This is the last chapter of this series. I'm sorry it's taken so long to produce, but I find Molly Hooper a very problematic character to write about, as she's basically a convenient plot device who then gets treated absolutely appallingly by Sherlock (even worse than most women in the show; I won't go into all my 'Moffat, y u no feminism?' issues here, but believe me, there are many). This chapter went through three different drafts and yet I still really, really don't know how to write the relationship between Molly and Sherlock in a way that is not on some level emotionally abusive. Here, I've tried to make it so that Sherlock isn't actually any more of a dick to her than he is to anyone else, relatively speaking, but it's come out as an awkward cross between fix-it fic for Molly's emotions and Molly just flat-out lying to herself. So, uh, hooray, here's a story with multiple possible interpretations? Either way, I'm very sorry.

Molly Hooper is okay with death. It's an odd thing to admit - not first-date material, certainly - but true nonetheless. She works in a morgue, and you can only see so many permutations of smashed skull/aneurysm/overdose before you come to the conclusion that one dead body is much like another. The cause may be different, but the end result is always the same: rigor mortis, autolysis, putrefaction.

So when Sherlock Holmes sweeps into Barts with his coat and his cheekbones and his devastating lack of social skills, it doesn't take her too long to adjust. It's remarkable how quickly she gets used to bringing out bodies on the sly so Sherlock can test his bizarre theories, to 'it's a matter of life or death!' just meaning a shorter lunch break and to knowing more about the Official Secrets Act than she does about the X Factor. The cases that Sherlock gets involved in are often violent, and the things that happen to the victims horrible; but Molly reminds herself that whatever the means or motive, the result is still just death. And she can deal with that.

She thinks that's partly why Sherlock chose her as his pet pathologist. Along with her hopeless crush, of course. Oh yes, Sherlock knows her weaknesses, and he plays her the same way he plays his violin: sharp and discordant, yet always, always producing the notes he wants. But that's the thing. He's utterly transparent about his motives; never bothers to disguise the fact that he's manipulating her. And that, strange to say, is what endears him to her.

Molly Hooper is small and quiet, and she likes cats and the colour pink. This means that people - parents, boyfriends, colleagues - make assumptions about her. They think she's as soft as her scatter cushions; weak and naive and easily deceived. They don't notice her degrees, or the judo qualifications on her wall, or even - for Christ's sake - the fact that she works in a morgue. Sherlock, on the other hand, looks straight at her and sees everything. Lonely. Emotional. Easily flustered by petty, everyday things. But intelligent, more so than people give her credit for. Discreet. Useful.

Sherlock is brutal, yes, but never more so to her than to other people. He uses her, yes, but out of far purer motives than everyone else. Sherlock is the first man she's ever met who doesn't want sex, or money, or power, or status from her. He just wants the truth. That's why she's believed in him, right from the start.

And now that belief is finally being repaid. There's a reason why, when he needs to disappear, Sherlock Holmes goes to quiet, besotted Molly Hooper for help. He knows it, and she knows it. And she considers the knowledge some kind of recompense for seeing the hurt in John's eyes at the funeral and not being able to ease it.

Other people believe in Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes believes in her.