Content Notes: Retirementlock, Hurt/Comfort, nightmare, references to crime scene violence
Summary: In Sussex, Holmes's old fear surfaces.
Author's Note: For the Older Not Dead prompt: your dreams are trying to tell you something. And the May prompt: flowers. Plus, photos of the flowers that inspired the fic.
“Few such as this, Constable.”
“I didn’t do it,” says an elderly man in a suit jacket that looked a hundred years old. “She paid the errand boy to put fertilizer in my stew last spring. I almost died. And now this.” He sighed. “She’d have slit her throat if I hanged for it. And that’s just what she’s done.”
The man recoiled. “My wife’s a saint. She was a neighbour. All our lives”
“Constable, this blood, though considerable, is old. And the body, too.”
“Two weeks. She kept herself to herself. No one ventures this far off the main road. Let’s go, Mister Anther. Your feud with the deceased was well-known, if never-spoken. Look at that. Running for the door, she was, but where was she going to run to?”
Where was she going to run to?
Irises for message. Evening primroses for inconstancy.
And red columbine for—
I wake, heart pounding. I ease out of bed, careful not to disturb my snoring companion. Wrapped in a dressing gown, shod in slippers, I shuffle to the back door.
I peer into the darkness, ears straining, until a voice behind me says,
“Watson, do you remember the affair of The Copper Beeches? The scattered houses meant beauty to you, but to me, only isolation and impunity for crimes committed therein.”
You sigh. “My only consolation is that you must be somewhat rested. These first days we’ve been too busy and too fatigued with the unpacking for your anxiety to surface. And I’m certain that the story that the lady who runs the lending library told us yesterday contributed.”
I stare, shudder. “Is my dream trying to tell me something, Watson?”
You press yourself to my back, curling your arms around me, and kiss my cheek. “Perhaps a sliver of something.”
“But what shall we do?” I ask helplessly.
“We shall get to know our neighbours and our neighbourhood, such that it is. We shall keep ourselves as alert and our new home as guarded as is prudent.”
“Perhaps a dog?”
“Perhaps a dog.”
“And we shall rest safe in each other’s arms and wake to the simple joys that this rustic life of ours affords. We shall pursue our curious hobbies in leisure and peace. We shall nap.”
I close my eyes and slump against you, allowing in your warmth and calm seep into me and still my trembling.
“I shall endeavor to keep your fears at bay.”
“As only you can. But this garden, Watson. Iris for message. Evening primrose for inconstancy—”
“I am ripping out the red columbine in the morning. Anxiety and trembling, no. How about an arbor of climbing roses, instead? I’ve seen a lovely specimen called ‘New Dawn.’”
I took his hand in mine and squeezed.