Chapter 22: Belle

Valerian Graves, necromancer extraordinaire, thought he was rid of me for good.

But I was Belle Blackwell-Straud–and I had the best papa in le monde entier.

“Anything you wish, my porcelain princess,” Papa said. “I’ll have the arrangements made at once.”

Je t’aime, Papa,” I said. “Let’s see that mean old necromancer try to avoid me now…”

Admissions at Dr. Puck’s Institute for the Otherworldly Arts were very competitive, but everyone always said I’d be a model student if I applied myself and devoted as much time to my studies as I did to amour.

And Papa paid off all my high school teachers to raise my grades and bought a new library for the Institute: The Belle Blackwell-Straud Bibliothèque d’Amour.

I was too young to begin my university studies in earnest, but I was admitted as part of a special dual enrollment program in which I’d take Institute courses alongside my normal high school ones.

And one Institute course in particular…

“A tailored suit flatters your tall, masculine frame far more than that old black robe you wore at home,” I told Professor Graves. “Très beau.”

“You’re currently tasked with learning the basics of necromancy,” he said, “not fashion. Please keep all irrelevant thoughts to yourself.”

“Necromancy is so very dull,” I said, “unless you have a secret reason behind your passion for it. A lovely wife who died tragically young?”

“No.”

“Dead husband?”

“No.”

“Dead child sweetheart? Très romantique!

No. Will you focus, Miss Blackwell-Straud?”

“It’s so terribly hard to pay attention when I’m not interested in the subject matter,” I sighed. “Oh, do try to make necromancy more pertinent to a passionate young lady’s interests. Have you ever reunited any star-crossed lovers prematurely separated by death, perhaps?”

“…No.”

Had those pursed lips ever pressed against the warm flesh of a lover? Or did he perhaps prefer the forbidding–and so very taboo–chill of a corpse? My sister Ophelia could’ve used the latter as inspiration for one of her novels.

While I considered such possibilities, Professor Graves stalked over to my side.“…Dare I ask what happened to your supply of bone chips?”

“Gaston looked terribly famished,” I said.

Who could resist such a beau chien?

“I should ask you to stay after class to compensate for the loss in productivity,” he said, “but I’d rather not.”

He was so mean to me, his star (and only, thanks to Papa) pupil.

But he couldn’t escape me, even outside the classroom…

Dr. Puck’s Institute for the Otherworldly Arts was an excentrique school whose exterior could shift on a whim; it was whatever it needed to be for its students. Disorienting, but could it keep me from Professor Graves’ office?

Non.

Mon professeur préféré,” I said, “I have a question.”

“Another one?”

“Why do you prefer the dead to the living? It’s très mystérieux.”

“Hardly. The dead don’t hound me with insignificant questions during my extremely limited office hours.” (It was exactly one hour per week, which I reserved entirely for myself.)

“Do you need a research assistant, Professor Graves?”

“No.”

“What if I volunteer–”

“Then I need one even less.”

“We’re progressing ever-so-slowly in class,” I sighed, “and while Thaddeus has eternity, solitude simply isn’t good for a man’s coeur. If I helped you, perhaps I might find a way to return his wife to him even sooner…”

“How many times have I told you that necromancy is a slow, painstaking process–one that can never be rushed, for the sake of both the subject and the necromancer?”

“I don’t always pay attention, so it’s terribly difficult to say.”

“If I refuse, there’s a high probability you’ll have your father intervene on your behalf and speak to Dr. Puck.”

Oui.

“Of all the years I had to be up for tenure…”

And that’s how I became the research assistant to the Institute’s premier professor of necromantic studies.

Belle Blackwell-Straud always got what she wanted.

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19 thoughts on “Chapter 22: Belle

  1. Yes I would ruin my good (?) standing in a class by feeding supplies to Gaston. Look at him!

    Glad to see that Belle is very results-oriented, no matter who she’ll piss off. This girl has a mission and it’s important for Thaddeus to get laid again. though I can think of an easier partner AHEM

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Damn, this girl knows what she wants and she goes for it, I’ll give her that 😂 I still hope that when she’s older she learns to do things for herself without having daddy bribe/pay off everyone just so she gets her way. In fact, I’d love to see her NOT get her way for once. I think that would teach her a very valuable lesson.

    Valerian was looking good in his professor outfit (especially since we could see his face for once lol) and I am still convinced this is a horrific idea that will not end well… Does Thaddeus know Belle is going to this school? What excuse or cover story has she made up, if he does? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Belle isn’t used to hearing “no,” that’s for sure. And what fun are valuable lessons when your dad has a shit-ton of money

      I don’t understand why you think rezzing a dead wife is such a bad idea! 😉 And Thaddeus probably knows, but it’s not like it’s Dr. Puck’s Institute of Necromancy. There are a lot of different supernatural types there, including other vamps.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lol so I take it she doesn’t have any chats with him about her classes then 😛 “What did you learn at school today, Belle?” “Uh… Nothing that involves bringing your dead wife back, that’s for sure!”

        In fact 🤔 If this necromancy stuff doesn’t work out the way she’s planning (and/or is not well-received), perhaps that can help serve as her lesson about not always getting what she wants… 😈

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dark WitcHazard: I bet even for a necromancer after a while of dealing with Belle and her adorable pooch Gaston he’s going to wish he was dead! Hahaha! Annoying people till you get what you want or using your daddy’s infinite supply of money to get your way I love this girl she’s going places and all on daddy’s dime!😜 Seems like this Institution is going to be our Leads meet up joint I can’t wait!

    Lover WitcHazard: Awesome Belle’s going to unintentionally pull a Lyanna totally cram herself into your life until you notice my presence is irreplaceable o love it!😍

    Shipper WitcHazard: Someone needs to Lock down Dr. Puck This do is making bank!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, Valerian definitely wishes he was dead right now. It’d be easier than dealing with Belle. She has a surefire strategy for getting her way every time…

      LOL, “pull a Lyanna,” I like that. 😉 And Dr. Puck probably is making bank, between his therapy to the stars and his school~

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG BELLE.
    She cracks me up SO HARD.
    “He was so mean to me, his star (and only, thanks to Papa) pupil.”

    Professor Graves, this will go so much more easily for you if you just roll over and play dead (too punny?); in the end, Bell Blackwell-Straud always gets her way, ok.
    Shh, it’s ok, you’ll like it, submit…

    Ahh, I adore her! She’s like a modern day vampire Emma with THE BEST papa in le monde entier.
    Is she going to match make everyone in the school? Those lucky people! They won’t even know what hit them ❤ ❤ ❤

    Gawd, that library. Belle just leaves her mark on the world wherever she goes! We all stand in her wake, never quite knowing what hit us, but sort of dazzled (slash horrified).

    I'm loving Valerian. He's so grumpy and wonderful. I hope he gets to make boom boom at some point. Man, he's going to "enjoy" this new chapter of his life SO MUCH (kekeke).

    "Belle Blackwell-Straud always got what she wanted."
    AS SHE SHOULD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Modern day vampire Emma” is exactly what I wanted with her, rofl. She’s totally going to try to match everyone up. AMOUR~~~~~~~~~~~

      Belle’s not used to hearing no and Valerian isn’t used to students talking back to him (he’d probably fail anyone else for making excuses for late papers), so this will be a new experience for both of them.

      Somehow Belle is worse than either of her parents on their own, in her own Belle way. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for a Grianca child, but too bad.

      “Grumpy and wonderful,” I’m beginning to suspect you have a type. ❤ Guy could probably use some boom boom though.

      ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Belle is going to be a huge mess. Wait… she already is! I predict it will take her thousands of years or maybe having her own kid to learn that you don’t win friends and influence people by buying them off. Of course, Graham was getting there and had another kid and screwed her up too! All of his and Bianca’s good intentions…But she IS doing this for Thaddeus….I bet she and Velvet hookup and bring back zombie Lyanna….

    I do think eventually a bond will from between Valerian and Belle when she convinces him doing a vampire is the same as doing a dead person. Here let me show you…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha, Bianca is pretty pushy and used to getting her way too, so between her and Graham, there wasn’t much hope for Belle. 😉 And Velvet might want to chew on any exposed bones, so her being involved might not be the best plan.

      LOL, well, the only people Val seems to like are dead ones, sooo…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oui oui! Quel bon chapitre!

    I love how grumpy Mr. Dirt is…lol! 🤣😝🤣 He’s totally met his match! And hmmm…I wonder who his long lost love IS because I’m sure he has a tragic past. Why else would he study necromancy all the freaking time? 🤔

    Belle sure has learned from her mother and father how to get her way! Ha! I’m so very glad, too. Hee! Can’t wait for more lessons. He needs to get right to the good stuff!

    Omg! The settings were awesome! That classroom and her library and Dr. Puck’s wonderland of Steampunk learning! I want to see more! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr. Dirt is grumpy af. And he has no idea how to deal with Belle–maybe as the semesters (or years) go on. And why’s he so into necromancy?! It’s probably the loneliest of all the warlock specializations.

      I’m having fun writing the well-meaning nightmare child of two gen 1 nightmares. 😉 And I’m curious what the “good stuff” is in your mind. 😈

      I lucked out finding awesome stuff on the gallery! But just wait until you see what WagonFruit helped me with…

      Liked by 2 people

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