Mycroft wrinkled up his nose as he looked down at the meal he had just been provided with. When he had been invited to dinner with Sherlock, John and Magenta, and been told Sherlock had offered to cook, he had not expected to be served McDonalds.

"Let's just say the oven will need to be replaced," John whispered when Mycroft had opened his mouth to ask. He pulled his blazer around his chest as he tucked himself into the table, handing Magenta the ketchup when she asked for it.

Mycroft knew this gathering was to prove to him that the relationship between his sister and his brother's flatmate could actually work without one of the Holmes's biting the head off the other. His suspicions were confirmed the moment John and Magenta began to show an excessive amount of affection, the kisses on the cheek, the 'love' and 'sweetheart' pet names, and the side glances at himself to make sure he was watching. Honestly it made his skin crawl, but the fact that they were trying was a point in their favour.

Sherlock, too, was doing his best to encourage Mycroft's approval of the relationship. Although he wasn't being overly happy like the other two, he had been restraining himself more than usual. Not taking the bait of Mycroft's constant jabs and refraining from making Mycroft the butt of his jokes when normally he would have liked to. Mycroft could tell when he was holding himself back because his lips would turn pale and thin, stretching out across his face.

Sherlock was mechanically munching on a chip, his eyes glazed over and his eyebrows furrowed. No doubt he was trying to work out what went wrong with the lasagne in the oven, and why John has insisted on buying a new one when Sherlock had tried to persuade him it just needed to be cleaned up a bit. Mycroft eyed his own dinner once more and pinched the bread of his deli sandwich, lifting it slightly so he could inspect the inside. It smelled of grease and additives. He closed it up again and opted to have a chip instead.

"Do you not like it Mycroft?" asked John. "I have a Big Mac if you would prefer that?" John offered it to him. Somehow the burger looked even more unappetising than his own and he quickly but politely put his hand up.

"No, no thank you, I am just not very hungry." Out of the corner of his eye, Mycroft saw Sherlock's lips go thin and pale.

The sound of a song Mycroft did not recognise – too rock 'n' roll and modern for him – blared from Magenta's coat pocket and apologising she got up to answer her mobile. She mimed a quick 'sorry' to her brother – something she would never have done if they weren't trying so hard to impress him – before leaving the room to take the call.

"Another drink Mycroft?" John did not wait for an answer as he topped up his glass with a reasonably expensive bottle of red wine. "I think tonight has really shown that it is possible for more than one Holmes to be in the same room at once without-"

"Okay John, please stop!" Mycroft rubbed his forehead unable to take the falseness any longer. "You have never asked for my approval, in fact when it came to Sherlock you made it clear you did not care for my approval at all. So would you please stop acting like this is 'happy families'."

John straightened himself up and pursed his lips. "We just thought, Magenta and I, that if we could show you how happy we were, and how there was no problem between her and Sherlock, perhaps you wouldn't be so obviously disapproving of the relationship." Mycroft crossed his legs and waited for the speech that John had been preparing in his mind all evening to state his case that he knew was coming. "You are her brother, you are pretty much the father figure in her life, and so you are bound to be protective of her, and I completely understand that. But it upsets her to think that being with me makes you unhappy, and the last thing I want is for her to be upset. You know me, you've had me checked out, and I can hardly lie to you! You know that I would do anything for her and I would give my life to protect her. So all I ask is that you would just stop being so stubborn and tell her you are happy for her."

Mycroft did not respond immediately. He peered at John through pierced eyes as he digested the speech he had just heard. Then, very slowly, he bowed his head. John was not quite sure if this meant 'okay I will do as you ask' or 'okay I hear your argument but I will not do as you ask', but Mycroft gave no more indication as to which of the two he meant.

Magenta returned to the room, oblivious of what had just happened.

"There is an emergency at work, I'm really sorry but I have to go." She was apologising more to Mycroft than anyone else.

"That's okay," said John as he handed her her coat. "Let me walk you to the station." She smiled at him before saying goodbye to her brothers.

"It was good to see you," she added to Mycroft, "John is a real gentleman walking me to the station." She really wasn't very good at this 'trying hard to impress him' business. "He looks after me."

Mycroft placed his hand on her shoulder. "I know he does." He held her gaze. Blinking back tears she pecked him on the cheek, giving him a look that said 'thank you'.

When they had left, he and Sherlock retired to the armchairs in the living room. The looks exchanged between them were more of a conversation than they had had all evening. Mycroft handed Sherlock a glass of port that he had been kind enough to bring along with him. Sherlock took it, clinking their glasses before having a taste.

"Are you going to take the tail off them then?" Sherlock quietly asked with a smirk, swirling his drink in his hand before taking another sip.

Mycroft matched the action.

"We'll see."