"Can we fight this?" Lizzie asked, her head resting against her husband's shoulder.
"I don't think we can. It's all been settled and decided. He'll stay there at least until the trial."
"I can't believe it. After everything he's done to Mycroft."
"I know, I know. But we can't do anything about it now. When he's gone, we can try and appeal. But not now."
"It's crazy! How can social services let this happen?"
"You should have seen that lawyer. I wanted to strangle him, he took everything out of context and twisted it around. Holmes has money, Lizzie. That's all it is. Just a lot of money."
"Oh Kev... I just hope... I hope he's not treated badly. I hope it doesn't start on him." she turned her face into his neck, blocking out her view of the world.
"It's okay. He'll be fine, I'm sure of it." He stroked her hair, and let himself look worried, terrified in fact, over her head.
In the next room, Sherlock and John were playing trains on the carpet.
"You went too fast round the corner!" John said in a mock accusatory tone.
"Did not, you pushed it off the rug!" Sherlock stuck out his tongue.
"No, you sent it off too fast!"
"No! You pushed it!" Sherlock was getting a little confused. He knew he was telling the truth, and John was smiling, but he wasn't admitting to his crime.
"I didn't push it" John said, deliberately egging him on, unaware of the confusion he was inspiring.
"But you did!" Sherlock felt like hitting him. Or crying. Or both.
"Yes you did!" He was so confused now. Why was John saying something that wasn't true? He had all the markers of joking, but you don't joke about admitting to things you do wrong. If you don't admit to it, and it turns out you did it, you get in trouble.
"I didn't, Sherlock, I don't know why you're accusing me!" John grinned. Sherlock lunged towards him, pinning him down by the arms.
"You pushed it off! Stop denying it!"
"But-" John laughed, about to do it again. It was a fun game, after all, he and Harry played it all the time. But then Sherlock punched him, right on his smiling mouth. John yelled, rolling over and pushing the younger boy off. "MUM!" He shouted. Lizzie ran down the stairs and yelped when she saw her boy's lip split down the middle and bleeding.
"Are you okay baby? What happened?"
"He just went insane! He pinned me down and punched me! What the hell, Sherlock?" The little boy was gone. Lizzie looked around for him, and spotted a shock of curly hair from behind the sofa.
"Go and wash your mouth out, okay? Gently." She sent John to the sink and went to Sherlock. He was curled up in a tiny ball, his hands over the back of his head, his face between his feet. He was shaking. "I can see you, you know" she said softly. He flinched and curled up even tighter. "Why did you hit John?"
"Hmmmmmahhhhmmmmmah" he said, his voice muffled by his body.
"I didn't hear that, Sherlock. Can you come here and sit with me?" for a moment, there was no movement. But then the ball unravelled into the surprisingly tall five year old. Lizzie opened her arms to him, and he sat down next to her, leaning on her just as his brother had done. "Now then, why did you hit John?"
"I didn't understand."
"What didn't you understand?"
"He pushed my train over, but then he kept saying he didn't do it. He looked like he was joking, but it wasn't funny."
"Oh baby, he was probably playing. It's a game lots of brothers play, when someone deliberately lies, usually in order to provoke a reaction. But I don't think John was expecting you to react like you did."
"I didn't understand. It was really confusing." Sherlock's body started to shake slightly, and Lizzie felt her skirt getting damp.
"Listen to me. John was playing with you. He didn't mean to confuse you. You see things differently than he does. You are amazing, Sherlock, at seeing things, at putting them together to learn about people. But you're not very good at reading social queues yet. It's not your fault, and it will get better. Don't worry about it, everything will come in its time."
"Okay" Sherlock sniffed, sitting up and rubbing his hand across his small face. He looked so young. And then Lizzie wanted to cry herself, because they were about to let him be carted back to his father. And without Mycroft there to stop it, what would happen to Sherlock? She pulled him into a hug before letting him go, much happier, back to us game with John. Lizzie stayed on the sofa, thinking, for hours, all the way until Harry came downstairs asking for dinner.