[identity profile] spacemutineer.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] acdholmesfest
Title: A Monograph on the Misfortune of Matrimony
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] saki101
Author: [livejournal.com profile] fyliwionvilyaer
Rating: R
Characters, including any pairing(s): Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, John Watson/Other, Charles Augustus Howell, Charles Augustus Milverton, Second Wife
Summary: Holmes returns from a case abroad to find Watson due to be married, but a rush to the altar and a question as to why leaves him to investigate the motive behind the sudden unrest.

I have nearly died on several occasions, although only once has Watson declined to pen the circumstances in one of his fanciful elocutions.

He had left me once more for the company of a wife, or rather, a wife-to-be, once summer was to come. A woman whom while she had some fair appearance, I could not fathom the cause for his sudden affection. We were comfortable in our rooms, and while occasionally a case may call me away for a time, I daresay Watson grew to welcome the respite from my company.

Indeed, we had become two established bachelors who dabbled in enough chaos through our work, without that thrown upon a household by the added addition of a wife. Why Watson should suddenly see the need to interfere? There was no logic I saw fit for the scenario.

Perhaps it was my own abandonment. As I said, cases had begun to draw me further from field, and Watson would frequently stay in London rather than travel along. His own injuries, especially in the colder months, would bar him from as many excursions as I would often be called on.

It was after one of these trips, recently into the new century, that I returned home to find this newest accessory upon his arm. Her eyes caught mine, and for a moment I had a flicker of recognition I could not place. When the precise location I may have met the woman did not come to mind, I pushed the thought away and found it entirely gone from my mind with the news my friend imparted.


The words flew from my tongue like a curse, and I am afraid from the onset there was to be little good will concerning this new arrangement. The shock undid me, for he had mentioned no paramour upon my leaving, and to have hurried such an engagement was not like him.

His first wife had proven acceptable, and it was in part my doing that they met at all. I had pushed Watson to provide her comfort, and given both youth and circumstances I foresaw quickly where such interactions might lead. Mary Morstan was both kind and understanding. I had felt a good deal of sympathy to hear of her passing, and remorse that I should not have been there for Watson in his time of need.

However, their courtship had been well over a year, and she was quite versed in what it would mean to marry my friend and colleague. This woman was a stranger, and an interloper whom I had been uninformed of.

I should think my shock was well warranted.

"Holmes you needn't be quite so rude. Emma was quite eager to meet you," Watson’s lips tightened in fervor at my outburst.

"Well given the lack of proper information, and that until a moment ago I was unaware you were even involved? You must excuse me if I allow myself a moment of disconcertion."

"We met when you were in Constantinople," he said shortly, slipping an arm around the rather handsome woman's waist.

She was as different from Mary Morstan as conceivably possible. Raven hair that fell straight where it was not braided, sharp green eyes that were framed with high cheekbones, and nearly his own height and stature. Furthermore, I rather suspected the woman had never dared to hear of the word demure. Not terrible things in a woman, but not the usual traits of interest to Watson.

"Indeed. Such a pleasure to finally meet you Mr. Holmes," Emma slipped out her hand awaiting some response from me that I repudiated.

"I was under the impression it was courteous to inform a good friend of such felicitations." My eyes flickered between them. There was more to this occasion than Watson was saying, but on those occasions he wished it, he could be as closed a book to me as any of the highest caliber of criminal.

She was hardly pregnant, so it could not be that, and Watson should never be so careless in his forays. Something else then.

I would investigate.

"Holmes," his tone was reprimanding, but I ignored him. I admit that I was hurt that he should have kept such a matter from me. It was no small trifle, but it would also mean he would be moving out and I would once more be alone. Distance may have mattered once, but a telegraph should have taken no time at all.

I suddenly felt a craving, like such I had not for a long while.

"Yes perhaps I am brusque, but not entirely uncalled for, Watson. I hadn't anything to give the slightest indication matters were so serious." I slipped into my chaise and resolved to first indulge in a pipe and than perhaps my solution.

Watson caught my mood and began to usher the woman away. How easily he could read me, and yet fail to give me such knowledge as that of an impending marriage.

"If you will not be civil company, than let us leave you to your mood. We have dinner arrangements as is, and while I had hoped you may join us I see that is now impossible," he said stiffly.

I caught a flicker of worry and disapproval in his eyes as he turned away. As well as his hand laying awkwardly upon her arm, with none of the care he had shown in his wooing of Mary. Yes, there was more at work here than a man under the influence of what some would call "love."

As he shut the door behind them, I retrieved my kit and let my mind go to work.

- -

I must admit, unfortunately, my own mood kept me from investigating immediately. There was a case Mycroft had wished me to look into, and I found that perhaps I indulged too much upon my own vices at my friend’s sudden betrayal.

Melancholia had come upon me, and it was a good two weeks before I was fully aware of myself once more, with the wedding date ever encroaching.

Meanwhile, Watson had taken care to keep her as far from our lodgings as possible. At the best of times I might be seen unfit for proper company, but with the mind storms I was nothing but a hindrance to him. Given our current situation, it was not entirely unwanted, although I found it problematic in searching for a solution to the circumstances surrounded his marriage.

Without the proper data, I was unable to begin to formulate anything but the vaguest of theories.

So with the date rushing towards me, time became the sudden villain in solving the case of Watson’s untimely wedding.

He would be the key. After all, he hadn’t shown any overly affectionate attributes of a man caught in the throes of passion.

I helped myself to Watson's papers, bills, and other items within his desk. He had left on an outing with his bride to be, and I had a good two hours before he was set to return.

Reading through them I was disappointed to find nothing condemning. They did prove he had sought to woo the woman, but nothing lavish that his finances would afford.

His room provided me no hints, although spoke that he had not brought her with him. Nothing indecorous then, and I had thought not, but I could not rule out any avenue given the mystery surrounding the impudent wedding.

As it was, I tore apart 221 B and found nothing that could be explain his sudden affliction, and it meant that anything else would be off premise. Not so simple as a matter of papers than, I would need to delve further.


"Well Wiggins?"

"Aye sir," said the boy shifting slightly. "We've done as ya asked, but nottin' come of it if I beg your pardon Mr. Holmes. I mean he just continues about like he has done, with nottin’ I feel like you’d account as suspicious like."

My fingers tapped along the desk as I watched the lads. Wiggins and two of the other boys stood looked rather abashed for something that was hardly an out of place request. They were, after all, given commands to always keep an eye out on Watson's doings, although it was rare I required them to report back his doings. Clearly they were uncomfortable about doing so.

I gave a huff of discontent and noticed Wiggin’s twisting his hat. He cleared his throat.

"Suppose there was a thing Tom mentioned."


"Ta. Tom mentioned twice he seen the Doctor droppin' off notices at the press, and then a separate telegraph that he didn't catch to who. The other two though? Those were engagement notices, them fancy ones. Tom slipped in and caught sight of them ‘fore they got sent off."

Useless. Given Watson's penchant for such things hardly out of the usual, "Sentimental nonsense. Not unlike him."

"True enough I suppose, Mr. Holmes. ‘Cept Tom said he didn't look like a man goin' to be married, druther he'd say he was attending a funeral by the way he handed them over. Looked bit... resigned you might say. And Tom, he said the Doctor went straight to his club afterwards and came out a bit the worse for wear several hours hence."

Now that was interesting. I had heard him come in inebriated and at a late hour, but I had relinquished the key to his wallet and therefore had not the opportunity to see what his gambling habit had taken him of late. He hadn't mentioned it, and as I did not physically see his state my data was inadequate. Watson had made himself scarce, and it was not unlike him to over imbibe on drink occasionally.

Still it was something.

"Thank you lads, that will be all." I tossed them each a shilling, and an extra for Wiggin's to pass along to Tom.

Mycroft's case would wait.

For now I would need focus on what blackmail Watson’s fiancee had procured him into matrimony.

And the far more trying reason of why.


The documents were in a protected within a folio of his newest case, hidden within sealed envelope, and kept in a deposit box at his club which, while more accessible than the bank, still difficult to procure unless you happen to be a consulting detective and known to the owner of the propriety.

That said, Watson was not pleased.

"Holmes, for God’s sake let it alone."

I had not informed him of the pages in my possession, and I suspected he would not listen to what I said. He was under the impression the woman was innocent, and it was happy circumstance she had provided the necessary resource that would protect him from whoever blackmailed him.

I have never believed in such a thing as a "coincidence."

Especially where a crime is involved.

"You needn’t stay if you do not wish, but I should think it for the best Watson. If I am wrong, than I am simply the most unamiable man in London, and your wife will have one more reason to hate me. If I am right, then you have been saved from an untimely matrimony, and we catch a criminal in the process."

He groaned, "You haven’t proof."

"I have enough proof. You’ve confirmed you have been blackmailed, and it is within your right not to share the circumstances. While I may accept your privacy, however unwarranted, I am not such a poor friend as to see you place your head upon a chopping block. I suggest you stay and listen. Should I be wrong, your wife to be need not be the wiser you were present."


"Watson, how many years now have you known me? Should you place your trust instead in a woman whose acquaintance you have barely shared for a year?" Again I felt a pang of injury at the implication, all the more by the contents of the letters.

Still, my feelings had no place in the matter, and giving into them would simply prove folly.

Something crossed his face, unreadable and dark, but then a hint of a smile, "Holmes, I should daresay you sound jealous."

I could feel the documents burning into my skin, tucked against the inner pocket of my coat.

"Injured, my dear boy. After all we have been through and now you should not seek my advice."

I could see the struggle and then a nod, "We will do it your way, but if you are wrong Emma shall not know. I would not wish her to be hurt by your callous disregard. She has been wronged enough in this situation, and I wish to do her right even if my own reasons are selfish."

A ridiculous notion, when the most selfish man in London sat across from him.

"My word Watson."


"Come in."

Her raven hair fluttered down her back in soft curls, and a tiny hat pinned against her forehead. Her eyes were momentarily startled, and then delight as she brushed her lush velvet gown.

"Oh! Mr. Holmes, how lovely! I was suppose to meet John- Did he step out then?"

I watched as she tilted her head the way as a cat might, just before nipping its prey. Her bright green eyes caught mine, and the farce was so poorly played now that I laughed to have not seen it before.

"Ah but you know he did not," I said as I folded my fingers in my lap and leaned back to observe her.

She was good. I admitted that much as she looked at me puzzled, "Why whatever could you mean? He said-"

I let out a slight cough to interrupt her needless banter, "You know, as well as I, it is the fourth of the month and our mutual friend has a standing luncheon with Michael Stamford. He rarely misses it, unless for a case or some matter of rather dire importance. All the more, he told me that himself an hour past when he left."

I allowed my eyes to linger on her face as I saw her lip twist in amusement. When she did not speak, I continued on.

"Meaning, of course, you wished to speak to me rather than him."

A sharp laugh tumbled from her lips, "Oh very good Mr. Holmes, how very good indeed. What else?"

"Should I reveal it all now? Or did you wish to share some yourself?"

Another laugh as she allowed herself to settle in the chair across from me, "By all means, please enlighten me."

"I know that you blackmailed him some time ago, and Watson is completely unaware of your duplicity on the matter. Rather, it seems to him like a well-timed match, and that you are both lovely and intelligent made it a rather easy decision for him to make."

The giggle that escaped her tugged at my memory. Again I found myself confronted with the knowledge I had met the woman before.

"Ta to that. Suppose that is to be taken as a compliment?"

"As much as I feel a would be murderess deserves one."

Again her lips twisted and she smiled at me darkly, "Do tell. There must be more if I am to be a murderess. What else did you happen to devise in my apparent scheme."

I knew I was missing something. Tracing her background had been difficult, and I had reached a confounding end at a governess job. I knew from the onset she had a passing resemblance to someone, but they had seemed unimportant in the scale of matters and I could not recollect to whom. I regretted the decision to clear our earlier meeting from my mind.

"Obviously revenge."

Again a laugh, "Obviously."

We sat in silence, watching each other from across the way, and I tried to fit the last piece. I cursed myself for not taken up Watson on his offer of dinner with the woman-- I found it likely would have proven useful in discerning her earlier on.

"Ah guvn’or, you really don’t recognize me do ya?"

The final piece slipped into place.


"Look at that! Speak a bit proper and put on a fancy dress and suddenly a man won't even recognize a woman he was engaged to, eh Escott?"

Watson may have called him Milverton in his stories, but there was little fantastical about the man who had been the man who had been Charles Augustus Howell. My only excuse is I had paid little attention to the mousey maid I had attached myself to at the home of the revolting criminal.

With the hair dye, the clothing, and this woman at least a stone less than the girl Agatha, I daresay her own mother would have never believed them to be the same.

"I should have thought you children with your paramour by this time," I said, working to hide my surprise at so well a concocted disguise. In the meanwhile, I continued to categorize her so I should not make the same mistake twice. "You seem to not have done badly for yourself, albeit differently than I had foreseen."

The look in her eyes had hardened, and there was little that remained of the attractive woman before. I had been assured of the maid’s other courter, and admittedly could not understand where I had gone wrong in my deductions.

"Now? Aye, though how many years it’s taken to drag meself up to this Mr. Holmes? No, my Arthur was as understanding as a man might be, but his understanding only went so far. Tis to be understood, I suppose, that while you high folk might be thinking of changing the names of Mister Howell or the Lady who did the bastard in, you wouldn't give half a farthing for us downstairs folk."

And so I saw.

"He did not take well to Watson's case."

"Bit of a laughing stock we were tain't it? Arthur's girl, taken for a fool by Sherlock Holmes? Just like that, I'm half ready to jump into any mans aren't I? And then of course with the big scandal concerning Master Howell? Who’s willing to hire such a maid? Aye, I ran him letters and may have eavesdropped for him on occasion, but the pay was good. There was enough scandal and dislike for him without your Doctor's case, but given half the populous as had read the thing not a soul in London would be willing to take me on." Her fists clenched tightly into her skirt.

"And your marriage-"

"Broken off and without a prospect in sight. Not a proper gel now am I? No matter I never cheated on me Arthur, you’ve gone and put it right in the print that I’m a trollop. A fiance and a husband made a laughingstock for every reader of The Strand? Ain’t a chance in all of London."

I felt a flash of pity for the woman. I admit, I had not given her half a thought. I had assuredly not expected the repercussions of Watson's writings, or that it might have been so popular that even her fiance would take poorly to it. I kept away from his stories, and did not think to inquire if he’d changed her name as well, though I suspect it would not have mattered. Circumstances would have lent themselves to their own assumptions.

That said, I could read her far easier as her carefully placed masks fell. The loss of weight, the added lines, and her carefully buttoned up demeanor all told me what was easy enough to surmise. There were few jobs for a woman without income, and left without reference on the streets of London.

"Aye. A whore Mr. Holmes. Not for long thank god, but left out on the street without a husband or a reference? I tried flower selling, begging, but I had few friends left after that bit of scandal, and not too many trusting the housemaid for what the authority on crime would call 'The worst man in London.'"

Still there was some missing. "A rather large climb from a prostitute to a governess..."

"Save a bit of money being a dolly don't you? Learn a few things too," she cleared her throat and when she spoke again I found myself smiling at the clear, educated tones.

"Howell liked his maids able to blend in with proper company. Of course we did as we were told, gathered bits of information and such, and learn to speak like those above our class. Reading was another quality he prefered among some of us, those he liked to transfer back and forth letters so we might be sure we gathered the right pieces of information for him. Once I managed to save a bit of coin whoring, I used what I had learned and started considering ways I might see you lot brought into place. Here you are, acting the hero and never a thought for us folk who get hurt in your path for justice. But I’ve read your methods, and what a better way then but to use them against you? I admit, Mr. Holmes, you were slower than I surmised."

I found myself smiling at her insult, "I can hardly utilize data I do not have. I was out of the country, and Watson did an admirable job hiding you."

She smiled at me, "Yes, and I had not though the Doctor would be prone to such martyrship. He does not do himself justice in his stories."

"Of course the blackmail was the first hint that should have told me where I saw your face before."

I watched as her eyes hardened, and her lips pursed into a thin line, "One learns a few things working for Charles Augustus Howell."

I brought out the documents I had procured earlier, unfurling the papers.

One was the typed headline, as to be sent to a publisher:

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Heroes of the Yard or Criminals themselves? Inversion under the eye of the law.

Next was a rather telling photograph of Watson and another man. A much younger Watson, before he had met Mary, and possibly before myself in a rather compromising position with another man at a club. Both wearing rather questionable carnations upon their lapels, and in a way that could hardly be construed as ‘just’ friendly given the location of the other man’s hand.

Then there was a copy of a telegraph, dated a few months back from a B.R.M:

We have missed you these past months and hope to see you back at the Club in short time. Your company has been missed, and I especially grow more jealous with every one of your new cases and this Holmes fellow so frequently mentioned. Have his affections then taken you away for good? If so I wish you both well, but otherwise I would be glad to see you.

Do call when you have the opportunity.

It might have meant nothing, but with the others it was enough to see a man put to hard labor for any number of years.

There were more, but that was enough. I watched her go livid at the documents. They had been easy enough to gather from her rooms, once I knew what I had been looking for.

"A clever ruse. How you gathered the true evidence here I can only begin to surmise, and quite the effort as well. Of course the subterfuge concerning our relationship was necessary so that he felt the need to search for an immediate solution. I trust you made certain to place yourself in a position that you would already be friendly with Watson when he was suddenly faced with the necessity of disapproving these rumours? Of course, most easily done by a rather public second marriage."

"Of course. A widower, sympathetic and interesting. His preferences are easily enough found from his writing, and he is rather accessible when one begins to search him out. A few dropped hints at a marriage of convenience when the time was right, and with the addition of your missing proximity at the time...."

"You had him where you wanted, and the ability to gain private access to me."


It came as no shock to me as she pulled a small derringer from under her velvet gown. I had expected this, more than anything, and it was only that it took her so long that took me by any small amount of surprise.

"You will see me dead and not simply ruined?"

She laughed, "You do not understand Mr. Holmes. I care not a whit for you or your reputation. Yes you played a rather leading role in my ruin, but it was your Watson's carelessness that led to the creature I am now. You are, after all, a detective, and Charles Howell was as foul a man as you say. You needed my cooperation, and I was idiotic enough to fall for your duplicity. Only Watson's complete disregard is at fault, and how better to watch it play-out as one of your cases with neither of you the wiser?"

I tsked shaking my head, "Ah my dear Agatha, and here is your mistake. While I did not have all the facts, I did have enough."

She paused, and Watson stepped out from behind the curtain, causing her to turn. "No!" she cried out as he grabbed for her. She drew the trigger, keeping it steady on me as her eyes held onto him, "I’ll kill him! Don’t ya dare try me, ‘cause I will if you take another step forward."

I coughed, remaining calm as I shifted my expression to Watson’s. I could see his brow furrow as he shook his head, "I am sorry for what pain I caused you, but please… Em-- Agatha. It hardly warrants an innocent man’s murder." His own gun was raised, but the conflict was in his eyes.

"Sorry? Bit late for that isn’t it?" Her hand was steady, and I prepared myself for the impact. "Funny, that it should end the way it began is it not? Like your Lady Brackwell?"

"Agatha," he said taking a step forward.

"Don’t you dare," this time I saw her hand move an inch and she swerved the gun to point at him instead. "Not a step closer you."

It gave me the moment I needed. Just as I saw her hand begin to release, I rose and brought down the folio upon her head. She let out a cry, and John moved as the shot went wide. She crumpled, and Watson moved to catch her before she hit the ground.

Silence descended upon the room, Watson lifting the woman and settling her on a chaise, first checking for serious injury, than for other weapons. Meanwhile my eyes flickered between them, taking in Watson's relief as he reached for a length of rope to carefully tie her wrists.

"We have a few minutes before we need ring the Yard to apprehend the good lady," I said nodding for him to take a seat. "Are you alright my dear boy?"

Watson looked pale, "What shall we do should she tell them her blackmail?"

"Then we will refute it as nonsense, and explain her connections to Howell. You have proof of every intention of marriage, and the Yard shall be in your favor. I have already burgled her rooms, once she’s taken we will light a fire and see them burned. On the morrow we shall send in a case to be published, carefully mentioning your second wife. A thing need not be true for it to be accepted at fact. How frequently do you embellish your cases without all the evidence?"


I looked away and then stood moving to the window, "Why did you not come to me first Watson?"

I heard him laugh, a tight, bitter sound that reverberated through the room. "And say what Holmes?"

He would not meet my eye, and when I did not reply he continued on, "I am what she says, an invert, although of the type that enjoys a woman's company as well. You hold the proof in your hands, and I could not fathom what you might think of such things. I did not wish to drag you down when you had nothing to do with the matter, and if the scandal was printed you would be brought into the matter with me, though you had no part of it."

I turned and shook my head, "No part?"

"A fabricated part at best. I had the matter under control."

My eyes flickered back to the woman, her breathing was slow and she was still unconscious and would be for a long while. I stepped across the room and reached for his Watson, "And how much was fabricated Watson? There is some truth in it, to make it such a palatable lie."

He was silent, his face stone, and it was I who broke first.

"Tell me, how many men do you think purchase their friend's practice in so that they might once more reside with them?"


"Or pen such notes as you published within The Strand, concerning my possible end?"

"Holmes I-"

"And have you not penned as well, my complete and utter distaste for female companionship?"

"Holmes listen to-"

My hand tightened on his wrist, "Watson. Do you not think these things would be brought before the Magistrate for proof as well?"

He was silent again, and I saw his eyes widen as they met mine. It took longer than I had surmised for him to gather the meaning behind my words.

"You can't mean-"

"You'll find Watson, that the singular difference in our preferences lies in that I have no interest in the fairer sex whatsoever."

I could see him struggle with this sudden knowledge, and his pulse racing beneath my fingers.

"You mean that-"


His eyes met mine, and I found myself rendered incapable of further speech. The depths of affection and shock caught me off guard, and I suspected the same reflected back to him.

A moment later I found myself pressed back against the mantelpiece with Watson's lips on mine. His free arm wrapped tightly about my waist, and I was rendered incapable of movement as his let pushed apart my own.

Chaste was not a word to be used. Nor was hesitant. Indeed, it was a firm press and a moment later his tongue sought mine. I could do little, but pull myself closer to him and wrap my own arms about his neck. Every inch of him seemed to press against me, and at that moment I wondered if he would devour me whole before we’d had a moment to speak our minds.

I was not certain I cared as I felt the whiskers of his mustache brush against my ear, and a quick nip tugging at my ear lobe causing me to cry out.

There might be some consensus on the wisdom of kissing a newfound lover in front of a rather cunning blackmailer laid out upon their chaise. When we pulled away, Watson's eyes immediately drew in horror upon her silent form and I felt laughter well in my throat.

"She will still be unconscious for sometime Watson."

He smiled slightly, and I let out another soft groan as he ran his lips along my neck, "I think, Holmes, that given the circumstances I should still rather wait."

I sighed and gave a nod before letting go of him reluctantly.Before he could step back; however, I caught his hand and brought his fingers to my lips. Spreading his hand I pressed a kiss upon his palm, making sure to meet his eyes as I did so. The action seemed to come unexpected, which I suppose made some sense given how little I allowed my emotions to be seen.

It was for good reason that the man had called me an automaton, and I had let it be known my opinions of sentiment were abysmal at best.

Which, when one believes there to be no hope concerning the object of their affection, is very much the case.


"....The good Watson had deserted me at the time for a wife. The only selfish action I can recall in our association."

I heard him laugh as he entered the room reading the case aloud, and felt my cheeks redden at his recitation.

"My dear Holmes, how absolutely dissolute you sound. And here I worried about my own affection slipping through my writing, whereas you have quite literally penned it for the world to see."

I made a face, "I assure you Watson, it was not without fact. Another month and I should say you would have been married to a felon."

He dropped his copy of The Strand and stepped over to me. Leaning over, his fingers brushed my jaw, and hungrily he pressed his lips to mine. I let out a groan, even as he removed his lips to whisper in my ear, "And yet, my lover is a housebreaker..."

His hand slipped between my legs, pushing open my dressing gown and along my thin trousers. I groaned again as I felt his fingers tighten along my length, "Watson" I cried softly, his name hardly more than a breath.

"Ah yes, and I a sodomist. Criminals all around it would appear."

So it was we locked our doors, and turned down the lights. Here was a new ritual to our well defined dance we had orchestrated through the years. Had we been a man and woman, we should have been held in contempt for a common law relations years prior, but now there was more validity to such a claim than many authenticated marriages.

I should never have the honor of an espousal with the man, but then he had been my dearest doctor before I shared his bed.

For what fear did I have now, when I knew him to be beside me?

To know his presence and longing had already matched mine in length, and outlasted many a poorer marriage?

And assured any future wives?




Charles Augustus Howell is largely considered to be the real Charles Augustus Milverton. As we know Watson changes the names in his cases, I've taken the liberty of stealing Howell as the real Milverton. That said, the maid bothers me as it does anyone- and when I began writing this I realized quickly how easily the maid's life could have been ruined by Holmes and she would have every reason for revenge. What was initially a fic about Watson almost marrying a murderess who wished to kill Holmes, became a casefic on Agatha getting revenge on the both of them.

I have also done terrible things to the chronology, and when they were published. I hope no one is completely offended and the only disclaimer I can offer is Watson/Doyle was rubbish at chronology anyway.
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