Many thanks to katmom for betaing and horsesoldier for her generous donation to the fundraiser that provided the beta service.

First version written for F4LLS, now revised and extended. Revisions were made post-beta, mistakes my own.

Warning for sexual content and gratuitous Jane Austen references.

Hi! If you've read ARB, this story is the "Alternate Reality" version of what would have happened if Edward had stopped and spoken to Bella when he saw her sleeping by the river when she was 17 (Edward mentioned watching her sleep in Chap 8 of ARB). If you haven't read ARB, prior reading is not necessary but Chap 1 & 2 of ARB will give you more background :)

Summer, 2005, England

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. My dear Isabella, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Isabella gasped at Mr. Darcy's words (but not without noting that he bore a striking resemblance to Colin Firth, save for his superior hair). Feeling herself overcome with gratitude and joy, she looked down blushingly, and was pleased to observe that her new muslin dress was setting off her modest bosom to its best advantage in this most important moment. Mr. Darcy was about to offer his hand, she was sure of it.

They were walking in the grounds of Pemberley, and Isabella could spy the handsome facade of Pemberley House in the distance just over Mr. Darcy's shoulder. "Of this, I shall soon be mistress!" she thought to herself.

Mr. Darcy gazed upon Isabella with the ardour of a man violently in love and was about to speak when he was interrupted by a loud splash. And then another. And another.

"Good afternoon! I hope I didn't wake you."

Bella opened her eyes slowly. Large shoes. A long stretch of legs. Broad shoulders blocking the sun. A smile entirely too wide for someone who was about to be smited with fire, flies and frogs for interrupting the best dream she'd ever had.

She recognised the boy as Edward Cullen, of the Cullens. She blinked at his smile, now faltering under her stare. What was he doing on her side of the river? She noticed a boat tied to the bank. He had done the unthinkable – he had crossed the river.

"You are trespassing on private property."

"So I did wake you. I apologise. May I?" The trespasser gestured towards a corner of her blanket and sat down before she could protest his audacity. No one had ever brushed off her glare as easily as he just did. Bella had been known to reduce unwanted suitors to tears with just one look before they even had to endure the lashings of her barbed tongue. Was she losing her touch? No, she was just caught by surprise. She gathered herself and got ready to stare him down properly.

The intruder remained unperturbed. He arranged his long limbs about him as he cast a glance at the spine of her book.

"Ah, Pride and Prejudice. I've always thought that Elizabeth Bennet fell in love with Pemberley first, then Mr. Darcy by extension. Very practical. Real estate is often easier to improve than a man, don't you think?"

Bella gasped. This was blasphemy of the blackest form. The indignation that only a 17 year-old Austenite can muster welled up in her and she launched into an earnest argument detailing exactly why he, a skimmer and a cynic, was wrong. To her surprise, he relaxed further into his position on the blanket and listened with a smile before answering each of her points thoughtfully.

That was the first afternoon Edward Cullen sat under her tree by the river.