"Astraea Hill?" Our protagonist asked, looking through a packet of documents pertaining to the school. "Are you sure I should be transferring to another private school? This one seems too…prestigious. I'd rather not have to deal with that awkward sense of déjà vu."
"Nonsense! Only the best for my lovely granddaughter." Her grandfather, Ryoji Aoi, laughed heartily as he gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. The man had just recently passed seventy years of age, but he was still bursting with so much excess energy that you could swear he was still a teenager. That is if you can ignore the gray beard and receding hairline, of course.
"Do I really belong there? I already feel out of place just by returning to Japan after so long. I really don't think I belong in that kind of place." She couldn't help letting out a sigh before a mischievous grin tugged on her lips. "I bet your wallet isn't so happy about this decision." She tried to lighten the mood, more for her own sake rather than for his.
Ryoji let out a merry laugh, apparently unaware of his granddaughter's discomfort. "When my wallet finally grows a mouth to voice its own opinion, then I'll worry about what it thinks of my spending habits!" If there was one thing she always loved about her grandfather, it was that he could be so lighthearted about most situations. That very thing she liked about him also unnerved her due to his complete lack of tact in that same situation. "A private all-girls school back in Japan is the best chance for you to overcome last year's incident." He spoke in a lighter tone than he had intended, causing her to visibly cringe. He didn't need to see her eyes to notice the pain on her face.
"Gramps…" She pulled her arms into a defensive position, bringing her balled left fist over her heart while her right hand wrapped around her left wrist. She stared down at the documents on her lap, but not actually looking at them anymore.
"Ah. Sorry about that." He spoke in a more serious tone now. "Still, I believe this is a good opportunity to surround yourself with new people and move on with your life. I know it's hard considering everything you went through, but I believe it's the right step to recovery. I miss the little Nagisa-chan that was bursting with enough energy to give even me a run for my money."
She nodded her head and couldn't help the smile that appeared on her face. She knew his argument had some sort of logic behind it and she missed being able to smile while being surrounded by friends, instead of putting on staged smiles to appease strangers. He was also paying for everything so there wasn't much room for a counter-argument. "I know. Thank you."
"Of course." His serious expression lightened up and he smirked. "Now go pack your things. You'll transfer in Monday to meet with Sister Mizue." He shooed her up to her room and she complied halfheartedly.
Prologue: The Transfer
Meet our protagonist, Nagisa Aoi. Well, Aoi Nagisa now that she's back in Japan. When she was six years old, her parents were killed in a car accident that should have claimed her life as well. The only relative she had left that was willing to take her in was her grandfather, Ryoji. Due to Ryoji's work being located overseas, Nagisa had no choice but to move to America to live with her grandfather. Ten years later, circumstances forced Nagisa to drop out of school and disappear from the public eye. Trying to help her get her life back on track, Ryoji brought Nagisa back to Japan to try and drive away her memories of what happened back in the United States.
An exaggerated sigh escaped Nagisa's lips as she studied the poorly drawn map. "Seriously, gramps? Couldn't you have just given me mapquest directions or something? I love you and all, but your drawings are just so horrible that they're well… worse than mine." She mumbled for the umpteenth time as she rounded a corner. "Let's see… it should be straight ahead." She looked up from the map. "Ah! There it is! Astraea Hill! Just at the top of that hill… surrounded by a forest…" She stared blankly at the hill for a moment, and then panicked as realization dawned on her. "Seriously? Who builds a school in the middle of a forest? Oh, damn it. I'm going to be so late!" She pocketed the map in her bag and began her frantic sprint towards the school, screaming obscenities in her head. Why did I reject his offer to drive me to school? I'm such an idiot!
Nagisa slowed to a stop as she reached the top of the hill, resting her hands on her knees to catch her breath. "I can't remember the last time I ran that fast. I'm out of shape." She lifted her head slightly to look down the road before her as she recovered. The path was bordered by sakura trees on both sides with the wind blowing the pink petals through the air all around her. Nagisa grabbed one that landed on her shoulder and studied it for a moment. "I think I've seen this in anime before - sakura trees lining the path to school. Just what you'd expect from such a high class private school, I guess." I should probably stop vocalizing my thoughts before people start to think I'm some crazy girl that talks to herself. I'm clearly just some crazy girl with an obsession for internal monologue.
She turned the focus of her attention onto the students that were walking down the path ahead of her. They all look so casual, but at the same time they look so… dignified? It must be the school's uniforms. Why are there three different ones? She observed the students with a ponderous look, trying to jog her memory about something in the documents that related to it. Think, think, think. She rubbed her temples in a circular motion in a pointless attempt to remember. Oh yeah! Well, what do you know? It worked. Astraea Hill is divided into three different schools. I think I'm transferring into... what was it called? Matcher? Matador? Mitsuhide? No wait, it was Miator. I really hope Miator gets the black uniforms. I hate wearing short skirts.
Nagisa casually strolled down the road as she continued to glance around at the students. She was no longer in a rush, believing that she clearly wasn't running late if the other students were not in a hurry. As she looked around, she couldn't help but notice that the other students were taking notice of her, giving her confused and skeptical looks while whispering to each other. She could feel a nervous panic start to set in. She gripped the strap of her bag tightly and took a deep breath.
Calm down. It's just because you're the new girl. You only stand out because of your clothes. They don't know anything else about you. She told herself repeatedly, forcing her stress level to drop a few notches. Nagisa has not received her new uniform yet. Due to being in the United States until now, where the schools did not have uniforms, she had no choice but wear casual street clothing. I probably could have worn some elegant dress or something, and I kind of wish I did. She was currently dressed in a pair of faded jeans, a blue t-shirt with the word "MEH" written across the chest in white, a pair of black sneakers, a pair of sunglasses, and a pair of black wristbands. Her strawberry hair, which she usually tied back, was combed down lazily. Nagisa didn't waste much time on it this morning in fear of being late. I don't give off a very dignified vibe, do I?
Nagisa continued down the path after her panic had subsided. She stopped when she noticed that the path suddenly turned. She looked down past the trees and noticed that it was a rather steep hill. They should put a fence or something here. Someone could totally be in a rush, trip, and roll down this hill if they didn't stop in time. Nah. This is a very prestigious school. I doubt they'd let in someone who was stupid enough to do that. She sighed and looked back at the students before continuing along the path. Still, it really makes me feel like a commoner in the midst of high class society.
At the entrance of the school, she saw a woman with short blue hair looking at her watch as if she was waiting for someone. As she approached the gates, she could hear several students greet her with "Good morning" and "Good day, Rokujo-senpai." Rokujo? I think that's who I'm supposed to meet. She's the student council president of Miator, according to gramps. The student council was one of those things about Japan that she just didn't understand. Are the schools so underfunded that they had to get their own students to run things because the staff couldn't? She stopped walking and ended that train of thought before making herself known to the president too soon. She couldn't help but observe her for a moment. She seems like a pretty stiff person. Oh well, she's part of Miator and she's wearing the black uniform. Score!
Nagisa took a deep breath and put on her best salesman smile. One thing her grandfather always taught her was that appearances were important. It seemed like a futile and pointless effort considering how casually she was dressed, but she couldn't really be blamed for that, could she? I'm sure I could be. I would blame me and I'm supposed to be on my side. Nagisa shrugged the thought off. It'll be fine if I at least speak like I belong here...probably. It was also a good defense mechanism to prevent people from knowing what she was actually thinking, for better or worse. "Good morning, Rokujo-senpai." Nagisa greeted in a calm yet confident tone.
"Yes, good morning." She greeted, still looking at her watch. Her eyebrows suddenly rose as she realized she didn't recognize the voice that greeted her. Nagisa made sure not to laugh at the humorous sight as the president turned to face her. "Ah, sorry. You must be Aoi Nagisa, correct?"
"What gave me away?" Nagisa asked in an innocent tone.
"Probably the jeans." Rokujo answered in a surprisingly casual tone.
Guess she isn't as stiff as I pictured. She must have just had something else on her mind. Nagisa pondered as she let out a little chuckle. "Thank goodness. I was worried it was the shirt. Yes, I'm Aoi Nagisa. Pleasure to meet you."
"As you've already figured out, I am Rokujo Miyuki, student council president of Miator." She replied in a somewhat more stiff tone. Nagisa figured it was likely due to the president having to introduce herself to multiple people over time that she just got tired of it. It wasn't like Nagisa minded anyway. She was more glad that Miyuki didn't say anything negative about how she was dressed. What was even better than that was that she apparently wasn't late. "You're late." Damn it! "Well, it doesn't really matter too much. I am here to take you to meet with the Head Sister." Miyuki turned around after Nagisa nodded and led the transfer student into the school.
Aoi Nagisa's new school year starts now!