I've had a craving for history these past few days, and have spent the last two hours researching things on German history... I have no idea what I'm going to do with this, whether or not I'll continue it or not, but here is some story with my favorite bros the Germans. Set in 1960's.

Kornblumen-Krumen: Cornflower Crumbs (PLEASE let me know if this translation is right; I'd hate to have the German wrong even though I like the title.)

Okay so I'm uploading this again for the new cover and fixed summary. And then deleted and REUPLOADED AGAIN because it wouldn't go through. Sorry people :( But here it is again!

Hope you enjoy?


His brother was an engineer.

A good one, too, not some stuffy loon that shut himself up in the house all day, fiddling with wrenches and muttering madly about the laws of physics.

"That's the funny thing about most engineers," his brother had said. "Everybody thinks they're proficient with tools, when in reality all of us have a few screws loose."

No, he took it back. His brother wasn't a good engineer. He was an awesome engineer, as his brother had so frequently reminded him.

They lived in West Berlin. "The awesome part," his brother had deemed it. He had a childish fascination with the word, belabored the idea that "life was awesome". And while Ludwig never took to his brother's vocabulary, he grew up never questioning his philosophy. They had a roof over their heads, soup in their bowls, and enough water for their glasses and the small garden of cornflowers that his brother so meticulously cared for.

"Isn't gardening for girls?" he'd asked once, watching his brother pulling up weeds and yanking at their roots. He sat on the back stoop, the fresh air warm against the back of his neck.

His brother had laughed. "Gardening's for everybody. Don't make me doubt my masculinity."

"Why don't you grow anything else besides cornflowers? We could plant vegetables, beans, herbs...why cornflowers?"

"We can buy those things. Why waste time growing them? Somebody's glad we buy their produce, I can promise you that."

"But cornflowers aren't good for anything. Isn't growing them more of a waste of time than growing something we can use?"

"They're good for some things," his brother had retorted, wiping pale hair off his glistening forehead. "Some medicinal properties, I think. Tea, maybe."

"But we don't make tea. I think you just grow them because you think they're pretty."

"You really think?"

He nodded fervently. "They're blue."

His brother broke into a wide smile. "You've discovered my shameful secret - national pride."

"I don't know why you insist on being Prussian. Mutti and Vati weren't Prussian."

"Mutti was Prussian," his brother explained. "But Vati took her here when they got married."

"Are you positive?"

"Of course I'm positive. You can ask Opa the next time he visits." Their grandfather was the one that had supported them in place of their parents, though he had only because of a sense of moral duty. He had remained their aloof guardian up until Ludwig's brother had grown up and deemed not a complete disappointment to the Beilschmidt family tree. Now he visited every once in a while, though they became into trickle as time moved on. He still supplied them with money, though. It was enough Deutschemarks to get by on. More than enough.

During the night, with a lamp burning its dim orange and casting its ghostly light on their bed sheets, his brother told him bedtime stories. Ludwig told him he was too old for fairy tales, and that he wasn't going to listen and that his brother could just talk to himself and would he please turn off the light?

His brother never listened, and deep down Ludwig never actually wanted him too.

"Fairy tales!" he'd scoff. "These aren't just any old fairy tales. This is the Grimm brothers and history."

That night was a story about cornflowers. His brother told him about Queen Louise of Prussia, running from Berlin and from Napoleon's endless march, hiding her children in a field of cornflowers and weaving wreaths to keep them still and silent.

"Cornflowers must have been very large back then," Ludwig remarked at the end of the tale, "for people to be able to hide in them."

"What?" his brother laughed, "You can't imagine me hiding in the garden?"

Ludwig imagined him pressed to the dirt, blue petals contrasting starkly with his albinism, the color a flash of electricity against dark red-violet eyes, the stalks definitely not enough to conceal him from anyone's view. It was silly.

"You're too pale to hide."

"I'll use the buds as camouflage. Or pass as a ghost. Ah! I can see it now! That sissy Austrian and his man-girl Elizabeta will pass by on their morning walk, talking about Beethoven and cake and stupid things like that, and then the Awesome Me will pop out and scare their souls straight out of their bodies!"

"Miss Héderváry would hit you with her frying pan again. Don't you remember the time she caught you stealing her Donauwelle from her kitchen?"

"That wasn't her Donauwelle," his brother snorted. "That was Edelstein's. I was looking to smash it in his face."

He went on with another story. It wasn't new, as in fact, his brother had told it over and over that it was to the point that Ludwig had not only memorized the words, but also knew the precise moment his brother said them, the cadence of the tale like the rhythm of a song and each syllable as familiar to him as the walls of his room. It was from the Grimm brothers, as his brother harbored such a ridiculous fascination with them. Hansel and Gretel.

"And so Hansel, being as awesome as he was, tried to make do without white pebbles by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Their unawesome parents led them farther and farther into the woods and left them there again. Hansel and Gretel try to follow the breadcrumbs home, but some stupid birds ate them so they get lost."

"I don't think it was the birds fault," Ludwig said.

"Of course it was. They ate the breadcrumbs so that Hansel and Gretel couldn't find their way home. That's not cool."

"But maybe it wasn't the birds. Breadcrumbs are breadcrumbs, not white pebbles. White pebbles are heavy and could gleam in the moonlight. The breadcrumbs could have been picked up by the wind, and, even if they weren't, they don't shine and they'd be difficult to follow in the dark."

"No, no, no. It was definitely the birds."

"Why didn't they use something else, then? Something the birds wouldn't want?"

"Don't question the Grimm brothers, Luddy."

"I'm not. I'm questioning the rationalities of Hansel and Gretel. They could have used something else. Ripped a shirt and tied pieces of it to trees, or just followed their parents even when they told them to stay put."

"They were regular children," his brother replied with a smile, "not mastermind child-geniuses like you."

"Simple observation of other options doesn't make me a genius. Why wouldn't Hansel and Gretel follow their parents, if they knew that they meant to abandon them there in the forest?"

"Maybe they'd given them cornflower wreaths," his brother suggested with an exhale of laughter. "Now don't interrupt. I'm the one telling the story. Where was I? Oh. So they're in this really dark, spooky forest, all alone and cold, but Hansel and Gretel aren't afraid of any trees and trudge on until they find this super awesome house..."

Ludwig was mostly asleep by the time he finished and finally turned out the light, and was still asleep by the time he got up to catch the subway line into East Berlin, where he worked.

The next night, there were no bedtime stories.

And he was without them the next.

And the next.

The cornflowers in the garden drooped and withered in the August sun, and nothing Ludwig did was enough to save them. It was only when Mr. Edelstein finally investigated the strange, unnatural quietness that he was found sitting in the sad remains, desperately patting soil around a dead bloom, when Ludwig was told the possible reason for his brother's disappearance. The words were shaped by Mr. Edelstein's gentlest voice, too thin and grating, and continued by Miss Héderváry's shaking voice, muffled by her hands pressed to her face.

Gilbert had gotten lost in the Grimms' forest, without even breadcrumbs to help him home or cornflowers to hide in, stuck and alone in the East, on the other side of the Wall.

Okay. To explain that ending:

August 13, 1961, "East Germans permanently closed the border between East and West Berlin". It began with barbed wire and soldiers, so they didn't just erect the massive concrete wall in one day, but I was reading up on how families got separated on wither side of the wall and found that, before the Berlin Wall was erected, Berliners could cross onto either side of the border, whether for work, to shop, just walking or whatever. There were trains and subway lines. But basically "Overnight, families were separated", which is absolutely tragic. The history of the Wall is horribly interesting, if you want to read up on it. I don't know what possessed me to read up on it, but I didn't know too much about it and the photos of when it came down are so moving that it gets me every time. Thus: Germany and Prussia, West and East, separated.