Relentless Past

Part 3

by Liz de Jong (corellian_whiskey at hotmail.com)

Pieces of a long forgotten puzzle suddenly came into half-view, as though Liz were chasing them through the deep London fog but could not quite catch them, yet could still see them ahead, taunting her.

She stood and began to pace the wooden floors, hands clasped behind her back, eyes focused on nothing. Memories raced furiously in and out of her mind.

Liz turned to face Holmes, about to ask him if he knew anything more, when a heart-stopping crash, followed by the shattering of glass, filled the air. It had come from the front room, where her Tarot shop was.

Leaping to his feet, Holmes dashed in front of Liz, cut her off, and headed into the room himself, effectively blocking the door and keeping Liz from any further preventable harm. He had already caused enough pain.

From the tenseness she sensed from Holmes and his reluctance to move from the doorway, Liz knew things were not good. She began to push her way into the doorframe as well, panic lending her momentary strength. That strength was again totally drained from her when she finally made it past Holmes.

Liz was immeadiately aware of the smell of smoke, the bright orange of flames, and the wave of heat that all washed over her as she pushed past the protective barrier that Holmes had provided. She stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes widening to an almost comical size, her mouth hanging agape at the sight. Her livelihood was on fire.

More by instinct than anything else, she dashed forward towards the round table she and Holmes had occupied earlier, not even noticing the flames now licking the edges of the silk cloth draped over its surface with obvious intent. She had to recover her cards.

"No!" Holmes yelled, spotting her tense and then fly into the flaming room. What is she doing? he pondered angrily to himself, dashing forward quickly after her, and grabbing hold of her to stop her foolishness. No cards are worth a life.

He staggered backwards in surprise when she retaliated with a great two-handed thrust to his gut, only barely resisting the urge to bend double in pain. Horrified, he saw her stop in the middle of the flaming room, having finally noticed that her cards were now at a total loss. But instead of turning back, she quickly ran off in the other direction, grabbing for a relic Holmes had not noticed before, as it had been tucked between two bookshelves.

He grabbed her again, only just as her hand closed around what she had risked her life for the second time, and physically dragged her back through the doorframe, which was by now also engulfed in flames.

"This entire house will be up in smoke, and we with it, if we don't hurry!" he shouted into her ear, over the roaring of the flames, which were now consuming the dry floorboards like they were candy.

Liz nodded once, and, with a sob, stopped fighting and started running. Holmes was close behind, also heading for the only other door out. But when they reached it, he pulled her hand back from the doorknob quickly.

"Look... smoke from under the door. Someone has started a fire on the outside."

Just as he finished his warning, another loud crack was heard, as parts of the ceiling let go where the flames had licked away their moorings. One large beam cracked Holmes right across his back, sending him sprawling across the floor with a pained yelp. He did, however, manage to avoid being trapped under it only narrowly, and stood again, rather shakily.

Liz ran to his side and immeadiately threw his arm over her shoulder.

"Lean on me... there is still one way out." she instructed him, and, much to her surprise, he did. She had half expected him to resist as she had, to be too proud for help. She was wrong.

Gaining speed with each step, they approached the long bay windows of her living room, and, with a leap, put their shoulders to the glass, bursting through. They landed rather roughly amid shattered glass on the other side, the soft ground providing slight breakage of their fall.

Holmes leapt to his feet, intending on chasing after whomever had started this, but fell to his knees again, coughing loudly. He swore to himself several times, cursing his lack of immunity to smoke. He also cursed the route he had taken on this case... his slowness had almost gotten Liz, and himself, killed.

Liz, however, stayed on her back on the grass, eyes closed, hands gripped tightly around what had nearly cost both their lives. She wondered if it were really worth it, and felt immediately terrible for what she had done.

Holmes knelt next to her, and she opened her eyes. Much to his relief, she had only been resting. This relief, however, he did not show... a stern look crossed his face.

"What on earth could have possibly been so important?" he demanded of her, in a not-so-characteristic outburst. Liz flinched, and he was immediately sorry. This was, after all, a great deal his fault.

Liz handed him the object in question, which he was really seeing clearly for the first time. An odd look crossed his face, then.

"I... came accross it when I was searching for some of my favorite old books, from back home. I liked it at the time, and bought it for a mere pittance. I thought it was just a regular old relic... but then I saw the name carved into it." Liz explained quickly.

Holmes turned the violin over and over in his hands, shaking his head in disbelief. He had searched for it himself, but had never found it... never even dared to dream that it would still be in such good condition. He continued to shake his head and stare at it for quite some time.

This was what she had risked her life for. Such a trivial thing, and yet it meant so much. With a shaky hand, he took the bow from the case, tightened the hairs accross it, and began to play.

The sound it evoked was nothing like any violinist she had ever heard, Liz thought dully, as Holmes ironically played a tune of reunion that was sad, yet sweet. The notes soared high, and sung low, his fingers remembering the pattern as though it were only yesterday that he had performed it for Watson upon his return from his long absence.

He played on for quite some time, and Liz couldn't help but smile, even with the dull crackling of the fire behind her, and of the high screaming of the sirens now nearby... I have never seen anyone so happy as he is now. Perhaps... perhaps it was worth the loss of my home for the return of his happiness, she thought, still watching in silence. Perhaps, by bringing home closer to his heart, I have brought it closer to my heart, as well.

On to Part 4!

Back to Part 2.

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