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So This Is Christmas

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Rosie was fine the first three times she fell off the tiny toddler slide as she attempted to climb up it the wrong way, but after the fourth time, she started to cry and Sherlock knew it was time to go home.

He stood up from the bench he'd been sitting on and slipped his phone into his coat pocket. He'd been focused entirely on her since they'd arrived at the park—the phone was simply a decoy to prevent other parents from trying to talk to him while she played. Though there hadn't been very many other families around this afternoon, not with the temperature as low as it was today. At least the rain had held off so far. He wouldn't have taken her out at all, but she'd refused to nap and he knew that the best way to tire her out was to let her run off her excess energy outdoors.

He reached the play area in three long strides and squatted down next to her to help her back onto her feet. "Up we go, Rosie. You're okay."

"No! Sh'wock!" She got her feet underneath her and then thrust her hands toward him, the mittens that were attached to her coat sleeves swaying with the motion. "Cold hands!" she bawled.

"I'm sure they are." He took hold of one of the mittens, but she pulled her arm away before he could wrestle it onto her hand.

"No! Cold hands!" she repeated.

Sherlock sighed. The mittens had been attached to the coat for nearly two months now, but he'd not yet seen them on her hands. "All right. Give me your hands." He peeled off his own gloves, and she grudgingly let him take both her hands in his so he could rub some warmth back into them. "Is that better?" he asked, tipping his head down toward her, eyebrows raised in the same expression he used when humoring her father.

"No! Cold!" She pulled her hands away and crossed her arms. Her glare was also very much like John's.

"Oh, you're cold? Why didn't you say so?" He reached for her hands again, coaxing them away from her chest, then brought them to his mouth to blow a long raspberry against them.

"Sh'wock!" Rosie said, and didn't laugh, but he knew he had her. He did it again and she began to giggle.

She still wouldn't let him put the mittens on, but didn't object when he pulled her hat from his coat pocket and worked it on over her curls, so he knew she really was cold. He put his own gloves back on. "I think we need to go home and let you thaw out in front of the fireplace before you turn into an ice lolly."

She giggled again and allowed herself to be scooped up into his arms. "No ice owwie," she told him, and wiped her face twice across his scarf before settling her head against his shoulder.

Sherlock frowned and debated if it was worth trying to reach into his trouser pocket for his handkerchief. Probably not. "I hope you're not getting sick like your Daddy." John had brought home a cold virus from work, and while he'd tried to deny it for a few days, he'd spent the whole night last night coughing and sneezing. It had almost been enough to drive Sherlock out of their bed. Eventually they'd both fallen asleep, but Sherlock knew John hadn't gotten much rest. That was part of the reason he'd taken Rosie out to the park—to give him a chance to catch up on sleep while the flat was quiet.

"Daddy sick," Rosie said sadly, and Sherlock marveled at how quickly she could switch between being a completely self-centered almost-two-year-old and a tiny person capable of great compassion.

"Let's go home and see Daddy." He shifted his hold on her and felt a few raindrops beginning to fall. Perfect timing.

"Wain!" announced Rosie, lifting her head from Sherlock's shoulder. "Go home!" She brought both her hands down in little fists to pound on his chest and arm.

"Yes, yes. Going home. No hitting." He began to walk along the path toward Baker Street. They passed a few dog walkers who were huddled inside their coats, waiting for their dogs to do their business, but for the most part the path was deserted. He took advantage of the situation to press his lips into Rosie's hair as she rested her head against him again. He had his reputation to protect, but he also wanted her to know what he felt when he held her.

"Whas dat?" Rosie's head popped up from his shoulder—so much for his hope that she would fall asleep in his arms.

"Hmm?" Sherlock paused and looked around, wondering what could have caught her attention on such a dreary afternoon.

"Dat! No wain!" She pointed her finger into the air, and Sherlock realized what she meant. The light rain had turned over to snow, and for a few seconds a flurry of large, wet flakes surrounded them.

"Those are snowflakes, Rosie. It's snowing." He moved her so that he was holding her on his hip with one arm and held his other hand out flat, allowing a few flakes to land on his glove.

"Snowfakes!" Rosie yelled. "Snowfakes! Cold!"

"Yes, they are cold. Let's get home quickly." He dropped his hand, wiping it on his coat, and put both his arms around her again so he could walk faster.

"Snowfakes!" Rosie shouted again. "Where dey go?"

He thought she meant the ones that had been on his hand, and tried to distill the process of melting into words she would understand, but then he saw that the precipitation in the air had changed back almost entirely to rain again, in the space of just a few seconds. Winter in London. "They'll be back, Rosie. Another day. We'll have snowflakes again, I promise."

"Yay!" She clapped her hands together and then threw her arms around his neck.

He let her snuggle closer, not minding if she wiped her nose on his scarf this time. He resisted the urge to speed up his pace, letting himself enjoy the experience of holding her as they walked through the rain. Maybe it would change to snow again, and he would see her excitement once more, but if it not, he could wait. They had all winter to spend together, and many more years yet to come.