Hey everyone. Suffering from the most awful writers block for 'Unsolved', so am trying to 're-ignite' the creativity by doing something a little different - hope you all like it. Its based (again) on the Granada/Jeremy Brett TV series, but the characters are a little younger than they appear on the television (Holmes is around 31, whilst Watson is about 33/34)

Disclaimer - I do not own Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson or any of the other characters written by the wonderful Sir Conan Doyle. I do however, own all the characters you don't recognise.

Chapter 1

Christmas 1888

Peace reigned in 221B Baker Street in December 1888, much to the annoyance of the consulting detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was completely and utterly bored. In the chair across from him, I sat apparently reading my paper, but every now and again shooting worried glances at Holmes. We had just finished working on a quite remarkable case of a gentleman found murdered had no physical signs of violence on his body, and was apparently in perfect health - apart from being dead, that is. It was a case that had tried, tested and challenged Holmes in every which way possible, and Holmes' tireless efforts had seen the man's young wife, a woman of, as had been stated in the paper 'a dubious moral temperament' sent to jail. Holmes had worked on this singular case for weeks and now as Christmas approached, had nothing to do.

Eventually, Holmes flung down his book with a great exclamation and said "Watson! Will you please stop staring at me as if you think I will run mad at any moment."

"You can't tell me you aren't bored..."

"Bored? Of course I'm bored. Every Christmas it is the same. It seems that criminal element of London has as much sentiment for Christmas and 'good will to all men' as you do."

I said dryly "They probably all go home to stay with their families. I suppose they need a rest before carrying on with their 'occupations' in the New Year."

"And I am left, quite bereft of anything to occupy myself with at least until Twelfth Night"

"Thank you, old man. I am gratified to know that company is so invigorating for you".

Holmes chuckled, and I smiled, relaxing. I studied my old friend. We had been together, living as 'flat-mates' and colleagues for the last 7 years. Holmes had changed little. He was still tall, angular and dark, with slicked back black hair, and grey eyes, pale and clean-shaven, the exact opposite to me, who was shorter, broader and blond, with blue eyes, tanned skin and a moustache. Holmes broke into his reverie with a short burst of laughter. I looked up in surprise. "For some time, you have been asking me for my favoured gift for Christmas, Watson, and I have it! A good, challenging murder will do me just fine."

"I was thinking more of a set of matching handkerchiefs, Holmes" I said laughing.

"Well, I suppose they would be useful too."

I shook my head and returned to my newspaper. Shortly afterwards, the door opened, and in walked Mrs Hudson with a tea-tray and a letter. "The only one today, Mr Holmes. Came in the second post"

"Thank you Mrs Hudson. You are still planning to go and stay with your sister in Edinburgh for Christmas?"

"Yes, Mr Holmes. But I have arranged for the boy to cook your dinner on Christmas day..."

Holmes had been skimming the letter, and let out a great sigh "It seems that we will not be at home on Christmas day, Mrs Hudson, but thank you for your offer."

I looked up in surprise. "We are going somewhere? This is the first I have heard..."

"And I, my dear friend, so do not be irritated."

"We are going to have dinner with Mycroft?"

"Mycroft? My good Watson, have you completely taken leave of your senses? On Christmas Eve, my brother will turn his servants out, and lock all the doors and windows, and spend the day in absolute peace, probably asleep on his chair in the library. He will then rise at three o'clock, absolutely starving, remember that his cook has gone home, and will try to cook for himself. After setting fire to himself at least twice, he will, much to his dismay, have to go into London, and find a restaurant that is open. He will then spend the rest of Christmas in the Diogenes club, not speaking to anyone, and putting his powers to work for the government in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform."

I laughed heartily at this, and Holmes smiled ruefully too. "Then where are we going?"

"Cambridgeshire"

"Cambridgeshire? Why? Do you have a case?"

"No such luck, Watson. We have been invited to take part in a...family Christmas."

"I'm sorry, Holmes, you are making absolutely no sense whatsoever."

"You remember that I told you that my father was a baronet in Yorkshire?"

"Yes." The situation was not becoming much clearer to me, and I was beginning to get annoyed at Holmes' reticence. "For heavens sake, Holmes!"

"When my father went to Cambridge, he met a man named Lord Marcus Throckmorton, the Earl of Ravensmead. They became close friends, and the Earl later became my Godfather. His house is Morton House, near Cambridge."

"He is the man we are to visit?"

"Yes. He has invited both of us to spend Christmas with his family. He apparently invited my brother, but got turned down." He glanced at me and smirked. "So, will you come?"

"It is very kind of your godfather to invite me. Lord knows, it has been a long time since I have attended a family Christmas. I would be delighted. It will also do both of us good to get out of London for a while."

Holmes sighed "Then I will return an answer to him by the end of the day."

"You do not look pleased, Holmes."

"I have never set great store in traditional family Christmases, Watson. Nor in having to be sociable."

"But you will be pleased to see your god father again."

"I do not remember much of him, Watson, to be entirely truthful. I knew one of his sons, also named Marcus, as we were schoolmates. But I cannot say we were ever very good friends."

"You disliked each other?" Holmes shook his head, and changed the subject quickly. It was very rare for him to tell me anything of his past life, and I knew not to press the subject, as much as I wanted to.

"As I remember, Lord Marcus has a rather large family..."

"Have you met his wife?"

"No. She died eleven years ago, in childbirth, I believe. From what I remember, Lord Marcus has seven children, four sons and three daughters."

"Then it will be a jolly Christmas, at least."

"My dear Watson, there is a very fine line between being jolly and being irritating."

Watson laughed "Ah, come on, Holmes. You need to have more Christmas Spirit."

Holmes nodded, and then said, groaning "I will have to go shopping of course."

"Of course."

"It is most inconsiderate."

"What is, Holmes?"

"Having seven children. Especially when you invite people to stay at Christmastime."

"I do not expect that the couple planned their family around the prospect of Mr Sherlock Holmes coming to stay with them for Christmas some years later."

"It seems to me, Watson, that planning of their family did not come into it."

"Holmes!" I said, feigning shock, but unable to hide the chuckle in my voice.

Holmes smiled at me, wrote his reply, and then gave it to Mrs Hudson to send. He then remarked to me "I suppose you, as my Doctor will be pleased by the fact that I will be having a peaceful country Christmas. I very much doubt that anything exciting will happen." But, somewhat rarely, in that, he was wrong.