Author’s Notes: This fic was in response to the Papa Eberbach challenge on Fried-Potatoes.

Until Aioke-san tells us otherwise, I have gone with the fanon consensus of Heinz as being the Elder Eberbach’s first name. In book 33, the butler is identified as Conrad Hinkle. I have used that name within.

By Margaret Price

It had been a hellish month, there was no getting around it, Heinz reflected darkly. Even the horrors of war were preferable to the emotional roller coaster that had ended in the death of his beloved wife. Now, here he was, all alone in the world.

Well, not quite alone. He had his son to think about now, as if he hadn’t been doing that enough already. When his wife place Klaus in his butler’s hands, charging him to look after the boy, Heinz almost collapsed into tears. Almost. He had to be strong, although he knew Klaus was much too young to remember any of this.

Heinz stood in the doorway of the nursery, watching as Conrad, his butler, struggled to change the boy’s diapers. What a pair we make, he thought with a sigh. A bachelor and a retired tank commander trying to raise a child. It was almost laughable.

As time passed, Heinz watched his son grow; strong and healthy, if slightly quick tempered. Even in Kindergarten, Klaus was already showing signs of being a natural leader. When he was sent off to Gymnasium, Heinz knew he did not have to tell him to do his best, but did so anyway. He needed to underscore the importance of study in the boy’s mind. He also wanted to hug his son and tell him how proud he was, but that would’ve shown weakness on his part. No. He had to be strong.

Later, Heinz received reports from the head of the school, some good, some bad. Klaus excelled in all his classes, but had an affinity for fighting. Heinz contacted the school after the first reported fistfight, wondering how badly his son had been injured. He was glad the person on the other end of the line couldn’t see him grinning when he learned that Klaus had suffered nothing worse than a bloody nose, while putting the others into the infirmary.

During the first school break, when Klaus returned home, Heinz sat the boy down and attempted to be disapproving when he asked him about the fighting. Klaus unrepentantly explained his actions and the punishment he had received from Sister Teresa. Heinz found the punishment amusing, although he did not let it show. He stressed that Klaus should concentrate on his studies so he could be a good citizen and upright man of morals instead of a bully who took advantage of those who could not defend themselves.

Later, Heinz wondered what he had said during this conversation that turned his son into the protector of his fellow underclassmen. The infamous West Hall Klaus, whose very name struck fear in the hearts of every bully in the area. Better that than being the bully himself, I suppose, Heinz though resignedly. Obviously his son had taken the high moral standards of the church to heart, and there was no arguing that the grades of the boy who was very quickly becoming a man were exemplary. The top of his class, in fact.

Then Klaus entered the military and excelled in this as well, very quickly rising in rank. Later, he moved into NATO intelligence and was put in charge of his own unit, much to his father’s approval. West Hall Klaus gave birth to Iron Klaus in a job that challenged his mind and took full advantage of his natural abilities.

Finally, Heinz decided that it was time to retire to Switzerland to write him memoirs. Klaus had little trouble taking over as head of the family. His father left the Schloss, secure in the knowledge that the von dem Eberbach line was in good hands. Eventually, Klaus would marry and the line would carry on, just as it always had.

Heinz was certain of this.

So…why was he suddenly waiting for the other shoe to drop?