Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight :)
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
-1 Corinthians 13:13 -
A quiet hum rose from my throat, changing into a familiar tune I had liked very much as a kid. The song wasn't overly perky and happy, and it was good because tunes with those features were simply annoying. But this song was a classic, with many memories linked to it. Those memories were mostly happy, and I found myself savouring them with both melancholy and joy. It made me wonder why those two emotions often had the tendency to appear together, almost as though they couldn't exist without the other. But I guess it was supposed to be that way; without the sadness, there would be no happiness. Without the bad, there would be no good.
Energetic steps echoed from the walls of the hallway, reaching my ears. I didn't turn around to look who was nearing, but I didn't have to.
"Look at you," Emmett boomed from the doorway of the living room. I smiled at him quickly, seeing him leaning his bulky form against the door frame. I turned away again, making sure that the row of red candles was nice and straight. Then I lit them up one by one, continuing my quiet humming.
"I never thought of you as a Christmas person," Emmett continued, entering the room and dropping himself on the couch. He reached out to grab one of the candles I had put earlier on the coffee table, beginning to play with the flame.
"And I'm not," I answered, extending my hand to take the candle back. Emmett grinned, holding it out of my reach. "But even though one isn't a Christmas person, it doesn't mean that she's automatically an anti-Christmas person," I pointed out, trying to stifle a sigh as I tried to reach out for the candle once more.
"Oh," Emmett teased. "Trying to balance it, are you?"
"Give me the candle before you light yourself on fire. Or worse; before you burn down the entire house."
"Excuse me?" Emmett frowned, pretending to be insulted. "You're more worried about the house than my welfare? You care about a lifeless building more than you care about me?"
"Yes," I claimed. "The house is better company than you are. The house can behave itself unlike you can. The house doesn't make resistance like you do. And the house has the ability to stay quiet and doesn't feel the need to fill every silent moment with needless speech like you do." I fell silent as I ran out of air, casting one more resentful frown to his direction.
Emmett lowered the candle in front of him, brushing his finger through the flame quickly. I wondered what made him such a daredevil - the venom running under his skin was highly inflammable. "You just described every trait I actually appreciate in myself," he murmured quietly. "And you made them sound so... worthless." Then his face distorted into a miserable expression, and he looked at me under his eyelashes like a small puppy without a home.
A sigh escaped my lips. "Cut it out. Although, I must say your act is very convincing." Emmett kept frowning, struggling to cross his arms in a sulking manner without lighting his sweater on fire.
"If you don't give me the candle, I'll turn into an anti-Christmas person and put every single one of them out so you can't play with them anymore," I threatened, deciding that the situation demanded hard measures.
Emmett feigned shock, inhaling sharply. "You wouldn't," he breathed, looking at me with incredulous eyes.
"I would." Shrugging, I gestured at the table covered with dozens of candles that casted their gentle light into the dark room. Emmett's gaze flitted between me and the candles, and eventually he wrinkled his nose, setting the candle in his hand back on the table.
"You're a mean person," he muttered under his breath.
"I'm sorry. I'm trying to balance it."
Carrying on with my quiet humming, I continued arranging the candles on the shelves and tables like Alice had asked. Emmett joined in after a moment, and soon the room was filled with his deep voice. A spontaneous smile rose to my lips, and suddenly a very warm feeling conquered me. It wasn't because of the candles, or because of the flames crackling in the fireplace. It was something entirely else.
"Look at the time," Emmett said after a moment, nodding towards the clock. "It'll be midnight soon. And that means..."
"Don't say it," I pleaded.
"...that it's your vampire birthday!"
"Actually, it won't be in hours," I reminded him. "It was the evening of the Christmas day when I woke up from the transformation."
Emmett shrugged. "Same difference."
I began to hope Alice wouldn't see this day like Emmett apparently did. Because if she did, it'd mean that she wanted to celebrate. Unfortunately I had no way to inquire her about her possible plans, because she had disappeared early in the morning somewhere with Jasper. I wondered if their short hunting trip had turned into a lot longer one.
"Don't look so sour," Emmett's voice disrupted my thoughts. "I'm sure Alice won't have anything huge planned. She knows how much you detest it." His tone was surprisingly sympathetic, nearly reassuring, but then a huge grin made its way on his lips and his golden eyes glinted with mischief. "And I'm sure she focuses all her energy on a certain upcoming event that takes place soon." Then he winked, leaning against the back of the couch and flicking the flat screen on.
A peculiar sensation of my cheeks growing hot confused me. I tried to hide the blissfull smile that began to curve my lips, but to no avail. Somehow I managed to conjure up a small protest, only to wipe off the goofy smirk on Emmett's face.
"She will use as little energy on it as possible," I reminded him. "We had a deal, and for once Alice was willing to go with it."
"I know," Emmett threw me another grin and shrugged. "But it's still a celebration. When the rest of us merely enjoy it, for Alice it's like oxygen. And you can't blame any of us for wanting to have a small chance to be happy about something after everything that's been going on during the past months."
I realized that I agreed with him. That earlier feeling of warmth, the one that wasn't caused by the candles or the fire crackling in the fireplace, began to engulf me again.
I allowed it to.
Emmett raised his brow when a familiar sound reached our ears. The purring of an engine came closer, and in a few moments it stopped. Car doors banging, quick steps on the porch. The front door opened after a second or two, and I heard Jasper and Rosalie bickering playfully about something as they came in. Alice's light steps followed them, and it didn't take long until she had stormed into the living room.
"Did we miss it, did we miss it?" she demanded, staring hysterically at the clock. "Is it midnight already?"
"Nope," Emmett answered. "You even got a few minutes to spare, as you know. You are aware that there's a functioning clock in the car, right? And that the living room is on the same time zone?"
Alice ignored Emmett's comments. A wide smile lit up her face, and I rolled my eyes at her enthusiasm, asking the question that had been pestering me for the past few seconds.
"Was that Carlisle's car I heard?" I inquired, trying not to get my hopes up.
"Yes," Jasper answered, emerging from the dark hallway and coming to stand on the doorway.
"Why is his car here?" I asked. "Did you steal it from him?"
Jasper laughed, shaking his head. "Of course not. He gave us a ride."
"But..." I shook my head, gazing expectantly at the door Jasper was blocking. He moved away with a small smile, dropping himself on the couch next to Emmett. Soon I heard the familiar steps I would know everywhere.
The first thing I saw was the smile. Then, the butterscotch eyes. Then, the swept-back golden hair. My eyes devoured hungrily those familiar features, but I couldn't quite believe what I saw. After all, I had already accepted the fact that he wouldn't be here tonight.
But eventually, after the sensation of surprise allowed me to think clearly again, I had to admit that it was Carlisle standing on the doorway of the living room. Against all my expectations, he was here. I blinked at the sight of him, trying to figure out if my eyes were deceiving me.
"But...I thought you had to be in the hospital for the whole night," I blurted out, still too surprised to say anything else. "And for tomorrow."
Carlisle stepped inside. The soft light the candle flames casted in the room reflected from his blond hair.
"Is that a complaint?" he asked with a small smile.
"No," I mumbled, feeling his arms wrapping around me. "I'm merely expressing my surprise. No complaints from me, I promise." Carlisle's lips pressed against my cheek, and he pulled back to smile at me. "You said you wanted to give the other doctors the chance to spend Christmas with their families."
"That's true," Carlisle answered, tapping the tip of my nose with his finger gently. "But thanks to a group of extremely eager residents and their attending physicians, I was able to switch shifts if I happened to feel like it."
"And you happened to feel like it," I stated.
"Of course. It's an important day."
I smiled at him crookedly. "Alice managed to brainwash you, didn't she?"
Carlisle laughed softly. "She had no need to do that." His lips pressed against my cheek again, and he pulled back to smile at me.
I locked my arms behind his neck, standing on my toes to get closer to his face. "So..." I murmured. "Thanks to these doctors-to-be, you are here tonight. How should I thank them?"
Carlisle's lips skimmed close to mine, almost touching but not quite. "I can always convey your... gratitude to them," he whispered.
"Please do," I stated with a low voice, wanting to say something else but unable able to resist the urge to kiss him deeply. My lips explored his for a while, and the kiss would have lasted much longer if Emmett's laughter hadn't disrupted it.
"Yeah," he laughed. "Thank them like that, Carlisle. You'll soon be out of job."
Jasper and Rosalie laughed. Carlisle snorted softly, hooking his arm around my waist. He turned to look at the dimly-lit room, as though he was only now noticing that something had changed after he had left the house early in the morning.
I gazed around the room as well, slightly annoyed that I hadn't managed to finish it before everyone had come home. I looked at the chaotic amount of candles littered on the tables and ledges, noting that Alice was having a field day arranging them into groups and formations. At least she didn't have to light them up; I had managed to get that part done before Emmett had arrived to harass me.
Speaking of which... the person in question had grabbed another candle from the table, pouring the hot wax on his palms and beginning to goof around with it. I could only shake my head as Jasper joined Emmett's brainless activity.
Carlisle still gazed around the room, eventually tightening his arm around me. "That's... a lot of candles," he stated simply with a smile in his voice.
"Yeah, I know," I sighed. "I got a little carried away."
"It looks wonderful, Bella." I felt him pressing a kiss against my temple, drawing in a deep breath against my scalp.
"Did you just smell my hair?" I asked, looking up to gaze at him.
Carlisle's expression was innocent. "Am I not allowed to?" he asked.
"You are," I agreed with a teasing smile. Lowering my voice, I rose to my toes again to whisper words in his ear. "I just thought that there might be something else you'd rather be doing."
Carlisle laughed softly. He opened his mouth to say something but Emmett's words cut him off.
"Get a room," he grumbled, earning a light smack from Rosalie.
I had a rather snide comment ready to be voiced, but Carlisle grabbed my hand gently and began to lead me out of the room. He walked me down the dark hallway towards the door, leading me outside.
The first thing I noticed was the cold air making its way into my lungs. Although the changes in the temperature didn't affect me, it didn't meant that I couldn't feel them. I gazed around the yard with wonder, my eyes devouring the magical scenery that hadn't been there earlier in the afternoon.
Even though it was Christmas, there was no snow. But the lack of it didn't affect the view that could be simply described as magnificent. Everything was covered with icy frost; the railings of the porch, the trees, the lawn, the rose bushes, the paving... everything. The air was so cold that I could see my breaths as they escaped my mouth. The scenery was a beautiful mix of mysterious blue and fragile white.
"Wow," was the only thing I managed to say.
Carlisle kneaded his hands together, even though I knew he couldn't be too cold. It was a very human-like gesture, probably something he had forced himself to learn over the decades. It fit him very well, that simple action. Everything he did fit him, his character. Those simple things always reminded me how truly far he was from the sinful, doomed creature he had once thought himself to be. This man, who had been willing to end his own life centuries ago only to protect those he didn't even know, was more human than most people of flesh and blood walking on this earth. His nature encompassed everything one could hope from oneself. His immortality didn't mean that he wasn't vulnerable - on the opposite. Because Carlisle had that, vulnerability, but he also had strength. And even though he was solid and strong, he was also humble and compassionate beyond anything.
Suddenly I noticed that I watched him like I had just now seen him for the very first time - I was simply in awe. And I knew there wouldn't be a day in my life when I didn't see him the way I did. My image of him would never change, just like my feelings for him would never fade or disappear. It was strange how one's heart could keep changing and altering, but once you had reached that certain point, there would be no going back. There would be no need to go back. And after years of wandering and being lost, after years of incompletion you suddenly realized that that you weren't any of those things anymore. No more wandering or being lost, no more constantly lacking something... just the sensation of being whole, of your heart suddenly being unchangeable.
I breathed in the cold air, feeling it tingling in my lungs. The taste of the frosty air was crisp on my tongue. Unchangeable, I thought to myself again. There was something beautiful about the word.
Carlisle kneaded his hands together again, then glanced at me and drew me under his arm close to his side. I felt his chin pressing against the top of my head as we kept gazing at the frozen scenery.
"It's a beautiful night," he murmured quietly.
"Yeah," I answered, drawing in a breath against his shirt. I lifted my hand to study the marble surface of my fingers. The paleness of my skin was prominent in the dim light. "I can't believe it's been a whole year," I revealed, marveling the passage of time. It seemed like yesterday when I had first opened my eyes to this new life. I remembered the confusion and the disturbing amount of sensations running through me - I still wasn't quite used to them. I remembered the struggle I had gone through with the bloodlust and my stubborn attitude when it had come to overcoming it. I had been so obsessed with the idea of being perfectly in control of myself, and the more I had tried, the easier I had seen my minor downhills as a failure. And it had nearly caused me to ignore - dismiss - the people around me. The people who cared about me, despite my possible flaws and failures.
Carlisle lifted his chin from my head, pressing a kiss on my temple. And I thought; how was it possible, that several times I had been so willing to dismiss those small things? He had always told me that I was good the way I was, that I was demanding too much from myself and perfection was something no one should ever try to obtain. Every time he had tried to teach me all those things, to convince me about them, and I had so easily disregarded those assurances that had been simply honest and true. It had been arrogance at its best.
Whispered words drifted in the air. Carlisle's breath was warm against my skin.
"What is it?" he asked quietly.
I glanced up to meet his gaze, then gazed around the night scenery to find the words to describe my current feelings.
"I'm just thinking," I began, "that how can you change so much in one year, only to feel like you've simply become the person you were always supposed to be? Is it changing if you feel that way?"
Carlisle seemed pondering. He took a step or two forward, sitting down on the stone steps of the porch. I followed him, lowering myself down next to him on the cool surface.
"I believe that it is," he mused eventually. "I think it is more than changing. I believe it's growing, more than anything else." He leaned his elbows on his knees, crossing his fingers as if to pray. His golden eyes studied me for a moment. "Do you feel that you have changed?" he asked.
I half shrugged, half nodded. "I don't know," I answered. "Not essentially. But I'm still not the same person I was one year ago. Things are different, but yet they are the same."
"Or perhaps it was like you said earlier. Those things might not be exactly the way they used to be, but they've simply found their way to become what they were always meant to be."
I nodded. "Yeah. Maybe you're right." Nudging his shoulder playfully with my own, I tried to lighten the unexpectedly solemn atmosphere. "What would I do without you?" I asked with a smile. "Who would put my thoughts to words if it wasn't you?"
"Who would give me thoughts worth of voicing if it wasn't you?" Carlisle asked with a grin of his own. "I do not know many persons who ponder matters so profoundly as you do."
I snorted softly, turning my gaze back to the mountains rising behind the forests ahead of us, so far away. Inside the house behind us, I heard the clock ticking towards the midnight hour. Seconds passed leisurely, without any hurry, but steadily as if to remind me that time didn't stay still. I didn't need to be reminded of that. Seconds passed, time passed, simply because it was supposed to be that way. Some things were supposed to change. Not everything could stay the same. I knew that, and I also knew I wouldn't have it any other way.
But then there were other things that didn't change. Other things that were stable, constant. Carlisle slipped his fingers between mine, linking our hands together. He held onto it, not letting go as the time passed. The midnight arrived and left, only lingering for a second before the new day began.
I watched him in the darkness, watched our pale, linked hands, and only one thing came to my mind in that moment. One word to describe him and me, and us together.
Unchangeable, I thought.
Because even though everything around us might change, I knew that we never would.
The snow was cool under my bare feet.
The feeling was rather peculiar. The surface of my skin was dancing on the borders of discomfort, but I didn't feel it. The discomfort, that is. My marble skin ignored the icy pinpricks the cold snow tried to create. But in this body, in this life, I didn't feel the cold.
Why would I?
Gentle fingers weaved through my hair. I felt the stem of the rose brushing against my scalp as Alice set in it place behind my ear. It was my only accessory, the only thing I had wanted to add. Just a simple white rose, to embody everything we might feel today. Yearning, elation, love. Espeacially love, above everything else.
Alice took a step back. The sparkle of her golden eyes rivaled with the stars above us. I glanced upwards, thinking that the night sky of Alaska was more beautiful tonight that ever before.
Alice's fingers straightened the nonexistent wrinkles of my dress. If one could call it a dress; I had wanted something uttermost simple, something that barely had a hem instead of the pair of pant legs I usually preferred. And I had gotten what I wanted. The simple piece of clothing I wore was far from fancy. Even the material of it was very ordinary. Ordinary, but classy; the cream-coloured garment was made of thin cotton fabric. The material flowed down to my thighs, the hem reaching just above my knees.
I guess it was a dress after all, but I found myself actually liking it.
Alice brushed my long locks of hair with her fingers, causing them to cascade on my shoulders and back. I felt them landing against the crescent-shaped marks where the dress wasn't covering my skin. I actually heard how Alice frowned and bit her lip when she discovered that she had no way to cover them completely.
"It's okay," I said to her. "You don't have to hide them."
Alice stopped her movements, casting a surprised glance at me.
"I don't have to hide them," I corrected myself. "And besides, Jasper doesn't walk around with a hood over his head, does he now?" I pointed out, more amused than anything else.
Alice smiled. "You know, Bella," she began, her tone pleased, "finally you see things the way they are supposed to be seen." Her hands were touching my wavy hair again, but this time she raised the dark locks over my other shoulder, causing them to flow down against the fair material of the dress. My skin was now bare, exposed, where the fabric didn't cover it. Like the cold snow under my feet, it didn't bother me a bit.
Why would it?
A sound reached my ears. Calm footsteps, nearing us from the north. It caused the proverbial butterflies to take off in my stomach. I hadn't thought the sensation to be possible for vampires, but apparently it was. Nerves fluttering, shivers running up my spine. I expected my heart to go wild, but the organ was completely calm in my chest. Not dead, not motionless, not even silent. Just very serene.
And suddenly, so was I.
I barely noticed Alice pecking my cheek with a kiss and tiptoeing away from my side. I barely noticed Jasper appearing from the opposite direction, his tall frame emerging from the trees surrounding me. I barely noticed him giving me a nod and smug smile as he walked past me, disappearing probably to the same direction where Alice had. I barely noticed all those things, because my attention was claimed by something else.
All I could see and apprehend was the man arriving from the background of dark green and pure white. He moved across the snow-covered ground with calm steps. Even though there was serenity in him, there was also something hasty in his movements. As if he was in a hurry to get to his destination. I spared a moment to see if there were footsteps on the ground behind him. The man didn't look like an ordinary creation of nature at all. He was everything but ordinary, and that's why I didn't expect him to leave a trace behind as he walked. A divine creature like him shouldn't be able to create something so common as footprints.
But against all my expectations, there was something on the ground behind him. Real footsteps, formed by the man's feet that for my surprise were as bare as mine. And that man, that divine creature, was walking towards me. His demeanor was still as calm as before, but again with the barely imperceptible, unspoken haste in his movements.
He's hurrying to you.
The quiet thought in my head was my own, but it took a while for me to hear it, let alone to believe it. Eventually I did believe it, but not until the man was two paces away from me. He stopped, and for a while he simply gazed at me. Then he extended his hand, and I took it without a moment of hesitation.
Why wouldn't I?
At first the man didn't speak, but simply bowed his head to press a kiss on my cheek.
"Where have you forgotten your wings?" he asked with a whisper. "An angel like you should have those."
A soft laugh left my lips. "You're the one to talk."
Carlisle smiled. I noticed that the clothes he wore were as casual as mine. A simple white shirt matched with a pair of slacks that were the color of light sand.
He reached out to touch the white rose behind my ear. A glimmer of understanding flickered in his golden eyes. Then he directed his gaze at me again, the words he spoke quiet and soft.
"You're beautiful," he whispered. Sudden uncertainty conquered his features as he continued gazing at me. "Are you sure about this?" he asked, taking my hand in his. "We are in no hurry. You know that, right?" He raised my knuckles on his lips, pressing a light kiss on my skin.
I could only smile at his question. "I'm sure of you," I answered without hesitation. His question harbored many things, many hidden uncertainties, but I answered to them all only by saying those few words.
Assurance was something I had chased for a long time. I had craved for that safe feeling of certainty, but when I had found it, I had tried to reject it. Certainty had suddenly been the cause of fear for me when it should have been something entirely else. And that fear had caused me to flee, more times than I could even count.
But I hadn't managed to escape from it. Someone had caught me every time I had tried. It should've had made me feel more cornered, more like a prisoner, but it hadn't.
Because that someone hadn't held onto me forcibly. He hadn't kept me still when I had wanted to move. Instead of holding me in place, he had moved with me, keeping enough distance to give me space to breath, but staying close enough to step to my side when I had began to suffocate myself. Drowning in your own mind, in your own thoughts and fears was painful, but also way too easy to accomplish. He had known that.
"What if it won't get better?" I had once asked him. It seemed like an eternity since that question had left my lips.
But it hadn't been an eternity. Because I was just at the beginning of it. Our eternity, his and mine.
Carlisle's answer had been simple. Maybe it had saved him in the past; maybe he had once followed his own advice. "You keep breathing," he had told me. "Until it gets easier."
And I had breathed. At first I had thought that I had done it alone, but it wasn't until later when I realized that there had been someone breathing together with me.
Lifting my eyes to meet Carlisle's, I spoke the words as they entered my mind. It always wasn't wise to speak first and think later, but I felt that I had the thinking part already done. There was no more need for quiet thoughts and wishes. It was the time for words and promises, and actions that came after when there was nothing more left to say.
Actions spoke louder than words, my motto had always been. Today, both actions and words counted equally. There was finally a balance between those two, finally a reason to accept them both as something equally important. Neither overdshadowed the other, and that was balance, harmony, beyond anything. Perhaps it had always been there, that harmony, but it wasn't only until now when I was truly able to see it.
I took Carlisle's hand, not breaking the connection between our eyes. "I'm not afraid," I said.
Why would I be?
Carlisle's fingers tightened around mine. "I know," he answered. "Neither am I."
And we had no need to say anything else. As though we were made of one mind and one body, we turned together, simultaneously, and began to walk to the direction we had been waiting to go for the whole night. Or maybe we had been waiting to walk that path for longer than we had been even aware of. Who knew - maybe it was always meant to be this way. Maybe this was where our fate lied.
The snow was cool under the soles of my feet, but the hand in mine was very warm. The forest surrounding us was dense and dark, but I wasn't afraid of the darkness. Carlisle and I walked through the trees like through a waterfall, our steps measured and slow. When the branches concealing us retreated, we were greeted by the dark blue sky filled with stars. The sight took my breath away.
A small group of vampires waited for us not too far away. After glancing at each other, Carlisle and I walked across the large clearing towards the waiting formation. Smiling faces, linked hands and golden eyes greeted me wherever I looked. Tanya, Kate, Irina and Carmen were standing on the right, giving us warm smiles. Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett stood on the left, and as we passed them by, Emmett raised his hands close to his face, blowing a cool whirl of frosty snow from his palms. The tiny crystals danced in the air around us, landing on my shoulders and Carlisle's golden hair.
There was no music, no flowers, no decorations to guide our path to our destination. There was only the stars, the snow, the dark forest and the cold night surrounding us. It was perfect that way. It was more than I could have ever hoped for.
Why wouldn't it be?
After two more steps, we stopped. Carlisle's fingers tightened around my hand momentarily, and then we turned to face each other. My free hand sought Carlisle's other one, and he met my touch before we turned to gaze at Eleazar who stood before us, waiting.
Eleazar took a moment before he began to speak. He eyes wandered from mine to Carlisle's, and then his gaze roamed among the vampires gathered close by.
"Dearly Beloved," he began solemly, causing the butterflies to flap their wings in my stomach again. Suddenly I felt very boisterous, and I received a surprised smile from Carlisle when I accidentally squeezed his hands too hard. It was then when I noticed that my cheeks felt strange - I was smiling so widely that apparently even my marble skin couldn't take it.
After reining myself in, I turned to look at Eleazar again, listening to his words as he continued. With every word I felt more solemn, more serene. Carlisle's eyes captivated me, and eventually I simply couldn't turn my gaze away from him. His golden eyes pinned me down, and I kept looking at him as Eleazar's smooth voice floated in the air around us.
"We are gathered together here in the sign of God, and in the face of his company, to join this man and woman in holy matrimony, which is commended to be honorable by all men; and therefore, is not by any, to be entered unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."
There was now something strange in Carlisle. The expression on his face was unfamiliar to me. There was a smile playing on his lips, but it was a different smile from the one I remembered. The emotion in his eyes nailed me to the spot, and suddenly he began to blink rapidly, as if to banish tears.
Something stirred within me, the very same emotion that had him so moved.
"...to witness the joining in marriage of Carlisle and Bella. This occasion marks the celebration of love and commitment with which this man and this woman begin their life together. And now, through me, He joins you together in one of the holiest bonds..."
I freed my other hand from Carlisle's grasp and raised it to his cheek. He leaned into my touch, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath that was somewhat trembling. His eyes opened again to look at me - the emotion in their golden depths was incredulous. Like he couldn't believe his eyes.
It made me wonder if the expression on my face matched his. I wondered if he knew that I shared that feeling of wonderment. This was real - so unbelievable, but real. More real than anything there had ever been before.
Eleazar's voice sounded again. Carlisle gently took my hand from his cheek and held onto it, kissing my knuckles as Eleazar spoke.
"Do you, Carlisle Cullen, take Isabella Marie Swan, to be your wife, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon her your heart's deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?"
Carlisle's lips stayed on my knuckles. I both heard and felt his words as they left his mouth. Without breaking the connection between our eyes, his soft voice traveled through the cold night.
"I will," he said.
The venom was burning my eyes. I tried to blink the feeling away, at the same time feeling mentally very unstable. I had never wanted to cry and laugh at the same time - not until now. But I didn't manage to do either. The moment was so breathtaking that I could only stare at Carlisle and quietly try to swallow the nonexistent tears my body couldn't create.
"Do you, Isabella Marie Swan, take Carlisle Cullen, to be your husband, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart's deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?"
I barely waited for Eleazar to finish. As the question left his lips, my answer was already in the air. I couldn't tell if I was whispering or yelling, but I found that I really didn't care.
"I will," I answered.
Carlisle's lips pressed againt my hand again. He kissed my both palms twice, and then settled on smiling and holding my hands very tightly. His eyes never left mine, and mine never left his.
Why would they?
Someone handed Eleazar the rings. He raised the other one, saying few simple words that I barely heard. I was too lost in Carlisle's eyes to listen.
Carlisle took the ring, raising my left hand to his lips again. Without letting go, he whispered words that sounded like the wind traveling amongst the trees back at home. At home - in Vancouver, in Forks, in Alaska - wherever. It didn't matter to me where my home was, as long as I had Carlisle with me.
"With this Ring, I thee wed," Carlisle whispered, placing the ring upon my thumb, "and with my body, I thee honor." He moved the ring over my index finger. "And with all my worldly goods, I thee endow;" he moved to the fourth finger of my hand, slipping the simple silver ring on it, "the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
My hands trembled as I reached out to take the ring Eleazar offerred to me. Religious words had never come easily to me, but now my lips formed them effortlessly, naturally. As though someone had meant for me to speak them. They were my words, entirely and throughout, and they had only one meaning, one purpose. And they had always been harbored for one person only.
I took Carlisle's hand, my mouth molding those words that were so truly mine, but meant only for him to hear.
"With this Ring, I thee wed," I said, placing the ring over Carlisle's thumb, "and with my body, I thee honor." I moved the ring upon his index finger, holding it there for a while. My voice grew quieter, stronger. "And with all my worldly goods, I thee endow;" I moved the ring again, slipping it on the fourth finger of his hand, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," I whispered.
Carlisle held my gaze as I wrapped my fingers around his hand. Eleazar said something again, but neither of us heard it. Carlisle had already pulled me close to his body, pressing his lips to mine. Someone cheered, someone laughed. I heard those sounds of happiness, but I was so consumed by my own bliss - our bliss - that I couldn't pay attention to anything else.
It began to snow. The clouds covered the dark sky above us, taking away the stars. It was as though the nature had waited until our moment had received a proper ending before taking away those small sources of light. I didn't cry after the stars. I didn't need the light they offered. Because darkness was something I had no way to experience any longer. Like the cold snow under my feet, the darkness didn't trouble me.
Because in this body, in this life, I didn't feel the cold, and I didn't see the darkness.
Because... why would I?
AN: I wanted the ceremony to have a few traditional features, but I also didn't want it to be too ordinary and normal. No fancy dresses, no music, no flower bouquets or anything else to make you gag... :D Instead of the usual 'I do' I used the phrase 'I will'. I don't know which one is more liked, but I personally prefer the 'I will'. For some reason it sounds more traditional in my ears :)
At this point I should say that this is the last "official" chapter to the story, and after this one there will be only an epilogue left to post. I've already began to write it, and it shouldn't be long until I post it for you to read. The - actual - last - chapter. Bo-hoo :( I actually had to pinch myself when I began to write the epilogue - it just seemed so surreal. This story has been a way for me to channel my emotions, both negative and positive, and it has been a relief to have a way to get away from the normal everyday life. And I've been blessed with awesome readers who have always made sure that I know there is someone out there who looks forward to the next post. It has given me inspiration to keep writing and not quit (believe me, there were a couple of times when I was really lost with the story and had no enthusiasm to write. But something made me come back everytime :))
I hope you guys enjoy!