A/N: I really wanted Sherlock and Molly to have a dance. And not just any dance, a significant one where he would come to terms with how he felt. Rather haphazardly written, I'll admit, but I'm just glad to have these overwhelming feels out of my system. x

After The Dance

"Why do you need such a lavish celebration for being married a year?" Sherlock muttered, absent-mindedly fiddling with the top button of his freshly-pressed shirt.

"It's not lavish, Sherlock. Just a small gathering with family and the close friends who are important to us with whom we want to remember our wedding." replied John for the umpteenth time.

"Can't you just send a card or make a photo montage?" Sherlock remarked cynically, "Must there be dinner and drinks and dancing…"

"Stop whining like a baby, or I'll leave you in charge of Sophie, the actual baby." John threatened.

"At least she doesn't talk…"

"Sherlock, I will make you default babysitter if you don't shut up and just attend our anniversary dinner like a normal grown-up."

"Fine." muttered Sherlock.

"Besides," John smirked, "Molly will be there."

John was right. It had not been lavish, but no less wonderful and heart-warming. Drinks were poured and glasses were clinked amidst bursts of happy laughter. The anniversary couple's favourite songs were playing in the background of the modest little restaurant they had booked for the evening.

Sherlock had been uncomfortable and unpleasant from the moment he had to be part of this event. Parties were never really his cup of tea. However, his discomfort immediately escalated to terror the moment he knew Molly was to be present. He had not seen her much since her confrontation of his drug-use at the lab. After his four-minute departure from London, he saw her even less. Off and on, he would run into her at Bart's and she was careful, cordial but distant. He respected this, and accorded her the same civility.

But there was something unnatural about being this distant from Molly. And this is what terrified him about tonight. If he was being honest, the distance unnerved him. He hated having to walk on eggshells around her, speaking carefully and not asking too much about her.

When she finally arrived, he felt his heart rate go up. He took deep, calculated breaths to quell the uneasiness that flooded him. Despite the crowd, Sherlock never failed to spot her. Even when he turned away, he would always catch the slightest glimpse of her. She would be eating, chatting to Mrs Hudson, cooing over little Sophie Watson, or hugging Mary. Yet, she never escaped him, try as he might.

Sherlock sighed. He did not understand this, but something had to be done.

Molly had just put baby Sophie back into her carrier and returned to her seat, grateful for a refill of her drink. Taking a moment to breathe, she put the glass to her lips and slowly sipped the ice cold champagne.

"Hello, Molly." came a quiet but familiar voice.

Sherlock's tall figure, all suited up, came and sat down beside her.

"Oh, hello." she replied, smiling politely and setting her glass down. "It's a great party, isn't it?"
"Splendid…" Sherlock said, lying through his teeth with a quick flash of an empty smile.
"Hmm, yes." Molly reached for her glass again. Drinks were a great excuse for not having words to say.
"Can we…talk?" asked Sherlock tentatively.
"What about?" Molly turned to look right at him.
"I just…"

"Molly! How've you been?" interrupted one of Mary and Molly's mutual friends.

"Sorry, I was just asking Molly to dance, come on Molly," said Sherlock, putting his arm around Molly and forcing her to stand.
"You were…?" asked a bewildered Molly as Sherlock ushered her to the dance floor.
"Yes. We can talk here." he said, slipping his arm expertly around her waist.

Molly obliged and soon the detective and the pathologist were dancing. It had been so long since they were this close physically. Despite her best efforts, Molly felt a familiar rush come up to her face and her heart began to thump unsteadily against her ribcage. Sherlock would normally have picked up her change in breathing, her cheeks that now flushed a deep pink and he would have definitely noticed the racing pulse. However, he was battling with all his own symptoms brought about by the closeness of their dance. He found his words getting caught in his throat, his eyes unable to shift from her shy and beautiful face before him. His heart that had been racing before now beat so fast it had turned into a hum that rang in his ears.

Despite his original intention of wanting to talk, Sherlock could not find the words to say. And even if he had, he did not know how to say them. Molly danced with him and had no problem with his silence. Working with Sherlock had trained her to be comfortable with his bouts of wordlessness.

"M-Molly…" he stuttered at last.

"Yes?" she answered, smiling gently.

"Might I…see you home tonight? After the party?" he asked.

With a knowing smile, Molly leaned into Sherlock, placing her head against his chest. Her sudden move towards him caused his heart to lurch in his chest, and Molly felt it. As she let him hold her close, swaying gently to the lovely music, the heartbeat that never stopped its havoc in Sherlock's chest was all that Molly needed to know.

"Sherlock?" she said, still leaning against him.
"Let's not wait till after the party."
"What do you mean?"
"After the dance," she said, pulling away and smiling at him, "You can see me home right after this dance."

When Sherlock studied her smile, he recalled that this was a familiar smile. A smile that had offered him a solace he had missed. A smile that he stored only in the private recesses of his mind.

"Of course," he replied, an old sparkle returning into his eyes, "It would be my pleasure."
"Wonderful," Molly remarked, resuming her position, keeping close to the tall detective who gently led their dance.

When the song ended, Mary and John nudged each other as their best friend and his pathologist slipped quietly out of the restaurant with their hands held tight.

After the dance, Sherlock swore he would never let Molly go. Never again.