Barton High


: The charming universe of "Sense and Sensibility" is Ms. Jane Austen's sole property. This piece of fanfiction, based upon it, intends no infringement.

Author's Notes: Elinor's Elinor. However, I was strangely motivated to have Marianne reborn as Mario. So yeah, that means warning – contains gay romance.

Chapter 1

"We're poor."

"Mario, could you please stop repeating that?"

"I can. But it won't change the fact that we are poor. And here I was – stupidly imagining that I could get my own car once I was in high school."

Elinor closed the book she had been reading and took off her glasses. The sisters, Elinor and Margaret, had been forced to share a room ever since the family had moved to their 'new' home. Since Maggie went to bed early, Elinor came down to Mario's room for studying at night. Indeed, she missed her late-night study sessions in the quietude of her own room however, she was trying to adapt to her current circumstances in the best manner possible. But Mario's constant complaints put undue demands on her patience.

"I don't think that would have been the case even if it we… well, even if our financial conditions allowed such liberties," said Elinor and turned off the lamp on her study-table.

"Dad wasn't stingy!" Mario was genuinely scandalized. He had been his father's favourite child and late Mr. Henry Dashwood had certainly indulged him beyond reason.

"I don't think that it's quite a matter of being parsimonious."

Mario had steadily failed to get his driving license for the past seven months.

He glared at his older sister.

"Well, it's just because your personality is so cold and high-and-mighty that you've never been asked out, you know. Your bitchiness wards off anyone who thinks he might like your face."

Even Mario knew that it was uncalled for. He immediately regretted his harshness but made no apology. There was something about the calm manner in which Elinor had borne their misfortunes that simply drove him over the edge. Why couldn't she be more like a normal person? Like their mother, for instance, who had been sporadically bursting into tears? Or the younger sister, Margaret, who had taken to wandering off alone in the town? Why couldn't Elinor act as if their half-brother's selfishness was wrong?

However, Elinor, like always, showed no visible sign of being offended and got up. It wasn't only her good temper that helped her in this matter. It was the fact that there was actually a person who wasn't 'warded off by her bitchiness'. In fact, he seemed to be quite attracted to her unless Elinor was grossly mistaken about him. And it was none other than the school prince, Edward Ferrars. In fact, earlier that evening, he had asked her out to their high school prom.

Mario's earlier claim, triggered by anger, had been exaggerated but not entirely false. Elinor, a straight-A's student, wasn't "popular", but she was certainly not disliked or even ignored. The gentle lines of her face were always set in a composed and thoughtful expression that made her peers feel awkward. Most people her age did not understand her and found her level-headedness alien.

Edward Ferrars had proved to be different. He had the distinction of being the most popular guy in school although he was not a jock and only moderately good at football. His non-jock-ness was overshadowed by the fact that he had been a model ever since his first year in high school. Moreover, he was the son of the president of a multinational company. Despite his hectic work schedule, his attendance was not wanting and his grades were almost always As. Plus, his manner was invariably courteous and he had hitherto asked out none of the girls in his school. The fact had made him mysteriously popular. There were always rumours linking him to various actresses and models. He neither denied nor confirmed them. However, his unassuming manner set the guys at ease and pleased the girls.

Elinor, who had never been especially interested in him, was rather surprised when he had first accosted her in the park near their school, where she went to paint sometimes after the school was over. They had talked about random things for a while and Elinor had to admit that at such close range, Edward had left her heart beating wildly. There was something disconcertingly alluring about his manner although completely unaffected. Was it the auburn hair carelessly falling over the deep purple eyes? Was it the innocent smile, so novel on the ruggedly handsome face? Or perhaps the friendly manner, suave but never distant?

The oldest Dashwood girl wondered yet again as she went about preparing for the picnic-date on the following Saturday morning.

She checked her appearance in the mirror for the umpteenth time, and although not quite satisfied, decided that it would have to do for now because she did not want to be late for her date. Grabbing her bag, she dashed out of the room.

Ten o'clock in the morning was too early for the Dashwood household. Elinor had imagined that she would be able to elude the trying enquiries of her mother and Mario. But she was not to be so lucky.

Mario sat in the kitchen, brooding over the newspaper with a pencil and a can of soda.

"Someone's dolled up," he commented lazily.

Elinor murmured a hurried 'good morning' and went out. She did not want to arrive for her date with strained nerves. Life had been tough after her father's death and she did not remember a single day of carefree enjoyment. She was determined to be happy today.

Mario stretched his arms and got up to prepare breakfast for himself. The next thing to do after drinking a can of soda was to eat French fries tucked between toasts. It was the best way to begin the sunny Saturday morning.

He glanced out of the window just in time to see Elinor closing the gate. What sort of a date would not come pick you up? Had Elinor taken up with some awful guy? Probably not, he thought, considering it was Elinor. It was probably some stupid geek who had no idea how to go about dating people in the first place.

Mario wasn't much curious about the matter. He didn't expect Elinor to date someone interesting, after all. He would have liked to badger her just for the fun of it, but he still felt guilty for his meanness last night.

As the telephone rang, he was reminded yet again how much he missed owning a cell phone.

"John. Hey… Come over? Guess I could… Yeah, see you then."

Mario replaced the receiver and opened another can of soda.

John. John Willoughby. He was the English guy who had transferred to Barton High last month. Mario was half-English and that was probably why John had become so attached to him. It felt good to have a friend of that sort but sometimes, Mario was a bit flustered by it. It felt as if his attachment had meaning beyond simple friendship. What was even more troubling was that Mario himself indulged the idea with gentle hope.

Ultimately, he didn't like feeling the way he did. However, he could not deny himself a chance to spend time with Willoughby. He actually enjoyed himself a lot with him.

He sighed and glanced sadly at the empty can of soda.

He hoped it was just a phase he was going through or something. While he was okay with… other people's preferences in general, he did not quite appreciate himself having the same. It was okay with other people because that was their choice. But… this… was not what he wanted and… and damn, he was scared of it.