At last, here's the promised expansion of "The Other Side" from Have Yourself a Chaotic Little Christmas! I've always loved writing child!Sherlock, and it doesn't get any better than this. He's so adorable!
Yes, this is a short first chapter, and I honestly can't say whether the rest will be as short as this or longer. Do enjoy, though!
Disclaimer: Narnia and its inhabitants are the property of the inimitable C. S. Lewis. Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes are public domain. Cécile Holmes, Rosewood Hall, and Ethel and Marianne Holmes are the property of yours truly.
==Stepping Through the Wardrobe==
When nine-year-old Sherlock enters a snowy wood via a wardrobe, he learns about the importance of family, love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.
Sherlock of Rosewood Hall
At the tender age of nine, Sherlock Edward Holmes was recognized by kith and kin alike as a genius. He had already mastered the violin and could probably have become another Mozart had he so chosen. But his considerable powers of memory, intuition, intellect, and the five sense were applied to a wide ranger of interests, including chemistry, linguistics, visual art, and horsemanship. He was the joy and terror of every mere mortal that attempted to teach him, and he was the envy of his peers, including his cousins.
Ethel Holmes, two years Sherlock's junior, was no exception.
Sherlock and Ethel did not get on very well. Ethel was jealous and catty in her spite, and Sherlock retorted by being insufferable in his prodigy brilliance. Things came to a head in that summer, the summer of 1867, when Ethel and her elder sister, Marianne, came to stay at the Holmes estate with their recently-widowed mother, who was ill with brain fever.
Sherlock was rather less than thrilled at the invasion of Rosewood Hall.
"It isn't fair!" he complained to his brother. "Ethel is such a brat, and Mother insists that I should feel sorry for her!"
Sixteen-year-old Mycroft set aside The Pickwick Papers with a sigh. "And so you should, Sherlock. Do you remember Mother's illness after the baby died?"
Sherlock's stomach twisted. He well remembered those terrible days, two years earlier, when their baby sister had been stillborn and Mother had fallen deathly ill. "That was different," he muttered.
"How so?" Mycroft said quietly, his near-white eyes unsettling in their intensity.
Sherlock fidgeted and looked down, unable to hold his brother's gaze. The little boy could hold his own against children, youths, and adults alike, regardless of class or education, but he had never yet won out over his elder brother. If Sherlock's intellect was immense, Mycroft's was immeasurable, and they both knew it.
After a minute, Sherlock spoke again, his voice subdued. "She is hateful, brother mine."
Mycroft's expression had softened. "I know, little one, and for that also she deserves your pity. Ethel has never liked you, it is true, but she has been exceedingly bitter since Uncle Aethelstan's death. Father may not often be home, Sherlock, but at least we still have him."
Sherlock held no quarrel with the pretty, fourteen-year-old Marianne, even if there was no great love between them. She thought him a funny, sometimes-sweet boy; he thought her a nice if insipid girl. At least, they could interact civilly and even affectionately.
So Marianne would sometimes go so far as to help Sherlock avoid her sister. Sherlock would break into a run for the less-inhabited parts of the vast, pre-Georgian manor. In this way, he came to explore his own home as he never had before, searching out the darkest, dustiest nooks and crevices. He refused to let himself hope for something as fantastic as hidden treasure, but he felt that he must find something worth finding sooner or later.
It was on one such run-from-Ethel-turned-expedition that he found It. It stood draped in a sheet at the far end of the room, and the only other thing in the room was a bluebottle on the windowsill that spun for a moment before going still. Sherlock approached the far end of the room with slow, measured steps as if treading on sacred ground.
As he tugged at the sheet, it rippled down like a gentle waterfall.
It was a wardrobe. An exquisitely carved, mahogany-hued wardrobe. Sherlock thought he had never seen anything so lovely or so mysterious in his life.
He reached out a tentative hand and opened the right-hand door, which swung open to reveal a row of fur coats. Why… why would his parents keep such a work of art in a spare room, merely for storing coats? Surely, something must be hidden in the back of it.
He stepped inside and brushed through the fur, reaching for the back of the wardrobe. But it didn't come. Frowning, he made his way deeper in, hand extended…
And felt sharp pricks against his pal. He started, then pressed forward. Grey light broke through the fur, and then he came out on the other side.
Into a snowy wood.
It was summertime right now, and yet he had walked right through the wardrobe as one would a door… and it was snowing on the other side. Not only that, but these were not the woods of the Holmes estate. Whereas Rosewood possessed mostly leafy trees, the majority of these trees were clearly evergreen.
And it was snowing.
Sherlock took one step out onto the white ground before stopping and gazing up at the silver sky. He turned to look over his shoulder, saw the spare room beyond the proper door of the wardrobe. Mycroft would have stopped right there, turned fully 'round, gone back. Mycroft would have approached the thing with detached, scientific interest.
Sherlock was not Mycroft.
He stepped fully out into the wintry landscape. A delighted grin spread across his small face—it was lovely here. He cupped his bare hands together and watched as one detailed snowflake after another landed on his tanned skin and seeped into it. He scarcely noticed the cold, so alive did he feel.
He broke into a run on the path that seemed to lead from the wardrobe. The snow was powdery and flew each time his feet pounded against the earth. He laughed for the sheer joy of it all. Then he saw something which truly made his breath catch.
His wandering gaze caught the roots first. They looked like a tree's roots, but they were unmistakably iron. His eyes were drawn upward, along the stem that was unquestionably the stem of a lamppost, 'til they reach the gas lamp atop the… stem, trunk, pole? As insane as he knew it sounded, it was a lamppost grown from the ground. He had no idea how such a thing could be, but he could not deny the reality his eyes saw.
Inexplicably, the sight was welcoming, calming, comforting. The flame burned bright, a warm glow in a beautiful but cold forest.
Sherlock could not begin to fathom where he was. His first supposition was somewhere on the Continent—the place reminded him of photographs he'd seen—but how on earth could he have crossed over from England to the Continent in such a fashion? He might as well have been transported to another world.
And that truly set his mind working. What if he had been transported to another world? What if magic did exist, despite Mycroft's arguments to the contrary? And why would he, Sherlock Edward Holmes, be sent to another world, and how, how, how?
He pressed his fingertips to his lips in contemplation as he leaned against the lamppost. It was the matter of a few seconds. He wanted to explore this fascinating new land, whatever it was and whatever happened to him for it. He smiled as he recalled a line from Shakespeare.
The game's afoot!
I don't know when I'll be able to update this again, and I doubt that updates will ever be regular. Just check my latest blog post (link from my profile page or use www . studysherlockiana . blogspot . com) to see what I've got going right now. But I swear to you, this will never be an abandoned story—I have the whole thing more or less plotted-out in my head. The catch is that I still have to commit it to paper.
Next up, "Otherworld."