A Hex of a Day
John's luck had been rotten all day.
The morning began with a failed alarm clock and therefore a late wake-up. There followed an argument with Sherlock who it turned out had been the cause of the failed alarm. After that came a broken shoelace that had to be hastily knotted as he had no spare laces, and the discovery upon reaching the tube that he'd left his wallet at home. He walked to work then, rather than go home and face his partner's snarky comments, which made him even later than he already was.
Mid-morning brought piping hot spilled tea on his trousers. Fuck, that had been unpleasant. The resultant stain was just as delightful in its own way.
Noon rolled in and he went lunchless due to his lack of wallet and therefore lack of cash or any other way to pay for anything. He didn't want to beg a loan off a co-worker; he couldn't bare the thought, frankly. Too shaming.
In the afternoon, things seemed to be looking up until the patient with a beer bottle stuck up his arse hobbled in. When would people learn to just go to the fucking sex shop for proper toys?
He was late getting off shift in the evening, which was par for the course and only fair, really, since he'd come in so late. When his relief didn't show up until half-six, however, John was damned near ready to commit homicide. Only the thought that he'd be stuck cleaning up his own mess stopped him.
Perhaps he was becoming a bit too hungry for rational thought.
At last he left for home. He began his self-imposed walk, thinking desperate thoughts of supper and a cold beer. Maybe two. Maybe three.
He was half a mile out from Baker Street when the lace on his other shoe gave out. He stopped and knelt to knot the busted bits, hoping they'd hold the rest of the way home.
Could this day get any worse? he wondered silently, and so of course it did. A sudden storm opened up with literally no warning, drenching him to the skin. I shouldn't have asked.
The shower stopped as abruptly as it had begun, leaving him wet and annoyed and more than a little fed up.
A barking dog raced up to him and he had a moment's fear thinking the thing was going to bite him on the leg and wouldn't that just be the capper on a fucking fantastic day. He straightened up, prepared to defend himself from canine attack. To his astonishment, the dog stopped at his feet and looked up at him.
"What're you up to, then? Gonna piss on my ankle or something? Go on. Why shouldn't you get in on the universe's Fuck with John Watson Day, too?"
The dog only pawed at his left shoe. The one with the first busted lace.
"What? Stop that." He tried to step away, but the dog did it again, looking plaintively up at John. There was something familiar about it, a ginger and vanilla corgi.
"Hang on. I know you." He knelt again and put out a cautious hand. The dog licked it and then pawed again at his left shoe. He tried the awkward Welsh name he remembered was on the dog's tag. It didn't come out sounding right. "Creirwy?"
She only cocked her head at him in that perfectly Welsh corgi way as if to say, Please don't do that again. You'll only embarrass us both.
"Right. So. You're trying to tell me something, obviously. About my shoe, yes?"
Creirwy pawed at it again and then used her teeth to pull on the lace.
"Okay. Okay. Hang on. It's double-knotted." He felt odd kneeling again in the wet street while strangers--oddly dry, he noticed--trotted quickly past quite blatantly trying not to catch the eye of the wet crazy man talking to a dog and taking of his shoe. "Now what?"
She growled and grabbed the shoe, shaking it.
"Hey! What are you--? Stop that!"
She shook the shoe hard until something bright flew out of it. John grabbed the shiny thing before it could roll off into the street. Creirwy dropped the shoe and began barking at John's hand. He opened it to see a metal disk no bigger than an old six-pence but barely thicker than two sheets of A4. "What the hell is that? How did I not notice it?" He shoved his wet foot back into this wet shoe, eyeballing the little token curiously.
No. Not a token. A charm.
Wait. How did he know it was a charm? He looked at the corgi who looked back up at him with eyes far too keen for even the cleverest of doggie intellects.
"Magic charm?" he asked quietly, glancing to either side to make sure no one might overhear him. The dog barked an affirmative. "Like bad magic? Bad luck magic, maybe?" Another confirmation by bark.
"Well isn't that just perfect. Who'd want to mess with me? And why? Never mind. I need to get rid of it. I can't I just throw it away, can I?" He recalled that it was never that simple in the old fairy tales he read as a kid.
Creirwy ran in a frantic barking circle before him. "Okay, don't throw it away. Got it. How about this? How about you take me to Winnie's right now, and I'll see what she can tell me."
That seemed to satisfy the corgi, who turned and with a look to make sure he was following, led him around one corner and then another and up to the door of Winnie's mystically mobile shop. The pair entered together to the tinkle of familiar bells.
This time, Winnie was behind the counter waiting for them. "Whew! You don't half stink of that nasty little hex. I'm glad Creirwy found you. The sooner we get it off you, the better."
"Hello, Winnie." John laid the charm on the counter. "If today is 'little', I don't want to see big." A horrible though struck him and his eyes widened. "Wait. This isn't that same witch from last summer is it?"
"No, no. Your Sherlock made amends with her. This isn't anything as grand as that. This is simple mischief making." She picked up the charm and turned it in her fingers, examining it. She frowned. "Huh. It's not even aimed at you. It found you by chance."
"Great. How much is it going to cost me to get rid of it?"
She blinked at him owlishly. "Dear me. I'd feel guilty taking anything from you, seeing as this is none of your doing, but one must make a living."
John sighed. "I know you don't take cash, so what'll it cost?"
Winnie thought, her eyes once more trained on the little scrap of silver. "You take Creirwy for the night, I'll keep this, and we'll call it square."
Creirwy yipped a surprised protest that John was hard pressed not to echo.
"That'll do." Winnie pinned the dog with a stare and John remembered suddenly that she was the dog's mother. Creirwy ceased to protest and flopped heavily to the floor. "Don't pout. It's only one night." She turned back to John. "Do we have an agreement?"
"I take Creirwy--" Winnie and the dog both visibly winced. "Sorry. I take her for the one night, you keep the bad luck charm, I'm free of its hex, and my account is all paid up?"
"All right." It seemed too easy but he wasn't in a position to question. He looked at the dog. "Anything you need or want before we go?" Creirwy rose and shook her whole body: No. "What should I call you, since my attempts at Welsh have failed so miserably?"
"Call her Beauty," said Winnie. "It'll do for your English tongue."
"Okay. See you tomorrow, then, Winnie. Right?"
"I'll be around. Have a good night, John. Creirwy, behave yourself while you're a guest."
Creirwy only sulked in reply.
John and the dog stepped outside. "Come on, Beauty. I'll introduce you to Sherlock and Mrs Hudson. You'll like one of them, at least. And we'll find some dinner. I'm so famished I'm imagining ancient Celtic goddesses in modern London," he joked drily.
Creirwy shot him a corgi grin and the two set out to cover the last few blocks to Baker Street.