The tall rapier like man walked into the room pleasantly surprised and gratified to see it full of people dressed like he was, in a university gown. He took his seat towards the back of the room, his busy eyes taking in all the minute detail, such as the plasterwork over the French doors leading to a small but beautiful patio surrounded with flowerbeds full of colourful common variety garden flowers such as peonies, pansies, tulips and gardenias. Then back into the room to notice the small hairline crack by the fireplace that gave away the tunnel or chamber hidden behind the solid oak panelling.
He took his watch out of his pocket, his long fingers brushing absently against the small coin that also hung on the chain as he checked to see how long it would be before her speech, however just at that moment a small pale man hurried to his side and spoke the five small words that would bring his world crashing down around him.
"Mr Holmes, she's not here."
His ears roared with the sound of his blood rushing through his body, he somehow managed to keep his breathing steady and ordered his reeling mind to function. Where was she, how long had she been missing, was she missing or had she been taken, who would take her and why? Why would they take his Russell away from him? Wait his Russell? His mind lurched to a halt at that thought, when had she become his Russell?
Was it when they had first met and she had assumed that haughty dignified stance after nearly walking into him then suddenly backtracking upon learning who he was? Was it over the days spent in his rooms brewing up foul smelling chemistry experiments? Or the hours spent tramping all over the Sussex downs learning about footprints, soil types and tracking? Or when she had told him forcefully that if he tried to protect "little Mary Russell" and didn't let her use her (exceptional) skills in helping him to find the American senator's missing daughter she would end their friendship at that moment. Was it when she demonstrated just how good she was at undercover roles and thinking on her feet, the case that showed him that she was no longer his student but his equal partner?
It didn't matter, she was his and he had to find her…