A/n: Please concrit all you like, because after a night's sleep I'm going to tweak this story, I want it as good as I can make it, and I'll mull over any advice you have. I may not take it, but I'll mull over it! XD


"Goodnight, friend Watson!"

"See you in the morning!" I called over the banister.

I was ecstatic at the chance to say those words at last; in fact I was still smiling five minutes later, while pulling the bed clothes up to my chin. The shape of the dark room was etched in every corner of my mind. I ran my fingers over the wallpaper, recalling lazy mornings of sleeping late; or again, afternoons of illness with Holmes peeking in on me, asking if I was feeling better yet and would I like some tea? I rolled over with a sigh. This was a good room, full of comforting memories.

Why, then, was it taking me so long to fall asleep?

I shifted slightly, hoping a more comfortable position would ease my passage into sleep. Heaven knew what was keeping me awake; I was sore and exhaused from moving my things up the stairs, though Holmes had helped of course. Yes; and Holmes was downstairs, this very minute—no harm could come to me while he was there. I should certainly have dropped straight into sleep the moment I lay down. It was strange...

Perhaps it was the crack of light between the curtains, yes, that was keeping me awake. I sat up, leaned over and gave a tug, snuffing out the strip of light from the streetlamps outside. I put a hand to my chest, wondering at this odd, internal knotting. I took a few breaths, struggling to calm my racing thoughts. Why should I feel so uneasy? There were no more uncertainties. Holmes was alive, and Mary…Mary was dead.

"Mary." I kissed the ring on my finger and curled around my pillow as the knotting in my chest intensified. I hadn't felt this terrible bitterness in my heart for so long, not since the funeral and the days afterwards…the hollowness, the—agony. Different from anything I had read in a text as a medical student. It was the tortured sensation of the human spirit.

There's only so much we can bear.

"Stop it," I whispered sternly, attempting to check the beginning tears. "You're alive, you still have a future." I paused, gripping the pillow as the spiritual pain throbbed. I cried for a few minutes, wiped my face and tried to sleep…I had to turn the pillow over to find a dry spot. I tried to think of happy thoughts, but the more I told myself all was well, the more I believed it, and the more I believed I was safe now, the stronger and fiercer was the need to open this box, this horrible box of half-faced demons and memories, I'd shut them away because I'd not the strength to understand before…

I remembered my wedding day. The flowering trees, raining white blossoms on Mary's hair and upturned face. I was overjoyed to have her, I held her delicate hand and put on the ring, and our first kiss—I was shy, bashful but so happy, and she smiled at me so—and she whispered in my ear soft little words, and I caught a glimpse of Holmes, moving his shoulders in subtle protest of his stiff suit, but when our eyes met—he really smiled. I think he was happy for me.

Oh, Mary. Mary, I miss you so much. Mary I wish you were here. Mary—did I ever tell you how I loved those little curls at the side of your face? Did I ever tell you that in the morning, when I twisted them round my finger, I was thinking how beautiful you were, even with sleep in your eyes? Did I tell you that, Mary?

I licked absently at the tears running down my face. My throat was clogged and I needed a drink. I sat up, wiping at the tears and fumbling for the pitcher by my bed—I'd forgotten to fill it in my excitement. I tried to lie down and forget it, but the tears drying on my face were uncomfortable, and the more I tried to forget about a cool drink and a quick wash, the more I thought about it until I grabbed my dressing down and slipped downstairs.

I didn't want to make a lot of noise filling a basin so I took a drink from the faucet over the sink, catching a palmful of water to scrub over my face. I felt much more refreshed and calmer now; my breathing was even again and I didn't feel so deuced…shaky. The knotting in my soul had been released, at least a little. At least it was started. The cool wood of the banister ran under my hand as I ascended the stairs, and I yawned, ready now for sleep.

I had a feeling I would sleep better tonight than I had for several years.