You all know the drill… Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just grateful that she lets us play with her characters.

Playlist for Chapter One – "Change of Plans" by Lesley Lane/ "There for You" by Flyleaf

Chapter One – Change of Plans

There was a child once.
He came to play in my garden;
He was quite pale and silent.
Only when he smiled I knew everything about him,
I knew what he had in his pockets,
And I knew the feel of his hands in my hands
And the most intimate tones of his voice.
I led him down each secret path,
Showing him the hiding-place of all my treasures.
I let him play with them, every one,
I put my singing thoughts in a little silver cage
And gave them to him to keep...
It was very dark in the garden
But never dark enough for us. On tiptoe we walked
among the deepest shades;
We bathed in the shadow pools beneath the trees,
Pretending we were under the sea.
Once--near the boundary of the garden--
We heard steps passing along the World-road;
O how frightened we were!
I whispered: "Have you ever walked along that road?"
He nodded, and we shook the tears from our eyes....

There was a child once.
He came--quite alone--to play in my garden;
He was pale and silent.
When we met we kissed each other,
But when he went away, we did not even wave

-Katherine Mansfield, "There Was a Child Once"

September 1992

~Bella~

Fighting to hold back the tears, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me into the edge of the forest across the field from the elementary school playground. Legs aching and heart pounding, certain that no one could see me, I slumped down against a tree and gave in to the flood of pent-up hurt and frustration. My chest heaved as sobs ripped from my tiny frame.

How could they be so cruel? I'd never done anything to them to earn their torment. Jessica and Lauren delighted in their daily persecution of me, calling me a poor little orphan and teasing that I had a face that even a mother couldn't love. I didn't remember my mother leaving my father when I was still in diapers – to me she was a stranger I'd never met, although I grew up surrounded by pictures of her.

Of course the girls never said anything cruel to me when our pre-kindergarten teacher was watching. Our teacher was convinced that they were kind and compassionate to the little quiet girl. But at recess, when the teacher wasn't watching, they seized the opportunity to insult me yet again. I refused to let them see me cry, but I couldn't take any more from them, so I ran.

When my sobs had diminished to sporadic sniffles, I rubbed the tears from my eyes and peered into the dark forest in front of me. A flash of bronze and a rainbow glimmer had caught my eye, and I stood up to go investigate.

I wandered deeper among the trees, looking for whatever it was I had seen, when I saw a man standing not far away from me. Daddy had taught me to be careful around strangers, but for some reason I was not afraid of this man. He was very tall, with skin even paler than mine, eyes that were a strange color, like honey, and a shock of messy brownish-bronze hair. I liked him. I gave him a shy smile.

He knelt down in front of me so we were eye to eye, smiled at me and asked softly, "What are you doing out here so far into the woods? Shouldn't you be in school?" His voice was beautiful, just like him.

"I'm running away from the mean girls who made me cry," I answered.

"What did they do to you to make you cry?"

"They called me an orphan and said that I have a face that even a mother couldn't love," I sniffled.

"Don't believe them. They're just jealous because you are such a beautiful little girl."

"No, it's true – it must be. My Mommy left Daddy and me when I was still a baby. I must not have been good enough for her," I said sadly.

"I don't think she left because of you. Sometimes people get confused about what they want from life," he explained gently.

He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked me, "Do these girls pick on you often?"

"Yes – I don't think they like me very much," I answered truthfully.

"Have you told your father about the way they have been treating you? He might be able to get them to stop," he suggested.

"No. I'm not going to tell him. I don't want to upset him. He always gets so sad when I say anything about Mommy." I thought of the times I had asked Daddy about her before – I heard him crying in his room after he had put me to bed. The sound made my heart ache. I didn't want to do anything to make him cry.

Curiosity got the best of me. "What's your name?"

"Edward," he replied. "What is your name?"

"Bella," I answered.

"Bella suits you – it means beautiful."

At that moment, a shaft of sunlight pierced through the leaves and illuminated his skin. Rainbows danced around the area where we stood. I had never seen anything so breathtaking in my life.

"Are you an Angel?" I asked, stroking the back of his hand as it sparkled like tiny diamonds. His skin was cold and hard, but it was so smooth that it felt like the satin edge of my blanket. When I first touched him, it made my fingertips tingle, reminding me of the time I touched the metal prongs on the lamp plug where it had been knocked loose from the wall outlet.

"No, but I wish I was," he sighed.

"You can be my Angel!" I said brightly.

"I would love that. I will be your guardian Angel, but now you need to get back to school before they notice you are missing and get worried."

"Can you take me back to school? I'm kind of lost," I confessed.

"I can take you as far as the edge of the forest, across the field from the school, but I can't take you all the way back to the school," he said, frowning slightly. "I will watch you to make sure you are safe getting back."

"Okay," I said, following him.

When we reached the point just before the forest met the field, I stopped and asked, "Will I see you again?"

"I'm certain you will. I won't ever be far," he promised. "I will be here whenever you need me."

~Edward~

I had returned to the Olympic Peninsula for a brief visit after almost six decades from the time we lived in this area previously. My family had been living in Calgary for several years now and it was time to move again. People were starting to notice that the Cullens had not changed in appearance over the years we had lived there. The various branches of the Cullen family had been sent to scout prospective areas for relocation. My parents, Carlisle and Esme, were investigating Syracuse, New York, while my siblings Alice and Jasper were visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Emmett and Rosalie were combing the back woods of Elkins, West Virginia. Emmett would definitely be in his element in the rural mountain town, but I imagined that Rosalie would find it somewhat difficult to fit in. I couldn't suppress a grin at the thought.

Nearly three generations had passed since we made the treaty with the tribal chief of the Quiluetes. The treaty that forbade any of us to venture on to Quileute lands, but allowed us to live in peace nearby, while keeping our true identity a secret from the locals, also prevented the Quileute's pack of werewolves from obliterating the Cullen family from the face of the earth. Certain members of the tribe carried a genetic quirk that caused them to shape-shift from humans into giant wolves, wolves fully capable of and more than willing to destroy a vampire. I needed to ensure that the treaty was still intact before we could return to the Pacific Northwest.

I had arrived in Forks and decided to hunt before I checked in to a motel, which was just as well because the weather had been intermittently sunny throughout the morning. Fortunately, the surrounding forests were teeming with game, and I had drained two deer when I heard a sound that was not typically one heard in the forest – the sound of someone crying.

I ran toward the sound, slowing as I approached, and came to a stop behind a stand of trees near the forest edge. I could see a small girl curled up at the base of a tree, sobbing. Her tiny body was shaking from the force of her emotion. The sound wrenched my chest, and I wondered what traumatic event could stir up such a reaction in one so young. I felt sudden fury at whatever circumstances resulted in this child's pain. Always able to hear the thoughts of others, I tried to reach into her mind to gain an understanding of the cause, but was met with only silence, silence that was deafening over the volume of her cries. How strange.

As I considered with this new development, I noticed that she had stopped crying and was moving in my direction. I darted away, deeper into the woods, hoping that she wouldn't come any closer. The wind had shifted and was blowing her scent my way. The scent of her blood was enticing in a way that no other human had ever been to me before, causing my mouth to fill with venom. Too late – she had seen me and was purposely heading toward me.

I froze, clenched my jaw and held my breath, struggling to secure my inner monster tightly as I looked over the brave little girl. She appeared to be around five years old, pale, with long brown hair framing a heart-shaped face and wide, innocent brown eyes. My chest tightened again as I observed her tear-streaked cheeks and I was overcome with a feeling I had never before experienced as she came nearer. I felt… protective. I could never hurt a child – no matter how delicious she smelled – and especially not this precious little one. My shoulders relaxed and I released the breath I had been holding when she met my eyes and smiled as radiantly as the sun. Her smile spread warmth through me that I had never felt before.

I returned her smile as I knelt before her and asked what she was doing in the woods, away from her school. I could hear the other children in the distance, laughing and playing, and wondered what had brought her here.

My frozen heart nearly broke when she told me about the girls from her class taunting her about her mother. I struggled to come up with an explanation for her mother's unforgivable behavior, so she would not feel so bereft. I felt the strangest compulsion to make her happy.

She asked me my name, and when she told me hers was Bella I couldn't help but tell her that it meant 'beautiful', and she was definitely beautiful. I could see the light of kindness in the depths of her shining brown eyes. She was selfless – she wouldn't even tell her father about the times that the other girls picked on her, just to spare his feelings.

When a ray of sunlight broke through the forest cover, my skin reflected it in rainbow prisms around us. She studied my hand as it shimmered in the sunshine. I felt jolts of current run through my hand and arm where Bella had touched me. It was an odd sensation, but not unpleasant.

Curious as only a five-year old can be, she blurted out, "Are you an Angel?" I wanted to laugh at first, but in my heart I wished I could be, for her sake. Anything but the soulless demon that I was.

She surprised me by telling me that I could be her Angel. And I would. I would watch over her and protect her, be her source of help and comfort when she needed it. The realization dawned on me that I would do anything for this tiny creature who had won my unbeating heart.

I kept an eye on her until she made it safely back to the playground with the other children. She joined in the line they had formed to return to their classrooms as if she had been there the whole time. No one had even noticed her absence. The thought saddened me.

~Bella~

I got back to school just as recess was ending, and no one had noticed I was gone. I went back to class and was able to ignore the pointed looks from Jessica and Lauren. I had someone so much better than they could ever hope to be for my friend. The thought of Edward made me feel safe and warm and happy.

I couldn't wait to tell Daddy about my new friend when I got home.

"Daddy, I made a new friend at school today!" I told him excitedly as we sat at the table eating our dinner. I neglected to mention the fact that I had met him in the woods after running away from the mean girls.

"Is that so, Bells? I'm happy for you," Daddy said.

"Yeah, his name is Edward. He runs super fast and he sparkles like rainbows in the sunshine!"

"Really, honey? That's nice," he responded as he stuffed another mouthful of macaroni and cheese in his mouth.

After dinner was over and I had washed my face and brushed my teeth, I went to bed in my favorite footie pajamas. I sighed contentedly as I thought back over my meeting with Edward. He was there with me in my dreams, protecting me from any bad things that would cause me nightmares.

~Edward~

I was able to trace Bella's scent back to her house, where I took a spot in the woods bordering the Swan residence. I eavesdropped on their conversation over dinner and chuckled to myself at Bella's excitement over making her new friend, and particularly at Charlie's response after first experiencing a brief moment of panic.

"My Daddy is Charlie, he's a policeman," Bella had told me earlier.

When she told Charlie about my skin sparkling in the sunlight, I drew a sharp breath waiting for his attention. He was a member of the local law enforcement. Would he believe her story about a sparkling stranger? Would letting her see me bring the Volturi down on our heads? It was the one law above all others that mattered to the ruling vampire coven – to keep the secret of our existence from human knowledge. The Volturi wouldn't hesitate to kill us both if they found out.

I couldn't get very distinct thoughts from Charlie, but I was able to make out 'that's so cute - she has an imaginary friend, and such a vivid imagination!' among his feelings of love and endearment for his daughter.

I felt a pang of deep sorrow wash over him. He felt intense anguish over his and Bella's abandonment by his wife, Renee. His feelings for her were still strong and the sting of her rejection seemed to be at the forefront of his mind.

I was thankful that Bella had the love of her father, although it couldn't make up completely for the lack of her mother in her life, it would help keep her strong when she needed it most.

The rest of the meal was spent in comfortable silence. Soon the dishes were cleared and Charlie got Bella ready for bed. I heard Charlie hug her tight and kiss her goodnight, as she said "I love you, Daddy."

I waited until I heard Charlie's resonating snores before crossing the yard to take a perch in the tree outside of Bella's room. I peered through her window and saw the most precious sight. Bella was curled up on her bed, with her hands tucked under her cheek on the pillow. The end of the blanket had been kicked out of the way, and the footies of her pajamas were exposed. She was smiling in her sleep, graced with happy dreams, as her guardian Angel vampire watched over her through the night.

A/N: Okay, I'm holding my breath as I jump off the high dive… This is my first multi-chapter fanfic, so bear with me. As my profile says, I'm a reader, not a writer, but this story popped in my head and won't let me rest anymore.

HUGE thanks to my uber-awesome beta and bestie, A Little Distracted, without whom this fic would never have seen the light of day. I am a chicken at heart, and her encouragement gives me the cajones to post my ramblings… Thanks for pushing me into the deep end!

So buckle up everyone – I hope you enjoy the ride…

The playlist for the story is on playlist(dot)com(slash)playlist(slash) 19366254859

I will also try to link it on my profile.