And here's the final part to my story (considering this was going to be a one shot, I'd say I did well with 8 chapters)! I'm so happy you've all supported this and its been a joy to write for you all, and I cant express how much I appreciate all of your kind reviews! You my friends are wonderful!
I'll let you get on!
The night was cold when the outdoor air caressed Molly's skin, the breeze tousling her already dishevelled hair. She could feel it like fingers stroking her flesh, cool and beckoning her attention, and it loosened the fist in her chest that was crushing her heart and lungs. She could breathe. She gasped in the air as if she'd surfaced from the water, letting the icy air freeze the pain inside her as well as destroy the terrible bacteria that Moriarty had planted on her; he was a disease, threatening to poison her, just like the black seas in her dreams.
Molly felt herself being lowered to the ground, voices murmuring over her. Gravel gnawed into her back through her clothes, biting at her, urging her to stay awake. She could feel the world slipping away from her like silk slipping over a table's edge, but it wasn't like dying. When she'd been dying before, she'd been thrashing against black waves, screaming, desperate for someone to find her and pull her out. The world had spun out of control as she fought for her life, the pain and emotional hurt expanding around her in a twister of horror, sweeping her away and pulling her down, down, down, until she couldn't find the strength to breathe. This was nothing like that.
She heard her name being yelled repeatedly, yet she couldn't bring herself to focus. She was awake, alive, but all she could see was the sky up above. The stars were out, a sheet of diamonds in the sky. It was beautiful, and reminded her of a time when she was seventeen. Her Aunt Lillie had had a field behind her house when Molly has resided there all those years ago, and on summer evenings Molly would slip out of the house, jump over the two walls separating her from the field, crossing a road in between. Then she had just laid there for hours, watching the moon and stars, forgetting all the loneliness that had suffocated her for so long. It was the only thing she missed about the countryside, but even that felt like it shouldn't have been real. Her youth had just been a terrible dream, the stars the only silver lining in her grey life. The city is what woke her up, and she had been awake for so long that she'd forgotten what it was like to dream about the stars. This was the first time she had seen them in years; the fumes of the city swallowed them up as easily as they devoured her own memories.
And that's when she realised that she had never been more awake in her life, seeing the world in a new light. She'd done the impossible; she'd proven herself. After years and years of being told she was nothing, that she was stupid and weak, she'd broken through the fog that had controlled her life for so long, rained on it until there was nothing left anymore. At last she could see, breathe and even hear fresh hope in her life, the light of a new beginning burning ferociously in each star that sparkled above her in the sky.
Molly Hooper was free, alive, and ready to live again.
Faces blurred into focus, blocking out the sheet of glitter. She blinked, seeing two men on either side of her, tapping her face and calling her name, summoning her to listen to them. The loud beat of her heart thumped heavily before dying away, yanking forth reality in its wake. In the distance she heard sirens, yelling, footsteps turning the gravel in violent haste.
"Miss Hooper, can you hear me?" one of the men asked her, stroking a thumb along her cheekbone, his glowing blue eyes concerned as they stared at her.
"M-Molly." she croaked, coughing a little. She wanted to squirm, for she felt hands on the skin of her stomach, pushing down on her painfully, but something in the back of her mind told her not to. They were helping her, and the pain was the unwanted part of the deal.
"What?" asked the man, pulling his hand away from her face.
"Call me… Molly." she forced the words out even though it hurt to speak. "Miss Hooper… is my mother."
The man chuckled and momentarily pulled himself out of her line of sight. She blinked again, confused, the world not entirely in focus yet. The sirens grew louder, more demanding, and Molly fought the urge to cover her ears against such a cruel, deafening sound. She used to do that when she was little, during the rare fights her parents would have. She'd hid in her wardrobe as they screamed at each other, threatening to end their marriage, and at the time Molly had found it agonising to listen to. Not now. When she grew up and thought back on such arguments, she realised that though her parents had threatened one another extensively, they had had such chemistry that no threat could have truly torn them apart. That's was truly ruined her mother, because the death of her husband had emotionally killed her, too, for the chemistry and heat of her marriage had been her lifeline.
Suddenly, the pressure from her stomach vanished as did the presence of her two hooded guardians. She heard a car skid before breaking, followed by the opening and slamming of a door. Someone screamed her name—no, more than one person—and Molly forced herself to truly reconnect with herself and wake up completely. She sat up, crying out a little, and at first she was alone. Then, footsteps loud and running straight towards her, face after face came swimming into view.
Greg, Mary and Mrs Hudson.
She heard John's voice carry away with the wind, and she knew he'd be running to Sherlock's aid. She was glad that he was.
Extending a bloody hand, she reached for the faces in front of her. Three hands grasped her arm, tight and seeming to refuse to ever let go. Molly felt herself rise, strength swimming to her legs, and she found herself encircled in a family she had always known and accepted, even if they didn't accept her. But they did, she knew they did. They held her and comforted her, supporting her and the burden that was her life, murmuring that she was safe. She believed them.
Letting them walk her towards a vehicle flashing red and blue, Molly felt as if she had been in a similar situation before, reliving that of a dream. She wasn't sure, but she couldn't find herself caring, either. All that mattered was that she wasn't alone and that she was safe.
She would always be safe.
Twenty minutes later, Molly came around completely. She sat in the back of an ambulance van, a doctor tending to her stomach and stitching her wound together again. He assured her that there was no real damage and that she would heal after plenty of rest which Molly would more than welcome when the time came. But right now she had to stay awake and alert, pay attention to everything around her, burn the images into her brain so that she would never forget. She went over everything in her mind, replayed the night to every explicit detail, because tonight was the night that she would never be the same again. She needed to remember it, just in case she was to ever lose hope in herself again. She couldn't go back. Ever.
When the doctor was done, he draped an orange blanket over her shoulders, causing her to shiver automatically when she realised how cold she was. She could see her own breath in the air, remarkably steady before her eyes. The doctor left her then and nodded his permission for Molly to be approached, and Molly prepared herself for the inevitable; some very upset friends.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Greg yelled, striding towards her after hovering around for more than she was sure he was comfortable with. He jumped into the vehicle beside Molly and grabbed her shoulders almost painfully, and the pain in his usually teasing, thoughtful eyes frightened her. "You're so stupid!"
Tears burned her eyes, yet Molly found herself smiling. Greg smirked, but the smile was so sad and drained, the shadows beneath his eyes labelling him as exhausted. Instead of saying anything, she hugged the detective so tightly she was afraid she would stop him from breathing, but Greg only held her back. He rubbed his hand up and down the length of her spine, whispering soothing words to her, telling her how truly proud of her he was despite her own stupidity. But Molly knew she wasn't stupid and that Greg didn't mean it. He would probably never understand why she did what she did, but he still didn't think she was stupid. Mad, maybe? She wasn't bothered, for the only thing she needed right now was the warmth of someone familiar, the smell of someone she knew and cared for, a sign that some things hadn't changed. Greg smelled of his cologne as well as body odour, yet she inhaled him like a child inhaled the smell of a freshly baked cake. He was solid and real, proof that this nightmare was over, and Molly began to sob into his shoulder.
"Oh, Molly," someone behind her cooed with sadness, and Molly looked back to see Mrs Hudson staring at her solemnly. Molly pulled away from Greg and extended her arms, to which the older woman stepped into without hesitation. She wrapped her arms around Molly and squeezed, shushing her softly, murmuring apologies. What she was sorry for was beyond Molly but she accepted them anyway, hanging on to Mrs Hudson with all her might. She needed to be reminded of the innocence life had, and though Mrs Hudson was indeed an oddity in everyone's life, she was still true to who she was; and friend, maybe even a mother, which is exactly what Molly needed right now.
After a further ten minutes of medical check-ups, consoling and grief, Molly watched as many police officers exited the warehouse. She didn't miss each glance come her way, all of them filled with pity, and Molly vigorously wiped her tears away from her cheeks. Greg left her side to speak with the officers, who circled around one of the police cruisers, and Mrs Hudson made a worried sound below her breath. Molly caught Mary standing close to the doors of the warehouse, clearly worried and uncomfortable as her hands caressed her swollen stomach. Her eyes were pinned on the building, scanning each face that exited it, waiting for her husband to appear.
John came out a few moments later, jogging towards his wife and collecting her in his arms carefully. Molly strained her ears, listening hard as her heart leapt into her throat. She caught the words "it's alright" and "he's fine", and Molly instantly sagged with relief. Sitting on the gurney beside her, Mrs Hudson took Molly's hand in hers and patted it, smiling warmly. Molly barely felt it. Her eyes, like Mary's had been before, were pinned on the building, waiting, watching, worrying despite knowing that he was okay.
When Sherlock finally did walk out, looking slightly beaten but otherwise unharmed, Molly didn't hesitate to leave her post despite the call of protest from one of the doctors. Mrs Hudson didn't say a word but rather smiled brightly, bringing her hands to her face with what looked like an underlining trace of delight. Molly pushed aside the pain and started running, running to the one man who she had ever truly trusted, and even found herself shouting his name. His head snapped up, pausing in his approach towards the Watsons, and then his intelligent eyes landed on Molly herself as she flung herself at him.
Molly wrapped her arms tightly around the detective's neck, sobbing with relief, sinking against him and she allowed herself to truly appreciate how real he was. For a moment he didn't respond to her, going still against her smaller frame from what must have been surprise. Then, with her ear pressed desperately against his chest in order to feel the beat of his heart, he released a steady breath and folded his arms around her. She suddenly felt tiny, trapped against one of the most famous men in London, but she had never felt more whole and safe in her life. She clung on to him like it was the last thing she would ever do, which Sherlock hardly seemed to mind. He was steady against her, warm and oh so real, and Molly could almost delude herself into thinking that this was just a twisted but wonderful dream.
But the warmth grew. She heard her name whispered by more than one voice, and she felt herself being consumed by more than one body. Hands touched her, arms wound around her, breaths were hot and comforting on her skin. She felt someone hug into her back, someone else cling to her arm. Sherlock shifted to the side slightly, releasing Molly almost completely but keeping an arm securely around her waist. She took a peek and saw Mary, all blonde hair and teary eyes, reaching for Molly. She let out another sob and reached for her, too. They were all holding onto her, all of them truly there and protecting her in a circle of friendship and love; they were being the family she never truly had until this moment. Sherlock, John, Mary, Mrs Hudson and Greg were all Molly Hooper would ever need.
"How touching," snarled an Irish tone, and Molly finally opened her eyes. She didn't feel fear or anger or even grief now, but she felt grey, like the colour. Why? Because where she should have been afraid, she actually pitied Jim Moriarty. Where Molly had spent the entirety of her life believing she was alone in a cruel world, she was actually one of the lucky ones; she was loved, even by the people who were thought of as incapable love such as Sherlock. She had a blanket of warmth and love and friendship, and though it was dysfunctional, it was still perfect. But Jim Moriarty had nothing but his own brutally wonderful mind. No one would ever love him as passionately as Molly was; he would never feel that connection to someone, never experience a loving touch without it being a lie. Moriarty was all alone.
Despite the protective stillness of her friends, Molly managed to silently peel herself away from them, one hand at a time. She felt the cold envelope her in a swirling breeze, and a part of her thought of a villain creating such chills when present. Moriarty was in handcuffs wound securely behind his back, his back pushed forward ever so slightly as he was led to the police car. He had an officer on either on his arm, pulling him along, but they stopped when Molly slowly approached. Moriarty was bruised and bloody, his hair mussed violently, his suit dirty and ripped here and there, yet he was still beautiful. Broken, but beautiful. Molly had always had a good heart, and looking at him, she knew that he was just unfortunate; Sherlock could have so easily ended up like this, but he was lucky because Greg found him all those years ago.
Nobody found Jim when he needed to be found.
His dark eyes were far gone, laced with a hatred that chilled Molly to the bone. She felt his loathing slither along her skin, prickling the hairs on the back of her neck, but she hardly backed down from her approach. She stood close enough that she could feel the rigidness of his rage vibrating off of him and polluting the air. And closer she went. The man straightened his back to rival her challenge, glaring, and she knew he was fisting his hands behind his back. She reached up, stroking his cheek ever so softly before slithering her fingers around his neck, his skin hot beneath her fingers. She stared right into his eyes, locking them on hers to gain his full attention. And then she dug her nails into his skin.
Where Molly was gentle, she was also fierce, and she had a message to deliver.
She pulled harshly on his neck so that he was bent towards her, nose to nose. His eyes widened with genuine surprise, and Molly was distantly amazed that the officers didn't scold her for doing what she was doing. She inhaled his scent and the bitterness that was laced within it while memorising his face, from the darkest shade of brown in his eyes to the sharpness of his stubble covered jaw. He stared at her, not saying a word, his breathing so steady it was as if she wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. Finally she pressed her forehead to his, staring hard, letting her hurt and anger and pity flow from her and into him.
"Thank you, Jim." she whispered, fighting the urge to speak through gritted teeth. His mouth morphed into a twisted smile.
"For what?" he asked softly.
She knew he would never understand the next words to fall from her mouth. "For helping me prove myself." But she knew he would understand the next line perfectly. "I. Owe. You."
She saw the flash in his eyes before anyone else and jumped back, for he was lunging at her in a blink, dragging her name through the mud in vile curses. John grabbed her wrist and pulled her away and back into the circle of her friends, placing himself in front of her as if it might shield her from the terrible words Moriarty was screaming. In fact, everyone mimicked the action, watching the Consulting Criminal being dragged away towards the car. It wasn't until the door closed on him that all went silent, and while everyone else turned away, Molly continued to watch.
Jim caught her eyes, his jaw set, eyes blazing through the window. Then, to complete the image of one horrific night, he grinned just as the cruiser pulled away.
The next day, after a night at the police station reporting in her statement, Molly returned home, her real home. She hadn't been here for five weeks, so it was no surprise that she was a little unnerved to come back. She wasn't even sure she could still live here; the images of Tom's attack were still fresh in her mind. Greg had informed her that, not counting Tom's body of course, hardly anything had been touched since the night of the attack aside from the cleaning of the blood in the kitchen. But Molly had to go back in order to face her demons, simply because she knew she was strong enough to do so.
Indeed everything was a mess in the living room and kitchen. Her TV was still face down on the ground, her sofa thrown backwards with her cushions all over the room, and there were glass fragments here and there from the many things she had thrown in order to divert Tom's pursuit. She trod carefully, taking it all in, watching the memories flash before her eyes. It hurt remarkably less than she thought it would, but it was painful nonetheless. And Molly was one for distractions, so the only thing she could do now was the simplest of jobs; clean.
Just as she managed to lift the sofa up and position it in its former, correct place, there was a knock at the door. When she looked up, the knocker was already inside, and Molly silently cursed herself for not closing the door. It was Sherlock, looking strangely sheepish in her little home, a strange look on his face as he examined it with his expertise eyes. Molly assumed he was reliving a nightmare of his own, the one from the night that he and John found her dying in the kitchen. She shivered, drawing her eyes downward to search for one of the cushions that belonged on the sofa.
"Is everything alright?" she asked absently, finding what she was looking for and tossing it in its rightful place, punching it with a bruised fist in order to puff it up again.
"That's a silly question, don't you think?" Sherlock retorted, pushing the front door shut before allowing himself to enter the living room fully, his eyes watching Molly's every move. She frowned, looking up.
"Yes. Why ask if everything is okay when it is perfectly clear that they aren't?" he elaborated, and he sounded genuinely confused by her blindness. But she wasn't blind. Of course nothing was okay and it wouldn't be for a long, long time, but she also knew that there was no point in dwelling on the wrongness of the world when the right thing to do was to move on. And Molly was moving on, properly this time.
"I'm not going to live in the past, Sherlock; I've been doing that my whole life. What happened has happened and it's done. I'm going to get on with my life." She gestured around the room. "And I'm starting with this place. So I'll ask again; is everything alright?"
He didn't miss a beat. "No." He moved towards her a little too quickly for her liking. When he didn't slow down Molly backed up until her back was against a wall, her eyes gazing up at Sherlock in dumb surprise. His eyes were sharper than she had ever seen them, clear with confidence in what he was doing. He stood so that his shoes were flush with her pumps, meaning that he was close enough to see the steady movement of his chest, the rise and fall of his Adam's apple when he swallowed, and the ever so slight shift of colour in his eyes as he stared at her. Three years ago, Molly would have melted at the knees if Sherlock had come this close to her. Now, however, she had an urge to challenge him, so she squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, waiting for what he had to say.
"I need you to make me a promise." he told her carefully. Her heart jumped a little with curiosity and surprise. What kind of promise was Molly worthy of making to Sherlock?
"I can try." she told him carefully, her brows knitting together ever so slightly. His serious expression didn't waver.
"Promise that you'll never stop being Molly Hooper." he said, and the requested startled her enough that she broke out in a sheepish grin.
"I don't even know what that means." Came her response, and Sherlock expressed a half-hearted eye roll.
"It means that you should never stop being you. In other words, make sure that you never stop caring, never stop being brave, and most importantly, never stop being brilliant." He bent down slightly so that they were at eye level, causing Molly's breath to hitch with both the intensity of his stare and the next few words to fall from his mouth. "Don't let what happened change who you are, because I'll never forgive myself if you do."
"I… I suppose that's a fair request." she stuttered with a small smile. His expression didn't change for a further moment until he finally relaxed and returned her smile, moving away again. Molly was able to breathe once more.
Sherlock gazed around the room with a quizzical eye, most likely labelling what he saw, until he turned back to Molly. He suddenly looked very young and gentle, his eyes warm. "Would you like some help?"
"I—" Molly looked around, fighting the need to feel dismayed by the mess, until she sighed in defeat. "Yes, that would be nice."
Sherlock grinned and swept away, his coat like a cape until he shrugged out of his and discarded it on the half complete sofa, scarf in tow. He clapped his hands together and rubbed them, catching Molly's eye, and she couldn't help but grin at him.
"Tea?" Sherlock asked.
"Please, with two sugars." Was Molly's reply.
After that, Molly hardly saw Sherlock again for a long time. He'd stayed with her and cleaned up her apartment with her, telling her stories along the way in order to distract her, and even stayed the night. He vanished the next day and wasn't seen again as he focussed all of his attention on the one man who was out to destroy him once and for all, the man who had tried to rip Molly away in order to succeed in his doings. And molly was okay with that. She knew that Sherlock would always be there if she needed him, but for now she was okay.
Of course, Moriarty didn't stay locked up for long; he was much to clever for that. However, he never went after Molly again, and instead focussed all of his attention on Sherlock until the day he died (properly). Many thought that he got bored of her and that she could be forgotten now that he'd played his game with her, and a few believed that he forgot about her entirely. Molly knew better. Moriarty never came for her again because he respected her and her way of standing up to him. She was easy, fragile and unimportant, but respected enough to spare her life. That was all Molly needed to know to get on with her life completely.
A lot of emotional agony was experienced over the next few months, ones that Molly wasn't one to think about. She had tried to help and love her friends, but there was truly nothing to be done. So for a while she went about her life alone, Greg occasionally coming to see her, sometimes Mrs Hudson, but nothing was truly the same again.
Molly Hooper never would heal from her ordeal, but no one was ever asking her to. Damage created layers, and each layer was a new floor of wisdom, strength and determination. Molly was heavily damaged but that didn't make her any less than who she was; she still loved, still cared, she treasured those close to her. She would never love a man the same way she wished she could, though, but that didn't mean she was to never move on. It just meant that when the right man did come along, and she knew he was he one, she would feel a new kind of love, one so strong and precious it would change her world entirely. That was just the way it worked; the more damaged you were, the stronger those precious emotions became.
One thing was for certain though. No matter how dire things got, no matter how hopeless life became, Molly Hooper would never be alone. Months grew darker and darker for her friends, and it sometimes closed in on her, but they always held on to one another, refusing to succumb to anything out to destroy them. They would survive, and they would survive together. People could think that Molly meant nothing, that no one ever noticed her because she wasn't important. But that was the beauty of it; for someone so important, she was incredibly camouflaged. Even when it came to light that she was indeed still alive to the public, people forgot about her. She became invisible, and that was just fine. Molly was a weapon, a woman not to be underestimated. But it didn't matter that no one noticed her because her makeshift family did, and always would.
After all, she was the one who mattered the most when it counted.
I leave the "emotional agony" theories to you guys :) I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! Until next time, I give you my love!