Author's Important Notes: (Please Read before Reading the Story)
(1) The Sakura Family and the Hyuuga family are mostly composed of original characters taken from the Anime and Manga. Keep in mind that the Sakura Clan is rich and very influential. They are a world-renowned family, so it's no wonder they are admired by people. Many characters in this story will be treated as celebrities or royalty. Some OCs will pop up later on to fill in the spaces. Of course, some of the family members tend to have different surnames.
(2) This story will contain various themes—Lolita, Incest, Student-Teacher Relationship, Romance, Drama, Action and Adventure, friendship and family. Please expect a lot of surprising pairs, couples and match-up. Some may even be bizarre or downright sweet. Male Harem Theme will be present here as well. This is rated T, but there will be minor adult scenes. However, I won't go as far as sex, understand?
(3) Honestly, this story was dared to me by a certain friend of mine. She wishes to include all the themes stated above to see if I could balance them out. This is a challenge for me and there were certain rules laid out. It's very hard and kind of pressuring. I accepted this challenge because I want to improve my writing skills more. My friend chose the series Gakuen Alice, with Natsume and Mikan as the main pair, although she doesn't like Natsume that much. Damn, this is like creating my own manga series.
(4) I will include an Omake (Extra) Story at the bottom in some chapters. It will either be irrelevant to the plot or just plain old ice breaker.
Japanese Terms: Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Hime (Princess), Ouji (Prince), Hihou (Treasure), Bishounen (Beautiful Guy)
Sakura no Hihou
First Chapter: Sakura no Hime
The sun rose harmoniously beyond the horizon, its rays shining expectantly. From inside her room a little girl watched it, fascinated. Her amber eyes were shimmering in amazement as her long silky brown hair danced with the wind. She loved watching the sunrise, knowing how beautiful and warm it was. It was a favorite ritual every morning, but there were times she would usually wake up late. The girl stood in front of her window, breathing in the fresh spring air, and then she saw a familiar raven-haired boy below. Bursting with energy, she greeted him with a bright and cheerful smile. The boy stared at her for one moment and then slowly went away. A small pout escaped from her lips. The boy always had an attitude problem with her. He had to be nonchalant all the time. Well, even though he was like that, she still liked him very much. He was one of the most important people to her. Putting her thoughts about him aside, she gazed up at the sky and sighed dreamily. It was going to be another good day.
Inside the bathroom she removed her nightgown, and then lay down in the tub staring at the ceiling. For the umpteenth time that week her mind drifted once again to her mother. She sighed softly, picked up the perfume soap and inhaled its sweet aroma. Several minutes later she went out of her room, fully dressed in a pink kimono with Sakura patterns as her hair was tied in a half ponytail with a pink ribbon, and climbed down the stairs. There were maids who greeted her on the way to the dining room and as she reached the said room, she saw a man there. A smile graced her lips the minute he looked at her. His name was Sakurano Shuuichi. He was her older cousin, but she treated him like an older brother. He was handsome, brilliant, intelligent, and cool. She admired everything about him—from his shoulder length golden hair to his sapphire-blue eyes.
"Nii-san, good morning," she happily said as she took a seat across him. "Today is the first day of school. Are you excited?" Sakurano was already in his third year of high school. His uniform was a black blazer with two white thin stripes from the shoulder to the sleeves, two white stripes from collar to the bottom, and a white collared shirt with black neck tie, and black pants. A star badge was situated on the left collar of his blazer.
"Of course, I am," he replied in a smooth voice. He always speaks in a formal way. "But I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about giving a speech. You see, I've been elected as Student Council President this year. I've been given such a big responsibility. Do you think I'm capable enough to be president, Mikan-san?"
Mikan's face brightened up even more. "There's no doubt about it!" she said, holding his hands. "You'll make a fine president, Nii-san." Sakurano was talented in anything he tries and his grades were always good. In addition to that, almost everyone at school respected him. Mikan knew he would handle his job as president well.
"Hearing you say that makes me motivated," Sakurano said. Truth to be known, he was always mesmerized and amused, and attached to her. One word of encouragement from her was enough to boost his confidence. Mikan was the most interesting girl for him, aside from her mother. Not only was she bubbly, she was kind, tender, and very adorable. "Thank you very much, Mikan-san. I don't feel nervous anymore."
A maid served Mikan her breakfast and she started eating. "You know what? I would really like to attend school." She picked up a hotdog with her fork and took a bite. She chewed it and swallowed it before she spoke again. "You're lucky you get to attend. I'm sick and tired of being cooped up inside the mansion everyday. I do get to play outside, but I never get to explore places outside the Sakura Land."
Heiress of the Sakura Clan. The thought of the rules of the Sakura Clan disturbed him. He knew it shouldn't after years of living with the Sakura Clan, but it did. Mikan was the next heir. A lot of rules were set up in order to train her efficiently and properly. Like all the previous heirs, Mikan has to be kept in isolation from the world while being trained in different fields, especially in education and ladyship. Only the head of family was allowed to decide when to send her to school. Mikan was already ten years old, and Sakurano believed she was more than ready to attend school.
After breakfast, Mikan and Sakurano walked hand-in-hand together along the main path where Sakura Trees were lined up to the entrance. The Sakura Land was located inside the school grounds of Alice Academy, a school for children with special powers. The place has numerous charms and spells on and around it that make it impossible for any non-Sakura family member to enter. The huge yet traditional Japanese mansion has extensive grounds with flowerbeds, ponds, a healing lake, and a large forest of Sakura Trees. There was also a ranch for animals. People, who are not members of the Sakura Clan, cannot use their powers within the vicinity, except when the head of the family lifts the enchantment. The Sakura Land was the most beautiful and safest place in Alice Academy.
Reaching the boundary line, Sakurano turned to Mikan and took her hand into his. "Thank you for accompanying me, Mikan-san," he said, placing a kiss on the back of her hand. "It's really a shame you cannot leave the Sakura Land. The head of the family is quite strict with you. Someday, I'm sure I'll be able to escort you to school."
"I'll be looking forward to that day," Mikan replied, flushing a little red. Sakurano was a complete gentleman. Any girl would want him for a boyfriend, she mused. "Have fun at school, Nii-san." He turned away then, glancing only briefly at her, and then walked slowly away. Mikan had wanted to see the world outside the Sakura Land, to walk to school with Sakurano, and to meet new friends. It would have been natural for her to make friends. She was quite the optimistic and sociable girl.
She decided to stopover at her favorite spot before heading back to the mansion. She had no lessons for the whole day, so she was free as a bird. Her favorite spot was located in the Flower Forest, a large forest to the west of the mansion. A lot of different species of flowers grew in the forest. The majority were Cherry Blossoms, Roses, Orange Blossoms, Carnations, Daffodils and Violets. The forest had many paths and clearings, and it was also home to an assortment of animals. When she arrived at her favorite spot, she took a moment to scan and appreciate her surroundings. The giant Sakura Tree in the middle of other trees was a sight to see. She sat down under it and leaned her back against the trunk. As usual, she would always feel relaxed sitting there.
"Hey, polka-dots…" sounded a rough, hard voice edged with coldness.
"I told you to stop calling me that, pervert," Mikan replied in an ominously cheerless tone. "I'm not even wearing that pattern today." She stood up from her position and permitted herself to turn around hastily. The same raven-haired boy stood a few feet from her.
His crimson eyes flicked over her. Worn soft brown hair was long and tempting to touch. She had an irritated look in her big amber eyes yet she still looked cute to him. His gaze secretly shifted to her mouth that looked supple and luscious and skin that was as smooth and flawless as fine porcelain. "I'll call you whatever I like," he said. Honestly, he was caught off guard again. He couldn't help it. Mikan happened to be the girl he secretly liked. He was very pleased to see her in a kimono, but he managed to keep a stoic face on despite the wholly unexpected flash of heat surging through him.
"When was the last time you called me by my first name?" She placed both hands on her waist. "Let me think… Oh, right, you never called me 'Mikan' once. Will it kill you to say my name?" Pure sarcasm was present in her voice.
Sighing in frustration, he took a lock of her hair and brought it to his lips. "If you want me to say your name, be my servant first," he said it with a straight face.
Puffing her cheeks, she rolled her eyes away and crossed her arms over her chest. "You're impossible, Natsume," she said. "I can't believe I chose a perverted jerk like you as a bodyguard."
"I find it hard to believe that my mistress is such a brat," Natsume said dispassionately, releasing her hair.
Mikan tried hard not to lose her head, but the mere sight of his mirthless and arrogant smirk impacted powerfully on her patience. Hyuuga Natsume was her bodyguard and best friend. The Hyuuga family had protected and served the Sakura family for many generations. She first met him when she was still very young. He was the complete opposite of her. Generally moody and quiet, Natsume was a stoic and cold individual with a sharp-tongue. Being rude and perverted to her was his way of showing his fondness to her, much to Mikan's dismay. Despite his negative traits, Mikan knew that Natsume was really a good person inside. "Hey, Natsume, what do you want to do today?" she asked. "It's a wonderful day, so I'm thinking of—"
"I'm not going to play childish games with you," Natsume said in a snidely tone. "I'm planning to spend my day quietly. I don't want any disturbances from you, polka-dots."
A vein popped out of her head. Natsume was really trying her patience. "Don't be such a killjoy, Natsume," she said, wrapping one arm around his. "You want to spend the day quietly? Geez, that's so boring. I have something good in mind, so come with me." She beamed a smile at him.
Her smile. He found it hard to resist every time he sees it. Her smile was heart-warming and beautiful. A smile from her was enough to complete his day. "Fine then…" he said, pretending to be uninterested. "This better be good, polka-dots." His name-calling annoyed Mikan again, so she whacked his head with her fist and called him a pervert again. He didn't mind it. He was pretty used to it already. They've been together for years and he was happy being with her all the time.
Alice Academy was a school for children gifted with special powers called Alice. The school was split into elementary, middle, and high school levels. As of now, there are more than 700 students currently enrolled. The school featured living quarters, three gyms, cafeterias, lavish libraries, and great educational facilities. While Alice Academy was a total institution, it was known to be a coeducational boarding school, taking children from ages three to eighteen. Alice Academy was placed in a sprawling estate as big as a small city. It was a self-contained campus in Tokyo, it having its own city, complete with banks, shopping arcades, and public utilities. The school was founded a hundred and fifty years ago by "two of the most powerful Alice in history": Ryuunosuke Sakura and Alice Sakura. The school and the gifted powers were named after Alice.
Although the school seemed like a paradise, strict rules have been enforced to the students. Undergraduate students were not allowed to see their families and relatives nor were they allowed to venture outside the campus. A life of an Alice student can be quite difficult, especially to children who are very attached to their family. However, writing of letters was allowed. The rules were there to ensure the safety of the students.
It was the first day of school at Alice Academy and everyone, including the faculty and staff, were gathered in the auditorium for the Welcoming Ceremony. Every year, the headmaster, three principals of the school, the president of the student council, and newly hired teachers would give speeches, which can range from boring to interesting.
"Oh, Sakurano-sama is positively gorgeous! And so dreamy!" a high school fan girl said in admiration. "He's truly my Prince Charming!"
"The Sakura Prince doesn't have a girlfriend yet, so we still have another chance this year," another fan girl said. Her eyes were burning with determination. "Handsome, talented, and a Special Star… It would be awesome to be his girlfriend. I bet he'll treat you like a princess. Ahhh… I can imagine…" She blushed furiously at her own imagination.
The new president of the student council, Sakurano Shuuichi had just given a speech in front of the students. His presence on stage was enough to make many girls giggle like crazy. He had been popular ever since he was an elementary student. When he was still in first grade, a young girl, who turned out to be an Otaku, fell in love with him at first sight and created a fan club for him. She called it the "Sakura no Ouji-sama Fan Club" (Prince Sakura Fan Club), because she described Sakurano as beautiful as Cherry Blossoms. The fan club was fiercely loyal to him. Until now, the fan club still existed and the girls were more resolute to win his love. Sakurano never considered the fan club as a nuisance, even though they give him such a hard time during Valentines Day and Christmas. And every month, two or three girls would confess their feelings to him. It was like a tradition. However, Sakurano never expressed any interest in fan girls.
A bespectacled high school student sighed at the sight of the deranged fan girls among the crowd. He had raven-hair and a pair of amethyst eyes, and he wore the same style of uniform as Sakurano. As the student president took a seat beside him, he commented about his speech being too formal and a little long. He also added that the girls were less interested in his speech and more interested in asking him out on a date. Sakurano only smiled back, making his frown deeper. "You're not the least bit annoyed by them, are you?" He adjusted his glasses as he turned to look at the crowd. "I guess I'll be expecting a lot of letters from your fans later."
"You'll be receiving letters too, Imai," Sakurano said. His bespectacled friend was vice-president of the student council, Imai Subaru. In contrast to him, Subaru was generally cold and serious. But Subaru was also an academic student and one of the most popular guys in school. "Don't pretend you don't have fans. Speaking of fans, I heard someone confessed to you yesterday."
"I rejected her," Subaru said. "I don't want to waste time with women." He has a big goal in life and that was to be a doctor.
"You're too uptight, Imai," Sakurano said. "By the way, we're going to have a new student in our class. He's quite intelligent and talented with his Alice, so he had been given the Triple Star rank right away."
"I see… If he's diligent enough, he'll be promoted to Special Star in no time."
A Star Ranking is the evaluation system the academy uses to judge a student's school work, Alice level and attitude. There are four rankings which are indicated by the number of gold stars on a student's collar. No-Star is for students who are below-average and this rank is mainly reserved for small children. Single Star students are pretty much average and most of the elementary students have this rank. Students who are more of an over-achiever than Singles are the Double Star students. Triple Star students tend to excel at either their studies or use of Alice or both. Signified by a lapel in the shape of a star enclosed in a circle, Special Star students are considered to be the best of the best and excel tremendously in their Alice and studies.
Special Star students have a different set of uniforms in order to denote their status in school. Their uniforms vary for each level. The standard color of uniform for all grade levels was black. Elementary students' uniform are composed of a black coat, a thin red ribbon, a collared white shirt (rectangular collar with square back for girls), and red shorts for boys or a plaid skirt for girls. The middle school and high school uniform were similar in designs. Inside students wore a white collared shirt and overlapped it with a black blazer which has linings on the collar. Plaid skirts were for girls and long pants were for boys. Middle school's color was blue and they wore thin ribbons similar to the elementary students, while the high school was golden brown and wore neckties. All males, except for elementary division, wore leather shoes. On the other hand, elementary students, female middle school and high school students wore knee-high black boots.
There was a special treat for the elementary students after the Welcoming Ceremony. They were going to have a field trip to the Sakura Land, with permission granted by the headmaster. The student council members and homeroom teachers of each class were assigned to watch over the students and make sure they won't get near the main mansion. The students were excited about their field trip. Who wouldn't be? The Sakura Land was home to one of the most influential family of Alice-users in Japan. When the elementary students were teleported to the land, Sakurano had insisted that he didn't want any trouble from them. He imposed certain rules on the do's and don'ts. He had also told them it was strictly forbidden to go anywhere near the main mansion. For a while the students questioned him about it. The only answer he could give them was, "The Sakura Princess lives there and she is not allowed to see anybody until the right time comes." It was the truth. As expected, the students were rather curious about the Sakura Princess. None of them had ever seen the girl in person, only in pictures and paintings.
The main mansion was located in the northern part of the Sakura Land. Greenhouses were located a few meters away from the mansion. There was a house for the maids and servants behind the mansion. The second and third mansions were in the east. Northeast of the land was where the grand hall stood, which was primary used for celebrations. The Flower Forest was in the west. A garden field was in the center and it was a place where parties can be held. To the south was the entrance and exit of the land.
Elementary Class 2B was at the greenhouses. Plant-loving students were totally psyched to see the different species of flowers all in one place. Several girls were even tempted to pluck flowers, but they were prohibited to do so. Some naughty boys were having fun playing and teasing with the talking flowers there.
"It's been my dream to visit the Sakura Land," a girl said, her eyes gleaming in amazement. "And I still can't believe we're actually here. I want to explore every inch of the land."
Another girl sighed absentmindedly as her eyes were fixed on someone. "I still can't believe we get a hot bishounen for a homeroom teacher."
The group of girls set their eyes on their homeroom teacher. He had soft shoulder-length blonde hair and a pair of amethyst eyes. He was clad in a simple white long-sleeved buttoned shirt and blue jeans. He was drop-dead gorgeous and his smile was purely irresistible. His name was Sakura Narumi and he was another distinguishable member of the Sakura Clan.
"Isn't Narumi-sensei fine?!" a purple-haired girl said, giggling like crazy. "He's a graduate of the academy. My aunt, who was in the same class as Narumi-sensei, told me that he's been a Special Star student since the fourth grade."
"Yeah, I heard about it from my older cousin too," a fair-haired girl added. "Narumi-sensei is not just the handsomest teacher in the elementary division. He's also the friendliest."
Narumi-sensei noticed the girls who were ogling him and smiled at them. They almost fainted as they saw his beaming smile. "My young students are so cute," he commented. A rabbit hopped on his foot, and Narumi knelt down to pat its head. "Hey there, little guy…" The rabbit was awfully familiar to him and he figured that it got separated from its owner. Scooping it up in his arms, he went to search to the owner.
When he couldn't find the owner inside the greenhouse, he approached his fan girls and asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me where Ruka-kun is?" The girls mildly blushed as they smiled at him. "You see, I have his rabbit here and I'm sure Ruka-kun is looking for it."
"If you're looking for Ruka-kun, feel free to ask me instead," a girl spoke from behind him. As Narumi turned around, the girl placed her hands on her hips and approached him. She had neck length green hair with permed locks framing her face and her sharp eyes were dyed in dark green color.
"Let's see… You're Shouda Sumire-san, right?" Narumi said.
Sumire giggled and placed a hand on her cheek. "I'm flattered that you know me, sensei," she said.
"I heard a lot of things about you, Shouda-san. You're the president of the Ruka-kun fan club, correct?"
"You are correct, sensei," she proudly said, tapping her chest. "I last saw Ruka-kun gazing at those flowers over there." She pointed at the talking daffodils and dancing daisies. "Then he went outside the minute he noticed that his rabbit was gone."
"I see… Then I better go check outside. Would you mind watching over your classmates for a while?"
Sumire didn't have to think twice. "Leave them to me!" The group of girls suddenly gasped in horror. "Do you have a problem with that?" she said, glaring dangerously at them. The girls swallowed hard and shook their heads violently. They knew it wasn't wise to provoke Sumire for she had quite the temper.
Narumi walked out of the greenhouse and found Ruka searching aimlessly for his rabbit under the cherry blossom tree. "Ruka-kun, I have something here that belongs to you," he said, and Ruka quickly turned his head at him. "Please don't lose sight of this little guy again, okay?"
Nogi Ruka sighed in relief. "Thanks for bringing him to me, sensei," he said, taking the rabbit into his arms. "I thought I'd really lost him."
The teacher ruffled his blonde locks. "Isn't this the second time you lost Pyon-pyon?" The rabbit's name was Pyon-pyon. "I remember seeing you looking for him at the elementary school garden yesterday. You better keep him on a leash."
"Sensei, he's not a dog," Ruka told him. "Plus, he likes to wander around in gardens." He leaned his back against the tree and looked at certain direction. His sapphire blue eyes softened at the sight of the highly structured mansion.
"Do you want to see her?"
Ruka lowered his gaze to the tips of his shoes. "Am I that obvious, sensei?" he asked.
"You last saw her during the Christmas Party here," Narumi said.
"And I miss her." Ruka patted the rabbit's head. "Sensei, how long does she have to stay isolated? Don't you think ten years is enough?"
Narumi raked his fingers through his hair. "We can't do anything about it. She's the heiress of the clan, so she must abide the rules. Only the headmaster is allowed to decide when to send her to school." He folded his arms in front of his chest. "For now, she's being homeschooled every five days of the week. I'm one of her teachers."
"You're lucky that you get to see her everyday," Ruka sadly said.
As the two blondes continued to talk, Sumire and her lackeys were hiding behind the bushes, spying. Ruka's fan club girls were very loyal and somewhat wild to the extent they would scare other admirers away. They've dedicated themselves to protect and worship Ruka as long as they lived. Sumire was the founder of the club and everyone in the fan club respected her.
"Narumi-sensei isn't the only fish in the bowl for our class," Sumire said, flipping her hair elegantly. "Ruka-kun is pretty wonderful too. His mother is an international model and his father is a well-respected veterinarian. He usually stays away from girls, but that's because he's shy. He's only in the fourth grade but he's dreamier than anything." She and the girls struggled for breath as they saw Ruka smiled enchantingly. One of them quickly took a picture of Ruka, and Sumire demanded for a copy later.
"That smile!!!" the girl beside Sumire squealed. "He looks so nice with that smile!"
Sumire automatically clamped the girl's mouth and shushed her. "Don't be so loud, idiot," she said. "Ruka-kun will not like it if he finds out we're spying on him."
"But it's such a treat for us to see Ruka-kun and Narumi-sensei together," another girl said. "Because of those two, I'm more motivated to come to class."
Crossing her arms, Sumire nodded in agreement. "Remember, girls, Ruka-kun is Triple Star student and one of the top students in class," she said. "We can't be negligent. It would be shameful to show our faces to Ruka-kun if we get bad grades."
"Easy for you to say, president… You're already a Double Star. Studying is a breeze for you."
Sumire let out an arrogant yet sinister laugh. "That's because I'm great," she boldly said. "It won't be long until I'm promoted to Triple Star." She let out another laugh, and the fan club girls only sighed at her.
Across the mansion's kitchen table, Natsume buttered himself to another warmed-over blueberry muffin. Then he went back to reading his manga. Mikan glanced at her own half-eaten muffin and pushed the plate away. "You're not going to finish that?" he said grudgingly. "Are you on a diet or something? You're usually a pig."
"I'm not on a diet," she snapped, half at Natsume's rotten attitude and half at the soreness of her legs. When the elementary students came for a field trip, Natsume immediately dragged her away to the mansion. She had a hard time keeping up with him because she was wearing a kimono. "I really wanted to meet those students. You could've at least introduced one of your classmates to me. " She flexed the muscles of her calves gingerly as she stood.
It was the first day of school, so he didn't bother to attend the ceremony or the field trip. "Maybe you'd like to be reminded of the rules again," he said, flipping to the next page. "Your grandfather won't be pleased if I'd let you meet other people."
"But I want to make new friends." Mikan pulled out a lemonade and pudding she'd made the night before. "For the record, I only made one friend who's not part of the Sakura and Hyuuga family. I'm sure he's around exploring the land."
Natsume shrugged. "Do I look like I care?"
She poured lemonade into the glass and set it on the table along with the pudding. "How can you be so indifferent all the time?" she said, taking a seat. "You should be livelier like me."
Natsume shot her an incredulous look. "No, thanks…"
Mikan eyed him a moment, then she took a sip of her lemonade. "Want to try my pudding?" she asked, scooping up some pudding with her dessert spoon. "I'm sure you'll smile after tasting it."
Hastily, Natsume grabbed her hand and shoved the dessert into his mouth. "It's horrible…" His comment made her pout irritably. Before she could retort, Natsume took the spoon and the pudding from her and began eating it. "Of course, what I just said was a lie."
"Jeez, you're always like this," Mikan said, puffing her cheeks. "You could have just said it's good in the first place."
"Whatever…" He took another bite. The pudding was exceptionally delicious. He wasn't into sweets that much, but he would gain a sweet tooth when it comes to Mikan's desserts.
"I'm glad you like the pudding. What kind of dessert do you want me to make next? I already baked you a peach pie the other day. Do you want me to make a strawberry dessert? I know you love strawberries."
Natsume was pleased, though his expression remained stoic. He felt like a husband getting pampered by a wife who was skilled in the kitchen. Mikan's desserts were the best and he was always happy to eat her treats. "Do what you want. Anything is fine with me."
"I'll try strawberry shortcake next!" she happily exclaimed. "And maybe you could grant me one wish in return."
Natsume lifted an eyebrow. He suddenly got a bad feeling. "And what would that be?"
"Please take me to elementary school building."
"Are you crazy?" Natsume felt his eyes widen despite his efforts to appear nonchalant. "Do I have to remind you of the rules?"
"I know all the rules," Mikan insisted. "It wouldn't hurt to break them once in a while. Besides, you took me out of the land before. You can do it again."
"Forget it. I don't want to trouble myself."
"Then I won't bake you a cake."
Mikan seriously wanted to visit the elementary school, so she decided to use her secret weapon. She took his hands into hers and said, "Natsume, please…" She brought her face near his, giving him the puppy-dog look. "Since I'm never free to do what I want, please grant me this wish. I want to see where you frequently spend your school days."
Damn, he can never resist her puppy-dog look. It was amazing she can put up a cute face whenever she wants something. "I want cake and the latest volume of 'Nabari no Ou' manga by next week." He had no choice but to submit to her demand. "Make sure you'll follow my instructions and don't do anything to draw people's attention. Do I make myself clear, polka-dots?"
"Thank you very much!" She hugged Natsume with all her might that she almost choked him. "Don't worry, Natsume, I won't cause you any trouble. I promise to behave."
Somehow he doubted it. "You'll need a disguise. Even though you have not made a public appearance yet, you're quite famous already," he explained. "People will recognize you at first sight."
"I have a wig in my room."
"Before anything else, you have to ask permission from that Naru." There was sharpness in his tone. "If we run into trouble, at least we know he's there to help out."
Mikan clapped her hands twice to praise Natsume. "You always think ahead. But I never expected you to suggest Narumi-sensei."
"Who do you want me to suggest—the lightning freak or that Persona?"
"Narumi-sensei is fine."
Just then, Natsume's earring glowed and blinked several times. It was an indication that Natsume was being summoned by the head of the Hyuuga Family. He gave Mikan a serious look, mentally asking to be excused. Mikan understood he had to go, so she simply smiled and told him to meet her back by lunch time. Afterwards, Natsume rushed to the main entrance and touched the painting of a mansion on the wall. The painting instantly engulfed him in a white light. In a matter of seconds he disappeared from sight. The painting was a teleporting tool used by the Sakura Clan in order to reach the Hyuuga mansion in a snap.
Appearing before the third mansion, Natsume psychologically prepared himself. As he went inside the mansion, he immediately proceeded to the main hall. The famed bespectacled leader of the Hyuuga Clan, Hyuuga Mihara, was sitting comfortably on his knees, drinking a cup of Japanese herbal tea. His slick black hair complimented his eyes well. To show respect, Natsume knelt down and bowed like a servant before him. He stayed in that position until the head called out his name. He raised his head only to see cold eyes staring at him. He also felt an ominous aura around him.
"Until now, I still find it hard to believe that you're the princess's personal bodyguard," he said, his sharp eyes narrowing at him. "I'm sure you're wondering why I called you here."
"Yes, sir," Natsume said. It wasn't his style to be polite to anyone, but the leader was a fearsome man. It wouldn't be wise to get on his bad side.
"I had a little talk with Headmaster Sakura earlier this morning," he said, setting his cup on the tatami floor. "And he informed me that the little princess will be attending school two days from now."
Natsume wanted to smile. However, showing a delighted expression would surely annoy the leader, so he maintained an icy look.
"As her bodyguard, it's your job to protect her at all times. Although I don't have high hopes for you, I'm counting on you not to disgrace the family name. If anything happens to the princess, I'll make sure to punish you severely." He adjusted his glasses before continuing. "Use your Alice to defend her if necessary. I don't care if your Alice diminishes your life. Honestly, I wish you would die already. I know the curse will eventually take away your life, but it's taking so long."
The curse was inevitable, and Natsume was bearing the full force of the curse. Ever since he was young, he had been informed that he will die at a young age. His family held bitterness against him. However, Natsume has no grudge against them.
"You seem to be thinking deeply, Natsume," the man said. "Are you anxious to return to the princess's side? Hmph… Let me remind you that a Hyuuga is not allowed to love a Sakura. You must only maintain a platonic relationship or else the curse will take away her life as well."
Of course, Natsume knew all of that. It was a painful fact he must bear. Because of the curse, he can never express his true feelings to Mikan. "I understand," Natsume replied his leader, bowing once again.
At her room, Mikan had already put on her long blonde wig. She doesn't own a uniform, so she decided to dress in a white-blue sailor school uniform she got as a present from Narumi-sensei. He intended to let her wear that for Cosplay purposes. Ready and excited, she ran down the stairs and walked up to the back exit, where Natsume was waiting. She tugged eagerly at his arm, her eyes beaming with innocent joy. It was going to be exhilarating, Mikan though as she pulled Natsume out of the house. She was going to explore the elementary school building for the first time.
Secretly making their way to the exit, Mikan noticed the grumpy look on Natsume's face. "Hey, is something bothering you?" she asked. "Don't tell me you're not willing to take me?"
"It's not that," Natsume replied tightly, slipping his hands into his pockets. Mikan wasn't his problem. It was what the leader said. Of course, he was quite happy that Mikan will finally be attending school with him. But the curse of both families disturbed him greatly. He could never reveal his feelings for Mikan because of the stupid curse.
"By the way, how is Mihara-san doing?" she said, skipping along as she kept moving. "I haven't seen him for a while. I know he's been busy lately."
The mere mention of Mihara's name made his frown deeper. "He's doing fine as usual." He didn't want to continue talking about Mihara, so he quickly said, "Are you sure you want to walk all the way to the exit? We could've used the horses or our bikes."
Mikan hopped forward and turned around to face Natsume. "Walking is good exercise, so I don't mind," she cheerfully said. "Now come on!" She spun around and began prancing.
Her being enthusiastic about something was nothing new to Natsume. He was used to her positive and happy-go-lucky attitude. He wondered how Mikan would react to his classmates. He never ever talks about his class to Mikan. And truth to be known, none of them was very close to him, except for one person.
They've managed to sneak into the elementary building without being spotted. The two of them had to go their separate ways in order not to rouse suspicion. Natsume was a little reluctant to let her wander around all by herself, but Mikan assured him that she won't get into any trouble. Although he doubted her, he had no choice but to let her be. But he instructed her on several things; including the time and place they were going to meet back again.
Mikan decided that it would be difficult to determine which class Natsume belonged. Natsume wouldn't tell her, so she had to ask someone else. She spotted a two boys talking from a distance and rushed up to them. Giving her best smile, she asked, "Excuse me, do you know where Class 2B's classroom is?" The moment the boys looked at her their eyes turned into bright pink hearts. Even though she was wearing a disguise, her beauty still stood out. "Um…Do you know where it is?" she repeated her question, oblivious to the admiration she was getting.
"Sure! It's just around that corner," one boy pointed a finger at a direction. "By the way, miss, are you new around here? Your uniform is different."
"I think this is the first time we've seen you," the other one spoke.
Mikan let out a nervous chuckle. "Um… That's right. I-I just transferred in. The teachers didn't give me the standard uniform yet." Natsume's first rule was to never reveal her true identity to others. "Thanks for telling me where the classroom is. I have to go now. Bye!" Natsume's second rule was to never linger in one place with people for too long. It was such a shame she couldn't make friends with the two boys, but she didn't want to get scolded by Natsume later. She walked off in a hurry and headed towards Class 2B.
She approached the classroom door cautiously. No other students were around in the hallways. She kept her chin up as she reached for the door handle. And as she opened the door, a bleached blonde boy bumped into her, propelling her to the floor. He was holding his head with two hands and had a pained expression on his face. He didn't bother to help her up or apologize and simply ran away. Another boy ran out and followed the first boy. Mikan had a big question hanging above her head. What was wrong with them?
Seeing other students stick their heads out, Mikan scrambled back to their feet and bowed her head. "Hello there!" she greeted. "I'm a new student here. My name is—"
Mikan raised her head. "Huh?"
Sumire stepped out of the crowd and practically shoved her face towards the brunette in order to get a close look. "This is unbelievable!" She grabbed Mikan's wrist and faced her classmates. "Everyone, there's no doubt that this girl is the real Sakura Princess!"
"Eh?!!!" Mikan shook her head vigorously and backed away from Sumire. "You're mistaken. I'm not the princess. I'm just a new student. Look, I have blonde hair. The princess has brown hair." She pointed finger at her head.
A blonde boy wearing glasses picked up a blonde wig from the floor and showed it to Mikan. "I believe this is your blonde hair," he said with a nice smile.
Mikan sweat-dropped. "Uh-oh…I'm busted…" she muttered.
"Well, even with that disguise on, you can't fool my eyes!" Sumire declared, crossing her arms. "You are definitely Sakura Mikan, the treasure of the Sakura Clan!"
With that, the members of the Ruka fan club ushered Mikan into the classroom and everyone gathered around her like a pack of hungry wolves. Friendly and sociable students in class introduced her around. To her surprise, everyone was warmly welcoming. She was handed a cup of orange juice and chocolate chip cookies by a pink-haired girl. As she enjoyed the snack, the same boy with glasses made a speech about how honored they were to finally meet her in person.
"Ruka-kun's here!" a fan girl uttered excitedly. "Ruka-kun has been spotted by the door!"
Mikan came to attention. The name was familiar to her. There was an undercurrent of voices, some snickers, some sidelong glances at Mikan.
"Ruka-kun, the Sakura Princess paid us a visit!" called one of the fan girls in a singsong voice. "Can you believe it?"
Mikan set the cup down on the corner of the desk and permitted herself to turn around slowly. Nogi Ruka stood a few feet away from her. "Ruka-pyon?" she muttered.
His eyes grew wide in surprise. "S-Sakura…" he said in a low voice.
Ruka and Mikan stared at each other for a long while, finding it hard to believe what was in front of their eyes. "It is you!" Mikan was the first break the silence. She ran up to him and hugged him. "This is too good to be true. I didn't know you were in this class."
The fan girls were appalled. Their object of admiration got suddenly hugged by a high-class princess. The kind ones were obviously thrilled, but the snobby ones were turning green.
Flushing red, Ruka eased away and clamped his hands on her shoulders. "Sakura, it's great to see you again," he said, smiling tenderly. "Why are you here? I thought you weren't allowed to come here."
Mikan couldn't possibly tell him that it was her decision to visit the elementary building. It would cause a ruckus. "I have my ways," she answered.
"Have you two met before?" Sumire asked with a forced, fixed smile.
"Yes." Mikan returned her smile. "I first met him two years ago. Ruka-pyon is a very good friend of mine."
Sumire pouted cutely at Ruka. "How come you never told me, Ruka-kun?" she asked. "Being friends with the Sakura Princess is a great thing. Why didn't you brag about it?"
But Ruka was not arrogant and the talkative type. In addition to that, he didn't want his classmates to bother him with questions about Mikan. "I'm sorry…" he belatedly replied. "It slipped out of my mind."
"Hey, Nogi, you're one lucky guy!" a boy from the crowd shouted. "You've been friends with the princess all this time and you didn't tell us. Are you trying to keep her all to yourself? I'm sure you got the hots for her."
Ruka blushed. Someone actually dared to say such things, and he felt the hot color deepen. He silently cursed his fair coloring for revealing just when he most wanted to appear cool and composed in front of Mikan.
Sumire whacked the boy and shot him a glare. "How dare you talk that way to Ruka-kun?!" she said. She seemed to tower over the boy. "Show some respect! You're within the presence of the princess."
"No, it's all right," Mikan said, feeling rather sorry for the boy. "Ruka-pyon and I don't mind. Um…if it's all right, I would like everyone to address me by my name. Princess is only my given title and way too formal. Besides, all of you are around my age, right?"
"Are you sure about that, princess?" the bespectacled boy asked in behalf of the class. "We were told to address every member of the Sakura Clan with utmost respect."
Mikan patted his shoulder. "I may be the heiress of the clan, but I'm still a kid just like you guys," she explained. "My status doesn't make me special. People are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference. Jii-chan told me that."
There were whispers among the audience. "She's totally right," someone muttered. "We should give in to her request."
"No one is allowed to call her by name," a rough and hard voice spoke.
All eyes shifted to the newcomer by the door. It was Hyuuga Natsume in the flesh. Most of the students suddenly felt shivers running down their spine. Sumire and a hairless boy narrowed their eyes at Natsume. They were the only ones who were not afraid. Mikan felt a lump in her throat as she noticed how Natsume stared at her. She knew she was going to get scolded again.
To be continued…
JC: Where did the curse originated and how does it affect the victims? I'm sure you guys are wondering about that. You'll find out later on. I've introduced a lot of characters here. It was necessary to start off the chapter. I've also hinted about the curse. I tell you that Natsume isn't the only one with the curse. A member of the Sakura Clan has it as well. Care to guess? That's all for now. Please leave some feedback. No flaming.
Next Chapter: "Noroi no Shounen" (Cursed Boy)
Additional Note: The Shoujo Manga Character Popularity Contest Round 2 is up and running. Your favorite characters are waiting for your votes. Please support them. Mikan Sakura won bracket A in the first round, getting 321 Votes, while the others in the same bracket didn't get above 100. Vote for Mikan-chan in round 2. The link is in my profile.