Memento Mei

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A/N: I apologise in advance for this chapter. I feel a bit like Steven Moffat, writing something like this. It's a long one, it was hard to write and equally hard to edit. It's a chapter that is difficult for me to put out to you lovely, devoted readers. I know many of you were anticipating something much different for this chapter, but I do hope you will still follow along, as I'm so pleased with where things are going.

The remainder of the story has been plotted. The climax is being drafted. Good news: I am almost finished writing this entire novel (can we call it that?). Chapter thirty-one is already complete, as is thirty-two. 

Never fear: I will not be abandoning this fic.

That said, here's chapter thirty.

Enjoy :)

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"Please just go in to see him."

Irene Crowley is staring at the wall, her back to the door. She pulls and twists her fingers angrily. She bites her lip with what seems to be an irrepressible hunger to draw blood. She feels her aunt's hand settle gently on her shoulder, compelling her to turn and follow.

"Don't make me, aunt," Irene replies, cracking her knuckles. She looks out of the open window at the meadow below: a mockery of the chaos in her head.

"He hasn't seen you in nearly twenty years, Irene. You need to see him. Please, dear girl. I'll go with you."

"I'm not a girl, aunt. I'm a woman. Don't touch me. If I want to go, then I will. Until then, just leave me alone."

"He doesn't have long—"

"I said," she stormily replies, turning to meet her aunt's gaze with fire in her icy blue eyes, "if I want to go, then I will. Now get out. I want to be alone."

"Irene—"

"Oh, for goodness sake, just get out! Why the hell did I even come?"

She nearly slams into the window as she bangs her hands down upon the sill. The salty sea air floating through is nauseating, even now. She hears aunt's footsteps retreating out of the room, closing the door behind her. Irene lets out a sigh that flies on the wings of her misery. Her eyes are watery against her will.

Alone in the sitting room, she paces back and forth between the window and the door.

She reads the new message from Kate that's just come in. It puts a lump in her stomach: "You've a session in two and a half hours."

She punches the reply "I know" into the text box, sending what she hopes will be the last message of the day. She has to be back in London in two hours; the client who waits will most likely get less than what she bargained for.

The Woman is desolate today.

A long, low, stomach-turning groan sounds from one of the rooms down the hall. It's taking him now, she thinks to herself. Hearing his voice in that tone makes a shudder fall out of her own mouth. Hearing his voice in that tone makes her remember the events of years gone by.

Mother's dead body.

His unbridled rage.

Her own black eyes and blue arms.

The decade of blackmail and literal hell that was Eliza Munson.

Those lonely years in Yorkshire.

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