Louis observed people just enough to remember their features if by some reason they turned out to be a target or someone they had to watch out for. He supposed that any ordinary Londoner would have more important things to do than study the physical appearance of strangers that they surely would not recognize or see again for the remainder of their lives. It is because of this assumption that he was so surprised when Dr. Watson wrote to him, to invite him to have tea together at a coffee house in the middle of a busy London street.
He had only met the man twice that he remembered, the first time was on the train to London, although at that moment he had not paid him much attention as he was busier watching Holmes. The second and until then last time he saw the doctor was in the cemetery, both of them there for the same reason: the 1st anniversary of the death of the Great Detective and the Lord of Crime. At that time they did not speak to each other, they simply exchanged glances and each went their own way, after all, they were just strangers.
At 4 in the afternoon, he found himself in front of the establishment. The little coffee house seemed quaint to him, perhaps too colorful for his liking, but it's not something he was going to say out loud. Watson ordered a vanilla tea, Louis himself preferred green tea, the doctor also ordered a dish with biscuits. Silence fell between them, Louis took advantage of it to take a closer look at the man in front of him. He seemed to be doing fine, the last thing he had heard from the doctor was that he had married, Louis did not see himself doing such a thing, but he remembers thinking that the domestic life suited Watson. He always had that family man aura, after all.
He was carrying a bag, its contents unknown. He also carried a bouquet of flowers with him, pink carnations to be more exact, they were not the type of flowers one gave to their wife, no, they were the type of flowers you brought to those who were no longer with you. So, he was going to visit his old friend.
The doctor opened his mouth and as quickly as he performed the action, he closed it again. Louis thought about speaking first, but he never liked being the one to start the conversations, so he kept quiet and decided to wait for Watson to find the necessary words.
Finally, he started.
"It's been a long time, Mr. Moriarty."
"Only Louis is fine" he said, he never felt that last name as his, besides, it definitely fit William better.
"I see, Louis, then please call me John." Watson, no, John smiled.
"How have you been?"
Louis did not understand the reason for this, he would prefer for the man to just get straight to the point and avoid the courtesies. This, as well as his opinion of the establishment where they were, he did not say either.
"Good, how have you been?" he replied, it was the least he could do.
"Wonderful, my wife and I bought a house not far from here."
Silence was made present again, the waiter chose that precise moment to bring them the tea and the dish. Louis noticed how the doctor took one of the biscuits, taking a small bite and drinking some tea shortly after. He did not touch them himself; he was not very fond of sweets.
"You must be wondering why I called you here" At last, the man thought, he was already getting impatient.
"I wanted to be able to talk to you, if only once." He raised the cup to his lips and took a small sip.
"As you probably already knew, I am 'Arthur Conan Doyle', the writer." Of course, he knew, William had figured it out, and Mycroft gave him absolute confirmation.
"I was aware, yes" was what he replied.
John smiled at him, a dazzling smile without a hint of malice.
"Of course," he took another sip of tea before continuing and Louis noticed that he himself had not even touched his, imitating the action of the doctor, he took his cup and drank. The bitterness of the concoction might have been unpleasant to others, but it comforted him in a strange way.
"Well, there's a book I've been working on for a long time now, and I wanted to give it to you."
Louis raised an eyebrow in confusion upon hearing this. Give it to him?
John took his silence as an invitation to continue.
"You see, this is not a book that I can publish ... I actually wrote it for myself, but I thought you might want a copy"
After saying this he took out a manuscript from the bag. He handed him the sheaf of papers and Louis's eyes widened at the title, typewritten in plain black letters.
-The Real Final Problem, by John Watson- announced the first page.
The fact that he had signed with his real name told Louis everything he needed to know, yet he looked John in the eye and found himself stammering inadvertently.
"T-This is ..."
"That's right" was what the man said. He leaned further in his seat and Louis followed suit.
“I know ... I'm not the best suited to tell this story, but I don't think I can continue living in peace without having written what actually happened that day," he spoke in whispers, so that only Louis could hear him.
"Obviously, I can't make it public, but ... I wanted you to have it, so that at least someone else had in their hands the true story and not the farce that I wrote to keep the secret safe."
Louis didn't know what to do, or rather, there was too much he wanted to do. He wanted to laugh, cry, curse at him for making him remember that day, thank him.
"I'll ... keep it" was what came from his lips.
The doctor breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank you" with a big sip, he finished what was left of his tea. Louis drank his too, suddenly realizing he was parched.
"There's something else I wanted to ask of you," John pronounced. "Only if you agree, of course"
Louis simply nodded.
There were not many people in the cemetery that day. He was grateful for it, even to this day there were people who recognized him, or rather, who recognized whose brother he was. He remembered the screams and accusations that he received the first months, there were people who even threw stones at him, it was to be expected.
He walked along with the doctor to a particular headstone. There were several flowers decorating it, surely from admirers. John crouched in front of it to pray, Louis didn't want to interrupt him.
After a few moments he put the bouquet down, and the boy noticed then that it was not just one, but two identical bouquets. He also noticed that in each bouquet there was a single white carnation.
"You know, he loved him," John began, drawing Louis's attention.
“He told me that he wanted to save him because he was his dear friend… but I think there was something more than that. I knew Sherlock well; I saw it in his eyes. "
When he fixed his gaze on him, Louis did not feign ignorance, he himself had seen something similar in his brother, there was a reason he had asked the detective for his help. Still, that didn't make it harder to hear that the feelings had been reciprocated.
"It was mutual" he decided to say. He caught a small hint of sadness in John's eyes.
The doctor urged him to come closer. Louis obeyed.
He guided him to bend over with him and gave him the other bouquet.
"I know you visit this grave often as your brother was never granted one." He said, and Louis didn't say anything. He didn't need to because his eyes said it all. Of course, he had been acting as if Holmes's resting place was his own brother's. All because the English people considered it an offense to give one to William, forever remembered as the greatest evil to struck England. Was that selfish of him? Of course, it was, and he felt guilty every time he remembered it.
John noticed that he was not saying anything and decided to continue.
"Me too ... I too will remember this place as a monument for the both of them so ... you don't have to feel guilty, we can share the secret, is that okay?" Louis felt tears fall from his eyes. He also felt John's arm go around his shoulder and hug him as best he could in from the position they were in. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the doctor's eyes were crystallized, the threat of tears present. He also started crying.
They were like this for a few minutes, crying and hugging, united by the brotherly love they felt for two men whose bodies did not even lie underground under their feet.
After a while, having calmed down a bit, Louis placed the second bouquet next to the first, the meaning of this understood only for both men.
Later, when he had already said goodbye to John with a promise to keep in touch, he found himself in the train compartment, reading the manuscript that the man had given him. As he did this, he began to think about the meaning that he had earlier assigned to the flowers.
The pink carnations represent the memory of the deceased, they are for those who have died, that much was clear. White carnations, however, symbolize pure love and innocence. When he thought about it that way, they were perfect for Holmes and his brother.
With this thought in mind, Louis smiled, a genuine smile that he hadn't been able to summon in a long time. With one less weight on his heart, he settled more in his seat and prepared to continue reading.