"Look in my eyes: who do you see there? – someone you know, or just a stranger?"
A/N: I've been wanting to write something for this fandom for a while, but wasn't sure how to approach it… and then this came to me. Let me know what you think!
[What exactly happens in the time I skip over is up to interpretation, but I personally imagine the worst…]
It had seemed like weeks since she'd last seen Henry. Perhaps it was merely a few days. Not that such an absence – without so much as a letter! – was any less concerning to Lisa.
She stood outside his door shaking with anxiety, knowing exactly what awaited her knocking.
"The doctor is out," Poole would say.
Or perhaps, "he's not seeing anyone at the moment," would be more appropriate.
"I'm sorry, Miss Carew," and he'd close the door, leaving her alone in the middle of Harley Street amid the priggish snickers of passersby.
Rumors of her fiancé's odd behavior were getting around; everything from tales of his death to the supposition of sordid affairs were whispered throughout London's elite.
Lisa saw the side glances, couples and friends leaning into one another to discuss her predicament, as well as her "madman of a lover"; but she couldn't hear what they said – she couldn't hear anything for that matter, so lost in her own thoughts.
She knew that the city was bustling with an array of sounds, but didn't register to her ears – not the private conversations, nor the footsteps on the pavement, the carriages riding by, and certainly not the man stopping on the walkway behind her.
That is, not until he barked at her.
"What are you doing here?" the rough voice demanded of her. She had jumped at the sound and stumbled backwards. It was an unfamiliar voice, and she suddenly felt very vulnerable.
She turned to face the stranger, as he proceeded to order her "dammit woman, answer me" in that same threatening tone.
But when Lisa's eyes fixed upon the brute's penetrating stare, she received a second shock: recognizing them as those of her darling fiancé. She was vaguely aware of the man before her (whoever he was) springing to catch her unconscious form before it could meet the pavement.
When she finally awoke, she found herself in a dimly lit room, illuminated at the present by a number of candles flickering around; Lisa noted that there were windows lining one of the walls, but only darkness showed in through them. How long had she been out for?
As her eyes adjusted to her waking state, she identified the room as her fiancé's laboratory; on more than one occasion, Henry had led her into this room when the couple desired a bit more… privacy.
That makes it sound so vulgar she chastised herself, feeling the blood rising to her cheeks. She knew (to an extent) of her betrothed's past liaison, but he had been ever so respectful of her – and her father's – wishes; Henry was always the perfect gentleman.
Still lying in the same position – presumably upon the doctor's work table – she suddenly became aware of a man leaning over her. She tried to call out, but these protests were muffled by a hand covering her mouth.
"Sh, my sweet, there's no need to be frightened," the figure – whom she now recognized as Henry – soothed her, those same brown eyes she had seen outside now showing his concern for her in them.
The doctor helped her off the operating table and into a chair, explaining, "when I couldn't awaken you immediately, I wanted to give you some place to lie down." He rubbed the back of his neck as he let out an awkward chuckle, "but I didn't think the bedroom would be an appropriate option."
Lisa flushed bright red – there seemed to be a theme to this afternoon, or evening by now.
Henry took a seat beside her; he no longer looked quiet as concerned, but rather looked at her in adoration with a hint of something else the woman couldn't decipher.
"I'm sorry, Henry," Lisa began, struggling to recall what had happened earlier.
"I don't know what came over me before. I had thought well," searching for the right words, "you sounded like a completely different person – one who wasn't happy to see me," she explained.
"Never, my love!" Henry announced, clasping her hands in his.
"I could never feel anything but joy when we're together." He kissed her hands, but let them fall abruptly a moment later.
He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Lisa took note of how tired he seemed.
Catching her staring, "I have not been getting very much sleep as of late," Henry said, "so much to do with the experiments and–"
"I understand, my dear. You want to help people like your father. It's very noble of you." Lisa still had an uneasy feeling, like he was brushing of the incident of the afternoon. When she expressed such, he was quick to reply, "It's all in your head."
Was he calling her mad? "I- I mean- it's the heat – it's getting to your head and making you hear and see things that aren't there," he struggled to elaborate. "I blame the ridiculous layers women have to wear."
"Oh, it's not too bad, really," she argued, "the fabrics are quite light and–" Lisa's defense ended abruptly when she became aware of an unfamiliar chill at her shoulders. She glanced down to confirm her suspicion that he bodice and camisole had been removed, exposing the ivory skin of her shoulders, her collarbone, her –
She gasped as she crossed her arms across her chest, an action which seemed to soften Henry's features – is he disappointed in me?
"As I said, you were getting too warm under all these layers – it's not healthy!" the doctor expressed in the most professional tone he could produce.
"I really don't think that was necessary, Henry. I felt fine." Her voice shook as she searched for her clothes.
"Then why did you faint?" It was an innocent enough question, but his tone made it sound like he was challenging her. He was making her question her memory, her sanity.
By now, Henry had moved himself behind her, brushing his fingertips across her shoulders. Then, he leaned over to trail feather-light kisses down her neck.
Her breathing quickened at being touched in such a new way. Her chest rose with the blood returning to her cheeks, a foreign feeling growing inside her – one she didn't exactly dislike.
Sensing the change coming over her, Henry seized the opportunity to shift positions again, now seating himself upon the arm of the chair Lisa sat in, trapping her by reaching one of his arms across her.
With his other hand under her chin, he placed a soft kiss on his fiancée's quivering lips, asking, "is this all right, my love?"
Lisa wasn't quite sure what "this" was, but she felt herself nod in approval.
"Good," he kissed her again, more passionately this time, returning both his hands to where they rested before.
Her chest continued to heave as her breathing grew more and more unsteady, her exposed breasts threatening to spill over her corset.
Henry's hands trailed over them gently, continuing to explore the rest of her body, as his lips moved to follow them; his touch sent an unsettling shiver down her spine; in response to this disquietude, Lisa regained control of her faculties, managing to find the strength to push him off of her.
"You said we- said I didn't have to," she trailed off, embarrassed to be bringing up such an improper conversation as she processed what this new feeling inside her must be, "not until we were wed."
This final exclamation seemed to still the man before her, worry washing over his visage, though she was still wary of his erratic behavior.
"Perhaps he really has lost his mind," she pondered as Henry looked down upon her, his eyes darkening in that same brooding way she noticed earlier, before she'd collapsed.
The panic in her own eyes seemed to trigger something else in him, as he suddenly jumped back, telling her to leave him.
He handed over her clothes and Lisa quickly redressed and obeyed, positively frightened, and eager to leave.
She left Henry in the laboratory, grasping for a mysterious red liquid he had waiting in a flask beside his notebook in the corner. Lisa couldn't quite explain what she had seen that day, but it appeared that Henry was struggling to reach for this elixir, as though a part of him was trying to resist taking it.
She didn't see any servants on her way out of the house – although she did faintly catch a cry of agony coming from the room upstairs, which she had so hastily quitted. Her heart throbbed for her tormented love.
She knew nothing of his experiments, save for the fact that Henry deemed them "too dangerous to discuss" with her; after this incident, she began to comprehend, deciding she would gladly remain in the dark.
She was convinced that, whoever – or whatever – was in the laboratory was not her fiancé.
However, it was the doctor's scream she had heard; and he now lay on the floor, shaking with fatigue, his head spinning as his mind recalled what had occured in the last few hours.
"No, no, no," he was mumbling, a few spasms of pain still running through him.
"Leave Lisa alone," he all but shouted to the empty room. "What did she do to deserve that."
He cried out in protest of the foul way in which his darling now believed he had taken advantage of her, as well as the ways she was unaware of as well. And he damned the creature who tortured her, knowing that thing couldn't presently hear his insults.
But he'd know; when he returned he'd remember the sorry sight of his creator writhing on the floor and cursing his name, smug with the satisfaction of his successful torment of the doctor and his love.