The Sherrinford tale
AN: so, I think this is what happens when you watch Sherlock and Once Upon A Time in quick succession. It is also what happens when I have a rainy Sunday and nothing to do, so if you like this you can thank the British weather. I have never written a one shot this long before so I hope you like it.
Warning: this story mentions character death but doesn't describe, embellish or otherwise show it, also spoilers, lots and lots of spoilers.
Disclaimer: if you recognise them then they don't belong to me, they are either Arthur Conan Doyle's or the BBC's, I think that pretty much covers it.
Summary: thanks to a huge bag of sweet Molly has a very hyped up child at bed time, she promises Rosie a story in exchange for getting into bed but she may regret that when the child makes her choice. The Sherrinford tale is one of Molly's least favourites for a few reasons. Will her opinion be changed by this one telling? We will just have to wait and see.
Molly Hooper was the queen of baby sitters, she had been watching other children when she was technically still a child herself. It seemed that if you acted like a grown up for long enough other people started to see you as one, Molly was only 12 when her Mum's friend asked her to watch his 2-year-old son. She had been terrified the whole time that she was going to mess up but she didn't and soon Molly was watching all of the younger kids on her street. Sometimes she was even left with three or four of them at once, that was when she learnt the coping mechanism that would help her deal with many a troublesome child, stories.
Not just any stories but Molly stories, it seemed that she wasn't just good at connecting with children, Molly also had a talent for making up and telling stories. She would base them in a world the child recognised and all of the characters would be cleverly disguised versions of people that they knew, there were if she was honest occasions when the disguises weren't all that clever, it depended on just how tired Molly was at the time.
As the years passed things changed a lot for Molly, she lost her Dad, her and her mother seemed to drift apart, she studied to be a doctor, she got a job, she moved out of her Mum's home and into her own, she got a cat, she fell in love and she made friends.
Real friends that wouldn't tease her for working with dead people or only wanted her to watch their kids for them. She met people who liked her for who she was and cared about what happened to her, for the first time in a long time Molly felt like she belonged and she didn't want anything ever to change again but sadly nothing can last forever and change both bad and good must eventually happen.
Good came in the form of her beautiful little darling of a goddaughter Rosamunde or Rosie for short, Bad came in the tragic loss of Rosie's amazing mother Mary, it felt to Molly almost as if her Dad had died all over again, the world had stopped turning once more and this time she wasn't the only one suffering. Mary was loved by many and she had touched the lives of many more, so many grieved for her in so many different ways.
Molly found herself back in the role of baby sitter extraordinaire but this time she didn't mind, there was nothing she wouldn't do for her friends and she loved Rosie more than any other child that she had taken care of.
For a short time Rosie was the only light in Molly's life, her friends were so devastated by Mary's death that they were either turning on each other or to self-destruction to cope. Molly thought that nothing could make the situation worse but sadly she was mistaken, she hadn't counted on the emotional iceberg of a man she had fallen in love with having a sister who was out to destroy him and all these he held dear.
She was cleverer than the two Holmes boys put together and more insane than any villain that Sherlock and John had ever faced before. The chances of Molly's heroes surviving this adventure let alone winning were slim indeed but thankfully the men had been armed with the one weapon that Eurus couldn't hope to defeat, emotion. The one thing she had no comprehension of so couldn't possibly stand against
Slowly life returned to some kind of normal John and Sherlock solved crimes bickering and teasing each other like brothers the whole time, Molly helped when she could and watched Rosie when she couldn't. Inspector Lestrade offered help as often as he asked for it and Greg had become one of Rosie's favourite people over the years. Mycroft appeared in baker street as little as he could, Molly suspected that he had developed a deep-rooted fear of Mrs Hudson but he wasn't going to let it stop him from checking in on his little brother. As for the land lady that put the most powerful man in Briton on edge she mothered the lot of them whilst complaining almost constantly that she wasn't their house keeper.
Life wasn't perfect but it was good and Molly didn't think she could wish for more until one night she was forced to face the fact that in some way she always had been.
It was four years after what those who frequented Baker street had come to call the Sherrinford incident, Sherlock and John were out on a case and Molly was watching Rosie for the night. Usually putting Rosie down to bed wasn't that difficult even Sherlock could do it but Greg had visited earlier and bought the biggest bag of sweets Molly had ever seen with him (she was wondering if things like that were why Rosie loved the man so much). Now he had gone home and Molly was left to deal with the resulting sugar high.
Rosie should have been in bed half an hour ago, but right now she was more interested on jumping on it than getting into it and Molly knew she had no choice, it was time to pull out her big gun.
"OK Rosie if you get into bed in the next five seconds I will tell you one story before you go to sleep" she told the girl.
The 4-year-old blew a raspberry at that offer and just jumped higher on her bed. "I don't want a story" she sang pointing at her book case "I've heard them hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times" she told her honouree aunt.
"I don't mean a story book Rosie, I mean one of my stories" the pathologist explained. Rose stopped jumping so abruptly that she nearly stumbled off of the bed. Molly tried very hard to hide her smile as the tiny girl scrambled desperate to get into her bed before her Five second dead line was up.
"Now" said Molly as she snuggled up next to her darling charge "which story shall we have tonight?" she asked. "What about Lady Mary the knight" she suggested knowing that the stories she had made up about the girl's mother were some of Rosie's favourites. Rosie shook her head and looked like she was thinking hard, Molly wondered if she was trying to recall the longest story she had ever heard in order to put off going to bed longer.
"I want the one about the wicked princess and the cursed prince" the little girl announced confirming Molly's theory.
Molly sighed, she wasn't a fan of that story if she was honest. The Sherrinford Tale was what she had called it, it had come into existence just over a year ago, Rosie had crept out of bed and overheard the grown-ups talking about Sherrinford. Obviously what she had heard had scared her so John had asked Molly to come up with a story to help his little girl cope. Molly kept her tale as close to the truth as she could knowing that one day they were probably going to have to tell the child the whole real truth and she didn't want Rosie to accuse her lying to her for years on end.
It's closeness to the truth was why Molly told the Sherrinford tale as little as she could and normally when Rosie asked for it she would distract the child with another far more fantastical story but she got the feeling that she wouldn't get away with that tonight so taking a deep breath, she gave up without a fight and began.
Once upon a time in a magical land known as Sherrinford there was a King and Queen, they were good, kind and wise. There people loved them and they were very happy for the most part but there was one thing missing from their lives, children.
The King and Queen wished and wished and wished for children and one day a fairy came to them to grant their wish. She would not only give them children but children with great gifts. Their first son would be the one of the wises men in the land, their second son would also be very clever but his true gift would be his pure heart, he would have the greatest capacity for love that anyone had ever seen and he would stop at nothing to protect those he loved. Then the King and Queen would have a daughter she would be so clever that she wouldn't need to learn anything not even magic, everything would just come so easily to her that even her brothers would seem dim in comparison.
The King and Queen were very happy but the fairy warned them that each child's gift would come at a price. Because of his cleverness their oldest Son would come to value logic over all else, he would see love and other emotions as tools to be used at best and weaknesses to be exploited at worst. Because of his big heart their middle child would be easily hurt and if he were ever to experience true heart break he would seal his heart up forever to protect himself. Their Daughter would suffer the worst fate of all her knowledge and power would slowly drive her mad and the more she learned the madder she would become, not only that but she would come to hate her older Brothers because they would both be able to feel and understand the one thing she never could, love.
The King and Queen were horrified to hear what could become of their children but they vowed they would do all they could to protect them from their fates.
The children were born and for a while all seem well in the Kingdom but slowly that began to change. The King and Queen noticed their children's gifts right away of course but slowly they could see the curses creeping in too. The cleverer their first born became the more distant he seemed. Their sweet loving middle child would cry for hours over someone else's pain and by the time she was 3 their Daughter could bend almost anyone to her will with either her clever words or her mind magic.
Despite what they saw the King and Queen still believed that they could save their children but one day they were forced to see that they were wrong. Their Daughter had become jealous when the younger of her two Brothers had made a friend, not just any friend but a best friend. Up until then he had been her only play fellow and when he found someone else he would rather play with she came to hate them both, in a fit of rage she made the Princes friend magically vanish and tore down the whole place.
With heavy hearts the King and Queen sent the Princess away to live with some fairies who could help her but for the youngest Prince the damage had already been done, his Sister had broken his heart and his curse had come upon him, he could not love anymore. In an effort to help the fairies remove all memories of his Sister and his best friend but it was no use. The King and Queen begged the fairy that had helped them in the first place to lift the curse but she told them there was only one way that the Princes heart could be opened up again.
"He must earn the love of others while both he and they believe he cannot love them in return but not just one kind of love he must find three different kinds. The love of a friend, a love like that of family and a deep romantic love, only then will the Prince be as he was" she decreed.
The King and Queen despaired at this news, they had no doubt that their clever little Prince could find people that would love him but how could he if they could not tell him to look for them. They could only hope that their baby boy would encounter people in his life that were brave enough and selfless enough to love a cursed Prince.
The years passed and the Princes grew to be men, the Princess escaped from the fairies and vanished, the King and Queen believed they would never see her again but the oldest Prince knew he would because he had found her and locked her up under the guard of goblins who were meant to be immune to her magic. He was determined to protect his Parents, his Brother and the Kingdom from her madness.
There came a day when the King and Queen abdicated the throne and the oldest Prince became King. This should have meant that younger Prince had more royal responsibilities but he didn't want them, he wanted to solve mysteries and have adventures he told himself that everything he did was to prove how clever he was or to stop himself from being board but those that knew him well knew he really did it to help his people.
It was on one of his many adventure that he met those that would one day help him brake his curse.
The first he met was the man who would become his friend, he was a Keeper Of The Peace and could see just how clever the Prince really was, when most were blinded by the Prince's arrogances the Peace Keeper could see the possibility of goodness that he hid so well.
The next he encountered was a female Healer who would one day fall hopelessly in love with him. She like the Keeper Of The Peace saw the man that the Prince tried to keep hidden beneath his cool veneer of indifference. She fell in love with that man the moment she saw him and she would do anything she could to help the Prince see him too.
The last but most important person he met was the man that would become his Brother by choice not blood. He was a Knight and a truly good man that intentionally or not taught the Prince what kind of man he wanted to be himself. The two men had many adventures together and saved each other's lives more times than they could count.
The Prince was very happy with the team he had built around himself, finally he was surrounded by people that not only excepted that he was cursed and could never feel anything for them but they seemed to like him anyway. What he didn't realise even with all of his cleverness was that these people were already weakening the curses hold on him and he was beginning to feel for them too.
He wouldn't come to see that until his sister came back into his life. She had learnt how to use her magic on the goblins, it had taken her a long time but she really was very clever and she worked it out eventually. Once she was out she wanted to make her Brothers pay for what had happened to her, the oldest for locking her up and the youngest for choosing not to play with her all those years ago.
She came up with a truly horrible plan, she was going to make up a game for her Brothers to play and if they lost the people that were slowly saving the Prince would be made to vanish just like his best friend had been.
She trapped the Prince, the Knight and the King in the goblin castle where she had been held and made them solve puzzles. For each one they got right someone was saved, the three men were very clever so they moved quickly through the challenges they thought that all would soon be well but then came the hardest test of all for the Prince.
He had to make the Healer who knew he was cursed and could not love believe that he loved her, if he could do that they would win the game and the Princess would set them free, if he couldn't then she would lock them all up in a tower and take over the Kingdom.
The Prince didn't want to hurt the Healer and he knew that making her believe he loved her when he really didn't would hurt her but he had to save the kingdom, he had no chose but to do it. Talking to the Healer through a magic portal he told her again and again that he loved her but she would not believe him, she couldn't you see because she knew what it felt like to really love someone and she knew what it sounded like when someone who really loved you told you how they felt and the Prince's words didn't sound or feel right.
The Prince was beginning to despair not only was the Kingdom in danger but the one woman who always understood him couldn't seem to grasp how important her believing in him was and that really hurt. Suddenly a thought struck him, why did it hurt him, he shouldn't care because he couldn't love, could he?
He thought of the Healer and the Peace Keeper and what would happen to them if his Sister ruled the Kingdom and he felt sick with worry, he thought about all of the things that the Knight wanted to do with his life that he wouldn't be able to if he was locked in a tower and he felt so incredibly sorry that he had gotten the man involved with his Sister's awful game.
Suddenly the Prince realized that he really, truly did love the Healer, maybe not the way she loved him but as a friend he did, it was the same with the Keeper Of The Peace he trusted the man so much more than the other dim wits that he worked with and the Knight, he loved the Knight as much if not more than his Brother the King.
It was with this thought that the prince looked deeply into the pool and said the words the Healer had longed to hear him say "I love you" not only did he say them for the first time in a long time he meant them and she believed him.
The tests were completed, heroes won and all was right in the Kingdom once again. The Princess was stripped of her magic and was put back under the care of the fairies but this time she was not so alone. All of the royal family visited her as often as they could because while she may not be able to understand it they loved her even after everything she had done.
The now un-cursed prince and his friends continued to help the people of the kingdom by solving mysteries and having adventures but now the Prince openly admitted that he did it for the good of the people.
And they all lived happily ever after. The end.
Normally Rosie was asleep before Molly manages to finish her story but tonight she was still awake, she stared up at Molly with sleepy eyes and for the first time she questioned the ending of one of Molly's tales.
"What happened to the Healer?" she yawned.
"Well she helped the Prince and the Knight and the Peace Keeper to save lots and lots of people and that made her very happy" Molly answered smoothly.
"But what about her and the Prince did they ever get together?"
"No sweetie they didn't" Molly sighed straitening the girls quilt "you see the Prince didn't love the Healer the way she loved him" she explained "he loved her like a friend the same way I love your Daddy or uncle Greg".
"What about Uncle Sherlock you love him too right?" Rosie checked.
"Yes, I do" Molly answered truthfully "Now the story is over and it's time you went to sleep" she whispered around the lump in her throat. Even after all these years her unrequited love for Sherlock was sometimes painful to talk about that was another reason she was not a fan of the Sherrinford tale.
"But how can the Healer get a happily ever after if the Prince doesn't love her?" Rosie persisted.
Molly wanted to cry that she didn't know, she was still trying to work it out for herself but instead she swallowed down her distress and tried to give the curious child an answered that would satisfy her enough to sleep.
"Her happily ever after was that she helped to brake the curse and free the man she loved, she got to stay by his side and help him and see him be happy, that was enough for her" she explained.
"How could it be enough to keep her happy forever" Rosie was starting to sound more awake instead of sleepier, the next time Molly saw Greg with a bag of sweets she was going to hit over the head with them. She was still fishing for an answer to the girl's question when she was saved by a voice from the door way.
"Because Rosie when you really truly love someone all you want is for them to be happy even if it's not with you, as long as there happy your happy" John Watson explained.
"Daddy" Rosie squealed jumping from her bed and into his arms with so much exuberance she nearly knocked him over.
"Let me guess" John gasped from his daughter tight grip "Greg bought sweets again".
Molly just nodded while trying not to giggle, John's entrance and Rosie's excitement were a welcome distraction from the sad thoughts she had been swimming in just a moment ago.
"I am going to kill him" the forma army doctor muttered, he had clearly intended his daughter not to hear him but the stern almost Mary like look she shot him clearly said she did.
"Daddy that's not nice" she said wagging her finger at him.
"OK" John sighed "no killing but he is getting a good talking to" he warned his little girl making her giggle.
"Thinks for tonight Molly, I've got it from here if you want to get off home" he said putting Rosie back into bed.
"OK" she readily agreed as much as she loved Rosie the night had been a long and slightly emotional one, she would be glad to get home to her own bed.
"Oh by the way Molly" John called out just as she reached the door "I liked the story".
Molly suddenly felt very self-conscious she hoped she wasn't blushing "Oh, where did you come in?" she questioned.
"Once upon a time" John smiled at her knowing, not only had he heard the whole story but he had also listed while she had tried and failed to answer his daughter's questions.
An even more embarrassing thought suddenly occurred to her, if John had heard her the chances of Sherlock not hearing her were slim to none. She had never wanted to run out of 221b Baker street more than she did at that moment and that included the night of the disastrous Christmas party but she held her self back, she moved slowly and concisely as if nothing was wrong.
When she reached the sitting room she was surprised to find it both empty and in semi darkness but she wasn't going to question her luck getting out without having to face Sherlock seemed like a win to her tonight.
She was almost to the door when a voice rang out from somewhere in the shadows "You know Molly, that really was a rather good story" Sherlock called out to her.
Molly jumped in fight "that's not funny Sherlock" she scolded him but the consulting detective continued on as if she had spoken at all.
"You were a little fuzzy on the true facts but otherwise it was good" he almost whispered as he came to her side.
"Well I couldn't exactly tell Rosie just how many people the Princess killed for her game could I" Molly shot back feeling a need to defend her story, even if it was just a fairy tale and even if she wasn't a fan of it herself it still meant something to her and more importantly it meant something to Rosie.
"Not the facts I was referring to but yes thank you for making my Sister a little less murderous that she was in real life" Sherlock told her shortly.
"Then what were you referring to?" Molly sighed, she really wished he would just let her go so that she could get out of there and get her feelings back under control.
"Your wrong you know" he whispered fiercely and Molly felt like he had just thrown them both back in time, to a time and place long before Eurus and her games to the one and only time he had willing bared his soul to her.
"What am I wrong about this time?" she whispered almost timidly.
"What the Prince realised when he said those words, he didn't suddenly realise she was his friend, he realised something else something he should have seen long ago but he had always been a bit slow" Sherlock was still whispering but now Molly could hear anger bubbling underneath his tone. Molly hoped to goodness that it wasn't directed at her.
"what did he realise?" she couldn't keep herself from asking.
"That he meant them, he meant them exactly the way she wanted him to" Sherlock answered with complete sincerity.
"What?" Molly gasped "he did?".
"I love you Molly Hooper" Sherlock whispered dropping all pretences. "I have spent the last four years telling myself that you were safer and happier not knowing but listening to you tonight trying to convince Rosie that friendship was enough for you when you couldn't even convince yourself I knew I was wrong" he admitted.
Molly didn't know what to think let alone say so she didn't do either she just acted, she threw her arms around Sherlocks neck and pulled herself up to kiss him. She was pleasantly surprized when he met her half way.
Their lips had barely touched when the room was suddenly flooded with light. "Christ, Sherlock" came John's voice "I was only joking about jumping her in a dark room".
Molly looked up to see Sherlock looking as dazed as she felt and she couldn't help but laugh "Actually John, Sherlock was just talking I was the one that did the jumping".
John's jaw actually dropped at that and he suddenly looked like he felt very awkward. "Right, well then I will leave you to it" he said with a little grin before surprising both Molly and Sherlock by flipping the light off again and going back upstairs.
Molly continued to giggle right up until Sherlock pulled her back into his arms and the laughter died in her throat. "Is this what you really want Molly, a life with me is that your happily ever after" he murmured into her ear.
"Happily ever afters only exist in fairy tales Sherlock" she reminded him softly "but I think adventures are real and a life with you is the adventure I want, what do you say my Prince are you up for an adventure?" she asked him, she had to admit she was slightly scared that when he realised a relationship between them might involve some real work he would turn and run but she needn't have worried.
"Only with you Molly Hooper, only with you" he looked her right in the eye as he swore his vow and Molly knew just how much a vow meant to Sherlock Holmes.
Molly didn't think she had anything beautiful enough to say in return so she stuck to a simple truth "I love you Sherlock" she said rising up on her toes to kiss him again but he pulled back before their lips could meet.
Molly looked up at Sherlock in confusion and concern but the sweet smile he wore told her she had nothing to fear. "What?" she asked wonderingly.
"I love you too Molly" he said in return to her earlier statement "and you and will in deed live happily ever after" he told her firmly.
"Oh, we will, will we, how can you be so sure?" she shot back playfully.
"Rosie would never forgive us if we didn't" Sherlock said with utmost solemnity making Molly laugh again "and" he added "I could not bear to lose the woman that helped heal my heart". Molly had never heard such heart felt words from any one before and had no idea what to say to them but thankfully Sherlock chose that moment to swoop down and clime the kiss she offered him just moments ago.
The last hazy thought that filled the mind of Molly Hooper as she was pulled closer by the man that she loved was that if Happily ever afters did exist she had finally found hers and she didn't care if she had to fight insane criminal master minds or fairy tale dragons to keep it, she wasn't letting go.
Thanks for reading, I would love to know what you think