Title: After the Funeral
Warnings/Triggers: involves the death of a parent. A bit angsty, but not too bad, I don't think.
Summary: At the wake for their father, Mycroft looks after his brother.
Sherlock is about fourteen here, and Mycroft is about twenty-one. I picture their father's death as being very sudden. This is all my own headcanon, though Mr Holmes' first name is a scholarly theory.
Mycroft smiled stoically and thanked the hundredth person to offer their condolences in the past hour. Yet another person whose name he didn't know, and very much doubted had meant anything to his father. It seemed half of London was desperate to pay its respects to Siger Holmes' family. There were false looks of grief everywhere, quickly replaced once they thought Mycroft had looked away. It was a chance to network much more than it was a chance to mourn for the majority of the people there.
He weaved his way through the crowd in search of Sherlock. He'd lost track of him as soon as he'd entered the building where the wake was being held. He hadn't been able to make out how his brother was doing, and didn't like the thought of him on his own. He'd been reluctant to leave Mummy to the masses, but he could only be in one place at a time, and he sensed it should be with Sherlock. At least for the moment. Grand-maman was with her, anyway, and she could more than hold her own.
Mycroft found Sherlock tucked away in the back corner of a room, half hidden by a pillar with a flower arrangement on it. Sherlock had his nose in a book that was resting on his knees, and looked to have destroyed several lilies from the arrangement, judging by the petals at his feet. Mycroft took a seat next to him on the floor, loosening his tie. Sherlock's was already in his trouser pocket.
"What's the subject today?" Mycroft asked.
Sherlock held up his book, briefly. Mycroft leaned forward to get a look at the title. It appeared to be about the Comte de Saint Germain.
"Ah, I can see why he would appeal to you," Mycroft said. Alchemist, violinist, philosopher, adventurer. "Is it for school?"
"No," Sherlock said. "They'd never assign anything so modern."
Mycroft smiled. "I suppose the 1700's is a bit current for Harrow," he said.
Sherlock squinted out at the crowd, looking thoughtful. "Some of them are genuinely sad, but most of them aren't. They're just pretending for effect."
"I know," Mycroft said.
"I don't know if I'm sad," Sherlock went on. "I don't think that's...right. I don't think that's what I'm feeling. The headmaster kept droning on about it being okay to cry, but I don't feel like crying."
"That's fine," Mycroft said. "You can feel however you'd like."
"Have you cried?" Sherlock asked.
"No," Mycroft said.
Sherlock studied him, judging whether or not he was lying. He seemed to conclude it was a true statement, and looked slightly reassured. "He made it seem like I was doing it wrong," he said, annoyed.
Mycroft hid his smile. Only Sherlock could be concerned about not being good at mourning. Sherlock had to be good at everything. "There are no rules to grief," Mycroft said. "Everyone experiences it differently."
"I feel..." Sherlock wiggled his fingers by his chest, "...like my organs are the wrong way around."
Mycroft thought that, for a boy who had little ability to express his emotions, it was a very apt way of describing grief. "I believe that's normal," he said.
Sherlock sighed and leaned back against the wall, letting his legs stretch out in front of him. "I want to go back to school," he said. "When can I go?"
Mycroft looked down at his watch. "There's no point in sending you back today," he said. "You'll have missed all your classes anyway. I'll put you on a train in the morning."
"I didn't want to come," Sherlock complained. "I don't see any reason for it. Being here doesn't bring him back. I'd rather have stayed in school."
"You'd have regretted not coming," Mycroft said. "It's important to have closure. And I'm sure Mummy appreciates your being here."
Sherlock shrugged. "It still doesn't do any good," he said. "Everyone keeps trying to get me to talk about it and I don't want to talk about it. They don't even care. It's insipid."
"Agreed," Mycroft said. "It's a ridiculous spectacle."
"Then why are we here?" Sherlock whined.
"Because we have to be," Mycroft said.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "It's a complete waste of time," he said. He fell silent for a few moments, picking up a lily petal and continuing to tear it apart. "Father and I were discussing him. The Comte de Saint Germain."
"Oh?" Mycroft prompted.
"They make us write letters at school," Sherlock explained. "So I was corresponding with him. He suggested I'd find Saint Germain interesting."
"And do you?" Mycroft asked.
Sherlock nodded. "He told all sorts of stories, and people still don't know which ones are true," he said, with admiration. "He travelled all over the place and took up all sorts of occupations. He invented new ways to dye clothing, and he advised Marie Antoinette. He wrote music and painted. He just went where he wanted and did what he wanted. No one told him he couldn't. I'd love to do that." He smiled, slightly. "Father said I'd make a good adventurer."
"I'm afraid you've missed the boat," Mycroft said. "I don't think we have gentlemen of leisure any more. Except maybe in the royal family."
"I know," Sherlock said. "Father said I had all the skills, though. I think he was teasing. It's always hard to tell when he writes. It was hard to tell."
"Well, he was correct either way," Mycroft said. "You're quite the renaissance man."
Sherlock glared at him, but seemed to realize he was being serious. He gave a nod of agreement. He crossed his arms over his chest. "How long do we have to stay?" he asked.
"Until everyone has left," Mycroft said.
"That will take hours!" Sherlock said.
"I'm sorry," Mycroft said. "We seem to have somehow thrown the social gathering of the century."
He stretched his legs out next to Sherlock's, unconsciously mirroring his posture. In truth, there was nothing Mycroft would have liked more than to crawl out a window and escape. This was not where he wanted to be right now. He would like a little privacy. It was where he needed to be, however, and there was no escape from that.
"That woman in the blue coat has put six sandwiches in her handbag," Sherlock said, nodding toward the buffet.
"Seven," Mycroft corrected.
"No, one of them was a spoon," Sherlock insisted.
"Yes, seven sandwiches and a spoon," Mycroft said.
Sherlock scowled, but didn't seem certain enough to argue."She's going to go for the salt and pepper shakers next," he said.
"No. She's emboldened by her success," Mycroft said. "She'll take a stab for that cup and saucer by her elbow."
They both watched in silence for the next few minutes, waiting for the woman to make her move. Finally, she looked around quickly and swiped the cup and saucer and the salt and pepper shakers into her bag.
"Who won?" Sherlock asked.
"Let's call it a draw," Mycroft said. "I really should tell security. I've no idea who she is..."
"She's the mistress of that man in the bespoke oxfords," Sherlock said, indicating a knot of people chatting together. "The chain smoker."
"Oh. Well, perhaps we'll just let it slide then," Mycroft said.
"Why, is he important?" Sherlock asked.
"He is the Deputy Prime Minister," Mycroft said.
Sherlock barked a loud laugh that attracted the attention of nearby mourners. He made no effort to hide his mirth, and, at the roll of Mycroft's eyes, simply laughed harder. Mycroft couldn't help but chuckle along with him.
"I thought you knew everything about everyone in the government," Sherlock said. "Why didn't you recognize her?"
"He has a rather large harem, it's hard to keep track of them all," Mycroft said.
Sherlock laughed again. Eventually, he managed to sober up, and plucked up another lily to destroy. Mycroft stayed where he was, not terribly inclined to return to the false sincerities awaiting him. Sherlock looked over after a few minutes.
"You don't have to sit with me," he said. "I'm fine. Don't you have to be somewhere else?"
"Not at this particular moment," Mycroft said.
Sherlock shrugged in an uncaring fashion. His knees came up to his chest again and he bent his head to them briefly, running his hands through his hair as though he were trying to shake something free. His feet bounced up and down a few times. Sherlock always became fidgety if he sat in one place to long—especially if the conversation wasn't to his liking. Finally, he settled down, his arms hugging his knees.
"I might be a little sad," he admitted, sounding annoyed at himself.
"I know," Mycroft said.
"But I don't want to talk about it," Sherlock added.
Mycroft nodded. "That's fine," he said.
Sherlock returned to his reading and flower mangling. Mycroft stayed where he was, sitting quietly beside him.
Just in case Sherlock changed his mind.