A different start leads to a (somewhat) different life for a child that could have (would have) been known as Harry Potter in another time, another set of circumstances. The opportunity for Harry Potter died prematurely with the death of James Potter, but Tristan Holmes—son of Lily Potter (nee Evans) and Sherrinford Holmes—is another matter.
Loosely based both on the Harry Potter and BBC Sherlock universes. Over-all spoiler warning, though how heavily I will spoil either series is TBD, currently...
Disclaimer: I am not J. K. Rowling, nor a member of Scholastic/Warner Bros. and associates, nor A. Conan Doyle, nor Mark Gatiss, nor Stephen Moffat, so I have legal rights to absolutely nothing.
6/13/2014: After months of inactivity, studying, work, writing (and essentially selling) a Feature-length script, and receiving my A.A.S., I felt the need to revisit this story from the start, and see if I could get a feel for it, again.
If you wish to continue on from my stopping point, that's fine, but be aware that I have gone through and rewrittenthe majority of the previous chapters, either adding or changing bits as needed. As such, new chapters might not line up exactly with the events as originally written.
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius—Arthur Conan Doyle (The Valley of Fear)
[Prelude to Genius]
When Lily had insisted upon having a muggle radio for their kitchen, she had been thinking more of the fun she'd have exposing James to muggle music, and less about staying abreast of the local news. However, even before she became aware of the discreet ping that signaled an incoming Floo call, her attention was caught by the tense voices of the newscasters, broadcasting the "latest, breaking news."
"...are still withholding comment on the massive bombing in the Underground District line that took place moments ago, between the Whitechapel and Barking stations. This is the latest in a string of unsolved terrorist attacks..."
Lily felt her breath catch in her chest, her strong grip on the counter top barely saving herself from toppling onto the expensive tiling. Her mind felt numb, blank, as if it couldn't quite compute...or didn't want to compute...why Lily felt as if her world had titled on its axis. Her knees shook, her body felt flushed with heat, and everything...the sunlight, the light from the kitchen's mini-chandelier ("nouveau-riche kitsch," James had called it)...felt too bright. Lily's head pounded. She felt faint.
Lily let out a gasping sob, falling to her knees. James had been on the District line, going to visit Remus with Sirius, headed towards Barking. She tried to convince herself that everything was fine...James had left early enough to have missed the accident, but she knew. She knew how bad James was with navigating the Underground, even with Sirius there. She knew that there was every chance that the two had become lost and had to backtrack to the District line.
The Floo alert sounded again, and Lily staggered to her feet. She stumbled, as if in a daze, towards the front salon to answer the call. She felt choked by feeble hope, hope that it was one of her boys trying to call and tell her that they were fine, hope that they had missed the explosion, and were now celebrating a near-miss. The panicked voice coming from the grating, however, crushed her feeble hope.
No. No...it can't be that. Maybe James and Sirius trashed his loft, again. Please, let it be that.
"Lily?! God DAMN IT, LILY! ARE YOU THERE?" It was Remus' voice—calm, collected Remus—shouting out to her from the fire grating.
"...here," Lily felt her voice catch in her throat and had to clear it before she could be heard over the crackling of the Floo's flames, "I'm here, Remus! What's wrong? What's happened?"
"I heard about the bombing...are James and Sirius there? I thought that they might have been running late again, and then I heard about the...acci..den—"
Lily felt choked, breathless as she watched Remus' face fall as his voice died away. He must have caught her expression of panic and sheer, fucking anguish as the possibilities raced through her mind. James and Sirius had left for Remus' HOURS ago. If they weren't with him, and they hadn't Floo'd to let them know that they were safe, then...?
She must have been mumbling aloud, as Remus pushed his way through the Floo in time to catch her before her head hit the floor. Lily clung to Remus, shaking and silent, tears dripping down her cheeks. Remus' face was buried into her neck, leaving the skin hot and damp from his tears, even as he mumbled soothing nonsense that soothed neither of them.
Lily sat there, slumped and clinging to Remus for what felt like hours...days, her legs cramped and stiff, the skin of her face tight from the salt of her tears. Remus, sobbing and shaking, was still so, so careful not to cling to her, terrified of hurting her. Lily drew him closer and held him tight.
Still, even as time seemed to slow, measured not in minutes, but in heart beats, and sobs, and tears, Lily waited waited...and waited...and waited for James and Sirius to Floo call, the last dregs of hope dying slowly for every hour the two missing men did not make contact. Lily jerked out of their stupor as Floo gave a subtle ping to announce an incoming call. She glanced at the clock—4 o'clock am.
James. James. Please, James. JamesJamesJamesjamesjamesjamesjames.
Lily tumbled off of Remus' lap, limbs numb and tangled. Both squawked and swore as they fumbled to separate their tingling legs. With a frustrated curse, Lily scrambled to the edge of the fireplace, hoping to see her husband's face...perhaps a bit dirty, but beaming and alive. Her face fell as she recognized the face of Amelia Bones, looking wan and pale.
"Lily...you need to head down to the Met in muggle London. They're calling in everyone with missing persons to help identify the bodies that they've recovered..."
Lily's breath hitched in her chest, painful and tight. Her body trembled, her stomach lurching in revolt at the thought of having to identify James' and Sirius' remains. "So...then, they're sure...? James is, both of them are...?"
Amelia shook her head. "That's just it...they can't tell. James and Sirius aren't registered with the muggles, so they'd only be a couple of "Joe Bloggs" to the Yard and their people at St. Bart's."
Lily nodded in understanding, biting her lip even as fresh tears dripped down her cheeks. Her breath hitched, her eyes closing tightly as she felt Remus collapse behind her, his face buried in the back of her neck as he shuddered with fresh sobs. Lily blinked against her tears, feeling lost and utterly alone, despite the warmth at her back.
James...James and Sirius. OHGOD.
She didn't want to have to identify their bodies, not alone, not at ALL, if it could be helped. A rustle from the Floo brought her attention back to James' boss giving her a soft, pitying look even as her disembodied arm stuck through the green flames, holding a singed handkerchief out for Lily to take.
"...this...this might be difficult, Lily, if it turns out—well, the point is, you'd be better off taking someone along with you, yeah? Call Remus—"
"—he's already here." Amelia's face tilted in the fire, her expression weary in grief as she caught a glimpse of Remus' devastated posture. She swallowed, taking a moment to collect herself. Lily looked away, unable to face Amelia's grief, on top of her own and Remus'.
"Well then, that's even better. Take a cab with Remus. Stop for tea first. Do WHATEVER you have to, just...please...don't go alone?"
Lily mustered a feeble smile to show her appreciation for Amelia's concern, but it didn't seem to alleviate the older woman's worries. Instead, she tsked at Lily but simply bid her farewell before ending the call. The fire seemed to collapse into itself, the flames dimming, flickering feebly. Lily stared blankly into the fire, not moving, for what felt like an age.
She didn't think, didn't move, just breathed deeply, feeling utterly lost. Remus' hands on her shoulders were gentle, gripping her gently and urging her to stand. Quietly, Lily let Remus lead her from the room, smiling weakly as he helped her into her coat and made sure she grabbed her keys to lock the door behind them. The somber-faced duo said nothing as they headed down Upper Belgrave Street, wandering a bit...wanting to put off, if only for a moment, having to catch a cab down to the Met. Even though it would not change anything...not really...the longer Lily put off having to go to the station, the less "real" everything seemed to be.
The sun had long since crested the horizon, and soft light was filtered through the neatly manicured and gated trees, dappling the two of them in leaf-green sunlight. After a while, it started to drizzle, leaving the air sparkling every time a drop hit the sunlight just right. Still, Lily refused to hail a cab, or let Remus do so for her. Instead, she parked quietly on a damp bench, watching quietly as Remus stepped into a shop to buy them both a large builder's tea and a warm scone to share.
Though Lily didn't feel particularly hungry, she still nibbled at the edges of the scone, savoring the warmth and generous dollop of clotted cream spread across the top. She brushed the crumbs from her coat, sipping quietly at her tea, even as Remus quietly finished the rest of the scone. A weak smile twisted her lips as Remus swore, dabbing at the greasy stain the clotted cream had left on the cuffs of his coat. After a moment, Remus sighed and turned to look at Lily. Lily felt her lips tremble at that look.
Lily didn't want it to be time. Everything within her screamed that it was too soon, that she couldn't handle it yet. Still, the quiet patience in Remus' eyes stayed her pleading. She swallowed, hard, and nodded. Remus squeezed her hands, rising to his feet. She watched as he jogged slowly into the tea shop. Lily was strangely reminded of the Christmas pantomimes she used to go to as a child, as she watched Remus gesture to the woman behind the counter. It all seemed so absurd that she should be sitting here, on a bench in the rain, holding milky tea and covered in scone crumbs, potentially a brand-new widow.
This was her life, now. She felt like Rosencrantz, cheated of his ignoble death, and now left to wander lost and confused at the unexpected outcome of the play of his life, left to ask wherefore...wherefore stand I here, alive, when death surrounds me? When had the script been rewritten, and why...why?
Lily blinked, looking at Remus as he plopped inelegantly down onto the bench next to her. "The cab should be here in twenty."
Lily nodded, slumping back against the bench as she waited.
It was well-past 7 am by the time the cab pulled to a stop in front of their bench. Lily felt the feeble spark of humor at Remus' expense as he grumbled about his arse being wet and numb, and wanting another cuppa. Lily again let herself be led by Remus, climbing into the cab slowly, sliding across the seat to make room for his broader frame. Their clothes hung limp, steaming slightly in the warm air of the cab.
Lily slumped against the seat, feeling all the heaviness of this morning hit her, even as she dreaded what was to follow. Remus seemed to hesitate, his hand extended as to reach for the handle. Lily watched him gather himself, swallowing heavily, as he shakily reached to close the door behind him. Lily gripped Remus' wrist, stopping him from closing the door behind him. Lily nodded over his shoulder, even as he tossed her a look. A pale, haggard gentleman, towing two young children, was frantically calling out to them.
"Pardon...PARDON! I need to get to the Met in a hurry, do you mind if I we take this cab? Please?"
Lily blinked, taking in the tense lines around the man's pale blue eyes, his dark curls looking more disheveled then James' mess of hair on a bad day. He looked to have dressed in a hurry, and his children, equally as rumpled, were frowning sleepily at her. Lily nudged Remus to scoot over to make room.
"Actually, we're headed to the Met, ourselves. You're welcome to ride with us."
Pale Eyes blinked, tilting his head slightly to look at her in consideration. With his wide eyes and dark, shaggy hair, he reminded Lily of a puppy...a very thin, very tall puppy, mind you, but a puppy none the less. He seemed to hesitate for only a moment before nodding decisively. "Thank you, madam...sir," he turned to tug at the boy leaning against his leg, "Mycroft, hold your brother, would you, so that we can all fit inside comfortably."
The child—Mycroft, his father called him—pouted at the toddler that was dropped into his arms, and the child, to Lily's surprise, seemed to return his brother's pout with a sneer.
The ride to the Met was made in silence, the unhappy squirming of the youngest boy (Sherlock, his brother had called him) the only real disturbance to the stillness that pervaded the cramped cab. Though the toddler didn't fuss, per se, he made his displeasure blatant with every squirm, every kick of his little legs. Lily was faintly aware of the toddler's astounding aim, as the boy's tiny heel seemed to hit the same spot on his brother's legs every time. With the tightening of Mycroft's facial muscles, she could tell that the boy was sporting bruises, or would be, from his brother's squirming.
Lily bit her lip, watching young Mycroft growing ever more impatient with his brother's squirming. Sherlock looked all-too-willing to keep abusing his brother's shins with his small heels, and it was apparent that Mycroft was swiftly loosing patience. Lily felt hesitant to intercede, but neither did she enjoy watching the elder boy suffer so. She felt Remus stiffen next to her. She knew that even if she refused to intercede, he just might, if only to save the elder child's shins from further abuse.
One particularly vicious kick jolted Mycroft, and he turned his face to hiss at the babe. Lily, reacting on instinct with a quickly mumbled "Pardon me," pulled the squirming child from his brother's arms and plopped him into her lap. The move seemed to have stunned the small boy into stillness, as he sat stiffly for a moment, before turning his wide, somber gaze (the same pale color as his father's) upon her face.
"Well, I couldn't very well have let you harass your brother, could I? It's still quite early, and I trust you'd both be better off not fighting when you're already exhausted, yes?"
Lily felt ridiculous as soon as she opened her mouth, especially when Remus tried to cover up his surprised laugh with a genteel cough. Well, perhaps it was silly to try and rationalize with a toddler. As strangely somber as the youngest child had been, he was still very, very young, and shouldn't be expected to understand an argument of logic. Still, the way he settled back, all loose limbs and disgruntlement, proved otherwise. A quick glance toward Pale Eyes and Mycroft showed a mix of amusement (the former) and tired gratitude (the latter).
After the child had settled down, albeit reluctantly, the ride to the Met passed by much more peaceably. The soft, warm weight of the toddler was strangely soothing, especially when one of his small hands tangled with her fingers as he drifted between sleep and wakefulness. Lily shifted the boy gently, letting him settle his weight against her more fully. It took little further prompting for the child to drift off. Lily, looking up once the child was settled, met eyes with Pale Eyes. He gave her a tight, grateful nod, then turned back to look out the window.
By the time that the cab pulled up, young Sherlock had completely drifted off, snuffling in his sleep, his small face set in an adorable pout. The child let out a shaky huff, smacking his lips, then settled back into sleep. Remus let out a snort of amusement.
"Not so reticent anymore, is he?"
Lily snorted, shaking her head in agreement. Remus slid out of the cab, helping Mycroft out even as Pale Eye slid out, stretching his long limbs and reaching for his youngest. Lily reluctantly forfeited the warm weight of the sleeping child to his smiling father. "Thank you. Sherlock is a good boy, but he does so enjoy trying people's patience."
"He was no problem at all. Quite the cuddler, in fact."
A muffled snort from Mycroft drew her attention to the round-faced little boy. The droll look on his face was oddly suited to his features, but still seemed strangely grown up on his young face. "He'd throw a fit if he heard you say that."
Were Sherlock any other child, Lily would doubt the truth of Mycroft's words, but with how the babe had seemed to follow their conversation so closely earlier, she couldn't say for sure that the child wouldn't understand what she was saying about him. Lily instead settled for a wry smile and a tiny shrug as she and the small family wandered into the station and up to the front desk to find the officer in charge. She gave a final, somber nod to the small family as she and Remus were led away to fill out some paperwork before heading out to St. Bart's.
Lily didn't move.
She hadn't moved for hours, in truth, ignoring everything, even as her arse and thighs went numb from sitting so long on the uncomfortable plastic of the chairs in the hall. She'd done it, she and Remus both. They'd identified James and Sirius' bodies. Gods, but Lily could still smell the burned skin and see the bruised, broken bodies in her mind's eyes. The coroner had said...something, but Lily couldn't remember. She could only remember the chemical smell, and Remus' sobs.
...and the endless paperwork. Stacks of forms, and release papers, and so on. After it all, she'd just...collapsed into the chair in the hall. After a moment, Remus. He didn't make a move to talk or look up to doing much of anything, and Lily knew she didn't look any better. Even after what felt like forever, and several concerned glances from St. Bart's staff, Lily was still too numb to move. Instead, she sat, hunched over her knees, trying to KEEP BREATHING, to NOT PANIC, as the truth of the matter sunk in. James was gone. Sirius was gone. James and Sirius were GONE...forever.
No more pub crawls, with a pissed Sirius bragging about all the "lucky birds" he'd pulled.
No more Sunday morning lie-ins, with a sleepy and amorous James, always snuggling so close, in the off-chance she wasn't too sleepy for a lazy tussle between the sheets.
No more barking laughs. No more awkwardly affectionate smiles. No more anything. Ever.
Lily's whole body twitched as someone dropped heavily into the seat left empty when Remus had wandered off, mumbling about grabbing them a cuppa. Peering up through her curtain of red hair, she saw the pale, wilted form of Pale Eyes, looking as lost as her. The bags under his eyes had grown heavier, and his hair was a disaster, to put it politely. His clothes hung limply off him. He looked two seconds from collapsing. If Lily had to guess, she'd say that he'd been here to identify someone, too...and by the looks of him, it seemed like he was handling it just as well as she was.
"I know it means shite right now, but...sorry."
The man's gaze cut over to her, razor sharp, before flitting away again. "You're right...it does mean shite right now, but I suppose 'thanks' are in order."
Lily snorted in surprise before biting her lip. Gods, but did he remind her of Severus, before his friendly sarcasm had turned to genuine disdain. She was in no mood to laugh, but this man...this stranger...had nearly surprised a laugh out of her. Pale Eyes gave her a strange, considering look, but didn't say anything else for a moment.
"Sherrinford." The suddenness of the statement made Lily jerk in her seat.
"Er...pardon?" Lily looked up from where she'd been frowning at her hands.
"My name...Sherrinford Holmes." Lily considered the man, so polite one minute, so blunt the next, and wondered what kind of person this strange, socially awkward man was. Considering she had been friends with a clinically diagnosed curmudgeon, she wasn't one to judge, but even so, he struck her as peculiar.
There was another moment of silence, this one a bit more awkward than the last. Sherrinford shifted in his seat, sneaking looks at Lily that she politely pretended not to notice, before he blurted out, "this is usually the point when you reciprocate with an introduction."
"Lily Potter. Pleasure." Lily was surprised to realize that it actually was a pleasure to meet Mr. Holmes, even with circumstances being what they were. If nothing else, he was a distraction from sitting and brooding about James.
"Where are your boys? Mycroft and Sherlock...where did they go?"
"Hmm? Oh, well they're back home with my brother. They didn't need to see their mother like..."
"Ah." This silence, though somber, was not uncomfortable, like the one before had been. Lily stared down at her hand, twisting her wedding band around her finger and tugging at the ends of her limp, heavy locks. The back of her thighs tingled, the muscles seizing in small spasms, protesting her stationary position. Lily flexed her legs, shifting, but did not rise from her slump.
Sherrinford was slouched back in the chair, his long limbs stretched out in front of him, glaring blankly at the ceiling. He looked less like the long-limbed man that he was, and more like a marionette whose strings had been cruelly severed. Though he looked dreadfully uncomfortable to Lily, he looked about as inclined as she was to move from his spot.
The two of them could have sat there for a second, or an hour, or a day, and Lily would not have known the difference. In that moment, that quiet, time had stopped, and all that was left was a mutual grief shared between virtual strangers. The moment was broken by Remus, holding two giant, steaming mugs, walking toward them down the hall. He seemed to pause as he glanced between Lily and Sherrinford before continuing down the hall.
"I brought you some tea, Lils. It's not much...just the stuff from the student caf...but, it'll probably do for now."
Lily gave a grateful smile and took a deep drink of the milky (no sugar) Earl Grey before wordlessly passing the cup to Sherrinford. He paused to give her another one of his sharp, considering Looks before he brought the mug up to his lips for a few leisurely sips. He seemed to relish the heat of the cup in his palms, rubbing the sides with his fingertips as he sipped. After a moment, he quietly handed the mug back to Lily.
Feeling the heat of Remus' gaze, she glanced at him in time to catch him watching she and Sherrinford silently interact, passing the tea between the two of them wordlessly. Lily couldn't read his expression as he shook his head and looked away. Perhaps it was their familiarity that had startled him, the ease with which Lily seemed to interact with the strange grieving man that was Sherrinford Holmes. Perhaps it was the strange intimacy of a shared cuppa had unsettled him. Perhaps he was just worried, because misery made strange bed-fellows, and both she and Sherrinford were miserable, indeed.
...and Gods, if that didn't bring to mind things that Lily wasn't ready to consider. She liked to think that she knew herself well enough to know how she'd react to grief. Honestly, Lily didn't think she'd be the sort to wallow endlessly, cloistering herself away like a "proper" widow of a pureblood heir, nor did she think she'd be the sort to resort to the emotional catharsis of moody sex with an (admittedly) attractive stranger.
Lily watched Sherrinford, all lazy elegance, as he took a quick pull at the tea, grimacing as he swallowed a few milky dregs.
...only time will tell.
Lily tilted her head side to side, considering. She fiddled with her scarf, staring hard at her reflection. Frowning, she fussed with her coat...first buttoning it up, then unbuttoning it, before finally settling on leaving it half-buttoned. Biting her lip, she stared. A soft cough behind her startled her, her hair and her long scarf whipping her face as she spun around in surprise.
"Remus! You startled me!"
Remus' quirked a small smile at her, seeming to consider her. It was rare that she couldn't read her dear friend's expressions, so she felt a jolt of unease at the unreadable look he gave her, calmly sipping at his tea, all the while.
"Well? What is it?" Lily, despite what her professor's would tell you, was not the most patient individual.
"Nothing. Don't mind me. You off for tea with Sherry, then?"
Lily stared at Remus, taking in his pleasant Mona Lisa smile and that strange glint in his eyes. "Ye~s, why?"
Remus' smile widened, and Lily felt a frown twist her mouth as he waved her off, again. Whatever he wasn't saying, she wasn't sure she wanted to hear. Lily stared hard at him a moment longer before slowly moving towards the door.
"I'll...see you later, then?" Lily disliked that she sounded so uncertain, but Remus was honestly unnerving her, the way he was watching her, all obnoxiously all-knowing.
Remus smirked—honestly smirked—and let out an annoying little "hmm" before wandering off again. Lily frowned, fighting the urge to throw her scarf at him. The nerve of him, acting all mysterious and coy. See if she'd share any of her chocolate digestives with him, ever again.
Lily blinked against the light, cursing under her breath as she turned to bury her face against the warmth beneath her. Warm...and soft...
Her lips grazed absently against an elegant neck, and she breathed in the smell of skin warmed by touch, with just a hint of expensive aftershave. After a moment, Lily's exhausted mind seemed to catch up with her, and she jerked away from the man below her. Sherry blinked at her, half-asleep, looking as lost and awkward as she felt. Lily swallowed hard, her words feeling caught in her throat.
Remus will never let me hear the end of this.
"'Morning, Lily." Sherrinford's voice was pleasantly husky. Lily couldn't even find the words to return his greeting, merely watching as he slowly tried to move about, stumbling around his salon. Heat flushed her face as her eyes trailed over long stretched of bare skin, and she hurriedly looked away.
For God's sake, don't ogle him, you idiot. You're practically drooling.
Lily scrambled for something to do, even something to say, absently taking in the empty bottles of Laphroaig (aged thirty years, and a gift from Sherry's Great-Uncle Fergus) and Pinot Noir (Château Lafite-Rothschild, 1869), lying tilted on their sides.
That would explain...a lot.
"I...good morning, Sherry." Lily bit back a wince, hating how pathetic she'd sounded. True, she'd never meant for anything like this to happen, but neither was she a pitiful virginal child, blushing and stuttering in front of her crush. She let out a rueful laugh, meeting Sherry's eyes for a moment. Lily's felt a rush of relief at Sherry's smile, understanding in an instant that this was just as awkward for him as it was for her.
Slowly, Lily searched out her clothes, pulling them on her with a grimace at the lingering smell of scotch clinging to the fabric. "Sherry, I'm sorry...I never meant..."
"I know, Lily. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, either, when I invited you over for tea." Lily winced, her eyes darting to framed photograph on the mantle of Sherry and his late wife, Embeth, in a townhouse in Paris on their honeymoon. It still held pride of place amongst the few photos, the frame looking the most handled, belying the owner's deep attachment to the subject.
Lily felt tired. Tired, and lost, and not a bit rueful. "It doesn't have to change things, Sherry. If...if you'd like, we could just call this a...pleasant accident between friends."
"Thank you, Lily. I'd like that." It was nearly ridiculous how happy her subtle reassurance seemed to make him. He beamed at her, all rumpled dark curls and glowing skin. She felt the corners of her lips twitch in an answering smile, and shook off the rest of her unease.
"Come on. I'll make us a cuppa and some toasties, then I can be on my way."
"Lead the way."
Perhaps she shouldn't have tried to sneak in like a guilty teenager, but Lily felt awkward enough without Remus smirking at her. "Not one damn word."
"I wasn't going to say—"
"I mean it...not one."
"Really, Lils, I wasn't going to scold you, or anything. You're a grown woman. You can do as you please."
Lily stared at Remus, meeting his pleasant expression evenly. Though that blasted obnoxious little smirk was twisting his lips, he didn't seem upset, or even smug. He didn't seem to have much an opinion about her night with Sherry, at all.
"You're truly not going to be an arse about this?"
"Lily, I'm surprised. It's like you don't trust me at all." If Remus' smirk was anything to go by, Lily knew that her Look said more than enough.
The day Remus doesn't take the Mickey is the day I start preparing for the Apocalypse.
Lily sniffed, ignoring his little taunting smile with practiced ease. Honestly, you'd think he was all of sixteen with the way he carried on. "Well, laugh it up now, because it was an accident. I sincerely doubt it will happen again."
Remus stared. Lily sipped her tea calmly. Remus continued to stare. She felt a twitch building between her eyebrows, and felt the childish urge to stomp her foot.
"I'll say this, Lily..."
"You have denial down to an art."
Lily scowled, and absolutely did not storm away like a child. Absolutely not.
This...is turning into a habit.
Lily sighed, not even feeling surprised to find herself waking up in Sherry's bed, limbs tangled beneath the sheets. After the first three times, she'd stopped feeling shocked at herself, and just went with it. Even so, Lily was absolutely, positively sure that this did not make she and Sherry anything more than friends. Absolutely not.
Lily turned her head into Sherry's chest, smiling sleepily as he pet her hair with a sluggish hand. "I guess I'll go put the kettle on, then."
She rolled, letting the man slide out from under her, watching as he pulled on sleep pants and his housecoat. Lily blinked against her exhaustion, fighting to stay awake. She knew she should get up, but her fatigue was well earned.
...and isn't that a lovely thought to wake up to?
Lily rolled, watching the morning sun paint the ceiling in streaks of golden light. After a moment, she slid from the bed, pulling the sheet around her as she drifted sleepily toward the siren call of a hot shower.
"How long has it been, now?"
Sherry was normally so quiet during breakfast, Lily felt mildly thrown off for a moment. How long..? What did that have to do with anything?
"How long has what been? How long have I known you, how long since the first time we..?"
Sherrinford gave Lily the same look he gave Mycroft when the boy was avoiding answering a question, and she turned away in a huff. She wasn't one of his children, so he could damn well say what he meant or go without an answer.
"How long since we've started sleeping together, Lily."
She put down her tea, turning to really look at him. Though Sherrinford wasn't particularly the playful type, he was rarely as serious as he sounded, at the moment. Still, she'd been avoiding thinking about that very thing for so long that she really wished he hadn't brought it up. Lily slowly sipped her tea, putting of answering for a few moments longer.
Sherrinford gave her an unimpressed look, and Lily winced in acknowledgment of the childish move. "It's been about a year an a half, or so. Why?"
"Don't you think that's long enough to be getting on with things, then?"
"...what? What are you talking about?"
Lily watched Sherry sip his tea calmly for a moment, before setting it down and looking at her frankly. He seemed to consider her for a moment, then picked up his cup. If his tone were droll, Lily ignored it, too baffled for a moment to react.
"We seem to enjoy each other physically, your conversation is rarely tedious, and you tolerate my troublesome children, so I don't see why we should remain in denial about where this relationship is going."
Lily felt her fingers spasm around her cup. Slowly, indignation built overcame shock. She felt her face flush. Lily's lips twisted in a truly unpleasant smile. "Oh? Where exactly do you think this relationship is going?"
She gripped her tea, reining in her urge to throw her cup at his patronizing sigh. "I don't see why you insist in owning a house you never use, and you know the boys love Remus...he'd be welcome to stay, or visit as much as he likes. It's really his choice."
"Oh, so Remus has a choice, but my agreement is a forgone conclusion, is it?
Lily caught the eye roll Sherry failed to hide in time, and felt her control give way. Satisfaction washed over him as he squawked, surprised by the toast she pelted at his head. Lily calmly sipped her tea, her hands shaking.
"Really, Lily," Sherrinford's voice was muffled by bread, "I didn't mean it like that, don't be childish—SONUVA, LIL—!"
Lily blinked, massaging her knuckles where they'd collided with Sherry's left eye. Perhaps she was being childish and stubborn about things, but she'd be damned before she let him treat her like a simpering infant. If she put up her house on Belgrave Square up on the market that evening, that was her business. Just as it was her business if she waited another three weeks before telling Sherry, and finally agreeing to move in with the aggravating man and his equally as troublesome children.
Less than three months later, Lily discovered she was pregnant.
Lily had honestly no idea how to tell Sherrinford. How does one even bring that up in conversation? Sure, she could sit him down and tell him like an adult, but that made it seem so...immediate. Anything could happen, not just with the pregnancy, but with their relationship, so wouldn't a lighter approach be better, then?
She watched helplessly as a week turned into three weeks of her not saying anything. It was ridiculous that she was so hung up on this, but she honestly felt at a loss for words. Lily knew, logically, that she'd have to tell him soon, because it's not like he wouldn't figure it out on his own, at some point...and wouldn't that be a pleasant conversation, if she just let him find out on his own?
"I don't know what you're waiting for. There's a good chance he's already figured it out, as clever as the man is."
"The longer you wait, the more awkward the conversation is going to be."
"Plus, isn't he going to be obnoxious once he realizes that you told me before him?"
"Remus! I get it! Just...let me think."
Lily ignored his mumbled "by all means," and sipped at her tea. So, it's not like she'd never planned to tell him, and it had been long enough, true...
I guess there's nothing for it.
"I'll tell him at breakfast, then. He'll probably be too tired to over-react."
Lily frowned, throwing Remus a look for the scoff he hadn't bothered to hide. Remus lifted his hands in surrender, wandering away as he sipped at his luke warm cocoa. "Fine, do what you will. Just...tell him, already."
To be fair to Remus, she was sure that he hadn't meant "blurt it out over breakfast" when he'd encouraged her to "just tell him." That didn't stop her from doing exactly that, however. Lily, nibbling on toast with ginger preserves and lemon curd, pointedly ignored Sherry's baffled look as her lover took in her odd breakfast. Even Mycroft was making a point to avoid watching her eat. Sherlock, however, was in his own world, sipping his tea and scowling at his plate, refusing to eat his kippers.
"I'm pregnant." Lily had opened her mouth to sip her tea when it has just...slipped out...and silenced the entire table.
Sherlock's fork had clattered against his plate where he'd dropped it, and was darting glances between her and his father, as if seeing them for the first time. Mycroft was carefully blank-faced, though a tinge of pink stained his round cheeks. Sherrinford, Lily cheerfully noticed, was quite noticeably at a loss for words. Though it was an unexpected boon, she basked in the victory. Lily watched, as grin stretching her lips, as he scrambled for words, his habitual poise failing him utterly. Mycroft and Sherlock turned to stare at their father, bemused by his unusual loss of poise.
After a moment, Sherrinford cleared his throat, fussed with his tie, and blurted out a breathless "Well, I guess I should marry you, shouldn't I?"
Lily calmly swallowed her bite of toast, letting the rest fall to her bread plate. She wiped her mouth, took a sip of tea, then rose from her seat. Mycroft and Sherlock watched as she calmly strolled up to Sherrinford's side and purposefully tipped his plate into his lap. It wasn't the most mature response, granted, but she was hormonal, damn it all, and his proposal had been more than vaguely insulting.
"I think you hurt mummy's feelings, papa." Lily blushed, pleased to hear Sherlock call her mummy, but didn't wait to hear Sherrinford's reply before walking out of the dining room.
Three hours. It took three hours for Sherry to get up the nerve to apologize, and Lily wasn't sure if she was more annoyed at that or for his blatant ignorance of social niceties...namely, tact. Honestly, he was going to be a terrible influence on those boys, if he kept it up. Sherry shuffled in, looking sheepish and more than a bit regretful.
Well, it's not like I didn't know he was socially stupid.
"Before you say anything, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that in front of the children...but God's sake, Sherry, do try to pull your head out of your arse. Heaven knows Sherlock is precocious enough without being blatantly rude."
"So, is that a yes, then?"
Lily rubbed the bridge of her nose, holding back a sigh. "Yes, it's a yes. Goodness knows why I love you, idiot." Her mouth twitched, trying to hide her smile from her dear idiot. Still, if he kept smiling at her like he was at the moment, she'd put up with his social awkwardness a while longer...
Despite all the dancing around each other she and James had done, their engagement had lasted a full year before they married. Though Lily would have preferred that with Sherry, she knew that it wasn't a possibility, less she wanted all of polite society (namely, Sherrinford's family), to label their baby a bastard. Honestly, she didn't care either way, as long as Sherry treated their child with the same care he treated Mycroft and Sherlock. Still, he seemed to care about his family...well, his mother's...good opinion, so Lily didn't fight him when he insisted it be a short engagement.
The engagement ring itself, yet another silly thing he'd insisted on, was fitted to her pregnancy swollen fingers, but that wasn't to be helped. Lily could have happily gone without, as it was going to be replaced, soon enough, but knew that it was the little things, the little traditions, that made it easier for him to deal with his family, who were still not completely at ease with the fact that she'd conceived before wedlock.
Before long, Lily was walking down the isle, trying not to notice how some of the wedding guests were more interested in her curved midsection than her, or even the dress her soon-to-be mother-in-law had insisted in having made for her in Paris.
You'd think we were in the Victorian era...or even in the Wizarding world...with how scandalized they look. It's not like their virgin maids, themselves.
Lily held back a sigh. The reception was lovely, admittedly, and quite lively, for a society affair, but she didn't have the energy to stand around playing nice. She'd caught more people than she could count staring at her pregnant belly before Sherrinford had caught on that his guests were not admiring his new wife's gown. Lily grasped his arm, feeling the tenseness of the muscle beneath her fingers.
"Don't bother, Sherry. We both knew that there would be a few people who'd be difficult about it. We'll just make sure to conveniently forget to ever contact them again, yes?"
"Yes, well, I've dealt with this level of snobbery before."
Lily smiled lightly at Sherrinford's inelegant snort of amusement. It was so strange. She never thought she'd be able to talk of her first husband without feeling the loss and the pain.
Lily met Sherriford's eyes, feeling warm under his soft gaze. Her hand drifted down to rest on Sherlock's thin shoulder as he leaned against her side.
...here we are.
If Sherrinford's smile was a little sharper than before, Lily didn't say anything, if only because not one of the guests dared more than a quick glance at her rounded stomach, not with the danger implied by that stare, and not with Sherrinford's two little boys giving them wide, penetrating stares, almost daring them to say anything horrid about their "new mummy."
Three months of waddling, and midnight sweats, and kicked kidneys later, Lily was in Princess Margaret Hospital, foreswearing every kind thing she'd ever thought about her husband. Sherrinford was a bastard, pure and simple. He was a bastard who was never, ever, touching her again.
"Push, darling, PUSH!"
"THAT'S NOT HELPING!"
"Breathe, Lily...breathe and push!"
Somewhere, behind the pain of being split in half, Lily felt a measure of vindictive pleasure at the squeak of pain her husband gave as she crushed his hand in her sweaty grip. Honestly, telling her to push when she bloody well was pushing already, sod it all!
"Just a few more big pushes, Mrs. Holmes! You're almost there!"
"Thank GOD! Get it out of me!"
Pain rippled through her like fire, and she let out a wail. After a moment, her wail was echoed by the wail of an infant. Lily collapsed back into the bed, dazed. She couldn't think. She was a mass of raw nerves and pain but that...that little, slimy creature was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
"It's a boy, Mrs. Holmes."
She was sure she heard sobbing that sounded like Sherrinford, but couldn't tell if he was crying because his hand was broken or because he had a new son. Either way, Lily couldn't be bothered to check, for the moment. Her attention was focused on her baby as the nurses cleaned him up. Lily glanced at Sherry as he staggered past her to the doctor's side, taking the scissors in his gloved hands and cutting the cord.
"He's so beautiful, Lily. Gods, he's a lovely little thing."
Her felt her eyes drift closed, and she floated in darkness for a long while. Time passed without notice, and she wasn't sure how long she drifted before one of the nurses, and older gentleman with graying hair, asked her if she wished to hold her son.
Lily fell in love in an instant, ignoring the pain and the mess of her ordeal, as she held her little boy. Her hand trembled as she ghosted her fingers down the small face, brushing down a small nose and a pouting bottom lip. Lily shifted a bit as the bed dipped. Sherrinford, being so very careful, cupped his hand around the back of their baby's tiny head, stroking the few fine curls. Lily basked, contented, for all of the five minutes it took for Sherrinford to open his mouth.
"I think we should name him after my mother's uncle..."
"For the last time, Sherry, he doesn't need five names!"
"Antoin-Vivien de St. Remy is a perfectly respectable name for a boy from his lineage, I'll have you know..."
"Respectably or not, it's ridiculously excessive. Do you honestly expect him to introduce himself using all five names every time he meets someone?"
"I don't see why he shouldn't."
Lily flushed at the disapproving look the nurses shot them, arguing while their new child was sleeping in their arms. Still, Sherrinford was as stubborn as Sherlock, and just as aggravatingly tenacious. Even so, Lily saw no reason to cave just for the sake of caving. Really, what child needed five names? One name, or a one first and one middle name was plenty to get along with, and just as respectable as any long-winded Holmes name.
"...and I don't see why he should have to! There's nothing indecent about a simple name, Sherry!"
Lily had prepared herself to out-stubborn Sherrinford. True, it was silly to get into such a tiff over a name, but she felt no need to saddle their son with a long name, just because they could. Still, she should have guessed that Mycroft, clever boy that he was, wouldn't let the stand-still last.
"He did what? Honestly?"
"Hmm. I'm still not sure where he found the key to the file cabinet, but he apparently sent off the birth certificate a week ago. He also seems to have set up a trust fund for him, while he was at it."
Though she shouldn't be surprised, Lily had to admit that she was, in fact, surprised at Mycroft's gall...forging their signatures and registering the birth certificate in their name. That boy was too clever by half. Still, Lily supposed that he could have chosen worse than Tristan Sherrinford Holmes for his brother's name. It was an excellent name, and blessedly simple (for a Holmes, anyway).
"You needn't look so pleased with him, just because you got your way."
"Don't be silly, Sherrinford. I'm more worried about what else he'll get up to, if he thinks he knows what's best for us."
"He'll get over it, I'm sure. Most children go through a 'bossy' stage."
Something told Lily that this wasn't the case with their eldest, but didn't argue the point. Honestly, she was done arguing, for the moment. As it was, she had enough drama to be getting on with, dealing with a sulking Sherlock, pouting that he would have chosen Carrington, and a sulky Mycroft, who'd stomped off at Sherlock's "insult."
So it was, the Holmes gentlemen welcomed another into their fold, with the ever-revered "Mummy" as the center of their worlds.