Chapter 1: Mikan Sakura

Seven Weeks Earlier

The morning was cold. I felt as though I was wrapped in a sheet of ice rather than a warm comforter. It has been a week and a few days since all that had happened, and nine days since the burial. Uncle has been in my room since I woke up, and hasn't left. He just sits there with his head held low, eyes on the floor and thoughts far away.

Bear was in the room as well. He has been assigned to keep me company. Although I do enjoy him being there, I really missed those my friends. I wondered what they were doing. Were they all happy? Are they enjoying themselves?

Do they miss me?

I shook the thought from my head. I have already been told that I wasn't going to see them again. Not for a long time, at least. That's what Shiki-san told me. I really can't say I'm happy to know about the past. I kind of missed those days when the Elementary School Principal was just a name and not a face, and Mother and Daddy were just stars in the night sky. Most of all, I missed when all of my friends and I were carefree and uninvolved with the Academy's plots, although one person has been from the beginning.

Natsume. He was the person who lingered in my mind like an annoying song. I was warm all over; it felt like he was still hugging me. I felt like his eyes were still bearing into mine, reading me like a picture book. So maybe we weren't always on good terms, but, through all the bad times and sufferings, Natsume was protecting me like a bomb shelter, taking all the hits for me and not caring about himself.

"Mikan?"

I slithered out of my blankets, and out of my thoughts, and looked at Uncle. "Yes, Oji-sama?"

"You are a friend of Hyuuga-kun, correct?"

It was like Uncle read my mind.

"You could say that," I said. Uncle raised an eyebrow. "I mean, yes. I am."

"Do you know why he's acting strangely?"

"Hm? Natsume's acting weird? How so?"

"Well," Uncle began, "I've asked him to transfer out of the Dangerous Ability Class, and yet he insists on staying. He's always absent in class as well; he seems to spend his days running around the school…"

"That kind of sounds like normal Natsume." I stiffled a laugh, "He probably wants to protect everyone. And he's already smart. He doesn't really need to go to school.

"Hn," Uncle said looking out the window. From there, you can only see parts of the academy. Trees lined up block the view of all things past a certain point, so seeing people from my prison balcony was a very rare, yet very good, thing. It would occassionally be a student, but more often than not was the janitor sweeping up the leaves that have almost all fallen.

I turned back into my bed, burying my head in a pillow.

-o-

I remained "asleep" for a few more days, getting up only for very needed things. Bear would curl up beside me and hug me, though I appreciated him trying, nothing compared to the wamth of a person.

"Mikan, the Principal is here to see you," Shiki-san said. I seemed to have someone around me most of the time. We would talk sometimes, though it was usually one-sided as Uncle talked of Daddy and Shiki-san of Mother.

But as I peeked out of the duvet, I realized that it wasn't my the high school principal nor the new middle school principal.

It was the elementary school principal.