Character(s): Mary, Watson, Holmes, Lestrade, various OCs
Summary: Mary's girlhood entertainments find some unexpected outlets
Warnings: Off-stage human trafficking
Author's Notes: ACD-verse. Fill for the July 3 writing prompt: A character's hidden talent saves the day. I encourage you to peruse these wonderful photos if you need help envisioning the scene. (Even if you are quite happy with what your imagination can provide, I encourage you to peruse them anyway.)
Word Count: 533
A friendly laugh. “Tell me, did you practice that with a metronome? Yes, I thought so. Remember: you do not dance to the music. The music accompanies your dance.”
“But Signor Montefiore says we must never lose track of the beat!”
“If you are doing it properly, no one will notice the beat. The public dance connects you to your audience. The connection between you and the beat is private. As long as you keep that privacy, you will be eternally unattainable, no matter what you are wearing or not wearing. Watch.”
Music. Fringes swish and hips sway.
Two pairs of hips begin to move.
“Better, Mary, much better! I could ravish you right now!”
“I wish I could show Eliza!”
“No – you must never show anyone! That was the deal, was it not? You help me with my accent in exchange for this? I have come far enough to salvage my reputation. Do not force me to move on again.”
Mary never showed Eliza what she had learned during those afternoons when she was “taking tea” with Miss Hawdon. Years later, however, she broke her promise twice times. The first time was shortly after her marriage, when John’s blushes as the evening wore down showed that something was necessary to help them develop a more, well, married type of intimacy. She justified this breach with the thought that husband and wife are one flesh, and so showing John was no different from watching herself dance in the mirror. John’s delighted laughter quickly reassured her that her thinking in this manner was accurate.
The second time she danced was less private. Indeed, it was on the stage of a music hall, in front of a hundred and twenty three pairs of hungry eyes. The first pair of eyes belonged to the stage manager. He could not look away. The second pair of eyes belonged to the owner, and the third to the music hall owner’s cat. They could not look away. (The cat, unlike the owner, was attracted mainly by the bobbing fringe on Mary’s skirt.) The fourth through one hundred and twenty second pair of eyes belonged to the audience. None of them could look away either, although their attention was less important to Mary's goals. The hundred and twenty-third pair was John’s. He distinguished himself from the rest of the crowd by managing to tear his eyes away from his wife’s legs to glance occasionally at the stage door. At last he saw Holmes’s figure appear, leading away their client’s dazed daughter wrapped in his overcoat, and promptly gave his undivided attention to the stage.
Shortly after Mary’s dance was completed, the owner of the music hall found his attention forcibly returned to the running of his business. Lestrade and his squad of constables had entered the hall, and in short order they arrested the owner and stage manager on charges of kidnapping and corruption of minors. The client’s daughter was never publically identified among the victims, to the great satisfaction of everyone. Under Mary’s urging, John later wrote up the case under the title of “The Mystery of the Burlesque Extravaganza.” It was never published.