hematic peony.

"The memories of long love…"

Murasaki Shikibu swears she could hear Hannibal's heartbeat from across the room. It is a tone she knows well, deep, resilient notes that reverberate on the tips of her fingers. Like a well remembered koto verse.

Gather like drifting snow.

But suddenly, this is not the boy she knows. He looks at her as they charade around each other with familial formalities, news about Chiyoh. But there is something lacking between them, Lady Murasaki can feel it. This is not the boy with the blooded peony in his hand. Yet it is him, something has changed.

Poignant as the mandarin ducks

Now Lady Murasaki understands that there is no more heart in him. It is hollowed and scraped out—all the rage, the sadness, the desire, has gone out of Hannibal Lecter.

Who float side by side in sleep.

The winter has started. She has lost her grasp on Hannibal, no one can get to him now. And so she says: "No. Now there is only ice. It's gone."—and then a reprisal, a quiet, almost-confirmation—"Is it not gone?"

Popil is quiet, knowing his place (in the order of her world). This scene is for Hannibal and Shikibu alone; the epilogue of a noctilucent pas de deux. She is his favorite person in the world, she hears him say. No more love, I cannot find you Hannibal. Lady Murasaki inclines her head to Hannibal and leaves.

(On the bridge of dreams, she finds him and holds him to her chest. Lady Murasaki sees that illumination behind his eyes once more and she never lets go.)