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Histories (Part 13/17)

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, Parts 5 & 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 & 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17

Summary: Molly may be trying to move on, but it's hard to forget about Harry

13) Sunday: Molly
In theory, Sunday was Molly and Harry's day off. In practice, given Harry's inability to switch off from thinking about history, and how often Molly ended up being on call on Sundays, it didn't always work like that. But right now Molly would have been prepared to have several people die hideous and unexplained deaths if it would give her an excuse to go into work. No, that was a horrible thing to think. But she couldn't just sit around feeling sorry for herself, she should do something constructive. Clear out the spare room, as she'd been meaning to do for ages. Then she'd have space to put the new bookcases up.

Did she still need the new bookcases? They were supposed to be for Harry's books, after all. So that Harry could move out of her dodgy flat in Vauxhall and in with her now. She wasn't going to wait for months till she could prod Harry into going house-hunting with her. Harry might not care where she lived as long as she had her laptop and her books, but it really wasn't nice where she was. The tenants above had made Harry's ceiling collapse, and Molly was sure there was at least one drug-dealer in the block of flats. Besides, they really ought to be properly living together, settling down.

Well, it wasn't going to happen, but she would tidy up the spare room anyhow. In fact, the whole house, because it was a mess. Mostly Harry's fault, of course, she tried not to be untidy but her good intentions never lasted long. None of her good intentions, it turned out. Why hadn't Molly realised it couldn't last, that Harry was a lost cause? She supposed because it had seemed last autumn that Harry really had changed.

Molly and Harry (2010-?)
Harry had crashed back into her life a couple of months after the birthday party. Sober. Almost literally crashed into Molly's life, because who but Harry would think a mortuary was a good place to visit for someone with haemophobia? And Molly had known at once. Known what she wasn't supposed to think, but was true. That Harry has sobered up for her sake, and that she could help keep Harry sober.

She hadn't really understood what being with Harry would be like. Not till their first sort of date, when Harry had taken her along to a book launch. The launch of Harry's own book, with her alternating between embarrassed celebrity and enthusiastic discussions of prostitutes and murder. Every now and then Harry had glanced at Molly in a way that make Molly's stomach knot. Or glanced at the bottles of mediocre wine in a way that made Molly's stomach knot in an entirely different way. But Harry hadn't drunk anything, and the party was nearly over, and maybe they could go and have a nice meal somewhere. And then someone from OUP – the one who had made the rather boring speech – came over and announced:

"So have you decided, Dr Watson, where you'd like to go for supper?"

Harry gave him a bemused look.

"You were told in our letter," the boring man went on, "that we'd take you out for a meal afterwards. Though I hope we made clear that we had certain budgetary constraints."

Harry turned to Molly with a guilty air, and Molly was just about to make brave sounding noises about needing to have an early night, when Harry suddenly smiled, and announced.

"I'd forgotten about the m-meal, and I'm afraid I can't come.  I'm a recovering alcoholic and I'm having terrible cravings at the moment. So it really would be better if I went home right n-now, before I do something stupid. And supper with a p-publisher definitely counts as stupid."

The OUP man was looking at Harry with the alarm of someone who saw a publishing disaster looming, so Molly thought she'd better intervene.

"I'm a doctor," she said, sure she wasn't sounding convincing. "Harry's doctor, actually. She'll be fine if I take her home, she's doing really well. She just mustn't over-excite herself."

Harry had managed not to giggle as they left, which had surprised Molly. In fact, Harry had been absolutely silent till they'd got safely out of Senate House. And then she'd jumped up on the first step outside Birkbeck, announced, "You're so m-marvellous", and leant down and started kissing Molly.

"Harry," Molly said rather breathlessly a few minutes later, when Harry finally let her go. "People will notice." Harry still had the shining look in her eyes of an alcoholic who'd just found a bottle of vodka, and any practical plans for the rest of the evening were clearly going to be down to Molly.

"OK," she said, "You've eaten but I haven't, so I'd like to get something quickly before I take you home..."

There was silence from Harry, which wasn't like her when she wasn't kissing someone. Molly suddenly had an alarming thought.

"You have eaten something this evening, Harry, haven't you?"

"I had some crisps at the start of the p-party," Harry said at last.

"But if you forgot you were being taken out to supper?"

"In between forgetting to tell you and John, and forgetting m-myself, I did actually remember, so I didn't bother eating earlier," Harry said, rather despairingly.

Molly wanted to pick Harry up, and wrap her up warmly, and make sure she was never hungry again. Somehow that translated into putting her arms round her to give her a comforting hug, and that translated into one of Harry's soft small hands burrowing its way inside Molly's coat. Almost immediately, Harry had a button undone at the back of Molly's dress, and her fingers were running up and down the hollow of Molly's spine in a very disturbing way. Dr Harriet Watson, Molly abruptly realised, probably knew how to take off any woman's garment of the last 300 years.

"You really should have something to eat," she said, trying to sound firm.

"I'm not hungry," Harry replied, sounding about ten.

"We could go for a nice meal out," Molly said. "And then perhaps later on..." She must be sensible, she was always sensible.

"Would you p-prefer that?" Harry asked, starting to disentangle her hand from Molly's dress. She managed to fondle the nape of Molly's neck with her other hand as she did so. For a woman so clumsy in most ways, Harry always seemed to know what to do with those skilled, gentle fingers. And Molly should not be so vividly reminded of the feel of them on her, in her. Harry was shoving her hands into her trouser pockets now, trying to look insouciant and failing miserably. Molly made an abrupt decision.

"How far is it to your flat?" she asked.

"Forty m-minutes or so, I'm down near Vauxhall, so I n-normally get the tube from Euston."

"We could have a snack on the way."

"That sounds wonderful. M-my flat's a bit small, but it's really cosy."

***

They sat on the Tube giggling and working their way through smoothies and cereal bars, because Molly was sure Harry needed all the vitamins and complex carbohydrates she could get. Though Molly's giggles died in her throat when she saw Harry's block of flats.

"It's better inside the flat," said Harry, as they went in, "except it is rather m-messy. I wasn't sure, I mean I hadn't thought you'd want to come, I...the bedroom's n-not too bad."

"The bedroom?" Molly asked automatically.

"If, if you don't want to, that's fine," Harry said nervously. "I didn't m-m-mean, well, yes, obviously I did m-mean, but n-not if you'd rather do something else. You're my guest." Molly could almost feel Harry try and force herself back into being Dr Harriet Watson, respectable academic. "I could m-m-make you some coffee, if you'd like."

Molly didn't like to think of the state of Harry's kitchen, judging by the cluttered chaos of the living room. Besides, that wasn't why she'd come here, was it? She'd spent too much of her life sitting around awkwardly, because she hadn't been prepared to admit what she wanted, even to herself.

"I'd rather come to bed with you than have coffee," she said.

"That's good because I'm m-much better at sex than coffee," Harry replied.  "I'm sorry, I probably ought n-not to say that, only it's true, and you are so gorgeous, M-M-M-Sue, and...the bedroom is this way and I'll shut up n-now."

***

The alarm on Molly's watch was ringing, and she couldn't find it to switch it off, and where was the bedside table, and...oh, she wasn't in her own flat, was she? She was in Harry's bed, in her briefs and some awful old T-shirt that she suspected was one of John Watson's castoffs. And she had really not been sensible last night, had she?

Last night had been...wonderful. Harry had made love with the simple enthusiasm of someone who'd worked out about sex from first principles and couldn't wait to share her knowledge. That was Harry all over, wasn't it? She clearly lived her life on those waves of enthusiasm, whether it was for cross-dressing highwaymen or Molly Hooper. Or alcohol, a small nagging voice said in her head, and she felt her doubts flood back. Did she really want to share her life with an absent-minded ex-alcoholic lesbian? Wasn't she going too fast, falling too hard? Maybe she should tell Harry to back off, that she needed time to think things through...

Where was Harry anyhow? They'd fallen asleep wrapped round one another, but Harry must have slid out at some point. Was she having second thoughts? What might she be doing? She'd obviously been finding it hard to stay sober last night. Oh God, maybe she'd fallen off the wagon again.

She stumbled into the bathroom, washed her face. Tried to get the Molly she saw in the mirror looking more poised, not a hapless romantic heroine. And then she walked into the kitchen to find Harry was standing by the cooker stirring something. Her T-shirt and cargo pants would have had Connie Prince turning over in her grave, but she looked so happy, like a kitten that had just worked out how to chase its tail.

"I hope you like p-porridge," she said. "I'm n-not a very good cook, but I do m-make good porridge. I got it explained to me by the world p-porridge making champion. It's all about stirring p-properly and the right kind of oats. You know they used to live on this in the Highlands: they'd make a big batch and then stick it in a p-porridge drawer, and take squares of it to eat cold later. Only I'm n-not going to m-make you eat it like that, and if you want you can have m-maple syrup with it, even if that's only authentic if you're Canadian-Scots."

"You've been very busy," said Molly.

"I always wake up early, do m-my best work then, so there's space to eat on the living room table now. If you'd like a shower, this'll be ready in about ten m-minutes."

***

Molly had occasionally had a man cook her a decent breakfast after she'd spent the night with him. She'd never been offered porridge and maple syrup, and a surprisingly interesting discussion on the history of the sugar trade, which ended up with her trying to remember what she knew about forensic dentistry deductions from tooth decay. It was bewildering sometimes, being with Harry, but you couldn't say it was dull.

Then she looked at her watch and groaned. She was barely going to make it to Barts' in time.

"I'm sorry, Harry, I have to go."

"That's fine. Are you free sometime this week?"

"I'm...I'm not sure. I...if you phone me later, I'll know what things are going to be like at work." Molly scribbled down her number.  "I, I would like to go out with you again, it's just..." She couldn't think how to end that sentence.

"I p-promise next time it won't be a book launch," Harry said. "I don't blame you if you n-never want to see a historian again. But I was so grateful that you were there last night, because I was very, very close to starting drinking again."

"I guessed."

"They warned me that I m-might relapse when I was hungry, angry, lonely or tired," said Harry doggedly. "They should have had an extra warning about n-needing to avoid book launches."

"Will you be OK today?" Molly asked.

"It's a good day," Harry said smiling. "I don't n-need to drink on the good days." And then she went on hurriedly. "But you should p-probably go right n-now, because otherwise there are all sorts of things we'll end up doing that you m-might regret later." She gave Molly one quick maple-syrupy kiss, and let her out of the flat.

*** 

Molly hadn't been that surprised when she got a phone call from Harry mid-morning. She had been surprised when Harry had announced: "Would you like to go the theatre tonight? I'm at the half-price ticket booth and they've got Les M-Miserables, or M-M-the Abba one."

"I've seen both," said Molly. "Which would you prefer?"

"If we go to Les M-Miz I'll complain about the historical inaccuracies and you won't like that. But I've heard that M-Mamma Mia has some very interesting insights into how women bond-"

"It's got really good songs, as well," said Molly. "I think you'll like it."

"Right, I'll get the tickets now. The show's at 8.30, so if I m-meet you at 8.15 at the Prince of Wales theatre, is that OK?"

"I'll meet you there at 7 pm," said Molly firmly. "Or as soon after it as you can manage. We need to eat something before the show."

"You're absolutely right, M-Molly. I'll see you at seven. Bye."

You couldn't resist Harry, Molly thought, as she put her phone away. Well, she could, but it didn't seem worth it. Whatever else happened, things were never going to be boring again.

***

Halfway through Sunday morning, and Molly had the house mostly tidy. Just her bedroom left to sort out. She could go out this afternoon, she told herself, as she changed the sheets.  Go over to Dulwich perhaps, to the Gallery. Or maybe into central London and buy some new books, since she was going to have extra shelf space. Go along to Foyles; she could sit in the café there, maybe get talking to someone. Some women did that: a chance to meet a nice man, a nice woman. But she didn't want anyone else: she just wanted Harry, as long as she was sober. Harry had spoiled her for unsuitable men and unsuitable women.

It was incredible how much stuff had accumulated in her bedroom, She lay on the floor and started to pull out the things that had somehow got under the bed. Socks, a pair of slippers, several ballpoint pens. And then she fished out the last item – an issue of the English Historical Review – and found herself bursting into tears. 

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kalypso_v
Oct. 6th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
Dr Harriet Watson, Molly abruptly realised, probably knew how to take off any woman's garment of the last 300 years.

What an asset!

Is there an echo of John and Sherlock escaping the crime scene at the end of the pilot version of A Study in Pink in Molly and Harry escaping the threat of dinner at the end of the book launch?
marysutherland
Oct. 10th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
I have a feeling I mentioned in a previous fic that Harry has also learnt a few tricks from reading eighteenth century pornography. Though knowing Harry, it's only the best positions for sexual congress in a stagecoach or something else impractical.

Yes, I was thinking a bit of the "I'm his doctor" bit in the pilot, although it's typically Molly that she doesn't expect anyone to believe she's one.
fengirl88
Oct. 6th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Harry knows how to make proper porridge? explains a lot...

*becomes briefly nostalgic about porridge drawers*
marysutherland
Oct. 10th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
Harry knows how to make proper porridge? explains a lot...

Well, probably how she hasn't completely finished herself off from malnutrition. But I thought even a woman who is an absent-minded and impractical academic couldn't get away with the complete domestic incompetence a male professor could.

I think nostalgia for porridge drawers is slightly worrying. Do you have a particular reason for that? When I read about those I mentally logged them as reason 254 for why I'm glad I wasn't a Highlander.
fengirl88
Oct. 10th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
I never had a porridge drawer (though I don't dislike cold porridge). but talk of them was part of a fairly happy bit of living in Scotland.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )