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The click of the latch was loud in the silence that followed, a slight screech of oiled metal on metal and a solid snap as it was drawn into its catch. The door swung inwards a crack and Hannibal swallowed reflexively as Will’s scent strengthened, swirling around him in a blanket of warm air.

Will was a black silhouette framed by the window beyond, his curls a halo of firelight-tinged softness. He didn’t stir or even breathe, as if bracing for something awful to come as it had so often in the past.

“May I come in?” Hannibal asked, his words a low, throaty throb of sound.

Will considered, then nodded, a slow gesture that became decisive as he stepped back, offering entrance to his husband and his distracting Alpha scent.

Hannibal closed the door behind him and leaned on it, taking a moment to gaze at Will in all of his diffident glory.

No knight in full armor or King in royal vestments could match the effortless dignity and grace of Will Lecter-Graham barefoot in his dressing gown. From the unruly mop of his curls to the swan-like length of his neck all the way down to the tips of his toes, he was every inch a marvel in his husband’s eyes.

The smell of Will’s heat lay thick on Hannibal’s tongue, pouring in through his mouth and nose to fill him up with longing. He swallowed reflexively, testing and tasting it, every breath notching his pulse up. The Alpha in him swelled in response, a weighty drag in his groin as his whole being responded. His skin was hot, overly sensitive, attuned to every small movement of Will’s body. He felt an overwhelming urge to go to him, to run his hands over the scent glands beneath his jaw, to stroke and soothe the heated nape of his neck, to sink his teeth into fevered flesh and lay a mark for all to see.

He shifted, weak with just the thought of it, a rough, coaxing chuff escaping him.

Will closed his eyes, the low sound purring through him with delighted approval, the resonance of Hannibal’s Alpha voice tingling down his spine. His skin tightened, the fine hairs on his arms and nape lifting on a flush, another pulse of wet want pooling between his thighs. His bond to Hannibal clamoured loudly enough to drown out the desperate voices of the past which sought to intrude, leaving him with too few restraints on his hunger to be safe. He looked to one side, uncertain now what to do, but secure in the knowledge he could send him away if he wanted to and Hannibal would dutifully go.

But he didn’t want to send him away. He didn’t want him to go.

He would give Hannibal this chance and if he walked away, if he hurt him again, then it would be the last time in their lives he would ever do so. He would make his decision and never look back, however much it hurt him. Continue reading

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– There were a million reasons to dissuade Hannibal and Will from carrying that kiss further, starting with the lack of locks on the washroom doors, or the proximity to their unexpected guest, or the unhelpful way in which the washroom seemed to amplify every tiny noise.

But despite all that, despite everything that had happened, the kiss they shared deepened with every second. It was a catharsis of pent-up tension, of exhaustion. It was Hannibal spitting in the face of the gods again, resisting their attempts to cow him with devastation. He had come so close to losing Will, so very close.

Yet, Will was warm and very much alive in his lap, and Hannibal was alive to marvel over him, and all else could burn to a crisp in the heat of his desire to love his little mate. Continue reading

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With the crew finally beginning work and so much to occupy them, life fell into a kind of rhythm. The happiness Will found began to grow, putting down roots that reached deep to take firm hold despite the unwholesome happenings at Marsham Heath. Taking the bitter with the sweet was simply life, he knew, and had tasted enough bitterness to savor what he had.

Abigail did not return to the House. Will’s concern in her direction was laid to rest by Magistrate Crawford, who called on the family personally at Hannibal’s insistence and due to his own worry for her safety. She was one of very few girls her age in Moseley who matched their killer’s preferences and the Magistrate was taking no chances. To all reports, she was abed with low spirits and Mrs. Hobbs was tending her, which had to suffice for them all. Continue reading

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Will stalked down the lane with purpose, Winston and his guard at his heels. His mouth was set with grim determination, his blue eyes narrowed behind the shield of his glasses. He was as much worried for Abigail’s state of mind as he was for her safety, and felt his indignation rise that she would have been deceived so cruelly.

Someone somewhere along the line had brought Abigail to believe she was Hannibal’s daughter, either to reassure her or to mislead her—either way, he was going to get to the bottom of it before things could go any further. Telling stories to entertain was one thing, but deliberately misleading a child was something he could not bear, nor tolerate.

There was no sign of Abigail on the trail along the way. The smokehouse was pouring its acrid, unpleasant scent into the air as Will approached the Hobbs’ house. He idly noted it in passing, cataloguing the fact that Mr. Hobbs must have been successful in that aspect, at least.

He could hear shouting ahead, Abigail’s voice raised in hysterical denials, and quickened his pace in concern, his guard calling a nervous warning after him.

Before he could reach the cottage, the door opened and Mrs. Hobbs emerged, the beautiful little hat box in hand, her face pinched and drawn. She caught sight of Will and paled, if such a thing was possible given her current state.

“Mrs. Hobbs,” he called, thrusting Winston’s lead at the guard, who fumbled to take it, leaving Will to move ahead. “Louise! There is something I need to speak to you about.”

“Please, my Lord, just take it and go,” she said, wretched pleading in her voice as she hurried towards him. She sounded teary and disturbed, her blue eyes darting around in expectation of interruption. She held the box out at arm’s length, a vain attempt to keep him at bay. “She’s beside herself! She’s not thinking clearly!”

“Mrs. Hobbs, Abigail seems to believe something that is patently untrue,” Will said, and waved an impatient hand at the young officer to halt him in his tracks. He lowered his voice and moved closer to Mrs. Hobbs, saying, “Who told Abigail that she is Lord Clarges’ daughter?”

“Please, my Lord,” she said, trembling. “Please, let it lie!” Continue reading