This morning seemed much shorter than yesterday morning, so I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. However, I put together two more chapters. Since I haven’t been writing as chronologically as I probably should, this did take some effort. I have a lot of the time in the Watson household sketched out, though, and in a few short chapters we shall make it to London.
However, since I like Chapter 5 so much, I decided to post it. And because my chapters have been so short, I decided to finish up Chapter 6 as much as possible and add that as well. I haven’t kept strictly to the Sherlock chapter, John chapter format (though that would hoist along my word count since I’d be writing everything twice!!). Anyway, ado ado ado… and without further ado… 🙂
Tea went rather appallingly. John silently observed the restless Sherlock, who only sat long enough to sip his tea and roll his eyes at his elder brother. Once he’d stood and begun to prowl around the room, John felt a little more comfortable examining the man in more than peeks from behind his lashes. Sherlock stared so forthrightly at him that he found he could not quite return the gaze. But now that he was facing away, peering out the windows, he could look at him and not be so observed doing so.
Of course, Lord Sherrinford could clearly see him, but John didn’t quite realize that, so taken as he was with Sherlock.
Sherlock was a striking man, to be sure. Tall, nearly a head taller than John. His jet hair curled thickly about his head and not in any of the overdone pompous styles of the day. His jaw was shaven, his skin all the more pale and marble-like framed with his dark sideburns and his amethyst cravat. His eyes, his smoke-grey eyes, were the most intense John had ever seen. When they turned on you, they took you apart, piece by piece. He saw the skill of John’s hands in a moment, deciphered the age of his clothes, and pinpointed within three days precisely when John had been injured.
It was rather amazing.
“Your mother died when you were a small boy,” Sherlock suddenly rounded the sofa and directed himself at Harry. “You took it hard, especially when your father remarried so soon after, barely out of proper mourning I’d wager, and the new wife had John here.”
“Sherlock, we talked about this. Leave it alone.” Lord Sherrinford stood, as if his presence held any sway on his brother’s tongue. John could clearly see that it wouldn’t, that it hadn’t ever.
“No, go on,” Harry said. “I’ve heard about this. I’m curious to see it for myself.”
“Sherlock, no,” Lord Sherrinford intoned, but Sherlock’s eyes blazed with triumphant glee.
“John’s mother died early as well, probably during childbirth but not his; he was old enough to just remember her, but your father did not remarry after that one. That made you angry, Harry, for your own mother to be put aside so quickly and John’s mother to be mourned for the rest of your father’s life.
“John was your father’s golden boy. I mean, just look at him. He’s lovely. Must be the spitting image of his mother, for he looks nothing at all like you or the portrait above the mantel.”
John and Harry flushed for very different reasons.
“You, however, let the anger fester and worry at you. It’s why you drink far too much now and why John is being forced into a marriage of convenience. Your convenience, mind you, Harry Watson. He’s always covered for you in the past, held you in much higher esteem than you deserve, and that’s why he’s going through this marriage without complaint now. He thinks it will help you, Harry, but I’m not so sure. And you certainly don’t deserve his loyalty.”
“Sherlock, enough.” Lord Sherrinford was thunderous.
“That’s hardly enough!”
Sherlock fumed, crossing his arms over his chest, face to face with a very angry Mycroft.
“Mr. Holmes, if you please.” The two Holmes turned furious eyes at John, their cutting gazes meant for each other and not for him. “Mr. Holmes, might you take a turn around the room with me?”
John had not stood to make his offer, had not the time to struggle up from the settee. His voice seemed to deflate Sherlock’s fury, and the man came forward and grasped John’s elbow to help him stand. John tried to smile politely at him for the gesture, but he hated it. Still, he guided Sherlock to the other end of the sitting room where they could speak lowly without being overheard and Mycroft could make his apologies to a purple-faced Harry.
“That was brilliant. How do you do it?”
“What?” Clearly Sherlock had expected another response, a quiet shaming perhaps.
“It was amazing. How did you figure out all that? I mean, the war, so many of us have been to war, it’s a safe guess.” Sherlock looked to disagree on that point, but he let it go. “But our mothers, our father, our relationship, that’s astonishing. You were exactly right.”
“You’re, you’re pleased.” Now Sherlock was the one astonished.
“To have Harry put rightly in his place for once? Yes, quite.”
And Sherlock looked once more at this compact army doctor who smiled at him. Who was amazed by him.
And if anything in the world could make him speechless, it was Captain John Watson.
After tea was drunk and formal pleasantries re-engaged, Harry invited Lord Sherrinford into his study to begin preliminary negotiations. Sherlock strode along behind them as if he’d been invited, though John was well aware that their presence was unnecessary to the proceedings and was likely unwanted as well. Still, he limped after Sherlock with the hope of further entertainment.
Sherlock draped himself over the worn leather sofa, clearly taking in the detail of the new location. Harry had been about to seat himself behind his desk, but he seemed to change his mind and went to the sideboard instead.
“Brandy, Lord Sherrinford? Mr. Holmes?”
“Thank you, no,” Lord Sherrinford demurred, no matter that his polite mask couldn’t quite hide his disapproval as Harry poured himself a deep snifter.
“I must have a home in London,” Sherlock announced. “I do not believe I can tolerate living anywhere else.”
“I, as well, prefer London.” Sherlock glanced over at John, who had quietly deposited himself at the other end of Sherlock’s sofa. He hadn’t expected the man to speak up at all during the negotiations. “Can a portion of the provision be established for a London home? I realize it’s an expensive city, but it needn’t be large.”
“I must have room for a laboratory. And a housekeeper,” Sherlock declared.
“I shall have the estate agent begin a search for suitable lodgings right away. You make take Mrs. Hudson from the London house staff, if she agrees.” Lord Sherrinford had discussed this with his brother more than long enough to officially acquiesce. Sherlock had refused to live as a married man in his brother’s home, whether Mycroft was in residence or not.
Sherlock did his best to hide his pleasure from his older brother. He had no success. He gloated.
“I’ll also be taking my library with me, so perhaps it ought to be a large house. One with ten bedrooms. Ten is a good, round number, don’t you think?”
“That many bedrooms, Sherlock, and people might expect you to entertain.” Lord Sherrinford looked pleased when Sherlock’s face twisted up in horror.
“Very well, perhaps a smaller house will do. Is there anything you must have, John?”
The men in the room looked at Sherlock in a bit of shock: Harry because Sherlock so casually used John’s Christian name, though he obviously flouted convention by referring to his brother not by his title but by his Christian name as well, not to mention in every other conceivable way; Lord Sherrinford was clearly startled because Sherlock asked for an opinion other than his own; and John because his name sounded so wonderful from those lips.
Sherlock noted Captain Watson was too uncomfortable to answer. Perhaps he didn’t think he was earning this house, all this money from his brother. Sherlock, on the other hand, knew just how much he could milk from Mycroft’s fat teat. “And vast gardens, Mycroft. I must have space to grow my poisons.”
Lord Sherrinford sighed.
“I apologize for the vivacity of my brother…”
“I hate it when you apologize for me. There is nothing to apologize for.”
“He does have some eccentric hobbies, one of which is experimenting with poisonous vegetation. I assure you that Captain Watson will not need to fear for his life. Sherlock does not test his poisons on humans.”
But when Lord Sherrinford really looked at the Watson brothers, he noted that Sir Harold had buried his nose into the papers in front of him, while Captain Watson appeared…intrigued.
“Of course, John has nothing to fear, Mycroft! Were I a widower, I’d be back in your household and entirely under your thick thumb again.”
And there were Captain Watson’s lips twitching up at the corners, trying not to laugh.
Fascinating, thought Lord Sherrinford.