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Histories (Part 5 & 6/17)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (alcoholism, drug-taking, explicit femslash and slash, homophobia, swearing, vomiting)

Sequel to Birthday Surprise and Launch Off in which Molly gets together with Dr Harriet Watson, historian of eighteenth-century women and recovering alcoholic

Huge thanks to my beta Blooms84 for tackling this monster and making extremely helpful suggestions

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 & 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17

Summary: Breaking up is always hard to do for both Molly and Harry. It affords Sherlock certain opportunities, however...


5) Friday evening: Molly

Molly remembered as she went home that Harry and she had been supposed to go to the cinema that evening, to see 'The Eagle'. They'd both read Rosemary Sutcliff as children, so Harry had agreed to go and see it, even though they knew it would be historically inaccurate, and dishy men in revealing armour didn't do anything for Harry. And afterwards, Molly thought, we'd have come back here, and Harry would have ranted about all the anachronisms, and I'd have told her that it didn't matter, because what the story's really about is loyalty, and bravery, and a very unlikely friendship.

Of course, she could still go and see the film, but it wouldn't be the same without Harry. When you were with Harry you saw things differently, the world became a whole mass of stories, histories. Everything had a past and you couldn't escape from the weight of that past. She wasn't sure she wanted to think about that right now.

But why should she sit at home and mope? She could meet up with some of her other friends and enjoy herself.  Without Harry. But how could she explain why Harry wasn't with her? Say she was away at a conference? (Her friends would think Harry was neglecting her). Finishing off a paper? (Ditto). Tired? (Drunk). Ill? (Ditto). In fact, whatever she said, her friends would presume the worst about Harry. Because they always presumed the worst about Molly's relationships. And they'd be right, just like they'd been right about Peter, and about Paul. And what was worse, they'd be sympathetic, in that smug 'told you so' way. Tactfully not saying that Molly had made another bad decision, fallen for another brilliant disaster area.

She couldn't face seeing anyone. She'd just lie in her bedroom for a bit, listen to a CD, that'd make her feel better. Lie on the bed where Harry and she had first made love. Which Paul Kablinski had bought, because he liked writing in bed. She should have got rid of it, but it was a very comfortable bed, spacious. And that bit of the past didn't seem so important anymore.

She'd got over Paul, that was the thing. She could read the newspaper and see a review of one of his novels now and it barely hurt. Not that she'd ever buy a copy, and she did feel pleased when reviewers commented on how unsympathetic his heroes were. But it didn't matter the way it had once done. Not the way that Paul, everything about Paul, had once twisted her guts.

Molly Kablinski (2004-2007)

She couldn't understand now why she'd ever fallen for Paul Kablinski. Because he wasn't Peter, she supposed. All her friends had presumed Paul was another hopeless drifter like Peter, thought his claims to be a writer were just an excuse to lounge around, sponge off Molly, now she was earning some money at last, as a junior doctor. But she'd seen the drive in Paul that Peter had never had. The force, the determination, that kept on getting the small, bespectacled, slightly grubby looking man what he wanted. First on his list had been Molly:  they'd got married three months after the party at which she'd met him. Then Paul had got a contract for his collection of short stories. And the final prize had been a year's writing fellowship in the States.

The first she'd known about that had been Paul telling her he'd won it. And, of course, he told her, she was an independent woman. It wasn't for him to tell her how she squared this with her training as a pathologist. He was sure she'd work something out. The plan they'd agreed – her plan, which he'd nonchalantly accepted – was that he'd go over on his own, and see what the long-term prospects were in America, while she continued at Barts.

Five miserable months later, Sherlock had come back into her life.

***

She hadn't seen Sherlock since that drunken night four years ago. She'd doggedly avoided Queen Mary College for a while, and then learnt through a friend that she didn't need to. Sherlock had disappeared from the university; the rumour said due to drugs. But when he turned up again, as the world's only consulting detective, he looked clean to her now more experienced eyes. Clean, and beautiful, and not interested in discussing the past. Interested in her only because of her ever increasing access to corpses.

She became used to the way that Sherlock's manner towards her switched, depending on his current scientific needs. Intellectually used to it. Unfortunately, some deeply unrealistic part of her still couldn't help responding to his charm. Hoping, despite all the evidence, that he cared, would care, could care. She didn't tell him about Paul, but she knew she didn't need to. The Barts gossip network would see to that; he knew more than enough about her already.

***

She was never sure afterwards if it was chance, or if Sherlock had planned the whole thing. She'd been sitting in the canteen one lunchtime, thinking about Paul. Thinking, not crying. Then Sherlock's long-legged body had slid into the seat opposite her, and, after a cool gaze, he'd announced: "Why have you been crying?"

"I haven't," she said, futilely, because Sherlock's eyes flicked across the printout she was still holding.

"Unless Yale University's press releases have now achieved a previously unheard of emotive power, I take it that Mr Kablinski has obtained another job. Tears of sorrow, not of joy, of course. You justifiably prefer the thought of Barts' mortuary to the frustrations of the American Medical Licensing Examination."

"It's...it's just very sudden," she replied. "I haven't taken it in properly yet, that's all."

"He's a talented man your husband. I've read some of his stories," Sherlock said. "Of course, one of the factors you need to consider, when you're making plans, is whether he's cheating on you yet. I think he probably is, but I'd need to meet him to be 100% certain."

"He's not cheating on me!" she snapped.

"I told you, I've read his stories. And he married you only a few months after you met, didn't he? How long has he been on his own in the US now?"

"Paul's not like that!"

"I was wrong," said Sherlock smoothly. "I don't need to meet him after all. Because you know it already, don't you?"

"I don't know!" she gulped. How could he do this to her, reduce her to shreds with a few sentences? She wasn't even drunk this time. "I just don't know."

"That's because you see, but don't observe," Sherlock replied, smiling lazily at her. "Your husband  e-mails you regularly?"

"Yes. Not very much at first, because he said it distracted him from his writing, but then he got into the habit of sending me a long e-mail every Sunday evening, before he goes back to work..." Her voice tailed off.

"A long, cheery e-mail? The writing of a guilty man who's trying to cover up how he's spent the rest of the weekend? Carefully composed to sound good, but give away no details of his activities?"

"Yes," Molly whispered.

"Who is the female colleague he doesn't mention any more? I'm guessing it's someone on campus, easier to fit into his schedule, he's a busy man, but colleague, rather than student, because he's also ambitious, doesn't want to risk trouble."

"Dorothy Liu," she said, "And the novel he's working on includes a mixed-race marriage." It was at that point that she started to cry again.

Sherlock listened for nearly an hour as she sobbed her heart out about Paul. At one point he even held her hand. His long fingers were cool, surprisingly soft to the touch. The small part of Molly that could observe as well as see knew it meant he had a particularly outrageous request to make, that she'd pay a high price for this kindness. Even as the rest of her thought: he wouldn't be trying to break up my marriage if he wasn't just a bit concerned about me, interested in me.

"What should I do?" she asked, when she'd finally ground to a halt.

"Leave him," Sherlock replied. "But you won't. Nor will you give up your job and follow Mr Kablinski to America. You're not quite that stupid. You'll try and save your marriage by e-mail and hasty transatlantic visits. I'd give you a 12% estimate of success, and that's a generous estimate." He smiled then, and the hypnotic warmth crept back into his voice. "But all that's for later. You know what you should do right now?"

"What?"

"Find me a corpse with bad teeth, lots of dental work."

***

Sherlock was right, of course, he almost always was. Paul Kablinski with Dorothy Liu in the Department of Anthropology. And after two years and several attempts at reconciliation, it had been Paul Kablinski with Maria Flores in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and he'd sent her the divorce papers. It was no comfort at all that Sherlock had been wrong on the precise effect of microwaving a severed head with multiple fillings in it.

***

Why had it taken her so long to learn that some men, some people would always let you down, Molly thought. That if you trusted them, gave them what they asked for, it would always end in tears? Peter and Paul and Sherlock and Jim and now Harry. Why hadn't she seen the warning signs about what Harry was going to do? There must have been something that would have told her what Harry was planning, if she'd only observed it properly.

Still, if she'd survived Paul Kablinski, she told herself firmly, switching off the CD player, she could survive anything. Even breaking up with Harry. And now was the time to prove it: she would go and see 'The Eagle' on her own. At least she knew that Marcus and Esca would have a happy ending.
 

6) Friday evening: Harry

When Harry woke she found her flat empty. No Molly – no, of course not. No Molly, no more. But no Sherlock either, just a scrawled note:

Think you're in the clear, but need to check the bottles. Don't panic. Sherlock

She wasn't going to panic. She was way beyond panic now, lodged firmly in despair, because Molly wasn't coming back. Thank God Sherlock had taken the bottles, and that she didn't have to go anywhere tonight. She could stay in the flat, where there was nothing to drink, because if she went out, she would end up drunk. Within five minutes walk there were nine places she could buy alcohol; she could still list them all. And the one thing that had been useful from the alcohol counselling had been the triggers mnemonic : HALT. You are most liable to relapse when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

She couldn't concentrate, which made it harder. It was an effort just to cook herself some pasta, eat it, wash up. As for the rest of the evening, whatever was in front of her eyes or in her ears - books, a DVD, Radio 4 - it didn't matter. All she could do was think of Molly, turn the whole thing over and over in her mind. How had it happened, why had it happened? There were people who told you not to dwell on the past when you had a break-up. Unfortunately, it was completely unrealistic advice for a historian. She couldn't stop analysing the past just because it was her own past.

The arguments, the counterfactuals pressed in on her. Could she have prevented this happening? Was it inevitable that Molly would leave her? What if Molly hadn't found the whisky? But if the whisky had been there – and the whisky had been there, that was the one definite fact – then someone would have found it eventually. And it was no good saying 'what if the whisky hadn't been there?' because she didn't know why it was there.

She wouldn't have broken up with Molly if she'd never met Molly in the first place.  Would that have been better? 'Tis better to have loved and lost: Than never to have loved at all.' Discuss, with examples. Molly had been the reason for her to stop drinking, and now she was probably going to be the reason for her to start drinking again...

No, she mustn't think like that. She was choosing not to drink, whether or not she was with Molly. She could have made that decision at any time, even if John and Sherlock hadn't taken her to Molly's birthday party last August. Molly had only been the final piece in her decision to give up alcohol, one cause among many.

She wouldn't have needed to give up alcohol if she'd never become an alcoholic in the first place. If she'd only known when to stop, if she hadn't done so many stupid things. Like marrying Clara. If it had been John marrying Clara, not her, would it all have worked out? He wouldn't have become an alcoholic. And maybe if he'd been married he wouldn't have risked his neck out in Afghanistan. If she'd just got it right all those years ago, hadn't screwed up both their lives...

But, no, John being with someone didn't stop him risking his neck. He enjoyed the risks, enjoyed chasing criminals with Sherlock; he was happy doing that. But if it hadn't been for Mike Stamford introducing him to Sherlock...

That was the terrifying thought: the sheer randomness of events. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. John and she had both seemed doomed last winter. Her without Clara, killing herself bottle by bottle in her lonely flat, barely able to function anymore. And John limping round London like a sun-tanned ghost.

But somehow John had survived; Sherlock had given him back hope. Given him more, as well, when she'd pushed him after the swimming pool bomb. It was comforting to think about John and Sherlock, because that had worked out, that was good, that was solid, even if her own life was crumbling away, the way it always seemed to do. If she just had the chance to go back, to get things right this time. If she just had her own personal time machine. But however far she went back she was still herself, and wouldn’t she just make the same mistakes over and over again? How did she escape from who she was?

Running away won’t solve anything, Harry. Who had told her that? Oh, John, of course, when he’d been trying to stop her drinking. John didn’t run anyway from anything, even when it would be sensible to. Which was stupid, but why she loved him. She wished she had her big brother here with her right now, to sort her out, put some steel in her backbone.

But he was off on his own again, facing the unknown risks of Northumberland. It had been wild country up there once, she remembered, home of the border reivers. Men and women who made their own law, paid no attention to the conventions of normal life. She hoped it wasn't quite like that anymore.



Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
fengirl88
Sep. 20th, 2011 11:45 am (UTC)
severed head in the microwave? I bet there were a few discouraging words heard that day...

*represses a twinge of nostalgia at the description of H & M's cinema outings*

and it's sadly plausible that Molly can see through what Sherlock's doing, but still falls for it.

marysutherland
Sep. 22nd, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
I had the worrying realisation writing this fic that Sherlock was probably even more of a menace when he was younger and Molly first knew him. He may be settling down if the severed heads are now only in the fridge.

I remember my husband being deeply relieved at the thought that I was not going with him to see the film '300' (the bizarre Spartan one); I don't think he could cope with comments about anachronisms *and* homoeroticism. And I deliberately did not go and see The Eagle, because I loved the book as a child, and I suspected the film would be a disappointment. In fact, I do feel that the whole Harry/Molly 'verse is basically an extended warning as to why you should never, ever get romantically involved with a historian. (I sneaked slowly into being one once we'd been married a number of years, so my husband didn't see it coming till it was too late).

I do love your Molly icon, but the good news is that eventually in this story she is going to toughen up a bit.
fengirl88
Sep. 22nd, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
the icon came from that woe_in_a_hoodie crackfic, The Top Secret LiveJournal of Sherlock Holmes - I keep thinking I should have a better one for Molly (i.e., one where she is not looking so sappy). I like your new default one!

I don't think I've ever been romantically involved with a historian (well, not since my very early undergraduate days), but my ex's response to anachronisms on screen was rather like Harry's.

(it is true that I have been known to shout "NO!" at the TV myself on occasion...)

Edited at 2011-09-22 07:18 pm (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )