Painfully quickly, morning came. Light shone through the curtains and Kevin moaned softly. Lizzie, ever the morning person, smiled gently at her husband and pulled the duvet over him, blocking the sun from his eyes. He mumbled a thank you before going back to sleep. Lizzie chuckled and got out of bed, slipped on her light blue robe and soft, cream slippers, and went quietly to Mycroft and Sherlock's bedroom. They were both asleep, Sherlock curled in the foetal position against the wall, Mycroft lying perfectly flat, as though he was being tested even in sleep. She sighed. Poor boys. They had been through so much. She left their room, going to each of her biological children's in turn. First Harry, who was lying on her stomach and snoring softly, then John, who was curled remarkably like Sherlock round a stuffed bear. She would have to get one for the Holmes boys.
She watched John, thinking of all four children, for a while, standing at his door. Eventually, she heard Kevin's alarm clock go off, and set about waking her children. John was easy, she kissed him on the forehead and he stirred out of gentle dreams, smiling at her. Harry was harder, and Lizzie ended up pulling off her duvet and shaking her in order to get any kind of response. Exasperated, she went to Mycroft and Sherlock. As soon as she opened the door, Mycroft was retreating against the wall, curling up at the head of the bed.
"Heya, it's okay" she said soothingly, staying in the doorway, not wanting to spook him further. He unraveled slightly when he heard her voice, and peered up at her.
"Sorry" he said uncomfortably. Mycroft got out of bed and stood, his arms by his sides, his posture screaming his defensiveness. Sherlock started awake when Lizzie touched him, obviously coming out of a bad dream. Not a nightmare like the older brother got, but bad dreams nonetheless.
"You're starting at school today, Mycroft."
“Oh." He pulled his arms around himself, hugging his chest.
"It's called Bayhill. It's a bit different from your old school"
"How so?" he said, still feeling uncomfortable and reverting to the old fashioned tone that his father often used.
“It’s quite relaxed. There’s no uniform or anything, and you call all your teachers by their first names. It's lovely, Harry goes and she enjoys it, even if she says she doesn't. John goes to the primary part of the school, Bayside, and so will Sherlock." She turned to the younger boy, "But you're not starting until tomorrow, my dear, because there’s some kind of teacher training day today. So it will just be you, me, and John."
"Okay" Sherlock said happily. Mycroft tensed. He wasn't ready to leave Sherlock with them.
"But what about my education? I mean, the school sounds nice, but I need to get good exam results! I want to go to Oxford!"
“I’m so glad to hear that. You can work as much or as little as you want at Bayhill. There's no pressure, but if you want to work, then the teachers are incredibly supportive, and if there's anything you need, they'll stay behind after lessons or even after school to help you. I think you'll be very happy there, Mycroft.”
"And if I'm not?" He turned away, advancing on his brother with a hairbrush, trying to be nonchalant.
"Then we'll try somewhere else. There are a lot of schools in town."
"Oh." Mycroft turned away from a disgruntled Sherlock and headed towards the dresser. "Lizzie, I don't have any clothes." Mycroft looked forlornly at his two spare t-shirts, the one he'd been taken to hospital in, and the one he had worn the day before.
"Ah, yes, I'd forgotten, I'm sorry. That's my fault. We should have gone out yesterday."
"You're not mandated to buy me clothes." Mycroft took the t-shirt without blood spatter, and stood awkwardly, waiting for Lizzie to leave so he could change.
"I am, actually. You didn't come to us with adequate clothing. Tonight, we'll go shopping, just us." Lizzie frowned as Mycroft tensed slightly. "What's wrong?"
"I- it's nothing." Mycroft couldn't look at her. He shouldn't have flinched.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! It's stupid, you wouldn't understand. Please, I need to get dressed now Mrs Watson." He wound the t-shirt around his hands. Why couldn't she just drop it?
"If you're sure. We don't have to go shopping. I can go while you're at school."
"No. It's fine."
"Okay. I'll leave you to it then. Do you prefer eggs and toast or cereal for breakfast?"
"Cereal, please." Mycroft relaxed slightly.
"Okay. See you downstairs then." Lizzie turned and walked out, closing the door behind her. Mycroft relaxed slowly, smoothing out the wrinkled t-shirt.
"Croft, why were you rude to Lizzie?" Sherlock appeared by his leg.
"I wasn't. Get dressed, Sherlock. You'll have to wear what you wore yesterday. Mrs Watson will get us some new clothes soon."
"Now! Go on, get dressed. Please, please, be good for me today, Lock." Sherlock frowned at his brother, stuck out his tongue and started to get dressed. Mycroft waited until the boy had his back towards him, and whipped off his pyjama top, replacing it within seconds. More sedately, he changed his trousers, turning his underwear from the day before inside out. He was going to a new school with inside out underwear. It was unfathomable. He closed his eyes in fleeting, silent prayer. What would they think? He'd have to make sure not to flinch at perfectly normal sentences like earlier, too. He hadn't meant to offend Lizzie. But time spent 'just us' with adults had rarely been a positive experience for him, and the phrase had jarred. He couldn't freak out at school. Not with inside out underwear.