Sherlock starts as he enters the hotel room. Sitting on the bed is none other than Molly, who is smiling back at him.
He frowns, and she hastens to explain. "Mycroft's men brought me here."
"Why? What's wrong?"
"It's the 6th of January," she replies.
Molly's eyebrows creases until she realises that he doesn't remember. "Sherlock!" she giggles. "It's your birthday."
Oh. He has completely forgotten all about it. It's a bit useless to keep track of sentimental occasions while he's still undercover, trying to bring down Moriarty's network. He's surprised that she's here though. No one has bothered about his birthday in a while.
"Come on! " Molly smiles, pulling him out of the hotel room before he can protest. She slips her hand in his and he closes his eyes for a moment. It is warm and familiar. It reminds him of Bart's, how her hands would sometimes brush over his when she passes him a new microscope slide.
He moves his fingers and closes them over hers.
They go for dinner at a restaurant, and she forces him to eat something more substantial than soup. Normally, he would've snapped at her to mind her own business. But he misses her, even though he's trying his best to deny it.
Molly chats about life back in London, telling him about John's new girlfriend and Mrs Hudson's new tenant. He inwardly breathes a sigh of relief that they're moving on. He ignores the fact that he's slowly being forgotten. The heavy feeling at the pit of his stomach is unpleasant, and he doesn't want to associate it with this memory of having dinner with Molly. A warm weight rests over his hand and he breaks out of his reverie.
Molly has placed a hand over his, and she's smiling shyly at him, a dark blue box in her other hand. She passes it to him and he opens it wordlessly.
There is an almost perfect sketch of 221B, a new scarf and a novel about pirates. His mouth opens slightly when he stares at the drawing. He's always known that Molly has a talent for art – he's seen her sketching in the lab before.
Something thick forms in his throat and he swallows hard. "Thank you," he manages, running his fingers across the soft fibre of the royal blue scarf. He smirks as he flips through the pirate book. It'll keep him occupied during his long flights across Europe.
"What's your favourite birthday present ever?" she asks, taking a sip of her wine.
"A pirate hat from my mother," he blurts. His eyes widen and he shifts uncomfortably. It's something very personal, and he's never told anyone this before. But because it's Molly, it doesn't feel wrong.
She laughs and he relaxes, feeling his own lips curving into a smile. "What's yours?" he enquires.
"A necklace. My dad gave it to me before I went off to uni." She looks sad, and he immediately deduces that the jewellery is no longer in her possession.
"Where is it now?" he asks.
Molly sighs. "I had a flatmate who stole it from me a few years back. She said that it wasn't her, but I knew it was. She wasn't happy that some bloke she fancied asked me out instead."
"That's…" he struggles to find the right word.
"Bitchy?" she offers. Sherlock huffs out a breath of laughter – Molly rarely uses any form of crude language.
"Exactly that," he agrees.
They take a walk through the narrow-winding streets of the small Freiburg town. The silence between them is comfortable, and Sherlock finds that he likes it.
Her hand is in his again, and she points out random shapes she can see among the stars in the night sky. The sky above this German town is much clearer than that of London's, and she's excited by the sheer number of bright spots against the dark blanket.
He smiles at how easy it is for her to be happy.
A black car suddenly drives up beside them, and Molly gives him an apologetic look. It's time for her to leave. She can't stay long and risk someone seeing her with him.
She leans forward and cups his jaw, kissing his cheek. She waves a goodbye and steps into the black car.
It takes all he has not to jump forward and pull her back.
Two months later, Molly returns to her flat to find a small wrapped package lying by her doorstep. There is no note attached, and she opens it curiously.
Her missing necklace sits in the middle of a pink box with a card saying a simple 'happy birthday'. The writing is familiar.
Tears start to roll down her cheeks and she grips the necklace tightly in her hands.
Thousands of miles away, Sherlock dials a number. "Did she receive it?"
Sherlock hesitates. "Thank you, Mycroft." His brother hangs up and Sherlock lies back down on the bed.
He hopes that he has made her day with the birthday surprise, just like how she made his months ago with her own.
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