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Of Dubious and Questionable Memory - 5/?

E-Mail: diandrahollman@gmail.com
Website: http://diandrahollman.neocities.org
LJ: http://diandrahollman.livejournal.com
Rating: R for this chapter
Keywords: Sherlock/OMC, Tom Hiddleston fancast, unrequited John/Sherlock, drugs, slash, Sherlock POV
Spoilers: nothing past season 3
Disclaimer: This started out as a sort of "50 First Dates" Johnlock story and morphed into this psychological "Girl on the Train"/"Before I Go To Sleep" fusion-ish thing. The characters are all from BBC Sherlock, except Henry.
Summary: Every day I wake up not remembering how I got here or who this man is who claims he's my husband. I cannot trust my own memory. There is only one thing of which I am reasonably certain: John Watson is dead. Isn't he?
Dedication: Thank you to Kate, Emilio and gin200168 for their invaluable help and support with this story.
Author's Notes: Henry is an amalgam of several characters from ACD cannon, with an original modern spin. In my little headcannon he is played by Tom Hiddleston. The title is from the story "A Scandal in Bohemia", where it refers to Irene Adler.

This diverges from cannon immediately after the beginning of season 4 and doesn't take into account anything after "Abominable Bride".

All previous chapters here or on AO3

Lillian is an attractive, though average looking, woman with dark hair and Celtic features. Her husband, according to my notes, is a moderately powerful businessman, which is why she can afford to work freelance. She does crime scene sketches for the police and consults on archeological research at the University of Liverpool, which makes her potentially less boring than I initially thought. Recently, it seems, I helped her determine a cause of death on a 16th century skull she was reconstructing.

Even though she knows I don't really remember her, she greets me with a warm embrace and settles easily into the sitting room sofa as if she has done this before. She asks how I am with more than the usual perfunctory manner, as if she is genuinely concerned. At first, I assume this is due to my condition - as she put it - but the alarm in her eyes when I hand her the cup of tea and she spots the faint bruises on my wrists suggests otherwise. I set this observation aside for the moment to address her purpose for visiting.

"You'll understand, of course, if I don't remember hiring you."

"Oh, this wasn't really a job. More of a favor for a neighbor. You told me you doubted your hive will ever produce enough to actually sell at the market, but in case it ever does you wanted to have a brand and a label." She draws a sketch and a sheet of sticky labels from her carrier bag and lays them on the coffee table. "You were very specific in your description of how it should look, but I may have taken minor liberties with some of the details. Softened her features, mostly. Don't want to frighten the children."

I pick up the sketch, which features a friendly-looking, though not overly cartoonish, queen bee with an ornate crown perched on her head. A dotted line suggests her flight path around and through the stylized letters of the brand name I apparently chose.

Above Board.

I think of the words I read in my journal this morning. My discussion with John. 'Ever since the Queen went above board.' This cannot be a coincidence, but I'm not sure what the significance of it is yet. It's as if I'm leaving clues for myself, but I'm not sure what puzzle they are meant to solve.

This reminds me of a question that nagged me earlier. "Did the hive come with the house?"

"Yes. It was one of the features you liked best about it. Your...husband thought it would give you something to do."

I set the sketch down. "You don't like Henry. Is it because he reminds you of a former lover?"

She blinks at me, her mouth working impotently, startled.

"Or a family member, perhaps? You are obviously concerned for my safety. You think he's violent."

I can tell her first instinct is to deny my observation. But she is smart enough to see the folly in that. She sets her cup down on the table. "Not violent, exactly. He's...volatile. Unpredictable."

"Have you seen any evidence he has tried to hurt me?"

She eyes my wrists before hesitantly saying. "I can't prove anything, but...two months ago someone gave you a black eye. You didn't remember how you got it."

"According to my notes, I got it in an argument with the neighbor." I point in the direction of the house opposite the one Lillian resides in.

She makes a disbelieving noise. "Bob? I admit I don't know him very well. He's always working. But I doubt he would hurt a fly."

"Forgive me. I'm not accusing you of anything. I believe you. I'm just trying to understand."

Her eyes soften with that look of sympathy. "That's what concerns me. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm afraid you wouldn't know if I'm not."

I sit back in my chair and press my steepled fingers to my lips, contemplating her.

She sighs. "I know we haven't known each other for long and you feel like you barely know me at all, but I want you to know that I care about you and I am here for you. If you need anything, you have my number."

A relative or a friend. Something happened to them and she regrets not having seen the signs earlier. She's afraid of making the same mistake again. But she's wrong. At least partly. Henry may be volatile, but he isn't a danger to *me*.

'You're MINE.'

Obviously he is possessive. But that is the sort of impassioned declaration that would come from an overdramatic lover. Even if it does suggest something darker, it suggests the sort of person who would destroy anyone who threatened me or his claim over me.

The sort of person who would never tolerate a neighbor punching me in the face.

"Did you see Bob after the alleged fight? Did he have bruises?"

Lillian shakes her head. "As I said, I don't see him much, but I don't think so." She finishes her tea and sets the cup on the tea tray. "I have a new job I've got to get to." She stands, straightens her clothes and bends to kiss my cheek. "Take care of yourself, Will," she murmurs.

I make a vague noise of acknowledgement as she shows herself out.


I wash Lillian's cup and leave it to dry in the sink. Then I locate the coat that must be mine and go out to the garden to get a better look at the hive.

It is a standard wood box hive with a reflective cover. I walk around it, listening to the hum of a healthy colony while I consider all the clues that I have left that seem to be leading me here.

When the Queen goes above board.

Crown Royale.


I locate my beekeeping equipment in the small shed near the hive. If I'm right, there's very little chance of being stung as I wouldn't need to open the hive fully, but it wouldn't hurt to at least wear gloves.

I hesitate when I spot the smoker and remember another detail from my notes. Molly with a cigarette. John with a pipe. Smoke curling from Mrs. Hudson's stove and the fire Moriarty was tending. I peer inside the smoker and find a single, crumpled piece of paper. I unravel it carefully. It has a drawing similar to the one in Lillian's sketch, only this one is rougher with a more realistic looking bee. Beneath it, in my handwriting, are John's words from my journal in the form of a quotation.

"When the queen goes Above Board." - John H. Watson

I return the paper to the smoker, grab my gloves and approach the hive, moving slowly and carefully so I don't disturb the bees that have ventured outside the box. I lift the top cover gently, only moving as much as I absolutely have to, and find the memory stick sitting innocuously on top of the inner cover - the crown board.

"Thank you, John," I murmur, even though I know he didn't really have anything to do with it. In all likelihood, my encounter with him in my mind palace never really happened. I invented it because I knew if I thought the words were coming from John I would understand their significance. I would listen to him and trust him. As I always had.



November 2017

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