Forgive and Forget
price of a memory, is the memory of the sorrow it brings.”
― Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four
Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper were seldom on the same page. At the beginning of their acquaintance they had not even read the same book. Now, usually one of them was one or two pages ahead of the other – sometimes consciously, sometimes not. From time to time they happened to be on the same paragraph, but somehow they could not manage to reach the end of it together (probably afraid of what was about to happen next), their attention diverted by annoying footnotes. And it would take another few chapters before they would finally end up on the same page and finish their story together. But we have not come to this point quite yet. Henceforth Molly and Sherlock were in the middle of trying to find their respective page, having lost their bookmark once again.
Molly was worried, very worried. Sherlock had not been seen since his dramatic exit. It had been two days since then. None of his friends had heard anything from him, nor had he come home at night.
On the second day Molly could not hold back anymore and had texted him if he was alright. She had not gotten a reply. She had not been able to concentrate at work, staring at her phone during her lunch break. She had tried to call him then, but he had not picked up. John had done the same thing, with the same outcome.
So you can imagine how surprised Molly was when she entered 221B and Sherlock stood by the window playing his violin. Although the pathologist dreaded the conversation that was supposed to follow, she felt relief wash over her. He was (physically) well. He had come back.
He kept playing and looking out the window while she put up her coat on the hanger. Toby ran over to greet her and circled her legs, before he curled up on John’s chair again.
Molly cleared her throat and hesitantly took a few steps towards the figure by the window.
Sherlock stopped playing – in the middle of some song Molly didn’t recognize – lowered the instrument and suggested, his back still turned towards her, “We should go to St Andrew’s for the honeymoon.”
Molly was taken aback. This was definitely not how she had imagined him to start a conversation. A confused, “What?” was all she could muster.
Only now did he turn around. “St Andrew’s in
Victoria,” he clarified and smiled at her.
Now Molly was really worried he had lost what had been left of his sanity. “Victoria, as in... Australia?” she asked, still not getting where this was leading to. If it was leading anywhere.
He nodded, clearly glad that she had finally caught up. “That one precisely.”
“But that’s on the other side of the world,” she breathed.
“It’s our former convict colony.” Sherlock shouldn’t sound so excited about it, but Molly couldn’t help but smile at that. She was still confused, no doubt about that, but the expression on his face was just endearing.
A chuckle escaped her, “Are you planning on working
during our honeymoon?”
He grinned at her, closed the small distance between them and kissed her on the mouth. She reciprocated instinctively, but when he tried to deepen the kiss she stepped out of his embrace.
She looked at him. He did not seem angry, just a bit hurt that she had pulled back from his display of affection once more.
She took a deep breath and tried to make sense of the situation. She swallowed hard. “Sherlock, I can explain to you why...”
He gave her a stern look and held up a hand. “I don’t want to hear it.” His voice did not leave any room for argument.
“But...,” Molly started to protest, but he turned away from her, walking over to the table to put his violin away.
She sighed tiredly. Sure, she did not want to have this conversation either, but they needed to talk about it. It could not be left hanging in the air between them.
So while Sherlock cleaned and then put away his violin, she came up with another approach.
“I was worried sick,” she said. It was the truth.
He turned away from his task at hand and gave her a confused look.
“You didn’t come home last night,” she clarified, anger bubbling up in her, because she had to explain herself.
It took him only a second to reply, his voice monotone, “I thought it was better that way… for both of us.”
Molly waited for him to say more, but he did not. Instead he put the violin case as well as the music sheets on the music stand away.
Then he seemed to sense that his fiancée was still
staring at him, hands
on her hips, a picture of disapproval. He turned his full attention on her, his
“I’m not going to apologize,” he said. His voice and face lacked any expression.
Molly only nodded and felt the anger take over. She knew that she was supposed to be the one to apologize, because they were responsible for his disappearance, but somehow him not demanding it from her and acting as if nothing had happened, made it all even worse. It made her feel as if she was doing him wrong by trying to help him with his condition, by keeping up this act. In that moment she felt the doubts and the bad conscious she carried with her every day hit her full force. She felt like she was about to explode. She needed a valve. So she snapped, “Sometimes I hate you.”
His reaction made her even more furious, because he did not seem affected at all. If best, he sounded like she was being ridiculous, “You could never hate me. That’s part of your curse.”
Molly balled her hands into fists. “Which curse?”
“Being in love with me,” he said as carelessly as if he stated that the sky was blue.
Now Molly was so agitated that she stuttered, “I... I... You know, I’ve slapped you once, I will do it again.”
“No, actually you’ve slapped me thrice,” he said matter-of-factly and turned away from her, as if that was the end of the conversation.
“You are acting weird,” he accused her while walking over to his laptop. Molly almost wanted to laugh at the irony of it. In her opinion he was the one who acted as if he was out of his mind. But he probably had a right to, because he was out of his mind – even if that was not the correct medical term for his condition.
“What do you mean?” she feigned confusion, but of course she knew very well what he meant: her keeping her distance, her flinching at his touch. She had no idea how he had managed to turn the tables on her. Molly dropped her hands.
“Don’t pretend to be stupid, it doesn’t suit you.” He glanced at her seriously.
This was the chance he gave her, to come clean, to tell him what was bothering her, why she seemed to drift away from him day by day, instead of coming closer. But Molly did not understand what he was doing, she did not understand his offer. She saw it as a threat. A threat to the complex act she was desperately trying to keep up. It would only take one light gust of wind and this whole house of cards she had built up would collapse. And that could not happen. Not until he had all of his memories back – in the right order.
“Like I’ve said, I was worried about you.”
She knew he would not buy it and recognize it as the lame excuse it was, but she did not know what else to say.
All of a sudden she felt drained, exhausted. All her anger had evaporated, and she felt like all that was left was the empty shell of the character she tried to portray every day: Molly Elizabeth Hooper, engaged to William Sherlock Scott Holmes.
Said fiancé regarded her lugubriously. He was disappointed that she refused to talk to him. He knew she was hiding something, they all were: John, Mary, Greg, Mycroft and even his fiancée. She looked just as exhausted as he felt, just as defeated.
He exhaled a long breath and then turned to his laptop. Maybe reading John’s latest bog entry would take his mind off his relationship problems. If he kept talking he was afraid he would say something cruel to his fiancée and that would lead to a nasty domestic. He did not want that. He did not want to say cruel things to her, although now and then some hurtful deductions popped up in his head, and he had a hard time not letting them pass his lips. In those moments he asked himself what was wrong with him.
Molly knew that he was not going to say more on the topic. She contemplated making some tea, when she saw for the first time tonight that Sherlock had spent his time not only with violin playing but also with something entirely different. There were serviettes in different styles on the coffee table.
“Did you fold serviettes?” she asked and pointed towards his creations.
Sherlock did not take his eyes off the screen. “Yes. I thought maybe a rose, a lily or a wedding knot. What do you think?”
Molly had to smile in spite of herself and went over to the coffee table to inspect the serviettes more closely. “Why did you do it? I thought John would take care of the serviettes,” she said while picking up a rose.
She had to admit that it looked pretty. Sherlock had a talent for it. She wondered how long it had taken him to get it right. But then she remembered that Mary had told her that Sherlock had folded serviettes for their wedding as well and that he had done very well. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting detective and serviette-folder. Molly chucked at that thought. Maybe he could do a serviette-deerstalker?
“I got the impression that he does not take it seriously enough,” Sherlock answered her previous question.
“I like the rose, although the wedding knot...” Molly started, but was interrupted by an angry growl from Sherlock.
“What’s the matter?” She went back to his side and looked over his shoulder on the screen.
Sherlock indicated towards it and complained, “John posted an unsolved case again.”
“I don’t see what’s so bad about that. It shows that you are a human being. People don’t want to read about someone being perfect all the time. That’s... boring... and unrealistic.”
“It’s bad for business.”
Molly scanned the page. The title of the blog entry read The Vanishing Umbrella.
“Were Mycroft or Mary Poppins somehow involved in this case?” the pathologist joked.
It made Sherlock chuckle and it eased some of the irritation he was feeling. “No. And the title is totally misleading, for it was Mr Phillimore that had vanished and not his umbrella. I would never investigate in the case of a lost umbrella.”
“Never say never, Sherlock.”
A half smile graced his face before his expression turned thoughtful.
“They still bother you, don’t they?” Molly asked in a hushed tone, following her instinct.
“The unsolved cases. You can’t let them go. That’s why you don’t want John to write about them. They are never closed for you, until they are solved.”
“Of course not. They’re unsolved. I need closure.”
“I understand.” And she really did. She perfectly understood the need for closure. In that aspect Sherlock and Molly were quite similar.
“Sometimes when I am bored or can’t sleep I go back to them,” he voiced out loud. “I have a wing in my mind palace for them. Fortunately they only fill a few rooms, but even one room is too much. There should not be any room in this wing. There should not be a wing dedicated to them at all.”
Molly laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, “No, there should not be one, but it’s there and it is part of your mind palace, part of who you are. And what’s important is that you go back to them from time to time. You have not deleted them or locked them in the cellar. You won’t give up. And that’s what makes you a good person.”
Later that evening the pair was lying in their bed. Sherlock had his arm draped over Molly’s middle and was lying on his side while she was staring at the ceiling. Both were still awake.
It was not their sleeping arrangement that was bothering the pathologist – she had come to terms with it and did not feel nervous about it anymore – but the conversations they had had this evening were running through her head. She could not understand why he did not want an explanation for their Tim from I.T.-scene and why he was acting as if nothing had happened. She still wondered where he had been for the last two days, but did not dare to ask him.
She went through everything he had said to her today, and when she remembered a specific sentence, she could not help but bring it up, “I know why you want to go to Australia for the honeymoon.”
She felt Sherlock shift beside her and his fingers play with a strand of her hair. “You do?” There was a hint of amusement in his voice.
“I’ve read the file Mycroft gave me,” she admitted sheepishly with her gaze glued to the ceiling.
“You mean the file Mycroft gave me?” He stopped playing with her hair.
Molly could not detect if he was angry with her, so she brought up the courage to finally look him in the eyes. Although it was dark in the room, she could see enough.
“I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have… I …” She stopped, because she realized that Sherlock was looking at her with a bemused expression on his face.
She leaned up to rest on her elbows. Sherlock stayed the way he was and regarded her.
“You’ve known all along. You knew I read the file. You were just teasing me!” she exclaimed and slapped him lightly on the shoulder.
She felt his chuckle vibrant through her hand and had to admit that it was a sound she would never get tired of.
“Of course I knew you had read the file. You are a curious person. I would have done the same.” She could definitely hear the smirk in his voice.
He reached for her and pulled her back to him, so that her head rested in his chest. At first she pretended to resist, but then settled comfortably against him, a small smile playing on her lips.
“You’re my fiancée,” he said in a voice that was an odd mixture between loving and warning, “there shouldn’t be any secrets between us.” The smile died on her lips.
For a short moment Molly Hooper had thought that she and Sherlock Holmes were on the same page, but she had been wrong. They were only a few paragraphs apart, but those felt like whole chapters right now, because there was so much space between the lines.