Sherlock took off his Belstaff as he
approached Molly who was sitting under a majestic looking oak tree. Molly had run out without grabbing an extra
layer to protect herself from the autumn chill and Sherlock saw her
shiver. He placed his coat around her
and settled in beside her to wait to see if his presence was rejected or
accepted. He didn’t wait long as she
almost immediately leaned into his presence.
Sherlock took a moment to readjust their bodies by putting one of his
arms around her shoulder and pulling her closer. Molly settled her head on his side but kept
her arms around her legs, which she had pulled up to her chest.
Sherlock was relieved that she was not rejecting him but was once again at a loss of what to do. He knew that he had said and done some not good things but he did wonder how much of his actions were the cause of Molly’s fit. He made a mental note not to call her behaviors a fit in case it was misconstrued. Molly seemed content just to sit for the time being so he decided to keep his mouth shut. He gently kissed the side of her face and put his chin on top of her head before starting to dissect the events of the day. His mind kept getting stuck on what Henry had said. What did Molly get out of their relationship?
He didn’t realize that he had started squeezing Molly’s shoulder tightly until she gasped and wiggled a little to loosen his grip. He mumbled a quick sorry and than cringed inwardly. When had it become second nature to apologize so easily to this woman? He was Sherlock Holmes, he didn’t apologize to anyone for anything, except to Molly Hooper and now even for little things. He had a feeling he would need to be apologizing again once they started talking.
He started to hope that maybe they could avoid talking about what had transpired. Perhaps he would be fortunate and Molly would just ask to go home. She didn’t visit the family much anyway so maybe she would let the matter drop. He also supposed he didn’t need to tell her about the new deal involving Aunt Cecilia. She would find out eventually but perhaps he could get her to come with him at Christmas and he would not have to share her with them for some time. He scratched that idea. He needed Molly to come here for Christmas if he was going to deal with Magnussen. He had his plan almost intact and he couldn’t stray from it. Hopefully the outcome of his plan would end with Magnussen serving a life sentence in a government-controlled facility.
Sherlock was lost in his thoughts but not to the point of being immersed in his mind palace when he heard Molly speak.
“Eight,” she said in a hushed voice of sorrow.
Somehow Molly kept amazing him…he had no idea what she was talking about.
“Eight what?” He asked in response before settling his lips against her hairline.
“Eight people died trying to rescue me before Mary achieved it. The other eight were deleted.”
He felt the slight woman shudder beneath his arm. Sherlock was trying to grasp at a connection to why Molly was thinking about it now. Sentiment. What was the sentiment that connected them? It had to do with the secrets she kept from her family.
He was about to spout off a deduction when his mind-palace Mary made an appearance in her wedding dress and told him to wait and listen. Sherlock argued back that Molly needed to be nudged along and that he was only helping her with his deductions. Mary’s clothes changed in a blink of an eye and she was wearing the outfit that she had worn the night she had shot him. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you will wait.’
Sherlock sighed out loud. This brought Molly’s head up to observe his facial expressions. She started to pull away from him to see him properly. Sherlock misinterpreted the reason for the move and tried to get her to return to their previous pose. After wrestling with their arms for a moment Molly finally told Sherlock to stop and let go. He fought down the urge to pout.
“I need to see your face,” Molly explained as she resituated herself on her knees in front of Sherlock.
“Why, you rarely make eye-contact when you speak?”
“Neither do you unless you are looking for something from someone.”
“What is it you are looking for then Miss Hooper?”
She stuck her tongue out at him. She hated when he used her formal name to put space between them. They were ‘courting’ for goodness sakes!
He smiled in response. If she was willing to act so juvenile then she wasn’t terribly mad at him. They met each other’s eyes despite what they had just observed the moment prior.
Molly pulled her eyes away before speaking. “Why did you tell them about Tom?”
“Why does it bother you?”
Her eyes snapped back up to meet his frustratingly beautiful ones. “We are not playing this game Sherlock,” she said with a frown upon her face.
“I…” Sherlock blinked rapidly. Why had it seemed important to him to divulge the information?
He didn’t like for her family to think she was with Tom. He didn’t like to think of her with Tom. She was never with Tom. They had gone to lunch after Tom’s job was done. He didn’t like that. He didn’t like for that old lady to think someone left Molly. How could anyone leave Molly? Tom liked Molly. Molly’s family probably liked Tom more than they liked him. He didn’t like To-meat dagger. He liked Molly. Molly saved his life. They didn’t know what a wonderful person Molly was and what she had done. No one knew how brave his Molly was.
“I don’t want them to know. I don’t want them to know any of it.” Molly responded to what Sherlock had been thinking out loud.
Sherlock looked at her with his mouth open. He really needed to pay more attention to what he said and didn’t say out loud.
Molly continued, “Eight people lost their lives to help me. This family is nice and normal. I don’t want to bring them any danger. I don’t want anyone else to die on my account because they are connected to me.”
Sherlock endeavored to answer, “I will be more careful in the future with what I say to your family. However, Moriarty is gone and they aren’t in any danger if they know what transpired.”
“The less they know about everything the better. You don’t tell your family everything.”
“Of course not. I don’t need to.” Sherlock scoffed.
“See than you should understand.”
“Mycroft tells mummy so there is no need for me to talk to them. Oh which reminds me Mummy and Papa are coming next weekend and they want to have brunch with you.”
“With me? You’re going to be there right?”
“If I don’t have a case.”
“No. You are going to be there Sherlock.” Molly spoke firmly.
Sherlock looked at her with wide eyes but then narrowed them quickly. He started to argue and then thought better for it. If he escaped brunch he would still be left with two Mrs. Holmes’ angry with him. “Yes, of course.” He smiled his manipulative smile hoping it would get him out of any trouble for his previous comment.
Molly leaned over and smacked his knee. Before she could pull her arm back Sherlock’s hand reached out and grabbed her hand, he gracefully stood up and used it to take her with him.
“We should be heading back. We have a four hour drive.” Sherlock looped their arms together.
He gave a hmm to show that he was listening.
“Could we stay one more night? I’m tired and I need to talk to my family a bit before we head out.”
He wanted to say that she could sleep in the car but the words died on his lips as soon as he looked at her. Her brother was right in asking what she got out of the relationship. It wouldn’t really be so hard to stay another night he supposed, as long as her brothers didn’t set fire to his bed.
Sherlock groaned inwardly about having to face Molly’s family again, especially after his dramatic exit. When they reached the house he told Molly to go on without him because he needed a moment. She knew he was going to have a smoke but she didn’t want to argue anymore for the day. She wanted to smooth things over, then she wanted to take a shower and go to bed, nothing more nothing less.
She apologized to her family for running off. Her family members were mostly huggers and sought to reassure her of their affections. She apologized for not telling them about Tom and asked them to understand. They assured her that they did but did include that she could tell them about anything. She made arrangements to stay an extra night, which of course was no problem for a mother who rarely saw her daughter. Anne also made sure that Molly would still be coming for Christmas and explained about the new arrangement in regards to Aunt Cecelia. Molly tried to say it wasn’t necessary but Anne held firm and apologized. There were tears and hugs before Molly finally headed off to bed feeling lighter than she had in awhile.
Sherlock tried to slink back in unnoticed as he saw the families pack up and leave. He saw Molly’s mother sitting on the couch but it faced away from the stairs. He attempted to slip behind the couch to go up to his room without having to talk to any more Hoopers but it was not to be. He hadn’t made it up two steps before Molly’s mother beckoned to him.
“Care to join me Mr. Holmes?” Anne asked as she sipped from a mug.
With Sherlock’s back to her he pulled a few faces before turning around with his charming smile as he walked around the couch to face the last Hooper. She patted a seat on the striped couch. It was brightly colored and Sherlock could see where Molly’s tastes came from. He hesitated a moment before giving in and sitting with her. He sat stiffly with his hands flat on his knees as he waited for her to speak. He looked straight ahead but his eyes would go to the side from time to time to look at her from his peripheral vision.
Anne smiled at his discomfiture though not unkindly. “Would you like some coffee? Black two sugars, Molly tells me this is how you like it.” She indicated the mug on the table.
Sherlock went ahead and grabbed the mug. He tried to recall all etiquette his parents had taught him. Dealing with Molly’s mother was going to be vastly different then with the brothers. So far she had been kind but she did raise Molly for a portion of her life and he could see that underneath her soft exterior she had a steel resolve. If he won over Molly’s mother he wouldn’t need to worry about the brothers interference in their lives.
He set the coffee back down on the table. “Thank you for the coffee.”
“You’re very welcome Mr. Holmes.” Anne smiled at him.
They spent a moment in silence. For Sherlock it was uncomfortable but Molly’s mother just observed the man sitting on her couch. Sherlock found he did not like being the one to be observed.
“I’m not like Tom,” Sherlock broke the silence.
“Indeed you are not.” Anne set her mug on the coffee table and waited until Sherlock looked at her before continuing to talk. “I may not be a famous detective but I can tell my daughter’s feelings and I knew that she did not care for him the way she cares for you. I also thought you were dead and thought she was trying to cope with the loss.”
“We weren’t together then.” Sherlock tried to clarify the situation.
“No, but she did love you above all else I had seen her love before,” Anne said with a sigh and a slight frown.
Sherlock started to panic at the seemingly unhappy look on Mrs. Hooper’s face. “I know I am not what anyone would imagine for their daughters-“
Anne held up a hand to stop Sherlock’s words. “Honestly, I didn’t imagine Molly with anyone ever. She doesn’t open up to anyone and seems to keep everyone at arms length. Our Molly is special Mr. Holmes.”
Sherlock swallowed and nodded his head in agreement. “Your sons don’t seem to approve and are worried about Molly’s safety.”
“Can you blame us for our concern? That is neither here nor there. That is Molly’s decision but I will pray for your safety.”
Sherlock’s cheek twitched at the sentiment but he continued to listen to Molly’s mother as she continued to speak.
“When Molly came to us she was deeply hurt. We don’t know the extent of what she has been through but I am more concerned about her emotional well being than her physical safety. Obviously her safety is something you do not take lightly either if you ensured a bodyguard for her before you ever started dating. It took her awhile before she let us in emotionally and when my husband died she withdrew from us almost completely. When we did see her she put on a mask and didn’t let us get much further. The only thing she talked about with enthusiasm over the years was you.”
Sherlock took in Mrs. Hooper’s soliloquy and reminded himself how much more he knew about Molly than her adopted family did. He hoped this monologue was not going to end with he was no good for Molly. It would make things very difficult, not that he wasn’t up for the challenge, but he also believed he was not good for her. The next words took him by surprise.
“I worry about her having so much devotion to you but in some ways you are good for her. I haven’t seen her so…alive, for lack of a better term, in years. Perhaps ever.”
Sherlock looked at her with wide eyes.
“That being said,” continued Anne, “I am most concerned of you taking advantage of her.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes and shifted uncomfortably, “I assure you, Molly and I have not consummated our relationship in such a manner.”
Anne giggled at his discomfort, “That was not quite what I was referring to. Molly has a bad habit of not being able to say no.”
“Well, she has gotten very good at saying no lately,” he added in a grumble, “mostly to me,” and rubbed the back of his head where Molly often landed a smack. “However, I will own that in the past…and sometimes I still do take advantage of her generous nature. But…she is able to see me.” Sherlock added the last sentence softly.
The two people who cared for Molly continued their discussion for over an hour. Sherlock finally asked if he could ask Molly to marry him. This time he was able to ask with proper manners like he had practiced with John. Mrs. Hooper had gotten up and gave Sherlock a kiss on the cheek and welcomed him to the family in response.
Sherlock exhausted by the day’s emotional events made his way to Molly’s room and nudged her over. Molly woke up immediately.
“Sherlock?” Molly said with sleep in her voice. “You can’t be in here.”
“Molly, I just got through a grueling day with your family. I think I earned the right to sleep in the same bed as you.”
“It’s a twin bed! You were the one who insisted on coming here.” Molly started to wake up a bit more.
“Here,” Sherlock tried to maneuver their bodies around, “Just lay on my chest like this…”
By the time they had rearranged Sherlock was fully laying on his back with Molly sprawled three quarters of the way on top of him.
“I am not going to be able to sleep like this,” Molly complained.
“Just for a little bit,” Sherlock insisted.
“Did you accomplish whatever it was you wanted in coming here?” Molly asked with a yawn.
Sherlock gave a non-committal hum. “Your family is worried about your safety with me. Perhaps it would be better for you-“
He felt a fist hit him on the chest. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence. You didn’t worry about this before.”
“I was being selfish and I didn’t think through the logistics. Once I did I almost didn’t go through with this relationship.”
“But you did. So why question it now?”
When Sherlock didn’t answer Molly made to get up but Sherlock held on fast and wouldn’t let her go.
“I was just going to turn on the light so we could see each other.”
Sherlock’s only response was to hold on tighter to her. Molly gave up and laid her head back down on Sherlock’s chest.
“Let’s only have this conversation once. The chances are we will probably face danger multiple times. Especially since it seems to find me and you tend to go looking for it. We need to be sure we can face it together.” Molly spoke in the darkness.
“You’re not afraid?”
“I am always afraid of losing you, but I have come to realize that that won’t change whether I am with you or not.”
“What about your safety?”
“I feel safer with you.”
Sherlock let out a sigh of exasperation and raised an arm to run through is hair. “Feelings can’t be trusted.”
“Sherlock you need to decide. Either we face these things together or…”
“We need to end this. And we will need to end it now and break off all ties.”
“That…seems a bit dramatic.”
“I have given you my heart Sherlock and I won’t take it back but I can’t…” Molly stopped and looked for the words. “We can’t go back and forth. We either move forward or it ends. We can’t go back to the way things were.”
“What do you even get out of being with me Molly Hooper?”
“You have allowed me to be a part of your life in a way I never thought I would be able to be with anyone. You don’t flinch back from my past. You accept me and I don’t have to hide who I am. You are a good man and I love you William Scott Sherlock Holmes.”
Sherlock groaned, “I should never have told you my full name.”
“You know both of my full names it’s only fair that I know yours.”
“How about we give you a new name?”
“There’s no going back from this Sherlock.”
“Will you go forward with me Molly? Will you…”
Molly groaned as Sherlock seemed to go into himself.
“I’m still here…I’m trying to figure out how to say it. John said I had to do it just right. I didn’t even make a plan. I am supposed to take you out to a restaurant and get down on one knee.”
While Sherlock continued to ramble off what he was supposed to do to propose Molly lifted her head up to reach Sherlock’s and stopped him with a kiss to his lips. Sherlock stopped in shock.
“That’s the first time you initiated a kiss.”
“Yes, well…you were doing fine on your proposal before. Are you asking me or John to marry you?”
“You. I am asking you to marry me.”
“Yes? It was that easy?”
“Yes. Now let me go back to sleep.”
With that Sherlock jumped out of the bed nearly knocking Molly to the floor. When he came back to the room he found Molly had locked the door. He shook his head at her attempts to keep him out. Once he got in her room he marveled at how she could fall asleep so easily when they had just gotten engaged. He really hoped he hadn’t proposed in his mind palace again. He would get her reassurance in the morning. For the time being he made himself content by slipping an elegant engagement ring on to her finger as she slept.