“Like I said, it’s a strange one.”
Greg Lestrade stood with his hands on his hips, looking up at a woman’s corpse. What was strange, besides the fact that there were no wounds, was that it was hovering upside down in midair, seemingly not attached to anything. Sherlock stood staring up at the body, hands steepled in front of his face.
“How long has your team been here?”
“About half an hour. They collected evidence around the room but no one has approached the body yet.”
Sherlock’s eyes flitted around the room, taking in the small one-bedroom flat easily. They were in the main room, near the front door.
“Have you found the child?”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes in response and stalked over to a door across the room, revealing a closet.
“We’ve already looked there-“ Greg started but was cut short when Sherlock flung the door open triumphantly. His face fell when he revealed nothing but an empty closet.
“I could’ve sworn…” he mumbled, brow furrowing into a frown. He took a step into the closet, feeling along the walls for hidden seams or hinges. As he was nearing the corner he heard a whimper. He jumped back in surprise when he saw a little girl cowering in the corner. “Bloody hell!”
“What?” Lestrade asked, rushing over. He looked down. “Where’d you come from?”
The little girl said nothing, just looked up at both of them with wide eyes. She was emaciated, dark hair plastered to the side of her face and bones jutting out from her overly large t-shirt. Dark bruises littered her arms and legs, peeking out from beneath the hem of her shirt and the thin shorts she was wearing. Her thin arms were wrapped around her knees, which were shoved up to her chest.
“How did you do that?” Sherlock asked, kneeling down and getting in the girl’s space. She pushed back so that she was against the wall. Tears welled in her eyes.
“Oh come, don’t cry just tell me where you came from.” Sherlock insisted. Fat tears rolled down the girl’s cheeks.
“Sherlock, leave her alone.” Greg walked over and pulled on Sherlock’s shoulder, prompting him to stand and take a few steps back. Greg took his place, kneeling in front of the girl but leaving a gap between them. “Can you tell us your name?”
She didn’t take her eyes off of Sherlock until he had stalked away to look again at the body. She flicked her eyes back to Greg, staring unwaveringly.
“We won’t hurt you.” He reached out a hand but stopped when the girl whimpered again. He withdrew his hand. “It’s okay.” He sat for another moment. “Will you come out from there? We won’t hurt you, I promise.”
The girl didn’t answer.
Greg turned to look over his shoulder.
“John.” He stood.
“Sherlock texted me to come by after work. I saw the body. You got any leads?” Greg, who had momentarily forgotten about the suspended body, took a moment to take John in. He seemed nervous, eyes darting around the room.
“No, but Sherlock’s working on it.”
“Sherlock said I should come see you?”
Greg shifted slightly to the side so that John could see the young girl in the closet.
“Oh.” He went slightly pale as he took in the small form in front of him, his eyes flicking back towards the front of the room where the body was still floating. He knelt down beside Greg. “Hello, my name is John. Can you tell me your name?”
The girl stayed resolutely mute.
“I know you’re scared, but I need you to tell me your name.” When he got no response, he changed tactics. “This isn’t your fault, okay? I know you’re scared. You’ve probably made things like this happen before, yeah? When you were scared or angry?”
The girl blinked at him for a moment before nodding hesitantly.
“That’s fine. It’s all fine. Will you come out now?”
The girl hesitated for a moment before unwinding her arms from around her legs. Greg and John inched back enough to let her scoot her way out of the closet. She moved carefully, her arms and legs ambling as she navigated out. Her limbs didn’t seem strong enough to support her. She stared at John and Greg.
“Liz,” she said softly.
“Liz, is that your name?”
She nodded her head.
“Nice to meet you Liz. I’m John.”
“I’m going to go see Sherlock.” Greg stood up and walked over to Sherlock.
“I bad.” Liz whispered, hands fidgeting nervously in her lap.
“No, of course not.” John ached to reach out and wrap her in his arms.
Tears welled up and coursed over her cheeks as she nodded frantically. Liz started sobbing, big hiccups wracking her body.
“ You’re okay.” John, throwing all caution to the wind, reached forward and effortlessly pulled Liz into his arms. As he did, he heard a loud thud behind him.
“Fuck!” Greg shouted. John turned around and saw the body on the floor.
“Watch it!” John said.
“Sorry, sorry,” Greg said. Both he and Sherlock were looking at the ceiling for some clue as to what had made the body fall.
“John, did you see that?” Sherlock asked incredulously.
“Yeah, not really my concern at the moment,” he answered, looking pointedly at the bundle of skin and bones currently cradled in his arms. “I might also have a theory about all of this.”
“Doesn’t look like poison,” Sherlock rattled off absently, not hearing John. “I don’t see any signs of contusions or injury of any kind. Have Molly send me the tox screen A.S.A.P. John, ready to go?”
John, who was still cradling Liz and whispering calming things to her, glared over at Sherlock.
“Liz, can you look at me?”
Liz pulled her face out from where it was nuzzled against John’s neck and valiantly tried to suppress her sobs.
“I have something important I need to tell you. All of you.” John beckoned the other two men over. Greg had dismissed the rest of his people a few minutes earlier, so it was only the four of them in the flat. “I… I don’t think you need to look for whoever did this.”
“Well it can’t very well be suicide, John.”
“No, but…” John looked at Liz. “You said things happened? Before?”
Liz nodded. “Lights. In the dark. Threw a toy once. On accident.”
John nodded. Lights over beds was one of the common signs.
“Sherlock. Greg. I have something to tell you.” John steeled himself. “I’m… a wizard.” He looked up at them. “And I think Liz is too. It’s common for young witches and wizards to make things happen out of their control when they’re young.”
“So you think she-“ Sherlock looked over to the body now lying prone on the floor.
“Yeah,” John interrupted him, tightening his arms around Liz momentarily. He looked down at Liz. She seemed to be in a bit of shock, staring blankly past Greg and Sherlock. John gently rubbed one of her arms. “Liz?” She looked dazedly back at him. “I know this is a lot to take in.” Liz started shaking in his arms.
“I bad,” she murmured. “I bad, I bad, I-“ she pushed futilely at John’s arms, her eyes locking on the prone form. “Mommy!”
“Liz, Liz, you’re not bad. It was an accident. You didn’t do anything, you’re safe now.”
She started sobbing again, all the fight going out of her. John sat and rocked her for what felt like hours, until her sobs slowed and her eyes fell closed as she cried herself to exhaustion.
“Did you already call NSPCC?”
“You can’t expect me to just sit here after you tell me you’re a wizard? And that magic is real?”
“Stranger things have happened?” John tried.
Greg shook his head.
“Did you want a demonstration?”
John shifted carefully so that he wouldn’t wake Liz. He reached up his right sleeve, pulling out a short stocky wand. He looked around before spotting a vase on a table. He pointed his wand at it. “Wingardium Leviosa.”
The vase lifted into the air a few feet before settling back onto the table.
“I suppose,” Greg said, staring at the vase in awe. Sherlock seemed nonchalant about the whole ordeal.
“No, but once I file the case they’ll know there’s a child missing.”
“Mycroft will take care of it,” Sherlock said from beside him. “I assume we’ll be taking the child?”
“I think that would be best, for right now,” John answered. “As long as you don’t mind having her in the flat?”
“She’ll make the flat less dull.”
“You know she’s not an experiment you can discard when you get bored, right?”
“Of course,” Sherlock looked offended. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Okay, well we should go put her to bed, then.”
“What should I do?” Greg asked.
“Continue working on it as usual, but don’t be surprised if you’re told by higher-ups to drop it,” Sherlock answered.
“Alright. I’ll call the team in to bag and tag her, then I’m going home for a pint or three.”
John chuckled as he stood up, gently cradling Liz in his arms. “Don’t drink too much. Although you are taking this rather well, all things considered.”
“Taking things in stride comes with the job,” Greg said, shrugging.
“Give us a ring tomorrow, let us know how it’s going,” John said as he made his way carefully towards the door. “Wait- your people are outside, aren’t they?”
“We probably don’t want them to see us carrying out a child that wasn’t here previously?”
“No, probably not,” Greg agreed.
“Is there a back door to this place?”
“Yeah, but it’s far away from any major streets where you could catch a cab.”
“That’s fine. Just tell everyone Sherlock dashed out the back door and I followed merrily along,” John smirked.
“Okay, but what’s actually going to happen?”
“Sherlock, grab my arm and hold on tight, yeah?”
Sherlock did as told, looking confused and intrigued. With a wink, John took a step forward and all three of them blinked out of existence.
“Definitely going to be drinking tonight,” Greg mumbled, turning to get his crew back into the flat.