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Histories of lost souls

Summary:
The Cullens go on a journey to recover their forgotten memories. The reminders of the past heal the last scars in some, rip open old wounds in others. Each vampire has a history. My version of the Cullens' histories. With a twist.


Notes:
This story will be updated slowly. It's a little side-project of mine, so please don't expect new chapters every day. There will be one chapter for each of the Cullens (including Bella), a prologue and an epilogue. That makes 10 chapters in total. I know there are countless stories like this out there, so I tried to do it differently. Everything takes place after Eclipse.


2. Carlisle : London

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 3622   Review this Chapter

I looked out of the plane window and smiled at the view below me.

England's countryside hadn't changed much since my childhood. Sure, a farmer's job was not nearly as difficult as it was back then, but the soil was still the same, save the new chemicals most of these farmers utilized. The land was covered by fields of golden and green, the clear streams still trickled down the small slopes of the hills; here and there herds of cattle were visible. At moments like this I was glad of my accurate vampire vision; I could see even the tiniest details that were otherwise indistinguishable for the human eye- the dandelions that adorned the vast fields, the silver scales of the fish jumping out of the water to catch a fly, the children riding to school on their bicycles on the fine Wednesday morning.

The sun was covered by a thick layer of clouds, which suited me very well. A discourse with Alice had confirmed that I was able to move around feely during my entire visit. There would be no need for hiding.

After a very pleasant flight I landed at the new Heathrow airport. As I had expected, it took me over an hour to receive my luggage and to fight my way through the crowds of frustrated people. Chaos, as usual. That was what I loved about the English people. Their organization skills were often put aside when they were needed, but somehow they still managed. We managed; I scolded myself from differentiating myself from them. After all, I was an Englishman to the core. I was proud of my origins, no matter how the times had changed. The general sentiment remained unaffected by the centuries gone by.

Taking a cab to my hotel, I observed the sight around me. London, the very heart of England, had changed the most since my days there. The buildings were now gray and dull, the walls covered by 'art' kids called graffiti. When my taxi entered the better part of the city, the difference was startling. The houses were grand and old, guarding over expensive-looking fashion shops. The biggest distinction was in the people- The ladies here wore magnificent summer dresses while walking with their husbands dressed in silk suits. The wealthy, fortunate division of society, I recognized. Times were still the same.

My hotel was a larger building on the busiest street of London. I had purposely not reserved a room at the most imposing hotel in town, though Alice had still demanded that I stayed at a luxurious one. My room there was just a convenience; a place to store my spare clothes and books.

I dropped my baggage off in my senior suite and began the search for my past. I was elated by the knowledge that I would soon learn more about my lost life. Enough time had passed for the wounds to heal and I was thoroughly pleased with my life as it was, but the urge to recover my memories had always been there. I did not cry after it; I felt no will to return to that previous life. My trip was out of pure interest. Esme, Edward, Rosalie and the rest of my family all deserved to remember their histories, and in a way I hoped the acquaintance would help them understand the persons they came to be. I, too, wished to remember why I became what I did. How my personality was affected by my surroundings in my childhood and adolescence, and even in the short period of adulthood I had experienced before my transformation. Had I turned into a different man if my birth had occurred hundreds of years later?

The vague memories were still there. They were mere facts, black-and-white pictures that had faded after my transformation. The spirit in them was long gone. That was what I was ultimately looking for- the soul of my few memories. I wanted to clear out the analytic state my mind was in when it came to that phase of my existence, and simply feel. I wanted to remember the emotions behind my deeds.

The beginning was bound to be difficult. What place was the best to start? Many centuries divided me from my past; the most materials and evidence were most likely destroyed. I knew there were only a few places left where old items were treated with the care and respect they needed- Libraries and museums. I decided to begin with the latter.

It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for.

The Early Modern Period – Its People and Society

The museum was small, but I could tell it would hold what I was seeking for. The artifacts were all personal things- letters, books, tools… The general theme was the peasants of my time, the exact topic I wanted to learn more about. If I got lucky, maybe I'd find something that had belonged to my father or myself long ago.

The rooms were deserted as I stepped from one to the other, studying each item carefully. I walked at human speed, for cameras were watching my every move and I didn't want to attract attention. Not today. Besides, I didn't mind walking slowly. Though none of the objects at show had caught my eye yet, they still brought back many memories- The old gowns made me remember the fancy ladies that always hurried down the streets when alone, the silver mirrors with pearls reminded me of my mother, who had died at my birth. In a way it made me sad to see all these significant artifacts in such bad shape. 'Antique' was the name that humans used. Was I 'antique'? My immortal body was in perfect condition, even after all these years. I sighed at that thought. I was a little less breakable than the items in this room.

I came to a halt in front of the next entrance. The sign above my head informed me that I was now coming to the witch-hunt part of the exhibition. Another sigh escaped my lips. I had been hoping to find something that didn't refer to those particular dark times of my past. Something that didn't portray my father as a merciless killer of innocents.

But that time of my life had affected me the most, of that I was sure. I was a hypocrite if I wished to bury the unpleasant facts, and only concentrate on the agreeable ones. All the lives the trials had cost should not be forgotten. I entered the room without further hesitancy.

The memories that came to me now were less enjoyable. A big part of the items were letters or books on the subject, and the words in them were heartless. There were lists of people who had, for some unfathomable reason, been hunted down and 'exterminated' in the sense of freeing the world from monsters. Little did they know how critically they had failed at this task; I was only one example of many. The poor souls had been killed for nothing. It still stung my heart to know I had almost joined that group of hatred-filled men.

And then my eyes picked up a name from the opposite side of the room. I walked over to the glass case that stood against the wall. It was a letter, the elegant writing in faded ink almost illegible. Yet one name pounced at me from the parchment.

Signed, Pastor Gregory Cullen

My father. I had finally come across my first clue.

I read the letter through as well as I could with the faded words and ripped edges. It appeared to be addressed to the neighboring town's preacher, John Piggot. The first few paragraphs centered thoroughly on new suspicions of witches and vampires in town, making my insides lurch at the thought of the killed individuals. Their names, followed by long lists of rumors that had passed from mouth to mouth by unknowing peasants, haunted my conscience. It's not the shell that makes the monster, it's the mind. The sentence I had so often repeated to Edward in his days of self-hatred echoed through my head. Physically, there was no greater monster than the one I was, but humans were equally capable of causing destruction.

The rest of the letter moved on to sunnier themes- My father wrote about my mother, apparently in the last stages of her life, before my birth. The manner in which he spoke of her was distant, as I now saw from his words.

She lies in bed all day, the poor dear. Her strength is leaving her, and I am sorry to say she may soon join God in heaven. My wife has led a sinless life, as sinless as achievable by such corrupt beings. A fine woman she is! God bless her soul! The doctor says it will be a miracle if she survives long enough to give birth to the child she is carrying. If it is God’s wish, she will leave me with one final gift- an heir.

I leaned my hand against the glass, trying so hard to remember if just a glimpse of her. I closed my eyes, and pressed my forehead to the glass. But my mind was empty of every image that may have brought me answers as to her personality. My mother had died giving birth to me, of course I couldn’t remember! I wondered if she had been a kind person, if she had questioned my father’s actions the way I had. Had I inherited her character traits, or those of my father? Would she have loved me, had she lived? Was she watching down upon me now, and was she proud of what I had become, or disgusted by my very being?

"Pardon me, Sir, but is there something I can help you with?"

I turned to see who had brought me out of remembrance. A museum guide stood there, dressed in the black t-shirt with the words “Travel back in time” scrawled over the chest with white letters. He was smiling at me politely, waiting for my response.

“No thank you, I am just looking around.” I answered in my polite tone, eager to return to my search.

“Well, if you have a question about any of the items in the exhibition or simply want a little tour, don’t hesitate to ask.” The guide looked disappointed at my refusal, but turned around slowly and moved to the next room.

“Of course.” I mumbled a second too late, still distracted by the letter in the glass case. I smiled a little at the thought of learning something from that young man; I probably knew more about each object in the museum than he did, already. I should probably have given him a tour.

I supposed the room I was in would give me no answers, and followed the young man to the next part of the exhibition. The theme there seemed to be the art of the 17th century, as I noticed with relief. There should be no more uncomfortable surprises. All the walls were covered by different sized landscapes and portrays, each more valuable than the last. I walked through the narrow passages, gazing at the beautiful pictures before me. Art had always fascinated me; the way the painters were able to extract so much force and emotion into just one, motionless painting was unbelievable. It was a skill even a vampire could not acquire, not even with centuries of practice. Only talent was needed to paint something this beautiful.

As I turned another corner to meet yet another short corridor, one particular painting caught my eye.

The colors used in it were dark and gloomy, casting a mysterious atmosphere over the picture. I stepped closer to examine it more carefully. A young woman, no more than sixteen or seventeen of age, was tied at a stake while the fire licked her legs. Her face was twisted in a tortured expression, and she seemed to be pleading with the men surrounding her. The rest of the people were calmly watching the poor girl die, not doing anything to help or even questioning their motivations.

It was a typical painting for the 17th century. Any other human would have probably walked right passed it without a further thought.

But to me, that picture couldn’t have been more significant. I leaned against the wall, and let myself drift into my memories.

The market around me was chaotic. Men were fighting their way to the front of the crowd, trying to get even a glimpse of the scene. The faces of the men around me were composed, some closing their eyes and mumbling something under their breath.

The man closest to me was dressed in black and gripping a crucifix between his fingers. He, too, had his eyes closed and was murmuring inaudibly. The people behind me were shoving each other, shouting angry words when we wouldn’t let them through.

I turned to look at the sight before me.

A woman was tied to a long, wooden pillar, screeching at the top of her lungs. Her face was already dirty with ash; the thick smoke rose from her feet, building a menacing veil of gray over her trembling body.

“Please… please… I’m innocent! I am not a witch! Please!” She had to stop her screaming when she started to cough from the smoke that was nearly chocking her. In a way I hoped it did suffocate the young lady, as it would mean an end to her torture. The picture of her agonized expression was too much to bear.

The commotion around me continued even as the girl’s shrieking quieted. Death was now very close. I could only hope it would bring her salvation.

A voice in the back of my head contradicted my musings. The young lady was not an innocent, after all, but a worshipper of the dark crafts. God knows how many lives she had taken so far; her death was well deserved and compulsory, if we wanted to keep the city safe.

When the girl’s body finally fell limp, my father turned to face me. “Once again, we have done our duty and freed the world from yet another Devil’s servant.”

“But father, are you sure she was a witch? The evidence…” I wished to argue further, but was interrupted by the raise of my father’s hand.

“Silence, my son. That woman was a witch, and deserved the punishment she received. You must not listen to their screaming; they all say the same. You must learn this, Carlisle , as you will one day carry on my work.”

I looked back at the poor girl’s body, appalled by what I saw there. Her flesh had burned black; her face was still twisted in that horrible, agonized grimace. She was so young, not even my age…

And the men continued to stare as the last flames turned her bones to ash.

“Excuse me, sir? I’m afraid we are closing now. Sir?

The same guide was standing in front of me, gently nudging my shoulder. I opened my eyes, and noticed I was still in the same position, leaning against the wall with my arms hanging loose on the sides. I probably looked like I was sleeping.

Still shaken from the recovered memory, I smiled at the man politely and assured him I was leaving.

I walked out of the museum at human speed, not even having to think about controlling my pace. I could have called a cab, but decided I would rather walk after the terrifying memory. Nausea crept up my chest, and I was yet again glad to be a vampire, or the feeling would have surely erupted as vomit. My mind was in a haze, and my feet were only instinctively carrying me to my destination.

Eventually, the slight wind refreshed my face, freeing me from my trance-like state. I found my train of thought again.

The letter had been promising. It had given me some hope to find other qualities in my father than just the ridiculous paranoia. The way he had written about my mother had been distant, but at least his words had not been hate-filled. In the letter, he had sounded like a normal peasant of the 17th century, someone I would have accepted as my father.

But my newly recovered memory had contradicted all the kindness I had hoped he’d possessed. The image of the girl’s burnt and shriveled body was still etched in my mind, and my father’s words still echoed in my ears. “That woman was a witch, and deserved the punishment she received…”

That young girl had not been a witch, or a bad person in any other way. My father had killed an innocent.

And I had let him.

I had already reached my hotel, and now stood outside in the slight humidity, trying to clear my thoughts. My search results had not been pleasant, even enlightening. I had always known what a horrible life I had led before my transformation; the new memory only intensified its aftertaste.

With my search, I had hoped to find out more.

But did I really want to know more? What other forgotten, gruesome memories were locked away from my reach?

Maybe that was where they belonged- Away from my conscience.

I made up my mind, and entered hotel. The receptionist greeted me with a smile, and the simple gesture brought me back to reality. What did it matter what I was back then? My character was the way it was, and no happenings from an earlier century could change the way I regarded myself. My transformation had meant a new birth, a new chance at life. By learning about my past, I was only freeing demons I had locked away long ago. I had a new life, so utterly different from my last one, so much happier than any monster’s should be. I had a family, a wife…

Esme. I had not talked to her since yesterday at the airport, where she had boarded her plane to Columbus. I longed to share my burdens with her, to discuss my new insight with the one person who understood me better than I did myself.

I reached for my cell phone and dialed her number. She picked up before the first ring.

“Hello?” Her voice already took away some of the ghastly images in my mind. I smiled.

“Hello, Esme. How is your search going?”

“Well, I haven’t found much yet, but I’m working on it. How about yours?”

“I was at a museum today. They had a letter from my father there.”

“Really? That must have been great! Did it teach you anything new?”

“No, not really. But it was nice to read, nevertheless.”

“Are you all right, Carlisle? You sound a little upset.”

Of course my wife could perceive my every emotion, even through the phone. “You are right. I am a little upset at one of the memories I managed to recover. From one of the witch-hunts with my father.”

There was a pause at the other end of the line. Esme’s voice sounded worried as she finally spoke again. “I’m sorry. Is it bothering you? I’m sure you still have plenty of happy memories waiting to be discovered. Don’t let one bad one get you down! You are a wonderful person, and have always been one. We all have our inner demons.” My wife chuckled at her choice of words, causing me to smile at the purity of the sound.

“Thank you, Esme. But I think you sound like you need help with your quest. May I join you?”

“Carlisle, you don’t need to stop because of me…”

“It’s not because of you. I just think I’m finished here.”

And I was done. What else could I recover? My unconscious certainly still hid many memories, but what new would they teach me? I didn’t need to see every witch-hunt I had ever participated in, and what other evils my mind had forgotten after my change. One was enough to confirm my suspicions- My life as a vampire was more praiseworthy than my life as a human.

“Very well. There’s an extra bed in my hotel room.”

I laughed. Neither of us really needed a bed of any sort.

“See you soon, then!”

We said our goodbyes, and I hung up. The tickets would be no problem; my golden eyes and unnaturally flawless features were usually enough to find me a seat in even the fullest of plains.

My search was over; there was no doubt in that. Sure, I had plenty left to find.

But sometimes, it was simply better to forget.

I had not been a better person as a human. Nor had I been a worse one. Maybe my decision to live off animal blood was as linked to my past as I had guessed, and my determination that I had so often been mocked for was a reflection of my irresolution as a young man. Already then I had mistrusted my father’s motivations, seen the coldness in his eyes. I had not believed I had a choice, but that I had to walk the path my father had arranged for me. As a vampire, I had noticed my second choice, and known what course to take.

I had chosen right. London had not changed much since my childhood there; only the people had. The ghosts of past sins still haunted the city, yet most people chose to ignore them. I, on the other hand, had been aware of my own demons ever since my transformation, and I had accepted them.

I did not need to remember. I already knew.

I grabbed my bag and checked out of my hotel, one week early. The receptionist stared at me in disbelief, but filled out all the necessary forms without further ado.

Ohio was waiting for me.

Excited to see my wife again, I hummed all the way to the airport.