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[personal profile] ellie_hell
Title: This Man's Heart - Chapter 22
Rating: R
Warnings: None.
Pairing: Sherlock/John.
Word count: 5770
Summary: In the latter part of the 19th century, a peculiar solitary man and an ex-army doctor disfigured at war live in a small village, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. When they first meet, they have no idea their lives are about to change forever and, over the months, they will form an unusual friendship, discover more about each other and themselves, and maybe fall a little in love along the way.
Disclaimer: See first chapter.

Back to the first chapter
Previous chapter

Chapter 22

The next morning, Martha was so excited that she woke up earlier than usual. She fixed herself oatmeal and toast for breakfast, cleaned the house, and worked on the sweater she was knitting for herself, all to pass the time until she would leave. She found herself thinking about the last week, which had been nothing less than chaotic; first, the plans for the wedding, followed by Harry Watson’s visit to announce that the wedding was off. Then, she had dealt with the repercussions, which included calming the Hoopers and trying to convince them that murdering Sherlock wasn’t a good idea. Despite all that, thinking about her nephew made her smile; he had always been careless, and she found comfort in the fact that he had gone to find John Watson, that he had fought for his life, and had stayed by his side for several days. For the first time in his life, it seemed as though Sherlock had found where he belonged, and the thought made her incredibly happy.
 
It had been a surprise when one of the Watsons’ servants had knocked on her door to invite her over for tea the next day. She would finally get to meet the man who had made Sherlock’s eyes sparkle with interest, the man who had made him run to the shore of Sailboat Bay several times per day, the man who had dragged him out of his shell a little, and who had made him smile. She would meet the man who had made a skull enter her house, and who had almost broken Sherlock’s heart, a heart whose existence many people doubted. She couldn’t remember being this excited since her wedding day.
 
When it was time, she got into her buggy and drove it to the manor on Spruce Cape. She knew it was faster to travel by boat, but she preferred the road, so she didn’t mind the extra time it took to get there; it gave her the opportunity to enjoy the warm May air filled with the scent of leaves and blooming flowers. Once she arrived, two servants greeted her outside; one took care of the horse while the other one guided her inside. She barely had time to examine the splendour of the place before she found herself in a remarkably large and luxurious living room where Sherlock and John were in deep conversation.
 
Sherlock was leaning towards John, listening to whatever he was saying with a look of pure fondness on his face. He was wearing a shirt she didn’t recognize. It was too large for him, and he had rolled the sleeves up, probably because they were too small; it was most likely one of John’s shirts. John was looking up at Sherlock while talking enthusiastically, and his smile seemed to illuminate his whole face, despite most of it being covered by his leather mask. At one point, he reached up and flicked a curl out of Sherlock’s eye, which made Martha feel as though she was intruding on something intimate, so she coughed slightly and both men looked in her direction.
 
“Aunt Martha!” Sherlock exclaimed as he ran to her and pulled her into a tight hug.
 
“My dear boy, I am so glad to see you again!” she said when he released her.
 
As happy as she was to be reunited with her nephew, there was someone else she was anxious to meet, and she turned her attention to him. John was standing close to the fireplace, watching the reunion with a small smile, but as soon as Martha looked at him, his smile faded and he looked uneasy. In a few small steps, she crossed the room and hugged him tightly, not letting go until he had relaxed in the embrace.
 
“I had been praying for someone like you to come into his life,” she said, still holding his hands firmly in hers.
 
John didn’t know how to respond. Sherlock had successfully convinced him that his aunt would not scream in disgust or flee the room upon meeting him, but he wasn’t prepared for such an overwhelming wave of warmth. He felt something obstructing his throat, and it was suddenly terribly hard to breathe. His eyes prickled with tears he tried to will away, but Mrs. Hudson noticed, and while he was busy cursing the Holmes and their bloody observation skills, she pulled him back into a warm embrace and he tentatively circled her with his arms.
 
“It’s fine dear, I know,” she whispered.
 
“I had stopped wishing for someone like him, thank you for not losing hope,” he said, and she pulled away to smile warmly at him.
 
They spent a lovely afternoon together, Martha and John doing most of the talking while Sherlock observed them attentively. He noticed that, every ten minutes, John confirmed that his mask was still in place, but after the first hour he was only verifying every half-hour or so; an undeniable sign that the meeting was going well. John asked Martha about astronomy, and she asked him all about the different steps of the treasure hunt. She even made him blush when she said he had been the first person who had managed to make Sherlock stand still for that long. Later, John asked whether Mrs. Hudson wanted to join him for dinner, but she declined, saying she already had plans with Mrs. Turner, which made Sherlock roll his eyes; of course his aunt was running to her tenants to tell them all about her meeting with John Watson.
 
When Martha announced that she was leaving, she looked at Sherlock expectantly, wondering whether he would come back with her. He felt an unpleasant churning feeling in his stomach, and he had to resist the rather childish urge to grab onto John and never let go. They had discussed this, and both knew that Sherlock had to return home, if not because John was healthy again, then because he hadn’t brought any clean clothes with him. Kissing John was out of the question, not in front of his aunt, but he needed to say goodbye somehow, so he rested his hands on John’s neck and pressed their foreheads together before whispering “I’ll be back soon,” and turning to leave.
 
“Sherlock!” John called out as Sherlock was about to close the door behind him.
 
“What is it?” Sherlock asked as he turned around.
 
“I hate to see you leave,” he said, “if you can arrange a meeting with Moran and Moriarty for tomorrow, please do so. I don’t think I can wait much longer,” he added, and Sherlock flashed him an extraordinary smile.
 
“Same time?” he asked, and when John nodded, it took al lot of restraint not to throw himself at him and kiss him senseless.
 
Sherlock decided to return home in the buggy with his Aunt Martha, and he left his small boat in West Birches Bay. Since Harry Watson had bought that portion of land, no one dared venture there except Sherlock, so the chances of the boat getting stolen were very thin. Also, there was something he needed to discuss with his aunt, but he didn’t have time to tackle the subject before she turned to him with shining eyes.
 
“Oh, Sherlock!” she cried, “He is so lovely! Such a polite and charming man! He’s the right one, isn’t he?”
 
Sherlock kept quiet, but he smiled at the road in front of him. He had never doubted that Aunt Martha would appreciate John, but it was nice to see it confirmed. However, his joy was somewhat clouded by a nervous feeling deep in his chest; he had to tell his aunt about his and John’s plan to live together, and he had calculated that there were three possible reactions to the announcement. Either she would be thrilled by the prospect, saddened by the thought of living alone, or a combination of the two. Holding the reins tighter, he took the plunge.
 
“John and I started talking about living together,” he said.
 
Martha gripped his arm with both hands, her eyes filled with tears, and her smile was so wide Sherlock thought it must have been painful. Then, she released his arm and started clapping and laughing like a little girl.
 
“My boy, it’s real this time, I can feel it!”
 
Sherlock was about to ask what she meant by ‘this time’, but she spoke before he could formulate his question.
 
“Will you live in the manor?” she asked, her eyes sparkling with excitement, “I wish your father’s house was available, but you understand that I can’t throw Jim and Sebastian out.”
 
“John suggested buying a small portion of land on Sailboat Bay,” Sherlock answered, and he looked almost coy, “he wants to ask your tenants to form a team and build a small house,” he added, and Aunt Martha gripped his arm again.
 
“Sherlock! This is so exciting! Something about your engagement to Molly seemed wrong, but John Watson is perfect and he loves you, I can sense it. You love him too, look at you, blushing like a virgin maiden!”
 
Sherlock grunted in annoyance, but blushed an even brighter shade of red when he pictured John’s hot mouth on his neck; virgin maiden was a wrong comparison on both accounts.
 
“Aunt Martha! I will not be part of this discussion if you continue to shower me with such nonsense,” he said, and he wanted to sound offended, but relief and affection seeped through his tone.
 
“Don’t be too hard on me,” Martha said, “you announce that you’re getting married to the most amazing man, and you expect me to sit quietly and watch the landscapes? Surely you can’t be serious,” she added with a grin.
 
Sherlock narrowed his eyes. He had never mentioned marriage, in fact, he had never actually thought about it. Of course, if they started living together, people would expect them to get married. Two grown men living together without being married would most likely cause a scandal, and Sherlock didn’t care at all; he and John had already been the topic of conversations plenty of times before. He could easily imagine what people were saying now that he had cancelled his wedding with Molly Hooper, had left for the Watsons’ manor, and hadn’t been seen in a week. He needed more information, he needed to speak with John, and he needed time, so he asked his aunt to keep quiet about what he had just told her.
 
For the rest of the journey, Sherlock pondered about marriage while Martha tried to pass on every single thing she knew about houses, telling him everything about optimal window sizes, location of the pantry, best material for floors, and kitchen equipment. They didn’t stop home; they drove to Moran and Moriarty’s house where Sherlock asked them whether they could attend a meeting with John and himself the next afternoon. Fortunately, they were both free, and they could hardly contain their excitement, even when Sherlock refused to tell them what the meeting was about. Soon after, Sherlock returned home, but Martha stayed to have dinner with Mrs. Turner.
 
Sleep didn’t come easily to Sherlock that night. After spending the last few nights curled around John, his bed felt empty and cold. He twisted and turned for over an hour before finally falling into a restless sleep.
 
:::
 
The next morning, Sherlock woke up facing the grinning face of the skull, and he smiled back; John’s gift was obviously pleased with the new developments in Sherlock and John’s relationship, which was a significant improvement from its previous judgmental attitude. Aunt Martha was already busy in the kitchen when he sleepily stumbled down the stairs, and she put a steaming cup of tea in front of him when he sat down at the table. He tried to follow what his aunt was saying, tried to participate in the conversation, but his mind was already elsewhere, far east on Spruce Cape. He wondered what John was doing right now, if he had been able to fall asleep easily, and whether he was as excited as he was by their future living arrangement.
 
He left early, knowing he had a long journey ahead of him; he was traveling by foot in order to bring back his small rowboat on his journey back to Sailboat Bay. It wasn’t a pleasant day to take a walk; the clouds were a dark shade of grey, the air was thick with humidity, and the wind was blowing furiously. Rain started falling when Sherlock was halfway to the manor, and in less than fifteen minutes, he was soaked to the bones. The trees were shaking, thunder was drowning all noises around him, and flashes of lightening often ripped the dark sky. The storm only lasted fifteen minutes, but by the time it was over, Sherlock was shivering and longing for another cup of tea and dry clothes.
 
The servant who opened the door almost gasped upon seeing him on the doorstep. He was drenched, his curls were plastered to his head, and his walking boots were covered in mud. Very soon, John greeted him at the door, his mask firmly in place, and the servant retreated back to the kitchen.
 
“Harry left earlier this morning for Rimouski, we are almost alone,” John said mischievously before asking whether he had managed to arrange a meeting with Moran and Moriarty.
 
“Yes,” Sherlock answered, “they are coming early this afternoon, and they seemed beyond themselves with excitement, even if I didn’t tell them what the meeting was about.”
 
John checked his pocket watch and smiled at Sherlock.
 
“Why don’t you accompany me to my bedroom so you can change into dry clothes… or not,” he said before pecking Sherlock lightly on the lips.
 
Sherlock laughed, and he followed John through the familiar corridors, up the stairs, and into his bedroom. The room smelled like John, with a remaining trace of himself, which pleased him immensely, and he smiled fondly as he took a few steps into the room. As soon as the door was closed behind them, John threw himself at Sherlock and started sucking on his neck while unbuttoning his soaked shirt. Sherlock sighed in relief as he pressed one hand to John’s hip, and with the other he untied the mask, took it off, and threw it onto the bed. As soon as it was off, John buried his face in Sherlock’s neck once more.
 
Sherlock was still shivering, but it wasn’t just from the cold anymore. John’s skin felt warm under his fingers, even through the fabric of his clothes. While John was sliding his suspenders down his shoulders, Sherlock tugged on John’s woollen cardigan, and he immediately got the message. He tore his lips away from Sherlock’s neck to remove the garment before sliding Sherlock’s wet shirt to the ground. Meanwhile, Sherlock worked on unbuttoning John’s shirt, his numb fingers fumbling as more and more skin was uncovered, and soon, they were both shirtless. When John unbuttoned Sherlock’s trousers, he was surprised to find out that he was wearing nothing underneath.
 
“You ridiculous man, who goes out in a storm without drawers?”
 
“A practical man? A man in a hurry? An aroused man?” Sherlock answered as he removed his muddy boots and kicked off his trousers.
 
Meanwhile, John removed his own trousers, and once they were both naked, he guided Sherlock to the bed and under the heavy duvet. Immediately, John wrapped his strong arms around Sherlock, and he pressed their bodies together so he could share some of his body heat. He tried to ignore how cold Sherlock’s usually warm skin felt; he only focused on rubbing his skin to stimulate blood circulation and warm him up.
 
Eventually, Sherlock stopped shivering, and John’s caresses became more focused on arousing than warming up. Sherlock followed John’s lead, and he sought his lips with his own. The resulting kiss was demanding and filled with want; no slow dance of tongues, no careful biting, just warmth, wetness, and tongues thrusting against each other frantically. Sherlock could feel John’s arousal pressing against his stomach, the soft skin burning hot against his own. When John broke the kiss, Sherlock protested, but he didn’t have time to linger on the lack of doctor mouth on his own, because John manoeuvred them until Sherlock was on his back, John straddling his thighs.
 
Their erect cocks were inches away from each other, and John squeezed them together with one hand while caressing Sherlock’s sides with the other. Sherlock moaned, and he pushed his head so violently into the pillow that a few feathers flew out. His left hand joined John’s, and that their entwined fingers pumped their cocks together, at first slowly, but building a faster rhythm fuelled by their combined languorous moans and throaty panting.
 
John’s vocabulary was reduced to Sherlock’s name, and he used it repeatedly while rutting against his thighs to seek a desperately needed friction. Sherlock’s head was thrown back and he was biting his lower lip, but small whimpers still managed to escape his mouth. He could feel himself getting closer and closer to climax, and he tightened his grip on their members, John doing the same until the pressure was too much and the need for release almost unbearable. Sherlock felt his cock twitch, and he arched his back as semen spilled onto their joined hands and both their stomachs. His thighs were shaking and waves of warm pleasure were running through his body, starting from his groin and traveling to his extremities in a steady pulsing rhythm. He was breathing fast, and his eyes were squeezed so tightly shut that all he could see were splashes of colors. He wasn’t even aware that he had stopped stroking, but he heard John’s cry of ecstasy, and felt his semen splattering his stomach and softening cock.
 
Once he was spent, the muscles holding John up gave out, and he sprawled down on top of Sherlock, smearing semen onto his own stomach in the process. He pressed his open mouth to Sherlock’s neck; not quite a kiss, but it was all he could muster in his exhausted state. Sherlock was gently stroking his back, and he was so serene and drowned in bliss that he would have slept if Sherlock hadn’t pinched one of his buttocks. He groaned in response, and Sherlock laughed softly.
 
“Get up,” Sherlock said, “we need to get cleaned up before the married ones arrive.”
 
“Why don’t you get up?” John asked, the sound muffled by Sherlock’s neck.
 
“Because there’s a heavy doctor on my chest,” he answered playfully, and John groaned again, but he got up and went to his bathroom to soak two flannels that he brought back, tossing one at Sherlock’s smug face. They were rubbing the semen off their stomachs when there was a sudden knock on the door.
 
“Doctor Watson? There are two people here to see you,” the servant said.
 
“Please show them to the living room, I’ll be right with them,” he said while Sherlock stifled his laughter into a pillow.
 
“You see, that’s one of the reasons I suggested we acquire a house of our own,” John told Sherlock while putting on his drawers.
 
Sherlock got off the bed and reluctantly picked up his still soaked trousers, disgusted by the idea of putting them on again.
 
“I don’t suppose you have a pair that will fit me?” he asked John.
 
John rummaged through his cabinet until he found a pair of dark brown trousers.
 
“Those are too long, and I haven’t had time to have them altered. The waist won’t fit, and they will still be too short for you, but I think it’s better than your wet ones.”
 
Sherlock thanked him and put the trousers on. As predicted, they were too big at the waist and a few inches too short, but his suspenders would fix the waist problem and once he had his boots on they didn’t seem that short. He also borrowed a shirt from John, rolled the sleeves up, and tucked it in the trousers.
 
“You look handsome,” John said as he pulled Sherlock to him using his suspenders, and he kissed him fully on the lips.
 
“So do you,” Sherlock replied, and John blushed as he picked up his mask and put it on, deftly tying the small cords on the back of his head. Then, after sharing one last kiss, they joined the two gentlemen waiting for them in the living room.
 
:::
 
Sebastian Moran and Jim Moriarty arrived earlier than expected at the manor; because of the storm, they had predicted the road would be muddy and difficult, so they had left early. However, it wasn’t as bad as expected, which is why they were currently sitting alone in the Watsons’ living room. The manor, of course, was familiar; they had worked on its constructions a few years back, and it was nice to revisit an old workplace.
 
They were discussing the type of wood they had used for the mouldings when John and Sherlock entered. At once, Moran and Moriarty got up to greet them, and Moriarty elbowed his husband as discreetly as possible, hoping he would notice too. Sherlock’s hair was damp and wilder than usual, as if it had started drying while his head had been resting on a pillow. His lips were red, and his opened collar showed a red mark on his neck, the kind of mark Sebastian liked to leave on Jim’s inner thigh by sucking on the skin hard enough to burst blood vessels underneath. Both Sherlock and John seemed a little more out of breath than descending stairs could explain, and what they could see of John’s face seemed unnaturally flushed.
 
“Doctor Watson!” Moran exclaimed, “It is such a pleasure to meet you at last! I’m Sebastian Moran,” he said as he warmly shook John’s hand.
 
From the side, Sherlock could focus his attention on John, and he noticed that he nervously licked his lips when Moran looked at him and extended his hand. It took a few seconds for John to recognize that the man in front of him wasn’t expressing any sign of horror, and when that fact settled in, John smiled warmly and Sherlock let out the breath he had been holding.
 
“Thank you Mr. Moran, it’s nice to meet you too,” John said.
 
“Please, call me Sebastian,” he said, and John nodded in agreement.
 
“Only if you call me John.”
 
“And I am James Moriarty, but call me Jim,” he said while shaking John’s hand.
 
Jim sat with his husband on the couch, while Sherlock and John took place on the settee so the two couples were facing each other. They chatted pleasantly for a while, until a servant brought them tea and biscuits. Then, John tackled the subject he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about since he and Sherlock had first discussed it.
 
“You must be wondering why Sherlock and I asked you to meet us here. Of course, I was curious to meet you; Sherlock told me all about your conversations at Gregory Lestrade’s wedding and during your Christmas reception, and I must admit I was intrigued, but the real reason is because we have something to ask you, something quite big actually.”
 
Jim’s eyes widened with interest, and he nodded enthusiastically while gesturing for John to go ahead.
 
“We started talking about living together,” Sherlock started, and Jim gasped, squeezing Sebastian’s arm tightly as he did so.
 
Sherlock couldn’t repress a smile; his aunt had reacted in pretty much the same way. John waited until he had Jim’s attention again before continuing.
 
“The manor is big enough, but you’ve met my sister, so you probably understand why I don’t want us to live here,” he said, and Sebastian gave a nod of approval.
 
“We would like to buy a small parcel of land on Sailboat Bay and have a small house built there,” John added.
 
“Yes, yes of course!” Sebastian enthused, guessing what Sherlock and John wanted to ask.
 
John laughed at Sebastian’s eagerness, a clear and genuine laugh that made something warm swell up deep in Sherlock’s stomach.
 
“What we wanted to ask,” John continued, “is whether you will accept to work as our architects.”
 
“Of course we will,” Jim said, “we offered our help before, and the offer still stands.”
 
“We will do anything we can do to help,” Sebastian added, “and you won’t believe how nice your house will be.”
 
For the rest of the afternoon, they mostly discussed house plans. Sherlock and John told their two architects all the ideas they had had, and Jim noted everything in a leather-bound notebook. When the afternoon was drawing to an end, John decided to ask all the questions he had previously asked Sherlock about Sebastian and Jim’s marriage. The two men were patient, and they answered all the questions with enthusiasm and fondness; it was obvious they were still smitten with each other, even after all those years together. John and Sherlock learned that Sebastian and Jim had met when they were seventeen and fifteen respectively. They had been friends, then lovers, before finally getting married eight years later.
 
“We come from very traditional families, it’s an understatement to say they were not supportive, but what could they do? We were young and in love, we couldn’t get our hands off each other…oh but I suppose you can understand that,” Jim said while raising an eyebrow at Sherlock.
 
Both Sherlock and John blushed a fiery shade of crimson, and Sebastian’s lips twisted upwards as he tried to suppress a smile. In order to divert the married men’s attention from his and Sherlock’s obvious discomfort, John asked another question.
 
“Who proposed, then?” he said, and Jim took his partner’s hand to stroke his knuckles amorously.
 
“He did,” Jim answered, “he’s such a romantic fool. He brought me to the top of the mountain where we had shared our first kiss.”
 
“Romantic fool or not, I didn’t have to beg for his hand; he practically jumped on me before I could even finish to propose!” Sebastian added, making Jim and John laugh.
 
Very soon, Sebastian and Jim returned home, as did Sherlock, but not before he had changed back into his now almost dry clothes and kissed John until they were both breathless. Later, when he was alone in his bed, he smiled at the skull and thought about Sebastian and Jim’s relationship. It was now extremely clear why they had been reminded of themselves when they had first heard about Sherlock and John having been spotted in an embrace among the trees. Sherlock closed his eyes and wondered what it would be like to be married to John. Probably not that different from just living with him, but he had noticed the way Jim had sometimes glanced at Sebastian’s ring; there was something possessive about the very small gesture, and Sherlock found that he wasn’t opposed to the idea of a small reminder that John was his, that he was John’s.
 
Also, a voice that he was trying to ignore kept reminding him that getting married would shelter John from another scandal, would protect him from the petty rumours bound to circulate about them. Sherlock didn’t mind the other villager’s opinion, but kind and respectful John didn’t deserve to be the target of the villager’s contempt any more than he already was. John had been the one to bring peace and quiet in Sherlock’s restless body, if Sherlock could alleviate some of the burden weighting on his ever so strong shoulders, he would seize the opportunity.
 
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Bound in marriage. It sounded nice.
 
Then, when sleep didn’t come, Sherlock thought about different ways to ask for John’s hand in marriage. A weird saying according to him, it wasn’t John’s hand that he wanted, but his whole body with every hair, every freckle, every scar, and every single inch of soft skin. There were so many places where he could ask John to marry him, every one of them filled with memories of a treasure, but he was particularly fond of Enraged Cape under the moonlight where he had first shivered while feeling John’s body close to his. When he finally fell asleep, he was still trying to find the perfect way to ask John to marry him.
 
:::
 
The rest of the month of May went by in a blur. Even if he had officially returned to Sailboat Bay, Sherlock still managed to spend most of his waking time with John. They met every day in a place they had agreed on the day before, but it was usually somewhere on the Watsons’ land in order to avoid being seen by a villager. Martha had confirmed that the spite and anger directed at Sherlock were of epic proportions, and they valued their tranquility too much to readily expose themselves to the scrutinizing eye of some ill intentioned inhabitant. Also, they preferred to spend time in places where they could slowly explore each other’s body without interruption.
 
Martha made frequent trips to the store, and she talked a lot with Mrs. Lestrade, so she was well informed on what was being said about her nephew around town. Molly Hooper, of course, was crestfallen, and her family was furious. They felt betrayed, as though they had been used, and they wanted nothing to do with Sherlock and the people associating with him. Sarah Lestrade had one of the less enviable positions in the conflict; she was torn between her best friend whose heart had been shattered by Sherlock, and her husband who remained loyal to Sherlock. She wished the peace would return, but meanwhile, she thought Molly needed her comfort more, so she was officially on her side. However, late at night, when Gregory was holding her tightly in his arms and telling her about the treasure hunt John had orchestrated, she couldn’t help thinking that Sherlock was probably living a love story that had only been heard of in fairy tales.
 
The Lestrades were all on Sherlock’s side; they loved him dearly, knew how important he was to Gregory, and although they couldn’t deny that what he had done was wrong and incredibly stupid, they believed he had had valid reasons to break off the engagement. However, most people didn’t see it that way, and more than ever, Sherlock was at the center of the villager’s conversations. Gregory was very invested in putting an end to the rumours, and any customer who was caught speaking ill of his friend was given a good talking-to that easily competed with those given by the strictest fathers in Sainte-Cécile. When the word got out that Sherlock had been living in the manor, Gregory berated anyone who had something rude to say on the matter. He told anyone who would listen that John Watson had been sick, and that Sherlock had selflessly helped take care of him. Very soon, the gossiping villagers were so scared of Gregory’s wrath that they kept quiet while they were in the store.
 
The following Sunday night dinner was attended by the regulars, except Molly and Sherlock, the former because she was too upset to face a small crowd of Sherlock supporters, and the latter because he was sprawled out naked on the beach of Lover’s Island with John over him, justifying the island’s name. As promised, Sherlock and John’s plan of living together wasn’t mentioned by Martha, Jim, or Sebastian, but the main topic of conversation was the fact that the three had finally met Harry Watson’s masked brother. Those who had met him answered every single questions the others had, and they raved incessantly about his amiable dispositions, his kindness, his charm, his gorgeous eyes, and his beautiful smile. Gregory felt a little jealous that Moran and Moriarty had met John. He could understand that Mrs. Hudson had been the first one to meet him, but he had always thought he was closer to Sherlock than the married ones. Before dessert was over, he slipped into the store and wrote a short note for Sherlock that he gave to Mrs. Hudson before she left.
 
Sherlock,
 
I miss you, old friend. Chess game soon? Also, I’d like to meet the man who stole your heart, if you both want to. You know where to find me,
 
Gregory
 
Sherlock wasn’t surprised when his aunt handed him the carefully folded piece of paper. Gregory, of course, had been at the weekly dinner with their little group, and he had heard all about John from Martha, Jim, and Sebastian; it wasn’t surprising that he also wanted to meet him. From what he had observed during John’s meetings with Aunt Martha and the married ones, things had gone well enough that he didn’t doubt Gregory would get to meet John sooner than later. He made a mental note to discuss the idea with John the next day.
 
:::
 
Three days later, Gregory was standing awkwardly on the doorstep of the Watsons’ manor, waiting for someone to let him in. He was nervous, almost as nervous as he had been in the church while waiting for his bride to enter. It wasn’t the fact that he was about to meet John Watson that was making his stomach churn, after all, everyone who had met him agreed that there was nothing about him that justified being nicknamed The Beast. What was making him nervous was his own reaction. As much as he was excited to meet John, he was afraid his face would betray him and show some sign of aversion, or worse, pity. While waiting for the door to open, he tried to muster all of his strength to control his facial expression, which he suspected made him look constipated, but he could settle for constipated; it was far better than looking appalled.
 
When the door finally opened, he was greeted by Sherlock’s grinning face. He was carrying a heavy looking chessboard under one arm, and he had a velvet pouch in one hand that probably contained the chess pieces. Behind him, John Watson – unmistakable because of brown leather mask – was struggling with a big basket.
 
“Gregory! Good, you’re on time,” Sherlock said as he got out the door, making way for John.
 
“Please meet my friend, John Watson,” he added.
 
John switched the basket handle from his right hand to his left to shake Gregory’s extended hand. The first thing Gregory noticed when he looked at him was that his eyes were indeed beautiful; a dark blue that made him forget everything about the mask when he looked directly into them. He also noticed the apprehension in those big blue eyes, and immediately he felt the need to make it better, to erase the damages made by dozens of hardhearted people that had looked at him with disgust. He gave him his best smile, and he felt John’s traits loosening as he smiled back.
 
“It’s nice to meet you!” Gregory said, “You have no idea how much Sherlock talked about you.”
 
“Oh hush!” Sherlock told his friend, and John laughed, the sound so pleasant that Gregory immediately wanted to hear it again.
 
“You should have heard him, it was impossible to shut him up once he got started,” Gregory added, and John laughed again while Sherlock scowled.
 
“It’s such a beautiful day,” John said, “we thought it would be pleasant to eat outside on Enraged Cape.
 
“It sounds lovely,” Gregory answered.
 
The three of them made their way to the edge of Enraged Cape, and they settled on the same large rock that Sherlock and John had sat on before. While John was unpacking the food from the basket, Sherlock opened a bottle of wine and poured them generous glasses. While they were eating, John asked Gregory many questions about his wedding ceremony; questions that he was happy to answer, especially since John didn’t seem reluctant to answer his questions about London and the excitement of living in one of Europe’s largest city.
 
“Are you good at chess?” Gregory asked John once the last mouthful of bread had been swallowed.
 
“Not as good as Sherlock,” he answered before licking a remaining trace of butter on his lower lip, smiling as if it were the most delicious thing he had ever tasted.
 
“Do you want to play?” Gregory inquired and John agreed, taking the chess pieces out of the pouch to place them on the board.
 
While they played and chatted pleasantly, Sherlock stretched and lay down on the rock, his eyes closed as he distractedly listened to the conversation between his two friends. Gregory’s nervousness when he had opened the door had been so obvious he could have observed it from Sailboat Bay, but the tension in his jaw had eased quickly, and he had noticed the same loosening in John soon afterwards. Observing his two friends interacting with each other was a real pleasure; they had gotten along remarkably well almost immediately, and their appreciation for each other seemed genuine and natural. Their conversation was fluid, and they both seemed to enjoy teasing Sherlock, which he didn’t mind if it meant he could watch John’s mouth curl up in a mischievous smile.
 
The sun was warm on his skin as he listened to John and Gregory’s chess game. He mostly kept quiet, but sometimes offered some well-placed comment on their plebeian strategies. At one point, John ran an affectionate hand through his hair, and he took this as an invitation to lay his head in John’s lap. He felt himself blushing when Gregory smiled and winked at him, but he ignored him and closed his eyes again to better enjoy the familiar caress. He lay content until he heard something he had never heard before.
 
“Checkmate!” Gregory cried enthusiastically, and Sherlock propped himself up on one elbow to look at the board curiously, deducing what the final moves had been from the remaining pieces.
 
“Well done,” John said, and Gregory laughed, a little drunk on wine and his victory.
 
“Thank you, it feels like it’s the first game I have won in years,” Gregory said, and John chuckled before asking if he had time for a revenge game.
 
After checking that Sherlock wasn’t too bored (he wasn’t; watching his two friends interacting was fascinating), John and Gregory started a new game, finishing the wine in the process. Gregory’s cheeks were red from the alcohol, and he had rolled up his sleeves, while John had opted to take off his woollen cardigan and undo the two first buttons of his shirt. The beautiful June sky was still high and hot, and the air was heavy enough to dampen their skin with a light veil of sweat, but not so much that they suffocated.
 
John won the second game, so of course, they had to play another one in order to determine who was the champion of the day. The two tipsy opponents tried to intimidate each other by sneering and glaring, but they ended up laughing most of the time, their falsely threatening attitudes forgotten. Sherlock, now sitting down to better watch the game, tried to frown at their childish behaviour, but it was hard with the beginning of a small pulling his lips upwards. John’s hand was now resting very low on his back, and sometimes, when Gregory was distracted by his next move, John let one finger wander even lower to stroke the skin under Sherlock’s trousers.
 
In the end, Gregory won the match despite John putting on a very good fight. The sun was slowly making its descent towards the horizon, the leaves were swaying softly under the wind’s caress, and two lonely birds were calling out to each other; the only sound audible over the three men’s lively voices.
 
“Very well played,” John said while he put the chess pieces back into the velvet pouch.
 
“You played very well too, we’ll have to do it again” Gregory replied.
 
“Of course, you are a very pleasant opponent,” John replied, and Gregory smiled at him, all his nervousness of a few hours ago forgotten. He had barely noticed the mask throughout the afternoon, only looking at it when John touched it with small, effective movements to ensure it was still in place.
 
Once it was time for Gregory to leave, Sherlock and John watched him go from their sitting place on Enraged Cape, and as soon as he was out of sight, Sherlock pinned John down and kissed him with force, his tongue sliding against John’s lower lip until he let him in. After a few minutes, John gently pushed Sherlock off to catch his breath; he was panting, his hair was ruffled, and he was clutching Sherlock’s shirt tightly.
 
“Not that I’m complaining, but what’s gotten into you?” John asked, still breathing heavily but smiling widely.
 
“Hmm it’s you,” Sherlock said while peppering John’s neck with small kisses. “Watching you get along with my friend, watching how much he liked you, and watching that red flush on your neck as you drank wine,” he added before licking a long trail up John’s throat until he could gently suck on his Adam’s apple.
 
“I found it all very arousing,” he concluded, and when John breathed his name, Sherlock claimed his mouth once more.
 
He had planned on returning home at the same time as Gregory; Aunt Martha needed his help with moving some furniture around. However, as he leaned down to undo John’s shirt buttons with his teeth, he thought that being a little late wasn’t that dramatic.
 
Next chapter.

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Date: 2011-11-15 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jordan-frog.livejournal.com
vcstinjybtrxvo yay update! I really, really love this story. Everyone in it (at least the main characters) are adorable and realistic and beautiful!

Date: 2011-11-15 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabrinaphynn.livejournal.com
All the warm fuzzies I get from this will keep me going for a while. Tis lovely. :D

Date: 2011-11-16 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mattsloved1.livejournal.com
This is such an adorable story and I have to admit my favorite chapters are when the two are happily together. I'm glad John is finally being accepted by good people. The only thing I'm sad about is the fact that this story is almost finished. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Date: 2011-11-16 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brandie42.livejournal.com
I am gooey and fuzzy and I shouldn't have had that energy drink because this is all just too much (the right amount?) of fluff!!! I love this chapter and it makes me want to shop for mine and my husband's dream house (that we won't be able to buy for another three years). So so sweet!!! Can't wait to see who proposes (though I hope it's Sherlock in a horribly romantic way since John would absolutely love that (and totally deserves it!))

Date: 2011-11-16 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rox712.livejournal.com
Not only YAY an update! but YAY a very large update!!

Wonderful as ever, but I must say that the sentences between Martha and John when they first met are my all time favorites. So sweet and sad and hopeful. I had a tear in my eye.

Date: 2011-11-16 11:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xjill.livejournal.com
smiles, just smiles. sigh of content.
Edited Date: 2011-11-16 11:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-16 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyprydian.livejournal.com
*Sigh*

I really love this fic because, even though there is angst, it is mostly calm fluff.

However, as he leaned down to undo John’s shirt buttons with his teeth, he thought that being a little late wasn’t that dramatic.
Well now! That's not a bad thing to learn.

Date: 2011-11-16 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anarion.livejournal.com
Update! And it's sooo fluffy!

How are you sweetie? All good?
*hugs*

Date: 2011-11-16 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rte-175.livejournal.com
Here you were, gone on a trip, and come back and write this amazingly long, detailed, fluffy fic! You are too good to us! Loving the resolution of the story and how everyone loves John almost as much as Sherlock does. :-)

Date: 2011-11-17 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eightnoon.livejournal.com
Aw yes, another lovely chapter with the boys. I'm glad that John can finally meet some very decent people and Sherlock's friends.

Date: 2011-11-20 09:07 am (UTC)
ext_157015: Girl Genius (Everything I Like)
From: [identity profile] noirrosaleen.livejournal.com
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE LOVE!!!

Although small note:

he practically jumped on me before I could even finish to propose!”

Possibly want to say "before I could even finish proposing" or "finish the proposal"?

Also:

He gave him his best smile, and he felt John’s traits loosening as he smiled back.

...not sure what you mean by traits...

...but other than that, loved loved loved this chapter! *spins you around* This story is SO lovely!
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