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Secret Santa for matilda3948 (Sherlock)


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(Happy holidays, matilda3948! I hope you enjoy your Secret Santa present; It's not really a Sherlolly unless you squint and Molly did end up a bit grumpy but I certainly had fun writing it for you.)

Molly Hooper slowed her pace as she approached the street where she lived, digging frantically in her pockets for a handkerchief or a paper napkin, anything really. The handful of tissues she’d grabbed as she left work had given up the ghost about three blocks ago. She wriggled her nose, pressing the heel of her hand against one eye where the prickling and burning seemed most intense, anything to stop from sneezing again or she’d be forced to use her scarf to wipe her nose.

A wet clump of snow chose that moment to separate itself from the eaves of a nearby building, dropping directly between the collar of her coat and her exposed neck. She shivered, her shoulders drooping in resignation. No use being upset, it was just one more annoyance added to the awful day she’d already lived through. She’d be home soon enough, feet up, hot cup of tea in hand, Toby purring in her lap.

She drew her keys from her pocket and then stopped in her tracks. Something was wrong. She always paused here, right in this exact spot, to make sure she had the correct key ready. She looked around, blinking blearily, fuzzy brain trying to determine the problem and then realized: no lights. The neighboring houses were all dark, street and alleyways gloomy, no traffic light blinking on the corner. Brilliant. Even better than paperwork cockups all day and snow down her neck tonight. She couldn’t wait to see what surprises awaited her inside.

She fumbled her keys in the front door lock and stepped inside the very dark and very cold interior of her house. She heard a piteous meow from somewhere behind her.

“I hear you, Toby, hang on.” She could forget about the cup of tea and purring cat.

Molly made her way carefully through the house, her familiar things seeming a little sinister in the darkness. She stumbled into her kitchen, barking her shin on the cabinets as she searched the drawers for a candle and matches. The throbbing pain in her leg distracted her only momentarily from the discomfort in her head and she looked around for the first serviceable thing she could find, snatching a tea towel from the counter. She buried her face in the towel as she bent forward with a harsh sneeze, holding the candle well out of her way. Wouldn’t do to set her hair or anything else on fire. She sneezed again and groaned as she felt the lance of pain in her throat, sinuses burning. It wasn’t allergies and it wasn’t just a tickle as she’d been trying to convince herself all day. No, she’d caught a cold, just in time for the holidays. Happy Christmas to Molly.

She scrubbed her nose with the towel, wishing she’d grabbed something a little softer, and then froze when she heard her text notification. Molly swore under her breath as she plucked the phone from her pocket. She was alone and she could swear loudly if she really wanted to but she’d never been much of a swearer. Her fingers felt huge and clumsy as she pulled up the single-word text message:


She gasped, looking around suspiciously. The house and the surrounding neighborhood seemed eerily quiet and the idea that someone was standing near enough to hear her sneeze was unnerving. She should call emergency services, kill two birds with one stone, report the power cut and the strange creepy blesser. But then again, not that many people had her mobile number and whoever had texted her spelled ‘gesundheit’ correctly so maybe it wasn’t a serial killer after all.

As she stood thinking, the text notification sounded again:

I am at the rear door.

Curiosity overcoming her sense of self-preservation, Molly cracked open the door and peered out. Although the first thing to grab her attention was a rather riotous mustache, she soon recognized the pale eyes and haughty demeanor of Sherlock.

“Molly,” he said, voice pitched low. “May I come in?”

She stood back and stared after him wordlessly as he carefully removed the false mustache and stalked around her kitchen, stopping only to shutter the windows. He seemed to have no problem navigating the space despite the darkness.

Molly didn’t know what to say to him. It was the first time she’d laid eyes on him since his planned disappearance. There had been the odd text message, the occasional coded communication, but this first face to face meeting left her speechless, with too many questions rattling through her head. She found her voice at last although didn’t manage to get much out.

“Sherlock,” she whispered. “Why...?”

“I’m in the area investigating a smuggling ring,” he explained. “Black market smartphones. Rather ingenious. The operatives dress as Santa, blend into the holiday crowds and nick mobiles off unsuspecting passersby.” As he explained, he located a candle of his own and soon had it flickering brightly. “I needed somewhere to set up surveillance and yours was the first place I thought of.”

He paused for a moment near her tiny tree, its branches filled with sentimental family heirlooms and clumsily-made childhood creations. He stood very still, his posture and expression betraying nothing, but she thought she saw a hint of sadness in his eyes. Perhaps he had more interest in a little company and holiday cheer than a ring of nefarious Santas.

“Not that I’m not very happy to see you,” Molly said, smothering a painful cough in her sleeve, “But I think I’m coming down with a cold. You may want to find somewhere else to stay.”

“I have nowhere else, Molly,” he said, turning to face her. “So if you keep your distance from me, there should be little chance of transmission.”

“Great, that’s a load off my mind.” Her attempt at sarcasm failed to reach him. She grumbled quietly to herself as she gathered a box of tissues, a tumbler of water, and some linty-looking sweets and carried them through to her bedroom, arranging them carefully on her nightstand where they’d be within easy reach. “I’ll be sure to keep to myself,” she said, more to herself than to him.

“It would be appreciated.” He clapped his hands once and rubbed them together briskly. “Cup of tea?” he called to her.

“Sounds lovely,” she said, voice cracking with the increased volume. “Except my kettle is electric, so no joy there.”

“Hmm.” She heard him clattering about for a minute before he asked, “Gas hob?”

“Electric, too, sorry.” She leaned down to plump the bed pillows and tightened her coat around herself as she crawled between the layers of blankets.

“Ah. Pity.” He appeared suddenly in the doorway to her room. “I believe there’s a Costa a few blocks north of here,” he said. “That will do.”

“I wouldn’t want you to go to any trouble,” she said, snuggling a little more deeply into the blankets. “Water is fine until the power is back.” She was already beginning to feel warmer and a bit sleepy. If she could just close her eyes and get a good sleep in then maybe…

Realization hit her suddenly and her eyes flew open in disbelief. “You wanted me to fetch tea for you, didn’t you?” She lifted the blankets and shook them vigorously in his direction. “I’m ill and in bed, trying to get some rest, in case it escaped your notice.”

“I certainly can’t go out there myself, Molly, what if I’m seen?”

She rubbed her still-itchy nose a bit harder than necessary out of sheer frustration. Hadn’t she dreamed this scenario several times...just her and Sherlock, alone in the house together, unable to leave? Now that it was reality she wanted nothing more than to be left alone again.

“Well, never mind about the tea,” he said, sounding so condescending that Molly wanted to smack him. He paced about her room, stopping to peer out the window. “Would you mind if we traded rooms for the night?”

Molly covered her face with her hands, not quite believing what she was hearing. “Why no, Sherlock, not at all, I’m only ill and nearly dead on my feet and for the first time today I’m warm and reasonably comfortable, but please, let me laboriously move all of my things to a freezing room just to accommodate you.”

“I knew you’d understand,” he said, giving her a brief smile as she stood and straightened slowly, dragging the still warm blanket into her arms. “I need a little more space than the spare bedroom offers and you’ll only be sleeping, won’t you?”

Molly only had the energy to stare coldly as she stalked past him, tossing the covers down in a bad temper. She’d never liked it in here. She arranged her things with less care and shifted and wriggled in the blankets, trying to find a comfortable position on the old bed with the creaky frame and lumpy mattress. But before she could settle, she was forced to pluck a handful of tissues from the box as a violent sneezing fit overtook her. Each sneeze pitched her forward a little further until by the end of it, she was nearly bent double, head resting on her knees. She caught only the end of a shouted question from the other room.

“...any antihistamines?.”

“What?” She blew her nose, feeling her ears pop.

Sherlock’s impatient voice came from the corridor outside her room. ‘I’ve asked twice now. Do you have any antihistamines?”

“I don’t know. I don’t care.” She flopped down on the pillows, feeling a sick throb behind her eyes, keeping time with her heartbeat. “Maybe I don’t want to take anything, did you ever think of that? Maybe I want to lie around feeling sorry for myself and have a good excuse to call out of work tomorrow.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Molly, an antihistamine will clear up your symptoms in about thirty minutes, perhaps less. Then we can both get on with our evenings in peace.”

“Well, I’m sorry I’m such an inconvenience to you in my own place. How inconsiderate.”

He remained quiet for so long that Molly thought he’d left. She blew out an irritated sigh when he spoke up again.

“This isn’t like you,” he said. “You’re always so level-headed and practical.”

“I’m sick of being good old dependable Molly. What has it ever gotten me? A lot of trouble, that’s what. Staying late at work just so everyone else can prance off to their evening gatherings, tracking down lost paperwork even though it’s not really my responsibility, kicked out of my own bedroom when you need a place to hide out and spy on sticky-fingered Santas…”

In the middle of her tirade he turned abruptly on his heel and left the room. She heard the snick of the rear door latch and experienced one white-hot moment of regret but it had felt good to shout at him for a bit, even if it did hurt her throat. She considered following him but instead pulled the blanket up around her ears, letting sleep finally take her.


Sherlock’s soft voice pulled her out of a restless slumber and Molly blinked, worried for a moment that she’d lost her sight until she remembered the power cut.

“I spoke with the proper authorities,” he said, “And they have assured me your power will be restored within the hour.”

“That's nice," she said, then realization dawned. Oh, no, you did this, didn’t you? You arranged for the electric to be cut to the whole area so you could sneak in under cover of darkness or something like that.”

He had the good grace to look a little guilty. “I didn’t know you were ill, Molly, be reasonable.”

Now that she was fully awake, she realized how cold she felt. She tucked her hands under her arms, dropping her chin to her chest, trying to keep her teeth from chattering. “D..doesn’t really help me n..now, does it?” she said.

“You’re shivering.”

She raised her eyes to his and all of her incredulity and impatience must have shone through because his polite smile faltered slightly and he looked away.

“Well spotted, Sherlock, no w...wonder you’re the world’s only consulting detective.”

“You weren’t shivering before.” He pressed the back of his hand to Molly’s forehead, a cold, clinical gesture with no compassion behind it. “You feel warm. Your core temperature must be increasing.”

“Or m...maybe it’s because there’s no heat in here.” Her voice rose on the final words, triggering a strained cough. She tried to speak patiently. “Can you please find another blanket? We’ll debate the m...mechanics of it later.”

His eyes darted around the room, finally settling on a chest pushed up under a window. He crossed the room in two strides, lifted the hinged lid and withdrew a large quilt

“As I suspected,” he said, unable to keep a self-satisfactory note from his voice. “You have no dresser drawers deep enough to hold a standard-sized blanket and you don’t have the necessary height to reach blankets stored on an upper shelf so this chest was the only logical…”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “Would you please shut up and give it to me before I fr...freeze?”

He shook the quilt out, letting it settle around her. He lifted the top edge between finger and thumb, clearly at a loss.

“Shall I….tuck it in?” he asked, mouth drawn down in distaste. It was apparent comforting gestures did not come naturally to him.

“No,” Molly said. “No, just leave me alone.” Her shivering did not abate and she turned to her side, curling into a ball, not wanting to look at him and not wanting him to see her so vulnerable and miserable.

“Molly, I’m concerned about you,” he said, his voice for the first time sounding uncertain. “You’ve been such a help to me.” She rolled back to look at him and could just make out his form as he unbuttoned his long overcoat, sweeping the sides back in a dramatic fashion.

“They do say shared body heat is the most efficient way to stay warm.” he said, stepping closer to her bed.

“What are you suggesting?” she asked, feeling suddenly shy as she pulled the blanket up to her chin.

“Sharing body heat, of course.” Molly bounced slightly as he flopped down and pulled the blanket over to cover them both. “At least until the power is restored.”

After a moment’s hesitation, she leaned against him and sighed. Her left side was already beginning to warm nicely and she entertained the thought of curling up completely in his arms and sleeping the night away. Her head lolled to his shoulder but a familiar burning itch in her nose made her jerk upright again, breath hitching. She made a vague, desperate gesture to her right.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” he asked. “Oh god...yes. Here.” He thrust a crumpled wad of tissues toward her and barely had enough time to get his hands out of the way before she began sneezing. She felt him stiffen and recoil as he made a small noise of disgust and if she weren’t so miserable and embarrassed, she would’ve laughed.

“Ugh, I’m sorry,” she said when she’d finished. She dropped the whole mess into a nearby bin and slumped tiredly against his chest. It took a moment to register in her fever-addled brain what she’d done. But he was really very soft and warm and comfortable to snuggle with, even if she couldn’t exactly call it snuggling. She sighed, braced one hand against him to give herself enough leverage to push away, but to her surprise, he brought his arm up to encircle her and gently pulled her back down.

“Stay where you are.”

She yawned and nodded, feeling too tired and cozy to argue. Warmth began to seep into her body and the gentle undulation of sleep was quickly overtaking her. When he spoke her name quietly she pretended not to hear it the first two times.

“Molly,” he said, giving her a gentle shake. “If you’ll check the right hand pocket of my coat?”

“Mmm, what?” She reached into his pocket without opening her eyes, her fingers closing on a soft bundle of something, tissue paper crinkling.

“It’s a gift,” he said. ”I was going to leave it under your tree, but it may come in handy now.”

She felt her cheeks flush, not only from what was certainly a fever but from the idea that this man, one she’d held in such high esteem for so long, had chosen a present for her. Her fingers trembled as she tried to undo the wrapping carefully. The tissue fell away, revealing a soft knitted wool cap in soft shades of blue.

“I could tell from the usual state of your hair in foul weather that you don’t often bother with a hat.”

That much was true. Molly pulled it on. Sherlock studied her critically by candlelight, those changeable eyes taking her in, not dismissing her as was his usual habit, but assessing.

“Yes, I was right,” he said. “That color suits you.”

She tucked a strand of wayward hair under the ribbed edge. “Does it?”

“It does,” he said. “Happy Christmas, Molly.”

“And to you, Sherlock. I’m sorry I don’t have a gift for you, wasn’t sure if I’d see you or not.”

“I don’t need anything,” he said. “Knowing you are always here, that this place is a refuge, the certainty of it has given me peace of mind and for that I am grateful.”

She let her head drop back down to his chest and his lips brushed her forehead. “I hope you feel better in the morning.”

Molly smiled sleepily, not sure how she could feel any better than she did right now.

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I have to say, I don't normally read fan fics, but I'm a sucker for sick Molly and this was SO yummy. I love how Sherlock is still very much in-character and yet manages to act this adorable by the end. The story was very well weaved and your descriptions are perfect! In short: I loved it :D

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Beautifully written, beautifully in-character. <3 Your writing is so good! And the ending is heart-meltingly sweet. :wub:

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Ahh! I love it soooo much!! It's sweet and warm and fuzzy and makes me so, sooooooo happy!! wubsmiley.gif

And this bit:

She sighed, braced one hand against him to give herself enough leverage to push away, but to her surprise, he brought his arm up to encircle her and gently pulled her back down.

“Stay where you are.”

roll1.gif Happiness overload!!

Thank you so much for writing this! It's marvelous!

Merry Christmas newyear.gif

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Too cute! I don't usually read Sherlock or female fics, but this was adorable! You nailed the characters, and i loved Molly's grumpiness. The end was so sweet and lovely!!

Edited by meepsy
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Awww. Dear Molly. Always a refuge for Sherlock. Lovely!

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Poor Molly. Long suffering doesn't even begin to describe her situation. I liked the ending as Sherlock finally gives her some of what she is due.

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