A little RP scribble for my newest fandom, the German smash-hit musical Tanz der Vampire. I have fallen head over heels for Alfred and desperately want to know more about his backstory, so here's a glimpse of my headcanons combined with what little we know about him from the show. I'd also like to give a shout out to my fellow Tanz fan operasrose - please check out her stories, as she's a wonderful writer and a lovely, lovely person who has inspired many a headcanon.
Alfred is born eight weeks early on the 31st of October 1880, to a modest shopkeeper and his wife, on the outskirts of the city of Königsberg, Germany.
The doctor is swift to declare that the child – a sickly, feeble little thing with hands so small they barely fit the mittens his mother has knitted him – will not last the night. He says the same thing the following night. And the next. And the next.
But as days stretch to weeks, and weeks to months, it becomes clear that tiny Alfred has no intention of slipping away so easily…
Alfred's early childhood is a quiet one, as he seems doomed to catch every illness and ailment that comes within a mile of him and spends much of his time confined to the family bedroom, wrapped in a cocoon of blankets with only his father's meagre collection of books for company. Luckily, Alfred soon discovers that books are in fact the very best kind of company, and deciphering the curious symbols inside them is much more fun than playing in the snow (and catching yet another cold) could ever be.
All is well, in Alfred's little world of blankets and books – until the morning of his fifth birthday, when he finds himself quite unable to wake his parents from their Sunday lie-in. It takes him a few minutes of gentle tugging and prodding to notice the drawn, waxy, bloodless appearance of their skin. And a few more to notice the damp, livid stains on their nightclothes – the same colour as the crimson dawn, just breaking beyond the window.
The family crucifix lies on the floor beneath the bed, a few feet from his father's outstretched hand. As though he had been reaching for it.
Two weeks later, Alfred is dropped at Königsberg's largest orphanage by a neighbour, who slips a coin to the matron and asks that she take special care of the tousle-haired boy with a pillowcase of books clutched in one hand and a wooden crucifix in the other.
Yet Alfred finds, as time goes on, that he cannot recall his parents' faces as clearly as he used to. He is much better at remembering facts and figures – his books are crammed full of them, and he loves nothing better than tucking himself into a dusty corner of the dormitory and burying himself in black-and-white print for hours on end.
It's not long before the matron notices that her five-year-old charge is in fact reading the staffroom books he is supposed to be dusting, and vows that such a talent should not go to waste.
After all, what better place for the boy to aim for, than a home which will foster within him the hunger for knowledge and learning that he so clearly possesses?
And so it is that, six years later, Alfred emerges from the orphanage a quiet, polite, if rather timid young scholar with a mop of neatly combed, poorly cut dark hair and bright, wide brown eyes that strive – at all costs – to see the hopeful side to all things in life. And he has much to be hopeful about, as he tiptoes through the towering oak doors of Königsberg University, one trembling hand clutched around a letter declaring him the recipient of the college's yearly scholarship, and the matron's tearful goodbyes still echoing in his ears.
The very best times of Alfred's life begin. His professors are nothing short of inspirational, and Alfred's favourite quickly becomes the esteemed Professor Abronsius – a wild, excitable old man with great tufts of white hair sticking out in every direction and eyes that gleam with the energy of a man half his age. There is no equation the Professor cannot solve, no problem he cannot provide a solution for, no question he cannot answer. He storms up and down the length of the classroom as he teaches, gesticulating in a fanatical sort of way with his gentlemen's umbrella and scolding them all a great deal. The rest of the faculty treats him as a bit of a joke.
Alfred thinks he's brilliant.
And then of course, there is the library. Alfred practically lives in his library, wandering through its towering shelves in a happy daze, scooping books from the shelves by the armful and falling fast asleep at least once a week on a comfortable pillow of science or theology or whatever other subject has caught his interest that day.
He has never been so happy.
One morning, shortly after Alfred's nineteenth birthday, Professor Abronsius hobbles up to the lectern, fixes the class with an impenetrable, beady-eyed gaze that makes Alfred cower in his seat – and demands to know how much any of them can tell him about homo nosferatu vampiris.
The next two hours pass like a dream. Or a nightmare. Or some inscrutable combination of the two.
Alfred sits rooted in his seat, unable to move a muscle save for the occasional shiver that winds its way down his spine, and there are moments when his hand trembles so badly it can hardly take down a single note - yet by the end of the lecture, he has slid to the very edge of his chair, leaning right over his desk so as note to miss a word the Professor speaks. Afterwards, he skips lunch altogether and hurries straight to the library, burying himself in books on monsters, mythology and the horrors of the supernatural world.
Alfred cannot explain what it is about homo nosferatu vampiris that fascinates him so completely. They cling to his subconscious like sticky strands of spider's web, spinning around and around his head by day and creeping into his dreams by night. Beautiful and terrible, all at the same time; miraculous in their existence, and yet demonic by their very nature; monsters with the faces of angels.
Perhaps that's it, perhaps that's why he is so captivated by them. Perhaps it's the twisted combination of light and dark that holds his interest, the battle of good and evil personified in a single being that is neither animal nor human, soulless yet beatific, and cursed to drink the blood of innocents in exchange for eternal life…
He cannot name the feeling that stirs inside him as he reads about such things – all he knows is that there simply aren't enough books in the library to sate his curiosity.
And so, Alfred takes to hanging back after class, helping the Professor pack away his things and questioning him enthusiastically about the teachings of Van Helsing and Alibori alike. The Professor is only too delighted to share his unparalleled knowledge with such a respectful and attentive young man - especially when said young man is so eager to help him tidy his office, alphabetise his books, scrub his equipment till it shines and supply him with as many cups of tea as he can drink - and it's not long before the two vampire enthusiasts, with their sixty years of age difference between them, are rarely seen without the other.
When the Professor announces he will be taking an impromptu research trip to Transylvania, Alfred spends almost an entire week summoning up the courage to ask if he might, just might be able to accompany him - only to be told by a thoroughly nonplussed and rather impatient Abronsius that he has already bought him a train ticket, because how exactly does Alfred expect him to manage such a staggering expedition without his assistant?
(His assistant. Alfred has never been so proud in all his life.)
In the week that follows, Alfred scrapes together every penny he owns in order to buy himself a smart new crimson coat for his big trip. He also invests in a pair of thick woollen socks in a lovely fuzzy orange colour – they sort of match his coat, don't they? – because he has read about the dreaded Transylvanian blizzards and, as the Professor always says, it's important to come prepared for these sorts of things.
One last day of lectures. One last visit to the library. One last trip to confession (the priest assures him, with a kindly smile, that the Lord will forgive him for his sins of returning books to the library three days late and missing Mass during his upcoming expedition).
And it is only when Alfred has slid the key to his door under the mat, heaved the Professor's many suitcases onto the train and watched the towering chimneys of Königsberg fade into the distance…that it strikes him how very empty his life is. How very devoid of family. Of friends.
Of anyone, in fact, who will think to look for him, or come after him, or miss him. If this trip ends…badly.
Alfred gives himself a little shake.
No – no, it's silly to think like that. He will be back in Königsberg in no time. Back to his studies, his beloved library, his quiet little life.
After all, didn't the hero always return home, after his adventure was said and done? After the villains had been defeated, and the princess saved, and good had triumphed over evil as it always, always did? That's the way the story goes, and Alfred's will be just the same. He's not entirely sure of the specifics yet. The how, and what, and who, and where, and when.
But if there's one thing Alfred is good at, it's seeing the hopeful side to all things in life.
After all…what's the worst that can happen?