I am so, so sorry you had to wait this long, especially for such a short episode. Life happened, the second series happened, and it was harder than I had anticipated to finish.
Sherlock ran as fast as he could, the brown package clutched solidly in his hand. It was a beautiful day, and it seemed as though the whole village had decided to go out for a walk. As a result, Sherlock was slowed down by a lot of obstacles he had to avoid, and some he didn't bother avoiding. Several collisions later, he was finally out of the busy part of town and heading towards Sailboat Bay. Even though his lungs were burning, he didn't slow down; he continued to run as if his life depended on it, the accelerated rhythm of his heart guiding his steps.
He didn't bother stopping when Jim and Sebastian called him over, nor when he passed Aunt Martha's house; he had a goal, and he refused to get distracted. When he finally reached the path leading to his and John's house, he sped up, only slowing down when he caught a glimpse of his husband. Then, he stopped, leaned against a tree, and slowly caught his breath as he watched.
John was huddled up in his heavy black coat, his mask firmly in place and the rest of his face hidden by his beloved red scarf. He was sitting on the porch, so engrossed in his book that he didn't hear Sherlock's loud footsteps. Sherlock thoroughly enjoyed watching John when he was like that, absorbed in something he loved, something that fascinated him. He loved how his brow furrowed in concentration and how his tongue sometimes darted out to wet his lips. Even over a year after their wedding, he never tired of watching his husband.
They had gotten married in August of the previous year, as soon as their house had been finished. They both hadn't been keen on asking Sainte-Cécile's notary – Mr. Donovan – to marry them, so they had paid someone from Rimouski who had accepted to travel and marry them in their own clearing, close to their brand new house and surrounded by a small circle of friends and family. Mrs. Hudson had been there, unsurprisingly, as well as Jim and Sebastian, Gregory and Sarah, and Harry who had hung away from everyone else, but whose presence had pleased John.
Since then, they had barely left the other's side, and as long as they stayed in Sailboat Bay or around Harry's manor, they felt safe. At first, their wedding had been the only thing discussed around town, and for a while, neither Sherlock nor John was had been seen by anyone who wasn't part of their makeshift family. Eventually, a widow with bright red hair had moved into town, rumours of how she was a witch and had killed her three previous husbands had started circulating, and the interest in John and Sherlock had died down.
For Sherlock, the widow's innocence had been obvious, but he hadn't shared his knowledge with anyone, glad that his husband was now mostly unbothered. Since then, he sometimes went to the village, and he was left alone most of the time. However, he was always eager to return to his and John's secluded clearing, their own version of paradise.
At the center of their refuge stood their home. Jim and Sebastian truly had outdone themselves, and Sherlock and John loved their house almost as much as they loved each other, probably because it was so much them. Everything they had talked about while snuggling under John's heavy duvet, every wish they had had, Jim and Sebastian had managed to transform them into reality. Yet, despite the masterpiece that was their house, their favourite thing about it was the immense porch, which actually was a surprise gift from the married ones. When the weather was nice enough, they could spend long hours sitting on that porch reading to each other, sharing wine and fruits, watching the forest, or kissing.
Eventually, John had taken Sherlock's advice and had started writing his own stories. He had started with adventure tales involving dragons and knights, and Sherlock had enjoyed them so much he had insisted John shared them with Gregory, who was now reading them to his newborn son. Then, for Sherlock's birthday, John had written a murder mystery involving characters based on the two of them: Sherlock Holmes, the great detective, and his loyal assistant and friend, Doctor John Watson.
Sherlock had been incredibly pleased, although he hadn't been able to resist pointing out the flaws in John's plot. At first, John had been a little crossed, but he hadn't been able to deny that Sherlock's suggestions would have made his story better. One thing leading to another, they had formed a sort of writing partnership; John was in charge of the characters, dialogues, and general plot, and Sherlock helped him with the mysteries. There was something thrilling about reading his and John's made up adventures, and Sherlock found it easy to close his eyes and imagine that he and John were running across the streets of London, chasing criminals and solving mysteries.
Out of sentiment, they never changed the characters' names, but when Sherlock had suggested they tried to get their stories published, they had done so under a pseudonym made out of the names of John's father, Sherlock's father's, and Mrs. Hudson's late husband. A few months later, they had gotten a positive response from a small publishing company, and for a while, both Sherlock and John had been euphoric. Since then, they had written several other stories, all about the first consulting detective in the world and his best friend.
That day, Sherlock had gone to the store, just like he had done every day for several weeks. The publishing house was supposed to send a copy of the finished book, and Sherlock couldn't wait for it to finally arrive. When Mrs. Lestrade had handed him the heavy package, he had immediately known what it contained, and he had run home as quickly as possible. Now, leaning against a tree close to their house and looking at his husband, Sherlock couldn't wait to open the package. He ran to the porch, startling John in the process. John set his book aside and looked up at Sherlock's exuberant face.
"What's got you so excited?"
"It came!" Sherlock answered, dropping the package into John's lap and sitting close to him.
"Oh, wonderful," John said as he caressed the brown paper and the postage stamps, "it was exciting before, you know, but now that it's actually here, I'm not sure I believe it."
"Give me a minute, I'm savouring the moment."
Sherlock wasn't the most patient of men, and he wished John could savour the moment faster. However, despite his impatience and excitement, he could understand John and his desire to go slowly. This was something that was entirely theirs, something born out of John's imagination and fuelled by his own passion for mysteries. Just thinking that perhaps people would read it felt strangely like bringing a child into the world. Not an entirely unpleasant thought.
When John finally started tearing the paper off, Sherlock was shaken out of his reverie, and he looked as the book was uncovered. Its cover was grey, with the title written in bold, black letters: The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. John let out a shaky breath, and Sherlock grabbed his hand, bringing it up to his lips to gently kiss his knuckles.
After staring at the closed cover for several minutes, it was Sherlock who finally suggested they went inside to properly enjoy their book. While John made tea, Sherlock started a fire in their cozy library. They settled on the sofa closest to the fire, John with his back against the armrest, and Sherlock between his thighs, his head pillowed on John's shoulder. With one swift move, he took John's mask off and let it fall onto the floor. John brushed a gentle kiss against his temple, and he started reading.
They had read the words dozens of times before, but somehow, now that John was reading from a genuine bound book, it felt different. It felt real. Sherlock wouldn't give up their life for anything, but he liked thinking that in another world, they could still have found each other and fallen in love. In fact, he liked thinking that time and place didn't matter when they were concerned; Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would always find each other.
Thanks for your patience, thanks for your support. I was so surprised and overwhelmed by the good response this story got, I never could have asked for better readers. Thank you for embarking on this adventure with me.