Chapter 1 - Prologue

Going To Private School With The Crown Prince


Staring at the mirrored reflection of your eleven-year old, pre-pubescent body wrapped in the luxurious fabrics of the school's tailored uniform, from it's structured button-up, collared blouse, it's neat red, white, and navy bow tie, and it's well-cut, polished navy blazer jacket with white satin lining, to it's deep-crimson waist-hugging skirt that tapered right above the knee, you realized that your becoming a Leauburgh Hall Prep student was no longer just the wishful thinkings of a young, desperate girl.

It had become reality.

Resting your fingers gently against the school emblem on the blazer, you closed your eyes and savored the comforting yet unfamiliar scent of a new promised future; a future away from all the anxieties, misery, and pain your defective, poverty-afflicted family caused you to suffer through. This was going to be the best seven years of your life, and you have no one to thank but yourself for paving your own way to guaranteed affluence and prosperity.

People in this school had scary connections. Someone's great grandfather could be the founder of Lloyds Banking Group, someone else could have an uncle who's the creative director for Burberry, and yet another person's parents could have seasonal VIP tickets to Manchester United football games. If you made acquaintances with their sons and daughters and added that to a graduation certificate from a top-notch private secondary school, the opportunities would be endless.

Giving the uniform one last look, you carefully took off the ensemble and changed back into your best outfit, a pair of denim jeans ripped in several places and a second-hand polo t-shirt your mum found at a garage sale, and re-tied your plain brown hair into a ponytail before gathering the articles of clothing in your arms, ready to ring them up at the counter with the card the school provided you with for living expenses, a portion directly taken from your full-tuition scholarship you received after your perfect-score Year 6 SATs.

Noticing the glances and looks of puzzlement and confusion on some of the adults' faces as you walked out of the changing room, you kept my head held high, knowing exactly what they were thinking.

'Why is she alone without a parent?' 'What on earth is she wearing?' 'Is she actually a student here?'

Ever since your mother was thrown in jail, your father decided to mindlessly dump all of the household responsbilities on your weak shoulders while he went out and blew most of his minimum-wage paycheck money on hard liquor, getting pissed drunk before stumbling back to your sad cardboard box of an apartment at the crack of dawn. You were still a child, but the laundry or the week-old food in the fridge wasn't going to take care of itself, so you had to learn to be indpendent. You had to grow up and mature faster than any of your peers back in the neighborhood public school, but the only thing they seemed to notice was your unwashed hair and your old, out-of-season clothes donated from a local charity organization.

They didn't know what you were going through, so the only thing they could do was do what people did best.

Blindly judge.

They pointed. They stared. They called you names... did you care?

Of course.

With each insult and look of disgust, you felt as if your insides were shriveling, the very essence of your being getting away into an empty void by the hatred everyone seemed to feel you should be the target of.

You were still a little girl who yearned for a gentle kiss on the forehead or a warm hug whenever you woke up from a nightmare. You remember you would always sit on the top of a slide every day after school and longingly watch your classmates run into the loving embraces of their parents who had come to pick them up, the silent tears staining your hollow, sunken cheeks before dripping down onto the cold, scuffed surface of the metal playground equipment. You were an outcast, an undesirable. You had no friends, blithe in the realization that you would never make any.

Your parents didn't love or care about you, so why would anyone else?

'You were an accident,' they had said to you. 'You should never have been born.'

Your childhood was nothing less than a horrid nightmare, and there wasn't a day where it hadn't haunted your memories, but you would've gladly lived through that experience ten-fold, even a hundred-fold if it still meant that you would have the chance to attend Leauburgh. Now that you were actually here, you were never going back.

"That'll be £786.45 please," the aging clerk said as she finished scanning all the pieces of your summer and winter uniforms. You gave her the card and she peered at it over the presbyopic glasses perched on the crook of her nose before flicking her eyes on you. You stared back at her, challenging her to voice her condemnatory thoughts.

'Another pitiful scholarship student.'

She cleared and slid it through the card swiper, which let out a satisfactory beep as a receipt started automatically printing. "Have a nice day," she said, the disdainful expression never leaving her face as she handed everything to you.

"You too," you said, not letting the contemptuous clerk dampen your mood. You were too flushed from the excitement of paying so much money in one go, with none of the money actually belonging to yourself. You felt in control, bold, and confident that this school was going to mold you into a woman of stature that by the time you turned forty, £700 would seem like seven pennies to you.

Just as you were getting ready to leave the campus store, eager to return to your beautiful dorm room, a gender-ambivalent voice disturbed the hushed atmosphere of the store.

"The trousers make me look fat, and I felt like the bow tie was going to choke me. I hate this. I'm telling father about this later on so he can fire the person who makes us wear uniforms."

You turned around to see who the owner of the voice was. "What did you say?"

The boy looked at you, alarmed. "Huh?"

"What did you say?" you repeated slowly.

"You heard me," he replied.

"How much more rude can you get?"

"What?" he asked, clearly baffled.

"Don't you think it's rather insensitive to go around saying things so carelessly?"

"What's it to you what I say?" he retaliated, but stopped when the older man beside him placed a warning hand on his shoulder. He sighed, but narrowed his eyes at you. "You know what? Nevermind."

You wanted to say more, though you assumed that the older man would probably do something if you carried on. Shush you? Look at you menacingly and threaten to hurt you? Tackle you? Call security and have you thrown out?

You bit your tongue and walked out the door with your purchased items, livid that you didn't get in the final word.

 

~

 

"Ugh where did I put my ID?" you muttered under your breath, rifling through your backpack for your new student ID that would grant you access into your dorm you were assigned to based on the House you were placed in upon registration, Azure.

"I got it," a boy said lightly as he shuffled beside you and hovered his ID near the barcode-reader on the front entrance. The door clicked open with a whirr and he held it open for you. "If you lost your ID, you can request another one from the main office."

"Thanks."

"No problem. Is this your first year here?" he asked as you both stepped into the lobby.

You nodded as you introduced yourself, feeling a faint blush tint your face as he smiled.

"You're pretty," he commented, his eyes softening as he repeated your name on his lips.

You stood there, frozen.

'I'm... pretty?'

You felt a foreign sensation tingle inside of you as your eyes swept over him, taking in his unkempt hair that stuck out in different directions from the wind, his ruddy, chubby cheeks, and his pouty, cherry-red lips before finally looking into his eyes, which were a deep shade of luminous gray with sparse flecks of amber. They seemed so full of mystery despite his friendly personality.

"I'm Lee Hyukjae, I hope to see you around more often."

You floated up to your own room on the eighth floor, thoroughly dazed, your mind still reeling from the strange encounter with Hyukjae. Why did he say you were pretty? Was he blind? Did he secretly mean that you were ugly?

'I'm tired. Maybe I just imagined the whole thing,' you thought as you walked into your large, airy dorm room and flopped onto the queen-sized mattress, leaving your backpack and newly-bought bag of clothes on the fluffy, carpeted floor.

A few moments later, you heard the knob of the door turning as numerous pairs of shoes scuffled into the room, followed by the sound of heavy suitcases rolling in. You opened your eyes and they progressively got wider and wider as you counted the number of Louis Vuitton trunks being dragged in by large, muscular men.

"Thanks guys. I can handle it now," a girl said, presumably your roommate. The men respectfully nodded their heads and retreated out.

"Hey! Are you my roomie?" she turned to you, noticing your lazy, sprawled form on your side of the room.

You sat up and shrugged. "I guess so."

"Yay!" she gushed as she hastily wrapped her arms around you in a tight but brief hug.

You stiffened, completely caught off guard. You weren't used to people showing you intimate, physical affection.

"Oh I'm sorry, I'm just super excited!" she squealed as she let you go, pushing her long silky hair away from her long, oval-shaped face. "I'm Kwon Yuri. This is my first year. Oh my God your skin is so clear and perfect. What facial cleanser do you use? I love your jeans. They're so vintage and punky. Where did you get them? You seem really cool! I can tell we're going to be best friends!"

Your eye twitched in disbelief.

Sitting beside you was a girl who was readily willing to talk to you about your perfect skin and punky jeans without a hint of sarcasm or malice laced into her words.

There was definitely something wrong. 

You mustered a smile.

"Best friends indeed."

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