Chapter 1: Prologue
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
They were no longer children, and they were horribly aware of that fact. She was nearly eighteen and both boys were twenty-one. And, in a few short days, they would dock in New York and be thrust into the dull world of elite gentlemen and their child-rearing wives. Even for men as well-bred as they were and women as studious and soft-spoken as she, it was natural to want to be young and to feel young while they still had that option--and that was how they found themselves on the deck of the ship, well past midnight, revelling in the childhood they secretly missed.
The night air was cold, but not unbearable. The two men – nay, boys, for now – had brought the blankets from their too-elegant suite and the three friends used them to shield themselves from the cold breeze over the deck of the magnificent ship. The girl lay on her stomach, wrapped in a blanket. The two boys stood on either side of her as their violins conversed with one another. The girl laughed, looking back and forth between her two companions as their music blended melodically with the sound of the sea. It was the most peaceful night they could have imagined; better than a full night’s sleep on the ship’s grand beds. The taller boy set down his violin and bow and sat down next to the girl, encouraging his friend to continue playing. The girl turned onto her side, propping her head up in her hand. God, her brother would be furious if he could see her now. The boy’s voice was soft when he spoke, soft enough that their companion couldn’t hear.
“What are you thinking about?”
“How you’re the better violinist.”
The boy looked away so that the girl couldn’t see the slight smile. “That’s nothing worth wasting time thinking about – I thought that’s always been fairly obvious. You didn’t answer my question.”
“You could just say thank you.”
The boy stared at her for a moment. “Thank you,” he replied, although it came across more as a question than a true thanks. “Now, tell me, what are you thinking about?”
The girl sat up and folded her legs beneath her skirt. She clutched the blanket to her chest. “I – I don’t think I want to go to New York.”
The boy smirked. “That isn’t true at all – you cannot wait to arrive in New York. You crave the large city, a place where you can escape and be your own person. What you do not want is to be married off, and who can blame you for that?”
“What do you have to fear of marriage? It would not be you forced to carry and rear children you have no desire to have.”
“I consider myself married to my work.”
“And what exactly would your work be?”
He paused a moment before responding. “I haven’t quite figured that out yet. A detective, perhaps.” He brushed a strand of hair out of the girl’s eye. She turned her head away from his touch. He hadn’t expected that. “You’re angry with me – bitter at my maleness.”
The girl looked shocked. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You envy my ability to do what I choose and have no one think less of me for it,” he stated, “And I don’t think any less of you for it. It’s quite unfair, that your femininity prevents you from doing what you are good at. There’s no science to say that a woman’s brain is any less capable than a man’s. Truly, the best solution is to do what you want. Your brother does not own you, whatever he may think.”
“But my sister…”
“Take her with you.”
The music stopped. The second boy sat down with them. “The sun will rise soon,” he pointed to the violet glow on the horizon. “We should get back before anyone else wakes up.”
The girl smiled. “So it’s tomorrow, now. Today’s over, and we missed it.”
The first boy stared at her, not understanding the joke, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not tomorrow, it’s today. It’s just... yesterday’s tomorrow.”
“Regardless, April the thirteenth, 1912 is over and there’ll never be another one.”
The tall boy sprung up onto his feet, his dark curls moving in the wind. “Then carpe diem. Let us seize April the fourteenth.”
The other boy smiled up at him. “Live it as though it was our last, shall we?”
The dark haired boy grabbed the girl’s hand and helped her up. “We’ll find you after breakfast. And we’ll seize today. Or yesterday’s tomorrow, if you so prefer.”
She laughed. “So goodnight, then?”
“Hah! But we can see the sun.”
“So good morning, then?”
“Good morning, and may you dream soundly.”
White Star Line
Permission granted to come aboard the White Star Line's
Ismay, Imrie & CO.
34 Leadenhall Street, London
10 Water Street, Liverpool
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
Disclaimer: We don't own BBC Sherlock or White Star Line's RMS Titanic. The first we apologise for. The second, not so much.
A young woman sat on a trunk, her legs folded underneath her. The room around her was bare; all her possessions, along with those of her siblings, were packed into two large trunks. Everything else had been sold. It had been the most logical thing to do. They could have kept all their belongings, purchased third-class tickets and not have had room for anything. Instead, the three orphans sold everything they knew they couldn’t carry and purchased respectable second-class tickets aboard the RMS Titanic. She remembered handing her brother the remaining money for their tickets not so long ago.
She wrapped the scarf tightly around her head and face, protecting herself from the harsh March winds and the harsher glares of her peers. She clutched the money tightly in her hand. Getting Lottie to their aunt in New York was worth anything. It was worth this. She pulled open the door to their home and stepped into the kitchen. Lottie sat at the table drawing. She noticed the girl was in a light blue dress, one she herself had worn so many years ago. It looked better on the younger girl. Anyways, it had been too long since she had seen Lottie in anything but black. Mourning was over. Their father was gone. It was time to go to their aunt’s now, start a new life in New York. It was nice to see her sister in blue. So fresh and young, it would be a shame to hide in mourning clothes. Lottie looked up and smiled.
“Henry! She’s home!”
Heavy footsteps made their way across the house. The young woman smiled nervously at her sister, who had gone back to her drawings. A tall, well-built young man walked into the kitchen, grabbing the money from the woman’s hands.
“How’d you get all of this?” he asked, counting the money in his hands.
“I- uh, I sold some, some of my old dresses.”
The man rounded on her.
“Why the Hell – oh, don’t be a baby, Charlotte – would you that? Did you leave anything? Don’t you want a chance of finding a husband in New York? Idiot.”
The woman crossed her arms, annoyed at her brother’s obsession in finding her a husband.
“I - I left a few. I can always get more. In New York. I - I didn’t want to sell the old ones because Lottie deserves something nice. Doesn’t she? To wear on the ship?”
Henry snorted and turned his back on his sisters, counting the rest of the money. Lottie wrapped her arms around her sister and kissed her arm.
“Your dresses wouldn’t have amounted to all of this.”
The young woman sighed and took the scarf off, handing it to her open-mouthed sister. The fresh ends of her hair tickled her neck.
“I – I sold my hair.”
She laughed at the memory, her left hand touching where her shoulder length locks were pinned at the base of her neck. The fingers of her right hand trailed lightly along across the book in her lap. Gray’s Anatomy. It was an old copy with stiff yellow pages and barely attached binding, but it was her most prized possession. The closest she’d ever get to medical school. She bent her fingers at each joint, mumbling the names of the bones, connecting her own body to what she saw in the book’s diagrams.
She ignored the call; he knew how to reach her if he wanted to.
She turned the page of the book. The door opened and Lottie slipped into their bedroom – old bedroom. She quickly hid the book in her bag. She trusted Lottie, but little girls liked to talk.
“Molly, Henry’s looking for –“
“If Henry wants me, love, he’ll get me. Come on, time to put your coat on. We’ve got a ship to catch.”
Both girls jumped at the anger in their brother’s voice.
“Mary Elisabeth Hooper, if you’re not down here in thirty seconds, I’ll take Charlotte and we’ll leave you behind.”
Lottie turned wide-eyed to her sister.
“Oh, Molly! You don’t think he’d leave without you, do you?”
“Come here, little goose.”
Lottie wrapped her arms around her sister’s waist.
“I’m not a goose.”
* * *
Sherlock Holmes was a practical man. If there was anything he truly loathed, it was impracticality and frivolity—the very two things the rest of his family excelled at.
The Holmes had decided that a holiday to America aboard the “unsinkable” ship was a necessary display of their power and wealth, and so it came to be that Sherlock Holmes begrudgingly boarded the RMS Titanic at Southampton on the 10 April 1912 with his brother, his mother and, because Sherlock had absolutely refused to board unless he could come as well, his best friend, John Watson. Lady Holmes had also made certain that Miss Irene Adler and her very close friend, Miss Mary Morstan, would be in attendance.
“Oh, do cheer up, Mr. Holmes. You’re onboard the greatest ship that man has ever created. That, at least, must be a cause for celebration,” Miss Adler smiled knowingly—she was mocking him. She wanted to be onboard this ship no more than he did, just as he wanted to court her no more than she wanted him to—which was to say, not at all. In fact, the two were so averse to the situation at hand that it seemed absolutely ridiculous that their families still viewed the prospect of their marriage in a positive light.
Sherlock did not intend to woo, court, marry, or otherwise engage himself in the company of Miss Irene Adler.
It was obvious that she held no interest for his company either—in fact, it was obvious that she held no interest for the company of any men. Her interest was clearly fixated on her best friend, Miss Mary Morstan, who perhaps reciprocated these feelings, but also seemed to show quite the interest in John Watson who, in turn, had shown quite a bit of interest in her.
Sentiment, what a puzzle it was to Sherlock Holmes. Sentiment was something he could observe and manipulate to his advantage, but also something he would never truly understand.
He glanced down at the passengers on the lower deck—second class passengers, and noted nothing of particular interest, until his eyes came to rest upon a young, brown-haired woman who seemed to be mouthing something under her breath as she stared at another woman standing beside her husband who had taken particular care to hide the bruises and other injuries that remained from his latest abuse. Sherlock glanced back at the brown-haired young woman and realized she was mouthing what injuries the woman had and how they could be remedied. A woman who knew how to cure? That was curious. Something seemed to be puzzling her—something she couldn’t quite figure out. Sherlock smirked.
“Oh, Miss Adler, you know how my son can be, sometimes,” Lady Holmes apologised, as Sherlock walked away without a word.
* * *
Molly Hooper leaned against a low wall on the second-class deck. She hadn’t seen her brother since they had left the harbour. As soon as they had settled in, Henry in one room and Molly and Lottie in the other, she had taken Lottie up to the deck. The young girl had immediately surrounded herself with the other children and was throwing a ball around with them. Perfect, sweet little Lottie. The girl just had a way with people, everyone loved her automatically. She looked towards her sister, smiled, and blew a kiss. Molly laughed and waved back.
She looked aimlessly around, hoping to find something interesting to occupy her attention. After a few minutes, she noticed a woman standing not too far away. She was standing with a man – her husband, perhaps? She was completely wrapped in a shawl, despite the fairly nice afternoon. She looked at her husband with fearful eyes and seemed inclined to stay away from him. Odd. Molly watched as the woman moved her hand, wincing as she grabbed something off the chair. Broken fingers. She began murmuring the broken bones to herself. She was used to resorting to this odd behavior. She knew Henry would never let her go to medical school. Diagnosing the apparent injuries of strangers was as close as she would ever get. There was something more to the woman, but she couldn’t place it.
On the first-class deck, John Watson followed after Sherlock Holmes, barely keeping up.
“Sherlock, what on God’s Earth are you – Sherlock,” he grabbed his arm to stop him, as Sherlock began to make his way to the lower deck, “That is the second-class deck.”
“Yes, indeed it is. Problem?”
John looked exasperated, “You can’t just go to the lower deck, Sherlock. It’s just simply not done.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes, swiftly pulled his arm out of John’s grasp and stalked off.
“Bloody hell,” John muttered under his breath, as he followed his friend down to the lower deck.
Sherlock watched the brown-haired woman as he walked towards her – she was still struggling with what she was missing. He almost laughed. It was so obvious, why couldn’t she see it?
“She’s pregnant, likely with another man’s child,” he said, his mouth inches from Molly Hooper’s ear, causing her to jump in surprise as she turned to look at him. She watched as a tall man, not too much older than herself, disappeared into the crowd, dragging a blonde man with him. The blonde man gave Molly an apologetic and confused look before disappearing with his companion.
She turned back towards the couple. Yes, she could see it now. The woman was obviously expecting. She was clearly very early in her pregnancy, but she was certain the stranger was right. But how on Earth did he know it was another man’s child? The idea was preposterous!
She was so confused by the man’s brief and sudden appearance that she didn’t even notice two men close in on either side of her.
“Lovely day, isn’t it, Miss?”
The man on her right couldn’t be more than a few years older than her – maybe Henry’s age. He had dark brown hair and even darker eyes; they weren’t a warm dark, like Lottie’s eyes, but empty windows into nothingness. There was something off about him, but she settled for saying nothing.
“James, but you can call me Jim,” he winked, extending his hand.
Molly bit her lip, staring back and forth between the hand and the strange, strange eyes.
Lottie yanked at her sister’s skirt, looking up with a tear-stained face. Molly immediately dropped to her knees.
“What happened, ducky?”
“My finger.” The girl held up a red finger, her lower lip trembling.
Molly ran her fingers softly over the girl’s digit. “Ow!”
James smirked. “See, this is why little girls shouldn’t play like that. Isn’t it, Seb?”
Molly shot him a glare. How dare he! “Hush, pet, you’re fine. See not broke –“
Over her sister’s head, she saw a pair of light eyes watching her beneath a mop of dark curls. Beside this tall figure was an annoyed shorter man. Blonde. Vaguely familiar. Her breath caught in her throat. The man who had told her about the pregnant woman. Why was he watching her still? James’ gaze followed hers to rest on the same man. Obviously first class, obviously the “mysterious” and brooding type, and obviously had caught Molly’s interest. He raised an eyebrow for just a moment, rolling his shoulders and turning his gaze back to the small child that had run up to her.
“See, girly, you’re fine. Run ‘long now.”
He smiled at Molly. She suddenly felt as though a spider was crawling up her neck.
“Come on, Lottie, love. Let’s sit for a minute, shall we?”
She nodded her head to the men, her throat dry. She grabbed Lottie’s wrist and walked away. When she turned back, James and the other man – Seb, did he say? – were gone. But the other one was still looking at her. She felt her cheeks go red.
“So tell me, Lottie, what happened to your finger?”
* * *
“John, I need you to punch me in the face,” Sherlock said matter-of-factly, turning to face his companion.
“Yes, punch me. In the face. Didn’t you hear me?”
“I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you're speaking, but it's usually subtext.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes, turning to look away from John. “It’s just as well, I suppose.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I don’t believe you could punch me if you tried,” he replied, “Your courtship of Miss Morstan has made you effeminate. Imagine-- in love a woman who’s enamored by another wo-”
Sherlock was immediately interrupted as John punched him square in the nose with enough force to make him lose his footing. Several people around them-- women in particular-- turned to gawk at the commotion. Society's fascination with violence-- it would end them all. John's reaction had been expected, had been exactly the response he’d desired. Now he simply had to wait-- the girl would come to them.
* * *
Molly truly only half-listened as Lottie told the story of her hurt finger. Every few moments, she would look at her sister and nod appropriately, but her attention was focused on the boy who had stopped her before. He had, evidently, given up on watching her and was now having a row of some sort with his companion. What a peculiar man!
“And then I slid down, because the ball was close to the floor! Or is it the deck? Well, I slid down because I wanted to prove that I could catch it, but my hand was too small and my finger–“
“Oh my goodness!” Molly stood up suddenly, causing Lottie to jump. She watched as the blonde boy swung his fist into his companions face, causing both men to tumble to the ground.
“Molly! I haven’t finished my story!”
“Lottie, I want you to stay here. Don’t move.”
But Molly had already run off. At the gate to the first class deck, a man held up a hand, trying to stop her from entering. “Sir, that man is hurt! I must make sure he’s alright.” The man said nothing, simply staring at her. She watched over his shoulder as the man dramatically stood up, looking her in the eye. His eyes were the most magnificent colour – no – colours. She stared at him as he made his way towards the gate.
“If you’ll excuse her, I require this woman’s assistance.” Without a word, the man stepped aside. Sherlock Holmes’ slender fingers reached forward to wrap around the covered wrist of Molly Hooper.
“I’ve been injured,” he stated, “I don’t suppose you could help me, could you?”
Molly suddenly felt lost. What had she been thinking? “What- what do you want me to do about it? Someone's just punched you in the nose, there isn't much I can do."
"You can set it."
Molly looked around, perplexed by the odd conversation. Of course she could, if she had the proper materials, but how could he know that? "Yes, well. With what?"
"Why don't you tell me? Clearly, you're the one with superior medical expertise here--” he gave a wave of his hand to his friend who was just now joining them and about to speak up about how he could handle it, “Hush, John."
Molly had not even noticed that the man’s companion had joined them. Had he not been the one to hit him in the first place? "I - I'm not a doctor, uhm, sir. I haven't any training. Nor supplies."
"No, you're not a doctor, but you do have quite a bit of training. Curious, isn't it? Miss...?"
"Oh, uh, Hooper. Miss Hooper. But, honestly, sir, I don't have any training. I - I left school. This year."
"Then, Miss Hooper," he said, his voice made it clear that he highly disliked referring to people by titles, "If you've received absolutely no training in the field, how is it that you were able to diagnose every single injury that woman possesses, as well as how you could provide the correct treatment for each one?"
She swallowed; she wasn't used to being so formally addressed. "I - I read. Uhm, medical journals, textbooks, um. I'd like to go to medical school, become a proper doctor, but that uhm, my bro- well, I don't think that will happen, sir."
“Sherlock,” he corrected.
“My name is Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, though do call me Sherlock, I loathe being addressed as Mr. Holmes-- I am not my brother.”
Molly nodded. “Right, well, Sherlock, I’m no doctor and I probably won’t ever be one, but I think you’ll survive this particular injury.” She paused and tentatively held out hand. “Molly...I - I’m Molly.”
He nodded. “Yes, of course, I knew that,” he stated, ignoring her outstretched hand.
Her hand dropped back to her side. How? Part of her was scared to ask. “Ho - alright.” She turned to the other boy, who looking slightly uncomfortable and was rubbing his hand, the one that had hit Sherlock. “I - I don’t think I caught your name.”
“John, John Watson,” he smiled, extending his hand, which Molly gladly shook. Irritated by the mandatory social niceties, Sherlock rolled his eyes.
“Yes, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to know why you, Molly Hooper, are so certain that you will never study medicine, when you obviously seem particularly fond of the subject, and honestly quite talented in the field if your earlier actions were typical. Is it because your brother will not allow it, because of a lack of funds, or--ah,” he said, seeing the stunned look on her face as he deduced her reasons, and then pacing with his hands behind his back as he continued, “I see-- it is both. Your parents are recently deceased and left your siblings and yourself with insufficient funds, but a need to get to your remaining family in America-- possibly an uncle or aunt-- and to marry you off to money if the family’s status is to be preserved.” He paused, glancing at her with analytical eyes and simply adding, “And that explains the hair as well.”
“Sherlock,” John warned.
“My... My hair?” she asked, self-consciously reaching a hand up to check her hair.
“It’s shorter than most women would normally keep it. Much shorter. Now, since you were on the second-class deck, I highly doubt that the reason for your hairstyle is lice-- but your family is having extreme financial troubles, so how did you manage to even afford second-class tickets? The only answer that remains is that you must have cut and sold your hair in order to purchase the tickets. I hear that human hair does go for quite a bit on the black market.”
“Oh do shut up, John-- I get enough of that reaction from my brother. It’s not like I’ve said anything that isn’t true.”
John opened his mouth as if to say more, but Molly gave a confused smile and ducked her head, slightly embarrassed. “No, he’s right. We would have had enough for third class tickets, but, I don’t know. We’re leaving our home, the only place we’ve ever known. My sister’s eight, I wanted her to be happy, I suppose. So I sold my hair.” She paused, looking back up. “How did you know about my parents?”
“Simple. You almost said that your brother wouldn’t allow you to study medicine. Why would someone with a father have their brother deciding their future for them? And the lack of a mother was a longer stretch, but it seemed likely, seeing as you seem to be caring for your younger sister on your own-- something that the mother usually does. I knew she was your sister and not your daughter, because she called you by your first name instead of something like ‘mummy’ or the like.”
Molly stared for a moment. When he said it like that, it just seemed so obvious. “Oh. Alright.”
They stood in silence for what felt like far too long, at least as far as John was concerned. He turned to Molly and shot her a friendly smile. “You know, I’m studying to be a doctor. If you have any questions or want to see a book, feel free to ask.”
Molly smiled warmly. She was about to respond when she suddenly clapped a hand to her mouth and turned to Sherlock instead.
“You told me you needed my help, because you were hurt. But, if John is a doctor, why on earth would you request my assistance?”
Sherlock raised an eyebrow at her. “Why, indeed,” he replied before quickly stalking off without an explanation.
John gave Molly an apologetic glance before following his companion. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”
Molly stared after the young men as they walked away. John was quite kind, but Sherlock, what a peculiar man!
“Who was that?” A voice hissed in her ear. She spun around, her brother’s suspicious face looming over her own.
Molly shrugged. She did not feel like speaking with Henry right now. It was not as though she had anything to hide, but a part of her, a very large part, felt tired of constantly telling him everything he wanted to hear.
“Just people, Henry. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.”
“I don’t like them.”
Molly felt a pull on her skirt and looked down to find Lottie leaning against her, staring up at her brother.
“Who don’t you like, Henry?”
He nodded his head towards the two young men, who were now talking with two girls about Molly’s age.
“Them. They’re bad news; Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.”
Molly sat quietly at breakfast, hoping to avoid her brother’s criticism. His constant vocalisation of her need to find a proper husband had multiplied since her encounter with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. She pushed the food on her plate around silently; the only sound at the table was Lottie’s happy humming.
“Don’t hum, Charlotte, it isn’t proper.”
Molly set down her fork. “Oh, hush, Henry-- she’s just a child.”
“She’s eight years old, Mary, and she’s going to be a lady. Perhaps if someone had taught you to behave properly as a child, I wouldn’t be so cursed with a sister of seventeen years who has yet to find a suitor and lacks any sort of prospects.”
Lottie looked back and forth between her siblings. “But Molly’s so happy, Henry. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?”
Molly set a hand on Lottie’s shoulder. “Pet, why don’t you go find your friend, the little girl you were playing with yesterday?”
“Avivit? Is she a Jewess?”
“I don’t know, sir, I didn’t ask.”
“Sounds like one. I don’t want you around that type, Charlotte.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “She’s just a child, for Christ’s sake!” She stood up from the table, pushing her chair in behind her. “Lottie, go find Avivit. It’s a lovely day out.”
“And where do you think you’re going, Mary Elisabeth?”
“On a walk. Perhaps, along the way, I can find a husband or two if it would so please you.”
She walked away without another word. She hated speaking so unkindly to people, especially her own family, but she could no longer stand the constant feeling of inadequacy. It was as though her thoughts, her beliefs, her very essence did not count. Molly Hooper simply was not important. She could not help but wish for liberty from her brother and his obsession with wealth and societal standing. Maybe she should have kept the money she received for her dresses and hair. Perhaps she could have found work somewhere, made enough money to take Lottie away... How sweet that liberty would taste.
She was barely out of the dining hall when a slender hand wrapped around her wrist and pulled her around the corner, away from the window and away from Henry’s constant gaze. John Watson’s voice broke over the sound of the sea and the chattering of passengers.
“You can’t just take a girl away from her chaperone’s view, Sherlock! Your mother will kill us both!”
Sherlock Holmes held up a hand to silence his companion.
“Perhaps if Molly’s chaperone did his job, there would be no need to hide her from him. However, he has clearly upset her and, thus, she is better off without him. Specifically with us.”
Molly smiled, heart racing. Sherlock might be a rather odd fellow, but his heart was certainly in the right place.
“How do you do it?” she asked. “How do you know every little thing?”
“I do not know things, Molly. I simply observe them. It’s quite simple, but most people lack the intellectual capacity to store and connect their observations.”
Molly nodded and turned to walk towards the first class deck, John close behind. He turned back around, shooting a peculiar look at his companion. “Aren’t you coming?”
Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “No, better not. There are people on the first class deck best avoided.”
But John’s remark went unaddressed. “Shall we walk the second class promenade then?”
Molly looked between the two before shrugging her shoulders and making her way back towards Sherlock. John let out a snort of frustration but, after a quick glance from Sherlock, made his way over to join them.
“We have the lifeboats here.” Both men turned to look at her. “I mean it’s...not as spacious. On the second class deck. Because of the lifeboats.”
John nodded, turning to Sherlock. “There’s quite a lot. I heard your mother complaining this morning. She thinks there to be an unnecessary number. I believe she called them ‘clutter.’”
“Yes, well, as usual, Mother’s analysis is completely and utterly incorrect. The number of lifeboats on this ship would only ensure the survival of a little more than half of the people currently aboard it-- and that is without taking into account the delicate sensibilities of those in the upper classes, who would surely insist on there not being the maximum number of people aboard each lifeboat lest someone step on the ends of their new dresses due to lack of space,” he replied with a sneer.
Molly tilted her head slightly to the side. He seemed to have considered the matter a great deal. “Yes, but, aren’t there also the collapsibles? Surely those will allow for more passengers?”
“I’ve already included those in my calculations.”
John looked between his companions- Sherlock’s eyes narrowed in what John was sure was disgust and Molly’s wide in fearful fascination. He shook his head quickly. Of course, as soon as Sherlock appeared to find a female companion he seemed to tolerate, he tried to terrify her. “Stop being so negative, Sherlock. You’re upsetting Miss Hooper.” He seemed to ignore Molly’s whisper of her given name under her breath.
“Molly,” Sherlock enunciated pointedly, “Isn’t afraid, she’s angry-- rightfully so.”
Molly looked up at Sherlock, softly chewing on her lower lip. “Some might call this deck cluttered, but there’s room elsewhere. Could they not sacrifice a little luxury for safety of human lives?”
“Miss Hooper -” he cut himself off at the look of annoyance Sherlock threw his way, “Oh, for Christ’s sake... Molly -- this is what Sherlock does. He calculates things and uses them to make people feel uncomfortable and it is exceedingly ungentlemanly - although it can be argued he’s no gentleman to begin with. We. Will. Not. Sink. This is what he does, he gets into people’s heads when he’s bored.”
“On the contrary-- I’m not bored in the least bit. How could I be when there are so many interesting people aboard this ship?” Sherlock replied in a tone that implied sarcasm.
John rolled his eyes. “Well, as long as we stay among the elite, we’ll just see the same story repeated time after time. It cannot be all that interesting.”
“Anyone can be interesting if you observe them for long enough,” Sherlock replied offhandedly.
Molly bit down lightly on the inside of her cheek. Not everyone. The world can be full of bores. People just tend to overlook us.
* * *
They spent several hours roaming the ship before settling down in some lounge chairs on the deck. Sherlock and Molly sat in a comfortable silence as John watched them, confused as to why Sherlock would pull a second class girl away from her family just to sit in silence. But Sherlock and Molly were looking straight ahead, quite occupied by two of the lookouts climbing up and down the crow’s nest. As one of them made his way down to talk with another man – an officer by the looks of it – Sherlock smirked.
“What’s so funny?”
John looked, but saw nothing as the lookout made his way back up to join his companion.
“I don’t see anything, Sherlock. Just a man with a limp.”
“You see, John, but clearly you don’t observe.”
John repressed a sigh of annoyance at his friend’s favourite explanation for his deductions and, instead, gave him a questioning look. Sherlock sighed. How could John not notice these things?
“Look at the short one’s expression as he watches his friend limp-- he’s proud and simultaneously apologetic.”
“So clearly they are sexually involved.”
“Sherlock!” John was shocked at his friend’s words. He knew there were men who sought the company of other men, but to talk about it in such a casual manner? It was completely inappropriate. “Sherlock you can’t say things like that!” He tried gesturing towards Molly, who was still looking intently at the two lookouts in the crow’s nest.
“Hm? Why not?”
“The – the,” he dropped his voice to a whisper. “The present company, Sherlock.”
Molly laughed quietly, causing both men to look at her. She turned to face them, a slightly embarrassed smile on her face.
“No, John, he’s right. I thought it was obvious, isn’t it?”
Sherlock smiled, clearly pleased with himself. John looked between his two companions. Sherlock turned back to John.
“See, John? Obviously the lack of women on the seas has gotten to them and they have just turned to each other for…companionship.”
Both men turned back to Molly. Sherlock stared. “No?”
“They’re not just bored, Sherlock. They’re clearly having some sort of love affair.”
John rolled his eyes. Sherlock looked mildly insulted by Molly’s doubt.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m not.” Molly sounded frustrated. “Look at the way they keep leaning closer to each other. They just crave the other’s company, be it sexual or not. And they’re terrified of being caught. Notice the way they keep moving away from each other any time there’s a sudden noise.”
Sherlock stared at the young woman. Surely, she could not have noticed something he had missed. Without a word, he leaned over, pushing John off of his chair. John shouted as he hit the ground. Sherlock looked up to see both lookouts jump up and move slightly so that they were over a foot apart. He turned to Molly, incredulously. She grinned.
“See? Now, I wonder how they do it.”
John felt himself go red in the face as he got back up from the ground. “Molly!”
Molly’s jaw dropped slightly as she, too, blushed.
“Oh, no! Not that! I meant hiding it from everyone. No, no, not the- the…mechanics. I mean – well – those are fairly obvi – I just meant the hiding it!”
Sherlock looked amused. John stared at the young woman in shock.
“Molly Hooper, you are no lady.”
Molly knew she should be insulted by that, but, honestly, she just found it funny.
“Well, Mr. Watson, I suppose that it’s a good thing that I’m not in the company of any gentlemen.” She blushed a little more. It was silly, she knew, but she had never felt like this before - never felt this complete freedom. She had never before been able to speak without minding herself. It felt right.
Sherlock nodded. “Well, at any rate, we could use more non-ladies around-- keeps things interesting.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be so sure-- ladies are interesting. Old money always is. That’s where all the scandal is.” If Molly had been red before, it was absolutely nothing compared to the shade of her cheeks now. “No! I don’t mean that - Oh my God. It’s not that I have an issue with high society...I just--”
“Don’t make jokes, Molly. Not your area,” Sherlock cut her off. “And I’d particularly appreciate if you’d refrain from making jokes when you join my party at dinner tonight.”
“But I - wait. Dinner?”
“The grand staircase at, say, eight?”
Molly nodded. Maybe this voyage across the Atlantic would exceed her expectations. Just maybe.
* * *
Sherlock sat in the library--the quietest place he could find that would spare him from distractions-- thinking.
His mind was like an engine, moving quickly and with purpose-- and it would rot without a puzzle to solve. So, naturally, it latched onto the first puzzle it encountered-- Molly Hooper.
She was truly a puzzle-- a woman who, from her exterior, one would be prone to underestimate: modest clothing, simplistic hair, little to no jewelry and a quiet, rather shy expression. The word "mousy" was the first to come to mind when attempting to describe her. And yet, her exterior did not match up with the woman. She had a clinical eye superior to any Sherlock had ever seen. In fact, she had quite the natural talent in medicine-- especially considering the fact that she had received no formal training in the subject-- and she did not shy away from injury and blood, or find it as repulsive as most women were wont to.
She was a peculiarity, and so she had caught his interest.
His thoughts were interrupted by a woman's voice. "Well, Mr. Holmes, I see you've already found a mystery to solve aboard this vessel."
"It's more of a puzzle. Now go away, I'm thinking."
"I never thought I would see the day that Sherlock Holmes would be puzzled by a woman," Irene mused.
He raised an eyebrow. "Miss Adler, you flatter yourself. I would never find you puzzling."
"Oh, I wasn't talking about myself, Mr. Holmes. I was talking about the charming girl from Second Class that you seem to have taken a liking to. Miss Hooper, was it?"
"Molly," he automatically corrected her, "Why on earth would I be puzzled by Molly?"
"Why don't you tell me, Mr. Holmes? I mean, she is quite lovely... And she seems rather free-spirited, which I like. If you're not interested, perhaps I should try my hand?" She gave him the smile of a minx.
"Oh, look, Miss Adler-- there's Lady Duff-Gordon. Haven't you been meaning to speak with her about some lingerie you were seeking? How convenient. Perhaps you should go speak to her now and leave me in peace."
"Perhaps I will," she was still smiling and her voice held a teasing tone, "Perhaps Molly will appreciate the lingerie."
Sherlock simply glared at her, and refused to dignify her statement with a response. "Enjoy solving your puzzle, then, Mr. Holmes," she winked as she walked away.
His mind wandered back to the peculiarity that was Molly Hooper. She was indeed a puzzle, but was she a puzzle he wanted to solve?
* * *
Molly stood beside the clock at the top of the grand staircase, her eyes nervously skimming the crowd below. Henry’s face of barely concealed excitement at her announcement of her supper plans almost made her want to cancel just to spite him. Or perhaps throw herself off the ship in frustration. Her fingers trailed nervously around her waist as she smoothed the deep purple fabric of the gown brought to her room by Sherlock and John earlier that evening. An extra of their friend, a Miss Morstan. She had always heard other girls talk about how lovely and special they felt when they wore nice clothes, but Molly just felt awkward. It reminded her, she supposed, of her childhood, of watching her mother get ready for a night out with her father, before she died and her father gambled away almost everything. She sighed as a blonde woman in a coral gown walked past her, turning her head to smile at Molly over her shoulder. Confused, Molly returned a small smile to the stranger. Where was Sherlock? He told her to wait under the clock. She bit her lower lip. A chill ran down her spine as a slender arm hooked around her own.
“Don’t look so alarmed, Molly, dear. You’re not mine to bite.”
Molly’s eyes widened as she faced the woman leading her down the stairs. She was stunning, long dark hair pinned up delicately, framing her face with an almost mysterious curtain, and a sleek navy gown, embroidered with silver, clinging to her every curve. She smiled.
“Irene Adler. I’m travelling with Sherlock Holmes. He hasn’t mentioned me? How extraordinarily rude.” She eyed Molly, studying her in the borrowed gown. “Well, I must admit you look lovely. You might just look even better in that gown than Mary.”
Irene gestured to the woman in the coral dress who had smiled at Molly before. “Mary Morstan, my companion, currently enduring the courtship of one John Watson.”
Molly couldn’t help but notice the bitterness in Irene’s voice.
“Ah, Molly.” She turned in Irene’s grip to face Sherlock. “Thank you, Irene, but I believe I can escort Miss Hooper from here.”
Irene pouted, batting her eyes as she released Molly. “But we were having such a lovely conversation.”
“I’m not quite sure you and Molly share the same idea of what exactly a ‘lovely’ conversation entails, Miss Adler,” Sherlock replied coolly.
Molly looked between Sherlock and Irene. Why had Sherlock not told her that, in addition to John, he was travelling with a woman? A beautiful woman at that, and one who was apparently unrelated to him. Oh. Irene appeared similar in age to herself. And if Molly’s lack of suitors, with the lack of attention paid to her family, was so problematic, she couldn’t imagine that a woman such as Irene would be allowed to be publicly without suitors. She glanced back towards the woman with a small smile. “No, she is quite kind. I’m surprised you didn’t mention her before.”
Irene gave Sherlock a victorious smirk and Sherlock quirked an eyebrow at her, looking completely unamused by what Irene seemed to be finding incredibly entertaining. Molly looked up to see Sherlock’s lip turn down slightly before returning to a straight line.
“Are you alright, Sherlock? Ha-Have I said something to bother you?” She bit her lip, feeling more uncomfortable than she had before.
“Miss Adler, why don’t you go search for Mary? I’m sure you’ll appreciate her company much more than ours ,” Sherlock replied, offering Molly his arm.
Irene quirked her eyebrow. “Very well, I won’t disturb you any longer,” she replied, with an intrigued smile.
Molly allowed Sherlock to take her arm as she watched Irene slink down the stairs, laying a slender hand on Mary Morstan’s shoulder. “You didn’t have to dismiss her so unkindly. It’s unfair to act as though I’m the only one in need of an escort.”
"If anyone will be doing the escorting tonight, Molly, you can rest assured that it'd be Miss Adler,” he said, as he led her to their table, pulling out her chair for her and everything-- like the “proper gentleman” that his mother and Mycroft always urged him to be.
“Oh? Oh!” Molly looked across the table, where Irene was leaning towards Mary, talking to her in a hushed voice, smiling triumphantly each time the blonde girl laughed. She suddenly looked up at Sherlock. Hadn’t Irene said that John was courting Mary? Sherlock said nothing, sitting in the seat next to her. At that moment, an older, balding man, approached their table, accompanied by a young ginger woman. Irene glanced up to see who had joined them, but quickly turned back to Mary, ignoring the newcomers. Sherlock didn’t even bother to stand so that the woman could take a seat.
The man cleared his throat, an action which everyone at the table promptly ignored-- both Molly and Mary throwing each other a hesitant look, wondering whether they should say or do something.
The man glanced towards Molly, confused by her presence at his table, and offended by the fact that he and his companion had been ignored.
“Who are you?” he barked.
Molly looked towards Sherlock before turning her attention back the older man. “M - Molly Hooper, sir.”
The man raised an eyebrow, looking first at Sherlock and then back to Molly. “I don’t believe I have met your family before. May I inquire as to what business your father is in?”
“Her father is in the business of being deceased,” Sherlock responded callously, “As is her mother.”
Molly bit down on her lip. Yes, that was true, but could she not have said so for herself? She put on a smile for the older man. “I have an aunt in New York who has been kind enough to take me in.”
The man raised an eyebrow before extending his hand. “Thomas Adler. And may I introduce my acquaintance, Ruth Elliott.”
Molly lifted her hand, first to Thomas Adler, and then to Miss Elliott, smiling politely. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She sat in her seat, shaking hands as more and more people filled their table. Following Mr. Adler was Sherlock’s mother, Lady Eleanor Holmes, accompanied by a Mrs. Hudson, the former nursemaid of Sherlock and his brother and now a trusted friend of the Lady Holmes. A darker woman slid into the seat behind Mary. Molly looked up expectantly, waiting for someone to introduce her.
“Sally Donovan, Mary and Irene’s private tutor. Mother is ashamed to be travelling with her, although she is quite bright-- a good tutor, does her job.” Molly was surprised at the bitterness in Sherlock’s voice. She dropped her own so only he could hear.
“You don’t seem at all taken with her. Do you agree with your mother’s assessment?”
Sherlock smirked. “I judge people for their minds, not the colour of their skin. I simply find Don - Miss Donovan unpleasant. And I’m sure she would say the same for me. As for Mr Anderson, however -”
Sherlock nodded towards a man who had just arrived at the table. “Mr. Anderson. A complete idiot charged with doing my brother’s every wish. I cannot stand the man, a completely reasonable position. Ms. Donovan on the other hand...”
Sherlock trailed off as two more men approached the table.
"Ah, Mycroft!" John stood up, shaking hands with one of the men. "Mycroft, Mr Lestrade, this is Miss Molly Hooper,” he gave Mycroft a very pointed look that Sherlock did not fail to catch, “Miss Hooper-- Mr Gregory Lestrade, the Holmes's bodyguard, and Mr Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother."
Oh, his brother. Older by the looks of it. Perhaps he was the cause of Sherlock's rescue of Molly from her own brother.
"How do you do?" She asked politely, extending her hand.
Mycroft accepted it, kissing it lightly. "Miss Hooper, a pleasure. I do hope my brother's been a proper gentleman in your presence. He tends to forget himself, even around ladies."
Mr Anderson cleared his throat. Mycroft turned to him. "Miss Hooper joins us tonight, Mr Holmes, from second-class."
Irene's head snapped up, momentarily distracted from her whispered conversation with Mary, and shot Mr Anderson a murderous glare. "I have not a clue what you are implying, Mr Anderson, but, I assure you, regardless of whatever ticket Miss Hooper holds, she is more of a lady than you could ever fancy yourself a gentleman."
She turned her gaze to Sherlock, who silently returned it. It was as though they were having an entire discussion together without uttering a sound. To Molly’s slight discomfort, both Irene and Sherlock's silence trailed into their first course. She played with the napkin in her lap. It was clear to her that neither Irene nor Sherlock had the slightest desire to communicate with the rest of the table. Mary and John both tried weakly to answer the questions posed by Mr. Adler and Lady Holmes, but all conversation was rather shallow. As their second course was cleared away, Lady Holmes turned to Molly.
“Now, Miss Hooper, for what reason are you travelling on this magnificent ship?”
Molly bit her lip, intimidated by the older woman’s piercing eyes. “We – my brother, sister, and I – are going to live with our aunt, our father’s sister, in New York. Are – are you travelling for any particular reason?”
The woman raised her eyebrows at the girl. Of course, the rich needed no reason to display their wealth.
“A holiday was in order. The Titanic seemed as good a ship as any.”
Across the table, Mary looked pitifully at Molly. “I’m visiting my sister, Alice.” She turned to Lady Holmes. “She moved to New York last year with her husband. She just had a child. A boy.”
“And tell me, Miss Morstan, what does your sister’s husband do?”
“He’s a stockbroker, madam.”
“So they have money, your sister and her husband?”
“And is she nursing the child herself? Or has she hired a nurse for him?”
Irene leaned forward, her elbows on the table and her chin perched on her fingers.
“Have you read Freud, madam? The psychologist?” Molly was sure she saw the faintest hint of a smile curling upon Sherlock’s mouth as Irene spoke. “He believes that nursing a child has life-long impacts, regarding sucking at a breast. It leads, he claims, to what he refers to as a more ‘perverse’ fascination with sucking, say, at a man’s- ”
“Irene! That is enough.” Thomas Adler stared at his niece, fury burning through his eyes. Lady Holmes’s face, however, remained unchanged.
“I do believe, Mr. Adler, that you must start minding what your niece reads.”
The next several minutes passed in silence. Molly watched as John and Irene exchanged silent words across the table. John looked horrified and utterly mortified at Irene’s words. Irene, on the other hand, looked as though she had just claimed a country in her own name. Or, perhaps in the name of Doctor Freud. Molly was, clearly, not the only one in discomfort due to the silence. After a few more minutes, Mycroft rose, murmuring an excuse to his mother and turning to leave, accompanied by the Holmes’s bodyguard (although, to Molly, he appeared to work exclusively for the elder brother.).
“Tell me, Mycroft, dear,” Irene said with a poisonously sweet smile, “Were you nursed as a child?”
Mary let out of snort of laughter, which she quickly disguised as a cough. Molly watched as Sherlock’s eyes quickly darted between Mycroft and Mr. Lestrade. Irene couldn’t possibly be implying what Molly thought she was. She turned to Sherlock, hoping her companion could clarify Irene’s statement, but Sherlock merely looked between his brother and Mr Lestrade, his expression unwavering. Mycroft stared back at Irene for a moment, before giving his regards to the table through a tight smile and leaving. John looked among his silent companions as conversation resumed between Lady Holmes and Mr Adler. He turned to Sherlock, who was still looking at Irene, as though studying her.
“Really, Sherlock. She was talking about a single study. It’s not true all the time. Look at all the men on this ship.”
Sherlock blinked, turning to John. “I never thought it was, look at Miss Adler.”
Molly felt her cheeks turn red; she was unaccustomed to such subject matters. John looked at her uncomfortably. “You’re making Molly uncomfortable.”
Sherlock turned to Molly. “Do you wish to leave?”
Molly’s lips parted slightly as she shook her head. “Not at all! I- I’m sorry if I’ve acted as though-”
Sherlock lifted a hand to quiet her before returning his attention to John, his voice quiet to avoid his mother’s attention. “Clearly, John, her discomfort comes from surprise, not from aversion to Irene’s habits. If she were truly disturbed, I have no doubts that she would leave us. If anything, you’re the one with an aversion to the subject at hand.”
“Of course I have an aversion to the subject. It’s completely improper to discuss the...private behaviour of women, especially in the company of others of their sex.”
Molly snorted, causing both John and Sherlock to turn towards her. She immediately blushed. “Sorry, I just...your only aversion to discussing Irene’s private life is due to my presence and femininity?”
John opened his mouth to respond, but Sherlock answered first. “Don’t be ridiculous, Molly. John’s only aversion to the topic of Irene’s sexual inclinations comes from their relation with Miss Morstan.”
Lady Holmes looked up as Sherlock finished speaking. “Sherlock, darling, is there something pertinent to Miss Morstan you’d care to share with the rest of us?”
Sherlock glanced towards his mother with cool eyes. “I was simply informing Miss Hooper that she looks lovely in Miss Morstan’s gown.”
Lady Holmes sent her son a tight lipped smile. “Yes, Miss Morstan has always had impeccable taste.” Sherlock let out a soft snort. Molly was certain it was for the sole purpose of his mother hearing it. “Yes, Sherlock? Something more to add?”
“Nothing of importance, Mother. Simply put, I would believe that Miss Adler fully agrees with your assessment of Miss Morstan’s... taste.”
Molly watched as Irene’s eyes fixated on Sherlock’s own. “Well, Sherlock, darling, I’m sure most would agree with me.”
She wasn’t sure what caused her to say it - Molly Hooper had never been one to tease - but she was glad that her words were soft enough to only be heard by the youths of the table. “Well, unfortunately for him, I must assume that Mr Watson would beg to differ.”
John snorted into his wine as Mary’s cheeks pinkened. Sherlock and Irene simply sat quietly, four eyes fixated on Molly Hooper.
“Irene, child,” came Mr Adler’s voice from across the table. “Is there something you’d like to say to Miss... Hooper?”
Irene didn’t flinch, her eyes still boring into Molly. “It would appear that Mr Holmes has finally found a clever companion - hush, John - and I would very much like to see more of her.”
Mr Adler smiled tightly; he didn’t like the idea of the already minimal interests of Sherlock Holmes being taken by another woman. “That would be very pleasant, indeed. However, I am sure Miss Hooper has her own family to return to.”
“Well, I don’t see why her family couldn’t join us as well, Uncle.”
Molly shook her head. “I’m afraid we’d just be a bother.”
Molly’s cheeks darkened. She didn’t know why, but she always felt peculiar discussing her family to others. “My sister’s quite young, only eight. She’d - she’d just be - I’d fear you’d think her an annoyance.”
“Nonsense, I’m sure she’s a darling. A clever sister like you, how could she not be? I think I can safely speak for us all when I say that we’d be delighted if you joined us again tomorrow,” Irene smiled, throwing a glance in Sherlock’s direction.
Molly looked hesitantly at Sherlock before nodding. “I’m sure my brother will be delighted. Not - not that I’m not also delighted and thankful, but...” she bowed her head, biting her lower lip before looking back up, flushed. “Thank you.”
Sherlock stood up, motioning for John and Molly to join him. “It’s getting sufficiently late. John and I will escort Miss Hooper back to her cabin. We shall see you in the morning.”
Without another word, he turned and began walking briskly from the hall. John quickly rose, pulling back Molly’s chair and giving her a hand. Molly smiled at Mr Adler and Lady Holmes.
“Thank you. It was very kind of you to have me join you.”
Lady Holmes responded with a tight-lipped smile. “Yes.”
Molly couldn’t help but notice as a wave of disgust crossed Irene’s face at the woman’s response. She allowed John to take her by the elbow and escort her away. What a cold woman, she couldn’t help but think of Lady Holmes. I wonder what his father must have been like. She felt Sherlock’s gaze before she saw him, standing at the top of the grand staircase. Together, the three walked in silence towards Molly’s cabin, past the second class library. She felt her eyes linger on the sign.
“Why haven’t you gone yet?”
Molly looked up. Sherlock was staring at her with a strange amount of attentiveness.
“You want horribly to go the library, but you haven’t been in yet. Why?”
“You really do know everything.”
“We’ve been through this: I don’t know, I -”
“You observe. Yes. You’re very observant.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Libraries aren’t fun for little girls. And I could never abandon Lottie. She’d run off somewhere. So, I guess, I can just find other things to do to occupy my time.” She stopped at her door. “Thank you. Tonight was lovely.”
She waited, hoping for Sherlock to say something. Instead, he simply stared at her, as though she was something foreign, something previously unknown. John stepped forward, taking Molly’s hand in his own and kissing it lightly.
She smiled and turned, allowing herself into the privacy of her room. A lamp was still burning in the corner, illuminating Lottie’s sleeping figure. She had always found sanctuary in private, even with the presence of her sister, but as she changed into her nightgown, Molly felt herself overcome with inexplicable sadness. She should be happy, perfectly content with the life her brother was trying so hard to give her. But she wanted more. She wanted to be able to run out and beg Sherlock Holmes to walk around the ship with her, even given the absurd lateness of the hour. But it would be so very improper. And that was the main rule in the Hooper family. Be proper.
* * *
John walked behind Sherlock. He wasn’t sure why, but it always seemed like the better option: walk half a step behind. Even when he was angry, as he was now, he stood slightly behind.
“You should have been the one to ask her to dinner again, not Irene.”
“I don’t see why it matters.”
“Because that’s what polite people do, Sherlock. She was your guest. And yet, when your mother and Mr Adler pulled their typical stunts on her, it wasn’t you, her host, who came to her rescue, it was Irene. Irene who you’re supposed to be courting. She shouldn’t be asking a girl you may fancy to dinner for you.”
“She shouldn’t be doing the same for you, then,” Sherlock replied cooly.
John could feel his cheeks reddening in frustration. "It's one thing, Sherlock, when it's her companion. They've been friends since childhood. Mary goes everywhere with Irene and you bloody well know that! It's a completely different story with someone like Molly!"
“I was under the impression you were here as my companion, John,” Sherlock replied scathingly, “Not as a replacement for my father.”
“I’m your friend, Sherlock. That’s why I’m trying to help you. It’s wrong to lead her on like that and then leave it to the girl you’re courting to continue it.”
“It seems Miss Adler and I are the only two in this party who don’t seem to be under the delusion that we are actually courting.”
“You do realise, don’t you, that the main reason your mother spends so much money on these ridiculous holidays with the Adlers is because she is determined for you to marry Irene? Both she and Mr Adler seem set on the courtship. So even if you don’t like her, you ought to at least treat her with some respect.”
“Perhaps I should treat her as your dear Miss Morstan treats her, then?”
“How dare - ” but John couldn’t finish that sentence. “You can’t insult Mary’s honour like...”
He stood there, unable to form a coherent sentence that could maintain the honour of both Mary and Irene while still telling Sherlock exactly what he thought of him.
Sherlock replied with a smug look and then turned to saunter off. “Come along, John.”
“What makes you think I’d go anywhere with you right now?”
Sherlock turned on his heel to look back at John with a cold, calculating look. He wasn’t going to come-- that was new.
Without another word, he turned back around and stalked off, leaving John alone to sulk off to their cabin.