Right. So, this is a new project. It's mostly done, and it is very, very long. At first I wanted to post this in its entirety, but then I realized how unlikely anyone was to actually read it in one massive upload, so I am in fact doing it in pieces. One piece a week, giving me time to hopefully finish the ending before we actually get to it. This is largely a character-study piece, and a canon-based!AU. It's PWP of the Plot What Plot variety and not so much the porny kind, although there are sexytimes towards the end. Chapter lengths vary - by, like, a lot - and some, like this first one, are very brief while others seem likely to never end. I really hope this doesn't end up being half as boring as I worry it might be. I hope you enjoy.

NB If Holmes seems slightly OOC in this, it's honestly because he is. But it's a necessity, and I'm too tired to fix it in any event. I hope you like! *crosses fingers*

The Introductions

John Watson was an inquisitive, exuberant child, blue eyes wide and eager for life.

Sherlock Holmes was nine when his parents had decided on a vacation to the rolling, grassy hills of Scotland, in the village of Jedburgh. The weather had been ideal, a dull sun peering gently through the grey, wispy clouds, warm but not overbearing. A breeze tumbled through the valleys, brushing over the hilltops, and the entire affair was like a dream. Sherlock was considerably less enthused. His parents spent the majority of their time at social functions and art exhibitions in town, while his elder brother Mycroft was pleased enough to spend all his days confined in the library of the country estate where they were staying. Sherlock, however, required stimulation; he needed some sort of adventure, something to engage his mind as well as his senses, and that wasn't to be found locked inside a musty, ill-used room. And so it was that young Sherlock had taken to wandering the hillocks around the property lines, deliberately trying to get lost, while closely cataloguing the particular scents, leaves, mud, and residues that made up that exact area of Jedburgh, for really no other reason than that it was the most fascinating engagement currently available to him.

It was while he was studying the underside of the Quericus leaf he'd found near the mouth of the Jedwater river that he heard a soft murmuring floating past him on the breeze. Dismissing it initially as the burbling of the water nearby, and then as his own passing fancies, Sherlock eventually realized he could pick out individual words amongst the dull, indistinct chatter. Someone was also out in the fields that day, and since there really was not much else to do, and the weather was uncommonly decent, Sherlock dropped the leaf and went in search of the quiet, lulling voice.

That was when he met John Watson. At the time, however, he had merely been a smallish boy of around eleven, stripped down to shirtsleeves, barefoot and waving a stick in some facsimile of a fencer. His light outer jacket and waistcoat were sat in a pile a few feet away, near his discarded shoes and stockings, the wind through the valley throwing his light brown hair into disarray; he had a small cowlick at the start of his hairline that had clearly been knocked free and now winged out, curling up and above his left eye. He murmured to himself, eyes bright and excited as he narrated an adventure of which he was the hero, bravely fighting off pirates or savages or whatever it was other young lads were wont to do. Sherlock watched, intrigued almost despite himself, and found that he had sprawled out on the thick grass to study the slightly older boy as he battled his imaginary adversaries.

The boy swung his stick up in an arcing parry, following through on the momentum until he had spun full round and finally noticed Sherlock sitting there. He paused then, blue eyes wide in surprise, before a blush that had nothing to do with embarrassment stole over his tanned features, and his entire face broke out into a bright, blazing smile. Throwing the stick over by his clothes, the boy marched up the side of the hill towards Sherlock, crouched right in front of him, and said, "Hello! Me name's John. What o' you?"

Distinct Scottish brogue. Clearly he's a local, or at least visiting family.

"You live in the village, then?" Sherlock asked.

"Naw," John said, still smiling and not at all perturbed that Sherlock hadn't bothered answering him, "Me family's in visiting an aunt o'mine. An' you in from England?"

"My family desired a vacation, and had heard Jedburgh was quite nice this time of the year."

"Oh, aye, it's lovely. You like the country, then?"

Sherlock couldn't help but scowl. "It was my parents' idea. I hadn't anything to say on it."

John simply nodded placidly. "Well, Ah'm sorry if it's not all to yer liking."

"Why?" Sherlock asked, frowning.

"Why what?"

"Why are you sorry? It wasn't any of your doing that put me here."

"Well, if ye don' like it here, ye won't be happy. So Ah'm sorry for that."

This explanation only served to further confuse Sherlock, who gazed at the other boy with open incredulity. "How can you possibly care about my happiness when you don't even know me!"

"Do Ah have to?"

And he honestly didn't know what to say to that, as skinny beams of light broke through the clouds and the wind blew the scent of distant flowers over the hills and John continued to grin wide and guilelessly. Never in all his short life had Sherlock been so utterly taken aback, and his mind worked furiously to come up with some sort of response, hopefully suitably scathing, but before even the barest words could formulate in his head there was a loud, harsh yell of, "John! Get here, now!"

The boy's smile faded a touch as he turned around to reveal a much taller and older version of himself, standing at the crest of the other hill which formed the small valley where John had been playing at swashbucklers, and glowering intensely.

An older sibling, then, Sherlock thought, wondering at the less-than-pleasant twisting he now felt in his gut.

"But Andrew, Mum said a few hours was fine!" John protested, sounding remarkably less petulant than most other children Sherlock had encountered.

"Ah said now, John!" the young man named Andrew called, storming down into the little valley and straight up the side of the hill where he and Sherlock were perched. "Mum an' Dad are in town, an' when they aren't around, Ah'm in charge. Now come on!"

Andrew reached out and grabbed John just above the elbow and began dragging him back down into the valley. Sherlock leapt to his feet that same moment, but whether he was going to help John or whether he was going to run was never very clear, and as it stood, he did nothing but watch, alarmed, as the boy wrenched against his brother's hold.

"Let go, Andrew, Ah ken walk meself!" he yelled, digging his heels into the soft ground and clawing at the hand gripping him. Judging by the ferocity of the hold, Sherlock determined there would probably be bruises by next morning. He shifted slightly, uncomfortable and unsure why as the boy finally tore free from his brother.

"An' get those clothes! They'll be ruined if ye leave 'em there fer too long!" Andrew called, trudging right back up the far hill from where he'd come, never once looking back.

Sherlock looked down into the valley and saw John's shoulders slump briefly before he reached down and gathered up his discarded garments. He truly didn't know why he was still there, observing this disquieting tableau of domestic existence, only certain of the fact that John was still there, and that he'd leave when John was no longer there. Once everything was folded properly and bundled into thin, sinewy arms, John turned back to look up at Sherlock, eyes bright once more, mouth smiling again, if somewhat less exuberant, and waved his shoes in the air, calling, "Bye!"

Sherlock lifted a hand in farewell, and waited until John's bright head of hair had disappeared over the far hillside before he turned and made his way back home. When Mycroft deigned to put down a book long enough to ask where he had been, he said he'd been documenting the flora of the hillocks, and said nothing about the boy and his brother. He had the notion that somehow Mycroft knew anyway.

Soo...any thoughts? It's just the beginning, mind, more will be up in a week, but hopefully your curiosity has been piqued! COMMENTS ARE LOVE!