A/N: Hey everyone, it's epilogue time. Just to flag, there have been some hella inconveniences with the line breaks not working properly on this fic. Sorry about that. Hope things have been clear regardless. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story, and the whole series, and extra special thanks to livealoner for being my beta and staying up until 5am on Boxing Day to talk about Sherlolly and eat chocolate. Great stuff. Also thanks to those who were so helpful when my random questions went out on tumblr. Basically, everybody is great. Peace out.
Dust in the Air
She and Stacey drink tea these days. It's a temporary situation, as Stacey is often keen to remark. There are many promises made to go out on the lash as soon as Molly is released from the maternity ward.
If she's honest, Molly's looking forward to it. The accidental nature of her current condition means that there was no forward planning, no last hurrah before she settled herself down for a very sensible pregnancy. There had just been a single moment, when she had been offered a glass of wine, and had had to turn it down, with a quiet thought of Oh, well that's that for now then.
She doesn't miss all that really (she might miss being tipsy and silly with Stacey, but there are other ways to have fun). She's got plenty going on, lots to keep her occupied, and Sherlock is doing his very best to be every inch the perfect father to be.
He makes the tea in the mornings, and he doesn't make a sound when he comes in late or goes out early. She really can't complain.
Stacey is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to increase their takeaway horizons. Another of her reminders is that Molly is eating for two these days, and so she brings extra portions from whichever outlet she stops by on her way over.
One time, Stacey had seen Sherlock while she'd been sitting in the Fortune House, on the opposite pavement, heading homewards. She'd added a couple more bits to the order, a gesture which had been rewarded with a brief look of pleasant surprise and a "Thanks, Stace," before they had reverted back to their usual teasing.
Molly has two solid lifelines, upon whom she can rely without a single doubt that they will both come good, should the occasion ever call for it.
She is happy.
It's a little while before John finds out, but he is the first, apart from Sherlock and Stacey.
Sherlock comes home one evening, having been summoned by Mycroft earlier in the afternoon. He says hello to Rosie, who is engrossed in brightly coloured cartoons, and then diverts his attention to Molly. He crouches down, resting on his haunches, and he brushes her fringe from her face.
Sometimes she thinks he only likes her fringe because it gives him an excuse to touch her.
His other hand finds her belly and rests against it, despite there not being much evidence of anything going on yet. He likes to feel, though. Measure progress with the palm of his hand.
She likes it too.
There is a thud as something hits the floor, and they both turn to look towards the doorway, Sherlock snatching his hand back.
John is standing there, and Rosie's bottle is on the floor.
"Oh," he says.
Molly presses her lips together. She doesn't know what to say, doesn't want to blurt anything out. They haven't discussed the eventuality of telling people, and Stacey only knows because she's Molly's natural confidant.
She knew well before Sherlock did.
John opens and closes his mouth a few times. He inhales, ready to say something, but then his eyebrows quirk and he refrains, choosing a few more moments of processing instead.
"Are you..." he trails off, ducks to pick up Rosie's bottle, then has another go at the question. "Are you pregnant?"
Molly looks towards Sherlock, who is sporting a blank expression. She worries for a moment that his brain might have crashed, that he might need rebooting in safe mode, as he sometimes does.
"She's a bit pregnant," Sherlock admits.
"A bit pregnant?" John repeats, and a broad grin spreads across his face. "Is that what happens when you have a bit of sex?"
Sherlock doesn't have an answer for that, and so John tosses him Rosie's bottle.
"Best get practicing, eh?"
He's anxious. He keeps shifting in his seat, looking in the rearview mirror as though they might be being followed.
John and Rosie are in the back, both of them fast asleep, the hum of the engine a distant comfort.
The countryside whizzes by, and she toys with the idea of getting a car. It's all well and good hiring one once in a blue moon, but cabs and public transport are soon to become a lot more difficult.
Plus it's nice, being driven around by him.
"You okay?" she asks.
Both hands are on the steering wheel, and he readjusts his grip far too frequently for her to be in danger of believing any less than truthful answers.
"I don't know what they're going to say," he says, staring at the road ahead, jaw set.
"Well they'll be happy, won't they?" Molly says. "Of course they will."
"Oh I know they'll be happy," Sherlock says, glancing across to her for half a second before his eyes move back to the road. "But I don't think they'll have ever expected it of me. It makes it all a bit harder to say."
She knows what he means. Even if they'd been together for a little while, a year or so, even though it's him, it would be so much easier to say. But as it is, this is coming completely out of the blue, just as it did for them.
The Holmeses will be lovely grandparents though, of that she is certain.
"It'll be okay," she promises. "They'll be over the moon, they won't press you too much."
"Yeah but I don't like the idea of them knowing," he says.
Molly laughs. "And the alternative is to wait five years and turn up with a walking, talking child, and say, 'Hey Mum and Dad, look what I made!'?"
"No, it's the making that bothers me," he tells her, a scowl settling on his face. "I don't want them knowing that..." His words fade, but a light bulb clicks on in Molly's head. She knows what he's getting at, and maybe it is weird for him. He's never brought anyone home before, has never had any sort of romantic relationship that they know of. He's gone from zero to sixty in the space of a heartbeat.
"They won't think about that," she tells him. "They don't want to think about that any more than you want them to think about that. It'll be fine. Trust me."
He taps his fingers against the steering wheel, his lower lip tugging as his teeth graze against it.
"So you're part of the majority," she says with a shrug. "Most people your age have, you know. It doesn't make you odd."
"Yeah but I'm not..." he pauses, readjusts his grip on the steering wheel again, and lets out a sigh. "I'm not normal, am I?"
"Of course you're normal," Molly says, a little quicker than she'd anticipated. "You're not ordinary, but you are normal."
"Distinction?" he asks, curiosity overwhelming his anxiety for a brief moment.
"Well," Molly says. It's an abstract thought at the back of her head, but it's one she knows to be true. It takes her a moment to verbalise it, to turn the feeling into a coherent sentence, one that makes sense to him, and will cease his worries over everyday, human things. "The opposite of normal is abnormal, and there's nothing wrong with you. The opposite of ordinary is extraordinary, and you're definitely that."
He looks across at her again, a faint smile curving his lips. He looks back to the road, and takes his right hand off of the steering wheel, resting his elbow against the ledge of the door, his fingers gently playing with his hair.
He doesn't say anything else, but his nerves hang around, and only intensify once they're all sitting around the table having Sunday lunch. John keeps looking across, wondering when Sherlock will spill the beans, but it's not until the mains are being cleared away that Sherlock clears his throat.
"I need to tell you all something," he says,
"Are you on drugs again?" Mrs Holmes asks, a rather brutal looking serving spoon brandished in her hand.
"No," he says, offence flashing across his face before it disappears. Mrs Holmes gives him a look, one that suggests that it's always a reasonable conclusion to arrive at, and then her eyes land on Molly, narrowing thoughtfully.
"I erm," he says, and he swallows hard, glancing up at everyone, the attention focused on him entirely. John, who has Rosie on his lap, quirks a smile in Molly's direction, before giving Sherlock an encouraging nod.
"Spit it out, Sherlock," Mycroft drawls, raising his wine glass to his lips. "We haven't got all day."
Sherlock ignores him, and Molly can see him retreat further into his head, trying to put together the jigsaw pieces of what he wants to say, and how he ought to say it.
"I..." His hands are gripping the edge of the table tightly, knuckles popping under the skin. "I...that is to say we..."
It's starting to get painful, and Molly's skin is prickling, her stomach twisting into knots.
She needs to take action.
"I'm pregnant," she says, heat rising in her cheeks.
Mycroft chokes on his wine, bubbles spluttering in the glass.
"You're going to be grandparents," she says to Mr and Mrs Holmes. "Congratulations."
Sherlock's shoulders sag in relief, his hands slipping from the table as he releases a long slow breath.
Mycroft thumps his chest, still coughing, and then, once he's made some sort of recovery, clears his throat loudly.
"Well colour me shocked and surprised!" Mrs Holmes says, and she beams at Molly.
Of course she knew. She probably took one look at Molly and realised. One look at Sherlock might have done it too. What could he ever possibly get nervous about at Sunday lunch?
"We're going to be grandparents?" Mr Holmes asks quietly, a smile forming on his face.
"Yes," Sherlock says tersely. He's not quite got the hang of celebrating yet.
"And you're going to be an uncle," Molly says to Mycroft, pressing her lips together in an attempt to hide her delight at his baffled expression.
"How did this even..." Mycroft waves his hand vaguely towards the two of them. "Happen?"
And there it is. Oh how they can both rely on Mycroft to ask the questions to which no one wants the answer.
The revelation must be in serious breach of his assumptions about the world.
"There are two doctors in this room, I'm sure one of them can explain it to you." Sherlock stands abruptly, his chair legs scraping against the tiled kitchen floor. "I'm going for a cigarette." He takes two steps towards the back door, and before Mrs Holmes can admonish him (although her chest swells with the breath ready to do so) he turns in a tight circle. "No I'm not," he says, and he plonks himself back down in his seat. "I don't smoke."
Mycroft raises an eyebrow, and Mr and Mrs Holmes share a look, one that might be of jubilation.
"Has impending fatherhood left you a teetotal man?" Mycroft asks. His smug look, Molly assumes, is most likely intentional, a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that Sherlock has done something normal. He is the golden child today.
"Yes, what a terrible decision, giving up my filthiest habits in an attempt at being a decent father. How cruel the world is." Every word is dripping with sarcasm, but it only amuses Mycroft.
Giving up cigarettes as well - his choice - has hit him hard. But he's determined. It's rather sweet.
Molly meets John's eyes, and he gives her a minute nod.
"Well why don't we go for a wander round the garden?" John suggests to Sherlock. "I'm sure Rosie would enjoy it. She'd love to explore your old haunts."
"Yeah," Sherlock grumbles, glancing at Rosie, who is sitting contentedly, playing with a cloth book. "Look at her. She's a real Ranulph Fiennes."
John fixes him with a hard look, and Sherlock gets up once more, heading for the back door.
"Yes, why don't you show your darling goddaughter the Oxo tin in the shed where you used to hide your cocaine?"
Mrs Holmes raps Mycroft on the arm with the serving spoon in her hand, and it serves an unintended dual purpose; shutting Mycroft up, and lifting Sherlock out of his sour mood. He heads out into the garden with John and Rosie, and Molly takes a sip of her cordial.
"We're absolutely delighted, sweetheart," Mrs Holmes says, and she begins stacking the dishwasher ahead of dishing out dessert.
"Delighted," Mr Holmes echoes with a nod.
"Yes, we're all thoroughly delighted," Mycroft adds, mimicking his parents and plastering a sickly smile on his face.
"Our money was always on Sherlock," Mrs Holmes say conspiratorially. "Mikey doesn't have the..." she waves one hand in the air, gravy boat clutched in the other while she hunts for the right word.
Mycroft watches her, eyebrow raised, awaiting her assessment.
"Demeanour," Mrs Holmes says at last. "You don't have the right demeanour, do you darling?" She passes him a damp cloth and gestures towards the table. Mycroft grudgingly follows orders, and wipes down the table cloth, taking care of the drips of gravy, rogue bobbles of broccoli, and a few loose strips of cabbage.
He takes her aside later, after dessert, when the others are sitting comfortably in the lounge, and she's on the way back from the loo.
She wonders if he's hung around, to ambush her, out of earshot of the others, but before she can consider the possibility too much, he clears his throat, and says very quietly, "I don't expect I'll be the most popular uncle that has ever lived. But," he pauses, and fiddles with the pocket of his waistcoat. "Should you ever need anything, regardless of what it is, if Sherlock is being unreasonable and you need some backup..."
Molly raises an eyebrow, and waits for him to finish.
"You have the full support of this family," he says. "And should you ever...well," he smiles briefly. "You have my direct number."
If she told Sherlock about any of this, she knows he would laugh, but she knows how much this conversation will have drained Mycroft. She knows it's not easy. That much is evident by the fact that he was loitering in the hallway.
"Thanks Mycroft," she says, and she steps forward, raising onto her tiptoes, and then kisses him on the cheek.
She steps away from him immediately, knowing that she has very much pushed him to his limits, and he clears his throat noisily.
"Well," he says, changing course rapidly. "What has Sherlock predicted?" Mycroft gestures towards her stomach, despite the fact that there's not much to show yet.
"A boy," she says. "He's certain."
Mycroft nods, and steps towards the lounge, poking his head through the doorway. He calls Sherlock's name and he looks up.
"One hundred pounds says it's a girl," Mycroft says.
Sherlock considers this for a moment, then gives a decisive nod. "You're on."
It is a bet that he eventually loses.
"D'you mind if I tell her?" he asks one evening.
She doesn't need to ask who 'her' is. She knows. And it's fine.
"Go ahead," she tells him, and she smiles even if she feels a little bit awkward. He has the right to tell whomever he pleases, and she can't set boundaries on that.
Tom knows, after all.
A mutual friend had let it slip, and then Tom had accidentally liked one of her old photos on Facebook while on the hunt for evidence to back up the claim.
He'd managed to congratulate her the next time they'd bumped into one another. It had been awkward, but it had been fine.
Sherlock is holding the scan beneath his phone, his thumb tapping the screen before the sound effect of a camera shutter breaks the silence. He taps out a quick message and sends it, before slipping the phone back into his pocket. He joins her on the sofa, and shoots off a few quick texts.
He's cleaning out the cobwebs, getting rid of some nagging cases.
He scrolls through his inbox while she watches Bake Off, but then a sensuous sigh breaks the silence.
It makes her feel queasy, although that could just be the morning sickness.
"Should probably get rid of that," he mutters, embarrassed, and then after a moment, a soft smile touches his lips.
"What did she say?" Molly asks.
She's not sure if she really wants to know, but Sherlock hands her the phone, so she can read the whole exchange.
There is a picture of the scan, his thumb just visible in the corner, followed by the words:
I'm doing a grown up thing.
The reply is rather nice, and only makes Molly wonder even further what Irene Adler is like in real life.
Congratulations, Mr Holmes. I wish you all the best on your new adventure.
Molly smiles and passes the phone back to him. He taps out one last text, then sinks against Molly, laying his head in her lap, his legs hanging over the end of the sofa.
Any anxiety about that particular situation, however temporary, or deep set, dissolves when his free hand closes around hers.
He resumes his inbox scrolling, tutting when he comes across a particularly pointless or stupid case.
She'll never tire of seeing his face.
It's late when he comes in, and he pops his head round the door of the lounge while his duffle bag is still slung over his shoulder, coat done up tightly to fight the North Sea breeze.
"You all right?" he asks. He asks a lot these days, his eyes lingering on her belly as though it might spontaneously combust at any moment.
"Fine," she says, and she gives him a reassuring smile.
He seems satisfied, and he lifts the strap of his bag, ducking his head under it, then lowers the bag carefully to the floor. He takes off his coat and goes to hang it up, then heads straight for the kitchen. Within moments, the kettle is filled and placed on its stand, switched on, and left to do its work while Sherlock collects their mugs from the cupboards.
Molly smiles, and listens to the sounds of him clattering about, until he comes back into the lounge, a mug of tea in each hand, and a packet of biscuits tucked under his arm.
It's a welcome sight, especially when she's spent the past hour or so wondering whether she could go without tea long enough for him to come home and make it.
He places her tea on the side table, and Molly lifts her legs so he can join her on the sofa.
"How is she?" she asks as he makes himself comfortable.
He wiggles his head from side to side, unsure of what answer to give her. "She's fine," he says at last.
"Yeah," he says. "Still quiet."
He rests one hand on her ankle, and raises his mug to his lips, taking a tentative sip of too hot tea.
"Did you tell her?" Molly asks, and he nods, lowering his mug and placing it on the table at his end.
"I suspect she already knew," he says, staring at the window, his eyebrows drawn into a frown. When Molly doesn't say anything, he turns to her and adds, "Cameras."
She wonders if Eurus saw, or if she fast forwarded, or if she just missed it altogether. Maybe the cameras didn't make it into her flat until after the event. Either way, it's something to which she doesn't really want to know the answer.
"I told her it's a girl," Sherlock continues, his fingers tapping absentmindedly against her shin.
"And?" Molly asks.
"She seemed interested, actually."
Molly smiles. "Well that's good." Then she reconsiders. "Is that good?"
Sherlock nods, and she can tell that his mind is still far away, locked in a bunker on an island in the North Sea.
"I told her about the middle name as well. I think she was happy." He frowns for a moment before he explains. "We played Vivaldi after."
"Four Seasons?" Molly asks, and Sherlock shakes his head.
"Symphony in C Major," he tells her. "It's nice," he adds. "I'll play it for you one evening."
She smiles softly. She could never have imagined that her life would become this. That a confused moment of grief, followed by a premature, urgent declaration might end here.
"We should ask her what she thinks about a first name," Molly says. "If she's that much of a genius, I'm sure she'll come up with something good."
Sherlock exhales softly and leans his head back against the sofa cushions, staring at the ceiling.
"Something Eurus Hooper Holmes," he mutters.
"Why don't we just call her 'Something'?" Molly asks. Sherlock rolls his eyes, but then she is struck by an idea. Seeing as Latin is already a theme in the name, why not extend it? "What's the Latin for 'something'?" Molly asks.
Sherlock turns his head to look at her, a frown twitching at his eyebrows. "Aliquid," he says, his voice slow and suspicious. "Why?"
"We could call her Ali. So she's literally Something Eurus Hooper Holmes."
Sherlock doesn't look impressed. She thinks he might be wondering if pregnancy has addled her brain, but is too wary to say.
"We're not naming our daughter after a Latin translation of a random word."
"It'd be funny though," Molly says with a smile. "And Ali is a real name."
"I don't think naming your child is supposed to be funny," he replies, folding his arms across his chest while he thinks.
"Well your parents certainly had a laugh," Molly says, the words slipping out of her mouth before she can stop them.
He sniggers, but then says, "That's exactly why I want to get this right. I know what it's like."
"Do you?" Molly asks. She's seen his medical records, she wrote out his death certificate for crying out loud. He hasn't got any secrets left from her. "Do you really, William?"
He ignores her.
"It's possible to choose something that's not funny and also not boring," Sherlock says. "I just don't know what it is."
"What's the Latin for daughter?" Molly asks. They might as well see what the options are, and a Latin translation would maybe cover his requirement of not boring.
"Filia," he answers automatically, and she wonders how many hours were spent at school, having a dead language drummed into him.
He's never deleted it. He must find it useful.
She thinks for a moment, and something jogs in her memory, dragging her back to school, and long English lessons on rainy mornings.
"Ophelia," she suggests with a shrug. "That's sort of similar, and it's an actual name, and you like Shakespeare."
"I wouldn't say like," he counters, but she knows he's trying to save face. What for, she doesn't know. Maybe he's still caught up in his thing of not liking stuff.
She can work on that. Drag him to the Globe one evening, maybe, under the pretence that she'd like to go.
"Besides," he says. "Ophelia drowned. Maybe we should steer clear of that."
She'd forgotten that bit.
She bites her lip, wondering if her putting her foot in it has any jarring effect with him, but he still seems to be considering name possibilities.
"What about Cordelia?" she asks, continuing on the Shakespeare route. She racks her brains for every character she can think of from her readings at school, but Sherlock is already pulling a face.
"Dead and boring," he replies, as though both outcomes are as bad as the other.
"Imogen?" she suggests. There are a few Imogens about, but that's no bad thing. There are a few Mollys about too.
Sherlock's sour face becomes more pronounced. "Bit...middle class, don't you think?"
"Too lowly for you?" Molly teases, and he grabs the nearest cushion and bats her on the legs with it.
"Well it's all bit 'Imogen! Come and eat your chia seeds!' isn't it?" He puts on a stupid voice, as though that's what he thinks parents of all Imogens sound like. He wrinkles his nose in distaste and Molly sniggers. She had no idea he was so well versed in middle class stereotypes, but he is, it seems, full of surprises.
"Besides, it's supposed to be Innogen," he adds. "But she'd just spend her whole life saying 'No it's double N'."
It's a fair point, and Molly's not really sold on either name. Maybe they'll know when they see her. Maybe they'll take one look at her and think She's definitely a Charlotte. Maybe they just have to leave it be for a while, and the world will make its mind up for them.
"Katarina," Sherlock says, and Molly frowns. "She was funny. And she survived. I liked her."
Molly looks at him blankly.
"Taming of the Shrew?" he says.
"Oh," she replies, and she considers the suggestion. "Bit long winded, isn't it? Katarina Eurus Hooper Holmes?"
Sherlock tilts his head to one side, conceding her point. "Maybe we need to shorten the surname," he says with a shrug.
"What, like Holmper?" she laughs. "Or Hoomes?" She's not sure why she finds it quite so hilarious, maybe it's just because the words sound so ridiculous on her lips.
"That's not quite what I meant," he says, throwing a feigned withering look towards her.
"Well what did you mean?" she asks, and a smile twitches at her mouth, but Sherlock just shrugs his shoulders, non-committal.
"I don't know," he says, his eyes lingering on her smile before he returns his gaze to the ceiling and lets out a sigh. "Maybe it'll come back to me."
"Maybe," Molly says.
"I don't think she's a Katarina though," he says thoughtfully, changing the subject. She'll allow it. It might come back to him after all.
"So we're back to square one."
He hums in affirmation and takes a sip of his tea. "Square one," he says.
She rolls over and he's not there. It's the middle of the night, and he's left his phone on his pillow, the sheets still rumpled from where he had lain for at least a little while.
She pushes the duvet off of her and gets out of bed, reaching out in the dark for her dressing gown, and wrapping it around her. She opens the door and steps out into the hallway. There's a little bit of light, seeping out from the gap between the study door and its frame, and Molly walks over, pushing it open.
Sherlock is sitting at her desk, which is piled high with the books on his to-read list. His face is lit by the glow of her laptop, and he's scowling at the screen.
"Did I wake you up?" he asks, clicking the the track pad at regular intervals as his eyes scan over the words in front of him.
"No," she says, stepping forward and looking down at the book on the top of his pile.
The Expectant Dad's Survival Guide
She picks it up, but then sees, underneath that:
Commando Dad - How to be an Elite Parent or Carer, from Birth to Three Years
The pile continues in much the same vein, but Molly doesn't say anything.
"What you up to?" she asks, placing the book back down.
"Trying to register as a business," he says. His concentration is fixed on the screen, and Molly gets the feeling that he's been going through this for a good few hours. Maybe it had been a conscious choice to do it at night, when his desire to not wake her up would be more powerful than his desire to shout at the laptop and throw it out of the window.
"Why are you registering as a business?" she asks. She tries to keep the smile off her face, because she thinks she knows the answer. She just wants to hear him say it.
"Because I need to be able to pay both me and John a salary," he says. "And I can't do that as a sole trader. So I have to register as a business."
The smile works its way onto her lips. "All sounds very boring and grown up."
"It is," he sighs, and he takes a break from looking at the screen, head resting against the heel of his palm, fingers curling in his hair. "D'you think we need to apply for change of use for 221B? Or d'you think it doesn't matter because Mrs Hudson owns it and she lives there?"
"I don't know," Molly says, and she raises a hand to her mouth, to stifle an oncoming yawn.
"We'd have to pay business rates if we did..." Sherlock muses, his brow furrowed.
"Why don't we sort it out in the morning?" Molly asks, and she holds her hand out to him. "Let's go back to bed."
He hesitates for a moment, then closes the lid of the laptop, immersing them in darkness. His hand finds hers, and they tread the well worn path back to bed.
As she lies there, tucked up against his side, she bites her lip to keep herself from laughing. Every time she thinks she might have it under control, another wave of amusement rolls over her, until she's shaking silently next to him.
"Are you having a seizure?" he asks, his voice blunt in the darkness.
"Business rates," she giggles, laughing against the soft cotton of his t-shirt. He huffs in the darkness, and Molly takes a deep breath, calming herself down. She leans over and kisses his collar bone, just peeping out from beneath his t-shirt, and she narrows her eyes, determined to detect any hint of movement in his expression.
He is as still as a statue, but then the facade cracks with a blink, and his eyes meet hers, a faint quirk of amusement on his lips.
"I have to do it right," he says. "If I want it to actually work."
"I know," she says, and she kisses his jaw, another reassurance that she very much appreciates his attempt at being a responsible grown up with some sort of control over his own life. "They got Al Capone on tax evasion in the end."
"Mmm," he says. "Although I'm not quite in the same league as he was."
Molly frowns. "You committed murder in plain sight of a dozen witnesses, and it never made it onto your criminal record, because your brother runs the country." She folds her arms across his chest and rests her chin on top of them, watching his face, waiting for an answer.
"You have a point," he concedes, and he extracts his arm from between his pillows so he can reach forward and brush her fringe from her face.
"Still," Molly says. "It's funny, isn't it?"
She can't believe she has to explain it to him, but maybe she's alone in thinking this was the last thing she expected to happen.
"You know," she says. "You, me, her," she glances downwards, indicating her belly. "Business rates, that sort of thing."
He's quiet, but it's not a bad quiet. It's more contemplative, and his hand curls around her wrists, thumb rubbing gently back and forth across the back of her hand.
She wonders what fifteen year old her would think, if she could float back to that first meeting, all those years ago, and whisper in her ear that one day, she would be starting a family with the lanky boy without the tie. She smiles at the thought, remembers the racing hormones, and the teacher - she forgets his name - who matched her up with him, all those years ago.
"Makes you wonder what would have happened if I'd gotten my shit together a bit sooner," he says, and he sounds slightly remorseful, as if he feels like it's somehow his fault that it's only happened after twenty years.
"No," Molly says, turning her hand over so she can lace her fingers with his. "This is perfect, this, right now."
The words still sound new when he says them, and she has to fight hard to keep herself from grinning like an idiot, every time they leave his mouth.
"I love you," he says.
"I know," she says.
"Good," he says, and he brings her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. "That's good."