Chapter Seventy-Three

'What's this about?' asked Molly, breaking into a trot in order to keep up with Sherlock's long, ranging stride along the pavement, heading for the junction with the main road where he would, no doubt, magically conjure up a taxi cab.

'I've no idea. Only that it's absolutely imperative that we go straight there, right now.'

Sherlock had turned up at St Bart's, just as Molly was leaving at the end of her late shift, with the news that they had been 'summoned' to Lady Smallwood's London residence. Molly was aware that Eurus and Charlotte had been due to arrive there mid-afternoon, having travelled from Edinburgh by private plane. Of course, Sherlock was keen to see his sister again, not least because he had many unanswered questions about Rudi's role in Victor's disappearance that perhaps she could answer. Molly was quite surprised he hadn't just gone to see her, off his own bat, earlier in the day. But what surprised her most was his willingness to respond to Mycroft's summons. Normally, such a thing would have seen him running in the opposite direction.

They reached the junction and – hey, presto! – a black cab hoved into view, its orange 'For Hire' sign glowing brightly in the darkness. Sherlock raised his arm and the cab swerved dramatically in to the curb, pulling up right beside them. Opening the passenger door, Sherlock stood back while Molly climbed inside then followed her, giving the address to the cabbie as he did.

'Ashtead?' Molly queried, while hastily fastening her seat belt as the cabbie re-joined the stream of traffic. 'I thought you said we were going to Alicia's London residence?'

'That's what she calls it,' Sherlock shrugged. 'I wouldn't necessarily call it so. But I imagine it's how she differentiates her residences, one from another.'

'Residences? How many does she have?'

'Dunno…but more than one,' he replied vaguely. 'She has a villa in Cap Ferrat, I do know that. It's where her husband used to take his mistress – before it was revealed that she was underage. That's what Magnussen thought he might exploit in his attempt to blackmail Alicia, during the parliamentary enquiry into his own dodgy dealings.'

The very mention of the name Magnussen was enough to give Molly palpitations. That case had almost cost Sherlock his life, not once but twice, from one end of a gun or the other. She reached out to take his hand and plaited their fingers together, causing him to glance down at her with a bemused smile.

'You've heard of Cap Ferrat, haven't you?' he enquired.

Molly nodded. Of course, she had heard of Cap Ferrat. It was in the South of France and was one of most expensive residential areas in the world, second only to Monaco. And Alicia had a villa there?

'But it is within the M25, so…' Sherlock went on.

'What, Cap Ferrat?' Molly exclaimed.

'No, Ashtead,' Sherlock huffed, rolling his eyes very slightly.

'But it's miles away!' Molly retorted.

'What, Cap Ferrat?'

Molly turned to glare at him but saw that he was teasing so, with a little shake of her head, poked him affectionately in the ribs.

'It will take about three-quarters of an hour to get to Ashtead,' he added, in a placatory tone. 'Should be plain sailing once we're south of the river.'

Molly was still adjusting to the blasé manner with which Sherlock patronised London's most expensive form of public transport. Left to her own devices, she would have opted for the train – which would have taken twice as long but cost half the price…though perhaps not for both of them. Taking that into account, the cab was probably the cheaper option but definitely not the greener…

As it transpired, it was Alicia not Mycroft who had requested their presence at her home that evening and she had been at pains to make it clear that both Sherlock and Molly were invited.

'Mycroft has some urgent business to discuss with you all, were her exact words', Sherlock declared, harking back to Molly's earlier question, 'and by 'all' she meant you and Charlotte as well as me and Eurus. And there was something about her tone…She sounded…perturbed'.

'Perturbed' was not an adjective one would generally associate with Lady Smallwood so that was cause enough to convince Sherlock that he should comply with her request.

'Do you think Mycroft wants to talk strategy for the family lunch on Sunday?' Molly wondered.

'Unlikely. Mycroft does not, as a rule, invite the opinion of others when deciding strategy - or anything else, for that matter,' Sherlock replied. 'And that would hardly perturb Alicia. As for what this 'urgent business' could be, I suppose it could be to do with the enquiry but since neither you nor I have been called to give evidence - despite the critical role you played in interpreting Eurus's medical records - why would we be required to attend this evening?' He paused, deep in thought, for a moment. 'Perhaps Sir Edwin has offered a plea bargain?'

They both agreed that there was insufficient data available on which to base any speculation as to why they might have been summoned and, therefore, they should just wait and see.

The cab was making steady progress through the evening traffic, moving toward London Bridge, but they still had a way to go.

'It's very generous of Alicia to host Eurus and Charlotte in her own home,' Molly remarked, changing the subject.

'She's not using it herself, at the moment,' Sherlock replied, suddenly aware of a strange sense of wellbeing that seemed to envelope him for no other reason than the close proximity of Molly Hooper. It felt so natural and right, just holding hands and talking together, even if the subject matter was quite banal.

'Even so, it's still her home,' Molly replied. 'And preparing lunch for Mycroft's entire family at the weekend, too. That's quite an undertaking in itself.'

'She likes to cook,' Sherlock shrugged, at which Molly gave a smile and a mini eyeroll of her own. He could be so obtuse, sometimes. She suspected he did it on purpose

'And, actually, there is method in her madness,' he continued. 'She's killing several birds with one stone.'

'Oh?' Molly inclined her head to meet his gaze and raised an enquiring eyebrow, inviting him to elaborate.

'It's her way of setting the tone for the new family dynamic,' he elaborated. 'And I suspect she plans to establish some sort of alliance between herself, Charlotte and you – a 'Partners' Support Group' of sorts.'

Molly was quite taken with that idea. Being the significant other of a member of the Holmes family was no easy undertaking. But she felt there should be a special place reserved for Siger in this little cabal. The man deserved a medal, simply for surviving as long as he had as the only 'normal' member of the family. She'd heard so much about Sherlock's mother – and most of it fairly uncomplimentary – but she was an eternal optimist.

'Well, it will be lovely to see your dad again and I'm quite looking forward to meeting your mother…'

Sherlock gave an eloquent grunt. He had never looked forward to seeing his mother, not for as long as he could remember… But Sunday was days away so he could compartmentalise and dismiss the matter from his thoughts.

The couple sat in a companionable silence for several minutes, then…

'Have you heard anything from Ella Thompson?' Molly asked, addressing something that had been at the forefront of her mind for nearly two weeks, now.

'Er, no,' Sherlock replied, rather bemused because, at that very moment, he had been pondering how best to approach Mycroft about engaging the services of Eve Matthews, without admitting that he had changed his mind. Had Molly absorbed some of his deductive skills through close association or was this her natural empathy at work? He suspected the latter.

'No,' he replied, turning to gaze out of the window at the illuminated façades of the buildings which lined their route.

'And have you had any more…episodes?' she enquired, apprehensively.

'No,' he repeated, his attention still focused on the passing scene.

'You would tell me if you had, wouldn't you?'

'Of course,' he replied.

'Honestly?'

Catching the concern in her voice, he turned to meet her gaze.

'Of course, I would tell you,' he exclaimed. 'You would be the very first person to know. I want no secrets between us.'

His expression was so open and earnest, Molly felt a rush of emotion which caused her eyes to glitter in the passing lights. Seeing this, Sherlock brought his hand up to her cheek and pressed his lips to hers, conveying with his touch what he found difficult to express in words – that she was the most important thing in his life, now; the very centre of his Universe, the point around which everything else revolved.

'Never doubt I love you,' he murmured.

'I don't,' she replied, returning his kiss.

As Sherlock wrapped his arm around her and hugged her to his side, she leant against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, feeling safe and secure in his warm embrace while he rested his cheek on the crown of her head and closed his eyes.

ooOoo

When the cab eventually drew to a halt, it was beside a tall pair of wrought iron gates.

'Is this OK, guvnor, or shall I drive in?' the cabbie enquired.

'This will do, thank you,' Sherlock replied, leaning forward to touch his bank card to the contactless pay screen. 'We'll walk from here.'

He opened the door and stepped out then turned to offer Molly his hand, which she took as she climbed out of the cosy intimacy of the warm cab into the cold sharpness of the night air. Even though they were still, technically, in Greater London, the air outside held the fresh aroma of the countryside and Molly took a deep breath to savour it.

'Is this it?' she asked - rather unnecessarily, since Sherlock was already pressing the call button on the gate-post intercom.

'It is,' he replied, as a loud click sounded and the gates began to swing inward, with an electronic hum.

'Oh, my goodness…'

'What's the matter?' he asked, alert to the shocked tone of her voice.

'It's so beautiful…' she gasped.

'Is it?' he mused, scanning the edifice before them, built in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement, in the late Nineteenth Century. 'Yes, I suppose it is.'

'And…so posh!' she exclaimed.

'And?' he shrugged.

'I'm in my work clothes!'

'So am I,' he retorted.

'Yes, but yours have designer labels sewn into them! Mine came from Primark!'

'I have no idea what that means,' he replied, offering her the crook of his arm and setting off through the gates and up the short driveway toward the house. 'But it really does not matter what either you or I are wearing since Alicia invited us, not our wardrobes. And besides,' he added, inclining his head towards her, 'you are beautiful, inside and out, regardless of your attire.'

As they approached the front door, it opened to reveal a tall slim lady with short dark hair, dressed in a business-like two-piece skirt suit. She greeted them politely,

'Good evening, Mr Holmes, Dr Hooper. How nice to see you again, Mr Holmes.'

So, he had been here before, Molly concluded. Probably during that case.

'And you, Mrs Davenport,' Sherlock replied. 'Is my brother here?'

'Lady Smallwood and Mr Holmes send their apologies,' Mrs Davenport – the housekeeper, Molly assumed - replied. 'They've been unavoidably detained but they are on their way so shouldn't be too long.'

By this time, they were inside the house, standing in a spacious, triple height entrance hall with its original English oak parquet flooring spread out before them and a grand stair case – also English oak - snaking its way up to two further floors. Gazing up through the stair well, Molly could make out a dome of leaded glass right at the top which, during the daytime, would flood this hall with natural light. Several solid wood-panelled doors led off this central hub, giving access to the rest of the house.

Mrs Davenport relieved them of their outer wear. Smiling politely, she accepted Molly's Primark parka, long, striped, hand-knitted woollen scarf and voluminous work bag, with the same deference she would have afforded a Prada coat, Hermes scarf and Gucci bag belonging to any visiting royal or foreign dignitary.

'Where's my sister?' Sherlock asked.

'Miss Holmes is resting, sir. I think she found the journey quite tiring. Ms Storer is in the drawing room,' Mrs Davenport replied, indicating the nearest door to the right.

'Which room?' Sherlock asked, peering up the stairs towards the first-floor landing.

'Miss Holmes is in Rosetti, sir,' the housekeeper replied.

Alicia had named the guest bedrooms after the seven members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the art movement which inspired the Arts and Crafts style. This was simply to aid the allocation of rooms for guests, less formal than numbering and more of a talking point. There were six guest bedrooms in all - two members of the Brotherhood were actual brothers, so shared the same surname – all on the first floor. Lady Smallwood's own suite of rooms were on the top floor – formerly the servants quarters.

Without a backward glance, Sherlock set off up the stairs, two at a time, eager to see his sister, abandoning Molly in the hall.

'Would you care for some tea in the drawing room, madam?' Mrs Davenport asked, breaking the awkward silence.

'That would be lovely, thank you,' she replied self-consciously, unaccustomed to dealing with 'staff'.

Crossing the hall, Mrs Davenport opened the door to the drawing room and invited Molly to enter, which she did, scanning the room in a single glance.

It was a space of generous proportions. A wood fire crackled in the grate of a large, stone fire place, suffusing the room with a warm red glow. Everything within the space - the furniture, the upholstery, the wall paper, the lighting and the soft furnishings – was a testament to William Morris, from the parquet floor to the central ceiling plaster rose, and would not have looked out of place in an interior design museum but here, in its natural setting, it just felt very cosy.

Arranged on three sides of a square, with the fire place providing the fourth side, were two huge sofas and two armchairs, all upholstered in a classic Liberty floral print. A wool flock rug in a mix of red, brown and russet Autumnal shades covered the floor in the space inside the square and, standing on that, was a large marquetry coffee table with a protective glass top. The wall to Molly's right was hung, floor to ceiling, with thick drapes in a contrasting Liberty print, drawn across the huge leaded windows which Molly had noted earlier, as they approached the outside of the house. The curtains were doing a remarkable job of keeping out the cold night air, considering the lack of double glazing.

But Molly's visual inspection of the room was forestalled when her eyes fell upon Charlotte, rising from where she had been sitting, on one of the two sofas. Molly was immediately aware of the lines of strain around the other woman's eyes and her agitation was further evidenced by the wringing of her hands as she prepared to greet the new arrival.

'Charlotte?' Molly exclaimed. 'Are you alright?'

Charlotte dropped back into her seat, shaking her head, despairingly.

'Oh, Molly!' she gasped. 'This was a terrible mistake! We should never have agreed to come here!'

ooOoo

Mounting the stairs to the first-floor landing, Sherlock made his way directly to the door marked Rossetti, named for Dante Gabriel Rossetti – and, to a lesser degree, his brother William Michael Rossetti – founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The door stood slightly ajar, giving him a partial view inside the room. There was a bed and a bedside table on which stood a Tiffany lamp. In the glow from the lamp, he could just make out the figure of Eurus, curled in the foetal position on top of the counterpane.

He tapped lightly at the door before pushing it open and saying her name, softly.

She didn't respond immediately but, as he approached the bed, she turned her head to look at him and he saw the haunted expression in her eyes. He had seen that look before. It was at Musgrave Hall, the night he solved the riddle and found her in her room.

'What is it?' he said, dropping to his knees by the side of the bed to place his hand on her shoulder.

'I don't like it here,' she whimpered, in a childlike voice. 'I want to go home.'

ooOoo

'As soon as we got to the airport in Edinburgh, I knew we had made a grievous mistake,' Charlotte explained, in between sips of tea from the tray discretely delivered by Mrs Davenport. 'When she saw the plane, her whole demeanour changed. She looked…petrified.'

Molly, listening intently, nodded her head, encouraging Charlotte to continue.

'I asked her if she wanted to go back home but she said no. She said she really needed to tell her story to the people who needed to hear it. So, we got on the plane.

Then, when we landed at RAF Northolt, it became obvious that Eurus was experiencing some sort of flashback. She was shaking like a leaf! So much so, she could barely stand. She had to be assisted off the plane and into the waiting staff car.

As we were coming along the A40 towards West London, that's when she told me. This was the exact same journey she used to make, every Christmas and birthday, with Rudi - the same type of plane from the same remote part of Edinburgh airport to RAF Northolt; the same model of car from the airport to London; the exact same route! No wonder she was having flashbacks!

Alicia - Lady Smallwood, I should say - was here to welcome us when we arrived. What a lovely lady she is! She spotted immediately that Eurus was distressed, though she tried so hard to hide it - she had at least stopped trembling. Alicia offered to call a doctor but Eurus insisted that she would be fine. Fine! That's what she always says – I'm fine! I swear, she could be dying and she would still say she's fine...'

'I think it's a family trait,' Molly murmured.

'Anyway, Lady Smallwood needed to get back to the office. But she said she and Mycroft would be returning later as they had something important to share with us. She said that you and Sherlock would be coming, that we all needed to hear what they had to say – that we all needed to hear it together, at the same time.'

So, the urgent business was family business, Molly concluded, though still none the wiser as to what it might be.

ooOoo

Sitting on the bed, side by side, leaning back against the head board with their legs stretched out in front of them and their arms linked, Eurus and Sherlock were enjoying a companionable silence. Then:

'It's understandable that you would react badly to that specific set of circumstances,' Sherlock declared. 'It must have been very...triggering?' He seemed to be using that word rather a lot, lately. And he hated buzzwords.

'It just reminded me so much of when Rudi used to take me out of Sherrinford for a couple of days – and every single time, I would hope and pray that someone from the family would turn up unexpectedly at his house and find me there, alive and well and held captive! But no one ever did. And, a few days later, I would be back in my cell. It was almost a relief when Rudi died and Mycroft stopped my little outings. At least I didn't waste my energy hoping and praying for a rescue.

'Except you did…' Sherlock reminded her.

'Well, yes, eventually. After I found out the truth about you and what your life was really like, it gave me hope. And you didn't fail me.'

'Well, not yet,' he cautioned. 'Give me time and I'm sure I will disappoint you, as I have everyone else.'

Despite herself, Eurus could not contain a giggle and Sherlock joined in with his rumbling baritone chuckle. But her expression quickly sobered.

'I used to dream that I was safe at home in Musgrave Hall, with you and Mycroft and Mummy and Daddy, but then I'd wake up and I was still in my cell at Sherrinford. Now I dream that I'm in my cell at Sherrinford and I wake up and find I'm not…but I still feel safer in my dreams.'

Sherlock pursed his lips. He was no psychologist but it seemed to him that fear of the unknown might be at the heart of Eurus's dilemma. Not knowing what the next day – or even moment – might bring could be a frightening prospect for someone whose life had been so regulated up to this point in time. But he would leave the psychological analysis to someone who actually knew what they were talking about.

'Have you played your violin lately?' he asked.

'No, not at all. Not since I left Sherrinford,' she replied.

'Perhaps you should. I find that playing helps me order my thoughts, focus my mind. Maybe playing would help you to…something?' he shrugged. 'I could lend you my instrument while you're here. I'll bring it over tomorrow and you can play for me.'

'Or you could play for me…'

'What? So that you can laugh at how awful I am?' he exclaimed.

'You're not awful, exactly. You're just…well, let's say you could do better.'

'That's what my old RE teacher used to say,' he mused.

'He was probably right!'

'She. And, yes, they were absolutely right! I despised RE! Such a waste of time. What is the point of teaching children made-up stories about an imaginary person, for God's sake?'

'Well, for God's sake, obviously,' she replied with a lopsided grin. 'And, actually, Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, just not perhaps who people thought he was. He was quite the revolutionary, like Mahatma Gandhi or Che Guevara.'

'Except neither of those had a religious cult named after them.'

'No. But Che Guevara enjoyed quite a cultural revival in the 1970s.'

'Well, good for him!' he exclaimed, with mock delight.

The light-hearted banter had brought some colour to Eurus's cheeks and a sparkle back to her eyes.

'How are you feeling now?' he asked.

'Better, thank you,' she replied with a grateful smile. 'I'm so glad that you're here!'

'Well, there's a first,' he declared, eliciting another giggle.

'I should go downstairs,' said Eurus. 'Poor Charlotte will be beside herself! I know she blames herself for letting me agree to come here, even though wild horses would not have kept me away.'

'She'll be fine,' Sherlock assured her. 'She's with Molly, who happens to be the most empathetic person I know. They'll be down there, comparing notes and exchanging mobile numbers. Are your ears burning? I know mine are.'

The sound of an approaching vehicle caught their attention and Sherlock rolled off the bed to take a look out of the window.

'Ah, Lord Snooty has arrived,' he observed. 'We really should go down and find out what this Extraordinary General Meeting is all about.'

ooOoo

Sherlock descended the stairs to the entrance hall, having left Eurus to 'powder her nose' in the en suite bathroom that Alicia had had retro fitted after she became mistress of this house. In fact, she'd had them fitted to all her guest bedrooms so as to deprive her visitors of any excuse to go wandering about the corridors in the middle of the night, averting many a 'diplomatic incident' over the years, not doubt.

As he reached the bottom of the stairs, Mrs Davenport appeared from the rear of the hall, ready to open the front door and greet the returning residents.

'How is Miss Holmes?' she enquired of him.

'As well as can be expected,' he replied, enigmatically, at which the housekeeper nodded and enquired no further. Rather, she opened the front door to reveal Alicia and Mycroft approaching. And a third person, a woman whom Sherlock did not recognise.

As they crossed the threshold into the light, Sherlock's attention was deflected from the stranger by his brother's appearance. In all his years, he could not remember ever seeing Mycroft look so pale, drawn and haggard. Whatever it was he had called them all here to discuss, it was clearly of some magnitude of concern.

'Ah, Sherlock, you're here. Good,' Alicia declared, as she removed her coat and handed it to the factotum. Mycroft did the same but without a word of greeting and the unknown lady did likewise, with a grateful smile.

'I've prepared a light supper, Your Ladyship,' Mrs Davenport advised Alicia. 'It's in the dining room.'

'Thank you, Mrs D,' Alicia replied. 'And thank you for seeing to my guests. A pot of tea would be much appreciated. In the drawing room, please.'

Mrs Davenport nodded then crossed to the drawing room to retrieve the tea tray that she had delivered earlier to Molly and Charlotte.

'So, what's this all about?' Sherlock demanded, addressing Mycroft directly. 'And who is this?' he enquired. indicating the stranger.

'Where is everyone?' Mycroft asked, ignoring both of Sherlock's questions.

'In the drawing room…except Eurus. She's just coming. What's going on?'

'All in good time,' Alicia intervened, giving Sherlock a placatory pat on the arm. 'This is Dr Eve Matthews. I'm sure Mycroft has mentioned her.'

'Yes, he has,' Sherlock replied, instantly suspicious. Why had Mycroft brought the company shrink here? What was he up to? 'And you are here because…?' he asked Eve Matthews directly.

'She is here because I asked her to come,' Mycroft interjected. 'And she very graciously agreed to my request, for which I am extremely grateful,' he growled.

'Let's all sit down, shall we?' Alicia intervened, gesturing toward the drawing room door.

Just at that moment, Eurus appeared around the bend in the stairs and stopped abruptly on catching sight of Mycroft. This was the first time she had set eyes on him since the day he and Sherlock turned up at Sherrinford in the nick of time and rescued her from whatever fate Sir Edwin had intended. But his striking physical similarity to their uncle was still very unnerving.

'Come, my dear,' said Alicia, holding out an inviting hand to Eurus and gifting her a reassuring smile, well aware of the cause of her reticence. 'Mycroft, in you go,' she said, waving everyone towards the drawing room.

Sherlock led the way, pushing open the door to find Mrs D on the other side with her arms full of tea tray and Molly just about to do the honours to let the housekeeper out.

'Oh!' Molly exclaimed, taken by surprise. 'Is everything…?' she began but then her eyes rested on Mycroft's troubled expression and she stopped midsentence.

'That remains to be seen,' Sherlock retorted, standing back to let Mrs D by and then sweeping into the drawing room and plonking himself down in one of the two arm chairs, gripping the ends of the arms with his fingers clawed, adopting an adversarial pose.

Molly looked around, seeking an explanation for Sherlock's sudden change of mood but finding none. However, Alicia's friendly smile reassured her that there was really nothing to be alarmed about so she returned the smile then took the chair next to Sherlock's.

In the meantime, Eurus was being ushered into the room by their hostess and Charlotte was relieved to see her looking much brighter than earlier. Whatever had ruffled Sherlock's feathers clearly hadn't had the same effect on his sister. Charlotte extended a welcoming hand to Eurus and the two women took their places, side by side, on the sofa furthest from the door.

Mycroft, who had entered the room without a word to anyone and wearing a grim expression, sat on the other sofa with his back to the door and placed a plastic document folder on the coffee table before sitting back, looking very unlike his usual Iceman persona.

Alicia invited Eve Matthews to sit next to Mycroft then went over to the fire place and fed a couple of large logs to the fire before taking the seat beside her.

Now the company was assembled, Sherlock – who had been drumming his fingers in agitation on the arms of the chair – could contain himself no longer.

'What the hell is going on. Mycroft?' he demanded, voicing everyone's thoughts, in his own inimitable way.

Mycroft closed his eyes, took a steadying breath, sat up straight and began his presentation.

'A document has come into my possession which proves beyond any doubt that the cause of Victor Trevor's death was not an unfortunate accident, as we had been led to believe, but was, in fact, cold blooded, premeditated murder…'

'No!' shrieked Eurus, jumping to her feet. 'I didn't! I didn't kill him! It was an accident!'

Alicia was immediately on her feet, too, as was Charlotte, both reaching out to calm and comfort Eurus while Mycroft looked quite dumbstruck at the effect his words had had on his sister.

'No, no, not you, he doesn't mean you, my dear!' Alicia exclaimed.

'No, indeed not!' Mycroft blustered. 'Absolutely nothing that you did led to the death of Victor. You are entirely innocent and this document exonerates you completely.'

'For God's sake, Mycroft!' Sherlock snarled. How could his brother not have foreseen that Eurus would think he was talking about her, since - for a split second - he had, too.

Still shaken but moderately reassured by Mycroft's words, Eurus retook her seat, held close in Charlotte's comforting embrace.

This had started badly. Mycroft took another breath and decided to cut to the chase. He leant forward and opened the document case, taking out a transparent evidence bag and four sheets of printed paper.

'This,' he said, holding up the sealed bag, 'is a letter, hand-written by Uncle Rudi, which was recently found, hidden inside a book in the library at my…his house.'

'That's addressed to our mother,' Sherlock declared, his sharp eyes reading the inscription on the outside of the document.

'That is correct,' Mycroft replied.

'Has she read it?'

'Not yet,' said Mycroft, tersely. 'In it,' he continued, 'Rudi describes in great detail the exact circumstances of Victor's demise.'

Molly looked around at the faces of the others in the room. Mycroft, Alicia and the strange woman they had brought with them clearly all knew what was in the letter. Eurus and Charlotte looked apprehensive. Sherlock's face was set like stone, his jaw clenched.

'These,' Mycroft continued, picking up the four sheets of printed paper, 'are transcripts of the letter, a copy for each of you. We felt it was important that you all read the letter at the same time, rather than one at a time…'

'We? Who is 'we'?' demanded Sherlock. 'Is that the Royal 'we' or does it include your pet psychologist?'

Molly reached out and placed her hand over his, giving it a gentle squeeze. His eyes flickered, momentarily, then his expression softened slightly and he turned his hand palm uppermost and interlaced his fingers with hers. He was over-reacting - he knew that – driven by paranoia and his own anxiety. This was Molly's way of saying, Calm down, relax, listen to all the evidence then draw your own conclusions. He nodded for Mycroft to continue.

'Alicia and I,' Mycroft elaborated, 'felt it only right that you all read it at the same time and Dr Matthews agreed. So…' He reached across the coffee table and placed a copy of the letter, face down, in front of each of the four recipients. 'Before you begin,' he added, 'I must warn you that this document contains some extremely distressing details of how Victor died. I leave it up to each of you to decide whether or not you wish to proceed.'

There was a pause as everyone considered Mycroft's words – everyone except for Sherlock. He leant forward immediately and took up the sheet of paper, turned it over and began to read. One by one, the others followed suit.

ooOoo

This chapter was getting a bit long so this seemed like a good place to pause. ;)