Mycroft Holmes remembered the Valentine's Day the year he had turned fourteen.

His father had been well-meaning, and had suggested that his reclusive son put one of his talents, his culinary skills, towards a gift for the rather pretty Beatrice Wright, whose father owned the estate next to theirs. In addition to pushing his son firmly into the world of courting, he was also seeking to potentially expand his own estate should seeds of romance take root.

Mycroft had felt nothing for Miss Wright, but at the elder Holmes's urgings he spent the entire day in the kitchen, Sherlock poking in and out periodically to mock him, ruin something, suggest he do something terrible to the food, or a combination of the three. He was eventually herded off by his nanny with promises to explain the things boys would do for female attention when he was older.

He'd boxed up the best wild mushroom risotto most anyone outside of London could make, the fresh salmon with lemon and dill, the mint potatoes and the buttered and herbed greens, and had taken them to her, her parents beaming, thinking of the alliance that could be formed.

Miss Beatrice Wright, foul-tempered that the lord's son that had promised to arrange a trip for her to London had broken her word and far from accepting of the pudgy and apathetic (yet earnest) semi-suitor, had actually thrown his gift back at him.

The salmon had come out much too hard, he decided, when he was hit in the head with it.

That was the last time he had celebrated Valentine's Day until the current year. He was at his cooking pans again, but this time for someone he truly cared for and actually wished to please, not for land and not for alliances, but simply to see him happy.

Perhaps love made all the difference in the kitchen as well as in heart; the salmon came out flawlessly.

He had not told him of any plans, and had in fact shot down several of his suggestions of Simpson's or a play quite callously, and so Dr. John Watson trudged up Pall Mall with a limp in his gait after a day of putting up with patients and chasing criminals in hansoms expecting a perfectly dull evening of paperwork and muttering.

What he found were dim lights and a candlelit table, places set for two for a full coursed meal, and wine with a wonderfully pure colouring airing on the side table.

Mycroft emerged from the kitchen, apron over his dress clothes. Seeing Watson, his large face flushed somewhat red. "The soup is simmering. We can start just as soon as I put the desert in the icebox to chill."

Watson kissed him, a spontaneous lurch of a movement that was far from graceful on his tired limbs but every bit as meaningful as the meticulously planned meal. "I like the apron. Will you be making me breakfast in bed as well?"

"Don't become used to this," Mycroft warned with a wag of his finger but a hum under his breath as he went to pour the butternut squash and cinnamon soup.