Before the Departure

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With our vacation to Euclid quickly approaching, Rei and I made a visit to the nearby town.
She told me she had one thing or another to take care of before our trip and asked that I wait for her in my room, but I convinced her to let me come along.
Why… You ask? H-Hmph! But a whim, nothing more.
This definitely had nothing to do with “that” which Rodd-sama and the others had incited just the other day.
Certainly nothing of such fickle nature!

“Just where are you going?”

I coldly threw my question at Rei who was very diligently shielding me with a parasol.
Since our incident with the Love Scales, I had been unsure where the boundaries between the two of us lay.
Perhaps as a result, I found myself often unwittingly harsh.

“I just had a little errand that I needed to take care of before our vacation.”
“A little errand?”
“It’s nothing much.
How do I put it… Just a precautionary measure to prevent something.”
“I can’t say I understand what you’re getting at.”

When I tilted my head, Rei returned a giggle.
What was that just now? Why must something so simple as a smile make my heart race? Goodness.

“But really, just what brought this on? I never thought you’d take interest in my personal affairs.”

Rei’s sudden question caught me off guard.

“… Nothing in particular.
There’s no deeper meaning behind it.
It was just a whim, I decided I wanted some fresh air, that’s all.”

Speaking the words with a forced ambivalence I swiftly turned my cheek the other way.
Urgh… No, it wasn’t like that.
That wasn’t it, that really wasn’t it!

“But Claire-sama, don’t you hate the heat? And you always hate being in direct sunlight…”

It was just as Rei said.
Under normal circumstances, to avoid the heat and the sun’s rays, I would have simply dismissed her, saying, “Go on and take care of it yourself.” Looking at things objectively, it was entirely out of character for me to do this.

“ENOUGH ON THAT! You should hurry and take care of your own business!”
“I suppose so…”

Rei gave me a perplexed look when I tried to rush us along, but eventually settled back to a smile… Phew, was I in the clear?

“So? Where exactly are we going?”
“We’re just about there… Here we are.”

Just as she said that, we came to a stop in front of a building.
It appeared to belong to a merchant, but I couldn’t imagine that they operated on a large scale.
Unlike the many grand shopfronts that catered to nobles, if I had to say, this one appeared to be geared toward commoners.

“The Tulu Company…? Did you need to buy something?”
“No, not really.
I just had something to discuss with the owner.”
“Hmm…? Well, whatever.
If you’re going in, let’s hurry.
The heat is just unbearable.”
“Yes, again if you had just waited at the―”
“HURRY!”
“Okay!”

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The commoner tried to circle back to that, so I rushed to enter the building myself.

“Welco…me!? W-Well, if it isn’t Claire-sama! Just what business might you have with our establishment…?”

The kindly old man who appeared to be the owner seemed to know me and rushed forward to greet me.

“I’m not the one with business.
Rei, hurry along and settle your business.”

With that, I sat on a couch in the corner of the shop.
Without looking for anything in particular, I looked around the shop.
Just as I had thought, it appeared to be a shop that catered to the commoners.
While they did at least provide the couch on which I sat now, it didn’t appear that they had any private rooms for discreet discussion.
High ranking nobility such as myself, hailing from House François, aside, I doubt even the average noble would be able to comfortably discuss business in a place like this.

“… Just what business could she have here?”

From what I could see, it appeared that Rei was somehow acquainted with the owner.
I didn’t know what relationship a simple servant or student would even have with a merchant, but Rei appeared very serious in her negotiations.

“Fufu, look at you, looks like you can make a serious face after all.”

Rei always had such a sloppy expression when she was around me, but right now she looked sharp and rather cool.
That’s right, her normal conduct aside, her looks weren’t all that bad.
It was just… Her usual conduct was of the utmost disappointment.

“But hm… They seem to be getting along quite well.”

Watching their cordial banter was beginning to get on my nerves.

“You shouldn’t let your guard down so easily around the opposite sex, Rei.”

Though there may have been quite the age gap, they were still man and woman.
There was no telling when a mistake could happen.
No, I wasn’t experiencing some vulgar, base emotion such as jealousy.
Absolutely not.
I just didn’t want some creep attached to Rei.
That’s right, I was only acting on my responsibilities as her employer.

“Really though… Rei is quite inconsiderate, isn’t she.”

I mean, I went out of my way to say that I’d accompany her in this heat… Would it kill her to be just a little more… more… You know? N-No, it’s n-n-not like I fancy this a date or anything! But still, she should be doing better as my escort.

“Come to think of it, I don’t really understand what a date is meant to be.”

I was well versed in how high society functioned and of course had knowledge of how dating relationships functioned between nobles.
The mainstays for a date would be appreciating art at a museum, enjoying music at a concert, or sharing conversation and a meal at a banquet.
At least that’s how it would have been between nobles.
But Rei was a commoner and I was a noble, so none of that knowledge applied.

“Come to think of it, Catherine did lend me this book, didn’t she?”

I retrieved it from my purse as I recalled last night’s events.

 ◆◇◆◇◆

“You have a friend that doesn’t know how she should approach her relationship with a commoner~?”
“Y-Yes, that’s right.”

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I asked Catherine for advice, ultimately insisting that I was inquiring on behalf of a friend.

“… Ooh… Hmm… Hrm~?”
“W-What is it?”

Catherine, who was lazing about reading a book on my bed rather than her own grinned.

“So, Claire-chan, this is about your friend, right~?”
“Y-Yes, it is.”
“Just for reference, could I ask for the characteristics of that friend~ and her partner?”
“Well you see…”

After a little bit of thought,

“My friend is a high ranking noble.
They are strong willed and have a difficult time being honest.
They can be a bit awkward and somewhat twisted.”
“Hmhm~?”
“Their partner is quite the peculiar one.
With no concern over my friend’s rank, they’re very aggressive, a go-getter.
My friend has developed some… Complicated feelings toward their partner.”
“Claire-chan, I’m really surprised at how objectively you can analyze yourself.”
“Didn’t I say that this was about a friend!?”
“… Well, I mean, it doesn’t matter to me~”

Clearing her throat, Catherine continued.

“Claire-chan, you don’t really read novels that often do you?”
“No, I’d say I read them a fair bit.”
“But if I had to guess, the genres you read are probably pretty narrow~ I bet you don’t read much romance~”
“How did you know?”
“I mean, stories of love between a noble and a commoner are the bread and butter of romance novels.”
“Is that so?”

It appeared there was still a lot that I didn’t know.

“Now that you mention it, what are you reading?”
“This? This is… What would the genre be… Well, it is a novel but~”
“Oh just let me see.
Let’s see, what do we have here? Twin Escape?”
“Ah, hey, Claire-chan.”

The novel that Catherine was reading described the daily life of two commoner twins.
Though there weren’t many dramatic developments, the daily exchanges the relaxed pair shared throughout the novel had its own appeal.

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“Give it back, Claire-chan.
I’m not done with it yet~”
“I kinda feel like I can relate to these siblings.”
“You’re just imagining things, so just give it back~”
“No, I’ll be borrowing it for the next bit.”
“I’ve only read half of it~! You tyrant~!”
“That outdoor activity homework… I’ll say that we did it together and write the report for you.”
“That’s the second volume you know~? The first volume is over there so take it and go~”

 ◆◇◆◇◆

And so, the book I held here was that first volume.

“I see, a home date… I didn’t realize that was something others did.”

It was true that with this we could eliminate the concern of nosy crowds, and, on top of that, Rei wouldn’t need to be on her toes about anything either.
This could be a good idea.

It was then that Rei’s negotiations with the owner ended.
I closed the book and stood.

“Did you finish your business?”
“Yes, at least for now.
I’ll be going then, Hans-san.”
“Of course, please do come again.”
“Claire-sama, let’s go home.”
“I bid you adieu.”

We left the shop and returned outside.
Rei pulled out the parasol without delay.
Not bad.

“We still have quite some time before curfew.
Hm… I’m feeling just a tad peckish.”
“Would you like me to make something for you once we’re back in the dorms?”

Rei did not seem to see through my veiled attempt to ask her to eat out.

“… Blockhead.”
“Sorry, what was that?”
“No, nothing at all.
Yes, yes.
Let’s just return home.
That’s what you want, after all!”

Upset, I left Rei behind and walked quickly.

“Claire-sama, you’ll get a sunburn!”
“It’s fine, I don’t care!”
“No it’s not, Claire-sama.
What would you do if you damaged your precious skin?”

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I turned to face Rei as she rushed, both to say those words, and to chase after me.

“… If my skin were to ruin, would you come to hate me?”
“Absolutely not.”

She gave an immediate answer.
Even though it likely wasn’t a question that she’d have expected me to ask, her answer was void of any hesitation.

“Is that so… Hmm…”

I desperately worked to prevent my expression from loosening and to keep my joy from spilling out.
And yet,

“Claire-sama, aren’t you acting a little strange today?”

Rei just had to go and say something like that.

“Just who’s fault do you think that is!”
“Eeh…”

Rei’s expression made it clear that she felt that my statement was unreasonable.
Goodness, even though I was the one that wanted to put on a scowl.

“Let’s hurry home! Once we’re home you’re making me a Crème brûlée!”
“Right…”

That would appease my anger for the time being.

“… Really, even though we finally got a chance for an excursion.”
“Did you say something?”
“I said that you’re an idiot, Rei!”

 ◆◇◆◇◆

“So uhm, Claire-sama, what are you doing reading in my room?”
“Oh just shut it, this is but the latest trend.”
“Is it? Uhm, Misha?”
“… Don’t ask me.”

Translator Note: Poor Misha… Rei please.

Really glad to be able to share Chapter 5 of SSCC with you all! There are a lot of cute moments between Rei and Claire, as well as some great moments between the side characters too.
I really hope you enjoy the chapter as much as I did translating it.

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