Chapter 1: Seeker of Truth
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed."
Fredric checked the house number three times before he walked up and knocked smartly on the door. The woman who answered was not what he had been expecting; she had a long face, watery blue eyes and well groomed blonde hair. In her arms was what looked like a cross between a beach ball and a baby whale. "Can I help you?" She asked snootily looking him over with narrowed eyes.
"Petunia Dursley?" Fredric asked just to be sure.
"Yes, what is this about?" She said tensing.
Fredric held out his hand and she shook it reluctantly, "I'm Fredric Sullivan, an attorney, I have some things to discuss with you…might I come in?" he said politely.
Petunia looked mildly interested and opened the door wider to allow him in. "Would you like some tea, Mr. Sullivan?" she asked as she put the beach ball into a play pen.
"If it is not too much trouble?" Fredric said as he sat down in the chair she gestured to in the living room and placed his briefcase on his lap.
Petunia came back with a tea tray a short while later along with some biscuits that looked so dry Fredric wondered if he could get away with dunking them in his tea. "Now, what's this all about?" she asked as she sat primly across from him. "Vernon is at work I'm afraid." She added as if in an afterthought.
"Oh, I'm not here to see your husband Mrs. Dursley…I'm here to see you." He said as he opened his briefcase and handed her a rather thick letter that was written on parchment…of all things. Petunia just stared at the letter in her hands, sneer in place and Fredric could see her tensing so he acted fast. "I was hired by your sister to give you that, once you have read it I am to give you some funds she has left you and other things as well." He left off mysteriously.
At the word 'funds' Petunia relaxed a little and opened the letter with stiff hands. It was a rather long letter, five pages long and Fredric had to resist the urge to try to take a peek at the contents. Watching the array of emotions play across Petunia's face told him that it was an interesting letter…not that he expected any less because he knew where it came from. Lily Potter was certainly a very interesting woman…or at least she had been.
When Petunia was finished he handed her a thousand pounds and a thick manila envelope. "I was advised to tell you that you shouldn't try to open that package, and that once you complete the assigned task (and I get confirmation of course) I am to give you another thousand pounds." Fredric said smiling politely.
Petunia's lips were rather pinched but she nodded her agreement anyways. "One last thing," Fredric said handing her a slip of paper with a hastily scribbled address, "this is where you'll find him." Fredric closed his briefcase with a smart snap and got up showing himself to the door. Before he left though he paused, "Oh, and Mrs. Dursley…good luck…he is not the…easiest man to get along with." He said then left whistling a jaunting tune.
Once Mr. Sullivan left Petunia allowed herself to slump back into her chair staring at the open letter in her hand. She sneered as she did so and smirked…it seems her sister was not as perfect as she would have had the world to believe. It was very satisfying to know that even her perfect baby sister, with her perfect life, wasn't so perfect after all. Petunia decided to read the letter one more time…to help settle all the information into her mind.
I know we have had our differences but if you are reading this letter…I have been killed and you are in possession of my little boy. I won't delude myself…I know you don't favor me and you will likely be a bit bitter about looking after my son. However, I am writing this letter to insure that you will not have to look after him a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. There is something I must admit to you that I never had the courage during my life to admit to anyone…James is not Harry's father.
Lily had gone on to tell her who the father was and what she wanted Petunia to do with the information. There was also a part in there that made Petunia pause…it made her confused about what she was feeling.
I know we have had our differences, I know I should have handled some things better…but I want you to know Petunia…I never stopped loving you. No matter what you are my sister…and I regret we never reconciled while I was still alive. I want you to know I'll be looking out for you and will be waiting for you on the other side. Hopefully you won't join me until you are old and grey. I hope your life is happy and brings you peace dear sister.
Petunia felt a lump in her throat and pushed it down ruthlessly. She did not have time for such things, Vernon would be home soon and dinner needed to be prepared. A babysitter had to be arranged for tomorrow, and Dudley needed her attention. This would have to wait until tomorrow…she couldn't possibly slip away today and do it. Yes, tomorrow, and hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow her little sister's terror will be gone from their house.
When Sherlock answered the door he was mildly surprised by what he found, an older woman with a child in her arms and a sneer on her face. A quick glance told him all he needed to know, over weight husband and son, middle class housewife that was prone to fits of jealously and liked spying on her neighbors. Not satisfied with her marriage but content enough with her arrangement believing it to be the best she was able to get for herself.
The child in her arms had his nose, cheekbones, hair, and his ear lopes…most importantly he had a very familiar set of green eyes. As this woman was not Lily Potter but had the same widow's peak…obviously a sister. "Give me the envelope," Sherlock said hand out. The woman looked startled but handed him a thick manila envelope nonetheless. Inside was a thick pile of documents, a mostly blank birth certificate and a letter addressed to him.
He placed it all back into the manila envelope and then took his time to really look at the boy in the woman's arms. He was quite pleased by what he found, the boy was looking at him with a familiar expression of intensity that he had previously only seen in the mirror and was obviously intelligent. "A moment, if you would," Sherlock said leaving her standing in the hall before she could say no and went to his room. He pried up the loose floorboards and pocketed the money there before heading back to her.
Sherlock divided the money in half and handed her the thick stack of pounds before speaking again. "I am unprepared to handle a child at the moment, come back in a week's time, the boy is to be as healthy and as well cared for as you can manage. If he is to my satisfaction then I will give you the rest of these pounds…if he is not madam…well…I'll leave it to your meager imagination and simply say whatever horrid scenario you dream up…will not even come close." He said in cool tones. The woman pinched her lips in displeasure and nodded.
"One more thing," Sherlock said grabbing a jar of ointment…it was a special compound…of his own creation of course…. He held it out to her and she took it reluctantly, "I expect you to use that cream on the cut on his forehead every six hours. I'll know if you don't. Now if that is all I have some pressing business that I must attend to…I trust you can see yourself out?" He said bitingly. She sneered at him and nodded sniffing as she left.
Sherlock closed the door once she was gone and then slumped onto the couch pressing his hands together in thought. Well, this was certainly…unexpected. Lily Potter had not been someone he thought would enter his life again and now it seemed that their past together had more consequences than he had expected. He opened the manila envelope and took out the letter that had his name written in a familiar hand.
It is more difficult than I had expected writing this letter, but I must. I know you probably never wanted to hear from me again…not with how I ended things but I have to tell you…you have a son. You have a son and you're my last hope that he will be raised with loving family. I never told James about that month, he is under the assumption that Harry was born a bit early, and I had hoped I could let the whole world believe that as well. However, if you're reading this…it means I am dead and my husband is likely as well. I know it was wrong of me to keep your son from you but after everything I didn't want to place this on you. James was so happy to be a father I hadn't the heart to tell him the truth and I was afraid of what could happen if I told you.
We named him Harry James Potter, but as I am sure you have deduced my sort aren't ones for any official documentation. What this means is that, should you decide to keep him, you can name him whatever you like. I have provided all the documentation you will need, birth certificates, custody paperwork, a medical record, all you need to do is fill out the names and sign. Hopefully this will save you some trouble and some valuable time.
Our son has so much of you Sherlock; he is so smart, started talking by eight months and was running around by nine. He knows his numbers, can recognize some written words and was quite happy to be potty trained. He was quite indignant about diapers; it was rather funny seeing your pout on him when it was time for a change. He loves learning, and when I read to him. He likes vegetables but it is rather hard convincing him to eat sometimes. A very picky eater, I'm afraid.
Sherlock saw a smear in the ink; obviously Lily had cried a bit while writing this and had to stop for a while. It was an inconvenience writing with a quill and ink…it smeared too easily.
I can't tell you any more about my sort than you had already deduced from our time together, there are laws you see, and I can't enlighten you now anymore than I did then. However, I will tell you that should you deduce anything on your own to be very careful on whom you speak to about it…they don't take kindly to being discovered and I would hate it if they messed with that massive brain of yours. Be careful Sherlock, the people who killed me are very likely to come after you as well if they discover our son in your care. Please protect him, and look after yourself.
Sherlock read the rest of the letter quickly and put it aside afterwards. He leaned back into the couch and for the first time in over two years thought of Lily Potter. They had met quite by accident in the underground, she had been such a puzzle and he had less tack than normal being on a nice high. She had surprised him; she hadn't been offended by his deductions and had giggled at him. Not like how most women giggle at him either since she had been…at that time…very faithful to her husband.
They had lunch, had a heated debate over whether or not 'time-travel' (of all things) could be theoretically achievable and for the first time in a long time Sherlock hadn't been bored. Lily had been a fascinating bundle of contradiction, from a low income upbringing but married well. However, she had refused to utilize her new husband's finances and had not married him for his money. She wore well cared for clothes but he could tell she hadn't worn that particular set in a long time.
She wrote using quills, used odd slang words and was obviously hiding something. However, Sherlock had known about that 'hidden' society for a while. (Honestly, who did they think they were kidding? They left enough evidence a blind idiot should have been able to figure it out.) That hadn't been what was interesting about Lily…no she was interesting in spite of her ties to that group of inbred cultists. They had exchanged addresses and had kept in touch through the mail.
That had been interesting for a while, traditional mail was so dreadfully slow Sherlock hardly ever bothered with it but writing Lily had been different. She debated, he logically deduced, and they enjoyed the exercise. Lily had even taken to writing in code and seeing how long it took him to deduce the answers. An enjoyable pastime. Then one day Lily had shown up at his door in tears and of course she hadn't needed to say a word.
He had deduced that she and her husband had been fighting from her letters…though she never outright said. Getting an armful a crying woman had been uncomfortable but he had managed. She had stayed with him for three days before anything…untoward happened. In spite of what many people believed Sherlock knew the intricacies of intercourse and he simply didn't indulge in it as often as most. Lily had been the one who had come to him in the night, seeking comfort of the physical sort and Sherlock was not against the idea.
Living with Lily had been an interesting experience, she cleaned up after him, commented on the experiments he was conducting and often forced him to eat when she cooked meals. Lily smiled when he deduced, congratulated him on a job well done and was surprisingly pleasant to be around. Then at night she would come to him seeking comfort from his arms. Sherlock had never had a person be so…nice…indulgent perhaps…accommodating…gentle to him. This had gone on for two weeks before the owls came with letters tied to their legs. Lily tried to hide them from him but it was a futile effort.
Lily's husband James, a brutish man with more brawn than intellect was a bully, a pampered son of a wealthy family that had few social graces and a loutish disposition. He was beneath Lily in every way and didn't deserve her affection. The man had been callous to her needs, careless with his words the man often hurt her without any intention to do so…and yet he did. The lackadaisical way he handled Lily had belittled and degraded the strong woman. The worst part was that the man was too idiotic and set in his outdated ways that he had no idea that he was even hurting her most of the time.
Sherlock had read his letters when Lily had slept and had deduced much from them. He didn't like what he saw. James was a pampered bully that had only managed to trap Lily into a marriage because he had used her vulnerability in a weak moment to entice Lily's sentiment. He had charmed, cajoled, and tricked Lily into thinking herself enamored with him. He proposed with an extravagant ring, offered Lily everything she had never had growing up…a life of security…and Lily, since she thought herself in love, had accepted.
Perhaps she had fallen to the sentiment most women had over marriage, that fabled ever after, but Sherlock had never asked her true reasons for marrying James. The fact remained that Lily had married a man she had reviled most of her childhood and eventually came to realize she did not love him. However, Lily was a woman of high moral standards and a very stubborn disposition. Lily had not intended to start an affair with him and the guilt for it was eating at her. Sherlock had known before she did that Lily was going to leave him and return to her strained marriage.
He could tell from the nervous fiddling of her wedding ring that she only took off at night when they were intimate, from the quiet forlorn stares out the window and the tensing of her shoulders as another owl came to peck at the windows. James had never known about him and their correspondences during the months before she had shown up at his door. Lily had made her excuses for not telling him, he would be needlessly jealous, he was overly possessive, and she didn't want him to get the wrong idea.
The truth was that Lily found James as dull as Sherlock did most people. James couldn't hope to come close to Lily's intellect and she couldn't have meaningful conversation with her husband since he had not the mental power to grasp anything she said. Sherlock had been smug to know that Lily was challenged by him, that she came to him for his mind and not his appearance (as most females tend to do). Lily had tried to sneak away in the night but Sherlock had found her out easily enough.
Their parting was not a pleasant one; his words were more biting and targeted to hurt her as she had hurt him. Her words were cold and unfeeling…a stark contrast to her normally warm temperament. Lily had given as well as she got and then she had gone. Just like that the world he had grown used to was ripped from him…no one smiled and said welcome home. He had lost himself to the nirvana of the high after that and he had yet to crawl his way out of the pit of addiction.
I know it means so little now, but I am sorry Sherlock. I…I was frightened and thought I had to give my marriage the chance to be what it was in the beginning. However, James as much as I loved him I was no longer in love with him…not after knowing you. Sherlock, I do love you and I hope that one day you will forgive me for leaving. If I had stayed maybe I would be alive now, you could have seen as our baby had grown inside of me and had held my hand during his birth. Perhaps our son would have been even further along than he is now and have more of you mannerisms. I am sorry I never gave us that chance Sherlock, but know…that with all of my heart that I wished I had. I wish I had been brave enough to leave James, leave all this behind, and had been strong enough to stay where I truly wanted to be…at your side.
I know you are not one for sentiment or useless pondering…I just wanted you to know I thought of you often. You drove me to distraction and the 'what-if's haunted me. James was a good dad, he loved our son…but Sherlock I am sure with every ounce of my being that you will be a great father. I wish I had lived to see our son grow into a man…it's up to you now.
Sherlock put the letter aside, reading it was driving him to distraction and he needed to think. He was an addict, Sherlock did not shrink from that title, and now he had to get clean. Fast. He had a child to look after and he could not do that awash with drugs. It would hurt detoxing his body without any assistance but it had to be done. He had a week to get clean and recover enough to manage a child. A challenge but Sherlock loved challenges.