The house was old, paint chipping, the aged shingles creaking with the wind, but it brought a smile to Klara's wind burned face. She re-adjusted the bag on her shoulder and suitcase in her hand before gripping the iron door knocker and clapping it steadily. Like a child, she pressed her ear against the cold, hardwood door, biting her lip as she heard the gentle shuffle of slippers and easy creak of the floor board.
"Grandmere!" she squealed, dropping her bags to embrace the old woman who had just opened the door.
"Bonjour me petite!"
"It's so good to see you! Though, I can't believe they closed the University two months before I graduate."
"I can't believe you didn't go back to England when I told you to, I knew it was going to be dangerous soon, and now you're stuck here like the rest of us."
"Yes, but I'm stuck here with you!" Klara smiled. "Besides, Mama wouldn't have wanted you here alone, during all the turmoil anyway. If I wasn't here, she would have come herself."
"I know dear, I'm glad to have you here, I'm just afraid for your safety, you can't blame me for that."
"Please, I'll be fine, I plan to keep my nose pristine." Klara smiled, pushing her suitcase into the house.
"Well, come in, you can put your things in one of the spare room."
"Merci Grandmere, ohhh something smells wonderful. I hope you haven't gone through any trouble for me."
"Just some chocolate croissants..." Gradmere sang from the kitchen.
"With Chocolate Chaud?!" Klara screamed, pulling off her coat. Normally, Klara was the most mature of girls, but being at her Grandmere's house brought out the child in her. She had spent so much of her childhood in this house, with her Grandmere, that all of their old traditions brought up the memories, throwing her back into the time before she grew up.
"Do you even need to ask?" Grandmere laughed. "I am always sure to keep chocolate in stock when you're coming, even with the rations. Come on dearie, lets eat while it's still warm."
"Sit sit Grandmere, I'll get the chocolate chaud."
"Extra milk in mine please, I know how much you love chocolate." Grandmere chuckled.
Klara poured the milk, added the chocolate and sugar, then sat at the small kitchen table next to Grandmere. She smelled of flour and chocolate which only deepened Klara's smile, she never changed. Her Grandmere was one of her favorite people in the whole world, she was glad to be with her.
They sat, eating and drinking their special mid-day treats, catching up on all they had missed. For being an elderly woman, Grandmere certainly did have enough to talk about. Of course, Klara had plenty to share too, the campus of the University being insane for the past month of her classes. Klara was halfway through her chocolate croissant, telling Grandmere about a rally at school when a harsh knock came through the back door.
"I'll get it Grandmere." Klara quickly wiped her mouth and was out of her chair before her Grandmere could stop her.
"Klara, no!" Grandmere was no young lady but she bounded out of her chair to catch Klara. As her hand unlatched the old knob, Grandmere reached for her arm but it was too late, Klara had already seen what was behind the door.
Her jaw dropped at the sight of a bloodied man standing in the garden. His arm was in a sling, gauze wrapped around his shoulder and head, blood seeping through both. Grandmere pushed her aside to talk to the uninjured man at the door.
"We did the best we could Louise, but he still needs stitches and may have a concussion. We want to move him within the week."
"Of course Daniel, you know where to take him, any bed is fine, there is no one else downstairs now, we've been empty for quite some time." she said in a hurried voice, ushering them through the back door, past a stunned Klara.
The uninjured man showed the injured man through the small door, shooting a quick smile at Klara as he walked past. Grandmere stuck her head out the door twisting her head to the left and right before closing it firmly. Klara stared at her Grandmere, waiting for an explanation, but she received nothing. Grandmere sat down, taking a large bite of croissant, as if composing herself for what was ahead.
"Well? Are you going to explain the bloody man?" Klara asked, twirling her mug carelessly on the table.
"I wasn't planning on it."
"It's too dangerous!" Grandmere said firmly.
"I'm staying with you, for who knows how long! You have to tell me what's going on, please Grandmere!"
"Not now, I have work to do." Grandmere huffed, pushing aside her pastry. She shuffled past Klara to the basement stairs which creaked under her weight. Klara could hear muffled voices downstairs then Daniel came back up the stairs.
"Please, take a croissant with you, my Grandmere made more than enough." Klara said in frustration, trying to be as polite as she could to the stranger, who was obviously a part of this strange phenomenon.
"Grandmere, so you're Klara. She said you'd be coming, she was worried about it." he sighed, taking a pastry. "She was going to stop, but found she couldn't."
"Stop what?" Klara asked, irritated that this strange knew more about her Grandmere than she did.
"I'm sorry, that's for her to tell you. I'm not about to get on Louise's bad side, she's a saint but can get quite fiery when she's angry."
"Don't I know it!" Klara laughed, remembering the day she broke her Grandmere's glass vase and the fury that followed.
"Well, I had better be off, I never like to stay at a house for too long."
Klara nodded and left him out the back door. She could hear her Grandmere singing in the basement. She carefully slid off her shoes and snuck downstairs, careful to avoid the parts in the stairs that always creaked, the stairs she knew so well. Her Grandmere was leaning over a bed, filled with a young, moaning man, pulling a needle through his wound while quietly singing. Finally, she finished and turned to find Klara spying on the stairs.
"I've got to fix the lock on the basement door. Well, don't just sit there, go get him a cup of tea, cold juice and some bread, he could use some sugar and something to eat. There's a fresh loaf of bread in the box, cut him a slice of that."
"You are planing on telling me what's going on right?"
"Go get what I told you, when he's asleep, we'll talk."
Klara gathered exactly what her Grandmere asked for, stuffing everything onto a large painted tray. The young man smiled in thanks as Klara held the warm tea to his lips. Afer helping him with a few swallows of bread, she left him to get some sleep, running up the stairs with her skirt fluttering behind her.
"Tell me." she demanded, beginning to dry the dishes her Grandmere had washed.
"Did Daniel take a croissant?"
"Yes, now tell me what's going on!" Klara persisted.
"Fine, but you can not tell your mother, for one, it wouldn't be safe, and she would be furious with me, especially with you here."
"Since we've been occupied, I've been taking in wounded Allied soldiers, nursing them to health before they try to escape across the boarder. They have found them easier to get across when they are recovered a bit. Only Daniel knows of my involvement, so only he brings men to me, which keeps me more protected. Each runner only knows one medic safe house."
"What will happen if you're caught?" Klara asked, afraid to hear the answer.
"I'll be executed, or imprisoned." Grandmere answered, nonchalantly, as if she would merely receive a slap on the hand. "And don't ask me to stop, because I won't. If you're not comfortable staying here, I can find somewhere else for you."
"No Grandmere, I'm staying with you."
"Then I don't want to hear another thing about it."
"You won't because I'm going to help."
"No! I won't have you involved. Besides, you're studying to be a school teacher!"
"It doesn't matter, I know I can help, school teacher or not, I was the one who helped with Grandpere's illness."
Grandmere looked at her, not convinced, Klara continued. "I'm not going to run out of here searching for trouble, I'm just asking to help once they're here. I can do stitches, and I can put bandages on, and I can certainly bring them food. Please Grandmere, I hate this war just as much as you do, I want to do my part for the Allies, to get the Germans out of here, so I can go back to school and get on with my life!"
"Fine, fine, you can help, but you will take heed to all I say. Your mother would never forgive me if I let anything happened to you."
"Nothing will happen, I promise."
Please let me know what you think!! I'm eager to hear your opinions and critiscisms!