Sometimes your most popular fic is a piece of wet garbage that you wish you’d never written. In about forty-eight hours, this less than 500-word trash heap where Will calls Dr. Crane’s radio show, garnered more views, comments, and kudos than any of my other fics at the time.
I wanted to shoot myself.
After about a year of randomly receiving comment and kudo notifications, I removed it from AO3. Yes, I get it; I shouldn’t be so ungrateful. After all, praise in all forms is nice to receive, but watching the fics you pour your soul into getting crickets while ten-minute cracky vignettes get all the glory is a painful reality no writers want to deal with.
For posterity’s sake, here it is in all of its unedited, former glory.
“Hello caller, welcome to the show.”
“Uh, hello. I’ve listened to your show for a while, Dr. Crane – trying to get a bead on one of my issues.”
“Please, caller, share with us your woes.”
“Well, uh … I’m having inappropriate feelings for a new person in my life.”
“That’s not uncommon, caller. Familiarity can sometimes gray the areas between friendship and love. What’s your relationship to this person?”
“He’s my psychiatrist.”
“Ah, well, I can see your problem. Does he seem to reciprocate your feelings?”
“Well, no … or maybe, yes. I don’t know.”
“Is he concerned with crossing a line with a patient? Because a good psychiatrist would be.”
“Ah, well that even greater complicates matters. Are you sure your feelings for your doctor aren’t simply a long-held desire to feel heard? Many people develop somewhat personal feelings for their psychiatrist because he or she knows such intimate details about their lives. Psychiatry is a very intimate field. It can get confusing.”
“That’s a concern, but probably not his biggest. I think I’m struggling because I know I feel something for him, but I don’t want to destroy our professional relationship if I’m wrong. We also work together, or worked together.”
“Maybe. I’ve only recently allowed myself to be … psychoanalysed. And it’s been a bumpy ride.”
“Examining oneself always is. Tell me, caller, has your doctor said or done anything to make you believe that he has more romantic feelings for you?”
“Well, he shoved an ear down my throat and framed me for murder, but that’s not really romantic.”
“He, um … I’m sorry caller, what?”
“I think he fed me a human heart once. That’s probably considered more romantic than the ear thing.”
“Excuse me, caller, I’m confused. He–he did what again?”
“It’s a long story. But recently he moved away while I was in the hospital. I woke up and he was just gone. That was hard for me to handle.”
“That sounds tragic. Did he say goodbye?”
“Well, yeah. That’s why I was in the hospital.”
“But I really feel this burning need to find him. What we have isn’t over yet.”
“I can understand your need for closure, caller, but if he left after a … painful goodbye, perhaps he’s telling you that he needs time apart.”
“But we parted on very bad terms … and I still have a lot I need to say to him.”
“I understand, but as unfortunate as that is, we cannot force others to listen nor should rely on someone else to give us closure – we need to find that ourselves. Tell me, caller, do you have any hobbies you could immerse yourself in for the time being?”
“I fly fish, but all my equipment was seized when the police raided my house.”
“Uh … right. Anything else?”
“What about a pet? Perhaps a dog? Dogs are very therapeutic.”
“You think I should get a dog?”
“Dogs offer us a multitude–”
“I agree. I’m thinking an Aussie mix? I live in a farmhouse; lots of land around me … What about two dogs? Three? Do they become exponentially more therapeutic the more dogs you own?”
“Well, I don’t know, caller. After awhile they might stress your–”
“No. They wouldn’t be a problem. No stress. Just dogs … I think you might be on to something, doc.”
“Uh … I’m glad you think so, caller. While you are recovering from your former relationship, try to surround yourself with the things that bring you joy. It will aid in your recovery.”
“So, do you think I should take the dog with me when I go looking for him? Because I’ve taken dogs on planes and it’s not fun for me or the dog.”
“Well, no, the dog was to replace your trip, not to add to it. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to chase after someone who doesn’t seem as invested in the relationship as you.”
“Well, no that’s not really the case though. He’s invested in what we have, he’s just wanted by the police.”
“So he’s running from the police?”
“Yeah, hence the quick and painful goodbye.”
“… Dare I ask what he’s being charged with?”
“Well, I told you, he forced me to eat a human ear and framed me for murder. But also, a few other things … Do you really think I shouldn’t go after him? It seems like he really wants me to chase him. And after everything we’ve gone through, he feels like my partner now. I mean, we had a surrogate daughter together.”
“Ah, a family problem! I know who you need to call, Dr. Niles Crane – also in Seattle, he’ll fix you right up. Good luck, caller, and thanks for listening – Roz, next caller please!”
A Hannibal/Rosemary & Thyme crossover concept with a vignette…
I plotted this crossover. No joke. I plotted it all out, start to finish. It was supposed to be twelve chapters.
Botanist, Rosemary Boxer, and gardener (and former police officer) Laura Thyme, are in the states to fix up an old friend’s delightful little terrace. Bella Crawford had nothing but wonderful things to say about her English gardeners so Hannibal takes her recommendation and hires the pair of ladies to refurbish part of his yard and look into a few issues with his container garden.
“Ladies, this is the garden you’ll be redesigning,” said Hannibal, gesturing over the small yard off his kitchen. “The greenhouse will be erected here and the multi-leveled garden around it. You saw the initial plans?”
“We did! And they look charming. Not many people want Victorian greenhouses anymore – sort of an odd request.” Laura scanned the sod to be removed. “Is it for your wife?”
“I’m not married. I have an affinity for classic design and I’m in need of a experimental area for my botanical observations. It just seemed appropriate.”
“Observations? Like a laboratory? How interesting,” said Rosemary, “What sort of experiments?”
“Cross-breeding and some speculative sixteenth-century medical trials.”
Rosemary cocked an intrigued smile. “Searching for the elixir vitae are you?”
“Not exactly,” he chuckled. “Are you a history buff, Ms. Boxer?”
“A bit; but only when it comes to botany.”
“I may have to pick your brain, then … if you’re familiar with Victorian medicine.”
She waved her hand dismissively through the air. “Oh, just what I’ve learned from my ethnobotanist friends.” She brushed along a bush covered in a light, powdery dust. “You said you have a fungal problem too; is this it?”
“Yes; it’s in my herb garden inside and out here. And I fear I spread it to the garden at my office as well. I should have left botanical matters to the professionals,” he said with a smile.
“Oh no! Well, that’s why we’re here,” she replied. “I’m so glad we were able to stay on a little longer. Have you seen Phyllis and Jack’s new terrace yet?”
“I have not had the pleasure, but Bella had nothing but wonderful things to say about you and Mrs. Thyme.”
“Ms,” corrected Laura, her lip curling into a disgusted grimace. “He got the house and I got my life back.” Her attention immedetly returned to the yard. “A fair trade as far as I’m concerned.”
“Well, if you don’t mind, I’m expecting someone.” He hesitated, then turned toward the patio door off his dining room. “I assume you two will be fine out here?”
Rosemary beamed. “Oh, heavens yes! We’ll be fine! And you won’t even know we’re here, Mr. Lecter.”
“Oh, right! Yes!” Laura nervously glanced at Rosemary, an embarrassed grin across her face as Hannibal scowled and slipped back into his home, leaving the pair to mull around his yard.
Rosemary peeked behind her at the strange grimace creeping across her good friend’s face. “What’s wrong, Laura?”
“He’s a bit of an odd duck, isn’t he?” she said, curiously peering into the dark kitchen window.
“His home looks like the trophy room of an African poacher. And that suit! Paisley, houndstooth, and were those buttons made of bone?” Her nose wrinked as she shuddered. “Where does he think he is? A Paris catwalk?!”
Rosemary tightened her lips, stifling a laugh. ”He’s a bit strange maybe, a little … intense … but at least he was polite.”
“Polite?!” she scoffed. “Would you call a snake polite?”
“That man gives me the heebie-jeebies, Rosemary. Let’s hurry up with the garden. I don’t want to stick around here any longer than we have to.”
“Oh, Laura, you’re overreacting.” Rosemary brushed off her friends concerns as she carefully inspected more powder-covered leaves.
“I won’t be overreacting when we end up bound and gagged in that man’s cellar, will I? And did you see his kitchen? It looks like an operating theater.”
Rosemary chuckled as she ran her hands over a bush of peppermint. “Well if we end up in his cellar, Laura, you have my total and complete permission to overreact as much as you see fit.”
In this fic, the ladies find start construction on the greenhouse and as they move and re-pot, they find a bunch of very disconcerting plants. Then overhear an intense argument between Hannibal and a patient that may or may not end in hard objects being used to bludgeon someone.
They stumble upon a late session with a shaggy, unkempt FBI agent, and draw some very shocking conclusions about Hannibal’s intentions with the scruffy young man.
They join Hannibal for dinner.
They make some rather poignant, though rude commentary about the food.
Then they find out just what’s in that cellar of his.
A Hannibal S4/Fortitude crossover concept with two vignettes …
No Fortitude spoilers below.
Hannibal and Will are on the run post-fall when an idea for a temporary home strikes Hannibal. He knows of a secluded spot to hide, out of the reach and jurisdiction of the people hunting them.
At the top of the world, ice blankets the frozen, forgotten landscape.
Emptiness at the end of the earth.
Flying to this place is out of the question – too many eyes, too many trails.
Good evening, Mr. Overgård. They hear it everywhere now, his new name the only thing that follows them – no APBs, no FBI, no second glances. They travel up and out – to Norway – hidden on trains with forged tickets until they find what they are searching for: a nearly out of work American fisherman. He agrees to drop them at an outpost close to a Russian mining town deep in the Arctic circle.
However, they never catch the fisherman’s name, never divulge their own, never shake his hand. He drops them – spouting warnings of a dying economy, trigger-happy men, and man-eating bears, but is met with no questions asked, no answers given. Only Will’s mind reels with the potential danger.
Is this survivable? Can he limp across this barren wasteland? Will Hannibal kill him when his guard drops? Can he stop this monster in a frozen prison or is an icy valley where a cold-hearted killer thrives? Can they trek across the endless tundra with only packs and heavy, stumbling steps?.
Jeg vet ikke.
Kicking snow from their boots and tightly donning hats and gloves, they fight the cold and the wind until their joints ache. They fall asleep in a tent, turned away from each other, the only warmth shared being the heat of the fires in their bellies and their eyes.
Lonely and lost, a husky finds Will and won’t leave his side. The dog is hungry and reminds him of his own pack – also lost or abandoned, not by choice, but by necessity – and a warm finger of familiarity plucks at Will’s icy heartstrings.
Much to Hannibal’s disgust, Will feeds it the last meal they’d packed.
Nook. Will name’s the dog Nook and Hannibal scoffs again.
Over rocks. Over snow.
Past the outcropping marking their way, it follows.
Quickening winds bite cheeks. Nook nips and whines.
Rocks give way to a ridge and the dog howls. The men look over a small, quiet town – a frozen, forgotten place nestled on top of the world.
Space – privacy – everyone is friendly, so they say.
The only part of consequence: just four police officers await them.
Unsuspecting townsfolk see an educated former doctor who speaks French and Italian and a scruffy looking stranger who is very comfortable around boats. Neither were considered suspicious in Fortitude. Most of the current occupants are running from the law themselves or plain old Russian miners.
Vinden har snudd.
With no questions, they settle in a newly unoccupied house outside of town. Cash. Ignore the blood. Here’s the key. Welcome to town. The door is shut behind them.
Xenial is what he calls this place through an obnoxious, fogging huff from his nose: friendly, hospitable. Will finds neither to be true. It is not friendly. It’s tolerant. It is not hospitable. It’s bitter and frozen, like him.
Yoke-devil is his new goading nickname for his comrade-in-arms. You choke me, he sneers. You stumble, I fall. He bites and snarls. You drag me down with you. He fights, but he also cries. Not in front of Hannibal – never – but he will in his room when the house empties of man and beast. The chill of the house is nothing compared to the fostbite in his chest. It burns. He throws his fists and insults with ease, but Hannibal never acknowledges except with biting glances and grinding teeth. He has his own flowery language to use with the color-starved locals.
Zoilist. His lover is a zoilist, bless him. It rolls from Hannibal’s tongue with no explanation despite the confusion on the faces around him. Will has to look it up. He is Hannibal’s charming and faithful, though rude and hateful critic. Such a fussy, acrid man who yoked himself to the devil.
At their new freezing, minimal bungalow, Will’s idle hands fuss and rattle his proverbial chains. The food is nauseating, the ground frozen, the company Hyperborean to a disgusting degree. He needs new food, new friends, new hobbies. He becomes overly obsessed with taxidermy. Keeps his hands from choking the devil he’s tethered to.
But to Hannibal, this new obsession of Will’s is fascinating, endearing even. Will finds it his only outlet in the frozen prison he’s trapped inside.
Caribou, foxes, an occasional seabird – he studies with a local man and his unmountable messes turn somewhat arresting after a few rigorous weeks. When not in the workshop, he spends every waking moment studying Hannibal – writing, sketching, logging it all in his mind. This is not a honeymoon post-fall. This is and always will be about the last man standing.
Dan Anderssen, Chief of Police and fellow big hat enthusiast, questions Hannibal one afternoon. Nothing major, just a few issues with the townsfolk hearing strange noises coming from his and Mr. Graham’s new, husky-protected home.
“Elk? Bears maybe?” Hannibal crosses his legs. It’s strange to try to seem formal in a very informal place. He’s still dressed in his fur-lined coat and stocking cap. No ties and jackets for miles.
For five weeks they’d avoided the police station. They rarely spoke to anyone except the grocer and a few outcasts in their neck of the woods – the shaman taxidermist included. This is the first time Hannibal’s seen the inside of the station. It’s minimal – clean – seemingly too high tech for a cut off town. But there’s a research station in Fortitude. The town needs to stay in the know.
Glass walls are the most striking feature in the station: holding cells. Three. They’re highly protected – keypads and windowless – solid glass walls reminiscent of Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Hannibal leans back in his chair opposite the chief’s desk. “I have yet to see a bear, of course, but I hear stories from the townspeople. Tear a man apart.”
“Indeed they will, Mr. Overgård, but no. These were human noises, not bears. Screaming. Clawing. Begging for help. We know bears here, and they don’t beg for help.” When Hannibal doesn’t answer, he asks, “Do you have another explanation for the noise?” No answer, then a long pause.
“Just a skulk of chatty foxes trapped in your shed then?” wonders the chief.
“Kennel’s not soundproof. Could be the dog.”
“Lying to the police is not looked at kindly, Mr. Overgård.” He glares. Hannibal glares. They glare at each other – a cold, striking scowl that fights, then bends angrily into forced amicability in the middle of nowhere.
“Maybe I’m not lying,” said Hannibal. “Maybe the wind plays tricks. Maybe my dog’s restless, and maybe bears should beg for help. I’m sure they don’t appreciate the melt.”
“No, I bet they don’t.” The chief scowls. “Because I am so trusting and you are so innocent, I’m sure you won’t mind me popping in on occasion. Newcomers don’t know the lay of the land yet anyway, and I haven’t properly given you a tour of the town.”
“Obstructing your duties is not my intention, but are the police truly the welcome wagon here? Seems you have more important tasks.” His hand flicks to a large cork board by the sergeant’s desk. It’s covered in papers, lists, and photos of a bloody patch of ice and snow.
“Police are in charge of many things in this town – keeps us well informed. I can either stop in and give you a quick, painless tour, or I can set you free to fend for yourself with a plate of lutefisk as a welcome gift. You’re choice, but I wouldn’t take the lutefisk.”
“Quite a tempting offer, Chief … but as much as I’d enjoy you dropping by, I think I’m suddenly craving a little lutefisk.”
Right after their arrival, Will obtained a crabbing boat despite every sailor he met telling him it’s a dying business. He’s back to his pre-Hannibal self, nervous around people, only now he’s dealing with his own questionable morality while living with a killer in his head and in his makeshift home. He justifies life on the outskirts as doing what is necessary for the greater good: quarantining himself and Hannibal away from the unsuspecting populous.
Sergeant Eric Odegard and Will venture out on his boat, not by Will’s choice, but at Eric’s well-meaning insistence.
The boat rocks as Eric leans on the rail, watching Will endlessly tie and untie the knots connecting each loop to everything else. “Fortitude’s an interesting town to settle in, Mr. Graham. Takes a certain type of man.”
“Undeniably so, but I’m not settling,” he says with an icy, stuttering sigh. “The ground’s too frozen to dig in roots.”
“We travel. We explore. We happened upon a map of Fortitude, it looked good for now, so we bought a house.”
“X marks the spot,” he snickers. “You’re not staying for the long haul then? I assumed you were here specifically to study with Tavrani. He said you’re a natural with flesh and bone.”
Yes, Will was a natural. Dissection – evisceration – skinning. It all came so easily now.
“Zoonomy is a relatively new hobby of mine,” he says, coiling a wet rope around his arm, “not that animal behavior and physiology hasn’t always seemed fascinating to me. But this place offered my first taste of preserving their physical form. Seemed useful to know.”
Aching, burning breaths catch in Will’s throat – the frozen air cutting his mouth and tongue. He tries to suppress the sting – hide his failing health from the sergeant, but succumbs, doubling over as he hacks and coughs against the boat rails.
Bears only kept some new folks out of Fortitude. The isolation and chill kept out the rest.
Coughing. Hacking. Mumbles of apology. I must have a cold, he says. It’s the dry air. It’s an old wound.Sometimes it acts up.
Den gudene elsker, dør ung.
Eric lets him compose his struggling lungs, then looks out across the endless sea. The truth is that no one really settles in Fortitude. It’s a dying town in need of help, but the winds whipped those pleas from its mouth before they had a chance to drift overseas. “Why’d you leave the States?”
Frozen fingers drop the rope, and Will sniffs his running nose. “That is a very long and boring story.”
Go figure. Eric gestures into the silence around them and laughs. “Bore me then.”
“Health concerns and a failed love interest, maybe three. My old boss became overbearing. It was all the consequences of staying in one place too long.” He got to know people. He got to feel them. He let himself get too close and paid the price.
“In the end,” he continues, “I only had one valid reason to leave, and no legitimate reasons to stay.”
“Judging by your sudden move here, it must have been one hell of a compelling reason.”
“Kismet,” he says. “Called by a higher power.”
“Luck?” snickers Eric. “You don’t strike me as the religious type.”
“Morality is still a higher power, as is destiny and fate – no religion necessary.”
No one else is out on the water so Will cuts the engine and they drift for a bit. Just seabirds. Silence. A restless crew of two.
“Odd jobs seem to keep you and your … ?”
“Partner,” finishes Will. “He’s my partner.”
Questions might have followed, but Will is prepared. He and Hannibal didn’t act like lovers. They acted like quarrelling adversaries hell-bent on destroying the other in every feasible way. They rarely went into town together.
“Right …,” continues Eric. “The work you do with Tavrani probably keeps you busy, and your partner seems to have his hands full doing … whatever he does, but you should talk to Dan anyway. If you plan to stay for a bit, we could always use a few steady hands at the station – bears are coming down and other things – and you told the chief you’ve been trained.”
Steady hands. Will huffs at that.
Training, he had, but what the purpose of all that training had been, Will hadn’t a clue. “A few steady hands for what exactly?”
“Uh …” Eric half-heartedly smiles and nods. “I guess we don’t get a lot of crime in Fortitude – theft, drunken fighting, out past curfew–”
“Vermin jump ship as soon as their fur freezes. But isn’t that ideal up here?”
“We’re too cut off for the really bad ones; you’re right. Crime is definitely not what we want in Fortitude.” He pauses for a minute, the frigid breeze and uncomfortable silence blanketing them from all sides as the boat rocks. “Not much crime,” he says again – prideful this time, but a little weary. “This sleepy little town sure does like to sleep. I think it’s all the snow.”
“Xmas all year ’round,” says Will. “Towns like this lull all the good little boys and girls to sleep right along with them. Makes you wonder what happens when they finally wake up.”
Many years ago, while writing A Thousand Dreadful Things, I came up with an idea for a Hannibal/Firefly crossover. Only about 10k words came to fruition, but an entire world had been built in my mind and on my computer. I had diagrams, backstories, timelines, and even graphics of each character’s homeworld. Since I will probably never actually write it, I figured I’d share some of my ideas here.
In my AU, Will’s home planet is Whittier in the Kalidasa system. It’s a bluerock, with over 90% of its surface covered in water. Whittier is the site of the largest privately-owned fish hatchery in the ‘Verse. The Alliance use Whittier to cultivate rare breeds of fish for entertainment and culinary purposes. (All Firefly canon, FYI.)
The desolate and cold moon of Whittier is named Ita. It’s a dry dock and salvage yard and, strangely enough, was where Hannibal was born in my AU, but that’s not relevant at ALL (nope, not at all). Ita was also used as a terraforming testing ground but all hell breaks loose after a catastrophe occurs on the small moon’s surface causing the deaths of 8,000 colonists. (So most of the Ita stuff it canon, I just gave her a tragic past, if ya know what I mean, *wink wink* )
Basically it’s Firefly if Hannibal was the new doc on the ship, not Simon, and Will was River. Simon and River are still important characters, but Simon had never been able to smuggle River out of the hospital. Will and River were in the same Alliance program at The Academy.
That little divider I made for the fic. It’s Serenity. I made a few actually; one for Mal’s ship and one for Hannibal’s. Hannibal flew in a Peregrine Class ship, seen below, flying around Will’s homeworld.
Will & his watery Whittier
This is Whittier, Will’s waterlogged homeworld.
Will’s mother died in childbirth so he was half-heartedly raised on this water planet by his drunkard father who was a fisherman and ferryman for the researchers attempting to stock the oceans with life. Will lived his whole childhood on a boat, learning from the scientists he met and basically never touching dry land until he turned twelve. He suddenly began hearing voices and becoming emotionally unstable. His father, wanting to rid himself of his “crazy” son, sent him to Beaumonde (the capital of the Kalidasa system) where Will was assessed and found to be “gifted”. He was then sent to Capital City on Osiris to be enrolled in “The Academy” and was never heard from again … (not true, but DRAMA) …
An old sea chanty from the seaman: “Oh Ita, bring us the tide. High for bait, low for shell. Oh Ita, let us brave your tide, keep us straight, o’er your swell.”
Here is what it looks like from the surface of Whittier. It has beautiful nocilucent clouds and lots of rain- and moonbows due to the large amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. When the sky does clear of clouds, you can see the Core, the stomping ground of the Alliance which appears as a small galaxy high in the heavens. Transport ships are constantly arriving and leaving the surface, causing streaks of water vapor across the sky. They also deposit large amounts of dust into the atmosphere causing very high clouds of ice crystals that create a sky filled with circumhorizontal arcs, sun dogs, moon dogs, and a plethora of other optical phenomenon. Will clutches onto the memories of the beautiful sky of his home world as he attempts to survive while in the custody of the Hands of Blue who probe his brain at The Academy.
From the fic:
The immensity of this black abyss was a sight Will had rarely seen, but it’s majesty was nothing compared to the brilliance of the sky over Whittier. The blue heavens of his aqueous home world were continually diffused with rainbows, radiating through the mist-filled atmosphere. He’d grown up comforted by a dense blanket of foggy heat, a colorful spectrum continually circling his sun like an ever-present eye watching over him. At night, as he’d follow Ita on his father’s ship, he’d witness the twilight illuminated by arcing moon bows and silvery noctilucent clouds.
Hannibal & Ita, the moon of Whittier
The Peregrine Class is an Alliance ship from the early chapters of my WIP fic. It’s the ship that’s transporting Will when Hannibal happens upon them on the Rim.
I was still deciding between making this a legit fic with a plot and good-ish writing, or just having Hannibal and Will screw in space a bunch and then meet up with the Serenity crew. It’s so hard to decide between good and evil.
Ita is a cold, barren satellite of the water-covered planet Whittier located in the Kalidasa system. The moon is capped with ice on both poles and holds a wobbling rotation around it’s primary. It’s a relatively unstable moon, but as it is used as a terraforming testing ground and a stopping point for the ships from Whittier, the Alliance ordered it terraformed for habitation.
In 2460 AD, Dr. Simonetta Sforza-Lecter and her husband, Dr. Hannibal Lecter I, began their life-long work in the terraform sciences on Ita. Processes to liquify water began and single-celled life was introduced. Gravity on the moon was altered to steady the orbital wobble. Colonies were established on Ita during the terraforming efforts for the research team and the workers in the dock and salvage yard. Colonists lived and worked on the moon, but the instability of the tilt and unpredictable storms made life difficult.
After ten years of research and rapid atmospheric temperature fluctuations, flora and fauna growth was deemed unsustainable, the wobbling tilt returned, and the gravity alteration failed. Ita was considered a lost cause and terraforming efforts were ordered to cease. The Lecter’s were the only scientists to remain on the moon in an attempt to compete there decade long research into RACS (rapid atmospheric composition shifting). In 2472, the Lecter’s gave birth to their son, Hannibal. Five years later, their daughter, Mischa, was also born on the small moon.
In 2480, Dr. Sforza-Lecter, in a desperate attempt to advance her and her husband’s careers and not let their failing research be in vein, attempted a final terraforming experiment without Alliance approval. A chemical agent was detonated below ground, filling caverns with a reactive gas. This agent was to combine with preexisting chemicals within the soil composition to create a stable atmosphere. However, a faulty quarantine caused the underground gas to spread beyond the containment bubble and across the entire planet’s service, overwhelming the atmosphere wth CO2 and methane. This catastrophe plunged the already unstable moon into a cataclysmic ice storm, dubbed later as the “Great Ita Winter”.
No scientist or civilian escaped the moon due to raging storms on the surface and the tragedy killed eight thousand people. The Alliance presumed all men to be lost and no search parties attempted to brave the storms to search for survivors. The research family was forced to remain and wait out the unending storm in the safety of the research station. The station was eventually overtaken by surviving workers and both Dr. Sforza-Lecter and Dr. Lecter are killed. Their seven-year-old son, Hannibal, begged for his and his sister’s life but the starving workers killed and consumed the three-year-old sister, blaming the Lecters for their plight. They imprisoned the boy, keeping him alive and in chains to torment and starve (occasionally feeding him pieces of his sister and parents). The colonists and workers assumed that they would all die of hyperthermia or starvation in the coming months.
After thirteen months of raging ice storms, the experiment was partially successful as the moon’s atmosphere slowly stabilized. Nine workers and the boy were rescued during this “summer” period and taken to Osiris where Hannibal Lecter II was assessed and dubbed a child prodigy. He was offered a home on Osiris with Chinese adoptive parents, money, and a formal education to continue his parent’s work in Terraforming. He declined to continue in the field after the tragedy that befell his family.
Scientists, now unwilling to work on Ita, left the terraforming efforts of Sforza-Lecter to stagnate and the moon, once again, plunged it back into it’s previous cold, dessert-like climate. It was then dubbed a “greyrock” planet and continued to be solely used as a dry-dock and ship salvage yard.
Though ultimetly unsuccessful, Dr. Sforza-Lecter’s experiment would be used on a larger scale and be proven moderately successful. This form of terraforming would also be the cause of Bowden’s Malady on Regina when the Sforza-Lecter Process is introduced to rapidly terraform the eastern hemisphere of the planet. The chemical reaction underground causes the atmospheric conditions to excel the growth of a bacteria that cause a degenerative disease targeting the muscles and bones.
(character backstories and plot spoilers below, but I doubt this will ever be written)
2460 AD – Dr. Simonetta Sforza-Lecter and her husband, Dr. Robert Lecter begin their life-long work in Terraform Sciences on Ita, a moon of the water planet Whittier.
2470 – After 10 years of research, Ita is considered just a dry dock due to unsuccessful terraforming efforts and is used as a dock and landing zone for ships visiting Whittier, a water-covered, fishing planet. Colonies are set up on both Ita (during terraforming efforts) and on Whittier for fishermen and their families.
2472 – Hannibal is born on Ita while his parents continue their research.
2477 – Mischa is born, also on Ita.
2480 – Hannibal’s mother tries one final terraforming experiment on Ita (without Alliance approval) as she is sure it will be successful and after 20 years of research on a single moon, she’s beginning to feel like a failure. The experiment fails, plunging the moon into a severe ice age dubbed later as the “Great Ita Winter”. No one can escape the moon and the tragedy kills 8k people. All men are presumed lost, so no search parties attempt to save them. Hannibal’s family is forced to remain and wait out the unending storm. The Lecters are found by surviving workers who overtake their home, killing Hannibal’s parents. Hannibal (7) begs for him and his sister’s life saying they have enough dried fish from Whittier that they can live for over a year. The starving workers kill and consume Mischa (3) anyway, blaming the Lecters for their plight and sure that the winter will last forever. They imprison Hannibal, keeping him alive to torment and starve (occasionally feeding him bits of Mischa or his parents). They all assume they will die of the cold in the coming months.
2481 – Nine workers and Hannibal are all rescued during the “summer” (after 13 months of raging ice storms) and taken to Osiris where Hannibal (8) is dubbed a child prodigy. He’s offered a home on Osiris with Chinese adopted parents, money, and a formal education to continue his parents work in Terraforming as his parent’s work on Ita was partially successful after the winter storm ended (the moon began to show earth-like features only months after their rescue; though it eventually failed again, Dr. Simonetta Sforza-Lecter’s experiment would be used on larger, uninhabited moons later). Hannibal is mute after the tragedy and disinterested in terraforming, so he’s sent to live with his great (maternal) uncle Adelai Niska on his space station, the Skyplex, which orbits the his planet Ezra (in the Georgia system).
2482 – Will Graham is born on Whittier (small watery planet covered in fish hatcheries; look it up, that’s a Verse planet). It is the home planet to its moon, Ita. His mother dies in childbirth and he is left in the care of his inattentive fisherman father who is looking for any excuse to get rid of him.
2483 – Hannibal (11) begins speaking again. In a fit of rage, he kills a man in a shop on Ezra, which is naturally covered up by Niska who thinks of Hannibal as his son. Hannibal quickly learns of his taste for human flash and begins his training with and cooking for Niska and his men.
2486 – Malcolm Reynolds is born on Shadow // At Hannibal’s (age 14) insistence, he leaves Niska’s Skyplex and is sent to med school on Osiris to study medicine/neuroscience and indulge his passion for human anatomy. Neuroscience is a field in which the Alliance is pouring money and effort into expanding, so his education is paid for due to his gifted talent in the field and is parent’s work in the sciences.
2490 – Simon Tam born on Osiris.
2492 – Hannibal (20) performs surgery on a man who was a survivor of the “Great Ita Winter”, intentionally (though secretly) maiming him, but the man survives only to be tortured and consumed by Hannibal while the man is conscious and in recovery. This begins Hannibal’s killing spree through the hospital and surrounding planets. He takes random leaves of absence to work on the outer planets, making a name for himself as a guilt-ridden philanthropist (helping the injured on satellites that were damaged by Terraforming practices) when in reality he is tracking down and consuming the men that killed his family during the “Great Ita Winter”.
2494 – Will (12) begins hearing voices and becoming emotionally unstable so his father takes him to Beaumonde for physical/mental assessment. They can’t help him in their research facility, so they send him to the inner planets were they end up at the thriving neuroscience department in Capital City on Osiris. Neurosurgeon Hannibal (22) does an exploratory surgery on 12-year-old Will’s brain, calling the structure “unique” but otherwise disinteresting to him.
When the Hands of Blue ask if Will would be a good candidate for a special study, Hannibal assumes so (unknowing of what the Hands of Blue are intending) and Will is encouraged into “The Academy” because of his empathic abilities, brain structure, and strange aptitude for telepathy. He is randomly cryofrozen for years at a time during which experiments are performed.
2496 – Hannibal (24) continues to kill the rude and affluent on Osiris as well as his enemies during his outer planet pilgrimages. He is touted as an amazing neurosurgeon, removing tumors from victims of radiation on outer planets. Much of his Alliance money is being spent on his travels. // Meanwhile, a strange killer is on the loose in Capital City and he continues to outsmart the Alliance. They have dubbed him the “Chesapeake Ripper” due to the underwater forest of bodies they found wighted and dropped into a great sea on the planet. Body parts are missing from each victim. They call him “Chesapeake” from the old Earth-that-was word for “body of water”.
2500 – River Tam is born on Osiris.
2506 – Unification War begins // Miranda project fails // Reavers are created
2511 – Mal and Zoe fight at Serenity Valley // Unification War ends // Simon (21) get an internship under Hannibal (39) and they work very closely, inevitably learning more about one another. Simon finds Hannibal odd and intense and they don’t work particularly well together but Hannibal passes much of his surgical knowledge onto Simon. There are brief mentions of Simon’s 11-year-old sister, River, to Hannibal. He is disinterested in learning about Simon’s family.
2513 – Hannibal (41) is “caught” by Simon (23) in an incriminating situation with a dead body (butchering it in the hospital, late at night). Hannibal threatens Simon’s career and he agrees to keep the incident under wraps but Simon will never trust him again.
2514 – River (14) is accepted into “The Academy” and paired for experimentation with Will (32 though he appears 22 due to extensive cryofreezing). // The Alliance calls Hannibal into question when Simon finally fingers his odd behavior around the hospital as “Ripper-esque”. The Alliance attempts to question Hannibal but he’s already taken off to hide in deep space as he attempts to find the last few survivors of the “Great Ita Winter”.
2516 – River (16) is sending out messages from “The Academy” that have Simon suspicious. She mentions “Will” being taken from her. Simon has no idea she is referencing a person and thinks they are taking her willpower or her strength to continue so he begins looking into The Academy. What he finds disturbs him and he begins his journey to bust her out. // Will is cryofrozen and shipped out to deep space for long range telepathic experimentations … when Hannibal find the ship he’s being transported on (Chapter 1).
2517 (Firefly TV series begins) – (Chapter 2) Jump six months … Hannibal (45) has Will (35 though he appears 25 due to cryofreezing) sedated and back in his box and is looking for a ship to transport them to an inner planet where Hannibal can gather the supplies he needs to work on (or possibly treat) Will’s oddly psychotic behavior. Mal (31) welcomes them on board Serenity.
Annnnd are you now hooked? I was. All that shit, btw, is true to canon. Every planet, every city. Hannibal and Will fit so well in this world, don’t they?
A Hannibal S3/Valhalla Rising crossover missing scene [fic notes only] …
I will begin by admitting that my obsession with the Poetic Edda was what prompted this story.
As I read the myth of Óðinn hanging for nine days in a wind-battered tree… I couldn’t help but picture Will in his place. From there, comparisons began to arise between Óðinn’s personality and Will’s neurotic behavior. I was seeing Norse symbols in every episode of Hannibal – most probably imagined – but they were exciting all the same.
I began reading the Prose Edda and saw Will in Tyr. I saw him in Thor. I saw him everywhere and then the more I thought about these stories and poems, I began to see Hannibal in Loki. I saw Abigail in Hel. The pieces seemed to fall into place. Óðinn and Loki being blood brothers, Óðinn and Loki fighting against and with each other …
Parts of Loki (his children) are cast away by Óðinn. Loki is punished by him, he is held accountable by him, and as much as the other Gods despise Loki’s antics, Óðinn is defensive of his brother. In the end, however, it is Loki and his brood that bring about Ragnarök and despite his best efforts, Óðinn cannot stop his fate.
These are very similar themes that run through NBC’s Hannibal – concepts of fate and destiny intertwined with ambiguous morality and lots and lots of death and destruction.
I should probably explain that One-eye is Óðinn. If you missed that in Valhalla Rising, I’ll point it out now. One of Óðinn’s many, many names is One-eye.
VR has so many themes, from depicting the fall of man because of religion, to self-sacrifice, to destiny and fate, etc … it’s a very ‘man vs nature’, ‘man vs man’, and ‘man vs self’ sort of smorgasbord. I’m not going to do a critical analysis of Valhalla Rising because everyone and their brother has done one.
You may already know that I love director Nicolas Winding Refn, so I’ll just say, despite Valhalla Rising’s flagrant violence, abuse, and overuse of almost trope-like “art film” qualities, I still love it. I think it’s a fun jaunt into the mythological world of old and “new” religions, and since I despise organized religion in general, I think it’s a film everyone should watch.
Valhalla Rising takes place around 1000 AD. Many of the Norse myths were recorded in 12-1300 AD to help give you a timeline. Around 1000 AD, the Crusades were just about to take over Europe replacing the old pagan gods with Christianity. This is, obviously, a major theme of Valhalla Rising since One-eye makes it to the Americas with a group of Crusaders looking for the Holy Land.
I originally had a bunch of info right here about the original Graham Clan and how WIll could be related or at least connected to The Boy (in VR), but I already posted about that, so I won’t bother repeating.
The only two people in the whole fic given formal names are Will and Óðinn. All other characters remain nameless and I use, something like eight fifteen of Óðinn’s names in my fic, plus all the chapter names are more of his names. Óðinn has over 200 names. I don’t even give Hannibal a name in this fic other than to call him The Ripper a couple times. Also, if you watched Valhalla Rising none of those characters have names either, except One-Eye.
Below are the notes that I wanted to attach to the end of each chapter but I didn’t. If you want to know more about the symbolism of my fic or if you are curious as to where all the crazy dreams come from, I have the myths listed and offer references to learn more. Check out Jackson Crawford’s YouTube channel to get a hot take on the Norse myths and language.
Individual Chapter Notes
I have a very elaborate headcanon backstory for Will – growing up in Louisiana, speaking broken French, being a latchkey kid, suffering from a lot of emotional turmoil since his alcoholic father really doesn’t understand his empathic “condition”, etc. I even have a sad story for how he got his first pair of glasses but it’s not yet published. Any of this ringing any Hopper bells? All the bells should be ringing.
So in my headcanon, Will spends a lot of time at his neighbor’s house and I briefly mention her in this chapter. She just happens to be described as an older, motherly-type woman, a seamstress, and having raised two boys before Will. She’s a blatant Frigg reference, and it draws comparisons between Will and Frigg’s youngest son (with Óðinn), the golden-boy Baldr. Baldr’s death is monumental to all the Norse Gods. In fact, it’s so tragic that Óðinn sends someone to Hel to try to get him back. But that all comes up later.
All that historical stuff about spearheads and limestone is based on the assumption that the Crusaders in Valhalla Rising landed somewhere around Quebec, possibly sailing down the St. Lawrence River or one of its tributaries. The red clay covered natives in that region of Canada around 1000 AD could have been the Wyandot people (aka the Huron). I’m basing this strictly on depictions of those tribesmen who used a lot of red clay to paint themselves and also very similar weaponry to what was portrayed in the film (similar types of bows and arrows and the club that fell One-eye at the end).
Also, Óðinn’s spear is named Gungnir. There is no reason to know that, I’m just sharing for fun.
My headcanon Will speaks French because he grew up in Louisiana. “Va te faire foutre,” means something akin to “kiss my ass” or “fuck you” in French. I like to keep Will a little sassy.
Also, in Valhalla Rising, One-eye was supposed to stay with his captors (the ones who were setting up his fights) for five years. They renege on that contract when another tribesman takes possession of him in the beginning of the film and we all know what happens to him. Mads Mikkelson must really like to disembowel people … but those four years of constant fights are where One-eye gets all his fractures. I’m only explaining this because I know some of you haven’t seen the film. Shame on you.
Apples come up later in my fic as well. I wanted to give significance to something my characters can consume. This is a Hannibal fic after all. Apples were special to the Norse gods. They provided them with something akin to eternal youth. Without them they wither and age.
By the way, all my references to Norse Mythology come from the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (Anderson’s translation) and the Poetic Edda by Sturluson (Crawford’s translation). If you want to know more about the apples you can read about them briefly in the myth “Idun and Her Apples” in the Prose Edda.
I play a lot with dignity and names in this fiction as well as domination vs submission because of One-eye’s character in Valhalla Rising being very yielding to his “captors” and because of all of Will’s colleagues treating him with a strange sensitivity since his incarceration. These are just several of many themes running through this fic but I’m not going to bore you with them here.
Óðinn’s ravens were named Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). From the Prose Edda:
Two ravens sit on Óðinn’s shoulders, and bring to his ears all that they hear and see. Their names are Hugin and Munin. At dawn he sends them out to fly over the whole world, and they come back at breakfast time. Thus he gets information about many things, and hence he is called Rafnagud (raven-god). As is here said:
Hugin and Munin Fly every day Over the great earth. I fear for Hugin That he may not return, Yet more am I anxious for Munin.
Ravens typically travel in pairs and we see two unceremoniously perched atop Cassie Boyle, the college student whose body was found mounted on antlers in a field outside of Hibbing, Minnesota. This is irrelevant, I’m just sharing some of my personal brain vomit about how I’m bringing the show into this mess of a fic.
About Will’s house, in an interview with Patti Podesa, Hannibal’s production designer, she says of Will’s home:
I found a farmhouse outside Toronto, untouched, habited by the original owners. This became our backstory for Will: he purchased the house and land and just moved in. He lives in the downstairs, so he can be aware of anyone showing up outside … Some of the furniture, paintings and books belong to the owners of the house (who are the most fabulous couple – he was a motocross champion in the ’60s, she paints) … Will lives there with his dogs, his motorboat parts and his fishing tackle. He does not have a computer and does not bring work home.
It has been my personal headcanon that a bunch of junk was left in the house by the old owners and Will basically just moves in and makes it his own. I love the idea of there being old crappy paintings in the attic that he dusts off and displays (you can see some of the amateur art above Will’s fireplace – a woodland scene with birch trees). This is what prompted my Encyclopedia bit. Not owning a computer allows Will the leisure of combing through his research slowly and intentionally – never wandering too far out of his comfort zone. Books require deliberation and methodical exploration, and this is how canon Will approaches his gathering of knowledge. He has always been a technophobe so books are far more comfortable for him.
Also, the chapter graphic is of an old map of Iceland. On it, we see caves, rivers, ocean, wolves, and sea monsters … lots of foreshadowing there …
God of Men
This secondary case that Will tags along on is never mentioned again, and is only significant symbolically. The decapitated body is a reference to Mímir, the wise. Óðinn often sought Mímir’s counsel (in fact it was Mímir’s well that Óðinn drops his eye into so that he may see his future – he sees his death at Ragnarök and then spends his life trying to avoid this fate). Mímir is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War and Óðinn keeps his head, which has been smeared with herbs and chanted over, in a box and refers to it for counsel. I used the herbs from Óðinn’s nine herb charm for reference even though the charm is for poisonings not, um, death by decapitation. The nine herbs charm was an Old English charm recorded in the 10th-century Lacnunga manuscript (an old book of medical recipes).
If you’re interested, the charm references the following nine herbs:
You crush the herbs to dust and mix them with soap and apple juice. You sing a charm into the mouth of the wounded, both of their ears, and over the wound itself prior to the application of the salve. There is more to all of this, but that’s enough about it here.
As for the name thing, yes, I only refer to Will and Óðinn by their formal names. No one else is named. I hope I did a decent enough job of describing everyone well enough that you can tell who they are. The science husbands get blurred, but that’s inconsequential.
I have a pet peeve in the Hannibal fandom that I had to explore in this chapter. I hate it when people call Will, William. It’s a thing that I just can’t get over. He has only ever been referred to as William on very weird occasions, once in a Tattle article in the book Red Dragon, and I think in the movie version of Manhunter. For some reason, fanfic writers think Hannibal likes formality so much that he’d call him William despite it being incorrect. Let’s not forget Hannibal has used the terms “a-hoppin,” “mic-drop,” “cheesy,” and “atta girl.” And if you read the books, he makes fart jokes, for god’s sake. Fans sometimes make him speak in Shakespearian riddles which I think it why in Unhitched I make him blunt as all hell.
For myself, there is no way I can make Hannibal call Will by anything other than his actual name, and since Harris didn’t name him William, he’s sticking with Will. I do recognize the irony is that statement considering Hannibal intentionally calls him everything EXCEPT Will in my fic Unhitched, but it’s an AU. There are different rules for AUs. Anything goes.
Moving on … Grimnir is one of Óðinn’s many names. It’s the old Norse spelling which translates to “Masked One,” the title I use for chapter IV.
Seiðr is the “womanly” magic that Will mentions when he’s talking about Óðinn. It’s only womanly in that it was concerned with discerning and altering the course of destiny by re-weaving part of destiny’s web. Óðinn was all about that because he was very anti-dying-at-Ragnarök. But seiðr was seen as a woman’s magic (associated with sorceresses or witches) possibly because it had to do with “weaving” which was woman’s work or possibly I just made that up.
That aside, at the time (Viking Age, remember 8th to 11th century) this type of profession would have been highly dishonorable for a man to partake in. No “self-respecting” “man” would adopt a female’s social or sexual role (why did I say sexual – because everyone seems to peg Will as a bottom boy, and I’ve never been able to get on board with that). And yet, Óðinn is associated with the masculine/feminine energies. A duality, so to speak.
Of course, now that I think of it, didn’t one of the Crusaders fuck another dude at the end of Valhalla Rising? The answer to that is a resounding yes. One of them did. They were in that weird drug-induced haze. Refn really likes to sneak that stuff in there, doesn’t he? I’m still reeling over his “homosocial” kiss between Frank and Tonny in Pusher … because all my straight dude friends totally make out with each other in bars all the time. They use it as a way to “bond” … just like how they “play knives,” pretending to playfully stab each other because THAT’S not sexually symbolic in any way. Just two bros hanging out at a bar, pretending to stab each other until they end up a pile of sweaty giggles on the floor. I don’t know why I launched into shit about Pusher … back to what I was saying about womanly magic …
Actually, that’s all I had to say. I personally see Will very much like Óðinn, bridging the gap between what is referred to as masculine and what is considered more feminine. Will’s my plaid wearing, scruffy-chinned, small engine repairman. But he’s also my slutty little tease who is very in touch with his emotions. So I like to portray him less effeminate – more classically masculine – but with a traditionally more womanly appreciation for compassion, family, and emotional sensitivity.
But to each his own and all that. If you love to read stories about Hannibal undressing a long-eyelashed Will before powdering the man’s creamy white ass, you go right ahead! I’m sure there are a million of them to choose from, so enjoy.
Powdering Will’s creamy white ass, tho … just picture that for a sec.
Lord of the Gallows
I may have gone overboard drawing comparisons between the mythology and the show. This dream of Will’s is basically my interpretation of Óðinn’s Quest for the Runes and The Song of Spells found in the Hávamál, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Poetic Edda (they are from the perspective of Óðinn).
I took some liberties with the stags (also called harts or red deer), mainly because the stag is a critically important symbol in Hannibal but hardly touched on in Norse myth. The stag’s “formal” names are pulled from the Grímnismál in the Poetic Edda and are Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, and Duraþrór, but how I use them in my story are not necessarily reflective of their significance to mythology. Dáinn and Dvalinn are more notably dwarfish names in Norse mythology (you may also recognize them from Tolkien’s lore) and mean Death and Sleep, respectively. These names are also mentioned elsewhere in the “Hávamál” but they are referencing the rune keepers of the elves and dwarves and not the stags which is confusing to say the least, but whatever.
For Duneyrr and Duraþrór, I used Finnur Magnússon’s early 1800s translation of the names (though I do not subscribe to his four-winds symbolism as I find it farfetched and stupid) and named them Thriving Slumber and Thunder in the Ear. Altogether, I see them as the four stages of human consciousness.
Dáinn is death, the largest stag who is purposeful and uncaring.
Dvalinn is sleep, dew and moss-covered from his time spent unmoving among the branches.
Duneyrr is transcendental meditation, who is the most unique of the four stags and offers Will introspection (he is also the only one of my stags to “speak”).
Duraþrór is consciousness or wakefulness and is both loud and cumbersome and the smallest of the stags as he represents the shortest amount of time our minds are in this stage.
I debated for a long time trying to decide on Will’s position as he hangs from Yggdrasil. Óðinn is not described as hanging by either neck or foot, but both depictions can be found in art from all over Europe (the most common being Óðinn hanging by foot like the “Hanged Man” card in the Tarot deck). As the translations seem to refer to Óðinn looking or peering down, we could say his body is hanging head up, but of course, “down” could be referring to the direction towards the Well of Urðr into which he peers, so his orientation is still a mystery. Whether Óðinn is hanging by foot or noose is irrelevant, however. I chose to crucify Will because, hey, he basically crucified Hannibal with the help of the orderly, Matthew Brown (S3E5). (I love how I used his full name and the episode number as though you don’t know this.)
As he hangs from the World Tree, Óðinn learns of the runes, nine songs, and eighteen spells, which I suppose correspond to eighteen runes, but I could find nothing attributing a specific spell to a specific rune (at least not in the correct order). As an aside, this is the origin story of the Old Norse Futhark. It was not a man-developed alphabet, it was given to Óðinn in a Divine vision.
What I ended up with in my story, after spending two days staring at about four different translation of each spell just to get an approximate idea as to what the hell was being discussed, was eighteen short, modern descriptive attributes of human qualities, skills, or traits. I felt as though Will would succinctly summarize the spells into easily digestible bits that reflected his own personality and abilities. Since he’s highly empathic, he has a certain insight into humanity and how men act, and I feel like Norse magic is very similar to human intuition and the fields of modern sociology and psychology.
Of course, don’t listen to me, I write gay fanfiction. I don’t know anything about this shit. Go look up Jackson Crawford. He’s informative and very suave.
As for the rest of the chapter, the story is just Óðinn’s … he hung for nine days from a wind-battered tree, etc, etc, you get the gist. Read the Hávamál. Actually read Jackson Crawford’s Cowboy Hávamál. It’s funny and charming (no pun intended) and you will get a straight-forward translation of Óðinn’s advice, and it reads like you’re sitting around a campfire shootin’ the shit with hobos.
I will say that the “mad horse” comment was just dumb luck. Yggdrasil is an ash tree and means “Óðinn’s horse” and when I saw the pneumonic device used by plant taxonomists, I had to use it. It was too perfect. This chapter is so packed with crap (there’s even a Dante’s Inferno reference ffs). I’m stopping here, because I’ve already said too much.
Father of the Slain
First off, the graphic is of the Icelandic flower Mayweed (see the nine herb spell from chapter VI). But it has another name: Baldursbra or Baldr’s Brow. I said Baldr would be significant later, and it is officially later.
So this chapter is all about the loss of a child. I bring in stuff about The Boy (from Valhalla Rising) to prompt Will’s self-reflection about what happened to Abigail. One-eye could be mourning the loss of The Boy, or he could be mourning the loss of Baldr. Baldr was his golden boy. He was loved by all (except Loki) and his tragic death (spurred by Loki) caused all the gods to weep (save Loki). But you can’t really blame Loki for what happened (yes you can). Óðinn banishes three of Loki’s children and there is a whole host of other problems between them, but I’ll focus on his three kiddos since the next three dreams are all about them.
Óðinn sends Loki’s half dead/half living daughter Hel to … well, Hel (also called Niflheim), where she becomes the goddess of the underworld. Loki’s wolf-son, Fenrir, is sent to an island in the lake Amsvartnir so he doesn’t eat the world, and Loki’s snake-son, Jörmungandr, is cast into the waters surrounding Midgard. Óðinn is paranoid as hell and he knows these three kids will be the death of him, quite literally. It’s a prophecy and it actually happens at Ragnarök.
Back to Baldr for a moment … Will’s talk about moving on and finding peace after withering from the death of a child … if you know Baldr’s story, that makes a bit more sense (Poetic Edda, “The Death of Balder”). So Baldr’s older brother Hoðr was tricked by Loki into killing Baldr with a sprig of mistletoe. Óðinn freaks out and sends someone to Hel to have Baldr released, long story short, due to Loki being a double-douche, Baldr is forced to stay in Hel but he returns each spring bringing his golden light with him. Think Hades and Persephone.
I really love the Baldr myth though. It’s tragic and poetic and I love that it brings about the fall of the entire realm. It paves the way for a brand new world, not unlike the death of Abigail sparking a turning point in the Hannibal world … though that is probably a stretch.
Anyway, you may be asking how I am relating all this Norse mythology to Refn’s One-eye. Well I kind of see One-eye as a regenerating being. His character might have a sense of finality in the film, but I remember reading once that Refn had intended to make a prequel that basically had One-eye traveling through time. It sounds ridiculous (because it is) but it got me wondering if One-eye didn’t live in cycles (at least in the Valhalla Rising universe). It made me create this entire AU in my head in which One-eye continually lives and dies, fights and falls, and sacrifices himself for the innocent. So I attach all the myths to him as though he has lived them for thousands of years and that the little window we peer into during Valhalla Rising is close to the very end of his existence as Christianity is forcing out the old gods.
Obviously I made Abigail Hel. Hel is the two-sided (death/life) daughter of Loki and is described as literally having a dead and a living half. The symbolism abounds here with Abigail literally being both alive and dead in the show. First she’s alive, then her dad nearly kills her, then she survives, then Will “eats” her, then Hannibal “surprises” Will with her actually being alive, and then Hannibal kills her (again), and then we are all tricked into thinking that she and Will go to Europe together, and then we find out that Will’s just pretending … what a life … er, death.
Hel is mentioned in a few stories. My basis for the realm is not so much in the scripture as it is in my own personal vision of Niflheim or what I think a young daughter of Loki may create. It is also the sort of world Will envisions Abigail living in. It is a realm of perpetual autumn, which, if you remember the show, the whole Shrike storyline takes place in the fall, so to Will, she may feel trapped in this golden memory of that experience together.
“Loki’s Offspring” in the Prose Edda tells us a little bit about Hel:
Hel, [Óðinn] cast into Niflheim, and gave her power over [the ninth world] that she should appoint abodes to them that are sent to her, namely, those who die from sickness or old age. She has there a great mansion, and the walls around it are of strange height, and the gates are huge. Eljudner is the name of her hall. Her table hight famine; her knife, starvation. Her man-servant’s name is Ganglate; her maid-servant’s, Ganglot. Her threshold is called stumbling-block; her bed, care; the precious hangings of her bed, gleaming bale. One-half of her is [black], and the other half is of the hue of flesh; hence she is easily known. Her looks are very stern and grim.
My Hel still feeds her dead with the meager pittance of a vast orchard. Obviously these are not Iðun’s apples, they are probably more akin to crab-apples, but she is doing her best to bring comfort to the dead.
Will runs into two dead folks in Niflheim. First is Sheldon Isley, aka Tree Man (S2E6), who gives him the Belladonna that Hannibal has stashed where his heart should have been.
The second is Beverly. Awww. I teared up writing Beverly’s part. Did you catch my “curiosity killed the Katz” joke? No? Well shit.
Oh, the dog’s name is Garm. He guards the entrance of Niflheim which is called Gnipa-cave. It’s irrelevant to know his name, but Will would want you to know (he’s mentioned again in the Prose Edda, “Ragnarök”).
God of Prisoners
So, my notes are getting ridiculous so I’ll just talk about this line: “We are both now at the mercy of time – awaiting the sword, the teeth, or the fall to kill us.”
At Ragnarök (Prose Edda, “Ragnarök”) and the end of Hannibal (assuming season four never happens), Heimdall fells Loki with his sword, Fenrir’s jaws kill Óðinn, and obviously, the cliff kills our boys. This could also reference Hannibal’s sweet chef’s knives and his teeth also being viable options for Will’s death and that brings me to my next strange headcanon.
In the Lord of the Gallows, I note how I imagine Will dying in Wrath of the Lamb. The stag asks Will if he “feels the teeth at the end”. My headcanon is that Hannibal tastes Will’s neck as they fall. Not like in a “kiss kiss” way or an “I’m hungry” kind of way but rather an “honor the flesh of my kindred spirit” kind of way. Hannibal really wanted to eat him. I mean he tried to eat him what, four times? If you don’t think he’d try again as his dying act … I’m not sure we watched the same show.
Of course, Bryan Fuller focuses a lot on all the physical pain Will is feeling at the end of Wrath, while he shows all the emotional pain Hannibal is in, so Hannibal may not be in a frame of mind to be so selfish that he would cause Will more pain at that point. Will has obviously changed him, so perhaps they die together in peace rather than pieces.
Foe of the Wolf
I feel for Will, I really do. He loves his dogs and to watch one as mighty as Fenrir be bound and hurt in such a way would be heartbreaking for him. Much like Tyr (the god who actually has his hand eaten by Fenrir), Will is ruled by his conscience and his honor (at least before Hannibal gets ahold of him). He wants to be fair and just. The greater good needs Fenrir bound, but as he loves and empathizes with the hound, he’s torn. This is how Will feels as the show shifts between season 2 and 3.
The wolf is tricked by three fetters (or ties) of which the first two he breaks free. The third is infused with magic and it ultimately ensnares him, leaving him bound (though still growing) until he breaks free at Ragnarök (Fenrir’s fettering story is in the Prose Edda, “Loki and his Offspring”).
But who is Fenrir to Will? Well, he’s a lot of things: regret and guilt of course, but ultimately Fenrir is Hannibal. Like Hel is the embodiment of what Hannibal took from Will, Fenrir is what Will took from Hannibal. Will betrayed Hannibal’s trust and he rejected his offering of friendship.
After losing his hand, Tyr fades from the myths until Ragnarök. I imagine him returning to the island to bring food to Fenrir, much like Will visiting Hannibal in prison. In the myth, Fenrir howls so loudly that his captors stab him in the mouth, a sword left to pry open his jaw, effectively silencing the beast (or effectively muzzling Hannibal with that infamous half-mask). Fenrir’s blood and saliva pour from his gaping maw to form the river Ván.
I imagine Tyr sitting by Fenrir as the wolf continues to grow, petting his ever-lengthening fur and never getting over what he’d done. While the other gods laughed when Fenrir was finally bound, Tyr doesn’t. The myth alludes that he doesn’t laugh because he’d just lost his hand, but I see him silently crying to himself, not in physical pain, but out of compassion for the friend he’d just betrayed.
Now Will is obviously a little more hardened than this, but can you imagine an empath who loves dogs and has an incredible guilt complex about betraying a friend reading this myth? He’d be inconsolable.
At Ragnarök, Tyr is killed in a battle against Garm (the dog that leads Will through Niflheim). There is debate over whether Garm and Fenrir are the same wolf because Garm is called Fenrir in the Poetic Edda’s “Voluspa” (they both are named in various places having howled at the gates of Niflheim). For this reason, I have Garm struggle with his chains as Will descends into Niflheim in chapter IX. The struggling bloodies and rips up Will’s hand, the hand he will eventually lose to Fenrir.
Fenrir, of course, breaks free of his fetter at the end of the world and consumes Óðinn. This is yet another reason why I think it’s appropriate to have Hannibal take a bite from Will as they fall. It just seems to be a fitting end.
Ruler of Treachery
The first time I published these notes (over a year ago), I had nothing to share about this chapter. During my edits, I eventually doubled the word count, and thought I’d have something to explain, but, alas, I still find little to say.
It’s Will. He’s never enjoyed therapy, so sitting him down with Alana to watch him squirm was something I felt compelled to do. Realistically, would Alana be his therapist after all the shit they went through? No. But that doesn’t matter. I started making my own headcanons for everything so bear with me if you find my interpretation of the show wildly inconsistent. I’ve only watched it once five years ago, so this was all written from memory.
I feel like this chapter sort of sets you up for the mental anguish the man is under. He’s not handling his separation from Hannibal well and no one is believing him when he claims to be “okay.”
I will say that getting to this point in the story was eye-opening for me as a writer. The way Will and Alana interact here is very strained. At the time these notes were written, I found myself in the middle of Unhitched, exploring Hopper’s relationship with his own Alana. It really drove home how original Hopper actually is as a character. I can’t call him Will Graham anymore, I feel like he’s practically an OC, like Nicky and Bill or Blue (I have no link to that little slut; I’m so sorry). Will is still inside Hopper, but he’s a warped version of himself, stretched and twisted due to his circumstances.
Okay, I won’t talk about Unhitched again.
I loved writing this chapter. This is based on the myth in which Thor battles Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent (Prose Edda, “Thor’s Adventures”). I just couldn’t write this fiction without giving Will the opportunity to go fishing. Fishing is such a core part of his character. Once again, the serpent is another version of Hannibal (and Jörmungandr is also Loki’s offspring).
Thor is basically made to look a fool in a previous myth (a giant plays a few deceptive tricks on him) and he takes out his anger on the serpent (even though his rage is somewhat misplaced since the serpent didn’t trick him, the giant did). I gave Will a new resolve in this chapter. He’s a bit angrier, vengeful, and ready to stop the madness. He’s also made to feel a little foolish by the old man who continues to call him “boy.” In the myth, Thor appears as an older boy.
In the end, Will sacrifices his eye (like Óðinn) to pull the beast out of hiding much like he uses himself to find Hannibal in Europe (though in my fic, that has yet to happen). There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist.
Mover of Constellations
And just like that, Will is expected to move on. I wanted to make the death of One-eye just a blip in time. His death is unimportant to the world despite how deeply important he was to Will. This is how Will has always had to live. He becomes personally invested in people on a deep, almost spiritual level only to have them walk away, or be taken away, or simply not reciprocate his feelings.
He was seeing One-eye as a very important being – a soothsayer, somewhat. He was gaining personal insight that he’d never had before. And then the man was pulled from him and destroyed and that connection is suddenly severed.
Was One-eye actually important? Was he supernatural? Or was Will projecting all of that onto him because he is depressed, injured, terrified, and heartbroken? Who’s to say?
I can’t imagine living like Will. I have studied empathy for months trying to get a sense of what turmoil Will would have to live with. I understand why he wants to be alone. I understand how easily he can lose himself in others. He’s malleable and easily manipulated. It would be terrifying to feel that vulnerable constantly, especially after the last few years of being deceived, framed, and then losing the trust of your colleagues.
But anyway, we leave Will hellbent on finding Hannibal and finishing what they started and this is where we re-merge onto the canon timeline, right before Will heads out to find Hannibal.
I cannot believe you read all that. My god. You win a gold goddamn star, reader.