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Title: This Man's Heart - Chapter 21
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None.
Pairing: Sherlock/John.
Word count: 2526
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

Evening everyone! I will be away from home tomorrow all day, and since I was late last week, I decided to be early instead this week. You're all incredibly amazing, and again I want to thank you for your support; you were there even when I was sick of this story, and your lovely comments were a fantastic incentive to continue. I had this weird feeling earlier when I realized there are only four chapters left counting this one, and a part of me can't believe this will be over soon. I hope you will enjoy the end as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Chapter 21

Sherlock didn’t sleep at all that night; he spent long hours with his head pillowed on John’s chest, sometimes tracing lazy shapes on his torso and enjoying how it made John smile and twitch in his sleep. With the heavy curtains covering the windows, Sherlock couldn’t determine what time it was or how long John had been asleep, but he didn’t care; he was content just to lay there with his head close to John’s heart. Not a week had passed since his arrival in the manor to fight for his friend’s life, and he already felt accustomed to John’s face; his scars were part of him, and he loved every single part of John.
 
When John woke up, it was to the sight of Sherlock’s big, curious eyes fixed upon him. A few minutes before, Sherlock had observed the signs of John waking up, and he was watching the process with interest, staring at his face until he sleepily blinked several times and truly opened his eyes. John chuckled when he saw his friend’s gray eyes upon him, and he yawned.
 
“Well, hello there Mr. Holmes,” he said, his voice hoarse from disuse.
 
“Hmm, hello doctor Watson,” Sherlock replied with a smile while sliding a finger down John’s chest.
 
They stared at each other for a long time, both smiling while thinking of how comfortable they felt. It was warm under the heavy duvet, they were together, they were naked, and they were pressed against each other; it was blissfully peaceful.
 
“Are you going to stand there on ceremony or are you going to kiss me?” John finally asked.
 
Sherlock didn’t need to be told twice; he lowered his head and teasingly brushed his lips over John’s before slightly biting his lower lip. John groaned and tried to catch Sherlock’s lips between his, but he kept pulling away, tempting him. They both laughed, and Sherlock was about to put an end to his teasing when there was a knock on the door.
 
“Oh bloody hell,” John muttered, and Sherlock froze on top of him.
 
“Harry, is that you?” John asked.
 
“Yes,” she answered from the other side of the door.
 
“Come back in fifteen minutes,” he asked, and once they heard her retreating footsteps, they started giggling, and Sherlock buried his face in John’s neck. For a while, they remained silent while Sherlock nuzzled John’s neck, sometimes pressing feather light kisses to his sleep warmed skin.
 
“We have to get dressed,” Sherlock said after a while, and he got up to start rummaging for his clothes.
 
When John started getting off the bed, Sherlock was immediately by his side, ready to provide the support of his arm, but John’s legs seemed steadier than the night before, and he could walk just fine by himself. He found a pair of trousers and a clean shirt, and he got dressed while Sherlock looked for his undergarment. He clearly remembered throwing them somewhere, but he had been so desperate by that point that he couldn’t remember where. He finally found them in a dark corner of the room, and was about to put them on when he felt John’s hand on his hip. The hand caressed his side, running up and down his smooth skin while John devoured him with his eyes.
 
“You’re so beautiful,” John said as he pulled Sherlock close to kiss him passionately.
 
Sherlock moaned, and their joined mouths vibrated with the muffled sound. John’s hand slid down Sherlock’s side once more, but instead of going up again, he dipped lower to grab a handful of his ass, which elicited another moan from Sherlock. They were both half-hard already, both needy and wanting, but Harry was coming back soon, and Sherlock was still as naked as the day he was born, so he pulled away and started reluctantly putting his clothes on. When he looked back at John, he was startled to see him wearing his mask. He had gotten so used to seeing him without it during the last week that the sight felt odd.
 
When Harry entered, Sherlock grabbed his coat and left the room to give them some privacy. He decided to go out for a walk, his familiar woollen coat feeling heavy and comforting on his shoulders. He walked up to Enraged Cape, from there he could see Aunt Martha’s small house on Sailboat Bay. He sat on the rock that had witnessed his and John’s first timid touch, as well as the dizziness it had caused, and he looked at his home, wondering what his life would be like from that day on. John was better, very soon Sherlock would have no reason to stay with him. Their treasure hunt was over, how would their meetings go? Would the red scarf still be involved? Now that Harry knew that he truly loved her brother, would Sherlock visit him in the manor? Would John visit him in Sailboat Bay? He wondered if Harry would still insist on hiding John from the rest of the world, and if John would continue to indulge her.
 
After about an hour of staring at his house and hoping to see his aunt, he decided to go back to the manor to check whether Harry and John were done talking. He didn't pass anyone while making his way upstairs, and once he was in front of John's bedroom, he pressed his ear to the door, trying to detect whether there were noises coming from inside that would indicate Harry's presence. When he didn't hear any voices, he knocked and waited for John to invite him inside.
 
He was sitting on his bed, his back supported by the headboard and his legs crossed in front of him. The brown leather of the mask contrasted with his too pale skin, but he still looked healthier than the day before. Sherlock dragged the desk chair close to the bed, and he sat, waiting for John to tell him about the conversation he and his sister had just had.
 
“I can't believe it,” John said, “she was slightly tipsy. I can't remember the last time I had seen her only slightly tipsy.”
 
“What did she say?” Sherlock asked.
 
“First, she stared at me for what seemed like ages. I had the mask on, of course, and she never asked me to remove it, but she looked at me, and she didn't look revolted, just...resigned I suppose. Then, she talked, and it was strange; she was civil. She said more in an hour than she had since my return from Afghanistan.”
 
Sherlock had to resist the urge to press John, to ask once again what Harry had said. Instead, he crossed one long leg over the other and waited somewhat patiently for the rest of the tale.
 
“She started by saying that she never thought someone would ever love me, and I wanted to punch her until I remembered I used to think the same thing until very recently. A part of me still does, in fact. I can't believe you're really here, that you love me. Why don't you come to bed with me? It’s easier to believe when I can touch you,” John said while patting the mattress beside him.
 
“I have my boots on,” Sherlock answered, and as soon as the words left his lips, he knew it wasn't a good enough reason to keep him out of John's bed. He removed his boots and jumped on the bed, sliding an arm around John's shoulder. Both felt at once the relief that always came from the other’s close presence.
 
“She apologized,” John continued, “she said she should never have insisted on keeping me away from everyone. I told her she never would have succeeded if I hadn’t wanted to stay away from everyone anyway. She said that, from now on, I was free to see whomever I want whenever I want, which, I think, means she doesn’t understand, but I let it go, I didn’t want to fight. I don’t think she truly realizes what she did wrong.”
 
“I could talk to her, I’m not scared of her,” Sherlock offered, and John squeezed his knee affectionately.
 
“No, it’s fine. If she stops looking at me like I’m a decomposing corpse, I’ll be happy. And hell, even if she doesn’t, I’ve lived in those conditions before, I can do it again.”
 
“Do you miss it sometimes? The presence of other people?”
 
“No. Yes. I mean I don’t miss gossiping and drama, and I have no desire to happily chat on the church steps. I want to be happy, and I believe I already have all I need to be happy,” John answered, and he turned to kiss Sherlock’s temple.
 
“However,” John added, “if you want, I wouldn’t be averse to meeting those few people who gravitate around you. Perhaps not right now, but eventually.”
 
“If you meet them, you will like them better than me,” Sherlock said, his voice muffled by John's neck.
 
John laughed, throwing his head back and exposing more of his neck, which Sherlock took as an invitation, so he started kissing the underside of John's jaw.
 
“I don't doubt it,” John said mischievously, “perhaps you could introduce me to that poor girl you left at the altar; I bet that, in her eyes, I'd look far less monstrous than you do.”
 
Sherlock pinched John's side, and they both laughed when John tried to squirm away. He didn’t make it very far; Sherlock still had an arm around him, and he tightened his grip.
 
“Harry talked to me about it while you were unconscious,” Sherlock said when he remembered the brief conversation he had had with John’s sister a few days before.
 
“She said I could invite Aunt Martha over if it was fine with you.”
 
“I would really love to meet her; she seems very nice, but I’m not sure. Very nice people have run away from me before on plenty of occasions. I’m done with that part of my life; I’m done with the screams and disgust.”
 
John did have everything he needed to be happy; he had the beautiful landscapes of Sainte-Cécile and all the beautiful treasures he had shown Sherlock, he had the books in his library, and most importantly, he had Sherlock. For as long as he wanted him. It was a somewhat fragile balance, one that Sherlock had broken before, and that he had promised himself never to damage it ever again.
 
“Do you want me to meet them?” John asked cautiously after a few seconds.
 
“I don’t really care. I’ll continue to see them either way, but I know them, I know they will hope to meet you someday, especially Aunt Martha.”
 
“She does sound lovely,” John said.
 
“She is, and she already likes you a lot. Also, her hip is bothering her, so she’s not really in a good enough shape to run away from anyone.”
 
“Idiot,” John said as he rolled his eyes, but he was smiling.
 
Part of him wanted to refuse, to stay in the comfort of his familiar routine, and to continue avoiding contact with other people. Another part of him was curious to see if it would be different now that he was loved. Perhaps something had changed within him, something that would make him less horrible and terrifying. He sure felt like a different man since he had made a friend, and maybe people would be able to perceive that.
 
He had no desire to walk to the village to meet total strangers, but Mrs. Hudson and the small number of people who were part of Sherlock’s life outside himself intrigued him. Once, in Fairy Cave, Sherlock had expressed the desire to spy on John while he was alone in his house, to observe the life he wasn’t a part of, and right now, John felt the same kind of curiosity. Sherlock had given him at least a hundred proofs that he was trustworthy, that he wanted the best for him, and that he never wanted to let anyone, including himself, hurt him. Surely he would never put him in a situation that would result in pain.
 
“If I decide to do this, I want to wear my mask,” he added.
 
“You don't need to wear it now,” Sherlock said before kissing John's temple, just beside the mask.
 
“Are you sure you don't mind?” John asked and under his casual attitude, it was easy to detect the vulnerability caused by many years of inspiring horror in others.
 
“I love you, you're beautiful, take it off so I can kiss you properly.”
 
John did as Sherlock asked, and for the next hour, they were thoroughly immersed in each other. It was unsafe to get undressed; now that Harry knew John felt better, nothing stopped her from interrupting, but they kissed hungrily nonetheless, hands snaking under clothes to feel the warm skin underneath. The rest of the day was spent in bed, Sherlock only leaving the room to pick up a few books from John’s library downstairs. They took turns reading to each other, only pausing to kiss, nap, or eat.
 
Later, while they were eating in John’s bed, the topic of a potential meeting with the small group of people gravitating around Sherlock came up again. At first, Sherlock was a bit uncertain; as much as he wanted to make John a bigger part of his life and include him even further in his small universe, he didn’t want to make him do something that would make him uncomfortable. However, the more they talked, the more enthusiasm John showed. He kept asking questions, eager to know more about Aunt Martha’s astronomy knowledge, Moran and Moriarty’s marriage and careers, Gregory’s new house, Mr. Lestrade preferred brand of scotch, and much more. There were a lot of questions that Sherlock couldn’t answer, most of them involved relationships or feelings, and John kept asking about those, just because he thoroughly enjoyed the bewilderment on Sherlock’s face.
 
“I’m not asking them!” Sherlock answered for the umpteenth time when John asked how Moran and Moriarty had met.
 
Sherlock tried to look irritated, but it was difficult when a part of him felt extremely flattered that John wanted to know more about the people he found the most interesting.
 
“I want to meet Mrs. Hudson,” John said suddenly, “ideally soon because the more I think about it, the more I’m excited by the prospect.”
 
“Good, she’ll be very happy,” Sherlock replied while grinning at John, “but I hope you know what effect that will have. Moran and Moriarty will hear about it, and they will undoubtedly start bothering me with offers of tea and ears again.”
 
“Ears are great with tea, I’m quite fond of them,” John said before pushing himself up to gently bite Sherlock’s earlobe.
 
“I’m quite fond of you, too,” he added before claiming Sherlock’s mouth.
 
“Do you think we could do it tomorrow?” John asked once their lips parted,
“I could send one of the servants to invite her over for tea tomorrow.”
 
“As you wish,” Sherlock replied, “but since you’re feeling better, she will expect me to go back home with her.”
 
They both knew Sherlock had to leave; there was no logical reason for him to stay now that John wasn’t sick anymore. It wasn’t something they liked to think about; being in each other’s company all the time during the last few days had been a dream come true, and thinking about their impending separation was almost painful.
 
“I know,” John said, “and I hate that we’ll be apart, no matter how briefly.”
 
“We could move to Fairy Cave,” Sherlock suggested, and John laughed.
 
“That would be lovely,” John replied before falling silent for a few seconds, thinking.
 
“We could live together, you know,” he said after a while. “Not here, because Harry is insufferable, but somewhere nice, perhaps a small house in a quiet place. Like Sailboat Bay.”
 
Sherlock didn’t say anything at first; there were no words strong enough to express how thrilled the idea of living with John was making him feel. Waking up in the same bed every morning, having breakfast together, spending long hours reading to each other, revisiting all the treasures of Sainte-Cécile and discovering new ones, snuggling up in front of a burning fireplace before retreating to the bedroom to be as loud as they wished while expressing their love for each other with their bodies. He wanted to make John moan for hours, he wanted to lick him all over until he couldn’t hold back his cries of ecstasy, and once they found release, he wanted to make John howl and shiver by starting again.
 
“Yes, yes, please yes,” Sherlock murmured between kisses, and John’s grin was so wide it seemed as though it would reach his ears.
 
“Perhaps a meeting with Moran and Moriarty should happen soon, then. I’ve heard they are the best carpenters in Sainte-Cécile, and I bet they will agree to form a team to build us a house if we offer enough tea and ears.”
 
The rest of the evening was spent making fantasy plans for their future home. John wanted a library, Sherlock wanted a room dedicated to chemistry and his various experiments. Both agreed that an enormous bed and the biggest tub available were necessary, as well as a fireplace with plush cushions in front of it. John insisted there would be no animal heads in the house as he had seen enough of them in the manor, but Sherlock suggested that the rule should only apply to stuffed animals, since animal heads could be useful in his experiments. At one point, John headed downstairs to send a servant to Mrs. Hudson’s house with an invitation to join them for tea the next day, and when he came back up, Sherlock was waiting for him wearing nothing but his undergarment and a devilishly smug smile. John locked the door, and showing physical strength he hadn’t shown in weeks, he ran to the bed and jumped in to join Sherlock.
 
Next chapter.

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Ellie L.

December 2012

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