For those of you who have read Their Lives and Love, this could be considered somewhat of an outtake. For those of you who haven't, don't worry, it makes sense as a stand-alone story. The only context you need to know is that Esme had a autistic sister called Grace whose name she used while in hiding in Ashland.
Even now, after nearly two years of it, I still enjoyed the silence that being home alone in our house, tucked away in the woods far away from the outskirts of Ashland, could provide after the noisy ramble of thoughts I'd suffered through upon awaking as a vampire in Chicago. Carlisle was working the night shift at the hospital and I was left to amuse myself.
The only problem was that after a few hours of it, I found myself bored. There was only so long books and music could keep you entertained, especially when you had the brain capacity that vampires did.
How Carlisle had managed through all those years of solitude I still struggled to understand.
As strange as the thought would have seemed to me a few years ago, I genuinely did enjoy spending time with Carlisle. Despite the line we had crossed last year with my garbled words about how adopted children could love their new parents as well as their old - that had been an impulsive decision I sometimes regretted. Overall, I still regarded myself as some mixture of companion and son, though I knew Carlisle now liked to view himself as my father. But to me the lines still seemed blurred – if we were now father and son, then what happened next? What façade would we put up next time we moved? Would I still be his dead wife's brother? Or would we be what Carlisle so badly wanted us to be – father and son? I couldn't see how we could incorporate that into the charade.
Unless Carlisle decided to try and claim he fathered a child at six years old. I snorted out loud as that random thought passed through my mind.
We were hardly your typical nuclear family - and not just because we were vampires.
Some times I couldn't help but doubt if I had been too forthcoming with my allowance of letting Carlisle take the role of my father. However, there was no denying that we got along now and I did, in fact, look up to him like you would a father-figure.
But he was still not the man who had raised me. He was not the man I spent my childhood wishing to grow up like.
I sighed out loud. All in all, it was a complicated situation. All I knew was that I was happy at the moment to be Carlisle's companion – a coven of the two of us.
But what Carlisle wanted more than anything in the world – though he never thought it directly I could still tell – was a family.
~o~ ~O~ ~o~
I was working on my assignment for college when I heard Carlisle's familiar thought patterns, it was much earlier than I had expected him home.
His thoughts instantly caught my attention. They were garbled and kept flashing through his mind quickly. I managed to make out the image of a girl sat in a hospital bed with a broken leg. Something such as that should have just been mundane work-related thoughts, but Carlisle was excited, exhilarated.
She's going to make it. The relief in his thoughts was over-whelming, but it still made little sense to me. His thoughts kept jumping around. Something about a woman. Hoping she would be OK, that she would accept things. In his mind, I saw once more the girl with a broken leg, except she was now a bruised and battered woman lying dead on a morgue drawer. But she was not dead after all – she had a heartbeat and Carlisle's heart soared when he heard it.
Insatiably curious, I rushed out the door just as Carlisle arrived outside.
"Carlisle? What's going on? Your thoughts are all…" I trailed off as I noticed he was holding the woman from his thoughts tightly in his arms. She was thrashing around and twitching in pain. She moaned slightly from the pain - it was such a pathetic sound I couldn't help but pity her. Her thoughts were so weak I could barely register them – they were disturbingly quiet compared to Carlisle's, whose seemed louder than usual due to his emotional state.
But quiet as they were, I could still recognize what she was thinking about. She thought she was on fire as a torturous pain spread through her body. It was an experience I recognized all too well.
But surely Carlisle hadn't? He couldn't? Not again?
"What did you do?" I asked incredulously.
She was dying, Edward. I couldn't just leave her. I could hear the plea in Carlisle's thoughts, begging me to understand. I simply couldn't.
How dare he! What on Earth does he think he is doing?
How often had he thought back to my own transformation with guilt and vowed he could never put anyone through that again. He had his companion now, he told himself, there would be no need to transform anyone else. It would be selfish. I had respected him for that decision. And he had gone and totally ignored it.
"I have to go to school now," I announced coldly before heading back into the house.
As I gathered my things I listened in very closely to Carlisle's thoughts, trying to see what had caused this colossal lapse of judgement. One we would all pay for. No one more than the poor woman he had picked as his pitiful victim.
I remembered all too well the torture of my newborn year. Now the woman, whoever she was, would have to suffer through that as well.
Unless she chooses to leave us and live traditionally, of course.
Carlisle had laid her down on his bed, taking the utmost care as if she was a fragile china doll. In a way she almost was. Her body was broken. Broken beyond repair to normal eyes.
Unless one has an over zealous vampire doctor! I couldn't help the sarcasm and disgust in my thought. What the hell did Carlisle think he was playing at? I kept asking myself that, kept probing his thoughts for an answer, but none was forthcoming. All he was thinking about was her heartbeat and the sound of her cries. How her heartbeat was louder and her cries stronger. How this meant the venom was healing her body and that meant she would be able to survive.
Her thoughts were slowly getting louder as her broken body mended. Her mental screams were becoming deafening and I had no choice but to flee the house.
~o~ ~O~ ~o~
I was barely concentrating as I sat through my lesson. Luckily, it was a revision lesson. Usually these annoyed me senseless, there's nothing more annoying than being forced to listen again to something you can already remember perfectly. But today I was thankful I did not need to concentrate. My mind was too busy thinking about the scene that awaited me when I arrived home. The woman, Grace, would be suffering through the full fires of transformation by now. I had to resist the urge to shudder at the thought – my own transformation was still all too fresh in my mind. Even without the perfect recall memory, it was an experience I would never forget.
For the umpteenth time, I wondered why Carlisle was doing this to her.
I was even more livid now I had learned how she had come to be in the hospital's morgue.
In a small town like Ashland, it doesn't take long for gossip to spread. All it took was the walk through town to the college for me to gather the full story from the minds of the town people.
Grace Platt had lost everything. Her husband to the war and – not twenty four hours previously – her baby to the perils of infant mortality. Having lost so much, it did not surprise the people of Ashland that she had chosen a dramatic end to her own life. A perilous fling from a cliff edge.
Grace had wanted nothing more than to die, and for good reason, and instead Carlisle had chose to tie her to this world for eternity.
Surely, he couldn't have known. If he had known she had committed suicide he would never have chosen to change her. It made no sense to do so.
But the question still remained – why? She was just one of the many corpses Carlisle has seen in various morgues. Why choose to change her? Was it simply because her heart was still beating? Did Carlisle see a slice of hope among the dead and decide to act upon it? Was this all some impulsive enactment of his desire to help, to do everything he could?
But he had seen so many people die. So many patients who had appeared to be making a miraculous recovery and had then failed. He had not stepped in to save them.
So why had he decided that – out of thousands of dying patients – Grace Platt deserved saving?
Had someone begged him to save her and he had cracked, just like with my mother? It seemed the only plausible explanation and yet there had been no trace of it within his thoughts. What there had been was much more confusing. He wanted this woman to change. That seemed the only influence over his decision. But, yet again, why? He did not know her. Had never thought of her before today. Why the sudden urge to want this woman he did not even know?
Or maybe he had known her. After all, he had a memory of her as a girl. How was that possible? It was from before we came to Ashland I was sure. Perhaps even before he came to Chicago.
"Class is over, Mr. Masen."
I had been so distracted by my own thoughts that I hadn't been paying attention to everyone else's. I was getting better at that, pushing other people's thoughts to the back of my mind. Sometimes, like today, when I was preoccupied, I was almost too good.
I give an apologetic smile at my teacher, and, careful not to do so too fast, I gathered my books and pens into my bags and left the classroom.
As usual, I walked over to look out the first window down the corridor. The cloud cover was quite thick at the moment, I should be perfectly able to get home without risking exposure.
I continued on my way to the exit of the college at a leisurely human pace, I had no real desire to head home. I would no doubt end up in some form of confrontation with Carlisle and I had no real desire to share Grace's thoughts as she transformed.
As I walked through town I listened carefully for any mention of Grace, or us, as usual. But, aside from learning that Carlisle had supposedly sent Grace's body to a medical school, I learned nothing new.
When I reached the lane that led to our secluded farmhouse there were no humans in the vicinity, so I veered off into the woods, where I could run home without the risk of being spotted. This close to home there was no point dawdling anymore. May as well get home and get things over with.
I knew it was vindictive of me, but a part of me wanted to see and hear Carlisle's shock when he learned what he had done. Maybe then he would understand the stupidity and irresponsibility of his actions.
I could hear Carlisle praying as I arrived near the house. Praying that she would forgive him. So he wasn't without some knowledge of the side effects of his selfish actions. Maybe he did learn something from my reaction to my change after all.
Grace's thoughts were still fairly incoherent as she suffered through the fires. But from the snatches I got I understood that she thought she was in Hell. It was a logical conclusion – one I had considered myself very briefly. It made even more sense in her case, she had taken her own life. To Christians that was a sin – one that locked you out of the kingdom of Heaven.
Once inside the house, I went straight up to Carlisle's bedroom. Grace was thrashing around on his bed wildly but it was her thoughts that caught my attention
Her only real concern with being trapped in Hell for eternity was that she would never see her son, William, again.
She would learn in a few days this wasn't Hell, but nothing could ever change the fact that she would indeed never see William again. Just like I would never see my family again.
Anger flared up in me once more. What right did Carlisle have to deny either of us a peaceful death?
"Isn't your hospital shift soon?" I asked frostily.
"Would you be able to go the hospital, please, and tell them I've fallen ill and will be unable to come in for a while?"
As he said this I noticed he was clutching Grace's hand in his. He had tightened his grip when I had mentioned that he had to leave.
I can't leave her here, Edward. He was pleading again. Pleading for me to understand. What I was suppose to be understanding I didn't know. None of this made sense. Carlisle's usually calm and organized mind was still a jumbled mess. Even he didn't understand so how he expected me to I didn't know.
As I turned to leave, I gave an over-exaggerated sigh, to make my annoyance at being sent on errands - so that he could stay and clutch the hand of a transforming suicidal woman who would no doubt hate him passionately in two days time - very clear to my creator.
But I paused in the doorway, unable to stop myself.
"The entire town is talking about the poor war widow who lost her baby and jumped of a cliff. Did you know that?" I spat at him angrily.
She lost her baby? Is that why she jumped? So he had known. He had known she had killed herself and he had still chosen to change her without a thought about why she had done so.
"You didn't know, did you? You changed her, but you don't know anything about her. She wanted to die! She still does. So why? Why would you change her? What possible reason could you have for doing this? You know nothing about her!" I ranted at him, my anger finally overflowing.
"Her name's Grace Platt by the way, since you probably don't even know that," I added bitterly.
"No," he said gently. "Her name's Esme. Grace is her sister," he told me confidentially. I looked at him questioningly.
Once more I saw Grace (or Esme even) as a teenager with a broken leg. I watched as the two of them talked about how she had fallen from a tree, how she had been hiding up there with her sister, and then she reluctantly admitted that her sister was 'different'. Carlisle noted the way she spoke of her sister with such love and it touched his own heart.
"You've never shown me this before," I stated accusingly.
Carlisle could not deny this – he had done it on purpose. He was not proud of how he had acted afterwards. How much she had affected him. How, starved for company, he had desperately wanted to share hers once more. But, despite all that, he had left and forced himself to promise himself not to dwell on her.
"Clearly, that turned out well," I remarked sarcastically. "I suppose I should go tell the hospital you won't be going." With that last line I took my leave – it was growing increasingly hard to ignore Grace- Esme's internal screams.
I walked distractively at a human pace, heading down the lane back into town without any real plan.
I now had my answer to the question of why Carlisle had chosen to change a random suicidal woman. To him, she wasn't random.
However, this only infuriated me more. If I sometimes –when I was in temper with him– thought he had been selfish for changing me, it was nothing compared to the selfishness of his actions now. A woman who wanted to join her baby in death and he had kept her around for his own selfish desire.
All Carlisle's affection for Esme Platt meant was that it was going to hurt him even more when it turned out she now despised him.
I almost felt pity for him until I reminded myself he had brought this on himself.
I had reached the outskirts of Ashland by now. Less people were thinking about 'Grace' now, as a topic of gossip she had been extinguished. Everyone had been informed of her jump and there was no need to gossip over why she had felt the need to do so – it was obvious.
A woman a couple of streets away was thinking about how she had to box 'Grace's' things up to take them to charity. There was nothing I could do to stop Esme's transformation, but I may as well attempt to help her. After all, she was the victim here.
I purposefully arrived outside the house just as the two women were leaving.
"Good evening, Mrs. Williamson, Mrs. Taylor," I greeted them kindly.
"Oh, hello, Edward," said Mrs. Williamson. She nodded to the boxes on the floor, containing Esme's few meagre possessions. "I suppose you've heard the news about Mrs. Platt." In her mind she was thinking about 'Grace', how impatient and excited she had been for the birth of her child, and what it was a tragedy it was that it worked out like this.
"Yes," I replied solemnly. "Carlisle saw them bring her body into the morgue."
"Such a waste," she muttered to herself with a shake of her head. I was taken back by how genuinely upset she appeared to be over Esme's death.
"She was a nice lady," Mrs. Williamson's daughter said from behind her mother's skirt. She was thinking about how Mrs. Platt had always been nice to her, even when she got the question wrong, unlike the horribly strict teacher they'd had before her.
"She was," Mrs. Taylor agreed. "Our Harry started to actually enjoy school after she took over."
That was one thing I'd noticed, though a few people thought the circumstances she had arrived in were a bit suspicious, no-one in Ashland who had known her seemed to have a bad word to say or think about Esme.
"Well," Mrs. Williamson said with a sigh, "I suppose we best take these clothes over to the charity shop."
"I could take them if you liked," I offered, with a kind smile. "I'm heading over to the college library anyway and would walk straight past."
"Thank you, Edward, that's very kind of you," Mrs. Williamson replied with a weak smile.
"It's not a problem," I reassured her as I easily picked up both boxes. "I suppose I best be going."
I left both women thinking about what a sweet little young man I was.
Carlisle looked questioningly at the boxes when I arrived home. I had to take them into his room to show him, as he had not moved from the exact same spot where I had left him, still clutching Esme's hand as though clinging on for dear life.
"Her neighbors were clearing her things out to give to charity. I offered to take them," I explained. "I'm quite the sweet little young man, apparently," I added dryly.
Thank you, Edward. I know you don't approve of what I've done, but I'm proud of you for rising above that to help.
"You're right, I don't approve. But that's not going to stop me from helping her." Carlisle did not miss the intended emphasis on the last word. I looked over at Esme, her thoughts were more or less the same as when I had left – that she was in Hell and the fires were her punishment for taking her own life. I had no idea if she would prefer the truth or not – all she wanted was to be reunited with her son. But she was never entering Heaven, surely this life would be just as bad as Hell for her.
Carlisle noticed then that Esme's human scent lingered on the clothes in the boxes in my hands. I had noticed this as well but it was nothing too concerning. I was surprised therefore when I felt Carlisle's throat burn painfully from it, worse than I had ever seen him before. Esme's scent was a lot more potent to him than it was me. I resisted the urge to cringe as he thought about the taste of her blood as he changed her, it was making my throat burn as well at the thought.
"Go hunt, Carlisle, I'll watch her," I offered.
"No. I'll be fine," Carlisle replied instantly, mentally recoiling from the idea of leaving her side. "We can all go hunt together once she has woken up. Do you think you can go place those in the spare bedroom please?"
I huffed to show my annoyance at his stubbornness – now I would have to suffer through as he did – before leaving the room and dumping the boxes in the spare room.
Annoyed once more, I headed to my piano, hoping it would calm me as usual. Unfortunately, the music was not enough to drown out the thoughts from next door. I wasn't sure whose I wanted to block out more, Carlisle's or Esme's, though for entirely different reasons.
I cringed when I heard Carlisle think that his son was playing the keys with too much force. I had definitely been too forthcoming with my decision a year ago.
Carlisle was not my father. He was just a selfish man who made others suffer alongside him.
He was now re-thinking my last words.
Does he see Esme as just another victim of my selfishness like him?
Yes, I do, Carlisle. I was pressing the piano keys too hard now, I forced myself to calm down slightly before I broke something.
He has every right to be angry. I've stopped her from joining her husband and son, just like I stopped him from joining his parents. I am lucky he ever forgive me, truly I don't think he has, despite all the improvements in our relationship in the last year.
So he was finally catching on to the selfishness of his actions then.
At least he has stayed. Will she hate me enough to leave? Could I face it if she chose to leave? But I can't force her to stay. It would be her choice, of course.
I resisted the temptation to laugh bitterly at that. He was trying to tell himself it was her choice while desperately hoping she would stay. It was pathetic. More so because the idea of her choosing to stay was ridiculous. At least I knew he had changed me because he thought my life had been taken from me too early – I could forgive him for that. Begrudgingly, but I could. But how could a suicidal woman ever forgive him? She had wanted to die – wanted it more than anything in the world. She had chosen to die and he had taken that choice away from her.
There was nothing either of us could do now but wait. Wait and see how she reacted when she woke up. And so that was what we did. For three days Carlisle remained unmovable at his spot by her bedside, while I attempted to go about my normal life as much as possible.
It was the afternoon of the third day, when I had been attempting to do some homework to no avail thanks to the loudness of the thoughts in the room beside mine, that I heard Esme's heartbeat sped up rapidly. She had been thinking for the last hour how the pain seemed to be receding and wondering what it meant. She would find out soon enough.
Edward, her transformation is nearly complete.
I joined Carlisle at her bedside and we both listened as her heartbeat became impossibly fast and then, with one final thump, stopped.
Carlisle was anxious about her reaction, as he should have been.
Will she hate me? Will she wish I had left her to die like she had intended to?
Her eyelids fluttered open, revealing vivid red eyes. She sat up in one fluid movement and her eyes locked on Carlisle. Her brow furrowed in confusion.
"Dr… Dr Cullen?" she murmured, staring unbelievingly at him.
Relief flooded her every thought. She thought Carlisle was an angel. An angel come to save her at last.
Carlisle was dazed that she remembered him. I was too. This was not an normal reaction to seeing the doctor who treated your broken leg a decade ago.
She was shocked. Shocked and unbelieving, but happy. Overly happy.
It appeared Carlisle had affected her as badly as she had affected him.
One thing was certain – Esme Platt would not be going anywhere.
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