A/N: As promised. (Go, me!) I think there are one or two more chapters to this, unless y'all have some awesome needs or suggestions I have yet to fill.
A/N2: I just edited a little, as kookookarli was brave enough to ask questions, which served to remind me that not everyone is likely to be clued in to the finer points of DP. This chapter has no real limes or lemons, but the allusions are all over the place! Thank you, kookookarli, and I'm sorry for the confusion.
Blessed Be & Happy Reading!
FROM CHAPTER 9: INTO THE LIMELIGHT – Weary Weasley
Sending a somewhat pained grin down at his unconscious patient, Healer Ron Weasley muttered with reluctant amusement, "At least this time I know why I felt all that. With this happening for years surrounded by dozens of adolescents – especially 'Shameless' Finnegan – in the Gryffindor dorms, no wonder I was such a confused, horny mess. But damn, Harry, if you're picking this up so strongly already through the bond, I pity you when all three of you finally hook up completely. Poor kid."
At 4:30 a.m., the third time Ron was waving his wand for this particular task, he wasn't quite as amused, although he was definitely impressed. He hoped his friend was ready for what was … err…. coming.
Because it seemed that, in addition to a remarkable refractory period for non-magicals above the age of twenty-eight, the Holmes men definitely had stamina.
CHAPTER 10: YOU CAN'T EAT JUST ONE
Almost two days later found all three men awake, alert, refreshed, fed at least twice and united in the morning's effort of fending off a confusing (to Harry) number of smirks over breakfast from Ron Weasley before literally shoving the snickering healer out the door. Sherlock and Mycroft, geniuses that they were, had a very good idea why the empath kept breaking into entertained grins in their presence. It was especially evident when Harry poured a mug of tea for Sherlock and innocently asked, "Cream?", to which Ron replied dryly, "Oh, repeatedly!" He smiled blandly as his friend looked at his askance while Sherlock rolled his eyes. This time it was Mycroft who did the surprising thing when he cut a second slice of fresh sin-bread, plated it and slid it in front of the redhead, saying urbanely, "I have recently learned that you can't eat just one."
The Holmeses shared vastly amused, smug grins when the healer's head dropped to the counter so that Ron could crack up without danger of sliding to the floor. It only got worse when all three men caught sight of Harry's bewildered expression, which swiftly changed to annoyance when three of the four supposed grown-ups in the room dissolved into juvenile giggles. He could have demanded an explanation, but his instincts were screaming at him to shut up and remain ignorant.
He obeyed, and chose instead to dispossess his best friend of his bar stool in a most emphatic manner. Typical of the redhead, Ron elected to hit the floor abruptly rather than risk any damage to his sin-bread, arm wrapped protectively around the plate all the way down. Nonchalantly regaining his feet, he waved his wand over his posterior to ease the bruising and then sauntered toward the door, saying over his shoulder, "You may want to learn that particular healing charm, Harry. I have a feeling it's going to come in handy in the very near future." After that, both Sherlock and Mycroft propelled him into the hall with such momentum that he nearly choked on the sin-bread he had just popped into his mouth. Slamming the door after him, they all heard his sputtering chuckles as he stampeded down the stairs, off to meet with the surviving Creevey brother for an empathic therapy session.
And to deliver Harry's latest restraining order. Colin liked to frame them, and although most of his home was decorated with a wide assortment of subpoenas and protective orders, the walls of his den were lined with his collection from Harry.
Settling down, the three talked quietly and took the time to appreciate just being together without a crisis pulling on their attention. Mycroft had been put on three days forced vacation through the combined powers of Betsy and Anthea, much to Sherlock and Harry's amusement. Despite his affronted look, the British Government didn't actually seem to mind overmuch, as long as he was still allowed to send and receive texts and do a little paperwork.
At the moment, he was doing the latter, sitting with elegant grace in the comfortable, wingbacked chair-and-a-half Harry had placed near the window just a few days after he moved in. Although he said nothing about it, both Mycroft and Sherlock suspected that Harry had brought the chair in specifically for Mycroft. Sherlock, of course, was familiar with Mycroft's preference to sit in a comfortable reading chair when he did his more casual work, but Harry had no such excuse. Unless one considered the possibility that the wizard had observed a lot about Mycroft Holmes during the mundane's many visits to WTW and the MOM. Rather than embarrass Harry, who both men had noticed was not comfortable being thanked or complimented (the latter condition of which they were especially determined to change through repeated exposure), Mycroft showed his appreciation through frequent use of 'his' chair. Over the days that followed the chair's arrival, other changes occurred in Harry's home. The small table that had been next to Mycroft's chair was quietly replaced with a larger, square table that had an extendable top, with a cabinet and drawers below. A multi-intensity floor lamp with directional lighting appeared just where Mycroft needed it most. A comfortable hassock also made an entrance, and Sherlock – observing the unobtrusive hinges on the side – discovered that it opened up to reveal a filing drawer within.
Sherlock was not left out, either. With no fuss at all, the original couch somehow lengthened and curved slightly, while the end Sherlock preferred also developed a chaise extension that enabled the detective to extend his long legs or to draw his knees to his chest without struggling to keep his feet on the edge of the cushion. After one particularly long think-session, when Sherlock unfolded and winced slightly at the crick in his neck, the back of the couch developed the silhouette of a long wave, with the crest exactly where Sherlock's head would rest as he contemplated. Once again, a small end table disappeared, this time to be replaced with a beautiful cabinet that was specifically crafted to house a violin and sheet music, while the built-in lamp had an extendable arm that served as a music-stand.
Each brother had also discovered that their particular, favorite pieces of furniture also worked very well in groups of two or more. As with the other little accommodations, they enthusiastically explored this aspect, as well, with a flushed wizard as their favorite enhancement of all.
Even better than their personal furniture (at least when they were seated alone) was the fact that the large cabinet in the corner of the room opened to reveal a pensieve-library, filled with stored memories ranging from personal moments to historical events. Through it and the beautiful, sapphire-and-gold House of Potter pensieve, the Holmes brothers viewed numerous events that had long fascinated or puzzled them. Watching the rescue efforts for the survivors of the Titanic and the Lusitania was heartwrenching when seen through the eyes of a nurse who had served on – and survived – both ships. Viewing the creation and signing of the Magna Carta through dozens of memories over several days had been an extraordinary experience. Determining for themselves precisely who shot the American President JFK through the memories of numerous bystanders was immensely satisfying.
Then again, watching the blustery, 1969 Beatles' farewell concert on the rooftop of their Savile Row Apple headquarters from the perspective of the occupants of a nearby roof was invigorating in a different way. Sherlock amused his companions with an ongoing, scathing critique of the police who arrived to break it up due to the noise, and resolved to torment the Beatles-mad Greg LeStrade with the experience. His offhand question later to Harry as to whether Greg would be allowed to watch any pensieve memories – "perhaps for a birthday or some such rot" – had both Harry and Mycroft pulling him close for a kiss or two. Sherlock really could be remarkably sweet, so long as no one was looking.
And so, Harry's place slowly evolved into being their place, made comfortably large through the open arched doorway leading into Sherlock and John's flat; although, that was – at least half the time – more John and Greg's than Sherlock and John's. The kitchen in Sherlock's flat became the lab, and it was Harry's kitchen that fed the masses. Seeing the contentment on their little wizard's face whenever one of the four other men came sniffing around whatever Harry was cooking assured them all that they were not taking unfair advantage of their emerald-eyed chef.
Still, they all enthusiastically complimented the cook and tried to help him clean up. After several times when Harry could not find his favorite utensil or pan, he banned everyone from his kitchen (barring drinks and snacks). The first time a guiltridden John tried to wash the dishes and found himself once again floating around the room, the men got the message. Harry did explain, quite helpfully, that he had built protections into his kitchen that would recreate the most disturbing experience each man had with magic – hence, John's impromptu flight. After that, a bright-eyed John kept trying to lure a shuddering Greg into doing Harry's dishes, each sharing vivid memories of - but dissimilar reactions to – the time Greg found himself wearing fishnets and vinyl skirt. He did explain to a snickering Sherlock that it wasn't so much the vinyl skirt that bothered him as it was the fuck-me pumps. His legs had hurt for days.
Of course, he turned down Harry's offer to modify the outfit with leather hip boots, to John's clear disappointment.
Before the final incident with Moriarty, Mycroft had always returned to his home at night, although he had successfully managed to get over to Harry's several times a week, even if it was only for afternoon tea. After the incident, however, he was much more rarely at his own place. Many of his clothes migrated to Sherlock's and were stored in a wardrobe – locked and magically coded to only open for Mycroft – in Sherlock's bedroom. The brothers were slowly, carefully seducing their skittish little love, but had not yet moved much beyond some truly epic snogging sessions. Somehow, they were able to gauge Harry's reticence and relative inexperience, deducing a lot of it and sensing much through the charms and bond. Harry was not ready, not yet. Still, that did not keep Sherlock and Mycroft from expanding on their own relationship, and the brothers were now comfortable with the shocking turn their lives had made.
Worries about John and Greg's reaction were addressed one Tuesday night, when a completely knackered Mycroft had actually stumbled into the flat after three, solid days and nights of managing some international incident or another. Considering the man's unrelentingly impeccable appearance and impressive control over his own demeanor regardless of the circumstances, Mycroft's loosened tie and slightly ruffled hair stunned the doctor and the cop. Harry, however, had exchanged one quick, telling glance with Sherlock, and immediately started to make a much-needed dinner for the weary British Government while Sherlock moved to his brother's side. Without sparing even a glance at the other pair, Sherlock had set to work, tugging away Mycroft's attaché case and umbrella, stripping off his brother's suitcoat, vest, tie and cufflinks, unbuttoning the top two buttons of the fine, white shirt and rolling up the sleeves to a comfortable relaxation. Pushing Mycroft into 'his' chair, Sherlock gracefully dropped to the floor and removed his brother's shoes and socks, setting them aside and then, most shocking of all to the two gaping observers, began to carefully and expertly massage Mycroft's feet. Within minutes, Mycroft was dozing, forced past exhaustion into relaxation by his brother's ministrations.
Harry had then moved quietly into the room, settling next to Mycroft on the extra-wide chair and setting a mug of tea on the table before temptingly waving a bowl of savory beef stew beneath Mycroft's nose, sharing a slightly worried grin with Sherlock as he did so. The aroma won, at least temporarily, over Mycroft's need for sleep, as his stomach growled and reminded him that he had not actually eaten more than a biscuit here and there in over a day. Eyes half-open and fingers somewhat clumsy with weariness, Mycroft carefully accepted the bowl and began to eat, proving his unfailing gentlemanliness by offering a slightly-slurred thanks. He ate slowly and with the exaggerated care of the truly exhausted, pausing to moan in appreciation occasionally whenever Sherlock's clever fingers would work on a particularly stubborn bit of tension in his feet or calves.
It was Harry who sent a look of pure challenge over to the still-stunned John and Gregory, who were slumped together on 'Harry's section' of the long couch. John met that look levelly, allowing Harry to see all there was to be seen in the good doctor's eyes. He had already observed the kiss between the two brothers at the hangar and wasn't blind to their growing closeness to each other or to Harry. Frankly, he didn't give a fat damn about proprieties; if anything in life made sense, it was these three men together.
Gregory, perhaps seeing the tension in Sherlock's shoulders as he faced away from the couch and massaged Mycroft's feet, merely observed Sherlock's efforts on the long, elegant feet in his lap and commented helpfully, "That works better when you add a little tongue."
John's immediate flush and vehement punch to the DI's arm brought the laughter Greg had been aiming for, and the remaining tension drained from the room along with Mycroft's remaining consciousness. Handing over the half-eaten bowl of stew to Greg, who promptly finished it, Harry then levitated Mycroft to his and Sherlock's bed and turned to leave. He was only slightly delayed … well, considerably delayed … by Sherlock's determined efforts to lick Harry's tonsils, insisting it was a valid, scientific experiment.
When a wildly flushed and trembling Harry fled their room, Sherlock looked over at his brother and smirked at Mycroft's sleepy stare and slurred compliment on technique and diversionary tactics. Sherlock just replied haughtily, "I've no clue as to your meaning, brother. I was simply conducting necessary tests to prove out a hypothesis." He set about tugging and pulling off Mycroft's shirt, singlet and trousers as Mycroft clumsily attempted to assist, or at least cooperate. Sherlock simply slapped away his brother's hands and continued with his task, snorting in amused agreement when Mycroft muttered, "Tonsil licking … will definitely require … a progressive series of trials before you succeed…. May even need a … control scenario… and a comparative series run by a… close colleague…" His heavy eyes closed compliantly and a small smile lifted his well-formed lips when Sherlock dropped a gentle kiss between his brows and murmured gruffly, "Shut up and go to sleep, genius."
After that, there was a relaxed acceptance shared among the five men that managed to soothe and comfort them all. No judgments were made, for or by any of them. Here, within these walls, was sanctuary.
A few days later saw Harry joining Sherlock and John at yet another crime scene. This one, to Sherlock's disgust, was an open-and-shut case. He spent roughly two minutes studying the overwhelmingly pink candy store and its wildly-scattered contents, ignoring the woeful wails of the store's pink-clad owner, and noted various details that meant nothing to most of those watching. On the floor in the middle of the store was the body of the owner's daughter, a plump young woman with stringy, dyed black hair, black lipstick and nail polish, and a piercing through her eyebrow. She wore the pink dress uniform and shoes of an employee of the store, and twisted around her swollen throat was a thin, spiked-metal chain, digging into the now-swollen tissue and causing a slim but vicious slice in her throat from which multiple, little streams of blood had flowed to form a puddle around her upper torso and soak into her hair. Her face was puffy with strangulation, her heavily-made-up eyes were clouded and staring, and traces of foamy saliva had dried on her cheek and chin.
Sherlock had looked briefly but carefully, those clear, blue-slate eyes missing nothing, and then rose to his considerable height to cast a sweeping gaze around the room, focusing intently on the display cases of the expensive sweets. He then turned to leave, obviously done, and declared in his remarkable baritone drawl, "Suicide."
Anderson, predictably, had a meltdown, complete with sneering and insults as to Sherlock's IQ, parentage and – with a meaningful, vulgar smirk at Harry – sexuality. Despite LeStrade's temporary absence from the scene, Anderson did not use any slurs, apparently having learned from his ex-lover's experience, but his venomous diatribe was otherwise breathtaking. Through it all, Sherlock ignored him, focusing instead on Harry's eyes, which had begun to glow ever-so-slightly the more Anderson spewed. Rather than risk betraying Harry's rage to the assembled cops, Sherlock stared meaningfully directly into the nearest CCTV camera, which had of course swiveled to follow them the instant they entered the store, and intentionally sent a very strong pulse of worry through his brother-bond as he crowded somewhat close to Harry to press a warning hand on the young man's arm.
Mycroft's immediate, reassuring pulse back down the bond made Sherlock draw a relieved breath. His brother was on his way, ready to help him calm Harry, and now Sherlock could focus on containing the situation. Over the past weeks, Anderson had been deliberately pushing Harry every time he saw him at Sherlock's side, poking and prodding like a nasty, little kid pulling the wings off of flies. Both Sherlock and Mycroft had noticed that their little wizard was definitely losing patience with the man's behavior, and worked together to keep Harry calm and controlled enough to refrain from blasting the rodent-faced cop through a building. Gregory, too, was aware of the problem and had warned Anderson more than once to contain himself or accept the consequences from one or both of the Holmes men.
They, of course, didn't give a damn about Anderson. They just didn't want for Harry to lose control and betray magic irretrievably, barring Betsy's Merlinic solution. Obliviating a nation could definitely lead to complications.
Sherlock cast a warning glance over to Greg, who was just entering the scene from having escorted the hysterical mother over to an ambulance. The DI's eyes narrowed as he caught part of Anderson's rant, and his sharply-barked order for silence actually caused Anderson to jump slightly as he whirled to face his boss. Paling under LeStrade's cold stare, Anderson immediately began whining defensively, "It's not what it seems like, boss! The fr….uh….'consulting detective' over there says this is a suicide. Like anyone's going to buy that tripe! I'm a fucking forensics expert, and I can clearly see the signs of murder. Hell, my first 'clue' is the garrote around her neck!"
Harry's glare moved from slightly-glowing to brightly-glowing. In reaction, Sherlock calmly reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of aviator sunglasses, tucking them gently onto Harry's nose and behind his ears while murmuring quietly, "Control, Love." Sherlock was doubly-rewarded, first by Harry's deep sigh and nod of thanks, and second by the sight of a familiar, shiny black car pulling up on the blocked-off street. He took a brief moment to tilt his head toward the car, directing Harry's attention, while they both enjoyed the sight of the elegant, graceful, impeccable, and thoroughly intimidating Mycroft Holmes emerging from the vehicle, umbrella firmly in his grip.
"Sherlock, perhaps you can explain all of this before you and Harry pop-off to lunch?" LeStrade said drily behind him. Standing off to the side, Anderson looked like he was going to blow a blood vessel any minute.
Sherlock wished he could prolong Anderson's torture, but his priority was unquestionably with his angry little wizard and the white knight who had just ridden in via a shiny, black car. Sighing dramatically, he painstakingly explained for the tiny minds in the room – of which he did not include Gregory. "The girl was allergic to peanuts. She hated her life. Adolescent, angsty, obviously rebelling against her controlling mother. Goth tendencies forced to conform to a soft-pink, Barbie existence. The chain was already there, a home-made choke-style fashion piece; the twist is downward and tucked under, clearly done by herself. It sliced her throat when she went into anaphylactic shock and her airways swelled and closed. Despite the broad selection of chocolate candies with peanuts, only the Death by Chocolate case is empty. All the other listed items are fully and freshly stocked, suggesting that the girl consumed a large quantity of candies that were deadly to her. There is no sign of a struggle, nothing conduce to a seemingly healthy young woman being suffocated or garroted by another party. The salival foam on her face contains traces of chocolate, and there are smears on her lips and her fingers. She killed herself by eating a large amount of peanuts. Clever. Not dull at all, for an adolescent. No doubt the choice of candies is a message to her mother, who clearly forced the girl to work here; had she wished to work here, the girl would have removed her 'goth' accoutrements for her shift. We are done."
He turned to greet Mycroft, who was now standing at Harry's side, debonair and charming as ever. Blue-slate eyes met slate-blue, and volumes of information were exchanged without anyone but Harry ever even realizing it. True, their little wizard felt some of it through the bond, but it was also true that there were three geniuses in the vicinity, and Harry was definitely one.
Typically, it was Anderson, bitter over yet another defeat by Sherlock-fucking-Holmes, who forced another scene in the hopes of making trouble. "Oh, look. It's the genius and his genius brother, together at last. Both of you seem unusually fond of that pretty young man there, Holmes. That's completely okay, of course; homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, after all," he sneered insincerely. Feeling Harry tense again, Sherlock had the unusual desire to actually punch the pestilent cop. "Is he dating you both? What, does he swap out? Or are you competing for his attention?" Seeing the trio of men begin to glare at him, and nearly ecstatic at his success in rattling the insufferable Sherlock Holmes, Anderson gleefully took it one step too far, "Or are you all just dating each other?"
He barely had time to register the cold threat in the double pair of grayish-blue eyes that stared at him from either side of the twink in sunglasses before DI LeStrade's icy voice popped his happy bubble. "So, you really liked what happened to Donovan, then, did you, Anderson?" Turning carefully, Anderson glanced up at his pissed-off boss and gulped. He quickly replayed what he'd just said and got a sinking feeling in his gut. Shite. He had definitely gone too far.
Once again learning from Donovan's mistakes, Anderson immediately turned back to the three, frozen men and began his apology. "That was stupid. Really stupid, and completely insulting, and just …. wrong of me. I'm really sorry. I apologize to you both, of course, but mostly I apologize to you, sir." He looked cautiously at the petite, black-haired man, and flinched slightly as the eyes hidden behind the sunglasses seemed to glow in the weird, noonday sun. "Detective Inspector LeStrade, I know I was completely out of line. I won't do it again, sir." Anderson was feeling a little frozen himself, caught in the icy stares of his enemy, his enemy's brother, and their … what? Love interest? Fucktoy? Whatever the young man was to the Holmeses, even Anderson knew he had better not try to make it his business again. That way lay unemployment, and – judging from the definite sense of threat coming off the men – possibly a serious beating followed by death.
With that happy thought, he swallowed hard and tried again. "Listen, I get it. I implied something worse than homosexuality; I implied … um … incest. Honestly, I'd never think that. No one thinks that. I was just pissed and mouthy and really, really stupid. I'm sorry!"
Going strictly from the increased weight of the silence, he should really have shut up right after his first 'I'm sorry.' Again, shite!
Just as his boss was about to speak, no doubt to condemn Anderson to another fun-filled week or two of driving a desk, the young man removed his sunglasses and trapped the rodent-faced cop in a piercing, emerald gaze that seemed – unnatural. Somehow unable to move or talk, Anderson watched warily as the deceptively small man paced forward, pausing only when he was directly in front of the mouthy cop. The Holmes brothers stalked right along beside him.
Standing there, staring him down, Anderson was suddenly very aware of the condemnatory silence by his fellow cops and his own boss. Whatever was going to happen now, they were obviously choosing to just be observers until the full-up forensics team arrived and activity resumed on the crime scene – well, the suicide scene. He hated it, but odds were pretty much certain that Holmes was right, as always.
. . . . . .
Harry studied the nervous man in front of him. He wasn't particularly attractive, and whatever appeal he may have had was sullied by the unpleasant expression the cop habitually wore. He did not interest Harry at all – except that he was trouble. And Harry Potter, although he kept a very low profile, was extraordinarily well-equipped to deal with trouble.
Neither Mycroft nor Sherlock had yet told anyone else, including Harry, about Betsy's offer. They did not want to pressure their littlest love into a relationship with them – although, if it seemed like a last resort, they unquestionably would do so, and then work to make it up to him. It was vitally important to them to give Harry a chance to grow fully into this triad, eyes open and heart willing, and so all Harry knew was that the little rodent he was glaring at had endangered his – men? – by hinting at incest. And, although Harry was certainly capable of obliviating everyone here, he preferred not to. After all, the situation would not go away just because one memory of it was gone.
Cocking his head slightly to the side, Harry fixed the shifting man with a gimlet stare and set to work. "Anderson, is it? Your name is Anderson?" At the cop's nod, he continued, "So, you just said a few things that, apart from the fact that you were actually accusing my friends and I, struck me as interesting. You're clearing only paying lip service to the official position on homosexuality. You really dislike gays, am I correct?"
Anderson immediately began to dissemble, and Harry cut him off before he could dig another hole. "Stop. How about this? For the purposes of debate, I will not press any kind of charges against you for bigoted statements, nor will my friends. LeStrade? You agree?"
Startled, Greg looked first to the men next to Harry. Catching slight nods of agreement, he frowned slightly but said reluctantly, "Fine. For, say, the next fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, so long as no slurs are used or anything illegal happens. Say what you want to say, Anderson. Consider this your one and only chance to get this off your chest."
Anderson stared closely at his boss for long seconds, before he nodded slowly and said with satisfied malice, "So be it. I'll say what I want to say, and nobody writes me up for it? Sounds perfect." He spat the last word out like a dart, and turned to look at the man in front of him. "What do I call you, anyway?"
Harry's lips twisted in a slight sneer. "You mean, apart from fag, queer, pillow-biter, twink, etc.? My name is Harry Potter. Try some variation of that."
Anderson just sneered back and said, "In answer to your question? I loathe you people. Homosexuality is disgusting and wrong." He glared defiantly at the three men, and noted with mixed-emotions that the Holmes men were apparently willing to take a wait-and-see approach and let the green-eyed catamite handle it for them.
Harry's voice was clinical and unemotional. "Why? What's wrong with it? What authority declares it wrong?"
Anderson raised his chin belligerently. "The BIBLE says! And whaddaya mean 'what's wrong with it'? You can't have kids together, so it's wrong – obviously!"
"Really? Let's take that one point at a time. We can't have kids together. True. So, only people who can procreate together should have sex?"
Anderson sensed a trap. "Theoretically. You should at least be able to, anyway."
Harry's small smile was patently false. "Ah. So, every person in the world should reproduce?"
"Of course not!" Anderson exploded. "That would be incredibly stupid, like this argument!"
Green eyes were unimpressed. "So, not everyone should reproduce. But those who have sex, should reproduce?"
Anderson just glared.
"No to that one, too, then. So, in your opinion thus far, homosexuality is wrong because gays can't have babies when they have sex, so they shouldn't have sex, even though everyone else in the world is allowed to have sex and also not have babies. … hmmm …. Gosh, that sounds … fair." The skepticism in the young voice was painful, and Anderson reflexively winced but kept stubbornly silent. "Moving on! I think we can agree that your first argument is moot. So, your second argument – the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. That implies that the Bible is a good authority on societal rules? Would you agree with that?"
Anderson knew all about this particular trap. "The Bible is a guideline from God. We should try to obey its rules. And YES, Sherlock, I know adultery is wrong! My bad!" he snapped angrily.
Once again, Harry's smile was cold. "So, you also agree that men should beat their wives? And that God doesn't love women much at all?"
At this, Anderson just stared, bewildered, before stammering, "What? What the Hell are you talking about? NO, men shouldn't beat their wives! I am a cop, you know! And why would God not love women? What are you playing at, Potter?"
By now, everyone was listening closely. This had started as a way to watch Anderson get humiliated, but it was beginning to get interesting on its own merits. They waited quietly for the composed young man's answer.
"Anderson, you may want to revisit your beloved Bible a little before you continue to spew its graces. No matter what the book may or may not have been originally, or what it represents now, it has been edited heavily by bigoted, prejudiced men through the centuries. And, if you don't believe me, take a good look at the history of the phrase 'rule of thumb'. People use it all the time. You know where it came from originally? Your beloved Bible. Yeah, it was originally used in the Bible to describe the maximum thickness of the rod or stick a man was allowed to use to beat his wife with. It wasn't supposed to be any thicker than the husband's thumb."
Now, Anderson was staring along with all of the other listeners. Was that true? You could bet your ass he'd be looking it up real damn soon. "What about the other thing? That God doesn't like women, or whatever. What was that about?"
Here, Harry scowled. "It was one of the modifications by a particularly misogynistic pope and cardinal – around the Middle Ages, I believe. The Bible declared that women were last in God's love, behind cattle and oxen." He smiled darkly at the shocked crowd, and added, "Of course, that was around the same time when devoted Christians buried women who had died in childbirth or from rape in unhallowed ground, next to their rapists and murderers. Also, if they died while menstruating. They were sinners, too, you see. Unclean. According to the leading religious leaders of that era, anyway."
Anderson gathered his scattered thoughts and tried to pull them all back on track. "That is NOT the point, but thanks for the history lesson, kid. We were talking about fa… err… homosexuals." He was not comforted by all of the teeth in Harry's smile.
"Yes, we were. And you cited the Bible, and subsequently those who administer the Bible, as definitive sources of authority on what is right or wrong for this era. My point, Anderson, is that these so-called authorities are fallible, and have always been so. I do not disparage anyone's faith, so long as one lives a life that truly serves a living conscience, but to blindly obey any leader, religious or otherwise, is dangerous. It is logical to believe that if the religious leaders and guidebook of the Middle Ages was wrong about advocating domestic abuse and misogyny, those of the present day can also be wrong about some of their supposed certainties, too. Can you concede that, or will you choose bullheadedness over grace – any version of grace you like?" Harry stared piercingly into the man's eyes, willing him to think.
After a long moment of silence, Anderson let out an explosive breath and said grudgingly, "Okay. I can see your point. Don't mean I like homosexuals." He even grinned a little when Harry said promptly, "It doesn't mean you have to. I don't much like bigots, but I'll accept your right to believe as you choose, so long as you can actually say you have done so thoughtfully and not as a member of the sheeple."
Thinking they were done, Anderson started to turn away, wondering if he should extend his hand to the young man who had defused the situation. He was taken aback when Harry then continued with the debate, "Moving on again, Anderson. Not done yet!" Harry's teasing grin was returned somewhat unwillingly by the resigned cop.
"What? You wanna make me question my fashion choices now?" the snide comment was offered with a half-grin, successfully removing any sting Anderson's words may have delivered.
Once again, Harry's smile had extra teeth. "Not at all; brown is the new ugly, you know!" Small laughs were heard around the area, as everyone stared at yet another brown suit and brown tie worn by the unpleasant forensics expert. "No, you had two specific accusations against my friends and me, Anderson, and I would be remiss if we didn't debate them both. So, let's talk about incest, shall we?"
Anderson just stared in disbelief. He was not alone. Surely, this kid wasn't about to defend that? Taking in the cleverness in the green eyes, Anderson shook his head and accepted that, yes, he was. Saying nothing, he just waved his hands in a gesture for Harry to continue. This ought to be good.
"So, incest is bad. A sin, right? Go to Hell for it and all that?" Harry's ingenuousness was patently fake. Anderson just nodded dumbly. Where was this going, now?
Green eyes laughed at him. "But, you're a Christian! Yet, you say incest is a Hell-worthy sin. How does that work? Talk about contradictory!"
Now, Anderson was getting mad, along with several other witnesses to their debate. "You better have a damn good explanation, Potter. Sounds like you're saying Christians are incestuous!" He was grinding his teeth around the words.
Once again, the young man was completely calm and rational. "Not at all. I'm saying your ancestors were." A little grin of anticipation played around the tempting mouth.
The mouth Anderson was really wishing he could punch right now. "Fuck you!" he bellowed. "What the Hell? You take the piss when I'm a little prejudiced, then you say this?" He was breathing so hard he sounded like a bull – or like Vernon when he tried to hurry.
Harry leaned forward a little, his eyes now cold and analytical. "You believe in the stories of the Old Testament, Anderson? Creation theory? Adam, Lilith, Eve? And The Great Flood? Noah and his family?"
Not catching the point, Anderson just nodded, before hastily snapping, "Yeah, except for whoever this Lilith is supposed to be."
Behind Harry, Sherlock and Mycroft exchanged definitely amused glances. Harry went for the kill. "Fine. So, instead of admitting there were three people in your proverbial Garden of Eden, you want to keep it at two. So be it, although it actually skews the argument even further toward my point. Tell me, Anderson, who did Adam & Eve's children mate with? And who did their grandchildren mate with? There was no one else in the world, right? So … what? Did they spontaneously bud? Clone? Or did the parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers all have sex with each other? WHO did they beget all those people with, Anderson?" He was now glaring into the cop's face, daring him to find an answer that didn't admit the truth of Harry's argument. Sickened, Anderson just stared back, jaw clenched. After a moment, Harry then said softly, "And let's look at the Great Flood. Only Noah's family was left, and only two of each animal. Which means, they had to start it all over again. By your own beliefs, Anderson, the entire world's populations – all of them – started with incest. Twice."
The long, heavy silence was broken by the arrival of the coroner's van. Slowly, the thoughtful men and women of the Met went back to work, doing what Harry most wanted of them – thinking.
Exchanging a proud look with his brother, Sherlock sent a quick nod at Greg, who was smirking as he waved Anderson back to his duties, then followed Mycroft and Harry into the waiting car. The second the door with its wonderful, tinted windows slammed shut, Mycroft and Sherlock attacked. Watching their littlest love use pure logic and icy debate to take apart one of the most bigoted men they knew was intensely arousing. Sherlock, who had been dosed once or twice with professional-grade aphrodisiac as part of an experiment, knew that none of his prior experiences would or could ever come close to the intense reaction he had to their little wizard.
Mycroft, who had seized Harry's mouth in his own the second it dropped open in surprise at the ambush, was equally aroused. The demonstration of Harry's intellect had nearly undone him, and it was all he could do to keep himself under control until the door shut behind them.
'God, Harry is perfect!' Once again, the brothers' bond paid host to the odd synchrony of the Holmeses, as each moaned the same, exalted opinion at the same time.
Harry, lost in the sudden assault of touch and tongue and sensuality of two, aroused geniuses, had no opinion about his own intellect. He had no opinion about anything, really. All he could manage to think, apart from a heartfelt 'WOW' was ….
Nope. That pretty much covered it all.
After that incredible car ride, Harry was left with no doubt at all regarding what his men wanted (him and each other) and how much they wanted it (enough for Harry to find himself unexpectedly writhing and shuddering beneath the extremely-coordinated efforts of two geniuses with unbelievably talented mouths and the will to use them).
One unfortunate (for him) consequence of that event was his inability to look at any of the nameless, faceless drivers of Mycroft's fleet of luxurious black cars without blushing fiercely and stammering a little. Upon discovering this, and due entirely to their deep and abiding concern for Harry's wellbeing and having nothing at all to do with their delight in a blushing Harry, both Mycroft and Sherlock began insisting that Harry be driven absolutely everywhere he wanted to go.
It was the least they could do.
The relationship between the three men was a little more open now. Having successfully taken their littlest love through another phase of their seduction, the brothers were not about to relent. Subsequently, Harry often found himself sitting on someone's lap rather than the couch, or attempting to cook while his neck was being nibbled, or accepting a tea mug from a hand that immediately stroked down his arm and across his chest and … Yeah. Harry was not lonely.
He was also not complaining.
Neither Holmes missed the fact that their little tempter was opening like a flower in bloom beneath their combined, increased attentions. He did not behave as many victims of touch deprivation and child abuse do; he did not avoid or retreat from their touch. He moved into their arms like a moth moves to light, but although he was warmed and comforted and sometimes set afire, he was never burned.
Still, they moved forward slowly. Harry was now willingly accepting their deeper caresses, and shyly returning them. One night, Mycroft just watched, captivated, as Sherlock carefully lured Harry step-by-step through a session of frottage that both brothers would both forever recall with lyrical, dreamlike, almost sepia-tones. When the brothers once again tucked their beloved into bed and returned to their own bedroom, Sherlock then gratefully and tenderly took care of Mycroft's insistent arousal. As his breathing slowed afterward, Mycroft found himself on the receiving end of a warm washcloth, wielded by a remarkably soft-eyed Sherlock, who pressed a kiss to his brother's face and murmured in a hushed voice, "Thank you, My. Once again, you let me move first with him. Thank you." Mycroft's only reply was to tug Sherlock down against him and settle into sleep.
It was the only reply that was needed. That night, dreams were sweet, and enhanced through the bond, and both the brothers slept soundly.
The next day, however, started with a bang. Or, more literally, a shriek. From Harry.
The second they felt their love's panic, they were moving. Sherlock, having just rinsed his mouth, threw his toothbrush so hard it stuck like a dart in the bullet-riddled wall, and joined Mycroft in a mad dash through the flat and into Harry's. The sheer horror that Harry was experiencing had them near panic themselves. Together, they burst through the open archway, ready to defend or attack and found …
He was standing in the corner, as if driven there from the pure shock of whatever he had seen. His eyes were wide and staring, one hand was pressed against his mouth and the other was extended in front of him as if warding off danger. He was shuddering visibly, and shaking his head back and forth in horrified negation.
But there was nothing there! No one was attacking. No fire had started anywhere, there were no monsters or demons or madmen in the room. All they saw or sensed was Harry – terrified, horrified, disgusted Harry.
Exchanging confused looks as they tested the charm that was calming slightly and their own, small bond with their delightful wizard, they realized that they were definitely experiencing waves of their littlest love's combined fear and disgust.
Finally, after carefully investigating the empty flat and sensing that Harry was now calm enough to talk a little, Sherlock tentatively asked, "Harry? What happened?" The wizard was still shaking in the corner, the way a person who was afraid of snakes might be if there was a cobra in the room. Or a garden snake.
In answer, Harry's warding hand, still extended, slowly turned and pointed, shakily, at an innocuous piece of paper lying on Mycroft's hassock. Cautiously approaching it, they both realized it was a photograph. A wizarding photograph, as it was moving. Looking more closely, certain they were about to see some version of wizards committing a horrible crime or atrocity, they realized at the same time what they were looking at.
Well. There were definitely wizards.
Picking it up, and ignoring Harry's moan of protest, Sherlock looked at it curiously, before slowly turning it around to try and determine what he was actually seeing. His eyebrows shot upward as he studied the scene. Damn, that was impressive.
Okay, so there were wizards. Naked wizards. At least … what? Three of them? Looking quizzically up at Mycroft, Sherlock tried very hard to steel his expression into an emotionless, or at least a serious, mask. It did not help at all that Mycroft, who had immediately turned his back to Harry to hide his own expression, was fiercely biting his lip and fighting desperately against his own, uncontrollable grin. Glaring at his brother in a rather ineffective attempt to look stern and concerned, Sherlock looked back at the picture and turned it again.
Mycroft snorted. Sherlock kept his stare rigidly locked on the photo in his hands, and willed his shoulders not to shake.
It was definitely three wizards. Two redheads, and one brunette. Natural redheads, at least that much was certain.
Even as the brothers watched the photograph, one naked redhead pulled back while the other thrust forward. Sandwiched between them, the brunette shrieked soundlessly. The look on the brunette's face was of purest ecstasy. Or agony. Hard to tell, actually. Especially from this angle.
At least the redheads looked happy to be there. Still standing with his back determinedly to Harry, Mycroft choked out, "Weasleys. Twins."
"Ah!" Sherlock commented, nodding wisely while trying mightily to concentrate on facts in order to overcome his increasing hilarity. "The masterminds of Weasley Techno-Wizards. A married triad. Fred, George…"
"And NEVILLE!" Harry burst out, his voice shaking. The horror in his voice when he shouted the young man's name had Mycroft dropping his chin to his chest and closing his eyes, struggling for self-control.
Sherlock wasn't doing much better, although his fascinated study of the moving photograph in his hands did help a little. "Harry," Sherlock began slowly, pitching his voice a little lower in the hopes of control its inevitable quavering, "I'm not certain why you have this, but it is a perfectly natural …" He stopped talking abruptly at Harry's appalled stare, and had to pinch himself rather fiercely to keep from bursting into laughter at Harry's frantically stammered, "Nuh-UH! I can barely believe even one would fit, no matter what Hermione's damn book says! Putting two in the same place is … is ….!" Words failed this little wizard, and Sherlock had to bite his lip and pretend to study the area of the photo that most concerned Harry rather than risk losing all composure at Harry's freaked-out expression.
"DROP IT!" Harry ordered hysterically. "Put it down and back away. Oh, Merlin! I'm going to kill them! How could they? Poor Nev. Did you see his face? Did you see his… his….!" Harry's hand wavered worriedly in the general direction of his own rear-end. Shuddering violently as he caught sight of the distinctive movement of the photo, Harry began to inch along the wall toward the kitchen, turning his head away from the photo and moaning, "Oh, Merlin! Please, put it down, Sherlock!"
Mycroft avoided Sherlock's eyes, having finally gotten control over his own face, and nodded to Sherlock. "Perhaps you should put it down, brother. Harry seems to want very much for you not to be touching it." The suppressed laughter in his voice almost broke through Sherlock's careful façade. Rather than accidentally meet Mycroft's eyes, Sherlock dropped his head and placed the photo back on the hassock.
Looking up, they saw that Harry's retreat had gotten him as far as the couch, although he'd had to inch along behind the chair and over the lamp cords to do it. The pure distress on his face as he glared at the photo was heartbreaking.
But mostly heartbreaking.
Both men moved to reach Harry's side, only to leap forward reflexively when Harry raised his shaking hand and sent a burst of absolutely intense flame rocketing to the photo. It was ash in less than a second, although Mycroft's hassock remained untouched.
The overall effect of the normally dignified brothers leaping forward while flame shot out behind them was best left to giggle over another day, as right now Harry was definitely in need of comfort.
"Harry, love?" Mycroft asked, his voice as soothing as he could manage in the circumstances, "How did that get here?" Sherlock, too, was curious about that.
Given something else to think about, Harry began to regain a little composure. Now he looked uncomfortable for a different reason. "Um … well, I just thought maybe you wouldn't mind having a portal-drawer here," he mumbled, eyes downcast in discomfort. "I put it in your side table, and asked Fred & George to test it out by sending something."
Sherlock nodded carefully, hand pressed firmly over his mouth to control the twitching. Mycroft stared resolutely at Harry's left ear, as he surmised in an extremely controlled voice, "And so, you opened the drawer, and they had sent you … that. And it upset you, a bit."
Harry raised disbelieving eyes off the floor and glared, flat-out glared, at the elder Holmes. He looked like an angry kitten. Now it was Sherlock's time to turn away, although he disguised it better by tilting his head down so his chestnut curls covered his face, seating himself on his part of the couch and reaching for his violin and bow. Carefully tuning it in a deliberate exercise of self-control, he shook his head determinedly at Mycroft's prompting nudge and concentrated on keeping his face turned away from Harry. No chance. Mycroft was on his own.
Despite his best efforts – and really, for Mycroft Holmes, his best efforts were really extraordinary – a small laugh burst forth from his clenched jaw. Harry was scowling and practically spitting in anger. His eyes had narrowed, and hair was snapping with static, and he looked completely adorable. 'If he hisses, it's all over for me,' Mycroft sent down the bond.
A discordant shriek of violin was Sherlock's only reply. His hands were trembling too much to offer anything better.
"Upset me?" Harry bit out, completely unaware of the fact that his men were trembling from suppressed laughter, not fear of their little wizard. "UPSET me?" His glare intensified, and Sherlock's shoulders began to shake. Harry raised an accusing finger and pointed it at the both of them, moving back and forth in hysterical condemnation. "YOU are NEVER doing that to me! Got that? NEVER! NEVER!" He turned and stormed into the kitchen, banging pots and pans and muttering to himself, occasionally raising his voice in an outraged shout. Lips twitching uncontrollably, Mycroft walked around the couch and leaned against the back, arms crossed, long legs outstretched and crossed at the ankle as he watched Harry raging back and forth within his view, talking to himself and abusing cookware.
Sherlock, calming slightly, began to play scales in an ongoing effort to force himself under control, although he still refused to look at either Mycroft or Harry. His wandering eyes caught sight of the smoking ash on Mycroft's hassock, and another discordant shriek of sound ripped from the violin.
Catching the thought through their bond, Mycroft's control was already dropping again when Harry suddenly appeared in full view, still glaring accusingly at the two men, and shouted, "Don't even think of it! EVER!" Turning on his heel, he stormed back into the kitchen, which was fortunate for Mycroft, who dropped his head to his chest and laughed silently.
Behind him, on the couch, the violin in Sherlock's arms suddenly laughed along with Mycroft, chortling in sprightly notes and chuckling through the air. Sherlock's shoulders began to shake again when Harry growled, "Assholes! All of you!" accompanied by a particularly loud crash of pots and pans from the kitchen. But then they heard their adorable little kitten pause for a moment, muttering, "Tell Anderson I changed my mind. I'm in FAVOR of abstinence…. Oh, Merlin, speaking of assholes…!" before hissing something about rescuing Neville and having Ron look at his 'injury'. The sudden, vivid image of that in his head broke Sherlock's control, too.
Hoping fervently that their little wizard stayed in the kitchen, the Holmes brothers began to surrender to the sheer hilarity of the moment. They lost it completely at an especially violent bang of cookware, and Harry's furiously muttered, "Oh, I get it! 'Can't eat just one!' We'll just see about that, ASSHOLES!"
In the front room, the self-contained Holmes men laughed helplessly, while the bond laughed and sang between them. They were delighted to be sharing this rare and wonderful dish.
A/N: Shout-outs to Rowan Valadosa, slayer of destiny, Pikachumomma, marksmom, The Dark Lady Voldemort 666, Rokkis, Winter Mother, hprareslashfan, mabidiso & Aelirenn. A note to mabidiso: thanks for that image; I've been flinching all damn day! Lol!
As always, special thanks to all of you for reading and reviewing. It's like food for my soul. Truly.
Blessed Be, y'all!