Author's note: I do not own Pumpkin Scissors or its characters. This is set after the end of the anime.
Peace Is Here
It was probably one of the best mission that they had undertaken in a long while. Not only had everything gone off with out much of a hitch, but Alice found herself enjoying thing a lot more than normal. It was too bad that not all of their efforts could go this smoothly. The Pumpkin Scissors team had been in the small town of Carine for almost a month now. They had mostly been here to supervise the rebuilding of some of the roads. Carine was really the gateway to some of the best timber in the Empire, and while it had not suffered very much during the war, it had spent a great deal of time cut off from the rest of the country. There had been several attempts previously to rebuild the roads in this area, but a corrupt official had been pocketing the money. Alice and her team were here to make sure that did not happen this time.
Of course, it had helped that said official had fled once he heard they were coming. Really, there had not been too much work for Pumpkin Scissors to do this time around, but that was fine by her. At least it would be one mission where Randel Oland didn't get hurt. And the attention that had been lavished on the town in the form of the Pumpkin Scissors team had done much to make the townspeople feel that their government cared for them. Alice herself was quartered with the town's seamstress, a widow named Gayla Ashke, since there currently was no working inn. She had found the woman good company, and Alice liked the simplicity of life here. However, there was one thing that was truly bothering her.
While the town had not suffered the way some had during the war, they had lost a number of people, and one of them had been the town toy maker. They had spent three years without him now, and it was something that had definitely affected the children of the town. While many people had been able to construct simple toys for the children, it was still a lack that was keenly felt. Alice couldn't help the tug at her heartstrings when she had overheard a little girl of eight tell her mother that all she wanted for Christmas was a blond doll with a blue dress. That was when the beginnings of a plan started to form in Alice's head.
She did a little research first, just to make sure that this was a good idea. But when she tentatively broached the idea with her host, Mrs. Ashke, the woman had thought it a good idea. And Alice did not mind spending her own money on a project like this. It's not like she had something better to spend it on. So the next time that Martis took their vehicle into the nearest large town in order to pick up some packages sent from Headquarters, Alice went with him. It did not take her long to find what she was looking for, and she spent most of her afternoon making her purchases. By the end of the day, Alice was pretty pleased with what she had accomplished.
There was really only one small problem. Most of the toys had come in a variety of colors. However, while the dolls had different faces and hair colors, they all wore the same brown dress. That would not do at all. Alice would have to figure out what to do about that latter though. She got the rest of her team to help her unload her purchases. Alice hadn't told them what she was planning. To tell the truth, she was always a little embarrassed when she got caught doing something like this by other people. They often made assumptions about why she was doing it, and Alice didn't always like having to explain herself. Especially when she had to do it multiple times.
In fact, no one other than Mrs. Ashke would have known what she was doing if it hadn't been for Randel Oland. He had nearly tripped over a cat on his way indoors with the last box of toys and that had jostled the box enough for some of the items inside fall out. Oland hadn't said anything, but he had turned an inquiring look on her, and Alice had found herself telling him her entire plan. He had smiled at her and told her it was sweet of her and asked how he could help.
So Alice had put him charge unpacking and sorting out the toys while she discussed the subject of doll dresses with Mrs. Ashke.
"So I was thinking that I could make new dresses or other clothing for the dolls. I can pay for the fabric and patterns, but I really don't know how to make doll clothes. I know how to do basic sewing, so that's not a problem. What do you think?"
The older woman smiled. "Actually, dear, if you're willing to pay for the fabric, I do not think you'll have any lack of help. I know that several of the mothers would want to make specific things for their children's dolls. I'll pass the word around."
It was not long before Alice was spending most of her afternoons with an impromptu sewing circle. It was an odd experience for her. For one thing, Alice was not actually used to spending much time with other women. For another, Alice was actually younger than most of these women, and they had very different life experiences. But all of them were kind to Alice if a bit reserved, and Alice actually did enjoy sewing. Her governesses had not been happy that Alice would rather spend her time sewing clothes than practicing embroidery. So it was nice to be around people who didn't look down on her sewing.
Every so often, one of the women would head back to the store of toys and select things for her own family and take them home. And in that way over the next week, all of the toys found their way to homes where they would be enjoyed by children. Alice was pretty pleased with herself to tell the truth. This would be one of the few times when her attempt at a gesture like this went over as well as she had hoped. And while Alice knew that she wouldn't be here when the children opened their gifts on Christmas morning, she also knew that she had made at least a small difference for the better in their lives.
There had been one woman who had demanded to know why Alice was doing this for them. And Alice had needed to look her in the eye and say, "Christmas should be special for children. I don't care if people give me credit or thank me, but I know what its like to be a disappointed child at Christmas, and if I can change that for other kids, then I will."
That apparently had been enough for the people here. By the time her team was ready leave, all of the dolls had new dresses and had been sent off to their new homes. Alice was a little sad when the team's mission was complete. She had enjoyed her stay here, and it really had felt like she had made a difference. Still it was time for them head back to headquarters as their work here was done. As the team loaded up their vehicle, Mrs. Ashke made her way over to Alice.
The woman held out a wrapped bundle. "This is for you. The other women and I put it together as a thank you. The whole town appreciates what you and your team have done for us, but we especially appreciate your efforts for the children."
"You don't have to thank me."
"We wanted to. Besides," Mrs. Ashke glanced over at Oland, "your young man suggested it. He thought you were looking rather wistful."
With that, the woman walked away leaving Alice with the gift. However, Alice didn't really have a chance to open the gift until after the group had gotten on the road. In a quiet moment when no one else was paying attention, Alice carefully pulled open the wrappings. Inside lay a blond porcelain doll dressed in a simple green dress that matched the dolls eyes. And tucked in along with the doll was a familiar yellow uniform just the right size for the doll. Alice couldn't help her smile or the soft giggle that slipped out. Oland glanced over at her with a smile. He blushed when she caught his eye, but Alice didn't care. As they continued down the snow covered road, Alice couldn't help but feel the spirit of the season.