Disclaimer: I own nothing.
C'est le cœur serré que je vous dis aujourd'hui qu'il faut cesser le combat...
A chorus of gasps fill the ruined chapel.
Behind her, an elderly woman begins to wail.
She glances around and sees a shared look of loss written on everyone's faces like a part of them, their last fire of hope has been finally extinguished.
On the radio above the altar, Marshall Pétain's voice continues to flow out, asking his fellow countrymen to put faith in the country, and yet she hears none of it, as the truth comes crashing down on her.
France has fallen, leaving its people in the mercy of their enemies.
She feels a hand grasps hers and it is then that she realized she must be trembling. Beside her, Elena gives her a reassuring squeeze but her reddened eyes and tear-streaked face tells her otherwise. Caroline smiles at her in return and a moment later, the brunette leans her head on her shoulder and she can tell by the dampness of her sleeve that her sister is crying again.
Her eyes closes as she breathes heavily, willing her tears to subside. More than anything, Caroline wants to cry too. But she is strong. She needs to be. For her younger sister, so delicate and fragile. For her father and brother who, somewhere out there, are still fighting a war that's already lost. For her family, her home.
And instead, she let her eyes roam about, seeking for these strangers, these intruders who invaded their land.
No, she will not cry in front of them. She will not give them that satisfaction.
He drags a finger on the dust-covered wall, leaving a long clean trail of his digit on its surface, and for a moment, he imagines himself back in Berlin, sketching the Spree beneath the trees of Unter den Linden.
Suddenly, the crackling of a radio snaps him back to reality, making his head ache. His hands shoot up, massaging his temples as he contemplates on catching up on some sleep but finds himself cursing inwardly as he remembers refusing Elijah's insistence of learning French. Now, he barely understands a word of it and this broadcast is nothing but a dull persistent noise in his ears.
Although, he can gather, from how each one of them are holding their breaths, that it's all bad news.
After their troops have successfully driven the Tommies out to Dunkirk a few weeks ago, his unit occupied this place to guard the Northern border. It is a very rural town outside Lille, without a single piece of ammunition at hand and with only one radio to share for the whole community. Its locals, composed mainly of women and children as most of the men were shipped out to war, and are disadvantaged with their lack resources, hadn't had the chance to flee. And now, with their country's surrender, their hope of rescue has entirely vanished.
Klaus lets his eyes wander among the crowd, examining the common look of despair on their faces, and thinks all is lost... until he sees her.
He has seen her before, this girl. Picking in the cotton fields among the other women. Although he remembers her more on how she usually stays behind, doing the man's work of gathering the heavier baskets. She is a strong girl, indeed, and perhaps a very stubborn one. She doesn't seem to be afraid of them soldiers and always carries herself around them with an air of unyielding defiance, which sooner or later, he thinks, will definitely get her into trouble.
Until now in this somber gathering, he can see how she is trying to remain calm and composed, her golden hair and fair skin seeming to make her a bright presence amid this dusty and dimly-lit chapel. But it is really her blue eyes, that show her strength, her light.
It takes a while for him to realize that the same eyes he is admiring is now looking at his blue ones directly. Intensely. So unflinchingly that it makes his insides twist. And in the end, it is him who breaks the contact, ripping his eyes away from her yet he knows that it is of no use. Her image is already burned permanently inside his head.
No, she takes it back. She's not strong. Not at all.
And it is at night when she breaks down, crying at the stables like she always did as a kid. Only one of their horses remain, all others have been utilized for the battle.
If anything though, she is still nothing but a kid. She is barely eighteen years of age but is forced to grow up quickly when her mother died and when the war broke out. But what is the point, really? Of living?
They're all going to die. She knows this well as she witnessed some of her friends, some of the people she used to know perish before her very eyes. They're all going to be killed too, only they know not when. In simple terms, they are currently being held hostage. They are in a some sort of pretentious tranquility with their captors but truly, all of this just a maddening wait for their deaths. Perhaps, they get a sick sense of satisfaction of prolonging their agony, of seeing their spirit gradually deteriorate.
Suddenly, a rustle from behind startles her. She turns quickly and sees a sandy haired soldier coming into view. She remembers him from earlier. The soldier with the bluest of eyes, staring at her as though he was staring into her soul. He scares her, really.
"Was tun Sie da?" The soldier asks her, his eyebrows crumpled.
She doesn't understand a word he said and immediately, she panics. She has heard of rumors of how these despicable creatures attempted to defile some of the women in their town. Promptly, she grabs a wooden brush nearby and points it at him.
"Don't come closer." She tells him but still, he takes a step forward. She thinks, perhaps, that the soldier cannot understand her either.
"I'm serious." She threatens, waving the brush in her hand. "I maybe a woman but my aim is good."
And the soldier has the nerve to look amused. "Ich will sie nicht verletzen." He says to her with a dimpled grin.
Why is he smiling? Is he making fun of her? She isn't sure of what to do until she notices he has extended his hand toward hers, like in a gesture of a handshake.
"Klaus." He says, his other hand pointing at his chest.
He is telling her his name, she realizes in horror and for a while, she considers making a run for it. But something about his smile so warm and eager keeps her rooted to the ground and, well, what the hell... She throws the brush she's holding aside and wraps his hand in hers.
"Caroline." She murmurs.
After that, she ends up crying again, hugging her knees beside her horse. And he lets her be, listening to her sobs as he leans on the wall outside . He takes a drag on his cigarette and gazes at the starry sky until his eyes fall heavy as the very elusive sleep finally comes to him.
At day, they are strangers.
At night, they are strangers still.
They don't talk. And they don't try to.
But in a silence, the two of them agree to share this little piece of quiet.
Although, Klaus finds out after the initial awkwardness of each other's presence faded away, that she is one awfully noisy girl. She's not crying anymore but instead, spends most of the time riding her horse around the small clearing, giggling all the way like a little child that at times, he begins to question as to why he even bothers with her.
They are not friends, that's certain. And really, there are a handful of other women there who are constantly throwing themselves at them just to get at their good graces. A handful of other women more loose. More willing. Only that compared to her, all those women seemed too dull to even catch a slight of his fancy.
In frustration, he even considers taking her by force. God knows how many times he had thought of that. But he can't. Somehow, he just can't and it irritates the hell out of him.
He believes then that it's because she reminds him too much of his sister. A similar blonde spitfire, she is just as full of light as Rebekah. Maybe the two of them could even be friends someday, if such a world would allow it.
But yes, above all else, this girl is his enemy. They are enemies, they should be. But if he were to speak honestly, he doesn't really give a damn about all that rubbish at the moment. For now, he is contented lounging beneath the stars and letting her musical laughter lull him to a much-needed sleep.
"Je te souhaite des beaux rêves." He then hears her say.
There it is. Aside from the occasional curious glances, they never hold any form of conversation yet every night, every single time before she leaves, she will come up to him and tell him this. He doesn't understand a word of it but hell, to him, it sounds like the most beautiful sentence on Earth.
She doesn't know what to make of it, really
At first, it surprised her, of course. Him coming in and invading her personal retreat. It's quite presumptuous of him to think she even wants to be friends with someone like him. But then she finds that perhaps he doesn't really want friendship. He doesn't seem to want anything from her at all. He never dares to talk to her but instead, prefers to lie on the grass in his gray uniform, forearm covering his eyes like he just wants to shut everything out and sleep. He doesn't look to be over twenty-five but being at war, being soldier seems to be draining him of his life and she respects him, really, if he needs to have a moment of quiet for himself. Hell, she even wishes him sweet dreams every night.
Every now and then though, he turns up with a notebook in his hand, finds a comfortable spot under a tree and draws. Draws! To her it's just difficult to believe as she has never really seen any of these soldiers past their rifles. What could he be possibly be drawing? In this dark times, what could possibly be worth portraying? A memory of home perhaps?
She wonders of then of places he had been and maybe, she will never be. She has never been to anywhere, really, and now she finds herself wishing they share the same language so that she could listen to all the things he could say.
Yet, all of it can wait. Truth be told, she just likes being around him. She thinks she just misses her father and brother but really, there is something calming and securing of being in the presence of a man. Well, not any man though. She still despises these soldiers and considers them vile and uncivil. But towards him, only him... Maybe she can make an exception.
After racking his brain all day, trying to recall her wordings, he has finally been able to relay the exact sentence to his bunkmate and ask him to translate.
In return, Stefan only laughs.
"Just tell me, dammit." Klaus glares and jokingly throws him the cloth he's using to shine his boots.
His friend's chuckles grow louder but his eyes remains glued on the book he's reading. Really, sometimes it's just easy to forget Stefan is a soldier. Intellectual, moral and good-natured, what's a man like him doing in this place?
"Are you having sweet dreams at all, Niklaus?" Stefan then questions him in a teasing voice.
He only stares back at him, confused. His dreams are anything but sweet.
"Well, you should be." Stefan says to him, a warm grin on his face as he exits the room. "The girl's wishing you it every night."
And then he is gone. Klaus is left by himself, pondering about what his friend meant and when it finally hits him, he could think of nothing else but seeing her.
Just imagine his frustration though, when she doesn't show up that night. As well as in cotton fields the next morning. He cannot find her anywhere at all until a commotion near the chapel catches his attention. There's a man and two women being made to face the wall, their hands tied behind their backs. Around them, a crowd has gathered, all scared and confused.
An execution, he thinks grimly. It has finally started.
And it is by then when he hears her.
It isn't his place to meddle really, much less to defend a mere French girl. But the bastard dared to touch her. Touch. her.
Klaus himself cannot even look her in the eye for more than a second but this lowlife had the nerve to hold, no... to forcefully grab her hand. That alone sent him reeling in anger but the moment he hears her pained whimper, he finds himself shielding her, seizing her hand to himself.
"What are you doing, Mikaelson?" The soldier tells him. "We caught a few rebels trying to escape last night but some of them got away. I think she's one of them."
Klaus feels her try to tug her hand, as if wanting to run away, but he holds her firmly, keeping her in place. In front of him, the soldier is eyeing him suspiciously, waiting for his response.
"This girl's with me last night." He says without thinking. It's not true, of course, but he doesn't care.
The soldier's face then twist into a knowing smile and Klaus can tell immediately that he's thinking something indecent. He wants to punch him really, but he calms himself down until the soldier walks away and until the gunshots have been fired. Her cold, shaking hand is still in his and he rubs his thumb soothingly against her skin until she calms down too.
In silence, the crowd starts to disperse after a long painful moment. Her wary eyes meet his briefly and as he lets her go, he feels her hold on to his hand tightly for a while longer. It's not longer than a second though but long enough to feel the tightness in his heart as well.
She's afraid. And for the first time in a while, she admits to herself that she is.
Her mind drifts back to her friends, Lydia, Margot and Emile, shivering as she thinks that she, too, should be dead by now.
Elena has been telling her of these clandestine meetings. They have allies, she tells her. There are people who are secretly helping them escape to the free zone. Some had already managed to flee South last week, and that night was their turn.
Caroline refused though. She didn't know why. Maybe she wasn't ready yet, to leave home.
"But this is not home." Elena tells her in tears. "Not anymore, Care."
And for the whole night, she holds her younger sister in her arms and lets her words sink in. She realizes now, gazing at the ruined cotton fields, that perhaps Elena is right. The whole town is already devastated. The food rations are becoming dangerously lower. And the killings...
It doesn't help too that she hasn't seen him for days. He could be in trouble and she knows it would be her all her fault. He helped her. No, he saved her when he didn't have to. When he shouldn't have to. And now, she cannot help but to be worried for him.
But really, should she even bother? Perhaps this is it. Her sign to let go. To leave. Perhaps this... affection she feels for him is truly just her desperation. This irrational faith she has in her, thinking that there is still hope among their enemies.
Maybe it's time to that give up then, she thinks.
Yet it is then when his drawings come.
On the stables.
On her door.
And they are all of her.
"Je te souhaite des beaux rêves." She always tell him before their night ends. I wish you sweet dreams.
He never says anything back but now, he is answering her in every one of his sketches.
"Je rêve de toi."
I will dream of you.
For the past three days, he had to put a bullet in the heads of thirteen people. Three of them used to be his comrades, before they were suspected as traitors.
It's times like these that the reality of war weighs down heavily on someone's heart and conscience. He didn't want this, really. He just wanted to get away from his father and joining the army seemed like the perfect excuse.
Well, look at what that got him.
It's times like these, too, that just finds it hard to face her. To look her straight in the eye and not think of her as an enemy. Not think of himself as the enemy.
Sometimes, he just wishes he could hide her away in his heart and not let her be hurt by the world. But how could he protect her, if he's too much of a coward?
He was supposed to be getting Stefan but the mere sight of her sister—her sister—talking to him is enough to send him retreating. He knows she, too, might be somewhere nearby and he doesn't want to risk seeing her.
And for some reason though, he finds himself inside the chapel or what remains of it, sitting on a corner and smoking his cigarette.
He hasn't even finished his second stick when he feels someone kneel behind him. He stiffens, knowing at once that it's her. She isn't looking at him though, her head bowed on her clasped hands. And she's praying, he thinks, in a rushed French he doesn't understand. He closes his eyes, listening to the sound of her voice but then, she leans closer and whispers something against his ear in an unmistakable German.
"Ich liebe dich."
He opens his eyes but when he turns around, she is gone.
They felt like splinters, puncturing her heart and making her all restless.
Yet now that she finally let it out, let her feelings be known, she feels good. Light. Perfect.
She hadn't plan it, really. When she saw him walk into the chapel, she immediately rushed after him without another thought. That was the first time she saw him in days... and it might be the last.
But she doesn't want to think of it anymore. She said it all at last and now, she can let it go.
Everything will be over soon, she thinks. If she means the feelings or the war, she doesn't really know.
She then closes her eyes, inhaling the fresh night air and thinking of the long journey ahead, but when she opens them again, her eyes are met by the vast blue sky.
"Caroline." She hears him murmur and it is then that she realizes she has been staring in his eyes.
"Klaus, I—" She starts to say, feeling his hot breath on her skin and thinking she doesn't want to let go. He cups her face gently in his hands and breathes something close to her lips that makes her heart swell again heavily.
"Je' taime." He whispers in perfect French before capturing her lips with his.
That morning after, he woke up without her in his arms. She was gone and for the ten years that had passed for him, never a day goes by without him thinking of her. Did they make it to the South? Is she alive and well? Where is she now?
It is her memory that has been his refuge from those dark days in Moscow until now, as he sits comfortably in his new home in Berlin. It had been three months since he has been released from the camps and shipped back to Germany. Rebekah had died, he found out, as well as his parents during an air raid five years ago. There is still no word about Kol and Elijah whom, last time he heard, had been detained in a camp in Great Britain.
He sighs heavily, though as he examines the letter on his hands, he notices the trembling. Half a decade of labor in the POW camp had weakened his hand immensely, he cannot even draw anymore. Oh such evil he experienced from those who wanted nothing but revenge. Yet perhaps, he thinks, this is his punishment.
Shaking his head bitterly, he turns to the letter Stefan sent him. Stefan. The decorated war hero. He laughs inwardly, remembering how much the whole army then scavenged among them to find the traitor when all along, it was the good-ol' Salvatore helping the French flee. Indeed, he had saved countless of lives. He had also saved her life, too.
Suddenly he finds himself tearing the envelope open, a piece of paper falling out onto the table, written on it is an address in the United States. Confused, he picked up the paper with his hands, only that it isn't just a paper. It is a photograph. Of her. Smiling as brightly as he remembers her. Beside her is boy, barely an adolescent, wearing the warmest dimpled grin. For some reason, his eyes begin welling as he notices something written on the corner of a photograph.
We are dreaming of you.
He hardly understands English but damn, it sounds like the most beautiful sentence on Earth.
Some translations (all thanks to babylon translate | no thanks to my meager knowledge of french and german so please be kind to me huhu | if you have corrections please let me know):
C'est le cœur serré que je vous dis aujourd'hui qu'il faut cesser le combat - It is with a breaking heart that I tell you today that we must stop fighting. (From the radio broadcast of Marshall Philippe Pétain, June 17, 1940)
Tommies - German slang referring to British soldiers
Was tun Sie da? - What are you doing there?
Ich will sie nicht verletzen. - I will not hurt you.
Ich liebe dich / Je' taime - I love you. (Of course you already know that)
A/N: I'm sorry for my WWII history. I tried to keep it as faithful to reality as possible but alas, who says what is real and what is not? Kidding.
Anyway, I would just like to acknowledge that that scene there where Caroline squeezed Klaus' hand before he lets go of her is inspired by that Winston/Julia scene from 1984 by George Orwell.
Thank you very much for reading. :)
My tumblr: hypertunnelvision . tumblr .com