Rome

Approximately four minutes till sunrise, and Dr. Lecter stood alone at his balcony, ever-still eyes watching the horizon as if daring the gods to permit light today. All was still, the air chilled with the lack of radiation; the streets below stilled and free of tourists or an incessant flow of cars.

At that minute, all of Florence seemed dead.

It was strange how the absence of something, seemingly small, could affect a view like this. Dr. Lecter's mind traveled to the events the evening before as he waited for his sunrise, his ever-perfect sunrise. A smile spread across his face slowly, the image of Esamarla coming to him, unbridled. During his conversation with Nicholas, she had said a rude thing or two to Starling, and suffered a very unlady-like punch in the eye as a result. A few insults were tossed whimsically in the air, a word here or two.

Dr. Lecter could not withstand his smile; the thought of Starling physically fighting over him was most pleasurable. Poor Esamarla had been so stunned at the use of force against her; she nearly fainted at the impact. Indeed, the girl never knew what she was getting herself into when she went against Starling. Raised in etiquette as a lady at all times, the idea of physical labor was enough an abomination as it was.

Three minutes till sunrise.

Exhaling a breath, Dr. Lecter noted grimly that the scene had not changed. Out of the many things that could change in a minute, Florence was not one of them. Slowly, the shopkeepers would emerge and begin their day, the first lone patron to cross the streets would come out, slowly, not wanting to waste another morning at the office. Dr. Lecter pondered what he would do with his day, sunrise his utmost priority at the minute. Sooner or later, perhaps he could start the morning without this much-wanted element.

Two minutes till sunrise.

On the streets below, a piece of paper waved through imaginary traffic before colliding with a wall. Three seconds later, another gust from a different direction picked it up and carried it out of eyesight.

One minute till sunrise.

Light pressed against the sky, pressuring it as though it would explode at any minute. Dr. Lecter stood still evermore, reveling in the serenity of Florence, the glum appearance that not many got to see. His mind reverted to many mornings that he awoke with Esamarla at his side and traveled to watch the sun come up alone. Such peace should never be witnessed in the company of solely yourself, especially when there was another to share it with.

That is why Dr. Lecter was particularly pleased that he did not have to abandon the scene and awake Clarice Starling. Within the timeframe of thirty seconds to sunrise, she appeared on the balcony, adorned in several more bite marks, looking thoroughly satisfied with a cup of coffee in her hand. Her robe was entirely fetching, and Dr. Lecter's eyes wandered over her twice in sole appreciation.

"Good morning, Clarice," he said, drawing an arm around her waist.

With a contented sigh, Starling murmured a comment, resting her head on his shoulder. Together, they watched as the sun greeted the city to a new day, a promising day. A day they would spend together, making up for all of the missed days in the past.

For a long while, they remained there, isolated from the rest of the world, together. Within his own good time, Dr. Lecter turned to her and smiled, brushing his lips against hers in a slow, seductive style, guaranteed to make her melt. Starling was drawn into the powerful influence of his mouth immediately, dropping her cup of coffee – thankfully empty – before locking her arms around his neck.

All was right, all was well. Here, in the only place either of them had known as home. Here, a new day, a new beginning, a new life was born in Florence.

FIN