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The Birds All Left

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On January 6th, Molly Hooper goes to the cemetery.

She doesn't know a better day to do it. At one point she had thought about waiting until the anniversary of--that day, but that would be lying, and she has done enough of that. So she picks his birthday, and takes a cab out to the quiet little churchyard with the tasteful black stone.

As the cab winds along the road, she wonders if John will be there. She hasn't seen him since Sherlock's funeral, where he had sat stonefaced in the front row. He hadn't seen her, but she wasn't certain he'd seen anything that day, or heard anything either. It broke her heart, more than it did to stand in the hallway and tell him he couldn't come in, to tell him it was done. She'd cried then, silly but she hadn't been able to stop, the swell of knowledge pushing the tears out of her. She knew how she was breaking the man in front of her, knew the man who'd snuck out of the back entrance in clothes he'd stolen from the lost and found was broken, too, so she let her tears be the barrier between them.

If she sees him at the graveside, she'll wait. He's had longer to say what he needs to, but it's more important. She knows that.

But John isn't there. No one is. The stone is less polished than it was at the funeral, but his name still reads so clearly that it's a little disconcerting. The weeds have grown up around the stone, leaning against the cool marble.

"You're a mess," she says quietly. "Here." She kneels down and pulls the weeds, letting the soil fall back to the ground from around their roots. Once the space is clear, she brushes the dirt off the stone with her fingers, and then wipes them on her skirt. "Much better."

Somehow, she feels like she should stand, but it's easier to kneel here on the damp ground. She is telling secrets, after all. "I wasn't sure if you'd like these," she says, laying her bunch of purple tulips down at the foot of the stone. "But they reminded me of you. I think the color, and the height, I think. Not that you were terribly colorful. Or, I suppose--never mind. I brought you flowers." She patted them where they lay on the ground.

Molly closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "It's been two years now, since I've seen you. And that's--that's the longest, since. So I think that--" She hesitated. "I think you're likely actually gone now. And that's--I don't like to think about that. Because it makes this real, doesn't it? Except you're not actually in the grave."

She opens her eyes. Her reflection in the stone is too sharp, which she doesn't like either--it's too awkward, to be staring into her own face as she says this. So she concentrates on the letters instead. "I'm sorry that you're dead now. I'm sorry you weren't able to come back, in the end. But I'm also--" She looks up at the tree branches above her and searches for the words. "I hope that, however it happened, that you were OK. I mean, obviously you weren't OK, because someone was killing you. That's not what I meant. I meant that, well. The last time you came to London, something was wrong, Sherlock. Your head wasn't well. And I think you were afraid, then, and lonely. So, I'm not glad that you're dead. But if you're not lonely or afraid anymore, then that's good. You shouldn't have to be like that."

A big black crow settles in the tree above her. She smiles at it, and turns back to the stone. "I miss you. And I know that John misses you, even if he doesn't come to visit very much. And I hope that you're somewhere now, though I don't suppose it's very likely. Oh! And Mrs. Hudson died, I read it in the paper, so maybe if you're somewhere she's there too. You should tell her hello for me. I popped by for tea a few times after John moved out. Tell her I'm the one with the cats if she doesn't remember me."

"So." She's not really sure what else to say. "I should get back, I suppose. I'm on shift tonight. If I see anybody interesting come by, I'll think of you, yeah?" She pats the stone awkwardly. And then, glancing around to make sure there wasn't anybody to see, she leans in and gives it a quick kiss, right next to his name. The marble is cold and damp, and she feels ridiculous. "Anyway. Goodbye, Sherlock."

She stands, and brushes the dirt off her skirt. It might stain, but nobody is going to be looking at her knees. Giving the stone another pat, she turns, and walks back towards the road.