The ring slipped on her finger, her normally analytical mind a frenzy of emotional and turmoil. He was proposing! Montague John Druitt was proposing to her, promising her an eternity of happiness and all the trimmings that go with it. The clatter of the horses' hooves and the constant motion of the carriage melted away in the moment, leaving her completely alone with the man beside her, the man who wanted to be her husband.
Slowly she sorted her mind into some kind of formulated order, enough to form a coherent sentence without filling the void with unintelligible gibberish.
"My father…?" She queried hesitatingly, knowing that the custom of the groom to be asking her father for her hand in marriage must be upheld if the family were to retain its honour and tradition.
"Approves and gives his blessing" John replied smoothly, knowing it would be troubling her mind. He respected her family, they had helped him understand his 'condition' greatly, and so much more. There he had found a capable physician who was capable of understanding what physiological changes set him apart from the average person, he had found a friend, and now a lover.
Dr Magnus Senior had watched the relationship between his patient and his daughter flourish and deepen with each passing day, and it delighted him that she had finally found someone she could be open with, someone who she could share her life, and her work with. His disrepute in the medical field had created more than a few difficulties when it came to educating his only child, and her finding friends was somewhat impossible given the current circumstance. Now it seemed, she had finally found herself, and anytime now a fiancée.
The carriage ride to Piccadilly was filled with touching moments, a stolen kiss, a stifled giggle, a touch of the hand. The diamond ring glinted on her finger, and she was hesitant to ask how he found the money to fund it. Such things were hard to come by these days, and with John being… John, he would have found it much harder again. But then again, that was what made him so special.
"Sir.. Ma'am…" The carriage driver called as they rolled to a halt amidst the clatter of steel horseshoes on cobblestones. Druitt assisted the lady from the carriage and set her safely on the pavement before paying the driver and watching him clatter with his poor horses up the narrow street with the incessant crack of the driving whip. Helen shivered a little in the cold night air, a light snow beginning to fall adding an extra chill to the winter freeze. John shrugged his heavy coat off his shoulders, wrapping it around his fiancée to keep her warm.
"Thank you" She said simply, leaning forward to thank him with a kiss. He reciprocated greedily, almost wanting to have her then and there. She sensed his lust and pulled away.
"We can't" Helen said haltingly, placing a hand on his chest to halt any more advances. " Not until after the wedding" She smiled at the word, giving him another kiss to placate him.
"The wedding… can it be.. tomorrow perhaps?" He replied with a grin, taking her hand and leading her towards the darkness of a park.
"Somehow I don't think my family would appreciate that!" Helen smiled, a giggle threatening to break through her somewhat calm exterior. "There is so much to do!"
They walked for a short while, enjoying the excitement of the proposal and allowing it to take shape in their minds. Indeed there was much to do – the church would have to be informed and a clergyman summonsed to perform the ceremony, guests to invite, a celebration to plan afterwards to rejoice in their union.
"You never did give me an answer" Druitt prompted gently as they wandered hand in hand. Helen paused and considered the statement, realizing that he was indeed correct.
"Of course, a thousand yeses" She smiled as she replied, grasping his hand tighter as if to emphasis his statement. In the gloom ahead they saw a woman of the night earning her trade, luring lonely men into a darkened alleyway that was all she could call home. The guttural noises could be heard dimly through the night and it sparked a twinkling in John's eye.
"My dear, please wait here, this kind of thing is beyond appalling" John walked her over to a park bench under a streetlight and waited until she was seated. She obeyed and waited patiently while he stalked down the street, appearing to be doing his 'bit' to clean up the neighbourhood of the poorly. She started to hum a tune, watching the light snow twist and meander on the night air as it fell. She turned and tried to see her fiancée, but was met with nothing other than the swirling white snow. A little nervous, she waited for his return.
Druitt slipped easily into the darkness, falling into long learnt habits of being able to disappear and blend into the shadows. He followed the noises, spying the two wrapped under a dirty blanket still very much involved with their proceedings. The silver dirk was drawn from his boot as he snuck closer, his boots barely making the slightest of sounds on the pavement.
Flattening himself against a corner and peering around he noticed there was no way he could take them unawares without being seen. He had made himself a promise when he had started courting Helen, he would never use his 'ability' again…but something deep inside was driving him. A cold blooded lust for murder. To see the life drain from another persons body, to see the light dim and vanish within their still open eyes. The last thing these two would see, would be his face.
A flash of blue caught the corner of Helen's eye and she turned around, trying to peer through the swirling snow to find its origin. For long seconds her eyes sought clarity within the falling white but found none. Figuring it was just her imagination she swiveled back around, wrapping the coat tighter around herself. Where was he?
He would have to hurry, Helen was waiting and she couldn't know what he was doing. Never could she know. Several minutes later his bloodied dirk was wiped clean and replaced within his boot, his blood lust satiated for the time being. He jogged back to where he had left Helen, his bootsteps loud and deliberate on his return. Helen stood as he approached a question clear in her eyes.
"I merely moved them on my dear, they will trouble this end of town no longer" He replied innocently, the curve on his lips speaking a little more than his words. She dismissed it and he took her hand, walking the few streets to her family's residence, pausing as they stood on the highest step.
"Good night my dear, until tomorrow" He bowed and took her hand, kissing the top with an ever so gentle kiss. The diamond sparkled in the dim light, the facets catching and reflecting whatever illumination they could. " I believe we have an announcement to make"
"Until tomorrow" Helen couldn't help the happiness that invaded her normally clinical voice. " Goodnight my dear John" She stepped through the door after kissing his cheek, leaving him alone in the darkness of the night.
Many years ahead Dr Helen Magnus wished she hadn't been to blind, and had not trusted him so completely that night. For that night, had been the beginning of the end.