The Case of the Blown-Up Cottage

Part 6

by Cyberwolf (wolf at mydestiny.net)
8/24/02

With the help of a bottle of milk (from the bag of baby supplies Grayson had given them - he wasn't totally heartless) Henry had fallen asleep on Holmes' shoulder. Holmes, who was forced to remain unmoving or risk waking up the baby, dozed off as well. Willis busied himself with a magazine; Lestrade gazed out the window at the countryside whipping past.
Several minutes later, Willis looked up from his copy of Time magazine. "We're here," he commented, looking out the window at the train-station now looming in the foreground. Lestrade turned to wake up Holmes, but found that the change in velocity had done that for her. Holmes yawned slightly, and then was instantly and totally awake and aware of his surroundings - a trait Lestrade envied slightly. She sort of wished she could have dozed off during the train ride, but Wilkins' coffee had done its job too well.
They exited the train, following Willis to an old-fashioned groundcar driven by someone whom Lestrade thought was a lower- ranking agent. Maybe a newbie. She'd had to do errands of the sort a lot when she was just starting out in the Yard herself...
The ride to the explosion site was short and quiet. Willis professed no prior knowledge of the accident - this was his first time here, he'd only read reports - and none of them felt like small talk. Henry continued to slumber peacefully on Holmes' shoulder, stirring only slightly when Holmes shifted him to his other arm.
As they drove, Lestrade couldn't help but notice the absolutely deserted nature of the town. Shops were closed and boarded up. There was a somewhat eerie lack of people on the streets. Even the houses - old-fashioned, the lot of them, exactly as how Willis had described them: "Like stepping out of the twentieth century!" - were dark and silent. True, Godric's Hollow was a small town, so total evacuation couldn't have been as hard as, say, a busier village in one of the shires nearer New London, but still...
They were nearly on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow by the time the car came to a stop. As the detectives and agent climbed out, Lestrade gaped at the sheer size of the crater. It was easily ten feet deep - enough that the agents swarming over the site had to use a ladder to get in and out - and nearly ten times that in diameter. And Grayson said this had once been a hill?
Chunks of stone littered the torn-up earth at the bottom of the crater, as well as red roofing tiles. Lestrade even thought she could see the battered figure of a small stuffed...something...near the edge of the crater.
They all three began walking towards the pit, careful to stay out of the line of sight of the various photographers busily recording the scene. Willis, flashing his M15 ID to get them past the security checkpoint, clambered down the ladder first. Lestrade was about to follow him when a wail caught her attention. She turned to see that Henry had awakened and was busily crying his eyes out - not the loud screaming he'd done in the Yard, but a shriller, more terrified cry - as of a very young child caught in the grip of a nightmare.
What was surprising was that Holmes himself had gone rather pale. He was surveying the crater with a mixture of horror and recognition in his eyes. When something affected Sherlock Holmes enough that he showed it, you KNEW it was serious.
"Holmes?" Lestrade asked cautiously. What the hell did he know? Why was he reacting like that?
Without looking at Lestrade, Holmes thrust the still-crying Henry into her arms. "Hold him," he said tersely, and disappeared down the ladder.
"Holmes!" Lestrade yelled, suddenly finding herself overwhelmed with twenty pounds of terrified baby. Still holding Henry, whose crying was beginning to make her ears hurt, she carefully negotiated her way down. She saw Willis and Holmes in intent discussion near the center of the crater, where a large piece of what had probably once been part of a cottage wall stuck up from the earth.
"Holmes!"
Yeesh. I meant to write more, but there's a storm outside right now. I'm scared of the lightning shorting out my PC, so see ya in a bit.
Luckily, the rain's stopped. Here's what was supposed to be part of chapter 6.
Holmes and Willis turned at her shout. Lestrade strode towards them, stepping carefully to compensate for the uneveness of the ground and the rubble that littered it. Henry was going crazy. He was beginning to hyperventilate, something Lestrade had never seen a baby do, and his wails had become hysterical sobbing.
Somewhat surprisingly, Holmes reached for Henry as soon as Lestrade was near enough. The baby latched onto him, wrapping chubby arms around the detective's neck. Lestrade didn't know if it was because Henry burying his face in Holmes' shoulder was having a muffling effect, or if the baby was really calming down, but the volume of the sobbing decreased.
Willis was looking at Lestrade with a calculating, analyzing look that had been absent in his pale gray eyes earlier. "Does she know?" he asked Holmes - somehow, in that one sentence, revealing a manner more brisk than before.
"No," Holmes answered, one hand stroking Henry's back absently. Lestrade, to her surprise, felt a flash of hurt. Holmes and this Willis guy were both 'in the know'. And she wasn't. She was used to being somewhat left out of the loop - Holmes' mind worked too quickly to keep up with - but Holmes usually brought her in sooner or later. Now, left foundering - and Willis, apparently, not in the same condition - she was surprised to find herself feeling...abandoned.
She shook her head. What was wrong with her?!
Willis was talking to Holmes. "Well, if you're one, then you have got to be involved with this. I mean to meet up with some Aurors from the Ministry - they were to have Obliviated you and the Inspector, and I would have continued the investigation joint with them." He grinned. "I'm rather glad that I'll get to work with you after all. I was trying to get them to agree on letting you know...but...."
He turned to Lestrade, who was frowning in thought. Aurors? What Ministry? She thought he was MI5...and what was this obliviating? She wondered if she should pick up her ioniser....
"No," Holmes told Willis in a firm tone. "If I go, so does Inspector Lestrade. I'll vouch for her trustworthiness."
Willis looked at him. "Well...okay, I guess it can't really hurt. They've been needing a liaison inside the Yard, anyway...."
Lestrade was getting really confused. She was soon to go from confused to full-blown goggly.

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