Title: Love Is
Characters: Nanny, Loulou, Oscar/André
Genre: Romance, Friendship, Family, Reflective
Words: 603
Notes: I had to look up one scene from the anime for this short story (it's so obvious which one), but it took me a few tries to find the right scene in the right episode. I kept getting emotional and not wanting to skip around, haha. Well, Happy Bastille Day to everyone. I hope this tiny little 'fic brings a smile to your face…or something! Warning: Unedited! Also, spoilers for the ending.

The news reached the de Jarjayes mansion two days after the deaths of its youngest two occupants. Oscar François de Jarjayes, 33, and André Grandier, 34, had been shot and killed.

For months afterward, Nanny could not help but think she saw them everywhere she went. In the end, she supposed it was habit to see them with rapiers in the yard, with the horses in the stables, around the house, because they had been there, that way, doing those things, for so long that it was difficult to understand that they would not be doing them again.

Almost without noticing it, the memories faded, receded. Voices that she could once recall so easily started to fade into the back of her mind. At first she blamed it on her age, for she was getting up in years and could neither hear nor remember very well anymore, but it wasn't long before she realized that the culprit was time, moving forward and leaving those who had stopped behind.

She no longer saw flickering, fleeting memory-images of André heading to the stables, heard Oscar call his name for a practice match. Instead, she saw tables and chairs, horses and hay.

Master de Jarjayes did not allow roses in the house, and Madame had let many of the servants go. Nanny stayed because she had always been there, because she, much like the de Jarjayes, lost something precious that could never be returned to her.

Loulou ran into the kitchen one afternoon, holding tightly to a book, her frock smudged with stains. "Nanny," she said, eyes bright, hair as bushy and wild as ever, "what is love?"

Nanny's fingers trembled and she almost set down her knife.

What a weighty question, she thought, but she continued peeling as if the girl had asked the weather, or for permission for a snack, something requiring a pause of thought, but nothing more.

"What is love?" she repeated, stalling for time to think.

And her mind raced.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love is given, a gift.

Love is earned, something treasured, something worth holding onto, something you can't forget—never forget, never surrender.

Love can build people up, it can tear them down. Love can make a person happy, it can make them sad.

Love is stronger than fear, and hatred, and sorrow, and loneliness.

Love cannot stop anything, least of all death, and you can't hurry it, rush it, but you can usher it in with open, welcoming arms, laughs, smiles, joy in your eyes and in your heart.

Love is fought over—and for—with swords and muskets and fists with a frenzy as feverish as one used to fight for freedom.

Love is bowed knees and, "Kill me first."

Nanny's thoughts stop there, on a memory, faded and frightening, a night that had been full of terror and fear and relief, in that order.

Love is not something you need a permit for, not anymore. If only he could see. If only they could see.

"What is love really?" repeated Loulou, tapping her feet impatiently.

Nanny set down her peeled potato and grabbed another, taking the moment to give the young woman a time-worn smile. "Love is…" she said, softly, slowly.

And Loulou sighed. "Nanny," she pouted, eyebrows drawn together in annoyance, "Love is what?"

And Nanny knew exactly how to answer that question, because love is hurt and joy and sorrow and pain and worth-it and so many other things rolled into one. It's not something that can be bottled, or explained, or saved for later.

"It just is," she said, as if it explained everything.