His Last Bow - The Adventures of John Watson

What happened to John after Sherlock's death? What happens to Sherlock after John's death?
Canon up until The Reichenbach fall - doesn't fit with season three.
Cover by the amazing @Squonk of the Nightshade

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3. A Study in Family

The voice of Harriet Watson rang out across the churchyard. It was punctuated by sobs, trembling slightly, but she held her head high, steadfast in her grief. Had she known her little brother would get himself killed, she would have stopped him going back to the army in the first place. Maybe she should have anyway. She never imagined that she would be standing at his funeral. Then again, she never imagined she would have a niece either. Harry glanced over at Mary, standing stoically, a pillar of strength. The two women had barely said a word to each other, but Harry felt some solidarity with the woman John had loved. She could recognise the pain clouding her eyes. It was mirrored in her own.

"John was a remarkable person. He was never one to make friends easily, and that makes all of you very special to him. To me." She scanned the gathered audience, not making eye-contact with anyone. "I want to say thank you to his friends, work colleagues, anyone who knew him here in London, for being there for him when I..." Her voice broke. "...when I wasn't. "

Harry refused to regret her decisions regarding John. Regarding alcohol...well, that was a different story. When John had first joined up she had tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined to 'make a difference' as he had put it. He was his own person, and she had long ago discarded the feeling that she could have somehow prevented his first injury. It did not stop guilt from beating her up, stepping on rationality that said she was not to blame.

"We were close as children, although we, as all siblings do, had our problems. Most seemed to hinge on John's view of me as his older sister - always blaming things on me." Her smile was almost imperceptible. "He got away with it too." Her eyes sought out their parents, clutching each other the other side of the...coffin (the word didn't feel right - she could not connect it with John) to Mary. They were holding out pretty well. In any case, their mother had not had a panic attack yet, which had to be good. "But as we grew older, I had my own problems. We grew apart. I remember some nasty shouting matches, and over the phone, nonetheless. Yet afterwards we'd both feel sh*t, and sooner or later one of us would apologise. Usually John, as I can be extremely stubborn sometimes."

 

"I don't believe it! Again, Harry? What...it's been...a week, two weeks...since the last time. I thought you were starting again. Sober."

The disappointment was clear, even over the phone, and it made Harry feel like a child again. He acted like the older sibling, inciting even more guilt on her. But right now, she was just angry.

"It's my life, John. Mine. Butt out, why don't you. I've got Clara on my case - I don't need this from you as well!" She knew he only wanted what was best for her, but she'd had enough of it.

"I only want what's best for you." Yep, there it was. Harry rolled her eyes. "I want to help you."

"I don't need, or want for that matter, your help!" she snapped. "Oh...what's that? The kitchen's on fire? I'm so sorry, John. I've got to go. Bye." Words laden with sarcasm and poison.

Both siblings leant against the walls of their respective apartments, already regretting the harsh words. Both trying to calm down enough to deal with their respective flatmates/partners. John could already hear what Sherlock would deduce about this phone call. He knew what Sherlock thought about sentiment. You just had to look at his relationship with Mycroft.

"Yet another disappointing call to your sister. She's been drinking again. She won't stop just because you tell her to, John. You're just wearing yourself down. It's not worth it."

Harry knew Clara would use this as another reason not to stay the night. Their relationship was deteriorating rapidly, and Harry had a feeling that nothing she did could change the outcome.

"I can't keep doing this. You're drowning yourself in alcohol because you're scared to actually face your problems, and you're dragging me down with you. You've got to get help, Harry, and I can't give it to you."

 

The memories threatened to overwhelm her, and cause the trickle of tears to become a cascade of sorrow. But she had to continue. For John.

"He helped me through some difficult times, and I will never forget that. We did have our good moments as well. It is hard for me to stand here and talk about him. To recognise that he won't be coming back. That's why it's important that we remember John. Remember the person he was. The lives he saved - both here and in Afghanistan."

Harry surveyed the faces, searching for the ones in uniform. The men in khaki knew first-hand how good John had been as a doctor. Harry knew there was at least one man here that was only alive today because of John. A surge of bitterness flooded her system. John had done so much for the army and the soldiers, yet they were the reason he was dead. She shivered. Dead. She had tried to stop herself saying, or even thinking, that word. It was so...final.

An ugly sob-groan obscured her next sentence. The minister stepped forward as if to intervene, but she waved him away and closed her eyes. She took a few deep breaths and wiped her cheeks. When her eyes opened again, they were filled with a steely determination.

"My brother touched the lives of so many people. He was forever telling me stories of Sherlock Holmes, for whom he mourned long and hard for. I know many of you were glad of his influence over Mr Holmes." Harry used to get annoyed at John's obsession over Sherlock, but now she missed it. She'd never met...ah, what was his name? Oh yes, Lestrade. She'd never met DI Lestrade before, but she could tell who he was from John's vivid description. The way he held himself - a man who knew what death meant. She nodded briefly at him. "The world has lost two great men. But John's spirit is alive in his daughter, Charlotte " She spoke directly to Mary now. "I know he loved you both very much. He was never an emotional man, but I could tell from the way he spoke about you that he loved you and his daughter."

Harry never thought she would have envied John for having a child, but as she looked at the baby, she saw hope. A reminder that it was not the end of the world. But it was time to end her rather rambling, emotional speech.

"I'd like to end by asking you a question. Who was John Watson to you? Remember him. Always and forever."

She was, like John, not prone to outbursts of sisterly compassion. It all just bubbled out of her like fire from a volcano. Flames licked a path down her face, feverishly hot where tears had frozen her skin. She motioned for the minister to take over, before collapsing in a chair. She barely heard what he said, suspended in the surrealism of the moment. Once she would have been embarrassed of the tears.

Once she had a brother.

Not anymore.

Her tears could not hold all the grief inside.

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