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Rated M for language, sexuality, graphic violence.

"I wept not, so to stone within I grew."

- Dante Alighieri, "Inferno," cto. 33, l. 49



The day had finally arrived; I was going to spend my first day as a Senior at Forks High School. I understood why this was important to the Cullens. The younger we could start school in a given location, the longer we could stay. I had watched Alice, Rosalie and Emmett attend schools numerous times as we had moved around over the years. It was problematic to explain my lack of participation or to hide my existence for so long. This would make things easier on everyone in the long run.

The story was that I had joined the Cullens last year as their foster child, even though I had been living secretly with them through the others' last few years of school. I knew from Alice what to expect. She had spoken to me so much about her day to day life in high school that I practically felt like I attended already. She was in her element in this role--a cheerleader who was dating a popular football player. Not only that but she had Bella, her first true girlfriend. They were practically inseparable. I didn't really understand her affection for this human girl, but she brought Alice such happiness that I was grateful to her.

Alice and I pulled into the parking lot at the school. She had dressed me in jeans, a concert T-shirt, a black leather jacket and cowboy boots. I deferred all matters of wardrobe to Alice. It didn't matter to me what I wore, although I appreciated the boots.

As we entered the building, I could feel the curiosity emanating from the other students. In a town this small, I was clearly the main topic of conversation today. It was rare for the school to get a new student, and that I was living with the Cullens, whom most seemed to regard with a combination of respect, envy, and admiration, made me even more intriguing. I tried to ignore them and focused on getting through the day without killing anyone.

Alice helped me find my first class. I had Physics and she was heading to a Prep hour. She walked me to the door of the classroom then squeezed my hand in hers. "You'll be fine, Jasper," she assured me. "I'll see you next period."

I nodded.

"Oh look! There's Bellla!" She waved at the girl in the room.

Bella smiled and waved me over, indicating the seat next to hers.

"You'll be fine," Alice repeated then waved a goodbye to Bella before flitting down the hall towards her own classroom.

I took a deep breath then entered the room, starting my official new life as a high school student.

The first hour wasn't bad. The material was easy enough for a vampire with an impeccable memory. The smell of humans was tolerable. The most uncomfortable part of the hour was dealing with the emotions coming from the other students. Teenagers seemed to be more emotionally volatile than most other humans I had been in contact with. I felt fear, nervousness, jealousy, lust, excitement, insecurity and so much more. It was tempting to blanket the room with calm just to give myself a break from it. This would definitely take some getting used to.

When the period was over, Bella offered to walk with me to our next class. She and Alice were both in Advanced English, as was I. I smiled at Alice when we entered the room and she indicated the seats next to her which she had claimed with books and her jacket.

I sat down to her left and let her know the first hour went well. She turned to Bella and they leaned their heads down and started chatting away in quiet voices. I felt a quick flash of emotion from Bella and turned to look at her, watching as her face lost focus on the conversation and her eyes darted to the door.

I turned to see what she was looking at and saw a boy entering the room. He was tall and lean with broad shoulders. He smiled, greeting a blonde haired boy and took the seat next to him, his long legs sprawling in front of him. I was vaguely aware of the teacher entering the room and speaking to the class, but I barely noticed; I couldn't take my eyes off the boy.

His skin was pale, with the slightest blush on his cheeks, like the petals of a magnolia blossom. His hair was in disarray, as if he had just run his fingers through it. The color reminded me of the velvety underside of the magnolia leaf, a rich reddish brown. I wondered if it was as soft as it looked. I was mesmerized as his long slender fingers reached up and moved through it. I could almost feel the silky strands under my own hands. Then as if he could sense me staring at him, his eyes looked up and locked onto mine. I froze. They were a beautiful deep green, like the waxy broad leaves of the magnolia tree. He was beautiful.

As we stared at each other, unable to look away, I was filled with a rush of emotions. I was transported to a wide porch on a sunny day, a tall tree towering nearby, soft fingers in my hair, a cool breeze caressing my face. He reminded me of a time long, long ago, before war had wearied me and death had robbed me of any contentment. He brought me back to a time when two boys laughed by the river, their hearts filled with the joy of a summer afternoon. He reminded me of something, this beautiful boy, with his magnolia skin and velvet hair, and eyes as green as living things. I stared silently at him, held hostage by his arresting gaze, trying to puzzle it out. And then I realized what it was.

Out of the corner of my eye I felt a shock of surprise from Alice and saw her head whip up and turn toward me, eyes wide.

He reminded me of home.

A/N: Special thanks to my wonderful friend, OnTheTurningAway, for all her time, support, encouragement, assistance, and general awesomeness.