Margot lies in Will’s bed and thinks about children, choices, and the only birthright worth having. Written for #LadiesofHannibal. (Also on AO3.)
Margot liked Will’s house. Most of her lingering questions about him had been answered the moment she saw him and the house together. It was small and practical, every inch crammed and lived in. She was sure there were stories behind the mismatched chairs, the old upright piano, and the aged wall hangings that depicted forest scenes and animals. She wondered what his family had been like. His mother, father, and siblings, if he’d had any. He was all alone in his little house now. Stranded like a castaway at the edge of the tree line, one foot in the world and one in the woods. He probably wanted to disappear altogether. She’d seen the flatness of his eyes — something had died behind them. His connection to everything around him was ephemeral at best. Yes, she was sure he’d love to walk into the woods and disappear altogether.
And oh, Margot could relate.
His bed wasn’t very comfortable, but the sheets were clean and warm. She didn’t leave immediately, although that had been her plan: just get what she needed and go. Some modicum of the savage Verger practicality was the only family birthright she’d ever received, she supposed. But it was snowing outside and the air was as sharp as knives. Being naked came with an inherent vulnerability to cold and to shame, but she felt no need to flee from either in the pleasant darkness. So she lay awake in the warmth of Will’s bed in the dark of his house, silent but for the snuffling of his dogs as they slept. The snow fell, ghostly and untouchable beyond the windows. Will was quiet and still behind her.
He had kissed her, afterward. She hadn’t been expecting that. He’d seemed so very far away. He’d been considerate, of course. More than she’d expected, actually, with her experience of his curt manners and sharp sarcasm. He’d made sure she felt good. Caressed her scars gently, as though apologizing for their existence. As though he was attempting to replace the memory of pain with something soft and warm. It had been nice.
Not that either of them held any illusions about their relationship. She’d been upfront with him about her proclivities and he had the look of someone to whom real connection didn’t come easily or often. He hadn’t looked through her, but whatever was happening behind his eyes wasn’t connection. He was running from something and she was giving him the means to do it. And she was glad; she didn’t want to be the only one using someone in this house. But he’d kissed her after and trailed his fingers through her hair when she rolled away from him. It was unexpectedly sweet.
She studied his house in the silence. It was so small compared to the palatial Verger estate, but it felt infinitely more liberating. There was freedom in the isolation, in the nearly claustrophobic press of the ceilings and the walls. History and memory lined every wall and window like armor. It felt safe. She was coaxed almost to sleep in the cocoon of warmth and quiet, curling one arm over her stomach.
Robert Devereaux Earl of Essex/Johann Struensee (NC-17)
Johann snorted. “Has anyone ever told you you’re an incorrigible flatterer?”
“Many times, though I’ve never found myself deterred.” Robert’s eyes
searched his face, and his ever present smirk faded into a soft frown.
He reached out to tuck a stray lock of hair behind Johann’s ear. “You
“It’s not an easy job being aide to the King.”
Essex nodded at the stack of documents heaped up on his desk. “So I can see. You’re expected to look over all of that tonight?”
“Not all. Most can wait.”
Robert trailed his knuckles over the hollow of Johann’s cheek,
following its curve up his face. As he traced the bag beneath Johann’s
eye he could have sworn he saw a flicker of true concern pass across his
expression. And then in a flash it was gone, replaced by a coquettish
“You’re practically a king in your own right with all the work you
do,” Robert murmured, cupping Johann’s cheek in his palm. Before there
could be any warnings of the weight of treason his words held, he
continued, “And do you know what a king deserves? Someone to take away
❝You wanna know why? Because I don’t trust myself with you.❞ Reba and Francis?
The silence in the room is palpable, or would be if the room was truly silent. Instead, Reba can hear the ticking of the clock on the wall and the rush of air from the heater. Beside her is the sound of D’s breathing, slightly faster than normal, and the scrape of skin over fabric.
“D… please answer my question. Why can’t we do this again?”
There is another pause, and this time Reba feels D shift, leaning towards her and then away, as though he can’t decide whether or not it’s safe to touch her.
“You want to know why?” He finally says, leaning close. She can feel his breath on her ear and the heat of his hand hovering over the base of her throat. “Because I don’t trust myself with you.”