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Act III: Love Lost

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It was the second week back at school after the holiday break, and Molly was still getting used to her new class schedule. She still had science with Doctor Watson, and she had another Shakespeare class with Sherlock. Their attendance list had changed somewhat, though. Donovan and Jim were still in class with her, but there were many new faces... all of them bored. She could hardly wait for the final class of the day to roll around on Tuesday and Thursday because it meant that she could spend some extra time with him. They had been true to their words about being careful, and, while it was infuriating, it was for the best.

She swept into the classroom (a few minutes early, as always) and took her seat, removing a book from her satchel and cracking it open, trying to keep the almost stupidly giddy smile off of her face. Sherlock was not far behind, granting her his customary, "Good afternoon, Miss Hooper," before settling behind his desk and glancing through his copy of the first play on the curriculum for the class "The Bard: Love Lost and Love Won": Othello.

"Good afternoon, Professor Holmes," she murmured back, her eyes just barely flicking up from her book to meet his before she returned her focus to her reading material, a faint blush now staining her cheeks. She swallowed hard and turned a page. She had to keep in careful control, and it was proving to be a bit more difficult than she thought.

"What are you reading today?"

She flashed a quick smile. "Dune, by Frank Herbert. I've a weakness for good sci-fi," she said.

"Heard of it but never read it. It's not something that ever particularly captured my interest."

"Mm, not everyone likes it. There are some excellent quotes from it, though. My favorite one is a mantra against fear... which... ah," here she made a little embarrassed noise in her throat, "I'll admit, it's helped me out a bit on more than one occasion."

"Inspirational quotes from classical literature will never steer you wrong, Molly," he murmured, glancing at the door. Fifteen seconds later, Jim entered the room and took a seat next to Molly as he had done the past three classes.

She shifted ever so slightly away from the smaller man; he had been nothing but civil to her since their return from break, indifferent, even, but she couldn't forget the veiled threat of the flowers and the feel of his hands around her throat and the winter-cold of the river as he held her under. She swallowed hard and decided that now was a good time to put that quote from Dune into practice. "I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration..." she thought, keeping her eyes focused on the book in front of her.

"How are you, Kitten?"

"I'm well, thank you. And yourself?" she replied, courteous out of habit.

"Everything is dull as always, though Sebby does tend to brighten my day. He's ever so good with... physical activities." Jim allowed himself a faint smirk as he rifled through his bag for the play.

Molly gripped the book in her hands harder, feeling both angry and miserable. The fact that she had walked in on them still stung, although she was more afraid of him now than she was then. "Of course," she said, again, a polite nothing. The less she had to talk to him, the better.

"Bet you're loving this class," he said offhandedly, eyeing her while appearing to be searching his pockets for a pen. "More time with your favorite professor, eh?"

She couldn't help it; she flinched. Molly said nothing and shrank down a little farther into her seat, a bright flash of hate searing through her for a moment, although it was gone as quickly as it had arrived.

Well now, what a curious response. Jim said nothing more as the rest of the class began traipsing in, only moving to turn in his homework and return to his seat. Molly sighed as she marked her place and put Dune away, taking out Othello. She had never liked it much, but it was an interesting read nonetheless. She had to feel a bit sorry for Othello, being so tricked as he was into thinking that his beloved wife was being unfaithful to him by his supposed best friend. It was a tragedy, through and through.

"If you all with please take your seats and turn to Act Four, we can begin," Sherlock barked.

There was a rustle of movements and pages as the students all got out their copies of Othello and leafed through to the appropriate page. Molly scanned the scenes quickly. She always felt bad for Desdemona; she was so confused by Othello's poor treatment of her, especially when she had done nothing wrong.

"Now, based on the reading you've all done and since you know what I'm going to ask by now, why is Desdemona in her current position?"

Donovan lazily raised her hand. "Because she's an air-headed bint, sir?" she said, smirking.

Sherlock shot her a look of boredom and irritation. "Incorrect. Someone else?"

Molly sighed and raised her hands. Sometimes she felt so frustrated to be one of the only people to be doing any of the work in this classroom. "Because she's been set up by Iago who wants to see Othello's downfall. So he makes it look like Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio to make Othello insane with rage and jealousy."

"And why is that the perfect way to destroy the Moor?"

Jim raised his hand. "The quickest way to destroy someone, Professor, is through the heart. Take away everything that matters and there is nothing left for the person to live for."

Molly couldn't help but swallow hard. She felt as if Jim's hands were around her neck again, the words he had said in answer to Sherlock's question seeming both enough to answer and strangely...pointed. As if he knew about her and Sherlock. She suppressed a shiver. Don't be silly, Molly, she thought, but the idea was still there, lingering in the back of her brain.

"Correct, Mr. Moriarty. In fact, I think you shall read for Iago today. Miss Hooper: Desdemona, and... Donovan: Emilia. On your feet. Come on!"

She rose and walked to the front of the room, dragging her feet more than usual. There was something about this that made her vaguely uncomfortable, but she couldn't let it show. She had to push it away and become Desdemona, who was distraught.

"All right. Miss Hooper, if you would start on line one twenty-five. 'Tis meet I should be used so' and continue until I tell you to stop. And to the rest of you drooling specimens, do try and pay attention. You might actually learn something."

She nodded once and took a breath, let it out before launching into the part. "'Tis meet I should be used so, very meet. How have I been behaved, that he might stick the small'st opinion on my least misuse?"

Jim glanced through the scene before strolling forward to Molly, putting on his best face of concern and care. "What is your pleasure, madam? How is't with you?"

She looked up at him, distress in her face and sadness in her eyes. "I cannot tell. Those that do teach young babes do it with gentle means and easy tasks: He might have chid me so; for, in good faith, I am a child to chiding."

"What is the matter, lady?" Jim was already enjoying playing ignorant

Donovan spoke, hardly putting any feeling into the lines. "Alas, Iago, my lord hath so bewhored her. Thrown such despite and heavy terms upon her, as true hearts cannot bear."

Jim could have smacked her. At least try, you little cunt, he thought.

She looked up at him, almost pleadingly. "Am I that name, Iago?"

"What name, fair lady?" Jim was almost tempted to reach out and stroke the hair back from her face.

"Such as she says my lord did say I was," Molly replied. She let her eyes flit to Sherlock when she said 'my lord'... she needed the mind frame of her character. How would she feel if he thought that she, Molly, were being false? How would she feel if he called her a whore...? A sudden pain lanced through her heart. It was barely a flicker, but Jim caught it, his brain whirring with glee. Such a development, was she truly more than sweet on her professor? All he needed now was for her to break down in the scene and he'd have an in, a way to truly tell. Burn her heart out indeed, he'd do more than that. He'd promised.

Donovan had to hide a smirk. "He called her a whore. A beggar in his drink could not have laid such terms upon his callat."

Putting on his biggest puppy dog eyes that always reduced Sebby to a puddle of begging blonde, Jim looked to Molly. "Why did he so?"

Molly couldn't help it. The thought that if Sherlock had called her a whore, had dismissed her so coldly... she felt tears begin to well up in her eyes, and one or two traced a path down her cheeks. "I do not know; I am sure I am none such," she said, her voice breaking slightly.

"Do not weep, do not weep. Alas the day!" Darting forward, Jim dragged a chair into the acting space and sat Molly in it, half kneeling beside her and pulling out his handkerchief, dabbing at the tears that had begun to trickle from the corners of her eyes. Inside, he was screaming with joy. She had even glanced at the Professor again. Oh, there was definitely something going on there that was bigger than just a harmless crush.

Donovan raised an eyebrow. Tears? Actual tears? She felt a pang of pity which she quickly squashed. This was Hooper, after all. Perfect Princess Teacher's Pet. "Hath she forsook so many noble matches, her father and her country and her friends, to be call'd whore? Would it not make one weep?"

"It is my wretched fortune," said Molly, letting Jim dry her tears and comfort her.

"Beshrew him for 't. How comes this trick upon him?" The pale boy reached up and stroked her jaw, thumbs wiping away the tears the cloth had missed. Anyone would think that he actually cared for the girl before him.

She closed her eyes. "Nay, heaven doth know," she said softly.

Donovan spoke up, actually sounding indignant. "I will be hang'd, if some eternal villain, some busy and insinuating rogue, some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office, have not devised this slander; I'll be hang'd else."

Jim turned his gaze on her, eyes blazing as he admonished, "Fie, there is no such man. It is impossible."

"If any such there be, heaven pardon him!" Molly said softly, bitterly.

Sally snorted. "A halter pardon him! and hell gnaw his bones! Why should he call her whore? who keeps her company? What place? what time? what form? what likelihood? The Moor's abused by some most villanous knave, some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow. O heaven, that such companions thou'ldst unfold, and put in every honest hand a whip to lash the rascals naked through the world even from the east to the west!" she railed, pacing.

Jim's eyes narrowed as he took Molly's hand, stroking it to calm her as he shot daggers at Donovan. "Speak within door." God, how he'd love to bash her brains in.

Donovan glared back at Jim. She had never liked the officious little prick. "O, fie upon them! Some such squire he was that turn'd your wit the seamy side without, and made you to suspect me with the Moor."

"You are a fool. Go to!" He had that right, especially since her character was his wife and he could do as he wanted. She deserved a good slap on the face, but his hands were too busy trying to comfort Molly.

The girl left with a huff, her part in the scene over. Molly looked up at Jim, her eyes pleading. "O good Iago, what shall I do to win my lord again? Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven, I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel: if e'er my will did trespass 'gainst his love, either in discourse of thought or actual deed, or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense, delighted them in any other form; or that I do not yet, and ever did. And ever will- though he do shake me off to beggarly divorcement- love him dearly, comfort forswear me! Unkindness may do much; and his unkindness may defeat my life, but never taint my love. I cannot say 'whore:' it does abhor me now I speak the word; to do the act that might the addition earn not the world's mass of vanity could make me."

She was exactly where he wanted her. Standing as she finished speaking, he reached up to touch her cheek. "I pray you be content. 'Tis but his humor. The business of the state does him offense, and he does chide with you."

"If 'twere no other-"

"-It is but so, I warrant." He gave her his warmest smile before kissing the back of her hand. "Hark how these instruments summon to supper. The messengers of Venice stays the meat. Go in and weep not. All things shall be well." Not if I have anything to say about it.

Molly wiped her eyes and nodded. That was the scene over; she returned to her seat, feeling decidedly...uneasy, but lulled, somehow. Maybe... just maybe... Jim had forgotten?

"Very well done, all three of you." Sherlock rose from his seat, his gut clenching uncomfortably. He'd caught Molly's gaze twice in that scene; she needed to be more careful. "Now, if you will all take out your notebooks, read through the end of the Act and write up a description of Iago's next plans to finish off his revenge on the Moor. When you are done, hand it in and you will be dismissed."

There was another flurry of movement as notebooks were opened and pens and pencils were set down to paper. Molly was one of the first ones finished but hesitated a moment before turning it in. Finally, when some minutes had passed, she walked up and passed the explanation in. She walked slowly out of the classroom, her mind churning.

Sherlock stayed seated behind his desk for several minutes after the last students had straggled out, mulling over the lesson. Molly had clearly hesitated before turning in her paper, so he pulled it out of the stack, glancing over her top notch explanation before noticing the note scribbled at the bottom.

The willow, ten pm. Ophelia.


Seb sat sullenly on his bed, broodingly gazing at the blade of his favorite knife, checking it for any nicks and scrapes. He didn't have any classes with Jim this semester, and it was making him twitchier than usual and more than a bit nervous. He had come to care for this young man so much so quickly; he felt a bit like he was being pulled underwater, out of his depth. Not like feeling those things would make him stop, though. He was just too far gone on Jim Moriarty to care.

Jim slammed the door shut behind him before dumping his bag on the ground and throwing himself onto Seb's bed. "Thank fucking god that's over."

Seb raised an eyebrow and quirked his lips into a smirking smile. "Rough day?" he asked, still admiring his knife-blade.

"Tedious, dull, missed you something dreadful," the pale boy drawled, lying down with his legs dangling off the bed and his head in Seb's lap.

He quickly put away the knife. No sense in accidentally cutting Jim or himself if things got frisky. "Missed you too," he said quietly, running his fingers through the fine, dark hair on his lap.

Jim's eyes fluttered shut as he hummed contentedly. "Oooooh, Tiger's got the magic fingers," he murmured.

Seb smirked again and added his other hand, massaging Jim's scalp. "Been told I'm good with my hands," he drawled.

"Brilliant in fact. Wonder who pays you such compliments. Should I be jealous?"

He snorted. "Hardly. You know there's only you," he said somewhat fondly. He bent down and kissed Jim soundly on the mouth. Moaning rather desperately, Jim kissed back as he let his hands run up the side of Seb's face, stroking his cheeks and tangling in the hair at his temples. The blonde purred happily as Jim returned the kiss and dug his hands into his hair. He smiled, feeling actually... happy.

The younger boy licked his lover's tongue before breaking the kiss, smiling up at Seb. "Missed you today, Tiger."

Seb rested his forehead on Jim's, drawing in his scent. "Missed you too, Magpie."

"Anything interesting happen? My day was ever so dull."

"Nothing of interest. Everything is deathly boring without you, my love."

"Awwww, you flatter, Tiger. Although, you might find this interesting. I discovered the most delicious thing about Kitten and that Professor."

"I don't flatter, I speak the truth. And oh? Do tell," he said, grinning.

"It would seem there is more going on with them than a simple, harmless little crush. Perhaps something a bit more... intimate if you get my drift."

Both of the blonde boy's eyebrows rose to his hairline. "Really? Well well well, seems Kitten fancies the older gent. So... what shall we do about this, hm?" he asked. He knew that Jim wasn't going to let this slide, not by a long shot.

"You should have seen the way her eyes flicked to him when she spoke of 'The Moor,'" Jim spat, nuzzling into Seb's rough hand. "It was disgraceful... and yet, just so delightful."

"I bet. But you still haven't answered my question; what are we going to do about this?" he repeated, starting to stroke Jim's forehead and card through his hair again, being surprisingly gentle.

Jim closed his eyes, humming. "It's rather simple... burn the heart out of her, out of him... because the easiest way to destroy someone is through the heart, Tiger."

He felt a shiver run through him. "That is perfect. When do we start?"

"Patience, love. There is much planning to do first. How to scare her, put her on edge... or how to win her back over and then strike the blow."

"Can't we do both? Scare her first, then lull her back? Then we strike, and it makes the blow land all the harder."

"But why would we scare her first? She would never trust us again, and although the marks from my fingers have certainly faded, she still remembers them well."

He made a face. "True. And I like the way you phrased it... burn the heart out of them."

"As do I. Quite apt. Now... how about a nice symbol, hmmm? And actual heart on fire? I do love to watch things burn."

Seb's eyes lit up. "Oh yes. Pinned to her desk and set alight. A warning to them both."

"Of course, then there is the matter of procuring such an item," Jim mused, rolling his neck slightly and shivering slightly as Seb's fingertips brushed a tender spot on his skull.

He smirked as he ran his fingers over that spot again, prodding it gently as he began to massage Jim's scalp. "Leave that matter to me..." he murmured darkly.

"Mmmmm... magic fingers," moaned Jim, suddenly struck by the image of Seb elbow deep in a corpse retrieving a heart. "Don't stop... feels nice."

The older boy continued, bending down to place a soft kiss to Jim's forehead.

"Should I start calling you Mummy, Sebby?"

He snorted. "Hardly. The last thing I want to do is give you some weird sort of Oedipal complex."

"You're just being such a cuddly kitty."

"Yes, yes... the Tiger can be a Tabby when the mood is right," he said, rolling his eyes.

The pale boy started chuckling before dragging himself up so that he was curled up in Seb's lap, nestled against the larger boy's chest. Seb swallowed. He felt a feeling of protectiveness and love wash over him like a wave, moving his hands from Jim's scalp down to rub circles on his back, tucking the smaller boy's head into the crook of his neck. His other hand was draped around Jim's waist, a bond and a comfort both.

Jim pressed gentle kisses against Seb's neck, his right hand trailing lazily over his lover's chest, drawing pictures and writing words on the skin. "You're like a parent Tiger, Sebby. Am I your cub?"

He sighed. "Hardly. But you are mine. Just as I am yours," he said quietly. As much as he loved the sex, this was just as nice.

"I like that you're mine. My Tiger, my Sebby. You're so gorgeous, and I never realized just how soft and cuddly you can be."

Seb pulled Jim closer, smirking. "Every hard-ass and tough guy has his soft side."

"Then I just must be lucky then, hmmm?"

"I guess."

"Well, I'm not going to do any work tonight. How's about you help tuck me in and give me a little goodnight snogging, hmmm? I'll even let you hold me as I sleep."

He grinned. "Always," he murmured, turning down the covers and pulling them over them both. He pressed his mouth to Jim's and gave him a firm kiss, bringing his hands up to wind around his lover's shoulders. The smaller boy wrapped his arms around Seb's neck and held him close, his tricky tongue darting out to lick the man's gorgeous mouth.

He moaned and opened his lips to allow Jim access; their tongues danced with each other, Seb's hands reaching up to wind in Jim's hair again. Jim whimpered, curling up against his lover as they continued to kiss lazily. Seb moved his arms again, this time drawing Jim closer to him. He broke the kiss they shared in favor of placing smaller ones along Jim's jaw and cheek, pausing to whisper "I love you..." into his ear.

"Love you back," Jim purred, feeling warm and content, his body positively thrumming. Seb swallowed hard and clutched Jim to him tightly, feeling his heart bang against his ribcage.

"Hey... hey, Tiger, Sebby," Jim murmured, tilting his head up to look at the blonde. "I'm not going anywhere. You're heart is beating like a frightened rabbit. What's wrong?"

"Everyone always leaves..." he muttered, feeling stupidly childlike.

"Sebastian, I'm not everyone."

Forcing himself to calm down, he smiled. "Of course," he said, closing his eyes and burying his face into the skin of Jim's neck, content to simply breathe him in.

Jim raised his hand and stroked his fingers down the side of Seb's face. "You don't believe it."

"Hard to believe it when it's happened all my life," he admitted softly.

"Have I ever given you reason not to trust me?"

"No," he replied, somewhat sullenly.

"Don't sulk. The expression marrs your pretty face. So, if you know I won't be going anywhere, why worry?"

"Force of habit," Seb finally said.

"Well, break it. It's a bad habit for my right hand man to have."

He took a deep breath. "I'll try. For you. Anything."

"Kiss me to seal the deal. You might even get me to sing you to sleep."

Seb kissed Jim, pouring out what he felt like was his soul into it. Seal the deal indeed, he thought as he broke the contact, panting. Jim tilted his head to look at the boy before running his right hand through the blonde curls. "Nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm around..."

Seb felt his eyes fill with tears, which he hid by burying his face into Jim's skin, feeling the smaller man's voice thrum through him as his hand stroked through his hair.

"Nothing's gonna harm you, no sir, not while I'm around. Demons are prowling everywhere nowadays. I'll send them howling, I don't care. I've got ways."

He swallowed hard; he knew what was going to come next and his eyes began to well up more.

"No one's gonna hurt you, no one's gonna dare. Others can desert you, not to worry whistle I'll be there." Jim pressed a kiss to Seb's jaw when he paused for air, holding him slightly tighter.

Seb took a shuddering breath and sang before Jim could. "Demons will charm you with a smile, for a while, but in time..."

Jim joined in, finishing the song with him. "Nothing's gonna harm you. Not while I'm around." (1)

Seb sighed, feeling his eyes begin to droop. "I'll hold you to that, you know," he murmured.

Jim continued pressing kisses to the side of Seb's face. "Yes, I do. Just as I will for you."


"Now, go to sleep my Tiger. We get to start plotting in the morning, and I need you sharp and ready to go."

His lips curled into a sleepy smile. "Kay, boss," he said, his voice already slurred by fatigue.

"That's right. Boss has got you. Shhhhh, my sleepy Tiger," Jim crooned, rocking Seb gently.

Within moments, the rocking and the sound of Jim's voice and heartbeat and his breathing lulled Seb into a deep, sweet sleep. Once Jim could tell Seb was out, he wrapped the boy's arms around him and curled up against his chest. "My most precious possession, my perfect Tiger. Sweet dreams." He brushed his lips against the sleeping Seb's before drifting off himself.