the author of all this (our sorrow)

by Branwyn // el jay user equals cesario

For: hossgal (leadensky)

Requested characters used: Mina Murray


There is a grave in the churchyard of the parish where Mina lived as a child and a young woman, the church where her family worship still. Over the grave is a stone, inscribed with Mina's name-Jonathan's name, really, but it was what her family expected-and two dates. It has stood for several years now, one of the last favors Jonathan did for her after the divorce, and he would treat it as a favor, though it suited his purposes as well as hers for Mina to die in name and disappear in body, leaving a casket laden with sand bags for her family to mourn.

Her sense of humor was not, at the time, yet grown so inappropriately vile for her to succumb to the temptation of attending her own funeral. She regrets this occasionally, but that is not what brings her here today.

Mina lingers on the steps outside the door of the small stone church. She is veiled head to toe, like a woman from some heathen outpost on the edges of the Empire, and the church itself seems to be deserted, but she remains hesitant. Not for fear of being seen and recognized, or indeed for fear of any other thing that she can name and banish from her ordinarily tidy mind, but for the fear in her veins, older than her own memory, that nothing but death-true death-will banish. Unfortunately, Mina suspects that she is, for all intents and purposes, immortal, though it this a hypothesis best left untested. Years have passed since the Count's destruction, but she has not yet come to the end of the changes his blood has worked in her.

It is questions such as these, and fears, that bring her here to *this* church, when any church would do, and so Mina draws a deep, quiet breath and reaches out to grip the handle of the door with a gloved hand, bracing for rebuke.

But it does not come.

She looks down her hand, and then at the door, then shrugs, and pulls it open.

Mina believes she was a happy child, but her memories of life before her marriage are dim. Inhaling the musty air within the chapel, she closes her eyes and waits to be flooded by a parade of shadowy figures from her past, but all she feels is a faint longing, not wistful enough to be called nostalgia. Irritated, she opens her eyes again, and waits. The church bells strike noon over her head and the timbers of the chapel shudder around her, reminding Mina of the miracle hour, and the earthquake that destroyed the temple of Jerusalem.

She breathes again, and advances toward the altar, the sound of her footfall echoing hollowly against the stone walls. And now the memories do come; kneeling to receive the blessing of the church on her marriage, kneeling beside her mother in a cloud of rustling silk, the dry, papery wafer against her tongue, the flash of searing pain as Van Helsing pressed the wafer to her brow. Unclean, she had sobbed, bound on all sides by the hopelessness of a damnation that mocked all her free will and piety and devotion.

Such hysteria is quite beyond her energies now, but she had been very young then, and long after the Count had been dispatched and the scar on her forehead had faded, there remained the scars on her neck and the cold memory of having been forsaken by God's mercy in her greatest hour of need. And as her marriage to Jonathan had so aptly illustrated, some betrayals were too profound for forgiveness; Mina is no atheist, but there is little comfort to be derived from believing in a God she has no use for.

All of this throws her present position into a somewhat ridiculous light, but she silences the mocking voice inside her head by reminding it that she has not come here for herself. Mina has known betrayal, but she has also known faithfulness, and she is not above humbling herself in order to pay the debt that she owes. Though payment is impossible.

Ignoring the tremors in her hands, she reaches toward the altar and lights a candle for the soul of Edward Hyde.

"Mother of God," she begins, and then stops, because in this context the words of the prayer are so inappropriate as to border on the farcical.

Had Hyde even possessed a soul of his own? Or was he, theologically speaking, merely a crime held to the account of Henry Jekyll? If so, then logically his great deeds of valor were also laid at Jekyll's feet, which was surely more credit than Jekyll deserved. Hyde had not died for his sins, not precisely, but he had surely atoned for them; and though Mina does not doubt that his redemption was large enough to encompass all of Jekyll's petty lusts, she feels that it should remain entirely Hyde's own.

Mina believes very strongly that every man has an inalienable right to his own damnation, and no one else's. And every woman, for that matter.

"Lord," she begins, trying again. "Receive the soul of Edward Hyde into your care." She closes her eyes tightly, remembering the warmth of his hand at her breast, the alien meat he had torn from inside the metal carapace of the Martian invader. "You deserve each other."

She remains kneeling for a few minutes more, trying to think what else there is to say. Part of her thinks she has already said too much, and the rest of her knows she could never say enough. Finally her legs begin to go numb below the knee, and at this mundane intrusion she begins to feel very silly indeed. She climbs stiffly to her feet and drops a few pence into the box for the candle, wondering for a moment if it would not be a more fitting tribute to Hyde to set the church alight and leave it blazing behind her. It would certainly make Mina feel better.

Instead, she turns for the doors, crossing the chapel under the watchful gaze of the Virgin's statue. Mina approves of the iconography. In a world such as this, all their gods must be made of stone.