oops I Tumblr fic’ed
At first glance, John though the thing was sort of ridiculous, which was what stopped him at the shop window in the first place.
It seemed like the product of an obnoxious fad, in which putting skeletons on everything immediately made the objects maudlin and interesting. His instinct was to scoff and continue down the street, wondering if anyone who made these things had ever actually seen a skeleton, had ever had to carry a man whose shattered ribs had punctured his skin and bled crimson.
He started to turn away, then paused, looking again at the violin.
The longer he stared, the more appealing it was. There was actually something artistic in this: the way the violin’s curved body hinted at the more subtle contours of the human form, how the painted ribs didn’t quite fit into the space, the blackness in between the bones suggesting an emptiness of the body. There was no life in the shape of these bones, having neither brain nor heart to bring them coordination and liveliness.
John stared at the instrument for a long moment, debating. Then he quietly ducked into the store to make an inquiry. When he left, he cradled a black violin case to his chest.
“No reason,” he said when he presented the case to Sherlock, who immediately demanded to know why he was being presented with a gift on a seemingly normal day. “Just saw it a shop and thought you’d like it. The owner said it wasn’t really for playing much, more like something pretty to look at, but we’ve got enough weird things around the flat that it probably won’t stand out that much …”
Sherlock didn’t appear to be listening. He turned back and picked up his bow from its position by the window, then slowly closed his fingers around the neck of his gift, lifting it gently as though afraid it might break. John watched, hands in his pockets, silent as Sherlock delicately twisted the tuning pegs, plucked at the strings, and finally brought the violin to his shoulder.
The first notes he teased out were soft and unimpressive, testing the strings and sound. Then he began to play.
John’s eyes drifted closed as he listened to the notes echo around the room. He didn’t recognize the piece; it was something neither fast nor slow, lively and moving. As Sherlock played, his body moved and swayed, pulling long draws of the bow, fingers dancing across the strings. John watched as the man with no heart found life in a violin never meant to be played and drew from it like a well, letting it spill from his hands and pour into the room.
When the final note ended, John opened his eyes to meet Sherlock’s.
“That was lovely,” John murmured. “Didn’t sound half as good when the bloke at the shop played it.”
“It is rather unimpressive sound quality,” Sherlock said, gently setting the violin back in its case. “But the surface quality is not the only thing that matters. It takes a certain touch to make any instrument impressive.”
He straightened as though to leave. John resigned himself to the unexpected commentary and expected to see the violin shoved thoughtlessly under a chair by dinner, but Sherlock seemed to remember something and paused.
“Thank you, John,” he said, staring out the window and only making eye contact for the briefest second. “It’s a thoughtful gift.”
John failed at holding back his smile.