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The Garden

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Carlisle stands in front of a golden ornate mirror, fidgeting with the light blue and black masquerade mask that sits on his face. These parties were a regular occurrence in the Palazzo. The first one he had attended, he felt out of place until Aro took it into his hands to remedy that. Now, he practically knew what to expect. Though nothing is ever dull or wholly predictable here.

A knock sounds at the door. It's short, precise, albeit a tad impatient. He does not have to open the door to know that it is Jane, just by her knock alone, but also by her scent.

"Hello Jane." Carlisle states after opening the door and seeing the petite blonde girl.

She's wearing her signature black dress that goes just past the knee and a dark red mask. "Aro is waiting for you in the garden." Without a proper greeting or goodbye or even a hint of a smile, she's gone with a gust of wind.

Carlisle closes the door to his room, walking the grand hallways towards the garden. On the way, his eyes drift over the portraits that line the walls. There is one of Jane and Alec. Both children sitting stoically, a threat in both of their crimson irises, as if to say, 'do not stare too long'. He moves on with a phantom shiver running down his spine. The next portrait he comes across is that of Aro, Caius, and Marcus. Marcus stands on the left, appearing melancholy. Then there is Caius on the right, a hint of wrath in his eyes. And in the middle is Aro. Handsome and alluring. He draws attention away from the others. In his eyes, there is a secret hiding and if one dares to grow closer, they might learn it. Carlisle lingers longer than intended before finally strolling out to the Garden.

He finds those mysterious dark red eyes again, which are so much more devastating in person. Carlisle does not have the right words to put to what he feels. He just does. He feels a plethora of emotions for the Volturi King in front of him. Feelings that confuse and ravage many waking moments.

"Carlisle, my friend." Aro grins, approaching in a scarlet suit with a black mask and a dark crown atop his raven hair. In his right hand, he holds a violet plucked from the garden. The flower is brought up and tucked behind the blonde strands at Carlisle's ear. "For you. You look enchanting."

His eyes widen slightly, and a rather bashful smile appears on his expression. "Thank you." Fingertips brush against the petals near his temple but do not dare to remove the flower. "Why are you out here and not with your guests?" Carlisle asks curiously, as Aro sits down on a marble bench, indicating that they are not leaving anytime soon.

"Something has been bothering me, my friend, and I plan to get to take care of it tonight." The empty space beside Aro is motioned to, which prompts Carlisle to occupy it.

He does not speak as he sits, merely waits for Aro to continue. Although a mask partially covers his expression, Carlisle can sense the indecision and turmoil the other vampire is currently experiencing. "I offer myself to help you figure out whatever pains you, Aro."

"You offer yourself? Fully?" There is a hint of amusement in his tone. "That is a dangerous offer Carlisle, especially since you are what has me puzzled. Or, rather, my feelings in regard to your presence here."

Carlisle sits up a bit straighter, "If you wish for me to leave... I will."

Part of him knew that one day the Volturi would see him as nothing more than a novelty. He did not feed as they did and did not always agree on their methods of upholding the law. Aro most likely wanted to surround himself with like-minded individuals. Carlisle would loathe being alone, but he would not stay where he was not wanted.

"Wish for you to leave?" A chuckle falls from his lips. "My dear Carlisle, I wish for the complete opposite. I want you to become a permanent presence here."

Brows knit together underneath the mask, "Permanent?"

"Yes," Aro gently takes Carlisle's hand in his own. Carlisle allows it, unable to stop the yearning that arises with Aro's touch. "I wish for you to be my mate."

The younger vampire goes rigid with shock. "But I... I thought Sulpicia took up that role for you."

She was one reason why he had not even considered what these feelings for Aro could lead to. Among other things. His father taught him feelings of such passion were to only be reserved for his wife and no one else. But they did not feel evil, even if they were not always pure of nature.

"I created her with that in mind, yes, and I do cherish her. But she, it seems, is not my true mate." Aro's thumb begins caressing the back of Carlisle's hand softly, drawing circles on his pale skin. "That role, mi amor, belongs to you. I knew since the moment I saw you."

"When you saw me in the streets of Volterra? That was months ago..."

He hesitates as if contemplating sharing something and then finally states, "Yes."

Carlisle cannot help but wonder what is on the tip of the others tongue that he is so hesitant to share, but before he can ask, Aro continues. "I wanted you to figure it out for yourself, but you do take precious time, my dear. We may be immortal, but I am an impatient man."

"I have taken notice." There's a teasing tone behind the words.

Aro grins widely. "My, my what else have you taken notice of?"

If blushing were a possibility for a vampire, Carlisle would be as dark a scarlet as Aro's jacket.

"I apologize for keeping you waiting." He ignores the flirtatious question and goes back to Aro's previous statement. "These feelings are... very new to me. I didn't know what I was feeling. Let alone, that I was allowed to feel it."

Carlisle had not noticed until now that their hands were still interlocked. It had felt so natural, like they had always done this.

"I understand." Aro states, squeezing Carlisle's hand with affection.

He wondered if Aro did truly understand or if he took a peek into Carlisle's thoughts. Did he see how he used to naively think these feelings would fade away?

"These feelings do not go away, my dear. But if you do not wish to act on them, I will not force you."

So you are peering into my thoughts...

Aro shows an answering smile, teeth gleaming in the moonlight. "I cannot always help it. Nor do I always want to."

There is a pause of silence. Carlisle is contemplating his feelings and the offer given to him. What would it mean to be Aro's mate? It was not a position one could take lightly.

Aro watches the gears turning in the younger vampire's head, continuing to draw smooth patterns along his skin. "Do you have your answer?"

Carlisle nods, gently raising the back of Aro's hand to his lips to place a gentle kiss. "I do not wish to leave your side or Volterra anytime soon."