Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters originally introduced in the Twilight series, such as Edward, Bella, Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, Charlie, and the occasionally mentioned Jacob. I do however own the newer characters such as Andrew, Evalyn, Emma Jane, and Megan.

Bella Cullen

Chapter 1 – The Charade

I gathered up my things in a small book bag. I couldn't believe I was actually going back to high school. I couldn't imagine what it must have been for Edward. For the better half of at least ninety years he spent in high school, only twice moving on to college. The first time was hell enough. I guess after a while it just becomes a pass-time, considering we have forever. Yes. I have forever, now, too.

It's been this way for four years now. Not the whole high school thing, but the me being a vampire thing. Though I wish the high school would be four years, because that would mean I was already done again. To me it wasn't that much different, aside from the fact that I didn't have to feed as much. I didn't see much change in my face, but for some reason, knowing I would be with Edward forever, I still felt significantly more beautiful. And of course, Edward had been the one. The one who led me to this life.

First, Edward arranged so I could have one last word with all of them. Jasper's stories had made me so sure that I would be so different in myself, not just physically. Edward was afraid that after the wedding, I would get too scared. He knew this was what I wanted. More than anything. Even if it wasn't what he hoped for, he wanted me to be happy. So he made sure I got to say some sort of weird, kind-of goodbye to all of them, even though I was stuck with them forever as at least my in-laws if the whole transition hadn't worked out. It was rather awkward, though. I wasn't as surprised when Jasper hugged me as I was when Rosalie did. I had even found some way to make Emmett, the Cullen clown, laugh. I think I asked him something like "Hey, when I get harder, will you feel softer?" I was referring to him being the big teddy bear of them all.

Carlisle shot up as much morphine into me as he could. I was, after all, still human at that point. He didn't really want to kill me of an overdose before Edward got to do the honor of making me immortal.

Then Edward led me to my new existence, first with his teeth. His venom, poisoning my body. I was his, in the best tangible way possible. Then his hand led me through the rest. He never left my side. I don't know which would have been worst, if he had stayed, like he did, knowing that every time I even winced the slightest, he was tearing inside? Or if he had left, making sure he wouldn't be tempted to drink anymore of my blood than that which had already touched his teeth, and, though I knew he wouldn't suffer, I was left to face the misery alone. Of course, being selfish, I think I definitely preferred what he chose. Three days straight and his hand never ceased to hold mine.

We had moved to Colorado by that point. Mountains everywhere, colder than Forks, no one we knew, and almost as many overcast days as Alaska. Four years and Edward had slowly eased me into a vegetarian vampire life. And "easing into it" does not mean that I hunted humans at the beginning. He slowly exposed me to larger and larger crowds of people, until finally, Carlisle believed that I was ready for high school, especially since we were in a larger city this time.

I pulled my bag over my shoulder with ease. It had never been this light. I had enjoyed my enhanced strength while it lasted. Rosalie used to have to spend hours at a time calming Emmett down every time I kicked his ass in any type of wrestling match. They had stopped calling me "newborn" when he began winning again. Sure, everything was still lighter to lift, a faster traveling time, and I didn't even feel much temperature change anymore, but I missed being threatening. I could still barely win an arm-wresting match, though, and I used that a lot as a gambling tool. I would bet against Emmett. Generally my penalty for losing would be that I would have to eat a whole bunch of human food, and Emmett's would be some huge favor I wanted, or to get him to do something that we would never let him live down. Now we had many things to taunt him with for the rest of forever. And Edward said that forever could get boring. Ha!

Oh, and of course Edward still can't read my mind – most of the time. Now I can let him in if I want. My ability is strange. I can let everyone, else in, too. I can also hear them, but unlike Edward, I can block them out. I don't have to hear the voices. I guess you could call it some sort of voluntary telepathic communication. I also have a little bit of Alice's talent. I can't predict random things like weather, stock markets, people's decisions, but I can see the results my decisions will have. Like all of the others, I could choose to use it. This comes in handy a lot. Because Edward was never able to read my mind, our relationship was always natural in the way that he actually had to talk to me to get to know me. He couldn't just pick my thoughts out and learn my personality. Now I can still keep that natural feeling by not just saying things because I know Edward's reaction. But now we can have silent conversations. That makes him REALLY happy.

I headed downstairs. Rosalie was the only one not down there, and she was behind me in two seconds.

"Sorry, I didn't know how I wanted to do my hair," she excused herself.

"Shall we go?" Emmett questioned. We all gave some sort of agreeing gesture and Edward sulked as he handed the keys to his precious Volvo over.

"Wait, I'm confused, I don't think I got all of the plan, here," I stated. Why wouldn't Edward be driving? He had done that all the time in Forks, hadn't he?

"Remember. I'm a junior," Emmett explained. I guess I hadn't been there for this part of the plan. "Rosalie and Jasper are sophomores, and you, Alice, and Edward are freshmen. Jasper and Rose are going to get their licenses soon. Edward and Alice are going to follow by getting their permits. You're not even 'old' enough for that if we want to go with your September birthday. I'm giving Rose, Alice, and Jasper a ride today. Rosalie's always going to be riding with me, and I'm going to rotate each day between you and Edward and Jasper and Alice. Because Jasper is a sophomore he gets first day. Got it now?" He didn't even have to ask. Vampire memory never fails.

"We're walking," Edward summed up, in case I hadn't understood. "It's not even as far as Forks High was from your house. I'm just bummed that he has to take my car."

Edward took my hand in his and we all walked out the front door. Everyone but us jumped into Edward's car and headed for the school. Edward looked down at me. I almost saw a frown. What did I do? I asked him. A little mind talk might cheer him up.

He seemed more amused by the idea that I didn't know I was doing something wrong. As if it were obvious, he lifted up my left hand. After kissing it a few times, he held it by the third finger. You tried to sneak to school with your rings on. Okay. He had had his fun.

"Sorry, I forgot," I apologized. He laughed again.

"No you didn't. Alice saw you deciding to try. You were thinking no one at school would catch you by the looks of it." Ugh. He was right. Once again, vampire memory never fails. I hadn't forgotten.

"Okay fine!" I replied stubbornly. I pulled into my pocket and grabbed my ring case. I had a feeling that even if one of the students didn't catch me, one of my siblings would. When my hand was free of all rings, he took it again and we began walking towards the school that we would be attending for the next four years, as long as no one would suspicion us.

Edward was right. It wasn't a long walk. Once we noticed other students walking, too, he pulled his hand out of mine, a sad look on his face. I looked at him questioningly.

If we want to keep the charade up, we're going to have to be more careful. It's way harder to pretend this time, though. Of all the times I've gone to high school, I've never had to pretend that I wasn't in love with my wife, he explained. I could sympathize with that. At least now with my enhanced mind, we could share or affection silently.

The plan that I had been there to hear was that we would slowly branch off. We would make it obvious that there were distinct pairs. Older brothers protecting their sisters. Of course, in our case, there wasn't much "age" difference, we were both freshmen. First, Emmett and Rosalie would share to their friends (I had convinced them to be a little more social this time) about Emmett confessing to Rosalie that he was glad they were adopted because he loved her to the ends of the earth. Jasper and Alice would do something similar, and Edward and I would follow. It was rather funny to accidentally catch Emmett in his thoughts, thinking about the story of how he would confess his love to Rosalie. Sure, I couldn't see plans like Alice could, but I could see them if someone was currently planning them.

We got to the school ahead of time. We had missed the summer schedule pick-up date due to the sun and had to get them today. The others were already there, of course. Emmett held the door to the front office for all of us.

"Slowpokes," he mumbled, but we all heard. The irony of any of us being slow sent us all into fits of laughter as we entered the room.

"You must be the Cullens," the kind lady at the front counter greeted us.

"Damn, even in big cities they know who you are," Emmett exclaimed. I opened my mouth to argue, but I heard an explanation in the secretary's head and I let her continue.

"No, it's just odd when we get so many students from one family missing the pick-up date. Generally one person comes down and gets them all." She began shuffling through some card-stock half-sheets. "Alice?" Alice danced up to grab her schedule. "Edward? Emmett? Isabella?" I winced at my full name and took my sheet. "Now we have the Hales, Jasper? Rosalie?"

Once we all had our schedules, we went outside and compared. Alice had convinced Rosalie and I to take Creative Movement together (now that I was actually graceful and all). Edward was taking AP Music Theory (along with more medical career classes), and Emmett and Jasper were taking Sports Development. Alice and I also had freshman math together. When I went to Edward to look at his classes, I almost whacked him. I didn't let him into my thoughts because he wouldn't have liked the words, but the message was clear enough on my face.

"What?" he asked innocently.

"You shoved us in the same block," I explained.

"And that makes you unhappy?" he wondered.

"It was conspicuous enough senior year last time, and you were even gone for half of it! Seriously, Edward. We survived junior year, didn't we. Only biology together."

"True, but it's block. It's not like I made sure we were both in three other classes. Everyone in our history class is also going to be in our English and physics classes. It's not as conspicuous as you may think," he tried to justify.

"I see your point, but remember how hard it was? When we weren't sure how our relationship was going to unfold? How hard it was for us not to touch, not to scoot a little closer? At least senior year everyone knew we were dating and it didn't look awkward."

"What are you getting at Bella?" he questioned.

"There was no reason to do this. For once, I'm seeing your selfishness." I began counting on my fingers as I listed: "James: Dead. Laurent: Dead. Victoria: Dead. Werewolves: Nearly one thousand miles away. The Volturi…" I gestured to myself, indicating my new and improved stone figure "Done. Taken care of. You don't have to protect me anymore."

"You're right. I am being selfish, but are you really that disappointed. If it makes you happy next year I'll make sure we only have one or two classes together, okay? At this point it'll only look conspicuous if one of us tries to switch into a different block," he pointed out.

"Okay, but we can be in a few more classes than just two next year; hopefully our siblings would get the date train going. Then by next year we won't have to be so secretive…"

"I like the sound of that," he agreed. Unfortunately, the campus was quickly becoming crowded, so we could not hold hand on our way to class, but we were close, and he would be in my next class, not to mention we could talk all we wanted about anything that could not be discussed out loud, and that was all that mattered.