Would he have fallen for me if I had known?
I’ve always believed that part of falling in love with someone is about the reflection of yourself you see in them: falling for your best self in a good relationship, being intoxicated by your worst in a bad, and now the thought has burrowed its way into my brain that it wasn’t me that captivated him: it was lack of her. He told me he was afraid of me finding out in case I loved him less, but what if he was afraid he would love me less. I’m no longer a sanctuary. Has it changed anything?
No. We are so far beyond that. Even if it would have affected those first few heady weeks in Thailand, what does it matter? I wasn’t in love with him then either, not the true him: I was in lust with a real life Viking. I don’t have time to think like this. No one ever has time to think like this, in fact, it is the most pointless vacuum of energy, I know that. But still. Urgh.
I didn’t have a plan for approaching Ida, I didn’t even know specifically what I wanted from her, I just wanted… insight, I guess, into Hanna’s world. Somewhere to start putting puzzle pieces into. Anders isn’t stupid. He may not have recognized Ida, but he knew where we were, and why. He looked around the other patrons, and finally nodded subtly at a table to our left.
It was him. Wild haired Heathcliff guy from the memorial. I filled Anders in on what happened, and he said he wasn’t surprised. His name is Gustav von Dursen; Anders hadn’t met him before, but recognized him from photos. Hanna dated him a little over the summer, then got bored, and may or may not have ever bothered to dump him. He works in fashion in some capacity, but is mostly a professional posh person who got a mild bit of notoriety for having a fling with some European princess or another (Anders screwed up his nose, “Luxembourg maybe? Monaco? Somewhere very small.” when he was about 19. Well golly gee whiz. I suddenly felt like I might as well have been wearing denim overalls and chewing on a piece of corn; I don’t know people with vons in their name who have flings with royalty.
“Was he mad?” I asked Anders. He shrugged thoughtfully. Most guys were when Hanna skipped away. “Mad… enough?” He shook his head. “I don’t know. Hanna said she got bored mostly because he is a bit stupid.” I remembered suddenly, at one of the dinners back over the summer, Hanna talking about how aristocrats are raised to be pleasant, unchallenging company, to laugh politely at mild jokes and not to have opinions or be interesting. I remember joking that all my childhood fantasies of being swept away by Prince William to live in an English castle were a waste of time if he was just going to ruin it by being “pleasant.” I wondered if she had been talking about von Dursen.
“Probably not a criminal mastermind, then,” I sighed and Anders grinned ruefully. Just then a waiter approached and swiftly cleared our plates.
But we had barely started eating. “Excuse me…” I said, but Anders shook his head, a shadow casting over his expression as he watched the waiter talk to an in charge-seeming guy – maitre’d? Manager? The In Charge Guy came over to our table, and said something in Swedish. I watched Anders’ expression darken. “We are being asked to leave.”
“Why?” I demanded, ready to kick up a fuss, but Anders caught my eye with a barely perceptible shake of his head. I glanced over out of the corner of my eye. Von Dursen was watching. We got up, walked right across the square and into McDonalds. ‘Aint nobody would ask us to leave there. Over – gross, delicious – burgers, I asked Anders why he had stopped me challenging the guy. He said he just didn’t want to make a scene, it’s not like he would have told us the truth anyway. I gave him a furious look, he smiled sheepishly. I reminded him that he might have let something slip – was it von Dursen? How did he know who we were? Somebody else we hadn’t noticed? Ida?
Anders apologized, said I was right, he hadn’t thought, he’d just been embarrassed and wanted to escape, but I wasn’t listening to him any more: she was there in the doorway, looking for us. Ida.