A/N: So. Here it is, the closing chapter on my "Coming home" story. Thank you all for accompanying me on that, it had been great fun, and your reviews are a treat for the ever sceptical author...:-)
I will proceed with a bit more on "A circle closes", so please do stop by again and have a look.
I hope you enjoy this finale... and the new beginning of one of the finest friendships in literature...
The sun has come out just in time to cheerfully lighten the sitting room, and the mood of my friend seems to reflect something of that brightness. He is sitting at the carefully laid out table and has obviously just entered into a conversation with Mrs. Hudson, who is serving breakfast. Having put down various plates and bowls, she remains standing there and looks at him intently.
"Mrs. Hudson?" He acknowledges my presence with a wave of his hand and then again devotes his attention to his housekeeper.
"I have been missing the opportunity to preparing your breakfast for about three years, now. Therefore, as I have already mentioned, I really should expect you to eat it today!" Her fond and concerned gaze belies her rigid tone, and it suddenly dawns on me that I have not been the only one to mourn over Holmes.
"Good morning, Mrs. Hudson."
"Oh! Good morning, Doctor! It is so nice to have you both again together at this table!"
"And I enjoy this opportunity at least as much as you do!", I assure her with a wink, as she is pouring out the coffee.
She gives me a smile – but the expression freezes on her face as she suddenly notices her old and new tenant's strange behaviour:
Holmes has tasted the coffee and slightly nodded his approval. So far, this is nothing new. But now he is actually shovelling scrambled eggs and bacon onto his plate. "Would you please be so kind to pass me the bread basket, Watson?"
It is all Mrs. Hudson and I can do to watch him open-mouthed, and Holmes returns our gaze with the most innocent expression on his face.
"It's all right, really", he assures us. "I am just starving, that's all."
"Well, in that case...", I reply, handing him the toast and watching a forkful of real food dissapearing between his lips.
"Thank you, old chap. Mrs. Hudson, you have surpassed yourself! That leads me to high hopes regarding lunch!"
She throws him a sceptical look but can not help smiling. "I shall see to that", she says and leaves, not without a final contented glance on the scenery.
I keep watching him for another minute, while he is enjoying his breakfast, then I slowly begin to eat myself. I notice that the morning paper is lying unread on the table. "Do you want me to look it up for you?", I ask.
But he shakes his head. "A bit later, if you don't mind. I have had enough work last night... I mean, with that Moran", he kind of hastily adds.
"Sure." I am, by the way, pleased to find that Holmes's praises on Mrs. Hudson's cooking had been no exaggeration. "Have you slept well?"
"Well, yes!" A slight smile. "No further strange dreams for a change. I have, anyway, found it neccessary to use your bedroom for the rest of the night. I hope you don't mind."
"Oh, by no means! I mean, these are your rooms, after all."
There is a distinctive frown on his face, as he slightly shrugs his shoulders, without further reply. And I guess this is a good time to pursue my... consultation.
"You know", I begin, carefully chosing the words I have been thinking upon during the night. "About that advice I was going to ask you for..."
He helps himself to a second cup of coffee. "Yes?"
"It is more or less a financial matter."
"I am not really an expert on pecunia, but if you value my opinion...?"
"Oh, yes. You see, I am seriously contemplating on giving up the house."
Now I have his full attention!
"You want to move out, there?"
"Yes. After all, it is far too big for a single person alone. And, to be honest with you, the surgery had not been that profitable during the last years. I should very much prefer to find myself some nice appartments, and maybe even someone to go halves with."
He stares at me. "Now, this is indeed a coincidence..." He is sipping his coffee, his eyes still on my face. "Let me ask you something: Would you mind a pipe smoking companion who has an interest in doing chemical experiments?"
"No, not at all."
"And how about violin playing? Would that annoy you?"
I can't hide a grin, as I am very well remembering our little cross examination ages ago, when our common aquaintance Stamford had first introduced us. "That depends on the player", I accordingly say. "I consider a well-played violin a treat for the gods."
Now he is laughing, for a moment looking not much older than in those former days. "Well, then that's settled!", he states and raises his cup.
I assume the custom of clinking glasses has always been confined to... well, glasses, containing champagne and the likes of it. Coffee cups might generally be considered far less appropriate for such an ceremonial action. But then again – who cares?
"Welcome home, my friend!", he says.
"Dito, Holmes. Dito!"
- The End -
(...and a new beginning...)