"Gutentag, Oberstleutnant March." Lecter hopped down the cold stone steps, shrugging on his coat as he did so. He shook March's hand.
"Artz Lecter, Fraulein Starling." The officer nodded. "Aber Ich denke dass es ist ein guten tag nicht . Haben du?"
Lecter closed his eyes for a moment and March realized he had been rude.
"Es tut mir leid, Herr Doktor; schrecklich tag." March held the door open for Lecter and Starling, allowing them to climb into the car before he returned to the driver's side. He put the car into gear and entered the smooth flow of traffic.
"Fraulein Starling... Ich heiße ... Es tut mir leid! My name is Xavier March. Please, excuse my English... I am not very used to speaking it."
Xavier March... I've heard that name before... Gladwin's journal! What was it she wrote about him… Xavier 'Zavi' March: hardworking; cares about the men; patriotic; command material. I'm pleased he is my second in command and not that idiot Goldmann. He's a pleasant enough man, the men seem to like him and he is absolutely charming... had I not met Herr Reinhardt - and if I wasn't a superior officer - I would date him! He's handsome in his own scruffy kind of way and very funny... That was it...
Starling studied March's face, he had a strong jaw line and had recently shaved. His light brown hair obviously didn't like to cooperate with a hairbrush as random tuffs were sticking out, he had sideburns running parallel to the line of his jaw and she could see his hazelnut eyes in the rear-view mirror, they scanned the traffic, ignoring the couple in the back of the vehicle. She could see a deep loss in his eyes, something she had seen - and felt - all too many times. His gloved hands gripped the wheel tightly as he turned into a car park and switched off the engine.
"We must walk from here." He exited the car, opening the back door and helping Clarice to exit, she smiled her thanks to him, his face remained impassive. Xavier opened the trunk and pulled out two long black umbrellas, handing one to Lecter and kept the other for himself. March slipped his peaked cap over his untamed hair, shielding his eyes from view, and turned on his heels and led the way. Clarice and Hannibal followed, their dark clothing protected from the rain by the umbrella.
The church was dreary and dull, even the light that dispersed through the stain glass windows seemed grey and mournful. Six honour guards stood near the coffin, three on either side, their faces emotionless beneath the darkness cast by the grey helmets. Basked in the grey light of the day stood a picture of Hollie, her face turned upwards, the visor cap casting dark shadows across her profile making her look regal and intimidating.
Clarice scanned the faces of the people; she found many military men, two politicians, a handful of doctors and a few civilians. Clarice and Hannibal silently followed March into the cathedral, Hannibal slowed down as Xavier approached the coffin, they stopped walking and watched March for a moment. He removed his visor cap, placing it beneath his arm, his heels clicked together and he stopped at the edge of the coffin. The Lieutenant Colonel's head was bowed slightly and Starling couldn't quite hear what he said but his face looked pained and anguished, Clarice empathized with the man, she felt the same way at her father's funeral, although it had never been as, for lack of a better word Starling defined it as grand. After a few moments Xavier pulled something out of his inside pocket and subtly placed it within the coffin. He turned and moved over to a gathering of officers on one of the pews.
A gust of wind blew through the cathedral as the doors opened once more, another member of the public walked in; he resembled Gladwin in a way, with his light blonde hair, grey blue eyes and high cheekbones but his skin was far more tanned. He wore a black suit, black tie, white wing-collar dress shirt and black wing tips that were overly polished. He looked in his early eighties but he wasn't frail, he had a regal, pompous air about him. The gentleman's hair was obscured by a bowler hat, bar the few loose locks that hung over his forehead. The rhythmic dull tap of a cane followed him as he walked. The gathering of officers all looked up at the man who had entered and frowned, they watched him closely as he walked down the aisle, taking off his hat and combing back his hair without halting in his stride. He peered into the coffin and frowned.
"Mein schöne Nichte...Was hast du getan..." The honour guard watched the man with great suspicion as he placed his hands on the side of the mahogany casket and bowed his head, muttering a prayer. He moved away, sitting on a pew at the far end of the room.
Hannibal led Clarice over to the casket, his head bowed. She knew he was upset, from what she had read Hollie had been Hannibal's only true friend over all these years, even after his incarceration. She took his hand reassuringly in her own smaller one. Looking into the coffin sadness was etched further into her features, the plaster death mask was a pale white, flawless, emotionless cast of Hollie Gladwin. Starling finally saw what March had placed within the coffin, a single photo, creased and yellowing at the edges. Hannibal reached into his suit jacket pocket and removed a single white rose, placing it beneath her pale, folded hands.
"Mortem optabat invenire possis vivere in pace." He whispered it, Lecter's voice was soft, the words spoken with the skill of an experienced actor. Hannibal held onto Clarice's hand tightly as he turned away from the coffin and they took their places on a pew.
Deutschlandlied was played by the organ above and the inhabitants of the church stood, a few muttering the words, others too overcome with grief to realize what was happening. When the anthem had finished Gerhard Schröder stood and walked into the centre of the room, indicating for everyone to take their seats once more.
"Colonel Hollie Gladwin was a true patriot of our country, throughout her life she gave everything she could to help defend it and sacrifices such as that should be honoured. Although there are some who have accused her of being a traitor," His small beady eyes shot a glance over at the old gentleman in the corner.
"She will not be remembered as one. She once stated that no dictator, no invader could hold a population by force of arms alone, there is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom, against that tyrants and armies cannot stand. She fought for the freedom of everyone. The colonel fought against the Soviets, and even fought those evils within our own lands, all for the freedom and peace of the ordinary man. Hollie Gladwin will be remembered with the honour and dignity she deserves, may her soul rest in peace." The room was silent, the only noises was the battering of rain and wind outside and a few more members of the public who came in to pay their respects.
"Now, I believe we should hear some words from family and friends."
The pig-faced German sat back down and almost immediately the isolated, elderly gentleman stood and took centre stage. His posture was perfect and he stood with his gloved hands tightly behind his back. He took a deep breath, composing himself.
"My niece and I never got along, I never got to know her and whenever I did have the chance my beliefs came between us. From what I saw of her and everything that she has done... I can say that this is a true loss to our fatherland and will not be forgotten, for in the midst of death a new life is born and her sacrifice will allow others to have their new life, their Vita Nuova. We must take this as the hand of providence, guiding us towards a better life, a life not centred around Hollie was, in reality, an opium pushing..."
Clarice watched from her seat as Xavier's face boiled, Wolfgang's eye twitched slightly and his fingers drummed at the hard-shell pistol holder at his side. Obviously they didn't agree with this man. Even Hannibal's jaw clenched in anger when the man spoke.
"Enough!" Wolf had stood suddenly, all eyes gathering to him. "We are here to mourn the loss of a good friend, a great comrade, and a loyal patriot; not to point out her faults. If we were to point out anyone's faults it would be yours, Standartenführer Reiche. Hollie could look herself in the mirror after the war, you couldn't could you? That's why you ran to Argentina with Mengele, that's why your wife left you and that's why your family disowned you. You disrespect her by coming here today!"
"How dare you, boy! You have no right to speak of my family! You know nothing of what happened, especially when it concerned my wife and I did not run away! I am no coward!" March stood then.
"Of course you are but this is not the place - and definitely not the time - to argue over our differences, to argue the past. Leave it till later." The Standartenführer clapped his hands.
"Well said, Oberstleutnant." he mocked.
"Sit down." March growled, leaving no room for argument as he pushed Wolfgang back down into his seat before moving to the front to speak.
"We have all referred to Hollie Gladwin as Colonel but... but we seem to forget that she was a doctor, that she was a woman and that she had a life beyond her deeds in the war. Hollie was a caring woman, As we all know, life took away the things she held so close to her lost Hans Graf-Reinhardt too early for any of us and now we have lost her to the same man. I remember a time, in the tank corps, she was taken to the general field hospital after being crushed for 26 hours beneath a pile of rubble and they took her in for surgery. She survived. The amazing thing was, while she was recovering, Hollie limped around taking care of the other men in that hospital... She cared more about them than herself, as she always has. You know, from that hospitalization we - the men under her command - learnt that doctors should never be left to prescribe their own medication." He gave a dry laugh before his face adopted his solemn look once more.
"She was an amazing woman, an amazing commander. I am proud to have served under her and I am proud to say that I was her friend." He bit his lip, forcing himself to continue.
"Throughout everything that had happened I stayed at her side, even if - sometimes - it was not literal. I just... I wish that I could have been there to help her away from death one last time. One last fucking time... another time that she just had to care more about someone else..." He angrily wiped at his eyes before looking up one last time.
"I think that... that Wolf would like to... No." He frowned. "Well then we are left with der Doktor. Herr Doktor, you have the floor." Hannibal stood and walked slowly towards the front of the room, his head inclined downwards, posture perfectly erect, hands behind his back. He approached Xavier and gave him a supportive handshake, using both hands, before allowing March to return to his seat. He addressed the audience.
"Doctor Gladwin, Hollie, was a ferociously loyal friend. She and I travelled the world together more than once after the war, she never judged me, never questioned anything I had done. She..." He inhaled deeply. "She was a sister to me, even after everything that had happened to me in America she continued to visit me. Hollie Gladwin-Reiche died as she had lived; fighting for what she believed in, fighting to protect her friends and family." Hannibal's voice darkened, "She will not have died in vain."
Clarice saw the look in his eyes; a look of unyielding, bottomless pain and the swell of revenge that only Vladis Grutas had seen and he was not alive to tell the tale. The people around her seem to quiver from fear and that simple fact stated how much power he emitted with his voice alone. After Hannibal took in the palpable fear and ended with a small sad smile, he looked to Clarice. She knew what he was asking. Did she want to speak? What could she say that the others had not already? Hannibal's last words seem to set a certain ambiance that she would not be able to follow up on but, always determined, she decided she should at least try, for Hollie... The woman who had saved her, had given her own life to allow Clarice to continue with her own.
Clarice nodded and stood as Hannibal stepped made her way up to the podium where Hannibal met her at the stairs to escort her to the microphone. A deep breath helped focus her conscious thoughts.
"Everyone here has known Gladwin for so long and many have seen sides of her most others have not. I only met her one year ago. We worked together on the New York police force. It was when I first took over for her in the criminal investigation department. At the time she wasn't as caring towards me but more so towards the other detectives on our team. She told me straight out that she wouldn't trust me until I proved my worth because of all the hard work and time spent looking after her team. It took time but eventually I saw her for what she was; she cared for the men under her command... because she considered them family.
I suppose I didn't get to know her as deeply as most of you. But I can agree on the things that are being said about her. Gladwin was always giving and never asked for things in return. She is... was a natural caregiver. There is one thing no one has said about her, which I believe to be the truest statement: she was a teacher. She taught me so much, in such a little time, and she continues to teach me." Clarice side glanced to Hannibal. "I will always count her among the few who taught me the most precious of life's lessons: The best things are worth fighting for. I see so many sad faces and too many tears being shed. I know, it's what I want to do right now, but she wouldn't want it. I believe Hollie would want us all to celebrate her life not mourn her passing. Hollie touched all of us in some way and she will forever live on through our lives."
Clarice turned to Hannibal, He took her hand with a light kiss and escorted her down the steps back to their seats. An elderly vicar stood and addressed the procession.
"I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth..."
Clarice held onto Hannibal's arm tightly as she watched the casket lower into the ground, slowly sinking beneath the earth, the silver plaque glinted in the light. A final volley of shots was fired by the honour guard and the coffin hit the bottom of the grave.
Starling almost jumped when the music started. She glanced up at Hannibal who was staring into the grave before taking a cursory glance over to March who stood with his hands behind his back and his feet shoulder-width apart. Looking distant he began to sing, his voice was deep, filled with pride and emotion.
"Ich hatt einen Kameraden, Einen bessern findst du nit. Die Trommel schlug zum Streite..."
Clarice watched as Wolfgang took his place next to March and sung along, then a few other men followed suit. She didn't have to understand what they were singing to realize the depth of emotion it held for everyone. When they got about halfway through the second verse a crack of lightning resounded throughout the graveyard and the heavens opened, a cold, salty rain fell down upon the mourners. Finally the men finished singing, not caring that they were now soaked, and, as the gravedigger began to shovel the dirt back into the grave, they began to walk away, heads down. March took a last, fleeting look at the coffin with some unfathomable expression on his face.
Hannibal took Clarice's hand and slowly led her away as they began to leave something caught Clarice's eye and she turned around quickly, looking at the gravestone next to Gladwin's: Hans Tobias Graf-Reinhardt beloved husband, patriot and to-be father. 1955 - 1997.
"Yes, Clarice; that is her husband." Lecter's smooth tone drifted through the cold air.
"W.. Why does it say to-be father?"
"Clarice," He sighed. "Read the journals; you will understand then. Come now, we should leave." He said frowning and they began to leave again. As they got closer to the front of the church the couple could hear the booming voices of an argument. Hannibal stepped in front of Clarice as they turned the corner. He was unsurprised to see Wolf and Gladwin's uncle arguing.
"You nazi bastard! You had no right to turn up, she hated you so much she struck you from her own fucking will!" The elderly gentleman stood, unmoving and unfazed by Wolfgang. He laughed sardonically.
"You have a cheek to say that, boy! You are the one who signed the papers for her to... to give herself to that communist bastard in the first place."
"It's because of you she got into that situation! If you had allowed her and her mother to live in the west she may not have had these problems."
"Insolent child! I could not allow them into my house! No matter how pure ayrean my niece was she was too... too opinionated! She refused to learn her rightful place in this world. There was nothing I could do for her and why should I?!"
"Because she's still your fucking family!" Wolf screamed, the vein in his neck pulsed madingley, Starling thought it would burst through the skin if he raised his blood pressure much more.
"If you managed to see past your fascist, right winged views you might have realized that! And what do you mean her rightful place?!" The Standartenführer's jaw tightened.
"You know precisely what I mean, boy!" He spat. "She should have been in the kitchen cooking, cleaning the house and waiting dutifully for her husband to come home from work. Not fighting and not - under any fucking circumstances - practising medicine!"
He turned his nose up a little, the corner of his mouth sneered. Wolf's large, meaty hand flew through the air towards the elder gentleman who swiftly dodged the punch and, extending his cane so as to trip Pagel up, quickly regained his composure.
"You know, I think we used to train men better, boy! Get up and fight me properly!"
Wolf stood shakily and charged at the elderly gentleman once more. Reiche was prepared for Wolf, quickly moving out of the way, positioning himself behind the larger man, wrapping his cane around the younger man's neck. He kicked the back of Wolf's leg, bringing him to the ground, before lifting the man's head up.
"Anything more to say, boy?!" He sneered in Wolf's ear, the chief of police remained silent but struggled against the older man.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, I can snap your neck faster than you can even think about killing me."
"We've all wanted to kill you for years, Verräter!" Wolf spat. The corner of Reiche's lip curled into a sneer and he removed his cane from around Wolf's neck, the tip of it just brushed against Pagel's hairline.
"If anyone were the traitor it would be my niece! Now, take it back, boy! JETZT!" He shouted, his voice clear and stable but there was a harshness Wolf hadn't heard in a long time.
"No." He said in a quiet, defiant tone.
"Fine." He lifted the cane and swung it in a great arc, like an axe, prepared to bring it down full force. Pagel slowed his breathing and tried desperately to calm himself. As he heard the slight woosh of wood slicing through air he straightened his posture, preparing himself for the blow.
It never came.
He slowly turned around and saw Lecter holding the cane in one hand and the Standartenführer standing across from him.
"You will stop this petty fighting at once." Lecter's voice was dangerously low. "Herr Pagel, you of all people should know not to let your emotions override your better judgement and you, Herr Reiche..."
"Standartenführer!" He snapped and Lecter's eyes narrowed.
"Standartenführer, should have - after so many years - learnt not to show your views so publicly. I needn't remind you of what happened the last time you did so." He growled and the older gentleman stepped back but his gaze did not leave Hannibal's.
"Herr Doktor." March's unemotional voice sliced through the silence along with a slight click of his heels.
"The car is here, unless you wish to stay and watch the parade marches?" Hannibal looked over to Clarice who shook her head.
"No, thank you, Xavier." The lieutenant-colonel inclined his head and allowed Hannibal begin to walk towards the car.
"I will catch up with you in a moment, Herr Doktor." March walked over to the elderly gentleman.
"Verdammten Nationalsozialist verräter!" He quickly slammed his knee into Reiche's abdomen and the elderly man fell to the wet, flagstone. "You do not deserve to live after what you did to her, get out the country before I decide to kill you myself."
He removed his boot from the Standartenführer's neck and briskly walked away to take the American and her doctor home.
Far away from the Baltic rain and grey of Berlin, in the dying embers of warm sunlight, sat a couple on a private beach. The woman lent back into the tanned, equally scarred body of her partner, their right hands were joined together while her free hand was spread out in the white sand, smoothing over the tiny grains. Her blonde hair fanned out over his chest and shoulder, he buried his nose within her sweet hair and inhaled deeply, it smelt of honey and vanilla. Her grey-blue eyes opened. They no longer held that apathetic, burdened look. They no longer showed the pain of war and suffering. They were no longer glazed with an opioid cloud. That had all been locked away, beneath the layers of concrete and steel that had been created for her. She was now free. She was no longer Colonel Hollie Gladwin. No longer Doctor Hollie Gladwin. Simply put, she was Hollie Gladwin - the woman and nothing more. Here in this place politics and the past did not matter, it was not remembered, the man planned to live out his days with the woman he loved and - after sixteen years - that had finally come true.
I have left him to die as he did to my darling Graf. I have left him in that dark, rotting basement. His haggard face flashes in front of me in the half light. The dark sunken eyes begging me to spare him, hoping that I have some mercy for him. I have none. He mumbles incoherent prayers in Russian. The bastard is held to the chair by his thumbs; locked in thumbscrews that are bolted to the fraying, splintered arms of the wooden chair.
"Gde tvoya ulybka ischezla, Chekhova? Pochemu ty vyglyadishʹ tak grustno?" I walk over to him, twirling the silver dagger between my fingers.
"Let's put a smile back on that face, eh?" I smirk as I grab his head roughly, slipping the cold metal between his lips, tugging it gently at the right edge first before pulling it all the way through, giving him a half smirk. Frowning, I tilt my head to examine him as he tries to scream again, the blood seeping into his mouth causing him to gag and choke. I finish my work but quickly mirroring my actions onto the left side of his mouth.
"There's that smile, Chekhov." My face remains impassive but there's a slight teasing tone within my voice as I place the dagger within my jacket pocket. He is crying again.
"I... I am sorry..." The thick Russian accent bawls out. "I... I was only..."
"Following orders? Of course you were but it doesn't make you any less responsible."
"B... but..." I growl and pull my pistol out, shooting him in the knee without even bothering to look.
"You cry or even try to apologize one more time and I'll..."
"Please, Oberst... I... I never meant to... I... sorry..."
I shoot him once more and he screams in pain again. I take a quick glance over to the metal door at the top of the steps to make sure it's still sealed. It is. I walk over to the old, rusting metal generator and hook up some power leads. The copper wires trail behind me like a tail as I walk back over to the hysterical Russian. At the ends of the leads are two copper spikes. I hold them firmly in my palms and kneel down on my haunches to look Chekhov in the eyes. He looks back at me, his eyes bloodshot, crimson mixes with his hazelnut eyes that have glassed over. I place a soft hand on his cheek and he leans into the caring touch. My free hand hovers over his bloodied, exposed knee. I slam my fist down onto it suddenly. His wail almost deafens me as I force the copper down through the layers of muscle and bone. I can see the fibres of muscle ripping away from each other, blood begins to seep from the wound, covering my hand and I quickly repeat the process on his other knee. When I am finished I walk back over to the generator and stand by the power switch.
"Goodbye, Pavel Chekhov. May god forgive you; I never will." I flip the switch and walk away, his screams and burning body are left behind me as I slam the metal door shut, locking the bolts quickly.
Starling throws the book away in disgust, curling up further into the sofa. Hannibal looks up from his own book and takes a sip of the brandy next to him.
"What is wrong, Clarice?" He enquired curiously as he poked the fire.
"S... she killed someone... t... tortured them and..."
"Yes, she did." Lecter replied calmly. "After her husband was killed. I told you of this, Clarice. Why do you think she was almost emotionless when you met her? Never getting angry... she lost that during these months." He picked the leather notebook from the floor and gently placed it onto the coffee table. He took her hand and kissed it gently, placing it against his cheek as he knelt down in front of her.
"But, now you must not dwell on what Hollie has done in her life, it is our new beginning, Clarice."
So... that's the end of that guys... erm, well it's been fun writing this I guess... Haha, wasn't really good with updating but hey! I've started A-Levels now... and I might have to sign up for the BMAT this year and apply for Cambridge Uni' ... Scary! Anyways... Thanks to everyone who's stuck with this, you are all amazing! Thanks to Twisted Love Stories, Major, LH and Grymm... You've all kept me going! But everything must end eventually...
Thanks to all of you :) ~ Hollie x