Disclaimer: I don't own this show or its characters. I'm merely trying to make sense of it.
Note: This is a very rambly fic, which comes from the fact that I really have to reconcile myself with the fact that I actually like the Baron as a character. It seems impossible that it happened, but I do. The story really is just me trying to make sense of it.
Thanks: To ShadowSamurai83 for the beta
He is not prone to doubting himself, he'd like to make this absolutely clear, right from the beginning. Men in his position, in his profession, do not doubt themselves. Doubt is something that might constitute as treason, especially in his times, and he is not a traitor.
Yet he finds himself...contemplating. Taking stock of himself, he's willing to go that far.
He is a man in his prime, they might say, senior enough in years to know what he can do and what he wants. He is a husband, far away from his wife, a father, who has encouraged his sons to join this war...and a soldier.
He is a very effective and successful soldier - an important part of the most successful army of his time - and he says that without pride or gloat. He is merely stating a fact. His army is the strongest and most successful of his time, may Mr. Churchill deny the fact as much as he likes. They've conquered half of continental Europe, what's there to deny?
He's a soldier and a patriot, proud of the uniform, no matter what the political direction. As a soldier he's trained to follow orders - or give them - not to question political aspirations of his superiors. Aside from that, it was never of interest to him.
Seeing how these men on the island still cling to politics he feels wholly justified in his opinion. They bicker and quarrel over menial things, details over a government when they no longer really govern anything on St. Gregory. He is the one who does. And he does it well.
A fair, but strict rule, that's how he sees it. It demands being harsh at times, to set an example, remind people of how the situation is. This island is now occupied by the Wehrmacht and they'd do better to adapt.
Adapting seems to be a foreign word to these people, he has come to learn. They value something they call independence and freedom, or their romantic notion of it, far more than reality and sense. They don't really want to belong to England, but are angry with Mr. Churchill for not protecting them. Their irritation at that is really laughable.
The men Whitehall had stationed on this island couldn't have held out in battle for more than a few hours, being overrun by battle-hardened landsers. That's a fact that those whining politicians tend to ignore.
The women on this island have much more backbone than that. They adapt or they defy, or do both. It is quite a bit of an irritation to the proceedings, but he has to admire their courage. Hers, mostly.
She's fiery, defiant to her last breath, possibly, but at the same time there is a softness to her that gets under his skin. Every time they meet.
He's told her that his son is dead. Not his closest officers. Her.
She was understanding, soothing the pain, if only for a moment. He can't - won't forget that.
She's a wife, just like he's a husband. She's a mother, just like he's a father. She fears for her son, just like he does for his.
She'd go to hell and back, do anything - even die - to save her son. He lost his mere days before. Maybe that's why he refused her brazen offer.
He is a gentleman, educated and trained on principles and honour, both in his country and hers. A gentleman doesn't take advantage of a woman in distress like her.
He refused her offer of sex, but diverted from the set rules to save her son. He didn't execute him as martial law demands for being a spy, but sent the young man to a POW-camp, his father right along with him. Both could die, and he ignores the niggling feeling if he doesn't actually want one to do so. Not necessarily the son.
Maybe he has refused her offer because it was the right thing to do. Maybe he refused because he wants her to offer herself and not a sacrifice. He's not that desperate for a woman, but maybe he's beginning to become desperate for her.
He's an honourable married man, so he pushes the thought aside.
Still, there are months ahead of them, where she's alone with him in this house and the situation is...delicate. The gossip will spring up within days, people seeing that she doesn't wear mourning clothes, doesn't throw herself over the cliffs or kills him with a kitchen knife. From this, the islanders will construe that the civil or possibly amicable terms they are on are merely a public cover for the torrid affair they lead. He is, after all, the German commandant, who sent her husband and her son to a prison camp. To get rid of the competition, they will say.
Maybe they are right. He's an honourable man, but it could matter little where she's concerned. And maybe, it does.
He likes to rattle her, as she rattles him, and yet, there are times when he feels like she is the only sensible person on this island, the only one he can talk to.
Having that young man executed - she was livid about it, pained. To him it was a matter of strict government. Spies, when caught, will be questioned and shot in any country, during any war. Executing this young man he merely did his job. Yet her pained snipes got to him too, pushed him to sit alone in this room getting drunk, while his officers partied. It led him to allowing her husband to deck him.
It led him to letting his guard down. With her. And with her son.
He liked her son, who seemed like the son they'd both lost. That's what he told her when the truth came out. He still likes the boy, still thinks of him as a son, capable even to replace Manfred, his own who was killed.
He wanted to protect her son. Wants her to understand, to see his side. Wants her to see what is right, yet it is she who seems to hold the rightness in this world. His arguments are nothing, done away with in the face of her demands - sympathy, empathy, humanity.
He has all that, is not a monster, not one of those mindless partypigs, who sprout the Fhrer's sayings like they are gospel, who don't see culture and ability in their enemies, who don't have respect for anything that doesn't come directly from that parvenu in Berlin.
At times she seems to acknowledge, even believe it. At others, she seems hell-bent on ignoring that there is a difference, that he is that difference.
Earlier he told her that he is sickened by the death of young men - his son, hers maybe, Eugene LaSalle, thousands of others who are dying today, this week. It wasn't just a spur of the moment thing to say, he had wanted to speak this line to her for hours, days. It has begun to form since the news of Manfred's death reached him.
Manfred was barely twenty years old - lively, enthusiastic, eager to serve and to fly. They'd thought to have raised him well, able to resist the lure of party politics, only focussed on serving his country. Now, he is dead. And as this war is going on and will go on until they've won, more young men will die. Many more.
And he has only one son left. More reserved, more thoughtful, even more bound by duty to his country than his younger brother was. So, he joined the Luftwaffe, flying now to serve his country.
He doesn't want to lose his other son. And he doesn't want to lose her son.
With all the young men dying, he's become disillusioned. Already. Or again.
The trenches at Verdun didn't leave such a mark, but then, he didn't have to lose anything but his life. Now, however...
Doubt is considered treason, and he isn't a man who questions himself. In a war one has to make split-second decisions, so what he thinks is right one moment must be the right thing then. He makes the right decisions, based on skill, thought and honour.
He is an honourable man - a husband, a father and a soldier.
But he spends too much time thinking what she will think. He doesn't think half as much about his wife, who has probably by now received the news that their son is dead. He's tried to save her son, but didn't do the same for his own.
He's sent a spy to prison instead of executing him. Lets the islanders get away for defiance and sabotage, hasn't pushed his soldiers for more successful air raids on British mainland.
He doesn't finish the thought, instead gets up from the sofa he's been sitting on in the falling dusk. It's dark now, the garden awaking to its nightly concert.
He can smell the smoke of her cigarette, before he even steps on the path.
Thank you for reading. Comments would be greatly appreciated.