Forgive me for this drivel. I feel like this is definitely not worth you all, but I had this lovely mental image of Holmes teaching Watson to play the violin, and it simply would not leave me be. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did writing it. There is nothing like that fuzzy feeling you get when you complete a piece that makes you smile. This is Holmes/Watson, as per usual, so take the proper precautions.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Parlor Music

Sherlock Holmes was never a man who valued pleasure or recreation. His work was and always had been his greatest companion, and I would often find that I was simply carried along for the ride, scribbling down all the details while he performed his deductive miracles. It was his comfort in sorrow, his magnum opus, his greatest joy in life above all else. The only other pleasure that I had ever witnessed him indulge in—apart from his choice drug, that is—was music. The power that it held over him was astonishing, to say the least, given that he was a man controlled only by himself and no other. As he listened, it was as if he was transported to another world, a world clean of all the vice and sin of London and instead, pure and beautiful. When he would drift away, it would sometimes take him hours to return to reality; he would gaze drunkenly about, as if trying to remember where he was, a tiny smile like a ghost upon his face.

We would often go together, in our best apparel, to watch the great artists of our day, Holmes chattering away about the repertoire like an child on Christmas. As busy as he was these days, however, he had no time to indulge in our periodical visits to the opera house. I missed those times dearly, for I treasured the moments when I saw him escape the prison of his mind and break free of the dark thoughts that so often plagued his mind. As of late, he had been relying more and more upon that dreadful "seven per-cent solution" concealed cleverly in the bottom drawer of his cabinet to carry on through case after case, crime after crime. It was no mystery why; the kinds of sins he was investigating had become more and more macabre as the year had progressed. "London has become a citadel of evil, Watson, where the criminals reign as kings." he once said to me as we were making our way to the door one stormy evening. As optimistic as I tended to be, I was sadly inclined to agree with him. The rise of industry and wealth in our country had given birth to a new kind of evil, one that was protected by corporations and monopoly, one that killed for the sake of killing with no fear of retribution. It truly disgusted me, but it gave Sherlock a new fervor for his work that kept him running at all hours of the day.

I was incapable of keeping up with his madcap speed, so it was usually up to me to hold the fort here at Baker Street, watching for news and recording his findings so that when we did catch the killer, all of the knowledge would be at his disposal. It was on one of those days that I descended the staircase to retrieve my notebooks from the dining table, only to find him back at home, collapsed on the parlor divan and looking like Death itself. His eyes, staring blankly up at the ceiling, were bloodshot and ringed with shadows, his face pale and drawn. When I sat gingerly beside him, he did not react, and indeed seemed not to notice my presence until I spoke.

"Holmes?" His tired, grey eyes moved slowly to mine. "Good Lord, you are a mess. Are you alright?" A hollow laugh pushed past his pallid lips and broke the eerie silence.

"Fine? Oh, indeed." His voice cracked and seethed with a suppressed fury that nearly made me move back, unsure of what he would do next. But he did not move, only shook his head sadly. "Humanity, Watson: it never ceases to amaze me." He rose to a sitting position robotically, as if he were an automaton, lifeless and broken. "Do you…do you know what I was called to investigate today, Watson?"

"Of course; the murder of Elinor Field. She's been missing for almost three days, am I right?" He said nothing, only pursed his lips and nodded in agreement. "Well? Did…did you find her?"

"Oh, yes, Watson. I found her; a poor child lost in an alleyway, practically flayed open from tip to tail." I felt a chill come over my entire body, as one does when they hear something unreal and disturbing.

"Surely not! You must be joking, Holmes. What sort of monster could-" Holmes said nothing, only stared back at me solemnly, not a trace of jest on his face. I could scarcely believe what I had heard. What had that poor child done to deserve such a terrible fate? "I am…sorry, Holmes. Should I—"

"Indeed, Doctor, I am sorry too…sorry for the whole human race!" He threw a pillow across the room, his eyes welling with tears and his face contorted in fury. I was at a total loss of what to do; never had I seen Holmes in such a state before, and in all honesty, I was afraid. Despite Holmes being the most brilliant man I knew, he was also the most unpredictable, and though I knew he would never hurt me, I was not so sure what he would do to the culprit, who was already doomed to die for such an abominable crime. Indeed, I felt that the death penalty might be a mercy compared to what Holmes had in store. Rather than incur his wrath further, I decided to allow him time to compose himself. Rising to my feet, I patted him genially and headed upstairs, but as I approached my bedroom door, a thought came to me. Surely once he did pull himself together, he would just go upstairs and drown his discomforts in his cocaine. Perhaps I could divert his attentions elsewhere…but how? Glancing back down the staircase, my eyes fell upon Holmes' violin, which had sat abandoned on the coffee table for almost a month.

"Holmes?" I treaded carefully down to the parlor once more, almost whispering his name. His misty eyes darted back at me, pinning me to the wall, and I almost faltered…but not quite. "How-how long have you played? The violin, I mean?" He stared at me, eyebrow raised, as though I had asked the most ridiculous question imaginable.

"Why on Earth would you want to know that, Watson? I do not feel as if this is the best time to be asking such arbitrary questions."

"I was just curious if you could...well, if you could teach me. I have always wanted to learn." As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew that I would be refused. Why would he waste his time with such a silly endeavor, when he was more interested—and rightfully so—in catching the killer of that poor little girl, left to rot in a cold London alley? Besides that, I was never gifted in the arts, and had never been instructed in them; save for an unfortunate series of piano lessons that had left my instructor pulling out his hair in frustration. Rather than angrily refusing, however, Holmes actually smiled at the thought…or at least, found it amusing.

"Indeed, Watson? What a strange fellow you are." He leaned back against the cushioned seat of the divan and sighed heavily, exhausted by the heavy weight of the case on his chest. "Well, in regards to your first inquiry, I taught myself how to play the violin when I was twelve years old."

"I cannot say I am too surprised, Holmes." That seemed to appeal to his intellectual vanity enough to convince him to continue.

"When I was a boy, my father took Mycroft and I to watch Camillo Sivori play here, in London, and afterward I thought that I should like to play like him. Granted, I never reached his virtuosity, but…"

"On the contrary, Holmes, I think you are one of the best players that I have heard." He raised an eyebrow once again, incredulous.

"Now, Watson, I fear you are attempting to flatter me." I shook my head and smiled. "Ah, I see. Persistent, aren't we?" Sighing again, he slowly lifted himself to his feet and shuffled to the table where the violin sat, dusty and forgotten. He quickly shined it with his shirttail and lifted the bow in his fingers, as if it were a delicate flower. I could already see a change coming over him, but I wasn't finished yet, and he had avoided my request.

"So? Will you teach me?" I felt quite foolish asking him so eagerly, like a spoiled child, but Holmes chuckled at me and shook his head.

"You do realize that learning musical instruments gets more and more difficult as the years progress? Why do you think that children are taught at such a young age?" He tapped his temple with the tip of the bow. "It stays with them longer than with us old men. I fear that you will only grow frustrated with yourself should you make the attempt." Though I knew that he was right, I was not going to give up that easily.

"I would appreciate anything you could give me. Could you at least show me how it is done?" Holmes' expression suddenly turned grave and stern, and I felt a lump rise in my throat.

"What are you trying to do, Watson?" My eyes widened in surprise. Had I really been so transparent? "You have never claimed interest in anything of the sort in the five years that I have known you. The idea is ridiculous, besides; you haven't much of an ear for music." I winced at his tone, unnecessarily harsh, and retorted angrily:

"Alright then, have it your way! I was merely trying to cheer you up, is all! Can I do that for you? My friend?" He seemed taken aback by that, as if he had forgotten. "Please, Holmes, I just want you to be happy, even if it is only for a moment." Holmes stared at me for a moment, and the corners of his mouth turned upward in a small smile.

"Watson…" He sighed then and rolled his eyes, as if exasperated. "Come here, then, and I will show you how to play." I rose, triumph in my heart, and stepped toward him. Violin in hand, he then wrapped his arms around me, situating my hands upon the instrument and bow. The proximity of his body to mine nearly made me shiver, but I held my own, allowing him to form my fingers to the strings. "Now, Watson, we simply move the bow over them, and…" As he guided his hand over mine and stroked the bow carefully over the violin, the clear, perfect sound rose to the air, filling the room with music that I had certainly never heard before.

"Who is this, Holmes?" I asked, trying to keep my voice steady as his breath touched my ear.

"It is no one, my dear Watson. Just me." He kissed the crook of my jaw and continued to play, his fingers intertwined in mine, creating beautiful music together as night fell over the street.