Hiding her heritage and past from Sherlock Holmes was far easier than many would have thought. Sherlock, for all of his good points, had several failings. One of which was that he lacked imagination. Sherlock worked inside his frame of understanding. Science, logic and so on. One thing Hermione had learned inside the magical world was that it didn't follow logic or science. Most wizards didn't have an ounce of logic to their name.
If you weren't prepared to accept that things happened because of magic, then you would spend the rest of your life trying, pointlessly, to work it out. So you just accepted it and moved on. It was one of the reasons Muggleborns were introduced at eleven. Just enough of an adult to learn properly, but still enough of a child to accept magic and to not ask "Why?"
Sherlock never considered that all the strangeness she had caused was due to magic. There was always a rational explanation.
John was harder to fool. He wasn't as perceptive as Sherlock, or at least not to details. But he knew people and emotions. Not to say that Sherlock didn't understand emotions. He could explain love on a cellular level and he certainly felt emotions. Anger, Rage, Protectiveness...those he could deal with. But Sherlock didn't understand why a mother would still be upset about a miscarriage fourteen years later. Or why a strong person would stay in an abusive relationship for love.
The first case Hermione ever worked with Sherlock was the one that brought her carefully constructed muggle world crashing down around her ears.
"So, what are we looking at?" Hermione asked as she glowered at the PC on duty, who'd been muttering insults about Sherlock none too quietly.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow and Hermione clarified, a small smile gracing her face.
"Aside from a dead body."
"According to the preliminary report, and this should be taken with scepticism as it was done by Anderson, this man died of heart failure."
Hermione smirked, slightly, surprised at her ability to cope around the dead man. But she'd seen people dead before. This was nothing new. She hadn't known him either. That helped.
"Really? Well that tells us a lot."
Sherlock nodded approvingly.
"The door was blown off its hinges," Lestrade pointed out helpfully, seemingly desperate to contribute to the conversation. "Not kicked in. I got the ballistics guys to have a look at it." He pointed to the door which had been propped in the hallway.
Hermione cocked her head slightly at the scorch mark which bloomed in the centre of the door, black and dusty. It reminded her of something. "They were stumped really. Whatever had the fire power to knock the door of its hinges left it in one piece. But that scorch mark..." Lestrade ran one gloved fingertip down the door, marring the pattern. "It's not gunpowder. We've got no idea what it is."
"That's hardly new," Sherlock muttered, still examining the body.
Lestrade closed his eyes and Hermione imagined he was counting to ten.
"Yes, well...Have you got anything for us?"
Sherlock stood up and moved to the doorway, smirking slightly. He knew exactly how irritating he could be. It was one of his main pleasures in life.
"I've got lots of things. For example, did you know Anderson's wife is divorcing him?"
"Face the wall, Anderson." Lestrade sighed. "Listen, do I have to remove you for irritating my officers, Sherlock? Have you got anything on the body?"
"Male, late fifties, wearing robes, rich, has servants, indoor worker, strange callouses on his hand as though he held a pointer...possibly a lecturer. Doesn't use technology, comes from Bulgaria..." Hermione jumped slightly. "Not married, only in town for a day, large amount of soot on his robes, he obviously lit the fireplace recently, although the embers are cold, he's been here for a while. No blunt force trauma. He didn't fight back and he died instantly. Either he knew his killers or he didn't even have time to fight back. Not poisoned. Not a heart attack." He grinned, unnerving Lestrade somewhat. "Anything else?"
"Do you know why he was killed?"
Ignoring them, Hermione frowned and stepped over the threshold, ignoring Lestrade's squawk of protest about contaminating the crime scene. Then she stepped backwards into the hall and spread her hands, before stepping back into the room. The tattered remains of an intricate warding scheme prickled across her skin and she shuddered, feeling the broken magic slip between her fingers.
Someone had broken in here and they had done it with force. It would take a team of wizards to break through that. It would have taken time. She sighed. His own warding scheme was the thing that kept him trapped. He wouldn't have had time to disapparate when they came down. His Floo had been closed to keep him safe.
"Was there anything found with the body? Trinkets?" she demanded.
Anderson, who'd previously been standing facing the wall so as not to annoy Sherlock, turned round.
"Yeah, there was. How did you know?"
"What? Show me!" Hermione pleaded desperately.
Anderson, smirking triumphantly at Sherlock's irritated expression, crossed to a large duffel bag and pulled out the zip locked plastic bag containing a stick.
"He was holding this. We didn't know if it was important so we bagged it anyway."
"Of course you didn't," Sherlock retorted, launching into a cutting diatribe about Anderson's many faults, distracting both police officers from his assistant. Not, she suspected, by accident.
Hermione however, removed the stick from the bag and touched the tip to the bare skin of her arm. A wand that wasn't her own needed skin contact to work. The small jolt of magic made her swallow and drop it with a clatter. Sometimes she hated being right.
"Oh, I'm stupid. So incredibly stupid." She grabbed Sherlock's hand and began to pull him toward the door. "We need to go," she told him. "Now."
"Wait!" Lestrade called after them. "What about the case?"
"We're following a lead," Hermione shouted, almost sprinting in her desperation to get away. They were down the stairs in no time at all, knocking uniformed officers out of the way as Lestrade shouted after them. Dodging Lestrade's mean second in command was slightly harder, but she'd had a lot of practice not being caught and no one caught Sherlock Holmes if he didn't want them too.
Especially not a harpy like Donovan.
She pulled Sherlock into an alleyway further down the street and paused, breathing away the adrenalin rush, the rough brick wall catching on her hair.
"I seriously doubt that you managed to make a deduction that I missed," Sherlock began, prompting Hermione to roll her eyes.
"Can we stop with competitiveness for just one second? I save your life and this is the thanks I get." She glared at him. "Honestly."
"Who is coming?" he asked.
"Why do you think anyone is coming? Have you considered you may be neurotic?"
"Unlikely. Lestrade poses no danger. I'd have known if he was going to attack before even he did. Anderson is as insignificant as everyone else. This leaves the possibility that someone else is coming to this crime scene. Someone who will either recognise you and want me by association, which is just insulting - I am a much bigger threat than you -"
"Or..." he continued, ignoring her. "That someone was interested in that body and didn't want anyone knowing about it. So who is coming?" He gave her that glare that always made John fold. All it did was irritate Hermione.
"Just shut up," Hermione whispered, peering around the end of the alleyway. "Ah Merlin, looks like I got us out of there just in time."
Sherlock joined her and watched silently as a series of robed figures appeared at the end of the street, seemingly out of nowhere.
"I was right," he muttered, right next to her ear.
"Shut up, Sherlock."
Lestrade, who'd come out to shout at a loitering PC for letting them get away, strode up to them, presumably to demand they leave. One of the robed figures waved something in front of the detective's face and he slumped to the ground. Hermione just managed to latch onto the back of Sherlock's coat as he made to stride into the street. The men in robes were fanning out now, moving from person to person, with similar results, dropping the police officers like flies before they had time to retaliate.
"No, you fool," she hissed. "Lestrade will be fine. I promise you. But we need to leave. Now!"
Grabbing Sherlock's hand, she pulled him to the other end of the alley and out into the street beyond. They were soon speeding away in a taxi and Hermione waited for the inevitable explosion, trying desperately to control her breathing.
"What was that?" Sherlock whispered. "Hypnosis, mind control..." He continued to mutter, almost desperately as he searched for an answer.
Hermione bit her lip and stared out the window. An angry Sherlock she could handle, but scared? Not many things scared Sherlock. Losing John or Mrs Hudson, certainly. Losing his brother definitely. But there were two things that truly scared him. Losing control of his mind and the fear of the unknown. That wasn't to say he didn't like learning things. He did. But this was something he had no basis of reference for. Something that didn't follow his rules.
Now that scared him.
"Magic," she whispered. The muttering continued as though he hadn't heard her. Knowing Sherlock he probably hadn't.
The taxi pulled into Baker Street and Hermione had them out of the car and into the flat in less than thirty seconds, throwing a fist full of notes at the driver. She vanished into her bedroom, leaving a silent Sherlock in the hall. She returned, clutching her handbag, and wandered up the staircase and, dumping the bag on the hat stand, waited until he'd entered the room before she started speaking. She locked the door behind him with wandless spell, making sure his back was turned.
"What was that?" he asked, staring out the window at Baker Street. It didn't faze her that he'd noticed.
"Magic," she repeated, slumping against the door.
Hermione sighed and moved in to the centre of the room.
"Are you sure?" she asked, hoping he'd change his mind.
"There are things that are beyond your knowledge, Sherlock. Things that you've never even dreamed about." She tugged up one sleeve, exposing the leather bracer tied there, as he turned around to watch her. "I am a witch. I perform magic. Not parlour tricks. It's in my blood and is part of who I am. Those men we saw... They specialise in keeping my world under the radar. By now the body has been taken away and that entire police force has had their memory wiped and their records...adjusted."
"Don't be absurd. Magic doesn't exist!" Sherlock paced the flat, glaring at her.
Hermione rubbed her eyes.
"Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it can't hurt you." She sighed.
"Why haven't I heard of this before? My brother knows I assume."
"Mycroft? He's a...liaison, if you will. When I wanted to leave that world behind it was him I went to."
"There are laws in place, keeping this secret. Hence the memory wipes. It was organised, routine. They've done that before."
"The Statute of Secrecy. It was designed to stop Muggles finding out about the magical world. The Obliviation Squad are employed to go through memories and delete the ones that pertain..." She swallowed. "Oh, Merlin," she breathed, staring at him in horror. "Sherlock, before they wiped Lestrade's mind they'll have seen you. They'll be on their way here."
"Imminently. I could stun them and wipe their memories, replace them with a false one. Convince them they wiped you...but they have their memories checked weekly. Someone would notice. They'd strip me of my wand." She swallowed. "Do you trust me?" she asked.
"Trust? What does this have to do with trust?"
"Everything." Hermione took her wand from its holster and held it loosely in her hand. "Sherlock those men are on their way here, to wipe the little you know of my world from your mind. I need to stop that from happening."
"Why not just let them wipe my mind? Surely it would be easier for you?"
"You believe me?" she gasped.
He flicked a glance at her.
"Of course I believe you. I believe that the second most intelligent person in this flat is telling the truth. You could never lie to me. It's in your body language, your word choice. Honestly, Hermione, don't be a moron. Why not let them wipe me?"
Hermione seemed frozen for a second and then she began to talk very fast.
"Because the men on the Obliviation Squad will take away every mention of this world. They won't be fussy as to how they do it nor will they be neat. Now in a normal everyday mind, Sherlock, a brain would just skip over this gap, but to you...Sherlock, your mind is your most prized possession and without it you are nothing. They will ruin it and I will not stand by and let them do that. But I can't think how." She tugged on her hair, eyes wide.
"There are exceptions to this rule, yes?"
"Of course. Parents of muggleborns for example and spouses."
"Then marry me."
"You want to marry me?" she parroted, confused. Then Hermione paused and blinked. And then she smiled slightly.
"Sometimes I forget I'm not talking to Harry or Ron. Yes. That would work. The only way you can know about magic is if you marry into it. Similar to a crime syndicate, I suppose."
"Do you have a ring?"
Hermione shook her head.
"An engagement won't hold up. They'll demand to know why it hasn't been registered. But we can go one better." She held out her left hand. "Left hand, please." Without hesitation he reached out and clasped hands. Knowing Sherlock he'd already thought out every other possibility. She didn't waste time asking if he was sure. She let out a puff of air. "I never thought I'd need to know this. I just learned it for fun. It was kept restricted from students, for obvious reasons. Proves Ronald wrong, anyway. This is a Handfast spell, done when two families wished to join through marriage, before the muggle wedding tradition became popular. It is however still legal and should be registered automatically. It will dissolve in a year and a day, but by that time I'll have another plan in place. Hopefully."
"Stop babbling," Sherlock hissed, tensed and ready, his pale hand tight around hers.
"Of course." She held her wand ready, the tip resting gently on their joined hands. She gave it a small tap and three ribbons spread in a spider web of braiding around their joined hands, winding and holding them fast. "You cannot possess me, for I belong to myself, but by Merlin, I give you that which is mine to give. I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night. And the eyes into which I smile in the morning. I pledge to you the first bite from my meat, And the first drink from my cup. I pledge to you my magic and my soul, that you may hold them in your care. This is my wedding vow to you. This, a marriage of equals."
Sherlock frowned slightly but repeated it back. The ribbons glowed brightly and then unravelled twisting around their fingers and wrapping around their ring fingers. Moments later they were gone, leaving two gold rings in their place. They weren't ostentatious, just simple gold rings etched with a twisted pattern.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief.
"You didn't think that would work," he noted.
"They'll be here any moment," she said quietly, avoiding his gaze. And, as if the universe was waiting for a cue, loud knocking echoed from the front door.
She winced slightly but didn't put her wand away, using it to unlock the glass door.
"Why not use the doorbell?"
"They wouldn't know how." Hermione paused for a moment, opening her mouth as though she wanted to say something. She shut her mouth with a click and muttered, "I'll just get that" looking slightly pink.
She padded down the staircase and breathed deeply before opened the door, holding her wand against her leg.
Whoever the wizards had expected to see, the brains of the Golden Trio wasn't it.
"Miss Granger?" one of them asked cautiously.
"Mrs Holmes, actually. I assume you gentlemen are here about the police investigation."
"Er...yes. May we come in?"
Hermione nodded and turned. They followed her up the narrow staircase.
"Sherlock?" she called, feeling somewhat foolish.
The two members of the Obliviation Squad raised their wands when they saw Sherlock. Sherlock just raised an eyebrow, evidently unimpressed, from where he was sprawled on the sofa, a magazine resting on his knees. He looked considerably more composed than Hermione felt.
"That will not be necessary, gentlemen." Hermione too raised her wand and the shorter of the two winced slightly.
"Ma'am, it's just standard procedure. He's just a muggle."
"Under the Statute of Secrecy..." Hermione said hurriedly over Sherlock's protests that he was just anything. "Subsection B, Clause Thirty Six a muggle may retain their knowledge of the magical world if they have produced a muggleborn child or if he or she has married into magical blood." She narrowed her eyes. "Sherlock here is my husband. I trust that a demonstration of my magic is not necessary."
The burly wizard scowled and lowered his wand. His associate did not.
"I really wouldn't pick a fight with me." Hermione whispered, her hand clenched on her wand. "You know my reputation."
"With all due respect, Mrs Holmes, there are two of us and only one of you..." He shrugged slightly, "The odds don't seem in your favour."
Hermione smiled, mercilessly.
"Do you want to go and explain to the Minister for Magic why you attacked the best friend of the Boy-Who-Lived? Imagine when the media got hold of it. Two ministry employees attacking a decorated war hero." She smirked. "They'd have a field day."
The man's eyes narrowed and he lowered his wand.
"We'll be going then," his partner said, almost dragging the wizard away. "Congratulations on your marriage," he sneered.
Hermione snorted and didn't lower her wand until she heard the twin pops of their disapparations.
"I got it wrong," Sherlock muttered, running his hands through his hair, making the curls more haphazard than usual, magazine falling to the floor. It was John's copy of the latest BMJ, she noticed, somewhat distracted.
"Wrong?" Hermione asked, holstering her wand. She collapsed on the sofa, watching as Sherlock sprang up from besides her and began to pace.
"You weren't a soldier. The truth was all over them. You were a general."
She shrugged and Sherlock rounded on her.
"You are a witch, you went to Hogwarts and you were bullied for being born from a normal family. You fought a war over blood and your best friend was a saviour."
"Is a saviour. Technically, he's just Harry," she corrected. "And how did you know about the blood feuds? And Hogwarts?"
"Please it was printed on your trunk when you arrived. As for them, it was written all over them. The way they looked at you, the way they looked at me. The response to your marriage. It didn't bother you so you were obviously used to it. However your friend Rupert…"
"He was disgusted to find you were living here. He looked confused, despite fighting on your side in your "war"." Sherlock scowled. "He'd never been in a normal environment. Your entire world is closeted away from normality. And with that would be inbreeding. Small genetic pool. Resulting in a population drop."
"Sometimes I wish that I lived with a normal person."
"You're not normal," Sherlock shot back, still pacing. "I need information, points of reference..." he muttered.
Hermione paused for a moment and then laughed. And laughed and laughed. It was partly the relief of having gotten away with it and partly the strange look on Sherlock's face as he watched her with confusion.
"Was that funny? I'll have to remember to tell John...INFORMATION, HERMIONE!" he bellowed.
She wiped a tear from her eye and calmed down, wandlessly summoning her beaded bag from its place on the hat stand.
"Well then, Mr Holmes..." She said, smirking slightly, pulling books from her bag and sitting them next to her. "You married the right witch."
"Thanks for coming, Harry."
Sherlock paused just outside the living room, ears cocked, taking care to remain hidden.
Hermione was breaking routine. She never had anyone around.
"'Mione..." Sherlock rolled his eyes. Hermione hated nicknames. "You've done more for me on less."
There was a pregnant pause, where Sherlock could just make out the creaking of the floorboards. Not heavy enough to be the man. Hermione. She was nervous.
"So you're married?" the man asked, sounding surprised.
Hermione gave a weak laugh.
"For convenience only, Harry. Don't worry."
She sighed slightly.
"He's my flatmate. We're friends, in at least as much as anyone can be friends with Sherlock. He's brilliant, Harry. Truly brilliant. A complete arse, but brilliant nonetheless. They were going to wreck his mind. I just... I couldn't let that happen."
"Do you care about him?"
The man, Harry, groaned.
"Bloody hell, Hermione. What is it with you and charity cases?"
"I do not take in charity cases!" Hermione protested.
"Yes, you do. You've been doing it for as long as I've known you."
"Name five," she challenged.
"Neville, me, house elves, Grawp and...
"At least I don't have a bloody hero complex," she retorted.
Harry laughed. These two were evidently close.
"Touché." Harry's voice dropped its teasing note. "What are you doing with him?"
"I'm teaching him," Hermione whispered and Sherlock only just caught it.
"Bloody hell, Hermione. You are supposed to keep the world safe, not introduce every curious muggle."
"Honestly, Harry. Do you really think I'd do this without giving it the necessary thought? If I didn't give him the information, he'd get himself killed looking for it. I didn't have much choice."
"Just... be careful, okay?"
"I'm not the one who almost got us expelled every year."
"That would be the thing you'd focus on, wouldn't it?"
"Oh hush. Any news on that body?"
Sherlock tensed. Hermione had refused to discuss the case with him, saying it was what had gotten them into this mess in the first place. He hadn't let it go though. He couldn't. Not when the questions were still buzzing around his brain waiting for answers.
"You are in luck, Mrs Holmes." Harry chuckled as Hermione groaned at her new surname. Sherlock personally thought it suited her. Hermione Jean Holmes. It had symmetry. "I was assigned the case. He was a muggleborn wizard from Bulgaria. No family. He was running. There are still a lot of Dark supporters on the continent, Bulgaria especially. What with Grindelwald and everything. He was a particularly vocal member of the Bulgarian Ministry. He spoke for creature rights and a banning of blood discrimination. You would have liked him. He certainly liked you. Used you as a central point to many of his speeches."
"I'm sorry he's dead." And she was serious too.
"Me too. Anyway he made a lot of enemies. They broke into his home in Sofia, where upon he Floo'd to the room in London. Just in time too. They torched the place apparently." Harry sighed. "He'd put up the wards which, as you said, they ripped to pieces. There were a lot of them and they were dedicated."
"Any chance of catching them?" she asked hopefully.
Sherlock sighed. Hermione could be so stupid for such an intelligent person.
"Almost none. Not my department anyway. Case was shipped back to Bulgaria along with the body."
"Well, that'll keep Sherlock out of their way."
There was a rustling as Harry, presumably, pulled something out of his pocket and dropped it on the table.
"This is the latest headline, by the way. I know you don't get Witch Weekly so I thought it'd be best if I brought it along."
"Potter's Golden Girl, slumming it with Muggles. The well-known harlot Hermione Granger, has been revealed to be living in London with an apparent dirty secret. After breaking the hearts of international Quidditch star Victor Krum and war heroes Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger is reported to have married a muggle. While it is gratifying to know that she has settled for someone of a more suitable station, we at Witch Weekly can only express worry for the poor muggle who she has ensnared. It surely won't be long until she moves on to her next victim." Oh, I am going to KILL her!" Hermione hissed. "How bloody dare she? That little beetle."
"I thought you'd like it. As for killing Ms Skeeter that won't be necessary. She was arrested yesterday by the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, for being an unregistered Animagus. Someone gave them an anonymous tip off."
"Oh, Harry, you didn't?" she breathed.
"I did," he said, sounding somewhat proud. Then he coughed. "Hermione, stop hugging me."
Hermione laughed, a sound that Sherlock rarely got to hear.
"So, what did the Quibbler publish?" she asked, almost giddily.
"I believe the head line was "WHY MUGGLE LOVERS WARD OFF NARGLES!""
Hermione choked on her laughter.
"I'll send her a thank you present for that one."
"See that you do. I should warn you. The papers are slaughtering you."
"They've never liked me." Hermione dismissed. "Why should I care?"
"Just be careful okay. I've got to go. Ginny wants me home for dinner. Which reminds me; Molly is furious with you."
"What did I do this time?" she asked, almost resigned.
"You didn't let her plan your wedding. Arthur was going to walk you down the aisle you know. The colour scheme was going to be gold and white, with Flutterby Roses. She had a whole folder ready for you. She didn't even care that you weren't marrying Ron." Hermione gave a weak chuckle, as though this was a bit too much to take. "Apparently she doesn't care about that. She's got so many sons to marry off. She's only got two daughters."
"And now I feel guilty. Thanks, Harry."
"My pleasure. Love you."
There was a crack and Hermione sighed slightly.
"Love you too, Harry."
Sherlock thought about confronting her. She'd been managing his life, something he couldn't abide. But she'd had her reasons. It was almost disturbing how well she knew him. But then again she was nearly as clever as he was.
"I really don't see how this is necessary," she protested weakly, eyes fixed on the needle in his hand.
"Don't worry. I've had plenty of experience with needles."
"Hmmm." Hermione winced as he tightened the tourniquet around her arm. "Well I've had enough experience with people digging things into my arm to know I don't like it."
Sherlock ignored her and flicked her arm, checking the veins. She looked away as he dug the needle in, not wanting to see the red blood filling the test tube.
"What, exactly are you planning to do with my blood anyway?"
Sherlock hadn't slept in days, spending hours perusing magical texts and dismantling spells, trying to work out how they worked. When Hermione had insisted that it was in the blood more than anything else, he pounced on her.
Which was why she was currently tied to a chair, having a blood sample taken by a sociopath.
"When does this...marriage dissolve?"
"You know the answer to that already." He'd marked it on the calendar. "What you're asking me is why?"
"Hardly a difference," he muttered, removing the needle and taping a cotton bud over the small hole.
"These contracts were set up for procreation purposes only. You had a year and a day to produce a child. If no offspring were born in that time then the marriage dissolves and a new contract is struck."
"Seems reasonable." He smiled slightly as he swirled her blood around the vial, letting the light shine through it.
"You look chillingly vampiric, Sherlock."
"I've been telling him that for ages." John called from the kitchen, where he dumped the shopping bags. "He says I've been watching sensationalist films again...Dammit, Sherlock!" he yelled when he finally saw the blood and the used needle. "You had better have sterilised that." He frowned as he pulled the cotton bud away from her arm. "Nice incision, though. Didn't miss the vein."
"He said he'd had practise," Hermione said as Sherlock busied himself with his microscope.
John froze for a moment.
"Well, he would say that," he replied quietly, sticking a plaster down firmly. He shot a look at her and Hermione dropped the subject.
"So, what does he want your blood for?"
"He's trying to work out if there is something wrong with me." Hermione smiled at John. "Could you untie me please? I've got things to do other than entertain this lunatic."
"And he tied you down why?"
"He's got a kinky side," she teased. The tips of Sherlock's ears went very slightly red as John snorted.
"Shut up," he growled. "I can't think when you're being stupid behind me."
"Eloquent," Hermione returned, just loud enough for him to hear.
"Sherlock Holmes, you cannot keep stealing from my morgue. You owe me a liver and a brain...oh, hello."
Hermione smiled benignly at the woman who rocked on her heels in the entrance. People rushing into the flat weren't anything new. Although asking for body parts...
"You must be Molly, the pathologist," she said offering a hand.
Molly, eyes wide, nodded and shook it.
"Er, yes. I am."
"I'm Hermione Grang..."
Hermione gave a long suffering sigh.
"Must you scare off all of my potential friendships?" she hissed, not moving her gaze away from the now pale doctor.
"Did you say...Holmes?"
"Does your hearing need checked?" Sherlock retorted, smiling winningly from the kitchen at Hermione when she flicked a glare at him.
"As in sister?" Molly whispered.
"Really, Molly?" Sherlock scolded. "Don't act more stupid than I know you are."
Molly visibly flinched. Hermione looked from Sherlock to Molly and then back again. She eyed the very heavy looking cooler hanging from Molly's shoulder, presumably for storing the missing body parts.
"May I borrow that?" she asked, pinning a smile to her face.
"Er, all right." Molly handed it over without a second thought. Sherlock had her well trained.
Oh, he was dead.
Hermione closed her hand around the handle and swung it gently as though testing the weight, before she whirled on her heel and began beating her husband about the head with it.
"SHERLOCK BLOODY HOLMES, I DON'T KNOW HOW JOHN PUTS UP WITH YOU...YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER BASTARD!"
"OW!" Sherlock sprang backwards, upending a rack of test tubes. "You're angry? Why are you angry?"
"You're right I'm angry," she seethed. "How could you do that to her? Are you that cruel or just blindingly obtuse?" She handed the cooler back to Molly who was watching with a sort of open mouthed awe. "Dr Hooper, any body parts you need will be found by Sherlock by the time we return or I swear I'll use his to replace them." She smirked. "And if you think I don't know how to do that, Sherlock, your deductions really need some work." Hermione grabbed her coat and beaded bag.
"There is a lovely bakery down the street. I suggest we get some coffee, definitely some cake, I know you're off work until this evening, Sherlock keeps your schedule on the fridge, don't look so worried. We can go and have a nice long chat about how much of a prick Mr Holmes is."
"Because he has been playing on your feelings long enough." Quite determined she dragged Molly off, who stared, somewhat pleadingly at Sherlock, who wasn't looking at anything in particular.
What did you do to Sherlock? He keeps staring at the severed head in the fridge and muttering about losing.
For the emotional manipulation of one Molly Hooper, Hermione ignored Sherlock for nearly three days. She only stopped because John begged her to cheer him up.
The men in expensive suits had taken Sherlock away. Hermione wasn't overly bothered by this. Barely a week went by when he wasn't dragged out of the house for one reason or another. Although that they'd taken him in nothing but a sheet was interesting in itself, she had enjoyed the sight of Sherlock being frog marched out into the street, clutching at the cotton to maintain his dignity. Mrs Hudson had nearly fainted. He'd glowered at her window, knowing she'd been laughing at him. Still it was past lunchtime and he hadn't returned yet. John had, however, texted her. He'd said something about stealing an ash tray from Buckingham Palace. Hermione had ignored it. She had potion that was on the boil and she couldn't just leave it to go gallivanting after Sherlock and John. Hermione frowned as her ring heated up slightly. It was an old enchantment used to notify a spouse of their partner's impending doom.
The curly haired witch sighed and rested her head on her hands, burying her fingers in the curls. Why did she collect trouble in pairs? Harry and Ron...John and Sherlock.
Hermione vanished the contents of her cauldron and aiming a silencing spell at her feet, rapped herself hard on the head with her wand. The feeling of a cold egg, slithering down her back made her shiver, but she pushed herself into the middle of the room, held Sherlock firmly in mind...and disapparated.
What she had expected was an abandoned warehouse, with dripping pipes and a bruised Sherlock tied to a chair. That was the usual, according to John anyway.
Sherlock really needed to learn not to irritate people.
She didn't expect to find herself in a high class sitting room, where Sherlock was holding court over a bunch of gun-wielding madmen and a naked nymphomaniac. Hermione was just assuming about the naked woman. She took exception to nude, irritatingly gorgeous women being around her husband.
Just on principle.
She knew the exact moment he noticed her. For some reason this particular charm had never worked on him. Still he seemed to have things in hand. She flicked him with a repelling charm. Just strong enough to deflect the course of a bullet should one come barrelling towards him. Which, knowing Sherlock, was likely. He blinked at her in thanks.
"The code, Mr Holmes." The American was evidently quite annoyed, but that was normal with people who had spent more than thirty seconds in his presence.
"I've told you...I don't know what it is," Sherlock hissed.
"Now we both know that's not true. On my command shoot, Dr Watson."
His eyes widened in fear. Barely noticeable unless you knew him.
"I told you I don't know what the code is. Let him go."
"I don't know what it is."
Hermione shifted to just behind the man who had John pinned.
Hermione paused for a moment, wand raised. Sherlock turned and began to type in the numbers on the safe. How he knew what they were was beyond her but still, she was grateful.
Something passed between Sherlock and the woman wearing his coat.
"VATICAN CAMEOS!" he yelled and dove to the side, John throwing himself to the ground. There was an explosion and the thug in front of Hermione, collapsed. Sherlock and the woman quickly knocked out the other two.
"You okay?" Sherlock barked at John.
John and Sherlock rushed out, but Hermione stayed where she was. She hadn't missed Sherlock swiping whatever the contents of the safe were. The minute the room was clear the woman rushed to the safe, ignoring the gunshots from outside. Whatever she was missing it was certainly valuable. The colour drained from her already pale skin. Hermione paid barely any attention to Sherlock's posturing, although she followed them up to the bedroom or to John leaving to check the back door.
What did catch her attention was the syringe held deftly in the woman's hand. Hermione ended the disillusionment charm, stepped into her line of sight and snatched it away, seconds before it would have pierced Sherlock's suit.
"I think not," she muttered, crushing the plastic under a foot.
"Drugs, Ms Adler?" Sherlock chuckled. "I'm disappointed in you." He pocketed the phone.
"So that ring isn't fake then?" Adler's eyes darted between them.
Hermione smiled, completely saccharine.
"Take my husband's coat off and leave now."
"Possessive much?" she shrugged and dropped the coat on the floor. "I need my phone."
Hermione smirked, keeping eye contact. Her ego didn't need that kind of hit.
"Actually, Ms Adler, I think you need to run. Now!"
She raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, donning a robe that lay on the bed.
"And why should I do that?"
"Because the police are due any second." Hermione could hear John bounding up the staircase.
"Ask your husband how he knew the combination?" she smirked. "It'll be interesting."
Sherlock left to intercept John, staying unusually quiet.
Adler turned, hips swinging and left through the bathroom window. Hermione disapparated, holding Sherlock's coat between the tips of her fingers. This needed to be washed.
Sherlock pushed open the front door.
Signs of forced entry. Door closed though. They were still inside.
The first door Sherlock checked was Hermione's.
Empty. Evidence of a fight. Blood on corner of bedside table and lamp. She fought back. Out cold and received a severe beating. Not shot or stabbed. Blunt force trauma only. Not enough blood.
He looked around and spotted the vine wood handle poking out from under her bed.
She couldn't use magic. Not wizards.
He left the room.
Carpet tread shows a large item was dragged up the stairs. They're in the living room. Mrs Hudson's cleaning box abandoned halfway up. They surprised her but Hermione was already unconscious. She didn't fight back. Unharmed.
He selected a spray can from the selection and tucked it up his sleeve. He already knew what he'd find. He just didn't know who.
It was the Americans. Sherlock wasn't even surprised. He didn't have Irene Adler's camera phone. Hermione had made sure of that. But they kept trying anyway.
Mrs Hudson was sitting on a chair in the centre of the room, her face blotchy from crying but otherwise unharmed. There was a gun to her head.
Hermione lay crumpled at the American's feet. Unconscious.
Anger swelled and Sherlock paused in the doorway, struggling to contain it. Aside from a slight clenching of his fist, he remained outwardly impassive.
"There you are, Mr Holmes." Mrs Hudson's tears began to fall again and she whimpered as the gun was pressed closer to her skull. "We were starting to get worried. The boys were going to wake up Mrs Holmes here," He toed the unconscious form of Hermione. She didn't respond. "She put up a hell of a fight."
"I can see that. Don't snivel, Mrs Hudson. It'll do nothing to impede the flight of a bullet."
One of the men sported a black eye, all three had scratches and other looked like he'd had his patella broken. Sherlock moved further into the room.
"I believe you have something that we want, Mr Holmes."
"Then why don't you ask for it?" Sherlock moved closed to Mrs Hudson, checking she was indeed unharmed. It also served the purpose of getting him close enough to see if Hermione was still breathing. She was, but only barely.
Broken ribs, black eye, dislocated shoulder, severe bruising, possible concussion and neck trauma.
"We've been asking this one but she doesn't seem to know anything. But you know what I'm asking for don't you, Mr Holmes? Or are we going to have to wake your wife?"
"Hardly necessary. I know what you're after." He tuned out Mrs Hudson's pleading. It wasn't going to help him here.
"First get rid of your boys. One of them needs medical help anyway."
"I dislike to be out numbered. It makes for too much stupid in the room." He drawled, making eye contact with Mrs Hudson. "It'll be okay," he muttered. He hated comforting people. It was what he had John for.
"But...Hermione...?" she sobbed.
"She's not dead."
"Yet." Sherlock clenched his teeth and the American smiled. "Very well. We'll play this your way. You two go down to the car."
"And then get in your car and drive away. Don't try to trick me. You know who I am. It doesn't work."
The men left, one of them limping severely.
"Next you can stop pointing that gun at me."
"So you can point a gun at me?"
Sherlock spread his arms, raising an eyebrow challengingly.
"Mind if I check?"
"Oh, I insist." He frowned at the man; ears listening to the distinct engine note fade away.
The man didn't lower the gun as he patted down Sherlock's jacket. He rolled his eyes at Mrs Hudson as the man moved behind him, patting down the usual places for a holster. Spinning he sprayed the man in the face with what smelled like window cleaner and before the man could come to his senses he headbutted him.
"Lestrade, there has been a break in a Baker Street. Send your least irritating officers and an ambulance. Oh no, no, we're fine, except for Hermione, of course." Sherlock's eyes hardened. "No, it's the burglar. He's got himself rather badly injured. A few broken ribs, fractured skull...suspected punctured lung. He fell out of a window."
As soon as the ambulance pulled up, John grabbed the nearest paramedic and dragged him upstairs, where Hermione was still lying on the floor. Sherlock had refused to move her. Hermione had severe head trauma as well as her other multiple injuries, which had been the only thing that convinced Sherlock to let her go to hospital. Within moments they had her speeding away to St Bart's, where Molly was instructed to watch over her until Sherlock could get there. Although the American had faced a severe accident, and here John smiled, there was still the matter of his two colleagues to think about. Sherlock didn't want Hermione unprotected for a second.
John was to stay and look after Mrs Hudson. He had suggested that she could go on holiday. Maybe visit some friends, but Sherlock wasn't having that either. John suspected he just wanted everyone where he could look after them. Having Hermione hurt had seriously unnerved him.
Lestrade's officers didn't leave for several hours, wanting to make sure they had everything they needed. Sherlock was nearly foaming at the mouth. Of all times for the police to attempt to be effective.
By the time he'd gotten to the hospital, Molly had sent him an extremely apologetic message. She'd had to go back to work or face the wrath of her supervisor. What had Sherlock worried...concerned, was that she'd thanked him for sending a replacement. He nearly knocked down a pair of nurses as he strode through the corridors towards Hermione's room.
The girl was younger than Hermione but not by much. She had waist length blonde hair, threaded with orange blossom and almost luminous pale blue eyes, which seemed to be fixed on nothing in particular. The white dress she wore, reminded him of the picture of a fairy in the books he'd read as a child, at his mother's insistence. She was sitting on the back of the chair, her bare feet resting on its cushion. A small tiara rested precariously on top of her head, blackened and warped. Free spirit, loyal, close friend, lonely, bullied, writer, outdoor worker. Travel writer?
"My name is Luna," she said, voice empty, distracting him slightly. "And you are Sherlock Holmes, the man that married my friend." She cocked her head at him and those luminous eyes hardened slightly. She too had been through a war. Although not a soldier like Hermione, just a survivor. "And you are the man who caused her to be beaten into unconsciousness."
Sherlock frowned slightly.
"How did you know she was here?" he asked. It would be faster than working it out. The machines around Hermione beeped steadily. He counted her heartbeats. 1, 2, 3...
"She is my friend," she said simply.
"You are magical?" he muttered, crossing to stare down at Hermione. She'd been dressed in a short sleeved hospital gown, arms resting on top of the covers.
36, 37, 38...
"Sherlock Holmes, you do not believe in magic. So my answer isn't really relevant."
"What do you mean?" He turned to face her, but something caught his eye and he turned back to stare at Hermione's arm. The arm she always kept covered.
"Hermione is a friend of mine. The Nargles keep watch on her for me."
72, 73, 74...
Sherlock snatched at her arm, raising it to his eye level. The wounds were fresh and it had obviously been bound by the medical staff. There was a pile of bandages on the floor. It wasn't bleeding though so Sherlock didn't replace them.
"The American didn't do that." Luna murmured as he made to stride out.
134, 135, 136...
"The wound is fresh. She hadn't left the flat that day and it's on her right arm. Hermione is right handed, so she didn't so it. Mrs Hudson hates the sight of blood so it wasn't her."
"And so the American is the natural deduction." Luna sighed and gave him a disappointed look usually reserved for stupid children.
"What would you suggest?" he asked, curious enough to humour her.
"It's not my story to tell. Those responsible have been dealt with."
"Murdered?" he asked, slightly more interested.
"Obliterated," she whispered, eyes darkening slightly. Luna gathered her skirts and stood. She was small, the top of her head barely reaching his shoulder. She grabbed his left hand and tugged on his wedding ring, raising it to her eye level. She squinted at it for several seconds before dropping it. Then she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him hard on the mouth.
200, 201, 202...
Luna smiled radiantly as Sherlock scowled and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, stepping back.
"You should ask Hermione about emotional magic. Her knowledge is somewhat...theoretical but she's clever enough to understand." She plucked a sprig of orange blossom from her hair and tucked it in his button hole. "She'll wake up when you reach 245. Good afternoon."
Sherlock watched her leave, frowning slightly.
243, 244, 245...
Hermione had laughed when he'd explained about her visitor.
"Don't worry," she'd assured him, arm now carefully hidden under the blankets. "She's always like that." She'd been discharged shortly after she'd awoken but only because John had assured St Bart's that she'd have around-the-clock care. By that he'd meant Sherlock and Mrs Hudson. Hermione couldn't decide whether having Sherlock at her bedside was a good thing or not. He was good company but he became slightly overbearing after a while. Mainly due to being kept in the one place and a horrific lack of murders occurring in the flat.
Still he refused to leave the arm chair he'd brought over to his room, as Hermione wasn't allowed to sleep in her room. Too close to the front door.
"Are you ever going to let me go back to my room?" she asked, as Sherlock dropped yet another book into the increasing pile on his left.
"No," he murmured, picking up another book from his right and flipping to the index.
"Hmmm. And the reason I'm using your coat as a blanket is...?"
"It's a thick wool blend. John said keeping you warm was essential."
She rolled her eyes.
"And you couldn't use the spare duvet in the linen cupboard?"
"We don't have a linen cupboard." The book was abandoned and he reached for another one.
"Yes, we do. It's where Mrs Hudson keeps the cleaning supplies. It's under the stairs."
"Don't be silly."
"Are you looking for something in particular?"
"What makes you think that?" He muttered, running one long finger down the index column of Extensive Charming.
"You're working your way through my entire library and you've only glanced at the indexes."
She winced slightly as the large tome crashed to the floor.
"Your friend, Luna Lintworthy..."
"Whatever. She mentioned something to me about emotional magic. Told me to ask you." He flicked an offending curl out of his eye.
"I wonder why she'd mention that. Still..." Hermione shook her head. "Emotional magic is a branch you won't find in any book. Or at least not any book that I own. Due to its rarity there are very few documented cases. I was lucky to know a living example however."
"Your friend, Harry?" He asked quietly.
"How did you..."
"You cover your right forearm whenever you think about him. Purely subconscious, but easy to pick up on if you know what to look for."
Hermione blushed slightly.
"Sherlock, why have you never asked about my scar?"
Sherlock stared at her for a moment, expression unreadable.
"People hide things for a reason. Because their ashamed, because their scared or because it's going to hurt them. You've been hurt enough." He tensed his jaw, clenching his teeth as though his next words had to be pulled from him pliers. "You are…important to me. I would not...do not enjoy seeing you hurt."
"Besides I have been assured that those responsible have been properly dealt with."
Hermione winced slightly.
"True," she whispered. Sherlock tapped his fingers against the spine of the book, waiting for the rest of her explanation. Emotions never interested him for long.
"Well, what you need to remember is that magic is a living breathing thing. It's not a force like gravity. It can be influenced by emotions. For example, accidental magic. Before we are given our wands our magic is unfocused and easily set off. Because of that when children experience strong emotions accidental magic occurs. For example, Harry turned his teachers wig blue once, I dropped a shelf full of books on to a babysitter I didn't like. It's not intentional but our emotions influence the magic anyway. Emotional magic runs along a parallel theory. The only case I know of personally is, as you say, with Harry. Harry is an orphan; his parents were killed by an evil wizard."
"Megalomaniac psychopath with daddy issues."
"Do go on."
Hermione rolled her eyes. She seemed to do that a lot around him.
"However, Harry's mother was given the choice to stand aside and let Harry be killed, therefore saving her own life. She refused and sacrificed herself to protect her son, despite knowing she would die. And because her blood was spilled, and she gave her life in an ultimate act of love, the magic formed a bond between her and her son. As long as her blood flowed through Harry's veins the wizard couldn't touch him. Lily didn't cast this spell, but her sacrifice was heard and the magic flowed accordingly. Do you follow?"
Sherlock nodded, remaining unusually quiet. The room had gotten colder as the sun dropped and she shivered, pulling the duvet and his coat closer around her.
"Emotional magic also works in other ways. For example..." She held up her left hand, ring glinting slightly. "And this is perhaps what Luna was getting at; this bond is designed to dissolve should pregnancy not occur. However there are rare cases where the magic rebels. The most relevant case that springs to mind would be that of Cedrella Black and Septimus Weasley. Cedrella had fallen in love with Septimus when they attended Hogwarts together. However, despite the Weasleys being purebloods, her parents did not approve of the match. So a compromise was reached. She could marry Septimus for a year and a day in the handfasting ceremony, after which the marriage would break and she could be remarried to a groom of her parents choosing. A year and a day passed and the rings did not break. Furious her parents took her straight to a healer to have the baby terminated. No baby. No marriage. The healer informed them that their daughter was not pregnant. There was no reason for the marriage to still be binding. The Black family tried everything, much to the growing amusement of Cedrella and Septimus, to break the bond. Eventually they had to resign themselves to the truth. The magic surrounding the bond refused to break because almost nothing can break the marriage of soul mates." Hermione smiled faintly and tugged the covers up to her chin, Sherlock nothing more than a shadow in the dark room. "For shaming the Noble House of Black, Cedrella was struck from the family tree. As I understand it she lived a very happy life, having a large family which eventually resulted in the birth of her grandson Ronald Bilius Weasley."
There were twin thumps as Sherlock kicked his shoes off.
"And your friend believes that this will happen to us?"
"Luna believes in a lot of things. Like Nargles for example. She is completely...Sherlock, what are you doing?"
Sherlock had slipped under the duvet, lifted Hermione so she was sitting between his legs, her head resting against his chest. She winced at the slight twinge of her shoulder as he moved her and frowned up at him.
"John said to keep you warm. You were shivering."
"Yes but you don't really do physical contact," Hermione whispered.
There was silence for a moment as Hermione adjusted to actually touching Sherlock Holmes.
"This won't happen to us?" he prompted.
"Oh. No, it won't."
"How can you be sure?"
Hermione sighed and rubbed her head against his shirt, closing her eyes.
"Because you're Sherlock Holmes...And you don't love me."
"If we take Merlin's third law as constant..."
"The murderer had to have known the victim, it's so personal.
"And we take into account that..."
"She wants to be caught...
"It would mean a breakthrough in transferral theory which would..."
"But of course she's female. The depth of the injuries, the strange stabbing wound..."
"But then you would have to justify the wording accordingly although the movements would still be relevant..."
"Are they always like this?" Mrs Hudson whispered to John, who was nursing the cup of tea she'd given him. Hermione and Sherlock stood toe to toe in the centre of the room, staring into each other's eyes and talking over each other, each seemingly unaware of the others presence.
"They use each other like sounding boards. I can't even hear what they're saying most of the time."
"Come on, John!" Sherlock called looping his scarf around his neck. Hermione had already vanished downstairs, with a glazed look in her eyes as she muttered under her breath twisting a quill between her fingers.
"Do you know who it is then?"
"How?" John asked, struggling to get his coat on.
Sherlock stuck his head back through the door, grinning.
"Her shoes, John!"
John Watson growled deeply as his latest attempt to plug in the Christmas tree lights failed. He had fought valiantly, unwilling to give up and all too aware of his audience, watching critically from the sofa.
Sherlock, sitting unusually still on one end of the sofa, suit-clad, legs crossed, gazed at him, his eyes bright with mischief. Never a good sign when it came to Sherlock.
"It should have been obvious from the placement of the tree and of the length of the lights that this was not going to work," he drawled, the corner of his mouth showing just a hint off a smile.
John ignored him. There was very little Sherlock liked better than proving he was the smartest person in a room. Which was generally true. It was usually best to let him get on with it. However John had the sneaking suspicion he was showing off.
"Behave, Sherlock," Hermione reprimanded, gently nudging him with her foot.
Hermione, by contrast to Sherlock's almost regimental state, was sprawled lengthwise across the sofa, her bare feet resting in Sherlock's lap. She was supposedly reading the heavy tome she held in front of her, but occasionally John would feel her amused gaze sweep across his shoulders.
"What I don't understand is why John can't move the tree closer to the plug?"
"Hermione, don't pretend to be stupid," Sherlock drawled, his eyes fixed on something neither of them could see.
"I wasn't. That would be you, Captain."
"Don't call me that," he snapped, flushing slightly.
"I can't move the tree because it blocks out the view from the window."
"We live in central London. What is there to see?"
"From the spot precisely two inches to the left of John's foot I can see simultaneously out both windows. A restricted view obscures my thinking."
John sighed. Sherlock didn't even notice if he left the flat most of the time, but heaven forbid you change something in the room.
"Besides," he continued, now glaring at the small feet resting in his lap. "He should have been able to calculate the distance and come to a correct assumption. It's not like he's Anderson."
Hermione sighed and turned a page in her book, an action that caused Sherlock to twitch slightly. He hated it when she didn't pay full attention to him.
"Be nice..." she warned, sending an apologetic smile to John, the dull December light winking off her wedding ring as she adjusted the hold on her heavy book.
"I was being nice. That's a compliment. Anderson is an example of the failings of evolution."
It had taken John a while to get used to the idea of Sherlock being married. Firstly because it was Hermione. Although there was a only a nine year age gap between the two, Hermione was just out of secondary school. They barely even knew her, a girl with an undoubtedly troubled and colourful past. Hermione had moved in in July and the rings had appeared in October. Sherlock had known her for all of three months and he'd married her. With no warning or notice.
Although, he had gone flat hunting with John after one conversation.
Hell, John liked Hermione, she was like a little sister to him, but for a girl who'd very publicly stated she had no intention of getting married any time soon, to marry Sherlock Holmes of all people...well, at least it had stopped the gay rumours. Some of John's dates had been starting to get worried.
Secondly because he was...well...Sherlock. Sherlock bloody Holmes. He didn't do physical relationships or girlfriends. John didn't think he'd ever even been kissed. Sherlock hadn't mentioned the rings until he'd brought it up. An experiment he'd said. It was only for a year. They'd signed some sort of contract apparently. Mycroft had even sent them a cake, beautifully decorated and suitably expensive. He suspected Anthea had bought it. Still it bothered him that Mycroft had known first. But then again...what didn't Mycroft know first?
"John...?" Hermione called softly, interrupting his thoughts. "The extension cable is in Sherlock's room if that's any help."
"Thanks, Hermione," he left the room, ignoring Sherlock's protests that he was using it for an experiment.
And then there was the other thing. Although the marriage of Sherlock and Hermione Holmes was, as far as he could tell, strictly platonic, there were the occasional odd moments. Like when John came home from a long hospital shift and found them asleep on Sherlock's bed, fully clothed, Sherlock's arm wrapped possessively around her waist. John had always thought that Sherlock was bad when it came to him, interrupting dates and the like. But with Hermione...if John didn't know any better he'd compare him to a five year old with his first crush. Hermione could barely leave the house without one of Sherlock's homeless network tailing her. Sherlock got regular text updates throughout the day on her whereabouts, although there would be long periods where no one seemed to be able to find her, which would result in black moods and sulking.
Any time Anderson came in the flat Sherlock placed himself directly in front of her, as though he could stop Anderson looking at her and always urged Anderson out as quickly as possible.
Although that wasn't new.
He didn't mind John but Mycroft wasn't allowed to visit Hermione without Sherlock present. Mycroft had wandered in one morning when Hermione was eating breakfast in her pyjamas at the kitchen table. Thirty seconds later she'd had Sherlock's greatcoat draped around her shoulders as Mycroft was hustled out of the flat.
Not that it stopped Hermione who was now working for Mycroft as a researcher as she "refused to listen to ramblings of a sociopathic two year old with a new toy".
Mycroft found it hilarious. Well, as much as Mycroft ever found anything hilarious.
He found the extension cable, under the bed. It had been covered in the minute black scrawl unique to Sherlock Holmes. Whatever he was using it for was beyond him. Some of Sherlock's experiments were just insane. Like the time the television had blown up when he was having a shouting match with Hermione. They hadn't replaced it yet.
Hermione, however, was a miracle worker with Sherlock. His best friend hadn't had a danger night for nearly four months. A record. His possessiveness aside, she could spend hours talking to him, indulging his theories so as to never let him get bored. John had never told her about Sherlock's drug history and he suspect Mycroft hadn't either. But she was a clever girl and he suspected, had worked out the general gist of it. Enough to know the danger signs anyway.
It wasn't to say that Hermione spent all her time watching Sherlock. Much to his intense irritation she persisted in having a life outside the detective. She'd made fast friends with Greg and sometimes helped Mrs Hudson with the housekeeping, as she was the only one brave enough to clean out the fridge. He had even found her and Molly drinking tea in the kitchen once. When he'd asked what she was doing there, Hermione said that Sherlock had needed a liver for an experiment and Molly had been kind enough to bring one over. He later found that Hermione had fried it in batter just to irritate her husband. Sherlock had sulked for a full afternoon.
Yet despite Hermione's marriage to the man Molly had been in love with for years, the two had become good friends. They'd been shopping yesterday, he remembered.
"I found it," he called, returning to the living room. Neither of them had moved from the sofa, although Hermione had abandoned her book on the floor and was dozing, her hands folded neatly on top of her stomach. Her eyes flickered open to watch John as he crossed in front of the sofa.
A small pile of presents had been dumped under the Christmas tree all of them unlabelled. Sherlock could tell the giver and the recipient from one look. Besides they were all either for John or Hermione. All of Sherlock's presents had to be hidden to save him from deducing the contents.
Hermione cheered when the lights came on, Sherlock made a cynical comment about the flock mentality of mankind and John put the kettle on.
Life here was strange. They were a strange mixture of people. Workmates, spouses and flatmates. He was Sherlock and she was Hermione and he was John. He couldn't imagine life in any other way. This was their normal.
And this was Christmas at 221B Baker Street.
Hermione was being followed.
This was nothing new, Sherlock had her followed all the time. But his homeless contacts always took care to make sure she knew she was being followed. When she needed time away from the overbearing presence of their boss, they melted away into the crowd and left her be. But whoever this was, was going to quite some effort not to be noticed.
Who was on duty today?
Sammy, parka drawn up around his ears, hair uneven tufts poking out from under his hood, only twenty paces behind her. He looked nervous, eyes widening at her in warning when they made eye contact.
Hermione swallowed and slid a hand into her coat pocket, gripping the vine wood handle of her wand. Turning left she moved down into an empty alleyway. If she had to use magic she didn't want to have to Obliviate anyone.
The alley ended in a dead end and Hermione turned to face the heavy footsteps that had followed her down the tarmac.
Wand held by her side she shifted her stance, watching the tall stranger walking towards her. He looked familiar, dark hair and strong features. But they were hazy and difficult to look at.
"Drop the glamour." She ordered, wand raised, the slight tremor barely noticeable.
He did so, the magic shimmering out of sight.
"You know, you taught me how to do that? Only one who thought I could."
"Neville?" she hissed.
"Hello, Hermione." He smiled and it was as easy going as she remembered. Lowering her wand she smiled tentatively in return. Something told her his visit was a good thing.
"What are you doing here? Following me? I thought you were doing Herbology with Sprout."
"I am. Harry sent me."
"Of course he did. He's being silly. I told him not to worry about it."
"No, he's not." Neville gripped her sleeve, eyes pleading. "Hermione, can we go somewhere safe? No one can know I was here."
"Why not?" she frowned, the feeling of dread only increasing.
He swallowed, before turning and throwing up wards.
"Muffilatio," he finished quietly stowing his wand. "Listen, Hermione, things have been changing back home. The papers have turned on you, they're backed by some pretty substantial claims..."
"Why should I care?" she interrupted, scowling.
"Because they managed to convince the Wizengamot," Neville whispered.
"What...what are you saying?"
The tall Gryffindor reached forward and hugged her tightly.
"It's so good to see you again. Everyone's been worried sick, not knowing how you are."
"Neville, tell me..."
"You have been ostracised by the Wizengamot," he whispered urgently in her ear, still hugging her tight. "You are not to have any contact with Wizarding Britain. Any attempt to do so will result in incarceration."
"But…they can't do that. On what charges?" Tears burned in her eyes. "Neville what did I do?"
"The purebloods are still in charge. They see you as a threat, brightest witch and war hero. You are a living example that not conforming to their ways works. Their opinions were already bad enough but then the papers got hold of your marriage."
"But it's not even..."
Neville slapped a hand over her mouth, wincing when she narrowed her eyes. Classic Granger danger sign.
"Don't tell me anything that could get you in more trouble." He frowned depreciatingly. "Please, Hermione. If they find out I was here...Occlumency has never been my strong point."
She nodded, watching him carefully.
"What was the charge?" she asked seriously.
"They charged you as a disturber of the peace. By the time Harry and Ron found out there was nothing they could do. You have no House ties; there was no one they had to notify. They even managed to get it past Kingsley."
"But why...?" Hermione sighed. "They're watching you."
"Floo, owl, everything. Harry gets followed to work, Ginny sees them at practise. Hell, they've got everyone under surveillance, from Molly to Minerva. They're just waiting for one of us to contact you. They have Aurors waiting for you to step into Diagon."
"And because I'm muggleborn they don't have to tell me."
"The warrant for your arrest is already written, they showed it to Ron. I think they thought he'd support them."
"No. Ron may have issues with you but he's still knows what's right and wrong. It's dated for October. You have that long at least."
"Why not now? From what you say there's nothing stopping them from coming after me right this minute."
"I have no idea. Something is stopping them though."
"Mycroft," she whispered, realisation dawning. The most powerful man in Britain indeed.
Neville glanced over his shoulder to the mouth of the alleyway.
"I can't stay much longer. Harry will be in touch when he can. You need to be out of the country by October the 12th."
"What about Sherlock?"
"I don't know. He should be safe. He's just a muggle." Neville pulled away, reapplying his glamour. "Only Luna and I aren't under surveillance. That we know of anyway. Stay away from wizarding London. Have you got your Galleon?"
Hermione tugged on the chain around her neck and showed Neville the Galleon from her fifth year.
"I got Sherlock to drill a hole in it." Well she'd asked Sherlock and he'd gotten John to do it. But still.
"If we can give you any warning we will. Take care." He pressed a kiss to her check and Hermione was too shell shocked to even reply. Neville was gone in seconds, passing through the wards without pause.
For a second a smile touched her lips. People continued to underestimate Neville. Hogwarts, the Death Eaters and now the Ministry. And then the smile was gone.
She was banished...they had thrown her out of the one place where she should have had a home. True she'd left anyway but that had been temporary, just until everything had blown over. It hadn't been very Gryffindor but she'd needed the escape.
And now she couldn't go back. At all.
Hermione collapsed to the ground, staring at the floor framed between her feet. It was covered with dust and wrappers, the occasional piece of dried chewing gum. A normal London street.
What did she have left?
Harry, Ron...They couldn't even contact her. Ron wasn't speaking to her anyway.
Her parents were gone. She had no family aside from Mrs Hudson and she wasn't even a blood relation.
Well Mrs Hudson and Sherlock.
She had Sherlock. Her husband. And for the first time she didn't baulk at the term. Sherlock was her friend and he was the man she lov...cared for. He was family.
And she had John and Molly. Even Greg and Mycroft to a certain extent.
But most of all she had Sherlock.
Sherlock arrived in a flash of dark wool and curls. Apparently he'd been tipped off that she'd vanished into an alley and hadn't been seen since.
He stared straight down the alleyway, his whole body tensed as though he was fighting the urge to flee.
"Hermione, I don't have a dentist appointment to go to so if you wouldn't mind..." Startled she just stared at him for a moment. "Hermione..." he growled.
The wards crumpled as she deftly removed Neville's spell work. He'd certainly improved on his charms, she noted.
She got to her feet, brushing the dust off her jeans and stowing her wand in her pocket.
"Are you going to make me guess?"
"Will it make you happy?" she asked monotonously.
"The magic indicates a wizard, his aftershave follows that. You knew him, there is no come down from an adrenaline rush. So a friend, but he was disguised, you didn't know him immediately which is why your wand was out. However he was worried about being followed, hence the wards and the disguise. You are depressed but not frightened so not a threat, just very bad news. He left quite soon afterwards, according to Samuel. You've been sitting on the ground for some time, you're shivering." Sherlock clasped his hands behind his back, his eyes so dark they were almost black.
"You're in trouble."
"I'm not going to tell you, because it's not something you can help with."
"Oh, I doubt that..."
"YOU'RE A MUGGLE. HOW WOULD YOU UNDERSTAND?" she spat, eyes flashing. Hermione regretted the words as soon as she'd said them. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "That was uncalled for." She swallowed. He was watching her with that expression that was somewhere between pity and confusion.
"Don't," he muttered, holding out his hand. "I'm needed back at Baker Street. You're in shock so you're coming with me."
"Am I?" she asked, now smiling slightly as she took his gloved hand. Sherlock raised their clasped fingers and his eyebrow simultaneously, making her laugh.
"Are you going to take care of me?" she teased.
He suddenly looked awkward as they stepped out onto the open street.
"Forget it. I was kidding."
"No, no, that's what husbands do, isn't it? Take care of their spouses?"
Sherlock did take care of her.
He brought her a cup of tea.
"We need to talk."
"Do we?" Sherlock kept his eyes closed, fingertips pressed to his mouth as he thought, but he could almost sense Johns exasperated expression.
"Eyes open, Sherlock."
Sherlock frowned and cracked one eyelid. Standing in the middle of the living room, looking incredibly uncomfortable were John (who looked awkward so often it was really more of a hobby), Lestrade (who refused to meet his eyes) and his brother (who was blushing).
Sherlock's eyes went wide and he began looking for escape routes. Or a serial killer. Something. ANYTHING!
"The doors are locked and the windows bolted, Sherlock." Mycroft intoned, twirling his umbrella absently.
"We don't have to do this," he begged.
"Oh yes, we do." John insisted pointing a finger at him. "You've had this coming for months and frankly it's getting ridiculous."
He stood, too nervous to remain in his seat.
"Why is Lestrade here?" He demanded, uncaring if he seemed petulant.
"Actually I'd like to know that too." Lestrade glared at John. "This really isn't my division..."
"It was Lestrade or Molly."
John sighed and rubbed at his temples.
"And Molly is busy."
That made Sherlock blink.
"But it's her day off."
"I'm not even going to ask how you know Molly's timetable. She's gone out with Hermione."
"Because they're females of a similar age range." Mycroft smirked at him. "Surely Sherlock you can understand that they might have something in common? Or is it the idea that Mrs Holmes might have a life outside of you that bothers you?"
"Shut up, Mycroft."
"Boys, please. Sherlock we've noticed some difference between you...and Hermione..."
"John, what did I say to when you asked if I was gay?"
"How is that relevant?"
Sherlock glared at him and John rubbed his eyes.
"You said that you considered yourself married to your work."
"But you are genuinely married to Hermione." Lestrade broke in, still seeming dazed by this fact. "You'll have had to have had..." Lestrade looked like he wanted to vomit. "Physical relations? To make it legal."
"It wasn't necessary," he hissed.
"You've kissed surely?"
"Not even once," John answered.
"Sherlock Holmes, answer the question!" Mycroft snapped.
"It was an experiment." He blushed slightly. "I was...curious."
"And..?" John demanded.
"How was it?"
"Sherlock!" Hermione cried, hands over her ears, as she ran into the living room.
There was another thunderous explosion as a small chunk of masonry was pulverised under the force of the bullet.
Taking her life into her hands, Hermione stepped in front of him, swallowing as the black muzzle of John's hand gun didn't waver, instead pointing straight at her skull.
She removed her hands from her ears and watched him warily.
"I've got a gun to your head and you ask me what's wrong?"
"Like you frequently remind me, I'm not normal. Especially when it comes to this sort of thing."
Sherlock snorted and clicked the safety back on, before he chucked the gun carelessly onto the sofa cushions. Growling in irritation he paced in front of her, one hand ruffling his hair as he did so.
"But can't you see..." he hissed, "That that's a good thing?" Casting an arm wide he gestured to the window and the outside world. "Why would you want to be like them? Dull, unobservant, dim-witted. How do they cope?" He grabbed her hand and dragged her in front of the nearest window. "Look at them, Hermione. They live such boring lives and yet it doesn't seem to bother them. Why are they all so ordinary? What can they do that I can't?"
"Not possible," he retorted absently, eyes still focused on the people outside.
"It is. That's what they can do that you can't. Your problem is your scope is wide. You notice everything and everyone and you cannot seem to help it. You've never learned to narrow your focus, tune your mind to one thing. Books and TV hold no stimulus for you because you cannot turn your brain off enough to focus."
"Why on earth would I want to?"
"Because right now, even though I'm talking to you, you are still thinking about at least seven different things at the same time. And what do you do when you run out of things to focus on? You get bored. Your brain is grasping for something to do and this is not going to help you."
Without his noticing, she'd slid her hand up the sleeve of his dressing gown. She dangled the nicotine patch in front of him.
"What do you suggest?" he murmured, mildly amused as she dropped the patch into a nearby bin. If John had done that he'd have launched into a suitably cutting diatribe. But with Hermione, it was amusing. Besides he had two more stuck to his other arm.
Hermione chewed her lip for a second, fingers tapping on the back of his hand as she thought.
"Come here," she asked, turning him to face her. Sherlock watched her, the smallest of frowns pricking his forehead.
"I want to try something," she told him quietly, only just meeting his eyes as she tucked her hair behind her ears. "Some people say that this helps them stop thinking. I wouldn't know personally, but it's...an experiment." She smiled at him tentatively.
He said nothing, just watched as she drew in a deep breath, raised herself up onto the tips of her toes, and kissed him.
For the first moment nothing happened. Then his eyes slid shut and without intending to his arm wrapped around her waist and, just like she'd said, his focus narrowed. The taste of her on his lips was just as intoxicating as her scent, the one he'd been trying to track down since she'd moved into the flat. The feel of her lips against his as she kissed him sent his head whirling. His brain scrambled to analyse, categorise the new sensations, but ground to a halt as he finally returned her kiss.
And for the first time since his drug abuse, Sherlock Holmes stopped thinking.
"You zoned out there for a second."
Sherlock blinked and tried to ignore his brother's smirk.
"Ah, yes...right. Sorry."
"And?" repeated John.
"It was nice," he answered.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, dear little brother. You are in trouble."
"And that's it?" Lestrade asked. "One kiss?"
"This is Sherlock we're talking about. For him to kiss someone and find it nice..." John trailed off, smiling. "Am I going to have to find a new flat? Leave you to alone?"
"Very funny," Sherlock snapped.
"Sherlock Holmes, in nearly sixth months your marriage will expire." Mycroft pointed out, leaning on his umbrella.
"What?" Lestrade squawked.
"Oh, this whole thing was an experiment." John muttered. "Some grand idea of Sherlock's apparently."
Mycroft's eyebrow got even higher.
"Oh, is that what you told them?"
The eyebrow came down and Mycroft donned the expression that was meant to inform Sherlock he'd done something wrong. Sherlock, in all honesty, thought it made him look like a seal.
"Hermione took an enormous risk in marrying you and she did it to protect you." Mycroft glowered at him as though he was being intolerably stupid. It set his teeth on edge. "She already had a target painted on her for what she was and who she was. If you had any idea what she'd been through in the years before she met you...She was in enough danger without adding the dangers of marrying a muggle. Yet she did it anyway, because she cares about you. When this is over, when this ridiculous sham falls to pieces she will run. Not because she wants to but because she has to. My protection will run out with this marriage."
"Hermione's in danger?" John asked.
"Of course she is," Sherlock spat. He scowled at them in disbelief. "How can you go through your life and not notice something that obvious?" He switched his glare to Mycroft. "It's you protecting her?"
"Wasn't it obvious?" Mycroft murmured.
"Of course. She fell under house protection. An antiquated system, but everything in her world is. But when she is no longer under your careful hand she's in danger."
"The warrant has already been signed. It's just a matter of time. I've set up talks with my American counterpart. They might take her in. Africa being the second choice."
"She has to go," he stated, ignoring the background noise of John and...Graham(?) asking for answers.
"The question is Sherlock..." Mycroft murmured, "Will you be able to let her leave you?"
Months passed after the so called intervention of Sherlock Holmes, and he became distracted. Moriarty was on the loose in London and Sherlock simply couldn't provide enough space to keep track of everything. So he missed certain details, like the passing of September. He didn't notice when Hermione resigned from her job with Mycroft or that her belongings gradually vanished from their flat. It didn't occur to him that the frequent hugs or the extra time spent together meant something. That she spent the nights when he was out on a case, sleeping in his bed because she was looking for comfort.
Sherlock sat on the floor of Molly's lab, head tipped back against the cupboards as his world shattered to pieces around him. Hermione gave a deep sigh as she collapsed onto the floor beside him. She'd left several days before, not that he'd really registered her absence, he'd been too busy.
"Oh, Sherlock," she breathed, dropping her head onto his shoulder. He laced their fingers together.
He'd never noticed how much comfort he got from one simple gesture.
"I need to die," he said bluntly.
There was no gasp, no tears. She just nodded once, brown eyes dark and flinty, instead of their usual warm caramel. She was dressed strangely; a long black travelling cloak covering dark jeans tucked into knee high boots and black shirt.
"Yes," she whispered. "Yes, you do."
It isn't until later, when Moriarty is dead and they have holed up in one of his many bolt holes, warded by everything Hermione can think of, that he asks if she'll come with him. He never expected to have company. He thought he'd be on his own, without a single ally.
"You are not the first man I've gone on the run for," she mutters, a hint of a smile on her face. It warms him, his chest feeling inexplicably light. He wonders if it's a reaction to the stress of the day. Maybe he should ask Molly.
"Besides..." she teases, poking his side. "Someone needs to remind you you're human."
"You're not," he retorts weakly.
She laughs and it reverberates around the room, packed with boxes and dust.
"I just helped you fake your own death, Mr Holmes." She leans into his side and he puts his arm around her shoulder, not really focusing on his actions. "I think I deserve some leeway."
There's a pause as Hermione sucks in a deep breath.
"I had to. There's a warrant out for my arrest. But I asked Molly to call me should you need me."
"Molly matters. And she cares for you." Hermione wrinkled her nose. "A little too much for my liking but that's not her fault. This will help her get over it."
"What did you tell John?"
"I left him a letter," she smirked slightly. "Saying that I couldn't stay married to a cheat and a liar. I may have accused you of robbing me of innocence."
"Mmm. Eventually he'll work out that I've had my stuff packed for weeks."
"Unlikely. John is a master of seeing but not observing."
"Hmmm. He's not an idiot though." She sighed. "You have to tell him. He thinks you're dead."
"Yes, you can. Get Molly or Mycroft to pass along the message. Anything. But you cannot let him continue to think you're dead. You can't play with people's emotions like that. What if he does something stupid?"
"John wouldn't. It's necessary."
"I'll tell him."
"Make a deduction, you idiot."
"You're starting to sound like me."
"Side effect of prolonged exposure. Like radiation poisoning."
Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Really? Jokes? Now?"
"Why not now? We're on the run from the magical world and in hiding from the muggle world."
"What day is it?" she asked.
"Thursday the 14th of October."
"We got married on the 12th last year," she says almost casually.
It hits him then. The thing that has been on the edge of his mind for days. That one lingering detail begging to be noticed.
"You're no longer a Holmes. Mycroft couldn't protect you anymore."
"And my husband has just committed suicide," she added. "Either way I'm no longer protected."
"So there was nothing holding them back."
She holds up her left hand, letting the dull light catch the still very intact gold ring.
"This should have dissolved yesterday."
"So we're..." He trails off uncomfortable.
"Apparently." She swallowed. "Does this bother you?"
"Well it looks like you're stuck with me. For better or for worse."
I hope you liked this. This kind of took off on it's own. It wasn't supposed to end up like this.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed Flatmates. Please do the same for this one.
I'm so nervous about this.
Hood and Genius Out.