Plenty of people had clucked their tongues when the engagement was first announced. Well, it got little notice at first since it appeared on The Science of Deduction, but once it appeared on The Personal Blog of Dr. John H. Watson, Twitter was atweet with the news and the tabloids managed a small flurry of headlines even in the midst of a royal scandal. It may have helped that Sherlock himself in the middle of that scandal. Not as a participant but as the accidental exposer and subsequent case solver.
So the actual head shaking and tsking had started, both online and among Sherlock and Molly’s circle of coworkers and acquaintances, about two weeks after the actual engagement. Not among the close ones, of course, but those could be numbered at around ten people. It seemed that, despite seven years and two children, to the general public and those with only a passing acquaintance with the couple, Sherlock remained an insufferable prat who trampled all over Molly’s feelings, and Molly remained the little mouse who allowed him to do it. The tabloids even called her Mousy Molly. “It’s bad enough that she’s tied to him forever by those two children,” one online commentator calling herself “SherlysSweetheart had espoused. “But to willingly bind herself to him legally? There’s no hope for her now.”
To say that Billy Wiggins had been surprised at these characterizations when they first began to filter into his consciousness is an understatement.
Of course, not everyone had been privy to the sort of introduction Billy Wiggins had to Molly Hooper. He can still picture it clearly, those slaps ringing through the room and Shezza, so cool and above it all, taken to task by such a diminutive little thing. The first time he’d encountered Molly after, sent on an errand for a recuperating Sherlock, he’d been so nervous he’d knocked over the very tray of slides he’d been sent to pick up. He’d expected her to round on him violently but instead she’d fussed over a tiny cut on his hand.
He still remained terrified of her for quite a while.
Not a lot of folks knew about those slaps, though. John Watson hadn’t written it up on his blog and when Billy had mentioned it on his own, “World of Wig,” his blog had been hacked and turned into a site for My Little Pony cosplay while the bleeding post was still in draft. It had been one little line in a long list of reasons why The Missus was perfect for Mr. Holmes. All Sherlock had needed was to tell him to cut it and he would have. No need for a year’s worth of adventures to get lost in the process.
Billy eyed the Missus warily as she approached, looking far more serious than the occasion warranted.
“William,” she said. “Billy,” she tried again after he scowled. “You have to get out on the dance floor. You’re the only single lad not out there.”
“No, Molly. The Detective Inspector snuck out to have a smoke right after bouquet toss.”
“Well, he’s engaged and there’s a date set. No need for him to try for the garter.”
“No need for me, either. Silly tradition innit?”
“Of course, but you can’t try to pull that Sherlock attitude when Sherlock himself is gladly participating.”
Well, since she put it that way. It certainly did put a new spin on the process, watching engaging in something so absolutely normal. He followed Molly back to the dance floor, where all of the other unattached men stood in a loose clump, looking mostly reluctant but game for anything that smacked of competition. Billy assessed the others and determined that while his height would give him a definite advantage, the agility of some of the younger lads might give them a slight edge. Little Milo Hooper-Holmes attempted to join the crowd but once his sister Imogen told him that catching the garter, which was basically underwear, meant he’d have to get married, he bolted under the nearest table, with only his yellow socked feet (his shoes had been abandoned approximately three seconds after the ceremony ended) poking out from under the long white tablecloth. Billy positioned himself front and center.
The DJ began blasting “Pour Some Sugar on Me” as John Watson brought a chair to the center of the dance floor. Molly sat, looking up shyly at her approaching husband. Sherlock’s face couldn’t be described as giddy, but his stiff smile wasn’t completely pained. He had decided to do this--most likely to please his mother--and would do it with as much dignity as he could dredge up.
With a stiff bow to the gathering, he turned toward his bride. As Sherlock met Molly’s eyes his strained smile melted into a soft regard. He knelt in front of her and she leaned toward her groom.
“You don’t have to do this,” she said.
“We wouldn’t want to deprive Mrs. Hudson of a dance with a virile young man, would we? The man she’s brought with her is practically a corpse.” Sherlock said. They both looked toward their landlady, who waved Molly’s bouquet of yellow peonies and blew the couple a kiss.
Sherlock slid his hand deftly under his bride’s skirt and swiftly pulled the garter down and off her leg. He stood, tossed it in the air and catching it before holding it aloft.
“Tradition dictates I’m now to catapult this item blindly into the crowd of lecherous masculine types and hope that there won’t be the mad dash to not catch it as there was among the single ladies?”
Now that had been something. Billy hadn’t been to many weddings, but he’d witnessed more than one bouquet get torn to shreds by ladies fighting over it. But when Molly had tossed hers it had landed on the floor with a thud at Mrs. Hudson’s feet. Several of the women had actually stepped back as it arced through the air, their hands behind their backs as if Molly were throwing a sack of cat sick. Mrs. Hudson had shrugged and said “Don’t mind if I do.” She’d picked up the flowers then winked prettily at her escort, a pastry shop owner from Chelsea who was eighty five years old if he was a day.
The gentleman in question did look quite keen, despite his years, crouched like a football goalie as he eyed Sherlock. Billy considered stepping aside but before he could maneuver, Sherlock launched the garter from his finger and it struck Billy square in the eye, bounced, and landed in his hand. As the other guest clapped, he looked over to Mr. Norris, who glared daggers at him.
“Sorry, mate. Erm.” He looked to Mrs. Hudson and then to Sherlock, and back to Mr. Norris. “If you’d like to do the honors I’d be more than happy to oblige. Sir.”
“Don’t be silly, William,” Mrs. Hudson said. “We don’t want to mess with wedding traditions. These two need all the luck they can get. Alistair will have me for the rest of the evening and for much longer if he plays his cards right.” She winked at her date and handed him the bouquet. “These might want a little water. Be a dear?”
With one more baleful look, Mr. Norris left in search of a vase. As the music began, Mrs. Hudson took Molly’s place in the chair. He knelt in front of her and she held out a stocking clad leg demurely. They were still quite shapely and Billy only turned a bit pink as he slid the lacy garter up to her thigh, quite relieved that Mrs. Hudson had sent her paramour away. He wasn’t sure he could have done such a thing with Mr. Norris breathing down his neck. The crowd applauded and the DJ faded out the 80s anthem in favor of a more romantic tune.
Billy offered Mrs. Hudson his hand and led her to the center of the floor. Molly and Sherlock followed suit and several other couples trickled onto the dance floor.
“Otis Redding is such a favorite of mine,” Mrs. Hudson said as they swayed to the music. “Mr. Hudson preferred big bands. A word of advice, dear. You might think that Sinatra is good accompaniment for the bedroom, but you’d be wrong.”
Billy considered this for a moment as he twirled his partner. “Why not, then?”
“Those bloody trumpets! Not mellow like the ones in this song, mind. Just blasting and blaring away!”
“I can see how that might be a turn off.”
They danced for a few more bars, laughing as Milo and Imogen rushed over to cut into their parents’ dance.
“Everything’s going well though? He’s treatin’ you good?”
“Yes he’s delightful. And I’m perfectly willing to admit he’s a better baker than I am, even with the special treats. Thank you for your advice on butter to ‘herb’ ratio, by the way. It made all the difference.”
Billy puffed up with pride. “Always a pleasure to bestow my knowledge, madam.” He twirled her again, with a bigger flourish, as the song came to an end. As the next one began, he spotted Mr. Norris circling the edge of the dance floor.
“I believe someone will want the next dance,” he said, nodding at his partner’s date.
“Oh alright. He steps on my toes a bit but he’s learning. You take care, dear. And stop in the next time you’re at Baker Street.” She stood on her tip toes to bestow a kiss on his cheek before Mr. Norris swept her away.
Billy sighed and went back to his table, his glass of sparkling cider grown warm.
Sherlock walked up and stood beside him, watching the older couple dance.
“Don’t worry; it’ll be over within the month. She hasn’t discovered the off track betting addiction yet.”
“Oh I thought it’d be the money laundering through this shop.”
“She’s probably helping him out with that.”
Sherlock waited a few measures before speaking again. “I should probably tell you that expediency is vital. Obviously in this case since she’s practically at death’s door. But in general, too. The good ones have a tendency to slip through your fingers. You’ll look back and regret the wasted time. Or so people say.”
Billy looked up at his friend, whose face was carefully schooled. “Right.”
Sherlock glanced at his watch. “Well, I think we can make our exit now without scandalizing anyone. If you’ll excuse me.” He strode back to his wife, who he dragged away unceremoniously, only stopping to remind his children to behave and mind what the Watsons said.
Mrs. Hudson and Mr. Norris had snuck away, too, but Billy didn’t mind. Things looked mighty sunny in that regard, if you asked him.