Within five minutes of talking to him, Violet Holmes, also known as Mummy, knew that John Watson was perfect for her son Sherlock.
It had all started when Mycroft had called her up to request a favor. He needed her to accompany him to a ceremony that honored all the wounded war veterans, a yearly event, apparently.
Mycroft was trying to gather intelligence on a man by the name of Moran, a man he assured her was very dangerous, though he wouldn't tell her why he was trying to find him. He had recently discovered that an old colleague from Moran's army days lived in London and would be attending the ceremony.
Deeming the task too delicate to assign to one of his minions, Mycroft had decided to attend the ceremony himself in order to try to discretely fish some information out of the old colleague. Violet was his disguise- a middle-aged man escorting his chatty and somewhat dotty old mother around wasn't very likely to arouse suspicion.
She had had fun donning huge glasses, hunching over to make herself look much older than her 62 year, and walking around pinching everyone's cheeks and calling them 'young man' and 'young lady'. When Mycroft had finally started up a conversation with his intended object, Violet played her part for long enough to make the man loosen his guard, and then hobbled off convincingly, claiming to need the restroom, in order to give her son space to do his job.
She was next to the refreshments table now, wondering idly if Mycroft was still on that ridiculous diet or if she could tempt him with some of the cookies, when she spotted a man a couple of feet away from her.
She surveyed him- short, blond hair, thick muscles, kind eyes, and looked almost as bored as she was.
She could use some company, and she was getting sick of the crazy grandma act. She looked around discretely- Mycroft and the other man weren't anywhere near her, she could act however she wanted.
"So, what brings you here? No, wait- let me guess: You don't look like a stuffy old bureaucrat here to give speeches, so you must be a veteran." She smiled at him.
He looked up at her, startled for a second, before smiling back. "I got wounded back in Afghanistan about a month ago, so I was invited to attend this thing. Seemed rude to decline."
Violet smiled back "I'm here with my son. He works in the government- just a minor official, but he was obligated to attend. I'm Violet." She held out her hand.
His firm hand grasped hers "John."
It took only five minutes of chatting with John to discover that he had one sister, who he didn't seem to want to talk about, few friends (most of them were still back in Afghanistan), and a little apartment he could hardly afford with his army pension.
It also took only five minutes of chatting with him for Violet to realize that he would have been absolutely perfect for her son.
Violet may not have the perceptive abilities that her husband and sons had been blessed with, but she was very good at reading people. She sensed immediately that John Watson wasn't the ordinary man he appeared to be. He had a fever in his eyes, a fever that was so familiar because she had seen it every time she had looked into Sherlock's eyes. An itch for adventure, for excitement, for anything that would keep the boredom away. Just like her dear son, John would never be happy living an average boring life.
Yet, unlike her son, John Watson had compassion in his eyes, and friendly smile on his lips, and a sense of stability and calm that surrounded him- the perfect balance to Sherlock.
Violet could see them now in her mind's eye. John, calming Sherlock and grounding him. Bringing him back to earth when he flew too high. Sherlock, bringing excitement back to John's life, involving him, interesting him. Both of them running around London together on the trail of a criminal, high on the thrill of the chase.
Violet flattered herself that she knew her son better than any other person in the world, and she could just sense that John and Sherlock were perfect for each other.
But what was the use of all these stupid fantasies of her son finally finding love? Why dwell on something so painful and useless? What good was it to meet the man who you just knew was your son's soul mate, when your son had jumped off the roof of a hospital almost two years ago?
Still, the knowledge of how useless the idea was, didn't stop Violet from feeling as if John somehow provided her with a connection to her late son. It was silly to wallow in what-could-have-beens, of course, but she felt as if she simply couldn't bear it if at the end of the event she and John would part ways and never see one another again.
After she had come to her decision it was quite easy to manipulate John into acting as she wanted. All it took was a rueful sigh, and a mention that she hoped it wouldn't take too long for her son Mycroft to come fix that awful leak in the roof. He was very busy, bless him, and she didn't feel safe climbing the roof on her own. As she had predicted, John had come gallantly to the rescue and offered to do it himself since he wasn't doing much anyways nowadays.
Violet smiled gratefully at him.
Mycroft groaned when he saw the self-satisfied smirk that Mummy was wearing by the end of the evening when he came looking for her, but promised to butt out once she assured him that it had absolutely nothing to do with setting him up.
And when John had come over to her house the following day to fix the leaky roof (which Violet was certainly just as capable of fixing herself as she had been at the age of 20), and pointed to a sweet picture of her youngest son sitting on the mantelpiece, she smiled softly.
"My youngest, Sherlock. He died nearly two years ago."
"I'm so sorry." said John, looking horrified at his faux pas. As if he could have known.
"It's quite alright." said Violet "I think about him quite often, so it's not like you brought up any painful memories that weren't there already."
John's kind face was extremely gentle as he asked "How did it happen?"
"Well," said Violet slowly "he was standing on the roof of a hospital with the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known, James Moriarty. This was after an extremely long and painful game of cat-and-mouse that had been going on between them for some years. Moriarty told Sherlock that if he did not jump off the roof his henchmen would kill all the people closest to him, and Sherlock jumped."
This was, of course, a very abbreviated version of the story, but it was enough to make John's mouth to fall open in shock. That was not the story he had expected when he asked about Sherlock's death.
"I'll tell you the whole story once you're done with the roof." offered Violet.
Two hours later, both John and Violet were on their second cups of tea. Violet had told John the story of The Game and of The Final Problem as she had named the incidents, and was now regaling John with the stories of some of the more interesting crimes Sherlock had solved.
"I think I would have liked him." said John, when Violet finished telling the story of the time Sherlock had come to visit her straight from solving a crime, dressed so convincingly as a woman that Violet had told him that 'she had the wrong address' before she realized who it was at the door.
"Oh, I'm sure you would have." Violet replied.
And it turned out, as John Watson returned to Mummy's house each Sunday to say hello, that it gave him as much pleasure to hear about Sherlock as it gave Violet to talk about him. Telling John about Sherlock, and watching his face relax in an amused smile, or his breath catch in suspense made her feel connected to Sherlock, as if she was holding on to a piece of him that she had thought was lost in the fall. Still, she wondered if it was moral, to use John in order to feel closer to Sherlock, especially as he became emotionally involved as well. His pain was now far more real and familiar when she spoke about how much she missed him, and Violet often wondered if it was healthy for both of them- this lingering on the thoughts and memories of a dead man. She didn't want to stop though, and through the next two months she felt conflicted and guilty as she watched the affection in John's eyes increase every time she spoke of her son, and the sad yearning in his face grow deeper every time he was reminded that the man he had come to care for was no longer among the living.
Mummy narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Mycroft, who was squirming in his seat. Mycroft never squirmed or showed any sign of weakness, and Mummy would bet anything that he was doing it now more because he thought it was polite to seem as if he was uncomfortable with what was going on than because he really was.
"So," he cleared his throat "Mummy, though I am loathe to bring up any subject that might cause you pain, I would like to discuss Sherlock. More specifically, I would like to discuss the circumstances leading up to the events that occurred on the roof of St. Bart's hospital. I have appraised you as to the strange relationship between Sherlock and Moriarty, once could almost call it-" his face twisted in a grimace "flirting. So it was the case that Moriarty made no secret of his plans to ruin Sherlock. Of course, my younger brother is more intelligent than I tend to give him credit for..."
Mummy's eyes narrowed, and she felt her heart beat violently in her chest. Mycroft was a very precise boy, and he never said anything he didn't mean. And yet, he had said "Sherlock is more intelligent"- IS. Mummy could feel her limbs trembling.
"-And so in his desire to, you might call it- flirt with danger, Moriarty revealed too much of his plan, and Sherlock came to the conclusion of what was being planned for him rather earlier than Moriarty had expected. So when Sherlock arrived at the rooftop of the hospital, he was already aware of Moriarty's plan, and prepared for it. And I can judge from your body language that you have already discerned where I'm going to with this explanation."
"Is he here?" asked Mummy, voice hoarse with unshed tears.
Mycroft's fingers flew across his phone. "He should be here in 52 seconds."
Sherlock left Mummy's house with a great bruise on his shin from when she had kicked him, and lipstick stains all over his face from when she had kissed his precious face over and over and over. When he finally left, his hug was much softer that Mummy remembered it being, and he didn't squirm at all as if he was uncomfortable with the display of affection. He also agreed to come over and visit her next Sunday with none of his usual arguing. He must have missed her, mused Violet, for the first time in his life. How wonderful.
She walked up to the window and watched the car he was in drive away until she couldn't see it any longer. Then she picked up her phone and called John.
"Something huge just happened."
"You sound happier than I've ever heard you before. What is it?"
"Oh, I can't tell you over the phone. Can you come over and visit on Sunday?"
"Sure." John replied easily. "What time?"
She told him to come one hour before she knew Sherlock would arrive. That would give her just enough time to explain everything.
When Violet explained Sherlock's deception to John, he had been gratifyingly angry on her behalf for all the pain he had put her through. He had conceded, though, in the end, that it was the right thing to do if he truly feared for Mummy's life. After she finally managed to convince him of Sherlock's good intentions, his resentment had changed into excitement and curiosity. She could tell that he was dying to meet Sherlock.
How lucky for him, then, she mused as she stared at her watch, that Sherlock was going to come over within the next half hour. He wouldn't have to wait long.
When Sherlock finally did arrive, Mummy was nearly wriggling with excitement.
"I'm here, Mummy-" he explained, storming into the room, looking absolutely dashing with his long coat and sharp cheekbones. He stopped once he saw John.
"Who are you?" he asked rudely, "No, wait, don't tell me! Army doctor, recently invalidated from either Afghanistan or Iraq. Your therapist thinks your limp is psychosomatic, quite correctly I'm afraid. But you did get shot. Left shoulder. Are you looking for a roommate by any chance?"
A slow smile spread across John's face. "That." he said, "Was amazing."