“We can’t keep doing this.”
The thought kept running through her head as she got closer to Molly’s home. She should end this, she knew she should. This relationship just put her in danger. It put them both in danger, really; the enemies of the people who relied on the two of them would look for any chink in the men's armor to find a way in, to rip their lives asunder.
She knew the story of Mycroft’s past; in quiet nights at his home, over glasses of expensive brandy in front of his fireplace, he had trusted her enough to tell her the whole story, of how his younger sister had plotted to kill their youngest brother, and practised it by killing his beloved dog. How she’d done so and then tried to drown him while enticing him in a game of pirates.
How Sherlock’s life was never the same again.
The video message from Moriarty had come from her, they’d figured that out before Sherlock had, and now was the time to keep those they cared for safe. Because the both of them, her and Mycroft, did care. It was a disadvantage, one they had tried so hard to drum out of their lives, but they were only human. You can’t stop nine hundred attacks of humanity all at once on a daily basis without a few slipping in, and the one that had slipped her guard had been most surprising of all.
Molly Hooper had been quiet and scared the first few times she had picked her up for Mycroft, but after Sherlock’s “death,” for the weekly briefings that Molly was privy to to help make keeping the heavy load on her shoulders easier, the atmosphere changed. She was talkative, she was cheerful, she was nice. Anthea could see why Sherlock considered her important. Why he considered her close to a friend. And they chatted more often than not.
After Sherlock’s return, she had begun to cover Molly’s detail on her own. It wasn’t that hard to commandeer it; Mycroft had considered it of vital importance after Sherlock’s fall and so she had supervised from time to time, and it was still of importance after his return so she balanced it with her duties of monitoring his baby brother. She didn’t know when her admiration of Molly had turned into something more, but she started to use everything she could to make life easier for Molly in all the small ways, behind the scenes.
The engagement to that simpering fop Tom was a mistake, but she held her tongue. Not her place. She could hear the increasing arguments in both their flats, especially after the Watson wedding, as he felt that Sherlock returning was a “threat.” He was an idiot, really. Molly may have still cared for Sherlock, but she would have loved the idiot with all her heart and he was too blind to see it. When the engagement was over, she picked two bottles of expensive wine from Mycroft’s cellar and sent them to her with a note saying “My commiserations. Anthea.”
What surprised her was the text to her mobile a short time later, saying that wine and misery was better shared. Would she join her? It was not a good idea, she knew, but for once she thought of something more than what was the best idea and texted back yes. She went to Molly’s flat and they went through the wine, drinking and commiserating and, to her surprise, the evening ended with a confession: Molly thought she was pretty. Had for a while. Would like to kiss her. Not tonight, though. Maybe tomorrow?
And that was how it all started.
But now it had to end, for Molly’s safety and for the safety of both their hearts. Maybe, after whatever Mycroft and Sherlock did to take care of their psychopathic sister was finished, they could get together again, pick up where they left off. Anthea could go back to what was comfortable, to the woman who made her feel like there was a spot of home in London, to the woman who had stolen her heart. She wanted that more than anything. If she could have that then her life would be complete in ways she didn’t think Mycroft would ever understand. For that, she might always pity him.
The car pulled up outside Molly’s flat, and she had the door opened for her moments later and stepped out, heels clicking on the pavement as she went to the door. She knocked on it, and it opened a moment later with Molly standing there, a wide smile on her face that soon became more worried. “Andrea? Love, what is it? What’s wrong?”
The words she had practised saying in her head all flew away and she leaned forward, giving Molly a tender kiss. She would tell her in a moment. But there would be another way to protect her without breaking her heart, she decided as Molly kissed her back, reaching forward to steady herself by placing her hands on Anthea’s waist. There had to be another way, and damn it all to hell, if the Holmes brothers were as clever as they were always given credit to be, they would figure it out. Because there was no way she was breaking this woman’s heart again. Not now.