A/N Hi guys! Lots of amazing responses to the last chapter. Thank you! I won't keep you waiting any longer...
Epilogue - The Hunt for Hermione
It was as though his whole body was being crushed in on itself, like he was being forced through a tiny metal pipe. John had never expected death to feel like this and he'd come been very close to dying before, but that was the only explanation he could come up with for this sensation coupled with the sudden darkness.
And then he was home. He was in the lounge of 221B Baker Street, in the same semi-crouched position, halfway across London from where he'd just been. Hermione and Sherlock were there too, in the same stances as at the pool, but Sherlock looked as stunned as John felt. Hermione relinquished the grip she had on each of them, making John fall over.
"Wh-what..." he stammered. His brain just couldn't keep up with everything that had happened in the last hour.
"No, don't," Sherlock said urgently to Hermione as she took a couple of steps away from them, before turning round with a heartbroken look.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, tears still glistening in her eyes.
Then she was gone.
"Damn!" Sherlock cursed walking forward to where Hermione had just disappeared from.
"I, how," John stuttered, unable to form a coherent sentence. "Sherlock?"
"Believe me now?" Sherlock said, rounding on John in frustration.
"Yes," John gasped, pulling himself shakily to his feet. "But how can she do that?"
Sherlock turned round on the spot. "I still don't know," he muttered with a deep frown.
John felt his knees tremble again and he sat heavily on the armchair, closing his eyes. It was too much; first there was the 'game' they'd been through these last few days, then being abducted and having a bomb strapped to his chest, having to listen to Hermione's screams, the stand-off in the swimming pool and then teleporting across London. It was all just too much.
"Take off your top," Sherlock said suddenly.
John looked up at him in confusion, hoping that Sherlock hadn't just said what he'd heard. "I'm sorry, what?"
"Her blood is on it," Sherlock gave as an explanation, holding out his hand expectantly.
John glanced down at his arm and saw that there was a reddish stain on his sleeve where Hermione had held onto him to make them all disappear. "So what?"
"I want to run some tests on it," Sherlock replied, still waiting for the garment.
John ran a hand over his face. "We've just escaped from almost certain death. Can't you just… I don't know, pause for a moment?"
"I've waited long enough where Hermione is concerned," Sherlock said, taking a step forward. "I want answers now."
A familiar ringing sounded from Sherlock's coat pocket and John felt a rush of dread as the pink phone was brought into the open. The nightmare still wasn't over.
Sherlock held out the phone in front of him. "Hello?"
"I believe it's considered rude to leave without saying goodbye," the unmistakeable voice of Moriarty announced.
"We didn't think the threats to our lives were particularly polite either," Sherlock replied.
"No, I suppose you've got me there," Moriarty admitted. "I had half a mind to pop round and finish the job but you may as well know that today is not your day to die after all."
"How kind of you to reconsider," John muttered bitterly.
"Don't worry, Dr Watson, I'll certainly be in touch," Moriarty replied cheerfully. "Now pass me to Hermione, she left a certain item in my possession and I'd like to negotiate terms for its return."
John glanced at Sherlock as his friend paused. Should they tell Moriarty the truth?
"She's not here," Sherlock stated bluntly, "disappeared as soon as she brought us home."
"What?" Sherlock asked, his forehead creased in confusion.
"That's the correct term for what she did – it's called disapparation," Moriarty explained, the amusement evident in his voice. "And let me guess, she failed to explain quite what's so special about herself before she popped out of your lives?" Their silence told him all he needed to know and he laughed. "What a naughty girl!"
John tilted his head at the phone, silently indicating to Sherlock that they should just ask Moriarty about Hermione, but for some reason Sherlock shook his head.
"Well, I suppose I'd better be off, boys. Ta-ta for n– "
"Wait!" John blurted. "What do you know about Hermione? How is she so different?"
Sherlock cast an annoyed look at John while Moriarty exhaled loudly. "I would tell you, really I would, but it's much more entertaining to know that the great Sherlock Holmes is utterly clueless about someone like Hermione sharing the same roof as him."
"We don't need your help," Sherlock insisted.
"If you say so. Happy hunting, boys!" Moriarty sang then the line went dead.
Sherlock threw the phone aside in annoyance and held out his hand again. "Your top. Now."
The door being opened with a bang startled John from his slumber.
"So this is where you go to find your answers?" a somewhat patronizing voice asked.
John gently massaged the back of his neck and looked blearily over at Mycroft.
"Go away," Sherlock muttered, not looking up from the computer screen that he was working on.
"You do realise that you've been in this lab for five days," Mycroft said, ignoring Sherlock's request.
John frowned. "It hasn't been five…" he looked down at his watch and made some calculations. "Oh." He tried to discreetly smell himself but Mycroft noticed.
"Yes, the polite word for the stench in this room would be overpowering," he commented.
"Well that explains why Molly hasn't been in for a while," John muttered, running a hand over his stubbly cheek. He got stiffly from his seat and stretched his arms. "Are you here to put us out of our misery about Hermione then?"
"Don't be naïve, John," Sherlock said, still staring at the computer.
John looked at Mycroft in disappointment. "You're not serious. She zips us halfway across London in a heartbeat and you're not going to tell us how?"
Mycroft regarded John for a moment. "And what would be the point?"
John opened his mouth to argue but Sherlock interrupted him.
"I'm not letting this go so feel free to make all the threats you like."
"I could have you arrested," Mycroft stated coming to stand closer to his brother. "You handed over highly confidential plans to an incredibly dangerous criminal."
"Why haven't you arrested me then?" Sherlock countered as he tapped on the computer's keyboard. "Is it because you'd have to explain how John, Hermione and I escaped from the swimming pool?"
Mycroft pursed his lips in annoyance.
"You'll never find her," he said in response.
"Who says I want to find her," Sherlock muttered.
"Is she all right?" John asked Mycroft. "Just tell us that."
Mycroft paused for a moment, possibly considering whether it was best to say anything or not. "She's alive and well as far as I know," he said eventually. "Back where she belongs."
"And where would that be?" John queried.
Mycroft smiled mysteriously at him but turned back to Sherlock. "You're wasting your time, brother. Even if the computer does produce something of interest it will be like having one tiny tile of a mosaic and you'll be completely unaware of the whole picture."
"Just how many people like Hermione are we talking about here?" Sherlock enquired nonchalantly. "Just so I know how big the gene pool is."
"Gene pool?" Mycroft repeated.
"Yes, there must be something different about her genetic makeup if you expect there to be a result from my tests," Sherlock replied. "Moriarty mentioned that she was special even amongst her 'own people' so I'm guessing there must be more than the two others that I already know about. That being said, the genetic mutation can't be too common otherwise it would be more widely known about."
Mycroft looked at his brother coldly but said nothing.
"So, she's like one of the X-men," John said, causing the brothers to look at him somewhat disparagingly. "Sorry, that's what I think of when someone mentions something about mutants, oh, and ninja turtles."
"Well she's not a reptilian ninja," Mycroft replied acidly.
"No, but she's seen her fair share of dangerous situations," Sherlock said. "The Chinese tong, the Golem, Moriarty – she kept a cool head through them all. Then there's her arm."
"The one Moriarty cut up?" John asked.
"No, the other one; a word had been carved into it before Moriarty. That's probably where he got the idea from."
"What word was it?" John enquired curiously.
"Mudblood," Sherlock replied, "I'm unsure of its precise meaning but it's almost certainly an insult. So if she didn't do it to herself then she's got enemies of her own who seem to think that her blood is dirty in some way."
"People who know she's got this mutation?" John asked.
"Most likely," Sherlock agreed and turned to his brother. "Are there any secret government facilities that engineer genetically different humans, put them in dangerous scenarios and allow their subjects to get tortured?"
"No," Mycroft answered icily.
Sherlock looked at his brother thoughtfully. "Moriarty claimed that Hermione's death would be a diplomatic incident."
"Did he?" Mycroft replied, looking bored.
"Yes, diplomatic," Sherlock stressed, "not constitutional, political, bureaucratic or anything pertaining to government. It made it sound like she was of international interest."
"But she doesn't sound foreign," John pointed out.
"Exactly, John," Sherlock stated, watching his brother closely.
John furrowed his brow in confusion. "So she's not from another country."
"Unlikely," Sherlock shrugged.
"You have no idea what you're talking about," Mycroft scoffed. "It's all hunches and guesses."
"Deductions," Sherlock clarified.
John was still struggling to understand what Sherlock had meant about the significance of diplomacy. "So Moriarty wasn't talking about dealing with the British government if Hermione died."
"Apparently not," Sherlock agreed.
"But… you mean he was talking about a completely different administration that still operates in this country?" John asked in disbelief.
Mycroft sighed noisily as John and Sherlock watched him closely. "This is pointless. Go home, Sherlock."
"Jesus," John gasped. "Are you serious? There's a whole secret society operating in Britain. How is that even possible?"
Mycroft ducked underneath the bench of the lab, much to John and Sherlock's confusion.
"What are you… Mycroft!" Sherlock barked, staring in dismay at his computer screen. John leaned forward to see that it was blank.
"I want all the samples you have of her DNA and I'm confiscating this." Mycroft stood, looking ridiculous as he hefted the computer tower in his arms.
"Do you honestly think that's going to stop me?" Sherlock snarled. "She's left DNA all over our flat."
"Good luck finding it," Mycroft replied airily. "Now, get me the samples."
Sherlock turned suddenly to look at John. "What did you say?"
John raised his eyebrows. "I didn't say anything."
"Earlier, you said something," Sherlock pointed.
"I've said lots of things," John replied in annoyance. "How am I supposed to remember one thing in particular?"
"Jesus," Sherlock said simply.
John shook his head. "Excuse me?"
"You said 'Jesus' earlier."
"She said 'Merlin'," Sherlock pointed out.
"Who did?" John asked, completely confused.
"Sherlock, the DNA. Now," ordered Mycroft.
"Hermione did when Moriarty sent her that stalker-song," Sherlock explained.
"Does it matter?" John wondered, worried that his friend had lost the plot.
"Why did she say Merlin and not Jesus or something of that ilk?" Sherlock asked no one in particular.
"Maybe that's what young people say nowadays," John suggested weakly.
"The words we curse with are indications of our culture, our society," Sherlock said softly, ignoring John's comment and turning slowly to face Mycroft.
"Don't be ridiculous, Sherlock," Mycroft scoffed.
John, as ever, felt like he was a few sentences behind the other two.
"It's true, isn't it?" Sherlock breathed, a look of wonder on his face. "It's the only explanation that makes even the slightest bit of sense…How long have you known about this?" he asked his brother in an accusatory tone.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Mycroft retorted taking a step back.
"Anyone mind filling me in?" John asked crossly.
"Merlin, John. Merlin," Sherlock stressed turning to him.
John shrugged. "Yeah, the wizard, so wha-" He paused. "No." He shook his head slightly and pointed at Sherlock who was smiling. "You're not… you can't be…"
Sherlock nodded. "Magic."
THE PERSONAL BLOG OF Dr. John H. Watson
YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE
And so do we now. That sounds vaguely threatening, doesn't it? Well it's not meant to. Look, I know why you didn't tell us and why we haven't seen you since. Given who he is, it can't come as a surprise that Sherlock was determined to find the answer. If it makes you feel any better it's all Mycroft's fault – if he hadn't tried to interfere, Sherlock probably wouldn't have made all the links. I still find it incredible and part of me thinks this is some weird dream but it all makes a strange sort of sense. I just want to say that it doesn't change anything about how I think of you (that sounds very mushy, sorry). We both want to thank you for saving our lives. I don't know if I'll ever see you again, that's completely up to you. Just remember that if you ever need us we'll be here.
A/N COMPLETE! Done! So, I kept it pretty quiet that this was going to be the last installment of this fic. But fear not (and hide away those pitchforks) because a sequel, Murder at Hogwarts, is in the works! I had originally planned to just keep on going but at this point I think I can draw a line under everything that has happened, ready to start the next phase in Hermione's friendship with John and Sherlock. I probably won't start posting the sequel until it is all written. I'm estimating that it will be about the same length as this story but as I've only written the first two chapters there's going to be a few months to wait.
Thank you all again for the support you've shown this story. It has definitely been one of my favourites.
Lots of love,
Lil Drop of Magic