"Where's the library?"
Belle French looked around the large office room she had been brought to and gulped. This was her first time in a proper high school. She had spent most of her life in a provincial little town where the majority of her neighbours had been too poor to go to school. However, after a chance run-in with Maleficent, the Deputy Head of Disney High, her father had been able to waggle a scholarship for her. Now she was here none of it seemed real.
“Ah!” Ratcliffe, the headmaster of Disney High, walked into the room. “Belle French, isn’t it?”
“Yes, sir,” Belle stammered.
“No need to be shy, child. I am John Ratcliffe, the headmaster here, but you will address me as Mr Ratcliffe or Sir, is that clear?”
“Yes, Mr Ratcliffe.”
“Very good. Now, according to this,” he indicated the clipboard he was holding, “you’re in Room 8 with Jasmine Dove, Megara Waters and Snow White Forest. Here is your room key.” He handed it to her. “Take good care of it, now; if you lose it, it costs at lot of money to replace it.” Belle nodded, dumbly, feeling overwhelmed by it all. “Here is a copy of your class timetable and the schedule for meals.” He handed them over too. “You’ll be required to visit the doctor’s office at 3:00 today for a health check up. Tomorrow, you’ll start your classes. There is no smoking permitted on school premises and no visiting the boy’s dormitories after 9:00 at night. I think that’s just about everything. Any questions?”
“Where’s the library?” piped up Belle, clutching her book to her chest. “I was told this school had a wonderful library.”
“Oh, yes, of course. Thank you for reminding me.” Ratcliffe handed her another sheet of paper. “Here is a map of the school grounds. I’m sure you’ll be able to navigate your way around more easily without it over time.”
“Thank you, Mr Ratcliffe.”
“Any more questions?” Belle shook her head. “Right, well, then; I’ll have one of the other students take you to your room.” Ratcliffe got to his feet and looked down at the small suitcase at Belle’s feet. “Is that everything?”
Ratcliffe opened the door and called out to a large, muscular boy with black hair. “Mr Hunter! Will you kindly escort Miss French to Room 8, please?”
“Gladly, sir,” replied the boy, giving Belle a slick grin. “Hey, there, beauty! My name’s Gaston!”
“I’m Belle,” she stammered.
“Allow me.” Gaston picked up her bag and strode from the room. Belle paused to thank Ratcliffe one more time and then followed him. “It’s a very big school,” she said, politely.
“Well, there’s a lot of students here,” Gaston drawled. “So, Belle, what do you like to do?”
“Oh, I love to read! I just finished the most wonderful story about a beanstalk and an ogre and-!”
“Oh, that’s nice. Have you got a boyfriend?”
Belle blushed. “No, I haven’t,” she stammered.
“Really?” Gaston perked up as he led the way up the stairs.. “Well, now, that is interesting!”
Gaston laughed. “Sure it is! Well, here we are!”
Belle realised that they were standing outside a door marked Room 8. “Thank you,” she said, as she made to unlock the door. To her surprise, however, Gaston put his hand on the doorframe and leaned against it. “So, Belle, what do you say that later on you and I head on down to the local tavern and I can show you my trophies?”
“Trophies? Are you an athlete?”
He chuckled. “You could say that. What do you say?”
“Oh, I can’t. I have a doctor’s appointment.”
“Maybe after that, then?”
Before Belle could respond, the door opened and a girl with long brown hair and purple eyes leaned against the doorframe. She had a cigarette in one hand. “Gaston,” she said, coolly. “I thought I smelt your greasy hair oil.”
“Whoa, Meg; put the claws away, tiger!” Gaston laughed. Meg rolled her eyes and glanced at Belle. Her expression softened and she smiled. “Hi, you’re the new girl, right?”
“Yes, I’m Belle.”
“Well, come on in and don’t let this jerk keep you outside any longer.” Meg took the bag from Gaston. “She doesn’t look your type to me, Gaston; she looks far too smart for you.”
“Jeez, Meg, who rattled your chain?”
“Thank you for showing me my room, Gaston,” Belle smiled, politely.
“Don’t encourage him,” sighed Meg, pulling her into the room and shutting the door in Gaston’s face. “He’s a womanizer.”
“Anyway, my name’s Megara Waters; but my friends, and those I’m not friends with, call me Meg.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Meg.”
“That’s your bed there,” Meg pointed to one in a corner of the room. “Hope you’re ok there. The rest of us kinda picked our beds a long time ago.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Belle said. “I thought that we weren’t allowed to smoke on school premises; Mr Ratcliffe said.”
“Oh, don’t tell him, please,” Meg begged. “He’ll put me in detention for a week. I need these. They’re the only thing in my life that make sense.”
Belle could sense that she was a girl with a desperate addiction to them and nodded. “I won’t tell; I promise.”
“Ah, you’re a pal,” Meg sighed, opening a drawer by her bed and stubbing out her cigarette in the ashtray inside. Belle began to unpack her clothes; she didn’t have many compared to the books she had brought with her. “Wow!” mused Meg. “Someone’s a bookworm!”
“Oh, I just love reading!”
“So I see!” Meg laughed. “Well, you came to the right place! The library’s huge and Mr Nathaniel, our English teacher, is forever encouraging us to use it!”
“It sounds wonderful!” Belle sighed.
The door opened and in walked two girls. One was pale and had dark hair and red lips; the other also had dark hair but her skin was slightly darker and her eyes were big and brown. “Hi, guys,” grinned Meg. “Meet Belle; our new roommate.”
“Hello,” smiled the darker girl. “My name’s Jasmine, but you can call me Jas.”
“I’m Snow White,” chirped the other girl, “but you can call me Snow.”
“Well, I’m just Belle, but you can call me Bookworm!” Belle joked.
Jasmine laughed. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Belle. Have you met anyone else here yet?”
“Just the headmaster and Gaston.”
“Oh!” Snow White threw her hands dramatically to her cheeks. “You don’t want to mix with him, Belle!”
“That’s what I was just telling her!” Meg glanced at Belle. “Snow here’s a vegetarian and Gaston likes to shoot animals for fun.”
“Oh!” Belle gasped. “So that’s what he meant by trophies!”
“He told you about his trophies?” Jasmine asked, sitting on the edge of her bed.
“He invited me to come and see them.”
“Oh, you didn’t say “yes”, did you?” asked Snow White.
“I didn’t get a chance to say anything. But if he asks me again, I’ll say “no” and walk away.”
“Good on ya, girl!” Meg patted her on the back. “Do you have doctor’s appointment soon?”
“Yes, at three.”
“You want us to walk over with you?” asked Jasmine.
“if it’s not too much trouble...”
“P’shaw!” Meg shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll go past the sports field; less likely to bump into Gaston that way.”
“You’re just saying that because you’ve got a crush on the quarterback,” Snow White teased.
Meg blushed. “I can’t help it! Hercules is hot and he’s got those rippling pectorals. And he’s sweet.”
Jasmine laughed. “Have you got a boyfriend, Belle?”
“No,” she replied, sadly.
“Oh, don’t feel bad about it.” Jasmine smiled. “We haven’t either; but we do spend a lot of time flirting with sports students.”
Belle followed her new found friends out of their room and outside into the glorious sunshine. The vast playing field was already filled with students running around. Belle sussed out which one was Hercules; the athletic redhead with larger muscles than Gaston. “Come on,” Jasmine grinned, eventually dragging Meg away and in the direction of the Doctor’s Office. “We’ll wait for you, Belle.”
“Don’t worry,” smiled Snow White, encouragingly. “He’s just like his name; Doctor Sweet.”
Belle knocked on the door. “Come in!” called a voice on the other side.
Belle went inside. “Ah!” said the large black man in the doctor’s coat as he got up from his hair. “You must be my 3:00.”
“Yes, sir, I’m Belle.”
“Oh, no need to call me sir. The name’s Sweet, Joshua Sweet; you can call me Dr Sweet. Now, you don’t need to worry. It’s just a routine medical examination.”
It didn’t take long. Dr Sweet took her temperature and blood pressure; he took some blood and analysed her blood type; he checked her for any allergies. It was a quick and painless, apart from the blood taking, procedure and Belle found the doctor to be a perfectly sweet man, just as Snow White had said.
“There you go,” Dr Sweet grinned as soon as he had finished. “Now, on May 5th, all the students are due their meningitis vaccine, but apart from that, there shouldn’t be any need for you to come in for a while. If you do feel ill at any time, however, don’t hesitate to call for me.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” Belle hopped off the table. As she did so, she noticed the photographs of the students on the back wall. Each had the student’s full names, dates of birth and medical information beneath them. Belle stared at one of a boy with mousy, tousled hair and deep blue eyes. The name beneath read Adam Castle.
In that second, Belle was entranced.
"We'll go past the sports field!"