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Title: This Man's Heart - Chapter 15
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None.
Word count: 1676
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

Dear Readers,
I'm sorry.

Chapter 15

They were kissing. Kissing! Sherlock felt as though he was letting out a breath he had been holding all his life. He could feel the mask against his nose as John tilted his head to a better angle, and when John licked his lower lip in invitation, Sherlock let him in willingly, parting his lips to let out a small sigh. They both had a hand on the other’s neck, trying to be closer, and when Sherlock pulled John to him using the hand resting on his lower back, their groins met, and their combined gasps echoed loudly in the small library. However, they weren’t loud enough to cover the noises of slamming doors and screams getting closer.

Harry Watson had planned the whole thing. She had lied to her brother about the duration of the trip in order to catch him and his friend in whatever they were doing. On one of her trips to the store, she had heard a disturbing rumour, something about her brother and that strange Holmes boy having been spotted locked in an embrace while out in the woods.

Upon hearing his sister’s screams, John fervently pressed his hands to the sides of Sherlock’s face, and he looked straight into his eyes.

“Please, Sherlock, please don’t move. Stay here, it’s fine. It’s all going to be fine”, he said before leaving him and closing the door of the small library.

As soon as John was gone, Sherlock got up and glued his ear to the door to hear what was going on in the next room. He couldn’t see, but from what he could hear, Harry was hysterical. He could hear her bellowing that John had disobeyed her, lied to her, and that he had made a fool of himself and of the Watson name.

A table was violently turned over, and Sherlock could hear objects falling to the floor in a loud clatter. Thinking about the multitude of weapons in the other room, about their easy access, and about the furious hunter, he imagined the worst and, forgetting all about John’s words, he rushed out and into the other room.

Harry Watson was hammering John’s chest with her fists, and she was screaming abuse while he – taller and stronger than his sister – was watching her with inscrutable eyes. Suddenly, John noticed Sherlock, and vivid apprehension set his blue eyes on fire. Harry noticed, turned around, and discovered the other man’s presence.

“I knew it!” she roared as she took a few steps towards Sherlock.

John reacted quickly; he ran in the same direction, and he stopped halfway between Harry and Sherlock, shooting the latter a glance heavy with reproach. Secretly, Sherlock had dreamt of this moment, hoping to get the chance to spit his anger in the cruel sister’s face. He wanted to call her a jailer and a torturer, to force her to leave her brother alone, and to destroy the beast she had created in the first place by isolating him and showering him with contempt and shame. However, when the moment presented itself in this immense room where dead animals seemed to be staring at him, faced with John’s reproachful eyes and crushed by Harry’s hatred, he felt incredibly small and defenseless. Helplessness rooted him to the spot.

Harry respected the distance imposed by her brother as she examined Sherlock disdainfully. She didn’t even notice that his eyes were as grey as the sky during a winter storm, and she didn’t notice that they were fixed on her brother, both pleading and sad. What she noticed, however, were John’s eyes in which she read everything she had feared to see.

Her brother was in love. It’s something she had dreaded since the accident, something she had tried to avoid by keeping John away from everyone, because, from her point of view, it was grotesque. Neither woman nor man could ever fall for someone disfigured in such a way; horror and love couldn’t be associated.

“Look at him!” she bellowed at Sherlock. “His eyes speak volumes, just look at him!”

Sherlock couldn’t move. He had been yelled at numerous times, had been ridiculed for most of his life, had endured sarcasm, mockery, and hateful remarks, but never had someone looked at him with such hate.

“He loves you!” Harry screamed. “He loves you like a fool. Like your father loved your mother, the teasing whore. And you’re just like her. But you’re clever, much cleverer than she was. You seduced a rich man….”

She continued, but Sherlock couldn’t hear anymore, his heart was beating so hard it was drowning out words. He felt dizzy and nauseated, but he understood that John loved him, and as he searched his friend’s blue eyes, he couldn’t see any denial.

John got closer. He couldn’t stand to see his friend looking so lost and distressed, but he was powerless and couldn’t shut his sister up. He couldn’t deny that he was in love with Sherlock. He had been since the first time he had brought him to Lover’s Island, since the first time he had sparked a smile on those plump lips, had encountered the brilliant mind, had heard the deep voice and felt, as a result, the warmth of a thousand suns on his skin. John knew he loved Sherlock. There wasn’t any bigger certitude.

Yet, John had promised himself he would never fall in love. The chances of someone reciprocating his feelings were extremely thin. Clara had been able to love him unmasked, but she had been family and had loved him before the accident. He couldn’t hope for the same courtesy from anyone else; if his own sister was revolted by his appearance, how could a stranger ever look past what he looked like. He had consoled himself by thinking about the intrigues – joyful and sorrowful – hidden in the pages bound under leather covers. Nonetheless, it had happened anyway. He had been curious after the first encounter with Sherlock, while both of them had been hiding from Harry. After the conversation on pieces of paper slid under a door, he had been infatuated. Since their first proper meeting, he was in love. In love with the peculiar and lonely man from Sailboat Bay.

At first, he had tried convincing himself that it didn’t truly count. Sherlock was so exceptional and unique; it was like loving an elf. Then, he had invented the game, the treasure hunt; he had given them ten meetings. He couldn’t show him his face, but he could try to show him the world through his eyes. The plan had been to enjoy Sherlock’s formidable presence during the ten meetings, then resume his normal life with his head filled with memories, images, and feelings, but somewhere along the way he had realized he couldn’t handle the thought of a life without his best friend.

So he had thought about the perfect tenth treasure. If Sherlock wasn’t bored with him, if he was interested in pursuing their relationship, the tenth treasure opened the door to an infinite world. He would read to him, pages and pages. In the Fairy Cave, or on the border of Salty Swamp, among the eider nests, in a boat on the open sea, on the rocks of Enraged Cape, or on the other side of the world. There was no other way, their story had to last, but if he didn’t want Sherlock to fall apart, if he didn’t want his heart to break, he had to convince him not to listen to the hateful words his sister was shouting. Later, once this was over, he would whisper tenderly into his ear, and shower him with loving, healing words.

John extended a hand that Sherlock, paralyzed, didn’t take. He was shaking, and confronted with Harry’s wrath, he felt smaller than he had ever felt. Yet, he couldn’t stop looking at her. She spotted his gaze on her, and knew she had the upper hand. Ignoring John, she took a few steps towards Sherlock and started shouting again.

“Look at him! He loves you!”

Her voice was shaking with anger, and her eyes were shooting daggers.

“Look at him and say you love him. Him, The Beast. Say you didn’t seduce him because he’s rich enough to buy this whole village!”

“No, I—” was all Sherlock managed to say.

“You’re wrong! The fortune he inherited is even bigger than anything you could ever imagine. So tell me that it’s my brother’s face, and not his wealth you are interested in.”

Sherlock tried to speak once again, but had little success. He was out of his depth, swimming in a kind of madness he wasn’t accustomed to, and he felt as if he was drowning in it. He had never seen such an outpouring of contempt, never imagined such bile in one woman’s heart. He was petrified. As he was trying to understand his agitation, he heard Harry yell the same obsessive phrase one last time.

“Look at him!”

Sherlock looked at John. Harry Watson then extended an arm towards her brother, and in one brutal move she tore the mask off.

The silence was dreadful. John was looking at Sherlock, and Sherlock was looking at John. He saw the holes, the destroyed flesh, the crater where there should have been a cheek, and the gnawed nose. It looked even worse than he had imagined.

However, among the damages, there were the eyes. Two magnificent blue orbs, beautiful and devastating. Standing over the wounds, without the mask casting a shadow over them, they weren’t only moving; they were flooding his whole face until Sherlock couldn’t see anything other than the deep blue silk, the dark velvet, and the shimmering sea.

It was too many sensations (John), too many feelings (John), and Sherlock’s mind was spinning (John). Harry was laughing hysterically (John), the trophies were staring at him (John), and somehow he could hear their laughter too (John). It had to stop, John’s eyes were fixed on him (John), consuming him (John), and he could still feel Harry’s hatred crawling under his skin (John).

Too much.

Sherlock closed his eyes, and he lowered his head.

As the man he loved looked away from his deformed face, John’s world was shattered, and he felt his heart breaking.

“Leave,” he said in a harsh voice that seemed like a whisper compared to Harry’s yelling, but it was much worse. “Leave and don’t come back, I never want to see you again.”

Harry grabbed Sherlock’s forearm and twisted until he was pliant. She manhandled him out of the room, into the corridors, and out the door that she slammed shut behind him.

Next chapter


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Ellie L.

December 2012

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