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I promise I won’t fall in love

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“I’m sorry, I don’t-- did you-- have you just asked me to marry you?”

Mycroft holds back a sigh, telling himself patience is key in this particular endeavour. His companion is reacting much better than he predicted anyway, and he supposes this is a very rational calm response to his question.

“Yes,” he says simply, nodding once for good measure. His companion just stares at him, blinking owlishly.

“Alright,” the other man says after a brief pause and Mycroft can’t help the smile that comes unbidden to his lips: things are going much better than he expected. “But why?” he adds after a beat. “I’m assuming it’s not because you’re madly in love with me,” he says, with a small self deprecating smile.

Mycroft rolls his eyes. It baffles him how blind his companion seems to be to his own attractiveness: can’t he honestly see he’s not only unfairly handsome, but also good and kind? Who could resist such combination?

To be fair however, that’s not the reason why Mycroft is asking. “My parents passed away last saturday. A car accident,” he explains and the other man opens his mouth, probably to offer his condolences, which are unwanted and unnecessary, so he hurries to carry on. “Their will stated I was to inherit the family’s money and properties, along with my brother’s custody, but only if I met certain… requirements .” He scrunches his nose in displeasure, remembering his short meeting with his parents’ lawyer.

“Oh,” his companion says softly. “So it’s about your inheritance.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes once more. “I couldn’t care less for my parents’ money,” he says annoyedly. “What’s more, I would have renounced to it all, but then my brother’s custody would go to dear Aunt Elise, who’s currently living in Paris.” He shakes his head dejectedly. “That’d be a disaster in so many levels, I don’t even want to think about it.”

A long pause follows. “So you… need to marry?” his companion asks after a beat. “I mean, it sounds a little… I’m sure I’ve seen that plot in several romantic comedies, but I didn’t think it happened in real life.”

Mycroft sighs. If only. “My parents’ lawyer assures me it’s all perfectly legal. Apparently, there’s nothing against establishing certain conditions for someone to get an inheritance.” He sighs, running his fingers through his hair. “It’s amazing, my parents commitment to dictating the way I live my life, even beyond the grave.” He shakes his head, at lost of what else he can possibly say. “I’m truly sorry, Gregory. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t so important and in all honesty… you’re the only person I trust enough for this.”

“I know,” the other man replies softly, avoiding his eyes. “I… I’ll help you, of course,” he adds, smiling, although it doesn’t really reach his eyes. “What are friends for, after all?” his tone is light and playful, but Mycroft can tell there’s something bothering him.

Understandable, really. “I’m not expecting anything from you,” he hurries to reassure him, reaching for his companion’s arm but retrieving his hand when the other jumps a little. “It’d be just-- I just need you to sign the papers. You don’t even have to live with me, let alone--” he blushes profusely, horrified by his own thoughts. It’s true ever since they met, Gregory Lestrade has protagonized several late night fantasies, but Mycroft would never use such a lowly scheme to get the man in bed with him.

“Mycroft, relax,” his companion says, smiling softly, a light red hue covering his cheeks too. “I understand. But… couldn’t we get in trouble if someone found out we’re not actually… that’s it just a sham of a marriage? Shouldn’t we try to avoid raising any suspicions?”

It shouldn’t be a problem, really, unless his aunt decides to raise some trouble. Mycroft scrunches his nose as he thinks about that; knowing dear Aunt Elise, that’s certainly a possibility. “You’re right, of course,” he agrees after a beat. “But-- you wouldn’t mind?”

Gregory shrugs non committedly, leaning back on his seat. “I mean… your flat is closer to the Yard than my own and certainly nicer, so that’s a plus.” He grins as Mycroft rolls his eyes good naturedly. “And living with you can’t be that terrible.”

“It’s a two bedroom flat,” Mycroft feels obliged to point out. “And since the point of the whole thing is to get my brother’s custody--”

“Well, yeah, but-- how terrible can it be? Do you snore too loudly? Hog the blankets?”

“I don’t know,” Mycroft confesses, colouring once more. “I’ve never-- I’ve never shared my bed.”

Oh, why did he have to say so? Couldn’t he just have said “no”? Why must he find ways to embarrass himself in front of the other man? “Oh,” Gregory says, sounding surprised which is-- well, Mycroft doesn’t know what it is. He’d think it’s rather obvious; who would want him, after all? “That’s-- umm-- well, I guess we’ll find out,” he says finally, shrugging with affected indifference.

Mycroft ignores the way his heart flutters inside his chest. It’s not like that, he reminds himself sharply. “I do appreciate it a great deal,” he says softly. “I owe you big time.”

Gregory chuckles, shaking his head. “Don’t mention it, really. It’s nothing.”

Mycroft smiles mischievously. “Well… let’s see if you still think the same after you meet Sherlock.”

“You always make your brother sound like a little devil,” Gregory says fondly, smiling too. “But you’re marrying me so he can stay with you, so he can’t be that terrible.”

“I adore my brother,” Mycroft agress. “Doesn’t mean he’s not a little menace.”

“Well, I’m sure it’s nothing a copper and a minor government official can’t handle ,” he wiggles his eyebrows, amused and Mycroft snorts.

“You have no idea,” he says, taking a sip from his drink, the weight he’s been carrying over his shoulders for the last two days finally lifting. If Gregory hadn’t agreed with his crazy plan, Mycroft has no idea what he’d have done, since for once in his life he didn’t have a plan B. He’s thankful it hadn’t come down to that, of course, even if the idea of actually marrying Gregory has him feeling all confused.

On one hand, his dearest dream is about to come true.

On the other, it’s all a farce so he can keep Sherlock’s custody.

It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.