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Beneath a pristine manor house sprawling #tunnels echo birth pains of Resistance. A nursemaid stands watch by the makeshift HQ station... now explosions rumble overhead. She knows little of their plans but this new blind servitude could pay higher dividends than the last. #vss365
Hank approaches Derringer Manor where #precious Betsy works. 1 more kiss before he ships out— she’ll see him in uniform.

Whistling screams overhead. Shattering impact. The house coughs fire, smoke, & people: cockroaches fleeing in all directions. But no Betsy.
#Satsplat #vss365
Lights flicker in the tunnel as the rumbling above is swallowed by a great crash. Officers scramble to collect documents & Betsy dives to the ground, gripping the silver locket swaying from her neck. An eternity of screams in the ceiling,then 1 voice nearby—her dear #boy.
Toddler cries reverberate above the tunnel, followed by another #torrent of exploding glass & creaking joists. Betsy crawls to the stairs, stumbling on an officer pinned beneath chunks of granite. A frantic plea in his eyes, he grips her arm & makes an impossible request.
Above ground, Hank storms the flaming Manor in search of Betsy. He despises the Derringers & their pompous estate— their use of Betsy as surrogate in birthing the young heir.

Screams arrest his focus. #Delving into a corner behind a fallen shelf, he clasps a small hand.
Racing against collapse, Betsy is forced to exit the tunnel in the woods. In the dusk she sees young Rudy in the arms of a soldier. Relief surges through her.

She must reach the War Office by sunrise, & prays her #reputation as a lowly nursemaid won’t hinder her message.
The burns & subsequent infection on Hank’s leg prevent active duty to his country, but nothing can alter his love for Betsy’s child. Rudy is all he has left of her.

They reside in the war-torn village, an #unlikely pair, as Hank does his bit on the home front.
Rudy knows no life but this one: cottage chores, reading, arithmetic, taking shelter during air raids. He plays with other children on #verdant hills; they are forbidden to go near an old manor house that lays in ruins.

Each night Papa tells tales of a lass called Mama.
Betsy’s fingers #fly along the switchboard.

4 years ago she reached the War Office on foot: a waif-heroine, wielding decoded coordinates of planned attacks on London. Fearing interception, she’d burned the missive given her by the Lt, delivering the message from memory.
...Almost curfew. She walks patrolled streets, mask in her rucksack at the ready.

Tomorrow, more inquiries. Reports of the bombing over the Manor had listed the Derringers among the dead.

Was her glimpse of Rudy that night an apparition of her terrorized mind?
Despite the compromise of Britain’s operation at the Manor, Lansfordshire is still a critical point of contact between cities. Hank relays #stacks of intelligence correspondence from his small village post.

#Elsewhere, his identity is discovered. They are coming for him.
By the hearth, Rudy giggles at Papa’s silly drawings.

A knock at the door.

Soldiers are good, Rudy knows. Papa is a soldier. But those entering the cottage now aren’t pleased with Papa.

“Henry D’Alesio?”
“I am he,” Papa says. “No... release me at once. This is #folly!”
“To avoid collusion,” says the Sgt., “Italians are to be interned now, along with...the others.”

Hank knows about the others. Farmer Schiller & his family vanished over a year ago.

“I’m a British-born servant of the queen, an allied officer!”

“And you’re Italian.”
They lead father & son to different vehicles. “Children are held at the women’s camp.”

“Wait—“ Hank’s words vaporize as he knows what has to be done. “You can’t hold him Sgt. He isn’t Italian.”

Rudy’s eyes search his for the #joke. Hank looks away.

“Rudy isn’t my son.”
Freedom gives way to famine across Europe.

Reports of the Axis powers & their prison camps circulate. Betsy ponders her own nation. She’s a small but necessary drop in the deluge of Churchill’s heroic war effort.

She shudders, grateful for the Allies & for freedom.
“We’ve news,” he says. Betsy forgets to breathe. “A boy was found in the care of an officer in Lansfordshire. We are told Rudy is the only son of a deceased Lord Derringer. Is this the child you served?”

Earth halts rotation.

“Yes,” she #answers, “the child I served.”
Rudy resides in the home of a village matron, along with children who’ve been sent away from London for safety.

Papa’s not allowed to be Papa anymore; they took him to #hell. Rudy grips his only photo of the Mum he can’t remember, & finds them both tonight in his dreams.
Betsy greets the kind widow, expressing her #intent.

“A visitor Rudy! Your nurse Betsy from the old manor.”

Perplexity crinkles the little brow.

“Hello dear boy, you mayn’t remember me & that’s alright...” Kneeling to his level she smiles in a familiar way.

Dearest Hank,
Our youthful courtship seems a lifetime ago. Now I find it was you — rescued my boy that horrific night, & have raised him as our son. I am grieved that England has #renounced you despite your faithful service. I shall not rest ‘til you are free.
Your Betsy

Betsy Love,
Your letters are life to me; I’d thought you lost to us forever. It seems now I am the lost #stray, & as our spirited PM declares, “Collar the lot!”

Conditions are poor & treatment foul— we can only hope this somehow serves the greater good.
All my love,
Betsy’s promotion from telephonist to ammunition inspector places her in the path of those with influence.

“You’ve a lover, Bets?” Asks Lilibet, a new mechanic in the ATS.

“Hank is my intended, but...”
The story flies from her lips, a #flock of pent up hopes & terrors.

“I’ve looked into the matter,” spunky Lilibet announces 1 day. “Your Henry is a brilliant intelligence officer above suspicion, & his skills are needed just now. Papa agrees.”

Betsy stares. “Who are you?“

“My given name’s also Elizabeth. I’m next in line to be #queen.”
Rudy crouches alone in Ms Daphne’s root #cellar, a barrage of confusing sounds assaulting his ears.

Now, silence— so delicate the air might snap. The door above opens slowly to an #incandescent flood & a #familiar figure.

“Where’s my brave boy?”
#vss365 #BraveWrite #ptsd
“There now,” Daphne coos, swooping in with ample, #seraphic arms. “It were only a British aero plane, love. Well, never you mind; your Pa is on his way!”

Hank watches from the village chapel nearby, weighing the #sacrifices yet to be made for king & country.
#vss365 #BraveWrite
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