(Assumed) Runaway Loretta  

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※Told from the perspective of Pipi Barlier.

“Pipi, Pipi!”
“What is it, father? You’re so loud.”

At the onset of summer vacation I returned home.
While I was practicing violin in my room one day, my father called out to me.
My hands came to an abrupt stop, and when I answered, the door opened.

Baron Patrice Barlier―my father―was a finance official allied with Claire-sama’s household, House François.
Though quite good at what he does, he was also rather clumsy.
Though he was a smart man, he was known as a coward who lacked boldness―my father didn’t really have the best reputation.

『If they want to talk, just let them talk.』

My father was able to say that and simply laugh everything off.
For that, I respected him from the very bottom of my heart.

“Pipi, Pipi, it’s a disaster!”
“What’s happened, father? Please, calm down.”
“That’s what you say, but!!”
“Here, some water.”

That said, it was undeniable that my father was a bit of a coward.
As his daughter, I didn’t really like seeing him like this.

“Phew… Thank you, Pipi.”
“You’re very welcome.
So? Just what seems to be the matter?”
“That’s right.
Loretta-chan has run away from home.”
“… What?”

My dumb shock slipped into my voice.
Loreta… Ran away from home…?

“Tell me what happened in detail.”
“Of course.
Even after the holidays began, Loretta-chan seemed reluctant to return home so the Cugletto family filed a report with the academy…”
“And then?”
“Then, they found this on her desk at the dorms..”

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―Please don’t look for me.

She had left that note.

“… Oh my.”
“Don’t give me that, Pipi! What if something’s happened to Loretta-chan, what would you do!?”
“Father, please, calm down.”
“How could you expect me to be calm in a situation like this!?”

Father was rather agitated.
House Cugletto and House Barlier held deep ties, so to him, Loretta was like another daughter.
Of course he’d be upset if he heard that daughter had run away from home.

“Loretta is a noble.
Unlike a commoner, she isn’t in a social position to go wherever she pleases.
As such, her options are limited.”
“What do you mean?”
“Even if she were to exchange her possessions for money, I’m sure she’d only have enough to last a couple of days.
On top of that she’s lived her life with servants to care for her needs.”
“Hm, true.”
“She isn’t the clever type in these situations either so… It’s likely that the next place she’ll―”

At that very moment there was a knock on the door.

“Master, my lady, I beg your pardon.”
“Sebastian, we’re in the middle of something.
I’ll hear you out later.”
“No, you see―”
“It’s fine, Sebastian.
She’s here, isn’t she?”
“Yes, it is just as you say.”

When I urged him to continue, Sebastian, our butler, gave a troubled nod.

“She’s here…? It couldn’t be.”
“Just as I was saying, her options are limited.”

That’s right, Loretta had run away to us.

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“I want to follow Claire-sama on her vacation.”

Under the thought that it would be best for someone close to Loretta’s age to hear her out, she was brought to my room.
My father wanted to inform House Cugletto right away, but I convinced him to wait.
I thought it would be best to ask Loretta her reasons first.

“Follow Claire-sama? Why?”
“That girl, Rei, there’s definitely something off about her!”

One look at Loretta’s grim expression told me there was no convincing her otherwise.

“It’s not as though Rei’s peculiar behavior is anything new, is it? I mean, she’s always been an eccentric girl.”
“Yes, that’s true.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Claire-sama’s response to her has… You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?”

I understood what Loretta was trying to say.
The commoner’s… Rei’s advances toward Claire had continued for quite some time now.
Claire-sama had always found those advances irritating… But recently, the gaze she offered Rei seemed to take on a new hue.

Yes, the very same hue the girl in front of me directed toward Claire-sama.

“That girl somehow pulled the wool over Claire-sama’s eyes.
To prevent some strange mistake from happening… I must be the one to protect her!”
“… R-Right.”

I discreetly sighed so that Loretta wouldn’t hear as she made a desperate expression and steeled her resolve.
Anyone remotely close to Loretta knew that she held a deep affection for Claire-sama.
The only one who hadn’t realized this was Claire-sama herself.
That’s right, it was likely that even Rei had already figured her out.
Despite the fact that Loretta made it so obvious… Claire-sama really was quite the troublemaker.

“What specifically do you plan to do? Do you have the money?”
“I sold some of the accessories I’d been holding on to, so money shouldn’t be a problem but… I’m not good with directions, so I’m not sure how I’ll get around in Euclid…”
“So you’re going out on a limb here.”
“Don’t say it like that!”

Loretta looked like she was going to cry.
Please don’t make that face.

“But that’s not all, right, Loretta?”

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“You don’t actually want to return home, that’s another part of this, isn’t it?”
“… I guess I couldn’t expect to hide it from you, Pipi.”
“We’ve been with each other for a long time.”

In response to Loretta’s wry smile, I offered my own.

“Yup, I’ll admit it.
I don’t want to go home.
I mean, my hands are already full just with Claire-sama and my passion for music.”
“Right, if you were to return home, you’d have a lot of other stuff to deal with.”

Loretta was expected to be Bauer’s very first female soldier.
If she were to return home, I’m sure she’d be forced to undergo military training through her vacation.

“I know that I’m being selfish.
But both Claire-sama and music are very important things to me.”
“I know, and I don’t think of it as selfish, Loretta.
You’re doing great.”
“… Thank you.”

Loretta returned a shy smile.

“Well, I suppose it can’t be helped, I’ll talk to my uncle who lives in Euclid.”
“―! Pipi, thank you!”
“But in exchange!”
“In exchange, you’re going to have to take me along with you.”
“Pipi, you’re going to come too?”

Loretta looked at me like she was a lost child who, found by her mother.
I just couldn’t refuse her when she gave me that look.

“I’d be worried if I let you go all by yourself, and there’s something I’d like to look into as well.”
“Thank you.
Honestly, I was worried about having to go alone.”
“Think nothing of it, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

As I said that, I felt a slight pain in my chest.

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“Since that’s all settled, we must hurry and contact Count Cugletto!”
“Ah, wha!?”

My father slammed the door open and barged in.
Goodness, what a worrywart.

“Father, I must say it’s impolite for you to eavesdrop.”
“This and that are entirely separate matters! I’m sure she’ll be fine if you go along with her, but we must inform Count Cugletto as well.
He’s been worried about you!”
“… I’m sorry.”
“I’ll make sure Count Cugletto is informed, so father, return to your room.”
But if you’re planning to go to Euclid, make sure you prepare properly.”
“Of course.”
“Very good.”

After giving a satisfied nod, my father finally left the room.

“Patrice-sama seems the same as ever.”
“He’s quite the troublesome father.”
“But you know, I like Patrice-sama.
He’s entirely different from my dad, my dad’s such a stick in the mud.”
“You shouldn’t speak of him like that, Mr.
Cugletto is a good man.”
“… Sorry.”

Loretta awkwardly scratched the back of her head.

After that, I contacted Count Cugletto to inform him that we, House Barlier, would be looking after Loretta and told him to rest easy, as I would be with her.
It appeared having his only daughter run away from home had affected Count Cugletto quite deeply, so he replied saying that he was entrusting her safety to me.

“Alright then, Pipi.”

―To Euclid.

Translator Note: Loretta’s got it down bad for Claire… I wonder if her feelings will change and Pipi x Loretta will become a reality? Because, unfortunately for Loretta, we do know who Claire ends up with (slain)

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