Sooooooo... this is something that has been lingering in the back of my head for a while. I finally decided, 'fuck it' and ended up writing it, and actually having a lot of fun with it.

Some brief context: I have a complicated relationship with Twilight. Loved it when I was twelve, insisted on hating it when I was an edgy teenager, and revisiting it now that I'm an adult. It has its problems, of course, but I still have my nostalgia for it. Most of my problems with Twilight can be traced to Bella and how bland she is, especially with how Edward and Bella's relationship is so fast moving, with both of them deciding they're in love after such a short time. It just didn't do it for me.

Which means, here I am, unashamedly using the characters to write my own little thing. This was inspired by my anger at Edward for being a bad literary scholar when it came to Romeo and Juliet in New Moon. Romance in this story is going to be extremely slow burn, with most of it focusing on friendship to start out with.

I am also going to change the vampire lore a little bit, because wow, a lot of things don't make sense in Twilight. Mostly it has to do with physical attributes. People may be stupid, but golden eyes would kind of be a tip off to someone being not human. In my version, the vampires keep their original eye colour, but in sunlight, their eyes will be red (because really, animals don't have different blood to people that would result in golden eyes), which gives them more reason to avoid the sun than just looking like they dived in glitter.

Also I racebent some of the characters, because I can, and no one can stop me. Alice is of Chinese descent and Emmett is African-American. I think this also makes it more believable for people to just accept that the Cullen kids are dating each other. My other main problem with Twilight was just how white it was, which was kind of alienating as a girl of colour, so here I am, like 14 years later...

Ummm, enjoy?


The rain outside the classroom's window captivated the students much more effectively than the words of Mr. Duval. An impressive feat considering the omnipresence of both. The elderly English teacher ignored the fact that many of the students in the back seat were still recovering from their naps (courtesy of the film they had just watched) and continued to talk. "And… um… what would you say is the greatest tragedy of this story?" he asked, to make his droning seem like more of a discussion than a lecture. No one raised their hands despite his soft cough and the awkward silence in the air. "Mr. Cullen?" He finally turned to the boy seated by the window in the front row.

Edward Cullen, already prepared, smiled softly, drumming his pianist fingers on his desk as if he were contemplating the question. "I believe the greatest tragedy of this story is Heathcliff's inability to protect the woman he loves. Despite the lengths he goes to be with her, he ends up killing Catherine, punished as such by spending the rest of his life haunted by her."

"Excellent. Thank you Mr. Cullen. Now, on to the imagery in the final scene…" Edward normally tuned out the babble of minds around him, but when a room full of people were remarking on the same thing, it was hard not to notice. Mr. Duval eventually caught on to the hand that was raised. "Oh, do you have a question, Miss Verma?"

"Um. I'm sorry." Edward half turned in his seat to see a tiny presence in the back of the classroom: a presence he'd never noticed before, utterly mouselike. "But isn't the greatest tragedy in this book the way that Heathcliff and Catherine hurt everyone around them?"

Everyone in the class only gave the girl blank stares. She pushed up her thick glasses, and continued speaking frantically. "I mean, in the movie, Hareton, Cathy, and Linton don't really exist, but in the book, Heathcliff tortures them. And what about Isabella? Heathcliff is a really bad husband to her, even though she gives up everything to be with him. Catherine's not really better with how she treats Edgar…" she trailed off and looked to the ground. What remained unsaid rattled Edward. Heathcliff and Catherine aren't the victims, they're the villains. Why are we acting like they're the only ones who matter?

Mike Newton was the first to snicker. A few others joined him. All wondered at the weird girl who never spoke freaking out over a dumb book. Edward realised that most of them didn't even know of the characters she spoke of, only basing their knowledge of Bronte's novel on the 1939 film they'd just watched that specifically excluded Catherine and Heathcliff's children with their respective spouses. Perhaps they weren't there because Miss Verma's point was quite damning to the tragic love story that most people, including Edward, liked to focus on.

The girl didn't realise this and shrunk further in her seat, her head beginning to fill with anxiety-ridden thoughts and regrets for having spoken up. "Um… interesting point, Miss Verma," Mr. Duval said over the giggles. "Now, on the imagery of storms..."

Edward directed his gaze to the front but was listening intently to the girl's mind, his curiosity piqued. This girl, Verma, was in his grade, but he had never noticed her until now, her mind not standing out to him at all. He could see why. Immediately after the attention faded from her, she blanked out, focusing intensely on the teacher's words, as if trying to shove the negative thoughts in her mind to the back.

When the bell rang, the other students seemed to have forgotten about her. She certainly did a good job of being discreet when grabbing her things and leaving class. Edward watched her go with a frown. He knew he should have put it out of his mind, but he couldn't help but follow her to where he'd heard her decide to go. Naturally, he didn't go into the girls' bathroom, but lingered outside where he could hear her have the panic attack she'd been suppressing in class.

Now, this wasn't the first time Edward had encountered a person with anxiety. Being a mind reader exposed him to all sorts. But he felt responsible for this particular case. Even though he knew it was a minor thing to get upset over, he saw that the girl thought she had just made a fool of herself. He didn't want her to stifle the intelligence he saw in her response because of an inept teacher and cruel classmates.

That was why, the next day, he managed to convince himself to approach the lone girl sitting in the corner of the cafeteria and seat himself across from her. He ignored the curious thoughts from every direction, particularly from where his siblings were seated.

She looked up from the food and books strewn beside her with big dark eyes. Up close and isolated, she smelled warm and honey-sweet. The only thing he could liken her to was the scent of a rich mead or sweet wine. It was a good thing he had hunted recently.

He heard the clash of thoughts in her mind: thoughts of it being a cruel joke, recognition of his attractiveness, and reminders of the other day in class, before she settled on plain confusion again.

He smiled, hoping to put her at ease. That only made her more uncomfortable. He heard her contemplate fleeing. "I was thinking a lot about the point you made in class yesterday." She froze at that. "About the way Heathcliff and Catherine treat people."

"Oh… sorry. I didn't mean to… um… take away from your interpretation," she said quietly.

But Edward could read her mind. He saw that she thought of his idea as shallow, which was what drew her ire enough to refute his point. "My interpretation is an outdated one," he confessed. "I took Heathcliff's perspective for granted and didn't challenge him. So I wanted to thank you."

When she realised he hadn't sat down to ridicule her, she brightened considerably, smiling to reveal braces. He felt a jolt of relief to see her cheer up after how down she had seemed. "My name is Edward," he introduced himself, outstretching his hand.

"I knew that," she said and blushed. "I mean, I know everyone's name. In my classes at least." She took his hand and shook it quickly. She was surprised by the cold, but she didn't show it on her face. When she saw that he was looking at her expectantly, she said, "I'm Alia."

"Alia," he repeated. He finally had a name. All her classmates had simply referred to her as a loser, or Verma. "What are you reading?"

That was the right question to ask, though he knew from her thoughts, she was eager to show him the cover of Agnes Grey, written by the least famous Bronte sister, Anne Bronte. "Wuthering Heights made me want to read everything from the Brontes," she confessed. "I think this is my favourite so far."

"I haven't read it yet," Edward confessed. "Would you lend it to me once you're finished?"

Oh. That's what friends do. But he couldn't want to be my friend, could he? "Um, sure." The shyness seemed to overtake her once more as she looked at her food. Edward felt as if he had lost all the progress he had made in reaching out to this lonely, friendless girl.

"What did you think of Jane Eyre?" he asked in a last ditch effort to reach her again.

"If Heathcliff's bad, Rochester is the worst!" Some of the fire was back.

"What did Rochester do?" he asked, surprised despite himself. He was one of the more admirable Victorian romantic leads, certainly not as tortured as Heathcliff.

"He locked his wife up in his attic," Alia said incredulously.

"Fair," Edward admitted with a grin.

"Um… how'd you know I'd already finished Jane Eyre?" she asked.

Edward only took a split second before responding. "If you're on Anne's work, you must have already finished Charlotte's."

She accepted that. It was easy to draw her into conversation about those books. Though her views were unconventional, Edward enjoyed them. They were so different from how he'd read those novels. He saw quickly that Alia had a critical mind, one that was severely neglected at Forks High School. Obviously, he was on her level as he had completed his education several times, but she was only a ninth grader. She could have been in an advanced program if she wasn't in such a small town.

Those topics could wait until another day, when she was more comfortable. He surprised himself with that thought. Was he going to talk to her again? When the bell rang, and Alia shyly waved goodbye before going to her next class, Edward was joined by a bouncing Alice. Tell me all about her!

"I think I made a friend." Edward said, surprising even himself.