Sherlock walked into the living room one day in late fall, intrigued when he heard John humming an old song as he puttered around cleaning up. “Danny Boy?” Sherlock asked, “Seems an odd choice.” John looked up at him with a bittersweet smile and said softly, “My mum-she loved all of those old sad ballads. She had a sweet voice and used to sing all the time. It’s one of the few memories I have of her. Sometimes something just sets me off remembering her, you understand? Some of us rather enjoy our sentiment.” “I have heard that,” Sherlock answered. ‘No worries.” John continued his task and his humming, unaware that Sherlock was filing away this new information.
Soon Christmas was approaching. John was satisfied because he had found what he considered the perfect gift for Sherlock, and was trying not to be upset by the fact that his flatmate did not enjoy the holiday or shopping and apparently had not done any preparation for it. John enjoyed it though, decorating the flat and coordinating with Mrs. Hudson for a Christmas Eve feast. Christmas Day was reserved for the trek to Sherlock’s parents’ house and the obligatory visit with Harry but Christmas Eve was just for them and their friends. John grinned, pausing in his work to admire his strings of fairy lights, greenery placed on the mantle over the fireplace and ornaments hanging on their sparkling tree.
When the 24th arrived, there was enough food and drink to satisfy a small army, and they celebrated with Molly and her latest swain, along with Mrs. Hudson and Bill Wiggins, who was currently sober and staying in a halfway house while continuing to work for and learn from Sherlock. Lestrade arrived late with a booming voice and an armful of gifts, clearly pissed drunk, full of hugs and kisses and wanting to dance with everyone. He was in a great mood after seeing his children and it was impossible even for Sherlock to stay immune to his bonhomie. They had a happy celebration with a lot of talking, eating, music and games that ran until after midnight, so they ended up calling Greg a cab to get him home safely. Molly and the others took it as a cue to leave as well, and after kisses from Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock and John found themselves alone. John wanted them to sleep in front of the fire; Sherlock called it silly romantic twaddle, but nevertheless helped John arrange a nest of blankets and pillows in front of the grate.
“Well, mate,” John said, “Do you want to have your gift now?” Sherlock huffed a bit, but he had a slight smile on his face as they sat down on the sofa together and John handed him a rather bulky package. Sherlock tore off the paper and exclaimed “Brilliant!” with a surprised reaction. John had found him a cross-body style carry bag in supple black leather with his initials engraved on it, inside there was a selection of lenses and a hand held mini microscope, along with plastic bags, vials, tweezers and brushes for evidence collection, slots to hold case notebooks, and a high-pixel digital camera with the software to run it. “John, this is very nice, I can really use this.” Sherlock commented. John said, “You can put it across your chest and it hangs on your side, you don’t have to worry about losing it or carry it in your hand-should be good for those late night chases you love. If you want I will put some first aid supplies in there too!” “Very funny, John,” Sherlock muttered, “You know I prefer you to patch me up.” John grinned, knowing that it was not too often that he had a chance to surprise Sherlock.
They were sitting companionably, enjoying the fire, when Sherlock said, “Are you ready for your gift now?” “You bought me a gift?” John asked, surprised. “No” Sherlock answered, “I didn’t buy it, but I think you will like what I have for you anyway-sit back and relax, yeah?” Sherlock got out his violin and after tuning it up for a minute launched into the unmistakable notes of John’s sentimental favorite, Danny Boy. John had never heard him play anything but classical, it seemed odd to hear the melody of the old ballad coming out of the strings, but it sounded wonderful. Sherlock played it through twice, but when John sat up and started to rise to thank him, Sherlock put out a hand palm up to say, ‘not yet, there is more’. He put the violin down and started to sing unaccompanied. The beautiful sad words filled the room as Sherlock sang in a surprisingly clear but deep voice-
Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
from glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
'Tis you, 'Tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh, Danny Boy, oh Danny Boy, I love you so!
But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be,
For you shall bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!
(Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so.)
John was sitting there deeply moved, eyes glittering with unshed tears. Sherlock was singing for him! He never knew that his flatmate could sing, but as it turned out, his voice was nothing short of exquisite. When Sherlock finished, he once again stopped John from getting up and said to him, “I have one more for you, John; I think you will like this one too-it should speak to a soldier.” John started to visibly tremble as the words rolled over him; and he felt tears dropping down his cheeks as Sherlock sang:
The Minstrel Boy to the war has gone
In the ranks of death you will find him
His father's sword he has girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him
"Land of song," said the warrior bard,
"Though all the world betray thee
One sword at least thy rights shall guard
One faithful harp shall praise thee."
The Minstrel fell but the foeman's chain
Could not bring his proud soul under
The harp he loved ne'er spoke again
For he tore its chords asunder
And said, "No chains shall sully thee
Thou soul of love and bravery
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!"
John could not speak, he just got up and hugged Sherlock tightly, wrapping his arms around Sherlock’s waist and leaning on him as tears rolled down his face. Afterward he sniffed and wiped away tears and managed to whisper “Thank you, Sherlock that was beautiful, I will never forget it-I am so thrilled that you learned those for me and sang for me! I love you so much.”
He took Sherlock’s hands in his and then took him down to the nest they had made in front of the fire. John made love to Sherlock tenderly but passionately until they were entwined together and crying out their release beneath the twinkling fairy lights.