The Occupation

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  1. Annalise Leveque couldn't believe her luck when Paris fell the Nazi terror in the summer of 1940. She had run from it and it had crept back up on had caught back up to her. Just when things were looking good again and her life was set back on track. Her brother's were safe - as far as she knew - and she had a good job, a change of identity and a relatively nice flat. There were only two things that plagued her life. The uncertainty of her parent's fates...and also the Nazi Regime. They were like a growth, slowly smothering Europe and suffocating it until it just rolled over and died. It couldn't happen. They couldn't win. That was something that Annalise and a lot of others within Paris, as they listened to BBC and French broadcasts announce the French surrender, believed so strongly that their blood burned in their veins and their hearts pounded in time to the war tune in their heads.

    That's what led Annalise to join the resistance group in the first place. Why shouldn't she? Her brothers were willingly sacrificing their own lives by being active members, so why shouldn't she? Especially after everything that had been done to people like her. To the other Jews that were once in her community. At night, both home in Germany and even now in France with changed documentation, Anna sometimes laid in bed unable to sleep...because she was expecting her flat door to be broken down and to be marched to one of those Concentration Camps she had heard through whispers and gossiping on the streets. A resistance group, a new community and family for her to be a part of.

    And what from there? Well, Annalise found herself right in the middle of the Nazi Regime, working - on instruction by the resistance group - within the Gestapo Headquarters in central Paris. Fixing documentation or changing it, feeding back information and secrets...and none of the bastards suspected her, why? Because she was twenty-five, she was a woman and French. The only help she was to them was the fact that she knew German because, to them, she moved to France when she was ten from Germany to be raised with both languages.

    "Beeil dich!" Anna sharply looked up at the shout from one of the other offices, blinking the German words from her mind as she listened in to the harsh tone of one of the other top officers. She was glad she wasn't the main secretary for that swine.

    Hurry up. Don't they know we're only human? He gave his own secretary those papers two minutes ago, what did he expect? Anna thought to herself, a light frown evident on her features.

    "And what are you looking at?" The heavily-accented English was this time directed at her, leaving Anna to once more focus back on reality as the same Gestapo officer peered at her through the connecting archway, "Get back to work! You're wasting time! Dumme Kuh."

    Immediately averting her gaze, Anna shifted restlessly in her seat and focused back on her work. Stupid cow. How dare he? What she wouldn't do to slap that god-awful face of his.

  2. Major Amsel's heels clicked softly over floors shined to reflective perfection. He went with file folder in hand, the string that would bind it shut swinging in motion through his fingers. He read each page, as he had read them countless times before, like a smutty novel, engrossed in every word. He flipped a sheet as he turned down a new corridor, expertly navigating without glancing above the pages.

    Christian Lebensohn. Supposedly going by the name of Laurent these days. Amsel clicked his tongue. Laurent was too obvious, too common. He thought briefly of all the true Laurents out there who would be needlessly hassled by his men. Speaking of his men, he did not yet know if they were the sort to get things done. They hadn't gotten this job done, he supposed. It was half the reason he was transferred to Paris in the first place. Because Christian Lebensohn still crawled around the streets at night like a little, fearful mole.

    He had harbored and transferred Jews out of Germany. He was not Jewish himself, but some sort of sympathizer. Amsel thought his deeds were honorable. He worked unnoticed for years and people who needed to get over the border knew his name like a small hope they sent off with the wind. That's where he faltered. Too many distrustful people with his name on their lips the moment an officer so much as glanced at their home. They always thought they could save themselves by condemning another. A disgusting lack of integrity. Amsel did not regret when his work let him sniff out rats, but when the work had him crush the truly brave and mighty, well, he shook his head at the misfortune.

    The Major walked through a door just in time to hear the shouts of men. He glanced up, blinking grey eyes into focus on the room. Girls typed away or sorted pages, circling lines in the text occasionally. They mostly looked frightened at the shouted command of a squat man who leaned away from the doorway of an office. One girl allowed a look of annoyance to cross her face. Amsel smiled, he liked catching the moments no one was meant to see.

    Amsel cleared his throat when the younger man finished, "Salut les filles," Hello ladies. His accent held only a hint of German so that with a short enough sentence a native speaker might not even notice the giveaways to his nationality. The man had an ear for tongues, and so did his best when attempting. He was far from fluent, but knew some French from years before. "If I could borrow you all for a moment, take a look at this photograph," he said pulling a large, glossy image from the folder in his hands and setting it down on the annoyed secretary's desk. The nearest woman rose from her desk and dutifully peered over the photo as if it were a puzzle to be solved.

    "I'm looking to get in touch with this man. His name is Christian Lebensohn, but he may be known as Laurent these days. If any of you have seen him around town, I implore you to let me know anything at all that might help in the search." Amsel's voice was strong and steady, floating across the room and other noises with ease.

    "Wer zum Teufel bist du?" the squat man scoffed to his turned back. Who the hell are you? Amsel pivoted on his heel and stood calmly, waiting for some sort of recognition of the man's mistake. It did not come. The man was seething and clearly could not see the Major insignia and cords well. Amsel apologized by sticking out a hand, "Tut mir leid, Major Rolfe Amsel, I'm visiting from Berlin and will be visiting for quite some time, I think." The other man shook his hand, finally realizing his mistake.

    He turned away dismissively and flipped the photo around with his fingertips, asking the woman whose desk he had borrowed, "Mademoiselle, do you recognize this man?"
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  3. Whilst the young officer did not recognize him, Annalise certainly did. Major Rolfe Amsel. What on earth was he doing here? He was supposed to be in Berlin, not in Paris. Why didn't the Resistance inform her of this change? If he's here from Berlin, she would have to be extra careful...extremely aware of what she was doing and what documents she was changing. If he were to catch her at any point...she was done for. The only reason why she knew how important and experienced he was because of the documents the Resistance had for each of the higher-level officers. He was one of the ones at the very top of the pile.

    Licking her lower lip, Annalise was quick to gain a neutral expression, a hesitant smile of welcome upon her lips as she watched him approach. With the folder in his hand, paranoia settled in that the file was about her. She felt her hands become slightly clammy and she was glad that they had all stopped typing away. She rubbed her palms into her skirt briefly as she listened to the famous Major Rolfe Amsel, the knot in her stomach loosening slightly as it turned out that it was not her name in that file.

    Christian Lebensohn.

    Annalise studied the glossy picture before her with the woman, Edda, that was in the desk beside her. Edda shook her head with dismissal, murmuring a timid apology as she returned to her desk. Annalise, however, studied the picture for a few moments longer. He was familiar. The Resistance kept an eye on him also, especially with his helping of the Jewish population or any others that the Nazis considered...undesirable.

    Eventually she peered back up, startling briefly as Amsel called for her attention by speaking once more. "Perhaps merely passing him in the street once or twice, Herr Amsel," she began, making an effort to entwine her German accent with a French one, "But not so much that I would know as to where you would find him."

    The Resistance would be needed to be informed about this now. It was her duty. Lebensohn had to be warned as soon as possible...if these men were looking for him, it wouldn't end well.

    "What is it that you need him for, Major Amsel? Has this man done something wrong?" Annalise inquired next, widening her eyes as if the possibility was incredible.

    The young officer from before stepped forward in what she guessed was supposedly an intimidating gesture. "Dumme Kuh! Don't ask questions outside of what you are being paid for. Major Amsel has better things to do than answer silly, frivolous questions like yours." He snarled back, leaving Anna to drop her head after nodding furiously.

    "I am sorry. I did not mean to pry. I am still learning, please accept my apology."
  4. Amsel watched the women glancing over the face in the photograph. He watched their own faces, subconsciously looking for some glint of familiarity. One had at least seen him in the city, that was better than nothing. He had been informed that for all they knew the man was halfway to the Mediterranean.

    Amsel leaned back on his heel, arms clasped behind his rigid back. His form described everything the Führer could want in his soldiers - tall and long of leg, perhaps not as muscular as could be desired but lean, eyes blue and icy like a pale summer sky. If only his hair weren't so dark, he could be on the posters. His stance was never too loose, but spoke to an ease of movement which was never overstressed.

    "Thank you," he said in a respectable tone to the first secretary who scuttled back to her seat. Then there was the other, comfortable behind her own desk. He opened his mouth to answer her questions when the younger officer stepped in. Mein Gott, the men they took on these days were insufferable. "Don't worry, Corporal, she's merely curious, no apology necessary," he said gently, clasping the man on the shoulder. His fingers pressed tightly into his jacket, a flash of anger just a moment's length which was confused by the younger for a brotherly jest. A smile sealed the deal and the other stepped back.

    "Miss, I would like to talk with you further on this matter. Perhaps I could walk you home tonight," he said, less of a question and more of a statement, although he left room for refusal in his tone.

    After getting her answer, Amsel would lead the Corporal into his own office, where the Major would sit behind the other man's desk and flip through his papers slowly but without close attention. The other man would say nothing and jabber on about things Amsel didn't particularly need to know. He would feign interest and concern, though not very well, and that, too, would go unnoticed by the other.
  5. Scheisse.

    Walk her home? No, no, no. She couldn't allow that. But by the tone of his voice, he wasn't leaving room for argument.

    Annalise swallowed thickly as she nodded at his request, unable to say anything for the moment. Her gaze flickered to the secretary beside her, who offered in return a sympathetic look. At least that way it would look more like just plain nerves of a high-ranking German walking her home. But why talk with her on the way home? Why couldn't he just question her here, in the office? Surely that would be more comfortable and convenient for him.

    "Of course, Major. Anything to be of help." Anna finally managed to get out, presenting a anxious smile as she pushed the picture back across to him.

    Her mind flashed to her little apartment, desperately wondering if he would expect her to invite him in and, if so, did she have any documents laying around the place? Annalise couldn't remember having anything in her apartment in the first place, but paranoia was rampant at this point and she was fearing for any unusual mistakes on her part.

    Following both Corporal and Major with her eyes to the office behind her - having to turn in her seat slightly - with two other secretaries, she knew she needed to find out what this was all about. The Resistance needed to know. And Lebensohn? He needed to be warned or at least frightened into being more careful.

    Standing and brushing down her skirt, Annalise hurried to fetch some coffee - of course these officers had the real thing whilst the rest of France suffered - to present to the Corporal and his visitor. Rarities like milk and even sugar and cream were available on the tray as she carried it toward the office. Of course they had to do this sort of thing before without being asked, so suspicion would be quiet...or so she hoped.

    Fixing a small but polite smile on her face, Anna knocked before entering with the silver tray. "Coffee, monsieur." She murmured, placing it down on the desk and subtly lowering her gaze to the desk as she moved it, trying to capture a glance of the file to no real luck. "May I get you anything else?"
  6. The Major sat back in the chair with his legs crossed ankle over knee, bouncing gently the foot that hung in the air. He was twisted to the desk, one arm over his lap and the other resting half on the desk to support an open file. He had the peculiar habit of raising his head when he read, like an older man with bifocals, though he had perfect vision and was young yet.

    "And you see, Göbber comes back talking crazy about these French ba-"

    The Corporal stopped talking when he heard the knock and the door swung open to admit the secretary from before. Amsel looked up when the mug clinked on the thick wood of the desk. He let the file fall from his hand, flat open on the surface as if he wanted her to see it. It was the account of that year's German Fußball championship, apparently handwritten by the Corporal himself, who was an avid Dresdner fan. Dresdner had gone almost all the way, losing to Schalke in the final match. That portion of the bracket was yet unfilled.

    The Corporal blushed from across the desk at the realization of what his superior had found in his place of work, but said nothing. The Major didn't seem to mind all that much.

    "Ah, thank you, but please take it for yourself," he said lifting the mug of coffee to be taken away, "I don't drink it." Amsel didn't like the idea of needing anything to get a job done. Caffeine was no exception. His eyes followed her until she left, lingering on the door for the afterimage burned into the wood.

    "What's her name?" he asked, looking to the Corporal. The other jerked a thumb over his shoulder, "Who her? Annalise Leveque. Some looker, huh?" Amsel excused himself after that and disappeared to other parts of the building, hoping to get information from more competent men. It seemed the majority of the staff had no idea who he was or that he had been transferred.


    Later in the day he waited in the corridor for the young woman to exit. It was about her time to leave, most of the secretaries were off at the same time. "Miss Leveque," he said when he finally saw her, shuffling the weight to the balls of his feet. "I hope the rest of your day went well," he added with a small, genuine smile.

    "I'm happy to have someone to walk with. I don't know the city yet, so please lead the way," he gestured down the hall, falling in step with her when they were on their way. This was true, he didn't know Paris all too well and her possibly being able to point out locations where she had glimpsed Herr Lebensohn was only secondary. Honestly, Amsel didn't enjoy walking alone. There was too much to think about.

    "What was it you asked this morning?" he started unbidden, "You were interrupted."
  7. Since Annalise had noticed the Major leaving mere moments after she had provided the coffees, she was rather hopeful that it meant all wishes of walking her home were forgotten. The coffee that he did not want, she offered to one of the other secretaries instead, not wanting to take something that belonged to the men who had invaded their homes. She didn't want anything from them. The Allies couldn't come quick enough, if you asked her.

    The rest of the day seemed to go smoothly enough, with no one having seen the Major return to their sector and the Corporal seeming more on edge than before. Obviously having his superior in rattled him slightly. Especially since that file about his damn team was found. What a waste of her time. If either had been suspicious about what she was doing...if any saw her wandering gaze...

    Her thoughts were interrupted at the sound of Amsel's voice, leaving dismay to twist her stomach. She was the last to leave, since she was on the end, she had to file everything away at the end of a shift and ensure that everything was in order. Of course that just meant more of an opportunity to sabotage documents and mistype things.

    Information can change or go missing at any time.

    "Major," she inclined her head politely to him as she halted just beside him as she tied her scarf up and buttoned her coat. "It was the same as before. A day can only be so exciting when the only conversations you have are one sided or with yourself when trying to work through the documentation given to us."

    Perhaps that was too honest, too abrupt...but it had been said now and nothing could be done.

    Her gaze flickered back up to him as she tucked her bag into the crook of her elbow, an expression of manufactured surprise on her features. "So you truly meant about walking me home this lovely evening, Major? I was thinking that any questions you had could have been asked at a more convenient for yourself. In an office or something." Annalise pulled her curls out from where they were tucked in beneath the collar of her coat. "A city walk...? I...I am sure I can make time for that."

    Offering a soft smile of her own, she led him out of the building. He seemed charming enough...but how much of that was just an act?

    Annalise kept her gaze on the views before them as she took them right out of the building to a more picturesque part of Paris, not even looking up when his question was asked. "Well wasn't my place to ask, Herr Amsel..." She began as she was sure she ought to before clearing her throat, "I-I was just wondering what it was that Mister Lebensohn had done to end up on your radar. We don't hear much in the office you see. We're told so little and expected to do so much..."
  8. Amsel said nothing to her brusque comments. He merely filed the facts of her character away in his mind. They weren't untrue and weren't unreasonable, but he gave her a smile in understanding to let her know he had heard and not taken offense. She moved on quickly, it seemed.

    "More comfortable?" he chuckled, one eyebrow raised over a crooked smile, "You've worked here longer than I, but surely you can't find it comfortable in the offices?" Amsel had never looked at his job as a sedentary one. He chose it for its action and its freedoms. The further he rose in the ranks, the more freedom.

    "And anyway, not every question I have gets an answer which can be typed up and filed away. The sort of information I need is not clear," he added thoughtfully. They walked on through the old streets of Paris. Amsel looked at everything, remembered the places, remembered the faces. It was his job to know such things.

    "Oh yes, Herr Lebensohn," he said suddenly reminded, though it was not sudden and he had not forgotten, "The fact is he has fallen off the radar. You see, we like to keep tabs on all our citizens, we Germans. It's quite strange running off without notice to anyone in the height of our time. Very unlike Herr Lebensohn." He spoke as if he knew the man personally, and he meant to by the time this was through. Miss Leveque need not know the dirty details of his quest.

    Had Annalise refused his offer, he would have asked another. He needed to know the city in more ways than its buildings. The German officers would be of no help there. They hardly knew it themselves, not truly. The second half of his reason for coming to Paris - there was something strange running through the streets, something threatening to the cause. It required a steady, but gentle hand.

    "You know, Miss Leveque," he started as they passed a crumbling church with an impressive steeple risen above the square, "Back in Berlin, the women are quite involved in our work. If you want more, there is more." She seemed quite discontent in her day to day and the Major sought to do favors where they were deserved.
  9. Her cheeks flushed with a mixture of frustration and annoyance at his chuckle. Annalise hated being laughed at. But you would have thought she would have been accustomed to it by now, given whom she worked for and where she did her job. It was just something that was becoming...more than a nuisance and she couldn't wait for the Allies to wipe the smug smirks from the faces of the Nazis around her. Even if to the population of Paris she seemed like a Nazi sympathiser or at least a co-operator...she held her own hopes and dreams. Hence the involvement with the resistance.

    "I was merely thinking of what may have benefited you, Major. Certainly some of your fellow Germans prefer a questioning to be done in warm office with an equally warm drink in their hands. Not that they would feel the burn through the leather of the fancy gloves on their hands." Annalise finally responded upon composing herself, rustling briefly through her pocketbook to only then snap it shut once again.

    She turned her gaze around the streets, fully aware with her own observations on how they must have looked together. She could imagine the disgust in some of those that they past. She could feel eyes burning hatefully into her for seemingly just turn around and realize it was her paranoia once more.

    Eventually Annalise peered to the German Major beside her as they walked, eyes scrutinizing each feature and movement. It was a shame that he worked for a group who wished to exterminate people like her. He was handsome, no denying that. However, he could have almost been the poster child for Hitler's plans. If he had the blonde hair...

    Anna forced herself to bit her tongue as he spoke about keeping an eye on citizens. Keep an eye on those you want to lose permanently, you mean. She thought bitterly to herself, mind briefly wandering to her parents of whom she hadn't heard from in months. She was beginning to worry. "Herr Lebensohn is that much of a worry to you, Major? But why? Why should the disappearance of one man cause such a fuss?" She asked innocently, "People go missing every day...why is he of such value?"

    At his offer, Annalise knew that she was on to something here. To get more involved with his line of work? How many openings would that provide the Resistance? Sure it would put her in a more dangerous position...but to save more lives, sabotage more of the German effort... it would be worth it.

    "More involved, Major? I'm not quite sure what you mean. If this is some way to make a deal with me so I'll tell you what limited information I know about Herr Lebensohn...I'll be quite offended." She began, eyebrow raising as she halted in her steps, turning to face him with an expression that looked anything but amused. She had to get this right. "If this isn't some form of bartering tool...then I'll happily think about it, but if it is...then merely ask questions about Lebensohn and I'll do my best to answer. As I mentioned...I only passed him occasionally on the street. Even then I cannot be sure that it was even him."
  10. "There's no fuss," he told her truthfully. Finding Lebensohn was in reality a minor task for the Major, but one that could also be solved. "I've taken it upon myself to find the man. He's guilty of treason, abandonment, and murder. The last is the interesting part.

    "As the story goes, Lebensohn killed his Jewish neighbors, who were hiding under the floorboards of his home, just before the arrival of a pair of our Officers. Supposedly he was saving his neighbors from them. There was a struggle and Lebensohn escaped. This is the story our young Officers would tell you," Amsel told it in a tone he would tell a bedtime story to his children, had he any. He didn't treat it as a truth as much as a fairy tale. "That's all quite unlike Lebensohn, however. I'm the only one who will tell you that." He glanced at her to see if she followed before continuing, "His crimes are severe without murder, but I wouldn't have a man punished for a crime he didn't commit."

    Above the pride he had in his country, Rolfe Amsel reserved a place for Justice.
    Annalise stopped quite suddenly and without warning. The Major had taken a few steps ahead before turning himself in realization. He took it as a chance to really look at her. His brow crinkled as he looked her over and listened.

    "You misunderstand me, Miss Leveque," he said, "I don't make deals with strangers." He reminded her politely of their relationship. As sure as one could be of another's character, it was not wise to go out of your way without a certainty. Especially in these times. The Major was not unaware of the resistance to the Nazi way of thinking. "I only mean to say that if you are as interested as you seem to be in the Party, there is precedence for more responsibility."

    Women in Germany would often take up roles as organizers, Youth Educators, and sometimes, unofficially, more influential in operations. This was solely based on character and personal drive. It was not handed, it was taken. In return, they gained information and a sort of power. Annalise would have to take this knowledge of the opportunities upon herself and figure out what to do with it. "There is no fixed position for me to give you, even if I wanted to. The only thing I have is my word."

    His recommendation and assurance on her character was a good asset in itself. But he didn't know her enough to say.

    They continued standing still on the corner, apparently in the way. A young boy pushed past, followed by a crew of other boys. He couldn't have been more than fourteen, but stood tall for his age. He turned and spat at the feet of the Major, ignoring Annalise and saying something about a pig, but the Major hadn't been able to decipher his thick French slang. The other boys laughed and hurried up the street, afraid to be punished for their act. Amsel didn't follow and didn't mean to. He blinked slowly and watched them run around the corner.

    "It seems I've taken too much of your time, Mademoiselle. Thank you for showing me some of your beautiful city. Until next time," he said as if nothing had happened. He took signs when they came, but didn't make much fuss over them.
  11. Of course that story about Lebensohn was nothing but fiction. A man who smuggled Jews from the country going onto supposedly kill his neighbours? That was completely stupid. What those officers had been taking before they told Amsel that story, Annalise had no idea. But she widened her eyes, played the part of innocent, unsuspecting secretary that couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You really think he wouldn't have done that? But how can you be sure? If you're already looking for this man because of other crimes he has committed then how are you certain that this isn't something he has definitely done?"

    Her eyes then lowered upon his continuation regarding his previous offer of possibly providing her with another, and better, job. As she had thought before, the Resistance would definitely be interested in her gaining such a new position, especially if it allowed her access to a range of files and documentation for her to change or lose or destroy. Whatever she could do to slow the Nazis down. "I would have to think about it, Major. I have become comfortable here and know people. Even in the offices, the other secretaries...I consider them my friends."

    Annalise took a few steps back upon the rude and abrupt interruption from the young French boy, her brow furrowing as she followed his path past them. She understood the slang and bit her lower lip, peering back to the Major and relaxing slightly as she realized that the whole translation hadn't reached him. Tucking a curl behind her ear, Anna gripped her pocketbook tighter and peered down at her feet as they stood in the silence that the young group had left them with.

    When he eventually came to excusing himself, Anna glanced back up and politely inclined her head toward him. Showing him some of the city? She had barely shown him anything of Paris...but she wasn't going to stretch their contact and would leave it for now. Besides, he did make her a little nervous...not that she would ever admit that. The way he would just seem to scrutinize and analyse everything around him...including her. "Of course, Major. Have a good evening," she responded, shooting a final look in his direction before hurrying off again.


    The next day, Annalise faced questions from her fellow secretaries as she hung up her coat and scarf. She answered them as calmly as she could as they walked through to their desks, placing her back under the table before pulling herself in close to the typewriter before her. They were so infuriating sometimes. Especially now. Firing off question after question. Where did she go? Did the Major really walk her home? What did he want? Did he ask about Lebensohn? Was she in trouble for knowing him?

    For the first time since she got her job there, Annalise had never been so relieved to see the Corporal enter the room, immediately hushing the other women up. He was a brusque man, but the Major's visit had obviously shaken him up and he was sterner than before. Barking at them and driving them harder, wanting this done faster and that typed up neater. But at least it was something Anna could do...except today she couldn't manipulate as much information as usual because of him bearing down on them.
  12. Major Amsel returned to the office the next day, but spent it in a separate wing than the day before. He did not speak to many and did not request, but personally visited their archives for any information he felt he needed. He stood between the rows, one file open at a time and simply read those he needed, putting them back when he was done. Each day he talked to someone new, whether it was lunch with an officer or a walk with one of the secretaries. They talked of nothing in particular and the Major didn't seem to have any sort of agenda. By all means, he seemed simply to be interested in getting to know them.

    Many men didn't like him for this. Rumors floated around and though they were untrue, the Major did not attempt to discredit the claims. Truthfully, many of the unchosen were silently jealous that they themselves were not 'good enough' for his company. Had this been said, he would have assured them the choices were as random as rain.

    Directly after the close of the office on Friday, Amsel found himself walking the halls alone in search of postage. Of all things. He held the small letter in his hand, already sealed and addressed, with his coat over the other arm. The corridors were dark and plain, all doors shut and soundless. Turning another corner, the last he would try before resigning to wait until Monday, when he saw an open door, light spilling out on the waxed floors.

    Amsel walked in slowly, looking around for the last soul in the building. Under the arch, his eyes found the last secretary.

    "Miss Leveque, you're better than the rest of us," he said with a smile. He hadn't seen her but in passing the past two weeks since their walk. Though he had met many by now, he felt a sort of gladness that she was the one he would find. It was just past the end of the day and being a weekend, every other worker had found the door as soon as they could. It was perfectly agreeable, so he thought it strange that a secretary, of all, would be left alone for the afternoon. "Even our Corporal has left," he added, nodding towards the dark office to her left.

    "You don't happen to have postage, do you?" he asked, seemingly embarrassed by his small need. He held up the letter for reasoning and took a step towards her desk so they were not shouting across the room.
  13. Within those two weeks, Annalise had been under quite some pressure from the Resistance. They wanted to know what Major Amsel was doing, who he was talking to and where he went. It was easy enoigh to keep an eye on him within the file archives considering she and other secretaries would flit back and forth from that room. But also because he always seemed deeply emerged in the file he had chosen. However, it was a little more difficult about who he spoke to and about what. Most of the time those whom had his attention for the day where more than eager to share their encounter with the Major. Only a select few were more subdue about it.

    Of course she was rather relieved that he hadn't bothered her since his arrival, but that on it's own made things a bit harder considering she had to then overhear things or listen to exaggerated or stretched truths. It was infuriating her to have to listen to such trival gossip when all the while all she wanted to focus on the news she had recieved.

    Anna was rifling through some documents when the Major had intruded. Luckily tonight it was nothing supicious or anything involving the Resistance. She just wanted to figure something out for her own family-personal...reference. This was personal curiosity. It was just...her brothers were getting more and more engaged with Resistance activity. She couldn't help but read the latest information regarding prisoners or any fresh captures. Anna hoped against hope that she would not see any names she recognized...but given her stance, there was always one name she knew. She had yet to see any family.

    Startling and shuffling the papers back, Annalise turned to the Major and dipped her head respectively, "Major, I'm equally surprised to see you here, I assure you." She forced a light smile onto her lips. "As for the Corporal leaving's a regular occurance. I don't mind. It's refreshing to have silence occasionally. Don't you agree?"

    Her brow then furrowed softly before it dawned on her, 'Mail? Yes of course. I can post it for you." Anna smiled as warmly as she could, hand outstretched to take the mail from him. "Unless you prefer to send it yourself?" She inquired politely, head tipping quizzically to the side. She was interested to see just whom the letter was addressed to, but also the contents within. It would be easy to suggest that the letter merely got lost within the system, especially with the war. Things go missing or didn't get recieved all the time.

    Her nerves spiked as he began his way over to the desk, and she glanced down to the papers she had before her. At least it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Instead of names of those captured or imprisoned, it could have been photocopies of timetables or he could have even interrupted her sabotage of orders. She was lucky. She needed to be extra aware of where the Major was at all times. Anna wasn't prepared for all her hard work to be undone by a man who had only just arrived.

    "Excuse me. Let me clear my mess. I won't be two seconds. Perhaps then we can start our journey home? You can post your letter on the way through." Annalise suggested, carefully placing the sheets into their designated folder despite just wanting to shove them in and run.
  14. "It is," he agreed, "The halls echo too much." Though her answer didn't explain her working after hours.

    "It's a personal matter," he said slowly, insisting, "I wouldn't have you go out of your way for it." He tapped the envelope on his palm before sliding it into his coat pocket. His younger brother had sent word a week before that he was having his first child and if Rolfe could manage, he asked him to travel home to Brunswick for the baptism. He had not known even that his brother was married. A very long time passed since they were last together and their years apart in age were many. He had spent the week contemplating why this time had seemed correct to reach out. Rolfe wrote back that he would try, but could not make any promises.

    Amsel noted the stiffness in her as he approached. He noticed this in a great many people with whom he spoke. There was naught but to ignore it. He stood to the side of her desk, looking down at her papers with her, watching quietly as she shuffled them into a neat stack and away. He nodded, having nowhere to be, he looked forward to the walk.

    "New arrests every week," he said, "A shame they can't see that these little rebellions help no one." He paused a moment, taking a few steps back to allow her room to gather her things. "I suppose you recognize some of them?" he found himself saying, "Neighbors and such." They had arrested a baker just the week before based on something the Major had noticed away at lunch with an officer. By all means an upstanding merchant, no one had considered him a threat. He shook his head thinking about it. It troubled him that there was war amongst citizens. That, above even Lebensohn, was his reason for coming to Paris.
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  15. Of course being involved with what she was, Annalise expected to see more names than she had done, but to ensure maximum safety...they never used real names. Codenames or false ones were provided to other resistance members. That way...if anyone was captured...

    Shaking her head clear of thoughts, Anna forced herself to give the Major her full attention, refusing for her focus to slip again. She needed to stop worrying. No one knew who she was or what she did. The Germans were stupid pigs, she told herself firmly, a woman in a pretty dress would always be enough to distract them from anything suspicious. But the Major...he was different, and that's what unnerved her. She was just grateful that he seemed to put her edginess down to just his presence alone and nothing else.

    "I recognize a few, yes." Annalise lied, lowering her eyes as if ashamed of that fact, "I had no idea though. They seemed like such nice people. I would have never suspected..." She trailed off, glancing down to the file again, "I just hope against hope that the list will stop growing but..." She sighed softly, peering back up to him, eyebrows furrowed and lips turned downward with supposed concern.

    Wiping at her face, she added an extra sniff to her act before turning to gather her things. Placing the strap of her pocketbook over her shoulder, she turned to face him once more with a smaller smile playing along her lips. "Shall we go, Major? I think we've spent too much time here already and you have that letter to post. I need to pick up some more rations too." Clearing her throat, she snapped the lamplight off and slipped past him to the door, hoping he would follow after her. Guess she wouldn't find out what that letter was after all...
  16. "We learn a lot of things about our neighbors in times of struggle," he said remorsefully. War was a time for choosing sides and making decisions. It was a time for proving yourself wrong about others. "I hope it stops growing, too," he added, sympathizing with her. It was no lie, although they may agree on that point for different reasons.

    The Major lingered even after she had slipped by on her way to the door. He wasn't looking for anything, only glancing around. Her desk, the other desks, the old, wooden floor which stretched off into the dim shadows of the room. Outside the sky was overcast and grey, starting to go dark.

    "Yes, of course," he said rather distractedly. His mind had fluttered off with other thoughts for a time, but her voice took him arm in arm and brought him back. Amsel looked at her by the door and then made his way to her. When they were through, he pulled it shut carefully without a sound.

    "Miss Leveque," he started once they had left the building, "I'm surprised to know you haven't anywhere to rush off to." She was young and beautiful enough. Young, beautiful women generally always had plans, he'd found over the years.
  17. Making soft noises of agreement, Annalise wasn't sure what else she could say to the Major without sounding as if she was lying. It was a tiring act, to say the least, and sometimes she wondered just how close she was to giving her game away because she simply couldn't be bothered to keep track of whatever she said or what lies she told. Perhaps he would then take this as her being exhausted after a long two weeks, since they had all been pushed harder upon his arrival, and not keep her too long. Even if she was the one who invited him on the walk.

    Rifling though her bag to check she had everything after buttoning up her coat and pulling on her hat, Anna waited until he had left each room and then the building before locking up. Usually she wouldn't have the key, considering she was still French in their eyes, but tonight was different. Expected to stay late as one of the more senior secretaries, a key was provided and she was expected to lock up after herself. It just gave her an excuse to stay longer than necessary to check the news and documents.

    Pulling herself from her thoughts as she heard Amsel address her once more, she floundered for an answer momentarily. "Anywhere to rush off to, sir?" Annalise repeated, her brow furrowed lightly as she peered up to him, "I'm...I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean. I had work to complete...surely you know the importance of me finishing a day's quota? The Corporal....he wouldn't be best pleased if he found out I had left early just because I wanted to without finishing what he needed and wanted done."
  18. Amsel smiled even as she went on in what he interpreted as a somewhat offended tone. "I did not mean to downplay your work, Miss, I only meant you should not feel obligated to walk with me if you've someplace to be." He wanted to make sure he did not inconvenience her. He did not always enjoy the stress he put on others to play a part. Everyone was always playing a part.

    "The weekend and all," he added, "People usually have plans." He shrugged his shoulders. He wanted to let himself relax. Most times, Amsel could be described as stiff and business-like. That wasn't a criticism except where it wasn't necessary. Like now. He wanted to be friendly with Miss Leveque. She had invited to go with him, not as usual where it was his offer.

    "So don't feel as though you can't dismiss yourself," Amsel said, with some usually unheard character in his voice, "Although I appreciate company."
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  19. "I don't have any place to be, sir, I can assure you." Annalise was quick to shut that avenue down, not wishing to spend anymore time wasted on talking about where she should and shouldn't be going. What did she have to do most days anyway? Perhaps it wouldn't be too bad to spend some time with the Major...he seemed decent enough-

    Wait, no. She couldn't be thinking that. He was a part of the regime she was fighting against!

    Shaking her head and sighing softly, Anna's crossed arms tightened against her chest as they continued down the street.

    Glancing briefly to him, she shrugged her own shoulders quietly and finally peered away afterward. "Many eligible men have gone off to war, sir. Or have been forced to go because of your own men." She eventually replied softly, "Not that it matters, I'm much too busy...too be considering any form of plan, whether it be for dates or with friends." Anna cleared her throat, not particularly wishing to turn this into a form of pity party for herself.

    Her brow then furrowed at his tone, leaving her to look to him again but this time with further curiosity. "I am quite fine here, thank you Major. Lest it be you that wishes to be left alone. Otherwise you are more than welcome to hurry to make the evening post, I'll be rather safe walking home by myself, I do that often enough."
  20. The Major's smile faded. He felt that somewhere his words were mistaken. He had said much and assumed more than was necessary, perhaps. He had fallen into a routine of people acting a certain way around his station and reputation. What he assumed about Miss Leveque was precisely what he wished others wouldn't do to him.

    "I apologize, I only meant to say I'm grateful that you have extended your free time to include me, even for a walk," he said, grey eyes reflecting genuine intentions. He stopped then, realizing that they had reached the post building. He looked up the wide, curved stairs leading to an arched doorway, white stone and then back to the French woman. "My brother is having a child," he said, finding the envelope out of his pocket and in his hands, unaware of when it was pulled out. He couldn't place what made him want to tell her what the letter regarded. Many of his interactions made him feel unreachable in himself. Perhaps telling her this mundane fact was a way of reaching through that barrier.

    "I'll only be a moment," he said after a silence, taking a step back before turning to climb the stairs at purposeful pace. Rolfe was not certain that he would see her still standing at the base of the steps when he exited the building once more. He had been feeling strangely wanting that day. Tired of work and tired of putting on the show of authority. It came easily, certainly, but anything in never-ending fashion had the possibility of growing old. Rolfe didn't spend time with people outside of his duty or if he did, the talk was too much about duty and so he hoped she would still be there at the base of the stair.
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