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Changed from the one who was all to me

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He had never questioned his own sanity.

There was nothing wrong with him. Certainly he was different from those around him, and he took pains to hide those differences. But only so far as any predator hides from their prey, all the better to stalk them.

The farmers market was busier than usual and the herd of humans surrounding him was particularly loud. The stall holders yelled out to passing customers; dull, mindless people chattered inanely and served no purpose other than to slow Hannibal down.

A slim, toned young man jostled him rudely and, just as Hannibal turned to follow his latest victim, he heard it.

He read books in Lithuanian, he bought the occasional Lithuanian newspaper, but he hadn’t heard it spoken in years. But, now, he heard a soft whisper, in a female voice that sounded so much like his mother that he froze.

”My little hero.”

Her sweet voice affected him as much as it had when he was a child; it was a symphony in his ears, more powerful than any bolt of lightning. It transported him back to a time long forgotten; his mother’s honeyed voice echoing against the stone of his family’s ancestral home as she called for him. For a second, he imagined he could hear the pitter patter of his own small, child-sized feet against the cobbles as he ran to his mother. A tear welled up, unbidden, in his eye. He blinked it away.

It was a rather fanciful notion, a momentary folly that couldn’t quite be brushed aside. He hadn’t thought of his mother’s pet name for him in decades. Of course, it wasn’t real. It was just a combination of the noises around him, put together into a phrase plucked from his subconscious.

It was disconcerting to think that his mind had become so disorganised; that some door in his Mind Palace had been left open and memories been allowed to waft up to his conscious mind. But Hannibal merely decided to spend the afternoon making sure that his Mind Palace was secure, and that would be an end to it.

The man who had bumped into him had disappeared into the crowd leaving Hannibal unable to correct his manners. It was a shame, his freezer was almost bare.

Jack Crawford’s call disturbed his lunch; it was rude, but Hannibal was willing to forgive him his rudeness when Jack brought such interesting entertainment. With poor Will locked away in Frederick Chilton’s tender clutches, Jack was becoming desperate. Hannibal might not have Will’s empathy but he knew how to make himself seem immensely useful at a crime scene.

As sad as it was to lose Will as a plaything, Jack was certainly intent on making sure that Hannibal wasn’t bored. Some of the crime scenes were truly delicious. Of course, it wasn’t really art, but Hannibal could appreciate their fumbling efforts nonetheless.

Today’s tableau reminded him of Will, mostly because of the dogs.

Two bloody corpses were arranged, surrounded by twelve mauled dogs. They were all quite dead. There would be no strays for Will to take in from today’s excursion.

Will’s fascinating mind would have shattered brilliantly if he’d been there. He would have felt what it was to hurt the animals that he fought to protect; his empathy would force him to take joy in their suffering. Perhaps he should take the crime scene photos to him. Hannibal watched the photographs being taken and imagined Will’s face when Hannibal showed them to him. It would be beautiful.

“Do you think your sister would be able to help?”

Hannibal turned slowly, surprised that Beverly Katz had addressed him so freely. The young woman was uncouth, but she was usually more respectful towards him.

There was no-one else near them and Katz’s bright eyes were fixed on him, her eyebrow raised as she questioned him.

It was not possible, and yet, here was this woman, one of Jack’s drones, questioning him; asking about his sister. As if Mischa were alive.

He wanted to tear Katz’s tongue from her mouth for such a disgusting lie; he wanted her to watch him as he bit into her still beating heart. He wanted her gratitude that he had given her such a merciful end, if and when he would let her suffering end with the sweet oblivion of death. The muscles of his face remained as relaxed and immovable as ever as they clothed his desires.

“My sister?”

“Well, yeah, she’s a vet, isn’t she?”

Hannibal blinked slowly as he watched the woman’s body language. It didn’t show a trace of fear or mockery. She truly believed what she was saying. He took a step towards her, his feet unsteady on the uneven ground.

“I didn’t realise you were acquainted,” Hannibal’s smooth voice gave away nothing.

“No, but Will was always talking about her,” Katz gave him a sympathetic glance as she plied her trade, tweezers in one hand and evidence bag in the other.

“Indeed?” Hannibal paused. Even Will, his brilliant and perceptive masterpiece, could not have known about his sister. He might have guessed that Hannibal had had some childhood trauma, that would be the standard line that anyone would throw out when looking to explain a serial killer. And Will was so convinced that he was the Chesapeake Ripper. Surely Will was not so dull as to spew out such pop psychology? Surely Will would not risk the life of his friend by asking Beverly Katz to mention Hannibal’s sister to him?

Jack called him away before he could question Katz further, which was unfortunate. The young woman had finally done something interesting enough to garner his attention.

The information he gave to Jack sounded like reasonable deductions about the psychology of his killer. It was even partially correct. It was just enough to impress Jack, but nowhere near enough to help him catch his killer. That pleasure was reserved for Hannibal.

A car pulled ahead of him, brakes screeching as the driver stole the space he’d been about to take. The wine merchant’s store was rather exclusive and the parking lot was far too small. Nevertheless the other driver had been downright rude, and Hannibal waited to catch a glimpse of this thief.

A young woman got out of the car and yelled something that Hannibal couldn’t quite make out. He let his window down as she strode towards his car.

“Do you mind?” she said angrily. “I’ve got kids here! I’ll call the cops unless you drive away now. I’ve heard about your sort, you pervert!”

Hannibal didn’t deign to respond. She was clearly not a customer of the wine merchants and it was wrong of her to be parked there. It was one of many errors on her part, and only compounded Hannibal’s need to teach her proper manners.

The back door of the woman’s car opened and two children slowly got out, both of them watching their mother nervously. The boy was older, but it was the girl who caught Hannibal’s attention. She couldn’t have been more than four, her hair was blonde and her eyes dark as she chewed her finger.

Perhaps the child’s appearance would not of distracted Hannibal, had it been any other day. But Beverly Katz’s comments had wormed their way into his mind and he was reminded of Mischa. There was a resemblance there that was more than physical. The way the girl clutched at her elder brother’s hand reminded him of his little sister, clinging to him; he had been her protector and he was loathe to harm this little girl, even by such indirect means as killing her mother. Hannibal drove away and let the little family remain intact, despite how desperately in need of correction the young mother was.

It was strange feeling. He didn’t usually give up on his prey so easily, but he had no desire to hurt the woman who had given birth to a child so similar to his own sweet sister.

Even his home, his domain, couldn’t quite soothe him.

Things were different. There were books on his shelves that he didn’t recognise; books on the forensic sciences, fictional detective stories bound in cheap paper that were horribly wrinkled and disturbed the aesthetics of the bookshelves. Hannibal thumbed through one of them before replacing it carefully. Someone must have put these books there to try and perturb him. The only person who he could think would bother to do such a thing was Will, and he was safely locked away. Of course, it was possible that someone else had snuck into his home, some overly attached patient, but it seemed unlikely.

There were clothes in his closet that he’d never seen before. Two beautifully cut suits that had been handmade by his own tailor; the man was usually a master craftsman, but these two suits were far too small for him. They lacked the bold patterns that he usually favoured. Instead, they were both dark and understated. Hannibal ran his hands over the fine wool cloth, unable to remember purchasing them.

There were other clothes too; plaid shirts and weather-beaten jackets. There was a small drawer stuffed full of cotton boxers, although Hannibal couldn’t remember having seen them before.

As puzzles went, this one was certainly complex, but, what really galled, was that, for once, he was not in control of the game. He wasn’t even sure of the rules. It was a surprisingly unsettling feeling and when he found out whoever was responsible for it they would pay with their life.

The echoes of his harpsichord woke him up in the middle of the night. It was still dark out and Hannibal smiled to himself as he slipped from his bed. It was most accommodating of his latest victim to stray so close to his kitchen.

There was a small kaiken dagger in his bedside table which he took with him, sliding the sharp blade against his wrist so that he would appear unarmed. He was half-way down the stairs when he recognised the tune being played.

Nocturne in F minor by Ciurlionis. His mother had often played his piano pieces and his parents had owned one of his paintings.

It was an insult and Hannibal hurried down the stairs as quickly as he could. He wanted this musician to live long enough to tell him exactly what was going on.

But when he got downstairs, he found there was no one sitting at his harpsichord. All the doors and windows were locked and the house was empty. If he had been anyone else Hannibal would have doubted himself, but he was not. He knew what he had heard.

The music seemed to echo in the hallways, the notes lingering in Hannibal’s mind. It felt painfully like nostalgia for a life that had long been destroyed. He checked the house again, from top to bottom; nothing was out of place.

By the time he climbed into bed, he had to conclude that the music could not have been real. That he must, for the first time in his life, have dreamt something.

Bedelia curled her lips in a professional smile as they settled into their seats opposite each other. He usually took such joy in their verbal sparring, but this time he couldn’t seem to rouse himself.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so distracted.”

Hannibal hummed softly. Of course, there was no question that he would tell his psychiatrist about his recent disturbances. He might call himself her patient, but he was in no need of psychiatric aid.

“Although, after the events of the last few days, it’s hardly surprising.”

“The last few days?” Hannibal asked softly. It seemed impossible that Bedelia was involved in whatever had been happening to him, but perhaps it wasn’t so surprising after all. She had glimpsed beyond his person suit when no-one else had.

She smiled at him, with a warmth that he had never seen before.

“You spoke before about your sense of betrayal. Do you still feel that way?”

Hannibal turned his head to look at the painting on Bedelia’s wall. The brightly colored paint suited the room, and he had seen it many times before, yet this time it felt wrong. The mess of color was distracting.

He’d never said a word to Bedelia about feeling betrayed. He tugged at the cuff of his shirt so that it fell just out of his jacket in the proper way. After all this was over, when he’d discovered who was behind this elaborate game, he’d make Bedelia pay for having sided against him.

“There can only be betrayal where there is trust,” Hannibal said, turning back to her. Her beautiful professional mask slipped from her face and she gave him a concerned frown. The sort that one might give a friend.

“Hannibal, we have maintained these session, despite my retirement, because I sincerely wish to help you find peace. I thought that you needed my help but, if that is no longer the case, then there is no obligation for us to continue.”

Hannibal felt a spike of anger. These sessions continued because he insisted on it, not because of Bedelia’s largesse.

“Your company is a hard habit to kick. Although, perhaps we should cut today’s appointment short.”

“Of course,” Bedelia rose from her seat, smoothing down her skirt as she stood. “It would be a shame for your visit to be over so soon, would you care for a glass of wine before you leave?”

Hannibal smiled his consent and followed her to her kitchen. He despised ending his session so quickly, but he refused to continue with this charade until he knew what was going on; until he was in control once again.

Bedelia handed him a glass of red wine. He reached for it slowly, toying with the idea of plunging the glass into her throat and demanding she tell him what was going on. He would watch her as she bled out.

He took the glass from her and sipped it, savouring the taste. Bedelia would live, for a few more hours at least.

A tall, well-dressed woman stood on his porch.

“Annibal!” she cried as soon as he opened the door. He hadn’t heard his name butchered like that in so long that he was momentarily distracted and allowed her to barge past him.

“I got your message about Will, are you alright? I’m sorry I couldn’t come sooner but I’m here now. How are you?”

Dark brown eyes looked up at him, full of sympathy and warmth. So this woman had been sent to play the role of his sister. He should have expected that his unseen adversary would do something so bold. It would be too obvious to kill her now, but this actress would be compensated later, in blood, for the part she was playing.

He resisted the temptation to scoff at the woman. His Mischa would never have grown up to be so dowdy. The clothes she wore were fine and well-tailored but she smelled slightly of animal and there were dog hairs on her skirt.

“I am well. Would you care to go through to the dining room?”

The woman nodded and, with a worried glance at him, walked to the dining room. She seemed to know the way well enough, and she neither stumbled nor paused as she walked down the hallway. No doubt her employer had instructed her well, yet it was odd; there was no sense of duplicity about her.

Hannibal gathered his thoughts for a few moments in the sanctum of his kitchen. Naturally, all this had to be some hoax. But what if there was some possible way that it was not? It was too surreal to be true, and Hannibal could not let himself indulge in the fantasy that his sister was still alive. He shut down the thought at once. He would retain his logic and kill the impostor the next time he held a dinner party.

“You’re setting a new place for me?” the woman smiled as he entered the dining room with an extra set of cutlery for her.

“I fear this dish is not up to my standard fair -”

“Oh, you know, I don’t care about such things. Can I help at all?”

“No, perhaps next time, when I have you for dinner,” Hannibal said, leaving the woman alone as he fetched two bowls of Castelnaudary cassoulet. It was not a dish that required a great deal of skill to make, but it took time and it emptied out his freezer of all those stray cuts of meat that he hadn’t found any other use for.

He returned to the dining room to find the woman had made herself comfortable. She was so at ease that Hannibal hesitated before putting the bowls down onto the table.

“This look delicious, thank you,” she smiled up at him as he poured them both a glass of wine. At least the actress was well mannered, that would make the charade slightly more bearable.

“Will Graham -” Hannibal began as he sniffed his wine and started his interrogation.

“Will!” she interrupted with a smile.

“He is not…” Hannibal hesitated; in the firelight the woman’s eyes shone red. They seemed almost as maroon as his own, although he was sure that she was not wearing contact lenses.

“What? You think I would judge you? You think I would care that he is a man? Annibal, after everything we’ve been through, did you think I would care about that?”

Hannibal pushed his plate away. Was this false Mischa suggesting that Will Graham was his lover? The very idea was preposterous.

The woman put her fork down and slid her hand over his so that he could feel her steady heart beat.

“I know he’s not a murderer. The FBI know he’s not, he’s just, he’s just confused.”

“And what if he is a murderer now?” Hannibal asked.

“If he were then he’d be locked up in prison, not in the hospital. You just have to make him better, Annibal. That’s your job. I know you’re upset that he’s there, rather than here with you, but I know you can still treat him, even if it’s by proxy.”

Hannibal let himself smile. At last, here was some clue to what was going here. Was this part of some concerted effort to get him to release Will Graham. It would be easy to provide the evidence to have him released, but he would do nothing until he found out who was paying for this actress’s performance and who had been breaking into his home.

“Did he ask you to do this? To come here tonight?” Hannibal said, as polite as ever. The woman frowned, but her heart rate remained the same.

“No, of course not.”

There were drugs that might be taken to ensure that her heart rate didn’t rise as she lied. Or she could be a particularly accomplished liar, although Hannibal doubted that were true. Or perhap, Will had truly convinced her that she was Mischa and she had come here tonight of her own volition.

The evening passed slowly. She complimented his cooking and dropped in a few words of Lithuanian, a few more of French. She mentioned, in passing, a story about their parents that was entirely fabricated.

As a performance, it was remarkably enjoyable and he was almost sad when it was time for her to leave.

He held her, hugging her close, when they said good-bye. The only people who he usually held this closely were his victims, pinned in place whilst he drained the life from them. Even sweet Abigail, who he had comforted in his arms had eventually become so much meat.

This woman, who called herself Mischa, was tall and she rested her head on his shoulder as her arms slid around his waist. He sniffed delicately at her neck. She didn’t smell like the Mischa that he remembered, but then Mischa had always smelled of youth and this Mischa was older than his sister had ever been. He closed his eyes and let himself dream for one brief second.

It felt good, like he was slipping away and he could finally be happy. Hannibal’s eyes snapped open. This woman wasn’t really his sister, couldn’t be. His Mischa was long dead and long digested and that was the cold reality that he had to cling to. His feet stumbled as he let her go.

“Hannibal!” Alana Bloom called out to him from the steps of Baltimore State Hospital. He didn’t quicken his pace as he approached her. It would sadden him to see her beauty gone from this world, but if she was involved in this plot then she would end up in his kitchen just as surely as last night’s actress would. “Are you going to see Will?”

“Good morning, Alana. Yes, that’s why I’m here,” Hannibal watched her closely, but she was already leaving. She had probably been visiting Will. Hannibal's hand clenched reflexively so that he had to put that arm behind his back. Will Graham was his patient; Alana had no right to visit him so early in the day.

“Oh, good. I,” she leaned into him so that he could smell her cheap perfume. It smelled of chlorine and copper. He wrinkled his nose. “I was going to call you. Frederick Chilton, he’s… Well, he’s in with Will now, so go and see for yourself. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“That sounds delightful, Alana,” Hannibal said, tipping his head in farewell and hurrying into the building. He was nearly at the corridor where Will was held when an orderly stopped him.

“Excuse me, doctor?”

Hannibal gave the nondescript young man a bland look.


“I was just wondering if I could help you. It’s just, there’s no-one in these cells at the moment.”

There weren’t any noises coming from the high-security cells, but Chilton wouldn’t have moved so many of his inmates so quickly. He was too fond of the protocols that he had written to allow that.

“How odd, I’m looking for Will Graham. Could you tell me where he is?”

“Graham?” the orderly blinked in surprise. “Oh, well, he’s up in the open ward with all the other voluntary inmates. They should all be in the communal rec room by now.”

“Thank you,” Hannibal said, with one last glance at the corridor of high security cells. Chilton might have let Will loose in the open ward. It seemed unlikely, but then Chilton’s methods were always shoddy.

“No problem, we’re all friends here,” the orderly grinned at him, his rat-like face twisting into an obsequious smile. Hannibal didn’t bother to acknowledge the man. Even when it came to hiring employees, Chilton was a failure.

Hannibal knew the hospital well enough that he could make his own way up to the open ward and the large room where all those patients who had admitted themselves spent the day socialising. There was a gentle hum of chatter, occasionally interrupted by loud noises from a small television, as Hannibal stepped into the hall. In the far corner he saw Will sat at a desk with Frederick Chilton sitting opposite him. The psychiatrist had a stack of papers in front of him; the sight didn’t surprise Hannibal. Chilton must be desperate to analysis Will’s delicate mind.

Will was ignoring him, looking out of the window resentfully. It seemed like ages since he’d last seen Will and he was surprised at the jolt of sudden awareness of quite how physically beautiful Will was. His facial hair was shorter and less scruffy than usual, he looked better groomed and more well cared for than usual and it made him look radiant.

“Now, I’m going to ask you a few yes or no questions, Will, and I want you to -”

Hannibal gave a small cough and Chilton broke off, looking round with an angry scowl.

“Hannibal! You came!” Will cried out, standing so suddenly that his plastic chair fell backwards. He rushed forwards and wrapped his arms around Hannibal’s waist, wrinkling his suit dreadfully. Hannibal didn’t mind; his arms wrapped themselves around Will without any conscious thought. The little empath pressed himself closer, as if he were trying to work his way inside Hannibal’s chest.

“Dr Lecter, how lovely of you to join us,” Chilton said with bright insincerity.

“Frederick,” Hannibal greeted him, but Will was still clinging to him.

“Come now, Will. Time to let Hannibal go. Come and sit back down and we can finish this test.”

Will let go and stepped away from him, making Hannibal feel cold despite the layers of wool he was wearing.

“I think I’m done for the day,” Will said determinately, setting his jaw stubbornly. His little mongoose was becoming more and more dominant by the day.

“While you’re still a patient here -”

“If this is how you treat voluntary patients, then I won’t be staying here much longer!” Will snarled, with only a slight glance in Hannibal’s direction, looking for support. Chilton gathered up his papers, huffing loudly and indignantly.

“You, Will, came to me. You were the one who said you had had enough blood on your hands.”

“You drugged me! I said I’d stay here so long as there were no drugs!” Will’s voice raised to a yell and the other patients began to turn around to watch the unfolding spectacle. Hannibal put a hand on Will’s shoulder. Instantly, the younger man sagged into him. It felt wonderful. Will was completely obedient; Hannibal was in control and it felt wonderful. Why had he never thought to seduce Will before?

Hannibal’s hand fell. This was part of the ruse too. Will was not really his lover.

“Frederick, I wonder if you would give us a few moments.”

Chilton snorted and stalked off, muttering to himself as he went.

“I’m sorry, Hannibal. I was so excited to see you and….I was so scared last night when I realised I’d been drugged and I had God-knows-what coursing through my veins. I didn’t want to answer Chilton’s ridiculous psychobabble test.”

Will rubbed his hand along his own arm, as if he were cold and he was trying to warm himself.

“I signed myself out this morning. I hope you don’t mind, I want..I want to come home.’

Hannibal let one of his eyebrows rise. It was clear that Will was part of this game of make-believe but he hadn’t realised quite how far-fetched everything had become.

“To Wolf Trap?” Hannibal asked innocently.

“Wolf Trap? I...I can’t. The people renting it have already moved in. I can stay here, if you like, if you’d rather.”

“No,” Hannibal put a proprietary hand on Will’s shoulder. If they were going to play this game, then Hannibal would test Will to the extreme. “Are you ready to go?”

“I just have to grab my bag, and then I’ll be ready!” Will grinned before leaning up and kissing Hannibal chastely on the cheek. The warm press of lips and the scratch of stubble were unexpected and Hannibal stumbled slightly in surprise.

“Do you want to see my room before we leave?” Will whispered, his voice lower than normal; gravelly with lust. Hannibal nodded curtly and followed after the young man as Will led him towards his private room. Every few steps, Will turned his head to check that Hannibal was still following him, the look on his face was one of pure adoration.

It was strange, but oddly pleasing. Hannibal had found Will’s empathy fascinating from the second he’d met him and, although he had moulded Will and given him shape, he’d never considered pushing him in this direction. Yet here was the proof, Will made a beautifully doting partner.

“Aren’t you going to ask me?” Will asked as soon as the door to his room closed and they were alone.

“What do you think I should be asking you?” Hannibal countered, standing by the door, watching Will closely to see what he would do next. Will rolled his eyes.

“This isn’t the time to play psychiatrists and patients. You never asked me.”

Hannibal opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. His ankle gave out beneath him and he stumbled slightly. He was wrong, he had been wrong about so many things. Because now he remembered. This wasn’t some elaborate trap, this was his life. His sister was alive, he’d never tasted human flesh and Will Graham was his lover. He even remembered the ring that he kept in a box in his nightstand that he intend to propose to Will with.

But there had been a murder, one of Jack’s cases that Will had got too involved in. He had become convinced that he had killed a man, even though all the evidence confirmed that he had not.

“Would it make you feel better if I asked you if you killed that judge? I know that you did not. I could ask you lots more questions, but you don’t have to say a word,” Hannibal held his hand out to Will. The young man didn’t hesitate, he stood in front of Hannibal, looking up at him as if Hannibal was the most precious person in the world. “I could ask you if you want me, but I’ll know what the answer is. The pupil dilates with specific mental efforts. You dilate, that’s a yes; no dilation equals no.”

Hannibal lowered his face so that he was looking directly into Will’s eyes. He could have kissed him, they were so close, and Hannibal could feel the warm air of Will’s breath against his lips.

“Are you mine, Will Graham?”

Will’s pupil’s dilated with lust, but he didn’t answer. He dropped to his knees in front of Hannibal, undoing his flies and taking out Hannibal’s hardening cock in a fluid motion that spoke of long familiarity. The wet heat of Will’s mouth surrounded him and Hannibal could not repress the deep groan that resonated in his chest. How had he forgotten the life that he and Will had forged together? How many times before had he seen Will on his knees, worshipping at his cock? Why had he tried to cling to the memories of a life without Will? Such a life wouldn’t be worth living.

“Close,” Hannibal muttered, letting his head fall back against the closed door as his knees weakened. He was so close to coming but he had to eke out a few more seconds inside Will’s mouth.

Will leaned back and looked up at him, his eyes glistening wetly from choking himself on Hannibal’s cock. His hands jerked Hannibal off as he began to talk quietly.

“I was wondering why you bother with me, when you didn’t come and see me, I thought you didn’t want me anymore.”

“Our life together is precious. You know I would do anything to protect it.”

“Oh, God, I’ve missed you so much. I’ve been waiting for you to come, you’re my anchor, my strength,” Will’s hand was wet with precome and saliva as he jerked Hannibal’s cock faster and faster, squeezing so tightly that his frenzied rhythm hurt. Hannibal struggled to breath whilst his body was on fire with pleasure. “Promise me, you’ll always be strong for me.”

“Only,” Hannibal gasped, looking down at Will on his knees before him, his mouth open wide and ready to catch Hannibal’s come. “Only if you eat me.”

His orgasm hit and he erupted, spurting over Will’s face, covering his glasses and filling his mouth. Someone, in the background, was shouting.

“Put your hands where I can see them!” But Hannibal couldn’t move his hands. They were buried in Will Graham’s hair and he never wanted to let go. He yelled out but his words were vague in his own mouth. Will stood up and wrapped his arms around him. The other man hadn’t come yet, but he didn’t seem to care, he embraced Hannibal and it felt like perfection.

The steady beeping of a heart rate monitor woke him up, bandaged and weak, in a hospital bed. He’d been attacked during his evening swim, by one of Chilton’s orderlies. Will Graham had asked the man to kill Hannibal for him.

There was a time when Hannibal would have celebrated that as a great success. His beautiful William had become a true killer. But that was not enough. Hannibal had seen how great Will Graham could truly be, and that was when he was standing by Hannibal’s side, or, rather, kneeling at his feet.

Hannibal prided himself on being an intelligent man. He could adapt to this new situation.

Another plan would have to be hatched. And this time, it would end with Will Graham in his bed.

The dream brought on by blood loss had been fascinating. If it had been less personal he would have documented it for psychobiological research. His conjuration of Mischa was especially interesting, but the best bit, the bit that he couldn’t wait to make a reality, was the way that Will had looked at him, with love in his eyes.