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What Am I Doing?
Winter in London - Part I 
16th-Mar-2010 01:25 pm
In response to this prompt, some liberties taken with the specifics. Watson tries to live with the memory of a terrible bargain in secrecy.

Warnings: Emotional aftermath of rape.

Now complete, 21 parts total, 45,300 words.
Winter in London


Sometimes I even wonder if after all he is simply not so brilliant as we have both allowed ourselves to believe. Where are those extraordinary powers of his, that superhuman agility of perception that has dazzled me so often? My friend, the data is before you. You have not seen certain items of my clothing in weeks. A shirt and waistcoat laundered quite two days before the usual time, remain unaccountably unworn in my wardrobe. Other garments still have been destroyed. Why is this? I seek my room at odd times, when the effort of maintaining normal behaviour in front of you becomes exhausting. I have given up harassing you about your seven percent solution or your morphine, as I am no longer innocent of chemical assistance myself. I will leave your favourite poisons well alone, though I confess the appeal is less unfathomable to me than it once was. But I have had to purchase a small bottle of chloral, as sleep is now as precious to me as it is unreliable. I am sure there is more. When did these changes occur? What do you make of them? Apparently nothing.

You see but you do not observe.

* * *

I do not know why I should write as if I wished my friend to discover what I am at such pains to conceal from him. But in honesty, I feel as if I betray myself a thousand ways every instant, whenever I leave the house I expect the dullest of my fellow citizens to detect exactly what has occurred by the merest glance at me. To live with the world’s only consulting detective, a man who can unravel an entire life from the seam of a glove or a scuff on a boot, and watch him continue in apparent ignorance of an event whose memory, do what I will, has taken such inexorable possession of my mind -- it is like living on a knife edge.

Or it is like living in a strange echoing mist in which everything lacks its proper form and nothing is quite real.

I am no actor, as he is. Or I thought I was not. I think I have never been anything but a frank and straightforward person. He sometimes praises me for that, sometimes laughs at me. But somehow each morning, after lying for some time quite weak with dread at the day’s approach, I get up, breakfast with my friend and I listen to his talk; I work on my notes, and all through the day I can hear my own voice, as if from far off - acclaiming him, scolding him, laughing at him - running on as if nothing were amiss. Perhaps it is not so strange, for certainly I do not know how else I should act, or what I should do.

He picks idly at the small wound left on his face and I tell him to stop or it will scar. I do not tell him what it means to me that it should not.

I do not wish him to know what happened while he was bleeding and insensible on that marble floor. But that I should be capable of deceiving him, and he not be capable of cutting the deception at a stroke – sometimes I think I recognise neither one of us.

* * *

It has been snowing again. We cannot seem to get these rooms warm. The cold gnaws on my shoulder and numbs my fingers. Sherlock Holmes lies stretched as close to the fire as he can get like a great lazy cat, and yet even then, even when I am trying not to look at him I notice him shiver.

* * *

There is another interpretation, of course. It may be that he does know, and is too disgusted or too uncomprehending to speak of it. Well, that is much my own view of the matter, so I could hardly be surprised.

>>Part II
9th-Jun-2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
This was rec'd today by
schemingreader, and so far this first part is so beautifully written. I can't imagine how happy that anonymous prompter must be. Wow.
10th-Jun-2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's so nice to see new people starting from the beginning of this, -- I've already thanked schemingreader. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of it.

The prompter does seem pretty happy, which is good, seeing as I really didn't use much more than the bare bones of her prompt and still haven't finished the bloody thing.
17th-Jun-2010 04:43 pm (UTC) - Can I just say..

Not reading it til tonight when I can concentrate but I'm very excited :D
17th-Jun-2010 05:55 pm (UTC) - Re: Can I just say..
ugh, this was supposed to be for the latest part but I guess you've got it anyway now ;) I shall use the excuse that I was trying not to spoil anything for later by not looking at it (which although rather pathetic as excuses go is true)
18th-Jun-2010 03:53 pm (UTC) - Re: Can I just say..
Heh, well I appreciate the sentiment wherever it ends up!
21st-Jan-2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
At the moment I'm going through all those kinkmeme-threads and that's where I found this story a few weeks ago. I tend to skip the rape-prompts because usually they squick me out pretty badly and pretty quickly and I had already scrolled by this one. Then I felt daring and thought "well,let's see how far you'll come, before getting thrown out". But you had me after the second paragraph and I didn't stop once.

Now I'm reading it for the second time, so obviously the squick didn't happen at all and this story is absolutely gorgeous and heartbreaking and wonderful. You are a miracle writer. :-)

There are so many lines I like, I would probaly qoute the whole thing if I tried to point them out...

22nd-Jan-2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much -- what lovely things to say. It's always particularly gratifying when I manage to hook someone who's (understandably!) put off by the prompt and subject matter. I'm so pleased you liked this.
24th-Feb-2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this lovely story. You handled the subject in a beautifully subtle way. I liked how you paced the story--slowly and almost in a pastoral way--but it kept me riveted the entire time. Your characterizations were very sensitively done, too.

I enjoyed this very, very much and hope you will consider doing more like this. Wonderful, beautiful story. Thank you so much. :-)

21st-Nov-2012 07:38 am (UTC) - just started this
Just started reading this and i am already struck by how beautiful and poingant it is. Thank you.
5th-Jan-2013 01:06 am (UTC)
I can't believe I haven't commented here before. I love Winter in London so much, I compulsive rec it whenever and wherever I can.

I had had it bookmarked for ages before I read it, because I had an inkling that it might be very special and I wanted to do it justice. So one evening I sat down with a glass of wine and started reading, and I could not stop for even one second until I had finished. From the very first paragraph you had me completely hooked. It is hands-down one of the best pieces of fiction I have ever read.

Thank you so much for writing this into existence!

P.S.: Would you mind if I created an epub version (for myself, but I could share it if you'd like)?
19th-May-2014 03:30 am (UTC)
I can't believe I haven't read this before, but there you are. I'm so glad you have laid this story out here, as otherwise it would have been lost.
The opening is fabulous. I can't wait to go on.
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