He loved her hair.

Even from their first meeting, he'd thought it was wonderful—so long, so much of it, and so—so—burnished. Yes, that was the American word for it. Burnished. Shining in the light, lovely and kept under stern control…for a woman like Mees Marsch never let a nonsensical thing like hair get in her way. Ach, how he wanted to see it loose, long and free of any pins or ties, falling about her shoulders and warm in the lighting of the fire…how he'd thought, time and again, of what it would feel like in his hands…

But then he would blush, and stop, and become ashamed of himself, and remind himself that Jo—his Jo—was young and had so much life before her, while he was, surely, decrepit by her standards.

And then he'd lay his forehead in one hand, and sigh. Forty had never seemed so old.

"Ach, Jo," he'd murmur, so that only the pile of half-darned socks could hear him. "Thou do not know—thou do not know what thou do to old Fritz."

This would last for a little while—a few minutes, sometimes, occasionally a few hours, once a few days—but before long he'd be back where he started, thoughts wandering to Mees Marsch and the softness that sometimes came into her eyes, and the affectionate way she had of making him feel like he was her dearest friend…and her hair. Always her hair. He had the fascination with it.

There were so many things he wanted to do with it, so many forbidden joys denied him—he wanted to come up behind her while she was busy with something—hard at a book, as the Americans said—and let it loose…he wanted to gather it all into one hand and lift it, exposing the back of her neck…he wanted to sit with her and brush it until it crackled—for it, like her, was full of the life and spirit.

But what he wanted most of all, his most treasured and yet despised fantasy, was for it to fall like a curtain around him when they—

At this point, Friedrich Bhaer would color again, deeper than ever, and start, disgusted with himself.

"It is not good, what I am thinking," he'd tell himself, brow furrowed sternly. "This dream, it is dangerous…"

It was something other than dangerous, something which shamed him to say—so he wouldn't, he'd only shake his head and wonder, in the back of his mind, if perhaps the next day would be very windy and the breeze would do what he never would.

And he was always ashamed of himself for hoping so.