Début d'un Narcissique
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Disney owns Beauty and the Beast and its characters.
Chapter 1- School Days
He arrived on time, since he was walked to the schoolhouse by his Papa.
"I hate it here," he declared.
"Now, stop that, Gaston! You know you must. An education is very important."
Monsieur Legume let go of his little boy's hand and walked away, leaving him alone with the Headmaster of Villeneuve Boys' School and the other youngsters. Monsieur Durand, the Headmaster, stood sternly at the door of the schoolhouse and ordered the gathered boys to form a single-file line.
The line formed within seconds; a perfect queue from tallest to shortest. Gaston moved to stand behind a boy who was about his age. Two little fellows, likely seven year olds, went to stand behind Gaston.
Looking at the rest of the group, he felt small and weak. He was the third smallest in this school, and most of the others seemed to know each other already. The Headmaster rang his bell and ordered the line to file in and take their desks. The youngest boys had to sit in the very front.
For the next hour, they had to listen to Monsieur Durand read from a book on the history of France. Today, he was reading about the funny-looking man whose portrait hung near the chalkboard. The man had a huge mop of unruly black hair, and the kind of face that Gaston wanted to punch. But apparently, he was the Great King Louis XIV from a long time ago, and he was supposed to have done great things.
There was another portrait of the current King, Louis XV, who was better looking than the funny-hair King. He had a haughty, proud expression and wore a curly silver wig. Gaston gazed at this picture while Monsieur's voice droned on. This was actually Gaston's favorite part of the school day. He called it his 'thinking time.'
During his 'thinking time,' Gaston stared at the portraits of the Kings, or sometimes out the window at the clouds. He thought about how great it would be if HE were a King. He would sit on a throne and tell people where to go, and what to do. He would have a group of men, his 'court,' was what they called it, doing things for him. One man would play music for him. Another would sing songs to him. Another would be an artist, painting a picture of him.
Gaston liked to imagine what he would look like grown up, and as a King. He would wear red, for certain, since that was his favorite color. He wouldn't wear a wig. He'd wear his hair naturally, long and dark and pulled back into a stalliontail. Not a ponytail, a stalliontail. Other members of the Court would bring him drinks and refreshments.
But he wouldn't want to spend all day sitting in a throne in a palace. No, King Gaston would ride his big stallion to faraway places, and go do great things! He would go to other countries and conquer them with his army of soldiers. This was his most favorite thing to imagine- himself, riding a tall horse, leading hundreds- THOUSANDS of other men, on their horses. They would all ride behind him in single file. Gaston would carry the flag of France wherever he went, and make those other countries stop speaking other languages and speak his language. If the Kings of those other countries wouldn't listen, he would order his huge army to shoot them all with their guns!
"Class, it is time for reading and recitation," Monsieur announced. He put the book he was reading down on his desk. "Seven, eight, and nine year olds, take out your primers. Ten years old and older, please read your assigned book in silence! No interruptions!"
A flurry of book pages could be heard throughout the room. Gaston took out his primer that was filled with alphabet letters and words, along with pictures. He turned to the page for the letter that had a picture of a horse on it.
"Louis Chevillard?" Monsieur called on the small blond-haired boy next to Gaston. "Please recite the alphabet, and the corresponding word in your book. Stand up straight, please."
The boy picked up his book and began to recite. He knew all the letters and words by heart, so it only took him less than three minutes to let Monsieur know that he'd mastered his primer.
"Very good, Louis. Your kingly name suits you! You have passed Primer A, so I will give you Primer B." Monsieur took a small book from his shelf and handed it to Louis, who had a proud smile on his face.
"Who shall be next?" Monsieur asked, frowning over the small group of younger children. The Headmaster must have heard a shuffling noise in the back of the room, because he suddenly turned his gaze at the older group, giving them a stern eye. "I shouldn't hear a pin drop! Keep your eyes on your books!" he bellowed at them, and the rustling of feet on the wooden floor fell silent.
He looked back down at the two boys who had their hands raised. Gaston was trying to make himself invisible at the moment. He did not want to be called. He sunk down in his chair while his book lay in front of him.
"Richard Laurent! Please recite from Primer B."
Richard, who all the boys called 'Dick," was nine years old, almost ten. He still struggled and stammered over Primer B, but was able to pronounce most of the words.
"Not bad, Richard. But keep practicing at home," Monsieur said curtly.
"I'll make him practice, Monsieur!" a laughing voice came from the group of oldest boys, who were supposed to be doing silent reading. It was Tom, a boy so big he almost looked like a teenager already.
"SILENCE!" boomed Monsieur. "Talking out of order is forbidden. Thomas, come to the front!"
Gaston gave a sigh of relief for the interruption. It was quite entertaining to watch the bigger boys get into trouble and be punished. Tom, who was about twelve, stood in front of Monsieur with a penitent expression. He didn't have to be asked; he knew the routine. He held his hand out, and Monsieur slapped it with his wooden ruler three times.
"SLAP! SLAP! SLAP!' Tom winced in pain; his hand was bright red. He gritted his teeth stoically as he went back to his desk.
"Gaston Legume, it is your turn. Stand up straight and read Primer A." The headmaster glared at him. Gaston stood on his feet and turned to the first page of the little book.
He knew that the first letter was A, because it was the same letter on the front cover. It had a picture of a little sheep on it. "A- Agneau..."
So far, so good. The next page had a picture of a tea kettle. He knew the word was 'bouilloure,' but he wasn't sure if the letter was B or D.
"WRONG!" bellowed Monsieur.
Anger and shame burned in Gaston's stomach. Did he have to yell? The older boys looked up from their books at him. He could feel all their eyes on his back.
"B- Boulloure...C- Canne..." He looked at the next. The picture was of a flag. He knew it was 'Drapeau,' but what was that letter again? It looked just like the 'Bouilloure' one.
"You haven't learned this yet?" Monsieur said with an impatient scowl. Gaston was so angry inside. He was just about to say it!
'D- Drapeau!" he spat out. Why didn't he at least give him two seconds to think?
It took forever for Gaston to slog through the little book, and he knew he was making Monsieur angry. After many agonizing minutes, he was allowed to sit down, but not without being warned that the headmaster would be talking to his parents about his lack of practice. Claude, the seven year old, went through his Primer A like a breeze. Same with Paul, a very tiny seven year old boy with red hair, who was delighted to be told he was ready for Primer B.
Gaston was miserable for the rest of the day. He knew how to do arithmetic, but he had trouble with the numbers, as well. He copied some of them backwards, especially deux, trois, and cinc. Monsieur always made him do it over, calling his figures 'rubbish.'
Finally, the blessed two o'clock came. Gaston could go outdoors for the first time since morning. He walked behind Louis as they descended the short flight of schoolhouse stairs in their line. Once the boys were dismissed with Monsieur's ringing of his handbell, they could get out of the line and mill around the cobblestone street, waiting for their parents. Most of the boys walked to their own homes. Gaston waited for his father to arrive. He took an apple out of his bag and started crunching on it. The other boy standing next to him, Louis, kicked at the ground with his toe in boredom.
"You're a dumbbell," Louis suddenly said to Gaston in a mocking voice.
"What did you say?" Gaston asked with a scowl, stepping closer to him.
"You can't even read. You're a dumbbell. 'Pea-brain Legume'!" Louis laughed, and turned quickly to run away to home, before Gaston could touch him.
"No, I'm NOT!" Gaston yelled in indignation. He watched Louis while he ran away, and quickly bent to pick a small rock off the ground. He went to hide himself behind a parked wagon on the cobblestone street. As soon as Louis had gained some distance from him, Gaston hurled the pebble as hard as he could, at the other boy's legs. He watched as Louis yelped in pain, rubbing the back of his calf where the rock had stung.
"Not a bad shot!" a voice called behind him. Gaston turned around. It was Tom, the big boy whom Monsieur had ruler-slapped in the hand for talking out of turn.
"Don't worry about Monsieur. He's always hated me, too. Just try as hard as you can, and he won't yell at you as much," Tom said encouragingly. "What's your name?"
"I'm Gaston," he replied, proudly before taking another bite of his apple. He liked his first name, but he hated his last, because it was almost like being called 'Monsieur Bean' or 'Monsieur Pea.' Pea brain.
"I'm Tom. And you know Dick, he sits by you," Tom said, gesturing to his friend, the one who'd also struggled with his reading a bit. Gaston quietly nodded to both of them.
"You have to keep practicing the books," said Dick in a helpful tone. "My Papa helps me. I got better, and Monsieur stopped yelling at me."
Gaston felt a little better, knowing that at least two of the boys didn't think he was a dumbbell or a pea-brain. He wished that school would have a period where he could show everybody how good he was at killing birds with his slingshot. Instead, all school did was show the world that he was stupid.
The children stood together and chatted idly until two women approached. "Our mothers are here. We have to go now. See you tomorrow, Gaston!" said Dick. He walked up to one of the women; the one holding a black-haired toddler boy's hand. Tom reluctantly accompanied the other lady. It appeared the two mothers and their sons were all very close friends.
Gaston watched as Dick tried to take away the toy wooden sword his little brother was holding. Dick's little brother clung tightly to the sword with a grumpy look on his face. Gaston wished he had a little brother, too. He waited until he finally saw his Papa's tall, handsome form. Where was Maman?
"Come along, Gaston," Monsieur Legume said curtly. "You must take time to practice your primer! I heard you are falling far behind all the others, even the boys who are younger than you! Your Maman is getting sicker, Gaston. Her fever is getting high, she's coughing, and she can barely breathe. It is up to YOU to practice and recite on your own. Do you understand?"
"Oui," Gaston said, feeling very small, and weak.
A.N.- I wrote this oneshot for a prompt challenge this summer. I hope to add a little more scenes to it, since it ties in with 'There's No Question' and a new story I have in mind. I know, I already have a 1991 Gaston backstory, but 2017's is too fascinating for me to resist.
Cover art credit to 'LadyCibia' on Tumblr.