Author's Note: So I've just finished series 2 of Sherlock, and after seeing those two lovely scenes between Sherlock and Molly, I just had to write this little fic. I find Molly's affection for Sherlock very touching, so I wanted to write this short story as a tribute to that. (Sidenote: I'm not even going to attempt to describe how Molly helped Sherlock fake his death. So that plot point is vaguely glossed over since I have no shot in hell of doing that explanation justice. That I'll leave to the wonderful writers of the show to detail in series 3:) I've only planned this as a one-shot, but maybe in the future after I have finished my other fic for Game of Thrones, I will decide to expand it to a full-length story. Enjoy!
Why is it that our brains never serve in our best interests? Though we tell ourselves that we should change our way of thinking in the interest of self-preservation and our own sanity, our brain decides to send signals to our subconscious that cause us to lose the argument with ourselves, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Instead of supplying information that will support the decision to change our ways, our rebellious brains remind us of those few instances that undermine our very sound reasons for making this necessary change in our lives. Then before we know it, we have been talked out of making the sensible decision and continue down the same self-destructive path that caused us all this misery in the first place.
My brain was one such traitorous being. It simply would not allow me to fall out of love with Sherlock Holmes. Despite the overwhelming amount of heartless, insensitive remarks in regard to my lacking conversation and less-than-satisfactory appearance, my mind persisted in reminding me of the handful of kind acts and the rare appearances of humanity and decency that had been directed towards me on occasion. Every time I vowed to stop longing for a man who clearly had no regard for me whatsoever, whether personally or romantically, the cherished memory of a gentle, Christmas kiss would flash through my head, swiftly undermining my determination. Clearly, my weak-mindedness was entirely to blame for my acute misery. For that's what loving Sherlock Holmes was. Absolute misery.
It was Christmas again, but instead of attending Mrs. Hudson's Christmas get-together, as I had foolishly decided in favor of the previous year, I had opted to stay late in the lab and catch up on some work that I had recently fallen behind in. I was infinitely safer here with the microscopes and sterile test tubes than the warm, cozy flats of 221B Baker Street. Better to spend my holiday with the silent tools of science than endure the pitying looks of Sherlock's friends and acquaintances. Better to enjoy the company of the lifeless corpses in the morgue than the man who was the sole source of all my joy and sorrow.
Since his miraculous resurrection from the grave, Sherlock was a more notorious figure in the public eye than ever before. I took some small amount of pride in the fact that I had played a rather key role in helping him carry off the elaborate deception, even if the public had no knowledge of my involvement. Sherlock knew, and that was enough for me. Chiding myself over the sentimentality of that thought, I tried to discipline my wandering thoughts back to the task at hand rather than on the illustrious Sherlock Holmes.
As I squinted through the eyepiece of my microscope to study a sample of bacteria, I felt those unbidden memories arise in my mind once again, just as they always did when I tried to push Sherlock from my thoughts. You do count his voice echoed in my mind, distracting me from the work at hand. You've always counted, and I've always trusted you.
I saw the molecules of bacteria suddenly blur together as my eyes misted involuntarily at the memory of his words. I remembered how I had been so close then to the point of convincing myself that I could finally move past my pathetic infatuation when he had turned down my offer to help him, to give him whatever it was he needed. But the great Sherlock never needed anything from me. I didn't count.
You do count his voice insisted once again in my head. I need you, Molly. There's no one else I can turn to.
I pushed away the microscope then, acknowledging defeat. I clearly wouldn't be getting any work done tonight. With a weary sigh I rested my throbbing head in my cold hands as I allowed the memory to fully wash over me. It had been the single most thrilling moment of my life when the great Sherlock Holmes had admitted that he needed me. Me. Little, insignificant Molly Hooper. I remembered how important I had felt in that one moment. The way he looked at me. As if I was the only thing in the entire universe standing between him and the fate of certain death. Of course, I had readily agreed to help him. I would have done anything for him.
I gave a deep, dejected sigh at the thought. I would do anything for him. Naturally he had been grateful for my help. He had even given me another of those treasured kisses on my pale cheek before I left him that day. Since then he had been more polite to me. Not quite as cuttingly precise and cold in his verbal assessments of my shortcomings. But I knew nothing had truly changed. I would always be the girl pining for the one man I could never have. Sherlock Holmes wasn't capable of returning my feelings.
Deep down I knew the truth that he could never love me, but some small part of myself wouldn't allow me to give up hope that someday… I shook my head again breaking off the ridiculous thought before it could form. Things weren't going to change. Maybe it was just time I accepted that. With this resolve in place, I took a deep breath before reaching for the microscope once again. Just as my fingers brushed the cool metal, they drew back in startled surprise at the sound of an unexpected voice. His voice.
"I thought I might find you here, Molly."
Thinking for a moment that perhaps I had conjured a vision of him up by sheer willpower, I hesitantly turned my head in the direction of his voice. There he stood in the doorway, looking the same as always, with his coat still buttoned and his scarf wrapped tightly around his slender neck to keep out the winter chill. His hair looked a bit wind-swept from the outdoors and his cheeks had more color than usual due to the frigid temperatures. He looked just as handsome as always, and it made my heart hurt just to look at him. Forcing my eyes away from his arresting features, I reached back towards my dejected microscope before addressing him.
"Did you need something, Sherlock? Perhaps some body in the morgue you need a better look at?"
There was a beat of silence after my question, as if he was intently pondering a reply. That surprised me more than his unexpected appearance. I was intrigued enough by his silence to turn my attention away from my bacteria sample once again. Sherlock never gave any thought to what he said. The words simply flowed from his brain through his mouth without any consideration of the consequences. That was one of the fundamental differences between us. I could never seem to master the art of saying what I thought. The words always got caught in a jumble between my brain and mouth, falling out in a haphazard fashion. Sherlock had always been right about that. I was a dreadful conversationalist.
As I looked back at him, I noticed a queer look in those pale blue eyes. He stared at me rather intently for a few moments more in the deafening silence. It always unnerved me when he did that, because I knew he was finding all my little flaws and defects. The small things no one else could see. And he always made certain to verbalize whatever shortcomings he had found.
This time, however, something was different about that look. He wasn't studying me like a laboratory sample this time. He was looking at me like I really mattered. Like I counted. He had only ever looked at me like that once before, and it caused an irrational flutter of hope to spark in my bleak heart once again. Just as it had all those months ago. With an internal sigh, I acknowledged to myself that I was just as hopelessly infatuated with this man as ever before.
Keeping my attention focused on the silent figure before me, I saw him tear his eyes away from mine for a moment before looking down to retrieve something from his coat pocket. As he withdrew his hand, I saw a small, red box resting in his long fingers. I found myself squinting a bit to get a better look at the small package, and I noticed a tiny gold bow resting on top of the delicate, cherry-colored wrapping. My eyes widened in surprise before they rose once again to meet his. My surprise only increased further at the rather sheepish look lurking in the brilliant blue depths of his eyes. Sherlock Holmes had sported many looks over the years: distaste, arrogance, boredom, impatience. The list went on and on. Sheepish had never had a place on that list until now.
A million questions knocked on the door of my brain begging to get out, but for once I kept them firmly locked away. I wouldn't let myself make of muck of things this time, much safer to let him do all the talking. He was so much better at it anyway. So clamping my lips tightly together, I sat in the stillness and waited for him to offer an explanation for the unexpected visit.
Finally, when he saw I intended to say nothing to ease his obvious discomfort, he opened his mouth to speak. "It's bad form to not make an appearance at a party you're expected to attend."
"I told Mrs. Hudson I thought it would be best to skip the party this year," I offered with a small shrug. "It didn't turn out too well last time if you remember."
He had the good grace to look a bit ashamed at that reminder. He had behaved dreadfully towards me last year, so I felt little guilt in reminding him of his behavior. Looking away from me once again, Sherlock glanced back for a moment at the small box in his hand. He seemed to contemplate the object for a few moments of intense study before suddenly approaching me at a brisk pace, extending the box towards me like a talisman meant to ward off the devil. Without thinking, my hand rose to accept the offering before he quickly retreated.
"A present?" I murmured as I stared at the little box in a dazed state. "I thought you said once that presents were sentimental trifles."
"I still think they're sentimental trifles," he clarified his stance on the subject. "But you're the sentimental sort, so it seemed fitting."
I glanced up at him then to see he had returned to his usual detached demeanor. Obviously ridding himself of the offending object that now rested in my hand had helped to ease his distress. "But why would you buy me a present?" I pressed him. "I didn't expect you to get me anything. You never have before."
It was his turn to shrug. "I didn't know before."
"You didn't know I liked sentimental trifles?" I asked, confused.
That impatient look was starting to grow on his face now. The same look he sported every time my brain failed in the never-ending marathon of keeping up with his thought process. "I didn't know that you could really see," he explained, punctuating each syllable as if talking to a small child.
My helpless confusion only grew with his vague explanation. See what things? I was a scientist, of course I saw things. I was trained to see them. "What did I see, Sherlock?" I finally asked him with a faint trace of exasperation.
At my question, his eyes regained that intense look once again, and he took a few hesitant steps in my direction. My anticipation rose with each step nearer, until he was close enough for his feet to almost touch the legs of my laboratory stool that rested on the floor. My breathing grew shallow and halting, as his slender hand gradually rose to touch my cheek. It wasn't romantic exactly, but it wasn't a detached observation either.
It was as if he was rediscovering me. It was the most glorious feeling I had ever experienced, and it took every fiber of my self-control not to reach up and cradle the hand that traced the cool skin of my cheek. I sat without moving a muscle and simply enjoyed the rare opportunity of having his concentration focused solely on me, instead of the dead corpses which so often held the attention I wished for. I tried not to think to myself of how pathetic I sounded, competing with the deceased for a man's interest.
Continuing to trace the tips of his fingers over the delicate skin of my face, his lips began to move once again as he spoke. "You saw me," he admitted in a half-whisper, almost as if afraid someone else might overhear his confession. "Not many people do that. They see what they want to. Lies are easier to believe if you want them to be true, but you saw the truth because you really saw me."
I almost looked away from the intensity in his gaze, but I forced my eyes to stay locked with his. "I've always seen you," I admitted softly. "You just never took the time to notice."
A ghost of a smile touched his lips in the face of my confession. "I've noticed now." With those few soft-spoken words, he leaned down to brush his lips softly across my cheek where his fingers rested moments ago. "Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper," he murmured in my ear before disappearing as swiftly as he had come.
Following his departure, I was alone in the laboratory once again, the only evidence of his visit resting in the palm of my hand. I lifted my free hand to raise the lid on the box, finding a piece of paper folded neatly inside. Underneath the note lay a delicate chain that sparkled underneath the florescent lights overhead. Laying the note aside for the moment, I lifted Sherlock's gift from the box to study it more closely. Dangling from the small chain was a silver charm in the shape of a tiny magnifying glass.
A delighted smile began to grow on my face as I quickly fastened the bracelet about my wrist. Letting out a giggle of school-girlish delight, I tapped the little charm with my forefinger and watched it swing back-and-forth in the air, twinkling cheerfully in the bright light. Instantly, I recalled the note that had been set aside and reached quickly to retrieve it from the counter beside me. Slowly, I unfolded the note and greedily read the words written in Sherlock's bold scrawl.
For the woman who saw the man beneath the silly hat.
I reread the words many times before finally refolding the note and hugging it close to my heart. Damn it, I thought to myself a rueful smile. There was no getting out of it now. I would be stuck in love with Sherlock Holmes for the rest of my days. However, the future seemed not quite as bleak now as it had mere minutes before. For Sherlock Holmes had finally seen me too.
Thank you for checking out my little story! I hope you all liked it! If this little one-shot gets enough interest I might consider making it into my next full length story. Again, thank you so much for reading!