by Lady Norbert
A/N: About bloody time, I can hear you all saying. I've missed you too. I really intended to have this underway before now -- in fact, this first chapter has been sitting on my hard drive since February -- but real life has the most awful way of interfering with my life in fandom.
So, what can you expect in this final installment of Elizabeth Quatermain's diary? Well, there's going to be a lot of chasing around after missing relatives. There's going to be an engagement, but I can't promise that there's going to be a wedding. There will be the introduction of some new characters, and the temporary addition of two extremely famous characters from Victorian literature.
There's also going to be, and I apologize but there is simply no way around it, a lot of time passing between the posting of chapters. It just can't be helped. Between my day job and my other real-world responsibilites, to say nothing of another project which causes me to lose sleep from time to time, and the simple fact that as of right now I'm not 100 certain where this story is headed, it will take a long time to get it all done. Also, I regret to say that I am frequently without the assistance of Teri the Wonder Beta, who is still amazing in all respects but has too many time restrictions of her own. So it will be a slow process.
I hope you'll find it worth sticking with me, though, and that you'll be of the opinion, when all is said and done, that I've done my little Quatermain justice.
As a final note, this story is dedicated with much affection to the twelve people on planet Earth who call me "Mom."
6 June 1900
Rodney and I decided to wait until today to let the others know that things are -- I almost said "back to normal" between us, but this is not exactly the same as it was before Everett interfered in our relationship. I'm not certain if there's a word for what we are to each other now. We're not engaged, of course, but we're certainly not just friends anymore either.
I suppose that, really, he's my beau. That seems terribly strange to me; then again, giving him any sort of title seems odd. He's Rodney, plain and simple. Only that's not quite right either, because now I can say with perfect truth that he's my Rodney.
I'm turning into a rather giddy thing.
In any event, I must note that no one appeared particularly startled by the revelation that we have established this relationship between ourselves. Indeed, Tom appeared almost buoyant, and more than a little smug. The others took it a bit more mildly, though there was something like relief in each of their faces. I suppose they've been anticipating this for some time. I wish I could have been half so confident that things would work out as they have.
8 June 1900
We have decided, after much debate over last night's dinner, to make a return visit to my own dear England. The reasons for this are numerous, and have not all been made plain, but part of the plan seems to be to disembark the Nautilus in London and make our way north to the wilds of Scotland. Along the way we will make many stops; among these will be Stonehenge, which I've often wished to visit. The legends say that the great stones were originally placed in Ireland, but King Arthur's mentor Merlin brought them to England with his magic arts. At any rate, no one knows exactly how the stones came to be in the positions they are.
Our stay in London will be brief compared to last time, for which I'm grateful. On our last visit, I left my old friend Constance and her husband with the mistaken impression that I was married to Tom, so it would strike them as more than a little peculiar if I should encounter them while walking the streets on Rodney's arm. London is of course big enough that I could probably avoid them entirely, but the idea of having to swallow my pride and confess to the ruse is unpleasant, and I would rather not take a chance on having to do so.
I am actually a little puzzled over some of the reasons for our return to England. Mina seems distressed by something, but I have not yet learned what troubles her. Rodney too seems very thoughtful about the prospect of being in London once more. It occurs to me for the first time that he may still be a wanted man for his former crimes there, and now that he is visible once again, it will be easier for the police to mark him. Oh, dear.
11 June 1900
Nemo says we may anticipate arrival in the docks of London tomorrow morning. We shall stay in port for perhaps a week, mostly to give the crewmen time to replenish supplies; once the League and I disembark to begin our travels north, the Nautilus will return to sea and travel around the island to wait for us off the coast of Scotland. Exactly where we will rendezvous with the ship I am not certain, but by the same token, it's not as though I especially need to be concerned with such details. I shall, of course, go where the others do.
Or at least, I shall do so when given the opportunity. Mina finally confessed to the rest of us -- apart from Henry, in whom she had naturally already confided -- her personal reasons for desiring to return to England. She and Henry had, as I mentioned in a previous entry, contemplated the prospect of breaking from the League and establishing a home and a life in the country, away from prying eyes, but in the short term at least they have decided against such a plan. However, Mina has been keeping a secret all this time, at least from myself; whether the others knew, I cannot say.
That Mina was the widow of Jonathan Harker, I knew. What I did not know was that she and her late husband had a child, a boy born on the anniversary of the day when Dracula was defeated. They named him for all of those who had been involved with the fight against the vampire, but familiarly called him Quincey, after their friend who had perished in the struggle.
It was not until some time after her son's birth that Mina began to realise Dracula had not been defeated in time to completely save her from turning. Quincey was a young man, barely sixteen, when his father died, and Mina had by then deduced the truth about herself. Already Quincey was beginning to wonder why his mother seemed not to change with age, and she knew that she could not keep her secret from him for long. She therefore staged her own death a few months later, setting fire to the small guest cottage of a friend whom she was visiting; the building was reduced to utter rubble, and Quincey was left with the belief that his mother's body had been incinerated beyond the possibility of burial.
"That my son has moved on with his life, I do not doubt," she concluded. "And I have no wish to disrupt his life by suddenly returning from the dead. I only wish to try to learn what has become of him, and if I can, to lay my eyes on him once more -- from a distance." There was an expression on her lovely face such as I have never seen there before. "I have missed him so."
I ached for Mina then, though I will not pretend I could perfectly well understand what she must have been feeling. I have, of course, never been a mother, and I daresay one cannot relate to her kind of pain without knowing what it is to have a child of one's own. For her sake, I hope we are able to locate Quincey. After Mina's "death" he was taken into the household of Dr. John Seward, one of the gentlemen for whom he was named, and it seems plausible that he was apprenticed to the same. Dr. Seward was the caretaker of an asylum, not far outside of London, so it would appear that is the place to begin making inquiries about Quincey.
12 June 1900
Ah, to be in London once more. The snow which blanketed the scenery on our last visit is, of course, long gone; it is very nearly the start of summer.
I spent part of the morning preparing for our journey north. As we will have little in the way of a crewman escort -- a mere six attendants -- I am endeavouring to travel lightly. My grandfather's sea chest seems most practical for the trip, because of the amount of packing space it provides and, of course, because of the money concealed in its false bottom. I will not take the entire amount with me; not even I can be that naive. I believe I've packed everything I intend to bring, with the obvious exception of this diary, which I will add to the trunk just before we depart.
Rodney does not seem precisely excited about the prospect of being in London, and if my previous thoughts on the subject are accurate, I cannot honestly blame him. But there seems to be more to the matter than I believed, and I hope that he will confide it to me before much longer.
I am trying, goodness knows I am trying to refrain from filling these diary pages with the sort of silliness that young women in love are supposed to write. To an extent I have found the labour easy enough; I have written so much about Rodney in the past that it hardly seems worth the trouble to describe him further. (Though I confess that I am oft undone by the blue of his eyes -- ah, there I go, doing what I swore I would not!) Then too, in many respects, nothing between us has changed; he still amuses me with his odd observations and quick-witted comments. The thing which troubles me, in perfect truth, is that I find myself wondering whether it is entirely proper for us to be alone together. This never worried me in the past, when we were often alone together. But now that there is a sort of official status to our bond, it seems somewhat against the laws of propriety. I know, I must sound dreadfully absurd, and yet I cannot help wondering.
In any case, I do not think it will matter a great deal before much longer, since I do not anticipate being alone with him very often on the journey through England and Scotland. And I must, in his defence, observe that he is a gentleman on the occasions when we are together unchaperoned; apart from that unexpectedly torrid kiss of a few nights ago, he has conducted himself most discreetly, confining the gestures of his affection chiefly to my hand. It seems very silly, in some ways, that we should be so...I'm uncertain as to the word I wish to use. In some ways we're almost nervous around each other. Before this, or at least before the advent of Everett, ours was a very natural and easy friendship. Now that it is, formally, something beyond friendship, it has become difficult to be so easy and natural as we once were. I suppose it is merely the newness of it all, and once we are accustomed to our altered relationship, all will be well.