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Histories (Part 3/17)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (alcoholism, drug-taking, explicit femslash and slash, homophobia, swearing, vomiting)

Sequel to Birthday Surprise and Launch Off in which Molly gets together with Dr Harriet Watson, historian of eighteenth-century women and recovering alcoholic

Huge thanks to my beta Blooms84 for tackling this monster and making extremely helpful suggestions

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Parts 5 & 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 & 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17

Summary: Molly and Harry aren't the only ones having a fraught weekend.


3 Friday afternoon: John

It had all been going so well, John thought, until Mycroft stuck his oar in. Descended on the surgery in mid-March and decreed that Something (with a capital S) had to be done about the situation.

"About what?" asked John, presuming that this was somehow going to be connected with Libya.

"About the fact that Sherlock is refusing to take you to meet Mummy. Now he's saying he won't be going to Alnwick for Easter, either, having already missed Christmas. Do you realise, John, that it's now nearly a year since he's seen her?"

"I suppose it must be. He went up to see her last spring, didn't he? When I'd just come home from hospital after the swimming pool explosion." He suspected that it had been Mycroft who'd arranged that trip, so that Sherlock couldn't drag John off on a case too soon. Probably a sensible move, but it had been oddly quiet in the flat for the week Sherlock had been away. John had practically been talking to the skull by the time he got back.

"And since then," Mycroft said, "he's not visited her again. Ever since you and he became ...intimate."

"I know," said John. It had become plain a month or two after they had got together – had started sleeping together – that Sherlock had decided John and his mother were not going to meet. Ever. John hadn't enquired why. Why tended not to be a good question where Sherlock and his family were concerned.

"I've endeavoured to make Sherlock see sense, but I've had more success negotiating with EU commissioners," Mycroft announced. "So it's down to you, John. If Sherlock is not prepared to take you to meet Mummy, you need to go on your own."

"I'm not going behind Sherlock's back," John replied.

"I'm happy for you to tell him as soon as you're sure he can't stop you."

"Mycroft, do you have any idea about families?"

"About yours, do you mean? Your father's reaction to his illness. Harry coming out at Oxford. Ian Patterson. You and Clara. Do I need to go on?"

"OK, you know every skeleton in my closet," John replied crossly. "What I meant was, do you have any understanding of how families are supposed to behave? Or even couples?"

"I am, naturally, rather well-informed about the dynamics of my own family," Mycroft said, with complete composure. "Sherlock believes that if you meet our mother there will be an irreconcilable quarrel."

John waited for Mycroft to go on, but as normal he was being a melodramatic bugger.

"Have you thought of being less enigmatic?" John enquired at last. "I would like to finish up my paperwork and go home, not sit here playing guessing games. I am not going to have a bust-up with Sherlock about his mother. If I can put up with you, I can put up with any of his relatives. And Mrs Holmes may want to quarrel with me, but I'm surprisingly hard to quarrel with at times. Or is the idea that Sherlock will quarrel with his mother? But he obviously cares about her..."

He broke off. Mycroft sat, watching him. Sherlock, by this stage, would be calling John an idiot. Mycroft was probably just thinking it.

"Mrs Holmes is likely to say something so appalling to me that she and Sherlock will quarrel. That's what you're scared of, isn't it? So you want to get the worst out of the way beforehand. I'm the advance guard, am I? Right in the firing line."

"You don't shy away from danger," Mycroft replied, staring down at him. "The situation is becoming intolerable, and the deadlock needs to be broken. This is the obvious solution, given they're both so stubborn. I can only surmise that Sherlock's reluctance is owing to a rather touching wish not to expose you. Most unlike him, I might add."

"What do you want me to do?" John asked. "If I do agree, which I'm not yet sure I will."

"Go up and stay with her this weekend. Win her over."

"Just like that? And what if I don't?"

"I'll provide alternative accommodation for you if you need to make a hasty retreat. But I have every confidence in you. I'll arrange transport, of course. I do think the train might be best, the East Coast line isn't bad, and Mummy regards chauffeurs or helicopters as rather unnecessary extravagances. If I send you details of the train times, can you let me know which one would suit you?"

"What do I tell Sherlock and when?" John asked, and then realised he'd missed out the crucial qualifier: If I do this.

"Say nothing until you're on the train. Your tickets will be delivered to the flat, so Sherlock will be able to deduce what's going on. But I suspect he won't mention it. I suggest if he asks where you're going for the weekend, you say you're going on pilgrimage to Lindisfarne."

Surely Mrs Holmes couldn't be worse than her sons, John thought, even allowing for heredity.

"OK," he said, "but when you send the itinerary, I need intelligence reports as well."

"What do you mean?" It was quite funny to have disconcerted Mycroft for once.

"You're sending me into hostile territory. I don't want to go blind. So I want the file on your mother. There must be one somewhere."

"No!"

My God, thought John, there are traces of decency in Mycroft after all. At the most inconvenient moments, of course.

"I'd make a better impression if I knew what her likes and dislikes were," he said cheerily.

"That would be underhand," said Mycroft, managing to sound like a particularly disapproving headmaster. You simply need to remember, John, that you are an officer and a gentleman."

"Yes, sir," said John. "Understood, sir. Permission to fall out, sir, I've got a load of stuff to sort out before Friday."

***

The quality of the silence at 221B for the next few days told John that Mycroft was right: Sherlock knew, but wasn't going to discuss the matter. John's nerve held till he was getting on the train on Friday afternoon, when he'd texted Sherlock instead of phoning him: 

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye. Going to Alnwick, back Sunday. John.

Then he'd switched off his phone. This was going to be hard enough without a twitchy Sherlock on his mobile. He hoped Mycroft was right, and he wasn't going to hash this up. Not with Sherlock - nothing was going to come between Sherlock and himself. But Sherlock's relationship with his mother getting even more wrecked was a distinct possibility. He'd seen enough bust-ups in his own family over who you fell for.

***

The bust-ups had all been Harry's fault, not his, he remembered, as the train raced up through the Midlands. Their parents had barely spoken to Harry for nearly three years after she'd come out, almost all her time at Oxford. But then he'd finally persuaded Mum, at least, to go to Harry's graduation ceremony, and she'd been so proud of her brilliant daughter she'd been in tears. Whereas he had not being crying, whatever Harry might have claimed afterwards. At the most, tears of laughter, at his sister bowing and scraping in her over-sized robes, like a dressed-up mouse.

He had cried though, when she'd broken up his engagement to Clara. Tears of rage and bitterness about her betrayal. He still didn't understand why Harry had done it. It made sense that she'd fallen for Clara, anyone would, but to seduce her like that, that was appalling. Harry must have talked Clara into sleeping with her, the way she'd talked so many girls into her bed before. And then she'd obviously talked Clara out of marrying John, and he still didn't know what lies she'd told her about him, or why Clara had been foolish enough to believe her. When he'd realised what Harry had done that weekend, it had been like one of those scenes in a horror film, where you walked up behind a friend, and suddenly they turned round and they were a monster about to attack you. He wasn't sure if he could ever trust Harry again.

He hadn't spoken to Harry for months, years, centuries, after that. Well, eighteen months or so. He'd have been justified in never speaking to her again; she'd damn near broken his heart. Even if he had realised after a while that his heart had somehow mended again, that there were girls other than Clara he fancied. And he'd started to miss his bloody little idiot of a sister, a Harry-shaped hole in his life. It just wasn’t the same without ridiculous e-mails telling him things he didn't want to know about eighteenth-century criminals. Warily, he’d got back into contact with her, wondering if there was any solid ground there, anything in Harry he could still rely on. Tried to put the past behind him, think of her behaviour as a crazy one-off lapse of judgement.

And somehow it had helped when Harry and Clara had finally got together, a few years later. It had been weird, of course, but good as well, because he could tell himself then that it had all been meant to be. That Harry had seduced Clara because she had somehow known that Clara was right for her, not John. Harry needed Clara in a way that he would never have done, and now at last his sister was finally settling down with someone sweet, good for her.

The thing with Harry, though, was that she couldn't stay sane, sensible: there was some impulsive, destructive streak within her. She had an ideal job as a lecturer, she had Clara, they had a nice house, so what did she do? Become an alcoholic and then walk out on Clara. Admittedly, he had already told Clara to leave Harry, once he'd realised what was going on. He supposed that had been disloyal to Harry, but he'd known what was going to happen. He'd seen people destroy themselves with drink before now.

But Harry had surprised him yet again, hadn't she? She'd somehow managed to get herself dried out and in a relationship with Molly Hooper, of all bizarre people. Sober for nearly six months now. It was an absolute miracle.

An announcement came over the PA system: there were minor delays expected due to signalling problems. He was tempted to phone Harry while they were waiting. She could at least give him a few bizarre facts about the history of Northumbria to scatter into his conversation.  Might even be worth asking what to expect from someone like Mrs Holmes. Every now and then, in between all the academic rubbish Harry talked about class and gender and psychology, she could occasionally say something quite shrewd about people.

No, he decided, phoning her would be a daft idea. Harry and Molly would probably be rushing around getting ready to go out somewhere tonight, and if he turned his phone on, Sherlock would start bombarding him with texts. Time enough to speak to Sherlock when he'd avoided screwing the weekend up.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
fengirl88
Sep. 16th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Alnwick, eh? and Mrs Holmes?

could be dangerous...

I hope nothing is going to be removed from the Garden.

*looks forward cautiously to the next instalment*
marysutherland
Sep. 18th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
The Alnwick Garden is going to turn up eventually, but not for several parts yet. Next bit, now up, is back in London and When Harry Met Sherlock time.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )