She’s so Cheeky for a Commoner! 12

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What it Means to be a Lily.

“So, Rei… You’re what people refer to as a homosexual, aren’t you?”

It happened during our lunch break.
As we ate in the academy cafeteria, Misha suddenly thrust that question at the commoner.
Her approach was so direct that I nearly choked on my food.

“Ack, cough! Hey, Misha… Your approach aside, why would you poke something that just leads to trouble…”
“Misha-sama, I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss that sort of thing… Here and now?”

Lene agreed on the point that this topic was best avoided.

“I really don’t mind, are you curious?”
“As your best friend, I want to know.”

As though our apprehensions were blown away without ever reaching them, Misha and the commoner simply continued the conversation.
I really wouldn’t go so far as to say that I had taken an interest, but I couldn’t deny that I felt a little curious.

“Hm… I think you’re probably right.
I mean, I’ve never felt attracted to a man so…”

She spoke boldly as though she didn’t have a single care.
I had been suspicious of it ever since we had first met, but it seemed those suspicions had been spot on after all.
Almost reflexively, I put some distance between myself and the commoner.
The commoner immediately noticed and closed that gap, forcing me to retreat even further away.

“Why all of a sudden?”
“Because I sense danger!”
“Come on, you know I wouldn’t do anything like that!”
“Or so you say.”

It was abnormal for one to lust after the same gender.
Was it really okay to have such an individual as my personal maid? Who knew when or where, my chastity could just be―

She may be homosexual, but believe your reaction is far too prejudiced.”

I had not expected for Misha to say something like that.

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“In what way?”
“To illustrate, Claire-sama, you’re heterosexual, right?”

I’ve never felt attracted to another woman, not even once… W-Wait, that was different okay!? Onee-sama was just a bit of a misunderstanding… But I mean, if it were Onee-sama I… No, get a hold of yourself, Claire François!

“You like Sein-sama, don’t you?”

The commoner said that to tease me.
This girl somehow knew about my feelings, but really, how did she find out?

“Rei, enough of that, I’m trying to make a point.”

After shutting down the commoner’s attempt to change the subject, Misha continued.

“Claire-sama, if a man suddenly asked you not to sexually assault them, how would you react?”
“I’m not the sort of depraved woman that would do something like that!”
But that is precisely what you just claimed Rei to be.”
“… Ah.”

I was forced to realize my prejudice.
Broadly speaking, it stood to reason that homosexuals were not all that different from anyone else.
Their affections may be directed toward others of the same sex, but that didn’t mean that they were in a constant state of heat, or would direct their lust indiscriminately.
Even having realized that though, I couldn’t help but feel that some of my prejudice was born from the commoner’s own misconduct.

“W-Well… when it comes to love, what matters is the person, not their gender, right? In your case, that person just so happened to be a girl…”

Lene spoke in a cheerful tone, trying to loosen the tense atmosphere around us.

“Hm? That’s not quite right.”
“Gender is important.”

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According to the commoner, what Lene said was but another popular misconception people held about homosexuals.
It seemed obvious once I thought about it, but being homosexual meant that one did not have a sexual affinity for the opposite sex.
The thought that love does not discriminate was a beautiful one, but to living, breathing homosexuals, it was but fantasy.
So, according to the commoner, gender did factor in.

“Hm, so that’s how it goes.
I really didn’t know.”
“Well it’s not like there are many opportunities to find out, so I don’t blame you.”

Unlike the Naa Empire where same-sex marriage was allowed, homosexuality was much less common in Bauer.
Prejudice views like the ones just mentioned were not uncommon, and there wasn’t much in place to help people come to understand either.
Homosexuals as portrayed in plays and novels were either overly loose, as I had thought, or idealized romantics, as Lene had thought.
Now that we had the opportunity to hear someone’s experience first hand, it became so clear that our perceptions had been so far from the truth.

“Is there anything that you’d like for us to do more of, or differently?”

Misha was calm as she asked the question.
I could see that she truly treasured the commoner and was actively taking steps to understand her.

“Mm, not really? I mean I’m content just being able to admire Claire-sama day after day!”
“Hey, it’s precisely because you make such statements that I think you’re dangerous!”

Yes, admittedly, I had been prejudiced.
But it could not be denied that this girl herself had fostered that prejudice with her countless misdeeds.
Her actions practically invited misunderstanding!

Just as that thought crossed my mind,

“Honestly though, I just can’t keep up if I don’t play things up~”

Uncharacteristically, the commoner forced a weak smile.
No, that must have just been my imagination.
But still, contrary to the ear-to-ear smile that I was accustomed to, her current smile seemed… fragile.

“Rei… you…”

Misha cast a concerned gaze toward the commoner.

“I’m fine, really.
It’s just another unrequited love, I’m used to it.”

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The commoner claimed that she loved me.
From everything that she has said, it would appear that those were her true feelings.
However, I had no intention to reciprocate.

Why? So many suitors had tried to court me in the past that I thought that I had gotten used to it.
The fact that I wasn’t able to give a clear response to this commoner’s feelings, for some reason, made my heart ache.

“Rei, does that mean that you’ve given up on Claire-sama?”
“Geez Misha, really diving deep today aren’t we?”
“If I’ve upset you I’ll apologize.”
“It’s not that I’m upset… But well, hm… if you ask me whether or not I’ve given up, in a sense I have, but I also haven’t.”
“What do you mean, Rei-chan?”

Unable to grasp what the commoner was trying to say, Lene pressed further.

“I don’t expect Claire-sama to ever accept my feelings.
Claire-sama already has someone else in her heart, and I want to cheer her on.
So long as I can stay by her side, that alone is enough to make me happy… but―”

This time I was the one who asked.

“But if you ask if I’ve completely given up on a relationship with Claire-sama, then I haven’t.
In the end, I guess I just can’t~”

Once more, the commoner tried to play things up with a laugh, but it just didn’t seem to achieve her desired effect.
I knew it would be a mistake, perhaps my empathy had gone too far… but for a short moment―I felt a strong urge to embrace the commoner.

“Well, sometimes that’s just how things are.
Claire-sama, I ask that you let things continue as is.
Honestly, I’m pretty happy with how things are right now.”
“… Is that so…”
“Oh, but I mean, don’t hold back.
If you do fall for me, I’m all for that!”
“I won’t.”
“Knew it.”

Suppressing the inexplicable hesitation that I felt within, I promptly refused the commoner.

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“Alright, that’s enough of that.
Claire-sama, let’s move on and flirt as we usually do!”
“I will not! Not to say that we have before either!”
“Oh you, always putting a front.”
“Save the sleep talk for when you’re actually asleep!”

After that, everything returned to normal.
The commoner teased me, Lene comforted me, and Misha watched over it all.
Yes, just as things had been before… And yet, I now harbored a tiny―truly just a miniscule―interest in the commoner.
I couldn’t help but wonder… this girl who continually played herself as the fool… just how deep did her scars go?

“What now?”
“You hate me, right?”

She didn’t want my actual answer, she wanted the one that she knew.
So I decided that I would give the answer she expected.

“Isn’t that obvious?”
“Yup, knew it.”

The commoner laughed, seemingly content with my response.

“But I love you.”

I see, even though you know it will never be fulfilled, you choose to love anyway.
“Really though, things would be so much simpler if I could just fall for another homosexual~”

With that final mumble, the commoner returned to her usual self… Leaving me behind with an ache in my chest as I watched over her.

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