Well, here it is, it's been a long time coming, especially with writer's block dropping by and staying in my brain for the past couple of weeks, but here it is, the final chapter of our story. I want to thank you all for coming and for taking the time to read it, no matter how crazy it is. For now, this is where we say goodbye to our beloved characters, but who knows, I might end up writing a sequel when the third film comes out, whenever that will be. Anyway, it's been a pleasure going along the ride with you. And I'll see you all again very soon.

I open my eyes what feels like moments later, a shiver travels throughout my entire body and I swear my heart stops beating for a few seconds. I turn my head to the sky, snow comes down in big, fluffy flakes, the kind that look like cotton balls and catch on your tongue; the next thing I feel is someone stirring in my arms and I look down to see Sherlock staring up at me through heavy-lidded eyes. The mere sight of him normally sends pleasant feelings coursing through me, but seeing him so deathly pale, purple bruises and nearly blue lips makes my soul ache.

"You saved me," he says, sitting up carefully, bringing a hand to his head and then groaning.

"I recall you saving mine a hundred times before, now it's time for me to return the favor." I take his face into my hands and bring my shawl to use as a splint for the shoulder. I feel somewhat guilty doing it, especially since it's bleeding more from being clawed and punched, but it's not as if I'm ever going to be wearing the dress again anyways.

"Though I can't say his bark is worse than his bite, but unfortunately it's not."

John bursts through the doors, rushing to his best friend's side, just as he did in the ruins of the old factory, and in an instant, hauls him to his feet. I stand on the other side and already, as we walk toward the entrance of the ballroom, I feel him beginning to topple over. The sooner we get back to the cottage, the better.

"Where is he?" asks John, looking around the room frantically for Moriarty, "he didn't escape did he?"

"He went for a swim," Sherlock replies, gladly welcoming John's aid. "Well, that's the end of it, I suppose. There's no way he could have survived the fall, and I don't think I would have, either if it weren't for Irene; she pulled me up at the last second. Who knew she was that strong."

"A spur of the moment," I say modestly, "and besides, you're practically lighter than a large sack of potatoes. When we get back, I'm going to see if we can get you a good meal fixed up and put a little bit of weight on you, no doubt Mycroft will insist on it, too."

"Either way, I'm just glad you're safe," John says, "I don't think I would have been able to live with myself if anything happened to you."

"Don't look so downhearted, Watson, everything is fine, it's over now."

Mycroft, Carruthers and Simza are in the nearly empty ballroom, the orchestra and the other guests fled from the chaos. All sign of festivities are being stripped away by the staff; the boughs of holly which hung from the railings are taken down and put into cardboard boxes, pieces of shattered wine glasses and champagne stains are swept and wiped down; all traces of the feast are gone, too, though I wonder what will be done with the food that no one ate. It would be a shame to waste it all, maybe they could give it to the people who are currently starving in the streets.

My thoughts are interrupted by someone's hand slipping into mine, he still looks like the man I fell in love with, his short black hair tumbles loosely down his forehead, one piece hangs over his right eye. I shift a little and use my other hand to tenderly brush it back without getting my fingers caught in it. A fond smile crosses his features, but it must have hurt the split on his lip, because it fades a little.

Much later, as we walk down the stairs, a great sense of relief takes over me and suddenly, I begin to laugh and he looks over at me, astonished at first, then nervous, then amused. It's over, it's finally over.

Nodding, I watch the three of four of them set off into another carriage behind us and through the trees we ride, passing the same endless landscape of ice and snow, as well as the waterfall where Sherlock nearly plummeted to his death. I can imagine the coldness of the water, like a thousand knives carving into every inch of his skin. How he would have died instantly from the shock. My grip on his hand tightens and I move over closer.

"The safest course of action would be to wait here a couple of days," says Mycroft once we get back, "at least until the storm dies down, and then we will board the train to London. I've sent a telegram for Mary and Tamas to join us. And Miss Adler, your aunt will be here soon as well."

John is grinning so widely, that it's stretching all across his face and I can also see the glimmer of relief and hope in his eyes, knowing that his beloved wife is safe and sound.

"Hopefully, once everything is straightened out, the two of you can have a proper honeymoon without any interruptions," I say, glancing over my shoulder as I pass him.

"One can only hope," he laughs and then glances over at Sherlock who slumps his shoulders.

"No promises," he says and then goes up the stairs without any trouble.

The only thing that troubles me are the tears running down Simza's face, she keeps her eyes on the ground, as if trying to prevent anyone from seeing her cry. I can relate to that.

It doesn't take us long to get back to the cottage, and once we do, Stanley is there to greet us. I shrug my coat off; in case you are wondering, yes, us ladies brought coats with us in addition to the shawls because there was a high chance that we would freeze if we didn't.

John exchanges a brief greeting with the butler and then turns around. "First things first, Holmes, let's get you taken care of." He leads Sherlock away from the hall and then up the stairs and as much as I want to be up there with him, I know that he's in good hands with John and hopefully he might be able to get some rest.

Just when I think he can't get any worse, someone has to come and bruise him all up again. Frustrated, I stand at the bottom of the staircase as the two men disappear behind the large, wooden door.

A few minutes later, Simza and I sit together in the living room; there are no words exchanged between us, just silent glances. Sometimes that's all it takes for us to understand each other. It feels like we've always been friends, even though we don't cling helplessly to one other, as most friends do.

A tray of tea is brought into the room and she picks it up in her shaky hands; she is this close to breaking completely. Her eyes go wide and the tears stream openly down her face. I want to tell her that it's alright to cry and she knows that.

There is a pile of parchment as well as a piece of charcoal on a desk, so I take it over to the sofa and then amuse myself by trying to draw. I may or may not have mentioned this but I can't draw to save my own skin. I apologize to you, dear reader, I tend to forget whether or not I say some things or not, you're welcome to ignore and overlook this tiny flaw, but I hope I'm not annoying you.

But I'll tell you anyway that I certainly did not inherit my father's talent for art. He had drawn countless sketches of my mother when she was young. In one of them, she's wearing nothing but a blue diamond pendant and looks like it could have belonged in a museum alongside the Mona Lisa.

My attempt at the male anatomy is an atrocity; the wind whistling outside sounds like laughter and I take it as my father laughing at me. I stop drawing for a moment to look out the window.

"Give me a break, this is my first try in years." Even if my aunt had decided to pay for me to have an art tutor, I don't think I would have succeeded. The eyes are completely wrong and disproportionate, and I'm not even going to mention how I made the lower half look.

Crumpling it up, I toss it in the rubbish bin and then take another sheet from the pile. It's a tedious process and I'm this close to throwing in the towel and giving up, but this time it seems to be turning out to look somewhat decent, that is until I get to the chest. I've made too many ribs.

"One more time," I tell myself after ten attempts. I've almost used the whole pile and nothing good has come out of it. How come I have memorized him so well that I can picture every detail but when I draw him, it just looks like a half monkey half man?

This is the one. It's much better than all of my other sorry attempts combined.

"It looks just like him." Looking up, I see Simza sitting in the chair in front of the fireplace. I must have been so focused that I've completely forgotten that she was there. This is the worst I've seen her, bloodshot eyes, tear-stained cheeks and all the fire in her has been completely extinguished.

"You should have seen the other ones." She digs her hand into the bin of paper and pulls out one of the crumpled up pieces. "I gave up halfway, that's why only his top half is drawn and not the bottom."

"It's better than anything I could have come up with; René was the artist in my family. No one taught him, or anything since we couldn't go to school anyhow, but he picked it up on his own."

"You may not be an artist, but you're a wonderful dancer." She looks over at me and sighs, leaning over closer to the fire. "I know you miss him, that's one of the downsides of being close to someone, it hurts when you lose them."

I didn't expect Simza to want to talk about her brother, especially because the pain is too fresh and we're not the kind of people to sit in a circle around the fire singing and talking about our problems, or maybe she trusts me enough now to confide in me.

"I'll stay with her a while," John says, and I look up, seeing him much more relieved, "I've taken care of Holmes' injuries, he's in bed if you'd like to see him."

Nodding, I take her hand giving it a reassuring squeeze and then make my way up the stairs and seeing an open door in the hallway, I see Sherlock lying on the bed, his face turned up toward the ceiling.

"Ah, there you are. I'm so lonely that I've been counting the cracks between the shingles on the ceiling."

"And how many have you counted so far?" I expected him to be pacing the floor, or something like that, but seeing him actually listening to Doctor Watson's orders is a rare sight.

"Seventeen. I only just started." He shifts a little bit and then pats the spot on the bed beside him.

"Are you feeling alright?" I ask, gladly obliging. I am so exhausted after today's events that I could actually fall asleep right now. "I know it's a dumb thing to ask because I already know the answer, but-"

"It's fine, I couldn't be better, actually." He grins, then moves some hair out of my face. "You've had something to eat? You should see if there are any biscuits. Knowing Mykie, he definitely has a supply."

"It's enough seeing the starving children roaming around London, some of them are so hungry that their arms and legs are like thin little twigs and they'll eat the food that everyone else has thrown away. To think that if we spent money on taking care of those people instead of wasting it on useless military weaponry and machinery, half of the world's problems will be solved."

I turn to see him staring at me with such a strange expression, that it makes me wonder what he's thinking. Without warning, he sits up and then kisses me and I feel the passion radiating off of him and when he pulls away, a smile hovers over the corners of his mouth.

"What was that for?" I ask, starting to put my hair in a braid.

"I just asked you if you wanted a biscuit, I didn't think you would turn it down," he replies, laughs and lies back down with his arms behind his head.

"Turn it down?" Pouting a little, I grab the pillow behind me and then lightly thwack him, bursting into childish laughter. His mouth drops open in shock and it takes him a moment to recover from the unexpected action, but once he does, his face goes back to its neutral expression.

"What are you doing?" He asks. "Why are you hitting me with your pillow?"

"It doesn't hurt that bad. Haven't you ever heard of a pillow fight?" I explain. "Hmm, perhaps not. I used to have them all the time with my friends as a girl. Well, that is at slumber parties my aunt would let me go to once in a while. I wasn't allowed to have them at my aunt's house, though. Our pillows were kind of fragile, and the feathers would go all over the place."

"It's been a while since you've seen her, hasn't it?" He asks, propping his chin up on one elbow, "I'm sure she's missed you."

"Maybe. I've hurt her, a lot. I'm surprised she even accepted the invitation." A trickle of guilt enters my mind and suddenly, I feel my playful demeanor leaving almost instantly.

He appears to get the point, then he starts to look cheeky, swiping the pillow that he was resting on a second ago.

I shriek as I use my own pillow as a shield, attempting to block the attack, but not before it can hit me in the side. He doesn't even do it that hard, but I still end up being knocked over anyway.

We proceed to strike and parry. Our faces in battle mode. It's almost like we're trying very hard to make this game as serious as possible even though we're this close to laughing.

He laughs, crawling over towards me on his hands and knees until he leans over me. Then he yanks the pillow from my hands.

Now I'm without any form of self defense. I can almost feel and smell the defeat in the air. Or maybe I do have a way that I can defend myself; I sit up, putting my hands on either side of me as a means of support and kiss him. He smiles against my lips and leans forward so I am lying on my back again; in an instant, we are tangled in a heated embrace. I knew that it would distract him, victory is in the air and I will have to keep this technique in mind for the next fight.

"What's that?" He asks, moving his head towards the drawing on the table. I slide off the bed to retrieve it and then sit down beside him as a corner of his lips turns up. "You've captured me perfectly."

"It took me ages to get you to look exactly the way I picture you." I reach up to move his hair out of his eyes and he takes it, placing small kisses on each knuckle. It's become such a common and simple gesture that one might not think much of it, to me it's a symbol of my love for him and his love for me.

After waking, I feel the need to freshen up before the guests arrive. I've only met Mary a few times and I'm afraid that our most recent run in, when we crashed both hers and John's honeymoon, has left a dark stain on our cloth of friendship - I'm sorry, that sounds so ridiculously...what's the word that you would use in your day and age? Cheesy? Let me change my thoughts. I'm worried that our friendship is ruined.

Not only that, my aunt Eliza is what you would call, dare I say it, a prude when it comes to details and having everything as flawless as possible. If things aren't done a certain way, she will take it upon herself to set things in order until they are up to her standards.

My entire teenage years were spent trying to fulfill the duties and expectations of a young woman in a high-class society and also as a performer on stage where people were quick to form opinions about you and the people who raised you. Therefore, she spoiled me; I had a wardrobe much too grand for a little girl, pets and servants who gave me my own way and treated me as some sort of royalty.

During this short period of fancy dinner parties and lavish carriage rides, I'd never known a day of hardship. She wanted me to forget all of those hungry nights my mother and I spent in a cold city house, and the pain of losing her.

"Aunt Eliza may have been overbearing and perhaps a tad strict, but at least she was kind and fair." I don't know that I'm saying this out loud, but when Sherlock turns his head to look at me, he looks like he's going to give me a deduction.

"She loved you very much, and I'm positive she still does. I haven't seen my parents in years, but they will always hold a special place in my heart. My mother was the same way, always coddling me and Mycroft until we felt like we were being smothered, but that's what women do when it comes to children, I guess."

"I don't remember much about my father, never met him, but I know that he loved my mother and even if he wasn't the coddling sort, as you so delicately put it, he would have loved me, too. At least that's what my mother told me."

"He would be proud of you, you know. The woman you've become is much different than the woman who I first met." He kisses the top of my head and then offers his arm to me. "Let's go downstairs and have a warm breakfast before the others arrive."

The first of our group to arrive is Mary and John wastes no time in bringing her into a warm embrace and kissing her in the middle of the entryway, much to Sherlock's annoyance. He rolls his eyes and in order to perk him up, I stand up on my tiptoes and kiss his cheek, leading him away from the apparently revolting sight.

"They haven't seen each other in weeks," I explain, "and poor Mary's been worried sick since the day we crashed in on their honeymoon. They deserve a few moments to themselves at least. In the meantime, let's go into the living room. Aunt Eliza should be here soon, too."

I smile when I see Simza pass me to greet Tamas. He looks worn out, too. René was important to the both of them, and if it's anyone who can best help Simza through this, it's him.

"I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about meeting your aunt " Sherlock whispers beside me, once we're out of earshot from the rest of the group. "What if she doesn't think I'm good enough for you?"

"Why wouldn't you be good enough for me? I'm a criminal; if anything, I'm not good enough for you. I may be a bad influence.

"I know, but I just kept thinking it over last night and thinking about what I would do if she doesn't like me. I mean not that she wouldn't I guess." I decide to interrupt him right then and there before he says anything else.

"Don't worry, you're perfect enough for me and that's all that really matters. Who cares if she doesn't like you? That's only one person against the hundreds of people who adore you. Like me." I know that he's extremely nervous about meeting my family, but it pains me to see that I can't alleviate his fears.

Before recently, I'd never known the great detective to show any fear or anxiety. The first time I'd seen him like that was at the factory and that darned fish hook that nearly took his life. Maybe he was scared with every case he took, thinking that this one could be his very last, but he's done a good job hiding it from other people, even the ones he loves.

I also know that, well, according to John, I am the only person of the feminine nature who he's cared this much about. Many women would probably show up on his doorstep or swoon over him as he passes by, but I would rather him chase after me than the other way around. With that in mind, I am determined to make him feel better about all of this.

"Trust me, you are beautiful and intelligent and the bravest man I've ever met. My aunt will absolutely adore you even more than I already do." He looks over at me, smiling when our eyes meet and turning around, I fix the button on his top collar since it is a little bit crooked. "I can promise you that." He visibly relaxes at this gesture, breathing a little bit easier now, knowing that I am going to be by his side no matter what.

The two of us go into the living room and meet with Mary; she doesn't seem to be as wary or distant with Sherlock as one would think she would be after he tossed her off of a train. Even if he 'timed it perfectly' there was always that possibility that it could have been worse. Nervously, I fiddle with the buttons on my shirt.

"You're so much more than that now," he says, brushing his hand along my cheek softly, "we stopped a world war, you should be proud of yourself."

Shaking my head, I walk past him and go further inside, sitting on a chair in the living room. "We didn't stop the war, we just postponed it."

"You think it will happen anyway?" asks Mary, looking up at John who stands up and begins pacing around the room.

"Not for a long time, love," he says with a cheerful smile, "and if it does, I'll keep you safe."

"Who would be insane enough to even consider it?: asks Simza, speaking for the first time since last night, and upon hearing her voice, we all turn to her, "Do they not understand the ultimate price for such recklessness?"

"It's a sacrifice far too many people are willing to make, no matter the cost."

A moment of silence passes. Peace, love, and money are all advantages of war, but debt, death, and sadness are all disadvantages of it. And just when we think that all is finally right with the world, someone always wants more.

"Hopefully it won't be for a very long time," I say, glancing about the room until my eyes focus on a decorative painting above the fireplace, "and everyone in this room will be dead before it happens. That way none of us have to live through it."

"That doesn't mean that others won't have to endure it," John says and I hear the newspaper crinkling as he opens it up, flips through a couple of pages and then straightens up. "Ah, here's a story that will brighten the mood; it says that Ravache's wife and two sons were recovered from an abandoned factory last night. Both children were severely dehydrated and their mother had several cuts and bruises, they're in the hospital now, but it will take a long time for them to recover."

"I would imagine," I reply, "who knows what terrible things happened to them, at least they're safe and sound now."

Sherlock is about to say something when we hear the doorbell ring; I take a deep breath in and then find my lover's hand, searching for some form of reassurance. Things could get ugly quickly and having him here with me is all the support I'll ever need, and as long as she doesn't take all her anger out on him, that will be a relief. Walking over to me, he grabs my hand and then leads me towards the front door. Giving his hand a gentle squeeze, I pause before saying, "It'll be okay love, let's do this."

We open the door and standing with her mouth agape is my aunt Eliza, standing in the doorway and in seconds, I am swept into her arms. "You're here, you're alive." She pulls away and steps back a few paces, "You look so much like your mother did when she was your age and your father fell in love with her."

Everything about her appearance screams cleanliness and perfection; how perfectly sleek and straight her hair is, how clean and pristine her dark blue dress looks. Compared to her, I probably look like a wild animal, or like I just got caught in a tornado, even if I did clean up before she arrived. She's probably wondering why I'm not wearing a corset, or even a dress, or maybe she didn't expect anything like that at all. This is how she thought I would look, wearing a man's shirt and trousers. I did my best with my hair, but if I move my eyes upward, I can see a little curl has come undone on the top. Thankfully, it blends in with my bangs, so she probably won't notice.

"Hello, Auntie," I say with as much courage and dignity as I can muster. It's been such a long time since I've seen her. I've written to her so many times, but seeing her in person is so much different, so much more real.

"Irene," she replies monotonously, just as she would greet a stranger. To her, I may as well be a stranger. She looks around, as if trying to find something to talk about. "You've grown taller."

"And more beautiful?" I ask, laughing nervously but she doesn't even blink. You should also know that Eliza has a very limited sense of humor. I could tell her the most hilarious joke right now and I guarantee you she wouldn't even smile. Either because she doesn't understand it, or because she doesn't find it the least bit funny. She may look at me in confusion, but then she'll continue what she was saying beforehand.

"I suppose you could say that." Rubbing her hands together, she looks past me and then to . "We should hurry along inside, don't want to let the draft in." I step aside, allowing her to pass by before I shut the door. Hearing it slam, she flinches a bit.

"The living room is this way," I say and I'm glad that Sherlock is beside me, or else I would make a run for it up the stairs and hide in one of the many bedrooms so I wouldn't have to meet her demeaning stare. He and I meet each other's eyes again and I can see that he's thinking the exact same thing. She hasn't acknowledged him yet and I want to make the introduction, but I keep thinking the same thing over and over again.

Say something! If you want to yell at me, please just get it over with!

"If you hadn't written to me, I don't think I would have known you to be alive. Irene," she says calmly, but I can sense the pain hidden deep down inside, "I thought the worst when I read the papers and discovered that you turned out to be a criminal. Maybe if I'd been more careful with you, not letting - well, not having you perform so much, sending you to boarding school, just letting you live a normal childhood, then you would have been more equipped for the world."

I thought she would be reprimanding me, not herself and I find myself jumping in before I can say or do otherwise.

"Auntie, you did the best you could. After my mother died, you took care of me, gave me a home, made me feel like I had a place in the universe, and what I've done, all those horrid things, stealing and running away from my problems were not your fault. There is no excuse. I just felt so angry after what happened that I stopped trusting people, so I hurt them before they could hurt me." I pause for breath, "I'm not sorry for hurting them, but I am for hurting you and everyone else I care about."

This is what I thought she would say, asking me how I could be so selfish, to run away and to undo everything she put her whole heart and soul into. She surprises me even more by wrapping her arms around me. "I know what it feels like to have your heart broken, it feels like nothing will make it better. I only wish I could have been there for you when you needed me the most." She glances over my shoulder and then pulls away. "but you seem to be in good hands now so that's all that matters. Speaking of which, you said he was handsome, but you didn't tell me how handsome he really is."

A relieved sigh escapes from both of us. I can see his shoulders relaxing again and I watch him grin. I take advantage of the moment to look towards the dining room where John is standing in the doorway. Seeing Sherlock attempting to butter up my aunt makes him chuckle a little.

"Sorry, Irene, I think he's found a new woman," he jokes and I playfully smack his shoulder; when we go into the dining room, everyone is seated around the table and I can smell and see the steam from the pasta from here.

Mycroft comes in from the kitchen with a large bottle of wine and it only takes a moment for him to pour it into our glasses. Simza stares down at her plate, not sure what to make of the dish set out in front of her, or whether or not she has the appetite. She raises a hand to her head and closes her eyes, sighing deeply. Tamas, who's sitting beside her looks over at her and puts a hand on her shoulder.

"She misses René," he explains. He's a man of very few words, but I can hear the sympathy in his voice, "just like I miss Marko."

"You should eat something," I say to her and she looks up at me from the shield she's made with her hand, "it'll give you some of your strength back and maybe it will make your headache go away."

When the wine bottle comes to Mary however, she respectfully declines, but when the pasta comes in, she instantly digs in. John smiles at her from across the table and then proceeds to eat. Sherlock raises his eyebrows.

"I've never known you to pass up a good drink, Mrs. Watson," he says, "unless there's something you want to share with-" John gives him a harsh stare, and he's this close to kicking him from under the table. This makes him stop; he clears his throat awkwardly, and then jabs his fork into the pasta.

"You're right again, Mister Holmes," Mary says, not with distaste or contempt, but with a tone that implies that she really didn't want anyone to know just yet. "John and I are expecting a little one in the summer."

John shakes his head, looking a little bit put out. I can tell that he and Mary were really trying to keep the big surprise under wraps, not wanting to jinx it too early on, but at the same time, they aren't surprised that Sherlock has managed to figure it out anyway. He's smiling quite proudly, like he always does when he solves a case and I sort of want to be annoyed with him for spoiling the surprise, but how can I be when he turns to smile adorably at me. This is one of the reasons why he'd managed to steal my heart, on rare occasions when I've managed to make him laugh or smile.

"You're lucky you're cute," I whisper, then turn to Mary, congratulating her and John on their new arrival and Sherlock, holding my hand under the table, nervously looks over at Eliza, who'd asked him to tell her about himself; I encouraged him with a light nod.

"Well, where do I even begin?" he replies, lightly laughing and I watch with an adoring look as he tells her about his family and his childhood and even John is surprised at some of the things he says, like how they both studied for some years at the same university, but never met each other, or how he once got lost in the woods behind his house.

"It took us ages to find him," Mycroft says with a laugh, "Mother and Father had told us not to go into the woods without them, and what does he do?"

"I only went in there because one of your idiot friends called me chicken for not wanting to go in there when it was dark outside." While the two brothers continue to bicker, Mary adds a bit more pasta to her plate.

"You're certainly more hungrier than usual, dear," John remarks over the ambience.

"I'm eating for two, as you say," she smiles back, "We should tell my parents once we get back to England."

"They'll be positively thrilled," I remark and thankfully, the boys are no longer talking about the woods anymore, to our immense relief.

Then he goes on about his work, which Eliza somewhat already knew about, but hearing the stories firsthand, is much different than reading it in the newspaper; and his face completely lights up and my eyes never leave him once. How he remembers every single tiny detail of the cases is beyond me. He grimaces, though when he mentions the ones that he was not able to solve.

"Well, of course you can't be expected to solve every single one," Eliza says, "no one is that perfect."

"That doesn't stop me from feeling like a complete failure," he says.

"You are many things, Sherlock, but a failure is not one of them," I reassure him and he takes my hand again.

The hours quickly pass, the conversations turning long and sometimes intimate, speaking in hushed tones and then erupting in laughter. Even Simza finds something to smile about. Eliza and I gather up some of the dishes and then take them into the kitchen to be washed.

"He certainly loves you," she remarks once we are alone, "and I can tell just by looking at you that you love him, too."

"Of course I do, I love him like I haven't loved anyone before in my whole life. We would do anything for each other and we both know it."

"I'm happy for you. He's a good man, and that's all I wanted for you, was to find someone who makes you feel whole and who brings out a side of you that you never thought you had." She goes back into the dining room and the subject of our conversation comes up to stand beside me.

"You know," he says to me so that only I can hear him, "I have no idea why I was so nervous before, your aunt is wonderful. At one point, I thought she was going to give me, the 'If I break your heart, I'll break you,' speech."

"She probably would have if she wasn't so busy laughing."

"Am I really that amusing?"

"You can be if you try hard enough. It's been so long since either of us laughed so much." I watch him smile, leaning in to place a soft kiss on my lips.

"Then I will try my best to make you laugh once in a while," he whispers against my lips and I kiss him back gently. Then I follow his gaze, watching everyone smile and laugh. We have our own little family right here, it may not be perfect, but it's ours.

My heart hurts a little because we're all safe and together, and I don't expect the peace to last long. It seems impossible and Sherlock appears to not have expected this outcome, either.

There will be struggles to come, I'm sure of it, but I know we will face those, too.

~ THE END. ~