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Prior Incantato

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A figure paused at the top of the street, shoulders hunched into its jacket.  Its head slowly shifted from one side to the other, considering options, before setting off straight ahead.  As it passed a single narrow alleyway, its shadow darted high and threatening over it, leading it toward a destination before shifting to follow behind.  Before long, the figure paused, hooded face lifting toward the building opposite.

The sandwich shop on the ground floor sat dark with its awning tucked away for the evening and its entrance shut to the night.  Though the outdoor light that sat between it and the flat next door was off, the glossy 221 lettering shone lightly from a street lamp a few feet down the pavement.  Upstairs, a soft glow the shade of a tempered fire lit the pair of windows that looked down on the street.  Movement shifted across one of them, a long arm reaching out to something unseen, and broke the light for the briefest moment.  A second arm joined it to pull it from view, and within minutes the light tapered down until the flat was dark.  The figure watching across the way remained.

It tucked hands into invisible pockets, head transfixed upwards to study the silent building.  Eventually, a soft rain began to fall.  The figure’s jacket grew limp, but still it stood.  A cab drove past, sending up a spray of water from the road and across the figure’s feet, seemingly pulling it from its trance.  It shook, once, before shooting 221 a final glance.  Setting off back down the street, it turned the corner and immediately vanished. 

Chapter Text

~Six Years Later~

John Watson groaned, one hand in his own hair and the other grasping around in the blankets around him.  He soon discovered the bump underneath them that was moving in steady up and down motions and clutched at it desperately through the fabric.  Sliding his other hand down the side of his face and neck to tuck it below the blanket, he guided it to the figure between his legs.  Fingers found a mass of curls and he dug into them, causing a muffled moan to sneak out from the opening in the blanket his arm had made.

A light tapping briefly distracted John, forcing him to crack a single eye open in search of the noise.  Unable to find a source, his attention returned to the ministrations below.  His next moan came alongside a trio of sharper taps, this time louder than before.  Both of his eyes shot open and his brows furrowed in confusion.  Before he could return his focus to the situation below, the tapping began again, now a continuous stream of noise.  John huffed out a sigh of frustration as he patted at the hidden head halfway down the bed.

“Sherlock…” he muttered, the end of the word shifting up half an octave as the body creating the lump shot up and out from under the blankets.  Sherlock Holmes glared around the bedroom, his hair a terror of frizzy curls and his lips wet and red.  He licked them as he narrowed his eyes at the window, where an owl shaped shadow seemed to be glaring right back.  Before either of them could move, a dull pounding of tiny footsteps echoed from the ceiling and grew louder the closer they got.  Sherlock’s head snapped to the door and his eyes grew wide as he quickly ducked back under the covers just as it burst open to reveal a tawny haired child.

“DA!  Are you awa- IS THAT AN OWL?!”  Cecelia Watson darted to the window with a squeal, pulling at the latch to let the bird in.  The owl ruffled its feathers with a low hoot and swooped into the room, immediately heading towards the bed.  Cecelia clapped and chased after it, waiting for it to drop its letter.  As soon as it had, directly on John’s head, she asked, “Can I, Da?”

“Yes, but be very careful, darling,” John replied, shooting the owl a scowl over Cecelia’s head.  “I don’t recognize this owl so I don’t know if it’ll bite.”

With a solemn nod, Cecelia rushed into the kitchen and returned with their bag of owl treats.  The bird watched on, intrigued, from where it had landed on top of the dresser and eventually glided down to the floor, tentatively hopping along towards Cecelia.  She held out a treat with a flat and steady palm, ready to be taken once the owl decided she wasn’t a threat, and waited breathlessly for its approach.  It reached out its beak slowly and snatched up the treat to nibble on as it and Cecelia eyed each other.  Within seconds it hopped closer, allowing Cecelia to stroke its back.

John kept one eye on them as he broke the seal on the parchment, noting the Hogwarts crest stamped into the wax.  He absentmindedly patted the bump that was Sherlock still below the blankets as he read.  A low purring of approval made its way out from under the covers and John grinned, shifting to reach his hand under to properly grab at him.  Just as he did, Cecelia appeared at their bedside.

“Da, where’s Papa?” she asked, searching the bed.  John panicked for a moment, clutching the blankets closer, but before he could respond, Sherlock popped back out, his hair somewhat tamed and face composed.

“Here’s your sock, John,” he said as he handed the item over.  “Honestly, why do you even bother wearing them to bed if you always kick them off and lose them…good morning, Cecelia.”

“Morning, Papa!” she responded with a large smile, her bright blue eyes that matched Mary’s exactly shining brightly.  She waved behind her at the owl that was slowly making its way over to the discarded bag of treats that sat by the door.  “Do you know what kind of owl this is?”

As Sherlock untangled himself from the bed, John turned his full attention to the letter.  His eyebrows rose the further along he read, his focus enough that he didn’t notice Sherlock letting the owl back out the window and guiding Cecelia into the kitchen.  Once he’d reached the letter’s end, he glanced up to say something to Sherlock and found himself alone.  Letting out a disappointed sigh at the blowjob that wasn’t meant to be, he pulled his sleep trousers back up around his waist and got out of bed to follow the noises in the kitchen.

Sherlock had already started the coffee pot and settled Cecelia with a bowl of cereal by the time he arrived.  He came to stand at Sherlock’s side, who instantly pulled him in closer with an arm wrapped around John’s waist, and John offered him the letter.  While Sherlock read, John grabbed the mugs and sugar from his spot in Sherlock’s grip, pulling him along if he couldn’t quite reach.  By the time John was pouring them each a cup, Sherlock had lowered the letter to study John’s face.

“Hogwarts?” he simply asked, keeping his voice low.  John shrugged and took a large sip. 

“We can talk about it properly once Cecelia’s off to Jeannette’s; she and her mum should be coming by to get her soon.  We can sit down and discuss it together then.”

Sherlock nodded and spun around to face Cecelia.  “Have you got your project ready to bring along?”

Cecelia shoveled the last bite of her cereal into her mouth and shot up.  “Nearly, I’ve just got to get the pictures sorted.  I numbered them, just like you showed me, but they’re kinda…”

“Kinda all over your bedroom floor?” Sherlock asked with a raised brow.  Cecelia stuck her tongue out at him and ran away, giggling her way up the stairs.  John watched with a grin and pulled Sherlock into him, his back flush with John’s front.

“It’s always amusing watching you scold her about tidiness.  As though you have any right.”

“She ought to keep her experiment notes organized.”

“Pot, kettle,” John replied, squeezing Sherlock’s middle and setting a soft kiss on his neck before breaking away.  “What do you say to bacon?  We’re gonna need something more than coffee if we’re gonna get through that letter.”

Sherlock hummed and said, “There’s broccoli and a fresh bag of cheddar in the fridge – omelets?”

“Never thought I’d hear you willingly ask for vegetables,” John muttered as he dug around in the fridge.  Before Sherlock could reply, Cecelia was back, dressed with her backpack slung over her shoulder.

“Did you remember everything?” Sherlock asked, his hands on his hips as he attempted to make his voice stern.  Cecelia bounced up on her toes and nodded.  “Pictures?”

“Check.”

“Notebook?”

“Check.”

“Mould culture?”

“PAPA!”

Sherlock sighed and rolled his eyes.  “Very well.  I suppose Jeannette wouldn’t appreciate a slide of decomposing plant life as much as we do.”

From the stove, John added, “Her mother certainly wouldn’t.”  Downstairs, the doorbell buzzed and they heard Mrs. Hudson talking to whoever was outside.  Cecelia ran to the main door to look before rushing back to the kitchen.

“They’re here!  Bye Papa!”  Sherlock bent down obediently so she could kiss his cheek.  “Bye Da!”  John stepped away from the stove just long enough for her to do the same with him.  As she rushed down the stairs, Sherlock followed as far as their door to watch.

"Be good, bee, and have Jeannette’s mum message me if you spot anything suspicious!”  Cecelia’s giggle followed him as he shut the door, a broad smile on his face.

“You do that just to annoy her mum, don’t you?” John asked, dishing their food out onto plates.

“Of course.  Horrible woman.  Blatantly homophobic.  The only reason she lets Jeannette be friends with Cecelia is because she thinks we’re well off, between the cases we’ve solved and you being a doctor.”

John snorted and nodded Sherlock to his chair.  “I knew there was a reason I didn’t like her.  At least her daughter’s the complete opposite.”

“That’s because her father’s having an affair with his male business partner and she knows about it.  She’s a clever girl; she’s aware that her father is the better of her two parents, despite the infidelity.”

John chuckled and kissed the top of Sherlock’s curls before taking his own seat.  “You’re the real clever one, you git.  Now eat.”

They both began eating in companionable silence.  Once Sherlock saw John take his final bite of omelet, he set aside his fork and steepled his hands.  “So.  Poppy Pomfrey?”

John sighed and picked up his mug, cradling it without taking a drink.  “She’s the nurse at Hogwarts, has been for years.  I’m surprised she hasn’t retired yet, honestly, although usually anyone working at Hogwarts either does it for life or only stops when they physically can’t keep up with it.  She’s amazingly good, definitely could have become a proper Healer if she’d wanted.  Looks like she might be getting ready to possibly rest for once.  Maybe she wants to give it a try to see if she enjoys it?”

“So…let me see if I understand this correctly.”  Resting his hands flat on the table, Sherlock stared down at them intently.  “Hogwarts’ nurse wishes to take a sabbatical of sorts, needs a replacement on a temporary basis, and has contacted you to become that replacement.  Should you take the job, you would be relocating to Hogwarts for the entirety of the school year, leaving Cecelia and I here to wait for your return, as long as you aren’t offered the full position should she decide to officially retire.”

“No!  God, no.”  John quickly set down his mug to reach out and clasp Sherlock’s hands in his own, stroking his thumbs along his knuckles.  “Love, you and Cecelia would come with me, of course you would.  Plenty of other Hogwarts employees have family close by, and I could never even consider taking any sort of position that would take me away from the two of you.”

Sherlock frowned, staring down at their joined hands, and nodded.  “Very well.  Then it would simply be a matter of deciding to leave Mrs. Hudson, Baker Street, and the work.”

“Which is why this needs to be a choice we make together.”  John studied him for a moment before standing, pulling Sherlock along with him.  “Come on, let’s move to the sofa.  I want to hold you.”

Following without comment, Sherlock let John lead him into the sitting room.  John positioned himself with his back against the sofa’s arm and settled Sherlock between his legs, his head and back resting against John’s shoulder and chest.  He gave Sherlock a squeeze and cleared his throat.

“Right.  Unfortunately, leaving Mrs. H and Baker Street would be a guarantee, at least for me.  Some of the professors Apparate home once classes finish each day, but as the Healer for the school, I would be required to remain on hand almost constantly in case of an emergency.  We certainly could visit, and obviously once the year is up we would come back, but for the actual school year, we’d be living at Hogwarts.  That bit we wouldn’t be able to compromise.  But the work…at least for you, I think we could figure it out.”

“The work’s not the work without you, John.”

John smiled into Sherlock’s neck.  “I’d still help, just…in a less active way.  You’ll always be able to use me as a sounding board, you’d just have to bring me photos and video of crime scenes rather than dragging me along to see it live.  But if we work it out with Lestrade – “  John froze, causing Sherlock to shift around and stare up at him.

“John?  What’s wrong?”

“We’d have to tell them,” John muttered, staring vacantly at the wall.  “All of them.  Mrs. Hudson, Greg, Molly…they’d never let us just leave without knowing why, or even just without an idea of where we’re going.  God, that would break so many of the laws under the Statute of Secrecy…”

“Don’t worry about that, Mycroft can take care of whatever might be involved.”

John groaned and ran a hand down his face.  “It’s not just that.  We’d have to tell them we’re wizards, Sherlock.  How are they going to take that?”

Sherlock turned back around and settled himself deeper against John’s chest.  “I suppose we should simply tell them the truth.  The three of them are really the only ones who ought to know – surely after years of what we’ve all gone through, they would be accepting of this.”

Sighing, John buried his face into Sherlock’s shoulder.  “They might.  If they react the way you did, I don’t think we’d be too badly off.  I’d rather not have to be in any small skirmishes to reveal I’ve got magic, though.”

Gently pushing him up and around, John shifted Sherlock until they were facing each other.  “Tell me honestly that you don’t want to go and we won’t, Sherlock.  The opportunity is a great one, but it won’t be worth shit if you or Cecelia are miserable.”

“As long as we’re with you, we could never be miserable.”

John smiled and cradled Sherlock’s face in his hands.  “Romantic sap.  But really, you would be okay at Hogwarts?  Away from London and Baker Street for so long?”

Sherlock remained silent for a long moment, watching John’s expression carefully as he thought.  Finally, he gave John a faint nod.  “I would be, yes.  I could finally see and learn about Hogwarts first hand, experience the library and discover its corridors and classrooms.  Cecelia would need to be taught while we’re gone – I could continue what we’ve already begun and along with it she could experience magic far more easily in her everyday life.  She deserves a chance to see and live in this other world and decide if she’d like to make it hers eventually.”

John broke out in a smile, pulling Sherlock in for a kiss.  He lingered for a moment, barely pulling away far enough to speak his words against Sherlock’s mouth.  “Thank you, love.  This means a lot.  It’s been years since I’ve been able to use my magic to heal.”

“Just about six years, isn’t it?” Sherlock remarked with a grin.  John laughed and kissed him again. 

“I’m sure there will be plenty of spell grazes much like yours, not to mention much more complicated injuries.  I heard that Harry lost all the bones in his arm once.”

Sherlock pulled back to gape at him.  “You can’t be serious.  How the hell did that happen?”

“An idiot professor tried to fix a break and made it worse, apparently.  I can definitely guarantee I won’t be as rubbish as that.”

Sherlock’s face softened as he smiled.  “You’ll be brilliant, John.”

Nuzzling into Sherlock’s neck, John pulled him back down to fully lie on the sofa.  “Thanks, baby.  We’ll see.”  For several minutes they simply remained entwined together, the dishes in the kitchen forgotten in favour of warm bodies and softly stroking hands.  As John toyed with the end of one of Sherlock’s curls, his eyes settled on various spots in their home, a fond smile ticking up one side of his mouth.  He tightened his grip to scratch at Sherlock’s scalp.  “Will you take your skull?”

Sherlock humphed and rubbed his face into John’s chest.  “Of course, I could never leave Billy behind.  Or my violin.”

“That’ll be a sight, you silhouetted in a Hogwarts tower window, the notes of the violin echoing in the stone corridors.  I doubt it’s something they get to experience often up there.”

“We’d be staying right at Hogwarts, then?” Sherlock asked excitedly, lifting his head just enough to meet John’s eyes.

“Well, I’ll have to for sure…I know Poppy’s got an office and living quarters right off the hospital wing so that she’s available any time there might be a problem.  I think most of the professors’ families live down in Hogsmeade – “

“No,” Sherlock interrupted, pushing himself up onto his elbows.  “We’ll stay with you.  I can’t imagine being that far away, not now after how much work went into becoming this.  I couldn’t…I can’t, John.  We have to stay with you.”

“Shh, love, you will, of course darling.”  His hand shifted from Sherlock’s scalp to the back of his neck, bringing his head down to rub their cheeks together reassuringly.  “God, I remember living without you and it was awful; I plan on making sure that never happens again.”  He waited until Sherlock had calmed down again before guiding him back to make eye contact once more.  “Let’s clean up and get dressed, yeah?  I can write Poppy a response and we’ll figure out a way to tell everyone while we make a stop down to Diagon Alley to send it.”

With a nod, Sherlock pushed himself to his feet and headed for the bedroom, John following close behind.

~~~

A few hours later, the pair walked arm in arm down Charing Cross Road, halfheartedly searching for a free cab but mostly enjoying one another’s company and the bright August day.  After sending the letter accepting Poppy’s proposal, they had meandered around Diagon Alley, darting between students and their families taking care of school shopping as they went.  While Sherlock restocked his supplies at the apothecary, John stood outside observing the teenagers, wondering how many of them he would be meeting soon and daydreaming of shopping for those same supplies with Cecelia in a few years.  It had become clear very early on that she shared her birth parents’ magical ability, reaching the point now where she was nearly as good at simple wandless magic as Sherlock was.  It had taken quite a bit of work to get her to understand that she could only use her magic at home, but now at nearly seven years old she could both control and hide it well.

“I think you should tell Mrs. Hudson first,” Sherlock said suddenly as he squinted across the street at Foyle’s.  John knew he wanted to go in and investigate what sorts of older books they might have on display that day, but the time in the afternoon in the summer meant the shop was filled with tourists.  He sniffed and went back to watching their path forward instead, clearly deciding it wouldn’t be worth the effort.  John guided them towards Denmark Street, hoping to avoid the madness of Oxford Street.

“I agree.  Why just me, though?”

Sherlock shrugged and stopped them in front of one of the many music shops on the road to study the instruments displayed in the window.  “It seems more appropriate.  We wouldn’t have found out about my magic without me learning about yours first.  Of course, if you’d like me to come with you I will, but you would be more suited to actually explaining the situation to her.”

“You just don’t want to deal with her crying all over you when she finds out we’re leaving,” John said with a smirk that grew wider when Sherlock glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.  John laughed and pulled him along by Sherlock’s hand resting in his bent elbow.  “Yeah, all right, it’s my fault we’re going so I might as well be the one to deal with the emotional reaction.  What about Greg and Molly?”

“I suspect that a crime scene is out of the question…”

“Yeah, let’s not give Greg a bloody heart attack while he’s on the job.”  Spotting a small, unoccupied churchyard, John led Sherlock along to sit side by side on one of the benches.  “I suppose we could ask them over for dinner sometime, maybe even make a going away party out of it.  We could have Mycroft and James over as well, have Mycroft as a sort of additional support…”

Sherlock’s nose scrunched into a wrinkle of distaste.  “I suppose we ought to, as much as I’d rather not.  You know how revolting it is to see the pair of them together, draping over each other like a pair of overeager teenagers.”

“Oi, that’s your brother-in-law and one of my best mates you’re talking about.  Besides, you know we’d need to see them at some point before we leave, not to mention that we’re hardly any better than them.  We’re better off just taking care of everything in one go rather than having to drag out the explanations over multiple discussions.”

“True.  Very well, I’ll let my brother and his much more delightful husband know to expect an invitation soon.  James ought to be told as well anyway, if Mycroft hasn’t spilled the entirety of our private lives to him already.”

“Right, well, if I’m going to tell Mrs. H, we should head back home.  We’ve only got a few hours left before Cecelia will be back and we’ve still got to tell her as well.”

With a nod, Sherlock rose to his feet and led them back to the road, where he instantly brought a cab forward to wait for their approach.  As they situated themselves and Sherlock told the cabbie their destination, John stared unseeing out the window, planning out what he would say to both Mrs. Hudson and Cecelia when they returned.

~~~

Once home, Sherlock immediately headed up to their flat and picked up his violin, the sounds of an unknown piece gliding down to John at the front door.  Taking a steeling breath, John straightened his back and headed for 221a, giving the door a sharp knock.

Mrs. Hudson answered almost instantly, wearing an apron and wiping her hands on a tea towel.  “John!  Come in, dear, I’ve just finished up with a batch of chocolate scones.  I know how your two loves adore anything sweet.”

“They’ll be thrilled,” John replied as he closed the door behind him and sat at the kitchen table.  “Ah, actually, the reason I stopped by was to tell you something that’s come up for the three of us.”

“Of course, what is it?” she asked over her shoulder as she continued to wash dishes from her baking.

“I’ve been offered a job,” he began, deciding to be straight to the point.  She set the bowl she had been cleaning aside to clap her hands and turn to face John with an enormous smile.

“Oh John, how wonderful!  I’m sure it will be such a good opportunity for you all.”

“Yeah, I think it will…the only thing is, it’s in Scotland.”  John watched her face fall as she walked over to sit down opposite him.

“You’d be leaving Baker Street, then?”  Her hands shook slightly where they sat folded on the table.  John reached out to grab them and squeeze them reassuringly.

“Yes, but only for a year.  Not even that, really, more like ten months, just for the length of a school year.  It’s at a school, you see…the one I went to when I was young, actually.”

Her face brightened once more.  “That’s perfectly fine then, dear!  It sounds like the ideal opportunity for you.  Does that mean you’ll be teaching?”

“Not quite – I’ll be the Healer, er, doctor on duty.  But there’s something else, that I’ve kept from you and even Sherlock for a while, too.”  He took a deep breath, firming his resolve, before meeting her eyes.  “I’m a wizard.”

She stared at him blankly for a moment, long enough that John worried he’d shocked her too much with his bluntness.  He was about to get to his feet to check on her properly when suddenly she burst into giggles.  It was John’s turn to gape as tears rolled down her face in her attempt to calm her laughter.  Eventually they subsided into the occasional chuckle as she looked at him with fond, if somewhat watery, eyes.

“Oh my dear, didn’t you realize I already knew?” she said, shocking John even more.  “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of you are very subtle about it.  Cecelia I could understand, I can’t imagine she knows how to control it properly when she’s so young, but surely wherever you learned it taught you to check downstairs that your landlady wasn’t in before crashing things about and making a ruckus.  The number of times I’ve caught one or both of you waving one of those sticks – a wand, I suppose?  Yes, I thought as much, knew it had to be – around as I left the flat or came up for something or other is frankly ridiculous.”

John blinked a few times before managing to find his voice.  “I…don’t know what to say.  Sorry?”

“It’s no trouble at all, John, really.  It isn’t as though you were disturbing anyone or anything more than usual once magic was involved.  And regardless of how careful you might have been, I’ve looked after Cecelia on my own.  The day she floated her glass of milk over to her without a second thought I realized she must have gotten it from you.”

“Both me and Mary, actually – wait, hold on.”  John tugged at his hair, a trait he’d picked up from Sherlock over time, and successfully ruined the swooped back look he had been favouring recently.  “If you’ve known for God only knows how long, why haven’t you said anything about it?!”

“You never mentioned it, so I assumed it was meant to be a secret.  If you wished to discuss it, I knew you would in your own time.”

John sighed and rose to his feet.  “Right, yeah, okay.  Anyway, I’ve been offered a temp job at my old wizarding school and I’m going to take it.  We’ll make arrangements for Mycroft to make sure the rent’s taken care of while we’re gone.  I’m due there in a little less than a month, but we’re planning on having a small do before we leave as a farewell and to explain to the others.  Sherlock and I both thought you ought to be told first.”

Mrs. Hudson followed him to standing and hugged him briefly.  “That’s so thoughtful of you, dear, but you needn’t have worried yourself.  I’m sure the others will take it splendidly as well.  And don’t you worry about the flat, I’ll keep it in perfect condition for when you return.”

“Yeah, thanks.  We’ll let you know about the party, okay?”

“Please do – I’ll be sure to make a cake for everyone!  You get upstairs and celebrate with your man, now, while you’ve both a few moments alone.”  She waved him off out the door and returned to her dishes, humming as she busied herself with finishing.  John shook his head again before heading upstairs to where the violin music was gradually coming to its conclusion.

“How did it go?” Sherlock asked as John came in and slouched down into his chair.  John huffed out a laugh and patted his thigh, silently requesting that Sherlock join him.  Sherlock placed his violin back in its case and draped himself across John’s lap, tucking his face into his neck and wrapping his arms around his neck.

“Well.  Really well, actually.  She already knew, in fact.”

“Wait, really?”  Sherlock pulled away from John’s neck in his surprise.  “How?”

“Caught us and Cecelia at it, apparently.”  John laughed again and ran his hand up and down Sherlock’s back.  “I suppose we really are rubbish at the whole secrecy thing, particularly when we’re here at home.”

Sherlock hummed and leaned back into John’s touch.  “At least that meant she wasn’t surprised when you told her.  I did say you had nothing to worry about.”

“Yes, I suppose you did.”  Downstairs, another ring at the front door followed by Mrs. Hudson’s voice told them that Cecelia was home early.  “So much for that alone time Mrs. H suggested.  You ready to tell our daughter the news?”

Without answering, Sherlock’s eyes lit up and he jumped up from his comfortable position to launch himself toward the door.

Chapter Text

Roughly a week later, John paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, desperately fighting the urge to run his hand through his hair and ruin it.  Greg and Molly were due any moment and Mycroft had just texted to say they too were on their way.  One bottle of wine sat open and resting beside the waiting food on the kitchen table, another chilling in the fridge.  John itched to go pour himself a glass, but he knew Sherlock would scold him for worrying too much if he saw.  As soon as he heard Sherlock and Cecelia’s footsteps coming down from her room, he froze and threw himself into his chair in an attempt at casual indifference.

From Sherlock’s frown, John knew he hadn’t succeeded.  As Cecelia skipped over to the coffee table to continue her colouring from earlier, twirling her dark violet dress as she went, Sherlock walked over to stand behind John’s chair.  He leaned down to wrap his arms around John’s chest, stroking along the smooth cashmere of his jumper.

“It will be fine,” he muttered into John’s ear, rubbing his nose against it.  John slowly blew out the breath he’d been holding and shifted to rest his temple against Sherlock’s cheek.  “They are our friends, by some mad chance, and they have experienced far worse from us than this.  At least no one has died this time.”

“Thank God,” John chuckled.  Raising his voice, he called over to Cecelia, “You look lovely, Síleas.”

“Thanks Da!” she called back without looking up from her colouring.  “Papa helped me with the zip up the back and we made sure my shoes were nice and shiny.  He showed me the wand movements and let me try it and everything!”

John glanced up at Sherlock over his head, who had the decency to blush as he avoided John’s eyes.  “He did, did he?  I thought we agreed no more spell practice in the flat.”

“It was just a little one, John,” Sherlock muttered under his breath.  “I thought, with it being up in her room…”

“It’s fine, love, I don’t mind.”  John leaned up to kiss him on the cheek and nearly jumped from his chair when the door opened downstairs.  Sherlock squeezed his shoulder reassuringly one more time before straightening and turning just as Molly and Greg entered, Mrs. Hudson and her cake close behind.

“Evening, gentlemen,” Greg said as he took Molly’s coat and hung it on the stand.  “I’m assuming that whatever news you’ll be sharing tonight will explain why you’ve both been so anxious the last few days.”

“Yeah, it should, we hope,” John said as he stood with a glance at Sherlock.  “Can I get you both anything?  Wine?  Water?  Juice?  I made sure to get something that both you can Cecelia could have too, Molly.  I wasn’t sure what would be best…Greg mentioned that you were having trouble keeping some things down.”

Molly placed a hand over her slightly protruding belly.  “Thanks, John.  Luckily the morning sickness has passed; it really was awful a few weeks ago.”

“The first months can be hell for sure,” John agreed.  “And then the last few as well, for different reasons.  The good news is, you should be fairly well off until the third trimester hits; enjoy the second one, it’ll be the best.”

Greg and Molly smiled at each other and John left them to their happy glow as he went to pour drinks for everyone.  By the time he got back, they were situated on the sofa, and Mycroft and James were just walking in.  Instantly Cecelia rushed to the door and stood before Thor, who waited patiently at James’ feet for the appropriate command.  The second James unhooked the leash, the two were playing together on the floor.  Within minutes, everyone was settled comfortably throughout the room, chatting amicably together.

Sherlock strolled over to where John was sipping his wine and leaning against the mantle.  “Shall we?  It won’t get any easier the longer we wait.”

John took his hand and gave it a squeeze before stepping in front of everyone.  The room quickly fell silent except for Cecelia humming to herself as she lay on her stomach on the floor, kicking her feet and colouring with Thor at her side.  Everyone else watched John expectantly and Sherlock placed himself close to John’s side for reassurance.

“There’s actually a reason we wanted to ask all of you here tonight,” John began nervously.  Before he could get very far, however, Greg interrupted him.

“Are you two finally getting married, then?” he asked with an enormous grin.  James leaned forward in his chair to study Sherlock’s hands.

“Nope, not yet, not unless they forwent the rings,” James commented.  “If he’s anything like his brother, Sherlock would only take it off on pain of death.”

“As you are all aware,” Sherlock cut in, his expression blank, “we’ve decided that given John’s past in regard to marriage, we would like to avoid it for the time being.  Just because all of you have said your I do’s doesn’t mean we must.”

John swallowed and clenched his left hand into a fist, glancing down at the floor.  “Ah, no, not that, not yet, sorry.  It’s actually…well, there’s something…Sherlock and I…are…”

“Da’s got a new job and we’re going to Hogwarts,” Cecelia interrupted matter-of-factly.  She didn’t even look up from the pages in front of her as she spoke.  Everyone glanced from her back to John, who shrugged.

“She’s not wrong.  But that’s not all.  Sherlock and I – and Cecelia, technically – we’re wizards.”

Mycroft, as expected, remained stoically unresponsive.  James blinked and glanced at him from the corner of his eye, but his expression remained open and interested.  Greg and Molly, meanwhile, shot each other guilty looks before distracting themselves with their drinks.  John looked from one person to another before breathing out a laugh that was half disbelief and half frustration.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” John muttered, just loud enough to be heard.  Cecelia sat up quickly to gape at him while Sherlock crossed his arms with a glare.

“Da!” Cecelia said, her voice scandalized.  “Language!”

“Yes, Da, language,” Sherlock agreed with narrowed eyes.  “Obviously we should have expected that if Mrs. Hudson was aware of our magic, others close to us might be as well.”

“But seriously, you all knew?” John asked the room.  Nearly everyone shifted uncomfortably in their seats.  “Why didn’t anyone say anything?”

“To be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anything about it,” James cut in, turning to Mycroft.  “Why didn’t you tell me, darling?”

Mycroft placed his hand on James’ knee, a genuinely regretful expression on his face.  “I am sorry, James.  I should have, I know, but it simply never came up after I revealed I work for the Ministry.”

James nodded with a soft smile and kissed Mycroft’s cheek in reply.  Sherlock rolled his eyes and turned fully to John, a look of utmost disgust on his face.  Greg, meanwhile, drained the last of his wine and shot Mycroft a look.  “Should have guessed he was part of the wizarding government as well as the Muggle one.  Are you a wizard too?”

As Mycroft shook his head no, John’s head shot up from where he’d been hanging it to stare at Greg.  “Wait…Muggle?  How the hell do you know the word Muggle?”  The room fell quiet as Greg’s mouth gaped open, his face paling.  He looked to Molly, who grabbed his hand reassuringly, before visibly gulping and wincing at John.

“I, um…may know about the wizarding world.  A bit.  More than a lot of people, actually.”

Without looking, John felt around for his chair until he found the arm and sat down on it heavily.  “Right.  So you’re a wizard too?”

“No, no, I would have told you two if I was,” Greg hurriedly explained.  “I’m…well, I’m a Squib.  A dishonoured one, if we’re being completely honest.”

“A Squib, of course,” John huffed, losing the battle with himself to run his hand through his hair.  “So which family are you from?  If you’re dishonoured, it’s got to be one of the ones that think they’re better than everyone else.  I swear to God if you end up being a direct relative of Mary’s…”

“You’re not going to like it, John,” Greg said, his voice steadier than it was when he began.  “I can tell you that much for sure.  Do you really want to know?”  When John simply stared back at him, Greg sighed.  “When I changed my name to Lestrade, it wasn’t that much of a stretch from my original last name.”

“Lestr…no.”  John shot to his feet, acting as though he was about to start pacing.  Instead, he shook his head, muttered, “No,” again, and walked from the room.  They heard his footsteps hurry across the kitchen floor before fading behind the firm snap of the closed bedroom door.  Greg held his head in his hands, Molly worriedly rubbing his back, and Sherlock approached him.

“Are you a from a death eater family?” he asked bluntly.  Greg’s shoulders stiffened at the mention of Voldemort’s henchmen, but he nodded in response.  Sherlock sighed and sat on the arm of the sofa beside him.  “You’ll have to go talk to him.  You’re a Squib; you’re not at fault for who your family is and what they have done.  John will understand.”

“How can he?” Greg asked, pushing himself to his feet to loom over Sherlock.  “You don’t understand, Sherlock, my family is actual shit, the horrible things they’ve done – “  He stopped to swallow, clenching his eyes shut in an attempt to control himself.  “My family has killed his friends and done worse to others.  He has every right to hate me for it.”

Sherlock slowly stood once more and placed a hesitant hand on his shoulder.  “Go talk to him.”

With a sigh, Greg nodded and slowly made his way to the bedroom.  Sherlock stood watching him silently as he went.  Cecelia pushed herself to her feet and came to stand at his side, glancing between Sherlock and Greg with enormous eyes.  Without breaking his gaze, Sherlock knelt to pick her up and hold her close, stroking her back reassuringly.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tightly, her own small sign of reassurance to him.

In the darkened hallway, Greg hesitated before the closed bedroom door.  Straightening his back, he gave it a single sharp rap with his knuckle and waited for a response.  He could hear John pacing on the other side, but as soon as he knocked John’s footsteps came to a halt.  When he heard no other response, Greg knocked again.  “John, please, give me a chance to explain.  You deserve to know the truth, even if you hate me for it.”

Eventually John pulled the door open, not meeting Greg’s eyes as he immediately went to sit on the edge of the bed.  Greg hovered in the doorway, not sure whether he should join him before steeling himself and entering.  He left a large enough space between them so that he had time to duck should John take a swing at him, but he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“What’s your real name?” John asked, steady and straight to the point.  Greg toyed with the cuff of his shirt sleeve and stared straight ahead of him, studying the periodic table on the wall sightlessly.

“Renatus Lestrange,” Greg replied without emotion.  “My brothers are – were, I have no idea if either of them is still alive – Rodolphus and Rabastan.  Fucking ridiculous, all of these antique mouthfuls of names, but it was tradition.  Anyway, they’re awful, all of them, and I’ve hated them my entire life.  I’m sure you know how shit they are to Muggles or even half-bloods – as soon as they realized I didn’t have any magic, I was no better.  They basically just kept me shut away in the house all the time, away from anyone who visited in case they could tell I didn’t have any powers.  God, it was just…horrible.”  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, clenching his fists on his knees.  “When they ignored me, which was most of the time, it was almost okay, but the other times…they were disgusted by me.  It was a bit like I was just another one of the house elves, but they couldn’t boss me around without me fighting back.

“At least they did let me go to Muggle school, so I wasn’t completely useless and I got a chance to get away from that hell house.  The second I turned seventeen, I left, grabbed as much shit of any value I could, packed up my clothes, and just walked away.  I doubt they even cared about what I stole because at least it meant that I was gone.  They probably didn’t even bother looking for me once I left.”

“Greg, I’m so sorry – “

“No, you don’t apologise to me,” Greg interrupted, anger strong in his voice.  “You aren’t the one who ought to be apologising.  You’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and I can’t accept an apology for that, not from you.”

“You deserve an apology regardless, though.  You didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were; no one does.  You got the shit end of the deal and paid for it way too much.”

“I dunno, mate…if I’d done something, tried harder to stop them – “

“No way.”  John shuffled closer to clap him on the shoulder.  “You were born a certain way and should have been valued for that.  You didn’t choose to be born a Squib any more than I chose to be born a wizard.  You should never feel badly for what you are or who you’ve become.”

“What they’ve done – “

“Is their problem, not yours.  Jesus, Greg, you’re a bloody amazing officer and a more than decent friend.  The fact that you’ve turned out so well growing up around all of that is proof of how amazing your character is.”

Greg nodded and attempted to compose himself.  Once he’d found his voice, he finally turned to fully face John.  “I know your parents were killed by a group of death eaters.  Were any of them…”

“None, I promise.  Though I may have dueled with both your brother and his wife at one point.”

 Chuckling, Greg rubbed his face to conceal the tears at the corners of his eyes.  “Did you win?”

“I think I knocked Rodolphus out, but Bellatrix…mate, she could fucking duel.”

“I would’ve loved to see his face when that happened.”  Greg stared down at his lap for a moment before shooting John a frown of indecision.  “Are…they alive?  Rodolphus or…anyone else?”

“Bellatrix isn’t, but I think Rodolphus is in Azkaban.  I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about your other brother.”

“No, that’s fine, it’s…I just needed to know.  I may hate them, but they are still my family.”  Letting out a sigh, Greg offered his hand for John to shake.  “Thank you for listening and understanding, John.  I can’t say how much I appreciate it.”

John took Greg’s hand in both of his.  “We can’t choose our families, Greg.  What they’ve done isn’t your fault and you’ve more than made up for it.”

“That was why I joined the force, actually.  I couldn’t do anything in the wizarding world, but if I became a police officer in the Muggle world, I could at least do something.”  Greg studied John carefully before continuing.  “You know why I chose Gregory as my new name?”  When John shook his head, Greg explained.  “It means watchman.  I saw it and just knew it was supposed to be mine.  I kept Renatus as a middle name because it means reborn, which is what it felt like to basically just start over.  I couldn’t stay Lestrange, it was too difficult, but I found the name Lestrade when I was in uni and thought it was close enough to remind me of where I came from without keeping its legacy.”

“You’re a strong man, Gregory Lestrade.”  Greg grinned weakly at the comment.  “I’m sorry I walked away, it just was too much.  First getting contacted by Hogwarts, then finding out Mrs. Hudson already knew about us, and everyone else…”

“Nah, mate, it’s fine.  Wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.  At least you didn’t hex me out the door.”

A knock on the door frame brought their attention to Sherlock standing there, Cecelia still curled up in his arms.  “Cecelia was wondering if you two were finished with your talk so we could cut into Mrs. Hudson’s cake.  It’s her special chocolate raspberry crème one and she’s growing impatient.”

“Not just me, Papa,” Cecelia piped in.  “Both of us.” 

Sherlock rolled his eyes, but he was smiling.  “Yes, I would like some cake as well.  Are you happy?”

She simply grinned up at him and squirmed until he set her down.  As soon as she was on the ground, she raced into the kitchen, calling behind her for them to follow.  Sherlock looked between Greg and John, concern causing his eyebrows to furrow.  John stood from the bed, pulling Greg with him, and walked over to stand in front of Sherlock.

“Don’t worry, love, it’s fine.  We’re fine.”

Sherlock nodded and looked over John’s shoulder at Greg.  “You’re a Lestrange.”

“Figured that out on your own, did you?” Greg said as way of reply.  Sherlock rolled his eyes and wrapped his arm around John’s waist.

“As long as you two have worked out your little emotional issue, that’s all I care about.  The last thing I need is my partner and my detective inspector caught up in a tiff.”

“Aw, his detective inspector.”  Greg elbowed John’s free side and grinned.  “Not to worry, John’s forgiven me for having a piece of shit family.”

“If I hated everyone who had a shit family, I probably wouldn’t even be with Sherlock.  Did you know what his brother did when he was a kid?”

“Time for cake!” Sherlock declared loudly enough to carry through the kitchen and into the sitting room.  John laughed as he was pulled along, glancing over his shoulder at Greg.  He watched as the previous tension hardening his face finally faded into his normal weathered expression.  They nodded a final time to one another before finally rejoining the rest of the group to celebrate.