Chapter 5: A Helpful Ally
Since then, Riley has quietly helped me out.
When I was changing clothes, he pretended to be nonchalant and hid me so that I couldn’t be seen by others, or kept his rough-skinned companions away from me.
Although it’s not really a thank-you, I also helped Riley escape secretly when he was caught by a troublesome instructor, and when I was on duty as a server, I served him extra portions of his favorite dishes.
As we worked together in this way, we spent more time together and eventually became like close friends who could have easy conversations.
After training was over, as usual I was chatting with Riley, and he asked me with an unusually serious expression,
“Hey, I need to talk to you.”
And then I looked at him.
“What? It’s unusual for you to ask for help.”
As I said this, he hesitated for a moment before starting to speak.
“Well, um… Leah is a girl, right?”
“…I guess so.”
Surprised that he had brought up the fact that I am a woman, which he had never mentioned before, I signaled with my eyes for him to continue.
“Leah wants to hide the fact that she is a woman in the future, right?”
“Then, I think you need a female ally.
Riley fixes his serious expression.
“I don’t know the details, but… won’t it be inconvenient if you don’t have someone you can talk to about things like your body later on?”
Hearing this, I realized for the first time the possibility of that.
I have some understanding of the structure of a woman’s body from my previous life, but I don’t know how to deal with menstruation or how to protect my chest in this world.
(If, without thinking, you spend your days in the knight’s order and suddenly have your first period one day…)
I tremble at the thought of myself, overwhelmed by blood-stained clothes.
The smell of blood brings the Knights together to see what’s happening.
You will be questioned as to why you lied about your gender and if you have anything to hide, and at best you will be expelled and at worst you will be punished.
And then, William-sama is attacked by anti-royalists in a place where I can’t reach…
Such a future came to mind and I shivered involuntarily.
Riley continued speaking as I said, “That’s definitely true.”
“If Leah doesn’t mind, I thought I could introduce you to my Oneesan.”
“Yeah. My family, the Morgan family, is a fairly large merchant family, so I was taught a lot of things from a young age. I think my sister would understand the various things that women go through. Of course, if Leah doesn’t want to, we can just pretend this conversation never happened. So, what do you think…?”
Riley looks at me with a sincere gaze.
I can see in his eyes that he is genuinely worried about me.
“Why, to that extent…”
As I muttered, Riley’s eyes widened.
Scratching his head slightly,
“Well, we’re friends, aren’t we?”
He said and awkwardly laughed.
“So, what do you want to do?”
I nod at the somewhat blunt question that seemed to be hiding embarrassment.
“If Riley is okay with it, I would really appreciate it.”
As I replied, Riley nodded back and said,
“Alright! Leave it to me!”
It was on a bright, certain day in the afternoon.
On one of the few days off from the knight’s order, Riley took me to the back entrance of the Morgan merchant family.
Riley rang the bell with a familiar look.
The sound of footsteps could be heard and the opulent door was opened from the inside.
“Welcome back, young master Riley.”
A woman in a maid’s outfit greeted us with a lively appearance.
“Oh, is Neesan in her room?”
“That’s right. Aera? The person behind you is…”
“This is Leah, a knight apprentice like me.”
“I see.. Would you like me to bring tea to your room later?”
“No, that’s fine. We’ll go now.”
Saying that, Riley gave me a look and walked away.
“Riley’s house has maids. That’s amazing!”
“Well. It’s essential for a merchant family to have servants to keep up appearances.
We talked as we climbed the stairs.
Riley stopped in front of a certain door.
“This is Neesan’s room… Poppy! Open up!”
Before Riley could even touch the door knob, the door opened and Riley and I were pulled into the room.
The person who pulled us into the room quickly released her grip on our hands.
It was a girl with a face that was exactly like Riley’s, except with chestnut-colored hair and hazel eyes.
She looked at me intently and said with a friendly smile,
“Well! You must be Leah! I heard about you in a letter from Riley, and I really wanted to meet you! Hey, I want to know more about you!”
As I was looking at the bright-faced girl approaching me with sparkling eyes, Riley pulled the girl away from me.
“Poppy… Leah is in trouble!”
“Ha…!! sorry. It was rude of me to meet you for the first time…”
The girl hung her head.
“Let me introduce myself again. My name is Poppy! I heard about the situation. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me anything!”
As I observe the face of the girl in front of me who is introducing herself with heavy breathing, I can’t help but notice that she looks exactly like Riley… or rather, her face is exactly the same.
“Uh… Riley and Poppy-san really look alike, don’t they?”
“You don’t need the [san] honorific and formal language either! Just call me Poppy!”
“Hey… Poppy, if you get too close, Leah will get into trouble again. Please be moderate… Leah, the reason our faces are the same is because we are twins.”
“Yes, we are twins. So it doesn’t matter which one is the sister and which one is the brother, but when we have to explain our relationship to outsiders, we decided that I am the sister and Riley is the brother.”
As I nod, understanding what Poppy is saying, she brings her face closer to mine.
“Anyway. If it’s okay with you, I’ll be of help. We can communicate through letters, and if you have any questions now, please feel free to ask.”
When Poppy says this, Riley also nods.
“I’m aware that there may be things that are hard to hear when I’m around, so I’ll step out for a bit. Call me when it’s over.”
With that, Riley left the room.
All the knowledge I received from Poppy was useful.
Because Poppy spoke cheerfully and without hesitation, I was able to ask various questions without feeling awkward.
After talking for a while, we charged into Riley’s room with enthusiasm.
He was very surprised and we laughed at the sight.
After that, Riley and Poppy made some tea and we had a pleasant conversation until it became evening.
“Come again. I’ll be waiting!”
As we left the Morgan house, with Poppy seeing us off, we followed the path to the knight’s barracks with Riley.
As I turned my face towards Riley, who was watching me curiously,
“Hey, uh… you all right today?”
he had a slightly worried look on his face.
“Poppy can be a bit pushy at times, but that’s also one of her good points… Did you hate it?”
Looking at the worried Riley, I lightly pat his shoulder.
“Not at all! I’m grateful to Riley. Today, I gained two precious friends.”
Riley’s eyes widened at my words, and I patted his shoulder again with a smile.
“Hey, let’s race to the barracks!”
Saying that, I started running.
Feeling the presence of Riley chasing after me in a hurry, I opened my mouth wide and laughed.