"That's Harry Potter."
"You're powers of observation astound as usual, Anderson. And as usual, your research is lacking. His name is Sherrinford Holmes."
Anderson didn't seem to hear a word Sherlock said. He was staring at Harry, his eyes wide with shock, almost awe. It was enough to make John want to pull Harry behind him. The three of them had been out for a stroll when Lestrade's call had come, and since he assured them there was nothing dangerous or disturbing in the building, except in the specific room where the murder took place, they had agreed to stop by. John called Mary to meet them, just in case, though he didn't think Harry was quite ready to be left alone in her care. Or perhaps John just wasn't ready. Sherlock had been fairly quiet after he assessed her; he hadn't condemned her outright but he hadn't exactly given his blessing either.
"That's Harry Potter. What's he doing with you?"
"I'm Sherry Watson Holmes."
It made both John and Sherlock smile to hear Harry standing up for himself. Anderson didn't notice. He just opened and closed his mouth a few more times before continuing his own thought process out loud.
"You have Harry Potter. You…you're…you're all wizards? That explains so much! All that talk about 'deducing' and 'using your brain' and it's all a trick, isn't it? A magic trick! How did you get the boy who lived? Do…does the ministry know you have him? Surely they wouldn't let a psycho like you…"
"My daddy's not a psycho!"
John's face warred between grinning and looking stern. "Harry. What did we say about kicking?"
Sigh. "Sherlock, what did we say about telling our…son how to attack people?" He still wasn't comfortable about being Harry's dad. He felt like a thief. Dr. Sundberg had discussed the entire issue with all three of them. In the end Harry grasped his changing circumstances quite well. 'I have my old daddy and mummy, and now my new daddies.' Dr. Sundberg thought this was a positive development. And at this point, with Harry embracing the new titles so enthusiastically, it would have been cruel to take them back. A private talk with the therapist left John feeling slightly more at ease at being a parent, despite his reservations.
Now if only Harry's second parent would behave like a parent and not a second child.
"But John, this was obviously a case of defense!"
"Sticks and stones, Sherlock. Sticks and stones."
"Good idea. Sherry, we'll practice making use of your surroundings in our next lesson."
A part of John wanted to knock his head against a wall. Another part thought it would be better to knock Sherlock's head against a wall. A secret, but still significant third part of John agreed that Harry should be taught how to use his environment as part of self-defense. Meanwhile, Anderson continued to stare and gibber in horror.
"You…you're going to train him into being a death eater! Who let you have him! Did you steal him?!"
They were gathering a crowd of investigators. Men and women who tried to look at them without looking at them. Some were edging away from Anderson. A few were edging towards him, as though afraid they might have to defend these civilians from the obviously deranged man. John considered taking Harry outside to wait. Sherlock put a hand to his head, as though Anderson were giving him a headache.
"One, I'm not 'magical' as you would put it. I'm not sensitive to glutinic energy. So why would I join a cult of blood purists who despise my very existence? Two, Sherrinford came to me because I'm his closest living relative who isn't criminal. We're cousins." The 'you idiot' wasn't said out loud but it was very strongly implied.
"You…but…you…you can't be!"
"Obviously I can, now shut up, you're draining my brain cells."
"You seriously expect us to believe that you are Harry Potter's cousin!"
"I'm going to ignore you now." In fact, he considered just leaving. He didn't actually need Anderson to show him the way. Which was a good thing as Anderson was obviously not about to do it.
"There's no way it's possible! I mean, you're old enough to be his father!"
Sherlock sighed, his hand now massaging his forehead. Around him he saw other people watching but trying not to be noticeable. It was a pathetic display of high morals meeting blatant curiosity and feeling all those eyes on him without seeing them was getting under Sherlock's skin.
"Alright," he said loudly, to the room at large, until all the eyes were looking at him properly. Much better. "I'm going to explain this only once, so do try to grasp what I'm saying in your tiny little minds. I am, in terms of genetic relationships, Sherrinford's cousin. Not his father, not his uncle, and not once or twice removed. When our grandfather was young, quite young I'd imagine, he had an illegitimate son; my father. Later, by at least twenty years, my grandfather married and had more children with his wife. One of those is Sherry's mother. So, his son and his daughter are obviously siblings, even if they are at least twenty years apart, making us, their children, cousins."
The explanation left out, of course, the fact that Sherlock's father and the man who raised him were not, in fact, the same person, but these people hardly needed to know that.
"Now, where's this dead body I was asked to see?" Anderson continued to gape but another person on forensics helpfully pointed Sherlock in the right direction and he swept up the stairs, leaving Harry to John. John prudently took Harry back outside. A slightly chilly wind was still better to face than another Harry Potter enthusiast. Anderson was left to gibber in a corner alone.
"Mary!" John looked up at Harry's shout. There she was, as beautiful as always. Which was not a thought a married man should be having about the nanny. Then again, in all ways that mattered, John was not married. Slavery and forced marriages were, as far as he knew, still illegal in the UK. He had a civil partner and he had a son. He had made no vows, except to himself, and those were more along the lines of 'protect them. Love them.' Not 'never look at another woman again'. Still, she was the nanny! Probably in bad taste to look at her that way.
Harry, unburdened by such thoughts, waved at her cheerfully as she joined them by the entrance to the building.
"Hello Harry. John. Is Harry going with me or is this a case of the more the merrier?"
"We don't know, yet," John answered. "Sherlock's looking at the scene now." Sherlock could very well come storming out after five seconds, declaring the entire thing obvious and dull, or he could take an hour or it could be a full blown investigation complete with rooftop chases at midnight and days of brooding and experiments. One never knew with Sherlock.
As it turned out, John and Harry chatted with Mary about brooms for the next five minutes when a very harassed looking woman came out to say Sherlock was asking for John and could he please join him?
Harry was perfectly content to stay with Mary while John went. It was John who was nervous about the separation. Still, it was Mycroft who hired her, so in the end he followed the woman back into the house. Anderson had left off mumbling about death eaters and Harry Potter and was now sitting in a corner with a hot drink and a blanket thrown over his shoulders.
Up the stairs, John finds Sherlock knocking through a wall with a poker while an unfortunate officer looked on in horror. The wall turned out to be a false wall built in front of the real one. Behind it, there was a painting of a waterfall.
One month later, John stood on the pavement and looked up at Sherlock standing on the roof.
"It's all a magic trick," Sherlock said. And then he jumped.
One day later, John is escorted the safe house where Harry had been moved during Moriarty's trial. As far as John knew, no one had told Harry yet. He didn't know if he could tell him. He had to tell him. Four years old, and he had already lost his parents, been left with an abusive family, and now that he was finally settling, finally sleeping in his own bed and not the closet, finally learning to trust family again, John was going to have to tell him that his new Daddy Sherlock was gone.
A magic trick. What had Sherlock even been trying to tell him? What could he tell Harry.
He could hear Harry in the next room. He was giggling. And he heard another voice. A deep and familiar voice, and suddenly he couldn't breathe because it wasn't true, he knew it wasn't, he was going to open the door and be disappointed and the world would go on being wrong and empty. It was just him and Harry left. He knew that. He had to be stronger than this. Finally, he opened the door. It was the hardest thing he had ever done in his entire life, and that included Afghanastan, and feeling for a pulse on a fallen body while its eyes stared at him devoid of light.
Those eyes were not devoid of light now.
"You bastard!" John screamed, all the emotions that had been drowning him suddenly swallowed away leaving a big void of empty feelings that quickly filled with a tumultuous mixture of rage and joy and relief and confusion and fury.
"Not in front of Sherry, John," Sherlock answered. He still had a cut on his forehead. It hadn't been completely fake. Somehow, John lost his feet and found himself sitting down.
"Daddy John!" Harry called, smiling beautifully. "You came! Daddy Sherlock said you were coming but you took forever and ever and he says we are going on an adventure and we will all be together!"
"I did try to tell you," Sherlock mumbled, attempting to appear completely unconcerned with the way John's eyes had filled up with emotion until he had to blink away tears. "I said it was a magic trick. And you know how I feel about the word 'magic'."
"Glutininium," Harry said, stumbling a bit over the unfamiliar syllables. "Are you sad, Daddy John? Why are you crying?"
"Not sad," John answered, holding out his arms so the little boy could throw himself into them like he clearly wanted to. "Never sad."
Somehow he stumbled to his feet with Harry still in his arms. Despite still being small and light for his age, a four year old boy was still no easy matter to pick up. John managed anyway, and then stumbled towards the apparition that had haunted these last hours. Sherlock looked rather worried as they moved towards him, as he should be, John thought. He probably deserved a punch to his face after making John watch that as he did. What he got was an arm thrown desperately around him, Harry squished between them as John pulled his family close. Even Sophie joined them, swooping down to land on Sherlock's shoulder.
"I had to jump," Sherlock said, his lips by John's ear. "They were watching. They had to see me jump."
"Now…I was going to go after them. They went after my family. They went after you. I was going to…Moriarty is gone, but his network is still there. I was going to tear it down, strand by strand, puzzle by puzzle, until it was burned away."
"You were going to leave us," John answered. "You were going to leave us and play his games and run around solving crimes without me. Without us."
Sherlock could not possibly have understood how sharp that word could be, or surely he'd never have let it fall from his lips.
"But I couldn't. I…the stupid Remember Book and…your face and…it shouldn't have mattered because it needed to be done but it did and…Mycroft always said caring wasn't an advantage. I hate proving him right."
"Well, good thing then that you proved him wrong," John answered. "So now what? We go home?"
"No. We can't, not yet. I told you, they were going to kill you if I didn't jump, and they're still there."
"Wait…what? You said they went after us, you didn't say…"
"No dying," a high pitched voice ordered from between them. "Rule five."
"Rule five is that I'm supposed to call you Harry," Sherlock answered, his voice revealing his utter confusion.
"Rule five two," Harry decided. "No dying."
"How about we make that rule 5B," John suggested.
"You are both being ridiculous," Sherlock answered. Slowly, gently, he pulled out of John's arms and guided them to the sofa where they could sit in a huddle but still have some breathing space to themselves.
"So where are we going?" John asked. "Are we just staying here until it's safe?"
"No," Sherlock answered. "We're moving to a safe house outside of the country while Mycroft's people go after the web. Of course they aren't me, but if he sends out enough of them they might make up for it. We'll be back in a year. Maybe two."
"…two years. Living away from home. While all our friends think you're dead. While Greg and Mrs. Hudson and the Bones and the Weasleys and the Longbottoms think you're dead. And what are they going to think about me and Harry? Are we supposed to play dead too?"
"Of course not. You're overcome by grief and moved away to deal with it."
"…No. No, we aren't doing that to all our friends. There has to be another way."
"There was another way. It involved me playing dead for a year or two while I took down Moriarty's web and you and Sherry stayed safe in London."
"No dying," Harry interjected yet again, his voice stern. Sophie hooted softly as though to agree.
"Until the snipers are taken care of then?" Sherlock suggested. John, despite a very deep desire to stomp his foot as if he were the one who was four years old and scream at Sherlock until he understood how horrible it had been to watch him jump, how horrible it would be for their friends if they let it play out like Sherlock suggested, had to acknowledge that Sherlock did have a point. No one else was going to die because of Moriarty. He wasn't going to win.
"So, where are we going?" John asked. "Just for a short while, mind you. I'll give you a month, and you better have things sorted by then."
"My grandmother's house," Sherlock answered. "She's excited to meet you and Sherry; you'll be lucky if she lets us go after one month." He was grinning gleefully and obviously fully convinced that he had won the argument and that everything was now fine. John most definitely was going to inform him, preferably when Harry was no longer snuggled between them, exactly why his choice to pretend to kill himself was most definitely not 'fine'. But for the moment, he was slightly distracted.
"I admit her house may be a bit boring," Sherlock went on, "But it does have bees. And there's a glutinic society nearby, though I only recently learned to recognize it for what it is; I believe the local flora is popular in glutinic chemistry. How's your French?"
"French?" It rather showed that, despite Sherlock's easy demeanor, he was still rather unsettled himself as he didn't even roll his eyes at the way John was simply repeating everything he said.
"Mamie doesn't know much English," he explained.
"Are we going home?" Harry asked suddenly, his voice startling as they had thought he had been falling asleep. Sherlock looked slightly perturbed; how to explain to a four year old that he was about to be uprooted yet again? So it was John who leaned over him to answer, his voice gentle and his lips smiling.
"We are home. We're together, so we're home. No matter where we live."
Author's Note: I am going to officially declare this story finished. Yes, I know there are loose ends that I didn't explore. You can probably assume that Remus joins them, probably Mary as well. Is she the Mary from the show? Possibly. Is she going to double cross them? Possibly. You can also probably assume that trouble will find them, no matter Sherlock's intentions to stay out of the dismantling of the web. How long do they have to stay away? I don't know. Where did a grandmother suddenly pop up from? From virtue of this being an AU; Sherlock's parents may or may not be alive but I've given him a living grandmother. I realize she'd have to be quite old, but then again, perhaps she's a grandmother to Sherlock in the same sense that Mrs. Hudson is a 'grandmother' to Harry, so perhaps she isn't so old. Or maybe she's just aged well. Will Sherlock realize Sirius is innocent and free him long before Harry starts school? Maybe. Do they all live more or less happily as a family despite the dangers and arguments? Most definitely. I hope you've enjoyed the story as it's written. I may even visit the story from time to time for quick one-shots and answer some of these questions. In fact, I've already written one, featuring almost eleven year old Harry. But I won't be writing more here. This is The End.