The clothes wrapped around your body felt nearly twice as heavy, dragging down your pace: the rain had soaked them completely. Only moments ago, the skies took a drastic turn –from light blue to pitch black. Having had no time to look for shelter, you now found yourself wading through the heavy rainfall. You would open an umbrella, but the roaring winds would sweep it up and carry it away if you did. So, you clenched your teeth and hoped your unpleasant shower would soon come to a stop; it was still a long way home.
When you went to visit your friend today, you had gone by train, hoping to avoid traffic jams and angry drivers, but now you wished you hadn’t. On your way back to the station, you overheard someone say all trains to your destination had been cancelled, due to the bad weather, and it was already too late to buy a bus ticket.
The strong wind in your back propelled you forth on the abandoned roadside, but it hurt more than helped and was blasting the rain against you and making you feel, above all, annoyed. A sudden bust of air from the other direction surprised you and sent you stumbling back –it seemed you needed sea-legs to progress in this weather. That or a car.
All your prayers were answered when, along the dark road behind you, two headlights came your way. Turning towards them, you recognized the frame of the car and the shape of the lights, but memory didn’t serve you well. Only when the car had stopped beside you and the window had rolled down, you knew why it was so familiar. “Dr. Lecter?” you let out, quite surprised to see he had pulled over.
Hannibal leaned over the passenger seat, holding it for support. “(Y/n), this is hardly good weather for a late-night walk. Would you care for a ride?”
The raindrops had gotten thicker and came down hard on your face, hard enough that it had started to hurt. A ride was welcome but, “It’s very kind, doctor, but I really don’t want to be a bother. It’s quite late already and, even by car, my house is still over an hour away. I was planning on going to a motel.”
“Nonsense, you’re soaked and I will not allow you to stay in a cheap motel when there is a guest room in my house.”
For a moment you considered his offer: it was a gift from heaven that he’d been the one to pull over, why be a tough-ass about it? It was Dr. Lecter, you could trust him. He’d already opened the door for you, so you stepped inside and fastened your seat-belt.
“Thank you very, very much, Dr. Lecter.”
“Please, (Y/n), we are long past such formal titles.” Seeing him smile kindly your way, you nodded in agreement.
“Thank you very much, Hannibal,” you corrected yourself.
The car revved back into gear. You faced out the window, becoming aware of the growing cold on your skin: when you were out in the rain, it didn’t seem to bother you that much, but now that you were in a closed environment and not moving, your body had started to cool rapidly. Oh, you couldn’t wait to be somewhere warm.
Hannibal glanced over at you for a second, catching a glimpse of your shivering frame before turning his attention back to the road, “I have a change of clothes for you, so that your current can dry by the fireplace.”
When he said this, you noticed how you’d wrapped your arms around your soaked self in a last attempt to keep warm. No wonder he’d stopped: you looked like a drowned hamster. “Thank you,” you muttered, the sound choked out by the collar of your coat.
The car ride passed quickly from that point on, by the time you’d reached Hannibal’s place, you’d forgotten all about your worries from earlier on: all you wanted was warmth. Your driver had gotten out of the car first and instructed you to wait for him. When he came round the other side and opened your door, he’d gotten an umbrella out and guided you to his front door.
The wind still blew strong, so Hannibal clutched tight to the handle of the umbrella and used his other arm to support you on your lower back. You pressed your bodies close to one another and moved forward as one person to stay master of the howling winds and raindrops.
Once inside, you let a sigh of relief as Hannibal closed the door behind you to shut out the storm. “Tedious weather, isn’t it?” Hannibal asked, removing your coat and shaking off some rainfall before rolling it up into his arms.
“You can say that again,” you said dryly, looking over your arms and seeing the fabric of your shirt slightly darkened by the water. Again, a shiver coursed through you –this didn’t go unnoticed by Hannibal.
Dr. Lecter looked you over: drenched, pale and lips nearly blue –you’d been out for far too long. “Come,” he said, motioning for you to follow. When you came into his living room, the fireplace was still smouldering from a previous fire, making it easy to light a new one. Little minutes later, fresh smoke emitted from the chimney.
When Hannibal left to get you a towel, you changed into one of his old night suits. The silky button up shirt and sleeping pants were far too large for you, but they were dry. A chair faced away from the fireplace and on it, your clothes hung –dripping down on the planked floor.
Outside, thunder drummed at the windows, following after the bright flashes of light that illuminated the entire house. Hannibal was on his way down when the lights in the corridor first flickered: the lightning outside was interfering with the wiring of the old house. Sure enough, a couple of seconds later, the light went out for the last time and the power shut off completely.
You were left in the warm glow of the fireplace: having scooted closer to the open fire, you were now sitting on the floor with your knees hunched up against your torso. The power was down, but you were comfortable with the way things were. A little cold, still, but good.
When Hannibal came down the stairs, he was surprised to not find you on the couch, but on the floor. Even if it was very improper to sit on the ground, he found he couldn’t blame you for wanting to stay warm. Trying not to startle you, Hannibal shuffled closer and draped the towel around your shoulders. “There you are...how are you feeling?” he asked.
You glanced over your shoulder and smiled at Hannibal, “Thank you. Um, I’m still rather cold but I feel fine.”
“Would you care to join me?” he asked, looking back at the couch and wine glasses on the coffee-table, in doing so, clarifying his request.
“Gladly.” A helping hand pulled you up and gently held you as you were escorted to the sofa. Smiling to yourself, you waited patiently for Hannibal to pour you a glass of red wine. While your host shed from his suit-jacket and took his seat beside you, you nestled yourself into the soft cushions behind your back.
A glass was handed to you, “Chateau d'Yquem.” Hannibal introduced the lovely wine and said, “It’s known for it’s floral aroma. Sweet and flowery, with a rich, honey flavour and a subtle mustiness.”
“Thank you.” When you took a sip, it was exactly as Hannibal had described: the flavours were subtle, but needed to give the wine it’s fine aftertaste. You grasped the glass with both hands and welcomed the warm glow of alcohol in your system.
All this time, Hannibal had spent reading your face: your eyes were hazy with exhaustion and your nose red from the cold, and yet you looked simply fantastic. Even after the great deal of trouble you’d run into today, you remained positive –he could appreciate that.
“I understand you’ve been working with the FBI. How is that working out for you?” you asked, catching him off guard, if only for a second.
“Some things I cannot discuss openly, (Y/n). Not even with a colleague.” He smiled, amused with your undeniable -no, distinctive- curiosity. However entertained, there was something in his voice that sounded genuinely concerned when he said: “I want to keep you as far from the current investigation as possible.”
Hannibal looked outside, where the rain had yet to stop, “A storm is brewing, in more ways than one, and I feel like the clouds are about to burst. I just don’t want people like you caught outside...when the rain comes.”
“There’s no need to be cryptic, Hannibal.” You put down your glass on the coffee-table and turned to him, slightly worried. “What’s on your mind?”
What’s on your mind? You were, of course. With him being, well, who he was, Hannibal felt protective of all those whom he figured worthy of it. You were one of the rare people that he considered worth saving –someone worth the breaths they took in their life. He found himself short of a good response, falling silent and simply staring at you.
The movement of your lips told Hannibal you’d spoken, yet the sound had been blocked out by his thoughts. They looked sublime, your full, cold lips. They had endured cold and water, and still managed to captivate him. Before long, he leaned in and gently pecked at the soft corners or your mouth.
You had half a mind to pull back and be astonished by the sudden affection, but the other half didn’t seem to give a damn. Overcome by the ‘heat’ of the moment, you returned the loving touch on your lips –slowly angling your head against his.
Hannibal moved closer to you, breaking the kiss only to close the space between you, then reassumed what you were doing. It went on like that for what seemed like hours, in reality, it was but minutes. He frowned a bit when you finally had the strength to pull away.
“You’re not afraid or anything, are you, Hannibal?”
“I’m afraid...” you’ll see me for what I really am, “...I might be putting you in danger,” and not like what you see. I’m afraid you’re just like all the others. “I need you to not interfere with my work with the FBI.”
“You have my word.”