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Johannes couldn’t help but agree with Charlemagne about people who refuse to dress themselves. He always felt that it was silly to demand another to dress you. With women he could somewhat see the need for another pair of hands especially after helping his wife dress a few times but a man needing help? It was a little absurd in Johannes’ humble opinion. What wasn’t absurd was Charlemagne’s self proclaimed talents. Said talents Johannes wouldn’t mind testing out himself. “I’m sure it is a skill that you excel at,” he managed to choke out as he pushed his less than innocent thoughts to the back of his Ming. It was, however, hard to do so with Charlemagne walking around shirtless and his words that suggested that Johannes should remove his pants. Johannes had to bite back his overly witty response and hold his tongue in fear he say something stupid.
Thankfully, Charlemagne pulled on a night gown and distracted Johannes from his less than pure thoughts. “That is good,” Johannes replied when Charlemagne said the waiter would be keeping his job. Johannes had noticed in his short time of being in France that the kingdom’s people were struggling. Jobs were hard to come by and harder to keep and Johannes didn’t want a young man to lose his livelihood because of someone else. It warmed his heart that he would be fine and that Charlemagne was such a level headed man. In fact it made Charlemagne all the more attractive to Johannes if he is being completely honest. This attraction was really getting out of hand quickly.
“No promises,” Johannes responded. He would, of course, behave because he was a gentleman. While he longed to snoop around and gather as much information about Charlemagne as he could his up bringing just wouldn’t allow it. Instead he stood firmly planted in his spot and had to be content with just looking around the place.
Charlemagne was back almost as fast as he left and with another man. “How about Hungarian?” He asked with a small smile when Charlemagne told him he would have to speak French. Johannes always defaulted to French when speaking with new people. It was only occasionally when he accidentally responded in German or when he forgot a word in French and automatically defaulted to German. Those occurrences were growing fewer the longer he was in France but they did occur. Turning his attention over to the older gentleman Johannes gave the man a small nod and a soft greeting. Almost as quickly as it began the inspection ended and the
man was off to find fitting clothes. Before he left Johannes thanked him and then he was alone with the incubus known as Charlemagne.
Said handsome man was lounging on a chair looking absolutely gorgeous. This man was going to be the death of Johannes especially after his reoccurring suggestion that Johannes should remove his pants. “I’ll have you known I’m a virtuous maiden,” he began. “You haven’t even began to court me and yet you are already trying to get my pants off. Mother will be mortified to hear about this,” Johannes jokingly replied. Virtuous wasn’t really Johannes but he was stalling when it came to removing his pants. The shirt fit for sure but it was only just long enough to cover Johannes lower half and the chambers were just slightly chilly. The wine was cold against his side but it probably wasn’t as cold as going pants less. “I wouldn’t say I bathe in wine but at least it smells better than some of the perfume that the ladies are wearing. It’s a pity that I’m wearing your family’s wine instead of getting a chance to taste it. Such a waste of good wine.” He grumbled the last part more to himself.
They really needed to move on from Johannes still wearing his wet pants because he may just break down and take them off if Charlemagne kept giving him that look. It wasn’t really a look it was more his unfairly handsome face but still. “I was having a good time up until the incident. The food is, of course, amazing and I think I’ll end up gaining weight if I continue to come to the palace’s parties. As for the wine incident I can’t find myself to be too mad because at least I get to talk to you again and get out of the crowded ball room for a little bit.”
[center [#900 “It is really no problem, Johannes. I assure you.”] Charlie replied, chuckling as they moved. [#900 “Sometimes things happen. All you really can do when faced with unexpected circumstances is just deal with them head on to the best of your ability.”] the Frenchman added. [#900 “Besides! I cannot let us walk around looking like soiled fools. That would just be ridiculous!”] Charlemagne honestly could not stop laughing. [#900 “Imagine all of the things that everyone would say! I don’t know about you, but I do not have the energy nor patience for that right now.”] And it was true. Charlie was just too damn busy now to even remotely consider dealing with the drama and rumors that circulated regularly around the French court. [#900 “I have already had insane accusations be made about me, one of which even the King confronted me about. Sometimes people just want to see you fail and burn.”] Charlemagne rolled his eyes, exhaling exasperatedly. The man sometimes just could not deal with the fools that were in the Court.]
[center When Johannes finally decided to change Charlie gazed intently with inquisitive dark eyes. He did absolutely nothing to hide his stare. It just was not in the man’s nature to be ashamed or to hide anything. The fact Charlemagne did not care to avert his gaze was definitely because the Frenchman was a lustful type of person. But Charlie also wanted to see how the shirt would fit on Johannes. The man before Charlie, in his opinion, happened to be incredibly attractive. That fact did entirely nothing to help satiate the Frenchman’s thirst. But Charlemagne stopped for a moment, processing what Johannes had said. [#900 “Honestly, I forget that there are people out there who refuse to dress themselves.,”] he shrugged, [#900 “Which is incredibly pathetic if you ask me.”] Charlie then moved to walk around Johannes, examining the fit of the shirt and the state of the man’s also stained pants. [#900 “Besides, your arms and hands are not broken. And a skill of mine is not in the application of clothing, rather taking them off.”] he snickered before honestly shivering. Being shirtless was fine and all, but the palace also happened to be freezing in the lesser populated areas that evening.]
[center Charlemagne then casually moved to fish out a clean shirt from a dresser against the nearest wall. But during his search Johannes spoke again. Charlie, still crouched with his hands in a drawer, looked over his shoulder at the Austrian with an impish glint in his eyes. [#900 “Nobody said that you had to keep your pants on, Johannes.”] He then went back to rummaging through drawers, finding himself unsatisfied until he happened upon a long night gown he would have slept in. But he just needed to be able to walk out of the room and not look entirely foolish while trying to track down a member of the palace’s staff. Charlie slipped on the night gown and kicked off his pants into the corner his coat and previous shirt were piled in. Flipping his hair onto his back Charlie quickly put on some slippers as he had also removed his shoes before. [#900 “Technically since he is part of the wait staff, he is my charge. But I know that it was not his fault, so he will be fine.”]]
[center [#900 “I’m going to see if I can track down someone to help us get clothing for you.”] Charlie nodded before opening the bedroom door. [#900 “Behave.”] he winked before walking off, although he did find one of his favorite butlers Charlie knew would be able to help. It was only a short wait till the two returned, Charlemagne excited. [#900 “Johannes, this is Francis. You would have to speak French to him because he does not understand German or even English, just so you know.”] Francis was an elderly looking gentleman who gave as polite and distinguished a bow as his back would allow to Johannes. Admittedly, Francis was not a huge fan of Austro-Hungarians, the man was professional and bit his tongue and afforded Johannes the customary respect. Soft-spoken as he was, Francis merely examined Johannes’ proportions to gauge what his sizes were. He had a knack for clothing. Francis even mentioned that Johannes had very long legs and arms, saying that he would do his best to find the right clothing to accommodate. Not too much longer after their arrival, Francis left to go find clothes for Johannes to try.]
[center [#900 “Such a mysterious old man. But he is so hush it is almost precious?”] Charlie chuckled after Francis was gone. Charlie then settled in a plush chair, almost languid with his motions, but he crossed a leg over the other at the knee. [#900 “What do you suggest we do while we wait for Francis to return?”] the Frenchman asked with a raised brow. [#900 “Rather, you still have your pants on. Shame. I think they should come off.”] Charlie sighed, leaning to one side of the chair and propping himself on a single arm. [#900 “Or do you just prefer to bathe in wine every night?”] he asked facetiously, a smirk on his face…]
Johannes beamed at Charlemagne as he confirmed that he was a master of pleasantries. If they weren’t in the middle of a large ball with way too many important people he would have even stuck his tongue out at Anne as a told you so. Instead he took the agreement with absolute grace just like any good Baron would. He even kept himself from saying how much of a delight he was. Johannes was humble.
Anne let out a soft laugh and a smile crossed her lightly painted lips. “You and my father. I think my father trusts the Freiherr more than he trusts me at times. To be fair I don’t think Johannes could ever be rude,” she happily replied. Her ears instantly perked as Charlemagne mentioned wine. She had some earlier and it was just divine. It was something she wouldn’t pass up on any time soon. “That just sounds lovely.”
As the butler came towards them Catherine had appeared from the side and Anne took a step back so that the two could whisper to each other. Johannes paid no mind to it and was actually kind of glad Anne had stepped back with the events that followed. By the time he blinked someone had ran into the poor butler and the glasses of wine went flying towards him and Charlemagne with poor Charlemagne taking the majority of the wine. Behind Johannes he heard Anne let out a soft gasp of surprise for what occurred. If she had been in her original spot she too would have been included in the splash zone and Johannes would be faced with a nightmare. No lady liked their dresses getting destroyed by wine.
As Charlemagne went to help the butler Johannes began to formulate a plan. He could either leave with Anne and go home before the party really began and endure a wet and cold carriage ride home or he could possibly send for Hans. Before he could weigh his options Charlemagne’s attention was back on them and he had his own solution to this slight inconvenience. Before Charlemagne led Johannes away he took a step closer to Anne. “Please stay with Catherine,” he softly said in German before turning and following after Charlemagne. His only concern for Anne was that she would attract a way too large flock of Frenchmen that he would be unable to beat back. She was just too nice and would get eaten up in a heartbeat. He wasn’t interested in Anne at all but he didn’t want her to get chewed up and spit out by these men. Plus Freiherr Sierakowski would absolutely destroy him if that occurred.
Following closely after Charlemagne he made sure to dodge the glass on the floor. Johannes remained silent for a few minute as they made their way through the palace. “Thank you for your help. I wasn’t sure what to do after that incident,” Johannes softly spoke up as they walked down one of the many hallway. Johannes wished the circumstances were a little bit better because normally he would be super stoked to be going to a handsome man’s room. Too bad it wasn’t for what Johannes wanted though removing his wet clothes would be greatly appreciated so it wasn’t all bad.
As they stepped into the room Johannes eyes roamed over the place in curiosity. It was a rather nice room and exactly what he would expect out of the palace. His eyes left his inspection and fell on Charlemagne’s bare back that was he in front of it. This was just unfair. The soft pale back in front of him was an enticing sight and Johannes found himself staring at one particular aspect of Charlemagne the most. Once he caught himself staring he forced himself to look away. It would do him no good to lust over the other male in these moments. He would just have to store that memory for a later time or just stop being a creep. Though Johannes’ probably would never stop creeping so that was not an option but he could stop long enough to get through this night.
“Thank you,” He replied as Charlemagne finally found a shirt that could potentially fit him. Johannes had been a little skeptical about Charlemagne finding anything that would fit but figured he might as well try. Unbuttoning his waistcoat he carefully pulled it away from the stained undershirt. The waistcoat looked like it barely took any damage at all but that was because of the dark coloring hid the wine well. If they cleaned up the area and let it dry for a little bit the coat would be serviceable for the rest of the night despite the smell of wine that would linger. Luckily the whole banquet hall smelled like wine so no one would really notice Johannes, at least he was hoping no one did. With his waist coat off he could finally see the damage done and it wasn’t pretty. The side of his shirt was a bright and glorious red. Hans was just going to have a field day trying to remove the stain, that is if Johannes didn’t just get rid of the shirt. Johannes loosened to top strings of his shirt and pulled the shirt off. Using one of the sleeves he wiped off some of the wine from his side before folding the shirt and sitting it down.
“How did you know I was a noble that can dress myself?” He jokingly asked as he pulled the shirt on. It was a little bit tighter than what he was use to but it would work for now. “You know my father refuses to dress himself. It’s rather hilarious and pathetic,” Johannes added. Johannes personally preferred to dress himself. It just never felt right having someone else do the work when it was so simple. Hans normally complained about Johannes not letting him do his job and Johannes was okay with that. It was one job he was willing to do.
He finally looked down at his pants to assess the damage done. Luckily the spill had been centralized to the upper portion of his body so that the pristine white stockings were safe from the wine. His pants did take the majority of the damage, though, and wouldn’t dry as easily as the waistcoat. At least he had decided to wear drawers if it came to him just having to wait for his pants to dry. “That would be greatly appreciated. I think my waist coat can be saved but I think my pants are sadly a little bit too wet to save.” He said after he forced himself to bite back a comment about there being easier ways to get him out of his pants.
“Out of curiosity what will happen to the butler? Will it be brushed off or will he be losing his job? I just ask because at home he would have been unfairly fired right then and there,” Johannes curiously asked as he forced himself to look anywhere but Charlemagne’s perfect form.
[center Charlemagne had a moment where he contemplated whether he should pursue wither Anne or Johannes. The Frenchman was intrigued by both, honestly. The two Austrians both had traits about them that Charlie enjoyed. Anne was shorter than himself and was a wonderful conversationalist. She also appeared to have rather angelic features that were not impeded by a seemingly impossible mountain of unblended make-up. From Charlemagne’s guess what rouge she did have on her cheeks happened to also be strategically blended on her lips to provide a cohesive aesthetic. Charlie could certainly appreciate such attention to detail. Plus, Anne did not appear disinterested, which was fortunate enough for the Frenchman. In addition to all of that, Anne’s parfum was delicate, but exquisite! The scent was like an attractive floral with an irresistible warmth to it. He couldn’t quite pin down what exact ingredients were used, but Charlemagne found himself wanting to keep her around, and possibly through the night.]
[center Johannes was a bit of a different story, though. Charlemagne could see why some individuals would be warded off by the other man’s seeming lack of expression. But to Charlie, he perceived Johannes’ alleged ‘stony expression’ as a thing that gave the Austrian man a kind of respectability. That and an air of mystery. It was not every day that one would spot such an attractive specimen with such clearly defined facial features. Charlemagne had a liking for more serious men because he like their company in his bed when he did not feel like being entirely in control. Just by look at such a clean-cut man, Charlie believed that Johannes had his life together and could take the lead without faltering. [#900 [i ‘And he sounds like he is well-educated. That is always nice. Makes for more fascinating conversation.’]] Charlemagne though.]
[center The man had become distracted by his contemplative train of thought. But Charlie quickly snapped back to reality when Johannes actually responded to his previously made comment. [#900 “If there is anything that could quell any spitefulness from us French people, it surely is the beauty of such a fine lady.”] Charlemagne nodded. [#900 “Although, that is probably regarding most men. I cannot speak for the Frenchwoman as I am not one.”] he laughed heartily. He really was quite the jovial type and in settings like their current one made no difference to Charlie. He laughed. He teased. He was just enjoying the great time the party provided.]
[center Watching Anne and Johannes share some banter was amusing to say the least. Charlemagne could not help but smile when Johannes pulled him into the comical debate. [#900 “Absolutely. You are the master of such pleasantries.”] Charlie spoke, a distinct smirk on his own face. For a minute the Frenchman simply gazed at Johannes, drinking in his image where he stood. Charlemagne thirsted in silence before he sighed and looked back towards Anne. [#900 “I am glad that he is treating you appropriately, Mademoiselle. I would hate to have to share some stern words with him if it were otherwise.,”] Charlie began before teasingly glancing over to Johannes, coming back to Anne, [#900 “You deserve nothing less than the best of treatments.”] he nodded. [#900 “How about I fetch us all some wine, hm? I believe my brother did a wonderful job on his selection he brought with him from the South.”] Charlie proposed before he caught the attention of a nearby butler who was going around to offer the attendees of the night’s soiree glasses of wine. The young butler dutifully moved to tend to Charlemagne’s request to see what the man wanted. But as the butler got closer, another noticeably drunken man accidentally backed in the butler. This motion shoved the poor man forward and offed his balance. The crystal glasses of wine on the platter subsequently went flying, soaking Charlemagne’s clothes and also splashing on Johannes’ coat and pants.]
[center Almost immediately the butler began to profusely apologize, frantically attempting to clean up the shattered crystal that now laid on the ground. It took a moment for Charlemagne to process what had happened, realizing that now he smelled like alcohol and his clothes stained. But Charlie was not mad at the butler. If anything, the Frenchman was aggravated by the drunken man who knocked into the butler. Despite this Charlemagne knelt down to assure the young butler, who looked no older than maybe eighteen, that everything was fine and that accidents do happen. After flagging down another individual that was working as a part of the wait staff Charlie turned to Johannes and Anne. [#900 “I do apologize, but I believe that the Freiherr and myself must go change. We simply cannot be walking around like this now can we, Mademoiselle? Perhaps we’ll speak again later, dearest.”] Charlemagne addressed Anne before quietly directing Johannes to follow him.]
[center [#900 “I’ll have to look around my chambers to see if I have anything that would fit you. If I cannot, I’ll have to fetch a maid to help acquire clothing for you.”] Charlemagne spoke so casually whilst walking. Because of the man’s swift pace, he approached the doors to his chambers fairly fast, holding one open for Johannes as a simple courtesy. Almost as soon as Charlie set foot in his chambers the man tossed off his coat and was untying the strings to his undershirt to strip that off as well. Soon that shirt also found itself in a corner as the Frenchman sifted through drawers and the closet to find appropriate clothing for Johannes. Charlie quietly swore under his breath, having a hard time finding anything he thought would fit the other man.]
[center After looking some more the man pulled out a dress shirt that Charlie honestly used as a night shirt for sleep if he hadn’t decided to sleep nude. It was big for Charlemagne, but he presented it to Johannes. [#900 “See if this fits. I’ll have to talk to a maid about fetching you suitable pants…”]]
Dancing with Anne was a rather easy thing to do. She was tuned into her partner and moved fluidly and smartly throughout every single song. By the time the music had stopped Johannes had found himself enjoying his time with Anne and actually sad that the music had stopped. His wife had never been the best at dancing. Elisabeth had been decent enough but when they danced it had never been as fluid and as easy as it had been with Anne. While Johannes had no interest in ever marrying the woman he wouldn’t mind being her dance partner again. He did enjoy the occasional dance or two.
With the music stopped the two of them easily slipped off to the side. Johannes was about to offer to find them wine when Charlemagne appeared besides them. The Frenchman was looking gorgeous now that Johannes could really see him. Anne seemed to agree with Johannes’ assessment because she also was eyeing the man.
“Monsieur,” Anne acknowledged with a bright smile. Her conversation with Charlemagne had been rather pleasant and she found him to be an interesting man. If it wasn’t for her father pushing for her to be with Johannes she would have probably left the Austrian man a long time ago to flirt with the Frenchman. Johannes was okay but there was no connection between them. She understood why her father was pushing for the two of them to get together but it didn’t mean she had to like it. Charlemagne, though, was interesting and she felt as if there was a connection between them even if it was a simple one.
Her smile only brightened as Charlemagne teasingly harassed Johannes. From her viewpoint it seemed that Johannes and Charlemagne were on rather friendly terms which Anne liked. It gave her a better chance of seeing Charlemagne again.
Johannes couldn’t help but slightly grin as Charlemagne came up and feigned offense. “I am so sorry Charlemagne. I didn’t want France to hate me more by informing one of it’s eligible bachelors about the beautiful women that reside in the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” he easily replied. If Johannes was honest he paid no attention to the women at home but he paid plenty of attention to the men and he believed the French had the upper hand there. Well... Charlemagne did at least.
His interest did peak when Charlemagne said Anne’s name. Johannes didn’t know that the two knew each other and was curious if they just met. What also interested Johannes was Charlemagne’s flirty attitude. He rather have Charlemagne interested in him but he could accept his interest in Anne because she also seemed interested. At least interested enough to no longer hang off of Johannes which he greatly appreciated.
Anne softly giggled as Charlemagne asked if she was being treated well. “Of course, Monsieur. Freiherr Von Hügel has been nothing but a gentleman and a great escort. He could stand to smile a little bit more, though. I fear some people are steering clear of us because of the Freiherr’s stony expression,” she happily said.
Johannes feigned offense at Anne’s word. “I don’t have a stony expression at all. I am the most warm and inviting person ever. Isn’t that right Charlemagne?” He asked. He wasn’t inviting at all. Johannes knew that his facial expression, or lack of, tended to scare people away. Which worked rather well for Johannes because he wasn’t the most sociable person in the world. He enjoyed smaller social setting with people he knew. Somewhat like this party with just a fraction of the people.
Charlemagne was laughing and having quite a pleasant conversation with his dance partner who he learned was name Catherine, his brother Sébastien, and a few other people who began to congregate because they had wine. Save for Charlie’s elder brother, everyone was sipping on various wines from the Marquis family vineyard and winery. Luckily for everyone in their group, they had two master sommeliers at the disposal to ask any kind of wine-related question to. Some of the members of the group facetiously tried to ask Sébastien and Charlemagne what recipes were used for the production in their business. And both of the men laughed because they would never dare give up family secrets and recipes no matter who asked. Sébastien has even made a remark that the King of France himself tried to asked once. [b “Needless to say, I did not tell him either.”] Sébastien remarked, causing a few of the guests to gasp. They were shocked that he had the [i audacity] to refuse the [i King]!
In the midst of a discussion about the red wine everyone was sharing, a new woman had joined the conversation. She introduced herself with the name of Anne. Charlemagne found his interest piquing because the blonde woman had a soft beauty about her. The Frenchman could tell that Anne was not wearing much make-up at all, not that he minded usage of such products. But he found the subtle rouging of her cheeks coupled with the voluminous curls that framed her pale face almost tantalizing. Casually he offered to pour her a glass of wine whilst she chatted with Catherine. He learned that they were both good friends, a piece of information that he found interesting. But he fetched the woman a glass of wine regardless. Upon receipt of the beverage Charlie struck up a conversation with Anne and Catherine, although he admittedly was more interested in Anne. While he did not feel the overwhelming need to bed a person that night, Charlemagne found no harm in at least wooing the woman. After some chatting he formally introduced himself to her, offering a polite kiss on the back of Anne’s hand. Apparently both Anne and Catherine were socialites in Austro-Hungarian high society, hence why they knew each other so well.
It did not feel like much time passed, but soon Anne excused herself to go back out on the ballroom’s dancefloor. Both Charlemagne and Catherine bid the woman a kind farewell before they finished their glasses of wine, going out to dance as well as the music changed to a beautifully fluid waltz. The two enjoyed the song through its entirety, stepping away from the dance floor as the group of musicians quickly spoke amongst themselves about what else they should play. Charlemagne took this time to scan his surroundings to see who else was in attendance. That is when he saw Johannes with Anne not too far away! Upon this discovery Charlemagne politely excused himself from Catherine to approach Anne and Johannes.
Upon his arrival Charlie greeted Anne with yet another kiss on the back of her hand and a soft, [#900 “Mademoiselle. Rosy cheeks as beautiful as ever.,”] to acknowledge her exquisite presence with a genuine smile. He then turned to Johannes, smile still on his lips. [#900 “I cannot believe you have neglected to tell me of your country’s magnificent women, Johannes. I am truly offended that you selfishly hoard them for yourself, sir.”] Charlemagne spoke, seriously just teasing the other man. Acting as such was just a regular things for the Frenchman because that was simply what his personality was like. He was humorous and sociable, so if Johannes was not able to see that by now, then he must be seriously blind! [#900 “I know we are not fellow countrymen, but please! Do be sure to inform me of these things, Johannes! One cannot simply let such an elegant creature such as Anne go unappreciated.”] Charlie stated. [#900 “To do so would be such a tragedy.”] the man added, carefully adjusting his hair so it rested on his back instead of over a shoulder. [#900 “I see him keeping you to himself over here, Mademoiselle. Do tell me, he treats you well, yes?”] Charlemagne asked of Anne. He truly felt sassy, but he did not want to leave Anne out of the conversation. That would be quite rude…
“I’m sure the kitchens aren’t horribly burnt. Maybe a little bit crispy from someone’s mistakes while you were gone,” Johannes jokingly said. He doubted the kitchen staff was that incompetent. They were probably all decent if not amazing chefs just not at Charlemagne’s level.
Stepping outside Johannes looked around to make sure his attackers weren’t hanging out in the area before looking back at Charlemagne. He didn’t like the fact that Charlemagne was leaving but he also understood. Johannes had taken enough of this busy man’s time. “I will be there. Hopefully you will be free for a little bit,” he replied as Charlemagne brought up the next party.
A smile twitched on his lips as Charlemagne mentioned his almost attackers. “I shall make it my life goal not to attract any other attackers. At least without you there to save me. I would never know what to do without you, my hero,” Johannes sarcastically said. “Have a good day Charlemagne,” was added as Charlemagne began to leave.
Johannes remained in front of the shop for a few more seconds, watching Charlemagne’s retreating figure, before turning and going his own direction. He might as well return to the embassy since he had nothing better to do.
Johannes didn’t know what was worst the annoying feeling of the wig against his neck or powdering his actual hair. Dinners like these always made him second guess his choices in keeping his hair relatively short. The wig was, as always, a nuisance and felt stiff to him. He knew it was just his imagination and it looked just like normal hair but he couldn’t help be grumpy about it. The wig wasn’t the only thing he was grumpy about either. Freiherr Sierakowski has cornered him the other day and had forced him to escort his daughter to the party. Johannes could have said no but this was one battle he knew instantly he was going to loose so he gave in to his demise.
Currently Anne was holding tightly onto his arm and was looking around the room with wide eyes. All echelons of society were mingling together, talking about all the juicy pieces of drama that occurred in the court. From what Johannes could hear a countess was caught by her husband with the stable boy and the chef. It was nothing remarkable but it was a nice juicy piece of gossip that the court was happily holding onto. Another piece was a masquerade ball that was being planned. Neither topics Johannes cared to discuss especially since he was on a mission to find Charlemagne. After their run in at the market Johannes couldn’t help but hope for a few more minutes of Charlemagne’s time. Even if their relationship didn’t go the direction Johannes was hoping for he could see them at least being friends. Charlemagne was fun to talk to and didn’t seem as stuck up as everyone else.
“Johannes, I see Catherine, I will be back in a moment,” A soft voice said at Johannes side.
He forced a friendly smile on his lips. “Of course, don’t let me keep you from your friends,” Johannes replied. His enjoyment of the party increased significantly once Anne pealed herself from his side. Turning around his eye scanned the room until he stopped on one figure pouring wine from what he could see. [i ‘Charlemagne?] He thought to himself. Taking a few steps forward he finally saw the person’s face and was instantly relieved that he hadn’t called Charlemagne’s name out or rushed over. The man, however, did look like he was related to Charlemagne and if he had to guess Johannes would say it was his older brother. He was a handsome man but Johannes found himself preferring Charlemagne and that was just on looks.
Before Johannes could make his decision on if he should mingle with the group Charlemagne showed up. That took any question out of the equation and he began his approach when he felt a hand on his arm again.
“Johannes, let’s dance,” the person said.
Johannes looked down at the woman at his elbow. She was batting her eyelashes at him and giving Johannes a sweet smile. Anne was a beautiful woman with soft blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. If Johannes didn’t prefer men he would probably be interested in her but he wasn’t. His preference for men was much stronger. However, he simply couldn’t say no to her. “Okay,” he lamely said as he led her to the dance floor. His attempts to talk to Charlemagne was foiled for now but he would talk to the man before the end of the night.
[center Charlemagne heaved an anxious sigh while listening to what Johannes had to say about marriage proposals. [#900 “My goodness, I honestly cannot fathom how that must be like. I feel like the idea of marriage is pushed so hard these days that it has me dreading the thought. I am kind of glad I am not the eldest son, though. My brother has done his part with marriage and having a child since he controls the business and estate now. And since he understands what that stress is like he does not bother me about finding a spouse, especially when I feel so ill-prepared.”] Charlie shook his head before polishing off his cup of tea. [#900 “And adding onto not feeling ready and being too busy, I just have not found anyone I actually liked enough to share my life with. I figure that if I am going to be with someone for the rest of my life that I better enjoy their company enough to make that happen and worth it.”] the Frenchman chuckled. [#900 “Even then, if it does not happen, I won’t be mad about it.”] Charlemagne shrugged, not to bothered by his prospective solitude.]
[center When Johannes moved to pay the bill Charlie moved to stop him, but the Austrian man had set the money down before the Frenchman even had the chance to stop Johannes’ hand. [#900 “You really don’t have to do that, Johannes.”] Charlemagne thoughtfully said. Although the gesture was kind, Charlie felt like it was the right thing to do; for him to pay for his food and Johannes’. Charlemagne wanted to think of as a small ‘Welcome to France’ type of gift, but the man was not keen on arguing about it since Johannes had already been so kind to him. Instead of pushing the subject further Charlemagne stood up from his seat before straightening out his coat. [#900 “We shall. Preferably sooner rather than later.”] the Frenchman simply replied, nodding as he spoke. He personally wanted to get out of the café before Cécile had the chance to talk him into staying any longer. [#900 “I personally still have a few work errands to complete before going back to the palace to make sure those I left in charge did not burn the kitchens down and work on making dinner for the Royal Family.”] While Charlemagne appreciated and admired those he worked with, sometimes the man did not entirely trust them, particularly the inexperienced cooks. But everyone started somewhere in their career.]
[center Upon stepping outside Charlie piped up again. [#900 “I think we should part ways here. But there is going to be another party in a week and a half. Maybe we’ll cross paths there again if I’m not drowning in work?”] Charlemagne stated, a bit of a smirk on his lips. [#900 “And please try to not get targeted again. I cannot always be there to fend off fools for you, Johannes. It is dreadfully hard work.”] the Frenchman teased, gently patting the other man on the back. With that Charlemagne turned and walk away to weave through the throngs of people on the walkways. So much still had to be done and he already forfeited time for some pleasantries with Johannes. Now it was time to get back to work.]
[center At the party in the palace more than a week later Charlemagne was as busy as ever. The man was directing wait staff, cooking, checking the quality of dishes before they were sent out. He was inundated with tasks before he went out into the dining hall where a roasted pig was laid out. Charlie had then tasked himself with carving off pieces for the guests who requested it for a period of time before he got one of the junior chefs to take his place, so he could go back into the kitchen. Honestly, things looked hectic in the kitchen, but it was running like a finely oiled machine. Before the event kicked off, though, Charlemagne had acquired permission from the King to allow him to hand off operation duties to a senior chef, so he could enjoy the party a little bit. Surprisingly the King had agreed, and Charlie simply took the answer and ran with it.]
[center After double checking the kitchen and the status of its operations, Charlemagne smoothly dipped out to visit his chambers and change into more acceptable attire as his chef’s clothing just would not cut it. The man was excited because he knew that his brother Sébastien was in attendance for business transactions, but Charlie also hoped that he would be able to see Johannes again. [#900 [i ‘Even if I don’t get to see him at least I’ll have the chance to dance and not worry about too much. That is a nice change if you ask me.’]] Charlie thought as he did a final comb through his exceptionally long hair. He was deciding to keep it down as it was much more aesthetically pleasing with his ensemble compared to if it were tied up and out of the way.]
[center Soon Charlie found himself mingling among the mixture of people. There was no animosity, simply the regular gossip and trivialities that accompanied life in the French court. Other than that, everyone seemed to be enjoying all of the bells and whistles that the palace had to offer during this week’s party. Earlier in the day, Charlemagne heard whispers of a potential masquerade ball and the man found himself intrigued but was already dreading the preparation it was going to require. At some point Charlie found himself asking his current dance partner if she wanted to get a glass of wine with him from his brother. The woman agreed and followed him to where Sébastien was, casually serving the finest of wines he brought from the family winery back in Bordeaux. All of this gave Charlemagne hope that it would be a good night with good wine and fantastic people…]
Johannes sent Charlemagne a soft and sad smile as Charlemagne imparted his condolences about his wife. “Thank you,” he quietly replied. Johannes didn’t mention his wife’s passing for condolences but as a reason why he had been so busy for so long. Those three months seemed to have been the longest and shortest months of Johannes’ life. There was always something to do, fix, or someone to see. There had been no moments of peace until recently. This was, perhaps, the first time in a long time that Johannes had actually gotten to do something that wasn’t productive in the more common sense. Even the banquet had been a work trip and not for leisure. As Charlemagne aptly put it French politics was ridiculous.
Johannes took a sip of tea and couldn’t help but smile a little when Charlemagne confidently asked if he would ever steer him wrong. “No. I don’t think you could,” he replied as he sat his teacup down. Johannes wasn’t surprised that Charlemagne had been in productions before. It just seemed right. It also was right that his work was keeping him from being in more productions. His own work kept him from doing the things he liked and his kids made it worse. “Hopefully you will have time to be a part of a production in the future. I wouldn’t mind seeing that show,” he said.
A comfortable silence followed as Charlemagne enjoyed his cake. Johannes enjoyed the rest of his créme puffs and suffered through his tea. He was hoping after the year he had spent in France he could come to enjoy tea and that was a negative. Coffee was such a better drink. He never wanted to thank the Turks but in these moments where he is sipping tea it made him want to. Their comfortable, sadly, silence was promptly interrupted by someone coming up to the table.
Johannes looked up at the woman. She obviously had an interest in Charlemagne if the shining in her eyes were anything to go by. Charlemagne, on the other hand, didn’t seem as fond of her. Sure he was polite to her but he didn’t have the same energy that was exuding from the woman. The only way she could be more obvious about her interest would be if she started batting her eyelashes at Charlemagne. When she looked at him Johannes had to keep him from smiling. She was so obvious about her interest and Johannes found it funny. “Madame, it is a pleasure to meet you,” he kindly said. Her attention turned back to Charlemagne when he took over the rest of the conversation. By the time she mentioned some deal Johannes felt a dark eyebrow making its way up, arching up in surprise that she would mention something personal in front of a stranger. He had gotten too use to backroom deals and actual issues never being discussed in public or in front of a stranger. Charlemagne response was perhaps the best part of the whole conversation. He, obviously, didn’t like what deal she was talking about because his face went from somewhat inviting to serious in a heart beat.
Once she was gone Charlemagne felt open enough to complain about the offer and it all made sense. Ah, marriage offers. It was a thing that haunted Johannes everywhere he went as well. His wife was a marriage offer that was made in some backroom without Johannes or Elisabeth’s input at all. They met a month before they married. Johannes didn’t fight it too much because he could never marry for love. Now that he had two kids he was in no rush to marry. He has done his societal obligations and he should be able to avoid the whispers of society. Too bad he couldn’t avoid marriage pushed . “Don’t apologize. If it makes you feel better I’m here to avoid a marriage proposal. Thankfully, my father got his way with my first marriage so he gets to stay away from the marriage proposals now or else I would be married by now,” he told Charlemagne. Moving to France also kept Johannes’ father’s slimy hands off his life. His father was obsessed with creating the most perfect life where their nobility means something instead of just being laughed at. Since his family were merchants first their nobility was never taken seriously. Johannes father was hoping to remedy that. By trying to do that he could be very controlling. At least him and his father had a deal that after Elisabeth his father would stay out of his life.
“No. I don’t really have any plans. I’ll have to return to the embassy at some point to give Franz his wine. All my work was done when I fled the office. How about you?” He asked as the check was brought out. Johannes took a quick look over the prices and was silently impressed. The prices were fair for such delicious treats. Despite not being fond of Cécile’s attempt to get married with Charlemagne he did intend to visit again. Grabbing is coin purse he dropped the exact amount of money down and turned to Charlemagne. “Shall we?” He said gesturing to the door.
Charlemagne was genuinely proud of himself for his hard work. If it were not for his determination, passion, and his brother’s support, Charlie knew that there was no way he would be able to achieve everything he has achieved so far in his young life. He knew that a man of his age would probably still be groveling below more experienced chefs. But, luckily for Charlemagne, the Royal Family had taken a serious liking to his personality and skill set. Instead of busting his ass for less prestige and respect, Charlie was at a level he was comfortable at being. Sure, feeding people with such picky palates was quite difficult. But the pay and subtle notoriety made all of the efforts and work worth it. Because at the end of the day, all that Charlemagne cared about was the people he served enjoyed his food since Charlie went to great lengths to ensure perfection. [#900 “I sure hope my brother appreciates my mercy. Otherwise, that rooster will be done for. I’d probably put it in a soup.”] the Frenchman shrugged, smugly sipping at his cup of tea.
After rolling his shoulders to help relieve some of the tension that they carried, Charlemagne carefully listened to what Johannes had to say in response to his questioning. With a thoughtful hum, Charlie nodded at the man’s words. [#900 “I am glad that you are able to get out of the embassy more. I personally would hate being holed up in some building in a foreign country when there is so much to explore and experience.”] Charlemagne said intently. However, the Frenchman’s brows did furrow a bit when Johannes mentioned the potential inevitability of getting involved in politics. [#900 “I must say, I do almost pity you. Of all countries to be in with politics. I have to admit; French politics are ridiculous. There is always something going on, I swear!”] Charlie shrugged, sitting back in his chair. [#900 “Next time you’re at the palace you should take a peek in on the libraries. And if I’m not busy perhaps I could convince the stable's staff to let us use the horses for a nice ride through nearby orchards?”] he offered, even more curious about the man in front of him. However, Charlemagne found himself shocked when Johannes told him that his wife had just passed away recently. [#900 “Dear God, my deepest condolences, Johannes.”] That certainly must not have been easy for the man. Charlemagne had watched his brother go through something similar last year and the grief certainly wasn’t pretty.
Figuring it was what Johannes had wanted, Charlie welcomed the subject change with no qualms. [#900 “Of course I was right! Would I ever steer you wrong?”] Charlemagne chuckled, winking at the other man. [#900 “I try to participate when I can. Unfortunately, I find myself so busy that I cannot be a part of productions as often as I would like.”] Charlie sighed. [#900 “I especially miss dancing since it has always kept me so fit. And acting plus singing because it is just so much fun. But it is what it is. I made a culinary career for myself, not an otherwise artsy one.”]
After spending a period of time quietly savoring the slice of delectable cake he was served, Charlie felt like he could go for a nap. But there was still so much to do in his honest opinion! But Florence’s sister, Cécile, emerged from the kitchens to check on the two gentlemen. While Charlemagne found Florence to be polite enough, he was a bit wary of the woman’s younger sister. She was much too naïve for Charlie’s liking since she regularly did try to capture the Frenchman’s attention whenever she saw him. And to make matters worse, the father of the women had been trying to marry off both women. While Charlie liked Florence much more, he did not want to marry either of the women. Marriage, in general, worried the man because it was certainly expected of him, but he was just [i so busy] working for the Royal Family. In addition to a jam-packed schedule, Charlemagne hadn’t been interested in marrying a woman anyway. Just the idea frightened him after watching what happened to his brother’s wife when she was dying of tuberculosis, leaving Sébastien and their young daughter Odette behind. Plus having children was nowhere on Charlemagne’s mind. Again, no time and zero interest.
[#0e3e1b “Bonjour, Charlemagne! Comment va-tu?”] Cécile chirped, clearly more excited than Charlie was to see the other. [#900 “I’m doing quite well, thank you, Cécile. Et toi?”] the man politely replied by offering a smile to accompany his words. [#0e3e1b “Oh, working hard, staying busy here in the shop. Though it is always a better day seeing you around.”] the woman said, Charlie giving a thoughtful hum. He really hoped that Cécile wouldn’t try to push herself onto him now like she had a habit of doing. [#0e3e1b “And who is this gentleman? I haven’t seen you around here before, monsieur.”] Cécile noted, looking towards Johannes with an inquisitive gaze. [#900 “Cécile meet Johannes. Johannes meet Cécile.”] Charlie noted, now hoping she wouldn’t try to pawn herself off on Johannes since he was a dashing individual. But she didn’t seem to have an interest in the other man like that. Cécile did offer Johannes the customary curtsey out of habit and politeness, though. [#0e3e1b “It’s a pleasure to serve you, Monsieur. I do hope Paris is treating you well enough.”] the woman nodded. [#0e3e1b “Everything is satisfactory, though? Nothing out of place?”] Cécile asked. Charlemagne gave a simple head nod of approval. [#900 “Everything is just fine, merci. Although could I receive a copy of the bill, please? So, I can pay it off early.”] Charlie inquired. Cécile curtseyed and gave an acknowledgment of Charlie’s request. [#0e3e1b “Also, Charlemagne, my father’s offer still stands.”] she winked. [#900 “I am sure it does.”] he replied, straight-faced before the woman turned around and moved to fetch a copy of the table’s bill.
When Cécile disappeared back into the kitchen to speak with Florence, Charlie couldn’t help but just stare up at the ceiling for a moment. [#900 “I wish their family would leave me alone about a forsaken proposal. Because they’re not going to get one.”] Charlemagne groaned, honestly exasperated. [#900 “Marriage is something I’m not worried about right now. But their parents keep on nagging me about it no matter what I say. And I can’t lie about moving away, because I frequent the markets so much that they’d quickly learn it’s a sham.”] the Frenchman shook his head, wishing that marriage proposals were not so petulant. [#900 “Color me ridiculous, but if I ever marry it’d be for actual love. Not for monetary or status gain.”] Charlie huffed, irritated to say the least.
[#900 “I do apologize about that. Just grates on the nerves a little bit, honestly.”] the man ended up apologizing after a minute, not meaning to rant like that in front of Johannes. [#900 “Do you have any plans for the rest of the day, though?...”]
[i ‘Wow,’] was Johannes’ first thought when Charlemagne said he was working in the palace for two years. Like Charlemagne said it was rare for someone As young as Charlemagne. Most of the cooks Johannes had the pleasure of knowing were much older when working for any important family. Charlemagne, if he was in the Austro-Hungarian court, would probably be an assistant to the Head Chef at best. Not running his own kitchen with the full backing and confidence of the Royal Family. It was really a testament to how good Charlemagne was at what he did. Not only was Charlemagne good at his job but also kind of funny. The rooster story did get a small chuckle from Johannes. He couldn’t relate to it but the imagery was funny. “Well aren’t you a kind brother by not eating the rooster. I’m sure your brother greatly appreciated the empty threats.”
His attention was pulled away when Florence returned with their orders. “Thank you,” Johannes happily said as he looked at his bowl of crème puffs. They looked absolutely delicious and the cake also looked amazing. He may have to return for that cake on a later date. Maybe he would send Hans out to see about getting a whole cake for the entire household. Johannes took the tea after Charlemagne poured his own. Personally Johannes wasn’t a fan of tea, preferring coffee, but he would take what he could get. He added a little bit of sugar before turning back to Charlemagne.
“Recently I’ve been leaving the embassy more. The last three months were rough and I spent most of it at home or fielding papers from home. Things have mellowed out enough that I have had time to leave and Franz has started taking me to events,” he said before taking a sip of tea. It wasn’t coffee but it was alright. Charlemagne was correct about his analysis of the tea though. It wasn’t too sweet and somewhat refreshing as long as he got over the fact that it was tea. “Thankfully I’ve avoided the worse of it when it comes to royalty and politics though that probably won’t last long. When I’m not working I do enjoy reading, riding, and going to the theater. Recently I’ve had very little time for any of those activities. In fact sleep is starting to become a rare commodity,” Johannes said. He liked to keep his family life away from potential partners but with a small needy child it was becoming a difficult to keep it separated. Deciding that it would be better to get it out than tell Charlemagne later he let out a soft sigh. “My wife passed away three months ago during childbirth and my daughter has been increasingly fussy to the point that my staff is on the verge of quitting. To keep my staff sane I’ve taken to watching her at night which ends the crying for longer periods of time but she isn’t fond of letting me sleep for long.”
He looked away from Charlemagne to pop a crème puff in his mouth. It was delicious, just as Charlemagne had said. It was so delicious Johannes had to keep himself from making an indecent moaning sound. Swallowing the deliciousness he looked at Charlemagne with an approving gaze. “You were right about the crème puffs, by the way, they are delicious.” He took another sip of tea before deciding to turn the conversation away from his own life. “Do you participate in any of the arts you mentioned or just an avid fan?” Johannes really wanted to ask if Charlemagne was married but didn’t want to be too forward. Or noisy.
Raised eyebrows of surprise appeared upon Charlemagne’s face upon hearing Johannes mention Bavaria. [#900 “I knew I heard a little bit of Bavarian somewhere in your speech, I just couldn’t tell for sure since you speak so well!”] the Frenchman exclaimed honestly beside himself for having his suspicions confirmed. [#900 “I have a friend who lives in the Bavarian mountains with her family. I’m not able to visit as often as I’d like, but Bavaria is absolutely breath-taking! The mountains and terrain are so scenic. It’s a peaceful place to be, in my opinion.”] Charlie grinned, fondly remembering time he spent in the German region. [#900 “But, yeah. Paris has so many people it is almost ridiculous. However, not everyone is the same and I find that quite interesting! I’ve seen my fellow French people, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, and now Austrians. Paris is a cultural epicenter of sorts.”] he added, honestly proud of his country.
After seating themselves and informing Florence of what they’d like to eat Charlemagne fully directed his attention towards Johannes, quietly observing the man and drinking in his image. Charlie had a positive impression of the Austrian man, if he were to be frank. To him, Johannes was handsome. He was refined. He was charming. These were all qualities that Charlemagne appreciated in a man, although he had never been able to fully express his interest in men without attracting dreaded negative attention. Sure, there had been old, mild rumors floating around the Royal Court when he first arrived. But now Charlemagne had become the subject of conversation because of his culinary skills, not his alleged after-work activities. However, such was life. The Royal Court lived by and thrived on conjecture and drama. When he flirted with women, nobody seemed to bat an eye, though. So, Charlie’s life was a skilled balancing act to avoid any trouble he did not want. While he wasn’t ashamed for his interests, he simply did not want to risk losing such a prestigious job. Charlemagne had grown to love his work in the palace and detested the thought of losing it if someone found out he enjoyed the company of men in his bed as much as he did women.
Johannes’ next question broke Charlie from his thought bubble, though. The Frenchman blinked several times, having gotten distracted by the other man’s image. [#900 “Oh, the palace.”] he echoed, straightening himself up in his seat to avoid becoming flustered from being caught offguard. [#900 “I’ve been working for the Royal Family for about two years now. Which is practically unheard of for someone my age! But I suppose it is a fate I was meant for. Opportunities like this don’t just fall into your lap every single day. At least I know it didn’t for me.”] Charlemagne shrugged his shoulders at the end of his response. [#900 “I will admit, though. I miss Bordeaux. I miss all the farm animals and the winery. I am so used to working outside that it’s fairly jarring at times being in the palace. Although I do not miss the damned rooster waking me up every single morning at home.”] Charlie rolled his eyes. [#900 “I would always tell my brother, [i ‘Sébastien, if this rooster doesn’t stop I will eat him for lunch.’] But I never did, though. I don’t know why since I loathed that bird’s existence up until I moved into the palace. I think my brother would not have been pleased if I cooked that rooster. He actually needed that rooster to raise more chicks that he could eventually sell to other farmers or for meat.”]
After taking another moment to think more about the subject Florence approached with a modest platter with a plate for Charlie’s slice of cake and bowl that contained the crème puffs Johannes requested. [b “I’ll bring tea out for you gentleman.”] Florence mentioned as she set each respective dish in front of Johannes and Charlemagne before disappearing into the kitchen once again to fetch the tea she and her sister steeped for the men. Quickly she did return with a tea tray that had saucers, cups, a kettle, a sugar cube container, and utensils on it. Swiftly she set the table with the tea items [b “Do let me know if you two require anything else.”] Florence offered a small curtesy before taking her leave. Charlie then began to pour himself a cup of tea, mixing in a minimal amount of sugar to sweeten the drink. [#900 “À votre santé.”] Charlemagne nodded before sipping his tea. [#900 “This is honestly refreshing; bright, but not too sweet. Yet it isn’t too subtle either. Excellently made.”]
[#900 “Do you get out of the embassy much, Johannes? What do you actually like to do? Assuming royal politics is as irritating as it comes across to others.”] the Frenchman asked, genuinely curious. [#900 “I really like the arts, if I’m to be honest. Dance, music, theatre, things like that.”] Charlie offered, quietly eating his piece of cake when he was finished speaking…
Johannes listened intently to Charlemagne as he replied to Johannes’ question. He could fully understand his sentiment when it came to how busy Paris was compared to a farm. Bavaria was much quieter than Paris. Or Munich. Or Vienna. In fact everything besides London was quieter than Paris. When Charlemagne asked his question Johannes had to take a moment to think of his answer. When he is need the door he finally had the answer to the question he never thought about. “It’s been a little over a year since I left Vienna work at the embassy here. Paris is...different than what I’m used too. I grew up in Bavaria where the nearest town was a small village outside of my family’s lands, which was filled with my family’s employees. Anyways I thought Vienna was huge and then I moved here and I’m absolutely amazed by the amount of people here. It’s so different,” he replied. Vienna was the third of the population of Paris and at the time Johannes thought that was big. Paris was absolutely huge and there was so much to do. He didn’t even know what to do when he first got here.
He followed Charlemagne into the shop and let out a soft sigh. It smelled absolutely amazing in the shop. “I can’t wait,” he said before Charlemagne greeted the shop owner. Johannes’ eyes were instantly greeted by the most beautiful sight in the immediate vicinity. Several delectable treats laid in the case just begging to be consumed. Everything in that case looked amazing. [i ‘I wonder if I can convince Otto to spar with me. I’m going to need to work this off,’] he thought to himself as he contemplated all the sweets he could consume. Hopefully he had the strength not to eat everything in sight.
“Madame,” he said acknowledging the woman, Florence, “and yes Charlemagne. I would dare say we are friends.” Johannes added. They had only just started talking to each other but Johannes felt that talking to Charlemagne was the easiest thing in the world. He was hoping they would continue to talk and meet up even though this meet up was purely chance. “The pleasure is mine Madame,” he happily said to he as Charlemagne chose a spot. Sitting across from Charlemagne he sat the bottle of wine on the table. The spice vanilla cake sounded heavenly but so did the crème puffs. Too many options and limited space in his waistcoat. Trusting Charlemagne’s judgment, and not wanting to eat everything in sight, he turned to Florence. “I’ll go with the crème puffs since they have such great reviews,” he said with a soft smile.
“So how long have you been working for the royal family?” He asked in a soft voice once Florence was off getting their choices. Johannes found himself way too interested in Charlemagne. Like he wanted to know every small thing about Charlemagne from what he disliked to what he looked like when he woke up. Shit, Johannes had it bad for Charlemagne and they just started talking. Johannes hadn’t been that interest in a man since Friedrich, a soldier who Johannes was with before marrying his wife and Friedrich getting sent out of Vienna.
Charlemagne’s eye narrows slightly. It was not in a malicious manner, but a playful one. [#900 “I [i may] be able to? What? Do you require convincing of some sort?”] the Frenchman asked, border lining on flirtation with an arched brow as Charlie shifted his weight over to his left side. [#900 “Are you Austrian folk really so stubborn? Shame.”] Charlemagne shook his head, a smirk on his face. He truly was just joking with Johannes, though. No harm meant whatsoever. [#900 “I honestly thought the offer of French cuisine would be enough, but alas. It is not. You make me work so hard, Johannes! Why? I thought we were on friendly terms!”] Charlie continued to give the Austrian man grief before laughing and shaking his head. He really enjoyed being able to joke around with Johannes, though. He was an amicable enough, in Charlie’s mind so far. At least that was the impression he had of Johannes.
After a moment, though, Charlemagne eyed Johannes carefully. [#900 “You really are quite the flatterer, Johannes. Trying to win over my favor, hm? I’m afraid I have nothing for you right now.”] Charlie noted. [#900 “But I appreciate the compliment. I’m glad you’ve taken such a liking to my cooking.”] he beamed proudly. Charlemagne practically worked his ass off to be as successful as he was, so it was always nice to be recognized for such. [#900 “I can most certainly help you to waste time, so you can avoid the embassy if that’s what you wish.”] Charlie winked at the other man before turning to lead the way to the patisserie he had in mind.
The journey was not all too bad in Charlemagne’s opinion. Sometimes the walkways were crowded and made traveling from one place to another rather difficult. But today there was only moderate foot traffic. [#900 [i ‘Hm, probably because of the time of day, I suppose.’]] Charlemagne thought as he waved to a few people he recognized along the way, giving a few greetings while in passing. But the Johannes spoke up, mentioning Charlie’s family winery! [#900 “Yes, currently my older brother owns and operates it. If I’m ever visiting home I pick up and help out around the land as much as I am able to.”] Charlie nodded, fondly remembering home for a minute. [#900 “Goodness, Paris is much busier than where I come from in Bordeaux. I’m, personally, more accustomed to the countryside and farmlands, if I’m being honest. But there’s a lot more opportunity for me here in Paris, which I enjoy. So, it’s a love-hate type of relationship most of the time with Paris. But I guess that bit of culture shock is just a given when you trade in raising animals and making wine for fancy dress and luxurious foods.”] the Frenchman shrugged at the end. He was by no means complaining, though. Charlemagne took the bad with the good in stride. [#900 “What about you? How long have you even been in Paris? What do you think?”] Charlie inquired, wondering ho the city would come across to a complete foreigner.
Upon arrival at the patisserie, though, Charlemagne grinned upon witnessing Johannes’ reaction [#900 “Right? The smell itself is absolutely divine, isn’t it? Wait till you try their foods! Decadent does not even begin to describe the sweets they make.”] Charlie practically sang his praises for the establishment, thanking Johannes when he held the door open. After stepping inside a dainty woman behind the sales counter of the patisserie warmly greeted them as she was cleaning the counters. [#900 “Florence! You look positively radiant today, madame.”] Charlie replied, the woman waving her hand to dismiss his flirtations. Florence and her sister, who was in the kitchen, operated the patisserie themselves, offering an array of baked goods from cakes and cookies to pies and macarons. With family recipes at their disposal, the two sisters did well for themselves.
[b “Who’s your friend, Charlemagne? I don’t think I’ve seen him around before.”] Florence mentioned, curious. [#900 “A new friend of mine, I’d like to think. Aren’t we friends, Johannes?”] Charlie looked over at the other man for a moment before back at Florence. [b “Nice to meet you then, Johannes. Please, do feel free to take a seat at any table you’d like.”] Florence gestured to their left against the wall opposite of the sales counter. Charlie then moved to take a seat before Florence approached them personally. [b “Did you two want anything in particular? Or are you stuck on the spiced vanilla cake, Charlemagne?”] Florence inquired only to have Charlie nod. [#900 “I am quite obsessed with that cake. I wish I had the recipe for it.”] [b “If I gave it to you I would have to kill you!”] Florence laughed, patting Charlie on the back. [b “And you, Johannes? Do you have a taste for anything in particular?”] Charlemagne glanced from Florence to Johannes in the moment. [#900 “I’d have to recommend the crème puffs, if you don’t want cake. They’re so light, but delicately sweet and delicious…”]
Johannes had forgotten that the French tended to have issues with the letter “H”. It was a letter that Johannes, personally, had a little bit of issues with when it came to speaking French so he couldn’t judge them. Johannes’ issue was depending on where the “h” was in the word determined how much emphasis he put on it even though he should be dropping the letter. He had gotten a little bit better about it but not by much. Progress, however, was progress. When Charlemagne said his name Johannes had been reminded of that pesky “h” and a small smile found its way on his lips. It was adorable how Charlemagne said his name. He wondered if he could get Charlemagne to say his surname one day just to see how he would approach that “h”. Johannes was, however, a hundred percent sure it would sound equally adorable.
Pushing those thoughts away he returned to the land of the living. “You may be able to convince me into joining you at the patisserie,” Johannes replied. In fact joining Charlemagne sounded much better than just spending time at home and it sounded even better than dealing with Sierakowski. There would be very little convincing needed to get him to go with Charlemagne. Pastries and avoiding Sierakowski? He was already sold on the idea to be completely honest.
The next words out of Charlemagne’s caused Johannes to let out a soft chuckle. No one wanting Charlemagne? Now that was an absurd notion; plenty of people probably wanted him. Johannes, personally, wouldn’t mind having him at all but he wasn’t going to say that out loud. That was predominantly because his intentions were a little less innocent. He wasn’t going to pounce on Charlemagne or anything but he wasn’t opposed to something happening. Johannes also wasn’t going to force anything. Instead of saying all of that he responded with “A lot of households wouldn’t mind your added knowledge to their kitchen.” Charlemagne, after all, was an amazing chef and any household he worked in would be at an advantage. Plus they would get the beauty that is Charlemagne.
“Lead the way, Monsieur. I have nothing to do besides avoiding the embassy,” he said once Jacques greeted Charlemagne. Once Charlemagne started walking Johannes followed him. For a few minutes Johannes remained silent as he gathered his thoughts. “I believe you said something about your family owning a winery. How do you like Paris compared to Bordeaux?” Johannes asked as the easily weaved through the crowds. Johannes never had the pleasure of going that far south. The furthest he ever went in France was, sadly, Paris and it’s surrounding area. He hoped to one day got further south and tour France but with a fussy baby and a new job he doubted it would happen anytime soon. On top of everything else Johannes also would like to return to Bavaria some day. His longing for the fresh mountain air may end up trumping his curiosity the longer he stayed in Paris.
No sooner did the words leave his mouth did Charlemagne stop at the patisserie. The smell that wafted from the street was absolutely decadent. While nothing could replace his love for apple strudels they could fill the void in his life just like the cheesecake the previous night. “It smells amazing,” he said as he opened the door for Charlemagne.
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