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Anthea returns with a bottle of promethazine with codeine and a gun in her coat.

“You’re overdoing it, my dear. I’m fine.” The fit of coughing that follows somewhat negates his statement, but Mycroft Holmes will not admit defeat.

She pulls back the curtain, checking the street below. “Yes, sir.”

The Venice apartment is protected, maintained, surveilled. Anthea steps through the rooms anyway, clearing each in turn. She sets the bottle of purple liquid on the counter, fills the kettle, pulls the tea from the cupboard in movements smooth and measured.

“It’s a simple cold. No need to slip drugs into the tea,” Mycroft says when he sees her carry in the tray, but he is saying it from the divan, half-reclined already.

“Of course not, sir.” She pours a cup. She pours a dose. Looks him in the eye. “You are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself.”

Mycroft’s eyes tighten a fraction, his lips pull up one centimeter at the left corner, but another cough thunders through him and he cannot maintain his expression of annoyance.

“Quite,” he says when he’s recovered, and he downs the medicine, chases it with the tea.

He makes a face--she knew he would--at the honey she’s added, not his custom, but--also as she knew he would--he doesn’t comment, unwilling to admit that its warm and viscous sweetness soothes the rawness of his throat.

He sinks further into the deep seat of the divan, and, finally relenting, lifts his feet, settles his head.

“Six to eight hours?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Mind the shop, my dear.”

“Yes, sir.”

She clears the table of pot, cup, bottle, sweeping it all into the kitchen, washing up, restoring order.

Blanket in hand, she returns, settling woolen cables over his sleeping form.

She turns the armchair to face the door, sets the gun on the side table. Pulls stretched linen from her bag and counts her stitches, little x’s lining up in rows as she waits and watches.