Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Blackmailer
Disclaimer: The characters depicted below are now public
domain but it would be very remiss of me not to point out that
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson were in fact created by the
late, and great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. No disrespect is intended.
Summary: This is my take on the Case of Charles Augustus
Milverton AKA "The Master Blackmailer."
Warnings: This is slash and contains same sex interactions.
Rated: PG for nothing graphic.
Thanks: To Ian for betaing.
Authors Notes: Australian Spelling
Comments: Are most welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The weather on Baker Street was fit for neither man nor beast, I
noted with somewhat more than a passing interest, and I was heartily
grateful for the fire that warmed the small sitting room I shared
with the worlds only consulting detective. For without it, the air
between us would have surely been intolerably cold.
Still, I shivered as I turned to the next page of the Times in
what was becoming a vain attempt to submerge myself in the news of
the day while Holmes stood at the window behind me, silently
pondering the downpour and our latest case, no doubt. I gave little
hope that in fact his great mind could spare a moment for anything
else, least of all the harsh words we had exchanged, not a half-hour
Certainly we had quarrelled in the past. It was not an unheard-of
occurrence. Usually it was over some trifling matter that was soon
forgotten. But this new menace that threatened us both I suspected
would leave a mark on our relationship that would not be so easy to
A blackmailer was at work. An individual, the likes of very few
others we have had the misfortune to encounter in our work thus far.
Holmes had been repulsed upon learning the details of man's misdeeds
and though it was not usual for my friend to be so vocal in his
abhorrence of another, as I slowly became aware of the lives that now
lay in ruin because of the scoundrel, I soon understood why.
Charles Augustus Milverton preyed upon those whose only crimes,
with perhaps the exception of the late Colonel Dorking, had been that
of poor judgement when it came to matters of the heart, and trusting
those closest to them.
Truly it was a warning to all. Trust; after all was the foundation
of any relationship, whether it was between husband and wife or
master and servant. And how any of us could ever hope to rest with
the knowledge that men, the likes of Milverton existed was beyond me.
It seems difficult to comprehend now but it had only been a few
short weeks ago that Lady Eva Blackwell had engaged Holmes' services
and he had in turn challenged Milverton in these very rooms. Not
something that either man was unfamiliar with, I surmised at the
time, but there was an element of acquired grandeur about Milverton
where clearly he believed himself to be not only above the law, but
completely unstoppable in his trade that has bothered me incessantly
about him ever since.
For as soon as I had met Milverton for myself I was convinced that
he was a decidedly callous fellow despite his pretence of simply
being that of a businessman. Meeting him face to face was just as
Holmes had described, and I had felt as if indeed I was confronting a
serpent. A creature capable of draining the life out of all that he
In fact after witnessing the interchange between Holmes and the
man who would surely stop at nothing to achieve his despicable ends,
I had begged my friend to take great care in his dealings with him. I
had seen the disdain both men had showed the other, and my fear that
Holmes' position and reputation would be the next on Milvertons' long
list of London's gentry to be scandalised was all I could think of.
More than once during the years of our association I had known
Holmes to become the target of one of our fair city's criminal types,
but never had I felt so utterly certain that if Milverton put his
mind to it he would find a way to destroy him.
I had prayed when Holmes had then decided to infiltrate the
Milverton household so he might gain access to the letters that we
knew must be hidden there, that he would heed my warnings, but it was
not to be. Holmes, though he is a man of great intellect and
impeccable manner refused to listen, to consider that a fate such as
what had befallen Milvertons previous victims could so influence his
It could not go on. I could not bear to watch him day after day
don his disguise of a common tradesman and then go forth, as it were,
into the serpent's den when there was so much at stake.
Upon his return tonight I decided I would broach the subject again
and once more take the opportunity to voice my concerns for his
safety. I waited until Mrs. Hudson had served and cleared away our
supper before I spoke, but despite my good intentions Holmes could
only see my concerns as baseless interference.
"Surely you can't think the likes of Milverton should be allowed
to prevail?" he had inquired.
What could I say? That I condoned the undertakings and betrayals,
which had seen Milverton prosper so far?
"Certainly not," I had managed to return, already wounded by his
accusing tone of voice, though I daren't have Holmes see that I was.
I had only I wished to make myself clear and to request that if he
insisted on continuing with this masquerade that he would err on the
side of caution in his dealings with the man.
"What then, Watson? Do you think me incapable of keeping my
feelings of disdain at bay? That I would risk more than necessary to
bring this demon to justice?"
"Perhaps." I had answered, wary of his reaction but all the time
knowing that in the past he had risked a great deal in the name of
For a moment nothing was said, and as I watched Holmes pause
briefly to light a cigarette, I had thought that given the long
standing of our friendship I was finally seeing a glimmer of hope at
the end of my dark tunnel of despair - that his hesitation meant he
was actually considering the merit of my words.
"I see," he eventually replied, absently tossing the match he had
used to light his cigarette into the fireplace. "You do not trust my
judgement in this, Watson. But come now, you obviously have your
reasons for why that is - pray share them with me."
As with the other times we had disagreed his words were sharp,
though I could not say that they were unkind on this occasion, and
even as he invited my explanation I had clung to my foolish hope,
wanting to believe that with the right amount of clarification, he
would then listen to me. See, as I did, that dealing with Milverton
and his unsavoury staff had us engaging the lowest of all types.
Those, who would twist and connive for profit, and never mind the
damage they wrought.
Still it was not often that I challenged Holmes and as he stood
quietly smoking his cigarette, waiting to hear what I had to say and
regarding me in a way that slowly abraded my confidence; I wondered
just how I might achieve my goal without further incurring his ire.
Holmes had asked me to explain myself; asked me to share with him
why after our many years of association, I now felt his impeccable
judgement was flawed. It was an honour very few others would ever
experience, I realised. Though knowing even that, did not change the
fact that I was certain that no matter how carefully I phrased my
next comment he would misunderstand it.
There was no other way then to simply say it, I had decided in the
end. Sooner or later Holmes would tire of waiting, and when he did,
his belief that my concerns were indeed baseless would only be
"This house-maid," I began slowly, testing the waters as it were.
But he only continued to stare at me in a most sceptical fashion,
waiting for me to continue. "You said you had a hated rival, but is
there a reason why a wedding might be necessary?"
My dear friends face contorted into a sneer with my words, just as
I feared he would. The inference behind my inquiry not lost on him
for a moment. "So that's it," he announced triumphantly. "Your
so-called concern for my safety and reputation is merely that you
fear for your place in my heart."
Sometimes I wondered if Holmes knew as much about human behaviour
as he professed. It was utterly absurd, completely preposterous that
I could be jealous, as he obviously thought I was of a housemaid no
less, or any other woman for that matter.
"Ridiculous," I retorted without thought. But much to my shame I
had not stopped there. So infuriated by his accusation that my
concerns for his safety were born of my own insecurities, I had not
paused even a moment to consider the consequences of giving free
reign to the emotions welling inside of me. "Surely my good fellow,
you would first have to have a heart, for me to lose my place in it,"
I had gone on to say, subsequently silencing Holmes and leaving
myself struggling to understand why I had spoken as I had.
It was perhaps the coldest, cruelest thing I have ever said to
another human being, totally unwarranted under any circumstances.
Where it had come from and what had possessed me to say such a thing
I could not rightly attest to. But I had felt myself dying a little
inside as our cosy sitting room had become suddenly chilled and my
dearest friend then turned from me, and without another word, taken
up his current place at the window.
For my part, so shocked by the incident and fearing that my
usually sturdy legs would simply give way under the strain of
supporting me, I had sought refuge in my favourite chair, and the
companionship of the evening paper. Neither have provided me with any
comfort however, and as the silence enveloping Holmes and I has
grown, so has my regret. But for reasons I still can not name I have
not been able to bring myself to apologise to him for what I had
said. This was not the first time he had involved me in one of his
cases and then scoffed at my opinions. Nor would it be the last, I
I sighed heavily, forsaking my farce at last as I closed, and then
folded the paper on my lap. Gestures it seemed, that were heard over
the sounds of steady rain at our window, and the crackle of the fire
in the hearth. For no sooner had I laid my paper down, Holmes was
standing at my shoulder, staring down at me with a most curious look
upon his handsome face.
"Are you recovered my friend?" He inquired, adding when his
question was asked, one of his ephemeral smiles before he forged on.
"Because if you are, Watson, I have need of your assistance."
It was just as I had thought I mused sadly. All the time I had
been sitting here contemplating his lack of feeling, Holmes' mind has
been working on the case, completely unaffected by the unpleasantness
between us. I felt myself bristle momentarily and then sighed again.
If all my years of sharing rooms with the great Sherlock Holmes had
taught me anything at all, it would be that it was completely useless
to attempt to harbour ill-feelings toward him. No matter how wounded
my pride might become during one of our disagreements, Holmes would
simply brush over it in preference to whatever problem held his
Just why I had acted, as I had tonight needed to be left to
another time to contemplate, I decided. If Holmes needed me then as
his friend I could not refuse him my help. Heaven only knows, there
is little else I can provide of myself, that he would accept.
It was settled, and putting aside my hurt along with the paper I
stood, confronting my friend on equal footing so to speak before I
answered him. "I am quite well," I assured him whilst I straightened
my jacket; preparing myself both physically and mentally for whatever
task I would be assigned.
Quite un-expectantly, given the circumstances, Holmes's face
literally beamed with my response. "Capital," he remarked, reaching
toward me to grip my shoulder briefly, adding a small squeeze before
he once more withdrew his hand. It was a familiar gesture of his, and
one I have come to understand that signalled forgiveness on his part.
Still it often struck me as odd, as it did now, that a man as
seemingly un-feeling as Holmes, could also be so affectionate.
"Now," I said, clearing my mind of all other thoughts, including
why his touch filled me with such a feeling of warmth, so that I
might focus on the matter at hand. "How can I assist you, Holmes?"
His face brightened again and without comment Holmes then returned
to his place at the window. "What do you think of the weather,
Watson?" he inquired, some what off-handed I thought, as I observed
him staring down at the street below.
It was a curious inquiry considering the fact that he had spent
the last half hour keeping a steady vigil over Baker Street and his
recent request for my help; in a matter of some importance, I had
I shook my head, slightly confounded, and then crossed to join
Holmes at the window. Surely my opinion on the weather was not all he
required of me, I mused as I drew back one of the heavy curtains to
see if perhaps there was something I was missing. However, there was
nothing out of the norm occurring on the street below us from what I
could tell through the driving rain. No doubt, the inclement nature
of the evening had driven most indoors. And as I stood, still trying
to comprehend the relevance Holmes's odd question, I spared a thought
for the many of London's unfortunates who would most certainly pass
this dreadful night without any of the comforts he and I enjoyed.
"I think it's hideous," I informed Holmes as a sudden gust of wind
shook the window pane in such a threatening manner that I was forced
to relinquish my hold on the curtain and step back, only to find one
of his hands on the small of my back, guiding me to safety and out of
"Agreed, Watson," Holmes concurred as he released me. "But it
seems Mother Nature has decided to provide me with an unexpected
opportunity. One I do not intend to forsake."
So saying, and before I could ask my friend what exactly he was
talking about, Holmes turned on his heels and then just as quickly
disappeared into his bedroom.
A commotion could be heard coming from within thereafter and I was
of a mind to go and see if he was all right when he reappeared again,
carrying with him a number of items which I had seen him utilise in
Moving without invitation to the table where Mrs Hudson had
earlier served us our supper I took it upon myself to investigate the
items Holmes had arranged there.
"What is the meaning of all this?" I ventured, picking the
glasscutter up in one hand and an odd assortment of keys in the
"Isn't it obvious, Watson?" he returned with another of his quick
smiles and then added. "You may think that I spent all my time at
Appledore Towers consorting with the sweet, and most accommodating
Aggie, but I tell you, though it was far from an unpleasant
experience, there had been a purpose to my deception."
I bristled again at Holmes' mention of the housemaid, whom through
the course of his deception, he had become engaged to. Not
that I thought he ever had any intention of settling with the
predicament he had found himself in, but it still bothered me that he
had found it necessary to consort as he had put it, with
someone who worked for the likes of Milverton. I would not however,
allow Holmes to see that it did.
Openly ignoring his last comment I replaced the keys and
glasscutter; having already ascertained their use and at least one
reason why he might have found his relationship with Milvertons
housemaid to be advantageous, I only needed Holmes to now verify my
"I would think that given the items you have here that you intend
to gain entry where you have no rightful business," I told him.
"Ha, as always I applaud your deductions, Watson." He informed me,
though it was clear that once again he had noted the accusation
within my words as he continued. "But as I believe rightful
business to be such a subjective term I cannot say that you are
"How so?" I inquired, curious to hear how Holmes would explain
First laying open the old carpet-bag he had produced along with
his tools and which I believed he would use to transport them in, my
friend then turned his attention to me. "As you are aware, Watson,
Lady Eva's marriage is now only two days forth and because time is an
issue that cannot be ignored, I can spare no more waiting - tonight's
downpour maybe our last opportunity to foil Milvertons plot to ruin
her wedding day."
"So I was right, Holmes, you do plan to burgle Appledore Towers!"
Holmes merely nodded; apparently pleased that I had accurately
deduced his plan but seemingly unconcerned in regard to any reaction
I might have to it as he once more returned to his preparations. "You
are especially astute tonight, Watson," he commented.
Though I had guessed as much, I was still astounded to hear Holmes
admit the truth. "You can't be serious?" I protested.
"Oh but I am, Watson, now would you please be so kind as to fetch
"My revolver," I repeated like a fool. My mind reeling as images
of Milvertons henchmen cornering him made it difficult to think of
"Yes, I think it would be best if we went armed. And perhaps you
could also furnish us both with masks."
For a moment I could not answer him. My fear for his safety and
reputation once again became all I could think of, only my concern
turned quickly to anger.
"You go too far, Holmes." I finally managed, literally fuming now.
"Have you given no thought to what would happen if you are caught?
The damage to your reputation would be completely irreparable. Good
God manů"I ran out of words at that point, and unable to go on, I
turned away, hoping to gather myself though if the truth was to be
told, it was more that I could not bear to look at him or have him
look at me. It was all too much.
I felt myself begin to shake. My efforts to calm myself were to no
avail and it was not long before I found myself wandering without aim
or purpose towards the mantle where Holmes had stood only a few
minutes earlier. The fire crackled and the wind at our window
continued to howl as I stood staring into the heath. How, I wondered,
could he be considered one of Britain's greatest minds when he never
gave any thought to his own safety? Or naught to the affect his
actions had on those around him. I was forced to close my eyes on
that thought as unbidden, visions of Holmes and Milvertons housemaid
sprang to mind. When the occasion called for it Holmes was a man of
considerable charm and I could well imagine the measure he had most
recently enlisted to aid him.
It was all very unsettling and it seemed like an age before I was
able to calm myself sufficiently to face Holmes. His earlier remark
concerning my fear of loosing my place in his heart now felt closer
to the truth than I would have ever thought possible.
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