"Brilliant! Thank you, Miss French!"
Gaston had left when Belle finally decided to leave Ariel alone with her sculpture and she was much relieved. She went to the library and spent several hours deciding which books she wanted to read next. Fairy Godmother, the librarian, whose real name no one knew, not even the teachers, was impressed by the amount of reading she did.
“It makes my job worthwhile, girl,” she said.
Belle smiled and took her books gratefully. As she made her way back down the corridor, a door opened and Mr Thatch, who taught History, stuck his head out.
“Ah! Miss French! Could I have a word, please? Just quickly?”
Belle hesitated. The last time a teacher had said that to her, she had almost been abused twice in the same night. But then, she reflected, Mr Thatch wasn’t creepy. He was a bit of a nerd and Rapunzel swore blind that he sometimes debated showing classical Greek and Roman statues to his students on the grounds of public nudity, so he was probably a bit of a prude, so she felt it was alright to trust him. Besides, now he seemed flustered as opposed to lecherous.
“What is it, Mr Thatch?”
“Ah, you see I made a classroom schedule for next week’s lesson; it was great, it was colour coded and everything. Long story short, Fluffy ate it.”
“My cat.” Belle stifled a giggle. “And I can’t remember what I set as the assigned reading for next week. Well, you’re one of my students who listens, I’m sure you’ll know.”
“Yes, it was Pages 18-20.”
“18-20! Brilliant! Thank you, Miss French! Now I can make another schedule!”
Belle did giggle. “I always thought the excuse of a pet eating someone’s homework was made up!”
“No, no, it happens,” Mr Thatch replied, going back into the classroom. “I’m assuming you’ve done the reading already, Miss French?”
“Yes, Mr Thatch.”
“Good, well done. I’ll see you next week.”
“Bye, Mr Thatch.”
“And thanks, Miss French!”
Belle left, feeling suddenly confident again. She shouldn’t let what Mr Frollo had tried to do with her make her afraid of the other teachers. None of them were creepy in the same way; not even Mr Jafar, who she had always assumed would be, based on his looks, but was actually rather nice beneath all the strict layers. She knew now that he was just a teacher who wanted his classes to run smoothly and for his students to learn something, even if he had to beat it into them physically with a hammer.
Mr Wiggins, she had a great affection for, as did everyone else in his class. Mr Genie was the same; they liked to concentrate on making their classes fun for the students. Mr Phil was a bit of a stickler for discipline and fair play, and, she had to admit, that as a Sports teacher, it was pretty much required for him. Mr Nathaniel was nice and she enjoyed that he was their Book Club leader. Mrs Prudence could be a bit strict, but if something went wrong in one of her classes, she only gave her students a light scolding and a motherly hand in fixing the problem. Belle had come to learn that from several mishaps in the school kitchens! Mr Thatch was passionate about his subject although sometimes in class he could make the students laugh without even meaning to; like the time he had accidently leaned on the flipping blackboard too hard and the whole thing had flipped over, taking his with it. When he had finally got to his feet, he had half a map of Rome drawn on his waistcoat in chalk. Professor Porter, who led them in Science class, was in the same class as Mr Thatch. He was what some might call a bumbling old man, very nice and very eccentric with it. He reminded Belle of her own father, in a way.
Even Mr Ratcliffe and Miss Maleficent were very nice in spite of their status as Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress. Belle had met them both several times since her arrival at Disney High, and they always had a kind word or two to say as they passed.
It was only Mr Frollo who scared her. She was dreading the next class with him. What if he called her back again; what then? Automatically, she wondered what Adam would do, were he in her position. She suddenly stopped. Adam, why not ask Adam what she ought to do?
She made up her mind and quickly hurried in the direction of his room. She tapped on the door.
Inside Flynn groaned. “Some of us are trying to do homework, you know!”
“Oh, Flynn; sorry! It’s Belle!”
“Oh, hold on.” Flynn got to his feet and opened the door. “Hey, come in.”
“Oh, is Adam not here?”
“So you didn’t just drop by to help me with Maths homework, then?” Flynn joked, closing the door behind her.
“Maths isn’t my strongest suit,” she admitted.
“Makes two of us,” Flynn chuckled. “No, I couldn’t concentrate with Adam, Aladdin, Hercules and John, who by the way doesn’t even live in this room, talking, so I sent them out. I think they went to the pool or something.”
“Our school has a pool?”
“If you’d ever stick your nose outside of the library, you’d know this stuff!” Flynn joked.
Belle laughed. “Oh, well. Maybe I’ll catch up with him later.”
“Everything alright?” Flynn’s tone was serious now. “There’s nothing wrong, is there?”
“No, everything’s fine. I just wanted to ask him something.”
“Ah! Reading you loud and clear!” Flynn grinned. “Ok, I won’t interfere!”
“What? How did you know?”
“Please! It’s pretty obvious!”
“Is it?” Belle blushed. “Who else knows?”
“I should think half the school’s figured it out by now.”
Her blush deepened. “No one’s said anything.”
“Well, no one wants to embarrass you or push you into making the first move.”
“The first move?”
“You know, asking him out.”
Belle’s head shot up. “Asking who out?”
Belle stared at him. “Flynn, I think we’re been getting our wires crossed. I just wanted to ask him about...something else.”
“Oh! You weren’t about to-?”
“Oh.” It was Flynn’s turn to look embarrassed. “My bad. Forget I said anything.”
“Wait, so the whole school knows I like Adam?”
“Well, in a word, yes. Or at least, the suspect it.”
“Does Adam know?”
“I think he’s the only person who doesn’t.” Flynn smiled. “I didn’t betray your secret, Belle, don’t worry.”
Belle felt relieved. So the whole school didn’t know about her encounter with Mr Frollo. That was alright. “Thanks, Flynn. But, wait, everyone thinks I should ask him out?”
“No, I think they’re expecting you to, because, well, I don’t think they can quite picture Adam doing that.”
Belle looked at him carefully. “Are you...saying he likes me too? In the way I like him?”
Her heart leapt. “Flynn!”
Flynn smiled. “Congratulations. Look, let him come to you first, alright. Like I said before, he’s not great at letting people in; usually,” he added, as an afterthought. “You seem to be some kind of exception.”
Belle smiled. “Where did you say he was? The pool?”
“You’ve still got your map of the school, right?”
“Well, just in case you can’t figure it out, it’s in the sports hall at the far end.”
She stopped at the door and turned back. “Yes.”
“I’m not saying that you will, but being his friend I feel entitled to ask you; please don’t hurt him in any way. He doesn’t need that.”
Belle smiled. “Trust me, that’s the last thing on my mind.”