Summary: Molly tells Sherlock's story in fairytale form to the children in paediatrics
Warning: Post-Reichenbach feels in the end.
A dark and gruesome afternoon after an accident involving 13 cars, resulting in 7 deaths and 9 injured, Molly Hooper found herself at the end of her shift. The young woman tossed the gloves she had been using into the trash, shoving her labcoat into her backpack as she made her way through the double doors leading to sweet freedom.
The rain made odd patterns on the large windows in the hallway and the silence was deafening in inexplicable ways. A steady ringing sounded through her ears, a result of talking to co-workers with the radio on one minute, and walking in complete silence the next with only her footsteps to provide reassuring sounds.
Before she would make her way home to indulge herself in soap series, take-away dinner and her cats, she made a note to stop by paediatrics, just like she normally did. The chance that she would be having children of her own anytime soon was slim, but merely speaking to those wonderful little creatures made her smile. Children were truly remarkable little humans: their imagination reached into the infinite and their hopes and dreams were as naïf and as far from reality as they could get, but that was exactly the interesting part to them. They could handle the worst of stories just by deforming it into their own personal fairytale. Surely that was a skill some adults would deem themselves blessed with if they had it, but the horrors of the real world, when one understood those, were beyond the decreased power of imagination adults possessed.
The greeting Molly received from her little friends was heart warming and made her smile immediately. Nowhere else did she feel so accepted and admired as with the children of paediatrics. Most of the kids had been diagnosed with serious diseases, promising them their own hospital bed for a time period that was far too long. The remarkable thing was that those children knew they were sick and how serious it was, they were so mature about it yet they managed to keep their childish ignorance and innocence at the same time.
“Molly!! You came!” A blonde girl, Janette, chirped upon seeing the young lady stand in the doorway. All the children in the room, 3 boys and 4 girls, were already in their beds ready for when their dinner would arrive. None of them couldn’t be older than 9 years old, it was truly sad.
“Of course. I couldn’t wait to see all of you. How’s everyone been?” Molly asked with a smile while she sat down besides Janette on the hospital bed, looking around the room to see if there were any new faces. There was one, a little boy with dark brown curly hair and blue eyes. The little boy seemed shy and had his covers pulled up to his nose.
“We’ve been fine... all fine! But... but Molly!! Are you going to tell us a story again??” A small, dark haired girl by the name of Tara cried out in enthusiasm. Molly chuckled at the round of ‘yeaah!!’ that single statement started. It was true that upon every visit, Molly would tell them a nice little story before dinner, something which they could dream of while they were sleeping and would temporarily ease their stay in the hospital.
“Yeah! Ethan, you’ll love Molly’s stories! They are the best!” A boy next to the new one, Ethan, said. The boy that spoke was called Gerard, Molly remembered. ‘So there were Gerard and Ivan, the boys that were already in, and then there is the new boy, Ethan.’ Molly mentally repeated. ‘Then there are the girls Tara, Janette, Lindsey and Jonna.’ The pathologist smiled at remembering every single one of the happy little faces.
“Alright then, I’ll tell you all a story.” She agreed, though what was she going to tell them? All the tales that she remembered from her own childhood had all been told already and Molly doubted they would appreciate a repeating of those. No, she had to come up with something cleaver.
That is when she remembered her earlier thoughts, about how children take every day news, even the worst of it, and deformed it to something less awful with their beautiful imagination. It was worth a try.
So what could she tell them? She looked around, her eyes taking in the excited expressions... and the slight distrustful glance Molly got from the new boy, Ethan. Those dark curls and blue eyes, examining her, it reminded her of someone. She knew just what to tell them.
“A long, long time ago, in a kingdom named Londania, in a little village, lived queen Holmes. She was loved by all her subjects and they were as loyal to her as they could be. The villagers viewed the good queen as the mother of them all, an honest, wise woman who knew exactly what they needed.
The queen’s husband had gone to travel for years and she was left with two sons. The eldest, Mycroft, was a respectable young man. He had good manners, was loved by the villagers and was always ready to help. He stood by his mother while she reigned the village and a few villages beyond that. Mycroft was proud to be royal and the villagers spoke of him as a great future king.
The youngest Holmes was called Sherlock. A reckless young man with a head of messy curls. By some he was feared, for he had the coldest eyes they had ever seen. The colour reminded them of pure eyes and they seemed free of emotion. Sherlock was one to get into trouble. He was on top of all the scandals, deaths and weird happenings. If no one else knew what had happened, he would come and look at it. That prince was incredibly intelligent and was rather out in the field than kept in the castle.
The queen spoke to Mycroft about locking the youngest in the tower, provide him with food and everything he needed until he knew how to behave and take his role as royal serious. Sherlock hated being royal, and Mycroft doubted that would change it.
“Do not dread, mother.” Mycroft spoke. “I know just what will fix your dear boy.”
The next day, Mycroft took Sherlock deep into the forest, deeper than they’ve ever been. He took the young prince there with the excuse that mother needed special berries that only grew in a certain place. Sherlock had spoken out his suspicion but followed quietly after that.
When they were deep enough into the forest, Mycroft told his brother to look at a certain spot, and while the latter did, the eldest Holmes ran away, back the palace, leaving Sherlock all alone in the forest.
Poor Sherlock wandered alone through the forest, in an area he had never been before. How was he ever to find his way back?
After an hour of wandering, feeling as lost as can be, the young prince sat down by a large tree. However, as soon as his back was pressed against the tree, it seemed to move! Hastily, Sherlock jumped up and whipped around, watching in awe as the tree opened his eyes and a mouth came into clear view.
The tree looked down at Sherlock and smiled.
“My name is Michael. Young prince of Twotwoonia, what brings you to my forest?” The tree asked.
“I am lost, Michael. My brother left me in the forest by myself. I don’t know where to go!” The prince answered honestly.
“How do you know he left you here?” Michael asked in return, a slow frown appearing on his wooden face.
“I examined his footsteps and he was clearly running. However, his footsteps vanish after a while and I lost the track so I couldn’t find my way out! Mycroft did a good job at leading me the wrong ways.” Sherlock answered with a pout. “Can you find the way out?”
“Young prince, this is my forest. I know every tree, bush, flower and creature that lives here. I watched it grow and learn. Bright young trees, god I hate them. I can find the way out... but only when you are ready.”
“What do you mean? I am ready! I want to go back!” Sherlock stomped his foot on the ground and kicked a stone. The small rock hit another tree and a few birds flew in panic.
“You are not, Sherlock. You have no respect for the wood or the people around you. I know the village as well as I know my forest. You need someone to teach you the good ways. You need a guide.” The tree spoke calmly with obvious wisdom.
“Who’d want to guide me?” Sherlock asked bemused, his face had fallen into a glare. The tree smiled and pointed one of its large branches to the left.
“Walk that way. Follow the purple flowers and wait until you reach the pond. There, you will meet your guide.” Michael spoke before closing his eyes and turning around again, resuming his special kind of sleep.
Sherlock did not bother to ask for more information, he was sure he would not receive it anyway. He walked the direction which Michael had been pointing to, spotting the purple flowers right away and following their trail through the forest which seemed to become more bushy and moist the further he walked.
Finally he pushed aside a few low hanging branches, revealing a pond. A rather large one too! A most enchanting waterfall filled the open space with the sound of streaming water. Birds flew through the air, playfully chasing each other and a few bunnies hopped past Sherlock’s feet, but he didn’t notice. Sherlock’s eyes were looking only for the one that would be his guide. The prince never noticed such beauties the world had to offer, he was always occupied with his thoughts, with his endless problems.
A rustle came from the other side of the pond and Sherlock caught onto it, running towards the other side quickly and diving into the bushes that he had heard the rustling coming from. The rustle had been too loud for a small animal and he had yet to see any large ones.. though perhaps that would be his guide. Instead of finding a deer, he found himself rolling over the ground with a young man of small posture. Sherlock pinned the other down in case he would be putting up a fight. The man had messy blonde hair and dark blue eyes. His skin was lightly tanned, though not from sunbathing, and he wore self-made clothes in brown and green colours.
“Who are you?!” Sherlock demanded.
“Johnathan.” The boy confessed quickly, trying to struggle free. “Get off me.” He cried out. Sherlock saw, after a quick scan, that the boy would not oppose a threat to him, so he released him.
“Gladly, you’re dirty.” The prince commented, huffing.
“You’re rude.” Johnathan pouted.
“So I’ve been told. Are you the guide?” The youngest Holmes demanded to know.
“What guide? Do you need a guide? Are you lost?” Johnathan asked after blinking.
“Obviously I am wasting my time here.” Sherlock grumbled before getting up and walking away. Johnathan, however, was interested in this strange boy now and ran after him.
“No, no! Hold on! How do you know you are wasting your time if you don’t know me?” He asked curiously. Sherlock stopped and turned around.
“I know your brother as an addiction with eating berries, not just any berries, but the kind that make you hallucinate. I know you haven’t had a home in a long time. I know you spend your days hunting for food and taking care of your brother but you won’t let him help him even though you clearly need it, maybe because you have a problem with his eating habits. You limp when you walk and people have told you it’s psychosomatic. They are right, I’m afraid. That’s enough to be going on, don’t you think?” The prince spoke to the blonde boy in almost monotone. Johnathan’s eyes nearly bulged out of his sockets and he stammered for a moment.
“H-Ho..... Ho....... How did you know that?!” He asked blinking, looking clearly fascinated. Sherlock was taken aback by this, no one had ever showed interest in his methods.
“I.. observe.” He answered unsure.
“Nooooooooo..... really though. Come on! You can tell me!” Johnathan pushed, sitting down on the grass by the pond with legs folded in front of him. Sherlock paused for a moment before sitting down with a smile.
“Alright then. First of all, your fingernails. They have trace of purple juice and pulp from a very distinctive berry, one that has been known to cause hallucinations. Some traces are fresh, but some have been there for quite some time even though you tried to wash them out. However, you show no traces of having used or eaten them, besides you picked at your nails just a little while earlier, suggesting you don’t like the feeling of it even though you know what it is. When eating those berries it would be too tempting not to lick them away. So someone close to you would have an addiction to them and you handle the berries sometimes. Then there is your clothing. It’s too big on you and it looks worn, you can’t have been wearing it for that long if it is still so big on you so it must’ve had a previous owner. Who would you wear clothes of, most likely a family member, a close one. These are rather new design even though hand-made, so a young man’s clothes, that crosses out father. It’s unlikely you’ve got any extended family or they’d be helping you hunting and they would’ve been close by, so brother it is. You have been exposed to the sun for a long time but you haven’t been sunbathing, it’s too warm to do anything else and you haven’t been swimming. Besides with you limp you would avoid doing anything else, so you must have done something necessary, like getting normal food. The fact that you don’t have a home is clear from the deep marks of twigs and the deep stains of grass on your clothes and skin. You’ve been sleeping in the open for quite a while. You limp while you walk but you don’t sit down when you’re not walking and you’re not leaning on anything, as if you forgot about it. Plus, there is no trace of a scar or any other injury on your leg.” By the end of Sherlock’s speech, Johnathan’s cheeks were a bright red and his eyes sparkled in admiration, a wide grin on his face.
“That was amazing!!!” He cried out.
“You think?” Sherlock asked with a frown, not used to taking complements.
“Yes, of course!! It was extraordinary! Quite so! You are amazing!!” Johnathan bounced on the grass in an excited fashion. Sherlock smiled and leaning forward, perhaps this boy wasn’t so bad.
“That’s not what people usually say... usually they tell me to piss off.” He said chuckling. “Did I get it right?”
“Almost. I don’t have a brother... I have a sister. Who does have an addiction to those berries, yes.” Johnathan admitted.
“Aah, there’s always something!” Sherlock grumbled almost annoyed. “You did get hurt though. Not in the leg...”
“I did! In the shoulder.” Johnathan confessed, lowering his shirt collar over his left shoulder, revealing a nasty scar. “A bear bit right through it.. I managed to survive when it thought I was dead.”
“You got lucky. I’ve never seen any bears near my village.” The prince commented, pulling at the grass beneath his legs.
“Where do you live?” Johnathan asked interested. “Do you live in the woods too?”
“No. No, I’m lost. My brother, he dumped me here and a tree told me to go to this place and find myself a guide, not sure what for.” Sherlock answered, pulling the grass out more violently. “I live in the village outside the woods.”
“Never knew there was one. This has always been my home.” The blonde said, looking around his home before looking back at Sherlock. Suddenly, he jumped forward and pulled Sherlock’s hands up high in the air.
“Uhm... everything alright?” Sherlock asked confused, looking up to Johnathan with a frown.
“DON’T... pull at the grass like that. I see now why Michael send you here. I believe I am your guide, though not in the way you hope.” Slowly, Johnathan lets the dark-haired boy’s hands go. “You know nothing of the life in everything, do you? You would certainly respect it more otherwise.”
“Listen, John. Can I call you John? Don’t bother answering, I will anyway. I don’t plan on staying here long enough to... find the meaning of life or whatever it is you are on about. I want to be out of this forest and in my own bed, do you understand?” the spoilt prince snarled at John. Surprisingly, the forest boy just stood there and took it which was something that Sherlock wasn’t used to. He was used to creating fear, not have someone smile back at him. What was it with this boy that was so intriguing? Normally, Sherlock would be stalking away as fast as he could for he found such people insufferable.
“I can’t, I’m sorry. I don’t know the way out. By the way, what’s your name?” John asked, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Sherlock sighed and rubbed his head.
“Right, should’ve known. If you never even knew there was a village. How big is this forest?” He asked, looking around. A small smirk settled on the prince’s face as he turned back to John.
“The name is Sherlock Holmes.” He spoke with a wink. John grinned and nodded.
“That’s a good name! Sherlock.... Sherrrrrrrrrrlock..” the boy rolled the name over his tongue, putting extra emphasis on the R with an amused smile. “Nice to meet you, Sherlock. The forest? Well there are days I believe the forest goes on endlessly, but that can’t be true, can it? Besides... the trees say otherwise.” At that, it was Sherlock’s turn to look amused and he snorted sarcastically.
“The trees tell you otherwise? Are you sure you haven’t eaten any berries, John?” He said, looking at the blonde as if he had grown a second head.
“Sherlock, you are so smart. You do have one problem, though, and that is that you only use your vision. You hear, but you do not listen.” John said, shaking his head.
“And you see but you do not observe, so I think we’re even.” Sherlock was quick to remark. John sighed when he realised this wasn’t going to go anywhere, so he grabbed Sherlock’s wrist and took him through the forest, his own feet graciously shifting between stones and twigs while the prince somewhat stumbled over different bumps on their way... on a road which apparently only John saw.
“Ok then. I’ll teach you how to listen and you’ll teach me how to observe. How about that?” John offered, walking them around until they were in a more quiet place, away from the roaring sound the water of the waterfall made.
“Seems about fair. As long as it gets me out of here.” Sherlock mumbled while looking around. He realised too late that they had stopped and he bumped into John, only now noticing just how much smaller the other was in comparison to himself. John came up to his chin, or perhaps his lips, but certainly not higher.
John turned around to face him and looked at him seriously. He gently reached for the prince’s head and guided him down until the other’s ear was pressed against the blonde’s chest.
“Eeh.. John?” Sherlock asked confused, not used to having physical contact with anyone and this seemed a little too close for his liking.
“No... sssssssht. Listen. Listen carefully.” John persisted, keeping his hands firmly on Sherlock’s head to show him that he wasn’t going to let go until the prince did as he was asked to do.
Sherlock sighed in defeat and concentrated on his hearing although what was to hear in John’s chest was beyond him. Slowly but surely the steady beating became more and more clear when he concentrated on it and he grew silent. Of course he knew that people had hearts, but he never took the time to listen to it before. The beating was even and quite loud now. Ta-thump... ta-thump... ta-thump. It was the sound of live.. of John being alive and breathing and functioning.
“Your heartbeat.” Sherlock spoke softly. At this, John guided Sherlock’s head back before pulling him by the arm to one of the trees. The blonde forest boy mentioned towards the dark wood of the tree in expectation. Sherlock frowned because he knew that trees didn’t have a heartbeat. Was John trying to make him believe in a fairytale?
Shaking his head, the prince pressed his ear against the bark anyway and concentrated on anything he could hear. He felt completely ridiculous, but he told himself he might as well amuse John a bit. Surely enough, though, he did hear something. Water... water trickling, streaming slow, steady. The wood was cracking below his ear, or so it seemed but he could definately hear water in there and water meant life.
“Water. Water is life.. this is the sound of the life of a tree?” He looked for confirmation at John, who to his relief, nodded.
“Very good. That is only the beginning of listening. When you know that something is alive, you will respect it more automatically, because it’s only fair. They respect you as well.” John explained.
“That’s all really fascinating, and I’ve never heard a tree’s life before but this all sounds like witch talk to me, John. This really isn’t going to make me a better man.” Sherlock replied with a roll of the eye because in his mind, this was still completely worthless.
“Earlier you pulled the grass out of the ground and I stopped you. Why do you think I did that?” John continued as if he was just ignoring Sherlock. The latter huffed in annoyance.
“How should I know?” He snapped, but John remained calm.
“Because you don’t give creatures the chance to safe themselves. Beneath the grass are thousands of little insects which form a tasty snack for the birds. They have an instinct to hide themselves but they should get the chance for that! You’re tearing away their home.”
“That all sounds utterly sentimental, John. Seems more your area.” Sherlock spoke, unfazed by this knowledge. John rolled his eyes and grabbed Sherlock’s hand tightly in his, tugging him along closer to the waterfall again. He knew something that might make Sherlock think otherwise. Perhaps Sherlock was one of those that need to fear the big animals and respect them first before he can respect the little ones.
John tugged him along until they heard a rustle in the bushes. The blonde boy smiled and released the prince’s hand, reaching into the bushes after checking and pulling out a little bear cub, holding it out to Sherlock.
“Look! Isn’t it precious? They are quite young, from last spring.” John exclaimed in joy and pulled the cub into his arms, cooing and stroking it. The tiny bear seemed to, quite surprisingly, enjoy it.
Sherlock, on the other hand, was gulping and looking around. If this was the size of a baby bear, what would the grown up version be like. He got his answer when he heard a roar from behind him. The hairs at the back of his neck were rising and all colour drained from his face as he turned around to face an incredibly large mother bear, who did not look too happy.
“J-John....” He stammered the name of the forest boy who had far more experience with this than he did. Sherlock stepped closer to John, gulping and reaching out to grab a hold of the boy in fear.
“Oh don’t worry, she was looking for her cub.” John reassured Sherlock as if meeting a bear was daily business for him. Carefully he put the cub in front of the mother and nudged it towards the mother bear, who smelt her baby and turned around promptly, walking away.
John grinned wide and turned around to see a ghostly pale Sherlock standing there.
“Tha-... that was... a bear. A real bear... big and... teeth. Jooohhhnnn????!!!!” He stammered before looking helplessly at John, who guided him into a sitting position.
“Ssshh... it’s alright, Sherlock. I wouldn’t get you into unnecessary danger. You have to understand that even with big, wild animals.. when you are nice to them and oppose no threat, there is a chance that they will not oppose a threat to you. That mother was afraid her baby would be attacked. She would do anything to protect it... it’s those emotions that need to be understood for you to be a better man.” He explained calmly. Sherlock noticed how full of wisdom John seemed. It was a different kind of wisdom those he had experienced before, it was the wisdom of the heart.
“John, I think I may need you as a guide in my life.” He admitted truthfully. “Come with me.”
John blinked, looking around the forest and back to Sherlock.
“To do what? What do you do in your village?” He asked.
“I investigate things. Sometimes people end up missing, or killed... or they just died. Some people have affairs. When they need help knowing what happened, they ask me. Detective, I call it. Consulting Detective. Our village’s knight... Lestrade. He is incredibly incompetent and makes a lot of mistakes. Usually he sets his men to investigate but they are rubbish. Especially Anderson.” Sherlock explained. “You can have normal clothes that fit you. You would be great to have around.”
“Wow... that sounds exciting!” John said with a smile. After a few seconds of thinking, he rubbed his arm and stood up. “But I can’t... my sister. I have to keep her alive.”
“She can come along! Or you can go back to check up on her every so often.” Sherlock tried, standing up as well. “Come on, John! You’re not going to let an opportunity like that pass, are you?”
John didn’t want to let it pass, he really didn’t. He wanted to run away with Sherlock. He never met a man so intriguing, so intelligent and so interesting. He wanted to find out more and more about this man until he couldn’t anymore... until he knew everything. That was a nice thought, knowing everything, but John saw in Sherlock’s eyes that, as he thought his forest was, there was an infinite amount of things to find out about the detective.
“I’ll come.” He finally spoke with a grin. Sherlock grinned right back at him and grabbed his hand. Together they ran, no longer alone and no longer lost. They ran and ran, past trees and bushes until the forest itself seemed to point to the way out. John and Sherlock... Sherlock and John, an unmatched pair of brilliant people. The brains and the heart. They ran back all the way to Sherlock’s castle together. And they...”
Molly trailed off in her story. All the children looked expectantly at her, leaning forwards on their beds. A few nurses had even gathered by the door, listening breathlessly to her story.
“And what happened then?” Jonna asked in a whisper.
“Did they live happily ever after?” Ethan asked, speaking up for the first time.
Molly looked around the group, a soft smile spreading over her face.
“What do you think? Of course they did.” She answered just as softly. Everyone let out a breath in relief it seemed. Then, it was all over. Everyone was going on with their usual business.
Molly said her goodbyes to the children in the room before walking out. She closed to door to paediatrics and sighed. Her heart wrenched and she had to fight away her tears. The young pathologist was about to walk away when she saw a familiar figure seated against the wall, looking up with sad eyes to hear... eyes that contained tears.
They stared at each other for a long time, time ticking slowly and the beat of the clock drumming in their ears. The rain seemed to splash against the windows harder than it did before, or perhaps it was just every sound intensifying suddenly.
The seated figure stood up and Molly’s heart broke at the expression on the man’s face. She wanted to cry, wanted to run out of St. Bart’s hospital and not look back. She wanted to drown herself in ice cream.
“They didn’t live happily ever after, did they?” John asked in a broken voice. A tear escaped from Molly’s eye and she swallowed painfully.
“It would break their hearts if I told them that.” ‘Like it broke mine.’