Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Sherlock (BBC) or any of the characters from either series represented in this piece. Any original character in this piece are mine.
A/N: Written for Soulmate/Soulbond challenge on Rough trade during NaNoWrimo 2014. Didn't quite make the word count, but enjoyed it all the same.
Beta'd by KissOfTheGrimm, all other mistakes found are mine.
It was official, Harry Potter was a freak.
He had been sitting in his cupboard, hands over his ears, trying to block out his cousin's taunts as Dudley ran up and down the stairs screaming to the heavens about his freakishness, when he had come to this conclusion. Dust had clouded his vision and occasionally caused him a fit of coughing. They had talked about soulmate marks in class today, a lecture required to be given in primary school before the end of Year 4. Tears were rolling down his cheeks as he remembered the Miss Beck's talk about when soulmate marks would appear. She had looked right at him and hadn't bothered to hid her disgust. What his Aunt and Uncle had been telling him all his life must be true then. Harry was part of a very small and most reviled group. There wasn't even pity in their eyes.
The other students had always treated him different, but Harry had thought it his cousin's influence. Now he knew differently, or suspected at least. The reason why he had never received a birthday party invite or stood a chance at making a friend. The reason why his Aunt and Uncle hated him and refused to let him play with Dudley ever in their time growing up together. They didn't want his freakishness to rub off. What would the neighbors say?
As the weeks had passed, Harry had grown less of a thick skin than he would have liked. The constant imposed counseling sessions that took place, at minimum once a month, during school only served as a reminder to him, and all around him, of his taint. The constant barrage by his counselor to remember not to talk to any adult that approached him, not to look any adult in the eye, and never ever show an adult his mark. It was for his own good, he didn't want a pedophile to take him did he? That's what his soulmate was, wasn't it? A man or woman twenty or more years his senior.
For all of a minute, Harry had thought that the weird school that had sent him letters would be his saving grace. He had dreamed of attending a school where no one knew his name. Where he could make friends, study hard, and learn, in this case, magic. That dream had been quickly shattered. Being Harry Potter was a nightmare all its own, but attending a magical boarding school and having to wear a uniform did come with one advantage. Harry was always the first to get ready in the mornings and the last at night. He had strategically chosen the bed closest to the door, after having traded with Neville that first night. He wasn't ashamed to say that it was one of the few times he had used his new found fame to his own advantage. Fame had never been nice to him, but it did help here and there. Harry was no longer famed for his mark and in the end he found he could more than live with that. That wasn't to say it had been easy, far from it. Harry was fairly convinced that Fate just enjoyed fucking with.
It had been hard witnessing Cedric's death, being forced to take part in Voldemort's resurrection, and knowing the traitor that had gotten his parent's killed got away. Being ignored by his friends that following summer and learning about his connection to Snake Face himself hadn't helped his spiraling mindset either, but the real tragedy had been losing Sirius. Harry had never really stopped blaming himself. Time and space would help him in the future, he was told, when the memory wasn't quite so raw. Then he might be able to accept that all the blame didn't fall on his shoulders. They had all made mistakes, but it wasn't much for consolation.
Harry had survived. Sometimes it seemed like a lie though, to say that in the end he had survived. He had defeated Voldemort and stopped a war, but to do so he had had to die himself. He had had to accept that this may have been his place all along. To die having lived a far harder life in his seventeen years than most did in their lifetime. To accept death having never known his soulmate and condemning them as well. When Harry had breathed that first breath after making his choice at Kings Cross he knew things were different now, he was different. He had never stopped hoping though, that his soulmate would come and take him away from all of this. From his muggle family and the magical world alike. Sometimes, on the days he was feeling brave, he'd even have a peek at it. There, on the inside of his upper left arm, sat the mark that should have been the greatest comfort and joy, proof his soulmate live. Instead sat the cruelest words a mark could take form as, caring is not an advantage.
It hadn't taken much for Harry to be convinced to finish out his education at Hogwarts, he had wanted to be convinced. The alternative to spending a year finishing his schooling wasn't something Harry was ready to face yet; accepting the Auror position, bypassing training, and being thrust into adult life. The castle was in shambles in some places and had to be cordoned off for safety, but enough of the school still stood strong and the world kept spinning, life kept moving on, and so would Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Hermione had agreed instantly to returning for her NEWTs, while Ron had taken some convincing, and Harry wasn't surprised when two months in Ron had dropped out to join George in his shop. Not everyone had returned; some had elected to attend other schools, others had been sent to Azkaban, and some just couldn't find it in themselves to return. This had been true for most years, not just Harry's. The daily grind of lessons and homework gave Harry new purpose. He didn't think he had ever appreciated his education more, because if the war had taught Harry one thing it was that he was woefully unprepared to be an adult in this world. Being the top of their class in Defense Against the Dark Arts had helped him, of course, but it didn't replace knowing basic healing spells, or being able to brew a lifesaving potion, or recognizing a lifesaving potion ingredient. Hermione had enthusiastically agreed to help him retry brewing some of the potions they had brewed in previous years, so he had been shocked when he learned that she would be dropping out as well after winter holidays.
That February Ron and Hermione had married in the Weasley's yard, snow covering the ground and dusting the trees. A picturesque wedding, perfect in every way; even with the announcement that Hermione was with child, that followed a week later.
Harry graduated from Hogwarts in June, and it felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. When the owl that carried the letter containing his NEWTs had arrived Harry hadn't even bothered to open it, they weren't the reason he had returned, he had wanted to expand his knowledge not prove he could just pass a test. The letter that had arrived the next day from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement concerning his acceptance into the Auror Academy had been opened and read, before being tossed aside. Harry was done chasing down dark wizards.
Harry went to Gringotts to settle his affairs the morning of his nineteenth birthday. The goblins had contacted him the year before and Harry had asked for a hold to be placed on affairs, so that he might finish his education. Due to circumstances during the war, the goblins had been unable to properly contact him on his seventeenth birthday. They had agreed to bury the hatchet if Harry in turn paid his share of the damages to their bank. When he had entered the bank that morning and had accepted his Lordships and taken claim to his rightful vaults, Harry had inquired about his share of the damages, he wanted everything to be settled before he left. He hadn't expected his account manager Nirhold to inform him that his share had been waived, apparently Harry had been the only one to willingly agree and hold his commitment for his wrong doings to the Goblin Horde. Ron and Hermione hadn't agreed and wouldn't even when Harry broached the subject later that week. Harry had made allies in the goblins.
With his Lordships came two seats in the Wizengamot and Harry made it a priority to attend every gathering. In between his new duties and reading through most of the books in the library at Grimmauld Place, Harry honestly hadn't seen the rift between himself and the Weasley's coming. He had accepted that they had their differences, they were all adults now, and even his friendship with Ron and Hermione didn't require them to agree on everything. The baby boom, as Harry had taken to mentally calling the phenomenon, was not what he would have expected to be the cause of the rift.
Christmas was a time of celebration and joy. Loss from the war only a year and a half before had surely put a damper on things still, but new life and new love seemed just the thing to raise people's spirits some. There seemed to be a wedding every month and a new announcement to add to the growing list soon followed. The Daily Prophet had monthly predictions on when Harry would be announcing his engagement, to whom he couldn't fathom. Hermione giving birth the month before had definitely raised the mood this holiday, even Harry could admit to being caught up by the cheer the baby brought. Baby Rose would be well loved and have a constant companion in her cousin, Victoire, Bill and Fleur's girl.
So when Hermione had sat next to him after dinner and placed Rose in his arms, Harry wasn't prepared to be blindsided.
"When will you be asking Ginny out again, Harry? She admitted that she's grateful you've given the both of you time to finish your educations, but don't you want to marry soon? So our children can attend Hogwarts together?" Hermione asked, eyes never straying from Rose.
"Er…What? Ginny and I broke up, Hermione."
"For the war, though, right? To keep her safe. You told me that."
"Yeah, I mean that was my reasoning at the time. I'm not her soulmate though and we're both adults now. Shouldn't she be looking for him?"
"The wizarding world doesn't put the same stock into soulmates that muggles do Harry. Didn't you know?"
"That still doesn't mean I want to date Ginny, she's kind of like a sister to me Hermione."
Hermione glanced up at him, his words having somehow broken the spell that kept her eyes locked on her child. "Well, surely you must be interested in someone, of not Ginny. Don't you want to settle down Harry? I can understand not wanting to be an Auror, Ron and I agreed that what we went through during the war was more than enough. We wanted to start our lives together. It may have been a bit rushed, I'll admit, but I couldn't be happier. I want this for you as well."
"I'm glad you're doing what makes you happy Hermione, but this isn't for me. Not yet."
"I just don't understand it Harry. Don't you see that we still have a duty? Being an Auror was one option and this is another." Hermione lifted Rose from his arms, her face guarded.
"This? A Duty? Getting married is a duty for you and Ron? I thought he was your soulmate and you guys did this out of love."
"It's not that we don't love each other Harry! It's that our world didn't just become rainbows and sunshine after the war ended if you haven't noticed. People died Harry!"
"You think I don't know that? What's wrong with my wanting to take a break before jumping into something else? I haven't even met my soulmate Hermione and with all I've been through I should at least be allowed to look the bastard in the eye before I decide I'm going to turn my back on them!" Harry felt the eyes of the rest of the family on him.
"So you're just going to neglect your duty?" Ginny piped in. "You hold two Lordships Harry, don't you understand that you must produce heirs? If not for yourself, then us at least. You hold two seats, two votes. Two ancient lines will die with you Harry, if you don't do your duty. You may have been raised in the muggle world, so maybe it isn't important to you, but it is important to us."
"So, I'm just supposed to roll over; give up my life, get married, and have a few kids? Just so you all feel better? You really think after everything I've done that I don't think this world is important?" Harry said evenly. "I'm nineteen years old and I have my whole life ahead of me and I think, just for a bit, I'm going to live it the way I want to.
"I've seen what they write in the Prophet. Public opinion sways back and forth every week it seems when it comes to me. I learned a long time ago that I was never going to make everyone happy, but shouldn't I at least have the chance to make myself happy?"
"I've seen your mark Harry, why can't you just learn to make yourself happy here?" Hermione stood and walked over to her husband.
Harry looked at each of the Weasleys, most giving him pitying looks. Harry was grateful at least that George wasn't here to look at him the same.
Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and preceded to destroy one of the many guest bedrooms. Later, he would remember that it was the room that Ron and Hermione had most often used during their stays. Harry vented every emotion he could with his magic. Setting the curtains ablaze and shredding the pillows and mattress. By the end, all Harry could feel was the tears on his cheeks.
As he fell to his knees Harry wondered where it had all gone wrong. What had he done in another life, or even this one, to deserve this? The longer he cried the more he realized that staying wasn't the answer. Harry knew he had a right to want to strike out on his own and it wasn't too much to ask. Ron, Hermione, and everyone else, it seemed felt as if he owed them. As if they owned him.
So, Harry just needed to remove himself from the equation.
If Harry were a normal person, having a nightmare wouldn't be a thing to be celebrated; but Harry wasn't normal, hadn't been from the start and having a nightmare wasn't the worst thing to happen to him inside his own head. The lack of sleep had bothered him at first, but like so many other things, he just got used to it. So waking up from a nightmare for the third night in a row didn't bother Harry as much as it would most people. Living on the streets didn't make Harry like most people though. The sun, high in the sky, filtered down into the cracks and crevasses of Harry's cramped corner of the world. There wasn't much a person could say about the rundown abandon building Harry was currently calling home, but Harry and his fellow homeless squatters found it more than adequate.
Life among the dregs of London had worked out better for Harry than he had first imagined. Leaving the Grimmauld Place in the dead of the night a week after the incident at the Burrow had been the most liberated Harry had ever felt. Harry had arranged a system with the Goblins for access to his vaults and had gone over the legalese with a solicitor to guarantee the rest of his property and status was protected until the time came that he decided to return. If he did decide to return.
He had tried renting a small run down flat for a few months, using it as his base of operations, but he hadn't been able to earn the other's trust. Having a place with little in and out traffic as he did caused him to have suspicious neighbors. Although, Harry couldn't understand why they had any right to be suspicious given their own chosen trades. Harry had gone out one day, his bag on his back and simply never returned; an undetectable extension charm like Hermione had used during the war making his bag far more useful.
An older woman who introduced herself as Willow and reminded him a bit of Luna, had taken a liking to Harry and had been more than happy to share her spot with him. Harry had healed the cuts on her feet and legs in exchange for her generosity. She gazed at him knowingly and had patted his shoulder. The next day she brought a friend home with her and Harry had done what he could to help. With Willow's help he was making progress in earning the other's trust; before long he was being dragged off for "house calls" and getting visitors every day. Harry didn't know what Willow was telling them to get them to keep their silence, none of them ever spoke a word about how he did it. When they showed up they just knew that he was there to help. He never asked for anything in return, but most tried to leave something with him.
As the days started to grow warmer Harry made his first trip back into the Diagon Alley. He donned a worn, but clean, muggle blouse and knee length skirt that Willow had brought home for him last week. Harry had cast a spell on his hair to lengthen and straighten it, while Willow had insisted on combing his hair out and Harry hadn't the heart to say no. An old cloak completed the ensemble. Hood raised, Harry gave Willow a peck on the cheek and disaparated to the Leaky Cauldron.
Harry spent every New Years in the same spot, the spot where he had watched the fireworks from when the millennium came rolling in, just days after making his grand escape. The cramped alley behind one of the smaller churches in the city provided a clear view of the sky.
Harry had made a name for himself over the years and while being homeless in London wasn't easy, it did provide Harry with a simple life. Willow spent most of her time in shelters these days. She'd taken him in five years ago, now, and Harry was thankful every day for her kindness. There was very little Harry hadn't shared with her about his life from before, some of which he could never come right out and say.
The one subject they were most open with each other was soulmates and the marks they leave on each other. Willow's mark had appeared not long after her fortieth birthday and had faded before her forty-first. She had been a teacher at the time and had managed to finish out the school year before taking a leave of absence; she hadn't returned. Willow had explained how she had been disowned by her family when he mark hadn't appeared by her twenty-fifth birthday. She'd never really considered marrying someone or having kids, part of her blamed the system and their backward logic, and she never really felt like she had had that option. Being different was something to be ashamed of. She never told Harry how she had become homeless, but Harry had never minded, it didn't matter. Willow was a good person and that was all that mattered.
In between making salves, checking in on people, and catching up with Willow, Harry had found a peace he hadn't had before. A peace that was disturbed by a new whisper that swept its way through the homeless. The others spoke of a man with a sharp tongue and no nonsense attitude. A man by the name of Holmes.
Harry had held his tongue when the other first started talking about Mister Holmes during their visits. Much like Harry, the man appeared to be trying to win them over and was fumbling a bit. He talked of Scotland Yard, murder, and drugs, offering them repayment for the odd work he had them do. Deliver a note here, follow someone there, and report back. His personal address and mobiles had even been distributed to a few. Harry could see the cleverness in Mister Holmes' plan, nobody paid much attention to the homeless. Normal people tended to avert their eyes, but Harry did not like the thought of anyone potentially putting themselves into harm's way for this man.
Harry was going to pay Mister Holmes a visit.
The apartment building reminded Harry of his own from years ago. Foreboding, dingy, cold, and of questionable management. Harry walked up the stairs and cringed at a particularly loud creak followed by a dip in the board that did not bode well. He quickly ascended the rest of the steps and located the correct door before knocking.
The door flew open, startling Harry a bit, and an unshaven man with sharp cheekbones peered at Harry. "You didn't use the knock."
"Er, excuse me?"
"The knock, you're not a client and clearly live on the streets, so you should have used the knock."
"My apologies then. May I please come in, Mister Holmes?"
"Did my brother send you?"
"Does he 'clearly live on the streets' as well?"
The man grinned and pulled Harry inside, slamming the door behind him. "Mycroft didn't send you then. How can I help you Mister…"
"Mister Black, then."
Sherlock's mind was amazing and horrifying all wrapped up into one man, but Harry could see the good in Sherlock and the two men came to an agreement. Harry would assist Sherlock in building his 'Homeless Network' and in return Sherlock would send the more dangerous jobs Harry's way. Harry told Sherlock as he turned to leave, that Sherlock should find a better place to live if he didn't want to chance a relapse and had been told to not so kindly fuck off.
"Not everyone wants to be helped dear." Willow had tutted and patted his cheek obligingly.
"I know that Willow."
"Hmmm. Did I ever tell you about the cemetery, dear? No? Well, I was out walking the one day, after I had left teaching you know, and I felt inexplicably drawn to a cemetery nearby. I wasn't quite sober, but thankfully there wasn't anyone around to see my stumble my way over to this cemetery. I wandered off, mentally and physically, I'm afraid. Until I realized I had stopped. There was a lamp post not far off and I thought perhaps I had been heading towards it." Willow sighed from her seat next to him. "When I started towards it though, it didn't feel right, so I turned back around. I was in front of one of the graves, looked newer, well kept. What disturbed me most was that the date of birth and death were damn near identical. When I tried to walk away again, I didn't feel the same urge to go back."
"Who was it?"
"Oh their name isn't important Harry. What's important is that if you want to help people, you help those who want help. Not the other way around, that just causes more pain and frustration in the end."
Harry was used to walking in, out, and around the alleys of London. He knew which areas to walk through and which ones to actively avoid on the days he didn't intentionally go out looking for trouble. Of course, he never really went looking for trouble did he? Trouble always came to him.
As Harry passed through another dark alley on his way home, he passed a familiar church. The one he spent his New Year's celebration near. The normal sounds of the city at night comforting him as he made his trek. Until one sound stood out, rising able the others as a whisper. A faint and pitiful, mew. Harry turned and sought out the source on instinct, before stopping himself and continuing on as he had.
Harry's heart constricted. Turning back again, Harry walked in the direction he thought he had heard the crying come from. He spied a box against the back wall of the church and caught sight of a slight rustle. As he approached the box Harry could just make out the small furred creature that lay inside. The kitten raised its head at the sound of Harry's footsteps, crying more insistently. Harry kneeled down and rested his hand on the small quavering body, the kitten pressing back against his hand.
"Hey there little one." Harry whispered as he lifted the kitten from its box and brought it towards his chest. The kitten mewed in response and settled down after the initial bit of squirming from being lifted. "I guess you're coming home with me."
The kitten purred the entire walk home.
It soon became apparent to Harry that Bishop wasn't an ordinary kitten. Harry had found the little beast almost three weeks ago and after doing what he could to ensure the kitten's health and figuring out a feeding regimen, Bishop had grown. Not in a way that Harry thought was normal either, not for a normal kitten anyway. Bishop was nearly three times the size he had been when Harry had brought him home. Obviously, Bishop wasn't a normal kitten and Harry was starting to suspect magical influence. A kneazle maybe? Were there any other magical breeds of cats? How many magical breeds of animals ended up in the muggle world?
Harry glanced down at the purring mass currently sprawled across his lap, and sighed. Bishop's long kitten down fur had only continued to grow and Harry had been wary over keeping Bishop's coat maintained, but a nightly brushing seemed to do the job, way better than Harry suspected it should. Bishop was too large to be carried around in Harry's jacket anymore and had taken to following him wherever he went. Sherlock hadn't reached out to him recently so he hadn't had to worry about Bishop on that front, yet. Harry was just hoping he could convince the animal stay home or with Willow should the need arise. On his next trip to Gringotts, he was going to have to risk a trip into a bookstore and see what he could find on familiars and magical cat breeds and crossbreeds.
Harry shuddered from the cold seeping through his body as he sat on the ground, eyes to the sky, and watched the fireworks bring in yet another year. Bishop had squeezed himself between Harry's neck and the wall, acting as an impromptu scarf, content to sleep while Harry watched. The long held tradition of watching fireworks from this spot held true, until Harry heard the distinct clicking of heels.
Harry snapped his head in the direction of the gently falling clicks and clacks to see a women walking in his direction. Harry rubbed Bishop's head as he started to stand, giving the cat time to readjust himself over Harry's shoulders. The woman stopped a few feet from Harry, face lit by the mobile she held in front of her.
"Mister Black?" The women asked only glancing up momentarily from her mobile.
"Mister Holmes would like to meet with you."
"Mister Holmes employs a secretary now?"
"If you'll follow me." The woman turned and walked back out the alley.
Harry weighed his options and sighed before deciding to follow the woman out of the alley and into the waiting car.
The woman never spoke a word during the car ride as they wove in and out of London's streets, their destination an old warehouse by the Thames. Bishop still sat perched upon Harry's shoulders, but when Harry turned to pet him, Harry could see Bhim eyeing the cars upholstery. Bishop jumped down into the empty space between Harry and the woman eyeing her as he began to knead the seat with his claws. The woman's brow twitched. As the car slowed and came to a stop, the woman exited from one side of the car, Harry and Bishop the other.
"Mister Holmes will meet you inside." The woman stated before getting back in the car.
Harry looked at the warehouse and then back at the car, but before he could try to get back in as well, the car started to drive away. Harry figured he might as well see what Mister Holmes wanted then.
As they entered the warehouse Harry could spot a man standing in the center of the nearly empty building. Dressed in a three piece suit that screamed money the man stood at least six foot, with an umbrella in his right hand to lean on.
"So glad you could join me, Mister Black."
"Just Black, thanks." Harry insisted as Bishop gave a hearty cry as he came around Harry to sit in front of his feet. "That's Bishop."
"Indeed. Well Black, Bishop." Mister Holmes uttered with a strained lilt to his voice upon saying Bishop's name. "What can you tell me of your relationship with Sherlock?"
"Ah." Harry smiled indulgently. "You must be Mycroft then, who clearly doesn't live on the streets."
Mycroft raised an eyebrow.
"Your brother is a very suspicious man, your name came up in a conversation once."
"Your relationship with him?"
"Sherlock and I have an agreement of sorts, that's all."
"An agreement that deals with your kind?" Mycroft looked down at a file he held in his hands. "Mister Potter? I only ask out of concern you see."