On the day Sherlock Holmes turned seven years old, he found a hedgehog in the garden.
Scared by a straying cat currently sniffing curiously at the small animal, the little fella had curled up in a protective ball, trembling ever so slightly. Promptly, Sherlock had shooed the cat away.
The hedgehog, of course, did not uncurl immediately. Sherlock crouched down, thinking that that was a rather reasonable decision. After all, how was it to know that Sherlock wasn’t an even bigger danger? Especially as the hedgehog’s former assailant had been scared away by him.
Rather smart, this little hedehog. Definitely smarter than the cat, which had been startled so easily by a few shooing motions and threatening sounds.
So, Sherlock held himself carefully still, showing the animal that he meant no harm, hoping for it to calm down.
Really, Sherlock was rather a bit fascinated by the hedgehog. He had only ever seen them in his books. If he could make the animal believe he wouldn’t hurt it, maybe it would uncurl and he could watch it for a bit, collect some new data.
Collecting new information, after all, was one of Sherlock’s favourite pasttimes.
Now, so far, nothing very unusual had occured. Which was why, when the hedgehog finally uncurled, Sherlock expected it to maybe sniff at Sherlock’s new leather shoes briefly before going back to whatever hedgehogs did with their lives. They had been one of his birthday presents and an animal might pick up on the smell.
However, the hedgehog did no such thing. Instead, it got to stand on its four tiny legs, wriggled its head, then stared up at Sherlock with its dark, beady eyes.
Sherlock instantly felt scrutinized and kept quiet. He knew he liked silence when he observed something. It was only right to extend the same courtesy to the hedehog, wasn’t it?
The hedgehog took its time watching him.
Then, seemingly coming to an decision, it approached Sherlock’s shoes after all, though not to sniff at them. Instead, rather awkwardly, the hedgehog started to walk up on them, cleary trying to somehow climb onto Sherlock.
Surprised, Sherlock carefully moved to offer his hands as a lift. By now, Sherlock was sure the animal was clever enough to see it for the friendly gesture it was.
And he was right, too. After only a second’s hesitation, the hedhehog made its way onto Sherlock’s hands. Its underside was surprisingly soft and tickled against Sherlock’s skin.
Very slowly, Sherlock got up until he was no longer crouching, but standing straight, the seemingly very special hedgehog in his hands.
“Hello,” he said. “I’m Sherlock Holmes.”
The hedgehog wiggled its nose in greeting.
“It’s my birthday today, you know,” Sherlock continued quietly.
The hedgehog seemed unimpressed by this.
Clearing his throat, Sherlock decided that he could trust the hedgehog with a secret. After all, it wouldn’t be able to tell anyone, not even Mycroft, and Sherlock dearly was in need to get the one thing off his chest that had been bothering him all day.
“It’s my birthday and nobody came,” he admitted in a rush. “Nobody phoned. Nobody wanted to come over. Only my family cares I am seven now.”
The hedgehog, Sherlock thought, looked a bit enquiring after that, so he explained: “The others, at school - they don’t like me. I don’t have any friends. I can’t make them like me, not like Mycroft can. I try, really, but nobody understands me.”
The hedgehog wiggled in his hands and Sherlock brought it up to his face to get a better look.
“What is it?” he asked and gasped when softly, carefully, the hedgehog pressed its nose against Sherlock’s.
“You… you want to be my friend?” he deduced slowly.
Another touch of their noses. Sherlock smiled shyly.
“Good. That’s - that’s good.” He paused, thinking briefly. “If you’ll be my friend, you’ll need a name.” Sherlock looked at the hedgehog sharply. “What are you - a Bill? An Albert? A Gregory?”
The hedgehog didn’t seem to like either of those names.
This time, the hedgehog let out the tiniest hint of a yelp.
Sherlock, in return, broke into a startled laugh.
“John it is, then,” he decided. Carefully, he pulled John closer and let him climb on his shoulder, which John seemed eager to do. “Let’s explore the garden together, friend. Maybe, we’ll find some interesting things.”
It felt rather good, Sherlock decided as he walked towards Mummy’s roses, having a friend.
(That night, though, Mummy wouldn’t let John inside the house. And the next morning, John would be gone and Sherlock would be devastated for weeks, losing his first friend just like that. But John the Hedgehog, who was a rather special animal as Sherlock had realized, would have a plan and that plan would suceed and nearly thirty years later, Sherlock would meet John Watson and find more than a friend in him.)