So I've been on an absolute tear with respect to writing, which is nice because those fallow periods can be SO long. Anyway, most of the stuff I'm writing isn't being posted just yet because it's either (a) for Sherlock Remix or (b) very long and in need of betaing. But this little ficlet can be!
About eighteen months ago, I wrote a ficlet from a Fall Fandom Free-for-All prompt for always-a-girl Mycroft. In that story, I gave her a crush on Harry Watson, which I fully intended to be requited. So here at last is the next piece of these two as teenagers, part two of what I'm calling my "String of Pearls" series. Thanks to the fabulous kate_lear, who betaed this despite having several more legitimate claims on her time.
"Chips and Sweets"
Mycroft had no real need for anything stocked at the chemist shop – the bright colours of hair dye and nail varnish were unappealing, condoms grossly unthinkable – but desire meant that she lingered when she'd been dragged there by classmates after cheap costume jewellery that would surely turn their skin green. The girl whose nametag read "Harry" was straightening shelves of shampoo and Mycroft left off eyeing the dubious jewellery and headed for the nail varnish. Clear varnish would not draw undue attention, and was accepted by the school code; she could always pretend that she needed the aid to break a fingernail-biting habit. Mycroft slid into place, shoulder nearly touching Harry's, eagerly drinking in the heat coming off her.
Harry's nails, she saw with one sweeping glance, were ragged and bore a thick stripe of chartreuse that exactly matched her shirt. Closer up, she could see that the indigo eyeliner caught the deepest shade of her multifaceted eyes. Harry looked up from her sorting and smiled. "That brand at the end smells like jam," she offered, her tone conspiratorial. Her rolled eyes felt like a shared secret. "Not jam anyone would want to eat, but still."
Mycroft felt a laugh bubbling up her throat, taking her by surprise. "What is the value of jam-varnish?"
"I couldn't tell you the value of a single thing in this shop, except maybe the paracetamol and bandages."
"Why do you work here?" Mycroft asked, suddenly desperate to hear something real.
"It's quiet, it's clean, and the chips from the shop across the street are the best I've had." Harry looked right at her and smiled. "You must have some pocket money saved up. Buy me some chips and I'll get the ice-creams?"
Mycroft looked around and listened for a moment, recognising that all of her classmates were chattering amongst themselves, wholly occupied with their own concerns. "When is your break?"
"Let's go now," Harry said, giving a sign to the other girls working.
Harry's slim fingers were quick, picking out the brownest chips in the cone unhesitatingly; Mycroft was put in mind of a magpie searching for jewels. "They know me here," she confided; "they know how dark I like my chips."
Mycroft smiled at the regularity of the motions with which Harry brought each salty chip to her mouth. "May I?"
Harry smiled and laid the cone flat between them so Mycroft had more access. "So proper," she said, only slightly mocking.
"So pretty," Mycroft said in exactly the same tone, and was rewarded by a quick flutter of eyelashes and an involuntary flush pinking Harry's face.
"No," Harry denied, seeking assurance nevertheless, her breath quickening.
"Oh, yes," Mycroft said firmly and felt her own throat quiver at her daring.
Mycroft was never eating ice-cream again. Her mouth was so cold, her tongue so overwhelmed by icy vanilla, that the heat of Harry's rose-pink mouth against her own was the most fleeting of dreams. She could see that Harry's eyes were closed and her eyebrows arched as if she were puzzling out a conundrum. "Yes," Mycroft said again. "You are, you are," her lips buzzing as sensation slowly returned to them. It took her longer than it should have to remember how exposed she and Harry were, tucked against the side of the chip shop. She kept seeing flashes of chartreuse as Harry's hands wandered freely through her hair or along her suddenly ticklish sides. The flavours of Harry's mouth, spiked with salt and sweet cream, abruptly began registering against her thawing tongue, and Mycroft's eyes closed without her consent. Harry was undeniable, here in her arms, more delicious than any fantasy she'd spun.
She felt like a glutton, still greedy after the sweetest treat. Harry broke the kiss and when she opened her eyes, they were cast down; Mycroft felt that her next breath would not be worth drawing if she couldn't make Harry look up again with that pert expression. "S'pose that's it, then," Harry mumbled, more withdrawn than Mycroft could remember seeing her.
"My break's over," Harry said, pushing her hair back gracelessly, looking everywhere but at Mycroft.
Harry's chin was soft in her hand. "Harry," she began, only to have her twist free.
"Tell me your name, if you meant that kiss," Harry asked.
"Mycroft Holmes," she said immediately. "Kiss me again, if you meant it."
Harry's grin was dazzling as she threw herself back into Mycroft's arms.
There was a drop of ice-cream marring one of her cuffs, she saw as she walked back through the school gate. Even the cleverest detective couldn't have deduced Harry's existence from a small spot of white on Mycroft's blouse, but to Mycroft, it spoke volumes.
Harry's thumb wore a plaster, imperfectly stuck so that the adhesive kept catching at the bottles of shampoo she was shelving. Mycroft pressed her own fingers to her mouth, kissed them, and laid her fingers on Harry's. "What happened?"
"Table tennis. I smashed it against the edge of the table, and my brother insisted on wrapping it up. He's a bit of a pest, that one," Harry said, her fond tone belying her words; Mycroft wondered how she'd think of Sherlock if they were still under the same roof. "Then Dad said since I could stand a bit of pain, there was no reason I couldn't get my ears done. Look!" She pushed back the thick waves of her lovely hair to show Mycroft a small golden stud in her earlobe. "I could do yours, if you like?"
Mycroft knew quite well that Father was certain to disapprove, but she let herself imagine the moment as if it were a possibility: Harry's nimble fingers first holding an ice cube to her earlobe and then wielding a needle, Harry's soft cheek just near her lips, Harry biting her delectable ruddy lip in concentration. Mycroft raised her hand to smooth Harry's flyaway hair back. "I mustn't."
"Oh," Harry said, her face falling.
"But they suit you," Mycroft said. The bell over the door rang out and she eased back from Harry by a single step, standing at a respectable distance by the time a woman with very strong perfume came barrelling into their aisle.
She wanted to tell Mummy, to have her as a confidante about this, but it was too much and too little to set down on paper. Seeing Mummy in person would help, as Mummy had always known just from looks and body language and attitude what Mycroft was worrying over, but there were no hols for weeks.
Right. She had things to plan. If she gave up buying unnecessary things at all future excursions this term – including ice-creams and assorted sweets – she'd have enough before heading home to stop at the shop that sold really nice costume jewellery and buy Harry a proper pair of earrings: something that glittered dark blue, like the flecks in her hazel eyes; something to set off the rose-leaf flush of her skin.
Something she would wear even when she wore nothing else.
Mycroft caught her breath at that and put away her French conjugations. She tucked an errant lock of her lank hair behind her ear and reckoned her savings, smiling as she counted each penny.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.