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In The Silence Between

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The music is not in the notes,
But in the silence between.
-Mozart

 

1

Finally, finally all the guests had departed, each one tightly clutching a brightly-coloured goodie bag and no doubt hoping that the contents would prove to be worth having to spend two hours in the dubious company of the birthday boy. Not that any of them had actually spent much time at all with Sherlock, beyond a mumbled ‘Happy Birthday’ and the hasty presentation of a gift thrust haphazardly in his direction. After that, they all seemed quite content to rough house on the bouncy castle that was in the shape of a pirate ship and gobble down far too much cake and ice cream without him.

Meanwhile, Sherlock himself spent the time curled up on the settee, reading the book about famous pirates that Mycroft had given him. His big brother was annoying at the best of times, but at least he never underestimated Sherlock’s intelligence. The book was labelled Ages 8-12, but Mycroft did not hesitate to give it to a boy who had just this day turned four.

When the last of the children had gone and the sitting room was returned to its normal tidy state, Grandmama came and sat down beside him. “I have one more gift for you, my love,” she said.

Sherlock closed the book, curious, because his grandmother always gave the best presents. “What is it?” he asked eagerly, before noticing the instrument case she was holding.

She opened the case and took out a small violin, holding it carefully. “This is a Cremona violin,” she said, knowing that he always liked details, “it is 1/16 size, which will suit you very well for now. When you outgrow it, I will give you another. If you want it, of course.” She finally held the instrument out to him and he took it hesitantly. “What do you think?”

He ran his fingertips along the smooth, polished wood, delicately touched the strings, pulled it closer to inhale the scent. “I think it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” he whispered.

She smiled. “Classes with your teacher Mr Long will begin next week, Sherlock, but would you like to have a lesson with me now?”

He nodded eagerly. “Yes, please!”

She was a patient instructor, helping him to master the proper hold. “I know that it feels awkward now, but soon the instrument will begin to feel like a natural extension of your body.”

Sherlock worked to get his left hand into the correct position on the fingerboard, plucking the strings in what Grandmama called a pizzicato.

He took it all in like a thirsty person gulped down water.

Pointing finger: G string
Long finger: D string
Ring finger: A string
Pinkie finger: E string

During the course of that first lesson, he was only vaguely aware of first Mummy and then Mycroft coming to stand briefly in the doorway to watch. Nothing mattered but learning how to pull sounds from the violin.

And the first time he did, although the notes were ragged and very jerky, nothing like music at all, he grinned at his grandmother in unabashed delight.

They had time for three more lessons before Grandmama’s visit ended and she had to return to France. She had seen very quickly that Sherlock had very little patience for playing such silly things as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or Row, Row, Row Your Boat, so she sought out something else that was more challenging. By the end of their last lesson, she knew her choice had been a good one.

So it was then, that on the night before she left, there was a very short concert in the sitting room. The audience consisted of Mummy, Daddy and Mycroft. Sherlock stood in front of them, dressed in his best suit, a serious expression on his face, despite the dab of jam lingering on his upper lip. He bowed once and began to play.

It was far from a perfect performance, but when the last notes of Au Clair De La Lune faded away, his audience applauded.

 

2

It was the first time that Sherlock had agreed to make an appearance at Mr Long’s annual recital.

Every year for the last six, his violin tutor had asked, cajoled, even begged once or twice, but Sherlock would only shake his head and say ‘not until I’m ready.’ Now he was ten and it was time. He felt ready and insisted [to himself] that it had nothing at to do with a vague taunt issued by Mycroft.

So here he was at the hall, wearing a new suit, although without the tie Mr Long had demanded, waiting for his turn on stage. Which seemed to be taking a very long time. Clearly Mr Long had far too many students, most of them mediocre. Like the boy who was even now standing in the corner, clutching his violin as if it were some kind of deadly weapon. Which was an interesting idea that Sherlock filed away to think about later.

After a moment, the boy seemed to realise that Sherlock was staring at him. “What?” he asked abruptly.

His name, Sherlock remembered then, was Daniel. Daniel Something. Not important. “You need to stop assaulting the strings with your bow,” he said pleasantly. “It makes your music sound very rough.”

“Piss off,” Daniel said.

Sherlock just blinked for a moment and then shrugged. “I was only trying to be helpful.”

“Don’t need help from the teacher’s bloody pet.”

“If you say so.”

Daniel took two steps closer. “Don’t you know everybody hates you, Holmes?”

Was there an appropriate response to that question?

If there were, Mr Long appeared before he could come up with it. “Your turn, Daniel,” he said.

The boy gave Sherlock one more dirty look before walking towards the stage. Sherlock could hear the applause for the girl who had finished an adequate rendition of Gavotte. A few moments later Daniel launched into his first piece, which quickly turned into an unprovoked and vicious assault on Danse Macabre.

Sherlock stopped listening, deciding to mentally run through his own pieces again instead.

According to tradition, each student played two selections, one made by Mr Long and one chosen by the student. Two colleagues of Mr Long’s would then decide which student won the Best Performance Prize. Not that Sherlock cared at all for such things, of course, but very few [if any] of the others deserved an award certainly. And if he won that victory might make Mycroft shut up about his recent debating prize.

It made Sherlock feel a bit sad that Grandmama had not been up to making the trip from France to attend the recital. Mummy had promised to record his performance, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Finally, it was his turn. It felt odd to step out on to the stage, under the lights, and lifting his violin in front of so many people. First up was Mr Long’s choice, Bach’s Minuets 1, 2, 3 in G, which Sherlock breezed through confidently. His own choice was Telemann’s Fantasia in B-Flat. It was a bit more of a challenge, which he appreciated and when he finished a nice wave of applause washed over him.

He won the award. Grandmama cried a little during the phone call.

The fallowing week, when he was at his regular lesson, someone used a purple Magic Marker to scrawl ‘Holmes is a fairy’ on the front of his locker.

 

3

Eton was tedious.

That was no surprise, of course. Mycroft had warned him and he had also given him strict instructions on how to survive at school. That advice was, basically, to lie and fawn when necessary. Exert quiet power behind the scenes. Become a politician. That worked brilliantly for his brother, who would probably one day rule the country.

But it was never going to work for Sherlock.

Only two things kept him from stuffing everything that mattered into his knapsack and just disappearing one dark night.

His Sunday and Monday evenings were probably the main reason he stayed. That was when eighty of the best musicians at the school gathered for rehearsals of the Eton Symphony Orchestra. They were preparing for the end of term school concert, with Sherlock now serving as concert master.

The second thing that kept him at Eton were Wednesday and Friday afternoons when he was in the chemistry laboratory. His love of chemistry had come as something of a surprise to him, although in retrospect it made sense. Both disciplines relied on patterns and creativity. Fine motor skills. And there were examples of men who had mastered both fields, like Elgar and Borodin.

If only he could have spent all of the time with his violin and his experiments, Sherlock thought that he might manage something that was enough like happiness to satisfy him while he was here. Of course, that would probably also require some alien species to hover their spaceship over Eton and incinerate the rest of the student body. If perhaps he had harboured some small hope that things would be different at a new school such optimism had vanished very quickly.

It should have been expected that several others from his grammar school had also turned up at Eton and that they were keen to spread tales about Freaky Holmes. He already knew that adolescent boys in groups were like a herd of restless predators and all it took was for one in the group to show weakness for the blood lust to rise.

 

It was a sad misfortune that his greatest weakness was simply being Sherlock Holmes.

*

The night of the concert Sherlock refused to join his parents for dinner, claiming that he wanted to rehearse a bit more. Which was ridiculous, of course, because he was perfectly prepared. He just wasn’t hungry. Also, maybe he was just a tad bit nervous and just wanted some time alone. Anyway, they would enjoy their meal with Mycroft, who had unexpectedly turned up as well.

Sherlock dressed carefully and added just enough product to his curls to perhaps suggest a fleeting suggestion of Paganini before packing up and leaving for the hall. It was still early, but he preferred to avoid the other orchestra members until absolutely necessary. For the most part, they practised avoidance rather than confrontation, because McMaster, the music director, was strict about bullying, but several members had more subtle ways of attacking.

Sometimes he thought that playing alone in his room would suit him better than being a member of an orchestra, but the chance to stand on the stage as concertmaster was something he could not pass up. It was for Grandmama, who always said he could achieve such a position. Tonight he would fulfil her dream.

Once at the hall, he took refuge in an empty rehearsal room and thought about his mould experiment that needed to be finished before he headed home for the summer break.

Finally, it was time to pick up his violin and stand in the wings as the rest of the orchestra filed on stage and took their seats. At last, he walked out, gave a perfunctory half-bow in response to the muted applause and turned to tune the musicians.

*

He played two solos.

Canzonetta from the Violin Concerto in D Major Op by Tchaikovsky and Rigaudon by Heifetz

The applause was not muted at all when he finished both pieces. Again, he acknowledged the reaction briefly and returned to his chair for the remainder of the concert.

It was a surprise to find Mycroft waiting for him in the rehearsal room when he returned there to collect his things. In one hand his brother held a sheet of A-4 paper that Sherlock knew from experience would have been cello-taped to his violin case. Neither of them mentioned it. “Mummy and Daddy want to see you,” Mycroft said. “They thought perhaps we might go for ice cream.”

“Am I seven?” Sherlock asked with much less venom than his brother was probably expecting.

“They are proud of you.” Mycroft paused and then cleared his throat. “As I am, you know.”

“Oh, my god, Mycroft, whatever the idiots wrote on that paper hardly justifies a descent into sentimentality.”

Mycroft moved, as if to put the paper into his pocket, but suddenly Sherlock snatched it away and read it. “Freak, faggot, psychopath,” he recited. “The limits of their collective imagination never fails to astound me.”

Before Mycroft could reply, Mr McMaster stuck his head into the room. “Brilliant, Holmes,” he said. “We are very excited to see what heights the orchestra can reach next term with you as concertmaster again.”

Had he been so inclined, Mycroft could have told the man to take no comfort in the smile Sherlock aimed at him. Apparently his brother was not so inclined.

“Oh,” Sherlock said cheerfully, “I shan’t be joining the orchestra next term. My public performances are finished.”

Mr McMaster looked dumfounded.

Sherlock swept up his violin case and coat and started for the door. “You must excuse me for dashing off, but I am going for ice cream.”

Mycroft merely shrugged at McMaster and followed his brother out.

 

4

Experiments sometimes failed.

He knew that very well. Actually, it might even be said that most experiments failed. His own scientific enquiries had certainly lead to some…unfortunate results over time. For example, when one adds the wrong reactant to the reflux in reaction mixture. Or tried something…unorthodox with an alcohol gun. And the less said about his dabbling with liquid bromine the better.

So, Sherlock supposed, this newest disaster should have come as no surprise.

Just another bad chemical reaction. A careless choice. Trying to combine two elements that were never meant to go together.

Like, most obviously, Sherlock Holmes and any other human being.

*

The beginning was quite ridiculous.

Sherlock was just walking through the Backs along the Cam, having decided to skip his lecture, which was economics and unbearably boring. Something that Mycroft would no doubt love. Instead of listening to Mr Dalton drone on about Keynes, Sherlock was mentally playing his way through one of Paganini’s Caprices. It was a constant frustration that the pieces, with their many double-stops, left-handed pizzicato and endless spiccato, defied his every attempt to actually conquer them. Since the violin had become his primary way of calming a tumultuous mind, he took the failure very much to heart.

He was so totally distracted by the music in his head that he did not even really notice the small dog barrelling its way towards him or the panicked voice calling after it. At least, he did not notice any of it until the beast attached itself to his ankle.

Just before the pain hit, his thought was My Redbeard never behaved so badly.

Finally the [apparent] owner appeared, sweating and breathing heavily. “Oh, damn,” he said.

Sherlock shot him a pointed glare and then looked down to where the terrier was still attached to his ankle.

That was how he met Victor Trevor.

Oddly, the encounter did not end with the necessary trip to the clinic, where a nurse cleaned and bandaged Sherlock’s ankle. Instead, afterwards, they walked to the Nero’s in the Grand Arcade where Trevor bought them coffee. The dog, ridiculously named Oscar, was now content to curl up at their feet.

So began the Experiment in Friendship.

The rest of that term was much different from what Sherlock had known before. Victor was a contradiction. When with the rowing crew, he was a stereotypical uni jock, rowdy and keen to join pub nights to meet girls. But when it was just the two of them, sitting in their rooms debating whatever topic caught their interest or exploring the paths of Cambridge, he was different. Thoughtful and not dismissive of Sherlock’s peculiarities. Even a bit fond of them, apparently.

When, as the summer break approached, Victor invited him to visit his family’s home in Cornwall, after he’d spent time with his own parents. Sherlock accepted eagerly. And for almost the whole week, it all went splendidly. They walked and cycled, played chess and read sitting beside the pond, before stripping to their pants and having a swim.

It was on the Saturday before they were due to return to Cambridge for the start of Michaelmas term that Mr Trevor finally returned from his business trip and joined them for dinner. Victor seemed delighted to tell his father about how brilliantly Sherlock could ‘read’ people and the older man jovially urged him to do so.

It began well, but then, as always, Sherlock got carried away by his own enthusiasm. The two glasses of wine he’d had probably did not help.

“…and while your secretary was initially very loyal to your company, after your one-night stand with her following the office Christmas party, she threatened to reveal what she knew about the stock manipulations, so you began to give her money…”

Very belatedly, he became aware of the silence in the room. Of the three pairs of eyes staring at him in horror: Victor, Mr Trevor, Mrs Trevor.

Sherlock shut up, much too late, of course. After another moment, he stood. “I apologise,” he whispered before fleeing the room.

He packed his bag and just sat there in the guest room until dawn, trying to ignore the raised voices drifting over from the other wing of the large house. As soon as the sky began to lighten, he crept out of the house and walked to the train station.

It was two days later when the gossip mill at the university spread the word that Victor Trevor would not be returning to Cambridge because his father had died. Rumour soon went further to say that Mr Trevor had, in fact, shot himself.

Sherlock stayed in his room for two days.

He played Mozart’s Requiem for eight straight hours, until the housemaster threatened to send for security.

 

5

He stood at the window and stared down at Montague Street.

Or, more precisely, at the would-be client who had paused at the front door to read the note Sherlock had affixed with a drawing pin.

To Whom It May Concern: Sherlock Holmes is currently engaged on a case of great importance and therefore is not taking on any new clients at the moment.

The man stood there and read the note two more times. Why? Was the message not perfectly clear?

Only after the grossly overweight man in the ill-fitting cheap suit had turned and walked away did Sherlock leave the window and drop back onto the old, extremely uncomfortable horsehair sofa. It occurred to him that he really needed to court a higher quality of client.

It was his brother’s voice which responded to that, although as far as he knew Mycroft was still in Johannesburg. Sadly, distance never seemed to quell the other man’s need to interfere. Oh, yes, Sherlock, a higher quality of client will certainly be interested in visiting this hellhole and confiding their deepest secrets to a mumbling drug addict craving his next fix.

His brother was a bastard.

Speaking of his next fix…

Wiggins’ delivery boy should have been here by now. Honestly, customer service was a dying art. Unable to sit still, Sherlock jumped to his feet again and simply paced an oval in the middle of the room, until finally, finally, he heard footsteps in the corridor. Before there was even a knock, he flung the door open. “About time,” he snarled, before handing over a wad of bills, grabbing the baggie and then slamming the door again.

Oddly, once he had what he needed in hand, Sherlock procrastinated a bit. He made a cup of tea and then drank it, once again standing by the window, watching the traffic. It all felt so distant from his life. The world seemed quite content to go on without his genius. Idiots. One day they would acknowledge him. That Scotland Yard sergeant was beginning to understand what Sherlock could do for him. If given the chance.

“Not if you’re a fucking druggie,” Lestrade had said the last time Sherlock turned up at a crime scene. “Come back when you’re clean or I might be tempted to throw you in a cell.”

Sherlock sighed and got down to business, because that was the only way to handle the tumult that roiled his brain. The first rush of euphoria gave him a bolt of energy, so he reached for his violin.

He only tried to play Schoenberg’s Concerto when he was high, because the atonal piece was almost impossible to succeed at and also it made his fingers bleed. That pain was a sign of life. He played until all he could do was stagger to the sofa and collapse into sleep.

*

It was nearly dawn when he woke up. His bloody fingers still hurt and his mouth tasted as if he’d been sucking on dirty socks. Somewhere outside, a dog began to howl. He was used to hearing dogs barking in the neighbourhood, but the sad howling was something very different. It made him feel unbearably sad and, without warning, tears were rolling down his face.

Before deciding to actually do so, Sherlock reached for his phone, wondering what time it was in Johannesburg.

“Hello, brother mine,” Mycroft said. “This is unexpected. You seldom like to chat over breakfast.”

Sherlock closed eyes and dropped his head back against the lumpy cushion. The dog was still howling. “I need help,” he whispered.

There was a pause before Mycroft spoke briskly, which was the only tone that Sherlock could have borne at the moment. “I will be back tomorrow,” he said. “Try not to be any stupider than you must before then.”

Instead of responding, Sherlock just ended the call.

Outside on Montague Street, the dog stopped howling.

 

6

He wondered if Elgar or Borodin had ever attempted to mingle music and chemistry. Used the structure or the rules of one to enhance the other. But that sounded a bit like an experiment and Sherlock wasn’t sure that he wanted this to be an Experiment.

Especially considering the way his last inquiry into something like this had ended.

But this was much different.

At least, he hoped it was, although it was early days yet.

The big difference was John Watson. He was unique.

A soldier. A doctor. A man with an unerring aim. A quiet man who, when provoked, could explode into anger that could edge towards violence on occasion. He read dreadful books and watched worse television. He was willing to run like a madman through the streets of London just because Sherlock asked [or, actually] ordered him to.

And he called Sherlock Holmes amazing and brilliant and even when, instead of those things, he called him a massive dick, it seemed to be uttered with some fondness.

John Watson was also a man who had dreadful nightmares.

The first few times it happened, Sherlock was at a total loss as to what he should do. A proud man like John Watson would hardly want to be seen in such a situation. But at the same time, it did not seem right to just ignore the sounds coming from the upstairs bedroom. The tortured moans. The whimpers. The banging of a fist against the wall.

It had taken an embarrassingly long time for Sherlock to have an idea about how to help, although once he did, it seemed painfully obvious. He picked up his violin and briefly thought about what to play. Something Grandmama had once said came back to him.

“The most comforting and peaceful music ever composed, my lovely boy, is Venus The Bringer of Peace. Its exquisite tranquillity has the power to soothe my soul.”

Sherlock was not concerned at all by the matter of souls, but if there was anyone who deserved exquisite tranquillity, it was John Watson. So on nightmare nights, it was always the Holst that he played.

Sometimes when he played, it would just go quiet upstairs and he assumed that John had fallen back to sleep. Other nights John would get out of bed and pad barefooted into the sitting room, curl up in his chair and just listen to the music.

They never talked about it.

Sherlock liked to think that they didn’t need words. That the music was enough.

He liked to think that John understood what he was saying.

 

7

“How nice of you to ring, brother mine. At long last.”

“Oh, I do apologise. Kidnappers are so tedious about letting their captives use a phone.”

There was a pause.

“I assume the situation has been satisfactorily resolved now,” Mycroft said finally.

“Depends on how satisfactory one finds several cracked ribs and a veritable multitude of cigarette burns, I suppose.”

Again, Mycroft did not speak immediately.

“Oh, don’t fuss, Mycroft.” Sherlock said. “I’m fine.”

And they both knew that was a lie, but they let it pass.

“I assume Moscow is your next destination?”

“Hmmm…yes, and I am sure it will be delightful.” Sherlock rubbed absently at a half-healed scar on his arm.

“Is there anything you need from me?”

“No.” Now it was Sherlock who paused. “How is everyone?”

“Mummy and Daddy are fine. Worried about you, of course. I tell them you’re fine.”

Sherlock sighed.

“He’s fine. Working. Socialising.” Mycroft did not elaborate and Sherlock did not ask him to.

Now his brother became brusque. “After this call I will text you the account number and bank where your funds will be waiting under the usual name.”

“Thank you.” Sometimes his proper upbringing prevailed.

Mycroft forgot to muffle his sigh. “This will be over one day, Sherlock. You will come home.”

“If you say so. Goodbye.”

Sherlock waited a few moments until the promised text arrived, noted the information and then proceeded to dismantle the burner phone and piece by piece flushed it down the already dodgy toilet.

His train did not leave until the morning, but he had no desire to retreat to the lumpy bed and try to sleep.

Working.

Socialising.

It was clear what Mycroft had been saying. Or trying not to say.

And then: You will come home.

But what if home were not there anymore?

He used both hands to ruffle his hair, although at the moment it was too short for a proper ruffle. He decided to let it grow again, so that when he returned to London he would look more like himself. Then everything could go back to what it had been. The two of them against the world.

The silence in the room was deafening.

If he’d had his violin, Sherlock would have played, although his ribs and other injuries would have made it painful. But the movements were so well-known to him, so engrained in his core, that he could imagine how it would be to hold the instrument and make music.

He stood in front of the window and lifted his arms, seeming able to inhale the scent of the rosin and feel the smooth spruce beneath his fingers. After months without playing, his calluses were practically gone. There was only one piece he wanted to play and he began to move as if the violin were actually there in his hands.

The silence of the room vanished, replaced by the notes of Mahler’s I’ve Become Lost to the World and the familiar lyrics from Ruckert’s poem seemed to float in the air around him.

It is of no consequence to me
whether the world thinks me dead;
I cannot deny it, for I really am dead
To the world.

Mummy loved this piece and once told him that listening to it was like listening to the sound of a heart breaking. At that time, as a constantly tetchy teenager, he had not understood her words. Or even cared about them

Now he understood them all too well.

And the caring hurt.

 

8

He was all the way back to Baker Street, up the stairs and into his flat before he realised that he had left his violin at the reception.

The whole house was dark and quiet, which meant that Mrs Hudson was no doubt still dancing and drinking far too much champagne. Her absence was preferable, because, had she been here, her fussing would have driven him mad. Sherlock didn’t even turn on a light, but instead went to stand by the window so that he could look out on Baker Street. For so long he had yearned to stand here again and watch his city, but now it had become a lonely landscape. And he felt like a stranger here.

Who left a wedding early…?

Probably the man whose departure would go unremarked upon. Unnoticed. Even if he had planned the occasion. Had given the best man speech. Had solved a murder and helped prevent another. Had composed and performed a waltz for the happy couple.

Had jumped off a building and suffered exile and torture to save the groom’s life.

Not enough, apparently.

Never enough.

Finally, he tugged off the scarf, slipped out of the coat, toed off his shoes and left it all in a pile on the floor.

What if someone stole his violin?

What if he never got it back?

What if someone broke his heart? And no one noticed?

After a moment, Sherlock took out his phone and scrolled through his music library. There, the wedding waltz was named John’s Song.

He touched Play and music filled the room.

Sherlock began to dance, his socks gliding over the floor smoothly. His invisible partner moved in perfect synchronization. Once, twice, three times the song played and the dance went on. Finally he stopped, but let the music play on while he went to the bedroom to change from his wedding suit into other battle dress. Tattered trousers, ratty trainers, an old tee shirt that John had tossed out years ago. And finally his faithful hoodie.

At last, he turned off the music, tucked his phone away safely and clattered down the stairs.

For me, there still remains the cocaine bottle.

 

9

He opened the door very quietly, hoping that Mrs Hudson was still sleeping off her riotous night at the wedding reception. But, unsurprisingly, luck was not with him, because as soon as he stepped into the foyer, the door to her flat opened and there she was. Looking not nearly as bad as a woman her age should after so much drinking and dancing. Perhaps her scandalous past gave her an advantage.

She took in his appearance with one scathing look. “Oh, Sherlock,” she said.

He really did not feel up to sparring with her this morning, so he slid one foot towards the stairs. All he really wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep and then…well, there was no real plan for And Then. But it would be all right. He just barely restrained himself from patting the pocket which held the baggie.

Mrs Hudson was still looking at him. “This will not help, you know, dear. And everyone will be so upset.”

“Will everyone?” he replied tartly. He moved another step towards the stairs.

“I do understand.”

“Excellent. That makes one of us, then.”

She sighed. “John is still your friend.”

“Best friend, apparently.”

The woman was persistent, he gave her that.

“He was so unhappy that you left without saying anything.” She frowned. “I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think Mary was as unhappy as she pretended to be.”

Hudders was a wise old bird, but it would probably be better not to say that out loud. He was almost at the stairs.

“Wait a minute, young man. I did not come out here just to exchange pleasantries with my high tenant.”

“Not high,” he muttered. Not at the moment.

She only gave a sceptical hum, then reached back into her flat. And pulled out his violin case. “John dropped this by very early as they were on their way to the airport. He didn’t want to trust it to anyone else.”

He stepped closer and took it from her, clutching it to his chest.

“John will be back,” she said too kindly.

Don’t be stupid he wanted to snap at her. But, again, he restrained himself. “Going to sleep,” was all he mumbled, finally starting up the stairs.

“I’ll bring you some tea and a sandwich later.”

That did not warrant any response.

Once safely within his flat, Sherlock did not actually go to bed. Instead, he stretched out on the sofa, still holding the violin.

Not playing. Just holding.

Just holding on.

 

10

The room was dark and quiet now, lit only by the fragile flame of the dying fire, and he was alone.

He should have gone to bed an hour ago, but an unexpected restlessness had kept him up, working lackadaisically with the microscope and some soil samples. There was no point to it, really and finally he just stopped. It was after midnight and not the best time to pick up his violin. But needs must.

He removed the instrument from its case and for no reason at all suddenly thought of the tiny violin Grandmama had given him fifty-six years ago. That moment had shaped so much of his life, shaped him. Music had been his language when words had failed as they so often did.

Tonight only one piece came to mind and he lifted the violin and began to play Gymnopedie No.1 by Satie, the perfect music with which to calm and relax even his unsettled mind. Keeping the sound soft and dream-like, he began to move towards the bedroom. Once there, he paused by the window to finish, watching as the silent snow fell on the garden, starting to cover the hives.

When the last notes trailed off into silence, Sherlock set the violin carefully on the chair. He slipped out of his dressing gown and into the bed.

John, not really awake, turned and wrapped himself around Sherlock. “That was pretty,” he said in a sleep-fogged voice.

Sherlock only smiled in response and placed a kiss on John’s forehead. His husband was already asleep again, but Sherlock was content to simply hold him and let the music of John’s soft breaths lull him into rest..

 

Music expresses that which cannot
be said and on which it is impossible
to be silent.
-Hugo, V.

-fini-