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The Mysterious Case of Love, Murder and Magic

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“Are you ready to continue, Mr Potter?”

Sharp green orbs bore relentlessly into the eyes of his interviewer, cold and devoid of any visible emotion.

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

He sounded genuinely curious, but his questioner knew better.  He knew that his subject was a champion in the art of masking his true feelings.  That had been the father’s doing.  And speaking of the father,

“You just found out that your father committed suicide, a few weeks after he was exposed as a…” He cleared his throat awkwardly. Obviously Potter picked up on his hesitation. His crisp voice showed his annoyance more than anything he’d seen before, and yet it was disguised as mild.

“As what, exactly?”

Emerald eyes continued to stare, and the nervous detective swallowed, trying to moisten his dry throat. He wasn’t the one under interrogation here; why was he so much more nervous than his subject?

“As a fraud, Mr Potter.  Richard Brook came forewa-”

“Richard Brook, Detective Inspector, died twenty years before your team of so-called ‘professionals’ created this mess!”

Here came the first unmasked flash of strong emotion, the first flash of anger, to emerge from the sixteen year old so much older than his tender years.  The Detective, the only adult in the room and yet feeling oddly inferior, sighed.

“For one, Mr Potter, we’re well aware, of your opinion of Mr Brook.” His mind added another line: God knows the papers were, too .  “And secondly, may I remind you that I want to find the truth just as much as you.”

“And yet you ignore the ones handing it to you.  Isn’t that logic rather flawed, Lestrade?  I don’t wonder that Dad thought you stupid – you’re proving it to me now!”

 

Lestrade sighed; clearly now was time for a new approach.  

“Harry, how about we start again?”

The boy before him slipped into a languid slump, one arm hanging lower than the other, almost dusting the grey floor.
“Must we?”

Lestrade blinked, wondering briefly if the child purposely emulated his father’s lax standards of respect.  Who was he kidding; of course he was!

“How about we start by you telling me this. How did you meet Sherlock Holmes?”

 

*

 

The day dawned slowly at Privet Drive, yet one resident of number 4 was already awake.  Nightmares plagued this fourteen year old mind, leaving it with little sleep and even less peace.  He lay on his second hand bed, feeling the lumps in the decrepit mattress prod at every bone in his thin body, staring at the yellow stains on the supposedly white ceiling.  He savoured these moments, however unenjoyable they may seem.  The quiet moments, when the only noise was his own quiet breaths and the only movement were his shivers - whether they be from biting cold or biting terror.

 

Today was the first day of the second week of summer, whatever the London weather might say, and the youngest inhabitant of 4 Privet Drive hated it with a burning passion. Why did he hate it?  Why, his name was Harry Potter, the unlucky orphan bequeathed to Vernon and Petunia Dursley, who did all they could to change him.  To ‘fix’ him.  They reckoned the beatings and starvation and isolation could rid him of his freakishness, his differences - the one thing they truly could not stand.  He was extraordinary, and totally unlike anything they knew how to deal with. He was a wizard, one of the most famous wizards to ever live in fact. The Boy-Who-Lived, son of Lily and James Potter.  

 

The last person to see Cedric Diggory alive.  

 

Of course, his relatives didn’t know that.  If they had, he held no delusions on what his fate would have been. They wouldn’t have taken him back, wouldn’t have risked their precious little Duddykins getting hurt.  Or killed.  

He wasn’t actually the killer, not technically.  (The fact that if he had stopped Cedric taking the cup - if he’d noticed that something was wrong - then Cedric would still be alive weighed heavily and permanently upon his mind.)  That title belonged to the recently resurrected Lord Voldemort, a hollow shell that was once a man, who had murdered Harry’s parents, Cedric, and countless others.   

He couldn’t really blame people for not wanting to believe him.

Not one soul believed him.  It was easier for them to lay the blame at his feet, let him once again shoulder the burden that was the greatest mass murderer in the world.  Even Ron and Hermione doubted his innocence.  They didn’t say, but he could tell.  The disbelief shone bright in their eyes, and lay heavy in their voices.  The Minister was denouncing him as crazy at this very moment, and the newspapers had thought him mad for a while now.  He didn’t deny it.  He couldn’t deny it.  No one could live the life he did without losing most of their sanity.  Mass murderers hunting him, friends abandoning him, newspapers abusing him… it was a mess.

 

He groaned as the day broke fully outside of his window.  He knew it wasn’t long now until the shrill voice of his Aunt Petunia (who was not as sweet as her name might suggest) began caterwauling outside the door, yelling for him to make breakfast for the zoo.  Peering desperately at the damaged alarm clock, he wondered if he could make a break for it.  Sure, he’d regret it later, but for now he wanted to be alone, far away from a yelling cousin, demanding uncle and frying pan brandishing aunt.  Decision made, he began to make his plan.  A plan which, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t doomed to total failure because he thought of it.  It was only usually his plans went to hell, thank you very much!  

 

Out of the window would be the quickest option, but that had the downfall of, well, the fall.  His grand escape wouldn’t go well if he was to break his ankles upon landing.  Next option was through the front door.  But that would require passing every bedroom in the house, with a high chance of awakening the troll, so that was no use either.  
Aha!

Today was Saturday! He’d simply offer to go to the Post Office for Aunt Petunia.  Dudley and Vernon were watching the match tonight, so she’d be willing to get him out of the house so that she could make the ridiculous amounts of food it took to satisfy the never satisfied.  

 

It was midday before he had the chance to escape, but his plan came through.  That was why he was sat on the swing in the park, with only his thoughts to accompany him, when a dirty rag was pressed roughly to his nose and mouth.

 

He awoke in a warehouse, his head pounding and wrists aching.  A quick glance told him why - cords wrapped so tight they cut into tender flesh, and in such away that movement was excruciating, blood trickling out slowly and dropping, like the waste from a tap, onto the filthy ground below.  He looked at himself, ignoring the growing stiffness in his neck, and catalogued no less than fourteen new gouges and three new bruises.  The deeper cuts had been crudely dressed - obviously they didn’t want him bleeding out.  Where had the gouges come from?  Catching a whiff of cheap cologne, he was assaulted by a vivid memory.  He had woken briefly before this, and hadn’t been too pleased at his surroundings.  He smirked slightly at the echoing memory of his head smacking against his attacker, but then winced slightly, both at the vivid sound of bones snapping his mind supplied, and the pain a smirk caused.  He supposed he should be more frightened, but he really was’t. Perhaps after being abducted from Hogwarts - the safest place he’d ever known - by Voldemort meant that nothing, nothing in his entire life, could possibly be worse.

 

White noise blared into his ear and he started, emerald eyes darting round the room and checking for anyone entering.  No one.  His eyes continued to fly, before they landed on a screen.  It remained dark for a moment, before the unbearable noise in his ears ceased.  

 

Welcome, Harry.

 

Said boy choked down a gasp.  He wouldn’t show surprise at the text on the screen, he wouldn’t show weakness.

 

Brave one, aren’t you.

 

He should be.  He was a lion.  He’d survived Voldemort, he could survive some small time kidnapper.

 

I need your help.  I want to talk to your Daddy.  We’re playing a game, a game of hide and seek almost.  I want to win, and you’ll put me one up.

 

Harry blinked, before talking.  He was fairly sure that he could be seen, and probably heard too.
“You’ve got me mixed up with someone else.  My parents died years ago.  You’ve made a mistake.”

 

No one’s told you then?  Tut tut.  And they call me immoral.  You don’t even know how you were conceived.

 

Did this man think he was a fool?

“Of course I know.  When a Mummy and a Daddy love each other very much-”

 

Oh Harry, you poor ignorant fool.  You don’t know your parents.

 

“Well, of course not!” He fumed, “They’re dead!”

 

Your mother may have died, I don’t care.  Her partner may have died with her.  I still don’t care.  The man I care about is your real Daddy, who is very much alive.  Speaking of…

 

What?  That was impossible.  James was his dad!  He had to be!  Everyone said how much they looked alike, how much they acted alike.  This had to be a mistake!

 

Right on cue, a phone besides him dialed. It was picked up almost immediately.  A deep baritone voice came through, but Harry didn’t listen to him insisting a painting he didn’t know about was a fake.  He was far more interested in the bright red light shining on his head, and the fact that such a monumental mistake had been made.  Was he going to die here?  On what was probably a case of mistaken identity?

 

Don’t answer yet Harry, else we’ll have to get rid of you, and that would be a shame.  A bit different than my usual style, but you caused a bit of trouble when we tried to strap the bomb on.  It’s in the corner now.  We’ll set it off later if required.

 

Harry kept silent, his trembling breaths the only sound in the room.  He wanted to cry, to scream, but he couldn’t.

“It’s a fake.  That’s why Woodbridge and Cairns were killed.”

 

Don’t talk yet Harry, let’s surprise him.

 

He focussed on breathing, trying to stay calm.

“Oh, come on.  Proving it’s just the detail.  The painting is a fake.  I’ve solved it.  I’ve figured it out.  It’s a fake!  That’s the answer.  That’s why they were killed.”

 

Daddy’s a bit impatient, isn’t he!  But he’s not proved it yet, the naughty boy.  Keep quiet Harry.

 

Harry scowled, this man was not his father!  Really, it was amazing a criminal could make such mistakes and stay out of prison.  But the screen was right about impatience, at least, he could hear the deep calming breath from over the phone.

“Okay, I’ll prove it. Give me time. Will you give me time?”

 

Ok Harry, let’s give him a shock.  Say exactly what I tell you, else we’ll shoot you.

 

He took a steadying breath, trying to ignore the voice in his head that told him that the screen could possibly be right.  It couldn’t be right, but he let his own tremulous voice ring through with the word dictated.

“Daddy?”

He heard the sharp intake of breath of the man over the phone, whilst muffled voices sounded in the background.  

“It’s a kid. Oh God, it’s a kid!”  He assumed that was someone official.

“What did he say?”  He assumed that was someone who listened carefully to the words.

“Daddy.”  That was the quiet voice of…

 

Sherlock Holmes.  My playmate, your Daddy.  Now, you’re going to say this.  Exactly this.

 

He felt his breath hitch.  Clearly Sherlock had sensed some form of truth, else he’d have been confused.  It hadn’t been confusion in his voice, only disbelief.

“Don’t worry Daddy.  I’ll be ok.  I won’t hate you when - when,” He felt his voice crack slightly, and a single hot tear ran down his skin. He swallowed, “When I’m dead.”  

Sherlock’s voice was panicked, as several more panicked voices muttered confusedly in the background.

“No no NO!  Listen very carefully, Harry.  You are not dying today.  I’ll come fetch you myself when we’ve got this mess sorted.”

 

He choked.  It was true.  James wasn’t his father!  How could he be, when this stranger knew his name at the claim he was his son?  He felt his heart and breathing speed up - this meant that something had gone on, something he knew nothing about!  Either he was lied to, he was adopted, or (more likely)... His mother had betrayed his father.

 

Touching sentiment from Daddy there.  Rather shown his hand though, hasn’t he.  Say this, it’ll really get him working.

 

Harry’s voice trembled and a second tear fell.  He stopped thinking of his parents… his mum and her partner.

“Ten...”

 

He could imagine Sherlock’s look of sudden panic, dropping the phone to the side and looking for clues.

The voice he assumed was the official sounded out.

“What did he say?”
“Ten!”

 

Carry on.

 

“Nine.”

 

The low voice of Sherlock Holmes sounded.

“It’s a countdown. He’s giving me time.”

Several expletives sounded, but only one voice sounded remotely calm, though it held a hidden tremor.

“The painting is a fake, but how can I prove it? How? How?”

 

“Eight… Don’t worry Daddy.”

 

Voice trembling on the final word, he tried to think of what had probably happened.  Had James known?  Or had he died trying to protect a child he thought was his own?  He felt sick; would James have even tried to help if he’d known?  He didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to think of the lies and betrayals and the fact that everything he’d known about his parents was a lie! Picturing the scene he could only hear, he imagined a figure rounding on the others, preferring it to the previous image.
“This kid…” Here came a choked mix between laugh and sob, as if the speaker couldn’t quite believe, “My son will die.  Tell me why the painting is a fake.  Tell me!”

 

He best be careful here, he’s about to break the rules!  Carry on.

 

Seven …”

“No, shut up.  Don’t say anything.  It only works if I figure it out.”

 

Phewee, that was close, wasn’t it!

A small sound of relief escaped, and he strained his ears to hear what was going on.  He could hear the pacing of one, probably a man, if the heavy footprints were anything to say.

 

“Must be possible.  Must be staring me in the face.”

Desperate.  He was desperate.  He couldn’t help it.  A rush of warmth engulfed him, despite the situation - he had a dad, and he cared.  He felt sick again.  This man couldn’t be his dad.  Biologically maybe, but really?  No.  He hadn’t been there, hadn’t held off a maniac to save his life.  It was an insult to James to think of Holmes as anything close to his father.  The warmth began to recede, and he felt glad.

 

You seem a bit relaxed, carry on.

 

“Six…”

The warmth was gone now, gone as if it had never existed.

 

“Come on.”  People were beginning to get frustrated now.

“Woodbridge knew, but how?”

 

“Five…”

“It’s speeding up!”

“Sherlock.”

 

Harry felt another tear fall.  He was going to die.  He was going to die.  He was-

“Oh!”

 

“Four…”

 

“John, in the planetarium! You heard it too. Do you know? Do you know the name?”

Clearly this John didn’t, as he heard no reply.

 

“Three…”

 

“What is it?”

There was a laugh, a laugh of pure relief.  Harry felt his heart lift.  Sherlock must have got it!

“This is beautiful!”

 

He heard the footsteps of his father approach the phone, and obeyed the command.

 

“Two…”

 

A furious voice sounded in the background, “Sherlock!”

“The Van Buren Supernova!”

There it was, the answer.

 

Oh, what a shame.  He got it.  Well, I suppose you can say what you want now.  Bye!

 

The screen flashed off and the target disappeared from his forehead.

 

He was ok.

“Please! Is somebody there? He’s left me alone, you got it!”

He heard a relieved sigh over the speaker.

“Y-you took your sweet time about it.”

There was a brief silence over the phone, before the deep laughter of Sherlock sounded through. He heard himself join in, and it took a moment for them to calm down.

“Jokes.  Hysterics.  You’re in shock.”

“So are you.”

What was he doing?  He was tied up in a warehouse, and instead of asking for help he was snarking back at the man who saved him!  Joking with the man Lily had betrayed James for!  He was definitely in shock.

 

Voices in the background started again. “Go find out where he is and then text me.  I’m coming with you.”

There was silence except for footsteps, but only for a moment.

“The Van Buren Supernova, so-called.  Exploding star, only appeared in the sky in

1858.”

“So how could it have been painted in the 1640s?”

“That was John, Harry, in case you’re wondering.  Dr John Watson, slightly less idiotic than the general population.”

 

Laughing bemusedly - how were they holding a conversation like this? How were they ignoring the fact that Sherlock was his biological father? - he decided to play along with the facade of normality.
“Pleased to meet… hear you, Dr Watson.  Can you fix bleeding wrists?  And other cuts?  And bruises?”

“I’ll... I’ll give you a checkup when we find you.”

Poor John.  Harry couldn’t help but pity the man, he sounded so confused.  A whispered conversation was going on in the background, an argument.  He couldn’t hear it, he only caught the words ‘father’, ‘shock’, ‘Sherlock’ and ‘fine’.  A toneless voice came through the speaker.

“So,”  There was the sound of a throat being cleared.  Harry didn't blame him for stalling.  It wasn't exactly every day that father and son met via kidnapping.  He didn’t want to discuss it either.  He was fairly sure he preferred the lie to this reality.  His inheritances were truly awful - a crazy murderer off his parents, and a kidnapping off of Holmes - but he still preferred the lie.  Mercifully, he heard someone yelling in the background, before Sherlock could say anything.

“We've found him!”

“Well Harry, we'll continue this when we've picked you up.  John insists I ‘clear the air’.  Apparently that's what people do.”

Harry could practically hear the sneer, but also genuine confusion.  He stayed silent, settling in to wait.

 

Twenty minutes later, he could hear the door of the warehouse creak open.

“Bomb in the corner, disarmed but probably should still watch for that!” He yelled out.  He wasn’t too keen on being blown to smithereens.

“Bloody hell.  Donavon, get the bomb squad on!”

 

A small team of officers entered first, one (he assumed Donavon) dialing on her phone.

“No need Lestrade, called them on the way here.  They should be here soon.”

Green eyes flew to the owner of the voice, the voice he recognised from the phone, as Donovan’s face turned sour.

 

The first thing he noticed of Sherlock Holmes was his height.  Merlin, he was incredibly tall.  He gave the impression, however, of a gangly colt - in possession of height and long limbs that were easily trip hazards.  But perhaps that was because he had the build of a stick insect.  Judging by the sure footed steps taken, it was probably the stick insect resemblance.  He wore a long blue trench coat and scarf - much too thick for the weather.  Both articles, in fact, were shed soon after he entered, placed carefully on a table.  Beneath those, he was clad in what looked like a silk shirt in purple, with black trousers.  There was a frown on his pink lips, framed by high cheekbones and a crease between his ice blue eyes.  Tousled brown hair sat upon his head, looking like the man had repeatedly ran his spidery hands through it.

 

Stood next to Sherlock was a man, whom he assumed to be Doctor Watson.  Judging by the close proximity of him to the tall man, they held a close companionship, though the Doctor was older.  He seemed far more ordinary than Sherlock too, wearing jeans, t shirt and much more sensible jacket than the trench coat. He was shorter too, shorter than average perhaps (though most likely everyone appeared shorter than average next to the giraffe-esque height of Holmes.)  Moving his hand, a medical bag was clearly seen, and Harry relaxed slightly at the look of kindly concern in his eyes.  

 

The odd pair approached him together as the others hung back.  There was a brief flash of fury in the younger man’s eyes as their gazes met, quickly hidden behind a porcelain mask of apathy and ennui.  The Doctor crouched in front of him.

“My name is John, John Watson.  Can you tell me where it hurts?”

“My wrists, mostly.  The binds are tight… they had to restrain me.”

He spotted Sherlock’s mouth pull up at the corners before he ducked behind the chair to work at removing the binds.  It was almost a look of… pride?  Was he happy that Harry had been a pain?  He ignored it, concentrating on the binds moving around his wrists.  It took a moment before he felt them loosen, and he held them up for examination.  He watched John bustle around, as Sherlock began to talk, pointing to a selection of people.

“Sally Donovan, Anderson - he’s an idiot - Graham Lestr-”

“Greg!”

“Greg Lestrade, slightly more competent than most.  John Watson, more competent than anyone in the force.”

 

Sherlock grinned at him, but Harry kept his face stony.  Confusion briefly marred the face of the tall man, but he carried on talking regardless.

“Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective.  We’ll just call your mother and get this done with.”

Green eyes flashed darkly towards the icy blue ones that looked down to him.  A blink, and then shock once again filled the pale face.  His mouth formed a silent ‘oh’ of surprise and he shifted his weight till he leaned backwards.  

 

Hadn’t he known?

 

“How could you not know!?”

The question came out far harder, far more angrily than he meant it to.  A porcelain mask had built itself onto the face of the Detective.  Officers had turned to look, and John Watson had paused his medical examination to check on his friend.

“I- I don’t know.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  

Now people were really staring.  Sherlock Holmes did not stutter .  Sherlock Holmes did not

apologise.  Sherlock Holmes did not speak in a voice choked with… sentiment, or look upon a face with a look of pure, real sorrow and regret.  

 

Sherlock must have felt eyes upon him, for he cleared his throat and when he spoke again his tone was far more normal.

“I don’t know why I wasn’t informed of Lily’s passing, nor why I failed to deduce it when I saw you.”  

Harry flinched slightly at the piercing look he was subject to.

“I suppose… James received the same fate.”

Bristling at the resentment expressed in a name he treasured so, Harry had to retaliate.  His voice was glacial, more hostile than he knew it was capable of being.

“My Father died buying my Mum time to save my life.  He gave his life to try and save us, which begs the question; what on earth did Mum see in you?

“Is this really the time to discuss this?  Perhaps after John’s checked your wrists?”

 

Harry was vaguely aware of the silence that encompassed him and Sherlock.  He was vaguely aware of the look the Detective sent to Doctor, a look that clearly said ‘Help me!’  He was vaguely aware of the fact that, really, Sherlock had a point.  Now wasn’t exactly the time to discuss, not with the police all around.  Perhaps he should have waited for his emotions to calm, for his senses to clear.  But as the blood roared in his ears, he knew that he wasn’t waiting.

 

“No, actually, I think now is a great time to discuss.  Seeing how you left me for fifteen years and will probably leave me again once you can drop me home, now is a great time to discuss!”

“I didn’t choose to leave you.”

He wasn’t sure why, but the calm, sangfroid  voice of the man he faced infuriated him.

“Of course you didn’t,” he scoffed. “This is the part where you declare you never wanted to leave and that Lily picked James so you only left to avoid ruining her life further, and I run into your arms declaring that my life will be fine now because I have a parent again.”

“Perhaps you should sit down a moment.”

He hadn’t noticed he was standing.

“Don’t act concerned, answer the bloody question: what did mum see in you?”

 

Silence.

 

He felt his anger dissipate slightly.  Could Sherlock not see a single reason?  No, this was not the time to feel sorry for him.  He screwed up his rage tightly, holding onto to it for all he was worth.

“Tell me!”

A hurt look fluttered onto the pallid, pointed face of the man who stood admirably beneath a barrage of irritability, before it became blank.

“She saw a man to whom she was attracted, who was clearly attracted to her, and could hold a decent enough conversation.  Therefore, the logical choice for a... companion whilst her husband was away.”

 

John closed his eyes.  Bit not good.  This whole thing was a bit not good.  In front of the force too… he was going to have to hide the gun again.  Mrs Hudson was already upping the rent about the wall, they didn’t need Sherlock to exacerbate the issue with more holes.

 

The-Boy-Who-Lived looked at the Detective, disbelief in his eyes.  The Detective threw up his arms and turned to face his faithful blogger, desperate.

“Help me!”

“I can’t!”

He tried again, his voice lowering and becoming more threatening (though everyone who knew the pair - most of all Sherlock - knew he’d never bring himself to do something to hurt his blogger).  John barely reacted,

“I won’t, Sherlock.  Your mess, not mine.”

 

An aggravated sigh, before he made an attempt to salvage it alone.

“Clearly that wasn’t the best way to describe it.”

“Obviously not.”

 

Lestrade tried not to let his draw drop at the resemblance.  Sally was already planning her resignation speech - she didn’t think she could cope with a baby freak running around London.

 

“Am I given a retry?”

“No.”

“Alright.  Time to take you home then.”

“I guess so.”

 

Harry travelled in the police car.  Sherlock followed in a cab with John.  Both were silent passengers, receiving concerned glances from their equally mute companions.

 

Upon arrival, Lestrade and Sherlock took the ex-hostage up to the door, the gangly Detective knocking on the door.

Out came a red faced man, with a mustache that fairly bristled with his emotions.  Right now it bristled in some form of smug anger, observing his nephew stood with an officer.

“Knew he was no good, just like his parents.  What’s he done?  Criminal damage?  Theft?  Assault?”

“On the contrary, Mr Dursley, your nephew has just been released from the hands of a kidnapper.”

That was Sherlock’s low voice, and he didn’t give Vernon a chance to reply before he continued.

“In fact, I don’t think I’ll be returning Harry to you.  I’m not entirely convinced you’re a fit guardian.”

Dursley was turning red with every word.

“What the devil are you talking about?”

“You’re in clothes of no poor quality, perfect fit despite your frankly dangerously large frame.  Perfect teeth, though a frankly awful smile.  Your house is well kept and expensive.  Clearly you have the money for any necessities, yet your nephew hasn’t even got a well fitting pair of jeans.  The bags under Harry’s eyes tell me he gets very little sleep.  Whether that’s down to you working him into the night, the poor bed you provide or the-”

He cut himself off, turning to mutter something in the good Doctors ear.  John shook his head, looking resigned (he had long ago realised he would spend a good deal of his existence filling in the gaps of his flatmate’s fractured knowledge of social customs and common decency.)

 

Sherlock made a note of his new knowledge (announcing in front of strangers that someone suffered from nightmares was a bit not good) and continued his torrent of deductions.

“Moving on, you clearly have the resources to feed everyone in your household easily enough, yet Harry exhibits signs of a distinct lack of food in his system.  Do I need to continue?”

 

Throughout the downpour of criticisms, Vernon’s face had taken on the remarkable qualities of a chameleon.  Now though, it had decided on a very particular shade of puce, one exhibited only when the person was in a rather foul mood.  Acting on an instinct - a protective instinct he only now knew he possessed and which infuriated him because it proved what he had always tried to deny, he did care  - the world’s only Consulting Detective unobtrusively moved himself to shield both the son who had rejected him and the blogger who refused to abandon him.  Lestrade noticed the movement and realised with a jolt that Sherlock fully expected some form of risk.  Harry was jerked from his place by a quick tug on his sleeve by the Detective Inspector, as Vernon began the attack Sherlock had anticipated.

“THERE IS NOT A CHANCE IN HELL I’M TAKING ABUSE FROM A COUPLE OF.... FROM A COUPLE OF-”

“It would be wise, Mr Dursley, to end your sentence there.  Neither myself or my companion Captain Watson are gay, but I will not hesitate to deal with you in the appropriate manner if I hear such terms as you were preparing to use within my presence.”

Sherlock’s voice was frigid, colder than any of the people around it had heard it be before.  Sure, they’d seen him angry, but never livid.  Never so furious that his very eyes clouded and hardened with a poisoned mist of rage.  Never so furious that his lips disappeared into pale lines in an effort to restrain the deductions that came so effortlessly to mind and could so easily tear the man to a trembling mass on the cold hard floor.

 

Harry watched the Detective heave in a breath, as he stood by Lestrade.  He’d never seen anyone stand up to his uncle like that… perhaps that was why Vernon seemed so pale.  John glared at the walrus before him, his posture straighter than before.  
“Mr Dursley?”  

He spoke calmly, but it was a terrifying calm.  The calm before the storm.  Sherlock gently removed something from his friend’s back pocket, placing it in his own.  A weapon?  (Harry did notice the good Doctor’s fist clenching and unclenching.)

 

Vernon nodded tightly upon hearing his name.  John continued.

“My name, Mr Dursley, is Captain John Watson of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers .  I have met men twice the person you are.  And, Mr Dursley, many of those men were gay.  I would thank you to readjust your view hastily.”

Pale as a sheet, Vernon opened his mouth to retaliate.  The deductive genius sensed quickly that John would not endure much abuse without cracking - the main reason he had removed the gun.  (He wasn’t entirely sure how legal it was, and if John was to punch the man - not that anyone would complain - it probably wouldn’t go down well if found on his person.)  He decided to cut in before they came to blows, it’d probably be easier.

 

“I have little patience for idiots, Dursley.  Come along John.  Harry, you can stay with us until you want to move or…” He paused briefly, but covered it quickly, “You could stay permanently.  Lestrade, do let me know if there are any updates.”  The detective began to walk away, pulling his blue coat tightly to his thin frame, flipping up the collar.  The other two followed (Harry hesitating slightly before deciding that, actually, nothing could be worse than Vernon), pausing only when the Detective turned over his shoulder to give his closing statement.

“And Dursley?  You should probably ask Petunia about the yoga instructor at Total Fitness.”  He flashed a cold smile, before striding down the path to catch the oncoming taxi.

 

*

 

Harry smiled slightly at the memory before hiding all emotions behind a blank mask, stowing his heart behind stone walls, rather than on his sleeve.  He heard Lestrade’s small sigh, and felt his resentment settle for a brief moment.  He knew Lestrade had only been doing his job, was only doing his job now.  And he clearly missed his father, seeing as how any resemblance he showed to his father elicited a sorrowful sigh.  But Harry couldn’t help but harbour a deep burning anger, and the police were the ones to blame.  His father was gone.  Gone!  Like almost every other adult in his life, he’d left.

 

He watched Lestrade fidget, answering the question before it was asked.

“Yes, Detective Inspector, all of Dad’s deductions seemed real.  Were real.  I’d very much like to return home now, John’s waiting for me.”

 

John hadn’t been the same since the… the fall.  Harry, he’d lost his father, but at least he hadn’t watched.  John… he’d lost his best friend, heard the shaking voice of a man usually so composed, watched the tumbling body of the fallen detective.  Seen the mangled leftovers still dripping blood from the fresh wounds, leaving spotted stains on his always pristine suit.  Harry couldn’t imagine seeing that, that’s why he didn’t leave John alone for too long.  It wasn’t safe to leave a broken mind to it’s own devices.

 

He left the room with his head high and back straight, making himself as dignified and superior as he could.  Mycroft had taught him that; act like you’re the best person in the room, soon everyone else will believe you too.

He passed a room containing Anderson and another Officer and grinned slightly at the raised voices he could.  After the fall, the poor idiotic forensics specialist got guilty, decided to trawl through crimes and the like, searching for Sherlock, who (obviously) had to have faked his death.  Clearly Anderson had decided to quit, pursue his new passion full time.  

 

As he walked through the station, he soon came across a face he really didn’t want to see.

“Sally.”

“Harry.”
Sally Donovan, the beginner of the end.  She had begun the investigation into Sherlock Holmes, given Moriarty the opening he needed to invade the minds of everyone but the closest believers of the Consulting Detective, the ones who knew the truth.  He hadn’t forgiven her either.  He didn’t think he ever would.

“You been with Lestrade then?”

He sneered, the upper corner of his chapped lips curling upwards.

“Don’t ask questions you know the answer to Sally.  I don’t ask you obvious questions.  For example, I wouldn’t ask you who’ve you got your claws into this time, when I can tell it was the janitor.”  He smirked, “From the state of your knees and the distinctive stench of that awful disinfectant they’ve got, you’ve either been doing the cleaning or doing the cleaner.”

He looked her over again, peering at her dishevelled clothes and smudged red lipstick, his sneer growing more and more prominent as she coloured dramatically, finally bursting in her anger, “Why you little-”

“And my question is answered.  Now, if you’ll excuse me,”  He swept past her, putting his hands in the back pockets of his slightly rumpled trousers, “I need to get home.”


Yes, Uncle Mycroft may have taught him how to intimidate them, but it was Dad who taught him how to ruin them.

Chapter Text

Harry glanced round the corner, breathing quick and laboured from the chase.  Clad in a black, warm jumper with the pockets stuffed with supplies for the job ahead.  He’d fix the mess the police had made, he’d change the people’s minds himself.  He would repair the damage, make sure his father’s legacy was one of real justice and inspiration, not fake accusations and an example of a cautionary tale.  His hood fell over his head, only two emerald lamps shining out from under, glowing with exhilaration.  Where was he now?  Ah, St Barts, the scene of the fall.  Perfect.  Oh yes, this was perfect.

 

He crept round to the front, choosing the place closest to where it had happened.  He could imagine it, a flashing ambulance delivering paramedics to late, a crowd already forming around the crumpled form swamped in blue trench coat.  And now, here he was, ready to add his own piece to the tableau of his mind.  He shook the can clutched in his hand, the same can Sherlock had used to paint his masterpiece (Mr Smiley upon the wall) and that the gang had reportedly used to paint symbols on the portraits in The Blind Banker .  The noise of the aerosol relaxed him, and he grinned.  He understood why people got a rush from this, but he wouldn’t make a habit.  This was business, strictly business.

He let his mind wander as he slunk to a new position on the building to repeat his task, the yellow paint blinding him, the brightest thing in the night, save for the stars in the sky.  He looked up, staring at them, hating them for cursing him so.  It was nice to blame someone for the pain that blighted his life.  And the stars looked back at him, watching him complete another task.

 

*

 

Harry hadn’t actually been to the flat yet, he’d tagged along with Sherlock as he flew back to the Yard, having received an urgent text on the way there.  John had declined to come, telling Sherlock that:

“Someone should really have a look at Mycroft’s case - it’s a matter of national security!”

Sherlock had scoffed, and mentioned something about the adorable sense of duty the poor toy soldier had.  The Doctor hadn’t seemed too upset, he’d borne it all with an eye roll and a declaration that he was an ‘utter bastard’’, though this was hastily apologised for and covered with awkward clearing of the throat - clearly John didn’t wish to swear in front of a child.

 

Soon they were sat in an office, Lestrade and the Miss Wenceslas staring grimly at each other, the Consulting Detective resting his chin lightly on praying hands, the boy wizard sat awkwardly on the outside of the strange group.

 

Sherlock broke the oppressive silence first, his quiet, baritone voice reverberating in the ears of the others.

“You know, it’s interesting. Bohemian stationery, an assassin named after a Prague legend, and you, Miss Wenceslas.” Piercing blue eyes swept over the woman in question, before returning to look deep into the lagoons of her eyes. “This whole case has a distinctly Czech feeling about it. Is that where this leads?”

There was no reply, but she broke eye contact, becoming incredibly interested in the swirled pattern of dust her heeled shoes had painted upon the floor.

“What are we looking at, Inspector?”

“Well, um…” He hesitated, clearly not expected to be put on the spot. Harry could see the thoughts flash upon his face before disappearing into the obisque of his mind.  
“Criminal conspiracy, fraud, accessory after the fact at the very least.  Kidnapping...” He decided, finally.  He added,  “The murder of the old woman, all the people in the flats…”

 

He was cut off from the list by the panicked voice of Wenceslas.  Harry caught the smirk of the Consultant in the corner of his eye, and realised that Sherlock had known exactly how to get the information out of her.

“I didn’t know anything about that!  All those things!  Please believe me.”  She was staring at Lestrade, ignoring all others as if they were unimportant, irrelevant, non-existent.  Sherlock, though, was certainly aware of the suspect and all of her movements, all of her thoughts.  He nodded to the Detective Inspector, indicating that she was telling the truth. Miss Wenceslas didn’t see the miniscule movement, continuing to talk.

“I just wanted my share – the thirty million.”

Harry’s mind boggled slightly at the amount.  Thirty million?  He could see why she would risk everything on the chance.  Money was a powerful motivator, almost as powerful as love in this case.

 

“I found a little old man in Argentina.”  And here, of course, was the confession.  “Genius.  I mean, really: brushwork immaculate, could fool anyone.”

Breaking through the words came Sherlock’s sarcastic noise of agreement, and a brief look was spared to fly his way.

“Well, nearly anyone.  But I didn’t know how to go about convincing the world the picture was genuine.  It was just an idea – a spark which he blew into a flame.”

This caught the dark haired detective’s ears, his sharp voice cutting through the air like a knife, asking for identity.  A person.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Lestrade’s cynical laugh echoed, and Harry almost followed.  What fool would work with a man they didn’t even know the name of?

“It’s true!”  She was desperate to be believed now, desperate to have the more serious charges dropped.  “I mean, it took a long time, but eventually I was put in touch with people... his people.”

Harry looked around.  Lestrade still looked sceptical, but Sherlock’s eyes had focussed like a sniper’s laser, aiming straight for her.  

“Well, there was never any real contact; just messages... whispers.”

Harry watched Sherlock carefully.  He was the master detective, of course Harry would watch him most.  It was certainly nothing to do with… anything else.  The master detective in question seemed the same as ever, but the spark of interest in his eyes had been fanned into a roaring, burning blue flame.  It was slightly manic, slightly scary, mostly exciting.  He was leaning forward, his face close enough that the suspect would be able to see the glint in his eyes every time she answered with something interesting.

 

“And did those whispers have a name?”

Miss Wenceslas quailed slightly under the intensity of the gaze, looking first to Lestrade and then to Harry before she finally gave her answer.

“Moriarty.”

 

Reactions to the name varied around the room.  Miss Wenceslas, she looked afraid, terrified of the name she had divulged.  Harry, he was clueless, he’d never heard the name before.  Lestrade had only read the name once, on a certain blog entry that Sherlock despised.  And Sherlock, he was the most interesting case.  At the name he had slumped slowly into his chair, eyes reflecting a place far from where they were.  Now, he raised his hands in a prayer position, resting them against his lips.  The three others watched him, watched his cobalt eyes dart this way and that, following thoughts and memories only visible to him.  And then, without warning, the thoughts ceased, his cupid bow lips spreading to show his teeth in a wide grin.

“Sherlock, who is Moriarty, exactly?”

A startled look - he’d been forgotten, not a surprise - before an answer.

“A mystery, Harry.  Something new!  Something that is decidedly not boring!”  The detective bounced to his feet, grabbing his scarf.  Lestrade, always more in touch than Sherlock with the mere mortals, added in his own tuppence.

“Look on John’s blog, he’s mentioned in a Study in Pink, he’s Sherlock’s... fan .”

“A Study in Pink?”

In came the officer Harry knew as Sally Donovan, voicing the question in an incredulous fashion.

“I thought Freak had decreed it must never be mentioned again.”  Her lips quirked into a cruel smirk, “Something about the Solar System remaining inconsequential, no matter who thought otherwise?”

Harry’s jaw dropped, “Do you not know about the Solar System?”

“Oh, for God’s sake!  What does it matter to me?” Sherlock asked with a small pout and long-suffering, annoyed voice. “I don’t care if the Earth goes round the Sun, the Moon, or round the garden like a teddy bear.  It doesn’t affect the work to know that the Earth behaves with the Sun as Mycroft with cakes, therefore, I don’t care.

 

With a small huff, the Detective flounced out of the door, leaving the boy wizard to chase after him.

 

*

 

Harry smiled, both at the memory and his excellent (if he did say so himself) handiwork. It smiled at him, thanking him for his public service.  Harry knew he’d be pleased, glad the name Sherlock Holmes would be unsullied by the time he was finished in his mission.  One flash later, and he had a picture of his masterpiece stored on his phone.  It was time to go.

He wandered away from the scene, stuffing his paint stained hands deep in his pockets, walking to meet his contact.

“Any change sir?”

A female voice broke the silence of the night, and Harry’s white teeth were visible in his smile.

“But of course, my dear.  Dad always said to look out for you.”

He pulled up the photo on his screen, showing it to her.  A twenty exchanged hand and he walked on, giving a parting glance and final piece of advice.

“Spread the word, you know what to do.  If it’s done right, there’s another tenner in it for anyone I find.” And then he ran, laughing with shadows and racing with the breeze, the soundtrack to the night his own footsteps and blaring police sirens.

 

The next morning, a day that dawned bright with a cold sun, the remaining residents of 221b (who stayed only as Harry had refused to leave the old domain of his father) were sat together, chatting over cups of tea that had long since gone cold.  Harry was simply glad for the company, not quite willing to be left alone with his traitorous mind.  Ever since the Department of Mysteries - even though it finally revealed Voldemort to be alive and cleared his name - Sirius’ gaunt, accusing face had haunted his mind almost as well as Sherlock’s pale and miserable one did.

“...I reckon you’d like her, she’s been a good friend. I should probably introduce you at some point.”

Harry looked interested for a moment.

“Who’s this?  Maria?”

“Mary.”  There was a sad ghost of a smile on John’s lips, proving he hadn’t quite forgotten his flatmate - certainly not his habit of forgetting the names of the good Doctor’s long line of partners and friends.

“Your planning on dating her then.” Emerald eyes flicked twice over the small stature of the man before him, before a smile broke free. “I wish you luck at dinner tonight.”

“How…? In fact, don’t bother.”

The wizard in training laughed slightly.  He was his father’s son, and it had been rather clear that John was planning a date tonight, what with the newly polished shoes and the lingering scent of the cologne he only wore for special occasions.  Only John didn’t have a girlfriend, so  he was obviously planning to ask the special lady tonight.  The only woman John had mentioned was Mary, so there was the answer.  Simple, really.  He wondered if Sherlock would have approved - both of his deductions and John’s new girl.  Mrs Hudson - who certainly wasn’t the Housekeeper, Dears - came in with biscuits and tea, ready to watch crap telly with John, a ritual followed on the same evening each week.  As the droning voice of the narrator filled his ears, Harry escaped to his thoughts, focusing on memories to thwart the onslaught of screams that echoed in his mind even now - Hermione’s and Luna’s and Ginny’s and so many more mingling together - and to block the face of his godfather, dead because of his folly.

 

*

 

“Come on Harry!”

With a swish of the long navy trench coat he was off again, walking with hopelessly long strides that the following boy could only dream of matching.  This seemed to occur to the sociopathic genius, who finally slowed, waiting for his estranged son to match his position.  The tracks stretched out before them, air filled with the bustle and noise of workers.  But workers held no interest for Sherlock Holmes, which meant they simply passed without the courtesy of even a second glance, the fleeting impressions of their faces blurring into one in Harry’s memory.

“Mycroft gave me this case, amazingly it’s at least a seven.”

“So why’d you send John alone?”

A look fell upon him, a perfect path of vision from cold blue eyes trailing down hawk-like nose before landing upon his insignificant figure.

“Mycroft gave it me.” He said finally, as if the simple sentence should have cleared it all up.  It didn’t, and with a sigh he continued.  “I’ve been following, of course, in secret.  Couldn’t let my dear brother discover I was working one of his cases - he might expect me to take the boring ones.”

“Is it really that important?”

A small huff.  “Perhaps.  Obviously, there’s Mycroft and John worrying about foreign spies getting ahold of it, but I reckon that to someone else it’s even more important than that.”

“Oh?”  Harry tried to remain aloof and cold, but the burning flame of his curiosity melted the ice he had intended to coat his words.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that Moriarty’s game is to distract me.”

“Game?” He questioned, incredulity colouring his words, shocked anyone could consider blowing up people and buildings, keeping hostages and leaving corpses, a game.

 

He didn’t receive an answer, truly he hadn’t expected one.  They had reached the crouched figure of John Watson, who was muttering quietly to himself.

“ Right, so, uh, Andrew West got on the train somewhere – or did he?”  Sudden uncertainty flashed through the amateur's voice.  “There’s no ticket on the body. Then how did he end up here?”

There was an approving nod from the silent Detective, who studied every move of the Doctor, almost as if he was the case.  The faithful blogger had fallen silent, his gaze moving up and down the tracks.  They waited a few moments, before Sherlock grew impatient, calling out from behind, though he still sounded pleased.

 

“Points.”

“Yes!”  The voice of the jumper clad man sounded, and as he sprung to his feet to face them (with surprising speed for a man who had once possessed a psychosomatic limp), Harry realised that John really hadn’t noticed them.  He’d been sure that he’d have at least felt the two pairs of eyes bearing into his back.

An orotund voice sounded out, tinged with both amusement and pleasure.

“Knew you’d get there eventually, you do seem to be marginally improving.  West wasn’t killed here, that’s why there’s so little blood.”

“How long have you been following me?”  There was no annoyance in the tone, Harry noted.  Was he good at hiding it?  Or was he simply used to being followed.  Did he expect Sherlock to leave him out of the loop?

“Since the start.”  Came the confession, not an ounce of regret to be traced.  “You don’t think I’d give up one a case like this just to spite my brother, do you?”

He’d begun to walk away.

“Come on.  Got a bit of burglary to do.”

 

And then he was gone, leaving the two mere mortals who tagged along to stare blankly at each other, the connection of mutual sympathy and confusion binding them together.

“Did he just say…?” Began the newcomer.

“Burglary.”  Came the breathless voice of the old timer, veteran both of war and Sherlock’s London battlefield.  With a shake of his head and bemused laugh, the blond man began to walk, motioning that Harry should follow.

“Can’t let him go alone,” came the explanation, “He’ll get himself hurt.  Strictly speaking, I really shouldn’t be letting you come, but Mrs Hudson’s out, and Sherlock wouldn’t be pleased if I took you home anyway...”  There was a pause as John wrestled with his conscious, “Just… don’t get hit by anything.  Rocks, bullets, bombs… Just be careful.”

And with that, they ran to catch the crazy man who hatched the plan.

 

It didn’t take long for the trio to be reunited, walking down the street to their target.

“The missile defence plans haven’t left the country.”  Sherlock stated, his voice oozing confidence with every syllable.  “Mycroft’s people would have heard about it.  Despite what people think, we do still have a secret service, despite how laughably obvious they are.”

“Yeah,”  John added, much less confident than his younger but towering companion, “I’ve met them.”

Sherlock continued, oblivious to an comment, or perhaps simply not deeming it an important enough contribution to warrant further discussion.

“Which means whoever stole the memory stick can’t sell it or doesn’t know what to do with it.  And with plans like that, my money’s on the latter.”  He paused, walking for a few moments silently before declaring their arrival.

 

Leading them down the drive of a quaint maisonette, Holmes trotted up the steps of the side of the building.  21A, announced the door.  Harry and John hung back, redundant at this moment in time, watching the Consulting Detective play with his lost potential - that of a master criminal.

John’s urgent doubts on the emptiness of the building were brushed aside like irritating gnats, and the door soon bent to the will of a young man and his wire, opening with a soft click.

“Jesus...” whispered John softly.

“Merlin…” whispered Harry, almost silently.  No one heard him, so he avoided the questioning looks he knew would come if he neglected to guard his tongue better.

 

“Where are we?”

Sherlock, who had moved further along, thoroughly enjoying the chance to indulge in some of his more questionable urges, turned round with a grin.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t I say?  Joe Harrison’s flat.”

Harry decided now was a good time to remind people of his continued existence, and hopefully he would receive a filling in.

“Joe…?”

“Brother of West’s fiance.”

Apparently he wouldn’t receive an explanation.  Sherlock seemed satisfied to be looking at the sight through the window, and John seemed happy to simply stand there, an accessory to make the Detective look good (and occasionally fill a certain person in on social customs).

 

Sherlock had begun to speak again, the sound of his voice silencing any words and stilling any thoughts that had been in the room previously.

“He stole the memory stick; killed his prospective brother-in-law.”

He had dropped to his knees, managing to remain dignified whilst crowding all his limbs in, peering at the edge of a window sill with a pocket magnifier.  In a few moments the others had joined him, two extra heads over his bony shoulders, all eyes on the tiny spots of crimson on otherwise pristine paint.

“Why did he do it?” Asked Harry, having gathered enough to know that there had been a theft and murder, something the Detective seemed to enjoy far too much.

 

All three straightened as the front door was unlocked, Harry jumping in shock, John with military precision, Sherlock with dignified collectiveness, as if it was part of his plan.  Perhaps it was.

“Let’s ask him.”

 

They crept to the landing, silent in their mission to keep their target from noticing his home had been infiltrated.  John had reached to the back of his blue jeans, and Harry caught sight of a pistol’s handle, though neither he or Sherlock commented on it (or it’s legality).  As the three stepped onto the landing, their steps in perfect sync with racing hearts, Joe was leaning his bike against the wall.  At the sight of them, he raised it, aiming so it would take out both Harry and John.  John’s right hand was raised in an instant, pointing his weapon so it would incapacitate, but not kill.  Sherlock, he had swept Harry out of the line of fire, his face a picture of apocalyptic anger, without even twitching his lips.  It was his eyes that were furious, two cyan daggers stabbing through porcelain mask.

“Don’t.”  Came the stern voice of John.

The bike was raised, but John shook his head, repeating the order.  Flashing a glance between the gun and Sherlock, Joe sighed, frustrated and afraid.  They went through to the living room, and Harry felt the golden flame of happiness born from his father’s defense spark deep in stomach, flickering like a wax candle.

 

Not long later, the suspect was sat on the sofa, the Baker Street boys standing nearby.  Harry had been placed on a dining room chair, with instructions to ‘leave this to me and John, observe and learn.’

“It wasn’t meant to…”

Sherlock looked briefly away, exasperated, perhaps, by the stupidity in the room.

“God,” a shaking palm rubbed over his face. “What’s Lucy gonna say? Jesus…”

“Why did you kill him?”  Dear John Watson, so much more comforting, so much more likely to elicit a response.

“It was an accident.”

Sherlock gave a rather undignified laugh, though privately Harry agreed. What were the odds of murder after theft being an accident?

“I swear it was.” Desperate.

“But stealing the plans for the missile defence system wasn’t an accident, was it.”  This was no question, it was a sternly worded statement from Sherlock, who perhaps did understand the gravity of the situation.

 

“I started dealing drugs.  I mean, the bike thing’s a great cover, right?  I dunno - I dunno how it started, I just got out of my depth.  I owed people thousands, serious people.  Then at Westie’s engagement, he starts talking about his job.”

Harry looked at Sherlock, who’s alert eyes seemed to have glazed over.  He could tell what he was doing; his mind was supplying with the images to match the confession, giving him the final story.

 

There stood Joe and Westie, the normally careful Westie, drinking at a bar.  A stag-do.  The ridiculously drunk Westie showing off his job, the memory stick, waving it around as if it was a fan, oblivious to Joe’s greedy eyes following its path, realising how rich it could make him.

Joe, pretending to help the plastered Westie into his jacket, a guise to slip the memory stick away.

 

A few days later, the furious Westie confronting Joe, knowing exactly what he had done. An argument that escalated into a scuffle.  A scuffle that escalated into a death, Westie tumbling down the stairs from Joe’s aggravated shove, landing heavily at the bottom.

 

A prone body lying in the living room, with an anguished killer pacing beside it.  The train’s squealing brakes audible outside, and the light of an idea glinting in regretful eyes.  A body now on the roof, the cold wind biting both the corpse and the man who made it, as the dead man was discourteously dragged over the roof and lay to rest upon the curved roof of the train....

 

“Carrying Andrew West way away from here.  His body would have gone on for ages if the train hadn’t met a stretch of track that curved.”  Sherlock’s voice broke through, splitting any mind’s reenactment of the screen rudely in two.

“And points.”

“Exactly.”  Sherlock gave a slight grin to the small man beside him, before readjusting his face to glare at Joe.  He didn’t like him - how dare he threaten Sherlock’s Blogger and Sherlock’s son, at the same time!

 

“D’you still have it then?  The memory stick?”

An affirmative nod to the Doctor.

“Fetch it for me - if you wouldn’t mind.”

A sigh at the Detective’s falsified manners.  As he left, Sherlock moved closer to the two people he - however much he may deny it - cared for.  

“Distraction over, the game continues.”

“Well, maybe that’s over, too.  We’ve heard nothing from the bomber.”  Came Watson’s optimistic reply.

“Five pips, remember, John?”  Came Sherlock’s realistic reply.  “It’s a countdown, and we’ve only had four.”

 

*

 

With a start, Harry’s mind returned to Baker Street.  Mrs Hudson was gone, and John was looking at him with a concerned gaze.  Clearly he had been lost in the maze of memories for far longer than it had seemed, longer than Mrs Hudson had spent there, and how long had John been waiting for him to come back?

“I was reminiscing.  I got lost in there.”  He offered as an excuse, and John nodded slightly, that same melancholy smile plastered on the face made older by grief.  Could John tell what he had been thinking of; the first case he had been with them?  Or could he see Sherlock’s influence on him, long periods spent in silence, one in the world of crap telly and Doctor’s appointments, the other of Deductions and his own thoughts.

 

John excused himself, preparing himself for a meal with Mary.  As he walked to the stairs, Harry noticed something, something that brought an uncomfortable lump to his throat and sickness in his stomach.

 

A limp.

 

Sherlock had warned him about this through the Homeless Network.  He had received a message, not three weeks after Sherlock’s death, a crumpled note in return for five pounds.

 

Keep an eye on my Blogger, Harry.  If he limps, get rid of it. It’s dangerous. Ask Mycroft to help if necessary, I’ve a few favours you can use.

-SH

 

His Blogger, of course, was John.  It?  That referred to the gun, the metal hunk that stayed locked in a drawer, the monstrosity Sherlock feared John would turn upon himself if left alone to return to the same state in which Sherlock had found him.  Harry had only heard it described to him; a shell of a man discharged from the army, plagued with a psychosomatic limp, visiting a rather poor therapist and in possession of a quite possibly illegal firearm, which he had obviously thought of using on himself.  Sherlock had thought that the return of the limp he had cured would be a sign, a sign of deteriorating spirit and psyche, and perhaps of impending danger.  Harry could see the logic, but really didn’t want to carry it out.  He was afraid, afraid to even think of what would happen if John… if John tried to follow Sherlock.  They would have to explain it all - if he lived - and it would destroy him.  He’d never forgive any of them.  He shivered slightly at the thought and clutched at the phone on the table.

“Uncle Mikey? I need a favour…”

Chapter Text

Harry swore viciously, turning his face to hide the blackness of his expression.  The last thing he needed was conversation with Luna Bloody Lovegood.  This was an emergency - the last thing he wanted was to have a discussion about flipping Nargles.

 

Hermione was speaking to him, telling him Luna and Ginny could help.  Sure.  A couple of Fourth Years, how could they help rescue Sirius from Voldemort?  They were wasting time, they were wasting so much time.

 

The scene swirled incomprehensibly and then Harry was stood in Umbridge’s office, slammed into a desk, seeing Hermione pinned against the wall by the brutish Millicent Bulstrode, and three huge Slytherins gripping Ron and Ginny and Luna and... Neville?  But that was of no interest, he could barely focus on anything apart from the hollow feeling in his stomach that had begun to gape when he found out that Sirius wasn’t home, that he was honestly and truly trapped.  He could barely focus enough to lie about his mission, it was the mention of Snape that brought him to attention.

“They have Padfoot!” He cried desperately, “They have Padfoot at the place where it is hidden!”

Snape left, the message failed.

 

Black mist came and passed, and Harry was stood shouting, covered in the blood of Grawp, having faced Umbridge and centaurs, trying to make a bunch of stupid teens grasp the concept that they could not come.  But no.  They didn’t understand, and now they were mounting Thestrals - Thestrals! - to fly and save an ex-convict from torture.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

 

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood…  We’re here to save someone, unless your Ministry can do it first!

 

“Keep your wands out.”

“He should be near here, anywhere here… really close…”

“Harry?”

“Somewhere about... here… Or-or maybe...”

“Harry?”
“What.”

“I… I don’t think Sirius is here.”

 

He felt sick.  How could that be true?  He had watched him be tortured, he’d heard screams and felt the hot flashes of pain that told him Voldemort was working.  Voices that sounded suspiciously like his father and uncle began to whisper.

You must have been fooled.

Just think - think - what could have happened?

I don’t know.

Think!

 

Then Ron calls him, and he’s certain that this was his way to Sirius.  It was fine, all fine.

 

He picks up what Ron saw, recklessness barely registering.

“Very good, Potter.  Now turn around, nice and slowly, and give that to me.”

Fighting, plotting, failing, dropping like flies.

 

SIRIUS!

A green light hit him, the ghost of his last laugh not quite faded as he slipped through the veil, oblivious to Harry’s hand reaching out to save him.

 

Harry woke with a choked gasp, pressing his hands to his mouth before he could scream, refusing to be responsible for disturbing John’s already fractured sleep pattern.  He found it almost amusing, but mostly sad, that he seemed to be performing the same role for John that the Doctor had once played for Sherlock; worrying over lack of food and sleep, keeping a watchful yet secret eye on his health, trying to hold together some form of routine - anything to create some semblance of normality.   Of course, John hadn’t noticed, Harry made sure of that.

 

Taking a shuddering breath, he tried to erase the vision of his godfather from his mind.  When Sherlock had been with him, Harry hadn’t had nightmares very often, he was far too busy.  And if he did, Sherlock dealt with them easily.  It was surprising, really, how good the High-Functioning Sociopath had been with nightmares, considering how clueless he seemed to be about emotions.  But, against all probability, Harry had witnessed his father calming John, though the latter never knew.  He’d been woken many times in the night by John’s song, composed specifically to calm the veteran when his mind returned him to Afghanistan, and had sat listening in wonder at how much emotion the ‘unfeeling’ man had.  He wondered sometimes if he’d ever had a song played for him, and felt another wave of pain as he remembered he couldn’t find out.  Nightmares came thick and fast now, a christmas present he’d be happy without, a plague he could never cure.  They left him gasping in the darkness, making his heart race and tears fall.

 

Shaking his head, he peered at the clock to the side of him.  It was early, but Harry knew he wouldn’t sleep again that night.  He wondered if he’d ever go back to some form of normal, ever have decent sleep, and tried to think whether anything at 221B had been normal.

 

*

 

Three figures sat in chairs, clad in coats to face the bitter breeze from the still broken window (explosions tended to do that), a comfortable silence reigning except from the tapping of keys from John, and the faint voices of whatever Sherlock was watching.  Harry paid minimal attention to the show, green eyes flashing to it only occasionally, usually wandering round the oddities of the men’s flat.

“No, no, no!”  Attention fell up on the Consulting Detective, who obliviously continued his protest.  “Of course he’s not the boy’s father!”  He gestured widely to the screen, almost knocking the off the pink phone that sat besides him, “Look at the turn-ups on his jeans!”

Harry felt irrationally bitter as he listened to Sherlock.  Obviously the genius was rather good at telling who the father was, why had it taken so long for him to get to Harry?

 

An awkward silence filled the room and Harry realised with a start that he had spoken aloud.  Yes, he had wanted to talk to Sherlock about why he’d left him and why Lily went with him, but he had hoped to  do it in a better manner than that.  He willed himself not to blush, not wanting to show his embarrassment.  Sherlock steadfastly avoided everybody’s eyes, whilst John cleared his throat slightly and went to make tea.  Harry wished he’d never opened his mouth; at that moment he would have given anything for a Time Turner.  Silence, though no longer a comfortable one, once again took over, and all seemed unhappy.

Returning, John made a valiant attempt at conversation as he placed drinks before everyone.

“Knew it was dangerous.”

“Hmm?”

“Getting you into crap telly.”

Even a quick glance would tell you how thankful the younger man was for the distraction from the thick fog of his son’s words that hung over the room.  Harry felt a bubbling pool of anger begin to form in his stomach - as much as he regretted his words, he still wanted Sherlock to tell him what the hell happened.

“Hmm.  Not a patch on Connie Prince.”

“Have you given Mycroft the memory stick yet?”

“Yep.  He was over the moon.”  A grimace, “Threatened me with a knighthood.  Again.”

 

Harry frowned slightly - most people would love a knighthood!  Then again, Harry was fast discovering that Sherlock Holmes was not most men.  He was still angry, too, despite the fact he was trying to smother it.

 

“You know,” began John, “I’m still waiting.”

A questioning hum.

“For you to admit that a little knowledge of the solar system and you’d have cleared up the fake painting a lot quicker.”

“Didn’t do you any good, did it?”

“No, but I’m not the world’s only Consulting Detective.”

Giving a low chuckle that rumbled in his chest, Sherlock’s thin lips stretched into a genuine smile, “True.”

The teasing and joking had almost wiped away Harry’s ill thought words.  Almost.

“Sherlock?”

“Yes?”  The man unfurled himself slightly, looking over to Harry with an almost fearful look.

“Are you ever going to explain what went on with you and mum?”  He heard his own tone of voice; it was bitter and stiff - clearly he wasn’t very good at hiding anger.

John’s face took on a pained look (his distraction attempt failed!) as he looked between the pair.  Should he stay?  He wasn’t very confident in his friend’s ability to not hurt people’s feelings on a subject as delicate as this, but he was also very reluctant to be in the same room as his flatmate’s sex life (which he had believed to be non-existent) was discussed.



Decision made, he stood suddenly, closing the top of his laptop and facing the preoccupied pair.
“I won’t be in for tea.  I’m going to Sarah’s.  There’s still some… some of that risotto in the fridge.”

He began to leave, before an important thought popped into his mind and out of his mouth before he could stop it.

“Uh, milk.  We need milk.”

“I’ll get some.”

John started, a complete failure of veiling shock visible on his face.  “Really?”
“Really.”  There was some amusement in his voice, but mostly apathy and distraction.

“And some beans then?”  John tried.

Sherlock continued to look away stubbornly, but hummed his agreement.  With that, the blogger hesitated and fled.

 

“Can you explain then, Mr Holmes?”

“Yes, but not now.  I’ll only offend you.  Again.  It’s a better idea to wait for John, ok?”

Without waiting for a response, Sherlock sprung from his place (miraculously landing upright - he was like a cat!) and grabbed the laptop beside him, typing rapidly, quirking a small, almost mischievous smile and pressing send, leaving his unhappy son to try and ignore the simmering rage until his questions could be answered.  After his task - which Harry found himself wondering about quite against his will - he walked almost in a trance to the kitchen, before opening the fridge with rather unnecessary force and then freezing briefly.

“I must have deleted that…”  He muttered, peering at the grinning head staring out from the fridge before flashing a spectacular grin as images of very scientific experiments he could perform flashed before his mind.  Distraction over, he commenced with his next case- how did one reheat risotto?  A scowl.

 

“Mrs Hudson!”

 

*

 

Harry stifled a slight giggle at the memory - the great Sherlock Holmes defeated by risotto.  It was stifled, obviously, because of the time, but it was barely five seconds before he heard the soft noises of Watson waking and trying to be quiet, thwarted (unfortunately) by the involuntary reaction of, “Damn my leg,” whispered to the fleeting shadows on the wall, the rising sun creeping into the sky.  Harry pretended not to hear, to be asleep, knowing how John hated showing weakness, even to those who would never exploit it.

 

His emergence from the bedroom only came when he heard the familiar noises of pans and toasters clanging from the clumsiness of the tired doctor, though he was halted slightly when he heard the gentle “oh” John made as he saw the mail.  Harry shook his head slightly - how long had it been since a morning without some form of hate mail coming through the door?  Usually it was aimed at him - people didn’t seem to like the fact that he had taken on the world to prove that his Dad was right.  He didn’t really mind that, it wasn’t unusual for people to hate him, as he learned in second, fourth and fifth year.  Sometimes it insulted John and his intelligence, something that Harry took very personally and very seriously.  When it insulted Sherlock... well, Mycroft was always willing to help his nephew.  Red lights and argumentative card machines, that unfortunate incident with the computer history that mysteriously showed some... interesting sites…  Harry really couldn’t explain how it happened!

 

The mail was today insulting all three of them, but Harry knew how to cheer his companion up.

“John, come see this.”

Pulling up several websites on his phone, he saw his art and the efforts of the Homeless Network becoming noticed,  I believe in Sherlock Holmes plastered on walls in vibrant yellow, with some adding their own comments:

Richard Brook does not exist.

James Moriarty is real.

Believe in Sherlock Holmes.

Harry grinned at his work, at the movement he had sparked, and he smiled wider as John smiled too, grabbing his own phone to see what had been going on.

 

The two of them sat together in silence, feeding on tea and toast, trawling through hundreds of social media threads, examining the movement that had begun.

“There’s a hashtag,”  Harry noted appreciatively.

“There are copycats,”  John pointed out, spotting a picture of a slogan in different paint (having it painted on your living room wall seemed to familiarize you with the paint’s shade)

“They’re tweeting about it, it’s growing all the time!”  Harry cried excitedly,  “They believe us!  Think, John, we’re so close!  We could clear his name!”  At the lack of reply he spoke in a more solemn tone,  “The people are on our side, mostly, they’ll pressure the Yard, and they’ll check the cases, and then Dad’ll be proved right!”  He couldn’t sit still, bouncing up with a delighted clap of his hands and moving to the window, looking over a London buzzing with the thought of an innocent Holmes, knowing that he’d never find a better way to thank his Dad for caring so much.  Most people didn’t seem to understand that Sherlock could care, but Harry knew he did, had known ever since the Pool.

 

*

 

After Mrs Hudson had come to teach Sherlock to reheat risotto (a fact that would never be mentioned - stop sniggering this instant! ) the still unhappy Harry (though he was hiding it better now) was instructed to stay with the old woman, as Sherlock had work to do.  He watched through the grimy window as the tall man ran off, blue trench coat flapping like a cloak in the breeze.

“Where’s he off to now?”  Mused Mrs Hudson,  “It’s not decent, running off like that when he’s babysitting.”  Harry considered explaining that, actually, he was Sherlock’s secret estranged son and would probably be staying for the considerable future, but decided against it, mentioning instead that, “I don’t reckon he’s going for the milk.  Or the beans.”

Mrs Hudson gave a small laugh shaking her head.  “I don’t think so, no.  Is that what he told John?”  She gave a small shake of the head, a fond smile playing at her lips,  “Don’t know how he puts up with it.  Honestly, Mrs Turner’s married ones never act like that, though I suppose that they’re a bit boring.  I suppose I should get the milk, else they won’t be having any tea in the morning.”

“I’ll get it, Mrs H.  I heard John mention that you… had a hip?”

“Oh, thank you, such a nice boy aren’t you?  I’ll have some cookies for you when you get back.”

Harry smiled and, after assuring her many times that he would be fine, set off on his errand.

 

Upon reflection, it would probably have been a good idea to ask where the nearest shop was, before setting off, but Harry had always had a fondness for adventures.  He sighed, annoyed at himself, before looking round and spotting a man.

“Excuse me?”  He walked over at a quick pace,  “Don’t suppose you know wh-”
His words were cut off as a calloused hand shoved a greying cloth into his face, the scent of chloroform dulling his senses and relaxing his muscles.  He groaned quietly, slipping into the waiting arms of his captor.

Not this again....

 

Gasping for air, Harry awoke with a start, sitting bolt upright as if electrocuted and looking round him without seeing.  Slowly, the worried face of John Watson swam into focus, asking him, begging him to calm himself.  Breathing deep, he nodded, noticing for the first time the handcuffs connecting him and the doctor.

“Wh-where are we?”

“Swimming pool.”  John answered, almost whispering.  “Did you see who took you?”

“No.  Sorry.”

The doctor shook his head slightly, moving slightly to check over his flatmate’s son.

 

Behind them, the door opened with a creak, the captured pair’s heads both whipping to see who was there.

“Jim Moriarty.  Hi!”

Harry saw John’s eyes widened slightly, struggling to reconcile this innocent man - Jim from IT - with the master criminal he clearly was.  Harry - curious and reckless as always - couldn’t stand the silence, couldn’t stand not knowing why they were here.

“Why are we here?  Who are you?”

Moriarty tutted, a smile on his face.  “You don’t remember me?”  He pulled a sorrowful face that repulsed Harry.  “Oh Harry, I introduced you to your Daddy!”

Harry paled slightly.  This was the bomber, a psychopath.  He didn’t have time, however, to talk, or even think, as Moriarty was walking towards them, a smirk on his face.

“So… why are you here?  Well, your Sherly set up a meeting here, and I wanted to surprise him!”  He bent down to John, who admirably avoided flinching away, and put in an earpiece.  Reaching into the corner, he pulled out a bomb jacket and large coat.  The ex-army doctor swallowed as he was coerced into it, Harry taken out of his cuff only long enough for the sleeves of the bomb vest and coat to be put on, stopped from bolting only by the threat of a sniper.

“Now Johnny-boy, you say only what I tell you too, or else I’ll have to get rid of you.  And that would be a shame.”

He gave a twisted smile, taking the boys by the chain between them.

“It’s showtime!”

 

Footsteps echoed in the empty pool as Sherlock walked towards the the end of the pool.  He stopped at the edge, looking up to the darkness of the viewing gallery, his eyes straining to see if there was anyone was there.  Finally, he turned to the pool and raised his hand, in which he held the memory stick.

“Brought you a little getting to know you present.”  He said aloud.  “Oh, that’s what it’s all been for, hasn’t it?  All your little puzzles… making me dance.  All to distract me from this.”

He waved the stick slightly, rotating in a slow circle as he waited for a response in the silent room.  Behind him, he heard the door open and he turned to see who it was.

 

“Evening.”

Sherlock turned, face frozen in shock as he laid eye’s on the face of John Watson.  Harry looked on, silent, handcuffed to the doctor, watching the flashes of fear and betrayal and hurt that shot through the blue eyes of the detective.  He wanted to tell him.  It was horrible not being able to tell him, having to watch as he crumbled as the idea that John - his friend John - could be the murderer he sought shook the foundations of his mind.

“This is quite a turn-up, isn’t it, Sherlock?”

“John.  Harry…  What the hell?”  His voice was soft, almost a whisper in his shocked state; for once in his life struggling to speak.

“Bet you never saw this coming.”

Finally, agonisingly slowly, the detective began to move.  Despair painted the image of a child upon his pinched face as he walked towards the man he had thought his friend.  How could John lie like this?  Would he have to have him arrested?  Would he end up joining him?  He looked over the older man’s face, which took on a matching look of pain as he pulled open the parka (funny, he’d never seen it before) to reveal a bomb.

 

Harry swallowed slightly, watching realization fade into Sherlock’s being as a sniper’s laser danced lazily over the bomb.  There was fear, hidden well, mixed in with relief (because John wasn’t Moriarty) and guilt (did he regret doubting his friend?).

“What… would you like me… to make him say… next?”

Sherlock was still walking towards Harry and John, but his eyes were now elsewhere, scanning the area for others.

“Gottle o’ geer… gottle o’ geer... gottle o’ geer…”  The bomb’s voice cracked slightly on the last.

“Stop it.”  Came Sherlock’s order.  The game had stopped being fun the moment his two closest… the moment his family were taken.

“Nice touch this, the pool where little Carl died.”  John narrated.  “I stopped him.”  Here John cringed, the next words spilling into his ears like poison and out of his mouth with difficulty.  “I can stop John Watson too.  Stop his heart.  Or maybe Harry Potter.”  He swallowed, afraid to say the next part.  “Who would you pick?”

Sherlock paled visibly, blue eyes closing for a moment as he involuntarily contemplated the idea, unable to hide the despair in his eyes - he could never choose.

 

“Who are you?”  Sherlock’s voice was flat and almost normal, if a little thick.  He was turning on the spot, trying to look everywhere at once, hyperly aware that the seats were still in darkness.  The door opened at the opposite end as a suit wearing, soft spoken man with an Irish accent stepped through.  Harry recoiled at the sight of him, feeling sick.

“I gave you my number.”  Came the plaintive voice.  “I thought you might call.”  He walked closer, allowing them all to get a better look at him.

The great Consulting Detective blinked, processing the new information he had been given.  This was Jim, Jim from IT, the fumble-fingered, poorly dress, closeted Londoner who slipped his number under Sherlock’s petri dish whilst dating Molly.  Only, he wasn’t.  He was the same man, granted, but now he was a sharply dressed man with immaculate hair and murderous face.  Hands in pockets, he walked towards the trio, all hint of plaintiveness gone from his voice.

 

“Is that a British Army Browning L9A1 in your pocket…”

Sherlock reached to his trouser pocket and removed a pistol as Moriarty paused.

“...or are you just pleased to see me?”

Harry pulled a face at the flirting, sure that Sherlock would ignore it.

The pistol was raised to aim at the unafraid criminal.  “Both.” he replied.

Harry’s face took on a look of deeper disgust which was quickly masked.  Estranged or not, no one wanted to witness their father engaging with the flirting of their kidnapper.

“Jim Moriarty.  Hi!”

The detective tilted his head, looking closely at the man he hunted.

“Jim?  Jim from the hospital?”

Like they needed reminding.  He was walking again.  Sherlock brought his other hand to support the gun.  Jim bit his lip, a mask of disappointment adopted as if it were natural.

“Oh.  Did I really make such a fleeting impression?  But then, I suppose, that was rather the point.”

Two sniper lasers flickered over the chests of the hostages, and Sherlock turned his head with a questioning look on his face.  He wasn’t panicking, not yet.

“Don’t be silly.  Someone else is holding the rifle.  I don’t like getting my hands dirty.”

The criminal’s pacing took him the corner of the pool and he stopped.

“I’ve given you a glimpse, Sherlock, just a teensy glimpse of what I’ve got going on out there in the big bad world.  I’m a specialist, you see…”  He looked surprised, looking like he just made the connection.  “Like you!”

Harry loathed his surprise.  He was acting like a pantomime villain, like it was all a game to him.  His thoughts screeched to a halt as he realised with a horrible jolt that Moriarty was telling the truth.  He was like Sherlock.  Sherlock thought it was a game too, and now he and John were stuck as pawns on their chess board, strapped to a bomb and handcuffed.

 

Sherlock was talking, a small sneer on his face.  “Jim, please get rid of my lover’s nasty sister.

Moriarty began to grin.

“Jim, please make me disappear to South America.”

“Just so.”

Sherlock’s face cleared of the sneer.  “Consulting Criminal.”  Softly, very softly, he gave his compliment.  “Brilliant.”

The Consulting Criminal smiled proudly at the Consulting Detective.  “Isn’t it?”

No.  It’s sick.   Harry thought.  How could anyone think it brilliant?

“No one ever gets to me - and no one ever will.”

“I did.”  Sherlock spoke matter of factly.

“You’ve come the closest.  Now you’re in my way.

“Thank you.”

“Didn’t mean it as a compliment.”

“Yes, you did.”

They were almost friendly.  It was horrid for Harry to watch, the flirting was unbearable.  (As was the kidnapping and all that.)

“Yeah, ok, I did.  But the flirting’s over, Sherlock.”  His voice changed, became high pitched and sing song,  “Daddy’s had enough now!”  He resumed his regular voice as he walked closer.  “I’ve shown you what I can do.  I cut loose all those people, all those little problems, even 30 million quid just to get you to come out and play.”

 

John was beginning to feel the straining on his nerves and closed his eyes.  Harry looked at him anxiously, unsure what to do.  Sherlock couldn’t stop his gaze flickering towards the pair as he tried to focus on the man coming towards him.

“So take this as a friendly warning, my dear.  Back off.”  He smiled.  Sherlock didn’t.  He carried on.

“Although I have loved this, this little game of ours.”  His London accent appeared.  “Playing Jim from IT.”  It disappeared again, shed as easily as a glove.  “Playing gay.  Did you like the little touch with the underwear?”

“People have died.”  Came the cold voice of his opponent.

“That’s what people DO!”  He screamed the last word, personality changing in an instant.  Harry closed his eyes, afraid to see what this madman would do.

 

Sherlock was unaffected, his voice soft as he replied.  “I will stop you.”

Jim replied, calm now.  “No you won’t.”

The detective looked to his friend and son.  “You two alright?”

Harry kept his eyes firmly shut and John kept his gaze away.  Neither answered.  Moriarty walked to them, standing by the side of John.

“You can talk, Johnny-boy.  Or you, Harry Potter-Holmes.”  He paused a moment, turning to Sherlock.  “Nice ring that, don’t you think?”  Giving an exaggerated grin, he turned back to the captured pair.  “Go ahead.”

 

John met his friend’s eyes, nodding once.  Sherlock took one hand of the gun, holding out the memory stick to Jim.

“Take it.”

“Huh?  Oh, that!”

He strolled past his captured pair, reaching out for the stick with a grin on his face.

“The missile plans!”

He took the stick from the detective’s thin fingers, kissing it gently.

 

Harry opened his terrified eyes and looked to his side.  John was whispering to himself then shaking his head.  (He wanted to help Sherlock, he really did.  But he couldn’t without putting Harry in danger.)  Whilst their assailant was distracted, Harry decided on something very brave and very stupid.  Yanking on the doctor’s sleeve, he whispered the plan into his ear.  It took a moment to convince him, but then they were prepared.

 

Moriarty was looking at the memory stick.

“Boring!”  He cried, his sing song voice making Harry grimace.  He shook his head, looking at Sherlock with disappointment.

“I could have got them anywhere.”

He tossed it nonchalantly into the pool.

Seeing his chance - the only chance he thought he’d have - Harry motioned to John that their plan had to be done now.  They charged, slamming against Moriarty’s back, wrapping the chain of their cuffs around his neck and holding him to the bomb.  He choked before it slipped to his chest and he could breathe again.  Sherlock stepped back in surprise but kept the pistol raised and aimed.

“Sherlock, run!”
“He’s right Dad, you have to go!”

 

Harry barely realised what he’d said, but Sherlock did.  At that moment, his resolve to stay and save them and make up for everything he’d done increased tenfold, the resolve showing itself in the rock hard glint within his eye.  He stayed still as Jim spoke.

“Good!  Very good.”

The delight in his voice made the only free opponent anxious, and as he aimed at Moriarty’s head he looked up, trying to see what the hidden sniper would do.

“If your sniper pulls that trigger, Mr Moriarty, then we all go up.”  Said John savagely.  Jim was still calm as he ignored the fact he was held still by four arms and a chain and spoke to Sherlock.

“Isn’t he sweet?  I can see why you like having him around.  The runt’s not too bad either.  But then, people do get so sentimental about their pets.”

Grimacing angrily, John pulled Jim even tighter, the bomb now sandwiched between them.  Harry showed his displeasure through a sharp limb in the back.  Jim didn’t seem to notice it, continuing to taunt.

 

“They’re so touchingly loyal.”  He mocked.  “But oops!”

He grinned briefly at John, freed an arm to try and ruffle Harry’s hair (he ducked with a disgusted look), and then looked towards Sherlock.

“You’ve rather shown your hands there, Doctor Watson and Baby Holmes.”

He chuckled as a new laser point grew like a scarlet sore upon the middle of the Detective’s forehead.  The desperate pair stared in horror as Moriarty looked round at them.  Sherlock saw the horror, the pain, and then the flicker of the beam from the corner of his eye.  He shook his head slightly, cursing his body for the small shudder of his hand, angered that it couldn’t withstand the stimuli presented to it.

“Gotcha!” Came the singsong voice of their enemy.  He giggled again as the chain was removed from his chest, two pairs of hands raised to show the hidden sniper that they wouldn’t be trying anything else.  Glancing quickly at them, he walked towards Sherlock, brushing his suit down and straightening.  He gave an indignant gesture towards it.

“Westwood!”
Sherlock’s pistol remained trained between the eyes of Jim.

“D’you know what happens if you don’t leave me alone, Sherlock, to you?”

The Detective sounded bored as he replied, disappointed, even, by his opponent’s lack of creativity.  “Oh, let me guess, I get killed.”

“Kill you?”  He grimaced, flicking his eyes from side to side, almost to check that no one else had seen how obvious he had been.  “N-no, don’t be obvious.  I mean, I’m gonna kill you anyway someday.  I don’t wanna rush it.  I’m saving up for something special.  No-no-no-no-no. If you don’t stop prying, I’ll burn you.”  He ran his eyes briefly down Sherlock’s wiry frame, voice becoming sharply vicious as he met his cold blue eyes once more.  “I’ll burn the heart out of you.”

Sherlock swallowed slightly, almost unnoticeably, unable to stop his eyes from flicking to Harry, his only reminder.

“I’ve been reliably informed I don’t have one.”  He said softly.

“But we both know that’s not true.”

Sherlock blinked involuntarily.  Jim looked down, smiled slightly, then shrugged.

“Well, I’d better be off.  So nice to have had a proper chat.”

Harry looked at John, surprised.  Were they really being let go so easily?  Sherlock raised the pistol higher and moved it closer to Jim’s head.

“What if I was to shoot you - right now?”

“Then you could cherish the look of surprise on my face.”  He opened his mouth and eyes wide, before grinning at Sherlock.  “‘Cause I’d be surprised, Sherlock, I really would.  And just a teensy bit disappointed.  And of course, you wouldn’t be able to cherish it for long.”

 

Slowly, he turned away.

“Ciao, Sherlock Holmes.”

He walked calmly towards the side door.  Sherlock stepped forward to keep him in his sights.

“Catch… you… later.”

“No you won’t!”

 

The door closed and Sherlock stayed frozen for a few seconds, his gun still aimed to the door, the only movement the heave of his chest as he breathed.  Finally, agonisingly, his gaze drifted to his doctor and he instantly bent, putting his arsenal on the floor and beginning to unfasten the bomb.  He took a moment to pick the lock off the cuffs (Harry wasn’t entirely sure why there was a bobby pin in his pocket), realising halfway through that the bomb couldn’t be removed until Harry’s arm was in the way.

“All right?”

John tilted his back, breathing heavily.  Harry sat down focussing on his on his own breathing.

“Are you alright?” He asked again, more urgently than before.

“Yeah-yeah, I’m fine.”

Sherlock jumped up, tugging at the bomb vest.

“I’m fine.”  John repeated.

Sherlock was still tugging, breathing too fast as well.

“Sherlock.”

He finally managed to roughly rip off the bomb.

“Sh-Sherlock!”

With a bend, Sherlock skimmed it as far across the floor as was possible whilst John staggered.  Harry stood, wobbly, and moved over to the wall.

“Jesus.”  John said softly.  He pulled the earpiece from his ear, hand shaking and breath laboured as the shock began to truly set in.  Sherlock stared at him then hurried to the gun on the floor, then raced to the door Moriarty left through.  John’s knees buckled and he staggered, leaning on the edge of a changing cubicle.  He swore, dropped into a squat, let out a long breath and tried to calm himself.  Harry stepped over, placing a hesitant hand upon his shoulder.

“Are you ok?”

He was waved away.  Sherlock came back, check completed, so hyper and distracted that he couldn’t help but pace.

“Dad, Dad!”

Sherlock had begun to scratch his head with the business end of a loaded and cocked pistol.  He stopped, looking right through Harry.

“Are you ok?” Asked John breathlessly.

“Me?  Yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine.  Fine.”  Came the reply.  It was hurried, distracted, and he was still pacing.  Wide-eyed and breathless he turned to his blogger and his son.

“That, er ... thing that you, er, that you did – that, um…”  He cleared his throat,  “...you offered to do. That was, um ... good.”

John stared blankly ahead, but placed his hand a Harry’s arm, calming the jittering slightly.
“I’m glad no one saw that.”

Sherlock raised a shaking hand to rub his chin, looking confused, but with the gun still in his hand.

“Dad!”

He lowered it again.

“Hmmm?”

“You, ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool.  People might talk.”

Sherlock shrugged.

“People do little else.”

He looked down at John, cracking a grin.  John snorted in laughter and Sherlock joined in.  With a quick look at Harry, it didn’t take long to notice the shaking.  With three short strides, he had grabbed his son in an embrace, gripping him tightly.  The raven head of his son nestled into his shoulder, he felt the hot tears of his son leaking into shirt.

“Shhh, shh, Harry, shhh…”  He felt his own throat crack and stopped talking, deciding to be content in rubbing his son’s back and trying to hold back his own tears of fear and loss and sadness.  Harry tried to calm himself, but being comforted like this - almost for the first time in his life - he only cried more.  It took a few minutes before the pair were calmed.  With a final squeeze, they disentangled, smiling tearily at each other.  

 

Within a second, Harry’s face dissolved into horror as a red laser began to dance a ballet over his father’s chest.  John noticed only a moment later and with an anguished groan watched the door open at the deep end of the pool.  As Jim emerged, clapping cheerfully, Sherlock straightened, any and all trace of tears removed.

 

“Sorry, boy’s.  I’m sooooooo changeable!”

John grimaced in disbelief.  The Consulting Detective kept his back to Jim, searching the gallery to try and judge the amount of snipers.  Dots began to hover over John and Harry, and three more travelling over Sherlock.  Jim laughed, spreading his arms as if in a hug.

“It is a weakness with me but, to be fair to myself, it is my only weakness.”

He placed his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels.  Sherlock turned his head towards his blogger and his son.  His eyes screamed out to them,   I’m sorry, I’m sorry I dragged you into this, I’m sorry I’m going to have you killed.  They met his eyes, and he hoped the glimmers in them was forgiveness.

 

“You can’t be allowed to continue.  You just can’t.  I would try to convince you but…”  He laughed and his voice became sing-song again,  “...Everything I have to say has already crossed your mind.”

Sherlock kept his eyes locked in his companions and they nodded.  They trusted him.  They knew he would do what way necessary.  They gave him permission.  With a final silent, bloodshot look at his son (so young, so unknown - would they have ever have known each other?) he tore his eyes away and faced Jim.  He knew his eyes were swollen, he knew his heart had escaped to his sleeve, but what did it matter now?

“Probably my answer has crossed yours.”

He raised the pistol and aimed it at him.  Jim smiled confidently, no fear in that smug expression.  Sherlock lowered the pistol slowly, all four sets of eyes locked onto it, until it was level with with the bomb.  It shivered slightly, a tremor in his spidery hand, and went to steady himself.  Jim tilted his head, anxious for the first time, realising he was no longer in control of the situation.  As the time ticked slowly by, they locked eyes, Jim beginning to smile.  Sherlock narrowed his eyes.

 

*

“Tea?”
Harry looked up, the kind eyes of his guardian looking down at him.

“Please.”  

Tea duly drank, Harry retired to his room, deciding that potions essay probably wouldn’t be easier the next week, which was a shame.

 

He jumped on his bed (who said he was childish?  He wasn’t childish!)  and stretched out, grabbing the parchment and ink from the desk.  He could always clean out any stains that occurred, surely.

Give the properties, uses, and preparation of-

A buzz on the wood of his desk called him back, thankfully, and he practically leapt to read his text.

 

W is in Serbia.  Apologies, he insisted.

-MH

 

With an aggravated groan emitting from the boy with tired eyes, Harry’s phone found itself bouncing from the mattress to the floor as he slammed his face in the pillow.

 

How could he be so stupid?