Prompts: Holy Night. It’s Christmas.
Mrs Hudson prepared us a special meal on the evening of the 24th. I might say that we dined like royalty, save for the fact that I have been present more than once for dinner at the Palace and the food proved mediocre at best. When our landlady turns her hand to it, she can not only provide a good Scottish breakfast, but a most fine Christmas Eve feast as well.
Watson and I enjoyed tender roast pork and current jelly, alongside parsnips, baked apples and potatoes, all served with a nicely aged French wine. We ate in a familiar silence, save for a passing remark or two on the fineness of the food. Neither of us feels the need to fill every moment with pointless conversation, which is a blessing indeed.
All in all, it was a most pleasant evening. When the detritus of the meal had been cleared away, we sat in front of the fire, brandies and pipes in hand. Watson stared into the flames for a time and then began to recount one of his tales of his time in Afghanistan. It is a subject that he, unlike many ‘old campaigners’ broaches only on rare occasions. Therefore, I always listen with particular care when he honours me by sharing such things. This particular episode was of a much different Christmas Eve, one spent on a faraway battlefield, amongst the badly wounded and dying. Still, somehow, my good Watson made it into a tale of hope and redemption rather than one of blood and death and misery. Which, of course, should not have come as a surprise to me, an unrepentant drug addict of questionable morals, whom he has managed to transform into a hero for the British reading public.
John Watson is a man who can spin gold from the most unpromising of chaff.
The rest of the house was very quiet by the time we banked the fire, locked the door and retired to the bedroom. We were both feeling warm and most content with life. Watson absently hummed a carol as we slowly undressed one another, not bothering with our nightclothes, instead slipping naked as new borne babes into the heated warmth of our bed. I turned to him and he received me with a smile and a brightening in his eyes.
Whilst I have admittedly done no study nor penned a monograph on the subject, it seems probable that, like we two, other couples have a certain variety in the ways they express their affection within the physical realm. Sometimes, to be crude, we fuck. Fast and furious and carnal, like the lowest of the beasts. Other times, it is slow and familiar, as if we have been together for decades. On those occasions, I sometimes fantasise that such is the case and that we are both old and grey, with the weight of years behind us. I see a cottage and an apiary and a dog. And I see Watson, bent a bit with age, perhaps once again requiring a walking stick, but with eyes that still brighten at my touch, even if the hands caressing him are wrinkled and spotted with age. One might think such a vision of two old men, no longer the heroes running the streets of London, solving crimes and having ridiculous adventures, but instead frail and a bit forgetful would serve to depress, but such is not the case. All it makes me feel is gratitude and something akin to joy.
Our hearts will still burn, glowing perhaps with physical desire a bit tempered, but love only increased by time. I am sure of this.
On this Christmas Eve, Watson and I came together simply, tenderly gifting one another with expressions of both love and desire, our murmured endearments the music to which we performed our timeless pas de deux. And as we finished, we spoke the names so rarely used.
“Sherlock,” he sighed.
“My John,” I returned.
He ran a hand through my mess of hair and smiled again.
“When we are very old,” I said, “we shall have a dog and I will call you John all the time.”
“I look forward to that, my dear Holmes,” he whispered.
There was no more conversation and soon we slept, still wrapped together.
I awoke not long after dawn.
Watson slept on deeply, snoring just a bit as he sometimes did. After watching him for several minutes, I slipped from the bed, wrapped myself in my warmest dressing gown and went into the parlour. The room had chilled overnight and so I spent some time getting the fire up and blazing again. A cup of tea sounded most delightful, but the house was still silent and, in view of the day, I was loathe to rouse anyone just for that purpose.
Instead, I went to the window and looked down upon Baker Street. More people than one might have anticipated were already out and about, either those souls who still must toil despite the holiday or perhaps those lucky ones on their way to join family or friends for a festive day. I did smile a bit to see a somewhat bedraggled Father Christmas, with a laden canvas bag over his shoulder, making his way towards the Underground rail station.
As I watched, a small group of carollers gathered on the corner below. Wondering why on earth they were preparing to sing at this early hour, I opened the window just enough to hear as they began a rousing version of O, Holy Night. It was all quite ridiculous, but only the fact that I did not desire to awaken Watson kept me from lifting my violin to accompany them. Still singing, they began to move in the direction of the nearest church, followed by a few of the ragged street people who had been lured by the music. Which had been their purpose all along, I decided, recognising a few of my Irregulars amongst the group. I hoped fleetingly that the holy people would be mindful of their pocketbooks. My cynicism takes no holiday, it seems.
I closed the window, checked the fire and returned to the bedroom. Still in my dressing gown I slid back into the bed and wrapped myself around Watson, who stirred a little and whispered something I could not quite hear.
At peace, I simply lay in that warm embrace until, nearly an hour later, he opened his eyes and smiled at me.
“It is Christmas, Watson,” I said.
“Indeed it is,” he replied.
We celebrated in our way.