[identity profile] yawmin.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] catadamon
To Advance an Honest Mind (3/7)
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (book!verse/hints of Granada); crossover with Howl's Moving Castle. Sort of.
Pairing: Eventual H/W
Rating: PG for so much fluff it could be hazardous to small children
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters or universes. And I'm sure ACD and DWJ are happy about that.
Summary: A fanfiction universe mash-up of Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and the Holmes universe. When Mr. John H. Watson meets a consulting detective named Mr. Sherlock Holmes, he finds himself lost within Holmes' strange adventures. Holmes has sacrificed much in his quest, including his own heart. Can Watson help restore what was once lost before it is too late?

Chapter 3
In Which The First Case Comes To An End

It was the sound of a creaking drawer that woke Watson. He quickly realized how long he had been sleeping, as the sky was fully dark now, and the room was filled with the orange glow of the fireplace. His eyes quickly scanned over to Holmes' work desk, where indeed Holmes was taking something out of his desk drawer. Holmes made no acknowledgement of Watson, so the doctor assumed that the detective was unaware he was now awake. In fact, the detective was very deliberately moving as silent as he could. Watson made no movement, and pretended to still be sleeping while watching Holmes with lidded eyes. Holmes removed a small case from the drawer, in which there was a small vial, syringe and a tourniquet. Watson watched as Holmes administered whatever drug it might have been. In fact, he became so distracted, he neglected to remember the papers he had fallen asleep holding. The papers fell to the ground, destroying the silence in the room just as Holmes replaced the syringe back in its case. Without any hesitation, Holmes dropped the case in the open drawer and locked it before turning his attention back to the settee. "Have a good rest, doctor?" Holmes asked, nonchalantly.

"It was..." he replied. Watson stared at the detective for a moment. He attempted to use the same deductive powers he had seen Holmes use that morning on Jabez Wilson. However, the only thing Watson could deduce was that Holmes had indeed attended a concert, but only because of the program that was carelessly thrown on the floor at his feet. "After our adventure through town today, I needed it. How did the rest of your inquiries go?"

"Splendidly," Holmes replied, his eyes unnaturally glowing. "Although the factor that today is Saturday does make the case a bit more difficult." With one fluid motion, Holmes pushed himself off the chair to standing. He pushed out the back of his jacket with a flourish and stuck his hands in his pockets. "Tell me Dr. Watson, have you any arms?"

Watson raised an eyebrow. "I have my old service revolver and a few cartridges, yes. Why?"

"Is it clean?" Holmes asked. He was clearly ignoring the question imposed on himself.

Watson shook his head. "Holmes, yes, but why?"

"To see the end of your first case as my associate, of course! If you would be so kind to bring it with you when we go out this evening. I fear this case may turn for the violent, and I would rather that you be protected."

Now frustrated, Watson replied, "Holmes, I realize that you are capable of reading my mind, but may I remind you that I do not share the same talents! What are you talking about?"

Sighing dramatically, Holmes hung his head. "Really, doctor, I have made the situation quite clear."

Watson let out a snort.

Holmes could not help but laugh at that. "My, my, Watson! You do possess a pawky kind of humor." Watson, however, did not find it all that amusing. His frustrations were making him very red in the face, indeed. As he was about to open his mouth again, no doubt to tell Holmes what he thought of this so-called pawky humor, Holmes put a hand up to quiet him. "And a temper too? Not something I would have expected of an Army doctor."

Now it was Watson's turn to laugh. "Good lord, you are a slithery one! I simply want to know why my revolver will be needed in the solution of a simple prank."

Shrugging his shoulders, Holmes replied, "You will have to join me on my dangerous nocturnal expedition this evening to find out."

Before Watson could reply, there was a knock at the door. Holmes, his grin growing wider, called, "Yes, Mrs. Hudson?" However his marble eyes continued to stare at Watson.

"Mr. Holmes, Mr. Jones of Scotland Yard and his guest have arrived," Mrs. Hudson called through the door.

The detective's eyes did not waver from Watson's face. "Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. Do show them up."

His new acquaintance was quite an eccentric fellow, Watson already knew. But he did not realize just how strange Sherlock Holmes could act until the moment he heard the door click open. It was like a switch within Holmes had been triggered. His attention was now occupied with something else, Watson assumed. He was beginning to think that the consulting detective had a kind of flippant nature– quickly jumping from one thing to another. It would account for the messes he made of both his filing and the floor in the sitting room.

After short greetings, Holmes introduced the two men to Watson. "Gentlemen, this is my new associate Doctor Watson. Doctor Watson, this is Mr. Jones of Scotland Yard."

The officer was a tall, thick man with a plain face, but he had a very large smile which made him seem friendly. Watson instantly liked him. "Nice to meet you, Doctor Watson," Jones said, shaking the Doctor's hand. "I see you have us hunting in couples again, Holmes!" In a loud whisper, he added, "Be careful, Doctor. Our friend here is a wonderful man for starting a chase. All he wants is an old dog to help him to do the running down."

"I hope a wild goose may not prove to be the end of our chase," the other guest said. He was a long, thin, sad-faced man with a shiny hat and an oppressively respectable frock-coat.

Holmes only smiled, but Watson could see it was a pained one. "This is Mr. Merryweather, Doctor Watson," Holmes said in an annoyed tone. "He will also be accompanying us on tonight's adventure."

Mr. Merryweather snorted. "Adventure indeed. This is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I will be missing my game of rubber and–"

"I think you will find," Holmes said, cutting off what promised to be a longer rant from Mr. Merryweather. "That tonight our game's stakes will be much higher. Some £300,000 higher. And for you, Jones, a chance to lay your hands on the criminal John Clay."

The three men continued their conversation for a few minutes while Watson watched feeling absolutely bewildered. What did this John Clay have to do with Mr. Jabez Wilson and the red-headed league? Or £300,000 at that? Mr. Wilson had already informed them of being low on funds, and £300,000 was hardly a small sum. Maybe Holmes has mistaken the case that Watson had been privy to in the morning– yes that would explain it. The way he jumps from one thing to another, it was possible for Holmes to have forgotten all about the odd red-headed league and mistook that Watson was awake of whatever case the detective was trying to solve that night.

His thoughts absorbing him, Watson did not realize that Holmes was calling for him repeatedly until he heard a very sharp, "Watson!"

Watson's attention snapped back to the sitting room, where the three men were now starring at him. He felt his face flush. "Y-yes, Holmes?"

For a second, Watson thought he had seen an amused look on Holmes' face, but it quickly reverted back to Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. "It's almost time for us to depart. If you could kindly fetch your army revolver and put it in your pocket?" Watson nodded. "Good man. Meet us downstairs, if you would."

"Yes, yes," Watson said without thinking. He went up the narrow staircase to his room as he heard the other three gentlemen begin their decent down the seventeen steps to the ground floor. Retrieving the revolver he put it in one of his jacket pockets, and the few cartridges he had left in the other.

There were two cabs parked in front of 221b. One of the carriage doors was open, with Holmes beckoning Watson towards it. As Watson sat down in the cab, Holmes closed his eyes and began to hum softly while tapping the ridding crop in his hand in time with the melody. The detective seemed content in a world of his own melody and completely disinterested in Watson's presence at all. Sighing, Watson turned to the window and watched the buildings pass while occasionally turning to the still humming detective. Holmes, for his part, was beginning to hum louder and louder, until he finally was outright singing. At that point, Watson grumbled aloud, "Well clearly you injected yourself with some sort of stimulant."

Stopping mid-note, Holmes turned to Watson with a large smile. "Oh, so you have decided to stop pretending that you did not see me inject myself."

"I was only trying to be considerate of your privacy," Watson sharply replied. "But yes, I did. I thought you said your only faults were violin playing and isolation."

Shrugging, Holmes said, "Those were the only faults that could have any effect on your decision when it came to sharing rooms with me. Surely you took note of my expertise when administrating the drug?"

"And I am supposed to feel relief from that?"

Holmes sighed dramatically as he looked up to the roof of the cab. "You should deduce that I have been at it for quite awhile, and feel assurance from my experience. I do know what I am doing, and that should be the end of it. My body is my own, and not one for you to worry over. Believe me, I have done far worse to it in my years on this earth."

"May I at least know what you are injecting into yourself?" At the raising of Holmes' eyebrow, Watson hastily added, "In case anything was to ever go wrong, I would know how to approach the situation. I am a doctor."

After considering this for a moment, Holmes nodded. "Very well. This evening it is cocaine. A seven-percent solution. Sometimes it is morphine. But only when I need stillness. Peace. For the hunt, I require cocaine. I find it so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind."

Cocaine and morphine? Was the man insane? Unable to hold in his thoughts, Watson burst out, "But have you considered the danger! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and excited, but it is a pathological and morbid process which involves increased tissue-change and may at least leave a permanent weakness! Not to mention what adverse effects either substance could have on your heart after prolonged use."

Instead of being offended, Holmes smiled. Passing lamp-light shone into the cab, giving Holmes' marble-eyes an eerie glow. Holmes' expression turned serious. He spoke in a low, soft whisper. "I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have become what I am."

"The only unofficial detective?"

Holmes let out a soft laugh. "That as well." Before Watson could inquire further, the cab came to a full stop. The serious look on Holmes' face changed into that of the enthusiastic consulting detective once more. With a smile, he opened the cab door with much flourish. "We are here, Doctor Watson! Come, it is time for the final act of our little adventure!" Holmes leapt out of the cab and offered Watson his hand.

As Watson exited the cab, he realized the very same street that he and Holmes had been on this morning when visiting Mr. Wilson's shop. "But, Holmes–!"

Holmes placed a finger on the doctor's lips. "We must be vigilant and silent."

Mr. Merryweather led the group over to a side entrance of the Sax-Coberg Bank, which he opened for the group. There was a small corridor inside, which led down several flights of stairs. Mr. Merryweather indicated that the group was to follow behind him as he lit a small lantern. The passageways that he led the gentlemen through became smaller and shorter, while a musty-earth smell became ever stronger. At the end of the stairs, there was a tall iron gate, which blocked the entrance to a larger room.

"You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked, holding the lantern high. He slowly moved the lantern so the light filled the corridor.

"Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking the stone floor. A hallow sound echoed loudly throughout the chamber. Mr. Merryweather's expression turned confused. "What–!"

Furious, Holmes grabbed Mr. Merryweather's walking stick. "I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!" he said, glaring. "You have might have already ruined the success of our endeavor. If you would kindly unlock this gate, Mr. Merryweather and then please refrain from making any further noise."

Solemnly, Mr. Merryweather took a chained key from his breast pocket, and unlocked the door for the group. He pointed to a large crate towards the far wall. "There is our French gold," whispered the director.

Watson turned to Mr. Merryweather, eyes wide. "Your French gold?" He tried to grasp how the chain of events somehow connected, but had to admit he was at a definite loss. What did French gold have to do with Mr. Jabez Wilson?

"Yes," Mr. Merryweather continued. "We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our resources and borrowed for that purpose 30,000 napoleons from the Bank of France. Somehow," he glared at Holmes, "Mr. Holmes has become aware that we have never had occasion to unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our cellar. One crate contains 2,000 napoleons packed between layers of lead foil."

Holmes entered first, jumping to a clear area in the middle of the cellar and placing his right ear to the tile floor. He then took out a magnifying glass and examined the cracks in the stones.

Watson wanted to know what it was they were doing in the bank's cellar, but was concerned about being on the receiving end of Holmes' annoyance. "Holmes–" he whispered.

"Yes, Watson?" Holmes said, turning his attention completely towards Watson. The annoyance towards Mr. Merryweather had completely vanished. Trying to carefully choose his words, Watson found himself unable to form a question that did not sound completely idiotic. Holmes stood on his knees and gave the doctor a wan smile. "We have at least an hour before us; I do hope you can form your question before then." Holmes then turned to Jones, who had decided his best place was to stand by the gate and wait for instructions. "This is much bolder and larger in conception than I first thought. Wouldn't you say, Jones?"

"Clay is more of an amateur adventurer who does things on the spur of the moment," Jones shrugged. "He's not one for the longer term planning needed to pull this."

"Unless he's a pawn in a much larger game..."

"You don't mean..." Jones stared for a moment. "For heaven's sake, Mr. Holmes! There is no proof that your Professor Moriarty has anything to do with this."

"There is never any proof," Holmes snapped. "That is the genius of his work! Jones, I swear to you that you cannot understand him as I do. You must listen to me–"

"Lestrade warned me about this," Jones countered, "I wish you would just leave that poor man alone. This must be something more simple. Clay joined up with a friend who planned all of this, that is all. From what you told me someone else was needed to deceive Mr. Wilson with the red-headed league, so it must be the accomplice's plan."

At the mention of the name Mr. Wilson, Watson's eyebrows raised in surprised. All of this... the bank cellar, the gold, John Clay... it all had something to do with Mr. Wilson? Holmes hadn't mistaken cases? But even with the facts that he knew, Watson was not sure how everything pieced together. He thought back to their afternoon trip to Mr. Wilson's pawn shop and meeting the young apprentice. And something about his knees? And Holmes tapping on the pavement as he walked towards the bank... Oh, good lord! Watson thought, finally beginning to understand how it all connected and how they were just in time to prevent a great crime from being committed. "Holmes!" Watson's loud whisper interrupted Jones and Holmes' bickering.

Holmes chortled. He took out his pocket watch and said, "I see you understand the stakes now, Watson. Very good. But it is now time that we arranged our little plans."

It was settled that they would sit in the dark and wait for John Clay and his accomplice to emerge from what Watson now realized was an elaborately planned tunnel. Holmes requested for Jones and Watson to have their weapons at the ready. The path on the origin of the tunnel, which Watson now understood was Mr. Jabez Wilson's basement, was also guarded by two policemen; therefore there would be no escape for Clay.

Watson was a bit uneasy at the idea of shooting anyone, robbing French gold or no, so he placed his revolver, cocked, on the crate beside him– within reach in case the situation became dangerous. Before the lantern was completely covered, Watson looked to Holmes, who was smiling brilliantly while holding his ridding crop tightly in his hands. His eyes shone in the lantern light. The detective looked quite mad at that moment. It was not a sight that comforted the doctor in the slightest.

The long wait in the dark, thankfully did not last longer than the predicted hour. A small glint of light cut through the suffocating darkness. A delicate hand slowly pushed one of the stone tiles up. A clean-cut, boyish face appeared. The thief pulled himself up into the cellar until one knee rested on the edge. After a moment, he reached into the hole and pulled his companion up, a man with shocking red hair.

"It's all clear," Clay whispered. But then there was a movement. From the corner of his eye, Watson saw Holmes slide forward to capture the two thieves. "Jump, Archie, jump! I'll swing for it!"

Several things happened at once. Holmes sprang towards Clay, grabbing him by the collar. Archie escaped into the hole just as Jones leapt towards him. The revolver in Clay's hand flashed in the light. Before Watson could grab his own revolver, Holmes and slapped his ridding crop down on Clay's wrist. The revolver made a very satisfying clang on the tile floor. Nevertheless, Watson grabbed aimed his revolver at Clay, cautious of any more surprises.

Meanwhile, Jones let out a frustrated growl as he threw what he had managed to catch: the accomplice's jacket.

"It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly. "You have no chance at all."

"So I see." Clay stared at Holmes, a sort-of smirk on his face. "I fancy that my pal is all right, though I see you have got his coat-tails."

Holmes smiled. "There are two men waiting for him at the door or Mr. Wilson's pawn shop."

"You seem to have done the thing very completely. I compliment you."

"And I you," Holmes answered, still grinning. "Your red-headed idea was very new and effective. Although I rather doubt it was yours."

Clay snorted. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Oh, I think you do."

Watson leaned back in his seat as Holmes watched the buildings pass out of the cab window. Without looking at his companion, Holmes said, "You have some questions still remaining about the case?"

"Well," Watson cleared his throat. "It's just... I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbors, but I have seen what you have seen, heard what you have heard, and yet you have seen not only what had happened but what was about to happen while to me the whole business was still confused and grotesque."

Holmes scoffed. "Be honest with me, Watson– it is something that I insist on. For I can tell when you are lying. I realize that you believed that I was, and probably still am, quite mad."

"I was not sure how John Clay fit together with the red-headed league. That does not mean that I thought you were mad." Holmes glanced at Watson, making the doctor clear his throat again. "Fine, I did. You must excuse me, for it is clear that I do not understand your line of thinking when it came to this case."

With a delighted chuckle, Holmes explained what pieces Watson had not yet put together. How Holmes had realized the ingenious plan of the red-headed league and its efforts to vacate Mr. Wilson of Mr. Wilson's shop during the day so they could dig the tunnel towards the bank's cellar. For what was the £4 a week to they who were playing for thousands? Watson could not help but be drawn into Holmes' elaborate explanation. "But the true genius in the plan," Holmes explained, "was that it was almost completely untraceable. For who would bother to listen to Mr. Wilson's ravings about a league of red-headed men? No, while Clay does have some brains about him, the mastermind behind this scheme could have been none other than Moriarty."

"You said that name in the cellar. Who is this Moriarty?"

Holmes' expression turned very serious. "For years I have continually been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organizing power in this great city... one which forever stands in the way of the law, and throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts–forgery cases, robberies, murders–I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted. I have endeavored to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last the time came when I seized my thread and followed it, until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to an ex-Professor named James Moriarty, of mathematical celebrity.

"He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself, he only plans. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized. If there is a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted, we will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed– the word is passed to the professor, the matter is organized and carried out. The agent may be caught. In that case money is found for his bail or his defense. But the central power which uses the agent is never caught–never so much as suspected. This was the organization which I deduced, Watson, and which I devoted my whole energy to exposing and breaking up. Despite the fact he is not a man to be trifled with, Scotland Yard still have yet to understand just how dangerous that man can be. I am afraid that it will not be until some terrible event that they finally will listen to me."

Seeing the expression on Holmes‘ face grow ever darker, Watson tried to not lose the exhilaration of the solved crime. "Still, tonight you reasoned it all out beautifully," Watson exclaimed in unfeigned admiration. "It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true!"

"It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawning. "Alas! I already feel it closing in upon me!" Holmes looked back out the window. They were nearing Baker Street now.

"You are a benefactor of the race," Watson insisted, still in complete awe of Holmes' powers.

Holmes sighed again. Slowly he turned his head towards Watson, looking as serious as he had when facing down John Clay. "Do not make me a hero, doctor. Strike it from your mind. I can see it in your eyes even now. I am not what you think I am. My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so. The narrative of the red-headed league seemed intriguing. That is the only reason why I took the case, not for the charity of Mr. Wilson, for I am quite heartless."

After a moment, Watson quietly said, "I think you are being too modest."

"Modest?" Holmes chuckled. "Modest? My dear Watson, I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own powers." When Watson looked as if he were about to argue, the cab came to a stop. They had arrived to their home at 221B Baker Street. Holmes exited the cab first, and then extended his hand to the doctor. Whatever the doctor was going to say was lost. "I believe you will come to understand after a longer exposure," Holmes said as Watson stepped onto the street. "You will come to see the truth."

As Holmes fetched the keys to the door of 221B, a young man from behind them said, "Goodnight, Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

Watson instantly turned around, searching out who had spoken, only to see the young man already having passed by, holding his hat close to his face. Watson turned back to the detective, intending to inquire if he knew the boy. However, Holmes' expression was frozen in an indescribable agitation. He stood still for a few moments, and finally shook his head before opening the door to 221B. When Watson inquired again, Holmes said nothing about the matter.

To Be Continued...
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