"These gems have life in them; their colors speak, say what words fail of. " - George Eliot
If you add red to yellow, it turns into orange. If you add two to three, it turns into five. If you add tears and a trembling lip to a no, it sometimes turns into a yes.
Mycroft had started out so sure, insisting that it was entirely impossible, and yet within ten minutes he had broken down to "Well... I mean, between the three of us... Perhaps if we found a part-time nanny..."
I had hugged him so tightly around his neck that he had protested that he couldn't follow through with the promise if I strangled him to death.
I did not see why today was so important. All that was happening was that we were all to meet Mr. Mycroft's boss. Mr. Trevor met his boss every day, so why was this any different?
It must have been, because everyone was making sure I was correct in every way. My hair was scrubbed so much in the bath that my scalp was sore. Mr. Trevor had searched endlessly for the perfect outfit, a white dress with more layers of lace than I had ever seen before, along with white shoes, which I thought only royalty were allowed to wear. He tied white ribbons into my hair, fussing with them until the second before we got out of the hansom.
Dr. Watson said I looked like a little angel. Mr. Sherlock said I looked like a duckling.
Mr. Mycroft had spent a great amount of time teaching me to curtsy properly and giving me what he called a crash course in high etiquette. He seemed so nervous about the event. Mr. Trevor was even worse, but surely the boss of his boss was something to fear. He had insisted I had to leave Bunny at home. I refused. Mr. Trevor had forseen this and purchased a small purse to match my dress in which I could keep him out of sight.
I had thought Mycroft's home was huge, but when we entered the gates I could not believe what I saw. Surely more than one family lived in a place like this. It looked like it could house the better part of London.
Even Mr. Sherlock seemed off, something that was very odd. Mr. Trevor made a move to fuss with my hair again but Mycroft batted his hand away. We followed the servant down the hallway and led us out into the most beautiful garden.
Everything was green except for the roses, which were all kinds of colours. Everything seemed so neat and beautiful that I began to doubt we were even in London anymore.
A woman trailed by attendants approached us. My guardians bowed at the waist, and I dipped into what I hoped was a perfect curtsey. I knew Mycroft would not be mad if it was not, but I wanted to please him so badly.
I must have been correct, for she smiled at me before turning her attention to Sherlock and Dr. Watson. "I have heard so much about the pair of you, and yet we have not met up until now."
The doctor bowed his head. "It is an honour to meet with you, Your Highness."
"Gentlemen, you have time and time again risked life and limb to help preserve the peace and order of your country. The honour is assuredly mine. I am most sorry you were injured on my family's behalf." Her eyes panned over all of us. "That most of you were injured on my family's behalf. Your brother, no doubt, is not used to such things."
Mr. Mycroft's face reddened slightly as she strode before him. "It was a manageable side effect, Your Majesty."
"Being shot twice is hardly a side effect, Mr. Holmes." Was she laughing? It sounded like it. I did not think very many people laughed at Mycroft. "Once again, you have proved yourself worthy of your position, and once again I am in your debt."
"The favour you bestowed was more than repayment, Your Majesty."
I knew what that favour was. There had been much protesting by Mycroft that adoption by an unmarried man took an unfeasible amount of time, and yet after receiving a sealed letter, the paperwork had gone through in a matter of days.
The woman nodded in Mr. Trevor's direction. "And the faithful secretary, silent as ever, sir."
The man gave a nervous nod and a gulp, face as red as a beet. Apparently something about this woman scared him, although I could not imagine what.
"Ah, well. Perhaps some day I will get a word or two out of you." Now her gaze dropped upon me, and a smile spread over her face. "This must be the little heroine that helped recover the missing Ruby."
I felt my face tinge as well. I did not feel that I had a large part in it; I had only told Sherlock and the others what I knew, and I was glad to do that.
"I cannot express how sorry I am that you suffered because of one of my family's heirlooms, Miss Eve, but I am also very thankful that you helped to return it to its proper place. I'd like to give you a gift. It's not extravagant, you seem a but too practical for anything like that, but I do hope you like it."
One of her companions stepped forward with a small box, which she took from him. She knelt before me, waving off Mycroft when he offered to assist her. From it she drew a small silvery plate, made a bracelet by two lengths of links. A small, glittering ruby adorned one edge, and curved script stemmed out from it.
"My staff was informed as soon as your name was finalized," she smiled, fastening it around my wrist. "And I personally made sure that the spelling was right."
I had been given a choice of names. There was a time when I was once called Tessa, accordingly to them, but I picked Eve instead. It was quicker to write. A middle name would involve more choice, although I had a good idea.
Mycroft had not permitted me to pick the name I originally wanted. "It's a male name, Eve, and yes it makes a difference. I don't know why, it simply does!" He had offered the feminine version, and I had settled for that.
I turned my hand to look at the beautiful writing. EVE JOHANNA HOLMES. My name. Mr. Mycroft's last name, because his name was on my paperwork, and Dr. Watson's name as my middle name, because, according to Mycroft, not everything important was in paperwork.
Sherlock had pretended to be in great shock when he said that. Mycroft had then cuffed him upside the head.
"You have three of the most honourable men in London at your side now," the woman whispered to me, face still set in a kind smile. "It will be most interesting to see what you will grow up to achieve." With a sideways glance at Mycroft, she added "Be sure to keep an eye on him, hmm? He'd work himself to the grave if allowed to, and I need him around for quite a while yet."
I curtsied again in thanks, and grinned when she patted my head. I could see that Dr. Watson, Mr. Holmes and Mycroft were smiling as well.
I still did not know just what to call them. Mycroft was legally my father now, I supposed, but a person could only have one father, and to call him that would be to deny Dr. Watson and Sherlock, something I never wanted to do. Besides, from what had been said about the man who was my father at the start, I did not want to connect any of them to him.
I was sure I would figure it out eventually, but for now their names were enough. They were my guardians and my protectors, and if a person can have three parents at once I suppose that was what they were. I did not know how good a job they would do (it was obvious even to me that they were nervous, Mycroft particularly), but I could be patient until they got the knack for it. They were the ones who would take me home (having a home in itself was new as), and I knew if I fell asleep in the hansom one of them would carry me to my bed. I knew that my name was Eve Johanna Holmes, and always would be. I knew that I would sleep in the last room on the left in an apartment on Pall Mall for quite some time.
Sherlock says that if I beg enough, Mycroft will let met have it redone in pink.
Eve fell asleep in the carriage, her head resting on the side. I gently drew her closer to me, knowing that her skull would rap sharply against the wood if we hit a bump, and the odds of hitting one was too high for me.
Mycroft watched my movements, watery eyes swirling with too many things for me to see. "What have we gotten ourselves into?" he spoke. I could not tell if he were about to laugh or weep.
Holmes, eloquent in speech as ever, gave a snort.
"This is hardly funny, Sherlock! Do you two realize what we have done? She's ours now, do you fully comprehend that? Every speck of her life is now our concern. We have no business raising a child."
I sighed, entirely content, stroking Eve's hair back and away from her face. "I know, Mycroft."
"We're going to make mistakes."
"What parent doesn't?"
"She'll hate all of us when she grows up."
"What well-adjusted adolescent doesn't?"
"You honestly think she's going to be well-adjusted?"
He had no more arguments, and so he sat back with a deep sigh, almost a groan. I saw his gaze fall upon the silver bracelet hanging from the girl's wrist. "Well... Nothing to be done about it now, I suppose."
I glanced at Holmes and shared a smile with him. We both knew that was as much as a confession of happiness that we would get out of him for the time being. It was enough, however. Eve knew of his feelings, that much was apparent, and that was what mattered.
I had to agree with Mycroft; we were three bachelors. Our experience was limited to young patients and a hellish little brother. This was also no ordinary child. Her usual milestones and difficulties would be interwoven with the remains of the heartless abuse she had suffered through in silence. And yet we were doing this all the same.
The softly breathing form nestled in my lap was a better reason than all the rubies and spinels of the world combined.