Okay, here comes the longest story I've ever written, 80K in Sherlock, that requires several notes. Most importantly, I need to thank my betas on this beast, all of whom had really smart and interesting things to say that helped me to improve it immeasurably. Those lovely ladies are lalejandra, girl_wonder, branwyn, and Kate_Lear. The story itself is a strong R/Adult. It features John/Sherlock (non-sexual), John/Irene, Clara/Harry, Mycroft/Anthea, and other less significant pairings. There's a lot going on in the fic, but a decent summary could be Sherlock returns and must rediscover his place.
First, the story finishes off my Elastic Heart series, which uses only the first three episodes - "A Study in Pink," "The Blind Banker," and "The Great Game" - from the show and goes AU from the pool scene. What that means is that any character in EH that wasn't in series/season one of the show is my original character or my take on an existing ACD character. For example, I saw that Lestrade wore a wedding ring in ASiP, but we heard nothing about his spouse until series two, so I made up a wife for him (Vee). Similarly, Irene Adler shows up in this story, but she's not the version Lara Pulver played - she's based more closely on ACD's original character.
Second, there are a lot of warnings on this story. It's got a fairly melancholy tone, though there is a happy ending, as the title gives away. "Picardy third" is a musical term: A practice from the 16th century and the Baroque era of ending a composition with a major chord, when the rest of the composition is in a minor key, thus giving the composition a sense of finality. This is accomplished by raising the third of the final chord one half step or adding a sharp. In the key of A minor (A - C - E), the final chord would be (A - C-sharp - E). The story includes domestic abuse (both physical and emotional), issues relating to miscarriage and fertility, unhappiness with sexuality, serious medical conditions, the fallout of major character death (from earlier stories in the series), and graphic violence; while most of these issues occur during cases, some apply to John and Sherlock themselves.
Third, this story makes use of several canon cases (most of which are indicated by the pertinent characters' names), but I did my best to put my own spin on each, so the deductions and solutions are not always in line with what ACD did - just a heads-up for ACD canon-sticklers.
Fourth, as noted above, this is the last in a series, and it would be best to read this after the other fics are read. They are, in order: We Make Our Own Lightning, The Steady Running of the Hour, Masquerade, Fashion Forward, Sheep's Clothing, Ineluctable (Five Ways Irene Adler Met the Baker Street Boys), Backwards Epiphany, Bricoleur, Quick Like a Bunny, Tear Up Your List, and His Last Bow. If, for some reason, you're determined to read "Picardy Third" before reading the others, or you want a quick refresher, I'd recommend taking a quick look at part four of Ineluctable (which introduces my Irene Adler to John Watson) and then reading Tear Up Your List in its entirety, as "Picardy Third" picks up exactly where TUYL left off. Also, the Christmas/Harrods case in "Picardy Third" is sketched only briefly, as I wrote out the entire thing as His Last Bow.
If you want an even quicker cheat-sheet than that, here goes:
We Make Our Own Lightning - [Spoiler (click to open)]John meets Sherlock and befriends Lestrade and his wife Vee.
The Steady Running of the Hour - [Spoiler (click to open)]Harry considers the strength of the bond between Clara and John.
Masquerade - [Spoiler (click to open)]Sally works hard to join the Met and breaks up with Anderson.
Fashion Forward - [Spoiler (click to open)]John finds evidence of Sherlock's brief modeling career and considers what he knows about his new flatmate.
Sheep's Clothing - [Spoiler (click to open)]Sherlock considers John's terrible jumpers.
Ineluctable (Five Ways Irene Adler Met the Baker Street Boys) - [Spoiler (click to open)]Irene is neither Sherlock's nemesis nor lover.
Backwards Epiphany - [Spoiler (click to open)]John tries to celebrate Sherlock's birthday.
Bricoleur - [Spoiler (click to open)]Harry is being blackmailed by Charles Augustus Milverton.
Quick Like a Bunny - [Spoiler (click to open)]The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy team works on John Watson and delves into his relationship with Sherlock.
Tear Up Your List - [Spoiler (click to open)]Sherlock fakes his death in order to finish off Moriarty; John and Mycroft, equally in the dark, become friends. Moriarty kills Anthea and John kills Moriarty. Sherlock returns home.
His Last Bow - [Spoiler (click to open)]Mycroft (via Lestrade) gets Sherlock to investigate domestic terror at Harrods during his first Christmas back.
And I did a lot of research for this story and made some allusions to both ACD and other pieces of popular culture, so here's a list of explanations.
1 - "'For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes,'" / 'For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.' - Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno
2 - discovering one's wife sucking blood from her new-born child's neck - ACD's "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"
3 - that you were alive but needed to seem dead - ACD's "The Adventure of the Empty House"
4 - you claim to be able to deduce oceans and forces of nature from a single drop of water - ACD's A Study in Scarlet
5 - Twenty-one times more likely than an unbereaved person to succumb the next day, six times more likely in the next week.
6 - They've sequenced the Black Death genome
7 - XJs are fitted with 225/55 16 W Pirelli P6000 tyres, with which no other model is routinely matched
8 - Pirelli, an Italian firm, had just opened a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Carlisle
9 - Eight months ago, he'd heard something about a massive jewellery theft in Milan, but had been too absorbed with Moriarty's handwritten letters to take much notice. The thieves had posed as police to gain access to the display cases and had struck with commendable efficiency; their organisation had stood them in good stead, as none of the stolen pieces had been recovered by genuine officials.
10 - Objects that could not be explained away if someone else caught sight of them, so he had panicked and secreted them inside the tyre he was working on, not realising that he'd not be able to distinguish it from others of the same make later. - ACD's "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"
11 - the silver coffeepot, in which all of his many moods had been reflected at one time or another - ACD's The Hound of the Baskervilles
12 - Neville Sinclair - ACD's "The Man with the Twisted Lip"
13 - That spark of forgiveness . . . - refers to my story in this series, His Last Bow
14 - Vamberry, the wine merchant - mentioned as a failed case in ACD's "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
15 - grit in a sensitive instrument ACD's "A Scandal in Bohemia"
16 - I am accustomed to have mystery at one end of my cases, but to have it at both ends is too confusing. - ACD's "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client"
17 - 'Witches, bitches, or britches,' as they say.
18 - BRIC - shorthand for the rapidly developing nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China
19 - The face of the corpse had been bludgeoned and stabbed so that none of the hairline, none of the features, and only a small fraction of the jaw, which was marked by a sticking plaster, retained integrity. - ACD's The Valley of Fear
20 - ergotism/St. Anthony's Fire
21 - The spider in question appears to be an entirely new species within the genus Cyclosa, and able to understand what its predators are looking for; it outwits them, John. This is not a matter of mere camouflage or poison, some happenstance of evolution that ameliorated the protection of the species. This small spider constructs an exaggerated simulacrum of itself out of miniscule bits of leaf, debris, and insect carcasses and then rocks its web to make the large dummy-spider appear alert and alive.
22 - that ghastly novelty song - The Archies' "Sugar Sugar"
23 - Oscar Meunier - the designer of the wax bust in ACD's "The Adventure of the Empty House"
24 - Doubtless even now he was in heavy disguise, seducing a disastrously naïve girl even more swiftly than he had her mother. - ACD's "A Case of Identity"
25 - Professor Higgins - the character from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (and its adaptation, My Fair Lady)
26 - Lousy Smarch weather/"I was on a road, looked to be asphalt, and was directly under the earth's sun –" - Allusions to The Simpsons: here and here
27 - key ingredient of vanadium, an easily-sourced element, was innocuous with respect to the delicate membrane of each sperm cell – which indicated that it would be similarly gentle with ova – but rendered the sperm entirely ineffective simply by snapping off their tails and making them, practically speaking, immotile
28 - Robert Browning's minor masterpiece
29 - "Feed me, Seymour"
30 - TOWBAR - Some forces are trialling a scheme which bypasses the need to take and pass Part 2 [the role-playing exam]. In these forces (for example the Met, which calls this 'TOWBAR'), you are promoted on a 'temporary' basis and then over the next six months to a year must gather evidence of your competency in the rank. You are formally assessed throughout the period and if successful are fully promoted (made 'substantive' in the rank).
31 - He'd seen chlorine gas film over its victims' eyes while painting their skin in dark and violent hues of green and yellow shading to black. He'd determined the use of thallium in a case in which the victim suffered hair loss and tingling in the extremities due to the associated nerve damage. - see Sam Kean's The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
32 - But the body doesn't check to make sure the gas it's inhaling contains oxygen; the defences are on the other side, making sure that it exhales carbon dioxide, which inhalation of nitrogen still allows. The body has no idea it's in danger until it's dead. - see Sam Kean's The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
33 - Identical twins have different fingerprints, as they're caused by position in the womb rather than genetic factors.
34 - In any case, my mother said she was in bed when she heard a scream and she went to investigate, as Krista – my sister – was spending the night at the house, and she thought my father was still out at a business dinner. She went downstairs to find the front door open and my father lying dead in front of the fireplace in the main parlour. It looked like he'd struck his head against the mantelpiece. Krista was next to him in a dead faint. - ACD's "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange"
35 - François le Villard - ACD's The Sign of the Four
36 - there, at the top of the stairs to John's room, were John and Irene, wrapped tightly in each other's arms and joined at the mouth, limned against the light - ACD's "A Scandal in Bohemia"
37 - Kim's game
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This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/427839.html.