Author: Zalia Chimera
Notes: Set during the occupation of France during WW2. The title 'Lysander' is a reference to the planes used by agents of the British government to land in occupied territory. The planes required only crude runways and flew at low altitude to avoid detection by radar.
Summary: A bar after curfew, three German soldiers, an unexpected encounter and perhaps the renewal of France's hope.
It is long after curfew but France knows that the owner of the winery is too scared to close until the three German officers leave of their own volition. He sits in the shadows of one corner of the bar, sipping wine that had been watered down to the point that it is barely drinkable, though he knows that what the officers are drinking is straight from the bottle and full bodied. He rather hopes that it is a terrible vintage although he doubts that the uncouth men will even notice.
The sound of their raucous laughter drifts towards him along with the scent of tobacco, and France finds himself longing suddenly for his own Gauloises, and reaches for the silver cigarette case and lighter which are not there. Germany does his job well in keeping him without luxuries and France will not suck that man's cock just for cigarettes and good wine.
The owner refills France's glass wordlessly and France knows that he is wondering why he has not yet kicked the strange blond man out into the night despite the late hour. France is not sure himself why he stays except that it is one of the few defiances that he himself can get away with. He is not naive enough to believe that it is kindness that prompts Germany to allow him to wander. No, it is the cruelest sadism to permit him to walk his cities and villages, to see the swastika flying on the Arc du Triomphe, to see enemy soldiers patrolling his streets, demanding things of his citizens. He allows it to ensure that France is reminded again and again that he is defeated, that he is owned by Germany. While his people fight and starve, he is reduced to petty acts of vandalism and stubborn resistance, eavesdropping on conversations for information that England will probably already have heard. It is quite pitiful.
Perhaps that is why he is waiting, watching these men so intently as they play cards; the opportunity for bloody revenge, even if these three are likely just pawns. They were still invaders in his land and their presence made him sick. It had been a long time since he had last killed someone with his bare hands but he itched for blood now.
The youngest of the officers has dirty blond hair, the kind that can never be tamed, and he is far too young to hold his rank unless privilege gave it to him. France is sure that his eyes will be sky blue and he thinks that he will rip them out before he kills the officer, and deliver them to Germany, a keepsake of his Aryan child. He watches as the blond office nurses his drink and wins another hand of cards, taking the small pile of winnings. France wonders if the other two men have realised that he is not matching them drink for drink. He wonders if they know that they are being fleeced, or if they are too scared of whatever influence the boy has to say anything.
It is only when they move to leave that they notice France, the two drunken men leering at him, not realising, or perhaps not caring, that he is male. Delight in showing dominance over another is rarely restricted by gender. One of them approaches, says something lewd in crude French that makes France want to grimace at the butchery of his language. He replies in the most cultured of Parisian. "I am not a whore, although I do know a place."
That is apparently not enough for the man, who grabs France's upper arm, tugs him forward. "You'll entertain us," the man growls and something dangerous flashes in France's eyes for a moment as he lets himself be pulled against the man's chest, knowing that the closer he is, the better chance he has of ripping off some important part of his anatomy. He feigns nervousness but thinks about painting the floor red with their blood.
"Stop!" the blond snaps and his voice is far too used to command, far too old for his appearance. The two men stop, France's arm is released and he feels a flash of disappointment despite knowing that killing them here would be foolish. "We aren't consorting with French harlots." He speaks German with a Hanover accent and there's something about it that sounds archaic to his ears and familiar and makes France stare, meeting the blond's eyes for the first time.
They are bright bottle green, topped with the largest eyebrows that France has ever had the misfortune of seeing and he is looking right at France. There's that look in his eyes, the one that France has come to recognise as meaning that there will be blood spilled and god if it doesn't send a flush of heat right to his cock. "You should not be out after curfew," he says in broken French which France knows does not reflect his true skill. A magpie nation, that is what he is, taking whatever he wants of another and using it to brutal effect. "It is to be expected that people would think you a whore when you are out so late." He gives France such a look of scorn that for a moment he fears that this is no ruse, that England has turned, that he has become Germany's strong right hand, but the look in his eyes is more gentle and France can breathe again, amused and dismayed at his foolishness. England is no-one's right hand save his own.
They leave, the men leering as him before the door closes and all he can do is sit and stare until his senses take hold and he leaves, much to the relief of the bar owner, wrapping his greatcoat around himself like armour before he steps out into the street. There is no moon tonight, the streets black as ink, but France follows his instincts unerringly to the seediest area of the town where the brothels lie. It is not a grand city like Paris and the women who lie behind the closed doors are no courtesans trained to conversation and music and flirtation, but it is a grand place for a conquering soldier with a little money in his pocket.
It does not take long to find them, a dingy back lane and the scent of blood assaults France's nose immediately. One of the soldiers is already dead, blood pooling beneath his crumpled body. France gives the corpse a flat look before turning his attention to the two further back in the shadows. England has the other man pressed against the wall, switchblade glinting evilly against the man's throat. He growls something in harsh German and France smirks as the man trembles, replies with quivering voice, something about green eyed demons, before England cuts his throat with a smooth, practiced motion that makes France's mouth go dry with mingled dread and lust. He knows that expression, remembers it all too clearly from battlefield and revolution, has seen it turned upon himself, the ruthless killing instinct that had led England to become an empire.
England turns, and it is England that France is looking at, no veil of humanity to hide the rawness in his eyes, the tinge of madness that always lurks just beneath the gentlemanly veneer. His hand is spattered with blood, staining the sleeve of the hated uniform darker, and he stoops to wipe the switchblade against the uniform of one of the fallen men casually before sliding it into his belt. He gives France an unreadable look. "They tortured one of my girls," he says and there is no remorse in his voice. It is a statement, not an explanation because when has he ever felt the need to explain his actions to anyone? "She came here for me, for you and she knew that she could die but they tortured her and I can't let that go."
It is a rage that makes France wish that England had been at the armistice signing to show what an enemy Germany has made because an animal was always most dangerous when cornered and England is a most dangerous beast. It was rage for everyone one of his girls, for every lad who had died and would die and if he can't save them all, can't get revenge for them all, then what he can do will be for all of them. Maybe it will be for France too, in some small way. He would like to believe that conceit. Through centuries of enmity and uneasy peace, they have always been each other's.
"I hear your radio broadcasts," France murmurs as England's eyes gain humanity again, as he stoops to raid the bodies, divest them of weapons and money and anything of value. He does not need to ask what will be done with the trinkets. He knows of England's need, of the resistance that England supports, that France has been unable to make contact with. He is seen too often at Germany's side and he does not have his general to vouch for him. His country is divided; he would be shot by his own people and that would be more than he could bear.
"Good," England says, looking back up at him from his crouch on the floor as he slid one of the guns into his belt. "I need people to listen. I need to know that I have support, even if only in spirit."
"You intend to keep fighting," France said, not quite daring to believe it. It was ridiculous; the British Empire, even diminished, bowed to no-one, but in these times everything seemed so uncertain.
He grins, sharp and savage and proud and France can see steel in it, steel and swords and gunfire and it makes him remember long ago battles as well as those not so long ago. "Forever," England replies with dead certainty in his voice, the certainty that makes him do stupid, impossible things; a tiny island coming to dominate the globe. "I will fight forever." He fixes France with an intent look. "We will fight forever."
France's expression falters. "Ah, Angleterre…" he says, using that truest name of his despite the danger. "Forever is a long time, even for us." And despite his earlier violent hopes, he is tired. Germany saps his reserves and he had precious few of those even before this war had begun. His people are suffering, his economy funding that bastard's war until he feels sick to his stomach and so drained.
England closes the distance between them, takes France's bare hand between his two gloved ones and for a mad moment, France half expects him to go to his knees like France is his lord and England a knight of old, swearing undying fealty, but their relationship has never been one based on loyalty, not until recently, and France's boss turned down the union which would have brought them together in such a way. Even then, England's loyalty is a fierce thing. But England just holds his hand, scrutinising France's expression. For what, France is not sure and he will probably never know if he finds it, or if what he is looking for even exists.
"Come back with me," England says, his eyes dark with some torrent of emotions that France cannot give a name to, despite the centuries of familiarity. "Come to London."
It is a heady offer; to leave with England, to go to London which is not as great as Paris, is bombed and broken but is still free. He could be away from Germany's leash, at his general's side and… "I cannot." He repeats it more firmly this time. "I cannot leave my people. I will not leave them to endure while I flee." He smiles, a strained expression because he knows what awaits him if he remains.
"Stubborn fool," England mutters, and there is resignation in his eyes.
"High praise from the king of fools," France murmurs, daring to reach out and cup England's chin, thumb running lightly across lips which have always been entirely stubborn. "But Angleterre… Angleterre, you always knew that would be my answer." The tightening of his expression, the thinning of those lips only affirms his conclusion.
"I thought that you might have seen sense."
"You would do the same thing in my position," France replies, and it is true. It would take more than France believes that Germany has to make England leave while his islands suffered invasion. But England is feeling the strain as much as France perhaps, albeit in a different way; there is a drained look in his eyes and no matter how strong he is, how malevolently stubborn, the isolation must be wearing even on him.
He feels cold metal pressed against his palm, one of the purloined guns and France can only stare at it in his hand for a moment, cool and black and sometimes he would that he had never seen such a thing, such an exquisite killing tool. He can wield a sword, but any child can wield a gun to brutal effect. England closes France's fingers around it, holding them there firmly. "I expect you to be here when we retake Europe," he says, his tone leaving no room for argument. He leans up to press his lips to France's forehead, lingering there for a second that is far too short, before he pulls back, eyes narrowing. "Don't become Vichy," he says, sneer in his voice. "Don't you dare. If you do then I will kill you." Playful hyperbole for more he is sure, but France can see that England is deadly serious, the way his ridiculous brows knit together. There will be blood if he capitulates and England has always known his most painful weaknesses. France does not doubt that he will use them to brutal effect.
France trails his fingers over the skin warmed leather of England's gloves before pulling the gun to himself, cradling it in his hands, sliding it into the front of his coat like a lover's token. He remembers sending knives to England before one of their wars, and wonders idly if he keeps such tokens as close. The metal is a solid comforting weight against his heart. "I will not become that mockery of my republic," France spits, expression hardening and there is an answering hint of heat in England's expression at France's renewed vigour. People were slaughtered in bringing about his republic, and even if no-one is left who remembers it, he remembers blood on the streets, the high bright noise of the guillotine and the roar of the crowds. He remembers the pain which tore his heart in two. "I will resist," he says, new determination in his voice. "For as long as you fight, I will resist." And if anyone could fight forever, it would be England who never quite grew from the savage child that France had taken as his brother.
There is a flash of triumph in England's eyes, as though he believes that he has already won, despite standing alone in Europe. Perhaps his determination is infectious because France finds himself grinning. It does not quite match his smile of old, the seductive lilt or the savage, manic battle lust, but it is there and it will become strong and he hopes that Germany finds it worrying, that he starts watching over his shoulder, that he starts checking around corners. He wants to see biting paranoia in Germany's eyes, wants, more than anything, to be the one who puts it there.
Another time, another place and these darkly seductive thoughts would raise heat in him, make him bend England against the wall and fuck him until England screamed for him to stop, begged for him to continue, both at once and neither ever again. He just leans down to kiss England's cheeks, one, then the other, then a press of lips which is not quite chaste. "For a free England," he murmurs.
England smirks, kisses back. "Vive la France Libre." And his words are Calais accented and taste like the sea.