The Isle of the Lost (Page 6)

“I want to open it,” his brother said, elbowing him away. But the first Gaston punched him without even a backward look. “After you, princess,” he offered grandly, as his brother slithered to the floor, holding his jaw.

“Um, thanks, I think,” said Evie.

Dr. Facilier looked up and gave the three students a jack-o’-lantern smile. “Yes? Oh, Evie, welcome to Dragon Hall. It’s a delight to see you again, child. It’s been too long. Ten years, is it? How is your lovely mother?”

“She’s well, thanks.” Evie nodded politely but hurried to get to the point. “Dr. Facilier, I just wanted to see if I could swap my Wickedness class for Advanced Vanities that meets at the same time?” she asked.

The shadowy man frowned. Evie batted her eyelashes. “It would mean so much to me. By the way—” She pointed to his bolo tie, with its unfortunate silver chain. “That is so cool!” she said, thinking exactly the opposite.

“Oh, this? I picked it up in the Bayou d’Orleans right before I was brought here.” He sighed, and his frown softened into a real smile. “I suppose Vanities is a better fit for your overall schedule. Consider it done.”

“Good, I’m in that class,” the Gastons chorused. “On Tuesdays it’s right after lunch.”

“Lunch!” Evie slapped her forehead.

“What’s wrong?”

“I forgot to bring mine!” In all the excitement and anxiety about finally leaving the castle, she’d left her basket at home.

“Don’t worry,” the twins replied. “You can share ours!” they added, holding up two huge baskets of food. A giant block of some particularly smelly cheese poked out, along with two loaves of brown bread speckled with mold and several thick slices of liverwurst.

Evie was touched they had offered to share, even though they looked like they could eat a horse and a half between them, with or without the mold.

They led her down the winding hallway. The stone walls were covered in the same pea-green moss as outside, and seemed to be leaking some sort of brown liquid all over the dusty cement floor. Evie felt something furry circling her ankles and found a fat black cat with a smug grin looking up at her.

“Hi, kitty,” she cooed, leaning down to pet it.

“That’s Lucifer,” said one of the Gastons. “Our mascot.”

Several yelps from first-year students could be heard from inside the rusty lockers that haphazardly lined the corridor. With only a few lightbulbs flickering overhead, Evie nearly walked into a giant cobweb woven over a heavy steel door. A spider the size of a witch’s cauldron sat in its center. Cool.

“Where does that lead to?” she asked.

“Oh that? That’s the door to the Athenaeum of Evil,” the other Gaston said.

“Come again?”

“The Library of Forbidden Secrets,” he explained. “Nobody is allowed down there, and only Dr. F has the key.”

“What kind of secrets?” asked Evie, intrigued.

“Forbidden ones, I guess?” Gaston shrugged. “Who cares? It’s a library. Sounds pretty boring to me.”

Finally, they arrived at the classroom’s arched wooden door. Evie stepped inside and made her way to the nearest open desk, smiling at those who came to gather curiously around her. Everyone was looking at her with such awe and admiration, she seemed to be making waves.

The desk she’d chosen had a remarkably large cauldron and a great view of the professor’s lectern. She took a seat, and there was a gasp in the crowd. Wow, these kids sure were easy to please.

Evie was feeling pretty good about her first day until she heard the sound of a throat clearing.

When she looked up, there was a pretty, purple-haired girl standing in front of her cauldron, staring at her with unmistakable venom. Her mother’s “mirror” would have had a few choice words about this one, that’s for sure. Evie felt a cold dread as the memory of a certain infamous party came flooding back. Maybe if she played dumb and flattered her, the girl wouldn’t remember what had happened ten years ago. It was worth a shot.

“I’m Evie. What’s your name?” Evie asked innocently, although she knew exactly who was standing in front of her. “And by the way, that jacket is amazing. It looks great on you—I love all the patchwork leathers on it.”

“Girl, that’s her cauldron. You should bounce,” a student Evie would find out later was named Yzla whispered loudly.

“Oh, this is yours…?” Evie asked the purple-haired girl.

The purple-haired girl nodded.

“I had no idea this was your desk, I’m so sorry! But it has such a great view of the lectern,” Evie said with her trademarked bright smile, so blinding, it should have come with sunglasses. Evie finally realized why the students had been staring at her. They had been watching a train wreck about to happen.

“Yes, it does,” the purple-haired girl replied, her voice soft and menacing. “And if you don’t move your blue-haired caboose out of it, you’ll get some kind of view, all right.” She snarled, brusquely brushing past Evie and noisily plonking her backpack down into the middle of the cauldron.

Evie got the message, grabbed her things, and found an empty cauldron in the back of the classroom, behind a column where she couldn’t see the blackboard.

“Is that who I think it is?” she asked the small boy seated next to her, whose hair was black at the roots but white at the tips. Actually, everything he wore was black and white with a splash of red: a fur-collared jacket with one black and one white side and red leather sleeves, a black button-down shirt with streaks of white, and long shorts with one white and one black-and-white leg. It was a pretty cool look. For a bloody skunk.

“If you mean Mal, you’re right, and I would stay out of her way if I were you,” he said.

“Mal…” Evie breathed, her voice trembling nervously.

“Yeah. Her mom’s the Big Bad around here. You know—” He made horn signs with his hands on either side of his head. You didn’t need to have lived on the Isle for long to know exactly whom he was talking about. Nobody dared speak her name, not unless absolutely necessary.

Evie gulped. Her first day, and she’d already made the worst enemy in school. It was Maleficent who had banished Evie and her mother ten years ago and caused Evie to grow up alone in a faraway castle. Her own mother might be called Evil Queen, but everyone on the Isle of the Lost knew that Maleficent wore the crown in these parts. From the looks of it, her daughter did the same in the dungeons of Dragon Hall.


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