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What Am I Doing?
Winter in London - Part XI 
25th-May-2010 02:53 am
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X


Having rejected alcohol and ruled out cocaine, I sat down still pathetically clinging to my violin as a child might clutch a toy in the dark.  For a moment of perverse ingratitude  I wondered sullenly how far I had my celibacy to thank for what seemed as if it might possibly be my friend’s acceptance. A chaste invert is doubtless a less alarming creature than one who proceeds with the courage of his convictions.

But soon I began to reflect that it appeared I had been,  for nowhere near the first time, incredibly fortunate in my one friendship. I leant my head against the back of the chair feeling dizzy and weak.

“Are you wanting to play something?” he asked, glancing with apparent amusement at the bow resting across my knees and the violin lying on my lap like a cat.

“No,” I said expressionlessly, leaving them where they were.

He searched for and found my carefully stocked box  of cigarettes and remarked pensively, “Actually, perhaps it is not so very surprising.”

Another mad-sounding laugh escaped me,  “Watson, do not frighten me. If it is obvious then I am in very grave trouble.”

“I don’t mean I had ever guessed it before, you know that.”

“But in retrospect it is all too plain? That is not reassuring.”

Watson flushed slightly. “What I mean,” he said slowly, “is ...  what, really, have you told me?  Not ten minutes ago I mentioned indiscretions of my own, and at the very worst I feared you would mildly disapprove.  It seems  unjust you should have to suffer so much more anxiety over something so similar.”

He lit a cigarette and passed it to me.  Putting it between my lips I felt  a pang of  awareness that it had just been between his, and of what I had not told him.

“You think it similar, do you?” I asked – and I don’t know why I said this sardonically, it must have been defensive instinct.

Watson sensibly ignored this, and sat down on the footstool by the fire.  “Holmes. Forgive me. For days I have snapped at you and worried you and then I round it all off by goading you into telling me what was none of my business. I am sorry.”

“Watson,” I said, dragging on the cigarette and beginning to recover some degree of composure.  “That is the one thing I must forbid you to say to me.”

Watson smiled at me briefly, then sat and smoked in silence. Lately silences between us have seemed to strand us miles apart,  but this felt as familiar and steadying as the tobacco smoke in my lungs and the contours of the violin under my hand.

At last he  tossed the butt of his cigarette into the fire and said quietly,  “I don’t think he is the same way.”


“Gilfoyle. I expect he has done something of that sort before. To someone. But I don’t think he – prefers men. Not ... not as willing partners.”

I would never have wished the conversation we had just had – if it had to happen at all – to involve Gilfoyle, and Watson’s too-plausible inferences about the man were horrific. And yet,  I had dreaded the possibility of that association settling in my friend's mind more than anything, and I was more relieved than I can easily express to hear it was not there.


Watson said, “ I think the point was more..."

“Cruelty,” I said.  “Subjection.”

He sighed. “Those are as good  words for it as any.”

I wished I had waited for him find his own words for it, for this was more than he had ever said about the experience before. I said, “I interrupted you.”

“I don’t know what else I would have said. Humiliation.” His face contorted suddenly and a tremor  went through him like a spasm. He covered his face with one hand and said, “I can’t...”  

“My dear fellow,”  I said helplessly.

Watson  shook his head  and made a thwarted gesture, apparently baffled at his own distress. “Really, this is absurd.  I don’t know why it should continue to make such a difference to me, after all this time.”

“It has not been very long at all.” I wanted very much to take his hand or squeeze his shoulder, and after what I had just told him, I did not feel that I could.

Watson, however, reached and gripped my hand where it rested over the violin. “I told you I couldn’t speak about it,” he said. “But I have done, in a way.”

“What way is that?” I whispered.

Watson said, “I wrote it down.”

>>Part XII

25th-May-2010 04:14 am (UTC) - Simply magical...
That last line actually gave me goose bumps. Your writing is so glorious it produces an actually physical response. Love it.

All I want is great characterization. That's what can be new; that's what can be fresh. And you give it in spades.

And emotional/conflict resolution! Why is this a lost art? TV, books, movies... they throw the world at you and just leave it at that. But *your* central conflicts are looked at, examined, turned over, and confronted. I am reading in suspense again! And with troubles that center at the core, the heart, of characters. Not world turning events but focused agony and love and strength. The meat of real literature.

You have put me in a haze of reader's bliss. Yes, I love the main idea and plot, but your writing...just continually blows me away. You can barely buy this kind of writing anymore, so the fact that I am reading it for free is just absurdly wonderful.

My only complaint... I want pages that go on for days. ^^Bless you for existing.
28th-May-2010 11:22 am (UTC) - Re: Simply magical...
It is lovely to be blessed for existing! Thank you so very much. *is beatified* And I am so glad you still like this, I was once again quite worried about this bit.

I do think this level of focus on emotion (and almost nothing else) needs the supporting structure of "the world" of, in this case, Sherlock Holmes not to just collapse into sheer wallowing. In original fiction, you'd need to supply that support somehow. But, ultimately, I do love to root around in the lovely juicy feelings.

(Heh. Mind you, just as I was thinking, oh, but you couldn't string a whole plot around the reaction to trauma in original fiction, I've remembered my first serious attempt at fiction was all about three friends flailing around in angst in reaction to a suicide, with a tortured pair of BFFs and kind of (fem)slashiness. Oh God, I've always been like this! Mind you, there's a reason I don't show that one to people!)
25th-May-2010 06:42 am (UTC)
Magnificent! I love this story so much! Your writing is a joy to read. The care you put into crafting this fic is so impressive. Beautiful work!
28th-May-2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! ♥
25th-May-2010 07:31 am (UTC)
Awaiting the next chapter.
28th-May-2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Hopefully some time over the weekend, or Monday.
25th-May-2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh I just caught up on this.

Give me a few hours to collect myself after all of that GLORIOUS TENSION AND ALL THE THINGS LEFT UNSAID AND THE EERRRRRRRGH.

I can't decide if I love you or hate you for what you are doing to me. THIS IS SO WONDERFUL.
28th-May-2010 11:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! Well, not if you hate me. But I think you probably in fact don't, so ... yay! ♥
26th-May-2010 03:32 pm (UTC)

I had been anticipating this conversation so much, and it's so... *shiver* it's amazing how you make us feel the character's emotions. Really it is. I'm all melty over Watson being so unprejudiced, and the part where Holmes guesses what happened with the prostitute and just seeing Watson laugh at last, and Holmes all jittery over the indirect kiss (dawwww), and omg now Holmes knows about the account of the event but there's no way Watson will want him to know what he thought of, and... and...

I'm... yeah. You're wonderful.
26th-May-2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
oh, and also you might want to put a link to part 9 at the end of part 8 for the people who only join us now and dorks like me who can't seem to stop re-reading
27th-May-2010 06:41 am (UTC)
Oh god, oh god, I've just read this whole story all over again. This is absolutely brilliant, your writing is impeccable and giving me, like, literary orgasms. I can't wait for more.
28th-May-2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you! It's lovely to hear it stands up well on rereading!
28th-May-2010 02:47 am (UTC)
Oh my. This is stunning. I've just read it all in a single go, and will now anxiously await the next chapter.
28th-May-2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Shouldn't be too long until there's some more.
28th-May-2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
(I'm really, truly useless at leaving comments because I never quite know what to say when something has such an impact on me. I'll try anyway.) This is so well written and I absoutely love the way they're so slowly adjusting to all these revelations. The fact that it's not a quick or easy process is so right as is the way that even when they make progress it can slip so easily. And, of course, their emotions and thoughts are brilliantly communicated. Those last few lines were just amazing - oh, Watson. I love this :)
28th-May-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't call that one useless! That was lovely. Thank you very much. Oh and I need to comment on your latest, which I adored.
28th-May-2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
You know when you're reading something and you realise it can't possibly conclude in the existing chapters and you have a little internal tantrum? well I hit that at the beginning of chapter 11 :D I'm so glad you posted it here, I remember reading the first chapter on the meme and because I'm terrible at remembering things never went back to check it had been updated - I blanch at the thought that I would have missed out on such a well written, heart wrenching, yet oddly heart warming story. I do hope you'll continue, I love how your writing is so consistent with the era and the characters and oh everything *pops straight into memories*
28th-May-2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
Hee - yes, I know that feeling, and I'm sorry! Maybe I haven't marked it as WIP clearly enough. I'm really glad you found it again - thank you for commenting. And I will continue, barring RL disasters! Not going to let this bugger beat me now.
28th-May-2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Indescribably well-written (many of your turns of phrase - too many to list here - made me gasp out loud in admiration) and emotionally literate. And I believe (albeit not from the perspective of a survivor) you should have no fear that you have treated the central subject distastefully or exploitatively. At no time did it seem voyeuristic, one only ached for poor Watson and longed for him to be able to get the help he needed.

*eagerly awaits more*
28th-May-2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I do still worry about it a lot, but in a way the worry was part of the appeal - "Now, can I do this?" I'm glad it doesn't strike you as exploitative.
(Deleted comment)
28th-May-2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
I got your earlier message and pretty much ran around sans head in a state of OH MY GOD KATIE FORSYTHE READ MY FANFICTION. (I'm sorry, you must get this a lot). I love your stuff! You have influenced me no end! Especially when writing Holmes!

The premise - I really wanted to see if it could be done - if one could construct a situation in which such a thing could plausibly happen, and then go through the consequences carefully, a bit at time and not cut away at any of the convenient points, and not tip over into garishness or whatever.

So thank you so much for reading and commenting here!
29th-May-2010 08:54 am (UTC)
Beautifully written and framed, you have the tone so perfectly. I loved reading! :D
30th-May-2010 03:42 am (UTC)
Obviously, I need to get over to the kinkmeme more often, because I had somehow missed this until now. *smacks forehead in dismay*

Simply put, this is exquisite. As others have noted, it's such a lovely, restrained take on the aftermath of what's happened, and so very them, that I'm absolutely riveted. Loved the image here of Holmes clutching his violin like a security blanket, blundering through his confession wide-eyed and terrified, like he's jumping over a cliff.

And Watson's quiet acceptance... *sigh* Just beautiful, and spot-on in a way that's immensely satisfying to read.

I do regret not stumbling across this sooner, but on the other hand, I've just spent a lovely Saturday evening catching up :)
30th-May-2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Well I'm very glad you found it! Thank you so much.

It was weird, this scene went through quite a lot of rewrites - it took a lot of beating poor Holmes to get him to talk in a way I found credible, and in earlier, fragmentary drafts he was going to have been playing when the conversation started. But when I decided that wouldn't work I still couldn't get the image of him hanging on to his violin for dear life out of my head.
21st-Nov-2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
That first paragraph is going to rip Holmes' heart out with rusty razors and stomp it on the ground. His mind is all he has. He should have seen this sooner. He failed. Concussion or no concussion. I'm scared for my Holmes.
Watson- don't go sharing your therapy notes to people! Those should be burned.
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