Author's Note:

Here it is, at last! After a year of frustration, elation, and all around life, here is the final installment of Mortality! (And only the third time I've ever completed a multi-chaptered fanfic...)

Many thanks to everyone who has favorited, subscribed to, and/or reviewed this story! Your encouragement has really gotten me through the past year—you have no idea just how far it's gone. And right now I'd like to give some special Shout-Outs/Acknowledgments…

…to aragonite, because without her epic A Sword for Defense series, I wouldn't have been inspired and challenged to write my own.

…to MadameGiry25, for being a constant encouragement and a huge help from beginning to end.

…to Riandra, for, well, A Study in Regret, Skype, and all those virtual hugs!

…to Historian1912, Ennui Enigma, and Ranger-Nova for being such faithful and fantastic reviewers!

…to Azolean, for the flood of magnificent reviews that came at just the right time to help me get back into Sherlockiana fulltime!

To my reviewers (I intend to answer reviews for this installment via PMs):

Historian1912: Ah, I don't know. Cheery stories have a hard time finding me. Ah, well… Thanks so much! =) I am indeed leading up to "The Final Problem," which is where I've wanted to be all along. The next book will pick right up from where this one leaves off, so no worries! Ah, poor Mycroft and Sherlock—they're both only doing what they believe they need to do. I know what you mean, though: they can make me wince, sometimes. Oh yes, the scene between Mycroft and Moriarty is indeed one that's best suited to cinema, but I'm glad you find it still works—one of my favorite bits, that. Ah, the letters! So glad you enjoyed them and practically heard Brett!Holmes's voice, squeee! I myself tend towards hearing younger!Brett as my Holmes, but every now and then, older!Brett does bleed through. Aw, so glad you've liked this so much! God bless! *hugs*

Peaceful Defender: (Answering your PM, too, since it was previously lost in the triage—sorry about that. *cringes*) Thanks for identifying yourself! =) Argh, don't you just hate it when, for whatever reason, your computer quits on you in the middle of typing something out? Drives me nuts. Ha-ha, you're quite welcome for the "analysis to your review". *grins again* Well, Moriarty's eventual fate ought to be a foregone conclusion, but we'll see what happens to him in the interim. At the very least, it ought to be interesting. Thanks so much for all your support, and, to be honest, I can't wait for the sequel, either!

Ennui Enigma: Thank you very much! I know that it does seem as if Watson let go too easily, and maybe I do have to elaborate a bit the build-up to that. But, as you said, Watson of all people knows what happens when Holmes gets bored—and I think that his acceptance of Holmes's departure is the end result of what he's been through with Holmes in the past couple of weeks, from the rescue on to the present. Watson's been just about as afraid for Holmes's mind as Holmes has been, himself. And, to be honest, Watson surprised me about as much as he surprised Holmes. ;D Very glad you liked the dialogue between the brothers—I really like how it turned out, myself. Eeee, Mycroft and Moriarty! Definitely a lot of subtlety and subtext—glad you liked it. And, yes, I just had to reference the SUSS line—it's one of my favorites. And Watson's little comeback was so much fun to write. In essence, Holmes and Watson already said their goodbyes, and I think that Holmes really couldn't have managed it a second time. I'm positive Watson understands… and I do understand the reader viewpoint: it is disappointing, and rather sad. Thank you so much for everything!

2ndbestdetective: Aw, glad you were excited about being in the "to my reviewers" section! =) You do indeed contribute something—I honestly need all the encouragement I can get! Oh, I can't tell you how happy I am that so many people have enjoyed the scene between Mycroft and Moriarty. I get what you mean about the heart-to-heart—absolutely. I love writing Sherlock as a child or a teenager, or his memories of those times; it's really wonderful to dig into his past like that and show his origins. And one of the themes running through all my Sherlockian fiction is indeed family, biological and honorary, and its importance. Ah, The House of Silk—I thought it was good. There were some discrepancies with the Canon that bothered me, but it did break my heart—and I do tend to love stories that do that. I really enjoyed how Holmes's emotions were fleshed out… I just wish that the author had gone a bit further with that when Holmes is under arrest. But the ending was terrible and wonderful (and yes, I see what you did there ;D). Thanks for everything!

aragonite: Ahhhsqueee, I didn't know you were reading this fic! *beams* Your review really made my day—not only did your work inspire me to start on this series, but… Your attention to historical detail and your mastery at writing our boys in the Yard has really challenged me. All in all, you're the closest thing I have to an idol in this fandom. Okay, now that I've got that out of the way… *blushes* I'm so thrilled you've enjoyed the story so much—and the Mycroft and Moriarty scene! That's just… oo, I love that scene, I really do. Thank you so much!

Azolean: Well, since all your reviews combined have to equal the word count of one of my longer chapters… at least… I'm going to have to answer only your last review right now and save the rest for a PM. ;D But thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. =) I'm really glad that our differing interpretations didn't at all detract from your enjoyment! That's fantastic. "Creativity and talent"… wow. *blushes and grins* Thanks. Ah, I look forward to the published version, too, but I'm afraid it will take a while (see the A/N below). But I'll do my best to move it along! Don't want to lose an enthusiastic audience!

j3ntheninja: Aw, so glad you liked the dream sequence! *is happy* I was certainly trying to "wrap everything up nice and tight," so I'm glad you think I did. Sherlock not saying "always" was, I think, a very important moment for him. *giggles at your cheers for Mycroft and your joke about the letters* I really loved writing those letters—I can't tell you how much I loved writing them. It's funny how "Edward" has gotten so thoroughly fixed in my mind as Sherlock's middle name—no William Sherlock Scott Holmes, thank you very much! ^_^ Thank you so much for everything!

MadameGiry25: Yay, the dream scene again! Okay, I have to say this again: I love writing Sherlock as a boy. I really do. I love showing the bits of him that will mature into the man we know and love. Aw, so glad you liked Cécile so much! =) Nooo, actually, I wasn't going for abrupt in the transition, and, believe me, I'm painfully aware of it. Will have to work on that. Glad you like the envelope scene so much! *beams* "I had to sit back and let it soak in a for a moment before I could summon up any words about it." …darling, you could not possibly have said anything more perfect. *dances* Just… ooo, thank you so much—that's all I can say about your comments on the Mycroft vs. Moriarty scene! Those letters did indeed give me a lot of freedom—if I recall correctly, it was just something I came up with on the spot to wrap it all up. The only wrap-up I could think up, actually. Aw, so glad you loved the P.S. and just the letters, period! Mycroft and Sherlock sounding a bit like their Sherlock selves does really work for me, and I'm glad you agree! Ah, most times, if I'm trying to convey a lot of emotion in a scene, I do have to break away from Doyle's style, 'cos it just doesn't lend itself to much more than strong, even melodramatic, outbursts. *sighs* Anyhoo… Awww, thank you so much!

Ranger-Nova: Aw, donnae fash yerself about reviewin'! (In case you can't translate Scottish English, that means, "don't worry yourself".) ;D I've been very busy myself, lately, and I'm only about to get busier… Glad you enjoyed the chapter so much, and, aww, thanks for the vote of confidence! *hugs* Ah, okay—well, I fiddled around with those links once; I suppose I'll try again. ;D Yay for Classic Doctor Who—I really think you'll enjoy them! And I'm so glad you like Mycroft. Well… think of Mycroft as being harder, more devious, more suave… and I suppose that's Mark Gatiss's Mycroft in a nutshell. D'aw, you just HAVE to get Sherlock on DVD someday! Aw, I know I can count on you, hon, and that means so much to me. I'm so glad you've had so much fun with my story—makes me so happy! God bless, and thank you!

© 2012 by Aleine Skyfire.

All rights reserved.



"I don't say that he can't be beat. But you must give me time—you must give me time!"

—Sherlock Holmes

The year is 1891, and the shadow of the Reichenbach Falls looms over every man, woman, and child engaged in what Scotland Yard will come to call The War That Never Was.

The Detective.

He is the amateur, the gentleman, the civilian who refuses to remain on the sidelines. He possesses a magnificent mind and an even more magnificent heart. He may not be a criminal, but he is one of the most dangerous men in the British Empire. And one of the most endangered. He is only too aware of his peril, for his single goal is to bring down the greatest criminal Britain has ever produced. He cannot see Reichenbach yet, but he knows that his future lies along that path.

The Doctor.

He is the physician who seems to spend more time around the dead than the living. He is the husband oft away from home but loving and much loved, nevertheless. He is the dearest friend of the Detective, who has protested so often that he should not have friends, that he only drags his friends into danger. He saves lives because he wants to do so, and he takes them because he must do so. He is a man of contradictions, this Doctor, and he is beautiful for it. Reichenbach is unthinkable, because he has already grieved once and he cannot conceive being able to survive it a second time.

The Protégé.

He is the boy born within the sound of the Bells, the boy who took up the role of father far too young, the boy who aided a young toff because he wanted to do so. He is the older brother, the leader of several dozen boys who answer to that toff, because the toff treats them like sons. He is the son of the Detective in spirit, and he is more than ready to carry on his father's legacy. Not only is Reichenbach unthinkable—it is an impossibility, for nothing on earth or below it can rip his father away from him like that.

The Brother.

He is the British Government Personified. He is one of the greatest thinkers his people have ever produced. He is also a brother, and he is so very human. His father declared this war against an implacable enemy, long ago, and his younger brother has now picked up the flag. The British Government Personified could stay out of it, for he has enough good men aiding his brother, the Detective. But his brother is all that he has, and he will be damned before he allows his brother to challenge their enemy without him. He can see the shadow of Reichenbach even if he cannot see the shadow's source, and it frightens him.

The Professional.

The "best of professionals," the Detective labels him, and the title is apt. He may not be brilliant, this man, but he is clever and he has experience on his side. He is not a soldier, but he has sworn an oath. He is willing to do what must be done to protect his city, his friends, his family. His stature is small, but his heart could not be larger. He sees the shadow, and he fears it—for all their sakes, but for the Detective, especially. Despite all the differences they have ever had, the Professional loves his amateur colleague like a son, and he dreads the day that the Detective's death might become a reality.

The Spy.

He has been fighting the war long before the Detective was aware of it, recruited by the Detective's own father. The Spy is no less than a diamond, cold and hard and brilliant. He is also little more, for his heart is so tightly encased within that it cannot shine alongside his intellect. He is one of the greatest weapons his side has in this war, as valuable as the Detective himself. While the Detective must fight abroad, the Spy can continue the fight in London. He sees Reichenbach as a possibility only, an outcome of the war gone very wrong. He works to avoid it, but how can one help but work towards the inevitable?

The Professor.

He is the most dangerous man in London, and, indeed, one of the most dangerous men in the world. He is the uncontested ruler of Britain's vast underworld. He is a serpent, cold-blooded and lethal. He is the darkness to the Detective's light, and he hates the man for it. He is now in this war not only for his reign but for his very life, and this only makes him more deadly than ever. He dreads the shadow of Reichenbach because he knows that it will be the only outcome to this war if his enemies continue on their chosen path.

The Colonel.

He is one of the best shots and thus one of the best hunters in the British Empire. He is the tiger chained to the serpent, but this is the life he has chosen and he will not walk away from it. A magnificent soldier, he has never been bested until now, and he hates the Detective all the more for it. He refuses to see Reichenbach as a probability, but he vows that the Detective will die at his hand. If he fails to do so, fails to end this war in his own victory, he has resolved to take his own life rather than to live in shame.

These are the men who define The War That Never Was. From the darkest streets of London's East End to the glittering Himalayas, they have already fought and will continue to fight. There are no battlefields, but there are frontlines. There are guns but no cannons. This is a war fought with words, with ideas, with despair and hope and hatred and love.

Remember this war. While the world marches on the path to self-destruction, brave men and women seek to hold back the rise of corruption from within.

They walk the road to Reichenbach, because no victory ever comes without a price.

To Be Continued


The Road to Reichenbach


September 28, 2012

Author's Note:

I hope that was worth the wait! (And I hope that all this extra info, which is twice the length of the actual epilogue, is also worth it…) Holmes, Watson, Wiggins, Mycroft, Lestrade, Patterson, Moriarty, and Moran—I just had to cover them all! Originally, this wasn't what the epilogue was going to look like. Originally, it was supposed to be set in Paris from Holmes's first-person POV. But I simply didn't have enough information on Paris to make it as atmospheric as I can write Victorian London. After bludgeoning myself over the head for weeks, I fell back on a prologue that I had written for, of all things, a Star Wars fanfic. I took the structure and style of that prologue and Sherlockianized it. ;D

For me, the name Reichenbach is synonymous with what happened there and when. E.g. May 4th, 1891, is simply Reichenbach to me. So are the end of Professor Moriarty's life and the start of the Great Hiatus. That's why I use the name so extensively, here and elsewhere.

Beyond Mortality is now online—it's the collection of missing/extended scenes from this story. Please check it out, do! And stay tuned to my blog ( / / studysherlockiana . blogspot . com).

Now, about The Road to Reichenbach. I've already written the prologue, but I'm still unsure as to how Act I of the book will play out. I don't dare post the prologue until I have at least the first chapter written, hence the target date above. And I do have college this year, and I'm also doing NaNoWriMo—with a dark!Holmes concept as my intended novel (see blog for details). Not to mention the fact that this novel needs to be redrafted and edited and all that fun stuff in preparation for publication—and that will take time. Lots of it.

And Road will take some time to get off the ground, but I promise you that it will be worth it. Until then, keep track of me for bonus material and spoilers on this site, my blog, my deviantART account (aleineskyfire), my Twitter (Gwendolyn Frame), and my brand-new Tumblr (A Study in Sherlockiana).

And thank you once more to everyone who has been on this journey with me! I hope it's been worth it, and I hope you'll join me again for the next one!

Please review!