Mags beta'd. In the midst of relocating and moving. She rocks. Any mistakes left over are mine.
This is one of my favorite scenes form the book, and I must admit, it was one of the most fun to adapt ;)
SM owns the characters. LMM owns the story that inspired me, and still does. Gilbert Blythe is still my first book boyfriend.
About two months passed in relative peace. Most of the school had completely forgotten about my abrupt claim to fame, and they simply went onto the next subject of gossip.
I was able to exchange one of my boring classes— marine biology— with photography, a change that was the beginning of everything perfect in my life. Mrs. Byrd, my photography teacher, was young, modern, and had spent time free lancing for National Geographic Magazine before settling down and getting married, ultimately moving back to her hometown of Victoria.
Mrs. Byrd also took me in with friendly, open arms and allowed me to run free with my ideas. She made sure I learned the basics: shutter speeds, apertures, how North light was the best light, rule of thirds, all to capture a split second of time that would last forever on paper. It was magic. I absorbed it all like a sponge.
On the home front, Esme and Carlisle were wonderful. I had no idea they'd decided to keep me, since this was still temporary in my mind, but when they asked me if I wanted to stay and I'd given them a wholehearted "YES" they surprised me the following week with the official adoption papers. To celebrate, they took me to the neighborhood bookstore and told me to have at it.
"Really?" I'd said, not really believing my luck.
Esme beamed her beautiful smile and wrapped an arm around my shoulder. "Really. Anything you want. There's a new empty shelf in your bedroom I want you to fill. Get to it," she said, and kissed the top of my head before shooing me off into the wonderland of bookshelves holding infinite worlds for me to get lost in. That was a good day. The best day.
I had a family. Finally.
After that, I snapped photos every minute of the day, from people to insects to flowers to the foggy mornings that were mysterious and wonderful. I took pictures of the passengers on the city bus and the Parliament building at different times of the day. I wandered the grounds of the Fairmont and capture the swaying willows.
After showing Mrs. Byrd some of the shots I'd taken around town, I settled into my seat along with the other photography students, ready to listen to whatever new project she had in store for us.
"So, I know it's starting to get a little cold out now that Winter is knocking on our door, but I thought we could get one more outdoor project in before we can't anymore." Mrs. Byrd moved around her desk to lean against an empty stool, her eyes bright with enthusiasm. Oh, I could feel it. This was going to be good.
"I want each of you to research one work of art— whether a painting or sculpture— and recreate it in live action." My classmates mumbled to one another, some excitedly, others groaning in protest. I dutifully took out my little journal, the one I used for sketches and writing down inspiring quotes and poems from books, and began to scribble the details of the project.
"You will pull out all the stops, I'm talking costume, setting, location. I want you to try and set up the proper lighting. After you get the right shots, you'll come back to the studio and bring them into the photography software. Feel free to manipulate with filters, or other tools in the program's arsenal. You've got two weeks! Get crackin'!"
We dispersed to our preferred method of research. Some went online, but I asked for the pass to visit the school library, knowing they had a small art section. Once there I perused several History of Art books before finding the perfect painting. My mind suddenly buzzed with ideas and I was truly inspired that I would be able to pull this off using one of my favorite poems. I only needed to see one more person to help me make it happen.
As I took the book to the front desk to check out, however, fate had other ideas.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Little Orphan Annie."
"Hello, Irina." I sighed. So much for my good day. I continued to wait for the librarian, Mrs. Brown, to scan my selections, catching Irina's sneer out of the corner of my eye.
"There you go, dearie," Mrs. Brown said, handing me my books. I could've sworn I saw her give Irina a disapproving look, but I couldn't be sure.
As I tried to open the door to make it to my next class, Irina blocked my path.
"Irina, could you please step aside? I need to get to English." I looked at her frowning face.
"You think you're so perfect, with your perfect grades, and your perfect new family, and your oh-so-heartfelt little sob story. You think you've got everyone wrapped around your little finger... especially Edward." She laughed... well, actually more of an evil cackle like some villainous sorceress.
"Irina, I really don't know what you're talking about, or why you hate me so much. I certainly don't think I have anyone wrapped around me little finger, as you say, much less, Edward Masen. As a matter of fact, I want nothing to do with that rude, obnoxious, egotistical boy. I really just want to get to class, so if you'll excuse me–"
"Good. Because even if you wanted him, he's mine. You would never... ever be anyone he'd want to be with. Remember that." With those final words, she stepped aside, still too close, forcing me to brush up against her shoulder. I wanted to cry, I was so angry. But I wouldn't let Irina see—or anyone else, for that matter— how I really just wanted to crawl under a rock and slip away from everyone's view.
Instead, I ran to the girl's bathroom and cried. Alone.
Because Irina was right about one thing... if I ever did think about Edward in that way— which I certainly did not— Edward would never see me that way. I was positive about that.
After I composed myself, I walked into AP English five minutes late. Mr. Torres seemed slightly annoyed but thankfully didn't say much. "I hope you're ready to catch up, Ms. Swan," he said as I quietly sat down in my seat.
"Oh, yes, sir. I will. I apologize for my tardiness. It will never happen again." I immediately took out my notebook and diligently copied from the board.
Some time later, I felt strangely as if someone was staring at the back of my head. A weird sensation that made the hairs in the back of my neck stand up. I slowly turned around, only to find none other than Edward Masen staring back. I couldn't look away. His eyes anchored me in place, but I couldn't make out what his expression meant. Just like that, he seemed to shake himself out of whatever he was thinking and returned his eyes to the board.
What was wrong with the people at this school?
AP English was my last class of the day, so when the final bell rang, I didn't linger. I bolted from my seat, escaping intense green eyes I couldn't decipher. I made my way instead to the drama department, where Alice was getting ready for rehearsals. Being in the drama club since she started high school, she was now the lead in the company's rendition of Romeo and Juliet. I loved watching her on stage, and had taken some photographs of the action the last few times, loving all the stark contrasting lighting and colors. But today, I was on a mission.
"Alice!" I said as I found her backstage.
"Bella! Yeah, you're here!" A wide grin and crinkled eyes that looked so much like her brother's welcomed me, and I loved knowing my best friend was a kindred spirit. "Are you gonna take pictures again? I think we're practicing the balcony scene in a few."
"Yes, I'll stay and take some shots. It'll actually be perfect practice for a little project I need you and the girls for." Alice's eyes danced as she clapped repeatedly. She was positively giddy, which in turn made me giddy too.
"What project? What are we doing? Should I call Charlotte? Angie? Rose? Carmen?"
"Yes, yes to all of them. But I might also need access to some costumes." I raised my shoulders and bit my lip, narrowing my eyes and waiting for her reaction. I should've known not to worry.
"Costumes? Yes! What do you need?"
"We're acting out a painting. Actually, we're acting out the poem the painting is based on… you game?"
Alice's smile turned sly as she raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I'm game. Where do we meet?"
"Are you sure this is safe?" Angie asked. She joined us along with the rest of the girls, and she was such a worry wort.
"Ugh, Angie, for the last time, it's fine. My dad uses this boat all the time. No biggie," Rose assured us. I wasn't really worried. I was to fixated on getting the shots I needed. Angie, however, wasn't completely convinced.
"But what if something happens? Charlotte won't have time to get out of the boat if the current takes her. I've heard some awful stories—"
"That's exactly what they are, Angie— stories. Now calm down and help me get this tied to that trunk over there." Rose led Angie to said tree trunk that bowed gracefully over the stream at the park and nature walk down the street from school. Its willowy branches created a beautiful canopy that looked almost like an ancient tree mother from the YA series I'd read the other night… part of my bookstore shopping spree sponsored by Esme and Carlisle.
On the way towards the stream, we'd noticed the boys' varsity soccer team was arriving and some had already started to warm up. In the back of my mind, I knew very well Edward Masen was on the team, but I would rather cut off my right arm than admit that I desperately wanted to see if he'd arrived. No. That simply wouldn't do. I had a job to accomplish and I was going to see it through.
"Ok, girls," I said after taking a deep breath, prompting Alice to take out the book of Tennyson's poetry. "Just like we rehearsed. Alice will read the poem to get us all in the mood while I take the photos. Charlotte, remember, I need you to look hopeful, you're in search of Camelot and the gallant Sir Lancelot."
Angie audibly sighed. "So romantic."
"Tragic too. She freaking dies before she can get to the castle," chimed Rosie, coming back with Angie after tying the dingy up.
Charlotte gingerly stepped into the boat, completely decked out in medieval dress on loan from the drama club, and carefully sat.
"Yes, just like that, Charlotte. Perfect." I started snapping away after properly adjusting my settings, the constant click sounds of the shutter mixing in with the watery sounds of the creek. I prompted Alice to start reading without taking my eye from the viewfinder. Then she arrived at the dramatically romantic climax:
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
I clicked away, lost in the prose and rhythm. When Alice reached the moment of truth, Charlotte laid down, her long golden hair fanned around her. My current position wouldn't do. I simply had to get higher up, to get just the right shot. As Alice read, I spotted a tree that would no doubt hold my weight just fine.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right-
The leaves upon her falling light-
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot.
For ere she reached upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
I hung the camera on its strap around my neck and started to climb. One foot here, one foot there. Until I finally reached the perfect spot.
"Bella, Are you sure that's a good idea?" Alice stopped reading and looked up, the alarm in her voice almost comical to me.
"Of course! It's totally safe. Keep reading. I just need one… more… step…ohh. OHHH!"
All I could hear were shrieks and shouts of terror from the girls. I don't know what happened, but I had somehow managed to slip and was now holding on precariously to a low-lying limb, my legs up to my torso submerged in the water. It was time to panic!
"Help! I can't swim!"
"Seriously, Swan?!" Rose yelled at me. "Are you serious right now?!"
"Well, I didn't think I would fall! Alice, please! Someone! I'm losing my grip! I don't want to die!"
Charlotte was out of the boat and pacing, screaming with the others.
"I'll be right back!" Alice shouted. "Bella! Don't you dare let go! I'll be right back!"
"On it!" she yelled as she ran. Maybe there was a park ranger who would come to the rescue and carry me to safety. But I couldn't even think about that since I felt myself slipping once again.
"I can't hold on! Rose! Charlotte! Angie! I don't think I'm going to make it! Tell Esme and Carlisle I love them!"
"Oh, Jesus, Swan. Don't be so dramatic! Focus on holding on!" Rose chastised.
The carrying on from the girls coupled with my emergency situation came to a head in my mind and I think I started to cry. Yes, I could feel the stinging hot tears of failure and fear.
Just when I was about to give up and meet The Lady of Shallot's fate, I heard Alice again.
"Please, Edward, help her! She can't swim!"
Oh no. No no no no no no.
This wasn't happening.
"Holy shit, Bella. What the hell are you trying to do, kill yourself?" Edward's voice permeated my very soul in that moment, and I wanted nothing more than to melt into the tree and disappear out of sheer shame, but fear overrode anything else in the moment, so I clung to my pride with all my might.
"Obviously not, Edward! If I wanted to kill myself, I certainly wouldn't have caused a scene about it!" I don't even know what I was saying anymore. Edward ripped off his cleats and socks, leaving him in soccer shorts and jersey as he stepped into the creak and into the boat to bring it close to where I dangled.
Edward stood confidently under me, raising his arms to catch me. Oh, dear God, he wasn't planning on…
"Bella, you can let go now, I've got you," his voice rang calm and sure. I looked down, expecting to see that knowing smirk that mocked as much as it melted. Instead I was met with his wide, concerned eyes and squared jaw as his hands grabbed my waist and held me.
"You can let go. You're not going to fall or drown. I'm here."
Breathing heavily, I closed my eyes tightly as I finally let go.
My weight toppled us over as the boat swayed. To my utter horror I landed right on top of him, his outdoorsy boy smell all round me. For a moment, time stopped and the world froze. I only saw him, I couldn't look away. Only when I saw his eyes flicker to my lips did I snap out of if and gracelessly flounder out of his hold until I was on one side of the boat and he was on the other. I couldn't look at him anymore. My face felt hot, and I knew my blush was a traitor. No matter. I could brush it off to fear of my ultimate demise.
Once secured on the shore, I stepped out without another glance at him. Maybe I could finally escape with a bit of dignity. Edward wasn't done, though. I felt his hand grab my wrist gently, just enough to stop me in my tracks. I wouldn't dare look back.
"Bella, I…" He hesitated, and after a moment I couldn't hold it anymore and turned to him. His face was pained, like he was struggling. Edward Masen, struggling with words. Who knew?
I saved him from having to be polite. "Thank you, Edward. You didn't have to do that, but you did. I won't forget it. Now, if you'll excuse me." I started to turn, only to be stopped once more.
"Bella, please. Can we not just be friends? Seriously? I apologized to you—"
"Insincerely," I cut in.
"No. I meant it. You're choosing to see this how you want to because it's easier, for whatever reason—"
"Stop. Please. Just… accept my apology. I really just want to be your friend. I hope you'll let me."
His hopeful expression nearly killed me on the spot and at that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be friends with Edward Masen. But Irina's cruel words rang out in my head. I couldn't think clearly. So I did what I do best… avoided.
"I need… I… I need to go," I replied in a rush, unlatching his hold on me and running up the hill away from him towards the girls who were checking me over and talking over one another. I could see something in Alice's eyes, though, as she glanced to where her brother stood and back to me. Her eyes silently pleaded with me to put everything aside and just move forward.
Was I ready to move forward? Was I willing to put aside my hang ups and accept Edward's truce?
Being near death changes your perspective. I sighed as the girls wrapped me with a towel from the boys' equipment and ushered me away, farther from him. I couldn't help myself from glancing back, seeing Edward's tall, athletic frame standing still, not moving an inch from where I left him.
Damn it. I had to talk to him. And soon.
A/N: AoGG readers, I hope I did it justice. Thank you al for your kind words and wonderful reviews, and for your continued patience. It's been quite a stressful summer. Ladies at TFMU, I'm there with you in spirit! Love you all!