As soon as Harry stepped off the transport, he felt the tension melt from his body. He inhaled deeply, letting the crisp, cold air refresh his lungs. It had been too long since he’d seen this beautiful skyline.
The feminine voice made his heart ache, but he forced a smile as he scanned the station crowd for that one familiar face. When he found it, his smile softened. The woman held out her arms and he crossed the distance between them and wrapped her in a hug.
“It’s been much too long,” he said as he pulled away, noting the gray strands in her otherwise dark hair.
“Yes,” she smiled up at him. It was the eyes that hurt him. In every other way she looked like her brother, but those eyes–
“You look like you could use a cup of coffee,” she said, her thick Austrian accent not hiding the familiar tone that made his eyes burn with every syllable.
“Is it that obvious?” He shouldered his bag and followed her through the streets to a corner shop with a sign that read “Die Kaffeetasse.”
It was busy for a weekday afternoon, and the scent of black coffee filled Harry’s nostrils, blending with the buzz of foreign conversation to numb his pain with cozy memories.
He let his companion order for him–his German was too rusty, and he was afraid he’d end up with some exotic food or drink he had no desire for after the long, long ride.
She ordered, paid, and led him out again. “You will want to talk somewhere quiet, no?” she smiled, handing him his warm, steaming styrofoam cup.
He sipped it, relishing the bitter heat. “You know me too well.”
They navigated the crowds until the patches of humanity thinned into the occasional passerby, then found a wooden bench beneath a tree, and both sat down on it.
For a moment they were silent. Harry kept waiting for her to say something, but she didn’t, so he finally broached the difficult subject himself.
“Do you mind talking about it?”
She lowered her cup onto the seat beside her and shook her head. “I don’t mind, neffe. I’m making peace.”
He smiled at the pet name, even though the implication that he was not making peace stung a little, and pulled his recorder out of his bag. “Just tell me anything you can remember. I’m trying to fill in the blanks for some parts of the story she didn’t tell me.”
She nodded and picked up her coffee again. “My mother had told me, when I was very little, of the big, strong brother I had never met. But she didn’t know–and so she could not tell me–about my lost sister…”