26 August, 1944

The roar of the crowds was almost as bad as the whistle and bang of the bombing had been. There were too many people, a rolling mob of crying, happy faces, and someone pushed a bottle of wine into his hands because he sounded American, even though he was no where near the American Army. Rick wanted to get away, so he grabbed Louis by the arm, pushed his way out of the crowd. Louis resisted, a little, because cynical as he was he was also a Parisian, but Rick just pulled harder and Louis followed, perhaps embarassed by his sudden display of emotion.

They headed down side streets, deserted now, looking for a quiet place to stop and rest and see about the wine he still held in his hand. He found an abandoned barricade, mostly rubble but there were a few chairs wedged in; Rick pulled two free and sat down, looked at the bottle. A Bordeaux Red. 1934. A good year. He undid the seal. Stopped. How was he going to get the cork out?

Louis took the bottle and produced a corkscrew from a pocket. "There are two things a true Frenchman is never without," he said. "A good companion and a corkscrew."

The cork came away with a loud pop. Louis took a very fastidious sip, acting for all the world like he was in a fine restaurant and this was a bottle that had been brought to his table for his inspection. He swirled the wine in his mouth, then nodded and passed the bottle to Rick.

"Paris! Paris outrage! Paris brise! Paris martyrise! Mais...Paris Libere!"

De Gaulle's words were softened by distance, the roar of the crowd muted as well. Rick lifted the bottle and smiled.

"We have Paris," he said.

the fics