I bolted upright, quickly scanning the room for any signs of danger. Nothing seemed amiss, no broken objects, no further noises. I shook my head and rubbed my face with my hands. Nothing was worse than being startled awake. Light was peeking through the sheer white curtains; it was almost dawn then. My gray t-shirt was beginning to soak with sweat. Damn my nerves. Sherlock, of course, was sprawled out in bed next to me, face down in the pillow, and, of course, hadn't even stirred a little bit. I tossed the navy duvet off of me and nearly tumbled out of bed when I heard,
"Don't be so concerned, John, they're attempting to make us breakfast this morning."
I turned towards the muffled voice coming from the prone body covered in black silk pajamas and said,
"They're FOUR Sherlock, they can't be in the kitchen by themselves!"
"I knew they were planning this. Given the date, it was obvious. I unplugged the stove and hid all the dangerous objects in our kitchen, yes, even the foot I had sitting in the freezer. Though I'd like you to know my experiment is utterly ruined now!"
I sighed a small breath of relief. At least our girls weren't in imminent danger of hurting themselves or burning the house down.
I whispered, "Now where would they get such an idea?" He replied, "When we visited Molly, she was talking on the phone with her mother and said she was planning on making breakfast for her father for Father's Day, I'm assuming that's where they conceived the idea."
I knew the children could barely pour cereal for themselves and with the noise that awoke me, I was getting more and more anxious that they had injured themselves or were about to hurt themselves. I swung my legs down to get off the bed, when Sherlock quickly shook his head and motioned for me to get back into bed.
He reached over and grabbed my arm, pulling me towards the mattress. My head slammed back down onto my pillow. It was then that I heard the pitter patter of four little feet and quiet shushing from one girl to the other. I shut my eyes and tried to calm my breathing.
They seemed to struggle with the brass knob of our oak door, but eventually the door creaked open. More pitter patters and shushing. I felt a nudge on my side and heard a shout of "Good morning, Papa and Daddy!", so I slowly rolled over and yawned widely, making a big show of how they had "awoken" me. I felt Sherlock stir next to me and gently place his head on my shoulder.
River Grace and Indigo Rose Watson-Holmes were the most precious gifts Sherlock and I had and will ever receive. River was the elder of the twins, exactly 4 minutes older as she liked to remind anyone who would care to listen, and certainly took after her Daddy in looks and attitude. Her raven ringlets fell just below her shoulders and she had eyes as blue and deep as the ocean. Right now, she was wearing a long purple nightgown with suspicious splotches of flour dotted all over. Her little fingers and toes were painted with a pink glitter polish, specially bought for the girls by their Uncle Mycroft for their 4th birthday several weeks ago. She was the leader of the two, always spouting ideas and dragging her sister along for the adventure. She was kind and fierce, letting no obstacle stand in her way.
Indigo, on the other hand, had sandy blonde hair like mine used to be that also fell in ringlets, just a little longer than River's, with bright hazel eyes from her mother (our surrogate, we can never repay that lovely, wonderful woman for what she gave to us.). Indie, as she's known, was wearing a light blue version of the nightgown her sister was wearing. Smudges of what appeared to be maple syrup were present on her sides, as though she had wiped her syrupy hands on her nightgown. Indie had chosen a bright orange polish for her fingers and toes during our makeovers last evening. She was our quiet thinker, with a heart of gold, always smiling, and never cross.
Both girls were shorter than average, but still somehow appeared like willows swaying in the wind. Long, dark eyelashes framed both of their large eyes. Their cheekbones were high, but much softer than their Daddy's, and their skin was like porcelain. They were our perfect little girls, our breaths of life.
"Darlings! What are you doing waking Daddy and I up so early?"
They said, almost simultaneously, "We wanted to make you and Daddy breakfast, just like Aunt Molly was going to do for her Daddy!" I smiled at both of our princesses and looked at the tray they were proudly presenting to me.
The tray had two plates of uncooked batter, with what appeared to be shards of eggshells, covered in syrup, two princess-themed sippy cups of orange juice, and a bundle of Sherlock's red peonies that he grew in an upstairs window (rays of sunlight came in at just the right angle for optimal peony growth, according to him.).
I could feel Sherlock's chest tremoring behind me, as if he was trying to keep from laughing. I shoved my elbow into his bony chest and he seemed to compose himself almost immediately. He sat up, held his arms out, and said, "My, my, what a beautiful breakfast!"
River and Indie sat the tray onto my bedside table and clambered onto Sherlock and me, Indie came to rest on my chest, with River tightly wrapped around Sherlock. I sat up with Indie in my arms and joined my family in a group hug.
"We're sorry they don't look like your pancakes, Papa!" River piped up from between Sherlock and I. "Yeah Papa, we tried to make them cook in the pans, but we couldn't get the pans to work!" Indie said, "but we made you cards! We left them in the living room, we didn't want to make them messy and icky!" Both girls' smiles beamed up at us and I couldn't help but chuckle. I glanced at Sherlock, who had a similar mask of amusement on his face.
"Your pancakes look just like my pancakes!" Both girls perked up to hear that they could indeed "cook" like one of their fathers. "Well let's get to those wonderful cards then, shall we? We can get back to breakfast later." Sherlock said.
"LET'S GO!" shouted both girls. True to form, River grabbed Indie's hand and grabbed Sherlock's hand with her other. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, quickly took the two sippy cups and gave one to Sherlock, motioning him to drink from it as he was being led away by River. I quickly took a sip from mine and also took two flowers from the tray, placing them in my shirt pocket.
The three of them were nearly out the door when Indie broke away, came over to me, held out her little hand to me, and said, "I'll wait for you, Papa."
Tears sprung up in my eyes as I took her hand in my own and let my daughter lead me.
I walked into the living room where I heard River chatting away with Sherlock.
"And then the dragon…Papa! Here's your card!" River stood up on the couch waving the card in her hand, practically bouncing off the brown leather. I could see Sherlock holding his in his left hand, dutifully drinking from the pink sippy cup in his other.
"I haven't looked at mine yet, John, I promised River I would wait."
Stopping in the doorway, I scooped Indie up in my arms and walked over to the couch, placed my cup on the coffee table, and picked up River in my other arm.
I sat down next to the love of my life and settled in. Indie squirmed out of my lap and moved over to Sherlock's. I handed Sherlock one of the flowers, which he also placed in his pajama shirt pocket. Both girls were practically squealing with excitement as we both looked at our cards.
Scribbles of bright colors decorated the paper. Four blue circles with blue lines for arms were lined up at the bottom of the page. The two smaller circle people stood in the middle with the two larger circle people on either side. Above the little family, was written in purple crayon, with several backwards letters, "Daddy. River. Indie. Papa. Family. Love." Tears again, formed in my eyes, when I heard a sound to my left like a tear hitting a piece of paper. I glanced over and saw a single wet track down my Sherlock's face. Sherlock, crying! I had only seen him cry three times before, when he returned after those two horrible years, at our wedding, and when the nurse presented our daughters to us.
He gathered us all in his long arms and said, "I love you all so much, my loves, my family."
I could smell the strawberry shampoo in our daughters' hair, feel the strong arms of my husband around me, and hear the giggles of our world between us. I never wanted to leave this moment, after all we had been through, we were happy and had the life we never imagined having, but could now not live without.
Sherlock. River Grace. Indigo Rose. Family. Love.
This was the mantra of my heart and soul, now and forever. It was, and always will be, perfect.