dwgm: Sherlocked (Sherlocked)
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So this was (and is -- just got through posting the 12th part of it on AO3) a series of ficlets designed to work out my Sherlock/Molly head canon. It borrows a few ideas from other folks' work, as usual, but the writing is all mine.

This is 1450 words, features Sherlock, Molly, and Sherlock's father, and was written for the 'Outsides' prompt.



~ In an English Country Garden ~


“You like gardens,” Sherlock said.

Molly eyed him, puzzled at this non-sequitur. They had been discussing the body that lay on the table before them, one Mr. Harold Eugene Clapham, aged sixty-nine, death from natural causes, an acute myocardial infarction. Gardens didn’t seem to enter into it.

Sherlock cleared his throat, and Molly noted the tips of his ears turning an interesting shade of pink. However, he carried on manfully. “Would you like to drive out to see one? On your day off tomorrow?”

“A garden? Really?” Molly smiled, surprised and delighted.

Sherlock rolled his eyes a bit. “Molly, it’s not as though I’ve never asked you out.”

She frowned. “But--”

“Of course, you were still engaged to Tom at the time.”

“Do you mean when you asked me along to solve crimes in John’s place?”

“Precisely. And I offered to take you for fish and chips.”

Molly raised a brow.

Sherlock deflated somewhat. “Doesn’t count?”

She took pity on him and smiled once more. “Well… perhaps not. But I do like gardens.”

“Yes. Right. Pick you up at nine then?”

*

It seemed to be quite a long drive out to the particular garden Sherlock had in mind, but Molly happily watched the scenery go by, content just to absorb the delicious late spring day. The car was sleek, black and luxuriously comfortable; Sherlock seemed a good driver, in spite of the lack of legal benediction (“A rental?” “No, nicked it from Mycroft. He won’t object to an expired license. Not that I gave him the opportunity.”); and halfway to their destination they stopped at a charming historic inn for some excellent refreshments.

They left the motorway shortly after that and for more than an hour meandered along a series of complicated rural byways. Sherlock never had recourse to GPS, nor did he miss a turn.

“You know this area well,” Molly observed.

“Mmmm,” was his only reply.

She elected not to press him, but turned back to the window, losing herself in the beauty of the sunny countryside. The warmth, the smooth ride, and the surfeit of tea and scones all conspired against her and she only found that she’d dozed off when the car at last glided to a stop.

“Here we are. Enjoy your nap?”

Molly flushed, muttered, “Sorry,” and sat up to look around. They had pulled up next to a small white picket gate that was topped with an arch of exuberantly vining miniature roses in a delicate shade of pink. The gate was the only gap visible in a tall, well pruned hedge, but through it one could catch a tantalizing glimpse of a vast and colorful garden with a large cottage, painted a warm rust-red, in the distance beyond it. “This is a private home, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but the owners won’t mind. I’m quite familiar with them.” He got out, shutting his door, and came around to open hers.

She set her hand in his proffered one and was surprised when he retained it after helping her from the car, He didn’t bother locking his borrowed (stolen?) conveyance, merely closed her passenger door and proceeded to lead her to the garden gate and then inside.

Presently, however, he was obliged to release her. The garden was simply too gorgeous and he was reduced to following in her wake as she explored in ecstatic wonder, discovering one treasure after another: roses of many shades and cultivars; beds of daisies, bellflower, and sweet william punctuated with tall spikes of foxglove and delphinium; coral bells; bleeding hearts; great mounds of hydrangea and peony; an ancient and very climbable oak with an old but possibly still functional treehouse in its branches.

Sherlock came up with her as she studied the structure. “Is that a skull and crossbones on the side of that treehouse?” she asked.

“Somewhat faded, but yes. And it’s a pirate ship, not a treehouse.”

She stared at him. “Is it?”

“Obviously.”

She turned again to the… Pirate Ship … an odd but charming vision entering her head. Her lips quivered against a grin.

“Come see the herb garden,” Sherlock said, turning her firmly away, then catching up her hand again. He lead her in the direction of the house. “The lavender is coming into bloom.”

The lavender beds were indeed impressive, and there was a wide variety of herbs more suited to cooking. A small vegetable garden also lay close by, with spring offerings like spinach and lettuces and green peas climbing up poles, and a newly cultivated area waiting for a summer planting.

“Sherlock!”

Molly looked up to see an older gentleman ambling toward them from the door of the house, a cardigan and bow tie setting off his comfortable country garb.

“Why, this is wonderful! How good it is to see you, my boy. And you’ve brought a guest! A very pretty one, too.” The gentleman raised his brows in provocative inquiry.

“Yes,” Sherlock said, his voice somewhat strained. “My.... um.... pathologist. And friend. Dr. Molly Hooper. Molly, this is my father, Vernet Holmes.”

Molly, not entirely surprised, held out her hand. “How do you do, sir?”

Mr. Holmes senior had all the sparkle and courtly behavior his son was lacking (at least at that moment). He took her hand and bowed over it, kissing the air just above her fingers, then, straightened to his full height (nearly the equal of Sherlock’s) and said with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m charmed to meet you, my dear, the more so as I believe this is the first time Sherlock has ever brought a guest of the female persuasion to the house. You must be a special lady indeed.”

Sherlock, said stiffly (and unwisely), “No. I brought Mary Watson, Christmas before last.”

A little of the good humor left his father’s expression and he eyed his son. “So you did.”

Molly thought she heard Sherlock choking a bit.

But Mr. Holmes’ gaze soon returned to her, warming again, and he squeezed her hand, which he’d retained. “I’m quite confident, that today’s will be a far more conventional and altogether happier celebration. Do you know that it’s my birthday? I’m sixty-nine today.”

“Sixty-nine!” Molly exclaimed, with a sideways glance at Sherlock as she recalled their conversation of the previous day, over the body of Mr. Clapham. Sherlock, however, now appeared to be studying the grass at his toes, so she merely smiled with honest pleasure at his father. “Congratulations, sir! I’m so glad to be here to celebrate with you!”

“Mother’s making a cake!” he said, as though imparting a wonderful secret. “My favorite -- and yours, Sherlock.”

Sherlock looked up. “Chocolate Walnut?”

Vernet Holmes nodded,

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed a bit. “Mycroft’s not coming, is he?”

“Not today. He’ll be here tomorrow. We’ll save him a piece.”

“If we must,” Sherlock acquiesced, his tone petulant. Then, more evenly, “Will you tell Mummy we’re here? I want to show Molly the fountain and rock garden around the side before we come in.”

“Certainly. Take your time. Oh, she’ll be over the moon! But she’s elbow deep in icing just at the moment. Come in when you’re ready.” He gave Molly’s hand a last squeeze, winked rather slyly, and took himself off.

Sherlock watched him go, then cleared his throat and looked at Molly somewhat uncomfortably. “You’re all right with this?”

“Of course I am! But Sherlock…” She held his eye. “I don’t think you need to worry.”

He said nothing for a moment. Then: “He was in hospital last year. Just one night. An arrhythmia. He’s on some medication now.” Another pause as he looked up to where his father had disappeared into the door of the house. “Claims he’s a new man,” he went on, his voice growing bitter. “He and my mother are off to the U.S. again next month, for some dance competition or other.”

Molly shook her head, chuckling. “Oh, Sherlock!” She took his cold hand between her warm ones. “You can’t keep him wrapped in cotton wool. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

“And if he’s not?” he demanded, looking down his nose at her.

She was not daunted. “Well, then he’ll have died doing something he loves, with someone he loves. No one can ask fairer than that.”

There was another long pause before he conceded, “No. I suppose not.”

She kept hold of his hand with one of hers and said, “Now, show me the fountain and rock garden, and then I must meet your mother.”

He gave a kind of groan. “And field endless innuendo regarding her lack of grandchildren.”

She laughed. “Not your area?”

His hand tightened slightly on hers. “Not thus far. Though you never know.”



~.~

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