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The Case of the Missing Wizard
Chapter 6. This Changes Everything
A lot of talking heads in this one, and I'm still not completely happy with it, but better to send it off into the world and not keep tweaking it for weeks. Some Ron Weasley-bashing.
Sherlock escorted Granger and Thomas into the other room of 221C, with John following – disarmed or not, he wasn’t about to allow either of them behind his back. He was nervous enough about the fact that they were behind Sherlock’s back. What had once been a grungy basement room with a fireplace and nasty wallpaper had been converted into a joint computer room and laboratory. One wall had been covered with corkboard, where Sherlock had pinned up murder scene and autopsy photos, along with a floor plan of Number Four Privet Drive. Extra pins were scattered randomly across the cork.
The extremely graphic murder photos drew the attention, of course. “Oh, what a mess.” Granger reached out to remove one of the pictures from the cork, and then looked over to Sherlock for permission.
“Be my guest.”
She removed the pictures, repinning them in an order which suited her. “Interesting. Dean, what do you think?” she said, passing one of the pictures of Petunia Dursley’s gaping chest injuries to her partner.
“Looks like it. Typical unsophisticated butchery,” Granger sniffed with distaste.
“The knots?” Thomas pulled another picture, this one showing the elaborate bondage knots on Petunia Dursley’s arms, off the corkboard.
“Not his style. Too elegant, too involved. I’m thinking Malfoy.”
“Senior or Junior?”
“Senior, of course. Junior would never have the nerve for something like this. Far too icky. It would require him to go into Muggle territory. He might get something on himself.” She snickered, and Thomas joined in with a chuckle.
“So that’s the who, now the why …”
“I’m sorry, the who?” Sherlock asked with irritation. He wasn’t usually on the wrong side of a conversation like this.
“The killers. These injuries are the signature style of Antonin Dolohov, a long-time member of a terrorist group called the Death Eaters. Slashing spell, affects only living flesh. Originally intended for butchering animals for meat, he modified it so it doesn’t go all the way through the victim’s body, only part way. Causes more pain and distress that way.”
“You’ve seen this before?”
Granger turned to him and unbuttoned the next button on her blouse to just above her bra, then pushed her jacket and the top of her blouse to the side. An ugly, puckered purple scar ran from her shoulder diagonally across her chest, disappearing beneath the bra and blouse. “You might say I’m familiar with it.”
John sucked in his breath. “May I?” She nodded, and he stepped in close enough to examine the wound closely, holding the picture of Petunia Dursley up for comparison. “She probably bled out in just a few seconds. No time for medical aid to save her, even if they’d been right there in the room with a surgical team when it happened. How did you survive this?”
“Fortunately for me, he’d been hit with a Tongue-Tangling Jinx a moment before. Couldn’t speak clearly, so the spell wasn’t as effective as it should have been and didn’t go anywhere near as deep. Otherwise …” she tapped the picture. “It did quite enough damage to be going on with, though. Curse wounds never heal quite properly. I was on potions for weeks, and still have problems breathing from time to time.”
“It didn’t cut through the collarbone?” asked John. “Looks like it should have gone right through.”
“Oh, it did. I had to have it removed and regrown in order to keep the use of my arm. Several ribs, too, one at a time. Not an experience I’d recommend. I had a lot more sympathy for Harry after that.” At John’s puzzled look, she reached out and touched his right arm at the elbow. “When he was twelve, an incompetent teacher accidentally removed all the bones in his lower arm and hand. Radius, ulna, carpals, metacarpals, phalanges,” she said, running her index finger down to the tip of his middle finger. “All had to be regrown overnight, at one time, so the muscles could reattach properly. He said it hurt a bit, but he was fine. After this,” she said, shrugging her shoulder and buttoning up her blouse again, “I have a bit better idea of what ‘hurt a bit’ and ‘fine’ mean for Harry. His pain tolerance must be nothing short of phenomenal.”
“You can just regrow shattered bone overnight?” He was awed, and a bit envious. If something like that had been available in Afghanistan, he might still have a surgical career.
“A good Healer can, yes. I don’t have the training for anything more than simple first aid.” She turned and caught Sherlock looking at his own right hand and wiggling his fingers with a very curious expression on his face, and grinned. “Yeah, that’s roughly the reaction everybody has when I tell that story.” She pinned the picture of Petunia back up on the corkboard and idly began pulling the random pins and sticking them in rows in an empty space.
“Now for the knotwork, that’s a bit more guesswork, but I suspect that’s the work of one Lucius Malfoy, an associate of Dolohov’s. He’s known to favour elaborate bondage and that knotwork looks like his style. Can’t prove it right now, though. We’d have to hunt down one of his sexual partners to verify, and it’s unlikely they’d tell us much. Or find somebody he tied up for non-sexual purposes, but most of those are dead.”
“You couldn’t just compare the knots from old cases?”
“I’ve already heard about the adventure of the knots at the mortuary last night, Dr. Watson. Conjured rope disappears if it’s cut, and even if it’s not cut it’s only temporary – the sample you were so careful to keep will have gone back to the aether by now. Sorry. We have pictures at our office in a few old cases, but the ropes had gone by the time we found the bodies, and all we have are bruise patterns to go by.”
“In my experience,” Sherlock said slowly, “a bondage enthusiast wouldn’t display their handiwork on a casual murder – only one where there was some emotional link. They wouldn’t waste it on the unworthy. Could this Malfoy have had some personal interest in the Dursleys?”
“Oh, I doubt it. They’d have been little better than vermin to him. The Binding Charms used have highly personalized results – they’re identifying markers. Very few other people would have similar styles. For example, my Binding Charm is much more utilitarian, and Dean’s can be mistaken for handcuffs.”
“In any event,” said Thomas, “identifying the murderer is only part of the job – finding and capturing him will be the rest of it. And that’s all going to have to be done on our side.”
“Great. A nine to a zero in five minutes,” Sherlock said disgustedly.
“There was a reason we were taking this case away,” said Granger in an excessively reasonable tone. “You weren’t ever going to be able to solve this the Muggle way.”
“Muggle? That’s the second time you’ve used the term.”
“Non-magical, I mean. Sorry. No offense meant.”
“So what was the motive, then?” asked John, curiously. “If it wasn’t one of the standard ones, I mean. You said this Dolohov is a terrorist?”
She nodded. “The Death Eaters are a Pureblood terrorist group. Purebloods are –“
“Understandable from context. Continue.”
“They’re reactionaries that want to overthrow the social order and change it to a mythical ‘golden age’ of Pureblood supremacy that never actually existed, with them in charge and everybody else ground under their heels. Ideally this would involve the subjugation of the non-magical world as well as the wizarding one, although some are holding out for complete extermination of non-magical people. Yes, I know, they have no idea how many of you there are or what technology can do – their idea of your culture is firmly rooted in the 16th Century. They’re led by one of the most powerful wizards of this century, who calls himself Lord Voldemort, and his followers call him the Dark Lord. Most everybody else is afraid to even say his name, and just call him You-Know-Who.”
“Sounds like every cheesy fantasy novel ever written,” commented John. “And I’ve read quite a few of them. So let me guess, you’ve got a prophesized hero, raised in adversity and obscurity, who’s the only person who can kill this Dark Lord and then claim the throne and the hand of his True Love in marriage … Oh, my God, you do, don’t you?”
“Got it in one, Dr. Watson. Harry Potter, born as the seventh month dies, marked by the Dark Lord as his equal, and so on and so forth. Well, maybe not the throne – the Ministry would strongly object to that, although the odds are good that Harry could eventually become Minister – and definitely not the True Love part, although a lot of women my age and younger seem to think so. And of course because people believe that only Harry can defeat the Dark Lord, nobody else will even try.”
“You don’t honestly believe a fairy tale like—“
“ I don’t. I wouldn’t be doing what I am if I believed it. Divination in general is a very woolly discipline, and I know there are hundreds of ways of interpreting any given prophecy. Harry’s name isn’t even mentioned specifically, for example, so it might relate to someone else. But there is a kernel of truth in most fairy tales, especially in our world. The Ministry believes it, and someone in the Ministry leaked it to the damned press, and they had it on the front page. And quite frankly, people will believe anything if it means somebody else has to do the work for them. This is why the Ministry wants him back; why I think they’ll do anything, even if it’s hiring a Muggle detective, to find him. This is why I want to warn him – because he doesn’t know – he disappeared before the prophecy became public.”
“Twenty years on, he’s still that well-known?”
“It gets worse every year, actually. Books, ‘Where is He Now?’ speculative articles, retrospectives on the day he defeated Voldemort the first time, and so on. He’s a hero in our world. He’s probably the most powerful wizard of our generation, took down the darkest of Dark Lords when he was just a baby, did it again when he was eleven, saved the entire school from a monster when he was twelve, won the TriWizard Tournament at fourteen …”
“Try to imagine a cross between Prince William, Paul McCartney, and Jesus for popularity,” put in Thomas. “It was rock-star level. During the good times, anyway. Bad times, he got the worst press you can imagine. All the girls wanted him and kept flirting at him, but he pretended he didn’t notice.”
“Well, actually,” said Granger, “he really didn’t notice. He was just clueless about girls. Clueless about a lot of social stuff, really. He didn’t notice I was a girl until Fourth Year.”
“Yeah, he told me once that when he did something dumb I should just pretend he was raised by wolves,” said Thomas.
“Mm, knowing what I know about the Dursleys, that was an insult to wolves,” commented Sherlock. “You knew him as well, Mr. Thomas? Were you friends?”
“We shared a dorm room for four years. But we weren’t close. Harry had Hermione and Ron, and didn’t seem to need any more than that. He wasn’t a bad sort, though. Lots of blokes would have thrown their weight around, what with being a hero and a star athlete and all the birds flocking around besides. And he was dangerous to boot, so we didn’t even have the traditional teenage male one-upmanship ritual of beating him up under the Quidditch stands – he was way out of our league. Only the stupid ones like Malfoy kept baiting him, and even they kept it short of throwing hexes most of the time. But he was just so, so nice and so quiet that we couldn’t even resent him for it.” He shrugged. “He was just Harry, you know? But that was before he turned the entire social order upside down by disappearing.”
“How could a teenager do that?” asked John. “He was what, fifteen at the time he vanished?”
“Well, it was obvious he was going to have the pick of the witches; all but the most conservative families were trying to match him with one of their daughters. Famous, rich, powerful, all that. And then, of course, he just up and disappears. Completely vanishes. Things start going to Hell in a handbasket, You-Know-Who comes back and keeps coming back no matter how many times he’s taken down, and the rumours … oh, the rumours! Harry’s in secret training with the Ministry, he’s run away with the gypsies, he’s gone back in time to study with Merlin, he’s raising an army of DaoineSidhe to fight You-Know-Who … and teenage girls being what they are, they’re all convinced that when he does come back – riding on a dragon, with the Sword of Gryffindor in his hand and the Crown of Ravenclaw on his head – he will, of course, marry his Destined Bride. And every one of them is convinced that will be her. It was not a good time to be trying to get a date, let me tell you. And in a lot of ways, it still isn’t.”
“But he didn’t come back, right? So what happened then?”
“Witches are nothing if not stubborn. The longer he was gone, the more fantastic the stories got, and the more convinced the girls became that they were going to be his … his soulmate, or some such rubbish. So instead of dating and getting betrothed and getting married, a good third of the witches our age, and three or four years on either side, a lot of them Purebloods, are still holding out for him to come back. Every one of them is convinced that they’re going to be The Woman for Harry Potter. Yeah, some got over it – I don’t think Hermione here was ever into it in the first place…”
“Of course not. I knew him too well. Hard to believe someone’s a destined prince when you’ve spent four years correcting his homework.”
“Most of us guys, of course, weren’t exactly willing to wait around for His Highness to come back from Camelot or wherever he’s been hiding out. A lot of us wound up married to non-magicals – my wife’s a non-magical, we’ve got two magical sons and the first one starts Hogwarts next year. Even some of the Purebloods wound up marrying Halfbloods or Muggleborns or foreign-born witches because the Pureblood British girls are waiting for Prince Charming. So the number of Purebloods born in this generation is lower than it ever has been. And eventually, all those women are going to realize that they can’t hold out forever, and even if Harry does come back, he’s only going to marry one of them, unless the Ministry tries to do something stupid like put him out to stud.”
“Could … could they do that?” asked John in shock.
“I’m sure some of them would like to try, but I don’t think there would be much left of the Ministry after Harry got done with it. Hell, he may already be married for all we know. So they’re going to be looking for husbands, only now they’re going to have to marry non-magicals too, because most of the wizards are already married.”
“And they’re going to, what, have fewer children because they’re older now?” asked John.
“Exactly,” said Granger. “In a normal situation, most of those women would already have children, and maybe more in the future – and we need them to have more, the Wizarding population in Britain has decreased sharply due to two successive Dark Lords and there aren’t enough Muggleborns to make up the difference. Even if Harry shows up with a wife and two point five children next week and they all realize they’re out of luck and they have to find husbands and start having children now , they’re only going to have one or two, and most of those children won’t be Purebloods, either. Net result, in one generation the Purebloods lose their stranglehold on political, social and economic power in the wizarding world. They see it coming. They can’t stop it. But they’ll do anything to try. And that is why the Dursleys died.”
“I don’t think I follow,” said John.
“It’s a call-out. Harry’s only non-magical relatives have been murdered by Death Eaters. He has to respond, either to avenge his blood kin, or at least respond to the threat to his own honour. They’re actually counting on him not answering. If he doesn’t, the press is likely to turn on him again; the current administration is shaky at best, and if it falls, the next Minister is likely to be a Pureblood with ties to the Death Eaters. If that happens, all of us are at risk – divorce is next to unknown, but a widow or widower can remarry – and non-magical, Muggleborn and Halfblood spouses and children would be in danger. At the very least, we’d lose all the social gains we’ve made in the last twenty years, and the economic costs would be ...” She shuddered.
“What if Potter did respond to the call-out?” asked Sherlock.
“That depends on what he actually has been doing in the last twenty years. He would be expected to mount a challenge to Voldemort. If he’s been training, that’s one thing – he might actually have a chance to win, and then it’s hero time again. If he hasn’t – he only had four years of magical education, to stand against a Dark Wizard with seventy years of experience. What do you think would happen, Mr. Holmes?”
“He’d lose. Obviously.” And it was obvious. As confident as Sherlock was in his own abilities, he was well aware that if taken outside those narrow parameters, he was as vulnerable as the next man. Serbia had proved that. All this was very, very far outside of his parameters.
“Mm-hm. Voldemort has to kill him personally in order to claim victory under the prophecy, and he’s frustrated and insane enough to make it spectacularly ugly and painful. The Ministry would fall completely, and Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters would institute their version of ‘magical cleansing’. That means I’m dead, Dean and his wife and sons are dead, and everybody Harry ever knew is dead, regardless of blood status. Then they strike against the Muggle government as well. They won’t win, of course, but our existence would no longer be secret, and things could get very ugly, very fast, world-wide, with irreparable damage done to both our cultures.”
“So what has this Voldemort been doing for the past twenty years? It seems an awfully long time for a megalomaniac to just lie low.”
“Oh, he hasn’t been doing nothing. He’s been defeated – supposedly killed – several times, as a matter of fact. There was when Harry did it when he was a baby, of course, and then two times after he started school. Those times it was at least kept out of the press, though there were rumours. But after Harry disappeared, he came back for real, and nobody could deny it. His followers almost managed to take over the Ministry, but the headmaster of our school took Voldemort down in one-on-one combat at the cost of his own life. I was a witness to that – it was the single most spectacular display of combat magic in centuries.
“The Death Eaters were quiet for a while after that – it was a very bad time politically for them – but they’ve been making inroads again recently. Voldemort has been rumoured to have returned four times in the last ten years. Twice the rumours were right, and twice it was a fake. Each time he’s come back, the cost in lives to put him down has been higher. Two years ago, there was a sudden upturn in terroristic attacks and claims that Voldemort has returned yet again. We can’t verify that, because we lost our best agent on the inside shortly before that. There have been a number of incidents with his signature style, but no survivors to say whether or not it was him. Most of us in the DMLE think it is. The Ministry is refusing to comment officially either way, and the civilians are getting nervous. Everybody wants to find Harry Potter – they think he’s the only one that can put Voldemort down for good.”
“Why are you only now looking for Potter, then?” Sherlock asked.
“I haven’t been idle,” Granger said, bristling. “Remember that I was only fifteen myself and had three years of schooling left to go when Harry went missing. I wasn’t allowed to take part in the search for him at that time. I did what I could, which wasn’t much. When I left school, I joined the Aurors specifically so I could help find him. That was another three years of training. I’ve been working on it ever since, in both worlds. Dolores Umbridge, the person who was responsible for his disappearance, was caught fairly rapidly once someone thought to trace his wand – she’d kept it as a bargaining chip in case he ever showed up again instead of destroying it, so the trace led right to her. She’s in prison now for misuse of authority and a whole bunch of technicalities which boil down to ‘threatening the Boy-Who-Lived’, but even she doesn’t know where he went or where he’s been since. I’m sure he’s not anywhere in the wizarding world, therefore he must be living on the Muggle side. There aren’t any public records for Harry, so he must be going under a different name. I checked police and hospital records for unknowns and found a few likely John Does, but no exact matches, and by the time I was looking, all the fosterage records were sealed. I know what he was like, I could guess what he might want to be when he grew up, and I’ve checked colleges and universities and schools that list their graduates – looking for pictures since I’ve no idea what name he’s using now. I don’t have the computer skills necessary to get into anything really secure. Every time I think I’ve found a lead, it just … disappears like smoke. Slips away. I don’t even know if he’s still in the country. Part of me hopes he is, and part of me hopes he made a clean escape.”
“But your Ministry has you out and about as attractive bait. Or are you working for these Death Eaters, trying to get Potter to respond to the call-out?”
“Hardly, Mr. Holmes. I’m Number Two on their hit list, right after Harry. Muggleborn witch, did better than any of their precious Pureblood flowers in school, more powerful than most, climbing the ranks at the Ministry based on talent instead of family connections – I’m everything they’re most afraid of. The Ministry’s interests and my own coincide at the moment, so I’d say I’m using them rather than them using me.”
“What do you think Mr. Potter might have become?” Sherlock asked, curiously. He wondered what Harry Potter might have been like – the many doctors he had seen as a teenager had told him that while his basic personality traits would have remained despite the trauma he had suffered, the way he expressed them might have changed drastically. “What were his strengths and weaknesses?”
“He would have wanted something active. Something that would help people.Probably something with some risk to it. But not just physical, give him a problem and he wouldn’t rest until he solved it, even if it took months. He was an athlete, might have gone pro, but that wouldn’t have been enough to keep him interested in the long run. He wasn’t academically oriented, though I think he was more intelligent than he thought he was. I think he had been discouraged from doing well in school, and that’s a hard habit to break. He got on well enough with most people, but only got really close to one or two. He had a temper, hated bullies and would go out of his way to help people who were bullied, even if he didn’t particularly like them. He consistently put other people’s needs ahead of his own. I could easily see him joining the police, or being a firefighter or a paramedic – even a detective like you, Mr. Holmes.”
And for just one second, he saw her look clearly at him and saw her see him . But then her eyes seemed to unfocus for a moment as if she was seeing something else.
“A pilot. He loved to fly, more than anything else. A pilot.Possibly the military, although the regimentation … maybe not so much. He wasn’t good with authority figures. But he’d have loved flying a jet, or a helicopter. Hang gliding.Parachuting.Anything that got him into the air. He would never … he would never have stayed bound to the earth.”
“Flying?” Sherlock was surprised. That was about the only thing he’d never even thought about doing. Not outside of dreams, anyway. He had flying dreams occasionally, and falling nightmares more often (no surprise there) but assumed everyone did. “He was barely fifteen. He couldn’t have had a pilot’s license. What did he fly?”
Granger’s mind was miles away, her smile tender and unguarded. “A broom, Mr. Holmes. He flew on a broom. On the back of a hippogryph. I don’t doubt he’d have flown a pegasus, a thestral, a dragon if he could get it to cooperate. Whatever he could get into the air. But he was poetry in the air on a broomstick, did things instinctively that took professionals years of training.”
“I see. … No, I don’t see,” said Sherlock. “I thought it was witches who flew on broomsticks.”
“Nope. Well, we do, but wizards do, too. It’s a standard method of transportation, like driving an automobile. Pretty much all of us are taught how in school, though some are better than others. Harry and I are probably on opposite ends of the scale; heights give me the willies and I’m really not happy on a broom. Harry was pure native talent.”
Sherlock crossed to the desk and opened a drawer, pulling out the papers he’d stuffed there the night before. “We found these in the house in Little Whinging. I presume they’re your friend’s work. What can you tell me about them?”
She sat at the desk and leafed through the pages, ending with the labyrinth. “That … that boy! He did this? Really?”
“I can’t imagine anybody else who would have inscribed it on the back of the bedroom door. He traced the labyrinth with his finger. Regularly. You can see the smudges left by his fingertips.”
“Damn Ron Weasley! Damn him!” She drew in a long, shuddering breath in an attempt to regain her lost composure.
“Hermione, we shouldn’t speak ill of…” Thomas started to say.
“I’ll speak ill of whomever I damn well please! Ron Weasley was a lazy git who expected everything in life to be handed to him on a platter!” she retorted. Then she looked up at Sherlock and John’s confused faces. “In third year, we were allowed to take electives in addition to the core subjects. Ron … Ron took the easiest courses, and Harry went along with him since they were best friends and he didn’t want to do anything that might separate them or show Ron up. I took a somewhat harder course load.”
“Don’t let her fool you,” snorted Thomas. “She took all the courses. For a year at least.”
“Yes, well, a couple of them turned out to be useless so I dropped them. The point is that Ron discouraged him from taking anything challenging or really useful. This … one of the courses I stayed with was Ancient Runes – the magic of letters, symbols, ancient languages …”
“Yeah, we’d pretty much got that.” John was still mildly miffed that they weren’t Tolkien’s Dwarven Runes.
“The thing is that Harry didn’t take it. But he did a lot of experimenting with different kinds of magic during Fourth Year, when he really needed a little bit of everything for the Triwizard Tournament. So I taught him the basics – how to scribe the designs, how to charge them, things like that – and he swiped a basic guide to the Runes from the school library and took it home that summer. But nothing – nothing in that should have prepared him to do this .” She waved the page with the labyrinth on it at them. “ This is N.E.W.T. level work. That he worked out from four practical lessons and a pilfered beginner’s book. The boy was either brilliant or the luckiest maniac in the history of magic – or maybe both. Can you imagine what he could have done if he'd actually taken the class? And then he … no, he couldn’t have …” She shuffled through the papers to find the other rune patterns from the door and window frames. “Yes, yes he did. He hooked no less than eight spells and bindrunes into it … maybe more than that … and … ‘ strength to my friends’, oh the idiot, but …”
She put her finger on the centre of the labyrinth and began to run it outwards. A faint glow started building around her fingertip, increasing with every loop she traced. A feedback noise started to build in John and Sherlock’s earbuds, and by the time she was halfway through they had to remove them hastily to get rid of the ear-piercing squeal. When she finished, the labyrinth seemed to almost spit her finger out the opening, and a brilliant ball of light was clinging to her finger. “ Lumos! ” she shouted, and the light expanded to fill the entire room, making everyone shade their eyes from the brilliance. “ Nox ! ” The light went out. “Sorry, that was the simplest spell I could think of to get rid of the charge. But the sink is still active, which means ….”
Her face turned pale, and she went boneless, practically slithering out of the chair onto the floor. “Oh my God. It means he’s still alive! ” And then she was giggling and crying both at the same time. Thomas crouched down and tried to comfort her, but it was obvious that hugging his working partner was not something he did on a regular basis.
Once she’d got herself calmed down enough so that all she was dealing with was the occasional hiccup, she looked up through teary lashes and remarkably non-smeared makeup at the three men. “You have no idea what he’s done, do you? I mean, I don’t expect you two to, but Dean … He built a personalized magic sink … accessible by others through Wizard space! ”
Her partner still looked clueless.
“How do you manage to be a wizard for twenty-five years and not know how monumental this is? Oh God, we have got to find him. This changes everything! ” The page was crumpled between her desperately clutching hands. Her pupils were totally blown.
Thomas sighed, rising to his feet. He went to the outer office and retrieved his partner’s bag, which she had left on the sofa. Opening the zipper, he stared inside. “Merlin save me from women’s bags,” he muttered. He reached his arm in all the way up to the shoulder, groping for something inside.
Something in John’s mind shut off for a moment. When he came to himself again, he was sitting on the floor as well, with Sherlock attempting to press his head down between his knees. He hadn’t been out long; Thomas’s arm was still reaching into the bag where it could not possibly fit. John started hyperventilating.
Thomas pulled his arm out, holding two small bottles of mauve liquid. He tossed one to Sherlock, who caught it and looked at the hand-written label.
“Safe for Muggles, Hermione made it herself. I think both of them could use it right now.” He broke the wax seal on the vial he still held, pulled the stopper, tilted Hermione’s head back, and poured the potion down her throat.
She swallowed, coughed, and relaxed. “Thanks, I needed that.”
Sherlock shrugged and followed Thomas’s example; John struggled a bit but he simply held the doctor’s lips together until he swallowed.
“You know, Sherlock,” said John in an incredibly reasonable tone once Sherlock released his grip on John’s head, “it’s really not a good idea to give medications to someone without knowing what’s in them. I’m probably going to be very upset with you when whatever that was wears off. But I suppose talking to you about experimenting with unknown drugs is kind of useless, isn’t it?”
“Most likely. Feeling better?”
“Much, ta. We could really have done with some of that stuff at Baskerville.”
“Mm. Or that might have been one of the most memorable drug interactions ever.”
Both men helped their partners up off the floor.
“As designated asker of stupid questions, what was that about?” asked John, pointing at the now hopelessly crumpled sheet in Granger’s hands.
“He did something impossible. Even by our standards, impossible.”
“Not impossible. If it was done, it’s merely improbable,” said Sherlock. “And frankly, who is more likely to discover something new? Someone who believes it can’t be done? Or someone who doesn’t know it’s impossible?” He cocked his head at her. “I suggest you try to unlearn your own ideas on what he did, or you may not be able to reproduce it.”
“May I take this?” she asked, trying to smooth out the wrinkles in the copy she’d mangled.
“Of course. If you’d like, I can print out another copy for you. As many as you’d like.”
She almost squeaked in surprise. “Of course, how silly of me. This can’t be an original. I’m so used to thinking … where is the original? How many generations away is this copy?”
“The original is on the back of a door that I believe the Yard took as evidence,” said Sherlock as he called the image up and sent it to the printer. “You may get it from them, or it might still be at the house in Little Whinging awaiting transfer to the Yard. A copy was made with fingerprint powder” – and he carefully did not mention that that copy was in fact in the evidence box tucked under the desk near her feet – “and that was scanned into the computer and then I printed it out. So three steps from the original.”
“Three steps. One of them electronic. And it still works. My God,” she breathed.
Sherlock handed her the copies. “It’s obvious that I need to know a lot more about your friend, and about your world, in order to deal with this properly. I’ll start work on our side of it immediately, but I hope we can get a proper briefing on your side of it soon. I’ll definitely need pictures of him as a child, if you have them.”
She nodded briskly. “I’ll call a department meeting tomorrow morning – taking advantage of the weekend to stack the attendance in my favour, I should be able to get consultants’ credentials for you and Dr. and Mrs. Watson immediately. If she’s going to be in on this, of course. I assume she’s been listening in.”
“Good. Then I’ll stop by tomorrow with those, and perhaps we could make a trip to a Healer so Dr. Watson can be checked if he still wants to.”
“I want to.”
“Dr. Mallard would be best since he’s already involved, don’t you think? Or does he deal only with pathology?”
“No, he … you know, I’m not even going to ask how you knew about that,” Granger said, cutting Sherlock off before he could spill the series of observations that had led him to that conclusion. “I’ll see if he’s available.”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding!” said John. “Ducky? Who else now? Is Donovan a witch? Greg a sorcerer? Was Moriarty some kind of necromancer, then?” He was aware on some level that he was echoing his ‘is everybody I know a psychopath?’ rant of the year before, but couldn’t be arsed to care at this point – and at least he was simply asking the question instead of yelling at somebody, thanks to the Calming Draught.
“No, no and thank God, no!” said Granger. “I can only imagine the havoc your Moriarty would have created if he’d had magic. One Dark Lord at a time, please!”
“Mm. One might hope that two would take each other out, but the universe is rarely so cooperative.”
“Actually that’s exactly the way it works. First one takes the other down, and then the survivor goes after the Light,” she said. “If there’s nothing else, Mr. Holmes …”
“I think at this point we should be on a first-name basis, since we’re likely to be working together for some time. Please, call me Sherlock.”
John boggled. Sherlock, inviting informality? Sherlock , who’d been calling Greg ‘Lestrade’ for more years than John had known him and refused to remember the DI’s given name? Maybe the ‘attractive bait’ was working after all.
“Hermione, then. And Dean.And, Dr. Watson?”
Be damned if he was going to be the only one standing on formality. “John, of course.”
There were handshakes all around. Dean spoke seriously to John as they shook. “Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I’ve learned my lesson, and it won’t happen again. To anyone.”
“Then it’s worth it. I look forward to getting to know you better.”
A few minutes later, the magic-users had been reunited with their wands and they went off to see if the evidence boxes from the Yard were ready for pick-up yet, while rather pointedly not mentioning taking Sherlock’s boxes or computer files.
After what Sherlock and John considered a safe period of time had passed, they released the security doors on the nursery and Mary came down. John performed his calming and centring ‘making of tea’ ritual and set mugs out for all three of them before clearing his throat and asking the question of the hour: “What the hell do we do now?”
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