It was the colours that made me realize something had changed: I had seen such lovely colours everywhere we went recently – that glowing porcelain skin, the shiny black hair, the deep burgundy of our wine, that shining silvery tint of his cravat reflected by his mercury eyes.
We were having dinner after an evening's concert as the recognition struck me - he was talking with such animation about the performance we had just enjoyed and I was listening to the expressions of his elation with the usual fascination – it was so clear, all of a sudden: I must be in love.
Luckily it seemed that Holmes was too engrossed by the reminiscences of that ingenious piece of music to notice my suddenly flushing face - or perhaps it was the intimate lighting of the restaurant that veiled my face. From that moment forth, I heard nothing of Holmes's elaborate praise, for keeping up a mask of my habitual awed attention was all I could manage.
Concentrating on preserving appearances, I pushed the issue from my mind till the return to the quiet privacy of my bedroom. I sat up all night, turning the matter over in my mind. What was I to do about it? Should I – could I – ever tell Holmes how I felt? And then came that thought which struck me with more force than the strongest blow: if I, with my admittedly limited capacities of observation, had only perceived the issue, for how long must Holmes have already known - he who observed and deciphered the smallest indications whose existence I did not even begin to suspect? And if he did indeed know, why in heavens had he said nothing? Did it signify that he wished to remain silent, leave the matter unsaid? That thought send a sudden chill to my bones.
Could it be possible that he truly remained ignorant? Perhaps he merely suspected the state of the affairs and took no action for not possessing certitude? I quickly dismissed that thought for should Holmes have the smallest suspicion, he would undoubtedly devise a means to confirm or to reject his hypothesis, such was the way of his inquisitive nature.
Mulling the matter over in my mind, I in length came to the conclusion that either he did know and wished to say nothing – the very idea of such deceit (for what else could I call it?) seemed repulsive to me – or else he was truly unaware of the state of the affairs, however improbable that might have seemed. If he knew and said nothing – well, I could not, would not, live with such deception. And if he did not know - "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" – my speaking up would surely settle the matter for once and for all.
I treasured our friendship beyond anything – and by speaking my heart I stood all the chance to ruin everything – but I was not nor have ever been a secretive man, I wear my heart on my sleeve as Holmes has remarked on more than one occasion; thus, even if I kept my peace I would surely unconsciously reveal the matter sooner rather than later.
As the wise say, the attack is sometimes the best defence; the only course of action I could thus embark on was to confront Holmes with my findings. The sooner the better, for I doubted my poor heart could take any more palpitations of the like it had endured this night. I would speak to him the next evening in the calm of our lodgings. Reassured now that I had finally made up my mind I drifted off to uneasy sleep.
The next day passed in a burst of feverish activity on my part, trying hard not to think about the evening's task. Finally, the endless day drew to its close and I returned to Baker Street. It was the first time I had seen Holmes since last night for he had slept late – as he often does when he is not on a case – and I had started off early in the morning.
I had some difficulty in meeting his eye at the dinner table as I endeavoured to make one or two casual remarks about my day. I could sense his eyes on me, scrutinizing my strangely affected behaviour. I was, however, determined not to speak till after the dinner for the fear of being overheard and so we drudged along Mrs Hudson's excellent roast that I was quite incapable to enjoy.
After the meal, we retired to the privacy of our sitting room. Holmes sprawled himself languidly on the settee though his eyes were still fixing me with a curious flicker. I seated myself in my favourite armchair and would have stuttered what I meant to say had my courage not failed me: who was I to talk about the matters of the heart to a man who never spoke of the softer passions, save with a jibe and a sneer?
So I just sat there, wringing my hands in distress. I must have presented the appearance of utter desperation to my companion for he approached the armchair quietly with his cat-like grace and kneeled before me, placing his delicate hands on mine. "My dear fellow, whatever you mean to say cannot be as bad as all this," he said in a soft voice with the utmost concern showing on that wonderfully expressive face. His words and his demeanour somehow managed to calm my spirits for I stopped fidgeting and met his eye; still, I could not bring myself to speak. However, whatever I conveyed in my regard seemed to be enough, for the faintest flush appeared on his high cheekbones and his eyes darkened with unspoken emotion.
We stayed the longest time in this manner, holding hands and gazing into each others' eyes. When at last the weariness overtook us, we retired to bed.
After that night – what more can I say but that love is indeed a many splendored thing.