“Margot is abrasive and unstable,” Will warns Alana at her unofficial therapy session. “She washed out of field agency on a domestic violence case, not to mention her psych eval and the emotional sponge that is her brain.”
Alana accepts the tumbler of bourbon from him as he sits down across from her. “I don’t know that you’re qualified to pass judgment, considering the circumstances of your own retirement.”
“From psychiatry, Lana, not from a career with a gun,” says Will, pushing his glasses up his nose, refusing to meet her eyes, scowling as he takes a sip from his own drink.
The phone in her office rings, and Applesauce barks at it, as she always does when Alana’s mentor calls.
“My husband tells me you’ve been inquiring after Margot Verger,” Hannibal says over the cacophony of the surgical ward.
Alana reclines on the chaise lounge, resting her leg; it hasn’t been the same since her fall. “Jack brought her to my attention. He wants to use her on a case.”
“A Verger of the Virginia Vergers?” Alana asks Jack. “An odd career for a woman from a commercial empire.”
Jack leans forward, arms crossed on his desk. “Control of said empire isn’t in the cards for her.” He pauses before adding, “And I think there are certain...complications between her and her brother, Mason.”
After three renditions of her character and past, here Margot stands in Jack’s office. Alana didn’t anticipate her strong air of composure, nor had she expected Margot to wear a plaid flannel shirt tucked into a frumpy pair of khakis. Margot smells like horses and hay and grass; her eyes are defiant, painted with the glare of the existentially angry; she chooses her words carefully—not to attack, but to defend.
“I’m not interested in therapy.”
But Alana is interested in her.
Alana doesn’t hunt as regularly since her injury, but for Margot, she’ll make an exception. Margot is intelligent beyond measure, her mind remarkable, ripe for shaping, and in need of guidance. Cassie Boyle fights Alana until her last breath, an unwilling sacrifice for the cause. Hefting her onto the rack of antlers takes the wind out of Alana’s lungs, too.
Luckily, she’s harvested a fresh set.
Cooking has never been Alana’s forte, no matter how often she played sous chef for Hannibal during med school. She can use a meat grinder, however, and case sausages; chop vegetables and scramble eggs.
Margot answers the hotel door bleary-eyed, clad only in boxers and a sports bra. “You brought me breakfast?”
“For both of us,” Alana replies, mouth painfully dry, “if you’ll have me in.”
Garret Jacob Hobbs’ daughter picks up when she calls.
“Can I speak to your dad?” asks Alana, watching Margot though the office window. Alana tightens her grip on her cane, steeling herself—she’s never spoken to another killer before.
“They know who you are,” she tells him, then immediately hangs up, wondering if she and Margot will wind up at the scene of a bloodbath.
It can’t be helped; Alana has to wake Margot up, and arranging such a situation is the most expedient way.
Margot stands frozen in the kitchen, shocked and shaking, watching as the father dies and the daughter bleeds out on the floor. “Save her,” she whispers as Alana shoves her way around her, dropping to her knees beside the girl, heedless of the blood staining her checked pantsuit, ignoring the pain shooting up her leg.
She clamps her hand over the gash, praying to the god that collapses churches—if the daughter dies, Margot might never recover, never realize her potential.
After she’s been loaded into the ambulance, Alana looks at Margot, splattered with blood spray. Margot stares back, eyes swirling with confusion as Alana had hoped they would.
“I told you and Jack both to be careful with her,” Will snaps as he and Alana watch Margot sleep on the small couch across from Abigail Hobbs’ hospital bed. “I’ve known her since college—she’s not equipped to handle shit like this because she gets too attached to the victims.”
“Yeah, well.” Will has nothing further to say, and they continue to stand vigil over the room.
Alana meets Margot at the hospital on the day Abigail wakes up; Margot’s arm is in a sling, and make-up poorly covers a bruise on her cheek. It ignites a fire in Alana’s gut, confirms her suspicions about the nature of the relationship between Margot and Mason.
They share a moment of silence, eyes met and stuck, but Alana does her the courtesy of not commenting, and Margot dips her head in thanks.
“Do you know who I am?” Margot asks Abigail as Alana takes Margot’s coat off of her shoulders for her.
“You’re the woman who killed my father,” Abigail replies, and Alana’s heart breaks.
Abigail understands too much already—a liability, and one Alana can’t remove, because they share an uncommon trait, she and Alana and Margot: the ability to thrive under impossible circumstances, never mind the drive to kill.
But it’s Abigail who murders first, not Margot. Alana bashes Hannibal’s head against the wall on her way downstairs, following Nicholas Boyle, having intended on saving Abigail by killing him. Blood drips from Abigail’s hands, face painted with innocent horror, as though she hadn’t been as culpable as her father in his crimes.
Alana helps her hide his body, and hopes Hannibal survives the occupational hazard of following Jack Crawford to a case.
“It doesn’t make sense.” Margot sits in Alana’s office, arm and face healed, perched on the edge of her chair. “Why would Nicholas Boyle kill Marissa Shurr, not to mention his sister?”
“Siblings have been killing each other off since Cain and Abel.”
The blood drains from Margot’s face, and she leaves fifteen minutes before the end of her appointment.
This may have been a mistake, Alana decides as she and Abigail destroy her kitchen in a blazed attempt at making pancakes. Hannibal and Will are coming to dinner, and Abigail refused to smoke if Alana didn’t, so here they are, high beyond reason, existing in a shared stupor.
“Your psychiatric practices have always been unorthodox,” says Hannibal, sleeves rolled up, cooking so they don’t have to eat a burnt breakfast.
“Seems fine to me,” and Will giggles around the joint in his mouth.
The lamb is delicious.
“There’s something wrong with me,” Margot confides in her. “I’m losing time; I wake up wandering around outside in the middle of the night; sometimes I see him—Hobbs, I mean, like a shadow I can’t shake.”
“Stress can have strange effects on the body, both physical and mental.”
“I’m afraid, Dr. Bloom.” She stares down into her glass of wine and asks, “What if I like killing someone in my sleep as much as I did when I was awake in that goddamn kitchen?”
Alana has never been a fan of the opera, but she does enjoy Hannibal’s company; since Will inevitably refuses to accompany him, Alana stands in as Hannibal’s plus-one. He home brews the tastiest, smoothest beer, and never fails to reward her for joining him.
This evening, however, no amount of complimentary alcohol can make up for running into her least favorite patient. Franklyn’s friend, Tobias, doesn’t smell like cheese, thankfully—a musician, Franklyn happily tells her, and the owner of a string shop.
Alana may not know much about music, but she knows a psychopath when she sees one.
“I kissed Frederick Chilton,” Margot says in a rush, speech faster than her pace through Alana’s door. “I’m gay— God, why did I kiss him, I’m gay and he’s gay, but I just...he seemed stable, and the world was spinning out of control, and—”
“Your previous psychiatrist came by for a visit?”
“We ran into each other at the hospital, and then we went out for coffee—I didn’t want to go home, not yet—and I kissed him, and then I panicked and left and came here.”
Hannibal and Will and Tobias—for she knew better than to have Tobias over by himself—are long forgotten in the dining room; all that matters is Margot finding her safety here, in Alana’s embrace.
She had thought Margot would win, had counted on her overpowering Tobias, on cornering him, on surprising him. But the evidence of Margot’s loss lies dead here in Alana’s office, and she’s not sure how to spin this into self-defense when pieces of Tobias’ head are ground into the antique rug, blood on both ends of her favored cane, Franklyn equally deceased across the room, his neck snapped.
The possibility of being committed to Dr. Du Maurier’s facility hardly matters if Margot is—
They kiss as soon as Jack and the techs leave, Margot pressing the lies she wove to save Alana off her own lips, and Alana swallowing Margot’s devotion like rare, wild honey.
“I was the lure,” Abigail tells her before dinner once Margot and the Lecter-Grahams have left for the dining room. “I helped him and led them to their deaths, but I didn’t know the rest of it, I swear.”
“The rest of it?” asks Alana, holding her surrogate daughter in her arms.
“That we were eating them, and that he had parts of them strewn all over the house, and it’s so fucked up that I still love him and miss him, because it makes me a monster, too.”
“I know monsters, darling, and I promise, you aren’t one,” and Alana thinks of the roast on the table, feeling truly guilty about her own hunting for the first time.
“We are her mothers now,” Alana tells Margot outside of Abigail’s room, leaving after a mostly pleasant visit. Margot had lied to their almost-legal daughter, telling her killing was ugly, Alana knowing her potential protégé better. She hasn’t told Margot about her own extracurricular activities, however; Alana’s uncertain of Margot’s reaction to discovering her lover is both the Chesapeake Ripper and the Copycat Killer.
“How do you feel about adopting a killer and a cannibal?” Freddie Lounds asks, ambushing them on the way to Alana’s car.
Margot scowls as she says, “I wouldn’t anger someone who thinks about death every day and has the money to get away with whatever she wants.”
Alana fucks her for the first time in her office, against the ladder, Margot clinging to the rungs. She pants out little high-pitched moans with every thrust of the strap-on, legs locked around Alana’s waist, her cunt hot and wet as it rubs Alana’s skin. The room smells like sex and the scent of Margot’s body lotion, Alana’s nose pressed into her neck as she sucks bruises over the ones left by Mason.
Her love doesn’t seem to matter enough for Margot to try and escape her brother’s tyranny; Alana begs her to escape, to come to her, and Margot says she has to go home.
Margot is hers, even as she walks away with tears in her eyes, and Alana knows she will save her, no matter the cost.
She figures it out, both Alana’s secret identity and the composition of her food. Their first fight ends with Margot’s hand against Alana’s cheek. Margot storms out of the house, away from the confrontation, and Alana chokes on her betrayal, on her adoration of her personal Judas.
The gears whirl in her head, clanking and groaning, a terrible cacophony of rage and grief as Alana plans Margot’s downfall.
It’s the only way to protect Abigail, herself, and, most importantly, Margot.
Abigail sacrifices her ear willingly—she’d do anything for Alana, for her mother. The house on the bluff hides Abigail away from the world, and she lives there while the FBI fruitlessly hunts for her body.
Alana sobs as she stuffs it down Margot’s drugged throat, because this is the light of her life, her beloved, the only person who ever made her feel truly whole.
“What have you done?” Margot asks in the Hobbs’ kitchen, gun trembling in her hand.
Alana knows she deserves to die, but Margot misses, and Alana hates the bubble of satisfaction watching Jack shoot Margot brings her.
She did too good a job framing Margot for all her crimes. Even killing the judge wasn’t enough to placate Margot, but Alana revels in the murderer she’s awakened, facing her own death beside a swimming pool, toes barely balanced on the metal bucket the orderly placed beneath the noose.
Did Christ feel like this? Alana wonders, wrists aching from the nails of her crucifixion. Did he gain satisfaction when he looked down at the crowd and saw the faith he’d inspired there?
She’s almost disappointed when Jack and Hannibal rescue her.
Freddie Lounds deserved better, her death regrettable, but necessary. The glass display at the planetarium murders Alana’s leg; she can’t deny the beauty of it, though, the irony, to expose a woman who sought to expose everyone else.
This should secure Margot’s release—this, and the discovery of Miriam Lass. Alana decides to frame Frederick Chilton; he’d kissed Margot first, which is unforgivable.
It drove her to you, Alana’s brain reminds her, but she dismisses the thought.
Here they are, she and Margot, in a kitchen again, a gun pointed at Alana—the same one as before, she thinks, and she appreciates the poetry.
“Tell me why,” demands Margot, and her arms and voice are steadier than they’ve ever been.
“You refused to save yourself from a world of torment,” Alana says, walking forward, burying the muzzle of the gun against her breast. “You put your ethics before the safety of our family—of Abigail, and yes, she’s alive—and you denied yourself every kind of freedom when you did so.”
A tear slips down Margot’s cheek, and she bites her bottom lip hard enough to bleed as she backs away and lowers the gun.
Alana makes love to Margot the night they kill Randall Tier, leads her upstairs and fingers her to ecstasy over and over, lowers her mouth to suck Margot’s clit and drink her down. Margot’s bandaged hands trail down Alana’s back, her nails stabbing into Alana’s skin with each orgasm.
“I cherish you,” Alana declares against her skin. “I love you,” she tells her, having never told her before.
Margot brings their mouths together and tells Alana, “I forgive you.”
“It’s a courtship,” says Margot, “designed out of passion and desire.”
Hannibal’s face looks like chipped marble as he stares at the burnt remains of Frederick Chilton. “He and Will were together once,” he says, then confides, “I can’t say I will mourn his demise.”
Jack stares at the three of them, incredulous. Alana smiles back, curious about what secrets Hannibal has of his own, as she’s intimately aware of Will’s.
“I don’t know what you’re doing with Margot,” Will says, pouring himself three fingers of bourbon instead of his typical two, “but you should probably stop.”
“Is that what Hannibal said to you when you told him you killed your patient? ‘If you love me you’ll stop.’ Or does he know?”
“He knows,” Will tells her after a generous sip from his tumbler, “and he approves.”
“Come with us,” Margot says to the Lecter-Grahams after their last supper, once Abigail has gone to bed and they sit in the study, three bottles of wine deep. “Abigail needs fathers; Alana wants to expand our family further.”
Will tips the rest of his glass into his mouth. “Why the fuck not?” and Hannibal smiles wider than Alana has ever seen.
“I have quite the history in Florence,” says Hannibal, and he toasts to their future relocation in another city.
Alana suggests to Margot in the afterglow, “We could leave tonight.”
Margot snuggles closer, head against Alana’s bosom. “No,” she says. “I have to say goodbye to Mason.”
Alana pulls back, and memorizes Margot’s blood-hungry smirk.
Killing Mason takes less time than Alana anticipated.
Margot drugs his drink, much like Alana had hers what seems a decade ago, though the drug is an extremely potent hallucinogen—a wedding gift from Hannibal and Will, their new co-conspirators. Alana thought Margot would take her time with Mason, torture him as he’d tortured her all her life.
Instead, she talks Mason into dunking his head into his tank of eels.
It’s too easy, holding his head down in the water, prying his mouth open, inviting the eels to explore his throat and guts, wriggling electric all the way as Margot kisses her open-mouthed over the corpse.
Margot names their son Morgan, and Alana regrets letting Will and Hannibal choose Morgan’s middle name if only because they refuse to tell her the significance of Troy.
Abigail adores him—“I always wanted a younger sibling,” she says, “but I think my mother knew better than to give him another child.”
They live in the Tuscan countryside, because Will and Margot insist. “Every boy needs space to run around with a dog of their own,” says Will; Alana swears she sees Applesauce glare.
Morgan renames the new dog Winston once he can speak, and none of them understand why.
“When did you know you loved me?” Margot quietly asks while the four of them spend a weekend in Florence, five years into their Italian adventure. They’ve left Hannibal and Will gazing into each other’s eyes in front of a Botticelli; Abigail is playing nanny with Morgan elsewhere in the Uffizi.
“I think always,” Alana says, leaning heavily on her cane. “Maybe we’re written in the stars together.”
“You’re such a sap,” and Margot’s laughing, free and unburdened and so very, very beautiful.