Holy sweet baby Jesus. Five months? Really? Where does the time go?
Genuinely sorry for the wait but positively touched with the attention this story is still getting. I'm determined to finish this story and my interest in it has grown a little over the past couple of days, so hopefully I'll write for it more. We'll just see! Anyway, after a nice long wait – Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Own nothing.
Landa sucked in a deep breath as he sat on the porch of the quaint, French home. The flowers decorating the banisters in front of him were sweet and welcoming and very feminine, reminding him greatly of the girl he'd seen over a year ago in Germany. He'd been rather taken with the sister of his right hand man when he met her, but then again it would have been difficult not to be – she was smart, well mannered, and very beautiful. Klara was the exact type of woman that any respectable German soldier would want as a wife. He'd had half a mind to court her himself and had gone back and forth about it for a very long time. In the end, however, Landa decided he wanted her to mature more first and gain a few more life lessons before he pursued her.
Now, however, as he sat and enjoyed the view Klara Bathurst's home granted him of the small French town, he found himself not contemplating how he might go about courting her, but rather trying to figure out just what the blonde-haired beauty was up to. He suspected her greatly, which he had to admit made him quite sad, and was determined to unveil her every little secret. In the event that all of his suspicions were proven wrong, Landa would be rather relieved – if not, well…
When the clicking of heels on the sidewalk sounded through the air Landa looked up expectantly, eyeing the walkway that led up to the porch – the woman that passed by was older, a brunette, and most definitely not Klara Bathurst. He frowned to himself, wondering where the woman might be, before he stood from the bench and walked to the railing. He clasped his hands behind his back and took another deep breath, breathing in the flowers again.
One thing was for certain; if Klara Bathurst was indeed responsible for a Nazi's death and connected to the Bear Jew, Landa was going to wring her neck himself. Thinking of her possible treason and imaging her sharing a bed with the barbarian Jew sent a wave of red hot anger prickling down his spine – he allowed himself a moment to scowl before he quickly masked his growing displeasure. He had plans for Klara, plans of great magnitude, and now she may be on the brink of destroying them all. The thought disappointed him greatly, an emotion he had never thought Klara Bathurst, of all people, would be capable of making him feel.
Again, the familiar clack clack clack of heels on the sidewalk drew his attention. They slowed upon approach, making him glance to his right, and he could not help the smirk that crossed his lips when the clacking stuttered to a quick stop.
There, staring at him in surprise from the sidewalk in front of her house, was Klara Bathurst. She looked different from the last time he'd seen her; she had a bit more curve to her then he remembered, something that made her look very womanly. Her hair was longer, as well, but as she plastered on a smile and finally began to ascend the porch stairs towards him, the biggest change that he noticed was in her eyes. They looked older, wiser; far more mature then when he'd last seen her.
Pity he suspected her of treasonous acts – it would have been an absolute delight to have this fine specimen on his arm for the rest of his days.
"Hans." Klara greeted a little breathlessly. "Forgive my surprise, but I was not expecting you." She added in their native German tongue.
Even the sound of her voice was pleasing to the ear and he had to smile at her, trying to remind himself not to look too predatory. This proved a challenge all in its own – his adrenaline was beginning to pump at the thought of the chase, especially considering how utterly supple his prey was. But he wasn't here to merely visit with Klara, oh no; Landa was here to find out the truth about Fraulein Bathurst and he could not allow himself to become distracted by her. If she was involved with the Basterds the way he thought she might be, it would prove to be one of his greatest finds. The sister of a famous Nazi soldier caught aiding the Basterds?
The very thought of it made him quiver with excitement.
"I thought I would surprise you." He said in greeting, sweeping her hand up elegantly once she was close enough and breathing a kiss across the delicate skin of her knuckles. If she was uncomfortable with the gesture, she hid it well. "Did I succeed?" He asked before straightening up and grinning at her.
"You did." She admitted, putting a hand over her chest and offering him a light laugh.
"It is wonderful to see you again." Landa said, bowing to her slightly.
"And you as well, Standartenführer." Klara responded politely. "It has been a very long time indeed. Tell me, where is Kurt? His letter informed me he would arrive yesterday, but I have yet to see him." She asked, glancing around behind her for a moment as though expecting her brother to make a sudden appearance.
Landa waved off the question with a carefree smile and a shrug. "Ah, yes, I fear that is my doing. I have been keeping him preoccupied with little errands here and there. I suspect he will be dropping in on you soon enough."
"I understand. I suppose if he has to work I may let you keep him from me." She teased lightly. Landa noted happily that Klara was beginning to look a bit more at ease with his presence. The question now was whether she was genuinely relaxed or if the woman was just trying to out-act him. "Hans, you have never been in my home before, have you?"
"No, I have not. I would very much like a tour if you are willing." He said, eyeing the door expectantly.
"Of course." Klara said before moving past him and pulling her keys out to unlock the door. He watched her carefully for any signs that she wasn't being honest with him but her movements were sure and steady as she opened the door and motioned him inside.
The house seemed innocent enough. It was cozy, just big enough for one person to live comfortably, and decorated tastefully. It was obvious that only she lived here and judging by the seemingly undisturbed furnishings of the living room, she didn't appear to have visitors very often. If she was up to something, he now understood why it had taken so long for anyone to notice; Klara seemed to be leading a perfectly normal life inside her well-kept, modest home – at face value, there was absolutely no cause for suspicion. He heard her shut the door once they were both inside and turned to watch as she picked up a small flower pot and placed it in the window.
"You have a lovely home." He complimented.
"Thank you." She said before motioning towards the other rooms. "Allow me to show you the rest of the house." She offered before beginning to lead him through the home. "Through here is the study…"
As she led him through her home, Landa discovered very quickly that hunting down Jews was vastly different from hunting down Klara Bathurst's secrets. And for the first time in a long time, he wasn't completely sure what he was supposed to be looking for. Perhaps a pair of men's shoes left behind? Maybe man's clothing? He kept his eyes pealed for anything that might hint that she was first, involved with a man, and then second, if it was the Bear Jew. But even as he scrutinized every nook and cranny he passed, he knew it would be pointless; Klara was smart – the chances of her leaving discriminating evidence lying out in the open were highly unlikely.
"And finally – this is my bedroom." She finished, opening her bedroom door and letting him peek in.
The room, like the rest of the house, was decorated nicely and looked very feminine. It occurred to him that this would be the prime location for her to hide her secrets, seeing as it was her private space separated from the rest of the world, but he didn't press her to allow him into the room. This was an investigation that Landa wished to be more careful with and he had every intention of taking his time with it. "Thank you for the tour. I am very impressed with your home." He said, turning a charming smile on her.
"Thank you, Standartenführer." She said with a smile before ushering him back into the hallway and closing the door to her bedroom. "So, what brings you here this afternoon?"
He had come here to try and persuade her into joining him for a lunch meeting, one concerning a possible change in locations for the premiere of Stolz der Nation. It was his hope that the presence of Joseph Goebbels might strike a little fear into Klara's heart and unwittingly force her into giving away some of her secrets. "I actually am on my way to have lunch with some acquaintances of mine." He said casually, leaving out the fact that Goebbels would be present. "Would you be interested in joining me?" He asked, watching her steadily.
Klara immediately looked to him with regretful eyes, clicking her tongue in what appeared to be disappointment. "Unfortunately, I too have somewhere I must be soon – Le Café Magnifique, to be precise. I am meeting a friend of mine for lunch, so I am afraid I must decline."
Landa frowned in displeasure, to which she smiled innocently, but then snapped his fingers as another thought struck him. "Le Café Magnifique? Tis but a few blocks from where I am going. You shall ride with me." He said matter-of-factly, leaving no room for argument. "However, you must at least stop in to say hello to my friends. They will be most happy to make your acquaintance."
He noticed that the smile on her face faltered in just the slightest, but Klara quickly concealed it and nodded in agreement to the plan. "That is a very generous offer, Hans. Just allow me to grab my jacket."
Klara then turned to head into her bedroom and as soon as her back was to him, Landa allowed himself to bounce a bit on his heels while a triumphant smile tugged at his lips.
The ride to the restaurant was awkward and slightly terrifying but, thankfully, also short. Landa's unexpected arrival had caught her completely off guard and currently the way he was acting was a little unnerving. Everyone that encountered him knew that Landa was a fairly odd man, but she knew very well just how pompous he really was. At the moment, however, he was being incredibly nice – too nice. And it was making her feel highly uncomfortable.
"So who are your friends?" She asked once she and Landa were out of the car and being led through the restaurant. A number of German soldiers loitered about the place and eyed them as they walked past, looking for more intrigued by the sight of Hans Landa then of her. It was not the first time that she had been surrounded by men that would gladly kill her if they knew her secrets, but quite suddenly Klara could not suppress the nagging feeling that she had walked right into the lion's den.
"You shall see." Was Landa's simple response.
There was no need to wonder a moment longer – the maître d' had directed them towards a private room near the back of the restaurant and Klara immediately froze upon being presented with the sight of Fredrick Zoller, two women (one who had her back turned to her and the other being no one she recognized) and the one and only Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Her eyes widened and she suddenly had to gulp past a large lump that had formed in her throat. When Landa had told her they would be visiting friends of his, she'd thought maybe they would be other officers or something of that sort – not once had she considered the possibility that it would be Goebbels.
"Ah, Landa! You are here!" Goebbels said with excitement, welcoming him grandly. "And such a beautiful lady on your arm. Come! Join us! This is the lady in question." He informed them, motioning to the blonde woman who wasn't facing them.
Klara couldn't bring herself to fully step into the room until Landa placed hand on her back and gently pushed her forward. She was positively frightened to be in the presence of these people and the touch of Landa's hand made her skin crawl, but she quickly masked it when she remembered that she needed to keep herself together. Klara stood obediently by Landa's side, nodding in greeting to those sitting at the table, including the Gestapo officer that she spotted off to the side now that she was fully in the room. Goebbels was eyeing her a bit perversely as Landa leaned over to greet the blonde-haired woman but Klara merely smiled politely at him before directing her attention to the other blonde she had yet to see the face of.
It required all of her self-control not to start at the sight of Shoshanna. Her friend looked just as bemused at the sight of her for a moment but covered it quickly, inclining her head towards her in greeting – Klara hoped that her unaffected mask was as convincing as Shoshanna's and returned the gesture. While Landa and Zoller took the moment to greet each other, Klara took advantage of their distraction to do a sweep of the table with her eyes, suddenly acutely aware that if any man at this table learned of what she did or of Shoshanna's true identity that they would both be dead.
Quite suddenly, Klara found herself fighting the urge to vomit.
"Tell me, what is your name?" Goebbels asked, gaining her attention when he stood from his chair so he could grab her hand and press a kiss to it.
Pulling herself together for the second time, she flashed him a bright smile. "Klara Bathurst, herr Goebbels." She introduced.
The man's eyes widened at once. "Are you to tell me I have the sister of another war hero standing before me?" He asked in excitement. "This is too much! Far too much! Landa, what a wonderful surprise you have brought to me." He then motioned the waiter over and ordered her a glass of wine as well as another drink for himself. "This is cause for another round! Sit! Sit!"
"I really cannot stay – " Klara piped up, hoping her regretful tone sounded convincing.
"Nonsense." Goebbels cut her off, practically forcing her down into the chair Zoller had vacated.
"Pardon me, herr Goebbels, but you have another meeting." The dark haired woman said once Goebbels had reclaimed his seat. "We cannot linger much longer."
"Nonsense, I wish to speak with the woman." He scowled at her sternly. The woman moved back, having obviously been put in her place, and pressed her lips together tightly. Goebbels turned back towards Klara and smiled winningly, completely focused on her now. "Tell me, how is your brother fairing?" He asked her interestedly.
Klara was terrified to be talking to him but could see no way to get out of this quick conversation. She glanced over at Landa but he only flashed her an innocent looking smile. The moment made the flame of suspicion flare within her – had he brought her here on purpose to try and scare her? Or was he merely trying to impress her? "My brother is well, the last I heard." She finally answered Goebbels, turning her eyes back to him. "I do not get to correspond with him nearly as often as I would like." She added as an afterthought, feigning disappointment at that fact. "I hope he will call on me sometime today, though…assuming Hans finally allows him a day of freedom."
"Very good, very good." Goebbels said with a nod. "And will you both be attending the premiere?"
"Yes." Landa answered for her. "She and Kurt both will. I will see to it myself."
Klara forced a smile on and nodded. "Yes, I can only imagine the lengths you might endure in order to see that we are present." She teased, putting on her best acting job and reaching over to place a hand on Landa's arm. He glanced down at her hand before giving her another smile, tilting his head at her as the occupants of the table chuckled. She couldn't be sure if Landa was suspicious of her, but if he was then she vowed right then that she was going to make his interrogation as difficult as possible.
"Well, I shall assume then that Hans will be the lucky one to have you on his arm?" Goebbels asked, raising his eyebrows a tick. "Or is there another that would be so proud to call you his?"
Goebbels' prying, and his obvious interest, made her fight back a gag and she was very happy when their drinks arrived in the next moment. "There is no man, I am afraid. So yes, I suppose I will be on Hans' arm." She answered before taking a hearty drink of her wine.
"There is not?" Landa spoke up, catching her attention again. "I thought I heard your brother speak of someone…a fellow named Emmerich, I believe. What became of him?"
It was as though all of the air had been sucked out of the room the instant that Emmerich's name slipped past Landa's lips. Klara could have sworn that her heart had stopped beating, Shoshanna's eyes went wide and her entire body rigid from where she sat, and all the while Landa continued to smile at Klara with nothing but innocence on his face. "Y-yes." Klara forced out, nodding slowly. "But I have not seen him for a long while now. Perhaps…perhaps he lost interest."
Landa's smile widened. "I find that hard to believe."
"Well, whoever this Emmerich is, he is a fool." Goebbels piped up with a clap of his hands, making Klara jump and finally tear her gaze away from Landa's. "Do not worry over him, there will be plenty more suitors to come." He added, flashing her what he probably thought was a charming smile but only succeeding in immediately making her feel disgusted.
"I really must apologize." The woman next to Landa cut in once again. "But I need to get the Reich Minister to his next appointment."
"Oh fine. Slave driver!" Goebbels shouted good-naturedly. "French slave driver!"
"I must be going as well." Klara said, trying to ignore all of the anxiety she was feeling right then and pushing up from the seat. She paused to flash Goebbels a polite smile as he grabbed her hand to kiss it again but inwardly cringed when his eyes raked over her form quite conspicuously. "It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance – all of you." She added.
"And you as well. I look forward to seeing you at the premiere, Fraulein Bathurst." He said before moving to leave.
His interpreter eyed her with distaste for a moment, to which Klara simply quirked an eyebrow in her direction. The woman only offered a polite, albeit forced, smile and headed for the door on the arm of Goebbels. Landa was now having a quick conversation with Zoller in their native German and Klara took advantage of his distraction to chance a look towards Shoshanna, who did not speak German and had no idea what was going on. Then she flashed her a quick but encouraging smile, even though it required a lot of willpower to do so just then.
"Hans," Goebbels voice caught Klara's attention again and she shifted her gaze back to the group of Germans by the door. "The boy means no harm, he's simply smitten." He told Landa good-naturedly. "And he's correct – your reputation does proceed you." But then he turned a grin on Zoller and slapped his back. "As long as Hans has that beauty on his arm, I believe you have no need to worry." He told the younger German even as he shot a leering look towards Klara.
"There is no need for concern." Landa assured Zoller, quirking an eyebrow at Goebbels. "As security chief, I simply need to have a chat with the possible new venue's property owner."
Zoller first looked at Landa then glanced down at Shoshanna uncertainly. "I was just hoping to escort Mademoiselle Mimieux back to her cinema..."
Goebbels shook his head with a laugh. "Nonsense. You can eat ice cream and walk along the Sienne another time. Right now, allow Colonel Landa to do his job." He urged.
With that Goebbels, his interpreter, Zoller, and the Gestapo office took their leave. She noticed that the officer cast one last lingering look at her as he left but brushed it off, forcing on a smile as she stepped up to Landa. The last thing Klara wanted to do was leave Shoshanna alone with Hans Landa but she simply could not bring herself to be in his company for one moment longer –he'd been acting oddly around her all day, had forced her into the company of Goebbels, then had mentioned Emmerich. If that wasn't enough to convince her that he was suspicious of her then she didn't know what would. And though there was no way of knowing for sure whether Landa was aware that he had two of his enemies right underneath his nose at that exact moment, Klara didn't particularly want to stick around and find out.
"Standartenführer, always a pleasure." She said, taking his hand coolly and allowing him to kiss the top of it again. "Let us hope our next meeting allows us time to properly enjoy each other's company, yes?"
"Of course." He agreed. "I shall see you again before the premiere."
"Wonderful." Klara said before glancing down at Shoshanna. "Mademoiselle." She said in parting before smiling at Landa and pulling her hand from his. "Good day."
She'd never high-tailed it out of a restaurant so fast in her life. Had it not been entirely improper, Klara would have full out run away from Landa and Shoshanna. But since the eyes of numerous German soldiers were locked on her again as she made her exit, Klara simply tried to keep her breathing under control and strode quickly out of the restaurant with her chin jutted into the air. As soon as she was on the street however, the German headed for the nearest alley – where she promptly leaned heavily against the wall and dropped her face into her shaking hands, fighting against the urge to cry.
It had been her best acting job not to show how utterly frightened she had been for the past five minutes but she wasn't sure what was causing her the most distress – Landa's strange behavior, the fact that he knew about Emmerich, or Goebbels' obvious interest. Why in the world had Landa gone out of his way to introduce her to Joseph Goebbels? How much did he know about Emmerich? And why did she feel like an ant underneath Hans Landa's boot?
Something strange was definitely happening with Landa, that much was for certain, and if he had somehow managed to find out her secrets she desperately wanted to know how. She scowled to herself in frustration and shook her head, thinking about everything that had been happening over the past few months – she and Donny should have been more careful about their meetings, she should have tried harder to conceal herself when heading out to the rendezvous into of just waltzing around in dark clothes and hoping no one was around. Anyone could have spotted Donny coming in and out of her house on his numerous visits and she had to berate herself. How could they have both been so careless?
Klara took a steadying breath to calm the storm of thoughts in her head and finally pushed herself away from the wall. Once she'd collected herself again, she smoothed out the invisible wrinkles from her clothes and then turned to the streets, only sparing the restaurant another glance before hurrying away. She absolutely hated herself for leaving Shoshanna behind and vowed to make it up to her friend as soon as she could, but right then there were more important matters to be handled. Landa may know what Klara had been doing in France all this time and if he did then Donny needed to be informed straight away.
Because if Landa had figured out all of her dirty little secrets, then they both needed to prepare themselves for whatever storm awaited them.
Thoughts? It wasn't totally crap was it?
BTW, what a cop-out with the café's name, lol. I couldn't come up with anything better.