Age of Edward Contest

Nerdette Love

Title: A Position of Poverty

Type of Edward: Victorian Edward

Category: Young Adult

England. London.

October 1860.

Introduction

A little carriage with its contents rattling around in the back trundles through the streets of the east end of London. It passes by a small street with its terraced houses, where many an eight or nine member family cram into a two up, two down house; sometimes even more. Thick smog surrounds the houses from the new industrial sites that have been erected all around. The clothes on the line are blackened from the smoke. The houses share a communal bathroom with unsanitary facilities, which means the spread of disease is strong.

England 1860 is not a particularly nice time to be around, especially in the centre of London with the hustle and bustle of society, and the crowded housing. Then there is the London west end, which is an entirely different world. The west is something different because of the big houses, the servants and mown lawns, the exquisite parties, the high class ladies and gentlemen. The west is an altered world.

There is one house in particular which strives against the social normalities of the London 1860 society within the depths of the east end; it is the Masen household. A young boy lives there with his parents and younger sister. Instead of his mottled hands from manual labour, and lungs filled with dust whilst nearing their early death. There lives a young man in his prime with an unblemished appearance, straight teeth, clean hair, no disease and he has an education. This is a young man who is struggling to rise above his place, to make a new name for his own and enter the middle-class where he could escape his poverty riddled future.

This particular house happens to be on one of the fore-mentioned streets that the little carriage passed on its journey to the local grocer's shop, ready to supply vegetables and fruits for the week. The shop his parents bought their fruit and vegetables from to provide their boy with the much needed vitamins for growth as a boy. They spent the little money they had, which soon ran out when another mouth was brought into the world to feed, and two more consecutive children who unfortunately didn't survive their first winter to bear a burden upon the family. In such a time this was a God-send, not a tragedy. The street is known as Gresham Street which resides beside the local colliery.

The boy in question—who was almost a man—went by the name Edward Anthony Masen. A boy so handsome despite his status of near poverty, that even ladies of the west end turned their head to eye him with desire. Although this was all done with the utmost subtly of course; for if they were caught they most certainly would be troubled. It would not be seen proper or right for a young lady of such stature to eye a boy in any way. The era of the 1860s, one should know is of prudency and romance behind a hidden door, that is, if the sexual desire could not be repressed. The Victorian era is one of ladies of leisure being asked to tea with other dear friends, and extravagant proposals from gentlemen of substantial wealth.

However none of this is to matter if the tale does not begin inside the third house of Gresham Street in the London east end. Since within those walls lies the tale in need of telling, the life and truth of Edward Anthony Masen.

The Making of Edward Anthony Masen

"Edward, how many hours must you pour over those books?"

The boy twists his head in annoyance, a frown marring his beautiful face, as he stares down his little sister. "What now, Henrietta?"

She twists her hands uncomfortably under his scrutinising stare. "I'm hungry."

He immediately pulls away from his books to study his sister in her oversized robe that has too many patches, a hole that needs sewing and a faded tinge to it. Her arms are small and spindly, her legs bowed and beneath that oversized dress, is a child lacking in nutrition. Her ribs stick out too much and her face is shallow and shrunken.

He himself fairs marginally better, with a set of robes that are a little too short in the leg, but lacking any patches or holes. His body is at the peak of physically form with filled out muscles and a sturdy frame—without the bowed legs, due to his mother's care and attention that her first boy be fit and healthy. His father also required this because he wanted Edward to follow him into the mine; something he had not done.

The boy, nearing manhood, was lucky to have escaped being forced into going down the mines, into the mills or up the chimneys. As a small boy his parents had placed him into schooling which drained most of the money they earned, and left little for food, and the little food they got was given to the boy. His mother always dreamed that he'd become a big-wig within the west end and how he'd marry a lady—she was a dreamer, still was, which is why she fought his dad so hard for the upbringing she desired for her "Little Prince". However when it came to Hettie, they had neither the money nor did she have the prospects to gain success in the world as a girl. The male gender rules society far more than the women. His sister was a dead end.

Nevertheless this does not mean Edward doesn't care for his sister, or that he hasn't tried to help her because she gained his deepest sympathy and utmost love.

"Come here, Hettie." He pats his knee gently and she shuffles forward with a nervous smiles.

He knows how she likes to sit on his knee and cuddle up against him on the dark, cold, winter nights or when she'd had a nightmare. He offers what comfort he can for his sister in hopes of giving her a semblance of security in her life. She is thirteen years of age and nearing fourteen: the age in which their father will be forced to send her out into the mills or factories to earn her keep. He has kept her for as long as he can, but he fears their father will not suffice to feed them all much longer. It is such a sad misfortune for someone of Hettie's disposition. She is such a sweet, little girl with not a bad bone in her body. She has an innocent naivety about her which will not fair her well for the harsh truths of London.

She hops up onto his knee and looks up at him through her big lashes that frame those giant, green eyes. Despite her being a little thin, and malnourished, she is not an ugly thing. She is beautiful. She has her green, orb-like eyes, her peachy-pink lips, and a pointy chin with pixie ears. Her hair is dark brown, and falls straight down to her waist. It is silky soft despite the conditions they live in—after Edward saved to buy her a brush from the money he'd earned from his apprenticeship last year. It was her birthday and Christmas present, but a secret between the young man and his sister. If their parents had found him to be squandering money on such a thing his father would surely have stuck him.

It seems naïve to spend money on an item that cannot offer any aid to his sister other than beauty enhancements, but it was the smile on her face to receive such a beautiful present that the boy could not resist.

"Are you mad with me, Eddie?"

The boy prevents his mouth mashing into a harsh line upon the nickname that she insists upon calling him. He cannot bear to tell her how he hates it, and see the disappointment or even worse the upset marring her little features, if he were to say.

"I am not, Hettie. Why would you ever think so?"

"You called me Henrietta. You only eva' call me Henrietta when you're mad."

"I was merely frustrated with my own progress." He sighs and strokes his hand through her hair whilst she leans against him.

"I don' want you to leave, Eddie."

"I am not going far, and I will be returning every eve."

"B-but." Her lower lip quivers and her eyes fill with tears.

"Shush, honey, don't cry." He rocks her gently.

"Ma said I'm gonna 'av to work now you've gone up in the world."

The boy drops his head slightly to hide the torment he feels inside for Hettie showing as he thinks about her working. He would be surprised if she lasted longer than a single winter out in the factories in her state.

"I will talk to Ma."

"Thank you, Eddie!" She wraps her little arms around his neck, and he thinks that if he were ought to make a wrong move he would surely crush her within his grip.

"Do you want some food, Hettie?"

She pulls away again, having gone back to her shy self. She nods slowly as she bites her lip. Her eyes are wide and he can see the craving and famish within them.

Edward reaches into his rickety desk draw and pulls out a piece of fruit and bread Ma had given him that morning, telling him this was all she could give him for the moment, but he needed to eat it to keep up his strength to compete with the elite of Oxford.

He was lucky to have gained a scholarship for his time at Oxford funded by a gentlemen he'd done his apprenticeship with last year. He would not have the fortune to study at Oxford if it were not for Mister Charles Swan. He was a man who invested heavily within the constables and worked hard for his position within middle-class society. Although he may have well been within the elite for he and his family attended all the parties, were strong players in politics, had a big house in Kensington with numerous servants.

This term Edward would study under the Dr. Carlisle Cullen. He was incredibly eager to begin his studies despite not having finished the required reading list for the first term that had nearly left him broke. However his book funding was to be discussed with Mister Charles Swan. They were very heavy going, and some of the language Edward was struggling to understand, for his education in the most part had been given by a doddery, old man who threw books at Edward like sweets to eat, and expected him to learn the contents of by heart. He surmised his education would be far below the standards of other Oxford candidates and he wouldn't be far wrong with such an assumption.

His life had not been an easy one so far and he expected it to become much harder when he had to become the art of suave and sophistication so he could appear within the high-class social scene of the elite aristocracy.

"Eddie!" His little sister eyes the food with a ravenous gleam. One could describe her as looking as though she'd ingest the food upon sight.

"Here, Hettie. You shall eat because you need it far more than I shall ever."

She hesitantly reaches for the small morsel of bread and piece of fruit—the fruit no longer distinguishable from the bruises—as though the food shall disappear at any moment. One should fear if she shall get any thinner, the very wind shall knock her off her feet and she shall never stand again. This should help to keep up her strength.

Once the food is within her grasp it is shovelled into her mouth, and she gouges out chunks of the bread and does not even stop to swallow.

"Slow down, Hettie, you shall give yourself digestion troubles of the stomach."

She looks at her brother in confusion while continuing to eat as much of the food as possible at once. He brings his hand to pull the bread from her mouth. She freezes and flinches.

He hates their father for doing that to her. He struck her once for insolence, which she could never be, and now a sudden change of mood has never left her the same again. She is such a delicate, little being that it's so frightful to imagine.

She pulls the food back from his hand when she realises the he will not hurt her, and he's merely concerned for her well-being, especially since the boy is studying to become a Doctor.

"Edward!"

Hettie flinches when she realises Ma may catch her in her brother's room, and eating his food no less.

"Duck under the bed and stay quiet," he whispers to Hettie.

She slips of his knee and shuffles under the bed taking the food with her. He holds back a smile seeing how she cannot bear to part with her food. She really does believe it shall disappear.

"Edward, you're gonna be late for seein' Mister Swan!" she screeches.

He has to clasp his hands over his ears to block out the deafening, spine-curving sound. "In here, Ma!"

She bangs open the door to his room. Her face has aged harshly with the decorated lines of work and poverty. The sunken eye sockets and hollowed cheek, her yellowing skin and rotting teeth, along with her clothes covered in dirt and dust from the mill floors, all add to her haggard appearance.

"You better get your behind up there, laddy, for if you ain't up there within half the hour, there will be trouble to be 'ad."

"Yes, Ma." She gives him a pointed look and moves off down to see the lodger.

They share the house with only one lodger, quite uncommon for the time, but they are a little wealthier than the poorest of people. Their lodger goes by the name, Mister Jacob Black, who Ma believes to be a lost gentleman awaiting his fortune, while Edward takes a more realistic opinion. He believes him to be a free slave for his Native American appearance sets him apart from others and grants him some prejudice from the meaner of society. Edward had taken an instant dislike to him because he hovered around Hettie like a slab of meat.

Edward quickly scrambles around for his bag, being careful to select several of his good books. He ducks to give Hettie a kiss, grabs his new coat and top hat, before he hurries from the house. He is to head for the residency of Mister Charles Swan and if he runs he shall surely be promptly on time.

The Introduction to Miss Isabella Marie Swan

By his only—rather off—calculations he believes himself just in time to meet with Mister Swan. His hair is windswept, his cheeks are flush from the physical exertion of the run, but he feels alive.

He climbs the few steps to the residency of Mister Swan and knocks on the door using the knocker.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

The door opens after a few moments to reveal the greying butler of the house.

"Good afternoon, Master Masen. I shall inform the Mister Swan you are here." He swiftly leaves the room, leaving Edward alone in the foyer.

He contemplates how he is still a Master and feels so much like a man. His eyes wander around the room taking in the grand décor and alluring atmosphere. His eyes follow the gleaming gold banister to the first floor, where he gains a glimpse of the Master of the house's daughter, Isabella.

She is beautiful beyond belief, a very vision from the heavens: a pure angel. Her eyes are chocolate orbs. Her hair is pinned back upon her head, with a few lose curls that frame her high cheekbones and flushed cheeks. Her skin is pasty white, and enhanced by the valour of the deep crimson dress she wears. It pulls in her waist and fans out to the ground. The dress design is one many ladies of the time choose to wear as their day, evening, and party gowns; it's made from imported material.

"Isabella!" A woman comes bustling along behind her as she stares down at Edward.

Isabella doesn't break her gaze with him as her eyes shine with something hidden, that he cannot quite decipher, and her deep crimson lips turn up into a smile.

"Isabella!" The woman shakes the young girl by the shoulder and she turns around not seeing the returning smile that crosses Edward's face.

"Edward!" Mister Swan comes out of the drawing room with cigar in hand, and his breaches straining against his large, round stomach.

"Mister Swan."

"Let's go to the office to discuss our gentlemen's business, it's certainly no place for a lady to be." He gives his daughter a pointed look, since she is once again leaning over the banister. "I expect you to do as your mother says, Isabella!"

"Yes, Father." She nods her head and picks up her dress before exiting back to a room upstairs, away from Edward's yearning eyes.

"I am sorry about my daughter interrupting us, Edward. She is quite the wild child." He throws back his head and laughs.

He quickly grows serious and pulls himself to a firm height, whilst twisting the cigar in his hands. His robes fit snugly and are a rich, deep black. It would be safe for one to assume they are tailor made. They are far above the class of Edward's. Mr. Swan's shoes are shined and gleaming in the afternoon light that streams through the windows. Edward's own are a little muddy, dulled and cleaned by him whenever he has the opportunity. He does not have a servant just to clean his shoes like Mister Swan because he cannot even afford one servant. A servant for his family wouldn't be of much usage in such a time when food and clean sanitation is more important to keep them healthy and prevent disease.

"Come, boy. We shall discuss your scholarship." He leads the way to his office. The smoke billowing behind him and Edward has to force himself not to choke and cough on the god-awful smell it's producing.

Isabella Swan, the "Wild Child"

The things gentlemen discuss in the privacy of their own office is something that does not extend to the ears of those outside, but as one has seen, Isabella is a wild child and after having managed to duck out of her mother and maid's grasp, snuck down to loiter outside her father's office. She was not traditional lady of the time and hated to be pampered and treated as fragile. She was one of the growing revolutionists who believed women should be equals.

However the right for equality was a far time ahead and a lot of hard work in the making, for women who would not gain even a semblance of equality until after the First World War in the 20th century. Many of the men said it was the fallout from having a Queen rather than a strong figurehead King to put women in their place that caused this reaction. Isabella would have called this tosh. She liked to watch politics, read, write, and learn all the things a man could.

Her father had been generous in her upbringing, allowing her to become educated as well as learning the things a lady should such as knitting, sewing and caring for a house. She believed this was because she was his only child, and he had to be seen to pass on his knowledge to somebody. It was for the reason he had taken on an apprentice and was placing Edward through Oxford because he wanted the "son" he'd never had. Edward was the perfect boy for him to mould, in need and impressionable at the age where money spoke volumes.

Isabella was skulking around her father's office because she had become enamoured with Edward Masen who her father had taken on last year as an apprentice. This was when she'd gained her first glimpse of him. He had caught her eyeing him before and she had blushed and fled. Things had intensified and deepened from there, but neither had sought the others close company.

He was strong, graceful and so manly that it made her want to throw herself at him despite her strong need for independency. He was a perfect gentleman. He alighted something inside of her that was exciting and devilish.

"Edward, you are to become a gentleman …"

Her father was speaking now, his voice gruff and low from the continual inhalation of fumes.

"A party tonight … you must come."

She heard glimpses of his speech and became exited when she thought of the possibility of seeing Edward at a party. She could dance with him if he asked her. Oh how she hoped he'd ask her to dance.

Isabella heard footsteps behind and her father finishing up his business with Edward; how the name alone could make the young lady shiver in excitement. She quickly hiked up her dress and fled from the scene of her crime just as her father and Edward exited. Edward looked flushed and a little pale, most likely from the fumes her father would have been forcing him to ingest.

Isabella didn't care if his robes were a little too short or if he didn't have a fortune or big house to support her with. This man was excitement, dangerous and the forbidden fruit she craved.

The Arresting of Edward Anthony Masen

Edward felt nervous about the opportunity he'd been given tonight; he'd been allowed to attend a dinner. He would be wining and dining with the finest of society. Mister Swan had been encouraging him to attend and had paid for a suit of the finest material for him to wear, which would enable him to compete with the other young gentlemen who he would be attending Oxford, in a few short weeks. The suit had already been made and Edward was carrying it home now. He was nervous about the reaction of his parents and the views of the locals around. To be seen carrying such a valuable item would suggest to people that it had been stolen. Of course it had not been stolen, but people would view it as that and an awful lot of trouble could be caused by the "do-gooders" within their society.

Edward made quick strides back to the house he shared with his family for he would have to clean himself quickly and as adequately as possible before his return for dinner. He opened the little door to his house and entered.

"Ma, I'm home!"

She came bustling from the kitchen, looking flushed and angry. "What have you been doing, laddy? The local constable is in the kitchen waiting to talk to you! The word on the street is tha' you been doing illegal dealings and buyin' fancy outfits. I told them tosh! My boy is all above board and wouldn't be seen doing that. I told them he's off to Oxford on a scholarship … Oh, Edward!" Her eyes widened when she takes in the suit in his hands and the cloth cloaking it.

The constable chooses this moment to walk in. "Alright, laddy, it seems you've been up to no good. Care to tell me what fine gentlemen or establishment you stole this from?"

"It's not stolen; it's a gift from Mister Swan. He's funding my scholarship too."

"You ain't gonna pull the wool over my eyes with that swaddle, come on we best be off to Mister Swan to return this before I put you in the cell for the night. I 'ope you weren't off anywhere fancy." He smirks with an almost sinister satisfaction.

"But I didn't steal it!" Edward's cheeks flush and his anger grows at the accusations being thrown at him.

The poor were treated highly unfairly at this time if they were seen with something they were not expected to have, they were immediately accused of a crime. This was all to the misfortune of Edward who was herby dragged from the house by the constable holding his ear. His Ma meanwhile was screaming after him about his innocence.

"You can't do this to my boy, he's innocent. Ask Mister Swan he's supporting Edward's scholarship to Oxford. My boy's a good boy; he's going to be big in the world." She was practically in tears as the Constable halted in his dragging of Edward.

"I'm sure he is, Ma'am, but I 'av to sort this out with Mister Swan who will give us all the facts." He didn't look at all believing of Ma when he said this. He looked so gleeful at catching a "criminal" for the first time in his career. He however didn't know this would be the end of his career, and how he would be viewed for taking an innocent man under the instruction of Mister Swan to him in accusation of a crime he was far from committing.

"Ma, I'm innocent I am. We'll sort it out." Edward sounded strangled as he twisted about with his ear in the constable's hand.

"Easy, sonny! You ain't getting anywhere."

Little Hettie chose this moment to appear downstairs and was incredibly frightened by all that she saw. The events of her brother being carted away and accused of a crime he had not commit were certain to put a fright in her fragile body and delicate nature.

"Eddie!" the little girl cried out as she attempted to run after him.

Two strong hands swept her up and held her back, the hands of Mister Black. Edward was thankful for the hovering of Mister Black for the first time in his life. For he did not want to see his little sister hurt in the troubles of his own, and the wrong doings of the police. That's what they were, wrong-doings, for he was innocent and it would soon be proved upon their arrival at Mister Swan's home.

The Innocence of Edward Cullen

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The constable banged on the door of the Swan residency and held Edward firmly by the ear, who was feeling thoroughly sore and disgruntled.

The butler opened the door and his face was full of surprise for despite the numerous situations he had seen over the years, this one topped them all.

"Master Edward!" The butler looked pale.

"Good evening, good Sir, I am here to see the Master of the house."

"Of course, please wait in the foyer." The butler nodded his head and quickly left the room in search of Mister Swan.

Edward was still crouching at an odd angle and that was how he gained his second view of Isabella, from the side. She had heard the commotion within her room and had been curious. So once again she'd snuck down to discover the source of the disruption. Her face portrayed no emotion as she looked down upon the scene, but inside she was tearing up at the thought of Edward being a criminal. Then her father would never allow such a match with her.

She slipped back against the wall as her father thundered into the room. His face covered in splotchy rashes of red from his anger.

"Might I ask, constable, what are you doing with this young man?"

The constable gulps. "Umm … well you see, Sir. It had been reported that he was carting stolen goods and he told me they were from this establishment, so I am here to …" The constable trailed off, and gulped at the expression that was expressing the very depth of the anger within Mister Charlie Swan.

"What evidence do you base the left upon?"

"Reports from a particular neighbourhood individual, Sir."

Mister Swan folded his arms. "Who might this be?"

The constable coughed. "I am afraid I am not a liberty to express that information."

"Of course you are not. What does it require to loosen you tongue, and would you kindly unhand the boy."

"Sir!" The constable looked shocked at the thought of a bribe.

"So you're not a crooked one, you just like turning innocent people over for punishment. I will not ask you again to unhand this young gentleman."

"Gentleman?"

"Yes. He is going to Oxford with my backing to study to be a Doctor. He is to be engaged with my daughter."

Isabella was startled from the landing at this news. Was her father bluffing? When had this been decided? Could she really hope for such a thing? Isabella crept forward to try and see Edward's face who was still in an unfortunate position of being held by the constable, but he looked incredibly shocked at the news.

The constable dragged him up by his ear, and shook him up. "Is this true, laddy?"

Edward coughed and looked perplexed, but managed to answer after a fierce stare from Mr. Swan. "Yes. I am to study to become a Doctor."

The constable didn't look entirely convinced, and continued to probe. "How about this engagement, you don't seem to know much about that, do you?"

"Well … ahh. Mr. Swan mentioned it in passing, but I wanted to secure my … education. Yes, my position as a Doctor before I ask for his beautiful daughter's hand in marriage." Edward blushed at his words, but managed to look convincing.

Mr. Swan throughout wore a smug smirk.

"Unhand the gentleman immediately, and I will be reporting this to your superior."

The hand on Edward's ear disappeared much too quickly for one to even contemplate.

"I am quite sorry for your disturbing your time, Mr. Swan. Master Masen, your r-robe." The constable practically threw the outfit at Edward.

"Show him out, Roderick." Mr. Swan dismissed the constable without further glance.

Once the constable had left the establishment, Isabella came rushing down the stairs, whether it was proper or not for a lady she had to know the truth.

"Papa, do you mean it?"

Mr. Swan looked surprised at Isabella's intrusion, but didn't show any kind of anger. His lips twitched into a rare smile for the sour man. His wife, Renee Swan chose this moment to sweep down the grand staircase looking entirely ruffled.

"Isabella! Darling, how many times must one tell you to stay within your quarters when one has been told?" Her mother rushed towards her with the air and grace of the lady of the house, like she was.

"Renee, darling, do not worry. I believe this is the perfect opportunity for Isabella to intercede." Mr. Swan held his arm up to his wife who came to stand beside him a little befuddled.

"Papa, were you jesting with the constable to free Edward?" Isabella's cheeks bloomed with a deep hew blush at the realisation she had strayed from formalities by calling him Edward, not Master Masen.

Mr. Swan laughs. "Oh, darling. Do you think I have not noticed you drifting outside your rooms upon the appearance of Master Masen."

Isabella ducked her head.

"I have seen you stare from afar since he first came and how Edward has looked to you when he arrived. Am I not mistaken Master Masen?"

Edward looked startled. "Sir, I would never p-presume to look at your d-daughter in such a way. She is far above measly me."

Isabella looked disappointedly at Edward; he had not admitted his feelings. She would have called him out on it, but from his cute, bashful expression she didn't have the heart, especially before her father.

"So you are not prepared to fight for my daughter's hand?"

"I would go to every member of the aristocracy and back for her."

Mr. Swan clapped his hands together. "Exactly the attitude one requires for the delicate temperament of one's daughter."

Edward chanced a glance to Isabella who was looking on in hope. They had been viewing one another from afar for over a year. They'd had never dared to talk, and tonight Edward had been hoping to ask for her hand to a dance, and Isabella had been hoping for a request to dance.

"Papa?"

"Hush, Isabella, go preen oneself for the party."

She looked disappointed at the dismissal, but her father's voice brooked no arguments. She gave Edward a look full of longing and left with her mother in tow, lifting up her dress she exited up the stairs.

"Edward, my boy, it would be an honour for my daughter to marry such a boy like you. However, we have to do something about your social status before people accept it. Therefore I suggest you work hard."

"Of course, Sir, I would never try to harm your daughter. Your daughter is very precious, and it would be an honour for me to marry her." Edward quickly ducks his head and smiles gratefully.

"Edward, one shall not discuss this any further today. Prepare for the dinner, our butler will give you a room to change, but beware, if I catch you dishonouring my daughter, you will be gone." Mr. Swan left on that cheerful note and Edward was guided to his own room by the butler. His mind was reeling after the events of today. Mr. Swan had very nearly agreed to allow Edward his daughter's hand in marriage. Could that ever be possible?

The Ball

Edward couldn't believe his surroundings as he entered the great hall. He'd already dined with the wealth of society and seemingly fitted in. Here he could feel free to peruse the exquisite ballroom to his heart's content, and view the paintings, the finally carved statues and eloquent outfits.

Edward had never felt so swallowed up by his surroundings. He searched everywhere around him and his eyes finally landed upon Isabella Swan, she looked divine.

After spending so much time watching her eat, laugh and revel in the attention of those around him, he was at the end of his tether with seeing Isabella Swan from afar. However he couldn't be seen to be too eager because it wasn't proper. He should allow himself to ponder for a time and once again resigned himself to watching from afar.

He found himself at the furthest part of the ballroom behind a pillar as he watched Isabella. Many gentlemen approached her, but everyone went away unsuccessful. It made Edward wary to approach, although he could sense as if she was waiting for him. She sat there the air of a lady.

Nobody noticed as Edward Masen cast aside the latest server and marched over towards Isabella Swan. He bowed before her and then rose. One should take notice of how her eyes gleamed with excitement at his approach and how he cheeks tinged pink under his intense gaze.

"Lady Isabella, I am inquiring as to whether you would accompany me for a dance?"

Isabella tilted her head back and eyed Edward with an appreciative eye. While every gentleman in the room looked on with jealousy and scorn that somebody of Edward's standing could even be considered by Isabella, one of the most eligible ladies within society.

"I would love to dance, Master Masen."

He held out his arm for her and leant a hand to aid her to her feet. She gladly accepted his offer and he lead her over to the ballroom floor.

"Oh, and, Lady Isabella, you should call me Edward." He grinned.

"Mr. Masen, is thou suggesting improper behaviour?" She giggled.

"No. Merely if we are to be friends I believe you should acquiesce to more friendly terms, Lady Isabella."

"Then no more "Lady Isabella" for I am not really that, call me Isabella, Edward."

"That is much improper, Lady Isabella, and you are worth a thousand ladies in my eyes."

Isabella blushed again under his gaze and he twirled them onto the floor. Nearly every eye in the room was held upon the couple who were wrapped up in their own bubble. The rapture they held over each other spread out across the room to gauge the audience's attention, and Isabella and Edward were soon the only ones to be dancing around the room. It would be hard for anybody to deny the attraction between the two.

Mr. Swan sat and watched the pair with a mixture of contentment and conflict. His daughter would be safely cared for by Edward once he passed his examinations within Oxford, but that would not be any time shortly, and he couldn't decide if he thought Edward well enough for his beautiful daughter.

"Edward, have you noticed that everybody is staring?" Isabella lent more into Edward.

"Are they?" He pulled back slightly to reassess his surroundings and realised the dire social slide they had made for themselves.

The music came to a gradual end and despite Isabella clinging to him, Edward pulled away.

"I'm afraid that is all the time I am allotted to have with you, Isabella. It has been a pleasure and the greatest honour."

"Must we stop, Edward?"

"Aye. It cannot be any other way, dearest Isabella." Edward takes her hand and guides her back to the seat she vacated, and there she would be approached by many more suitors. The young man would have to suffer in the torture of seeing the girl he held the highest esteem for, paraded around the room. For since she had accepted his offer she could not proceed to deny others without the circumstances of their dance looking suspicious.

Upon vacating the main dance hall, Edward was caught by Mr. Swan.

"Edward, my boy! I'm so glad you could attend tonight."

"Mr. Swan. Thank you for the opportunity to attend."

He laughed and dragged a breath of his cigar into his lungs. "I think it is best you leave now, Edward, you have caused quite the riot for tonight."

Edward was befuddled by Mr. Swan's sudden change in demure from laughter to abrupt hostility. His mind twisted back to whether he'd overstepped the social lines too far in asking Isabella to dance and at every opportunity he failed to grasps a reason.

"Go home, Edward, study for Oxford, spend time with your family. I shall call you again soon, but for now, do not come around to my house or seek my family's presence."

Edward remained in shock. He had been dismissed, after all Mr. Swan had said it has surmounted to nothing. He felt utterly desolate.

"G-g-goodbye, Mr. Swan." Edward ducked his head and quickly hurried from the building. Edward didn't want to show his disappointment or hurt at the sensations running through his mind. He'd been expelled from society; he would never see Isabella again.

The more rational side to his mind tried to tell him that it was merely until the talk faded out while the other told him they could never have worked.

A boy could be seen that night—nearing the hour of twilight—running through the streets. He tore the ground up beneath his feet as every stride took him further away from the lady he loved. Finally he made it home, panting, sweating and an emotional wreck. He burst through the front door to his home, expecting to find darkness and silence, but there was little of that in the upheaval of this household on a desolate night.

Tragedy Strikes

It would be hard for anybody to believe the sight before them, but for Edward he couldn't even wrap the shredded, tatters of his mind around his baby sister cradled in his mother's arms, battered and bruised beyond recognition.

"What happened?" he demanded. His eyes turned harsh and cold as he surveyed the situation, all the while wrapping the seething anger up inside of himself.

His mother looked up with her eyes full of tears as she sobbed. The tears streamed down her cheeks and she couldn't even bring herself to speak.

"No-o-o, Edward."

"Where is he?"

Jacob Black strode into the room at this moment, his hand dirtied with their own scratches and bruises, along with blood and his clothes smeared in mud.

"It's sorted."

"What do you mean? Sorted?" Edward glared at the lodger.

"He won't bother her again." The big hulk of Jacob knelt down beside Edward's mother and he tenderly pushed Hettie's hair away from her face. Edward was surprised by the tender action that he couldn't even bring himself to oppose the gesture.

He stormed from the room out into the back to find his dad on the floor, bleeding and beaten. "You disgust me!"

"Edward my boy, she w-was trouble m-making." The older man clutched his chest painfully and swiped at his bloody nose.

"Don't! Get out! Get out, and never come back!" Edward pulled back the gate and allowed it to slam against the wall. His father on the floor struggled to get up, and Edward watched impassively. He had overstepped the line and Edward couldn't allow this to continue. He wasn't sure how he would manage to fend for his family and attend Oxford, but his father could not be allowed to stay and harm Hettie again. She didn't even look alive.

He didn't allow himself to wonder if she was dead. She looked like she had some semblance of life left in her, but in such a state one can always wonder.

Edward Masen Senior, the man Edward had been named after, who had provided the best for him and had always been caring until he had taken to the drink after his wife's despair of losing two of her children, had become a snivelling mess on the floor.

One could hope that this would be the end of him, and for him to walk out of that gate and never return, but such a thing wasn't feasible at times like this.

"Edward, help your father in, he needs cleaning up."

"What?" Edward turned on his mother staggered.

She looked at him carefully, but holding strong in her position. "We cannot survive without him, and to lose another of our family, I cannot bear it, Edward."

"NO!" The young boy crashed past his mother without a thought—another family member could not be lost, surely not his Hettie—and sent her tumbling to the ground where he found Hettie cradled in Mr. Black's arms.

He snatched her from him and tenderly held her against his chest. Immediately his hands cupped her face with enteral gentleness and stroked the locks of her hair. He could see no sign of life, but he refused to admit such a thing.

"Hettie, open your eyes, Hettie. I'll make everything go away again, Hettie. Oh, Hettie. How can I go on without my little sister? I promise you, Hettie, you shall never work."

The young boy dropped to his knees in desolation. His little sister was gone. Edward was not one to cry, but the tears streamed down his cheeks and his body shook from the force of his sorrow.

"Edward, she is n—"

"Be quiet!"

A tenderness that one could not recognise in anything in such a time between anyone other than this brother and sister was shown as Edward rocked back and forth on the floor with his baby sister. The little girl he'd held at sixth months and nursed through colic and her cough. The little girl he'd watched suffer through many a traumatic experience.

"Ed-d-die." A weak cough could be distinguished to his ears.

Edward's head whipped around so quickly, one couldn't discern whether he would gain whiplash.

"Hettie?"

Her eyes cracked open and her breathing was wheezy, but she was alive.

"I'm n-not dead."

"Hush, baby, save your breath."

For a boy who would be studying to become a doctor it can be said to be concerning that he could not distinguish whether she was alive or not. However it should be factored in his emotional trauma to blind his rational state of mind.

Edward could feel the relief coursing through his body like a living, breathing being. He felt like ten years had been removed from his shoulders that he had not realised he'd gained. His mother chose that moment to hobble in, whilst aiding his father. His whole being was filled with disgust for that man.

"Hettie shall share my quarters, and I will take on dealing with her health. I shall not see her sent to work; she will not survive such an atrocity."

"Don't be stupid, ma boy!"

He turned to his mother. "Do not try to change my mind, nothing will change it." Edward rose fluidly—Hettie still cradled in his arms—and strode from the kitchen where he headed to his room so he could tend to his sister's injuries. He ignored the small specks of blood and mud that marred his suit, and concentrated on his sister's wellbeing. His little Hettie was alive, and that's all that mattered.

October 1865

Studying Under Dr. Carlisle Cullen

Carlisle over the past few years became not only a mentor, but a confidant for Edward. After he was ostracised by the other medical students who wished nothing to do with him, and then was shunned by Mr. Swan. Despite everything he may have said, Edward was not the gentlemen that would be suitable for his daughter and Edward came to realise this. Their business still came to pass and he was allowed the opportunity to study and gain his Doctorate, but then all contact ceased.

He never saw Isabella again after the ball or if he did, it was a fleeting glimpse of her around town or passing in a carriage. He may not have seen her, but his heart still yearned. At first he wallowed in his pity and depression over the situation and how he had been banned from the Swan residency, but then he became absorbed in his study and furthering his education.

Carlisle treated Edward like everybody else, as an equal. Since Edward came to surpass his classmates in everything to a standard so far above everyone that it was hard to comprehend the boy who'd come from the poverty riddled housing terraced estate. He soon became Carlisle's golden student. If it were not for him though, he would never have come to where he was.

Then there is Hettie, she had become a place of comfort and support as she had aged, for Edward. She fell in love with Mr. Black and left Edward's care merely last year. She is to turn 19 this winter, and now happily married. She is expecting her first born this spring and is living in a grand house in Kensington. It seemed Edward's mother was correct about Mr. Black, one of the only things she's was, he was a decedent from a Duke who had left him a fortune.

Edward was beyond happy for his sister, but he could not hide the slight resentment he felt for her doing so well, after he supported her. However he himself had become a gentleman of esteem working with the famous Carlisle Cullen and placing a bond upon a plush apartment within Kensington—thanks to Carlisle's aid, he was rising in the world.

To prove such a point Edward would be attending a masked ball this weekend to fully represent his integration with the aristocracy.

One may wonder about his parents, one may question did they die like paupers? To answer such questions, they did not. Edward bought them their own house out in the countryside where they could live happily with the support of Edward. He still held deep anger towards his father, but he could not ignore the aid his parents had given him in his upbringing and felt obliged to support them. His money had come from the large payment he had been given by Mr. Swan to never see his daughter again. Edward was not one to do such a thing light-heartedly, but when he realised he wanted only the best for Isabella and how Mr. Swan would set out to damage his own prospects of aiding his family, he took the money and fled.

He could not deny the guilt he held over it now, and the deep pain at his cowardice—that's what he called it. He had failed to be the man Isabella deserved and this served to prove the very reason he should not be allowed to see her.

He had created a new life under the guidance of Carlisle and maybe one day he would redeem himself. Then he would be worthy to give his love to a beautiful, young lady who might just love him back. It may not be his angel, Isabella, but anybody that could care would suffice for Edward.

The Masked Ball

The hall was brimming with masked woman in lavish dresses that were every colour of the rainbow; it was filled with gentlemen with or without a mask, since some believed it was a frivolous superficial act to disguise oneself. Those who felt more self-conscious—certain gentlemen argued—were the ones who tended to disguise themselves. Edward had none of these qualms for he knew he had the looks to charm a lady if he so wished, but he chose to dress for the sport.

His mask was a simple and delicate gold piece to frame his eyes, and contrast with his stark, green orbs. One would say he looked beguiling and as soon as he entered into the room, he captured the attention of every lady and even some gentlemen. The ladies stares were filled with hunger and lust for this masked man. His body was defined by the black tux, his hair was immaculate, his teeth not stained or broken and his hands were not those of a manual labourer. He looked like the perfect gentlemen, had the air of perfect gentlemen, the education and even the job, but those within the room would never know his poverty riddled past, for he was a changed man.

A hushed silence came across the room when Edward entered with Carlisle. Once they had been announced the band picked up speed again, the laughter was raucous and the couples took to the dance floor. Nobody took in Edward as he silently glided around the outskirts of the ballroom—hiding away from people— he grasped a champagne flute from a server and going to rest against a pillar. Away from the probing eyes of the others Edward watched with interest the world around him; the passing of aristocracy.

Then a girl who was demure in appearance, but held a fire within her stance and dress captured Edward's eye. She had a brilliant, sapphire-blue dress, which was threaded with gold and silver. She had a silver mask that covered her eyes, leaving her mouth and nose free. The mask was crusted with swirls and curls before striking out with vivid blue feathers to the side. Unlike many others it was attached to her face so she did not have the necessity of holding a stick in the air to hide herself. She looked divine. Her lips were plump and red, and called more to Edward than any girl he could remember. Her hair was scraped back in a twist upon her head so it could help secure her mask. It looked almost black in the dark light of the alcove she resided in. Edward had not felt this attracted to a woman since his encounter with Miss Swan as a young man. How could one resist such a calling?

A server flying by stumbled when a hand shot out to stop him. The server quickly ground to a halt, and prevented a potentially catastrophic fall when the man who had stopped him hastily placed the empty flute on his tray not bothering to see the condition of the server before he sauntered of in search of the women he'd just seen. Edward chose that moment to place his own empty flute on the tray but took the time to see if the server was well.

"Are you well, Sir?"

The server's eyes bugged out of his head. "Y-yes, Sir!"

"Very well, I should hope nobody troubles you again in such a manner. If they do, come to me and I shall have a quiet word." Edward winked before walking away. Despite his new found wealth, he hated to lord his power over anybody else.

Finally he made his way to the alcove where the beautiful lady had dragged her eyes from the dancing couples to rest upon him. He bent formally at the waist and held out his hand. "Excuse me, beautiful Miss, I am inquiring as whether you are inclined to dance this eve?"

She pursed her lips. "I never dance."

"Maybe I could sway you, for I am a fine dancer? Shall you give me a chance and if you find my services unsatisfactory I shall never bother you again."

Something glimmered in her eyes and the ladies around her were shocked to see her lips upturn into a smile, for she had not smiled a day since the last ball she had attended. This eve she had been determined only to come to corner Edward Masen and demand the answers for the pain he had caused when he fled the ball. She'd been left no longer betrothed and so deeply in love that her heart had fractured and splintered. When the subject had been broached with her father he had refused to discuss the topic other than to say that he'd been discarded with the way to his heart, money. Her heart was fluttering at this gentlemen and he held an edge so like Edward that she did not care to wallow in her sadness a day longer.

She took his hand which was firm and strong. He helped her rise and led her gently to the floor. He grasped her waist tightly and pulled her flush against his body. She blushed.

Edward brushed his fingers across her cheek once and she gasped. He looked deep into her eyes and he noticed a chocolate familiarity to them, the blush, the hair, the electric current between them.

"Isabella?"

She looked so bewildered that her lips puckered and her brow furrowed.

"Edward?"

"It is me, darling Isabella."

"You left."

"I had no choice."

He could hear the desperation and hurt in her voice and began to twirl her faster when his emotions spiralled out of control. He didn't want to give her the opportunity to escape and only drew her tighter to him.

"My father said he paid you to leave my company."

"What could I do? He paid my way and my family were in dire need. I could not support you. I believed you better with a gentleman worthy of such a beauty as you."

"Oh, Edward. My father is dead."

"I know."

"I am supposed to marry another this year if I do not find myself a husband."

"Marry me."

"How can you mean it?"

"I am a gentleman with my own property. I can support us both, and I love you."

She looked into his green eyes that held such yearning. She could not discern an untruth from them and she pulled her closer.

"I will. Oh, Edward. I will."

At that moment the couple were filled with glee and happiness, but not one person took the time to notice the new found life that was emerging between the two. Every eye was directed to a different part of the room within their own world that was far more interesting that the reuniting of two young people in love who'd been torn apart at a tender age.

"Kiss me." Isabella held her breath.

"How can one be so devious, Lady Isabella?"

She merely laughed quietly and her eyes were filled with passion and life. "Not one person will know, except for you and me."

The aristocracy remained blatantly ignorant as Edward's lips slanted down across Bella's in a heated kiss. It was their first to share, and only the beginning. It felt like a fire was raging between them at the touching of two of their intimate parts. The soft skin of their lips supple and moist made the kiss sloppy. Their lack of knowledge meant their noses bumped and chins knocked. Edward's tongue snaked across the seam of her lower lip and gently pushed at her mouth. Isabella felt strange and excited. The forbidden element of kissing before others was unheard of, and Edward's tongue was poking at her mouth asking for entrance. She had heard of such a thing from other girls of her age and the giggling wonder that they hid from others at the thought.

However none of the other women who she knew to have kissed or even married could say they had felt such excitement. They had described the sloppy action and mauling of the man upon them, but never had they described pleasure for the woman.

Isabella never thought she'd kiss Edward, never thought she'd kiss at a masked ball, and never expected such wonder. When the couple finally broke away, panting and a little out of breath from their first kissing experience, they both held equally eager smiles. The kissing could be improved by far, and would proceed to be improved, but the love between them was growing and blossoming without any attention. It was a raw kind of love between two halves of the same soul. They were a perfect match.

"I love you, Isabella."

"I love you too, Edward."

The words were spoken reverently and with tenderness, nothing that could equate to many relationships of the era which were ones of convenience and arrangements. It was a marriage against time, but it would be a marriage of love, equality and one that would prosper to see a strong line of Masens that would go on to mould the aristocracy of London with scandal and excitement. They would be the many descendants of Edward and Isabella that were to come, since he had escaped his position of poverty.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters!

A/N: This is not entirely historically accurate, but as close as I could with my chosen storyline. The Victorian era was one of industrial revolution, reserved natures and supressed sexual desires. Homosexuality was a crime. Queen Victoria was on the throne. London was over-crowded, riddled in disease, and 20 or 30 people could live in one of the two ups, two down houses.

BUT this is fiction, and some things, including my love of accurate, correct historical information has to be overturned to bring out the beauty of fiction and aspiration.

My first attempt at a competition entry, so if you liked/enjoyed please feel free to vote for me, and check out the other entries on AgeOfEdward2012 page and community.

Summary: Edward is a young man struggling to rise above his position of poverty, to be a gentleman in Victorian England. A young lady Isabella captures his eye, but will she ever be in reach when she's a member of the aristocracy? AH.