Sherlock had spent his life trying to keep the things that matter to him from his brothers meddling grip.
Even as a newborn, Sherlock's mother had claimed he wailed when she so much as glanced at Mycroft.
Twelve years later, when his beloved roguish Irish Setter was on the precipice of death, Sherlock took Redbeard out to the woods to spend their last few days away from his sibling.
"He's my dog, Mycroft." Sherlock had spat out, with as much venom as much a twelve year old could muster. "Not yours."
It continued on even into early adulthood, which was a period where drugs became the only thing that mattered to him. His brother, now settled into his government position that Sherlock abhorred, used the resources available to him to track down his younger brother to his dingy 'borrowed' flat.
"Heroin, Sherlock? Goodness me," Mycroft had tutted once he'd found him, picking up the packets of brown powder which lay on the coffee table.
Sherlock was in no mood to be toyed with, jolting forward from his place on the stained couch to grab a vice like grip around his brothers arm.
"Those are mine,"Sherlock argued, his voice dangerous but the tremors running through his frail body showing him up as no threat.
Months later, when Sherlock had finally come to realisation that his drug habit would lead to early grave, Mycroft was by his side incessantly.
"I can organise a place for you at the best rehabilitation centre in the country," Mycroft informed him, a hand placed on his shoulder.
Sherlock shrugged out of brother's touch violently. "I don't want your help, Mycroft. This is my responsibility."
Little changed once he gotten clean, on his terms of course, and set his brilliant mind to becoming the worlds only consulting detective. They were still his cases, though he did in time share the thrill of them with Dr John Watson.
Mycroft and Sherlock's first true alliance came when it became obvious that Jim Moriarty was no minor threat.
It became clear to Mycroft then that Sherlock had found something else that had become important to him.
In a call a day before The Fall, Sherlock had news for Mycroft. "I have enlisted the help of Molly, should I need the body of my lookalike." Sherlock stated.
"For goodness sake Sherlock, we did not need the help of a pathologist. I would have been more than capable of making the arrangements." Mycroft huffed from behind his desk.
"She's not just a pathologist," Sherlock replied with a tightness in his voice that Mycroft recognized. "She's my pathologist."
Molly Hooper, Mycroft had to admit, was something of a revelation.
In the few times he'd met the young, cheery pathologist, he hadn't thought much of her, but Sherlock had placed immense trust in her. Mycroft knew gaining Sherlock's trust was no easy feat.
He first visited her in her flat not long after Sherlock had left London for South America to deal with Moriarty's vast network. Molly, not expecting a visit from a Holmes, was in her tatty old university jumper and tartan pyjamas bottoms.
"Oh hello Mycroft! Come in." Molly had invited him in enthusiastically.
Like his brother, deducing people with relative ease was hobby of his. Molly, from the pictures she had in her hallway, was an only child raised by a single father. It was rather obvious to Mycroft that there been a theme of heavy loneliness that followed her throughout her life.
Mycroft took a seat on Molly's couch at her insistence. Toby, Molly's cat, perked up at the visitor, rubbing himself on Mycroft trouser leg. Mycroft looked down at the cat purring happily with wonder.
"I think he likes me." Mycroft muses, his eyes following the feline as it jumped up next to its owner.
"Yeah, well he also liked Jim Moriarty," Molly patted Toby's head fondly. She grinned at Mycroft cheekily, her eyes alight with anything but the loneliness he would have expected. "So he's not a very good judge of character."
That was the first of many times Mycroft would surprised by Molly Hooper.
Mycroft, often because of pestering from Sherlock, informed Molly of his progress in his mission.
He did find himself enjoying his visits to her small, homely flat because while being an exceptionally bright woman, Molly had quirky sense of humour and positive outlook.
He could not admit even to himself that at times he needed Molly Hooper, just to remind him, to reassure him, Sherlock wasn't actually dead. That he was in some far off country, not under the black headstone the world thought him to be. Mycroft suspected the love the both shared for him, the need to protect him, bound them.
It wasn't until Mycroft received a frantic call from Molly in the middle of one May night that he saw the serious side of her. He arrived at her flat quickly to find a less panicked Molly, her clothing soaked in blood, but her hands were steady as she lead him into her living room.
Mycroft could hear Sherlock groaning about his brothers arrival from the couch. From the loudness of his grumblings, his condition was not as serious as Molly had first thought.
"Its a minor stab wound, Molly," Sherlock snapped, his hand stretching out to clutch hers. "It will heal fine, thanks to you. I just need a days rest."
Molly's mouth was set into a scowl. "Minor stab wound my arse, Sherlock Holmes. You could have bled out if you hadn't made it here."
Molly glanced at both Holmes men. Mycroft could see a ferocity in her calm nature, a solidity to her resolve before she even spoke. The doctor in her was back as she stated firmly, "And you're not going anywhere until I tell you you've recovered."
Both Molly and Sherlock turned their heads to Mycroft for backup. Mycroft pressed his lips into a thin line to stop the hint of a smile he wanted to give. He did adore to see his brother put in his place. "You heard the doctors orders, brother."
It wasn't until Sherlock made his return to London that his brothers friendship with Molly Hooper began to irritate him. Molly herself was unaware of this development, but Mycroft was not.
Mycroft had resorted to begging his brother to take their parents to the West End show their mother was raving about. Sherlock took great pleasure in refusing him. Once it was apparent Sherlock had no intention to graciously take his place from the horror that was a musical, Mycroft set in work the makings of a devious plan.
The first element of this plan involved a visit to St Barts and a certain petite pathologist.
Molly had greeted him, despite the large stack of paperwork piled on her desk, with a beaming smile, her brown hair ponytail swishing with excitement in the space of her office.
"Mycroft! I was just about to stick the kettle on, fancy some tea?" She said, a brightness in her eyes despite the long hours she'd been working.
"Hello Molly. No, I'm just dropping in," Mycroft replied, leaning over her desk the way he did when he was barking orders. "I've got a favour to ask."
Molly was not intimidated by the older Holmes by this point. "What'd you need?" Molly's eyes narrowed and her mouth quirked up."You're not going to ask me to help fake your death, are you?"
"No, much worse than that, I'm afraid," Mycroft said with a deadpan expression. "I was wondering if you would be willing to go to a show with my parents."
A perplexed expression appeared on Molly's face. "A show? With your parents?"
"Yes, they've been in town for Sherlock's return and my mother has been insistent on going to see this musical. Sherlock refuses to take my place just this once. I can't bear going to another one, honestly Molly-"
Molly held a hand up to stop his speech. She was willing to help with Sherlock's bizarre requests and he wasn't half as polite in asking as Mycroft. And she did love the odd musical. "I'll do it. Text me all the details."
Mycroft watched the young woman as she pottered around her portable kettle, desperately in need of caffeine, if the bags under her eyes were anything to go by.
He felt a rush of affection towards the woman in front of him and was struck by how not only was she loyal and brave, but how kind as well. Well worthy of his brother, if only he'd get a move on and let her know how he felt.
Molly, all the while, was trying to hide the smile on her face as she developed the mental list of the questions she intended on asking the parents of the two most brilliant and ridiculous men she'd ever known.
Molly glanced over her shoulder to one of those brilliant men. "Yeah?"
Mycroft gave her a genuine smile and looked down at his watch. "I think I'll stay for that cuppa."
"Why are you all dressed up?"
Molly tried not to wince when Sherlock inquired about her outfit choice when he made an surprise appearance in the morgue. She'd intended to meet Sherlock's parents at the venue as organised over a quick chat on the phone with Mrs Holmes, who was excited about the prospect of meeting her. She would be late if she let Sherlock delay her too long.
It was the first time she'd seen him here since the first day of his return, when he'd surprised her in the locker room, when they were both worrying about the reception he would receive from their former army doctor friend.
She glad that John had had the ability to forgive Sherlock, and her for her part in his supposed death. Molly had a theory his lovely blonde haired fiancee had been a helping hand in that.
"I'm going to see a show." She replied honestly, knowing Sherlock would spot a lie a mile away. Her hands fiddled with her the clasp of her bracelet in nervousness.
Sherlock noticed and his eyes narrowed. "With who?"
Molly was unsure of whether or not to tell him the truth and that had her stuttering. "Ehm-well, you see-"
"He didn't." Sherlock spat, wrestling his phone out his pocket, jabbing at the devices button before attaching it to his ear forcefully. "Mycroft!"
Sherlock could imagine his brother's infuriatingly smug expression. "Hello brother dear. What do I owe the pleasure?"
"You know exactly why I'm phoning Mycroft!" Sherlock replied angrily. His eyes scanned appreciatively over Molly's new, fitted blue dress. Another fact he could store away in his Mind Palace about Molly Hooper; blue was most certainly her colour. "Molly has never even meet our parents and you expect her to put up with them for a full evening."
Molly had opened her mouth to argue with him but Sherlock's raised hand stopped her protest.
Mycroft's plan was most certainly on course. It took all his effort to keep the glee out of his voice as he said, "Well brother, if you're so worried about our dear Molly, I've left an extra ticket for you with Mummy. Her and father are just going to adore-"
Mycroft was cut off by Sherlock hanging up in irritation. Sherlock sighed heavily, as he slipped his phone back into his pocket. He could endure almost anything with the help of Molly, but his mother would never let him hear the end of how gorgeous and sweet his lady friend was, as if Sherlock hadn't noticed. Damn Mycroft and his meddling.
"We better get a move on," Sherlock announced wearily, offering out his arm to his smiling pathologist. "It appears we have a show to attend."
Weeks later, Mycroft dropped into Baker Street and it appeared his brother was still put out by his meddling.
If Sherlock scrunched expression wasn't an obvious indicator, his words were. "What do you want Mycroft?"
Mycroft made a move to retort but was halted by the voice of a familiar female coming from the living room. "Don't be rude Sherlock," Molly scolded him, her lips breaking into a smile when she came into the view of Mycroft.
She breezed past Mycroft, her dainty feet gliding across the wooden floor of the kitchen. Sherlock noted how comfortable she was in his home, happily sifting through his cupboards in search of something. Her hair flowing carelessly down her back, released from its usual ponytail. From the angle where he sat he was only graced with her profile, but the soft lighting illuminated her skin. He didn't need phone calls from his besotted mother about how beautiful (and darling and intelligent) she was.
Mycroft noticed his brother's admiring gaze and smirked.
"Molly is helping me with some experiments." Sherlock stated and his posture became defensive. Of late, he was being distracted by Molly Hopper's presence more and more, and yet he was often the one seeking it out.
Mycroft hummed non-commitedly and turned his attention to Molly. "While I'm here, Molly, I should thank you for you help with stabbings last week."
"What stabbings?" Sherlock questioned, a pout forming on his face.
"Three women were stabbed by what the police thought was a serial killer." Mycroft relayed to his brother. "I was asked to take look into it by Prime Minister. One of the girls was an MP's daughter."
Molly confidently interjected into the telling of the story. "When Mycroft came to the morgue to take a look at her body, he said she'd been found last, but her decomp was by far the longest of three. That meant she was killed first, but her body was dumped after the others."
Sherlock could see where this was leading and nodded knowingly. "That means the killer likely knew the victim, and tried to cover up the link by murdering the other two. Who was it? The boyfriend?"
"Husband. Wanted to get to Spain with his mistress and his money," Mycroft said boredly. "Would have if it hadn't been for Molly.
Sherlock, for some ridiculous reason, felt a hot spike of jealously. Perhaps it was at the notion of his brother and Molly working together, or the humble smile his brother had evoked out of her, and he could not help but spit back reply. "Maybe you two should become a crime fighting duo."
Spurred on by Sherlock's sarcasm, Mycroft joked. "We could put you and John out of a job."
One trait Molly adored in both the Holmes brother was their dry sense of humour. She gave Mycroft one of her signature grins, her brown eyes alight with mischief. "We'd need a good name though. Remember what the newspapers called you? Hatman and Robin, wasn't it?"
Sherlock made a grunt of conformation. His face then transformed into one of amusement aimed at Molly. "You could be Catwoman, given the ridiculous inclinations you have towards felines."
Sherlock then moved his eyes to scan over his older brother. "And you're more like Fatman, judging by the half stone you've put on since I last saw you."
Molly's delighted giggles mixed with the rumblings of deep chuckles from Sherlock, and Mycroft couldn't bring himself to ruin their childlike merriment with a retort.
It slowly became apparent to everyone of importance in Sherlock's life just how deep his affection ran for Molly Hooper.
"Think he'll ever be smart enough to realise he's in love with that poor woman?" Lestrade had asked John at the annual Baker Street Christmas gathering. Both their gazes were fixed on the Molly, mixing together a cocktail for herself and Mary, Sherlock hovering behind her shoulder like he was observing her conduct an experiment.
John sipped his beer, pondering how quickly he would have scoffed at the suggestion his best friend would fall in love with the brown eyed pathologist not that long ago. Greg could see his mouth turn up around the rim of his glass as he said, "I bloody hope so," and drained the remainder of the drink.
As the Christmas period passed, Mycroft found himself disappointed that he was still reporting to his mother that Sherlock and Molly's relationship was still just of a platonic nature. They both agreed Sherlock would need to a friendly push in the right direction.
Sherlock did receive a push, but it was more like a hard shove, and it was not from his well meaning brother or mother.
"Mr Holmes," the male voice had drawled out over the phone. "I'm warned you to stop looking for my son."
Sherlock recognized the accent instantly. Scottish. It was not hard for him to link the man on the phone to the case he'd been working on recently, a set of nasty shootings linked to a high profile gang member in Glasgow. During his search for the suspect, he'd received several threatening messages to halt his efforts.
In his line of work, Sherlock had become accustomed to the occasionally criminal trying to intimidate him. "And why exactly would I do that?"
The voice gave an exaggerated sigh. "Such a sweet little thing, your pathologist friend," Sherlock could feel his stomach drop at the frighteningly calm tone of the caller.
Sherlock could feel anger blooming throughout his body and bringing out the deep tones in his voice. "What have you done to her?"
"I haven't done a single thing," The caller replied, "But I sent one of my men, nasty piece of work he is, to pay her quick visit. Who knows what he'll get up to."
"I'll stop looking for him," Sherlock pledged, panic seeping into his voice. "Don't hurt her."
"Oh, its too late for the Mr Holmes," the caller paused, considered his next words with calculating precision and gave Sherlock a final blow. "It's such a shame I wasn't there, I wonder if she screamed-,"
Before the caller could finish, Sherlock cut him off and was he already dialing another number by the time he ripped open the door to Baker Street. The few moments he waited for a cab felt like a lifetime. The further time Mycroft took to answer his call felt impossibly long.
Every second was another breath that could be Molly Hooper's last. He needed his brother now.
"Mycroft, I've had a threat regarding Molly. I need you to send men to her flat." Sherlock instructed when his brother finally did pick up his phone. Sherlock's eyes never left the loud flashing digits of the cab's clock.
Mycroft started to speak but Sherlock did not have the patience for his questions. "I'm on my way now, but I may already be too late. Your men will get her to her quicker." Sherlock reasoned, his grip on the rail of the cab turning his knuckles white. "Please, you have to do this now!"
"My best people are on their way," Mycroft assured him, his urgency inspired by his brother's obvious panic. "I'll meet you at her flat."
Once the call ended, Sherlock had his first proper chance to think as the London traffic stalled him getting his destination. His chest tightened painfully as he picture his lovely pathologist, bleeding, her body broken in unbearable ways.
No more giggles ringing out in his living room at some daft daytime television show, no more soft snores echoing when she falls asleep on his couch because he keeps her up all night with experiments. No chance to ever act on impulse to kiss her pretty, smiling lips that he gets when he remembers everything she has done just to keep him alive.
With these thoughts in his mind, dread was the only feeling he could process when her flat came into view, the flashing blue lights of an ambulance tearing past his cab before Sherlock could register its familiar noise.
When he gets to the police and some of Mycroft's men, easily discernable by their lack of uniform, Sherlock already feared the worst.
He'd been to countless crime scenes, seen brutal, unthinkable murders but now were as hard hitting, none as real as Molly's.
There was blood on the walls and trailed through the entrance way of her flat. Glass crunched under Sherlock's shoes as creeped towards her kitchen. Molly's groan of pain was almost audible to him as he pictured her being smashed into large set of picture frames, filled with memories she had so carefully selected.
Halting at her kitchen, the blood, too much blood, was pooled on the same floor he bled on when she saved his life yet again. The view of the room allowed him to catalogue the strewn items, confirming to him that Molly had fought. It was almost more painful that way somehow, knowing she'd had clawed and kicked and screamed for her life.
All his genius, all his fame, all the glory of being the worlds only consulting detective was now worth nothing because he hadn't been able to save her.
He felt a strong grip his shoulder, which was appreciated, because Sherlock didn't trust his knees not to buckle from under him. "There's something you need see in the living room brother," Mycroft said, instructing him in the slow and calm way you would a ill tempered child.
The shock he received in entering living room was similar to being hit by a red London bus. All the breath was knocked out of him, his body stiff, his mind reconciling with the fact he was staring at what he had thought was an impossible reality.
Blood stained her clothing, with the same vibrancy she brought to his life, she had taken out of another. Yet again, she'd been underestimated by a man. Moriarty, Mycroft, even Sherlock himself had been guilty of it. This time it had cost a man his life.
He jolted forward, his mind, just this once, too slow to catch up with his body. His arms sheltered her body in an embrace, as softly as they could considering her injuries but enough to allow him to get close enough to feel the rise and fall of her chest against him, to hear the loud exhales of breath which she sobbed out into his chest.
Sherlock could only bare to pull back an inch to permit him to look into her eyes, his hand moving as well to grasp her tiny wrist, feeling the reassuring thumps of her pulse.
The joy of feeling her alive, when he'd been so sure that he would never be graced with her presence again, was better than any high he'd ever received from drugs.
Leaning back down, Sherlock rested his forehead against hers, hands moving up to cup the back of her delicate, slender neck. They both let their breaths mingle for a short moment.
"I stabbed him, Sherlock," Molly finally whispered, her eyes empty, drained of any emotion. Sherlock could not stand it.
"I will never let anyone harm you again," Sherlock vowed, the words said against her lips. He would kill a thousand men if it would come to it.
This woman was his vital enigma, calming yet rousing, shy yet fierce, terrified yet brave. He would never fail her again.
"Never," Sherlock repeated, watching the dullness in her eyes brighten at his words. He brushed his lips against hers, feather light, an aching attempt of comfort. "Do you understand?"
He was inquiring the answer to more than one question.
Molly's eyes were now alight, a steady fire burning in them, which Sherlock knew would show him warmth in the coldest of days. "I do."
"Don't even think about leaving." Sherlock ordered, as he slipped into his seat. It was the first time he'd manage to sit down since the lovely meal they'd had that evening, having been kept busy chatting with all their guests.
"I wouldn't dream of it," Mycroft replied honestly, though he did not look forward to the enduring misery of watching the rest of guests dancing all night. It was hardly as if he could avoid it, because Molly had insisted he be seated at the top table. "Molly and Mother would have my head."
"Well at least try to look less miserable," Sherlock suggested, unable to muster an ounce of annoyance on such a happy day. Instead he joked, "Go and save Mother from John's terrible dancing."
Mycroft smirked at the sight of his graceful mother and the rhythmless doctor half dancing to some dreadful seventies pop hit. "He really is awful. Nearly as bad as our Father," Mycroft winced as he took a sip of his too sweet wine. "And I'm not miserable, in fact, I'm happy for you. This day has been a long time coming, don't you think brother?"
"Yes," Sherlock admitted with ease as he loosened his bow tie slightly to let him cool off. It was a June evening, and the body heat of a fair amount of people in one room were causing Sherlock to overheat. "But, some would say we've rushed into it."
"Some have not seen the love you have bared for her for three years," Mycroft replied, his hand waving away the comment like he would a common fly. "And absurdly, she seems to return the sentiment."
Sherlock gave a small chuckle, though, in his darkest moments of doubt, he could scarcely believe it himself. His planned reply died on his lips as Molly came into his eye line through the sea of people moving on the dance floor. She was leaning down to aid the barely walking baby Watson, lifting her up, thoughtless of messing up her pretty cream gown or her perfectly styled hair. The skirt of the dress swung out as she twirled with the little girl in her arms and Sherlock wished the music wasn't so loud so he could the tinkling of their laughter.
"She would make a wonderful mother," Mycroft spoke from beside him, but his brother voice felt miles from him because Sherlock's focus was far away.
Sherlock's first thought spilled out his mouth. "Yes, she will."
Mycroft's mind conjured the image of a dark curly hair infant with curious brown eyes and he could not help but smile.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sight of his mother signaling with her eyes for one of her sons to come and give her an excuse to escape John's horrendous dancing. Mycroft was in the process of heaving himself up to rescue their poor mother when Sherlock stopped him.
"I'll get mother," Sherlock assured him. "Go and have a dance with Molly." Sherlock rushed off quickly to free Molly of the Watson infant and returned her to her father. With John distracted by his little one, Sherlock could steal his mother away from a dance.
The music changed to a slower song as Mycroft approached Molly. She wordlessly took his hand, relaxing into his awkward hand on her side.
Half way through the song, Molly had to comment on Mycroft's stiffness. "You don't share your brothers love for dancing, do you?"
Not many women, or men, would be gutsy enough to poke fun at Mycroft Holmes. Molly Hooper was not many women.
While they continued to shuffle out of time with music, Mycroft replied. "Is it that obvious?"
Molly's head tipped back as she laughed, happiness leaking out her every pore. No scars marred her lovely face, no bruises shone on her delicate skin any longer. The last men who'd harmed her were now nothing but ashes in the wind. This fact gave Mycroft deep comfort.
"I think its my turn to dance with the bride," Sherlock announced from behind his older hand that was on Mycroft's arm that had once squeezed painfully was now gentle, the gaze that had once been so hateful now held reverence and respect. Though his next words were somewhat familiar, an echoing call back to their old past, there was no harshness, no calculated crushing blow to them. Only the greatest of affections.
"She is after all, my wife."
Sherlock has spent his life trying to keep the things that matter to him from his brother's meddling grip. He couldn't now, not when the one who mattered the most, was so infinitively precious to them both.