CHAPTER 1 - ENCHANTÉ, PLUTOCRATS
"You hate me, huh? That sounds like the beginning ofa love story. Not the end of one." - Katherine Pierce
"Your bag is absolutely gorgeous! I've never seen anything like it," one girl squealed. Her coiffure reeked of hairspray.
"Oh, it's a Fendi, all the way from Vegas. I literally had to beg Daddy to fly it in for me, since it's a limited edition," the blonde replied, cradling an extravagant, white handbag.
'It's just a bag…' Elena Gilbert thought, rolling her eyes. She sat hunched at her desk, her head bent down and her chocolate brown hair cascading around her face. It was just the first day back at school but she already felt suffocated by the shallowness, snobbishness and the huge egos.
The Falls Academy, one of the most exclusive private high schools in the States, was a school for the rich. Of that much, she was sure. Every student had been born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
Every student, that is, except for her. Since her parents' death a few months back, she and her younger brother, Jeremy, had moved into the quaint three-bedroom apartment of their aunt, Jenna. Unlike her schoolmates' parents, who were big shot lawyers and world-class medical experts, Aunt Jenna was a struggling writer. So, unlike her schoolmates, she wasn't exactly high society.
Elena fiddled with a loose thread on her pleated, black school skirt as she stared at the piece of paper in front of her. 'Evaluation on Summer Educational Travel' She bit her lip.
She wasn't filthy rich, but she was smart and she worked hard. She'd gotten into the school on a scholarship, a free ride for all four years of high school. And as if the prestige of attending The Falls didn't already do it for her, her parents' words of encouragement sure did.
"Your father and I are so proud of you, Elena." Miranda Gilbert said, her eyes shining with tears. Elena smiled back at her and watched her mom pass the acceptance letter to her dad.
Grayson Gilbert mirrored the smile on his daughter's face. "I've heard so much about how great this school is, sweetie. You've worked so hard and it's paid off." He took his daughters hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "You're destined to do great things, Elena. You'll do great here."
For a split second, Elena's smile faltered. She liked public school and she didn't like the idea of leaving her friends at all. Then Jeremy, who was a sixth grader at the time, came bounding down the stairs. And what her little brother said next justified her decision.
"Woah, that's seriously every-single-person-in-the-world's dream school! Can't believe my big sis is gonna go to school at The Falls," Jeremy said, his arms folded on the banister, a faraway look in his eyes. "Do the best you can, okay 'Lena!"
Back then, she had been entirely convinced the scholarship was an opportunity she couldn't afford to pass up on, so she had grabbed it without looking back. Now, she wasn't so sure.
'Summer Educational Travel?' She had absolutely nothing to write on that piece of paper.
Luckily, an ear-splitting yell from the hall turned everyone's head.
"The red notice! A junior, Luka Martin! He just got the red notice!"
As soon as the words "class" and "dismissed" fell from Mr. Tanner's lips, everyone (Mr. Tanner included) bolted for the door. Elena sighed and stood up.
"Saved by the bell," she muttered to herself. "How cliché."
She leaned on the intricate door frame and watched the students spill out of classrooms and head for the lunch hall. This, here, was exactly what made The Falls different from most schools, from any school. This was what made Elena hate these people with her entire being.
'If I can just keep my head down and get through two more years unnoticed," she thought to herself. 'Easy…' but her integrity was completely intact and she had this knack to stand up for what was right. And that made it difficult.
But for now, Elena had no choice but to follow the crowd. But a lean brunette, whose gaze seemed glued to the plush red carpet, caught her eye. She looked hopelessly lost and confused and she reminded Elena a little too much of herself.
"I haven't seen you around here before, you must be new. I'm Elena Gilbert." She gave the girl a small smile.
The girl looked up, relieved that someone was actually speaking to her. It wouldn't have taken her long to realize this school was filled to the brim with snobs.
"I'm a third-year transfer student," she said sheepishly, "Katherine Pierce."
"Hey, I'm a Junior too… Wait, Pierce? As in the Pierce Oil Industries?"
She gave a small nod and played with her feet.
'Another multi-millionaire,' Elena thought. 'At least she looks more modest than the pretentious douche bags around here.'
"Uh, what's going on? And what's a red notice?" Katherine asked, looking around.
'Modest but clueless.'
Elena let out a breath. "A red notice is a length of red ribbon taped to the inside of a locker; it's a declaration of war. See, there are four boys that control this school, literally. They're called 'The Archetypes' and if you get in their way, you get a red notice. That's all it takes for everyone at this school to go after you."
"No way, how can no one, not even the teachers, retaliate?" Katherine asked, despite knowing deep down that she, herself, would never have the courage to do so.
The two made their way down the grand staircase, Elena leading them to the banquet hall. "They're the sons and heirs to some of the wealthiest families in the world. Everyone here has power, but they're pretty much omnipotent. Their parents practically paid for this school so they're promised free and total reign."
"They must at least be likable, right? Everyone sure seems to like them." Katherine said meekly, tucking her perfectly curled locks behind her ear.
Elena shrugged. "They do what they want, when they want. I guess people here are just drawn to that like moths to a flame. Not once have I seen them wearing the uniform," she said, straightening her navy blazer.
She pushed the doors to the banquet hall and Katherine's eyes widened. It looked more like a concert audience than a student body to her. "And they always make an entrance."
The Archetypes strode through the banquet hall, the crowd parting like the red sea to let them pass. The banquet hall, like the most of the school, was tailored specifically for them. A small, elegant staircase led to a permanently reserved second floor, for The Archetypes, and only The Archetypes, to have their meals. And as if that wasn't superiority at its best, at the middle of the banquet hall was a low platform on which four eccentric chairs were neatly arranged.
"The one in the football jersey's Tyler Lockwood. His family can be described in one word: politics. His dad's about a step away from becoming president and there are rumors that his uncle, Mason, is the boss of the underground world. He's the worst type of player, the type that gets a girl to fall head-over-heels for him then dumps her as soon as she does. You'd best be careful around him," Elena continued without missing a beat.
"The one to his right is Alaric Saltzman. He was in the Time Magazine issue, 'Witty Under Twenty. He's a freaking genius but he's completely off the leash at parties and barely ever in class. His audacity knows no bounds whatsoever but it doesn't matter, he's still guaranteed to get into an Ivy League college."
Katherine gaze went from each senior as Elena described them. She didn't seem to have a problem keeping up. When the boys walked passed them, Katherine caught the quick look the guy in white gave Elena. Elena caught it too and she tucked her hair behind her ear. It was something she did whenever she was at a loss for words.
Her voice softened, "That one in white, he's Stefan Salvatore, he's the only Archetype who's in our year. He's the mysterious one. He likes to lay low, a man of few words. Mostly, I see him reading old, leather bound books around campus." Of the four, Elena had the most respect for Stefan. To her, he just seemed different.
"Then there's the infamous Damon Salvatore," Elena spat out. She heard the spite crawl back into her own voice but she couldn't help herself, she hated the guy.
'How could someone who was deprived of nothing be the way that he was?' she often wondered.
"Damon is Stefan's older brother. He's the heir to the famous Salvatore Worldwide Financial group. He's the leader of The Archetypes and the embodiment of the word: autocrat. He's the typical rebel. In my opinion, he's the merciless King of the Douches."
Katherine's gaze fell on Damon and she couldn't look away. He had that effect on people. "Oh, he can't be that bad," she said, her eyes drinking in the black-clad Adonis. His jet-black hair was perfectly tousled and the only color he sported was the cold, steel blue of his eyes.
Even Elena, who cursed her own heart for skipping a beat when he smirked in her direction, was not immune to his charms. She crossed her arms defiantly.
Once The Archetypes were comfortably seated, Elena nudged Katherine. "Watch this," she instructed.
Luka Martin, the one unfortunate enough to cross paths with Damon Salvatore, thus earning a red notice, was shoved forcibly out of the crowd and towards The Archetypes. He stood stooped in a clearing in front of The Archetypes' platform. He was a shaking, snivelling mess.
Elena felt sick to her stomach, partly because she pitied Luka but mostly because of the mass of students that just cheered the whole thing on.
Damon glared at Luka, his legs crossed and his eyes piercing.
"Luka, buddy! I heard this really hilarious term yesterday, 'yuppie scum'," Damon chuckled lightly and rested his elbows on his knees. Luka trembled.
"Did you know it means 'rich trash'? Oh riiiight, you do. Cause 'yuppie scum' was the term you used to describe me yesterday. Right, Luka?" Damon's smile disappeared completely and his jaw tightened.
"Let's get this over with," he said monotonously.
He stood up, shrugged off his leather jacket and cracked his knuckles. He walked towards Luka, his classic black Oxfords clacking on the wooden floorboards with each step.
To Elena's surprise, after Damon threw the first punch, Stefan got up wordlessly and with a yawn, left the banquet hall. A small smile formed on her lips but it disappeared as quickly as it had come.
A few mean left hooks and an uppercut later, Luka had a busted lip, a few broken ribs, and was sprawled on the floor, unconscious. He hadn't even attempted to defend himself. The crowd went wild with rounds of accolades and applause.
"That was great, Damon!" a freshman at his side hollered. Damon turned to him and sent a fist to his gut.
Katherine gasped. Elena wasn't surprised.
"I hate suck-ups," he muttered, running a hand through his hair. "C'mon guys, I've wasted enough of my time on this crap."
Elena's hands were balled so tightly into fists; her knuckles were turning a ghostly white. She took a step towards Damon, intent on giving him a piece of her mind, but Katherine grabbed her arm.
"Elena!" she whispered, "You told me what would happen if you got in their way."
A moment passed and Elena huffed in defeat. She bit her tongue to keep from incessantly screaming the insults that were running through her mind at the Damon Salvatore.
Hours later, Elena sat alone on the ledge of the fire escape. She liked the seclusion and the freedom from the scrutiny. She shrugged the shiny, black penny loafers off her feet and stretched her toes through the warm wool of her knee-high socks. Resting her chin on her left knee, she dangled her right foot over the ledge.
With a sigh, she buried her face in her hands. Her mother always told her to "never be a spectator to unfairness or stupidity," and she was disappointed in herself for being a tight-lipped witness to the bullying and tyranny, for losing the backbone she was always so proud of, and for being what she hated more than Damon Salvatore himself, a coward.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries or (the inspiration for this story) the Japanese drama, "Hana Yori Dango"
A/N: If you were wondering: 'Archetype' means 'the original; a perfect or typical specimen' and an 'Autocrat' is 'someone who insists on complete obedience from others; an imperious or domineering person'. Yup, I know Katherine's really timid and she seems out of character now but, who knows? That might change! Stay tuned! :-)
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