Fandom: Ella Enchanted/Hannibal
Characters: Prince Charmont, Hannibal Lecter
Notes: Char is 7 in this story, and Hannibal is 12
Summary: Char tumbles off the trail into the Old Woods, chasing the sound of bells. It leads him to a boy.
Char had been told to stay out of the Old Woods. It was said to be a passage between worlds and was filled with powerful magics.
He hadn't been able to stop himself.
There'd been the tinkling of distant bells and he was tumbling off the trail and through the trees. His imagination created images of Lady Pollyanna's delightful dancing dog. She'd brought it for a visit one day in spring as a belated treat for his seventh birthday.
He'd played with the dog for hours, burying his fingers into its fluffy white fur. He'd laughed delightedly when the dog -- Moja -- would rise up on her back legs and dance whenever Lady Pollyanna snapped her fingers.
The silver bells dangling from Moja's red silk tutu would jangle as her tail wagged back and forth. The bells on her red leather collar would play counterpoint as she spun and twirled and performed the occasional flip.
From the instant he'd met Moja, Char was in love with her. She was the dog he'd always wanted.
And maybe that was why Lady Pollyanna had never returned to Court. Because when Char wanted things, his parents tended to ensure he got them. Even when the original owner didn't want to give them up.
He loved Moja, but he would never want to take her away from Lady Pollyanna. So he didn't ask that she be brought to see him. He just quietly missed the clever dog.
Until he heard the sound of her bells in the distance and none of the warnings he'd been given about the Old Woods were important. Because if Moja was in the Old Woods, she had to be lost. She needed his help. He had to find her.
He chased through the woods after the sound of bells. Farther and farther away from the track he ran until it was a distant memory and he was desperately lost.
But always there was the sound of bells drawing him onward.
Until he burst out of the trees into a clearing. And there was the trickle of a creek and a bank of green grass and small flowers. And sitting in a circle of toadstools, a chain of silver bells sounding their chimes between his hands, there was a boy.
A boy with startling reddish-brown eyes and sharp teeth he showed in a snarl when he saw Char.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Char said. He didn't let his fear show on his face and kept out of lunging range.
The boy cocked his head, a furrow forming between his brows. He said something in a strange language. It sounded like a question.
"I don't understand you," Char said. "Are you a fairy? Have you come to steal babies and curdle the milk?"
The boy didn't answer, though he stood up. Char took stock and figured the boy was a few years older than him, maybe as old as Alfie, the 12-year-old kitchen boy Char wasn't allowed to play with anymore. ("He's a peasant, Char. It's inappropriate for you to call him your friend.")
"Who are you?" Char asked. He curiously took in the boy's odd clothes -- trousers like he'd never seen before and a drab gray sweater with worn spots at the collar and cuffs.
"I'm Char," he said. At the boy's questioning sound, he tapped his own chest. "Char. Char. My name is Char."
"Ah," the boy said. He pointed at his own chin. "Hannibal. I am Hannibal."
"Ha-Hannibal," Char said. And smiled.
* * *
Hannibal was confused about how he had come to this place, but not sad.
He'd fed himself on thoughts of revenge. Wrapped himself tight in blankets of rage and hate. Fantasized fiercely over all the horrible things he would do to those men once he found them.
Those thoughts were distant now. As though everything from Before was a dream -- nightmare -- someone else had lived. Even sweet Mischa felt faraway, a bittersweet melody overwhelmed by the joyful ringing of the bells he held.
He sat cross-legged in the spot he'd woken and shook the bells. He ran the thick silver chain they hung from between his fingers, silencing some bells and causing others to sound.
Over and over he jangled the bells. He was spellbound by the sounds they made. He couldn't stop shaking them, over and over, a song building between his hands.
There was the snap of a twig breaking and a gasp.
Hannibal ran the bells through his hands one more time, then looked up, his lips already pulling back in a snarl. (No one would take his bells from him. They'd been in his hand when he woke up. They were his.)
There was a boy of around seven staring at him. Tousled brown curls and wide grayish-blue eyes gave him a cherubic appearance but there was stubbornness in the line of his jaw and the way he held his lips.
Hannibal knew he'd never seen the boy before. Yet there was the feeling of such familiarity and overwhelming fondness that he didn't know what to do at first.
Luckily the boy -- Char, as he introduced himself -- was happy to take charge.
Which was how Hannibal found himself tromping through the woods toward Char's home. The younger boy cheerily taught him the language as they walked.
The bells hung from Hannibal's waist and chimed with every step. The sound made him feel brave and bold, as though promising that everything was going to be good again, like before Mama and Papa and Mischa and the orphanage and all the bad things Hannibal had been through.
It made him wonder if someone had been listening to his prayers. The ones that didn't involve blood and death and ripping those men into tiny pieces. The prayers that begged for someone to save him.
Hannibal followed Char and allowed himself to hope, the sound of bells drawing him onward.
See? This is all I ever wanted for you Will. For both of us.