Hi everyone! So, this is my first Sherlock fic and started as an idea that wouldn't leave my head. It was originally inspired by Nyah86's "The Woman That Counted" but grew from there. I finally finished it, and here it is. Reviews are greatly appreciated. I hope you all enjoy.

Song of the Story: One More Try ~ George Michael

Disclaimer: I own *nothing*. If I did, I would be searching for a way to squeeze this into Season 3.

P.S.: I may expand on this idea, depending on whether the plot bunnies feel like cooperating or not.

Normality had neither meaning nor place in Molly Hooper's life. To say that the day-to-day occurrences of her life were unusual was an understatement of grand proportions. Working in the mortuary was probably the most mundane thing she did. But, then again, that was including researching poisons, allowing Sherlock to practice experiments on certain corpses and have full use of the lab to investigate the crimes that were his obsession. So when she turned on the light in her flat to find the supposedly dead, high-functioning sociopath sprawled across her couch, she didn't so much as flinch.

Of course, she knew that he was alive, even helped with the charade that was his suicide. Tossing her keys onto the counter, she picked up her mail that had been sitting on the counter since that morning.

"Don't bother," he muttered, his deep voice resonating through the relatively empty room. "The first letter is a bill addressed to the new tenant of the flat across the hall, probably switched by accident due to the carrier's migraine from being hung over. The second is a letter from your cousin, Mary, to inform you of trivial highlights of the recent month, none of which you will be interested in at the moment."

Molly opened her mouth to reply but instantly thought better of it and replaced the letters on the counter. She had long since learned not to ask Sherlock about his deductions. It provoked him into a long and highly one-sided discussion of his methods.

"How was your day?" she asked, thinking it was a relatively safe question.

"Uninteresting, tedious, dull, boring," he answered, staring at the ceiling.

Apparently one description hadn't been enough for him. Knowing there would be no room on the couch for her, Molly sat down in the leather armchair beside it. She wondered what he had gotten up to while she had been at work. He looked as if he hadn't moved from where she left him that morning, but she knew better. It was completely possible that he had used the feet she had brought for him for some sort of experiment. She decided not to open her fridge to find out.

"I will never understand what you find interesting about the telly, either."

Worry flitted through her at his new statement. She should have known better than to allow him to watch daytime television, much less any at all. In retrospect, there was not much she could do to stop him.

"These crime shows you have recorded are ridiculously obvious. The crimes are sloppily conducted, the investigations cause Lestrade's work to seem akin to a master's work, and the needless clues are glaringly simple while they miss everything that actually matters."

After a carefully thoughtful silence, she decided it best not to point out that everyone couldn't deduce as well as he could. It would no doubt lead to a long monologue on how no one in the world took the time to think and just how ignorant everyone was. After the long day that included too much to do in too little time and her boss nagging her about being late, she simply did not have the patience to listen to said discussion.

"I went to 221B today," he continued, still not looking away from the ceiling.

Her worry transformed into fear as she thought of what he just said. It had been less than a month and he had remained, as far as she knew, inside the walls of her little apartment. Sebastian Moran and the rest of Moriarty's criminal mine field were still roaming free while Mycroft attempted to hunt them down. It had been a lengthy and unpleasant argument that had ensued when the elder Holmes had been told of his brother's survival, but he had agreed not to speak a word of it to anyone else. Poor John was falling to pieces and Sherlock was growing impatient and increasingly agitated at the doctor's lapse in behavior.

"Why?" she asked, knowing it would be useless to lecture him on the foolishness of such an action.

"I had to retrieve something of importance."

"You could have asked me to get it."

"I could have," he replied, finally turning to look at her. "But it would have negated the purpose of what I was retrieving."

"What was it?"

He waved a single long arm in the general direction of her coffee table, "It's sitting right before you. I would have thought you would have noticed."

There was indeed something new on the worn wooden surface, contrasting greatly with the relatively muted colors of her flat. It was a small parcel wrapped in cobalt blue wrapping paper, sitting innocently by her remote.

"I never gave you your Christmas present."

"You didn't have to bother yourself with it," she replied stiffly.

"Nonsense. I wanted to get you something."

"I can't accept it, Sherlock," she said, refusing to be drawn into his words.

His eyes snapped open and he immediately sat up to face her, "From what I have observed of John, Christmas gifts are always accepted, regardless of whether the receiver wants it or not."

"I can't," she repeated, biting her lip.

His brows furrowed beneath the mess of raven curls as his surprise became evident, "I don't believe I see why."

Molly thought of how to explain her reasoning for a second, "Have you ever heard the tale of Hades and Persephone?"


"Well, it's about a lonely, cold-hearted man named Hades and his abduction of a girl named Persephone."

"I don't believe I follow."

She sighed, "Hades was god of the Underworld and spends his days surrounded by the dead. None of the other gods got on with Hades and he was often cruel to them. But, one day, he saw Persephone in a meadow and knew he had to have her for himself. He stole her away to the Underworld as a companion. While her mother searched for her, Persephone grew to love the misunderstood Hades. Before she left the Underworld, he persuaded her to eat four pomegranate seeds so that she would be forced to return to him for four months of the year."

"And you are attempting to insinuate…?"

She chewed on her bottom lip, wondering how to point out the obvious. It was true she fancied him, and he knew that perfectly well, but she still had trouble saying it to him. Instead, she placed the box back on the table. She couldn't risk falling deeper for him than she already had. Her goal was to dig herself out of the grave she had made for herself and move on. She couldn't do that if he insisted on these gestures that always managed to redeem himself in her eyes. He pulled her strings with such precision and finesse that she couldn't help but allow herself to get dragged back.

"I'm sorry, but I can't take this."

She moved to walk to her room, hoping he would let the topic go. As soon as her fingers wrapped around the cool metal of the doorknob, he spoke up once more.

"I'm Hades, I take it? And this box is your pomegranate seed?"

She looked down at the floor, "Yes."

She could hear his soft footfalls against the hardwood floors, approaching her slowly. His long fingers trailing across her waist caused her to jump slightly in her spot. She couldn't help the sharp inhale of breath as the corner of his lips ghosted against the exposed skin of her neck.

"Molly," he breathed. "You have always aided me. When I was worried for the safety of those I…care for, you saw straight through the calm I projected. I am grateful for your unwavering loyalty, despite my quick dismissal of you and your actions. And I am sorry for all the trouble and pain I have brought you. Will you accept my apology?"

He held up the box in front of her, eyes watching her carefully. She took it hesitantly, not quite sure why. Sherlock seemed to have a small smile across his face as she did. Without much warning, he walked away and back to the couch.

"Goodnight, Molly Hooper."

"Goodnight, Sherlock," she replied, swallowing her hesitation.

She entered her room quickly, shutting the door behind her as quietly as she could. Placing the box on her nightstand, she changed into a pair of flannel pajamas. She felt as if the box was staring at her as she brushed her teeth. Ridiculous as it was, she was agonizingly aware of the implications of the little gift that sat innocently beside her bed. She attempted to ignore it as she crawled beneath the blankets.

Twenty minutes of lying in her bed, she lost the last of her patience and grabbed the little parcel. Ripping the paper off, she nearly had a heart attack as a felt-lined box came into view. Surely it wasn't a ring. She believed herself an optimist, but Molly Hooper was no fool. Opening it slowly, she blinked at the silver heart-shaped locket and chain.

She opened it carefully and looked at the picture. It was the photo Watson had set up at the Christmas party. Sherlock stood rather awkwardly in the center, squished in between Lestrade and Watson and looking for all the world like a pouting ten-year-old. He hadn't wanted to take the photo, but could not escape the two men at his sides. She and Mrs. Hudson stood on the edges, smiling happily at the camera. She couldn't help the laugh that escaped her when she realized someone had tossed a Santa hat onto the consulting detective's head.

On the other side of the locket, her heart skipped a beat. There was an inscription in place of another photograph. She nearly tossed the locket away after reading the delicate script. But it was too late to erase the words now burned into her memory. It was too late to fix her resolve that melted at the words. Instead, she placed the locket on her nightstand and turned away on her bed. Molly could not fall asleep that night, the words would not allow her to. Six little words refused to allow her peace.

To the only woman who counts.