Epilogue...

"I knew it was Stapleton from the start, of course."

"From that insignificant bit of grass, I presume," I replied, dropping into my armchair with a sigh of utter contentedness and for the first time in many days, we sat together once more as friends.

"You presume correctly," he replied, eyes dancing with more than mere approval at my deduction. "Though it was hardly insignificant," Holmes remonstrated a moment later. "Its singular features and the composition of the plant it came from pointed very distinctly to it originating in Devonshire and more specifically, the Grimpen Mires. Insignificance is in the eye of the beholder."

I laughed and I knew by the slight change in his countenance that he was glad to hear it. The understanding of his habits and ways of speech, which had been so lost to me, were once more reinstated and I planned to laugh at him still further.

"Holmes, don't you think that this time around, perhaps it was not wholly wise to keep your very significant deductions to yourself? The situation was quite dramatic in itself without you adding to it."

"That was not my intention at all," Holmes sniffed, only slightly affecting an air of offense at this picture of himself.

"And what pray tell was your intention?" I questioned bemusedly.

"There was no easy way to explain that our previous association had brought us in contact with a shrewd and unscrupulous murderer whose revenge upon me had most likely fallen to you by proxy. I did not wish to impart you with any further anxiety."

What Holmes was trying to say was that no one in their right mind would trust a man who was responsible for sending murderers at their door and Holmes feared that by revealing the cause of the amnesia being the result of my association with him, I would immediate seek to sever that connection.

"Given my condition, lying to me was not the best way to engender trust, Holmes," I said, though not without warmth.

"I was doing the best I could, given the circumstances," Holmes replied, his expression darkening.

This experience had left a shared pain between the two of us and it was hard to shake off so soon after its climax. Holmes chose to employ his talent for changing the subject and although it was as abrupt as ever it was not unwelcome.

"It was Stapleton's predictable aliases and perhaps his conceit in forming them that allowed me to so easily track him and with it, the odd vein of his obsession with the Old Religions. Norse mythology mostly, with some tokens of druid traditions. During the course of my research, the Cuimhne quickly caught my notice and perhaps where Stapleton misinterpreted, I was able to discern in no small part to my witnessing its affect on you. Your memories being so completely gone without injury or mental trauma…" he trailed off, staring hard into the fire.

"It's shocking to think that under different circumstances, we might not have been friends at all," I said.

Holmes smiled and shook his head, grey eyes rising once more to meet mine. "It would be shocking, if at the last moment you had not opened the book with only my word to go on. In the end, you chose to side with me even though you had no earthly reason to do so. If that does not make us friends, I have no inkling as to what would."

"Perhaps it is giving someone the choice to walk away from you, even if the result would cause you unimaginable pain." Our eyes locked for a moment, as they so often did, and all the thanks we could possibly want were conveyed through them. "At any rate, our friendship seems to be built on a much stronger foundation than mere memories."

I thought for a moment Holmes would scoff at my romanticism. Instead he tipped his chin up in mild consideration before uttering a single phrase that was as smooth as a french lullaby, but with the gravity of a much older language.

"Ni ceart go cur le cheile."

The words were completely foreign to me, but they rang true all the same.

There is no strength without unity.


A/N: All the headers and the above phrase are in Gaelic, the language that inspired Tolkien's elvish.

So we didn't win the Challenge 012 competition, but we put forth a very good effort and are very proud of the outcome of this collab. Beware our future works together.