"I forbid ye maidens all
That wear gold in your hair
To come or go by Carterhaugh
For young Tam Lin is there"
Her parents had wanted her to go to Blackstock since long before she was born. And Alice didn't mind either; in fact, she'd been wanting to go ever since she'd been old enough to attend one of her father's lectures.
"You all set sweetheart?" her mother asked, anxiously reaching out to smooth Alice's long black hair. Alice sighed.
"Good. We'll just leave you to unpack then." She turned and left the small college dorm room in a hurry, not glancing back. Trying to be brave about it, Alice supposed.
Finally alone, Alice stared around. The walls were painted in a nondescript beige color, and the double sets of bunk beds were covered in quilts of a darker shade. The window lacked curtains of any sort, and there were only two desks provided. It would be rather cramped for three, she noted, but freshmen were used to being crowded.
She began to unpack, wondering what her roommates would be like. She had already met the RA, a pretty dark skinned girl named Emily. Alice was to call on her in times of need, or every first Friday of the month, whichever came first. And Tanya from down the hall seemed nice enough too.
Her musings were interrupted by a soft knock. Alice straightened up from where she'd been bending over her books and stared at the girl standing in the doorway. She was slender, with chocolate colored eyes and straight brown hair. She stood with her harms pressed tight across her chest, as if trying to make herself smaller, or invisible.
"Hello," Alice said kindly, "I'm Alice Brandon. Who're you?"
"Bella Swan," the girl answered, shyly tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She took a step forward. "I think we're roommates."
Alice considered for a moment. Timidity wasn't a bad quality. Maybe she would come out of her shell more once they spent more time together. It was hard to be shy with someone you saw eight or nine hours a day. "Yep."
Bella flashed a bright smile, jerking hard to get an oversized trunk over the small step in the doorway and stumbling into the room. "Good."
Alice nodded and continued to unpack. She lined up her books alphabetically by author on the bottom shelves of the bookcase. She was reasonably sure she would be the smallest one of their trio, and could hardly be blamed for monopolizing the shelves lowest to the ground.
Bella began to imitate her, methodically pulling clothes out of her trunk and placing them neatly in the dresser drawers. Alice noticed that she tended to favor shirts with long sleeves in browns and blues, and owned not a single pair of jeans.
They were interrupted once again, but the new girl didn't knock. She just strode right in and plopped herself down onto the bottom bunk of the bed nearest the window. A moment later, she was joined by an absurdly muscular young man carrying not one, but two large travel bags.
"Just put them there on the bed, Emmett." The new girl waved at the other bed, and Alice stared. She was beautiful, but Alice's good opinion of her looks was soured immediately by her demeanor.
Emmett obeyed, easily lifting both bags onto the bed and setting them down on their sides. Bella spoke up from the corner of the room. "Are you Rosalie?"
The blond beauty turned slowly and looked Bella up and down. Bella turned bright red and clamped her mouth shut. "That I am," Rosalie drawled.
Alice moved instinctively to Bella's side, and met Rosalie's stare evenly. There was something…off about their newest roommate.
"Play nice, Rosalie." Emmett chided from the doorway, ducking out and heading down the hallway, "I'll see you later."
"Mmmn." Rosalie tilted her head to the side, eyeing Alice. "What's your name?"
"Alice." Alice stood up straight, aiming to look as tall as possible; quite a challenge for someone under five feet.
Rosalie snorted. "Like from Wonderland?"
"No. I'm not as nice as she was." Alice smirked.
Rosalie frowned. "But she wasn't nice at all."
Alice turned away, deliberately putting her back to Rosalie, and said, "So, Bella, which bed do you want?"
It was dark by the time they had finally gotten everything worked out, and unpacked. Alice's back ached from bending over so much, but she didn't whine about it.
"If I have to lift another thing today, I think I'll have to shoot something." Bella complained, rolling her shoulder around in its socket, grimacing.
Alice chuckled. "As long as it's not me, go right ahead."
Bella sighed, "Don't tempt me. Rosalie might accidentally enter the moment I try to shoot the door down. Totally coincidentally, you understand."
"Clear as crystal," Alice affirmed, "But that's probably not going to happen. She's gone out for dinner. Why don't we do the same?"
"Sure." Bella agreed, going over to the closet and retrieving her pair of gym shoes. "Let's have pizza. Or something."
"Pizza sounds fine. The dining hall in Taylor is probably still serving dinner." Alice tugged on a pair of loafers and led the way out of the dorm.
The wind blew fiercely, tangling their hair and whipping against their cheeks. That was how they looked stumbling into Taylor, red-faced and laughing. The laughter died down in their throats when they caught a glimpse of Rosalie and her posse staring from across the room.
The group consisted of four people; Rosalie and three boys. One Alice recognized as the young man who had carried up Rosalie's books. The others were unfamiliar. Bella gasped from beside her.
Alice agreed. "Wow."
Surprisingly, Rosalie waved them over. Bella and Alice exchanged glances, then slowly walked forward. The group shifted to make room for them. A beautiful blond boy smiled at her, and Alice immediately took the open seat beside him. Bella ended up across from her, smiling at a younger bronze haired man.
"Let me introduce you," Rosalie began, gesturing toward her group, "Emmett you know—Chemistry major. Jasper is a good friend of mine, he's in Psychology. Then there's Edward," She flashed a knowing look at the youngest, "Who is a lowly freshman and, therefore, has no major."
"Yet," Edward grinned, "But don't let her fool you. I know where I'm going. She on the other hand, is a freshman with no clue what she'll do for the rest of her life."
"What are you going to do?" Bella piped up. Edward turned his dazzling smile onto her, and she blushed.
"Classics." He said, "And don't believe anyone who tells you they're a bunch of loonies."
Rosalie cleared her throat in annoyance and continued, "These are my roommates. Alice," she pointed at Alice, "and Bella."
A general chorus of 'pleased to meet you' and 'hello' went around the table. Alice caught Jasper's eye, and held it. He smiled slowly at her and she grinned back. He probably thought he knew exactly what she was thinking.
She was distracted by the scraping of chairs as Edward rose to bring some food for the table, and Bella scrambled up as well, offering to accompany him. Alice felt rather sorry for the girl; she was so obviously smitten with him.
"What are you planning to major in?" Jasper asked, reclaiming her attention. Alice turned to study him for a moment before answering.
"Pre-med? Would-be doctor?"
Alice laughed. "You betcha."
"Well, you two certainly got chummy pretty quickly," Emmett joked. Alice looked over at him, and blinked in surprise when she saw Rosalie draped over his lap.
Jasper said nothing. He was staring across the room at the two people who had just entered; a girl and a boy. The boy was fairly nondescript; average height, weight, brown hair, pale skin. His was the sort of face you would forget even as you were looking at it. The girl was a little more distinctive, sporting bright red hair and a blue dragon tattoo curling around her forearm.
Together they made their way over toward the table. Alice sensed more than saw Jasper tense beside her. Emmett was frowning, no longer amused. Rosalie was as serene and beautiful as always. Alice could feel her brows puckering in confusion.
The boy was staring at her. The girl didn't seem to notice, instead focusing her attention on Rosalie. "Picked up a stray, have we?"
It was Jasper who answered, saying aggressively, "What's it to you?"
The redhead turned on him in surprise, "Touchy, aren't we Jasper? I would have never pinned you for the type. Just don't forget to clean up after yourself."
Jasper snarled. Alice twitched. The boy was still staring at her. Even after his girlfriend led him away he turned back to meet her eye. She watched him in surprise as he stopped, and started to turn back.
Immediately Jasper grabbed her arm, hauling her to her feet. Alice barely had time to register shock as he hustled her out the door, past the strangers and into the wind. He jogged, still holding her upper arm in a bruising grip, forcing her to run alongside him.
"What are you doing?" She gasped, and he turned his head to scowl at her.
"It wasn't safe for you there. Stay away from them from now on."
Alice stopped dead, dragging her feet. He continued on for a few paces before realizing that she was no longer moving.
"What?" He asked, irritated.
"What are you talking about?" Alice demanded. "I want an explanation before I move another inch."
"Don't be foolish. I could just move you myself if I wanted," he threatened.
"You wouldn't." Alice said smugly. "Now answer my question."
"You don't know what you're asking."
Alice clenched her jaw and ripped her arm out of his grasp. There were going to be bruises. She stalked away toward her dorm, mentally cursing Jasper for ruining her dinner. He caught up with her easily.
"Alice…" There was an almost pleading note in his voice. Alice turned and looked at him. He was incredibly, impossibly handsome. And he was following her.
"What?" She said, rather rudely.
Wisely, he changed tack. "Are you still hungry? Why don't we go out for pizza?"
"And then you'll answer me?"
He only cast her a worried look before taking her hand, more gently this time, and leading her back along the path.