Brush up on your Shakespeare

No one ever asks how Edward and I got together. People just always assume that it was the perfect fairytale that it appears to be.

Edward's sister Alice is my best friend which means that Edward and I only could have met when we were kids and hand known that we were meant for each other from the beginning. Edward must have done something horribly romantic back when we were teenagers that made me fall into his arms, saying that I would love him forever. All of that cheesy stuff.

Really, that couldn't be further from the truth. To say that Edward and I hated each other was putting it lightly. We loathed each other. If we were ever in the same room, you could guarantee and argument was going to happen sooner or later. We fought worse than cats and dogs. It got to the point where Alice had gotten mad at the two of us and told us that if we didn't learn to be civil with one another then she wouldn't be hanging around either of us anymore.

It also didn't help that Edward was friends with my brother, Emmett. If I wasn't at the Cullen's house Edward was at my house. We never got away from each other.

In college it got exponentially worse. My four best friends, Edward and I had all decided to go to the same college. Instead of staying in the dorms Alice and Edward's mother had the brilliant idea to rent a house for the six of us to live in together.

On the outside it seemed like a good idea. Emmett was dating Rosalie. Alice was dating Jasper. We were all friends, so why not?

Over the years Edward and I had gotten good at veiling our contempt for one another. We were together everyday and to the outside observer one might think that we even got along, but we didn't. We never spoke to each other, so as not to start and argument. But if we happened to be alone with one another for more than a minuet you could bet money on the fact that we would be at each other's throats.

If you asked me why Edward and I didn't get along I couldn't tell you. We had always hated each other; there was no reason behind it. That was just the way that things were.

Everything about Edward annoyed me. His good looks. His charm. The fact that I seemed to be the only person on Earth who didn't like him. The way girls were always staring at him, and the fact that he was completely oblivious of the girls. The fact that he was a good musician. The fact that he was smart. Just seeing Edward seemed to piss me off.

I honestly had no idea how Alice thought that the two of us living together was a good idea. She was always the hopeful one.

The house we were living in had four bedrooms, two big ones in the front and two small ones in the back. Due to the layout of the house Edward and I were separated by no more than a thin wall. I had a theory that Edward's bedroom and mine had once been one big one, then one day somebody decided that they needed and extra room, so they threw up a crummy wall and cut out another door. Living next to Edward was not pleasant.

We had gotten through our first semester without any mishaps. No big blows ups. We hadn't killed each other. But by or second semester Edward was grinding down on my nerves.

At first when we had discovered that Edward and I had a class together it had been kind of a competition to see who would back down and drop the class first. After the first month neither of us had given in. It would have been okay if we were in one of those massive lecture halls, but the class was under thirty people and depended mostly on class discussion. There was no way that Edward and I were both going to make it out of the class in one piece.

The worst part about it what that Edward was in my element. He was a music major; he should stick to the music classes. Part of me believed that he had chosen to take the Shakespeare class just for the purpose of annoying me.

The teacher loved Edward because he was always talking. Edward had an opinion about everything. He was always pointing out something new and different which could change the whole meaning of the entire play. Edward made me so mad.

That day, that fateful day, he had pushed me too far. While discussing King Lear Edward made a comment about a point that I had made to the teacher, making me sound dumb, like I didn't know what I was talking about. Alice be damned, I was going to tear his head off.

"You bastard!" I screamed at him, upsetting everyone in the kitchen except Edward. "You had to make me out to be an idiot."

"I was just pointing out the false logic in your statement, Bella." Edward hadn't even looked up from the notepad that he had been doodling on. "It's not my problem that your argument made no sense."

"Oh please," I shrieked. "You just have to be the best. You just have to be smarter than me. Anything to impress the teacher. You answers are so generic. I'm sure your getting them from the Cliffnotes. You could find any of that stuff online. Try having an original idea for once." None of that was true, but I was mad.

Edward sighed dramatically. "Your just mad because I know more about Shakespeare than you."

I stared at Edward. This was the most dangerous thing that he could have said. For a moment I fantasized about leaping across the kitchen counter and throttling him. "You do not know more about Shakespeare than I do." My voice was dangerously quiet.

The rest of our companions in the kitchen looked nervous. I saw my brother edge closer to me, ready to stop me if I did decide that Edward didn't have the right to live anymore. Alice went to put herself between her brother and I.

Edward laughed softly, not even concerned with the fact that I was obviously planning his death. That was another thing that aggravated me about him. He always knew exactly how to get a rise out of me, how to piss me off, but he never, not once, got mad at me. He would chuckle, he would argue calmly in a pretentious way, but he never got mad like I did. I was sure that his thoughts never got violent like mine. It all seemed like some sort of casual game to him.

"Fine Bella, you want to prove that you know more than me, go right ahead."

"How do you purpose I do that?" I asked scathingly.

Edward smiled. "How about a little game?"

"A game?" I asked. How was something like checkers going to prove that I knew more than Edward did?

"Yes, a game."

"What game?" I asked through my teeth. I was ready to say screw it and just attack him right there.

"One of us names a Shakespeare play. The other has to come up with a quotation from the play named. First person stumped looses."

That would be too easy to win. If you picked a hard enough or an obscure play right away you could win in moments. "Fine, but the person who names the play has to quote from it as well, after the other person. If neither one can get a quote then it gets throw out."

"Fine." Edward agreed. I didn't know why he was so confident. If there was one thing I knew it was my quotations.

"All of the plays?" I asked

"Will skip the histories," Edward shrugged. "No one reads those."

"Maybe you don't," I snorted. In fact, I had only read King Richard III, but I was not about to tell Edward that.

Edward smirked at me cheekily.

"When do you purpose we do this?"

Edward glanced around the kitchen. "No time like the present." He motioned towards the kitchen table and I took a seat opposite him.

I folded my hands and narrowed my eyes at Edward. Our friends and siblings shifted uncomfortably in the kitchen. Alice mumbled something about the two of us being totally immature and Emmett said something about Edward and I needing to work things out in our own way, no matter how insane.

Edward motioned to me. "Ladies first."

"King Lear." May as well start out with the one that had started the whole argument in the first place.

Edward snorted and rolled his eyes. "Have more than thou showest, Speak less than thou knowest, Lend less than thou owest, Ride more than thou goest, Learn more than thou trowest, Set less than thou throwest; Leave thy drink and thy whore, And keep in-a-door, And thou shall have more Than two tens to a score." He said this in a little sing-song voice.

"Come not between the dragon and his wrath," I hissed out at him, hoping he would take my advice and forfeit quickly.

He nodded, accepting my answer. "As You Like It."

I gave Edward my best teasing look. "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."

Edward chuckled. "I am the fool then?"

I nodded.

Edward leaned forward on his elbows and said, "The little foolery that wise men have makes a great show."

I narrowed my eyes. "All's Well that Ends Well."

Edward leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment. "All impediments in fancy's course Are motives of more fancy."

He smirked at me. I could tell that he was really enjoying this.

I shook my head and pulled out the only quote from that play that I could remember. "I know I love in vain; strive against hope But in this captatuios and intennible sieve I still pour the waters of my heart And lack not to lose still."

We went on like this for the longest time. We picked lines that purposely baited each other. We used Shakespeare's creative insults and his thinly veiled gratuity to push at one another, trying to see who broke first.

The whole time this was going on our friends and siblings were gathered, watching us intensely. It seemed like even Alice didn't know what the outcome of this game was going to be. She just looked worried every time I spat back the answers to Edward's challenges.

"Hamlet," Edward challenged.

"Too easy," I responded. "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world."

Edward nodded. "I must be cruel only to be kind, thus bad begins and worse remains behind."

I was a little surprised that he hadn't decided to be a show-off and go through the whole "To be, or not to be," speech. I couldn't stop my self from smiling.

"Though this be madness, these is method in it," Alice muttered to herself.

Edward glanced at his sister. "Are you playing now as well?"

Alice shook her head sharply, as if knocking herself out of some daydream. "No, just realizing something.

Edward gave his sister and strange look, and then turned back to me, waiting for whatever I had to throw at him next.

We went through A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. Through Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens. Macbeth and Othello, nothing seemed to slow either of us down.

"Taming of the Shrew," I said, throwing out the play that I knew the best, by far.

Edward grinned. "Come, come, you wasp; i'faith, you are too angry."

I narrowed my eyes at him, knowing that he was trying yet again to get a rise out of me. "If I be waspish, best beware my sting," I responded in turn with Kate's line. I had done this scene in sophomore English; there was no way he was going to take me down.

Edward sighed and leaned back in his chair. "My remedy is then to pluck it out."

I gritted my teeth, understanding Kate's frustration on a whole new level. "Ay, if the fool could find where it lies."

"Who does not know where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail."

"In his tongue."

"Whose tongue?"

"Yours," I smirked, "if you talk of tales, and so farewell."

Edward grinned evilly. "What, with my tongue in your tail? Nay, come again, Good Kate. I am a gentleman."

Damn. I had forgotten that Pertruchio had gotten the last word. He always got the last word, much like Edward. I shouldn't have let him pull me into that trap.

Edward grinned his triumph. "Much Ado About Nothing."

I spat the words out hard, directing very syllable at Edward. "Is it possible that distain should die while she hath such meat food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to distain, if you come in her presence."

Edward smirked, as if he had known I was going to pick that line. He leaned towards me and began reciting with excitement, acting out every line. "O! she misused me past the endurance of a block: an oak but with one green leaf on it, would have answered her: my very visor began to assume life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the prince's jester; that I was duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there would be no living near her; she would infect to the North Star. I would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar here, a man may lave as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose because they would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet horror and perturbation follow her."

I could tell that he had been saving that one up to throw at me. For a moment it hurt me. I felt those words and they made me almost want to get up and walk away.

Edward was staring at me. When I met his eyes I saw that something had changed. The vindictiveness that I hade felt from across the table had slipped away. It almost threw me for a second, but I caught my balance and said, "Love's Labor's Lost."

Edward now answered in a much more quiet and reserved state. He said the most basic and obvious line. He seemed caught in his own head. I was sure that he was planning a difficult play that I would never be able to come up with a line from so he could win the game and walk away. But instead he just quietly said, "Romeo and Juliet."

"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs, Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes, Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with loving tears. What is it else? a madness most discreet, A choking gall, and a preserving sweet."

Edward said nothing. He just stared at me. I couldn't figure out why.

"You win," he said quietly.

"I win?" I said, dumbfounded. Romeo and Juliet was the easiest thing out there. Anybody could quote Romeo and Juliet, even twelve year olds. "Come on Edward," I said. "Don't play dumb with me."

"I'm not playing dumb," he said.

"Oh please," I shouted. "You could say anything. 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?' You're just trying to prove something, aren't you?"

Edward stood up. "I'm not trying to prove anything. You win. I give up."

He walked out of the kitchen, leaving the rest of us in stunned silence.

"I can't believe he just gave up like that," Emmett said. "Even I can quote Romeo and Juliet."

"He knows it," Alice said. "Something just upset him."

I stared down into the empty hallway. I should have been happy. I had finally won an argument with Edward. But instead I just felt even more upset.

I jumped out of my chair and headed down the hall.

"Bella," Alice called after me. "Where are you going?"

"I'm finishing this," I muttered too quietly for anyone but me to hear. Once and for all I was going to put an end to this.

I approached Edward's door. From inside his room I could hear him saying to himself, "Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O any thing, of nothing first created; O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms."

See, I thought to myself, he did know the lines.

I rapped hard on Edward's door.

"Go away, Alice. I don't want to talk about it."

"It's Bella."

I heard him sigh behind the door. "Bella, please, you won. Can you just take it and leave?"

"No," I said hardly.

I heard him sigh again before he opened the door.

For some reason the image of Edward that was before me was not the one which I usually equated him with. I was used to his arrogant posture and self-righteous smile. This Edward looked slumped over. He seemed much smaller, like he had been broken. His eyes, which usually regarded me with some kind of fire in them, now looked weary and vulnerable.

"Why did you give up?" I asked plainly.

"Because I'm tired of fighting with you Bella." He shook his head. "We're not twelve anymore. I was just trying to be the mature one."

"So I'm immature?" I snapped.

"No—I," he sighed heavily and ran a hand through his already messy hair. "I didn't mean that." His eyes were focused hard on the doorframe. "What I meant was, I finally saw that how we've been acting is childish, so I stopped it."

"Why do you hate me?" I asked.

Edward shook his head again. "I don't hate you. I have never, for one moment, hated you."

This surprised me, so much that it nearly knocked me over. Since I was a kid, if there was one thing I knew about my life it was that Edward Cullen hated me.

I just stood there, dumbfounded. "I don't hate you either," I muttered. "Not really."

Edward nodded. "I know." He smiled to himself, but shook it off. "It's always been something else. Between us."

I looked up at him. "What?"

Edward shook his head. "Never mind."

"No, tell me."

"Bella, it doesn't matter."

"Do you think that I can't handle it?" I snapped.

"It's not that you can't handle it, I just—"

"Then why wont you tell me?"

"I'm in love with you!" he shouted.

Now I was truly at a loss for words. Honestly that was the last thing I had expected him to say.

"W-what?" I managed to stammer.

"I'm in love with you," he said again, much quieter. His eyes were filled with worry and confusion.

I started laughing. "You're joking. You are just trying to pull my leg. Very funny Cullen. Good job."

Edward closed his eyes and rubbed his temples like he was in pain. "Must you always be so frustrating?"

"Oh, sorry. I'll play along." Edward rolled his eyes. "So, how long have you been in love with me?"

Edward eyed the carpet. "Always, I think."

"Uh huh. So, why the sudden realization?"

"Don't you get it? It's Shakespeare's main theme. Couples that fight because they are too afraid to admit that they love the other person. That's what this is. That's what we are."

I tried to retort, but I was still trying to comprehend Edward's argument. It was true that we fought for no good reason and it was true that neither of us knew why we fought, but could it really be that we just loved each other?

My brain was quickly sifting through all of my previous life. Had I been in love with Edward all this time and not noticed it?

I was trying to think and form a sentence at the same time, which was proving impossible. "I—I," I stammered out.

Edward gave me a hard look then grabbed me. Before my mind could register what was happening, Edward was kissing me. Before I could stop myself, I had tangled my fingers into his hair, pulling him closer.

My blood was pounding in my ears and my knees were going weak, but Edward held me to him hard, not allowing me to fall or get away from him. I didn't want to get away from him. I wanted, needed to get closer.

When breathing became necessary Edward allowed me to pull back just enough to look up at him. His eyes were shinning, but I couldn't read them.

"We have an audience," he said quietly to me.

My head jerked to the side to see our friends standing at the opposite end of the hallway all wearing similar expressions of shock.

I felt my face grow hot and I turned it into Edward's shoulder, preventing them from seeing me. It wasn't until after I had completed the action that I realized that I was only making the situation worse.

Edward placed his hand on the back of my head, as if to reassure me. "What are you guys doing here?" he asked plainly.

"It got kind of quiet," Rose said. "We were making sure that you two hadn't finally killed each other."

"Well, as you can see Bella and I are both fine." I could hear the smile in Edward's voice.

"Yeah you are." Emmett sounded baffled.

"I knew it," Alice practically sang. "I told you. They just needed time."

"Fine," Emmett grumbled. "Last time I bet against Alice." Emmett's voice seemed to get quieter and disappear back into the kitchen.

"They're gone Bella," Edward whispered to me.

I looked back up at him. I could see that my reflection in his eyes looked unsure and worried.

"Are you okay?" he asked me.

I nodded.

"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking that if you don't kiss me right now then I am going to smack you."

It is a strange thing how passion and hatred are so closely linked, and how easily they are interchanged.

Edward and I never lacked for passion. Our years of arguments and 'hating' each other had prepared the two of us for the, at times, explosive passion that linked us together.

The things that I had once previously loathed about Edward were now the things that I loved the most. Sometimes in class when he said something really smart it was hard for me to not drag him out of the classroom to find the nearest wall to kiss him against when I had once dreamed of punching him in the face over the same thing.

I liked to think of our relationship in terms of Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick stopped Beatrice from trying to deny her love with a kiss. Edward said he liked to think of it more like Taming of the Shrew, which goes to show that Edward and I will never stop baiting each other.

Our lives had followed so closely the themes of those two plays that is was almost ridiculous. The fact that I hadn't seen the similarities in something that I had studied so hard and my own life made me feel a little blind. I should have worked out years before that I had loved Edward and that my hate was just my way of dealing with the feelings that I didn't understand. But as Shakespeare once wrote, "Ay me! For aught that I could ever read, Could ever hear by tale or history, The course of true love never did run smooth."