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The Healer - (1/?)

I guess now is as good a time as any to start posting this one.

E-Mail: diandrahollman@gmail.com
Website: http://diandrahollman.neocities.org
Rating: R for now, NC-17 for later, hopefully
Keywords: AU, John/Sherlock, past John/Mary, John is a widower, Baby Watson, hurt/comfort, magic!John, healer!John, evil!Moriarty, hurt Sherlock, torture, mentions of rape, captivity, emotional blackmail, suggestions of period homophobia
Spoilers: What are those again?
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Arthur Conan Doyle, specific iterations of them belong to the BBC and the "Sherlock" team. The plot is based on my memory of a romance novel I read years ago but can't seem to find now. If anyone recognizes it, let me know so I can give proper credit.
Summary: Sherlock is being held captive by the sadistic Lord Moriarty. John, an Empath, is Lord Moriarty's personal physician (and, effectively, also a captive). When they meet, they might just find the courage to break each other out.
Dedication: To my friends and this lovely fandom for all of their encouragement and support.
Author's Notes: I have never written a historical story before. I don't have an exact date for when this is taking place, but it's at least a hundred years before Doyle's original stories in a sort of alternate universe where some people have magical powers (though many probably don't advertise it for fear of being declared a witch).

The Healer
By Diandra Hollman


It was after one of his men foolishly went too far in his "disciplining" of me that Lord Moriarty first sent for the Healer. I awaited his arrival in a cell that was not my own - I recognized this despite the black cloth sack over my head, the only cloth covering I was allowed although it did nothing to protect my modesty. Not that I had much to begin with. The presence of the hood and the need for a different cell suggested a need for anonymity that intrigued me - or would have had I not been distracted by the pain of my injuries. I writhed helplessly on my stomach, pulling against the shackles that kept me in place, biting the cloth gag in my mouth as my movements did nothing but increase the burning in the bloody lashes crossing my back. I knew I should remain still, but my mind's superior reasoning skills were hardly in full form at that moment.

I was startled from the painful reverie that had become my entire existence when the heavy metal door of the cell opened. I focused on the sound of the footsteps on the stone floor as the two men entered the cell. The sure footed one was no doubt the guard. The other was broken by the tap of the cane that supported him. The Healer was an old man?

No, I amended. He did not move with the shuffling steps of an infirm elder, but with the limp of one crippled by ailment or injury.

“Can’t you remove the shackles,” a soft, gently lilting voice asked.

The guard grunted. I did not need to see him to know he was likely shaking his head. I had tried to escape before. Lord Moriarty had no doubt made it clear that I was not to be trusted with even the smallest of freedoms.

The Healer made a noise that sounded disapproving. “May we at least have some privacy?”

The guard said nothing, but I heard him step out into the hallway before closing the metal door.

I listened as the Healer propped his cane against the wall and knelt beside me. He did not carry a medicine bag. Odd. Did he carry the tools of his trade in some other way or...

My thoughts scattered as cool hands lifted my own, fingers shorter than my own feeling along each delicate bone in my hands and wrists. I knew he was simply looking for damage, but it had been so long since anyone had touched me with such kindness that it brought tears to my eyes. I was grateful he couldn’t see that.

“I know you cannot speak,” he said quietly. “So I will ask you to squeeze my hands if you understand me.”

I squeezed his fingers as they slipped into my palms.

“Good. Your back is very badly lacerated. In order to treat you, I will have to touch it. Do you think you can bear it?”

I groaned at the thought. The gag turned the noise to a muffled whine. But I managed to squeeze his fingers.

He squeezed back. “I’m sorry. I will do my best to be gentle.”

His hands slipped from mine and he lifted my head, sliding something soft beneath it.

“Relax,” he instructed.

I felt his hands hover over the damaged skin, already soothing the heat emanating from the wounds. I wondered if I was already becoming ill with fever.

All thoughts fled my mind as his hands lowered and my entire being was consumed with the fiery pain. I screamed into the gag and clawed at the floor, mindless of anything but the need to get away from the source. But then, just as abruptly as it had begun, the pain vanished.

I flailed for a moment, my mind struggling to understand what my body was telling me, and I realized that the hands were preventing me from moving, holding me down firmly.

“Calm,” he soothed, his voice tight. “Easy. Just...stay still.”

I forced myself to still beneath his hands, my mind returning to its former clarity as I felt them move down my back. It was as if they were simply brushing away the hurt in their wake, turning back the clock on my abuse and leaving me unblemished once again.

Oh. The realization came to me suddenly. This was why he carried no tools. He was more than a healer. He was some sort of sorcerer, able to summon healing powers without need of anything more than his hands.

My body went slack beneath his touch, a sigh caught behind the gag as he continued his reparations on my naked back. Now that my mind was clearing, I noticed a slight trembling in his fingers. I entertained the possibility that my initial analysis had been correct and he was old, but the trembling seemed to ease with the passing minutes.

The hands lingered longer than was necessary, tracing the ridges of my bones where they could be felt beneath the skin, gently kneading the muscles in my shoulders.

I bit back a whimper as the hands left me suddenly, feeling deprived of their warmth and kind intentions. I heard the healer's belabored efforts to stand, his cane scraping on the cell floor before finding purchase to support his weight.

"Thank you," I whispered into the gag, even though I knew he couldn't hear me.



November 2017

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