Silence surrounded the room as Reiji and Megumi stared at each other with wide eyes. Megumi noticed the open door and ran pass Reiji. She kicked it shut creating a loud slam. She then glared daggers at Reiji and tackled him onto one of the beds. Megumi placed her hands around his neck.
“I can’t let anyone know the truth,” whispered Megumi. Reiji grabbed her wrist trying to loosen her hold.
“Can you at least tell me why you are pretending to be a boy?”
Megumi was breathing heavily as she spoke.
“I have always pretended to make people happy. I can never be a girl now even when my family is gone.”
A tear managed to slip from Megumi’s eyes falling on Reiji’s cheek.
“I don’t want to kill you, so I beg of you, don’t reveal it to anyone.”
Megumi’s hold loosened on Reiji’s neck as she leaned her forehead against his chest. Reiji could hear the sadness in Megumi’s voice and decided that there must be a reason for Megumi to pretend. Reiji placed a hand on Megumi’s bare back as he spoke.
“All right, but you have to promise me that you will speak to me when you are having problems. I don’t want to see you alone.”
Megumi closed her eyes and nodded feeling the beating of Reiji’s heart. Reiji felt the breasts against his chest through his shirt and began to turn red.
“Can you also put on a shirt?”
Megumi got off of him and began to wrap the bandages around her breasts securely. Megumi then slipped on the vest making sure to loosen it so it didn’t hurt. She looked at Reiji and said, “You better keep your promise.”
“I will,” reassured Reiji. Reiji suddenly remembered the bath incident and looked down at Megumi’s crotch area.
“How come Bakura felt-um-how should I say this?”
Megumi sighed knowing what Reiji was talking about.
“It’s a second pair of pants that has cotton stuffing in the front. I wear it just in case someone doubts my gender. I may have stuffed it too much though.”
“I see,” said Reiji still as red as a tomato. Megumi opened the door and then looked back at Reiji.
“You better keep your promise or I will really kill you and I can make it look like an accident,” warned Megumi. Reiji gulped and reassured her again that he would keep Megumi’s secret. Megumi smiled and left the room.
Reiji remained on the bed still in shock. He only thought the others were being funny when they suspected that Megumi was a girl. Who knew that they were actually on the mark? Megumi already got rid of the other’s suspicions when she entered the baths with them and Bakura felt the bulge in the second pair of pants. He had no doubts about her being a girl now when he felt the developing breasts against his chest. Reiji turned red at the thought of Megumi’s breasts and felt a rush below his abdomen that he had never felt for anyone before. That’s when Reiji decided to remain in the dorm room for the rest of the day instead of going to the library to study.
Megumi strolled down the hall clenching her forehead. Never in her life has anyone discovered her gender not even her family. Her father might have known, but he took that secret to his grave. She was always the first son of the Yoh family, so there really wasn’t a reason to reveal her true gender. Now that she was an official in training, she definitely couldn’t tell the truth because that would literally mean death for her. She hoped that Reiji could keep his promise or she would really kill him as promised.
On the way to the archives she suddenly felt a familiar presence that sent chills down her back. Out of reflex, she leaped to the side narrowly escaping Yuki’s embrace. Yuki darted pass her with his arms outstretched and crashed into one of the pillars supporting the room. Yuki peeled himself off the pillar rubbing his red nose.
“That really hurt,” whined Yuki. Yuki glanced at Megumi and saw her retreating back. Yuki managed to grab her hand before she could go any further.
“What do you want?” asked Megumi with annoyance behind her voice. Yuki smiled as he pulled her into a hug.
“Hugging you is the best thing in the world,” said Yuki filled with total bliss. Megumi managed to slip out of his grasp and punched the top of his head.
“Don’t hug me!” screamed Megumi. Yuki rubbed his head with a dumb smirk plastered on his face.
“Every rejection is a step closer of you accepting my love.”
“Where did you get that logic?” asked Megumi, her eyebrow twitching. Yuki chuckled and said, “Well you have been rejecting proposals every day and I can assure you that more will come in the coming tomorrows.” Yuki embraced her again and added, “That must mean you are slowly accepting my love.” Megumi punched Yuki away and walked pass him.
“I have work to do, Yuki,” stated Megumi. Yuki tried to grab her hand again, but Megumi managed to slip her hand away and dash down the hall refusing to have any more contact with Yuki. Yuki cried out for Megumi, but Megumi was soon out of sight.
“You really look pitiful, my dear friend.”
Yuki flinched and looked behind him only to see his old friend and an official, Shigure Fuji, age nineteen, standing near a pillar looking at him. Yuki smiled when he saw Shigure and gave him a hug.
Shigure hugged Yuki back with a laugh. Yuki pulled away from Shigure and asked when he had returned from Eru Province. Shigure chuckled and stated, “I came back yesterday and only decided to come into the palace today.”
“Why didn’t you come to greet me immediately?” asked Yuki with a pout.
“Well you are an emperor and if I came back immediately I would be put to work.”
Yuki sighed at his friend for he knew that Shigure could be lazy at times. Shigure looked in the direction Megumi ran and asked, “So who was that boy?” Yuki burst into a bright smile.
“That’s Megumi Yoh: he’s the Diyuan this year. He’s just thirteen, but he is so smart and not to mention attractive at all angles.”
Yuki’s face turned red making Shigure look at Yuki with a questionable look.
“I did hear from Yosei that you had fallen in love with a young man at first sight, but I thought he was joking.”
Yuki chuckled and stated, “Megumi is the only person I could love.” Shigure’s eyebrow twitched at his friend’s unusual behavior. He remembered that Yuki was into his work and would only indulge in a woman’s touch once a month. Yuki was a strict emperor in Shigure’s memory. He never saw Yuki as a man who would fall in love with another man.
Shigure eyes suddenly widened and asked, “Is Megumi Yoh from Go Province?” Yuki nodded and added, “He got the top score in the Qualification exam in Go Province.” Shigure smirked.
“I thought his name sounded familiar. When I was twelve, I was brought to Go Province for training. That young boy, Megumi, was doing a lottery at age six. I played it once and got a well-made brush. The brush lasted for a long time. Megumi is truly an artist. I wonder if he still does the lottery.”
Yuki clenched his friend’s hand making Shigure look at his sparkling eyes.
“Do you have any other information on Megumi?” asked Yuki hopefully. Shigure laughed uneasily wondering how one young boy could change Yuki with just a glance.
Megumi entered the archives at last and shut the door behind her with a sigh. She didn’t want to take the chance that Yuki could barge into the room, so she locked the door. She opened the windows of the room letting in the light of the sun. She grabbed the files concerning the past budgets of Yulan and set them on the table. She grabbed a chair to sit on, but it wouldn’t move from its place. Megumi looked down and was shocked to see a hand holding the leg of the chair. Megumi traced the hand and saw that it was emerging from a huge stack of books that were piled in an un-orderly fashion.
Megumi could hear a muffled voice of a man chanting the words a priest would say to send off the dead. Megumi realized that the voice was from the stack and began to throw the books aside in a quick haste. As the books were removed a body of a man with black hair in a bun wearing an official’s red garment was revealed. The body was soon revealed and Megumi dragged him out into the light. Megumi slapped his cheek lightly.
“Hey, wake up.”
The man opened his eyes and looked up at Megumi’s aquamarine eyes. The man smiled and asked if he was in heaven. Megumi slapped him a little harder to bring him back to his senses. The man blinked in confusion and said, “What is this? I was sure that I was dead when the books fell upon me.” The man looked at Megumi and asked, “Did you save me?”
The man smiled and introduced himself as Naohito Shi, age twenty, and thanked her for her kindness. Megumi nodded and also stated her name to be polite. Naohito got up from the ground and tried to open the door, but it was locked.
“Looks like I am still not in luck,” said Naohito. Megumi suggested that he should just unlock it. Naohito nodded and turned the key, but as if lady luck had hated him, the key snapped and remained in the key hole. Naohito stared at the broken key and looked back at Megumi.
“Bad luck again, my friend.”
Megumi sighed wondering how a man could have such bad luck. Naohito headed to the window and said, “I’ll just leave though the window.” Megumi gasped and grabbed Naohito from behind. She warned him that he shouldn’t use the window and pointed out that they were on the second floor. Naohito sighed blaming his bad luck. Megumi sat Naohito in the empty chair and stated, “Just sit there while I organize these files and then I’ll help you out.”
“You’re very kind, young man.”
Megumi had no chair, so she was forced to organize the files, while on her feet. Because of having to calculate funds for her stand, she was able to organize ancient funds very easily. Naohito saw how fast she worked and smiled.
“Are you by chance an official in training?”
“What rank did you get?”
“I see, so you have the title of Diyuan like me.”
Megumi paused in her actions and looked at Naohito.
“You got the title of Diyuan when you passed the Imperial Exam?” asked Megumi in disbelief. Naohito nodded and added, “My luck was good than, but it suddenly vanished after the exam and I was forced to work in the library.” Naohito sighed at his misfortune. Megumi sighed and patted his head.
“Luck will return to you someday,” reassured Megumi. Naohito smirked at Megumi’s kindness. Megumi and Naohito suddenly heard the door rattle and looked toward it. Someone was banging on the door calling out Naohito’s name. Naohito smiled and said, “Chiriko, I’m in here.” The person, Chiriko it seemed, banged on the door harder, but the door wouldn’t budge. Megumi sighed.
“So your friend came to get you?”
Naohito nodded and added, “He’s actually my older brother, who also has the Diyuan title from his time in the Imperial Exam. He always worries that my bad luck would eventually kill me.” The banging grew louder, but the door still didn’t budge. Megumi gave out another sigh.
“I can’t work like this.”
Megumi crunched her knuckles as she approached the locked door. She looked back at Naohito and said, “Please cover yourself with something hard just in case.” Naohito nodded as he grabbed a stray book. Megumi looked back at the door and said, “Chiriko please step away from the door.”
Megumi punched the door open with her fist sending door fragments flying. Chiriko, the one on the other side of the door, felt the full force of the door and crashed into a nearby pillar. Megumi slapped her hands clean with fragments of the broken door around her. She looked back at Naohito, who had a book with a wood piece impaled into it in front of his face. Naohito lowered the book and looked at Megumi with wide eyes.
“You’re strong for someone so young,” complimented Naohito. Megumi smirked and said, “I train.” Megumi looked toward Chiriko, who was leaning against the pillar shaking in pain. Megumi gasped and ran to Chiriko. She knelt beside him and noticed the blood around his arm.
“I told you to stand back,” said Megumi as she began to tear a piece of her shirt from the bottom. Chiriko looked at Megumi and asked, “Who are you?”
“Megumi Yoh, now stay still,” said Megumi as she wrapped his arm. Chiriko cringed at the pain. Naohito exited the room and saw his brother leaning against the pillar. Naohito gasped and asked, “How did you end up like that?” Chiriko glared at Naohito.
“I just came to find you and discovered that you were in one of the archives. How was I supposed to know that the door was going to come crashing into me?”
Megumi tightened the cloth on Chiriko’s arm making him flinch. Megumi nodded at her work and then bowed deeply to Chiriko.
“I apologize for wounding you and I will prepare the door as well.”
Chiriko stared at Megumi and then looked at Naohito.
“So this boy helped you?”
Naohito nodded and explained what Megumi had done for him since he went into the archives. Chiriko found himself smiling and patted Megumi on top of her head making her look up at him.
“I hold no grudge, so please continue your work, while I take my brother back to his duties.”
Megumi nodded and stood up. She watched Chiriko and Naohito walk off and then walked back into the archives to work.
Chiriko looked at his bandaged arm and noted that it was well wrapped. He then realized that Megumi’s clothes were damaged because of the bandaging and made a promise to himself to get her a new shirt.
Megumi finished her work and decided to start fixing the door. She soon realized that she didn’t have her tools and began to head to the dorm room. On the way to the dorm room, she bumped into Nakago. Nakago grabbed Megumi’s shoulders thinking she was going to fall and asked if she was all right. She slipped from Nakago’s grasp and nodded.
“A tiny bump like that won’t knock me over,” stated Megumi. Nakago chuckled and then paused when he noticed Megumi’s exposed stomach. His face heated up as his nose threatened to bleed. Megumi noticed how red Nakago had become and reached out to him.
“Are you OK, Nakago?”
Nakago flinched and backed away. He suddenly remembered the bath incident and covered the bottom of his face.
“Why were you born a man?”
Megumi didn’t hear his words as Nakago dashed away eager to get out of Megumi’s sight.
Megumi looked in the direction Nakago ran and shrugged thinking that maybe Nakago was hot from the weather. Megumi continued on her way.
On the way to the dorm room, she saw Mannen in a corner scrubbing it down with a rag and a bucket filled with water by his side. Megumi greeted him to be polite. Mannen looked at Megumi and gasped when he saw her exposed stomach. He slipped on the wet floor knocking over the bucket. Megumi gasped and ran to him.
“Let me help you,” offered Megumi. Mannen slapped her hand away and stated, “I don’t know who you are, but don’t go around with your stomach exposed like that.” Megumi sighed at Mannen knowing full well that he had forgotten her again. Megumi slapped his cheeks at the same time making Mannen gasp in surprise. Mannen gripped his cheeks demanding why Megumi did such an action.
“So you can remember me. I am tired of you forgetting, so remember the name Megumi Yoh through pain,” scolded Megumi and then walked off. Mannen watched Megumi’s retreating back and scoffed.
Megumi finally reached the dorm room. She swung open the door and immediately noticed Reiji in his bed. Megumi approached Reiji and tapped his shoulder. Reiji gave out a quick scream and looked at Megumi with the blanket covering the bottom of his face. Megumi chuckled.
“Decided to sleep after the shock?” asked Megumi in a teasing manner. Reiji’s lips opened, but no sound came out. Reiji’s eyes bugged out when he finally noticed Megumi’s exposed stomach. He wrapped the blanket around her to her surprise and screamed, “Don’t expose your stomach!” Megumi groaned and tossed the blanket at Reiji’s face.
“Fine, I’ll put on a new shirt,” retaliated Megumi. Megumi removed the remains of her shirt making Reiji blush.
“Don’t you usually dress up fast?” asked Reiji as he covered his eyes. Megumi scoffed.
“You already know my secret so there really isn’t any need for me to change fast when we are alone.”
Megumi dug in a drawer pulling out a dragon patterned shirt she made herself. She slipped it on casually. Reiji wanted to watch her change, but his conscious prevented him from doing so. Megumi adjusted her shirt and then looked at Reiji.
“I’ll just grab my tools and then you can continue to rest.”
With that, she reached under her bed and pulled out her old bag. Inside the bag were tools that she managed to buy a few days before. She immediately left the room with Reiji staring at her retreating back. Reiji remembered her exposed stomach and clenched his head wondering why her clothes were like that to begin with.
Megumi returned to the broken door and began to repair it. As she repaired the door, she didn’t notice Mori watching her work. Mori hid behind a pillar as he watched her work. Truth be told, he was there when Megumi broke the door down. He had never seen such a man with such strength and was even more determined to have Megumi as a soldier than as an official. He was ready to approach her until he saw Ayumi Mutou, age seventeen and Yuki’s concubine, entering the hall.
Ayumi was sent as a concubine when Yuki gained the throne by one of the officials. Mori found himself in hiding again as he stared at the radiant Ayumi. He knew that he was in love with her when he first saw her, but kept his feelings a secret because he respected his emperor and didn’t have the heart to betray him.
Ayumi walked down the hall carrying a covered basket. Ayumi looked around cautiously trying to conceal the basket with her sleeve. Ayumi stopped in her tracks when she saw Megumi in her path repairing the broken door. Ayumi gulped and tried to sneak behind Megumi.
“I presume that you are hiding something by trying to sneak by me,” Megumi stated suddenly making Ayumi gasp in surprise and fall against the wall. Megumi looked back at her making Ayumi press harder against the wall.
“I guess I’m right,” stated Megumi. Ayumi’s mouth opened repeatedly, but no words came out. Megumi noticed the basket and asked, “Are you hiding something in the basket?” Ayumi shook her head trying her best to conceal the basket. When Ayumi turned the basket, a small meow escaped from it. Ayumi froze as Megumi stared at the basket. A cat’s head popped out from the basket and gave out a small meow.
Ayumi tried to push the cat’s head back in, but to no avail. Megumi pointed at the cat and asked, “Why are you trying to hide the little guy?”
“I don’t want others to see him or they will try to take him away,” stated Ayumi with her hand on top of the cat’s head. Megumi stared at the cat and noticed the desperate look upon his face.
“Go easy on him,” stated Megumi. The cat suddenly leapt from the basket and into Megumi’s arms. Megumi caught it as the cat buried his head into her chest. Megumi looked at Ayumi and saw her reaching toward the cat with sorrow in her eyes. Megumi sighed and held the cat to Ayumi.
“I won’t take the cat away from you,” stated Megumi. Ayumi grabbed the cat and cuddled him like a doll. The cat meowed in protest. Megumi placed a hand on Ayumi’s shoulder and said, “If you want the cat to stay with you, then don’t be so affectionate.” Ayumi nodded and loosened her hold. The cat took this chance to grab hold of Megumi’s chest. Ayumi whimpered, while Megumi sighed.
Megumi peeled the cat off of her and held the cat at eye length.
“Get this straight, I am not the owner. This young lady is your owner, so show her some respect, understand?”
The cat lowered his head and nodded. Megumi nodded and handed the cat back to Ayumi. Megumi reminded her not to be too rough as Ayumi caressed the cat gently. This time the cat purred and cuddled against Ayumi’s chest. Ayumi smiled. She looked at Megumi and thanked her repeatedly.
“This is the first time Snowflake has ever remained in my embrace with someone around.”
Megumi watched Ayumi pet the cat, Snowflake, and remembered her dead sister and how she would caress animals. Megumi smiled and found herself petting Ayumi’s head making her look at Megumi.
“My name is Megumi Yoh and you are?”
“Ayumi Mutou, a concubine of the palace.”
“Well it was nice to meet you and Snowflake.”
Megumi withdrew her hand and went down to her knees to pick up one of her tools.
“I need to finish fixing this before the day ends, so farewell, Ayumi.”
Ayumi nodded and began to walk away with a more obedient Snowflake. Ayumi stopped in her tracks and looked back at Megumi.
“Will I be able to see you again?”
“You might see me in the library once in a while during my training as an official,” stated Megumi as she hammered a wood in place. Ayumi hugged Snowflake lightly and asked, “Is it alright for me to see you again?” Megumi looked back at Ayumi and nodded with a smile.
“I’ll look forward to it, Ayumi.”
Ayumi’s heart skipped a beat at Megumi’s charming smile. Ayumi grabbed the basket and ran down the hall not noticing Mori by the pillar. Mori watched Ayumi run off and noticed the blush against her cheek. He looked back at Megumi and clenched his fist. Despite the clenching of his heart, he still wanted Megumi as a soldier.
Mori took in a deep breath and marched toward Megumi. Megumi continued to work on the door as Mori stood behind her. Mori cleared his throat loudly getting Megumi’s attention.
“Mori, what brings you here?” asked Megumi as she placed her hammer down. Mori pointed toward the door and asked, “Can you explain to me how you were able to destroy this door with such a small body?” Megumi looked at the broken fragments of the door.
“I train a lot and I have been stronger than normal people since I was young,” stated Megumi. She then looked up at Mori and asked, “Why do you ask?” Mori knelt in front of Megumi and held her shoulders.
“I told you this last night, but you are more suited to be a soldier, so please change your mind about being an official.”
Megumi frowned and pulled away from Mori’s grasp.
“I will never change my mind and if you keep insisting then you should leave me for today,” remarked Megumi. Megumi grabbed her tool from the floor and continued to repair the door. Mori sighed knowing that Megumi wouldn’t listen to him any further for the day and began to walk away.
Megumi finished the door before the day ended and wiped the sweat off her brow. She stood on her feet with her tools in hand. She walked down the hall that was almost completely covered by darkness. She walked pass a window, but stopped in her tracks when she noticed a shadow pass by the window as well. Megumi pulled out a hammer from her tools and placed the remaining tools down. She peeked out the window, but saw no one in sight. She sensed something from above and pulled back just as a dagger rushed pass her head and impaled the grassy ground outside. She leapt back just as an assailant jumped through a window with five daggers in his hand. The assailant was wearing green clothing with a cloth covering the bottom half of his face, but she could see the mark of an assassin on his forehead. Megumi went into fighting stance with defiant eyes.
“Why is an assassin like you here?” demanded Megumi. The assassin chuckled as he drew out three daggers from his sleeve. He threw them at Megumi with the intent to kill and then rushed at her. Megumi blocked the daggers using her hammer and then did a back flip to avoid the assassin’s flying kick. The assassin clicked his tongue and glared at Megumi.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” demanded the assassin. Megumi kept her fighting stance stern and said, “Why should I tell you?” The assassin growled pulling out a long sword that was attached to his back. He pointed the blade at Megumi and said, “I will dispose of you to regain my honor as an assassin.” Megumi raised an eyebrow as she dodged the assassin’s blade.
“Regain your honor? Did I do something that destroyed your honor as an assassin?” asked Megumi as she did a back flip in the air to avoid the assassin’s attack. The assassin glared daggers at Megumi as he gripped the blade in his hand.
“Your prevented me from killing a target and even wounded me,” hissed the assassin. Megumi thought a while and came to the realization that the assassin was the one she shot an arrow at back when she was protecting Ayame. Megumi smirked and asked, “Your honor is wounded, but is your arm OK at least?” The assassin swiped his blade at her, which she dodged.
“Whether I get paid or not, I will kill you!” yelled the assassin as he tried to slice Megumi down. The assassin swung his blade down at Megumi, but Megumi used her hammer to block the blade. Using the edge of the hammer, she hooked the blade and then forced it out of the assassin’s hand sending it flying out the window. Megumi rushed at the unarmed assassin and held the sharpest part of the hammer at his neck. The assassin was frozen in place as he looked at Megumi with wide eyes.
“I have your life in my hands. I can either kill you now or let you live,” said Megumi. Megumi removed the hammer from the assassin’s neck making the assassin bewildered. Megumi lowered the hammer and stated, “Killing you isn’t worth it.” Megumi turned away from the assassin and headed for her tools.
The assassin took this chance to pull out a dagger from his other sleeve and throw it at Megumi’s back. Megumi dodged to the side, but the dagger was able to tear off the side of her shirt. Megumi glared at the assassin and asked, “Are you that desperate to die?” The assassin was ready to pull out another dagger, but paused in his actions when he caught a glimpse of a mark on the side of Megumi’s hip. The assassin gulped and backed away making Megumi confused. The assassin jumped backwards onto the opened window staring at Megumi seriously.
“You defeated me, but I will be back to kill you.”
The assassin jumped out the window. Megumi peered out the window, but saw no sign of the assassin. Megumi shrugged deciding not to report him and began to gather her tools.
The assassin jumped through the trees to get away from the palace, but his mind was filled with Megumi and the mark on her hip. The assassin gritted his teeth feeling fear invade his heart at the thought of the mark.
Megumi walked through the empty halls with her tools by her side. She placed a hand on the mark on her hip and whispered her master’s name. She pulled a piece of the torn shirt over the mark and made her way to her dorm room. She opened the door only to see Boshi and Sora in their beds fast asleep and Reiji at the corner desk going over his notes with a small candle as his only light. Megumi placed her tools to the side and then peeked over Reiji’s shoulder.
“Studying again?” asked Megumi. Reiji blushed at the sound of Megumi’s voice and looked over his shoulder. Reiji’s blush deepened when he realized how close Megumi was to his face. He gasped nearly falling off his chair.
“Please don’t sneak up behind me,” begged Reiji trying to control the rising rate of his heart. Megumi nodded. Reiji regained his composure, but his composure faltered again when he saw Megumi’s torn shirt. Reiji pointed at the damaged shirt and asked, “Why is your shirt torn again?” Megumi clenched the torn fabric.
“It got caught on a piece of wood. I can repair this easily, so no worries,” said Megumi. Reiji sighed and said, “You have to be careful. You can’t let anyone know your secret.” Megumi nodded. She pulled out her night attire from the wardrobe and changed into it quickly. Reiji stared at Megumi wondering if Megumi used magic to change out of her clothes so fast. Megumi adjusted the collar of her night shirt and then crawled into her bed. She looked at Reiji and said, “Go to bed soon, Reiji.” Reiji nodded.
Megumi curled up in her bed drifting off to sleep. Megumi didn’t know, but Reiji had longed stopped studying and was just intent at watching her sleep. Reiji’s cheeks were red as he watched Megumi’s sleeping form with his heart beating. He had no idea how he was going to keep her secret if he couldn’t control the emotions that were slowly becoming more apparent.