It felt like it all started to go wrong after Quincey was born.
Of course, nothing had really ever been the same after what had happened with the Count. She had cried at night, though she hadn't let him see, and it was difficult not to flinch at his touch sometimes, even if he was just kissing her. And he was changed too, and she noticed how he avoided looking in mirrors so he didn't have to see his now grey hair.
So, by the time their son was born they were already quite distant from one another. She hoped that their child might bring them closer together again, especially as Jonathan had always wanted children, but things didn't quite turn out that way.
The birth was hard, and though she survived it, the child – who they had decided to name Quincey in honor of Mr. Morris – was born very weak. And even as the Doctor handed Mina the child and Jonathan held her gently, looking down proudly on his son, the doctor told them softly that Quincey might not live.
At this news, Mina cried out and held the child closer to her, while Jonathan looked very grave and stepped aside to talk to the Doctor separately. As Jonathan and the Doctor talked together, Mina whispered to her sleeping son. "Please, don't leave me. I need you." There was no response of any sort.
Mina and Jonathan tried their best to take care of Quincey, but despite all their efforts, he died after three months. Mina cried for days and Jonathan barely talked to anyone for longer than that. They didn't tell anyone, for who could they tell? Their parents were all long dead, and they hadn't told John or Arthur when the child was born, for the threat of his death was too close for them to celebrate yet. So they had a small funeral, and didn't invite anyone else.
After Quincey's death, they became even more distant from one another. With very little discussion of the matter, Mina went back to work at the school where she used to teach, which accepted her back with little question, as she had always been well known there as a good teacher. Jonathan began to stay out later than he ever had, mentioning having made a friend of a young man who he had sold a large house to. Someone named Robert, Mina thought, though she honestly had not paid a great deal of attention.
For they barely talked now, and when they did they seemed always to get in some little argument or other. Jonathan hated the dark after everything that happened, and so they always kept a candle burning at night. But Mina was unable to sleep without total darkness, though the reasons for that she herself didn't quite understand. But most of the time, whenever such little details came up, they would both try to end the small disputes as quickly as they could, as though deathly afraid of arguing.
And that just led to more of the silence, and the avoiding one another as Mina paid attention to her work in the school at Jonathan stayed out even later at night.
Then, one day, she woke up and he was gone all together.
Most of his clothing was gone, as were many of his books and his journals. The only remnant of his presence was a note he had left her on the table next to the bed and the small pile of money next to it. With shaking fingers she picked up the note and read it.
Dear Mina –
I'm sorry that I have to do this, but I think this way is better for both of us. You know that neither of us can live this way anymore, and it was time for one of us to do something about it. I'm staying with Robert outside of London. Don't try to find me. I left you half my savings, it's not too much, but you'll survive.
As Mina finished reading the note the full import of it hit her. Jonathan was gone, for good. He was never coming back. And she was left alone.
She cried for several hours and didn't leave her room for most of the day, but the lack of anything to do made everything just feel worse; Lucy's death, Quincey Morris' death and all the horrors of that past time coming back to mingle with the more recent pain of her child's death and the completely new one of Jonathan's leaving. And so she tried to occupy herself with everything.
One of the first things she did was leaving the modest house she had shared with Jonathan and renting a small apartment near where she had stayed before she married Jonathan. She took on another job in the evenings typing out authors' works for them on typewriter, partly because she needed the extra money and partly because having more to do made Jonathan's absence feel less conspicuous. It was a lot to do, and she often had to stay up late at night doing the work that was necessary for the next day at the school, and her eyes would often hurt from having to work so by the light of a single candle, but it all occupied her mind just a little bit more, and that was enough.
She still cried at night, almost every night. And there were some times when the sheer feeling of loneliness would almost completely overwhelm her and she knew again what true despair was.
But, for the most part, she managed.
Until, one night, when she was bent over work for the school and her single candle was beginning to burn down, she heard footsteps behind her.
Fear overwhelmed her almost instantly and she began to shiver uncontrollably as she turned around and saw a frighteningly familiar face.
She screamed, as she hadn't since that awful night. Oh, God, no, this wasn't possible, it wasn't, he was dead…
But before that terrified scream was ended, he put his hand over her mouth and pulled her to her feet with the other arm. She noticed with fear that his eyes were red, just as they had been when he drank her blood and, oh, God, forced her to drink his. "There's no use in that, my dear. No one's coming." He whispered in her ear as she looked at him, eyes wide. Soon he seemed satisfied that she wouldn't scream again and took his hand off her mouth. She was almost unable to speak in her terror, but managed to say something, though it was not very coherent. "You…we killed you…"
His eyes seemed to blaze an even more vivid red, and he grabbed her shoulders and pushed her roughly against the wall of the room as she cringed. "Not quite," he said, his voice low but filled with anger, "you and the rest of those condemnable idiots tried to kill me. Even you, who I had marked as my own!" He bared his fangs and she winced, wanting to back away but for the fact that her back was against a wall.
"Please…" she whispered, not sure what she was begging him to do, only that she could manage that one word, and that it might save her life.
But his only response was to hit her, hard, across the face. She'd never been hit like that before, and it's one of the last things she expected, even from him. She winced and closed her eyes, and then looked back at him and saw only anger in his features. "You are mine, Mina," he whispered, "and you shall be punished for all that you have done to thwart me. You aided in the death of my other Fledglings, and you attempted to destroy my control over you by killing me. And now, when you have been left alone, abandoned by even your precious Jonathan," he seemed to spit out the name with contempt, "I return to most generously save you from a life of loneliness and solitude. But I shall not do so without first punishing you for all your crimes."
Still pinning her against the wall, he kissed her, and she wanted to do something, to break away, to scream, to sob, but she was completely helpless. When he finally pulled away, she could not help but cry, wanting desperately to get his taste out of her mouth. But, his voice cold, he told her "There is no need for such hysterics, Mina." Something in his tone made her obey, mostly because of the terror that came close to consuming her.
He then ran a cold hand over her neck and she shuddered. He smiled. "I haven't taken your blood for quite a long time, my dear, and I have not fed yet this night. Before I leave you for tonight, I think I should remind you of the power I hold over you."
She began to shiver uncontrollably and panic even more than she already had as he pulled her head back to bare her neck. Desperate, she fought wildly to free herself but she could do nothing as he lowered his head to her neck and sunk his fangs into her skin…
She cried out as he began to bite her, but soon she had lost enough blood that she didn't have the strength to do so anymore.
When she awoke the next day she was lying collapsed on the floor and it felt as though every bone in her body ached. With the thought of the previous night she started to cry, not even bothering to get up. Oh, God, she wished Jonathan was here. No, really she just wished that someone were here, someone she could trust and who could help her and who she could tell what had happened.
But there was. She still had Arthur Holmwood's London address written down somewhere, and though she hadn't contacted him or any of the others since that time several years ago when everything had happened, she still would trust them with her life. She might have thought over this more carefully, but at the moment she was desperate, and she couldn't stay in this apartment any longer, now that the Count knew where it was.
She got up then and went to her dresser to take out the crucifix that she had always kept but had stopped wearing quite a while ago. As she caught sight of herself in the mirror above the dresser, however, she winced. She was quite a sight, with a large bruise on her cheek where he had hit her and the marks on her neck red and obvious. She turned away from her reflection and got out the crucifix, putting it on immediately. The familiar weight of the metal against her neck was comforting and she dressed for the day with a slightly steadier mind, and then went to find the slip of paper on which she had written Arthur's address. There was definitely no question that she was not going to teach class that day, and she would deal with the consequences later. Right then she just needed to get out.
She quickly packed a change of clothes and a few personal items in a bag, as well as her meager savings and put on a hat which she tilted so that bruise on her face was not visible unless she lifted her head. She was already wearing a high collared dress to hide the marks on her neck. And so she went out to find Arthur Holmwood.
Mina took a cab to the address on the piece of paper using some of the money she had brought, and soon arrived at a large townhouse. Without hesitation she went and knocked on the front door.
It was quickly answered by someone who she assumed was a maid, and Mina said, her voice calm and firm despite the hysteria that she still fought to control, "I'm here to see Lord Godalming."
"Who should I say is here to see him?"
Mina hesitated. "Mrs. Har – Miss Murray." It hurt to not be able to call herself by Jonathan's last name anymore, but she would have to get used to it now. The woman nodded. "Wait just in here, please." Mina followed her into a sitting room where she sat, nervously twining her hands together in her lap. The woman left, and Mina sat waiting, trying not to let the events of the night before replay themselves in her head and wishing that she had something to do.
However, it was not long before she heard someone coming down the stairs behind her, and she smiled to see Arthur, looking thoroughly excited to see her.
It had only been a few years since she last saw him, but Arthur looked at least a decade older. Loneliness and grieving had etched lines on his face that had not been there before, and there was a depth of sorrow in his eyes that hadn't been there, even recently after Lucy had died, even though he was smiling then. But she tried to smile as he spoke. "Mina? It's so good to see you."
She lifted her head to and took off the hat she had put on, making the bruise on her cheek completely visible. She closed her eyes so that she didn't have to see his reaction, but she heard him gasp. "Oh, God Mina, what's happened? Surely Jonathan wouldn't…"
It took her a moment to realize what he was implying, and the thought was rather ridiculous to her. She opened her eyes but still didn't look at him, keeping her gaze resolutely focused on her hands in her lap. "No, no, of course not, he would never…" The news of Jonathan's leaving could wait; at the moment it was the more recent news that was important. She steeled herself for the next words. "The Count's back."
She looked up a few seconds after saying that, in time to see Arthur pale considerably and look quite terrified. But he seemed to gather his strength and he sat down next to her, taking her hands in his with some hesitation. But the hesitation was not necessary, not after everything they'd gone through together. "You can tell me what's happened…that is, if you want to. But," and here he hesitated, "why isn't Jonathan with you?"
This was even more difficult than telling him that the Count was alive. She didn't look at him again. "I had a child and…he didn't live very long. After that, things…with Jonathan were just a bit too difficult deal with for both of us, I suppose…he's left."
She couldn't say all that without starting to cry, and she tried to blink away the tears but eventually she couldn't do so anymore, and she put her head in her hands and cried. Arthur hesitated for a moment and then put his arms around her, and they simply remained like that for a little while, because it felt somehow right, even after the years that both of them had spent since they last saw one another, years spent mostly in isolation for both of them. Perhaps they were both just happy to have someone near them after so long, but either way, for an instant there was a sort of contentment for both of them. They didn't need to speak, because that embrace was enough communication for a while.
But eventually they both pulled away from one another, and Mina wiped her eyes. Arthur asked, his voice quiet. "If…if this isn't prying…what did the Count do to you?"
She didn't want to give all the details, so she gave as brief a description as she could. "He…he hit me, as you could see…and he took my blood. He hasn't done anything else, not yet."
He nodded. "Well, at least he hasn't hurt you in any other way. I'll send a telegram to Jack immediately and then he'll come and we'll all discuss this together. And, of course you can stay here with me if you want."
She tried to smile. "Thank you." She then asked, "Should we contact the Professor as well? He might be the only one who can do anything about this."
At her question, though, Arthur seemed greatly saddened. "I thought Jack was going to contact you to tell you…Professor Van Helsing died last year. He caught a bad fever and it proved to be too much for him."
That news made Mina feel even more helpless. If Professor Van Helsing, the only they knew who had any knowledge of how to kill vampires, was dead, then what was their chance to stopping the Count this time, even now that she had Arthur and soon John to help her? But she touched the crucifix around her neck and hoped that it would be enough to protect her, at least for this night.
John Seward was set to arrive late that night, as, due to something to do with the asylum, he couldn't come earlier. Mina nodded at the news and told Arthur she was going to sleep early, as she was very tired, and he politely led her to one of the spare bedrooms. She was relieved to be able to sleep after last night, which had been anything but restful, but as she closed the door she turned to see the Count standing in the room, near the window.
"Don't even think about screaming." He said conversationally, smiling cruelly in a way that bared his fangs and made her shudder. "So you've gone to your friends for help." he continued, "It's not going to help you. This time you are mine."
Despite her fear, she managed to hold up the crucifix she wore and pretend that she was not completely terrified out of her wits. "I'm protected against you now. You can't do anything to me tonight."
Now he was annoyed. "Mina, you know very well at that this moment I could take control of your mind and force you to take off that crucifix. However, things will go much more easily for you if you take it off now."
She shuddered, and her voice was a whisper, but she managed to say, "No."
His voice was dangerous. "Take it off, or I will hurt you in far more ways than you could imagine." His eyes were red again, and she didn't have the will to refuse, not anymore. Lowering her eyes, she slowly and deliberately pulled the crucifix and the chain it hung upon off of her neck, holding it in her hand. He smiled. "Yes, my dear, that is far better."
He then walked forward to where she stood, slowly, and when he reached her, leaned in to kiss her. But as his lips met hers, she, desperately pressed the crucifix against the hand that reached up to touch her bruised cheek.
There was an awful sizzling sound, and when she pulled the crucifix away, a burn in the shape of it was there in the center of his palm. Eyes blazing with anger, he threw her down onto the ground, and she fell, hard, upon the floor. The crucifix fell out of her hand and out of her reach as she fell.
"What did you think you were doing, Mina?" He didn't need an answer and she didn't give him one. Instead, he grabbed her roughly and pulled her to her feet, only to throw her down again, but this time onto the bed. She cringed as he lay down on the bed next to her, and tried to pull away from him but he just pulled her body up against him. She felt almost incapable of breathing as he said, his voice cold. "Before I punish that bit of completely insanity, I believe I will take your blood again, my dear."
The high collar of the dress she was wearing obscured her neck, however, and the Count smiled cruelly as he began to unbutton it, as she lay on the bed, frozen with terror. Finally he pulled the dress off of her completely and it seemed that immediately his body was on top of hers as she began to struggle, and his mouth was against her neck and again he sunk his fangs in there as she cried out, despite all her efforts to stop herself from doing so.
He didn't bite her for much longer after she cried out, and he soon moved somewhat away from her, which was a momentary relief to Mina, who felt that she could breathe again now, but he only said, his tone completely cold. "As the connection I created with you earlier was severed by your aggravating friends, I believe the time has come for me to create another one."
She drew her breath in sharply. Oh, God, please no, not this, not again…But he was already pulling his shirt open, and she saw him again open a vein in his chest. She was too scared to fight as he grabbed both her hands with one of his, and, with the other, forced her head roughly upon his chest.
Oh, God, no, it couldn't be happening again, this couldn't be…Jonathan, please, come back, I need you, and his blood tastes just as it did the last time and oh God and can't breathe and he's stroking my hair, he did so last time and Oh God I can't believe this is happening, he's supposed to be dead, oh God, someone –
At that moment she heard the door pulled open and two sets of footsteps rushing to where she and the Count were. Then the Count abruptly let her stop drinking his blood and she saw that John and Arthur were there, brandishing crucifixes. The Count hardly seemed angered, as though he had expected this. He touched her bruised cheek almost gently and whispered to her, "You are mine, Mina. Do not forget that." Before dissolving into mist and disappearing from the room.
She began to sob as soon as he'd disappeared with the pain of it all. She didn't even look at Arthur or John, ashamed for them to see her like this, half naked, with blood all over her neck and mouth. John spoke, somewhat nervously, sounding still somewhat shocked from everything. "We heard voices and we thought that something must be wrong…oh, by God I'm glad we did…"
But Arthur put his arms around her, as he had done earlier that day, and she lay sobbing in his arms. She remembered that, last time, it had been Jonathan who had so held her afterwards, and then, just because it seemed at the time to be the right things to do, she kissed Arthur.
He kissed her back, but she suddenly realized what was going on and nearly pulled away.
For, if things were just destined to repeat themselves, what was the point?