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Bridging The Gap

Summary:
The story of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen is very well known. However, what about that of the heart and soul of the Cullen family?
The vague outline of Esme's human life, put forward by Stephanie Meyer, leaves a lot to the imagination.
What happens between each of these guidelines? What is the attraction between the eternally youthful pair, the glue that holds them together?

When Esme Platt jumped from the cliff in 1921, she thought she had nothing left to live for. As she goes through the fiery transformation, and comes out the other side she finds two men who will forever change her outlook on the life she lost.

When the worlds of the preternatural and humans collide what are the aftereffects? A continuing story of pain, love and learning to trust the world once again. Continues through the Pre-Twilight life of the Cullen "parents."
Canon, EsmexCarlisle,


Notes:


6. Pity And Fear

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3445   Review this Chapter

" We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy."
- Walter Anderson

*****

Esme POV

A Week Later.

A cry bubbled in my throat, only to be caught by the cotton pillow upon the bed on which I lay. The same bed I had awoken upon from the fire a week ago. Eight insignificant days had passed by since my awakening, seven days from the occasion when the whole of my new life fell apart. Throughout those days I have done little but observe as the sun, hidden behind the heavy, dusty drapes that were spread haphazardly across the small window rose early morning and lowered at evening, much quicker than I would have liked to hope. The power that had run in my muscles on that fateful first day was absent, leaving me a quivering, weak mess overruled by the furnace in my throat that had taken its place.

I inhaled, causing the short, keening sound of a lost breath to pass through the stiff air of the room. From the fibers of the linen my face was pressed against, came a perfume of a cloying honey and crisp wood. Instead of being the balm of comfort I so often believed it to be, it only seemed like a knife of mistrust to my heart. It had become, over the past week, a constant yet unwanted companion, just another reminder of the different man who had returned from the hospital that morning. The pine needles tapping against the window, the brief movements of the two men in the house and the passing of the weather were the only indications that the world outside was still moving. Without these, I would have just crawled in on myself like I can remember doing many years before.

"Esme, please let me in," a voice from outside the door pleaded, through the gap under the door came a sweet taste mixed with oak of the door. "I am so sorry," Carlisle beseeched, once again. The man outside the door took two quiet breaths before his footsteps faded. The door downstairs opened and shut in quick succession, indicating his departure for work, and the sobs once again wracked through me.

*****

When Carlisle left that night a week ago I had wished for the clock to turn faster, only stopping myself physically from turning the hands myself in an entirely futile way of passing time. During the course of the night Edward had informed me of everything that Carlisle had been kind enough to leave out. I was told of the rules and beliefs of our kind, and Carlisle in particular. I exposed a large degree about the mysterious young bronze haired man and also found that once I opened up, the memories could not be stopped. So, even as I lay here now, they plagued me as hazy silhouettes and unclear conversations.

I had learnt that Edward was changed a mere three years prior to me when Carlisle had found him suffering from the Spanish Influenza. I found out that although they may play happy family, most of the time, Edward still held a quantity of resentment when it came to Carlisle's decision. Something which I could not, or had yet to, feel towards the blonde man. I also managed to get the gist of Carlisle's scant existence before he met the person he now calls his son. I found out that he had never drunk human blood; he had been turned in his line of duty to his father, and had tried repeatedly to end his life. It made me think about the pain he must have been in throughout that time. I can just remember the pain I was in when I jumped. However, I had not comprehended suicide until my feet were ready for the act itself. Yet to repeatedly try to commit suicide, especially when it happened to someone who was as good as I knew, deep down, Carlisle was, was something way beyond my comprehension.

When the sun had risen in the morning, bringing with it a guarantee of new surprises, I had retired to the room at the top of the stairs. I had expected a blanket of lethargy to pass over my body after the increasingly long day, the only emotions that did pass was vigor in my muscles and hopefulness for the place I had been brought. His footsteps were the first to reach me, a symphony skipping over the rough, sharp bracken that carpeted the vast forest's floor, his scent and the quiet rhythm of his breaths followed shortly after.

The brass that formed the door handle downstairs had complained quietly as too much pressure was applied to the meager object. Without much notice the door had crashed open, hitting the wall it hung on with a great haste, the eerie familiarity of the movement and the noise of the situation made time stand still. The customary tick of the grandfather clock that had made up for my invisible heartbeats as it steadily tracked the time, albeit slowly, stopped. As did the progression of water running down the window pane that I had counted as I surpassed each word on the book I found in Carlisle's large collection.

The glow of the previously lit lamp, which submersed the small hallway of the second floor with a warm radiance, surrounded his head. With his angelic colored hair and ethereally, beatific face it would have ordinarily resembled a halo of light, shining from his core and becoming akin to how, I believe, his soul would appear. However, as he stood by the wooden threshold of the door, the beams of light helped with little but highlighting the murderous glare that was shown across his face while it bathed it in the shadow, his eyes becoming as dark as a stormy night. Unconsciously, my stance portrayed the wince that passed over my face as I noticed the commonness of the look, but the differences between each face I had ever seen it upon. His footsteps created a threatening knock against the creaky floorboards, which resembled the way my heart should have beaten unhealthily against my ribs. Yet, when I expected them to continue, and awaited one of his gnarled hands to rise to strike my face, nothing, in fact, did appear. When I looked back at him, through a barrier of squinted eyes, all I saw was a grown man tremble unsteadily on his feet, swiftly falling to his knees in an act of mercy. The feral snarl he had been holding within came through the teeth, twisting his mouth into an ugly formation, his forehead wrinkling out of rage before his head fell to his hands. A similar vulnerability that I had shown in the forest soon came from the strong man on his knees before me when he had started to sob.

I had called his name then, and despite all my brain's warnings that he was unhinged, and that I had been in the position to witness that kind of anger before, I moved forwards and joined him on the floor. Once next to him the panic that I had held at bay so far ran from me, my breaths becoming ragged as I looked down upon a man much bigger than myself. I had touched his arm, pulling relentlessly to try and get him to his feet, hoping among all other hopes that it was the correct thing to do. I had pulled once again and his eyes shot up to meet mine, where I wished for the golden seas that I had once floated in, and those that his son possessed, there was nothing but darkness. The raging battle that had possessed him was still uncontrollable within.

I was on my feet without any necessary urges and yet he stared compelled at my face, his eyebrows never lifting from his eyes and never lightening the shadowy sea contained within. His left hand had moved then, fingers trembling as it neared my face. With each millimeter that his forefinger had moved it was accompanied by the loss of one brick in the dam of my memories. Everything Charles threw towards me and all the times he had hit or slapped my face, everything had always stemmed from his hands. A hand similar to that which had come towards my face and once within touching distance the redeemer within me had me back away from the definite threat.

As I watched, his blonde hair dirtied to a brown, his golden eyes became a grimy almost black and the picture of bemusement that graced his youthful face soon became a twisted version of abhorrence on the face I loathed.

"Esme?" my name ran from his lips, yet I could not differentiate which was saying it. All I did, in fact, comprehend was that the perceived threat was slowly getting to his feet. A familiar plea for my safety left my mouth and yet, he still came forward, tracking me backwards so I became trapped within the confines of a corner, an easy catch for the hunter.

The peril stood still watching me, an unknown expression on the stranger's face. "Please," I sobbed to God and the man before me, "leave me alone. Don't hurt me."

Soon, I was alone and the dam burst, flooding my conscious with memories that ran through my brain like water with no means of halting its path. From then on, I have done nothing but lay on the bed that was in the room. I have stayed here even through the constant, kind requests of Edward from outside my door and, hardest of all, Carlisle's broken whimpers asking for my forgiveness and pleas to remove myself from my haven.

At once the difference between the man who was in the room with me on that fateful day and the man I left well enough alone a year ago appeared. Locking the door when I was married to Charles contributed to nothing except an angrier husband as he would crash through the wood, reducing it to little more than kindling. Yet, even though the room was not locked now, and Carlisle had a strength that overpowered Charles tenfold I was still as much alone as I wished to be.

The footsteps of someone on the stairs broke me out of my mood induced daydream, and as they came closer to the top of the staircase through the oak of the door I could taste the floral aroma of Edward. It was a nightly ritual to return to his room once his father retired to the hospital, in which time, he would read, I found the rhythmic turning of his pages at night calming. He would sometimes listen to the phonograph or run downstairs to play something he must have just memorized. However, today was different. Where he would often turn right at the stairs to travel a little along the corridor, tonight he stopped outside my door. I heard him take a steadying breath, before the doorknob creaked in an anticlockwise direction, the door opening softly to show the tall young man I could not stop myself from cringing away from.

His tall, lanky yet overly lean form looked dwarfed in the doorway. His bronze hair and eyes, which were just a little darker than molten syrup, sparkled in the darkness of an unlit house. His posture seemed detached as his arms folded lithely across his slim chest, a smile of greeting lifted at his lips. I stared at him dubiously, doubting why after one week of my pitiful misery he now bridged the gap into my room. He raised his perfectly arched eyebrows slightly, an expectation, for what I did not know. He shrugged his pointed shoulders slightly, becoming little than a blur of white and copper before he stood tall a foot in front of me.

"I do not care if you hate me for this, Esme," he mumbled, and after taking an unnecessary steadying breath he lifted me carefully onto my feet as if I resembled a small child. "Enough is enough," he added quietly, steering me quickly with a firm grip through the desolate and dark house. Upon reaching the forest he grasped my hand, my small fingers becoming lost in the mass of his larger ones.

"We will help you Esme, but only if you let us. You cannot begin to comprehend how bad Carlisle feels, and all he wished for is to aid you and apologize face to face. You should let him," he spoke with an air that seemed incompatible with his adolescent looks. His feet maneuvered over the fallen logs as my body flew along in his wake, as if my feet did not touch the grimy floor. The forest that once seemed secretive now resembled a haunting picture of mystery that I did not enjoy.

"I do not know if I can," I mumbled pitifully, admitting my weakness to a boy young enough that he should not feel the burden of my pain. My voice seemed croaky due to lack of use over the past week.

"Try," he answered, as if it were the easiest answer in the world.

The bracken cracked somewhere in the east, a soft paw thudding upon the soft, moist ground. The liveliness in my muscles bloomed as my throat pulsed, driving my legs towards the animal.

*****

As we approached the house after the long hunt, the chill breeze that blew against us brought a smattering of leaves, their sharp edges felt like silk against my skin, and a familiar scent came with it. From the living room I could hear the warm crackle of a log burning in a blaze from within the large fireplace, a welcoming pillow of smoke appeared from the chimney. A book was placed down in the front room, as a quick, shallow breath was pulled in through someone's mouth. My feet faltered to a stop, as if the man in there was blocking me from continuing.

"Trust me, Esme," Edward whispered from somewhere behind me. He nudged the small of my back with an impatient hand, pushing me towards the undesirable place. "Carlisle would never do what you accuse him of, especially not to you." Where my heart told me to believe the man that had switched to pulling me towards the house, my brain was not so forgiving.

The ever welcoming warmth of the family room, with the light from the lamp and the heat of the fire, never felt so inhospitable. Carlisle sat at the worn sofa, staring into the fire so the light danced off his now golden irises. The audible gulp that made my throat quiver broke the awkward silence that hung between the pair of us before I turned, attempting to run for the refuge of that one room.

"Esme, please talk to me," his voice sounded so unsure, so vulnerable it made my feet falter on their constant path up the staircase. I turned slightly to see him not looking at me but still at the fireplace. Edward had melted away into the shadows on the raised platform by the front door, and yet his golden eyes shone through the darkness, a quiet reminder that he was there.

Unconscious to what my head was shouting at me, my feet turned and walked slowly towards the man the pleading had initially issued from. I perched on the sofa he was also sat on, yet as far away as the soft leather chair could provide, crossing my arms over my stomach in a defensive position I learned years ago.

"I am so, so sorry," he mumbled, still not turning to look at me. "I'm sorry I scared you, sorry I hurt you, I'm so sorry." The fire licked once again at the logs throwing a spark of light to cross the room, highlighting the downturn of Carlisle's lips and eyebrows and the pain that colored his eyes. "You have to know that I will never hurt you. I could never bring myself to see you in any harm. I feel terrible for putting you through the pain of the transformation, and if I could have taken it all away I would, but it is not something I was capable of doing. However, to then do something so heinous like I did, I cannot watch you cry," his words were cut off with a visible sob. His shoulders hunched before his head dropped to his palm, his soft blonde hair falling over his eyes.

"Please Esme, forgive me," each word was muffled by his palm, before finally he turned to look at me, his eyes burned a delicious dark topaz and I felt the melancholy that his words possessed. "I will beg, Esme, plead, I will do anything I can to earn your trust back." Before I looked at him he was on his knees on the floor in front of me, his eyes boring into mine, so I had no thoughts left but to trust him.

He placed his hands softly on my bare knees and my body turned to jelly at his touch. Falling forward and into his arms I leant my head against his shirt collar. "I'm sorry," I cried, all the weeping that I thought I had expelled without his presence once again resurfaced.

"You have nothing to apologize for," he contradicted me gently, his arms contracting around my pitiful form securely. Without jostling me too much, he stood and seated himself swiftly on the chair next to me, continuing to hold me to his chest, as he pressed his chin atop my head.

"Can you forgive me, Esme?" he asked gently, his voice as smooth as butter as he vocal chords quivered against my head. The warmth of his hand molded to my cheek, as he softly tipped my face to look at him. It was unconscious how I leant into his palm, but it seemed instinctual and a missed indulgence from that week.

My fingers touched his cheekbone; his skin like silk stretched tightly over his prominent bone structure. My quiet heart leapt as he closed his eyes, a beautiful half moon appearing as his light brown eyelashes touched the slight shadow under his closed eye, while he exhaled slightly, as if he could just now breathe easily. "I forgive you," the words came automatically from my mouth, yet I was left in no doubt that I believed them the truth.

His lips twitched at first, as if the muscles in his face were trying not to convey what my words had meant to him. While his smile became more prominent, he closed his eyes tighter together, creases appearing above his eyebrows. Without having to move too much I found his lips pressed, almost roughly, against my forehead where it met my hair. He inhaled heavily, the muscles of his abdomen quivering against my arm, as his lips twitched into another smile.

He tucked me carefully under his arm, the fingers of his spare hand moved in soothing motions along my opposite forearm. The fire crackled cheerfully, spitting sparks like confetti, as the blazes of warmth and light blanketed us as we bathed in the newly peaceful surroundings. The scent that I had started the day being terribly afraid of was now a delightful companion as it wrapped securely around me, holding me to the owner's chest. The hands that had scared me only a week prior to tonight seemed like nothing more than a gentle brush as his fingers ran in shapes on my bare skin. The man that I had been scared of was not the man that I sat with, I do not even believe he was buried somewhere in him.

As the light outside the window reached its optimum height above the green leaves of the towering trees, Edward joined us. He smiled slightly at the pair of us, before a satisfactory smirk flickered over his mouth, a playful glint becoming visible within his eyes as they met mine. The music that I had heard from Edward's fingertips every night, my faithful friend during the night hours, swam around the room. As Carlisle pressed another chaste kiss to my temple, I smiled into the orange light of the glowing hearth. It seemed that the unspeakable sin of suicide had granted me more than ever should have been allowed. Was it possible that after ten years of searching for God he had found me?