His banner over me was love.
-Song of Solomon
The brilliant sunlight pouring in through the glass door to the balcony is most definitely Greek sunlight, not that of London. London never sees this golden hue. I am awake too early, considering the amount of wine we consumed with dinner last night and the lateness of the hour when we finally had exhausted ourselves with lovemaking.
I take a moment to reflect on that. For so many years in my life, all the years before John, the idea of Sherlock Holmes exhausting himself in lovemaking would have been an absurd concept. I smile now, thinking back over the many times it had happened: that most pleasant weariness, a slight soreness in unexpected places, a lethargy of spirit that under any other circumstances I would have found most irritating.
I stretch a little, positively enjoying the weariness, the sore places, even the lethargy.
This, then, is my life.
John is still deeply asleep.
That fact pleases me rather more than it should at this point in our relationship.
While sleeping is not something I am fond of [there are more important things to be doing], I am extremely fond of watching John sleep. It is, in actual fact, one of my favorite pastimes.
//By night on my bed I sought him
whom my soul loveth//
I make no claim to understanding the idea of Souls. In fact, I scoff at the notion of such a thing. But still...still. I am not [often] a fool and only a fool would ignore the evidence when it is right in front of him. If such a thing exists and if I have one, then it is clear that my soul lies here next to me.
This trip is a gift to John on the occasion of his birthday. He is sixty today and a special acknowledgment seemed in order. I find myself of two minds, of course. Yes, I want to celebrate this most important day. What if he had not been born? Would I have somehow known that part of me was always missing? Maybe I felt that absence even before I met him and that was why I was lost for so many years. However, at the same time I celebrate this day, I cannot help but realise that the years are passing much too quickly.
That thought is pushed away immediately.
I cannot stop myself from reaching out and running my fingers through his hair. The sunlight brings out the few golden strands still left amongst the grey. There is nothing so familiar or so dear as the feeling of his hair beneath my fingertips. I bend my head forward just enough so that my lips can nuzzle at the nape of his neck.
//Thy neck is as a tower of ivory.//
Once I believed love to be boring and completely unnecessary, a crutch for the weak and pathetic. It was nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes.
Now I cannot conceive of how anyone can live without it. But, of course, I am in a very special position, one that I never take for granted, because I love and am loved by John Watson. If pity were to be a part of my nature, I could pity everyone else in the world for not being loved by this man.
This is the kind of thing that is never said aloud, of course.
//His hands are as gold rings set with beryl;
his belly is as bright ivory overlaid
John positively glows in the Greek sunlight.
I wrap myself around him carefully, still astounded by how perfectly our bodies fit together. This is what we were both made for, I am sure. He would call it fate. I am just grateful for it.
//His legs are as pillars of marble set
upon sockets of fine gold.//
Those legs have run countless miles at my side. Even when one of them failed him, he never failed me.
My legs entwine with his.
I think about the gift I have to give him this morning, hoping he will cherish it and understand the love that went into it. Knowing that he will, because he is John.
//His mouth is most sweet; yes,he is altogether lovely.//
I whisper his name over and over; it is the only true prayer I have ever uttered.
John is beginning to stir now.
He has various styles of waking.
The annoying buzz of an alarm, on those few days when he still goes into the clinic, brings him sluggishly to consciousness. The work has become something of a burden, although he only does locum duty now, and I am urging him to give it up.
It is altogether different when he wakes to my shout of “John! A case!” Then his eyes snap open, his blood begins to pump with excitement, and he grins. That is when he looks young again.
My favorite awakenings are like this [even without the Greek sun and the smell of the Mediterranean air] when I wrap myself around him and plant soft kisses on every bit of him I can reach. On these days, he wakes slowly, heavy-eyed, a faint flush of pink arising in his face. He smiles slowly at me and says my name on the puffs of air that escape his lips.
John wakes just that way now.
//Let him kiss me with the kisses
of his mouth.//
We just look at one another for a moment.
We kiss lightly.
“You know,” he says quietly, “when I die, I would like it to be with your lips on mine.”
The sentiment is lovely, yes, I understand that.
But I frown anyway, because that is a subject I do not care to think about. He understands this, of course, and kisses me again in a not-quite apology.
“Happy birthday,” I say.
“Thank you. And thank you for this trip.”
A few very pleasant moments pass, slowly, languidly. There is no hurry. Neither of us is going anywhere. After a time, I rest my head on his chest and he moves his fingers through my curls.
“Oh,” I say suddenly, “Your present.”
“I thought the trip was my present.”
“Part of it.”
I roll off of him and then the bed, going to pick up my violin case. He had asked me why I was bringing it on holiday, as I never had before.
“Well, I might get bored,” was my smirking response.
“You’ll be on a beautiful Greek island with your handsome husband. How could you get bored?” He grinned.
I stopped packing and looked at him. “Never bored with my handsome husband. But the island might pall.”
Now I take my Strad and stand in front of the balcony door. He takes a long and blatantly appreciative look at me. Perhaps I should have donned pants at least, but it is too late now.
“You’re going to play for me?” He always loves it when I do.
“Yes.” I clear my throat, rather ridiculously nervous all of a sudden. “I have composed a piece. For you.”
“Really?” he says faintly. He moves to sit cross-legged in the middle of the massive bed. “Okay.”
I check the tuning and then look at him again. “It is a sonata, written in the classical form.” He nods. “You will, of course, notice the lack of a keyboard accompaniment, but---”
“I would not notice,” John interrupts softly.
That is true, of course. John’s musical knowledge remains rudimentary at best. But he appreciates my playing. “Very well. A Meditation on John. That’s the title,” I add, just in case.
I hope he likes it. Lifting the violin, I begin.
The Allegro introduces the theme, which is our relationship. It recalls two children meeting, the years alone, an unexpected reunion.
I can sense John without really looking at him as I slip into the music. He is watching me with such tenderness that I almost lose my concentration.
Closing my eyes helps, letting the notes, the feelings, surround me.
Moving into the Andante I feel again the terrible days leading up to my Fall, terrible, but still with the steady undercurrent of John, always there, always true. The months we were apart. Arriving at the moment he came to my bedside and forgave me.
My whole body is moving with the music now.
In the Allegro I try to convey what the years together, from the beginning to this very moment in a Greek hotel room, have meant to me, which is to say Everything.
When the piece is finished, I stand unmoving, my eyes still closed. Sometimes raw emotion still has the power to undo me.
Finally, I take a steadying breath and open my eyes.
John is still sitting on the bed. He is smiling, but tears are rolling down his face at the same time. Carefully, I replace the instrument and go to him.
“Thank you,” he whispers. “It is beautiful.”
“It is not enough,” I reply. “Nothing can ever be enough.”
He wraps his arms around me and we fall back into the bed together. The sunlight bathes us and the only sound in the room is that of our whispered words to one another.
//My beloved is mine and I am his.//