EPILOGUE: THE REST
Five Years Later
Mycroft smiles, equal parts warm and sarcastic. "How kind of you, Sherlock. I can't recall you ever offering me tea before."
Sherlock sits down opposite him, in his usual armchair. "I've grown up, brother dear." He takes a sip from his own mug – decent, but never quite as comforting as when John makes it for him. "I'm not the sociopath I once was."
"Mm. John's having an excellent influence on you." Mycroft smiles to himself as he twirls his umbrella. "And domestic bliss must suit you, Sherlock. You've put on two pounds since I saw you last."
"Three," Sherlock corrects him. "I've almost beat you at your own game. How many have you gained since we last met? Four?"
"None of your business, brother," Mycroft sighs, rolling his eyes.
"Hm. I'd lay off the cake if I were you." Sherlock reclines further back in his chair. "Anyway, my steady weight gain is John's doing, of course. I most likely would have starved to death years ago if he hadn't insisted on… oh, what's the term? 'Feeding me up,' I believe."
"And that's all you keep him around for, I'm sure? Feeding you up?"
"Of course not. He also does the shopping."
"Charming." Mycroft leans back in John's chair, a bit smug. "You've become quite the romantic, Sherlock. I never imagined you'd have it in you."
"Neither did I, to be quite honest. If there's one thing I've learned in the past few years, however, it's that John Watson is the exception to everything."
"That would indeed appear to be the case," Mycroft sighs, sipping his tea. "Now, brother mine, what was it exactly you wanted to talk to me about?"
Sherlock sighs. "The ban on interspecies marriage."
"Ah, yes." Mycroft shakes his head. "Troublesome, isn't it?"
"Horribly. John and I have been spending a lot of time with those fairy rights activists – you know, the group Lestrade started? The Equal Personhood Movement, he calls it – creating ad campaigns, heading the picket lines, etc… but it isn't doing as much good as we'd like. I need the process sped up a bit."
"I see," Mycroft says thoughtfully. "When's the wedding?"
"August," Sherlock answers – not without a whisper of a grin.
"Yes, I can have the law revoked by then. It will take some doing, but I'll make it a priority – for you, dear brother."
Sherlock nods, more pleased than he's willing to show. "Mycroft, I'm offended. Aren't I already a priority? Or are you too occupied with the Korean elections to tend to the whims of your little brother?"
Mycroft picks up his umbrella and pretends to inspect it, as he often tends to do, and ignores Sherlock's sarcasm. "I can't say as much for some of the other segregation laws, however. The ban on fairies voting and running for office, for example. Revoking an unconstitutional obstruction on marriage is one thing – and nothing I haven't done before, mind you. Revoking the second class citizenship of fairies entirely is quite another."
"Ugh," Sherlock groans, bitterly. "How long is all of this going to take?"
"It's a worldwide civil rights movement, Sherlock. These things take time."
"Well, they shouldn't. It's so painfully simple to comprehend. I don't understand why people remain so adamantly ignorant."
"We're already making progress, Sherlock," Mycroft reminds him, with a patient smile. "The ban on fairies attending the same schools as humans didn't even last a year before it was overturned by the masses. For a civil rights movement, things are moving relatively quickly."
Sherlock stares into space for a while. He picks up his violin bow from the table and starts fiddling with it as he thinks. "Do you suppose… when John and I are older, retired…" He flips the bow in his hands, over and over. "Do you imagine things might be settled by then? That John might be… that he might be free? Accepted?"
Mycroft takes a moment before answering. "I'm afraid I can't say, Sherlock. Perhaps – perhaps not. Only time will tell." He takes another moment, and then adds, smiling – "Although, if I were to give an honest prediction as of right now, I'd say… most definitely."
Sherlock smiles with him. He can't help himself.
"Well, brother mine, I really must be going," Mycroft says, as he stands and brushes off his jacket. "And I don't recall congratulating you yet."
"The engagement, of course. Which of you was it who asked?"
Sherlock grins, and it's a real grin. "John. Predictably."
"Mm, predictably indeed." Mycroft starts making his lazy way to the door. "I look forward to the wedding. For now, however, I've got a rather enormous mess to clean up. James Moriarty certainly did leave a troublesome web behind for me to deal with."
Sherlock's head perks up. "Moriarty? What about him?"
"Hm, Sherlock, I'm surprised you haven't heard." Mycroft sighs. "He had some greater scheme in mind, starting back when he was getting involved with you… he had formed an alliance with those vile creatures, the Vide. You encountered one of them, I believe?"
Sherlock fidgets a bit at the thought of the sixteen-eyed monster. "Hm. Yes."
"Well, as it turns out, the Vide aren't really that sympathetic towards world-dominating psychopaths. They actually prefer to be left alone, for the most part. Devouring lith energy in peace. Moriarty got in a bit over his head, I'm afraid."
"So? What did the Vide do to him?"
"Exactly what you'd expect a group of soul-eating monsters to do," Mycroft answers matter-of-factly. "They ate his soul."
Sherlock lets his breath out slowly. "Frankly, I can't imagine it was much of a meal."
"No, I can't imagine it was. Funnily enough, dear brother, I'm now officially running late. Ta, Sherlock." Mycroft turns to leave.
"Do be careful to avoid Mrs. Hudson on your way out," Sherlock calls after him. "I think she's just whipped up a batch of cookies – wouldn't want your diet to go to waste."
Mycroft gives him one last withering glare before he saunters out the door.
Sherlock sits in his chair in the quiet flat, filling up the silent room with mindless violin music, and waits for John to come home.
John feels like he's floating, which is a feeling he knows very well – from personal experience. Today, however, he's not even lifting a wing, and every moment still feels like walking on air.
Sherlock's off talking to someone. John's mulling around a bit, saying hello to guests he hasn't seen in far too long, catching up on how've-you-been's and how's-the-wife's and so on and so forth. John doesn't normally go for such meaningless chitchat, but today is a very special day.
After a while, Sherlock finally comes back over and finds him, greeting him with a familiar smirk. "How are you feeling?" he asks.
"Same as you, I'd imagine."
"Then you'd imagine correctly."
John beams at him.
Lestrade waves to them across the room and walks over, grinning madly, and claps John on the back. "You two look ridiculously chuffed," he tells them. "If you get any more bloody cheerful, I think everyone in this room's going to be sick."
"Sod off, it's my wedding day," John jabs, grinning from ear to ear.
"Fucking hell it is, and about bloody time." Lestrade laughs. "Five years of watching you two act like a married couple celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and it's only now you finally get some rings on your fingers. I can't tell you how glad I am Mycroft finally got that law revoked."
"Neither can we," Sherlock says. "I made sure to thank him." John stares up at him, eyebrow quirked – it's not a very common occurrence that Sherlock displays a grateful attitude towards his brother. John supposes that this is a very special occasion.
"I thanked him as well," Lestrade says, nodding his head. "You know, he's been working with me on some stuff for the EPM. He's pretty efficient, your brother." Lestrade looks over both of their heads, staring into the distance, a bit swallowed in thought. When he looks back, he gives them a slight wink. "In more ways that one."
He gives them a wave and wanders off. Sherlock and John look at each other, wearing matching expressions of puzzlement.
"Did he just insinuate what I thought he just insinuated?" John asks.
"I'm a bit hesitant to find out," Sherlock answers.
"But… no, he can't mean… I mean, really…"
"I suppose you never know with Mycroft," Sherlock mumbles, still a bit shaken. "I wouldn't put it past him. Anyway, Lestrade would seem to be his type."
"Mycroft has a type?"
"You'd be surprised."
John stares blankly at the floor, not entirely sure what to think, until Harry comes over and gives him a tackling hug. He laughs, breaking out of his shocked daze and patting her on the back.
"My kid brother's grown up," she says, mock-crying. He laughs again. "So, Johnny, how's married life treating you?"
"I've only been married twenty minutes, Harry. Ask me again in five years."
"I'm sure your answer will be the same," Sherlock comments.
John turns to look at him, smiling warmly. "You seem awfully sure of yourself."
"I am. Aren't you?"
"Absolutely." John gives him a little grin and turns back to Harry. He notices Molly waiting next to her, a bit awkwardly. He's about to ask if Harry's been introduced to her yet, but Harry beats him to it.
"So John, you know Molly?" she asks. Molly shifts her feet and bites her lip.
John raises an eyebrow. "Er… yeah, of course I know Molly. She's one of my best friends – I invited her here. You know Molly?"
"Yeah, of course I do." Harry shrugs her shoulders. "I had no idea you knew her, though, until she told me she was coming to your wedding."
"I… okay, then." John raises an eyebrow. "So. Where do you know her from?"
"Well…" Harry quirks her lip up a bit. "I did tell you I had a girlfriend."
John stares at her.
"You… you can't… hold on, really?" His draw falls open. "You? Molly? I mean… really?"
Molly shrugs. "I dunno, John, it just sort of… happened? I suppose?"
Harry puts an arm around her. Molly doesn't protest – in fact, she leans into it and smiles awkwardly. "We met through our mutual friend, Mike Stamford. He said something about having a knack at playing matchmaker later on – no idea what that's supposed to mean."
"I didn't even know she was your sister until half a year ago," Molly tells John. "I would have told you, but I figured that Harriet already had. Apparently she didn't."
John finally recovers from his shock. "Wow, I mean… wow. I'm just a bit surprised, to be honest, but I'm happy you two are happy."
"Yeah, we are," Harry says, giving Molly a warm look – Molly smiles. Harry turns back to John, with mounting excitement. "Did you know, she can see liths?"
"That's quite old news, do keep up," Sherlock says.
"Harriet's been researching," Molly tells them. "She's a really fantastic witch. You should see her transfiguration spells, they're amazing."
"Oh, I'm just your average magically-gifted half-fairy," Harry says, but not without a bit of a blush. "Anyway, I haven't quite figured out where her powers come from. I think it has something to do with a magical defect in her birth… a sort of cross-over between a human birth and a fairy birth, where somehow the excess lith energy that would normally result in a fairy baby got tangled up with her during pregnancy. It's just a theory, though, I could be totally wrong."
"That would be a first," John says, sarcastically but not without a bit of fraternal warmth. Harry sticks her tongue out at him, and the two walk back out onto the dance floor, leaving Sherlock and John to stand by themselves.
John lets out a long breath. "God, it's just a night for shocking revelations, isn't it?"
"I couldn't agree more."
"I think I'm still in a daze. I need more wine."
"Help yourself. Get me a glass too, will you? I rather like it."
"Will do," John says. He turns around and comes face to face with Matilda Watson.
There's a beat, frozen in the air with the thickness of fog. "Mum," he grins, finally, and hugs her tight. She squeezes him hard before releasing him, holding him by the shoulders and looking him up and down, beaming in the most maternal way possible.
"You look absurdly handsome," she tells him. Her voice is bright and soft, as though you can hear her smile channeled through her lips into her words. "I expect nothing less from my young man, of course."
He feels something tugging at his throat as he keeps smiling. "I'm not such a young man anymore, mum."
"You are to me." She hugs him again. John puts his hands, almost protectively, over his mother's wings. They're a bit old, and starting to pucker with age, but still just as strong as they ever were.
When she pulls back, there are tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry I couldn't be here earlier. I was so frightened I would miss the whole thing."
"It's okay. I'm just glad you're here now."
She nods over at Sherlock, who's talking to an elderly couple. "Is this gorgeous young man over here your husband?" she asks.
John practically beams at her. "He is indeed."
"Good, I want to have a word with him." She walks over to Sherlock, her head held high and her back straight – just the way she's always walked.
John taps his husband on the shoulder. "Sherlock, sorry to interrupt, but I'd like to introduce you to my mum."
Sherlock turns to look at him, and nods. "Excellent, because my parents would also like to meet you." He gestures at the elderly couple. "John, this is my mother and father."
John's eyes go a bit wide. "Really?"
"Why the look of surprise, John?"
John shakes his head. "Nothing, you two just seem a bit… well, a bit ordinary, I suppose."
To his relief, Sherlock's parents laugh. "You wouldn't be the first to say that," they told him. Sherlock's mum looks over at John's. "Your son is quite the looker, Matilda. I must say Sherlock did well for himself."
Matilda laughs, and John raises an eyebrow. "Do you know each other, too?"
"Oh, we've just been chatting in the corner," Mr. Holmes explains. "Giving each other the your-son-better-be-good-to-my-son speeches and all that."
Sherlock sighs. "Please tell me you haven't been bringing up embarrassing childhood anecdotes to my mother-in-law."
"About that…" says Mr. Holmes sheepishly, and both Ms. Holmes and Matilda burst out laughing.
"Don't worry John, I've been sharing some stories of my own," Matilda tells him.
John puts his head in his hands. "I suppose it had to happen sooner or later."
Sherlock stares at the floor for a moment before speaking. "The significance of this moment ought to be noted at some time or another, you know," he says.
John raises and eyebrow at him. "Why? What's special about it?"
"We've got two families here," Sherlock says. "One that grew up thinking without question that humans were the only species on the planet that could be considered people, and one that grew up fighting for their own personhood." Sherlock glances over at Matilda, who smiles back at him. "It's quite a contrast. And yet, here we are, discussing embarrassing childhood stories at the wedding of the families' two children, who weren't allowed to be married not a month before." Sherlock clears his throat, a little surprised at his own speech. "One for the history books, I'd venture to say."
John stares up at him, slightly confused but smiling. His mother is watching the two of them, deep in thought.
"You know, Sherlock," she says after a moment, "I came over here to give you a speech. The be-good-to-my-son-or-else speech – you know. But I think… I don't think I need to tell you that anymore. I get the feeling that you're already good to him."
"Of course," Sherlock answers, sincere and honest. "I've tried my hardest since the day I first realized I loved him. Probably even before that."
John swallows down a lump in his throat. "You don't need to try," he tells him. "You're doing fine."
"Oh, what are you boys doing, still talking to us?" Ms. Holmes gestures pointedly towards the dance floor in the middle of the reception. "I could be wrong, but a certain son of mine has always had a love for dancing, and I think it may be his husband's duty to take care of that."
All three parents smile as John tugs Sherlock out onto the dance floor. "Come on, you big git, it's my wedding," John says, and Sherlock laughs as John holds him in the wrong position and steps on his feet and ends up being a bloody terrible dancer, and neither of them mind in the slightest.
"Sherlock, will you come outside with me for a bit?"
John sighs and starts pulling him up out of his chair. "Come on, husband. I've got something to show you."
"Is it a murder?" Sherlock asks, rolling his eyes.
"No, it's better than a murder."
"Incorrect. Nothing's better than a murder. Let me wallow in my lethargy in peace. Husband."
"No, you're getting up and coming with me." John finally tugs him into a standing position. "It's a wedding gift, by the way."
"It's a little late for that."
"Oh come off it, no it's not. We're on our honeymoon."
"Mm," Sherlock agrees. He reluctantly pulls on his coat and scarf. "Yes, and it's terribly boring."
"It's just for a week. And it's supposed to be relaxing. You're just being contrary."
"Perhaps." Sherlock follows him out the door of their little house. "Or maybe you're just dull."
"I hope not, because now you're stuck with me."
"Fine. Where is it that we're going?"
John grins up at him. "Somewhere with a lot of sky."
They walk for ten minutes or so before John stops in the middle of a large meadow. It's absolutely gorgeous: rolling hills of wildflowers and mountains in the distance and a robin's egg blue sky overhead, with wispy white clouds. John stops, nodding to himself, and then retrieves a small vial from his pocket.
He hands it to Sherlock. "Take a swig of this. Just one gulp, mind you."
Sherlock eyes it hesitantly. "What is it?"
"You'll find out when you drink it. Now drink."
Sherlock gives him a look, and uncorks the bottle, giving it a small swig. He hands it back to John.
"Disgusting," he says, and then waits. Nothing happens.
Half a minute passes before he sighs and looks at John. "What's going on? Is something supposed to be happening?"
To his surprise, John grins from ear to ear. "Look down," he says.
Sherlock looks down.
His feet are no longer on to the ground.
"John…" he cries out, reaching out a hand in surprise. John takes him and steadies him, still grinning. Sherlock's feet begin floating up, along with the rest of him. He looks at John with wide eyes.
"Anti-gravity potion," John explains. "I had Harry whip up a batch before the wedding. It should wear off in about four hours."
Sherlock raises an eyebrow, still holding onto John's arm for dear life. His feet have floated up to the sky – he's nearly horizontal. "John? What's this for?"
John reaches a hand out and tugs Sherlock's feet back down. When he's somewhere close to vertical, he takes both of his husband's hands in his. He breathes in.
"Sherlock, the sky… the sky is like this whole other incredible world, that's right above our heads. And me… I get to live in it, every day." John smiles, sincerely. "And I want to share that with you."
Sherlock stays frozen for a moment, and then nods. John grips his hands tighter and spreads his wings.
"Are you ready?" he asks him.
"I suppose," Sherlock answers.
John takes off. He pulls Sherlock upwards, towards the massive expanse of cerulean, where the deep color melts into white feathers and then back again into blue. Sherlock, completely weightless, grips John's hands as if his life depended on it, and stares into John's face – refusing to look down.
John brings them up, and up, and up. When the air is whipping cold and he's starting to get a bit light headed from oxygen shortage – his absolute favorite height to be – he smiles at his husband. "Look down," he says.
Sherlock looks down.
He stays quiet for a while. When he looks back at John, his eyes seem red – a bit watery. "Thank you, John," he says. He says it quietly. "I… thank you."
John kisses him. He lets go of Sherlock's hands to cradle the sides of Sherlock's head and run his fingers through his curls as he puts everything he's ever needed to say directly into Sherlock's lips. Sherlock pulls away after too short a time, gasping for air in the oxygen-deprived atmosphere.
"Bit hard to breathe up here," John mentions. "You get used to it after a while."
"Perhaps," Sherlock says. He looks down around them again, at the world, the Earth, so small and so enormous beneath them. "Although… this is something I don't think I'll ever get used to."
John looks down with him. "There's no better place to put things in perspective than up here," he says.
"Mm," Sherlock agrees. "The world's changed so drastically since we met."
"It's going to continue to change."
"And what about us?" Sherlock looks at John, biting his lip. "Will we always be… this? Whatever it is we are?"
John doesn't answer. He just laughs, which is all the answer Sherlock needed, to be honest.
They don't come down for a long time. John brings them around the tips of mountains and down into the dips of valleys and back up into the infinite expanse of cold sky. About a half an hour after John brings them back to Earth, the anti-gravity draft wears off, but Sherlock doesn't notice when it does. Even with his feet solidly on the ground, he still feels lighter than air.
Author's note: Well, here we are. The end. It's been such a fantastic authorial trek to make with all of you. I'm so sad this is over, but every story has an ending.
Thank you so much to every reader who stuck through from the beginning. You've all been so fantastic and so supportive and wonderful. I can't explain how happy it made me to come home after a long day and see all the lovely things you guys have been saying. Writing this story has made me so happy, and I can only hope it's made all of you happy as well.
HOWEVER. It's not entirely over! Like I promised last chapter, I've already started changing it into a novel! I'm posting it on figment and fictionpress (just go to those sites and search "maggot and madman," it should show up. I'll link them on my profile, too). The first two chapters are already posted on both websites. Please give the new story a read, because while it will still be the same as this story at heart, there's a lot of new stuff that's getting added in and rewritten. As always, your feedback is indespensible!
ALSO! I'm not going to write a full on sequel, buuut I've just got too many ideas in my head to end the story here. I'll be posting a handful of ficlets (here on ff) and I'll be writing them indefinitely, so you'll never have to run out of Maggot and Madman :) Ficlets may include: the proposal, some nasty transfiguration spells, and whatever else catches my fancy. Make sure you're following me so you don't miss them!
And those are all the announcements I have to make! I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I started writing this. It began as a fun side project but it's become so much more. Again, thank you all so much for sticking with me.
Until next time, darlings.