That night after a pleasant review session, I lit a candle in the attic and was reviewing today’s lessons when I suddenly heard someone running up the ladder.
Another surprise attack!? I agilely turned to look behind me and saw a girl with waist-length silver hair and a large forehead standing in front of me.
“Y-you! Can you show me your test paper!?”
Those were her first words.
I was puzzled. What’s she saying after barging into someone’s room in the middle of the night.
Her face turned red in an instant, probably because I had replied to her in a cold manner. It probably wasn’t the effect of the candle shining on her.
Her shoulders were shaking and she was unable to produce her next sentence, so I had no choice but to speak to her.
“You’re Merry, aren’t you?”
“It’s Marylee! Marylee Belmandi! Don’t call me Merry!”
Another long name~. Sometimes I want to shorten Clifford’s name and call him ‘Cliff’, but I’m sure he’ll get mad at me if I do.
“Marylee, I see. I’m Aime. Nice to meet you again. So, what do you want?”
“I-I said can you show me your test paper.”
“You mean you want me to teach you? Alright.”
Marylee was trying to say something, but it seemed difficult for her to speak, so she shut her mouth.
I looked at her hands and saw that she was holding her test paper. I could see a bit of the contents too.
… Ah, I get it. I see.
“You want to check your answers with mine?”
I asked her and she nodded since I had hit the mark.
“That’s right! I also came here to hear what the commoner has to say! Be grateful!”
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks.”
I cleared my desk and invited her to join me.
“Put it here.”
“You want to check your answers with mine right? I can’t give you thoughts on the answer either if you don’t show your test paper to me.”
Marylee hesitated, but eventually relented and held out her paper which had most of the questions circled.
“I guess you have to retake the exam.”
“D-don’t laugh at me!”
She must have felt cornered and had summoned up all her courage to come here.
At this time, I was happy that she had asked me for help.
I put my books and test paper on the desk, offered her a chair and stood beside her.
“Let’s go through them one by one starting from the top.”
“I’ll memorise the answers if you give me your test paper.”
“Didn’t you fail this exam because you tried to memorise your way through?”
“Uh, guh…. T-that’s not true.”
I was spot on. Marylee is surprisingly cute.
As I reviewed her mistakes and showed her the corresponding passages from the textbook, it became clear to me that she had just memorised the textbook without thinking too much about the meaning behind the text.
For example, she couldn’t answer the questions even though they used the same grammar as the book just with different wording since she had memorised the sentences without understanding the sentence structure.
She also answered questions about the interpretation of Mitoan ideas with muddled sentences that didn’t make sense which suggested that she didn’t understand them at all.
But she had correctly answered all the questions which asked for the meanings of words.
She wasn’t a bad student, and it looked like she was trying. She’ll do fine as long as I correct her wrong assumptions.
The candle started running low after I had explained half of the test paper.
The wrinkles on Marylee’s forehead were getting deeper. This was probably all I can teach her for today.
“Come back much earlier tomorrow.”
I closed the book and said instead of announcing the end of our lesson and Marylee looked dumbfounded.
“You still need to study more, don’t you? I don’t think you’ll be bullied for being seen with me, so you don’t have to sneak up here late at night.”
I don’t think you were being sneaky at all though since you did make a lot of noise when you came up here.
She must have been afraid of something on top of her shy personality. I wanted to take away her fear, so I added those words.
“You… You’re not mad at me? It might be too late to ask you this, though.”
Marylee’s question really came a bit late.
“I’m not angry. You didn’t really do anything to me except for not letting me sit next to you.”
“That was because you sat down so suddenly.”
After quickly arguing back, Marylee stopped talking for a while.
“… I felt a little bad about it. I was surprised that other people started doing the same after that. I didn’t know it would turn out like that.”
Marylee fiddled with her fingers near her chest. She looked like a defensive child who was being scolded by their mother.
“I’m the daughter of a countryside noble, so I thought I had no power in the capital. I thought behaving in a way which wouldn’t make people look down on me was noble, but a commoner was the first person to talk to me in a friendly manner, so of course I was upset. Besides, that was where Matty was supposed to be sitting…”
Her voice gradually got quieter and quieter the longer she talked.
The way she’s acting resembles the timid boy who was covered in water with me before.
So, Marylee was mad that I sat down on a seat that she had saved for him.
“I see. I’m sorry, I should have checked first.”
There was no malice behind her actions. I had misunderstood her too.
Mary looked puzzled for a moment, then she looked away from me.
“… I heard you helped Matty the other day.”
Oh, it looks like the misunderstanding on her end has been cleared up.
Perhaps this was the best thank you she could manage.
I don’t know if she’s being honest or not.
I wonder if this attitude is called acting like a tsundere.
It went beyond charming and made me laugh a little.
“Is Matty your boyfriend or something?”
“N-no, he’s not! He’s my cousin!”
“Oh, really? You two don’t look alike at all.”
It was suspicious since she denied it so quickly with a red face.
It isn’t unusual. The light pigmentation in the hair and skin of the upper-class nobles was probably due to repeated intermarriages.
“Oh yeah, don’t call him Matty though. It’s disrespectful.”
“Alright, alright. I’m sorry. What’s his name?”
“So, his name is Matthias. You both have different surnames?”
“My mum is Matty’s father’s sister, and she married into the Belmandi House.”
She answered my questions without hesitation, almost as if she was no longer wary of me.
I wanted to talk to her some more, but I had to go to bed soon or else I wouldn’t be able to stay awake tomorrow. Besides, what I’ve learnt for the day will stick to me while I sleep. I won’t ask her any more questions.
“Introduce me to your cousin properly next time since we weren’t able to introduce ourselves properly last time.”
“… Well, fine. Matty also wanted to thank you.”
“The three of us should have tea together when your exam is over. When is it?”
“The day after tomorrow… Will I be alright?”
“You’ll be fine. Come here straight after school tomorrow. Don’t worry about it tonight and get a good night’s sleep.”
Mary nodded and got up from the chair.
Then she said, “Thanks,” on her way down the ladder before quickly pulling her head back.
It seems like I’ve made my first female friend since coming here.