impulsereader: (Pirate1)
[personal profile] impulsereader
Apologies to those of you who already read the first bit of this, I wanted to post this first and second part together since the first bit was so short.


Once upon a Time...oh, sorry, no...erm...not that Time. That other one, over there, just to the left; do you see, it’s waving to you - yes, well spotted! That Time. Oh look, it’s put on a green hat with a pom on top so you can keep track of it more easily. It always has been a very friendly, obliging Time; at least, most of the bits which we’ll be dealing with have.

Well, now that we’ve got that straight, Once upon that Time there was a little boy named Sherlock Holmes. In order to visit with him we will now beg a ride upon the wide back of the West Wind which will take us swooping and darting over a London which I think would not be familiar even to those of you who may routinely walk the streets of your very own London. The London which little Sherlock Holmes inhabits is one engulfed in a singular fog of mystery and magic; it waits for us, holding its breath for just a fraction of a second to allow us inside, then unfolds its secrets before us like an origami crane coming undone.

At the time we are now soaring in to ride our receding thread of breeze through the window of this little boy’s room, he is a very happy little boy. He is long limbs awkwardly sprawled on his bedroom rug, poring over a set of navigational charts which show him the details of the whole of the airline of Britain. The charts were a birthday present from his Grandmere Sabine on the occasion of his sixth birthday, which they had celebrated just the previous day.

In appearance, he is a charming child, especially when his clear blue (or are they grey?) eyes are this wide with excitement and his mop of ink black curls dips and flies about as his attention darts from one chart to another. The room he inhabits is equally charming; it is cluttered with books and toys, everything a lively, growing boy could want. Mobiles adorn the ceiling; the most elaborate in the center is comprised of a fleet of beautiful miniature sailing ships, tiny works of art which gaily sail on the currents above Sherlock’s head, their hand-carved wooden prows slicing through the waves of air; nearby is another made up of exotic fish representing every colour you’ve ever seen (and perhaps just a few you haven’t); my favourite is hung in a corner and it dazzles the eye with twirling prisms which project dancing rainbows onto the walls of Sherlock’s bedroom.

We now hear a prim knock at our little boy’s bedroom door, which subsequently opens to reveal a prim-looking boy (rather newly teen-aged) with neatly-cropped ginger hair. This is Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft. “Sherlock,” he instructs firmly, “come have your tea. Mummy is waiting.”

Stricken, Sherlock looks up from his treasures. “But, Mycroft, I have to study.”

Mycroft sniffs a bit at first and looks inclined to roll his eyes at this claim; but he thinks better of it after a moment (he is a good lad, really, just rather inclined to feel self-important more often than not) and moves into the room. He does not go so far as to join his brother on the floor, but he does take a seat on the bed. “What are you studying then?” He leans over to take a closer look at the piles of paper which create a virtual sea around the boy.

“Sailing, of course! I must learn the tides first, but ever so many other things too, Mycroft. I already know all the parts of the ship and how to make her ready to sail, but I’ve never done it myself on a real ship. I must have one to practice on, and I must learn about the weather, and the main trade routes as well as the ones not used as heavily, and the shipping lanes, and -,”

But Mycroft is frowning at him, and rather abruptly interrupts this spilling of childish nonsense. “Sherlock, what are you talking about? You’ll learn to sail in a year or two, you’ve already been promised that, but what is this about trade routes? Holmeses don’t traipse around with cargo. Uncle Richard, who does deign to deal with shipping concerns (Mycroft sniffs again here) manages the business from his company’s offices in London; and you certainly won’t be working with him when you’re grown up.”

“Oh no, certainly not.” Young Sherlock sounds horrified at this idea.

Mycroft is clearly pleased that he has gotten his point across so easily; it is sometimes quite difficult to bring Sherlock around to his way of thinking, as his little brother can be rather stubborn.

“I’m going to be a pirate!”


The next time we visit young Sherlock, almost a year later, it is not as happy a day.

Mummy has been ill, you see, and Father accordingly frantic over it.

Mycroft has been doing the best he can, but where Sherlock is concerned that somehow never seems to be enough.

The routine of the house has recently been thrown into chaos not only by the absence of its mistress’s guiding hand, but also the introduction of young Sherlock’s taking up the violin and the attendant wind magic which comes with this hobby. Certainly there are times when the youngster does not mean to have caused the contents of his governess’s wardrobe to take flight into and around the back garden, but other times Mycroft wonders…

Still, Mycroft is old enough (and well-enough versed in the ways of the sulky, dramatic young mind of budding genius) to recognise that his brother is displaying attention-seeking behaviour, and for good reason. Used to being petted and praised, cooed over and encouraged, young Sherlock has been faced with the complete loss of his parents’ presence in his life over the last several months.

Mycroft’s initial solution had been to teach him chess.

That – hadn’t gone well.

Mycroft still shudders delicately when confronted with the memory of that afternoon.

Today he has reluctantly decided to cater to one of his brother’s less admirable ambitions in life in a new effort to engage and focus his attention. The governess, you see, has had it up to here with having her belongings scattered to (by) the winds; the cook is threatening to give notice if her cook fires continue be extinguished repeatedly without warning; and just yesterday a particularly fierce whirlwind had violently thrown open the doors of the china cabinet and pulled its entire contents out to set the priceless heirlooms spiralling around the room before abruptly disappearing, which sent the lot crashing to the ground. Mycroft had spent hours tracking down a magician willing to take on the job of sorting out the mess and reassembling everything properly. Thirteen hours into the task, the muttering of said magician is taking on a worryingly negative (and incantation-like) tone which is making Mycroft wonder if he oughtn’t try to hunt up a second magician to protect him from the first.

And so, dear reader, Mycroft Holmes finds himself at a point where he is willing to indulge young Sherlock’s otherwise discouraged piratical ambitions. Accordingly, he ties a scarf around his head and regards the result in his mirror. He looks a proper twit. He sighs, and goes to seek out his little brother.

He finds him in his tree house. The scene is already set: the cast-off Persian carpet (ripples of rich ruby and rust), thick velvet drapes which indulgently cascade onto the floor (much too long for the child-sized windows), a scattered collection of brass lamps (none matching, but all polished to gleaming), a low, delicately-carved mahogany table (currently supporting a feast of grapes and cheeses on gilded bone china and deep purple juice in cut-glass crystal), and dozens of scattered pillows (silky smooth and in every colour of the rainbow) which had once upon a time adorned various rooms of the house make Sherlock’s hideaway the very image of Sinbad’s luxurious lair full of plundered riches. Outside, a Jolly Roger snaps crisply in the wind.

Mycroft finds a suspicious gaze cast upon him by the eye not hidden behind a patch. “I have come to parley,” he explains, indicating the scarf adorning his head.

Sherlock frowns. “You never want to play pirate,” he accuses.

“Not normally, no. But there is a special pirate game I would like to teach you.”

Sherlock hesitates, considering this. After a moment he solemnly removes his eye patch and holds it out - a challenge. Mycroft sighs again, deeply, then accepts the object, loops the leather thong around his head and affixes the patch over his left eye. “There. Are you pleased now?”

Sherlock is, in fact, delighted, and he bounces in place with it. “Show me the pirate game!” he demands.

“Very well.” Mycroft folds himself into a cross-legged position at the table and moves the food out of the way. He then takes from his pocket a heavy leather pouch which clinks richly when he places it in the middle of the table between them. “We’ll need a third pirate to play this game.”

Sherlock flies across the room, sending pillows every which way in his wake. He flings open the cedar chest which had used to occupy the space at the end of his bed and digs through it wildly, flinging aside a length of rope, a box of sparklers, a tattered paperback volume of Treasure Island, a View-Master, a spyglass folded in on itself, an Action Man missing one leg, and a football which rolls out the entrance and down to the ground before he comes up with what he wants. Triumphantly, he plops a colourful stuffed parrot (also sporting a [very tiny] eye patch) whose plumage has seen much better days onto the table next to the pouch.

Mycroft eyes the bird and fights the urge to sneer. “What do you call it?”

Sherlock looks at him as if he has lost his mind. “It’s a parrot. Why would I call it anything else?”

“Touché, little brother.”


“Never mind.” It is very definitely time to be moving this along. “Fine, now there are three of us. This,” he indicates the pouch, “is our booty.” He practically spits out the last word as if it tasted of motor oil (perhaps to him it does). “We will now proceed to split it among us. Pirates, as you know, must maintain a strict chain of command. So to begin we must decide which of us is in command. Would you like to be the Captain or shall I?”

Sherlock shakes his head emphatically, and Mycroft is confused. Sherlock blinks (obvious) and then points to the parrot.

Oh good lord in heaven save me, thinks Mycroft to himself. He shuts his eyes and forces himself to breathe deeply and evenly for a time. When he opens his eyes again, Sherlock is squirming with impatience. Mycroft turns his gaze to their bedraggled Captain. The bird looks even more disreputable than it had previously. “Very well,” he says, tight-lipped. “The parrot is in ultimate command. I will be next in the hierarchy. You come last.” This is all the punishment he can possibly mete out, so he does so.

Sherlock shrugs this off, he’s happy to come last as a pirate rather than first as anything else.

“Now, the Captain is the one who makes the proposal of division. Then all three of us vote on his proposal. The Captain’s vote breaks any tie. If the division is approved by a majority, it passes muster and we act on it.” He pauses to let Sherlock nod his understanding, then he reveals the kicker. “If the proposed division does not pass muster we throw the Captain overboard, I become Captain, and it is my turn to propose a new division.”

Sherlock gapes at him; he is unsure whether this is because he hadn’t seen that coming, or the thought of throwing the parrot overboard is simply unfathomable. “A pirate must be ruthless,” he reminds his brother. He opens the pouch and spills ten large gold coins onto the table. “Now then, how does the parrot propose to divide these amongst the three of us?”

Sherlock reaches out tentatively and caresses one of the coins, running his finger along the grooves which twist across the surface. He is thinking; Mycroft has noticed that his little brother unconsciously seeks out tactile stimulation when he is thinking.

“He’d give me the least, just one coin. He’d give you two and keep the rest for himself,” he decides.

“But if he keeps it all for himself, we’ll just throw him overboard,” Mycroft insists. “Then we could split it evenly between us.”

Sherlock shoots an anxious glance at their intrepid Captain. The bird is listing drunkenly now.

“We’re brothers, Sherlock, certainly it would be better to chuck the bird overboard.”

Sherlock looks uncertain for a moment, but then his eyes narrow with suspicion. “You’d be Captain.”

“That is correct.”

“That means your vote would break a tie between us.”

“That is also correct.”

Sherlock is now straight-up glaring at his brother. “So you could keep all the booty for yourself if you were the Captain! There wouldn’t be anyone to vote with me to get me some of it!”

“Sherlock,” he purrs, and butter wouldn’t have melted in his mouth. “Would I do that to you?”

“Yes,” the littlest pirate states matter-of-factly.

Mycroft beams at him proudly. “Yes, you’re exactly right. Good work. Now, fairness owing to rank aside, how would the parrot propose we divide the coins in order to ensure his retaining as many as possible?”

Sherlock sets aside the issue of fraternal betrayal in order to focus on the pretty puzzle Mycroft has just handed him. “He needs one of us to vote with him,” he ponders. With only a little rancour in his voice, he adds, “He’s not stupid,” (Mycroft rolls his eyes and shoots the mangy bird a hateful glare) “so he’ll work out what I’ve just done, that if you become Captain I won’t get any gold.” He finishes decisively, “He should give me one piece of gold and keep the rest for himself.”

Mycroft beams again. “Very nicely done, Sherlock. That is exactly right.” He reaches out and affectionately tousles his brother’s ink-dark curls.

“Geroff!” Sherlock protests and rolls away, giggling. “You weren’t going to give me any gold!” he accuses loudly.

“What do you need gold for?”

Sherlock seems to give this some real consideration. “A new violin?” he says hopefully.

Mycroft frowns. “What is wrong with your violin?”

“It’s tiny, I bet I could get much bigger winds with a full-size one.”

Mycroft sighs (again). The very last thing he needs is bigger winds in the house.
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