saki101: (SH - Penumbra)
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Penumbra - Chapter 3 indented

Title: Penumbra (Chapter Three: Transfusions)
Author: [ profile] saki101
Characters/Pairings: John Watson/Sherlock Holmes, Mrs Hudson, Mike Stamford, Bill Wiggins, Mrs Turner
Rating: NC-17 (for this chapter and the series)
Genre: slash
Word Count: ~11K (Chapter Three posted in two parts due to LJ word limits)
Disclaimer: Neither Sherlock nor Dark Shadows is mine and no money is being made.
Preview: Sherlock’s life is endangered and John is ready to do whatever is necessary to save him.
A/N: A gothic AU of the Sherlock universe inspired by the universe of Dark Shadows (the television series), presented in four episodes, and written for the Miniseries March Challenge at Fall TV Season Sherlock.

Also posted on AO3.
Chapter One: Meet Me at Moonrise may be read on LJ here.
Chapter Two: Sequestration may be read on LJ here.

Excerpt: A glint of white streaked across the sky, a fleck of fallen moonbeam.
Fanciful, Watson.
I may have crossed into the land of poets and madmen; I should use their language.


Chapter Three: Transfusions

I awoke refreshed to a room bathed in the pearly light of an overcast day. I rolled onto my back and stretched; my entire body seemed to feel content with itself. I glanced at my watch. The morning was nearly gone, but there had not been much left of the night when I finally went to bed.

Upon my return from the bath, the fragrance of tea greeted me. On my desk sat a tray, with a small pot, a little pitcher, a waiting cup and a plate of cinnamon toast lightly dusted with sugar.

Ah, Watson. One could grow accustomed to this.

I could indeed, despite the indication that privacy was not to be expected.

You’ve lived with that for long enough.

‘Tis true. I have.

I poured milk from the little pitcher, added the tea and sipped.

“Heaven in a cup,” I murmured, took a bite of toast and closed my eyes in pleasure.

Expanding your notions of heaven, Watson?

“By the second,” I said, finishing the slice of toast and taking the tea with me to the wardrobe.


The library looked hollow by daylight. The hearth was cold, the shadows less substantial. Beyond the windows, the clouds were thinning, but not enough to show any blue.

Or is it that he is not here?

He does have presence, no doubt about that.

I had not been told where to report for work, but the library or the laboratory seemed the likeliest.

Could you have found the other rooms?


I resolved to go round to the places I had seen as soon as possible, to reinforce what I had learned. If someone was injured or taken ill, it would not do for me to lose time taking wrong turns en route. Perhaps in the evening, Sherlock would have time to finish the tour that Detective Inspector Lestrade’s business had interrupted.

The laboratory door was shut, but unlocked. Inside, equipment hummed under dim lights. I found the switch by the door and turned them up. There was a third rack of test tubes on the table.

“Doctor Watson,” Mrs Hudson called.

I poked my head round the door. “John, please,” I said.

“Ah, there you are,” she said, setting a tray of covered dishes on the table where she had set the tea tray down the evening before.

It seemed longer ago.

“John, come eat before you get started on whatever Sherlock’s left for you to do,” she said and held out an envelope. “He may forget to sleep and eat, but I’m not going to let you starve on my watch.”

A nutritional review seemed in order then, probably with Mrs Hudson. I took the envelope and sat at the table. “Thank you for the tea this morning. That was a lovely surprise,” I said as she uncovered dishes.

“You and Sherlock were out so late last night, I thought you’d need some tea straight away to get going,” she said, “and Billy was around to take it up as soon as I heard you turn the shower off.”

I must have looked a bit surprised.

“Old houses, noisy plumbing,” Mrs Hudson explained and placed a bright salad before me.

“Right, of course,” I replied. “So Billy doesn’t stay here, I take it,” I said, admiring the cherry tomatoes and walnuts, yellow cheese and capers amid the green leaves. “This looks delicious.”

“Thank you, dear. Spinach is good for your blood,” she said and placed a smaller dish of pickled beetroot by my water glass. “Billy’s out running errands most of the time,” she said, “but he does have a room here.”

One more for your roster, Doctor Watson.

“He looked a bit peaky when I saw him last night,” I commented. “Aren’t you going to join me?”

“Oh, I had my lunch already, but I’ll bring my tea up and have dessert with you later. I made fresh ice cream,” she said and tapped a cover she had not lifted yet. “Mains in there and afterwards I’ll take you around more of the house. Sherlock asked me to do that before he dashed off.”

“Where to?” I asked.

Mrs Hudson shook her head. “He rarely says, but have a look at your letter, he may have told you.” She picked up an empty mug from a side table on her way to the door. “I’ve got something in the oven,” she said, “I’ll be back in a half hour or so. Bon appétit, John.”

“Thank you,” I called and grabbed the dinner knife to slit open the envelope.

Directions in lab notebook for overseeing experiment in progress, enter findings at indicated intervals. Expect to be back in two to three days. Mrs Hudson can acquaint you with more of the house in the meantime. Make yourself at home. SH

PS She is a tolerable harpist, if you would like instruction.

Everything got grayer. I glanced out the window to see if it had started to rain, but the sky appeared unchanged. I read the message again as I walked to the lab to consult the notebook. My appetite had disappeared. Attending to the lab work immediately held a greater attraction than eating, but after perusing the new entries and checking the samples I saw that there was nothing to be done for another two hours.

I returned to the table and sat, took a bite of salad and then another. Mrs Hudson would be upset if she came back and I had not eaten a thing and it did not make sense to waste the food and end up hungry later when I would need to be alert in the lab.

It’s tough work, but somebody’s got to do it.

“Yeah,” I muttered as I chewed.

My tongue registered the textures and the flavours and my brain pronounced them good, but it did not equal the pleasure I had felt devouring the cinnamon toast in my room.

Come now, Watson. It’s a boon. You’ll have time to learn the lay of the land, read up on subjects relating to the experiments, maybe learn a song.

Why would I learn a song?

Because he suggested you take lessons on the harp he loaned you. Take a hint. Perhaps he likes his doctors musical.

I wish I could turn you off.


Well I might laugh at myself. His absence was an opportunity. It just did not feel like one.

When you heard he had gone out, you assumed he would be back by evening, so you could present your copybook and perhaps get a gold star at the top of a page.

Weren’t you just urging me to learn a song? It's a probationary period; one wants to put one’s best foot forward. Can’t you just shut up for a bit?

You know how other members of your family get those irritating voices to shut up.

Not taking that route.

I set the empty salad bowl aside and took a peek into the covered platter. Two roasted birds sat on a bed of rocket, small roasted potatoes and large mushrooms circling them. I inhaled the spicy steam. My appetite perked up.

Heaven is expanding.

Don’t push it. Be happy I’m eating.

I am happy.


There was a restful silence in my head as I transferred food to my plate then held the nearer bird in place with a fork while deciding which section I wished to cut into first.

As a surgeon, shouldn’t you be able to carve that bird faster?

My knife went into the fowl with more force than was strictly required for the task.


“Oh, you’ve done a fine job, Doct…John,” Mrs Hudson said, casting a smiling eye over the empty dishes. “Mrs Turner will be pleased.”

“That was marvellous," I said, patting my stomach and smiling. I considered the name Turner. It was familiar, but I could not recall why. "Who is Mrs Turner?”

“She’s our cook,” Mrs Hudson said, placing another tray on the table, this one holding two glass dishes and a plate of tiny biscuits.

“Oh…” I said, still searching my memory.

“I just like to experiment with desserts,” Mrs Hudson said, “baking mostly.” She placed one dish before me and another across the table and sat down facing me. “Although, I cook when she’s on holiday or under the weather now and then.” She nudged the plate of biscuits closer to me. “Take a few of those. Bite of biscuit first, then the ice cream.”

She watched me expectantly as I complied.

The biscuits were still warm. Lemony, shortbread-y things I discovered when I ate one. “That is lovely,” I said and the memory of Sherlock telling me who Mrs Turner was returned to me.

Mustn't forget one of your patients.

I was half asleep over dinner last night.

“Now the ice cream,” she urged, beaming.

I took a spoonful, closed my mouth around it…

“Lie down in lavender, John.”

I couldn’t see who had spoken, but I knew the voice. It drew me out from among the tall trees onto the meadow, silvery in the moonlight, sloping away into shadows. A fragrance rose as I walked through the tall flowers, the earth between them warm under my bare feet.

“Lie down.”

I stretched out amidst the plants; stalks bending beneath me, leaves tickling my cheeks as I turned my head from side to side.

“Where are you?” I whispered.

“Here,” he said. “I’m here, John.”

And I felt his breath by my ear.

I tried to look, but there was only shadow, the heat of his tongue and the weight of him pressing me into the warm earth suffused with the scent of lavender.

“John, John.”

This voice was different.

“John…Doctor Watson, are you all right?”

I opened my eyes. Mrs Hudson had walked around to my side of the table. Her arm was on my shoulder.

“Are you all right, dear?” she repeated.

I reached up, unclenched my teeth and drew the spoon out of my mouth.

“My goodness, you’re not allergic to it, are you?” she asked.

I shook my head slowly. “What flavour is that?” I asked because it did not taste like anything I had ever had before.

“Lavender, dear,” she said. “Our very own lavender.”

I set the glass of water down. “I’m so sorry I alarmed you,” I said. “A dream from last night came back to me. Vividly. The flavour, I think, brought it to mind.”

“Oh,” Mrs Hudson said. “Gracious, you did give me a fright. Maybe it’s because of the fragrance in your sheets. I put lavender in all the linen cupboards and the wardrobes, too. Was it a nightmare, dear?” she asked, her brow furrowing further.

I rubbed my hand over my face and let out a long breath. “No, no, only a dream. Not even one I can recall that clearly, there was only a flash of it.” That I had felt with my whole body. Fortunately, I was seated.

“Well, I’ll clear this away, then. I’m so sorry,” she said.

I reached out for my dish. “No, please. I’d like to finish it. It was such a strong image,” I said. “It quite took me away again to remember it.”

She withdrew her hand. “If you’re sure, dear. Sherlock had said it would be a pleasant surprise for you when he suggested I make it this morning and he's usually right about such things.”


“Oh,” I said and some new web of sensation ran through my body. “It is. Please, sit. I’m fine.”

She went back to her seat, keeping her eye on me as she went.

We both picked up our spoons. I worked on not closing my eyes as I took each spoonful into my mouth and I succeeded. I made myself smile and nod just a bit as I ate, but I did not speak.

I was listening to the voice by my ear saying, “Lie down in lavender,” while the confection melted on my tongue.


The rest of the chapter may be read here.
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