A/N: Dear reader, I know that Christmas day is almost gone, but I wish you a beautiful holiday season, filled with deep love, much laughter, and quiet peace. Thank you for reading my words throughout the year; I look forward to many more. And now, a bit of seasonal C/E romance, just for you. It's my small attempt to, you know, make the yuletide gay. :)
Thanks to the lovely Bmango and delightful SweetandSaltyFF for prereading.
Soft light flickered in the warm room.
Carlisle lit the final candle and tried not to look at Edward. Tried not to think of Edward. He took a deep breath instead, and concentrated on the scents of pine and spice that permeated the space.
Glancing around, he smiled at his handiwork. The room was tastefully draped with boughs of spruce, woven through with ribbons of deep dark red, and dotted with winter berries and mistletoe. A small pine stood in the corner, draped in ropes of cranberry and popped corn, and a dozen velvet bows, and the myriad of candles gave off warmth and just enough light to enhance the beauty of everything—and everyone—therein.
Carlisle hazarded a glance at the boy.
The sight took his very breath away. His unearthly beauty was beyond anything Carlisle had ever known. The shadows of his jaw were sharpened by the candlelight, and his pale skin glowed softly while his lips seemed to be stained as red as the berries Carlisle had tucked carefully amongst the evergreen.
Carlisle knew such thoughts were inappropriate and made the boy uncomfortable, so he just as quickly looked away, clearing his throat and burying his admiration.
"I..." Carlisle started, before pausing to clear it again. He was a physician who had hundreds of years of practice interacting with others, yet somehow the boy left him tongue tied more often than not.
The boy looked up through his eyelashes, and Carlisle swore an impossible blush colored his face.
"Thank you," the boy whispered.
Carlisle was relieved. "Is it alright then? I wasn't sure about the pine cones." He picked one up from the mantle and examined it closely, needing something on which to focus.
The boy nodded and a slight smile graced his lips. "It's just right," he murmured.
"I know it's not much, but I thought that perhaps you'd like to have a Christmas as you did before..." Carlisle shrugged helplessly. He couldn't bring back the boy's parents or give him human life, but he could at least try to brighten their quiet lives with a bit of seasonal cheer. He'd never taken the time in years past, but now that Edward was with him, he felt the need to emulate the holidays the boy might have had during his human years.
"I love it. Thank you," Edward said softly.
"Good. Yes, well, then, I'll just retire to my room and leave you here to enjoy it." Carlisle headed toward the stairs.
Carlisle hesitated and looked back at the boy, unsure if he'd really heard the word or whether his imagination was merely toying with his heartstrings.
Edward studied the pattern his fingertip traced on the edge of the ornate armrest of Carlisle's favorite chair.
"You wish..." Carlisle swallowed again as words seemed to cling stubbornly to his throat. "You wish for my company?"
The boy averted his eyes but nodded once.
"Yes, then. Well, I had meant to rearrange those branches above the hearth..." They hadn't lain quite to Carlisle's liking, but he hadn't fussed with them with all of the other tasks needing attention. The other decorations were now in place though, and he felt the need to keep his hands occupied; Edward's shy glances made him nervous.
"No," the boy insisted. "Stay here. With me."
Hesitating, Carlisle paused a moment before willing his body to sit down. Simply sitting there, beside Edward, with nothing to do and with no need for speaking, Carlisle felt surprisingly vulnerable. He drummed his fingers on the edge of his seat and tried not to look at Edward, knowing exactly how beautiful he would look in the soft flickering light. He breathed in the spiced air, tinged with spruce and cranberry and even Edward's own unique scent, certain that was the one he liked best of all.
Carlisle frowned, wondering when he'd finally disciplined his mind enough to keep down the thoughts that seemed to bubble up despite his best efforts.
When he finally looked up, he found Edward watching him, his bow-like mouth slightly parted.
"It's... alright." The boy spoke, as Carlisle looked away quickly. "It's alright to have those thoughts." Edward absently ran his finger along the chair cushion. "I...I just thought you should know."
"Edward, no. You shouldn't be uncomfortable in your own home." Carlisle protested. "I'll, I'll do better. I promise." He'd focus on his work, on Edward's progress being around humans, on anything but the line of the boy's jaw, the spark in his eyes and subtle twist of his lips that appeared when he was happy, or the small divot at the base of his neck where Carlisle longed, more than almost anything, to place his own mouth...
A candle crackled and sputtered, thankfully pulling Carlisle from his thoughts. He looked out the window at the moonlit snow, frozen and untouched.
"I have them too, sometimes."
Carlisle blinked at the admission. But couldn't bring a response to his lips. In fact, in the absolute stillness of the room, it rather felt like he could no longer breathe.
Holding Carlisle's gaze, Edward slowly rose to his feet and walked over to where Carlisle sat before kneeling down on the ground before him. Carlisle watched as the boy then leaned over enough to rest his cheek on his thigh.
"Edward," Carlisle choked out.
"Shhhh." The boy placed a finger to his lips before reaching up and gently taking Carlisle's hand, entwining their fingers, and curled his body up against Carlisle's leg.
Carlisle knew he wasn't dreaming, but this, Edward touching him, he'd never dared to expect from life. Wished, hoped, longed for, absolutely—he couldn't deny that—but he'd never imagined it would ever, ever, come to be.
Want rushed through him, seeing the boy curled up just there. He had to stop this, the boy didn't need to do this for him. He reached down to the nape of the boy's neck, ran his fingers through his hair, unable not to, before tilting the boy's chin to look at him.
Edward bit his lip and nodded, rose to his feet, standing before Carlisle. Placing his hands on Carlisle's shoulders, he leaned in tilting his head, until he whispered Carlisle's name into his ear.
Carlisle trembled as he felt the air from the boy's mouth dance over his skin. He turned his head, and placed his forehead against Edward's. Closed his eyes.
Their mouths were so close, so close, drawn together like magnets, and as he felt the pull grow stronger and stronger, his resistance wavered.
It would be so easy, so perfect, to kiss the boy, to place his mouth upon those berry-red lips.
The boy let out a soft whimper and Carlisle's stomach clenched. It filled his lungs with the heady air, filled to the brim with evergreen and spice and Christmas and...
"Edward," he breathed.
The boy's mouth found his.
Carlisle was helpless to do anything but kiss him back.
Helpless to do anything but continue kissing him, to part his lips, and invite Edward to taste his mouth, and then do the same.
Helpless to do anything besides stand up and hold the boy in his arms, wrap him up tightly in his embrace, and continue to kiss and kiss and kiss.
Helpless to do anything but close his eyes and drown in wishes come true.
When Carlisle finally managed to pull his lips from Edward's, he pressed his cheek to the boy's and sighed softly.
"Merry Christmas, my Carlisle," the boy murmured into his ear.
"Merry Christmas, Edward," he replied, nearly choking with the emotion. He nuzzled the boy's neck before returning to kiss him again. "Merry Christmas my love, my life, and my heart."
The candles flickered, gently illuminating the vampires as they stood entwined together against a backdrop of fragrant evergreen—lovingly adorned and full of life, despite the frozen world—and discovered their hearts remained just as alive.