The walls of their bedroom had been lovingly repainted pale blue, with cream carpet and pine furniture. A single on one side and a bunk bed on the other took up a lot of the room, but in the middle there was a desk and a floor area for playing. A wardrobe stood ominously in the corner. Mycroft avoided it. He laid Sherlock down on the single bed and stroked the hair away from the little boy's face.
"Thank you, Mrs Watson" he said quietly, standing awkwardly by the bed.
"We'll talk in the morning, Mycroft dear. It will all be okay. If you need anything, anything at all, don't hesitate to ask, Kevin and I are at the end of the hall"
"Thank you" he said dully, his eyes clouding with his desperate need to sleep. Lizzie left the room with a 'goodnight'. Mycroft collapsed backwards onto the bottom of the bunk bed, and didn't even bother to lie out straight before he fell into a deep, dream filled sleep.
"Please, Daddy, don't make me do this again. I hate it!"
"Get in" the man repeated, pushing Mycroft into the wardrobe in the master bedroom. "Sit properly." He barked the orders as though speaking to a stupid, disobedient five year old.
"Please" Mycroft begged, rearranging his body so he was knelt ramrod straight, his legs apart and hands behind his back. It was a position he regularly saw his Father's girls in. The man slammed the door of the wardrobe shut, leaving Mycroft in the dark, except for the slit of light that had been cut out at his eye level. It gave him a perfect view of the bed.
Mycroft shuddered as he knelt uncomfortably. He was afraid. Anything could be happening to Sherlock while he wasn't there to protect the boy. Eventually, after an hour of kneeling, Mycroft's legs burnt, his back ached, and he had lost the feeling in his fingers and toes. But he didn't move. He couldn't move. Suddenly, the door opened, and two people thrust into the room. Mycroft gasped as he recognised his English teacher. His concentration slipped back to the last few weeks. She had been treating him more kindly, his marks had gone up. Now he had his explanation.
He looked up out of the hole again, trying to commit every detail to memory for the examination afterwards. She left after another hour, and immediately the man wrenched the wardrobe open and yanked Mycroft out by his hair.
"I heard you, you made a noise!"
"I'm sorry, I was just shocked because-"
"I don't give a shit, boy"
"Sorry Daddy" Mycroft said softly. He flinched away from the stinging slap.
"Tell me what just happened. You know the level of detail I want, Mycroft" the man sat down on the bed to watch the boy as he recounted the night in perfect detail. The man stroked himself, and Mycroft avoided eye contact. He had passed. There would be no beating. Just the images, burnt into his mind.
Mycroft jumped awake, yelling out. Immediately, Lizzie was in the room, wrapped in a pink dressing gown.
"It's okay, Mycroft, it's okay" she said soothingly, kneeling down in front of him, stroking his damp hair away from his sweaty face. His shoulders stiffened at her touch, a tremor running through him.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it was just a bad dream, I won't cry out again, I promise! Please!" he was panicking, trying to move away on the bed, away from the pain that would surely come.
"Mycroft, listen to me" she said firmly. "You don't need to be afraid. I will not hurt you. Do you understand?"
"Please" he was crying now, hot tears streaming down his bruised face, his body contorting in silent, wracking sobs. Lizzie grabbed his flailing arms and pulled him in close to her, enveloping him into her lavender smell and soft, warm flesh. He was being hugged. It felt foreign, strange. But then he relaxed, and he felt so safe he couldn't believe it. He began to shake uncontrollably.
"Shh, it's okay, let it out" she whispered, rocking him gently. Mycroft forgot that he was twelve and too big to be crying, forgot that he was in the arms of a total stranger, forgot that Sherlock was right there, fast asleep. Mycroft shut his eyes tight against terror of the memories.
"I dreamed, I dreamed of the wardrobe he locked me in to make me watch his sex. I didn't want to see. I wish I didn't know! He said I was disgusting, that I liked it. But I didn't. I didn't like it. I wanted to close my eyes, but then I'd fail the test and he'd beat me and I didn't want that again." He rambled, almost howling, keeping as quiet as he could through his sobs. Lizzie held him softly, whispering meaningless words of comfort to him.
"It's okay, you don't have to anymore. You're safe now" she was holding back empathetic tears herself.
"Do you promise?" He looked up at her, his eyes filled with tears, wide with a hope twisted with the knowledge that no one keeps their promises.
"I promise we will do everything we possibly can. Would you like to sleep over there on the top bunk, and I'll stay here with you?"
"Yes please" Mycroft whispered. He didn't move, and Lizzie didn't push him. Everything has its time. He slipped down until his head was resting on her lap, and she was leaning on the wall. Slowly, he fell comfortably asleep. Lizzie didn't move, and sat stroking his hair until the first light rose into the window, deep in thought.