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[personal profile] ellie_hell
Title: This Man's Heart - Chapter 13
Rating: PG
Warnings: None.
Eventual Sherlock/John.
Word count: 1957
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.

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Chapter 13

Just like John had said, it was profusely raining the next time he tied his scarf to the branch in West Birches Bay. According to Gregory, Harry Watson had recovered from her illness, had resumed going to the store, and was traveling again. However, she still wasn’t mingling with the other villagers, so it was reasonable to assume she hadn’t heard of her brother’s escapades with Sherlock.

It was early November, winter was approaching but was not quite there yet, and it was cold outside. Sherlock had put on his long coat, but he knew it would be drenched before he reached the rendezvous point. He rowed as fast as he could, often jerking his head violently in order to get his soaking wet hair out of his eyes.

As he was pulling his boat out of the water and onto the shore that had already been hardened by the cold, John emerged from the forest where he had tried to shelter himself and the large bag he was carrying from the rain. He guided Sherlock further away to a beach surrounded by rocks, and when they reached a rocky overhang, John dropped to his knees and crawled through the entrance. Sherlock followed, and he discovered the rock was hollowed out, forming an antechamber with a low ceiling leading to a real cave from which they could see a curtain of rain, the shore, and the sea.

Sounds were bouncing off the rock walls, amplified by a resounding effect so powerful the rain seemed deafening. It sounded as is rain was falling inside the cave. No, not quite, it was louder than that. It seemed as though rain was falling all over the Earth, and the echo of that magnificent downpour was impregnating the rock surrounding them.

“I call it the Fairy Cave,” John said as he struck a match and lit up the many candles he had fixed to the walls.

Wax had fallen onto the rock face and the ground, forming hard puddles; a clear indication that John came here often. The candle flames drew moving shadows on the walls, making the cave seem haunted. Sherlock flashed a big smile at his companion; the cave was beautiful, the atmosphere intimate, and they were sheltered from the rain, but still able to enjoy it. John opened the bag he had brought, and took out a pile of dry clothes.

“We will catch our deaths if we stay in our wet clothes, I brought you the same ones I had put in your room when you spent the night in the manor.”

Sherlock thanked him, and he grabbed the offered clothes. In an act of modesty, he turned around and changed slowly, taking his time in order to allow John the privacy he needed to put on his own clothes. Knowing John was standing so close while undressing made him a bit dizzy, but he pushed the thought away and concentrated on buttoning his dry shirt. Once they were both dry and comfortable, they sat in the sand with their backs against the rock wall.

“How was the wedding?” John asked, and Sherlock shrugged.

“Tedious,” was his first response, but then he remembered the strange conversation he had had with Moran and Moriarty.

“We were issued an invitation for tea,” he added.

John shot him a curious glance, and Sherlock didn’t need him to talk to know he had questions.

“Aunt Martha’s tenants, Sebastian Moran and Jim Moriarty—you’ve probably heard of them; your sister hired them when your manor was built. Well, they came to me at the reception, and we had the strangest talk.”

“I’ve never met them, of course, but I’ve heard of them. What did you talk about?”

“At first I thought they wanted to discuss the rumours, but they only wanted to offer tea. Oh, and kind ears, if we ever need some people to talk to.”

John looked as confused as Sherlock had been then, and it was reassuring to see he wasn’t the only one puzzled by the situation.

“But aren’t they afraid of The Beast?” John asked.

“I asked. Not in these words, of course, but they laughed so hard I feared they would break something. It was unsettling.”

“That’s… unusual.”

“Quite. They told me I was a reasonable man, and me choosing you as a friend proves you’re a good person.”

John inched closer, obviously moved. “And then?”

“Then a waltz started playing, and Moriarty had to dance, so they did,” Sherlock replied.

He could still see the fondness in Moran’s eyes as he had watched his husband’s eagerness. It made him wonder what his own face looked like when he looked at John, whether it was obvious he deeply cared for his friend. It also made him want to see whether John looked different when they weren’t together, to see whether his eyes or his smiles were the same, or if he had a special way of looking just at him.

“Why would they invite us? Do you think they seek more information and the attention it would give them if they spread it around town?” John asked.

“I thought about it at first, but they wouldn’t. Aunt Martha would evict them straight away.”

They fell silent for a moment, and Sherlock recalled the beginning of the conversation with the married men, the thing they had said that had made him slightly uncomfortable.

“They said they were like us when they were younger, hiding from family and wandering around the woods.” He left out the part about the kissing, in order not to embarrass his friend.

For a moment, John remained silent while he pondered about what Sherlock had said. Other than his friend, no one had ever tried initiating contact with him since the war, and it felt bizarre, yet not unpleasant.

“How long have they been married?” he asked.

“From the look and state of their wedding rings, considering they both do heavy work outdoors, I’d say around fifteen years. But the way they act together is most perplexing; they look like two people just back from their honeymoon.”

“That’s sweet,” John said, “I think I would have enjoyed being married.”

“Not me!” Sherlock said, so quickly he didn’t know whether he was talking about his own theoretical wedding or John’s.

“Why not?” John asked, and Sherlock could see the smile pulling at the corner of his mouth; he was obviously amused by the conversation.

“It’s boring and predictable. If I were to marry, I am quite certain my brain would slowly rot and die.”

“Plus, you would be the worst husband in the world,” John teased, and Sherlock elbowed him playfully.

They fell in a companionable silence, the rain was still falling violently, but the stone walls were sheltering them from water and wind. Once again, Sherlock felt a pang in his stomach when he thought that this was the penultimate meeting, he couldn’t bear to think that it could all be about to end. However, he didn’t ask, he decided to enjoy John’s presence, and deal with whatever he had planned for the tenth meeting once he was faced with it. He was the one to break the silence after a while.

“I like your treasures.”

“You’re not bored?”

“I’m never bored with you.”

It was true. Something that had been buzzing in him for as long as he could remember was quieted in John’s presence. He had spent most of his life wishing he were somewhere else, doing something else, but he never got that feeling when he was with John. However, when he wasn’t with him, most of the time he wished he were, and he could physically feel John’s absence, just like he could feel hunger or tiredness.

Something had shifted along the way. At first, he had wanted to meet him because of the mask and the mystery surrounding him. Then, there had been the thrill of their first rushed meeting among the trees; his heart had pounded with excitement, and his blood had rushed faster through his veins when he had spotted John. Then, there had been the pieces of paper slid under a door in his big forbidden manor, and on that night, he had caught a glimpse of a person beneath the mystery.

Usually, that’s when he would’ve lost interest, but the contrast between the person he had met and the stories told by the villagers had intrigued him, so when the red scarf had been raised, he had come running. In the following months, he had discovered the kindness, resentment, curiosity, sadness, sense of humour, anger, playfulness, sweet eyes, tender hands….

Was it normal? It’s not something he had ever felt before. It wasn’t like the familiar affection and warm love he felt for Mrs. Hudson, nor was it like the amiable companionship he shared with Gregory, and it certainly had nothing to do with the flickering interest Molly had sparked in him many years ago. What he felt for John was overwhelming and exciting, as though someone had lit a fire in him. It was exciting, breathtaking, surprising, and comforting. It made him feel…exceptionally good. Was it something friends often felt for each other?

“What’s happening in that great head of yours?” John asked, looking extremely pleased with himself, as if he had heard Sherlock’s train of thoughts.

Sherlock smiled back, but didn’t share his thoughts.

“Trying to deduce why my human pillow is sitting so far away,” he said.

John’s smile turned into a soft laugh. “I was the pillow last time, it’s my turn to be comfortable. Spread your legs.”

Sherlock ignored the warmth creeping up his neck, and did as he was told. John sat between his legs, and shifted down until he could lay his head on Sherlock’s shoulder. Unsure of what to do with his hands, Sherlock put them on his own knees, but John laced their fingers together and guided the other man’s arms around his torso.

“I don’t know enough about you,” Sherlock said after a while, “I wish I could spy on you when we’re not together.”

“That’s not disturbing at all,” John said as he stroked Sherlock’s thumb with his own. “Why would you spy on me when you can ask me anything?”

“I want to see what you do when we’re not together, I want to see if you’re different.”

“I can assure you there is nothing interesting to see. I read and I drink tea. Too much tea, actually.”

Sherlock tried to picture it: John wearing his knitted sweaters or cardigans, walking around the manor, sitting in an armchair with a book and a cup of tea. The image was too vague; he needed more data.

“What do you read? Medical texts?”

“Very rarely, I mostly read fiction.”

“I have never read fiction, I don’t see the appeal of reading about things that don’t exist.”

John laughed and Sherlock felt it deep within his chest before it spread to the rest of his body.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. This morning I met a king, and yesterday someone imprisoned by mistake in a cursed jail. Last week, I heard sirens sing, and I met a man willing to fight with windmills. I watched bloody battles, terrifying duels, and incredible massacres. I also saw goblins running in a forest, and I spied on lovers ready to die for each other. I know there is a far away sea haunted by a gigantic whale that munched on a man’s heart, but I also know that I know nothing at all. I know that one life won’t be enough to discover all the treasures – other than rain, dolphins, sea snails, herons, cormorants, eiders, stars, and moon – my heart and mind have the power to hold.”

Sherlock shivered, and he felt goose bumps invading his arms. He wanted to see it too; he wanted a glimpse of the universes John was describing.

“Show me,” Sherlock whispered.

“Maybe,” John answered, and Sherlock barely heard him over the sound of the rain that was still falling.

John stayed silent for a long time before finally asking a question that had been tormenting him ever since Sherlock had mentioned his violin lessons.

“Would you play the violin for me?”

Sherlock rarely played his instrument in front of others, and when he did, it was only for his aunt. However, as soon as John asked, Sherlock knew he not only didn’t mind, but also wanted to.

“Of course I will,” he answered.

“Can you bring it to our next meeting?” John asked again, and Sherlock nodded solemnly.

Even though John couldn’t see him, he felt the movement against the side of his head and he smiled. He had planned the tenth treasure very carefully, and he was quite proud of what he had come up with. If Sherlock got bored once the game was over, at least he would have heard him play once. And if Sherlock was interested in pursuing their friendship beyond the tenth meeting… John preferred not to think about the possibility; he didn’t want to get his hopes up.

Eventually, day turned into night, and John had to go back before his sister noticed his prolonged absence. There was something solemn about their goodbye; both of them knew the treasure hunt was almost over, and both were unsure of what would happen with their friendship once the game was over.

On that night, when Sherlock went to bed, he didn’t change into his usual nightshirt. Instead, he kept the shirt John had brought him, the shirt he had been wearing that night in the manor, the shirt that still smelled intensely of John and of the Fairy Cave. His dreams were filled with John, and all through the night there was a gentle smile on his sleeping face.

Next chapter


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Date: 2011-09-12 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tomoewantsdolls.livejournal.com
*_* I loved this

waiting for more!! :3

Date: 2011-09-12 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anarion.livejournal.com
Sadly I don't have time right now to leave a long comment (still need to do that for the last chapter as well), but I just NEEDED to read it today.

It's beautiful, as always *flails*

Date: 2011-10-17 09:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anarion.livejournal.com
The description of the cave and the rain is still so beautiful!

Knowing John was standing so close while undressing made him a bit dizzy,
Well, anybody here who cannot relate???

“Why would they invite us?
At this point I felt an urgent need to shake both of them... ;)

Oh and you mentioned the piece of paper again! *squee*

What he felt for John was overwhelming and exciting, as though someone had lit a fire in him. It was exciting, breathtaking, surprising, and comforting. It made him feel…exceptionally good. Was it something friends often felt for each other?
Oh yes, sure. *rolls eyes*

John laced their fingers together and guided the other man’s arms around his torso.
Yep, I can so see the friendship thing!

John preferred not to think about the possibility; he didn’t want to get his hopes up.
Argh. Boys!

Sherlock sleeping in the shirt John brought him is so sweet! Very nice way of ending the chapter!

Date: 2011-10-17 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellie_hell.livejournal.com
I couldn't not mention the piece of paper again (and again), I love that small piece of paper!

And yeah, friendship... Well at that point John knows he loves Sherlock, but I imagine him being completely touch-starved, so if all he can get from Sherlock are "friendly cuddles", he'll take them :-)

Date: 2011-09-13 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eightnoon.livejournal.com
Aw, Sherlock is so adorable in his love. I look forward to the next part!

Date: 2011-09-13 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xjill.livejournal.com
Wow, this may be my favorite chapter yet. It was so cozy and lived in and beautiful.

Date: 2011-09-14 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] southerngaelic.livejournal.com
Oh, Sherlock <3333

Date: 2011-09-15 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quirkies.livejournal.com
I am utterly enchanted with this story, the setting, and the slow but encompassing burn that j/s is becoming. enchanted!

Date: 2011-09-15 09:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rte-175.livejournal.com
Lovely. This really taken over my heart. Looking forward to new developments!
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