“Is this the prologue or the posy of a ring?” – Hamlet, William Shakespeare
This is a story about memory – not the annoying song from the Musical Cats – but about how different the memory of each and every one of us is and what happens if it is taken away from us. We will have a look into the thoughts and feeling of different characters and will learn that there can be more than one truth. We will see that it makes a difference what we decide to forget and choose to remember. And we will find that sometimes one has to forget in order to remember what is really important.
John Watson stood in front of St. Bartholomew’s hospital and was waiting for Sherlock Holmes. Even after all this time, standing on the pavement where his best friend had supposedly died made him feel uneasy. Not that he would ever admit that – especially not to the high functioning sociopath himself – but John hoped that his friend would turn up soon so he could get away from his place. He shivered slightly and for a second considered turning up his collar to keep the cold away. But he refrained from it. Turning up the collar was for people with cheekbones and expensive coats; not for former army doctors with a family.
John sighed deeply and pursed his hands into his coat pockets. He realized how exhausted he still felt. It had been three weeks since they had finished the case of Not-Moriarty, yet still he felt drained. No wonder, it had been a nightmare – for all of them. He couldn’t even imagine how Molly must have felt. She had been so brave, but being kidnapped was traumatizing. He knew from experience. So far she seemed to cope well, but how could he be sure? She had managed to keep a secret from him for two years. Honestly, he had never thought she would be capable of something like that. She had surprised him, and maybe she would do that again and was indeed fine. He decided then and there – while shifting from one foot to the other – that he would invite Molly for coffee with them next week. Mary and he could have a little chat with her and show her that they were there for her if she wanted to talk. Additionally Molly loved the little Miss Watson, and the feeling was mutual. So he was sure Molly would be delighted at the prospect of spending an afternoon with the Watson family.
The idea that he could also invite Sherlock crossed his mind, but he dismissed it instantly. The consulting detective had not been the easiest to deal with since the end of the case. He was on the edge all the time and had been quite dismissive towards the petite pathologist since then.
In John’s opinion this was not how a knight in shining armour should behave after a brave rescue, but Sherlock had once told the army doctor that he was no hero. Still, John refused to believe that. He refused to give up on his friend. And maybe, just maybe, their current case would help the consulting detective to stop this ridiculous game of avoidance with a certain pathologist. If only he could behave himself for once! Although John had hope that things could go back to normal, he was also worried. What Sherlock was about to do could either set things right or make them even worse. And if the latter was the case… The army doctor was afraid that Molly Hooper would severe all contact with Sherlock Holmes. And he would not blame her.
John was just about to pull out his mobile to call his best friend to ask where the bloody hell he was, when said man appeared next to him. His hair was in disarray from the wind and the collar of his Belstaff was turned up – of course.
“Where have you been?” John did nothing to hide the anger in his voice.
It left the consulting detective unimpressed, “I had to take care of some things.” He patted the side of his coat pocket. “What are you waiting for? We’re late,” he added and started walking towards the entrance of the pathology building.
John rolled his eyes and hastened to catch up with the long strides of his taller friend.
Inside the building Sherlock unbuttoned his coat while walking. John caught up with him and tried to get his attention. “Sherlock!”
The consulting detective kept on walking towards the staircase that led down to the morgue and lab as if he had not heard. The former army doctor was determined to at least try to tell his friend that he needed to approach the matter with more delicacy than he usually did, so he started again, “Sherlock, you know this is a lot to ask for, don’t you? Maybe we should ask someone else?”
John knew perfectly well that there was no one else. Sherlock’s list of female friends was quite short. And he considered asking The Woman was an even worse idea than asking the pathologist. Not only because John did not like her. He was not even sure if The Woman fell under the category of “friends.” She probably did not fit in any existing category.
Sherlock tried to brush it off with a gesture of his hand. “Don’t be ridiculous, John. Molly helped me with matters that were far more delicate than this.”
They reached the end of the staircase and were about to enter the corridor that led to the lab, when John put a hand on the detective’s arm to stop him. Sherlock looked at him surprised.
“Sherlock, I know tact is not your forte, but you need to be nice to Molly if you want her to help us.”
Sherlock’s brows furrowed. “I don’t see why you are complaining. I did not say anything rude or hurtful to her in the last couple of weeks.”
“Because you did not talk to her at all.” Sherlock wanted to correct him, but John held up a hand.
“No, acknowledging her presence with a nod and answering her question about coffee with a ‘yes’ don’t count.”
Sherlock growled and was about to walk on, but John stopped him once more. “You can’t treat her the way you do. Not after everything she’s been through.”
The consulting detective rolled his eyes dramatically. Sometimes John wished he would get a penny every time Sherlock did that.
“Calm down, John. Molly is fine. She’s stronger than you think.”
At times John could not believe how thick his brilliant friend could be. “What you are doing is called giving her mixed signals.”
Sherlock’s eyes turned dark. “What are you insinuating?”
John held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I am not insinuating anything. I’m just saying that it’s not good to give her the cold shoulder after such a display of affection.”
Now Sherlock’s eyes became small slits, and he hissed through clenched teeth, “She had been kidnapped, I rescued her and she was frightened. She practically threw herself into my arms. What should I’ve done? I thought it would be considered rude to push her away in front of the people from the Yard.”
With that he turned away and walked on. John could not help and mutter under his breath as he followed the consulting detective, “We seem to remember that scene quite differently.”
As usual, Sherlock entered the morgue by pushing at the swinging doors dramatically. John followed close behind and hoped against better knowledge that Sherlock would at least try to say the right thing.
“I need a fiancée,” the dark haired man proclaimed.
John bowed his head. That had definitely not been the right thing.
Molly was sitting at a microscope and had not bothered to look up from her work when she had heard the door. She was used to Sherlock’s dramatic display by now. Only after his statement did she sit up straight, look at the consulting detective and raised her eyebrows, “I’m surprised Janine didn’t volunteer.”
John hid his chuckle by clearing his throat. Molly may still have been infatuated with the consulting detective, but every now and then her cheeky side showed up and John enjoyed it. And he had the suspicion that Sherlock did so too. Before his brilliant friend could retort something that would make it even worse, John stepped forward and tried to save the situation.
“Hi Molly, how are you?”
“Hi John, I’m fine, thanks. How’s the family life going?” Molly stood up and walked over to stand in front of them. Sherlock rolled his eyes (a penny for John), muttered, “Small talk, just brilliant…,” went over to the cupboards and started playing with his phone. Molly tried her best to ignore him. John gave her an apologetic look before he answered, “Great, thanks. You know, the little Miss sunshine keeps us awake.”
Molly smiled openly, “I can imagine.”
“Mary and I would like to invite you to…,” John started, but Sherlock interrupted him from his place on the other side of the room, “For God’s sake! We don’t have time for this!”
John shot daggers at him, and Molly crossed her arms in front of her chest in a defensive gesture. The former army doctor’s gaze went back to the pathologist and he explained, “Molly, we need your help. And believe me, we would not ask you if there was any other way, but you’re the only one we can trust with this.”
Molly risked a side-glance to the man on the other side of the room who was staring at her. She looked back at John, “What do you need?”
John cleared his throat and took a step towards her. He could see that Molly was getting a bit nervous, not knowing what this was all about. “We are currently working on this case: A young woman named Violet Hunter approached us. She works as a governess with the family Rucastle and there seem to be some weird things going on in their house.”
“Weird things?” Molly repeated.
But before John could specify, Sherlock interjected, “Long story short: We need to go undercover in order to have a closer look at the house and its inhabitants. Although this is quite unnecessary, because Miss Hunter is just misled by that useless thing called a woman’s intuition. Anyway. There’s a party at the Rucastle’s house tonight, so it should be fairly easy to get in. Only engaged and married couples are invited. And because Mr Rucastle is very old fashioned it is out of the question that John and I attend this party together.”
John snorted, but Molly kept looking at Sherlock who pushed himself off the counter, put his phone back into his pocket and came over to stand next to them.
not let me go alone with Mary, therefore we need you to play the part of my
With the end of his speech, Sherlock stopped a few feet away from her, crossed his hands behind his back in this typical manner of his and looked expectantly at her. Molly had to blink a few times before she asked to clarify, “Just to get this right: John, Mary, you and I go on a party tonight and pretend to be engaged so John and you can do a recce on the house of this Mister…”
“Rucastle,” John supplied.
Sherlock corrected her, “Well, you and I pretend to be engaged. Mary and John are already married, but basically, yes.”
Molly looked from Sherlock to John and back. The consulting detective nodded, clapped his hands together and stated, “Brilliant, that’s settled then. We’ll pick you up at 7. Don’t be late.” He fished a dark blue velvet box out of his coat pocket, put it next to Molly on the table and nodded once again, “See you later.” He turned towards the door and just as he passed John, he turned his head around, “And wear a long dress.” He graced her with one of his fake smiles, and then he was gone.
There was silence in the room. The two doctors did not know what to say. John wanted nothing more than to punch his best friend – again – and Molly felt totally paralyzed. Her head was swimming. She stared at the velvet box on the table and pointed a finger at it. “John, is that what I think it is?”
John could only do the same and look at the box. “I guess so.” He did not really know what to say.
“Molly, I totally understand if you don’t…”
“No, it’s okay.”
John gave her a look that clearly said that he was not convinced.
“No, seriously, its fine. I’ll do it.” She shrugged her shoulders and tore her gaze away from the object on the table. “It is not like I will be alone with Sherlock, is it? I’ll just enjoy a night out with you and Mary. It’s been ages since I’ve dressed up and went to a party. It’ll be fun”
John was not sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. He gave her a sympathetic look.
“Don’t worry, we won’t leave you alone with the git. You’re right, it will be fun.”
They smiled at each other before John nodded reassuringly and turned to go. “See you later, Molly.”
John’s exit Molly turned back to look at the “gift” Sherlock had left behind.
Hesitantly she picked it up. The dark velvet was soft to touch and the box felt
heavier than she would have thought. With trembling fingers she opened it.
Molly bit her lip when she finally saw what it contained. Her suspicion had
been correct. It was an engagement ring, but it looked very different than the
last one she had worn. It was a white gold solitaire engagement ring with a
single marquise-cut diamond. It was beautiful and perfect and Molly was not
sure if her chest suddenly felt so tight because her heart was about to burst