Wilhelmina von Wolfsberg arrived in Paris yesterday.
She had been settled in a very nice, expensive hotel not far from the opera where she would be playing this weekend.
Fraulein von Wolfsberg was the first violin of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra; a young prodigy who attained that status two years ago when she was barely twenty years old. Now, aged 22, she’s acclaimed by classical music enthusiasts all over the world.
This week, she was to play a wonderful concert with the rest of the orchestra in the magnificent Opéra de Paris.
Today she had the afternoon off from rehearsals with the orchestra, so she decided to stroll around Paris. She wanted to find a gift for her father, the man who made her the young person she was today.
Ever since the death of her mother when she was eight, he took care of her and taught her everything she needed to know about the glorious instrument that was the violin. She was ever so grateful.
She went up the beautiful streets of Paris, passing the infamous Place Pigalle before she finally got to the wonderful Quartier de Montmartre.
While her colleagues went to visit the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, she had decided to visit the Sacré-Cœur.
She entered the Basilica and admired the great organ, then the beautiful architecture which adorned the building. When she was finished, she walked back down into the streets of Montmartre, enjoying the sound of the accordion an old man was playing on the corner of a building, and found a small shop which piqued her interest.
It was a record shop. A vintage record shop. Perfect. Exactly what she needed.
The young lady walked into the record shop and looked around. There was a grumpy man in his thirties who was putting some new records on the shelves. He grumbled a quick ‘Bonjour’ before he went back to work. Wilhelmina nodded at the man, acknowledging his greeting as she walked through one of the two aisles of the small shop. She soon found the classical music section and rummaged through the records with her long, delicate fingers.
If there was something that Wilhelmina took pride in, it was her hands. She had very pretty, feminine hands even though the rest of her body was pudgy and round. She was a violinist, after all; her hands got used to holding and playing the instrument and they shaped themselves accordingly.
She looked through the records and finally found one of Mozart’s best pieces. A perfect gift for her father back in Vienna. Wilhelmina smiled and took the large folder, looking around it without finding the price; only a red sticker on the back.
When she looked back up, the salesman was talking to a young blond man. How unprofessional.
But yet again, had she not been told that the French lived a carefree life? He was probably mixing work and leisure, as many French people did.
It didn’t stop her from wanting to know the price, though.
Wilhelmina took in a deep breath before she walked over to ask the brown-haired man for the information she needed. In French, naturally, for it was a language she had been taught by her father.
“Excuse me—Er, Monsieur?”
The man seemed to be slightly bothered as she had interrupted him right when he was about to scold his friend.
He turned back to her, quirking a brow.
“I was wondering how much this record cost.” She said, showing the salesman the record she had chosen.
He tutted and took the record from her, looking up on the wall for the list of prices before he announced the price.
“Twenty-five.” He said nonchalantly.
She nodded and motioned over to the cash-desk “May I pay?”
He walked over to the cash desk and took care of her purchase. She took her purse out of her pretty black designer handbag and bought the record.
She thanked the man and held the record close to her chest. She looked back in the store and the blond man was there, smiling at her warmly.
There was something about him, about his smile and the way he held himself, something that made her feel dragged in.
No, no, she couldn’t take interest in a Frenchman. She had to concentrate on the concert that would take place this weekend…
He was a gorgeous young man with a handsome face, lush wavy blond locks and a pair of stunning blue eyes.
Wilhelmina took in a deep breath and looked away from him, biting her lower lip, blushing before she exited the store and walked down the cobbled street, her heels hurting her a bit.
The young lady walked for a while, her black curls bouncing with every step. She got to the end of the road and was about to change streets when heard running footsteps behind her accompanied by the call of a clear, melodious male voice.
The young lady turned around, pushing up her oval glasses with one hand as she held the record close to her chest with the other one.
The blond who was in the record shop was there, running towards her. Once he caught up with her, he huffed a bit and gave Wilhelmina a grin, rolling up his right sleeve before he held a hand out for her.
The Austrian girl blinked a bit at that, wondering what this man wanted from her.
Then she saw it.
On the side of his wrist was a small triangle. The mark of the Phénomènes.
It wasn’t that Phénomènes were a part of a secret society, no, no, they were well out, but quite rare… Though there were many of them in the city of Paris, compared to other cities in the world. Phénomènes were born with a triangle on the side of their wrist which allowed them to do virtually anything, as long as it was for the sake of others.
Now Wilhelmina knew she would allow herself to give in, even if she was wary of the man in front of her.
Seeing that the young lady wasn’t responding to the handsake, and as he knew that it wasn’t customary in Austria to kiss someone’s cheeks as a greeting, François withdrew his hand and smiled at her.
“Where are you going?” he asked in French. He knew she spoke French as she was conversing with Raphaël back in the shop, even if it was only for a moment.
Wilhelmina opened her mouth to speak. Her first Phénomène. He was exactly like she imagined them. With a gulp she spoke to him.
“W-well… I was going back to my hotel to put this back in my suitcase.”
“Oh… You’re leaving soon?” asked François, blinking at her, his pure blue eyes staring into hers. He seemed disappointed for some reason.
“Nein,” she said in a small voice, shaking her head “I’m staying for another few days, and—“
“Oh! Good!” he interrupted her, taking her free hand in his, grinning at her “I’ll escort you back to your hotel, then we shall get to know each other.” He said, leaning down to her level to literally be face-to-face with her. He studied her for a second, then straightened his posture, licking his lips before he announced who he was; a hand on his heart and bowing just a bit.
“My name is François Loisel and it is the most wonderful of pleasures to meet you!” he said proudly before he reached into his back pocket and whipped out one of his cards.
Wilhelmina blinked again, opening her mouth to speak. She closed it and took the card, reading it.
‘François Loisel, Phénomène Parisien, firstname.lastname@example.org’
She gulped and looked away, biting on her plump lip before she looked back up to François, handing back the card to the young man.
“Thank you, Herr Loisel, but I am afraid I will not be able to accept your services.” She said solemnly.
François quirked a brow at that “And… Why not?”
“Because I am not in Paris for leisure.”
François blinked “How can you not be in Paris for Leisure? It’s the most wonderful city in the world! Even I live here every day and it is a true pleasure to be here!”
Wilhelmina smiled nervously at that, holding her free hand up in defense “Herr Loisel, please, I am here for my work… I’m a part of the Orchestra that will play at the Opéra this week-end. I must be ready for Saturday night.”
“Well then! I shall help you relax before your concert!” he said, holding onto her chubby arm “Which hotel are you staying at?”
Whilhemina sighed. She had been warned that Parisian Phénomènes were hard to get rid of… But François really was a charming man. She couldn’t say no.
“Very well…” she said softly “I’m staying at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand.” She told him.
François nodded “Perhaps we should take the record back to your room. We wouldn’t want you to carry anything heavy while we’re walking around Paris!”
“But this isn’t heav—“
“Shush, mon amie, follow me!” he said, holding onto her arm and pulling her towards the closest metro station.
François was happy again, he had found a new tourist to please, even though said ‘tourist’ was here for business.
When they hopped off the metro, they walked for a short while before they got to Wilhelmina’s hotel.
“Please stay in the lobby. I’ll only take a few minutes.”
“Most certainly.” François replied “You might want to slip into some more comfortable shoes, we’ll be walking a lot this evening!” he told her with a grin. The young lady sighed and nodded.
When Wilhelmina walked back down, she had exchanged her kitten-heeled shoes for ballet flats. She seemed to be much better now that she wasn’t struggling with her heels. She also had put some burgundy-coloured lipstick on her pink lips.
François was waiting in the lobby, sipping on some coffee the barmaid had offered him off her own salary. He promised her that he would see her again next week.
When he finished his coffee, he got back up and offered a hand to the short Austrian.
“I shall take you to a wonderful little café—the one where I work at, actually.”
“You have a job? I thought that Phénomènes weren’t—“
François put a finger to her lips “Please do not bring up my kind in our discussions. This is all about you, Mademoiselle…?” he let his sentence hang like a question, asking for her name as he made a circular motion with his hand.
“Von Wolfsberg.” She replied, holding onto her handbag.
“I meant your first name. Surely a young lady like you has a name as pretty as her face.” He said with a wink “N’est-ce pas?”
Wilhelmina blushed at that “I’m sorry I can’t really give an affirmative response to that assumption.”
“Why not? You have a very pretty face, if I may be so bold, Mademoiselle.”
“Oh! Well… It’s just that my name isn’t exactly…”
“What is it? I promise that I’ll think it’s wonderful regardless.”
“Wilhelmina. Wilhelmina von Wolfsberg.”
“Well, Wilhelmina von Wolfsberg. I think that your name is indeed as pretty as your face.”
The young lady let out a soft laugh at that “You’re a funny man, Herr Loisel.”
“I’m glad that you think so. Now, let’s go back to Montmartre.”
They arrived at the Gai Luron at about 6PM.
Monsieur Morel greeted them warmly, Juliette did so as well, as she was about to get off shift. Sharon had left a few hours prior to go to her professor’s place to learn some more about French grammar.
François pulled a chair out for Wilhelmina who then sat down comfortably. Their table was just in front of the stage that was lit up with soft green and pink lights.
“One of my friends is performing tonight.” Said François as he sat down next to the Austrian “She’s a regular here. She plays at least twice a month.”
“Really? “ Wilhelmina asked, crossing her ankles. “What does she do?”
“She’s in a small group, actually. Look.” He said, picking up the leaflet that was settled on the small round table.
“… Miss Peppermint and the Alpacas?” asked the young lady “That certainly is a random name.” she said, pushing up her glasses.
“Yes… But I like it. They’re quite good. And you both have something in common.” He said with a knowing smile.
François nodded. An old English couple settled themselves at the table next to them. A waiter came by to give them their gin tonics, then settled a cranberry-flavoured cocktail in front of Wilhelmina “It’s on the house.” Said the young man before he left.
Wilhelmina blinked and looked down at the cocktail, then back at François.
“It’s on the house. Drink it.”
She looked back at the beverage and picked it up, sipping on it elegantly.
Then the room went dark, only the stage was lit up.
A very pretty young lady walked in on stage. Her skin was the colour of creamy chocolate which contrasted with the long pastel green wig she wore on her head.
She was dressed as a sweet lolita, with a pastel green and pink dress trimmed with lace and bows. She wore white stockings printed with green macarons on them and shiny pastel pink shoes. The large bow in her hair was of the same colour, as were her nails.
In her right hand, she held a violin. But not just any violin; a violin that looked like it had been created by a rococo-era architect. It was pasted green with white linings and had a cherub carved into each side of the instrument.
Wilhelmina studied the violin for a moment. Surely, it was custom-made, thus very expensive. She also wondered how it was possible to play the instrument when it was packed with so many decorations… And then there was the girl’s dress and the way she held herself…
She really was quite a sight.
The Alpacas were her backup musicians, a group of three young men who played the piano, the violin, and the bass respectively.
When they introduced themselves, they started playing. Their kind of music was peculiar, but Wilhelmina liked it. Miss Peppermint had a wonderful voice and was a talented violinist…
She also had a triangle on the side of her wrist.