It all started with Baskervilles and its damned hound.
Sherlock had seen the dog get shot dead. So, logically, there should be no hound stalking the moors of Dartmoor anymore. Especially since the hound was really the H.O.U.N.D. and not an actual, massive hound.
Everything was solved and done, so they could go home and John could blog it.
"John, do you see that?"
One last time, looking over the field as the sun set, Sherlock gazed into the near distance. He was free of the drug already, he was absolutely certain. The next train was an hour away and he had wanted to come here if only to bask in his triumph. John, of course, indulged him.
"See what, Sherlock?" The ex-army doctor asked from his position at the bottom of the rock Sherlock had perched himself on.
"That, John, that," came the slightly frustrated response. The consulting detective stretched out an arm at the middle of the moor and John, obligingly, looked through his binoculars. "The dog's dead, the drug shouldn't have such an effect anymore even if it's in our systems, so what is that!" Sherlock's voice had gone to that tone he used when he was thinking hard but couldn't seem to get to a conclusion immediately, and for good reason.
John's breath hitched as his eyes alighted on a large, black mass in the middle of the moor. A dog, one who's size couldn't be determined from such a distance, but a dog nonetheless. A black, shaggy dog which, as it turned, bared its teeth, eyes gleaming red in the setting sun.
The Hound of Baskerville.
It turned and John heard a thump. His head snapped around to see Sherlock running off (again) towards the direction the dog was in.
"Sherlock, where are you going?" John called out to his friend.
"To catch that bloody dog, John!" Came the answer and John could've sworn he heard a quaver in the detective's voice. John sighed. Sherlock was being irrational. He must be. You know, for once?
"Don't you think it might have just been a normal dog?" John called out. Sure, it bore resemblance to the hallucinations, but they were over. Sherlock is rarely ever wrong (only very, very occasionally) and the doctor doubts he's gotten the case wrong this time. His words, surprisingly, made Sherlock come to an abrupt halt.
"Yes, you're right, what was I thinking? Mystery solved. Yes, now, let's go. We're going to miss the train, John!"
John shook his head and smiled as Sherlock turned sharply and made his way back to the town. Sherlock must have seriously gotten a fright from the whole thing if this was affecting him this way. He knew he shouldn't revel in Sherlock's obvious unease, but he couldn't help but smile at how human it made the self-proclaimed sociopath. He turned, only to realize that Sherlock had gotten far ahead of him, and quickly jogged to catch up.
"Wait up, Sherlock!" He called, casting a glance behind him.
The dog was gone and the incident quickly faded from his mind.
Of course, neither noticed the curious grey-eyed man who had decided to follow them away from the moor. Muggles couldn't see through disillusionment charms, after all.
A bark was what startled John Hamish Watson awake as he dozed on the train. A dog was sat at his feet, tongue lolling out cutely and head tilted. It was black and shaggy with soul-searching grey eyes and it was currently in a staring contest with an uneasy Sherlock. John couldn't help the grin that crept onto his face at the look on Sherlock's face. It was somewhere between haughtiness, disgust and worry.
"John, why is this dog staring at me?"
The huff of laughter he couldn't contain made Sherlock glare at him. He cleared his throat.
"I think it's hungry, Sherlock," the doctor managed, smiling pleasantly. The dog barked, as if in agreement, stood and turned on the spot before sitting again and barking once.
"Shoo," was Sherlock's reply as he waved a hand in the direction of the dog. It appeared that Sherlock had developed an aversion to dogs. The dog, of course, didn't move. "I don't have food, you stupid mutt. Can't you tell? Oh god, I'm talking to an animal, what is wrong with me?" The detective buried his head in his hands as the black dog let out a long, mournful whine and dropped to the floor, staring at them sorrowfully behind its forepaws.
The sight tugged on John's heartstrings and he rummaged through his pockets but was only able to find a Kit Kat bar. "Well," he murmured, "Unless I want to kill it I won't be giving this to it." However, the dog quickly jumped up and snatched the chocolate treat away before running down the aisle. John jumped up after it, but the dog had somehow disappeared from the aisle.
"Don't bother, John. If the mutt is too stupid to realize chocolate will kill it, then it's not worth the trouble," the consulting detective commented, inconsiderate as always.
John blinked, shaking his head. "No, the dog, it's gone."
"Must have gone back to its owner then. Strays wouldn't be able to get on the train." Sherlock seemed wholly disinterested and John decided that it was the only feasible solution so he sat again.
He frowned a little. That dog seemed to have something more human shining in its eyes.
Sherlock, on the other hand, wondered who would keep such a dirty dog and why its eyes were grey.
They never realized that a carriage down, a shaggy black-haired man was enjoying the Kit Kat bar he had absconded with.
Sherlock startled at the bark, turning his head to see a large, shaggy black dog with grey eyes staring at him. His eyes narrowed. He recognized this dog.
"You were the dog on the train. I have never seen a dog with grey eyes before..." he muttered to himself before scoffing. "Talking to a dog, again!"
A bark was his reply. Sherlock blinked at the dog, wanting to, for some reason, talk to it.
"I will be committing suicide today," he stated, kneeling down. The dog sniffed at him as he held out a hand. He was going crazy, talking to an animal, but then again he did confide in his skull, or used to before John came around. "Well, not exactly, but close enough."
The dog whined slightly before licking his palm. Sherlock grimaced but didn't pull away. "I have been discredited, my arch-enemy has managed to get the better of me," he mused out loud instead, hesitantly scratching the dog behind the ears. The dog huffed in pleasure, shuffling closer and nuzzling the tall man. Sherlock frowned, but let it come into his personal space. "I've never thought of reputation as something important, never cared to keep up appearances, so to speak..." he murmured, "And now it looks like I really should have thought more of it. Everyone thinks me a killer... except John, of course. The man's just as loyal as a dog."
The dog gave a soft whine of sorrow and Sherlock smirked.
"Don't try and act smarter than you really are, mutt. Though I suppose if you are acting, then you could be called abnormally smart for a dog..."
The dog growled before nuzzling at his hand again.
"Fine then, I won't call you 'mutt'," Sherlock grinned at the dog's apparent irritation before scowling. Where on earth did that come from?
The dog barked in amusement (amusement?) at his confusion, making the dark-haired man scowl further and pull away.
"Well, I suppose this is goodbye, though I've no idea why I'd bid farewell to a dog... of all the ridiculous things..." Sherlock turned to walk away, but a tugging at his trouser leg stopped him. He turned his head to look at the dog biting his trouser leg. The mutt was looking up at him with wide, sorrowful eyes which unnerved and delighted Sherlock all at once. He couldn't believe he thought a dog was sympathetic to his plight. It was even more unbelievable that he was actually comforted by the thought.
After a while of staring, the dog let go and gave a quiet 'woof'. Sherlock guessed that that was goodbye and turned, walking towards St. Barts hospital. He had a criminal mastermind to meet with and there was no time to be thinking about the illogicalness of the dog.
He never saw the dog turn into a man who watched him walk away with sympathy in his grey eyes.
The cemetery, Sherlock's grave, it was as deserted as ever. John was alone in his excursions here, mourning, grieving, disbelieving. Too many people were all for the Just World Hypothesis and he felt alone in his support of Sherlock, despite the many others who posted words of comfort on his blog.
It was foggy that day. Drab, damp and dull. Not to mention somewhat creepy, being in a cemetery.
Movement caught his eye and he quickly looked around, hand going for his sig. A large, black mass was moving there, in the fog, coming towards him. It padded soundlessly across the grass, getting closer, larger. John whipped out his gun, pointing it at the dark mass. His hands were trembling slightly. It was a... a hound.
It brought back memories... Memories of a hound and Sherlock drugging him, attempting to drug him, and the scientific experiments... Hallucinations and frustrations.
His eyes closed for a moment at the feeling of half-closed wounds opening back up, but a bark brought his attention to the present again. A large, shaggy black dog with familiar grey eyes. Where had he seen it before...? Oh yes, on the train, where it stole a Kit Kat bar. Or, at least, he thought it's the same one. The one that got into a staring contest... with Sherlock.
He knelt down as he dog tilted its head cutely at him, tongue lolling out just like on that train.
"I guess you didn't eat the chocolate then, since you're not dead," John murmured, reaching a hand out to pet the dog. The dog nuzzled closer while giving John a look. Like those looks Sherlock gave people when he felt they were being stupid. God, John thought, shaking his head, I'm comparing Sherlock to a dog now. "So how've you been?"
The dog barked and panted happily as John scratched it behind the ear.
"Good, huh? So, I guess... Sherlock was wrong about you. You are a stray."
Another bark in what seemed like affirmation.
John chuckled. "He wasn't wrong often..." His smile slipped from his face. The dog nuzzled him and whined, looking at him with sad, understanding eyes. John smiled. "Well, thanks for trying to comfort me. You sure are one smart dog." The dog gave a huff and tossed its head proudly.
He thought of his therapist who had said a pet might just do him good.
"You want food, boy?" John asked, scratching the dog behind the ears again. The dog barked happily. "Come on, then." The doctor wasn't sure why, but he felt like the dog understood him and would follow. And follow it did.
A month later, John had fully settled into life with the dog. However, the dog had rejected every name he came up with so far, sniffing disdainfully or growling whenever he suggested something. John had washed it, – him – the dog being surprisingly obedient. He had gotten the dog groomed and fed and watered and he seemed to really like John. The company made him a lot less lonely.
Sometimes, he'd ramble to the dog as if it understood him.
About his life in general.
The dog would listen attentively.
"What about Wishthound?" John asked one day out of the blue. The dog certainly reminded him of a Wishthound from the legends with its black fur and pale eyes and once-upon-a-time emaciated frame. The dog tilted its head before huffing. Not good enough, eh? This dog certainly had high standards. But it was a better reaction than he had gotten from the rest. He looked up alternate named for the Wishthounds. "Striker?" No. "Barguist?" Nope. "Barguest?" No way. "Um, Jack?" Are you crazy? "Padfoot?"
The dog jumped up with a delighted bark, apparently satisfied.
John chuckled, now well used to the dog's – Padfoot's – seemingly human intelligence. "Looks like you really like that name. Does it mean anything special to you?"
Padfoot barked. John wasn't really sure what it meant, but he took it as a yes.
"Was it the name you were given by your previous owner?" Because if the name meant something, it must have been given to him by its previous owner. A dog can't name itself. Can it?
Of course not.
Sherlock wasn't dead. He wasn't dead. John couldn't believe it. Well, he could, the proof was right there before his eyes.
He was furious.
Two entire years of believing Sherlock dead, of grieving, of accepting and moving on.
Padfoot jumped up when John entered the flat, padding over on silent feet and whining in curiosity. His head was tilted cutely and John felt himself deflate a little at the sight, calming down. He smiled at the dog. Padfoot had been a great companion while Sherlock was... absent. Padfoot had even helped play matchmaker (somehow) for him and Mary. The dog had easily won Mary over with his wide grey eyes and adorable habbits.
Padfoot was an amazing dog and John couldn't find it in him to stay angry in Padfoot's presence.
"Let's go for a walk, yeah, boy?" John asked, ruffling Padfoot's fur. Padfoot barked in excited agreement, trotting over to where his leash was kept and handing the leash to John to clip onto his collar.
Padfoot was an amazingly well-behaved dog and walking Padfoot would probably calm him.
It was a pleasant day to be taking a walk. The sky was blue and the sun was up. A rarity, really, to have so little clouds in the sky. It wasn't exactly warm, what with being in November, but not as cold as it could've been. Padfoot trotted ahead of John, occasionally sniffing at things he found interesting.
Suddenly, Padfoot froze, ears perking up and, at the same time, John felt movement from behind him. He dodged out of the way from the man that had attacked him with bat. Padfoot growled and leaped, but a bang sounded and the dog fell to the ground, shot.
"Padf-!" John didn't even get to finish the concerned cry as someone grabbed him from behind and covered his nose with a cloth. He struggled, but was unable to get free as two others came and helped grab him.
His vision faded to black with the sounds of Padfoot whimpering weakly in the background.
He could feel his blood draining from his body. Damn were muggles deadly. He couldn't even transform, being in so much pain. Not that he would have been able to heal himself, anyways, since he had stored his wand away in a secure place.
He whimpered pathetically. After only meeting his beloved godson a few times, he had been cruelly ripped away from him and now, after finding a companion like John Waston and coming to like the man's company, he would once again be taken from what mattered to him. This time, by death.
Was all the good in his life destined to end painfully and terribly?
Azkaban flashed through his mind. The First Wizarding War came next. His duel with Bellatrix and the freezing sensation of going through the veil was after that. He had woken up in a town and, after blending in, he had heard of stories of a Black Dog terrorizing the place. Or well, attracting attention to the place. And then he had seen Sherlock Holmes and John Watson who had apparently solved the mystery of the hound. He had heard of someone talking about their exploits with glee and gotten curious, following them to London.
It was there that he found out that the Wizarding World didn't exist. Lost and confused, he had wandered around as a stray, staying away from people, who'd probably take him to the pound. He read discarded newspapers and found out more about Holmes and Watson. The more he read, the more he sympathised. They were like him and Harry, in a way. More Harry than him and more Holmes than Watson. Names dragged through the mud, despite only ever helping others. Sure, they were a bit odd, Holmes especially, but not as odd as some wizards and witches.
And this Moriarty guy, Richard Brooke, whoever. It was like people didn't want him to exist so they just went and blamed Holmes for it all.
At least they weren't as bad as the Wizarding World in their blind beliefs.
Then he had actually had a conversation with Holmes (sort of) and then developed a bond with Watson – John. He had been content, happy even. And now it was all going to be ripped away again. Just like James and Remus and Lilly were ripped away from him. Just like Harry.
His sight was dimming and his last thought was of Harry, the godson he never got a proper chance to know.