Characters: Q, Sherlock, Mycroft, Mummy, Grand-maman
Warnings/Triggers: death of a parent, angst, implications of underage smoking
Word Count 4,671
Summary: The Holmes brothers deal with the sudden death of their father, and Trevelyan learns how to carry on.
Author's notes: Set in the Trio 'verse.
Most of this was written before I got my cold, but it was edited while sick, so please forgive anything weird that may be going on. It is angsty, given the subject matter, but I've tried to sprinkle some humour in here and there.
I think I've mentioned that the Holmes brothers went to Harrow in previous fics, but it turns out that I had assumed one started at Harrow at age 11, like a secondary school, but one actually starts at age 13. Which made the start of this fic, and some of the other stuff I've mentioned, not work at all. So, I have now decided, rather than do a whole bunch of rewriting, that the Holmes brothers attended Unnamed Public School (Which Bears a Strong Resemblance to Harrow).
Trevelyan is 11, Sherlock is 14, and Mycroft is 21.
Trevelyan trudged down the corridors to the headteacher's office, unsure why he'd been summoned. He'd only been three months at school, and had so far only been summoned twice for a lecture. Not really in trouble, but more of a suggestion that he put his intellect and creativity to better use. He couldn't remember having ill-used either lately.
He rounded the corner and found Sherlock sitting in a chair outside the office. Sherlock's being summoned was a regular event. His ill-use was practically constant, and done well enough that the headteacher could only guess at the culprit; there was never any proof.
“What did you do?” they asked each other, at the same time.
“I didn't do anything,” they replied at the same time.
They both stared at each other suspiciously. It had to be bad for both Holmes Major and Minor to be summoned.
“I am not getting doubles or jerks for something you did,” Sherlock snapped.
“I didn't do anything,” Trevelyan insisted.
He took a seat next to Sherlock and folded his arms over his chest defiantly. Sherlock elbowed his hat from his head, so that it was on the floor when the headteacher opened the door. Trevelyan scrabbled to get it onto his head so he could cap him. Sherlock always managed to cap in a way that made it seem like an insult rather than a sign of respect.
“Please, come in, boys,” the headteacher said, kindly.
Sherlock and Trevelyan traded an ominous look. Being treated nicely was even more worrisome than being in trouble.
The headteacher took a seat behind his desk, and gestured for Sherlock and Trevelyan to do the same in the chairs on the other side. Sherlock remained standing, all alert, and Trevelyan felt an odd sense of solidarity, and so stayed standing with him.
The headteacher waited, and resigned himself to their standing. He shuffled some papers and cleared his throat. “Yes, well, I've been asked to bring you here to meet your brother,” he said, awkwardly. “He should be here, shortly. He asked that I have you both together when he arrived.”
“What's happened?” Sherlock demanded. “Something bad has happened.”
“I believe that your brother would rather be the one to explain things,” the headteacher said.
“Tell me,” Sherlock insisted. “What's happened? He wouldn't pull us out of class, he's always prattling on about how important it is. It's not just a family chat. What happened?”
“Holmes,” the headteacher said, warning.
“Did someone die?” Sherlock asked. He seemed to see something in the headteacher's face that confirmed that, as he pressed on. “Who? Who died?”
“Holmes, sit down, please,” the headteacher said.
“Who died?” Sherlock said. “Grandfather? Aunt Thea? One of the cousins?”
“Sherlock,” Trevelyan tried.
“Grand-maman? Mummy? Father?” Sherlock went on, now just listing people.
Even Trevelyan saw the headteacher wince. Sherlock took a step back as though he'd been slapped, and Trevelyan felt the world fall out from under him, like in cartoons when the characters ran off cliffs and were suspended in mid-air until they realized they were about to fall. Trevelyan knew he was about to fall.
“Father,” Sherlock echoed. “How—why—when?”
“Your brother will be here shortly,” the headteacher said. “I'll leave you two alone for now, until he gets here.”
Trevelyan stood staring where the headteacher had been, even after the door clicked closed.
“Why did you do that?” he asked. “Why did you press?”
“He was hiding it,” Sherlock replied. “I wanted to know.”
“I don't,” Trevelyan said. “I don't want to know. You should have waited.”
“It wouldn't have mattered, the outcome is the same,” Sherlock said.
“No, no it's not, you made it—” Trevelyan said. He sat down. “Maybe you're wrong.”
“I'm not,” Sherlock said. “I'm not wrong.”
They sat in stunned silence for a long time. Trevelyan couldn't get his brain to work, because it didn't work in a world where Father was not alive. Father was in Gloucester, cracking codes. That was just a basic fact of the universe. It was Tuesday, where else would Father be? How was it possible for him not to be doing that? To be dead.
The door opened again, and Mycroft stepped in. Any hope Trevelyan had was gone when he saw his face. It was pale and pinched tight.
“What happened?” Sherlock demanded. “How is he dead? How is that possible? Did someone kill him? Was he attacked?”
Mycroft closed his eyes briefly. “He had some sort of heart attack,” he said. “At his desk. There was nothing to be done, he was gone in moments. I'm very sorry.”
“That doesn't make sense,” Sherlock said. “He's never ill. He's never been sick, before. He was fine, I just got a letter from him. He was fine. It doesn't make sense.”
“I know,” Mycroft said. He had a very calm voice. It made Trevelyan sad, but he didn't know why. “I know it doesn't make sense. We will investigate and find out what happened. I don't think he could have known; none of us could know.”
“But...someone had to have known! It doesn't make sense,” Sherlock said, and he was nearly yelling now.
“I know,” Mycroft repeated. “I will do my best to get answers for you, Sherlock. We have to go now, though. We have to meet Grand-maman at the train depot. She'll take you out to Lincolnshire. I'm going to Gloucester to make arrangements.”
“No, I'm not leaving,” Sherlock said. “I don't want to go. I have classes, I have an experiment on the go.”
“Sherlock, we have to go,” Mycroft said. “Your experiment can wait. You do very well in your classes, a few missed ones won't do any harm.”
“I don't want to go,” Sherlock said. “I'm not leaving.”
His voice became very distant to Trevelyan, and the argument went on without him noticing it. He seemed to have curled himself up in a ball on the chair and put his arms over his head, but he hadn't really noticed that either. He just kept waiting for the moment when he started to fall, but he was still walking on air, uncertain.
A hand on his shoulder made him lift his head again. He expected to be Mycroft; it was Sherlock. Sherlock stood behind him, still yelling, but with his hand on Trevelyan's shoulder. It was too tight to be comforting, and it felt more protective, or possessive, or defiant.
But it made Trevelyan fall. He let out a howl that he didn't even know was his, and then he was crying—sobbing—and the whole world was gone and he was falling. Mycroft and Sherlock fell silent. Sherlock's hand was gone from his shoulder.
“Fine,” Sherlock muttered. “Fine. I'll come.”
Grand-maman met them at the depot. She was very calm, too, and Trevelyan really wished someone would be noisy about it. Someone besides Sherlock. Someone grown-up, so he'd know it was okay to be noisy, and not him being childish. Grand-maman bundled them onto the train. Trevelyan sat next to her, and she put her arm around him and he leaned on her and went to sleep. He didn't even know why; it just seemed like a good idea. He didn't know why he was tired.
He woke up when the train stopped at Lincoln, and was very confused before he remembered what was going on. Sherlock was as red-faced as when Trevelyan went to sleep, and sitting as ramrod straight in his seat.
“Viens,” Grand-maman said to him, when they got up to disembark. “Sherlock, viens maintenant.”
“J'ne veux pas venir,” Sherlock snapped, childishly. “Je veux rentrer à l'ecole..”
“You will feel the same either way, Sherlot,” Grand-maman said. “And here, you can be helpful to your mother. Come along.”
Sherlock stood and stomped off the train with them. Mummy met them at the station. She wrapped Trevelyan and Sherlock up in her arms, and it hurt because Trevelyan was squashed against Sherlock, who was so stiff it was like being forced up against a wall.
“I'm so sorry,” Mummy said, into Trevelyan's hair. “I'm very sorry, boys.”
Trevelyan thought it was an odd thing to say. Mycroft had said the same. It wasn't either of their faults, was it?
“I'm sorry, too,” he said, since that seemed like it would be the thing to say in return.
“I don't want to be here,” Sherlock declared.
“I know, Sherlock,” Mummy said, kissing his forehead. “None of us do.”
Mummy was on the phone a lot with Mycroft, confirming arrangements for things. Trevelyan felt very useless, and so he thought the best thing to do was to stay out of everyone's way, and try not to be a burden. He played the piano a lot, since it took his mind off things.
Mycroft came home the next day. He was still very pinched looking, and behaved very oddly. He was always so still and calm and unmoving, but now he couldn't seem to sit still. He kept getting up and making phone calls and arranging things, and pacing. He just kept...moving.
Sherlock was still furious. He was so very angry, and no one could do anything with him. Not even Mummy. He just kept saying he didn't want to be there, and demanding to go back to school. No one could mention Father around him, he just exploded into a rage. Finally, Grand-maman retrieved his old pirate cutlass from a cupboard and pulled him outside. Trevelyan was sure she was going to attack Sherlock with it—Trevelyan felt like he wanted to attack Sherlock with it—but when Trevelyan and Mycroft spied on them, she'd given it to Sherlock and he was beating away on a tree with it, with her encouragement, it looked like.
“How are you doing?” Mycroft asked, putting his hand on Trevelyan's head, and leading him away from the window.
“I don't know,” Trevelyan said. “I'm sad. I don't know how to stop being sad.”
“You don't have to stop being sad,” Mycroft said. “We're all sad. Sherlock is sad. That's why he's so angry. But you know you can talk about it. Not to Sherlock, perhaps, but to the rest of us.”
“I want to cry when I do that,” Trevelyan said. “And I'm afraid of making Mummy cry.”
“Then tell me,” Mycroft said. “I promise not to cry.”
“Who are you going to tell?” Trevelyan asked.
“I don't need anyone to tell,” Mycroft said. “I'm fine.”
That was a lie, Trevelyan thought.
Sherlock came in after half an hour, and went up to his room. He was still angry after that, but not as bad.
Sherlock wouldn't sit in the front pew with the rest of them at the funeral. Trevelyan wasn't sure why. Sherlock just seemed to be determined to do the exact opposite of what Mycroft asked of him. Mummy stepped in and said it was fine for Sherlock to sit at the back. Grand-maman sat with him. Trevelyan wished he had done that, too, because he felt as though he were being watched and he wasn't sure if he was doing what was expected of him. He also didn't like being that close to the coffin at the front.
They had offered to let them all take a look at Father in the coffin. Trevelyan couldn't think of anything he'd like less, and got very panicked about it until Mummy explained that it was an option, not a requirement. She didn't want to see either, but Mycroft went in. Sherlock almost did, but decided at the last minute against it.
It wasn't a very long funeral. Mycroft gave the eulogy. There were no verses or poems read. They didn't sing. Trevelyan was pleased, because he thought Father would be quite angry about it all. He didn't think Father would even like them all sitting in a church, talking about him. Father didn't like anyone, except his family. He certainly wouldn't want all these people here, feeling sad.
After the funeral, they had to go to the burial. Trevelyan fell back in the procession and ending up walking next to Sherlock.
“Your shoes are too big for you,” Sherlock said.
“They're your shoes,” Trevelyan said. “Mine are too small, now, and there was no time to go to Mr Gorringe to get new ones.”
“When are you going to grow?” Sherlock said. “You're a midget. Another sign you were adopted.”
“I was not adopted,” Trevelyan said.
“The gypsies that abandoned you must have been tiny,” Sherlock went on.
“I was not abandoned by gypsies,” Trevelyan said.
“Stupid, too,” Sherlock continued. “You're the only one who doesn't know. Everyone else who looks at you knows you don't belong with us. It's really been very kind of Mummy to have kept you all these years, but I'm afraid we're going to have to kick you out, soon. You're really a disgrace. I don't know why anyone thought we could make something out of you. Maybe we could sell you back. We'll have to economise now that—” He stopped, and swallowed. “Well, anyway. Your shoes are too big.”
Trevelyan stepped sideways and bumped into him. Sherlock stumbled a step, and shoved him back. They both let out an odd snort of laughter, which only lasted a second.
“I don't want to do this,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock nodded. “Me either,” he said. He quickened his pace. “Come on. You're too slow.”
“Maybe the gypsies were slow, too,” Trevelyan said.
“It will make finding them much easier,” Sherlock said. “They won't have got very far.”
Trevelyan did not like the burial. That was the worst part. He just didn't like the idea of it. It made it all seem very final, and irreversible. If there had somehow been a mistake, it couldn't be fixed now. He knew there hadn't been a mistake, of course, but there seemed to be hope before. It was buried now, too.
After the burial came the reception. Everyone kept coming up and apologizing to him, and he didn't really know what to say, so he nodded and accepted handshakes and claps on backs and agreed that he would have to help his mother now. As soon as there was a lull in the onslaught, he slipped outside and around to the side of the building. Mycroft was already there, leaning against the wall and smoking a cigarette. Trevelyan wasn't sure if he should stay; maybe Mycroft was running away, too, but Mycroft gestured that it was okay for him to come.
“Just getting some air,” he said, flicking some ash from the cigarette. “Not very fresh air, admittedly. Don't take up smoking, Trev, it's a terrible habit.”
Mycroft only called him 'Trev' when he was making an effort to be a big brother. He didn't use nicknames with anyone, unless he was trying to be friendly. It was just like when Mummy called him 'Yannick', although that was when she thought he was being endearing. Father hadn't had called Trevelyan anything but Trevelyan, except once, when Trevelyan had been in hospital and very sick, and Father called him 'my lad', and Trevelyan was quite sure that meant he was dying. Mummy had explained that Father was worried and had been trying to be comforting, but agreed that it was perhaps not as comforting has he had thought it would be.
“I just wanted to stop talking to people,” Trevelyan said. He came up and leaned against the wall next to Mycroft, who blew smoke over his head. “Well, I wanted them to stop talking to me.”
“They mean well,” Mycroft said. “But I agree that it's rather insipid.”
“Am I doing okay?” Trevelyan asked. “I'm not sure what I should be doing.”
“You're still a ch—you're still very young,” Mycroft said. “No one expects you to know what to do. You're doing fine.”
Trevelyan nodded. He dug his toe in the dirt and Mycroft worked on his cigarette. It smelled like Father's and Trevelyan liked it.
There was a crunch of gravel and Sherlock appeared around the corner. He stopped when he noticed them, and looked as though he might walk away, but came over instead. He held out a hand to Mycroft.
“Give me one,” he said.
“Absolutely not,” Mycroft said.
“It's not as though you don't know I do it,” Sherlock said.
“I'm not enabling you; it's illegal,” Mycroft said.
“I'm almost fifteen,” Sherlock said.
“Which is still too young,” Mycroft said. “I can't stop you at school, but I'm hardly going to hand them over to you.”
“Victor's brother buys them for him,” Sherlock whined.
“Victor is very lucky then,” Mycroft said.
“I'll just steal them,” Sherlock said.
“Try,” Mycroft said.
There was a stare down, and Mycroft won. Sherlock pouted, folding his arms over his chest, and leaned against the wall.
They all stayed like that for while, Mycroft smoking and Sherlock taking in large breaths as though he were trying to steal the smoke from the air.
“What do we do after this?” Trevelyan asked.
“I'm afraid we'll have to go back in and stay until the attendees go home,” Mycroft said.
“No, I meant...” Trevelyan said. “What happens...next? How are we...? What do we do?”
“Ah,” Mycroft said. “I believe the answer to that will be 'carry on as normal'. Father wouldn't want you out of school for very long. He'd want you to return as soon as possible.”
“Shut up, you don't know what he'd want,” Sherlock snapped. “Just because he's dead doesn't mean you get to speak for him. He's not a puppet.”
Mycroft looked upwards for a moment and his hand clenched and unclenched. “I'm sorry, you're right,” he said. “But we can extrapolate his wishes from previous behaviour, can't we? We can form a hypothesis. And my hypothesis is that he would not want us to sit around and mourn him. He'd want us all to go back to what we were doing.”
“What about Mummy?” Trevelyan asked. “She'll be alone.”
“She was alone before,” Mycroft said. “She's always been alone here, since you went away to school.”
“But...it's different now,” Trevelyan said. “Isn't it?”
“Yes, it is,” Mycroft agreed. “You're right. I don't want you to worry about those sorts of things, though, either of you. I will handle them.”
“You're not a prince, you don't get to take over the throne,” Sherlock said. “You're not—not...you can't be him now.”
“I am the oldest,” Mycroft said. “And some of Father's duties are now mine. That's the way it works. I'm not trying to 'be' him, I'm trying to do what needs to be done.”
“We could help,” Trevelyan said. “I could help, if you told me what to do.”
“What I need you to do,” Mycroft said. “Is go back to school, and work hard, and carry on. That is the best thing for all of us. We all need to carry on. That's all we can do, now.”
Trevelyan wasn't sure how that was possible.
Things seemed much better after the funeral stuff was all done. Mycroft stopped running around, and stayed seated instead, although he still made a lot of calls. Sherlock was still very angry, but less showy about it. Mummy spent a lot of time with him. She spent time with Trevelyan, too, but not really doing anything. She just sat and sketched while he played piano, or read while he used the computer in the library. They didn't talk much, which was fine with Trevelyan, because he didn't know what to say. She spent time with Mycroft, too, and it felt as though they were all on a sort of rotation, and Trevelyan worried that there was no one spending time with her, and he didn't know how to be that person.
Mycroft let Sherlock read a copy of the autopsy report. He showed it to Trevelyan, too, but it was too technical for him to understand. Sherlock had a slew of questions about it, and Mycroft dutifully looked through every medical dictionary and glossary they had in the library to try and answer them. What Trevelyan understood was that there had been something wrong with Father's heart, and it had stopped working, due to a bunch of factors that all happened at once. A very freak sort of thing. That made sense to him, but Sherlock seemed insistent on knowing why, and Trevelyan didn't really think there was more of a why than 'it happened'.
Their family doctor recommended that all three sons be checked out for a similar problem, in case it was genetic. Mycroft made them all appointments, but they weren't for another few weeks, and he assured Sherlock and Trevelyan that it was entirely unlikely that anything would happen to them in the meantime.
They were due to return back to school on the Monday. Trevelyan had now decided that it was possible to carry on, but every once in a while, it would hit him square in the chest that Father would never be with them again. And that was a concept that still didn't process fully in his brain. He couldn't make it accept that he would never see or speak to him again. It felt very odd, as though a limb had been severed and he could still feel it there, but couldn't access it.
On Sunday night, Mummy knocked on his bedroom door, and came in quietly. “Do you have everything you need?” she asked.
“Yes, I didn't really bring anything with me,” Trevelyan said.
Mummy sat down on the foot of his bed. “I wanted to talk to you about something,” she said. She put a wooden box down on the bed. Trevelyan recognized it as one that sat on the dresser in her room. “These are some of your father's things. I am not going to get rid of anything, so there's no pressure on your part, but I wondered if there was anything you might like to take with you to school.”
“Have you asked Sherlock already?” Trevelyan asked, because there would be hell to pay if she hadn't.
“I did,” Mummy said. “And he said he didn't want anything, so I've put aside what he's pretending he doesn't want, and when he's ready for it, I'll give it to him. Mycroft has asked for Father's pocket watch, and his family ring. So, I'm afraid you're the last to it.”
“I don't mind,” Trevelyan assured her. “I don't know if I want anything.”
“Take a look, and there's no pressure to decide,” Mummy said. “Everything will still be here if you change your mind.”
Trevelyan opened the box. He had a funny feeling at the sight of all of Father's things. It smelled like his cologne. There were cuff links, and watches, and a spare pair of reading glasses, and a proper fountain pen. Tie pins, which Father didn't care for very much, and collar stiffeners. Gifts that Trevelyan had bought him for Christmas or his birthday over the years, and he'd always assumed Father had never liked, but they were safely tucked away, with a little note attached to each to remind him who had given it and when, as though he expected to be questioned on it at some point.
“May I have the box?” Trevelyan asked, after he'd rummaged through for a bit. “Not all of it, I mean, just the box itself?”
“Of course,” Mummy said. “I'll find a place to put everything, and you can have it. Is there anything else?”
Trevelyan looked through again, and selected a pair of cuff links. They had galleons on them. Father was always very interested in the Age of Sail. “That's all,” he said. “Thank you.”
“There will be more things at his flat in Gloucester, and at the Penthouse,” Mummy said. “I'll make sure you have a chance to look through those as well, when you come home for Christmas.”
She put the box aside, and placed her hands over where his feet were under the covers, wiggling them around like she used to when she tucked him in when he was little.
“How are you?” Trevelyan asked.
She looked up, and gave a smile. “I'm fine,” she said. “Don't worry about me. How are you?”
“I want to be fine,” Trevelyan said. “Because everyone else is. But I don't know how to be.”
Mummy's eyes welled up. “I'll tell you a secret,” she said. “We're none of us really fine. We're just pretending.”
“How long do you think we'll be pretending for?” Trevelyan asked.
She swiped a tear from her cheek. “Oh, a while yet, I'd say,” she said. “But not forever.”
“I'm sorry, I've made you cry,” Trevelyan said, his own eyes getting wet now.
“I'm sorry I've made you cry,” she replied.
They both laughed, softly. She moved up so she was sitting next to him, and wrapped her arm around him. He leaned against her, and they both cried a little, but mostly just sat there in silence. He didn't feel like he was being too much of a baby, now. It felt all right to be sad.
“I'm tired,” he said, after a while.
“All right,” she said. She planted a kiss on his forehead. “You go to sleep, then. I'll drive you and Sherlock to the station in the morning. Mycroft will be in London, so if you need any help with anything, or to talk to someone, or anything at all, he'd be there, and I'll be there as soon as I can. I'll be up in a few days to help sort things out there, as well, so if you're have any trouble, you let someone know.”
“All right,” Trevelyan said.
She kissed his forehead again. “I love you,” she said.
“Snap,” he replied.
Sherlock went very quietly to the station, which was unlike him. He was very quiet on the train, too, and didn't bother any of the other passengers, or embarrass Trevelyan, and that was unlike him, too.
Mycroft's driver met them, and took them to school.
“I'll see you,” Trevelyan said, to Sherlock, when they parted to go their separate houses. “I'll see you around.”
“Of course, I'm not invisible,” Sherlock said. “Don't feel as though you can be all friendly with me, now. You're still to stay away.”
Trevelyan grinned. “I know, I'm not your brother,” he said.
“Exactly,” Sherlock said. He cracked a small smile. “I'll see you around.”
Trevelyan went up to his dorm. It was empty, as classes were going on. He'd join the next one. His room was just how he'd left it, except for the homework and assignments left on his desk from the classes he'd missed, and a neat pile of mail on the bed. Magazine subscriptions, mostly, and a condolence card from the house prefect, and from Mr Edwards, the Philosophy professor. Both offered to listen if he needed to talk to someone.
Trevelyan got what he needed for his first class, and leafed through the assignments to see what he'd missed. He wasn't too far behind. When he reached the bottom of the pile, he found a letter from Father on the desk. He'd received it on Monday, the day before Father died. There had been a cipher in it, which had hadn't had time to solve at the time he'd opened the letter, and put aside for later. He picked it up now, and looked it over.
He started to try and solve it, but stopped, with the realization that he didn't want to solve it. Not yet. He folded it up carefully, and put it in the little wooden box, next to the cuff links with the galleons.
It was nearly time for class. He wasn't sure if he wanted to face everyone, but he had to some time. He grabbed the books he needed, and stepped out into the corridor, closing the door behind him.
It was time to carry on.