Author's note: It was about time for a language kink!fic in this fandom, and Landa and Hellstrom are just the perfect characters for this. The fic itself is in English, but parts of the dialogue are in French and German; the English translation can be found at the bottom of the page.
La Musica delle Parole
Hellstrom was leaning back comfortably, one slender hand resting on his glass of champagne. He hardly seemed to be listening to the conversation going on at the table - Colonel Hans Landa interrogating one of their French informants. There were more than a few Parisians who were quite willing to collaborate with the Germans if it meant not being harassed by the occupying forces and often even payment, either in money or in goods.
The man had nothing interesting to tell this week, no revealing rumours about hiding Jews or members of the résistance. He was sweating, and stammering, and obviously uncomfortable sitting at a table with two of the most influential Nazis in the city. His French was chopped off, uncultured, tainted by some accent that Hellstrom suspected to be Norman, but his ear for French accents was by far less accurate than for German. But even a first-year French student would have realised that this man's French, though his native language, was but a meek shadow of the music that flowed from Landa's lips.
Hellstrom avoided speaking French as much as possible. His vocabulary and grammar were flawless, but his accent wasn't, and a man like Dieter Hellstrom went for nothing less than perfect. Also, he had soon realised that the rumour that he didn't speak French was quite advantageous for a Gestapo officer. It was amazing what people gave away when they believed you couldn't understand them.
Another advantage was that nobody expected him to participate in the conversation, and he happily turned all his attention to listening. He didn't think the French language had ever sounded as beautiful as when spoken by Hans Landa. It wasn't only his accent - so light it didn't give away his origins, and yet there, a softness that French usually lacked. It was his voice, always so cultured. His face, his perfect choice of words. For somebody who was as obsessed with languages as Hellstrom, listening to Hans Landa was better than going to the opera.
"Je vous remercie pour votre coopération, Monsieur Gévier, bien que j'espère que vous aurez un peu plus à me dire la semaine prochaine." He smiled that perfectly charming, polite smile. The one that should look nice, but that made most people shudder uncomfortably. "Je vous souhaite une bonne soirée. Au revoir." (1)
"Au revoir, Colonel," (2) the Frenchman stammered. He half stumbled over his chair when he got up, and almost ran out of the secluded booth the three had shared in the small café.
"Alors, que pensez-vous ?" (3) Landa turned to Hellstrom. He laughed when the Gestapo officer raised an eyebrow as if he didn't understand.
"Ach, kommen Sie schon, Dieter. Sie erwarten doch nicht ernsthaft, dass ich nach Wochen der Zusammenarbeit immer noch glaube, Sie könnten kein Französisch. Ganz so unfähig ist die Leitung der Gestapo dann doch nicht. Donc, que pensez-vous ?" (4)
Hellstrom shouldn't be surprised. He really shouldn't. There was a reason he admired Landa so much - not many people could meet someone of Hellstrom's intellectual abilities eye to eye, and even fewer could actually outthink him. It was a nice change for once. And, right now, he was almost grateful that Landa had switched back to French … because the only thing more beguiling than Landa's flawless French was his German.
"Je pense que cet homme est aussi honnête que stupide," Hellstrom said, and he managed to hide his own dissatisfaction with his accent. If Landa's smile was any indication, he seemed to like it. "C'est une combinaison très utile pour nous, je dirais." (5)
"Sie nehmen mir die Worte aus dem Mund, Dieter. Und ich wusste doch, dass Sie es können." (6)
Hellstrom was by now feeling a lot less comfortable than minutes ago. He had had years to perfect his self-control, to hide his thoughts in every situation, and especially when he was feeling this intolerable, sick kind of attraction to anyone. He had joined both the SS and the Gestapo in 1934, right after completing law school. And even among his Gestapo colleagues, some of whom were trained to recognise and arrest homosexuals, no one had ever so much as suspected him.
But then again, Hellstrom had never been as attracted to anyone as to Hans Landa. And Landa also happened to be the most observant, perspicacious person he had ever met. Why on Earth did that man appeal to every soft spot in Hellstrom? His accent, this musical Vienna German, was one of the most beautiful accents Hellstrom had ever heard in his life. Whoever thought German was a rough, brutish language had apparently never heard Hans Landa. Dieter Hellstrom would give much to hear this man read Goethe. Although, he'd better not, he would probably end up on his knees.
"Dieter? Bekommt Ihnen der Champagner nicht? Sie sehen ja ganz blass aus." (7) It was one of Landa's many talents to sound genuinely concerned and worried whenever he wanted to. But Hellstrom was quite an observant man himself, and he didn't miss the tiny twinkle in Landa's eyes that gave him away, that showed that he knew, as always, more than he was admitting. He had this certain look on his face that said, and the English expression was really the only fitting one, "Gotcha!"
"Entschuldigen Sie, Herr Standartenführer, ich bin wohl ein wenig müde. Es ist schon spät; sofern Sie meine Hilfe nicht weiter benötigen, würde ich gerne gehen." (8)
It was a perfectly reasonable excuse. It was indeed getting late, and they had stayed up late last night, finishing reports together. Landa's task required close cooperation with the Gestapo, and the commandant of the Gestapo in Paris had thought that Landa and Hellstrom would get along well. If Hellstrom wasn't so sure that his … deviation was a well-kept secret, he would have thought that his superior had played a cruel joke on him by assigning him to probably the most charming member of the SS.
Hans Landa hadn't become such a good detective by accepting perfectly reasonable, but nonetheless false excuses. When Hellstrom started to get up, Landa grabbed his wrist, quick as a snake. But although the touch made Hellstrom shudder involuntarily, it was Landa's eyes and his voice that made him sit back down.
"Ich glaube nicht, dass Sie wirklich gehen wollen, mein Lieber." (9)
Before Hellstrom could gather his wits enough to reply Landa leant over to him, grabbing his chin with his free hand. The privacy of the booth, pleasant until now, was suddenly almost frightening. They had chosen this place for the meeting with their informant precisely because nobody else in the café could see or hear what was going on. Hellstrom got over his shock in a matter of seconds. Years of obedience kept him from pushing a superior officer away, but the anger was all too visible in his eyes.
"Ich habe nicht die geringste Ahnung, wovon Sie sprechen, Standartenführer," (10) he hissed, and he could only pray that neither his voice nor his eyes betrayed what Landa's closeness was doing to him. Landa only smiled, and his gaze strayed for a split second downwards, in the general direction of one part even Dieter Hellstrom's iron self-control couldn't keep in check.
"Vous savez très bien de quoi je parle." (11) The hard grasp on Hellstrom's chin turned into a gentle caress, strong fingers stroking over a clean-shaved cheek.
"Ich finde diese Unterstellung ungeheuerlich," (12) Hellstrom snapped and tried once again to get up, but this time Landa pushed him down roughly, with more strength than one might have expected from a man his age.
"Das ist wirklich ein interessanter kleiner Fetisch, den Sie da haben, Herr Sturmbannführer," Landa said in this nonchalant, friendly voice, the one he used in interrogations, the one that sounded like he was really just prattling about the weather. The contrast to Hellstrom's own, clipped pronunciation, as cold and efficient as his thoughts, only made Landa's accent seem more unbearably beautiful. "Wie lange dachten Sie denn, dass Sie das vor mir verstecken können?" (13)
Hellstrom remained silent. He was caught like a mouse in a trap, and he knew there was no way out. He had waited for something like this to happen all his life, ever since he had realised what was wrong with him. There was no way to get rid of Landa, and since Landa was the higher-ranking officer, nobody would believe Hellstrom's word over his.
"Sie zittern ja fast," (14) Landa continued after a few moments, still smiling. "Well, what's that nice English expression? Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill?"
And Hellstrom moaned. He simply couldn't help himself. It was more a gasp than a moan, actually, but it was audible enough. And there he had thought things couldn't possibly get worse. He had had no idea that Landa spoke English on top of everything.
He closed his eyes when Landa's hand kept caressing his cheek, cool fingers brushing heated skin. Hellstrom's bottom lip trembled, and he was closer to panic than he had ever been in his whole life. He realised for the first time how he himself made people feel most of the time, and only now he fully understood the break-downs, the crying and begging he had seen - and caused - in interrogations. But even in his fear he clung to his pride and stubbornness, or else he would probably have started sobbing himself.
Landa's thumb brushed Hellstrom's bottom lip, and another helpless gasp escaped his lips. Even in his panic the touch was electrifying and almost too much to bear. His body soaked up the caresses it had always been denied, desperate to be finally touched after a life of abstinence. And Landa's hand never wavered, it kept touching him while the other one was still holding Hellstrom's unresisting wrist.
He seemed to be enjoying himself, for when Hellstrom opened his eyes after what seemed an eternity to him, there was still the same amused smile on Landa's face. It was the most terrifying thing Hellstrom had ever seen.
"Bitte, Herr Standartenführer," (14) he started to plead, and fear forced the words out of his mouth even though he knew it was hopeless. Landa's index finger moved quickly to Dieter's lips and hushed him.
Something was wrong, Hellstrom realised. This wasn't the look Landa usually had on his face when he had caught someone, when he was about to call in his men to take over and kill or arrest his target. It was still the look of a predator who was toying with his prey, not of one who was about to finish it.
Yet Hellstrom couldn't figure what Landa was planning. The usual procedure would be to have him arrested by the Gestapo, who would interrogate and probably torture him - even more so in the case of a former colleague who had betrayed them - and then send him to a concentration camp. Hellstrom was feeling sick when he tried to imagine what both the other inmates and the supervisors of a camp would do to a homosexual ex-Gestapo. His only hope was that Landa could find some shred of mercy in his heart and simply shoot him, but he knew better than anybody that the 'Jew Hunter' was many things, but not merciful.
"Worauf warten Sie denn noch?" (16) Hellstrom snapped after another endless minute had passed in silence. His usually so controlled voice cracked. The tension was almost tearing him apart, and he was close to grabbing his own gun and shooting himself. Maybe that was what Landa wanted.
Mock surprise appeared on Landa's face, and he suddenly retreated. He sat back in his chair, straightening his uniform with infuriating calm, and smiled.
"Was sollte ich denn Ihrer Meinung nach tun? Das ist doch außerhalb meiner Zuständigkeit, und ich werde bestimmt nicht Ihren Kollegen die Arbeit wegnehmen." (17)
Hellstrom's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. He reminded himself that Landa was only toying with him, waiting to set him up. Landa's eyes gleamed knowingly when he continued in English, crushing the last bits of control Hellstrom had left.
"I believe you were tired, Dieter? I really do not want to deprive you of your well-deserved rest any longer. Get a good night's sleep, you look like you need it."
Hellstrom just kept staring at him. It took him a few moments to understand what Landa had said, as if his mind was too numb to process a foreign language. But as often as he turned the words in his head, he always came to the same result - Landa was letting him go.
Both men were looking each other in the eyes, smug self-confidence meeting paralysing fear, and as so often in the past few weeks, this one look was enough to understand each other. To understand that Hellstrom's fate was in Landa's hands, that one word would be enough to end not only his career, but also his life, that only Landa's good will stood between Hellstrom and a handful of Gestapo men on his doorstep. That he could destroy Hellstrom, but decided not to because he was much more useful alive and at his mercy than dead or imprisoned. For the moment.
Hellstrom took a deep breath and slowly stood up. His fingers were cramped when he took his cap, and he hardly managed to keep them from trembling. He clacked his heels, but the movement lacked its usual vim. His face had turned back into a mask of calm control, even though he knew too well that he couldn't fool Landa.
"Herr Standartenführer." His voice was flat and strained, but his eyes widened when Landa got up as well and closed the distance between them. Hellstrom felt a strong hand on his upper arm, and Landa's smile was suddenly uncomfortably close to his face.
"Bonne nuit, Dieter. Reposez-vous bien." (18) With these words Landa leant forward and breathed a soft kiss on Hellstrom's right cheek, then on the other. The French goodbye. It would have been an innocent gesture, if Hellstrom had been capable of innocent thoughts with Landa's breath brushing his skin.
He stumbled backwards when his arm was released. His steps were shaky and weak, like those of a mouse after the cat had delivered the first playful blow. Even as he left the booth he couldn't bring himself to take his eyes off that smiling face, and he knew that this cat wasn't done toying with its prey.
1 Thank you for your cooperation, Mister Gévier, although I hope that you will have more to tell me next week. I wish you a nice evening. Goodbye.
2 Goodbye, Colonel.
3 So, what do you think?
4 Come on, Dieter. You don't really expect me to believe, after weeks of team work, that you don't speak French. Even the administration of the Gestapo isn't that incompetent. So, what do you think?
5 I think this man is as honest as he is stupid. I'd say that's a very useful combination for us.
6 You're taking the words out of my mouth, Dieter. And I knew you could speak French.
7 Dieter? Does the champagne make you sick? You are very pale.
8 I am sorry, Colonel, I suppose I'm a bit tired. It's late; if you don't need my assistance anymore, I'd like to leave.
9 I don't think you really want to leave.
10 I have no idea what you are talking about, Colonel.
11 You know very well what I'm talking about.
12 That's an outrageous accusation.
13 That's an interesting little fetish you've got there, Major. How long did you think you could hide that from me?
14 You're almost trembling.
15 Please, Colonel.
16 What are you still waiting for?
17 What do you think I should do? This is clearly out of my reference, and I'm certainly not going to do your colleagues' work.
18 Good night, Dieter. Rest well.