She didn't look at him when he arrived, although he was certain that she knew he was there. Instead she reached up to trace the letter 'J' engraved into the plague on the worn stone wall, completely oblivious to the raging storm going on around her.
"I loved him you know," she said conversationally. There was a strange, faraway quality to her voice, one that set all the alarm bells in his head ringing at once. Even Druitt, murderer and madman that he was, couldn't terrify him as completely as Helen Magnus when she was like this.
She continued to trace the gothic lettering, and he knew without needing to look that her eyes were just as distant as her voice.
"He thought it was all about John, that I was just trying to forget."
Her fingers clenched into a fist, and she tucked her arm into her body, curling up into a ball against the rain hammering down.
Helen laughed, and it was a low, bitter sound that sent chills running up his spine.
"Didn't he think I could have found someone else, if I just wanted to fuck? There were plenty…I could have…" her voice trailed off, before coming back stronger, black fury pent up behind it like water in a reservoir, beating against the cracked wall of her control.
"But I didn't. I chose him. I wanted him. What was the point in his brilliant bloody mind if he couldn't see that without me telling him?"
The wall dissolved all at once, and she moved so quickly that he didn't even have time to flinch. The crack as her fist collided with the plaque echoed even through the rain. She turned her face into the falling torrent and screamed at the sky.
"He promised. He said he wouldn't leave. And I believed him, and I loved him and he left. And he never knew. The one thing James bloody Watson couldn't fucking see."
Suddenly all the fight seemed to drain out of her and she slumped to the ground, clutching her hand. Tremors began to run through her body as dry, heaving sobs forced their way out of her mouth.
The sound finally broke through his paralysis. Helen didn't react as he dropped his coat across her shoulders, but her grip around his neck when he gathered her into his arms was so tight that, had he been anyone else, it would have left bruises.
In the morning she would be back to her normal self. No one would comment on the thicker-than-usual layer of makeup covering the shadows under her eyes, or ask about the fresh bandage on her hand. The trail of water leading to her bedroom would be mopped up, life would go on. The thought drew out a bitter laugh of his own as he realised that life, every endless, eternal second of it, was actually the problem.