Chapter 1: Mary's POV
Irene is still shivering when she comes to bed with Mary. The bed isn't large, both Mary and John preferring to snuggle up close, and she can feel Irene shaking next to her. She closes her arms around Irene, to warm her up, and Irene laughs.
"What would your husband think about this, you in bed with another woman?" she asks, and Mary doesn't have an answer. It's innocent, isn't it, and at the same time it's not. Irene turns in her arms and kisses her softly. Mary kisses her back, and Irene smooths a hand over her hair. It should feel wrong, but it feels so right, having Irene here in her bed, and Mary holds on tighter to Irene to keep herself from thinking.
In the morning everything looks bleak. Mary wakes up alone in the bed she supposedly shares with John, the one she shared last night with Irene. It didn't go further than a couple of kisses, but she has broken her wedding vows. Some people would say that love between two women can't exist like that, but Mary knows better. When she was studying she had a room mate called Anne, and they had touched in the darkness of their room, breathless and wanting, and she feels the same way now, with John, as she did with Anne all those years ago. She feels the same with Irene. She knows it isn't right, not at all, but she can't keep herself from wishing Irene was still there.
Irene still shows up, but she never comes in late at night, and she never sits close to Mary. There's a new tension between them now, in every look and every word. Mary no longer puts her hand on Irene's arm without thinking first. Irene never shows up when she knows John is going to be away with Sherlock. They're both fighting the temptation lest it overcomes them, but some days all Mary has to do is look at Irene's hair, her beautiful body seen under the dresses, and she feels faint with lust, the need to touch, to hold, to rip off Irene's dress and touch every last inch of her. She sometimes thinks she can see the same fire in Irene's eyes, and every time it just makes her self control slip just a little bit more.
Dinner. They're having dinner, her and John have invited Sherlock, which is not in itself unusual, but he brings Irene, and Mary hastens to ask the maid to bring another plate. Irene chastises Sherlock for giving Mary trouble, and Mary insists there is no trouble at all. Irene's eyes sparkle in the low light when she looks at Mary.
"Men," she says in that irresistable accent. "I don't know how you stand being married to one."
"They're not all bad," Mary says and kisses the top of John's head as she passes him to sit down again. Irene smiles at her, and Sherlock looks at her with narrowed eyes. Whatever he sees there seems to please him though, and he spends the evening telling outrageous stories. Mary only has eyes for Irene.
In the end it's not her fault. Whatever happens can be blamed solely on Sherlock, and his ability to make stupid and impossible things sound reasonable.
"I need your help," is what he says when he's been banging on her door in the middle of the night. Mary is wearing her morning gown tied tightly over her night shirt, and he just looks at her. "No time for your propriety, lives are at stake!"
"Where is John?" Mary asks, because he was helping Sherlock with his case, and he's not here now.
"Safe," Sherlock says. "I need you to put on this and come with me, no time to lose." He holds out a dress to Mary, and she sighs and closes the door to put it on. It's a bit more revealing than she usually wears, but nothing too bad, and Sherlock looks approving when she comes out to show him. He takes her hand and drags her out to a hansom cab waiting just outside the door.
When they get to their destination Mary sees John and Irene waiting for them. Irene is wearing a dress similar to her own, and John looks grim.
"Holmes, I'm sure this isn't necessary," he says.
"Nonsense, besides, she already agreed to help, and you wouldn't presume to tell Mrs Watson what she can and can't do, would you?" Sherlock says, smiling. John sighs. He looks at Mary.
"Did you agree to this insane plan?" he asks her.
"It seemed reasonable," she says, and smiles. Truth be told, if she wasn't already yearning to touch Irene she probably wouldn't have agreed to act with her, even if it was to catch a killer, but as it was, playing prostitutes (and apparently this man likes to have to females perform for him, so to speak, and then kill them) was an opportunity she couldn't resist.
After, she and John make love in an alley near the house where the wealthy man lived. She feels almost like the lady of the night she's pretending to be, except John kisses her, and tells her how much he loves her, and she wonders if Irene and Sherlock are doing the same somewhere. Wishes they were close by, next to her and John, close enough to touch. She wonders if John wishes the same, and if she will one day find the courage to ask him.
He knows. He must know. There is no way he can't know, not after what he's seen them do. He is Sherlock Holmes, of course he knows. Mary wrings her hands, walking back and forth, waiting for Sherlock to come out of his room. Waiting for him to tell her that he knows, that he will tell John, that he wants to kill her for stealing his beloved. Mary almost laughs at that, through her anxiety. As if Irene could ever belong to anyone but herself.
"Sometimes, a little lie won't hurt anyone," Sherlock says from behind her. Mary jumps, she hasn't heard him sneaking up on her.
"What do you mean?" she asks. He smiles at her, that smile without any warmth in it.
"I mean, Mrs Watson, that I won't tell if you won't. This is something best kept secret, wouldn't you agree?" he says, and she nods. "Besides, as I'm sure you know, there is no such thing as tribadism. It's a myth created by those perverted men who would do anything, even have intercourse for reasons other than having babies."
He is looking straight at her, and Mary can feel herself flush. It's as if he's reading her mind, and she's not sure whether she likes it or not.
"Yes, well, Mr Holmes, some people will believe anything," she says.
"Indeed they will, Mrs Watson," he says. "Now, was that all? I'm in a terribly sensitive stage with my..."
"Yes, thank you, Mr Holmes," Mary says, not wanting to hear the rest of that sentence. "Good day."
She leaves, head held high, but mind still spinning.
Mary is not the first female lover she's had, not even the second or the third, but there is something special about Mary. Something that makes her think about Mary at least as often as she thinks of Sherlock. She misses Mary when she is away, and at times she comes back to London for her sake instead of Sherlock's. He knows, but he doesn't say anything, just as she doesn't say anything about the strangely close relationship he has with Dr Watson.
She wishes they lived in a different time. A more open one. One where love between two women isn't regarded as something strange, or as something that doesn't even exist. A time and place where it is possible to love more than one person at the same time. She doesn't know if such a thing exists, but she wishes fervently that it does.
In Paris, Irene flirts with an Arabic Prince of some kind, and gets invited to stay at his home. She does, even though she knows the dangers. She can take care of herself, and it does sound luxurious. She might be able to steal something valuable, if she plays her cards right.
When the Prince only wants her conversation, she is confused, but pleased. They talk into the night about one thing and the other, and at some point she mentions Mary. The Prince smiles at her.
"I knew I was not wrong about you, miss Adler," he says. "You are the same as me." She raises an eyebrow.
"Perhaps," she answers. "Is that why you invited me?"
"Perhaps," he says. Irene is still confused, but she doesn't show it. "We shall see."
Irene takes another sip of her wine.
The best times are when she shows up at Mary's door, and John is out. The fall into bed together, shameless, and Irene can let herself go. She doesn't have to hide herself from the world anymore, just her and Mary, and Mary stops hiding too.
Irene has never kept a diary. Too dangerous in her line of work. She knows that Mary keeps one, and her husband too. She wonders what Mary writes in her. If she writes about the everyday life, or the times she gets dragged into Sherlock's crazy world. Mostly, Irene wonders if Mary writes about her. She thinks not, and that thought shouldn't hurt, because it's too dangerous for Mary to write about her, but it does.
Irene starts sending boxes to Mary. Just small things she finds on her travels, jewelry sometimes, but most often a pretty shell, or some trinket she's found at a market stall. She doesn't think too much of it, she just wants Mary to have those things.
When she comes to visit Mary next she finds a large chest filled with all her boxes.
Irene hopes that they will one day be able to resolve this situation they have gotten themselves into. That they will be able to live somewhere, maybe all four of them. Grow old together. She knows it won't happen, but she hopes.
They are kissing, right in the sitting room, with no thought of who could come in. It has been too long, Irene has missed Mary so much, she can't stop. Mary doesn't even protest when Irene pushes her down on the sofa and starts pushing her skirts up. They are so caught up they don't even hear the doow opening, just someone's indrawn breath. Irene looks up and sees John, looking slightly shocked, and Sherlock, smirking. Sherlock pats John's chest and goes to sit down in one of the chairs.
"Please, don't stop on our account," he says as he lights his pipe.
Not beta-read. Concrit and feedback welcome.
There will be a cleaned up version of this at some point, just not right now :p