The first time they met amidst an ocean of green, blue, red and gold.
His ship just set anchor on her continent a few days ago and he went to scout the land on his commander's orders.
That's when he saw her first, surrounded by light green grass and tall golden corn, framed by the red light of the setting evening sun.
Time seemed to stop then, nothing mattered to the blonde Frenchman anymore, nothing except the knowing look in her beautiful brown eyes and the smell of grass and fertile soil around him.
He would remember this moment for the rest of his life – it would be his personal undoing.
They did not understand each other, at least not with words, but he still kept volunteering to go to her camp and try to trade. 'To look around' was his excuse to his shipmates and he would use it every single day. And he would wander around and look until he found her, but when he did there was not much to say at all.
Once he presented her with a necklace he fashioned and she would smile, all cheek and teeth and that beautiful knowing look in her eyes.
One night, some men stumbled back into their impromptu-camp on the shore, all belching and drunken laughter. Later he would learn that they came across native women from the fields and, since they rightfully denied them earlier, 'taught them a lesson on how to treat a man'.
It seemed they even killed one.
Thus he knew his time with her was limited.
His fellow sailor's actions incited a riot the next night.
Unfortunately, her clan was small so she was with the rioters, attacking the seamen's camp and trying to drive them off back to the sea – they have had done enough damage already.
The skirmish didn't take long, for their arrows and bows and spears were nothing against the sailor's muskets and his commander ordered all native survivors taken in line to be shot.
He was ordered opposite her, musket ready. She looked back, defiance and daring clear in her eyes, but still so familiar, so knowing.
When the order came, he shut his eyes tight and pulled the trigger, she fell to the ground all broken, her open eyes knowing no more.
He didn't make it back to France, for he stopped eating one day.
The smell of grass and corn and soil around him, the feeling of her eyes on him – his personal undoing.
She was calling for him.
The day he set his eyes on her he was instantly smitten. From her long wavy blonde hair to her brown eyes, just a few shades lighter than his, everything about her seemed perfect.
Even after years of marriage and life's ups and downs, every time his gaze fell on her he felt that he had known her before. There had been times he wondered so aloud, but she would just smile and comb his thick brown hair with her fingers. "Fate," she would always say and smile with a twinkle in her eyes.
With King Louis XV dead and his grandson Louis XVI on the throne, the positive change everyone waited for never came and instead, living got worse.
Many years into this, it was also his reason for being out so late at night, having helped a neighbor for some coin. It should help a lot right now, their own bakery made the least amount of money since they started it.
While he mused on what he would have to spend it on, he never registered the figure trailing him in the shadows. He also never registered the arm around his neck or the blade drawn across his throat until it was too late.
His eyes stared unblinkingly now unto his own dark red pool of blood, the money and shoes taken by one so desperate to stoop down to murder in order to survive.
Not many years later, the citizens of Paris finally had enough and the cries for freedom became unstoppable, with riots organizing on the streets. One particular day, she had been in the masses to deliver freedom to the people held prisoner in the Bastille.
On the first push towards the fort's gate, it's commander ordered the guards to shoot the people. One of the first bullets hit her in the chest, another somewhere else. She wasn't sad, instead she smiled, one good day's work, one lifetime's rest.
His kind brown eyes and cheeky smile called out to her.
The war was everywhere, it was not the first and certainly not the last this country has had seen. With war there is nothing nice, nothing beautiful, the brunette nurse learned early on. It was all blood and grime and death. Except there was something beautiful, it struck her, as soon as she saw a female doctor with wavy blonde hair attending to one of her patients. As if on cue, the doctor lifted her head and gazed at her with a knowing twinkle in her eyes.
However gruesome their days and nights have been, full of blood and sickness and amputated limbs, they always managed to sneak away for a few minutes together.
It started out as innocent chats over nothing special, just enjoying a colleague's company, but grew more serious in almost no time. From colleagues the evolved to friends, and from friends they evolved into something more. There was almost no time to explore it deeper, though, between the battles.
One night they sat outside and watched the stars while the doctor gifted her favorite nurse with something special. She gave her the locket she always wore, a special item. Handed down in her female line. "Sometimes I feel I have known you for much longer," she smiled slightly while saying it, her eyes focused on the nurse's darker ones. "Every time I look into your eyes the first thing in my mind is the smell of corn, of ripe soil and sunshine. A sense of familiarity. I do not know why". The nurse then, her nurse, started to laugh her cheeky laughter, all smile and teeth, and proclaimed that it must have been fate 'or something like that'. She then allowed her doctor to slip the locket around her neck and held onto it the rest of the night.
'Fate' was a good enough an answer for now.
They had been separated for a while when the news had reached her. More doctors were needed at the immediate front line for emergency treatment, more nurses behind the lines to help those back to health that made it through the critical hours.
The courier that brought news of surrender with him also had an object for her in his vest. One of the field hospitals to the east had been raided and burned down completely, so he said, no survivors. But this was found near it and the picture inside, miraculously almost undamaged, had been identified to be her. Was it?
Yes, it was the locket she gave her beloved, but she couldn't tell him that. So she just took it and nodded her thanks, crying silently once she was alone.
With war there is nothing nice, nothing beautiful, nothing to gain. Only to lose, she thought when she closed her eyes in it's aftermath, welcomed back by a cheeky laugh and smile and a sense of belonging, of home.
University life was not all it was made up to be, especially after some of his courses were now forbidden under his country's dictator's new rule.
So they had protested against it, he and his friend he made on campus. 'The brave new world', his friend said and smiled while the wind gently blew through his short blonde hair, blowing his cigarette smoke away from them.
So they protested, not effectively at first. He was louder, not at all conform with the new rules, his friend more quiet, not that much for protesting. But when the rules the country had to abide by became even more severe, the police even more hostile, the blonde first entertained the idea of unofficially joining a group.
The first five leaflets were printed and distributed nicely, printing count climbing piece by piece.
It was when they both were alone in the printing room in the basement when he couldn't keep his feelings private any longer and kissed his friend.
He had not much time to react however, for the Gestapo chose this moment to storm the basement in search for the insubordinate students.
All they found were two men embracing in a kiss.
This made up for the lack of members present, however, as it was a whole new crime on it's own.
Days of interrogation and transportation later, they found themselves between sparse concrete buildings together with other new arrivals. When they were issued their prison clothing, both noticed the pink triangle stitched on the shirts. It indicated them as the lowest of prisoners, as homosexuals.
Days blended into days and into nights again, all they knew from then on was bone breaking work, routine only broken by the location and the arrival of new prisoners.
The guards systematically started to send prisoners down camp towards the medical ward and other facilities when it became apparent that four prisoners per plank bed were too much.
'To cure your injuries sustained at work,' they said, but everyone knew they would be poisoned with gas and burned after to make way for fitter, healthier workers.
Both of the men knew their time had come when two new men where assigned their bed after dinner, making it four without them.
Sharing a last quiet moment together, they waited for the officers to get and guide them 'down to the medical facilities and showers'.
They didn't flinch, they didn't run, instead walking so close together they could hold hands unseen.
They attempted their last walk together, their eyes calling out to each other beneath the evening sun.
Their eyes locked over a small distance in the lab.
One pair wet with unshed tears, the other spectacled and round with curiosity but both a lovely shade of brown.
The blond stuffed her papers into her back and hurried out, leaving a paper with grades for the brunette to find.
It wasn't long until the girl with the brown dreadlocks went after her, set on seeing the blonde with her killer grades again and the tall blonde let's herself easily be found.
Their conversation in the library was short but on point, and they met again for the lecture, in which the brunette sassed the speaker and the blonde had to laugh because of her companion's cheek.
The conversation after was a little blur of more cheek and then running as the brunette pressed a stolen wine bottle into the blonde's arms.
At this particular afternoon, friends were made and promises spoken.
"It's really nice to make a friend in the brave new world," the blonde said while blowing her cigarette smoke against the wind.
They met again over dinner and wine, their intimate moment disrupted by the science lecturer.
The brunette was her usual cheek and sass, but the scientist's suggestions of deeper origin make them both uncomfortable.
Later at the brunette's apartment, something unforeseen by both of them happened.
Did I make a huge mistake?
It's okay. I have to go.
A lot of betrayal and heartbreak later, the blonde still came across country lines for her, standing in the loft before the brunette and asked for forgiveness.
Hurt and differences not forgotten but turned aside, they started on encoding the geek's genetic sequence, and a lot of codes and encryptions later, they have the result.
A hurried and tearful phone call later, the brunette was broken down enough to finally admit the undeniable truth.
"I'm sick, Delphine."