Chapter 2 - First Year

Going To Private School With The Crown Prince


Everything was perfect.

The enormous campus was peppered with historic, brick classrooms and newly renovated dorm buildings segregated by the four School Houses: Rose, Eau De Nil, Dubonnet, and Azure; the fully equipped, state-of-the-art sports center housed internationally-sized courts and swimming pools intended for various varsity athletic sport programs; the ornate Music and Drama Department earned the boasting rights of having two professional recording studios in addition to an indoor tiered theater with 3D projection technology and surround-sound; and the Grand Library and computer labs were brimming with nothing but the latest Apple iMac desktops and Macbooks for students to use freely.

“Do you know where the chapel is?” Yuri asked you as you both walked down the cobblestone pathway lined with neat beds of colorful and exotic flowers fragrant with the scent of summer.

You shrugged, not wanting to admit to the fact that you already had the entire campus map and informational brochure completely memorized and imprinted in your mind. “It should be near the stream,” you said, pointing to the cross symbol beside the little blue wavy lines on the orientation pamphlet in your hand, which was given to all First Years upon registration.

Yuri nodded and breathed in a deep lungful of the crisp, morning air as you both continued walking in silence. Her hair danced around her face in an ethereal way as the wind picked up slightly, but when she reached up to fix her headband, her foot got caught on a jutting stone in the path and she nearly tripped before a figure hastily caught her fall.

“Be careful!” he cautioned.

“Because falling to my death is what I secretly wish for,” Yuri said as she eyed her savior before she straightened herself up to fix her blazer.

Hyukjae retracted his arm from around her waist and smiled. “A natural klutz like you wouldn’t know careful if it came barreling through your door like a buffalo.”

“I’m just physically dyslexic,” Yuri sniffed. “But thanks. You saved me from disfiguring my face on the first day of school.”

“I don’t think so. Is that a pimple I see?” Hyukjae squinted as he pointed to her chin.

“What?” Yuri screamed as she slapped his finger away and frantically rubbed her chin. “Where? I swear I covered all my acne with concealer before we left our room! Right?” she asked, turning towards you anxiously.

You nodded. The girl was only eleven, but was already caking on makeup by the truckload. Was she already that insecure about her looks at such a young age?

“You’re killing your skin Yuri, just let it breathe,” Hyukjae laughed before looking at you. “Like hers... beautifully natural.”

Your hand automatically flew up to your face as you felt a rush of color flood your cold cheeks. There he goes again, calling you attractive. That funny feeling that you had yesterday once again messed with your insides. Your eyes flew up to his ambiguous, dark orbs as they steadily held your gaze.

“Come on, she’s blessed with flawless skin from the heavens. You can’t compare me to her,” Yuri said bitterly, but linked her arm in yours. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we have a First Year orientation assembly to attend.”

And with that, she whisked you past him without a second’s notice as he was left standing there by himself, staring at your retreating figures.

“You guys know each other?” you asked.

“He’s my half-brother,” Yuri replied quickly as you two wordlessly approached the arched entrance of the campus chapel, ancient with carpets of ivy blanketing the archaic structure. She didn’t elaborate, so you didn’t pry further.

It wasn’t any of your business.

As you pushed on the thick, wooden doors on iron hinges, it made a faint creaking noise before you two were greeted by a large hall packed with excited First Years full of energy and bristling anticipation. Taking your seats in the back row of the velvet-covered pews, you clenched your fist tighter around the pamphlet as Yuri started babbling in your ear about how pretty the stained glass windows were or how she liked another girl’s chic designer shoes. None of it was actually processing in your brain though as it was swarmed with a jumble of other dizzying emotions.

This was real.

You were here.

You had hit the home run.

A man with a shock of silver hair, immaculately coiffed, made his way to the podium on the stage. Donning a long black robe on top of a button-up shirt and crimson tie, he stood with a commanding sense of authority, waiting for people to settle down. A hush immediately fell upon the chapel.

“Welcome, students, to Leauburgh Hall Prep. I am Headmaster Leicester, and I am here to usher you into one of the greatest experiences of your life. I can guarantee you that at Leauburgh, we not only focus on helping you to advance and promote your academic and scholarly achievements, but also assist you in honing in on your athletic abilities, developing your leadership skills, and building a love and compassion within you for the community outside of the walls of this prestigious institution. You have earned a spot in his school because we see promising potential in you, and our sincerest hope is that you will not only reach your dreams with the tools we provide you, but also influence society so that your legacy will carry on into the following generations to inspire and encourage future aspiring young ladies and gentlemen such as yourselves at this very moment. Prestige, tradition, pride, and honor fills the hearts of our students, and without seeing it for oneself, hearing the sounds, breathing in the scents, and feeling it sizzle through the very tips of one’s fingers, it’s impossible to explain just how extraordinary, how rewarding, how eye-opening, how breathtaking, and how awe-inspiring it is. That is why I challenge you to make the best out of what we offer here, be it the facilities, resources, or faculty, and I promise you, you will not regret spending your glorious, adolescent years of maturity and growth here at Leauburgh Hall Prep."

 

~

 

"You were really out of it today. Did you overdose on your meds before practice or something?" Kai joked as Hyukjae shook out his hair from his Water Polo team cap and covered his head with a towel. Kai opened his locker door and started drying his wet body as more boys started spilling into the locker room after being scolded by their coach for not staying fit over the summer break. It hadn't been their best morning practice, to put it mildly.

"Nah, I was distracted."

"With what?" Kai asked as he stripped off the tiny pair of scarlet speedos. He shivered from the sudden lack of constriction and swiftly pulled his Under Armour boxers on.

"A First Year."

"Breaking news, our resident prince charming has set his eyes on ," Kai taunted.

"I'm only one year older. Geez, you make me sound like a huge pedo."

"I'm just saying. How did you even meet this chick?"

"In the dorms last night," Hyukjae hummed as he started changing into his uniform. "I can't seem to get her out of my head."

"Funky," Kai curled his lips in delight, propping one hand on his waist. "Does she know who you are? I mean if she did I'm pretty sure she'd agree to anything you ask her."

"I don't want her to feel pressured around me," Hyukjae said. 

"Whatever floats your boat man. You know I'm only your best friend because I can score free meals in the Palace right?"

Hyukjae laughed. "A true friend you are sir."

"I should get knighted for being so loyal to you," Kai laughed as Hyukjae scoffed in disagreement and attempted to whip Kai's body with his towel.

"Security! Guards! Special police lurking in the shadows! Help me!" he screamed wildly as he pranced about, bumping straight into a fully-dressed Kris who had just walked into their aisle to hurry them up for first hour classes.

"Shut your mouth Jong. No one's going to help you," Kris deadpanned, too familiar with the antics of his two closest friends to care.

"Aww come on Kris," Kai frowned, throwing his arms around the taller boy. "Live a little."

"Me no homo. Go hug Hyuk if you need some bodily loving," Kris grunted, trying to push Kai away.

"I love you Kris," Kai teased, clinging closer.

Kris sighed. "Why am I even putting up with this nonsense."

Hyukjae finished getting dressed and slung his Adidas duffel bag on his right shoulder. "Kai, you should get some clothes on before Kris starts beating you with a stick."

"He wouldn't!"

"Try me," Kris said, raising his eyebrows.

 

~

 

"I'm Mr. Kim Jong Woon. I am your Biology teacher. My turtle's name is Mr. Nibbles, and you shall not lay one finger on him without my permission. Understood?"

The classes nodded just to humor him. He was rumored around campus to be a really easy teacher, just as long as his students indulged him by excessively complimenting his pet reptile.

"Great. We're going to get along just fine then," he said, shuffling his papers on his desk.

"Excuse me, is this Second Year Biology?" your voice echoed in the hallway.

Mr. Kim looked towards your direction at the doorway. "Indeed. Are you the First Year student?"

"Yes."

"Very well. You can come in and take a seat in the empty desk beside the tall guy in the back. You guys will be lab partners for this term."

You stepped into the classroom as twenty-some odd pairs of eyes curiously took in the invader. They weren't used to having younger students in their classes since skipping core classes was almost unheard of.

One particular person's mouth dropped open. "Oh my God."

"?" Kai whispered to a very surprised Hyukjae as you walked closer and sat down behind them.

Kris looked at you in interest. The prospect of having a smart lab partner thrilled him, especially since everyone else in the class were either lazy or dumb idiots. Contrary to what the school advertised, plenty of people were in this school because their parents were loaded. Period. One of these days, he was going to bring it up to administration and urge them to create a policy to hold back students a grade. It was for their own good.

"Hi. I'm Kris. I'm looking forward to working with you."

"Me too," you replied, glad that the tall, intimidating-looking boy wasn't repelled by your intrusion.

Hyukjae quickly turned around and tapped your desk.

"Hey you. We meet again."

"Coincidence?" you asked, taking your materials out of your bag. What were the odds?

"I think not," Hyukjae said slowly.

"Oi! Class has already started. No more chatting up the ladies!" Mr. Kim yelled at Hyukjae. "Turn around and pay attention to role call. "

Hyukjae jumped in his seat and obliged, thoroughly embarassed. A few people snickered. Obviously Mr. Kim didn't know who he was yelling at.

Kai nudged Hyukjae with his elbow, seeing how red his ears were turning. "Impressive."

Hyukjae sunk deep in his chair and tried very hard to contain his wide grin.

 

~

 

DING DING DING.

You trudged out of the gym with Yuri after mandatory First Year gym class, glad for a break. Though you had enjoyed the lesson on the basics on how to play Rugby, since your dad had taught you how to tackle before he turned into a drunkard, with Yuri sporadically gushing about how cute the teacher, Mr. Lee Donghae, was and how good you were at playing, you couldn't wait to chow down on some gourmet food to recharge your brainpower for the latter half of the day.

Second Year core classes were tougher than you expected, granted, but you could handle it.

You always found a way.

"I'm so hungryyy," Yuri whined as you two entered the cafeteria, crowded with students and teachers eager to appease their grumbling stomachs. "Can you hear my tummy growling? It's so un-ladylike."

You laughed as you took a tray and debated in your mind what you were going to eat, which seemed like an eternity since everything the lunch ladies had to offer was tremendously appealing to your black hole of a stomach right now.

Crinkle cut fries, deep-pan pizza, caviar sushi, creamy pasta, hot paninis, cheesy beef nachos, and fresh subs from subway... you your lips, wondering what would be on the dinner menu tonight. Tender filet mignon and shrimp cocktails?

You smiled to yourself at the thought, remembering how the only food offered at your old school was small turkey sandwiches and cheap mac & cheese bought in bulk packages from the local supermarket.

"Thinking about me?"

You snapped out of your delicious reverie.

"Don't flatter yourself. I barely know you," you stated as Hyukjae took a platter of sushi beside you. Yuri rolled her eyes, snagging a plastic container of caesar salad with honey-grilled chicken from the salad bar.

"Ouch," he grinned as his thin lips struggled to cover a set of pink gums that were playing peek-a-boo with you. "Come sit with me for lunch so you can get to know me better then."

You looked at him curiously, noticing how his uniform hung loosely on his thin frame, looking too grown-up for his body to pull off. His hair was much more groomed compared to yesterday, though it was definitely on the longer side, seemingly long overdue for a trim. His skin was deathly pale, almost as white as your cotton bed sheets, though his most prominent feature, was his infectious smile. It was so genuine, the way it brightened up his whole face.

Throughout Biology and English class, you realized that he was among the most popular group of kids in his grade. He didn't have the typical snobbish, I-am-better-than-thou arrogance, but was rather a fun and jovial person. He clowned around and laughed along with the others when he was the of a joke, so in a way, you observed that they all looked up to him, because he regarded them with respect too.

Before you came here, it was an irrefutable fact that your destiny was to stay stuck on the very bottom rung of the social ladder, and you were satisfied with that, but Hyukjae was probably never going to give it a rest if you didn't agree to sit with him. He had shown a continued albeit unwarranted interest in acquainting himself with you, and you had to admit, it felt pretty damn good.

It made you feel desired... something you had never really felt before.

A popular boy wanting to eat lunch with a nobody like you?

"Sure," you said as you took a slice of thick-crust pepperoni pizza, some fries, and a carton of chocolate milk.

"Excellent," he beamed, though you saw a flash of irritation cloud his eyes as someone walked past.

Someone very familiar.

"Your Highness," you heard the person say with mock-pleasantry.

"GD," Hyukjae said through gritted teeth.

"Please you guys," Yuri begged.

"Enjoy your lunch yeah? You're going to need that extra energy to focus on getting all your math problems right."

"I intend to, thank you for your concern over my well-being."

"Any time," GD smirked before focusing his attention on you. "Oh, and who do we have here? How lovely to see you again."

Hyukjae and Yuri looked at you, confused.

You shot this 'GD' person a cold look but didn't say anything.

"I'm not looking to get into a fight. But you should be careful who you decide to lash out on next time. You have no idea what I can do to you," GD said, the tone of his voice gravely dim.

"That's enough," Yuri warned, placing a protective hand on your shoulder.

"Don't tell me what to do," he snarled at her before leaving.

"What was that about-" all three of you asked at the same time.

"It's a long story-" you and Hyukjae echoed each other.

Hyukjae cracked a smile.

You did too.

What could you do? His smile was contagious.

 

~

 

"How do I solve this problem Mr. Cho?"

The teacher shook his head as the girl pointed innocently at an algebra problem in her textbook.

"If you would've stopped daydreaming about me and actually paid attention in class, you would be done by now."

You snorted as the girl turned a furious shade of red.

"Hangeng, wanna help her out? How do you factor out a quadratic equation?"

A boy with thick glasses blinked. "I don't know. We use different numbers in China."

There was a skitter of giggles before the teacher calmly looked at the international student.

"Yeah right. Go up to the board and do question 29."

"But I can't solve it in my head."

"You see children, there's this nifty invention called the calculator, which back in my day was at the height of technology I’ll have you know. You just punch in a few numbers and voilà, magic," Mr. Cho said sarcastically.

You chuckled. Even though your math teacher looked fresh out of college, his quick wit and sharp tongue made his class really enjoyable, even though it was the last hour of the day.

"I can write ies on my calculator," a guy named Heechul offered.

"Glad to know you have mastered the art of combining math with the female anatomy. Five extra credit points for you."

"Really?"

"Do I look like I'm kidding?"

Heechul's large eyes widened. "You're the freaking bomb Mr. Cho!"

"Yeah. Hopefully it'll help you when I give you guys a 100-point test on Wednesday."

"But it's Monday!"

"So?" Mr. Cho asked. Everyone groaned in protest, while you were beside yourself in hysterics.

"Sorry for being late," GD apologized to the teacher as he walked into the class, all haughty as if he owned the place.

Oh, the irony of having the devil himself in your math class.

Hyukjae had briefly mentioned during lunch that he's always had trouble with math. It was so bad that he was required to take extra tutoring from the teacher two hours each day after school last year, and GD had made it his mission to make fun of him for it every chance he got. It was ridiculously juvenile, in your opinion, but you sensed there were subtle hints of tension below the surface teasing. He was very vague, and barely mentioned anything else about GD, but the way that they had looked at each other back in the cafeteria. So much venom... given your natural curiousity, you wanted to know why.

Come to think of it, Yuri didn't specify how she knew GD either.

'They didn't even tell me his real name,' you thought.

"I'm afraid sorry won't do. If you're trying to pull the confident, bad boy act, then cut it out because you're only twelve years old and I've done way worse things than you. If you don't believe me I can show you my collection of bail-receipts my mother kept for memorabilia when she got me out of jail on numerous different occasions."

GD clenched and reclenched his jaws before finally sitting down, unsure of how to respond to the teacher's comment. He had done this in several of his other classes but the teachers had been more much lenient.

You felt the urge to give a standing ovation for your teacher, in awe of his no-nonsense attitude. 

"Good boy, sit down and take a breather. And while you silently fume, I want to invite Hangeng up to the board to finish question 29. I have the whole day, don't worry."

 

~

 

The equestrian team trodded leisurely with their horses along the streambank of the campus, which ran from the north side of the campus to the south, adjacent to the green, pristinely manicured outdoor soccer fields. You spotted Kris on one of the horses and waved. He waved back and gave you the thumbs up.

Your Biology partner was proving to be on par, above even, with your high expectations of students here in terms of intellectuality. You enjoyed talking to him during the classroom introductions and discussions, where conversation varied from classic literature like Hawthorne and Twain, to current events such as the current election campaigns in the United States. You didn't have much of a chance to talk to Hyukjae's other buddy Kai, since he was busy fending off the packs of girls vying for his attention, but you did get a warm vibe from him judging by the way he was so attached to his friends. It was almost endearing seeing him nudge his chin on Hyukjae's shoulder, begging him for a roll of sushi. 

As you arrived at your House dorm after a tantalizing meal of lamb chops with rosemary and lemon pepper flakes, you waved your ID in front of the scanner and strode into the lobby, which was lit with aromatic, scented candles in addition to the ambience lights on the sides of the wall. 

'I'm making friends. I'm enjoying my classes. I'm even eating luxurious food on a regular basis. Now I'm climbing upstairs to my gorgeous dorm room I share with a fun, sweet girl. This... is heaven.'

However ridiculous the notion might seem, maybe the school's atmosphere completely brainwashed people into being nicer, friendlier people. GD was the obvious outlier to this happy equation, but you were determined to tell him a piece of your mind, once you could actually track him down and confront him. The moment the bell rang, he was out of math class in the blink of an eye.

What would he be rushing to so urgently?

"Yo," Hyukjae said suddenly behind you.

You turned around in surprise. "Way to give me a heart attack!"

"Sorry," he said, scratching the back of his head as he fell in step with you. "How did you like today?"

"It was wonderful, thank you," you smiled. "I love it here."

"Great, that's great. So..."

Hyukjae stalled.

You screeched as a spider scurried across the marble floor, latching onto Hyukjae with your arms in a death lock around his neck.

Hyukjae looked at you, in a trance.

Ever so slowly, he closed his eyes and did the unthinkable.

He kissed you.

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