|occhi_bella (occhi_bella) wrote in unknown_fandom,|
@ 2007-10-06 19:24:00
|Entry tags:||fan fiction, sleepy hollow (movie)|
Aftermath - Chapter 11
story_arc Set: 15-03
story_arc Theme: Paper (5-03, #2)
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow (movie)
Character: Ichabod Crane
Warning: Non-explicit implications of rape and incest. Spoilers
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow and its characters do not belong to me. I make no money from this.
Link to Chapter 1
Summary: Ichabod departs for New York with Katrina and Young Masbath, but their journey is delayed by unexpected complications. Picks up at the part where the Hessian disappears into the Tree of the Dead for the last time with Lady Van Tassel.
After rising from the bed and dressing, Ichabod went to Stephen’s room and found Van Ripper keeping watch. Dr. Thompson had to leave to tend the wounds that Stephen had inflicted on his face. The boy was now strapped down onto the bed in order to hopefully prevent him from harming anyone, including himself.
Katrina entered the room moments after, a dressing gown hastily thrown over her low-cut nightgown. She held a stick of pink chalk in her hand and she wore a necklace with a familiar translucent green half-moon shaped bauble on it, prominently displayed against her skin.
His eyebrow lifted involuntarily as he gazed at her questioningly, wondering what she was about to do. “Katrina?”
“I’m going to perform a ritual to ask for blessing,” she told him quietly, leaning in and kissing him softly on the cheek. “There is no need to worry.”
He swallowed and nodded. “Not yet, anyway.”
She moved to Stephen’s bed and thanked Van Ripper for staying overnight once again. He stood and bid them both good day then went off to get some sleep.
Ichabod went over and gazed at the boy, who lay on his back with restraints pulled snugly across his body, legs and arms.
“He’s going to be frightened when he wakes up and realizes that we strapped him to the bed,” Katrina murmured sadly. Her face was creased into a worried frown.
“Or, if it is Abigail speaking through him, he’ll be furious and violent.” He sighed, then leaned over and kissed her. “I shall return in a while to keep you company, but now I must speak with Mr. McKinley further. And perhaps the others, if they will agree.”
“Alright, love,” she answered distractedly. Her eyes probed Stephen’s prone form with great concern and Ichabod kissed her forehead tenderly, hoping to comfort her just a little.
McKinley was nowhere to be found when he got downstairs and he wandered over to the window, gazing out dejectedly. Several men were gathered along the bridge that crossed the stream. His eyes narrowed and he watched their activities intently. One man was holding a metal rod, which was immersed in the water. After just a few minutes he withdrew it and Ichabod saw that the rod was quite long, with a grappling hook on the end.
They’re searching the stream for Emily’s body, he realized with a start. Curiosity got the better of him. He turned from the window and dashed upstairs to retrieve his coat and gloves.
James McKinley and two other men whose names he didn’t know looked up as he approached the bridge. One of them elbowed the man next to him, who turned out to be Ian Dockery. The magistrate bristled, fixing Ichabod with a hostile stare, and his tense posture drew the attention of the others, who then turned to see who he was regarding with such disdain. In a matter of moments the entire group was gawking at him.
“Good morning, Constable Crane,” McKinley spoke to him first. “Are you feeling better? We were quite worried about you last night.”
Ichabod stiffened and he felt the heat of embarrassment creeping across his scalp and through his body as he realized that these men, or at least James McKinley, had seen him faint; or heard about it. He straightened to his full height and tugged at his coat to tidy it, composing himself.
“It has been a trying time for all of us and I’m afraid I’ve been terribly sleep-deprived, to the point of exhaustion,” he answered, speaking with as much confidence as he could muster. “I thank you for your concern. How is Dr. Thompson?”
The doctor was conspicuously absent.
“Scratched up and bruised, but otherwise unharmed.”
“What do you want, Constable?” Ian Dockery demanded. “Haven’t you and your family caused enough of a disturbance here?”
“That was never our intention, I assure you. As soon as Stephen is well, we will take our leave. In the meantime, I am trying to get to the bottom of his illness so he can be cured of it.”
The magistrate frowned at him. “And what does that have to do with us? For what reason are you nosing around, questioning the good people of this town?”
“I have only spoken with Mr. McKinley and Dr. Thompson and they have answered my questions without any ill will,” Ichabod replied calmly.
Ian Dockery had no answer and for the time being he backed down, satisfied to merely glower at him and stew in silence. Ichabod’s gaze shifted to the large, muscular man who held the grappling hook.
“We agreed that it would be worthwhile to search the stream and the river. Perhaps you’re correct in assuming that Emily fell into the water and drowned.” McKinley answered his question before he could ask it. “Dr. Thompson told us that you had discussed it. No one ever discovered what happened to her and it would bring peace to everyone if we could.”
“Yes. Dr. Thompson felt that the body…would have been carried to the river a long time ago.”
“Searching the river will be a large task. Before we undertake such a huge effort we need to make sure that she isn’t here,” another man explained. “There are rocks at the bottom of the water here. Her body might have gotten caught beneath one.”
The man with the grappling hook was now fishing on the other side of the bridge and Ichabod turned away from them. He needed to think and review his notes. Crowds made him uncomfortable, and his concentration would be affected by the stares that were directed at him. He decided to return to the tavern and review his notes.
Ichabod stared at the list of names written in his ledger, given to him by Mr. McKinley, as well as the notes that he’d written beside them. Unfortunately the chances of Ian Dockery agreeing to speak with him were slim to nonexistent, yet he suspected that it was the old magistrate who had the most to reveal.
His eye combed the other names. Kerrigan, the blacksmith. Thomas Cleary, the apothecary and notary could very well be in the magistrate’s confidence, but in that case he wouldn’t say much other than what was common knowledge; that Abigail had bought arsenic from him shortly before her death. Mary Greeley, the midwife.
“Mary Greeley,” he murmured, wondering if perhaps she would be more candid. He would have to consult Mr. McKinley before venturing out to her house. It would not be proper to arrive there unannounced and begin questioning her.
Last on the list was Father Patrick. As a priest he was a confidant to all of his congregants; but only within the confines of the confessional. He would be bound by his vocation to keep what was said in confession secret, rendering him unable to help.
He felt helpless, as if he were spinning wheels, and the more time passed without him arriving at a solution, the sicker Stephen became, the more grave his condition. Ultimately he had to deal with a ghost, and he hated it. Every time that thought crossed his mind a chill ran up his spine prompting him to shudder uncontrollably. The sad, angry spirit of a woman who had suffered things in her life that he hadn’t discovered yet and couldn’t even begin to imagine. And she was taking it out on Stephen.
Pushing the ledger aside he folded his arms on the table and wearily put his head down, resting it on them.
All he could do was keep digging for facts. A ghost was responsible for the murders in Sleepy Hollow, but he was manipulated by a living flesh and blood human being with a motive. The situation here was different. No specific person appeared to be controlling this ghost; but an unresolved, terrible injustice had occurred and the victim was unable to rest. If he could discover this wrong and somehow put it right, perhaps this would change.
His eyes closed and he found himself picturing the bedroom that had belonged to Abigail. The portrait of mother and daughter that hung over the fireplace was vivid in his mind, particularly the sadness in Abigail’s eyes.
He hadn’t heard the front door open and James McKinley’s voice made him start.
“Mr. McKinley.” He raised his head and took up his ledger once more. “I wanted to ask you…about Mrs. Greeley. I should like to question her at some point, but I’m afraid it would be rude of me to arrive at her door unannounced.”
“Well, I don’t know how much she would be able to tell you, sir.”
“I would also like to speak with Magistrate Dockery but I doubt he will acquiesce.”
“In what way was he involved with Abigail?”
“Not at all.”
“But, the way he referred to her…”
“She complained to him about someone. I don’t know the details. She was worried about her daughter, I know that. Magistrate Dockery dismissed her as a hysterical woman making ludicrous accusations. That’s all. After…this happened…much of the town began to wonder if there was truth to her accusations and if he’d made a mistake.”
“Then he is ashamed of his error.”
He shrugged. “Possibly.”
“Dr. Thompson has told me that you found the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Jenner.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“What brought you up to their rooms exactly?”
Mr. McKinley stared at him, dazed. “What?”
“You found the bodies and summoned Dr. Thompson and others. But what made you go into the Jenners’ rooms? Did you hear screams? Were you bringing something to either or both of them? Who did you find first?”
“I found Mrs. Jenner first,” he answered weakly, swallowing nervously. “I heard her scream and ran up to the bedroom to see what had happened.”
“Because, Mr. McKinley, it would mean that in only the few moments that passed between you hearing the scream and reaching her bedroom on the third floor the assassin slaughtered her mercilessly and escaped without you catching even a glimpse of him. Or her.”
He regarded Ichabod in guilty silence.
“And then there is the question of Abigail and Emily. Dr. Thompson said that Abigail came home after he and the others had arrived here, suggesting that she was not at home when the murders occurred. But I don’t believe that.”
McKinley’s shoulders sagged just enough for Ichabod to notice.
Even without receiving confirmation from James McKinley, he knew instinctively that his theory about Abigail was correct. After she killed Mr. and Mrs. Jenner she reached out to McKinley, her ex-lover, friend and confidante. He helped to conceal her by sending her away. Then he went to summon the others, claiming that he had heard screams and went to investigate, discovering that the two had been murdered. Sometime afterward, Abigail pretended to be coming home. The question of Emily’s whereabouts still remained uncertain.
“Mr. McKinley, how often do I have to tell you? You must be truthful with me. Last night you saw the state that Stephen is in.”
“Yes.” His voice was barely above a whisper.
“You had a mind to help me. And I ask you…I beg you…Abigail can no longer be punished if she is guilty, but perhaps her spirit can let go of the living and finally rest. All of the evidence I’ve gathered so far points to her. If you know for certain that she is the murderer, you must tell me.”
“I didn’t see her do it.”
“But you think she did.”
“There was blood on her clothing. But that might have happened when she found them. Perhaps she knelt down…well, you understand what I mean…she may have only found them after they had already been murdered…”
“What about Emily?”
“She ran away that day and was never seen again. Abigail was…not herself after that.”
“Did you see Emily that morning?”
“I see.” Ichabod shut his ledger and tucked it under his arm, beginning to head for the stairs.
“Where are you going?”
“Back to Abigail’s room. I would like to have another look.”
Ichabod frowned as he took in Abigail’s former bedroom once more, hoping that a second glance might yield something helpful that he’d perhaps missed the first times he’d been here.
Keeping his eyes averted from the haunting portrait of mother and daughter for now Ichabod moved toward the window and glanced out. Despite the grey skies, the visibility was quite clear today. There was a view of the building that served as servant’s quarters behind the house. Beyond that was the wide, snow-covered expanse of open ground dotted with houses set apart from each other. These were all farms, now barren and frozen over for the winter. In the distance he could make out the dark edge of a thick forest.
After a few minutes he turned away from the window and walked around the room, studying the details of it once more, absentmindedly running his fingers lightly along the surface of the shelves then rubbing them together to dispel the dirt. His gaze involuntarily shifted to the portrait above the fireplace and he moved toward the hearth. With a soft sigh he sank into one of the chairs before it, leaning on one of the arms and supporting his head against his hand.
The artist, as Mr. McKinley had noted, was indeed gifted, and incredibly perceptive. The portrait was filled with beautiful colors and textures, the painting rendered with deep sensitivity and poignancy. Abigail and Emily appeared real enough to step out of the frame and into the room. Ichabod’s head felt light and his throat constricted as he took in Abigail’s eyes again. The sadness in them was palpable.
He didn’t know how much time passed as he sat staring, captivated, into Abigail’s soulful dark eyes, wondering what had happened to bring her such grief, and to possibly drive her to murder so insanely. Even while seated with her beloved daughter her sorrow remained, wrapped around her like a shroud. Somehow that sorrow was the key; he sensed it viscerally. If he could unlock that mystery, everything else would fall into place.
What is your secret?
Staring at the portrait would not yield the answer, Ichabod knew, and he shook off the trance. Drawing himself up, he turned to leave the room.
A floorboard in the middle of the room creaked underneath his foot when he stepped on it while making his way back to the door. Startled, he sent himself into a coughing fit after a sudden large intake of breath in the dusty room.
It was an old house, Ichabod thought with a frown when his coughing finally ceased. Old houses creaked. And, naturally, floorboards and shutters and other details loosened and frayed and decayed. But something about this floorboard alerted him that all was not as it seemed.
He pressed it with his foot, to see if it would give way or cave in. It didn’t. But when he knelt down and tested the board with his hands he found that he was able to pry it loose with his fingers.
“What did you find, Constable?”
James McKinley had appeared in the doorway and was watching him.
Ichabod lifted the floorboard up and set it aside, then lifted those on either side. “These floorboards can be removed. Something is hidden here.”
A locked wooden box, painted in pine green, was stashed in the small, shallow hole in the floor. He reached down and gingerly lifted it up, then peered into the recesses of the small cache in search of a key. It was tucked away in a corner. Withdrawing it, he hastily unlocked the box.
There was a small sewing kit, a scissors, some small packets of herbs and a ledger inside, this one engraved with the initials ALJ. Abigail Jenner’s ledger.
“Her personal diary,” McKinley stated breathlessly. “That is private.”
“She is dead, Mr. McKinley. I should say it no longer matters.”
McKinley looked stricken and Ichabod instantly regretted the tone of his words.
“Oh,” he began sheepishly. “Forgive me, sir. I didn’t mean to sound callous or flippant, nor do I want to treat her memory with any disrespect. I am only looking for answers and this ledger may hold them. I apologize for my manner.”
His reply was barely audible. “Do what you must, Constable.”
Ichabod entered Stephen’s room, where Katrina still sat by his bedside. She set her book aside and stood up to greet him.
“How is Stephen?” he asked.
“At one point he woke up for a little while.”
“Did he say anything of consequence?”
Her eyes lowered. “No. What will you do now?”
“Read Abigail’s ledger and see if there are any answers to be found. Katrina, what did you and Stephen talk about?” he pressed her.
“We didn’t actually speak. He began to curse at me upon discovering that he was restrained.” She studied her hands morosely. “He was not himself.”
“I…see,” he responded gravely.
“I tried to talk to him…but he wouldn’t answer me. It seems that if I want to reach…whoever it is that has control over him, I will have to contact them in a different manner.”
That was the last thing that Ichabod would be willing to try and he offered no answer to her suggestion, merely turning away and taking the seat by the fireplace.
He opened the leather book and flipped to the first page, dated 5th of December, 1797. Two years ago. Although he’d only found this one ledger in the small cache in the floor perhaps there were filled books somewhere in her room that dated back further. He’d have to take another look at her bedroom, he decided. But for now it would be enough to discover what had been happening in the last year or so of her life.
Resigned to the fact that he was not willing at this time to discuss her idea, Katrina had taken up her own book once more, and the two of them sat together, reading in silence.
“Did you discover anything, my love?”
He had closed the ledger long ago and was gazing into space with a perplexed expression, attempting to make sense of what he’d read. James McKinley and Dr. Thompson had admitted that there was quarreling in the family, yet there was no mention of violence, nothing obvious to point to Abigail’s sudden descent into madness and lashing out so ferociously at her parents. Something wasn’t quite right.
First he’d read the last month of entries, which ended on the 30th of November, 1798. Nearly three months before she died. Then he went back and read the ledger from the beginning to the end.
“I’m not certain,” he murmured distractedly. “There is nothing and yet…I simply cannot say what I’ve discovered.”
“I don’t understand.”
Ichabod turned to look at her.
“This ledger begins a little over two years ago. The 5th of December, 1797. It ends on the 30th of November of last year. Many of the entries are about her daily activities, who she spoke to, that sort of thing. Nothing about her father. Mr. McKinley said that they quarreled constantly. But there was no mention of it, nor was there mention of any violence against her on his part.”
“Why would Mr. McKinley and Dr. Thompson suggest that he was violent then?”
“They didn’t, exactly. Both of them evaded the subject, and even suggested that it might have been…other men that inflicted violence upon her. There is an entry about Magistrate Dockery. Mr. McKinley told me that she complained to the magistrate about something, but he dismissed her accusations. The entry is one of the last ones and it was written the day she went to see him.”
“What did she write?”
“Only that she met with him and that, as she expected, he didn’t credit her words. She wrote nothing specific about it.” He paused. “And there is something else. Around May of 1798, she started to write some disturbing things about her daughter. Emily cried all of the time. She had stopped eating and sleeping, and she refused to tell her mother what was wrong. And…in another one of the last entries, she wrote something very odd. She is the same age that I was. It was written in large, capital letters, as if she were screaming it.”
“She is the same age that I was?” Katrina repeated, attempting to discover meaning in the words by speaking them aloud.
“A few days later she stopped writing.”
“Was there anything of interest written in those few days?”
He shook his head. “Not really, other than the entry about meeting Magistrate Dockery, and that is quite puzzling. She never wrote another word about Emily or what it was that happened to her, to both of them. These last entries are…” he frowned as he struggled for words. “They’re detached reports of her day. Where she and Emily went, what they did. Nothing about her father or stepmother, or about anyone else. And then…she simply ceased to write. The journal is only halfway full, so it isn’t because she ran out of space.”
“Maybe Emily was sick. Is it possible that there was a certain illness within the family that Abigail had, and then Emily?”
“I don’t know. But that sentence does mean something. Unfortunately I shall have to interrogate Mr. McKinley further. I expect that he knows but he’s suddenly being stubborn about revealing anything. Perhaps Mr. Dockery has exercised his influence over him.” His voice shook as he continued. “Whatever it is, I sense that there is something far more horrifying here than an illness passed along from one generation to the next.”