A sequel to "I Occupy A Minor Position"
The Holmes family, in a way, existed, under quarantine as they had for generations.
Very rarely were outsiders let in and when they were their influence was, how to put it politely? Neutralized. Mycroft loved his father and respected him. He trusted him in every way...except intellectually. At an early age, his found his father's way of thinking and organizing facts scattered, discordant, distressing. He was not a simple man or an ignorant man but he was not a Holmes. At least not in the manner that the word came to be represented. But, that did happen from time to time. He knew their families genealogy and sometimes every few generations there would be born a...well...a normal person. Depending on the patriarch or matriarch of the family they could expect to receive treatment that ran the gamut from benevolent but regretful condescension to outright anger or revulsion.
His father had been fortunate enough to receive the former. However, if there was one saving grace of the "normals" it was that bafflingly they always, and Mycroft could attest to this phenomena with data and records and stone cold facts, always tended to partner with a better. It was usually by marriage though there were cases of adoption throughout the years. A rather dull bulb coming across a child of sparkling brilliance and bringing them into the family. They would then become a Holmes, not simply in name but with all the rights and expectations and emotional rigors that came with the name. Adopted or blood, once welcomed, a Holmes was a Holmes and to the manner born.
His father, William, had returned home one day with the bright and confident Violet Mycroft. So the story goes, while grandfather found her beauty of note he found her wits lacking. That was until she asked to speak to him in his study. Surprised, he agreed to the unusual request and when they emerged a half hour later he not only gave his son permission to proceed with the marriage he insisted upon it. She was apparently, in that short time, so brilliant, so clever, so well versed and educated so capable of displaying her genius that grandfather said if William did not marry her he would.
Mycroft enjoyed that story.
And so Violet Mycroft became a Holmes and the legacy was preserved and continued. She went on to bear three children, one so fragile and so, though he hated the hyperbole of the word, soulless, that she fractured into a million pieces and threatened to bring them all down with her.
Mycroft didn't care to think about that. There was something in the equation that was Eurus that upset his idea of the natural order.
Emotions were to be controlled, strictly and without question. Sentiment was a danger, a boobytrap set up by nature in direct opposition to reason and intellect. And in the daylight, those thoughts comforted him.
But at night he thought of Eurus; genius distilled down to its pure form. Intellect on a crucible. Burned and burned and burned until all else fell away as vapor and ash. What was left? Cold. Empty. Nothing. Incandescent, yes, he had used that word and meant it. But behind that, beyond that, what was she? An absolute. An incredible instrument that played terrible music.
Was that what he wanted to become? Was that what he wanted for Sherlock. He gave lip service to a life stripped of attachments, demands, and responsibilities but where did that lead?
To Sherringford he imagined.
Violet Mycroft Holmes had a dizzying intellect and skill for deduction and her eldest son worshiped at the altar of her brilliance. He read every word she had ever written, he engaged her in long discussions while she baked bread and made supper for the family.
Mycroft had no desire to be or appear ordinary but he wasn't ridiculous enough to claim it didn't have its place. Of course, it could make life more convenient. To be powerful and threatening, to command attention when one entered a room, yes, this was all necessary and useful but...but...could his life have been easier if he could have pretended a bit more, as his mother did?
And make no mistake, Violet Holmes pretended.
This is not to say she was not loving or caring or didn't laugh...but she had her limits. She had areas to which she could not go, speculation she could not grasp and walls that could not be breached.
She was a skilled actor on the stage of life but come closer and you could see the tattering of the costume, the smudges of the greasepaint. She could abide by tears, to a point. Frustrations, to a point. Tantrums and anger and all the problems children bring home with them from school, to a point.
She was terrible with niggling illnesses, the common cold, a stomach virus, conjunctivitis, the flu. As a child he was either left alone to deal with the malady himself or depended on the kindness of his father. When Sherlock was older and he fell ill it was Mycroft who took care of him.
Never was Violet more of a Holmes than when it came to her youngest child, Eurus. The problems were blatant, obvious but she ignored them. She tried to find a common ground with the little girl, to teach her, to make her understand, to appeal to a humanity that she didn't possess, but ultimately it came to nothing and she abandoned her, like a failed project. That was how their home burned down, that was how that poor little boy Victor Trevor died, that was how little Sherlock created a fantasy against the brutal reality he couldn't face. That was how Mycroft and Uncle Rudy were left to deal with the problem of mad little sister and how Sherlock turned inward on himself and found no offer of help or therapy forthcoming.
Violet was a Holmes. She had little mercy and gave no quarter to nonsense. When he alongside Uncle Rudy told her that Eurus had died in another fire, to Mycroft's recollection she had shown no emotion, no reaction, nothing. She simply absorbed the information, nodded and went about her day.
Mycroft adored her and feared her and she became the mold after which he modeled himself. Though he never was able to imitate the congenial nature which she herself imitated.
He wondered who her model was. Perhaps her husband.
Neither he nor Sherlock were ever going to have children. That was obvious and like typical parents, Violet and William lamented this fact though for different reasons than an average family might.
It seemed likely that both brothers would not simply go unpartnered but without friends until the end of their days.
And then...then there came John Watson.
Crashing into his brother's life in a way Mycroft could neither have predicted not understood had he had the prescience.
For the life of him, he didn't understand their connection. He had even once written it down on paper as best as he could understand it trying to make sense of what drew them to one another. It had been a frustrating puzzle he had eventually abandoned. He hated an unprovable truth but there they were. He watched from afar as his
He watched from afar as his brother's eyes took on a new light after living with the man for but a month. He watched from afar as the doctor's life crumbled after Sherlock's "suicide". He watched as Sherlock, upon arriving back, safe and sound in London immediately inquired about his old flatmate. Time and time again, through tragedy and pain and fear and death they gravitated towards one another.
There was little surprise when not so long after the death of "Mary" Watson, as she called herself, they quietly married. John had been living with him again, Sherlock was raising the doctor's child alongside him. The child, the little girl, Rosamund, "Rosie", called him Papa.
He was a father. He was married. He was happy.
Their parents were, of course, overjoyed from the start, even long before the wedding.
The wedding where Sherlock gave the doctor his last name. John Watson-Holmes.
Mycroft kept his distance.
Though he was loathe to admit it, especially to Sherlock, Doctor Watson was not an ignorant man. He was neither small nor simple. There was nothing about his intellect that was remarkable, nothing about his genes that needed to be passed down but...but he had an amiable nature, he was smart, clever, certainly head and shoulders above those who were his peers. He was, like their father, acceptable.
But still, something about it, ancestrally, struck him as wrong. With no judgment on his character, his person, his morality or the love and care he professed for Sherlock, the name had been diluted.
He personally had not changed his mind with regard to children and Uncle Rudy had remained a bachelor to his dying day.
So, that was that. Their line had come to an end. Perhaps they had bred themselves out of existence.
A hyphen that signaled a period.
And then he spent an afternoon with Rosamund Watson-Holmes.
The sort of cherubic child most people would have noted as being, what would they say? Adorable?
Precocious was a word too much abused in the modern day. People tossed it about, referencing their progeny and mistaking obnoxiousness for intelligence.
Doctor Watson had, of course, extolled her virtues and more surprising was the fact that Sherlock had joined in. Still, his brother was excessively emotional, especially these days, well, for a Holmes.
He hadn't noticed her very much during their brief meetings though occasionally he did catch her gazing at him. He wasn't accustomed to speaking to children and despite her bewildering habit of calling him Uncle Mycroft, he had no real desire to get to know her. One didn't "get to know" children.
However...as it turned out, he had been wrong.
One strange Sunday afternoon, one odd encounter had changed the trajectory of his life.
In the least likely of places, he had found a rather bright light. The child was sharp, perceptive and able to deduce, truly deduce. He'd enjoyed her company and while his mind was usually not receptive to flights of fancy, he imagined, for a bit what life might have been like with a Eurus like this. What could he have made of her? What could she have made of him?
After that Sunday, Rosamund wished to see him again, and again and again. He found himself penciling in a bit of time at least once a week for her. If they couldn't meet in person he would at the very least arrange a phone call.
He thought perhaps her affection for him and his affection for her might have eased the reception he received at Baker Street. Instead it only aroused more suspicion and he was questioned by his brother, his brother's husband and their landlady, Mrs. Hudson whom Rosamund called "Gran" about just how they spent their time.
They worried she was some sort of pawn. He understood that. He explained, but they were doubtful. He assumed they would be. In fact, he only explained because he feared they might decide to prevent him from seeing her.
He took few joys in life. Life afforded him few. His happiest moment was typically spent alone in his theater watching old movies, some professional and some home made from a lifetime ago.
But, with Rosamund, he found a different sort of happiness, a happiness that brought about the same sort of smile. This is not to say he was overly gregarious with the child. He was himself, always. But, for some odd reason, she seemed to like that. She liked him. When other people would normally storm off, chastise him, dismiss him she would laugh which was usually followed up with an "Oh, Uncle Mycroft."
He had asked her once she was 12; "You don't find me cold?"
She had turned to him with a look on her face far more mature than she should have been able to manage.
"You really don't think I see you, do you?" She'd replied.
He hadn't been brave enough to ask her what she meant.
As she grew so did her intelligence, her clarity and her capacity for comprehension. He encouraged her, trained her, just as he had her father, just as her father was also doing with her at Baker Street. He tightened her thinking skills, her analyzation, her observation. He gave her full access to his library, his notes from university. Should she express an interest in a subject he made sure she had everything she desired on the topic. He fed her curiosity as best he could and it turned out to be voracious. That alone excited him. But there was something else.
As her last names indicated, Rosamund Holmes-Watson was a hybrid. He had known "Mary" was a genius in her own right. Sharp, quick, deadly. And the good doctor, well he possessed a clarity that Mycroft admitted he and Sherlock often lacked. It was less than flattering to say he brought a sort of common man wisdom to cases, but there it was.
So there were three influneces working on the little girl, the genetics of her mother and the opposite and overlapping talents of her fathers. And perhaps his influence as well.
Mycroft wanted to see more of her and he did and as time passed the fears that everyone harbored, the worries that he might turn her into someone like him vanished.
He had harbored those same fears himself though he'd never admit it.
But Rosamund was Rosamund. She was her own person, a shocking balance of both her father's.
A Holmes for the new world.
A Holmes post the East Wind.
And so it went. He thought and prepared himself for the idea that this might be a childhood fancy. It could pass as she aged. But it didn't. They continued their Sunday afternoon meetings even as her teens arrived. She spoke to him as no one else did, no fear, no apprehension, no feigned reverence, just respect, affection, love.
If her fathers were busy on a case he would sometimes be asked to send a car for her at Baker Street so she wouldn't be alone. She would then be delivered to his home on Pall Mall. She would do her homework in her room, a space she had boldly commandeered on one of her first visits. She would practice her violin and he could hear the strains of music as he worked in his office. When time permitted they would dine together. As protocol dictated his staff had sat her at one end of the table and he another. She'd scoffed when she'd seen that, picked up her plate, covered the distance between them and sat at his side.
"Your meeting with the Prime Minister didn't go well?" She'd asked.
"How can you tell?" He asked.
"Right here, by your eyebrow. You pinch that space when you're feeling stressed. It's a bit pink right now."
He'd smiled. He hadn't smiled that entire day.
That might have been the evening he introduced her to classic films though he couldn't remember for certain. They'd had quite a few evenings. He took her to his makeshift screening room, let her pick a film and showed her how to set up the projector. She'd flopped into a seat at his side. Halfway through the film she rested her head on his shoulder.
He gave her full use of his library though he did have her check the books out. Young people were especially careless and he did want them returned. She played his piano and occasionally she even made a meal for him. She passed in and out of fancies, learning them, their ins and outs, sometimes mastering them and moving on.
He'd come in one evening to find her there -he'd given her a key- putting the finishing touches on what appeared to be an incredibly caloric feast.
"I see that look of panic in your eyes, Uncle Mycroft." She said with a grin. "You have my solemn vow that everything here fits perfectly into your daily range. I'd have it no other way. Sit down, enjoy and tell me what hostile plans you thwarted today."
It had been a lovely meal and he wished she hadn't tired of cooking and moved on to painting so quickly.
She had been 16 then if memory served. She was clever and sharp, astoundingly wise, charmingly arrogant, grounded, talented, well-traveled, versed, mannered and bred. He supposed she was also rather pretty too with the dark, natural hair color of her mother, the blue eyes of her father and every so often a quirk of the mouth, smile or a furrow of the brow that she could only have picked up from Sherlock.
He had accrued many favours in his 65 years on earth. Some had been cashed in though some were odd and ends, things he'd never really figured out how to capitalize on from people who could provide things that were of no use in his world.
Until now. He had flung the doors open wide to the best schools and universities, the best internships, the best connections the best jobs. It felt good to be able to do something of this nature. To use his power not to bribe, to force or pressure or bargain or threaten but simply to give.
He was also fully funding her gap year which she'd discover when the deposit to her account hit within the next few days.
These were some of the thoughts rolling lazily through the mind of Mycroft Holmes as he was laid low with an insurmountable bout of the flu. He had battled valiantly but eventually canceled several meetings and returned home not long after 11 AM glad to slink into bed.
The sound of his front door opening brought a weary frown to his face. With irritation, he made to get out of bed, stood and almost immediately plopped down again caught off guard by the dizziness.
Trying again he slowly exited his bedroom and headed towards the stairs.
"Uncle Mycroft?" A voice called and he sighed with relief.
"Rosamund. Why are you here?" He asked the last word punctuated by a cough.
Some might have been put off by his question. He was admittedly terrible with niceties but she only grinned as she took the stairs two at a time to meet him.
"Because you're sick and I'm breaking your quarantine to take care of you. You look awful. You should get back in bed."
"How did you know I was ill? Did you ring for me? Did they say that?" He asked in horror. The absolute last thing he needed was for that rumor to get around that he was too old and sickly to do his job.
"Of course not." She said as though that were a nonsense idea. "I knew you were getting sick when I saw you a few days ago."
She started ushering him gently back towards his bedroom and he was too tired to protest.
"I wasn't sick four days ago." He insisted petulantly as he once again sat on his bed.
"The flu has a one to four day incubation period."
"Rosamund, while I am, as always, delighted by your company this isn't necessary. I have been tending to myself just fine."
He eased back into bed with a grateful sigh at its softness and her help at propping up pillows behind him.
"Mmmhmm." She said dismissively as she pulled a bottle of water from her bag and handed it to him. She then set on the bed a small paper bag from the local chemist.
"Oseltamivir phosphate, street name, Tamiflu. I got Dad to write a prescription for you. Or rather I got Papa to get Dad to write a prescription."
He looked at the bag with naked gratitude and reaching for it, he pulled out the small box and tore into it eagerly.
"That should cut days off your recovery time. The right hand of the British government can't afford to be knocked on his arse for long."
He shook his head at her choice of words as he downed the pills and water. Once he was done she bent over the bed and hugged him. His ability to return affection was always delayed. In the same way that people being questioned by someone in a foreign language pause to wait for the translator before they can answer. His brain still needed to transfer what this was. Though, to his credit, he had gotten faster over the years. He hugged her back.
"Now you're likely to get ill as well." he said with a sigh against her hair.
"Nah, already had it. It kind of swept through the family. Dad, me, Papa and now you. Oh, I got us ice cream for later. Let me go put it in the freezer. Be right back."
She dashed out of the room and he watched her go. Were it anyone else the presumptuous statement of "later" implying an unextended invitation to stay would have been met with a withering gaze. But she was not anyone and she never had been.
"Is it alright if I stay here with you." She asked upon her return. "If you'd like to sleep I can study, A Levels coming and all. But if you'd prefer company..."
"You may stay." He asked happy to have avoided having to ask her to stay.
She grinned in reply and settled at the foot of the bed cross-legged.
"How are your fathers?" He inquired. He inquired about people's well being these days.
"Good, engrossed in a case, so they're happy. Their 15 year anniversary is coming up by the way. I'm throwing them a surprise party and I'll expect you there."
"Oh heavens..." He said with a sigh. "I'll send my regards and the best gift of all, my absence."
Mycroft was pleased, truly pleased with the stability his brother had found with John Watson. There had been no further slip-ups or binges; in fact, he had seemed to right himself totally for his husband and his child. It was admirable, to say the least. Still, they did not all fraternize.
"Wel, I'd like you there." She insisted as she handed him a box of tissue.
"I'm simply not as sentimental as you are, dear. Despite how you try to make me out to be." He blew his nose with a less than dignified honk and she held up the trash can for him to dispose of it.
"Whatever you say." She replied flopping back onto the bed to stare up at the ceiling.
Suddenly she shot up again.
"Is your mobile here?"
"I need to text Papa. I left mine downstairs and it's kind of urgent. It just hit me. Can you text him the following? The reason the footprints disappear is because the dog was wearing the shoes. The sister did it after all."
He looked at her dubiously but sent the text as she requested.
The response was almost immediate.
"Your father, in his charming way, has demanded why I would know this." Mycroft said dryly before coughing into his fist.
"Tell him it just popped into my head. I just needed a bit of calming silence. I needed to be here." She concluded casually.
Mycroft's heart which he was never quite willing to admit he had, warmed.
He quickly texted his brother the reply and the response was far more tempered.
"He says and I quote. You're brilliant, Rosie, thank you!."
The young woman smiled.
"He'd probably already figured it out. He likes to humor me. Thanks, Uncle Mycroft."
"You are welcome. Now, universities, shall we go over them again?" He asked and she groaned in reply.
"Must we go over it again?"
"Your father attended Cambridge while I chose the superior Oxford. Though there's always the Imperial College, Durham or Lancaster University or the University of St. Andrews. I would rather you keep your choices limited to the top ten in the UK."
"What about America?"
"Well, of course, Princeton, Harvard, MIT."
"You know I want to take a year off at least to travel." She said propping up on an elbow to look at him.
"So you've said." He replied with a slight smile. He was very nearly giddy at the idea of her checking her balance and finding the funds for her plans already there.
"But both of them are against it. And they hold the purse strings."
"Why on earth would they be against you expanding your mind?" He asked truly perplexed.
"They're worried I'll get hurt."They're overbearingly overprotective. I wonder what my mum would have been like." She mused before looking to him presumably for an answer.
He disliked dealing in hypotheticals but for her, he sometimes indulged.
"Your mother was brilliant, skilled and though she would have likely skewed towards overprotective as mothers often do, I imagine she would have encouraged you to go."
"That's what I like to think too." She said with a smile.
There was a strong pragmatic streak in the girl. She didn't speak of her mother often, didn't indulge in fantasy which Mycroft appreciated. If there was one thing as sure as the rising and setting of the sun it was that the dead did not come back. No matter how hard people might wish them too. There was no sense in spending long conversations on what-might-have-been's. Still, with Rosamund he was, at times, willing to play along.
The ring of the doorbell surprised him.
"Who the devil-"
"It's alright, that's our dinner. I'll go get it." She said hopping off the bed. She wasn't gone for more than five or so minutes before returning with two tall cups from a local coffee shop and a plate with biscuits.
"Here's yours, I think..." She sniffed it lightly and then smiled. "Yeah this is it, honey, ginger, and milk. I out dinner in the fridge for later."
"We have perfectly good tea here, dear." He said. She was the only person on earth he called dear.
She ignored him and sipped her own drink.
"Coffee for me and some chocolate bourbons for both of us. If your throat is sore you can dunk them to make it go down easier."
"Thank you, Rosamund."
"You're welcome, Uncle. Now, I believe you were in the middle of lecturing me about university. But that topic bores me, so tell me, what did you want to do when you were a boy?"
Such a simple question and yet he didn't have an answer. He sipped his tea which was admittedly quite good to buy a bit of time.
"I don't remember." He said finally. "If there was something...it's lost to me now. I believe I was too busy to indulge in what the future might hold. There was too much to be done in the present."
"So, you didn't want to lead this life?"
"After so many years it's difficult to even say." he said quietly, unnerved by the twinges of pain this brought about.
"You created your job, from the ground up. That's what you always told me."
"This is true." he nodded.
"Be indispensable, Rosamund. That's what I've heard you say all my life. You made up a job just like Papa and Dad and now no one can do without you." She smiled broadly her face full of pride. "I admire you three so much. But sometimes you most of all."
"Me? Why me?"
"Because you had to do it alone." She was again sitting cross-legged on the bed, facing him, one hand wrapped around her cup while the other reached for a biscuit.
"Dear, you've always had a rather romantic notion when it came to me. I am neither romantic nor sentimental. I dislike people and they tend to feel precisely the same way about me. And I am most certainly not lonely." Though the tea was doing wonders for his sinuses he coughed again, jostling the bed. "In all these years," he continued once he'd stopped that awful tickling irritation. "I've always wanted to ask you, what it is you saw in me?"
"You must have a fever." She said only half joking. "But, I'll just say that I saw you. I saw all the things in you that I love in Papa. I saw all the things in you that vex Daddy but, well, they make me laugh. When I was little I saw you as someone who needed a friend. I saw you as a proto-Papa, a version of him that could have existed or did long before I was born. But as I grew up I understood you're your own person. A good person, just different."
"I'm not a good man. Rosamund. I never have been and I shall go to my grave unchanged."
"I believe I know what kind of a man you are, Uncle Mycroft." She said quietly as she traced the rim of her cup with her fingertip. Suddenly she raised her head and met his gaze. "The British government doesn't run on sunshine and ice cream. I know dark things have to be done and I know that you're often called upon to make terrible decisions and grotesque sacrifices. I know your work, I know what you've done. I know your methods, I know the lengths you've gone to. I know the depths to which you've had to sink. I also know that it weighs upon you more than you'll ever admit to yourself. More than you ever can."
"Can you figure me out so well?"
She inhaled, drawing back and taking him in fully looking quite a bit like Sherlock.
"I can tell you've been working when you should be sleeping?"
"By the way your wrist was positioned when you turned the knob to close the front door, tentative and obviously done with your left hand as opposed to your right. That means your carpal tunnel is playing up. And you haven't been wearing your wrist braces and you favor your right hand when you type.
You have a projector and a movie screen despite the fact that the majority of these movies have been transferred to Blu-Ray with enhanced quality sound and picture. And even those that haven't been transferred, surely, it's something you could orchestrate. This indicates a sentimentality likely born out of the fact that this was the first way you ever viewed the movies as a young man. It also speaks to a certain nostalgia, meaning you're willing to remain in the past despite the fact that better options exist because the past is still somehow superior even though logically that's untrue. You mouth the lines silently when you watch, I've seen you do it out of the corner of my eye. You also have certain tins that largely go untouched, they have a different casing and no outer markings unlike everything else in your collection. This indicates you know the contents well enough to keep it unlabeled. And yet they're usually dustier than everything else in your library meaning they're beloved and treasured yet painful. Likely family movies I imagine.
Moving on, you're apt to ignore Papa's birthday but you always make certain to call or visit on January 15th. Every year, without fail. It's because that's the day he jumped off Barts and even though you knew it was safe, even though you helped arrange it you still saw the pictures and felt his absence and worried that what if someday you did lose him. And all that worry, it still hurts.
In addition to that, a few years back there was an effort to buy out Baker Street. A business mogul was purchasing most of the little flats in the areas trying to commercialize it all. Everyone else had signed and everyone at Baker Street, they were the only ones holding out. Now, two old lady landlords could have been easily ousted with little fuss. But somehow after I mentioned it to you, in tears mind you, all those harassing visits and letters and phone calls to Granny Hudson stopped. Any inquiries towards the sale of Baker Street were stopped and never mentioned again.
You wear a ring on your right hand. You touch it when you're nervous, you stare at it when you're thinking, you caress it with your thumb out of habit. It's not familial I can tell by the way Granny Violet glances at it now and then. She does it sadly, it's similar to the way you look at it but you have much more of a connection. You take it off to clean it but never by the bathroom or kitchen sink, likely because it's too precious for you and you'd be devastated if it went down the drain. There's a little cup and toothbrush in your office and that's when and where you take it off. There are watermarks on the rim of the middle desk drawer which leads me to believe there's an item in there you like to look at while you clean. Perhaps a photograph. I went looking for a pen in there once but after I saw the watermarks I didn't open it. It's private and none of my business. I suspect this all centers around a lost friend or friendship or perhaps a love affair gone wrong. If it's intense enough I suppose there's hardly a difference.
Sentimental, generous, stubborn, nostalgic, romantic. I know you, Uncle Mycroft." She concluded. "I know there are many more parts to you than you care to admit or acknowledged. Though I suppose I'll never know why."
He was stunned. No one, not even his brother had ever deduced him so well. There was not a single point he could argue or refute. She had thoroughly assessed him and now regarded him with a smile tinged with a love and a sadness he found difficult to confront outright.
He cleared his throat and cleared it again.
"You are a deadly shot, Rosamund. Truly an assassin."
"And yet you live. It wasn't meant to wound, Uncle, only to make a point you don't want to see." She said with a soft smile. "And now, because you're sick I'm going to do something I never do."
"And what might that be?"
She got up from the bed and picked up her violin case and removed it gracefully.
"I'm going to let you call the tune." She said settling the instrument beneath her chin.
"A dangerous game." He said unable to hide his excitement.
"Don't I know it."
"I shan't go easy on you."
"I'd be disappointed and hurt if you did, Uncle Mycroft."
He believed her.
"Alright, as you wish." He coughed, took a bite of biscuit and smiled. "Paganini's Caprice No. 4 in c minor"
She laughed and it reminded him of Sherlock. That is when he'd been lucky enough to see Sherlock laugh.
"Not up for it?"
"Are you kidding? I thought you were going to pick the Locatelli's 'Il labirinto armonico'."
"No, next I'm going to tackle Ernst's Variations on "The Last Rose of Summer" next. Most people get Paganini down and can't be arsed to learn Ernst. Hey, that's a good title "Can't be arsed to learn Ernst"."
She laughed and raised her bow to begin.
"Ready?" She asked and he nodded in reply.
Mycroft closed his eyes as she played, letting the music and notes wash over him. He'd heard his brother play on countless occasions for years and years. When they visited her he'd heard his sister play as well. But Rosamund...she put them to shame. It was breathtaking, her finger work, the rises the falls, the dizzying runs, the notes filling his bedroom and the house as a whole. The music! He kept very still so as not to stir even the slightest cough. He couldn't interrupt this, this concert for him.
When she finished she brought her arms down gracefully, the strains of the music still around her, in her. He opened his eyes and she grinned at him.
"You think? There's always this one part where I fear I'm going to lose it, spin out of control, you know?" She carefully put the instrument back in its case. "I worry about that, spinning out of control."
He suspected she meant more than just the music.
"I believe you underestimate yourself."
"In any case, I think you should rest." She said taking the plate of biscuits off the bed and picking up any errant crumbs. She set his tea on the nearby nightstand and pulled the blankets further up his body.
"I haven't been tucked in since I was a child."
"Well, that's a shame. Everyone should be tucked in now and then."
"You're not leaving?" He asked, the question coming out more plaintive than he could stand.
"No, I'm just going downstairs for a bit while you sleep. I have some school work and studying to catch up on. I'll be back in a few hours."
She kissed him on the forehead. Actually kissed him and he flushed. So much of the kindness he remembered from his brother when they were small. But not so raw, not so open and ready to be hurt. She had an outer shell and he was grateful for it.
"See you in a bit." She said as she left the room and switched off the light.
What seemed like only five minutes later she returned.
"How are you feeling?" She asked.
He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep but he could tell it was possibly late evening.
"You're still here."
"Of course I am. Now, how do you feel?"
Truthfully he felt awful but he hated the idleness of sleeping and he was a bit hungry.
"I've felt better." He said honestly.
"Well, time for more Tamiflu." She said popping a pill out of the blister packet.
"But it's to be taken every 12 hours." He protested.
"Indeed, it's a little after midnight. Here I made more tea. Drink it down. And once you're done we can have a late dinner and I have a surprise for you."
She gestured to the projector and screen she had surreptitiously set up in his bedroom. He must have been sleeping hard not to have heard her.
"I found it." She says looking immensely pleased with herself.
He blinked at her. There was only one thing she could possibly mean. But it couldn't be.
"You didn't. You couldn't have."
"Oh but I did." She said with a laugh as she hurried out of the room. "Grabbing our dinner, be right back!"
She came back soon after with a tray carrying two bowls of soup, two sandwiches and her own mug of tea.
"Well go on, face the screen!" She said as she set their food down and then started to search through her bag. She produced a reel and quickly opened the case and threaded the film through the machine as he'd showed her years ago.
She switched off the lights and took her place on the bed at his side, careful to not jostle their soup.
"How did you get this, I must know!" He whispered.
"You can't always wait for good cases to fall into your lap." She whispered in reply as the film started. "I may have sought out a few known old movie collectors, or hoarders. I found one who had a bit of a mystery and I named my price. He accepted, I solved the case and in return, he gave me a copy of long assumed lost, The Miracle Man, 1919 Lon Chaney, Thomas Meighan and Betty Compson.
"I've been looking for this movie all my life." He said with wonder.
"I know." She said taking a sip of her soup. "So hush and watch it."
And he did but not before staring at her for a bit in the flickering darkness. He loved her, he'd come to terms with that long ago. This unexpected little burst of brightness in his life that he wanted to keep safe and happy. The brightness that always made him go a bit farther in maintaining good relations with his brother and brother-in-law. She was an infusion and injection of clarity and ingenuity and brilliance if not directly to their bloodline then to their family name. Though years ago he would have been loathe to admit it the injection of "Morstan" and Watson mingled with the influence of Sherlock and perhaps, just perhaps he as well, had worked to revitalize their family. The name would go on and it would go on gracefully, intelligently nimbly and in a way of which he could be proud.
He no longer saw that dash a period.
"You are a marvel, Rosamund Holmes." He said quietly before turning his face to watch the film.
"Watson-Holmes." She corrected him with a grin he could see even in the darkness before resting her head on his shoulder.
A/N Special thanks to Tikatikox, Lestrades_Lady , and prulock who prompted me to write a sequel.