A ring. How long had every interaction with the man been tempered by one ring? All of his impulses checked more than normal - interactions he kept as staid as possible. “Never give all the heart” - the one thing he had learned from his father. He was used to his personal wishes going unacknowledged, it was an indisputable fact of his life, but denying this wish came with more pain than he had expected. It was not just a ring - that was the whole issue. A polished ring, one which the man in question rubs unconsciously when nervous or worried. A ring with emotional attachment. A solid band in more ways than one. Of course, the Jezebel did not see it as such - how she could throw away such devotion was beyond him. A strand of gold encircling his finger, claiming him for as long as it remained there. Then now - a pale circle on his finger, stark against his bronzed skin, telling of a divorce, of giving up, of slowly falling out of love. Hope grew in his chest - a peculiar warmth at the idea that one day this man would be ready to love again. The chance, however small it seemed, that he could be seen as a potential suitor for him.
The bronze faded and the lighter skin tanned and as time passed no evidence of the metal bond remained. Slowly, tentatively, he shifted his own orbit - meetings slowly became afternoon tea and over several months Sherlock was no longer the sole, or - indeed - in many weeks not even the main topic of conversation. They lingered over tea and conversation that was the most innocuous and entertaining he could remember having. Whilst previously he would have deemed it impossible it seemed that his feelings had grown stronger with closer proximity. The warmth in his heart grew and he found himself returning to the poems and sonnets he had devoured in his youth. He found truth in “For love, all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room an everywhere” - which he had eschewed in the past for more secular poetry and then to no poetry at all. Even cafés and offices narrowed down to being the most wondrous place he could be, with the world erupting outwards amid conversation, laughter and love. He had feared, had been told, that he could not love and yet this man, ringless at last, had stirred up tender passions and emotions that he had only dreamed of.
Months turned into years and two lives began to merge as one. This was love. He loved and was loved in return. Afternoon tea became dinners and nights spent together - two lives slowly intertwining into something he could only see as eternal. Life seemed more manageable somehow with someone to come back to - someone who understood him so viscerally. Slowly, carefully, another life slipped into his house - items appearing throughout making it into a home. He fell, again, back into poetry whispering to his slumbering lover, “That I did always love, I bring thee proof, That till I loved, I never lived.” Absently he had begun to trace the circumference of his own ring finger - not the one that symbolised the shackles and defences of his work but the unmarked one. His hope had grown and been fulfilled before - so why should it not again? As two lives merged into a unified entity, he found that love did not change and dominate but instead freed and comforted. Love was not a weakness.
It took but months before the man wore a ring again, another solid band. But this ring, this was his and served to prove their mutual devotion. They both found comfort in sturdy circles of moonlight placed gently on two ring fingers. Placed with affection, love and understanding. Placed after months of soft sighs, kisses and two lives intertwining. Following the unlocking of his heart and the love of his love. Now they are united together in way which is beyond casual. In the middle of life he finds his unwavering supporter, the man who opened his mind and his heart. And now, and now, he and him are bound together and it is true that - “Both of us, of the love of which makes one.”