
Her long, creamy neck was displayed in front of me and I wanted nothing more but to sink my teeth into that bare flesh, to mark her as mine. I wasn't sure how she would take that though, so instead my eyes moved lower, over the mounds of her breasts. The thin fabric of her gown left nothing to the imagination, and her hardened nipples stood out against the muslin of her bodice.
My hand slid up from their grasp on her waist, cupping her breasts and flicking my thumbs against her nipples. She let out a half-moan half-laugh and the pace of her hips' movement increased, the pressure against my cock growing. Swooping down, she pressed a harsh kiss against my mouth and then stood up. Above me, with the sun shining behind her, she looked like an angel, the glow of her skin showing her for the unworldly creature she was.
Taking hold of her skirts, she began to slide them up her legs, revealing first her bare ankles, then her calves and then her thighs.
I stopped breathing, the pretence of appearing human abandoning me as my senses struggled to take in what was being uncovered in front of me.
She wore no undergarments, and as her gown was hitched higher the soft triangle of hair at her apex came into view, followed quickly by the curve of her stomach and her rosy tints of her bare breasts. Her gown was tossed to one side, revealing her slender body to me in its entirety. Another growl rumbled through my chest and I found myself crouching on the balls of my feet, ready to leap upon her.
Any doubts I had held in my mind were now gone, vanished under the weight of her beauty and our lust.
She offered me a sly smile and a wink.
"Come and get me, Carlisle."
I heard the splash of the water as she dived into the lake, but I didn't stop to look where she was surfacing. Instead, all of my focus was on removing my trousers, undergarments and shoes as quickly as possible. A burst of shyness over my naked state had me sprinting into the lake, relying on the water to cover my body. Sinking underneath, I allowed the purity of the water to wash away any remaining doubts I had.
When I surfaced, Heidi was waiting for me, and she eagerly welcomed me into her arms, accepting my hungry kisses greedily.
When we broke apart we were both panting heavily, despite having no need for breath, and I rested my forehead against hers, nuzzling her cheek with my own.
"You have no reason to feel embarrassed," she murmured.
I froze at her quiet words; I hadn't realised that she had been watching me disrobe on the shore.
"Your body is a work of art," she continued, echoing my own thoughts about her earlier. "It is everything that any woman would dream of."
Those wandering fingers began to explore my torso again, only this time I reciprocated, mapping out the smooth expanse of her back, the sharp yet soft angles of her shoulder-blades, and the way her waist tapered down only to flare out at her hips and bottom. Her incredibly long legs wound their way around my waist once more, the buoyancy of the water allowing her to rest against me that way without support.
Without preamble, she reached down and grasped my cock firmly in her hand. "It's everything that I want."
"Heidi!" I let out a strangled yell as she began to slide her palm up and down my length.
I buried my face in her neck as she worked me over, placing open mouthed kisses over the skin within easy reach, trying to ignore the building pleasure that was threatening to rush over me and steal my sanity. Gathering all my strength, I stilled her hand, lifting it out of the water and running my lips over her palm.
"You're so beautiful," I declared passionately.
Her eyes widened slightly at the compliment, as if she had never expected anyone to say anything like that to her. As if she hadn't expected any kind behaviour from me.
"You are," I asserted. I smoothed her wet hair back from her face. "So very beautiful."
She stared at me for seconds more, and then attacked. Lunging at me, the force of her movement as she fought to capture my lips knocked me off my feet and sent us both underwater. Her mouth attacked my own, biting and licking and sucking, leaving the faint tingle of her venom behind.
She grasped my cock firmly again and I spat out the lake water that I had swallowed in shock as I struggled to get back to my feet. Heidi was too impatient for that though, and guiding my length against her soft folds, slick with her excitement, she impaled herself upon me.
I gasped loudly and we both froze in our position. While I felt shocked by the sensations of this first experience of intimacy, a part of me, the part that my father would have whipped and beaten into submission, revelled in the feeling of having a woman surrounding me. Of all the things I had imagined, all the times I had been told that this was a dirty, but necessary activity in order to father children, I had never expected it to feel so good.
Shifting her hips slightly, Heidi used her grip on my shoulders to raise herself up slowly. I whimpered as her warmth left me and she moaned in response, letting her body sink down once more. Finally regaining my footing at the bottom of the lake, I gripped her waist and took over control of the movement, gradually picking up the pace of our joining. Heidi's hands released my shoulders from their tight grasp, skimming frantically over my hair, my face and my chest. Each swipe of her fingers further ignited my fervour. I raised my head to kiss her as we moved, devouring the taste of her lips as she rocked against me.
My father had been right about many things, but not about this.
This wasn't a sin. It couldn't be. It felt too good, too right, for it to be anything else but a blessing. And I thanked God that he had sent Heidi to me to show me the way. I had to let her know – how much I appreciated her, how much I respected her, how much I loved her in that moment.
"Heidi," I gasped. "I...thank you...thank you so much..."
She laughed, a deep throaty laugh that sent chills up my spine. "You don't have to thank me, Carlisle." Her breath hitched suddenly and I let a small satisfied smile creep onto my face at her expression of pleasure. "Trust me," she whispered. "It's all my pleasure." She laughed again, but this time whined in the back of her throat as her movements became more frantic.
I had to make her understand though. Slowing our rhythm, I held her even more tightly, halting any motion between us. She gazed at me curiously in response.
"No, I mean, thank you, Heidi." I inwardly cursed at my inability to properly explain myself. "I know that you don't understand just how special this is to me, for you to show me... But it is important and it is special and thank you for showing me just how things could be...For showing me that not everything is harsh and unforgiving, that life can have warmth and satisfaction and that it's not wrong. Just...thank you."
She searched my face for a moment before the corners of her lips quirked upwards. She leaned forward and kissed me delicately before pulling back and burying her face in the crook of my neck.
I felt, rather than heard, her whisper against my skin. "Thank you too, Carlisle."
My grip on her loosened slightly in surprise and she took advantage by thrusting forward so I was seated deep within her once more. I took the hint and we began to rock together, our movements stirring the water around us creating ripples that surrounded our bodies.
Heidi threw her head back, her eyes closing and her chest heaving as the jerks of her hips became more uneven. My own thrusts were becoming shaky as the strangest sensations began to assault my body. Heidi's hands contracted almost painfully around my shoulders and I shuddered in pleasure at the brutality of it.
Her whimpers spurred me on until I was practically pummelling into her body. The venom in my mouth increased as my arousal reached a fever pitch and I swallowed it back as I fought the urge to sink my teeth into the creamy flesh in front of me.
Heidi was chanting my name now as she pushed towards some unknown climax, our bodies now slamming together in earnest.
Suddenly she stilled, her body shaking and a strangled moan erupting from her throat. Her warmth began to flutter around my cock and I felt a strange urgency begin to build up inside me, quickening the thrusts of my hips.
Heidi seemed to come back to herself in that moment, panting as she wrapped her upper body around me, her arms cradling my head to her. When she spoke there was an almost joyful lilt to her voice, as if she was struggling not to laugh with abandon.
"You can bite if you want to. I don't mind."
I was too far gone for any resistance now and as body reached the highest stage of ecstasy and released, I buried my teeth into her breast.
She cried out in triumph as I did, her throaty laugh mixing with my growl of completion. This feeling... This lightness...
I could understand now why men lowered themselves from the presence of God just to feel this again and again.
It was incredible. It was revelatory. It was addictive.
In that moment, I could quite happily remain here in this lake, buried deep within my lover, at this height of pleasure forever.
We continued to hold each other closely as our ardour cooled and I slipped from her body. The physical loss of her sent a stab of pain running through my chest, but as reality set in I knew I couldn't falter from my path.
As if she had read my mind, Heidi stirred. "We should head back to shore and get dressed. The sun has set and you'll want to begin travelling before it rises again."
I looked around in wonder. For the first time in this new life of mine, I had failed to notice the onset of night – a sign perhaps of how enamoured I was towards my companion.
A companion who I now realised I was very loath to leave behind.
"I don't have to leave," I offered falteringly.
Heidi pulled away from me, a sad smile upon face as she turned and swam towards the shore. I followed her, no longer caring about my nudity as we stepped upon the earth once more.
"You can't stay here, Carlisle." She spun to face me with an impassioned plea. "You need to leave Volterra. This place is killing you, drowning you in its depravity. I've seen the expression on your face when the humans are brought in for feeding."
I looked away, ashamed that she could read my thoughts so well.
"You need to go as soon as you can, for your soul's sake if nothing else."
She took a step back but I rushed to stop her, clasping her hand to my chest. "Then you can come with me. I'm sure the brothers would agree to it if they knew you wanted to leave," I pleaded.
From the look on her face though, I knew my bargaining with her was in vain.
No longer retreating from me, Heidi stepped forward, her free hand rising up to cup my jaw, her thumb stroking gently over my cheek. And I saw the refusal in her eyes.
"Carlisle, you can't stay here with me. This life isn't for you. You know it, I know it and even Aro knows it, although he will never admit it. This place would stifle you, trap you. You're meant for better things than just becoming a member of the guard. I've seen your interest in the world, in people, and I know that you want to help them...it's just the kind of man you are. A good man."
I couldn't help the small edge of bitterness that crept into my tone. "Apparently not good enough."
Heidi flinched as if I had struck her, her eyes wide with hurt, and I immediately regretted my careless words.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean that." I tried to apologise.
"I know you didn't," she reassured me, but her mouth tremored as she spoke.
I pulled her into a hug, my chin coming to rest over the crown of her head as we embraced.
"I really am sorry."
"I know you are," she whispered. "But this is why you need to go. You need to find your own way, a better way, than what you could have here."
"But you won't come with me," I mourned.
Heidi snuffled into my chest. "I've never tried your diet, Carlisle," she began. "I've never wanted to. Feeding from humans is all I've ever known. And if... If I came with you, I would try to be good. I would try to be as good as you are and not harm anyone, but I don't think I could do it. I don't think I could swear to you that I would never feed on humans and keep that promise. I wouldn't want to make it and then see the look on your face when you realise that I've failed you."
"I wouldn't think..."
"Yes, you would." Her voice was strong this time, determined. Pressing a hard kiss over my heart, she stepped back and I was forced to let her go. "You wouldn't mean to judge, you wouldn't want to, but you would...eventually anyway."
I wanted to refute her words, wanted to tell her so badly that it would all turn out right in the end, but I couldn't. I refused to lie to her.
She crossed over to where she had left her shift and began pulling it over her head. Following her example, I began to redress as well. When we were both fully clothed, we stared at each other.
Eventually, Heidi rolled her eyes and walked forward to gift me with one last bittersweet kiss.
"Go to the Americas, Carlisle. Find what you're meant to be doing here in this life. Find some peace in your soul." The last words were almost lost to the wind. "Find someone who loves you without compromise."
I nodded solemnly, not wanting to go, but understanding the hopelessness of our situation.
"I will never forget you," I vowed.
She laughed again, this time a genuine sound of delight that made me smile in response. "I made you a man, Carlisle Cullen. Of course you won't forget me."
Her obvious pride in that statement made me grin.
"Now go, otherwise the morning will catch up with you and you'll be forced into hiding."
The finality of her words let me know that would be the final time that I saw her.
"Be safe, Heidi."
She nodded and lifted her hand in farewell. "Be safe and be happy, Carlisle."
She turned back towards the forest and I watched her retreat before turning towards my own path, towards the mountains. I ran, faster than I had ever run before, Heidi's words chasing me all the way.
Something made me stop and turn though once I reached the top of one incline.
She stood there by the lake, the wind buffeting her lithe figure, her hair swirling around her face. I nodded – one last gesture.
She raised her hand and pressed her fingers to her lips, those divine lips that I had supped from just hours earlier. As I watched she blew me a kiss, and though there were miles between us, I almost felt it press against my own mouth.
I blinked, and she was gone. The lake and its beach were deserted once more, and I was left with nothing but the memory of a kiss to remind me that it had all been real.