"Ah, mademoiselle. Bonsoir!"
Shosanna peeked up from her current spot at the restaurant table to eye her guest. He was early, very early. Irritatingly early.
"Bonsoir, Fredrick." She muttered, resisting the urge to wince as an eager smile made its way across the war hero's face.
"How are you this evening, Emmanuelle?" Fredrick offered, "Not too much trouble finding the place, I trust?"
Shosanna looked him over. He was dressed neatly in an olive-green dress uniform, as per the usual, along with his hair, which was swept into its characteristic wave. Apparently, even the occasion of dining with the young French cinema owner to discuss various details of the upcoming premiere was not any matter of unimportance for him.
"Non, non. No trouble at all." She closed the book in her hands and placed it next to an arrangement of flowers on the table.
"Good, good. I know you refused to have any of our men escort you here," Fredrick paused for a moment, laughing lightly. "I don't blame you, and if I had to guess, I'd say no one knows the Paris streets as well as you do, Mademoiselle Mimieux. Very interesting choice of restaurant might I add. You know, I read that this place has the best French onion soup..."
She pursed her lips, taking note that Fredrick had yet to sit down. Despite his genuine smile, he seemed unusually uncomfortable. He stood straighter than normal, and his hands, often held in front of him, were now clasped behind his back.
"I can hope that things are running smoothly at Le Gamaar as well, yes?" Fredrick asked, leaning forward slightly.
Shosanna responded with a curt nod, "Oui."
"Good to hear." He beamed.
In the stiff silence that followed, Fredrick shifted his weight from foot to foot, and let his arms fall limply to his sides. She could imagine him earlier that night, rocking back and forth on his heels in front of a hotel mirror, wringing his hands and fretting over each detail of his appearance. It was as if he had to ensure every aspect of him radiated purpose, not that it made any difference to Shosanna. As long as he wore the uniform, there would be nothing to remove him from the remainder of the Nazi ranks.
Looking down to his hands now, Shosanna couldn`t help but notice that along with his side cap, the soldier held what appeared to be a thin green flower stem, discreetly poised between his thumb and forefinger.
"Oh!" he started, "This, ahem, if you don't mind, is for you, Emmanuelle." Fredrick then presented the confused theater proprietor with a simple, burgundy rose.
Shosanna felt her mouth open slightly, and eyebrows knit together in a mixture surprise and suspicion, "I didn`t know you wer-"
"You weren't supposed to." He admitted, suddenly shy. Giving his dress shoes a hard stare, Fredrick continued, "I just know my sisters will have my head if they hear I took a lovely girl to dinner and didn't even bother her with flowers!" He said with a nervous laugh.
She looked from the rose in Fredrick's outstretched hand to his face, the corners of his mouth perked upward in an irritating grin. If Shosanna didn't know better, she'd probably have thought the rose to be a sweet gesture, and accepted it without hesitation. But she did know better, and she also knew that this was Fredrick Zoller, German war hero and film star whose motives and desires she couldn't be sure of. Shosanna waited for him to grow impatient with her, to falter, but he did not.
After releasing a defeated sigh, she cautiously plucked the rose from between his fingers, the tip of her index finger lightly brushing against his thumb as she did so. Fredrick's smile grew and his hands situated themselves once again in front of him. Shosanna gently placed the rose beside her book on the table, wanting nothing more than for it to be out of sight.
"Well, tonight's dinner should prove to be fairly uneventful." He announced, finally moving to take a seat across from her. "Merely a few routine specifics to go over, and I'm assuming Landa already spoke with you about a number of them."
Her jaw tightened, "Oui. He did."
"Superb." Fredrick said. After placing his side cap on the table, he glanced around for a moment, surveying the restaurant.
"Has anyone come to the table yet?" he asked, "To take our orders, I mean."
"Non, not yet." Shosanna responded.
"Well," Fredrick said, standing up. "I'll go see about getting us a waiter, then." He gave her a slight smile before shuffling around the table and moving into the rest of the restaurant.
Turning to the side, Shosanna watched as Fredrick disappeared behind her. Once he was out of sight, she turned her attention to the rose still on the table in front of her. She took the flower between her fingers, nearly scoffing at the ridiculousness of Fredrick's gesture. Though, despite his irritating persistence, Shosanna had to admit she admired his sincerity.
She turned the rose over in her fingers and considered the surrounding tables. A number of diners were watching her, muttering under their breath about something apparently important and Shosanna realized she probably should`ve expected as much. The sheer loneliness of being surrounded by people, all of which who were talking about her, yet not feeling she could speak to any of them crept upon her. She nearly took comfort in the fact that Fredrick would be back momentarily, bringing with him what would probably be a swarm of fans and their presumably flustered waiter.
Shosanna twirled the rose between her fingers again, studying it. It appeared to be just like any other flower of its kind, an alarming bright red in color and soft to the touch. She indulged in gently pressing the rose to her lips and drew in its scent (cologne and stale air from the inside of Fredrick's hotel room). She briefly wondered if all the German war hero's objects of affection were prone to such generosity. Realizing it didn`t matter, that he didn`t matter, Shosanna quickly removed the rose from her lips and returned it to its spot on the table.
She moved in her chair now to face the restaurant behind her. Just as she had expected, Fredrick was returning, aforementioned waiter in tow.
"Hello again, Mademoiselle." He smiled, skirting around their table to take a seat, "With a bit of luck, I finally was able to track down Gerard here," he gestured to the approaching waiter, "so we can begin dinner at last."
Shosanna acknowledged this with a stiff nod. She figured she should at least try to enjoy the rest of the evening, if possible.
"Now," Fredrick smirked crookedly at her, "how about that soup?"