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Thread: Shadow Games (Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie-verse)

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    Default Shadow Games (Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie-verse)

    Over the years I’ve found really random movies to draw inspiration from for my fanfiction series, The Chronicles of the Chosen One. Recently, I discovered that my original anime-based series (which lives on through Shadows of Elements today) had a background and world based largely on the Disney movie Atlantis. I then realized that my main Legendary Team in all of my live-action series was inspired by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

    Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t also draw direct inspiration from movies as well. I’m currently on my third re-write of my Harry Potter fanfiction (a process that has spanned the past five years or so). The true inspiration hit when I watched Angels and Demons for the first time in March of 2010. Now, my own fanfiction Angels and Demons and its sequel How to Save a Life have become my most treasured project (and, in my humble opinion, my best one).

    After Angels and Demons, the only inspiration I gleaned from the movies up until now was additional fodder from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. This all changed, of course, when Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows came out in December of 2011. I had toyed with a mini-Holmes fic before, but, after several months of turning the idea over and over in my head, I decided that I would embark on my first non-Pokemon, non-Aquapolian fanfiction. This is the fic you see before you today.

    Now, as this is the fourth current fanfiction I will be hosting on Serebii and as I am currently in my second year of studies at the grand Georgia Institute of Technology, chapters may be spaced far apart and updated very infrequently. Why add another fanfiction to my repotoire? I’m very passionate about this and feel like I need to post it here before I lose my passion.

    Anyway, as most of you will realize, I’ve twisted facts around, but stayed very close to the theme of Game of Shadows. I’ve only added a few new characters and haven’t changed the basic backgrounds of the original too much. As such, this will be my first fanfiction that will be closest to the original.

    And, of course, I will have a PM list held here.

    PM list:



    Now, I usually do a prologue for my stories, but, this time, I feel like it’s best for us to just jump on in to the story. Things will be explained in detail, of course. I know a lot of you may not have been able to see the awesomeness that is Game of Shadows.

    Without further ado, I present to you Shadow Games. Please enjoy.


    Chapter 1



    Rain splattered in sheets upon the windows, rivers running down the panes in what seemed to be miniature floods. It always seemed to be raining and cold in London, much different from the warm climate of Atlanta. Her mind had wondered back to her cozy home that lay in the outskirts of the city, the house built soon after the end of the Civil War, a few years before her birth. Only a small pang of homesickness hit her. When and if she returned, the only person she cared to live with was her mother.

    But now…the letter in her hands seemed to shift her mind towards staying in London permanently to pursue her dreams. After all, her father was an ambassador. She would still see her family from time-to-time.

    …I hope to see you as soon as possible. We can discuss your exam results and continue monitoring your progress. Also, if you care to bring them, I look forward to seeing your new sketches.

    All the best,
    Your London Friend

    She clutched the letter tightly in her hand, her eyes flickering over to the engineering sketches on the table beside her. A few years previously, an engineering school had opened its doors in Atlanta. One or two of the professors there had connections to her London friend and allowed her to sketch there in secret. She had worked furiously on new medical technology. Her ideas never truly realized…Who would publish a young woman’s work anyway? At least while giving her recognition…

    “Katharine!”

    She shoved the letter inside a book beside her, placing the book over her sketches as her mother bustled into the room. Diana Jones cast a glance around her daughter’s dark room before saying, “Well be having dinner in a few moments. Mr. Strauss will be joining us, so dress well.”

    Thank goodness Diana left the room as soon as she spoke. A small flash of pain shone in Katharine’s eyes, and she ducked her head. Grayson Strauss was her sister Jessica’s suitor, the son of an eastern European ambassador. He had been raised in Atlanta and had grown up with the Jones sisters. He was her closest friend…and more than that…

    She shook her head and glanced back towards the book on her desk. At least she would get to see her London friend the next day. That was something to look forward to.

    ------------

    Since he had moved from the apartments at 221B Baker Street, whenever Dr. John Watson received a message from his old friend and roommate, he had to heave a sigh. It wasn’t as if he didn’t miss the adventures…but, since he had moved out in preparation for his marriage, the messages proved to lead to rather tedious and distracting circumstances.

    So he found himself that foggy morning, standing in the hallway and knocking on the door to his friend’s rooms. He was surprised the building was still standing after all of the experiments conducted underneath its roof. A muffled voice called out for him to come in. He heaved open the door, pushing stacks of newspapers out of the way.

    The apartment was a mess as usual. Papers and experiments were strewn all over the place. Watson had to make sure that he stepped lightly so that he didn’t trip and fall over anything. There was no sign of his friend at all. He sighed, wondering what he was about to get himself into as he called out, “Holmes?! Where are you?”

    He heard a rustling of papers from his old study, which was connected to Holmes’ rooms. This situation had proved inconvenient at many times when Holmes was carrying out experiments or playing his violin at two in the morning. Watson stepped into his old study, his eyes immediately widening at the expanses of paper and red string that wallpapered the room. Holmes’ meticulous handwriting was scrawled upon news clippings and sketches, detailing some sort of train of thought that was outlined by the red strings.

    “What is all of this?” He muttered to himself, standing back to take in the entire scene before him. “Has he gone mad?” While his friend was engaged within a case, he became positively obsessive to the degree that he would eat and sleep very little and basically withdraw from the world. But this…this must be a particularly fascinating case. He frowned as he read the newspaper headings. They were all on the bombings that had occurred around London over the space of the past couple of months. Holmes must have taken it upon himself to investigate these events…

    “Good! You’re here!”

    Watson had been so deeply caught up in his reading of the articles that he had barely heard his friend step into the room. The doctor jumped a little bit, regaining his composure smoothly as he spun around to address his friend.

    Sherlock Holmes had obviously been caught up in his work for days. His dark hair stuck up in all sorts of weird angles, his shirt was thoroughly wrinkled, and he had the usual manic look in his eyes that told Watson that he was extremely close to a break in his case. The urgent message served as proof that something had happened.

    “What is all of this?” Watson asked, waving his hand at the red web and sitting down in a chair across from the strings. It looked as if a huge spider had invaded the room.

    “This…is the culmination of what could be called my life’s work,” Holmes said, grandly sweeping his arm towards the wallpapered mess. He was standing so close to the wall that his movement caused several of the newspaper articles to flicker as if a wild wind had swept through the room. The fluttering papers looked like small birds trying to escape from the red spider web. If Holmes hadn’t looked so absolutely crazy at that moment, Watson would have thought the situation even more comical. He glanced over to where a couple of glasses and a bottle of some sort of fluid sat on a small table.

    “You do know that what you’re drinking is meant for eye surgery, right?”

    Holmes dismissed this question with a wave of his hand. “I’m on the brink of a huge break in the biggest case of my career…”

    “So you can’t be bothered to check to see whether you’re actually drinking something that won’t kill you?”

    Holmes grabbed his jacket from a nearby chair, waving his hand at a sketch hanging on the wall behind him. “We must go now or we’ll miss the engineer who drew that design.”

    Watson frowned, studying the drawing. “A mechanical arm?” He asked as he followed Holmes down the stairs.

    “Yes, drawn by the brightest student of Professor James Moriarty.”

    Watson’s eyebrows flew up. “You mean Moriarty of Cambridge? Haven’t you theorized over the years that he’s behind many of the murders you’ve solved?” From practically the second day after he had moved into Baker Street with Holmes, he had heard odds, ends and snippets about the man whom Holmes had deemed “the Napoleon of crime.” Moriarty operated in high social circles of ambassadors and those who sat in positions in the House of Lords, not to mention all of the academics he knew worldwide. It would astonish most of the political men of London that one of their own was the vilest criminal of their generation.

    “I believe that this particular student is our key to his recent bombings…and may very well reveal to us whom his current target is.” Holmes swung open the front door so enthusiastically, he didn’t even realize that he was halfway across the street before some carriage-rider screamed at him to get out of the way. Watson quickly shouted an apology as he pushed his friend further across the street, ensuring that Holmes didn’t get run over as he continued to babble about the details of their outing.

    “Over the past few months, I have deduced that Moriarty is targeting one of the ambassadors that will attend a peace summit in Switzerland in about a month…”

    “And you believe this student may be able to give us information? Holmes, he probably doesn’t tell his students anything about his criminal affairs…”

    “This particular student is very strange, though…”

    “I do admit that that sketch was something extraordinary…”

    “That’s not exactly why this student is out of the ordinary.”

    Watson shot him a confused glance. “Why then?”

    Without missing a beat, Holmes answered, “Because she is a young woman.”

    ------------

    Jessica Jones twirled around, letting the pale green dress she wore shine in the store lights. “It’s absolutely perfect,” she breathed dramatically, clasping her hands to her chest as she turned to Diana. “Do you think Grayson will like it?”

    Katharine, who was seated on a bench nearby, rolled her eyes as her mother assured her sister. “It’s beautiful. Grayson will love it,” she said, smoothing her hand over the fabric.

    “What do you think of it, Katharine?”

    Katharine cleared her throat. “It looks very pretty on you. It matches the green of your eyes.”

    Jessica’s face brightened. “You really think so?”

    “Yes,” Katharine nodded her head a bit too enthusiastically.

    Jessica turned to admire herself in the mirror even more. “Katharine, why don’t you pick something else out other than that dull black dress you bought a few weeks ago? I’m sure you can catch a young man’s eye with it.”

    “She’s right, Katharine,” her mother joined in. “How about that blue dress beside you?”

    She cast an eye at the dress. “I like the color…” She sighed. “Okay, Mother, I’ll try it.” She stood up, turning toward the door.

    “Where are you going, Katharine?” Diana asked, a confused look on her face.

    “I’m going to see a friend, Mother. I’ll be back in time for dinner tonight.”

    Diana sighed. “Okay.” She smiled. “Have a nice time, and we’ll take a look at your dress tonight.”

    After Katharine stepped out, Jessica frowned in her direction. “If she would just take her nose out of a book once in a while, suitors would be falling all over themselves trying to court her.”

    “Now, Jessica…”

    “You know I’m telling the truth, Mother,” she said, running a few fingers through her blonde hair.

    Outside, Katharine had already made it halfway down the street, casting furtive glances behind her as she made her way across the city. She didn’t notice the two figures stealing after her in the shadows as she walked.

    ------------

    As soon as the young woman had made it to the college, Holmes veered to the right, making his way past several of the buildings and slipping into an alley between two large structures. Watson cast a glance around them to make sure no one had seen before he followed Holmes into the dark alley. “What are we doing?” He whispered furiously. Holmes suddenly stopped short beside a window, falling to the ground and dragging Watson down with him. Holmes pressed his back up against the wall underneath the window and motioned for Watson to be silent. Watson simply glared at him, then turned his attention to the open window above them. Voices were starting to sound from inside. A young woman and an older man were speaking.

    ------------

    “Professor?” The young man asked, standing in the open doorway.

    The man at the desk looked up. “Yes? What is it?”

    “There is a Miss Jones here to see you.”

    The man’s eyes brightened. “Good! Send her in,” he said cheerfully. The young man nodded and disappeared. A few seconds later, Katharine stepped in, closing the door behind her. The professor rose from his seat, a soft smile planted on his face. He had a kind look about him, despite his icy blue eyes. His auburn red hair, beard, and mustache stood out against his eyes, making it look as if he was composed of fire and ice. He was still dressed in his teaching robes, obviously having just returned from one of his classes. Katharine glanced at the notes on his desk. It had apparently been an introductory physics class. Those poor students. Her interests lay in the realm of biology and chemistry. The professor had always teased her when their private lessons had turned to his favorite and her least favorite subject. She absolutely abhorred physics, but deemed it necessary to study the subject for engineering purposes.

    “I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to come sooner, Professor. My parents are preparing for the ball in a few weeks and have been dragging me all sorts of places over London in preparation for it.” She made a face at the idea. “I don’t see why, as it should be Jessica that they should be paying attention to.”

    “I suspect your sister and Mr. Strauss are close to ending their courtship?” He asked, motioning to the chair in front of his desk. Katharine glanced out the window as she sat down. It was open to an unusually mild day for London. She would have to get used to this weather, she supposed. As for the open window, however…she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. Perhaps she was worried that her parents would discover where she had slipped off to.

    Of course, being seen speaking with Professor James Moriarty wouldn’t have upset her parents in the least. Her father Richard Jones had been close friends with the physics professor for years, and Katharine had known him since she was small. He had visited them regularly in Atlanta while she was growing up, gifting her with books during each visit.

    Katharine nodded, turning her attention away from the window as Moriarty sat down at his desk. “Jessica is expecting him to propose any day now.”

    “Would they plan to get married in London?”

    “Probably…” She ducked her head. He frowned. “Um…have my exam results returned yet?”

    “Ah, yes, they have.” The smile returned to his face as he drew several papers from a drawer in his desk, spreading them across the surface of the desk. “You…once again achieved perfect results…”

    Katharine leaned forward in anticipation, but when he didn’t speak further, she frowned. “…but I still didn’t get an interview…”

    Moriarty shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid not…”
    Last edited by chosen_one386; 18th February 2012 at 3:06 AM.

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    Chapter 2:



    Katharine sighed and leaned back in her seat, staring down at her hands.

    Moriarty continued, leaning forward. “This is the fourth time that you have taken the exam. The fourth time, in fact, that you have achieved a perfect score…” He paused. “Perhaps its time I use my influence in the department…”

    “No,” she shook her head furiously, rising from her seat and striding over to one of the bookcases that lined the room. She ran her finger across some biology textbooks. “I want to do this on my own.”

    “Katharine…” he rose from his seat. “I just don’t want to see you lose your goal so easily…Please…” She turned toward him. He had a pleading look on his face. “Please promise me that, if you are not granted an interview in three months, you will allow me to speak to the board myself. This is…a great waste. The scientific community does not know what it’s missing…”

    “I don’t think I’ll be able to stay for three months, Professor…”

    “If your family must return to America before the three months are up, you are welcome to stay at my home.”

    She contemplated this for a while. He continued, “May I suggest that you try and find a…more permanent arrangement in the meantime?”

    “Like what, Professor?”

    “I highly doubt that your father would want you to stay in London…”

    “Unmarried,” she finished for him. “You…want me to find a suitor here in London?”

    “You don’t have to marry him, Katharine. I don’t want to push you to marry someone you don’t love just to stay here. I just believe that Richard will have an easier time with you staying permanently here in London if you were to be courting someone at the time.”

    Katharine thought this over. “You’re right,” she muttered.

    “There are a few of my students…perhaps, of course, no one in my physics class,” he said jokingly. She laughed, her worries starting to melt a bit. “Now, did you bring any of your sketches?”

    “Ah, yes, I did…” She stepped over to where she had placed a small notebook on his desk. “I’m afraid that I somehow lost one of my sketches somewhere on the streets here in London…the mechanical arm I was working on.” She extracted several sketches from the notebook, handing them to Moriarty to look over.

    Every time since she first began showing him her engineering sketches when she was thirteen, Katharine felt the need to hold her breath, waiting to see if they were up to Moriarty’s standards. She really had no need to do this. He only ever had praise for her work. And, knowing him, she knew it wasn’t empty praise. She reasoned that, if she just kept at it, one day the college would accept her due to merit.

    Moriarty studied the pages intently. Most of them consisted of simple drawings of the hand, its features and contours. The main sketches, of course, high-lighted the metal frame that could be used to increase hand strength tenfold. If she tweaked it a bit more, Katharine was sure she could get more power out of it, but she let didn’t say anything as Moriarty put down the sketches, an exasperated look on his face.

    “Katharine, I must beg of you again to allow me to speak to the board myself. Your work…if used properly, of course…could save lives and help improve medical technology.” He leaned forward in his seat, his blue eyes flashing with indignation. “The board is foolish to think that you wouldn’t benefit the college as a whole.”

    It was then that Katharine noticed the clock that hung over a nearby bookcase. With a sharp intake of breath, she rose from her seat, clutching her notebook tightly. Moriarty glanced at the clock. “Are you expected at home?” He asked gently.

    “Yes…I promised Mother I would be back in time for dinner…” She glanced at the sketches on his desk. “You may keep these, Professor. They’ll be safer here than back at home.” Her hands shook as she cursed herself for not looking at the time earlier. Sometimes, when she was speaking with the professor, she lost track of time. The only other person on Earth she enjoyed conversing with was Grayson, but, now that he was close to getting married to her sister, their conversations had to become more private.

    Moriarty rose from his desk. “Perhaps you’ll be able to return in a few days? I’ll be giving a lecture then…” Katharine regularly snuck into his classes while she was in London. Though the subject wasn’t to her taste, she still enjoyed listening to him teach.

    She nodded. “I’ll see if I can get away.” She paused. “You are coming to the ball, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, your father has invited me as his guest.” He smiled. “I’ll be there.”

    She smiled back. “Good. Good-bye, Professor.” With that, she hurried from the room. Moriarty looked after her thoughtfully as the door shut behind her.

    ------------

    Holmes and Watson managed to catch up to Katharine as she hurried down the street. They kept their distance, not allowing her to get a good look at them as they talked.

    For the longest time, Holmes was silent, until Watson spoke, “That was an enlightening conversation.”

    “For you, Watson. It only told me one thing of which I did not know before.”

    “And what is that?”

    “Beyond being her mentor, Moriarty seems to be a father figure to her. She obviously does not like her situation at home. He and her father have been friends for years. Growing up, Katharine would have seen him regularly. He’s become the father she wished that she had.”

    “So he’s taking advantage of her feelings to do…what, exactly?”

    “Oh, no…he may be shaping her for some future reason, but the feeling is mutual.”

    “What?” Watson stopped short, giving Holmes a confused glance.

    “Isn’t it obvious that he thinks of her as the daughter he never had?”

    “He could be acting…”

    “No,” Holmes swung around, continuing to follow Katharine down the street. “He clearly cares for her in that way.” He frowned. “Now, we just have to figure out what he’s using her for.”

    “Now that I’ve listened to the two of them talk, I’m starting to think that maybe the situation is exactly what it looks like. Moriarty thinks of this young woman as his daughter and has simply fueled her academic curiousity all of these years and helped her work to enter Cambridge.”

    “Nothing, Watson, is exactly what it seems to be,” Holmes replied as they continued down the street.

    ------------

    The next morning, Watson returned to Baker Street to see Holmes getting ready to leave.

    “Where are you going?”

    “I’m continuing my observations of Miss Jones,” he replied matter-of-factly. Watson sighed and followed him out the door.

    “Eventually, she’s going to catch you...”

    “Eventually, I plan to approach and speak with her. I can only get glimpses of her personality from the small snatches of conversation I can pick up. To really know her, I must speak with her directly.” Holmes swerved to avoid running into another pedestrian. As always, while his mind was trained on an immediate task, he tended to ignore the world around him. Watson hoped that he wouldn’t have to push him out of the way of any more carriages today.

    Then again, the bigger worry was that Holmes would scare the young woman away. True, Holmes was socially awkward by many standards. He was extremely blunt and had a dry sense of humor that was an acquired taste. However, when he had to interrogate someone or needed information, he could charm secrets out of any woman in London. If he were to gain any information at all, Watson reasoned, he’d have to be careful not to let Katharine know his true intentions, which would be quite difficult. She was obviously intelligent, and, with Moriarty as her mentor, would be able to pick up the real reason behind his questions quite easily. However, if she truly didn’t know how criminal her teacher was, she would never believe that Holmes was trying to gain information about him as the bombing suspect.

    “Besides, I have the perfect excuse to approach her,” Holmes said, holding up the mechanical arm sketch. “I must return to her the blueprints she dropped on the street outside her home.”

    Watson shot him a skeptical look. “Of course. There is no reason why I should think that they were taken off of her person by a stranger who happened to run into her on the street.”

    “Well, she was very gracious about it. She’s the type to believe it was her fault that someone ran into her. She actually apologized to me before I was able to make it halfway across the street. Perhaps later, she believed she dropped the papers on the street during the run in.” He shook the papers again, quickening his pace. Watson could see in his friend’s determined stride that he intended to skip over a few steps in his process. In fact, he wasn’t planning on observing her for very much longer…

    “You’re approaching her…now?” Watson glanced around as if Moriarty had sent spies after them. “Don’t you think you should think about this more before you…” He cut himself off. Knowing Holmes, he had thought about it a great deal, though, even if this were an impulsive move, it would still be a well-drawn out plan.

    “The sooner I speak with her, the sooner we can stop Moriarty.”

    ------------

    Katharine sat at a table inside a teahouse, engrossed in a book and not even paying attention to anything around her. She didn’t look up until a man slipped into the seat in front of her, the only other one at the table. She was so astonished by his appearance, that she couldn’t even put the book down, staring at him in shocked silence as he ordered tea from the waiter and turned to her.

    “I see you’re reading Shelley,” he motioned to the book in her hand, then looked at the small pile laid out on the table beside her elbow. It contained a chemistry textbook and a mystery novel. “You have a wide range of genres here…”

    She finally recovered from her shock as the waiter brought him his tea. “I…yes…may I ask who you are, sir?”

    “Just a concerned citizen,” he retrieved some papers from his pocket and held them out for her to take. She gasped. They were her missing mechanical arm sketches. “It would be a great loss to the scientific community if these weren’t placed back into your hands.”

    She took the sketches, staring at him. “How did you know that they are mine? I…” She glanced down at the edges. “I didn’t sign them with my own name…”

    “You are the daughter of the American ambassador, are you not?”

    “Yes…how do you know that?”

    “From your accent, you are obviously American…and Southern. The current American ambassador to Britain is from Georgia.” He motioned to the books on the table. “And, from your varied reading style, I can assume you are highly educated. These sketches belong to someone who has also spent time in the South. The humidity, I’m afraid, has gotten to some of them…”

    She shook her head. “Excuse me, sir, but I didn’t quite catch your name,” she said, leaning forward.

    “No, I believe not.”

    “But you know my name.”

    “Miss Katharine Jones, the daughter of Ambassador Richard Jones.”
    “May I have yours?” She asked, a bit perturbed, though something struck her as funny about the situation. By the end of his introduction, however, she could only stare in shock at the gentleman seated across from her, not believing her ears.

    “My name is Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps you have heard of me?”

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    Chapter 3:



    For several moments, Katharine was without words, shocked into silence by his introduction. Of course she had heard of him. Only a few years previously, it was revealed to the public that one of the men in the House of Lords had gone completely mad and had tried to kill off most of lords in an effort to gain control of the country. Even all the way across the Atlantic, the news had spread that the most brilliant detective of the time (and, perhaps, all time) had foiled the lord’s plot. Since the arrival of such interesting news, Katharine and Grayson had eagerly found as many articles as they could about Mr. Sherlock Holmes, his cases sporadically featured in American newspapers every so often. Cases that had baffled everyone, that seemed to be dead-ends, he had solved easily, as if they were of the simplest construction. This fascinated the two young Americans, both of which already fueled intellectually by Moriarty.

    Now, it was almost inconceivable that the very man that she had read of for years had simply sat down across from her at the table and struck up a conversation with her. Of course, he had to return her sketch, but he could have done that in a minimal amount of time without an introduction. The fact that he actually cared to introduce himself struck her as strange. She tried to collect her thoughts, all of the questions about how and why he had known such personal details thrown out the window. After all, he was very skilled at making such deductions. There was no doubt that this was the real Sherlock Holmes.

    When Katharine was finally able to form a sentence, she cursed herself inwardly for her awkwardness and inability to form an intelligent and cohesive thought. “I…yes…I have heard of you. I’ve read all about your cases. All of the articles we’ve received in America…and all of them I can read while I’m in London…”

    “Very good,” he said, cutting her off. She flushed angrily for a second before she realized that he had actually just made the conscious decision to save her further embarrassment by allowing her to ramble on. “I do admit I would rather not have my name published quite so often in the papers. I’d much rather operate a bit more covertly in my cases. It really is irritating when interviewing a suspect who already knows your true intentions.” She could feel his attention drifting away from the conversation for the moment as if another thought had overrode his priority to speak to her. For a split second, he seemed lost in thought, his eyes focused on what seemed to be empty space, then he gave her the strangest look, as if he wished to tell her something, but decided against it.

    “Anyway, I must be going,” he said, jumping up from his seat. Katharine’s heart fell. Now all of the questions were flooding back to her. She wanted to know his process, his strategy. How in the world could he make such grand assumptions with such little evidence? He was a sort of idol in her mind, someone to look up to, but whom she had never planned to meet.

    “Thank you, Mr. Holmes,” she finally said, clutching her sketch.

    He paused, turning back to address her. “You come often to this particular tea house.”

    “Y…yes,” she said, though it was a question.

    “I’m sure we will meet again soon, then,” he said, hurrying off. Katharine watched him leave, her hand resting on the stack of books in front of her.

    ------------

    When Holmes returned to Baker Street, Watson was sitting in his rooms, reading the newspaper. He looked up as Holmes slammed the door behind him. “How did it go?”

    “Well, for an introduction…it was a good start.”

    “You plan to see her again.”

    “She visits the same tea house every day…I can’t imagine that she cares to stay at home with her sister and parents there…”

    “Do you really think she hates her family that much?”

    “No, I believe that she cares for them, she’s just the odd one out. Obviously, her parents don’t approve of her spending so much time in academics…”

    “Well, she is the age at which they would be trying to marry her off.”

    “That would be true if she didn’t have an older sister who is about to be engaged to the son of an ambassador.”

    “Yes, she didn’t seem very happy about that.”

    “Of course not…I have a feeling that she is extremely unhappy with that situation.”

    Watson paused. “Holmes, you don’t think that…”

    “She cares for him as much more than a childhood friend? That much was obvious from the way she spoke about him.”

    “If her parents find out…”

    “That would cause quite a scandal,” Holmes said.

    Watson paused for a second, studying his friend. “You aren’t actually thinking of holding that over her head in exchange for information, are you?”

    “Not if it turns out that she knows nothing of Moriarty’s plans.”

    “And, what? You’re just going to ask her straight out if she’s part of his criminal organization?”

    “Of course not. That would be too dangerous and might cause too much of a stir.”

    “Then…you’re just going to continue to study her, is that it?”

    “Precisely, Watson.”

    Watson shook his head. “This could blow up in your face, Holmes. Especially if Moriarty keeps a close eye on her…”

    “Which he doesn’t.”

    “Are you going to keep interrupting me?”

    “I can’t. I need to follow my next lead.”

    Watson sighed as Holmes sprinted out of the door.

    ------------

    Katharine leaned against the wall of the lecture hall, listening to Moriarty talk about gravity. She was in the very back seat, where no one would really notice her. After a few moments, a man slid into the seat beside her. She glanced over, smiling.

    “Sebastian. It’s been a while. How are you doing?”

    “More or less the same. Been itching for a race against you,” he replied, smiling back. “I’m afraid there are no other worthy opponents in England besides the professor, and he’s far too busy to indulge in a race.”

    “Well, we’ll see about that. Perhaps I’ll be able to come out and beat you again,” she teased.

    “Have you been keeping up your weapons’ practice?”

    “Most certainly.”

    “Good.” Moran glanced down at the professor, who had turned to look at them for a split second before continuing. “I have to be going for now. I have some business on the continent.”

    “Bye, Sebastian,” she called after him as he stood up and left. She watched him exit the door, then turned her attention back to Moriarty, who had also watched him go before continuing with his lecture.

    ------------

    The next day, Katharine sat in her usual seat at the teahouse, running her eyes over the sketches in front of her. She hadn’t been sitting there before long when Holmes ran up, plopping down in the seat in front of her. He looked a bit rough around the edges, his hair sticking up at odd angles and soot covering his jacket. What really caught her attention, however, was the small cut running across his cheek that looked as if someone had taken to him with a knife.

    Her eyes widened. “Mr. Holmes, whatever happened to you?”

    “What?” He stared at her as if he were perfectly okay.

    “Your face…you have a cut…” She ran her fingers across the cheek that mirrored his, causing him to subconsciously do the same.

    He smiled when he remembered the injury. “Just the cost of gaining more leads for my current case.”

    Katharine waited until after their waiter left before she leaned forward. “May I ask what your latest case is, Mr. Holmes?”

    “I’m afraid I can’t answer that question, Miss Jones. At least, not now...”

    She frowned and leaned back in her seat for a second, thinking. “I could only think of one case that you’re following right now…”

    “And what would that be?”

    “The recent bombings in different areas of the city. We’ve heard news of it all the way across the Atlantic.”

    “Now, why would you think I would be investigating that case?”

    “Because all of the authorities are thoroughly perplexed by the situation, and, as anyone who has read of your cases knows, you only pursue those that others cannot solve.”

    Holmes shot her an amused look, and she instantly knew that she was right. A small flicker of happiness filled her at the impressed look that crossed his face for only a moment. Only a moment, of course. Even though she was confident in her intelligence, she believed herself to be nowhere near the level of the great Sherlock Holmes. Why in the world should he be impressed with a deduction that someone levels below her could easily make?

    “Well, I would ask of you to keep my involvement in this case a secret between the two of us. Whoever is behind these bombings…is certainly quite dangerous.” For a second there, she thought he had slipped in his language, as if he was about to say exactly who was ordering these attacks…as if he knew exactly who he was tracking, but decided to feign ignorance.

    “Certainly, Mr. Holmes,” she said, assuring him that she wouldn’t speak a word to anyone else. Of course, who would she tell…other than Grayson, she would only maybe mention it to Moriarty. Now, however, she was sworn to secrecy. She hadn’t been able to tell Grayson of her first encounter with Holmes, so she started to worry if he wanted to keep their conversations a secret now that she knew what he was up to.

    “I suspect that your stay in London won’t be permanent. You’ll be gone in a couple of weeks.” It wasn’t a question. She secretly wondered if Holmes asked that many questions of other people.

    “Well…” She looked down at her hands folded in her lap. “I’m looking to prolong my stay…hopefully…” She stopped herself from saying more. There was no need to ramble on about her personal business with him. Really, why in the world would he care?

    Holmes suddenly shot up from his seat. “I’m very sorry, Miss Jones, but I must cut our meeting short again today…I will see you again tomorrow.”

    She was flustered by his not-a-question as he walked away, preventing her from saying a proper good-bye.

    ------------

    “Now, we play the waiting game,” Holmes announced as he re-entered his apartments. Watson was sitting in a corner, reading the newspaper when he came in.

    “What have you done now?” He asked, lowering the paper.

    “I have disclosed to Miss Jones that I am following the case of the recent bombings. I told her to keep my involvement a secret.”

    “And if she really is in league with Moriarty?” Watson asked.

    He thought he had imagined that shadow that passed over Holmes’ face at his statement. This wouldn’t be a mere setback for Holmes, it seemed. He silently wondered what exactly his friend was up to and how much more he knew about Katharine Jones than he was letting on.

    Holmes never answered his question, simply gazing over at his wardrobe that sat in the far corner of the room. Watson followed his glance for only a fraction of a second before the detective left the room, his head bowed in what his friend could only read as sadness.

  4. #4
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    Chapter Four



    “Ambassador Strauss will be at the ball, won’t he father?” Jessica asked at the dinner table that evening.

    “Yes, I believe so. Grayson will be accompanying him to the ball,” Richard Jones replied succinctly.

    “Katharine, you haven’t tried on your new dress,” Diana said.

    “I prefer the black one I picked out a few weeks ago,” Katharine replied. A short silence ensued until their butler knocked at the door.

    “There is a package for Miss Katharine at the door,” he announced, producing a thick stack of books wrapped in paper. He placed the stack by Katharine’s plate, and she immediately tried to cover up the name on the card. Jessica caught it just in time and smiled.

    “Who is this London friend of yours?” She asked, smiling wickedly. “Is he your secret suitor?”

    Katharine scowled at her. “No, he’s just a friend of mine.”

    “He’s been sending you books for quite some time, Katharine,” Diana remarked. “We’d quite like to meet him sometime.”

    “I don’t think…”

    “That’s a splendid idea, Mother!” Jessica piped up cheerfully. “You should invite him to dinner.”

    “But I…”

    “Don’t you agree, Richard?” Diana asked, putting a hand on his arm.

    He seemed to snap out of the daze he was in. “Yes. Yes, Katharine, we should meet this mysterious friend of yours.” Immediately after, his gaze darkened again as if his mind was somewhere else.

    Katharine fiddled with the blue ribbon on top of the stack. “I…okay,” she said, staring down at her hands.

    ------------

    The next day, she waited at her table for Holmes, nervously wringing her hands as she tried to read the book in front of her. Finally, after waiting for about a half an hour, a waiter approached her and handed her a small box. “A gentleman came by earlier today and left this for you. He extends his apologies that he was unable to have tea with you today.” The waiter bowed and disappeared as Katharine undid the ribbon around the box. Inside was an old quill pen and inkwell, both obviously antiques. She smiled as she turned over the card that simply read, “For your sketchings, S.H.”

    ------------

    “Have you had a chance to read through any of the books I sent you?” Moriarty asked, leaning back in his desk chair and studying Katharine as she fidgeted with her skirts.

    “I’ve been able to glance at them, yes…” She ducked her head. “Maybe it would be best for you not to send them to where we’re staying anymore…”

    “I was afraid that your mother and sister would get suspicious…”

    “They want to see this mysterious person, professor.”

    “Are you acquainted with anyone else in London?”

    She thought for a moment. “Actually…I am.”

    ------------

    “I must apologize again for missing our engagement yesterday,” Holmes said when he arrived the next day.

    “And I must thank you for the beautiful writing set you gave me…”

    He waved as if to say it was nothing. “I trust that you’ve been a bit too busy to sketch the past day or so.”

    She caught herself before she asked him how she knew, simply waiting for him to speak himself.

    “The sides of your right hand are usually covered with the residue of ink…but it seems as if it’s washed off considerably enough the past few days to tell me that you haven’t sketched at all.”

    “No…” She paused, fiddling with her skirts. “I’ve been distracted lately…”

    “What in the world could possibly have distracted you from the work you love the most?” Holmes leaned forward, interested in what she had to say.

    Reluctantly, she explained. “Well, I have a friend here in London…”

    “Whom you don’t wish for your parents to meet?”

    She stared at him. “Yes...They’ve asked me to invite him to dinner, but I…I can’t…”

    “Is he the one who has gifted you these books?” He motioned to the books spread across the table.

    “Yes, he is.” She paused, unsure of how to go on.

    “And you would like for me to serve as a substitute for him?”

    She was completely caught off guard by his statement. “I…I couldn’t ask you…”

    “Please,” he waved her words away. “I would be happy to stand in for this friend…Except…” He leaned forward. “I would like to know if he is the professor to whom you bring your drawings at Cambridge.”

    She paused, an angry look sparking in her eyes. “Now, Mr. Holmes, you’re just bordering on psychic.”

    He leaned back, obviously catching her uneasiness at his statement. “So, I am right.”

    “As you always are,” she pointed out, her anger soothing a bit.

    “When are your parents to have this friend to dinner?”

    “Tomorrow night.”

    “Then I shall be there, only I wish that you would not call me by my true name.”

    “Whom am I supposed to introduce you as?”

    “That will be a secret until tomorrow night, I’m afraid.”

    ------------

    “You’ve absolutely lost it now. What if Moriarty finds out that you know their connection? Wouldn’t she tip him off…even if she’s not a criminal…that their secret is known to someone else?” Watson asked as, the next night, Holmes got ready to leave for the dinner at the Jones’. “Besides which, what if he knows her father? He is an ambassador, after all.”
    “That’s what I hope to determine tonight, Watson. Whether or not both Joneses know of or are a part of Moriarty’s plans. So far, either Miss Jones is a good actor or knows nothing about his true identity. She seems to trust him completely even as far as to cover for him…Which begs the question…” He paused, his grey eyes staring into space for a few long minutes. Instead of waiting for him to finish his sentence, Watson returned to reading the daily newspaper which he hadn’t had a chance to read that day due to his work. Holmes had a habit of distracting himself with his own mind at times. If something sparked a question that he wanted to determine the answer to right away, Watson would have to wait for a few minutes up to a couple of hours for him to continue.

    Finally, after a few moments (it obviously wasn’t that tough of a question for him to wrap his mind around), Holmes spoke again, “Why in the world would she keep the fact that she is seeing Moriarty a secret from her parents?”

    Usually, when Holmes didn’t answer his own question immediately, Watson was free to input his own thoughts. He waited patiently for a few moments to see if his friend was going to finish, then answered, “Perhaps they’ve tried to discourage her from pursuing an academic career instead of a suitor. Surely, as soon as they get her sister married off…”

    “It doesn’t seem as if they deign to pay much attention to her at all in that regard. They’re not pushing her to find a suitor. In fact, they may have cause to believe that she’ll never find one.” Again, that strange look that Watson had spotted recently in Holmes’ eyes flashed, some kind of sad expression that was gone in an instant. What was it about this young woman that would make him any sort of sad? “It’s Moriarty who is pushing her to find a suitor, supposedly so she can stay in London long-term and devote all of her time to getting into Cambridge.”

    Watson glanced at his watch. “If you don’t leave now, you’re going to be late.” He pointed out, picking up the newspaper. “Good luck at this insane dinner party. For all you know, there will be a murderer as your host.”

    “Not just one, Watson. Two.” With that, Holmes swept out the door, leaving Watson to wonder at such a strange remark.

    ------------

    Katharine was so nervous that day that she arranged and re-arranged her books according to alphabetical order. First by author, then by subject, then by title and on and on. She had visited Moriarty earlier that day. He was interested to know whom she had found as his substitute, but she had refused to tell him, saying that it was just some kid that she knew once when she was a child visiting London. Holmes had told her to keep his true identity a secret. If he was right about how dangerous his current case was, she fully agreed with him. Besides, not many would recognize him. He took painstaking measures to keep his face out of the papers, even when his name filled the front page.

    Katharine was standing in the front hall when a loud knock issued at their front door. She rushed to answer it before their butler was even able to make it halfway down the hallway. She opened the door to see Holmes standing in the doorway. “Am I on time, Miss Jones?”

    She smiled. “Yes, please come in. My sister and my parents are already in the dining room.” She led him into the room where her father was speaking in low tones with her mother. Jessica was nowhere to be found. Katharine cleared her throat to get her parents’ attention. Diana’s blonde curls were drawn up above her neck, making her look so much younger and almost a copy of her two daughters. Richard had pitch-black hair that set him at a contrast the rest of the family. Both of them seemed surprised to see Holmes standing in their dining room. With an inward smile, Katharine believed that they had honestly thought she was bringing a suitor into the house.

    After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Holmes stepped forward, his best manners on show as he extended his hand to shake Richard’s, introducing himself before Katharine could get a chance to do so. “Ambassador, I must thank you for inviting me into your lovely home. My name is Dr. John Watson.”

    Katharine had to turn away from the scene before she burst out laughing. The day before, Holmes had told her that he would introduce himself to her parents with an alias…borrowing his physician friend’s name for the time being. Dr. John Watson wasn’t as well known as Holmes to the public, so using his name very briefly wouldn’t cause too much damage.

    She turned back around as Richard spoke, shaking Holmes’ hand hesitantly, as if he didn’t know what to make of the man or what to think of how Katharine knew him. “Well, we thank you for coming, Dr. Watson. May I introduce my wife, Miss Diana Jones…” He paused as Jessica entered the room, her face wearing a look of complete confusion. “…and my oldest daughter, Miss Jessica Jones.” He paused as Holmes bowed to both Diana and Jessica. “Jessica, this is Katharine’s…acquaintance…”

    Katharine tried not to laugh at the uncomfortable look on her father’s face. For a moment, she wondered if her parents thought she had brought home a suitor her father’s age. She was enjoying watching him squirm and wished that she had asked Holmes to play a different part than the one he had cooked up the day before.

    “A pleasure to meet you…Mr…” Jessica paused, her green eyes flashing.

    “Watson…Dr. John Watson.” He was playing the part perfectly. She wondered if the stage had lost a great performer the day Sherlock Holmes had decided to focus on putting criminals behind bars.
    Richard sat at the head of the table, while Diana and Jessica sat on one side and Katharine and Holmes on the other. “Now, Dr. Watson,” Richard started. “May I ask how you’ve come to know Katharine?”

    “I’ve run into her several times at the same teahouse here in London. Over time, we’ve been able to discuss all sorts of literature and sciences…”

    “Are you a professor?” Jessica asked.

    “I used to be,” he answered. “I decided to leave a few years ago to pursue my experiments freely…”

    “Then no wonder you get along so well. Katharine always has her head in a biology or chemistry book.”

    “Where did you use to lecture, Dr. Watson?” Diana asked.

    “At Oxford, but only in chemistry for a few short years.”

    “Ah, Richard has a friend who lectures at Cambridge in physics,” Diana said. Katharine stiffened, hoping that the conversation would pass quickly to the next subject.

    “And who might that be?”

    “Dr. James Moriarty,” Richard replied. “He’s taught there for quite some time. In fact, he was Jessica and Katharine’s tutor when they were young.”

    “Really?” He shot Katharine a glance that said she had failed to mention that fact. She shot a glance back that told him it had slipped her mind.

    “Yes, Katharine even took riding lessons from him…” Jessica added.

    “Astonishing that she developed a love for chemistry rather than physics, in that case.”

    “I hate physics,” Katharine said emphatically, with such a serious face that Holmes couldn’t help but laugh. Diana and Jessica shot her an amused look while Richard didn’t even react to her declaration.

    “Well, that settles it then,” Holmes said.

    “Settles what, Dr. Watson?” Diana asked.

    “I’ve been looking for an assistant in my laboratory, and, with your permission of course, Ambassador, would love to have Miss Jones come and work with me during the remainder of her stay here in London.”

  5. #5
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    Chapter Five



    For a few moments, everyone stared at Holmes in silence before Diana spoke up. “Why…” She turned to Richard. “I think that would be wonderful. Don’t you think, Richard?”

    He nodded, a serious look on his face. “Yes, it would be good for Katharine during our stay here. However, we’ll only be in London for a few more weeks, Dr. Watson.”

    “That is fine by me.”

    Jessica smiled. “Katharine’s always wanted to work in a research lab. This will be perfect for her.”

    Katharine, who had been surprised so thoroughly, she was speechless, simply nodded her head. “Um…yes, thank you so much, Dr. Watson.” While her parents and her sister weren’t looking, she shot him a glare, which he happily ignored.

    ------------

    “Why did you say that last night, Mr. Holmes?” Katharine asked.

    “Why did I say what?”

    “Say that I could work in your imaginary research lab as your assistant.”

    “I wasn’t lying.”

    “You have no lab.”

    “No, but I still need an assistant.”

    She frowned. Whatever would he need her for? “An assistant for what, Mr. Holmes?”

    “For my case. My friend Watson usually accompanies me when I do my investigating, but he is currently tied up at the moment with wedding arrangements,” Holmes answered, frowning as if he thought it incredibly inconvenient that is friend was getting married while he was working on such a major case.

    “He’s not going to be too happy that you used his name as an alias, Mr. Holmes,” Katharine pointed out, secretly pleased that he had chosen her to be his new assistant. From what she had read, he hated working with anyone else, especially the police. She still caught herself wondering why he would ask her. Why not someone else?

    “I’m sure once this case comes to an end, he’ll forgive me of this small indiscretion.”

    “So, are you going to tell me all of the details of your case?”

    “Why would I do that?”

    Katharine frowned. “Because I’m your assistant.”

    “All in good time, Miss Jones.”

    “What am I to do if I don’t know anything about your case? Run errands and the like?”

    “Yes, and help me keep track of my train of thought.”

    “That’s a pretty big job, Mr. Holmes,” she said, smiling. “You seem to distract yourself quite often.”

    “Precisely why I need someone to help un-distract me.”

    “By the way, my parents told me last night that they would like for you to attend the Ambassador’s Ball being held here in London this weekend as their guest. They said that you can bring a friend or two…though you would have to introduce Dr. Watson by another name, I suppose.”

    “I don’t believe that will be necessary. By the time of the ball, I may be at a position in my case to take the liberty of introducing myself without an alias.”

    She frowned again. “And then will you tell me the details of the case?”

    “Perhaps…”

    She sighed. “You must have a suspect in mind who is in a powerful position.”

    “Yes. Yes, I do.” Holmes studied her for a moment to gauge her reaction, but she seemed unsurprised, though highly curious. “Now, where is this ball being held?”

    ------------

    “Oh, Katharine, you really should have worn a more colorful dress. You still look as if you are in mourning,” Jessica complained as they stepped out of the carriage, preparing to walk up the steps and into the ballroom.

    Katharine ran her hands nervously over her night-black dress, smoothing out the silky material. Jessica’s dress was a bright red, sure to garner some attention, even though she no longer looked for it since she and Grayson started courting. Katharine’s white-gloved fists clinched at that thought. It was always painful to see her sister and Grayson together, especially in public, where everyone spoke of the upcoming engagement and how beautiful the couple was together. Katharine could only stand back, ignoring the many looks she herself garnered. Man after man had approached her over the past few years, but she had rejected them all. None of them could hold a candle to sweet, true, and intelligent Grayson Strauss.

    She caught a glimpse of Ambassador Hans Strauss nearby, a well-built, grey-haired man in his late fifties. He looked stern and intimidating to most, but, once one got to know him, he was all kindness. His son stood beside him, his brown hair shining in the light from the candles, his blue eyes sparking as he took everything in around him. Grayson Strauss was a younger copy of his father, both with the same enchanting, intelligent eyes that took in everything around them. As soon as he spotted Jessica and Katharine standing behind their parents, waiting to go inside, he stepped over to escort Jessica to the ball.

    Before presenting his arm to her sister, Grayson turned to her, an inquisitive look in his eye. “Katharine, are you without an escort?” A flash of sadness filled his eyes as if he himself would rather escort her. The pain at seeing her sister and Grayson together was thoroughly dulled by the fact that she knew in his heart of hearts, Grayson returned her affection. This was simply a political marriage, made to unite Austria-Hungary and America. As the son and daughter of ambassadors, that was their job at this stage in their lives.

    Katharine held back the sensation of tears stinging her eyes when she heard someone behind her say, “I apologize for being late, Miss Jones.” She turned to see Holmes standing behind her. A tall man with sandy brown hair and a short mustache accompanied him. He was clothed in a military dress uniform and escorted a pretty woman with white-blond hair. They let the Joneses and Grayson and Jessica step ahead before Holmes spoke. “May I introduce the real Dr. John Watson and his fiancé Miss Mary Morstan.” Watson and Mary both nodded to her as Holmes introduced her. “This is Miss Katharine Jones, Ambassador Jones’ daughter.”

    “A pleasure to finally meet you, Miss Jones,” Watson said.

    “Oh, has Mr. Holmes spoken of me? All flattering things, I hope,” she smiled.

    “Yes, I’ve seen several of your drawings.”

    “Really? The ones I dropped on the street a few weeks ago?”

    “They’re quite remarkable.”

    “Well, we better join Ambassador Jones and his wife inside,” Holmes said, holding out his arm for Katharine to take.

    “So, am I to introduce you as Mr. Holmes?” She asked as they made their way into the ballroom.

    “Of course,” he replied, scanning the room, his eyes lingering on someone for a few moments. Katharine followed his line of sight to see that it was Moriarty. The professor glanced back, a quick look of amusement crossing his face.

    “Ah, Dr. Watson, so good of you to make it,” Diana said, stepping up to speak to them as Richard walked over to address Moriarty. Holmes followed his advance for a few moments before turning to Diana and smiling.

    “I must confess, ma’am, that I have deceived you in telling you that my name is Dr. John Watson.”

    A confused look spread across her face. “Then who is Dr. Watson?”

    Holmes turned to Watson, who was standing beside him. “May I introduce the real Dr. John Watson. Watson, this is Mrs. Diana Jones, the wife of Ambassador Jones.”

    “A pleasure to meet you doctor, but…who exactly are you, then…?”

    “My real name is Sherlock Holmes. I apologize for deceiving you. I was in the middle of a break in a very dangerous case, and I could not disclose my true name.”

    Her eyes widened in surprise. “Mr. Sherlock Holmes? The detective who stopped Lord Blackwood from causing that disaster in the House of Lords last year?”

    “The very same.”

    She smiled. “Katharine has collected all of the news clippings of your cases that have come to America. She and my older daughter’s fiancé are your biggest fans.”

    “Mother…” Katharine said, ducking her head in embarrassment in front of her new employer, who laughed in amusement.

    At that time, Grayson and Jessica came by, Jessica interested in introducing him to the man she thought was Dr. Watson. Grayson, however, had caught his true introduction, and a look of excitement crossed his face. “I didn’t know that you knew Mr. Holmes, Katharine.”

    “I…yes…I…”

    “She is my new assistant in my latest case.”

    “Really? That’s amazing,” Grayson said.

    At that time, Richard returned, followed by Moriarty. Katharine was a bit excited to introduce Holmes and Moriarty, but something was strange. It looked as if the two men had met before.

    “Ah, Dr. Watson, I’m glad that you could come,” Richard said. “May I introduce my friend, Dr. James Moriarty.”

    “I’m afraid you have the wrong name”

    “What?” Richard asked confused.

    “Richard, Katharine’s friend is really a detective on a very important case,” Diana said.

    “Sherlock Holmes,” Holmes said, extending his hand to shake Moriarty’s. Katharine thought she saw a spark of animosity between the two gentlemen, but she probably imagined it.

    “Ah, Mr. Holmes. I’ve heard many stories about your…powers of deduction,” Moriarty said.

    “Well, they are sometimes only obvious observances.”

    “Perhaps to you. Not as much to the rest of us.” Moriarty smiled. Katharine sensed that something else was occurring in this conversation, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

    “Come on, Grayson, we should dance,” Jessica said, leading Grayson away, starting the break-up of the group. Richard and Diana stepped away, and Moriarty excused himself to go and speak to another ambassador. Watson shot Holmes a look before he led Mary away.

    “Shall we dance, Miss Jones?”

    “Certainly.”

    It was hard at first. Katharine was a good foot or so shorter than Holmes, but, after a while, they had fallen into pace.

    “Have you been previously introduced to Professor Moriarty before?”

    “What makes you say that, Miss Jones?”

    “It seems as if the two of you know each other already,” Katharine pointed out.

    Holmes looked away. “We may have been introduced in passing before. Now, I sense that you are not exactly happy with this arrangement between your sister and Mr. Strauss.”

    She glared at him. “What makes you say that?” She couldn’t exactly blame herself for letting her emotions slip in front of Holmes. He would have come to the same deduction even without her input. Before he could answer, she quickly added in a hushed voice, “I would appreciate it if you would please keep that piece of information to yourself, Mr. Holmes.”

    “Why, certainly. I wouldn’t dream of disclosing that to anyone,” he assured her, watching as she glanced over in the direction of Grayson, her blue eyes sparking with both worry and sadness.

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    Chapter Six



    Holmes was afraid for a few moments that he had angered her. His plan depended on getting information from Katharine. Anger would only drive her more to Moriarty’s side, even if she weren’t involved in his criminal enterprise. He wasn’t ready yet to disclose to her that the suspect that he spoke of was her mentor, but, at least he had made it clear to Moriarty that he was on his trail.

    After realizing a few days after the dinner with the Joneses, that, most likely, Richard Jones had no dealings in Moriarty’s empire and was simply a political friend to be influenced, Holmes had been partly convinced that he could disclose his true identity to Katharine’s family. Then, after confirming that, in fact, Moriarty would be attending the ball, he thought over whether it was or was not wise to introduce himself openly to the professor.

    Of course, the introduction proved to gain the absolute knowledge that Katharine was not a criminal accomplice of Moriarty’s. Moriarty neither looked worried that Holmes was acquainted with Katharine (which meant that, either he was sure that she wouldn’t tell him of anything or that she indeed knew nothing) nor did Katharine look worried about introducing Holmes to Moriarty (proving that she knew nothing about Moriarty’s empire or that she believed that Holmes knew nothing). Taken all together and by Katharine’s actions over the previous few weeks, Holmes concluded that Katharine was completely ignorant of Moriarty’s true identity.

    However, that didn’t exactly mean that he could not still glean information of Moriarty’s daily events from her. Who he met with regularly in an academic setting, what projects he was currently interested in. Katharine in herself was a case study. Why was Moriarty putting so much time and energy into getting her into Cambridge? From the way he regarded Katharine, he might be doing this without an end game in mind, simply because he cared about her. Still, he might have an alternative plan in mind.

    All in all, he was glad that he had decided to come to the ball. He would be able to observe Moriarty as well as speak with Katharine even more. Obviously, Grayson Strauss was a touchy subject for her…

    And that’s when inspiration struck him.

    ------------

    After a few moments of awkward silence that followed their conversation about Grayson, Katharine could see Holmes getting that far away look in his eye that told her that he had struck upon an idea or was thinking about his case…or that he had distracted himself again.

    She cleared her throat. It was, after all, her job to stop him from distracting himself with his own thoughts. “Mr. Holmes, may I presume that Dr. Watson was previously in the military?”

    From the surprised look on his face, she guessed that she had been right. She was secretly pleased that her own deductions impressed him. “Did he tell you this himself?”

    She shrugged. “No, not really. I just assumed from his mannerisms and the cane that he walks with…he must have previously been in the army and in Afghanistan.”

    Holmes gave her an odd look that could have passed for pride under other sorts of circumstances. She took it as approval under the present conditions. “Right you are. I believe I made the perfect choice in selecting as assistant.” Before she could ask, once again, about the details of his case, he added, “I will present the full case before you within the next few days.”

    “Okay,” she said, a bit said that he wouldn’t tell her. The dance ended and they stopped momentarily. Someone cleared their throat, and she turned to see Moriarty standing beside her.

    “May I have the next dance, Katharine?” He asked. Holmes excused himself, his eyes meeting Moriarty’s for a few moments before he left, crossing the room in the direction of Watson and Mary. Katharine watched him go a few moments before taking Moriarty’s hand.

    ------------

    Mary had abandoned Watson for a few moments to speak with one of Ambassador Strauss’ nieces, a young woman around Katharine’s age with chestnut brown hair. Holmes stepped up to Watson, who glanced around him, his eyes widening as he watched Katharine and Moriarty dance. “Are you sure it was wise to introduce yourself to him?”

    “I gained many valuable insights from that introduction, Watson. It came with some risks, but we will deal with those in turn.”

    “What’s your next move, then?”

    “You wouldn’t happen to know where Grayson Strauss went, would you?”

    Watson frowned. “He’s speaking with some of the other ambassadors.”

    Holmes followed his line of sight to where Grayson stood, immediately making his way over to speak to the ambassador’s son.

    ------------

    “Have there been any more developments on how long your parents intend to stay in London?” Moriarty asked.

    “I believe we’re staying only a few weeks more,” Katharine replied.

    “Have you given any more thought to my idea?”

    She shook her head. “I…I couldn’t possibly marry simply to stay here in London.”

    “Of course not. Katharine, I don’t want to force you into a situation you don’t wish to be in. I’m simply concerned that you’ll lose such a grand opportunity.”

    “Thank you, Professor…”

    “I must admit that I’m surprised that you know Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”

    “Oh, we only met a few weeks ago. I dropped one of my sketches on the street and he kindly returned it to me.”

    “Yes…I suspect that he’s following the case of the recent bombings around London quite closely.”

    Katharine didn’t reply. She had been sworn to secrecy, after all.

    “Have you spoken to Grayson?” Moriarty asked, interrupting her thoughts.

    “About what, Professor?”

    “Neither of you is very happy about the coming arrangements. It may be time for this to come to an end.”

    She shook her head. “It has to be done. It’s too far gone now.”

    “That’s a pity. The two of you would have been very happy together.”

    ------------

    Grayson turned away from the ambassadors as Holmes approached. “Ah, Mr. Holmes. I was hoping that I would get to speak with you.”

    “Good, because I have a subject on which I must have a word with you,” Holmes replied.

    Grayson shot him a confused look. “Really, sir?”

    “Yes, but I’m afraid it is a private manner.”

    The ambassadors had resumed the conversation without Grayson, who quickly excused himself and followed Holmes into a nearby empty corridor that spun off from the ballroom. “Now, what is this about, Mr. Holmes?”

    “Katharine Jones, of course.”

    “What about Katharine?”

    “As you know, I have spoken to her on many an occasion before asking her to become my assistant. She seems to be very enamored of you.”

    Grayson cast a glance around before glaring at him. “Mr. Holmes…” He said firmly.

    “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. I simply wanted to ask you how long do you think that you will be able to keep up this charade?”

    A flash of indignation crossed Grayson’s voice before he relaxed a bit. “I’m afraid that my hands are tied,” he said sadly.

    “Are they really?”

    “My marriage to Jessica will help make a very strong connection between Austria-Hungary and America.”

    “And how would your marriage to Miss Jones be any different?”

    “As a matter of convention in political marriages and elsewhere, Mr. Holmes, you know that the oldest daughter…”

    “Gets married first, of course, but what harm would come with the younger daughter in this case? Is Ambassador Strauss not very fond of her?”

    “The exact opposite, sir.”

    “From the expression on your face, I would suspect that he would actually be happier if that arrangement is made.”

    “The Joneses would not. In fact, I’m quite sure that Ambassador Jones would turn down any question…”

    “You’ve already asked him for Miss Jessica Jones’ hand in marriage?”

    “No…not yet.”

    “Then this is quite the opportunity you have here, Mr. Strauss!” Holmes said, smiling excitedly. “I do confess that this would benefit me as well. Miss Jones is turning out to be a most valuable assistant, and it just won’t do to see her moping around after watching you get married off to her own sister, of all people.”

    A determined look flashed in Grayson’s eyes, and he stood up a little straighter. “You’re right, Mr. Holmes. It’s time I fixed this.”

    “And if he says no?” Holmes asked as Grayson made his way back to the ballroom, stopping the young man in his tracks.

    Grayson turned back and smiled. “We’re almost at the turn of a new century. With the passing of time comes the changing of traditions. I love Katharine enough to not take no for an answer from anyone but her.”

    “I’m sure she would be very pleased with that answer,” Holmes responded before Grayson continued down the hall.

    ------------

    As Grayson stepped back into the ballroom, Jessica took his arm once again, smiling up at him. “Are you enjoying the ball, Grayson?”

    “I…yes…Jessica.” He unlinked his arm from hers and took both of her hands in his own. “There’s something I must ask your father.”

    Her eyes widened in excitement. “Oh, Grayson…”

    He ducked his head, turning to step towards Ambassador Jones, avoiding all eye contact with Jessica.

    ------------

    As the song ended, Katharine glanced over to where Grayson was approaching Ambassador Jones. Moriarty followed her gaze before she ducked her head, saying with finality. “Well, Professor, it’s too late now.”

    ------------

    Holmes rejoined Watson, keeping an eye on Grayson and the Joneses.

    “What did you just do, Holmes?” Watson asked, sensing that he had been up to something.

    “Just be quiet and watch the show, Watson. All will be revealed shortly.”

  7. #7
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    Chapter Seven



    Richard looked up as Grayson approached him. “Ambassador Jones, there is something I must ask you,” he said in a determined voice.

    Richard turned to him, listening as if he knew what the question would be. “Yes, Mr. Strauss?”

    Jessica, who was standing nearby, leaned in expectantly, as did Diana.

    “I would like to ask for your youngest daughter’s hand in marriage.”

    There was a pause. A heavy silence reigned. Jessica and Diana froze, not believing their ears. Richard coughed and looked at him quizzically. “I beg your pardon?”

    “I would like to ask you for Katharine’s hand in marriage.”

    The silence resumed. Finally, Jessica spoke up, her hands trembling as she grasped her skirts to keep herself standing. “I…Grayson…I don’t understand. This…” She looked from Richard to Grayson and back. “This…” She smiled, laughing. “Is this some kind of joke?”

    Grayson looked at her, extremely serious. “No, Jessica, it isn’t.”

    “I don’t understand…”

    “Jessica.” He took her hands in both of his again. “I’m sorry, but…I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t have feelings for you…I’m in love with someone else, and I don’t think it is at all fair for us to marry with this in between us. I want you to be happy…and…I’m sure that you’d be able to see how I couldn’t be with you.”

    “How long?” She demanded in a high voice. Then, she narrowed her eyes and asked more sternly. “How long, Grayson? How long have you known that you loved Katharine more than me?”

    “Since we were children.”

    She wrenched her hands away in disgust. “You’ve been seeing each other behind my back, haven’t you?” She snapped.

    “Jessica…”

    “No,” she shook her head wildly. “No…Father.” She turned to Richard. “Before you even consider answering his question…there’s something you need to know about Katharine.”

    ------------

    Katharine and Moriarty watched from a distance as Jessica shouted something at Grayson. Katharine’s eyes widened as she realized what happened. “No…” She shook her head. “No…Grayson, you didn’t…” She whispered, making her way towards where her parents, Grayson, and Jessica stood. Moriarty followed after her, a concerned look on his face.

    ------------

    Watson could see the commotion from where he stood. He spun around to fix a glare on Holmes. “My God, Holmes, what did you do?”

    “Just set the wheel into motion…”

    “Holmes, you’re dealing with an ambassador’s family here….two families to be exact. What in the world did you say to Grayson Strauss?”

    “That he should reconsider marrying Jessica Jones and consider marrying the young woman he really loves.”

    “And who would that be?”

    “Katharine Jones,” he said matter-of-factly.

    Watson stared at him in disbelief. “Do you mean to say that you just broke up a political marriage for…what? Your own benefit in this case?”

    “Well, please look at it from Mr. Strauss and Katharine’s point of view. They don’t want to be forced into that situation, and I don’t want to see her…”

    He caught himself midsentence, but Watson was too fast. He was already livid enough. He wasn’t going to let Holmes forget his misstep. “You don’t want to see her what, Holmes? You don’t want to see Miss Jones forced to watch her sister marry the man she loves?” He stopped and thought for a second, realization dawning on him. “This isn’t for some gain in your case…you really care about Miss Jones, don’t you?”

    “That’s absurd,” Holmes snapped. “This is merely for the best for all of us.”

    “Holmes, you just addressed her as Katharine.”

    “To distinguish her from her sister.”

    “You could have just called her the younger Jones sister.”

    “That would have taken longer to say.”

    “You’re not lazy enough to disregard such rules of etiquette, Holmes.” Watson glared at him. “There’s something else going on, isn’t there?”

    “No. Just watch…”

    “Holmes,” Watson said sternly. “There’s something you’re not telling me about Miss Jones. There’s something you know…”

    “It’s of no consequence to this case, and is a highly secretive piece of information.”

    Watson crossed his arms. “You don’t trust me to keep a secret?”

    “It’s dangerous. This secret is dangerous.”

    “Try me.”

    ------------

    Katharine stepped up just in time for Jessica to give her a nasty glare. Diana was still shell-shocked and Richard looked almost livid, but had his eyes on Jessica, waiting for her to disclose what she had to say about Katharine. Grayson shot Moriarty a look of please help. The professor gave him a sympathetic look that said he was on Grayson’s side.

    “Father, Mother, Mr. Holmes is not Katharine’s London friend. Katharine has been sneaking out to Cambridge for our past few trips to London in order to take the entrance exams there.”

    Richard shot Katharine a piercing gaze. “What? Is this true, Katharine?”

    “Father, I…”

    “Katharine, why didn’t you tell us?” Diana demanded, albeit softly, as if she were hurt by the idea that Katharine would keep such a secret.

    She looked down at her feet. “You told me years ago that I couldn’t attend the university.”

    “Of course not,” her father interrupted. “We’ve tried to discourage you from this business long enough. You are never going to find a suitor who respects you if you go into the college.”

    Grayson was about to speak up in her defense, but Moriarty gave him a look that said that he should say nothing more in this argument. Grayson nodded and ducked his head.

    “Who, then, is your London friend, Katharine?” Richard demanded.

    Before Katharine could open her mouth, Moriarty placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and stepped forward. “I am, Richard. I’ve been coaching Katharine for the entrance examinations and her engineering pursuits for the past four years.”

    Richard glared at him. “Why would you do such a thing, James? Behind my back, no less.”

    “Katharine has intellectual talents that would be wasted outside of academia,” he said simply. “I refuse to watch them go to waste.”

    “Well.” Richard turned to Grayson. “The answer to your question Mr. Strauss is no,” he said firmly. “I refuse to let you make a mockery out of one of my daughters and a spectacle out of the other.” He turned to Katharine. “And no daughter of mine is going to waste her life in the university.”

    “But, Father…it’s my dream.”

    “So be it, then. I will consider myself as having only one child.”

    Shock rushed through Katharine as Richard stepped away. She couldn’t believe that he would say such a thing. They had never been close, and he had always been somewhat cold to her, but she could never imagine him being so harsh and cruel as he had been in that one simple sentence. She tried to call out to have him stop, but she could only watch as Diana followed after him, shooting worried glances back at Katharine. Jessica stormed off, too disgusted to even look at her sister any longer.

    Katharine was cold with shock for a few moments, barely even registering Moriarty’s firm hand on her shoulder as he told Grayson that he would take care of her for the time being.

    ------------

    “Now what are you going to do?” Watson asked as he and Holmes watched Moriarty lead Katharine into one of the side corridors. Holmes stared after them, only snapping back into focus at the sound of Watson’s voice.

    “I am going to gather up the pieces,” he answered, stepping forward to follow Moriarty and Katharine.

    ------------

    Katharine paced back and forth, trying not to cry. Moriarty looked on in silence, his arms crossed as he thoughtfully watched her. “I…what…what am I going to do?” She stammered, wringing her hands. “I…Father’s so mad. I didn’t mean to disappoint him so much…” She shook her head, tears running down her cheeks. “I should do as he says. I should stop trying…”

    “Now, Katharine,” Moriarty murmured, placing both hands on her shoulders. “I believe that Richard is overreacting. He’s simply mad that we kept this a secret for so long. I’m sure that, once he has some time to think over these events, he’ll calm down and be rational…”

    ------------

    Holmes entered the other end of the corridor, watching as Katharine burst into tears, placing her head on Moriarty’s shoulder as she shook with sobs. He wrapped his arms around her in a comforting gesture. He looked up to see Holmes watching silently, a concerned look on the detective’s face. A flash of triumph crossed Moriarty’s face for only an instant before he returned his focus to Katharine.

    Holmes took a few steps back, his gaze not leaving Katharine’s face. A wave of pain flashed through him as he ducked his head, not being able to take the sight any longer. He thought over his next move. The had to approach Katharine before she left that night. That was essential to his plan. He ducked back out of the corridor, feeling small pricks of guilt at having caused Katharine’s suffering.

    ------------

    Katharine didn’t know what she was going to do next. There was no telling what Richard would do at that moment. She had never seen him so mad before, and his words still rang in her head, hurting her every time they echoed. After she calmed down from the initial shock and cry, she stepped back and tried to look at her situation.

    She needed to apologize to her parents, but make sure to emphasize to them that entering academia was her lifelong dream and that she would not be intimidated by anyone into giving up Grayson for the sake of a political marriage. From the spiteful way Jessica had told their parents about her secret, it had become clear to Katharine that her sister may not have been as in love with Grayson as she had been in love with the thought of being the wife of a powerful ambassador. It was all for appearances. While guilt still rushed through her veins, she couldn’t help but think that this may have been for the best…at least for her and Grayson’s future. The two ambassadors would not be happy about this. At least Grayson had left Jessica for Richard’s younger daughter and not someone outside of the family.

    She made the decision to start with repairing the current situation. She would apologize to her father for lying to him, then apologize to her sister for keeping the fact that she was in love with Grayson from her for years.

    “I need to speak to Father,” she muttered, stepping back from Moriarty. She left the corridor in a hurry, not glancing back to see Moriarty watching her as she swept down the hall, nearly running into Holmes during her retreat.

    “Is everything okay, Miss Jones?” He asked in a slightly concerned voice.

    “No, I…no. I just…” She stammered.

    “If you must extend your stay here in London, might I remind you that your new position as my assistant includes room and board.”

    Her eyes widened in surprise. “Mr. Holmes…you don’t have to…”

    “Please. I couldn’t possibly leave you without a place to stay after your parents leave London.”

    The horrible thought seized Katharine that Richard and Diana may very possibly leave her in London, banishing and disowning her for what she had done. Diana would plead with her husband not to be so harsh, but Katharine knew her father. Richard Jones would not be made a spectacle of, especially in front of an entire ballroom full of ambassadors. She would be without a home, stranded here in London. At least she had a job…and her dream…and quite possibly Grayson.

    She turned away, looking for her father amongst the crowd of ambassadors, trying not to cry in front of Holmes in front of all people. She was frustrated at her circumstances, hurt terribly by her father’s words, and touched that Holmes cared enough to offer her a place to stay during her time of need. “Thank you, Mr. Holmes,” she said, hurrying back into the ballroom as she saw Richard Jones shrug on his coat and leave the hall.

  8. #8
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    Chapter Eight



    Watson couldn’t help but fix Holmes with a glare as his friend descended the steps of the hall, obviously please with himself and how his plan had turned out. Mary stood nearby, watching Holmes with a careful eye. Mary had always been a bit wary around his friend, who had desperately tried on several occasions to break the two of them up. Luckily, this case was drawing his full attention, and, now that Katharine was likely moving into Baker Street, he would have some company.

    After the first few evenings after Holmes’ meetings with Katharine, he had expressed praise about her drawings and mind.

    “Are you happy with yourself now?” Watson asked as Holmes approached them.

    “Why, yes, I believe my plan worked perfectly.”

    “Yes, perfectly in that Miss Jones has been fully estranged from her family and Ambassador Jones now has to deal with a failed political engagement. Do you know what this means in terms of relations…”

    “Yes, yes,” Holmes dismissed his argument with a wave of his hand. “And just think how those relations would be once Moriarty’s plans have been put into action.”

    Watson froze. “You don’t think whatever he’s scheming is on a global level, do you?”

    “Yes, in fact, I do believe that whatever his plans are, they may end up in a global war.”

    ------------

    “Father!” Katharine called out, stopping Richard from leaving the hall. He turned a cold eye to her as she stepped forward. “I’m so sorry…I apologize for not speaking to you about my taking the exams…”

    “There’s no need to talk, Katharine. We’re leaving London, and you will stay here.”

    “But, Father!” It was too late. Richard had already turned away, stepping out the door with Jessica right behind him, her sister shooting her one last glare before leaving. Katharine stared after them until she felt her mother’s hand on her arm. Katharine turned to see tears in Diana’s eyes.

    “Katharine…I’ll speak to your father. You don’t deserve such harsh punishment. Perhaps I should have spoken to Richard sooner about letting you take those exams…” She squeezed Katharine’s hands before hugging her tightly. “Will you be staying with James?”

    “Um…no, I won’t…I’m taking that job as an assistant for Mr. Holmes. I’ll be staying with him.”

    Diana stepped back, smiling sadly. “Good. I feel better about leaving you with him.” Before Katharine could ask her what she meant by that, her mother said good-bye and hurried after her father and sister.

    “Is everything all right?” Katharine turned to see Grayson standing by her, a deeply sorrowful expression on his face.

    She shook her head. “They’re leaving me here.”

    “What? That’s insane…”

    “I’ll be staying with Mr. Holmes in the time being. Please see me there…” She turned away, but he caught her arm.

    “Listen, I’m so sorry…this may not have been the right time…”

    “Grayson, it had to happen. At least it happened when I had someone to turn to in the aftermath.”

    He smiled sadly. “Will you still see me now that I’ve ruined your life.”

    She smiled back. “You haven’t ruined my life Grayson. I did a fine job of messing it up on my own.”

    Grayson nodded and left. Katharine made her way for the front doors, only to be stopped by Moriarty. “Do you have a place to stay?”

    “I…I, yes…I have a friend here in London I can stay with.”

    “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

    “Yes, yes I will,” she nodded, rushing through the doors and wondering why she had stopped herself from telling him that she would be staying with Holmes.

    ------------

    “There she is,” Holmes said as Katharine made her way down the front steps to their small party. She kept her head down until she reached them.

    “Did you have a chance to speak with your father?” Watson asked.

    “Yes…I guess I’m to stay here in London for the time being until he cools down,” Katharine replied.

    “Do you need us to send for your things?” Watson asked.

    “No, I think I should go and collect them myself.”

    “Why don’t I go with you?” Mary asked. “We can take a different carriage and meet back at Baker Street.”

    “Are you sure?” Watson asked.

    “Yes. I think the Joneses would respond better to my showing up at their door rather than you or Mr. Holmes.” She shot Holmes an icy glare that confused Katharine.

    “Why would you think that?” She asked.

    “I think you best be going now,” Holmes interrupted quickly. “It’s getting quite late, after all…”

    “You can take the carriage we arrived in,” Watson added.

    “Thank you, doctor,” Katharine said as she and Mary stepped away. Watson turned to Holmes, still mad about the night’s events.

    “So you’re not going to tell her that you set these events into motion.”

    “Why should I?”

    “Well, then, at the very least you should tell her what you told me.”

    “No,” Holmes said firmly as they turned to find another carriage.

    “Holmes…”

    “It is not yet the time…”

    “When will it be the time?”

    “That I haven’t decided yet.”

    “Well, make it soon. This doesn’t need to be dragged out any longer.”

    Holmes shot him a long look before walking down the street.

    ------------

    Mary knocked on the door of the Joneses residence. The maid opened it in only a few moments. “Hello, I’m Mary Morstan, a friend of Miss Katharine Jones. I’m here to help her collect her things.” The maid led them inside and up the stairs to Katharine’s room. At the top of the stairs stood Jessica, not too pleased to see either of them.

    “What are you doing here?” She demanded of Katharine.

    “Collecting my things.”

    “I don’t believe you should be here…”

    “Please, this will only take a moment,” Mary said so sternly that Jessica immediately shut up and backed off. Diana appeared, showing them both into Katharine’s room.

    “Mother, you don’t have to help me…why don’t you get changed?” Katharine said. Diana shot her a sad look, but left all the same. Katharine closed the door and turned to her bags still in the corner.

    “My, you have a lot of books,” Mary muttered, bending over the many stacks on Katharine’s floor. She was startled by a meow at her ear and looked up to see a pretty Himalayan golden tabby leaning over her shoulder and purring in her ear. “What a beautiful cat!” She exclaimed, rubbing behind his ears.

    Katharine smiled. “That’s Homer. He was a gift to me from Professor Moriarty when I turned twelve.” Katharine shut the last trunk and looked around at her bare room. “I’ll get the butler to take these things to our carriage.”

    As the butler brought down her things, Katharine picked up Homer, who slid onto her shoulder and sat there, watching everything. Jessica and Richard refused to see her off, but Diana prattled on and on about her keeping in touch with them. Finally, Katharine and Mary climbed into the carriage, Homer sitting on Katharine’s lap as they left.

    “Have you known Mr. Holmes long?” Mary asked.

    “For only a few weeks, really.”

    Mary smiled. “This should be interesting. He’s…hard to get along with.”

    “Really? I never noticed that.”

    “And we’ve noticed that you get along exceptionally well with him. That’s good, it should make things easier.”

    “Make what easier?”

    “Living with him,” Mary said simply. “John has told me all about how hard it is…the practicing violin at two in the morning, running chemical experiments on his dog…”

    “I knew he was eccentric…”

    “Yes, but now you’ll get to see it up close.”

    When they reached the house, Watson helped bring her bags into the spare room upstairs. Homer immediately jumped down from her shoulder to explore, dashing expertly in between Watson’s legs and sprinting into the hallway, finally disappearing into a cracked door a few feet from her own. Katharine thought nothing of it until she heard a yell, a crash, and Holmes’ voice shouting, “Who let this infernal cat in here?!”

    Katharine, mortified, dropped one of her bags, spilling its contents all over the floor as she rushed for the door, flinging it open to see Holmes standing in the middle of the room, still dressed in his formal attire, trying to find that “infernal cat.” Katharine stifled a laugh as Homer, sneaky as only cats can be, climbed up his back, sitting on his shoulder, very pleased to be there.

    Homer had always climbed on her shoulder to get a better view of everything and because he was so fond of her. He had never done so to anyone else, and now he got a good deal. Holmes was a good foot or so taller than she, and, apparently, Homer had taken a liking to him in the few seconds he had spent in the house.

    Holmes, however, seemed to not like cats, or animals in general. For a few seconds, she hoped he wasn’t allergic to cats, but then realized that he just plain hated them. He shot Homer a look of disapproval as the cat looked around the room, glad to be able to see at new heights he had never experienced before.

    Before the situation got too out of hand, Katharine finally spoke up. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Holmes. I’ll try and keep Homer in my room.”

    “What?” Apparently the cat attack had confused him somewhat. He still looked ready to strike at the feline, even though Homer had the advantage.

    “Homer. He’s my cat…”

    “You didn’t mention you had a cat.” From the way he said it, she suddenly worried that he was having second thoughts about the arrangement. Seeing that she was worried, he tried his best not to look overly angry about the situation.

    “I’m sorry, I should have, Mr. Holmes.”

    “The cat’s name is Homer?” He asked in a voice that said he wanted her to get Homer off of him as soon as possible. She stepped forward, trying not to burst into laughter. The great Sherlock Holmes subdued by one Himalayan tabby. She picked up Homer, who immediately jumped onto her shoulder.

    “Yes, Professor Moriarty gave him to me as a birthday present when I was a child,” she said. Holmes had immediately relaxed as soon as she took the cat away. She refused to believe that he was actually afraid of cats. That wasn’t right. Maybe he was just disturbed by them.

    “Of course he did,” Holmes said off-handedly, trying to brush all of the cat fur off of his coat. Katharine refrained from helping him, thinking that that would somehow make the situation even worse.

    “Miss Jones?” Watson called out from the other room. “Could you and Holmes come in here for a moment?” His voice sounded a bit rattled, and she immediately knew which bag she had dropped previously while bolting to help Holmes.

    Followed by Holmes, who kept his eye on Homer, she stepped into her new room where Mary and Watson were staring at the assorted guns and knives that had fallen out of her bag.

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    Chapter Nine



    There were a few moments of silence as those gathered in the room stared at the contents of the spilled bag. Now, Katharine felt uneasy. Holmes’ disapproval of Homer was one thing, but this…she had hoped that he wouldn’t find out about the contents of this particular bag. These had all been, over the years, gifts from Sebastian and Moriarty, both of who had taught her how to shoot, fight, and ride horses. Grayson had participated in these lessons as well, but had not trained to the extent she had. Sebastian was an excellent marksman and had trained her so well, she had overtaken him several times in competition. Moriarty, who had boxed during his years at Cambridge, had taught her how to fight and had encouraged her to learn several different styles of martial arts, all of which she had used on Sebastian from one time to another.

    Finally, Watson spoke up, an astonished and disbelieving look still plastered on his face. “It looks like you brought an arsenal with you to England.” He bent down to examine the various handguns she had brought. Her shotgun didn’t fit in her bag…neither had the bow and arrow she had started learning how to shoot with before their trip to England. “Where did you get all of these?”

    She was reluctant to tell them, but, she would do anything to save her position as Holmes’ assistant. Things had been going downhill since she had arrived only half an hour earlier. “They are all gifts from Professor Moriarty and one of my childhood friends…”

    This got Holmes’ attention. He apparently hadn’t been too shocked by the assorted display of weapons she had brought into his home. In fact, he had already picked up a few of the knives and guns to study, extremely interested in their make and how they handled. “Would this childhood friend happen to be name Sebastian Moran?” He asked, studying one of her favorite blades that Moriarty had brought her back from a trip to Japan, somewhere she had always wished to go.

    She had seen his deductive powers at work before, but never heard him pull a name like that seemingly out of thin air. “How…how did you know?”

    “Do you know where Mr. Strauss is presently?” He interrupted.

    “Yes, at his parents’ home here in London…”

    “We should send for him immediately. In the meantime, perhaps Miss Morstan would like to return home…?”

    “I’ll return with you,” Watson said. “I’ll be back.” He left the room with Mary, leaving Katharine and Holmes to themselves.

    “One more question, Miss Jones.”

    “Yes?”

    “Do you know how to use any of these efficiently?”

    “I…I’ve had some training.”

    “How extensive?”

    “Very much so.”

    “And who trained you?”

    “Sebastian and the professor.”

    “As I suspected.” He stood up, frowning as Homer tried to follow him out of the room. “Well, Katharine, things are becoming much more clear…” He said, trailing off as he studied the small arsenal from afar.

    “Mr. Holmes?”

    “Yes?” He asked, barely snapping out of his thoughts.

    “You…called me Katharine…” She said, uneasy about pointing out his breach in etiquette.

    “I did?” He asked, confused.

    “Yes, sir, you did.”

    “I apologize…”

    “No, sir, it’s fine. You…you can call me Katharine if you wish, as could Dr. Watson.”

    She thought she imagined the flash of joy in his eyes as he turned around and left the room. “We must get in touch with Mr. Strauss for the time being,” he said, as if he had instantly forgotten about their awkward conversation.

    ------------

    Grayson stepped into the house at Baker Street, instantly hugging Katharine tightly. “I’m glad you found somewhere safe to stay for the time being…” He muttered.

    “Ah, good, Mr. Strauss,” Holmes interrupted, stepping into the room. Grayson stepped away from Katharine. “Good of you to come…there’s a matter I wanted to speak to the both of you about.”

    Once everyone had sat down in Holmes’ quarters upstairs, he started. “Miss Jones…Katharine…has asked me for the details of my current case. I must confess I haven’t shared them entirely with you because of how dangerous an enemy we face. The man behind these bombings is the head of the world’s largest criminal organization…the Napoleon of crime himself.”

    “Who would that be, Mr. Holmes?” Katharine asked, leaning forward.

    “The both of you must not breathe a word of this to anyone else.”

    “We won’t, sir,” Grayson reassured him.

    “Good. This man orchestrated these bombings in order to serve as a sort of distraction to the police. I have not exactly pinpointed his true target, but…”

    “Holmes,” Watson repeated, exasperated. “Just tell them who it is.”

    “None of than Professor James Moriarty of course.”

    This stunned Katharine and Grayson into silence, both of them not believing their years. Finally, Katharine spoke up. “How…he can’t possibly be…” She frowned. “Are you sure about this, Mr. Holmes?”

    “There’s no way…” Grayson shook his head.

    “But there is. I’ve been following his crimes for the past few decades. This exactly matches up with…”

    “You can’t go around making wild accusations, Mr. Holmes!” Katharine shouted, growing angrier by the moment.

    “However, you believe I’m right.”

    “You don’t have any proof…”

    “But you still believe I’m correct.”

    “Yes, Mr. Holmes, I do.”

    “Then why are you so furious…?”

    “Because...I…” She looked down at her clinched fists. “I…need some sleep. Please excuse me.” She bolted from her seat, leaving the room before anyone could stop her.

    “Very smooth, Holmes,” Watson said as the door slammed behind her.

    “I don’t know why she’s so upset…” Holmes muttered.

    Grayson shook his head. “Mr. Holmes, the professor is the last person she would have wanted it to be…”

    “Why is that, Mr. Strauss?”

    “Katharine never received any attention from her father growing up. Ambassador Jones never seemed to want to have anything to do with her. Professor Moriarty became like a father to her. He always cared enough to guide her in her studies, listen to her dreams, teach her how to…”

    “Shoot?”

    “What?”

    “He taught her how to shoot and fight, didn’t he?”

    “Yes, he did. My point is, Mr. Holmes, that this is like telling her that her own father is a criminal and a murderer.”

    “Well, after some time, she’ll realize that I’m right.”

    “She still won’t be too happy about it of course.”

    Holmes shrugged. “I can do nothing about that, Mr. Strauss. Only hope that she agrees to help me stop him out of hope that she can prevent him from doing anything disastrous.”

    There were a few moments of silence before Grayson stood up. “Well, Mr. Holmes, I’ll keep this a secret. Of course, I just want to make sure that you’ll make sure Katharine’s safe during her stay here.”

    “What do you mean by that?” Watson asked.

    “Katharine has…a tendency to act rashly and get into trouble,” Grayson said simply.

    “I’ll protect her with my life,” Holmes said, all too-quickly and too emphatically to avoid getting strange looks from Watson and Grayson, who both realized that he was completely serious.

    “Thank you, Mr. Holmes,” Grayson said, leaving the room.

    “All-in-all, I think she took the news rather well,” Holmes said after Grayson left.

    “Yes, well, I think you’re lucky she didn’t have direct access to her arsenal when you told her. She certainly looked angry enough to attack you herself,” Watson said.

    ------------

    Katharine sat on her bed, clutching Homer to her chest and trying not to sob too loudly. She couldn’t sleep even if she tried. It was already two in the morning. Watson had left shortly after Grayson. She stared at her ceiling, silently crying and wondering how any of this made sense. She refused to believe that Moriarty was a villain, but, at the same time, she refused to believe that Holmes could be to wrong in his judgment.

    She stopped crying for a moment, realizing that, for the past half an hour, music had been playing on the other side of her wall. Her room sat directly beside Holmes’. She could hear a violin playing quite close to the wall. Sitting up and concentrating on it, she realized that Holmes was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, playing his violin for only her.

    She smiled, curling up with Homer and falling asleep.

    On the other side of the wall, Holmes’ thoughts were elsewhere. He played far past the time when Katharine fell asleep, a sad, but thoughtful look on his face the entire time. He couldn’t stand the company of most individuals, preferring a group of friends that consisted of one. But, since Watson had moved out, he had been all alone in that house.

    He enjoyed the thought of Katharine being there, a young woman who was intelligent enough and quick-witted enough to follow his deductions. She had proved to not ignore or be annoyed by his eccentricities, but go along with them, keeping him both on his toes and in line. She observed him well enough to know when she should snap him out of his distracted thoughts. The only downside to her being there was that cat. He would allow it to roam throughout the house, but only when Katharine was there to keep track of it.

    What disturbed him the most about the cat was the fact that Moriarty had given it to her. Giving her gifts like books, guns, knives, etc. was one thing. Giving her a living, breathing animal was another. She was obviously an animal-lover and attached to this cat. What if, in the end, she decides that she would rather not help him take down Moriarty? Add this to his worry that he had upset her that night, and he was almost shaken.

    Why did he care if he had upset her beyond the fact that she might be dangerous and turn against him? Why did he say that he would protect her with his life, if need be? Why in the world did he offer his home to a girl he had only met a few weeks previously? Why in the world did he feel the need to even go so far as brag about her intellect to Watson?

    It was obvious that he cared about her, otherwise he would have done none of those things. As he put down his violin, listening to make sure that she was asleep, he wondered how differently things would have turned out had he not made such decisions.

  10. #10
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    Chapter 1:

    I like the changes you made to it from your original draft! I liked the more characterisation that was included, and how each character has flesh to them already without there being a lengthy number of chapters. Its great to see who they are now, and get a little understanding of where they've been! And where they will go! Congratulations on that.

    I also really like the story development made here, I really like the plot that you've set up and how you've set yourself up for an interesting portayl of this idea.
    I really like it!

    Really good start, well done! Look forward to catching up on more and reading more of the chapters!

    Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13
    Credits to Sweet May and DanChimchar

    I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

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    Thank you very much! While most people will know Holmes and Watson's backgrounds, I hoped to flesh out the Jones' a bit instead of focusing on the former.

    Don't know when the next chapter will be up.

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    Chapter Ten



    “Has she come out of her room since last night?” Watson asked over breakfast the next day. Mary was at home, dizzy with arrangements for their wedding that was to take place in a few days. Wanting to not get in her way while she fussed with guests lists and whatnot, he returned to Baker Street, finding that he had cooled down since the night before and was willing to give Holmes a second chance after all of the tricks he had pulled the previous night.

    Holmes, who had been scanning the paper intently for any news about one of the bombings that had taken place the previous week, shook his head. “I don’t believe so. We should give her some time to clear her head before we continue. Otherwise, we still run the risk of driving her away. She’s confused, hurt, and possibly extremely angry.”

    “Wow, I wonder whose plan it was that could have possibly spawned all those feelings in her,” Watson said pointedly. Though he was less angry than he had been previously, he still wanted Holmes to know that he didn’t approve of what the detective had done. Then again, when did Holmes care about his approval in regards to his cases? Holmes did whatever he wanted to with no regard to his own safety or Watson’s.

    Holmes didn’t say anything, and Watson thought back to what his friend had told him the night before. It had been a startling revelation, one that had changed how he looked at Holmes for good. At times, Holmes could act like a machine with no regards to human emotions or feelings. But now, it seemed as if this had been a façade to hide the pain he suffered from.

    Katharine stepping into the room interrupted Watson from his thoughts. She had changed into a simple black dress, and he wondered if the only colors in her wardrobe were blue and black. Being the daughter of an ambassador, she had surely had access to a huge wardrobe. Why she chose such dark colors was beyond him. Then again, she struck him as the kind of young woman who would rather sit and debate intellectual points rather than attend social functions. Though she was pretty, most of her suitors, he guessed, were so intimidated by her mind that they fled from her.

    That same mind, however, had garnered the loving attention of Grayson Strauss and the occupational attention of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had never chosen an assistant, and he would probably never have one after Katharine. He simply could not and would not work with others because of his superior mind, which made Katharine a perfect fit for this job.

    “Good morning, Mr. Holmes. Dr. Watson.” She nodded to both men before sliding into the seat across from Holmes. Katharine bore an unreadable expression on her face, and both men silently hoped that she had recovered a bit from her shock of the evening before. They ate in silence for a few moments, Watson watching as Holmes shot Katharine a few observant glances, obviously trying to gauge how angry she was at the moment.

    Finally, Watson decided that the best remedy for their situation was to actually speak with the young woman. “Mary and I spoke last night after I returned home. She would very much like for you and Mr. Strauss to attend our wedding in a few days.”

    Katharine’s face brightened, causing both men to breathe an inward sigh of relief. “That would be wonderful, Dr. Watson. I will tell Grayson as soon as he arrives this afternoon…” She paused, thinking, before she addressed Holmes. “I…was thinking of seeing Professor Moriarty this afternoon, Mr. Holmes. Do you think it a good decision to speak with him after last night’s events?”

    Watson was surprised. She seemed to have been over the initial shock and actually willing to help Holmes in his case against the man whom she had regarded as a father figure for years. Then again, she may not have entirely resolved herself to aiding Holmes as an assistant, simply deciding that she would not interfere in his investigation.

    “Actually, your staying away from him would prove to be the worst decision in this case. Taking into account the fact that he knows where you are currently staying…”

    “He doesn’t know.”

    “What?”

    “I didn’t tell him that I’m staying here.”

    There was a long pause before Holmes asked, “And why not?”

    She shrugged. “I didn’t think it was such a good idea at the time. You were being so secretive about your case…”

    “Then we should assume that, because he knows of our acquaintance, he will be on guard during all future meetings with you, observing your every move to ensure himself that you know nothing of his true identity. You should be very cautious around him from now on, Miss Jones,” Holmes warned, glaring at Homer as the cat pranced into the room, going straight up to Katharine.

    “But he can’t see that I’m being so cautious. I need to act naturally,” Katharine added, reaching down to pet Homer, who purred happily and immediately went over to sit beside Holmes’ feet. Her employer shot the cat a warning look, as if he dared the feline to sit there for more than a few moments. Homer stared back, his yellow-green eyes unblinking. Katharine tried not to burst out laughing as the staring (well, glaring) contest continued between Holmes and Homer, broken only when Watson himself started laughing, which caused the cat to stalk away, thinking that he had won this match. Holmes gave him a look that said the detective had instead declared himself the winner before realizing that he had just wandered into a staring match with a cat. Katharine smiled as he continued the conversation, steering their attention away from his seemingly insane actions.

    “Then we shall see how great an actress you are,” he said, rising from his chair and grabbing his coat. Katharine frowned. If he was going out to collect more information, she wanted to know where he was going and if she could come with him. She was his assistant, after all. Wasn’t she supposed to be aiding him in this case? Unless he only wanted her to do small things like shopping or odd jobs or the like. Her heart sank when she realized that perhaps she had misunderstood what her job entailed.

    Holmes’ next words, however, assured her that she would take part in his case. “I am investigating one of the recent bombing sites this morning. Once you return from meeting with Moriarty, please meet me at this address.” He had already transcribed the address on a piece of paper for her and, before she could reply, he was already out of the front door, leaving her both speechless and excited.

    Watson rose from his seat, shrugging on his own coat. “I would love to stay, but I must return to my practice. I have to make sure that everything is running smoothly while I’m gone next week. I’ll be riding by Cambridge if you would like to share a carriage.”

    As their carriage rolled over the rough streets of London, Watson was able to study Katharine Jones in silence. She was obviously caught up in planning how she should act and what she should say to her mentor when they arrived. The ambassador’s daughter was short of stature, with a deceivingly innocent and fragile appearance. From what he remembered of her sister and mother’s features, Katharine shared the same physical traits with the Jones’ women, other than the fact that Diana and Jessica were both tall. With long blonde hair and fair skin, Katharine, Diana, and Jessica were the perfect picture of a woman and her two daughters. Neither of the girls, it seemed, had inherited the dark features of their father nor is somber personality.

    Beyond that, though, Watson saw something that placed Katharine in a completely different category from her mother and sister. She was ALWAYS alert, always focused. She had Holmes’ intense way of studying people, albeit with more subtlety and more of an ability to not lose herself in her thoughts. From what he had learned about her childhood, she was a tomboy, never enjoying the company of other young women of her class, mostly because their intellectual level was far beneath her own and slightly because her interests also spun towards more physical activities, like horseback riding and shooting.

    However, there was some sort of reading Watson got off of her that puzzled him. Something he couldn’t quite explain or put his finger on. He mulled over this as he finally spoke up, halfway through their ride to Cambridge. “I apologize for how roughly Holmes broke such news to you last night. He…isn’t one for tact in this situations.”

    Then, he saw it. That spark in her blue eyes as she spoke. “It was hard, yes. But after a night of thinking it over, I know how to better deal with this situation.”

    Watson couldn’t control the small chill that ran up his spine at the expression in her eyes, her thoughts trained on Moriarty, of course. It was cool, calm, collected rational mixed with a dangerous, almost murderous, anger. This was a young woman who had brought along an arsenal with her to London. Who was trained in shooting and fighting. Watson was both curious and reluctant to see her in action. He doubted her target would make it out alive.

    Her look shifted from angry to calm as she realized that he had noticed her reaction to his commentary on the previous night’s events. “I’m just glad that Mr. Holmes decided to disclose the details of his case with me,” she said simply, her eyes trained on the first few splatters of raindrops of the day, flowing down in rivers in front of her eyes.

    “Yes, this should be interesting…” Watson muttered as their carriage finally pulled up to a stop in front of the old stone buildings of Cambridge. He glanced around to make sure that Moriarty was not in sight before disembarking from the carriage and helping Katharine through the door. Before she turned to join the flow of students into the main classroom buildings, he warned, “Be careful.”

    She shot him a look that said that he didn’t need to tell her that, though with warmth instead of annoyance. Those blue eyes could look so innocent and brilliant one moment, but deadly the next. Watson again wondered if Holmes had made a mistake…that quite possibly this young woman was in league with Moriarty already. She said good-bye and walked down the college street, garnering several looks from the young men who were crowding into the classroom buildings.

    ------------

    As Katharine waited outside of his office for Moriarty to finish his meeting with a colleague, she couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about speaking with him. She needed to act completely natural. He had known her long enough to know when something was wrong. She wished she had practiced acting natural a little bit more, but, truth be told, most of the previous night had been spent coming to grips with the fact that he was not the kind mentor she had come to known. No…he was that. He just had another side to him that also existed in the shadows. Her emotions were pulling her every which way, and she had to tell herself that it would ruin everything if, at the first sight of him, she flew into a murderous rage or, on the other side of the emotional spectrum, burst into injured tears.

    When Moriarty’s assistant, a Cambridge student who was only a few years older than Katharine and whom she wondered knew that his employer was what Holmes called “the Napoleon of crime,” stepped into the hallway, ushering an old academic out of the office, Katharine almost literally leapt to her feet, her heart pounding in her ears as she followed him into Moriarty’s office.

    Moriarty, as usual, was glad to see her. He seemed to be a bit worried about the aftermath of the previous night’s debacle, asking her if she had found a safe place to stay for the night. She had answered to the affirmative, keeping her voice even with no emotion whatsoever. She tried to play towards feeling a little hurt about her parents basically dumping her in London, but she still refused to tell him where she was staying, simply saying that she was rooming with another friend and insinuating that it was simply a childhood friend from back home in Atlanta.

    “Well, I hate to make light of such a terrible situation, but this does give you more time to work at getting an interview…” He said, leaning back in his desk chair and studying Katharine. She tried not to let her nervousness show, but their conversation was not going as smoothly as it usual did. Usually, she didn’t have to search for the words to say…she had always been so comfortable around him.

    “It does,” she said, trying to make her face show an expression of guilt at her actions. “I just feel terrible about what happened between Grayson and Jessica. I never meant for that to happen…”

    “Grayson was a bit rash in his actions, last night,” Moriarty agreed, his icy blue eyes fixed even more intently on her face. “But, in the end, I believe this will turn out to be the best alternative. He never did seem, from what I have observed of him over the years, truly happy with Jessica.” He leaned forward, a look of complete concern plastered on his face. “If you would like, I could speak to your father. I understand why he is angry, though some of that anger is, understandably aimed at myself. I just believed over the years that he would never assent to your undertaking studies here.”

    “It’s fine. I don’t think he’ll be very understanding after what occurred last night,” Katharine said. She was starting to get extremely nervous and anxious for their meeting to end before she completely lost her cool.

    Without hesitating, Moriarty replied, “You never know, Katharine. Some people may surprise you.”

    ------------
    Holmes stepped around the piles of rubble that once constituted a bank only a few weeks prior. Though he knew exactly who had issued the destruction of the bank, he was searching for any clue to how and where the bombs were made and by whom. Though the police had sectioned the ruins of the bank off, declaring the hall-fallen structure too dangerous to enter, Holmes had snuck in anyway, undeterred by the ropes cordoning off the area.

    As he was studying the epicenter of the blast, burns running up the side of one of the brick walls at the very front of the bank, he heard footsteps. Someone was slowly picking their way through the rubble. Even from a few yards away, he could hear Katharine swearing under her breath as she tried to reach him without falling through a floor or tripping over a pile of bricks. Finally, she appeared, fallen ashes from the ceiling coloring her blonde hair all sorts of white and grey. She didn’t look happy in the least.

    “How was your meeting with Moriarty?” Holmes asked, turning back to the wall and studying it with half of his attention as he waited for Katharine to speak.

    There was a long silence. After a while, he turned to see what had stayed her from replying. She was staring at the room around them, her face twisted into an expression of both horror and surprise. Finally, she asked, “How many people died in this explosion?”

    He didn’t think that fact was as important as what he was studying before him, but the terrified look on her face led him to finally disclose the number. “Around twenty-seven, I believe.”

    She backed up a few steps, tripping over a pile of bricks she was paying no attention to. Clearly, she was dumbfounded by how many had died at the hands of her mentor. Before she could fall through the gaping hole in the floor behind the bricks, Holmes lunged forward, catching her hand and pulling her back to her feet in one motion.

    Unexpectedly, she wrenched her hand away, and, with a more agile motion than she had entered the room, she ran out, leaving Holmes to return to his study of the burn patterns on the wall. However, he couldn’t concentrate on the task before him as he usually could. Something about the expression on Katharine’s face unnerved him.

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    Chapter Eleven



    The next day, Katharine didn’t leave her room, at least not before Holmes and Watson left for Watson’s bachelor party. Before they left, Holmes kept on casting worried glances at her door, quickly walking away whenever Watson was close to catching him near her door. It was the second day in a row that Katharine had shut herself away. Holmes had only mentioned the previous day’s events in passing to Watson, but the doctor couldn’t blame Katharine for her low spirits. After learning how many people Moriarty had killed, she would most definitely feel terrible.

    Holmes’ behavior was starting to unnerve Watson, even though he knew its cause. When they finally disembarked for the party, he breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that the night’s events would distract his friend from worrying even more about his new assistant.

    ------------

    Katharine debated marching up to the Strauss’ London mansion and asking if she could stay there for a time until she was able to find a satisfactory place of her own to stay. While she would have to face up to what could very well be Hans Strauss’ wrath over Grayson and Jessica’s failed political marriage, asking Moriarty if she could stay at his home near Cambridge was out of the question. Her vision swam in front of her eyes every time the scene of the bombing came into her mind. No, if she had her way, she would make sure that she never saw his face again.

    But staying in Holmes’ apartments was starting to become unbearable. The place reminded her too much of the task at hand and how utterly flipped upside down her life had become over the past few weeks. Besides, as Holmes’ assistant, she would have to deal entirely with her mentor’s evil deeds. And that…she was not ready to do at the moment. That night she tried to decide how she was going to tell Holmes that she was quitting, but she couldn’t bring herself to form the words, much less actually tell them to his face. Something was holding her back, but she didn’t know what.

    The entire next day, every once in a while, she heard footsteps in front of her door, but she told herself that she was imagining things. Finally, as Holmes and Watson began to leave, she cracked her door open, only to catch the tail end of their conversation.

    “Better take your gun, Watson. You never know when it might come in handy,” Holmes said in his usual nonchalant manner.

    Katharine could hear the annoyance in the doctor’s voice as he asked, “Expecting some trouble tonight?”
    “Not particularly,” Holmes quipped before the door slammed behind them. Katharine tried to remember where they were going for Watson’s bachelor party that evening. It seemed to her as if Holmes was expecting a fight. Perhaps he expected to follow one of his leads on the case tonight?

    Katharine glanced back at her bag of weapons, sighing. She knew what she needed to do as Holmes’ assistant, but it wouldn’t be particularly fun.

    Then again, she thought as she fished her favorite handgun out of the bag, the night would probably turn out to be the most enjoyable night she had had in a while.

    ------------

    “You know you’re insane, don’t you?” Watson asked, leaning back in his chair. They had ended up at one of the up-scale clubs downtown, a party of two…well, three counting Holmes’ older brother Mycroft, who had proved a no-show. Watson had resigned himself to badgering Holmes about the secret the detective had disclosed to him a few days previously.

    “It was a perfectly logical action,” Holmes defended himself, glancing around as if he were looking for something or someone.

    Watson paused, studying his friend. “Weren’t you lonely? Didn’t you wonder…”

    “Of course I was,” Holmes snapped a bit harshly. Watson was taken aback by the anger in his friend’s eyes. Suddenly, Holmes turned back to studying the crowd.

    Watson shook his head. “You need to tell her, Holmes,” he said firmly.

    “I will when this is all over.”

    “When this is all over, you could be dead.”

    “Then it will be inconsequential.”

    “And then she’ll be in an even more melancholy state than she is now.”

    “There are more important things.”

    “I see the way you worry about her. She’s your top priority over this case…”

    Finally, Holmes seemed to spot whomever he had been looking for and immediately jumped up from his chair, leaving Watson staring after him. He quickly made his way through the crowd, slipping into a hallway. A voice sounded out from beside him. He turned around, only to narrowly avoid the first swing. A knife shone through the air as his assailant lunged for him, trying his best to stab the detective.
    Holmes spun around, slamming his elbow into his assailant’s chest in order to get a better fighting position. Having a brawl in the middle of a narrow hallway was not his ideal place for a fight, but he had no choice in the matter. The man was stunned for a few moments, then spun around deftly, slamming his feet into Holmes’ chest in one swift motion. As the detective slammed onto the wooden floor, he realized that he was fighting a trained killer. This would be a bit more difficult than he thought.

    The assassin lunged again, but Holmes was too quick for him, expertly jumping to his feet, grabbing the man’s shoulder and slamming him face-first into the wall, stunning him for all of two seconds. The assassin grabbed Holmes’ shoulder and spun around, his knife only inches from the detective’s throat.

    Before Holmes could make his next move, the assassin stiffened, groaning in pain, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth as he loosened his grip on Holmes’ shoulder and slid to the floor face-first, a knife pressed cleanly all the way into his back. Holmes immediately scanned the corridor, alert in case whomever had killed the assassin was not a friend.

    “Got yourself in a bit of trouble there, Mr. Holmes. Maybe you shouldn’t be meeting strangers alone?” The voice that sounded out from behind him was clearly British, but he couldn’t tell whether it was a young man or a teenage boy. He swung around. Standing a few feet away was a rather short young man, another knife dangling from his hands as if he expected another assassin to come around the corner. His hat covered most of his face.

    At the confused look on Holmes’ face, the young man laughed, yanking the black bowler hat off of his head. Golden blonde hair fell in a wave around Katharine’s face. She smiled confidently and bowed. “May I introduce your assistant, Mr. Holmes.”

    Holmes smiled, glancing down at the dead assassin at his feet. “Rather nice work here, Miss Jones. I’m rather glad you decided to join us tonight.”

    She scowled. “Only because it sounded as if you were planning on doing something dangerous.”

    She let out a short yelp as a hand grabbed her from behind, another assassin almost materializing out of thin air in the corridor. Before Holmes could act, Katharine spun around, grabbing the man’s hand and using all of her strength to flip him over onto his back. He let out a short shout as he slammed into the ground, flipping back over and aiming a slice at her face with a wicked curved knife. Katharine ducked expertly, spinning around to aim a short kick to his face that stunned him. While he was dazed, she grabbed the hand that held his knife and rammed it into his chest. He fell to the ground beside his partner, a clearly stunned expression frozen on his face.

    “I suppose Moriarty taught you how to fight?” Holmes asked.

    Katharine glared at him. “Yes…” She muttered, placing her hands on her hips. “Where is Dr. Watson?”

    Holmes glanced back to the main room. “I believe he’s enjoying his last night before his wedding.”

    “Alone?” Katharine asked pointedly.

    “Well, I needed to meet my informant alone…”

    “No, Mr. Holmes,” Katharine shook her head. “I mean he is alone with how many more possible assassins in this building?”

    Holmes thought about this for a bit. “Perhaps we should make sure he’s safe.”

    “Yes, that would be a good plan.”

    Both of them rushed back into the main hall, only to spot Watson at the far end, laughing at a poker table surrounded by strangers. He seemed to have already had enough alcohol to get himself drunk and was winning quite a lot from the people surrounding him. Holmes shot Katharine a look. “I believe he’s safe.”

    Before Katharine could answer, someone’s arm shot around her neck, pulling her backwards into the corridor. She tried to struggle free, but was unable to break from the man’s grip. Holmes drew his gun and aimed it straight at the man, who glared back at him, his grip loosening only a little bit as he focused on the pistol in the detective’s hand. Katharine used this chance to squirm out of his arm, retrieve a knife from her pocket, grab the man by the front of his shirt, and slam him up against the wall, her knife at this throat and her blue eyes blazing.

    “Who sent you to kill us?” She demanded in a harsh whisper so that no one in the main room could hear them.

    A slight look of fear crossed the man’s eyes as he looked from Holmes’ gun to Katharine’s knife. He didn’t answer, only pushed Katharine backwards into Holmes, who was only standing a few feet behind her. Katharine dropped her knife and Holmes put out his arms to stop her from falling to the floor. The assassin sprinted off down another corridor, towards the back to the building.

    Before Holmes could ask her if she was all right, Katharine swore and scooped up her knife from the floor, barreling down the hall after the man, shouting to Holmes, “Hurry up! He’s getting away!” Holmes stared after her in disbelief before following them both.

    They cornered the assassin in a back room, Katharine narrowly missing grabbing his coat before he jumped out of a window. However, he had misjudged the distance at which he was following, colliding with the street below at a neck breaking speed. Katharine winced, drawing back from the window as Holmes finally burst into the room. He took one look at the dead assassin below and rushed back out of the room.

    Katharine followed him out of the building to find him standing over the assassin’s body, looking through his pockets for anything to identify him. After a few moments, he shook his head, rising back to his feet. “There’s nothing material.” He pushed the man onto his back. He seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent.

    Katharine paled. “Moriarty brought me back a necklace from his trip to Cairo once…” She whispered. “He must have known you would be here…”

    “I guess there’s no use in looking for my informant now,” Holmes muttered, straightening up.

    Before Katharine could respond, she felt another arm over her shoulder, almost prompting her to spin around and slice at whoever was behind her. Before she could do so, Watson’s voice rang out, “What are you doing outside, Holmes?” He slurred each and every word in his sentence. He glanced at Katharine, his eyes narrowing in confusion. “Who are you?” He looked at her more closely. “Miss Jones?”

    “Yes, Dr…”

    He busted out laughing, doubling over in amusement. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Why…why are you dressed like that? Who…” He gestured over to the dead assassin. “Who is that on the ground over there?”

    “A dead assassin,” Holmes said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to get any information out of him.”

    Watson looked at him, still confused. “You killed him?”

    “No, Katharine did.”

    Katharine shot him a glare as Watson laughed and raised his hand in a high-fiving gesture. “Nice job.” With that, he collapsed on the ground, unconscious.

    Katharine sighed deeply. “Let’s get him out of here before the police show up.”

    ------------

    They left a few hours later for the country church where Watson and Mary were going to hold their wedding, making their way down the road in Holmes’ automobile. Watson was slumped on one side, still dead to the world, a blanket thrown hastily over him. Holmes’ hair stuck up all around his head and his clothes were still rumpled and wrinkled from the fight with the assassins a few hours prior. Only Katharine looked presentable as she had immediately changed into a dark blue dress when they returned to Baker Street. She sat between Watson and Holmes, making sure the doctor didn’t fall out of the vehicle as they moved along.

    The sun was rising over the hills by the time they were halfway there. Katharine kept her eyes on the scenery. The first half of their journey had been dead quiet except for some occasional snoring issuing from Watson. She shifted in her seat, gazing at the green scenery around them. For some reason, she found it difficult to converse with Holmes after the past few days’ events. Finally, she spoke up. “Have you ever been married, Mr. Holmes?”

    Holmes was silent for a moment, caught off guard by her question. She immediately felt embarrassed, staring down at her hands in her lap as she muttered, “I’m sorry…”

    “Yes.”

    Her eyes widened. “What…?”

    “I was married once.”

    She was caught off guard by his answer. “What happened to her?” She whispered.

    She immediately regretted the second question. For a split second, an incredibly pained expression flickered in his eyes before he regained his calm demeanor. “She died years ago. She was…murdered by a criminal I was pursing at the time.”

    Feeling a little bit braver, Katharine asked in a hushed voice, “What was her name?”

    He paused before answering. “Caroline.” He stared off into the distance as they sat in silence for a few moments. Finally, he broke the silence. “I believe I’ve figured out exactly what Moriarty has planned for you.”

    Katharine shot him a confused look. “And what is that exactly?”

    “As an assassin.”

    She stared at him, not believing her ears. After a few moments of silence, he glanced at her to see if she had heard.

    “I…what makes you think that?” She asked after a few more moments.

    “It’s obvious that you have the skill for it.”

    She glared at him. “One shouldn’t be proud that they have the skill to kill people.”

    “And he went to great lengths to teach you, didn’t he?”

  14. #14
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    Chapter Twelve



    Holmes stopped the automobile in front of a quaint country church, disembarking the vehicle and helping Katharine down before he turned his attention to Watson, who was curled up on the opposite seat, a blanket thrown hastily over him. He seemed dead to the world. Katharine and Holmes exchanged a glance, Katharine reluctant to both wake the doctor and allow him to sleep any longer. Two men dressed in kilts and holding bagpipes stood outside of the gates that led to the church’s small garden. Holmes motioned to them and Katharine cringed as they started to play, covering her ears and shooting her employer a dark look before stepping inside the church to take her seat in the chapel.

    After a mere few seconds of bagpipe playing, Watson started to wake up, cringing as his eyes opened to the bright noonday sun. He rolled over, burying his face in the cushioned seat of the automobile, moaning. Holmes snatched the blanket from over his shoulders, fighting to tear it from Watson’s hands in order to drag his friend from the automobile. Finally, Watson surrendered, sitting upright and looking at Holmes with a dazed and confused look in his eyes.

    Squinting, he looked around as Holmes tried to adjust Watson’s dirty military jacket around his shoulders. “We’re at the church,” the doctor said. It was meant to be a question, but it came out as a statement.

    “We’re at the church,” Holmes repeated, trying to re-tie Watson’s dress tie. He wished Katharine hadn’t decided to storm inside. She would have probably been more effective at that task.

    “Where’s Katharine?” Watson said, grunting as he finally stepped off of the automobile. He still squinted as if he had suddenly turned into a vampire and the sun was bound to kill him.

    “She’s inside,” Holmes said simply. “The same place you need to be right now.”

    Watson fixed him with a serious gaze. “Have you told her yet?”

    The detective gave him a strange look. “I hardly think that is of any importance right now, Watson.”

    “No…” He sighed. “I guess it isn’t.” His glare suddenly became even more serious. “But I’m going to keep badgering you until you give me a better reason…other than safety.” He rolled his eyes at the last word as they stepped into the church.

    Thankfully, Watson was able to stand upright during the entire ceremony. Katharine sat in the very last pew, taking everything around her in. If everything went correctly…after this entire Moriarty business was done, hopefully…she and Grayson would be the next couple getting married. In fact…she rather liked this exact church.

    She nearly started from her seat halfway through the ceremony when she saw Holmes looking at her curiously from his seat at the very front of the church. Their conversation on the ride to the church replayed itself in her head. It had seemed as if he had been pained relaying that information to her…as if, years later, his wife’s death still caused him great sadness.

    Though…why he was looking at her during the wedding was beyond her. There was something strange about the look in his eyes…as if he wished to tell her something important…

    ------------

    Holmes was the first to leave the church after the ceremony concluded and all of Watson and Mary’s family members crowded around them to offer congratulations. Katharine followed him out the doors and into the still-bright sunshine. He finally stopped near the garden gate, watching as Watson and Mary stepped into the garden, still flanked by their guests. Katharine waited beside him, shifting from one foot to the other.

    Finally, Holmes turned to her. “We have work to do. Let’s return to London.” They stepped back over to his automobile, where he promptly started turning the crank in the back to charge the motor for their trip back. Katharine held back from helping him, still a bit uneasy from their previous conversation.

    “Quite a nice wedding that was…right, Kat?”

    The usual warm feeling that accompanied that voice was replaced by a both a sick feeling of dread and uneasiness as Katharine turned to respond to Sebastian Moran’s comment. He leaned against one side of the automobile’s engine, fixing Katharine with his usual, big brotherly smile. Out of all of the people in her life connected to Moriarty, she prayed that Sebastian was innocent of her mentor’s transgressions. However, from what Holmes had told her, he was probably Moriarty’s right-hand man.

    Katharine cleared her throat, smiling in return. “Yes, it was very lovely.”

    “Have you and Grayson set a date yet?” Sebastian asked, his smile turning mischievous. Katharine couldn’t help but smile genuinely, momentarily forgetting her troubles.

    “Not yet, no…We still have a few…” She paused. “Obstacles to hurdle before we can officially announce a ceremony.”

    Sebastian nodded knowingly, leaning back a bit. “Do you need any help with that, Mr. Holmes?”

    Holmes started, standing up straight in his surprise. “Ah…no,” he said, coming out from behind the automobile. “I believe I have things covered here Mr…”

    “Oh!” Katharine said, hurrying in to introduce them. “Mr. Holmes, this is my friend, Mr. Sebastian Moran. Sebastian, this is Mr. Sherlock Holmes. I’m currently working as his assistant.”

    “Are you now?” Sebastian cast her a curious look before shaking Holmes’ hand.

    “You’ve known each other long?” Holmes asked, his question directed more at Katharine than Sebastian, who decided to answer instead.

    “Since Kat was young. I went to work for one of her father’s friends after I left the military,” he said, obviously choosing his words carefully. “Actually, my employer would rather like you, Mr. Holmes, to stop by his office at Cambridge this afternoon to speak before he leaves for a lecture tour in Europe. And, Kat…”

    He took one long look at Katharine before continuing. “He told me to give you this. Rather jealous…but I know how much you have always wanted to see Don Giovanni in Paris.” Sebastian pressed a thick ticket into his hand before lifting his hat in good-bye to both of them. “See you soon, Kat. Good-bye, Mr. Holmes!” He called out as he started back down the road.

    Katharine ran her fingers over the ticket in her hand. The show was to take place a few days later in Paris. She would have to arrange transportation…

    Holmes honked the horn on his automobile, startling her out of her thoughts. “Come along, Miss Jones. I have a meeting with your mentor.”

    ------------

    The train on which Watson and Mary rode to the southern British coast sped down the tracks, its head beam cutting through the dark night like a sword. Mary gripped Watson’s hands in hers, the new couple sharing a bottle of champagne.

    “There’s something strange about Holmes new assistant that I can’t put my finger on,” Mary commended off-handedly, as if it were a mere afterthought. “She’s…”

    “Normal?” Watson guessed, raising his eyebrows.

    “Well, yes…but there’s something else…”

    Watson shifted in his seat. “Well, we should just be glad he’s found an assistant who can put up with him…someone who can keep him occupied and from burning down his apartments when he’s between cases.”

    There was a sharp knock on the door. Watson, frowning, opened it, only to realize his mistake far too quickly. The door was thrust aside as the compartment’s light went out, instantly plunging them into darkness. Mary screamed as the harsh light of a knife glinted through the air toward Watson, who grabbed his attacker by the coat, yelling for Mary to open the opposite door. The would-be assassin was instantly booted out into the woods.

    “Okay…okay…it’s fine now…” Watson breathed, slamming the door shut and making sure to lock both doors. Mary took deep breaths as she tried to prevent herself from freaking out. Watson slid open the door a tiny bit, flinching as he heard the crack of a gun in the hallway mere feet from him.

    “I have the south hallway covered, you check the other direction!”

    Watson groaned as Sherlock Holmes slid into the compartment, firing again at several soldiers down the hall from them. “Who are these people, Holmes?” The doctor asked, firing at one who made it halfway down the hall before collapsing.

    “Moriarty’s wedding present,” Holmes replied, falling into the seat next to Mary, who gave him a glare before jumping in surprise at a knock on the door opposite the hallway door, not expecting anyone to be in what was a nonexistent platform.

    “Ah, Mrs. Watson, would you be so kind as to let my assistant into the compartment? It’s dreadfully cold outside,” Holmes said before jumping up again and stepping over to help Watson.

    Mary carefully slid the compartment door open to reveal no one on the other side. She leaned out slightly, looking to either side of the door. Immediately to her right, hanging from one of the cable lines, was Katharine Jones, dressed in men’s attire tailored to her short stature. Her blue eyes blazed as if she was thrilled to be in this situation…as if she were excited to be there. She smiled at Mary’s startled expression and slid into the compartment, adjusting her vest and immediately switching places with Holmes.

    Watson cast her a confused glance before he returned to firing albeit haphazardly at the oncoming soldiers. With a few bangs more from a different gun, however, they fell to the ground. Watson shot Katharine an impressed glance.

    “What is going on?” Mary shouted over the sound of the wind whipping past the open door beside her. Holmes stuck his head out of the door, then stepped back inside.

    “Do you trust me?” He shouted.

    She shook her head. “No!”

    “We’ll have to do something about that, then,” he said, grabbing her by the shoulder and pushing her from the carriage. She screamed as she fell into the lake below the tracks. Katharine heard her scream first, spinning around to stare at her employer.

    “Have you gone mad?!” She screeched.

    “What? What?” Watson asked, turning around and slamming the compartment door shut.

    “We may want to evacuate this carriage soon…it’s no longer going to be here in a few moments,” Holmes said quickly, ignoring both their questions.

    “Holmes!” Watson snapped. “Where’s Mary?” He cast his eyes around the carriage, fixing them finally on the open door.

    Katharine shook her head as if she could believe what was going on. Suddenly, one of the soldiers tried sticking his head in from the open door, losing his balance and falling off of the top of the train in the process. “There may be more on the roof…” She muttered, swinging out of the door and climbing up before Holmes could make a move to stop her.

    “Did you just kill my new wife?!” Watson shouted.

    “I timed it perfectly! It had to be done!”

    Watson swore, jumping as a loud shot issued from the door behind him. “Come on!” Holmes shouted, gesturing to the open door behind him. He gripped one of the cables, gazing over the top of the train to see Katharine standing shakily on the roof, making her way across the surface. As Watson climbed up beside him, still shouting about his throwing Mary out of the train, Holmes spotted a bridge ahead before Katharine did.

    Watson caught a glimpse of Holmes’ horrified face before he shouted, “Katharine! The bridge!”

    She turned just in time to see the bridge coming straight for her. Holmes and Watson flattened themselves against the carriage to avoid being drug off by the bridge’s walls. On the other side, Holmes hoisted himself up, a panicked look on his face as he surveyed the top of the train. He breathed a sigh of relief when he came face-to-face with Katharine, who had flattened herself on the top of the train. She didn’t look happy in the least. He motioned for her to keep going down the length of the train.

    They finally reached the next carriage in time for both Watson and Holmes to swing in. Katharine slid in behind them, slipping and falling to the floor as a great explosion shook the train. After a few moments of shock, she and Watson opened the door to the next compartment.

    Half of it was no longer there and the soldiers were gone.

    Watson took a step back, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to calm himself down. Finally, he turned to Holmes, who was leaning up against the wall of the car, looking perfectly pleased with himself. “Why were they after us…no, wait, don’t answer that.” Watson put up his hand to stop Holmes from speaking. “Let me guess, Moriarty was after us because of you.”

    “I believe you should be grateful…we showed up to save your lives…”

    “And blow up a train?!” Watson shouted. “And push my wife into a lake?!”

    “My brother Mycroft…”

    “You’re supposed to make sure he doesn’t do these kinds of things!” Watson said, turning on Katharine.

    She put her hands in the air as if her hands were washed of this situation. “I’m his assistant. I’m supposed to…”

    “Keep an eye on him,” Watson said simply, shaking his head and sliding down to sit at the edge of the destroyed car. He took a deep breath. “Thank you, Katharine for helping.”

    She looked down at her hands. “I think I should go and get changed before we pull up to the next station.”

    “Good idea,” Holmes said as she pulled open the compartment door. She shot him a withering glare before slamming it shut behind her.

    “Have you told her yet?”

    “No. She’s heading to Paris next to attend the opera with Moriarty…”

    “Are you…accompanying her there?”

    “Yes…I believe I have a lead there in the city to help us find who exactly is making the bombs Moriarty is using.”

    Watson sighed again. “I guess I’ll come with you. Just to make sure you don’t blow up any more trains.”

  15. #15
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    Chapter Thirteen



    The remainder of the train ride to the southern British coast was uneventful. They had to switch trains after the next stop, disembarking as covertly as they could to avoid being questioned by the police about the explosion. Luckily, Holmes had checked the entire back length of the train and the compartment he had destroyed before setting the charges, ensuring the wayward soldiers were the only victims of his blast. They stole onto another train, keeping their eyes on the police warily until it pulled out of the station.

    “Who are we looking for once we get to Paris?” Watson asked after several miles were between them and the police chaos at the station. “You said that you have a lead to the people who were making the bombs Moriarty has been using?”

    “Yes, it’s a group of French anarchists that he has hired to aid him in his plans. Unfortunately…we do not as of yet know what exactly he has planned…the true meaning behind these bombings.” He glanced over to where Katharine was staring out of the window at the green English countryside. “Has there been anything Moriarty has said in the past few years that stands out to you that may be of any importance in this situation?”

    She continued staring out of the window as she thought. No. Moriarty had never said anything to her that would reveal any homicidal tendencies. That was why his betrayal hurt even more…even though, technically, he still didn’t know that she knew his secret. Was it then truly betrayal? “No…he hasn’t. I would imagine that he would be extra careful with what he said around me.”

    “Which still begs the question: Why not disclose his plans to you earlier if you were to play a part in his scheme?”

    Katharine, who was still angry about his suggestion that Moriarty was going to use her as a killer, shot him a glare. “Because I don’t have a part to play, Mr. Holmes.”

    “Wait…what?” Watson asked, confused, looking from Holmes to Katharine. “Is there something I missed?”

    “Yes…Mr. Holmes is under the delusion that Moriarty intends for me to be an assassin…”

    “Well…” Watson thought about it for a few more moments. “I can believe that.”

    “What?” Katharine gasped.

    “You’re the best aim I’ve seen in a while…and you did take care of those soldiers back there…”

    “Not to mention the assassins at the club,” Holmes pointed out. “After all, Moriarty trained you beside a well-known military sniper.”

    “Who is that?” Watson asked, confused.

    “Sebastian Moran.”

    “You know Sebastian Moran?” Watson asked, staring at Katharine.

    “Yes…” She said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “We grew up together. He was like an older brother to me,” she muttered.

    “I guess he didn’t tell you that he was dishonorably discharged from the military several years ago.”

    “No…he didn’t.”

    “Anyway, it has been decided. You are to attend the opera with Moriarty while we find these anarchists and see what they know,” Holmes said.

    “The opera?” Watson asked, further confused.

    “Yes. And now I need a new dress.”

    “And why is that?” Holmes asked.

    “Because my bags were in the other end of that compartment you blew up,” she snapped.

    ------------

    After checking into a hotel, Holmes and Watson talked over their plan. Holmes had locked onto the anarchists’ base in a small bakery a few blocks away from the opera house Katharine would attend with Moriarty. She had sent him word that she had arrived in Paris safe and alone and he was to pick her up in front of the hotel.

    “Have you told her yet?” Watson asked as he and Holmes waited out front for Katharine to finish dressing.

    “Are you going to continue asking me that annoying question?” Holmes asked, looking around for Katharine as he kept his eye also on the street in case Moriarty showed up earlier than planned.

    “I’m just waiting for a satisfactory answer,” Watson said off-handedly as they spotted Katharine quickly walking down the street towards them. She was dressed in a bright blue formal dress with silver jewelry. She looked extremely nervous, shooting them an anxious look as she made her way towards them on the street.

    “I thought you two were going to be at the bakery by now.” She glanced around her and over her shoulder. “He’s going to be here any moment.”

    “We’re just getting underway, Katharine. Come along, Watson,” Holmes said, grabbing Watson by the coat sleeve. “We will meet you later tonight,” he said over his shoulder. Then, as an afterthought after a few seconds of their walking separate ways, he turned around and said. “You look lovely this evening, Miss Jones.”

    She ducked her head and blushed as a carriage pulled up to a stop in front of her. Watson snatched Holmes into an alleyway, punching him in the arm in the process. “You look lovely this evening, Miss Jones,” he said, imitating Holmes’ voice as they made their way down the street to the anarchists’ bakery. “You have been given so many chances…”

    “But the perfect opportunity has yet to reveal itself,” Holmes replied smugly as they ducked into the bakery, weaving around several bakers who were maneuvering a huge cake through the door and out into the street. He glanced at the words written in French on the front, instantly committing them to memory as they made their way further into the kitchen.

    Meanwhile, Katharine stood in front of the dark carriage, getting over the slight embarrassment of Holmes’ last statement while a new sensation hit her. She felt almost sick to her stomach with nerves as the carriage door opened, revealing those icy blue eyes that once seemed calm and soothing to her, but now looked cold and heartless. It was still hard to imagine him as a criminal, however, when, to her face, he was still the warm father figure he had always been.

    Moriarty was dressed in full formal attire. He smiled warmly at her as he stepped down from the carriage to assist her up into her seat. “Good evening, Katharine. You look splendid.”

    Funny how Holmes’ compliment made her happy while Moriarty’s made her blood run cold.

    “Thank you, Professor,” she managed as he helped her into the carriage. She stared out into the Paris night as he sat down across from her, slamming the carriage door shut as they rode on toward the opera house. She gathered her composure and relaxed, telling herself that she just needed to forget all that Holmes had told her about her mentor…at least momentarily so that she could act naturally around him that night.

    Moriarty leaned forward in his seat. “I must admit that I was worried when you said that you were coming to Paris by yourself. Your…London friend could not accompany you?”

    Katharine shook her head. “She had business elsewhere…I didn’t want to trouble her…”

    He leaned back in his seat, nodding and smiling. “Well, I’m glad that you made it here safely. I am currently in communication with your father. Hopefully…soon…I will be able to convince him to rethink your…banishment from his home.”

    “Thank you Professor.”

    ------------

    “Who?” The baker squinted suspiciously at Holmes.

    “Anton Daviau,” he repeated with all confidence. Watson, who was standing directly behind him, cast his eyes nervously around the bakery. Was it just his imagination or was every worker in the kitchen giving them suspicious looks every time he glanced around? He gripped his cane even tighter, suspecting trouble with each passing second. Of course, Holmes acted his usual nonchalant self…as if they wouldn’t possibly be killed by any of these men who may or may not be covering for the French anarchist group the two British men were looking for.

    The baker nodded to two younger workers a few feet away from them. Both jumped from their stations, serious looks plastered on their faces as they advanced toward Holmes and Watson. Watson gripped the handle of his sword cane, ready to strike out at the first sign of trouble. He could feel Holmes tense up beside him, as if it had just occurred to the detective that they might be in trouble.

    “Stop.”

    The two workers immediately followed the order, casting wary glances over to another Frenchman who appeared from a door in the back of the bakery. Watson guessed that the newcomer was the man they were looking for, Daviau. He was quite intimidating, lean but muscular, tall, with dark hair and eyes. He stepped forward, sizing Holmes up. Daviau was a few inches taller than the detective, but Holmes didn’t back down. He was here for answers, and, by God, if he had to take on this intimidating Frenchman, he would get them. Watson was impressed by his shift from nonchalant to serious in a matter of seconds.

    Daviau finally convinced himself that Holmes was there for business, and that he was no threat at the present. “Come with me,” he said, motioning for both of the British men to follow him through the door he had appeared in. Holmes and Watson exchanged a serious glance before following him.
    ------------

    Grayson Strauss stared blankly out the window at the men and women dressed for a night out. Operas, the theater, dinners, and balls awaited them. He remembered all of the dances he had attended over the years, forced into spending most of his time with Jessica on the dance floor when all he wanted was to be with Katharine. Well, now, he may actually have a chance to live that dream thanks to Holmes’ urging him on.

    His father hadn’t been completely happy with Grayson’s actions at the ball in London, especially since his and Jessica’s engagement had been planned out for years since they were children. It was definitely to be a political arrangement.

    “Have you seen Katharine Jones recently?” Hans Strauss asked.

    “No, sir. She’s been busy with her new job as Mr. Holmes’ assistant.”

    “Well. If anyone were to figure out who is behind the bombings, he would…”

    Grayson grimaced, staring down at his hands in his lap.

    “Hopefully, tonight’s dinner will clear a few things up…at least politically. France and Germany are at each other’s throats, and I’m afraid Austria will fall on the wrong side of this struggle.”

    ------------

    “You don’t know who you’re up against,” Daviau said as he led Holmes and Watson into his makeshift office. “This man has connections all the way up to royalty.”

    “You don’t seem to sympathize with what he is doing,” Holmes commented.

    “Not the direction he is taking. Some of the bombings have hurt our own people.”

    “Then why do you continue making bombs for him?” Watson asked.

    Daviau sighed, sitting down on a chair near the fireplace, a pained look overcoming his features. “He has my wife and children. If I don’t do what he says, he will kill them.”

    “We will find a way to save them,” Holmes said shortly. “Has he ordered any explosives since the last bombing in London?”

    “Yes…he has.” Daviau leaned down to retrieve a gun from underneath his chair. Watson flinched, his hand flying to his coat pocket in case the Frenchman decided to pull the trigger. Instead, he just held the gun limply between his fingers as he continued. “I cannot tell you much except that we just delivered a cake he ordered…”

    Daviau stared at the gun in his hands as if it held all of the secrets to solving this mystery. To stopping Moriarty. To getting his family back.

    And, perhaps it did.

    Before Holmes or Watson could stop him, he raised the gun to his temple and shot his brains out.

  16. #16
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    Wow...so, it's the summer and I just realized that I haven't posted a chapter in two months. I chalk that one up to two things: Work and the fact that I lost the file for this chapter and had to start all over again.

    So, this chapter starts our getting deeper into our pursuit of Moriarty. A big revelation is coming in a few chapters, so hang on, because things are starting to get serious.


    Chapter Fourteen



    Holmes and Watson stared at the man for a few moments before Watson heard shouts sound from the bakery and footsteps on the stairs outside. Holmes was still deep in thought as the doctor muttered, “It’s time to go,” and grabbed his arm, raising his gun to shoot at anyone who made it through the doorway. They were able to safely get to the street, Holmes bolting in a flat out run in the direction of the opera house.

    ------------

    Katharine and Moriarty sat in a balcony high above the stage. Katharine balled her hands into fists in her lap, keeping her eyes on the performers as the opera started.

    ------------

    Watson followed Holmes into the opera house, pushing people out of the way and waving his gun at anyone who would stop his friend. Holmes ducked underneath the stage, stepping around to a platform that was about to be raised up onto the stage. Withdrawing his pocketknife, he slashed open the fabric inside, only to find a single chess piece.

    ------------

    Katharine froze when she saw Holmes underneath the platform as it rose onto the stage. He clutched a chess piece in his hand and looked thoroughly confused. She looked over in horror at Moriarty, who slowly looked from the stage to her.

    ------------

    Holmes bolted across the stage. Watson stared at him as he made his way back for the exit. “I made a mistake,” the detective muttered, not looking at his friend as they burst into the night air.

    “What?” Watson asked incredulously.

    “I made a mistake. The bomb’s not here,” Holmes snapped before bolting off in another direction.

    ------------

    Katharine stared down at the stage again, panic racing through her. “I’m sorry,” she stumbled, “…but I need to leave.” Avoiding his icy blue gaze, she rose from her seat, gathering her dark indigo skirts around her. She felt as if she were suffocating. She had to get out of that opera house…had to get away from him. In that one single moment, she had realized that Holmes was right.

    The man whom she had looked up to as a mentor and father for years was actually a liar, betrayer, and murderer.

    Rage and pain threatened to blind her as she swept into the red velvet lined staircase that dropped down from the balcony to an exit at the back of the theater that was dedicated to quiet entrances for VIPs. After a few shaky steps down the staircase, Katharine realized that she wouldn’t get far at all in her heeled shoes, instantly kicking them off to the surprise of the attendant manning the staircase halfway down. Only a few moments after she passed him, she felt a hand grab her arm, and she spun around, coming face-to-face with Moriarty, who had a worried look in his eyes.

    “What’s wrong, Katharine?”

    “I…I don’t feel well. I apologize, Professor,” she wrenched her arm out of his grasp and continued her descent faster than before. He watched her leave for a few moments before turning back to the balcony. She burst into the street, bolting straight out for the hotel, only to see Holmes up ahead, running in another direction. She turned and followed him.

    “Mr. Holmes!” She shouted when she was close enough for him to hear, but he didn’t acknowledge her. Watson ran up beside her. “What’s going on?”

    “He made a mistake. He thinks he knows where the bomb is hidden…not in the opera house,” the doctor gasped. They followed Holmes into a square of buildings. As soon as they hit the middle of the square, the third floor of the building right in front of them exploded. Holmes stopped in his tracks as people screamed all around him.

    “Mr. Holmes!” She called again, but he still didn’t listen to her as he raced into the building, Katharine and Watson following him inside. When they got to the third floor, she gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. Dozens of bodies filled the inside of a dining room. A couple of servers who had been far from the blast stared in shock at the scene, their eyes round and their hands shaking.

    “What was going on here before the explosion?” Holmes asked a serving boy. He didn’t look at the detective as he answered.

    “This was a diplomatic meeting between several ambassadors…they were trying to come to peace terms over the recent attacks.”

    “Which countries were represented here?”

    “France, Germany, Austria…”

    Katharine’s eyes widened, and she let out a gasp as the serving boy spoke the last country. “No…” She whispered, sinking into an undamaged chair next to the entrance, her eyes staring straight ahead in shock. Holmes shot her an extremely short worried glance before continuing the boy’s interrogation. Watson placed a hand on her back, leaning down to speak to her.

    “Why don’t we return to the hotel?” He muttered. “You need to rest after…”

    “My God, what happened here?”

    Both of their heads shot up at the sound of Hans Strauss’ voice. The ambassador and his son stood in the doorway, taking in the scene before them with wide eyes and open mouths.

    “Grayson!” She cried out, bolting from her chair and into his arms. He was still shocked, but managed to wrap his arms around her as she shook with sobs.

    “In answer to your question, Ambassador Strauss,” Holmes said, stepping closer to them. While he addressed the ambassador, his attention was focused everywhere but on the Austrian, his son, and Holmes’ sobbing assistant. For what seemed like the thousandth time, Watson watched his friend’s eyes comb over every inch of the scene in front of him, not missing a detail even as his mind was slightly preoccupied in explaining to Strauss exactly what had happened.

    Katharine glanced up from Grayson’s shoulder in time to catch the range of emotions flying across the ambassador’s face. From disbelief to rage to shock, it seemed at one point the man had contemplated tracking down Moriarty himself in order to ensure that the professor paid for his crimes. When Holmes had finished his narrative, his attention instantly snapped back to the puzzle in front of him, leaving Strauss to deal with these newly learned facts by himself. Katharine could see deep and concerned thought in his eyes, especially as he glanced over at his son, who still had his arms wrapped around her. She blanched and bowed her head, still embarrassed by the scene she and Grayson had caused at the London ball a few weeks beforehand.

    Finally, in a slow and calm voice, he spoke. “Obviously, you do not plan to go to the authorities with this information, Mr. Holmes. Since your investigation involves the safety of my son and myself, please tell me what you plan to do next.”

    Katharine also wanted to know the answer to this question. She disentangled herself from Grayson’s arms long enough to cast a curious eye to her employer. Now that Moriarty’s mission in Paris was finished, what would she, Holmes, and Watson do next? That was…if Moriarty’s time in France was truly over…She hoped to God it was.

    “I plan…” Holmes’ attention was, once again, fully on the pieces of broken wooden furniture that was scattered across the room in piles. “…to capture Moriarty.” He lifted his head and stared at a window across from him. Katharine followed his gaze. The window had bullet holes in it. Holmes ducked his head and rushed past Strauss and out of the door, Watson following after him.

    “I’ll be right back,” she whispered to Grayson before following them out the door.

    ------------

    “He took his shot from right here,” Watson said, lifting his cane to simulate a gun in his hands. “With a tripod…” His eyes moved along the ground at his feet. “Then he discovered there was a better position…There’s a scrape where he moved it here.” He motioned to the floor. “And he put his wind gauge here.” He motioned again to the ledge in front of him.

    “So the blast was just to cover an assassination?” Katharine asked, her eyes on the building in front of them. “Just in case the bomb didn’t kill all of them?”

    “No…I don’t believe any of the ambassadors were a target…” Holmes muttered. “In attendance, there was also a factory owner name Meinhart.”

    Katharine shot him a confused glance. Watson explained. “He makes guns. Big ones.”

    “Someone anonymously bought thousands of shares of his company a few months ago…Now that he’s dead, that anonymous buyer will inherit the factory.”

    “Moriarty,” Katharine muttered.

    “And the shooter?” Holmes asked aloud, walking further along the edge.

    “There’s only a few men in all of Europe who could shoot like that,” Watson said.

    There was a sick feeling in Katharine’s stomach as she whispered, “Sebastian.”

    “Who?”

    “Sebastian Moran.”

    “I’ve heard of him. Dishonorable discharge from the British Army. Best shot in the country. Do you know him?”

    She nodded, turning away. “He’s been like a brother to me since I was little.”

    ------------

    “Are you sure about this?” Grayson asked, one hand placed on the rail of the train car door in front of him. “Are you sure you don’t want to come to Austria with me and Father?”

    She nodded. “Grayson, I have to do this.”

    “Okay…” He glanced over her shoulder to where Watson and Holmes stood a few yards away. “Mr. Holmes!”

    The detective’s head shot up.

    “Take good care of her. Make sure she doesn’t get hurt.” He finally stepped into the train and slammed the door shut.

    Soft enough for only Watson to hear, Holmes muttered, “Of course.”

    ------------

    “He had a point, you know,” Watson said an hour later as he and Holmes waited for Katharine to join them at an outdoor café. “Letting her aid us in London…where we knew the territory…was one thing, but this…Are you sure you don’t want to send her back to London or America?”

    “She seems intent on seeing this through to the end. She’ll be a valuable asset to us.”

    Watson paused for a moment, then asked. “Have you told her yet?”

    “It isn’t time yet.”

    “When will it be time?”

    “When this is all over.”

    “You could be dead when this…” Watson stopped in midsentence. “I swear to God we aren’t going to keep having this conversation.”

    “Then stop asking me that question.”

    ------------

    Katharine made her way from the hotel towards the café, her mind completely on the previous night’s events. For a few moments, she failed to notice that someone had come up alongside her for a few steps.

    “Good morning, Katharine.”

    Her blood froze as she turned toward Moriarty. She had hoped that she wouldn’t have to speak to him before he left Paris. She had a lot of explaining to do about the previous night’s events. Eventually, he would discover that she was helping Holmes. What was going to happen then? She decided that, even if he did know, it was best not to break composure until he actually told her he was aware of the situation. Thus, she decided to play the part of embarrassment of walking out on him at the opera…

    “I must say I was concerned when you left so abruptly last night. Of course, it is understandable in light of recent events…”

    She opened her mouth to say something, but she couldn’t get any words out. She merely held her breath. This was it…he knew…

    “Have you corresponded with your parents since the ball?”

    A wave of relief washed over her, making her instantly calmer. He was providing her alibi for her! “No…I haven’t…” She said, mustering all of the sadness she could into her voice. To tell the truth, she was certainly glad to be rid of her father and sister. The only pain in missing her family came from her separation from her mother.

    “I’ve had one letter from Richard. He is still…angry. It will take some time for him to recover from what happened at the ball. In the meantime…” He stopped short in the street, studying her with his icy blue eyes. “I am afraid that I won’t be returning to England right away. I’m off on a lecture tour throughout Europe…If you don’t feel comfortable returning to London by yourself, you could always join me…”

    Neither of those options appealed to her in the least, but there was no way she could agree to follow the latter. She tried to give him a reassuring smile. “I’m afraid that I must return to London…I apologize, Professor…”

    “Please…” He stepped closer, placing a hand on her shoulder. Where once she found warmth in the gesture, now she had to force herself not to shrink away. “While you are separated from your family, I want to make sure that you are safe. That is all I want, Katharine.”

    Something in the way he spoke those words…the warm look that accompanied them…she felt she was back to where they used to be. The young student who felt isolated from her family and the mentor who had become like a father to her.

    Without another word, he walked away. Katharine gazed after him for a while, wondering why she felt such incredible sadness…When the answer hit her, she cursed herself a thousand times over.

    Despite everything that he had done…his lies, his betrayal, his murders…she still cared for him every bit as much as she had before.

  17. #17
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    Chapter Fifteen



    “Ah, there she is,” Holmes said as Katharine finally approached their table. She took the seat beside the detective, an obviously worried expression on her face.

    “Is something wrong?” Watson asked.

    After a brief silence, she answered, “I just spoke with Moriarty.”

    Both Englishmen turned their attention to her. “And…?” Watson asked, leaning forward.

    “He still doesn’t suspect that I’m helping you. Well…even if he does suspect, he hasn’t said anything yet.”

    “We’re going to keep it that way,” Holmes replied. “At least for another few days. We are going to track him to Meinhart’s factory to see exactly why he was so interested in it in the first place.”

    “The problem is, the border between France and Germany is being watched like a hawk lately because of the bombings,” Watson added. “And all three of us are foreigners, so our passage across won’t be smooth.”

    Katharine thought for a few moments. “I think I know how we can get across.”

    ------------

    “A splendid idea your assistant had,” Watson muttered as their wagon pulled up to a gypsy camp a few miles outside of Paris. Katharine, who was riding in front, turned around to cast a glare back at the doctor before jumping off of her seat. She had returned to wearing the men’s clothes she had worn in London when aiding Holmes against the assassin.

    Watson and Holmes watched her as she simply strode into the camp, shouting a few words in French and ignoring the curious looks everyone was giving her. “Might I add that she’s starting to scare me a bit.”

    “And how is that?”

    “Well, she’s got the entire I’m going to get revenge on Moriarty part playing today. She has at least five knives concealed on her person…I think she really means to kill him herself if she’s got the chance.” They both scrambled out of the back of the wagon, following her into the camp.

    “Simza?” She called out. “Does anyone know where Madame Simza is?” She repeated herself several times until the crowd parted. A young woman around Katharine’s age stepped through. She had long, curly brown hair and dark eyes. She studied the girl curiously.

    “I am Simza,” she answered in a strong French accent, placing her hands on her hips.

    Katharine paused for a few moments as if she was unsure how to proceed. “Sim…it’s been a while.”

    The young woman studied Katharine for a few moments before recognition flashed in her eyes. She stepped forward, staring at Katharine’s face. “It can’t be…” She breathed. “Kat…?”

    Katharine nodded and Simza laughed, throwing her arms around the American girl. “I never expected to see you again!” She said, holding Katharine out at arm’s length. “Are you hungry?”

    She nodded. “Yes, we are.”

    Simza glanced over to where the two Englishmen stood. Watson had a thoroughly confused look on his face while Holmes wore one of amusement. “Who are your traveling companions?”

    Katharine cleared her throat. “This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective from London. I’m helping him in his latest case…and this is his friend, Dr. John Watson.”

    “Please, please, come in and eat,” Simza called to them, throwing an arm over Katharine’s shoulder and leading her inside. Holmes tried to give Watson a winning smile, but the doctor would have none of that. He was far too confused and caught off guard by their situation to find the amusement in it.

    ------------

    “So…” Simza started, leaning forward eagerly to hear every word that Katharine spoke. “What brings you back to our camp?”

    Though Katharine could have easily filled Holmes and Watson in on her background with Simza’s gypsy camp, there were precious few times when she was able to see the detective in a situation he knew nothing of. While Watson’s befuddlement shone across every feature, she could tell Holmes was trying not to give any of his confusion away…which made it all the more amusing. Therefore, she spoke with Simza simply to catch up on the present and none of the past.

    Though her reunion with Simza was a happy one, her tone instantly turned serious as she remembered the events of the preceding weeks. “We need to cross the border into Germany. The official crossings are swimming with guards because of the recent bombing in Paris.”

    Simza raised an eyebrow. “Can’t your ambassador’s passport get you across?”

    “We are following a very dangerous man…the person behind the bombings. He has connections and could probably be notified if she uses her passport to get us across,” Watson explained.

    Simza stared at Katharine. “You are after the man behind the bombings?” She repeated in a whisper. The sisterly worry that had crossed her friend’s face many times when they had last seen each other reappeared. No matter how much trouble Katharine had gotten into as a child, this was the most dangerous thing that she had ever done…far more risky than running away from home…

    Katharine simply nodded in reply. The wagon was quiet as Simza thought about her decision. Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they waited for her answer. If she said no, they would have to take the extremely dangerous chance of sneaking over the border themselves. Out of the three of them, only Katharine had been in this part of the country, but she had never been on the German side of the border. They could easily get lost and disoriented, which could be fatal if any of Moriarty’s men were after them. If they tried to cross legally with Katharine’s passport, there was a high chance that Moriarty had stationed some of his men at the crossing to send a report to him if the three chanced that way. This was the safest and perhaps only way for them to get into the country.

    Finally, Simza turned her eyes back to Katharine, her voice deadly serious as she met the American girl’s eyes. “I will take you across the border in a wagon further south from here. If you want, I can arrange to take you even further to wherever it is in Germany you are going.” She leaned forward, her voice dropping to a whisper that even Holmes and Watson could hear. “But don’t you dare repay me by getting yourself killed, do you hear me?” She turned her gaze to the two British men as if to include them in this statement…and also as if to tell them that they better watch Katharine’s back and ensure she didn’t get hurt. Both a little frightened by the gypsy woman’s intensity, they nodded. She seemed satisfied with their silent answer and stood up, a smile returning to her face.

    “We will leave tomorrow at dawn,” she announced. “Do you need any weapons to bring along with you?”

    Watson gave Katharine a look as if to ask if Simza was serious about that question. The girl nodded and he gave an exasperated sigh. While it helped them out considerably, it was unnerving that every person in Katharine’s social group seemed deadly. If Moriarty had been training Katharine as an assassin, couldn’t he have also been training his other students as well?

    ------------

    The gypsy wagon creaked and groaned as the small group wove its way through the hills of Germany. Holmes and Watson sat in the wagon across from Simza. Katharine was astride a horse, gazing out over the scenery in front of them.

    “So…um…” Watson fumbled over the exact wording of what he wanted to ask. “How did…”

    “How did the daughter of an ambassador and a gypsy girl meet each other in France?” Simza finished, an amused smile on her face. When Watson nodded, she crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Kat ran away from where she and her family were staying in France when she was twelve. She had had a fight with her father and just left that very night. She happened upon our camp and, since she was so young, my mother let her stay with us for as long as she wanted. I was only a year older than her and didn’t have anyone else my age in the camp at the time, so we played together…got into trouble most of the time. After about a month, she decided to return home.”

    Watson cast a questioning glance at Holmes, but the detective didn’t betray any surprise at the story. “Is there a reason why you call her Kat?” He asked.

    Simza smiled. “Even at twelve, she could outshoot and outride any man in our camp, no matter their age or experience. They whispered that she was as strong as a lioness, as swift as a cheetah, and as deadly as a panther. Thus, we called her Kat.”

    “A wonderful nickname,” Holmes said with a smile. They were jolted forward by the wagon coming to a sudden stop. Watson leaned out as Katharine rode up to speak to them.

    “I can see the factory up ahead. We should go the rest of the way on foot,” she said, dismounting the horse.

    As Holmes and Watson jumped down from the wagon, Katharine stepped forward to speak with Simza. “Be careful,” the young gypsy woman said. “Though I know that you’ll take down anyone who dares challenge you.”

    Katharine smiled. “I hope so.”

    “If you’re ever in France again, please come and visit me. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to catch up.” Simza motioned for the band to head back, and Katharine waved good-bye as they drove off. She returned to help Holmes and Watson form their plan of action.
    Pulling the wool coat that Simza had given her as a reunion present tighter around her chest, Katharine stared at her feet as the detective and the doctor argued about what their first move would be. Dark waves lapped at the shore a few inches from her black boots, the lake that stood between them and Meinhart’s factory completely unfrozen.

    A few times, she glanced over at the looming metal structure, its guard towers and steel buildings formidable in the darkness. Something ominous lay behind the brick walls of the outer gates…For a second, she almost turned around and pleaded for Holmes to take her back to London. Whatever they uncovered in that factory was a secret she didn’t want to know.

    She shivered, her breath billowing out in front of her in a small cloud. The patches of snow and ice around her reminded her of his cold blue eyes. If they were caught sneaking around that factory, he would finally know that she knew…she knew of his dark side. What would he do? Would he take pity on her and simply ship her back to London? Or would he kill her along with Holmes and Watson? She tried to push those thoughts out of her mind. Now was not the time to start worrying. Now was the time for action…

    “Katharine?”

    She suddenly became aware of Watson’s voice calling her name. She finally lifted her eyes from her boots to discover that both Englishmen were staring at her, as if they expected her input or had asked her a question. She could feel her cheeks blush with embarrassment at being caught with her head in the clouds. “I’m sorry…what…?”

    “We’re going to enter one of the intake pipes from the lake and come out in, hopefully, the main yard…” Watson started. Katharine nodded slightly, her eyes still a little distant from her incessant worrying.

    After a few more moments of hesitation, Holmes straightened up, an excited smile spreading across his face. He was getting ever closer to challenging the professor. As they made their way for the ominously looming lake in front of them, Katharine couldn’t help but marvel about how one impending revelation could worry one person at the same time as excite another.

    ------------

    Voices shouted in German, a language Katharine had bothered not to learn, as had Watson, and, surprisingly, even Holmes. Perhaps most of the villains he tracked down in London hadn’t bothered to learn that language, either. From her hiding spot behind a large metal storage unit, she could hear the marching of boots on the cobblestones of the factory yard. While she was sitting on the ground, both Englishmen had guns drawn, warily watching the German guard circle around the premises.
    Finally, after a few moments of held breaths and tense nerves, Holmes turned to Watson. “There is a telegraph office on the south end of the factory…” While Katharine was wondering how he knew this, he drew a small piece of paper from the pocket of his now worn-out coat. “Send this message to my brother while we investigate the contents of the factory.”

    Katharine was jolted by the word “we,” half surprised that he had decided not to sit her on the sidelines for this mission and half relieved that he was not going to leave her in suspense of what was to come. Watson bid them to be careful, sneaking off to a high chain fence that separated the north yard from the south yard, hiding in the shadows so as not to be discovered by the German guards.

    “Now…” Holmes nodded to a metal door nearby that led into the heart of the factory itself. “Shall we see what your beloved professor has been up to lately?”

  18. #18
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    Chapter Sixteen



    As they slipped into the factory, the world was plunged into utter darkness. Distressed that she couldn’t even see her hands in front of her, Katharine reached out and instinctively grabbed the back of Holmes’ coat, nearly startling him enough to cause him to swing around, his revolver clutched tightly in his hands.

    “Sorry,” she mumbled. Though it was completely dark, she could feel her cheeks growing hot with embarrassment. “You wouldn’t happen to have a lighter on you, would you?” As soon as she said it, she realized it was a dumb question. Holmes never walked around absent his pipe. Why would he forget a lighter?

    A few seconds later, she could finally see the detective’s face, illuminated only slightly by the small lighter in his hands. Instantly, the light flickered over to the walls around them. “What if they see the lights come on?” She asked worriedly, chiding herself for being so cowardly. Only a few hours earlier, she was ready to blow past any German soldier who stood in her way so that she could put a bullet in Moriarty’s brain. Now, she was cowering in the dark like a child. What had gotten into her?

    “It’s better than running into them in the dark,” Holmes muttered, flicking on a switch nearby. A sharp snap preceded the flickering lights over their heads. They were in a narrow hallway, lined with heavily barred steel doors. The detective took a few moments to decide what to do before he simply strode up to the first door, peeked through the window carved inside its top portion, and opened it. Unlocked, the steel door swung open slowly to reveal something that made him gasp.

    A feeling of dread hit Katharine as she followed Holmes inside. Whatever sight could unnerve him would definitely shake her, she decided. Even that didn’t prepare her for the sight in front of them.

    A large room with high ceilings spread out before them, the central figure being a large iron table with a colossal map of Europe unrolled across its cold surface. Small flags were set up in several spots around the map, but the severe cluster of flags in France and Germany told her that these were the targets of Moriarty’s bombs. Nearby was a large blackboard with targets, dates, times, and what looked like shipments written on it in white chalk…Moriarty’s careful cursive script causing Katharine to turn away. It was yet another piece of evidence that he was the killer Holmes claimed him to be.

    “I think we’ve seen enough here.” Whether he had decided to leave because he had gathered all he could from the room or because Katharine was becoming unnerved at the seemingly cold and cruel display of Moriarty’s true nature in front of them, Holmes pulled her out of the room, crossing over to the next and opening the door there. Before Katharine could say a word, they were momentarily plunged into darkness again. After Holmes found another switch, she suddenly wished that they could continue in darkness. Laid out in front of them, on long, cold metal tables, was an array of different weapons…or what looked like weapons to her. They were strange…cylindrical tubes…As she stepped closer, she realized from the wiring and chemicals running through them that these were bombs…dozens of them, in fact. However, these were more intricate than the explosives used to stir up France and Germany.

    Katharine was determined to push through this room into the chamber beyond without giving much thought to what plans Moriarty had for the weapons within its walls. Holmes, on the other hand, was intent on satisfying his scientific curiosity, studying each one as if it held the secrets of the universe. Ignoring him, she slipped towards the back door…which seemed to be surrounded by a flock of white sheets of paper. As she neared the wall, a sickening feeling overcame her.

    Each sheet of paper contained a sketch of mechanical equipment. Each piece was meant for some part of the human body. Each letter on each page was drawn in Katharine’s careful and mechanical hand.

    “Well, this seems familiar.”

    The dread running through her clashed horribly with Holmes’ rather amused tone as she turned and followed his gaze to another worktable a few yards to her right. It was a surreal sight. Laid out carefully every few feet were her inventions…The artificial arms and legs…All of it brought to life by a careful and skilled welder. A few months previously, she would have shed tears of joy at the sight. Now, it instilled terror in her…so much that she nearly screamed at Holmes not to touch the mechanical arm resting only a few inches away from him.

    She whirled around towards the sheets of paper yet again, closing her eyes tightly. He had taken her drawings…all of her sketches. They were not meant to be used as tools of war…no, not as he had portrayed them on the table. They were meant to save lives. He had stolen her inventions and perverted their use. Terror turned to sickness and finally to rage. She immediately forgot all of her conflicting emotions. If Moriarty had been in the room at the time, she would have instantly relieved Holmes of his pistol and shot her former mentor in the head.

    Settling on the next best thing, she flew at the wall, tearing down every piece of paper she could get her hands on. Holmes watched her for a few moments before he realized that she was intent on destroying every one of her sketches. Lunging forward, he grabbed both of her arms in an attempt to stop her.

    “No, no, no, no!” She screamed. “He ruined them! He ruined all of them!” Before she could say another word, Holmes shushed her and instantly slapped a hand over her mouth. They stood, breaths held, for a few moments before he was certain no one had heard her outburst. Retrieving his hand, he shot her a look of sympathy before he turned to the door closest to them.

    “Now, if we can avoid further outbursts, I believe we have a chance to explore more of this factory.” Without further comment, Holmes pulled open the door, waiting for Katharine to step through it first. Hesitating, she took one more long look at the wall before rushing through the door. He scanned the area before following her through into yet another dark room. It took him a few minutes to find a light switch. Several large industrial-size lights clicked on overhead and kept flickering on over yards and yards of large bombs and metal crates. They stared at the scene before them for a few moments, horrified at what they saw. Katharine took a few steps back at the same time Holmes stepped closer to examine them closer.

    “Hello, Kat.”

    She whirled around to come face-to-face with Moran, who instantly grabbed her arm to stop her from pulling out one of the knives she had concealed in her coat. He smiled as she glared at him. Holmes pulled out his revolver, but Moran was faster. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said, leveling his own revolver at Katharine’s head. The detective instantly lowered his before two men slipped out of the shadows behind him, pinning his arms to his back so that he couldn’t move. Before Katharine could say another word, a smell of chemicals flooded her vision, and she blacked out.

    ------------

    Katharine woke up to the cool feel of a metal desk underneath her cheek. She tried to pull her arms forward, but she found that her wrists were chained to the seat behind her. She groaned, lifting her head and trying to focus her vision to the area to her right. She could only just make out Holmes across the room, unconscious in another chair. Colors swam in front of her vision, frustration welling up as she tried to focus on her employer to ensure that he was all right. After a few moments, her vision finally cleared, leaving her puzzled to see that, while she was thoroughly restrained to her chair with handcuffs, Holmes had been left untethered to his chair…as if their captors had deemed him unthreatening.

    “Hello, Katharine.”

    Unlike the previous greeting by one of her betrayers, this one was filled with harsh coldness. Where Moran’s greeting had been filled with both playfulness and remorse, Moriarty’s was all business and calculation, as if he were addressing a mental patient he wasn’t sure would try to wrap her hands around his neck at the slightest provocation. He was right, of course. If her hands hadn’t been securely fastened to the back of her chair, she would have lunged at him the second her vision returned to normal.

    Katharine glared at Moriarty in silence for a few moments. He gave her a long, sad stare back before speaking, “I’m sure you have many questions…” He sighed. “I’m sorry that they had to go unanswered for so long.”

    There was another long silence before she replied, “I believed you. I trusted you. And you betrayed me.”

    “How?”

    She hesitated. “You stole my work.”

    “I made your work come to life…and I would never claim that it is mine…”

    “So you expected me to be fine with the application you chose it for.”

    “I only modified your work. I didn’t corrupt it.”

    “YOU TURNED IT INTO A WEAPON!” She shouted, loud enough that, with a start, Holmes woke up on the other side of the room. She and Moriarty turned their attention to him as his vision finally focused enough for him to cast a worried glance at her.

    With his eyes still on Holmes, Moriarty continued. “There is a story I need to tell you, Katharine. One that you were meant to hear years ago.”

    She took in a sharp breath as her father walked into the room, a slightly amused smile on his face. “Father?” She shot him a confused and horrified look. “What are you doing here?”

    Jones smirked. “I’m not your father. It’s good to finally be able to tell that to your face…and in the right context.”

    She gaped at him as Moriarty continued. “Richard, please inform Moran that there are most likely others here in the factory beside Katharine and Holmes.”

    “With pleasure,” he answered with another smirk, fading back into the shadows once again.

    “Now…Richard and his wife adopted you when you were an infant. Your mother had been childhood friends with Diana growing up in the southern United States. After she died, your father entrusted you to Diana and Richard for your safety. I decided to take it upon myself to help raise you intellectually. And I see that I have succeeded.”

    Stunned, Katharine watched as he got up and strode across the room toward Holmes. Two men had materialized out of the shadows in the back of the room. She watched them warily, pulling at the handcuffs instinctually, even though she knew she would never be able to make it to them in time to prevent any damage being done to her employer.

    “Now…” Moriarty started, his eyes only on Holmes. He turned back to Katharine. “You will find out the truth. Tell her, Holmes.”

    Katharine stared at the detective, waiting with held breath for what he had to say. Instead of speaking, he adverted his eyes from her and glared at Moriarty.

    The professor sighed. “Why must you make this so difficult?” He motioned to the men at the back. One step forward, a grappling hook in one hand. Before Katharine could say anything, the man plunged the hook into Holmes’ shoulder. With a shout, the detective was hoisted up almost to the rafters.

    “What are you doing?!” She screeched.

    Ignoring her, Moriarty stepped closer to Holmes. “Don’t drag this out any further. Tell her who her true father is.”

    Silence followed his statement. Sighing, Moriarty motioned the men to drop him. With a loud crash, Holmes fell to the floor. Kneeling over him, the professor grabbed the hook and pulled it forward, eliciting more shouts from the detective.

    “Tell her who her true father is,” Moriarty repeated in a more determined fashion. Holmes’ reply was too soft for her to hear. The professor rolled his eyes. “Louder, Holmes,” he said, emphasizing his point with another pull on the grappling hook.

    After a few more seconds of silence, Holmes repeated himself a bit louder, but still not enough for her to hear. “Louder!” Moriarty snapped.

    “I am!” Holmes practically shouted. “I am your father!”

    Katharine’s heart stopped, and she felt as if the wind was knocked out of her. She gasped, stunned into silence. Moriarty rose to his feet, a triumphant look on his face. Before anyone could say another word, however, a loud creaking noise sounded from outside and the world instantly turned black.

    ------------

    Katharine groaned, opening her eyes and testing her wrists, surprised to find that the handcuffs had broken into two and separated from the table. She looked around her, choking on a cloud of dust. Bricks and steel laid in every direction. She rose to her feet, looking around at the destruction that surrounded her. Her mind searched through every possible cause for the collapse of the building they were in…which contained no brick whatsoever.
    A few more seconds of surveying the area around the building gave her the answer. The lighthouse that had stood a couple hundred yards away from the main factory had collapsed right onto the room they were in. She had no idea how she had survived such destruction and gaped at the hole that had been blown into the base of the tower. The only way that hole could have gotten there was if someone had shot a cannon at it…either a person trying to catch Watson, who was the only member of their group still free, or the doctor had collapsed the building while firing one of the huge guns around them.

    Suddenly, she remembered that Holmes and Moriarty were still buried underneath the rubble. She could hear groans from underneath he brick and dirt…the first voice belonging to Moriarty, who seemed to be buried further down into the rubble, and the second issuing from the detective. Katharine whispered a small prayer of relief as she rushed toward where she was sure Holmes was buried, all the while looking around wildly for the doctor or any German soldier that might try to apprehend her.

    A thousand emotions swam through her head, but she pushed them aside for a moment. All that mattered at that point in time was getting Holmes out, finding Watson, and escaping from the factory in one piece. She repeated these steps silently as she pushed aside bricks and large pieces of wood until she found Holmes.

    Her heart stopped for a second. He seemed to be dead for all of a few moments before Holmes opened his eyes and gave her a relieved smile. Reflexively, she laughed. He was all right…aside from the hook that was still in his shoulder. The cry he issued when she pulled it out caused her blood to freeze. Surely, that would attract some of the German soldiers. But none came running.

    “I’m rather glad now that I convinced you to fight on our side,” Holmes muttered as she helped him to his feet. It was a slow process, aided by the fact that she was half a foot shorter than he was. Their escape would be much easier if Watson had been there to support him. She mumbled a few curses as they tripped and slid over the wreckage from the lighthouse.

    “Where is Dr. Watson?” She breathed as they finally made their way across the factory yard. The doctor was nowhere in sight…she hoped he hadn’t been injured after the building collapse. Angry German shouts were rising all around them, increasing the urgency of their escape.

    “He has escaped by a different route!” Holmes replied. “We are to take the train at the other side of these woods ahead of us!” Katharine gawked at his suggestion as they stumbled forward, her sarcastic reply cut off by a gunshot that cracked awfully close to her ear. She allowed herself to glance over the shoulder on which she was not supporting Holmes, only to see several soldiers running toward them.

    To urge the detective to go faster would do no good, but she yelled at him to run anyway. His shoulder was hurt, not his legs. They rushed for the great wall in front of them, bullets whizzing past, barely missing their targets. There was no way they could scale it with Holmes’ hurt shoulder. They ducked behind a huge storage bin, crouching close to the ground.

    “We’ll have to find another way out of the yard,” Katharine said, searching around them wildly for another exit.

    Before Holmes could reply, a huge boom sounded from behind them. A huge shower of brick and mortar rained down around them, causing Katharine to choke on the thick dust. Once the smoke cleared, they could see a huge hole in the wall. Without another word, they rushed for it.

    ------------

    Moran climbed over the wreckage caused by the lighthouse, cursing as he pushed brick and wood away to help Moriarty to his feet.

    “Don’t bother with me,” the professor snapped. “Make sure they do not escape!”

    Moran nodded, spinning around and rushing across the factory yard to find the commander of the German soldiers currently on Moriarty’s payroll. In harsh German, he shouted, “Kill the man, capture the girl. She is to be UNHARMED! Do you understand me?! If there is one scratch on her, I will have your head!”

    ------------

    Katharine could hear her heart racing as they plunged through the forest toward the railroad that Holmes insisted was their escape route. She could hear angry German voices behind her. As they ran, she kept her eye on the detective to make sure that he was getting along fine with his wound. Another large boom sounded from behind them, causing the forest ahead of them to explode.

    With a cry, she slid over a slope of land, falling onto her back and knocking the wind out of her lungs. She heard another larger thump beside her, signaling that Holmes had done the same thing. Before he could stand up to run again, Katharine grabbed his arm and dragged him back down onto the snow, signaling for him to be quiet. They could hear footsteps behind them…the voices had stopped.

    Suddenly, she could hear Moran talk off to her left. He was shouting in German to several of the soldiers. He hadn’t seen them yet. Carefully, Katharine reached for her knife. He had his back turned to them. She was quick enough…she could do it.

    But…no, she couldn’t. Several Germans were racing toward him. Holmes pulled her to her feet, dragging her for the train ahead of them. Shouts rang out behind them. They slid down the hill towards one of the cars, Holmes running ahead with a good enough head start that he was able to swing himself up and in even with his injured arm. Holmes reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder, hoisting her in and slamming the door shut.

  19. #19
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    Chapter Seventeen



    The sound of the train’s wheels on the iron rails lulled her to sleep. She tried to fight going under, but she was so exhausted by their escape from Moriarty, she couldn’t resist. A few hours later, she woke up, her head leaning against the carriage door. Holmes sat in front of her. He had opened the door just enough so that he could watch to see what they passed by. Her eyes instantly went to his shoulder, which was still bleeding. Taking off her coat, she ripped a long strip off of the bottom, the noise getting his attention.

    “What are you doing?” He asked as she stood up and crossed over towards him. Kneeling, she untied the handkerchief that he had kept over his shoulder and tied the strip around it, pulling it tight and ignoring the hiss of pain that he let out.

    She sat back, pulling her knees to her chest. “We’re going to have to find a doctor to stitch that up. We should get off of the train at the next village we see.”

    “No…we are going straight to Switzerland…”

    “Switzerland?”

    “For the peace summit. We are meeting my brother there.”

    “You won’t be able to get to the peace summit if you’re dead. We need to find a doctor…”

    “I’ll be fine.”

    “You’ll either be dead or short one arm.”

    Silence reigned for a few moments before she finally spoke. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “Tell you what?” He asked, his eyes on the scenery speeding by them.

    She sighed. “Tell me that you’re my father.”

    “It wasn’t an important detail of the case…”

    “Actually, it turns out that it’s probably the most important detail,” she snapped. “The whole reason why he involved me was because he knew…” She froze. “When you asked me to be your assistant…shared your home with me…that wasn’t just because…”

    “Because, after twenty years of being so utterly alone in this world after your mother’s death, I wanted you by my side again?” Such a look of pain and sadness came into his eyes that Katharine couldn’t bare to look into them. Now that the truth was out, all she could do was glance back over every action, every word, and every look. How could she have been so blind? If she had had her father’s deductive powers, she would have seen it weeks beforehand. It was so painfully obvious…she had just been oblivious to it all.

    She had to ask the question that was burning foremost in her mind, but she couldn’t bring herself to look at him as she spoke. “How exactly did my mother die?” She held her breath, counting the silent moments as they passed.

    “She was murdered.”

    The words rang hollowly in her ears. No. That wasn’t possible. She had expected some sort of accident or sickness…Not that. She summoned up her courage to ask another question. “By whom?”

    There were a few more moments of silence that absolutely threatened to kill her. Surely, the great Sherlock Holmes had solved this, the greatest and most personal case of his life. Surely he hadn’t lived all these years without knowing exactly who had killed his wife…”

    The pain in his voice was more from his memory than from his wound. “Moriarty. He killed her himself.”

    Everything fell into place for her. THAT was exactly why Holmes was after her former mentor. It wasn’t just the urge to prevent a war that would cost countless numbers of lives. It wasn’t because his analytical mind had obsessed over solving this puzzle.

    It was all for revenge. Holmes wanted Moriarty dead to avenge her mother’s death.

    And, at that moment, she realized that he wasn’t the only one on that train who wanted revenge. Every single lie, every single false action…and now this. Whatever feelings she had still harbored for the professor melted away in an instant. He had practically kidnapped her, kill her mother, and put her father through a twenty-year long living nightmare.

    Moriarty had to die. And she would make sure he died by Holmes’ hand no matter what it took.

    Calm finally settled over her for the first time in months. She now knew exactly what she was doing…exactly who she was. She was glad for this revelation. She had hated Jones and the fact that he wasn’t her real father elated her…and, truth be told, she had wished at several points along the way that Holmes would be her real father.

    They rode along in silence for a few hours before Katharine finally spotted a village up ahead. “We should get out here.”

    “We should continue on to Switzerland on the train…” Holmes muttered, leaning back against the frame of the door and closing his eyes.

    Katharine glared at him, reaching up to open the door wider. “No, I’m pretty sure this is going to be our stop.” Before he could react, she grabbed him by his uninjured arm and jumped, hauling him into the snow bank beside the train tracks. She let go on impact, rolling down the hill. He landed on his injured shoulder, shouting in pain as the train sped by, finally vanishing in the distance. She got up and brushed the snow from her coat, looking around to gauge where they were.

    “Why in the world did you do that?” Holmes shouted, rising to his feet and gripping his injured shoulder in pain.

    “We need to find you a doctor before your arm falls off,” she snapped.

    “You didn’t have to push me from the train like that.”

    “Consider it payback from Mary.”

    He scowled at her, but she ignored him, walking into the woods that lay between the tracks and the village. After a couple of steps, she realized that he wasn’t following her. She turned back. He was staring in the direction of the train tracks.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Waiting for our next ride to Switzerland.”

    She groaned, trudging back up to where he stood. “I don’t think you understand me. If we don’t get your wound cleaned out and wrapped up properly soon, you could lose that arm.”

    “And I don’t think you understand that this peace summit is in just under a week and we will miss it if we travel on foot.”

    “Then we won’t travel on foot.”

    “Fine. We will get my shoulder sewn up and catch the next train out.”

    “Don’t you think the Germans will be looking for us on every train that comes through this country?”

    He paused. “We’ll find a way around that, surely.”
    Katharine sighed, trudging back up the hill and crossing her arms. “How many times have you been stuck out in the middle of nowhere like this?”

    Holmes thought for a few seconds. “None, I believe.”

    “Moriarty used to dump me and Moran out in the middle of nowhere for survival training…”

    “Now that you say that, I’m beginning to think your childhood was a lot more dangerous in America than it would have been in London…”

    “The fact that I ran away and lived with gypsies for weeks didn’t tip you off?”

    “You seemed to be perfectly safe in that situation.”

    She groaned. “The point is, I have been through this type of situation before which means you listen to me or we’re going to both end up getting killed.”

    He paused for a few moments, thinking this over. “Well…when you put it that way.”

    “I do.” She grabbed his uninjured arm and started to drag him towards the village. His stubbornness had merely made her roll her eyes when they were in London, but now, out in the wilderness, where they had no food, no transportation, and one of them was injured, it was the most annoying thing ever. Luckily for them, she had inherited his stubbornness, which, in her case, might end up saving both of their lives.

    They approached the village with caution. Though it wasn’t the first village the train passed by on its journey away from the factory, Katharine knew that the Germans would have instantly started scouring the line for both of them. They had to be extremely cautious and keep speaking with villagers to a minimum. The soldiers would be looking for a British man and his American daughter. Even if they decided to switch accents or try to imitate the Germans’, their physical descriptions would give them away. Their best bet in that regard would be for Katharine to completely cut her hair and pretend to be Holmes’ son instead of his daughter. Moriarty may have thought of that, but she had to give it a shot.

    Luckily for them, it was easy to find the doctor of the village. Katharine made Holmes stay in the alleyway as she scouted the doctor’s office out. No soldiers were inside. She wondered if word had gotten to the villagers yet. If so, they would surely send word…but she had to take that chance. They wouldn’t be able to get anywhere or fight anyone if Holmes’ shoulder got worse.

    She stepped back into the alleyway to collect her father. “There’s no one but the doctor inside…” She muttered as they stepped towards the door. She froze, suddenly remembering that they had no money on them. How was she expected to pay the doctor after he sewed Holmes’ shoulder up?

    Katharine decided to go in anyway, opening the door and stepping inside the doctor’s office, her hand still gripping Holmes’ good shoulder. The doctor, an older man with greying hair, looked up from a book sprawled across a desk. He asked them something in German.

    She shook her head. “I’m sorry, we don’t speak German.” They held their breath, awaiting the doctor’s response.

    He simply shrugged. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen after American patients,” he said in perfect English. He eyed Holmes’ shoulder. “If you don’t mind, what happened to your shoulder?”

    “It was caught on a factory crane.”

    “Ah, an Englishman. We don’t get many of those around these parts either.” They watched the doctor nervously as he stood up and walked over to a cabinet. “Please sit down.” He gestured to a group of chairs nearby. Katharine made to step forward first, but Holmes put himself between her and the doctor, as if he were afraid the German would pull a gun out of the cabinet and shoot them both. His suspicions were luckily wrong. Katharine sat down beside her father on his uninjured side, finally letting go of his shoulder as they watched the doctor step around to look at the wound. “You’ve lost a lot of blood,” he muttered, cutting back the torn shirt from the cut. “But not enough to make this anywhere near fatal. I’m afraid my pain medication supplies are running low...I’ll have to stich your shoulder up without them.” He took to cleaning the wound then, which caused Holmes to flinch back in shock. Katharine watched with a worried expression on her face as the doctor retrieved a needle and suturing thread from his kit. Before he took to stitching up Holmes’ wound, she curled her hand around his, squeezing it tight. This distracted him for all of a few seconds as the doctor started. Katharine squeezed her eyes shut, wishing she could block out Holmes’ shouts as the doctor continued the procedure. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she buried her face in his uninjured shoulder, clutching his hand as if it were her lifeline. Finally, the doctor finished and stood up, allowing her to open her eyes. “There is no charge for today,” he said with a warm smile. “Just make sure your father gets some rest.”

    “O…okay,” she stammered, glancing over at Holmes, who had recovered from the procedure. He was looking at her with a curious look on his face. “What?”

    “I can’t feel my hand.”

    She cast a panicked glance at the doctor, who sighed. “He means the hand you’re clutching, Miss.”

    “Oh, sorry,” Katharine muttered, letting go of Holmes’ hand, her face reddening with embarrassment. She pushed the hair out of her eyes and stammered, “Is…is there any place in this village where we might be able to buy some clothes…and maybe a few horses?”

    The doctor raised one eyebrow. “There is a shop further down this row that sells clothes. As for the horses, there is a farm about half a mile outside of the village that may part with a few of their horses for the right price.”

    “Thank you.”

    ------------

    After having purchased some coats and gloves, they made their way around the village, searching for a gunsmith. They finally found one at the end of the street, splitting up to look over the wares once they got inside. The shopkeeper cast her a confused glance, but she ignored him. His son was standing behind the counter right across from her. As soon as she stepped closer, he gave her an appraising look from head to toe. She shot him a warning glance, but he didn’t seem to notice. She continued to glance over the guns in front of her as Holmes spoke to the shopkeeper.

    The boy said something in German. After a few moments, he realized she didn’t speak German, so he tried another language. “Have you ever shot a gun before, Miss?”

    “Yes, I have,” she said, a disinterested tone in her voice.

    He leaned closer, examining the gun that she held in her hands. “No, no, that one is too powerful for you, Miss. Besides, you’re holding it all wrong.” He reached out to grab her hand. She instantly grasped his arm and twisted it, causing him to cry out.

    The shopkeeper looked up, stunned by the sight in front of him, but Holmes seemed not to notice. After a few moments, the German turned to him. “Excuse me, sir, but could you ask your daughter not to break my son’s arm?”

    Holmes turned around, an amused smile on his face. “Now, Katharine, we won’t be able to get anywhere if you insist on making enemies out of everyone we meet.” She shot him a glare, but let go of the boy, who whimpered as if she had shot him. She rolled her eyes, and Holmes laughed.

    After they purchased their weapons, they stepped out of the shop, surveying the area around them. “We need to find some supplies…I think I saw something like a general store over there,” she said, motioning over to her left.

    “We better find them fast,” Holmes muttered, casting a glance back over his shoulder to the gunsmith’s store. “Word is going to travel soon that you tried to break the gunsmith’s son’s arm.”

  20. #20
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    Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season! I, for one, am glad that it's Christmas Break and that Christmas is just a few days away! So, I say Merry Christmas to you all and here is my little present for you to read during your break from school, work, etc.!

    As far as Chronicles news goes, I am considering finishing out How to Save a Life and Shadow Games here, but since reading has slowed down in the past six months, I may move all of my fanfics to Tumblr as I did my newest Avengers fanfic The Aquapolian Initiative. Or, I might move TAI here for your enjoyment. I haven't decided yet...


    Chapter Eighteen



    Katharine pulled her coat tighter around herself, shivering violently and watching her breath rise in plumes of smoke-like air in front of her as they made their way for the small farm a few yards ahead of them. It was situated about a mile outside of the village. The walk had been long and silent, neither of them speaking a word. Her only thoughts were on their next few steps.

    The world peace summit was being held in Switzerland in four days’ time, meaning that she and her father would not only have to make sure they were not captured by Moriarty’s Germans, but were also able to avoid any delays and get across the border in time. Holmes had mentioned that his brother had a house about three miles away from the old castle where the summit would be held. That was their destination. It had taken her some time, but she had been able to find a map in the village. Now all they needed was transportation. They would have to ride at night to keep from being noticed much by other German citizens who may point them out to the soldiers on their trail…thank God that night was a full moon. She prayed that there would be clear skies ahead for the next few nights.

    Her thoughts were caught up in survival, but she was sure that Holmes’ thoughts were caught up in his confrontation with Moriarty. They now had all of the evidence they needed to implicate him in the bombings around Europe and in the murder of several people (including her mother)…not to mention the attempted murder of several ambassadors. Now that she knew more about the detective’s background, she realized that he wasn’t just hunting Moriarty for the thrill of completing a case…

    It was for revenge. There was no way Moriarty was making it out alive if they won. He would not be sent back to England for a trial. Holmes had his own brand of justice to dispense. And Katharine was going to do everything in her power to see that he was able to do so.

    She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard more than just one or two horses in the small barn that sat by the path. Parting with all or most of their horses would cause whoever owned the farm to jack up the price…or refuse to sell at all. Two horses were all that they needed. It sounded as if the owners had at least five.

    “Let me do all of the talking,” she hissed at Holmes as they stepped up to the entrance of the small farmhouse. The word would be that the soldiers were looking to kill a British man…Maybe if he kept his mouth shut, he could pass as American…seeing as how she didn’t know a word of German.

    After a few knocks, the door swung open to reveal a young woman a few years older than Katharine. Her hair was a deep, dark brown, pulled back over her shoulders and messy from the day’s work. Either she and her husband were extremely young or she was the daughter of whoever owned the farm.

    Katharine gave her a huge smile. “Hello. I was wondering if my father and I may buy two of your horses…”

    The girl frowned, stepping back inside. “One moment…” She muttered.

    Katharine looked back at Holmes, whose attention was fully on the barn behind them. The farmer appeared and led them back to the barn.

    “Two horses?” He asked in a thick German accent.

    “Are you sure we cannot somehow hire someone to take us in a cart…?” Holmes asked her.

    “Across the border? That would attract too much attention.” She stared at him, until realization kicked in. “Wait…” She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Can you even ride a horse?”

    “I’ve ridden before. I just…prefer not to.”

    “I heard that as a no.” She sighed, turning back to the farmer. “One horse, please.”

    After she had payed the farmer and they walked the horse out of the barn, Holmes looked up at the animal. “So you expect me to walk to Switzerland?”

    She rolled her eyes. “Get up on the horse.”

    “But I…”

    “Get up on the horse!” She snapped, startling him.

    He watched her with wide eyes as he swung into the saddle. “Touchy, touchy…” He muttered.

    “How can a grown man not ride a horse?” Before he could answer, she held up a hand to stop him. “Never mind.” Luckily, the saddle she had bought was big enough for two people. She swung up in front of him, taking the reins. “We need to be at least halfway to the border by tomorrow night,” she said before kicking the horse into a trot. Before Holmes could respond, the horse was in a full out gallop. To avoid being thrown off, he wrapped his arms around Katharine’s waist and held on tight.

    “Slow down! Switzerland is not going anywhere!”

    “Yes, but the peace summit will be if we don’t make it in time!” Katharine snapped back. Holmes kept his mouth shut until she stopped at a woods a few miles from the German/Swiss border. “We’ll make camp here,” she said, jumping down off of the horse. Holmes slid down after her as she looked around for any sort of shelter. Katharine finally found a cave nearby big enough for a fire and both of them inside. She made her way back to where Holmes stood with the horse, his back turned to her. She tapped him on the shoulder, making him jump. “I found a cave nearby. Come on.”

    Katharine soon had a fire going. She leaned back against the cave wall behind her and watched the snowfall outside. “There’s a border town just a few miles from here. It might be easier to slip over there…the German soldiers in Moriarty’s pocket will be searching anyone who goes through the checkpoint. If we can find a way around…This would have been a lot easier if Simza were here.”

    “Yes…and we would have had a cart to cross in as well,” Holmes mused.

    Katharine raised an eyebrow. “I still don’t understand how you can’t ride a horse…”

    The fire wasn’t bright enough for her to see her father’s face clearly, but the air in the cave even seemed to change mood as he answered, “I’m able to ride horses…I just choose not to. I used to ride with your mother sometimes, though I haven’t ridden since…” She could tell he was trying hard to control his voice and instantly felt terrible for teasing him about not riding. He cleared his throat. “Once we get to Switzerland, we will be able to gain some invitations to the summit and stop him from starting this war.”

    Silence reigned for a few moments. Katharine wanted to know more about her mother. She worried that they didn’t have much time left, and panic seized her for a few moments when she realized there was a good possibility that one or both of them wouldn’t make it out of this mission alive. There were things she needed to know…even if it hurt him to give her the answers.

    “What was she like?”

    There were a few moments of silence before Holmes spoke. “You remind me a lot of her. She grew up around Atlanta, but left the country as the war spread south. We met during one of my first cases, the death of one of her cousins that lived outside of London. I had been hired by her uncle to solve the case, but she insisted on following me around and doing her own detective work at the same time.” A smile spread across his face at the memory, causing Katharine to smile as well. It DID sound like something she herself would do… “Unfortunately, her own detective trail led her to being kidnapped by acquaintances of the murderer, some of Moriarty’s employees. I ended up having to track them down and freeing her myself.”

    Katharine tried to imagine the young Holmes saving her mother and, subsequently, the two of them falling in love.

    “We were only married a year before she died,” Holmes said, regret surging through his voice. “It was my actions against Moriarty that killed her. He took her as recompense for all of his men that I helped put into jail. I was afraid…” He hesitated. “I was afraid that he would eventually come for you as well. That’s why I sent you off to America. His influences stretch there, yes, but are not as strong. I never imagined that you would end up in his hands…”

    Katharine paused before saying, “You did the right thing.”

    “Did I?”

    Katharine thought about that for a few seconds. “If I had stayed in London, do you think I would still be alive today?”

    Holmes didn’t answer the question, but his look told her everything. If she had ended up being fully morphed into the killer Moriarty had intended her to be, Holmes would have probably seen her dead rather than a murderer.

    “We should get some sleep. It’s across the border in the morning for us,” Holmes said.

    Katharine sighed, pulling her coat closer around her shoulders to bar against the chilliness coming in from outside.

    That night was freezing cold even with the fire going in the cave. Katharine remembered shivering for half of the night before she finally went to sleep. When dawn broke the next day, she woke to find Holmes next to her, his arms wrapped around her in an attempt to keep her warm. So that was how she had finally fallen asleep…He was still dead asleep. Katharine couldn’t find a way from disentangling herself from him without waking him up, so she decided to wait for a half hour or so to see if he would wake up on his own.

    When he didn’t, Katharine sighed, pushing herself away from him and standing up. He groaned, opening his eyes in confusion. “We have to get going now,” she explained, putting out the fire with a handful of snow and shrugging on her coat. “Let’s go into town and see if we can find somewhere to get across the border.”

    Instead of taking the horse into town, they decided to walk, Katharine leading the horse along beside her as they passed by the first few little houses that dotted the outside of the town. Closer to the border were inns and shops, starting to bustle at this early hour with activity. Katharine tied the horse outside of the inns, regretting that they would probably have to leave it behind. Their exit strategy would most likely have to be performed on foot.

    Katharine stopped short, Holmes nearly running into her. Her gaze had locked onto a young woman across the street, dressed in a pretty dark green dress. The young woman had dark brown hair that was nearly as long as Katharine’s. She was wandering around the small stores, glancing into the shop windows. Katharine swept her gaze around them for any German soldiers or anyone who looked suspicious, and made her way across the street at a fast pace, ducking into an alley that was in her path and pulling Holmes into the dark space beside her, motioning for him to keep quiet.

    When the girl finally made her way past the alley, Katharine quickly sprang out, grabbing her arm and pulling her into the alleyway. The girl didn’t shriek as any other woman would when suddenly grabbed off the street. Katharine saw the knife flash through the air seconds before she grabbed the girl’s other arm, twisting it carefully back so as to keep the blade from slashing across her face and to keep from hurting the girl’s arm or breaking it.

    “Melanie!” She fiercely whispered. “Melanie, no, it’s me, Katharine!” All of this had happened too fast for Holmes to rush to her aide when Melanie pulled the knife from her sleeve. He stood silently, glancing from one girl to the other.

    Melanie’s dark brown eyes widened. “Kat?” She whispered in a disbelieving tone, a heavy Austrian accent cutting through her words. “Kat, what are you doing here?”

    “I’ll tell you when we’re somewhere safe. Are you staying at one of the inns here in town?”

    “Yes…” Melanie nodded, regaining her composure. “I have a room on the third floor. Why don’t we go there…”

    ------------

    Holmes drew back the curtains in front of the window to glance out onto the street, keeping his eyes peeled for any German soldiers who were not border patrolsmen. Katharine and Melanie sat side-by-side on the sofa across the room.

    “So why are you here, Kat?” Melanie asked, leaning back and giving her friend a questioning look.

    Katharine focused on her hands for a few moments before saying, “Have you spoken to Grayson recently?”

    “No, I haven’t…”

    “You may want to get in touch with your cousin soon, Miss Strauss, before you reach the peace summit,” Holmes said.
    Melanie shot a look at Katharine that asked her if she had told Holmes who she was, but introductions had been tossed out of the window in the urgency of their situation and the need for them to quickly cross the border.

    Melanie Strauss, cousin of Grayson Strauss and niece of Hans Strauss, had been Katharine’s best friend growing up. She had been as active as her blonde-haired friend, riding horses, and learning to shoot all matter of firearms and to throw knives with accuracy. But where Katharine was more at ease with a knife in her hand, Melanie excelled with the bow and arrow. A quick glance over to her friend’s opened trunk revealed a compact bow wrapped in satin. Melanie carried it everywhere when she traveled, especially since she preferred traveling alone. If it had been anyone else pulling her into that alley that day, they would probably not have emerged from it later…

    And Melanie had always known how her best friend and cousin felt for each other. She had urged them both for years to speak out against the semi-arranged marriage Jones and Strauss had concocted.

    “How did you know I was related to Hans Strauss?” Melanie demanded of Holmes.

    “First cousins usually have faint similarity in facial structures, not to mention your Austrian accent and the fact that Hans Strauss only has one brother as a sibling, and each of the Strauss men only had one child…”

    Melanie looked over at Katharine. “Who is he?”

    “This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes…”

    “The famous London detective?” Melanie’s eyebrows shot up.

    Katharine nodded.

    “I heard that you had stayed behind in London…some big fight with your parents…”

    “Yes, I’ve been working on this case with him since then.”

    “What case?”

    “The bombings throughout Europe…surely you heard what happened during a meeting of ambassadors in Paris last week?” Holmes asked.

    “My cousin and uncle were at that meeting…”

    “It was bombed and one of the business owners shot in the process.”

    “But Grayson and the ambassador were late, so they weren’t hurt,” Katharine hurried to say before Melanie could fear the worst for her cousin and uncle.

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