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The Frozen Maze – Episode 14 – The Black and White Couple

A Snow White retelling set in 1920s Germany

Episode 14

The Black and White Couple

The Frozen Maze - Episode 14 (square)

A motorcar approached the manor on the main driveway as Ingeborg crossed the meadow. A dark, shiny new thing. Could only be one of Grete’s guests. They had already started to arrive.

It was strange, that sound, the loud noise of engine in the peace of the meadow. Ingeborg knew the chaos of Berlin very well, the noise of the traffic was a given. Still here, in the homeland of her heart, the very sound gave her a sense of discomfort.

She reached the manor before the car did. Grete was descending the staircase on the front of the manor and met Ingeborg at the foot of it.

“You heard that infernal sound too,” Ingeborg said.

Grete chuckled, leaning with an elbow to the balustrade. “One day is already long enough to make you this sensitive to city noise, my child?”
Ingeborg imitated Grete’s swatting move, and Grete laughed.

“In truth, I was expecting her first than anyone else. Lotte has expressed particular interest in my project.”

Ingeborg blinked. How odd that she should have just dreamed of her.

The car entered the widening in front of the manor and drove a circle to stop in front of the stairs so that the passenger door would open precisely where the two women waited.

The driver got out and walked around the car. Not a chauffeur in uniform, but a smartly dressed young man.

He went around the front of the car and she saw his face for the first time. Their gazes locked for the briefest of moments. Ingeborg froze.

He was Florian.

His eyes lingered just a moment too long on Ingeborg, then he opened the passenger door with a gloved hand. Lotte slid out with a smooth move and a sparkling smile.

“How beautiful to see you, Grete,” she said, opening her arms. It was such a dramatic gesture that it stole Ingeborg’s attention even from the man. Could she possibly be acting? Her voice sounded velvety and modulate, as perfectly arraigned as the marcel waves of her blonde bob and carefully applied as her makeup.

Grete flashed one of her own long-practised welcome smiles and moved closer to hold both of Lotte’s hands.

“What a pleasure to see you here, Lotte.”

“It’s a pleasure to be here,” Lotte gave her a cat smile. Then she let her gaze wander about, searching for something she didn’t seem to find. “So, this is the place.” Her gaze climbed up Schneezwerg staircase. Her voice was still velvety, but rimmed of ice, now, and her eyes had something predatory to them.

“Please, come in,” Grete said, starting to move up the stairs.

Ingeborg had a strong, unreasonable instinct to bar Lotte’s way in as the actress moved to follow.
On the first step, Lotte stopped and turned.

“Will you set the car and bring up the suitcases, Florian dear?”

Ingeborg’s heart jumped.

“Yes. Sure, ma’am,” he answered in a deep, full voice, without moving.

“Will you show him to the garage, Inge?” Grete called. “Inge!”

Ingeborg jumped and turned. “Sure, Grete. Of course.”

Did Grete scowl at her? Did Lotte give her a curious glance? Ingeborg wasn’t sure, because she was already turning to the young man.

He was indeed Florian. How could this even be?
He stood by the car, a hand on the hood.

Completely clad in black, wrapped in a tight-fitting greatcoat that highlighted his wide shoulders and narrow hips. His fedora was also black and slightly tipped on one side, so to reveal wavy hair barely kept under control by sparingly used brilliantine. Dark brown, like his eyes, which the brim of the hat shadowed. He was tight and dark and steadfast where Lotte was white and soft and fur-clad.

Florian looked at her with an expression of curiosity that wasn’t unfriendly at all, but made Ingeborg uneasy all the same.

THE FROZEN MAZE by Sarah Zama – Episode 14 – The Black and White Couple – The first of Grete's guests arrives, and it's a big shock for Ingeborg #FairytaleRetelling Click To Tweet

“This way,” she said so that she could move away. She briskly walked all along the front of the manor, then down a packed dirt path. She never turned but heard the car come to life and the gravel crunch. Florian must have turned the car to follow her down the narrow path.

They arrived in front of the stables almost at the same moment.

The big wooden door was closed by a big latch cold to the touch, and heavy and she feared it would be difficult to open. She really didn’t want to get Florian’s help. But the latch moved smoothly, as one used quite often, moaning only faintly.

Her heart squeezed when she saw the familiar place. In the gloom, the stalls where dad’s horses would rest were now empty and silent. The buggy he used to go around sat lonely and forlorn on one side. On the other side, closer to the door, was dad’s car, which had been bright new when he left for the war, but now looked old and impractical. It wasn’t cover with dust, though. In fact, it looked in perfect shape as if dad had just parked it there.

She jumped back to the present when Lotte’s car drove past her. Because there was room enough, Florian turned it around so that it stopped facing the door. He killed the engine, got out, retrieved the suitcases from the back of the car and walked up to Ingeborg. Swift and efficient.

He stopped in front of her, holding a suitcase in each hand. Smiled.

Ingeborg looked right into his eyes. For a long moment. Too long because anyone could take it for anything but a challenge.

But Florian just cocked his head and looked at her with curiosity colouring his expression.

“Would you show me the room Frau Weiss has arraigned for Fräulein Sterne?” he asked.

Ingeborg frowned.

He arched his eyebrows.

“Of course,” Ingeborg said. “It’s the lilies’ room, our best.”

She turned on her heels and marched out of the door.

Who the hell was this man? It was odd enough that she must have dreamed of Lotte of all people. But Florian? She had never seen or heard of him before.

But that must be wrong. She had probably seen him in photos of Lotte on the tabloids, read his name. There was no reason to brood about it. Or be rude.

She strode past in front of the staircase, hearing the gravel crunching under her and Florian’s feet. She turned the corner of the building, headed to the terrace, and was nearly at the French door when she realised Florian had stopped.

She turned.

He had placed the suitcases down on the very edge of the terrace and was now slowly straightening, looking out to the meadow.
Or – Ingeborg wondered with a strange unease – what was beyond?

“That’s a maze,” she said.

Florian whirled. There was a strange expression on his face, like a shadow. He flashed a shy smile and wiped it away, but she had seen it.

“Mazes aren’t as common as they used to be,” he said.

Ingeborg wrapped her arms around herself. She pressed her lips together. “This has been there for a long time.”

Florian wavered. Then slowly nodded. Almost to himself. Grimly.

“This way,” Ingeborg said. She opened the French door, walked in and never turned again to see whether Florian was following.

In the photo Château de Chenonceau photographer unknown (from Instagram @francefr)

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