A Toast To Being Alive

Who: Amie, Genevieve, Henrik
What: Two conversations, one evening.
When: April, 1941

Arras
Coordinates : 15 2

A fine example of a French town, despite the signs of modern warfare with several buildings completely ruined by German bombs. One area of this block is almost completely wiped out, the one closest to the Town Hall, that building somehow miraculously still standing though the left side is in ruins. Other areas are completely untouched and makes a stark contrast to the ruins.

It is currently dusk.

With the afternoon heat fading into the cool of evening, the last few hours before curfew are being put to good use by a few locals who have been set to work clearing rubble from the buildings ruined long ago by german bombs. One of these is Henrik, acting as something of a foreman for the effort, which presently appears to be wrapping up for the day. The swede leans on his shovel, and looks about with a frown.

And coming to visit, with her usual basket hooked over her arm and dressed in a navy blue dress with tiny white polka-dots on it, her hair tied up in a simple bun with a striking red hat on her head, is Amie. A red shawl is held around her shoulders, keeping the cooling evening air off of her arms and back. The faint sound of her heels hitting the pavement give advance warning of her approach.

"That's it for today," Henrik mutters to the others, instructing curtly, "Stack the shovels in the corner and get the last wheelbarrow load out of here. Be back tomorrow." Letting out a deep breath, the frowning foreigner turns his blue regard toward the approaching Amie, recognizing the baker's daughter, and raising his harshly accented voice to call, "Mademoiselle," to gain the woman's attention.

"Monsieur," Amie answers politely as she draws up short just a short way from the men who are disbanding. "Do not run too quickly, monsieurs. I have brought a snack for those who are working so hard to do their part for our homes." She pulls back the little checked cloth covering the basket, revealing the fresh-baked buns, smelling as if they are still warm.

Henrik grunts wordlessly once, as several of the local frenchmen drafted into the work detail perk up at Amie's words. Curtly, Henrik voices to the men, "Take one with you, but get the goddamn rubble out of here before you start eating! Don't want to come get any of you out of jail tomorrow," the swede grouses, knowing full well they'll just start eating once out of his sight. C'est la vie. Gathering up the half dozen shovels and pick-axes, he approaches Amie, with the gruff query, "Have one for me, mademoiselle?"

Inclining her head, Amie smiles up at Henrik lightly. "Mais oui, Monsieur. I could not forget the foreman." Looking down, she reaches into the basket to pull out a bun from the front corner of the basket, and offers it to the man, waiting for him to catch it. "I am sorry I could not bring any butter or honey for them. It does improve the taste of fresh bread, but…with the rationing…"

Henrik shrugs his thick shoulders once, at the apology. "Its fresh. No dirt baked into it. No mold. I won't complain," he notes flatly, accepting the offered loaf. Going a step further than simply 'not complaining', he mutters a rough, "Merci."

"Mon plaisir," Amie answers, holding the basket out and to the side so the other men may take a bun and be on their way. She's surprisingly patient, given just how far across town she has to get to return to the bakery.

Henrik draws out a stained kerchief from one pocket, to wrap the small loaf of bread, before tucking it away for later, as he re-settles the tools on his shoulder, asking Amie, "Not going to be standing around long are you, mademoiselle? Curfew, soon."

Tilting her head back to look up at the sky, Amie considers for a brief moment before shaking her head. "No, of course not, Monsieur. But I could not let the hard work go unrewarded, in what little way I could, now could I?" she points out with a faint smirk before looking down the street at a group of German's gathering on the corner, looking in the direction of those frenchmen now disbanding. "Sooner than later, I think."

Henrik nods once, muttering, "Good. Need to put these tools back under key, then can see you back, if you want." The words are spoken plainly, without warmth, but the offer is still made, as he starts toward the gathering of germans.

Amie opens her mouth to answer Henrik, but only gets out the start before he walks away. "But then you would miss curf…" She trails off to falls ilent as Henrik starts towards the Germans.

The exchange is a short one as Henrik approaches and speaks briefly with the cluster of soldiers. One of them unlocks a small shed not far off the main street, and after depositing the tools inside, Henrik re-emerges, as the german soldier with the keys locks the shed once again. The big man's narrow blue eyes regard the street briefly to see if Amie is still there.

Amie is, indeed, still there, a little closer than before but an easy fifteen feet or so away from the gathering of German's. Holding her now nearly empty basket closer, she works to carefully cover the extra buns from the German's view. S he's already been made to give them away before…

Henrik notes the waiting Amie, and turns his steps to meet her. While he may not know precisely where, the general direction of the bakery run by Amie's family is known, and it is that direction he begins. "Should have plenty of time before curfew," he mutters aside, holding further words until a good distance seperates them from the germans.

Silently thankful those few extra buns weren't taken, Amie turns to fall into step next to Henrik. She waits until they're out of earshot from the German's. "You did good work today, Monsieur."

Henrik mutters under his breath in return, "Useful. If I'd stood across the street from town hall all day, counting when the guards change shifts, they'd lock me up. But doing it while moving rocks, and the fascists pay me." A snort. "Good trade, I think."

Amie snickers softly, genuinely amused by that particular arrangement. "At least someone is getting paid for their labour. Only last night, I had one of the Hun doctors demanding I give him bun on credit else he'd rive my father into the street."

"Could be worse," Henrik returns simply. He adds a moment later, "Need you to pass on word to that idiot Charles Chevalier. Whether in a roll, or by mouth is for you to decide, but I dont want to risk talking myself. Can you do that?"

"What else have I been doing for months now?" Amie wonders with a gentle smile as she tilts her head up sidelong to allow a brief glance at the man next to her. "I have not seen him in some time."

Henrik snorts dryly once, under his breath as she wonders aloud with a grin. "Fair enough. Just tell him, however you like, that I have what he needed. It will be hidden in the church, under the second bench from the front. Repeat it back?"

Amie rolls her eyes at the request to repeat it back. "I am no more a six year old now than I was the first time you met me, Henrik," the young woman points out dryly as she huffs a soft sigh. "Henrik has what you needed. It will be hidden in the church, under the second bench from the front."

Henrik reminds her dryly, "The first time I met you, you ran off scared that I was a fascist." Taking a sidelong look at the girl, he gives a short snort of humor, before noting, "Still," he notes with a nod, "Just need to be careful. You know that."

"You wanted me to run off scared that you were a fascist." Amie spots back dryly, reaching over to nudge the man at her side with her elbow. "I know that more than anyone, Henrik."

"Beside the point," Henrik mutters back deadpan to Amie's dry words. A curt nod to her last words and nudge, with the rumbled comment of, "Good."

"You're not the one carrying messages around on your arm that could be found if a Hun took the wrong bloody bun." They're getting closer, slowly, to the bakery, as the light of the day continues to wane. "Not that I mind," Amie is quick to add, softly. "I just…their sense of damned entitlement!"

Henrik nods curtly, once. "I know," is muttered to her latter complaint. Eyeing the bakery ahead, he notes simply, "One step at a time."

Amie presses her lips together, nodding gently as she looks towards the bakery. "It is not me I worry about. It's them." she admits a moment later. "Papa has no idea what I do…but I do not believe the facists would believe that."

"Probably not," Henrik assents to the guess. He is silent a moment, having little comfort to offer the girl. As the two near the bakery's door, his steps stop. "Good evening, mademoiselle. Again, thank you for the breads."

Amie inclines her head, stopping for a brief moment before she reaches a hand out to lightly lay it against Henrik's forearm, and only for the briefest of moments. "Thank you, Henrik, for everything you're doing." That said, the girl turns, and starts the rest of the short way to the bakery.


A short walk later…


Major road
Coordinates : 15 10

The road winds through farmland, towns and villages. Cars and horses have to get along, but the latter are getting more and more rare as technology advances. The quality is rather good for the most part, though wear and tear at some places makes it a bumpy ride.

It is currently dusk.

Once again, as evening darkens the sky, and curfew looms near, Henrik's steps bear the big man out of Arras and toward the sprawling estate that lies to the north. The Spring evening is warmer than those of past months, as bootfalls bear him up to the front door, sounding the familiar three, heavy knocks on the wooden portal.

Genevieve is only a few moments before she steps up to the door and opens it, a slight smile crossing her lips. The war has, seemingly, treated her well. New clothes, stockings… jewelry. Or more, dating Wolff, especially since his promotion, has treated her well. She smiles as she sees who it is…"Henrik, I didn't expect you.. please, come in. YOu here for the wine, I take it?" she asks with a small, discordant laugh as she leads the way into the estate. She long ago stopped wearing her wedding ring

"Unless you have other guests," the foreigner rumbles in return, noting the details of Genevieve's appearance. He steps through the door after the woman turns and walks deeper into the house, the front door closing solidly behind him.

Genevieve shakes her head quietly. The D'Artois estate is very much her's now, under the German perview and with her husband gone a year. She nods for him to take a seat…"Relax, Wolff is working tonight so I don't think we'll be disturbed." She smiles smoothly, that Stepford wife smile she has perfected over the months. "Red or white tonight?"

Henrik states with a gruff snicker, "Hell, stop that. Thats the face you put on for the fascists. Goddamn wrong." He shakes his head, reflecting a lack of preference to her question. "Whatever you'd miss less. Not going to drink very much," as he settles into the invited chair, with a released breath. This house certainly has fine chairs.

Genevieve pulls out a bottle of white, a it's open and chilling and won't last another day or two if they don't finish it. Two glasses are scooped up with her other hand and she slips into the front room, her smile now slightly gone. "Better than grousing all the time like someone else I know." She smirks pointedly in his direction.

"Hrm," Henrik grunts in wry rebuttal. "You want to see something really goddamn wrong, then I'll put on a smile. Might give you bad dreams," he comments with a short snort. "Besides, grousing is what I'm good at." Looking toward the woman again as she re-enters, he asks evenly, "Doing alright?"

Genevieve pours out the bottle of wine, giving both of them a little more than a glass. She scoops up the glass and takes a good sip before settling into the couch, crossing her legs. She even wears flawless nylons. Wolff must make good money. She shrugs at his question, "You get used to it. Long as someone in town doesn't get the idea in their head that i'd be worth more dead than alive, I think I'll be fine. You?

"I'd be the only one in town who'd know how to kill you, so yeah, you should be fine," Henrik returns with a shake of his head. Eyes catch quick note of the well kept nylons on Genevieve's crossed legs, before turning again to the drink he draws a measure of. "Been quiet a long time. Fascists should be getting lazy by now. Radios havn't been caught. Doing good- just.. need to make sure the first move is a valuable one- Might not get a second."

Genevieve shakes her head quietly, a frown touching her lips, "Yes, they are relaxing a bit. Wolff… he's getting quite respected these days. Miracle, really, he's no smarter than he was a year ago. What sort of information do you need? I haven't poke the sleeping bear for a while now… I could probably get something out of him now."

Henrik considers a moment before shaking his head. "Don't need much. Probably best to ask nothing, so he suspects nothing, after. You've gotten me most of what I need already. Just a matter of choosing the time and place, now." Another short drink drawn, before he asks, "Did I ever tell you where the guns are hidden, Genevieve?"

Genevieve shakes her head quietly, looking down into her wine glass for a few moments. "…Part of me almost wishes he'd find out… it… it'd just mean it was over, at least. But no… if you need something, ask for it. If he's never suspected anything yet, he never will. Too blinded and dull." She mutters, most of that wifely smile now gone from her lips in a cold bitterness. Yes… She's travelled the same path he once did.

"Broken clock is still right twice a day," Henrik mutters, paraphrasing one of the only french proverbs he'd learned. "Even a dull man can catch on if you slip. Which is why I need to tell you about the guns. A small machine gun, a rifle and a pistol are buried with a few petrol bombs in the woods south and west of here- north of the western edge of Arras. If the fascists get lucky and catch me some day, someone needs to know they are there."

Genevieve blinks slightly as she hears that and she nods in understanding, her lips pressed into a thoughtful line, "we will have to take a walk on a nice day sometime… so you can show me near the spot, maybe? BUt I should be able to find them. Thank you…But, it won't matter. YOu are NOT going to get caught."

"I'm better than they are," Henrik states frankly. "But all it takes is one slip up. One guard walking where he isnt supposed to be, who gets off a lucky shot." He shrugs once, unconcerned with the weighty- and very familiar subject. "I'm prepared for death. Come close to it a hundred times. Some day it will catch me. All anyone can do is stay one step ahead."

Genevieve sighs, shaking her head and drowning the thoughts with a good, deep gulp of her wine…"But, if you NEED informaton, you know to ask me. Why else am I doing this? If I don't get something out of them on occasion.. well, then it really -will- drive me to madness." Gene confesses quietly, her voice a touch more fierce than he's heard from her in a logn while. She's ready for action.

Henrik nods once. "I will," the gruff once-soldier replies, meeting her stare with the words. "When its important, I'll come to you. You know that. When it matters most, you'll be ready. I know that. Fire's not dead yet."

Genevieve nods quietly, relaxing back on the couch and breathing just a bit deeper, "I do count on it. Look forward to you… being in touch. Otherwise, you know where I am… hope to see you at the cafe a bit more."

Henrik eyes Genevieve evenly as he nods once to her words. "Yeah. I know," he returns deliberately. "Was planning on staying til morning. Unless that last bit was you asking me to leave?"

Genevieve shakes her head immediately, "No! No… you were the one saying you weren't going to drink much. Dammit, if you're staying, we are properly drinking! End of story. Though we'll move to red wine now. It's better."

Henrik half snorts once, a deadpan upward curl to his lip at the response. "Fine. Red it is." He leans back into his own seat. "Was trying not to get drunk, but forget it. No real work to be done tomorrow. Just moving more rocks."

Genevieve rolls her eyes, standing up and disappearing off into the kitchen as she shakes her head. "How else could we all get through this whole mess if we didn't get drunk? It keep us sane." She admits quietly as she returns with a bottle of red and a cork screw.

"Made it out of Spain without getting drunk," Henrik recalls flatly. He adds with a snicker a moment later, "Hrm. But that was because the goddamn Commissar was the only one with enough drink to get drunk on. But maybe you're right." A deeply drawn breath, "Has it been a year yet, since the fascists invaded? If it has, then there's something to drink to- a year later, and we're still alive."

Genevieve nods in affirmation, "A year almost exactly." She pours them both out glasses of wine which are improperly full in the worst of ways. She lofts hers then, giving him a half smile…"To being alive… while the country dissolves around our ears."

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