This revolting date marked the end of the summer vacation for many schools across the country, it was the same for our school as well. The holidays coming to an end was something inevitable, but even so, it couldn’t help but leave a bitter taste in my mouth as I kissed goodbye to the bed I had come to be besties with over the past month or so.
The optimistic ones would say that today was the day of new beginnings. Hoping that the wheel of fate would spin and grant them the opportunity to encounter things that would enhance their school experience. Maybe even a certain someone that would add a tinge of sweetness and warmth to their caffeine and stress-filled high school lives. However, for a vast majority of the students, myself included, the feelings were in complete contrast and then some.
That said, unlike the extremely unlucky ones, not all of it was dark and gloomy for me, as I too had a certain someone… A special existence that made me check myself twice in front of the mirror before leaving my house. It was the sole thought of seeing him that made me crawl out of the bed, a fact that I could never admit in front of my friends, not even the ones who are already aware of these budding feelings of mine, and support me in making these feelings come to fruition.
I can still recall the last time I had come across him quite vividly. It was during the closing ceremony after the first term had come to a fulfilling end. He was donned in the traditional summer uniform for boys, consisting of a white half-sleeved shirt, pants that were a dark shade of brown that made them look indiscernible from black, and a black necktie that went perfectly with the uniform. ‘It is the same attire worn by literally all of the boys in our school!’, I could hear a voice retorting to the state of trance I was in after looking at his dazzling side profile as he mingled amongst his classmates. Do I care about this obstructive voice known as logical reasoning screaming from the back of my head? The answer would be a big fat no!
Kawashima Takumi, or just Takumi, was assigned to Class '1-E', while I was to spend my freshman year in Class '1-A'. According to the teachers, the students were randomized using a simple randomizer application with no relation whatsoever to grades and such, but one would never know what goes on behind the scenes. There were some rumors that the ones with the best scores in the entrance exam were put together, but there was no proof as the scores were never disclosed by the school.
That said, I was inclined to believe that we were assigned our classes based on a shuffling application like the school claimed instead of manual sorting because of the sheer number of students in our year.
Haru High School might sound like a plain school with its rather simple name, but it is anything but that. Our school is a behemoth of a facility that hosts about 1500 students simultaneously along with numerous teachers, staff members, and workers that undertake other domestic tasks.
Our school has three main campus buildings used by 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students, and these buildings are surrounded by various other facilities such as swimming pools, basketball courts, soccer fields, etcetera. Each year has its own exclusive facilities, even the 12th-grade students get the same facilities as their juniors, even though they don’t have the time to focus on sports and such in light of their college entrance exams.
The three classes hold 500 students respectively, which are separated into ten sections namely A to J, every section consisting of 50 students each. One could imagine the chaos and noise so many people would cause, especially children, but the atmosphere is surprisingly peaceful. The reason being the sheer size of our school where one would find it hard to feel congested even with so many people roaming the corridors daily.
I just hope that I am somehow able to share classes with Takumi next year, but the probability is looking rather bleak with only a one-in-ten chance of my wish being fulfilled. But a maiden can dream, can she not? However, it does irk me that my rival in love is in the same class as Takumi, while I barely get to see him.
Takumi is an above-average student overall, whether it comes to sports or academics, which is quite impressive considering the competition in our school. In the first term finals, he managed to snag a comfortable 125th rank out of 500 students. Our school is a pretty prestigious one where the children of many wealthy families compete for the top, and in such a competitive environment, getting 125th rank is still regarded as quite extravagant.
Takumi has darkish-brown hair that is a bit on the short side, and I can tell that he takes care of his hair as they never seem rough or disheveled, not even while playing sports. And although he isn’t excessively handsome, he isn’t too unnoticeable either. Like his hair, his eyes and eyebrows are a shade of brown as well. He has a rather sharp face structure though, which I think goes perfectly with the calm and tranquil air that always surrounds him. I could count on one hand the number of times I have seen him show emotions on his face. And while I don’t think that’s a good thing since I turn into a nervous mess when conversing with him, it gives him an enigmatic charm that most people might ignore at first glance, but it surfaces when you associate with him regularly.
I can still remember the moment I fell for him, and my feelings have only grown stronger throughout summer vacation… I just can’t wait to meet him!
However, I have to make sure that I don’t mess up like the first time we crossed paths. Oh god, that was horrible, I sometimes find myself cursing at myself from the past for the bad first impression I gave him of me even now.
Our first encounter…
I remember what happened quite vividly like it was yesterday… It was the end of April, a relatively quiet and relaxed morning. The wind was comfortably warm and felt amazing as it blew against my cold cheeks. I was being gawked at by guys who walked past me, their eyes filled with part awe and part admiration, however, I could discern the concealed lust in their visage. I was quite used to these eyes, so I merely ignored them and proceeded towards my class unhindered. A sense of relief washed over me as the door of my class came into view. My class was a haven for me amid those perverted stares, and while the boys of my class were no better, at the very least I had my friends to provide me with a sense of security.
My class was just around the corner from the staircase that led to the second floor, so the unintentional collisions between people descending from the second floor and my classmates exiting the class were very common and always a cause for amusement amongst the observing crowd. The times when students of opposite genders collided were few and far between, but the guys never failed to make a ruckus and try to embarrass the innocent duo when it happened, and although silly, I can’t say that I have never laughed at such a sight.
As I shortened the distance between the classroom and myself, all of my concentration was gathered at the signboard above the door that read Class 1-A, indicating that it was indeed my class.
I was walking absentmindedly while ignoring anything and everything around me, to the point where I even tuned out all the sounds and fell into a state of half-trance. I was subconsciously clutching the soft straps of my backpack resting on my shoulders, my mind devoid of any conscious thought.
As I was about to pass the staircase and enter my classroom, I felt a slight impact from my front and was sent tumbling down on the ground. Usually, even someone as unathletic as me would be able to just shrug off this weak of a crash and remain standing, but because of the state I was in, I felt the hard floor meet my butt before I was even able to register what had occurred.
I was snapped out of my reverie by a throbbing pain coming from my ankle, it was just so sudden and agonizing that I couldn’t but gasp in pain. I was far from composed and was just about to scream, but I was stopped just in time by an angel clad in human clothing, Takumi. Now that I think about it, he saved me from quite a bit of embarrassment, did he not? Or I am sure I would be a screaming mess if he had spoken up even a second later.
“Hey, are you okay?”
The calm and steady voice that penetrated my ears was that of a male, and that was all I could gather with my eyes closed in pain. After the sharp sense of immediate pain passed, leaving only a throbbing sensation that I could probably handle without crying, I was finally able to regain my composure and open my eyes.
And there he was, as calm as can be. He looked down at me, and although his overall visage was quite composed, I could see a slight frown covering his forehead as he observed the scene that our situation had created. My attention was focused on him, but I could hear the loud commotion behind me, sounds of people whispering and shuffling filled the wide corridor.
"U-umm, I am alr-”
I was about to say that I was fine and planned to rush into my class to escape the embarrassment, but something came over me as I looked into his eyes. I stopped myself mid-sentence, my mind working in overdrive, thinking about what to say that would make him stay.
Now, here’s the thing. Although I’ve stopped caring much ever since I developed a crush on Takumi, I was excessively self-conscious back then, to the point that I had stopped going out without covering every inch of myself, not showing even the slightest bit of skin. However! My behavior was not unwarranted in the least, on the contrary, my friends always placated me by saying that it was the men’s fault. What was I supposed to do when men directed their lust-filled eyes at my innocent self?
It was during the summer vacation in the second year of middle school when it all changed for me. As if magic, all of the baby fat disappeared from my face, sharpening my facial features and taking the beauty I had inherited from my mother to a whole new level. My body matured at a rapid pace as well, too rapid some might say. It was scary how the eyes directed at me took one-eighty. Even my cousins began to view me differently, and I could tell that I wasn’t considered a small little girl anymore. It was as if I was someone else. The clothes I loved so much had to be discarded since they began tightening around my chest and hips. The prices of my clothes, underwear, healthcare products, etcetera, skyrocketed, reminding me again that things had changed.
I had to follow these rules and social norms that I hadn’t even heard of before. The do’s and don’ts of a woman, as my mother liked to put it. I was made aware of the consequences of each of my actions and how society would judge me for them. In all honesty, it just felt like no matter what a woman does, society judges them, even other women going through the same thing judge you. It made me sick.
After the break ended, I was a prime target for confessions, gifts, and some part bullying. Whenever I would approach a boy, the 14 or 15-year-old lads would turn into a panicking mess, and it had become the norm for me ever since, so I had limited my interaction with the opposite sex to avoid such scenarios.
Except for my father and brother, I hadn’t encountered many men that could look me in the eyes without an ulterior motive staining their pupils. And with all the men that have approached me over the years, I can say that I am a certified intention checker and can tell a person’s thoughts by looking at their eyes and their behavior. Though I don’t use this skill frequently now since I have stopped caring about all men except Takumi. Why look at coal when you have a diamond.
Anyways, back to the reminiscence. Yep, there he was, as calm as could be. I looked into his eyes, and all I could see was part annoyance, part indifference, and part concern. Former two being in majority, and I could tell that the concern in his eyes would vanish the moment I confirmed that I was fine. As such…
“My ankle… I think I twisted it.”
I said as I pointed towards the ankle of my right foot, my eyes not leaving his even for a second. The prejudice against men was so ingrained in my mind that I couldn’t help but look at him the same way, already expecting his calm facade to shatter momentarily.
"Okay, got it. Here, take my hand."
Saying so, he extended his hand in my direction. I tore my eyes away from his and looked at his arm, and the only thing I could notice was that his right forearm looked unusually muscular with nerves popping out of it and everything. I subconsciously grasped his hand, and he was able to instantly lift me off the ground as if I was a child. I mean, I try to keep myself light, and back then I was even lighter than I am now, but it wasn't to the point where I could be yanked so easily like that. I didn’t notice it back then, but Takumi is unusually strong.
He supported me as we made our way to the staircase, my cheeks tinged with a slight crimson hue. The scent coming off of him combined with his strong arms were rather stimulating since I hadn’t been in such proximity with a male in a while, especially considering he was a stranger at that time.
“Just sit here and stretch out your leg. Let me see your foot, I might be able to help.”
My dumb self thought that this was an indirect attempt to glance under my skirt, so I had instantly put up my guard and frowned at him. I was just about to berate him, but when I looked at his serene face, and eyes that only continued to lit up in annoyance… I couldn’t help but obey and stuck out my right foot in his direction.
I averted my eyes from him to conceal my distress, only to see that the staircase and the first-floor corridor had been crowded with students. I could pick out some comments passing in the crowd, and they weren’t friendly towards Takumi by any stretch of the imagination.
I wanted to respond to some of them that misunderstood the situation and were spreading false rumors, but as soon as I glanced at his unconcerned face, I decided against it and fought the urge to speak up. If I could hear them so clearly, there’s no way he couldn’t, and if he doesn’t care about what people are saying about him, why should I? That was back then though, now if someone were to say something bad about Takumi, I might just punch them.
Although Takumi had removed my shoe gently, it felt as if multiple needles were prickling my foot, but it wasn’t to the degree that the pain showed on my face. I just knit my brows and endured as he pulled down my socks and wrapped one of his hands around my ankle, his fingers feeling up the area that had swollen.
"Hey, what is he doing to our Miya-chan?" "Why is our Miya-chan sitting on the staircase?" "It looks like she is hurt." "If he was the one who caused our Miya-chan suffering, we would annihilate him." And some other comments of the same nature were flying about in the corridor, the eyes of all the guys were glued to my skirt and bosom, while the girls were looking at my foot where he had been rubbing the wound gently, seemingly looking for something. However, considering the amount of time he had spent rubbing different parts of my foot, I began doubting his methods.
"Hey, what are you doing!?"
I had a sudden thought that he was just taking advantage of the situation, and the voice that came out of my mouth was much harsher than I wanted it to be.
"Shut up, Princess."
He said those words in such a calm tone that it felt as if those words had lost their meaning, but the words themselves had become so uncommon for me that I had forgotten what they implied. Not even my parents or brother had said something like that to me in years. Ignoring my plight, he abruptly gripped my ankle with tremendous strength and twisted the heel part with a sudden jerking motion.
I couldn't help but scream with all my might, sparkling jewels forming on the edge of my eyes.
"That should do it."
As his voice pulled me back from my sudden trance, I realized that the pain in my ankle had ceased. He pulled my socks up before standing up and turning around.
"Make sure to look around you when you walk, or it could end much worse than it did today."
He dropped these words as he made his way through the dense crowd that was still in a daze following my scream.
That was my first encounter with the person I am in love with, Kawashima Takumi.
"Takumi, wake up! It is our first day back and you're sleeping in the morning!"
"Shut up. I got home at 3, and I had to wake up early to make us breakfast."
I received a wake-up call from Aoki Fumiya, my best friend and the only person in the school who knew my true identity. Well, there’s one other person, but she isn’t in our class so it doesn’t matter.
Fumiya is a little taller than me and has a lean build. His long black hair is tied to the back of his head, and his facial features are sharp and handsome. From what I’ve heard from the girls in my class, Fumiya has been deemed the most popular boy in our grade, which is rather impressive considering there are at least 300 guys across the ten sections of our year.
In addition to his attractive features, his superior academic and athletic prowess also add to his charm and attract girls to him like moths to a summer flame. He had placed in the top ten in the first semester finals and had a good track record in every sport he participated in, no wonder the girls of our class were all over him.
Having said that, to me he is just an annoying kid who is way too hyper for his own good.
“I know, I know, but still! You gotta pull yourself together, Takumi. Oh~ Lookie, lookie, there’s the perfect thing to get you going in the morning.”
Fumiya excitedly pointed his finger outside the window, his finger inclined downwards, indicating the path that led to our campus from the school entrance. It was a wide and well-built road since the teachers and students sometimes bring their vehicles and leave them in our campus' parking lot. Now that I think about it, it’s kinda amazing how each year has its exclusive parking lot.
Haru High School is quite a famous establishment. Its name resounds across the country as 500 students enroll here every year and it still maintains one of the best grades in the prefecture. The school itself is quite luxurious, full of facilities that one would be hard-pressed to find even in a high-end private school, and the best part is that the fee is quite reasonable despite being a highly sought-after school.
The infrastructure of the school is attractive, durable, and well-planned. Three separate campuses that belong to the three classes, each having the same basic principle, that is the main school building surrounded by its own set of exclusive facilities. The main school buildings consist of ten classes ranging from sections A to J, along with the offices, labs, a massive cafeteria, storage rooms, etc. The school is rather responsive to student demands and tries to keep up with the current trend of society and technology instead of sticking to the traditional ways, adding another enticement for the middle-school students taking their high school entrance exams.
My class, 1-E, is located on the second floor. We share this level with classes 1-F and 1-G, along with many of the preparatory rooms and labs.
I diverted my attention from the smooth road to the person Fumiya was pointing towards. It was an unnatural scene… That certain someone walked alone on the wide road as the others retreated to the sides and watched as she passed them. It somehow seemed like a Royal Procession. She walked like a goddess among mortals, seemingly unaffected by the stares from those around her.
Kobayashi Miya, the undisputed most popular girl in our year. There was once a rumor going around that Fumiya and Miya were dating since they just seem so perfect together being the rulers of their cliques, but I know better than anyone that it wasn’t true in the slightest. The only girl that comes close to Kobayashi Miya in beauty is a rather reserved soul so she goes unnoticed more often than not, but it is undeniable that both of them can give supermodels a run for their money.
Having said that, I couldn’t care less about any of this since I had my fair share of troubles to worry about.
“And why would Princess get me going in the morning?”
“You still call her that? Didn’t she explicitly tell you to not call her Princess?”
“‘Princess’ just rolls off the tongue better, and it’s not like we interact very often, or rather, I wish there wouldn’t be any interactions between us for the rest of the year. I’ve had my fill of the derogatory comments, you know?”
“Yeah, well, the way you guys first met was a bit on the envious side for the other boys. You touched her in all sorts of places.”
“I just escorted her to the staircase and treated her foot, nothing more, nothing else. I have no idea why high school boys are so sensitive.”
“Pfft. Anyways, just make sure to wake up before homeroom, ‘kay?”
“…It'd be so much easier for me if you could at least prepare your own meals.”
"I-I'll be out, see ya!"
I dropped my head back down on the table after watching Fumiya run out of the classroom, waiting for sleep to engulf me. However, because of what Fumiya had said, I couldn’t help but recall my first encounter with Princess.
It was the month of April, the school had been going on for a few weeks, and the end of the month was nigh. Without a doubt, it was the most relaxing month of my life. Choosing to attend high school was the best decision, and my opinion hasn’t changed one bit since then.
Anyways, it was a bit before homeroom, and I was settled on my designated seat, fiddling with my smartphone, replying to some messages and whatnot, when I received a call from Fumiya.
[Aye, wanna come down? The air is really good today! Look out!]
I looked outside the window, and certainly, I could see the leaves rustling energetically, indicating that the wind was indeed quite strong.
Usually, I would’ve refused since I don’t like to move much when I am off work, but I could use some good air since I was on the verge of growing mold on my body.
I said before ending the call and stood up from my seat. I had to answer the queries of a certain girl as to my sudden urge to go out before I could head out of the class. I turned around the corner and began descending the stairs, making sure to not bump into people walking up, and occasionally greeting those from my class.
When I stepped onto the first-floor corridor, I got a Line message from Fumiya stating his exact location, and just as I was about to move, a person suddenly crashed into me from the side and fell over. I was startled at first, almost dropping my phone, but after the initial surprise, I couldn’t help but wonder just who was stupid enough to crash into someone standing in the same position for a while. It was akin to crashing a bike into an electric pole.
And there she was, as beautiful as the rumors claimed, no, they didn’t do her justice at all. I hadn’t seen her face even once, but I could just tell who I was dealing with the moment I laid my eyes on her. Kobayashi Miya, the most popular girl in our grade, had taken a tumble and was sitting on the ground with a slightly dazed expression.
Her face was extremely attractive and had an indescribable mature charm any high-schooler shouldn't realistically possess, it was criminal how lovely she was. Her black, lustrous, and healthy long hair fell to her lower back and gently swayed with the wind. Her big and shiny black eyes looked a bit glazed as she absentmindedly stared at my face. Her eyelashes were long and went well with her dense black hair. She had a sharp nose and smooth skin without any blemishes or pimples. Her red and plump lips generated a seductive charm that was sure to throw men of any age into a loop.
Her curves were more feminine than my classmates had described, her pearl white thighs invitingly peeked through the gap between her knee-socks and skirt. She was a living representation of the ideal woman, a woman that every man yearned for, but was forever beyond their grasp.
Just as I was about to offer my hand to her and help her to her feet before leaving, I heard a pained gasp and her dazed expression turned into that of pain and suffering.
"Hey, are you okay?"
I asked, my voice and demeanor unaffected by the girl in front of me. It might sound a little condescending, but I have seen more of these so-called ‘absolute beauties’ than I care to count, so how could I be shaken by a mere high-schooler?
"U-umm, I am alr-”
She began to speak as she stared especially sternly into my eyes. I didn’t know what it was all about, not then and certainly not now, but I guess some people look into the other person’s eyes while talking?
“My ankle… I think I twisted it.”
I had no idea why, but she stopped shy of saying ‘I am alright’. I could only speculate, but it seemed that her pain was more troublesome than she had initially thought, and had realized that she needed assistance midway through the sentence. Again, it’s all just speculation. Even after years of living around women, I can’t say with confidence that I can understand a lady's mind.
"Okay, got it. Here, take my hand."
I said as I scrutinized her ankle in an attempt to figure out a quick and easy solution. Although I couldn’t see her skin because of the socks, her ankle seemed to be sprained, and maybe the weight that was suddenly placed on her foot at the time of the impact did some unwarranted damage to her ankle.
I extended my hand in her direction that she grasped after what seemed like a moment of daze. I supported her as we reached the staircase which was about three feet away from our position. I sat her down on a step and squatted in front of her.
“Just sit here and stretch out your leg. Let me see your foot, I might be able to help.”
Princess had settled on the step after pressing her skirt against her skin, making sure that I couldn’t see under her skirt. It was an understandable action, but it increased my annoyance because she was taking so much time to stretch out her foot that I was considering just leaving her here as someone would definitely come to help her out. Just as I was about to act on my thoughts, I spotted a frown manifesting on her forehead, but after what seemed to be a moment of consideration, she extended her foot towards me.
People started to gather around us, but they were of no importance to me, so I didn’t even spare them a glance. I just needed to do my thing and get myself out of this predicament. If I were to stay with Princess for more time than necessary, I would definitely end up on a secret kill list somewhere. Wait, considering all of the times we have been spotted together after that incident, maybe I already am on a kill list? Well, it doesn't matter.
I could hear vulgar comments being thrown around in the crowd, but they were all beautifully ignored as I proceeded to gently remove the shoe and sock, exposing her right foot in all its glory.
I wrapped my hand around her ankle, my fingers running over the area that had swollen. I had to determine that sweet spot to fix her up in one fell swoop, but after about thirty seconds of no result, my simple brushing had transformed into full-on rubbing, my other hand joining in to help as well. After a minute or so of fiddling with her foot, I was finally able to discern the perfect location.
"Hey, what are you doing!?"
The tone of her voice was quite harsh. It seemed that she had been unsure of my intentions since I was rubbing her foot for a while, and that is completely understandable. But I had little time for all of that as I could make out Fumiya’s silhouette from the corner of my eye.
“Shut up, Princess.”
I had referred to her as Princess at that time simply because it seemed much more appropriate considering the position we were in, and it just kinda stuck.
I gripped her foot with both my hands positioned in a specific pattern. I placed my thumbs at the spot her nerves seemed to be jumbled and twisted her ankle with just enough force to get the job done, any more force and it would’ve had an opposite effect, possibly even breaking her bone.
I ignored her melodious scream and nodded in satisfaction.
“That should do it.”
I noticed that everyone around us had entered a state of trance after her scream, so I made my escape. I pulled up her socks before dusting my hands and turning around to walk over to Fumiya, who had been giving me weird glances for a while now.
Looking at her stare towards me rather weirdly, I decided to drop some necessary knowledge before I vanished from her sight.
"Make sure to look around you when you walk, or it could end much worse than it did today."
Leaving her with these words, I linked up with Fumiya. He kept pestering me with questions regarding what had just occurred as we made our way to our classroom after the crowd had considerably thinned out.
That was my first encounter with the Princess, an existence that was shined way too brightly for someone like me to approach.
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