I know this is a weird question, but in your opinion, to what extent does Will love Hannibal? As far as I am aware, the relationship is not subtext only from Hannibal's side. Will, on the other hand, doesn't have any kind of strong confirmation or demonstration that shows his feeling for Hannibal is romantic. I've read some of your metas, I do believe Will has some sort of attachment to Hannibal. I fully acknowledge that Will has feelings for Hannibal, since Hannibal is strongly associated with his own darkness. However, I cannot say for sure that those feelings are romantic. Subtexts and the creators' words are not credible as queerbaiting is too common these days. I've heard that Bryan didn't plan any romance between them initially in ss1. I know that Will is not the type of person that expresses openly, and he lies too often. But unfortunately, that's also why we can never know his emotions for sure. We can only have speculations and interpretations that fit our expectations. I see the only reason why Will feels attachment to Hannibal is because Hannibal is the only one in his life that offers him the opportunity to be understood and accepted, not because Hannibal is Hannibal. We all know that Hannibal loves Will because Will is Will, he literally turns down all the offers from others (Tobias, Antony and Francis). Hannibal only wants to be seen by Will. Will, on the other hand, well, I feel like if there was another person that offered him the same opportunity for understanding, he wouldn't necessarily refuse. He doesn't really reject Matthew, you know. And also, Will strikes me as someone too straight. In short, I think Will does have some sort of feelings for Hannibal, but I am not sure they are romantic, and it seems to me that Will could have Hannibal replaced if the circumstances allowed.
Hello! I mostly voiced my thoughts about how Will expresses his feelings in this meta - if you haven't read it, I think you might be interested. If you have, then I'll add some more thoughts here.
You are right in that Hannibal's feelings for Will are more verbally romantic. Hannibal is more open emotionally on a whole: he's at peace with himself, he understands what he wants and what he feels. Will doesn't have the same luxury. Throughout the show, he undergoes various self-conflicts and he's very confused about his own feelings.
Personally, I don't really consider these feelings ambiguous. Will's romantic love in the show is confirmed through his actions and reactions. He's silent when Bedelia asks him if he's also in love with Hannibal. This silence is an undeniable "yes" in my eyes - otherwise, there is simply no point in it. If he wanted to say no, he would have done it. He would have snorted or asked Bedelia why in the world she would think that. Instead, we have a long focus on Will's pained face, his silence, and a slow blurring into Hannibal. This is a standard story-telling technique - silence to such questions speaks very loudly in shows/movies. And based on Bedelia's face, she knew very well what the answer would be. After this, Will stages Hannibal's escape and chooses him above everyone else before running away with him, and I think it's one more confirmation of his positive answer.
'Hannibal' is not the show where lots of things are stated directly. In fact, many viewers considered "Is Hannibal in love with me" redundant and strange exactly because it was too direct for a show like this. Will's feelings are pretty glaring to me without any verbal declarations. The fact that he loves Hannibal as a friend is textual. The romantic side is revealed through visible jealousy (otherwise, what's the point of it? He clearly hates the idea of Bedelia being with Hannibal instead of him), lingering looks, anguished glances, flirtations, and so on. There is sexual fantasy of S2: Will tries to fantasize about Alana as he’s having sex with Margot. However, he sees the image of the Stagman (Hannibal’s reflection) near the fireplace. He actually sees Hannibal’s room and consequently, he sees himself in it (or he sees their rooms united). Will’s eyes widen and then his vision begins to contract, focusing on the Stagman, on how it’s sitting and then standing up in all its dark glory. Will is having an orgasm at this very moment, imagining the Stagman’s face very close. Still through the misty eyes, he tries to focus on Alana again, but his gaze moves up to the Stagman above her, as if he can’t help himself. He and Hannibal reach orgasm first, with Alana and Margot following them.
There are some bits in the text itself, too. Bedelia called Will out on "visiting his old flame". This is romantic. The whole "bride" and "wife" stuff is romantic as well. Will flirts with Hannibal with obvious relish - his "I'm yours" quote and an annoyed expression when Hannibal didn't react happen for no reason other than him feeling like this. "I need you... please" was also shown as flirty, and Will enjoyed it, it came naturally to him. I don't think he would feel comfortable with Hannibal if he wasn't in love with him back. One-sided infatuation is extremely awkward.
Finally, the show promotes the idea of their unity. It's not the show about unreciprocated love and personally, I can't see it ever being a part of the plot, especially after all "we are one" elements. Will's stubborn desire to be normal was holding him back, not his lack of feelings.
I've never seen Will as straight: he only ever has shallow attraction to Alana that conflicts with his pull to Hannibal as shown in a sexual fantasy of S2. His sex with Margot and kiss with Chiyoh are done so emotionlessly, I think it emphasizes that he's going through motions. It's impossible to determine his sexuality with what we've seen, especially since the only deep bond he has is with a man.
About turning down offers from others: I do think Will showed zero interest in Matthew. He was cold and manipulative with him, he showed no willingness to really open up or strike any kind of friendship, and he never even mentioned him again after that episode. Will's entire focus has always been on Hannibal. I don't believe Hannibal is replaceable to him in any way since their obsession is mutual. Will admires him, wants to be loved by him, is jealous whenever Hannibal pays someone else attention, can't let him go no matter what happens and how much time passes.
As an example, when Will comes looking for Hannibal in ‘Primavera’, after his pining and his confessions to Alana and Jack, he’s almost reverent about him.
Will: We were all supposed to leave together. He made a place for us. Why did I lie to him? He gave me a chance to take it all back, and I just kept lying.
Will keeps talking about him over and over again.
Will: This isn’t Hannibal, it’s just where he begins. Beyond this, far and complex, light and dark, is the vast structure of his mind. A thousand rooms, miles of corridors. Everything he remembers, wonderfully and fearfully reconstructed.
Will touches the Valentine Hannibal left for him and watches it come alive under his fingers; he lies in that spot to feel physically closer to him. He says:
Will: A valentine written on a broken man … I do feel closer to Hannibal here. God only knows where I would be without him … He left me his broken heart … He misses me.
He looks on the verge of tears, so Hannibal’s gift touched him. Will is overcome by emotions. At this very moment, his more frightened side suggests that Hannibal is also playing with him.
Will: Hannibal follows several trains of thought at once without distraction from any, and one of the trains is always for his own amusement.
We know it’s not the case, especially here, but Will has trust issues and a low self-esteem. He’s worried that Hannibal’s feelings for him aren’t as strong as he thinks they are, which is why he’s not sure how to react himself. He asks himself, “I still want to go with him?” and replies, “Yes.” He wonders about what life they’d have if they left.
Will: What if no one died? What if we all left together? Like we were supposed to. After he served the lamb. Where would we have gone? … In some other world.
This is obsession, this is a love letter at its finest. Will is as focused on Hannibal as Hannibal is focused on him, and I agree with the part of Bedelia’s words that they cannot live without each other. I think we have enough romantic text, subtext, actions and reactions to understand that Will is in love with Hannibal, even if it is not stated verbally.