Once a privileged heiress, Isabella Swan suddenly loses everything, including her family's prized book collection. When son of rival family Edward Cullen acquires the collection and offers her a job, she is in no position to refuse. A tentative friendship based on their mutual love for books grows complicated as they enter into an arrangement – she wants the books back; he wants her.

One day, clever scientists will be able to combine the DNA of Colin Firth and Robert Pattinson and create the perfect baby. By the time this perfect baby grows into the perfect man, I'll be much too old for him, and it'll be gross. But the idea, it pleases me.

With this Edward, I was going for a modern day "Lord-of-the-Manorward", or "Manorward" for short if you're really chummy with him.

Chapter 1 - The Children

Summer, 1993, England

Five-year old Isabella Swan never liked snails. In fact, if you were to ask her what she thought of them, she would expressed her distaste with "Ewwwww" or "Icky". Yet today she found herself by the river that bordered her parent's vast estate, setting them back down on muddy banks that was their home.

Earlier in the day, she had seen the village boys with a large bag of river snails, flinging the poor creatures against a glass window to see which ones would stick and gleefully stomping on the ones that didn't (which was almost all of them) with a sickening crunch. It was in this moment that the child's compassion for the slimy molluscs outweighed her aversion and she quietly stole the bag when they were distracted with lunch.

So focused was she on her noble mission, she slipped on a mossy stone and fell into the river with a noisy splash. Thankfully, she was swiftly hauled out of the water and deposited onto a rock to drip-dry.

Shock and pain overwhelmed the little girl and she began wailing with the utter despair that only very young children can muster.

"Shhhhh, it's okay. You're all right now."

In her wretchedness, Isabella had forgotten about her rescuer. She opened her eyes to a rather solemn-faced boy, a few years older than her, with blond hair and the most serious grey-green eyes she had ever seen in a child.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Edward Cullen. I live there." The boy pointed to an elegant Georgian mansion on the other side of the river, the roof of which was just visible from the river bank.

"But that's where the Bad People live!" Isabella, like all five-year-olds, repeated what their parents told them and could not be relied on for diplomacy.

"I'm not bad! I saved you!" Edward was indignant. "Father says I'm the most responsible boy he knows. What's your name?"

"My name is Isabella Swan, but Mrs Cope calls me Bella." The sound that emerged was rather closer to "Bewwa".

"I am FIVE this year." She stuck out her hand and stretched all five muddy fingers, the way Mrs Cope taught her to. Bella was very glad to turn five indeed. Not only was she a Big Girl now and allowed to eat her dinner on a proper china plate with roses painted around the edge, five fingers were so much easier to show than four.

The boy's eyes widened, and then cast downwards in disappointment.

"Oh, you're a Swan. We can't be friends then."

"Why not?" Bella had conveniently forgotten about calling Edward "Bad People" only moments ago.

"Father said the Swans don't like the Cullens, so I shouldn't bother them if I ever see them."

"I like you. Will you help me put the snails back?" she said pointing at the bag.

"Yes! I like helping people. Father said I'm a Cullen, so I have to be good and helpful to everyone... you're bleeding!"

Sure enough, Bella had cut herself when she fell into the river and blood was trickling down a long thin wound along her inner forearm.

Edward produced a neatly-pressed white handkerchief from his pocket and proceeded to wrap it tightly around her forearm.

"Thank you."

"No need to thank me. You hurt yourself in my river. Father says I have to take care of the people on our land."

Bella was about to protest his claim to the river. Hadn't Daddy always said that the river belonged to the Swans?

"You should go home and get that cleaned up." Edward said regretfully. He was the only son and didn't have many children to play with. He was sorry to see his pretty new friend go.

Bella brightened. A bleeding wound was an excellent way of getting her normally distracted mother to fuss over her.

"Okay Edwood. I'm gonna go now. Don't forget me. Bye!"

Edward climbed up a tree to watch her arrive home safely. Coming down deftly, he gently liberated the rest of the forgotten river snails. He skipped home with a light heart, knowing all the while he would be chided for playing in the river and ruining his brand new shoes.

This is pretty much the first thing I've ever written, so...manage your expectations ya?