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Tea Party Invitation and Wax-Sealed Letter (Part 1)

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Author: Sasaki Ichiro Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mab English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Silva

“Is it okay for female students to wear the boys’ uniform?”
“No problem. It’s not prohibited by the school rules. Besides, the Imperial Academy has a free-spirited tradition.”

In response to my question, Viola, who appeared to be a beautiful boy with a somewhat androgynous look —even though she was a bona fide princess of the Safiras royal family, which was the main state within the western federation of the United Kingdom of Déra-Amítia— shrugged her shoulders with a cool demeanor.

It’s hard to put into words… Her every move and gesture seemed theatrical, exuding a kind of elegance. Whether it was her nature or the result of the education she received as a royal, it’s unclear, but it seemed to me that she was always unconsciously aware of the gaze of onlookers.

Perhaps, even if I were to mimic the same gestures, most people would perceive it as cringe. However, with a height exceeding 160 cm, standing even taller by about 10 cm than me, with a short haircut unbefitting of a noblewoman, a slender figure, and a somewhat lower voice for a woman—she checked all the correct boxes, a rare sight to behold.

However, now that I know the truth about her being a woman, I can’t help but feel bewildered. What could it be…? Is this what they call gender dysphoria?

While I understood the concept, I never had the opportunity to get acquainted with anyone like this in my previous life. To think that I would become classmates in this world of swords and magic… The world is unexpectedly vast, or should I say, the noble society is peculiar. It gives me much to ponder.

“Nevertheless, it’s not normal for a lady to wear boys’ uniforms. Look at that person over there, even he seems taken aback. You’re a lady, why can’t you behave like one? Cross-dressing is abnormal!”
“Guh—!!”

Upon hearing the cutting words of Princess Lieselotte of the Cilento Central Kingdom, who sported a hairstyle reminiscent of a drill that could puncture a hole if you stared at it too long, Lynn, not Viola, seemed quietly distressed, clutching her chest and groaning.

“So what if it is? I’m just living as myself. Besides, trying to conform to ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ norms is just forcing oneself into existing values and distorting one’s individuality. That’s more unhealthy, don’t you think?”

Viola asserted nonchalantly as if she was dealing with a child.

““…””

I don’t understand. What she is saying makes sense to some extent, but for some reason, it felt unsettling to hear. Looking at Lynn, it seemed she shared the same sentiment, her mouth twisting into a grimace of frustration.

“Cross-dressing can’t be healthy!”
“That is merely a clash of differing opinions. Besides, I’m not cross-dressing. This body may be female, but my soul is that of a man. This appearance reflects my soul.”

As she, or he, argued back with their own principle of belief, the feeling of displacement in Lynn’s and my hearts grew.

For Lynn, she had no choice but to disguise herself as a man for her safety as her job demanded her to work alongside the rough-and-tumble sort. For me, I woke up a woman in this world and ever since then, I had to wear dresses and skirts to match, live through stiff shoulders, learn proper etiquette and dances to conform to the expectations of being a girl and waste two whole hours a day just to wash my hair, all in order to make a desperate effort to come to terms with the situation I found myself in.

On the other hand, someone casually asserted their right to “live as myself,” for essentially a hobby. To say that in our faces felt the same as to brush off everything we’ve endured.

Here’s the thing. While the phrase “living as myself” sounds pleasant to hear, isn’t it ultimately just selfishness, a desire to do whatever you please? That’s a way of life where you don’t exercise self-discipline, indulging only in your wants, and I can’t say that’s the most admirable.

…I might not get along well with this Viola person.

Viola, naturally indifferent to my feelings, wrapped her hands around mine in a familiar gesture and smiled softly at me. It was a charming smile that transcended gender, or an archaic smile if you will.

If I had nothing to think of her, my heart would have been stirring even if I knew she was a woman. In fact, the students and their attendants who were watching us in the classroom, regardless of gender, all had reddened cheeks upon seeing us.

“Well then, Fräulein Julia. After today’s entrance ceremony, would you care to join me for tea? I’ve come across some rare tea leaves… Ah, and if you and that person who was with you until a moment ago, the imperial member of the Empire would like to join as well, that would be fine.”

The last part sounded rather obligatory. Viola, after giving a sidelong glance at Daniel, immediately averted her gaze.

“You have it rough. This pervert is a sucker for pretty girls. Right, if you decide to accept the invitation, then I’ll accompany you to ensure nothing strange happens. Besides, I’d like to have a conversation with the imperial member of the Empire as well.”

With a sigh, Princess Lieselotte interjected.

When she said “pretty girls,” I looked behind me to look for the person she meant. That was when she hounded me with, “I mean you! Are you trying to feign ignorance?!”

It seemed that she offered me a helping hand after seeing me looking troubled. She looked like a high-handed upper-class noble lady, but she seemed rather surprisingly attentive.

…I might get along well with her.

For the time being, let’s call her with the correct respect.

“My deepest gratitude, Dri— Lady Lieselotte.”
“—You were about to say Drill, weren’t you?!”
“…no, I would never. Maybe it’s just the wind.”

Seeing blue streaks of veins popping on Lady Ringlets’ forehead, I removed my hand from Viola’s grip and shook them off blithely.

That was close. The word Drill seemed to be a taboo for her. I guess I should call her by other names even in my mind to avoid stepping on that landmine. Maybe something like bread rolls or croissants.

“…you’re thinking something foul, aren’t you? I don’t know why, but I’m ticked off.”
“I absolutely, definitely, and undoubtedly am not.”



 

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