“This is probably the most inappropriate office holiday party in the history of office holiday parties ever,” Katniss says, eyeballing the tacky array of Hawaiian shirts and sailor skirts and coconut bras. “This doesn’t even make sense.”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if we lived in the Bahamas,” Finnick points out, sucking his spiced eggnog through a straw. A nonsensical pink umbrella garnishes the cup. “Or Australia even.”
She looks at him and his outfit. He’s one of the idiots dressed in a coconut bra. “But we don’t,” she argues. “How did HR even approve this?”
He shrugs. “It’s after hours. I don’t know. Also, Cato’s a creep.”
He’s not wrong about that. Cato Steele, CEO of Steele and Associates, is a giant sleazeball. She has no doubt he organized this holiday party to feature minimal clothing just so he could ogle all the half-naked female associates at the engineering and architect firm.
Katniss made sure to dress conservatively, in a black A-line dress with a red cardigan and gold sparkly heels. Tropical theme be damned. It’s 30 degrees outside!
“I need a drink,” she announces, and Finnick salutes her as she stalks off toward the bar. She asks the bartender for something called a Naughty Rudolph and waits, drumming her fingers on the bar.
“Where’s your holiday spirit, Everdeen?”
She closes her eyes at the voice behind her and takes a deep breath. “I’m the only one who’s even dressed appropriately for this damn holiday,” she retorts, turning around to glare at her least favorite coworker.
Peeta Mellark flashes her a droll, lopsided grin and points to the Santa hat on his head. “Wrong, like always, Everdeen.”
She rolls her eyes but can’t stop them from flicking down the length of his body. She’s not prepared to see him in a surfer tank top that showcases his unbelievably broad shoulders and muscular arms. His orange board shorts are slim-fitting, and despite his stupid flip flops, his calves look amazingly fit.
She quickly looks away to grab her drink. “You look ridiculous,” she tells him.
“Really? Is that why you look so flushed?” he says mockingly, and she grits her teeth before forcing a bored, unconcerned laugh, looking him square in the eye.
“No, I’m flushed because I’m embarrassed I work with such idiots,” she says, capping her insult with a haughty swig of her drink before flouncing off in search of Finnick, or somebody, literally anybody else but Mellark.
The thought makes Sherlock feel giddy and anxious and impatient and raw all at once, and he can’t stop smiling. He’s going to ask John to marry him. He’s going to ask John.
He needs a plan. The logistics are overwhelming; there are a dozen different details to account for and every single one of them creates a million exciting and beautiful and nerve-wracking combinations and possibilities.
Sherlock doesn’t know much about doing this. John does; he’s done this before. Planned this sort of thing. Sherlock tries not to think about that. He had heard most of John’s proposal, years ago, and it had been awkward and resigned and horrible and he had wanted to save John from it. He had thought he was, actually, by interrupting just at the pivotal moment, but John is nothing if not bullheaded.
God, Sherlock doesn’t want a repeat of that. Nothing like that. The exact opposite of that.
They should be at home, he thinks. Being together here has been the hallmark of everything good in Sherlock’s life, and he thinks in John’s, too, and they should be here. 221B is the foundation of the life they’ve built these last few months: their phoenix rising from the ashes of the past.
Sherlock stops pacing around the sitting room and looks over the flat, taking in the details and deducing a shared life in all of them, a casual chaos of this-goes-here and these-go-there that they both know and navigate easily.
He’s got an experiment spread out over the kitchen table, half a dozen petri dishes filled with gravel samples, and there’s a picture of Sherlock smiling like he’s just eaten a lemon cut from the newspaper taped to the back of the microscope. “So I can actually look at you when you’re talking to me,” John had teased, and Sherlock had been a grump about it but he hasn’t taken it down because it makes John smile over breakfast.
Behind him, the desk is cluttered with old newspapers and papers and receipts, and there’s a stack of books on the floor by the door which is almost half as tall as John now and still growing. On the bookshelf John’s collection of old British Medical Journals are mixed up with Sherlock’s copies of Biomaterial Science, and there is a jumper of hotly debated ownership with a stretched out neck tossed over the arm of the sofa.
In front of the fireplace, their two chairs are pushed closer together than normal; Sherlock had scooted his forward the other night so he could prop his feet up on John’s lap and sneak them under his blanket. John’s book sits on the side table, with a tissue being used for a bookmark shoved just a little under halfway through, along with a half a cup of old tea John had abandoned in pursuit of discovering just how sensitive Sherlock’s feet really were, and what exactly Sherlock could do with his impossibly long toes.
The skull on the mantel is wearing a Santa hat, and taped to the mirror above it are a handful of Christmas cards they’ve gotten in the post. John saves the ones that are addressed to both of them and hangs them up like a proud parent, like having John & Sherlock written inside them is something they have accomplished.
Sherlock wants to ask John to marry him in front of them. He wants these cards, with their John & Sherlocks and Sherlock & Johns, to stand witness along with the messes of their everyday lives when he asks John if he might commit to a lifetime of unambiguous ampersands.
He’ll stand right here and wait by the window for John to come over to him, maybe playing something on the violin. At night, it has to be at night–maybe Christmas eve, maybe Christmas night itself, with the room lit by just the lamp in the corner and a fire, hushed ambers and reds, and John brilliant in the gold light and a cardigan. Sherlock will play something soft and romantic, and eventually John will come over and trail fingertips along Sherlock’s waist in the way that means it’s unbearable to not to be touching anymore, and then Sherlock will take both of John’s hands in his, and kiss him as gently as Sherlock can possibly manage, and he won’t get down on one knee, no. They’re equals in this. He’ll have the ring out of the box already and tucked into a pocket, and he’ll just slide it into John’s hand, and he’ll say–
“Sherlock? You home?”
The flat jolts abruptly back into mid-morning sunlight. Sherlock clears his throat and tries not to blush furiously, the vision of proposing to John still lingering at the edges of his mind. In the kitchen, the real John tosses his keys onto the table and sets a couple of grocery bags down, then he looks around and spots Sherlock in the middle of the sitting room, still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, and the grin that splits his face looks like it almost hurts it’s so big.
“You look cosy,” John says, curious and perhaps a bit suggestive, but Sherlock can hardly hear him over the noise of his heart beating so so fast from where it’s fluttering in his throat–John is here and flesh and blood and real and Sherlock is going to ask John to marry him, and suddenly the reality of it is hammering against his ribs and he can barely stop himself from blurting out the words right then.
John comes over and pecks his cheek, dipping one hand under his t-shirt and stroking at the delicate skin between Sherlock’s hip and ribs. “All right?” he asks when Sherlock doesn’t respond, just stands there staring at him like a fool as John’s grin starts to fade with concern, and then Sherlock comes back into himself.
“Yes, fine, I just–bit of an odd morning,” Sherlock says, and he gives a quick kiss to John’s mouth. John’s grin returns full force, and they trade one more kiss before John leaves off and goes to put the shop away, scolding Sherlock for the bowl of calf brains in the fridge because Sherlock didn’t put a proper lid on it, and Sherlock wants to smile and scream and laugh, because this is their life, this is their mess, this is the mish-mash sum of all their parts, and he’s going to ask John to marry him right in the middle of it.
He’s going to need a ring.
Day Four: Christmas Cards
Pop by every day during the 25 Days of Fic-Mas at 3:00 pm EST for the next installment, or follow along on AO3!
Josephine worrying about everyones health when winter comes, getting them all garrish sweaters and baubly knitted hats and fur boots for going outdoors and fluffy slippers for indoors (because how dare they dirty up the floor with their boots! And holy maker Lavellan, aren't your toes cold?!) , and those gloves that are just one finger and a thumb. Leliana takes everything in stride and Bull is really into it for some reason. Dorian secretly likes it but refused to admit it.
The hat had holes for his horns. Holes. For his horns.
It even had handy little buttons so he didn’t have to finagle it around their massive breadth. He just snapped it on in the mornings and, voila! No more cold scalp. He had no idea where it had come from, who had given it to him, but he appreciated them more than he could say. There was a matching scarf, too, and fingerless gloves, all knit from the softest, warmest woolen fibers he’d ever encountered. They were patterned with red made to mimic the geometric vitaar patterns worn by Qunari soldiers, perhaps not entirely accurate, but, damn, did he appreciate the thought.
He wore them shamelessly whenever he stepped outside, and he’d never felt so snug and warm. If only he knew who they were from so he could thank them properly. He didn’t often receive gifts, but when he did, he liked to show his appreciation.
It confounded him for days (several warm, cozy days of bundling up in the mornings and being able to stand the cold for once), and over those few days, he saw others bearing the mystery knitter’s work:
This fic (which you can also read on Fanfiction) was written for the “birthday” prompt on Jily Week. Also, thank you so much to everyone who liked/reblogged my actual, real notes that were found in Lily Evans’ fridge! It means so much.
Word Count: 1,141
January 30, 1976
Lily’s eyes darted around the Great Hall, her cheeks burning. Where were you supposed to look when your friends sang you the birthday song, anyway?
“Blow out the candles,” said Sirius in a sing-song voice.
“Make a wish first!” said Peter.
Lily closed her eyes. I wish… I wish for… that jumper I saw in the catalog Mum brought home during the winter hols. It was her birthday. She was allowed to be selfish, wasn’t she?