Not Quite Back To Normal

"Not Quite Back to Normal"

Who: Morgenstern, Christiane, Etoile, Sofia & Odette
IC Date: June 1940
OOC Date: Feb. 23, 2008

What: The citizens of Arras try to resume their normal lives but things aren't quite the same, what with the occupying Germans and all.

Logger: Christiane

Arras
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The Grid-----> > > > > THE GREATEST GENERATION < < <


Coordinates : 16 4

A fine example of a French town, despite the signs of modern warfare with several buildings completely ruined by German bombs. One area of this block is almost completely wiped out, other areas are completely untouched and makes a stark contrast to the ruins.

It is currently dawn.

Sub-Rooms :
1. Air Raid Shelter

Contents
Pierre
Sofia - 1. Air Raid Shelter
Christiane
Isaac
Etoile - 1. Air Raid Shelter
Morgenstern

Arras Hospital <AH> Cafe Mason <CM>
West <W> East <E>
South <S> North <N>

The cafe is open again, perhaps not to its former glory, but serviceable enough. It's not exactly pouring in customers, but the regulars stop by now though. Morgenstern is sweeping the sidewalk outside the cafe.

Christiane is working outside the cafe as well, standing on a short stool with a rag and bucket of soapy water. She's washing the outside of the windows, humming softly to herself as she goes through the task. She seems to enjoy the normalcy of it.

Etoile is discreetly slacking off, leaning against the doorframe of the cafe's main entrance while she watches the street traffic. Her expression is slightly furtive, but at least she's not smoking.

"Oh did I?" Christiane replies lightly, looking down at Morgenstern. She eyes him in a mock-studying sort of way. "Oh, yes. I think you're right." With that, she flicks some soapy water from her bucket playfully in Morgenstern's direction, laughing. She has not done a lot of laughing lately. She hasn't noticed Sofia yet.

Sofia stiffens now that she's been spotted. Hand in the cookie jar? Facist in France? Who knows? Whatever it is, she looks troubled and turns away. But now she walks slowly, just an ordinary Nazi, ayup. She probably seems bothered by the happy scene, as if her presence were a toxin dripping into a clean river. Who knows? "Ah…" She just murmurs to herself.

Morgenstern raises a hand to protect himself against his wife's attacks, after one last glance at Sofia. He mock-growls at her and takes a few steps closer, but reigns himself in after a glance at Etoile. He can't do such things in front of his daughter! "Etoile, we discussed how we'd live. I was going to ask Gabriel if you could stay with them for awhile longer, if you don't mind, or at someone else."

Etoile blinks, and looks over to Sofia as well. Everyone, stare at the German! "Huh?" she replies to Morgenstern when he addresses her, but doesn't glance over to him just yet. "…Oh - no, no, that's quite alright. There are plenty of people I can ask, although Gabriel has been a perfect gentleman about the whole thing. I wouldn't want to tax his hospitality."

Christiane stops laughing when she spots Sofia, returning to the task of cleaning. Her manner is stiffer than before. She gets the windows unspotted to her satisfaction then steps down from the stool. "I am sure Gabriel does not feel taxed," she replies to Etoile. Probably because the perfect gentleman of a married policeman is someone she considers a more suitable guardian than God-knows-who Etoile would pick. "We all must do what we can for each other now, after all."

Errrr… Sofia's left eyebrow just raises. She steps back, tiiiiiiiiiiiiilting her head. She just curls her fingers and backs up. In German, she murmurs to herself, "On an errand. Just on an errand," She is being stared at and looks rather uncomfortable, waving a little. Is there something on her face? Oh wait. The ARMBANDS. She looks sheepish, trying to hide the darker one. Turning red now. Her eyes dart to the side. She's … stepping away now.

"Well, hmmph," Morgenstern says, eyeing his daughter suspiciously. "I want to know who you stay at, if not at Gabriel's," he says sternly, speaking to Etoile like she's ten years old and wants to stay at a friend's house over the night. "It'd be /best/ if you stayed at Gabriel's," he adds and gives his wife support in that. Then, suddenly, he calls out to Sofia in German. <Nurse!>

Etoile stops eyeballing Sofia, instead looking to her mother. It's likely she can see how uncomfortable Sofia is, but she doesn't seem to care. "We'll see, I suppose," she replies to Morgenstern and Christiane both, and wrinkles her nose - especially at Morgenstern. "It can be awkward staying with a couple, though. They've been excellent hosts, but…You know." She shrugs. "I'm sure one of my girlfriends will let me sleep on their couch or something." See? She wants to stay with a female friend! That's perfectly safe! As Morgenstern shouts over at Sofia in German, Etoile does a pretty good job of looking nonchalant about it.

Christiane gives Etoile a long look. "Perhaps," is all she says to the idea. "Let us know who you wish to stay with. It would not do to impose." Or go somewhere with wild parties and rampant smoking. She eyes Sofia. Her expression is polite, but studiously impassive. Chrisa goes about most of her duties in the hospital looking like that, when the Germans are around. "Frauline…Weir, is it?"

Sofia pauses, at that. She responds in German, <Technically, Doktorin, but hello. May I help you?> She seems puzzled by this being called at. Suspicious even. A pause and a nod to Christiane, then in accented French, "Yes, Madame Morgenstern." Nazi or not, the woman is her elder. Maybe some shade of respect. Sofia must cling to some proper manners. Or maybe it's just her squishy underbelly. After all, she normally keeps a cold, commanding aura to her in the hospital. A distant stare too. Who knows? Nazis are mysterious (Admittedly weird) creatures. Etoile gets a curious glance though, in turn.

Morgenstern studies Sofia closely as she comes closer, and gives her a curt and polite nod without moving a single muscle on his face. He switches to French as she speaks the language. "Good day, Doctor Weir." He completely forgets to explain why he called her over and it takes a long awkward moment before he figures that out, adding: "I figured you worked with my wife."

Etoile rolls her eyes. "Of course, Maman," she mutters, most likely lying through her teeth, and looks back over at Sofia again with a neutral expression, much like Morgenstern's. She keeps quiet, and goes to take the broom her father was using earlier so that she can sweep the doorway of the cafe. It keeps her looking busy, at least.

"She has come to the hospital with the Doctor Schmidt's German staff, yes," Christiane says. Her jaw tenses at the phrase 'worked with.' Undoubtedly as to the 'with' part. Etoile is eyed, but her attention is more on Germans than muttering daughters at the moment. Though she's wary of both. "Is there something you are looking for in town, Frauline Weir?" Polite but cool.

"Yes, she knows much more about things here than I do, likely," Sofia admits. A strange thing. But. She is at least, the sort of ruler who usually leaves people to do their thing. So long as she doesn't butt heads. It also minimizes contact with Doktor Schmit. Notably, Sofia kind of just … nods at the Schmidt name. "Yes. Him…" The way one treats a powerful superior that often terrifies you. Sofia shakes her head, "I was just passing through. I am off shift." She peers at the building. "Ah. Um." Trying to be polite. "That is … a cafe?" The word seems unfamiliar to her. "My aunt lo—" She cuts herself off, stiffening.

"It's our cafe, yes," Morgenstern says and he narrows his eyes a tad, but he's not exactly trying to intimidate Sofia. He's just wary of her. "It was bombed," he adds and that could be taken as an attempt at a barb. "Just reopened it, wasn't that badly damaged but we can't live upstairs. Dr. Schmidt? Yes, my wife has mentioned him." And he doesn't say anything else, wisely. "Anyway, I've sometimes brought food stuffs to the hospital. It'd be good to talk to Dr. Schmidt on that, if he'd have some time."

"It -was- a cafe. Now it's half a cafe," Etoile mutters between her teeth as she jabs her broom at the paving stones, but thankfully doesn't say anything else.

Christiane shows no reaction to Sofia's compliment. If anything, it makes her manner stiffer. "Yes. My husband opened it when we first came to Arras, more than twenty years ago. It has been our home, and that of daughters. Only by the grace of God were none of us hurt when it was bombed. But we have managed to reopen. Life goes on, I suppose." She says all of that without any particular recrimination, but she goes through it all line-by-line. A hint of curiosity comes to her face, as to Schmidt. She seems on point of saying something. Or asking a question. But she refrains, watching Sofia's expression.

Well, Sofia can't well be a pilot or a general now can she? SHe just nods. "I see. I - " She seems uneasy at the idea of talking to Schmidt, fidgeting a little. As if ambivalent about the man, torn between continuing efforts to befriend him or resigning herself to cowering. A quirked eyebrow at Etoile's comment. "I see," Sofia's reply is short and simple. She's still uneasy. Sure, soldiers are but a shout away, but knowing what has been done and how people feel about it is pain. Truth is the sharpest weapon of all. "It's pretty," She adds after a moment. Even a Nazi-ette can respect the history right? Then she puts a hand over her forehead. That was d-u-m-b. "I mean that it was- is? Should be. Aaah." Sofia winces at that. "Nevermind."

Morgenstern waves a hand. "It's war," he says fatalistically. "Or was," he adds with some dry grave-yard humor, as Arras is now all 'peaceful'. "Life must go on, people must eat. How can I contact Dr. Schmidt?" he asks and raises his eyebrows.

Etoile gives Christiane a quizzical look at the repeated mention of this Dr. Schmidt, and stabs at some litter with her broom one last time before pausing, and leaning against the handle.

"How long have you worked under Doktor Schmidt?" Christiane asks Sofia. She stills sounds unsure if she /should/ be askining, but her curiosity gets the better of her. "I admit, I find him…a puzzle."

Sofia nods at that. She pauses though, giving Morgenstern a 'Why would you do THAT?' look. But she takes a breath, "Through me actually. I usually bring him patients and messages. He doesn't like to be bothered though," Sofia seems faintly nervous about it. "Still, I can help." Sofia pauses as Christiane asks her that question. "This is my second year," She doesn't seem to mind terribly about it. "He is a puzzle." Sofia seems to know more than she's letting on. Ah, the traditional sad backstory. Sofia is still troubled looking. She might say more, but they are in public. So she falls quiet. "Since Poland. I wonder if I should have stuck to being a baker."

Morgenstern squints at Sofia now, listening to what she has to say with the same kind of curiosity his wife has, just with less uncertainty. "Well, good I called you over then, Doctor," he says curtly. "I could give you a list of our previous business with the hospital. It wasn't much, but if you'd want to look it over… And of course, you can discuss it with Christiane."

"Poland?" Christiane just nods at that. Her tone is flat as she says the nation's name. The stories out of Poland have not been pretty. For a moment, a flicker of sympathy for Sofia crosses her face. But it only lasts a moment. "A baker might have been a safer trade in these times. But who knows? It seems little is safe these days. The doctor was…not what I expected, when I was told the Germans were sending a commissioner."

Etoile looks like she wants to wave her arms about and shout, 'BUT WHO IS DOKTOR SCHMIDT?!' Right now, she's imagining him as a shadowy, towering figure in a huge trenchcoat, wielding a scalpel or some other sinister-yet-vaguely-phallic object. An enigmatic man, cold and unfeeling, unburdened by human morality. A man with a dark past and darker pasttimes. Etoile zones out for a moment.

Odette arrives from the West.

Nod. Sofia peers over at Morgenstern, "Okay. I can take your list, but-" She seems to hesitate. She drops her voice to nearly a whisper, "Not … terribly … /friendly/." Her fingers curl at that. Sofia nods, perhaps accepting of the flatness. Another twinge. "I suppose. It would have been easier," She admits. And far more pleasant. She pauses at mention of a commissioner, and she looks like she is thinking. A little nod, "I think so. I am afraid while I am a bit unusual in my position-" There is even only so much Sofia, being a mere /woman/ is allowed to do. Only so much authority and respect given her. "Well, I try to keep up with the news. But they do not tell me everything."

"I'll let Christiane bring it to the hospital tomorrow," Morgenstern says. He seems to adamantly want to keep business running, even if means dealing with the Germans. "You done with the broom?" he asks his daughter and reaches a hand out for it. "Excuse me Doctor, I got to get back to work." He nods politely.

Christiane notices her daughter lurking and eavesdropping. Without even looking at Etoile she explains, for her benefit, "Schmidt is the new medical commissioner the Germans sent to oversee the hospital, my dear. He is…an odd man." Which is the only observation about him Christiane seems willing to make at this moment. "Has he been with German army long?"

Etoile stands up straighter, and hands the broom back to Morgenstern. "Oh. Can I come with you to the hospital tomorrow?" she asks Christiane. It's important. She has people that she urgently needs to gawp at. At Christiane's question, she looks closely at Sofia.

Sadly, the German woman does not sprout horns or anything cool like that. She might look sharp and imposing, in a way, she's normal. At least she's something to gawp at? A skinny German girl with a brick? Sofia is listening. "Of course, thank you," She nods. She seems accepting of Morgenstern's need to work. Sofia turns to Christiane, "Awhile more than I. That is what I know. There is mo—" She cuts herself off and shakes her head. "Ah."

Christiane makes a soft "Hmmm" sound at Sofia's answer. She asks no more questions. An eyebrow is raised at Etoile. "You /want/ to come to the hospital?" she asks. She is mildly surprised. And not entirely enthusiastic. But she does ask Sofia, "My daughter has volunteered with the staff before. She is quite competent." She manages to sound like she even believes that.

Morgenstern gets the broom and makes some quick few last sweeps on the sidewalk in front of the cafe, then sets it aside. He shoots a sharp look at Etoile when she asks to go to the hospital, but doesn't protest. "Alright, time to open up this shop," he mutters and steps inside to get work started on the inside too.

Odette rounds the corner of a pock-marked building and makes her way carefully towards the cafe. The neatly dressed woman's court shoes clack-clack on the pavement in time with her steps. She's got a purse on a long strap slung over her right shoulder and she hangs on to it with her right hand. The woman's dark brows are crinkled in worry. When she reaches the little group she gives Christiane a polite smile, "Madame," and nods at Morgenstern and Etoile. Sofia, never having met her before, she looks at with curiosity. She sees Morgenstern go into the shop and turns to the two French women. "Are you open yet?" She asks.

"I can help with the cleaning and assist in the kitchens, at the very least," Etoile states, flatly. "I doubt they're about to let me perform brain surgery yet, but it's early days. And helping out keeps me out of trouble." She crosses her arms, and punctunates her words with a small shrug. "The blood and gore doesn't bother me so much, and I'm sure it's much quieter now there are no BEF to bleed everywhere." She looks up as Odette approaches, and nods back. "Yeah, I guess. Business has just been a bit slow thanks to the fire."

"…" Sofia seems surprised by Etoile's response. But she nods, cautiously. "But I must ask you try not to … er, well," Sofia takes a breath. "-I- don't mind," She wrinkles her nose. "Okay, but please be careful," The German woman looks worried now. She seems to trust Christiane's judgement a bit but … "Right." What is she doing? Gaaaaaaaaah. This is all wrong. Sofia seems a bit perturbed by Etoile's comments. "If only you knew," Is her quiet response. "Anyway. I should not bother you."

"She will be helpful and keep out of trouble," Christiane promises Sofia flatly, on Etoile's behalf. The flatness seemed aimed more at Etoile than the Nazi woman. She /will/ stay out of trouble. She looks up at Odette's question, greeting the other woman with a faint smile. "Mademoiselle Follet. Yes." Her smile broadens at that. "It has taken much work, but my husband says he's able to serve customers again."

"I hope you did not lose anything valuable in the fire, Madame," Odette remarks quietly. She looks Sofia up and down, her deep brown eyes resting on the German's armband and the young woman stiffens slightly. Then she remembers her manners. "I'm Mademoiselle Follet," she says by way of introduction.

Etoile -looks- right at Christiane and offers her a forced smile. "Try not to what?" she prompts Sofia, before the German can make a getaway. She pauses a moment before replying to Odette, and offers another shrug. "Oh, just personal effects, stuff with sentimental value. That's just war for you, though. I'm just glad no-one was injured."

"Of course," Sofia replies. She backs away though, perhaps sensing that she does not belong here. Sofia peers at Odette, before quietly ducking away. "Just be careful," Sofia murmurs. That's not a cryptic response at all. Nope. She is going away though, unless someone calls to her.

Christiane looks over at her daughter when the girl says 'That's just war for you.' Her attempts at keeping her expression neutral fall away and, for a moment, she just looks sad and regretful. She sighs, taking a breath, composing herself again. She lets Sofia go, giving her a simple parting, "I will see you later, Doctor Weir." She uses the woman's title respectfully, at least.

Odette nods to Etoile. "You can replace them," she says with a note of agreement in her tone. Christiane's mention of Sofia's name makes the young woman glance sharply at the German's retreating back and she frowns slightly. Great. Another Boche come to boss them around.

Etoile eyes Sofia, but leaves her be. It's too late, though: Etoile's morbid curiosity has been piqued. "Exactly," she agrees with Odette. "Whereas I can't really replace family members." She glances back to the inside of the cafe, and wryly mutters under her breath, "Not even if I wanted to." Ahem. Etoile waits until she thinks Sofia is out of earshot, then mutters at Christiane, "What's strange about the Doktor?" Not Sofia. The -other- Doktor. She'll know who she means.

A pause. Sofia nods. She chuckles softly. "Strange hearing that title," A shrug. With that, the woman is practically gone. Just in time to miss Etoile's comments.

Odette gives Etoile a dry smile and her lips turn up in a slight smile. "Yup," she agrees quietly then pauses to listen to Christiane. She's been home caring for her ill grandmother, and has had to abandon her nurses' work for a few weeks.

Christiane smirks a bit when Etoile speaks of replacing family members. "We are all irreplaceable, for better or worse," she says, rather fondly. She's grown accustomed to Etoile's ways. "It is good to have you back, Mademoiselle Follet. Though I wish circumstances were better. The Germans have taken over management of the hospital." At Etoile's question, she frowns. "I am…not sure, exactly. He does not seem pleased to be here, though I suppose that is hardly unusual. I am just…unsure what to make of him. He is…not what I expected." Vague, that.

Odette nods uneasily. "At least we're not under fire any more," she says with a hint of positivity in her voice. "Who is this doctor you're talking about?"

Etoile gives Christiane a despairing look. "What does that even mean, Maman?!" she asks her. "For the love of God - does he have a withered hand and wear an eyepatch? Or a 100 yard stare? Does he keep animal fetuses in jars? The way you were discussing him, he sounded like some bogeyman from a fairytale." She takes a deep breath, and answers Odette. "Oh, some German bigwig at the hospital."

Christiane sighs at Etoile. "Where you get this morbid streak I cannot imagine," she says. "Schmidt is a doctor. A German doctor, and a functionary. He does not have an eye-patch or anything half so interesting. He is just…has a strange manner. He comes off as quite demanding. And rather…unpleasant. And yet…" She is about to add something more, but she stops, pursing her lips. "…I do not know. I am merely nervous, I think. I hope he does not do too much damage to the hospital."

"There's ways to prevent him causing too much trouble," Odette says with a faint smile but her worry is shown in the tension of her shoulders and the way the skin around her eyes have tightened.

Etoile gives Christiane a very long look. "You just did it again!" she tells her, pointing an accusing finger. "You just did what that German woman kept doing! You were going to say something interesting, and then you paused and decided not to say it! Maman, I GIVE UP! Aaauugh!" Etoile throws up her hands and paces off in to the cafe. Under other circumstances, she'd probably ask what Odette what exactly she meant by the comment she just made, but it's too late; Etoile has already committed herself to flouncing off, so now she has to stick with it. She marches back inside.

Christiane arches her brows at Odette. "Such as?" she asks. "I do not want to disrupt things too much. I worry for the patients and, so far, he does not seem to be doing more than moving the wards about a little." She just looks put-upon, in a long-suffering motherly sort of way, as Etoile flounces off.

Odette shrugs, unwilling to comment about what can be done. Maybe it's the impetuosity of youth that made her speak. Her cheek twists. "I heard that he's been asking for patient records," she says in a concerned undertone.

"He is reviewing the hospital records, yes," Christiane replies. "The Germans wish to trace the…ancestry of Arras' inhabitants." She shudder catches in her voice as she says it. In a lower tone she adds, "I do not think he will find anything useful in our records, however." She sounds a little nervous as she says that. She crosses her arms along her chest, as if suddenly chilled.

"Well isn't that a shame," Odette says mildly. The woman tucks a lock of brown hair that has fallen from her beret back under it and swallows. "My professor in Paris is Jewish. He is a communist too." She says in a voice barely above a as she gazes across at a ruined building. She doesn't trust herself to look at Christiane for a while, then turns her gaze back to the older woman. She quiet despair and worry for the old man fill her eyes. She looks at Christiane for some mothering comment that everything will be alright.

"A medical student who came to our hospital during the fighting, when the BEF is here, is one of them as well," Christiane says. She does not want to say the word 'Jewish' aloud just now. "He seems a good young man. I pray he keeps a low profile. Though how he will manage I do not know."

Odette doesn't answer. She just takes a deep breath, holds it, and lets it out noisily through her nose. "I must go, I've got some shopping to do for Maman," she tells Christiane. "Good day, Madame Morgenstern," she says politely and walks off, her court shoes clacking neatly on the pavement.

"Good day, Mademoiselle," Christiane bids to Odette. "Welcome home." Such as it is. She lingers outside the cafe for a moment, before turning to go inside. Closing the door firmly behind her.

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