This is my family.
Every Anna Kendrick Movie → Twilight (2009) as Jessica Stanley
He was everywhere. The piercing sunlight turned my eyelids red, and the color fit, matched the heat. The heat was everywhere. I couldn’t see or hear or feel anything that wasn’t Jacob. The tiny piece of my brain that retained sanity screamed questions at me. Why wasn’t I stopping this? Worse than that, why couldn’t I find in myself even the desire to want to stop? What did it mean that I didn’t want him to stop? That my hands clung to his shoulders, and liked that they were wide and strong? That his hands pulled me too tight against his body, and yet it was not tight enough for me? The questions were stupid, because I knew the answer: I’d been lying to myself. Jacob was right. He’d been right all along. He was more than just my friend. That’s why it was so impossible to tell him goodbye - because I was in love with him. Too.
Oh yeah, can’t say I’m a fan of that pairing, and I do feel like most of the stories don’t do the characters justice because they usually just write it off as “oh Carlisle and Esme weren’t really in love” or “Esme left Carlisle and the kids to run off with someone else” which are both really… out of character. Esme would never leave her family. That’s just not Esme. Her gift is loving devotion. And Carlisle who is so moral and righteous that he’s a vampire who has never killed anyone, still believes in God, and was celibate for nearly 300 years is going to up and cheat on his wife of 90 years with some random high school girl he just met?
I totally respect people’s right to ship non-canon ships. But I think these stories are better when you start with canon and then jump off rather than just dismiss canon and characterization as irrelevant. Honestly I’d prefer an “Esme died” Bellisle story to “the last 90 years they spent together was meaningless, Bella is his ‘true mate’ because reasons.”
Plus Esme as a character has SO much room for personal interpretation that I wish she got used more in fanfic. In some ways she’s almost as much as a blank slate as Bella, but she also has this really heart-breaking back story to build from. Totally get why people prefer Carlisle over Edward, but don’t see why they want him with Bella instead of Esme. I know some people think Esme is ‘boring’ but running away from your abusive husband in 1920, while pregnant, is not ‘boring’ and takes a lot of courage. And Esme fought just as hard for her baby as Bella did for Nessie, and Esme didn’t even like her baby’s father.
I think Esme’s strong enough, and I think most of the family thinks she’s strong enough, but I don’t know if Esme herself thinks she strong enough. She was in an abusive marriage for several years and that can really do a number on your self-esteem. I want to say there’s some SM quote somewhere about how Esme doesn’t get out so much, not because she doesn’t want to, but she doesn’t trust herself with the bloodlust.
The fact that Esme has slipped up is at once really terrifying (she’s so NICE! How could someone so nice kill someone? THAT shows just how hard it is to resist the instinct better than anything in Breaking Dawn where it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all to Bella), and really sad. Because as you said, Carlisle’s her mate (although I think she’d rather call him her husband, and he for sure would rather call her his wife). It’s one thing when the ‘kids’ fail to live up to Carlisle’s example: we all disappoint our parents from time to time. But imagine being married to the one vampire who has never killed anyone, never slipped up, managed to conquer the bloodlust completely (a doctor for crying out loud)…and then come home and look at him with red eyes because you screwed up.
She could still be traumatized because of her past mistakes and doesn’t want to risk it. Children get hurt all the time and in unexpected ways and she can’t just flee the room like she did in New Moon with Bella’s accident, at least not without it drawing attention (“Mrs. Cullen, care to tell us why you left 15 6-year-olds unattended? While one was injured?”). Accidentally killing an adult is bad enough, accidentally killing a child would be a hundred times worse for someone like Esme who is so maternal and suffered the loss of her own child.
I think she could do it, but someone has to convince Esme herself that she can. I like to think Carlisle’s been trying.
“It took some time before I began to blame the beauty for what had happened to me—for me to see the curse of it. To wish that I had been…well, not ugly, but normal. Like Vera. So I could have been allowed to marry someone who loved me, and to have pretty babies. That’s what I really wanted, all along. It still doesn’t seem like too much to have asked for.”
Oh, definitely, the blood is the major issue. The sunlight is something that could be worked around with enough thought and effort. I think the sun sensitivity thing is definitely the way to go, if she wore long gloves and a big enough hat she could get to and from her car okay.
But I sort of wonder if Esme is so afraid of the blood issue that she falls back on the sun excuse. When Carlisle’s like: “I believe you are strong enough, you can do it!” Esme is like, “oh I don’t know… and there’s the sun problem… maybe I should wait…”
I think she’d be a great teacher though. She’s so warm and accepting and nurturing. But we don’t really have a good sense of her control from the books/movies. She doesn’t have a perfect record like Carlisle and Rosalie (and Bella, although since Bella’s only been a vampire for 3 months, you can’t really compare…), and she did have to leave the room in New Moon… so she might be ready yet.
"Then you have Rosalie, who doesn’t like what she is, but she’s gonna be better than anyone else anyway, because that’s what she does." - Stephenie Meyer
The thing with Carlisle is that he’s way older than the others, so in terms of self-improvement he’s made more progress. He’s not perfect, but he has had 350 years to work on himself and his flaws.
I think in his early days he was more preachy and judgmental, I think he kind of honestly thought vampires would be thrilled to find out they didn’t have to kill people after all and was kind of shocked/horrified when they all didn’t rejoice at his ‘good news.’ I think he’s learned to just sort of show the way by example rather than try to evangelize the vampire world. But although he doesn’t say so out loud and he tries not to think ill of them, I think there is some judgement there. ”How can you kill people? How can you not see that it’s WRONG?”
Which is another thing: he is absolutely 100% convinced that he is right about this. He will not be swayed from this path. Not by his vampire friends, not by the Volturi, not by Edward, not by anyone. If the Cullens all took a vote and decided they wanted to hunt humans or drink blood from the hospital, Carlisle would still refuse. If they find out an animal-blood diet can only sustain you for 500 years and in another 150 Carlisle starts wasting away and dying, he’s still not going to do it. And I think this is his inheritance from his father: this stubborn adherence to a particular belief. Thankfully Carlisle’s focusing that zealotry in a much more positive way than his father did and he doesn’t violently impose his beliefs on others.
I think he can retreat into himself when he’s upset rather than reach out to others. He loves to help other people with their problems (witness the 2719312 times Edward is all “I have to talk to Carlisle about that” or runs to him for advice/guidance/comfort) but he doesn’t want help with is own problems. I think it drives Esme nuts sometimes that when something is bothering Carlisle he just says “I’m fine” and heads to his study to be alone for awhile as he tries to sort it out on his own. And he demands more from himself than he does from others. He can forgive the other Cullens their mistakes, but I don’t think he could ever have forgiven himself had he slipped up.
Obviously has a bit of a God complex but again, I think he’s learned to temper that. Rosalie was a harsh lesson. Edward worked out well, Esme worked out even better, so of course he was thinking he was on the right track with this ‘saving people from death via vampirism’ thing, and then the whole Rosalie thing blows up in his face and he has to look at himself and realize he had kind of let it go to his head thinking he knew what would be best for these people and oh God what have I done? So he swears he’ll never do it again, that it’s not his place to play God, and then Rosalie shows up with this big random dying guy none of them know from Adam (he could be an escaped murderer for all they know) and demands that Carlisle save him. And he caves, because he feels he owes it to Rosalie, and it works out great for everyone, but he doesn’t change people anymore. I’m sure there have been times since 1935 that he has been tempted, but he looked at himself and looked at Rosalie and won’t do it anymore. There’s a certain pride/arrogance that comes with thinking you are meant to save the world, but he indulges that tendency in a healthy way via his doctoring.
There’s a widely-held idea in fandom that he plays favorites with Edward, but I don’t know that we can say that with any certainty given the bias of Bella’s (and Edward’s in MS) narration. Bella’s focus is always Edward, so she sees how Carlisle and Esme interact with Edward but not necessarily what is going on with Carlisle and the other ‘kids.’ There’s also the fact that Edward demands more attention and focus in this part of his life because he’s going through a lot with all this Bella drama, so we can’t really say if this ”favoritism” for Edward is normal for the Cullens or a result of the extraordinary circumstances. I tend to think there probably is a little favoritism there—Edward has been with Carlisle the longest—but not the exaggerated ‘omg anything for Edward/Edward is always right!” way that is often portrayed in fanfic. Carlisle’s not totally blind to Edward’s flaws and the whole leaving in NM wasn’t just “it’s what Edward wants” but also because Carlisle kind of agrees that vampirism is a less-than-ideal existence and Bella deserved a chance at a human life. Carlisle left Columbus after meeting Esme for the first time, after all.
A Twilight AU where Bella and Edward don’t exist, and it’s just the other Cullens.
I’d read it in a heartbeat.