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The Adventure of the Hyphen

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John Watson always knew that he was the kind of man that would formally ask permission from his partner’s parents before proposing. He did not know that it would involve taking a car more expensive than his doctorate to an estate just outside of London to ask permission from his werewolf partner’s equally lycanthropic mother.


The day after their lunch, Mycroft sent a car over to Baker Street around noon. Apparently, he had already planned for John to visit Mummy whether he liked it or not. Sherlock bundled him out to the car before John could protest and had the nerve to then look so nervous John couldn’t bring himself to say anything about it. They spent most of the ride practically cuddling in the backseat, though it made neither of them feel any less nervous.

When they arrived at the Holmes estate, it was very nearly two o’clock and Mummy’s assistant Elizabeth was waiting for them at the door.

“Hello,” she said in her perpetually relaxed voice. “Mrs. Holmes is waiting for you two in the garden.”

This did nothing to quell John’s fears of brutal torture and/or death. Rationally, he knew Mummy quite liked him and that there were worse things the two of them could have done. There was still a part of John insisting that this could only end badly and he should run and hide. Said part was quieted as John stood up straight and held Sherlock’s hand as they walked into the garden. Elizabeth led them to a small table near a large flowerbed where Mummy was already sitting and pouring tea for three.

“Hello boys!” she chirped, quickly standing and hugging both of them. “It’s so good to see you. You really must stop by more often.”

John forced a smile and nodded as they sat down. Sherlock only looked a little nervous now, though he insisted on holding John’s hand under the table. The garden grew quiet for a bit as the three of them sipped their tea and John tried to not hide under the table.

“Well, then, let’s just get straight to the point,” Mummy said. “Mycroft told me that Sherlock made a den and the two of you have not even discussed marriage.”

“Not until last night, no,” John confirmed. “Sherlock neglected to tell me until Mycroft nearly had a panic attack.”


“I didn’t mean to,” Sherlock protested, looking down at his shoes. “I just… started denning and you know it’s nearly impossible to stop. I tried to, but each time I did, I felt sick.”

“I know, dear. I am disappointed in you, but I know that wolves sometimes can’t help such things. Do try to remember, however, that John doesn’t know all the social mores of werewolf culture.”

“Yes, Mummy,” Sherlock mumbled.

Mummy turned to John, though he spoke up before she could. He was absolutely convinced that she would admonish him or demand the dissolution of their relationship.

“I’m so, so sorry this happened,” he said in a rush. “I had no idea that a den was so serious and I should have asked. I understand that we’ve gone about this all wrong, but I would be extremely honored and infinitely grateful if you would grant me your permission to ask Sherlock’s hand in marriage.”

Mummy gasped and covered her mouth as her eyes went wide. John braced for a denial or otherwise negative reaction, but instead Mummy went misty-eyed and nodded as she pulled out a handkerchief.

“Oh yes, yes, absolutely!”

“Thank you so much, Mummy,” John sighed, relaxing and slumping in his chair.

Nodding, Mummy hugged John tight and called for Elizabeth. The rest of the afternoon was spent sipping champagne in the garden and chatting happily, until Mummy noticed Sherlock looking tired and sent them home with an order to come back soon.


Although he had express permission and Mycroft breathing down his neck, John didn’t propose straight away. Not only did he have a plan for a spectacular proposal, John insisted that Sherlock meet his family before they got engaged. They specifically planned a trip to Northumberland for the full moon, just to be certain that everyone understood Sherlock’s condition.

They took a train from King’s Cross the day before the first full moon night. Sherlock had wanted to take the car Mycroft offered, but John vetoed that idea by pointing out that taking the train was quicker. Reluctantly, Sherlock agreed to take the train.

Within five minutes of boarding, Sherlock began to squirm in his seat. Train seats were not made with tall individuals such as Sherlock in mind, especially when they were leggy. John had tried to find a comfortable place for them on the train, but Sherlock still looked uncomfortable. By the time they had left London, Sherlock was huffing and looking disgruntled.

“Sherlock, are you alright, love?” John asked, placing his hand over Sherlock’s gently.

“I don’t… I don’t like trains. Too much data, too many people, too much noise.”

Nodding, John pulled a small bag from under his seat. He produced a pair of headphones from the bag and handed them to Sherlock before digging around again. The headphones were clearly of the noise-cancelling variety and purchased to replace the ones Sherlock had placed on the bison in the sitting room.

“Give me your phone,” John said, holding his hand out.

Sherlock obeyed hesitantly, placing his phone in John’s palm. John quickly opened up the music application and plugged the headphones in before handing the phone back to Sherlock. Finally, he moved the bag to sit at Sherlock’s feet.

“The headphones should keep everything but the music out. I put your favorites on your phone for the trip, and there are books in the bag. If there’s too much data, you should probably just close your eyes and relax. I’ll be right here the whole time, and if I need to get up, I’ll let you know.”

For a moment, Sherlock didn’t respond and just blinked at John as if he couldn’t process what John had just done. When it did process, Sherlock kissed him hard and smiled softly.

“Thank you, John. I appreciate this very much.”

Once Sherlock put the headphones on and John laced their fingers together on the armrest, the rest of the trip continued without incident.


As they pulled into the station, Sherlock shoved the headphones back in the bag at his feet and helped John gather their things. He had fallen asleep somewhere during the second hour and slumped on John’s shoulder through the countryside.

“Remember, Harry is picking us up. Please don’t be too scathing,” John told Sherlock as the train slowed. “And there’s one more thing you didn’t deduce about me and Harry.”

“Oh? It’s usually just the one thing.”

“We’re twins. She’s six minutes older and loves reminding me.”

“Fraternal twins, of course! How do you continue to baffle me so, John?”

John simply winked and led Sherlock off the train.


Harry Watson looked very much like her brother. Their hair was the same exact shade of blond, they were both short with big, dark blue eyes, same smile… Sherlock catalogued all the physical similarities he could, certain the two of them didn’t have much else in common.

While Harry and John weren’t on fantastic terms, that didn’t stop them from hugging tightly as soon as they could. Despite Harry’s shortcomings and John’s stubbornness, they were still siblings no matter what. Of course, it helped that they had shared a womb.

“Harry, this is Sherlock, my partner,” John said, moving away so Harry could see Sherlock.

“Hello,” Harry said and smiled as she held her hand out.

Sherlock took her hand, noting the slight tremble as they shook hands. She hadn’t been drinking then, which meant that this visit would be going a bit easier. As requested, Sherlock kept any other deductions to himself but filed them away for later use and assessment.

“Hello, Harry,” Sherlock replied with a forced smile. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Oh, I know that look,” she laughed. “You don’t have to pretend. I know you must be anxious about meeting Mum.”

Scowling, Sherlock withdrew his hand and shoved it into his pocket. Harry led them to her car, chattering away with John about their family and the town. Apparently, not much had changed in their mother’s neighborhood and their next-door neighbor still asked after John regularly. The small town cliché made Sherlock sneer, though he did his best to hide it from John.

“So Sherlock,” Harry started as they got in the car. “How long have you been together?”

“We started dating in the spring, so only a few months.”

“And how long have you been shagging?”

“A month. You know all of this, why are you asking?” Sherlock demanded.

“I want to hear it from you. And I love messing with John’s dates,” Harry said, grinning at him.

“I’m not his date,” Sherlock snapped. “I’m his partner. I intend to marry John.”

“Oh. Oh, Johnny, you never said!”

“It was supposed to be a surprise after he met you and Mama,” John grumbled. He was already upset about being put in the backseat due to Sherlock’s long legs and this wasn’t helping.

“I apologize,” Sherlock said, turning in his seat and tugging John close for a kiss.

“It’s alright, love.”

Harry smiled as she turned onto their mother’s street, happy for her brother and enjoying their adorable display.

“I see you’ve tamed him,” Harry commented. “I remember when you were constantly fighting to not beat the piss out of him.”

“He’s mellowed out a bit,” John replied and smiled fondly at Sherlock. “Being in love has been good to him.”


John’s mother lived on a quiet street in Alnwick, though the same could be said for nearly every street in Alnwick. The house itself was small but clearly a cozy family home. The front garden had bloomed into a riot of colors over the summer and the lawn was well-kept. Sherlock noted that the front door had recently been painted red, though it had apparently been that color for many years as John didn’t comment on it.

As soon as Harry pulled into the driveway, said door opened and a woman that could only be their mother hurried out to meet them. It was immediately obvious where John and Harry got their hair and eye color, though their mother was average height. She was smiling excitedly and hugged John tight when he got out of the car. John made a squeaking sound but returned the hug.

Once she was satisfied, Mrs. Watson moved away and stared up at Sherlock. He blinked at her owlishly, trying not to look as nervous as he felt. After a moment of staring, Sherlock found himself enveloped in an equally bone-cracking hug.

“So this is Sherlock! It’s lovely to finally meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you as well, Mrs. Watson.”

“Call me Mama, dear. Everyone does.”

“Yes, Mama, it’s very nice to-“

“You’re much too thin, dear,” Mrs. Watson said as she poked Sherlock’s ribs. “John, aren’t you feeding him?”

“Yes, Mama,” John grumbled. “He’s just… always thin. He weighed less when we met but he doesn’t look much different.”

Mrs. Watson stared at Sherlock for a moment, poking along his torso and feeling his ribs. She looked very displeased with whatever she found.

“How long are you two staying again?” she asked.

“A week,” Sherlock answered and suddenly feared for his life.

“I think you can gain about a stone in that time. Don’t you think so, Harry?”

“Oh, at least!” Harry agreed.


Mama Watson immediately got to work on plumping Sherlock up. The four of them went inside for tea, which quickly became an excuse for shoving sweets at Sherlock. Surprisingly, however, Sherlock didn’t seem to mind. He let milk and sugar be put in his tea and eagerly partook in the heaping plate of biscuits set on the table.

“You didn’t tell me you like sweets so much,” John said, smiling as Sherlock sipped his tea.

“You didn’t tell me your mother was a baker,” Sherlock replied.

“Most mums bake, Sherlock. Mine just happens do to so professionally.”

It was too late, though. Sherlock already had another biscuit in his mouth with more waiting for him in the kitchen. Gain a stone indeed.


After dinner (during which Sherlock cleaned his plate and frightened John), Mama Watson dragged Sherlock off to the couch with the promise of photo albums, leaving John and Harry to clean up.

“Did Mama put drugs in those biscuits?” John asked as they washed dishes.

“If dark chocolate and vanilla are drugs, yes she did,” Harry replied with a smirk.

“I’ve never seen him eat like that, not even with his own mother. Do you think he’s just doing it to make a good impression?”

“No one would eat that many biscuits just to make a good impression. You’re always telling me he won’t do anything unless he wants to. Why, are you afraid of him getting chubby?”

“I don’t care one way or the other,” John said and shrugged. “He could stand to gain some weight. It’s just… not like him, is all.”

Harry shrugged and continued washing up. Sherlock’s behavior was a bit strange, but maybe he just had a sweet tooth John hadn’t known about. Once they had finished clearing up, the two of them found Sherlock and Mama on the couch, laughing at a photo. John leaned close and blanched when he realized what photos they were.

“John, you never told me you grew your hair out in uni,” Sherlock teased.

“Oh, he stopped cutting it as soon as he got accepted!” Harry piped up. “John always wanted to join the army after medical school, so once he got into medical school he just… stopped cutting his hair. Can’t have long hair in the RAMC, after all.”

Smiling, Sherlock turned the page and found more photos of John and Harry in university. Most of the photos John was in featured him dirty in his rugby uniform, though in some of them he was clean and smiling with his arm around his sister. Further back in the book were photos of John and a brown-haired man Sherlock assumed was a close friend.

“Oh, and there’s Brad!” Mama said, pointing to one of the photos. “He was John’s first real boyfriend, you know. He came to visit us over break one year. John was absolutely smitten with him, much like he is with you.”

“Alright, Mama, that’s enough of that,” John declared, trying to close the album.

“Calm down, John. I’m enjoying this,” Sherlock said. “You’ve seen the albums of my childhood; I think it’s only fair I get to see yours.”

Grumbling, John sat next to Sherlock on the couch while Harry left to turn the kettle on.