Alright, I have writer's block for my other story.
So, after getting completely distracted by...can't remember what, but it must have sparked something to do with dancing...I came up with this.
So, if you would like this to continue on in the hopes of becoming more than a crappy one chapter fling (like the five second fling I had with Carlisle before I reminded myself he was Edward's father), then please, please review.
The cab drove away, leaving me on the cobbled driveway with my suitcase, alone. The school loomed up in front of me. It was like an old British manor house. Three stories of red bricks and large windows, complete with stone gargoyles and brick chimneys. I almost groaned. God what was I getting myself into? This place was not fit for someone like me. I ran my hand through my hair as I tugged my bag up the steps.
The dark brown double doors looked far more menacing than they should have been. A knocker was nailed into the left one. It was shaped like two crossed ballet shoes. Above the doors, engraved on a stone plaque was an elegant script, declaring
Force de la Beauté
Well, no backing down now. This was it. Force (For-seh) Ballet Academy. One of the best dance schools in America, some would say in the world, but of course to me that didn't really matter. It may be one of the best, but in the end it comes down to the dancer. And I was hardly a ballerina. I glanced down at my faded jeans and trainers, my print t-shirt and my Dad's old bush shirt. Yeah, graceful and elegant for sure. I shook my head and bit my lip, trying to foster some determination, and rapped on the door with the shoe knocker.
Oh God, I shouldn't be doing this, I'm going to make a complete fool of myself and they'll probably throw me out...why had they even let me in here? I was an Academic first, an amateur dancer second. But then why had I even wanted to come? I couldn't go to classes here, I couldn't study English in any way but correspondence school, I would miss out on my exams...but then, I remembered what I'd told Charlie, my Dad.
"I love Ballet, Dad, it's my passion."
It was true then, and it was still true now. I loved ballet so much, and a chance to dance every single day, to live in dance, was greater than anything I could possibly do at school. I was guaranteed to get into an Ivy League college, I was guaranteed to be the dux of my high school, I was guaranteed to get a well paid job straight away...but that was nothing in comparison to dancing.
"Hello?" A voice broke me out of my thoughts. The door was open, and a lady stood behind it. I knew she was a dancer, or at least she had been. She was tall and slim still, but she looked middle aged. Her brown and caramel hair was twisted softly down to her shoulders. She held a white manila folder in her hands. When she spoke, I heard the slight French accent, "You must be Isabella Swan, am I correct?"
I nodded, trying to smile. She held out a slender hand to me, "Madame Esme Cullen, Head Ballet Mistress." We shook hands. Then she looked me up and down, not unkindly, but I was still freaked. Was she surprised at my lack of...elegance, grace, ballerina-ness? Would she reject me on the spot? "How old are you?" She asked me.
"Seventeen," I said. She frowned and flicked through her folder.
"This says you are in first year, yet you are almost two years older than them."
My heart thrummed nervously in my chest, "I started ballet late...I still haven't caught up with my age..." Oh God, I was going to fall into pieces...they wouldn't want someone like me, there was probably some sort of mistake when they were looking at the audition papers...but Madam Esme simply said, "Well, you might find your peers rather...immature, most dancers your age are seniors by now."
"I know," I said, nodding. My old ballet teacher had warned me about this, that I might be rather short on company because of my age difference. But Force Academy didn't go by age – it went by skill, and I'd auditioned for first year anyway.
Madam Esme just looked me over and nodded. "Classes have almost finished, so I'll just show you up to your room." She pushed the door open a little wider, "follow me, please."
I lifted my suitcase over the threshold, coming into a cool entrance hall. I looked about me. The walls and floor were dark cherry wood. Windowed doors led off into other rooms. A grand cherry wood staircase drifted up to the second floor. Carved into the banister railings were ballet dancers and male danseurs, balancing en Pointe, or posing as if performing a lift, holding up the banister. Above it, a great chandelier hung, thousands of crystals – or diamonds, for all I knew – shimmered in the light from the windows. Madam Esme must have seen the wonder on my face. She smiled at me.
"Welcome to Force, Miss. Swan,"
"It's amazing," I choked out.
She smiled further, and turned to go up the stairs, her smart heels clicking on the wooden floor. "Monsieur Marcus Vigneron was very into the decoration of this school. This staircase took over two years to complete."
"How old is it?" I asked, heaving my bag up the first step. Somehow the awe of the hall had given me temporary reprieve from my nerves.
"Monsieur Vigneron built it here in the late eighteen hundreds."
"It survived the revolution?"
I could hear the smile in her voice, "Even you Americans had to appreciate Monsieur Vigneron's art." Her voice filled with admiration, "he was truly a remarkable dancer. I only wish I could have seen him."
We reached the first landing, where the staircase split off into two, one going up on either side. I had to hurry to keep up with Madame Esme as she glided up. I must have looked like an idiot, tripping behind her with my clunky suitcase. "Now," She came back to business, "the door on the left when you entered leads to the dining hall, the one on the right leads to the theatre. My office and Master Carlisle's are on the bottom floor also."
"Right," I said, not even trying to remember them, knowing my forgetful self. Finally we got to the first floor. Glass double doors showed through to a corridor. I could hear a mishmash of piano music coming through them.
Madam Esme pointed to them, "through there are where most of the studios are. You are not permitted to practise in them alone without leave from a teacher. Senior dancers get priority, and should they need your studio you are to give it to them without question."
Jeez, that seemed a little unfair...I kept my mouth shut. If there was one thing I knew about ballet, it was that Ballet Masters and Mistresses were twice as fierce as any normal teacher. And they had twice the strength...
We didn't go into the corridor. Instead, Madam Esme led me up another flight of stairs. My arms were killing me. I wasn't a fashion buff, but I very much doubted I'd have much time to shop once I got here, so I'd brought every item of clothing that could fit in my bag. God it was heavy!
"Dorm inspection is at six forty-five, breakfast at seven." I climbed the last of the stairs (hopefully), dragging my suitcase up behind me, breathing heavily. But Madam Esme was off again. I hurried along behind her. The second floor was identical to the first, except that the doors down the corridor had no windows. "You need to be at your first class at seven forty-five to warm up, that is your own responsibility, not the teacher's. Class officially starts at eight. Gymnastics classes are held on the bottom floor, as is the fitness room, which you need to get a pass from a teacher for." She pointed briefly at a door as she walked, "Girls' toilets and showers."
God, all the information, how could I remember all this? "You have classes up until one, then you have lunch in the dining hall. Classes recommence at one forty-five. Warm up again, of course." She finally stopped at a door right at the end of the corridor. "Classes end at five thirty. Dinner is at six. Then you have free time until eight thirty. Lights out at nine, ten for seniors.
Oh," she said, stopping her long speech for a second, "and we are very strict when it comes to eating. We don't have skinny dancers here; we have slim and healthy ones." I nodded. No problem, I'd continued to eat McDonalds long after I started dancing, although that was probably just as unhealthy as not eating anything...
She opened the door and we walked in. "This is your dorm." She said, flicking the lights on.
I looked around. Ten beds with white bedspreads ran up both sides of the room. The floors were shiny cherry wood, of course, and white curtains with red roses adorned the old fashioned windows, which bathed the room in warm light. At the foot of each bed was a large cherry wood trunk. A narrow rug had been rolled down the aisle between them, kind of like the red carpet at the Emmys. At the very end of the room there were a few couches and some magazines. "I believe that that bed is yours," said Madam Esme, pointing to one in the near corner, standing right in front of a window. I smiled. It was so simple for such a grand house...it kind of reminded me of home. I dumped my suitcase next to my bed.
"How many people are staying in here?" I asked.
"Yours was the last free bed. We have plans to renovate this floor next year, make more small dorm rooms like the seniors have. These rooms up here have hardly changed since the school opened."
"It's nice though," I murmured, still looking around. There was an old fireplace at the very end of the room with the couches, but it was boarded up.
Madam Esme opened up the folder she'd been carrying, and pulled out a sheet of paper, handing it to me, "Your schedule, starting from tomorrow." She pulled out another sheet. "And here's a list of the basic rules. Learn them this way, not the hard way. We do have detentions here, Miss. Swan."
I nodded again. She gave a sharp stare, just to make sure, and then glanced at her expensive-looking watch. "Classes will be out in a couple of minutes," she said, "I would suggest unpacking before this dorm turns to chaos. Teenagers..." she murmured with an unexpected smile, looking fondly round the empty room. She almost looked motherly...
Finally turning back to me, she gave me one last studious gaze. "Work hard here, Miss. Swan, and you will have the chance to go far. Good luck." She nodded in goodbye and left, shutting the door behind her.
I slumped down on the bed. "Gaawd," I moaned. The travel, with the added stress of Madam Esme, had drained me out. I wanted nothing more than to sleep all my worries away. Of course, that was unlikely. Soon, I heard several footsteps coming toward the door. A whole bunch of girl came in, giggling and chatting, still in their leos.
"Oh my God!" One girl's particularly loud voice stood out from the rest, "I saw him today! He smiled at me! I was like, crap what do I do? So I just kind of waved."
"And then what?"
She giggled, "He went back to practising. I bet you he was trying to show off for me!"
"Come on Jess," said another girl, who looked Asian and was wearing a black and green leotard, "He's always practising, whether you're there or not."
"Yeah," said the girl – Jess, "but still!" She squealed, leaping around with her first friend. The Asian girl rolled her eyes as they jumped around in circles, but she was still smiling. Of course, she just had to turn and notice me. Something I was trying to avoid by sitting stock still.
"Hey," she said, coming over to me, "you must be the new girl. I'm Angela," she stuck out a hand. I tried smiling as I shook it.
"Bella," I told her. She seemed okay...
"Oh my God," Said the one called Jessica, spotting me. "You're the new girl, right?"
"Yep," I said. Great, I had a nickname.
"Her name's Bella," said Angela, turning to me, "this is Jessica and Lauren," she nodded to her other friend.
"Nice to meet you," I said.
"So where you from?" Asked Jessica bouncily, sitting down cross-legged on the floor.
"Small world," she replied, "me and Lauren are from Seattle. We went to Forks once, on the way to a theatre,"
Lauren gave a snort, "yeah, almost missed it. It was so small."
I wasn't quite sure whether to take that as a joke or an insult, so I just raised my eyebrows at her.
Angela, who was fast becoming my favourite acquaintance, piped up quickly, "so how old are you? Did you get out of high school before all those exams everyone complains about?"
Oh God, this wasn't really any better than Lauren, "um, I'm seventeen, and sadly no. But they're right to complain. Exams suck."
But they didn't seem to care about that, "Seventeen?" Exclaimed Jessica, sitting up.
"What are you doing here in first year?" Asked Angela, equally surprised.
"I started Ballet really late," I shrugged, "I'm not up my age level yet, so I was put in first year."
Lauren raised an eyebrow, "why'd they let you in, then? The Board has seriously high standards; they hardly ever lets in anyone above sixteen if they haven't come out of another academy, let alone someone who's not even at their age group."
"Lauren!" Angela exclaimed, giving her a meaningful glance.
She shrugged, "simple fact."
I pushed my hair back, sighing, "You haven't seen me dance, so you're hardly fit to judge."
She purposefully glanced at my shabby clothes and messy, loose brown hair. "I don't think I need to."
"Oh come on, Lauren," said Jessica, standing up and tugging her arm, "let's go. My feet are screaming for a soak."
Lauren just smirked and followed Jessica away.
"Sorry," said Angela sincerely, putting a hand on my arm, "she can be kind of harsh sometimes."
I smiled, "well, clearly her little mind has yet to learn subtlety."
Angela nodded with a grin, "I know. So why'd you arrive so late? We're three weeks in."
I ran my hand through my hair again, "I had a few problems convincing my parents that I wanted to come."
"Ugh! Parents! They just don't get it, do they?"
I smiled and shook my head, "my Dad's a Police Sheriff. I don't think beauty and grace are in his dictionary. He took some convincing."
"And your Mom?" Angela prompted.
I groaned, "She was even worse! She's a teacher, so she's always viewed me as her little academic star. Ballet didn't come into it. It was Phil, my Mom's stepdad who convinced her. He plays ball professionally, if you could call minor league that, so he gets what it's like to love something other than English and Math and stuff. He told me to go for it..." my smile faded, "of course, what with Lauren and the whole dropping years thing, I'm beginning to think Math would have been a better option."
"Hey don't say that," Angela told me, "you were right before; no one can judge until they see you dance. That's what this is about. And even then, the instructors will make a dancer out of you no matter what."
I grinned, "They're harsh, aren't they?"
She took a deep breath, "Oh yeah, very. Speaking of which, a foot soak sounds very appealing." She glanced at me worriedly, "do you mind?"
"Of course not!" I said, "Even I know the pain of ballet feet. I was going to go have a quick look around anyway."
"Great," she said. We both stood up. "I'll see you at dinner then."
"Right," I smiled, and went out into the cool corridor.
I wandered through it, revelling in the quiet. Well, Angela seemed nice. More mature than Jessica and Lauren – that was for sure. But they were all still young, and they were probably all way better than me. What did age matter?
I meandered down to the first floor, my hand gliding down the polished banister. It was so quiet, so peaceful. You wouldn't think it was a school. I guessed that everyone was getting changed for dinner. The double glass doors I'd seen before were open now, and I decided I'd take a look at the studios. No doubt they were extensively posh.
I was just about to peek inside one when music drifted down the corridor.
I turned around...hearing those first few tentative notes...
Claire de Lune.
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