The Sound of Violins Part 1

A/N: *smiles ashamedly* Guess where the idea for this came from? The Jonas Brothers lyric, "I love the sound of violins/ and making someone smile." But it is not nearly as happy-go-lucky as its namesake song. In fact, this is, like, major angst. I don't know where it all came from; I'm actually pretty happy right now. Will it have a happy ending? Maybe, maybe not… you'll just have to read to find out!

The bed sheets seemed to suffocate me as I tossed and turned beneath them. A thousand different pictures flashed through my sleeping mind: The wheels of a hansom rolling past, the woman, a cane leaning against the doorframe, a seven-per-cent solution lying innocently on the mantle, a bow- a violin-

And suddenly, music. Mendelssohn's Lieder. Strains of a violin floating tantalizingly through the air, and images of its player- first a profile, then a back view, but never from the front. Holmes's head floated in front of me, and though I could see him, I could not see his face. I walked around him, but he turned away each time I got close. I was getting dizzy from walking in circles. So dizzy, so… and then I was falling. It was the cliffs of Reichenbach all over again, except this time was not Holmes that fell, it was I. He reached out for my hand, called my name, and in an instant, we switched places, and it was I reaching out for Holmes's hand and he was falling, falling, falling, dead

I felt Mary's hand on my shoulder startle me awake. My forehead was covered in a sheen of sweat, and my body shook as I sat bolt upright in bed, breathing hard…

"John, what's wrong?" I looked into her eyes and I felt the fleeing edges of my nightmare recede. She understood all in a single glance. "It was the falls again, wasn't it?" I nodded and gulped.

"It's always the same. Always the falls. Even though I didn't see him go over the edge, it is the image that always returns…" I passed a hand over my face in exhaustion, checking my watch. Three A.M. Far too early to be awake. I said to my wife, "Get some sleep, Mary. I need some air." She reached out as if to stop me from getting out of bed, and for a moment my memory flashed and replaced her arm with Holmes's- I shut my eyes quickly and turned away.

"Are you alright, my dear?" I nodded absently as I pulled on my dressing gown. I quickly realized Mary would not be able to see the motion in the dark, and I said aloud,

"Yes. Don't wait up for me. I shall be a while." Though I could hardly see her, I read the confusion in her voice as clear as day.

"Where are you going?" I had grabbed my cane when the memory flashed again. A lonely stick leaning against a doorframe. Ownerless. I almost lost control of my emotions, my voice cracking as I said to her, almost not caring if she understood,

"I'm going back, Mary. I have to. I have to go back." I was out of the door before she could protest.

The lights of the streetlamps flashing by blurred together, all one luminous ribbon floating out the window. When I alighted in front of the familiar door, the wheels of the retreating cab teased another memory from the depths of my dream- The rattle of wheels crossing the cobblestone streets- It was useless to try to keep them out. For so long they had pervaded my unconscious, it seemed logical that they should now spill over into my waking moments as well.

I opened the door of 221 B and stepped inside. All was dark, but I needed no light to tread the well-worn steps up to my- our- old rooms. My hand reached for the knob automatically, and I had to check myself to stop from opening the door. I thought for a moment, and for that fleeting moment, I had a doubt. I had not been back here in almost a year since returning from Reichenbach. Did I really want to do this? Torture myself with the sight of an empty flat? But I wanted it. I wanted waves of memories to wash over me, though utterly sad, it was their bitter sweetness I craved. Steeling myself, I opened the door.

A favorite tune, played on the Stradivarius Holmes always kept in the corner… All was dark in the flat, and I headed, as if bidden by the memory, to the violin. I groped blindly for a moment, stumbling through the flat that was still in a state of perpetual mess from Mrs. Hudson's preservation of it. But when I reached the corner, the violin was not there. I turned on the gas, too frantic to light the oil lamps, and cast about the room. I knew the flat well, and the Stradivarius could be hiding in no other place than the corner where Holmes always kept it. Where was the violin?

A/N: Hey, look! A cliffhanger! I don't know how long this is going to turn out. Certainly seems not to want to be a one-shot.