I waited a long time to post this, because I kept on not liking how it turned out, but I'm letting it go for now.
So, extremely belated, but here it is- the final chapter! It takes place a couple of years after last chapter. I hope you enjoy!
A Study in Friendship
Harry lazily flicked his wand, tying the junior Auror to the left of him in thick ropes while Sherlock fired the spell gun that had once been Harry's, stunning an Auror that had been sneaking up behind them. Tom, of course, was showing them both up, dueling four Aurors simultaneously.
Harry turned his wand on one of the Aurors dueling Tom, and, feeling creative, transfigured his robes into stone, making him unable to move, as Tom took care of his remaining Aurors.
The fight was over, quicker than usual this time, and Harry, Tom and Sherlock had won again.
To Harry's surprise, the Auror he had trapped, rather than looking frightened, began to laugh in a manner that Harry felt was rather maniacal. The reason for the mad laughter became clear a moment later, when a bright light began shining on the floor, illuminating runic symbols that had been faintly carved into it. Harry found himself suddenly unable to move his limbs, as he was frozen in place, helplessly looking at the immobile figures of Tom and Sherlock who seemed to be under the same condition.
The Auror laughed again. "It appears the Auror office has received my patronus and activated our new security system. Did you really think you could keep on attacking us outside our own building without us ever catching on? The rest of the Auror team will be here soon to take you in."
Harry had never really panicked before in dangerous situations, he just wasn't the type. He was quick on his feet and dealt with any situation as best he could. But then, Harry was a man of action, practical. What was he to do now that he couldn't move? Perhaps now would be a good opportunity to experience panic for the first time.
Fortunately, before Harry got the chance to figure out how it was done, a beam of red light caught the laughing Auror in the back. A few seconds later, an indistinguishable shape of a disillusioned person moved between the Aurors, and transformed those of them who hadn't been out cold but were simply tied up into potted plants.
Once Harry, Sherlock and Tom were the only witnesses left, the figure's camouflage dropped off it as the Disillusionment Spell was removed.
Harry's eyes widened in shock as the figure revealed itself to be Professor McGonagall.
He was unable to speak, of course, but she must have seen the confusion in his eyes, because she flushed slightly before saying shortly, "Oh, don't give me that look, Potter, they're all going to turn back into humans within twenty minutes."
That hadn't actually been the reason Harry was shocked, but there was nothing he could do to explain himself, being frozen as he was. Meanwhile, his former teacher had begun circling the three of them.
"Hm... Some sort of freezing charm connected to the ground. Step aside, Potter, to let me see the runes on the ground- oh, never mind."
She looked, and hmed for another few seconds before snorting, muttering "Classic Flenders, never been very creative with his spellwork. This should only take a minute, boys." And after a few moments of wand waving and muttering Harry felt as if a sudden weight had been removed from his body, and when he tried, he found he could move his arms.
"Professor!" he exclaimed "Thank you!"
"Think nothing of it, Potter. " she said, smiling slightly, "I'm glad to help a former student. Even if the student was an especially troublesome one."
"I really must be going, Potter. The backup that Auror Stevenson summoned will be here at any moment."
"Wait!" Harry said. Professor McGonagall, along with most of the remaining Hogwarts staff, were a part of his life that Harry had thought was over once he publicly announced his defection to the dark side. He had never expected to encounter Professor McGonagall again, and especially never expected her to help him escape Aurors if they did meet.
"Potter, now is really not the most opportune moment for a reunion chat, with Aurors hot on your heels. You may be willing to risk Azkaban by antagonizing the Magical Law Enforcement twice a week, but not all of us live for thrills."
"I just wanted to ask you-"
She cut him off. "I will be happy to catch up, but in a different location. Surely even someone as reckless as you can see that staying here is dangerous."
"The Leaky Cauldron?" Harry suggested.
She nodded. "If you can disguise yourself adequately and be there in five minutes, I'll be happy to meet you."
She apparated away, and Harry and Tom took Sherlock's hand and did so too.
The Auror reinforcements that arrived twenty seconds later found only a disassembled trapping curse and a bunch of potted plants.
"Well," said Sherlock the moment they arrived back at home "you can just kill me now. I've become predictable." He said 'predictable' as if it were a dirty word.
"Yes, we definitely need to step up our game if the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, managed to entrap us," Tom agreed, "The Auror Department, for Merlin's sake! I'll never live down the shame of needing rescue from Minerva McGonagall!"
"How about marching on the Ministry with an army of undead?" Harry suggested, "We haven't done that one before, and I remember Sherlock expressing an interest in necromancy. Sherlock?"
"What do you want from me?" Sherlock groaned, lying face down on the couch "I'm utterly useless! Outsmarted by Aurors!"
"He'll recover in around half an hour." Harry said to Tom, rolling his eyes. But spotting the sulky expression on Tom's face (which had returned to look like Tom's face, since he had removed his disguise ring), he realized he was better off avoiding his companions while they were still in a foul mood.
Sometimes Harry worried about the sensitivity of their egoes.
"I'm assuming neither of you want to come with me to thank McGonagall for the help?"
Receiving two grunts of dissent as answers, he shrugged, gulped down a mouthful of Polyjuice from a flask he always kept on him, and once he was transformed, apparated to the Leaky Cauldron.
Arriving, he spotted Professor McGonagall sitting alone on a stool at the bar, and slid into the seat next to her, giving her a meaningful grin to let her know it was him.
She surveyed him, and raised an eyebrow. "I see that neither of your companions opted to come." she remarked.
"They, er, both have a slight aversion to authority." Harry explained.
"You were my teacher." Harry replied.
She waved her hand dismissively. "That was years ago. And I would think that my actions today of helping you to escape the law would counter that."
"I was actually really surprised by you doing that." Harry admitted.
She frowned. "Why would you think that? Potter, I know I may have been strict with you in school, but surely you don't think that I would allow you to be sent to Azkaban?"
"Well," Harry replied hesitantly, "I didn't really expect you to approve of my choices."
She hmmed thoughtfully. "Well, normally I wouldn't approve of dropping out of school without completing your education, but in your case I had often worried that your time at Hogwarts contributed more to your survival skills than your magical ones. Hogwarts was never the safe place that it should have been for you, and I can't really fault you for seeking your fortunes elsewhere. In any case, judging by the impressive cloth-to-stone transfiguration I saw you perform on the Auror's cloak, you haven't been neglecting your education completely." She smiled at him approvingly.
"Actually, I was talking about the whole 'joining Voldemort' thing." Harry replied, eying her suspiciously.
McGonagall snorted. "Potter, while the whole Department of Magical Law Enforcement may be idiotic enough to waste their time and resources on chasing you, I am not so easily taken in. Despite what you may believe of my intelligence, it has not escaped my notice that ever since your defection to the so-called dark side there have been no muggle or muggle-born killings, or indeed any disturbance to most of the peace-loving wizarding society. I can't pretend to understand the game you are playing, but you haven't fooled me into believing you've gone evil."
"Oh," Harry said, feeling slightly embarrassed, "alright then. Well, thanks for the help. It's much appreciated, by me at least."
She nodded. "Potter, you are aware that all the teachers who have had the dubious pleasure of having you as their student at Hogwarts share my opinion about your dramatic defection to the dark side? Not a day goes by that Hagrid doesn't announce that you were probably recruited by the Ministry as a secret agent, and he's not the only one who believes in your innocence. Whenever there is news of your latest actions in The Daily Prophet, Filius starts giggling, and Severus rolls his eyes and talks about the ridiculous measures you're willing to go through to get attention."
Harry chuckled at that, and then sighed. "I miss Hagrid. He was my first friend, you know."
McGonagall patted his hand. "I'm sure if you come back to Hogwarts to visit, you will receive quite a warm welcome from all your old friends. Just try to keep out of sight of the first years who never knew you and are prone to sticking their noses where they don't belong."
"I feel like the 'sticking their noses' thing was aimed at me." Harry said.
She shook her head. "That condition lasted far longer than first year with you."
Tom the bartender chose that moment to send two glasses of Firewhiskey dancing down the counter towards them.
"Well, Potter," she said, raising her glass "you drove me to drinking often enough as a student, so it's only fair you pay for my drink tonight."
Harry laughed and clinked his glass against hers before downing his drink.
Forty minutes later, Harry had determined that a sufficient amount of time had passed for Tom and Sherlock's sulky moods to have passed. And even if they hadn't he was beginning to miss them. Still, he couldn't leave at the middle of his argument with McGonagall, that would be admitting defeat.
"I'd like to remind you that it was thanks to my 'sticking my nose where it didn't belong' back in first year, that I prevented Voldemort from getting his hands on the Philosopher's Stone and coming back to life!"
"Without you, he never would have been able to extract the Stone from the Mirror of Erised!" She retorted drily.
Oh dear. She was right, wasn't she?
"Well, in my second year I saved Ginny Weasley's life!"
She had to concede that point to him, and on that triumphant note, Harry felt free to take his leave and head home.
"It was nice seeing you again, Potter. Do come visit Hogwarts sometime soon."
Harry promised he would, and he disapparated away feeling quite pleased.
He appeared in the kitchen, and found that Hedwig had already been by that morning with his mail. It contained, along with the Daily Prophet (whose headline proclaimed that a You-know-who sighting had been reported by a hysterical witch in Bristol), a letter from Luna.
Everything is well here. I am still receiving regular letters from Daddy in Brazil, so I know for sure that as of September 8th he wasn't enchanted into thinking he was a monkey by a Snorting Huffler or eaten by a cannibalistic tribe in a Ringwraith Repelling Ritual. He's hoping to spot a Shrivel-Skinned-Shyster within the next two weeks. He promises he'll send me pictures once he does find one.
We are all looking forward to seeing you at Hermione's birthday party next week. All of us except Ron, of course, who still thinks you're a traitor. I don't understand how he can believe that the Department of Magical Games and Sports exists, but not that Tom Riddle was possessed by an evil demon that made him do terrible things until Tom finally managed to get rid of it and make amends to you. Are you sure that you still don't want us to publish the story in The Quibbler? If the story appeared in such a prestigious newspaper it would surely lend credibility to the story and may be the thing that finally convinces Ron. Then again, he is a very close-minded individual.
I hope this letter finds you well and devoid of any life-threatening diseases.
Harry smiled, cheered by the letter from his friend. The part about Ron hardly stung at all after all this time, and Harry had long ago realized it was to be expected. For someone who had grown up in the magical word he was extremely unwilling to believe in anything he didn't see. He constantly maintained that demons didn't exist and he had never heard of one possessing a person before, no matter how much Harry assured him that that was indeed what had happened to Tom, and no matter how many times he had cited the lack of muggle murders as proof. Of course, demons really didn't exist to Harry's knowledge, but that didn't mean that Ron wasn't being a thick-headed berk about not believing in them. At least the rest of his friends believed him.
Harry headed back to the living room cautiously, hoping that the coast was now clear and Sherlock and Tom had gotten over their fit of pique.
Unfortunately, they hadn't, and Sherlock was still in the exact position Harry had left him in, which he supposed was still better than shooting the wall or clawing at his chalkboard.
Sherlock's mood only improved an hour later when Yorry popped in with news:
"Master Sherlock! Head Auror Scrimgeour is being at the floo! He says to come quick!"
Sherlock sprang up so fast he almost became a blur, and Harry was happy to finally see a smile on his face as he dashed out of the room. Tom, sitting at his desk, perked up as well.
"Where's Dobby, Yorry?" Harry asked. Yorry and Sherlock still didn't get along very well, and all duties that entailed interacting with Sherlock were usually delegated to Dobby.
"Dobby is being changing Noom's diaper." Yorry replied happily, obviously pleased to have gotten the least repugnant of the two jobs.
Harry spotted Tom shudder, a sentiment he himself shared. Baby Noom was very cute, and they were all very fond of him, but the three of them stayed far away when he began excreting foul substances, as babies are prone to do.
Sherlock chose that moment to rush back into the room, skidding on the floor and nearly tripping over Yorry who gave him a scornful look before popping away.
"Harry! Tom! Get your Polyjuice! We have a case up in London! It looks like a serial killer!"
Sherlock's excitement was catching, and both Tom and Harry took their flasks of Polyjuice out of their pockets, and gulped them down with rather less reluctance than was usual.
After a few painful moments, both were shorter and with far fairer hair, and all of them were ready to go.
"Sherlock, Mr. and Mrs. Watson," Head Auror Scrimgeour greeted them as they entered the crime scene. "Come in."
He led them into quite a messy house and up a flight of stairs, explaining on the way: "Two different deaths. The first was strangled, the second hit by a Killing Curse. We think the victims were both in their late twenties-"
"You think?" Sherlock cut him off.
"Well, you see, the thing that tied both victims together for us is their face- they both look exactly the same. We think that the killer force-fed them Polyjuice Potion before killing them, so we're not completely sure the victims are who we think they are. Still, this body was found in the room of Thelonious Hopkirk, and Thelonious is nowhere to be found, so it's pretty safe to assume that the body is his."
"Right." Sherlock said, slightly doubtfully, as they entered the room.
This must have been the victim killed by the Killing Curse, her body (or rather his body, since the female figure was apparently the product of Polyjuice Potion) was whole, and he was lying so peacefully on the bed that it looked like he was sleeping.
"Have you talked to his girlfriend yet?" Sherlock asked. At Scrimgeour's blank look he added "Did you even know he had a girlfriend?"
"His roommates never mentioned a girlfriend when we interviewed them about the night the body was found, so she obviously wasn't around when it happened and is irrelevant." Scrimgeour sounded defensive. He knew Sherlock well enough to know he would be made to feel like an idiot before the case was over.
"Irrelevant, is she?" Sherlock echoed scornfully.
"Mary - " he said, turning to Tom, "Go talk to the roommates, see if they even knew he was seeing someone. John, I need you to do a few spells for me."
Tom, as he had proved back when Harry first met him as a diary Horcrux, was capable of being quite a charmer, and coupled with Mary Watson's 'feminine wiles' (as Sherlock called it) was the best at getting information out of witnesses. This left Harry as Sherlock's spell-caster, charming victims' skin transparent so Sherlock could see their organs while Tom charmed their elderly grandmothers.
As usual, Sherlock began by spouting out many random facts about the victim. Even after all this time Harry couldn't for the life of him figure out how Sherlock knew what he knew (how could you tell that the man was an amateur Quidditch player who had given it up because of a knee injury, if he was Polyjuiced to look like a frail Brunette who had obviously never played Quidditch in her life?)
Suddenly, Sherlock sprang up in excitement and pulled Harry away by the hand, shouting: "Of course! The Three Broomsticks!"
Harry knew Sherlock too well to expect him to explain, and simply went along with it when Sherlock got Tom, took his hand, and asked to be apparated to surprisingly, not The Three Broomstick, but rather Intestines and Illnesses, a little apothecary deep in Knockturn Alley.
Harry barely managed to catch his breath and recover from the disconcerting feeling of apparating when he spotted a flash of red light out of the corner of his eye. He dropped to the ground, unconscious.
Harry came to to find himself bound in ropes on a dirty rug. He must not have been out for long, because he still looked like his fake persona John Watson. The Polyjuice potion hadn't worn off yet.
A tall willowy woman was walking up and down the room talking. Sherlock must have woken up before Harry, because her diatribe seemed to be directed towards him.
She was gloating over having managed to outsmart the great Sherlock Holmes.
"Oh, yes, genius!" Sherlock replied, a sulky expression on his face, "making it obvious how you commit your crime and where you spend your time, and then ambushing me once I went there. Brilliant!"
"That's high and mighty talk for someone who is about to become my fourth victim." She replied, arching an eyebrow "Are you sure you want those to be your last words?"
Harry groaned. He must have hit his head when falling to the ground unconscious because it was throbbing. His scar, which was always the most sensitive during headaches, felt like it was on fire.
Wriggling his wrists, Harry tested the strength of the ropes and his range of movement.
He caught Tom and Sherlock sharing a conspiratorial smirk our of the corner of his eye, as he finally managed to wiggle his hand into his pocket and grasp the pocket knife in it.
It was the third time in the past two weeks that they had found themselves in mortal danger.
All was well.
Thank you all so very much for reading! I really hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.
I know that some of you were hoping for scenes that weren't included in the epilogue, but I hope that you enjoyed it nevertheless. Feel free to imagine your own preferred ending :)
If anyone is interested- I've started writing a new Harry Potter fic (Tom/Harry pairing), and I'm planningYou posting to post it within the next few hours. You reading it will make me happy.