inglourious basterds. fredrick zoller, shosanna dreyfus. your heart said protect the girl and you did. Your mind said what are you doing, and you had no answer. ~1200 | pg13
“Ah—Fredrick, you must be off, yes?”
“No. I mean, not this instant. I thought perhaps I might stay.”
“Now, come, have I made you jealous? I’m too old for her, you know? I assure you this will be but a moment and you are in Paris! There will be many nights yet to kiss your sweetheart in the dark. Spare me this bright day.”
Fredrick remembers training camp. Remembers the angry roars of his sergeants (“you are a soldier, boy! You do not think, you act!”), and he does not think, he acts. He acts and acts, and acts until there is a sea of corpses below him and he still alive in the crow’s nest, peering down at the graveyard below.
Before, Fredrick had sat in the dark and watched movies, his face alight with the wonder of it. You can create universes—in a movie.
But then they told him to stop thinking. To act. They never use these words, but this is how Fredrick saw it: use your heart, because your heart thinks like this—survive, defend, protect—and not your head because your head thinks like this—but what if I do it wrong?
So he stops thinking and acts.
And it’s very true. His heart says, protect that girl, and so he does. He has learned to act. His mind shouts, what are you doing? And he has no answer.
There is only Emmanuelle’s (no, no, that’s wrong) hand gripping him, pulling him out from the grave he has created for himself.
“Well, I don’t want Mademoiselle Mimieux to have—”
“I will look after her. She will be just fine, I assure you. My but young bucks are much more aggressive these days!”
There is blood smeared across Emmanuelle’s pants. Fredrick wonders how it got there and then he remembers: Landa’s skull splattering across the fancy tablecloth, rolling into Emmanuelle’s lap—
Or Shosanna’s lap, better yet.
Really, he hadn’t thought that was going to work. Landa was just always so meticulously prepared, so cunning, smarter than Fredrick ever hoped to be (but he had been happy, not being as smart as Landa; Landa’s greatest secret is that he’s never happy, Fredrick knew it and that was why Landa never really cared for him). He had thought, the second before he had pulled his gun, Landa must know what I’m planning, I’m probably dead already and just don’t know it.
But the colonel hadn’t, and Fredrick had been staring down at the mess of skull and blood across the dinning table and wondered how he had gotten back in that tower, shooting at Allied men as they rained down on him.
Then Emmanuelle who was not Emmanuelle but Shosanna had roared up, grabbing him by his collar and dragged him out of the restaurant.
“I think will stay. For a little.”
“You will keep your fans waiting.”
“Still, with all respect, I shall remain.”
“Ah, Fredrick, I wish you wouldn’t, you know? This is all very boring stuff, the lady and I have to talk of. You wouldn’t enjoy it.”
“I enjoy anything that has to do with Emmanuelle.”
“I see I can do nothing to change your mind. Nor would I. I find your tenderness endearing. Mademoiselle, if I may proceed?”
Emmanuelle knows Paris very well, and they dart in and out of alleyways. They aren’t going to her cinema. Fredrick knows just enough to know that they are heading in the opposite direction.
She stops them after what must have been close to four miles. She is very good at running, Fredrick thinks absently.
“Have you gone mad?” she hisses at him as he slumps against the dirty brick wall and sinks down.
The only thing he says is, “Are you really Jewish?” But he realizes that, honestly, he doesn’t care. Maybe he should be angry—she lied to him, she is the enemy—but, you know, there used to be a Jewish family next to him and they always made extra food for him and his sisters when things were difficult and when they had disappeared he had thought that maybe they’d gone to Switzerland.
He hadn’t said the thought aloud. Those were not the thoughts of a good soldier (don’t think—act).
“No—that’s—I mean, are you really Shosanna?” That is what’s important. Shosanna. He wants to be able to say her name right.
“What does it matter?”
“Landa was going to kill you—I’m sorry. I didn’t—think.” He wasn’t apologizing about Landa. He shot those Allied soldiers, and he didn’t think. The Jewish family next door went missing, and he didn’t think. Shosanna’s family was murdered, and he didn’t think.
“Fredrick, I think you are insane.”
Shosanna bends down beside him, looking beautiful in her delicate way, but he recognizes the steel behind her eyes. Maybe that’s why he was drawn to her, in the beginning. The calm, steady way she holds herself.
Like the calm, steady way she grips his hand. The one that’s shaking, clasping his gun still.
“—Shosanna Dreyfus. We had a fun game did we not?”
“Ah, Fredrick! See, I did not want you here! I knew this would break your heart. I am most sorry, but it cannot be helped. It’s best now that you leave. I would not ask you to perform this task.”
“Miss Dreyfus, it is truly a pity but you know this world—what can you do?”
(don’t think, act)
“Come on, we can’t stay here,” Shosanna says gently, pulling him to his feet. He’s unsteady, but only for a moment.
“You should run,” he tells her. “I will turn myself in, say that I killed you as well. The doctors—they have my papers. They will say it is not an unlikely story.”
Shosanna looks at him like he is the saddest thing in the world. “Fredrick, you are an idiot.”
Then she leans in and kisses him. Not hard, or desperate. Just her lips brushing against his and he remembered for a moment how you create a universe. He thinks, she is promising me something and even if she’s not, not really, it’s at least something. Fredrick has gone without promises for a very long while.
“But I’m smart enough for both of us,” she continues. “And I am much better at hiding than you.”
He has no idea what she means, except he does.
“Emmanuelle, are you—”
The papers will defame him come next morning—and Germany’s war hero will become Germany greatest shame—and Helga Zoller will weep bitter salty tears when she is informed, but she keeps the letter—I am safe, I am sorry, I love you—tucked in her pocket and smiles when no one looks.
Fredrick will be in America by the time he reads them, and they will not hurt so much because Shosanna’s fingers are especially soft.