Copper Beaches

Forget me not

“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull.”
― Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

Sherlock Holmes had had a lot on his mind lately. Well, he had always had a busy mind – sometimes so busy that he had trouble sleeping and that it was in need of constant exercise. But usually his thoughts circled around a case or an experiment, but in the last couple of weeks the problem that had been bothering him, had been of a more private nature. Sure, he was still on the Rucastle case, but since there had not been any new evidence, he was stuck. Therefore he had had time to think about other... stuff... relationship stuff. Namely the curious behaviour of his fiancée.

Granted, Molly had always been... different, but so was he. That was one of the reasons he thought she was perfect for him – they were both extraordinary people who were sometimes misunderstood by the rest of the world.

But since he had come home from hospital, his fiancée had acted more and more odd. She would not talk about the wedding, she would flinch when he touched her, she let him take her hand or embrace her, but never initiated physical contact herself. It still bothered him that she did not want to have intercourse with him. He did not doubt her saying that they had agreed on not having sex before the wedding, yet still it stroke him as odd. Molly had always found him attractive (even before they had been together). He had seen her stare at him in an approving way more than once in the morgue when she thought he would not notice. Then why did she not want to have sex with him?
When he kissed her, he had the feeling she desperately wanted to be somewhere else, or was thinking of someone else. The only time he felt like she had been in the moment had been at Christmas. Because that kiss had felt real.

Apparently the first obvious conclusion would be that she was cheating on him. But first of all, Sherlock knew for a fact that Molly Hooper would never cheat on him and secondly he was the only consulting detective in the world. He would have deduced it if she had had an affair.

He felt her retreat from him, like she was slowly drifting away and he did not know what to do about that. He had never been exceptionally good at talking about his feelings, and every time he had tried to ask her what was bothering her, she had changed the subject or waved it off. He could see that she was unhappy, and he did not want her to be.

Additionally some memories in his Mind Palace left him confused. Like when he remembered rescuing Molly from her abductor. He had embraced her and held her, but why had he not kissed her? Why had he felt so uneasy all of a sudden? Why had he felt embarrassed, almost ashamed? Why had he retreated from her? Why had he left her alone in the interrogation room? Why had he turned his back on her? This was not how a devoted fiancé was supposed to behave. Maybe they had had a domestic he could not remember? But even if… Maybe, maybe, maybe, ... He was sick and tired of all this speculation. He did not speculate. He observed and deduced, but that had proven to be fruitless in this case. So he had decided to try another approach.

He stood by the window, staring outside with his hands clasped behind his back when he heard her enter. She had been in a rush to come here, he noticed. She was slightly out of breath.

“You wanted to see me?” she asked, trying to get his attention.

He turned around and smiled at her. “Yes.” He started to walk towards her, “Molly?”


She seemed a bit nervous, not knowing why he had texted her to come. He could see that she was worried. He stopped and looked down for a second, gathering his thoughts. Somehow this conversation felt weird, like a déjà vu. He looked back up at her.

There she stood in the doorway, looking uncertain, biting her lip in a blouse that was too bright and a hideous jumper. A pink and black striped scarf was loosely tied around her neck – she had been in a hurry when she had done it. He had to smile. You could always rely on Molly’s lack of aesthetic consideration.

He resumed walking towards her slowly, cleared his throat and asked, “Would you like to...”
“... solve crimes?” Molly finished the sentence simultaneously while he was saying, “... have dinner?”

Both stared at each other for a moment, looking taken aback.

Molly shook her head as if to clear it and was the first to find her voice again. “Why would you want to have dinner with me?”

Sherlock cocked his head to the side and frowned, “Are you serious?”

She only shrugged uncertain.

“Do I need a reason for taking my fiancée to dinner?”

“Yes, I mean... No. It’s just... We’ve never had dinner before, I mean, at a restaurant.”

She was nervously rambling and it reminded him of a time when she could not sting together a single sentence in his presence that was not about citing her findings of an autopsy. Those days were gone. But every now and then she seemed to relapse when she was extremely nervous or uncertain. He did not understand why him asking her out to dinner was such an occasion. He did not mean dinner. Just dinner. And even if, he was quite sure Molly would not know about the double meaning.

“I’d like to redeem your voucher from Christmas. It was an invitation to dinner, remember?”

“Yes, I remember.” She looked down unto her shuffling feet and nestled with the seam of her scarf.

Sherlock took another step, but remained out of her personal space. He did not want her to feel cornered, but he had to tell her. Things could not go on like that between them. This was not what he wanted.

Slowly he put his forefinger under her chin and lifted her head, so that she had no other choice but to look at him. He could feel that she wanted to resist, but she let it happen. Her brown eyes were wide, as if she was afraid of what he would want from her.

“I do see it, you know,” he said in a serious but suave tone.

“What do you mean?” Her eyes grew even wider which made her look startled, and he let his hand sink to his side.

“At first I was angry, because you really thought you could get away with it.”
Molly started to have a bad feeling. A really bad feeling. She swallowed hard. It did not escape his perceptive gaze.

“You thought I would not notice, I would not observe, I could not deduce it. But of course I did.”

Her heart clenched. She was surprised that he was so calm about it. She had expected him to shout at her, to insult her and maybe even hate her. She had prepared herself for the worst. But just like everything else that had happened since that fateful night at the Rucastle’s, it was totally different from what she had expected.

“I gave you a chance to explain yourself when I asked you why you were acting weird, but you chose not to. I won’t deny that I was disappointed. I thought you trusted me.”

“I do ...,” she tried to interject, but he interrupted her, “Obviously not as much as I thought. So I think we should sit down, have dinner and talk about it.” His tone was reasonable and controlled, although he did not feel like in control at all. He felt like he had lost control the moment his head had collided with that darn marble table.

“About...” Molly squeaked.

“About the reason why you don’t trust me. Why you keep things from me. One needn’t be me to see the signs and figure it out.” He sounded lugubrious.

“Sherlock, I...”

He held up a hand. “At dinner, not now. At the moment I need you to help me with a serious decision, which should have been made weeks ago, but I happened to find out that it hadn’t.”

He went over to the coffee table, motioned her to join him and opened something that looked like a catalogue.

For a second Molly remained transfixed by the spot. Her mind was running wild. He wanted to talk to her, but not now. Why? How?

Sherlock looked at her over his shoulder, asking her with his expression why she was still standing at the door. She gave herself a mental push and joined him at the table.

She followed the line of his finger and got even more confused when she realized what this was all about.

“The cake?!” she exclaimed, staring at the pictures of delicious looking pastry Sherlock was presenting her.

“You dragged me away from work because of some cake?” She could not believe his nerve.

“Not some cake, our wedding cake!” He sounded a bit angry.

Molly sighed and drew a hand over her face. She felt like she was getting a headache.

“Sherlock, you said in your text it was extremely important.”

The moment she had finished her sentence and she saw his eyes turn to slits, she knew she had said the wrong thing.

“This is important!” he hollered and Molly took a faltering step back. She had seen him getting furious a few times, but never had his anger been directed at her – at least not to this extent. This was not only Sherlock being angry, this was Sherlock being hurt. If her moment of panic was visible, he did not give any indication that he had noticed.

“It is our wedding! Could you manage to have at least the decency to act as if you’d care!” His eyes were burning with reproach.

“Sherlock, I...,” she stammered. She was not sure what to tell him. This was all too much for her. It was getting out of control.

Sherlock was so furious. Didn’t she see that he wanted to make it right, for her? He saw that he had frightened her with his outburst, but he was at his wits end. He growled, tucked at his curls and went over to the window. He thought about telling her to leave, or about getting out of here himself, but that would have been rude. It was one of those disturbing thoughts he had on occasion – like when he had a cruel deduction at the tip of his tongue. He was not sure where those thoughts came from. They seemed right and wrong at the same time.

Molly plopped down onto the armchair defeated and sighed deeply. She wanted to talk him out of involving himself with such dull questions as which cake to choose, but she knew it would be in vain. They were way past that stage now.

Her eyes flickered over the different images of cakes that all looked not only delicious, but extremely expensive. Someone had circled the photo of the cake on the right corner of the page with red marker. That someone was presumably Sherlock. She took a closer look.

“Looks like you’ve already chosen the cake,” she stated, not in an accusing way, but more with a little mirth in her voice.

“I made a... preselection. It’s a suggestion,” Sherlock’s voice came over from his place by the window.

He kept it neutral, but Molly could detect that his anger was drifting away.

“You suggest chocolate raspberry cake?”

“It’s your favourite one.”

Molly could hear him turn away from the window and come closer again, but she did not look up from the image of the cake Sherlock had circled.

“How do you know?” she breathed with wonder in her voice.

“You had it on our first date,” he stated like she was mad for forgetting something like that.

Sherlock sat on the armrest of the chair, but Molly was busy searching her mind for the moment Sherlock could classify for their first date that involved chocolate raspberry cake. To her surprise she came up with a suitable memory rather quickly:

Sherlock had been in the lab, looking at some evidence through his microscope, when Molly had come back from her lunch break, coffee and dessert in her hand. She had greeted him (he had not acknowledged her presence with more than a nod), sat beside the consulting detective with some paperwork and had sipped her coffee and ate her chocolate raspberry cake.

After about ten minutes of comfortable silence, she had felt him staring at her. She had turned to look at him when he had chastised her, “I don’t think you should eat chocolate raspberry cake in the lab. You are contaminating my workspace.” She had been pissed off by his comment. Feeling courageous thanks to endorphins provided by chocolate she snapped, “This is my workspace and my favourite cake. So either deal with it or leave.”

She would never forget the look on his face. He had blinked, opened and closed his mouth, but remained silent. He had returned to his work and had mumbled under his breath, “You could have at least brought me a coffee too.” With a smug smile she had finished her slice of cake and then had gotten him some coffee as well. He had actually thanked her.

Molly came back from her memory. Obviously Sherlock remembered that incident a bit differently. Still, she was impressed that he had remembered that chocolate raspberry cake was her favourite one.

There was a ghost of a smile hovering over her lips. “I would not have thought you remembered that,” she told him truthfully.

He smiled proudly at her. “So you want chocolate raspberry cake, then?” He regarded her closely but with hidden joy in his eyes.

“Yes, chocolate raspberry cake would be lovely.”

Sherlock clapped his hands together and got up. “Brilliant, I’ll tell the confectioner.”

Molly got up as well and was just about to ask him, if she could go back to work now that the case of the wedding cake was solved, when he went on, “Do you think there will be a murder at our wedding?”

Molly knew that it was wrong that a person sounded so excited about this prospect. And it was even more wrong that she did not mind.

“Sherlock...,” she started, trying to keep the laughter out of her voice.

He went on, as if he had not heard her, “Well, technically it was only attempted murder at John’s wedding. So if there were a murder at our wedding, we...”

“Sherlock, this is not a competition!” she reminded him with a stern voice, but was belied by the amused twinkle in her eyes.

He turned to look at her with a wicked grin. She chuckled and shook her head.

He turned serious all of a sudden. “I did not only drag you here to talk about the cake.”
“I had hoped so,” she said, waiting to see where this was headed.

He scratched his neck and his eyes darted around the room. If it were not making Molly nervous, she would have found it endearing.

“Do you think Toby would mind having a dog friend?”

“What?” Molly had no idea where this had come from.

Sherlock started pacing, explaining, “You know I ... almost like Toby, I understand that he is important to you. But I’ve always been more of a dog’s person, and so I was wondering if you would mind getting a dog? It would be beneficial for my work, and we could train it to become a cadaver dog. I’ve always wanted to have a cadaver dog.”

He looked at her like a 5-year-old that asked his mommy for a puppy for Christmas. Molly had to hold back a laugh at the sight and tried to reason with him, “I don’t know, Sherlock. Apart from the fact that this flat might be a bit small for a cat and a dog... What if it whimpers or barks when it’s alone? I don’t think Mrs Hudson would…”

Suddenly Sherlock went rigid, his head snapped towards her and he exclaimed, “It barked! Molly Hooper, you are brilliant! That’s it!”

He took her face in both his hands and kissed her soundly.

When he let her go and was already busy snatching his phone from the coffee table and getting his coat, she mumbled confused, “What’s what?”

He turned around while tying the blue scarf around his neck. “The dog!” he said, as if she was being deliberately slow.

“What?” Molly could still not follow.

“The curious incident of the dog in the night-time!”

“What?” Molly repeated, but Sherlock was already running down the stairs while talking to John on the phone.
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