Hello! I'm back with another Sherlock fic! This is a companion piece to my story, Shirley Holmes: A Study in Pink. Femlock, obviously. This is only a one shot for now, but I could write more in the future. We'll see. In this one, Jen teaches a bored Shirley how to braid.
(In my original story, I made Mrs. Hudson a man, but I've decided to change her back again. She is Mrs. Hudson once more.)
Jen ignored the whining voice that was her flatmate's, which drawled from the sofa on the other side of the room, as she read through her mail.
Jen recognized that tone. Shirley was either bored, wanted attention, or was frustrated with something, and none of those things meant a good thing for Jen. Her eyes remained locked on the letter in her hand from Harry.
"Jen, those letters you're reading do not hold more interest than a fly on a windowsill."
"Oh and you would know?" Jen challenged.
"Your boyfriend, Sean, sends you good wishes from his holiday in Italy and says he can hardly enjoy anything because you're not there to enjoy it with him (except either the room service girl or the lady at the front desk has caught his eye). Your sister wants you to come visit her sometime, claiming she hasn't had a drink in almost three weeks (although obviously this is not true). The rest are bills."
Jen looked at the remaining pile of unread letters beside her then back at Shirley. "You read my mail?"
Shirley stared placidly at the ceiling. "What could I do? They were just sitting there. Besides, I wanted to see if I could successfully open an envelope and reseal it without leaving any evidence. You, of course, did not observe my clumsy mistakes in the resealing process."
Jen rolled her eyes and tossed Harry's letter on top of the remaining pile beside her. "So what's the matter? No wait," Jen held up her hand before Shirley could respond, "Based on your whiny tone of voice and the way you're sprawled out on the sofa like a dead cat, and the fact that you read my mail this morning because you couldn't find anything better to do, I deduce that you are bored."
Shirley turned her head to face her flatmate, an eyebrow raised. "You know, that's probably the most accurate deduction you've made in our entire acquaintance," she remarked. Whether she was being genuine or sarcastic, Jen couldn't be sure.
"I am so bored!" Shirley cried.
"Well what do you want me to do about it?" Jen asked. Although, she knew as soon as she had asked it what the answer would be.
"Think of something!"
"Why can't you think of something?"
"I tried. You hid my cigarettes and Mrs. Hudson cleaned out our refrigerator, so my toes are gone." Shirley sat up and pulled her knees to her chest, sulking.
Jen sighed. "What about your violin? You haven't played that in a long while."
Shirley scoffed dramatically. "Please, Jen! My violin is reserved only for when I'm thinking and for special occasions."
Jen held back another sigh. She picked up some of her long hair that hung over her shoulder and began to braid it idly. "Scotland Yard hasn't got anything?"
"No!" Shirley grumbled.
"Have you ever tried reading a book?" Jen suggested, though instantly regretted opening her mouth.
"Of course I've read a book!" came Shirley's near-outburst, "They have more answers than you idiotic people do!"
Jen rolled her eyes. Definitely one of her worse moods. She was probably still sour over the fact that her toes had been confiscated by Mrs. Hudson. But could anybody blame the woman for wanting to dispose of body parts that were in the refrigerator?
Shirley was pointing directly at Jen. Jen looked to see exactly what she was pointing at, but couldn't tell. "What?"
"That. What are you doing? What is that?" Shirley said, still pointing.
Jen looked down once more. All she could see out of the ordinary was the half-braid in her hands. But, Shirley must have seen a braid before. Jen hand worn one on more than one occasion.
"What, this?" Jen asked, holding up her half-finished braid.
"Yes, that. What is it?"
"It's a braid," Jen answered. She raised her eyebrows. "You must know what a braid is. I wear one all the time."
"I know that. I've seen them plenty of times," Shirley said, sounding highly offended, "I just didn't know what they were called."
Jen repressed a smirk, knowing that it might bring back Shirley's dark mood. "You mean to say you don't know how to braid?" Jen wondered as lightly as possible.
Shirley pursed her lips. "Why should I? What use is it to me?" she asked, again sounding highly offended.
"Oh no, lots of people don't know how to braid, actually," Jen said. She smirked, "Come here, I'll show you how."
"Now, since your hair isn't long enough for a good braid, we'll use these pieces of yarn."
Shirley picked up one of the strands of yarn and stared at it distastefully for a moment before setting it back down again. "Why should I learn to braid if my hair is not long enough for one? This whole thing is completely ridiculous! Why would anyone want to braid yarn?"
"It's just part of the learning process," Jen explained, "Once you've grasped the concept on the yarn, then you can try it on hair."
Shirley grumbled resentfully.
"OK," Jen said, picking up three pieces of the yarn, "You take three pieces like this and tie the ends together. You don't actually do this with the hair, because it's attached to your head."
"I know hair is attached to the head, Jen," Shirley interrupted, "That's why in that case last week with the woman found dead in her flat, I knew it wasn't suicide because some of her hair had been pulled out-"
"Anyways," Jen cut her off. She had already heard the whole deduction and had written it on her blog. "The way you braid really isn't that difficult once you grasp the concept. You take one strand from the side and pull it over the middle strand like that, and then pull it under the other side strand like that."
Jen demonstrated. "Then you take the second side strand and do the same. And repeat, and repeat, until you reach the end. It's a simple matter of always going over the middle strand with the side strands."
Jen got halfway down the yarn before holding it up for Shirley to see. "That is childishly simple," Shirley said.
"OK, give it a try then," Jen said.
Shirley sniffed disdainfully, but picked up the remaining three pieces of yarn and tied the ends together.
"Do you remember what to do first?" Jen asked.
"Of course I do," Shirley replied, "You pull the side over the middle, then the other side over the middle."
"Right," Jen said, "Well have at it."
Shirley blinked down at the yarn in her hands. "Wouldn't it be more effective if you just twisted them together?"
"No, Shirley," Jen sighed, "It's a pattern."
"What's the point of it?"
"There isn't a point. It's just something you do. Women do it to their hair to make it look nice."
"It's absurd!" Shirley scoffed.
"Look, you start on it, I'm going to go make myself a nice cuppa," Jen said, standing up, deciding it was best to leave Shirley to puzzle out how to braid for herself.
A short time later, Jen returned with her cup of tea clutched in one hand and found Shirley sitting cross-legged on her armchair, the tips of her fingers pressed together contemplatively. Jen's eyes fell on a strange tangled mess of yarn on the floor in front of her.
Jen set down her tea and picked up the bundle of yarn to examine it. "Um, Shirley. This isn't a braid."
"I thought you were going to braid it. What did you do?" Jen asked.
"I told you, it's absurd and ineffective, especially to do it to hair just for style. So I tried to see if there were other ways to tie a knot that had not been discovered yet."
"Didn't work, I see," Jen remarked, tossing the clump of yarn back onto the floor. She suddenly noticed several other clumps of tangled yarn scattered throughout the room. Shirley had found the ball of yarn and cut more strands. The tangled clumps were everywhere and the ball was nowhere to be seen. Jen wondered if she had used up the entire ball. It wasn't even Jen's, it was Mrs. Hudson's.
"I'm just grateful I didn't let you have a go at my hair first," Jen said.
Shirley didn't say anything.
Suddenly a phone rang. It was Shirley's. She answered it, "Hello?... Yes... I'll be right there." She hung up, "Scotland Yard. I've been summoned."
She stood and grabbed her coat. "Are you coming?"
"Maybe. But you're not going anywhere until you clean up your little mess here," Jen replied, gesturing to the yarn covering the floor.
Shirley's shoulders sagged and her face shone of pure sadness that Jen could have laughed, but she stood firm in her order.
Five minutes later, Shirley dropped the last yarn tangle into the wastebasket and then hurried out the door. The case was calling. Jen picked up her own coat and followed after her.
At least now she had a suitable cure for her boredom. Maybe next time, Jen would try makeup. Ha!
Humor isn't exactly my strong point, but tell me what you thought, I'd be most grateful :)