Stephanie Lang knew that, really, she could pass for German most of the time. Her father was from Chemnitz, and had gone to the US to study abroad, fallen in love with her mother, and stayed there. Her mother’s family was some sort of WASPy mix; no one really knew of what. And because Stephanie’s father was from Germany, he’d insisted upon raising her bilingual.
So, okay, maybe studying abroad in Germany was cheating , a little, but, hey, FU Berlin was one of her school’s partner universities, and she figured she’d rather study in Germany than somewhere where everyone already spoke English.
Stephanie was, however, pleasantly surprised to find that she wasn’t the only foreigner in her Italian class. The first day of classes, she found a desk next to a friendly-looking blond boy. Perhaps it was American of her, but she smiled and introduced herself. “I’m Stephanie Lang,” she said in flawless German.
The boy smiled. “Adrien. Adrien Agreste.”
She furrowed her brows and the boy (Adrien) looked a bit uncomfortable. “So you’re not German, either?”
He shook his head. “French. And you?”
“American,” she said. “Glad it’s not immediately obvious. My dad’s German, though, like actually really German. He’s from Chemnitz.”
Adrien nodded. “I think… everyone in my family’s been from France.”
“I mean, I only feel the need to clarify because a lot of Americans will say they’re French or German or whatever when it was like their great-great-great-whatever-grandparents who came over like a hundred years ago.”
“I’ve heard of that,” Adrien said, “But I can’t say I’ve ever encountered it myself.”
“If you ever go to an American university, you will. Like ‘oh, you’re French? I’m French!’ and as soon as you start like, speaking French or talking about current events or something, they’ll say ‘oh no no no, I mean, like, I’m five-eighths French on my mother’s side!’”
Adrien laughed. “Does that happen often?”
“My best friend at home is Irish, like, from Ireland. In Philadelphia.” But then she realised he probably didn’t know anything about Philadelphia. “There are a lot of people of Irish descent in Philadelphia. And he gets people constantly like, ‘oh, I’m Irish, too’... when their family’s been in America for like a hundred years.”
“I couldn’t imagine.”
“America’s an interesting place. I’m glad to be here, now.”
“I’ve been to New York before,” Adrien supplied, “but I never really got a chance to explore American culture.”
“I wouldn’t recommend New York, then. Most of the places people go are just for tourists, and the only locals you’ll meet just work there.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He smiled. “So what do you study?”
Stephanie grinned. “I’m like, pre-law, so I do political science and women’s studies.”
“So… why Italian?”
“Why not?” Stephanie asked.
“I guess I can’t argue with that.”
Over the next month, Stephanie had gotten pretty friendly with Adrien. He was nice, and it was always good practise to talk to people from various other countries. One day, before class, she was on Facebook when he came in and sat down next to her.
“Hey,” he said.
“Do you have a Facebook?” she asked.
Adrien hesitated. “Uh, yeah. What’s yours? I’ll send you a friend request.”
“It’s just Stephanie Lang. P-H, not F,” she added.
Her name was, unfortunately, pretty common, so Adrien held the phone out to her with the Facebook search open. She found her profile and sent herself a friend request from his phone. “Done. I’ll approve it now.”
She turned back to her own phone.
Adri Pascal sent you a friend request
She looked back at him. “Adri Pascal?”
“I don’t like using my real name on Facebook,” he said as if that were totally normal. And, sure, Stephanie knew a number of Germans who refused to use their real names on Facebook, but they rarely used fake names. It was usually some variation of their real name. She’d tried it once, with the username Steffi La, but eventually she realised there was no point in making it harder for her new friends and classmates to find.
“Where’d you get Pascal, though?” she asked.
“It’s my mom’s maiden name,” he said with a shrug.
Well, she supposed, that made sense. “Okay,” she said.
And that was the end of that.
When she got back to her dorm, though, she opened her laptop and scrolled through Adrien’s Facebook account. What? Facebook stalking wasn’t really stalking , besides, she sat next to him twice a week.
She discovered that he had a very small number of friends, and no pictures of himself. Well, that was strange.
On a whim she googled his name.
Adrien Agreste .
Holy fucking shit.
Adrien Agreste is a French model. His father, Gabriel Agreste, is head of the Gabriel fashion house. Although Adrien got his start as a teen modelling for his father, he has since modelled for other brands, as well, although not for competing fashion houses. Adrien has stated in interviews that he speaks French, English, Mandarin, German, and Italian. He currently studies physics in university.
He was a model ?
Stephanie searched Adrien Agreste photoshoot and switched to google images.
That was definitely the same boy. She thought back to when they’d first met; he’d looked uncomfortable after telling her his name, and this was probably why.
She knew she could use this for something , but she decided against it. He was perfectly nice, and if she ever decided to learn French, it could help being on good terms with at least one native speaker.
She clicked through a few more photos before closing the tab. There was no reason to let him know she’d ever looked.
During their next Italian class, she did her best not to lead on that she had any idea that the boy sitting next to her was a male model and heir to an apparently prestigious fashion house. Besides, it wasn’t like Stephanie knew the first thing about haute couture. She knew how to dress nicely, and she knew how to match clothes, and for her, that was, really, enough.
“So, Adrien,” she said, in Italian, this time, because class had started, and Stephanie wasn’t a terrible student.
“I was thinking about going to Paris over break. Is there anywhere you’d recommend?”
“I think if I tell you now, Segnora Müller will know we’re not discussing the homework.” He smiled. “I’ll send some recommendations to you after class.”
“Thanks,” Stephanie said. She turned to her book. “So did you understand this? I’m beginning to think I’m hopeless at romance languages.”
Adrien laughed. “We’re in a B1-level class, Stephanie. That’d be impossible if you were hopeless.”
Stephanie huffed, and Adrien started explaining the homework to her. It really wasn’t fair, she thought, for a male model and heir to a Parisian fashion house to be so smart and kind. She thought he probably had a lot of girls who were at least half in love with him, and was grateful, not for the first time, that she was a lesbian.