Mycroft stood regally by the fireplace in his study. ”You know you have to keep it a secret, Sherlock. No mortal can know.”
He was lounging in the chair he favored, his leg over the arm. Only when he really wanted to annoy his brother did he toss all sense of decorum and propriety out the window, especially since the chair wasn’t that comfortable to begin with and the position made it less so. ”Easy enough for you to say. Your assistant who’s tied to you nearly twenty-four hours a day is one of us.”
“Well, that’s what you get for going and getting attached to a mortal army doctor, a mortal pathologist and a mortal inspector at Scotland Yard,” Mycroft said, a hint of snideness in his tone.
“And a mortal housekeeper,” Sherlock said, rolling his eyes. “Yes, I know. I set myself up among mortals. I purposefully chose to live among them. It’s my own fault for that. Etcetera, etcetera. You’ve had this tune for years.” He couldn’t stand the position anymore so he put himself to rights and then simply slumped to the side, resting his elbow on the arm of the chair and settling his cheek on his knuckles. “At least I didn’t become a hermit like Sherrinford.”
“Sherrinford had no other choice,” Mycroft said quietly, gazing into the fire. “Not after the incident.” He lifted the snifter of brandy in his hand and took a sip. “And if you aren’t careful, Sherlock, with your continued pushing yourself to your absolute limits, you might be next.”
Sherlock bit back a sigh. His brother had always felt himself his keeper, ever since he was young. It appeared that would never change, not in a million years. He wondered when he would ever get out from under his brother’s thumb. Possibly never, he supposed. Perhaps if Sherrinford…no, it didn’t do to dwell on that. No one in the family talked about it. No one admitted that Sherrinford existed, for the most part. He was an afterthought these days, as though he had never really been a part of the family.
He supposed if he wasn’t careful, one day, he might be an afterthought as well.
The world knew he was different. They knew he was a genius, a man who could solve the trickiest of tricky crimes. The ones that were deemed unsolvable by most. His reputation had grown steadily larger as time had gone by, ever since John had come into his life and started keeping the blog. The Detective and the Blogger, the Crime Fighting Duo. Oh, there were so many monikers for them, so many names. He was someone the world thought they knew every fascinating tidbit about, and what they didn’t know they wanted to learn.
But there was one secret they absolutely couldn’t know, as his brother was just now reminding him.
He, William Sherlock Scott Holmes, had been born with the ability to do magic.
Not the cheap parlour tricks that stage magicians could do, the illusions meant to wow and mystify and audience, the type of stuff that could be easily debunked. No, he knew real magic. Old magic. The kind of magic that traveled through bloodlines as old as time immortal, the stuff Druids talked of long ago. He could do almost anything, really. For one as young as he was, for someone who honestly didn’t study ancient texts half as hard as his brothers had or practice anything near as much he was twice as powerful as they were.
He just…didn’t care. It made him different, even more different than he already was. His brilliance had set him apart in many ways; being able to do magic, being something separate than mere mortals had been icing on a cake he had simply not wanted. When he had been a young child he had reveled in it, but when he got older, when Mycroft pressed the importance of hiding his abilities, hiding the truth about himself, when he saw what happened when someone trusted the wrong person…he was more than eager to do so. Being seen as just a cold, egotistical genius was fine by him.
And yet when Donovan had called him a freak he’d hated that term so much. He’d always kept that icy demeanor when she said it but the words hit like a blow to the gut. It was the worst thing to hear, the one insult that actually hurt. When the children he’d been around growing up had called him that, he’d held back tears until he had absolute privacy, then let tears fall. When he’d heard it as a teen, and later in his university years, he’d turned to heroin to numb it all away. By the time he was an adult he’d swallow it down and let it sit there, cutting on the way down, making him hate the world just a little more.
But his friends had healed those bits of him. It was true they didn’t know they whole truth, they could never know the whole truth, but over time, John and Molly and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson had made him feel…normal. Or at least more normal than he had ever felt in his life before. He appreciated that more than he could tell them. He wasn’t great at showing it, unfortunately; the Christmas party had made that abundantly clear, but he was willing to try harder. He supposed he could say it was a New Year’s resolution, if he actually believed in that type of twaddle. They had done some good for him; he supposed he should be better at showing them that they were important to him.
Even if they were mortal, and that meant he had to listen to his brother make snide commentary on the fact.
Mycroft turned to him. “You can’t afford to go into withdrawal, Sherlock,” he said. “I do not have the time, energy or resources to bring you out of it without questions being raised.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “You’re worried I’ll get careless and get caught because I’ve surrounded myself with mortals,” he said. “Mycroft, it’s not as though I spend my evenings in the sitting room. I do happen to have a bedroom, which is fitted, if you might recall, with a very good lock. Even you have trouble picking it.”
Mycroft glared slightly. “Still. You have a tendency to be reckless.”
Sherlock shook his head and stood up. “One day, brother dear, you’ll realize I am fully capable of living a life without your constant observation and interference. When that day comes, I’m sure I can have a list handy of other hobbies to catch your interest.” He made his way to the door of Mycroft’s study. “Good night.”
Mycroft said nothing and Sherlock opened the door and let himself out. He glanced at the large clock in the foyer and saw that it was only eleven thirty. So. It was still the old year. At least he didn’t begin the new year listening to his brother berate him for sins of the past and mistakes he’d never be able to fully make up for. That would have been tiresome. Anthea stood by the door with his coat and he took it from her, slipping it on before leaving Mycroft’s fortress and going out into the night.
He was not one for celebrations, not one for good signs and good omens, but the fact that he could start this new year on his own, breathing in the relatively fresh air of the city, taking the essence of London into himself led him to think that, perhaps, 2012 would be better than he had expected. As bad as some of the glimpses of possible futures he’d been given indicated it very well might be, there had been good things as well, images of laughter and love and warmth, and that had given him hope. After all, no one’s future was writ in stone. That was something he had been taught from a very young age, when he first learned about the art of divination. There was always room for interpretation.
And as he had decided at a very young age that no one was going to decide what happened in his life other than himself, he was going to be damn sure that if there were bad things to come, that their impact was far less than the good things.
Mark his words.