Molly Hooper was not fond of the starched black gown nor the slightly yellowing but mainly white apron that she was forced to wear.
The Holmes family were returning to their country mansion and she'd spent the past two weeks scrubbing every floor on the third and fourth floor of the mansion. Her hands were red raw but it was better than being on the streets.
Poor orphan Molly Hooper had been in service with a few families since her parents died in a blast - the new stove recently installed were killing more people than anyone was willing to admit. But she was too young to be crusading against the big factories, Molly had been made an orphan at 14 and regardless of the unfair nature of her parents deaths, she was in dire need of work. The Holmes' were now her third family and this was only the second time she was to meet them - but they seemed the nicest so far. With that thought in mind, Molly had only met the Lady of the family but she had heard various rumours about the three gentlemen of the family.
Lady Violet Holmes was a strong willed woman who ran her household with a firm but fair hand. Her homes were well-oiled machines and she knew every servant, their backgrounds and their closest families; she had even offered Molly commiserations on the loss of her parents. Lord Holmes was somewhat reclusive; though he attended the dinners with his family, Molly had gleaned that he was often travelling, working for the Government and had just inducted his oldest son, Mycroft into the business and both were often absent. Mycroft Holmes was 21 years old and acted as the eldest should; often demanding complete submission and obedience from his servants - this trait had been quashed repeatedly by his caring mother but his new line of work caused the ugly trait to rear its head too often.
The youngest son was to be Molly's main interest, and that had a lot to do with the fact that she was to be his personal maid but whispers from the others. Sherlock Holmes was apparently aloof, cold and more than a little grumpy. But she was interested by the strange man who took no part in aristocratic society no matter how often his mother tutted and scolded. With her eldest in the secret service, Lady Holmes was clearly concerned about the future of her family but more importantly the happiness of her boys.
Sherlock was sat in the horse drawn carriage looking furious.
"Mother." He snapped and looked at the tails he had been forced to wear.
"All your other clothes had been packed!" She smiled cheekily, Sherlock may have been a genius but Violet Holmes was crafty and cunning and knew how to play her sons. As any mother should, after all when they grow bigger than you, you need every advantage possible!
Sherlock continued to sulk for the rest of the journey home. Answering his mother with petulant words, as his admiration of his mother warred with his bad temper .
Finally the two two Holmes' stepped from the carriage into the spring sunshine; Sherlock did like to see his Mother happy and Thrumington House made his mother happy. She enjoyed being away from the bustle of London and while Thrumington had been a great place to grow up, for a boy at the cusp of manhood it wasn't as fun. It wasn't for the social scene that made Sherlock prefer London, but it was to obserce queer mannerisms and quaint behaviour of the gentry, very little happened at Thrumington.
"Sherlock please stop pulling that face." She hissed under her breath, all while retaining a smile for the servants who stood lined at the front of the house.
"Sherlock I want you to meet your new servant, Molly Hooper. " Lady Holmes said a lot louder as they carried on down the tedious line of curtseying servants. Sherlock stopped and looked at the petite, mousey figure before him who seemed to cringe under his gaze before lowering her eyes back to the gravel.
Molly stared in awe at the retreating figure of Sherlock Holmes; he was beautiful. She'd blushed crimson at his roving stare, she felt as though he had read every vein and mark on her body, even those beneath her clothes! What a scandalous thought. A thought that had made her hot beneath this starched collar. She longed to tug the stupid white bonnet off her head but Mrs Bells would make her keep it on while the owners settled back into Thrumington.
It wasn't until Molly was taking Master Holmes' tea up for the night that she really became acquainted with the peevish young man. Mrs Bells had said that Master Holmes often rang for tea late into the evening, when he left his mother to settle into her sitting room after dinner.
Upon hearing his murmured invitation to enter, Molly slipped into the room to see his long figure silhouetted by the fireplace. She swallowed nervously but cleared her throat and walked in quietly.
"Your tea Master Holmes." She muttered and set to put the silver tray on his table but halted in her ministrations. "Would you like me to move the paperwork for you Sir?" Her voice was still low, but it was the loudest sound in the room minus the cheerful crackle of the fire.
"How do you propose to do that Miss Hooper? That tray is far too heavy for you already. Your arms are far too underdeveloped but I rightfully presume that you are an orphan. It's still painful and you miss your parents dreadfully, I mean who wouldn't miss their mother. You're resentful of your life somewhat which tells me your parents were the better end of the poor scale and you have been thrown back into complete poverty." Sherlock's face was in almost near darkness and he watched, with a small amount of satisfaction that Molly coloured at his words.
Molly had been warned by the other servants of Sherlock's attempts to belittle you, but Mrs Bells had told her fondly that it was an old rivalry between children that made the younger son determined to best the elder. In actuality Sherlock now craved intelligence and often couldn't find someone to match him.
"Like this Master Holmes." Molly held the edge of the silver tray with the priceless bone china in the crook of her hip and with one hand before collecting the papers together with her free hand. With the papers into a neater pile, she placed the tray at the edge of the table and bowed her head, averting her eyes.
"You are different Hooper." Sherlock looked at her with a strange mixture of astonishment and resentment. She had ignored his jibe and had managed to neaten the table up. He didn't want her dismissed or thrown out but he was always eager to test his servants - it was why his mother almost had a continuous ad up for new ones. Not many lasted long as a personal maid to Sherlock Holmes.
"Thank you Sir." He watched her eyes linger on the paperwork, a look of longing on her face. Then she tore her eyes away, as if she was aware that she had been staring fervently at the paper.
"Do you read Hooper?" His baritone voice sent shivers up and down her spine and for the first time Sherlock read nervousness in Molly's behaviour. She picked at the starched skirt, played with the trimmings of her sleeves and touched her bonnet more than once - she clearly didn't like the formal wear either.
"I read a little Sir, not as much as you, for I cannot understand your paperwork." She gasped and he smiled softly at her faux pas. "I didn't mean to read... Oh I am sorry sir!" She squeaked. She was well aware that in a house of the secret service, reading the Master's paperwork was a big no-no.
"It is only a little Latin text I am translating Miss Hooper. Do not be afraid." He soothed and noted again the shiver that ran through her body. How bizarre. Was she cold? Even by this roaring fire?
"Apologies Sir. Please ring if you require anything more. Goodnight Sir." She whispered, bobbed a curtsey and practically fled into the hallway.
'You idiot Molls, reading their papers! Has it really been that long since you read anything?!' She scolded herself but was sure to wait up until Sherlock rang the bell again.