An ivory acquaintance
A story fell from melodic fingers, the keys emanating beauty and fragility with each touch; as a finger pressed against ivory in timed beats - a particular string of notes following, Hannibal Lecter felt something break inside him. His breath hitched, heart rate losing its composure, it stuttered.
The woman playing was embodying perfection as she swayed with the notes. He was completely mesmorised by her expert fingers, and overwhelmed by his inability to look away. No musician had ever tempted his eyes so much; not one. He was at a loss as the last of her melody lingered on high notes, resonating within him.
He stared. The woman left her fingers on the last of the keys that she played as a deep breath left her lungs. Her hair was long, stretching down her back in a plat of frosted brown. Her skin pale, but illuminated by the lights of the stage – she glowed. His eyes lingered on the deep blue dress that she wore, it rested at her knees, hugging her form tightly and shimmering under his gaze. Hannibal felt vulnerable at that moment. A tear had escaped him as he stood to give her his ovation – yet as he examined the audience he realised that there were only few others joining him in appreciation, while others sat and talked through haphazard claps. He felt fury burning deep in his stomach. He wanted to kill them all. Right now – take out a knife and draw it across the throat of the woman that was busy gossiping with her friend beside him, wanted to shove it deeply into the head of the man that was sitting there reading; not even acknowledging the greatness that just occurred. But he kept himself restrained. He would not kill today.
The young girl took a bow and exited the stage.
The crowd dispersed in the lobby after, those that lingered hoping to speak with previous musicians that had performed.
"It's been too long since you properly cooked for us, Hannibal." Mrs Kameda, an old friend, chastised, pursing her lips and giving him a stern glare. Hannibal straightened, "Come over and I will cook for you," he replied, gesturing with his wine glass, an encouraging upturn of lips present.
The woman's hands were perched on her hips, her eyebrows rose, "I said properly – means dinner and a show," she leant back toward her friend behind her, "Have you seen him cook? It's an entire performance."
Hannibal took a sip from his glass of wine and she continued, "He used to throw such exquisite dinner parties –
Her voice continued in the background of Hannibal's mind, but as he continued to sip from his glass his eyes caught contact with one of his patients, Franklin, approaching him. He pulled his glass away, and turned his gaze back to his friend as she finished speaking – "…you heard me, used to." Her emphasis on the word did not faze him, nor did her stern expression.
He leant forward, "And I will again, once inspiration strikes." He tilted his glass as though he was promising her a dinner party with a toast, and she smiled back to him.
"You cannot force a feast, a feast must present itself."
The woman pouted at his words, "it's a feast, not a Unicorn."
"Oh but a feast is life, you put the life in your belly and you live," Hannibal replied proudly. She laughed and then glanced toward her left, noticing Franklin lingering, and said "...I believe this young man is trying to get your attention."
Hannibal offered a small smile to Franklin and simply said, "Hello."
"Hi, so good to see you," began Franklin, shaking Hannibal's hand, "this is my friend Tobias," he pointed to Tobias smiling.
"Good evening," Doctor Lecter said, shaking Tobias's hand, who nodded a silent hello.
"How do you two know each other?" Mrs Komeda questioned, glancing at the two new acquaintances. Hannibal paused, and looked back at the woman, "There should remain some mystery to my life outside the opera."
Her token pout was back in place, and she had a teasing glare in her eyes – but as she remembered herself, she smiled toward Franklin and Tobias, humming in acknowledgement.
Franklin scrunched his face and interjected, "I'm one of his patients."
"Oh," she uttered, and he nodded at her in confirmation.
Hannibal felt a sliver of anger resurfacing as he watched the words fall from Franklin's mouth, but thought better of saying anything and instead questioned Tobias, "Did you enjoy the performance?"
Instead Franklin replied, "I did, I loved it," Tobias glanced at him, "...every minute of it."
"His eyes kept wandering," Tobias began, "more interested in you than what was happening on stage."
Hannibal's expression lacked emotion, but his tone took on a lighter one, "Oh, don't say too much – you must leave something for us to discuss next week."
Momentarily his eyes were drawn to the woman that had given such an incredible performance. She was laughing modestly, as she conversed with other members of the audience.
"Please excuse me," he said, and walked through the crowd to approach the woman.
Franklin turned, frustrated that Hannibal hadn't stayed longer to talk with him and his friend Tobias. The retreating back of his psychiatrist only angering him, "What's he so interested in?"
"The woman that played that devastatingly stunning piano piece earlier in the show," Tobias replied firmly.
Franklin sputtered nonsense from his mouth, "B-But she was terrible! I felt nothing when I watched her perform - he should have at least said goodbye to us first."
Tobias let his friend utter his nuances freely – he knew there was no point in explaining the beauty of her performance, Franklin was small minded.
Hannibal waited patiently for the husband and wife that were conversing with the woman to leave. As they walked away, the woman looked at him and smiled meekly. Hannibal admired her cerulean eyes, and stepped closer to introduce himself.
"Hello, I would just like to tell you how entranced I was by your performance. It was a rendition I have never heard before, but one that was overwhelmingly flawless, if I may say."
The young girl was surprised by his words that she couldn't find any of her own to reply with. Hannibal recognised how at loss she was and interrupted her thoughts,
"My name is Doctor Lecter, may I ask what yours is?"
She held out her hand, smiling, "It's Lilia Peters. And it's lovely to meet you Doctor Lecter – and thank you for your compliments...I have received them before, but none as flattering as yours, it's slightly overwhelming."
Hannibal chuckled slightly. He liked that a rosy colour had spread across the young girls cheeks -
"I'm quite confident that you will receive compliments greater than mine in the near future. When are you playing next? I would love to attend another of your performances."
She fumbled for words and briefly avoided eye contact with him, "Two Saturday's from now."
"Excellent," he smoothed his suit jacket and took her hand, bringing it to his lips while his eyes paralleled her own, "I am ecstatic to see you perform again, Miss Peter's." His lips brushed the back of her hand, and he reveled in the way her pulse trembled.
"Good evening," with those words he let go of her hand and left.
Lilia was unsure whether her heart had ever thumped at such a multitude before. It was erratic and frantic, and her breaths were rapidly escaping her.
"How could one stranger make me so unnerved?" she wondered, clasping her hands together and smiling politely at the remnants of people that were passing her by as they left.
Her mind lent her one certainty though; and that was that she was definitely excited to meet Doctor Lecter again – there was just something about him that intrigued her.