Hints of the morning dawn play against the windows, but no one is stirring yet in the apartment. Better that way, Franka decides, as she lowers herself into one of the kitchen chairs.
She holds her bag on her lap for a moment, and then slowly pulls out the small pile of bills. Lays it down on the table – because really, she doesn’t want to touch it – and tries to clear her head.
But thoughts are swirling around, filling her mind, and she’s not really sure how to stop them. Little images, Viggo’s worried glance, Boyd’s baffled answers to her questions, the money – the money sitting on Viggo’s desk, the money burning against her palm, the money, always back to it.
She leaves it on the table – Stefan should probably be up first anyway, he’ll take care of it - and drags herself to her bed. The bar hadn’t gotten any busier once she left Viggo’s office, but still she’s left with this incredible feeling of fatigue.
In her bed though, she can make out a little lump against the wall. Looks like Maria commandeered her bed again. Rather than moving her niece back to her own bed, as Franka usually does, she decides to leave her there. She doesn’t take up much room, and for the moment Franka could use the company – even if it’s the company of an unconscious six year old.
Silently, she slips off her clothes quickly and puts on her most comfortable nightdress. When she slides into bed, the little lump moves, rolls towards her, and snuggles against her side.
Franka runs a hand through Maria’s long, fine hair, more to soothe herself than the child. With Maria lying next to her, Franka is less embarrassed about what she did tonight, less angry about having to borrow money from her boss. Her pride whimpers in a corner as her maternal instinct wakes up and swells.
Maria wouldn’t ever go hungry. Not like she did, not like Stefan did. She wouldn’t ever be peddling newspapers for pennies, wouldn’t have to learn to sew just a make a few nickels from the neighbors.
Franka just didn’t know how to make sure that never happened. She wouldn’t borrow money from Viggo again. Sure, he didn’t question her, hadn’t seemed to mind at all, but she couldn’t do it. Because he really didn’t understand. ”That’s all?” his surprised voice echoes in her mind. He wouldn’t understand anyway, how it could be so impossible to ask for money, even from someone who had plenty of it. Franka’s sure Viggo’s never known what it’s like to have to humble yourself enough to beg. And she isn’t interested in explaining.
She had begged, actually begged, for money when she was younger. When jobs for immigrants were scarce, when the food ran low, when her mother started getting sick – and god, she was sick for so long, until the war overseas made it even more unpleasant for a girl with a German accent to ask for anything.
And her mother hadn’t known, didn’t know what she was doing, didn’t know why attacking Franka’s pride had hurt her daughter so much.
Franka remembers the pity on the faces of some, scorn on others, and the indifference found in most people.
Maria shifts in her sleep, moves so that her head is pillowed Franka’s stomach. Her breath tickles the cotton of the dress; her hair spreads out over them both. Franka slides the hair off the child’s face, and just looks for a moment. She’s so beautiful. A mixture of Bea’s feminine features and Stefan’s bone structure, and somehow it worked perfectly. It awes Franka.
She’s pulled from her reverie by the faint sounds of movement in her brother’s room. Soon enough he’ll be in the kitchen, where the money is, and if she isn’t asleep, he’ll want to talk to her and thank her and promise her that she’ll never need get them money again, and that this time everything’s going to work out.
Taking a deep breath, she forces her body to relax. She needs the rest anyway. First thing after she wakes up, she’s going to need to come up with a plan. Somehow, this family – she – is going to get more money. Maria and Lukas aren’t going to want for anything, as long as Franka has a say.