"…and so, the Roman Empire crumbled, overtaken by the barbarians they had scoffed at. Thankfully, the Roman Empire was so vast, a large collection of ruins still stand to this day."

The inventor glanced over at the legless Edward, who was perched atop his desk. But Edward was staring intently at the wall behind him.

"Who is she?" He asked quietly.

The old gentleman turned to gaze at the worn photograph of a young woman.

"Ah, that's Madeline. She was my wife, so that would make her your mother, Edward."

The inventor looked at the photo fondly.

"She was the only woman I ever met that thought I might not be entirely insane. Beautiful, isn't she?"

Edward nodded, his lips pulled into a small smile.

"And she had more than just looks. Madeline was clever, too. She never attended a university, but was twice as smart as the scientists graduating from them."

The old gentleman leaned over to Edward.

"You've got to be careful, you know, to find someone like that. You have to be sure above all else that you love a woman for her mind, not just her beauty. Beauty fades with age, and you want to make sure that you have something else to love about her after it's gone."

"Will I…" Edward began, but then hesitated.

"Go on," His father encouraged, setting down the history book.

"Will I…love someone, too?"

"Of course you will!" He smiled, patting his son on the shoulder. "You'll fall in love with some special girl, and you'll fall hard. And, if you're really lucky, she'll love you back."

Victoria lay in bed, staring at her ceiling. In one day, her life had changed, and her mind was still racing to catch up.

Edward was real. Her grandmother's stories were real. And Edward had been waiting fifty years for her grandmother to come back.

Victoria sighed wearily, remembering Edward's heartbroken face when she had told him that Kim had moved away. She hadn't wanted to leave him that way, but it had been getting late, and she thought that he would want some time alone.

What should I do now? The girl wondered. Should she just leave him up there, and pretend that nothing happened? Edward had been up at the manor for decades, with little chance of being discovered. Was it for the best?

Victoria remembered Edward's grief stricken face when she had offered to leave. "Don't go!", He had said. The young man hadn't been afraid of her leaving him. He had been terrified of it. Even when she had left, Edward had stood at the window and watched her go. And truthfully, the girl didn't think she could just leave him all alone up there, even if she wanted to.

Should she try to acclimate him back into society? Victoria quickly dismissed that one. The first time Edward had been introduced to Hope Springs, it had ended in disaster. Though her generation prided itself on its "tolerance" and "acceptance", Victoria knew it meant talking about things behind people's backs instead of to their faces. They may accept him at first, but it wouldn't last long.

So Victoria was forced to accept option number three: keep Edward a secret.

The girl sighed, and rolled over in her bed. And, at long last, slumber came.

After a quick breakfast and some preparation, Victoria began the long trek to the manor. With her, she carried a large cardboard moving box. It didn't seem that heavy at first, but as she started up the hill, Victoria found it more and more difficult to carry.

"Stupid…weak arms…" The girl panted, trying to get a better grip on the box, "Shouldn't have…brought so much…crap…"

Thankfully, the manor was around the next bend, and she paused at the locked gates to give her arms a break. Victoria then wiggled her way through the hole she had enlarged the day before, and with a bit of effort, heaved the box through as well. She made it to the back door and pushed it open.

"Ed-ward!" She called out into the dark mansion, setting her things on the floor, "It's me, Victoria! Come on out!"

In a few minutes, the fair, pale-faced boy trudged into the room.

"You came back," He said softly, looking surprised, but pleasantly so.

"Well, yeah, of course I came back," Victoria replied, smiling, "I brought some things for you, too."

"For me?"

"Uh-huh. Some of it is just stuff for, you know, around the house…"

Seeing his curiosity, the girl promptly dumped the contents of the box on the floor.

"See?" She said, grinning up at him, "Here are some band-aids…and here's a sharpener…it's supposed to be for kitchen knives, but it will work fine…and some Rust-Be-Gone…hmmm, it's a little past its expiration date…aw well, we'll try it anyway…oh! And here's…."

Victoria pulled out a worn stuffed rabbit wearing a tiny shirt and trousers.

"…Foofoo!"

"Little bunny Foofoo!" Edward exclaimed, remembering what Victoria had said. He reached out his sheared hands delicately. The girl placed the stuffed animal in between his wrists. Edward smiled. Not just a little lip twitch, but a full blown smile.

Victoria felt like she had won the lottery.

After showing him the rest of the things she had brought, the girl bandaged the two fresh gashes on his face, and set to work on cleaning his rusty hands. It was hard work; Victoria had to scrub so hard that poor Edward's whole body ended up vibrating. But he didn't complain. He just sat there, flinching ever so often. Three hours later, Victoria was satisfied with her handy work, and pulled out a pre-prepared lunch of ham sandwiches and fruit salad (with extra strawberries).

Then, they talked. Well, actually, it was just Victoria who talked. The girl rattled on and on, for fear that when she'd stop, there'd be another of those awkward silences. She told him about nearly everything: her house, her school, her mom, her childhood. Edward sat listening, seemingly captivated by what Victoria considered boring and mundane. Until, of course, it happened.

"…when I was really little, like five, me and my dad really wanted to get a dog, but my mom said she was allergic to anything that poops on the floor, so…"

"Is your father nice?"

Victoria halted mid-sentence. Oh, great. Of course he had to ask about her father.

"Uh…well, it's kind of complicated…"

Edward's wide eyes bored into her, until at last she sighed.

"You see, Edward…he sorta….I mean, he kind of…left us," She finished awkwardly.

"Left?" The young man asked softly, "Isn't he going to come back?"

Victoria drew a circle in the dust on the floor, evading his dark eyes.

"No…no, he's not, Edward. He barely even talks to us anymore, except on my birthday and Christmas."

"But…why?"

Victoria's face clouded with pain.

"I…I don't know. I just don't know. We were fine…at least, we seemed fine. I thought he was happy…but then, one day, he just left. Out of the blue. And he never told me or my mom why."

They sat in silence.

Finally, Victoria rubbed her eyes, looked up at her strange friend and smiled.

"It was hard, but I got through it. I mean, at least wherever he is, he's happy, right?"

Edward nodded, but was deep in thought. A few moments later, he fidgeted with his newly-cleaned hands, snipping anxiously.

"Do you think…Kim's happy?"

"Oh, yeah, definitely," The girl said quickly, "But I'm sure she still misses you a lot."

Edward brightened a little.

You know where liars go, Victoria thought miserably, You know where liars go…

She hoped God would cut her some slack. Maybe her grandmother would put in a good word for her.

"Victoria?"

The girl looked up.

Edward's fair, pale face gazed back at her, his eyes tinged with worry.

"I'm sure your father misses you, too."

He smiled sweetly.

Victoria felt a smile form on her own face, feeling her guilt wash away. And from that moment on, the girl knew one thing for certain.

She could never, ever hurt Edward.