Moritz Stiefel woke up to the pretty little trill of a blackbird, singing outside his window. He rubbed his eyes, still coated in sleep, and reached up a hand to touch his untameable mane of hair. He sat up, and yawned. From his bed, he could see the bird, and hear every note of its unmistakeable, melancholy song. It was slightly odd. He'd heard somewhere that blackbirds only stayed in winter, but it was deep into spring now. He'd probably misheard the information anyway, or remembered it incorrectly. He seemed incapable of doing anything else with everything he was told.

He lifted his hand from under the bedcovers, and swept it down to feel under his bed. His fingers came into contact with cold, furious metal, and he outright shivered. He would replace that gun in his father's desk later on. He had no need of it anymore.

"Ilse! Ilse!"

A sigh. A scuffle amongst foliage. "Yes, Moritz?"

"Oh, Ilse. I didn't think you would come back"

"What is it, Moritz?"

"Tomorrow" he said, and he slid the gun into his pocket once more. "Might I come to yours tomorrow, still? If you'll have me"

"I'm heading back to Priapia tomorrow"


"Will you come with me, Moritz?"

The question was innocent, childlike almost, but Moritz breathed in a sharp gasp. The whole wood seemed to hold its breath, waiting.


"May I, Ilse? Will you let me?"

"Of course I will, Moritz" She giggled. "Can we play together again?"

"Just like we used to" he promised.

"I'll meet you here tomorrow, at eight. Don't leave me waiting, Moritz Steifel"

"I won't…" he breathed. He felt her cold lips brush against his cheek, and then she laughed and darted off into the woods, like a broken Fay in her shirt and smudged make-up. He stood there, astonished. Then he smiled, and began the walk home.

There would be no more need for Virgil, no equations, and no more essays to compose. The sun would shine in Priapia, reflected off the bright red of her hair. He would go to school, and say his farewells to Melchi, and then he would come home and pack his world into a suitcase, and all his cares and woe with it. Nobody in this village knew him properly, not even Melchior, not really. And his luck just kept getting worse. Well, here was a way out, and he was going to take it, whatever the costs. He hoped Ilse would have a bed ready for him when he got there. She would wait for him, and she would love him, with her kisses that were sweeter than sugar.

Moritz rose from his bed, and padded over to his mirror. Yes, tonight he would be on his way. There was nothing for him here. Here, he was fading. It seemed fate had played him a good hand for once, for this was certainly his lucky day.

Outside, the blackbird stopped singing, and took off from its perch, and Moritz watched it go with a small smile.