Will was born strange.
That much he can understand at least.
The way visitors and staff look at him sometimes, as if something in his very core is wrong, it tells him that he is unusual.
But he is still loved by his family.
His mother and father dote on him when they are at the manor, but often they are away at important events and dealing with business. Hannibal is the main keeper of both Will and Mischa. He is bossy and has too many rules but he can be nice at times, willing to let them get away with little things.
Hannibal is the eldest son, the important one. Will is the second son, the backup of sorts, and Mischa is the youngest and only daughter.
Hannibal is fourteen while Will is six and Mischa is three.
They are a little trio of siblings that are very much family. Hannibal will lead them and Will always follows, holding Mischa's hand to bring her along.
In the mornings Hannibal will wake them, Will and Mischa have separate rooms but they like to share beds. If there is something lurking in the shadows they will tip-toe over to Hannibal's room to hide from the monsters with him. He will say such things are nonsense but let them crawl in his bed and sleep curled up with him. The nanny frowns over it all but Hannibal is the master of the house while Father is away so they are allowed their bed sharing.
Come morning they wake and the nanny or, if he has time, Hannibal, will help them clean and dress for the day. They eat breakfast, the three of them huddled in a corner of the endlessly long dinner table. Hannibal will help Mischa eat but Will is old enough to manage on his own. Afterwards, Hannibal must go and study for the day and so William and Mischa play for the morning. The best place is the fields where wild flowers grow and the stable dogs will come and play with them. After a lunch of just the two of them and a nanny to help Mischa eat, they go to learn. Will is reading steadily now, his tutors very impressed and naming him a bright young mind, much like his prodigy brother. It's a pleasing thought so Will tries to be focused on his learning. After that they eat dinner with Hannibal, talking about their day and trading stories as they go upstairs and bath, Hannibal scrubbing them both down before tucking them into bed. He'll tell them stories, read old books about Lithuanian legends so they know their culture. Will knows he avoids the scary stories for Mischa and since it's for her he doesn't mind.
The servants watch them sometimes, they whisper about them and their closeness, but mostly Will with his strange words. As he grows older Will has learned not to speak so much, not to talk about things best left unsaid and that will cause a fuss.
"What about this young lady then?" Hannibal asks him softly and Will peers over. Mischa is sleeping on the blanket and Will should take a nap as well but instead, he sits up and watches Hannibal work on his drawings. They are under the tree looking over the house and servants and people come and go steadily, Hannibal sketching them as they move. It’s rare to have a lazy afternoon like this, where they can play their games without anyone frowning. The sun feels good, warming Will’s bones and his brother’s presence makes him feel safe.
"She's nervous, but in a good way." Will supplies quietly, playing the game he knows he's not supposed to with Hannibal, their little secret. "Something has happened and she wants to tell someone but has to wait."
Will watches the girl, watches the way she moves and her features as she speaks to someone. It's like watching something under the water. The surface can be distracting but if Will looks long enough he'll see underneath eventually.
"I think someone is getting married, not her but someone close to her and she's very happy about it."
Hannibal didn't reply but nodded his head with Will's assessment, finishing a quick group of lines that become the woman's skirt as she turns. Hannibal draws them as Will explains what he can see of them.
"Do you think there is a devil in me?"
Hannibal's pencil pauses and Will watches him set the drawing paper down to turn his full attention on Will. He doesn't press but just looks at him until Will can't help but explain.
"The stable master said I had a devil in me, that I should stay away from the animals or they might go mad around me."
"I see. I had wondered why the dogs were no longer in the field with you and Mischa," Hannibal muses and Will shrugs his thin shoulders.
"Do you think...?"
"I think you have a unique gift, something far most closer to medical than anything as ridiculous as religion."
Will blinked and glanced around to make sure no one heard that. "Hannibal," he whispered in admonishment like his mother would. Hannibal fixed him with a secret smile and despite himself Will giggled into his sleeve.
"Science and medicine are their own religion in many ways. Once you are old enough to venture passed this house, to go into the cities and see more of the world you will understand."
"I like it here," Will protested immediately, looking over their house and the fields he played in every day. "I prefer home."
"Time may change that," Hannibal predicted and smiled indulgently as Will frowned and tried to decide if anything could sway his love for their home.
"I guess, as long as were together," he decided, reaching to tug on a stand of Mischa's hair. Hannibal offered him another soft look and nodded.
"I agree wholeheartedly."
Afterwards, they are found by a new group of soldiers. These ones seem far kinder than the first ones.
Hannibal no longer speaks so Will refuses to as well. The soldiers check their mouths to see if they have their tongues still and frown when they do. After talking softly together one of the soldiers is elected to take them to the nearest orphanage.
It has been over a year since the war came and drove their family to hide at their father’s hunting cabin deep in the woods. The soldier unknowingly takes them back to their original home, the Lecter manor.
The house stands tall and proud as Will remembers it and he clings to Hannibal, wrapping his arms around his brother tightly. For a moment he lets himself think his family will be waiting, his mother and father, Mischa. But in a split second his mind is bombarded with their bodies, his parent’s remains scattered in the snow from the bomb and the smell of the stew that makes Will lean over and vomit.
Hannibal says nothing, merely wipes Will’s mouth with his own coat sleeve.
The soldier frowns at them but doesn’t comment either. Will can see that he is used to broken children. To adults as well, shell shocked from the horrors of the war. Near the end, they dropped bombs through out Lithuania, shells that hit the ground and then exposed, scattering people into pieces. It was that sort of bomb that killed their parents and the family help, which left Will, Hannibal, and Misha alone in the woods.
It is only Will and Hannibal now.
When they enter the house they find it hollow. Will holds Hannibal’s hand with all his strength as they walk down the hall that was once their home. The paintings and sculptures are all gone, the furniture as well. The carpeted and drapes, everything that made the house luxurious has long been looted. Will wonders if the people who took everything spared a thought to the family it had belonged to. He wonders if they were laughing monsters filled with greed or starving people desperate for anything that could bring them food.
The house is an empty echo of what was their home once but Will realizes that the place does not matter truly, it was the people. They too are gone though, only Will and Hannibal remain.
They stay together always, refusing to be parted even for a moment. Mischa was taken outside, taken from Will’s sight for only a moment and she never returned. Will is certain if it happens to Hannibal, he too will be gone forever.
The people who run the orphanage try once and only once to part them. Will hugs Hannibal tight as they pull at them, four adults all trying to pry them apart. Hannibal lashes out violently, throwing punches and snarling like an animal. Will screams as he kicks blindly, scratching and biting wildly until they let them go. Panting for air, Will crawls into his brother’s lap and Hannibal holds him. They crouch in the corner of the room, pressed against the unyielding wood walls and clinging together and staring down the strangers. It’s the staring that unsettles the adults, that fills them with enough uncertainty to leave them be.
It reminds Will of Mischa, of trying to hold onto her as the soldiers pulled her from his arms, Hannibal already pinned down to the floor by the other men as he screamed his voice hoarse and Mischa cried.
Until she suddenly didn't.
When he comes back to his mind, Will is still curled up in Hannibal's arms, he's holding Will too tight and it hurts but Will clutches him still and stares at the adults who watch them with pity and misery.
They leave them be and so Hannibal and Will become one, always together, always safe.
Will is certain if he loses sight of his brother he will be gone as well. He is certain.
Will can do most daily things on his own but for anything he cannot Hannibal helps him. They coexist quietly and make no fuss and eventually the adults forget them.
At night Will wakes with a start, his clothing sweat soaked as his teeth chatter because he’s shaking so hard. Hannibal is awake already and he leads Will by the hand to the bathroom. He strips him and Will washes the sweat away before Hannibal dries him off and puts Will in his own shirt. Hannibal has only threadbare pajama bottoms but they have been only given a single set each so Will wears the too large top and together they curl up together under their two blankets.
Every night Will wakes and Hannibal never seems annoyed to have to help him every time. Sometimes when Will wakes he’s sitting up will Hannibal’s arm around him, gently restraining him. Will wonders where he would wander, where his sleeping mind wants to go when there is nowhere for him. All that is left is Hannibal.
With the war, there are too many orphans now and not enough people to watch them all. They run about as they want and as long as they make no trouble no one minds. This creates a situation for bullies to thrive, as long as no adult sees it and no child tells them, they can get away with whatever they want.
Hannibal and Will have not spoken a word since they arrived and that makes them the perfect targets.
The boys follow them and heckle, whisper mocking words to try and stir a reaction. When they sit down to eat the adults walk through the rooms, usually helping the younger children in the next room over while the older kids eat quietly. This is the prime time for threats to pass if you can't lure someone secluded. Will and Hannibal know every inch of the house and it's easy for them to disappear as they please.
"Your parents didn't die, they just wanted to get rid of you," one boy teases as the others laugh. Will thinks of the bomb that killed his parents, of their bodies in the snow, torn open with blood and organs hanging out. His mother’s eyes empty as they stared at nothing. His father’s head cracked like a walnut, hanging in pieces.
"The mute dumb boys no one wants."
Hannibal pays them no mind but their words dig under Will's skin, prickling and hurting him. If nothing else, Will knows now the price of weakness, of being seen as something that would be an easy target. People are not good, they are selfish and terrible and need only a reason to show it.
They must be stronger if they are to survive.
The boys hide their laughter as an adult walks by them. Once she has passed and is out of sight Will leans over to whisper to the other boys who are closer to Hannibal's age than his own.
"You are alone now. You always will be and the dead will follow you," he tells the one boy who leads the rest. Will’s voice is hoarse from disuse and it makes it sound rough and low, menacing. Will has watched them all enough to know what secrets they hide. The adults gossip as well and so there is more than enough ammunition.
"No matter where you go or what you do your mom is still dead and your dad is still burning, your house is gone and everyone else is dead. I bet you can still feel it on your hands, the sticky blood on your fingers, I think I can see it still."
Will watches the boy flinch like he's been slapped, his hands yanked into their sleeves quickly. His fingers are always twitching and Will's seen him wash his hands more times than he can count. The group stops laughing and the boy turns red with fear and rage.
He follows Will and Hannibal after, stalking them through the house as they head up to their beds. Hannibal tips his head to the left and Will curls his fingers to signal he knows. They made a silent language between themselves went the cruel soldiers had them. Will can read people and Hannibal used it to talk to him, to say secret things. Will glances at the oil lamp on a table, his eyes linger over it, before sweeping back to Hannibal. His brother understands and Will can tell by a simple knowing in his eyes.
They hide behind the doors as they did when they wanted to startle their mother. The memory overlaps the moment and Will feels far from the present, his mother laughing as Mischa giggles and sunlight filters from the windows.
In reality, there is no sunlight and the boy and Hannibal fight on the floor. They roll around together until Hannibal wins. He yanks the boy's shirt up and Will is ready, he takes off the glass guard of the lamp and presses the burning metal and oil flame to the boy's stomach. Hannibal muffles his screams with a hand over his mouth as the skin burns and a pungent smell fills the room. The boy’s eyes are terrified as his past catches him, curling around him as he relives his own horrors amidst the pain being inflicted. He wets himself and Will steps back from him then, satisfied. While he puts the lamp back Hannibal pulls the boy's shirt down to hide the burns and they walk away, leaving the boy sobbing on the floor in his own urine.
He does not bother them again.
Other children come through and some see their strangeness and they try to prey on them. But together Hannibal and Will are precise and brutal. Will finds the weakness and Hannibal exploits it. No one bothers them for too long and any that do are given scars for it.
The younger children think them simple and silly and their little smiles remind Will of Mischa. He doesn't know what to do with that, so he smiles to them but avoids being around them, clinging to Hannibal's side firmly.
A letter comes one day and the next morning Hannibal and Will are sent off to France. They have one set of day clothing and a set of sleeping clothing. They wrap it in a burlap sack with a meal for the day and are set on a train.
They are granted seats and people come by to offer food and drink. Hannibal takes it but Will’s appetite is always fleeting now. Sometimes the food makes him think of the stew and Will vomits. So he prefers not to eat but Hannibal is unrelenting as he pressed bits into Will’s hands. Sometimes he feeds him by hand, making Will open his mouth to accept small pieces. He eventually leaves food up to Hannibal, his brother can decide when Will should eat.
After a long trip they stand at the train station waiting and a man approaches them with a great grief in his gaze. He wears fine clothing and there is a servant lingering behind him, a man of wealth. Will doesn't recall him but Hannibal seems too and that’s enough for Will.
He hugs them both and talks about their new life that is waiting for them. It's sunny in France and Will likes that, he can feel the heat seeping into him and warming his bones as they drive. He had thought that perhaps he would not be able to be warm ever again.
Their uncle Robert talks lightly though out the trip, not bothered that neither of them speak. They stop in a city and a tailor measures them, their thin clothing is taken and fine warm pants and light soft shirts replace them. They are granted socks and shoes that fit properly. Hannibal dresses Will, slipping on his socks and tying his shoes. Their uncle watched keenly but never says anything. He is learning them, trying to understand. Will can’t see any greed in him so he thinks the man may be sincere enough.
They arrive at a large house with a great bubbling fountain in the front. It’s different from the manors dark strong colors, bright and warm looking. It’s outside the city, surrounded by green fields and row of trees that hang with fruit. Birds sing in the trees and everything is strange. Will clutches Hannibal’s hand and follows him into the house.
A woman that is unlike anything Will has ever seen waits for them.
Her clothing is odd and her face different from what Will knows. He’s seen people from different places before but she seems so much more than that. Her gaze is hard to read and Will finds her secrets are not easily laid out for him like most people.
She kneels down to their level when their uncle introduces her as lady Murasaki, his wife. She meets Will’s gaze and her eyes are not kind nor cruel.
“Hello,” she offers him, her voice accented and unique. Will nods and steps back, hiding behind Hannibal as she stands again. She bows to Hannibal and Will knows his brother is unsure what to think of her.
“Hello,” he rasps back at her, Hannibal's voice gravely. Still, Will has not heard it in many months and he welcomes the sound. He peers up at Hannibal and notes the way he is looking at the woman; like she is something singular.
Will feels jealousy turn in his stomach but he ignores it for now.
They are given a tour of the house and shown their rooms, two separate spaces with walls between them. Neither brother comments but they both know they won’t be using both rooms. The beds are large enough for two, three people even. With great plush pillows and blankets set atop white crisp sheets.
The gardens in the back are large and well kept, there are more varieties of plants than the manor even and Will’s mildly interested, peering at flowers from Hannibal’s side.
Their uncle talks a great deal as he leads them, their aunt watches them without a word, picking them apart. Will doesn’t like it and he hides his face from her, staying on the opposite side of Hannibal from her.
They sit down for dinner and after a salad, the cook brings a broth with meat in it. Hannibal goes pale and Will vomits immediately. Their uncle tries to figure what has happened but it is lady Murasaki who puts it together, banishing the soup and commanding it not be made again. No soups of any kind grace their table for many years.
Hannibal can’t make himself eat after that and Will has absolutely no interest in food. They go upstairs and Hannibal helps Will change from his ruined clothing. They crawl into bed together and someone checks on them, leaving without saying anything as they both pretend to be asleep. Will dozes as dawn comes and he wakes shortly after with a jerk. Hannibal has not slept at all.
New clothing is brought in and they dress silently before going to breakfast.
Hannibal eats some plain toast but Will refuses food, even when Hannibal tries to feed him by hand. He turns his head and leaves the table, standing on the balcony adjoining the breakfast room and feeling the sun seep into his skin.
His uncle and aunt make no comment on the entire exchange.
They go day by day, slowly getting used to their new world. Their studies have begun again and it is education that coaxes Hannibal to speak more. He answers questions on what he knows and eventually writes tests to prove his skills. Will sits across the room with his own tutor. She is kind to him and teaches him at a level below what Will knows. He doesn’t correct her like Hannibal had, he lets her reteach him what he knows, his mind usually wandering away as she speaks or reads.
They all know Lithuanian to some extent and speak it to him. Hannibal has already revealed he knows French, Italian, English, Polish and was learning Russian before. When Will says nothing Hannibal does not tell them that Will also knows half of the languages already as well. He keeps Will’s secrets willingly.
After a few weeks, their uncle and aunt eventually pick up that Will and Hannibal are always together. That they never leave one another’s sight. They eat, bath and sleep together. The share the bathroom without a word, there is no privacy left between them. It’s a small price to pay to not be alone though, to not lose the last person they have left.
“It’s safe here now, nothing will hurt you,” his uncle tells Will one day. It’s the same thing the soldiers had told them, the ones who took Mischa. They had said they would protect them, that they wanted to share the cabin with them and nothing else. To wait out the winter together. But with the adults the food had ran out quickly and there was no game to hunt in the freezing cold. Before long the promises faded. Will wonders how long it will take in their new life. For the people to show their true faces.
Nearly a month after they arrive, their aunt finds them in the midnight hours in the bathroom. Will is shaking as Hannibal runs him a hot bath, coaxing him into the water as Will takes the sponge he offers and obediently starts scrubbing the sweat from his skin. Hannibal washes his hair out, mindful of his curls as he helps clean away the nightmare.
Their aunt watches in the doorway silently until their uncle joins them, frowning at the scene with worry.
“Every night,” his aunt explains, Will can feel her gaze on him. “Night terrors, I believe.”
The next day a Psychiatrist comes and talks to them.
He has them sit across from him in the study and watches them both curiously. Their uncle and aunt stay in the room, pretending to read at a table nearby as they listen.
The man is cold and clinical, hoping to use them to gain wealth and favor. The war is a popular theme in his field of study, so many broken people to study.
“Night terrors is it? Nightmares of the war I imagine. Is that why you need to stay together at all times? Do you believe something will happen if you part?” The man tells them more than asks. He is arrogant and rude, focusing more on Hannibal than Will, dismissing him as a child.
Hannibal stares back at him without emotion, watching the man who pokes and prods at them, trying to dig under their skin. Will glances at Hannibal who returns the look, both of them silently communicating a mutual distaste for the stranger trying to pry into their secrets.
Will glances at his uncle who is frowning, not sure of the man. He isn’t sure if this will help them and is unwilling to trust them to just anyone. He has not stayed in the room to snoop but to ensure they are protected if need be.
Lady Murasaki is looking out the window, her face turned away but her body stands still more than usual, she too is displeased with the man.
Will can see the man’s secrets but he doesn’t know how to shape them into a physical thing for Hannibal to use. Adults are harder than children.
“What is it you encountered I wonder, the reports suggest you saw your family die but your sister was not among the dead. Where did Mischa go?”
Will has rarely spoken since they were found again but Hannibal goes tense, his back straight and his face pale. Their uncle sits up, instantly aware of the wrongness of the question and lady Murasaki turns to face them with a frown.
But Hannibal’s pain is palpable, Will can taste it and it makes him hate this man.
“Your wife is cheating on you,” he announces, speaking easily in French. The doctor blinks once and stares at him.
“She hates you and she loves the other man she found,” Will can see things ghost over the man’s face, more secrets made available. More fears.
“They're not your children. You have no real connection to them, like your own father,” The words hit then, the mention of his father making the man’s calm break as he stands up and looms over Will threating and demanding to know what he’s talking about.
“Who told you such lies?” He screams at Will, stepping closer to him angrily.
Hannibal slams the man to the ground before he can reach Will. His brother moves with a calm brutal intent. Born from having to fight for his very life, to have to fight for Wills.
Will watches them wrestle and he grabs a vase from the table beside him, a heavy solid thing that he lifts to break over the man’s head. With the same fluidity between them as they had at the orphanage, Hannibal moves, pulls back to expose the man’s face so Will can crush it.
His uncle grabs him from behind and the vase shatters on the floor harmlessly. Will struggles and Hannibal abandons the man under him, picking up a shard of the broken vase and facing their uncle as he restraints Will.
He lets him go when he sees Hannibal, locked on him intently with a single-minded focus. Will runs to his brother’s side, hiding by him but not grabbing him and hindering him. This is how they have survived, how Hannibal has kept Will safe.
The Psychiatrist is calling them monsters, crawling away and stumbling to grab his bag and coat, to escape as quickly as he can.
“She hates you,” Will yells after him, wanting the words to stick in the man’s mind, to consume him.
They stand off in the room for a long time after, minutes dragging out until lady Murasaki finally moves from her spot beside the window. She curls her arm in their uncle’s elbow and looks at them, watching them both with her keen gaze.
“Join us for dinner when you are ready,” she tells them simply and then leads her husband from the room.
Hannibal eventually drops the broken vase piece and they sit by the window in the corner, Hannibal facing in while Will looks out to the gardens.
When the sun fades and night comes Hannibal is ready and he rises from the floor. Will takes his hand and they go to the dining room. Their uncle’s eyes are sharp and watch Hannibal wearily. Still, he invites them to sit and eat.
It’s by far the tensest dinner they have shared so far.
Will can see his uncle is afraid of Hannibal. He is also ashamed that he fears his own nephew, a war orphan.
“I would like Hannibal to begin to training with me, to learn to control himself with more accuracy,” Lady Murasaki announces and Hannibal is curious immediately. He is fascinated with her and Will sees no reason why not to see what she wants. While he is more off put by her, Will is also interested in her, this strange woman from Japan.
The next day they begin to learn meditation with her. Their uncle speaks to other Psychiatrists, seeking one of better quality than the first.
Their aunt is composed and focused as she talks them through her methods of inner calm. Will can only see his dead parents and the smell of the stew fills the room. He opens his eyes and sees the soldiers across the room, gathered around the pot of stew, desperate and starving.
It takes hours until they fade.
He does not try to mediate again.
Hannibal likes it though, he spends the morning doing it with lady Murasaki and goes back the next day. Will follows and watches silently from the side, peering at them both and trying to read their secrets as their faces grow impassive, eyes closed as they go within their minds.
He stays still and quiet but Lady Murasaki is always aware of him. She talks about inner calm to Hannibal but her gaze keeps going back to Will. She sees him as a distraction to his brother rather than a comfort. Will can read the way she perceives him as something holding Hannibal back.
The brothers remain constantly together and both their uncle and aunt have been unable to divide them. They have stopped trying but Will knows that Lady Murasaki has not given up.
She speaks of inner reflection and no distractions, talking about the individual self and exploring within. Will sees her words for what they are but Hannibal seems to think there is more to it than that.
Will almost resents that Hannibal found his words again because before it secluded them from others, Will the only who to understand and communicate with his brother. But now this woman was slow infringing and Will hates that Hannibal was taking note of her, looking at her with his curiosity and want.
They settle into a pattern, working on their schooling and meditating with their aunt. Eventually, a new doctor comes to visit once a week, far more reserved as he asks about their day and how they like France. Hannibal practices on the man, talking politely with him without ever saying anything of worth. Small talk.
Months slide by and the seasons change slowly as they continue this way. Their uncle is never quite at ease with Hannibal now but he also respects him. He’s proud of the way Hannibal defended Will that day and of whatever he did to keep them both safe during the war.
He is intensely curious about Will and what he said to the doctor as well. There was no fear but simply interest as he peers at his youngest nephew. So when a servant begins stealing Will mentions it to his uncle. The man believes him and Will can see the hunger to question Will on how he knew. But his uncle refrains from it, he doesn’t want to hurt Will. It’s strange to see someone aside from Hannibal who wants Will safe. Who has a glimpse of what he hides and doesn’t condemn Will for it.
Eventually, Will grows bored enough to admit his studies are too easy for him. They test Will and find him three levels above what they are teaching him. Adjustments are made and Will begins to learn in earnest. He doesn’t take to it as well as Hannibal but he understands the importance of it.
They continue that way for over a year.
Will is eight and Hannibal is sixteen when the problems begin. Hannibal has taken an interest in the medical field and because of his intellect he has been accepted into a prestigious medical school. He will go and learn among men much older than him. It is a rare invitation and their uncle and aunt are both pleased. Uncle Robert sees it as a great opportunity for Hannibal and Lady Murasaki sees it as an opportunity of another sort.
Will cannot follow Hannibal to the school.
During the day Hannibal will leave and in the evening he will return, five days of the week are spent away from Will. For the first week, he sits in the main foyer waiting for his brother to return. His uncle tries to coax him away but Will refuses, watching the door like a loyal dog.
Hannibal comes home and greets Will with a smile and hug, telling him of his day out and giving Will all his attention. For the first few months, Hannibal only sees Will. But eventually, lady Murasaki begins to intrude again. Ever so slowly Hannibal sees her more, looks to her at dinner and talks about his day with her as well. Eventually, they begin to meditate again and Will watches them, watches the way his aunt looks at Hannibal and the way his brother looks back. There is no room for Will between those looks.
Hannibal does not leave on the weekends, he spends his time studying or working with their aunt but Will trails after him, soaking up his brother’s presence greedily.
"Perhaps today you will go to the city with Robert?" Lady Murasaki requests of Will one Saturday morning and he turns to Hannibal, expecting him to protest as he always has. His brother surprises him by remaining quiet. It only takes a glance for Will and he can read the way that Hannibal is unwilling to send him away but at the same time wishes him to go. He wants more time with their aunt, more closeness with her and her alone.
It's a sudden sharp hurt in Will's chest, something that blooms inside him painfully and spreads. Will has long lost his tears and he will not be seen as a stubborn child so he nods his head and does not look at anyone again.
After breakfast Hannibal lingers, Lady Murasaki is waiting by the door and uncle Robert is reading the paper at the table. Will is still in his chair, staring at where his plate used to be. He can feel Hannibal's silent signals and knows his brother wants him to look at him but Will refuses, hurt and angry at him for this betrayal.
After years of only them Hannibal wants someone else now, wants a woman.
Hannibal's fingers are gentle as they brush through his hair and whispers a soft goodbye in Lithuanian but Will turns his head away, too upset and furious. After a moment Hannibal leaves and once he is gone Will feels a single livid tear that he wipes away hastily.
Anxiety crawls through him quickly, Hannibal's absence feels like it has opened a door to allow evil things through, as if the soldiers will walk into the room at any second. Will can see one of them already, standing on the patio with a steaming bowl of soup. His stomach turns and Will thinks he might be sick. He hates not having Hannibal around to chase away his demons. During the weekdays Will focuses on his studies or follows his uncle, fills his time with distractions.
The weekends are his peaceful time, when he doesn’t have to outrun the dark things. He thought Hannibal had understood that, that his brother would not take something so important away.
But for his lust, he will.
The unexpected touch of his uncle’s hand on his shoulder scares him and Will jerks away, falling from the chair and flinching away from the hands reaching for his sister.
They will not have her.
They will tear him apart before he lets her go this time.
Will comes back to himself with his arms curled around himself, digging into his body hard enough to scratch his skin. He has gouged himself bloody. No one has come running so he must not have made a sound but his uncle is watching him, kneeling on the floor away from him. Will's pressed up in the corner and half hidden behind a small display table.
“Shall I fetch Hannibal?”
Will wants to nod, he wants nothing more than to crawl into Hannibal’s warmth and security. But the truth is blunt and clear now.
Hannibal will leave him.
One day his brother will be gone, he’ll be enraptured with lady Murasaki and Will shall be forgotten. Abandoned and broken.
Left to rot.
Will shakes his head in negative. He must face this alone now.
He fights his tears, struggling to be calm as his chin trembles and his body hurts from how hard he holds it still. His teeth dig into his lip and blood drips on the floor.
His uncle watches him and Will expects there to be an underline of fear in him, everyone eventually sees something in Will that leaves them uncomfortable. If it's not the way Will sees under people's words or smiles then it's the way he loses himself sometimes. But his uncle has no fear in him, he watches with a great sadness but no trepidation of Will. He offers out a hand and Will makes himself crawl over to him.
Hannibal is not there and Will knows he cannot survive alone.
His uncle smells of his expensive aftershave and cologne with a hint or syrup from breakfast. His arms are large and feel strong and sure as he gathers Will up. It has been many years since anyone aside from Hannibal has touched Will, held him close.
"Tell me what I can do to help you," his uncle requests softly with an honesty no one else has offered Will since before the war. He tries to think of the right answer, of what is expected and then he thinks about what he actually wants. A compromise he decides.
"The sunlight please," he requests and his uncle walks them out to the patio where the warmth of the sun seeps into Will and warms his bones. When winter set in and they were trapped in the cabin, the cold seemed to over take everything. Will had doubted if he would ever feel warm again. The heat of the sun is a unique sort of heat, the kind that soaks under the skin. His mother used to say it was warming his soul.
Will clings to the man and listens to his uncle’s insides, his blood and heart moving as his stomach digests. It is a comforting thing to hear, to know he is alive.
They get up after a time and walk along the gardens and eventually Will feels calm again. Mischa is watching him, walking alongside them but she is smiling and so he tries to smile too.
It has been a long time since Will has seen her but with Hannibal leaving he welcomes the sight of her.
They go into the bathroom and clean up, his uncle careful as he wipes Will’s bloody lip and wraps the scratches he has made on his fore arms.
Despite what has happened his uncle still takes him into the city as planned and they go to an expansive art gallery to look at the work there.
"Something about art has always struck me as heavenly," his uncle explains and he shows Will paintings of gardens and scenes of the bible, of important moments in stories. They are pretty but also flat and lifeless. Their eyes are hollow like the dead but Will remains quiet because his uncle is trying, he knows.
There is a long hall with many battles portrayed and it makes his uncle nervous but Will is simply curious as he peers at them.
"Why are they painted like this?"
"Like what my boy?"
"Like it was a good thing, a glorious thing," Will looks at the flat eyes of the people, of the battles that have fields filled with dead and victory for the others, both their eyes dead. “People dying, their life slowly seeping out of them.”
"William," Uncle Robert takes a knee and ushers him close. Unsure, Will goes and the man takes his shoulders in his hands, squeezing without hurting. "All people see things differently, but many more never really see the truth. They like their stories better, they want things to be normal and are willing to overlook much to have that.”
“To be normal?” Will asked, looking at the people walking around the gallery, they way they acted and smiled politely, even when it was insincere.
“Yes. So that their lives are easy and they do not have to face the darkness of this world. They build themselves places to hide within. War is noble and glorious rather than horrific and terrible.”
Will watches the people around them then, the art isn’t as interesting now. He can see what his uncle has explained, a desperate ruse on people’s faces, trying to hide everything. They seek out what is normal and avoid what is not. Will has never been normal and so he has often upset people. It has never occurred to him to pretend to be.
They walk through a different area of the gallery and Will tries to pretend. He acts amused by the strange depictions of dogs, more so when his uncle informs him that dogs have always looked like dogs and never like what some of the art shows them as. He glances at his uncle’s face and reads him until Will acts how the man expects him to.
Afterwards, the go to the market and his uncle buys him a drawing book and pencils. Hannibal is the artist of the family but Will accepts the gift and promises to himself he will at least try. People without hobbies are unusual and drawing is a great passion around France. Artists are allowed to be odd because it helps them create great things. Will can see that they are granted more leeway and it would be best if he could find a way to have that as well. They eat lunch at a fancy café, sitting outside in the sun and a woman comes by with a box of puppies. Will pets them all and ask their names eagerly. He plays the happy boy and he can tell his uncle sees the lie but the woman does not know Will and she thinks it is him who smiles brightly.
"We had dogs before, in the stables. Big dogs. Mother and Hannibal never let me bring them in the house. Animals belong outside," Will explains as he shares bits of his sandwich with the hungry puppies. "Some people keep dogs inside though, I saw a lady with a dog on a rope and she took him in her house just down the street."
"Things are different in France you will find, some dogs do indeed live in house with people," he uncle explains and the woman with the puppies is eager and intent on something and when she offers a puppy to Will he frowns and looks at his uncle in confusion.
"There are too many of them for her to keep so she is trying to find someone to take them," Uncle Robert explains looking thoughtfully at the puppies as they squirm and yip. "Do you think you could look after one Will? It's a great responsibility to look after another living thing."
Will doesn't understand at once what is being offered to him but when he does he sits up and nods his head seriously. "I could.” He has always wanted a dog of his own, not just a stable dog. His Father has promised when he was older that he could have one. But that was before the war and all things before it are no longer true.
The sudden change in him seems to surprise them both and then the woman looks infinitely sad. She can see the war has touched Will like many of the children and the greed in her recedes. She picks out the smallest puppy and offers it to Will who carefully accepts it.
"This one is the littlest, he needs to most care, someone to protect him, could you?" She speaks French.
"I can," he tells her in her language and she smiles at him before wandering off, turning away from Uncle Robert and the money he has. Everyone Will has encountered so far as always taken from him, no one has ever given without an expectation. But the woman walks away with an easy smile and doesn't look back.
"Why did she do that?" Will switches back to Lithuanian as he asks, muddled by the woman’s actions.
"She gave you a gift, a kindness," his uncle offers as he watches Will hold the squirming puppy and feed him the sandwich crust.
“All things come at a price.”
“…not all my boy,” his uncle replies and Will doesn’t believe him, not truly, but he nods his head anyway because he knows that is what his uncles wants. Will can play this game, can pretend to be something else, something more normal.
"You'll have to think up a good name," his uncle says after a long silence. He pays the bill and gathers Will who goes along, carrying his puppy in his arms. It's too small to walk along side them yet.
"A little joy is good for the soul," he teases Will and the boy tries out a grin, something light and carefree. It feels strange on his face and he wonders how long it has been since he has really smiled.
"I always thought a dog was a good companion in the sense that no matter what, they will adore you utterly and you will always be the center of their world."
Will glances up at his uncle, seeing the words hidden under the statement and he tries not to think of Hannibal, happy with someone else. He nods his head and hugs the dog.
"I'll try not to both him so much anymore," he tells his uncle and the man looks a touch startled before it fades into a quiet sadness. "I know that the way I hold on is too much to be normal. People will talk eventually and they will not understand. Like the war?”
"…You are a brilliant boy aren't you?"
When they return Hannibal is waiting, their uncles goes into the house and Will tries to follow him but his brother blocks him. He tilts Will’s head up and inspects his bloody lip. Will offers no answer and instead ducks away from Hannibal and hurries into the house.
They have dinner that evening and Hannibal is watching Will keenly but he keeps his eyes down. His puppy is in a basket in the kitchen with the staff minding it for him while he eats. Uncle Robert talks about their day, the things they saw and did, he doesn't mention the things they spoke of or when Will lost time in the morning. He tries to draw Will in, asking what he thought of a painting and if he could describe the silly misshapen dogs they saw some of the work. Lady Murasaki is polite as she inquires but Will only feels the press of a blade in his chest when she looks at him. He's not ready to forgive her for taking Hannibal away. If he ever will be able to even. He answers the questions quietly and never once looks up from his plate.
After dinner he and his puppy are sent to bed, his uncle dotes on him and allows Will to bring the puppy with him to sleep. The dog has had a thorough bath and has eaten a fine meal, it’s happy and sated.
Hannibal is allowed to stay up later and usually, Will goes to his bed to wait for his brother. They have slept together since before the war even, Mischa curled up with them. Since then it has always been the two of them. Will’s nightmares have faded, he only wakes a few times a month soaked in sweat and shaking. Even still though, they have always shared their bed, safety and security. During the war, it was their entire family that would huddle close together ever night, with their mother and father surrounding them. When they were gone, it was Hannibal and Will curled around Mischa, and finally, just the two of them clinging.
Will's puppy is awake and excited and so Will goes to his own room and turns down the bed for the first time. It feels too big and cold but the puppy romps and bounces and Will distracts himself with what he will name the dog.
He lies on the plump pillow and lets the puppy chew on his fingers. Will knows he won’t sleep without Hannibal nearby but he decides to try anyway. He wants to punish his cruel brother and hopes Hannibal does not sleep well without him.
When the bedroom door across from his own clicks open Will closes his eyes and pretends to be asleep. After a moment his own door opens and closes, footsteps along the floor. The puppy gives a wobbly bark and then yelps when it hits the floor.
Will opens his eyes and sits up immediately angry as Hannibal stares blankly at the animal he pushed off the bed. Will silently slips from the bed and gathers his puppy up before crawling back in. He hugs his dog and pets him soothingly, turning his back to his brother.
“Go away,” he grumbles and waits for Hannibal to obey. Instead the blanket is pulled and Hannibal slips in, pressing to Will’s back as he squirms unhappily.
“Why must you be so greedy?” Hannibal asks him, whispering in Will’s ear. His scorn makes the boy’s eyes burn and Will closes them so he can’t cry.
“Why don’t you go sleep with her?”
“Shall my all be for you and only you? It what you have not enough? Do you think such a thing would be allowed?”
Will is hurt and he wants to hurt Hannibal. Secrets turn in his mind and everyone that Hannibal has Will knows.
“At least you tried with Mischa. With me, you’re happy to see me go.” It’s a pointed strike and Hannibal grows tense behind him. Will hopes he’s miserable.
Still, with his brother there, Will’s body grows exhausted and he eventually falls asleep.
Come morning Hannibal and his puppy are gone.
Will dresses and goes looking for his dog, sensing something is wrong when a servant looks at him oddly. His uncle has a box by the back door and he beckons Will over sadly.
“He must have fallen in the night, a staff member found him at the bottom of the stairs,” he explains gently as he shows Will his puppy that is now dead. He doesn’t have to pretend when tears burn down his face.
Will picks him up, he is cold and stiff but Will cradles the dead animal.
He looks up when lady Murasaki comes over, Hannibal standing at the door without a hint of remorse. There is a smug edge about him that tells Will all he needs to know.
“You’re allowed others but I’m not?” He accuses his brother and turns away from him, hugging the puppy as he sits and hates his brother.
His uncle takes Hannibal aside and they talk lowly, lies being spun no doubt. Will doesn’t watch them but rather looks up to his aunt, wondering how hard it would be to toss her down the stairs in the night. Something in his eyes must show because she frowns at him.
Hannibal goes to his meditation with her and Will goes into the city with his uncle.
They go to a breeder who has Dogue de Bordeaux dogs.
“French Mastiff is another title for them,” his uncle explains as Will pets the very large dogs. They go home with a full grown and trained one. He obeys all his commands and Will is fairly sure he could climb up and ride his dog. It might in fact, be a small pony. His name is Fort and Will is allowed to change that but he likes the name.
Fort seems to understand that Will is his now and he walks close beside him. He’s not a jumpy puppy but a somber companion. Will thinks it might suit him better and he’s half tempted to rename the dog Hannibal if only to be petty.
His uncle hadn’t believed the puppy’s death was an accident though, he will watch the new dog more closely and Will doubts Hannibal will hurt it under scrutiny.
Will sits in the garden after, drawing nothing in his sketchbook for a long while. Then he walks Fort and throws sticks for him as the dog vaults over bushes and dashes through the yard, showing off his powerful form. It becomes a daily ritual for them, playing in the gardens.
When Will accidentally rips a book on plants he took from the study, his uncle shows him no scorn. He instead fetches the gardener who dutiful explains all the plants to Will that are not in the book.
Come the evening Will comes to dinner dirt smeared and stained, his torn book on plants now filthy and a mess with Will’s own notes added. He sits at the table with dirt under his nails. He smiles brightly and plays the little boy who knows no better. Since he has begun to act more like what people expect a child should Will has noticed an immediate change. The staff are more friendlier to him and people smile more at him. He fits what they want and therefore he is allowed among them. His uncle and aunt are unsure and Hannibal sees through his game. But none of them say a word on it.
“Go wash your hands please,” his aunt requests and Will blinks down at them as if he forgot.
“Sorry,” he apologizes and goes to wash up, a staff brings him a fluffy towel to dry his hands with a secret wink and Will smiles at her.
Fort sits at his feet, not begging but aware when Will ‘drops’ bits of food. Hannibal immediately tells him to stop but his uncle hides a smile so Will keeps doing it.
“Will,” his brother warns as they eat. Hannibal had always been strict but of late his sense of manners has grown ridged. He mimics their aunt in a way, demanding a certain protocol. They no longer spend every second together when they can. Hannibal trails after their aunt and Will spends his time in the gardens with his dog or in the city with their uncle. There is a tension in both brothers because of it, in the evening they curl up tightly again, clinging to one another. But each morning they part without comment.
Their uncle has praised Will for it, telling him it is good to have space between them.
And so Will plays his little boy game and Hannibal slowly builds a mask based off their aunt’s teachings. His is more polite then ever and beginning to insist on formality that Will dislikes immensely.
So Will take a certain pleasure in ruining it when he can and so he keeps feeding his pet.
It goes on until his brother sets his fork down and stands. He moves to take Fort from the room but Will throws his arms around his dog and refuses.
“There is no place for animals during dinner,” his aunt announces and his uncle goes along with a sad look for Will.
“No! He’s fine. He wasn’t doing anything bad.”
“But you were, I told you to stop and you refused. Lady Murasaki is right either way, the animal should be outside,” Hannibal decrees and Fort goes along with a whine.
Will wants to shout and scream but he knows it’s too far gone to change anything.
Instead, he eats his meal silently and goes to bed immediately, dirtying the sheets up so Hannibal will be forced to change them when he comes to bed.
Things need to be clean now. His brother cannot stand messes.
Hannibal sighs when he arrives but silently changes the bedding, making Will stand up sleepily as he switches everything. He scrubs Will down as well, putting him to bed pink and clean. Fort sleeps on the floor, a plush cushion just for him. Hannibal slides in behind Will and pulls him close. For all his hostility, Will goes and turns to snuggle into his brother’s chest, hugging tightly and muttering a good night.
No matter how they rage at one another in the daylight, they always curl up in the darkness of the night.
The next day Will plays in the garden, he reads his book and picks leaves. While Hannibal refuses to get as dirty as him, he does follow Will and listen to him talk about various plants. He shows Hannibal which ones can be eaten and which are poison. His brother smiles indulgently and listens to Will ramble.
Hannibal is away at school the next day and so lady Murasaki drinks her tea alone. In the afternoon she is ill, face pale as she lies down for the day. Uncle Robert joins her and so Will spends his lunch in the kitchen, eating with the staff who let Fort in to sit with him. They do not mind that Will shared his food with the dog.
“She’s just extra tired,” Will offers to the staff, smiling brightly and playing at being a little boy. “Her and Hannibal stay up late sometimes.”
“Oh?” the woman inquires, trying to sound mild even as everyone in the kitchen is suddenly paying close attention. They all know the boys share a room at night, that the war had done that.
“She comes to visit him at night and they go for a walk.”
Will talks about his dog then, bright and happy, playing unaware as the staff whispers furiously.
Come dinner Will watches lady Murasaki sit across from him at the table. Her face is still pale and Will considers his options.
“I’m sorry,” he finally bursts out, lip trembling as his uncle and aunt look to him curiously. Hannibal is more reserved but also far more aware.
“It was supposed to help,” Will explains and shows them his book with plants, a leaf that is easy to mix up with another is commonly used in teas.
“I put it in the tea holder in the kitchen, I didn’t mean for you to get sick,” he explains with tears and his aunt frowns at him, her sharp gaze digging. But Will has practiced this and she slowly believes him.
“In the future, you will show the staff anything you bring in,” she tells him and Will nods his head eagerly. He goes to her chair and hugs her, mumbling another apology. His uncle smiles pleased and his aunt awkwardly allows him his hug. Hannibal observes it all without a word, watching Will.
After, he goes up to bed and Will sits up drawing nothing for a bit before he hears Hannibal coming. He hides his sketchbook under the bed quickly and curls up in the bed.
“You know your plants very well,” Hannibal points out as he changes for bed and Will nods sleepily. He pulls the leaf from under the bed and leaves it on Hannibal’s pillow. His brother picks it up and turns it over as he examines it.
When Will showed Hannibal the plants the day before, he made certain to let him see the Nightshade. It was very beautiful to look at but also poisonous. If Will had put that in the tea tin, lady Murasaki would be dead.
“I don’t have to let you have her. You’re lucky I’m forgiving and that uncle brought me Fort,” Will tells him sleepily. There is no real fear in him, Hannibal might become mad but he’s not at the point of abandoning Will just yet.
Hannibal turns the plant over slowly before smiling softly. He presses a kiss to Will’s brow before crawling into the bed with him. “A selfish boy.”
Will curls up and dozes off happily. Hannibal understands what Will is telling him, that if his brother wants to be cruel Will can as well. If Hannibal puts their aunt before him too often Will shall simply make her go away. Anyone else would be livid but Hannibal simply understands.
Will is eleven when his uncle finds his sketchbook of nothing. Will has taken pains to hide the book from Hannibal. His nothings are smears compared to Hannibal’s elegant drawings. His elder brother looks at something and then perfectly replicates it so easily. Will tried a few times but was utterly awful at it. So he draws nothing and is content with it. Still, he doesn’t want anyone to see it so he hides his book away.
His uncle catches him one morning, curled up on the balcony in the sun with Fort sleeping beside him. Hannibal is at his school and their aunt is in the city shopping. Will starts when his uncle appears and before he can close his book his uncle notices it.
“A sketchbook? Yes, I did purchase you one long ago didn’t I?” His uncle bends down to peer curiously and Will gives up the sketchbook hesitantly. Over the years he has perfected his normal boy. He acts exactly how he should; he adores his uncle and aunt and loves his brother. He makes messes in the dirt and does well at his studies. He is a kind little boy with a tragic past and it makes people dote on him. Will as learned that rather than strength, playing at being weak is far superior. If people don’t even know to be weary, it gives you all of the power.
His uncle flips through the nothing drawings, turning the sketchbook this way and that to peer at them.
“Tell me about this one?”
Will blinks at it, the lines long worn and faded over, smudged from existence mostly but still visible.
His uncle makes another sound and flips through the book until he points to another one. Its only smudged shapes mostly, light soft things that come with a hazy blur.
“These are very good Will.” His uncle tells him and Will is confused because they are nothing drawings but his uncle is not lying to him. He goes so far as to insist that an art tutor come to the house and work with Will. One of the many rooms in the house is used as a studio, different from Hannibal's own room for painting. The room is given to Will so he can explore his art.
Hannibal and Murasaki are both intrigued by Will’s ‘secret’ art but he refuses to show them. They will be disappointed he is certain. Will doesn’t want to share what he does with his aunt and he doesn’t want his brother to see how strange his work is, that Will can do nothing normal. Not truly.
Still, the tutor comes on Monday and looks through his sketchbook.
“Color I believe is the next step,” he tells Will and shows him oil paints. They are messy and muddy and so Will doesn’t like them, they don’t blend in the same way as pencil. The old man doesn’t disagree and the next day he comes with watercolors. They are thin and layer over one another endlessly, Will is immediately delighted by them.
Will wakes one night to find Hannibal out of bed and going through his sketchbook that Will was still hiding. His brother is peering at each page for minutes before going to the next.
It is not surprising. Hannibal has no patience when it comes to this sort of thing. The very idea that Will has been drawing for so long without him knowing likely annoys him.
“They are intriguing. Abstract works that are deeply complicated despite the simplicity,” he tells Will who shrugs and yawns, curling into his pillow.
“They're nothing,” he explains and his brother shakes his head.
"I must disagree, they are far from nothing.”
Three times a week he has to go to school. He has tutors for every day but three times he sits in a classroom of kids his age in order to be social. Will uses them as mirrors, practicing what a ‘normal’ child should be like. He never befriends any of them beyond occasional talking to at lunch but his uncle and aunt don’t push him.
Will plays his normal boy game carefully and his teacher is pleased with him. He says Will is a bright and well-adjusted boy, a survivor of his situation. That he is above average intellect and that he can do anything he wishes to. They encourage Will to pick a education field early and are certain he will be like his brother, already a rising name in medicine despite only being nineteen.
Now alongside his schooling Will learns more about art, it’s history and development, key artists and methods. It’s interesting enough and Will likes that his uncle lets him hide it all away, keeping his work from his brother and aunt.
Will is certain that Hannibal has lost his tolerance and comes into the studio to snoop at night. For all his scolding that Will clings too tightly, Hannibal is far worse. He would never stand to have anyone know something about Will that he himself didn’t know as well.
His uncle and aunt throw endless events, great parties that bring the whole city it feels. Will used to be sent to bed beforehand but now he is allowed up late for a bit.
He doesn’t like the events, there are too many people there and it feels like suffocating. Will can play his role with individuals best, the more people that come, the worse his mask slips. Still, it would be odd for him to have no interest in the parties and so he sits on the stairs and watches the dance room sometimes.
He observes them dance around the room like dolls that whisper like snakes behind their smiles. Hannibal spends his time constantly spinning ladies. Rarely he can dance with lady Murasaki and he enjoys that the most. Will puts his jealousy to one side and listens to the staff gossip about them. About their midnight ‘walks’ together.
Just like the watercolors, patience was the key.
People often talk about Hannibal and their aunt, about how close they are and what is appropriate to be between them. Enough of the gossip spreads that every moment they spend together is scrutinized. Because of that, it is rare for Hannibal to take lady Murasaki out with only them. Anytime they do go together alone, to a play or some event, people talk for days. It limits them and Will feels no guilt for it. If his aunt is willing to take what little time Will has with Hannibal then he will punish her in kind.
Will’s art tutor begins to act oddly.
Will can see a strange hunger in his eyes when he looks at Will. It’s confusing at first but as the days go by Will begins to understand it. The man wants from Will what Hannibal wants from their aunt.
There is a staff woman in the kitchens, Sara, who meets a delivery boy aside the house every Sunday. Will has watched them form the trees unnoticed and he understands the idea of sex vaguely. Sara will lift her skirts and let the young man rut into her, ramming her against the side of the house, grunting like an animal. They both seem to enjoy it immensely.
The act of intercourse itself it obvious enough, they had animals growing up after all.
“Let me help you,” his art tutor tells him, taking Will’s hand in his own and leading him, leaning over him with his chest pressed close to Will’s back and bottom.
Will lets him.
He’s curious where this will all lead to and so it’s annoying when Hannibal sees.
He comes to surprise Will one day, sneaking in to try and see the paintings Will still hides, just to be contrary. The door doesn’t creak but Fort opens an eye and so Will knows someone is there. He keeps his head down but glances in the window to catch the reflection of Hannibal.
His brother frowns in a odd way and so Will sits up, out of his tutors lap as he keeps painting.
The old man startles badly when he noticed Hannibal, he wrings his hands and apologizes for not being more observant. Hannibal watches him with his sharp eyes, picking him apart. Will fights down a smile as he paints at nothing and his teacher is politely interrogated.
Hannibal is too fixated on the man to focus on Will’s painting.
After dinner, Will can hear Hannibal requesting his uncle’s time as he and Fort go to bed. Will imagines that his art tutor will not be coming back.
“It’s dangerous and perverse what he wanted from you,” Hannibal tells him when he comes to bed later. He does not pretend that he thinks Will did not know already.
“Did he bribe you?” Hannibal prods and Will turns onto his back to peer over at his brother.
Will shakes his head and fights a yawn.
“Why did you let him Will? That repulsive man pressed up against you like that,” Hannibal curls his lip in disgust and Will hides a laugh. “It’s not a game Will, this is different.”
“I know,” Will tells him serenely.
His brother huffs and frowns down at Will, trying to read him. Hannibal has become very good at it but Will is very good at hiding now.
Finally, Hannibal huffs again and presses a kiss to Will’s cheek and then curls into bed with him. They press up against one another and Will takes comfort in the warmth of his brother.
“I liked it, that’s why I let him,” he whispers into the darkness, a secret he knows Hannibal will keep for him even though it will haunt him.
Will does not expect his brother's hand to reach for him. They are laid out on their sides, facing the same direction and tucked close. Hannibal’s hand slides over Will’s chest and down over his sleeping pants. Long clever fingers cup him intimately, squeezing gently as Will squirms. He pressed his face into his pillow but doesn’t protest. Hannibal’s touch feels good, the art teacher was never this bold. Pressing into the feeling Will rubs himself into his brother’s hand.
“So deprived, so dirty Will,” he brother scolds softly, a teasing edge to his words. He presses himself close to Will’s back, his breath on Will’s neck, his lips brushing his skin.
“S’not, it’s perfectly normal, Uncle said so,” Will grumbles back and his brother goes still behind him. Immediately Will knows Hannibal has misunderstood. He thinks their uncle has touched Will like this. It is tempting to play with the lie, to make his brother think it true. He wonders if it would hurt Hannibal as much as it did him when he chose their aunt over Will. He wonders if it would seep under his skin and burn.
But Will knows if Hannibal believes such a thing, he will kill their uncle for it.
“Not like that, we had the ‘growing up’ talk. I mess the sheets in the morning when you leave,” Will explains and Hannibal slowly relaxes, his hand touching again.
He rubs Will until it is too much. With a shiver he feels himself mess, a wet warmth in his sleeping clothing.
Hannibal changes him, Will following what he wants sleepily as he stands in the bathroom and lets his brother clean his stomach and groin. They curl up together and Will sleeps deeply.
Will’s uncle and aunt find reasons to be in the room for his tutoring now, they read or write in the corner while Will is taught. Even those who taught him for years are under their scrutiny. They want to protect him he supposes. It’s a kind thought but the monsters have long had their way with Will. If they had wanted to save him they should have brought him to France before the war.
But it is nice of them.
Will paints his nothings and eventually his aunt and brother get to see them properly. His uncle walks friends through Will’s studio and shows them. For whatever reason, people are very taken with the work. So he keeps making them, he paints great big ones that take up the wall. He has to use a ladder to reach some places on them. People are always pleased by them and as an artist Will is allowed to be a bit off. When his normal boy mask slips a bit people write it off as the artist within him.
“You paint emotions?” Hannibal asks him, peering at the canvas Will is working on, reading between the lines of the colors as they bleed into each other.
“People.” Will explains and Hannibal comprehends right away. There are no recognizable shapes or forms, just colors spilled and splattered. They lay atop one another like the secrets of a person’s face. Their eyes are always a way in so Will paints them without ever painting actual eyes.
“Uncle Robert is very pleased, he was worried what you would do with yourself.”
Will nods, he already knows he will go to art school after his basic education. He had thought languages at first but decided art because artists are known for feeling things, for being odd and outlandish.
“The new tutor is teaching me color theory.”
“I would disregard it, your colors are already sophisticated,” Hannibal replies and Will can feel a flush of warmth through him at his brother’s praise. For whatever reason, Hannibal thinks Will’s work is lovely and that is another reason he wants to keep doing it. He can’t help but glow under his brother’s approval and Will is not capable of restricting himself from it.
In the night Hannibal continues to touch Will, rubbing his hands over him, cupping his backside. He licks at Will’s neck, biting and sucking at his skin as Will whines and shoves into the good feelings. Hannibal presses himself to Will now, rubbing against his backside, grinding until he hisses softly. Will recognizes he will take more in time so he does not press. Will knows nothing about the workings of sex so he lets Hannibal guide them. He will take what he wants and Will gives it freely. It is one more thing that Will had given his brother that their aunt has not. Eventually she will,but not yet. Will would have had it first.
Hannibal is preparing to move to Paris to study medicine at the most esteemed school when it happens.
Will is not there when they go to the market. He chose to remain at home and paint, dipping his bare toes in splatters on the floor and paying no mind to anything. His aunt, uncle, and brother arrive home early with a clatter. There are harsh hissed words and Will leaves his workroom, tracking red watercolor down the hall as he follows the voices. There are twisted in anger and pain, both his uncle and aunt echo it but it is Hannibal’s rage that draws him in.
His brother is furious and his aunt has her back straight and her face closed off of emotion. His uncle is red-faced with anger and pain, his left hand clenching strangely. He takes in a great wheezy breath and Will runs to his side.
“Uncle Robert?” Will asks with genuine fear as Hannibal come to his other side, frowning as he feels for their uncle’s pulse. The man slips from the chair, gasping in pain and Will’s small weight can’t bare him as they all fall to the floor in a heap. Hannibal is calm and lady Murasaki worried but in control as she watches it all unwind. Staff come running when Hannibal calls them and they help. Will is pushed out of the way and told to stay back. Fort whines and butts at his side as Will obediently stands aside and watches his uncle die.
A heart attack.
He didn’t remember his own father very well. His childhood was mainly Hannibal and Mischa. He can recall his father, a tall and regal man, stern but kind. Soft on his younger children, more ridged with Hannibal, the heir. His mother was prim and proper, her heart set on Mischa, her only daughter. But she loved all her children and smiled sweetly at them. It feels like it was a lifetime ago and Will can’t help but think that his uncle is as close to a father as he has had.
Hannibal is something else entirely and their own father is a distant memory.
Will sits outside the bedroom with Ford as they bring in doctors and confirm the death. A heart attack brought on by stress and high emotion. Something happened at the market, someone spoke against lady Murasaki and their uncle defended her. Terrible words were said and the stress follow them home, slithering around their uncle and killing him.
Will waits until everyone is gone, Hannibal showing the last person out down the hall. Carefully he peers into the dim room, his uncle laid out on his bed with a white cloth over his face. His aunt at the bedside head bowed. Everything about her has always been veiled. Every emotion and thought that ran through her are filtered through a mask. Will has never seen her bare before but as he watches her now, head bowed in her loss, he thinks he might be seeing her for the first time.
Hannibal’s hand is warm on Will’s neck as he turns him to hide against his brother. Will cries for his uncle and clings to his brother, wanting to be lifted as he was when he was a child. He want’s Hannibal to hold him close and keep him safe.
His brother’s fingers card through his hair gently and then he presses Will back a touch. Hannibal goes into the room and stands beside their aunt, reaching out a hand to rest on her slender shoulder.
Will stands in the doorway on the outside of the room, devastated. Fort beside him loyally. After that moment Will carries a tender heart for dogs, Fort is the only thing keeping him standing as he world come crashing down.
Hannibal is where he wants to be, Will realizes.
His heart is sore already but now it feels cut open as he watches his brother comfort lady Murasaki. The jealousy and anger in him feel numb to the knowledge that Will had been right to expect Hannibal to leave him. It is not his right to try and force his brother to stay either. Will is simply not enough for him, fond smiles over nothing paints and the warmth of his body beside him at night cannot replace all the things their aunt is to Hannibal. Even the touching, shared orgasms in the shadows are not enough.
Will is not enough.
He closes the door gently so they can be alone and he goes to paint. It’s an easy thing to do, the ritual of preparing, of fetching clean water and filling various cups with it. Of laying out his brushes and setting up his paints. Fort lies out on the carpet that’s stained with Will’s red footprints and sleeps. As he goes through his preparations Will’s hands slowly stop shaking, his tears eventually dry out.
For a bit he works blindly on a painting already started but Will eventually puts it aside and starts a new one.
He uses reds. He paints all the warmth and comfort his brother gives him, all the twisted and confused emotions he feels for him. Will tries to put down his jealousy and possessiveness. His happiness and the joy that only Hannibal can grant him. He marks the blood that fills them both, bound together by it. A single great heart that beats between them. The shapes of the muscles that move them. It’s midday before Will realizes he’s painted the night through.
A staff member has left him tea and croissant. Once he sees it, he realizes how hungry his is, dinner, breakfast, and lunch have all been missed. Will sits on his stool and eats, eyeing his painting as the door clicks and Hannibal comes in. He examines the works critically, peering at it from different angles. He’s never babied Will about his artwork, if he doesn’t like something he says so. Will wonders how ironic it would be if he disliked this work, everything between them put to canvas.
“Exquisite,” he finally declares. “Who is it?”
“No one.” Will lies, sipping his cold tea. “It’s loss.”
Hannibal comes to stand behind him, leaning over to press a soft kiss to Will’s brow.
It feels cold.
The staff and community are ripe with gossip and Will listens to it closely. They hold a funeral for his uncle and it has many of the traditions of lady Murasaki’s culture mixed in. Hannibal is now the count of their family and what he allows everyone must obey. So the funeral is primarily of Japanese culture. Will doesn’t mind or care much about it, his uncle is still dead either way.
Hannibal stands proud and regal at their aunt’s side and Will thinks he looks a great deal like their father. Perhaps like their uncle even.
Afterwards Will slips from the church as people come in droves to mourn with Hannibal and lady Murasaki. There is a new head of the Lecter wealth and they are eager to make good with him.
Will walks the streets aimlessly throughout the day. He listens to people chatter and turns plans over in his head. As the sun dips and the darkness rises, Will heads to the market.
Will walks down into the closed market paths, finding and exploring the butcher stall. It’s a beat up structure, abused for many years with knife marks from anger and dents from being kicked. The butcher has a lewd reputation; he speaks terrible things often and is thought to be a Nazi.
He finds the butcher at the slaughterhouse just outside the city, a large barn where the animals are turned into meat. Will finds a spot to watch unseen in a high window ledge and listens to the men talk. Some work silently, many are there to do a job and nothing more. Will sits quietly as the butcher laughs about his uncle, mocks him as a old man who’s yellow wife was being fucked by his nephew. He leers and laughs, talks about lady Murasaki as a whore and piece of filth. Some men laugh with him but most remain quiet. The butcher is truly not well liked, Will notes.
There are lambs to be slaughtered and Will watches the butcher chase after one when it tires to slip away. They head out into the dark fields, away from the others. Will follows him quietly, the lamb crying as the butcher swears at it, not able to catch it. The man grows lazy and Will watches him stop to urinate, his back to him as Will gets closer.
It’s hard without Hannibal, Will isn’t used to being the bulk.
He times it wrong and the man sees him try to sneak up. He twists to backhand Will hard enough to make him stagger. Will is only twelve and his body is weak. The man is cruel and shows Will no mercy, he reminds him of the solider that took Mischa, dragged her out and chopped her up for food.
The man kicks Will in the stomach hard, he knocks the wind from him and spits on him. Will has his knife though and he buries it in the man’s thigh, making him hollow in anger. He kicks Will harder for it but he clings to the man’s leg, pulling the knife out and struggling to sink it in again. Will knows enough of Hannibal’s medical journal that he has hit the right place the first time. There is blood everywhere and before he can get back to the slaughterhouse, the man will bleed out.
The butcher is a large man though and he pins Will to the dirt. Rolling him onto his stomach and kneeling on his back. He yank’s Will up by his hair, making him bend his back painfully and pressed the knife to his throat.
“Little animal,” he spits at him. “Shall I slaughter you like one then?”
Will fights him, not caring as blood seeps down his neck.
Will is not enough.
He doesn’t care if he survives this.
The butcher is yanked off of him and Will slumps to the ground panting as he watches Hannibal slice the man’s other thigh open. They are far enough from the slaughterhouse that no one hears his screams amidst the animal’s dying sounds from within. The shrieking lambs mask the noise.
The butcher rolls in the dirt in agony as Hannibal knees over Will and gently check’s his neck. He takes out a white handkerchief and presses it to Will’s skin, lifting Will’s hand to hold it there before he turns back to the man.
He has one of their aunt’s swords, an old ancient thing that cuts through the man like warm butter.
“Like an animal,” Will tells him and Hannibal makes the next cut, up along his arm. Will watches his brother systematically cut the man up, lopping off his limbs slowly. He uses his medical knowledge to drag out the pain, to make the agony linger as long as possible.
“This is not when or where I planned,” Hannibal pants afterward, looking around the empty field. Will looks back to the slaughterhouse and knows what to do. They have closed down for the night but the machinery is all hand worked.
Hannibal is stronger than Will expected and he watches his brother work, his shoulder moving smoothly as he grinds the meat and strips the bone.
The little lamb returns, calling for its siblings who have all been butchered. Will gathers it on his lap and it is comforted by his warmth. It dozes as Hannibal works into the night. He puts the meat with the rest, mixing the man with the animals to be devoured by others.
His head he take with him and Will watches Hannibal pause as they leave. He steps back in and returns with a package of meat. Will knows it is the butcher and he says nothing as they walk home. Will’s stomach hurts from the beating but he carries the lamb with him. Refusing to put it down or let Hannibal take it. Its warmth is a comfort to him and Will’s not sure what will happen if someone takes it from him.
They arrive home and clean off in the garden under freezing water. The staff is gone or asleep as they creep upstairs. Hannibal washes Will in the tub, looking after his cuts and bruises. His neck hurts but it’s not deep enough to require stitches. It will not scar his brother assures him. Will shrugs, uncaring.
Fort sits with the lamb licking its ears as the little thing curls up to him, not knowing better. Will watches them, the great big dog and the little lamb and he wonders how akin they are to him and his brother. Or at least how they must seem.
Hannibal puts Will to bed, curling the blankets over them and letting Will snuggle in to him tightly.
“You must never do that again,” Hannibal commands him and Will knows he isn’t talking about the killing. But rather that Will went without him.
He yawns and nods his head, knowing he will eventually do it again. But by then Hannibal’s gaze will have been drawn away from him completely.
Hannibal presents the head to lady Murasaki for the loss of her husband. Will isn't there with him when he does, instead Will plays the innocent who tried to steal a lamb to make up for his uncle's death.
Will is twelve and people often think that means he is too young to be an intellect. But Will has always been different, sharp in understanding and observation. He tells the kitchen staff that he tried to steal the lamb and the butcher caught him and beat him. Hannibal came and saved him and the sheep followed them. The listen avidly as the lamb eats grain and they cook and prepare part of the dead butcher. Hannibal is listening outside the door and when he enters the staff is happy to see him, praising him for looking after his foolish little brother.
They eat the butcher for breakfast.
Hannibal takes a certain pleasure in the act.
Will had wondered if it would make him ill but it doesn’t. It’s nothing like choking down the stew made of his little sister. The butcher was a monster, he killed Will’s uncle. So he eats the man now, swallowing bits of meat as Hannibal talks about recipes. He’s taken an interest in cooking lately.
“Will needs to eat more as his begins adolescence,” Hannibal says simply when his aunt asks about his newfound hobby. “I had thought to learn what would suit him best.”
Their aunt frowns at the response because it indicates Hannibal’s intent to be feeding Will in the coming years. Will wonders if she had truly thought Hannibal would leave Will behind when he went to Paris to study.
The police come eventually to ask questions and Hannibal retells the story to them, explaining that he only took Will and ran from the scene. The kitchen staff who have known Will for many years are quick to agree. A few of them stay in the staff quarters and one swears she saw them coming home long before they did. That Will was hurt and Hannibal cleaned him up and put them to bed. The lamb was in the yard in the morning.
Lady Murasaki goes along with the lies.
When they insist on taking Hannibal into the station for further questions she leaves as well, sneaking out while pretending to be laying down. Hannibal comes home shortly after and explains that the butchers head was found on the police steps with a swastika carved in, punished for his war crimes. Because Hannibal was in the police station at the time and his family all at home, the police were forced to release him.
Many people speak out as well, uplifting Hannibal as a good young man and shaming the police for being cruel during the hard time of their uncle's death. Most of the people are merely trying to win favor with Hannibal but enough of them are genuinely in support, people who watched them grow up in the community and believe them good children. Eventually the police must move on. One inspector, Popil, watched Hannibal with a knowing in his gaze. Will can see that he knows Hannibal killed the man, there is no doubt in him. But the inspector also knows he cannot prove it.
What has happened has shaken lady Murasaki and so they move. Hannibal is to attend medical school in Paris and they purchase a flat there, a decadent place with balconies and a garden, smaller then their own but a garden none the less. Will brings his dog Fort and the lamb he calls Mina. The city is no place for an animal Murasaki lectures but Will refuses to be moved and eventually Hannibal caves and allows it. Mina wanders their gardens, eating half of it and terrorizing the gardener. Will sits in his window and watches when he needs to laugh.
Hannibal is named one of the youngest to enter the acclaimed medical school and he does well. He wears the regal lord well but is also kind and very much an intellect. This all serves to make him well liked. He attends countless parties and events, taking a taste for operas and plays. Will goes along sometimes but they bore him, people pretending to feel things that Will sees through too easily. He watches the lead singer pretend to mourn the dead lover in the play while in reality he is annoyed at the stage hand for not lighting him right and he suspects one of the violinists of sleeping with his wife. It's all very boring after a few times. So Murasaki goes in his place and Will focus on his artwork. A part of him wants to keep going just to come between his aunt and brother but in the end, Will knows it won’t matter. The time is coming quickly when Hannibal will toss him aside.
So Will works away on his arts and he begins attending an art school rather then having another tutor. It gets him out of the house and lets him interact with people without Hannibal watching. It's very easy to find the teachers and classmates who are attracted to him and to encourage it as he pleases.
Will needs to learn these things, to prepare for when Hannibal will not be there. He lets their aunt go to plays with Hannibal because he knows that is what his brother truly wants. That if he were asked to choose, Hannibal would want the woman he lusts, perhaps even loves.
Will takes up fencing in his free time, along with his lovers. While his brother and aunt make the Lecter name a respectable thing, Will learns about fighting and fucking.
The butcher had overpowered him far too easily and Will decided he should know how to defend himself. For when he is alone, Hannibal gone off to some far place with their aunt.
Murasaki offers to help him practice and Will surprises them both by accepting. He's careful around her, reserved and watchful and she is the same in turn. However she doesn't see him the same way she sees Hannibal. Lady Murasaki thinks Hannibal killed the butcher alone, that Will truly was a bystander of it all. He plays on that and learns that she is worried for Hannibal and the path he is on. She thinks he may slip into the darkness if he's not careful and Will honestly doesn't know how to tell her that the darkness embraced them both long ago.
They go along though, Will slowly forming a distant but genuine relationship with his aunt for the first time much to his brother's delight. Will knows Hannibal is not sleeping with their aunt but that he wants to. Lady Murasaki begins to become easier to read as Will spends more time around her and Will learns that she returns Hannibal's affections because he reminds her of her husband.
Will just watches it all, resigned to eventually be left behind.
In the nights Hannibal still touches him, he pushes himself up against Will’s back and explains sex to him, demonstrating the things he talks about, masturbation, fingering, prostate massage. Hannibal’s low calm voice talks Will through each orgasm his brother’s hands bring him to. He explains what an orgasm is, showing Will the white sticky semen on his palm when they are done. Each night Will can feel Hannibal’s erection pressing into him, rubbing against his backside. His brother never touches himself, never takes anything for himself, always talking and teaching Will. When Will tries to touch his brother Hannibal gently refuses him but Will can be patient.
Years slip by and he grows finally, gaining height and filling out a bit. Will is seventeen and Hannibal is twenty-five and an accomplished doctor starting his field. People fall over themselves to be around Hannibal, to praise him and be praised by him.
Will keeps to himself, the strange brother. He continues his training with Murasaki and works at fencing so he can defend himself one day. His fencing goes well and he wins minor events Hannibal insists he attend but his painting remains the forefront of what people know about him. Already they pay silly amounts for his work and Hannibal is very proud of him. He insists on keeping many and hangs the painting of Will's love for him in the main room, never knowing what it truly represented.
At his brother’s insistence Will attends a prestigious arts school, most students are older then him by they welcome his strangeness and seem odd in their own ways. Many fake it in order to build up a name, a true artist is eccentric many of them think.
Will pays no real mind to it all, more focused on learning people and learning how to manipulate them, to make them do what he wanted and to read them in a single look.
He spends what time he can with his brother greedily still, but he does so knowing it will eventually end. That the time is coming quickly when Will won’t belong anymore. Enough time has passed that no one would think it improper if Hannibal and their aunt married.
It hangs over him, always present.
It makes him cling at night, his bed clothing pulled up or down, his body revealed as Hannibal touches him all over, kissing his neck softly as Will thrusts into his long fingers and spends himself whimpering his brothers name. After the long years they still share a bed despite having two rooms, they still curl up and Hannibal still makes Will climax each night.
But no matter how good it feels, Hannibal holds back and Will knows he’s waiting for their aunt, that she is what he truly wants. People talk about them when they go out, that they are well suite to one another. Will feels like the odd one out, trailing after them when Hannibal forces him to attend social events. Will slips out the first moment he can and leaves them to it. They enjoy it in a way Will never has, the spot light makes him uncomfortable. Hannibal seems his best under it. Another contrast between them. Another thing Will lacks that their aunt has.
Everything comes to a stand still in their lives when Will finds a painting that his father owned for sale in a gallery. It makes him pause and his normal face slips as he stares at it. Will can recall it hanging in the hunting lodge as the food ran out and everyone died around them. It had been left with the soldiers who killed Mischa. Never once has Will thought of them, of whether they survived or not. Now it consumes him in that second, the painting hanging on the wall innocently has changed everything.
Will buys the work and takes it home, setting it on his bed and staring at it as he tries to pick apart anything else he can recall of the men from the hunting lodge. He can picture their faces but he lacks the technical skill to render them realistically. So he sits there and tries to force the memories until Hannibal comes home. He sees the painting and Will can see the same heavy burden settling on his shoulders. It might be chance but until they know for certain they will assume their sister's killers are still alive.
Hannibal politely begins inquiries to those who handle their states and finances, asking after the manor and the hunting lodge and what has become of them. He makes it a question of worth, if he should keep them or sell the land. Still lady Murasaki has always been very sensitive to changes and she can sense something is happening even if she cannot quite figure out what it is.
Hannibal wants to make a trip back to Lithuania unexpectedly. Will isn't sure what he thinks he'll find but his brother is certain of something. Will knows Hannibal has been working with drugs and he had mentioned watching them use sodium thiopental on a war criminal to try and coax more details of his crimes out. When Will considers it, he can recall Hannibal coming home late last week, worn out in a way he rarely is. The more he examines it, the more Will realizes it's likely his brother has been drugging himself to trigger memories. This is the reason Hannibal wishes to return rather than to over see the land before they sell some of it off.
"It will be nice to see Lithuania again," Will muses at breakfast and his brother pauses to look up at him. Hannibal has taken over the kitchen now. They have no cook but rather his brother comes from long days of his studies and works on meals. Will eats what he is given, even when it’s something ridiculously outrageous like a fish still gasping or some rare bird egg prepared over a week. It’s a bit silly but Hannibal seems to favor the harder dishes and everything is always good. Will has never tasted anything his brother made and not liked it.
Still, Will often has to take things from the fridge and leave them on the counter to achieve room temperature or vice vesa when his brother plans to cook that night. Everything must be fresh and Will has received lectures on bringing home market food not up to Hannibal's rising standards. He rolls his eyes and usually buys the most misshapen and ugly fruit he can find. Biting into it with relish when his brother is home to disapprove.
Now, Will watched Hannibal prepare fruit and crepes for them. Murasaki is not in the kitchen yet so it leaves just them. There's no need to discuss it out loud as the watch each other, silent going back and forth until Hannibal relents. If he leaves Will behind he will regret it with Will either showing up anyway or a string of men coming through Will's bedroom while he is gone, likely both.
When Hannibal refused to properly take Will, he found someone else. Of course Will has never let anyone actually take him but he had enjoyed fucking other men. He never lets Hannibal close afterward, never lets him check his body himself. When Hannibal travels and leaves Will behind or gets too caught up in his studies Will finds men and soon enough Hannibal comes around to chase them off. While Will had never been penetrated, Hannibal does not know that for certain. Will refuses to tell him the truth, swearing to be pure one day and talking about the endless stream of men who have fucked him another day. It’s petty but Will likes it, likes any part of his brother he can have. Will fancies some days that Hannibal is jealous of them and wants Will for himself. It's a silly thing with plenty of evidence to contradict but Will enjoys the thought of it none the less.
It had been women and men at first but it dropped off to men, mainly older ones. Will has never been infatuated with any of them, not like Hannibal is with their aunt. But he can admit he likes a certain type, builds that remind him of his brother. There is no struggle however, Will knows they are fleeting and he prefers that to any sort of relationship. Rather, Will uses his lovers to learn about them and the intimacies of sex that Hannibal won’t show him. It’s just another lesson to him and he often thinks it’s ironic that people often name him the ‘passionate’ brother.
Will packs light, bringing warm clothing with him as they get ready to make the trip. A part of Will is deeply excited that lady Murasaki has not merited an invitation. In reality Hannibal likely wants to keep her away from the mess they are about to begin but Will still enjoys having a part of his brother that she doesn't get as well. He wonders if she has ever seen Hannibal kill, seen him alive and vibrant in his violence. A part of Will jealously preys not, that the most truest part of Hannibal remains Will’s alone.
They take the train home and Will spends the hours looking out the window, watching the countryside go by. He doesn't remember coming to France but this journey he is more aware. They have travelled over the years, all over Europe and to Japan often. But this is different; this is their home, their birthplace.
"Lady Murasaki mentioned your latest admirer," Hannibal brings up when they are alone in their cart. Will glances at him and takes in the way his brother is watching him, ready to ferret out lies.
"Which one?" He replies carelessly and enjoys the little tick of Hannibal's jaw.
"A young Brett from your fencing."
"Ah. No need to be worried. He's gotten what he wanted and moved along already," Will explains with a wave of his hand, looking back out the window. He can feel his brother’s annoyance and he hides a smirk in his palm. Hannibal still sees it because he leaves his bench and sits beside Will, pressing close to him as he rest his brow in Will's unruly hair.
"Have respect Will, for yourself and your reputation."
"People think it's part of my art. That mister Charron you chat with so much, he threw his nephew at me in hopes of inspiring a great work he could buy."
"Did it work?"
"No. I told him his nephew was too close to my own age, that I liked older men," Will is teasing, but he never can resist.
"Did he find you another?"
"He offered himself actually."
Hannibal doesn't visibly react but Will can feel his anger, Mr. Charron is old enough to be their father.
"I did, he buys a painting a month from me since then, barely caring which one." Will knows the man cares more abut the art than Will himself but he doesn't tell Hannibal that. Let him think there is someone out there who wants him, who thinks Will is enough.
Hannibal presses Will down in a sudden hard grab, holding him to the bench on his back while Hannibal looms over him, his eyes a endless black as they peer down at him. His politeness is gone, leaving only a dangerous heat. It could burn Will so easily, it already has many times but everytime Will gives in. He doesn’t know how to do anything else.
“It feels good,” Will replies, a bit breathless to have Hannibal over him, pinning him like a lover. “I like older men,” he adds to watch his brother’s gaze narrow.
Hannibal leans down and bites Will’s neck. Not a lover’s bite but a painful thing that makes Will cry out and flinch. On the right side, under his ear at the base of his neck and shoulder. Hannibal bites down more, digging in and making Will buck. They’ve slid on the bench, Will pinned down on his back fully with Hannibal on top of him, holding him down.
The pain aches but Hannibal’s body, the fact that it is him doing it, twists everything for Will, he rolls his hips and feels himself getting hard.
“Hannibal,” he breathes, not sure of he wants him to stop or dig deeper. Either way Will runs his hand through his brother’s proper hair, curls his fingers at the nap of Hannibal’s neck, not pulling or pushing.
He squirms when Hannibal lets up, when he presses a kiss to Will’s neck and then licks at it, licks at the torn skin and blood.
“You push too hard,” Hannibal chides him and Will shrugs.
“I don’t know how to hold back, not with you,” he explains truthfully. Hannibal pulls back so he can watch him, his eyes giving nothing away as he peers down at Will, a soft indulgent smile creeping on his lips for him. Gentle fingers brush his hair from his brow and Will glances up at his brother. Hannibal looks fond so Will offers him a meek smile. “I’m terrible when I’m around you, I know that. I’m sorry,” Will adds and his brother chuckles, sitting back and pulling Will to sit up with him.
“There is nothing to forgive, you do know I adore you,” he replies and Will shrugs one shoulder, knowing he is loved. But that loves comes in second to their aunt. In the end, that isn’t enough for him. Will cannot sit by and watch his brother love another.
Hannibal bandages the bite mark, cleaning it carefully as Will sits quietly. Once he is done Hannibal eases him close again. Will goes along with what his brother is willing to grant him, he curls up close and tucks himself under Hannibal's chin like a content pet. Watching the countryside go by out the window and trying to memorize every second of the moment.
The manor now stands empty, long abandoned and uncared for. It could be fixed up with some effort but Hannibal spares it little attention as they walk through. Will can see his mother sitting in the chair by the main dinning room window and his father behind his great work desk in the study. The staff is bustling behind closed doors and the sweet smell of dinner wafts. But Will is not a child lost anymore, he knows they are not real and so he walks by them, lingering only a little to watch his mother’s hair shine or hear his father’s pen on the paper.
Hannibal doesn't take note or care as he heads to the back door and Will reluctantly follows, his memories dissipating. From the back of the manor Hannibal can recall the path to the hunting cabin and they walk along the old ruins. The cabin has been burned down years ago and the old charred wood is over grown with new vegetation now. Hannibal circles the area and Will can see the plans working behind his gaze.
They walk back to the empty manor and there is enough to make due for a night. There is a rented room waiting for them in the town but Will doesn't want to go and Hannibal doesn't make him. He follows Will through the hollow house and they bundle up old curtains to make a bed for the night. Hannibal makes no complaint but Will knows he would prefer the hotel.
"You can go," he tells him lightly, yawning as he snuggles into his little nest of curtains and blankets.
Hannibal watches him and then kneels beside him, slipping into the makeshift bed and nudging Will to roll onto his stomach.
Hannibal's eyes are darker then Will has ever seen him, his face impassive and unfeeling as he presses himself close to Will, clinging. The shadows of their childhood are looming and Will is more then willing to grant Hannibal comfort for that.
Hannibal still refuses to take him. Even in the height of their shared past pressing in, he holds back, ever dedicated to his beloved aunt. But he presses himself between Will’s thighs, holding them closed as he thrusts. He bites at Will’s neck again, opening the torn skin and sucking at it.
Will whines for his brother, pressing back and rubbing his own erection into the rough fabric of the curtain under him. Across the room their mother and sister play games in the sunlight. Will watches them; mind half lost as Hannibal thrusts against his body, taking pleasure from him but still holding that last part back. Never willing to let his younger brother have it, never wanting to let Will have it, even for a moment.
Hannibal makes no comment if Will cries softly.
Afterwards they lay curled up and Will feels as content as he can hope to be, pressed close to the only one who matters.
Will wakes alone with no sign of his brother so he wanders the house alone. The memories of his life lost are powerful and Will watches Mischa run down the halls, giggling as a young Hannibal trailed after her fondly. Their father's low chuckle echoes along with their mother's soft laugh. Will imagines a life where they were still alive, where Mischa was a young girl on the cusp of becoming a young lady. He tries to picture his father will more age lines, around more often as he left himself relax more. His mother would still be arranging parties constantly but now Hannibal and Will would be dragged along to meet young ladies. Hannibal would likely be married already, his mother insisting upon it. Will wonders if art would still be present in his life or if his uncle’s influence was the reason it had come to pass. He wonders if he would still seek out men, if Hannibal had never touched him at night. Would he have anyway, in a normal life, would his brother have crawled in bed with Will and taught him his body and all it could feel.
He thinks of Hannibal and what they've done. It makes him want to smile but Will tries to censor himself. Hannibal want's their aunt above all else. His time with Will is a passing thing, a way to claim Will as others already have. Sex isn't affection for Hannibal, it's just another way to own someone. Still, Will is glad to be owned. He wonders if Hannibal had planned it so, laying with Will to distract and soften him.
Hannibal has been gone all morning and into the afternoon. While he might be able to trace some of the path they walked yesterday, Will knows it’s likely he would get lost.
So he waits.
Hannibal returns bloodied and carrying dog tags, his intent for coming to Lithuania is done. He also had a faded cloth, wrapped tightly into a bundle and Will doesn't recognize it at first.
He meets Hannibal but the door, checking to see if he's hurt and the bundle has a touch of lace trim Will would know from anywhere. He feels his content emotions go still and with utter care he takes the bundle from Hannibal. His brother is motionless, his face a mask as he watches Will cradle the cloth to his chest. There is a weight to it, Will can feel the long narrow shapes and he knows he's holding his sister's remains. He curls them close as Hannibal washes up in a sink that only runs brown dirty water. He has dog tags, names of the turncoat soldiers from the hunting cabin. Dortlich, Kolnas, Grutas, Milko, and Grentz. Will can recall them vaguely, bulky men who were in hiding, who stumbled upon three children in a cabin.
“Where are they?”
Hannibal pauses and pulls the tag Dortlich from the group, dropping it to the floor.
It is that man’s blood on Hannibal’s hands then.
“Paris for Kolnas, Grutas and Milko. Grentz in Canada.” Hannibal’s voice is emotionless, speaking as if he were reading a text. Will watches him, peering at him with Mischa tucked close. It’s a morbid reflection of their childhood, Will holding their sister while Hannibal worked.
“Did he suffer?”
Hannibal pauses, looking at Will for a moment, gaze piercing as Will rocked the bundle of bones tenderly.
He takes Will to the body, Dortlich’s head is gone, torn off slowly. Will circles it, staring at the remains of the man who helped kill Mischa. Distantly he knows he should feel wrong, that the morals of this are terrible. But when Hannibal killed the butcher all Will felt was satisfaction, a life taken for the one they lost. It seems only fair that sweet Mischa be worth five cowards.
“All of them?”
“Of course,” Hannibal replies and Will looks around the woods they stand in. There is a horse with a wagon strapped to it a few feet away, Dortlich’s no doubt. Will stares at the straps and bindings on the animal and then he carefully hands Mischa to Hannibal to hold.
When he is done he sits back, his hands stained with dirt and blood. But to do anything less would dishonor his sister.
Will has only his art to give her.
Hannibal will hunt her killers and Will can only help.
But this he can give her.
Will would give everything to her if he could, maybe one day he will. When Hannibal is gone from his life, married to their aunt and enjoying his life in the spotlight.
When Will is forgotten and left behind perhaps he will seek his sister.
He walks to where Hannibal has stood watching silently. His brother looks calm, holding their sister patiently and gazing at Will’s work.
Will doesn’t reply, instead, he carefully takes Mischa back, holding her secure in his arms.
They go back to the house and Hannibal turns over the remaining dog tags. He examines them critically and memorizes them. Will sits on the stoop of the backdoor with Mischa tenderly held close, he has no interest in her murderers at that moment, his mind going over everything he can recall of her and all her brightness.
Hannibal leads Will to the car and they drive to the town, both too preoccupied to speak.
In the hotel, Will settles in a chair with his sister and stares out the window. He can see the lines of the forest in the distance, his childhood home laid out before him. He had expected it would be painful for him, that the ache of the war would tarnish everything but he finds himself feeling strangely content. He images he might return one day, settling in alone in a cabin to wait for death.
"We'll bring her home, arrange for a burial with Robert," Hannibal breaks their silence, staring off at nothing as he speaks.
"No.” Will replies immediately.
“She should stay here. With mother and father."
There is a cemetery on the edge of the Lecter lands and their parents are buried there. Countless generations of their family rest within the cemetery and Will sees no reason why Mischa shouldn't be with their family. She never liked being alone.
Hannibal doesn't comment but he makes arrangements and the next day they lay Mischa to rest in the cemetery. Will's arms feel strangely empty without the weight of her bones and he cuts a square of the cloth to take with him before they close her into a tiny coffin and settle her into the earth.
The priest gives her a blessing and talks about god’s arms and peace. Will says nothing and Hannibal stands beside him quietly, a hand on Will’s shoulder.
A people from the village have come to pay their respects. Few are there for anything beyond the Lecter name and the wealth it represents. Hannibal plays his role, greeting and speaking with them while Will stands over their sister’s grave and aches for her. She stands across from him now, more vivid than she has ever been. Will cannot tell her from the other people, she blends so perfectly. But then, he does not look for the signs she is an illusion.
They take the train back the next day as people begin to talk about the horrifying murder in the woods. A man was decapitated and strung up in the trees, limbs torn until they hung limply. Wood boards were jammed between his ribs, made to look like butterfly wings spread out, decorated in the man’s blood. A dog tag from the war was in his mouth, naming him a turncoat, a coward.
Hannibal politely requests the gossiping women to move on, their words upsetting Will. He plays the roles, face pale as he turns into his brother’s shoulder and hides.
The women apologize and move on.
Will feels thrown with finding and burying Mischa, his emotions untethered and adrift. The world goes by outside the window but Will feels unmoved by it. He stands still while everything else rushes forward.
When they return they settle back into their usual lives, playing the normal brothers. Lady Murasaki watches them both quietly and knows something has happened. Her worry for Hannibal grows as he begins to focus and hunt the soldiers.
Will spends his time sleeping usually, depressed, as he dreams of the weight of his sister's bones. Lady Murasaki tries to rouse him, makes Will wake and move about during the day.
“It upset Hannibal to see you so,” she tells him as she brings him clean clothing. Fort wags his tail and peers up at Will hopefully. “A walk will do you good.”
Fort leads Will aimlessly through the streets. He returns home late into the night, both his aunt and Hannibal waiting at the door.
“It’s late, nearly three am,” Hannibal greets him and Will blinks, looking up at the dark sky above the decadent building that surrounds them. They seem like they could swallow him easily and Mischa giggles beside him. Peering around the streets without fear, bright eyes and curious as ever.
“Will,” Hannibal’s hand touches his cheek and Will blinks at him.
“Sorry, I lost track,” he offered meekly. His brother guides him into the house with a gentle hand, a blanket ready to be thrown over his shoulders. Will realizes he is shivering only then.
Hannibal sits him at the kitchen table and gives Will a thorough examination.
“You’ve slept well,” he notes and Will shrugs. The things that haunted his dreams follow him during the day now. Will is so used to them at this point he feels no need to react. Nightmares do not bother him. Hannibal frowns at him, running a warm hand through Will’s curls and cupping the side of his face tenderly.
Lady Murasaki stands at the door, watching the exchange silently and it is her presence that keeps Will from leaning into the touch. Instead, he cups Hannibal’s hand and then pulls it away slowly.
“I’m fine,” he lies sincerely.
Each night since they had returned they have slept together. They usually do but some nights Hannibal or Will stays up past the night. Now however, they go to bed together each nigh. Nothing sexual had happened but tonight Will feels a stirring in him. He thinks of their aunt in the doorway watching them, a hint of dawning understanding on her face as Hannibal touched Will like a lover more than a brother.
Hannibal has stayed up late so Will sleeps while he waits. When his brother comes into the room he watches him undress for bed, the shape of his broad shoulders and trim waist. The power of his thighs and lean legs. Will feels the familiar want course through him.
Rising from the mattress, Will walks over to him wearing nothing, bare for his brother to see. Hannibal turns and watches him. He lets Will take his hand and lift it, pressing it to Will’s neck. The bite is mostly healed but not complete. Will steps closer, wanting Hannibal to bite him again, to deepen the scar. But his brother does not duck his head to oblige.
Will pulls back to look at him, reading Hannibal's face as he pulls on his brother's wrist as he did as a child. Will knows Hannibal is aware of what Will wants, of all the taboo and dirty things Will would have of his beloved brother.
Hannibal remains where he is when Will pulls his wrist.
Feeling his eyes burn and the hurt swallow his chest Will lets go, feeling something in him drop as the warmth of his brother's skin fades from his touch. Will takes his pillow and curls up on the sette couch in front of the windows. There is no room for anyone else and after a moment he listens to Hannibal change and go to bed alone.
Ford pads over to Will, nosing at his fingers as Will winds an arm around him, hugging his dog close in lieu of who he wants.
It had been foolish to think Will’s body could sway Hannibal from their aunt.
That he could ever be enough.
Will works hard at being normal after that.
He wakes and showers the next morning without prompting. He eats breakfast and smiles easily. Hannibal says nothing and lady Murasaki is unsure of the sudden change. Will goes back to his classes and he accepts people’s sympathy as he explains that they visited his family’s graves. Will does more work than he has in months, letting painting take up all his time as he focuses on making people believe he is all right.
That he is consumed with his art and that he will use it to deal with his pain.
That he is a normal young man.
Each night he goes home with someone new, men and on occasion women who make him feel good without ever actually knowing him. Will mainly goes with them for the soft bed. He does not return home anymore and the days slip by like molasses, making them feel so much longer than they are.
Lady Murasaki visits him during the end of the second week.
They have never been friends. When Will allows it, they are a teacher and student but beyond that, he has always closed himself off. His aunt is a good and kind woman but she had taken the one soul Will loves the most and he feels ashamed but he cannot forgive her for that.
"It's good that you are distracting yourself. But perhaps you should come home, it would sooth your brother to see you around the apartment. Your sheep also misses you," she tells him over tea, sipping demurely. Ford is curled up and sleeping in a corner, Will went and got the dog three days ago when no one was home and his families influence had made the school look the other way to the domestic animal in their school but they wouldn’t allow livestock. There is a makeshift bed set up for artists and it's not unheard of for students to spend night and day at the school.
"I spoke to a butcher yesterday, they'll come pick her up," Will offered and a cruel part of likes the way his aunt pauses at the news. "It was a strange thing, to keep a sheep in the city anyway." Will does not tell her that the sheep is for the butcher’s daughter, a pet for her to mind.
Lady Murasaki watches him, setting her tea down and just peering at him until Will glances at her, meeting her gaze for a moment.
"You don't plan on coming home," she finally surmises and Will huffs but nods.
"You were right, I hold him back. Everything he wants is laid out before him but he's letting the past rule him. He needs to move on, to see what he could have," Will looks over at her for a moment and he knows his aunt understands.
"I have never meant to suggest you held Hannibal back Will. Only that you both needed to learn to be without holding onto each other so tightly, such desperation could only end poorly."
"He's in love with you, everything elegant and regal in him comes from you and he wants to be with you, wants to marry you and spend his life practicing swords and attending dinner parties with you." It burns him to admit it but Will tells her anyway, turning to look at one of the paintings he's working on as he explains what it is his brother wants. That, in the end, it is not Will that is needed. Not longed for.
"Regardless, he is not content without you. It makes him restless each time you do not come home," she parries. “He has teachers look in on you for him, requests daily updates.”
“I know. He comes by sometimes when he thinks I will not see. I can feel his gaze on me.”
“Then there is no real reason to stay away from your home.”
"He wants to hunt them, we found information about the soldiers that killed Mischa in Lithuania. Kolnas, Grutas, Milko, and Grentz. Hannibal wants to kill them."
"He cannot return if he goes down this path," Lady Murasaki speaks with apprehension and Will nods. He does not tell her the path is already traveled. Will woke four nights ago with Milko’s dog tag on his pillow. The man is dead and only three more remain. Two in Paris and one hidden away in Canada.
“A policeman has come to visit the apartment, he is certain Hannibal is dangerous and he is watching him closely,” she explains. “He is the same detective from Robert’s death, the same man who was certain of Hannbial’s guilt.”
Hannibal would be careful, Will is certain, but he does not say that.
"If anyone will move him it will be you, take him away from our past and you can help him find peace," Will explains and his aunt watches him as Will stares at his painting. "I'm not enough. But you, you could be."
Will leaves Ford with a student he knows will look after the animal. The hulking dog whines as if he knows something is happening and Will pats his head.
"Thank you for always being around for me," he tells the dog rubbing his ears. "I could always count on you even when I couldn't with anyone else."
Hannibal likes to put things to paper. It’s his hobby and his flaw. Things he knows he shouldn’t write he does anyway. While he was still at the house Will had gone through his brother’s things. Searching until he found what he wanted. A small notebook filled with medical notes. A puzzle for Will to learn. While Hannibal wrote too much down, he did have the sense to hide it. It took Will a full week to find the hidden words. Kolnas, Grutas, Grentz’s specific locations were there.
Will visited the two in Paris for a few weeks prior, learning what he needed to. Kolnas runs a restaurant and so he goes and eats there. A simple meal is all it takes for Will to assess the situation. Kolnas has a family now and is happy, his daughter smiles freely. The man adores his family, holds them as his highest treasure. His daughter most of all.
On her thin wrist is the bracelet Mischa wore, a last gift from their father before they were forced to flee. Its butterflies linked together, her favorite animal. Will can remember sitting in the fields beside the house chasing butterflies with his sister, careful to never harm them. Mischa had never wanted to harm anything.
Will sends a letter to the building owner first, explaining that Kolnas was a war criminal and suspected of cannibalism.
Will contacts the police next in an anonymous note saying the same thing. He mentions it on the street to select people. Those he knows will talk, those who will spread the words.
The restaurant is quickly left empty each night.
He bumps into Kolnas’ daughter when she comes home from school. Will offers her a smile and notices the bracelet, gleaming as it mocks him. The little girl is worn down, teased by her schoolmates about her monster father. People on the street as well, whisper, talking about the restaurant that uses people for meat.
“Oh, you must be the murders’ daughter,” he greets her and her face closes off.
“Those are lies.”
Will crouches down to her level smiling sadly at her. “It is the truth. If it was a lie would your father act so strange?”
The doubt is clear on the girl's face. Will knows she has seen her father acting strangely, checking the windows and locks, paranoid for the past that is returning for him.
“I know because he killed my sister, a little girl younger than you. He beat her to death and then cut her up and put her in his cooking pot.”
The child is horrified, looking around but people pass by without looking. Will is speaking too low to hear, his face a bright smile, he plays the role of someone everyday perfectly.
“You know how I know it was your father?”
Her gaze locks on him again, fear twisting in her young eyes.
“Because you wear her bracelet. The very one she had when he killed her. I wonder if that means he will kill and eat you too?”
The child rips the bracelet off her wrist and runs away, Will watching her go.
The empty restaurant welcomes Will and he takes a seat near the kitchen, listening to the little girl screaming, scared of her father. The mother tries to calm her but there is a fear in her own voice.
Kolnas’ beloved family is scared of him.
Will sips his drink and watches the man stagger out from the back. He scans the empty room, looking for someone. He looks surprised to find Will. For a moment he stares and then slowly he places who Will is, the reorganization growing on his face.
“I’ve been chasing your brother’s shadow, I had forgotten about you,” the old man explains as he sits across from Will.
“It’s usually that way.”
The man snorts and pours himself a generous helping of the wine on Will’s table. He doesn’t ask why the bottle is there when they don’t serve it, he just see’s Will’s glass and assumes it safe.
“He killed Dortlich, mutilated him like a monster. Milko is missing since he went after him. Grutas is searching for him, hunting him down.”
“He’s afraid,” Will surmises. “He’s scared that he’ll end up like them, dead. Painfully dead.”
“Exactly. He wanted to grab your aunt but I think you’ll do.”
Will tilts his head and glances at the man, no remorse for Mischa.
“You killed my sister, butchered her like and animal and forced me and my brother to eat her with you. Now you will take me to your accomplice so he can lure my brother in and kill us both.”
The man sighs. “What must be done must be done.”
Behind the man, his wife drops her pitcher. The icy water shatters at her feet as she stares at her husband in utter horror. Will watches the man twist around and see her. Their daughter behind the woman, crying hysterically as she has also overheard her father admit to his crime. Kolnas’ wife turns and grabs her daughter, gathering her up and fleeing from the restaurant without looking back.
Kolnas turns back to Will, staring at him as Will turns his hand and opens it to show his sister’s bracelet. Of all the things he loved the most, his family was the greatest. Will can see the pain in his eyes as his wife and child run away from him.
“Whenever they think of you, they’ll only remember this moment. That you killed and ate a child like a monster,” Will explains.
The man tries to get up but he falters, his face twisting in pain now. He stares at Will and then the wine bottle he drank from.
“It will burn, eat through your stomach lining slowly. It’s going to be the worst pain you’ve known.”
Will gets up from the table and closes the restaurant down. He goes around dimming the lights and locking the doors. There is no staff with the poor turn out of late and so it leaves Will alone with Kolnas.
He rolls on the floor now, clutching at his stomach. The acid has burned his tongue and throat enough that he can only make garbled sounds.
“You thought it was my brother that strung up your friend. But it was because of my brother that he was dead before it happened. You don’t get to be that lucky.”
Will works calmly, certain and sure as he walks through the kitchen and finds the various cutting knives. There is long rope for cargo boxes in the back and the tablecloths on the tables are a scarlet red. It’s more than enough.
After he’s done Will hurries down the streets. Night has fallen and the closer he gets to his destination the less the streets are lit, the more people there are. Dark eyes and dangerous looks follow him as he hurries down the walkway. Will has planned this all very carefully, meticulously. He must make sure the core plan follows through.
The drug dealer has never come around the school but student use him, they recommended him to Will when he asked. He’s a rat-faced man with a potbelly; he needs to wash more and is crude. His skills are his lies and manipulation, he works those well.
Will meets him at the corner and follows him into the hotel. Prostitutes line the streets and fill the building, some little more than children. All of them drug addicts.
Will keeps his head ducked low, ashamed as he follows his dealer. In the back room, he takes his heroin from the man and when he’s turned away Will switches the needle. He takes a shot of his own making. A dangerous gamble but Hannibal had enough medical books at home for Will to figure out what he was doing. It would mimic the sweat and energy of a heroine high but Will’s mind would remain his own.
As much as it ever was at least.
Mischa watches him wide-eyed and worried. Will banishes her from his sight when the drug dealer comes back. Going to his knees he acts ready to suck the man off in payment. So far his has given him two hand jobs and three blowjobs, the man coaxing him along as Will played the virgin, fumbling and unknowing.
“Not tonight, did you forget,” the man teases, voice light and friendly. Will blinks up at him confused.
“Tonight we go to meet my friend, he can help you, take care of you.”
Will is being sold into slavery, a prostitute in the making for the streets outside. He blinks and nods his head weakly, agreeing to what the man wants, going along as he plays the role.
They drive down the street to the pier and Will is led to a boat. Two men guard it but his drug dealer gets them by.
Grutas waits for him in the lavish boat. The main room is filled with wealth and there is a bed in the room. The drug dealer sits Will there.
“As agreed, a young artist in the making,” the drug dealer sneers, smiling at Will. “He’s ripe for the picking, two weeks of heroin every day. A pretty mouth and soft hands.”
Grutas looks Will over, he stares at the floor, not meeting the man’s gaze. He sees him look to drug dealer in a silent question.
“Of course not. I saved him for you.”
Grutas likes to rape virgins.
It’s one of his greatest pleasures, to have young men and women brought to him. Sometimes they are drugged and sometimes they are kidnapped.
The drug dealer leaves and Grutas begins to undress. Will blinks at him from the bed, sweating ad his fingers twitch frantically. The monster will wait until Will comes down from the drugs, until he can fight and scream.
A knock interrupts them. A large man opens the door when Grutas calls out.
“The woman is here, Lecter will follow. Kolnas is dead. Strung up like Dortlich, every knife he owned was in him.”
Will carefully doesn’t react, his mind easily slotting that his aunt was there, kidnapped to lure Hannibal.
“Get things ready, I’ll be out in a bit,” Grutas replies and head towards Will intently. He takes his chin and makes Will look up at him, smiling down with perverse glee before he shoves Will back onto the bad.
He yanks Will’s shirt out of his pants, tearing the buttons off as he licks Will’s neck. He rears back to backhand Will hard, making his vision dance.
Having Lady Murasaki there changes things. The boat is heavily guarded.
Will’s mind works frantically to make new plans as Grutas works to strip him for his rape.
Time is running out and Will reaches under him into his back pocket for the needle filled with the heroin. A shout on the boat makes the man sit up and look away. Will slams the needle into his chest, into heart and injects it.
Grutas snarls and backhands Will hard, he falls to the bed and pretends to be dazed. The man swears in French angrily as he pulls the needle out and throws it to the floor. He frowns at it and thinks it was empty, that Will stabbed him with a used needle in defense.
More shouting comes and Will can see the man making a decision to deal with it before Will, a drugged up whore. He gets up and goes for the table he left his gun at.
As soon as his back is turned Will yanks his belt off in a practiced motion. He loops it and then chases after Grutas. He gets the belt over the man’s neck and pulls it closed as he clings to his back. Immediately the larger man fights, throwing them around but Will winds himself around his back, holding on and keep his air cut off. Grutas slams into the wall hard, winding Will but he holds on still. The gun is across the room and the man stagers towards it but it has been enough time.
When the man collapses the door bursts open and Will is ready to sprint for cover from gunfire.
Hannibal stares back at him, he holds a bloody short sword, a tanto that belongs to their aunt.
Both of them are breathing heavily, staring at one another. Lady Murasaki is behind Hannibal clinging close to him, holding his arm.
“We must go,” she urges them and Will nods.
“Go,” he says and his aunt frowns at him as she realizes what is happening, seeing Will for what he is finally. Hannibal can be her good child, Will is a murderer and content with that.
Hannibal himself is staring at Will, taking in his bloody lip and sweat soaked body, his torn shirt. His brother is clever and Will has never been good at hiding from him without preparation.
“Kolnas?” Hannibal questions and Will nods.
“Go now. Even if you killed everyone on this boat, more will come soon. I need to finish.”
Murasaki realizes then that it was Will who mutilated the man in the woods in Lithuania. He can see it on her face as she steps closer to Hannibal and pulls on his wrist. She thinks him still pure now, that Will is the blood-soaked one. He does nothing to change that. He wants her to believe in Hannibal, to guide him on that path she wants him on. That Hannibal wants to be on.
“We must go,” she tells him but Hannibal doesn’t look away from Will. There is a thrill in it. That even if he suppresses himself and becomes what their aunt wants. A deep part of him will always be there with Will, something vicious and feral, an instinct to survive.
They wait too long, Will can hear footsteps on the pier and he knows everything is ruined. He won’t have time if they remain.
“Help me,” he calls to Hannibal and he is relieved that his brother answers. They push Grutas overboard together through a window.
“Go back to the house, the police will look for you, you should both be there.” Will urges and his brother nods.
“Where will I meet you?” So sure and certain. Will wants to embrace Hannibal and never let go.
He rattles off an address at once, some nearby place that means nothing. But he speaks it quickly and Hannibal is distracted, watching Grutas bob in the water and their aunt on his arm.
They depart quickly, Hannibal sure of Will and it stings that he goes so quickly. But If Will were to stop him, his brother would notice something off right away.
It is Murasaki who looks back at him and Will can see she knows already. That Will won’t be waiting.
He watches her, trying to communicate all he is giving her, that he loves her as much as he hates her for it. Will is not enough for Hannibal. But she will be.
He dives overboard and drags Grutas body under the pier.
They wait until it had calmed. Grutas is, unfortunately, dead by then but Will refuses to not follow through.
He finds the storage garage he’s rented and drags the body in. The tools are harsh but he makes due. He shoves screwdrivers into the man, anything he can find he jams under his skin. Old drop cloths make his wings and Will stings him up, arranging him like a butterfly. Mischa’s bracelet feels cold in his pocket as he carefully holds it, looking at her killer done up into something beautiful for her.
He hopes she is happy and from the corner of the dim garage, she smiles brightly at her butterfly.
Will had already made the arrangements.
His timing is off but he gave himself two hours extra. As it is, he barely makes it to the airport in time. He has a bag packed at the storage container, clean clothing and as much cash as he can take reasonably. He laughs and plays the role of a rich student off for fun, flirting with the flight attendant and drinking too much.
When he lands he walks to the nearest hotel and gets a room. Will leaves all his ID’s and wallet, anything to suggest who he is he abandons and heads out into the night.
Tracking Grentz is harder then Will had hoped. He has no contacts and while his English is good it’s clear he’s not local. Still, money is powerful and Will knows enough from Hannibal’s notes; A bar in Quebec, a man from Europe, a physical description, a list of possible locations. Will goes to a different bar every night and asks around, he plays drunk and happy, a man alone who wants to know where the marvelous bar came from. Some nights he’s a young rich boy interested in buying his own bar, curious about how they run and who the competition would be.
He spends weeks looking around, visiting different places and learning more information. He picks hotels at random each night, never staying too long, never leaving a trail, a different name and personality every time.
Will sees Hannibal often. He sees him walking along the street and in the bars drinking quietly. He sees his brother in everything. But he sees Mischa just as often, skipping in the park and chasing dogs on the street. They are his ghosts and Will welcomes them.
The reality is that Mischa is dead and Hannibal is off in the world with Murasaki on his arm. Will wonders how long they will wait to marry.
Sometimes he slips up, he drinks more than he should when he thinks too much on his brother. He goes home with strangers, with men he knows nothing about. Will has always been far more careful but now that care is gone. There is no one to protect but himself, as long as he can finish his hunt he doesn’t care about much else.
He saved his first time for Hannibal for years and years. In the end Will lets some man fuck him while he’s drunk in a ratty motel. The man is done in less than five minutes and he takes the money in Will’s wallet when he leaves. Of course, he has more tucked away in the room but it still shames him. He stares at himself in the mirror the next morning, reminding himself of what he needs to do. There is a bar owner who fits the right description, a burly cold man who has talked about a war he fought in.
If Will can keep himself together a little longer his sister can have her peace.
Despite his best intentions, Will drinks too much again. He does find Grentz but he’s too drunk to act. He goes home with another man and stumbles from the stranger's apartment the next morning. Will spends his day taking pain medication for his hangover and digging around for information on Grentz, who he is and what his habits are. He drinks at the bar for a few nights and goes home with different men. Will cuts back his drinking in order to plan clearly, certain and sure he has found the last one.
Hannibal had been on the news briefly, blamed for Will’s crimes. His brother remained silent on the matter, never accusing Will but that is not surprising. It would not be Hannibal to forfeit Will, too protective for something like that.
Still, suspicious falls on the younger and stranger Lecter brother, who is missing. But the victims are all war criminals and that staggers the hunt, people are less willing to give information on someone hunting what they perceive as someone who deserved to die.
All of it aside, they show a picture of Hannibal on the screen and it’s enough to get Will back into the right mindset. The way Grentz had watched the news was telling. Will sat at the bar and watched the man stare at the screen, pale at the dead men’s names. His comrades.
It’ll make him paranoid so Will needs to act quickly, tonight he’ll finish it.
But his hands feel numb and Will feels drunk despite only having a few watered down beers. His vision swims and Mischa smiles at him across the room.
Will wakes groggily, his mind muddled as he grumbled.
There was no pain but a sluggish feeling coursing through him. When his rolls on his back Will can feel the ache of intercourse. He has had sex recently, still wet with it. Someone has drugged and raped him. Will rolled in the bed, fine silky sheets under him. The hotel roof was high and had crown molding, a decadent place.
Will turns his head and finds Hannibal in a chair beside the bed, idly sketching.
A part of him wants to feel ashamed, embarrassed that he was caught when he had fancies of disappearing into the wind. His mind turns over the fact that his brother had finally taken him, that he fucked Will at last. But that he chose to do so while his brother was drugged.
Will honestly hadn’t expected Hannibal to come hunting but then, Hannibal has always been possessive. Will was his brothers in their way and Hannibal would never give that up easily.
If he wants to leave, Will must try harder next time.
For now, he wants a proper eggs benedict.
Sitting up makes Will aware of two things. One he is still naked and two, his left ankle is in a soft leather cuff. Will pulls the blanket aside so he can inspect it, there is a fine silver lock holding it closed and the chain leads the four poster bed, wrapped around the thick wood pole and locked with another fine lock.
“A bit much,” Will muses and Hannibal surprises him but snapping his drawing pencil in two. Will stares as his brother calms himself, setting the sketchbook down with a careful control.
“You left me,” Hannibal explains as if it was all the reason he would need to chain Will to a bed, to have him without Will being aware. “How do you think it felt for me,” he begins, locking his gaze on Will, his eyes intent and angry. “To go looking for you only to find the address you gave me was a lie. To learn you had left the country and to have the police prevent me from following. To have to hunt for you, searching through bars and talking to the men you drunkenly slept with.”
Will is honestly a touch humiliated and embarrassed but for the most part, he feels the hurt he’s carried in his chest for years boil over, pain flashing into anger in a heartbeat.
“How do you think it felt for me,” he echoes, tones sickeningly sweet. “To watch you follow her like a dog in a rut, desperate to mount. To have you ignore me, throw me aside for a moment of her time. To never be enough in the end, to have you curl up with me knowing it was her you wished I was. To know-“ Will’s voice chokes and he looks away, refusing to cry, refusing to let his eyes water.
“In the end, no matter what. It would always be her for you. It would never be me. You’re mad because I lied to you and left? Try spending years grasping at what you know you’ll never have. At the only thing you’ve ever really wanted.”
Will yanks his foot angrily, pulling at the chain as he stumbles off the far side of the bed, wanting to be away. The chain holds him though and he slumps on the floor the blankets pulled around him like a shield. He feels like a child, a stupid useless child hiding in his blankets.
He hears Hannibal move and his heart aches.
“Please go away. Please just, go away,” he begs, curling up in his misery. He wonders where their aunt is. If she’s waiting in the next room over, if she and Hannibal have started having sex now. Will can see it, his brother’s rapture and delight in taking what he’s wanted for so long, what he adores.
“Will,” Hannibal calls, crouched beside him suddenly and pulling at the blankets.
“Go away!” Will snarls twisting from the hands he loves. His brother ignores him, yanking the blanket away and Will fights him viciously. He claws at his brother’s bare forearms, rips his fine shirt and pounds his fists against Hannibal’s chest. He wants to hurt him, wants Hannibal to bleed on the inside, to rot all the way out.
“Leave me alone!” he shouts blindly, fighting as Hannibal pins him, holding him down as he screams and thrashes.
Will can’t breathe eventually and he slumps on the floor, gasping wet breathes. He closes his eyes and thinks of Mischa’s smile. He wants to go far away, to bury himself in his mind until reality is gone.
Pain erupts in his neck, jerking him back and he shoves at Hannibal as he bites Will‘s neck, high up where it would be visible. His teeth are digging painfully hard, rougher than last time, twisting and pulling, tearing his skin open wide. Hannibal holds his wrists in one hand, his grip like steel for all of Will’s training. He pins him and shoves between Will’s legs, forcing them open so he can rut against him, grinding down and thrust himself against Will’s bare body.
It’s different from before, Hannibal has never done this, always a soft teacher, guiding hands, and mutual pleasure. Nothing about this is like that. Hannibal is taking, he’s taking what he wants savagely and Will had no choice.
Whimpering, he grabs at his brother, squirming until he gets a hand free. He means to push Hannibal away but ends up clutching him, holding onto his shoulder tightly as Hannibal shoves.
Hannibal is dressed and Will is bare, on his back on the floor.
His brother reached between them, harsh hands arranging them and undoing his slacks. Will gasps out when he feels the burn of his brother penetrating him. Tears run down his skin as he get’s what he’s wanted to badly. Clutching at his brother as Hannibal fucks into him, vicious in his claim.
The pain in his neck hurts so much, Will can’t ignore it. He can feel his blood running down his skin and he can hear Hannibal gulping it down, bleeding him out. He wonders if he will die like this, if Hannibal is killing him.
Either way, Will accepts it. He clutches his brother and holds on. The hand holding his wrist shifts and long elegant fingers tangle with Will’s own. Still his brother drives into him relentlessly, the feel of him forcing Will open a new sensation.
Hannibal comes with a shudder and stays where is he, pinning Will down with his body.
It feels like hours before he moves, shakily lifting himself up. His mouth is smeared with blood and Will can’t seem to catch his breath, panting as he stares at his brother. His calm controlled brother, suddenly wild and unrepentant of it.
“I thought I was saving you,” Hannibal confesses quietly and that’s all Will needs to understand. His brother thought himself a monster, something dark and terrible and he felt that Will needed to be protected. When he hesitated to touch Will is was because he knew he shouldn’t, not because he longed for their aunt. He thought his little brother something pure and clean like Mischa.
Will laughed, tears ran down his face as he laughed and laughed. It ended in a choked sob. “I’m not her. I was never her.” Never their pure sister.
“I hunted them, I mutilated them, I wanted to draw it out, I wanted them to scream for days. The last one will.”
“Its more than that,” Hannibal corrected him, rising up to rest his weight on his elbows and gaze down at Will. A white sheet was gathered and pressed carefully to Will’s savaged neck. “I want to consume you, I want everything from you.”
“You told me I couldn’t have that. You said it. You said you didn’t want your all to be for me,” Will accused him and his brother stares at his face, his free hand pets Will’s hair, brushing it from his brow.
“I believe I told you I shouldn’t. That this would never be allowed,” Hannibal corrected but his voice had gone soft, his gaze was adoring, changing before Will’s eyes. “It’s terrible how much I wish to possess you.”
“Would murder be better? Would the dead spread across our table be more accepted? I’m not dumb, I know what sort of meat you’ve been experimenting with.” Will glared at his brother, reaching up to cup his face, his calloused hands against Hannibal’s smooth face, his sharp cheekbones.
“You’ve spent so long doing what you thought was right by me. You never once asked me what I want,” Will protested and his brother seemed to crumble in his hands. He nuzzled Will’s fingers and pressed a soft kiss to his palm.
“You’re absolutely right, how rude of me.”
The bite will scar.
Hannibal cleans it and stitches the torn skin and muscle carefully. Will has never been one to be distracted by pain though, his tolerance high. He sits on the bed, still bare with a sheet piled in his lap. With the morning sunlight spilling on his pale skin Will's beauty looks ethereal. He reminds Hannibal of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, classically posed and perfectly elegant. The sheet in his lap is stained red with blood and Hannibal will take it when they leave, a memento of their first true union. He wants to drap Will in it and paint him, immortalizing the moment.
Will’s odious dog it on the bed, laid out with its head in Will’s lap, receiving his affection happily. For now he tolerates the beast to please Will. Hannibal had considered leaving it behind but in the end he knew a gift to sooth Will over would be best. The rage that guided him when he discovered his brother gone had promised a terrible retribution. It only sputtered and died in the wake of Will's confession, his belief that Hannibal would put another before him.
Hannibal did love their aunt dearly, she was a picture of control and calm, a perfected mask that Hannibal himself yearned to have. While he learned from her, he made sure his affection towards her was known. When Will childishly spread rumors about them, Hannibal left them be. With everyone whispering about his improper affection for his aunt, they overlooked Will in his bed every night. It was better that people thought Hannibal in love with Lady Murasaki then the truth that he was delighting in his younger brother each night.
The ruse worked on Will as well, allowing Hannibal a measure of control. Talking of their aunt was how he drove Will away when he needed him gone, when he needed Will somewhere else. It was rare but at times the beast in Hannibal needed to be dragged back under control. There were so many moments when Hannibal nearly gave in, when he nearly took his brother. Too often he had thought of it, picturing himself throwing Will down on the dinner table, pulling his pants down and rutting into him, taking everything he wanted that he refused himself. He dreamed of biting Will up, leaving scars on his perfect skin, marks uniquely Hannibals.
But he refrained. Will deserved far more and if there was nothing else in their world that Hannibal cared for, it was Will. Mischa haunted him every day and his failure was a terrible wound deep inside his chest that he could not over come. Hannibal would not make such a mistake with Will.
So he doted on his aunt and kept Will close but when needed, at arms length. But always within reach.
The first boy Will had sex with Hannibal gutted.
A school mate that flirted with Will often. His scent lingered on Will, the smell of sex mingled. Hannibal excused himself when he caught the scents. He politely left the apartment and hunted the boy down. In his own bedroom, Hannibal gutted him, looking at the boy’s horrified eyes as his intestines spilled onto the floor.
He carved his cock off while the boy was still aware, wanting him to know his sin as he died. He crammed it in the boy’s mouth and then opened his chest, he pulled out his heart while it was still warm.
After he was finished Hannibal killed the rest of the family, quick and clean cuts to their throats, as they lie sleeping in their beds.
He used a faulty gas line to spark a fire and explosion, enough that the remains were little more than ash.
Come the next morning he fed the boy’s heart to Will, listening to him compliment the taste.
Other lovers came and Hannibal had to restrain himself, lest he be obvious. But there would be the odd one out, those that Will seemed to genuinely like. Accidents happened, careful plans that couldn’t be led back to their family. Few of them were even thought to be murdered.
Hannibal fed Will his lovers on a regular basis.
There was a delightful thrill to that, to watching Will eat them idly as he read or discussed his day. Eyes alight and warm as he looked at Hannibal. It made his heart soar that Will knew to an extent. That he was aware that the meat was human, even if he didn’t know who.
Will trusted Hannibal, willing to follow him down that path.
Lady Murasaki had been revolted when she found out. A rising horror in her eyes as Hannibal laid himself bare for her. She thought Will the monster but in truth, they both were beasts. His aunt fled from him that night, after Will had gone, leaving without a word. Hannibal let her go, waiting patiently until the police investigation was lifted and he would be permitted to travel.
Will’s beautiful artwork disturbed many but the fact that they were war criminal’s swayed people. The butterflies were strung up and no one came forward with information. Hannibal himself had a high standing in the community. His mentors at the hospital spoke out for him. Key figures in society that Hannibal had attend plays and operas for years with also supported him.
In the end, the police were forced to let him be.
Hannibal thanked his allies and confessed that the events had soured the city for him. His aunt and brother had gone into hiding to avoid the terrible suspicion and now Hannibal would take his leave. He accepted an offer to work at John Hopkins in America and would leave shortly.
Hannibal made his arrangements and when he was finally allowed, he went after his brother. The rage still singing in his blood as he stalked his wayward sibling down. Of all the things they did to one another, such a line had never been crossed before. They were two parts to a single whole, never one without the other. For Will to leave with no intention to return, it hurt Hannibal to his bones. He knew he would find his brother and bind him to his side. That he would place Will in a cage if needed, always with Hannibal, no matter what the cost.
Six different men talked about sleeping with Will, laughing over how easy he was or commenting on his beauty. Hannibal killed each one, gutting them slowly and enjoying their agony. How dare they touch what was not theirs. How dare they take what Hannibal himself had denied himself for years. They touched Will, dirtied him with their unclean hands, their disgusting bodies near his pure one. Hannibal tortured each man, cutting off fingers and toes, castrating them, gouging out their eyes and pulling out their tounges. For the single night that had with Will, Hannibal destroyed them until they were nothing but bloody clumps of meat.
Grentz’s bar was a base establishment, filled with questionable people. It was easy to pay for Will to be drugged, a rape drug that left him dazed and compliant, seemingly drunk to the untrained eye. The young waitress felt bad but she needed the money desperately. Hannibal paid her well and then snapped her neck. Someone so willing to sin for wealth would easily turn Hannibal over as well. A loose end he didn't need.
Hannibal took his brother to his hotel and chained him to the bed.
But seeing him there finally, having Will back riled Hannibal up more than he could control. More then he wanted to control. Will had always done this to him. For all his years of training, his brother could break his masks down and coax the monster out. All without ever trying.
He wanted to carve his name into his brother’s skin, to mark him forever as his. Hannibal settled for taking him, Will dazed as Hannibal pinned him to the bed and worked him open. He fingered Will loose and then buried himself inside his brother, enjoying the tight heat. He fucked callously, content with the confusion on Will’s face as he whimpered. There was something enjoyable about Will’s drugged state, Hannibal found himself liking that his brother would not remember it. That the moment of intimacy between the was Hannibal’s alone. In the future, he would drug him again he decided idly, taking out his rage in the punishing way he rode his brother’s sweet and soft body.
Afterward, Will was whimpering in his sleep, curled up and sweat soaked. Hannibal’s seed seeped lazily down his thigh and it looked perfect in the morning sunlight. Hannibal settled in a chair and sketched his stunningly sullied brother. He kept private sketchbooks filled with nothing but Will. His expressions and growing body, his hands, and his feet. Close details of the shell of his ear and the dip of his back. There was nothing of his brother Hannibal had not committed to his memory. No inch unexplored, no part of Will Hannibal did not know.
Now they are settled together, Hannibal carefully cleaning his brother’s bloody skin. He cannot help but lick at it, tasting the copper tang. Will peers at him, curious and accepting, delighted even. To think that anyone would come before him to Hannibal had been ludicrous. But not everything is right in the world. The last inch Hannibal held back for his precious brother is gone, cast away by Will himself. He leans back, his shoulders press to Hannibal's chest and Will turns and presses a soft shy kiss to his mouth. He looks young and meek as he looks at Hannibal from under his lashes. Such a sweet innocent soul that Hannibal will carry protectively, guarding viciously.
Will is his now.
They are one and woe any who try to interfere with that.
Come the evening they will go out hunting together. The last sinner will be caught and dragged to his penance. Hannibal has not had a chance to do what he wants with any of Mischa’s killers. Not truly. He wants to open them up and take each organ out one by one. He wants to slice their fingers off, stitching them up each time. He wants to amputate the man’s limbs and leave him like that. Once he had broken him in all the ways he can, Will can have him. His little brother can take the filth and turn it into something stunning, a beautiful work of art dedicate to their sister.
Hannibal is destruction at his core and Will is creation.
An incestous Persephone to Hannibal's Hades.
Together they balance one another, a day and night working in a perfect rhythm without ever trying. It is elegant and precise, ever changing and all consuming.
Hannibal would have it no other way.
Together, they are more than enough.