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Chapter 1 : Prologue
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The city of Caen sleeps peacefully. A few strands of smoke begin to rise over the rooftops, rapidly dissipated by the fluttering September wind. The streets are threaded bare of people, who have fled to the safety of their homes.
It is not safe, anymore, to aimlessly wander the streets.
Camille is perfectly aware of this fact, yet here she stands, at the intersection between the rue Ledoux and the rue Hardouin Mansard. Her brown hair is tamed by a green beret that matches her gloves, and an elegant felt coat completes her outfit. She loathes the heels she has been forced to wear – they are not practical when one needs to run.
Running, however, should not be necessary today.
As her target approaches, she straightens and plasters a smile on her face.
"Bitte sehr, Fraulëin," the soldier calls out as he sees her. He is approximately her age, twenty-two, perhaps younger, but this is a detail. There is no time for sentimentality.
Camille fingers her wand in her pocket, and whispers the words she has practiced so many times before.
It is not the first time she kills, nor will it be the last. Guilt stabs at her every time, but this is what she signed up for, what she must do for her country, her friends, her family. No one ever said fighting a war was easy.
Jean sits at his desk, nervously clenching and unclenching his fists around a silver pen, one he received for his graduation. The blinds are drawn, all lights are off, and the street is completely quiet.
Yesterday, the paper he has been dreading has arrived. He is required to leave the city of Caen for that of Munich, and to go and work in one of the Reich's armament industries.
His suitcase is packed, yes, but he will not be going to Germany.
"Don't be ridiculous, Jean," Camille had chided when he'd mentioned the fact he had to flee to keep his mother safe. "You're going into hiding, not running away." And when he'd stared at his childhood best friend blankly, she'd huffed, "My apartment has the best protection spells there are. Besides, it'll be easier for us to be the brains of the operation together if I don't have to Apparate over half of Caen to see you. You're moving in with me, you'll just have to deal with Astrid being around during the day."
Astrid glances at her watch nervously, her long, pale, perfect fingers tightened around a cup of ersatz coffee.
"Stop worrying," Apolline murmurs soothingly, tugging strands of white-blond hair into an elaborate braid out of her sister's face. "It's going to be fine, he promised."
"I don't trust him, Apo, and I don't trust you on this one because you're refusing to give me his name. You're joining the resistance, not going for a picnic."
"He goes by Prometheus to you, and that's all you need to know."
"Prometheus, who betrayed the gods' trust multiple times, and that's meant to reassure me?"
"Prometheus betrayed the gods for the sake of mankind."
"Still not helping."
"Oh mon Dieu," Apolline sighs in exasperation, "stop behaving like a four year old! I don't have to be a coward just because you are!"
"This isn't about being a coward, this is about being careful! You have no idea what you're getting yourself into, no idea of the risks, and you're being careless because this all feels like a grand adventure where you'll get to be a hero!"
"I may have no idea," Apolline spits, "but I'll have one soon enough, whereas you never will."
Astrid visibly deflates at that. "You're leaving in two and a half minutes and all we've done so far is argue. My behaviour was out of line, I'm sorry."
"It's alright. Now stop worrying, okay? I promise you Prometheus knows what he's doing and I'll be able to tell you about it tomorrow when I come back. And when you're convinced, we'll see about getting you in too, yes?"
Astrid shrugs, unconvinced, but her sister is already leaning down to peck her on the cheek and before she can reciprocate, Apolline is gone with a pop.
Johanna walks into the café, the bells over the door tinkling as she enters. She knows the eyes of the men are following her as she makes her way to the counter, and she makes sure to properly swing her hips.
The café, she was assured, is her target's favourite. She winks at the bartender as she hoists herself onto one of the stools, making the poor boy blush.
"Still no coffee today?"
"No mademoiselle, sorry."
"Pity. Well, a glass of anything that doesn't taste like piss then."
"Your language, my love! Two glasses of wine, boy."
Aha, and there he is – Johanna is pretty sure he's been waiting for her to arrive so he could make a dramatic entrance.
"Richard, finally! And to think I had to go two full days without the pleasure of your company." She leans closer to him – his eyes flicker down, of course, they always do – and licks her lips, dropping her voice. "Fear not, darling, I imagined you more than once, late at night, alone in my bed. Unless you really want that wine, perhaps we might make up for lost time?"
His haste is laughable, really, Johanna thinks once he's face down on the bed, pants around his ankles, Stunned into unconsciousness. Sifting through his memories for information and creating false ones of earth-shattering sex should not be this easy, but then again Legilimency has always been easy to her.
Besides, it allows her to avoid actually sleeping with the invader, so who is she to complain?
Xavier mechanically runs his finger around the rim of his empty glass, his wand digging into his side as he leans forward. Tonight is like every other night: the café is empty, bar stocked as well as can be and Johanna's room on the first floor cleared of the latest imbecile who has fallen for her pin-up act.
He has to crack a smile at the memory of the smug smirk gracing the man's features when he exited the place – if only he knew none of what he recalls is real and that he is going to help the downfall of his own people, surely he would not be laughing. Xavier has been on the receiving end of Johanna's mind-reading abilities more than once, yet it doesn't stop him from admiring their results again and again.
Today, apparently, was especially enlightening, or so Johanna had said. She'll give him the details in a few hours, Xavier knows, as soon as Jean and Camille have been informed. Jean doesn't like not being the one to announce the news, but this is how it works now, how it's been working for the past couple of months.
Some days, the aftermath of the debrief is more difficult, especially if any information on the treatment of Jews has come up. Those days, when Jo turns up, she heads straight for Xavier's arms and cries into his shoulder about how much she misses Simon. It's one of the things that makes them friends: both of them, after all, have lost someone they loved (and neither of them will admit it, but in each case, it was their own fault).
Simon laps the last few drops of soup from his tin bowl. Soup, he scoffs quietly, normally consists of more than two slices of rutabaga chasing each other in lukewarm water. His mother used to make a wonderful soup, with carrots and cabbage and potatoes, with fresh cream stirred into it. She would call to dinner from the doorway, clanging a wooden spoon against a pot, the clear sound resounding around the courtyard.
His mother has disappeared, separated from him and his father as soon as the stepped off the train. Esther and Sarah, his sisters, went with her, a small comfort. Simon manages to glimpse them every once in a while, their beautiful black hair chopped off unevenly. They looked like barely hatched ducklings, floating in the blue overalls that were too large for them. Esther was carrying a bucket that repeatedly hit her in the calf; Sarah was carrying a set of stiff brushes.
The sight of his sisters – the babies he once took care of and sung to, the cheerful little girls skipping to school with their matching raids hanging down their backs, the young women they are starting to become – cleaning the latrines drives him mad, but there is nothing he can do.
He just nods curtly, or smiles weakly if there is no one watching, trying to tell them all will be all right.
This is a lie.
Father is dying of tuberculosis in the hospital block, which has of a hospital only the name. In truth, it is a place where death roams more freely than anywhere else, only more slowly. Other than proper doctors, hygiene and medication, it lacks humanity and compassion and Simon, who used to study to become a doctor, knows that if even those qualities are absent, then the chances of healing are terribly low.
His only hope is to get his wand back. Pushed by a sense of urgency, he dropped it on the path between the gates of the camp and the barracks, but it is only a question of time.
And once he finds it, he and all those he loves will be saved.
The setting sun bathes the small room in a soft yellow light. Camille leans against the window, watching the dark buildings that detach themselves against the pale background.
"You alright?" Johanna appears behind her, balancing a piece of toast and a cup of tea.
"Mmhm, fine. We've just got a lot to think of, with what you've told us from today. What about you, are you alright?" Johanna shrugs noncommittally and Camille narrows her eyes. "Jo. We've known each other since practically forever, I know when you're not okay. Is this because of the missions? Because I've already said you were taking on too many and you know we can send Astrid more often if you need."
"It's not about the missions, I just… Some of the things I see, flashes of reports and of conversations held in mess halls, about what they're doing to people who don't fit their criteria – I'm terrified Simon is going to make it, if he's even still alive. And –" she continues hurriedly before Camille can say anything "– I'm not asking we do anything about it, because we're fighting here and what we're doing is important, but I just wish there was a way we could know."
Camille takes a deep breath. "Jean is going to murder me for telling you this, but it doesn't matter. We're trying to work on that way to know, not just for Simon but in general. You absolutely cannot tell anyone and I can't give you the details, but we're working on it."
"I'm going to pretend I didn’t hear anything and not ask any questions," a voice chimes, and both girls' heads snap around to Astrid, standing in the doorway and looking extremely wary.
"Astrid, what are you doing here? It's not the usual day."
"I had a conversation with my sister."
"Ah, fuck," Camille hisses before she can think better of it. "She went ahead and joined, didn't she?"
"And called me a coward in the process, yes. I still don't have the name of her contact, she says he goes by Prometheus but refused to say anything else."
"I'll let Jean know, see if he's heard anything. Prometheus, really?"
"Better than Pythagoras," Johanna teases, laughing when her comment elicits a furious blush in Camille's cheeks. Astrid joins in the laughter: codename picking was the result of a nervous laughing fit after over two days with no sleep, and Pythagoras is certainly better than any of the other options they had come up with.
Their laughing stops abruptly when Jean Apparates stone-faced in the middle of the room, clutching a sheet paper between furiously trembling fingers.
"Jean? What is that?"
"That is a form signed by the mayor, to be put out in the coming days, stating that I am a dangerous criminal who is to be shot if seen, although bringing me back alive is alright too."
The girls exchange glances, before Johanna speaks up. "What are we going to do about it?"
"We're going to kill him before he kills me."
"Oh, Jean – when you say, the mayor, you do mean…"
"My uncle, yes. We're going to have to kill my uncle."
A/N: Hello, or hello again! It's been a while since I updated this story, given that last time was in november 2014. A fair amount of editing was necessary, so I'm going to start by doing that before adding new chapters. It may be a little confusing at first, given that I changed my mind about important things (the Ministry's role, which characters are alive and which ones aren't, etc.), and so the chapters aren't exactly coherent right now, but I hope to smooth that out pretty soon in order to continue writing this because heavens know I've missed it.
Special shoutout to Kiana for cheerleading and for loving this story more than I do sometimes. ♥
Please leave your thoughts?
Bitte sehr, Frauleïn - Please, Miss
Oh mon Dieu - Oh my God
Mademoiselle - Miss
I also own neither Harry Potter, nor the myth of Prometheus, and I am not Pythagoras, who was a famous mathematician of the VI th century BC where I am a poor student of the XXI rst century.
Following this sentence, the original A/N that I didn't have the heart to delete.
A/N: Hello, lovely reader! Meet RF, my newest baby :)
Huge shout-out to TheVividImagination and apondinabluebox (known on the archive as, respectively, ImagineHarmony and The Misfit) who let me rant to them about this story -- Tawhida and Katie, you have my eternal thanks!
As per usual with first chapters, an introductory paragraph is needed, and even more so with this story.
I am in no way a historian, only a teenager who grew up with the Second World War as a backdrop for family history, and for whom it's an extremely important period. If you spot any inaccuracies, please tell me so that I can edit them.
And now, a few questions about the story...
What did you think of the characters? The context? What's going to happen next? One of the characters here is linked to a cannon one - who do you think that is (it's fairly obvious, but anyway)?
Please leave a review if you have a minute, just to confirm that this isn't crap and that there's a good reason as to why I write it!
Thank you ♥
The line in german roughly means "Please, Miss..."
edit 03/02/13: typos.
edit 07/02/13: date incoherence.
edit 10/03/13: added CI.
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