Britwitch is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Here and there
Behind Enemy Lines (Closed)
Arras, Occupied France
18th October 1941
The sky was dark. There was no moon. It was just as it should be.
The landscape was still and silent. The slightest breath of wind was nudging clouds across the sky and whispering through tree tops. The fields and woods were blanketed with shadows and the night. No owls glided across the sky, no prey seemed to scuttle through the grasses.
Yvonne wondered if for a moment the world had actually stopped. Another moment passed and she almost wished it would, wished it would all stop.
The world had been a different place not so long ago. A world filled with hope and opportunity and now it was filled with fear and oppression. Uncertainty and terror now roamed the countryside, destroying dreams and snatching away lives.
War was on the prowl and her homeland was its latest hunting ground.
Bray was a small town, and barely that, but it had everything the townsfolk needed. There was a bakers, a butchers, a greengrocers. Mail was collected from the post box once a week. What people didn’t buy, they grew in their gardens. Life was simple. Life was happy.
Yvonne had lived all twenty-three years of her life in the town, playing with her older brother Jean down by the river as a child, helping her parents tend the small cottage garden behind their home. She had dreams of working in the town’s school, she’d always loved languages and had taught herself English and German. Probably marrying Guillaume, the boy whose hand she’d held aged seven and who still tried to hold hers whenever he could. His dark eyes and almost wicked smile had been a part of her life almost as the faces of her family had been. They’d shared the odd kiss down by the riverside and he’d told her he loved her. She whispered the words back but she hadn’t quite meant them.
Then the war had come, taking first her brother off to fight for France’s cause. He’d joined up when word of the invasion of Poland had reached them and they hadn’t had word of him since. That had been three years ago now.
Then it had robbed her of her parents. One day she had returned home one spring day to find the door kicked in, splintered wood laying awkwardly to one side, with large muddy boot prints decorating the tiled floor her mother used to spend hours every week buffing to a gleaming shine. The house was empty, her parents hadn’t packed a single thing. They had just…gone.
She hadn’t seen them since. Rumour was her father had been overheard voicing his opinions of their German ‘overlords’ with a group of other men. It was no secret that her mother often fed those on the run from the German army, foreign soldiers and families forced from their homes. Yvonne could only assume it was these ridiculous reasons that had seen them snatched away from her.
It was not long after that when Yvonne overheard rumours of a different sort. Rumours of a group of townspeople, and some from the outlying villages, were organising a kind of group. A group prepared to do anything and everything it could to try and stall the German war machine. This resistance group called to Yvonne. She had nothing to lose and needed a purpose, needed something to fill the void that was now her life. She had made tentative enquiries about the group and at first made no headway. Then one afternoon a hand-written note was posted through the door inviting her to a meeting down in the woods.
She’d crept down at dusk, something that could easily land her in trouble thanks to the curfew in place but her need to do something outweighed her fear.
She waited over an hour before they came. Later she found out they’d been watching from the trees, ensuring it wasn’t a trap on her part. Soon enough she was running small jobs for the resistance, passing on coded messages between their ‘operatives’ in the town and so on. Her small cottage on the edge of town became a meeting place for members of the group. Under the pretence of working in the garden, they were able to discuss future plans and swap information gathered on the German army based not far from their town.
The German headquarters had been set up in a large chateau on the outskirts of Arras, South-east of Bray and it was decided not long after Yvonne joined the group that they needed to try and get someone on in the inside. That someone arrived out of the dark one night. A British operative, the answer to their prayers.
As she had an empty house, it was decided he should stay with Yvonne, under the guise of being her fiancé returned from a trip abroad. His French was excellent and Yvonne had no problem with putting him up. By the time he had arrived she was already rising up through the informal ranks of the resistance and had been charged with planning the operation that would try to get the spy behind the walls of the chateau. Guillaume wasn’t best pleased but he understood it was for the greater good, although Yvonne did notice he made sure to visit a couple of times a day.
At first it was a little awkward, for both of them. But the British man was polite and charming and as the days and weeks passed Yvonne found herself warming to him. Then one night, afterwards she couldn’t say for definite who had made the first move, they had kissed. She’d pulled away, worried that to continue would endanger them both. You couldn’t think straight when your emotions got in the way. But then he’d drawn her into another embrace and her worries had flown out of the window as their lips met once more. They’d woken up the next morning, limbs entwined, naked flesh pressed against naked flesh. Laying their with her long dark hair flowing down her back, her bright blue eyes looking curiously into his, each of them wondering what the future might now hold for the both of them.
It was a month before they were able to sneak him into the headquarters. A month of careful planning and stolen moments together, Yvonne had never felt anything quite like it before. He helped fill the gaping holes in her life. He made her feel wanted and desirable, he made her feel loved. Her passion for the cause and her passion for him were equally powerful. The war had made her feel far older than her years, jaded. He made her feel lighter, freer. Hopeful.
The plan worked flawlessly, the English operative slipped into the headquarters while the other members of the group delivered fruit and vegetables to the chateau’s kitchen. Soon after, he had set himself up in the kitchens of the chateau and serving meals throughout the old building allowed him to overhear all manner of conversations. Soon the resistance had a regular flow of intelligence coming back to them. Troop movements, train times, all of it passed back via messengers disguised as laundrywomen or deliverymen.
Yvonne saw that every scrap of information was put to good use. Road blocks set up, trains delayed, supplies stolen. She worked hard to make sure his dangerous work was not wasted. Then it went wrong.
He was caught and imprisoned somewhere within the chateau.
Yvonne and the rest of the group now focused themselves on his rescue. The British operative had done so much for them, for their cause, they couldn’t simply stand by and let him suffer.
Yvonne shook off her memories as a voice beside her broke through her thoughts.
“Ils viennent…they are coming…” It was the low, gruff voice of Jacques. He had been a baker before the world had gone mad, bringing the Germans to their peaceful town.
“Je sais,” Yvonne replied solemnly, her voice barely above a whisper.
It was time.
The rumbling growl of an engine approaching sent Yvonne and those crouching in the bushes around her into a stealthy run, bodies bent towards the ground, eyes focused upon the vehicle heading down the road towards the sprawling chateau before them. The truck turned into the driveway, towering wrought iron gates parting like the proverbial ‘red sea’ before it.
Yvonne and her cohorts hidden in the shadows followed the truck through the open gates and into the gravel filled driveway, flattening their bodies against an out building to blend once more into the night. Watching and waiting as soldiers piled out of the truck and marched inside.
Two guards closed the gate and began to stand as sentries guarding the entrance.
Yvonne crept up to the main house and selected a small window. She slipped the blade of her knife under the window frame, her tongue wetting her lips as she slid it slowly to the side, hearing the tell tale click as the blade nudged the catch aside. Yvonne pocketed her knife, silently pushing the lower half of the window upwards and climbing inside, followed by three of her associates. Once inside she lowered the window and watched with something akin to pride as the rest of her group fanned out across the yard, slipping into the shadows once more, ready and waiting. They had climbed into what must have been a storeroom or airing cupboard at some point in the chateau’s history, shelves lined the walls, a thick layer of dust covering most of them.
Yvonne signalled to those who had climbed through the window with her, nodding towards the door. The corridor beyond it was deserted, as their mole had said it would be. On silent feet, Yvonne led them through the almost too quiet chateau, towards where she hoped he would be waiting.