A/N: Hello again, I'm Autumn.
Summary: One moment in the past intertwined Carlisle and Bella, unbeknownst to them. Decades, death and immortal life has kept them separated but when The Cullens witness something sinister deep in the forest, fate is set in motion and Bella and Carlisle are set on the long twisted, bloody and dangerous path to each other. AU. Mostly canon couples. This fic is rated for violence, revenge, language and sex.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but this plot. Twilight and it's characters belong to SM.
"The solemn hour before sunset, a protecting cloak for evil men and deeds of darkness."
-Lorna Doone, 1922
Grey dense fog slithered across the labyrinth of crippled trees and snow thick on the ground. Around us, it fell from dark clouds in innocent flakes, blanketing sins and destruction with placid deception. A painfully sweet aroma hung in the bitter cold air, the pyres long since burned to cinder. Nature was deathly silent. Not the hum of wind, a hoot of owl, or the mournful bay of a lonely wolf stirred. She was indifferent, accustomed to the evils passing under her watch. The Cold Moon's Cheshire smile faded as dawn approached, taking the stars with her. By morning, all proof would be gone, forgotten, lost.
Tethered to a thick tree, I struggled to stand, powerless and bleeding freely from pin wounds. Blood and tears streaked my face and neck, joining the crimson rivulets along the curves of my body, staining what was left of my shirt. I was weakening; breathing was nearly impossible - my limbs frozen and numb with pain, my fingers raw, back scraped from where the rough bark dug into me. Reality slipped in and out of focus under our captors' watchful gaze. The future raced ahead of me in a misty web of events I could not follow, no matter how hard I tried.
Was this what death felt like?
I barely had the strength to plead forgiveness, but if I was dying, it felt right to ask for forgiveness.
Whether Carlisle heard me in his grief or not, he gave no response, but kept his attention fixed on the ashes of his family - dove grey remnants of them on the snowy canvas. Venomous tears that would never run pooled in his black, unblinking eyes. The face I knew better than my own was set like stone, carved in eternal anguish.
He did not move.
He did not speak.
He did not acknowledge me.
It was torture, worse than what I had endured already—perhaps this was death.
"P-please," I sobbed, my shattered voice ringing in the stillness. I thought of them, of the family I had lost and would never see - the family he watched burn. His pain was mine, and mine was his.
"I'm sorry…forgive me, Carlisle."
At the sound of his name, something within him flicked to life, something small and hopeful, before fading away like a curl of smoke, but he did not move from his prone state. His mind was chaotic, a Babel of thoughts and emotion.
"I'm so sorry…I never meant for this...I never wanted this for you…any of you."
From a gaggle of hunters, a hard hand whipped out from the darkness and slapped me across the cheek, ordering silence. I tasted blood, but defiantly rebelled against the order, spiting in the minion's face and spewing every curse I knew. I cursed him, his mother, his father in hell or where ever they were, his master, his kind, and every wretched soul that helped him along the way. He didn't care for curses - what devil would? His fiendish eyes gleamed, and a hungry smile curled his lips as his thoughts ran wild, knowing I could hear them, see them, feel them.
"If it were up to me," he spat, twisting my lose hair around his fist and yanking back, forcing me to meet his eyes, "you'd burn along with him."
"Go to hell, you evil bastard."
The force of his thoughts, the pleasure he'd take from the murder he'd soon commit, raged to a new level, paying specific attention to the searing heat. This is familiar to you, isn't it? The others, who stood gathered, poised to obey, whispered in inaudible mummers, guarding their minds, joined in, unleashing the hell planned for Carlisle.
Death wasn't coming for me…
"Run, Carlisle…run!" I sagged against the pain, my heart beating frantically in my chest. It couldn't end this way! It wasn't supposed to end this way! "Run, Carlisle…please. Go…Carlisle!"
They came forward, brutally dragging him from his vigil. He didn't fight. His soul too wounded, bleeding. His heart, long silent, could find no hope after decades of noble perseverance - only misery. He faced me with vacant eyes and waited for certain death. It was too familiar, too reminiscent of the past. The onslaught of his agony came in never-ending waves, pulling me under the sea of his emotions, drowning me.
I begged him to fight, but he was lost to me, unreachable.
At the edge of my mind, I felt joy, intruding foreign and almost euphoric joy, that was not my own. They took morbid pleasure in our suffering, laughing at the lives they had taken from him, from me.
Rage and fury rose within my bones, ran hot in my veins, smothering all intruding emotions. The ropes bit at my wrists, cutting my skin as I struggled and thrashed. "Touch him, and I will kill every last one of you. I will make you pay!" Tears ran hot down my face as I screamed. "Kill me, not him!"
"I think not, my dear," said the cool, thin voice abruptly at my side."This is—" The sight of me surprised him and stole the words from his ruby lips. Sharp eyes ran over my broken pale skin filled with lament - not for me, but for the blatant disregard of his authority.
"Who did this? Who drew her blood?" His command was so dark with anger, that no one dared speak. "Who disobeyed me? WHO?"
The silence was nearly deafening - they all were to blame.
In a rush of movement, their scapegoat - a tall man with long blond hair - was thrust from the group. He looked petrified; his deep boisterous voice quivered as he tried to explain. Before he could utter four words, his head was swiftly ripped from his body. His shriek of terror mingled with the grinding sound of his demise. A sardonic smile twisted my lips as I watched the broken pile of ivory limbs blaze. His fellow hunters stood in disbelief and fear.
Ironic, isn't it for murders to be so terrified at the sight of murder?
"A good solider is so hard to find these days, Isabella." Trailing an icy finger down my sternum, he leaned in closer, his rank, decaying breath wafting up my nose. "Now, where was I? Oh, right…This is long overdue for Dr. Cullen and his coven. Had he involved himself less in the affairs of…others, and more in those of his own kind, he might have spared his coven as well as himself."
"Family," I corrected angrily.
"Family? Family, she says." He laughed. "Silly child…there is no such thing among our kind, surely you know that."
His thoughts flowed through me like ice over my spine. I saw that he truly believed that. He showed centuries of planning, of scheming and fucking, of creating ties to meet ends, murdering. One gruesome vision after the next, infecting me with his dark soul. I could not bear it, not after the purity of Carlisle's heart. I fought against the poison, forcefully driving out his vile mind. He staggered back as if pushed, his white face distorted with a mixture of astonishment and triumph, but beneath lay anger.
"Get…the hell …away from me!"
"Ah, here I was afraid we had made a terrible mistake. How extraordinary! You are everything we hoped you would be, and so much more. So wild, beautiful, and the power I feel coming from you. Yes, you will do nicely—once we've," he took a deep breath, trailing his hocked nose along my exposed neck, "broken you in."
I recoiled, sinking into the rough bark as much as I could, letting losing a string of profanities. He regarded me for a moment with naked curiosity before facing his men.
"Step aside, so that Isabella can have a clear view."
"No! Kill me!" The words ran together in constant plea for his life. Mine for his - I would sacrifice anything. "Kill me, not him! Carlisle…please, no! Kill me!"
The veil over Carlisle's thoughts lifted away, and he called out to me with desperation I had never heard from him. His amber eyes bored into mine. Isabella, do not force me to witness your death as well. Please.
"But I can't watch you die…not you, too! Please no…take me…take me. I love you…Please God, I'll do anything, just take me."
My darling, some things cannot be changed. It is my time… I do not fear death. I had your love, and that has meant more to me than an endless existence without you. "I love you, Isabella."
He bowed his pale head in prayer, oblivious to the mocking from his executioners or my words.
"NO! Carlisle, NO! Take me!"
Turning his back me, our captor addressed Carlisle."How sentimental...how very provincial of you to succumb to her charms. I thought you were better, stronger…I was wrong. Weak and useless you are, Carlisle."
I snarled, fighting with everything I had against my ties. My shoulders pulled painfully and my wrists burned, but the ropes fell away, and I sank to the floor. Carlisle's head snapped up at the sound, a ghost of a smile tugging his lips.
Don't move, stay completely still. Once it's finished, run Bella. Hide yourself...please. I refused. He knew I would but Carlisle was nothing if not persistent. Homes scattered around the globe, places I could vanish without a trace, bank account numbers and documents to secure my anonymity, all flickered through his mind with one objective-escape. His only wish, his only desire was that I live. For the second time tonight, his mind, his actions reminded me of the past and I could not accept it.
What value did life hold if I was to live it alone?
Isabella! Please, for me, run, Dammit!
"Even now, nothing is holding you, and yet, you do not fight for yourself. Pitiful."
When Carlisle spoke aloud, he did so with unwavering acceptance of what was to come. "One cannot fight fate. It will find you, no matter whom or what you are. I was destined to love her. From the day I was born to the day I was born into immortal life-she was mine as I was hers."
"Fate and Destiny," he repeated, with a chuckle. "Childhood fables, woven with ignorance. These are your last words? A poor choice. Destiny, was it destiny that your "family" burn...for her. Destiny that you die for her...for this love?"
"You say the word with sarcasm and disbelief, you mock me. What would you know of love—a love worth waiting decades for, a love worth dying for...a love like ours? You know nothing but lust, power and greed. I suspect you'll meet your fate soon."
I could sense the hatred in his heart, the scorn and envy Carlisle's words ignited, within him. Through the eyes of his men, I saw his face twist with anger. "Enough of this!" he raged, and with flick of his wrist, the order was made. The men advanced swiftly.
"Not even you can run from it."
His eyes meet mine one last time, my name on his lips and love in his heart, I love you, goodbye.
"NO!" I screamed, unable to keep silent. I lunged for him, but someone caught me by the waist and forced me to watch as he was torn to pieces, as hellish flames engulfed what was left.
It was too late...
His pain was my pain.