Inside, the cathedral is overwhelming in size. With its sky-tall pillars in shades of green, she feels like an ant wandering between the grass's stems. She follows their lengths, looking up to where they disperse into multiple arcs and curvy forms, in the gentle fog of rainbow-tinted natural light. Like flower buds, they are upturned toward the sun, and from their midst, the eye of God looks down at her from the imaginary heavens.
Ahead of her, Bruce point-by-point follows the tour, but she has lost herself entirely in the beautiful, awe-struck sight, so lost in fact, she nearly crossed her path with Will's.
He too walks with the eyes glued to the canopy of treetops and stars, with an expression something akin to the wonder of a child.
She stutters to halt and then swivels after him as he strolls only a few meters past her, toward the nearby rows of chairs standing in the central nave of the church.
After the initial attack of an unnerving panic passed, she reminds herself that this time seeing them is utterly unintentional. She has not tried to look for them, follow them, nor observe or know them better for that matter, and still, she finds herself privy to a very intimate scene.
Will steps behind a sitting Hannibal and places a hand on his shoulder; instead of being startled, the man leans into it, as if wholly attuned to Will's calming touch. As if he can sense his presence from amongst the hundred people mingling around the church. He turns his head, lifts his eyes toward Will, illuminated in radiant hues of yellow and gold, filtering through the stained glass, and regards him with the look of devotion she imagines a pilgrim would bestow upon the revelation of their God. The depth of feeling in Hannibal's eyes is evident only for seconds, before the moment passes, yet enough time for her to understand. A power dynamic of their connection.
It would hardly be a stretch of her imagination to believe that she was not the only one ensnared in the religion of Will Graham.
She recoils, presses herself against the nearby column, partly because she wishes, with a sinking feeling of renewed betrayal, to become one with the cold, unfeeling stone, partly because Hannibal spins around to cover Will's hand with his own. She desperately tries to keep distance, tries to avoid being detected as a threat. Her attention zeroes in on their fingers. They are clearly visible from her vantage point. She is looking for a gleaming band of gold. Does Will still wear his? Do they wear new matching rings to seal their bond?
Which is a thought absurd, illogical, and also entirely beside the point; her marriage, after the four years of Will's disappearance, was dissolved.
She cannot even say it is wholly unexpected. Still, her brain is combating her eyes, in denial of what is in plain sight.
The Murder Husbands could have been her clue. But at the time, she considered it to be a truly vicious, mocking slander, one on the top of many thrown into the pile to vilify her husband .
Like from the plague, Jack Crawford kept her and Walter away from the press and prying eyes and wicked tongues, especially from the one of Freddie Lounds' and her TattleCrime. He knew Ms. Lounds would offer a generous insight into Will's and Hannibal's lives before Molly happened, in exchange for a story of ' the only intact victim' of Hannibal Lecter and her 'unfortunate association' with Will. She bestows herself a bitter smile. Her husband had stolen years of her and Walter's life, while his alleged one tried to take it entirely. Yes, she survived the couple, but she was not intact in every sense; she was cured infinitely of her own good-natured innocence.
Thinking back, she should have accepted Freddie's offer then and spared herself the misery of wondering now.
The slow, soft tones of Ave Maria suddenly replace the buzz in her head. Under the influence of music, the atmosphere in the church deepens to tranquil, serene, sacred. Will sits next to Hannibal, and together they listen as a magnificent alto fills the grandiose space of the cathedral.
Even hidden from her prying eyes, she believes the hands between their bodies are joined, fingers entwined. They bore no signs of rings, and she wonders what Will has done with his own. Thrown away, perhaps. She keeps hers though; for Walter, to be remodelled for his prom, being practical, she would not let go of twenty-two karat gold.
A gentle grasp at her elbow startles her like a blow.
A familiar voice cuts through her musings - no, it cannot be him - and she jolts, and stares helplessly at the red granite floor, from where, not Will, but Bruce is picking up the phone she has dropped, shattered in pieces. She has realised it was all the time ready in her hand, but never once she thought to take advantage of its camera.
The sunset is at its lowest point, and it is almost dark outside when their tour comes to an end. Basilica, museum, workshops; by the time they reach a modelling lab, she is tired and her feet, in new sandals she donned for the occasion, hurt so much that they give up the 3D printing demonstration in favour of witnessing the day’s final ringing of the cathedral bells.
At the end of summer, this is the last performance complemented by the cathedral night-time vista. They venture further, away from the impressive structure and into an adjacent street already filled with the eager people, seeking a better acoustic spot for the chiming sound.
Sharply at 8 pm, the cacophony of voices dies out and gives way to the deep rumble of the bells. The hand around hers tightens; it looks like her….
…like both, her current and her ex-partners are smitten by the overwhelming sound and sight. The cathedral stands like a giant lit candle, iridescent against the charcoal sky. Now, for her, upon catching sight of Will, the main protagonist of this grandiose spectacle is no more the Sagrada Familia.
They are right on the other side of the pedestrian zone, blending with the shadows of the buildings and the crowd. Will stands in front of Hannibal, his head tilted back, partly supported by Hannibal’s shoulder, his stare fixed upon the twelve towering belfries. The belfries seem to be glowing from within, and so does Will.
Despite the darkness, elevated only by the reflection of the cathedral light, she can see his expression beaming with rapt attention, listening to what Hannibal has to say right into his ear. Explaining the mechanics of this architectural music instrument perhaps, or… Dismissing instantly any romantic notion, she instead sticks to her first, reasoning. That would tell her why Will’s face has lit into a fond admiration. But it does not explain why the man’s hands slid from behind into Will’s jacket pockets, joining his. The air is fresher, a bit crispy, yes, but there is no need for this.
And she is fully aware of going wholly rigid and awkward in her partner’s embrace, while Will leans back, languid, and vividly content within … his man’s arms.
Oh boy, she has finally acknowledged his status.
However, Bruce doesn’t give her more than a few seconds to settle the choking sensation around her heart. Oblivious to the whole situation, he is ready to take a nightlight picture of the Basilica with his new expensive camera, with an even more expensive lens. Of course, he wants her in the shot.
She lets herself be arranged into a fitting pose, like a puppet, striving to smile amicably in front of him. When they are done, she twists around only to realise that the couple occupying her mind had faded away into the darkness. As if they sensed her unwelcome presence.
Hannibal appeared to be enthralled by the bells’ high-energy reverberating sound, even more so by the perfect acoustic within the basilica walls. She has no doubt if she wanted to see them again – the seemingly innocuous couple in love - she would find them in Sagrada Familia. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, they would be listening to some weeping melody of an opera.
Next time, she may take advantage of Bruce’s expensive camera, chirped her mind. At present, she wasn’t much concerned with how deceiving and dangerous it might be to prove to the world their whereabouts.