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Title: Ex Libris Veritas
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Category: Romance
Rating: PG-13
Beta: The wonderful [ profile] verityburns
Word count: 1472
Translations: Into Chinese by Lowtension available here.
Summary: In which John unintentionally reads great literature, has an epiphany and gets some unexpected, but very pleasant, results from it.

Everything in the flat is still. There isn't any sound from the street. I can hear only the patter of the rain against the window panes. A subdued light comes from the lamp near John's armchair and from the flames in the fireplace. All is quiet, calm, peaceful. It should be hateful. It is not, for John is here, in his armchair in front of me. He's drowsy and does nothing particular, he just gazes at the fire, yet his presence changes everything. I am settled in my own armchair in what John calls, with what seems to me a hint of tender mockery at which I should probably take umbrage, my thinking pose. Supposedly engrossed in deep reflections, I observe him surreptitiously, an occupation which is a source of endless delight.

He's completely relaxed, his eyes are half-closed. He's had a long and hard day at the surgery. Soon I'll take him off to bed; he'll protest he's not that tired but he'll let me. It's still early but it doesn't matter. He needs to sleep. He'll sleep and I'll hold him close; I'll listen to his breath; I'll feel the weight of his body on mine and his warmth on my skin. We've been sleeping together for only a few weeks but I've found that I need that, feeling him against me, more than I need sleep. In the meantime I look at him curled up in his seat, his eyelids heavy with fatigue, and I find the sight adorable. Since when do I find anything adorable? Since when do I even use the word 'adorable'? I suppose I should worry about that. I couldn't care less. The things he makes me do!

All at once he looks up and his eyes meet mine. Hell. Caught in the act. I attempt to pretend I'm gazing into space but he smiles at me and I can't help smiling back. Every time he smiles at me I can't help smiling back. It is a little annoying. I wonder if, one day, I'll cease feeling this surge of tenderness on seeing the tiny wrinkles that appear at the corner of his eyes when he smiles. 'Tenderness'. Another word he brought with him.

John stretches, yawns, lazily picks up a book from the pile on the floor beside his armchair. These are not our books, they are exhibits that I borrowed (although Lestrade, the quibbler, would probably use another word) from Scotland Yard for the case I closed yesterday. The cover says The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ah, I know it. Contrary to what John thinks, my knowledge of literature is not nil and the fact that I've never read it, and only heard of it because the author was at the heart of a renowned criminal trial, is absolutely irrelevant. John browses through the book, reads a random passage here and there. A few minutes pass. The rustling of the pages is strangely soothing. I feel ridiculously content.

Suddenly John frowns a little. His eyes sharpen. Something he has read has caught his attention. I wonder what it is. He smiles, his expression softens. Then he opens his mouth and what he says and the way he says it, with so much simplicity and fondness, is so unforeseen that I am taken aback.


He jerks his head up, looking as surprised as I am and slightly self-conscious. I can't blame him. That was... unexpected. Did he really say what I think he said?


What a nice evening. Quiet. Comfy. I know Sherlock doesn't really like this kind of evening, but I enjoy them because they're rather unusual. I'd enjoy this one more if I weren't so tired. Mesmerised by the flames, I fight off sleep. I should go to bed but I’m too snug to move. I suddenly feel Sherlock's gaze on me and I look up. He immediately tries to put on a supremely detached expression and fails completely when I give him a smile. My sweet fool.

Hoping to wake up a bit, I take a book. I think I read it a long time ago. I idly skim through it, running my eyes over the words without really seeing them, until the moment something starts to bother me at the edge of my consciousness. I have the vague feeling that I overlooked something, something important. I go some paragraphs back and I reread the text more carefully. There. That’s the sentence I noticed subconsciously. I read it again with the confused impression that it's intended for me. Its real significance sinks in through my weariness and all at once I understand, with an absolute clarity, how much the words apply to my life and all that they mean to me. I read them over, and it's only when I hear Sherlock's voice that I really come around and realise that I read aloud. Bugger.

Sherlock seems a bit stunned. So am I. I can't believe I said that out loud. It's not the kind of thing I'm used to saying. It's so... sentimental. Sherlock scorns sentimentality. He loves me, I know that. He tells me so and he loves it when I tell him but this... This is a little over the top. And I don't dare imagine what I looked like when I said it. I can already hear Sherlock's sarcastic comments and I feel I'm blushing a bit, which adds to my embarrassment. For God's sake, I'm not a bloody teenager any more.

Sherlock is still staring at me. “John, what did you say?”

I squirm a little in my armchair. Well done, John, another very grown-up reaction. “Nothing, never mind, just something silly from this book, never mind.” I put the book back on top of its pile and get ready to stand up. Sometimes fleeing is the best strategy. “I think I'm going to go to bed, I don't know what I'm saying any more.”

Before I've even stopped talking Sherlock gets up. He comes to my armchair and kneels down between my legs. He lays his hands on my thighs and his blue-green-gray gaze takes hold of mine. Just try to resist that.

“John, please.”

Oh well. I can't fight. Best accept defeat with a good grace. It's only a bad patch to get through. Sherlock will poke fun at me and call me an idiot but it's not as if I weren't used to it.

The curves of your lips rewrite history. That's what I said. Now you can laugh.” There's a silence. Sherlock doesn't laugh. On the contrary, he looks very grave and doesn't take his eyes off me. I gulp. Damn it. I take the bull by the horns. “It's a silly way to say it, but it's true.” Sherlock lifts his hand to his lips absent-mindedly and brushes them with his fingertips. I giggle. “It's not only about your lips of course, although they are gorgeous and outstanding and, er... Well. It's...” I vaguely wave my hand in a gesture that embraces the whole of him. “It's you, who you are... You rewrote my history. I was so... Then you came, you entered my life and now it's so... You make me so... What I’m trying to say is...”

I've been far more eloquent and articulate in the past but it doesn't matter because at that very moment Sherlock reaches out, puts his hand on my nape, pulls me towards him while leaning forward and kisses me fervently.

Oh. Right, then. It’s an unexpected result but it's no less enjoyable for that and I try to make the way I kiss him back more meaningful than my words. Judging by the little pleased sound Sherlock makes, I think I succeed.

When Sherlock breaks the kiss I'm smiling like a fool but he seems a bit troubled. “John, you know... What you’ve just said... I... I too... Even if I don't say it, I...”

He too has been far more eloquent and articulate in the past. I rest my thumb on his parted lips, which reduces him to silence straight away, and I gently caress his lovely Cupid's bow. “I know. Don't worry. I know.”

His eyes brighten and he smiles. For a few minutes we stay there, motionless, our heads close, Sherlock's hands cupping my face, my thumb still stroking his lips softly, looking each other in the eyes. I feel head over heels in love with him and perfectly happy about it. Then Sherlock gives a slight kiss to the pad of my thumb, gets back on his feet in one smooth movement and holds out both his hands to me.

“Let's go to bed.”

I let him pull me out of my armchair and towards the bedroom. Funnily enough, sleep is now the last thing on my mind.

Author's note: I wrote this story for [ profile] arianedevere's birthday; she's lovely and doesn't fuss when her friends muddle anniversaries. Ahem.

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