A/N: -author materialisation- You'd never believe what prevented me from updating any sooner. No, this time the goblins had nothing to do with it but I'll give you a few hints: polar bears, raft and memory stick. Damn the sea currents!
I am really, truly sorry for the delay! Some of the 'whenwhenwhen?' comments made my heart bleed in sympathy with you; I quite dislike cliffies too.
Chapter ten: Plan
; 31st of August, 1944, Buchenwald
The night had been cold. The inevitable arrival of autumn was not very far away at all and while there still were excruciatingly hot days, the nights were getting cooler and cooler. Soon enough the same would happen during daylight and the radiators would have to be turned on in our SS barracks. 'Perhaps they should have been turned on already,' I remember thinking as I had woken up hat morning with a stuffy nose and clammy skin. It was only 5 am as Blaise, Ritter and I made our way towards the cafeteria for some breakfast, when I noticed how quickly time had gone by. I had first arrived in Buchenwald in January and it was already the end of August.
; 5th of September, 1944, Buchenwald
Father was back. He had thrown Draco out of the house, and judging by the pale purple bruise on Barbara's cheek, he had not been happy to hear there had been a homosexual Jewish prisoner working in the house. I felt rotten, of course; I had been the one to request that Draco helped her, after all.
While I knew it was my fault that Barbara had been hurt, her well-being was not what I was particularly concerned about.
'Father, it was my idea that Barbara should get some more help. The girls had their hands full and a woman her age couldn't have done everything on her own,' I explained to my father as we both sat in the sitting room. He stood up from his armchair and poured himself a bit of whiskey in a glass, then placed the ornate bottle back on the table with a rather loud bang. I could tell he was still angry.
'You could have requested another guard's help. It was entirely unnecessary and outright irresponsible to risk your mother's safety like that.'
'You know what tight schedules and specific job descriptions we guards have,' I said, stretching the truth quite a bit but trusting my father to not know what the past few weeks had been like in the camp. 'Barbara did keep an eye on him all the time, checked on him every five or ten minutes. I would have been glad to help but there was no time; on top of my normal duties Doctor Vaernet required my assistance. Also, I've had the opportunity to… observe this particular prisoner. I knew he did not pose a great threat. And the other guards are just as busy as I have been , - this was the only option.'
My father's fierce gaze met mine. 'You have no idea what a prisoner's true nature is like, Harry. You do not know how their twisted minds works, and trusting them is the most idiotic thing you could possibly do. They are not like us they belong to a whole different species! Never, ever, trust a pest.' He sat down again. 'But yes, herr Vaernet. How is his work coming along?'
'I don't know. I only helped him to settle down and prepare for his experiments. I haven't had the chance to ask him about the nature of the actual experiments or their results.'
; 6th of September, 1944, Buchenwald
During the morning roll call I kept a close eye on the group of prisoners to which Draco belonged. Unfortunately, I had been appointed as a supervisor of a group of Hungarian prisoners of war, and it was impossible to swap positions with another guard without a very tangible reason. I thought I saw Draco's head among the crowd briefly, but then it was gone and I ushered the Hungarians off to work.
The day crept by very slowly. I kept wondering what Draco was made to do, and somehow it seemed oddly unreasonable that he should be in that position in the first place. It was fine by me that the Hungarians, the Soviets, and the rest were getting what they deserved, but Draco was different. He may have been a Jew and he may have been a homosexual, but he was not an ordinary prisoner. He was supposed to be in my protection and above the scum he had to sleep next to in his Block. It wasn't rare that a noticeable portion of the prisoners found dead in the morning were pink triangle prisoners; they were the lowest of the low, even in the inmates' hierarchy. My instinct told me to check his Block's prisoner list every morning but that would have been so suspicious that I had to push the idea from my mind. The not knowing was driving me absolutely crazy.
By the time work ended for the day I felt knackered. Workers were counted, both the living and the dead. I checked through my own list quickly and crossed the sandy expanse where the prisoners were gathered in neat rows in front of their supervisors.
"Michael!" I shouted as the dark-blond man finished going through his list of inmates. Earlier in the morning I had noticed that he was in charge of Block 16.
"Hey, Harry. What's up?" He said good-naturedly and put his pen in his chest pocket.
"Nothing much; it's been quite a tiring day today, hasn't it? How is your daughter? Isn't she around six months old now?"
Michael smiled, not looking tired at all. "Seven months tomorrow. Violet keeps sending me pictures of her and she seems to be growing up fast. My wife's introduced her to food other than milk now as well."
"Wonderful," I said, not really giving a damn about the baby's latest culinary developments. Trying to sound nonchalant, I asked, "Listen, may I have a look at your list of inmates?"
I knew it came out sounding a bit strange. Michael lifted his eye brow in question. I was too tired, too worried, and too fucking apathetic to care anymore.
"I'd just like to check something quickly, please." I hoped the other man wouldn't press the subject. I couldn't come up with any plausible excuses and only wanted to see Draco's name on the list, not below the heading 'ceased'.
"Alright," he said and passed me the clipboard. I avoided his gaze.
My eyes scanned through the list of names and finally spotted Draco's name at the bottom of the list of the living. Relieved, I handed Michael back his clip board. "Thank you."
; 11th of September, 1944, Buchenwald
I had been over a year since I had heard from Blaz last time, so it caught me completely by surprise when I received a letter from him later that day.
How are you doing these days? I heard of your new post as a guard in Buchenwald a few months ago and thought I'd write to you and ask what is going on in your life.
I know it's been a long time since our last correspondence, but I have been rather busy dealing with my grandmother's properties. She died two months ago and as you might remember, my father moved to Chile five years ago and I haven't heard from him since. This means, of course, that I have to take care of everything around here and keep an eye on mum and Belle. You have no idea how lucky you are, Harry… Little sisters can be quite a nuisance, especially if they insist on running off with their good-for-nothing boyfriends. If only she had been born a boy.
The strangest thing happened to me a few days ago, only a little before the issue with Belgium hit the news. I saw Louis (surely you must remember him; the piss-ugly bully from our old school) and it would seem like he's climbed up the social ladder quite dramatically. He's the junior head of security of Hamburg's unit, would you believe it! Him, who didn't have the brains to come up with a working plan back in his schooldays, ever! Louis probably still makes everybody else do his work for him. I was travelling through Hamburg and had some business with Louis's superior, so seeing Louis there was quite a surprise.
If you ever have business here in Dortmund, please let me know and we'll meet up. We've got quite a bit of catching up to do.
Take care, Harry
Blaz was probably the best friend I ever had. We were inseparable during our school years, but once everybody else started getting interested in girls and dating them, there was less time left for friends. Sure, we hung out as often as our girlfriends would allow us, but things weren't the same anymore. I felt angry when I saw Blaz walking hand in hand with whichever girl he was infatuated with at the time, and unreasonable jealousy used to bubble inside of me late into the night as I lay in my bed, glaring at the framed photo that stood on my night stand. The picture was of him and I holding a gigantic salmon we'd caught in Norway on a holiday trip, and I used to wonder if that day had been as unforgettable to him as it had been to me.
I sighed tiredly and slid the letter back into its envelope. Blaz and I had experienced so much together. He'd been the first person in my school to approach me and befriend me, and he had taken me on a tourist tour in Berlin, showed me around the town and told how things worked there. We'd been to Norway and France together with Blaz's parents (my mother and father didn't have the time to join us), and we used to cycle around the factory area close to his neighbourhood when there was nothing else to do. It was quite an adventure because there was a vicious Schaeffer dog guarding the factory, and whenever it caught us trespassing we had to literally flee for our lives.
Those were fond memories. Blaz and I had many of that kind, but quite a few daunting incidents stained the perfection of my childhood… In 1938, on that fateful night I had killed for the first time in defence of Blaz. I can still remember those unfocused, unseeing dark eyes of the Jewish boy who couldn't have been much older than I was at the time.
Well. He was Jewish. He would have ended up dying anyway.
; 13th of September, 1944, Buchenwald
I was leafing though our camp's official list of prisoners, updating it by marking the ceased and those who had been transferred elsewhere. It was a tedious task, but someone had to do it. To be honest, I didn't mind it all that much since it was pouring again; Jerry and Blaise had voiced their envy because they had a shift outdoors that evening.
Fat water droplets were bombarding the roof and the window in front of the desk I was working on. Water ran down the glass surface in rivulets that spilled onto the sill, the criss-cross pattern shifting constantly. I poured some more tea into the cup next to the pile of finished prisoner lists, and added a small spoonful of sugar into the mix. My mother preferred her tea with milk and no sugar, and my father only drank coffee, black.
As I sat there, listening to the patter of the rain I once again wondered where Draco was. I knew it was an obsessive thing to do, and immediately I chastised myself for being such a girl, but I couldn't expel the man from my thoughts. He might have been outside, working on water trenches or something else, cold and close to catching pneumonia. If only he wasn't a prisoner… If only I'd met him outside, elsewhere, not now. I knew his days were going to be brought to an end soon; he had survived far too long for a homosexual.
"Nuwyr, Raoul… Makzovsky, Alexei… Makzovsky, Elsi… Mafkov, Ivan…"
Then I saw his name on the list along with his prisoner number, 1496302.
"Who are you?"
"1496302. I'm 1496302."
Suddenly an idea struck me, and my heart skipped a beat in shock. Adrenaline rushed in my body and the tips of my fingers tingled a little bit as I struggled clumsily to find another pile of papers. I pushed folders and documents aside, not even noticing how some fell to the floor, and then, I found it.
Flipping through the pages quickly, I browsed through the numerically arranged list of prisoners. There it was, '1496302'. Before that were '1496301' and '1496300', as logic would have it. The prisoner who'd got their number right before Draco was called 'Claus Almen', and I checked his name on the list I was updating. 'Ceased', it read right next to his name. Also 1496300 was the number of a dead inmate, as well as 1496299 and 1496298. 1496303 was a woman, Polish, judging by the name, and she was registered as a prisoner of war.
"What if –" I muttered to myself, moving forwards on the list until I reached '1496802'. Mathias Zorn, a criminal. I turned to the list of the living and the dead. The name wasn't paired up with 'ceased'.
; 14th of September, 1944, Buchenwald
The man was kneeling on the ground, blood trickling down the side of his face and into his left eye, probably painting his vision red.
"I'm sorry." And I was. I truly was, for the first time since the brown-eyed Jewish boy. "I have no other alternative."
He looked up from the ground, trembling all over. His wide eyes shone brightly in the moon's light. They were too bright; they were a coward's eyes, and I swallowed the lump that had risen in my throat. This man was a criminal. He had murdered his wife and an 8-year-old German girl in their own beds. Before Buchenwald he had served 4 years in a prison. He deserved to die, I told myself.
"You're a murderer," I said to him. "You strangled your wife and your own daughter to death, did you not?"
"She wasn't even mine! My wife lied to me all those years, and the girl wasn't even my flesh and blood! I have paid for my crime ten-fold!" To me it sounded like a confession. A reason.
"Take off your shirt," I ordered him.
"Did you not hear me? Take it off!"
He struggled to free himself of the shirt as quickly as possible, not breaking our eye contact for a second.
"Leave it there on the ground." He wrapped arms around his chest, trying to cover himself. "Stand up and face that wall."
Taking a step back, he screamed, "No! Please, don't kill me, I'm not –"
"Shut up! Face the wall."
"I promise to make it quick. If you do not obey me, I can assure you that later on you will wish you had listened to me."
Sobbing, he took a step towards the brick wall of the crematorium. "Oh, Lord, help me!" He spoke to the skies, and I shoved him in the back.
"Shut it." The safety catch on my gun made a clicking sound. My hand was trembling as I took aim. The moment felt rather surreal, like I wasn't there, and this was happening elsewhere. "You are not dying in vain, I can tell you. Do you have any final wishes?"
"I- I suppose letting me go is not an option?"
The question could have been amusing but for some reason it wasn't. "No, not really."
He laid his forehead against the wall and I imagined he squeezed his eyes shut. "Tell me, why are you doing this?"
I took a deep breath. I thought the man should, too, seeing as his remaining breaths could be counted with two hands' fingers. 'Ten breaths,' I thought to myself. 'I'll allow his ten more breaths and then…' "To save another life." I watched the rise and fall of the shoulders, the expansion of his rib cage at every rushed inhale.
"Our Father in Heaven -"
"- hallowed be your name."
"Your kingdom come."
"Your will be done –"
"- on earth as in Heaven."
"Give us today our daily bread."
"Forgive us our sins–"
"- as we forgive those who sin against us."
"Save us from the time of trial –"
"- and deliver us from evil." (1)
I pulled the trigger. My heart gave a jolt in my chest. In fright or relief? I didn't know.
A/N: Don't worry if you don't see Harry's plan yet; my beta didn't either, so if everything's a bit hazy you'll just have to wait til the next chapter! I've actually written quite a bit of it already :)
Alright, folks, 'review' is the key word here! I was VERY happy with the feedback I got from you last time so please let me know what you think of the story so far.
(1) Don't maim me if you think the prayer was written 'wrong' because A) There are so many versions of it and this is what Google offered me B) I only know it in my own first language (not English). Also, even though my religious beliefs bear 0 significanse, I do not believe in god(s) of any kind. I'm not trying to brainwash anyone here, or gross people our with gore.