This is set a little over a year, maybe a year and a half after the Fall.
Society get togethers were rather dull; Violet Holmes had been attending them for years out of a sense of duty and suffer though them with a subtle smile plastered on her face.
The present social gathering was hosted by Lady Theodora, wife of Sir Eustace Alistair, a baronet of little consequence in Violet's opinion. The family had been in the news over the kidnapping and mysterious rescue of their daughter, Lady Cecily, while she was on holiday in Spain the previous year. This gathering was really the first time that the family entertained and a way for them to tell society that they were alright.
Lady Theodora, or Dora as she was more commonly referred to, was considered a beautiful woman with brilliant eyes whose very air gave the sense that she was well informed and intelligent. It was one of the reasons violet sought to tolerate her; Dora could be a wealth of information when pressed, a skill that could be handy to have in the future. The day was bright and cheerful, the exact opposite of how Violet felt, so Dora decided to have her gathering outside. When Violet arrived Dora was talking to a woman who she had never seen at these gatherings before. Rolling her eyes to herself, Violet prayed that she was not some new money princess who thought she now belonged to a higher social standard.
"Violet!" Dora smiled when she saw her and waved her over. "I want you to meet a friend of mine, Dr. Amelia Lehrer. Amelia this is Lady Violet Holmes."
"Nice to meet you." Amelia smiled broadly sticking out her hand. Violet inwardly cringed at the harsh American accent as she smiled taking her hand. The American was little older than her eldest son but had a youthful and mischievous gleam in her eyes. She had reddish brown hair with a bit of gray that seemed artfully placed around her temples which she elegantly pulled back. Her clothes were fashionable but not designer showing conservative tastes.
"Are you a medical doctor?" Violet asked for the sake of politeness.
"I'm a doctor in art history and I work in conservation and restoration for the American Institute of Museum and Library Services." Amelia explained. "When I'm not preserving art I teach art history and art itself at New York University."
"You seem to be quite a busy woman." Violet remarked.
"Not as busy as my husband." Amelia laughed.
"You were explaining what he was doing before Violet joined us." Dora said.
"Well as you know Dora, Wilhelm has a doctorate in philosophy and teaches at NYU." Amelia grabbed a drink from a passing tray without the server realizing it. Violet was a bit impressed that nothing was spilled. "But before that he worked quite extensively with the FBI as a criminal investigative analysist; which is why we are in London. He's giving a lecture on criminology."
"An odd change; from criminology to philosophy." Violet remarked dryly.
"Not really," Amelia shrugged taking a sip from her drink. "He still profiles people, just in a different context. He's considered an expert in his fields of study."
Amelia practically beamed with pride for her husband and was obviously in love with him. Violet did not know if she should laugh at her or feel pity for her. Love was simply a feeling that could be used and abused very easily.
They sat down to continue on with their polite chatter as refreshments were served. Violet was not quite sure what to make of the American; Amelia was certainly not what she expected an American woman to be. Despite how grating the accent was to Violet, Amelia was not loud or abrasive in her manner. But there was something about her that made Violet feel uneasy, like she was hiding something.
The conversation then turned to a topic that Violet detested most – children.
"No, sorry, I had a son," Amelia clarified for a slightly confused Dora.
"Her son is dead." Violet bluntly stated so Dora could understand. The way Amelia talked about him was confusing; one moment she would refer to him as though he was alive then the next to confirm he was no longer breathing.
"Yes," Amelia was unfazed by Violet's bluntness; she was use to it. Dora, however, looked a bit mortified and was about to apologize to her when Amelia raised her hand to stop her. "As is your youngest son I understand; I read about his death in the papers. I'm very sorry."
"Holmes is not that uncommon of a last name," Violet pointed out. "The man who jumped just might have the same surname as me with no relation."
"If that's true I have this wonderful bridge in Brooklyn I like to sell ya." Amelia said with no humor in her voice. "Especially since in his obituary your name was given as he's mother; plus I study faces – it's not hard to see the family resemblance between you and your son."
"You presume a lot." Violet felt anger rising in her. The manner in which the American spoke to her was flippant and forward. She had no place to speak to her like that.
"Not really," Amelia said dryly almost daring Violet to snap back. "Especially considering I've met your eldest, Mycroft."
That got Violet's attention. She could think of no reason how they could have possibly met.
"Have you really." Violet stated more than asked.
"You sound disappoint." Amelia remarked as she switched out her empty glass for a full one as a server went by, again the server did not notice the switch. "You know, I could probably take one of those trays from their very hands and they wouldn't even notice." She added thoughtfully taking a sip.
"Please don't." Dora laughed.
"Where did you meet Mycroft?" Violet asked. She wanted answers and she was going to get them.
Amelia paused a moment, biting her lower lip in thought. "It was through Wilhelm actually. They met when their work crossed the other's path. Secretive kinda guy."
Violet raised her eyebrows at Amelia's choice of words; they were a bit childish. Amelia was suddenly looking at her oddly as if making a critical observation.
"I'm sure his secretive nature is due to his occupation." Violet remarked lightly wishing Amelia would stop staring at her, it was a bit unnerving.
"You're odd." Amelia declared in such a way as would a person making a final decision.
Dora inwardly groan at her friend's declaration; knowing both of them, she could see that there was nothing she could do to stop the two women from heading into a heated argument. It was strange because no one had ever been able to get a rise out of Violet, she was always so cool and collected. Dora had known Amelia a little less than a year but knew her well enough to trust her to know what she was doing.
"Come again." Violet demanded quietly. She was taken aback, no one had ever spoken so flippantly with her.
"I mention Sherlock, you deny any connection to him," Amelia picked up an apple from the table, from her jacket pocket she withdrew a claspknife opening it with one hand and proceeded to cut into the fruit. "I mention Mycroft, you demand how I know him."
"Your point?" Violet suddenly felt very angry, she was usually in much better control of her emotions than this. But this American evidently had the ability to get under skin and Violet wanted her extracted.
"Just an observation." Amelia shrugged. She continued to cut into the apple into different pieces without eating any of it.
"Why mention it if you weren't going to a conclusion?" Violet caught herself from yelling, that would be undignified. She would not allow some silly American woman to get the better of her.
"Cause now you're thinking about it." Amelia smiled brightly as if she accomplished a grand feat. "I mean, to the casual observer it seems you're playing favorites."
She then began to reassemble the apple pieces together on her plate forming a bird. She handed her little creation to Dora who was not sure if she should laugh at Amelia's apple or be worried about Violet's reaction to Amelia's antics.
"You have my condolences on the loss of your son." Amelia said unexpectedly and with warmth that confused Violet.
"Why? You never met him." Violet stiffly replied, putting up her guard which was thrown off by the appearance of the apple bird.
"I know what it's like to lose a child to tragic circumstance." Amelia remarked as she examined the small treats that were on the plate before her. "Wilhelm and I were absolutely devastated when our son died."
"Probably because your son never caused you trouble as my youngest caused me." Violet remarked. There was a very strong temptation to say something impolite to the American, but she was above that sort of behavior.
"He was nothing but trouble." Amelia said almost laughing. She wiped her claspknife with a napkin before folding it. "I was sick most of the time I carried him; he then came too soon."
"Too soon?" Violet did not quite follow.
"Kilian was born a few months too soon and died a week later." Amelia tentatively put a treat in her mouth and ate it unsure if she like it or not. It had been many years since the birth and death of her son and she had come to terms with it. That is not to say that it still did not hurt, the pain had been dulled by years of healing. "Despite the short time, I love him dearly and visit his grave on his birthday with Wilhelm."
"A bit morbid the way you cling to him when he's dead." Violet remarked taking a sip of her drink.
"Violet!" Dora gaped at her in shock.
"I wouldn't call remembering my son on his birthday clinging or morbid." Amelia supplied, seemly unfazed by Violet's words.
Before any of the women could add anything else to this unusual conversation, Cecily interrupted for which Dora was secretly glad.
"Mum, I was wondering if I could go into town with Elle." Cecily requested. The girl had improved greatly since her ordeal in Spain.
"That all depends on what Dr. Lehrer allows." Dora looked at Amelia for her answer.
Amelia considered the young girl a moment with a serious expression on her face before answering. "Will you be doing mindless girly activities such as window shopping with a great chance of buying something pointless, and, if there's an opportunity, gawking at cute guys who may be about?"
"Maybe," Despite her confusion Cecily smiled. "Most definitely on buying something."
Dora did her best to hide her smirk behind her hand. But Violet looked disapprovingly at Amelia for her words.
"Then you have my blessing!" Amelia declared sounding relieved and made a cross motion with her hand before reaching for her pocket book. "Here is my credit card and tell my overly practical daughter that she has to get something fun. Actually, she needs a dress for the gala we're going to – tell her to get a dress."
"You're actually serious." Violet was now certain that the American was mad.
"As a heart attack. It is amazingly difficult to spoil Elle." Amelia smiled handing Cecily her card. "Something blue or green, she always looks good in those colors."
"Yes Dr. Lehrer," Cecily returned the smile and gave her mother a quick kiss on her temple. "Bye Mum."
"Have fun, dear." Dora called after Cecily as she went off to join Elle who was standing at a distance away.
The women watched as Cecily joined the American's daughter. The girls spoke for a moment before Elle turned to look at Amelia throwing her hands up in the air. Amelia simply waved and had a smirk on her face.
"Something wrong Violet?" Dora asked when she noticed some color drained from Violet's face.
"I'm alright." Violet said as she turned away from the retreating girls. She looked at Amelia who was now chatting with another woman.
The get together lasted a bit too long for Violet's taste. At the conclusion Violet thanked and bid goodbye to Dora for making a hasty exit.
The American's daughter, despite the distance, looked vaguely like an older version of the daughter she had long since forgotten. Violet was caught off guard by the similarity and wished that she had not seen it.
"Lady Violet!" Violet almost jumped at unexpectedly hearing Amelia's voice as she turned around the corner. She looked back and saw the American running up to her.
"What do you want?" Violet demanded when Amelia caught up with her.
"I believe that this is yours." Amelia said causally as she held up a silver rectangular compact that initials 'VH' elegantly engraved on it with an equally elegant boarder. A wedding gift from Siger. It was a gift that one expected to be given at a wedding. It was not a token of his love or even affection to her,yet she still held onto this one out of some misguided sentiment she could not place. "I believe this fell out of your purse."
Violet try to think of how the compact could have fallen out; last she check it was securely placed in a pocket with a zipper. She glared coldly at Amelia as she reached for the object.
"You alright?" Amelia looked over Violet as she replaced the compact in her purse. Her opinion of the woman was not quite set. "See a ghost?"
Having enough of the American woman, Violet marched passed her.
"What happened to your youngest?" Amelia suddenly asked, not letting Violet get far.
"He committed suicide." Violet would have snapped, if it was not beneath her. She kept her back to Amelia hoping she would take it as a hint to stop talking to her. "Nothing else to tell."
"Not your youngest son; that was all over the papers. 'Fraud breaks under pressure, takes own life.'" Amelia quoted one of the many headlines that littered the papers for weeks after Sherlock's death and burial. "Your youngest child; not much in the newspapers about her."
"I don't see how that's any of your concern." Violet finally turned around narrowing her eyes at Amelia.
"Disappeared from the family estate about seven years ago under the nose of your second son without a trace." Amelia continued on, not to be detrude. "About six years ago she is officially declared dead and the police contend themselves to search for a missing dead body than that of a living girl."
Violet felt unable to decipher Amelia's motivations; she wanted to leave and ignore Amelia but she found that she could not. Bound by some unseen force to listen to the American.
"I was at New Scotland Yard the other day with my husband talking with the Commissioner about his seminar." Amelia explained. "It's amazing what people will talk about when they think no one is listening."
"Then you shouldn't listen." Violet said keeping her voice even. She could not believe the gall of this woman poking around in her private affairs.
"I'm sorry for your losses." Amelia said. There was a visible slump in her shoulders resigning to the fact that she would not get any where with Violet.
"They're dead; nothing to be done about that." Violet stated. "Best forget and move on; something you are apparently incapable of doing."
"Ah," It was all Amelia could to such a backhanded statement. "Good day to you then." Amelia took a deep breath to center herself before returning back to help Dora with disassembling the remainders of the party. But stopped before she got too far; there was something she want to express and Amelia doubted she would get another opportunity like this.
"Sorry Wilhelm." Amelia muttered before turning around. "I take it back."
"I beg your pardon." Violet wished that Amelia would just leave, but that now did not seem to be happening any time soon.
"Please don't beg." Amelia remarked as she took a few steps closer until she reclaimed the spot next to Violet's person. "It's, as you would say, undignifiying."
"I don't know who you are," Violet now had enough of Amelia. She would not be spoken to in such a flippant rude manner. "But you – "
"I really did try play nice," Amelia interrupted as she shifted through her purse in search of something. "Try not to let my bias cloud my first impression of meeting you in person; maybe see that everything was just a big misunderstanding. But no – you really are a cold hearted woman."
"How dare –"
"Don't interrupt!" Amelia looked up from her search to glare at Violet. Surprisingly Violet found it difficult to speak. "All of you have this bad habit of interrupting."
Amelia returned to her search and found what she was looking for. "Discovered a few interesting things. You did nothing, according to reports on the case, when your daughter disappeared." Amelia took out a reporter's pad from her pocketbook and flipped the desired page. "It was your eldest son who called the police, not you; it was your youngest son who pestered the police not to stop looking, not you; it was the servants in your employment at the time who organized a small memorial service after she was declared dead, not you."
"Your point and your interest?" Violet found her voice and could not tell if she was bored or frustrated; probably both.
"Most mothers in your position would care about the fate of their missing child." Amelia put up her reporter's pad and looked at Violet with a curious expression on her face. "Didn't you?"
"I find it interesting that you are so intrigued and knowledgeable of the affairs of my family." Violet was bored, she decided, and could not wait for Amelia to get to her point. "Say your piece and let me be."
"Why did you name her 'alone'?" Amelia asked. "A cruel thing to tell a child that she shall always be alone."
"That was what she was." Violet said. There was no need to defend herself to Amelia but for some reason Violet felt that she was doing just that. "Why dwell on her when she is dead?"
"She. Is. Not." Amelia bit out the words, shoving a picture into Violet's hands.
Violet's nature reaction was to look at the picture in her hands. The picture was a young woman smiling and wearing academic robes. With Amelia's last words echoing in her head the recognition clicked in her head.
"Enola." The name felt strange on her tongue after so many years disuse.
"Alive, healthy and happy." Amelia said.
"Then why did you not return her to her family?" Violet demanded on prinicple.
"Because she would have run away again." Amelia said slowly emphasizing each word. She caught a flicker of confusion in Violet's eyes causing her to smirk. "Oh, that thought never occurred to you. Did it?"
A side of Amelia was glad her husband and child were not here to witness her; as with everyone she had a cruel streak, one which that she hide often.
"That is Elle when she received her Masters in Philosophy." Amelia said with a strange mixture of pride in Enola and disgust in Violet. "She is well respected in academic circles."
"You kept my daughter away." Violet accused staring daggers at her. Amelia just cruelly laughed shaking her head.
"I didn't keep her away, she didn't want to come back. And you never bothered to look for her." Amelia stared her down daring for her to deny any of it. "So your air of being righteously wronged is unappreciated. All these years I thought you were simply unable to relate to Elle, but now I see that you are simply an unfit mother let alone an unfit person."
"You think yourself better than me?" Violet hissed. Any control she felt was quickly slipping away from her grasp, but that did not her from trying to grab a few of the fleeting strands.
"No." Amelia said calmly, taking the picture back and tucking it gently into her pocketbook. "I know that I'm better than you. Hands down."
Amelia had to keep herself from laughing when she was the death glare that Violet was giving her. It was very similar to Sherlock's when someone or something got him mad. As with Sherlock Amelia politely smiled; she felt that the polite smile was more than what Violet deserved.
"It's your own damn fault, you know." Amelia remarked as she turned away. "I just wanted you to know Elle is alive and well, no thanks to you."
Without another word Amelia walked away with Violet just standing there is shock and confusion.
By law there was nothing really Violet could do. If there was any action to be done it had to be done by Mycroft who was still her legal guardian. After regaining her composure Violet decided that she would not bother her son with the matter.
She found that it hurt too much.
"I do recall telling you not to do what you just did." Wilhelm remarked taking off his reading glasses.
Wilhelm and Amelia both sat in the sitting room that he had turned into an unofficial office and was now covered with papers varying from his notes of his lecture for the police force to blueprints of an office building that they needed to break into before they left London. Wilhelm had abandoned his notes when Amelia returned with a sad contemplative expression on her face. He wasted no time in asking what was wrong and she wasted no time in explaining.
"I know, I know," Amelia collapsed into a chair across from Wilhelm as she explained to him. "But you weren't there; she was cold through out the entire affair."
"Were you trying to bait her?" Wilhelm asked a bit exasperated. "Why else would you steal her compact?"
"Well being described as morbidly clinging would throw anyone off." She said sarcastically. Wilhelm rubbed his temples; he did not want to fight, he hated fighting with his wife.
"Amelia," Wilhelm gently reprimanded. "You're better than that."
"Says you." Amelia closed her eyes feeling tired.
"Did she recognize Elle?" Wilhelm asked.
"I don't think it clicked for her until I showed her the picture of Elle." Amelia sighed. "She might have been too distracted by my strange American ways."
"Speaking of your strange American ways," Wilhelm glanced at his watch. "Do you know if Elle and Cecily are coming here or back to Dora's after their shopping expedition?"
"Elle texted me and said that they would go back to Dora's." Amelia leaned back in her chair. "I don't think Elle even realized that her mother was there."
"Yes she did," Wilhelm remarked gathering up his papers trying to get the room is some resemblance of order. Amelia looked at her husband confused with a little worry. Wilhelm smiled at her as he stood.
"How do you know?" She asked.
"Elle texted me to inform me that her mother gave her credit card to her with orders to get something, and she wanted to know how much she could spend." Wilhelm said causally giving Amelia a peck on her cheek as he passed by her.
Amelia smiled. Only Wilhelm could make her feel that good.