The three Holmeses were having tea in the Winter Garden restaurant of the very prestigious Landmark Hotel. The location had been Victoria Holmes’ idea; she had chosen it for its proximity to Baker Street because she knew her youngest son well enough to realise he would have found an excuse not to come if he had been summoned to the family’s estate. Mycroft had something extremely important to discuss with them, something that would apparently affect the whole family, and he had told his mother how crucial it was for her and Sherlock to be there.
Victoria looked at her two sons and smiled as something close to affection fluttered in her heart. Mycroft, as elegant as ever, seemed nervous, and from the way his mouth twisted, Victoria could tell he was fighting the urge to go back to his childhood habit of chewing on his lower lip. Meanwhile, Sherlock was looking everywhere except at his brother, his fingers drumming on the table while his teacup remained untouched in front of him.
“Well go on then, tell us what we’re doing here,” Victoria said to Mycroft, shaking him out of his deliberation.
Mycroft put his teacup on the table, leaned against the back of his chair, and crossed one very long leg over the other. He paused for a moment, remembering the speech he had prepared for the occasion, and when he felt he had made a dramatic enough effect, he started talking.
“I am now forty-one years old,” he began, ignoring Sherlock’s snort, “and I feel that, career wise, I have accomplished the goals I had set for myself. The position I am in is comfortable, stimulating, empowering, and let’s be honest, extremely lucrative.”
Victoria nodded, and Sherlock continued to look away, his features showing every sign of irritated boredom. The expression was so convincing, Victoria wouldn’t have been surprised to learn he had studied the look in a psychology textbook. When Sherlock rolled his eyes, Mycroft obviously spotted it, but he ignored him in favour of continuing his speech.
“I am now ready for something new in my life—”
“Is this about a new diet, Mycroft?” Sherlock taunted, “Because if it is, I don’t think it was worth disturbing my work.”
Victoria glared at her youngest son, and he fell silent again, but not without expressing his dissatisfaction with a huffing sound. She knew him well enough to know that in exactly 4, 3, 2, 1… and there it was; Sherlock let his head fall back in a way that would be painful decades from now once the years had caught up with him.
“What I’m trying to say is that I feel it is time for me to get married,” Mycroft concluded before picking up his teacup and taking a sip.
Immediately, Victoria’s face lit up with a radiant smile, and her eyes scintillated with joy. She had waited many years for this moment to come, ever since her son, a teenager at the time, had told her that although he wished to find someone to spend his life with, he wished that other person to be a man, and he wanted to wait until he had accomplished his career goals. Mrs Holmes had been disappointed, not by her son’s choice of a same-sex partner, but by the fact that she wouldn’t get to plan a wedding since, at the time, it hadn’t been legal. However, she was glad that Mycroft had decided to follow the tradition and rely on her to find him the perfect life partner.
The Holmeses were one of the old, wealthy families who still valued arranged marriages. Mrs Holmes’ marriage had been arranged by her husband’s mother, whose marriage had also been arranged, and so forth. It was only logical to let the experienced parents choose their children’s partners; the decision was then made based on sound principles and pragmatic criteria, and not clouded by fickle emotions or worse, hormones. The Holmeses didn’t believe in love at first sight; they had seen many proofs that a deep understanding coming from a sensible companionship was a more stable foundation for a relationship than love. The extremely low divorce rate in the family confirmed that belief year after year. Still, once every few generations, there was a rebellious Holmes who decided to get married after experiencing the alleged love at first sight; Mrs Holmes had been relieved as well as happy that Mycroft didn’t plan on being one of the renegades, so she didn’t mind the wait much.
However, passively waiting was not something the Holmeses were adept at. She knew that, statistically, it would be harder to find a male partner for her son than it would have been to find a female one; therefore she had begun her research while Mycroft had been in his early twenties and had just started climbing the government ladder. She had asked around her circle of friends, had had personal files of potential suitors sent from agencies that advertised they could help devoted parents arrange their children’s wedding, and had even visited an extremely exclusive club frequented by homosexual aristocrats, all without success.
Years had passed, and Mrs Holmes had continued keeping an eye open for potential partners. Her enthusiasm had been substantially fuelled when the Civil Partnership Act had been induced, and she could now imagine how beautiful the ceremony would be, with Mycroft standing next to the man she would choose for him. However, every potential candidate had been a disappointment, and she had eventually started cursing her own generation for raising Mycroft’s; the pompous, arrogant gits she had been meeting had had nothing in common with the gentleman her husband had been, and she was determined to find someone just as suitable for Mycroft. When it had become clear that she wouldn't find someone at the top of the social hierarchy, she had turned her attention to the Internet and the dating websites that were supposed to be all the rage.
It was an easy and comfortable way to look for a potential husband; she could do it at home, include very specific search criteria, and the pictures helped eliminate those she knew her son wouldn’t find attractive. Since Mycroft wasn’t ready to settle down with a partner just yet, she devoted only a few hours per month to the search, but by the time Mycroft was thirty-five, she had developed a method.
She limited her search to men who were five years younger or older than Mycroft, who had an adequate career, were non-smokers, whose political views didn’t disagree with Mycroft’s, who weren’t vegetarians, didn’t have children, and spoke English as a first language. Among the years, she had bookmarked a handful of profiles that she occasionally checked to see whether they had been updated or deleted. There were three that she found particularly promising: the first one belonged to a red-headed accountant, the second one looked handsome enough to be a model, but was working in an engineering firm, and the last one – the one she found the most intriguing – belonged to a military doctor with kind blue eyes and a shy smile. John Watson seemed to be everything she was looking for, but he hadn’t logged on to the dating website since his profile had been created.
When the three Holmeses left the Landmark Hotel later that afternoon, Victoria knew the time had come to contact the three potential suitors. The endeavour would most likely take most of her time from now on, and she inwardly thanked the Lord that, for now, Sherlock wasn’t interested in women or men unless they had been brutally murdered. Arranging one wedding would be tiring enough; she couldn’t imagine having to organise two simultaneously. Much planning was indeed involved; she wanted Mycroft to be satisfied with her choice and for the resulting wedding to be perfect.