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Title: And Ye Shall Live, And Ye Shall Know
Recipient: [personal profile] navaan (prompt)
Author: [personal profile] marta_bee
Beta: [tumblr.com profile] Aristofranes
Verse: Ritchie Films
Characters/Pairings: S. Holmes/J. Watson/M. Watson
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Explicit Sexual Content. Mild Bondage. Religion both as kink and substance. Entirely excessive amounts of French and anatomical terminology. Polyamory. For all that, not actually PWP. (How much of this counts as warning or advertisement, I leave to your discretion.)

Summary: Holmes craned his neck back, tried to meet her eyes so she’d know what he knew. *That* he knew. He suspected his sincerity would be doubted just then, in any event.

She leaned up again, worried his earlobe with her teeth, whispered so only he could hear: “We’ll have none of that. No pleadings, no penance. You are beyond such attempts on your own behalf. Luckily for you, we are not."


Slap to the ear, effect negligible. Elbow to the solar plexus, blocked; attempted kick predicted and answered with a foot round the ankle, forcing the other man to step back off-balance. Really, they were playing with each other; or around.

Then Girard landed a clever punch to Holmes’s upper-left abdomen, his hand turned to spare his knuckles but the fleshy underside of his hand’s heel doing nearly as much harm with an upper-jab into the diaphragm. A surprisingly efficient move for a man who clearly knew little anatomy. Now they were moving, or Girard was. That last-minute thrust caught Holmes off-guard, left him dazed and gasping for air.

Girard grasped his advantage with both hands. Attempted overhand to the clavicle (deflected), then quick jab to the left humeral epicondyle (landed, but anticipated). Holmes answered in kind, or tried to: bolo to right pectoralis major, and the ribs beneath (mitigated by a quick step back); clinch and underpunch to the liver (a wasted attempt, given the man’s girth). Stupid; he was grasping for straws, striking with no semblance of a plan, and Holmes knew it.

In years past, Holmes might have at least countered that last move - was sure he’d have avoided the blow to the gluteus medius that turned his whole torso to the side. But he was winded, and tired in more senses than the one, and in any case the sharp kick to his off-weight knee was hardly sanctioned by Queensbury Rules. Folly to expect that, at Le Coq Lubrique, but old habits did die hard. So Holmes found himself flat on his back, the ringing in his ears and the judge’s bell ringing overhead as well, marking the count, almost before he’d realised he’d lost his footing.

He bent his elbows and pushed up, groaned at the sharp pain; clearly he’d overestimated the effect of the earlier bracing. Would have, should have hoisted himself to his feet and played out the match. But then he caught sight of the young woman standing just beyond the bar, behind the bevy of Angolans. Her costume was hard to miss, as an honoured sister of Le Bon Secours certainly had no need to enter such an establishment; the stark black habit and veil, white cap with the identifying white frill, a beacon of light even in the poorly lit recesses of the room. And her necklace a beacon of another sort entirely to thieves and brigands, pearls, diamonds, flawless rubies –

(The revelation hit him like a new blow as the judge’s bell tolled ten: the jewels above a governess’s means but not a doctor’s wife, perhaps given in a fit of sentiment as parting gift for loyal service. “Take Watson – “ “ – I intend to." …. )

Holmes let his head roll back against the hard-packed floor, as if to ease his whirling thoughts. Again, in years past he’d have welcomed her to the ring, put on a special show just for her, and laughed over her ridiculous costume over a glass of wine and a tumbler of scotch after. But in the wake of Reichenbach, he was not (strictly speaking) meant to be alive, and she certainly could not know, could not be so near where any snake in the grass following him might strike first at her.

No. This must be a mirage, or worse: the Great Mind driven by sheer desire at last to psychosis. Or something more organic. Had that clap to his ear somehow maligned his brain? He closed his eyes, breathed deeply, opened them again. Chanced another look and saw her again, now nodding politely at one of the Angolans, telling her some story doubtless meant to make her blush. (Best of luck with that!) But there was no ringing in the ears, no double vision, no queasiness as he pulled himself to his feet, shook Girard’s hand in recognition of the bout well fought, and he made his way back to the bar to collect the drink owed him, win or lose.

He took a long pull at the whiskey, wiped away the sweat collecting in his articular disk before retrieving his shirt and jacket from its hook along the wall. Chanced a brief nod at the door leading out into the courtyard, finished his drink and slipped out into the night. Waited in view of the street, to see if his strange vision would follow him into better light.

“Your brother certainly is well-schooled in the art of disguise." So not psychosis; even his fevered mind would never call up thoughts of Mycroft beyond necessity.

“You learned his lessons well, Mrs. Watson," Holmes answered. “’To disappear in plain sight, draw their attention to an obvious fact, and they will remember little else.’ Which worked well enough inside, but there’s the – “He turned around to see the headpiece and white bib removed, rosary that had hung at her hip now in hand. She looked less like a nun and more like a woman in the stark mourners’ garb. Not a particularly fashionable one, the dress less fitted than even the more conservative English fashion would allow, but the new façade would serve.

“There’s the – ?" Mary prodded.

“There’s the rub. You can hide behind the attention, in a crowd," Holmes answered. “But if you’re to walk with me, I cannot afford such notice. I see you’ve accounted even for that, though. Well done." A part of him yearned to touch his hand to her face like Thomas’s fingers to Christ’s wounds. Or to question her, gather his data about the events of recent months. Was Watson here? Was he well? Had they been bothered, at all, by Moriarty’s old associates since their return to London (some had been swept up after Reichenbach, but certainly not all)? And perhaps most pressingly – given the swell of her breast and, more subtly, under her stomach, the way she held her coarse habit some distance from her no doubt tender skin – had she gained half a stone in the most improbable way imaginable, or had Watson at last bedded her properly?

But he knew enough to know this was not the place for long conversations.

“We’ll never find a cab here at this hour, as you well know," Mary chided him as she hooked her arm in his, guiding him out into the street. “But perhaps at the main road?"


Holmes pushed his wrist out against the rosary wrapped twice around his hands, wincing at the sharp pain that shot up his arm. Tendonesis, the good doctor’s wife had diagnosed, either a relic from Switzerland or the French exertions like those she’d witnessed that night. She couldn’t say, nor could John. Couldn’t? Wouldn’t? The good doctor seemed ill-inclined to take full assessment of his tumble over the Falls, even all this time after, beyond the most basic proof that, yes, bone and breath still dwelled as one.

Nor could he pinpoint the injury’s cause, Holmes chastised himself. Should bloody well be able to say. He’d been there, after all. Would be able to, if his hindbrain weren’t currently swimming in endorphins. Because the wrist did hurt, but wasn’t that a wondrous pain, with Mary’s steady hand along his flank, her newly full breasts against his trapezius, his teres major, her fingers tracing the vein along his palm and into the small of his injured wrist, moving a new bead between thumb and forefinger as the knotted rope slid over the scaphoid bone. And Watson’s, John’s, his John’s, their John’s, welcome heat below him, a calloused thumb along the iliaca externa

Always the soldier, Watson, and of too many campaigns. He might not have wanted comprehensive knowledge of the harms Holmes had suffered (inflicted) at Reichenbach, but this living, embodied testimony of life’s perseverance, of shared blood and breath? It was almost sacramental, and thus not to be shirked.

“Use your words, Holmes," Watson instructed him. Holmes blinked at that, confused, and Mary pressed his fingers more firmly together, against the knot. Ah. They were meant to be praying. Yes. “Or shall we start again?" Watson prompted.

Holmes found the presence of mind, somehow, to shake his head in denial, bear down on the knot, anchor himself in the focum it provided. That was optics, not anatomy, much less theology: the divergent light rays reflecting off the object, converging at a single point on the retinal wall with the information they carried. Not grit on the lens, but three becoming one.

“Hail Mary – “ Holmes smiled at the irony (or the appropriateness, or appropriation) of that coincidence, then rutted back almost in reflex as John’s other thumb traversed his coccyx. Over the bulbospongiosus, transversus perinei, inferior pubic ramus, and then – Holmes straightened himself, relaxed back into Mary’s embrace and matched his breaths to hers against the nape of his neck. “By Hell, Mary." Then more properly: “Hail, Mary, Marie pleine de grâce: your lords are with you – “

Mary swatted at him for the cheek, then of a sudden hoisted him up, offering a brace against thighs quivering with overexertion as John positioned himself under him. They had done this part before, and in a great enough variety to know just what the others needed. Now, this night, it was the criss-cross of John’s and Mary’s fingers along his hips, holding him up, guiding him down, helping gravity do its work as John slipped further and further in, Holmes’s own hands still bound helpless behind him.

They fell back, Mary and Holmes, into the pillows piled against the headboard, in a happy coincidence changing John’s angle just enough, not quite there but if that wasn’t a promising trajectory ….

But it was Mary who next changed their course. She positioned Holmes’s bound hands against her, shifting his torso in the process, rolled the palms out a bit (now mindful of the damaged wrist he’d been so careless with earlier) so his hand was positioned between her thighs, rose up a bit on her knees and sank back down so he rubbed against her (she rubbed, for the agency was hers), angling that quick-witted little bundle of nerves against the pad of his thumb. “You were foolish," Mary whispered against his ear. “To come to London, to come into our house and leave your little note on John’s typewriter. You’re clever, God knows, but you’re not invisible. You might have been seen, and then where would any of us stand?"

Holmes craned his neck back, tried to meet her eyes so she’d know what he knew. That he knew. But John chose that moment to move beneath him, within him, against him, and Holmes’s body turned its full attention to those other stimuli. He suspected his sincerity would be doubted just then, in any event.

She leaned up again, worried his earlobe with her teeth, whispered so only he could hear: “We’ll have none of that. No pleadings, no penance. You are beyond such attempts on your own behalf. Luckily for you, we are not."

“I never would have marked you as one for Total Depravity. Calvinist?" he asked.

“Catholic," she corrected him, as though the name, the fluency in the monastic way and the liturgy of the Rosary, hadn’t given that much away. “And before there was Luther, we had Augustine."

John leaned over them both, nearly dislodging himself in the process. “If you two can debate theology, clearly I am not doing my job properly."

“You only have so many hands, dear," Mary said, and if Holmes could not see the mischievous sparkle in her eyes from his current position, he could certainly hear it in her voice. “Trust in one currently subjected to Holmes’s every gasp and paroxysm: his body is well occupied, and I am seeing to his mind even now. As for me, I’ll do for a while yet."

“As you will it, Mrs. Watson," the other answered, and this time Holmes had full view of the good humor played out between them. Mary reached down, traced her way down the brachial artery of Holmes’s arm, along flexor carpi radialis and digitorum superficialis, until her fingers rested just above the beaded rope at his wrists. Moved it along toward the cycle’s completion (she could feel him shuddering between her thighs, certainly, could hear his breaths grown shallow, knew even his stamina could not last forever). “Again," she said as she raised him up, angled his pelvis to set them back at their previous course.

Hail, Holy Queen," Holmes let out with an unrestrained groan, “Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness our hope. To thee do we cry ….


Later, when Mary dozed between them, Holmes maneuvered his way out of his bonds, laying the relic on the mattress between the Watsons. John took it in hand, ran the beads through his fingers with an indulgent smile for Holmes before laying it on the side-table. His other arm still laid on top of Mary’s abdomen, a protective ward around the swell now plainly visible under her thin linen shift.

“She wants one of yours, too," Watson said languorously. “A Holmes to match the Watson that shall soon make his august entrance into the world." He frowned. “Or hers. Though for yours, it had best be a girl." Holmes raised an eyebrow in question. “A third Holmes man? Pity London, otherwise." He smiled wickedly across the bed, then, and Holmes offered a softer, almost wistful smile in return.

“You should both come with me to Morocco," he said after a moment’s pause. “They are not nearly so priggish when it comes to numbers and holy matrimony."

That earned a proper chuckle. “You do realise they typically allow for one man to multiple wives?"

“I will not be held accountable for their lack of imagination. And I am owed a rather large favor by a man with three goats."

“And I know a man in Kandahar with seventeen goats, three dairy cows, and an opium field beside who would gladly do us the honour. Somehow I doubt the Yard would be most struck by his wealth, should the story reach London."

“Yet you are willing to risk a little Watson running around with hair dark as India ink."

That earned him a knowing smirk. “Mary saw the photograph on your brother’s mantle, in Chichester," Watson said. “At your grandmother’s farm, he said? He was balancing a basket of tomatoes on his hips while a determined four-year-old with hair white as spun silver stomped at a bucket of grapes."

Holmes turned away in a huff, rolling his eyes so high a less anatomically-informed observer might think he was trying to see inside his skull. “I was four at the time. I hadn’t yet learned they sourced the wine from grapes further south. And it was quite fun." Then turning to face Watson again: “Certainly you don’t think my parents such fools as to name a little me, as I now look, scir-lock? White-headed?" He shrugged. “Genetics can take an odd turn, sometimes. It darkened some with age, and chemical enhancement did the rest: a combination of walnut husks and para-phenylenediamine, one of my earlier experiments."

“You like it," Watson said.

“Well, it did serve for effect," Holmes admitted. “Is that how you found me in France? Because of the photo?"

Watson shook his head. “It was your assistance planning our wedding, if you’d have the truth. You displayed an obscure knowledge of the floral species common to this province, even for you, when we were choosing arrangements. Some revelers passing through Dover mentioned a boxer they’d seen in Calais, with a peculiarly scientific approach to his matches. Mary remembered the flowers, and so thought it worth the trip."

Holmes thought to explain about his grand-mère’s farm and the summers spent tending the apiaries, about the theory he’d had at age nine on how different varieties of pollen might affect the taste of the honey, could he only prevent cross-pollination. But that hardly seemed important, just then. Instead he grasped on to the last statement. “Mary. She guessed it, but you did not."

“I had no need to," Watson answered. “Your brother would have torn Reichenbach apart to its foundations until he found some sign of you, unless he knew why there was no sign to be found. But you clearly wanted your survival a secret, so I held my peace." He pressed his lips together, and Holmes felt the loss of humour between them as the chill in a room after the fire burns out. “You’d built a wall between us, one that could not be easily razed," Watson said at last.

Between John and Mary, he’d meant, but between other us-es as well. “Watson, I really should say – “ Holmes began, but Watson silenced him quickly.

“You really shouldn’t," he said, shaking his head with finality. “No Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, no expectations of absolution. Do not make a liar of me, at least." Do not ask me to name this behaviour reasonable, permitted, in my own voice, the words hung unsaid between them, and Holmes could do nothing but nod agreement. Watson looked down at Mary’s belly, then, and Holmes’s hand reached out to meet him there. “And none of that," Watson added, “the thrill of the macabre, as you put it, that drives you to reckless ends and risks a noose round all our necks. Will you promise me that, at least?"

Holmes felt the tension pulse through him, felt his hand go rigid in Watson’s grasp. Do not make a liar of me, mon frère. The words plucked at his mind, on the tip of his tongue, but against all expectation he held them back. Watson squeezed his hand, bringing Holmes’s focus back to him, and shook his head at Holmes’s obvious misapprehension. “I said reckless. I can no more keep you from downing ethanol or jumping out of windows to chase down alluring clients, than I can stay the moon in its orbit. Nor am I keen to try. You would hardly be you otherwise. But, Holmes – “

“So that’s why you came here," Holmes said. “To – what, precisely? Tempt me back to London with a good round of buggery? Or the promise of a bairn on the knee at Sunday dinner?"

“Oh, do be quiet, both of you." Mary blinked the sleep out of her eyes, looking up at them. “Hello. And don’t be an idiot, Sherlock. Of course we want you back, in the babe’s life and ours as well. London has been so dull these last months, and I speak as a newly-minted wife who should be – has been," she added with an apologetic look at her husband, “thoroughly absorbed in her husband’s attentions. A husband who may claim he knew all along that you were safe and sound, but who worried until he worked the pieces out, and a husband I’d like to see spared the same in years to come. But I – we – we fear for you. We covet your own life for its own sake, first and foremost. Surely there’s a balance to be had?"

“So restriction it is," Holmes said, recalling their conversation all those months ago. “Armageddon."

Watson reached over, tucking Holmes under the chin. “Structure. Rebirth. The promise of a family. Who wants to die alone?"

“You speak as if I ‘died’ in a fit of pique," Holmes said bitterly. “I did have my reasons for aiding Professor Moriarty’s rapid departure, and following him in kind. Those necks in the noose you seemed so keen to avoid a moment ago."

“Which is why we’ve truly come," Mary told him. “To see you again, and send you off properly. And to give you a bit of information that even the great Sherlock Holmes could not deduce from thin air."

“Mary’s worked it out properly," Watson said, “with the help of the Yard’s cryptographers."

“That notebook you sent back from Germany," she said, “The code may be ingenious but beyond that it’s no more difficult to read than a set of household accounts. Any woman could manage it.

“His operation enjoyed receivables from any number of interested parties," Watson explained, “but in terms of outlays, there were only four associates he employed with any regularity. Two were captured at Reichenbach. Gyaltsen and Smythe remain: a smuggler in Buddhist reliquaries rumoured to be working out of Lhassa, and an arms trader running maxim guns from Marseilles to the revolutionaries outside Algiers."

“You can either go study with the lama in Tibet, or else you can go play pirate," Mary added with a smile. “What an unfair dilemma to impose on you. And when they are settled, London shall be as safe as you choose to make it; or no worse than before, at the least."

“Twelve weeks to infiltrate Smythe’s operations, perhaps," Holmes mused aloud. “And another two to settle things there." Noticing the amused look on their face, he added, “Of course the pirates come first. Lhassa will be the greater challenge, but Gyaltsen is well-established, and he won’t move his operation quickly. And as I can pass for an unscrupulous gwei-lo, recently unemployed: something will present itself. In time." He took Mary’s hand in his, raised it to his lips for a kiss. “It will be a year. Perhaps eighteen months. No chance of Irish twins, I’m afraid."

Mary looked over at John, puzzled and then scandalised before finally settling on humour, laughing at them both and rapping her hand across Holmes’s knuckles in mock-chagrin. “You are a rogue and a villain, Mr. Holmes, but that we’ve known from the start. Return as and when you can, so long as you do. Then we shall see."


The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? […]

Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you; and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

(Ezekiel 37:1-3, 5-6)


For Navaan, who requested Holmes/Watson/Mary, “competent characters with clever deductions," post-Reichenbach stories, and “Holmes being the one impressed by other people’s skills." Because Kelly Reilly is such a brilliant Mary, and really does deserve a chance to shine. Thanks for the chance to play in this sand-box!

The French should be largely self-explanatory in context, and I won’t translate it all here, except for one point: Le Coq Lubrique translates as “The Lusty Rooster." The
shout-out to the BBC fandom was, in the end, irresistible.

Finally, with apologies and/or gratitude to the priests who taught me all I know of French and Catholic theology. I’m not sure any of us imagined it would be put to quite these uses, but I secretly suspect Fr. K. at least would approve. This jab at Luther is for you.
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