When Mycroft was first introduced to his brother it was after coming home late from a particularly awful piano lesson only to see someone else in his customary place on Mummy’s lap.
He paused in the open doorway, taking in the sight. Father was standing beside a chair placed in front of the large window, and Mummy was sitting in the chair looking as perfect as she always seemed to him- her dark hair curled and pulled back, barely brushing the shoulders of her favorite pale violet dress.
From this angle, Mycroft couldn’t tell exactly what Mummy was holding. It looked like a bundle of blankets. But why would Mummy be smiling in that adoring way at blankets?
His father noticed him standing uncertainly by the door, and suddenly Mycroft was the focus of that forceful gaze before it softened slightly.
“Mycroft, it’s good to see you’re home,” his father greeted with what was considered warmth from him. “Come in, your mother and I have a surprise for you.” He reached over and gently fingered one of Mummy’s curls- the most intimate Mycroft had seen them in years; often they were never in the same room. “A happy surprise.”
Doubtful, Mycroft slowly made his way into the room. He set his piano and school books down on the table next to the door before walking over to Mummy and Father.
Mummy finally looked up from the blankets in her arms as Mycroft stopped near the two of them. She gave him her warm, kind smile, the kind that always made him feel better, and asked softly, “Do you want to see?”
She sounded excited, and was already moving the bundle towards him, so Mycroft nodded and moved closer. Now standing right in front of Mummy’s slipper-clad feet, Mycroft stretched up on his toes in order to see better.
Just before he adjusted his balance to steady himself, Mycroft placed his hands lightly on Mummy’s knees, making sure not to use much of his weight. He knew he probably looked quite a sight, using Mummy to prop himself up, and he wondered if Father was laughing at him.
To his confusion, it really did seem to be just a bundle of blankets in Mummy’s arms. But then she turned it gently towards him, and suddenly light blue eyes were staring up at him.
Mycroft rocked back in surprise, then moved forward to get closer. Mummy even lowered the blankets right onto her lap again so he could see better.
Those light eyes met his again, staring at him just as intently. When he tore his eyes away, Mycroft took in the light dusting of dark curls the color of Mummy’s on top of the baby’s head, and its small body wrapped carefully in a blue blanket. He supposed it was rather cute, for a baby.
As Mycroft was leaning over to look at this strange and new little person, he felt something brush very lightly against his arm. He looked down and saw a small chubby fist lightly bump his arm as it waved around in the air.
Above him Mummy laughed in amusement- her real laugh, not the one she used in public- and said, “I think he likes you, Mycroft.”
Mycroft glanced up at her with a small smile before looking down again to meet those light eyes. They were transfixing somehow, and he felt an odd warmth building in his chest. “What’s his name?” Mycroft asked quietly, reaching forward and gently wrapping his hand around the much smaller one. Almost at once the baby’s entire tiny hand was wrapped around his thumb in a surprisingly strong grip.
This time his father was the one to speak. “This is your brother Sherlock.”
Obviously Mummy and Father hadn’t thought to spare his brother the difficulty of having a strange name. But maybe Sherlock would manage to live up to it.
“Hello, Sherlock,” Mycroft greeted warmly, the name feeling odd but right on his lips. ‘Welcome to the Holmes family,’ he added silently, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. ‘It’s a bit hectic.’
Mycroft was interrupted in the middle of his reading when his book began jerking up and down while at the same time the bed moved beneath him. He set the book down open on his lap and scowled at his younger brother.
“Sherlock, you know not to interrupt me when I’m reading,” Mycroft scolded as Sherlock unsteadily crawled over to where he was sitting up against the pillows.
But the younger boy just smiled cheekily up at him as he settled in next to Mycroft. In the past few months he’d begun to settle into a slimmer form- taking after Mummy, but his face was still rounded. He had also started wearing trousers and shirts instead of the one-piece outfits Mummy had bought for him, and today was no different. Mycroft wondered if Sherlock was trying to imitate him for some reason.
Mycroft looked down at his brother who was now leaning against his side and peering interestedly at the book resting on his lap. “This isn’t a book you’d like, Sherlock,” Mycroft told him, only to be amused by the resulting scowl aimed at him. “It’s much too old for you.”
But, as usual, Sherlock refused to be swayed. He tugged insistently on Mycroft’s sleeve then nodded his head at the book.
Used to his brother’s stubbornness by now, and wanting to avoid a possible tantrum- Sherlock had already learnt to pout enough to get his way most of the time- Mycroft gave in.
“All right,” he sighed as he shifted to a more comfortable position and to give Sherlock a better view. “I wish you would start talking though, this ongoing silence is getting annoying.”
As usual Sherlock didn’t answer. Instead he just moved closer until they appeared to be fused together.
Mycroft found himself smiling down at his little brother, and carefully wrapped an arm around the small body as he began to read aloud from his book on mysteries solved by modern science.
_ _ _ _
He knew his parents were beginning to worry about how Sherlock was taking so long to begin talking. Mycroft himself had been an early talker, speaking in near complete sentences by close to his third birthday. So his parents had expected Sherlock to follow the same path, as unlikely as that was.
The specialists Mummy had consulted- in secret and only out of concern for her son- told her Sherlock appeared to be developing perfectly normally and may simply just begin talking late. But Mummy hadn’t been appeased by this, and every time she was free from social obligations she called Sherlock to her rooms where- both subtly and unsubtly- she tried to cajole Sherlock into talking.
Mycroft understood that Mummy did this with Sherlock’s best interests at heart, but on the days his brother came to him instead of locking himself in his room, he saw how annoyed and frustrated Sherlock was. Mycroft had a feeling Sherlock knew and understood much more than he let on and was frustrated by how the people around him were trying to push him.
So, even if it meant putting his schoolwork aside for a time, Mycroft tried his best to look after Sherlock and especially to soothe his frustration. He didn’t think it could be much fun being left in the house with the housekeeper while Mummy and Father (when he was home) were occupied in their rooms and Mycroft was away at school.
Sometimes it wasn’t so much of a hassle looking after his brother as he’d imagined.
Almost as soon as Mycroft exited the car that had picked him up from school, Sherlock’s now almost gangly form barreled into his legs.
“Careful, Sherlock,” he warned, surprised by just how fast Sherlock had been moving. Mycroft set his schoolbag on the ground next to him and gently placed his hands on Sherlock’s shoulders, steadying him. “What’s the hurry?”
But Sherlock just impatiently tried to clasp one of Mycroft’s hands in both of his much smaller ones. “My’cof,” he insisted, the closest approximation of Mycroft’s name he could manage.
Mycroft had seen several times before the bright-eyed eagerness and smile now gracing the features Mummy had taken to describing as angel-like, and it was often a sign his brother was up to something. He supposed Sherlock was, as people said, a rather adorable child. His hair had grown long enough to fall in his face at times, especially when he ducked his head, and Sherlock’s sky-colored eyes and still softened cheekbone structure only heightened the image. Sherlock himself seemed to alternate between scowling whenever his appearance was praised, and taking advantage of it.
Yet more importantly, “You spoke. You finally spoke.”
Sherlock paused in his insistent tugging at Mycroft’s hand to treat his brother to the ‘you’re being stupid’ look he was still perfecting. Mycroft didn’t see it as often as his parents or the housekeeper typically did when they were trying to baby Sherlock, but sometimes Sherlock did get annoyed with him.
“Come on,” Sherlock insisted again, using all his strength to tug at Mycroft’s hand.
It probably looked ridiculous, Sherlock leading Mycroft by his hand around the side of the house to the backyard, but Mycroft followed anyway. He was still reeling over the fact that after worrying about his constantly silent brother, Sherlock had finally spoken. Yet it seemed very like his brother that Sherlock had decided to speak when he wanted to and out of excitement, not out of necessity or because someone wanted him to. Mycroft didn’t find the fact that Sherlock’s first word had been an approximation of his name as surprising, since he had been the one spending the most time with Sherlock- even if children’s typical first words of ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ were often spoken a year earlier.
Sherlock had pulled him across the lawn before finally stopping at the base of one of the trees that shadowed most of the lawn. “Sherlock,” Mycroft began confused, “why are-?”
But Sherlock tugged on his hand again, quieting him, and then pointed up into the tree. “Look!”
Mycroft lifted his head and tried to follow Sherlock’s finger. “I don’t see-“ he replied as he looked over the tree. But then Mycroft noticed what he suspected had caught Sherlock’s attention. “The bee hive?” He asked, looking back down at his brother.
Sherlock’s face nearly glowed as he nodded in enthusiastic agreement. “Like the book!”
Silently amused by his brother’s excitement, Mycroft thought back to the many books he had read to Sherlock recently. It didn’t help either that Sherlock had lately become obsessed with bees, trying to learn all he could about them.
Mycroft opened his mouth to ask Sherlock, but his brother’s short attention span had already been distracted. He was standing almost directly under the bee hive and squinting up at it with a determined, curious expression.
Luckily there weren’t any bees flying about just then, but Mycroft still quickly took Sherlock’s hand again. His brother glanced briefly at him but then looked back at the hive again.
The two of them stood in silence for several minutes until Sherlock turned back to Mycroft again. “Up,” he demanded with another tug.
Mycroft stared at his brother, just as surprised as he usually was around Sherlock. “You want me to lift you up there?”
Sherlock nodded rapidly, with the large eyes and slight pout he used when trying to get his own way. The act had never worked on Mycroft before, yet Sherlock was still trying to manipulate him.
“No, Sherlock,” Mycroft said firmly. “It’s too dangerous.”
The light eyes narrowed in response while the pout only grew in strength. “Wanna see,” Sherlock not-quite whined, looking like he would stomp his foot any time now.
“No, Sherlock,” Mycroft repeated in his sternest voice. He wasn’t quite as good as father at forbidding things, not yet, but it came in useful with Sherlock.
His brother glared up at him through his fringe- it probably needed to be trimmed soon- and asked petulantly, “But why?”
Mycroft had feared hearing those words from Sherlock. He’d suspected that as soon as Sherlock learned the question it would open the floodgates for the constant demand of why; he just hadn’t expected it to begin so soon. “It’s too dangerous,” Mycroft found himself repeating yet again, even if it wasn’t quite an answer, “you might get hurt.”
The expression on Sherlock’s face clearly asked, “So?”
Before Mycroft could begin to explain why it was even more important not to do something if it was dangerous, at least not without him nearby, the doors at the back of the house opened. As they both turned to look, the housekeeper moved to stand in the doorway. She waved at the two of them and called, “your mother wants to see you boys, you’d better hurry.”
The housekeeper sounded oddly stressed, making Mycroft wonder if Mummy was in one of her moods today. Sherlock sighed quietly, and Mycroft turned in time to see Sherlock glance up at the upstairs windows. Mummy had been even more absent from Sherlock’s life then she had his own, so every time Sherlock saw her he experienced a not-quite visible struggle between excitement and discomfort.
Mycroft gently squeezed Sherlock’s hand, and his brother tore his eyes from the windows to him- the worry fading in the transition. Instead Sherlock smiled and then began hesitantly leading him back towards the house.
As they walked through the door, the housekeeper cast a doubtful look at Sherlock’s clothes. They did look faintly wrinkled, and Mycroft wondered if Sherlock had tried to climb the tree and get close to the hive on his own before he had come home.
“What have you been up to my dear?” She asked warmly, used to finding Sherlock in the midst of unusual activities for a child his age, and in untidy clothes. Since he wasn’t quite able to read yet, although Mycroft was trying to teach him, Sherlock had been finding other- often mischievous- ways to amuse himself. One day, Mycroft had even come home from school to find Sherlock sitting on the piano bench trying to mimic him when he practiced. Sherlock wasn’t quite hitting the keys, but Mycroft had still hurried across the room to stop his brother and try to teach him how to properly play. Sherlock hadn’t quite understood, but it was still an effort.
This time Sherlock raised his head to smile at the housekeeper.
“Playin’,” he announced happily. “By the hive.”
Just as Mycroft had done, she stared at Sherlock before her face transformed with happiness. “It’s good to finally hear your voice, dear,” the housekeeper told him, her eyes slightly wet.
Sherlock must have noticed that, because his smile faded somewhat. Mycroft had a feeling his brother was annoyed that the housekeeper- and him to a lesser extent- were making a big deal out of what Sherlock must see as nothing important. Sherlock had likely been able to talk for a while now; he’d just chosen himself when he wanted to start speaking aloud. And, for some reason, Sherlock had wanted his first words directed towards Mycroft.
Sherlock tugged lightly on his hand, silently indicated that he wanted to leave. Mycroft understood and, after saying goodbye to the housekeeper, walked with Sherlock towards the front stairs. By this time his brother could easily walk up and down the stairs on his own, but Sherlock almost clung to Mycroft’s hand as they made their slow progress up the stairs.
The two of them paused in front of Mummy’s rooms at the very end of the hall just above the greenhouse. And, after glancing down at Sherlock, Mycroft raised his hand to knock on the double doors.
Mummy’s voice was faintly muffled as she called them in, as if she was preoccupied with something else.
Mycroft turned the handle and gently pushed the door open. It creaked a little on its hinges as it swung open to reveal the elaborate room Mummy used as a dressing/sitting room.
Mummy herself was sitting on a bench covered in green silk with a wooden base and legs. Sherlock was wearing one of her most elaborate dressing gowns in purple and red silk with a velvet neck and cuffs, the fabric tied tightly around her thin, perfectly shaped body. Her own dark curls were carefully half-pinned up on the top of her head while she tried to arrange the rest of her hair with the pins sticking out of her for once lipstick-less mouth.
Instead of turning her head to actually look, her eyes found them in the mirror standing by the door. Her dark eyes lit up at the sight of them, and she quickly removed the pins from her mouth to replace them on the dressing table. “Mycroft, Sherlock, come in dears,” she greeted, leaving her hair alone and turning to face them.
Sherlock finally released Mycroft’s hand and moved slowly into the room. He didn’t quite run- but it was faster than he usually walked- to Mummy who greeted him warmly then pulled him up into her lap despite her dressing gown. She made a teasing complaint about how heavy he was getting, which got a brief scowl from Sherlock, then wrapped her arms around him.
Mycroft came to stand just in front of them, waiting and watching. Mummy finally raised her head to smile warmly at him. “I hope your brother has been looking after you, Sherlock.”
“I have-“ Mycroft began to respond, but then Sherlock decided to speak up.
“We looked at the hive,” Sherlock told her excitedly, looking up at her with a bright smile. “The one in the tree.”
Mummy was not usually lost for words; she seemed to always have the right ones at hand. But this time a few moments passed before a bright smile broke across her face and her arms tightened even more around Sherlock’s small body. “Oh, sweetheart,” she whispered softly, rested her head against the top of his.
Sherlock squirmed slightly in her tighter embrace, but he didn’t quite try to get away. Instead he looked almost pleadingly at his brother.
Mycroft just smiled back at him, seeing this as something Sherlock had to withstand for at least a few minutes. Sherlock had to have known delaying speaking had been causing Mummy to almost constantly worry for more than a year now. Mycroft- mostly- understood why Sherlock had done so, but he still didn’t think Sherlock have worried Mummy so much.
But eventually Mycroft decided to rescue his brother. “Mummy,” he began cautiously, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice. “Why did you want to talk to us?”
The reminder made her loosen her arms but she still held him carefully on her lap. “Oh, yes. Of course. I had hoped to spend a quiet night with the two of you, but I’m afraid something has happened.”
To Mummy’s credit she did truly sound sorry, and held Sherlock a little closer. A quiet night with Mummy was a rare treat since she was away so often at social functions. But of course what was probably another event of some kind had interrupted that treat- even on the night of such an important occasion. Yet it did explain why she was in her dressing gown and doing her hair and makeup so early in the afternoon.
On her lap the beginnings of a major pout, or sulk more likely, was growing on Sherlock’s face at the prospect of losing a night with Mummy. He hadn’t been able to spend as much time with her as he should have- every little boy needed their mum. And while she seemed to be happy, overjoyed really, about Sherlock finally talking, Mummy appeared to be continuing with her evening plans.
Instead of dissolving into a sulk like he’d be threatening, Sherlock did his best to turn himself around. He wasn’t very coordinated and nearly fell off as he turned, his brow furrowed with concentration. When Sherlock managed to more or less face Mummy, he leaned forward and clutched at the fabric of the dressing gown at her waist and above her heart.
Despite his age Sherlock had never been one to cry, even with fake tears. He might pout or sulk or throw tantrums, especially to try and get his way, but he never cried or dissolved into tears. That was why Mycroft was surprised when he heard Sherlock whisper quietly, his voice shaking a little, “don’t go, Mummy.”
Mycroft heard Mummy’s breath catch a little at Sherlock’s plea, and her features softened. “I’m sorry sweetheart,” she apologized while gently running a comforting hand up and down his back. “But this is important to me.” Mummy then gently took his hands and peeled them off of her dressing gown. She looked down at him, staring into the light eyes of her youngest son, and promised, “I’ll be home in time to read you your new book.” Mummy told Sherlock warmly, running her fingers gently through his curls.
Sherlock seemed to be mostly appeased by this since he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and then smiled shakily at her. But he didn’t say anything when Mummy gently but firmly helped him down from her lap, or when Mycroft took his hand and led Sherlock back out of the room, stopping only at the door to call goodbye.
It wasn’t until it was Sherlock’s bedtime and Mummy still hadn’t returned that Sherlock finally let Mycroft into his room. And after he helped his brother into his pajamas and tucked him in, Sherlock asked Mycroft to read the new book Mummy had bought for him several days earlier.
Of course he did feel guilty reading the book Mummy had promised to read Sherlock. At first he’d tried to convince his brother to read another book and wait for Mummy, but Sherlock had threatened to throw a tantrum worse then any other before, so Mycroft had quickly given-in. Sherlock had adapted the Holmesian habit of never actually yelling or raising your voice; instead he was on his way to perfecting the technique of scowling, with his arms crossed, and giving the unfortunate person a certain look from beneath his fringe. So far it had proven successful, even without any words.
Books were quickly becoming Sherlock’s favorite thing, and he loved being read to. Mycroft was sure that as soon as Sherlock learned to read- which probably wouldn’t be very long- Sherlock would insist on reading all of them himself. There was also a special shelf in his room that was only for Sherlock’s favorites. Some of them were typical children’s stories, but most were more educational.
The next day when Mummy returned, she immediately set about finding a tutor for Sherlock. At first she considered Mycroft’s tutor from years before, but then she seemed to think her two boys were too different for it to work.
While Mummy searched for a tutor, Mycroft took it upon himself to teach Sherlock. As soon as he came home from school, and right before dinner, he and Sherlock went to his room. There Mycroft painstakingly taught his brother his numbers and letters, followed quickly by how to write simple words and spell his own name. Sherlock was a quick study just as Mycroft had expected, and seemed to absorb information as quickly as he could.
Mummy then- in-between her social functions- finally found someone who she thought would be the perfect tutor for her Sherlock.
The first one lasted an entire week before Sherlock managed to run him off. The man practically stormed out of the house, yelling about how impossible that child was.
The other two Mummy employed in the short time before Sherlock began school lasted for four days, and then only two.
It was then that Mummy said she washed her hands of the matter, and Mycroft resumed teaching Sherlock. By then Sherlock was able to read full sentences, and together they worked through Sherlock’s many books.
As treats, at bedtime when he tucked his brother in Mycroft would read to Sherlock from some of his older books. They fascinated Sherlock, and often he’d try to read a few sentences before giving up in frustration and lying back to just let Mycroft read to him. Sherlock found it annoying when he wasn’t able to do something- even given his age- so Mycroft was never very surprised on days when he came home from school to find his books in a different order then how he’d left them.
His brother could be very persistent when trying to overcome something.
And on the day Sherlock managed to slowly but correctly read an entire paragraph from one of Mycroft’s books, he had never been so proud.