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13 July 2008 @ 08:49 pm
Father of the Groom [Twilight]  
Title: Father of the Groom
Fandom: Twilight
Character/Pairing: Carlisle/Esme, Edward
Rating: G
Summary: Carlisle reflects on the morning of Edward's wedding.
AN: Unbeta'd.
Word Count: 1945

Father of the Groom

Carlisle adjusted his tie for a third time, though the knot was perfect. The day had been blessed with similarly perfect weather: overcast but bright and full of birdsong, no threat of rain. Esme clasped his hand in hers and folded it to her breast. "Stop," she whispered. "Why are you so nervous?"

Carlisle smiled at her. She wore a strapless, A-line, knee-length tea dress in a pale sage green. Alice's doing. An ivory pashima lay across one bare arm, ready to be wrapped around her once outside to feign discomfort in the cool air. Her hair was swept back into a purposely informal ponytail. All the Cullen women had made such efforts not to outshine the bride. Bella didn't see her own beauty and did not need such help. Carlisle saw the dressing down more as a way of giving Bella confidence.

The bride. The word startled him and he freed his hand to stroke it down Esme's cool, smooth hair. She turned more seriously towards him, asking, "What is it you're thinking?" Her brow was creased.

Carlisle shrugged. "Nothing in particular."

Clearly she didn't believe him. In fact, he hadn't been thinking of anything specific. He didn't let any spare thoughts trail as words through his mind. Long force of habit let the thoughts he wanted to consider stew just below the surface, underneath more frivolous self-vocalizations such as the fine weather. He usually didn't notice the habit, but examining and considering his unusual way of thinking must be akin to waving a flag in front of Edward, calling out to the youth that Carlisle was hiding some thought. Well, if the self-examination hadn't given Carlisle away, pontificating about flag waving and keeping secrets would have gotten Edward's attention by now.

But this was Edward, and his natural response would likely be to let Carlisle have his thoughts to himself. Carlisle sighed and leaned to peek through the window-wall that looked out on the lawn where the wedding was being set up. Edward did glance up briefly, almost unwillingly, before he turned to away. He wasn't being allowed to do anything today-- his wedding day-- and clearly the inactivity might not have been the best plan for Edward's nervous mind. He'd been standing in one place since just after dawn. The kid found new ways to be endearing nearly every day.

"I'm just thinking that I'm exceptionally lucky, did you know that?" Carlisle turned back to Esme, holding her in front of him to look into her peaceful eyes.

"Oh, I had some notion, yes," she met him mirth for mirth.

"Not just in the obvious way." Carlisle thought of his family, the home he had built and the way of life he had fostered, the gift he had of saving lives, the woman he'd found after so much time spent ignorantly heartsick. Carlisle was always grateful, and he was sure to thank God for even the smallest treasures: the good mileage of the Mercedes that had allowed Bella to escape to Phoenix with less delay during that darkest time, the little stand of wild bleeding hearts that grew on the short wooded path to the outbuilding that served as their garage, the hummingbird that frequented those flowers and Carlisle's inhuman ability to follow its beating wings, to see the green iridescence of its quick and delicate movements. Sometimes, however, he spent too long contemplating the smaller treasures to comprehend the larger. He never spent much time wondering how it was that he'd found Esme. Some illogical part of his mind worried she'd be torn away if he questioned the gift. He hadn't looked too closely at the blessing that was Bella, either. Carlisle did know that he wouldn't have hesitated to lay down his own existence for that girl. If the choice ever came to pass, he knew that a sacrifice to save her was also a sacrifice to save Edward. One thing Carlisle never doubted was love, and a man could have no greater love than to lay down his life for another. Bella was so delicate, and Carlisle had considered these issues too long. A weight would be lifted from everyone's shoulders when she was no longer human. His heart and mind warred sometimes, and he understood Edward's reservations on the issue. Carlisle had sworn once that he would never condemn a person who had the option of living a beautiful, growing, changing human life to his cold and stalled existence.

Somehow, the way he saw that 'stalled' existence had been turned on its head with Bella's entrance into their family. Edward-with-Bella was a beautiful thing. It was like a growing and changing child, awakening Edward from his frozen sleep, crying for Edward's protection and instruction. Carlisle would not watch that die so soon after it was born. If Bella had lived her human existence for ten more years or a hundred, it would have been too few to be excusable. For his kind, time moved too swiftly. Carlisle felt he had only met Esme yesterday. If he lost her after so few years together...

"Carlisle?" His dream's sweet voice woke him from his reverie. "What do you mean? What other way? We are all lucky to have such a loving and fair-minded daughter join our family." Her eyes, when he looked into them, were metallic gold wells of joy, sincerity, and puzzlement.

"Chief Swan," Carlisle started, "will be giving away his daughter today. He doesn't know how permanently he is giving her to us to love and cherish in his stead. We are only paying him in heartache."

"Children aren't items that can be given or taken, bought and sold." Her voice was soft, not wanting to judge his words. "They belong to themselves, once adults. Bella is just arrived at that age; Charlie would be losing her regardless."

Carlisle nodded. Esme was right of course, but he wasn't saying things quite exactly how he meant them. "I just want to say-- I don't know to whom-- before God I suppose-- that I know how lucky I am to not be losing. To be gaining. So many times I knew in my soul that this day would never come." His eyes sparkled. "Sometimes I am sure that I'm still dreaming."

"Oh, I know," she breathed, exhaulted. "Do you remember that horrible argument? After Edward saved her from the car crash? Did you ever think that Edward would fall in love with the girl we were all so heatedly discussing? Carlisle, I wanted him to kill her. I wanted him to, if it meant our family would stay whole and safe."

Carlisle grimaced. "I think I'd rather not remember that night. I really worried he would, you know. I worried he could be swayed. I thought that--" He sighed, trapped and distressed by the recollection.

"Whatever you thought, it worked."

Carlisle nodded grimly, "I feared I might be too disappointed in him to forgive it so easily." He heard the pain in his own voice. A ripple of guilt filled his chest at the concept of not forgiving Edward. If love was supposed to be so powerful, why wouldn't it be enough? "I'm very practical, Esme," his eyes rose to meet hers, imploring her to understand, "but I did not see how our comfort should be worth her life, nor how his mistake should mean her death. I'd seen her at the hospital only that afternoon. Just... just a little girl."

She laughed quietly. "It seems you were right. What I don't understand is why you're standing here apologizing for siding with Edward against killing Bella!"

"I daren't take any credit. Edward is the one who summoned the trust. I only gave my opinion. I'm just slightly horrified that I'd put a stranger's welfare over that of my family."

She slapped him on the arm outright. "Everyone's welfare is just fine. Seems to me we managed to hold up. Besides, you weren't acting blind. There was Alice."

"There was no way to be sure. Bella could have told the whole town, or at the very least the chief of police."

"Carlisle! Give it up. Please. Tell yourself that on some subconscious level you did know something, and move on. We're all adults. We would have taken care of ourselves regardless. The decision was Edward's, not yours. And I must say I'm proud of him. He chose to protect the only person in the situation who was in any real danger, no matter how tempted he might have been to do the opposite. We're all the richer for his strength, today."

Carlisle nodded and whispered, "I knew there was some reason I kept you around." His eyes caught hers and for a moment he could not breath, not even had he needed to.

Esme smiled brilliantly and Carlisle pulled her close against his chest. "Sometimes I like to think about the first day he brought her here. I'd never..."

"I know," Esme whispered against his collarbone. She pulled back a bit and looked up at him. "I suppose a little introspection is healthy when your son gets married. You might be taking it to an extreme. As far as introspection goes, I guess that's par for the course with you." Her face glowed with all the joy that ought to be there on this day. "But really, Carlisle, we were needed downstairs half an hour ago."

"So we were," he sighed. "Let us go, then. We'll toast and make merry and then we can kill Chief Swan's little girl after all." Carlisle was not usually sarcastic, though he was more so with Esme. He found it impossible not to empathize with the police chief. Carlisle remembered only too well the moment last year when he thought Edward, surely, would be gone from his life forever before the sun set in Tuscany. The pain had been paralyzing.

The sarcasm earned him another slap on the arm. He laughed and captured Esme's weapon to pull it through his elbow as they walked down the stairs. At the bottom, they were subjected to a flurry of commands and explanations by Alice, and then finally let to wander outside. Edward was standing stone-still with hands fisted, and Carlisle recognized it as a sign of nervousness. The youth's eyes skipped over Carlisle's, unreadable but deep, and Carlisle was left to wonder just how much of the conversation Edward had eavesdropped on after all. Edward, a good sixty feet away where the alter was set up (he had been there since early morning; the alter had been set up around him, mostly), dropped his gaze to the ground.

"That much, huh?"

"What?" Esme asked.

Carlisle laughed and flicked his head towards Edward, who was carefully avoiding their gaze. Esme made a sound between humor and surprise, and Edward's head dropped even lower.

"Come on, I think we have a reserved seat," Carlisle escorted Esme towards the alter. Some guests had already arrived. Esme took the aisle seat on the front, groom's side, and Carlisle sat next to her in the white folding chairs on the lawn. Edward stood not four feet in front of them, arduously ignoring them.

"It's not as if there's a reason to be nervous, Edward," Esme's soft voice interrupted the inelegant strains of a mockingbird. Edward glanced up at her and nodded, but then returned to his tense position. Carlisle laughed.

"Carlisle?" Edward's voice was very quiet.

What's upsetting you? Carlisle asked him silently.

"Thank you."

"Whatever for?"

Edward didn't answer and Carlisle let it lay, just as everything else had already, where it would.
 
 
Current Location: St. Paul, MN
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Current Music: Dead Meadow - At Her Open Door
 
 
 
There's no anecdote for ironykudosirony on July 14th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Oh, I liked this. There aren't many pieces from Carlisle's view and I always find his interesting when on the topic of Edward and Bella. Very nice; I liked his little bit of sarcasm with Esme.
dreameaters on July 17th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
Once again, you managed to create a wonderful piece, perfectly flowing. You are very gifted, as far as I know at least, with giving the right voices to the characters in the Twilight fandom.

Your Esme is perfect, and your Carlisle is too. You make out of a situation that's been written over and over again, something simple but true and earnest and I love it. This sounds more real than anything I've read on that particular day.

Amazing work!
Ash: Twillightashspark on July 28th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
This was really great, I loved Carlisle's perspective on Bella and Edward's wedding... You did a wondeful job, kudos for you!
Danger is my middle namenightsoftamara on August 7th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
That was soooo perfect. Carlisle and Esme's voices are just right, and Edward is the exactly the awkward, nervous groom I'd expect to see.