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How to Get Her Back (M) – Secret Santa for SCW! 4 Parts + Epilogue; COMPLETE (12/24/16)


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Dear scw – I was so excited (and sooo nervous at the same time) when I opened the pm and saw YOU would be the one I was honored to write my Secret Santa for!

I’m sorry that I don’t have a Mystrade-story for you – you know, I’m not so familiar with these characters and I didn’t want to mess it up. :blush: But you gave such a wonderful prompt with that Taylor Swift song! I haven’t even known this song before, but today, I listened to it, read the lyrics and thought it was like taylor-made (pun intended :P) for my original characters Joseph and Virginia!

So, I started to write this story for you and I hope, you like it. :)




How to Get Her Back

This story goes six years back to the winter of 2010. In this story, Joseph is 27 and Virginia 39. It’s also 7 months after Virgie had broken off with him.

Prompt for this story: “How You Get the Girl” by Taylor Swift


Character sheets for the story “How to get her back?” – Effective November 2010 - It's not necessary to read them to understand the story:

  1. Virginia Urban – age 39; opera singer; colleague and ex-lover of Joseph’s; sings contralto; long ash-blond hair, a fine bright face that looks much younger than her age; corpulent but still very feminine; she was never married, but has daughter of 16.
  2. Joseph Dicalussi – age 27, opera singer; Italian roots; sings baritone and plays five instruments; medium height, slim, fine brown chin-long hair, dark brown eyes, tanned skin; he was Virginia’s boyfriend. Joseph is very charming, likes to flirt, but is usually faithful in a relationship
  3. Olivia Martin – cembalist; 29, slim, black hair, black eyes; had a short affair with Joseph

    ~ Part I ~

    It was the last week of November. Virginia was deep in thoughts while she was looking out of the window into the dark and the rain. It had been pouring constantly for the last three or four days with temperatures of about 3°C (37.4°F). And it was already dark at four pm – just a very typical November day. Virginia had spent her only free day of the week with cleaning and decorating her house for the upcoming Advent time – she had lighted the fire in her little fireplace; a wreath with four Advent candles was on her coffee table, lights were in the windows, more candles and smokers everywhere; the scent of incense cones and cinnamon in the air. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was played on her CD player – the record of their own concert house from last year. When she heard a special baritone voice, tears shot into her eyes.

    The opera singer had always loved the Christmas time. But this year, her mood was sad and she felt empty –no decoration or music in the world could change her feelings.

    It had been almost seven months…

    Seven months since she’d found out about Joseph and Olivia; since she’d dumped him and he had just disappeared over night…

    Sighing, Virginia turned around and took the two empty boxes where she used to stow her Christmas decoration and went to bring them back to the cellar. When she returned upstairs, someone ringed at her door. The singer startled and looked at her watch – nearly five pm. It was too late for the postman and she hadn’t invited guests for the night. Who could it be – a neighbor perhaps?

    Virginia slowly opened the door and saw him… the man, she had thought about every single day over all those last months – Joseph Dicalussi – opera singer, much too young for her and still, he was her former boyfriend. She closed her eyes as she wasn’t sure if what she saw was only a vision. But when she reopened them, he was still there – shivering in the freezing November rain that had completely drenched his much too thin clothes. His usually curly brown hair looked much darker as it was plastered to his wet face. He didn’t even have an umbrella; he only carried a medium size suitcase in one hand.

    “Joseph!” she called out in a tone between shock and surprise.

    “Virgie…” he answered, sniffled and rubbed his nose with the back of his free hand.

    Hearing his voice again – his beautiful sonorous baritone voice - after all this time sent shudders down her spine. And she was still in a shock.

    “Joseph… how… why… what are you doing here? Where have you been all this time?”

    “Virgie… I know… It’s been six months…”

    “Seven…” she interrupted him. Was there hoarseness in his voice?

    He cleared his throat and coughed lightly. “Or seven… Virginia, I know, it’s been a long time, but please…” he interrupted himself as his breath started to hitch. He squinted his eyes and furiously rubbed at his nose again. “…let me… explain…” he tried to go on but lost the struggle when he bent forward and sneezed a harsh, wet HEWchou to the ground.

    Virginia shook her head, she was looking for words. “Are you insane?” she asked finally. “You come here after all this time like that… don’t even call me before. How did you even know…” She sighed and stepped back to let him inside. “Come in already before you catch your death.” she said after he had coughed and sneezed once more. It was ice-cold outside and she was already shivering only from standing a few minutes in the doorway.

    The woman closed the door behind them and looked at the young man who was standing there like a picture of misery in his drenched clothes, sniffling, clearing his throat while a puddle started to build around his feet. “Wait here; I’ll bring you a towel.” Virginia said and disappeared into her bedroom.

    Joseph sat his suitcase down. He stepped from one foot to the other and rubbed his upper arms with his hands. The young singer was shivering visibly; his lips and fingers were blue. When Virginia came back with a big bath towel for him, he took it gratefully and started to dry his face, hands and hair as good as he could. He also took off his shoes as he didn’t want to ruin Virginia’s floor; but his socks were completely drenched as well; so he left wet traces everywhere.

    “Come” Virginia said in her soft, deep voice and guided the young man to her sofa where she’d already spread another towel for him to sit down. She left him there and went to the kitchen to make some tea. “Make yourself comfortable”, she just said.

    Joseph tried his best but it wasn’t easy as he was struggling with his nose that now – in the warmth started running while he still couldn’t stop shivering. As a new horrid tickle started to build up in his nose, he furiously looked around and was glad to find a tissue box on a stand nearby. Hastily, with trembling finger, he took some tissues from the box and hrrrEWchou… HEWchou… hrrrCHOUUU… was able to catch a row of harsh sneezes in them. “Oh dear, bloody cold…” he mumbled into his hands, then softly blew his nose.

    “How long have you been sick already?” Virginia asked when she came back from the kitchen and put the hot lemon tea onto the table before him.

    The young man shook his head. “I’m not ill,” he said. “Or at least I wasn’t before I arrived in Berlin…” he conceded. “I guess it’s only sensitivity to the weather, not an illness.” he added and coughed hoarsely.

    Virginia couldn’t help but giggle. “Yes, sounds very convincing… But alright… want to tell me why you’re here now? And where you have been all the time to begin with…”


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    Oh Hedgie! This is wonderful! Thank you so, so much. I am very happy you felt my prompt fit your OC's Joseph and Virginia. :yes:

    11 hours ago, hedgehog said:

    “Virgie… I know… It’s been six months…”


    “Seven…” she interrupted him.

    But who's counting? Not Virgie, certainly. :nohappy:

    11 hours ago, hedgehog said:

    Virginia shook her head, she was looking for words. “Are you insane?” she asked finally. “You come here after all this time like that… don’t even call me before. How did you even know…” She sighed and stepped back to let him inside. “Come in already before you catch your death.” she said after he had coughed and sneezed once more.

    This is perfect. :heart:

    Thank you, thank you again. I can't wait for the next part. Tell me, will there be "kisses on cheeks"? :kisscheek:


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    oooOooooOooohh :clapping:

    Great that you were able to cook up a fic with your OC's for the prompt :D they are so intriguing and well developed (and Joseph sounds so cuUuute!! :yay:)

    It'll be interesting to see if Virginia takes him back after 7 months. Maybe some sneezy seranading sprinkled with chaste kisses on the cheeks and subtle forehead feels will do the trick ;) who knows 

    *sets up camp* 

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    7 hours ago, Juto said:

    It'll be interesting to see if Virginia takes him back

    Well, the song is "How You Get The Girl" and I love happy endings. ;) 

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    11 hours ago, Sanguine Cheerful Worrier said:

    Oh Hedgie! This is wonderful! Thank you so, so much. I am very happy you felt my prompt fit your OC's Joseph and Virginia. :yes:

    But who's counting? Not Virgie, certainly. :nohappy:

    This is perfect. :heart:

    Thank you, thank you again. I can't wait for the next part.


    And I'm more than happy that you like the first part of my little story for you. :heart:


    Tell me, will there be "kisses on cheeks"? :kisscheek:


    Would you like it? ;)


    10 hours ago, Juto said:

    oooOooooOooohh :clapping:

    Great that you were able to cook up a fic with your OC's for the prompt :D they are so intriguing and well developed (and Joseph sounds so cuUuute!! :yay:)

    It'll be interesting to see if Virginia takes him back after 7 months. Maybe some sneezy seranading sprinkled with chaste kisses on the cheeks and subtle forehead feels will do the trick ;) who knows 

    *sets up camp* 

    Hehe - great to see you here, dear Juto. Make yourself comfortable for the next part. ;)

    (I've also seen that I will probably need more than one other part to get the story finished. That's why I changed the title... ^^)

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    ~ Part II ~

    Joseph sipped some of the tea and closed his eyes as the warm liquid felt so good. How could he forget, how cold Germany was in November?

    “I was in Florence, lived in my uncle’s house there.” the singer said and cleared his throat again. He tried to think of all the things he wanted to say. It was a lot. He had been thinking about his words and the whole situation again and again. For months. But especially during the last week, when he finally felt ready and strong enough to go back. Albeit not strong enough to call her before… He feared too much, she would have declined him, wouldn’t have given him any chance to speak, to explain everything.

    “I needed some time to…” A new shudder went through Joseph’s body. The singer put the tea cup back to the table and rubbed his arms again. The wet clothes started to feel very cold on his body. His runny nose, a certain sting in his throat and a dull ache that was forming behind is eyes all led to the conclusion that Virginia might be right with her assumption of him becoming ill.

    “Virgie, you had every right to dump mbe after all that’d happened…” he sniffled wetly and dabbed more tissues to his runny nose. “I’mb sorry…” He felt tears forming in his eyes. His voice changed. Gosh, that's embarrassing, he thought and still couldn’t help to be shaken from feeling cold and the tears now. He turned away from Virginia, shaking his head. “So sorry…” he added, then felt her hand on his shoulder and looked up into her wonderful blue-green eyes.

    “You should get out of these wet clothes. I’m going to prepare a bath for you.” She said.

    Joseph nodded. All the memory of what a wonderful, caring person Virginia was, came back to his mind and were making his misery complete. More tears were streaming down his cheeks, a cough escaped his stinging throat. On top of it, his running and ticklish nose was betraying him once more.

    hhhhrrrrrWCHOU…. hhhwwwwCHOU…. hhhrrrpppCHOUUUUU… Ouch! Those sneezes really started to hurt in his throat and head now. Good, there were still enough tissues to clean his runny nose.

    “Gesundheit,” Virginia said softly. And when she cupped his cheek with her hand and her thump stroke some of his tears away; he was so overwhelmed with his feelings of love for her that he only wanted to kiss this wonderful woman.

    “Hush…” she said and laid a finger over his lips. “Go and take your bath now. I still have… You… will find your old bathrobe and slippers in the bathroom.” She dropped her gaze and stood up from her crouching position.

    “Thank you, Virgie…” Joseph said standing up himself now. The moment, the warm couch did not protect his back anymore; and it was exposed to the room air that felt freezing to him, he shivered even more.  


    The bathroom seemed to be warmer than the rest of the house. Although his nose was running, he could smell the odor of spruce needles and eucalyptus. So, his sweet Virginia had prepared a cold and flu bath for him. He took off his wet clothes as quickly as possible. Then, he climbed into the bath tub. He moaned and closed his eyes about the sensation of the hot water touching his ice-cold skin. He sank in deeper, enjoying the warmth spreading everywhere while the essentials helped against the congestion that was building up in his nose. He sniffled liquidly and breathed deeply into his lungs. This bath was a marvelous idea; even if he felt his head getting hot and drowsy; his blood throbbing in his temples. My sweet Virginia… he thought. This was like homecoming; he wanted to stay forever. He felt his eyelids getting heavy and was nearly dozing off, when a cool hand touched his neck.

    “Hey, don’t falls asleep herein, Jo.” Virginia said, then touched his cheek with the same hand. “Wow, you’re feeling really warm now, Jo…”

    Joseph blinked while coming slowly to his mind again. Then, he smiling took her hand in his own and placed a small kiss at its knuckles. “I’m sure, it’s only the effect of the hot water, Virgie. I’m feeling much better now.” He sniffled wetly again, then sneezed several times into the water. “Only my nose is running like crazy.” He added giggling which led to a small cough.

    Virginia stood up with a smile, stroking the back of her hand inconspicuously with the thumb of the other. “Gesundheit,” she said in the light, friendly tone he only knew from the time they still had been together. “Now, come out and towel yourself – I’ve prepared some dinner for us – carrot stew; I know, you like it. And blow your nose,” she added with a wink before leaving the bathroom again.


    The two were sitting together in her kitchen, eating the carrot stew mostly in silence. Joseph surely was hungry – ha hadn’t eaten anything since a small snack on the plane; and this had been almost seven hours ago. But his stomach felt squeamish, so he ate carefully. Virginia noticed of course.

    “Not hungry?” she asked skeptically.

    “Not much,” he answered and shrugged his shoulders.

    “So… you went away to Italy because you needed some time for yourself, right?”

    Joseph dropped his gaze and sank the spoon into his stew. Right… they still had to talk. He still had to explain everything. The illusion of 'homecoming' of 'everything as it always had been' he had imagined for the last twenty minutes, was crumbling away.

    “I… you know, I couldn’t face… all the mistakes I had made.” Joseph felt new tears coming when he remembered the time he had been running away and angrily fought against them. He swallowed harshly which led to a hoarse and painful cough.

    Virginia sighed. She had emptied her own plate. Now, she stood up, went behind her former lover, and put her hands on his shoulders, ready to massage some of the tension there away.

    “You just vanished over night without telling anyone about your destination. You dismissed your contract with the opera…” The woman shook her head. Her voice wavered when the words brought the memory of the rage and grief back she had felt when all this had happened last spring.

    “I’ve found an engagement in an Italian company that was touring around playing music for tourists during the summer.” Joseph almost whispered, his gaze directed to the spoon he was slowly turning on his plate with the rests of the meanwhile cool stew.

    “And you never thought of contacting anyone? Not me, nor your friends, not even Olivia?”

    Joseph noticed a lot of suppressed grudge in Virginia’s voice and involuntarily ducked his head. And her mentioning the name of that woman reinforced the bad feeling in his stomach. He swallowed, then grimaced at the sudden stinging pain in his throat. Another cough escaped him.

    “I can only tell you again, how sorry I am.” Joseph said, raising his gaze now to meet Virginia’s bright eyes. She looked hurt and sad and this again hurt him a lot. He stood up just to sink down on one knee before her, taking her hand. “I don’t know if you can ever forgive me.” He said with burning eyes and cheeks. “But I came back to tell you that I love you, Virginia. I needed some time to understand this. But now, I see it clearer than ever before. I love you, Virginia. I’ve always loved you. But I was stupid and blind…” Joseph quickly turned to the side and sneezed a harsh hrrrrKECHOU… against his left shoulder. “Sorry…” he said hoarsely and sniffled.

    Virginia carefully put her hand on his brow and shook her head. “You speak in a fever, Jo. You don’t know what you’re saying…” she said lowly. “Come, let’s take you to your bed. You’re shivering, you need to rest. We can talk tomorrow.”

    It was true, Joseph was freezing again. It had started slowly during the dinner and had become to an almost uncontrollable shuddering now. His head felt heavy and he was too tired to contradict her. A warm bed felt like a brilliant idea just now. He slowly followed her guidance to her bedroom. To their former bedroom where they had spent so many happy nights together…


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    YES THEY'RE BACK! I adore these two and such a cute story so far :heart: Oh Joseph let her take care of you pleeeeeeease :D


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    Oh dear, Joseph you are going to have to do better if you are going to get Virgie back. She's not kicked you out, but that's only because you are sick. On the other hand she doesn't believe you want her back because you are sick. Such a conundrum. 

    Yes, kisses on cheeks! :kisscheek: "Remind her how it use to be!" :yes: 

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    Thank you, Kaze! (also for proofreading!) :kisscheek:

    And thank you, SCW! :kisscheek:Here is the next chapter for you.


    *digs herself a pit to hide - just in case :blush: *

    ~ Part III ~

    While Joseph was snoring softly in her bed, Virginia made herself comfortable on her couch with some pillows, sheets and blankets; and slipped into her nightgown. But she was unable to find enough peace of mind to fall asleep. So, she was flipping through old photo albums, biting her lips and fighting some tears. There were memories of the time, they had been together – happy little moments like a walk on the beach; and so many pictures from the trips of their ensemble around the world – Prague, Rome, Beijing, New York… They came around a lot. And on most of the pictures, the two were standing together – hand in hand or him placing an arm around her hips or kissing her cheek… There was a taste of bitterness and grief to all of them, even after Joseph’s words. No – even more after those words. He hadn’t told everything yet, but she neither. And there was one thing, she really had to tell him…

    She was torn out of her thoughts by a bad coughing fit that was followed by some rumbling in the bedroom. Virgie was on her feet in a second; her tears already dried. She was ready to run over to see what had happened, when the bedroom door opened slowly and sleep-drugged Joseph appeared in the doorframe – his curly hair all ruffled, tired eyes blinking. Dressed in his checked flannel pajama, he looked like an overgrown toddler. Virginia couldn’t help but smile. “What’s wrong, Joseph?” she asked concerned. “Can I help you?”

    The young man didn’t say anything, just laid his fingers against his throat, a pained expression on his face. “Awww,” Virginia scoffed and hurried to him. “Is it that bad?”

    He nodded, blinking sleepily.

    “Come here, I’ll bring you something…” She guided him to her sofa, feeling the fever heat through the fabric of his pajama. After he was settled safely on the couch with a blanket around him, she brought a throat spray, some painkillers, a thermometer and a glass of water for him. She let him stick out his tongue and examined his throat which looked awfully red. So, she helped him with the spray, then gave him the thermometer that he willingly took under his tongue. Sitting down beside him, she allowed him to lean his head against her shoulder and ruffled his hair. “Then… no denying you’re sick anymore?” she asked and he just slowly shook his head with the device still sticking out of his mouth. When the thermometer beeped, it confirmed a temperature of 38.4°C (101.2 F).

    Virgie sighing rubbed Joseph’s shoulder as he coughed once more. “Take one of those pills and then go back to bed. Okay, Jo?”

    “Okay,” Joseph whispered hoarsely and sniffled. This obviously made his nose ticklish, as his face scrunched, his eyes shut. He inhaled air and quickly took some tissues from the box on the table. They found his nose just in time for a fit of desperate sneezes. Hmmmtsheesh… hngntsch… Hmmmt-SHEEH. A bad coughing followed the fit and goosebumps were running all over his skin.

    “Oh, Joseph… I’m sorry, you’re not feeling well...” Virginia said softly and helped him up. “Come on, I’ll take you over to the bed and stay by your side until you fall asleep again.”

    “Thank you, Virgie. You’ve always been so caring.” Joseph croaked that it hurt to hear.

    “Hush, dear, you don’t need to speak,” Virgie answered.

    Sitting by his bedside, stroking his poor hot face, she sang “"Ninna nanna, dormi figlio, dormi amore” for him – an Italian lullaby she knew he loved very much.

    Virginia only wanted to stay until he fell asleep. But – as heavy as her heart was with the thoughts of the unspoken – she was very tired now as well. So, it happened, that she fell asleep beside him.


    When Joseph woke up to another coughing fit, he found Virginia sleeping by his side. He smiled and suppressed further coughing, careful not to wake her. She looked so beautiful and peaceful with her soft, fair skin, the long, ash-blond hair. He silently ran his fingers through her curls, then kissed his fingertips and sent this kiss to her forehead. He laid a blanket over her body so she wouldn’t feel cold in the morning. After another dose of the throat spray and blowing his nose, the young singer gladly fell back to sleep again.


    The next morning, he woke up to sunshine breaking through the window and the noise of the coffee machine. Although he couldn’t smell it, he could imagine the odor of coffee and it sent a smile over his face.

    “How are you?” asked Virginia from the doorframe. She wore beige jeans and a long, light-blue blouse. Her hair was wet from a shower, she was busy drying it with a towel in her hand.

    “Better,” he assured croakily, although he still felt lousy. But his head felt clearer and he was sure, his fever had dropped down in the morning hours.

    “You don’t sound very convincing,” Virginia chuckled. “But I’m going to prepare some tea and toast for you, alright?”


    “Joseph, I hate to ask you this now as I know how ill you are. But we must talk about it… Where did you think to stay when you came back to Berlin? You don’t have an own apartment, do you?” Virginia asked when they were sitting at her kitchen table, eating their breakfast.

    The young singer sipped on his tea, sniffed and shrugged his shoulders. “With you?” he answered, looking down at his hands.

    Virginia sighed and set her coffee pot down. “Joseph, you know that’s not possible. We’re not together anymore. You can’t just ignore this fact.” She bit her lips. “I also have to tell you something about… Olivia.” She said lowly, looking down at her hands herself now.

    Joseph looked at her puzzled and a bit scared. “About Olivia?” he asked.

    Virginia took both of his hands, looked down on them; but then up into his glassy, brown eyes. “Olivia is pregnant, Joseph.”

    The young singer swallowed. That was exactly what he had feared she would say. “How long?” he asked tonelessly.

    “She’s in her eighth month – the child will be there soon.”

    “Then it’s mine…” He swallowed again, leaned back against the chairback, and tried to take a deep breath which led to a horrible coughing fit.

    “I must go to her. Speak to her.” He spat out in between – his voice weak and soundless.

    “Not today, Joseph. You should wait until you feel better.”

    The young singer shook his head with tears in his eyes.  “She told me she’d be on the pill.” He said. “I’m sorry, Virginia. So very sorry.”

    Virginia was crouching down in front of him, and took his shaking body into her arms. The stress seemed to have raised the fever again. “Shhh, let’s take care that you get healthy again, Jo.” She said, rocking him softly. “Then we can talk about what you could do.”

    “No…” Joseph said and looked at her with tears in his eyes. “There’s only one way. I will go and propose to her. If she agrees… I will marry that woman. I have to…”




    Ninna nanna, dormi figlio, dormi amore... - For better imagination, here is an interpretation of the song by the great countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. His voice comes near to that of a female contralto - so one could imagine Virgie singing like that. :)

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    1 hour ago, hedgehog said:

    sleep-drugged Joseph appeared in the doorframe – his curly hair all ruffled, tired eyes blinking. Dressed in his checked flannel pajama, he looked like an overgrown toddler. Virginia couldn’t help but smile. “What’s wrong, Joseph?” she asked concerned. “Can I help you?”

    The young man didn’t say anything, just laid his fingers against his throat, a pained expression on his face. “Awww,” Virginia scoffed and hurried to him. “Is it that bad?”

    He nodded, blinking sleepily.

    Aww! Poor baby. That's so cute. :) 

    1 hour ago, hedgehog said:

    “No…” Joseph said and looked at her with tears in his eyes. “There’s only one way. I will go and propose to her. If she agrees… I will marry that woman. I have to…”


    No! Nope! No, you don't! Bad idea! Very bad idea! :nosad:

    This is such a huge twist, Hedgie. I have no idea what's going to happen next. Thank you for an amazing up date. Now I'm on pins and needles for the next one. :D 


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    Awwww, SCW. Thank you for your very nice comment! I'm afraid, you won't like the first few paragraphes of the next part... :blushing:  but there will follow some more... ;)



    Character sheets for the story “How to get her back?” – Effective December 2016
    - It's not necessary to read them to understand the story:

    1. Joseph Dicalussi – age 33, opera singer and part-time professor for music and composition at the University of Arts in Berlin; Italian roots; sings baritone and plays five instruments; medium height, slim, fine brown chin-long hair, dark brown eyes, tanned skin; he’s divorced and has a five-year-old son (Dante) who lives with his mother.
    2. Virginia Urban – age 45; opera singer; colleague and ex-lover (before his marriage) of Joseph’s; sings contralto; long ash-blond hair – tinted to hide the first grey streaks, a fine bright face that looks much younger than her age; corpulent but still very feminine; she was never married, but has an adult daughter (Camilla, 23). Virginia is friendly and very caring.
    3. Camilla Urban – age 23; studies music and composition at the University of Arts in Berlin; Virginia’s daughter
    4. Dante Dicalussi – age 5, Joseph’s son
    5. Peter Kling – tenor, 43, very short grey-blond hair, grey eyes, humorous. He looks good, is gay and has a long-time relationship with the lead-trumpet player Isaak Markowitz

    Background characters (not part of the story):

    1. Olivia Martin – cembalist, 35, black hair, black eyes. She is Joseph’s ex-wife and mother of his son Dante.
    2. Achim Kronenberg – age 60, conductor and lead violin; Virginia’s ex and father of her daughter Camilla; he’s tall, average built, bright-grey hair



    ~ Part IV ~

    Joseph needed four days to get over the worst of his cold. He had spent the most time in Virginia’s house. But the contralto went to work in the Opera, so he was mostly on his own.

    When Virginia told about his return to Berlin, some other friends were visiting him in the morning hours – their usual free time. There were some bad arguments about his plan. Neither Virgie nor Peter could understand, why he was so very conservative in this one point while he was quite liberal in most others.

    “How can you not understand?” He asked with tears in his eyes, his voice still sounding quite sick. “That’s my child, my blood. I want to be there for them – day and night. I have to try at least.”

    And so, he did…


    Joseph proposed to Olivia five days after his return to Berlin. Their son Dante was born in January 2011, they married in May of the same year. They weren’t very happy together, as they didn’t love each other. Joseph tried to be faithful while Olivia had some affairs. Both loved their son though. But four years later, Olivia filed for divorce. Joseph agreed. Their separation year was from August 2015 to August 2016. Thereafter, the divorce became official.


    ~ December 2016 ~


    As always, the schedule around Christmas time was overflowing and stressful – yesterday the Nicolai Church, today the Opera House, tomorrow the Berlin Dome – everyone wanted to see their Christmas specials, mostly the Christmas Oratorio. When they left the Opera against midnight, Joseph raised his shoulders against the freezing cold outside. He scrunched his nose, took a handkerchief out of his coat pocket and hrrr-RETshou caught a sneeze in it.

    “Gesundheit” said Virginia and fell into his step beside him. “You’re not getting ill, are you?” She studied his face, that just looked very tired. But every one of them was tired after a long day of rehearsals and performances.

    “I’m fine, Virgie,” Joseph said with a small sniff. “Don’t forget our date tomorrow – 5 pm at my place.”

    “In my ‘finest dress’. I haven’t forgotten.” She laughed. “You won’t tell me what this is about?”

    “No chance!” he winked and went a few steps backwards where their ways parted. “See you!”


    The next evening – a Wednesday – the only free of the week for them, Virginia stood in front of Joseph’s apartment; in the third floor of an old Berlin house where it smelled of floor wax and roast potatoes. From his rooms came the sound of a piano that stopped when she rang his bell. She heard some swift steps, a muffled cough, then the door opened.

    “Good evening Virginia! Come in!” Joseph beamed. His voice only sounded the slightest bit congested. But he looked fine. No, he looked gorgeous! He was clean shaven, soft brown chin-long hair nicely combed. He wore a white suit with a blue shirt and a dark-blue bow-tie. Surely an old stage outfit, Virginia thought smiling; as this usually wasn’t the baritone’s clothing style at all. Herself, she wore a long dark-red robe of velvet and gold jewelry of her grandmother she spared for very special occasions.

    She followed the man into his living room. There was a small dining table laid with candles, white dishes and eight red roses in a vase.

    “Sit down, dearest,” Joseph said with a small sniff and set a chair in place for her.

    Virginia giggling sat down. It smelled wonderfully. “Hmmmm, what have you cooked?” she asked.

    Joseph opened the lid of the serving dish on the table. “Canard al orange, just for you, my queen.”

    The contralto couldn’t believe what she saw. “Wow, Joseph… that looks and smells wonderful!”

    The baritone filled her plate and his own. Both were eating then and talking about funny events at the opera; not without Virgie saying things like “Hmmmm… oh my god… this is delicious!” and “Honestly, since when can you cook that well, Jo?”

    “All you need is a good app guiding you through,” Joseph said laughing and coughed a bit. Virginia laughed with him.

    “Thank you for the wonderful dinner,” she said a bit later. She didn’t want to urge him, but she died with curiosity what his purpose behind all the effort could be.

    After serving a crème brûlée for dessert and opening a bottle of champagne, Joseph went over to his piano. “I wrote a song for you, Virginia,” he said and cleared his throat before he started to play a sweet, a bit jazzy melody. Then, he began to sing – his warm, sonorous voice as always touching her soul deeply.

    “For six years, I was on the road
    at every end of the world.
    I followed the sun, the rivers, the sea.
    I sought at the bottom of the oceans,
    on the peaks of the highest mountains,
    in the deepest forests,
    in the eternal ice.

    But no matter where I went,
    no matter who I met,
    no one was like you.

    “I met thousands of people,
    men, women, old and young.
    Listened to their stories,
    dreams, oaths, songs, and lies.

    But no matter where I went,
    no matter who I met,
    no one was like you.

    “So, I return
    from my long journey.
    shattered pride,
    and tears
    are my luggage.
    I was wrong,
    but I've also learned.
    I know now

    all the ways I go
    will always lead me to you.
    I finally arrived.
    My path ends here.”


    He finished his song, his fingers resting on the last tone on his piano. Virginia had gone over to him while he was singing, had laid her hand softly against the wood of the instrument to feel every vibration of the sound. She had tears in her eyes.

    “Joseph…” she said and sniffled softly. “I don’t know what to say…”

    The man stood up from the piano, took her hand in his own and sank down on one knee. “Just say ‘yes’, Virginia.” His voice sounded slightly husky after the singing. He took a small package from his suit-pocket and opened it with his free hand. A fine golden ring with a pale pink gem appeared. “I love you Virgie. I’ve always loved you. I told you this before and I meant it. There was just another wrong track, I had to go… But now, this is over. I’m here with you and I want you to stay forever. I want to marry you. Say ‘yes’, please,” he repeated sniffling. He wiggled his nose a bit. Probably he would have liked to rub it, but both of his hands were occupied at this moment.

    Virginia smiled. She put a finger under his chin, then softly let her fingers slide over his cheeks, nose and forehead. “No fever this time,” she said, sounding a bit amused.

    Her touch had been too much for his poor nose – Joseph quickly turned to the side and sneezed a forceful hurrrre-TSHUUU into his left shoulder. He sniffled a bit. Then another hrrrwe-TSHUUUUUUU followed.

    “Gesundheit!” Virginia giggled, then softly kissed his forehead. “No fever yet, at least,” she added smiling.

    “Well… what’s your answer?” Joseph asked unsure.

    Virginia crouched down to be abreast of the kneeling man. “My answer is ‘yes’, Joseph. I love you, too."

    Joseph screamed with joy, his voice cracking. He jumped up, pulling the woman up with him and tearing her into a long, deep kiss.

    (The end?)


    Reference for Joseph’s song is “Keine wie du” by Laith al Deen – one of the most beautiful love-songs I know.



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    Oh Hedgie, thank you so much. This was lovely. Such a beautiful ending and the Joseph's proposal song to Virgie was so romantic. :wub: 

    This has been a marvelous Secret Santa present. I am so pleased you used the Taylor Swift prompt. Your story was perfect for it. Thank you again. :hug:

    @Juto Fluff Alert! Fluff Alert!

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    Awww, SCW – Thank you very much! :heart: I’m so glad you liked my story. :hug:

    Also, many thanks @CharliesGirl for your nice comment! Happy endings don’t come easy to me – I’m such a drama queen in stories! :lol:

    And now… SURPRISE… SURPRISE… here is a BONUS-CHAPTER for you! For you, dear @Sanguine Cheerful Worrier (at least, this is still YOUR Secret Santa!!!), but I also thought of my other dear friends here in the forum who have given me so much love and support even in the (for me) darkest time of this year; especially @Juto and @Kaze wo Hiku. :heart:

    This chapter… it’s just a bit of Christmas fluff. Sorry for the lack of (spelled) sneezes (there are some, but not many…) I probably should do better in a Secret Santa story, but this chapter went a bit away with me. :blush: I hope, you like it anyway…



    ~ Epilogue ~

    Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 7 pm

    Virginia Urban – opera singer, confident woman and since recently engaged to the love of her life – was preparing an inhalator in her kitchen, all her demeanor visibly upset. Her long, ash-blond hair was flying around, her round body quavering with rage.

    “What the hell did you think of it, you stupid man! Of all the ridiculous things, you could do…” She sent a fierce gaze over to the shivering bundle of a man who was sitting on her sofa, covered in blankets – all rueful expression in his brown, fever-bright eyes.

    “But Virgie, you know…” he tried to speak but only ended in a fit of horrible, rattling coughs.

    “No!” she interrupted him. “I don’t know anything. And even less I understand how you could spend four hours in my snowy garden, working on an enormous piece of ice, soaking all your clothes while doing so; when you’ve already suffered from a bad cold!”

    “But Virgie…” Joseph tried again, his croaky sick voice pleading… “I only wanted you to have the hrrrr-WETCHOU *sniff* *cough* hrrrrwwWETSHOU… *sniff* most beautiful ice angel of the neighborhood…” He rubbed his red and completely chapped nose with a tissue; and his hurting chest with the other hand.

    “Yeah, great… And now, I don’t only have the best ice-angel but also a fiancé with the worst pneumonia far and wide! Here, the inhalator is ready…” Virginia brought it over to the coffee table that was already covered with several meds, a tissue box, a cup of tea and a thermometer. She sat down beside the sick man and touched his forehead with the back of her fingers. “Still very hot,” she sighed.

    “It’s not pneumonia,” Joseph muttered and reluctantly took the inhalator to his face.

    “I’m not sure, Jo,” Virgie said, her voice sad and concerned. Your temperature is over 39°C (102.2°F) and that cough sounds dreadful. She rubbed his back and gently massaged his shoulders.

    “I must cough more when I use this,” Joseph moaned between coughs.

    “That’s because it loosens the congestion in your chest. It will help you, trust me… Perhaps I should cancel our Christmas party when you’re sick like that…” she said lowly, more to herself.

    “No, Virgie, please…” Joseph protested imploringly. “It’s our first Christmas together for seven years… Please, it’s still three days more – I will feel better by then. I promise.”

    Virginia sighed and shook her head again. “Oh Joseph, Joseph… my wonderful, stupid young man… you will be the death of me…”


    To be honest, she had seen something like that coming for the whole week. Well – maybe not that bad… What had started as some small sniffles last Wednesday, had been getting worse and worse with every stressful day.

    Virginia had helped Joseph to come over to her house the day after their engagement-dinner; as she already knew he was getting sick and wanted to have a better look at him. But despite her caretaking, he had a visible cold by Saturday and a slight fever on Sunday. On Monday, his voice started to sound husky. By Tuesday, he had been so hoarse one could hear it in every solo aria he sang; and he couldn’t stand longer than five minutes without coughing, sneezing or blowing his nose. So, they had already planned a replacement for him for the last performance before Christmas which would be on Friday.

    Virginia insisted on Joseph staying in his bed when he was still feverish and coughing a lot on Wednesday morning. They actually wanted to use their free day to do some Christmas shopping together; but now the contralto met with her colleague Agatha and her daughter Camilla instead.

    What Virginia had not seen coming was Joseph’s utter recklessness…

    When the huge package with Virginia’s Christmas surprise arrived at noon, Joseph quickly put on some clothes. Although feeling miserable, he was very determined to work on the ice as he had learned it in a workshop in November. He let the suppliers place the ice block in the middle of Virginia’s front garden; then fetched his tools. With every move of the saw; every stroke of hammer and chisel, he thought about, how happy and delighted his fiancée would be when she saw the completed figure. He ignored all the signs of his body’s protest – the shivering, sneezing, coughing, running nose… and did not stop before the angel was complete and looked almost as he had planned it. He arranged some lights around it so everyone could see it instantly. This had been two hours ago.

    Happy to have finished his project, Joseph went back inside the house. But as soon as he allowed his body to relax, he suddenly felt like hit by a truck. He dragged himself to the sofa (the bed was ‘too far away’), feeling dead on his feet, aching all over and shivering uncontrollably. That’s how Virgie found him half an hour later when she came back from her shopping tour…


     “Just promise you stay in bed this time, Jo…” Virgie sighed as soon as she had drugged him up with everything possible and settled him safely under the covers. She caressed his hot face worriedly. “I’ll call Dr. Wittmann in the morning to come over and take a look at you.”


    It wasn’t pneumonia, ‘only’ a bad case of bronchitis. And gladly, this time, Joseph kept his promise to stay in bed. Or maybe, he felt too lousy to do otherwise…

    On Christmas Eve, he was over the worst – less fever, less coughing and sneezing; only his voice was almost gone. Dr. Wittmann assured, he wasn’t very contagious anymore; so, there wouldn’t be a problem to invite some family and friends. And they all came to see the happy reunited pair in their house…

    Virginia’s daughter Camilla with her boyfriend Matthias were the first who arrived. Camilla kissed her mother on the cheeks, then politely greeted Joseph who looked pale but handsome in his dark-blue sweater and with a red scarf around his neck. She had known Joseph for eight years now. Then, she was a teenager, watching her mother’s new ‘boyfriend’ skeptically. She thought, he was way too young for her and looked more like he could be her own older brother. She had even tried to flirt with him, but he had seemed unaware or at least not interested at all. And now, she was one of his students at the University of Arts – which made the whole situation even more awkward for her.

    The next pair who arrived were Peter and Isaak – the tenor and the trumpet player – who had been living together for ten years already. Usually, they went to celebrate with their families at Christmas – one living in Heidelberg, the other in Stuttgart; but his year, they wanted to stay in Berlin.

    “How are you, Jo?” Peter asked concerned when he embraced his friend. “We were all worried about you on Tuesday…”

    Joseph chuckled, then coughed. “I was even worse on Wednesday.” His voice was not more than a hoarse whisper. “But now, it’s much better.”

    “You’re sure about that? You still look and sound quite sick… That voice… did you get laryngitis on top of it? …. You also feel really warm,” he added when he touched his cheek after the hug.

    Joseph shook his head, smiling reassuringly. “No, it’s just because of so much coughing,” he coughed hoarsely as if to prove it. “And don’t worry, my friend, it’s not that bad. I’m getting better and Virgie’s taking care of me.”

    Peter laughed. “Well, I’m sure about that!”

    And then there was Dante – Joseph’s little son. His mother Olivia had brought him over but didn’t stay herself. The five-year-old boy (well -  almost six as he didn’t stop explaining to everyone) was the sunshine of the evening. Christmas is so much better when children are around. Or at least – one child. He had those sparkling eyes when the little bell rang; announcing the heading out of presents; and he was so happy about his gifts. The boy with his dark curls and lively brown eyes was the most delighted at his new violin. He’d been learning the instrument for nearly two years; and his first violin – one for tiny children-hands – was getting too small for him. Instantly, he started to play on the new one and asked his daddy to help him attuning it.

    Instead of just doing it, Joseph sat down on the carpet next to Dante (who still sat where he had found his presents – right in front of the Christmas tree) and bowed a string of the instrument. “Listen,” he asked with his husky whisper-voice. “Is that an A?”

    Dante listened carefully, then shook his head.

    Joseph smiled before coughing into his shoulder. “Right… must it be lower or higher?”

    Dante closed his eyes, thinking for a moment. “Higher,” he said then.

    “You’re right again,” Joseph said pleased. “Look, you must turn the peg like this,” he showed, “very carefully. So… try again…”

    Dante bowed the string. “That’s an A!” he said confident and Joseph beamed with pride.

    “See, and now try the other strings…”

    The guests were talking to each other at the table. Some sent friendly gazes over to the boy and his father. Coming back from her kitchen tasks (the chicken was in the oven now), Virginia came over to Joseph and crouched down next to him. She felt his cheek and forehead; then whispered into his ear: “Want a paracetamol, darling? You feel quite warm again…”

    “Better an aspirin,” he whispered back, “have some headaches; and I tolerate them better.”

    Virgie nodded, looking worried. She kissed his temple, and shortly rubbed his shoulders. “Don’t speak so much. That whispering is not good for your voice,” She breathed into his ear before she stood up again to get the medicine for him. Joseph just nodded and smiled as an answer.


    After the dinner – baked chicken with rosemary-potatoes and salad – everyone prepared to play and sing some Christmas songs together. Joseph couldn’t sing of course, but he played the piano, accordion, guitar or lute; Camilla was playing her cello, Isaak his trumpet and Dante his new violin. So, they sang a lot of Christmas carols together; but nothing of the Christmas Oratorio as some of them were fed up with it by now. Their voices of contralto (Virgie), tenor (Peter), boy soprano (Dante), mezzosoprano (Camilla) and bass (Isaak) mixed in a lovely way.

    In the middle of ‘Adeste Fideles’, Joseph suddenly stopped playing, his body stiffened, his breath hitched, and he sneezed a forceful huRETSHUUU into the crook of his arm. He squinted his eyes as the sneeze hurt in his head and throat. “Sorry…” he whispered and sniffling rubbed his still chapped nose with the sleeve of his sweater.

    “Gesundheit!” they all chorused, then laughed heartily.

    Everyone felt like this evening might have been the wonderful first time of a new yearly tradition.


    Later, when all guests were gone, Joseph wanted to help Virginia cleaning the kitchen. She shook her head and took the plates he brought from his hands. “Thank you, Jo. But please do me a favor and go to bed now. You’re still very sick and need to rest.”

    Joseph sighed but nodded. “Okay,” he whispered, his voice completely ruined by now. “But don’t do so much yourself anymore, please. I can see you’re tired as well and the work doesn’t run away.”

    Virgie took his hand and kissed his cheek. “Don’t worry, I’ll follow you soon.” She whispered into his ear and winked.

    But it was after midnight when she finally went to bed herself.

    “How are you darling?” she asked lowly when she saw, he was awake. She laid down, snuggling near to his warm body.

    “Completely shattered and sick,” he admitted chuckling which led to a fit of rattling coughs again.

    “Awww, my poor darling,” Virginia coed, ran her fingers through his curls and touched his forehead tenderly. “Have you taken your temperature?” she asked worriedly as he felt quite hot again.

    He nodded, “When I went to bed. It was 38.6 (101.5).”

    “Still that high?” she sighed, caressing his cheek tenderly. “Do you need anything? Painkillers, a chest rub?”

    Joseph shook his head and drew her nearer to his body. “Only need you, sweetheart. How are you? You’ve done so much for everyone tonight…”

    Virginia laughed lowly and kissed his brow. “Very exhausted and endlessly tired to be honest. My feet and my back hurt. But it was worth it.” She yawned.

    “Awww, come here…” Joseph gently turned her around and started to massage her shoulders with his warm, skillful hands.

    “Oh my god, that’s so good…” Virginia moaned and closed her eyes with relish. “I’m a lucky woman.”

    “And I am a lucky man,” Joseph answered. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

    “Someone has to…” Chuckling, Virgie turned around and tenderly stroked a curl from Joseph’s hot forehead. “Because you’re so bad at it yourself, darling.”

    Joseph smiling kissed her lips, then snuggled into her warm embrace; and soon fell asleep.

    ~ THE END ~



    On a final note – a song (because that’s already tradition :lol: )

    “Merry Christmas allerseits” – a funny, Denglish Christmas song by Udo Jürgens († December 21st 2014)


    Merry Christmas allerseits.docx

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    Thank you so much @hedgehog !! This is wonderful. Such a lovely epilogue with their families coming together for Christmas. I loved Virgie scolding Joseph in the beginning. :razz: I don't mind sneezes not being spelled out all the time. (Though, the sneeze at the piano was pretty cute. ^_^) Thank you again for such treat. :D

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    You are welcome, dear SCW! :hug: I'm glad you liked the story. :)

    19 hours ago, Sanguine Cheerful Worrier said:

    I loved Virgie scolding Joseph in the beginning. :razz: 

    She had every right to do so! :lol:

    19 hours ago, Sanguine Cheerful Worrier said:

    Though, the sneeze at the piano was pretty cute. ^_^

    He's hard to resist, right? :wub: 

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    • 2 months later...

    Ok... how I missed this, I will NEVER know, but OMG- just so much goodness!!  Seriously- so very many things that I adore so much.  Musicians, shivering, embarrassment, strong characters and plot, banter, cute sneezes, caretaking (of just the right type), and sneeze whilst playing piano- that made me die! :boom:


    Thank you SOOOO much for writing this.  I know that it isn't *my* SS fic, but I'll pretend. ;)

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    Awwww, @tma, THANK YOU! Your feedback makes me so happy. I'm glad you have enjoyed my story. You've been one of the first writers whose stories I loved on this forum. Your appreciation means so much for me. :blush: Thank you thousand times! :heart:



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    This is so beautiful. Your style of writing is just.....:jawdrop:This will definitely be one of those stories that I revisit again and again!

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