So, my weekend involved some, err, unplanned adventures that involved an apartment door that didn’t want to open on top of an ill-planned grocery trip. (Note to self – that surgeon imposed weight limit is there for a reason, yo. Do not try lifting a bag with 2 2-liters, a case of canned soda, and all your canned goods at once up a flight of stairs again, huh?) As a warning? Slamming your shoulder into a door in aggravation does not, in fact, force it open and it also really doesn’t feel very good, especially the day after. All this is to say, my weekend *hurt* and I’m a few days behind in posting, so days 2, 3, and 4 will all go up, in quick succession, today.
Aren’t you glad now these are all bite-sized bits of nonsense?
The second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
I spent the better part of Boxing Day at the library, reading over anything to be found on juniper trees and juniper berries, hoping to find something of note that might explain the arrival of a sprig of it on my pillow. While I discovered that overconsumption of the berries, especially certain varieties, could cause ill effects, and that, like most evergreens, the needles provided a pleasant scent, particularly when tossed into a fire. None of this seemed helpful in sussing out the reason behind the odd and anonymous delivery.
I returned to Baker Street stiff from several hours hunched over library tables with a headache brewing between my eyes. Anne left a note in the kitchen that she’d popped off for tea and conversation with the members of her sewing circle – a group I doubted did much in the way of sewing during most of their meetings – and that there was plenty of sliced beef in the iced box for sandwiches to tide us over. Watson, despite the holiday, had a steady stream of patients that kept him tied up even beyond my return. The sound of tiny dragging feet approaching, and excited feet retreating served as backdrop for the majority of the remainder of the afternoon.
Watson emerged from his office sometime past five, sleeves rolled to his elbows and his collar unbuttoned, wearing a look of well-earned exhaustion. He flopped quite unceremoniously into his armchair and dropped the back of his head against the sculpted edge of the cushion. “I should set a limit on days such as these,” he said, rubbing that spot between his eyes.
“If for no other reason than to spare your supply of lollies.” I looked up from the twin books spread in front of me – one a Greek dictionary, the other the book Mycroft had sent. “How many did you go through by the end?”
“All of them,” he muttered before raising his head. “On our own for dinner, are we?”
I glanced at the clock above the fireplace and chuckled. “Likely. I have the shocking thought that Anne will be stumbling in quite past a respectable woman’s curfew, giggling wildly and in need of assistance to her room.”
“Who knew sewing circles were such dens of iniquity?” Watson rose, taking the time to twist and stretch until something low in his back popped. “Shall I see if I can scrounge up something at one of the locals? I’m not quite ready for more duck, to be honest.”
“Does sit a bit in the stomach if one indulges in too much of it.”
“Indeed.” A few steps took him to the coatrack for his outerwear and hat, and the cane hanging next to it all. Then, he crossed over to drop a kiss on the top of my head. “Pray that the weather is warm enough it’s not all frozen before I return.”
“I’ll prefer it if you return unfrozen, personally.”
“I shall do my best.” He winked, then took his leave. I listened to his footsteps as they descended the stairs, then waited for the sound of the door opening and closing behind him. I moved to the bay overlooking Baker Street and watched his slightly uneven gait carry him along the sidewalk, lacking much of the exhaustion of a few minutes earlier. He leant forward just a bit, battling the cold wind that blew along a light but determined snow.
I returned to my books and was still staring at the same few words I’d been fighting with for the majority the afternoon when I heard the bell at the door. I gathered a shawl from the hook to ward off the chill and a cricket bat out of perfectly acceptable paranoia before descending to the ground floor and approaching the door. Upon peeking out, I saw no one on the stoop, but two moderately-sized boot prints in the more-recent snow pointing to someone’s presence. As I moved to shut the door, I also spied something hung from a bit of twine fixed beneath the edge of the number plate – another sprig of juniper, this one playing home to two small birds folded out of white paper and poised carefully amidst the needles.