Rating: T+

Pairing: Soma/Erina

Genre: A Love Letter To You All. Thank You.

Notes (Zancrow – Author):

Hello everyone! Zancrow here!

…And here we are. The last chapter of the first multi-chapter story I have ever managed to complete; one which I have poured all my heart and work experience into. From the start way back when the anime was still just hopeful thinking and the manga was in the middle of the Autumn Election, to now, the manga fully concluded (…more on that later) and the last season of the anime almost among us.

So, not much to say, just a big thank you to everyone who has read this fiction, and even more so to those who have shared their thoughts about it with me. I could not have done this without each and every one of you. But, rest assured, any further comments or questions, no matter how much time passes from this update, I will try my best to respond to. So please enjoy the ending to the story I could not be prouder of sharing with all of you.

Disclaimer: Don't own Shokugeki no Soma.

Special Thanks: To every reader who took the time to read "Nouvelle". May we meet again!

"So, you're telling me you've never been curious to see if the ghost stories are true?" Tootsuki Academy's resident Environmental Health & Safety Manager, using his most seductive tone, asked her to which she could only roll her eyes and glance at the clock.

"Do I look like the type interested in that sort of thing Mr. Jaku?" a very uninterested Jun Shiomi replied, wondering if she should perhaps take her business elsewhere and finish her research back at her own place. Akira was currently hosting a meeting there, what with all the unexpected changes currently happening in the academy and all, and she knew the last thing he needed was her interrupting that. But, given her current predicament…

"It's quite the inexpensive trip one could take to check the place out," Roiyaru Jaku continued, clearly not taking the hint. "I mean, after the body was seen, hardly anybody visits the Yuragi Inn nowadays."

"…Again, not something I think I would enjoy…" she really tried to sound nice. Thankfully, a messenger from Heaven was sent. Well, for her, for Roiyaru Jaku, not so much…

"Mr. Roiyaru Jaku," a very well dressed and very well-toned man spoke up as he and a partner entered the office area, both with very stern looks on their faces. Both Jun and Roiyaru could only look on in confusion, blinking slowly, with the latter only managing a weak "yes" in response. "Good. I'm going to need you to come with us."

"Huh? What's this-Hey!?" Roiyaru shrieked as he was grabbed by both men by the arms and basically lifted like a toddler from his spot. "W-What's the meaning of this!? Do you two even have any idea who I am?!"

"We do, and may we remind you that while we are inside the academy, you aren't actually required to have your rights read to, as you are not being arrested… yet," the other man replied, to which Jun could see how Roiyaru whimpered at the response.

"You are hereby ordered by Senzaemon Nakiri to come in for questioning," the first man explained. "According to evidence and a witness testimony, it was you who tampered with a student's evidence which was later used for his or her expulsion. Such an act is obviously both illegal and against out code, not that we have any reason to believe you do not know of such regulations."

"Tampered?!" Roiyaru barked, before it hit him like a ton of bricks. 'Wait… A witness? Don't tell me it was Eizan who ratted me out! But I did everything he and his father told me to do! I got that troubling upstart kicked out! But… But, I can't say that now! They'll have me vanished of the face of the Earth if I say something against them! I-I can't… This can't…!"

As the two bulky men took the scrawny, bawling guy away, Jun could only look on with a cheeky smile on her face.

"Might want to really look into that Inn you were talking about!" she shouted at their retreating forms. "After this, it'll probably be one of the few places you'll be able to afford after all!"

And just like that, one more offender was removed from Tootsuki Academy, and everyone could not be happier.

"So… What do you think?" an optimistic Mitsuru Soutsuda asked, his hands pressed against one another as if he were immersed in prayer, while his superior read the article the younger boy had written about the prior events. "I was lucky to be able to interview our Teacher Shiomi, given how she was the only witness to those events and how her student-maybe-son is very overprotective of anyone from the student press getting close to her."

"Believe me, that ain't half of it," the current President of the Newspaper Club and fellow classmate to the student that had caused all this commotion to start with, Isato Kosori, stated as he carefully eyed Mitsuru's would-be article. For all the boy's faults, which there were many, he really had been getting talented at writing interesting pieces. But even more so than that… "How did you score an interview with Miss Shiomi anyways? Can't imagine the Tenth Seat just allowed you to waltz in there unannounced. He is well-known for being very reclusive with his and her work, labeling any and all potential news reports on them as serving to only create misunderstandings and nothing more."

"Well…" Mitsuru replied, his eyes shifting to the side as he avoided eye contact with Isato, but even then the kid couldn't quite hide the little sheepish smile creeping up on his face. "…I just know a guy."

"You have sources?!"



"For that…" Mitsuru stated with a smirk. "You'd have to pay a little extra!"

At this Isato sat back, utterly dumbfounded. For one, how on Earth did the most bashful of his workforce ever get a source big enough to help him score such points with a Seated Member? And two…

…since when did they get paid?


"You look a bit tired…" a happy-go-lucky Soma Yukihira voiced, as he sat back on the chair he had been told to stay put in, while he glanced from the roof towards his current "assistant" in his new venture. Said assistant, the ever-popular First Seat Eishi Tsukasa, gave the boy a very unamused look, before he sighed and proceeded to offer a soft smile.

"Well, when you are tasked in handling so much background paperwork for this academy, you tend to lose a few good hours of sleep every now and then," Eishi replied, rubbing his head with his free hand, trying to push away an incoming migraine. "Which becomes ten times worse when a student is readmitted into this academy, something that simply doesn't happen, ever, and you're forced to outright create new paperwork because despite everybody being onboard with you coming back no one had any idea how to even start that process. I can't even begin to describe how tedious it is to create a form when no such precedence has ever been requested, in like, ever."

"Sounds rough," Soma replied, still grinning ear to ear, as Eishi could do nothing but swallow his self-pity and keep on working.

"That aside," Eishi said. "You settling back alright? Got your stuff back in Polar Star Dormitories already?"

"Ah, yeah, got done this morning!" the redhead replied, sounding so very proud of himself. "Moving can be so exhausting, let me tell you! Thankfully, unlike last time, Erina ordered to have most of my stuff brought in. For a second I actually thought she was gonna have my belongings flown in, given the staff she employees."

"That sounds like her," Eishi commented. "It still sounds shocking to me that you two are actually dating."

"I know, right!" Soma replied. "These last few weeks have been so weird, but hey, now that I'm back, we can get back on track. Even if Erina is my girlfriend and whatnot, I still need to get back up to speed so I can challenge her to a match and have her admit that she likes what I give her!"

"One night is all it takes to have a girl admit that!" the Second Seat interjected as she happily pranced into the office space, smiling devilishly at the smirking Soma and the embarrassed Eishi.

"He's talking about food Rin," Eishi corrected.

"So am I!" she lied. "Whatever did you think I was referring too, hmm?"

"I'd rather not…"

"Oh, hey Kobayashi!" Soma beamed at his upperclassmen, who flashed the boy a grin. "I'm officially back at the academy, which means I'm ready to get back to business. So, what do you say? Care to wager your Seat against me?!"

"Whoa, settle down there a bit little Genin, you can't just try and skip pass all the ranks and just head straight for the Kages, it don't work that way," Rindou explained, holding her index finger and waving it against the excitable youth. "First, you have a lot of catching up to do. And I mean, a lot."


"Oh that's right," Eishi recalled. "Considering this is a first, we don't have an actual guide to be able to follow, but what we sort-of decided upon is that first we need to get you back up-to-speed with the rest of you classmates. Which means taking all the tests you've missed out on…"


"…partaking in all the seminars that happened while you were gone…"


"…and also actually taking your Stagiaire Event, officially I mean."


"You've only been away for a few weeks kiddo," Rindou added. "Don't tell me you forgot how strict this place can be."

"I didn't, but isn't that a bit much?!" a now very nervous Soma asked, almost sounding like he was pleading to the two. "A few exams I can understand, and even the seminars, for as boring as they are, I can accept. But the Stagiaire? I took it. I was on the Hiei Cruise, squaring off against Isshiki and the others! And then I even ended up in Stuffed! I mean, you two were right there!"

"That may be true," Eishi replied, feeling a bit sorry for the kid but at the same time enjoying the fact that he was not the only one suffering because of this rash decision. "But you were not a Tootsuki student during that period. You were never really evaluated by the Stagiaire Supervisor Kazune Gabler, so…"

"You're screwed!" Rindou concluded, as Eishi just gave out a short laugh, all while Soma felt his spirit leave his body, the ghost of what once had been a chef filled with dreams now heading into the eternal abyss which is cold, hard reality.

"I… really didn't think this through, did I?" a half-dead Soma asked.

"You did not," his seniors replied in unison.


"And here we have the updated schedule for every single appointment you… well, sort of cancelled shall we say," the ever faithful secretary Hisako voiced, as she handed her best friend the set of documents which showed every chef, from professional to aspiring, that had made a down payment to have her bestow her wonderful gifts upon their creations. She wasn't quite sure how Senzaemon had made it clear to them that the ever sought after God's Tongue herself had abandoned most of her duties for several weeks due to some "after school" affairs. Especially after said affairs ended up in national television and in the front page of every newspaper, culinary or otherwise.

"It was a rebellious face of mine it would seem," Erina joked, taking a glance at the sheets, noticing just how packed her schedule seemed, leaving very little room for enjoyment. That would never do. "And I might end up leaving a few of them waiting a bit longer, considering how much needs to be done in this place."

"Considering a certain someone's welcoming party you mean?"

"I'd never skip out of my professional duties to simply engage in such trivial affairs," the heiress spoke up, her tone strict, but her friend knew her all too well. This was certainly not the same Erina that would have meant that; the Erina Nakiri from just over a month ago when her Shokugeki with Akira Hayama had all but started. Who would have known how much she would have changed? How much they all would have changed?

"Throwing a party to your boyfriend after he faced down the food yakuza doesn't seem all that trivial to me," Hisako teased. "Or… is Milady planning on scheduling some more personal quality time with the boy whose face has appeared on every news outlet imaginable?"

"As if!" Erina quickly shot back, her face red. Hisako merely began to laugh, managing to catch a glimpse of the "ice queen persona" her friend had been infamous for. "Don't misunderstand my intentions. I have it bad enough as is, what with Soma pulling me into that kiss in front of everyone. Do you have any idea how far that reached? I'm outright struggling not to think about it too much, or else I know I'll freak out."

"You didn't seem to complain much when-"


"I kid, I kid," she lied. "Still, for what it's worth, I found it utterly adorable. And so very romantic. I don't know how you didn't just faint honestly."

"Neither do I," Erina admitted, still red in the face. She shook her head, trying to push that image out of her mind. Push that sensation out of her tongue. "Regardless, I'll reorganize my schedule with you later, once we meet up with Julio so he can help out. Our get-together in Polar Star comes first, so talk to me about that."

"As you wish!" Hisako gleefully complied. "So far, Soma knows nothing… which, isn't very hard honestly. He's… slow in the intake, shall we say. So it shouldn't be a problem. I told Takumi to make word reach everyone, and he created a chat group in-why are you smirking at me?"

"It's nothing," Erina said without betraying her intentions. "Carry on."

"I'm watching you."

"Tsk. Tsk. You were saying?"

"…As I was saying," Hisako continued, playfully glaring at Erina. "Pretty much everybody has confirmed their attendance, so our biggest concern will be whether we'll all fit in the Polar Star Dorms. Isshiki says it won't be a problem, but I'm not sure."

"It'll be fine," Erina replied, as Hisako shifted her gaze and gave her a puzzled look. "It's Soma after all. He likes cozier places like that. If we made the party at my mansion, he wouldn't enjoy it as much. Familiarity to that boy means everyone canned together like sardines. Why? I'll never understand it, but the party's for him, so we'll make do-And why are you smirking?"

"It's nothing," Hisako voiced. "Carry on."

Erina simply pouted. When had Hisako gotten so cheeky?

"…Anyways," Erina continued. "We should probably begin to move, he should be getting formally reinstated soon, so I can't miss that."

"Yeah, let's… Oh, wait, almost forgot!" Hisako added, and Erina paused as she looked at her friend scramble through her documents before she picked one out. "It's about our, erm, upperclassman, Etsuya Eizan."

"Oh great," Erina muttered. "I thought we were done with that already."

"Pretty much," Hisako explained. "Eizan, as agreed by him and your grandfather, has relinquished his seating amongst the Elite Ten, alongside every single asset he had earned during his time as a member."

"Way too lenient a punishment if you ask me," Erina argued, annoyed.

"Agreed," Hisako muttered. "Still, it was what Soma told the Director he wanted. He didn't want Eizan expelled or anything of the sort after all. Don't know why Soma still wants Eizan around for, but…"

"To challenge him again of course," Erina replied. "The blockhead believes in second chances a little too much. That's what you get when you are raised reading too much Dragon Ball and not enough history books."

"But you read it too…"

"I can totally tell fiction apart from reality!" Erina argued with a light blush on her face. "Still, the little worm is now effectively powerless in this academy, which I suppose will have to do. He did give up all his lackeys, so we got some justice there, and it appears that thanks to Soma's display in the showcase our friends in the cruise might end up getting the better deal from the sponsors and the shareholders, given how both Eizan and all of his handpicked participants got their asses kicked by one little reject "handpicked" by Mr. Sakamoto."

"Sounds like justice to me!"

"Yeah," Erina replied with the most sincere smile Hisako had ever seen her friend sport. She really had come so far, all because of one rebellious boy, hell-bent on proving himself to this high-strung girl. Maybe such romances were real after all? Hisako couldn't help but feel tremendous joy at the sight, and could only nod in reply to Erina's request. "Let's get going. It should be starting soon!"


"I do apologize for bringing you all out here in such short notice," Senzaemon Nakiri announced as he stood up in the stage before the entire campus alumni, microphone in hand, his presence ever so strong. "But, as I'm sure some of you, if not all of you, have heard; we have a very important announcement to make. And with it, a very clear message that I want to send to all of you. While it is still very much true, that you are all here meant to polish those few diamonds in the rough amongst you, you are also, without a doubt, all the pride and joy of this academy! Even if you last only one day, or you graduate with top honors, you are Tootsuki Alumni for life! And I, alongside all of our great staff, cannot be happier that you are all giving it your all for this academy and its goals!"

As Senzaemon addressed the crowd, all the students looking on with different emotions flashing across their faces, the rest of the Tootsuki top staff stood to the side, all in attendance for this first ever announcement. Several high ranking members, from those within the Nakiri family like Soe Nakiri and Leonora Nakiri, to all those who defined what it meant to be a Tootsuki graduate, like the "excited beyond belief" Jun Shiomi, the "almost actually smiling" Roland Chapelle, the "still dressed like a playing card" Hisanao Kageura (Erina loved his tuxedo oh~so very much), the "annoyed that she had someone else to supervise" Kazune Gabler, the "proud that his student knew this guy" Miyazato Takao, and even the "best of the best" Gin Doujima.

And of course, the "proud grandmother" Fumio Damidou, who stood to the far back, with the equally proud and surprisingly melancholic Jouichirou Yukihira.

"From an upstart with no business being here," Fumio voiced. "To outright changing our ironclad rules just to have him back. I daresay Tootsuki wouldn't do this for anyone else, probably not even for you."

"Yeah, ain't that great?!" Jouichirou replied, his pride and joy evident. "Kid's got only one direction in that compass of his: forwards. Can't say he got it from me, but damn does he make it look easy."

"So, please give a proper Tootsuki welcome, to the student who did the impossible, and forced an old fart like me to actually rewrite a page in the Tootsuki Academy guidebook!" Senzaemon roared into the microphone, and all the students, from those of the Polar Star, to those acquainted with them, to those of several seminars, to those carrying the title of Elites, and even those who had been opponents of the boy at some point, began to roar in acclaim. "The first and so far only student to be readmitted into this academy, come right up: Soma Yukihira!"

The applauses got louder, as did the cheers. Alice even began to whistle at the sight of the redhead slowly walking up to the stage, all to set the proper mood as she claimed, all the while his face just displayed the same dopey expression it had sported all those months ago. He took a few steps, turned towards the crowd, and within moments, spotted the blonde princess looking at him from the sides, her smile as beautiful as ever. It was all he needed, as it had been the reason he had fought so hard to return. To once again be upon this stage.

"Hey, good to see you guys," Soma sheepishly addressed the crowd, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand and he held onto the microphone with his other. "While it may be fair of you guys to assume I had a speech prepared this time since I knew beforehand I was going to be standing here, truth is that I tried, but nothing came out. I stared at blank page for about an hour before I gave up. Cooking is one thing, but I suck at creative writing. A lot, actually. Some of you are pretty good at it, don't hide it, I've seen your fanfiction."

A few scattered chuckles could be heard, as Soma allowed himself to smile. He did it, he was back. And he had them to thank.

"That said, the one thing I know I need to say," Soma continued. "A big thank you to all my friends. All you guys at Polar Star, who supported me when no one else would. And even all those friends of mine that don't reside there, but that are like family to me regardless. Thank you guys, couldn't have done all of this without you."

The applauses began, a far cry from his initial "speech".

"That said…" Soma added, as a devilish smirk adorned his face.

'Oh no…' Megumi thought.

'He wouldn't…' Takumi began.

'He totally would…' Akira continued.

'This guy…' Ryou looked on.

'Is he really…?' Alice wondered.

'You can't be seriously…?' Hisako pondered.

'…I knew it,' Erina voiced in her thoughts, her eyes closed, a knowing smile in her face.

The crowd had gone silent…

"…I'm totally still going to use you all as my stepping stones," the wildcard chef announced with a knowing smirk. "You all might come to regret cheering me on in here, but oh well, best luck to you all on getting that second place!"

…the crowd then began to roar at the cheeky boy, promising to crush him without pity, as his friends all laughed at the sight. They had all missed this so much. They had missed him so much. Soma Yukihira was home, and none of them would have it any other way.


Chat Group: "Rock Out w/ Your Wok Out!"

Admins: Alice Nakiri; Takumi Aldini

6:37 PM

+ Alice Nakiri added Zenji Marui.

Alice: There, I think that's everybody! Can't forget the nerd! :)

Hisako: Can you not?

Erina: Focus people, we have less than an hour to get everything ready. How's everything back at the dorms?

Isshiki: Everything is almost set! Although, sadly, it seems I'm being forbidden from using my trademark party attire.

Nene: You are not going to be half naked!

Isshiki: Party-pooper. :(

Megumi: Are we really allowed to use all these fireworks? There's a lot of them here.

Daigo: Oh relax! Shoji and I are experts with these stuff!

Ikumi: And now I'm worried.

Isami: At least the food is all there, both the party favors and the extra ingredients in case anyone wants to get creative.

Yuuki: Just please make sure to throw away any peanut butter. My stomach cannot deal with that stress right now!

Ryoko: Just be glad he's back. I almost missed his little experiments… almost.

Shun: I think his meeting with Senzaemon is almost over, we should hurry.

Alice: That Gramps, I told him to text me when the meeting was over!

Senzaemon: Well excuse me, princess!

Yuuki: …Is the Headmaster in this group?

Erina: Alice, you added Grandpa!

Alice: Why not?

Ryou: She thought it would be funny.

Shoji: Funny!? I thought this was going to be a chat meant for us to have fun!

Senzaemon: :(

- Senzaemon Nakiri has left the group.

Alice: Shoji! Look what you did! You made Gramps feel unwelcomed!

Shoji: …Are you serious?

Alice: Apologize!

Shun: Shouldn't we be focusing on Soma?

Hisako: I would swear this was Alice just messing around on her Grandpa's phone.

Alice: I'd never! Just apologize to him!

Shoji: I'm sorry…?

+ Senzaemon Nakiri has joined the group.

Senzaemon: :)

Erina: Can you stop and take this seriously!

Senzaemon: :(

Erina: Not you! Takumi, why'd you give her admin privileges?

Takumi: ( -_-)/

Takumi: My bad, she begged. Should have seen this coming, really.

Urara: Not to be rude, but I totally saw Soma walking out of the building just now.

Erina: And we're officially late! Everyone stop texting and get to work! We need this ready in twenty minutes!

Hisako: Yes ma'am!

Megumi: Alright, ah, this is making me so nervous.

7:05 PM

Julio: Damn it, I'm late! Don't close the door, I'm almost there!

7:23 PM



At around seven-thirty at night, Soma found himself in the front yard of the Polar Star Dorms once again. It had gotten much later than he had anticipated, as his announcement had caused a minor "uproar" to say the least, but Senzaemon managed to get every one's attention back after not much struggle. The announcement then led to him being asked into Senzaemon's office, to fill out more paperwork and answer a few more questions, and in the end, the boy was aching to just go to bed. He did have around six tests scheduled for tomorrow after all, and by this time next week he would probably be away in his Stagiaire, so that he could be back in time for the Moon Banquet Festival, whatever that was.

As he stepped down from his motorbike, a familiar figure stood before him and the dorms.

"Hey kiddo," his father greeted, as Soma walked towards him.

"Dad! For a second I thought you'd be on a plane to America or something by now," Soma told the elder man, who simply frowned at the accusation.

"You consider me that bad a father, huh?"

"Not like that!" Soma defended. "I've soaked up a lot of your time as is. You're old, so you should focus on working before I'm forced to send you to a retirement home or something."

"I'll pretend your messing around and not take that in anyway personally," his father faked being hurt.

"Yeah, totally joking," Soma spoke in jest, as his father ruffled his hair with his hand.

"You did great kiddo, Tamako would be so proud," Jouichirou stated, then added, "She would have probably also stabbed Eizan senior at some point, knowing her temper, but that's neither here nor there."

"Mom knew how to get stuff done, that's for sure," Soma noted, as his father offered the boy a smile.

"…Still, I'm glad you found so early what took me years to find," Jouichirou told him, and Soma couldn't help but stare at the man in confusion. "Don't you remember? It was almost four in the morning, you asked me if I ever thought of getting married again."

"Huh? I did?" Soma asked. "Oh! Wait, I remember, it was right after Erina and I managed to get in touch with Tadokoro, Takumi, Hisako and Mimasaka. What about it?"

"You said to me, in your own words, that if you meet a girl, that makes you want to give all the food you make to her, then there's nothing you can't probably do," Jouichirou repeated, and he could see how Soma blushed a bit at the reminder.

"I must have been real sleepy," a bashful Soma replied. "Sounds awfully corny if you ask me."

"True," his father agreed. "Awfully true as well. I almost gave up on cooking, after I left Tootsuki, I had no direction. No goal. No dream. I had lost that spark, almost like what happened to you. And it all went away when I met Tamako. The insecurities, the stress, all of it. Not only was she an amazing chef, but she just enjoyed every aspect of it. Her failures even, more so than any person I've ever met before or since. And that only multiplied when we had you."

"You think?" Soma voiced, finding it utterly charming to hear his father reminiscence about his mother.

"But, that's not the point," his father added. "Your mom and I is one thing, but you, you got out of that hole so quickly. And you found that girl, the little Nakiri princess to boot. I don't normally say it, because I'm a firm believer actions should speak louder than words, but…" Jouichirou placed his fist right up against Soma's chest, as the boy's eyes went wide. "I'm proud of you kiddo. You are one step closer to your dream. Keep it up."

"…You know I-"

Then the entire dorm exploded.

Or seemed to at least. Rather than an outright explosion, seemingly out of nowhere, fireworks flew right out of the ground, exploding several feet into the dark skies, and turning the black night into an extravagant light show, outright scaring the crap out of the two Yukihiras. Both chefs stood guarding their faces as if they had been assaulted, their eyes wide as dinner plates, having no idea what had even happened.

"…Shit, they went off," a voice could be heard from the darkness.

"I told you to stop playing with the damn lighter!" another scolded.

"…You two idiots ruined the surprise," another added.

"I think they almost gave the two a heart attack," added another.

"Oh well~" spoke a familiar proud voice. "Let's make do with what we've got!"





The entire Polar Star Dormitories lit up, with Soma now realizing the place had been adorned from floor to ceiling with more party decorations than he thought possible. His friends quickly came out with party favors, filling both him and his father with confetti and cheering and applauding at the young chef for his impressive return. They had been hiding well, Jouichirou noted, as they seemed to pop up from the dorms, from the bushes, from the roof and even from the mailbox.

Within moments, an empty yard became filled with the most recognizable students that walked the halls of Tootsuki, all gathered to celebrate the definitely earned return of their friend. Soma's expression changed from shocked, to embarrassed, to gleeful in the span of several seconds, as he joined in on the laughter and the cheering. He had not had had enough time to thank them all properly, to talk and chat with each and every one of them. But now? He finally had all the time in the world. It didn't matter how tough the road ahead was going to be. Just for this night, just for this moment, he could simply be among friends, and celebrate alongside them of battles won.


He found her staring out into the night, by the edge of the balcony, her mind as lost in thought as his eyes were in her beauty. He was never one much poetry, to use fancy words to describe the things he liked. He'd never been one to fall in love either, and if he were honest with himself, he still had no idea when it was he fell. One moment, they were fighting over his rank amongst her group, with him wanting nothing more than to get that match done so he could focus on his academic career, not furthering hers. The next, she's in his home, cooking alongside him, bathing there and sleeping there, spending so much time together that they could no longer describe each other as just friends. Then came a kiss, a promise and an unwinnable battle.

And here they were, victorious despite it all.

"…Hey," he spoke.

"Hey yourself," the girl basked in the moonlight replied.

"Sorry if these guys went a little overboard with the whole party thing," he told her, trying to think up a topic to say to her. Despite all his plans, now that he was finally back here, back with her, he had no idea how to move forwards. It all seemed so alien to him now, those experiences lived, as if they were a lifetime ago, somehow. Could he honestly just walk up to her and steal another kiss from those lips? Kiss the princess right in her kingdom?

"I've come to expect it from them by now," Erina said, turning to face the boy properly. "I knew you'd much prefer these dumb antics than anything fancy I could cook up back home. You're still a plebian after all, so not much I can do in that regard I'm afraid."

"Oh? Back to those insults I see," Soma playfully noted as he narrowed his eyes "judgingly" at her. "And here I am worried how our relationship will move forwards from now on, and you simply revert back to the good old high and mighty thing. Hope you don't want to kick me out again, because let me tell you, it ain't gonna happen. This place is boring without me, or so I've heard."

"Oh my," Erina acted surprised. "Such a big ego all the sudden. Just because our ironclad rules were changed to simply accommodate you doesn't mean that you are important here in the slightest. I simply couldn't allow an employee of mine to get kicked out on such faulty charges…" she tried, but she began to laugh harder and harder with every word. "…Ah, I can't believe we really managed to change everything to get you back in here. How does it feel? To be the talk of every single person in here?"

"Like home, I guess. That hasn't really changed much," Soma admitted. "I'm used to that sort of stuff."

"I see," she said. "So… are you planning on setting your sights for the now empty Ninth Seat?"


"Eizan stepped down after all, and it was you who beat him," Erina explained, resting her back against the deck railing, the chilly wind hitting her at just the right time to push her golden hair to the side, almost taking his entire breath away. "Akira was the first one offered the spot, being the Tenth Seat and all, but he declined," she continued, unfazed. "He mentioned something about it not being right, which makes me guess he took our match to heart. Can't say I don't admire him for it, but that means, the Seat is right there for the taking, if you meet the qualifications that is. And trust me… you do."

"…Ninth Seat," Soma repeated, stars almost flashing across his eyes, as he felt elated at the sound of it. He then smiled so brightly it almost blinded her, as he offered her a soft gaze than then melted her on the spot. How did he have this effect on her still? "Sounds awesome, but I can't take it," he replied, and she felt gobsmacked.

"What do you mean you can't take it?!" she demanded an explanation. "You won it fair and square! Isn't your plan to take the top of this Academy? Well, that's how you do it, you little idiot!"

"Actually, what I wagered against Eizan was my family's restaurant versus my readmission here, not his seat," Soma clarified, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly, as Erina glared at her dumb-as-rocks boyfriend. "Hey now, don't get mad at me all the sudden. I get what you mean, but if Akira doesn't want the seat, it doesn't feel right for me to take it, given as I still need to beat Akira before that! Believe me, I'm itching for our rematch."

"So you're planning on just letting anyone else take that Seat?"

"Of course not! I'm not an idiot!" Soma argued; Erina bit her tongue not to contradict that. "However, considering my contract, it's not mine to take anyways."

"Huh?" she paused, shifting her head to the side in genuine confusion. "Your contract? What are you referring to…?"

"Forgotten already, man, I know I missed a few days at work, but damn, my boss already forgot about me," he jokingly mused, as Erina's eyes went wide in realization. He couldn't mean…? "I failed to help you keep you Seat, Erina. You went out of you way to save my ass, and if it wasn't for you, I would have been outright consumed by all these events. But I haven't forgotten. Be it the Head Busser, or an Assistant Manager, I was still, in a way, working for you up 'til that Shokugeki against Eizan. So, and I have no idea if I can even offer this but Imma do it anyways, why don't you take the Ninth Seat for yourself. Such a throne is better served for a princess after all… until I kick Akira's ass and take his, which then means I'm coming for you, but that's neither here nor there, so-Hey, what's with that look?"

"…N-Nothing," she shifted her head to the side, all in a vain effort to his the smile on her face she couldn't force herself from making. Those words, those intentions of his, the made her so damn happy that she felt herself floating. She had had no intention of taking a Seat within the Elite Ten so quickly, as she knew she should focus on her studies first and leave that for later in the year, but now? Had this boy really just told her that he'd much prefer she have it? Who does that?

"You sure it's nothing?" Soma asked, shifting himself to better get a look at her. "Don't come to me with some nonsensical reason as why you shouldn't take the Seat, since I already made my mind on it and fought very hard for it. And if you still don't wanna, we can battle for it, I win you take the Seat; you win, well, I… I can, hmm, I ca-"

She pulled him into a kiss he never so coming.

Her lips were desperately on his, just as her arms wrapped across his neck, pulling the boy towards her with as much force as she could manage, much to his shock and admittedly pleasure. He didn't it notice it then, too caught up in the embrace to even think properly, but this had been the first time she had been the one to initiate the kiss. The ever proper girl, who responded to every single one of his gestures in embarrassment and hesitation, now throwing her body and soul into his frame. The kiss wasn't as deep as when he kissed her, as she kept her God's Tongue in check, to which he was thankful for, as he wasn't sure he could handle her leading in such a manner. It wasn't that cold out after all.

They parted, both smiling, neither having any idea how long the kiss had lasted. Neither much caring either.

"Erina," he breathlessly spoke.

"You're fired," she replied.

"Yeah-Wait, what?" he asked, doing a double take and raising his brow at her, as she began to laugh again.

"Your job as my Assistant Manager is done," she explained, still locked into his arms. If he would ever remind her of it, she'd claim it had been too cold and she was merely seeking warmth. "From now on, let's focus on us both climbing to the top. We'll fight together, and, as a show of faith to your hard work, I'll do what I must to ensure I take the Ninth Seat, for now. You best begin your attempts at taking another Seat too, as it's pretty boring in those meetings. You might liven things up."

"You want to make out during the meetings?" he asked so suddenly she couldn't help but turn beet red and bury her head into his chest, almost screaming into the warm fabric of his jacket. "N-Not that! I meant it as company, nothing more! Keep that up and I won't let you kiss me any longer!"

"Okay, okay, settle down," he replied, patting the blonde on her head, an act which embarrassed her even more but one that she made no attempt in making him stop. "To be fair, you kissed me just now, so if anything, I'm the one who should be careful around you," then he felt her nails threaten to dig into his ribs, and he let out a nervous laugh. "Just kidding, take it easy, I need my lungs to cook, you know."

"You're an idiot."

"Should I reply by saying "I'm your idiot" or something more along the lines of "But you love me anyways", huh?"

She said nothing. Erina closed her eyes and kept her head on his chest, the sound of his beating heart, getting ever so more frantic with every breath she took against him, giving her some much needed calm after so much turmoil. And he held onto her like he had never held anyone else before. Like how he had seen his father hold his mother, and back then he had not understood why. Now he knew. He had found his special someone, and from now on, his future was no longer just focused on bettering himself just because. To continue impressing her, to push her forwards and by extension find the strength to move forwards himself.

She the mumbled something to his jacket, which he didn't quite understand.

"Huh?" he asked. "You say something?"

"…Not really," she replied, as she closed her eyes once again, lost in the scent of that damn cologne he always wore.

She didn't want him to hear it, not just yet, but it felt right to say it, even if only the wind caught it.

It was actually delicious.


The young couple joined the others after a while, and between the playful whistles from Alice and the two knuckleheads of Polar Star, the cheers from most of the others, and knowing glances and winks from the older kids (which took Soma by surprise, as even the other Elite Ten students found themselves at the party once their duties for the day had been completed), Soma and Erina could do little else but smile and play along. After all, the intimacy between the two was a little more intense than what all these guys were thinking. Except maybe Rindou. She was probably thinking of something way, way more intimate than what had actually occurred, given the proud smile she was flashing the two.

They sat together, next to their friends, and began to trade the stories that led to them all being there. Come tomorrow, they'll all be rivals again. They'll all be once again engaged in the fight of the student careers, struggling to survive an Academy where only the one percent flourish. But just for this one night, they could just be friends. And they wouldn't have it any other way.

Yuuki brought out the sweets first, and began to spread them around, or at least, the ones she did not keep for herself. Marui and Madoka tried to help out, but when Yuuki began to pester the two about their "relationships", the two bespectacled youths just blacked out. Ryoko had to come to their defense, and as she scolded Yuuki on minding her own business, her eyes couldn't help but drift towards Shun. He looked on, not saying a word, and leaving her with thoughts she had not expected to have to confront this night of all nights.

The Elite Ten took over the spreading of sweets from the Polar Star girls, not that they ended up doing much. Momo found the sweets decidedly not cute, and it took Soumei picking her up and sitting her in his lap to stop her from throwing them away. Rindou teased the petite Fourth Seat endlessly for this, until she was slapped right across the face by "Bucchi", which then took both Eishi and Tosuke to stop the Second Seat from throwing the plush cat into the stove.

Isshiki ended up being the one to hand out the treats to everyone, and despite feeling underwhelmed that he was not allowed to party "hard" like he had planned to, he managed to give everyone a treat without much hassle. It would have helped if Nene assisted, he noted, but she was too caught up in an argument with Kuga to even notice… which meant…

Naked Apron Time!

…but she noticed very quickly after that. One broken plate on his head later, Isshiki was now properly dressed again, much to the confusion of most people present. Well, those outside of the Polar Star Dorms anyways, as those who knew Isshiki well didn't even bat an eye at the display. Ikumi, for her part, decided she would no longer ask any more questions regarding the weirdness before her. She only glanced up at her once-upon-a-time "boss" Erina, who offered the bikini top wearing girl a smile. Ikumi may not be too happy with the outcome herself, this much Kanachi could not, but instead of looking sad or angry, the once-love-struck girl smiled back, and he couldn't see even a hint of jealously in her eyes.

Isami noticed how Hisako kept engaging in conversations with Takumi, and he gave him brother a knowing nudge on the arm, which his oblivious twin seemed not to catch on to. He may need some more time, Isami noted, and much to his surprise, Mimasaka also took note and agreed. The taller boy told the younger twin all about his experience against the Italian and the secretary, which Isami had only gotten a very abridged version of. He might need to talk with his brother after tonight.

Akira, despite his intentions of merely showing up and leaving soon thereafter, stayed around at the behest of Megumi. Isshiki noted how the boy seemed to lower his defenses when it came to the petite flower of Tootsuki, which caused him to smile and try and reach out to them, to offer a "friendly" word of advice, but he was quickly shut down by Nene, who "politely" told him to leave the two alone.

Alice was the one who first suggested Karaoke, which most quickly agreed to. After a disastrous duet from Daigo and Shoji, and an even worse one from Julio, the younger Nakiri took the realms and did a pretty good cover of a romantic if not slightly sexual song. They all played along, even a frowning but still accepting Fumio. She ended her song, passed the microphone to Urara (who proceeded to sing an even more age-inappropriate song), and went to seat next to Kurokiba. Or rather, on his lap. The boy gave her a confused glance, to which she simply offered him a soft smile, a rarity for such a beaming girl. In her mind, after all, were simply the echoing words of her mother. 'I have not lost to Erina just yet…'

Then came time to eat, and the Asura took center stage.

"I'll make something special for all you hungry kids," Jouichirou announced, as he made his way into the Polar Star kitchen, the very same one he had handed Soma his 490th defeat. 'I wonder…' Jouichirou thought, the events from these past few weeks catching up to him. 'How'd he fair if we were to fight one another now?'

"You think I'll just let you waltz right into this kitchen as you please?!" the boy seemed to read his mind and declared himself before the Asura, his eyes sharp as eyes and his arms across his chest in pure confidence.

"Oh~?" Jouichirou noted, not all that surprised. "So you think you can-Huh?"

It seriously took Jouichirou by surprise that it wasn't only Soma standing before him, but an equally determined Erina was right by his side. Her eyes were just as sharp as his, glaring at the Asura. "Don't think that all my admiration for your skills mean that I would not dare to challenge you, Mr. Yukihira," Erina voiced, to which Soma only smirked. "Such an opportunity is rare, so please, allow us the privilege… to crush you right here and now."

"I can totally crush him on my own you know," Soma added, turning to his girlfriend. "We may need to give him a handicap."

"Perhaps…" Erina voiced, thinking. "But, I did plan on going against you once we finish with your father, that is, if you can keep up."

"Oh, is that right?!" Soma knew a challenge when he heard one. "Them fighting words! You're on! Let's crush pops and then we fight!"

"…I'm being downplayed here…" Jouichirou muttered half-jokingly, before he decided to get serious. He fastened his apron and took a step, and the entire ambiance on the room changed. All students took notice, especially the couple before him. "Don't go underestimating me now kids. I'll be taking this very seriously. So please, show me what the future generation of Yukihira can do."

"You got it!" Soma replied with a fist into the air.

"Yes, we-Wait!" Erina stumbled, her face red once again. "Future generation!? That sounds like you think we-Wait, we're not like-I mean, I-I…"

"What's wrong with you all the sudden?" a confused Soma asked.

"Don't you realize what he implied by that?" a blushing Erina demanded.

"…Not really."

"You are seriously too dense!"

"Then explain it to me!"

"I-I-No! If you didn't get it, that's your own fault! Focus on the match and forget about what he said!"

"…You're weird."

"And you're an idiot!"

"…Shall we?" Jouichirou asked, and the two nodded, as the whole room went silent.

And the night ended how the conflict had begun, with two desperate chefs working together for a common goal, giving it their all against all odds, but now with a blossoming relationship that neither fully understood what it would mean down the line. When family, responsibilities and tragedy would inevitably strike, they would have everything tested against them and the entire world waiting for them to fail. But that would be a story for another time, as right now, in the moment, the two were cooking happily with one another, and as the stolen glances and lingering touches between them only seemed to escalate, one thing was certain.

Whatever outside force would ever try an drift them apart had a very rough battle ahead, as the two once bickering enemies were as happy as could be, if only for just this once perfect night.


My Thoughts on Shokugeki no Soma's ending:

As some of you may know, I started reading Shokugeki no Soma ever since the very first manga chapter hit the web. As I was working at a restaurant by then (as a Busser, obviously), I fell in love with the series. I knew of other food-related series, but I never got around to read any of them. SnS was different. Sure, it was a bit… kinky, but I loved it all the same. I adored the characters; I shipped Soma with Erina ever since she first appeared on panel; the "fights" were creative and made me want to try out a few of the recipes; and the use of common Shonen tropes and how the series initially played with them made it feel so outright refreshing.

Then came the final arcs. The Central Arc, where daddy Azami came and shifted the attention away from the rather excellent Moon Banquet Arc, left me with mixed emotions. For one, it took attention away from the more realistic struggles an actual chef faces (sales, recipes, reaching quotas, etc.) to giving the story a villain when it never really needed anything more than rivals (which I feel Akira, Eizan and admittedly Erina fit in perfectly). On the other hand, it did give Erina much needed character development and made it clear that Soma / Erina wasn't as unlikely as it initially seemed given her initial lack of involvement in the plot. Her past may have been somewhat cliché, but it served her well, and I would be lying if the final matches between the Rebels and the Elite didn't actually excite me on a weekly basis.

Then… the time skip happened. Soma became First Seat? Okay… Erina was Headmistress? Wait, what? Isn't she still a student? How does that work? Those changes were shocking, to say the least, but I pushed on forwards. More school activities followed, which seemed to be a step in the right directions, then… the Noire Chefs appeared. The Academy of adventure became The Cooking Godfather for some reason, and a dumb love triangle appeared in the form of Asahi Saiba, who had not been hinted at in the slightest beforehand. Now, do I hate Asahi as a character? A little, but admittedly it's more because he is barely a character to begin with, and more a walking plot and obstacle for Soma to overcome. What were Soma's goals? To beat his dad and make Erina admit she likes what he gives her (giggity!), so what does Asahi do? Just that, with minimal effort. So, despite my attempts at just letting the story play out, I felt cheated by these revelations and the abruptness of it all.

In the end, Asahi was defeated, the Noire Chefs were simply an afterthought, everyone not named Soma or Erina (with maybe some exception to Megumi, Takumi and arguably Eishi) were outright forgotten (like, Marui is not even in the Epilogue for crying out loud!), and it just ends. No Soma / Jouichirou Shokugeki. No admission from Erina. Nothing. Then the Epilogue plays out, and what do we get? Surprise incest and an Asahi happy ending! I mean, good for him, I don't hate the guy fully, but what of the others? Where was that "potential" we kept hinting at from Megumi? Where is that justification for Takumi's status as Soma's true rival? Where is Alice? Kurokiba? Akira? Where is all the character development of the "rebellious daughter" Erina, who went from standing up to an abusive father to simply needing to be rescued once more from her mother and… brother? And what did Soma accomplish? He's well known, okay, but can he defeat his father? Shinomiya? Erina? Azami? If he and Asahi had a rematch, would he still win? He got no ending, which I feel is worse than a bad ending.

But, having said all that, there are still things I like about the ending. Everything regarding the Yukihira family, from Tamako meeting Jouichirou to their relationship with Soma is absolutely adorable (even if it ended up contradicting my story entirely by making her a horrible chef), and Soma and Erina's relationship as they're older is outright flirty, which is more than I can say for any other couple (like, really, Kurokiba is just a butler now? …Why?). So there are things to enjoy, just not as many as there were when the story was giving it it's all.

Shokugeki no Soma is a fantastic series, one which I'm glad I read and watched and one that actually helped me pick out a career path, but in the end, much like the Asura, it got caught up in the storm, and unfortunately was unable to push itself forwards out of it. It could not manage what its lead character managed, and in the end, it left a great cast of characters with just a good enough story.

Not great, but well worth the memories. Thank you Yuuto Tsukuda. Thank you Shun Saeki. Thank you Yuki Morisaki. And thank you all for reading "Nouvelle", I love you all greatly!













Soma Yukihira and Erina Nakiri's romance continues in "Classique"