This last week has been rough to get myself to write. Partly because I had very little material done for the chapters I was working on and partly because I ended up doing a massive rewrite of the last chapter I posted. I like to have notes and things I’ve jotted down, clever ideas and partial scenes to work with when I really sit down to write. It makes me feel like I’m not starting with a blank page and no ideas. So even though I knew what I wanted to happen in each of the next chapters, and where my goal was for the end of the day today, it was pulling everything out breech. Urg.
And just now I pasted everything in this box and it said there was only 1900 words, I about died. All that work and less than 2K words? Kill me now. (Fortunately, it eventually updated to more like 5200, and at least that feels much more worth it! I was scared there for a moment!) The posted work is 87 pages so far, with another 15 or so of notes and scenes that may or may not find their way into permanent chapters. I didn’t post a word count on my last post, but did mention 75 pages, so I must have made a dent. I got past the wedding, the morgue, the ball afterwards and by the end of this, John and Sherlock have arrived at Baker St.
Now, I have bits and scenes of their home life, and ideas for advancing the plot, but I think even the Dr Pepper I had today can’t keep me going any longer for today. And to think, all this might not have been done if I had worked like I was supposed to today! Snow day! 🙂 I tried to get things done yesterday so I wouldn’t have much in the way of household chores to do today, but I still procrastinated a lot. Nice day, though, if it sped by awfully fast.
I’m shutting up now. Reminder, Chapter 32 is a repost due to about 50% new material and some other editing that I can’t believe I missed. So, 32-35. Hopefully the rest of them aren’t full of glaring errors. 🙂
The number of guests more than tripled as the sun faded from the sky. All the dividers in the ballroom had been opened until it nearly spanned the length of the manor’s west wing. Between the roaring fireplaces and the hundreds of candles reflected in dozens of mirrors, the place was ablaze with light and heat. The crush of people, as well, kept the room warm despite the balcony doors being opened to the gardens.
Sherlock and John were separated for some time after dinner, until Sherlock found him speaking with an ambassador of some sort in their only common language: quite rusty Latin. Sherlock tucked John’s free hand around his elbow and smiled graciously at the man. John’s fingers tightened under Sherlock’s, but other than that, he showed no outward expression of surprise.
Interesting, Sherlock thought, he has his shining, smiling party mask as well.
Sherlock moved John to one guest after another, making introductions and showing his most polite face. It was the in-between that had John’s face red with laughter.
“You shouldn’t be telling me that, even if you know it, Sherlock,” John huffed, wiping a tear from his eye. The Italian ambassador apparently favored a red satin corset and padded his breeches as well as his stockings to appear much more robust and well-formed than he was.
Sherlock merely winked and wheeled John around to meet Lady Ravensford, a young woman newly married to an older Lord, and even more newly debauched by… Sherlock glanced around… the youngest of her husband’s sons, newly in London to attend university.
“My, you are the worst gossip,” John scolded, with an incongruous grin on his face once the young lady had departed. “How do you know it was not someone else? There are a lot of people here; perhaps more than one couple has snuck off for a tryst in a quiet corner.”
“No doubt that is true, John, but she is young and newly wed. She has hardly had the time to make a wide acquaintance in this circle. She would be familiar with her new family. Not to mention, they returned to the ballroom from different doors, but too close to the same time for coincidence. They are both too silly and inexperienced to hide it.”
Sherlock’s deductions warmed John’s ear and tickled his neck just beneath his collar. The taller man leaned closely to John so he could speak softly. Sherlock understood discretion; he simply chose not to employ it much of the time. But since his close confidence and toeing the line of propriety with wild accusations was amusing John, he found it useful not to blatantly insult everyone in the room like he might otherwise do.
And John, he was even more golden when he laughed with Sherlock. His eyes alighted on him and lingered. His hand stayed firmly wrapped around Sherlock’s elbow and Sherlock knew his arm would feel cold when John finally pulled away. John was having a good time and Sherlock found he was delighted to keep entertaining the man.
These thoughts were interrupted by yet another politician, one Lord Crossham, whom Sherlock had met more professionally. Sherlock hardly had to open his mouth for introductions before the good-natured man reached out his hand.
“Your husband, Holmes here, tracked down a diamond set that had belonged to my grandmother,” the man said as he shook John’s hand vigorously. “Even Bow Street turned up their nose at it, but within two weeks, this one walked to a completely random tree in Hyde Park, reached into a knothole, and pulled out thousands of pounds worth of jewels!”
“It wasn’t random, obviously,” Sherlock stated, rolling his eyes. John grinned at him.
“So how did you figure out where they were stashed?”
“Followed the thief when he hid the next thing he stole, a pair of pearl drop earrings from Lady Abbotsford, I believe.”
“And your discovery of the thief?”
“Elementary. As the jewels weren’t immediately dismantled and pawned – none of my contacts had come across anything of the sort – the criminal must have been taking things for fun, from houses or people in his acquaintance. It was merely tracing rumors of other thefts, comparing their invitation lists and investigating the suspects. Honestly, I don’t know why Bow Street hadn’t gotten anywhere with it.”
“Likely no runner wanted to be in a position to accuse gentry of theft,” John said, ever the voice of reason.
“If they’d even the mind to consider the option,” Sherlock added smugly.
“Either way, it didn’t earn them any favors,” Lord Crossham concluded. “However, it enhanced my opinion of Holmes here, greatly.”
John and Sherlock had barely excused themselves when they turned right into a breath-takingly lovely woman resplendent in emerald, both in gown and in jewel. Her dark hair was twisted up quite simply, despite the Grecian curls that seemed to be in fashion. This woman did not need to obey fashion to be beautiful.
“My dear Mr. Holmes! Would you care to dance?” Her voice was warm and honey-toned.
“You know very well that I do not dance,” Sherlock returned stiffly, cupping his free hand over John’s fingers where they curled around his elbow. He might have moved himself and John away entirely if giving this woman the cut direct wouldn’t place him in a more awkward position, both with his brother and with having to explain to John why.
“Oh, but now that you are married, surely you will be enticed into a turn on the floor now and then by your handsome husband?” Her eyes glinted with repressed laughter.
John lifted his cane. “He has been forgiven from such tedious activities, my lady.”
“Captain Watson, my most heartfelt congratulations on your acquisition.” She offered one black satin-gloved hand to John. “And since Mr. Holmes will never introduce us properly, allow me to do so. Lady Adler.” She beamed, inordinately pleased when John bent and brushed his lips to the back of her hand.
“I was astonished at the news that Mr. Holmes was to marry. I can certainly see why he would be convinced.” Her melodious voice was altered only slightly by the sly smile on her face. “Such nice manners on your inamorato, Mr. Holmes.”
Sherlock glared at her and changed the subject. “So, you finally managed to convince the Prince Regent to bestow a title on you, Irene.”
She reacted by giving no reaction other than a simple smile.
“Yes, Prinny has been quite generous. He’s even hinted that the title could become hereditary if I produced a son.”
“Will you? Are you?” Sherlock realized he was far too intent on the answer and schooled his features with a touch more disinterest.
“Really, do I look like one who would do such a thing only to benefit ungrateful future generations?” She ran the edge of her fan up Sherlock’s arm, stepping closer and smiling up at him. Sherlock felt John’s grip on his other arm tighten.
“Hardly, Irene.” Sherlock quite pointedly shifted away.
“You know me so well.” She cocked her head, examining the two of them together. “I do hope we will run into each other again very soon. I do imagine Prinny is quite bereft without me.”
With a flicker of her eyes over the pair of them, she swanned away and disappeared into the crowd.
“Goodness, Sherlock, how do you know her?”
“We used to frequent some of the same house parties. She was not always as elevated as she imagines herself to be now.”
“House parties?” Sherlock at a house party? In the dull country? That would mean keeping company and polite conversation and no running off to investigate crimes and examine bodies in the morgue. John couldn’t imagine it.
“We had some mutual acquaintances when I attended lectures at the university.”
“If I didn’t know better, Sherlock, I would say the two of you had been involved.” That came out before John thought better. He bit his lips together and looked away before he flushed.
“Jealousy is one of her many tools, John,” Sherlock replied with a cool edge. “She is a cat, invested only in the hunt and toying with her food before she devours it. She only plays her game with me because she can’t believe how fruitless the endeavor is.”
“I’m sorry, Sherlock.”
“Whatever for? Come now, Mycroft expects me to introduce you to more of his vapid cronies. We should get that over with.”
As the evening lengthened, Sherlock found John a spot at a whist table with his cousin Petrina. John seemed to enjoy her conversation and dinner, and now that his leg was tiring from endless trips up and down the ballroom, he deserved a little time to sit and relax. Petrina promptly arranged the game and seated two others at the table, neither of them Holmes’.
“Now, Petrina, don’t steal away all of John’s pride and pocket money,” Sherlock said with a wink.
“Oh, now, cousin, would I do that?”
John, who showed his relief at being seated for only a brief flicker, was quickly introduced to the two other players and Sherlock left him to seek out a brief moment of quiet. It wouldn’t be too long before they could consider their obligation to Mycroft complete and depart for the quiet of Baker Street. There were too many people here, as there always were at Mycroft’s entertainments. Sherlock had yet to see the Regent, but no doubt he was holding court in some corner with Irene by his side.
Sherlock found himself upstairs in his old room, alone, and the voices from downstairs began to fade. Of course, that only made the noise in his head appear louder. Sherlock sat in the chair by the window, bowed his head into his hands and closed his eyes. This all hadn’t seemed so overwhelming with John on his arm. Sherlock rubbed his elbow; his arm was cold. He took no pleasure in having predicted this correctly. Perhaps he should just go downstairs. Likely no one would allow him at their table, but he could watch John enjoy his game.
It didn’t take Sherlock long to come to his decision and he stood just as someone opened the door. Sherlock was about to scold a wayward guest for daring to use his room as a trysting spot when he realized who the person backlit in the doorway was.
“Victor.” The name dripped from his lips like gurgled-up poison.
“Sherlock.” The man stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. For a mere second Victor disappeared from his view when the light from the hallway was closed off, but then Sherlock’s eyes adjusted and the slim figure protruded from the darkness.
“What do you want?”
“What do I ever want, Sherlock? A bit of your time and attention.”
“No.” Sherlock tried to conceive of a plan to escape: forward would only bring him closer to Victor and Mycroft had constantly cleared his balcony of a
anything useful to climb down even going so far as to remortar the chinks in the brickwork to remove convenient toeholds. “I’m not yours anymore.”
“Yes, yes, married to that bland-looking Watson fellow. Why on earth would you do something like that? So incredibly dull.”
Sherlock couldn’t formulate an answer that wouldn’t sound defensive or petulant. He went with defensive.
“John is not dull.”
“Oh, was it true love, then? Die Liebe auf den ersten Blick?” (Love at first sight.) The young man faked his overwhelming delight. The inherent cynicism was grating.
“Victor, you’re being dreadfully tedious.” Sherlock heaved out a sigh. “As usual.”
That addition brought a glare.
Sherlock used that moment to brush past Victor and open the door.
“Oh, I’m sure your limp-legged husband won’t ever grow tiresome, Sherlock. Because you never, ever get bored with your toys.”
Sherlock went out the door, practically flew down the hall and strode down the stairs, all too aware that Victor trailed close behind. What he wasn’t entirely aware of was the smug look on Victor’s handsome face as he langorously followed Sherlock down the stairs. A few glances and whispers among the guests traveling through the foyer made him look back. Victor made a few unnecessary adjustments to his clothing and leered.
A quick glance at the guests at the foot of the stairs told Sherlock exactly what they surmised had happened in the private rooms upstairs. Well, their lecherous deductions were completely wrong! Sherlock felt his face warm in annoyance. Mycroft was going to be furious, since there was no chance he wouldn’t hear of this. Chances are, whispers were making their way into his ear this very second. Sherlock’s only chance was to have an alibi in John; the man could say that Sherlock had left his side only a very short few minutes.
Play the loving husband, Sherlock. Mycroft’s words pecked at his shoulders, hounded him. Was there something else he could do? Find John.
John was precisely where Sherlock had left him, having received a slice of cake from somewhere and finished most of the dense, fruity dessert. Sherlock absently picked up a crumb and had a taste, resting his hand on John’s shoulder. Victor hadn’t followed him in here; hopefully he had skulked out of the house now that his mischief was managed. Sherlock’s eyes scanned the room for a few moments, noting the occupants and the various games at play.
When his eyes finally were drawn down to John’s table, he was surprised to see Petrina and John in gleeful conspiracy and with already a hearty addition to their token piles of coin.
“Quite the gambler, are we?” Sherlock mused.
John chuckled, much to the chagrin of the two non-Holmes’ occupants of the table. “There is plenty of boredom while at war. And sometimes the best way to heal a wound is to play a few hands of cards with the unfortunate soldier.”
“Really, John, magically healing card playing? Ridiculous.”
John laughed again and threw down another card. “Do you play, Sherlock?”
“Only with absolute strangers,” Petrina interrupted. “Once someone knows our Sherlock, they wouldn’t dare. He can tell which cards I have in my hand by the flyaway hairs on my head, I wager.”
“I’ll take that wager. Sherlock, do tell me which cards she has in her hand.”
Sherlock glanced at his cousin. She had a tendency to arrange the cards in proper order, move the cards around in blocks of their suit. Sherlock saw the cards on the table, the cards in John’s hand in front of him. Each player had six cards left.
“Six of hearts, three and queen of diamonds, nine and ten of clubs, king of spades.”
“And this is why no one plays whist with Sherlock.” Petrina laid her hand out, exactly as Sherlock had stated.
“Amazing,” John breathed. “I suppose I owe you a forfeit, Miss Holmes.”
“You most certainly do not, John! She wagered that I’d know by her flyaway hairs. I knew because I walked into the room from behind her and saw her cards. It only took deducing the game play I witnessed to narrow down the cards she had left.”
Petrina laughed and flicked over her largest coin into John’s pile. “Foiled by semantics.”
“It’s still quite brilliant, Sherlock.”
John was looking up at him with that golden look again.
“It’s quite warm in here. I swear Mycroft is a crotchety old woman sometimes, with how he stokes the fires. Come out to the gardens with me.”
The other table occupants exchanged smiling glances.
“Miss Holmes, if I don’t see you again before you head to the Dark Continent, it was a true delight.”
“Oh, I’ll impose on your hospitality, I’m sure, Captain Watson, once you are settled. Good evening, cousin.”
“Petrina. Come along, John.”
John dawdled a moment more, politely wishing the others at the table a good night and sweeping up his winnings. He collected his cane and took Sherlock’s arm and allowed himself to be lead outside.
Sherlock seemed rather desperate for the cool, damp air in the gardens. There were lights placed here and there amongst the topiary and smaller candles flickered along the paths, but mostly the out-of-doors was watery moonlight and deep shadow. John watched Sherlock’s eyes dark around in the darkness, taking note of anyone else he saw. A few people had spilled onto the balcony, so Sherlock pulled John onto the lawn.
“Is everything all right, Sherlock?” John asked when Sherlock had found them a cold stone bench to perch upon. Sherlock leaned back, stretching out his long legs. John sat upright and as close to the edge as possible, balancing his cane against the bench behind him. The cool air felt good after the stifling weather indoors, but the bitter cold against his backside would quickly become numbing.
“Yes, fine, John,” Sherlock replied shortly. “Just tired of all the stupid people. So much idiocy and vanity and obliviousness in one place could cause an explosion, you know. The candle flames would set it off like black powder.”
John patted Sherlock’s hand.
“Can’t escape them for one minute. Just look at them, the nosy cows.”
John turned his head to where Sherlock was glaring. At least twenty more people had come out onto the balcony in the few minutes he and Sherlock had been out there.
“Perhaps a dance just ended and they’ve come out to cool down.”
“No, second movement. They’re watching us.”
John listened to the music still audible from the glowing ballroom. He had to agree; it didn’t sound like the piece had just started, nor were the musicians taking a break. He and Sherlock were sitting near several path lights. If John could see the expression on Sherlock’s face so clearly, surely so could anyone on the balcony.
“Why would they be watching us? We’re not doing anything interesting.”
“Oh, yes, John, brilliant!”
John would never have guessed what would come after that exclamation. Sherlock shifted, pressing his knee against John’s, put both hands on his shoulders, and pressed their lips together.
It was chaste, at first, but John pulled back from Sherlock’s enthusiastic embrace just enough to soften the kiss, make it more tender. John didn’t know what impulse overtook Sherlock, but he wasn’t going to let this chance go to waste. He moved one hand to Sherlock’s cheek, high cheekbones under his fingertips, and the other hand to Sherlock’s knee where it pressed against his own.
Sherlock’s lips were soft and full with a sharply peaked Cupid’s bow. John followed the well-defined line with his lips. A shiver went through him as he thought about tracing that line with his tongue. He couldn’t believe Sherlock had initiated kissing; John had felt so sure that Sherlock had no interest in him that way. Their kiss at the magistrate’s office had been somewhat hesitant on Sherlock’s part, and quick.
But Sherlock, John realized after a few seconds, wasn’t actively participating in this kiss. He was leaning forward, keeping the pressure consistent, adjusting himself to John’s preferences, but he wasn’t really kissing back, not exactly. John pulled back slightly, his eyes straining to see Sherlock’s eyes in the flickering light.
“Sherlock, I’m sorry… did you… have you… have you never been kissed before? Or am I doing something you don’t like?” John made sure to keep his voice very low and not make any sudden movement of withdrawal. If the people on the balcony could see, they could possibly overhear, and this was private, dammit, no matter how public.
“It’s nothing like that, John,” Sherlock murmured back softly, though that was not really an answer to the question. “I think we’ve given them enough of a show so that we might make our excuses and depart for home.” Sherlock gently moved away, his hands dropping from John’s shoulders.
A show. John turned away from Sherlock, facing the garden so his face couldn’t be seen by the multitudes of curious guests not-so-subtly sashaying past through the glow from the bright windows behind him. He focused out into the darkness until Sherlock disappeared from the corner of his eye.
“I thought you didn’t care what people thought.”
“I don’t care, John, but sometimes it’s convenient to have them believe one thing or another.”
Sherlock seemed content to let it go at that, but the conversation kept going in John’s head. He turned it around several ways, but none of them ended well.
When Sherlock plucked at his elbow again and said, “Come, John,” he dutifully followed his heartless husband into the cackle of hyenas inside.
Lord Sherrinford met John and Sherlock in the foyer as they waited for their overcoats.
“Pardon us, Captain Watson. I must have a final word with my brother before he departs.”
Lord Sherrinford didn’t wait for John’s brief nod before unlocking the study door and ushering Sherlock into the empty room. He made sure the door was shut completely behind him before speaking.
“Congratulations, brother, on that lovely display on the balcony. Lady Adler almost believed it, for a brief second, just long enough for her laugh to stutter. She handled it quite smoothly, though, pretending she was entranced by the beauty of such a loving moment.”
“Did Victor believe it? That will be the true test.”
“What do you mean, Victor?”
“Do not tell me you neglected to invite him, Mycroft.” As annoyed as Sherlock was at Victor’s unexpected presence, he did enjoy knowing something his brother did not.
“I most certainly did not invite that man, I promise you.” Lord Sherrinford’s voice was edged with the pointiest icicles.
“He was here. Gone now, most likely.”
“Did you invite him?”
Sherlock glared at his brother. “No, of course not.”
“He must have accompanied someone else. I shall endeavor, dear brother, to find out whom.”
“Don’t bother. He’s already made his trouble.”
Sherlock didn’t put it above his brother to allow Victor into his home for the sole purpose of proving to the provocateur that Sherlock was now a married man and out of his reach. Sherlock just wasn’t sure if Mycroft understood that his marriage would mean nothing to the Victor he knew. Marriage vows meant little when it came to his pursuance of pleasure and discord.
“What sort of trouble?”
Sherlock didn’t want to tell him, but Mycroft was only helpful if he had full knowledge. Surprising him only led to further annoyance.
“I had gone up to my old room; he was there. When I descended the staircase, he followed.”
“Making it clear what you two were doing in an upstairs bedroom, no doubt. Sherlock, how could you be so stupid?”
“I’m not going to have this argument for the umpteenth time. My acquaintance with Victor is over. It’s been over for a year. It is not a mistake I wish to repeat.”
“See that you don’t.”
“Bossy, egotistical, pushy…” Sherlock drained his extensive vocabulary onto his brother as he pulled open the door and rejoined his new husband in the foyer.
Lord Sherrinford moved to shake his brother-in-law’s hand.
“Have you said goodbye to Sir Harold, Captain Watson? I understand he leaves for Essex in the morning.”
“I’ve no wish to, Lord Sherrinford,” John answered shortly. “Are you ready, Sherlock?”
“More than,” answered his husband with a dramatic sigh.
Lord Sherrinford’s coach was waiting at the foot of the front steps to transport them to their new home on Baker Street. Neither of them spoke, and John only sat on the seat beside Sherlock so he wouldn’t have to face that probing glare directly.
Time, he told himself, they both needed time to figure out where their place in each other’s life would be. Nothing had to be set in stone tonight. John could be patient. Just because John so desperately wanted to kiss Sherlock and Sherlock came away from the activity so dispassionate didn’t mean that was the end. And even if it was, John could live his own life. Sherlock was right about one thing: this marriage was freedom for them both.
But he didn’t have to think about this now. He certainly didn’t want to talk about this now and was very glad for the other man’s silence.
The ride to Baker Street was surprisingly quick, not being too terribly far from Lord Sherrinford’s posh Mayfair address. John thought he might have walked farther to Bow Street, but he’d have to check a map. Also they were situated very near the bit of land the Regent had commissioned architect John Nash to develop. It would be a lovely place to walk, if they allowed in the public.
The coach pulled up in front of a narrow townhouse in a row of similar places, number 221 next to the door. Lamps glowed in two of the upstairs windows; their few servants had been sent ahead by Lord Sherrinford to prepare the place for habitation and, of course, Sherlock had already taken up residence. One of the young, efficient footmen from the Sherrinford House opened the door a few moments after the clatter of hooves stopped in front of the house, welcoming the new occupants as they descended from the coach.
“Welcome home, Captain Watson,” a womanly voice greeted as John stepped inside the door. The young man closed the door behind him and instantly moved to take John’s coat.
“What about me, Mrs. Hudson. Am I not welcome?” Sherlock was grinning at the woman who’d appeared. She was older, but still spry.
“Of course you are!” She patted him on the shoulder with a good amount of familiarity. Sherlock bussed her cheek, stripping off his greatcoat and tossing it to the footman, who caught it easily as if he expected the heavy wool to fly into his arms at any second.
“Goodness, let me look at the both of you.”
Sherlock obediently descended the two steps he’d already climbed and stood next to John.
“Married, I just can’t believe it!”
“It must have been inevitable, Mrs. Hudson, for you know I do not believe in miracles.” Sherlock’s tone was friendly and impish. John had never seen him behave like this with anyone else in their short acquaintance.
“John, this is Mrs. Hudson. She will be our housekeeper. Matthews there is footman, valet, butler, whatever-else-you-may-require.” The young man bowed politely to John, arms now relieved of coats. “Mycroft provided you with a maid, too, did he not, Mrs. Hudson?”
“Yes, yes, I sent her home for the night ages ago. She’ll be around in the morning. Now, you should show your Captain Watson around the house. I could send a nice pot of tea upstairs for you, if you wish?”
“That would be lovely, thank you, Mrs. Hudson.” The woman and their footman disappeared towards the back of the house.
“A quick tour, then, John?”
Sherlock was off and practically running.
“First floor sitting room, public. I see Lestrade and clients in here.” He took a few steps past the staircase. “Kitchen,” he gestured vaguely in the direction Mrs. Hudson had disappeared. Her rooms are tucked behind there. This,” Sherlock said with a grand gesture of flinging open the door just under the staircase, “is my laboratory!”
John caught up to him and peered inside the door. The room was spacious, or would have been if it was not piled with books, papers, and boxes of glass lab equipment. The walls were lined with tables and there were two large windows that opened to the narrow space between the houses. They were clearly more for ventilation than any sort of light or view.
“I have not had time to set up all my experiments. I do not allow Mrs. Hudson or the maid in here, and no one at all unattended. They might disturb something fragile or important. You may come in here, if you wish, but I don’t recommend touching anything.”
This was clearly a large compliment to John, since he was apparently trusted not to louse anything up.
“Our main living area is upstairs.”
Sherlock took the lamp from the table near the door and closed up his lab. His long legs took the stairs two at a time; John followed more carefully. It had been a long day and his legs were getting tired.
The room at the first landing was a rather nice sitting room with windows facing the garden at the back of the house. The view was slightly desolate this time of year, but no doubt Sherlock would instruct the growth of vibrantly colored poisonous plants in spring. The thought made John smile just a little, remembering the day they met. Sherlock was a force of nature, he was.
The sitting room was mostly set up, though there were boxes of books and paperwork.
“I wish to organize my books myself, or I shall never find anything. I can’t imagine what Matthews, or Heaven forbid, the maid thinks is proper cataloguing.”
There was a large desk near the window, plenty of shelves on the wall near the fireplace, comfortable-looking leather chairs and a long sofa. John glanced around.
“I think this will be quite nice, Sherlock.”
“You’re pleased? Excellent. Moving everything again would be quite tedious. Come along.”
Sherlock disappeared through a door.
“This is your bedroom,” he announced when John had followed. “I’ve taken the second bedroom upstairs. I thought that with your leg, the fewer stairs at the beginning and end of the day, the better. However, if my habits of wandering around at all hours of the night begin to annoy you, we can switch.”
John wasn’t quite sure what to say. “I’m sure it will be fine,” he finally managed, but Sherlock wasn’t particularly listening to him.
“I see you’re tired, John. It’s been a long day. Be grateful that newlyweds are expected to leave early.” Sherlock grinned impishly. “Mycroft will be kept awake by the festivities until nearly dawn. Get some rest. Matthews will bring up the tea tray for you, a nice, soothing peppermint I imagine, and you can settle in.”
Sherlock was nearly out the door when John spoke.
“When did you last sleep, Sherlock?”
“What day is it?” he replied with a distracted flutter of his fingers. “Too much to do, John! I ought to be able to finish the books in the sitting room at the very least, see what Mycroft has kept behind that I’ll have to steal next time he makes me visit.”
Sherlock swept the door shut behind him, not hearing John’s belated, “Good night.”
John had indeed settled in a half hour later, warm tea in his stomach, a glowing fire in his fireplace. He could hear Sherlock puttering around in the sitting room next door, but the sounds were homey and comforting. He would much rather that Sherlock, well, was in this large, soft bed with him, but he didn’t feel nearly as lonely as he thought he might. He felt a lot of possibility opening in front of him, and so while he was still a bit unsettled, he wasn’t unhappy.