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Eurus opens her eyes to a cell she hasn't set foot in for ten years. For a millisecond, her brain just stops. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, remembers that she has no time to be a madwoman. She has to go home and kiss her wife and solve Sherlock's current case before he does just to annoy him and she can't do that if she's decided to go insane. She doesn't have time for it, ergo she isn't crazy. Insanity is such a neat word, barely able to cover a portion of the magnitude of just how much of her life she spent locked away. Growing up helped, as did reconnecting with her family, as did the cocktail of medicines she takes to stabilize her moods.

She isn't crazy, so Eurus opens her eyes again.

She's still in a cell. Last night, she went to bed after a long day of doing a favor for Mycroft, had lazy sex with her wife during which she let Molly do most of the work, and fell asleep almost immediately afterward. Eurus remembers falling asleep, just as she remembers every detail of her life. And she isn't a heavy sleeper.

She isn't crazy, so this has to be real.

Her first thought is that one of her brothers has decided to play an elaborate practical joke on her, but the idea is discarded nearly immediately. Neither is that careless. Sherlock is an idiot, and both are occasionally cruel in the way Holmeses can't seem to help being, but this is too far. Mycroft could pull it off, replicating everything down to the clothes she'd worn, but he is even more careful with her sanity than Sherlock.

The alternative is that this is real and some forces of the universe aligned to take her back into the past to when she actually lived in this cell, which is preposterous.

Eurus takes stock of every object in the cell, unable to place when this could be. Definitely before she completely took over this place, since the glass is still there and her secret path out of the room is gone without a trace. The evidence pointing to an elaborate practical joke is becoming slimmer. Panic is not a good look on Eurus Holmes.

She presses her assistance button and says the words that will cause the current idiot in charge of the facility to show up in person. Family is always such a soft target. Eurus had promised her own that she'd never use her skills unless there was no other solution to a problem, and she's pretty sure this qualifies.

It takes her a day of intensive work to take control of Sherrinford. It helps that she's not making anyone kill themselves or others. She's simply encouraging them to act on the occasional thought they have, that the Holmes girl hasn't done anything to anyone in years. Puberty had been a dark time for her, but at this point in her life, she'd almost been an angel. In the meantime, she finds that she's somehow lost a whole decade and looks just as she did back then; it's past that Christmas when she'd first talked to Jim and during that silly game Jim had played with Sherlock before he died.

Stepping out of her cell and accepting a coffee and a change of clothes from one of the nurses, Eurus wants so badly to take someone's phone and call a cell phone number that hasn't changed in all this time, but any call from here will be heavily monitored. Eurus does not have the time or patience to deal with her eldest brother right now. Instead, she takes a chopper out of the island. There's a car and a driver waiting there for her. The driver thinks she's a relative of one of the inmates, and gives her a pitying look. She rides out on one of the guards' dime and ignores the driver's attempts conversation, letting her mind wander. The world outside seems real, to her very best impressions. She has gotten the date from multiple sources, as well as information she couldn't have known before. Unless her mind is simply making everything up… Eurus isn't one for elaborate daydreams.

London takes nearly an hour to look familiar. She’d come here with Jim, the very first time shed escaped her prison. Jim had many great qualities, but he hadn’t been much of a guide. Sherlock had been better, with his rambling walk throughout the city to tell Mycroft to fuck off. By the time they arrive to the right place, it's dark outside. Eurus leaves the car and heads up to the fourth floor flat she’d once left explosives in.

One knock, and Molly is opening he door.

Molly Hooper, not Molly Holmes, because this woman is younger than Eurus has ever known her. It's unnerving, but the way Molly hugs her is exactly the same, pressing their bodies tightly together.

"Oh thank god," Molly exclaims, her words partly muffled by Eurus' shoulder. "I don't know what I would've done if you weren't here with me. I was just giving it a week before I told Sherlock everything and begged him to take me to you to see if you remembered me."

"Of course I remember you," Eurus replies. Molly's shampoo is different, and she's so much younger, but she's still the woman Eurus married. She doesn't believe in any higher powers, but this… This is all so strange. She has a rather large brain and even she wouldn’t have thought of this.

Molly ushers her inside and shuts the door behind them. “Are you hungry? Thirsty? You were in Sherrinford, weren't you, did they treat you alright?”

“It was me who treated them rather poorly.”

"Did anyone die?"

"Not even close."

"Then it's alright. You needed to get out of there,” Molly says firmly. “I wasn't about to become estranged from my wife over, over this.”

Molly waves her arms in frustration and Eurus flicks the kettle on to make her a cup of tea. With a thankful smile, Molly starts cutting a lemon and plucks two pieces into Eurus’ mug and one in her own. With a quiet murmur of heathen, she also takes an ice cube from the fridge and places it into Eurus' mug.

“What do you suppose happened?” Molly after she takes her first sip.

“I would love to blame Sherlock, of course.”

“Of course,” Molly says, taking it as a given.

Eurus really does adore her. “But nothing he was working on was anywhere on this level. I can list theories people have come up with about time travel, but I have no conjecture as to why we went to bed one evening and woke up 10 years in the past. It doesn't make any sense at all. The last issue we were working on with Mycroft was the water crisis, not physics so theoretical that it verges on science fiction."

“Until we get a proper answer, we could blame it on timestream-shattering sex, then,” Molly offers, and it's a good reason as any.

This whole thing is completely impossible. And yet Eurus is here in the kitchen of Molly’s old flat, holding a mug that had been broken two years ago. It's nonsense. It's real.

Molly's real. Setting down her tea, Eurus kisses her against the countertop, letting loose all the fear and frustration she's felt since waking up in this time. But Molly is here, and she's kissing her back, and she's not alone. When they break apart, Eurus rests her forehead on Molly's and doesn't ever want to move.

“I liked our life,” Eurus says, feeling like a child. It hadn't been perfect, but it had taken years to get of work to get it there and now it's all down the drain.

Molly kisses her once again, soft and sure. “Then we'll recreate it here. We have each other, don't we? That was always the most important part.”

“And we have our sanity, a stolen bag of medication to make sure I keep up my sanity, an insane amount of knowledge of the future that I can use to play with people, that coffee show down the street is still open, oh, and Mary’s still alive. You always liked her.”

“I did. Do you think… I mean, it wouldn't be the same if course, but if they still get together, I hope we get to see Rosie again.”

Eurus takes her hand a squeezes it gently. She's gotten so much better at tact since they first started their relationship. She's better than Sherlock, even, although she's better than Sherlock at a lot of things. So she doesn't say they won't ever see Rosie again. The chances of that would be incredible—but then, they are a decade in the past. If this has happened, then surely the universe could provide for another miracle.

“Have you met Jim yet?” Eurus asks.

“Yes, and Sherlock has already declared him gay. The meeting at the pool is going to happen the day after tomorrow.”

“Of all the times to arrive,” Eurus says, thinking hard. “I have an idea.” Her wife’s expression shifts and Eurus grins. “Good, were on the same page.”

"We're not on the same page. We're on completely different pages. I just know your book too well." With a sigh, Molly adds, "Do you truly believe it can work?"

"Not completely," Eurus tells her, and it's as honest as she can be. There are never any guarantees when one deals with people on her and Jim's level. It's what makes things fun—but Eurus treasures her life with Molly far more than a little fun with Jim. "Prison won't keep him down, but I suppose I could shoot him instead. I don't particularly want to reset my murder clock, but what no one but you won't know won't hurt them."

For a long moment, Molly only sips her tea. "He's cruel. From everything we know about him, he's been like that since he was a child."

It's true, but also, "He's bored. He's lonely, and he's stupid, and the last time we saw each other, I could have helped, but I made him worse."

"It's not your fault."

"I don't care about fault," Eurus replies. "If I were to tally faults, there'd be so many on my shoulders that I wouldn't know what to do with them." Fault, blame, guilt… Eurus is better, but not to the point where she can make herself care about people outside a select circle. She doesn't do harm, and when she gets the urge, she applies it in a healthy way, but Eurus knows she's in no way a good person. The problem is that Jim is inside that tiny circle barely large enough for the couple people who have squeezed inside. She likes Jim. Jim is fun, Jim is horrible, Jim understands her so much better than anyone else. Too well, but there's nothing she can do about that outside murder, and that's the very issue. "I took some of his control, but my influence wasn't permanent, and his obsession with Sherlock had already taken hold. I pushed him towards a game that would amuse me instead of one that would leave them both dead."

"And now? What happens when he says no? You can't just control him for the rest of his life. That's crueler than death, Eurus."

And boring. "He's interested in Sherlock because of his brains. He would've played a game with Mycroft if he'd had any interest in politics." Although, she is half convinced that Jim and Moran had been in the middle of a long con of Mycroft that had collapsed when Jim died. "I simply have to divert that interest towards myself. I'm far more interesting of a subject."

Huffing, Molly murmurs, "I think this is the first time in the time I've known you that you've wanted to make a friend."

"That's ridiculous," Eurus quickly retorts, but her wife doesn't look like she's convinced. "But you'll do it?"

"I'll do it, but I reserve the right to say I told you so."

"You always have that right," Eurus says, thinking of all her mad plans. There's a couple that could really thrive in this time period, too… "I'll help you figure out what to say." Now all she has to do is divert Sherlock's attention, grab Jim's, and— "Let's get married?"

There's a smile in Molly's eyes, even though she says, "Sorry, I have very strict criteria for marriage."

"Really," Eurus says, and because she knows it won't hurt anymore after all this time, she asks, "Is it just Holmes genes? Because I have those right here."

"It's the fact that we've never even slept together in this timeline, Miss Holmes," Molly says, placing her mug down on the counter. "How could we ever have a good marriage if we're sexually incompatible? That would be just dreary."

Laughing, Eurus takes her hand. "Of course, Miss Hooper. May I convince you?"

 

*

 

The next morning, as they lie in bed, Molly calls the most recent contact in her phone. She's pleased when he picks up—it looks like Jim hasn't dropped the Jim from IT identity quite yet—but when he says, "Jim speaking," her heart drops somewhere into her gut.

Eurus' hand finds its way into hers and Molly squeezes it for a quick moment. She can do this. It's just Jim. Evil mastermind Jim, who had never even put a bomb into her apartment. (That was the first time she and Eurus had even met—Eurus was doing the rounds of disposing of her more violent plans and Molly found she'd been living with a bomb for months without knowing it. It hadn't been a meet cute even under the loosest of definitions, but then she'd met Sherlock in the morgue, so she can't say much about her taste.)

"Hi," Molly replies, her voice high with nerves and projected awkwardness. She can't fake happiness well enough to fool Jim, but she can do this. "It's me, Molly. Um. We went on a date?"

"Until Sherlock revealed all my secrets, yes, I remember," Jim replies. "Are you angry with me?"

"No, no. I promise, I know what it's like to have feelings you're trying to hide." First for Sherlock, then, feeling so incredibly stupid, for his beautiful and formerly-ish deadly sister. "I was actually wondering if you'd like to be friends. We could have a night in, watch an old movie, order takeout. Talk about how much we hate Sherlock."

She's coming off as nervous and desperate, but at least she doesn't think she's waving around her knowledge of Jim's activities. From Eurus' nod, Molly thinks she's doing rather well.

"I'd love that," Jim replies. "Do you have work today?"

It's a Saturday, but Molly's using up her holiday time until they figure all this out. "I'm completely free. I usually am. Do you still remember where I live?"

"Of course. Our date was the highlight of my month, even if we're meant to be just friends. I'll be over at four?"

"Great," Molly replies, her smile genuine, but her pleasure is in the fact that her role in Eurus' plan has nearly finished. Now all Jim has to do is arrive. There's a good chance he will—either to kidnap her or to get more information on Sherlock.

"I can't believe Jim knew where you lived and you never even moved," Eurus says as soon as the phone clicks shut.

"Dealing with a psychopath who was finished toying with me was easier than dealing with the housing prices in this city," Molly admits. "Especially at my current pay grade. I forgot how unambitious I'd been when I'd been in love with Sherlock."

She'd stayed on at her post for years just to be around when Sherlock visited the morgue. She'd wanted so badly to be helpful to him, to be noticed. The years he'd been thought as dead had kicked her career back into motion now that she could no longer wait around on him. It had been for the best; with the mess of Sherlock's return, and then Mary and Rosie, Sherlock no longer spent nearly as much time at the morgue as he'd used to.

With a shake of her head, Molly lets those thoughts go. "Breakfast?"

"Leftovers?"

"Good call."

Waiting for Jim is made less boring because of the sheer number of things Molly needs to do. If this is permanent, and it does seem to be, then she has to put up with the fact that it'll take a lot of work to get to a similar place that she'd been in the future. Yesterday, she'd done very little work, conveniently left the morgue when she heard Sherlock was on his way, and just basically had a good long think about what she needed to do. At the top of the list is getting her father to the doctor's and preventing his soon-coming heart attack. At the very bottom (but still very important) is buying the expensive coffeemaker she'd fallen in love with in the future. For now, she puts a box in the middle of her living room and starts chucking in things that she'd long gotten rid of in the future. Her cat loops around her ankles and Molly picks him up, rubbing her cheek against his soft fur.

"You'll be good to Eurus, won't you? You've never met her before today, but you'll like her. She's just as much of an asshole as you are."

Mr. Wobbles meows at her in what Molly hopes is a I'll be nice and keep my claws to myself kind of way. She drops him onto the bed next to Eurus as a trial by fire, since the two will have to get used to each other eventually.

As five rolls around, Molly's just finishing up a cup of tea as she works on her grocery list now that she's buying for two and munching on a piece of naan.

The doorbell rings and this is it. Eurus is sitting at the table next to her, her hands folded and her expression anticipatory.

"It's open!" Molly calls, because she'd rather not get kidnapped right at the door.

Jim's careful, but by the sound of his footsteps, he's alone. The door closes shut behind him. He truly doesn't see her as a threat, which isn't bad since in general, Molly doesn't like being seen as a threat. That's Eurus' department.

"Helloooo," Jim says upon seeing her. His wide smile doesn't change as he sees Eurus. "You didn't say anything about having someone else over. My name's Jim, I work in IT at Barts."

"I thought the more venting about Sherlock, the better," Molly says with a smile. It's as fake as Jim's. "This is Eurus. Eurus, Jim."

"I know you somehow," Jim says, staring hard at Eurus. The fake voice is all but gone, suspicion and confusion appearing in its place. "You…" He looks at Molly again, this time more seriously. "You're lovers."

"I'm not only Sherlock-sexual," Molly replies. "Why does everyone think that?"

"You hadn't had sex in over a year the last time we saw each other and didn't seem as though you were going to for as long again."

He's not wrong. It looks like Jim has dropped his sweet and silly Jim from IT persona, so Molly does the same. "I think you and my wife have some things to discuss."

Jim blinks, his eyes now focused and sharp, but he doesn't say a word. He's thinking and that's dangerous, but Eurus can handle herself.

"Molly left off the good part—my full name is Eurus Holmes," Eurus is saying as Molly leaves the flat.

There's a man leaning on the wall to the left side of the door with a gun at his side.

"Jim, please let your friend know I'm leaving!" Molly calls back.

She doesn't stick around to hear Jim's reply, but the man doesn't stop her from leaving. Outside, there's another one, and Molly shoots a quick text to Eurus in case she hasn't seen him. With a wave, Molly catches a cab.

A part of her wonders what Eurus and Jim are talking about, but knows deep down that she doesn't want to be there for that conversation. It's not that she doesn't know she's in love with a woman who has very little value for human life. There are so many things that Eurus does and says that remind her of it. But more than that, there's the fact that Eurus decided to change and found a path that allows her to amuse herself with humanity without actually hurting it. If there's a way she can do the same for Jim, Molly will do all she can to help her, including giving them the privacy to talk.

Want to grab a drink? she texts, this time talking to someone she actually wants to see.

Dinner instead? Nothing edible at home.

Heading to Angelo's now.

John's less her friend now than he will be in the future, but there's nothing she can do but start rebuilding that relationship. And at least she can do a double job of looking out for him in case Eurus doesn't get to Jim. Molly can't really do much, but she knows Jim's style of plans and has a much better awareness of her surroundings these days.

John lives much closer to Angelo's than she does, so she meets him at a table at the back of the restaurant, candles already lit. He has a Tesco's bag with a bottle of milk sitting next to him and a cloud of irritation surrounding him.

"Did Angelo assume you're meeting with Sherlock?" she asks, amused.

"Not you too, please," John says in a long-suffering tone. "He said something about it nearly being an anniversary, but I have no idea which one."

"Typical of a man," Molly agrees.

"If I asked Sherlock, he wouldn't remember either. Not that anyone would, because there's no anniversary, because we're not dating."

"The candles are nice anyway," Molly says, letting him off the hook.

The thing is, she won't ever believe John, not when she's just come from a future in which the two of them have been together for years. After Mary's death, John and Rosie had moved back in with Sherlock, decided life was too short for more stupidity and pining, and that was that.

Molly orders Angelo's signature dish out of nostalgia and catches up with John's eternal annoyance with Sherlock. The current problem is the mysterious criminal mastermind behind the pips and the sneakers that Sherlock is obsessed with. John's panic and anger are real, but he also comes of as a wife jealous of her husband's pretty new mistress. Molly refrains from saying that she's sure Sherlock will be home before nightfall.

John could go all night talking about Sherlock, as Molly's fully aware of, but eventually he stops to say, with a little confusion, "You look good, Molly. I'm glad you're not too bummed about that guy, uh, Jim was his name?"

Molly isn't supposed to look good; she spent so many years being unhappy. Not all the time, of course, but her doomed love for Sherlock had become a part of her throughout the years in a way that took serious untangling once he was pretending to be dead.

"We would've never worked out," she tells him. Apparently she only goes for the female type of criminal masterminds.

John coughs. "Definitely. Molly, you're… you're great. You could do so much better than Jim. And Sherlock, too."

"You're right," she tells him. "But the heart wants what the heart wants, I think."

"My heart wants a proper date without Sherlock interrupting it," John mutters. "I've been on two in as many months, canceled on even more."

Dating Sherlock will solve those problems, Molly knows, but it won't leave any room for Rosie in this world. But it's not as though John will be amenable to the suggestion of him dating his flatmate or one of him finding a great former assassin to marry. John will do as John wants; in all the time they've known each other, Molly has rarely been able to change his mind.

After nearly two hours, Molly decides she's had enough of waiting on Eurus and John has to go kiss and make up with Sherlock eventually. There's a car waiting outside whose lights turn on as Molly and John walk out of the restaurant. A woman leans against the door. John's not ex-military for nothing; he notices the way the woman looks over at them immediately.

"Wait," John says, but Molly's already walking toward her.

"Hi," she says, smiling widely.

"Do you know her?" John asks, looking between them.

"Not at all," Molly replies. They haven't met yet, and this isn't the Mary that Molly knew, but Molly can't wait to get to know her.

Mary looks different, dressed in dark, unobtrusive clothing, with a gun somewhere underneath it. Her voice is even different, steady and low, as she says, "Eurus sent me."

"Eurus? Are you one of Mycroft's?"

"No," Mary says, simply.

John looks between them carefully. "Molly, this could be part of that madman's game."

"It's alright, John. I'll be perfectly safe."

"If you're sure," John eventually says.

His instincts are correct; Mary is dangerous. But if Eurus sent her, then she won't be, and if Jim sent her, there's no way Molly would be able to get away from her anyway. Molly sends John off, ignoring the way he keeps looking over his shoulder as he walks home. The car is quietly expensive and rolls smoothly along the streets in the direction of Molly's flat.

"Tell me about yourself," Molly says, still too happy to see someone who's been gone for so long.

Mary looks at her like she's a little bit crazy. "I'm here to drive you back. Eurus hired me for some bodyguard work on you, Holmes, and Watson."

"You have my complete trust," Molly assures her. It sounds as though Eurus' plan has worked, but Molly doesn't quite allow herself to believe it. Jim Moriarty is a tricky bastard of a man. "Did she steal you from Jim?"

"You could say that. Moriarty seems to have come to an… understanding of some sort with her, and said my services aren't needed. I'm not sure if Holmes and Watson actually need protecting; he canceled tomorrow's plans soon after their meeting."

"Sounds a bit beneath your pay grade," Molly says carefully.

"Eurus has expressed an interest in getting me out of the business after this job," Mary says, just as carefully. "I'm not sure how well you know her…"

"She's serious—and she'll help," Molly promises.

"Why would she?"

Shrugging, Molly says, "She's not a good samaritan or anything. But she knows some stuff about you and she knows there's no point keeping someone who wants to get out of the business anyway."

Mary's hands are tight against the steering wheel. "And you? What are your motivations?"

"I'm a good samaritan," Molly says, and leaves it at that. There isn't much she's willing to say that make Mary trust her. Friendship and time will help. Molly quiets the voice in her head that's terrified of Mary not wanting to give her either and says, "So, what did you think of John Watson?"

 

*

 

Jim is gone when Molly arrives back home. Molly runs her eyes along Eurus' form. Her wife doesn't look as though Jim tried to attack her for brainwashing him, but she could be hiding the damage. She does have the incentive of wanting to keep Jim alive. Molly doesn't understand it at all, but for now she's going along with it.

"I'm fine," Eurus assures her. She's sitting in one of Molly's armchairs with Mr. Wobbles in her lap, petting him absently in a perfect supervillain pose. Molly's terribly amused with the whole effect.

"Is Jim fine, too?" Molly sits down on the arm of the armchair, leaning into Eurus and enjoying the warmth of her skin. She'd been worried, as much as she'd tried to not be.

"He's alive and even in his right mind," Eurus replies. "Just one small small bullet wound. I needed to make him understand a couple things."

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him we're from the future—proved it to him. He's fascinated and alarmed. I'm not sure if he thoroughly believes me, but he's giving me the benefit of the doubt. I also discussed a couple of… alternate employment opportunities that would combine his skills and my knowledge of the future. He wasn't interested in trying to solve the global food crisis with me, which is a pity. The things I could do with a couple more geniuses on Sherlock's level…"

"Yes, yes, you could take over a couple small countries," Molly replies, mostly indulgently. She's used to this, used to Eurus. And god how she loves her, even if her wife is a couple steps away from supervillainy.

"Quite possibly a large one, too," Eurus says with a soft sigh. "It would be too much trouble, though. And Sherlock wouldn't like it."

"Mycroft might actually try to have you assassinated in that case."

"Mycroft can keep his nose out of my business," Eurus sniffs. "He already has his own country. He couldn't fault me for wanting one of my own."

Molly rests her chin on Eurus' shoulder and reaches out with one hand to pet Mr. Wobbles' soft fur. "Now that you've met with him, do you think you can do this?"

"I can. And if the possibility arises that I can't… You're much more important to me," Eurus promises.

And then she hops off the armchair with Mr. Wobbles' in her arms, causing Molly to fall into the plush pillows.

"Hey!" Molly's too focused on righting herself to pay attention to what Eurus is up to, so it's a surprise when she looks up and sees Eurus is down on one knee, an open ring box with a beautiful ring inside in her hands. Molly's smile rises up from somewhere deep inside. There's always people who can't figure out her relationship with Eurus Holmes, less so as the years go on, but it's only because they don't see this part of her. The part that loves Molly—the part that chose this relatively quiet life instead of her old one. "You didn't have to."

"We may as well do this properly," says the woman who never cares for the proper thing. "I suppose this is the time I tell you all about how much I love you, but I'll skip that part since you're well aware of the fact that I adore you. Instead, I'll just say this: I'm so happy with you. Our marriage has only lasted three years, but I can only hope that it'll last the rest of our lives. You make me laugh, you help me avoid the worst of my mistakes and indulge the rest of them, you love me—actually, truly love me—and I can't tell you how much I value that in this world where so many people have only cared about my brain. And I love you back in a way I'd never thought myself capable of."

"You're making me cry, you wonderful woman," Molly says, rubbing the edges of her eyes before ignoring the ring in favor of kissing Eurus with all she has. When they break apart, all she can say is, "I love you so much. Everything you said—don't you know it's me that's the lucky one? My life was so lacking until you knocked on my door."

Molly takes the ring and slips it on. It's different and doesn't feel quite the same, but at the same time, it's utterly perfect.

 

*

 

Wedding arrangements are a blast this time around. The last time, Molly had done the whole circuit—church, all the extended family, friends she hasn't seen in years, flowers everywhere—and it had been good. But it had also been stressful and nearly impossible to combine all those people in a way that didn't end in the reception going up in flames. Molly had been this close to slapping some masking tape over Sherlock's mouth. Those memories were enough for two lifetimes.

Now, the only people she invites are the ones closest to her. Eurus only adds one more to their tiny guest list.

"Really," Molly says with some exasperation. "I don't think weddings are his thing."

But in the week since their second engagement, Eurus has been gone for a couple hours each day, and Molly chooses to believe she's had some kind of an effect on their local criminal mastermind. There's been nothing in the news, so there's that.

"If we're inviting Sherlock, there's a chance Mycroft will show up," Molly tells her.

"A very small chance. Mycroft adores sticking his nose where it's not wanted, but he likely wouldn't go to a wedding of someone he barely knows, and I doubt my escape has reached him yet. I was very careful about keeping everyone at Sherrinford quiet. But… you're right, there's still a chance."

And even if Mycroft doesn't find out until afterwards—there's no chance that he won't ever find out, secrets aren't so easily kept—there's still Sherlock's questions to deal with. Molly has escaped him only because she's taken up her rarely used vacation days since arriving back in the past.

“Are you going to tell them?” Molly asks. "About the memories of the future?"

Eurus makes a face. “They’ve got no reason to believe me. I suppose I’ll just wait until Sherlock figures it out. It’ll be Sherlock, not Mycroft. Mycroft’s much too straight-laced to think of time travel as a possible reason.”

“And in the meantime we’ll be irritatingly mysterious?”

“I love it when you irritate my family members with me,” Eurus replies.

"It's what partners are for," Molly agrees sagely. Eurus can irritate Molly's relatives with the best of them, which is fantastic for getting out of events Molly doesn't actually want to go to. "I've already texted John that I need him and Sherlock urgently tomorrow at 2 pm at the courthouse and that it's about why I've been absent all week."

"Perfect. I bet Sherlock has already decided you're in some serious legal trouble."

 

*

 

The next day, Molly's standing on the courthouse steps with a bouquet of flowers in her hands. It smells absolutely wonderful. Eurus is already inside making sure their documents are in order for the marriage registration, but Molly's outside with a sudden fit of nerves. John and Sherlock don't understand how important this day is; there's a chance they won't come.

Mary is the first to arrive. Molly had sent her a message about it the night before, releasing her of her bodyguard duties.

"I've already been found out," Mary tells her as she walks up the courthouse steps. "Holmes has spotted me multiple times, although he hasn't said anything yet. I believe he's biding his time until he can find who hired me."

"That's alright, this stage of our plan is mostly complete. We mostly needed time to make sure Jim has decided to leave Sherlock alone," Molly admits. "After this—" after Mycroft finds them out "—we can work on getting you out and getting to the truth behind what happened to your former team."

"So you do know about that. I don't understand how."

"Eurus knows everything," Molly explains.

Mary gives her a strange look, but says, "I don't know why I feel as though I can trust you. It doesn't make any sense."

"It's easy to trust someone who already trust you?" Molly offers.

"That part doesn't make any sense either." Abruptly, Mary turns around, and Molly notices the duo she's been waiting on get out of a cab.

She waves them over, smiling behind the bouquet as she hears Sherlock say, "Her! That's the woman who's stalking us, I told you John—" He stops in front of them, looking between Molly and Mary. "Did you invite her? Stupid question, of course you did. You hired her. To protect me? But no, you hardly have contacts of her caliber."

"This is Mary," Molly says. "Mary, Sherlock. Play nice."

"I don't believe I ever gave you that name," Mary says, but she doesn't look like she minds too much. "John, hullo."

"You know her?" Sherlock says, affront clear in his voice.

"We met after that dinner with Molly. Also at the grocery store. We had a nice chat."

"I disagreed with his choice of coffee," Mary says.

"He does have horrendous taste, but that's not the question here." Sherlock looks between all of them. "Actually, there are many questions here, but the one at the forefront is, what are we doing here, Molly Hooper?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Molly asks, all innocence. "I'm getting married!"

She spins on her heel and ignores all the questions in favor of going through the courthouse doors, content in the knowledge that they'll be right on her heels.

It's terrible, but after so many years together, Eurus' flair for dramatics really has rubbed off on her.

The marriage area is pretty, all white and flowery and wood-paneled and carefully non-denominational. The officiant wears all black, but there's no priest's collar on his clothes and he doesn't resemble the priest from the first time around at all. It's all so different. Molly takes Eurus' hand, looks back at their three witnesses, and there's a pang in her chest as she's reminded once again of how things will never be the same. She can have something close one day, but it'll always be different. Good different, she can only hope. At least Eurus will stay the same, in the sense that her wife will still continue to surprise her and drive her crazy.

"All set?" the officiant asks.

"Just one moment," Molly says, turning to face her witnesses. Mary looks deeply amused, John's eyes have never been so wide, and Sherlock looks like his brain is running a thousand miles a minute. "I know this is a big surprise, but I hope all of you can be happy for us."

A door clangs open and an unfortunately familiar face enters her line of sight.

"Sorry, am I late?" Jim asks, striding up to them. "I wouldn't want to miss the next chapter of this beautiful love story."

"You two went out on a date just last week," John says weakly.

"It wasn't exactly a date," Molly says, glancing at Eurus.

"We've been carrying on a secret affair," Eurus says with tears in the corners of her eyes. "It was such a horrible secret to keep. Jim here has been a wonderful friend to us, occasionally posing as Molly's date. But now we want to share our love with the world."

"Don't cry, you'll make me cry," Jim sniffs.

"You're a completely different person than you were a week ago," Sherlock says, looking at Jim so intently that Molly's surprised there aren't razors shooting out of his eyes. "You too, Molly. You're… actually in love. And not with me."

"I'm sorry for accidentally leading you on," Molly replies, trying to keep herself from laughing at Sherlock's expression. It doesn't hurt anymore, but the man could at least pretend he'd thought of her feelings for him as anything but an annoyance. Shrugging, all she can say is, "But love is love."

It's simple and it's difficult and it's so terribly true. Molly has a second life to live, and she still wants to spend it with this woman right here.

Sherlock keeps staring at her. "Impossible. You're actually in love. Every deduction I can make tells me you're actually in love."

"Of course I am. I wouldn't get married otherwise," Molly says, looking at the man she for whom she once had a fraction of the feelings she now has for Eurus. It had been a love from afar, a love that couldn't survive estrangement and friendship. This love had already proved itself through both.

With a hand on Sherlock's shoulder, John says, "Let's leave all that for later, alright? You can interrogate them both after the wedding."

Molly shares a look with Eurus. They have no intention of sticking around immediately afterward, but John can believe whatever he wants.

And because he's the best, John adds, "Do you need our IDs? For legal purposes?"

"Please," Molly says. "Jim's going to be Eurus' witness, but I'd be honored if you were mine."

"Anything. I never imagined this but—just last week at dinner, I said you deserved better, and I hope Eurus is the woman for you." He kisses her on the cheek and signs his name, accepting the officiant's thanks.

Jim goes next, hand on his heart and praise on his tongue, and Molly can't wait to see if he'll bring out the tears, too. Someone has to cry at her wedding; Molly had cried at the first one, but as fun as this one has turned out to be, she doesn't feel any tears incoming. Just happiness that they're all here, together if in such a strange way. And love, always, forever.

"Thank you, Mr. Moriarty," the officiant says absently.

Ah, that's the moment, Molly thinks, pinching Eurus' hand so that she doesn't look too gleeful.

"You're taking the fun out of it," Eurus says, laughter in her eyes.

"You don't have a bouquet to hide behind," Molly tells her.

Beside them, Sherlock has whirled to face Jim. "You're Moriarty?"

Jim breaks out in a grin. "You recognize me? I'm so happy. I so rarely get recognized for my work."

"Your work has gotten people killed—" John spits out.

"Oh, no, no, I'm talking of my work in children's television? I just assumed that one of you had kids who'd watched my programs. Or yourselves—they're very educational. I had a great piece on Pluto this past week."

"Jim is a model citizen," Eurus adds, helpfully.

The officiant coughs. "If you're quite done—"

"No, we're not even close to being—"

"Sherlock, you can interrogate him on his planetary knowledge later," Eurus says. "It's our wedding day."

"I don't even know you!"

Molly shakes her head, but it's hard to feel true exasperation when she was the one to invite them. "Please, don't mind them. Let's do our vows."

With a long look at Sherlock, who has been elbowed both by John and by Mary (John's smile of thanks looks plenty interested, Molly decides smugly) to keep quiet, the officiant finally begins. To Molly, he asks, "Do you, Molly Hooper, take Eurus Holmes to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

They'd had the option of creating their own vows instead. They'd had the option of two registry clerks as their witnesses. Instead, they'd chosen this option, and Molly says, "I do," with Sherlock's yell of, "Holmes?" in the background.

"Ignore him, he's very excitable," Eurus advises the officiant.

Beside Sherlock, Jim's sniffles are audible.

"Do you, Eurus Holmes, take Molly Hooper to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

"I do," Eurus says, and it's nothing like their engagement, when they could say what they truly felt without onlookers. But it's just as good, because Molly knows the emotions in Eurus' eyes. They're the same ones Molly feels when she looks at her.

Their kiss is easy, a touch longer than it should be, but Molly can't bring herself to care.

"I really do," Molly says, smiling stupidly as they take care of their signatures. She puts the pen down, looks behind her at their little gang, and gives them a stern look. "If none of you catch my bouquet, I'll be very put out."

Sherlock tries to get away, but John holds him there by the collar. "We'll do our best on Molly's special day despite all the many secrets she's been hiding, right Sherlock?"

"Fine," Sherlock mutters, and he stays put.

Molly turns around and throws the flowers into the air, aiming for just behind her where the four of them stand. When she turns around, it's Sherlock holding the bouquet.

"It's only because I'm the tallest here," Sherlock tells her immediately.

"I can't wait to go to your marriage," Molly replies. She's completely serious. "Don't let me down."

"Congratulations," John says, collecting some manners out of somewhere. "I wish you both well."

Mary nods. "Same here. I think you're both crazy, but I'm happy for you."

Molly doubts Sherlock's going to say anything but questions, so before he can open his mouth, she says, "Mary, your last task: keep them here for a couple moments, will you?"

And they break into a run for the side doors, where a car already sits.

Eurus laughs as she keeps up with her. "We don't have to run. I trust Mary to make sure they don't get in our way."

"It's more fun this way," Molly replies to her once again wife.

They're never going to get a wink of space from Sherlock, especially not after the next stage of their plan. But at least they'll face the Holmeses together.

 

*

 

Their completely expected guest arrives at their apartment first thing next morning. Eurus makes her way slowly toward the door, getting up from the bed with a yawn as she listens to Sherlock's knocking. She stops by the bathroom for a second and gargles to get rid of her morning breath, the pounding at the door a constant soundtrack. Then, when it seems Sherlock has decided to break in, she opens the door.

"Please don't wake up my wife," Eurus says lightly.

Sherlock looks completely put together, but that's just battle armor. He looks confident, but his hands are also shaking slightly from the lack of sleep.

"You're not taking a honeymoon," Sherlock deduces as he barges in.

"I have some things to take care of here first," Eurus replies.

"Am I on the list?"

"You could be. It depends on why you're here."

"Answers," Sherlock says, oh so simply when it's not a simple question at all.

He looks good, her older brother. All dark hair and sharp cheekbones and intensity. She misses his laugh more, but she'll take the rest.

"Your dear doctor isn't here," she says.

"He's keeping an eye on that woman," Sherlock replies darkly.

"Mm," Eurus says. "I'm sure he's keeping a very steady eye."

Sherlock looks at her like she's the devil. "Who are you? We share some physical similarities and you obviously know me. The only reason I haven't gone to Mycroft—"

"You haven't gone to Mycroft?" Eurus asks, raising an eyebrow. "I'm surprised. I'd expected it, you know."

"There are so few people who even know of Mycroft. I'll say it again, who are you?"

"That's such a complicated question. Who are we, all of us, anyway? Just atoms floating through space." But because Sherlock looks like he's going to wear out the rug if he keeps stomping around, Eurus adds, "Sit down, Sherlock."

She takes a seat on the couch and with a scowl, Sherlock does the same across from her. He's so trainable. Eurus would rather have the old one, the one she's known for years now, (the one she terrified out of his mind before he helped put her back together), but she'll take this one.

"You're well-versed in deleting memories," Eurus begins. "Do you have a way of remembering what you don't remember? A way to catalog impressions of memories if not the actual thing?"

"I've never bothered. If I don't want to remember something, I doubt I'd need some kind of backup file." He's leaning in, intent now, reminding her of Jim just last week.

"Then let me give you a set of memories in words. Do tell me if you start to remember something." The Sherlock in the future had recovered some of what he'd lost, but most of it had been auditory, with the occasional true memory. "There was once a set of parents who were both quite brilliant, although the mother was much more so than the father. They had a child, a boy, and after some hardships, they had another boy seven years down the line. But the mother wanted a girl, you see. A pretty girl she could dress up in cute dresses and teach advanced mathematics to. It's a nice thought, though things didn't work out quite that way."

And so Eurus tells the tale of three intelligent children—too intelligent, too immature, too stupid. Eurus had been fascinated with people early on. She'd wanted to know everything about how they worked. Their parents had been forced to hide sharp objects in case she tried to dig into her chest cavity again. She'd stained any dresses her mother bought her with blood. She terrified the neighbor children with her probing questions. She'd been deeply jealous of her brother's friend in a way only a child could be. Children had to be taught empathy until they matured enough to truly understand it, but Eurus hadn't internalized those lessons. She'd been angry, vicious. The world had all these rules keeping her from figuring things out and her brothers had committed the worst of crimes—not paying attention to her.

Insanity had been so easy to give in to.

Eurus doesn't sugarcoat a single thing. She tells Sherlock of how she'd left his friend in a well and taunted her family with a riddle they'd never been able to solve.

She even sings it out. "I that am lost, oh who will find me? Deep down below the old beech tree. Help succour me now the east winds blow." And Sherlock, darling Sherlock, joins her on the last line. "Sixteen by six, brother, and under we go!"

"I think I'm remembering," Sherlock murmurs. "My parents, they sent you away afterward?"

"I'd been plotting to burn the house down, so it was deemed for the best," Eurus tells him. She can say it lightly now, but a part of her still burns. She'd been sent away and forgotten by everyone except Uncle Rudy when he wanted her brainpower. In time, she'd been forgotten completely. "Uncle Rudy and later Mycroft took over my care. Our parents were told that I'd died in a fire."

"You broke out?"

"I got so very bored. The outside world is much more interesting than the blank walls of a mental institution."

"Does Mycroft—stupid question. Of course he doesn't know."

"I took control of Sherrinford years ago and began to integrate myself back into society. I met Molly and—well, you saw the wedding."

Sherlock has so many questions. Of course he does. Eurus' story breaks down as soon as she starts lying about how exactly she'd gotten out of Sherrinford, which isn't a surprise. Sherlock doesn't have to be brilliant to know that two weeks ago, Molly had still been deeply in love with him.

The woman in question wakes up half an hour into Sherlock's visit and sighs at him when she sees him. "Interrogating newlyweds is bad form, Sherlock."

Still, she makes Sherlock a cup of coffee and offers him breakfast, which he refuses. Eurus is slightly offended on Molly's behalf, but she tries not to tease Sherlock too much. It's very easy, but she doesn't want to alienate him.

Sherlock is on a rant about how he could've never forgotten something of this magnitude, while Eurus accepts Molly's half-asleep cuddling on the couch across from him, when the front door swings open with an audible thump.

"It's only Mycroft," Eurus says when Sherlock starts to get up.

"The paperwork must have been processed," Sherlock deduces easily. "I don't understand why you married under your real name."

"I'm tired of being a secret," Eurus says simply. She doesn't turn to Mycroft, but directs her words at him. "And aren't you tired of keeping me one? From our parents, from the whole world, forgetting about me up until you need me to analyze Twitter for you."

Mycroft is alone. He must not have trusted her enough to bring anyone in with him. Smart man. He's younger, fatter, angrier.

He's trying to hide that anger, but it doesn't seem to be working at all. "How long have you been out, Eurus?"

"Security logs not working?" Eurus asks sweetly.

Mycroft gives her a sharp look. "Even the backups. I was forced to have words with the entire Sherrinford staff. They let you go knowing full well how dangerous you are—"

"I haven't killed anyone since I was a child, although I did badly brutalize a couple people down the line—" and this is so much better an argument ten years in the past, before she'd hatched all her plans and murdered a bunch more people "—and sure, I was dangerous. Was. And brilliant and so very young. The right course of action would have been rehabilitation, not shutting me away in the most secure facility Uncle Rudy could find for me. And after his death, you continued his strategy."

"You learned to control people—"

"I learned it because I was bored and no one would talk to me. There's a reason solitary confinement is generally used as a punishment, and extended use of it is thought as cruel in most civilized countries. You've read studies that have been done on its psychological effects. Was it really the best you could do?" I'm angry, she realizes, but it's silly. Eurus had been sure she'd gotten over it, that she'd put those emotions in a nice box next to the one with her murderous impulses. "You hid me from my parents and gave me the occasional treat as though that could make everything better. I was a wreck for ten years after being separated from my family and then all but catatonic for years afterwards. I saved myself since no one else was going to. I got out, learned to live, fell in love like a normal person."

"I'm Molly, by the way," Molly adds.

"Molly Hooper, I know. My sister is adept at manipulating people. I have no doubt as to what has happened here."

"She could be telling the truth," comes from a rather unexpected source. Eurus hadn't thought Sherlock would side with her. "Molly… had feelings for me, but her emotions now seem more genuine than the crush she'd had without ever knowing me well. And frankly, I doubt creating a false relationship with someone would be Eurus' first choice of plan if she wanted to deceive you. And Molly Hooper wouldn't have been a first choice."

"Excuse me," Molly quickly says, bristling.

Sherlock waves her words away. "You're known for having feelings for me and work closely with me. A better choice for falsity would have been someone I didn't know at all, so that I wouldn't be suspicious."

"You're not wrong," Molly admits. "Look, I'm not sure how I can prove it to you, but I love Eurus. We got married, for god's sake."

"And you're aware of her past?"

"We have no secrets from each other," Eurus tells him, her eyes firm. That had been one of Molly's ground rules, back at the very beginning of their relationship. Even when it would've been kinder to lie, Eurus has told her the truth. "I realize this isn't an optimal outcome for you, but this is the only outcome. I'm out and I won't be going back to Sherrinford. If you attempt to forcibly bring me back, I will be out within a week, and in the meantime there are multiple people who will make a fuss. Sherlock, our parents once they find out, my wife…"

"Jim Moriarty," Sherlock says, his expression pinched.

"Oh, Mycroft is aware of our friendship," Eurus tells him. "After all, Mycroft was the one who introduced us. It was so nice of him."

Sherlock turns to Mycroft, and Eurus can see he doesn't believe it at first, but Mycroft's eye flicker away from his brother.

"It was just another treat," Eurus tells him. "A replacement for the genius Mycroft would never let me see."

At this, even Mycroft looks uncomfortable. Good, since that is the plan. Molly's hand meets hers, a reminder: Eurus can be cruel, but the best things in her life haven't risen from cruelty.

"You'll just have to deal with it, Mycroft," Eurus tells him instead of pushing another blade in. "I'm not going anywhere."

In the coming hours, Eurus indulges her eldest brother, who continues to be in a state of shock. She allows him to test her sanity and ethics as best as he is able, with both of them aware that she could fool him easily. But Eurus doesn't—she lets him see, mostly, the person she really is. The woman who isn't good, isn't nice, but isn't going to back down. When he asks her if she's willing to go through an outside evaluation, Eurus lets him know she's more than willing to go off on her honeymoon instead (and wreak havoc on the rest of the world).

Molly, beautiful Molly, offers him a cup of calming chamomile tea.

 

*

 

It's three days later that Sherlock sits down next to her with a determined expression. He's followed her to her favorite coffee shop and scared away the person sitting next to her to get a seat, which is just so very Sherlock of him. “Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Fact: your personality changed overnight. Fact: so did Molly Hooper’s. Neither of you had any previous interaction before meeting each other, as I've researched thoroughly—you can wipe the cameras in Sherrinforn, but CCTV doesn't lie—and a week after you first met, you got married. I haven't been able to find any abnormalities in Molly's thought process and can't find evidence of you using your skills on her, and the some of the things she's mentioned make no sense at all. So, keeping in mind that I don't believe in either, psychic connection or time travel?”

 Eurus smiles widely. Oh, he’s her favorite, he really is. “Time travel.”

“That explains the drastic change in personality better than a psychic connection.”

“Are you sure you don't believe it?”

“I don’t completely not believe it. Tell me everything.”

“In the original timeline—”

“You sound like a science fiction novel protagonist.”

“Molly did get me addicted to Doctor Who.”

“Blerg.”

“You’d like it. Now, originally, Molly and I met in late 2017. I was only moderately insane at that point. I’d gotten up to some naughtiness earlier that year—pretending to be your client, seducing John, planting a bomb in Molly’s flat, murdering people, that sort of thing—”

“You’re enjoying this.”

“What’s life if not something to be enjoyed? And you do make the very best expressions. Anyway, that caused my parents to find out that I was alive. It was this great big scandal. They nearly bored me to death with good drugs and therapy until I was bored straight and on probation in the real world. Molly and I came into contact when I visited her apartment to fix a couple things and the rest is history.”

“That’s not even close to the whole story.”

"It's a story. Everyone has a version of events. That's all you're getting for now. Besides, don't you want to hear about yourself? You do well for yourself, you know. Your consulting gig even becomes a family business," Eurus says, gleefully.

"No."

"Oh yes. It’s quite fun. I don’t do it full time because you get all pouty, but it's something to do whenever I'm not too busy with Mycroft's jobs. He saves all the best conspiracies for me like a good big brother."

"I liked you better when you were angry with him."

"I'll always be angry with him. That doesn't mean he doesn't amuse me, or entertain me, or occasionally remind me that he is an actual person who makes mistakes and all that rubbish."

"How in the world did you become so well-adjusted, with the exception of being the bane of my existence?"

"The power of love," Eurus replies with a grin.

Sherlock's responding sound could nearly be called a scream.

It's not quite true, not exactly. The power of love is all well and good, but the power of two parents who railroaded Mycroft into finding a better medication and a proper facility that didn't hold cannibals had been even better. And then love had come along, rounding out those edges and making it all worthwhile.

"Are you going to do the same thing now? Work with Mycroft and me?"

"No," Eurus admits. "I'm afraid I've already had an alternate offer. One that I know I'll enjoy very, very, much."

 

*

 

A website goes up the next morning. It's clean, professional, and intriguing.

 

Holmes & Moriarty Consulting Detective Agency

Hire Eurus Holmes and Jim Moriarty, London's best consulting detectives, today!