Ever since the royal ball, Perceval’s personal servants began to notice a slight change in his behavior. Somehow, it seemed as though he’d shifted some of his external criticisms inwardly, and begun to focus even more on perfecting himself. They were relieved to discover that he was noticing less about them and their various faults and deficiencies, and instead investing most of his energies into himself. Perceval got up earlier each morning and spent longer getting ready, he ate less, and he dedicated hours to going over all of his uniforms and having them all refitted and adjusted so that their fit was flawless. While Perceval was thoroughly disliked by all the servants of his manor, they couldn’t help but felt sympathetic, as he seemed to be of the notion that his cause was one of desperation. He never seemed satisfied with himself, and Perceval was always looking to make sure he made himself better for, perhaps, some of the servants speculated, someone particularly special.
It was on one of the mornings that Perceval skipped breakfast to spend extra time on his hair that something unusual happened at work. He arrived at the office early, as usual, and as always, he bowed sweetly to Major Mauvais, doing all that he could to be polite, attractive and appealing, before heading to his desk, disappointed that he’d received only the typical nod of recognition—nothing extra, even after the ball—and took his seat, keeping his face as cheerful as he could manage. Foolishly, it took Perceval a full minute to notice the ornate vase and the sprigs of magnolia it held so elegantly, and when he did notice, he was so taken aback that he looked down quickly at his papers, as if expecting the beautiful display to vanish by the time he next looked up.
When it was still there, Perceval sprang to his feet and immediately started scouring the area for a card. After five minutes of searching everywhere, Perceval came to the conclusion that the gift was meant to be anonymous. He sunk back into his chair and went over every acquaintance he had in the military, trying to decipher who had sent him the gift. After all, it was very important he sent something in return; he’d hate to seem ungrateful. Then, there was the matter of the meaning of the flower; beauty. Perceval blushed at the thought and scanned the room quickly. Was it possible that someone else in the office had seen whoever left the vase? Perceval decided it was unlikely, and returned to his paperwork. He’d have to think the matter through more thoroughly on his own time; he didn’t want Major Mauvais to think he was being negligent of his duties.
Algernon watched out of the corner of his eye as his gift was received. The Lieutenant seemed to be more confused than anything, but Algernon was determined to change that. In the time since the fateful evening in which he had become so thoroughly taken with Lt. Rousseau, he had solidified his plan. Through a series of gifts and playing hard to get, he would win his subordinate over for sure. The series of flowers he had chosen to give he chose for their meanings, going from subtle to completely obvious- yet all completely anonymous. It was genius, really, and Algernon was very proud of it. Now to snare his prey, then everything would be perfect.
As the day moved on, Algernon rose to survey the room idly. When he reached Lt. Rousseau's desk, he offered a kind smile. "What lovely flowers, Lieutenant. Someone must care for you very much to have sent you something so beautiful. Might I inquire as to who he or she may be?" He made sure to stay polite; he couldn't incriminate himself, after all!
Perceval watched devotedly as Major Mauvais moved through the room, only averting his eyes once his superior was close enough to notice that he was being watched. Perceval was startled when the Major addressed him, and he blushed furiously at the question. The last thing Perceval wanted now was for the Major to get the wrong idea! “I-I have no idea at all, sir!” Perceval said quickly, blushing and wishing he’d thought to hide the flowers before Major Mauvais noticed. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he folded his hands neatly in front of him. He couldn’t let the Major think he had an admirer; no matter what extravagant gifts Perceval received, he was determined to hold out until the end for Major Mauvais. No one else could compare with him, no one else was perfect. “What I mean to say, sir,” Perceval began again, “Is that even if I knew who’d sent them, my affections have already been won.” Still blushing, Perceval batted his eyelashes at his superior and hoped he understood. After all, Perceval relented at last, he had to let the Major know somehow how he felt, he just couldn’t be too forward, or else he feared that he would seem rude or pushy.
Algernon fought back his smirk valiantly, instead smiling warmly. "Well, whomever he or she is to have so won you over is a very lucky person, Lieutenant." And, with a lingering smile, he made his way back over to his desk. He could tell the Lieutenant was being coy now; he could tell it was only a matter of time. Smirking to himself in satisfaction, he anticipated the reception of his next gift.
Two days latter, Perceval was surprised by the appearance of a second gift, this time a bouquet of beautiful white lilies in a vase from the same set as the magnolias’. Perceval knew better than to search for a card, he’d practically been expecting a second anonymous gift, and he immediately sifted through what he knew about flowers to decide what the newest gift meant. Blushing uncontrollably, Perceval realized that the white lily was the symbol of virginity; he was being made fun of! Hundreds of thoughts rushed through his head, first and foremost being that Major Mauvais, as contentious and intelligent he was, surely understood what white lilies meant, and Perceval felt himself panic, wondering what his superior thought of the newest gift of flowers. He thought of hiding them, and hoping the Major hadn’t noticed; he didn’t want to seem naïve or inexperienced, or something, in the eyes of the Major, after all. But then again, Perceval realized, blushing an even deeper shade of red, perhaps Major Mauvais would prefer if… Perceval realized he was really jumping to conclusions; the Major hadn’t reacted in the slightest to anything Perceval had tried. He probably really had no interest in him whatsoever—the invitation to the ball had simply been because of military obligations, and nothing else. Perceval’s heart fell, and he decided to leave the flowers on his desk. So what if he was naïve. He’d still wait for Major Mauvais; there was always a chance, however slim. Perceval would just have to work a little harder to get his attention.
Algernon watched the show discretely with much amusement as the Lieutenant flustered over his next gift. He realized that his subordinate must have taken the flowers to mean virginity, which they could, and it amused Algernon to think what that must mean. However, he had intended for the flowers to mean their other definition, and he couldn't help wanting to clear things up.
Sauntering over towards the Lieutenant's desk, he glanced at the flowers, pretending they weren't familiar. "I see...so, it seems this secret admirer wants to spend time with you, as well, Lieutenant. How lovely it must be to be so adored," he commented with a pleasant smile.
Perceval was thoroughly taken aback; spend time with him? He quickly ran over the symbolism of the lilies again, setting aside the aspect of white that generally referred to purity of some sort or another, and realized his mistake, blushing again fiercely. “Y-yes,” Perceval squeaked, hoping he wasn’t as bright a shade of red as he felt and that his mistake wasn’t quite as obvious as he feared. “I have trouble, though, sir,” Perceval tried again, looking up at the Major, his eyes shining with adoration as he spoke, “Taking any pleasure in the fact that someone I don’t know wishes to spend time with me when I myself hope only to be with one whom I’d like to get to know better.” Perceval knew it was roundabout, but he could think of no other way to express himself, and he smiled hopefully up at Major Mauvais.
"Hm... A difficult situation, indeed, Lieutenant." He offered a smile. "But consider... maybe the person sending you gifts might not be as bad as they seem?" And, with a final lingering smile, he walked away. The Lieutenant would figure out at some point...and for the time being, it was fun to play with him.
Another couple of days went by before the next gift appeared on his desk, and Perceval hurried over to the bouquet to examine it as soon as he’d bidden good morning to Major Mauvais. The dazzling bouquet of red carnations smelled like perfume, and Perceval was so distracted by it that he missed the small wrapped box the vase from the same set as before was sitting atop. Perhaps even more distracting than the fragrance, however, was the meaning these particular flowers had: ‘My heart aches for you,’ Perceval thought to himself, blushing against his will.
He was so desperate to know exactly who was so interested in him that when he finally took note of the box, he tore the paper off in an uncharacteristically haphazard manner, hoping somewhat desperately that the box he uncovered would contain a card or some other sort of identification. Inside however, Perceval discovered a small assortment of chocolates, and couldn’t help but be delighted by the treat. Gingerly, Perceval extracted the fanciest chocolate from the box and slipped it into his mouth, savoring the way the sweet melted smoothly over his tongue and stimulated his tastes. Then, guiltily, Perceval closed the box of chocolates and put it away; swallowing the one he had in his mouth before he’d even finished enjoying all of its subtle flavors. Perhaps, he worried, by eating a chocolate he was unconsciously allowing himself to be won over by the unknown admirer and giving up on Major Mauvais without realizing. Perceval felt terrible, and stared at his carnations glumly. His heart ached for Major Mauvais, and he had no way to show it.
Algernon was quite captivated to the Lieutenant consume one of the chocolates, and in such an enticing fashion... And when he was making his stroll around the room that afternoon, he smiled kindly at his subordinate again. "What beautiful flowers...your secret admirer has very appropriate taste, Lieutenant," he remarked, touching one of the flowers lightly. "Good luck discovering his or her identity!" And with that, he left Lt. Rousseau to his confusion once more.
Perceval started to leave for work extra early each morning; he was determined to catch whoever was leaving him the gifts, and was certain he could catch the person in the act if he only got there early enough. Somehow, the Major always beat him there, which Perceval realized in the end, was good because otherwise the door to the office would be locked. That of course meant that his admirer came in each morning after Major Mauvais, but lately Perceval had been the second into the room, so either they came and went, or it was the Major himself! That, of course, was impossible. Why would Major Mauvais go through all the trouble of giving him secret gifts? Really, it was just wishful thinking on Perceval’s part to even consider the Major, and the thought always made him depressed. Additionally, since the Major was always the first one into the office, surely he saw who left the gifts each morning. That further depressed Perceval, as he could easily ask his superior who it was, but he was far too embarrassed and ashamed to do so. Perceval was beginning to resent the presents from his secret admirer. Whoever it was, they were making things very difficult and close to unbearable for Percy.
It was very early a few days after Perceval started getting to work early each day that he noticed the newest bouquet as he bowed and said his good mornings to Major Mauvais, and his heart fell at the sight of it. Whatever it was, it made Perceval feel rather miserable. Soon, the Major would stop by and make some other teasing comment, aloof to Perceval’s every effort. Dejectedly, Perceval made his way over to his desk and took a seat before looking over the new flowers. They were gardenias, white and sweet smelling, telling Perceval he was lovely. But if Perceval wasn’t lovely in the eyes of Major Mauvais, than he wasn’t lovely at all, he was simply worthless and foolish for allowing himself to become so obsessed with his superior.
Idly, Perceval pulled the wrapped box towards himself and unwrapped the paper precisely, not tearing it or damaging it in the slightest. Perceval had given up hope of discovering his admirer through the presents, he’d have to wait and play along until they showed him in person. Opening the box, Perceval lifted an ornately sculpted, jewel encrusted copper apple from the box and turned it over in his hands. If nothing else, his admirer certainly knew exactly the sort of thing he liked, and Perceval felt impressed. For staying so completely hidden, they’d done a good job of finding out about him. This fact lifted his spirits, and as he thought it over, the situation of having an admirer may not have been quite as bad as he’d originally suspected, he simply required a change of tactics. Perhaps, he could entice the Major yet by making him jealous. Perceval smirked slightly to himself and continued examining the beautiful object in his hands, the object that would help him get what he wanted at last.
Algernon was pleased to see that his gift was appreciated; he had been a little worried as to how well it would be received, but the Lieutenant seemed to be very pleased with it. When it came time for him to make his customary remark, however, he was feeling somewhat lackluster; he was getting impatient as his scheme neared the end. Smiling, he offered, "It seems as if you're the apple of someone's eyes, Lieutenant," before moving on; he couldn't allow himself to become too distracted. Soon, he told himself, soon the Lieutenant would be all his.
Perceval had taken the apple home and displayed it in a place of reverence in his bedroom as token to inspire him of his newest goal. He felt that if he could really make Major Mauvais jealous, make him wish that he’d responded to Perceval’s earlier attempts, make him resent Perceval’s secret admirer and fight to clam Perceval for his own, then at last Perceval could be happy. As of yet, he had no idea how to accomplish any of that; he had no experience whatsoever in the field of love and war, and all he could do was hope that something would come to him and that the opportunity would present itself.
His chance came several days after he’d received the apple when he arrived at the regular time to work to see a bouquet of red tulips, a declaration of love. He bowed to his superior deeply, and as he rose, he smiled, raising his head haughtily and looking at the Major almost with disdain. “Oh look, tulips this morning, sir.” Perceval remarked, striding over to his desk and opening his newest present with precision and extracting a silver pear to match the apple. Trying not to look up at Major Mauvais, Perceval examined the pear intently, making sure he seemed as enthralled as possible. If he acted distant and unobtainable, perhaps he could spark a desire in Major Mauvais at last.
Though Algernon was glad to see the Lieutenant seemed to be enjoying his gift, he was somewhat confused by the way his subordinated had acted to him when he arrived. Lt. Rousseau had seemed almost haughty, which was very unusual. As he watched the Lieutenant look over his gift with reverence, however, it occurred to him: Lt. Rousseau still had no idea it was he giving the gifts, and he was trying to make him jealous. Algernon laughed to himself slightly; after all, the Lieutenant was already effectively his, but, then again, the Lieutenant himself didn't know that, so why spoil the fun?
Later that afternoon, when he made his way around the room to the Lieutenant's desk, he glanced at the newest gift. "What lovely flowers," he remarked blandly, "and such a dazzling gift, too. Your admirer must have good taste, Lieutenant." He held back a smirk and offered a smile at the self-compliment, waiting curiously to see just how his subordinate would react.
"Oh, yes," Perceval sighed rather dreamily, putting on an act. "I hope my admirer reveals himself soon, I'm afraid I can't take much more of this anticipation, sir." Perceval gazed down at the pear in his hands with as much emotion as he could and then turned abruptly to Major Mauvais, hoping the passion would show through his eyes. He didn’t know quite how everything would work out, but he was desperate enough to try anything. "Whoever it is, my admirer certainly knows how to win someone's heart." Perceval laughed like a bell and wished desperately it was the Major that was trying to win his affections with secret gifts; Perceval would have accepted his attentions in an instant.
Algernon swallowed as the Lieutenant laughed; if he hadn't known that it was he whom Lt. Rousseau was so enthralled with, he would have been jealous. However, he did know, and so, instead his subordinate's actions caused quite another reaction. It was still premature, however; he had to get a hold of himself, and so, swallowing once more, he smiled. "Yes, he or she is quite talented," he agreed before heading back towards his desk. Prior to this point, he hadn't particularly been looking forward to the activities he had planned for the evening, but...it might be good to get some release after all. With a sigh, he went back to work, anxious to get his plan through so that he could have the object of his desire.
Nothing Perceval tried seemed to work on the Major at all, and Perceval felt as if it would be better if he simply gave up before he allowed himself to become any more depressed and desperate. He refused to let himself do anything to humiliate himself in front of Major Mauvais, and that sort of venture was the only thing know to him left to try. Perhaps, he was beginning to think, before he found the sixth bouquet of flowers waiting for him on his desk, he would be better off simply accepting his admirer, whoever it was, instead of pining away for someone as completely unobtainable as Major Mauvais.
When Perceval saw his newest bouquet of flowers three days after the one before it, he blushed immediately and had trouble greeting the Major at all out of misery and depression. The flowers were corianders, a symbol of lust, and Perceval felt that he could hardly take it. He wanted the major so badly, and while the newest gift drove his desires to knew heights, it also shattered his resolve. Really, he didn't want anyone except Major Mauvais, but there was no way that would ever happen now, and Perceval knew it. Surely the Major knew the meaning of corianders; his superior was probably laughing at him even as he sulked over to his desk and fell into his chair, making no effort whatsoever to appear graceful. He pulled the third box over towards him and opened it slowly, hoping another gift of finery would lift his spirits even slightly. Peering inside the box, Perceval blushed and couldn't even bring himself to touch the newest fruit; a gold banana, no doubt placed in combination with the corianders to drive home the meaning. Perceval felt rather sick with desperation, and closed the box as he put his head down on his desk, crossed his legs, and tried not to think about the Major.
Algernon didn't get up or talk to the Lieutenant at all that day. He didn't trust himself to be able to walk. However, he consoled himself, his plan was almost complete, in a few days, with the next gift, the wait would be over, and the Lieutenant would belong to him. Thus satisfied, he was able to think clearly enough for the rest of the day.
After the corianders, Perceval gave up coming up with any other plans and worked very hard to keep himself from thinking about his admirer or Major Mauvais at all. However, it was difficult to ignore his superior, and for the few days following the gift of the banana, Perceval gave up on not thinking about Algernon. He couldn't think of him innocently and wished that things were different. As for his admirer, the only thought he spared his mysterious gift-giver was to reassure himself quite often that he wanted nothing to do with someone so backhanded. That was until the seventh bouquet appeared on his desk, a fabulous arrangement of dozens of red roses in full bloom. The sight of it brought tears to his eyes; Perceval knew he could never accept the love of anyone aside from the Major.
Perceval did his best to hold him self together long enough to bow and bid the Major good morning before he hurried to his desk and took his seat, extracting a handkerchief and dabbing at his eyes. He did everything he could not to look at the flowers as he opened the newest wrapped box, expecting the worst. Inside however was one of the most beautiful broaches he'd ever seen; an emerald cut into a circular pattern and set into an ornate gold backing. Perceval was tempted to push the box aside in contempt, but he couldn't help himself and reached forward tentatively, lifting the beautiful object from its box and pinning it to his cravat without thinking. Then, looking back down, he let out a small gasp as he realized there was something else in the box--a note--at last. He took the note carefully, almost frightened to read what it said, and broke the wax seal, opening the note gently. Inside was a single phrase: "to match your beautiful, perfect emerald eyes." There was no signature. Perceval replaced the note in the box and pushed it aside, forgetting he was still wearing the broach, and put his head down on his desk once again, feeling miserable.
Algernon watched as his final gift was received, delighted when the Lieutenant put it on. It really did look gorgeous with his complexion and his eyes... Pleased with himself, Algernon almost couldn't wait for the end of the day, when his plan would finally be finished.
Later into the day, Algernon sauntered over to the Lieutenant's desk, a stack of paperwork in hand. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant...I really need you to finish these papers before you leave today. Would you mind staying a little late today? I really do apologize."
“No, not at all, sir,” Perceval said sullenly, with a wistful look on his face as he looked up at his superior, wishing desperately that things could be different. “I’ll…I’ll do anything you want.”
Finally, after what seemed like eons, the evening rolled around and everyone began leaving for the day. Algernon watched carefully as every last person left, all save for himself and the Lieutenant. Then, when he was sure they were alone, he slowly strolled to the door, locking it carefully, before making his way back to the Lieutenant's desk. Unable to keep himself from smirking, he planted one hand firmly on the desk and let the other move to slide along the Lieutenant's smooth skin beneath his chin, lifting his face to look at him. The broach, still glittering at his throat, matched his eyes perfectly, and Algernon's smirk broadened. "It really does match your beautiful, perfect emerald eyes..." It felt so good, just to touch his skin that way, and Algernon almost held his breath, waiting for a reply.
Perceval had been trying so hard to focus on his work and ignore the Major that he hadn’t noticed how close he was until he felt his superior’s hand against his skin. Startled, Perceval blushed brightly and splotched the ink of the paper he was writing as he dropped his pen, staring embarrassedly at Major Mauvais. He thought he ought to pull away, because surely the major could feel how hard his heart was beating, but for some reason, Perceval was frozen in place, captivated by the Major’s expression. Major Mauvais’s hand seemed to burn against Perceval’s skin and he longed for even more contact as his breath unconciously became somewhat strained.
“S-sir,” Perceval stuttered automatically, before fully realizing just how familiar the Major’s complement was. Wide-eyed, Perceval tried to convince himself it was just a coincidence, tried to stop himself from looking like a complete idiot in front of his superior, but he couldn’t stop the words from tumbling from his mouth seemingly of their own accord. “That’s-that’s the same as in—how did you—? Unless you—?” Desperately searching for an answer and trying not to be fooled by his own wishful thinking, Perceval at last pulled back. “Y-you!” Perceval stammered, “It was you all along?” It was a demand more than a question, and Perceval had gotten to his feet before realizing how terribly he was behaving. “I-I…” Perceval said desperately, coming to his senses as everything seemed to fall into place and it all became so obvious. Then, the question that he was burning to ask slipped from his lips softly, “Why didn’t you just tell me?” Perceval felt tears prickling the corners of his eyes, but he was in no emotional condition to try and hold them back.
"There, there," Algernon soothed, moving to wipe away the Lieutenant's tears with his other thumb. "I'm sorry to have deceived you...but I was worried you'd reject me," Algernon lied easily. "And I couldn't stand that..." He put on a piteous expression. "Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? I just can't live without you...I love you." The words came easily; it was something he hadn't hesitated to say meaninglessly in the past, but this time he found himself really putting some feeling, a bit of truth into the words. He was surprised at himself but not too much so; he needed the Lieutenant, and he was going to have him.
“You do?” Perceval sniffed, disbelievingly. “I-I could never reject you, sir!” Perceval said quickly, as an uncontrollable feeling of devotion and euphoria swelled inside of him, completely eclipsing his initial insecurities. The Major was easy to forgive, and in retrospect, Perceval almost couldn’t believe he’d been so upset by all the gifts. Really, they were from Major Mauvais, and now that he knew that, Perceval knew he would treasure everything he’d received for years to come and look back on the Major’s tact with awe. “From…from the moment I first saw you,” Perceval felt rather embarrassed to reveal how much he’d been pining after the Major, but felt he had to in order to strengthen his point, and so he continued, looking down and blushing even more. “I knew there was something about you. I hate people,” Perceval admitted, feeling foolish, “But I can’t find any flaw in you. How could I not forgive you?” Perceval was crying again, but he was also smiling his rare honest smile that only crept to his face during the few occasions that he was not acting. “I’ve been in love with you for so long, to hear you say that, it…it…” Perceval couldn’t explain how it made him feel, so he simply declared rather dumbly, and lacking in all eloquence, “I love you!”
Algernon smiled. "I'm flattered...though, I must say, I don't think I can compare to yourself. You're just so beautiful, so perfect..." Algernon broke off as he leaned over the desk slightly, pulling the Lieutenant further across to plant a kiss firmly on his lips. The feeling was heavenly, and he hardly had the restraint to wait a few moments before running his tongue across the Lieutenant's lips, requesting entrance.
Perceval had kissed before, but never had he been kissed the way the Major kissed him. Still feeling rather stunned by the suddenness of the action, Perceval didn’t know how to react when he felt his superior’s tongue against his lips, and he opened his mouth with a little noise of surprise. Perceval’s heart leapt, hammering against his chest with excitement and pleasure when he felt the Major’s tongue slip into his mouth, and he mewled as he moved a little further over the desk, longing to be closer to Major Mauvais and hoping he was responding correctly. All the feelings were so new to him, but Perceval was determined not to show his insecurities and excited to please Algernon. Responding in way he hoped would be acceptable as he satisfied his own longing to be closer, Perceval reached forward to slip his arms amorously around the other and whished that the moment would never end.
Algernon could feel the Lieutenant's novice, and smirked slightly into the kiss. Still, it made the whole experience even more exhilarating; for the first time, Algernon was in control of this situation, and he was enjoying it to its fullest. Kissing the Lieutenant fervidly, he felt his subordinate's arms around his shoulders and smirked again, this time breaking the kiss to move around to the other side of the desk. Pressing the Lieutenant back into his chair and leaning over him, Algernon smiled rather predatorily. "You're mine now," he murmured, poised inches away from his subordinate's lips. "I need you..." He was speaking utter nonsense now in his enthrallment, and cut himself off by pressing his lips back to Lt. Rousseau's. This kiss was brief, however, after only a moment, he strayed to the Lieutenant's jawbone, then his neck, kissing his beautiful, pale skin and feeling excitement well up inside of him as red marks appeared where his mouth had been. After a few more moments, he returned to the Lieutenant's lips, this time deepening the kiss again. It just felt so good...and he was very, very pleased with himself.
Perceval didn’t know how to keep himself from making little noises at the feeling of his superior’s mouth against his neck, and he hoped desperately that it was all right to vocalize his appreciation. When the Major returned to his lips, Perceval did his best to kiss back, this time knowing somewhat what he should expect and doing all that he could to please Major Mauvais. Perceval liked being so wrapped up in everything going on and in all the feelings he’d never experienced, and he liked that the whole event was completely out of his control. Perceval hoped the Major would do everything with him, everything to him, because he simply couldn’t get enough.
When Algernon at last drew away, it was for air rather than for wanting to, and he smirked against the Lieutenant's lips before drawing away. Taking the Lieutenant's hand in his own, he kissed it softly before looking his subordinate in the eye. "Lieutenant, may I have the honour of your presence for dinner in my home this Friday evening?" Now that the Lieutenant was truly his, he was impatient to begin enjoying it.
“Why yes of course, sir.” Perceval beamed, inclining his head in a small bow, amazed at how, even after all of this, Major Mauvais still managed to be a gentleman, perfect in every way.