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Phoenix Shell

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Sherlock wasn’t sure when John and Harry left, he just knew that when he, Mycroft, and Eurus broke apart (he was trying not to think about the fact that he’d been hugging Mycroft), their friends were gone. He imagined they were trying to be discreet and allow the siblings some room, but wished they hadn’t left, if only to ease the awkwardness.

The Holmes family was not exactly known for its hugs, after all, though it seemed like that had been different.

Still, watching Mycroft awkwardly tug at his waistcoat was amusing.

Eurus seemed to think so, too, for there was just the hint of a gleam in her eye, which made Sherlock happier than he would have expected.

“That was, er, good,” he said after a moment.

“I’m glad to hear it, Sherlock, because it seems unlikely such an event will happen again—nor should it need to, if Eurus is past her quite justifiable emotional release?”

She nodded, sniffling a bit until Mycroft handed her one of his embroidered linen handkerchiefs.

“Thank you,” she said after a moment. “I still can’t believe you aren’t angry. It used to feel like you were always angry with me!”

“You were a precocious four-year-old and I was a socially disadvantaged teenager who had a hard enough time relating to our parents, much less to younger siblings. My temper wasn’t at its best.”

Sherlock laughed. “I can definitely attest to that. It hasn’t gotten much better, either, even if he’s better at controlling it these days. If you watch carefully, you can almost see the steam rising under his collar.”

“And whose fault is that?” Mycroft asked with a sniff.

Sherlock made a face, and then said, feeling mischievous, “That’s an interesting question. Usually you like to blame me, but now I’m thinking that, really, it’s Eurus’ fault. Her absence left half of that big brother protectiveness with nowhere to go. I say we blame her.”

Beside him, Eurus’ eyes grew wide, and her expression looked faintly hurt.

Mycroft, though, surprisingly picked up on Sherlock’s intent right away. He had an actual twinkle to his eye as he responded, “That’s a good point, Sherlock. I do believe you’re correct. My temper would no doubt have been more sanguine had we still had our troublemaker with us. Clearly, we’ll have to take her with us when we leave.”

Now she looked altogether stunned and staggered slightly on her feet. Sherlock quickly put a hand under her elbow and helped her to sit on the side of her bed. “Eurus?”

“I just … you can’t mean that.”

Mycroft’s forehead was creased in a familiar concern that Sherlock didn’t find nearly as annoying when it was focused on someone else. “And why wouldn’t we? You can’t possibly believe we would leave you here now that we’ve found you again?”

Watching her face, Sherlock said, “That’s exactly what she thinks. She expected to restore my memories, lose her magic, and then waste away here in a barren hospital room for the rest of her days.”

“Nonsense,” their brother said.

“But it’s not,” Eurus said in a small voice. “Even if you’re not angry, it’s still not safe for me out there.” She gave a general wave of her hand.

“Why on earth not?”

“Because of my magic,” she spat out.

“The magic you said you would lose after helping Sherlock?”

“YES! I … oh. If my magic is gone…”

“Exactly,” Mycroft said with that not-as-annoying-as-usual smile. “If you no longer have your magic, you no longer need a magical mental ward.”

“I … I hadn’t thought of that.”

“I didn’t think so.”

Really, it was remarkable how little Sherlock was finding Mycroft’s high-handed smugness annoying when directed at someone else.

He watched something resembling hope blossom on Eurus’ face as she realized that not only did her brothers not hold her past sins against her, but were willing to move forward to reclaim what they could of their old relationship.

“And it’s exactly the same,” he said as gently as he could. “if you still have you magic.”

“But, I don’t…”

“Are you sure? You did just recreate that last afternoon quite brilliantly—after you restored my memories. I think your magic is still intact, Eurus.”

She shook her head, eyes even wider now. “But it can’t be. That was the price…”

“I think you’ll find that the price you think you need to pay is not the one your heart is charging,” Sherlock told her. “You were so sure that your magic was blocking the memories, you thought the only way to remove them was to release the magic, but you forgot one crucial detail. Your magic isn’t like a normal witch’s. It’s not witch-magic; it’s wish-magic.”

“I know that,” she said. “I’ve spent years planning this, Sherlock, going through every possibility …”

“Yes, but you also blamed your magic for your woes instead of just realizing that you were a child who made a mistake. It wasn’t your magic that caused this, and no matter what your brain believes is necessary, your magic knows better. It’s here to enrich your life, not make it worse.”

She let out a bitter laugh. “Better!”

He sat down next to her, taking her hand in his. “Not in the way you would have expected when we were children, and I’m not saying you haven’t suffered, but … look around, Eurus.”

She did, eyes touching on the sterile room, decent enough but barren of any real comforts. It was nothing like the plush suite she had shown them earlier.

“Do you really think your magic would abandon you to a life of this?”

“It’s not sentient, Sherlock. It doesn’t think. It’s not even real!”

“Oh, I disagree,” Mycroft put in. “It has been quite clearly proven that your magic is very real.”

“That’s not what I mean. It wasn’t natural. I should never have had magic in the first place.”

“And so you don’t deserve it?” Sherlock asked.

A headshake. “It’s not about deserving it. It’s just … it’s like something that was loaned to me. It never belonged to me in the first place, and it’s time I gave it back.”

Sherlock could see the edges of the room distorting, as if they were being twisted by an invisible wind.

“I don’t think it works that way,” he told her. “Even if it is a loan, it’s one for life. Your magic might not have been inborn, but it’s very much a real part of you now

“But I don’t want it,” she said, voice breaking.

The swirl of distortion, like heat shimmering over the pavement on a summer day, edged closer, brushing her toe.

“Don’t you?” Mycroft asked, as gently as Sherlock. “That seems a little ungrateful, when it’s been your only companion all these years. Hasn’t it kept you from being to lonely?”

She turned to stare at him. “How could you know that?”

“Because your room is comfortable.”

Eurus looked blank, uncomprehending, so he explained. “Your magic has taken care of you. It has kept you warm and protected. It has provided you safety and what companionship it could. You might have wished it into existence, but that doesn’t make it any less real now that’s it here.”

“That’s illogical, Mycroft.”

Sherlock couldn’t contain a laugh at that. “To think I should live to see the day,” he murmured, but he was smiling at his sister. “He’s doesn’t stretch outside logic’s boundaries very often, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Can’t you feel it? Your magic is still very much here, Eurus.”

He could see it twining up her legs now, and could feel it exuding a comforting warmth, but she shook her head. “No. It’s supposed to be gone. I don’t need it anymore.”

The flow of magic stopped, and suddenly grew cooler.

“Don’t you, though? Just because you no longer need it to restore my memories, doesn’t mean you don’t need it. It just means that now you are free to use it for whatever you want—even if that is to choose not to use it at all.”

“But I …” she paused.


Her voice was almost a whisper as she said, “If I still have magic, I won’t be able to leave.”

Sherlock didn’t have to think, he just automatically reached out to put his arms around her. “Magic or not, you can’t possibly think we’d leave you here.”

“But I’m dangerous.”

“So am I,” he told her, “and Mycroft is probably more dangerous than either of us. If he didn’t so hate getting his hands dirty, he would be ruling the world properly by now, instead of just in the background.”

“But that’s different! Look at how much damage my magic has done already!”

“Eurus.” Mycroft’s calm voice stopped her. “I know you’re distraught or you wouldn’t need this repeated so many times. You were a child. I suggest that your diligent preparations for helping Sherlock has more than brought your magic as well as your intellect under control. Your magic could only be a danger if you let it, and I propose that you are strong enough not to let that happen without cause.”

She just stared at him in disbelief as the band of distortion around her pulsed with heat.

“There’s no need to be melodramatic,” he told her calmly. “Today is an emotionally fraught day, of course your control would be off a bit—but it was still solid enough that you restored Sherlock’s memories almost effortlessly.”

“But I had planned for that, and knew what to do. I don’t know to do anything else.”

“That’s what learning is for,” Mycroft told her. “I’m not saying that a good therapist wouldn’t be advisable—you deserve some treatment that will actually help you rather than having to spend all your energy keeping secrets from healers who are clearly uninterested in doing anything to help you actually heal. I’m not saying I think you should leave here and immediately take up a professional life in London, but you’ve been stuck in one place developmentally for long enough.”

Sherlock sighed. “This is one of the most confusing days of my life, I think. Not only have I met a sister I didn’t believe existed, but I am actually agreeing with Mycroft.”

He leaned against his sister, arm tightening around her shoulders. “Because he’s right. We’re definitely not leaving you here. Not for a minute longer than necessary.”

Mycroft nodded. “And … did you know? Our parents are still alive, and I can guarantee they would be thrilled to learn you are still alive.”

Eurus looked absolutely stunned, as if she had never given their parents a thought.

“Yes, they have a lovely cottage in Sussex, with a huge library and a big garden. They even have their own bees. Or we’ll find you your own place. We’ll help you figure out what to do next, but, Eurus … the point is you have options. You and your magic can be free to do anything you want.”

“Except taking over the world,” Mycroft said. “That’s my job.”

Beside him, Eurus started to smile, and all around her, flowers blossomed up out of the floor, turning the room into a meadow as sun poured down.