He sat in the window seat of Holmes Manor's study, gazing out at the night sky. He was up much later than usual, but the ability to stay up late was one of the perks of being semi-retired. Another of those perks was nestled in his lap, her back flush to his chest and her head tucked neatly under his chin. He smiled as he surveyed her sleeping form. She had a few gray hairs at her temples now, laugh lines encased her mouth, and she was a bit thicker at the middle – if he were truly honest, he'd admit that he was too – but she was still just as lovely as she had been that day at Bart's when he'd first really noticed her.
The first of the shooting stars crossed the sky, and he gently nudged her. "Wake up, darling. You don't want to miss the show."
She raised her head and watched in wonder as the meteors streaked across the sky. Having spent her whole life in cities, she'd never see the full glory of the Perseids. "Amazing," she breathed.
It was a perfect moment, but behind every perfect moment, there are a million sacrifices. He'd allowed her cat to move in with them and held her when it died, despite the fact that he'd detested the creature. She stayed up with him when Sherlock relapsed after John's wedding, then soothed the doctor after Mycroft had an unusual lapse in self-control. They'd both given up London for a slower-paced life at his ancestral home.
Another sacrifice came in the form of the phone next to him. It clattered to life, and he pursed his lips at the caller ID before putting the caller on speakerphone.
The voice on the other end shouted, "Father! Mummy! The Perseids have started! Can you see them?"
Mycroft rolled his eyes; Hamish, like his uncle before him, had a gift for ruining the moment. Molly bit back a giggle as the diplomat responded. "Yes, Hamish, it's quite a spectacle. Are you boys all right?"
A second voice replied, "We're awesome, Uncle Mycroft! How are you?"
Molly's face reddened with suppressed laughter. Mycroft frowned; even in the darkness, he could tell what she was imagining. Muting the mouthpiece of the phone, Mycroft said, "I assure you, Sherlock's and my childhood was not nearly as amusing as you think," he sniffed. "And I don't see why John and Mary had to foist their little hooligan onto us."
"He's not a hooligan! And he's here because he wouldn't get as nice a view of the sky at home, and it's John and Mary's anniversary and they want to be alone," she gently chided.
Noticing the sour expression on her husband's face, she purred, "And because having the boys camp outside gives us the chance to be alone."
The corners of his mouth turned up at this and he clicked the mute button off. "Thank you, Michael. Would you put Gregory on, please?"
A few moments later, a slightly older boy's voice came through. "What is it, Father?"
"Is everything all right with you boys?"
They could almost hear their first son roll his eyes. "Yes. Hamish and Michael are just over-excited, as always."
"Status quo is good, I suppose. Gregory, your mother and I are going to bed. Fetch the gamekeeper if there's an emergency."
Hamish's voice came through. "What's an emergency?"
Mycroft gave Hamish the tone he used to reserve for Sherlock. "Someone's arm is off."
"Yes, Father," Gregory said.
"Thank you, Gregory. Good night," the eldest Holmes replied fondly. After hanging up, he dashed off a text to the Manor's security detail.
Molly extricated herself from Mycroft's lap and then held out her hand. "Coming?"
"Of course, my darling," he whispered, enveloping her in his arms.
Outside, three boys marveled at the lights crossing the sky. Inside, the adults appreciated the darkness.
A/N: In case anyone's wondering, Hamish Holmes and Michael Watson are about five years old here. Gregory Holmes is ten.
Thank you to all the lovely people who've reviewed, followed, or favorite this story! I originally wrote this as a cure for insomnia (really) and had no idea I'd get such an enthusiastic response. Long live Mollcroft! :)