Chapter 1

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Convincing her parents was not a difficult job. They gave her a few conditions before allowing her to buy her own residence in Kyoto, however. No tarnishing their name. Excel in academics. Keep up with company work they assigned her. She had never broken those rules before, so she didn't worry. Slipping on her new dark blue button up and black skirt, she purchased herself a bento from the conveniece store before walking to school. She never expected the bento the be so cheap, especially for the quality of the box, which was pastel pink painted with sakura trees. All for the cheap price of 4000 yen. 

Getting there was a breeze since it was only a few blocks away. The cherry blossoms already bloomed, and the petals adorned the footpath. Upon reaching the main entrance, she admired the extravagant buildings even though she expected nothing less from the prestigious school. With it being the first day, there were plenty of students already there, waving their goodbyes to their parents and there was a lot of chatter.

Despite her nervousness, she followed the makeshift signs with her head up to the assembly hall.  To her parents and her own expectations, she had scored the highest score in the entrance exam, along with another male student. Scoring the highest meant that she had to make a speech addressing the school about her goals, aspirations and hopes in her Rakuzan years.

Her goals? Do the best and graduate. Her aspirations? That didn't matter because she would be taking over her parents' business. Her hopes? Make friends and be happy. Not that she would say that. She would say self improvement both acaemically and character wise.

At 8:00am, the assembly hall was packed with all first year students and a rather baldheaded man walked onto the stage. Since the school had quite a large population, the three years would have three different assemblies.

"Good morning, first years. I am principal Kozone Eimaru. It is a true pleasure for me to welcome you to Rakuzan High School where you will be spending your next three years. Firstly..."

Airi had to admit that she spaced out, only remembering bits of her new principal's speech.

"...this year, we have had two students achieve perfect scores in our entrance exam. I would first like to invite Yunabami Airi to the stage to give a short speech."

At the mention of Yunabami, the entire room seemed to fill with whispers and murmurs which did not go unnoticed by the aforementioned girl. Standing up from her front row seat, she walked up the steps with the feeling of an ocean of eyes on her.

As promised, half of her speech was bullshit. After her short oration, she returned to her seat.

"Now I would like to welcome Akashi Seijuro to the stage."

Power. Power. Power.

Everything about this boy screamed power. Airi's disinterest in the ceremonial speeches was erased as she stared at Akashi Seijuro. She hadn't noticed him before the beginning of the ceremony since he sat at the other end of the first row.

From his perfect posture, to his emotionless face, everything about him was strikingly perfect. Airi couldn't tear her gaze away from him as he stood on the wooden stage. 

"Good morning principal Kozone, teachers, and fellow peers. It gives me immense pleasure to start this year by sharing my aspirations in this prestigious school."

Airi was certainly not paying attention to what he was saying. She knew that despite his seemingly warm smile, his pretty words were a mere falsehood. However, she was absolutely enchanted. His red hair and heterochromatic orbs were conspicuous to her gaze. Despite his charming looks, she could sense hidden incitement from the way his eyes flickered with an unidentified emotion. She couldn't figure him out, despite spending her whole life observing in silence.

All she knew was that he was confident, authoritative, rich, slightly arrogant, and most prominently, handsome.

What adjourned her observations was his gold and red eyes locking on to her sakura coloured ones. When they did, her ability to breathe suddenly disappeared, along with her ability to think. He stared at her the way she stared at him, still giving his speech without fault or pause.

What interrupted them was the sound of thunderous applause. Immediately, Airi looked away, red hues already on her pale cheeks.

After that, Airi knew for a fact that was not the last she would see of Akashi Seijuro.

~

"Akashi Seijuro, class 1-A."
"Yunabami Airi, class 1-A"

Of course, she expected both of them to be in the top class. After all, they had both scored the highest in the entrance exam. Luckily, their assigned seats were the opposite corners of the class because of their names alphabetically. Airi let go of a breath she didn't know she was holding.

Only for her to perish anyway.

"Yoshida-sensei. I need to sit at the front. I cannot see from the back row."

The way he didn't ask for permission unnerved her. It was their first day and she thought that nobody would be so shameless as to tell the teacher to do something. Yoshida-sensei was taken aback too, but quickly composed himself.

"Right. Mizuhara, please swap with Akashi."

Airi tensed when the girl, Mizuhara, stood up from the seat next to her and walked past out of her peripheral vision. A moment later, the redhead sat down in the adjacent seat.

Without even looking at him, she knew his gaze was on her. She was lost on what to do, whether to ask him what he wanted or ignore him. She chose the latter. Airi came to Rakuzan High School with a simple mantra, with simple instruction given by her parents.

Do your best. Be the best. Live the life that has been laid out for you. You will prosper like the rest of the Momobami Clan.

Even without uttering a single word to her, she knew that Akashi Seijuro was about to turn her peaceful plan into dust and first session hadn't even begun.

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