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Their son is born exactly three months after Sherlock’s death, two floors above the ward in which he breathed his last. Their son is born into a world without his father and he doesn't even know it. Their son is born with Sherlock’s hair and Sherlock’s eyes, blinking up at John with all the wisdom of a just-born babe, and it feels like John’s heart is breaking again, because their son will never know his father and he will never know just how wanted he was, by John and by Sherlock.

Their son is born in the early hours of the morning with his older sister, grandma and uncle sitting in the corridor, waiting. Their son is born as John holds the hand of their surrogate, wishing with all his might that his partner was still there to witness this, to see his baby born. Their son is born looking so like Sherlock that John cannot even pretend that he is biologically John’s: that’s how he wanted it, how they both wanted it, though they both gave sperm samples to the hospital.  Lizzie was John’s, it was only fair, Sherlock had argued, that they evened up the playing field, and John can almost imagine Sherlock gazing at his son with an expression of the utmost joy and love and amazement. Sometimes, John can almost imagine Sherlock standing over his son and saying he’s ours, John, our little miracle- 

John names him Nathaniel Sherlock Watson-Holmes. The name was one of Sherlock’s choices, and it’s just about pretentious enough that it fits in with the rest of the Holmes family’s monickers. His middle name should be Thomas, which is John’s choice, but he can’t bear not to have Sherlock’s name live on somehow. Sherlock’s mother, Violet, is especially pleased, and it is clear from the moment she first holds him that her grandson will fill the hole in her heart that her son once filled.   

It’s like that with almost everyone. Mrs Hudson, Lizzie, even Mycroft, who actually cries as he holds his nephew. Nathaniel looks very like Sherlock, with the dark curls and blue/green eyes (‘I bet he’ll look like me,’ Sherlock said. ‘And I bet it’ll be a boy.’) and sarcastic smile, and everyone seems to get a little brighter after the birth of his son. 

Everyone, that is, except John. 

John cannot bond with his son. He cannot watch someone else take Sherlock’s place: he cannot watch someone grow to replace the person he loved most in the world. He wants to, because he wants to love his and Sherlock’s son, but he can’t, and he doesn't know what he is meant to do. 

*

Nathaniel says his first word when he’s six months old. 

It’s a cold winter morning, and John’s knackered from being up and down with the baby all night. He stays in bed while Lizzie entertains him, giving him his bottle, and John can hear them laughing and playing in the sitting room and he’s overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt that his thirteen year old daughter is spending her Saturday morning looking after the child that John cannot love, guilt that everyone seems to be forgetting Sherlock and, of course, guilt that he cannot bond with his son. No father wants to stare at his baby and feel nothing but John can’t help it, and he doesn't know how much longer he can handle it. 

He stays in bed much longer than he should and soon the crying starts. He hears Lizzie singing, trying to entertain Nathaniel, but the crying persists and John just closes his eyes and turns over. He can’t- 

‘I don’t know what to do,’ comes a voice from the door. ‘He won’t stop, Papa.’  

John sighs and sits up because he can’t stand his daughter looking at him like that, eyes crinkled and mouth tight. She’s had just as bad a time as he has: she lost the man she considered a father, the man who had brought her up. Mary had died three months after Lizzie’s birth, and John had moved in with Sherlock, her godfather, when she was one. By the time she was three John and Sherlock were intimate and Sherlock had legally adopted her on her tenth birthday and she had changed her name from Elizabeth Sherlock Watson to Elizabeth Sherlock Watson-Holmes (‘Not Holmes-Watson?’ Sherlock asked, eyebrows crinkled, and she laughed. ‘Come on, Dad, that’s stupid.) 

‘Papa,’ Lizzie says again, and John holds his arms out for his son, though he doesn't think it will do much-

‘Papa.’ 

John freezes and Lizzie almost drops her brother, who promptly starts crying. They look at each other in amazement, and Lizzie sinks onto the bed. ‘Say that again, Natty?’ She says breathlessly, and Nathaniel shakes his head, face tear-stained and snotty, and holds his arms out towards his father. ‘Papa!’

It’s like John’s seeing his son for the first time ever: it’s like the last six months have never happened. The hard wall around his heart shielding anything that might replace Sherlock snaps and John takes Nathaniel out of Lizzie’s arms. Almost immediately the baby starts crying and John says, utterly amazed, ‘I can’t believe it!’ 

Lizzie’s pouting, angry that her father accomplished what she could not. ‘Well, what do you expect,’ she huffs. ‘He adores you.’ 

John hugs his son to him and stares into those amazing eyes and for the very first time, he doesn't see someone who’s replacing Sherlock, he sees someone who will let him remember Sherlock better, honour his memory. He sees his son, his and Sherlock’s son, and he vows right there that he will never, ever let him go again. 

*

On the fifth anniversary of his death John takes Nathaniel to his father’s grave for the first time. 

It isn't that Nathaniel doesn't know about Sherlock: on the contrary, they talk about him all the time. Nathaniel is so like Sherlock that it’s scary, from appearance to personality to intelligence, and it breaks John’s heart because he knows just how proud Sherlock would have been of him and Nathaniel will never know that. 

Lizzy is back from Uni: she’s in her first year and very busy, but she never misses the anniversary, and no one ever stops her coming. Because it’s the first year Nathaniel has been allowed to come they all go to the graveyard together before standing in front of the stone, each one holding something. It’s a tradition to put something meaningful on the grave, and Nathaniel has risen to the challenge incredibly. 

Lizzie goes first, scuffing the ground with her shoes. ‘Hi, Dad. Long time no see. I’m in my first year at Uni now, studying English and History. I can almost imagine what you’d have said- you’d have been pissed that I wasn't becoming a detective like you! Sorry, I just didn't have that talent. Natty does, though, so maybe one of your kids’ll follow in your footsteps. I miss you every day, Dad.’ She sniffs and turns away from John and Nathaniel: she hates crying in front of other people. ‘I bought a chemistry set from the Uni, I had one of my friends nick it. I remember when you did your experiments and I’d help, and then Papa would yell at us.’ She pauses once more. ‘I miss that, Dad. Love you.’ 

John lays a comforting hand on his daughter’s arm, but Nathaniel has already stepped forward, clutching his gift in his hands. ‘Good morning, Daddy,’ he says formally. ‘It’s the first time I’ve ever come to see you and it’s very exciting. My name’s Nathaniel, and I’m your son, but you probably knew that because Papa says you loved me lots even though I wasn't born yet. Everyone says we’re very alike, so you must have been very cool.’ Despite himself John snorts, and Nathaniel looks up in disgust. ‘Please, Papa, don’t.’ He turns back to the grave and whispers, ‘he’s impossible. I bet if you weren't dead me and you would’ve made his life horrible, right?’ He pauses and John’s stomach twists because as grown-up as Nathaniel pretends he is, he still believes that his Daddy might answer him. 

But, of course, nothing comes, and Nathaniel just looks sad as he says, ‘I bought you my scarf. It used to be yours, Papa says, but you left it for me.’ He’s still holding the scarf and now he doesn't look sure that he wants to part with it. ‘Except, now I think about it, I don't think it will be much use. Do you want me to keep it?’ Nothing happens, and Nathaniel smirks. ‘Thought so. I’ll look after it for you.’ 

John shakes his head but doesn't say anything, because he knows that he’ll feel better with Nathaniel taking care of the scarf. Sherlock had had it for as long as John could remember: he’d been wearing it when he died, for Christ’s sake-

‘We’ll go wait over there,’ Lizzie whispers, and she takes Nathaniel by his hand and leads him away from the grave, until they’re beyond hearing distance. John thanks her quietly in his heart because he lives for this time alone with Sherlock. 

‘Hi, love,’ he starts quietly. ‘It’s been a while. I know I should come more often but…it seems right, coming on the anniversary, and every other time I try and step in here I just feel like it isn't the right thing to be doing.’ He pauses and looks at his children: Nathaniel is trying to tie the scarf around his sister’s neck. He smiles, and turns back to the grave, kneeling down in front of it, right on the grave in which Sherlock will lie forever. ‘Nathaniel has grown so much. He looks more like you every day, and he’s even begun deducing. I think it was Mycroft that taught him that- I told you your brother adored you, didn't I? Lizzie’s met someone, I think. She’s always on the phone, or texting, and she seems happier than she’s been in a long time. Do you remember when she brought that Philip boy home? You were so funny.’ He remembers the incident as clearly as if it had happened yesterday (‘He has condoms,’ Sherlock said dryly, ‘in his pocket. Please, Elizabeth, you can do so, so much better.’) and chuckles. ‘That was only a couple of months before you died, wasn't it? I know it’s been five years, Sherlock, but I can remember it so, so clearly. I dream about it, you know. I can still see you, bleeding out on the ground.’ He breathes out shakily. ‘God, Sherlock, I know I say this every single fucking year but I’m sorry. It was all my fucking fault. I should never have left you there with him: I thought…I thought because he was in a fucking maximum security cell he wouldn't be able to do anything. You should never underestimate Jim Moriarty, though, you’d said it so many times, and by the time I’d got to you there were bullets through that brilliant brain and you were dead.’ John puts his head on the gravestone. ‘I can’t do anything about that now, Sherlock, though God I wish I could, and I swear to you, again, that I will raise our son in the best way that I can to try and make it up to you. I let you die but I will keep our son from any danger he might ever run into, and he will grow up loved and knowing how much you would have loved him.’ 

It’s raining but John doesn't care- he just kneels on his partner’s grave, head on the cold, silent stone, and remembers the only man he would ever love. This is all he can do, now, because Sherlock is dead and not coming back. He didn't fake it, not this time, but at least John isn't alone. Not anymore.

As if on cue he feels a little hand touch his shoulder and turns. Nathaniel is on his left, head cocked as he stares at the gravestone, and Lizzie is on his right, arms folded behind her back, and even though he feels as sad as he ever thought he could feel, John doesn't feel alone. He has his children, and they matter to him more than anything. 

Even Sherlock.

They stand in silence, staring at the gravestone, the words echoing over and over in their head. 

Sherlock William Scott Holmes

Beloved partner, father, son, brother 

Death catches up with us all, in the end

*

Nathaniel graduates with first-degree honours in Chemistry and Psychology from Oxford University on his twentieth birthday. He’d gone to Oxford a year early, though it should have been two; he’d repeated year thirteen because he’d ‘not wanted to be the youngest there by several years’. John suspects this was not the whole truth, if not a complete lie: he’d wanted to go to Oxford with his best friends, Charlotte Andrews and Callum Hooper, who were in the year below him. Although Mycroft and Sherlock’s parents had both disliked this decision, John hadn't cared because he loves his son and wants him to be as happy as possible. 

Nathaniel graduating is one of the happiest days of John’s life. Watching his son walk away from the top University in the country with the highest honours makes him proud, certainly, but it’s watching Nathaniel with his friend’s before and after the ceremony that truly makes John smile. He’s so easy with them and clearly very popular: almost all of his classmates stop to talk to him or congratulate him in some way, and John can almost imagine Sherlock standing next to him saying that was you, John. All of that was you. 

Lizzie is there as well, of course: she wouldn't miss her adored brother graduating for the world. She brings Isla, her wife, and their baby girl Rebecca, who’s as good as gold and blinks up at John with large, intelligent eyes as he holds her. 

After the ceremony Nathaniel runs over with Charlotte, smiling as widely as John has ever seen him smile. He’s so like Sherlock that it hurts to look at him, sometimes: the same sharp cheekbones, the same tall, slender, dancer’s build, the same eyes and the same curly black hair. The only notable differences are the dimples, the left-handedness and slightly shorter face, which Nathaniel seems to like. ‘I don't want to be his clone,’ he’s said more than once. ‘I’m my own person.’ 

People often forget that, John knows. He accepts that Nathaniel is his own person and he wants Nathaniel to be his own person: as much as he misses Sherlock he doesn't want him cloned in his son.

Isla congratulates Nathaniel, who smiles at her and kisses his niece’s soft, downy hair, before Lizzie pulls him into a tight hug. ‘Oh, Natty. I’m so proud of you.’ 

‘A bit jealous too, I imagine,’ he grins. ‘Didn’t you graduate from shitty University in the North?’ 

‘If you mean St. Andrews, yes I did,’ Lizzie laughs. ‘Fuck you, nerd.’ 

‘Not in front of the baby,’ Isla chides, and Lizzie covers her mouth. ‘Fuck yeah, sorry.’ 

‘You’re impossible,’ John smiles, and Nathaniel nods in agreement. ‘I was so easy compared to you. Papa must’ve been delighted.’ Charlotte laughs and John chuckles with her: he’s come to view Nathaniel’s best friend as a sort of daughter to him. They’ve been best friend’s since they were in Nursery, and even when Nathaniel was moved up another year they stayed firm friends. Together with Molly’s son, Callum, they were quite a force to be reckoned with. 

Nathaniel coughs. ‘Papa, I’ve got something to tell you.’ 

John frowns because his son looks very serious, and he wonders if something’s wrong. ‘What is it, Nathaniel?’ 

Nathaniel opens his mouth to reply, but before he can Lizzie says loudly, ‘he’s gay. I knew it. Isla, you owe me twenty quid.’ 

Charlotte laughs out loud and Nathaniel glares at his sister. ‘Quit the opposite, actually, sister mine. I thought it was time to tell you that Charlotte and I have been engaged in a relationship for just over six months now…’

Nathaniel is still talking but John has zoned out completely: it was the way he said it. So like Sherlock, from the words to the infliction to the fucking tone of his voice. It’s been twenty years since Sherlock died and he can still imagine Sherlock saying that to his parents, when he and John started going out (‘We’re engaged in a relationship,’ he says, and he looks so proud and happy that John’s heart melts.). They’d been so happy, in those ten years between Mary’s death and then Sherlock’s, and even after all this time he still misses him every single day. 

Nathaniel continues to talk and nobody seems to notice that John is crying. Nobody, that is, except Rebecca, who blinks up at him and takes his thumb. I know, she seems to say, and John knows that Sherlock would have loved his granddaughter too. Yet another person who Sherlock never got to meet because of a stupid mistake. 

Nathaniel stops talking and John pulls himself together enough to say, ‘that’s brilliant, son. Congratulations, Charlotte.’ 

And he watches his son talking excitedly, hand absentmindedly around the person’s he loves, and his heart aches because this, his son in a relationship, is something else that Sherlock has missed. It doesn't matter if he can imagine him here because he isn’t, really, and John wishes with all his heart that he could be here with him.  

*

The day that Nathaniel gets married is the happiest of John’s life.

Callum Hooper is his best man, while three year old Rebecca and her little sister, one year old Harriet, are bridesmaids. John sits at the front with his daughter, Isla, and his youngest granddaughter, Lila-Rose, who’s little more than a month old, and watches his son and Charlotte smiling at each other at the altar and feels complete. 

Nathaniel’s wearing a suit and blue bow-tie: John hasn't seen him so dressed up in years. Nathaniel prefers the long coat and scarf that his father preferred to wear when working, and although it makes John so, so happy to see his son continuing Sherlock’s work, solving crimes and hunting down criminals, it hurts as well. Nathaniel is always being told how much he looks like Sherlock but sometimes it’s uncanny. John can remember several incidences where he came downstairs and found his son crouched over an experiment, or writing swiftly in a notebook, or even watching bad reality TV and felt that he had been transported thirty years into the past. 

Even now, John can’t help but remember his own wedding, with Sherlock smiling at him from across the aisle with all the love in the world in his eyes. The tears are welling in his eyes and he’s glad that now, at least, he can cry without people worrying because that’s what people do at wedding’s.

He remembers his disastrous wedding to Mary. Sherlock was so sad, even when he was doing his speech, and John knew what he was doing to him but he couldn't help himself. Sherlock had left him and Sherlock must pay. John realises how snide and awful he was, now, because he could have had four more years with Sherlock, if only he’d not wanted his own back.

He’s emotional, he knows that. It’s not every day you see your little boy get married, he keeps reminding himself, and even now he is sixty-seven and Nathaniel is twenty-three his son is the same baby that called him papa and made him cry. 

When they’re married, they turn around, holding hands, and Nathaniel mouths thank you at John. John doesn't know why, because he has done nothing special: if anything, John should be apologising for allowing his father to die. He had a part in preventing Nathaniel from having the best upbringing possible, from knowing his father, who John knows would have adored Nathaniel. Instead, Nathaniel was stuck with John, a man with sub-par intelligence who couldn't bring his son in the way that he should have been.

John can’t say that, though. Not now, not at his son’s wedding. Instead he stands up and claps his son and his son’s new wife as they walk away, and he knows he will remember the happy smile on Nathaniel’s face for as long as he will live. 

*

Nathaniel’s first-born children come into the world on a dark, cold winter night right at the end of the year. John’s there, of course: he was the first person Nathaniel called when they realised it was time. He, in turn, called Lizzie, who brought Rebecca: at ten, she is deemed old enough to be present, though Isla stays at home with Harriet, Lila-Rose and the newest granddaughter, Violet. All three of them are sitting in the waiting room and John’s foot is tapping compulsively as he prays please, please let it all be fine, please, for my son. 

And then Nathaniel is sprinting out of the delivery room, cheeks flushed and eyes shining, and he shouts, ‘boys! Two boys! Twin boys! Safely delivered and perfect, healthy, perfect!’ 

Lizzie is up in a second, congratulating her brother with a hearty clap on the back as she bemoans how he got two boys first go: everyone knows how much she wants a son. Rebecca is smiling as well, delighted at her new little cousins, but John cannot register what he’s saying because now, finally, he is seeing how happy Sherlock would have been if he’d been there when Nathaniel was born. The same flushed face, the light shining in his eyes, curls askew but so, so delighted and it breaks John’s heart-

‘I want you to be the first to see them, Papa,’ Nathaniel is saying, and John just nods, standing up and hugging his son tight to him, before following him into the delivery room. 

John’s done this with so many grandchildren now that he feels like a professional: he congratulates Charlotte, who’s being wheeled away to be cleaned up. He suspects she only agreed to go because she’s high on pain medication - no way would the Charlotte he knows leave her children mere moments after they were born - but he’s happy, because he wants a moment alone with his son and his grandsons. 

They’ve been cleaned up and John can easily see that they are beautiful, beautiful children. One is slightly bigger, with a smarting of blonde hair and Nathaniel’s eyes, whilst the other has dark curls and bright blue eyes. 

John crouches next to the cots (even at seventy-four he’s as fit as ever) and gently traces the cheek of the bigger one with his finger: the baby gurgles, snuffling quietly as he slumbers. ‘Welcome to the world,’ John whispers, and Nathaniel lays a comforting hand on his shoulder. ‘We’ve chosen names.’ 

John looks up. ‘Already?’ 

‘We had them sorted,’ Nathaniel shrugs. ‘The younger one- the smaller one- is going to be William Sherlock Watson-Holmes. Will, for short.’ 

John nods: of course the boy wants to honour his father, John wants that as well. ‘That’s beautiful, son, and your Dad would have been so delighted-‘

‘And the older one,’ Nathaniel interrupts, ‘is going to be John Hamish Watson-Holmes. Well. We’ll call him Jack, so we don’t get confused, but John is his name.’

John frowns: he can’t help it. ‘But, Nathaniel-‘

‘No, Papa, I won’t let you do this again. You are my father just as much as Dad: fuck that, you’re more of a father than Dad. You brought me up, paid for me, loved me, looked after me, and did a brilliant job about it, as well. I know you, Papa, and I don't want you banging on about not being worthy and not deserving it because you bloody well do. I might not have known Dad, but I sure as hell know you, and I am naming my son after you whether you like it or not.’ Nathaniel pauses for breath, looking almost angry. ‘Well?’ 

There are tears welling up in John’s eyes. ‘Nathaniel-‘

His gaze softens, and he pulls John up, though he’s still a good six inches taller than him. ‘You’re the only one who calls me that. Most people call me Nat, though Lizzie still calls me Natty-‘

‘Oh, Nathaniel,’ John whispers, and he pulls his son into the tightest hug he can. ‘Oh, Nathaniel.’ 

He’s saying the things that John always dreamed he would say, and he’s said them truthfully, and in that moment John, for the first time, feels real closure over Sherlock’s death. Sherlock died but he won’t come back, and John raised their son and their son is happy with how he raised him. For the first time, John realises that Nathaniel wasn't raised by the memory of a ghost: he was raised by John, and John did a good job, and yes, he’ll miss Sherlock for the rest of his life, but he has other people to remember him by. Not pine for him by, remember his by. His son, his daughter, their children, their spouses, all people that Sherlock would have loved but never got the chance to, but it doesn't matter because they exist and they let him celebrate Sherlock.   

*

John knows he is dying when he collapses in the supermarket a few days after his ninetieth birthday. The doctors say it’s a brain tumour, inoperable, and that he’ll be dead by the end of the summer: he doesn't mind, doesn't want treatment, just wants to let nature take its course. He’s had a long and fulfilling life and he knows it’s time to finish, now, leaving behind all of those people he loves.     

He has three months, he estimates. He used to be a doctor (a good one, too) and he thinks he’s about right with his guess. He doesn't tell anyone until he has about a month left, knowing it will upset them, and even then only tells Lizzie and Nathaniel. Everyone else who would care is long dead- Mycroft, Harriet, Mike.

Sherlock. 

He visits Sherlock’s grave one last time and tells him that they’ll be together soon. He then decides that he will spend five minutes alone with every single person in his family, and then he will die. Simple as that. 

He starts with Isla. He thanks her for taking care of Lizzie and for giving him his grandchildren: he imparts some advice on her that he thinks will help her, in the future. He does the same for Charlotte, though he gives her a kiss on the cheek afterwards: she was always his favourite. 

His grandchildren are much the same. Rebecca, the oldest at twenty-six, seems to understand what is going on: Harriet, who’s twenty-four, and Lila-Rose, who’s twenty-three, also suspect something strange is happening but don’t say anything. Violet, who’s oblivious at nineteen, merely laughs at him and says he’s getting old and strange but she doesn't mind because he’s her grandpa and she loves him: John laughs at this. Violet was always a funny one. 

John Junior, Lizzie’s miracle son, hugs him as if he knows what’s going on but at fifteen John suspects that JJ is just hormonal and just beginning to understand that his grandpa won’t always know what’s going on. Will and Jack, who are sixteen now and more handsome as each day passes, promise that they will continue the Watson-Holmes name and, more importantly, Sherlock’s: in fact the two fight over which gets to name their son ‘Sherlock’. John smiles fondly and kisses the top of their heads, hoping against all hope that they find their soulmates just as their namesakes found theirs. 

David Nathaniel, the baby of the family, instantly guesses what’s going on. John finds this odd, because he’s only eight, but doesn't contradict him: instead the two sit, side-by-side on the sofa, and talk. John tells him about the old days, about Sherlock, about Nathaniel and about love, and he tells David that he shouldn't be sad because John’s had a long life and it’s time to go to sleep, now. Finally, finally, he can see Sherlock again. 

David doesn't contradict this: he nods, accepts it, and kisses his grandpa hard on the cheek. I love you, he says proudly, and John says it back because he does love him, he loves them all. 

Lizzie reacts just as John thought she would: by denying it, trying to say there was something they could do. John knows there is not but lets her talk and cry until she is spent, before rocking her gently and stroking her hair. His girl’s almost sixty but she needs her father just as much as she always has done, and John hopes that Nathaniel will look out for her. 

Nathaniel is quiet as John tells him, and then says quietly, ‘you’ll be gone soon.’ 

It isn't a question but John nods anyway. ‘I will.’ 

Nathaniel smiles then, a bittersweet smile, and John realises with a jolt that he’s now seven years older than Sherlock was when he died. ‘I couldn't have asked for a better father, Papa. You were the best.’ 

‘You know what,’ John smiles, and he takes his son’s hand and squeezes it tight, ‘I think I was.’ 

Arthur is visiting the cemetery to pay his respects to his dead grandad when he finds the letter. It’s on a grave that he comes to often: the man who is buried there has a funny name (Sherlock!) and Arthur likes it. He sits there and talks to him sometimes, when no one is looking, and sometimes it even feels like he’s listening. 

He opens the letter because it’s on a grave: who else will read it? It’s addressed to about a fortnight earlier and it’s obviously been there a while because it’s soggy and the envelope is growing mould. Arthur doesn't mind, though, and he reads it as he leans against Sherlock’s gravestone. 

My dearest, 

I’m dead, now. I’ve instructed Nathaniel to put this on your grave as soon as I die, because only then will I be certain that you have received it. We are together at last, Sherlock, and that’s all that matters to me because the only thing that kept me going through the last forty-six years was the thought that one day we would be together again, and now we are. 

I raised our son alone, Sherlock. I raised him alone and I will be sad that you were not there with me for the rest of my life but I do not regret it one bit because he is everything we ever hoped for and I love him more than anything in the world. I raised our son and I hope you are pleased with how he turned out, love, because I am. God, I am. 

I’m sad to leave our family, but I leave them confident that they will stay together. They are a mixture of you and me, Sherlock, and that is perfect. I’m not a detective (unlike you) but even I know that. 

I love you, you stupid sod, and I’m so glad to be reunited with you at last.

I love you, I love you, I love you, 

John xx

And then, underneath, in different writing

Army veteran John H. Watson died on the nineteenth of September, and his son Nathaniel placed this letter on his partner’s grave because it was his dying wish, and I would do anything for him because he is the best father in the world. 

The world. 

Nathaniel Watson-Holmes

Arthur took the letter home and kept it under his pillow for months, and every night he would dream about a soldier and a detective, just like the letter said, and when he grew up he wrote about them, using only what he had found in the letters and on their graves. 

The story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: the most beautiful love story of all time.