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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.
Charlie's dark eyes occasionally glanced in the direction the group of men ambled off to. He wanted to make doubly sure they wouldn't come back to cause further trouble for Johannes and disrupt the general peace of the markets. [#900 "It's really nothing. There are really only two groups of people we should worry about right now; the Prussians and the English. Plus you were simply minding your own business! And to attempt provoking a fight in broad daylight in front of so many innocents is entirely wrong. Nobody needs to see such violence. Especially children."] Charlemagne nodded, feeling immense indignation towards such an offence. [#900 "If you ask me, Austro-Hungary is a saint in comparison to England and Prussia. Sure, not everything is so clean and simple, but you don't deserve mistreatment simply for being in France."] Charlie heaved a sigh, obviously aggravated by the whole situation. [#900 "Just the audacity of some people! It drives me up the wall."] The Frenchman shook his head, shifting his weight from one foot to another. Such displeasure left a bitter taste in Charlie's mouth and he hated the sensation of such vehement emotions. [#900 "Plus the idiot clearly had no idea how to handle a sword! Yet he thought he could point his at me like I'd be scared. Absolutely ludicrous!"] Charlemagne ranted, exhaling through his nose.
After taking another moment to calm down Charlemagne intently listened to Johannes speak. In the back of his mind Charlie couldn't help but admire just how [i precious] Johannes sounded speaking French. It was not as smooth as a native speaker, but he was eloquent in Charlie's opinion as a native speaker. The small quirks in the taller man's accent was even endearing and Charlemagne found Johannes' voice a pleasure to listen to overall. [#900 "Mon Dieu, ultimatums are so unfair."] Charlie commented, straightening his posture to stand upright as he needed to. [#900 "Sounds like this Baron is an unsavory one."] He stated, an amused eyebrow cocked up above an eye.
But his amusement quickly faded and was replaced with a sinking sense of dread. [#900 [i 'So. Many. H's.']] Charlie thought before mentally running over how the other man pronounced his name. [#900 [i 'Damn! Why is French like this???']] Charlemagne mentally cursed how French specifically made it nearly impossible for him to pronounce such a simply letter in any word outside of French. The Frenchman simply could not wrap his mouth around how to pronounce the word without putting an obscene amount of effort into it and sounding like an idiot. But despite this mild despair Charlemagne smiled. [#900 "It's great to officially meet you, Johannes."] Charlemagne still wanted to be polite of course.
[#900 "I actually was tasked by the King to come here today and spend the day putting in orders to replenish the kitchen's stock of ingredients. Banquets always puts our inventory pretty low despite so much planning going into the event. Sometimes accidents happen and dishes are dropped, or food is burned. Happens to everyone in the kitchen, even me."] Charlemagne shrugged. [#900 "But I have literally all day and I've been really wanting to stop at a local patisserie. You should come with me!"] the man grinned, hoping he wouldn't have to run his errands alone that day. [#900 "Although I'm not sure who would want to steal me away anyway. I literally just cook and am a pretentious wine snob."] Charlemagne laughed, poking fun at his work, especially being a wine sommelier. [#900 "Pretty sure if someone stole me away, they'd return me the same day!"] the man cackled. [#900 "It would be a terrible choice, really."]
Charlemagne then looked over at the wine vendor, recognizing the man immediately as they were practically in the same business. [#900 "Jacques! Always nice seeing you in good health. Busy day today?"] Charlie nodded in acknowledgment at the man. While he had a few critiques about Jacques' wine, Charlie respected his fellow countryman's passion and work ethic. He then looked back at Johannes. [#900 "I really do insist about the patisserie, though. Being so new around here you should know about the best eating spots in the area. So, what do you say, Johannes?..."]
Johannes wasn’t really willing to deal with these men today. They were rude and had the ugliest personalities ever and that was just going off of if their willingness to verbally abuse him for his homeland in front of women and children. It was absolutely a disgusting and unnecessary display and Johannes was not having it. “Monsieur,” he blandly hissed to cut off the tirade. “There is absolutely no need to make a scene in front of so many by standards,” Johannes finished in the iciest tone he could muster.
While Johannes was calm and collected on the outside he was somewhat worried about his safety. He was banking on these men not wanting to fight in front of the stalls despite the fact they looked ready to. Johannes, sadly, did not have a sword on him but he did have a decently sized dagger stored away and concealed by his waist coat. He was confident in his abilities to avoid a sword enough to get close and personal so that he could use his own weapon if need be. But he rather not. His skills had come from having two older brothers. He had to learn how to fight early on in life and he wasn’t too shabby at it. He was good enough that he garnered the attention of a few generals in the past. If he hadn’t married his wife he would be in the military right about now.
Obviously those weren’t the right words to say because the men began another bout of verbal abuse and started to move closed. Before Johannes could reply his knight in shinning armor came and saved him. Before him was Charlemagne, looking fierce, despite his smaller stature. His tongue was even fiercer as he ripped into his fellow Frenchmen for being rude. It was a beautiful sight that warmed Johannes’ heart. It was also more beautiful when his attackers huffed and walked away all while spouting countless obscenities.
“Thank you,” Johannes said to Charlemagne once the men left his sight. Johannes’ day was instantly looking better with Charlemagne having appeared out of nowhere. He didn’t fully understand why but Johannes was drawn to Charlemagne. Johannes knew that Charlemagne being attractive did help in the attraction but there was just something else as well. Whatever it was Johannes wasn’t going to ponder it too long. Instead he was going enjoy this near stranger’s presence and thank whatever God he needed to that his prayers were answered.
“Monsieur von Wächter gave me an ultimatum. Deal with Baron Sierakowski or run an errand. I chose the one less likely to annoy me,” he replied as he took in Charlemagne’s appearance. Charlemagne just so happened to be just as handsome in natural light as he was in candle light. If anything he was more handsome. [i ‘Stop it,’] he chastised himself mentally. Johannes had been seconds away from silently serenading Charlemagne and that wasn’t something he felt necessary just yet.
Standing there he realized that Charlemagne most likely didn’t know his name. Johannes was still new enough to the court that very few people knew his name. In fact the only reason him and his wife left Bavaria was because Marie Antoinette had requested his wife’s presence and Franz needed another aid. They had arrived to Paris and the his wife ended up pregnant so she worked very little with the Queen and Johannes had been learning his new job. Now that sometime had passed he was making more outings.
“I feel like I have you at a disadvantage by knowing your name Monsieur Marquis and by you not knowing mine. I am Johannes von Hügel,” He said to Charlemagne in hopes of remedying that issue. “What is the court’s head chef doing out and about? I imagine the King and Queen would have you locked up so that no one could steal you away.”
Jacques had returned just after Johannes finished talked and cleared his throat. “Monsieur, I have the wine. The ambassador has already paid for it,” the man said as he sat out the bottle.
Johannes looked away from Charlemagne for a moment to look at the wine. It was exactly what Franz had ordered and was his normal wine that he kept stashed in his office. It was probably a replacement bottle for the one he completed a few days ago. “Thank you,” he replied as he grabbed the bottle. While the wine wasn’t nearly as good as the wine at the banquet it would do.
With the wine in hand he took a small step to the side not to block the stall turned his attention to Charlemagne.
After Charlemagne finished his dinner the man lingered outside on the terrace for a little while longer. He did not like to rush eating, nor drinking. The man leisurely sipped at his wine glass, watching the moon as it shone so brightly in the sky and the clouds as they lazily rolled on by in the night. An occasional guard would walk by as they went about their patrol, stopping to ask what Charlie was doing outside so late on the terrace. But the man didn’t mind the questioning. It was just the guards do their job. Thus, he kindly explained he had finally been able to eat and was taking his time to savor his wine and enjoy the mild weather of the night. The guards had simply nodded and gone back to doing their rounds, leaving Charlie to his post-banquet relaxation.
Charlemagne certainly did get a thorough night’s rest, though! By the time the man had gotten back to his room and dressed in the applicable nightgown, he passed out cold as soon as his head hit his bed’s pillow. But when the morning time rolled around Charlie had woken up when a maid knocked on his door to retrieve his laundry and bed linens. The man was grateful for the palace staff as their work helped streamlined his own. He didn’t have to worry about frivolities such as making his bed, dusting, and general rearranging of various items. But, he didn’t make the staff do all the work. After all, he was a farm boy at heart and was raised to have a tough, but honest work ethic. Plus, if he had the time between his main duties, Charlemagne especially enjoyed helping the outside staff tending to the gardens. Back when he started working for the Royal Family, Charlie had started a section of the gardens dedicated to growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables to help the palace be more self-sufficient in terms of getting food. Plus, the man was a firm believer that fresh, homegrown ingredients were the absolute best for cooking. However, he did not have everything he wanted in the gardens on the palace’s property. This was why Charlemagne frequented farmer’s markets as he knew those held products and ingredients he could use to better his cuisine for the Royal Family.
And today was a day dedicated for a whole trip to the farmer’s market at the request of the King himself. He was given a very generous allowance, an amount that still made Charlie choke to this day, to buy whatever he deemed necessary for the kitchen’s operations. And while the King insisted Charlie go to the market’s dressed in fine clothes to show he was operating under Royal authority, Charlemagne kindly declined and opted to dress casually for comfort and to not stick out like such a tacky sore thumb at the markets. But Charlie did take the sword that had been bestowed upon him by the King at the beginning of his employment. It was the only ornate thing on the man’s person as he boarded a carriage destined for the markets.
The wind that blew through the window of the carriage was refreshing; it was a fine Spring morning and Charlie inhaled deeply to fully appreciate the freshness it had. As the wind toyed with his long, dark locks of hair Charlemagne gazed out at the passing scenery. He was thinking about what he needed to buy. The banquet the evening before. That one dashing man he had served during the banquet. [#900 “Quite dashing, I must admit… Austrians..”] Charlie chuckled, shaking his head free of the thought. That was none of his business. Besides, Charlemagne was usually so busy with the culinary arts he rarely had time to even consider romancing anyone, man or woman. He did dabble here and there, but nothing as scandalous as some other people in the French Court. [#900 [i ‘At least it’s nothing like what Madame de Pompadour was like. Now she was a real talk of the court, may the good Lord have mercy on her soul.’]] Charlie sighed, almost amused by the stories he remembered hearing about her since he was a mere teen by the time she died. [#900 “The Court is still dramatic as ever, though. There really is no lack of scandalous affairs or anything of that nature.”] he talked to himself, killing time during the trip.
By the time he got to the markets, Charlemagne had a whole mental list of things to purchase to have delivered to the palace. He went around from stall to stall, sampling herbs and wines, putting his chef and master sommelier skills to good use as he did so. For the most part, he was minding his own business, talking to a farmer about putting in an order to have pre-slaughtered chicken, beef, and duck delivery set so the palace could restock on those items. He eventually moved on to a tea vendor, Charlemagne enthralled by the woman’s extensive knowledge of herbs and flowers, different types of teas, and their health benefits. [#900 “I wonder if there is such a thing as a thé sommelier because you definitely are one! I’ll take an order for your mint, jasmine, and green tea, and your chamomile and lavender blend. I think would pair wonderfully with a nice light snack for a tea hour sit down.”] Charlie grinned before he heard some rowdy men trying to start a scuffle a few stalls down from him. He looked over to see some bitter men and that man from the banquet last night! Disgusted with their demeanor Charlemagne immediately walked over and put himself between the man and Johannes. Despite being noticeably shorter than Johannes, Charlie was a fearless man. His stature, or lack thereof, never deterred him. And it didn’t matter to him now.
[#900 “You all need to back off. Who do you think you are? Trying to start a fight in the middle of public in broad daylight! In front of children and families, no less.”] Charlie glared, hands defiantly at his waist. The man that looked like the leader of the small gang of men scoffed at Charlie in response. [b “Who are we? [i Who are you?] Trying to defend the enemy? How can you call yourself French? That should be treason! [i Disgusting!”]] the man jeered, even drawing his sword to point at Charlie. But Charlemagne did not draw his. It stayed in its sheath at his hip. [#900 “Being a decent human is nowhere near treasonous. And it’s not Austrians we need to worry about. It’s the Prussians. Get yourself together! Plus, a man who is so quick to draw his weapon clearly has no use for it other than intimidation. So, I suggest you put that away now. You’re needlessly scaring women and children. Now [i that] is disgusting, monsieur.”] Charlie stood his ground, not budging an inch. And as tense as the atmosphere was for the situation, the group of men simply spat curses at Charlie before ambling away in the opposite direction. There were far too many witnesses and even guards to follow through with their original intentions of roughing up Johannes.
[#900 “Ridiculous. I am so incredibly sorry that happened. Some Frenchmen are overzealous with their patriotism that it blinds them of who the real problem is. But you’re otherwise fine, yes?”] Charlemagne spoke, turning to face Johannes. [#900 “Sometimes people forget what France is and what she stands for. Hopefully, scuffles like that won’t happen again.”] he added, brushing his hairs over his shoulders onto his back as the breeze had been blowing them around. [#900 “What brings you to the market, though? Aside from the bitter lack of hospitality from some fools?”] Charlemagne inquired, attempting to poke fun at those men’s ignorance…
Johannes felt a small tug at the corner of his lips, a smile threatening to break out on his face all because of such a simple thing as an honest laugh. He would really have to find this man again. If only to talk and that’s it.“Thank you but one slice is good enough for me. I would like to leave with a fitting waist coat,” Johannes said as the piece was laid before him.
He only gave the cheesecake a precursors glance before turning his attention back to the man. Before he had to be the one to man up and ask for a name the lady next to Franz asked.
Charlemagne Marquis. Mentally Johannes said the name, rolling the letters off of his tongue a few times until he was sure he wouldn’t mess it up horribly. Having a name to a face was something he could work with if he wanted to see Charlemagne again. It was also something he was going to commit to memory. He may even look into getting some of the wine from Charlemagne’s family winery.
Sadly, it seemed a Charlemagne’s time had run out because soon he was leaving the area. Johannes, however, was too caught up in the information he just found out to be too sad to see Charlemagne go. He had been wrong. The other man had been the head cook. Damn, there went his chance to marry the cook and steal them away from the King and Queen.
[center [i ~]]
The happiness Johannes had felt after the banquet was quickly squashed as he took the first few steps into his home. The door wasn’t even closed and his hated powder wig wasn’t even off as the screeching graced his ears followed by frantic clacks of heels across the floor. Johannes sighed as he slid the accursed item off of his head and handed it over to Hans, his butler. As he turned around he was greeted with a stressed lady and a screaming baby. Behind her trailed a sluggish and sleepy child.
“Monsieur, I couldn’t get her to quiet down,” she said.
Johannes took the last steps towards the stressed woman and easily took Maria from her. “I’ll take her. Go get some rest,” he gently said as he carefully cradled Maria in his arms. His son walked up to him and hugged his leg. “Johannes, you should be asleep,” He added as he began to rock the screaming child.
“Sleepy,” was all the small dark haired child said.
Johannes just sighed fondly at the child. Despite not wanting children before he had to admit that he loved these two brats. Even when they were being little pains in the ass, like now. Nudging his son forward they made their way up the stairs and into Johannes’ room. Almost instantly his son climbed into the bed and curled up in Johannes’ spot. Johannes just rolled his eyes at the child before turning to Hans. “Could you hold her and I’ll change myself,” he said as he offered up the sniffling child. The moment Hans took her Johannes leapt into action. With very little care if the expensive waist coat he shed his clothing and slipped on his sleeping shirt. By the time he was dressed Maria was beginning to fuss and Hans did not look amused.
“Do you know if Maria was fed before I got home?” He asked as he took his daughter.
“She was fed right before you got home,” Hans said as he picked up the clothing.
Johannes laid down in bed and rested Maria on his chest. Almost instantly his son rolled over and attached himself to his side. [i ‘This is really my life now,’] he thought to himself. He could be like his own parents and not even let his son near his room but Johannes wasn’t that heartless. Instead he would silent suffer as one kid laid on him and the other trying to. His last thoughts as he drifted off to sleep were that he hoped to see Charlemagne Marquis again.
[center [i ~ ]]
Johannes’ rest did not last long. After a few hours Maria became fussy again and he had spent the rest of the night rocking her. What little sleep he managed were him sitting on a chair, leaving him with a stiff neck. Needless to say he was not in a rather friendly mood. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of work for Johannes to do at the embassy. There were a few letters he needed to pen and input on details for a banquet where requested but no people to deal with. Well that was until Franz walked in.
“Johannes! Do you think you could pick up my order of wine from the market? I had to send Otto out to send the post and Freiherr Sierakowski decided to visit... Unless you wanted to deal with him. He has been asking about you a lot recently,” Franz said a shit eating grin on his face.
Freiherr Sierakowski was a baron whose wife was French and spent the majority of his time in France. He also only had one surviving child, his daughter Anne, who he wanted to marry off. His wife was also pushing for Anne to marry someone who would be in France so that she could see her daughter without traveling to Austro-Hungary. The person the Sierakowski family set their sights on just happened to be Johannes, who wasn’t in the market for a wife ever again. Franz caught on pretty quickly what was going on and at first was angry because his daughter’s body wasn’t even cold when the Baron started to push his daughter at Johannes. Now Franz found great amusement in tormenting Johannes with it.
“I’ll get the wine. I’m assuming the same vendor you normally get it from?” He said as he rapidly stood up and straightened his waistcoat. There was not enough money and prestige in the world to get him to stay.
Franz smirked, “Ja. Come back in a couple hours. By then he should lose interest.”
Johannes didn’t have to be told twice as he quickly left the embassy and made his journey to the market. Johannes hardly ever went to the market but he had committed the path to memory. The hustle and bustle of the market was something nice and let him slip into the crowd unnoticed. As he walked past several stalls he contemplated what he should do with his last minute freedom. He could find a shop, buy a book , and find a nice tree to sit under and enjoy the nice weather. Or he could get the wine and return to his home which wasn’t too far. It was in walking distances though he was sure Hans would lecture him for walking instead of taking a carriage. Despite the promise of a lecture the second idea sounded best. Making his way to the stall he saw Jacques who sold wine from his family’s winery. While the wine was good it wasn’t as good as Charlemagne’s wine but it would do.
“Bonjour,” he said to the middle age man. “I’m here to pick up Monsieur von Wächter’s order,” he said, the words a little stiff coming off his tongue at the end. Johannes always made an effort to speak French instead of slipping into his native tongue. Normally he didn’t have too many issues but it always tripped him up speaking French and then saying a German name.
Jacques nodded. “Give me a moment Monsieur to grab his order,” he said as he left his assistant to man the stall.
“Look what we have here boys! A lost enemy. Maybe we should show him how much we love his kind,” a voice said behind him.
[i ‘Fuck me,’] Johannes thought to himself. He really didn’t want to deal with this.
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