An Afternoon Visitor

Who: Alice, Christiane, Henrik, Genevieve, Claude
Where: Cafe` Mason
What: A new face to town comes searching for an old friend.

It's early afternoon, well before curfew, and the cafe is as busy as it gets these days. Mostly French at this hour, though there's a German or two present. No place in Arras is German-free these days.

No Nazi-free zones? Alas. But even Alice has time for lunch! She's not got her kitties with her, although she has a couple of notes in hand. She peers in, smiling and seeing the French majority. It seems to put her at ease, this wide-eyed wandering blonde flake. Or rabbit. Rabbit in the sense of scurrying until it whacks into a wall, backing up, turning 90 degrees and keeping going. At least it has the sense not to hit the wall *again*. Either way, she looks a little happier, letting herself in.

Every place, except one, is Swede-free in Arras. Alas, the Swede-infested location is presently the Cafe, as Henrik leans against the bar, a bottle before him, empty save for the last dregs of beer at the vessel's bottom. Idly, the gruff foreigner looks up as another enters, expression neutral.

Busy as it gets. That means Gene is on the tiny little stage in the corner, doing her best to keep spirits up among the crowd that is here. She's got her usual pianist playing, the banter between them casual and warm. Her right hand is, of course, wrapped around a glass of wine which she sips between verses and songs…"Chanson juste pour toi, Chanson un peu triste je crois, Trois temps de mots froisses, Quelques notes et tous mes regrets, Tous mes regrets de nous deux, Sont au bout de mes doigts, Comme do, r, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do."

Christiane must be off from the hospital today. She's in her day dress rather than her drab nurse's garb and she's seated at the counter, having a lunch of sandwiches and tea adn talking with her younger daughter, Vivienne. Not that Vivi has much time to chat, as she's waitressing. The girl goes off, to clean a recently-cleared table, so Christiane's attention turns to Genevieve. Her head tilts as she listens.

Claude slips into the cafe, shifting a look around. His eyes fall on the few Germans. He doesn't sneer or gawk or anything of that nature but he makes certain to note where they are. His eyes fall on Alice. Or, more specifically, the cats she's brought in her wake.

Kitties indeed. "I am not sure you two should have followed me," Alice remarks, scooping up the felines to be held in her arms. Or if they wish, to climb onto her shoulders. She blinks, as Claude's eyes fall to her kitties. The woman offers a little wave and a smile. "Ah… uhm, you are not allergic?" Maybe she should have left them at home. But those German dogs… Fidget.

Henrik rumbles a worldess, "Hrm," under his breath as Alice enters and talks to the animals. A curt glance toward Claude, before the big man's blue regard moves on, not finding much of note about the frenchman. Turning back around, he idly picks at the label on the bottle before him, giving an ear toward Genevieve's singing.

Genevieve smiles as she catches Christiane's eye for a moment, raising her glass towards one of the establishment's owneres in acknowledgement and a silent cheers while she continues with the oddly sad, but quickly paced song, "C'est une chanson d'amour fan, Comme celle que tu fredonnais, Trois fois rien de nos vies, Trois fois rien comme cette mlodie, Ce qu'il reste de nous deux, Est au creux de ma voix, Comme do, r, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. C'est une chanson en souvenir pour ne pas s'oublier sans rien dire, S'oublier sans rien dire." The song is quick enough to almost leave her breathless by the end, but it does smoothly wrap, Gene bowing her head to the room then stepping back and motioning in the direction of her pianist. Alice and her felines get a long grin as she notices the trio entering also.

Claude smiles at Alice, his gaze lingering on the white cat with her. His hands are laced behind his back, but even so he looks half-tempted to pet it. "Non, Madame. I am not allergic. I am quite fond of cats, truly." He clears his throat. "But animals are not my concern. I am looking for a man by the name of Charles Chevalier? Perhaps you know him? I am told he frequents this place." If he notices Henrik glance at him, he gives no indication of it.

Kitties make everyone happy! "Oooh," A bigger smile to the man. "You can pet them, they like people." A nod. Then she tilts her head, "I think so, why do you ask monsieur?" She seems cautious, at the query. Alice seems to be catching on to never connect yourself to the wrong people, even as her neighbors were dragged away. Genevieve gets a little wave as Ignus wriggles free, that (now big!) orange tabby with an attitude. The little white female is more slender and much better refined. Miao, is all she says.

A sad little smile crosses Christiane's face as she listens to the song. She watches her daughter bustle about the tables, bringing refills of tea or fresh sandwiches to the patrons. She spots Alice, giving the other woman a wave and smile. But, seeing Alice occupied, she turns her attention to Henrik. "Monsieur Svensson. Bonjour."

Henrik remains at the bar and does not look back over his shoulder at Alice, the felines, or Claude. Very briefly, he thumps one hand on the bartop three times in something akin to applause as Genevieve stops singing, before calloused fingers close once again about the glass of his beer. "Madame Morgenstern," he voices evenly in return, turning his eye to the woman. "The day is good to you, then? Good."

Genevieve gives one last smile to the room, "Well, I'm going to take a break, refill my wine, and say hullo to Miss Alice and her adorable felines over there. I suggest you all do the same." She lofts her wine glass to the room, "The wine part, in the very least. Any requests, tell Jean over there, and I'll be back here in just ten minutes." With that, she gives one last wink to the crowd and steps smoothly down off of the stage, finishing off a gulp of wine as she goes.

Claude takes Alice up on her offer and reaches a hand forward to pet the white cat. She responds by purring, evening miaoing at him. Almost as if she's familiar with him. The other hand he keeps at his side. It's wrapped in a crude bandage, one might note, though he still has some use of his fingers. "I was passing through the road on my way to Calais and I wished to pay him a visit. I am returning to my family. The fighting separated us but…now, I am going home. Chevalier and I are acquaintances from his time at the university. I merely wanted to pay him a visit. Reacquaint myself, as it were."

Uh oh. Genevieve is inflating Iggy's ego. Come to the orange tabby indeed. Alice blinks, at Genevieve, her eyes widen. She waves to Henrik, spotting him while Mae the white kitty is being loved on by Claude. Alice nods, "I see." She tilts her head at the bandaged hand. "He is usually here and there, I am afraid I do not frequent that area of town much." Alice is obviously, not university material. "It is good you're going back though, monsieur." The kitties are basking in in their new fame, even as their oblivious owner is trying to answer a question.

"The day is good so far, yes," Christiane replies to Henrik, picking up her tea cup and stirring it. "I am away from the hospital for a day, which is pleasant. Doctor Schmidt is not the easiest man to work for, as you might imagine." A faint smile tweaks her lips. "And how goes it for you, Monsieur?"

Henrik grunts a wry, "Hrm!" to the description of 'Doctor Schmidt', before voicing more properly, "Any day where there is little work in a hospital is a good one. And every day in which I stay out of hospitals is good as well," he adds as to his own state. His chest rises and falls with a breath before Henrik notes, "No traffic on the river. No work to do. Nothing different than yesterday."

Genevieve smiles momentarily towards Claude and Alice, "Good afternoon. Don't mean to observe but.. I can hardly resist the felines." Gene admits, dipping down to Iggy's side and scratching his tabby head for a few moments. Almost as relaxing as wine. She gives their conversation one last, almost curious look, but then she stands and slips over towards Henrik and Christiane, catching the end comments about nothing on the river or hospital. "Mm. Leaves everyone more time to drink, yes?" She winks teasingly, setting her glass on the bar.

Claude gives Genevieve a look-over but, enjoyable as that is, his attention turns back to Alice before long. "Yes. I hope he will be pleased to see me," he says simply, idly clenching his bandaged hand. "Life has been so very unsettled of late but I hope, now, perhaps things can begin to return to their…proper places," Claude says.

Christiane greets Genevieve with another faint smile. "That was lovely, Mademoiselle. Rather sad, but it is not bad to think of sad things sometimes. It reminds us what is important." She nods to Henrik, when he mentions the lack of traffic on the river. "That is good to hear. I admit, I do not like the sorts of traffic the Germans bring through our town."

"…" That's an odd way to put it. Alice kind of blinks, but nods. Her kitties are revelling in the attention, purring and closing their eyes, even licking their whiskers. Alice is hanging onto the slender white female, putting her cheek to the kitty's. "I imagine he will be," She replies. "University types like to talk, and use such big words," Is she joking? Serious? Hard to tell! But either way, she's grinning. Ignus is rumbling softly, even rolling over to expose his oh so fluffy belly. "The others might be able to help you find Monsieur Chevalier though."

Henrik mutters with a frown to Christiane, "Good for some. Not so good to the ones who get a few francs unloading." A half turn of his head to eye Genevieve sidelong, "And not so good to the ones who aren't married to a wine maker." Briefly, his grim expression is tugged toward a grin, but the moment passes shortly.

Claude gets a laugh out of Alice's comment about university types and big words. "Do not worry, Madame. I always preferred actions to words." He gives the white cat another loving scratch under the chin before bidding Alice good-bye and taking his search up with the others. Henrik, first and foremost. "Pardon, Monsieur, but do you know where I might find Charles Chevalier?"

Genevieve's just slightly distracted by Iggy's antics, turning his belly to the room like that. She's in a surprisingly good mood, and the felines that make one's heart melt only makes it better. Of course, the wine that the bartener is topping up her glass with is the icing on the cake. She chuckles to Henrik, "Ah, it is not that easy. I can barely walk home ever without getting stopped and now I have to get some sort of damnable 'performance license'… But, will we help things by being sad and hurt? No… We are alive! That is something to enjoy, no?" She scoops up her wine and lofts it towards Chris and Henrik, "To both your healths." And another drink is taken.

Miao. French kitties have accents too? Alice nods, waving to the man. "I see," She replies quietly. Now, she can turn to Henrik, Genevieve and Christiane too. Henrik gets a wave and an Ignus who is now happily headbutting the tall Swede's leg after flipping over like a half done pancake. Headbuttin' like a Scottish soccer hooligan. "Hm, we are drinking?" Alice peers over, cautiously. Should she join in? The white feline is now stretching towards Christiane, pink triangular nose set to 'wriggle 'n sniff'.

Christiane bows her head in a small nod at Henrik's comment. "True enough, Monsieur. True enough. Perhaps we should all take such a practical view of things. It makes the days easier to get through." She blinks at Claude but does not speak to him for the moment. She works on her tea. Sip, sip. It's around the lunch hour and the cafe is as crowded as it gets these days. Mostly with French, though there's a German or two about.

Henrik glances down with a frown at the feline headbutting his boot. Damnit, those fluffy things are expecting him to coo at them again. Ah well, he's being spoken at. Toward Genevieve he rumbles, "Yes, we are alive. What better to celebrate that than sing sad songs about women leaving, and men crying. Bah!" A dry chuckle, before he dips his head curtly to Christiane's words. Not often people agree with him. To Claude, Henrik gives a long look, and replies, "Chevalier? Gotten religious. Spends some time at the church. You know him?"

Genevieve grins widely towards Alice, "Yes! Yes, we are drinking. Get yourself a glass of wine. On my tab." The advantage to living with the wine maker is she doesn't need all the money she takes home. Most of what she's earning here goes to paying her tab these days! Still, it's a good life. She takes another sip of her wine, eyes trailing over to the unfamiliar Claude for a few heartbeats. She steps back from the bar far enough that everyone can get into the little conversation circle, "Good afternoon, monsieur. A new face to town. That is always pleasant. Join us for wine?" She smiles across the rim of her glass before taking a sip. Her eyes momentarily flicker back to Henrik, "Then tell me what you wish to hear? A song. Just for -you-, my dear Henrik."

"Is he bothering you?" Alice tilts her head at Henrik. Ignus gives a little mew. Hey! Heeeeey? Heeeey. The slender white female is now squirming from Alice to Christiane. "Well, I guess I could stop for tea." Fortunately for Alice, the laundry doesn't sprout legs and wander off, neither do uniforms in need of pressing or repair. Germans don't seem to put much stock in dress or frilly undies, so her work load is light. She's settling happily into the background and listening.

Claude grins at Genevieve, though he shakes his head at her offer of wine. "I am only a passing face, Mademoiselle. I shall not linger long in Arras. But I do wish to see my friend Chevalier before I go. We are acquaintances, from his work at the university. Religious, eh?" Another grin. "Well, prayer can never hurt. I shall look him up." He gives his beret a little tip at Henrik. Awkwardly, as he has to use his left hand to do it. He half fumbles up with his bandaged right one before he remembers it is limited.

Christiane catches Vivienne's eye, and the younger Morgenstern girl scurries off to get Alice some tea. And make sure Genevieve's tab is up to date, most likely. She chuckles softly at Henrik and Iggy, giving the white cat a scritch on the head when it's near her.

Henrik's narrowed blue regard flicks to Claude's right hand for a brief moment, before coming back up to ask, "You know where the church is? Can show you, if not." He doesnt return the respectful beret-dipping, nor would he if for some unfathomable reason Henrik were wearing a beret. Reaching down to pluck up the unoffending cat by the scruff of its furry neck and drawing the animalup, splay-footed. He notes simply, "No," to her query, before handing the cat off to the woman. Aside to Genevieve, he rumbles wryly, "Ask me again, when singing it won't get you arrested."

Success! Operation Kitty Bosom Attachment aborted. Mae is appeased and the little female gives Christiane a croon, and a happy look. Poor Iggy's eyes go a bit wide, as he's lifted by the scruff of his neck. Hey! Alice nods, "Thank you." She murmurs and accepts the deposit of one (1) spoiled rotten feline. "Do you have a favorite to sing? And thank you," Alice nods to Vivienne and Christiane. Ignus looks subdued, giving Henrik the feline equivalent of a 'harrumf' and sniffs at Claude. "He has been at church lots…" Alice considers.

Genevieve frowns a touch to Alice, "Tea? Bah, it is not that early. I cannot tempt you into a single glass of wine?" She then looks sideways to Henrik, quiet a few moments, before she responds to Alice while looking at the foriegner, "Yes, actually.. a song Monsieur Henrik reminded me of which I had almost forgotten. I know it well now… and yes, Henrik, I look forward to that time." Is all she says about the song, an odd weigh to her words which isn't usually there when discussing frivolous entertainment. She smirks at the discussion of church, but her only contribution to that talk is a gulp of wine.

Claude doffs his head to Henrik again. "Direction to the church would be most appreciated, Monsieur. I have not visited it. But I am not, by nature, a religious man." He eyes the white cat again, before fixing his attention back on Henrik. And Genevieve. He's curious. "What song is that, Mademoiselle?"

Vivienne delivers Alice's tea, before flitting off to see to a couple of Germans. They're grousing about the beer, as Germans are wont to do. Christiane watches her daughter with some concern, but the Germans don't do more than complain at Vivi.

Henrik downs the last half-sip of remaining beer in his own bottle, starting to mutter his typical complaint about french beer, before scowling at the sound of the germans across the room. The empty bottle is set on the bar and he nods once to Claude. He too looks aside briefly to Genevieve at the other's question.

Rumbly kitties. They are content for now, and Alice seems pleased. "Well, I am afraid washing laundry and wine seem like a bad combination. Imagine the stories in the paper: Laundry lady found with smile wrapped in sheets. Cats confused." She shakes her head. The felines are sniffing, and Alice thanks Miss Vivienne for the tea. She blows on it and sips the tea. "Thank you." The sound of Germans makes Alice a little wide-eyed. She is a rabbit in the headlights. Still, tea time. And listening time. "Some people go to the church because it is peaceful, rather than for God."

Genevieve doesn't know Claude and, though it's just a small thing of a song, this is a momentary decision which she might wish to be sober to make. Still, an innocent question, surely? She flashes Claude that same, smooth smile as before, a touch of husky pride in her tone as she answers, "The Internationale…" And then her eyes return to Henrik, "I look forward to the day you will be able to hear it, Henrik." And, for just a heartbeat, a cold look is give to the German's bothering Vivi. Her gaze narrows all the more as she sees the men complaining to the girl.

A flash of surprise, and consideration, crosses Claude's face when Genevieve mentions 'The Internationale.' "I am familiar with the song, Mademoiselle," he says mildly, though he lowers his tone as he says so. "Though I have not heard it in some time. It has fallen…out of fashion, one might say." He looks to Henrik, brows arched. "You know this song, Monsieur?" He gives Henrik a second, more probing, look.

Henrik eyes Claude right back, growling on the heels of a snort, "In three languages." A hard look with the words, "Want me to point you at goddamn church, or not?"

Christiane does not seem to pick up on any interplay involving musical tastes, though she continues to eye Claude. He's a stranger in her husband's cafe, after all. But most of her focus is on her daughter. But she need not be concerned. Vivienne extricates herself from the Germans after they're done complaining, albeit looking rather deflated as she heads to another table.

A blink. Alice hesitates, looking curious. She quirks an eyebrow. "I am afraid, my kitties and I must go. There is a load of things soaking, and they will be all wrinkled." The woman snuggles her kitties one good time. "Thank you," She pays for her tea, even adding a little tip for Miss Vivienne. "Be well."

Claude grins at Henrik's affirmation that he knows the song. Almost eagerly. He nods. "Yes. Please, Monsieur. If you would be so kind. The help of a comrade would be most welcome." Whatever that means. He offers Alice a parting nod. "Take care of that cat, Madame." He indicates the white one. "She is a lovely creature." He watches the feline go rather sadly.

Genevieve smiles widely to Alice, "I am going to come by with a bottle of wine for you and Gabriel. You cannot escape it." Gene winks at the woman, giving one last wave before she turns back to the others. She takes a good sip of her wine, nearly finished with this glass. She'll get another to take to the stage with her, she usually drinks at least one a break. "I'm half tempted to entertain you gentleman and damn the rest but… I would not wish to bring trouble upon our dear hostess here." She nods towards Christiane, her smile a touch more muted now. "Though.. perhaps you boys are wishing to attend to church anyway. Don't let it cleanse you too much, that's no fun."

Christiane inclines her head to departing Alice. And Henrik, while she's at it. Claude earns the barest downward tilt of her chin. Though she does smile at Genevieve. "Your songs have not brought trouble yet. It is a pleasant distraction, if only for a moment."

Henrik rumbles to Genevieve, "Cleanse? Don't worry. Hands tend to get dirtier in churches." Without offering explanation for the odd comment, he eyes Claude to voice, "Come on, or stay behind. Madame," he offers in parting to Christiane. "MAdame," is repeated to Genevieve.

Claude comes along with Henrik, shifting a passing glance to the drinking Germans as he goes.
"Monsieur," Christiane offers simply to Henrik as he makes to be off with the stranger. "May the day be good to you."

Genevieve considers the men, before looking momentary to Christiane, "Would you mind if I got some fresh air, Madame? It is not often I attend church. Perhaps it is time." Apparently, Gene's a touch too curious for her own good. She stands, finishing her wine and nodding toward Vivi, "Just take it out of the pay, and a good tip for you.." Before she moves to join the men. She's coming, unless she's stopped, wine having given her enough courage that curiousity outweighs politeness."

Christiane inclines her head to Genevieve. "Of course. I think Markus will forgive you a break for church, Madame." That said, her own attention turns back to her lunch.

Henrik makes no further comment or complaint, simply turning and walking out of the cafe at the same unhurried pace which ever bars him around Arras these days. The door is pushed open, and eyes narrow against the light of the autumn day outside as the big man steps onto the street.

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