She goes to his bed, as he is settling in. The few moments in between day and night clothes, the odd undignified liminal space where one costume gives way to another. Nobody looks distinguished or imposing while pulling their pyjama pants on one leg after the other. Bedelia is glad to know that Hannibal Lecter is no exception.

He looks up as she leans against the doorway. She hadn’t bothered to dress, though not out of any particular seductive strategy. This is hardly a seduction.

“You haven’t fucked me,” she points out.

Hannibal raises his eyebrows. He finishes buttoning up a silk sleep-shirt before he says, “Many would argue that I have fucked you quite thoroughly. Perhaps even with the modifiers up, or over.

“Wouldn’t you like to think so,” Bedelia mutters. She isn’t entirely certain whether it’s true or not. I still believe I am in conscious control of my actions, she’d told him, and it wasn’t entirely a lie. Nothing she does now is free of his influence, but she can still feel herself choosing to do it. Perhaps, if she consciously chooses to follow along with this charade, she can preserve the ability to make conscious choices. Bedelia is not entirely sure if that line of reasoning would merit the descriptor fucked up, and there is no credible psychiatrist in the room to weigh in on the subject.

She sits on the bed and then sprawls, messy, as uncaring as she can force her shaking limbs to appear. “You’re going to fuck me now,” she says, and her voice is steady.

Hannibal inclines his head towards her; not evaluating her body, she knows, but her actions. He seems rather pleased, or at the very least surprised. Bedelia doubts that his small smile is purely a response to the invitation— well, demand— for sex. Rather, it’s that Hannibal rather likes being surprised, she has realized. He enjoys seeing one of his little experiments taking a course that he had not anticipated, and Bedelia certainly is that. Hannibal loves when he gets to see what happens.

She’s done something unexpected, and Bedelia feels a tiny spark of victory in her belly. It’s not exactly arousal, doesn’t do quite enough to make her anything other than terrified of the idea of being pinned beneath Hannibal as he enters her body, but the terror feels a little sweeter than it did before.

“Do I have a choice in the matter?” asks Hannibal, but he’s already unbuttoning the line of buttons he’s just fastened. Calm, unhurried.

Bedelia swallows. “Do I?” she shoots back.

“Of course,” says Hannibal, and Bedelia feels like punching him. Or eating him. Biting through layers of skin, tearing muscle from bone, leaving him nothing but a scrap heap of flesh on the ground— that sounds pretty good right now.

“Ah,” she breathes, staring up at the ceiling, spreading her legs apart as he shifts to kneel between them. She’d known this already, of course; it’s exactly the reason she’s having sex with him. But it’s something different to say it out loud, and to him. To have it out in the open. “So of all things, this is the only one I have the ability to choose,” she says. “My one minuscule slice of freedom. That you won’t force me to your bed.”

“You have complete freedom,” Hannibal points out. He’s fully undressed now, his underwear and pyjamas on the floor in a pile that is neither messy nor overly fastidious. “As do all humans. You may do exactly as you please, Bedelia, yet you have intuited that there are choices you could make that would result in actions on my part you find… undesirable.”

“That,” she hisses, “is exactly what is meant by the word coercion, Hannibal.”

He smiles a little at that, and there’s genuine affection and pleasure behind it. It makes her heart beat faster as he plants a hand beside her and reaches into the bedside table to pull out a bottle of lubricant.

“I have no condoms,” Hannibal says as he slicks the fingers of his right hand with it. “I take it that won’t present a problem?”

“Worrying about condoms is an uncharacteristically crass way for you to implicitly advertise the ages of your previous partners,” Bedelia grouses, trying to sound light and unworried as Hannibal pulls a soft, silk-covered pillow from the head of the bed to place underneath her hips. He’s gentle about it, considerate. She wants to vomit. She watches as if in slow motion as his hand comes towards her.

She wants to watch, but in the end she can’t. She squeezes her eyes shut tightly at the moment when his fingers make contact with her, big and warm and gentle and slick. He pushes her thighs apart a little more with his other hand, and she lets him, and it feels nice. If she keeps her eyes closed, she can pretend that it feels nothing but nice, having hands not her own playing over her clit and dipping gently inside of her.

It can only work for so long, though. Ignoring Hannibal has never been a permanent solution. She shifts, tilts her hips up almost with reluctance as he gets two of his fingers inside her, and she hears his other hand working over his own cock.

She’d wondered, as she’d decided on this, whether he would eat her out. She’s relieved that the answer seems to be no, though she suspects he might if she asked. She won’t ask; the thought of Hannibal’s mouth in between her thighs is too horrifying to even contemplate for too long.

She opens her eyes as he removes his hand from her, and leans forward so their chests are nearly touching. She feels swollen and aching with want, her body demanding contact and friction even as she wishes she could recoil.

But Bedelia has decided; and this is the one decision she is free to make.

“Ready?” Hannibal asks, and Bedelia snarls “stop being so fucking polite,” even though she knows that’s a lost cause if ever there was one, as she reaches down to guide his length inside her.

She’s never been particularly taken by the feeling of a cock in her. It doesn’t feel like much, on its own, and now she’s glad for it; maybe she’ll be able to do this without even coming.

Hannibal makes an appreciative hum as he sinks in, firm but not overly harsh as he pushes past the initial resistance of her body. He braces his elbows on either side of her chest, and presses their bodies together like they’re lovers. Like she’d asked for this. She had asked for this, after all.

She reaches up to place her hands over his back, swirling her nails gently over the smooth skin. “Have you ever raped someone before, Hannibal?” she asks.

His thrusts are slow and even, and his rhythm doesn’t stutter at all as he answers, “Yes.”

Bedelia blinks. She stares up at the ornate ceiling, glad that Hannibal is occupied and giving her time to process that. It shouldn’t surprise her, really, that a man who kills and cannibalizes might also rape. Somehow it does, though. Ethics become aesthetics. It’s difficult to imagine sexual violence fitting Hannibal’s aesthetic sense.

“Before tonight,” she clarifies, because after all that was the point; to make him fuck her, her a captive, a coerced victim, whose desire means nothing at all in the interplay of power and powerlessness between him. She’d assumed that he wouldn’t have done it if she’d said rape me instead of fuck me. But perhaps she was wrong.

“Before tonight,” he confirms, and lifts his head a little to give her a knowing smile. Because of course he fucking knew, this entire time, what she wanted from him. That all she needed was for him to make clear that she really has no choice about anything. “Would you like to hear about it? Twice: one man and one woman.”

“An experiment,” Bedelia says.

“A youthful exploration,” Hannibal corrects. “I have refined my aesthetic sense, over the years. Are you surprised?”

Bedelia shakes her head, then turns it to the side to try to escape his gaze. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that she’s thrown away the one piece of ersatz freedom she had been granted. She snaps her hips up, meeting him thrust for thrust. Then she moans something that she isn’t entirely sure wasn’t supposed to be no, when he reaches a hand down between them, providing pressure over her clit with every movement of their bodies.

She doesn’t want to come, but it’s inexorable now; she can’t stop herself from clenching around him and burying her face in his shoulder, and she barely notices as he shudders and drives into her hard one last time. She breathes in sweat and expensive cologne pretends that it’s a comfort. Pretends that she’s satisfied, as he rolls onto his side and pulls her close. She pretends not to notice that he’s looking away from her, gently clasping her head to his shoulder. Giving her space to cry.

She doesn’t cry. There’s nothing left of her to cry for. His semen leaks out of her, unpleasantly slick over her leg, and Bedelia is utterly laid low, and it’s almost a relief.