Title: Craig Na Dun 2 – Finding Frank
Written: SEPTEMBER 2017 (ending February 15, 2018)
Fandom(s): Outlander/Harry Potter
Pairing(s): fem!Harry/Frank Randall, (past) Frank/Claire, (past) fem!Harry/Nazi
Summary: Three eggs again, only this time she would hopefully get it right with Frank, if only he can accept she has a daughter.
Warnings: Rule 63, Time Travel, Nazism, Memory Loss, Infidelity, Death, Loss of Magic
There were three eggs in the frying pan and Ebony was flipping them expertly in the air.
“It’s a shame you lost your magic when you gave birth to Kornelia,” Hermione said as she walked by with her large textbook. It seemed they were still in Grimmauld Place. Ebony couldn’t seem to find her wand anywhere. “Where did you say the stones took you?”
“1939,” Ebony told her succinctly. “I don’t regret it at all. I have Kornelia now.”
Hermione hummed. “Yes, but not this Muggle, whoever he is.” She flipped The Times at Ebony. “You might find something in there.”
Ebony sighed and finished making her eggs. “Kornelia!” she called and an approximately seven-year-old Kornelia came running into the kitchen, wearing a blue pleated skirt and a long coat with large buttons. Her blonde hair was in pigtails. Ebony shook her head and gave her an egg and then scooped another up for Hermione and a third for herself.
It seemed Kreacher was out of the picture. Perhaps it was because she wasn’t magical. Maybe he had died. Ebony honestly didn’t know.
Taking the paper, Ebony flipped through it and left it open to the obituaries.
“Are you walking me to school, Mutter?” Kornelia asked in a sweet voice.
Surprised, Ebony looked at her daughter. “Of course, Nell,” she responded. “I wouldn’t miss it. Eat your egg.”
It wasn’t until that afternoon when she was looking through the paper again that her eye caught something in The Times. There was an obituary for Claire Randall. She had drowned in Oxford. Staring, Ebony immediately snapped out of her funk and ran up to her room. She knew she must still have Frank’s card somewhere. She was sentimental and Hermione hadn’t cleared out her things, it seemed, all the years she had been away.
It took her two hours and she hadn’t found anything.
Then she had to walk half an hour to pick up Kornelia. It seemed that once she had lost her magic, she had withdrawn to Grimmauld Place and lived off her Potter Patents. She and Kornelia were quite wealthy although neither were magical. She listened to her daughter prattle in her German accented English, asking her daughter questions where she should, and then settled her at home.
“Hermione,” she stated. “I need to go to Oxford tomorrow. Can you watch Kornelia?”
Her friend was employed at the Ministry and worked long hours usually. “It’s short notice, but I’ll send an owl. I can pick her up from her friend Elizabeth’s after six.”
“Perfect,” Ebony thanked her, realizing she had to go find a telephone number.
The train ride seemed longer than it should have. She went to Trinity College and took the familiar route to Frank’s office. It only then occurred to her that he might be in mourning somewhere. She knocked on the door but there was no one. Deciding the only other place she could look was Sussex, she went back to the train station and looked up the schedule.
It was afternoon when she arrived and she walked to the house, remembering the streets so well.
Agnes was the one who opened the door. Ebony had only ever seen her through the window.
“Is Frank here? I realize he probably isn’t but I couldn’t find him at Oxford.”
Looking her up and down, Agnes took her in. “You’re her.”
“Her?” Ebony asked in question, realizing she probably knew what she meant. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to be a little more specific.”
“The woman he’s in love with,” Agnes stated. “The one he met in the back garden.”
Ebony blushed. “We did meet in the back garden,” she admitted. “I have no idea if he’s still in love with me. It’s been over a decade.” They’d spent three years together here until 2001 when she went through the stones, and then there’d been the entire war, and then Ebony had arrived in 2013 when her daughter was eight years old.
“You heard about Claire.”
“Yes,” she admitted. “It’s terribly tactless of me, I realize. Of course it is. Forgive me.” She smoothed out her jeans and looked over her shoulder. “If I catch the train I can make it back to—”
Agnes grabbed her forearm and pulled her into the house. “Frank!” she called.
There was silence at first but then the sound of footsteps on the stairs. There were pressed trousers and then a torso in a white shirt and pullover sweater vest, a tie, and Frank with the lines about his mouth, more pronounced, but still the same close haircut. She gave him a small smile.
“Darling,” he breathed, hurrying further down the stairs. “I didn’t know how to find you. You never told me your name.”
She laughed, forgetting about that. “No, I never did, I suppose. I’m retired now.” She held out her hand. “I’m Ebony. Ebony Achterberg. I was Ebony Potter when you knew me, but I’m a widow.” That’s what she told Hermione. She was in a way. The Colonel was dead now.
He took her hand and shook it. “Ebony with the golden hair.”
Ebony laughed. “Everyone comments on that. I was named for my godfather, Lord Black.”
“I’ve spent so many years wondering what your name was,” he admitted. “Ebony.” Frank just held her hand and looked into her eyes. “I can’t tell you how much I missed you.”
“I was never enough for you,” she told him, taking back her hand. “I don’t know why I came. It was stupid. I have a daughter and I left her with a friend; and Kornelia wouldn’t understand.”
Frank turned to his sister, and she quietly moved out of the room. “You were always enough.”
“You left me, long before I left you,” she whispered. “I loved you, Frank. I still do. I loved you throughout everything with Nicklaus. I never promised him forever despite being with him completely and having a child with him—because of you—but he wanted me anyway. It was stupid. I was selfish. I’m being selfish now. You’re probably in mourning.”
He looked at her reproachfully. “Do you see me wearing black? Am I retreating to the haunts where Claire and I once spent our time? I came here, to our special place. I came here to my memories of you because I am finally free but I had no way to find you.” He took her face between his hands and looked into her green eyes. “Ebony, darling, I know it all went to hell when Claire found us, but that doesn’t mean it has to go to hell now that we’re free to love each other properly.”
“I have a little girl, Frank. She must always come first.”
He visibly sobered. “Of course she must. I wouldn’t expect you to be anything less than a devoted mother.”
How odd that he should say that now—when before… but those were different circumstances. So different. Then she had been a spy sent off to war, come back with a child. Now she was a past lover returning after having a husband.
Discreetly she felt the gold wedding band on her left hand. It was simple white gold with diamonds pressed into it. She had decided if she was wealthy and her wedding had meant something to her (Kornelia certainly did) then the wedding band might reflect that.
“I need to get back to her,” she told him truthfully. “I didn’t make any plans other than quickly going down to Oxford.” She looked down to her watch. “She’s being picked up from a friend and she’s responsible enough to go to bed under minimal supervision, but if I don’t catch a train back, I won’t be there for when she wakes up.”
“Are you still in London, in your hidden away flat I could never find?” It sounded like a joke and yet it was terribly sobering.
“You tried to find me?”
He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Of course I did. Let me come to London. I have a week off from Trinity. I can come up tomorrow and I can take you out to lunch and—we can learn who we’ve become.”
She held out her hand and, as if expecting it, he put an iPhone into it. She programmed in her number and texted herself, hearing the little ding go off in her purse, and then handed it back. “I’ll see you for lunch tomorrow, Professor.”
“Don’t make me call you ‘Mrs. Achterberg.’”
“I thought I was Ebony,” she teased back, about to turn away from him.
However, he leaned down and kissed her, gently, but then it had been so long and her hands moved into his hair and his came around her waist and she was lost. It had only been two years since the Colonel had kissed her, it had taken her that long to get out of Germany, and then her three-year-old daughter had aged to an eight-year-old with the help of magic and she had been alone with memories that barely seemed her own in her mind of five long years. She had come to the exact day when Claire Randall was announced dead.
And now Frank was kissing her, and she had missed this so much, all those years in Germany. He was hers, and no one else’s. There was no claim, not now. Claire was gone. All that mattered were the hands on her waist, holding her steady, holding her close, firm but gentle, as if she were precious. But she had always been precious to this Frank.
“Darling,” he whispered against her ear. “I’ve missed you.”
“I would have defied time itself for you,” she promised him, her head pressed into his shoulder.
He laughed. “You do look young,” he admitted. “Hardly old enough to have a daughter.”
It was true. She had been eighteen when she had entered World War II and twenty-four when she’d had Kornelia. Despite that, she hadn’t looked a day over twenty when she had given birth. Then again, perhaps magic had spared her. Ebony wouldn’t be completely surprised. If she could travel back to 1939, perhaps she couldn’t age. When she looked in the mirror now, she wasn’t certain she was looking any older than a university student, and she had an eight-year-old daughter.
She pulled away. “I need to go, Frank.”
“I’ll walk you out,” he promised, holding her hand and kissing it.
They moved into the living room, where that argument had happened all those years ago when Claire had found them. Ebony looked at the chair Claire had sat down in and then away. Frank was looking down at her as if he were seeing a miracle, which perhaps he was.
Looking down at his watch, he said, “The next train to London is in twenty minutes. A little less. I’ll run you up in my car.” It would take far too long to walk.
The ride was silent, but when he wasn’t shifting gears, his hand was resting atop hers on her thigh. Their fingers entwined, he would occasionally pull her hand back up to kiss it. She squeezed his hand once when they got to the train station; she knew that she would see him the next day. “I am sorry for your loss,” she whispered.
“It wasn’t a loss. It was a relief. It’s horrible to admit that about your own wife, but the fighting was unbearable.”
She nodded once and then she got out.
When she finally made it to London, she walked back from King’s Cross although she didn’t have magic to protect herself. She found Kornelia asleep and kissed the side of her head before collapsing into bed. She remembered back in the 1930s, entertaining Frank here. It was so strange. Haunting memories from two time periods and she was lost between them. Perhaps the wishing stones were a curse in that way.
They showed her possibilities and never gave her a reality.
Ebony had lost her first child going through the wishing stones. She had been seven months pregnant. Hermione had yet to ask about the child. Perhaps she had explained it away over the past five years. Whether or not Kornelia knew was another question. That would be horrifying.
She was walking into a pub and looked around.
Frank stood up from a booth and she smiled, going over to him.
“How is—Kornelia?” he asked in a precise German accent. He was a World War II expert after all. He would probably be surprised to learn that Ebony now spoke fluent German and had spent all of breakfast arguing with Kornelia in the language, much to Hermione’s amusement. It would seem it was a not unusual occurrence.
“Kornelia ist zuviel wie ihr Vater,” she teased him. “No, in all honestly, she believes that everyone should take orders from her. She has a promising career in the military before her.”
“Is that how you met?” Frank asked carefully.
“I was sent to Germany,” she told him truthfully. “I was willing to give everything to Queen and Country with the knowledge that I would be able to retire when I’d had enough. I decided to raise my daughter instead of going back out into the field.”
Frank took her hand and kissed it.
“I thought you should know. Kornelia will have to know when she’s old enough. Right now she believes I was working at a British consulate when I met her father and we fell in love and he died in a tragic accident when she was three.”
There was a pause. “How did he die?”
State execution, most likely. “They never told me.” She took his hand and played with it a little. He said nothing, so she spoke. “I don’t remember you caring for modern politics, but she adores Angela Merkel. If things progress, she’d love to rapidly speak in German with someone other than me about modern European politics.”
“It would be my pleasure,” he told her immediately.
Ebony laughed. “She’s only eight so don’t go confusing her with trade agreements,” she made him promise. “You and Claire—you never—”
“No,” he told her, leaning back. “You were my last kiss, the last woman I made love to. Claire never stopped taunting me about you, daring me to divorce her and go to Hell, kept on saying that I would get you pregnant and our child wouldn’t be baptized in the Catholic church. The thought haunted me the last few months we were together. It’s why I could barely touch you and would just hold you in the night.”
Tears welling in her eyes, thinking of the child she had lost, Ebony stroked his cheek. “Frank, it wouldn’t have been like that. We loved each other.”
“Loved,” he whispered. “Is it such a thing of the past? You were sent as a spy and married your mark. Did you love him and forget me entirely? You said you never promised him forever, but were those kind words of reconciliation, darling?” He wasn’t looking at her, even though her hand was on his cheek.
“I’ve lied,” she told him quietly. “I’ve cheated, I’ve stolen eggs and milk—”
He laughed at this.
“And this was all prized by the government. I was an orphan so there was no one to miss me, only a married man who was willing to give me up.” When he made to say something she held up her hand. “I only accepted the assignment after Claire found us and you drifted away from me.—But I never lied to you, Frank. I haven’t told you what you couldn’t know, but I have never lied.”
A waiter came over and they pulled away from each other.
“A shandy,” Ebony immediately stated, “and steak pie.”
“Bangers and mash,” Frank ordered, not taking his eyes away from Ebony. “And I’m fine with my pint, cheers.” He reached out for Ebony again. “If I could find whoever put you in that position—You belonged to someone, Ebony. I should have just divorced Claire. Then we could have been raising a child together.”
“I would never wish Kornelia out of existence,” she told him a little harshly. “She’s my daughter.”
“No,” he told her. “Of course not. I’m just thinking of all the years wasted, where we were both forced to live lies, me with Claire in Oxford and you in Germany of all places.—I would take away all the pain.”
“There was no pain,” she told him truthfully. “Niklaus was a good man. He adored me.”
“Did you love him?” he asked her.
She had never been able to answer that question to herself. Ebony always told herself that he was a Nazi, but she tried to push that fact into the back of her mind. He had to think that she loved him, and if she fell into the fantasy, well, she still couldn’t forgive herself. They never taught her how to compartmentalize the way she needed to. She could separate herself from the lie, keep herself hidden so not even interrogators, if she were caught, would be able to learn her name. She was Ebba von Hassen.
“Does it matter?” she answered back. “I chose not to remain in Germany. I chose not to remain in that life. I came home. I read the papers every day and two days ago I saw your wife’s name in the obituaries and I decided to find you—isn’t that what matters?”
His eyes searched hers. “You’re so different from the girl I remember.”
“I’ve grown up,” she told him. “I’ve changed—”
“But you have the voice, the movements, of the woman who’s been ‘darling’ in my mind for a decade and a half,” he murmured. “I loved you with my entire being. It was silly of me to think you’d remain the same girl stealing eggs and working behind a desk, albeit at MI5. How’d you get transferred to MI6?”
She laughed. “I’ll tell you some other time,” she promised, remembering the story of convincing Draco Malfoy she was a defunct German Princess.
“Well,” he told her, “while you’ve been traveling the world, I’ve been teaching students about World War II. Did you know that there was a Oberfuhrer Nickolaus Achterberg in the SS who was sentenced for execution for his crimes against humanity? He had a very beautiful mistress, Ebbe von Hassen, and a child who went missing when the Third Reich fell.”
“Really,” she remarked, sitting back. “Niklaus always did say he was named for his father. Perhaps he was a grandson or something.”
“Perhaps. I can show you a photograph if that will help.”
“Blond,” she stated, “strong face, almost box like yet handsome, with shockingly pale eyes. Broad chest?”
He blinked at her. “Exactly.”
“Yes, that was Niklaus,” she mused, thinking of her former lover. “He certainly wasn’t a vain man, though I teased him a few times about us being an Aryan couple. I couldn’t help it but all those nights I spent reading over your shoulder about Nazi Germany and the Master Race made me dare it.”
Tilting his head to the side, he laughed. “Only you would tease a German about that.”
The comment startled her. “I suppose you’re right. Any students try to seduce you recently?”
He had been lifting his glass up to his lips but stopped mid-motion.
“I told you all those years ago you were terribly attractive when you started talking about Nazi Germany, your passion.” Their meals came and they thanked the boy who brought them. “I’m sure some of your students have noticed.”
“It always surprises me. I’m a married man and your photograph is on my office desk.”
Ebony didn’t react. She already knew. “How did Claire react?”
“She never went to my office. She didn’t know.” It was a terribly honest answer but one that showed the loneliness of his life.—Ebony had been there twice. Once the night before she went through the stones the first time and lost their child, and the second time after she heard of Claire’s death. She couldn’t be seen there, of course, because they were having an affair. With Claire, however, it was a different matter.
They stared at each other on the sidewalk for several long minutes, two strangers who didn’t know if they were still in love with each other.
“I’m afraid I’ve rather shocked you,” Ebony stated, looking anywhere but at him. “Many would call me a ‘whore’—”
His fingers pressed up against her lips. “Don’t call yourself that,” he begged. “Never that.”
“What then? I was your mistress for three years and then I seduced a man for Queen and Country, nevermind the fact that I married him. Most consider me a traitor for that and for not getting rid of Kornelia.”
“I love you for the strong woman you’ve become. You’ve been in impossible situations and you’ve made decisions based on the heart,” he murmured, coming close to her. “I’ve always been too scared of religion to do anything that was truly good.”
“I’ve always hated your religion,” she admitted.
“That makes two of us,” he murmured as he leaned down and kissed her softly, right there on the street. Still, it was like little time had passed—that the 1940s had never happened at all—and she just breathed him in until he pulled away. “When can I see you again?”
“Tomorrow lunch?” she suggested, a small smile on her face.
“I need a photo of you and Vater,” Kornelia told her on the way home. “It’s for school.” She was skipping down the street, holding Ebony’s hand.
Ebony panicked. She didn’t have any pictures. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Hermione,” she asked after Kornelia had gone to bed. “If I got you an old 1940s photograph of me with Niklaus Achterberg, could you update it so a Muggle wouldn’t be able to tell it wasn’t taken around 2008?”
Closing her book, Hermione looked at her. “Yes,” she began. “I could even insert you into a photograph of him if I needed to. It wouldn’t hold up in the Wizengamot, but it would fool any Muggle teacher Kornelia has.”
Kornelia had been talking about the project nonstop, about how her father had been a brave military Colonel who had died in the line of duty, and was sure to be handsome.
Next, Ebony did what she didn’t want to do. She called Frank and told him Kornelia had a school project where she had to make a family tree, and as far as she knew, this Nazi officer was as close as it came on her father’s side. “I just need a picture and a little blurb about what he did—a sanitized version.”
“He was a Kommandant at Auschwitz,” he explained cautiously over the telephone. “That’s not exactly school material.”
No, no it wasn’t. And Ebony remembered the screams in the camp that even reached the mansion she lived in. Fortunately they had only been there for two years before being reassigned to Berlin. “Focus on his other service to the Third Reich,” she suggested. “Please, Frank. It’s very important to Nell. It’s all she could talk about through dinner.”
“Of course. I’ll have it ready for lunch tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Frank. I—I love you.” She hung up before he could answer her.
The photograph was one of Nicklaus that she recognized. It was easy enough for Hermione to put him into modern uniform and place Ebony next to him, his arm extended around her. Hermione even scared up a photograph of a three-year-old Kornelia that Ebony had never seen before and put her in front of her parents, the two of them smiling happily at each other and seemingly in love. It really was a masterpiece.
When Ebony presented it to Kornelia, the child cried out in joy and hugged her mother, making her promise to have a copy framed, which was instantly done by the time Kornelia got home from school.
“Is she happy?” Frank asked as they fed the swans. “With the picture, I mean, and the bit about how Oberfuhrer Achterberg was handed a great deal of responsibility during the Second World War. I didn’t even mention Hitler or Nazis.”
“Yes, she didn’t even ask about that,” Ebony lied. “The project is coming along nicely.”
Frank paused and took something out from his inner jacket pocket. “I was wondering if she wanted this photograph. It’s hard to come by but it is in the archives.” He passed it over and it showed Niklaus with Hitler and a sparkling Ebbe von Hassen, about five months with child. “She bears a striking resemblance to you.”
Ebony looked at it carefully, folded it up and gave it back again. “Yes, striking.”
“’Ebbe’ also is phonetically similar to ‘Ebony,’” he noted. “What was it like meeting the fuhrer?”
Without missing a beat, she answered, “Frankly, I don’t know what you mean.”
“I know every nuance of your body, darling,”—he still had difficulty calling her ‘Ebony.’ She had been ‘darling’ to him for three long years. “I know your every facial expression. You said you went to Germany for MI6. There’s no reason to do that—except—it defies reason, but even you admitted to having a child with Niklaus Achterberg. You should have known I would know that Nickolaus Achterberg, a high ranking member of the SS, was known as Niklaus to all his friends, including his mistress, a woman he was so devoted to he was willing to marry her except she claimed she had a husband on the front.”
She took out a few more breadcrumbs and threw them into the water. “You seem terribly well informed on this one Oberfuhrer.” Her perfect German pronunciation might give her away, but she had admitted to being in Germany. “I didn’t know Auschwitz was a particular speciality of yours, Frank.”
“Mistresses are. After you left I became obsessed with military mistresses. There’s a surprising lack of research in that area.”
She didn’t say anything for a long time. “What do you want me to say? That I time traveled?”
Frank looked at her, expecting her to say more, but there was nothing more to say without breaking the Statute of Secrecy, not that she was sure it applied to her anymore. “The only person I owe any explanation to is my daughter, Frank. Currently, she’s happy, she’s healthy, and I’ve managed to keep the worst about my life from her.”
“I lived in the hope of you for twelve years,” he ground out, “living with a woman I despised and who laughed at me, belittled me, told me you were never coming back—and now to find that you moved on—”
“I carried our child, Frank,” she spat although she hadn’t meant to. The look of surprise on his face was so great that she could have laughed if she weren’t so close to tears. “I lost him when I was seven months along. Kornelia doesn’t know. Niklaus never knew. It was my pain to bear and you weren’t there. You were with a wife you wouldn’t divorce because of a god that doesn’t even exist.”
“I would have been with you every step of the way if I had known,” he swore to her. “I would have supported you, I would have been in our child’s life—”
“You just wouldn’t have been a full time father,” she goaded. “He wouldn’t have been important enough because he wasn’t Claire’s, because he wasn’t your heir, the one you always wanted.”
She stood up angrily, leaving the crumbs behind her. He grasped her by the elbow and turned her toward him.
“We have a second chance,” he promised her. “I can be a father this—Nazi—could never be to your daughter. We can have a son. You were always the mother I wanted for my children.”
“You must have wanted Claire at some point,” she viciously shot back.
He looked like he’d been slapped. “Don’t be like that.”
“Frank,” she whispered. “Don’t you see?—that your religion and Claire will always come between us?”
“And Niklaus is between us now, as well,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head. “Was he a Nazi, darling?”
“It makes no sense, Frank.”
“A girl who is hunted by the British government never made any sense,” he reasoned. “You defy reason. You’re outside of reason altogether. I have no compunction believing this. I’ve always suspended rational belief when it came to you.”
“Then don’t question me,” she begged. “Think of me as the girl from London who doesn’t quite make sense. It’s how I want it. I don’t want Kornelia ever questioning anything.”
He pulled her close to him. “Very well. If that’s what you want.”
“It’s what I want.” She put her arms up around his back, grasping his shoulders, running her hands around his shoulder blades. “My life changed the day I met you.”
“Those eggs and that milk.”
“I made the worst breakfast with it,” she remembered fondly. “Hermione couldn’t believe it. But still, we passed the milk around and Ron complained about germs. I always thought he and Hermione would marry.”
His hands started playing with her hair. “Why didn’t they?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “Hermione lives with us now.”
“And you look as young as the day I first met you,” he observed. “And I grow older every day.”
She laughed into his shoulder. “Think how jealous everyone will be when you introduce me to them. Everyone already thinks I’m my daughter’s older sister.”
“I bet they do,” he growled into their hair before they began to walk down the street, his hand around her shoulders, Ebony pressed against him.
Soon enough it was time for him to go back to Oxford. He rested a hand against her cheek. “I always hate this part.”
“Then don’t think about it,” she murmured. “We’ll see each other again.”
“I can’t believe you’ll be free to bring Kornelia down to Oxford and we can have tea in a shop for all my colleagues and students to see.” He leaned down and kissed her softly, his lips pressing against hers again and again until he pulled away, his eyes smiling down at her. “No more hiding.”
“No more hiding,” she agreed.
The house was much the same as it had been when she had lived there with Sirius, Ebony mused. It had been completely stripped of magic. Ebony wondered how she had done it. Probably with Hermione’s help, she mused.
“Kornelia,” she said over dinner. “How would you like to go to Oxford this weekend?”
Her daughter paused. “I thought we were never to go into Oxford.”
That sounded like something Ebony would say. “Things have changed,” she stated carefully. “It’s a very beautiful town. I have a friend who lives there.”
“You mean a boyfriend,” Kornelia stated glumly. “Alex said it was only a matter of time, Vater being dead all these years.” She put down her fork a little too loudly.
Hermione looked over at Ebony encouragingly.
“All right,” Ebony conceded. “I have a boyfriend in Oxford. I’d like you to meet him. He’s very important.”
“More important than Vater?” Kornelia asked precociously.
“A different sort of important,” Ebony replied truthfully, thinking back to the Colonel who had adored her. “It’s so difficult to compare the two.”
“I don’t want to go,” Kornelia whined.
“You are going and that’s final,” Ebony stated. “You’ll enjoy Oxford.”
“He’s not blond like Vater,” were the first words out of Kornelia’s mouth when they sat down in a little teashop. “Vater would have locked you up for looking like a Juden.”
Frank didn’t look at all surprised but Ebony was absolutely horrified. “Young lady, apologize immediately. Where did you get such notions?”
“Ich erinnere mich an Berlin,” she stated quite confidently, her arms crossed. “Vater was a decorated war officer.”
“I know,” Frank replied suddenly, looking down at Kornelia. “I’ve studied him. Did you know that the Second World War is my specialty here in Oxford? Oberfuhrer Nickolaus Achterberg is quite the renowned figure in history.”
He immediately had Kornelia’s attention. “What happened to Vater?”
Frank paused and glanced at Ebony. “It was all rather unfortunate. He was being tried for crimes against humanity when he escaped to Argentina. He was then captured by Mossad and hasn’t been seen since. He’s believed dead.”
“Mossad,” she repeated carefully.
Ebony was about to speak when Kornelia did it for her. “I know, Mutter, it’s just like Aunt Hermione says. The Germans and the Jews are friends now. I am even polite to Rachel in school.” Ebony wasn’t quite sure she liked the barely veiled prejudice in this, but she pushed back Kornelia’s blonde hair and kissed her forehead.
“We are all of God’s children, Kornelia.”
“You don’t believe in God,” she stated precociously. “You said that England wouldn’t have gone to war with Germany.” She picked up the tea menu. “Now we must be English. Don’t you find that tiring, Mr. Randall?”
He smiled down at her. “Not a bit. Then again, I am English.”
“Mutter’s English,” she shared. “I’m Deutsch though I’ve been here longer. Strange thing is, I can’t remember anything after the age of three.”
Looking down at her daughter in worry, she brushed her fingers across her cheek. “Hush, now. All is as it should be now. We won’t tell Aunt Hermione or she’ll worry.”
“I know,” she stated carefully. “She’ll send us to the Ministry where she works—and somehow that’s a bad thing.”
“Yes,” Ebony stated carefully, “that’s a very bad thing.”
Frank looked at her anxiously and she tried to give him a reassuring smile but was unable to. He then looked down at Kornelia and smiled. “Do you know much of East Germany and West Germany?” he asked the girl, “after the war ended?”
“No,” she answered, accepting her cup of tea from Ebony.
“Well, Berlin was divided in half by a wall,” he explained.
“Not my beautiful Berlin!”
It was his last day in London in the summer holidays and they were meeting along the Thames. She had brought sandwiches, and he was bringing the cold beer. There was the sound of a screech behind her and she turned to look, seeing that there had been an accident.
Ebony didn’t go to look, but instead waited long into the afternoon. Frank didn’t come.
It was not until the next day when she was cooking three eggs that she saw the obituaries. Sometimes she thought fate never would be happy.
This would be her last time through, she thought, and she would leave Kornelia here. She wouldn’t put her through losing memories, aging, a time she didn’t know. Hermione would understand. Ebony would write her a note.
So, the next day, she rented a car after she had kissed Kornelia goodbye at her school and Hermione had gone to work—and she drove to Craig Na Dun.