Chapter 1: I guess we're friends

Sahana was one of those kids who smiled more than she should. Yes, even when surrounded by five girls whose glares screamed, 'He's ours!'

She was going to be doubly late if the girls didn't leave her alone, so naturally, she finished the now cold toast in her hand. No way was she going to risk choking to death by running to school with it in her mouth.

This would be the time when I'd tell you about how she was an ordinary girl who somehow got whisked off to a magical land or something. You know, ordinary except for the bright pink hair in short pigtails and the gigantic blue eyes that I could compare to some gemstone. Yeah, no. I mean, for one thing, this isn't a fantasy story. Also, she isn't our main character.

A girl with a bright red ponytail and matching eyes sprinted to Sahana and used her arms as a barrier between her and her bullies.

'Back off before I cook your intestines and feed them to my dog,' she said in the voice of a noblewoman. You know the voice.

One of the girls claimed that such a threat didn't scare them, but they all took a few steps back at the exact same time, stopping when one of them bumped into someone. This time it was a tall and thin but muscular girl with short blonde hair and icy blue eyes.

'Now, Masami, that's a bit extreme,' she said to the redhead, her voice deep and slightly hoarse. 'I doubt your dog would want to eat these girls' intestines. Don't be so cruel to him.'

The girls ran as far as they could, then turned around and headed to where they were supposed to go.

'You guys didn't have to do that,' Sahana said in a sweet, high-pitched voice, looking up at these girls who were much taller than her. 'But thanks!'

Masami and the blonde girl enveloped Sahana in a bone-crushingly tight hug. It didn't take long for Sahana to notice the crumbs on the blonde-haired girl's face, which gave her an excellent opportunity to namedrop the character. Thank you, Sahana, for making my job easier.

'Were you running late too, Kunie?'

Masami let go of Sahana and crossed her arms. 'She was eating breakfast in the classroom. Honestly! Crumbs everywhere! I was just about to tell her off when I heard one of those girls badmouth you.'

Kunie yawned and stretched her arms. 'Whatever. Sorry I don't have a butler serve me a three-course meal every morning and wipe my face with banknotes.'

'I don't either! That's no excuse! Honestly, you are so….' Masami and Kunie looked at Sahana with apologetic eyes and Masami coughed until her word disappeared. 'Anyway, what caused you to be late?'

Sahana dropped her smile and furrowed her eyebrows. 'When I woke up and looked through my window, I realised that my drapes don't match my carpet.' Masami covered her mouth to stop herself from doing what Kunie was openly doing: laughing. Sahana continued. 'I wonder if I should dye my carpet to match the drapes. What do you think?' Kunie started wheezing. 'What's wrong? Did I say something weird?'

Kunie patted her shoulder. 'You'll find out when you're older.'

Sahana pouted because of course she did. Whenever she does this I kind of want to pinch her chubby cheeks, not going to lie.

'I'm the same age as you,' she murmured before returning to her smiling state. 'Hey, do you know where Toyomi is? He messaged me about how he wants to talk to me about something.'

Before getting an answer from either friend, she heard trumpets and turned around. I don't know where they came from either. That's Benzaiten's realm.

Whatever the answer may be, what's important is that the trumpets signalled the arrival of Toyomi. Toyomi with the peacock-blue hair in a bob and oceanic eyes. Toyomi with the smile that made those miniature oceans look warmer. Toyomi with the hordes of fangirls who looked at each other like snipers preparing to shoot.

With a flick of the wrist he held out his hand and Sahana graciously took it. Well then, I guess she really did get whisked away, just to a secluded spot so he could recite a poem he had written for her. He also handed her a little bag of chocolates he had made, which she immediately began eating.

'Would you like to go out with me?' he asked her with soft eyes and a saccharine voice.

'Of course!' Sahana answered with pink cheeks and a grin that could melt the paint off a door.

Toyomi jumped up and clapped quickly. 'Thank you! I knew that manga was right. I got to your heart through your stomach.'

The two held hands and stared at each other in a way that passers-by would have found weird but was perfect for them.

Now let's get back to the actual protagonist of this story. After heading back into the classroom, Masami smoothed her knee-length skirt behind her as she sat in her seat. Unlike Sahana, her seat was at the front of the classroom rather than near the back by the window. Kunie took the middle seat at the very back, completely opposite to Masami. She sat with her legs open, a certain region only just covered by her short skirt, and picked her ear.

A girl from another class entered the room and handed Kunie a letter with a crown sticker on the front. Before Kunie could respond, the girl zipped out of there.

Our protagonist scowled at the empty food packets on Kunie's desk. She had no clue why anyone would want to go near that desk without a vacuum cleaner. Fair enough.

Kunie read the letter and sighed. A petite girl with long, wavy, light golden brown hair leaned towards her from her seat next to her. She wore a smirk that made it increasingly difficult for Kunie not to groan.

'I'm sensing a pattern here. Maybe if you showed an interest in Prince Toyomi, this wouldn't keep happening. Honestly, how many lezzos are in this school anyway?'

Kunie shrugged. 'You tell me. You seem to be the expert, Dooru.'

The girl looked at her like she had just been accused of throwing a baby into a river. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

'Then again, I guess a prince and a prince don't go together. I mean, can you imagine it?'

Kunie slammed her hands against her desk. 'I'm not a prince!' she yelled.

Dooru snickered. 'Sure, your highness. I will ignore the love letter on your desk, my liege.'

Before Kunie could respond, the trumpets returned and Toyomi took his seat, followed by Sahana and eventually the teacher.

Masami actually, no, really, actually clicked her tongue in scorn as she looked at the clock. Ten minutes and thirty-two seconds late. Miss Date ran her fingers through her oily red hair and breathed a sigh of relief.

Another click of the tongue from Masami. Any more and her tongue was bound to hurt. 'Um, excuse me, Miss Date, may I ask why you are so-'

'That's Ukiwa to you,' the teacher said with a grin and finger guns.

I apologise. Ukiwa opened the roll book and called everyone's names. Masami noticed a hickey peeking out from behind the teacher's shirt collar.

Masami reached under her desk for her pencil case but felt plastic wrap. She pulled out a bag of cookies and a tiny teddy bear. She didn't even have to look at the tag to know who it was from.

She turned her head and saw Fumie, a thin and frail-looking girl who wore her mint hair with violet tips in high pigtails. She had eyes of different colours, one matching the top of her hair and the other matching the tips. A cross hung from her neck. The girl had a hopeful face and one thumb up. Masami saw her clean desk and smiled at her. When she turned back around, she noticed other students holding bags of cookies.

When lunch arrived, Sahana bowed her head and held her hands up as if praying. 'I'll hang out with you guys next time, I swear! I just want to have some alone time with Toyomi.'

Masami and Kunie were about to respond but Sahana and Toyomi had already disappeared by that point. All they could do was look at each other and shrug.

They both took their lunch to Sahana's desk and giggled. 'I guess we should go somewhere else this time,' Kunie said.

They sat at Kunie's desk because Masami refused to let Kunie dirty hers. Masami held up her bento box rather than attempting to fit it on the tiny rubbish-free space on Kunie's desk. They ate lunch quietly, Masami picking her own brain for a topic of conversation.

All she could contribute was, 'So, uh, it's kind of weird, isn't it? How we haven't hung out by ourselves before.'

Kunie nodded, swallowing the piece of fish in her mouth before continuing. 'Yeah. I mean, we're supposed to be friends, right?'

'Yeah, I guess we're friends.' Masami almost corrected her blunder but she kept her mouth shut in case she made another.

Now I know what it's like to pray to the gods and hear nothing but silence.

As if answering my own prayers, eventually the trumpets returned and Toyomi sauntered in the classroom, followed by Sahana. Gitan, a stocky boy with messy black hair and a tan, sneered at the peacockish boy with the glowing face.

'Finally got yourself a boyfriend?' he asked.

Toyomi gave him a smile. 'I'm not sure I understand your question. Why would I want a boyfriend? I already have a girlfriend and I don't like boys that way. But thank you for caring about me!'

Gitan rolled his eyes, muttered some slurs under his breath and turned in his seat towards Masami and Kunie, grinning when Sahana grabbed a chair and sat in between them. He took a pencil and sketched Masami and Sahana holding hands between their chests and looking into each other's eyes. In reality, they were simply sitting and talking.

'So what did you get up to without me?' Sahana asked her friends, who shrugged in perfect unison.