How I Met Your Mother

Molly Hooper absently hummed to herself as she entered her small but cozy flat on a rainy Saturday afternoon in June. It was her half-day today, and she always used her free afternoons to do the shopping. She was carrying bags of groceries whilst listening to Adele on her iPod. Her tabby cat, Toby, purred around her leg in his customary greeting before allowing her to go into her kitchen.

After putting the groceries away, Molly danced her way back to her front door, picking up her mail from the box just outside it. Absently, she scrolled through the usual assortment of bills until she came across an envelope different from the others. It was not a bill; if anything, it looked like some kind of formal invitation. The paper was thick and expensive-looking, and the writing was written in elegant cursive writing. The return address had no name but the address of somewhere in Surrey.

Curious, Molly dropped the bills on her counter and settled on the couch before carefully opening the envelope. Inside was a piece of just as expensive-looking stationary that matched the envelope. She unfolded it and read the letter, written in the same, elegant cursive:

Dear Dr. Hooper,

It is unfortunate that we have never had the opportunity to meet before, considering the role you have played and the significance you have in the life of my younger son. I would very much like to meet you in person, having heard quite a lot about you. I hope this Sunday at 3:00 would be convenient for you. Please pass along your answer to my elder son, and he will then inform me and make your travel arrangements. I very much look forward to meeting you.


Adelicia Holmes

This was not what she had expected to find in her mail today, or ever really. There was very little that she knew about Sherlock's mother. Everything she knew had only been mentioned briefly. This had been during the few weeks that Sherlock had hidden in Molly's flat after The Fall.

The two had become closer during that time, and their friendship had truly developed. Molly had lost her stutter and stumbling around him, and Sherlock had actually behaved with her, since she had been the only person (Mycroft did not count) who knew that he was not dead. But even then, he would only mention his childhood or mother in passing, and Molly knew better than to push him in this vulnerable time.

Reading the note over again, Molly saw that Mrs. Holmes wanted to see her tomorrow. Because she did not work on Sundays, it would not be a problem for her. Automatically, she pulled out her phone and sent an affirmative answer to Mycroft before it was too late. He replied with a confirmation in less than a minute, telling her that her train ticket would be delivered to her in the morning.

Molly spent the rest of the day, and most of the night, contemplating what she had just agreed to. Half of her was bursting with curiosity, while the bigger half was a bundle of nerves.

There was only so much she knew about the mother of the two brightest minds of Europe. Before the Fall, the woman had never been mentioned in her presence. But after the Fall, in the two weeks that Sherlock stayed in her flat with her, she would hear brief mentions of her in Sherlock's more vulnerable moments. For example, after Sherlock would have a nightmare, Molly would soothe him by running her fingers through his curls, because he had said, "It's what Mummy would do in these situations when I was a child."

All of the little bits of information she had learned about Mummy Holmes hinted that she was quite a compassionate woman. But then Molly would think of her boys and the cold nature they worked so hard to perfect, and she was presented with a paradox. Who was this woman? All she knew with certainty was that the woman was alive and lived in Surrey.

Reading the invitation over and over again only raised her confusion levels. The tone of the note could not be more polite or gracious, but certain things that were written completely baffled her. "…having heard quite a lot about you…" Sherlock had talked about her with his mother? "…considering the role you have played and the significance you have in the life of my younger son." What significance? She was just his pathologist, always eager and ready to help him in the lab, fetch him things, smuggle out body parts, even fake his death…

"Oh!" said Molly, sitting up in realization. "She wants to thank me for the role I played in the Fall!" It was the only explanation that made sense, since Sherlock had "risen from the dead" just three months ago. This set Molly's mind at ease enough to sleep, her curiosity winning out in the end.

Deciding what to wear turned out to be the most difficult task for Molly the next morning. Her head was full of all of the disapproving glances and insulting comments Sherlock had made about her wardrobe over the years she had known him, so she finally settled on the best piece of clothing that she owned.

Molly did not have many dresses (especially since she had thrown that slinky black dress out right after that embarrassing Christmas party), but the ones she did have she was very proud of for, unlike her work attire, they were very flattering on her. She settled on a white summer dress with a dark blue sash, along with a light crocheted cardigan of a slightly lighter blue shade and a pair of silver ballet flats. She wore a little make-up, but only enough to enhance her assets. Her hair she side-parted and left down. For jewelry, she wore a simple silver necklace and matching post-earrings.

The Christmas party had taught her harshly that trying to hard to dress to impress only led to humiliation, and to always keep it simple when in doubt, so she did.

The train ride passed without incident; what surprised her was what she found waiting for her at the other end. She came out of the station expecting to hail a taxi, but instead had been greeted by a man who came from a car very similar to the ones Mycroft traveled around in.

"Molly Hooper?" he asked pleasantly.

"Y-yes?" she said, caught off guard.

"I'm Henry, Mrs. Holmes's chauffer," he said, shaking her head. "She sent me to fetch you."

"Oh," was all Molly could say in surprise. Not feeling any bad intuition, she got in the car and settled into the comfortable back seat. There was no conversation on the way over, which Molly was grateful for. Her nerves were coming back, especially as they began to pass wealthy mansions and estates. And when the car passed through a pair of open iron gates that led to a particularly grand one, Molly couldn't hold back her gasp.

Molly had always suspected that Sherlock had come from a place of privilege. The way he dressed could be considered anything but cheap, and the way he carried himself had the air of a man who had attended all of the posh schools growing up. But something as grand as this! The Holmes home was too small to be a castle but too grand to be a mansion. Was villa the right word? Molly could think of nothing else. The grounds kept around it were immaculate. Having been born into a middle-class background, the idea of growing up in a place like this would have been the stuff of dreams.

She wasn't brought out of her stupor until the chauffer had opened her door for her. "Miss Hooper?"

Molly forced her mouth shut and quickly got out of the car, still not able to take her eyes off of the villa. She heard Henry say, "Just go right up and ring the bell. You are expected."

The young woman nodded, and made her way up the graveled driveway to the steps that led to the grand front doors. She absently heard the car being driven away as she walked up the steps. With a hand that trembled slightly, Molly reached out and pulled the rope to the door bell. Within a minute, one of the front doors was opened by a man with white hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a kind expression.

"Dr. Hooper, I presume," he said, stepping aside so Molly could come inside. "Please come in."

"Thank you," said Molly in a small voice. If the exterior of the house had been grand, the interior was even grander. Her eyes drank in every detail, from the priceless antique art from all parts of the world, to the marble floors, the chandelier, to the grand staircase – down which came a truly striking woman.

"Ah, Dr. Hooper! I'm so glad you could come." This could only be Sherlock's mother. Though the woman was in her sixties, she was still a great beauty. Molly could see Sherlock everywhere on her: her tall height, her slender build, the silver ringlets that had once been raven black, pale skin, high cheekbones, and light eyes that couldn't decide if they were blue, green or silver. When she came to Molly, the older woman took her hands and kissed both of her cheeks. "Welcome."

"Hello, ma'am," said Molly, drinking in the sight of this woman who had born the man she loved. "Thank you very much for having me."

"It is my pleasure," said Mrs. Holmes. "Now, it's a bit early for tea, so let's walk for a while. It's a lovely day outside." She turned to the butler, who stood a respectable distance from them. "We'll have tea in the drawing room in one hour, Albert."

"Very good, mum," nodded Albert, before walking away. Mrs. Holmes linked arms with Molly and led them across the hall towards a set of glass doors that led onto a grand stone veranda that overlooked the gardens.

"It's so beautiful here!" Molly exclaimed without a thought.

Mrs. Holmes chuckled in response. They paused to look out on the beautiful grounds. The weather was bright and sunny, a rarity in the British Isles. "This was my first reaction when I was brought here when Roderick was courting me. My late husband," she said in response to Molly's confused look. "I won't deny that I was born into a well-to-do family, but not as well-to-do as this one." She turned to Molly with an earnest look on her face. "I hope you will not take me to sound like a spoiled brat; I only speak the truth."

"Don't worry, I don't," responded Molly truthfully. Mrs. Holmes gave her a grateful smile, and patted the small hand resting in the crook of her arm.

"I've been wanting to meet you for quite some time, Dr. Hooper," she said as they slowly walked down the veranda steps and set off down the garden path.

"Please call me Molly," said Molly. "I only like to be Dr. Hooper in St. Bart's." She paused. "You have?"

"Oh, yes. For nearly five years now, since the first time Sherlock talked about you."

Five years…that's around the time Sherlock and I first met! thought Molly in shock.

Mrs. Holmes seemed to read the surprise on Molly's face. She continued: "My son speaks of everybody he knows with impatience and annoyance, but there are very few that he speaks of without scorn. From the first time he talked of you, I heard no scorn in his voice. The people he speaks of like that not only respect him, but accept him without judgment. For my son, that is a rare thing, as you can imagine considering his character. So it stands to reason that these people automatically gain my respect and gratitude."

Molly felt a small lump rise in her throat, and she cleared her throat to get rid of it and respond. "I'm…I'm flattered, Mrs. Holmes. But I wasn't anything special; I was only the pathologist who did things and fetched things for him without question because I was in awe of him. That's hardly cause for praise."

Mrs. Holmes gave her a strong, calculating look that had both approval and disapproval, if that could be imagined. Thankfully, her next question was gentle: "Besides developing a little crush on him, may I ask why you reacted to him in that way of acceptance."

Molly thought about it for a moment as they idly walked on the garden path in the June sunlight. "I suppose because…I could sense from the start that he had once been, and still was, an outcast socially, like me. Not for the same reasons, obviously, but…I could sense that, he preferred his own company or those he truly trusted to the company of strangers or acquaintances. I could relate to that."

Mrs. Holmes now looked on her with complete approval, before turning her gaze forward as sadness flooded it. "You are right, my dear. Both of my boys were never exactly popular when attending school. Though they went to private boarding schools, I received regular reports from their teachers, and Sherlock's letters were always honest. While his teachers were sometimes exasperated by the way he sometimes corrected them, they always praised his genius. The students, however, made no secret of their distaste for him. Sometimes it even resorted to physical bullying." She took a silent moment to keep her voice calm. "While my son could defend himself when it came to that, I am grateful that he never let that truly bother him, but rather motivate him to better his mind and skills." She sighed. "But I do wish he could have met someone like Dr. Watson or you in those young days, so he would have learned the value of friendship sooner. Thank God you two came later than never, though."

Molly listened in fascination but no surprise that Sherlock was like that in school. The thought of Sherlock correcting his teachers and professors without shame made her chuckle, but learning he had had no friends or people he could trust made her as sad as his mother.

Mrs. Holmes resumed the conversation by patting Molly's hand and asking: "May I inquire as to why a lovely girl like you was an outcast in school?"

Molly gave her a sad smile. "I was terminally shy. In a lot of ways, I still am. I never felt comfortable in a big group of people. Being called on in class terrified me, even though most of the time I knew the answers, because I knew I would stutter or blush and be teased for it. 'Mousy Molly' was the favorite term. I didn't mind it most of the time, though. I felt better on my own, because then I knew I didn't have to try and impress anybody. Also, other girls my age were interested in boys and fashion; I was interested in science and literature." She gave Mrs. Holmes a reassuring smile. "Things were much better in uni and med school, though, because I was always surrounded with people who shared my interests. It became easier to find my voice, but even today, I always feel more comfortable around less people and am still quite shy."

Mrs. Holmes nodded in understanding, and they stopped in their walk when they came upon a small clearing of grass in the hedgerows of the garden. She pointed it out to Molly and changed the topic to something more light-hearted. "That was where my sons would have their pirate duels."

Molly couldn't contain the giggles that rose in her throat. The thought of Sherlock and Mycroft engaging in childlike games of imagination, even at young ages, was hard to imagine. "Really?"

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Holmes. "When he was still small, it was the greatest ambition of my younger son to be a pirate. Peter Pan and Treasure Island were the only books he would want me to read to him at night. It still baffles me a bit that my son would have such a dream that any boy that age would have, when he always strived to be exceptional and different."

Molly thought about it for a few moments before saying slowly, " Well…we both know that Sherlock hates being bored…the life of a pirate is never boring."

Mrs. Holmes turned to Molly and positively beamed at her. "My son was right about you, Molly…you truly underestimate yourself when it comes to him, and wrongly so."

The two women spent the remaining hour walking through the gardens and then the main level of the house. Outside, they exchanged stories of Sherlock that were entertaining and endearing. Some of them consisted of pranks the brothers would play on each other, and Mrs. Holmes would always get a sad tint in her eyes when talking about them, no doubt thinking of the feud that still separated them. Molly couldn't deny how curious she was, but refused to ask. The two had only just met to be asking something so personal that perhaps she didn't know the full answer to.

The more that Molly learned, however, the more worried she became of what would happen when this visit was over. She had no doubt that Sherlock would find out about this visit, if he didn't know about it already. He was not going to be happy when he heard about her learning all of these intimate childhood stories. But she refused to think about that now. This visit was going more wonderfully than she ever could have imagined.

In the house, Mrs. Holmes gave her a tour of the grand first floor, telling little anecdotes along the way. They finally settled in the beautiful drawing room, where Albert served them tea and scones. He also brought, by request of Mrs. Holmes, several old pictures of a tiny Sherlock.

"Awww!" Molly couldn't help but squeal as she looked at a picture of Sherlock as a baby. His mop of curls was growing nicely, and he had a pout on his baby face that was extremely similar to the one he often wore as an adult. "I knew he would have been an adorable baby."

"Yes, he was," said Mrs. Holmes. "Here is a funny story about that. When I brought him into the world, it was a very brutal January and I was coming down with pneumonia, if you can believe it."

"Oh, goodness!" exclaimed Molly, who couldn't imagine a worse scenario.

"Yes, so I had to stay in the hospital for over a month after. So did he, to make sure he didn't catch it. Well, he came out with that mop of curls; seeing that would confuse the nurses, and they sometimes mistook him for a girl. Even put a bonnet on him sometimes!"

Molly burst into laughter that was so big she had to clutch her sides and wipe tears from her face.

"He was, if you can believe it, a sweet little boy when he was tiny. Always talked a lot, with a very loud voice, even before he knew a single word." This caused Molly to laugh. "You can imagine how curious he was, just as curious as today." From the stack of photographs she pulled out a few yellow slips. "These are some of his term reports from baby school."

She handed them to Molly, and she read some of the lines aloud with a big smile. "Sherlock is slightly more controlled, but he must try and be less noisy," and "Sherlock's work has progressed very well, but he would do better if he behaved himself and minded his own business" got the biggest laughs between the two women.

Sherlock is going to kill me, thought Molly during this conversation. But I really don't care – this is priceless!

After the tea and scones had been consumed, Mrs. Holmes brought in a more serious tone by turning to Molly beside her on the sofa and taking her hands.

"Molly, I must now say what I've wanted to say to you since Sherlock surprised us all. If it have been for you…" She took a deep breath as tears filled her eyes. "You saved his life."

Molly immediately began to shake her head, and lowered her gaze. "Mrs. Holmes, I only helped him when he needed it. The idea was all Sherlock's, and if he could have gone to anybody else, like John, he would have –"

"Stop," commanded Mrs. Holmes, in an imperious tone that she had heard so often from her sons. She put a finger under Molly's chin and regained powerful eye contact. "Stop right now, Molly Hooper. Your humility is a gift, but do not let it turn into something that is not. If my son could have pulled that stunt off on his own in any way, you know he would have. He would not have come to you unless he truly needed you – not John, his brother, Greg Lestrade, or Mrs. Hudson, but you and only you. Do not ever doubt your value to him, my dear, for believe me when I say it is beyond measure."

The words of the older woman touched Molly greatly, but after years of Sherlock's treatment of her as if she were a doormat, it was hard to believe. She blinked back tears and forced a chuckle as she said, "He has a funny way of showing it, ma'am."

Mrs. Holmes looked at her with compassion, and wiped away a stray tear that had fallen down Molly's cheek. "Oh, my dear…I should have known that he would have more blame in this than you. Even with those he cares for, he can be so careless…I wish I could apologize for that."

Molly shook her head. "Don't. I know he cares for his friends. He wouldn't have done what he did if he hadn't. I've always known he had a heart, ma'am. If he truly didn't, then why is he a detective and not a criminal? Why is he helping people? I'll never believe he is an angel – even I am not that naïve – but he is a hero, at least to me, no matter what he believes."

Now Mrs. Holmes was the one to get teary-eyed, and she pulled Molly closer for a hug, which Molly gladly gave back. They held each other tightly for a while until Mrs. Holmes pulled back and cupped her cheeks. "What a blessing you are to my boy…I used to wish I had a daughter, but you would be more than enough."

"Gladly if you'll have me," said Molly, who had no memories of her mother, who had died when she had been a baby.

Mrs. Holmes pulled away, and picked up an elegant velvet box that had been brought in by Albert with the photographs. She held it out to Molly. "Please let this gift only begin to express my gratitude towards you."

Molly couldn't deny her when her look was so earnest and gentle. So she accepted the velvet box and gingerly opened it. Inside, on a silk cushion, rested two small and silver hair combs, adorned with purple amethysts and blue sapphires. "Oh!" gasped Molly, looking at Mrs. Holmes in disbelief. "These are absolutely lovely! But such a grand gift…I just couldn't…"

"Don't be silly, my dear," said Mrs. Holmes, waving a hand. "They would only blend into my silver hair now. They would be so much more lovely on you. What a lucky woman you are to have hair like that; curls can be so unmanageable sometimes."

"Mum," said Albert, walking into the room. "My apologies for interrupting. You have an urgent telephone call."

"Thank you, Albert," she said before turning back to Molly. "I'm sorry, darling, would you mind if I took this?"

"No, of course not."

"Albert, escort her out to the gardens. I know you enjoyed them."

The young woman smiled and nodded. The two women clasped hands once more before Molly rose and followed Albert out of the drawing room and to the veranda. He motioned to the garden with a kind smile, and Molly returned it with a grateful nod.

When Molly had been a child, one of her favorite books had been Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She never thought she would ever find a garden as beautiful as the one described in that book until she had come to the Holmes Manor. As she walked idly through the gardens, Molly reflected on the visit thus far. Mrs. Holmes was truly a lovely woman, and she was very glad that she knew her now. She hoped that they would get to know each other better…she also hoped that Sherlock would not be too enraged when he found out about this.

Molly paused under a vine-covered stone arch in the garden to look at her beautiful gift again. She opened the box, and traced the outline of one of the lovely combs.

"May I help you put them on?"

The sound of the familiar, beautiful baritone caused an instant reaction. She did not jump, shriek, and turn on the spot in shock (which baffled her). Instead, she felt warmth spread right to the tips of her fingers and toes, and she turned around slowly to face Sherlock Holmes himself. He stood just a foot or two from her, hands behind his back. He was dressed in a gray suit and white shirt, a look she had never seen on him before. There was also something about the way he carried himself that was different. He seemed much more relaxed, more calm, than the restless detective usually was…and it wasn't just that: more at ease.

She didn't dare try to describe the way he was looking at her that was making her heart absolutely pound and make her brain turn to mush. All she could manage to stutter out was, "P-pardon me?"

"May I help you put them on?" he repeated without impatience. What has he done with the real Sherlock Holmes?.

All Molly could do in her shock was nod dumbly. Sherlock took the box from her, extracted the combs, and gently placed one on each side of her head, sinking them into her auburn hair. "I knew they would suit you," he said in a soft voice. "When Mummy asked for help in finding you something from her collection, since she had yet to meet you, I knew immediately what she should choose."

Once his fingers had left her hair, Molly was able to speak again in shock. "You mean you – you knew the whole time that –?"

"Of course I did, Molly," replied Sherlock easily. "While my mother has been begging me for years to invite you here, she would never go behind my back to do it. She invited you by my request, but I made Mycroft pay for your train ticket." He ended on a smirk.

Molly couldn't help but chuckle at that, but that didn't break her shock. "Sherlock, I…I don't understand…"

She may have been seeing things, but she was pretty sure that nervousness flashed across Sherlock's features. She sure didn't imagine him bounce on the balls of his feet or bite his lip for the briefest moment. "You know better than most, Molly, that when it comes to…matters of the heart, such as sentiment and feelings…that I am extremely private and protective, and it is not my area of expertise. This is the reason why I hardly speak of my mother, and am very protective of her and whom I let meet her in my life. Bringing someone here would mean letting them into the most private, personal part of myself."

His voice was deeper, rougher and softer than she'd ever heard it. He stepped closer to her, and she could barely hear him over her pounding heart, and she felt frozen in place.

"I knew after I came back, but I waited until I had spoken to Mummy, who knows much more about this than I ever have, to be absolutely sure."

Molly could feel his warm breath on her face now, and she somehow found the power of speech again, even under the intensity of his gaze. "Sure about what?" It came out in more of a squeaky breath than she wanted it to.

Sherlock did not respond verbally. He just kept eye contact with her while she felt her right hand becoming enveloped in something very warm and pleasant. Looking down, she saw that Sherlock had taken her hand, even interlaced their fingers. She looked back up with a gasp; his gaze was as strong as ever.

"Sherlock!" she breathed, hardly daring to believe what was happening. "A-are you sure? Really sure? I never expected this – I won't doubt that I hoped once, but…If you feel you must out of gratitude, then please don't, I –"

Her ramblings were cut short by Sherlock's swift actions: without a word, he had lowered his head and pressed his lips to hers. Molly's words immediately died, and her lips only took one second to respond to his. Her free hand rose to the back of his neck, and his free hand (now that he had dropped the empty velvet box on the garden path) rested on the small of her back; each brought each other closer.

Their innocent, gentle first kiss ended when they needed to breathe again. Molly kept her eyes closed for a minute. In her dreams and fantasies from her more naïve days, this would be the point when she woke up. But when she opened her eyes, he was still there, with a flush to his pale cheeks and perfect lips. Her hand slid down his neck to rest on his chest. Feeling his heart pound as hard as hers expelled her last tendrils of doubt. Tears of absolute relief and happiness filled her eyes.

"Not good?" asked Sherlock, his rough voice almost timid. She looked back up at him and saw the worry in his eyes. It was the most endearing thing she had ever seen, even more so than his baby pictures.

In response, she gave him a beaming smile and said, "Very good."

Sherlock's shoulders all but sagged in relief. Molly laughed and, embarrassed by the happy tears, buried her face in Sherlock's shirt to calm herself down. His arms wrapped around her back, holding her tightly to him as though she might disappear. Her own arms followed suit.

They were content to stay like that, letting this new and very important development in their relationship really sink in.

Eventually, Sherlock murmured against her temple, "Am I really a hero to you, Molly?"

Molly fought the urge to roll her eyes; of course he had overheard everything she and his mother had talked about. Typical, silly consulting detective. "A hero with some rather infuriating habits and tendencies, but a hero nonetheless." She smiled as his chest vibrated in a chuckle against her cheek.

"So…you will be my Molly, then?"

Molly did not realize just how well she understood this man until now, since she could hear how this was the best way he could ask her to be more than friends. So she replied tenderly, tightening her hold around him, "I always have been, Sherlock, but in the context you mean, absolutely."

Sherlock kissed her cheek in a happy response.

Molly lifted her head to catch his gaze again. "Only if you are sure, Sherlock. You've been very vocal about your distaste for such things in the past, and I wouldn't want you to come to regret changing your beliefs."

He responded with a gaze and reply that was completely Sherlock. "Molly, if I were not sure, I would not have left you alone with my mother, whom I knew would show you mementos of my childhood I would rather submit to torture than have anybody else see them."

Molly's heart swelled to epic proportions, and her smile grew in a similar way before she brought his head down for a more passionate kiss.

He responded with equal passion and no hesitation.

Eventually, though, the kiss came to an end, and Sherlock sighed, unwillingly letting go of her. "Let's go. The longer we stay in the gardens, the bigger the smirk and teasing will be from Mummy."

She giggled and fought the huge blush in her cheeks. "All right."

He took her hand and led her out of the gardens, where indeed Mummy Holmes was waiting for them – not with a smirk, but with a smile that her beloved son had finally found true happiness, acceptance, and love.

A/N: After listening to a radio interview of Benedict and his mum, this one-shot came to my head and evolved. The part where Mrs. Holmes talks of baby Sherlock and his baby school reports are taken right from that interview, describing Baby Benedict (how sweet is that?) Not the part about the nurses mistaking him for a girl – that story is actually about my dad, who has Sherlock hair if you can believe it.

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