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02 October 2010 @ 07:44 am
The Engagement (Sherlock BBC, John/Sherlock)  
Title: The Engagement
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Pairing: John/Sherlock
Rating: NC-17
Word count: ~9,500 words
Summary: from the kink meme prompt: gay!royalty!AU. For ~political reasons~, King Mycroft has his younger brother, Prince Sherlock, betrothed to a foreigner, Prince John. Sherlock is all, "How about nooooooooo" until he actually meets his husband-to-be.
Notes: I think I will blame the kink meme, zulu, and M in that order for the existence of this fic. This is all their fault, especially since zulu and M took on beta duties and are also horrible enablers.

"Congratulations," Lestrade says when Sherlock passes by him on Monday morning.

Sherlock is more interested in reviewing his case notes on the subject of Lady Soo-Lin's missing hairpin than listening to whatever Lestrade has decided to bore him with today, which is why it takes him a moment to respond. "I was not aware that I had accomplished anything that was worth congratulations in the past day," Sherlock says when it becomes obvious that the footman will not take his silence as an acceptable answer. He resolved his last case more than a week ago, and he has not been very successful as of yet with his new one. There must be a pattern the markings left at the crime scene, but their meaning is still uncertain, even to Sherlock's mind. He will figure it out eventually. It's simply a matter of time.

Lestrade raises an eyebrow, as if he can't tell if Sherlock is taking the piss or not. "It's been all over the news," he says. "They just announced it this morning."

Sherlock has never bothered with the news, because the anchors are so very dull, and the fun is taken out of it completely once you know that ninety percent of what they say has been carefully vetted by Mycroft's censors. Sherlock has never been one for idle gossip, but he supposes that he should care when the subject is himself. It does help him anticipate the odd stares and nervous titters whenever he enters a room. "What's been announced?" Sherlock says. If this one is anything like the past few announcements, it involves Mycroft greatly exaggerating Sherlock's abilities in order to intimidate the neighboring kingdoms. As if Sherlock could be bothered to play at spy games.

"Your engagement," Lestrade says, utterly perplexed.

And that's how Sherlock finds himself calculating exactly how much force he would need to put into a punch in order to wipe the smug smile off Mycroft's face.


There is a joke on the Continent that goes something like this:

Q: "How many Britishmen does it take to change a lightbulb?"

A: "Ten. One to provide a lightbulb, one to dispute the claim the first has on the lightbulb, and eight to make meaningless treaties so ensure that they have rights to the lightbulb on the other side of the room."

Most of the commoners on the British Isles find this joke hilarious.

Most of the royalty do not.


"Now, now," Mycroft says, sipping his tea. "There's no call for a scene." Sherlock took one look at Mycroft's delighted expression and knew that (a) the news had been reporting the truth about the engagement, (b) Mycroft was very much behind it, and (c) Sherlock had been deliberately left out of the negotiations.

Sherlock hates Mycroft at the moment. "I hate you," Sherlock says. "I would shove you off the top of the London Eye if I could."

"What luck for me that we don't control that part of London," Mycroft says, "and so your plans for fratricide will have to wait." Queen Adler still owned that part of London, if Sherlock remembered correctly. It was agreed upon by each of the ruling families centuries ago that they would split London between them, though pieces of the city were passed along and traded as frequently as every other part of the island.

"You could have at least told me first," Sherlock says. He is very much aware that he is sulking like a child, but he's the second son, and he was never expected to behave as well as Mycroft. No child could have ever been better behaved than Mycroft. Sherlock was always left to his own pursuits, most of which were far more entertaining than whatever his parents had thought was most appropriate for a prince of his standing.

"Yes, and then you would have thrown a similar tantrum in front of the Watsons' delegation, which would have put them off enough that they would have withdrawn their marriage proposal," Mycroft says. He smiles. Surely Mycroft has spent hours in front of his mirror perfecting that self-important shark-tooth smirk.

"I would have preferred that outcome," Sherlock says. He is seconds away from complaining that this isn't fair, even though he knows it's extremely futile. Mycroft doesn't give a toss about what's fair. He never has.

Mycroft takes another sip of tea and leans back in his chair, still looking supremely pleased with himself. "I am aware of that," he says. "However, the Watsons are weak after that whole business in Afghanistan, and they are looking to secure their alliances. Their eldest, Harriet, prefers women, more's the pity, but I have heard that John is a very pleasant lad. He's even studied medicine."

"He sounds dull," Sherlock says. "Why don't you marry him yourself if you're so keen on the idea?" Sherlock has heard all about married life, about the routine tedium of it, and the thought of enduring such a thing himself makes him shudder. It had never been out of the question, a political marriage, but when Mycroft had become king, Sherlock had hoped he had escaped from such duties. It was Mycroft's responsibility, after all, to spawn the brats who would one day carry on the Holmes name and line.

"Don't be an idiot," Mycroft says. "We're not nearly so desperate ourselves."


After Mycroft bullies Sherlock into agreeing to at least meet Prince John before running away to America, Sherlock does what he does best when Mycroft bullies him into anything. He complains to Lestrade at length about how much he loathes his brother.

"I've got actual work to do," Lestrade says halfway into Sherlock's tirade about that time when Mycroft humiliated Sherlock in front of their parents by pointing out a minuscule flaw in Sherlock's logic. Naturally, it had changed his conclusion, but it was an easy oversight to make and Mycroft really did not need to hold that incident over Sherlock's head for the next five years. "Why don't you tell Anderson or Donovan all about it?"

Donovan tells Sherlock that she doesn't care who he is and that he should fuck off because she's busy. Anderson just shoots Sherlock looks of intense hatred from his desk, but he keeps his mouth shut all the way through. Clearly Mycroft's propaganda campaigns to make Sherlock seem omniscient are not working as well as he would hope, because no one is properly intimidated by Sherlock anymore.

Sherlock has known enough married people, in the court and out of it, that he knows that marriage isn't for him. Even the happy couples seem to be composed of two separate entities surgically attached together, for better or for worse. Sherlock does not need any more appendages than he currently has, thank you very much. In his fit of pique over this whole arrangement, he finds the missing hairpin holding together the bun of one of the mistresses of one of the minor lords of Stuart. Lady Soo-Lin seems pleased, but Sherlock does not care much further than the rush of satisfaction he gets once he's solved case.

The day of the arranged meeting, Lestrade gives Sherlock news of a string of strange suicides in their kingdom, and Sherlock leaps at the chance to do some more investigating before his death sentence is carried out.

"No," Mycroft says when he catches Sherlock trying to slip out the back door. "You are not putting off this meeting." Sherlock supposes that he must be getting more predictable. It usually takes Mycroft a bit longer to twig to Sherlock's plans.

"But surely this is far more vital to the peace and welfare of the kingdom," Sherlock says. "Who knows when the killer will strike next? What good is a wedding when there's mass panic about?" He inches towards the door as subtly as he can manage. If he gets close enough, he could make a run for it. Mycroft has been shedding the pounds lately, but he is still not quite fast enough to catch Sherlock when they're both running flat-out.

"The peace and welfare of the kingdom will wait the hour it takes for you to go to this meeting. Then you can go back to your little games if you must," Mycroft says. He raises a dark eyebrow, and Sherlock knows he's lost this argument as well.

"Fine," he says, and he resolves to tell John Watson every one of Mycroft's dirty little secrets. Maybe he should inform the rest of the greater London area as well.


John Watson, they say, is not a very striking man. Like all Watsons, he does not greatly resemble royalty, nor does he act much like it. The Watsons are not very much like the Alders or the Holmeses, who treat Britain as an elaborate chess board, pushing their pieces this way and that. The Watsons were commoners themselves not so very long ago, rising up through the slow accumulation of land until they could demand their place as one of the ruling families.

The motto of the family is Semper Fidelis, always faithful. All the Watson children have served in one branch of the armed forces or another, and it is pressed upon them from a very early age that they must avoid the trappings of royalty. The good jewelry spends most of its days stored away, and their parties are quiet, sedate affairs.

Harriet was a bit of a wild child when growing up. Her rocky off-and-on relationship with Princess Clara was more than enough evidence for that, and there were the constant rumblings about her fondness of alcohol. As the first-born, she was given a great deal of leeway, but it was always understood that when it became necessary, she would settle down and take the throne like her father before her and his mother before that.

John, by contrast, has lived his life carefully and quietly. He is a doctor of respectable skill and a gifted soldier, and all those who know him sing his praises. Still, there are rumors that Afghanistan that has changed him, that he has become even quieter and more withdrawn, that the wound to his shoulder has caused damage to more than just his flesh.

If there is any truth to the rumors, the Watsons refuse to speak of it.


The Watsons' flats are far more modest than Sherlock expected. In London, displays of status are almost worth as much as status itself. The Stuarts, for example, have decided to build a zoo on the edge of their section of London, despite the fact that everyone knows that they don't have the funds. The Smythe-Featheringtons like to throw elaborate dinner parties just so that they can give themselves the best seats at the table. Sherlock finds it vaguely ridiculous, but like many other things in London, it's something that is very important to understand.

The woman who lives downstairs -- just a commoner who has earned favor with the family, Sherlock deduces from the look of her socks -- answers the doorbell when Sherlock rings. She smiles at him, far too knowingly, as she lets him in. "Come in, dear," she says. "He's waiting for you upstairs." Out of spite, Sherlock decides not to tell her that her husband is wanted by the Adlers for two counts of murder, and also possibly wanted by the state of Florida (judging by the knife hanging in the foyer and the residue on the men's shoes in the coat closet).

Sherlock climbs the stairs two at a time, eager to finish this meeting so that he can get on with more important, more interesting things. The living room is quiet when he arrives, and so he takes a moment to observe his surroundings. The rooms are small, what some might even term "cozy," though Sherlock finds them much closer to "claustrophobic" after living in rooms with high ceilings and large windows his entire life. The walls are painted a pale green, and the bookshelves are stacked full of medical textbooks and mystery novels. The couch in front of the telly is old and well-used -- Sherlock can see a dip in center from where weight has been applied to it repeatedly and there are food stains on the arms from a particularly eventful dinner party several years ago. There are no personal photographs hung up on any of the walls, nor are there any placed on top of any of the surfaces. There is a soft rug thrown over the hardwood floor that has seen much better days. A battered copy of The Art of War sits on one of the end tables, underneath a lamp.

"Oh, hello," a man says as he walks out into the living room from the bedroom. John Watson is shorter than Sherlock expected, his hair cut into a neat military style. He limps, very slightly, favouring his left foot. He is wearing a plain oatmeal-colored woolen jumper and a simple pair of jeans. It is remarkable how unremarkable he seems. Unlike most royalty, it would be possible to pass Prince John on the streets and not realize who he was. Sherlock has devoted quite a bit of time into figuring out how to make himself forgettable. For John, it seems to come naturally. "You're here a bit early," John says. "I was about to put on some tea."

Despite the many lessons in protocol Sherlock received while growing up, Sherlock was never properly coached on how to greet one's future husband when meeting him for the first time. A handshake seems too awkward, and a kiss seems too intimate. He decides to follow John into the kitchen, taking note of the scuffs on John's shoes and the worn edge's of John's belt, the tan lines along his wrists.

The kitchen is small, as modest as the rest of the flat, and it shares the same lived-in quality as the other rooms. None of the plates or cups match, and there are faint knife marks on the wooden counters from where someone didn't bother putting down a cutting board before chopping up vegetables. John pulls two mugs from the shelves. The larger of the two is blue, with messy white lines painted along the sides. The other is a solid pale yellow with a tiny curved handle. Sherlock has never learned how to make tea for himself. It is a simple enough process, he's sure, but it never seemed necessary to learn when all he had to do was snap his fingers in order to get one of the servants to make a cup for him. "I take mine with sugar," Sherlock says.

"All right, then," John says. He smiles, a small curl of his lips, and Sherlock finds himself entranced by the barest hint of scarring near the base of John's neck. It is mostly covered up by the collar of his shirt, but when John moves, the collar shifts, revealing more skin to Sherlock's hungry eyes.

Sherlock is so very fascinated by the hidden parts of John's body that he almost forgets why he came here in the first place. Then John hands him the larger cup, filled to the brim with warm tea and Sherlock remembers. "Our families want us to get married," Sherlock says, though he finds stating the obvious incredibly irritating.

"I had noticed that, yes," John says. He takes a long sip of his tea and leans back against the counter. "What with the engagement and all."

"I think it's absurd," Sherlock says, "and that we should work together to convince them of this fact." He hates this whole part of 'diplomacy,' the deliberation, the politeness. If it were possible to make this whole thing go away without forcing Mycroft's hand, Sherlock would jump at the opportunity. But until Mycroft realizes how horrible this whole affair is, he will doggedly do everything in his power to make sure this wedding happens.

John frowns, just a quick expression passing over his face. "So you're saying you don't want to marry me?" he asks. He almost sounds put out by it, like he wouldn't even mind being married to a high-functioning sociopath for the rest of his life.

"I'd much rather be married to my work," Sherlock says. The work won't ever bore him, after all. The work will not complain about Sherlock's hours or insist that Sherlock accompany it to ridiculous balls or demand sex from Sherlock at inconvenient times. There is a reason that Sherlock prefers the presence of dead bodies to living ones.

John actually laughs at that. It's not an entirely unattractive look on him, Sherlock does have to admit. "What is it that you do then? I'd like to know what I'm being thrown over for."

Lestrade picks that moment to show up at the door, and Sherlock is tempted to hug him for having such brilliant timing. "I'm so sorry to interrupt, your Majesties," Lestrade says, "but we've got another body. And this one's left a message."

Sherlock is out the door right behind him, and he reaches the bottom of the stairs before he realizes that he's left John behind. He waits one moment, then two, considering his options before he bounds back up the stairs. Technically, the hour isn't over yet, but it's entirely reasonable for them to continue this meeting elsewhere. "You're a doctor," Sherlock says, re-entering the kitchen. "An army doctor."

"Yes," John says, still holding his cup of tea with both hands. "I was." He wears his history on his skin and in his walk and along his hands, but so much of it is still hidden under the bulky clothing, just below the pleasantly bland exterior. Sherlock wants to peel John open so that he can get a better look at it. He wants to know all of John's secrets.

"Want to come with?" Sherlock says. He feels breathless, which is absurd because all he's done is a quick hop up and down the stairs.

John smiles, just a slight tilt of his mouth, and Sherlock knows the answer is 'yes.'


John isn't what Sherlock was expecting, not at all, and maybe this will teach Sherlock about making conclusions without sufficient evidence in the future.

"That's brilliant," John says, honestly impressed, when Sherlock deduces that his watch was a gift from his regiment and not his parents or relatives. It's hardly he most difficult deduction Sherlock has ever made, since it would be obvious simply by the fact that that the watch is several degrees more expensive than anything else John is wearing. Obviously, John does not enjoy ostentatious clothing or anything that advertises his wealth, so the watch must have been a gift rather than a purchase, and there is only one group of people who could give John a gift like that and make him feel obligated to wear it on a regular basis.

John doesn't seem to think that Sherlock's mind works strangely, or unnaturally, or like a serial killer's (though Sherlock only knows people think the last one because he read the diary that Donovan locks in the second drawer of her desk). John smiles when Sherlock's around and asks only moderately stupid questions and doesn't want to talk about Mycroft at all. John manages to carry on an entire conversation with Sherlock where Sherlock is not bored once, not even for a second.

The case, as it is, is a lovely one, full of sharp edges and so very many layers. John keeps up. He doesn't follow of course, doesn't understand how Sherlock's mind works any better than the rest of them. But he's willing to go along with Sherlock's leaps of logic without being too obnoxious about it, and he doesn't mind using his status to open doors that would otherwise be closed to them.

Late into the evening, when night has fallen over the city, they chase a cab through the London streets, and they could be anyone, anyone at all, just two blokes enjoying a run through the night air. When it turns out to be a false lead, they laugh together in a back alleyway, John slumped against the rough brick and slowly catching his breath again. Sherlock stares at him, at the brightness of his eyes, at the warmth of his smile, and for a moment, it feels like there isn't anything else in the entire universe.

Then there's a cabbie, and a truly delicious riddle, and eventually a dead body. Sherlock decides he likes it, the knowledge that John would kill for him without a second thought, even though he knows that it's as much a savvy political move as anything else. Sherlock is no good to the Watsons if he's dead, right? Still, there is a moment, right after Lestrade and his people finally catch up to them when John presses a hand against Sherlock's neck and says, "You all right?," still smelling of gunpowder and the London night, and Sherlock wonders what it would be like if John kissed him.


"You're home late," Mycroft says when Sherlock finally makes it back to the palace a few hours after midnight. "I take it the meeting went a little long, then?"

Sherlock is still riding high from the thrill of the chase, and so he doesn't rise to take the bait. "You know perfectly well what happened. If Lestrade hasn't already reported in, one of your other spooks has."

Mycroft's smile widens just the tiniest bit. "I'm just delighted to see that you are getting along so splendidly with your fiancé."

The mention of John makes Sherlock stiffen, suddenly defensive. "He is... adequate," Sherlock says. It is foolish to think that he can keep anything from his brother, but he wants John to be something that Mycroft can't touch, something that is Sherlock's and Sherlock's alone.

"I am glad to hear it," Mycroft replies. "The last person you deemed adequate was your violin tutor."

Sherlock lost his virginity to that tutor when he was sixteen and too high on hormones and other adolescent things to know any better. She had long fingers with perfectly trimmed nails and a warm, soft laugh, and she could play Bach's Concerto in A minor so beautifully it would bring Sherlock's father to tears. She would leave perfectly-shaped lipstick kisses on Sherlock's torso, where he could hide them under his clothes, and Sherlock would refuse to wash the bright red marks off for weeks, just so that he could keep them there, a reminder on his skin. Mycroft has never mentioned it before now, but Sherlock hadn't been very subtle back then, and it's not very surprising that Mycroft's known all along. "That's hardly relevant," Sherlock says.

"Well," Mycroft says, shifting his weight in a way that means he's about to leave, much to Sherlock's relief, "I expect you to be on your best behavior when our future in-laws arrive for the wedding preparations." He tilts his head to the side. "And please don't shag him before the ceremony. We don't want them to think we're entirely without class, do you?"


The city of London does love a good wedding celebration, doubly so when the royal families are involved.

It's the only thing anyone will talk about for the weeks, and the tabloids will fill their pages with every single bit of minutiae that they can get their hands on. Water coolers are no longer places to discuss the latest match on the telly. The servants with the best inside information suddenly find themselves very wealthy.

Due to the upswing in publicity, all of the families are required to clear their wedding dates with the others. There was that horrible business a few decades back where the Smythes and the Featheringtons somehow managed to schedule two weddings on the same day. They nearly went to war over the whole affair, and the city was thrown into chaos for months until they managed to come to an agreement. It is also customary for the other families to pay their respects to the new couple, and so wedding days are considered state holidays through all of Britain. Pub doors are thrown open, and house parties are arranged. A live feed is broadcast, and everyone is expected to coo over the released wedding photos.

The Holmes and Watson marriage is not one of the more anticipated weddings of the year. Neither family is known for throwing spectacular parties, and neither of the grooms are particularly well known outside their respective kingdoms. They are not heirs to any of the thrones, and the sudden nature of their arranged marriage is not very appealing to an audience so used to long, dramatic, public courtships. In short, they find the whole thing a bit boring, even after a few reports of Prince Sherlock's eccentricities come to light as the wedding date draws near.

Still, a wedding is a wedding, and the whole town is abuzz with the news.


Sherlock doesn't make much of John's parents, King and Queen Watson. The family resemblance is strong, as expected, but they are not nearly so interesting as John, who is surprisingly quiet and deferential around them. Harry, on the other hand, is someone Sherlock hates almost immediately, and the feeling is clearly mutual.

It's not that her relationship with John is so clearly strained or the fact that she so obviously thinks that Sherlock isn't good enough for her little brother. It's that she insists on hovering over John's shoulder at all times of day, shooting Sherlock evil looks as if she thinks he's after her brother's virtue. Not that John has anything resembling virtue. Sherlock has seen John kill a man and laugh not five minutes later, and Sherlock is fairly certain John has slept with at least one member of the Watsons' personal guard. Despite all that Harry still has the nerve to make herself present whenever Sherlock tries to speak to John, as if John needs a chaperon in the middle of the sodding throne room of all places.

Sherlock finds himself lounging in his room in an attempt to avoid as many of the simpering idiots of the court as possible. It's not as if he can leave the palace. Mycroft has instructed all the guards not to let Sherlock leave the grounds, and he's somehow managed to block off every single one of Sherlock's usual escape routes. Sherlock is staring at his wall, reconsidering his plans for fratricide, when there's a knock at the door. It's Harry on the other side, her arms folded over her chest, her expression dark and irritated.

Harry resembles John in a lot of ways. She has the same dull-colored hair, and the same lines along the sides of her mouth. She carries herself like a soldier who has seen action. But while John likes to hide himself behind his own niceness, Harry doesn't bother. She's very aware of who she is and what she's expected to do. It seems as though she'll make a formidable queen one day, and Sherlock is sure Mycroft is very aware of that fact. "Yes, what?" Sherlock snaps. He hates being interrupted, even when he's bored out of his skull.

"I just wanted to let you know that if you hurt John, I'll cut off your balls and have them with my lunch." Her smile is all teeth.

Sherlock snorts. "I don't know what sort of lies my brother has been feeding you, but I assure you that John is far better than me at hand-to-hand combat." Sherlock does have some leverage due to his height, but he's sure John's greater experience would win out in the end. During such a fight, it was possible that John could sustain injuries, yes, but the likelihood of such a fight occurring in the first place is absurdly low. Sherlock is really quite confused as to what she's referring to.

Harry stares at him for a long moment before she shakes her head and laughs. It's not a very pleasant laugh. "You really are completely off your head," she says. "No wonder he likes you."


John is different inside the walls of the palace. He is distant and formal and he doesn't seem to be comfortable in his suits, even though they fit him well. He only smiles at Sherlock when it is polite to do so, and he doesn't ask Sherlock how he had known that John had spilled his tea all over his shirt this morning even though John had changed immediately afterwards, and he doesn't spend more time around Sherlock than he absolutely has to. He hasn't even brought his copy of The Art of War with him, even though he had made it all the way to page 173 before Sherlock had invited him to join in on his investigation.

"Have I done something to offend you?' Sherlock asks when he corners John in John's private bathroom. Sherlock has found that it is easy to offend people without realizing it, though he has never really bothered to properly learn the rules about such things.

It's still early yet, around seven or eight; Sherlock hasn't been keeping track. It's obvious John has just woken up. His hair is a mess, sticking up on one side, and he's wearing a fuzzy bathrobe that makes him look even smaller than he is. There's a tiny patch of chest hair revealed in the V where the two lapels meet. John rubs his eyes, gets a good look at Sherlock, who is perched on the marble counters, and then he yelps. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he asks.

"I wanted to speak with you without your sister getting in the way," Sherlock says, hopping off the counter, because people are so very insistent about such things. Not that Sherlock can see why the conversation would be all that different with him standing on the floor.

"Well," John says, sighing, "You've certainly managed that."

Sherlock says, "You've been avoiding me."

John's face is so very interesting, full of so many different lines and patterns that shift as his expression changes. Sherlock sometimes thinks that might never get bored again while studying John's face (even though it's probably not true. Sherlock always gets bored eventually). John's face is doing something now that Sherlock can't quite interpret, but with a rush, he realizes that he has time to work it all out. 'Till death do us part, in fact. John says, "No, I haven't."

"If it's something I've done--" Sherlock says, even though he's not entirely sure exactly what an apology sounds like, seeing as he's never made one before. But for John, he might be willing to make an attempt. Might.

"No," John says, sharply. "It's-- it's nothing to nothing to do with you, all right?" He looks tired and much older than he is, his lips twisted into a frown. "I didn't mean to make you think I hated you or anything. It's just--" He makes a motion with his hand that means absolutely nothing to Sherlock.

Sherlock raises an eyebrow. "Lestrade may have mentioned that he has a new case. I take it then that you're willing to help me break out of this dreadful place?"

John smiles at that, and it's something real and genuine and honest. It looks nothing like the other smiles he's been wearing around Sherlock lately. "Yes," he says. "Let's go."


It's a bit tricky, making their way out of the palace.

The guards are really quite good, but John teaches Sherlock how to knock them unconscious without killing them. It's brilliant. Sherlock loves the places where their skills don't overlap. There are all these new things for Sherlock to learn, all these things John can do as easily as breathing. Sherlock is always so very bored, but he's a bit less so while John is around.

Once they're back outside and on the London streets, John is himself again, vibrant and bright and alive. The unsettling, pale, hollowness of the John back in the palace is gone, and Sherlock wants to take this John and keep him, wants to fold him up and put him away so that the other John can't come back.

Lestrade tries to kick them off the crime scene, as if he has any sort of authority to do that. Sherlock overrides him by saying that it's of vital importance to the royal family and promises him that he'll tell Mycroft that Lestrade made a valiant effort to stop them. Their investigation leads them into Stuart territory, and John looks a little queasy when they simply walk into it. There are rules about royalty moving between territories, but Sherlock has never really paid them any mind. It involves all sorts of tedious paperwork and negotiations, and Sherlock has neither the time nor the patience for it.

By the end of the afternoon, they end up in the middle of a shootout at the docks deep in the middle of Adler territory, bullets and curses flying overhead. A cut on John's cheek is bleeding profusely, and Sherlock has a couple of sprained fingers from climbing over a fence. John kills three people with his service pistol, and when the authorities arrive, Sherlock has to make an excruciating call to Irene on John's mobile to get them out of trouble.

"Better get ourselves cleaned up, then," John says after that's all taken care of. He takes them back to his flat, where he greets Mrs. Hudson (so that was her name) on their way up and pulls out a first aid kit from one of the kitchen shelves. Sherlock flops himself down on the couch, which is a lot softer and more comfortable than he was expecting, the worn-down spot in the middle welcoming his body in. When John comes out into the living room, his cheek has been bandaged and the blood has been cleaned off his face and neck. He's smiling as inspects Sherlock's fingers, and his face is still a little flushed from the adrenaline rush.

"Well, I can see why you'd much rather be married to this," John says. He places an ice pack against Sherlock's knuckles and binds the two sprained fingers together before attaching a splint made out of popsicle sticks. Sherlock thinks that he could fall asleep right here. The flat, which had seemed so very small before, seems perfectly sized under the gentle lighting of the lamps. His mind has quieted now that the case is over. Usually, he'll find the most remote place in the palace after a case like this, the one where there's the fewest amount of people, just so he can bask in the feeling without constant interruption. But he doesn't mind John being around so much. John is quiet and steady and he doesn't fill Sherlock's head up the way other people do.

Sherlock is about to say something about how he's changed his mind about the whole marriage thing, and how he doesn't really mind that John's slower than him, and that he rather likes the way John breathes too hard after gunfight, and that he's okay with forever if John is as well. John isn't extraneous, and it's obvious that he won't ever hold Sherlock back. He thinks what Sherlock does is amazing, and Sherlock could never get tired of seeing the curve of his lips. But then John's phone rings before Sherlock can speak. It's Harry, of course. Sherlock can tell from the way John's forehead furrows, the way his voice softens, the way his eyes narrow.

"They're none too pleased with us," John says after he's rung off, "as expected. Apparently, your brother has a few choice words for you."

Sherlock pulls a thin blanket over his shoulders and snuggles deeper into the couch. It smells of John and takeaway curry and possibly a bit of mold. Sherlock rather likes it. "Don't mind that," Sherlock says, waving John's concerns off. "He always does."


Sherlock was already aware of this, but wedding preparations are dull. If he hadn't already known how much Mycroft has invested in this wedding in political terms, Sherlock would suspect that this was all just a clever ruse to torture Sherlock for hours and hours on end. Sherlock does not care about the table settings. Sherlock cannot be bothered to record the differences between flower arrangements in order to compare them. Sherlock has no patience for picking out the perfect flavor of cake or figuring out which of the tiny plastic figurines placed in front of him best resembles himself. John does not seem any more enthusiastic about having to attend all these dreadful meetings, but he is, as always, unfailingly polite in ways that Sherlock is not.

These meetings might all be a punishment for the way they ran off on their last case, even though Mycroft had mostly seemed amused by it all. He had let Sherlock go with only a disapproving look and a minor admonishment. ("I know that this is very hard for you to understand, but it would be in your best interests to appear as though you are not attempting to kill your future husband.") Sherlock's fingers have healed normally enough, though the court physician still likes to fuss over it. After three weeks' time, the splint can finally come off.

"You're due for your appointment with the tailor," Anthea says at some ungodly hour of the afternoon a week before the wedding. Sherlock's sleep habits are not much like anyone else's, but he's fairly certain that Mycroft knows exactly what he's doing when he schedules these meetings

"No, I'm not," Sherlock says from the bed. "I'm a prince; you have to do what I say."

Anthea isn't even looking at him. Anthea is texting something on her Blackberry and chewing her gum loudly. "I'm not letting you sleep through it," she says. "Your brother's much scarier than you are."

Sherlock scowls. "I don't see why I need to be fitted for another bloody suit. All my other ones fit me just fine." And besides, the bed is far more comfortable and far less boring than standing still while someone takes his measurements.

There's a knock on his door, and John sticks his head in before anyone can invite him. "Sorry, I just thought you said that we were close to being late, and I was wondering--"

"I hope you didn't actually believe anything she said," Sherlock says to him. "She works for my brother, you know."

John tilts his head to the side and gives Sherlock a look that might be termed 'fond.' "Get your arse out of bed, you lazy bastard," John says. He's been better than he was before their adventure by the docks. He smiles at Sherlock more readily, and he's willing to wave Harry off when she starts hovering, and he sometimes laughs at things Sherlock says. But he's still not the same as he is out there, and it still annoys Sherlock that he doesn't understand why.

"Fine," Sherlock mutters, sullenly, and he does as John says.


The wedding ceremony itself is confirmation that this is at least, in part, a way for Mycroft to enact revenge for the time when Sherlock destroyed Mycroft's favorite copy of The Prince by spilling acid all over it, way back when Sherlock had just started playing with dangerous chemicals. There are so many people, and all of them are looking at him. Sherlock wonders if this is what it must feel like to be a zoo animal, shoved inside a cage and stared at by idiots all day.

The parts of the day that involve the preacher and the organ music itself goes well enough, mostly because Sherlock's not really supposed to do much besides stand there and occasionally say a few words. It's no worse than most of the incredibly boring speeches he's been forced to listen to most of his life, and he gets to kiss John at the end of it, which is brilliant. John kisses deliberately, like he wants to map the inside of Sherlock's mouth, and Sherlock presses a hand against the warm, soft skin at the back of John's neck, and it's quiet possibly one of the best three moments of Sherlock's life.

The reception is a lot less pleasant. John spends the entire time wearing his fakest smile, and occasionally, his forehead will furrow, almost as if he's worried about something. Sherlock would put more time into figuring out why that was, but there are too many people who are trying to offer their congratulations, as if Sherlock has done anything more significant than be born to the same parents as the most evil man in all of existence. He decides to make a mental graph of who in the room is fucking whom to entertain him, but the results are so boringly predictable that by the end of it, it hardly seems worth the effort. He spends most of the time sitting alone at their table as John chats and socializes with the various other dignitaries that have deigned to show up.

"Don't let anyone tell you otherwise," Irene says, slipping by John and taking a seat at the table, "but you look like complete shit. Don't tell me that you're that depressed about being tied down."

"Irene," Sherlock says, not even bothering to look at her, "I have never been more happy that I decided to skip your wedding. How is Godfrey these days?" He's far more interested in fiddling with his wine glass than playing whatever game Irene has concocted for tonight.

Irene laughs. "He decided to sit this one out. But tonight isn't about him, is it?" She looks over towards the dance floor, where John is currently dancing with Harry. They're not quite comfortable with each other, but Sherlock thinks he may have seen John smile a few times, and he suspects that reconciliation may be coming sometime in the near future. "I think he'll be good for you," Irene says. "You should do your best to keep him."

"I think you should mind your own fucking business," Sherlock says.

She leans over and kisses his cheek. "I'm glad you're happy," she says before leaving, and Sherlock has never hated her more.

"What was that all about?" John asks. He's wandered back over to where Sherlock's sitting, looking more at ease with himself than he has in a while. Harry has ruffled his hair, and Sherlock decides that he much prefers that way. He resolves to do that himself more often.

"Nothing," Sherlock says, because the last thing he wants to do is share what Irene said with John. "Perhaps we should have our first dance now?"

John looks startled for a moment, and Sherlock wonders if he's somehow managed to get the tradition all wrong. But then John straightens and holds out a hand. "Oh yes, of course," he says.

Sherlock has had lessons in ballroom dancing, of course. His parents believed very strongly in having a well-rounded education, and so on Saturday mornings he would end up in the large ballroom on the second floor of the palace. There, he forced to move his body in absurd ways by a retired professional dancer who liked to step on Sherlock's toes when he thought Sherlock wasn't paying enough attention to his lessons. Sherlock, of course, just got better at hiding the fact that he wasn't paying any attention. There are a formalized set of rules about who gets to lead in any particular dance, and Sherlock erased all of them from his brain as soon as he learned them, because they were just so unwieldy and useless. It's not as if he'd ever thought he'd need them again. For tonight, Sherlock just takes John's hand and follows him. The dance floor clears out the second they step onto it, and Sherlock gets that zoo-animal sensation again. He still hates it, but he supposes that he understands the fascination. The quartet starts playing a classic Hayden, and John begins to lead.

They're not any good at first. John's hands are somewhat clammy from the last few dances, and Sherlock is awkward as he compensates for the differences in their heights. Sherlock's never danced with anyone besides his instructor, and he was a few inches taller than John. But all the same, John's body is steady and solid where it's pressed up against Sherlock's. Sherlock's feet remember the moves even if his mind does not. John's lips are quirked into a small smile, and as they waltz around the room, Sherlock's chest feels warm and almost painful, like there's a fire lit up inside of him, and he wonders if this is what it's like to fall in love.


It's understood that John's going to be staying in Sherlock's room for the time being, and after the reception, they head up there together. Sherlock describes some of the more interesting entanglements on this chart of sexual histories, much to John's amusement. Sherlock feels the thrill he always gets when he takes John through his reasoning, and John seems to be genuinely impressed by Sherlock's skills. John's face is still slightly sweaty from the crowded ballroom, and Sherlock finds it incredibly distracting.

When they get inside Sherlock's room, Sherlock takes John's face in his hands and kisses him again. John's mouth tastes like champagne and that chicken dish Mycroft decided on for their dinner, and Sherlock would crawl inside John's skin if he could. But then John's pulling back, pulling away. John's expression almost looks crumpled, and he says, "It's all right. You don't have to pretend any more."

"What are you on about?" Sherlock says. John wants him, he knows, which makes John's decision to stop highly illogical. He wonders if this is what most people feel like all the time, unable to put together all the pieces together into a meaningful picture.

"Look," John says, "it's fine. It's an arranged marriage. No one is expecting us to rule a kingdom together or produce heirs or anything like that. I won't get in your way if you find someone else. Who knows, it's probably expected of us at this point." He lets out a small, pained laugh. He's refusing to look at Sherlock, his eyes fixed on something to the right of Sherlock's shoes.

"You think I don't want this," Sherlock says, because that's what John's thinking right now. It's written all over his face now, yes, and Sherlock files this particular expression away for future reference. "You think I don't want you."

"You said you didn't want to marry me!" John says, suddenly exploding. "And then you took me out on one of your sodding cases. I fell in love with you, you arsehole. I fell in love with you, and I thought the only reason you were going through with the wedding was to prevent your brother from marrying you off to someone worse."

"I changed my mind. Don't tell me I'm not allowed to change my mind from time to time," Sherlock says. Why does everyone have to be so slow? He would have thought it was obvious that he'd come around to the idea when he'd shown up in John's bathroom and asked John about his feelings. It's not like Sherlock would do that for anyone else, not even Mycroft.

John takes one look at Sherlock and laughs, and that's good, that's better than the quiet, hurt look he was wearing after Sherlock kissed him. John says, "God, Harry was right about you."

"Was she?" Sherlock asks.

"She said I was just being thick, but she says that when I tell her to lay off the alcohol, too." John looks up at Sherlock, and he's almost like he was after he shot that cabbie, so very brilliantly, perfectly alive. "Why the hell aren't you kissing me right now?"

Sherlock doesn't have an answer to that, so he leans in again. This time, John grabs a fistful of Sherlock's hair, pulling their mouths together. It's still brilliant, still as amazing on the first time, and then John's trying to get off all their clothes off, his hands clumsy on the buttons of Sherlock's shirt. Sherlock likes this plan, and so he pushes the jacket off his own shoulders, undoes the fly of John's trousers. John's skin is rough, sun-baked. Sherlock wants to see, touch, taste every inch of it.

When they're finally, finally naked, Sherlock runs his fingers over the raised scarring on John's shoulder. John holds still and lets him, his eyes focused on Sherlock's face. The scar feels like regular skin, warm and surprisingly smooth, so Sherlock presses his mouth against it, tracing the lines with his tongue. John shudders at that, his eyes sliding closed.

There are other scars on John's body. On his left knee; right behind his left ear; on the soft curve of his stomach; along the hard knobs of his hips. Sherlock takes his time cataloging them with his fingers, his mouth. John is sprawled out over Sherlock's bed, his breathing short and shallow. Sherlock loves the soft sounds John makes when Sherlock manages to find a place that's particularly sensitive. Sherlock wants to know the stories left behind on John's skin, if John had appendicitis or if he'd fallen off a bike or if he'd gotten into a fight with his sister. He wants to know John, everything there is know, so that Sherlock can see inside him and understand what makes him work, what makes him John.

John's a bit hesitant to touch Sherlock back, as though he still doesn't quite believe that this is what Sherlock wants too. Sherlock thinks this should be a particularly obvious fact, considering the hardness of his own erection and the way he's touching John, as if he could never get enough of it. "I don't regret any of it," Sherlock says, even though he's sure the words are inadequate, "and I'm not doing this out of a misguided sense of obligation." He kisses John again to prove his point, drawing it out so that John has time to catch up.

And then John's hands are on Sherlock's neck, moving to his shoulders, his arms, his hips. "It's hard to believe you're real," John says. He presses a soft kiss to Sherlock's collar bone.

"Don't be daft," Sherlock says, which makes John laugh again. Sherlock wants a lifetime of that laugh, and amazingly enough, it's been handed to him, just like this.

"Okay," John says. He pulls their bodies together so they're pressed up against each other, skin against skin. John thrusts his hips slightly, rubbing his cock against Sherlock's stomach, and Sherlock feels hungry, suddenly, his arousal making its presence known. He pulls himself up and adjusts for their heights, bringing their hips and erections together.

John's cock is hard and perfect against Sherlock's own, and Sherlock kisses John again, desperate for more of him. His hips are making short, jerky movements, and John's making low groaning noises, and Sherlock comes hard all over John's stomach and cock.

"Jesus," John says. He reaches down between their bodies, wanking himself, and he's coming himself before Sherlock can think well enough to do anything about it. Sherlock decides to help with the cleanup, licking the come off John's belly, seeing if he can taste the differences between them. He can. John's cock is softening, but it still feels good when Sherlock sucks it into his mouth, as Sherlock cleans it with his tongue. "You know," John says, sleep already seeping into his voice, "you can try all you like, but I'm not up for another round tonight." His eyes are already drifting shut. Sherlock pulls back, feeling sleepy and content himself.

He curls up against John's body, and John presses his cheek against Sherlock's shoulder, and Sherlock says, "It's not so different for me. What you said before--"

"I understood it this time," John says, interrupting, his voice muffled by Sherlock's skin. Sherlock can feel his smile. "Go to sleep."

And Sherlock does.



"Which state have you managed to wander into this time?" Mycroft asks, his voice sounding tinny and distant over the phone.

Sherlock looks over to where John has spread a map over the hood of their rental car. He's also cross-referencing their eventual destination with a GPS in one hand and his 3-G enabled mobile in the other. Not that there's anything but this highway in either direction. It's early yet, and the world is a pleasant, muted blue. The motel's parking lot is nearly empty. The only thing around is a near-deserted strip mall. Sherlock is itching to get somewhere more interesting. "Colorado," he says. "It's one of those middle ones."

"Ah, yes," Mycroft says. "I always get those ones confused. You did good work in New York, by the way. It even made the news over here."

"I'm sure you had a hand in that," Sherlock says. New York was a high-profile jewelry theft, which was really quite boring because it was so obviously faked for the insurance money. The police had been a bit thick, too. The bank robbery in Boston was far more interesting. They'd even watched two innings of a baseball game before Sherlock had figured out how the robbers had managed to thwart the silent alarm system. He's also fond of that murder in Iowa and that kidnapping in Texas. During that last case, he even had a chance to watch John do some field medicine while they were assisting the local police. It was quite beautiful to see, and afterwards, Sherlock had dragged John back to their tiny motel room and let John fuck him into the mattress, his legs wrapped tight around John's body.

Cases have been easy to come by, mostly because Sherlock has been looking for them. No one in America suspects that they're royalty, and they're both careful not to let anyone twig to that fact. Sherlock misses the authority at times, but he thinks he might like the anonymity even better.

Sherlock can practically hear Mycroft's smirk over the phone. "I am glad that you seem to be enjoying your honeymoon so much. I hope you're remembering to pick up souvenirs for your dear older brother."

"John's been visiting all the gift shops," Sherlock says. It's not really an answer, but he knows that lying to Mycroft wouldn't work any better. The wind picks up a bit, and Sherlock considers convincing John to skip the trip to the U.S. Mint. They could head to Florida, instead. It wasn't as if they lacked for cases, and that way the coming winter wouldn't be quite so unpleasant. Sherlock pulls his coat tighter around his shoulders.

"Well, I'm sure I'll hear from you again sometime in the near future, but while you're gallivanting about, I still have a kingdom to run." Mycroft pauses. "I really am pleased, you know. There are times when I suspect you might even be happy." He rings off before Sherlock can tell him to stop being a sentimental busybody.

John is folding up his map, his face creased with worry and concentration, and Sherlock thinks about their life after this, back in London. Sherlock will move into John's flat, of course, and they'll take cases as they see fit, and they'll drink tea out of mis-matching cups. It won't be perfect -- Sherlock's mental facilities have not entirely decayed with marriage -- but he wants it with an intensity that makes his teeth ache. "Well, we're about 200 miles from Denver and about halfway down the list," John says. Before they flew out, Irene had given them a list of all the things that they were required to see in America, though Sherlock suspects that the World's Largest Ball of Twine isn't nearly as important as she's making it out to be.

"This state is boring," Sherlock says.

"You think they're all boring until you manage to wander into some sort of investigation," John says with a roll of his eyes. "But Denver's a city and everything. That'll increase your chances of finding something interesting." He smiles, soft and fond. "Besides, if it gets bad enough and there aren't any other cars around, I'll let you blow me while I'm driving." He gets into the driver's seat before Sherlock can respond.

Sherlock takes passenger seat (which is, of course, on the wrong side along with everything else).. "I'll have you know that I'm usually extremely resistant to bribery," he says.

"Of course," John says, though Sherlock can tell that he's only humoring him by the twitch of his lips.

They drive east on the highway, and there's a faint orange glow emerging just above the mountains in the distance. "It's not so bad, is it?" Sherlock asks. "This whole marriage business."

"No, it really isn't," John says. He shifts gears, passing a car.

Then it's just them, an empty road stretching out into the distance, and they pull ahead, heading straight for the sunrise.


Early start
grasping at straws: sherlock smirkgomusing on October 2nd, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
This. This is absolutely gorgeous and perfect in it's own AU world. I love John's confession after their wedding and Sherlock's slow uptake on falling in love. Would love to read a sequel! This really made my Saturday night.
thedeadparrot: moby playthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm rather fond of John's confession myself. I'm not sure there will be a sequel unless there's a lot of alcohol involved, but I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this!
shycroftshycroft on October 2nd, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Apsolut love! XD
thedeadparrotthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
Charis Tanamour_etoiles on October 2nd, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
HOT DAMN. I bloody love this (and you). :D

Enderenderwiggin24 on October 2nd, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
I totally second this notion!!!

I want more of this royalAU with sherlock and john!!!

(no subject) - thedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 12:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
hiro: detective superhothiro_chan on October 2nd, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
this is oh so very lovely. completely adore this. I love also how you incorporate the events and tidbids of the tv series into the story.

enjoyed this muchly :):):).
thedeadparrot: constantinethedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoyed trying to work in bits of canon here and there. I'm glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
thedeadparrotthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
Thanks! I have this whole thing in my head about the story of Irene, how she got where she is and what she's up to, but I was afraid it would eat the story. Anyway, I'm glad this AU idea worked for you!
Jay Kateel: Sherlock & Johnjay_kateel on October 2nd, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
I adore this story. ♥ Great job!
thedeadparrotthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
thedeadparrot: travis sun shiningthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
Of course they did! :)
jupiter_ash: lovejupiter_ash on October 2nd, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this. The characters were excellent. The joke at the beginning about the light bulb was brilliant. Loved it all. Thank you. :D
thedeadparrot: death and dreamthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! And I'm glad you enjoyed my joke. :D
Melody C. Wilde: 221Baddymelodywilde on October 2nd, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this! It was so very AU, but the characters were all totally in character (if that makes sense), and I love the way you worked in the "real" cases...and, of course, I love the happy ending. What a wonderful way to start the weekend! Thank you for sharing.
thedeadparrot: going placesthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting! I'm glad the characters worked for you in the context of this AU.
(Deleted comment)
thedeadparrot: introspection in weird momentsthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! I had so much fun writing this Sherlock, for serious.
treez_r_green: Sherlock/John giggletreez_r_green on October 2nd, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Oh this is so brilliant! I love the world you've created, where there's different royal families but it's still in a modern setting. I don't always get on with historical au's when it's slash because it's normally 'forbidden love' which I don't really like so I'm glad you decided to do it this way.

Great idea for their honeymoon! :D
thedeadparrotthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, I'm not always all that fond of playing with time-period specific homophobia, and I'm glad you enjoyed this particular take on things. :)
blackbirdbladeblackbirdblade on October 2nd, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
I'm in love with this fic.
thedeadparrotthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
GRITS in Misery: My Muchagritsinmisery on October 2nd, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
You.... *shakes fist* I was bound and determined not to pick up BBC Sherlock as a new fandom, and then my bloody bestest f-listers keep writing such wonderfully brilliant fic (and making great vids, too) that I really have no choice.

*wanders off, muttering, to fall prey to yet another time-sink*
thedeadparrot: batman beginsthedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Haaaaa. Well, I ended up here against my own will, too. And also, the show is short, so you won't end up sucking down 20 hours of episodes in three days like I did with Avatar: the Last Airbender.
azure_horizon: TEXT- winazure_horizon on October 2nd, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was wonderful. A strange, beautiful world these two live in. Lovely :D
thedeadparrot: angel alleythedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! This world, man. I did enjoy living there for a little while. :)
(Anonymous) on October 2nd, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
Mycroft pauses. "I really am pleased, you know. There are times when I suspect you might even be happy." He rings off before Sherlock can tell him to stop being a sentimental busybody.

I actually sniffed a bit here. Mycroft. <3 love him in this fic.
thedeadparrot: badass!roythedeadparrot on October 3rd, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, Mycroft wanders in and steals pretty much every scene he's in by saying awesome things constantly.