Arthur awoke on the third day of his trial feeling as though he hadn't slept at all.
There was good reason for that, of course. His bed now was a plank of wood and whatever rags he could manage to find to pad it (some of the other prisoners, ones he did not know, had talked of bartering amongst themselves for such things, but Arthur had little idea how those sorts of transactions would be conducted, and suspected that the other prisoners might laugh at him if he asked), and despite the fact that it was now indisputably spring, the nights remained cold. As if those were not enough factors to prevent him from getting a good night's sleep, there was also the sound of the wind, for his cell was near the outer wall of the prison, and the wind always seemed loud there.
But none of those were quite why he couldn't sleep. No, he had been thinking of Lucy again.
It was probably rather ridiculous of him to be thinking constantly of his fiancée even a year and a half after her death, even in the midst of a trial that could condemn him easily to death. Surely Jack was not lying awake at night thinking of Lucy. But Arthur couldn't help it, especially there in the prison where there was so little to distract him from the memory of her. In the blank stone walls and tedious, thoughtless work that characterized his time there, it was so easy to let his thoughts stray to ones of her, to reminisce over his (too few, oh, too few!) conversations with her.
And, indeed, he had spent the past two days of the trial watching the Count fearfully, nervously, wondering who this man was who had loved and destroyed Lucy as surely as Arthur had. Before the first day of them, he had spent no significant amount of time in the same room as the Count, having seen him only in brief flashes, during moments that he could only barely recall clearly, they had been so full of sudden activity.
Having now spent many hours in his presence, Arthur wasn't entirely sure what to make of him. He had the nobility, the aristocratic air that Arthur had grown up being taught to respect. But, beneath it, Arthur thought he could see the hints of who he actually was, of his cruelty, his barbarity. But they were so far hidden…he could, if he was honest with himself, understand why all the court seemed to believe his word over that of a rag-tag group, dirty from prison, with shackles on their wrists.
When he was completely honest with himself, he admitted that, if he had been in the place of all the spectators, he would have believed the Count too.
The world seemed different from inside the prison. He couldn't explain why, even to himself, but it was as though he had been blind to a great part of the world before he had been sent there, and now that he had seen it, he would never be able to forget it again.
He thought of the party he had been at just before his arrest, Cecily Weaver and his sister Alice and all the fine, kind, well meaning people there, and nodded to himself. Yes, he would never be able to see the world the way they did again.
That was rather how he felt after all the events with the Count, in fact, when he returned home from Transylvania with Quincey's body and a great weight upon his heart. It had been true – he wasn't able to see the world the way he had before then, not anymore. But this seemed, somehow, an even greater change in perspective. And he didn't think he'd ever be able to describe it.
In the middle of his musings, the door to his cell was opened, and he was ushered out into the throng of other prisoners going to their breakfasts. He went almost without a thought – this, like so many other things, had become practically routine.
On that day, like the day before it, Arthur sat with Mina, Jonathan and Jack. And, again, no one stopped them from doing so. But it seemed to do them little good, as Mina and Jonathan both seemed even more withdrawn that day than they had the previous one. In fact, they seemed hardly to be looking at one another, or at Jack and Arthur.
They hadn't gotten like that when they were all fighting the Count the first time. Especially not Mina, Mina who had been their protecting angel, the beacon who they all rallied around, Mina with her typewriter and her lists and her clever ideas.
Suddenly, Arthur was struck by a terrible thought: if Mina had given up, then none of them would be getting out alive.
As happened every day, guards soon began distributing porridge among the prisoners. Luckily, this time, it was not the guard who always gave Arthur hardly any and whispered taunts about his status as a nobleman as he passed. Arthur thought he would probably need all his strength for the day to come.
However, when they had all received their porridge, Mina pushed her bowl away. "I'm not very hungry today…would anyone else like this?" she asked, her cheerful smile utterly unconvincing.
Jack pushed the bowl back towards Mina. "You should have it," he told her kindly, with a voice that held behind it his authority in such matters as a doctor, "it's your turn to give your testimony today, remember?"
Mina nodded. "Yes, I remember. But I'll be fine without, I promise." She didn't sound very convincing.
No one took the porridge she offered, and the silence between all of them quickly began to become awkward. Attempting to break it Arthur, cleared his throat. "Should we…" He felt rather as if he was saying the sort of thing that Mina or Jack ought to be saying, but neither of them was saying it, so the job fell to him. "Should we discuss our strategies for…for winning the trial?"
Jonathan laughed, sounding more bitter than Arthur had ever heard him. "I think we're past the point where strategies will do us any good."
Jack nodded. "At this point, it seems that the only thing we can do is to tell our stories as honestly as possible and hope that –"
"That the truth prevails," Mina finished for him, smilingly uncertainly.
Jack smiled back, though his smile was more sad than uncertain. "That's what the Professor would have said."
Mina's voice was quiet again. "I know."
At that moment, it was clear that their minds were all turning to kind, eccentric Professor Van Helsing, of his commitment to helping them, of how he would have managed this entire situation differently.
But Abraham Van Helsing was dead, along with Quincey and Lucy and Arthur's father, and there was no one other than each other who they could rely on now.
Soon after that, breakfast was over, and they were led to the oakum-picking room. Arthur, surprising even himself, rather found himself relieved to get to that part of the day, when at least he was spared having to make such awkward conversation with his closest friends. And, indeed, though he sat with Jack and Jonathan as he did every time they had to pick oakum, none of the three of them said a word within the entire stretch of time that they spent working. Indeed, when one of the guards announced that it was time for them to go to the trial, Arthur felt terrible dread in the pit of his stomach. He would rather stay there picking oakum for eternity than endure another day of the trial such as the two that had already elapsed.
It seemed as though, every day, the four of them were arriving at the courtroom later and later – the first day, they had been the first ones there, the second, the Count and his attorney had arrived first, and on this, the third day, many of the seats for the general public were already filled by the time they walked through the doors of the courtroom. It was rather a more unpleasant experience this way.
As they entered, there were scattered whispers from the audience – Arthur couldn't hear the contents of them, but could imagine what they were saying, and felt himself blushing, even though he was perhaps the one of them who had been least accused so far throughout this entire travesty. He couldn't imagine how Jonathan might feel.
For it was an odd and terrible feeling, to be hated that way by those who one hadn't even spoken to. And the realization, which seemed to reassert itself every few minutes, that this same hatred was directed towards Jack and Jonathan and Mina…it made him long suddenly to protect all of them, to be uncharacteristically brave and hurt any who said cruel things about them.
Of course, he'd never do that sort of thing. Arthur wasn't capable of heroics, and he didn't harbor any delusions about himself.
The four of them settled down in their seats, placing their shackled hands on the table as they had grown accustomed to doing. As Arthur's eyes absentmindedly scanned the crowd, he saw Alice's face among all the unfamiliar ones. He looked away quickly, before she could make eye contact with him. He didn't want to explain anything to her that day, even if only with his gaze.
The preliminaries were dealt with, and Mina was instructed to begin her account. Arthur watched carefully as she stood, her face carefully school to indifference.
"On the night of October second, 1893, I was staying with my husband, Jonathan Harker, at the asylum owned by our dear friend John Seward – not as patients, but merely as guests. I had been having difficulty sleeping for several nights before that one, and thus took a sleeping draught before going to bed that night.
However, it wore off rather more quickly than expected, I assume, for I awoke what I believe was a few hours later, to find the room that Jonathan and I shared utterly filled with…" her voice wavered for the first time, "with a sort of odd, cold mist. This seemed to me to be…quite out of the ordinary, and I tried to wake Jonathan to tell him, but –" her voice broke – "but I could not. And then the mist about me cleared, and, in its, place, a man stood beside my bed – the man who today brings this case to court."
That calm statement seemed to take the remainder of her self control, for, at that point, something within her seemed to Arthur to collapse, and her sentences afterwards were rambling and badly structured, her voice panicked and desperate.
"I knew who he was, I knew that he was the man who had done all those horrible things to Jonathan in Transylvania, who had killed Lucy –" Lucy had not yet been mentioned in any of their testimonies so far, but, it seemed, Mina had forgotten that fact, "and I should have screamed upon seeing him, I should have run from the room, done something, but I was so terrified that I couldn't, and perhaps that was weak of me, but I simply could not do anything else, and then he spoke, he pointed at Jonathan and said…he commanded to be quiet, he said… 'if you make a sound I shall take him and dash his brains out before your eyes', and of course I couldn't do anything then, because I knew that he would, that he was perfectly capable of doing something like that to Jonathan without a moment of regret, so I stayed quiet, and he…oh, he put one of his hands on my shoulder and used the other to push my head back, and his hands were oh, so cold, and he said –"
Again her voice broke, and a sob escaped from her as well. Arthur wanted to, needed to do something to help her, but there was nothing he could do, and she just kept speaking, heedless of the tears running freely down her cheeks, though they made her voice hoarse and strained.
"He said, and he smiled as he said it, he smiled, and he said, 'First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as well be quiet, it is not the first time, nor the second that your veins have appeased my thirst,' he said that just as though it was a commonplace ordinary matter, and then he put his lips to my neck and bit me there, and then he drank my blood…" she laughed slightly, desperately, though she did not stop crying as she did so. "He drank for a very long time, or at least I think he did – it's very hard to tell, you see, when someone is drinking your blood, quite how long it's taking, because every second might as well be an hour. But I think it was a very long time, because I was, oh, so weak by the time it was over, and I really didn't feel capable of doing anything, but he did stop eventually – well, obviously he did, or I wouldn't be alive to talk about it, but he did stop, it did end, I suppose. Only then, then he said…"
Her voice trailed off into silence, and she began to sob, choked, half sobs, as though she was desperately trying to contain herself but was terribly, humiliatingly incapable of doing so. The courtroom was completely silent.
"Please continue, Mrs. Harker," Justice Brakenbury said.
Her voice sounded awfully hollow to Arthur, especially when punctuated by her sobs. It reminded him rather of the way she had sounded on the night of the events she was describing, except that then she had been capable of forming actual sentences. "He said to me, 'And so you, like the others, would play your brains against mine. You would help these men to…to hunt and frustrate me in my designs. You know now, and they know in part already…what it is to cross my path. They should have kept their energies for use closer to home. Whilst they played wits against me – against me who commanded nations, and fought for them, hundreds of years before they were born, I was countermining them. And now you, their best beloved one…"
The sobs overpowered her again, briefly, and Arthur saw her lift her hands to try to put them in front of her face, but realize that they were shackled together and stop.
"…'their best beloved one, are now to me flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, kin of my kin; for a while, and shall later on be my companion and helper. You shall be avenged in turn, for not one of them shall minister to your needs. But as yet…"
Suddenly, she sounded terrified, vulnerable, as if it were all happening again or would soon all happen again, as if those events weren't over and done with, as if their lives hadn't moved on to different struggles. She was terrified and vulnerable as she had not even been directly after the events, as she could only have been when first she heard those words spoken.
For a moment, Arthur felt as though he saw her the way only the Count must have seen her. It made him quite uncomfortable.
"…you are to be punished for what you have done. You have aided in thwarting me; now you shall come to my call. When my brain says come to you, you shall cross land or sea to do my bidding. And to that, end this!' And then, then he grabbed my hands and held them tightly, so tightly, with only one of his, and he opened his shirt, and he opened a cut in his chest, using only his nail – I don't know how he did it, I don't, I suppose he must just have inhumanly sharp nails, I've never really thought about it, I'm sorry, but he opened a cut and I saw his blood spurt out and he grabbed my neck – his hands were so cold again – and he…he pressed my mouth to the…I had to drink the…I didn't want to, I tried not to, but he pressed my head down so hard and I felt as though I would suffocate, and the blood was everywhere, and I didn't want to, I didn't, but I couldn't do anything else, and…."
She was completely and fully overcome by sobs then, seeming to completely collapse, her shoulders slumping in, her head falling forward on her chest until she finally just laid it on the table and didn't even try to control herself any longer.
And it was at that moment, when terribly, inexcusably, Simon Whitely, the Count's attorney stood, looking completely and utterly in control of himself. "Justice, may I proceed with my cross examination of the defendant?"
Justice Brakenbury nodded – Arthur felt uncharacteristically violent urges toward the old man – and Mr. Whitely moved away from the table where he sat with the Count and walking towards the center of the room, as though getting ready for a climactic monologue in some Shakespeare play.
"I must admit, Mrs. Harker, that this has been quite a convincing act. But it has not swayed those of us who still have some logic in our heads, I assure you, and such people now surely hold you in the greatest contempt, for it is terrible to attempt to use such tactics to change the opinion of the jury." He smoothed his tie, his movements crisp and quick as he did so. "It is difficult to find a place to begin when discussing this fiction of yours, but I believe I must first act – how do you claim that my client got into your room on this night?"
Mina's voice was hardly above a hoarse whisper. "I don't know. I think…I think he was in the building already, but he could have come through the window, perhaps…I don't know."
"Through the window?" Mr. Whitely's voice was incredulous. "Now, what floor was your room on?"
"I don't know!" Mina cried out desperately, sounding as though all the world around her was bombarding her with attacks of every variety. "I think it was on the second floor, but it doesn't matter because, if you don't believe that Jonathan and I have told the truth about…about him not being human, then you'll never believe the rest of what we say."
Mr. Whitely nodded as though considering this. "Why, then, did you have a man who you knew to be an enemy of your husband's in your bedroom in the middle of the night?"
Arthur could hardly hear the sarcasm in Mina's voice through her tears. "I didn't exactly want him there."
Again, Mr. Whitely nodded. "Presuming for a moment that your far fetched story of demons is real…what exactly would have been the purpose of my client…ah there's no way to put this delicately…drinking your blood, and you drinking his?"
Mina bit her lip so hard that Arthur worried she might draw blood. "To…to change me…" She stopped, and seemed to be again making an effort to compose herself. "I do not wish to talk about that."
Mr. Whitely looked around at his audience triumphantly. "It seems that there was a weak spot in your story after all, Mrs. Harker!" He seemed to be waiting for applause. "I believe that I'm finished with this defendant."
Justice Brakenbury nodded and struck his gavel. "Court is dismissed for the day."
Mina hardly seemed to hear, and neither did Jonathan, who stared straight ahead, his white hair looking even more startling suddenly. Jack leaned over to Arthur and whispered in his ear, "I'm afraid that we don't have much of a chance anymore."
Sadly, Arthur nodded.