Author's note: I do not own Pumpkin Scissors or its characters. This is set after the end of the anime. Happy All Saints Day.
"Captain Hunks, I'm afraid I'll need to request tomorrow off."
The second lieutenant's request startled everyone in the office. For her to ask for a day off was unheard of.
Captain Hunks surveyed her over the top of his newspaper. "Is there a specific reason for the leave?"
Hunks shrugged. "I don't see why it would be a problem. Go ahead and take the day."
"Thank you, sir."
The entire unit was curious now, but the second lieutenant didn't say anything more. No one could come up with a plausible reason for her leave or could think of something significant about the date. And it was clear that the second lieutenant wasn't going to give them so much of a hint. They would all have to just live with their curiosity.
Alice wears her uniform. She thought about wearing civilians clothes, but the uniform feels right. Besides, people don't take much notice of another soldier on the streets. She stops at a florist to pick up the flowers she needs. Alice knows exactly what she wants: one bouquet of edelweiss (symbolizing daring and noble courage) and one of sunflowers (for homage and devotion). Once she has the flowers, she continues on her way. She planned on walking there from the beginning. Alice didn't want to share this with any one else, not even family.
It wasn't that she didn't her think her sisters and father didn't share her sorrow. It was just that they had very different manners when it came to expressing emotion, and Alice wasn't sure that they would understand what this meant to her. The ritual was too important to her to have it marred. The walk to the cemetery is longer than she thought, and it gives her time to think about her family. She loved them, yes, but she rarely felt like she fit in with them. She had always been the out one out. Alice had always felt closest to her grandfather. He was one of the two people she was visiting today.
She wasn't the only one at the cemetery, but the other mourners left her alone. Alice appreciated it. She wasn't sure if she could deal with someone's sympathy at the moment. It was not hard to locate the area where the Malvin family was buried. They had their own mausoleum as well as small plots and gravestones. Alice went to her mother's grave first. The sunflowers were for Melina Sarah Malvin. She only vaguely remembered her mother quite honestly, but Alice hoped the woman would be proud of her.
"Hello, Mother. I hope you are well. I know I haven't visited very often. We've been very busy lately. It seems ever since Corporal Oland joined my unit things have been a little crazy. You would like him I think. He's awfully gentle, but he always comes through for us every time." Alice smiled. "He fits in well with the others. I really enjoy working with him, though there are times when I wish I could do more for him. I don't think he's had an easy life. Anyway, I'm sure you don't want to listen to me prattle on about work. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the flowers."
Alice bit her lip. "I love you, Mama."
Making her way to the next grave, Alice couldn't help wondering if she was silly to try and visit every year. It probably made no difference to her mother or her grandfather. It makes her own grief a little lighter though. With a smile, she set the edelweiss down before her grandfather's monument. Then she saluted.
"Hello, Grandfather. It's been a while." Alice smiled. "Section Three is doing quite well. We've had some interesting adventures in the past few months. It doesn't always feel like we're getting things done, but I know we're making progress. Even if it is slow. I'm very happy with my military work and career."
Then she sighed. "I'm not so sure about my personal life. We believe that my fiancée might be in league with a conspiracy of people who are harming the Empire and the people. I'm not sure what to do. If I stay engaged to him, we might be able to use that to gather the evidence we need to arrest him and his coconspirators. There's also the fact that I don't want to marry him. I never really loved him in the first place, but I was willing to my duty for the family before. I'm not so willing now. I…I might have feelings for someone else."
Alice shook her head. She hadn't come here to try and sort out her feeling about Randal, Lionel, and everything else. As much as she wished that her grandfather could give her advice on the matter, that was impossible. Besides, Alice was a little afraid of what the man might have said. For all she knew, he would have advised her to be honorable and see the engagement through or immediately break it off once she knew of Lionel's wrongdoing. And she wasn't quite sure what her grandfather would think of Randel Oland. She hoped he would approve, but she didn't know for sure. Alice sighed. Her own doubts and concerns were clouding her mind.
"You're not Alaric's little Alice are you?" a voice came from behind her.
Alice started and turned to face an older gentleman who looked vaguely familiar. "I'm Alice Malvin, yes."
The man smiled. "You probably don't remember me. We've only met a handful of times when you were a child. I'm Ehren Maddox, a friend of your grandfather's."
Alice blinked. She did remember him vaguely. Mr. Maddox would come over and play chess with her grandfather.
"Are you here to visit my grandfather as well, Mr. Maddox."
"Yes, though it is rather fortuitous that I ran into you here." At her raised eyebrow, he just smiled. "Give me a moment, and then let's take a walk. I have something to deliver to you from Alaric."
She waited patiently while he paid his respects to her grandfather even though her curiosity was eating her alive. What could her grandfather have given him for her? And why deliver it now? Alaric Malvin had died years ago now. Mr. Maddox finally returned to her side.
As the two of them started walking through the graveyard, Alice did her best to keep a lid on all the questions that kept bubbling up.
"You must be around eighteen now, Lady Alice, and a lieutenant in the military to boot. Alaric would be proud. He always hoped that your family would continue to serve in the military." Maddox shook his head. "I've always thought that Alaric was happiest when he was in the military. It was one of the few places he felt able to just be himself. And it was how he met your grandmother after all."
"I hadn't realized that." Alice actually didn't know anything about her grandparents' courtship. She had assumed theirs had been an arranged marriage.
"Oh yes. Actually, it was a classic case of mistaken identities. Alaric wasn't originally supposed to marry Elise, you see. He was supposed to marry her older sister, Adelle. But Elise was a field nurse for the military and ended up assigned near to where Alaric's unit was stationed." Maddox laughed. "At the same time, Adelle had met a young man by the name of Alaric and had fallen in love with him. Your grandfather thought that Elise was his betrothed, and Elise thought that the Alaric in her sister's letters was her sister's betrothed. It all worked out in the end though. Oh there was a big fuss over it all, and it did take quite a bit of work to manage happy endings for everyone, but there was a double wedding by the end of the year."
Alice just shook her head, smiling. "I wouldn't have guessed that. I never knew much about Grandmother Elise."
"You're very much like her. Actually, you're like both her and Alaric in a number of ways. You're a credit to the Malvin name."
She blushed. That was nice to hear. Alice rarely heard that from her father or sisters. "I hope so."
"You are. Those years that you lived with Alaric were the happiest he had after Elise died. He was proud of you then, and he'd be proud of you now." He held out an envelope to Alice. "I saw your grandfather shortly before he died. He gave this to me and asked me to pass it on to you when you came of age. I figure eighteen is old enough."
The envelope was thick cream colored parchment paper, and it was sealed with the impression of the family crest in sealing wax.
"I'm not sure what's in there, but it was important to Alaric that you have it." Maddox smiled at her. "You've grown into a fine young woman, Alice Malvin. I look forward to seeing what you do with your life."
And with that he took his leave of her, leaving Alice behind holding the envelope. She searched for a bench to sit down while she opened it. Alice frown when she realized her hands were shaking, but she broke the seal and opened the envelope. Inside she found a several folded pieces of paper. The packet was slightly heavier than she had expected, and when she unfolded it, something dropped into her lap.
She frowned as she picked it up. It looked like two sets of military dogtags, except that they didn't have the typically information engraved on them. Instead, both tags bore the same two quotes. "From this day forward, you shall not walk alone. My heart will be your shelter, and my arms will be your home." was engraved on one side and on the other was "When love is not madness, it is not love. One of the two chains was longer than the other.
Alice turned her attention to the letter.
My Dear Granddaughter,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know that you will grow up to be a fine young woman. You have always done your family and your station in life credit. I have no doubt that you will continue to do what is right despite the consequences. And that is why I have written this letter for you, Alice. Filial piety and honorable conduct is well and good, but there is one area where I wish you to consider other things first and for most. When it comes to the matter of your marriage, I wish you to make your decisions with your heart. Your husband should be your true partner, someone you love with all your heart.
That is not a conventional opinion for our class, I know. But the four months I spent separated from Elise never knowing if we would ever be together again were the worst of my life. The dogtags were her idea. A way for us to be connected even when we were apart. Things did work out in a way that everyone was satisfied with, but it could have easily ended with the two of us separated by loveless marriages. I realize it is easy to say this now, Alice, but I know that I would have ended up going against the family's wishes and marrying my Elise anyway if she would have had me.
The best way you can honor my memory, Alice, is to marry the man you truly love. I wish you a long, happy life, and one that is full of love. I pass Elise and my tokens along in hopes that someday you will have someone to give the other to.
Your Loving Grandfather
Alaric Llewellyn Malvin
She didn't quite know what to make of the letter. While it didn't quite match her memories of the man, Alice would admit she had only been a child when he had died. Though it did match the kindness she remember from him, and she knew how much he had loved her grandmother even if she had never known the woman. It was the advice that she had wanted from her grandfather. Even so, Alice wasn't entirely sure what she should do next. Quite honestly, she didn't know if Randel felt the same way about her. But the letter gave her a sense of confidence she hadn't had before. Refolding the letter and tucking it and the dogtags into her pocket, Alice got to her feet.
The second lieutenant returned to work without so much as a comment about where she had been. The only difference was the small bouquet of forget-me-knots she had brought to the office. Still, Lieutenant Malvin seemed to be in a good mood, and the others all breathed a sigh of relief. Most of them wouldn't exactly admit that they had been worried about her, but it was good to know that their lieutenant was fine. And since there was currently no mission to undertake at this very moment, the mood in the office was quite pleasant.
But there were a few little changes that some people noticed. Oreldo couldn't help noticing how much mellower the lieutenant was today, or maybe she just had something on her mind, but what ever it was, he hadn't gotten scolded for being five minutes late coming back from lunch. It doesn't escape Stecchin that Second Lieutenant Malvin's smiles for the corporal are warmer today and definitely happening more often. And Martis doesn't miss that there's a relaxation about her that has been missing for months now. Hunks is just pleased that for once there hasn't been some sort of disaster and that the office remains calm.
Corporal Oland doesn't notice much besides the fact that Alice does seem happier than before. Her smiles have always made his heart speed up a little, so that really hasn't changed much, though she does seem to be smiling more today. He's glad she's all right. He worries about her a fair amount, especially when she disappears off somewhere without telling the rest of their unit. But Alice is fine, and really, it's just another day at State Section Three, albeit a rather uneventful one.