Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Changing Ships in Montenegro, a fanfiction departure

"But the romance was there. I could not tamper with the facts."
"Some facts should be suppressed, or at least a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them."
-- John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, from The Sign of the Four

Budva, in technically Yugoslavia, 1926

"'This tangled skein!'" his wife cheered, and Sherlock Holmes smiled. He knew that her eye for detail would pick up his nod to Watson's A Study in Scarlet. She flipped to the next page of the slim, leather-bound volume with all dispatch. As her eyes devoured the remaining pages, a few random comments came as well: "That's what he always sounded like!" "I wish I'd have been there when you got it!" "That's the end? What about . . ."

Sherlock gently put a finger to her lips. "Even after so many years, I think the good doctor would be quite cross with me if I sent on a romance to Doyle. You don't know how unmercifully I chided him after his infatuation with Mary Morstan, and those hand-holding segments of the Sholto novel."

Maudie laughed. "You have always been such an absolute shyte to poor John."

She liked to curse in a Scottish accent, arguing that it seemed more like proper cursing that way.

"And to me as well, you beast. 'Maud Bellamy will always remain in my memory as a most complete and remarkable woman.' In your memory?"

"Well, you were a remarkably memorable woman. Still are, on occasion." Holmes grinned in that way Watson had never quite captured in his text. Probably because he never grinned at Watson that way . . . at least that Maudie knew of. Those two were quite the chums.

"The only memorable time you're about to get is a memorable smack on your memorable head," Maudie Holmes had a good eighteen years under her belt when it came to dealing with Sherlock, including that American stint before the war, and she knew how to deal with all of his moods. During their week at the little seaside resort, he'd been at quite the randy end of the lot. And another randy end as well.

"Watson and I were in Montenegro once, just prior to the turn of the century," Sherlock said at last. "He had a bit too grand of a time and had to desert me for a wife eventually, when the bill came due for that bit of indulgence."

"That's where . . . ah!" Maudie's laugh bubbled up. "You boys and your secrets. I'm sure it had to do with a case you promised not to ever tell the world about. Which brings me back to this lovely anniversary gift. What made you think to write up the story of how we met?"

"Oh, Doyle was at the Watsons house, and he was telling this tale of being approached by a woman who claimed to have lived in Sussex as a child and had gone on many adventures with me, which she had recorded in great detail . . . some details of which actually caused our old friend to blush upon the telling. But Doyle's little tale made me think that the world should at least know that I had met that rare flower of Sussex whom not even the cold thinking machine Sherlock Holmes could not escape."

Maudie opened the book, found the page she wanted, and read aloud, lowering her voice to its huskiest tone:

"'There was no gainsaying that she would have graced any assembly in the world. Who could have imagined that so rare a flower would grow from such a root and in such an atmosphere?' . . . Really, Sherlock, I thought you liked Sussex . . . 'Women have seldom been an attraction to me, for my brain has always governed my heart, but I could not look upon her perfect clear-cut face, with all the soft freshness of the downlands in her delicate colouring without realizing that no young man would cross her path unscathed.' . . . You were hardly that young. But were you actually so overwhelmed by my beauty, or is some of this a latter day revision?"

"My hand to your heart, dearest," Sherlock said and laid his hand across my breast. Which really told me nothing about the statements he had written, but more about the "statements" he was about to "write."

The Ever-loving Montenegrin End

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