rock bonnet

Fortunate Happenstances

I decided to write this because of the overwhelming response I got for the previous regency piece I wrote. This is just a silly little piece, which I had a tremendous amount of fun writing. It is unrelated to the previous one (though you could probably think of it as a prequel of sorts?). Thanks for all your prompts. I’m currently working on them.

Hope you enjoy it :)

***

Mrs Anne Hooper had always loved to ride. She was an extremely private woman, to be sure, completely out of place in the company of others, and yet, there was something about the presence of a horse which made her feel at ease at once.

To her pleasure, it was a trait she had passed on to her daughter, Margaret (or Molly, as she would be known).

It had been something that the mother and daughter would enjoy doing together, she on the ageing mare Athena and Molly on her beloved foal Aidan.

The two ladies would find a secluded field or forest, and then discard all societal values and ride astride.

“Safety first,” Anne had told her daughter, when Molly had asked why they wouldn’t ride side saddle.

Now when Molly rode, it was when she particularly missed her mother, or when she wished to be closer to her.

Indeed, today was one of those days, when Molly made her way into the forest where she would ride with her late mother, and just wandered through the trees, giving Aidan a gentle pat every now and then.

She smiled contentedly, as she came to a small stream. She dismounted and sat on the rocks, removing her bonnet as she did so. She lifted the hem of her skirts slightly, and dipped her toes in the stream, as she watched Aidan lapping up the clean water, both the horse and its mistress willing he moment never to end.

***

“For the last time, mother, I have no interest in meeting another of those insipid women! Why can you not understand that I should like to remain unmarried? Why can you not inflict your schemes on Mycroft, for goodness sake!”

Unable to take any more of his mother’s matchmaking, William Sherlock Scott Holmes stormed out of the house, grabbing his shotgun as he left.

Catching his trail, his gun, Redbeard, was soon at his heels.

The Irish Setter had been bought into the family when Sherlock was younger, originally to serve as a hunting dog. However, over the years, Sherlock had found a form of companionship with the dog that he had seldom, if ever, found with any human.

Redbeard seemed to know when Sherlock needed someone to simply be with him, if only so his rants did not go unheard, as now.

“Why won’t she understand, Redbeard? There is no woman for me! I do not wish to settle, I do not wish for the normalcy that marriage is sure to bring to life. I do not! OH HELL!” He shouted the final two words and pointed his gun into the trees, even in his anger making sure not to hit any wildlife.

BANG!

Sherlock sank down by a tree, the shotgun falling from his hands. His eyes closed momentarily, a frown covering his brown, before Redbeard came towards him and began to lick his face. He pushed the dog away, but his pet was persistent and soon the master was laughing, his prior mood temporarily forgotten.

“Oh, you have managed to get mud on my face, silly dog,” he told his pet fondly, before getting up. “Come, Redbeard. Let us make for the stream.”

As they neared the stream, however, Sherlock froze. There, before him, was the most wondrous sight he had ever beheld.

On the rocks sat a young lady, softly humming to herself. She was not, perhaps, the most beautiful woman he had laid eyes on, yet there was something enchanting about the contentment on her visage, something mesmerising in the way her freckles glinted in the sun, and the way her bonnet was clasped in her hand, as her hair blew freely in the wind. 

She must be a woodland sprite, thought he, as a heretofore unexplored feeling arose in his chest. He wished there were some way to capture the moment, but knew that he would soon have to make his presence known to her.

He walked towards her, almost in a trance, as he wondered how he would introduce himself. Yet, fate conspired to take the introductions out of his hand.

***

Woof!

Molly was startled out of her reverie by a shout of protest, followed by a bark. She turned her head towards the source of the noise, to see Aidan standing at the side of the stream, looking guilty (or as guilty as possible for a horse to look). Next to him was a large dog, his barks sounding more like guffaws of laughter.

She soon realised what both animals were both staring at, as a pair of arms emerged from the stream, followed by a head, gasping for breath.

“Oh, Aidan,” she whispered, bringing a hand up to her mouth, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. She chose to simply blush, as the man pushed himself out onto the bank beside her and paused to catch his breath.

He was a handsome man, to be sure. His dark curly hair had become damp, and was plastered to his forehead. She had never seen a man so unclothed before. He wore no more than breeches and a white shirt, which now stuck to his arms and chest, allowing her to see his well defined muscle structure, and his long legs were stretched out in front of him.

He ran a hand through his hair, pushing it out of his eyes, and Molly was almost tempted to assist him. She turned her head away and blushed even more furiously, chastising herself for thinking such unladylike thoughts.

As her eyes turned towards him, almost of their own volition, she caught him looking in her direction, a strange introspective look gracing his features.

He seemed to shake himself out of his thoughts when he saw her regarding him, and stood up before walking towards her.

“I believe I have made the quite the fool of myself,” he spoke, embarrassedly. He certainly was tall, and she almost felt she would break her neck from the strain of looking up at him.

“Aidan is… fiercely protective of me,” she said, using all her effort to keep her voice steady.

“Yes, indeed,” he said, a hint of amusement in his tone as he glanced at the animals. Aidan was currently looking extremely displeased, as the excitable dog sniffed the ground around his legs. She let out a giggle at the sight and his head immediately turned towards her. There eyes met, and suddenly they both could not control it any longer.

Should anyone have come across the sight at that moment, they would have been alarmed and slightly concerned for the sanity of the man and woman, two complete strangers who were currently sitting on the bank, almost crying of laughter.

The scene was only interrupted as the animals now made their way towards the owners, Aidan nuzzling his mistress’s neck, and the dog licking his master’s hand. Their laughter died down, as they finally looked towards each other.

“I believe it is time to depart,” Molly said, getting to her feet, and the man stood up too.

“But we have not been introduced,” he said, a sense of something resembling urgency in his tone. 

“Molly,” she told him with a hasty curtsey, not wishing to reveal her full name to a complete stranger, and yet unable to leave him without an answer. He seemed to understand, as he bowed.

“Sherlock,” he told her. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Molly. I hope it shall not be the last we see of each other.”

The genuineness with which he spoke made her blush again, and she nodded slightly, not trusting herself to speak, before turning around, and walking away, Aidan following closely behind.

***

He watched her go, feeling a strange pang of loss.

Woof!

He glanced down to see Redbeard sniffing a strange item… her bonnet! She had left her bonnet behind. He picked it up and shoved it in his pocket, before making his way home, preparing to face his mother’s displeasure.

“A grown man, fleeing from his mother, when all she desires is his happiness! I have never heard such a thing, have you, Mr Holmes?”

“No indeed,” his father said from his place by the fireplace, with a smirk at his son, and Sherlock frowned slightly towards him.

“No, indeed! And to come home in such a state, soaked through and through. What have you to say for yourself?” To his credit, Sherlock looked ashamed as he looked down to his feet.

“I fell into the stream,” he mumbled.

“Sherlock. You know that is not what I meant.”

“I am sorry, mother. I should not have left so,” he said, quietly, before finally meeting his mother’s eyes. “However, I rest my case. I do not wish to get married, mother.”

There was silence for a few moments, as mother and son looked at each other, and his father’s eyes flitted between them. Eventually, his mother sighed.

“Oh, Sherlock. All I have ever desired is your happiness. Your brother shall inherit the estate, and he shall be perfectly content to spend the rest of his days handling business. That is his nature. However, I have always believed that the two of you are different. Where he finds comfort in solitude, you, from a young age, have craved companionship. Whether that be from dear Mrs Hudson, or Watson and Lestrade, or even Redbeard.”

She paused and gently placed a hand on her son’s cheek. “I do not wish for you to remain behind. To be alone.”

He swallowed, finally understanding why his mother was so keen for him to find a wife. He took his mother’s hand in his.

“Mama, I understand how you feel. I felt the same, just months previously,” he admitted to her. “However, since then, Lestrade has gotten engaged, and Watson is well on his way to being in love with young Miss Morstan. Nothing has changed, mama. I will not be left behind. I will move on with them.”

He embraced his mother, and they stood there for a moment, his father coming towards them and resting a hand on his shoulder. 

“Very well, then,” his mother said to him. “If you are certain, I shall no longer push you. You shall, however, have to bear dinner this evening. It has long been arranged.”

“Mr Hooper is a friend of mine,” his father spoke, finally. “You and his daughter, Margaret, would play together as children. You got on very well. However, they moved out of the county when his wife grew ill, and have only recently returned, so perhaps you would not remember.”

“Do try to befriend her, Sherlock,” his mother told him, and when he made to interrupt, she added, “just friendship, that is all.”

He nodded and left to change, and his parents stared fondly in his wake.

“We have raised him well, Elizabeth.”

***

“Ah, Molly. You are home. Would you come here a moment?” Her father called her into his study as she returned home.

“Yes, papa?” she asked, making her way towards him.

“We are to have guests dine with us this evening. A friend of mine, from Cambridge, and his family,” he told her.

“I shall change at once,” replied she, and made to walk out, but his voice stopped her.

“He has a son, about your age, Molly. William, I believe the name was,” said he, and she turned back towards him.

“Oh papa, you know I have no desire to leave you,” she told him, placing a hand on his cheek and he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. 

“I know, Molly, I know. But you must consider it eventually. I shall not be here forever, my dearest child.”

Molly turned away to hide the tears which had immediately filled her eyes.

“Very well, papa,” she muttered.

“If nothing, it would be nice for you to become friends,” he told her, and she left the room with an honest smile at him. Mr Hooper then looked towards the likeness of his wife on his desk. “She has grown to be a good girl, Anne.”