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A Jolly Masquerade

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Mary Watson had come to expect many things when visiting Sherlock at 221 Baker Street. There had been snakes and parachutes and, on one memorable occasion, rainbow-colored vomit all over the floor ("not mine, my dear," he'd reassured her).

She should have been prepared to face the sight of Sherlock adjusting some woman's bow tie, and her adjusting his corset and smoothing down his skirts in return. She definitely should have been prepared.

"Oh," said the woman Mary presumed to be named Irene Adler. Even with a single syllable her accent was impossible to miss.

"I suppose I should assume this isn't what it looks like," Mary said, taking in the sight of Irene, dressed in gentlemen's evening wear and Sherlock, halfway to looking like a middle aged woman at a ball.

"Oh, no," Sherlock assured her, with a smile he often tried to pass for pleasant but Mary considered anything but. "This is exactly what it looks like, my dearest Mary."

Irene slapped him brusquely on the fabric-covered hip and came toward Mary, presenting a smile that was both believable and full of mischief. "A pleasure," she said, taking hold of Mary's hand and kissing it briefly. "My name is--"

"I know who you are, Miss Adler," Mary rushed to assure her. She often felt like she was lagging behind the conversation when Sherlock Holmes was involved but she'd never liked the feeling.

"Sherlock's been spreading his wicked tales about me, I see." Traces of the smile lingered a moment longer before she turned to face Sherlock again. "The purple gown this time, do you think? I've brought several but I think that it would be the most fitting for the occasion."

Before Sherlock could reply Mary said, "Pardon my interruption, Mister Holmes, but John asked me to personally deliver this letter to you, with some urgency, as he's been taken ill, suddenly--"

Before she could finish Sherlock had abandoned the drawer he's been rummaging through and appeared before her, snatching the letter from between her fingers. "Blast it all to Hell," he murmured, reading feverishly over the lines.

"Is it what we'd assumed?" Irene asked, voice now colder and more determined.

"Hm," Sherlock acknowledged.

"Right. Very well," Mary said into the sudden stillness. "I'm so glad to have been useful, and now I really must be getting home--"

"Sherlock," Irene said, locking eyes with Mary. If she was trying to communicate a particular sentiment Mary had no idea how to interpret it.

Sherlock, however, turned his head swiftly to look at Irene, his eyes widening with horror. "No. Absolutely not. No, no, no."

"Not the Watson I was counting on," Irene admitted. "But perhaps this one will serve even better." The words had barely sunk in for Mary when Irene added, "tell me, when have you last worn trousers?"

"I hate masquerades with every fiber of my being," Sherlock huffed.

"Now, Mister Holmes," Mary said before she could stop herself. "That is simply a blatant lie."

Irene's eyes met hers again, full of surprise and silent mirth. "Come," she said, pushing past Sherlock and grabbing Mary by the hand. "There isn't any time to waste. We must save your husband and perhaps the rest of this rainy, miserable land and merely applying Sherlock's make up is going to take hours."

*

Dear Calasara, have some more awesome crossdressing ladies.


Victorian woman in naval uniform. Circa 1890.


Lily Elsie and Adrienne Augarde 1907

And of course: