Title: The Detective Bride
Chapter Title: The Detective (Part One)
Word Count: 2309 (this chapter)
Summary: A remix of The Princess Bride. Heroes. Detectives. Psychopaths. Show downs. True Love. - Not just your basic, average, every day, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale.
Author's Notes: This started when I was watching the film one day and wouldn't leave me alone until I'd written it. The beginning is very heavily influenced by the book (which I would definitely recommend). Big thanks to my beta Eleniel for all her support, including listening to me ramble inanely.
The year that Sherlock Holmes was born, the most intelligent man in the world was Barry the Night Soil man, who emptied the toilet pits in castles all over the land. However, as no one ever came close enough to actually speak to him, no one ever realised this fact and he died of tuberculosis aged 32.
The year Sherlock turned ten the most intelligent man was an Indian named Velutha, and people travelled from far and wide to hear as he gave speeches on the mountain through the hot Indian summer. However, for all his intelligence, he forgot the dangers of spending all day in the sun and refused to wear a hat for fear it would ruin his hair. He survived the sunstroke; his mind did not.
When Sherlock was fifteen the most intelligent man in the world was not a man but a woman, named Ariadne Black, but God soon realised his mistake, made her change her name to Arthur and wear men's clothing. The resulting identity crisis drove her to drink, until all that came out of her mouth were drunken ramblings about how much she loved everyone, which no one recognised as wise.
At fifteen, Sherlock was barely in the top twenty, and he was there almost purely on potential as his knowledge was eclectic to say the least. But he was unaware of any of this, and even if he had been he would never have understood it. Competition was boring, something the idiot population engaged in to prevent themselves from realising how utterly worthless they truly were. Sherlock had too great a confidence in his own intelligence to have any interest in competition; instead his greatest enjoyment came from his experiments, and his continual torment of the stable boy. His experiments were mostly chemical in nature, and they generally did what he expected them to do. The stable boy was also predictable. He was some years older than Sherlock, but Lady Holmes called him 'boy', and Sherlock did the same out of habit.
"Stable boy, fetch my beaker", "Stable boy, pass me the hydrochloric acid – quickly or I will inform mother."
"As you wish," was all he ever answered, no matter how much Sherlock taunted him. He lived in the loft above the stables, kept it clean and read by candlelight in his limited spare time.
Shortly before his sixteenth birthday Sherlock realised it had been over a year since any of the boys from the village had spoken to him. This did not bother him as he found them all unutterably dull, but Mummy did worry so.
"I do wish you would make an effort to make friends, Sherlock darling," she said, loudly and often.
"I don't need friends, Mummy," Sherlock would reply tiredly, "I have my experiments."
"Experiments cannot make you happy, darling."
"I beg to differ Mummy." Sherlock's exits varied in volume, but were never less than dramatic. It did not bother him when the boys refused to talk to him, or crossed the road to avoid him, or when they laughed at him from behind their hands, thinking he couldn't see them. He was not even concerned when they congregated beneath his window, shouting insults up at him. If the insults became too damaging the stable boy would emerge from his loft and send the boys on their way with a few carefully measured words and a pitchfork held lightly in his left hand. Sherlock would lean out his window and order him back to his loft in lieu of thanks. "As you wish" was all the stable boy ever answered.
When Sherlock was almost seventeen Lord Michael Stamford was forced to spend the night at Holmes Manor due to a violent storm. He listened entranced as young master Holmes deduced his past history from his clothes, his horse and his haircut, before Lady Holmes told him to be quiet and eat his meal. This was not the first time Sherlock had done this, but it was the first time Sherlock had done so to a man of consequence. And it was Lord Mike Stamford, who first mentioned Sherlock to the Count.
The land of Baker Street was theoretically ruled by King Hudson and his second wife who, for reasons best known to her, refused to answer to the title Queen, instead calling herself Mrs Hudson. The King had an even looser grip on sanity, spending his days muttering to himself, said by some religious types to be a punishment for unspecified past crimes. He had two sons, Prince Moriarty and Prince Jim. His son by his first wife, Prince Moriarty, actually ran things, with Count Moran, the only Count in Baker Street as his sole confidant.
"Quick, quick, come," from his position underneath the desk in the library, Sherlock heard one kitchen boy call to another.
"What is it?" the other whispered, uncomfortable intruding into the family sanctum.
"The Count and his entourage," the first exclaimed. "Look at those horses."
"Look at that carriage," the second overcame his discomfort and looked out of the window. "He must be on his way to meet the Prince, they hunt near here. We're lucky to see him." A shout floated up the stairs, the cook calling the boys back to their work. They ran out of the room and Sherlock followed at a more sedate pace, anticipating his mother's summons. He descended the grand staircase and stood next to his tall, elegant mother in the entrance hall as the door was opened to allow the Count to enter.
"Greetings, my Lady," the Count said, bowing low.
"Welcome, Count Moran," Lady Holmes said, matching his bow with an equally low curtsey, "Our home is honoured by your visit."
"The honour is all mine," the Count replied, taking Lady Holmes' hand to raise her up. Formal etiquette satisfied, Lady Holmes turned to Sherlock.
"This is my younger son, Sherlock Holmes. My elder son, Mycroft is the Miracle Man to the King, but of course you know that." The Count nodded at Sherlock, meeting his eyes with a searching expression that made Sherlock uncomfortable. The silence stretched uncomfortably until Lady Holmes broke it by offering the Count tea. He acquiesced and she led him to the drawing room, while Sherlock slipped out of the front door into the cool evening air.
The sun was low on the horizon as Sherlock wandered around to the stables. He saw a group of girls gathered around the fence at the edge of the field behind the stables. Curious he picked up the pace until he could see what they were all staring at. It was the stable boy. He was exercising the Count's charger, running it around the field on the end of a long rope. He was shirtless and Sherlock watched his muscles ripple beneath his skin, the sweat trickle down his back as he controlled the horse with calm and focus. Sherlock was distracted from his observation by the giggling of the girls at the fence and he scowled. The Count came to stand beside him.
"Your mother was wondering where you were," he said. "I offered to look for you." He paused but Sherlock said nothing. He looked out onto the field. "He has skill, that boy. Titus barely tolerates to be touched by anyone except me, and yet your stable boy has made him docile as a kitten. What's his name?" His tone didn't match his words, and when Sherlock looked up he saw a hunger in the Count's eyes that discomforted him. His reply was sharper than he intended.
"John. John Watson." The Count looked down on him and smiled his shark's smile.
"Come, Sherlock, walk with me." He began to walk back to the Manor, Sherlock following reluctantly.
"I have heard things about you, Sherlock," the Count said. "I have heard you have a gift, that you can tell a person's history from their clothing, their hair, their possessions."
"I can," Sherlock replied confidently. The Count stopped.
"Go on then, deduce me." Sherlock paused for a moment, uncertain. Then he remembered the hunger in the Count's eyes as he had looked at John and anger washed over him. He began to speak, revealing everything he could see, every secret, every dream with a viciousness he had never felt before. He stopped, suddenly nervous, but the Count just smiled his shark's smile before walking away, leaving Sherlock behind him.
Sherlock watched as the Count returned to the Manor, until he became aware of a presence approaching. He turned and saw the stable boy leading the Count's horse back to the stables.
"Stable boy!" his mouth moved without his brain's permission. The stable boy turned but did not speak.
"I'm not happy with the state of my horse. I want you to clean him. Tonight. And his stable must be sparkling. If it takes all night, then it takes all night."
"As you wish," the stable boy said. Sherlock nodded curtly, then turned on his heel and stormed back to the Manor.
After the Count had left Sherlock went up to his room, lay on his bed and closed his eyes. And the Count was staring at John.
He got up, washed his face, changed into his pyjamas, got into bed and closed his eyes.
The Count was still staring at John!
He jumped out of bed, grabbed his violin and bow and threw himself into the music until his mother banged on his door and ordered him to stop. He dumped his violin onto his chair, marched back to his bed, climbed in and closed his eyes determinedly.
The Count would not stop staring at John!
Why? Why would the second most powerful man in all of Baker Street be interested in John? There was no mistaking the look in his eyes. He was interested. Facts were facts. But why? The stable boy had good teeth, but who cared about teeth? And his hair was an interesting shade if you like that sort of thing. His shoulders were broad and he was muscular, but that came from slaving all day. And his skin was beautifully tanned but again that came from slaving in the sun. He wasn't even very tall, not as tall as Sherlock and certainly not as tall as the Count.
Sherlock sat up in bed. It must be his eyes. The stable boy did have interesting eyes, like the calm before the storm. It couldn't be anything else. The girls in the village came to watch the stable boy but he never said anything, because if he had they'd have realised that, despite his eyes, he really was incredibly dull. It was strange, a man as unusual as the Count should be so fascinated by the stable boy, but people were stupid when it came to sexual attraction. But now Sherlock had it all diagnosed, deduced, clear. He settled back down and closed his eyes.
Now the stable boy was staring at the Count. He was exercising the horses and his muscles were rippling and Sherlock was watching as John stared deep into the Count's eyes.
Sherlock jumped out of bed and paced around the room. How could he? It was alright if the stable boy looked at him, but he wasn't looking at him. He was looking at him! Sherlock stopped and sat back on the bed.
"He's so old," he said, and that was a fact. He was arrogant as well, and that was also a fact. A cold wave of feeling rushed through Sherlock, and it took him ten minutes to work out what it was. The feeling was jealousy. Sherlock jumped up, snatched up his violin and dragged the bow across it, the discordance echoing the feelings crashing through him.
It was a very long night.
Sherlock was outside the stable before dawn. He could hear John was already awake. He knocked on the door. It opened, revealing John stood in the doorway, a lit candle and open books behind him. He waited. Sherlock looked at him. He waited. Sherlock looked away.
John was too fascinating.
"I love you," Sherlock blurted. "I realise this must come as something of a surprise, since all I've ever done is order you about and belittle your intelligence, but I have loved you for several hours now and every second more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than I could possibly love anyone, but half an hour later I knew that what I had felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. Ten minutes later I realised that as love is unquantifiable I could not measure it, which frustrated and thrilled me at the same time. Your eyes are like the calm before the storm, did you know? Well there it is." Sherlock still couldn't look at him. "I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be any comparison. No scientist, not even I, can quantify what I feel; there is no room in my mind for anything but you. Do you realise how much that scares me? I cannot think without your image entering my head, I cannot reason without seeing your eyes in my mind. I want you out of my head, yet I cannot bear to be parted from you. I know I am not as powerful as the Count, I saw how you looked at him, but I am younger and far more intelligent, and for me there is only you. John – I've never called you that before – John, tell me you will end my torment and return my love." And with that Sherlock Holmes did the bravest thing he had ever done: he looked right into John Watson's eyes.
John closed the door in his face.
Without a word.