Sometimes Tumblr feels a little like a battleground, with people clutching for ever-fainter evidence to prove that their pairing is The Best and The Truest. It’s strange to see it applied to the formerly cosy world of Holmes slash, which 5+ years ago wouldn’t have known a pairing war if you’d tattooed one on its wall with a hair trigger pistol. (It would also have had trouble finding enough fans in one city for a game of whist - not all change is bad!)
I love Holmes/Watson dearly, but the truth is it doesn’t matter if someone thinks the partnership is fraternal or erotic, sexual or chaste, unchanging or hard-won. There’s no rule that you have to find a single image of Holmes & Watson and stick to it, or that favouring one interpretation means that you oppose another. For some fans the fight to the end is the whole of the game and worth every wound, but for many of us there’s an equal pleasure in being able to take the gloves off, sling up our feet, and simply read the stories together.
Just read the stories. Read them, love them, slash them if you wish, use them as a jumping-off point for a horrible obsession with 19th century medical, criminal or Queer history. Love Holmes through Watson, and love Watson through Holmes. Get a deerstalker. Throw away the deerstalker. Read the funny, obsessive, often tongue-in-cheek writing that is the past 100 years of Sherlock Holmes fandom. Draw the canon from top to bottom. Write a long essay on why Watson wrote SCAN to disguise Holmes’s appearance, drunk and dressed as a tiger, in the Cafe Royal in 1888.
But firstly just read the stories, and love them.