Esme had been a part of the family for three years now, and in those three years, Carlisle could not believe how much had changed. Having her there was so different to the years he had spent alone or with Edward, she brought a kind of brightness and life to their endless existence and for the first time in centuries, Carlisle felt almost alive again.
This was to be their first proper Christmas together. They had spent two before technically, but Esme had been still in the flings of newborn madness and had refused to go out for fear of hurting others. Now that had past and Carlisle couldn’t help but smile as he saw her handing out fresh-baked cookies to the neighbourhood children, trailing Edward behind her wrapped in a bright red hand-knitted scarf.
She celebrated Christmas more than either of them ever had. Carlisle's strict upbringing had left little time for what had then been a minor celebration, and his youth had coincided with Cromwell's regime and the banning of Christmas altogether. Edward had grown up in an Irish Catholic household and therefore Carlisle had expected him to want to celebrate, but he had never really seemed to want to get involved.
But Esme, she was the biggest Christmas fan he had ever met. She swore to have read “A Christmas Carol” a hundred times and insisted her Christmas pudding had been the best in town. She mourned the fact he would never get to try it and Carlisle had felt that pang of regret for the human life they both had lost.
Esme had set about decorating the house, Edward was enlisted to string wreaths around the room, his unusual height coming in useful as they forewent step ladders. The Christmas tree was beautiful too, he had insisted on a “no candles” rule but the glass decorations, gingerbread, candy canes and clementines looked magical if a little unnecessary for three vampires who could not eat them. Every day as Carlisle returned home from work he would find another festive addition to the house and it was with a warm glow in the space his heart had once beat that he felt more and more that this house was becoming a home.
“Carlisle we’re back” Esme called shaking him out of his revery, she practically danced through the door, with Edward following after her, shaking the snow from his bright red hair.
“How was the walk?” he asked politely unable but to return Esme's infectious smile.
“Oh lovely” she gushed “the children are all so sweet, and so polite! Every one of them said thank you so nicely! No at all like my brothers and sisters” her voice trailed off and he hoped she had not fallen back into contemplation of her old life, there was a look in her eyes he couldn’t quite place. At times like this he would have given almost anything for Edwards gift.
“I’m going to get changed, I’m soaked” Edward offered, he gave Carlisle a meaningful look that he didn’t understand in the slightest gesturing with his head. Before turning and disappearing through the door.
His exit drew attention to a new decoration.
“Is that mistletoe?”
Esme looked a little like she would blush if she could. “it's traditional” she explained “can’t have Christmas without it”
“Well I’ll try not to get caught under it “ he joked and perhaps it was his imagination but the Esme look a little disappointed.
It was odd, he thought, as he headed to work the next day, noticing mistletoe had sprung up on another doorway as he left. He had not thought about Esme that way before. He had not wanted to. He had not wanted to be the kind of creature that would transform an innocent woman into a soulless monster to be his bride. Which was perhaps a tad melodramatic, but he couldn’t shed the thought. He knew in his heart that he had done the right thing. Ease promised it often enough and yet he couldn’t help but feel guilty sometimes for condemning Esme, and Edward, to this life. He would make the best of it, but he sometimes wondered if he had any right to make that decision for others.
And yet he did care for Esme, more than he let on. Sometimes when he saw her drawing up house plans, or playing with their neighbour's children or sitting curled up in his favourite armchair he felt he loved her beyond all belief, but he had always insisted that it was platonic a kinship. The mistletoe was making him question that.
When he came home from work there was even more mistletoe strung under the arch, he wondered at it, could Esme be trying to tell him something, or was it his imagination.
He resolved to ignore it wrapping himself his work, he took to wandering the house head buried in case files to ignore it. It didn’t work. It was as he didn’t this that he was brought face to face with Esme, also with her head in a book in a doorway beneath one of the offending plants. “Typical,” he thought, his avoidance tactic brought him to the thing he was trying to avoid.
“Mistletoe,” said Esme softly glancing up to where it hung above them
“We don’t have to” Carlisle promised awkwardly “ no one would know”
The look in Esme's eyes was nervous but determined, almost a challenge, Carlisle wondered how he had ever thought he wasn’t in love with her.
“then I suppose we have to,” he said trying to keep his voice light and failing miserably
“I suppose we do”
Esme lent in first, standing on tiptoe to press her lips to his. It was a gentle kiss, cautious but sweet, she was perhaps cold and stone-like to the touch, but to him, she seemed as warm as the glowing candles they couldn’t have and as soft and sweet as her gingerbread. She pulled away almost too quickly and smiled at him sheepishly
“I’ve wanted to do that since I met you” she confided
“That was many years ago” Carlise offered, remembering their first meeting with a fond smile
“you were the kindest most handsome man I had ever met then and nothing had changed”
“I’m sure that was just your human sight” Carlisle joked “now you can see me better I doubt I am half so handsome”
“no,” she said a playful smile on her lips ”you’re even more handsome”
Carlisle laughed at that and leant in to kiss her again, this time the kiss was less cautious, he twisted his fingers into her honey-coloured hair and never wanted to let go.
“I suppose it is a good thing you hung up all this mistletoe,” he said breathlessly when the kiss finally broke off
“Me?” She asked suddenly quizzical “I only hung the one bunch I assumed the rest was you”
‘Edward!” they said once and in a flash, he appeared at the top of the stairs peeing over the bannister at them
“Finally” he sighed “it took you long enough”
“you did this?” Esme asked though they both knew the answer.
Edward rolled his eyes dramatically “ I am a mind reader remember! If I had to listen to your pining for one more day I might have set myself alight along with the Christmas pudding”
“Edward!” Carlisle admonished, but could hardly keep a straight face as Esme and Edward erupted into peels of laughter.
Looking at them both, with his arm still around Carlisle felt that things were sure to keep getting better. Because they were here, they were happy, and it was Christmas after all.