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For Lo! My Own Shall Come to Me

Chapter Text

Serene, I fold my hands and wait;
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea:
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
-"Waiting" by John Burroughs

 

Hannibal is thirteen when he first dreams of the boy who will become his most treasured possession. In that moment, by that first sight, he is ensnared-- and in the only trap capable of holding such a wild, cany and sophisticated monster as he. Fascination, intrigue (and yes, an odd sort of kinship)-- these are the materials of the snare, though he is by no means docile under its yoke. Indeed, his violent passions are even more aroused. He is as a wolf, who may forget hunger when driven to mate. Or, perhaps-- looking at the pale, almost opalescent skin of this boy-- as a sculptor may forego food when he has found the best moon-pale marble in which to fashion his vision alive.

 

He stands in the bleak, listless courtyard, behind the building which was once a monastery. Now it is the Saint Anthony School for Foundling Boys, and a desultory snow has come to lace its crumbling walls and cobblestones. Hannibal knows it is spring in the waking world but, oddly, this inconsistency does not annoy him. He has has eyes-- and thought-- only for the slight figure standing beside the dry fountain. The boy is looking down and away, little swirls of dark, curly brown hair falling to obscure his face. His lips, which can be seen, are the heady pink of new cherries (which the human child Hannibal once was very much enjoyed). Shoulders at once drooping and curling in protectively, he stands barefooted, almost at parade rest, utterly unapologetic for the fact of his existence. He is focused on something Hannibal cannot quite see (a flash of red cardinal in the bushes?), which is completely unacceptable. Clad only in brief pair of blue-twill shorts, the delicate tracery of veins and twitching of chill skin is like the finest tapestry. Hannibal went to bed hungry, as he often does in his supposed 'home'. It is not surprising that this fact should manifest itself in the dream, but it is not _quite_ the feeling embodied in the word. This sort of ravenous desire has no name for him, not yet, but it makes his mouth water all the same.

 

This dream is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which the fact he is having it at all. Each night, Hannibal suffers to lay down in the pitiful dormitory bed (as all the other boys do) and listens to the tap-tap-tapping of the Matron's ruler against the many metal bars (as all the other boys do). When she has finally finished her patrol down the narrow isle between the bed, Hannibal even closes his eyes. His classmates subject him to relentless torture during the day, but they have learned better than to attack at night. Hannibal had taught them this; patiently, repeatedly, as one is obliged to do when training such dull beasts of burden. With liberal use of pain, too… for isn't pain the best teacher of all?

 

So he may lay there, night after night, confident that he will remain unmolested for the duration. He supplies his body with rest because it is required to function, but he very rarely dreams. And never like this, with such vividness and color, with all the sumptuous shade and decadence of the Sistine Chapel. That's Michelangelo, though, and Hannibal is quite convinced that Da Vinci is far more skilled at faces. If this ephemeral boy does not raise his head to exhibit a face worthy of one of Leonardo's studies, Hannibal is going to be exceedingly cross. And still, his new and silent companion does not acknowledge him, staring off into the distance as his fingers clench and flutter spasmodically.

Gradually, the courtyard changes. Its edges blur, the walls confining it fade instead into tall, remorseless ebony trees that weft and warp at odd angles. Large, obscene things lumber in its unhealthy geometry. Stags with broken, bloodied antlers and the faces of screaming girls etched in their hides. Nameless heaps of muscle and teeth that open their jaws, revealing something that is either the defenseless white flesh and shimmering ruby beads of a pomegranate, or else the pink and quivering vulva of a human female. Hannibal cranes his neck a little, but will admit he does not have enough experience to accurately judge. Other things in the forest have even less coherent shape-- bloody, agonized, all of them-- has if their brilliant colors have been dashed with turpentine. They are dissolving even as the two boys watch, and it comes to Hannibal suddenly that his pale comrade is unflinchingly tracing their outlines with his fingers, looking on their unvarnished horror with perfect understanding.

'Don't look up', Hannibal thinks suddenly, because he is still young. Still a boy, not yet wholly confident in his ability to work his will upon the world, grind reality under his carefully polished heel. If this boy is in any way a disappointment, anything _less_ than what Hannibal thinks he is, there will come a terrible, destructive rage. Lecter will destroy him utterly, for having dared to stir even a single nano-second of… not hope, but anticipation.

 

He wishes again for the kind of sleep he has most often known, that silent, static darkness. His consciousness descends into a blind, almost alien holding pattern while he awaits the daylight in which he may prowl, and read, and watch and fight. He will even accept the nightmares of Mischa he once occasionally suffered. Hideous, nearly unbearable things-- all the more vile because they did not require that the sleeping mind elaborate or add elements. As absolute, true and verbatim records they were far, far worse. He has, however, learned to stare these horrible dreams down. Employing the same flat, vaguely predatory gaze that has served to alienate his peers, he looks unflinchingly into the eye of the maelstrom. By reducing the nightmare to its component parts

(they ended her struggles by striking her with a rock. head wounds, as he has read, bleed copiously. the deltoid is a long, gamey muscle-- shaped like a _delta_, from the greek. here are the carotid and femoral arteries, draining the body as one drains juice from berries. and fat, adhering to the epidermis-- yellow and faintly viscous, who knew?)

he negates their power. When they began to consume her, she ceased to be Mischa. _His_ Mischa; the thinking, feeling being fashioned like Eve to his Adam. Made very nearly in the same manner as he.

Hannibal has severe doubts about the veracity and/or value of the beings he has been forced to keep company with since. The other boys are banal in their cruelty; the Dean's malice and vindictiveness stem from past impotence, a child-bully's rage. All of them are _densely_ stupid, gazing at the world with vacant, bovine eyes.

 

As if sensing the direction and weave of Hannibal's thoughts, the boy looks up. His eyes are a peerless, glacial blue behind absurd glasses, his visage full of an innocent knowing that gives him something more than mere boyish prettiness. He is a Botticelli angel, face still round with traces of puppy fat. He is not what Hannibal might have imagined, or asked for (provided, of course, that Hannibal were the sort of person who would ask _anyone_ for _anything_). Infinitely more, instead; a youth whose very expression and curve of cheeks begged the world not to inflict pain, set with eyes that say he knows it will anyway. Those same eyes narrow now, looking at Hannibal. Assessing, measuring, looking for a way in. I can see your design, I can figure you out. Give me just a chink in the armor-- give me a fissure and a place to stand and I will crawl inside of you.

Quite suddenly, Lecter knows this dream is showing him the first real thinking being he has seen since Mischa died. This boy, is of a higher order of evolution. As Hannibal is, though they are not of the same species. Surprisingly, the difference sits well with him; if they were the same, it would be boring, and there is nothing Hannibal loathes like being bored. This boy is an invitation-- open and emotive and nearly naked, he looks as if he could be carried off by Grendel or Der Erlkonig, but neither of them will get the chance.

 

In a quick, liquid motion, Hannibal darts forward and seizes the boy by the upper arms. The skin is chill with winter, but he can sense the warm pulse of life beneath. His grip is by no means gentle, nor is it exactly rough. Instead, takes hold of the other with all the confidence of possession-- this boy is _his_. The other child looks startled, but makes no move to get away. Hannibal thinks that he will bite him on that pale, smooth neck. Not the way a lion does, using jaws to asphyxiate or rend, but like the canine-- taking hold to dominate. Someday, Hannibal knows, he will no longer be at the mercy of his stupid, hollow tormentors. He will wreck hell and vengeance all over their world, with its pretenses to morality and polite little ritual. He will play by the rules only as far as it allows him to remain undetected, to win the game. Then, he will have this boy.

This boy, who is looking at him with interest, even as Hannibal thinks very obvious thoughts of beautiful coasts to raze and armies to set out for conquest. Those blue eyes seem to shimmer, and the taller boy thinks that they are tears. No matter, he will lick them up, for they are his as much as any other part of this prize. But then, with all the sudden jumpy pastiche of the dream world, he realizes that the boy-- his pale boy who outshines the snow-- is melting. In this manner, the form vanishes, never once exhibiting any fear or concern, only watching itself flow away. Carefully observing, to the end.

 

There is only a little, dull gray morning light when Hannibal opens his eyes. He is in the same stiff, orderly position in which he fell asleep-- feet level, legs straight, turned smartly on his back under the scratchy uniform blanket. Around him, the old monastery is silent, but for the creaks and rattlings and bird-sounds of any ancient building. The other boys are sleeping, still in that monochrome country before true dawn. They breathing is a single pervasive rhythm, like livestock having bedded down for the night.

Having experienced this unusual vision-- after night upon night of endless void-- Hannibal's first emotion is not that of wistfulness, or despair, or even annoyance. What he experiences is a profound, tectonic wrath. He bites it into his own forearm, thinly clad though it is in cotton sleep-shirt. He bites and bites and bites again, not breaking skin (though he _could_) but giving physical form to what wants to be a scream of inarticulate rage. That boy is _his_, a real and beautiful and intelligent creature that he will dissect in aching avarice and, with tender savagery, stitch back together. He detests having things that are his taken; he detests being forced to acknowledge that, for now, he cannot have what he wants.

Slowly, he comes back to himself-- reminds himself of proper appearances, of making sure all the elegant little details are in place. The clothes make the man; the leopard is defined by his spots. He has already begun adopting trappings of human sophistication, simply because those around him possess it not. Hannibal will author, with unflinching exactitude, a treatise on what he thinks of the vacuous beings around him. He will do it in their own blood.

(flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. this is my body; eat of it, drink deep.)

There is a little more sleep to be had, and after that breakfast, and lessons, and all the routine of schooling to be endured. In the evening, he studies whatever strikes his voracious fancy. Then it will be time for bed, and darkness, and then to get up and do it again.

 

It is said that the Devil has more patience than the tide. In turn, the sea itself can clearly afford entire eons, as it erodes away the the continents holding it prisoner.
All of these things will cease their machinations only after the world is cast into oblivion.

 

Hannibal can wait even longer than that.

 

 

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