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There's No Place Like Florence

copyright 2001, by Diana Lecter

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, and Ardelia Mapp were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Every morning, the sun rose and gave the town an effect irreplaceable at any other location. This was seemingly customary for all Italian cities, though each specific site added or withdrew something of significant difference that made their own unique. Florence was the same – sunrises holding a special quality that made his surroundings serene and calm. There were times he greatly missed Florence.

But he was here. Rome. This place was lovely enough to make his aching for Florence subside. The sunrise was a simple pleasure, one he found a necessity after so many years of confinement. It had taken him two years to return to Europe, another year to move to Italy. During his time away from the place he widely accepted as home, he occupied himself with visiting and revisiting favorite vacations places throughout England, France, Spain, and Germany. Now, having lived in Rome for a year, Dr. Hannibal Lecter felt enough time had passed to return to Florence. Despite how much he appreciated the sunrise in Rome, there was certainly no place like home.

In the two years he spent away from Europe Dr. Lecter made residence in India, a country he had never before explored. There, he waited until the excited nonsense from the FBI blew over, watching with personal glee as Special Agent Clarice Starling handed over her badge and gun on news that made headlines across the globe. What added to his joy was that the FBI was willing to recycle her, but she finally broke through the horribly incorrect bias that she needed the job to be unique, to define her, to give her a sense of self. She was no longer threatened with the idea of a normal career. Undoubtedly, somewhere within her, Starling knew she was as different as they came. She was a loose nail, yes, but one trying desperately to hold up the big picture instead of focusing on the small inconsistencies. According to the last update, she was living a quiet life in New York City. To present date, she had refused all interviews and offers to make guest appearances on talk shows to discuss her ordeal at both the Muskrat Farm and the late Paul Krendler’s lake house.

However, that was all Dr. Lecter knew of Starling right now. Her absence from the limelight made her considerably more difficult to watch. If he truly wanted to, he could find her easily. But however much it tempted him; he declined, their last meeting convincing him entire that any provocation on his part was useless. Those morals she could never seem to rid herself of would always interfere. Further involvement would only lead to further resent. If there were to be a change of heart, she would have to initiate it without his influence.

No amount of hidden hope would overthrow Dr. Lecter’s sensibility. He didn’t waste time in idle pining for someone who would never conform. It grew quite tedious.

In Rome, Dr. Lecter found it was best to pick up directly where he left off from his social life. He began escorting stunningly beautiful women to places that required exquisite taste and a hefty checking account. This, he thought, would be the best way to get his mind off Starling. The entire predicament bewildered him, why after so many years of being seen with only the upper, perhaps snobbish class of the public that Starling intrigued him so. It wasn’t to say that he found her mannerisms or intelligence insulting – quite the opposite entirely. No, it was merely a reflection of the old life, the childish and ignorant ‘there are other fish in the sea’ saying. Sure there were, plenty as a matter of fact. He was seeing one now: a charming woman between his age and Starling’s – thoroughly enchanting and very devoted to him. It was quite flattering considering she was pursued by only the high elite class of Italian society and rejected more than asked her on a daily basis. She offered her hand to few and seldom allowed anyone to get past first base. But Dr. Lecter fascinated her, as he did many women. He was Dr. Charles Wilkins to her, and though the alias was horribly ordinary, it concealed his true identity and still managed to bring smiles to a room crowded with professors and esteemed colleagues. Currently, he maintained the occupation of historian for the public libraries, and was appraised for his knowledge on Italian records.

Esamarla Raizonne was lead violinist for the local symphony and excelled at all instruments in the string family, even the terribly challenging harp. She had a natural ear and many pieces dedicated to memory. From top to bottom, she was entirely Dr. Lecter’s type, on the surface. It was somewhat unnerving that she didn’t appeal to him more than she did.

After courting her for six months, Dr. Lecter made the move to consummate their relationship, more or less because he felt it was his duty. Though she would never vocalize her discomfort, he could tell she was getting restless with anticipation. Sex was good but overall unremarkable. Dr. Lecter failed to give her his full attention, meeting the stereotype that many men his age acquired. That didn’t bother him in the slightest. Dr. Lecter knew that he could easily seal his possession of her in the bedroom and give her the thrill of her life, but in truth, he didn’t want to. It irritated his all-but-forgotten conscience that he was leading on this promising young woman, using her in a terribly tasteless manner, but he was not plagued by the idea enough to call halt to the relationship. If anything, it assisted in keeping his mind from Starling.

It took terrible self-control not to murmur another woman’s name in the process of intercourse, a woman across the ocean. This possible dilemma was avoided by rendering words most appropriately redundant.

When Dr. Lecter informed Esamarla of his plans to leave Rome and return to Florence, most of him hoped that would end things. He was discouraged to find her so blindly dedicated to him, but made no attempt beyond the obvious logic of her career and the other what-have-you’s to prevent her from following.

Word got out that Dr. Wilkins and Esamarla Raizonne were moving away together, and whispered rumors of engagement and possible elopement sprouted among their social circle. This was also irritating and Dr. Lecter chose simply to ignore it. He had a private conversation with Esamarla the day before they left to clear her mind of any influenced questions about their relationship. On the surface, she was relieved, but he could detect the sea of disappointment that engulfed her when he informed her that there was no engagement planned, no wedding in the future. His words also suggested that not only was this something he was not striving for; it didn’t look like it would ever happen, despite the circumstances.

Dr. Lecter whimsically tossed the idea of ending the relationship now into the air once more, debating it for several hours in the silence of the night. Absently, he wondered how Starling would feel to know of his current position. That he was sleeping next to a lovely woman that was not she. This thought made him grin. It was quite appeasing to consider he might arise jealousy in his dear Clarice, if it should ever come to her attention that he had eyes that wandered to women other than her.

Beside him, Esamarla slept peacefully, oblivious to her unseen competition. Dr. Lecter watched her with still eyes, looking over her features and trying to see something more than what was presented. The exercise proved useless, and he was unable to see anything but her black hair and green eyes, hear anything but her Italian-accented voice. Though the influence on her voice was much preferred to the southern West-Virginian drawl of Starling, it did little to intrigue him. Her personality was flawless, her tastes elevated and very keen, but there was nothing that kept him interested. Dr. Lecter saw the end of their relationship very soon, and again struggled with his senses upon ending it now before she got too involved.

He almost awoke her but didn’t. Perhaps he was being a bit premature.

Four years ago, in a kitchen across the world, the one woman he had pined for and never caught told him no. Here, like a coddling old fool, he was keeping himself closed to the idea of someone else, focusing on her when allowed himself to. It troubled him greatly that one woman would affect him like this, but there was nothing he could do as such consumed him every day. After all, beneath the surface of elegance and eerie serenity, he was still a man.

The next day, on the plane to Florence, Esamarla squeezed Dr. Lecter’s hand with assurance, and he smiled at her pleasantly, though with emptiness, as they took off.


Part 1 of 11

copyright 2001, by Diana Lecter

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