He couldn't believe it. Haver's niece. There she was, Major Berenice Wolfe. He'd seen her name on the register. She was standing so near he could almost reach out and touch her sleeve. If he was alive of course. And he wouldn't just touch a lady's sleeve without introduction. Even if she was wearing impossibly tight trousers. He'd never been so grateful to see a lady. Because although she didn't resemble Havers to look at, she was the only link he had to the man he had loved.
He observed her carefully, almost hiding in the curtains as she walked over to the window and gazed out. They were almost side by side. He searched her face as if he could read her mind. Ever since she'd mentioned to Alison that her uncle had been stationed here during the war, Alison had been on alert. Enquiring as to the name of said uncle, Alison had stared at her with her mouth open, eyes blazing in delight while Major Wolfe looked rather concerned.
'Really sorry' said Alison with a gasp. 'He was here actually, was a good friend of someone I used to know. Someone he worked with during the war. In this house.'
Alison had a brief whispered conversation with the Captain and he'd almost trembled with anticipation. He had remembered that Havers had mentioned a sister. Here was his sister's child, all grown up and had until recently, been an army medic. The Captain puffed up with pride. The military ran in her veins. He didn't know what he expected but this tall middle-aged woman with messy hair wasn't it. She certainly looked intelligent. Of course she would be he thought. She was Haver's niece.
Alison had relayed the story of Bernie's last few years. Captain's respect for her increased when he learned that she'd narrowly survived being blown up twice. She'd even served on the continents of Africa and Asia. Not wishing to push her luck, she'd settled down working in a hospital in the suburbs somewhere with her children nearby and…this other woman? The one in the red coat. He wasn't sure. Even when she had kissed Bernie lingeringly on the cheek and Bernie had smiled mischievously, he wasn't sure of the exact nature of their relationship. He wasn't sure if he didn't dare to wonder or he was purposely not acknowledging it. He tried to remain impassive but it was difficult to when they looked so happy together. His heart ached and the thought passed through his mind that it would be preferable to be alive in this modern world if he could have had that. But only with Havers. Not with anyone else, no, no. That was too much to consider.
The woman turned her head to look directly at him. He felt his mask slip as she smiled at him. A smile that told him that she could see him perfectly well. Alison must have told her that he was there, whom he was. She must have.
'There's only one man in uniform here so you must be the Captain' she murmured.
He did his best impression of a deer in the headlights, a most unusual face contortion that he hadn't known he was capable of.
'My uncle spoke well of you. Held you in high regard.'
The Captain thought his heart may burst. So many things came to mind to say but all he could manage was a gasping breath. He tried to collect himself.
'Havers meant a lot to me.'
He didn't feel the need to elaborate. She didn't press him.
Later that evening she raised a glass of wine at the table to her uncle and his friend, glancing in the corner for a second.
The Captain looked pleased but there was an expression in his eyes that Alison thought hid a sob in his heart.
In all of his dead life, he'd never felt happier.