"Honestly, I don't need someone who sees the good in me. I need someone who sees the bad in me and still wants me." Molly Hooper leaned against the outer wall of the uni library and looked at her friend. “I mean, is that too much to ask?”
Mary Morstan shook her head. “Not really, love, no. But aren’t you just looking for a shag?”
Molly sighed, tilting her head back against the wall. “I suppose I should be less picky. But I mean, after everything...”
Mary nodded and put a hand on Molly’s shoulder, squeezing it. “Tom’s an arse, saying you were frigid as frozen cod,” she replied. “But it’s not like we’re still students at primary school. This is university! No one gives two craps about rumours.”
“As long as you’re willing to jump in the sack with them on the first bloody date,” Molly muttered before sighing again. “And it gets worse when they find out you’re a virgin. It’s like, either their eyes light up with this unwholesome glee or they run.”
“Then what you need to do is find yourself another virgin,” Mary said matter-of-factly.
The laugh Molly barked out was harsh. “A virgin? A male virgin? In uni? That’s like looking for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.”
“Actually, I know one,” Mary said. “John’s best mate, Sherlock Holmes.”
Molly furrowed her brows slightly. “The chem major? With the curly hair?”
Mary nodded. “Yeah. He had a bit of a rough patch before uni with drugs, but he’s straightened himself out and is so concentrated on his studies that he doesn’t really notice anyone of the female persuasion.”
“How do you know he’s not gay?” Molly asked.
“Because he notices you when there’s the house parties at my flat.” Mary smirked. “Trust me, some of the looks he threw Tom’s way would murder most men on the spot. I think he’d be more than happy to take your virginity if you offer to divest him of his. He’d probably shag you on the spot.”
“Can’t I get to...know him first, at least?” Molly asked. “I mean, all I know is what he’s studying and his hair. I know nothing else about him.”
“Then tomorrow, we’ll have dinner. Just the four of us,” Mary said. “He’s actually not a bad person, just too blunt for his own good. But I think you’ll like him well enough. If I wasn’t with John, I might offer to relieve his burden.” She pulled her hand off Molly’s shoulder and then checked the watch on the wrist. “Shit. I’m late for archery practice.” She leaned over and gave Molly a quick hug, one Molly returned. “Tomorrow, sixish, okay? Bring wine!”
With that, Molly watched Mary walk away and then Molly headed into the library to study. It had been one of the worst terms she’d had since entering uni after her father died, but she was muddling through to do her father proud. She’d thought she’d had everything, really: good friends, a fiancee that adored her and good grades.
But oh, her careful life had fallen apart when a girl on campus had come up and said she needed to talk. Over one of the most agonizing cups of coffee she’d ever had she found out her fiancee of a year had not only cheated on her with the other woman but gotten her pregnant as well. He hadn’t even had the decency to tell the woman he was engaged! And the row she and Tom had had…
She shut her eyes and stopped moving as she remembered how his “nice guy” facade had come crumbling down. And then there was the piece de resistance: he asked for the engagement ring back to give to his pregnant...slut. At least the stone had hit him in the eye when she threw the blasted ring.
And then to add insult to injury he started saying the end of the engagement was all her fault for her frigidity. She had thought he’d understood she wanted to deserve to wear white at her wedding. She’d promised her mum. And it didn’t seem to matter to him and the people he told. Eventually, she decided it shouldn’t matter to her, either.
But she wanted a relationship, not just a shag. And that was her major problem, apparently.
She knew she wasn’t a wonderful person all the time. She could zone in on her studies to the detriment of her social life, she cursed almost as well as a sailor and then there was the virginity issue. But surely she could get around those obstacles, couldn’t she?
Well, at least there was a dinner tomorrow. It’d be a chance to see if the Holmes bloke actually liked her or if it was another no-go. Either way, at least the food would be good.
She’d gotten so into her anatomy studies that it hit her at half-past five that she hadn’t done a damn thing to get ready for the dinner with John and Mary and...him. Sherlock. She was so nervous about the whole situation she had been trying to distract herself and had done too good a job, apparently. But if she recalled, Mary had said sixish, so as long as she showed up with a decent bottle of wine and no later than half past she should be fine.
But distracting herself had meant she put no time into anything: no time into planning an outfit or taking a shower or getting her hair and makeup ready. She had already made an impression on Sherlock, from what she gathered, but she hadn’t actually had a formal introduction and...well, first impressions should matter just as much if they weren’t actual first impressions, shouldn’t they?
Her hair she didn’t do much with, just did it all up in a sleekish knot at the nape of her neck and secured it with the same type of velvet black ribbon as she usually wore as a choker. It wasn’t that she was trying to make a fashion statement but the plastic ones that looked like fake tattoos were so irritating, and it covered the scar from the accident.
Or, at least, the one around her neck.
She’d been late going to uni because of the accident, the one that cost her father his life trying to save her. Thank goodness for the crème her mum had found because she put it on religiously and could see the scars getting less and less every day. She knew some of them were never going to go away, not fully, but she’d managed to settle into shorter sleeved dresses and sundresses over white baby tees because the scars on her arm were so much lighter, so it was an improvement.
Yet another reason she’d held off on disrobing for anyone, male and female. She’d thought Tom understood, and yet…
She felt the familiar sting of tears and shook her head. She should be done with the crying, she shouldn’t have any tears left. He’d been there through it all, though, the accident and the recovery and then to just...just chuck it all away for a shag!
No, she wasn’t about to allow herself to get depressed or upset. Not over him. Not again. Not when she had a bloke who seemed to like her already, according to Mary. She just hoped Mary was right.
Eventually she had some semblance of a made-up face, a black floral sundress over a tee and paired with a shawl, and the last full bottle of wine in her flat. She’d drank far too much over the last month, she realized when she could only find one. Another thing she’d have to change. Not that she was a lush, but...too much was too much, and she knew that, and she had to be better at practicing that.
She dashed off to the street outside the building where her flat was and then made her way a few blocks over to where John and Mary lived. Mary had been in one of her first classes at uni and they’d hit it off instantly. John had been a good friend as well, and she spent almost as much time at their flat as she did at her own, mostly enjoying the good food that Mary and John both made. She would sometimes spend too much of her time so focused on her studies, feeling some strange need to play catch-up, and eventually, a call would come to come over, get a bite, relax and enjoy a film and some ice cream and all would be right with her world.
She felt so lucky to have such good friends, especially when they stayed true during this mess.
She made it to their place quickly and rapped on the door. Mary opened the door, a hopeful look on her face that crumpled a bit and then grew wide and bright almost seconds later as Molly felt someone come up behind her. “I thought John and I were going to have to eat all this lasagna ourselves but you both seem to have made an appearance after all.” She took the wine from Molly and then left Molly and the other guest on the doorstep.
She turned and looked up into the most gorgeous blue eyes she had ever seen, partially obscured by a mop of curls. “You...must be Sherlock,” she said quietly.
He nodded. “And you’re Molly.” His voice was deep and warm and velvety, almost making her toes curl. He nodded towards the foyer. “Shall we?”
She nodded, stepping inside. Tonight could be a good night after all...
It had been a bloody disaster. Not her and Sherlock, exactly; neither of them had wanted to speak much. But John and Mary had gotten into a row over the middle of dinner and then John had stalked out, and Sherlock had followed John out after a shared glance between her and him to help their friends sort things out. It took an hour, but Mary got her irritation out as she and Molly ate the lasagna and John came back with a peace offering of Mary’s favourite dessert, and Molly knew it would probably be a good time to leave. She picked up the plastic container of lasagna she’d packaged up for Sherlock and then put it in his hands before practically pushing him to the door.
“She’s pregnant,” Sherlock said as they got outside.
“What?” Molly asked, her eyes wide with shock.
“Doubt she realizes it. But she is.” He looked at the container in his hands. “This...didn’t go according to their plan.”
“No, not really,” Molly said with a smile. “But it doesn’t have to be a bad evening. I have a loaf of French bread at home and I can make garlic bread just as well as they do. And...there’s ice cream?”
“Do you have ginger nuts?”
“I’m going through the end of an engagement, I have a bit of everything.” She nodded in the direction of her flat. “I’m not far. Do you have anyone who might worry if you’re out for a bit?”
“I got kicked out of my flat, so...no.”
“What happened?” she asked as they began to walk.
“I had a cow’s head in the refrigerator for a science experiment. Apparently, that was the last straw for them. I’ve been on my friend Victor’s couch, but he’ll be out all night. Won’t miss me.”
“I have eyeballs.” He looked over at her, this time with the surprise on his face. “I mean, in my refrigerator. I was doing a paper on glaucoma and I have an in with the medical school’s handler of donor bodies and so I’ll have a bit of extra help when I transfer but yes...eyeballs.”
Sherlock gave her a grin. “You seem to be of like mind to me, which is...nice.”
“It is, isn’t it?” She tugged at the choker on her neck to loosen it a bit because suddenly she felt warm. He stared for a moment but quickly looked back at the plastic container, and she waited for the probing questions but got nothing but companionable silence until he changed the subject when he spoke again.
“Do you know if there’s space where you’re at?”
“Well, I have a spare bedroom, and I don’t think I’d mind a cow’s head in the refrigerator,” she said. “If you can help a bit with the rent, I think we could make it work.”
“My brother sends me money. I could probably cover the rent on its own.”
“No worries. I have some savings.”
“Neck?” She froze. “I mean, from the same reason…?”
“Yes,” she said.
He nodded and took another step, and then she followed. “I won’t ask. If you ever want to tell me you can, but I won’t ask. It doesn’t appear to be something you want to talk about. I have plenty of things like that in my past.”
“Alright. Then you tell me if I edge on one of those topics and I’ll stop.” She grinned at him. “I take it we’ve gone from commiserating about how everything went wrong to hashing out a flatmate agreement.”
“Not how I expected the evening to go, but not an altogether bad thing,” he replied. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“Oh, you like ‘Casablanca’?” she asked.
“That’s what it’s called?” Sherlock replied, shaking his head. “No. My brother had a habit of rewatching that particular scene over and over. I never saw the entire film.”
“Our first movie night, should you agree to one, we’ll watch it,” she said.
“I think a movie night could be...interesting,” he mused. “Though my taste is rather towards documentaries.”
“Then I’ll be in charge of the films until you decide to live dangerously.” She gave him a wide smile. “But you’re right. I do think this will be a beautiful friendship.”
They veered to get his things before heading to her flat, not that there was all that much. Sherlock appeared to kept personal possessions to a minimum, which wasn’t a bad thing. Her flat wasn’t stuffed, but it wasn’t decorated in a minimalist style either. She had the feeling they could deal with the addition of Sherlock to the lease in the morning, or perhaps the day after, but tonight was an attempt to make up for the disastrous set-up. At least he realized it was a set-up; that made the whole situation just a bit less awkward.
She went and sliced her loaf of French bread in half while he put his things in the spare room. She’d already had a bed and furniture in there but if he wanted to change anything she wouldn’t mind. When she had gotten the place with the spare bedroom she’d decided her guests would be at least as comfortable as she was, so there was good quality linens, a down comforter and comfortable pillows, all on a firm but not too firm mattress. If he liked it, he could keep it all and if he didn’t she’d just put it in storage until graduation and then take it wherever she went.
While she set about making the garlic bread, she looked around. It was fairly obvious a woman lived here, and by the fact her knickers and bras were about in the sitting room and loo, she had the feeling if he hadn’t been shocked by it that would bode well. If he was a slob she wouldn’t even mind, as the current state of the flat looked as though it had been hit by a hurricane.
“The bed is comfortable,” she heard him call from the bedroom.
“Pillowtop mattress,” she called back. There had been enough lasagna for Sherlock to have two servings, and she had some makings for salad in the refrigerator. If he wanted a fuller meal, she could provide it. “If you want your own furniture, though, feel free to swap it out.”
“No need,” he said as he came out of the room. “It will be sufficient.”
“Good.” She thought for a moment. “You know, not that I think a cow’s head would fit in one of those mini fridges, but so we don’t get our experiments and body parts mixed up, we could put a small refrigerator in your room.”
He gave her a small smile. “You really did take that part of the story well.”
She went to the refrigerator and then pulled out a small plastic receptacle. “Eyeballs, remember?”
“These are, indeed, eyeballs. And I can see glaucoma in one of them,” he said as he opened the lid. “This must be for an extra credit project.”
“I suppose you could say that,” she said. “What was the cow’s head for?”
“Personal curiosity,” he replied. “Honestly when you’re dealing with wounds, even facial lacerations, it’s better to have a pig’s head, but the butcher was out of pork when I went in.”
“Yes, pig skin does more closely resemble that of humans,” she said. “So for fun, you stab animals? Dead ones, obviously, but...”
“More for research. I may be a chem major, but my interest truly lays in the forensic sciences,” he said. “I just don’t want to make a full-time study of it.”
“That actually makes sense,” she said as she nodded. “Do you want to work in a crime laboratory? Even a chem major could do that.”
“I’m not entirely sure.” He put the lid back on the eyeballs and then handed it back to her before she stowed it in the refrigerator. “What specialty are you considering?”
“Pathology, perhaps forensic pathology. But I’m also interested in orthopedics.” She shrugged. “I still have time to make a decision.”
“As do I.” He looked around. “Do you mind smoke? I mean, me smoking?”
“On the balcony is fine. My ashtray is out there. Probably my lighter, too.”
“You smoke?” he asked.
“Old habit I thought I had kicked until the incident,” she said, the volume of her voice dropping.
“Is this one of the things I shouldn’t ask about?”
“No, no...I mean, I know you know who Tom was, at least in relation to me.”
She nodded. “He got another woman pregnant and then asked for his ring back to give to her. That led to having a bit too much to drink, leading to...” She gestured to the living room and the general mess. “This.”
“I see.” He thought for a moment. “I’m not the neatest person, but if we get the flat into a livable state again, I’ll do my part to keep it that way.”
She grinned at his use of we and then held out a hand for him to shake. “Deal.” He shook her hand and then went towards the balcony while she went back to making the bread. This may not actually be a bad idea, to be quite honest, to have him as a roommate. If he had other bad habits she reserved the right to change her mind, but this was a start to...something. She just wasn’t sure what.
They stayed up and talked as he ate. She ended up sharing some of her ginger nuts with him as she learned he had an older brother and sister, neither of whom he got on well with, he’d already attempted to solve cases when he was younger, but no one would listen to him and instead of it discouraging him it just fueled his desire to be heard, and he was currently single, though there had been a student here he’d had a dalliance (“not a relationship,” he insisted) with that had ended...not well when she’d been a bit too eager to divest him of his virginity. She kept that in mind because she knew Mary would still insist he was the best choice for divesting her of hers, but for now, at least she had what seemed to be a tolerable flatmate, and that was something.
She woke up the next morning to the smell of something nice and came out to see a small stack of Scotch pancakes. “I saw you were a baker and you had bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar,” he said. “As thanks, but don’t get used to it.”
“Oh, I won’t,” she said. “I haven’t had these in an age.”
“I spent a few years in the States when I was young, as an attempt to...straighten me out, I suppose,” he said. “The head chef at the boarding school taught me how to make these when I had insomnia and would go to the kitchens while he was making breakfast. They taste better with buttermilk.”
“Lemon to milk,” she said. “I think. It makes a decent buttermilk substitute.”
“I’ll have to remember that.” He flipped another one of the pancakes and then waited for it to finish cooking and set it on another plate and put it in front of her. “I still tend to make these when I have insomnia.”
“How long have you been awake?” she asked. She knew she started her days early, but she wondered if he was worse on a regular basis or if this was a temporary situation due to being in a new flat, at least this time.
“Since two,” he said. “I just didn’t want to wake you by cooking earlier. Are you usually awake at five?”
She nodded, going to get a fork and knife and some butter as well. “I make a tidy sum editing various college papers, and it’s best to do it early in the morning rather than late at night. I’m an early bird anyway.” She pointed to the fridge. “That’s what the eyeballs are for. I’m editing the paper that goes with the experiment, but I think bits were off so I asked for the eyes myself to gather up notes to make sure the paper was correct.”
“That’s going beyond the extra mile,” he noted.
“It’s netting me an extra hundred quid,” she said with a smile. “I don’t need academic credit but I do need money. I have a tidy sum saved but there’s always that ‘just in case’ that I tend to worry about.”
He nodded. “That makes sense. And you had a wedding to save for.”
“How did you know I was going to pay for it?” she asked, surprised.
“I saw some of the things here. Wedding catalogs with inexpensive things circled. The bolts of fabric at the top of the linen closet. You were going to make your own dress.”
“Well, that would happen regardless,” she said. “I want certain things covered. I wouldn’t trust a regular dressmaker to see me like...that.”
“May I ask what happened, or is that still off limits?” he asked, his voice gentle.
She considered it. He was going to live with her, there was always the chance he’d see her starkers by accident and it was better to get the awkwardness out of the way now than later. “I was in an automobile accident during my gap year. I went partway through the windshield and almost lost the ability to speak, much less the ability to stay alive. I’m lucky the scars are all I have.” She paused and then removed the ribbon from around her neck. “The glass almost sliced my carotid artery.”
Sherlock nodded and then set the spatula down and turned, lifting up the back of his shirt. Her eyes widened as she saw thin white lines crisscrossed across his back. “Courtesy of my sister,” he said. “She’s institutionalized because of it. I nearly bled to death before my brother found me.”
“Are those whip marks?” she asked.
“Among other things,” he said. “I don’t...tend to show them, so don’t say anything. I trust you.”
“If we’re talking trust...” She reached for the hem of her long sleeves nightshirt and lifted it off. She usually tended to sleep in a sports bra for comfort even now, but the scars on her arms and breast tops and torso were clearly visible. Some were still an angry red but the crème her mother had given had at least managed to get the ones on her arms to lighten somewhat. “Now you have the full picture.”
He let his eyes rake down her body from her neck to the top of her pyjama bottoms. “Not on your legs?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Only my torso went through the windshield. My father...he was bleeding internally but he managed to put pressure on my neck until we were found. He passed before we got to the hospital. His dying act was to save my life.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Sherlock said. He nodded to her sports bra. “I won’t judge if you want to walk around in that if it gets too hot.”
She gave him a small smile before reaching for her shirt. “I think I might do that when it’s just us. The only other person who’s seen the extent of these is Mary and that’s because she undressed me after a party when we first started and I was too pissed to do it myself. She’s offered to rub the crème I use on my back in hopes they’ll fade too, but...maybe you could?”
“Could I perhaps borrow some?”
She nodded. “I’ll have my mum send an extra tube and I’ll get your back. It doesn’t make them all disappear but most of yours are lessened so maybe it will work better for you.”
“Thank you,” he said. He gestured to the pancake. “It’s getting cold.”
“We can’t have that, can we?” she said, giving him a wider smile before getting the things she needed and digging in. This...boded better than she had ever expected it to, surprisingly. Maybe her life was looking up after all...
They settled into a routine fairly quickly, spending the early morning hours together while she went over the work for students she was paid for and he would cook for them. The pancakes weren’t a regular part of their meals, but for someone who had told her not to get used to breakfast each morning, he seemed to have something waiting when she woke up at five. It got to be a comfortable start to her day that she enjoyed.
One morning she felt awful, and when her alarm went off at 5 she hit the snooze button and went back to sleep. She’d had days like this before where her arms and torso felt like they were on fire. They weren’t infected, it was just something that happened on occasion, almost like an itch she couldn’t scratch that burned at the edges. The crème helped, but the night before she and Sherlock had stayed up watching both of the Ghostbusters movies in an attempt to have a lighthearted evening after another dinner at Mary and John’s where they’d been summarily ignored for discussions of Mary’s pregnancy. John wanted her to marry him before she had the child, whereas Mary was adamant she wanted to get married after uni. It was a complicated situation between their friends, and their presence wasn’t really needed there. They'd gotten so absorbed with the movie she had forgotten to have him put it on her and she was paying for it now.
After the alarm went off again her door opened slightly. “There’s French toast,” Sherlock said.
“I’ll come out eventually,” she said. “I just hurt.”
“The scars?” he asked.
“Do you need the crème on them?”
“It’d be nice, but you don’t have to. You already do so much.”
He snorted out a laugh. “I cook breakfast. You repay me with dinner and more. Sit up and I’ll put it on you.”
She couldn’t resist the small smile that came to her face. Mornings like this she usually stayed in bed and sobbed a bit, but here he was, bossing her about and making her smile. He was a git in the best possible way. He left her doorway as she sat up, stripping off her shirt to expose her back and arms. The cool morning air helped a bit, but she knew the crème would help more, especially on her back where she couldn’t reach.
She saw Sherlock come in not only with the tube of crème but some lotion as well, and she raised an eyebrow. “Massaging in more than the crème will help. All that does is fade the scars. Just...trust me.”
“Someone did it for you?” she asked, pushing back her quilt and rolling over onto her stomach, keeping her arms by her side.
“The entanglement, on occasion. She saw the scars and would occasionally massage my back when they felt particularly knotted. I know she wanted more but I didn’t, and it would always aggravate her.”
“What was her name?” Molly asked.
“Irene.” He got on the edge of her bed and set the tube of crème and the lotion on the other side of her. “She was a working girl who I was friends with. Her interest in me was...as anything but a client, I suppose. It was more personal than that, but it went away when I wouldn’t let her divest me of the damned virginity.”
“Well, you know that’s the reason my engagement ended,” she said. “Pushy gits, the both of them.”
“I suppose,” he replied. “But at the time, they were important parts of our lives.”
“Yeah.” He put some of the crème on his hands and began to massage it into the heaviest of the scarred parts of her body, which he seemed to have correctly assumed hurt the worst. He didn’t rub it in thoroughly, but the cooling factor helped quite a bit, and he did so in silence before he pulled his hands away. “Why did you stop?”
“It’s easier to straddle you to work the lotion in. And...it’s better if you doff the bra.”
She nodded and reached behind her, sitting up as she did, to pull off the bra. She kept it held close to her breasts, though; she could massage the crème and lotion into those scars and the ones on her upper chest well enough. Then she settled back into the bed and he straddled her just at the small of her back. For being taller and bigger than her he was putting very little weight on her.
The coolness of the lotion shocked her slightly, but he began to knead it into her muscles along with the crème on the surface and she had to admit, he was good at this. She shut her eyes and let his fingers roam along the various muscles, kneading and applying more lotion at times and more crème at others, until she was nearly back asleep and feeling a million times better than she had when she woke up.
“You are amazing,” she murmured, and he moved off her back so she could sit up and put the bra on. She decided against putting her shirt on again, as she didn’t want the lotion or crème all over it even if he had massaged a good portion of both into her skin, and she turned to see he had an almost shy look on his face. Not at her partial nudity, she knew that, but at the compliment, perhaps? “Are you surprised by the compliment?”
He nodded. “I never really got them much, unless it was academically,” he said. “And even then it always felt there was an edge to them.”
“You know, we’re going to work on that,” she said. “You deserve so much better than what you’ve had.”
“And you do too, you know,” he replied.
“Well, I have you in my corner, now, don’t I?” she said with a smile. She got a small one in return and a nod as well, and impulsively she moved over and hugged him. After a moment she felt his arms wrap around her and his chin settle in her hair. Whether there was anything more to ever come from their living arrangement, no matter what, she hoped she’d found a friend in this mess called her life, because she had the feeling they both sorely needed one another.
It was a few days later when she and Sherlock were walking back to their flat when she saw the last person on earth she wanted to run across: Tom, with the new woman in his life by his side. She urgently pulled Sherlock into the alley by the pub they passed and nearly pinned him to the wall so neither of them would be seen by the git and the tramp. She could see Sherlock had a confused look on his face but she leaned into him slightly to look around the corner. “Bloody hell,” she muttered.
“And just why are we hiding in an alley instead of walking down the pavement to the flat?” he asked.
“Because my git of an ex is out with the tramp he knocked up and I don’t want to deal with him.”
“It’s not as though you don’t look nice,” he pointed out. “And you have me. I can play the role of boyfriend so he’ll see you’ve moved on. That should really irritate him. I doubt he thinks anyone would want you so seeing us holding hands would confuse him, at the very least, and possibly ruin his evening.”
She pulled back slightly to beam at him and then without really thinking kissed him quickly on the lips. “You’re a genius.”
He blinked a few times and started to say something when she grabbed his hand and yanked him out of the alley, still holding his hand as they purposefully walked towards their flat. He stayed quiet except to nod towards a man and a woman and go, “Is that him?”
She nodded, and the “yeah” she was answering with was halfway out of her mouth when Sherlock pulled her close and kissed her. She was only momentarily surprised before she realized it was for show and kissed him back, melting against him and nearly needing to cling to him just to stay up as the kiss brought her to her knees. She heard Tom make a strangled and slightly affronted sound but as she started to wonder when Sherlock would pull away, she realized she didn’t want him to, and as his hands went around her waist to keep her up she wasn’t sure he wanted to either.
It was only when there was a need to breath that he pulled back, doing the slow blinking thing she had come to associate with him thinking heavy thoughts and sorting them out in his head. Then he gently let go of her, took her hand again, and they began to walk towards the flat in silence. But it wasn’t an awkward one, not really, and she leaned into him in a contented manner.
It wasn’t until they were back home that she spoke. “That wasn’t all fake, was it?” she asked as she sat on the sofa.
“No,” he said slowly. “Not on your part?”
“Not at all,” she said as he sat next to her. She turned to face him. “That was the best snog I’ve ever had, to be quite honest.”
“I never thought I’d be told that,” he said, the tiniest hint of a smile edging up on his face.
“Well, it was,” she said. She kept her distance a bit because he seemed to be a bit shell-shocked. “Had you ever kissed Irene?”
He shook his head. “In the alleyway, that was the first time I’d ever been kissed.” Finally he turned to look at her. “This is all changing, isn’t it?”
“Doesn’t have to,” Molly said, tamping down a bit of disappointment. “I mean, you know the reason Mary introduced us initially, right?”
“Virginity,” he said.
She nodded. “And we can get through uni with each other’s virginity intact, if that’s what you want. Or we can try the relationship thing, or friends with bennies, or whatever. I mean...we have that choice. We can be friends and only friends or...not.”
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Maybe to try?” she said, tilting her head. “We did it all backward, of course, but no one has a relationship that goes perfect every time. And we trust each other. That’s a start. But I won’t push.”
“I think I want to try, but I’m afraid I’ll muck it up,” he admitted. “It’s not my forte to be...”
“If you say nice or personable to finish that sentence I’m going to punch you in the arm,” she said, and that got a bigger grin out of him. “We’ll just...take it slowly. Dip our toes into the water, so to speak. You set the pace and I’ll follow with no pressure to hurry things along. Alright?”
He reached over for her hand and began to play with her fingers before simply holding her hand in his. “Alright,” he said with a nod.
She moved closer and leaned her head against his shoulder before he pulled their joined hands onto his thigh. “So. What do we want to eat for dinner and what do we want to watch on the telly?” She could feel him relax as he answered and she found herself smiling. Not at all how she had expected the evening to end, but perhaps this was what was fated to be anyway. If it was, she thought to herself, maybe the second time around she’d gotten damn lucky.
Things didn’t really change much between her and Sherlock for a bit except there was more physical closeness. They still kept to their routine, having breakfast together that he cooked and dinner together, though sometimes they went out to eat instead of her making the meal. They would hold hands when they walked together and really, it wasn’t much more than that and some snogging, and she liked it. Being with Tom had felt akin to a production when they had first started dating and this was different. It felt natural.
One evening, though, she was very late getting back from a night out with Mary and John that Sherlock had declined to join them on and the apartment appeared to be empty until she realized there was a light on in Sherlock’s bedroom. She heard a soft whimpering coming from his room and softly opened the door to see Sherlock tossing and turning on his bed. She moved to the edge and not sure what else to do she began to stroke his hair back, her fingers tangling in his curls.
She did that for she had no idea how long until the tossing and turning stopped, and as she got up to leave his hand shot out, gently gripping her wrist. “Stay?” he mumbled sleepily to her.
“Are you sure?” she asked, and he nodded, letting go of her wrist. She wasn’t at all dressed for sleep but she pulled off her shirt, leaving herself in the sports bra and trackies she’d been wearing that day and slipped into bed next to him. His hand wound it’s way around her waist and he pulled her against him. She hadn’t even done this with Tom, much to his chagrin and anger, and yet here she was in Sherlock’s bed, him spooning her as he slept.
Soon enough, she drifted off as well, feeling comfortable in that position. When she woke up as the sun flittered into his room, she realized he was still there holding her, but her head was on his bare shoulder with her nose almost in the crook of his neck. He was stroking her arm gently but he didn’t seem to be entirely awake.
“Did I have a nightmare last night?” he asked softly, and she nodded against him. “I thought they were over, but I got correspondence from my brother. My sister is being given...privileges.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, wrapping her arm around his waist.
“She’s brilliant, always has been, and she will be useful to the government. She can’t leave but she’ll be allowed presents. I don’t want to know what they are, but he thought I should be aware.” He sighed. “I haven’t had a nightmare in years.”
“I heard you when I got closer to your room just...whimpering,” she said.
“I feel rather exposed,” he replied.
“Well, you don’t need to be. If any of her privileges or presents involve you, I’ll help write something to your family telling them to...to piss off,” she said, shifting to rest her chin on his chest. “And we can ignore them and stay here and hole up, I don’t know.”
He reached over and gently caressed her face, running his fingers along her cheekbone. “Your ex was an idiot for picking that tramp over you,” he said.
“Well, that just means that the time was right for me to really meet you, and I think I’m far luckier than he’s going to be,” she said with a smile. “Let’s just take today off. Lounge around together, watch films, gorge on ginger nuts and Jaffa cake, and forget the rest of the world exists for a day.”
He nodded and then shifted, causing her to lift her chin up, and then he kissed her softly. “That sounds like an excellent idea,” he murmured before kissing her again. While she didn’t expect them to go further than this, at least not yet, she had to admit that the idea of having snogging sessions throughout the day made her feel a bit weak in the knees, and very proud of herself for thinking of them having a day to themselves.
“So, how goes the mission to lose your virginity?” Mary asked a few weeks after the first time she had slept in the same bed as Sherlock. Mary was saying it with a gleam in her eye, which made Molly think she had realized whatever was going on between her and Sherlock was more than just friends with benefits or anything like that.
“It doesn’t,” Molly said with a grin. “Not that it matters to him or I much whether we’re both virgins. We’re just...enjoying our time together.” And I’m falling in love with him, she added to herself, not sure she wanted to admit that fact to anyone yet.
“Good,” her friend said with an emphatic nod. “I’m glad you’re not rushing into things. You’re both really good together, probably better than John and I are.”
“Having problems?” Molly asked with a frown.
“No, not really. I mean...we didn’t plan for the pregnancy, and that’s made things...awkward. Neither of us wants me to give up the baby or get rid of it, we want him or her, but...”
“But you’re still in uni and it’s a complication you didn’t need,” Molly finished.
“Exactly. I have another year left to go, John has medical school, but I doubt that will work out the way we’d planned with a baby. But I did decide to marry him. Not because he pestered or anything but because even with our differences, I love him. But we’re doing it as a small affair. Our families aren’t exactly happy about the situation.”
“I’m going to be there, I hope,” Molly said.
Mary looped her arm around Molly’s shoulders. “Wouldn’t want anyone else as my maid of honour.”
“Oh!” Molly said with a wide smile on her face. “Do you have a dress? You have to let me make yours if you don’t. I can sew quickly.”
“I know you can and absolutely. I’m thinking something empire waist,” Mary said, and soon the rest of their conversation was spent designing her dress. By the time the two of them parted, Molly knew the bolts of fabric in her linen closet would be put to good use.
She let herself in to see Sherlock on the sofa, dozing. Ever since the nightmare the two of them had taken to sharing a bed and he seemed to be getting more sleep in the evenings, but she did enjoy catching him dozing on the sofa because he looked so peaceful when he slept. She went and curled up next to him, reaching over for a book to read for a bit until she felt his arms go around her. “I got you a present,” he said, pressing a kiss into her hair.
“Oh?” she asked, looking up at him with a smile.
“A few different ribbons for your neck. I know you usually prefer black, but I saw a few yards of ribbon that had embroidery on it that I thought you might like.”
“How thoughtful,” she said before leaning in more and giving him a proper kiss. “I’ve been thinking, though. The crème has lessened the redness a bit. Maybe...I might go outside without a ribbon, just once or twice?”
“I think that’s quite brave,” he said with a nod, pulling her closer. “Maybe one day we’ll both be brave together and bear our scars to the world.”
“Well, it’s not like I’m going to wear a vest, but...I might get to that point. This, between us...I don’t know. It gives me a lovely sense of confidence.”
“It does?” he asked, and she nodded in response. “I’m glad.” He yawned and she rested her head against him again. “Do you want to go rest now?”
“I think that sounds like a lovely idea. I can bore you into sleep with the details of Mary’s wedding dress that I’ll be making.”
“Oh, I doubt you can bore me into sleep with any subject,” he said with a grin as he let go of her. She chuckled as they got up and made their way to her room, having decided ages ago she had the comfier bed.
“Just wait until I start talking about the position of darts and matching thread colours,” she said, and he stopped and pulled her close. “Sherlock?”
“I don’t think anything you can say will bore me because I love it when you’re passionate about something,” he said, tucking her hair behind her ear. “And I realized today it’s because I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”
She smiled brightly at him and then got on her tiptoes and kissed him softly. “I love you too, you know.”
“You do?” he asked, keeping her close.
“I do,” she said.
“Good,” he replied before yawning again. “Dammit. I'd hoped to be more...romantic.”
She laughed and got back on her feet before wrapping her arms around him and resting her head on his chest. “Let’s get some sleep, Mr. Sleepyhead.”
“Fine, Mrs. Sleepyhead,” he teased as she pulled him to her room. She gave him a soft chuckle but really, her heart was so full every step she took felt like she was walking on air. He loved her and she had admitted she loved him. If nothing else, this showed that she had not been mistaken that this second chance at a relationship had a better chance of working out than her first had.
She was rather surprised that the next night Sherlock asked her to stay out of the apartment for a few hours. She took the bolts of fabric she’d planned to use for her own wedding dress and took them to Mary and John’s, going over ideas for the dress for Mary and plotting out what else they would need while she killed time for Sherlock to do whatever it was he was planning.
When she came back she saw the lights were off and there were candles at the table. There was something that smelled good in the kitchen, and he was in the middle of fixing up a salad when she set the bolts of fabric on the sofa. “I wasn’t done,” he said.
“What were you doing?” she asked with a smile.
“I wanted to surprise you with a romantic dinner at home. Everything I should have done yesterday.”
She went over to him and embraced him from behind, pressing a kiss into his back. “Oh Sherlock, you didn’t have to.”
“I just hadn’t meant to blurt it out,” he said. “I don’t know much about relationships, but even I know that.”
“Sherlock?” she asked, causing him to stop dealing with the salad and look at her. “This is incredibly sweet. I am very very thankful for the effort you put into this. But if you want to be let in on a secret, Tom told me when he was pissed at his parent’s home.”
The corner of Sherlock’s mouth quirked up. “So I was better?”
“Infinitely,” she said. “You really are so much better, you know. You’re just...” She took a deep breath. “You try so hard and I love that you put in the effort. I’m so thankful that you’re in my life now, you know?”
“I’m just thankful for you,” he murmured before leaning in to kiss her. There was something different about this kiss that made her think, perhaps, neither of them would be mourning the loss of virginity by the end of the evening. But there was no way in bloody hell they were shagging for the first time in the kitchen.
“Should we move this elsewhere?” she asked, letting her hands settle around his neck. He nodded and she pulled her arms down and took his hand in hers. Mary had slipped a box of condom into the drawer of her nightstand the last time she was at the apartment, much to her chagrin at the time, but she was incredibly thankful now as she led Sherlock to her room, stopping every so often to kiss each other with a passion that made her weak in the knees.
So much for being frigid as a cod, she thought to herself as Sherlock backed her towards a wall, lifting the hem of her shirt up and breaking the kiss enough to pull her shirt off. She retaliated by unbuttoning his and leaving his chest bare. She pulled him close against her so that what was exposed of their skin could touch, and she moaned into the kiss at the contact. After a moment she pushed the shirt off his shoulders but his cuffs were buttoned so she couldn’t get it all the way off, and he fumbled with the buttons.
“This looks easier in movies,” he muttered, and she chuckled at that.
“Because they’re more experienced than we are, probably,” she said, moving her hands to his other wrist to help.
“Inexperience doesn’t bother you?” he asked, stilling and looking down at her.
“If my first time is going to be with anyone, I only want it to be you,” she said, moving her hands up to cup his face. “Just you.”
He appeared to visibly relax and kissed her softly before they went back to work on the cuffs of his shirt, and when they buttons were finally undone he pulled it off and this time gently pulled her closer to him as she slid her arms around his neck again before they began to move to her room.
“Oh, protection,” he murmured, starting to straighten up and pull away.
“My nightstand drawer,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “Mary’s doing.”
“We owe her,” he said, and she giggled at that. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said, giving him a warm smile. “My mum had said once if you can’t laugh when you’re shagging you’re with the wrong person.”
“As long as you’re finding all this enjoyable and not laughing at me,” he said, though he grinned.
“Never that.” She pulled him in for another kiss as he backed her against her door, fumbling for the knob. When it opened they crashed into her room, nearly falling onto the floor, but Sherlock steadied them in time for a moment until Molly pulled away, divesting herself of her bra and showing off her chest to someone for the first time. She almost started to cover herself, but he was there, leaning over and kissing one of the scars at the top of her breast and she stopped, shutting her eyes and sighing softly.
“You know you’re beautiful,” he said.
“I’m not,” she replied softly.
“To me, you are,” he said. He pulled her in for an embrace and she savored the warmth of his chest against her, the heat between them. He had taken a moment to reassure her that in his eyes she was beautiful and she almost started to cry and such a simple statement. But soon he was kissing her again and she forgot about shedding any tears.
She sat on the bed and then positioned herself to lay down, lifting her hips to divest herself of her skirt and knickers in one slightly awkward moment, and if there was anything at all she wanted most to remember about this moment it was the heat in his eyes as he looked at her, naked on the bed. He fumbled with the button on his trousers and after a moment she sat up and motioned for him to come closer, undoing it for him and carefully lowering the zipper. He wasn’t wearing any pants, which surprised her, and his cock sprang forth as he pushed his trousers off his hips. She was rather impressed and a little worried at the size. But he joined her on the bed and then kissed her as she laid back down.
She was expecting it to hurt, but he slipped his hand between her legs and she looked up at him in surprise. “Irene often went into great detail on exactly how she wanted me to please her,” he said, letting his fingers slide between her slick folds. Her breath hitched as he ran his thumb over the sensitive nub of flesh there and he took that as a sign he should focus on that area for a moment before slowly inserting a finger inside her.
“I should...thank her...” she said as she dropped her head back. She’d felt her knickers get wet before when she teased herself, the closest she ever came to anything naughty, and this felt better. If his fingers were skilled at massage they were at this as well. Soon she felt the familiar stirring inside that meant she was coming, and she found herself tightening around his fingers as she gasped.
“I should too,” he murmured before looking at her nightstand drawer. He opened it and saw the box of condoms, removing one foil packet out and fumbling a bit with opening it before using his teeth. Molly took it from him and rolled it onto his erect cock, watching him shut his eyes at her touch. Soon the condom was on and they got into a position where he was between her legs, and then he stilled. “I don’t know...I mean...”
“If this will work?” she asked. He nodded, and then she thought for a moment about those magazines that told the readers how to have the best shag ever. She reached for a pillow, then another, and lifted up her hips. “Stick those underneath and then you kneel.”
“That will work?” he asked.
“Supposedly it makes it good,” she said. He moved the pillows under her hips and then knelt in between her legs before guiding himself to her entrance and pushing in. He was bigger than she expected but she adjusted well as he entered her slowly. When he stopped he leaned over to give her a chance to adjust. “Are you alright?” she asked, moving her hips slightly.
“Fuck,” he murmured. “Don’t do that.”
“Alright,” she said, staying still. He slowly began to pull out and she tried to stay as still as possible, and then he thrust back in a little faster. She gasped as he went deeper and he stopped. “No, no, keep going.”
With that, he began to work up to a rhythm that had her grasping at her sheets. It wasn’t the best but oh, he hit the right spot with her in this position. Soon she felt that coiling inside her again grow and grow until she let out a breathy but high pitched rendition of his name, and that was all it took for him to follow her, as he went rigid a moment later before drooping.
He pressed a kiss to her chest and then collapsed on top of her, still trying to hold up his weight. “You can relax,” she said.
“Thank you,” he murmured against her skin. “That was...not horrible.”
For some reason, that particular choice of words had her burst into laughter, and he lifted his head up, laughing as well. “No, Sherlock, it was definitely not horrible,” she said, reaching over to gesture that he move so she could kiss him. “Next time will be better, I think.”
“Then the third?” he asked.
“Depends on how many tricks Irene talked about, I think.” She grinned at him and then kissed him softly. “Or things we figure out ourselves.”
“I like the idea of us figuring things out ourselves,” he said with a grin of his own.
“Well, I have a whole box of condoms...”
“Then maybe after dinner we should use a few more?” he asked.
“I think that sounds like a good idea.”7
By the end of the month, it was time for John and Mary’s wedding. It was mostly friends from uni with a few of the supportive family members they had, and both Molly and Sherlock stood proudly with them as they said their vows. Molly surprised everyone by agreeing to a three-quarter sleeve bridesmaid dress to wear with the actual bridesmaid, and while she was nervous the day of the wedding about her scars it was only momentary before Sherlock came up behind her and told her she was just as beautiful as the bride.
There was a small party at the local pub that they had all loved to celebrate the nuptials, and at one point Mary found Molly alone and sat next to her. The flower crown that the bridesmaids and maid of honour were wearing had fallen askew on Molly’s head, and Mary fixed it for her. “You look gorgeous, you know.”
“Why thank you,” Molly said. She wasn’t too tipsy, just a bit on the happy drunk side. She looked over at Sherlock, who was chatting with John and giving him an envelope. “Sherlock is paying for your honeymoon.”
“He is?” Bless him. We hadn’t even thought of having one.”
“Next break, a week in Paris while you can still enjoy it. He pulled some strings but you’ll love it.”
“And I take it you helped?”
“I may have had a hand in the places you’ll go and the things you’ll get to see.” She reached over and hugged Mary. “I’m so happy for you.”
“Next up I bet it will be you and Sherlock,” Mary said, hugging her friend back.
“Maybe. And maybe I’ll even have enough confidence for cap sleeves. I used to look cute in them.”
“I hope you do, Molly, I really do.” She looked over at her husband and Sherlock. “I take it Sherlock’s had a lot to do with your boost of confidence?”
Molly looked at her drink, grinning. “He’s in love with my breasts, I swear.”
Mary’s eyes widened. “No!”
Molly nodded. “I can’t believe you hadn’t guessed we shagged! It was nearly three and a half weeks ago!”
“Oh my God, congratulations!” Mary hugged her again. “You two are being careful, right?”
“Halfway through the box you left in my nightstand, but we use one every time,” Molly said. “But yeah. He thinks I’m beautiful. Kisses my scars before he goes to sleep. And...I don’t know. It’s nice.”
“You’re a lucky woman,” Mary said.
Molly caught Sherlock’s eye and he raised his glass towards her, winking, and she knew tonight they’d explore a bit more about what they liked in bed, probably more than once, if she had any say. “Yes. Yes, I absolutely am.”