I held my presentation on the third day before the evening lectures. At dinner I was aproached at the salad buffet by a girl from another institute.
“Great presentation! I love your style!”
“Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that. I was wondering if it would be taken as unprofessional to build in a joke or two.”
“No, it was great! Added some life to the show! Oh, I gotta go. See you!”
And she vanished into the crowd again.
This was my first meeting with Snow White. I’ve seen her before, first of all sitting at the same table as the Witcher back at that social event. As I learned during the following months, they had been to school together. She has shoulder long, curly fair hair and is always exceptionally well dressed – which in turn encouraged me to always wear a dress when attending meetings at the capital as well, because no matter how boring the usual dresscode, there is always going to be the two of us. We resemble each other in many ways and now, two and a half years later, she is one of my closest friends and only confidant.
On this evening, the last one of the conference, the Witcher deliberately took a seat next to me. I talked to him about our common interests all evening. The head of our institute treated us to some wine and since I hardly ever drink alcohol i was feeling rather dizzy after a short while. At 11 pm the table was empty except for the Witcher, my roommate and me. He refused to drink alcohol and I started a staring contest over it, which ended with me headbutting him because I was about to lose. Yes, I was already quite drunk at that time. Before going to bed I suggested that we should meet the following morning before the beginning of the lectures to go to the spa area. I gave him my number and told him to call me because I would be likely to oversleep. Then we went to our rooms. For the first time since my teenage years I had to hang on to the bedside table in order to keep my world from spinning wildly.
He called me at 6 am, when I was already ready to go to the pool. I knew I wouldn’t oversleep, but that’s how I got his number. It had been snowing for days, so we were silently watching the winter landscape outside while sitting in the comfortably warm whirlpool. I was so tired I constantly had to fight sleep. After a while my roommate left us to go have a shower.
“Are you in the capital a lot?”
“Mmmhm? Oh, well, sometimes, for meetings at the institute or transport or when there is an experiment I can only run at the main department. About once every few weeks.”
“When you are there next time, would you like to meet for coffee?”
“I don’t drink coffee. Only tea.”
“Well, then that’s another thing we have in common.”
We joined our final hours of lecture which were interesting but also hopelessly behind schedule, because all the speakers were overrunning their time limit. I was in great hurry when I came back to my room, packed some last items and was about to leave when the Witcher knocked on our door.
“My professor came by car and he can take you to the train station. You might still make it.”
I grabbed my little suitcase and ran along the corridor, my hair which I wore open on special occasions back then wafting behind me and the Witcher close on my heels. I found said professor and he agreed to give me two minutes to check out of the hotel and then give me a lift. I turned to the Witcher.
“Well, that’s it then. Thank you so much for arranging this for me! I’ll hopefully see you again soon.”
Then I hugged him. I could sense how surprised he was, but he immediately returned the hug. The next second I was gone, hurrying to the reception desk. I didn’t look back.
In the train I realized I had brought myself into trouble. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking of him. When the train arrived in my hometown three hours later it wasn’t any better. I couldn’t grasp a single thought that didn’t spin around the memory of him. I was picked up by the Knight, who is not a jealous person at all, but jokingly said: “Will you stop talking about him already? You make me worried. Do I have to crush his kneecaps?”