When he thought back to it, there was no moment in his whole existence that he had considered being allowed to have this. Not even as an innocent child, had he pictured himself being allowed to have such happiness.
He remembered what it was like before. God, how he remembered. The feeling of hatred for what he had been turned into so intense led him to do unspeakable things to himself. The self inflicted injuries had healed completely now ━ except for a few ones, that had managed to scar even his marble skin.
Not only that but he remembered the loneliness. The feeling of drowning in darkness, of being completely alone even when surrounded by his own kind. He had craved companionship back then, but refused to search for it ━ after all, imagine the risk of being next to someone like him? He had been told to turn someone, to make an innocent person into a demon like himself and the sole idea terrified him much more than anything ever could have at that point.
Carlisle was careful, he went about his life saving people and taking precautions in order for his condition to remain unknown by the humans who surrounded him. That feeling of loneliness never left him, but he had remained strong, never caving to the small dark voice in his mind that begged him to turn someone.
Until he met her.
That day he had almost caved in. And he had never been prouder of his self control.
He had known what she was. Had heard the feeling described to him many times ━ how the moment you laid eyes on your mate it was as if something snapped inside you, as if all your thoughts were silenced and only one thing remained. Them. And suddenly that person became your whole world.
As he stared at the girl sitting on that hospital bed, a slight frown on her face and cherry red lips between her teeth ━ no doubt in pain given her broken leg. Carlisle knew he had found his mate. And yet he refused to acknowledge that fact, refused to treat her as anything other than a patient. He would not turn a 16 year old girl ━ would not deprive her of the whole life she had yet to experience.
She had not made it easy for him. Her bright eyes sparkling with curiosity, her cheeks flushing the most beautiful shade of red when she thought she had been too forward with her eager questions. Not only had she been adorable, but she was kind the sort of kindness most wouldn’t find in a sixteen year old.
In those short moments they had bonded ━ and god, it was ridiculous for him to recall even now how infatuated he has been with her.
When he left that night, he imagined that he was keeping her safe ━ safe from him and the life of suffering he would have brought her. So he and Edward took off, to keep her safe, and not because he had been terrified of the implications that he was not doomed to be alone.
Meeting her seven years later had shown him that his assumption had been misplaced.
As he was given her medical records, he would never picture the young girl who had been so happy and bright, to be the woman laying down on that table at the morgue. Of course he had recognised her scent, he’d never forget the warm scent of honey and roses that seemed to surround her.
It was hard to remember how painful the sight of her had been, his mind repressing it as if it had been the worst pain he had ever felt. Although he did remember how his heart ━ no longer able to beat ━ soared when he heard her faint and weak heartbeat. He could still save her.
And that he did.
He had expected her to be angry at him, to loath him for turning her into a monster. She surprised him once more when she did anything but ━ both Edward and him attributed her lack of reaction to shock. They had been correct as one week later, Carlisle had found her sobbing, hidden away at his study and there she had let him know just how broken she truly had been.
Their journey to love has been long and slow but Carlisle wouldn’t have it any other way. He had loved her from the moment he had laid eyes on her, but she hadn’t. She had barely known him, and he understood that she needed time ━ time to come to terms with what had happen, time to understand that she was safe now, that no one would abuse her anymore.
He could still hear her voice as she confessed to him. It was one of his most precious memories. Her body language screamed shyness and uncertainty but her now golden eyes looked straight into his own and sparkled with a confident he hadn’t seen since had talked to that 16 year old with a broken leg and dreams far beyond her time.
And now, with the sun casting its warm and yellowish light over them, he watched as she laughed at Alice and Emmett bantering. Her golden eyes turning into little crescent moons as she expressed her delight through the sweetest sounding giggle.
He closed his eyes, allowing himself to enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by his family ━ enjoying the feeling of no longer being alone. He still couldn’t believe she was his, couldn’t believe that someone as beautiful, as stunning and mesmerising as Esme would settle down with someone like him.
He did not feel worthy of this blessing but he thanked the Lord every single moment of his existence for it. He had been so distracted by his musings that he barely registered when the love of his life sat beside him.
❛ I am no mind reader, but I do know that face ❜ she spoke softly, a slight tone of teasing colouring her sweet voice. God, even the sound of her voice alone could melt him into a puddle. ❛ Penny for your thoughts? ❜
❛ A whole penny? Wow, that is awfully generous of you, Mrs. Cullen ❜ he teased back, turning to look at her, letting her search in his eyes for the answer she wanted.
Having found it, Esme laughed and smacked him lightly on the shoulder before getting up once again. She stood in front of him, their eyes still locked and Carlisle really struggled to suppress and awed gasp.
She looked like a goddess.
With her back turned to the sun, it was as if she herself was emitting the soft warm light, as if she was glowing.
He was a religious man, just as his father had been ━ maybe not as extreme as the man who raised him had been ━ but a religious man nonetheless. His god was all knowing, his god was omnipresent, his god was….perfect.
But could he really say that?
Could his god really be perfect when he allowed such abuse to be bestowed upon someone like Esme? Could his god be perfect if he allowed creatures like them to roam the earth? Could his god be perfect if he was capable of unleashing such wrath on his own children?
Carlisle could not be sure. He was sure however, that he looked at Esme the same way he looked up at the sky as he prayed. Eyes wide and filled with hope, devotion, love and fear. Fear that they’d abandon him, fear that he be cast out and doomed for the rest of eternity.
And while God’s answers were abstract and undetectable, Esme’s weren’t. She’d wrap her smaller frame around his much bigger one and with gentle touches and a soft voice, she’d relieve him of his fears and doubts in a way only she could, by loving him.
This time however, she did not wrap herself around him, instead she held out her dainty hand for him to take. ❛ Come play with us, Emmett is about to start challenging people and we really don’t want to miss that ❜ she said, pulling him up.
He smiled, as if he could deny her anything. ❛ Oh, we absolutely do not. Lead the way, my love ❜
As she guided him closer to their children, Carlisle could only think about how glad he was for not giving up - for having survived long enough to meet all these people, the most important people of his life.