Disclaimers:  I do not own Sherlock or any of its characters.  I am merely borrowing them for entertainment purposes.

Notes:  Another story in my series.  Follows "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus," "For Auld Lang Syne," "The Heart of the
Matter," and "Chance Encounters." It's not exactly necessary to read them, but it would help.  John/Sherlock pairing.

Further Notes:  Sherlock is ten in this one.  And yes, I have created a bunch of OCs.  It suited my purposes to give him an
extended family.

This story has very little to do with Easter, but the holiday is mentioned.



Belief



Sherlock slouched in the back of the family car, his arms crossed over his chest.  He was the very picture of irritation.

Mycroft nudged him lightly with the back of his hand.  "Sit up," he advised.

Sherlock curled up his lip.  He didn't want to do anything Mycroft told him to do.  Nor did he even want to be in this car in the
first place.  He was happy staying at home.

He slapped his hands on the seat and pushed himself up to sit properly.  "Why are we going?"

"Mummy and Daddy are on holiday.  Aunt Lucille and Uncle Henry were kind enough to offer us a place to stay until they
return."

"I don't see why.  I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself."  It was true.  At ten years old, he was utterly
self-sufficient.  He couldn't seem to convince others of this fact though.

Mycroft looked at him, a faint smile to his lips.  "Perhaps Mummy didn't want to risk coming home to cinders."

"The fire wasn't that bad!" Sherlock snapped.  "I had it completely under control."

"Hence the people renovating the house."

It had only been one room.  Sherlock didn't see why they were making such a fuss.  The fire damage hadn't even been that
bad.  The water damage was though.  Still, his experiment had been successful.  He'd been able to see the burn patterns before
the fire had been doused.

To annoy his brother, Sherlock slouched down in his seat again.  "You don't have to stay.  You have a dormitory room."

"Mummy didn't want you alone."

"I won't be alone.  I'll be with Aunt Lucille and Uncle Henry and their mundane progeny."  He sneered as he said it, folding his
arms around himself again.  He didn't want to go.  He wanted to stay home.  It was better at home.  He could work on his
experiments there or read his books.  And he wouldn't have to deal with strange relations that only barely tolerated his presence.

"I could go home if you don't want me there," Mycroft offered.  "I'm sure Mummy would understand."

He frowned and looked down at the floor.  "They don't like me."  No one understood him.  Mummy did.  And sometimes
Daddy and Mycroft.  But no one else.  Aunt Lucille had often proclaimed him a strange child and that there was clearly
something wrong with him.  Sherlock knew she had tried to talk Mummy into taking him to see some specialist.  Mummy
hadn't spoken to her for three months after that and it had taken many apologies on Aunt Lucille's part before Mummy would
admit her into the house again.

The cousins were no better.  Zoe, who was only two, ran away at the sight of him.  Michelle, sixteen, called him names or
ignored him altogether.  Alan was the worst though.  He was a bully, plain and simple.  Just like the boys in Sherlock's school
who thought it fun to push him around and steal his books.  He was twelve and thought himself superior to Sherlock just
because he was older and bigger.

Sherlock was not looking forward to this visit.

"Regardless, we still have to go," Mycroft said.  "It's only for two weeks."

Sherlock scowled petulantly, and turned his gaze to the window.  He didn't want to hear anything Mycroft had to say to him.

For four days he wandered about his Aunt and Uncle's home, trying to avoid all family members.  He succeeded well.  He ate a
quick breakfast in the kitchen before anyone else awoke so that he could escape into the garden with several books to keep him
busy until after sunset.  He didn't eat lunch, unless he grabbed a piece of fruit on his way out of the kitchen in the morning.  He
couldn't avoid dinner though, and suffered through the meal in silence, generally pushing the contents of his plate around until
he was excused from the table.

On the fifth day, he was surprised when Mycroft was waiting for him in the kitchen.  There, he was informed that he was
expected to attend Mass with the rest of the family.  Sherlock flinched, not liking the idea.  He'd never had to do so before.  
Mummy and Daddy didn't attend church services, nor did they expect their children to do so.

"Why do I have to go?" Sherlock asked brusquely.

"We are guests in this house, Sherlock.  It is only polite to abide by their customs."

And so, much to Sherlock's displeasure, he begrudgingly dressed in a suit and was dragged along to Church to attend Mass.  
He kept quiet, forcing himself to remain obedient.  He didn't like coming here, but Mummy always expected him to act on his
best behavior.  He didn't want Mummy to be disappointed in him.

He sat when he was told to.  He knelt and stood as everyone else did.  He sang the hymns even though he didn't believe in the
words.  He did everything that was expected of him.

Halfway through Mass, he turned to Mycroft and whispered.  "This has something to do with Easter?"

Mycroft shushed him but nodded.  "Easter Mass," he said far softer than Sherlock.

Sherlock didn't understand.  He knew from past experiences with the holiday that it had something to do with brightly colored
eggs and some rabbit who delivered candy.  What did any of that have to do with the death and resurrection of the son of
God?  He asked as much, brow furrowing in confusion.

Mycroft succinctly explained the pagan origins of some of the traditions, but didn't go into too much detail, promising to tell
him later if he behaved now.  Sherlock reluctantly acquiesced.

When they returned to Aunt and Uncle's home afterward, he stalked into the house.  Aunt Lucille was going over the details of
the service, saying how wonderful it had been, extolling the virtues of the sermon.  The rest of the family wandered off.  
Before Sherlock could get to the stairs to escape to his room, Aunt Lucille called out to him.

"What did you think, Sherlock?" she asked, smiling widely.

He turned to face her without expression on his face.  His answer was honest and calm, no emotion contained within his
words.  "I don't believe in God," he said.

A resounding slap filled the suddenly quiet hall.  Sherlock staggered to the side, catching himself before he could topple.  His
face burned where his Aunt had struck him and he looked up at her in horror, confused as to her reaction.  He had told the
truth.  What was wrong with that?

Aunt Lucille raised her hand again.  "You little heathen," she spat.  Before she could slap him again, Mycroft was there,
catching her wrist in his grip.

"If you will pardon us, Aunt Lucille, I believe Sherlock and I have to pack," Mycroft said respectfully, although his words held
a cold edge to them.

That threw her and she stepped back away from him, her hand still raised to strike Sherlock and caught in Mycroft's strong
grasp.  "What are you talking about?"

Mycroft's voice was cool and detached when he answered her.  "Only that I doubt any amount of apologizing will get you back
into Mummy's good graces again."  He released his hold on her and turned to Sherlock.  "Come along, Sherlock."

Sherlock followed, only barely registering Aunt Lucille starting to splutter.  Apparently she had remembered, too late, that her
sister was very protective of her youngest son.

Aunt Lucille blocked their passage to the stairs.  "Where do you think you'll go?"

Mycroft sighed and rolled his eyes.  "If I cannot find a room in a nearby hotel, I'll bring Sherlock to stay in my dorm at
University.  I doubt that I'll have a problem, though, one of my connections promised to always find a place for me should I
have need of it."

Sherlock heard Aunt Lucille, at first arguing with Mycroft.  Then begging him to stay, to not tell Mummy.  Mycroft refused
each and every time, his tone always calm, his words measured with tact and a hint of smug superiority.

Aunt Lucille gave up trying to convince Mycroft, and instead turned her attention to Sherlock.  She took a step toward him and
reached out to him.  Despite the weak smile on her face and the slowness of her approach, Sherlock shrank away from her.  
She had frightened him and he didn't like it.  He turned on his heel and fled away from her, running up the stairs and to the
bedroom he had been allowed to use.  He crossed to the far end of the room and pressed himself back into a corner, his arms
thrown around his legs and his face buried in his knees.  

Much to his confusion and annoyance he felt his cheeks getting wet.  He was crying, and he didn't want to be.  There was little
point in it.  All it did was make his nose runny and his throat hurt.  What purpose did tears serve anyway?  Other than to coerce
people into doing what he wanted by gaining sympathy, he didn't see any reason for it.

He heard the door open and soft footfalls crossing the room to stand in front of him.  But he didn't look up.  There was no need
to.  He knew who it was.  Knowing didn't stop the involuntary flinch when a hand touched his head.

"Sherlock?" Mycroft spoke, his tone even softer than before.

"I want to go home," Sherlock whined into his knees, sniffling loudly as the words caught at the growing ache in his throat.

Mycroft shifted and Sherlock knew his older brother was crouching down in front of him.  A hand was placed on his shoulder
and he managed not to flinch this time.  "You can't, Sherlock.  They're still renovating and the staff is on paid leave until
Mummy and Daddy return."  He shifted his hand in a gentle stroke across Sherlock's head.  "However, I know someone that
will get us someplace nice to stay.  It won't be home, but it won't be here, either."  He stood up and moved away.

Sherlock looked up and watched as Mycroft began to pack what few belongings Sherlock had left out.  Most of his clothing
had never left the suitcase they'd been packed into in the first place.  Sherlock hadn't felt any urge to make himself at home in
this unfamiliar place.  He'd wanted to be ready as soon as Mummy came to get him.

He started going over the day in his head, analyzing every moment.  What had he done?  Surely mere words hadn't prompted
physical violence, had they?  No adult had ever struck him before.  Not even Mummy when she had discovered the small fire
he had started.  She'd scolded him for putting himself in danger after assuring herself that he was unharmed.

Mycroft slipped out of the room to finish packing.  Sherlock remained where he was, attempting and failing to understand why
he'd been slapped.  It didn't make sense.

The door had been left open a crack.  When it was pushed open more, Sherlock looked over, worried that Aunt Lucille had
decided to come after him.  Instead, little Zoe trudged in with something in her arms.  She looked around for a moment before
she spotted Sherlock.  She ducked her head and walked towards him.

Their eyes met briefly as she stopped in front of him before the two-year old looked down and scuffed her foot on the floor.
She was still wearing the overly frilly dress Aunt Lucille had put her into.  Without ceremony, she thrust the object she had
been holding in Sherlock's direction and he could finally see what it was.

It was a doll.  Not an expensive one bought in a fancy store.  It was handmade.  The stitching was familiar.  Made by their
Grandmere.  Sherlock had a bear that had been made by her and he knew that every one of her grandchildren had a similar toy
made by her.  Even Mycroft.

"No sad," Zoe ordered, letting go of the doll so that it rested in Sherlock's hands.  He didn't know what he was supposed to do
with it.  Why had she given it to him?  This was her favorite toy.  She never went anywhere without it.  And just why wasn't
she running away from him?  She didn't like him.  Neither did her sister or brother, or their parents, apparently.

Zoe put her tiny hands on his knees and shoved.  Confused, Sherlock shifted until he sat cross-legged.  Zoe climbed up onto
him and sat on his lap, little arms wrapped around his body.

He was bewildered by her behavior and stared down at her, unsure of what to do.  He held his arms away from himself and
Zoe, her doll still held by one hand.  What was one supposed to do in this situation?

"She was worried about you," a voice from the door had him turning.  His cousin Michelle stood framed in the doorway, her
hand on the handle.  She and Mycroft got on well together, being close to the same age, but she rarely gave Sherlock any
notice except to call him names.

"Why?"  He looked down at Zoe.  He didn't understand her.

Michelle crossed the room with easy strides.  She looked like her mother with medium-length dark brown hair.  Zoe on the
other hand, looked like no-one else in her immediate family.  Her hair was too dark, black almost and she had a paler skin tone
than her siblings.

Michelle knelt in front of Sherlock, a smile flickering on her face briefly.  There was something in her hand and she lifted it to
Sherlock's face.  He flinched away from her, eying her carefully.

"You're bleeding," Michelle stated calmly.  "Mother's ring must have done that."  She delicately placed the cloth she was holding
against Sherlock's face.  It was damp and cool and quite soothing against the throbbing ache in his cheek.

"But you don't like me," Sherlock pointed out.

"Well, you are an insufferable little know-it-all," Michelle replied, uttering a soft huff of a laugh.  "But that doesn't mean I want
you to be in pain.  We are family.  Mother shouldn't have hit you."

He was grappling to comprehend her words when Mycroft returned.  Michelle stood and left the room, taking a reluctant Zoe
with her.  She paused by Mycroft on her way out, not saying anything, but passing a long meaningful look at him and giving
his upper arm what Sherlock believed to be a comforting squeeze.  Then she was gone and Sherlock was left alone with his
older brother, Zoe's doll still clutched in his irritatingly trembling fingers.

Mycroft stood there regarding him for a moment before picking up Sherlock's suitcase.  "Come along, Sherlock.  Let's go
someplace with a less oppressive air."

Sherlock looked to the door with a feeling of trepidation.  Would Aunt Lucille be waiting for him?  Would she hit him again?

Mycroft held out his free hand.  "She won't hurt you again, Sherlock.  I won't let her.  I promise."

Slowly, cautious and a bit unsure, he stood and crossed the room to stand near his older brother.  He carefully placed Zoe's doll
on the bed and took Mycroft's hand.  "Where's your bag?"

"Already in the car.  Uncle agreed to have his driver take us wherever we wish to go." Mycroft said, leading Sherlock from the
room.

A dark look passed across Mycroft's features as they headed for the front door.  From somewhere else, there was the sound of
their Aunt and Uncle arguing loudly.  Sherlock barely heard his Uncle asking his Aunt if she was insane.  Then he was outside
and being guided into the car that was waiting for them.

Once they were in the car and well on their way, Sherlock felt those blasted tears again as he asked the question he desperately
wanted an answer for.  "What did I do wrong?"

"You did nothing wrong, Sherlock.  Aunt Lucille was the one who did something wrong.  You have every right to your own
opinions and beliefs.  She never should have struck you."

Sherlock shook his head.  "I don't understand."

"She should have respected your ideals, not tried to force her own on you."  He let out a long sigh.  "At the very least she could
have shown a tolerance for an opinion that differed from her own."

Sherlock still wasn't sure that he understood, but he didn't want to talk about it anymore.  Feeling strangely vulnerable, he sidled
closer to his brother and nudged up against his side.  Mycroft responded after only a moment of hesitation, lifting his arm and
curling it around Sherlock's slim shoulders to hold him close.

Sniffling, Sherlock buried his face in his brother's side, wishing he knew a way to stop the tears that were escaping him once
again.



*****



John was roused from sleep at a horrendously early hour one fine Sunday morning.  He vainly fought to open his eyes, even as
his mental flatmate shoved him out of his bedroom.

"What's going on?" he slurred, finally able to crack his eyes open as he staggered into the hall outside his door.  "Did Lestrade
call with a case?"

To his consternation, he received no answer.  Instead, Sherlock barked orders to shower and dress.  Clothing was shoved into
his hands and he was ushered into the bathroom before he could ask any further questions.

When he stepped back into the hall, adjusting his tie, he opened his mouth to question why he was wearing his best suit.  
However, he barely got to say his flatmate's name before he was grabbed by the arm and unceremoniously dragged downstairs
and out the door and bustled into a waiting cab.

The silence of the cab would have been the perfect time to ask what was going on.  Only, every time John opened his mouth,
Sherlock would shush him, either with words or with a kiss.  If John didn't know better, he'd say Sherlock was nervous about
something.

John didn't understand what was going on.  For the duration of the ride, he hoped that their destination might shed some light
onto this confusing situation.  However, that wasn't the case.  Instead of Scotland Yard, or a crime scene, John Watson found
himself standing in front of a church.  And a familiar one at that, the same church he had attended before being sent to
Afghanistan.

"Sherlock?  What?"  He turned, blinking owlishly.  He was beyond confused now.

To his surprise, Sherlock was still standing beside the cab.  He was looking down at the ground, for all intents and purposes
appearing suddenly shy.

"Why are we at a church?" John asked.

"I know that you're not devout, but you do possess a belief system," Sherlock said.  "You used to attend church on at least a
semi-regular basis.  You haven't since moving in with me, perhaps thinking I would look down on you for your faith."

John blinked at him.  He hadn't realized he was so obvious.  But then, everyone was when it came to Sherlock Holmes.  He
could see your life history in the blink of an eye.

He stepped closer to Sherlock, shaking his head.  "You don't believe in God," he said.

"I'm not going with you," the other man replied.  He flashed a flickering smile, and his hand came to rub against his own cheek
nervously.  "Just because I don't believe in your God, doesn't mean I can't respect your belief in a higher power."

John took hold of the hand that Sherlock was rubbing his cheek with.  He kissed him quickly.  "You never cease to amaze me."

Sherlock seemed to grow a little taller.  "Well, of course," he replied with an air of smug satisfaction.  He nodded to himself, as
if coming to some great conclusion.  "Right, I'll be off then."  He gave John a quick peck on the cheek.  "I'll be back when this
is over with.  Happy Easter."

And then he was gone, just like that.  Off in the cab and away down the street before John could make sense of what had just
happened.  But that was the way things were with Sherlock.  The best you could hope for was to hang on and enjoy the ride
and hope that a sense of understanding would be waiting at the end of it all.  John didn't want it any other way.



The End