Disguising Myself as a Man to Become a Knight! - Chapter 83
Translated by: ShinigamiTori
Footsteps in Autumn
The summer heat that had tormented Sheila gradually eased, and the wind had recently become cooler. A pair of dragonflies swam happily in the clear autumn sky.
It was the first month of autumn, and half a year had passed since she came to the academy.
Sheila came to Felix’s mansion like usual on a lunar day. It was a debriefing as usual.
When she entered the mansion with Lulu, who was there to welcome her, she was greeted by Richard.
“It’s been a long time, Miss.”
“That’s an exaggeration, Richard-san. It’s been about two weeks at most.”
Sheila couldn’t come visit last week because she was working at the pharmacy, but it hadn’t been that long.
Richard made a wry face at Sheila, who laughed it off.
“For the past two weeks, I’ve been waiting a thousand times a day for your visit.”
Upon closer inspection, Richard looked heartbreakingly gaunt, and with all due respect, his hair seemed scarcer than before. Although he never stated it explicitly, she could sense that he had been through a lot.
“Um…. It’s because of Felix, isn’t it?”
Felix had the annoying habit of pestering and messing with those around him when he wasn’t with his sister. Come to think of it, he once came for a visit during a training session because he couldn’t stand it.
Just how many unreasonable demands was the middle-aged butler exposed to? On behalf of her brother, Sheila bowed her head in sincerity. Richard, who laughed and forgave her, saying, “You mustn’t bow to me, Miss,” was the very definition of a servant.
Just like that, she was guided to the office where Felix was. Lulu left for the time being to prepare tea.
“Sorry to disturb you, Felix.”
At his office desk by the window, Felix, bathed in the autumn sunlight, was working on a document. His silver hair shone transparently and his face was delicately beautiful as he worked on his papers.
The young man broke into a sweet smile the moment his gray eyes caught Sheila’s.
He stood up and immediately closed the distance. He hugged her to his chest with such force that Sheila found it hard to breathe.
“I’ve wanted to meet you for so long. It’s really the real Sheila, isn’t it?”
“Of course I’m real, what are you talking about?”
Felix stared at Sheila with wistful eyes as she pulled out of his arms and escaped from him.
“I’ve been thinking about Sheila a lot lately because I miss you so much. Then, strangely enough, I gradually began to see hallucinations of you….”
“――So, you didn’t get any paperwork done?”
Sheila glanced at a document that Felix was supposedly working on. There was a very realistic portrait of Sheila drawn there. What in the world was he doing?
“With that kind of excuse, you just wanted to skip work, right? Just to annoy Richard-san.”
“Fufu. How adorable is Sheila when she gets angry.”
“It’s no use fooling around.”
In contrast to the previous situation, this time Sheila pestered her brother.
Just when he was cornered, Lulu arrived to offer a helping hand.
“Miss, why don’t you sit back and relax instead of standing there? The tea is ready.”
“It’s all right, Miss. I am happy enough with your thoughtfulness.”
If even Richard, who had suffered the most damage, was alright with it, it would be impossible not to back down. Sheila’s lips pouted as she withdrew.
“Jeez, everyone is too kind to Felix.”
“I’m giving back to you the amount that everyone has given me. The world is a wonderful place like that.”
Staring at her brother’s sparkling smile, Sheila took her seat as prompted.
The monthly tea party began.
The main course of the snack was cheesecake with lemon paste. It was a dish that reminds one of the remnants of summer.
As Sheila was happily savoring the refreshing bitterness of the lemon and the mild sourness of the cheese, Felix reached out his hand.
“Sheila, your hair has grown long. Couldn’t you tie it up a little more?”
Lulu had trimmed it a few times since cutting it in early spring, but she hadn’t shortened it. Thanks to that, Sheila’s red hair had grown to about halfway up her neck.
“I thought it could be tied, but it’s difficult for me. I’ve always just tied it up in a random way.”
“You look pretty enough as you are now. You’ve become very girly.”
Her brother’s delicate fingertips tickled the tips of her hair. His gray eyes narrowed in satisfaction.
“As expected, you look very beautiful. Are you growing it out for me?”
“What? Ah, yes…”
Sheila’s gaze flew around as she answered. To be honest, she had completely forgotten that her brother had told her to grow it out.
In the depths of Felix’s eyes, who smiled beautifully, there was an unsettling light that couldn’t be wiped away. Sheila almost spilled her tea as she was pulled closer forcefully and hugged tightly.
“…. I hate it. I feel like I’m losing my cute little sister.”
With both of Felix’s arms covering her ears, his voice was very difficult to hear.
“Huh? What did you say?”
“No, it’s nothing…. You’ve become more like a girl, and not just because your hair has grown longer.”
“I told you, I can’t hear you.”
For some reason, Felix’s arms seemed like a lonely, clinging child. Despite her complaints, Sheila let herself fall into her brother’s chest for a while.
◇ ◆ ◇
Tomorrow was finally the day of the competition, but Sheila was working hard at picking medicinal herbs with Wilfrecht.
The autumn wind blew across the herb garden. The flowers of gentians, bellflowers, and burnets swayed quietly as they awaited harvest. She felt that there were many flowers with deep colors in autumn.
“These rhizomes have medicinal properties, so they should be harvested whole. Has Your Highness ever tried the rhizome made from gentian flower to see how bitter it is?”
“No, never. Is it bitter even though it’s such a beautiful flower?”
“Its bitter taste is related to its medicinal properties. The excessive bitterness stimulates the secretion of saliva, gastric juices, and bile, which is effective for anorexia.”
Wilfrecht looked at the gentian in his hand and balked. Perhaps he imagined the bitter taste. She wondered what he would have looked like if she told him that the felwort, which bloomed beautifully, was even more bitter than this.
Wilfrecht quickly noticed Sheila, who unintentionally laughed out loud.
“Sheila-san, you really like medicinal herbs. I can feel your joyful feelings and it makes me happy too.”
She was actually laughing at the thought of him, but she was smart enough not to say it. But there was something else that bothered Sheila.
“Your Highness, you still call me with ‘-san’ sometimes, don’t you?”
She laughed with a troubled face, and Wilfrecht himself, apparently unaware of it, hurriedly apologized.
“I’m sorry…. But I just can’t help but see you as a woman.”
“I’m happy that you think that.”
For Sheila, who had been certified by Zechs as a “man among men,” it was such a relief to her feelings. Plus, with Jornwerner’s “eccentric” certification, she was more than happy with Wilfrecht’s thoughts.
Sheila regained her composure and turned to Wilfrecht.
“Then why don’t we do it this way? We are friends, right? If we’re friends, it’s not strange if we call each other by name, regardless of gender, isn’t it? I, too, would be sad to be treated like a stranger after getting to know each other so well.”
When Sheila suggested it with a smile, he stiffened his face and nodded.
“I-I understand. We are friends, so it would be natural for us to call each other by our first names.”
“Yes, that’s right. Then, let’s practice.”
Wilfrecht looked up at Sheila and called her name several times hesitantly.
“A-ah, it’s embarrassing to look at each other and call you like this…. Are friends really like this?”
Sheila watched Wilfrecht, red-cheeked and embarrassed, with a grin on her face. She was completely defeated by the consecutive attacks from him.
He went back to his harvesting work to escape the ulterior motive-laden gaze.
“I wouldn’t be so nervous if we were talking about medicinal herbs.”
“Your Highness is steadily becoming a herb geek, aren’t you?”
“Is that really something to be happy about….?”
“I’m very happy to see the love Your Highness has for plants.”
When Sheila responded with a sincere smile, Wilfrecht also smiled shyly. His clear blue eyes gazed lovingly at the gentian flowers.
“…. Raising it from scratch and seeing it grow up so well makes me happy. Even my hands, which have nothing, can create something.”
Even though he was smiling, his dialogue sounded awfully lonely. Sheila involuntarily stopped harvesting.
“Having nothing… I don’t think anyone would say that about His Highness.”
Wilfrecht’s smile turned into something so fleeting that it almost disappeared. Sheila was perplexed as she clearly saw a hint of cynicism behind his eyes. It was the first time she had seen such a self-mocking expression on his face.
“――I hate my flaws…”
His smile was so beautiful and sad at the same time.
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