Notes: I enjoyed so many things about Game of Shadows, but one of my favorites was the interplay between Holmes, Watson, and Mary. By the end, Mary and Holmes have clearly come to terms with each other and I would love to see a real friendship develop between them. Imagine my shock, then, when I learned that in the books, they never had a chance to do so because Mary dies while Holmes in still thought to have perished at Reichenbach Falls. Now obviously, that isn't the case in the movieverse, but it begs the question of how RDJ's Holmes would react to Mary's death – this is an attempt to explore that.
The Lady Insisted
When he returned from the dead, she was the one who greeted him most warmly. Perhaps it was a facet of her nature (though the wine incident a year earlier suggested otherwise) or simply that she had come to expect and accept that he would withhold the truth from her, but while Watson was incensed that that he had been left to grieve while Holmes chased after the remains of Moriarty's empire, she has simply smiled and fetched ice to nurse the bruised jaw Watson had given him.
When he deduced that Watson was unaware of his wife's affliction, he confronted her.
"He does not react well to being kept in the dark," he reminded her ruefully, "Even if one's intent was merely to protect him." For once she conceded to his logic without argument, though he did not miss the way she glanced at his jaw and smirked.
When the Watsons sent word that they would be unable to attend a performance of Mozart concertos (for reasons unspecified but that he deduced immediately) he appeared in their parlor violin in hand.
"A wise decision," he commended them, "That buffoon of a violinist is more a butcher then a musician!" And then he played for them, sublime music accompanied with a running commentary on the faults of sub-par players.
When she began coughing up blood, he stopped taking cases that required lengthy travel. She knew that if asked, he would spin a complicated explanation for this involving the London criminal element, middle-eastern weather patterns, and possibly Mrs. Hudson's repeated attempts to poison him. And so she did not ask, but simply accepted it with silent gratitude.
When Watson mentioned the benefits of country air one night over brandy, he went directly to Mycroft. The very next day he presented them with two first class tickets to Chichester. "I take it we shall be expecting you on the train?" she asked wryly.
"Quite impossible, I'm afraid.," he replied, "I've a deliciously convoluted case. It shall consume me utterly for several days at least." He knew that she saw though his deception immediately, but true to his word, he waited exactly three days before joining them. He even had the decency to enter though the front door.
When she asked him to take care of John after she had passed, he did not laugh.
He wanted to, the idea was so absurd; the good doctor has ever been his caretaker, and Sherlock could not even restrain himself from killing the dog on a regular basis. But she was earnest in her plea, firm in her confidence in him. He could not help but answer, "Of course, dear lady."
When she could no longer leave her bed, he started breaking into the bedroom when she was sleeping. She never caught him at it and she never told John, but she imagined that she rested just slightly easier knowing that he kept coming back.
When the funeral had ended, he escorted Watson back to Cavendish Place and did not return to Baker Street. After three days, Watson confronted him about it.
"Holmes, why are you still here?"
"Out of necessity, my dear fellow," he replied glibly, unable to voice the truth of his intentions.
Watson sighed, "Go home, Holmes."
"I assure you, I cannot."
Watson's frown deepened, "So Mrs. Hudson finally kicked you out, did she?"
Holmes scoffed, "Of course not."
"You burned the place down, then?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"Assassins are waiting to extract their bloody revenge?"
"You've been too long penning those overly romantic accounts of our adventures, dear Watson."
Watson slammed down his fist and jumped to his feet, "Dammit, Holmes, GET OUT!"
Enraged and grief-stricken, Watson attempted to grab Holmes by the lapel and yank him to his feet. Expecting this, Holmes darted aside then embraced Watson from behind, pinning the doctor's arms to his sides. Watson kicked and rammed the back of his head into Holmes' face, but Holmes simply held fast until the doctor had exhausted himself. Pulling them both to the floor, weary and dripping blood, Holmes finally found the words.
"Sorry, old boy, but it's my turn to look after you; the Lady insisted."