|SIYE Time:13:51 on 16th June 2021|
Sherlock Potter And The Red-Headed League
By Spenser Hemmingway
- Text Size +
Category: Alternate Universe, Crossing Over Challenge (2011-4), The Crossing Over Challenge (2011-4)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Crossover, Fluff, Humor
Story is Complete
Summary: *** Winner of Most Insane & Greatest Advance in the Field of Molecular Gastronomy in the Crossing Over Challenge ***
The famous Red-Headed League has returned! What deviltry are they up to this time. It’s up the great detective Sherlock Potter to ascertain the answer. Will it again be a robbery…a kidnapping…white slavery? Perhaps it involves one of the greatest crimes of all—a broken, lonely heart. Tally ho! The game is afoot!
Hitcount: Story Total: 3642
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
A tip of the hat, sincere thanks and profound apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, C.S. Lewis, the Oregon State University Beavers, actors Robert Young, Emma Watson, Mark Harmon, Hugh Laurie, George Clooney, Alexander Graham Bell, The Doctor, and the Royal Freedonian Muskrat Preservation Society.
Sherlock Potter and the Red-Headed League
…or How to Properly Grill a Freedonian Muskrat
By Spenser Hemmingway
“If you eliminate the alternatives, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”–-Sherlock Holmes
“Groan. I don’t feel so good suddenly. Luni, I don’t think your father likes me very much.”
“Oh, you’re just imagining things Spenser. Although…you might not want to use your special name for me in front of him again. He does react much the same way you do when anyone else uses it.”
“Really? How often does he fill a Slytherin’s pants with warm mashed potatoes? Uhm, maybe you’re right. I’ll only call you that when we’re alone, which…probably won’t be until we go back to Scotland if he has his way. I’m serious. Your father doesn’t like me. Why is it so hot in here all of a sudden?”
“Oh, now I know you’re being silly. You sound as if Daddy was being overprotective and intrusive. I really think he’s been going out of his way to respect our privacy.”
I opened my mouth to counter Luna’s argument, but immediately shut it again. We’ve been best friends since about two minutes after we met. Enough time had passed for us since then to where I’d learned the futility of trying to win an argument with her. Actually, I should say the near–futility. Pretending surrender, I raised my hands, but, at the same time, took a step to one side to the guest room’s wardrobe. In a blink, I grabbed the decorative door knob, jerked it open and then cocked my head to one side in victory as Xenophilius Lovegood tumbled out. Luna was actually surprised, which is a great rarity.
“Daddy? What are you doing in the wardrobe? Are you looking for your magical talking lion again?”
“Uhm…yes, I mean no, I mean…uhm… It’s not what it looks like! What does it look like? I mean…it all started when I went looking for my old beaver skin coat. Yeah, that’s right. I thought for sure that I was storing in here.”
“Don’t you remember Daddy? It escaped to the pond last winter, just after the Oregon State University bowl game. It was building a very nice dam there the last time I checked.
“Oh…yes…of course. How forgetful of me. I’d best go fetch it. I’ll no doubt have need of it in the chill of the evening tonight.”
“Sir, it’s August. Ouch…my head is really starting to hurt. I missed the O.S.U. bowl game? Go Beavs!”
The man just ignored me, but he gave his daughter an apologetic and somewhat embarrassed smile as he moved toward the door. It squeaked loudly as he pulled it open, and immediately any number of the creatures that the Lovegoods kept in their ancient castle-like home joined in a matching refrain. Pausing at the howls, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity or excuse for the man to collect his thoughts.
“Don’t forget Luna; Rolf promised that he’d Floo message you this evening. I really think that he’d like to…”
“I’m sorry Daddy. Please just tell him that I’ve decided to enter a convent…or maybe a roller derby school…whichever has the firmer beds.”
He didn’t have a chance to react before she quickly (and again noisily) shut the bedroom door on him.
“Who’s Rolf Luni?”
“Hmm…? Oh, he’s my fiancé. We’ve been engaged since I was two. Spenser, you don’t look very good. You have green spots on your forehead and smoke coming out of your ears.”
“He’s what? I don’t feel good.”
“I just said that. Spenser, you are really sweating now. You’re scaring me.”
“Your father…he tried to poison me. What do you mean you’re engaged?!”
“Daddy would never try to poison you. That’s just ridiculous. He much prefers sharp knives and his old guillotine Bessie. I really don’t understand this you know. I ate the same things you did at supper, and Daddy is absolutely brilliant at preparing Freedonian muskrat.
“That was muskrat? Belch! No wonder. Maybe we should have brought back some leftovers from the wedding yesterday.”
“That’s even more ridiculous. Leftovers from the Burrow? With six Weasley brothers?”
I really was feeling sick–-deathly ill in fact. It was getting worse with each passing moment. My stomach was turning, my head was swimming, and the room was filling with awful smelling ear smoke. I barely perceived Luna leading me over to the bed, removing my shoes, and then covering me with a light blanket.
I had first thought it wonderful when Mr. Lovegood invited me to stay at their house during the nearby wedding festivities. Now I knew the truth. He was out to kill me! He needed me out of the way so that Luna could run off with the Rolf dude! Actually, I felt like rolfing just then.
The Weasleys must have been in on it from the start as well! Of course, they had been! Mr. and Mrs. Weasley intentionally had six boys so that I wouldn’t have access to good food from the reception! They deliberately invited too many guests, so I wouldn’t be able to stay at their house with Harry, Hermione, and all of them! Hermione? Now there was a diabolical murderess if ever there was one! They were all trying to kill me! All of them were!
I was all alone against the lot of them! There was no one to help me. I had to get out of there! I felt someone holding me down on the bed, and I didn’t have the strength any longer to fight back. There’s no one to help me. Who can help me?
Clop, clop, clop.
“Excuse me sir, we’re here. Are you awake back there?”
Clop, clop, clop.
“Whoa there. Good job Ed old boy.”
I shook my head. It didn’t hurt. I don’t know why I expected it to. I didn’t mind, but I was surprised just the same–more so when I heard the second voice from outside my handsome cab.
“No problem Wilbur,” someone said, or rather neighed.
I shook my head again, fruitlessly trying to escape the mind fog that had settled there. I carefully climbed out of the carriage, and then moved forward to study the beautiful palomino hitched to it. What had I heard? The horse stared back at me for a second or two, nodded, and then winked at me.
“Did this horse speak to you a moment ago?” I managed to stammer.
“Well sir, it’s like this. A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course. That is of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.”
“Where are we? Wait one…Seamus? Seamus Finnigan? Is that you up there? What are you…?”
“It’s Post sir; Wilbur Post. Should you need another cab, I’d be more than pleased if you’d inquire for me over at Pall Mall again. Now here we are at 221B Baker Street sir. It’s the address you requested. Fare today comes to… Whoa, half a Crown? Well thank you sir!”
A tip of the cap, and he…Seamus, Wilbur, whoever…was gone. I didn’t think to ask him how much it would cost me to have him wait. I was too amazed that I had a large wallet full of old Muggle money, and that I was standing on an old London street. I do mean old too. I was on a movie set built up as 1880-something, but this wasn’t any film lot. I was there and then. Not only that, but with each passing second it felt more and more a normal experience for me. I was still curious, but not at all befuddled as you might expect.
My body seemed to float up to the building’s front door. I scarcely noticed when my knuckles went to rap on its well-varnished face. I didn’t get the chance as it unexpectedly opened allowing egress for someone else familiar to me. I should say remotely familiar. He was all dolled up in what had to be, even in those days, an extremely expense suit complete with spats, waistcoat, a heavy watch chain, and a tall silk hat. Holy smoke! I was dressed for the period as well, I finally noticed.
“Excuse me…Neville?” My addressing him caused the fellow to pause, but only for the briefest moment.
“I beg your pardon. My name, in actuality, is Mycroft Holmes. You are no doubt here to see my brother. Please excuse me.”
That was that. Neville was pulling a Percy Weasley in his current roll. I was instantly forgotten by the important bureaucrat. From what I remembered of the man from the books, however, he had long before earned such a formal distraction. Well, at least this Mycroft wasn’t obscenely fat.
Now I attempted and succeeded with delivering a good, strong knock, making use of an ugly door rapper which strongly resembled a Burundian kowtowing toady. A full minute passed before the door began to slowly open. I knew, without a doubt, that I had never been to this place before, but I also knew for certain that I was about to be greeted by an elderly, pleasant-faced landlady. I was wrong. Another friend had been enlisted into the cast.
“Luni?” I quietly began at seeing her there. “Hey, your hair is auburn. When did you…?”
“It’s been this color ever since the end of the last… Excuse me, may I help you? Are you here to see Mr. Holmes young man?” Opening the door wider, and motioning for me to follow her in, she must have assumed that was the case.
“Young man? I’m a year older than you.”
“Mrs. Hudson? Mrs. Hudson are these my morning appointments?” came a loud call from the top of the stairs. The entryway was dimly illuminated by gas lamps. The day’s bright sunlight had yet to find its way in through the door or front windows. Regardless, I knew the voice right away.
“Harry?” I whispered to myself. I somehow knew better than to stop playing along with whatever was happening. “Uhm, yes Mr. Holmes. I have an appointment with you I believe.” I hoped.
“Indeed? As does this young lady behind you.” Harry took two steps down the staircase. It was just enough to illuminate his face. It was Harry all right, glasses and all, but now in Victorian garb, with slicked back hair (which I wouldn’t have thought possible), and with requisite pipe protruding from his mouth. No, there were bubbles coming out of it. “While Doctor Watson does portray me as something of a miracle worker, even I rarely attempt multiple cases at the same time.”
I heard someone step up behind me, probably from the small entry parlor to my left. Finally, giving in to my curiosity, I turned to see who was trying to share my detective story.
“Ginny?” This time it was aloud.
“Actually sir, my name is Cyril Bahrking Doggwood.”
“You’re kidding,” Luna…I mean Mrs. Hudson and I said together. She, at least, was polite enough to be instantly embarrassed at our commenting about the name.
“You may call me Miss Doggwood good sir.”
Ginny wasn’t paying any attention to me any longer. Her eyes had met with Harry’s up there. Regardless of whichever reality they find themselves in, when those two get together it’s murder. Sorry, no pun intended. Both were grinning like the lovesick kids they are. Little cherubs were floating through the hallway playing romantic music on their tiny little electric guitars–harps are so sixteenth century. Flowers were bursting into bloom at the sight, which wasn’t easy since they were in the wallpaper pattern. If this had actually been Harry and Ginny instead of Sherlock Holmes and client, I could fill a few more pages with this romantic scene. As it was, at this point, all we had was a sickly sweet interlude in yet another unfolding adventure.
Holmes must have realized this as well. He broke eye contact, turned, and climbed back up the stairs to his apartment. A quick glance at Miss Doggwood showed me a now prim, proper, and yet apprehensive young lady in Ginny’s place. As Mrs. Hudson pointed us upstairs, I motioned for Cyril to go first, allowing me the necessary additional seconds I’d need to collect my thoughts.
Miss Doggwood and I were perhaps fifteen seconds behind Holmes as we moved up to his flat. It was long enough for him to fetch a beautiful violin from somewhere, and to commence an imitation of a Lithuanian raptor hen being strangled by an insane, polka-crazed house-elf. Harry was definitely no Sven Sigerson, and I cringed at the thought of Stradivarius spinning in his grave somewhere. The look on Ginny’s face, however, was one of poor delight at the sound. Love is not only blind apparently, but also quite deaf. Fortunately, Holmes selected a very short piece. I was feeling that long overdue headache coming on. The girl’s applause scarcely helped.
“Wonderful! That was so wonderful! Please play some more!” she asked with a sing-song voice.
“Excuse me. Did you say something Mr...?” Holmes was speaking to me, but again had eyes only for Cyril.
“Hemmingway, Spenser Hemmingway.”
“Oh yes, we received your letter. You’re the gentleman who shares my colleague’s literary agent–-that atrocious spiritualist Conan Doyle. The man actually believes in elves, pixies, and ghosts.”
“I’ll arrange for him to meet Dobby and Nearly Headless Nick sometime,” I said under my breath. I seemed to speaking that way quite a bit since I arrived…wherever I was.
“Well I’m sure that your problem is a simple one.”
“Mrs. Hudson’s father is trying to kill me with his grilled muskrat,” I corrected.
“Excuse me! Who is the detective here?” Holmes almost shouted back at me. He then reached into his coat pocket and attempted to retrieve an enormous magnifying glass…unsuccessfully. “Oh bother!”
Sherlock had obviously gotten the glass into his pocket at some point, but, at the moment, it looked as if it must have been sewn at original manufacture. Harry/Holmes tugged at the thing for at least a minute, even turning his back on us as he did so and grunting in frustration. At the end, Ginny/Cyril moved to help him as well, leveraging her effort with a knee dug into his side. Still no luck.
“Oh, for the love of… Watson, come here, I want you!” he finally called out. The side door was thrown open scarcely a heartbeat after the words left his mouth.
“For the hundredth time Holmes, I am not that Watson, and I do not want to purchase one of Mr. Bell’s telephone devices!”
Hermione? Oh, why not? She cut her hair short? Hmm?
“Doctor, would you be so kind as to help me extract my…”
“Doctor…? Doctor who?” Cyril Doggwood asked before I could.
“No, and it will be decades before London sees its first blue police call box. I’m Doctor Watson; Ph.D. in Literature, Brown University.”
“Your first name isn’t Emma by chance?” I had no idea why I asked her that.
“No, it’s Johnapheena. Father was hoping for a boy. Holmes, this is the third time in ten days that you’ve jammed that infernal… No, you put it in there, you get it out!”
Holmes just tucked his chin and gave her a puppy dog stare while Cyril continued to yank at the lens’ handle. I had no idea why neither of them had utilized magic to extract the thing. I took a brief moment then to confirm that I didn’t have a wand either.
“Oh, I give up!” Watson finally mumbled, slapping her forehead as she did.
Walking up to Holmes, she took up a modest set of shears as she passed the desk. A quick snip and the detective had yet another destroyed coat, but also a freed magnifying glass.
“Now Holmes…all of you…if you’ll excuse me. I’m off to Paris for a fashion photo shoot.”
“That is a lovely violet dress you’re wearing Doctor,” Miss Doggwood offered then. “I especially like the white lace trim at the neckline.”
“Thank you. You don’t think the hemline is too daring, do you? You can almost see my shoes. It really is a pity that color photographs won’t be invented until sometime in the twentieth century–-word processors and spell checkers as well. You have this chapter while I’m gone Hemmingway. Try not to write like an American.”
Hermione/Watson was out the door before I could object. Holmes was already looking me up and down with his glass. I couldn’t make out what he was mumbling, but it sounded condescending.
“Ah yes; just as I thought. It’s elementary. I observe that you were born in central Tasmania to circus performers. Your father was a left-handed fire juggler. Your mother was a human cannonball. You have sixteen older siblings, all sisters, who still enjoy playing dress up with you. Your grandfather was a Tibetan yak tamer. You own a blind parrot named Augustus, who frequently vomits in your sock drawer. You’ve been married and widowed four times, always to heavy-set women with excessive nose hair. You have one adult daughter who works in Nova Scotia as a fan fiction beta reader and part-time fish monger. You’re a recovering jellybean addict–-in and out of rehabilitation twice so far. Your favorite author is…yourself. Your favorite film, if such a thing had been invented yet, would be The New Jersey Chainsaw Massacre. Also, you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain, and the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne. Elementary!”
“That’s…incredible,” was all I could say. Almost all wrong, but still incredible. “What about Mr. Lovegood trying to poison me?”
“Hah! It’s all in your imagination. Who would utilize grilled muskrat when they own a perfectly good guillotine? Now Miss Doggwood, let us ring for some tea, and then proceed with your far more interesting case.
There were those smiles again. Sigh. Murder most foul will obviously never be able to compete with a pretty, be-freckled, brown-eyed redhead.
“I’ll begin with a little background Mr. Holmes. I am originally from Devon farm country, but these past few years I’ve resided here in London where I’ve been apprenticed to a dog walking firm, Leash Lovers, Ltd., established 1609, located at 449 Rover Road. The current proprietor’s name is Mr. Fido Kaynine. His wife’s name is Felicia, and, while she is a bit more of a cat person, they have a wonderful, loving marriage. I want you to know just how supportive they’ve been of me these past months since this matter first arose.”
“I completely understand. Hemmingway, are you getting all of this down?”
“Yes, but I’m not used to fountain pens. Would you happen to have a nice quill lying about somewhere?”
“Please proceed Miss Doggwood,” Holmes told her then, once again ignoring me.
“The problem arose perhaps a year ago actually. As you can no doubt see, I am an extremely plain-looking girl with absolutely no aspirations or expectations for future matrimony. Oh dear! Are you choking on your tea Mr. Holmes? Are you quite all right?”
“I’m…cough, cough…perfectly fine Miss Doggwood.” Actually, Harry’s eyes looked as if they were about to shoot out. His jaw had to hurt as much as mine when both of ours fell open at her words. “What did you say? A plain, unattractive spinster?”
“Alas it’s true good sir. The closest I’ve ever come to a boyfriend was an older pen pal named Beau Geste. He ended up joining the Foreign Legion to forget.”
“Forget what?” I quickly ventured before Holmes could bite.
“Uhm…I can’t remember. Girls are exceptionally rare in our family. I am the first in generations. You can imagine the collective disappointment when it became apparent that I was to be such an unsightly contribution to our clan. Mr. Holmes, it must be extremely painful to be slapping your face that way and rubbing your eyes so vigorously.”
“Now, as I was saying, I had very early on accepted my lot in life. I was actually looking forward to simple obscurity as a journeyman dog walker. It really is an old, well-established, and very noble profession I might add. Well naturally, with that mindset, the very last thing that I was expecting was a visit one morning from The Red-Headed League.”
“Ah, I read that story. They hired you to sit in a dark room copying down old encyclopedias. Meanwhile, they’re tunneling under the street to the bank where you… No, wait a minute. You don’t work in a… Ouch! Did you just Gibbs slap me Holmes?”
“Please shut up Hemmingway and restrict yourself to stenography. I’m sorry Miss Doggwood. Watson picked a most inopportune time to model her spring line of clothing.”
“What the League actually came to see me about was the prospect of a future marriage. Can you imagine? An ugly old hag like me with a willing husband? There you go with the tea again Mr. Holmes. Your housekeeper must be exceptionally patient with you for such a habit. Uhm…well, you can imagine how incredulous I was of what they told me. Skeptical yes, but maybe a tad bit hopeful as well, especially at the force of their words.”
“They came to see you more than once?” Harry was now leaning so far forward in his chair that I thought he would fall over onto her. “Was it always the same person visiting, or should I say persons?”
“Persons would be the more accurate as a rule. Initially it was the League’s leader, and then he would bring his wife with him. At various other times, other members would arrive on my doorstep, and it was somehow always when I was about to give up on their efforts.”
“So, marriage, if to the right person, is a good thing for you. What exactly is the problem? Ouch! Sorry boss.”
“Hemmingway, please keep quiet! I’m the detective here! So, marriage, if to the right person, is a good thing for you. What exactly is the problem?”
“They came to see me one last time on the day before yesterday. It has been arranged for me to visit their secret headquarters, far off from the city, and there to meet and marry my intended…this very afternoon.”
“What?” Holmes and I blurted out together. He didn’t slap me this time.
“I am ever so fearful Mr. Holmes. I would like you to escort me there with the hired coach they’re providing. I would like to call upon your wisdom and noble nature to look after me. I know that a million people must wed every day, but I am absolutely certain that none of them would endorse, let alone believe in love at first sight as I am being asked to do. Will…will you help me sir?”
I don’t think Harry/Holmes thought about it for two full seconds before he rose and started for the coat rack. The one light jacket there was appropriate to replace the torn one, but I went to stop his subsequent choice.
“Oh no, no, no Holmes. A deerstalker is definitely going to be out of place at a wedding. It’s fairly cliché as well, even for this fantasy I seem to be having here. It’s 1885…”
“It’s 1884 actually.” He did set the woolen cap down.
“It’s 1884 then. You can get away with a top hat, I think. Come on, let’s go. I just realized myself that I’ve been setting a personal record for wearing a tie.”
He grinned at me then. In his eyes, for the first time since it had all started, I saw a hint of Harry there.
“A slingshot Holmes? Is this the best you can do?”
“What were you expecting Hemmingway, a large Army service revolver?”
No, I guess that I shouldn’t have been. His Watson had never served in Afghanistan, and as no one I’d seen carried wands in this version, the best I could expect out of her might have been a hatpin.
The three of us had been fortunate to flag down Wilbur and Ed’s cab just outside of the Baker Street address, and therefore made excellent time back to Cyril’s flat for the rendezvous with the carriage. We were both a little apprehensive about not traveling together with her in the same buggy, and especially about the League member inside carriage declining to emerge and meet with Holmes and me beforehand. It was accurately argued, however, that it was less than appropriate for two gentlemen to be inside the coach as the girl changed into her gown en route. Wilbur was promised a very nice payday if he kept within twenty yards of them. This Red-Headed League might not be bank robbers this time, but we did have some doubts about their possibly being kidnappers.
The trip itself was pleasant enough, albeit long. Naturally, there were no cars then, and we were told there were no train stations either, at least within a reasonable distance to our destination. So, with the absence of magic, we were greatly reduced with the amount of horsepower at our disposal. Luck was with us in how it was dry, sunny, and with just the hint of a soft breeze sweeping the road. Two and a half hours brought us to…well, your guess was as good as mine. I’d been lost since the last bridge out of London.
“Mr. Holmes, there appears to be a small church just up ahead,” Wilbur called down. “More than a few wagons tethered around it. You’ll be wanting me to pull even closer now, won’t you?”
Holmes and I both poked our heads out to take a look at the fast-approaching building. Despite Ed’s best efforts, the other multi-horse team had pulled an extra thirty yards ahead, came to a stop and discharged Cyril and another hooded figure before we could catch up to them. Miss Doggwood didn’t so much as look back at us as she rushed into the church, literally slamming the door behind her.
Our cab hadn’t even completely stopped when Holmes himself was out and running up the steps with me immediately at his heels. We both paused for just a second when the horse called over to us that they would be waiting for their fare money out there. Holmes gave me a look of wide-eyed surprise which I could only answer with a sly grin. We threw ourselves against the doors then, still not knowing what to expect from the Red-Headed League inside. Without warning, just as our shoulders came in contact, the doors were pulled open causing us to sail forward to land face down on the floor. That was when everything became clear.
“I think we may be in trouble,” we somehow managed to say together. Understatement loves company.
“It’s hardly that,” Mycroft calmly told us. I, for one, didn’t want to trust either his words or upbeat mood.
There before us, all armed with Muggle firearms, was the famous Red-Headed League. More precisely, it was a league of red haired Weasleys. We’re not just talking the Burrow group either. Cousins, uncles, in-laws–-we must have had every blood relative in Great Britain on hand. What we had ourselves was a good old fashioned shotgun wedding. Holmes climbed to his feet first, and, as he helped me up then, I was amazed…flabbergasted to see the biggest smile growing across his face. It got even bigger when Cyril approached him, bouquet in hand. As Holmes stepped up to her, she averted her eyes, no doubt embarrassed at the deception.
“Just goes to show, a million people can be wrong. There is such a thing as love at first sight. It was that way with me Cyril. It just took me a few minutes to realize what my heart instantly knew. Yes, I did. It was…as if we’d had a first kiss in our school’s Common Room. Oh, and Cyril, about that hideously ugly spinster rubbish…”
Before he could finish, the two…everyone was laughing at her little joke, including Mycroft. No, I did not miss that the couple was acting just as if they were really Harry and Ginny again. I didn’t trust that the Weasleys all around us were the ones I personally knew, but there was Hermione off to one side with Ron, again with her longer hair, and holding a shovel which seemed to match the lump on this his head.
The Mr. Weasley we had been provided, the mysterious leader of the League approached, took Ginny’s arm, but waited until Holmes and best man Mycroft could move forward to join the minister up front.
The room went silent.
“Sherlock, we don’t have a ring,” I could barely hear him say up there.
“I do Mycroft. Here, hold it for me. I’ve been carrying it for quite a while now.”
“I don’t think that’s going to fit.”
“No worries. It will. This is Cyril.”
The beat up old organ began to play then. When Arthur Weasley’s character started forward with Miss Doggwood, I suddenly decided to retreat to the back. My head was hurting again, and the fog that had been enveloping my whole being all day was threatening to suffocate me. Pulling loose the antique tie that had forced onto me didn’t help in the least.
The whole scene was wrong I somehow realized. My Harry and Ginny were married on her birthday in a surprise (a different type of surprise) ceremony at the Burrow. What was this whole detective role-play about? All at once I was sweating, nauseous and grasping at some tiny speck of a memory that was right on the edge of my addled brain. I turned about and ran out the back of the church right into the waiting arms of still one more distant memory.
“Sorry. Wait! Who…who are you?” I barely got out.
“My name is Arthur Conan Doyle. I represent Doctor Watson and others at a certain London publishing house. I must say, you have clearly butchered his work today–-perhaps irreparably.”
“You…you’re responsible for all this aren’t you? You have white tendencies in your trousers, you blood literary agent!”
“I have what? What does that even mean exactly?”
“I have no idea. It’s my last bonus phrase. I needed to fit it into this story. I’ll tell you one thing though…”
I felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder from behind. I turned quick expecting…no, I wasn’t expecting George Clooney, thank you for asking, but there he stood. I pulled myself loose from his grip. That was when the real pain slammed into me–-right in the gut. It was as if the man had hit me with a sledge. I almost blacked out from it.
“The name is Scamander, Rolf Scamander. I believe that you’ve been making inappropriate advances toward my fiancée Loony Lovegood.”
No one calls her that but me, and I spell it L-u-n-i! I didn’t bother with the warm mashed potatoes. Something was in my hand then. It was cold, and it was heavy. I didn’t realize what it was until I had hit Rolf two or three times. It was a frozen muskrat! What were the odds? What were the odds of anything I’d been experiencing? I didn’t care. I just kept beating and beating the man with the dead rodent. I kept beating him until he lay on the ground, a black and blue mess; beating him until my arm gave out and the world went dark all around me. The last thing I remember was Ginny’s voice and somebody shaking me.
“Healer House, he’s waking up sir.” It was Ginny’s voice. It seemed to move closer to me as I drifted back. “You were right. The anti-venom potion did cause convulsions at the end.”
“Oh darn. I was hoping for the chance to use my cane to beat out of him what little life was left! You’ve spoiled my fun!”
I somehow managed to pry my eyes open. There, limping up to me, was an unshaven and somewhat familiar man with a Muggle stethoscope draped over his shoulder. He gave me a quick once over, snorted at me, and then wandered off again the way he’d come. This time he was slowly twirling his cane instead of leaning into it.
“Maybe I can publish a medical paper on my great and miraculous advance in molecular gastronomy.” The Healer was gone then. Ginny must have seen my confusion.
“He’s an old friend of Dad’s. They worked together with a Dalmatian breeder named Deville when they were younger. The Healer discovered that you were poisoned Spenser…in a way.”
“I told Luna that her dad didn’t like me. What do you mean in a way?”
“I’ll let her explain. I think he’s ready to talk now Luna.”
First, she poked her head in through the door. Then she took a tentative step forward to study my face. The girl looked very tired. So did Ginny, for that matter. Luna came all the way forward and gave me a quick kiss on the forehead.
“That is a very pleasant way to check for a temperature.” I could just smile and nod back. “Daddy is very sorry that he poisoned you Spenser. Of course, you should have told us how you’re so very allergic to the chisel briar root he used in the basting sauce.”
“Ah, that explains a few things. How long was I out?”
“Almost two days,” Ginny answered for her.
“I glad you’re blond again Luni.” Not even a hint of a reaction. “Tell me about Rolf.”
“Maybe I will someday. I had a very, very long talk with Daddy yesterday. He’s going to respect our privacy now. He already respects me enough to let me choose my own boyfriend. I had a very, very short talk with Rolf. We are no longer engaged. We never were as far as I’m concerned.”
“Good.” I closed my eyes again. “Tell me this at least, does he look anything like the actor George Clooney?” My eyes were open wide again when I heard Luna choking on her laughter.
“Not in our reality he certainly isn’t,” she managed to say between fits of giggling.
Luna gave me another quick kiss, and not to the forehead. She was laughing again all out as she skipped off into the hallway. Harry gave her an amused look as he passed her, coming into the room.
“Back among the living again?” he asked. “No doubt ready for another barbeque I’ll wager. You know you scared everyone a bit.”
“Sorry folks, and we’ll do some ribs and chicken once you’re back from your honeymoon. I’ll make the sauce this time though. Thanks for helping watch over me Ginny. Uhm…hey when I was out, I had this really strange dream or something. You like Sherlock Holmes, don’t you?”
“Both of us do. Harry and I just finished a very nice illustrated edition of the stories. It…gave us another excuse to curl up together when we read it.”
“As if we need an excuse,” Harry said, lowering his chin to Ginny’s shoulder from behind, and eliciting a smile from her. “Why do you ask about Holmes?”
“Does the name Cyril Doggwood mean anything to either of you?”
“Who?” Ginny straightened up too suddenly, bumping Harry’s chin. “Cyril Bahrking Doggwood?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She was in my weird dream.”
“That’s impossible Spenser. Cyril was a great, great…great aunt or something on my father’s side. Family tradition says that she died a far too young and very lonely spinster. I have no idea why I would know about her. Neither Mum nor Great Aunt Tessie has ever discussed her that I recall. They probably wouldn’t since she was a Squib. It’s inconceivable that you would know her.”
“That can’t be right Ginny. She was a professional dog walker in London. The company was Leash Lovers, Ltd., established 1609.” Ginny whipped around to look at Harry, and I imagined her expression matched mine just then. “You or someone must have mentioned her to me.”
I could see, even with her back to me, Ginny barely shaking her head no. That was when the thought popped into my head. I smiled again at it, and then laughed.
“Ho, ho! So, the game really was afoot after all.” Harry and Ginny were looking at me then to see if I was either growing another head or merely delirious again. “Good buddies, if we can have a universe here where Rolf doesn’t get the girl, maybe we can conceive of another reality where young Cyril does get the guy…with a little help from some red-haired Baker Street Irregulars.”
“What do you…?” Ginny began for them both.
“Harry, have you ever considered violin lessons?” I asked instead.
Mischief managed Moriarty!
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