Hermione sat on her bed in her room in Baker Street, eyeing its quaint Victorian décor, and feeling a little odd that it was decorated in blue. Her seven years at Hogwarts had been in tones of red for living space, naturally, and her room at Lothlorien had been decorated in silvers and white. Still, she shrugged and finished unpacking, sipping a cup of tea she had requested from Mrs. Hudson in the kitchen and sitting on the bed, inviting Crookshanks to sit down on her lap. She picked up the massive volume concerning Sherlock Holmes' adventures and began to read.
Not the tome she had read as a girl in the Muggle world, though. Naturally, Watson had been required to heavily edit the real story so that the Muggle Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could publish the stories for eager Muggle audiences. The magical version was twice as exciting and vivid. She had been amazed at how much Muggles missed out on. Many of Watson's triumphs and invaluable aid to Holmes had been magical, for instance, and as such had been excised, making the mediwizard seem rather bumbling. So many of the tales that Watson had claimed to not be able to reveal were here: she was quite amused by the tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra.
Crookshanks meowed, So what did he have to say? As soon as she had settled in, Holmes had sent for her for a "chat" in his office. It had turned out that Snape had sent him a message recounting her previous experiences with the practical side of fighting the Dark Arts. Those keen grey eyes had turned on her as Holmes had said in his upper-class drawl, "So, Miss Granger, you have experience already. Peregrine falcon, is it? I assume you have not had opportunity to exercise your abilities during your stay at Lothlorien. Degree in Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts, mm?" She had felt like Ravenclaw's most famous alumnus could see right through her with that brilliant mind, and that wasn't a particularly comfortable position, especially since his expression gave away nothing of what he was driving at.
She left, a bit uncertain of what Holmes was trying to get at. Did he merely want to acknowledge his knowing of her spying, or to warn her to not think to break the rules at Baker Street? She didn't think Snape would have written his old Potions Master to rat her out, so she hoped it was merely the former.
There was a knock on the door, and she hastily put the book aside and shouted for whomever it was to come in. An elderly woman in green and gold robes sauntered in, and studied Hermione. "You're Miss Granger?" she spoke, and her accent was clearly the twang of an American. "Oh dear…has Sherlock gone off and scared the living daylights out of you?" she sighed. "I tell him that he's a hundred and forty-six--plenty of time to have developed some people skills!" She sounded so rueful that Hermione couldn't help but laugh.
"Mrs. Holmes, I presume." Known to the Muggle world at large as the notorious Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes. The magical version of "A Scandal in Bohemia" had actually been titled, "A Superior Woman", and concerned the years after Irene's flight from England as well as the initial tale of Holmes and Irene crossing foils. Apparently Godfrey Norton, the Muggle barrister, was merely a friend who had thought it a jolly good lark to pull the wool over the King of Bohemia's eyes, and if tricking Sherlock Holmes was in the deal, all the more fun. The two had sailed for America, faking their deaths so that the King wouldn't seek Irene out further, thus prompting Watson in the Muggle version to refer to her as the "late" Irene Adler.
In New York, they had parted ways, Irene to the wizarding world, Godfrey to Muggle Boston, annulling their marriage. He had acquired a license for the American bar and lived out his days happily in America, his daughter being magical and attending the Salem Institute of Magics, where Irene had spent her days of magical training.
When Holmes had retreated to the wizarding world to hide from Moriarty's thugs following the Dark wizard's death, he had not followed the path through Tibet and the like that Watson recounted in "The Empty House". Instead he had gone to wizarding America, and had by chance encountered Irene in Minneapolis in 1893.
Watson wrote of being called to witness their wedding in Chicago later that year, prompting of course a complete rewrite of feigning surprise at Holmes' reappearance in Muggle London in 1894. Still, a hundred and seven years of marriage later, Sherlock and Irene Holmes were still blissfully happy.
Irene Holmes smiled at her and acknowledged the correct identification, adding wryly, "Though please don't follow that with 'I perceive you have been in Paris of late' or something of the like. Sherlock's altogether too fond of those little games still."
Hermione laughed again, looking forward to Charms lessons, since she taught them. Headmaster Holmes taught Potions, naturally. "No, he didn't frighten me, though I was wondering a bit why he did such a thing…"
"Tacit approval, most likely. He'll also probably want to have you develop your abilities further--an Animagus and spy is invaluable, and though Severus," she spoke of him fondly as though he was still the boy she had taught twenty-five years earlier in Charms, "has taught you well, there's always more to learn."
"Thank you, ma'am," she said. "I'd appreciate it…"
The Deputy Headmistress handed her a chit of paper. "Your schedule…naturally, classes are small, anywhere from six to ten, so that you can receive direct attention. These are dark times, Miss Granger; you know that, and young Aurors need all the help and guidance they can get."
Hermione nodded and looked down at the schedule. This term, she had classes in Potions, Charms and Hexes, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Mediwizardry, and Illusions. A full schedule, she thought. But they seem to think me up to it. With that, she reached in her trunk and fished out the textbook for Illusions that she had bought at Flourish and Blotts, eagerly beginning to read on the new subject. Classes started tomorrow, after all.
Irene went into Holmes' office, eyeing her husband sitting calmly over a stack of resumes for a new teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts following that year--Professor Quentin Stanhope was retiring.
"Really, Sherlock," she reprimanded. "I think you frightened her half to death."
"Ha!" he barked, looking up with a gleam of merriment in his clear grey eyes. "Not if she's a Gryffindor and worth half what young Severus says."
"He seems quite fond of her," she replied, reaching for the letter his falcon Tosca had delivered two days ago. She was quite amused by the big white gyrfalcon, being a former opera singer herself. She quickly reread the letter, pausing at one particular line.
Watch after her, Snape requested. She's skilled, but you know how reckless Gryffindors can be, and it'd be a shame to lose her. From anyone else, it would be an innocuous statement. From a man both she and Sherlock regretted not saving from the darkness years before, it was practically shouting out to be noticed.
"He cares for her, I think," she said carefully.
"Mm," he agreed, handing her a resume. "Be good for him, if you ask me. Not good for a fellow to be alone."
Irene hid a smile at that, remembering how hard a time it had been to get him to admit to that. He had buried his feelings for years, tried to seem cold and hard, afraid that any emotion would dull his great intellect and skill. It had taken her awhile after they met in America to get him to admit to feeling anything but professional admiration for her triumph over him. They had gone to the World's Fair in Chicago, she remembered, and whether it was the giddy and carefree atmosphere or just surrender after almost forty years of denying a part of himself, he had suddenly kissed her. As though a dam had burst and he realized that loving her wouldn't be the death of him, he didn't really bother to hide himself from her after, and they were married a month later.
Think about the girl, she sharply commanded herself. That was long ago--there's the here and now to think of. Now was perhaps not the best time for a romance between Hermione and Severus: times being that they were. Even the normal wizarding folk didn't know if they'd live to see another day, and high-risk personalities like herself, Sherlock, Dumbledore, and the Aurors and spies, had the risk of death multiplied exponentially.
She sighed to remember November of 1981, when the magical world was rejoicing over Voldemort's defeat. But Sherlock had merely looked at her, wearily shaking his head and looking for a moment every one of his hundred and thirty-seven years. "He's out there, Rene…I knew Moriarty was gone; Rasputin and Grindelwald too. I don't feel it now." They had begun the Academy next fall in preparation, and his prediction had come true fourteen years later.
She put Snape's letter back down on the desk as he reached idly for the Persian slipper containing his tobacco, lighting his briarroot pipe. "Well, we'll look after her," he finally said. "What Snape does about her once we've got her trained and ready for the war is his own business." He allowed himself a slight smile. "Though when this ends, if he's still trying to deny it, I might slip him some Veritaserum. What do you say?" She smiled a little at his optimism, but inside she knew he was as troubled as she was. If we all survive, she thought wearily.
A quick A/N here to all Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell fans...
I appreciate your view, but I'm getting a bit tired of the reviews and e-mails squawking indignation that I paired Irene Adler with him instead of Russell. I've received something like ten thus far and I'm getting a bit annoyed at being told that I'm virtually committing heresy.
I've read Mary Russell and don't think she's Holmes' true match at all. I loved "Beekeeper", but was disgusted with "Monstrous Regiment" and everything thereafter. To me, they work much, much better as friends and partners than lovers—the chemistry just isn't there, and she's in many ways his complete antithesis.
Irene Adler, with Holmes' open admiration for her and her wit to equally match his, is, to me, a far better match for him, and the one Doyle himself would have written, had he allowed Sherlock to love. As this is the hinted canon Holmes romance, I think I have justification in writing it rather than firmly fanon Mary.
I thank you for the reviews, but please, review my story overall instead of focusing on one tiny detail of secondary characters in one chapter. Were this a Holmes story, I'd understand it better, but it's Severus Snape and Hermione Granger. That said, please enjoy the story!