Warnings: Spoilers for S03E01 and before.
Author notes: I'm not very happy with this fic, and I suspect it'll be very hard for me to get to the point where I write Hannibal fic I'm satisfied with. Technical difficulties with textually rendering the damnably unavoidable way in which the show uses imagery and music aside, I'm used to, and favor, the sort of ultimately direct insanity of a Bruce Wayne or a Lex Luthor. Hannibal is as smart as them, but he's baroque, bordering on the fractal. I'm not used to smart characters doing things with their left hand that might undo what they have been building with their right one, just because they want to see what would happen.
She has been dreaming about Dimmond's death: the sudden unanticipated movement (but she knew; she knew, and said nothing), the flashing white bust spotted with red so quickly and so slowly, the man crawling on the floor, so certain his death that part of her had wondered how he could still be moving.
In her dream she's the one who kills Dimmond. When she wakes up Hannibal is next to her, awake, always awake, his blank eyes betraying nothing.
"You did something to me," she says.
"Yes," he answers in that inhuman voice of his, his fingers stroking her hair, "I have shown you what you wanted to see. Observation changes the observer, Bedelia."
There are many paths from this point. None of them, she fears, will redeem her. "You put me in a situation where the alternative was between moral compromise and death."
"You chose freely," he says.
"Yes." Only truth will do. Is that the temptation that brough her here? she wonders. The cold edge of something awful that she could know as true? "In an scenario you crafted deliberately to make sure of the choice I would make. You attempted to do the same to Will Graham."
It's his weakness, although something that makes Hannibal more dangerous is hardly a source of hope. He says nothing, and she thinks back to what she knows, and what she can infer, about Hannibal's slow re-arrangement — as careful, brilliant, and destructive as everything else he had done — of the man he had once wanted to consider a friend.
"You cheat," she says, and feels as if his killing her right now would almost be a victory for her. "You give people what you call options in tests they are not aware of, and you stack the deck in your favor."
Hannibal's expression is almost melancholic. "Would you condemn me to justify yourself?" he asks.
"I'm not Job," she replies, as evenly as she can. And you're not God, she doesn't say. But she didn't shoot him when she could have, and there is in her thoughts a decreasingly small space for ethical concerns between her constant terror and her sharpening curiosity, not the least about herself.
Hannibal still looking at her, she turns around, her exposed back by far the least dangerous option.