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Love Without Words

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Rosie, Sherlock assured him, was a very bright child. She was well within her percentile for her age, curious, engaged and receptive. Still, John worried, because she hadn’t yet walked. Nothing more than drunken stumbles while holding onto furniture.

He tried not to worry, but secretly he read all the books by child experts he could. It would have been great to ask his mum when he and Harry first started walking, but she was long dead and Harry, being only a year older wouldn’t know.

It seemed to him that life had taken too much from his daughter already, given her a large enough disadvantage that she shouldn’t also have any problems developing at the normal stages other children seemed to achieve so easily.

When it happened, John was unprepared.

It was a normal, boring Tuesday, a quiet evening at Baker Street. Mrs Hudson had made dinner and the three of them had enjoyed it in the homey comfort of the flat.

Sherlock was in a particularly good mood and seemed relaxed, talkative and glad to simply lounge on the rug with Rosie, letting her tug his curls and stick her fingers up his nose as they babbled at one another. John almost believed that Sherlock spoke baby, so in tuned with Rosie did he seem to be.

“Sherlock, dear,” Mrs Hudson said, as she went to make a pot of tea, “you should play your violin for us.”

“Alright,” he agreed readily enough, and rose to fetch it. Returning, he warmed up his fingers and then, standing in front of the window overlooking Baker Street, began to play.

Rosie seemed captivated–John thought surely she’d heard Sherlock play before–perhaps it was because her curiosity and awareness were greater now. He smiled fondly at her little curly head, tilted as she regarded Sherlock brightly.

He wove his way through several songs, until Mrs Hudson said, “Oh do play that new piece for John–you know the one, dear, it’s the one I’ve heard you composing and practicing.”

Ducking his head, Sherlock looked faintly flushed; he cast an oblique look at John through his lashes and after a bit of hesitation began to play.

Excepting when his mood was sour and he seemed hell-bent on tormenting his violin–and his listeners–Sherlock always played beautifully. His compositions were things of beauty, but this was something else.

So focused at first was John on the sadness and power of the song that at first he couldn’t take his eyes away from Sherlock. Not until he heard Mrs Hudson gasp his name and her thin hand clutched excitedly at his arm. John refocused and watched in delight as Rosie–stood on bowed legs, round eyes fixed on Sherlock–took a few staggering, unaided steps forward.

They sat transfixed, spellbound by the growing excitement and joy of Sherlock’s music and the sight of Rosie walking on unsteady legs towards her godfather. John held his breath, heart racing as if she were doing something dangerous, unable to tear his eyes away. After a good ten steps she bumped down onto her bottom. Crawling a few paces forward, she pushed herself again to her feet and toddled toward Sherlock.

John looked up at Sherlock as Rosie flung herself at his legs, clutching onto him, face up raised. He was half-afraid he would see a look of annoyance on Sherlock’s face, but instead was stunned to see a soft smile and tear-bright eyes on his best friend. Sherlock looked lovingly down at Rosie as he played, slightly stooped, as if he wanted to stop playing and scoop her up.

Hugging his leg, Rosie tipped her head back, eyes rapt, mouth a small O as Sherlock brought the song to a gentle close.

Unaware he’d even risen to his feet, John was halfway across the room before he realized that Sherlock was crying as he set his violin gently aside and picked up Rosie. “Did you like that, Watson?” he asked, staring at John. “That was for your father–” Voice gone husky, he patted her tiny back, gaze entirely on John, “–it’s all for your father.”

“Sherlock,” John breathed, and stepped into his arms as if he’d ways belonged there. Rosie between them, they shared their first kiss; soft, hesitant and faintly salted with happy tears.

Rosie, slightly squashed between them, patted John’s cheek, and he captured her hand in his, pulling away enough to check in with Sherlock that this was all okay. “Sherlock…?”

“John,” he sighed, and kept his arm around John, the other cradling Rosie on his opposite hip. “I think we have an audience.”

“I don’t mind,” John said dazed, “I think Rosie approves.”

Sherlock’s eyes lit with amusement and he tilted John’s face back towards the direction he was facing. “That audience.”

Tears rolling down her cheeks, not dampening her glowing smile one whit, was Mrs Hudson, who was standing by her chair, phone trained on them. John hadn’t even realized she’d been filming Rosie’s first steps and was faintly glad someone had thought to. Mostly he was a bit embarrassed that their first kiss had been caught on camera, both of them tear-wet, Rosie squashed between them, him in a shabby old jumper.

But as he looked at Mrs Hudson’s ecstatic face, John realized he didn’t care. Let the whole world see their happiness.