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The Proposal

Chapter Text

John Watson was panicking. And that was more than 'a bit not good'. Why? Because John, John was known for his ability to keep a clear head and remain calm in any stressful situation. Afghanistan, his first meeting with Mycroft Holmes, James Moriarty and any other criminals he and his partner, Sherlock Holmes, may have dealt with and John's mind was calm, his hand steady. Yes, John Watson could look death in the face and still breathe evenly. But let the former soldier find out his partner was going to propose and give him a gaudy wedding ring, and John found himself in serious trouble.

Chapter Text

A few days earlier

 

Sherlock had left for Russia the afternoon before. It seemed Mycroft had decided to collect on a favour.  John wasn’t exactly sure what he had done for his younger brother but Sherlock had left with little complaint. Work had prevented him from going as well, but a promise of three days off upon his lover’s return had seemed to pacify the consulting detective. The texts John had received in the last few hours lead the doctor to believe it would probably be four days, at the most, before the case was solved. 

 

The sound of the doorbell drew John out of his thoughts. Knowing Mrs. Hudson had left to do some shopping just after lunch, he went downstairs and opened their front door. DI Lestrade stood just outside and flashed his friend a grin as he followed John up.

 

“Hello John, how are you doing by yourself? Enjoying the peace for once?”  Greg chuckled as the two men sat down on the sofa.  “You must feel like you’re on holiday”

 

“Oh, I’ve managed to keep busy so far. Spent the morning cleaning the place up a bit and I’ve got a shift at work in less than two hours. Plus, he's texted me at least thirty times since he left so I haven't been able to really miss him yet. Sorry, would you like some tea?” John moved to stand but was stopped by Lestrade’s hand on his shoulder.

 

“No tea, thanks. I just stopped by to drop off some papers for a cold case Sherlock’s looking into for me. Turns out they were misfiled so it took a bit longer, wanted to drop them by while I had the chance.”

 

“Right, not a problem, I’ll make sure he gets them once he gets back.”

 

John placed the folder on their shared desk and turned back to Lestrade. The humour once filling the DI’s face had been replaced with an uneasy expression. 

 

“Actually John, I didn’t just come here because of the papers. There’s something I need to talk to you about. Well, about you and Sherlock really.”

 

John couldn’t help but tense and it was not missed by Greg. Everyone knew John was a private person, especially when it came to his romance with his flatmate.

 

“I’m not here asking for information, and I definitely don’t want to know anything about your sex life.” Lestrade rolled his eyes as the left corner of his mouth lifted.

 

John chuckled then took a deep breath. “Okay, you don’t want to ask questions about my relationship with Sherlock but you do want to talk about me and Sherlock.”

 

“It’s no secret to anyone who knows the both of you that it’s serious. I mean, honestly, the two of you act like you’ve been married for years and I can’t imagine anyone else being able to put up with Sherlock the way you do. Though I’m sure it isn’t always easy for him either if we’re being honest.”

 

John smirked.

 

“I know the two of you have been talking about getting married sometime in the future. Making it all legal and everything; can’t say it’s a surprise to many of us.” 

 

John watched as the middle finger on his friend’s right hand started tapping against his knee.  Playing poker with the inspector had given John the chance to learn there was a reason the man never went undercover. After some study, John knew that a rub against his left eye brow meant he was bluffing. A hand rubbing the back of the neck meant he had nothing and a middle finger tapping a knee meant Greg was nervous. And seeing it right then began to make John nervous.

 

“Okay, I know you well enough to know when you don’t like what you’re about to say. So what do you really want to tell me?”

 

John’s expression would have made Sherlock smile if the man had been there to see it. When faced with ‘Captain Watson’ it was nearly impossible for anyone to deny him. Sherlock himself had tried and failed miserably.

 

Lestrade took a deep breath. “All right, you know there are times Mycroft gets in touch with me. When it suits him he sends a car around and we meet for tea and discuss Sherlock.  Apparently, today Mycroft decided it would be a good idea for the both of us to chat. Before I left, I was given a task he found unpleasant. One he didn’t want to do himself. Just my luck.”

 

John quickly ran through any problem areas Mycroft might be worried about.  Their home life? Yes, things had been rather quiet lately, but surprisingly, Sherlock had managed to keep busy. With his ‘necessary’ experiments and the cold cases Lestrade had been giving him 221B had been a relatively safe place. Well, the experiments carried their own level of danger at times, but John and Mrs. Hudson were so used to them they barely noticed anymore.

 

Their safety? A few of the cases had ended in the chasing down of a suspect or two but nothing dangerous. And while there had been some bumps and bruises along the way it wasn’t anything both men weren’t accustomed to.

 

Their relationship? John knew he had Mycroft’s blessing. It had been hard won but he had always believed that nothing of great importance came easily. Yes, the brotherly talk had been unpleasant but John understood. He had even thanked John for being brave enough to take on such a challenge as his little brother. John also knew Mummy approved of him and now had her heart set on a summer wedding. So everything should be fine in that area too.

 

“Look John, the reason Mycroft asked me to come here was to give you a bit of a warning. A heads up I guess you could say.”

 

Confusion filled John’s face as he listened.

 

“It seems Sherlock went to visit his brother yesterday morning and had some wedding bands with him. I guess he was pretty chuffed about what he had chosen and couldn’t wait to show someone. Since Mycroft’s club was closest he went there.”

 

John failed to see why he would need warning about Sherlock purchasing wedding bands.  John had no interest in wandering through a jewellers and his partner was aware of John’s likes and dislikes. 

 

Lestrade continued on. “Well, Mycroft was pretty surprised with what he was shown. Seems Sherlock had each of the gold rings engraved on the outside. Said he wanted everyone to see. He had the medical symbol put on for you and a magnifying glass for him set on either side of a rose quartz meant to symbolize your love. I guess Mycroft was a bit thrown and didn’t have a chance to really take it all in before Sherlock tore out of the club.”

 

John tried not to laugh but, giving in to the need, he started patting his friend on the shoulder.

 

“Tell me Greg, exactly how long have you been thinking this little story up? Can you imagine if Sherlock had actually gone through with such a thing? It would really be something to see, bloody terrifying.” He glanced over at Lestrade’s face.

 

“John, I promise you this is not a joke. I’m your friend, your mate. I would hope that if I was going to play a prank on you I’d make it a helluva lot better than what I just shared with you. I’m not joking; I just finished having tea with Mycroft no more than an hour ago. Then, I went and got the files for Sherlock and came right here. That is the God’s honest truth.”

 

Seeing the earnest expression staring back at him, John felt a moment of self doubt, a fleeting moment, before a smile was firmly back on his face.

 

“Thanks again for the laugh and I will make sure those papers get to Sherlock when he comes back in a few days.”

 

Lestrade shook his head in defeat as he stood. “I told him you wouldn’t believe me. Told him it was better if it came from him. But you know how stubborn the Holmes men are.  Look, I’d better be getting back. Lots of paper work to finish before the day is over.”

 

The two men shook hands and Lestrade made his way to the stairs. Just before closing the door he glanced back. “Look, if you do find you need to talk to someone in the near future, give me a call. Okay? We’ll go out for a pint if you need to escape.”

 

Before John could answer, the door closed and he heard footsteps descending.  Looking at the clock John realised he needed to get ready for work quickly if he didn’t want to be late.

Chapter Text

Another work day finished and John was on his way home, Chinese take away in hand. The emails received from Sherlock throughout the day had confirmed the stupidity of the local police force he was being subjected to and the certainty that he would be at home no later than forty-eight hours later. 

 

John’s plans for the night were to watch the newest episode of The Apprentice while he ate his dinner and then uninterrupted sleep before he had to be back at work the next morning.  Unfortunately, those plans were put on hold when a black car pulled up to the curb beside him. Knowing it would be faster if he just gave in, John stopped.  The window lowered and Mycroft Holmes looked back at him.

 

“Good evening John, would you care for a lift home? I’m sure your leg must be sore after such a long day’s work and I know the television show you like to watch will soon be on.”

 

The disdainful curling of Mycroft’s lips let John know what he thought of the doctor’s choice of viewing material. John considered saying ‘no thanks’ and continuing on but both Holmes brothers were known for their tenacity. Also, with only ten minutes before John’s show, that meant this kidnapping might be very short indeed. 

 

“Sure, thanks,” John answered. He quickly took a seat across from the ‘British government’, smiling fondly as he remembered Sherlock’s words from two years earlier.

 

“I’m certain you’re enjoying the peace and quiet encompassing 221B Baker Street whilst Sherlock is away.  The lack of dangerous experiments must be a relief as well.”

 

“I won’t deny it’s been a nice few days. But I’ll be glad when Sherlock gets back home.” John glanced out of the window briefly. It was time to find out the reason for the elder Holmes’ visit.  “I’m sure you’re quite busy with everything going on in North Korea and all, so why exactly am I getting a ride home tonight?”

 

Mycroft placed both of his hands on the handle of the umbrella lying across his lap and thinly smiled. “That is one of the things I do admire about you John, your directness. Very well, I would like to speak with you about the matter Detective Inspector Lestrade made you aware of earlier today. I had hoped he might prepare you for the event Sherlock has planned upon his return. However, I was dismayed to learn you thought it was some sort of hoax.”

 

The heat from his take away warmed John’s hands and lap. His nails curled into the styrofoam leaving small crescent indentations when he moved them away.

 

“Can you blame me? Honestly Mycroft, if you and Greg were going to pull a prank I would have expected a lot more from the two of you. Honestly, trying to get me to believe this story about Sherlock buying some gold wedding rings that have a rose coloured stone in the middle and engraving on either side with the symbols –“

 

John was interrupted by incoming texts on both men’s phones. Mycroft’s attention gone, John found another message from Sherlock waiting for him.

 

Having fun with His Majesty? ~S.H.

 

John chuckled and quickly texted back.

 

How did you know? Never mind, I think he must be dreadfully bored considering the prank he’s trying to pull on me with Lestrade.

 

Within seconds a reply came through.

 

Mycroft was born without a sense of humour.  He does not pull pranks.  ~S.H.

 

John paused. Before he was able to think of a reply, Mycroft had put his own phone away and was once more determined to return to their original topic.

 

“John, we’ve arrived at your flat but before you leave, I must impress upon you that my reason for sending D.I. Lestrade was to prepare you for when Sherlock proposes. My brother has no sense of what should be aesthetically pleasing. In fact –“

 

John interrupted. “No sense? Have you seen how the man dresses? Silk shirts and perfectly tailored suits! One outfit probably costs half my year’s salary! And then there’s his coat and how it draws every eye to him!”

 

Mycroft sighed, “Yes, John, that is true. However, all of Sherlock’s clothes are purchased by our mother. Each year she sends him a new wardrobe.  If it were not for her, I shudder to think of the clothing he might own. And his coat was a gift from our mother’s parents for his thirtieth birthday.”

 

John thought for a moment. Once a year a delivery of clothes did arrive for Sherlock containing at least two dozen complete outfits, the man liked shiny things and Sherlock had said that Mycroft did not play pranks, ever. To be honest, it seemed completely out of character for the man. Was it actually possible? John tried to imagine being faced with Sherlock, the set of rings as described to him earlier in hand, waiting for John’s answer as John tried to find the words to express an appreciation he did not feel.

 

John sharply shook his head. It couldn’t be true. Sherlock was controlling and the vainest man he had ever met. No, it couldn’t, it just couldn’t be true. Mind made up, John reached for the door handle and briefly turned back.

 

“Look, I don’t know what exactly it is you and Greg are up to. To be honest, I don’t want to know. But I can tell you that I don’t believe you. So if the two of you would kindly stop whatever it is you’re playing at, I would appreciate it.”

 

Mycroft huffed in irritation. “John, there is no-“

 

“Goodnight Mycroft!” John said firmly as he climbed out of the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

 

Once inside John turned the lock and trudged up the stairs. He had missed the first few minutes of his show now but was determined to put any thoughts of the wedding rings foolishness out of his mind. He turned on the television and began to eat his dinner. But for over an hour John stared at the screen without actually seeing. Reminded of an early work shift the next day he decided it was time to go to sleep. John put his dishes in the kitchen sink and readied for bed. Leaving off any clothes he took over Sherlock’s side of the bed and grabbed his lover’s pillow. Before closing his eyes, John prayed for a restful night’s sleep.

Chapter Text

A wet and cold wind blew John through his front door. He shut it firmly and took off his wet jacket.

 

“Look at you!” Martha Hudson rushed over and grabbed the drenched coat before quickly hanging it on the wall hook nearby, “nearly soaked right through! You’ll be lucky if you don’t catch cold being out in such a storm.”

 

John shivered.

 

“Come with me and have a cup of tea before going upstairs. It’s ready and will do you good.”

 

His landlady’s hand on his shoulder, John obediently followed her into the downstairs kitchen. As he sat down in an empty, worn chair, a blanket was thrown over his shoulders. Despite wanting a hot shower, and his dinner, John was thankful for Mrs. Hudson’s care.

 

John had been glad when the alarm woke him up that morning after a night of odd dreams involving rings of every type and inscriptions made up of tacky lines used in romantic comedies. His work day had been filled with fussy children, hypochondriacs and a very grumpy Sarah. She had broken up with her new boyfriend and was happy to share her frustration with co-workers.

 

During his lunch break, John had gone through the conversations he’d had with Lestrade and Mycroft, before he decided to ignore them both until he had talked with Sherlock. He was tempted to call but chose to wait until they were face to face - hopefully by then the ten percent of his imagination that continually whispered the doubting words 'but maybe', would have been silenced.

 

Just before leaving for home, John had received a text from Sherlock sharing the news of his closed case and the arrival time for his flight the next morning. Of course there was also a reminder of the promised three days off and a warning if said promise was not fulfilled. John had confirmed the time off and said he would be at the airport to meet Sherlock.

 

“John!”

 

Chin falling off of his palm, John quickly sat up straight and turned startled eyes to the older woman standing next to him.

 

“Sorry about that Mrs. Hudson, I got lost in my thoughts there for a minute. Guess I’d better make sure I get to sleep early tonight with Sherlock coming back tomorrow. You never know if a case might suddenly pop up once he’s home.”

 

Placing John’s cup of tea in front of him, along with a piece of chocolate cake, Mrs. Hudson patted his back before sitting down herself.

 

“Oh, Sherlock’s coming home tomorrow? That’s a good idea then. You want to be well rested. You never know what he might have planned.”

 

“Yes, and with Lestrade and Mycroft...” John’s voice trailed off as he glanced up to see Mrs. Hudson sipping her tea with a mischievous smile. “Wait, what was that? Mrs. Hudson why do you think Sherlock might have something planned when he gets back?”

 

Realising she had revealed more than intended, the good lady gathered her thoughts swiftly before lowering her cup.

 

“Oh nothing you have to worry about. Sherlock and I had a nice chat a few days before he left for Paris. He wanted to buy something for the two of you and was making plans for when you had these few days off. That’s all, nothing to worry about.”

 

Despite her words, John felt the opposite of comforted. A purchase for the two of them? There were no birthdays or holidays to buy for and nothing they needed in the flat. He recalled some of the more unpleasant bit of the previous conversations, before pushing them away. He leaned across the table and took Mrs. Hudson’s right hand.

 

“Sherlock didn’t happen to talk about buying wedding rings for the two of us did he?”

 

Fidgeting in her seat, Mrs. Hudson looked everywhere but at John. “Oh, I don’t know as I should be telling you that. You know I don’t share what others confide in me. Well except for Mrs. Turner but by the time she tells me anything the whole street already knows.”

 

Forcing lightness into his voice John attempted to reassure the distressed woman.

 

“It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me everything. I don’t need to know what he has planned just if he bought rings. We’ve already been talking about a civil partnership you know so it’s not a real surprise. I’m just curious. If I’m wrong you don’t have to say anything at all, I promise”

 

John was certain his face made more of a grimace than a grin but it seemed to be enough to loosen Mrs. Hudson’s tongue.

 

“Well, I suppose if you’ve already been talking about it then it wouldn’t hurt.” With concern removed, excitement filled her face.

 

“Two days before he left, I went upstairs to leave a package that had just been delivered. After finding out Sherlock hadn’t eaten yet that morning, I brought him back down with me for some lunch. Honestly, if it weren’t for the two of us I don’t know how he’d survive.”

 

John fought to remain patient.

 

“While we were eating I could tell Sherlock was excited about something. I had no idea what was going on in that head of his, so I told him there were to be no more of those dangerous experiments. Just in case. When I think of the damage he might have done with that last one...” 

 

She shook her head.

 

“Anyway, he promised me it wasn’t an experiment. Told me he was going out to pick out wedding rings for the two of you. I was so happy I think I might’ve hugged him a bit too tight. It’s a good thing he’s gained a little weight since you moved in.” 

 

Rings, John thought, Sherlock had bought wedding rings. Just like Lestrade and Mycroft had told him. He forced himself to focus on Mrs. Hudson as she continued.

 

“Poor thing had some strange ideas when it came to an inscription though. He even talked about adding a stone.  I think I managed to get him to see sense when I told him it needed be something that would represent the both of you. After that he jumped up, you know how he does sometimes, yelled ‘brilliant!’ and took off so fast you would have thought someone had lit the back of his suit on fire.”  She chuckled affectionately while smiling at John.

 

His hands were sweating. John was certain of it. But there was still hope.

 

“Mrs. Hudson,” John cleared his throat, “do you happen to know if Sherlock’s actually gone and purchased the rings?”

 

Her eyes lit up as she answered, “Oh yes, picked them up the morning he left! Paid them extra to make sure they were ready before he had to go. And that’s all I’m going to say about the matter young man.”

 

Not good, not good at all, John moaned inwardly. Standing, he set the blanket on the seat he’d just abandoned and started for the flat door.

 

“John? Something the matter?”

 

He turned and pasted a convincing smile on his face. “Nothing’s the matter, nothing at all. Just starting to feel the chill set in from the cold rain, so I’d better go upstairs and change. Thank you Mrs. Hudson, you have a lovely evening. Make sure you don’t go out into this horrible weather yourself.”

 

He closed the door, preventing any further conversation, and slowly made his way up the stairs. Any appetite he might have had gone, John decided a hot shower and bed were his best choices.  He was going to need time to figure out how to delicately handle the upcoming proposal. Praying for a clearer head after he showered, John stripped his clothes off, letting them fall to the floor without care for where they landed as he made his way to the bathroom.

Chapter Text

John woke with a gasp, forcing himself out of a nightmare of heat and restraints. A glance to his left and he saw it was only four o’clock. John tried raise his hands but found his movements restricted.  Panic flooded through his veins and his tired mind tried to make sense of what was going on. Why couldn’t he move? Had someone broken in? How could he have not woken up?

Slowly turning his head to the right, his mouth brushed against black tousled hair. Black tousled hair that belonged to a six foot man-child John knew intimately. A man-child who was supposed to be meeting John at the airport in eight hours time, but who, instead, had his arms and legs wrapped firmly around John’s body. Well, that explains my dream.

John toyed with the idea of waking Sherlock up but decided against it. Chances were the idea of rest had been disregarded while his lover was away. Considering the discussion they needed to have, it would be best to let him sleep a few hours. John snuggled closer to his limpet and closed his eyes.

The next time he woke up sunlight streamed through the open curtains and Sherlock was gone. John wondered if he had dreamed the other man’s presence but the sound of a violin confirmed his earlier belief. Forcing himself from their bed, he put on his robe and made his way downstairs. He found Sherlock looking out one of the front windows, instrument in hand.

“Good morning, care for some tea?” John offered as he headed for the kitchen.

“Mmm,” was the answer given and it was lucky for Sherlock that John understood the sound meant yes.

While the kettle heated up, John made toast topped with honey and set the kitchen table. It was rare for them to be able to use the space, and John wanted to take advantage. Once everything was ready he called out to Sherlock and took a seat. As he had known, the chair across from his was soon occupied.

“You came home earlier than I expected,” John raised his teacup to his lips and sighed contentedly as the liquid warmed him.

“Managed to get an earlier flight at the last minute. Since I wasn’t going to arrive until two in the morning it seemed best to simply take a cab and let you sleep.” Sherlock reached for the morning paper and began to scan the headlines.  “After working a full schedule during my absence you would need a full night’s sleep to thoroughly enjoy our next few days. Less than five hours would leave you disgruntled.”

Seeing an opening, John took it. “Yes, about the next few days. You don’t happen to have anything special planned do you?”

Sherlock continued to read the nearby print seemingly oblivious to the question just asked.

John leaned forward slightly, “Sherlock, did you hear me?”

Sherlock stood abruptly from his chair and left the room calling behind, “Special plans are best enjoyed without a great deal of foreknowledge I’m told. I need to shower and we have an appointment that needs keeping.”

The sounds of water running through the pipes could be heard before John stood and began gathering the dirty dishes. He wasted no time heading up to dress for the day.

All right, you helped invade Afghanistan, dealt with Moriarty and lived through three years thinking Sherlock was dead. Just breathe Watson and it will all be fine. Shoulders squared, John began pulling on clothes as Sherlock flew into their bedroom.

Soon both men were ready and Sherlock was tugging on John’s arm. “No time to waste, things to do and places to be.”

John allowed himself to be dragged down their stairs and out the front door. Deciding it was best to let Sherlock take the lead, since he was already determined to, John followed Sherlock’s lead. They walked through Regent Park in silence, except when Sherlock shared information about the people near to them. John felt himself gradually relaxing.

They continued on until Sherlock guided them to a bench on a small rise in Primrose Hill. Looking at the view in front of them John could see the London skyline. St. Paul’s and then the London Eye caught his attention and John couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty of the city they lived in. So often they spent their time running after criminals, when John wasn’t working, and it was easy to forget to appreciate their home.

“It is lovely isn’t it?”

“Lovely, complex, ever changing,” Sherlock agreed, leaning into John’s side.

Time passed without notice until John felt his right hand being clasped between Sherlock’s. Public displays of affection had never been a part of their relationship and John was confused by the gesture. Before he could question the reasoning, Sherlock stood up from the bench and faced him. John opened and then closed his mouth.

This is it, he’s actually going to ask me. A quick breath in was all he could manage before he saw Sherlock begin to lower himself down. Tearing his hand out of Sherlock’s grip, John grabbed hold of Sherlock’s coat and stopped him from moving further downwards.

Pushing his face against his lover’s throat, John quietly whimpered, “No, no, no.”

Sherlock gave a soft chuckle. “You’re going to have to let go of me John. My ability to move depends on it.”

John whined, “no,” once more as Sherlock released himself and knelt on both knees. John closed his eyes as he caught sight of a small black box.

The words, “marry me John,” were carried to him on the wind and, fighting every part of his body that screamed don’t do it, John looked to Sherlock’s palm. There, in that little box sat a wedding ring. It was two toned and had white gold in the middle with a thin band of yellow gold on either side.  No rose stone or graphic inscriptions lay on its shiny surface. It was simple and perfectly showed how the two metals could coexist.

Trying not to faint from relief, John moved his gaze from the ring and studied Sherlock’s face.

“This is the ring you bought before you left?” he queried as he grabbed hold of nearby thin wrists in an attempt to steady himself.

“Yes, Mrs. Hudson said I should make certain it was something that would represent the two of us. Choosing the two metals seemed a good way to do that. But there is something else if you look inside.” Sherlock took the ring out of its case and offered it to John.

Taking the ring carefully, John was able to see words wrapping around the inside. Drawing it closer to his eyes he read, i carry your heart with me. The significance of the phrase was not lost on the doctor. Shortly after Sherlock’s return, John had voiced a love for the poet e.e. cummings and the poem the words came from had quickly become their own.

Raising his eyes to Sherlock’s, John asked hoarsely, “and your ring?”

Reaching into his pocket once more, another box was soon opened and a matching ring was seen. Silently, John took hold of it and looked to the inside where the words, i carry it in my heart, could be read.

John was surprised when he felt Sherlock’s thumbs wipe away the thin trails of moisture streaking his cheeks.

“You really are something else,” John whispered, as he leaned forward to rest his face against Sherlock’s.

Both men chuckled before sharing a brief kiss.

“I don’t believe you were courteous enough to answer my question.” Sherlock teased as he safely returned the rings to their cases before placing them in his coat pockets.

John giggled. “Honestly, I don’t remember hearing a question. It seemed to be a bit more like an order to me. But I will marry you nonetheless you daft git. After all, I wouldn’t want my life to become boring now would I?”

“Perish the thought,” Sherlock murmured, moving to reclaim his place on the bench as he took John’s hand again. “I must admit to being curious about your odd behaviour when I attempted to kneel.”

A blush filled John’s cheeks as he groaned. Leaning his head against his fiancé’s shoulder, John told Sherlock all that had happened between himself, Lestrade, Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson. He finished his tale by admitting, “Honestly it doesn’t make any sense to me Sherlock.”

“Truly John, there are times when I despair of you. It is all quite simple if you would only take the data you were given and apply my methods.”

John promptly flicked the tip of Sherlock’s ear, a move he knew would annoy the man, and rolled his eyes. “All right genius, tell me what’s going on then.”

“Mrs. Hudson’s conversation with you was quite innocent. The discussion we had had was beneficial in helping me choose the rings I purchased. I had initially thought to have a stone of hermatite placed in the wedding bands but she, quite correctly, led me away from such a thought. It was unlucky for you that she happened to be the final conversation you had on the subject when you were already quite paranoid.”

John had to agree. If he and Mrs. Hudson had spoken hours after Sherlock’s departure John would have paid little attention to what she shared.

“What about Lestrade and Mycroft?”

“Lestrade was also an innocent party in this scheme it would seem. Being at Mycroft’s beck and call when it comes to our lives, he would have only been relaying information given to him. His friendship with you is one he appreciates and he would not wish to do anything that would make you anxious. No, this smells of Mycroft.”

Sherlock stood from the bench, took John’s right hand in his left, and lead them back towards Baker Street. John waited patiently for Sherlock to continue but no further explanation was forthcoming.

 “But why would Mycroft want to wind me up? And how did he know what you and Mrs. Hudson talked about?” 

Sherlock scoffed. “Mycroft has had a bug in Mrs. Hudson’s kitchen since the American’s forced their way in. And before you become outraged on her behalf, he did so under my instructions to ensure her safety.”

Yet another example of protecting those he loves, John thought fondly.

“No, gathering information would have been simple. Using Lestrade to share the news meant you were initially approached by one you trust. And even if you didn’t believe him, which I’m glad to say you didn’t, speaking with you after would have allowed the seed of doubt to be planted. He also knew that, at some point while I was gone, you would interact with Mrs. Hudson and her excitement would cause her to unintentionally share bits of our conversation. Bookending his visit with those you are safe with would certainly be enough to weaken your beliefs in my choice.”

Glancing around, John saw they were now only five minutes from the flat. He took hold of Sherlock’s coat with his free hand and brought them to a stop.

“But why Sherlock? Is this some sort of twisted prank to, I don’t know, welcome me to the family or something?” John scratched the back of his neck.

“I told you before John, Mycroft does not prank. No, this is revenge, pure and simple.” Sherlock’s eyes followed the biker passing them by.

“Revenge for what?!”

A smirk fell across Sherlock’s face.  “Have you forgotten when you attempted to connect romantically with his wife?”

John’s mouth dropped open in disbelief.

“That was six years ago and I barely spoke to her! She couldn’t be bothered to look up from her phone for more than a few seconds. Also, I looked for a ring and she didn’t have one. I couldn’t have known she was married to the British Government!” His lips pursed into a frown as he shook his head in irritation.

 “Yes, despite your efforts at being considerate, Mycroft did not appreciate your attempt to chat up Anthea and expressed to me his annoyance and promised retaliation.” Sherlock once more started for 221B.

“Of all the childish things,” John exclaimed as he hurried to catch up.

“Yes, but we must hurry. Wouldn’t want to be late,” Sherlock advised as they continued walking.

“What appointment do we have back at the flat? Is it a client?”

“No, when I shared my plans for today with Mrs. Hudson, she insisted that we gather with a small group so they might offer their congratulation on our engagement. I contacted her when my arrival time changed and she prepared accordingly.”

“Pretty sure of yourself weren’t you?” John joked, as he beamed.

“Of course,” Sherlock answered, smug smile firmly in place. “Any plans for revenge in your future?”

John was silent for a moment as he thought. “It would be impossible for me to outsmart Mycroft. He’d always be at least four steps ahead of me. Best leave it alone.”

Sherlock opened the front door and hung his coat up before turning towards the stairs.

“Wait a minute,” John quietly instructed. “Exactly who are all upstairs?”

“Mike Stamford, Lestrade, Molly, Sarah, stupid Mycroft, Anderson and Donovan were certainly not invited.”

A grin came to John’s face. “Make sure you have the rings with you when you come up.”

Confused, Sherlock went back to his coat before following up the stairs.

Their entrances were met with cheers as a glass of champagne was placed in their hands. Toasts were made by Mrs. Hudson and Mike before Lestrade pulled John off to the side.

“So, you made it through all right then? Did you manage to talk him into seeing some sense?” Greg asked.

John found Sherlock standing by Sarah and called out, “Sherlock, show everyone the rings you choose for us! I’m sure they’d all love to see them.”

“You are a very brave man,” Greg muttered as everyone gathered close.

John remained silent and let the rings speak for themselves.

Molly’s, “Oh! How beautiful!” while Sarah cooed in agreement, caught Lestrade’s attention and he pushed forward to snatch one of the wedding bands.

Turning the ring in his hand, Greg took in the colours, lack of stone and inside inscription before searching for the elder Holmes. Outraged, Lestrade pushed the ring back into Molly’s hands, and stalked over to where Mycroft stood.

“What the bloody hell were you talking about the other day? Those don’t look anything like the rings you told me about! You better have a good reason for taking me out of work, feeding me lies and then having me come over here and ‘prepare’ John for the hideous rings Sherlock was supposed to have bought!”

Greg’s finger index finger was forcefully poking Mycroft’s chest for extra emphasis.

“I assure you Inspector –“

Hands on her hips, Mrs. Hudson advanced. “What hideous rings? Sherlock told me that you had seen the rings before he left on his trip.” She paused a moment in thought before her eyes narrowed. “What sort of mischief are you up to Mycroft Holmes?! I told you before that family is all we have and John is family in all the ways that matter!”

Sarah and Molly, both wearing unhappy expressions, followed. God bless loyal women, John thought. Go after someone belonging to them and the culprit will surely pay.

John sighed contentedly as he sat down on their sofa, eyes following Mycroft as the politician attempted to back away from the small crowd quickly closing in on him. Mike simply looked on confused. Sherlock seated himself beside John and chuckled at the verbal tongue lashing his brother was dealing with.  

“Nicely done John, nicely done indeed.”

“I thought so,” John took a drink of champagne and giggled. “Your mother doesn’t really buy your clothes does she?”

Sherlock shook his head. “No, not really, she pays for my clothes but that is the extent of her involvement. It’s an agreement we reached many years ago after her horrendous taste caused a very uncomfortable situation for me.”

“I see.” A mischievous smile appeared on John’s face. “So, so you actually have any plans for the next two and a half days or are you open to suggestions?”

Brows raised in interest Sherlock answered, “Nothing that can’t easily be rescheduled. Why? Do you have anything specific in mind?”

Leaning over, John kissed Sherlock on the cheek before moving to whisper in his ear. “I say we let everyone stay for another half hour, then throw them out before I tear off all your clothes, throw you on the bed and shag you till you scream.”

Sherlock’s breath caught.

“Of course, you’ll be lucky if I let you leave the flat before I have to work in a few days. I’m thinking I’d like to keep you naked for every minute of our mini-holiday. Make it easier to do whatever I want with you, faster too.”

Oblivious to Mycroft’s farewell as he made a hasty retreat, Sherlock closed his eyes, leaned his head back and took a deep breath.

“Everyone out now!”

 

A/N: This is the end of the story. As you can see, things turned out well for John in the end. The chapter listed next is simply an explanation of what inspired me to write this piece.

 

Thank you all for reading!

Chapter Text

What inspired ‘The Proposal’:

Thirteen years ago my boyfriend, now my husband, and I decided we were going to get married. For two months he looked for my engagement ring. I knew when he found it because I had to drive him to the jeweller’s to pick it up. Since we lived near Boston we loved to visit the city, especially the Boston Gardens, where we would frequently take a picnic lunch.

 

Two days before our planned visit, my best friend Angela came to my room and told me she had just seen the ring. With concern on her face she told me it was not an engagement ring but a friendship ring that was loud and gaudy.  I laughed her out of the room because everyone knew, especially Matt, that I loved simple things. However, two other friends soon confirmed her story and I began to truly worry.

 

By the day of our picnic, my stomach was in knots despite the beautiful day. Once we reached our normal spot Matt lead me to a nearby willow tree. As he tried to kneel down in front of me I grabbed his jacket to stop him, put my face against his chest and started to quietly say, “no, no, no”. He laughed at me and told me I had to let him go but I wouldn’t. Finally, after pulling my fingers away, he got down in front of me and asked me to marry him. I opened my eyes and saw, not a loud and gaudy ring but a simple diamond in the shape of a heart.

 

I nearly passed out in relief. Of course I accepted and, while we were eating a few minutes later, I told him what my friends had said. He laughed and promised me he’d had no idea about their prank. I still wonder sometimes if that’s true.