As it happens with all old homes eventually, a leak had formed in the attic at Musgrave. They had lost a couple of trunks of old things that had become too moldy to save by the time the problem was discovered. The entire roof had to be replaced. Greg and Myc had the arduous job of sorting through everything in the attic for temporary relocation or outright removal before the work began.
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Gregory sat on the attic floor in front of a trunk with a rusted lock. He picked up the ring of seemingly a thousand keys that always hung on the wall and eventually found the correct one to open it. Inside contained boxes stuffed with personal letters, greeting cards and other mementos. He opened the first envelope and pulled out the fine stationary paper.
There were just three words written on it. I love you.
No signature, just the words, still Greg knew the writer well.
It was written in an elegant cursive. Of course, it was elegant it was Mycroft’s Holmes’ handwriting. Everything about it, every tittle, jot, umlaut, ring, accents grave and acute, even his use of dieresis and circumflex was perfection. The fluid stokes from the hand that only used fountain pens would have looked like professional calligraphy were it not for the slight flair in the swirls of the capital letters and the angle of the lowercase loops that marked of his well – signature style.
Greg had smiled at the first letter. He frowned as he read the next letter. I am so sorry. I love you.
Then the next letter, I am a fool. I love you.
And then the next, A thrice damned fool. I love you.
“Oh wow here’s another one!” He pulled out another envelope.
Some were short, only a few words, others filled one side of a sheet, some filled two sheets. Each one was a love letter in that elegant cursive.
None was signed and all ended with I love you.
Greg looked at the boxes in front of him with a start as he realized what he read. He looked at the postage mark on the envelopes. He opened, read, closed and replaced a couple more that confirmed it.
“Myc! Myc look!” Greg called out excitedly to the half-asleep body lounged on the floor next to him.
“What Greg? I can’t believe we’re up here as it is, for Christ’s sake!” Myc groused, “Do we HAVE to sort these out right now?? It’s 6AM.”
“These are the letters from the break.” Greg held an envelope up.
“What? From THE break?” Myc sat up quickly, his interest piqued. “The one they did not like to talk about?
“The same.” Greg handed his fraternal twin brother, Mychael, the first few envelopes. “I always meant to come up here and look for the famous letter Papa wrote that wooed Dad back to London. I had no idea it was plural or this many!”
Many years ago, their fathers Gregory Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes were lovers who separated, because Mycroft kept putting his job before his mate. When Greg could not take it anymore, he took a job offer and moved to New York City.
The two men did not talk much about the time they were estranged, simply referring to it as The Break. Whenever asked what made him come back to London Greg senior would sing-quote my baby just wrote me letter from the old song by The Box Tops and nothing else. Their uncle Sherlock had once commented at a family dinner that it must have been one bloody good letter. Greg Sr. smiled as he neither confirmed nor denied the statement.
Mycroft, in the 20/20 of hindsight and heartbreak, missed Greg immensely when he left. Still, he did not know how to reach out to beg forgiveness, to ask for another chance he knew he did not deserve. All he knew was that he needed to make time for the man he loved and desperately wanted back.
On a rare night while heavy on the scotch, he wrote the only thing that mattered in his heart to Greg. I love you.
In the sobering dawn, he put it in an envelope and sent it anyway.
Very much sober that following night he wrote the next letter and sent it out the next day. I am so sorry. I love you.
Mycroft continued to write a letter every day. He did not call. He did not text. He did not email. He wrote. Every day Mycroft gave time and attention to the man in the form of a hand written letter. The time and attention he had slowly neglected when they were on the same side of The Pond. It took three months and fourteen days before Mycroft received his first unsigned reply of eight words in a familiar boxy cursive that became Greg’s sign off for his subsequent letters.
Every day for the next eighteen months and twenty-one days, daily letters were exchanged. Sometimes the letters came with postmarks from places other than Great Britain, thrice Greg received a large envelope with several letters inside. Mycroft had to go incommunicado. He texted first so Greg would know, but Mycroft still wrote every day and sent the letters out en masse first chance he got.
The daily letters stopped when Mycroft came to New York City and Gregory accepted a new offer he could not refuse as he agreed to become Gregory Lestrade-Holmes and moved back to London. The twins were born through a surrogate three years after they married. The daily letters had stopped, but Greg had saved other letters and mementos shared between the two over the years. All the important things now in the boxes and trunk in the attic.
After the attic was cleared, Gregory Jr. and Mychael invited their cousin, Rosamund Holmes-Watson to Musgrave. She was the only family member left who grew up with and knew their fathers as well as Greg Jr. and Mycheal knew her fathers. The three took turns reading the letters. The letters between the two men were in turns heartbreaking and uplifting as they poured their hearts into their letters and slowly worked things out between them in the beginning and then undeniable love shared between them in the ensuing years. There was a bit of envy in the end as the sons hoped they found even half of what their fathers had someday. When they were done reading the letters, Greg Jr added one last letter to the collection before closing the trunk.
Mycroft Lestrade-Holmes left his beloved Gregory to be one with the universe a little over three years ago. Eleven months later, when Greg Sr. joined him, he was at his desk writing a letter to his late-husband and had just finished with the same words he used with his first reply all those years ago and had closed each letter since:
And God help me, I still love you