AN: Back again...took longer than I'd have liked, but here it is! Another short chapter. Still building. We'll get there.
Thank you, as always, for reading and reviewing! I appreciate your support!
"Ha-John! Sherlock!" Ron greeted his visitors, opening the door to the homey flat he shared with Hermione near Diagon Alley.
John smiled back at him warmly and caught him in a firm, quick embrace. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
Ron ushered them in from the hallway, shutting the door behind them and raising a quick privacy ward.
"Hermione!" He called down the hall with a broad grin, "They're here!"
Sherlock scowled at the shout, and made a show of rubbing at his ear.
"Sherlock," John spoke in a low, warning tone.
Sherlock sighed and returned to a neutral-yet-annoyed expression just as a frizzy-haired blur ran straight into John, embracing him tightly.
"John! Oh, it's so good to see you!" a small voice sounded from under all that hair.
"Oh, calm down," Sherlock sneered. "It's not as though you haven't seen him last week."
The woman, Hermione, sniffed and relaxed her hold. "That doesn't change the way I want to great my friend," she scolded the detective. "Though you did say you hadn't mentioned your visit last time," she looked at John, crossing her arms.
"I didn't," he laughed warmly, and patted her shoulder. "How long did it take you to deduce?" He asked his flatmate.
The corner of Sherlock's lips twitched, which John read – accurately – as the Holmsian-equivalent of an indulgent smirk. He declined to answer.
"In any case, I've looked forward to meeting you, Sherlock," Hermione stated, extending her right hand.
Sherlock shook it and said, "Congratulations," glancing over her quickly.
"Congratulations?" Ron asked. "What for?"
Hermione merely eeped, eyes wide.
"Is that not the proper etiquette for meeting an expectant mother?" Sherlock asked, looking to John for confirmation.
"Expec…" Ron didn't finish the word, looking from Sherlock to Hermione dazedly.
John's mouth hung open for just a moment, when Hermione began to laugh.
"Surprise?" she offered to Ron. "It's early yet, I didn't want to say until I was a little further along."
"Yes, a surprise, given the ages of your other children," Sherlock stated. "Clearly unplanned, but not unwanted. You did come from a rather large family, Weasley, did you not?" He clasped his hands behind himself awkwardly.
Ron nodded dumbly.
John coughed, watching Ron blink, still dazed. Hermione blushed fiercely. "So that's three, then?" he asked.
"Yes," Hermione clarified. "Hugo, Rose, and now…well, I suppose we'll need a name."
"You've a ways to go if you want to compete with Molly and Arthur's brood," John laughed.
Hermione swatted at his arm. "I think three is a perfectly acceptable number."
"And one more than planned," Sherlock added.
Hermione laughed, and appraised Sherlock more closely. "How could you possibly…" she narrowed her eyes as she stepped towards him, tapping an index finger against her bottom lip. "Inductive reasoning based on observation," she concluded. "But very shrewd, keen observation, and the ability to process the minutia into an accurate conclusion must require an astounding recall and processing speed, not to mention the memory necessary for the supporting data to fuel the process." Hermione took a breath. "Amazing."
Sherlock's lips tightened just slightly. "Deduction, not induction," he corrected.
Hermione squared her shoulders and crossed her arms.
John tried not to grin to widely as he shared a glance with a still dazzled Ron. Even in his current state, he recognized his wife's lecture stance. Ron grinned back at John, perhaps with a slightly sharp edge
"Arriving at a conclusion based on particular pieces of evidence," Hermione stated. "That's what you do." She sounded very sure.
Sherlock shook his head as he, too, crossed his arms. "Were there only one possible conclusion," he replied. "Deduction. Any number of conclusions – many of them erroneous – could be reached with the data I collect with my observations. Eliminating the extraneous information and false conclusions until only the truth remains is a process of deduction."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "It's both, then. You can't claim induction has no role in your process."
Sherlock uncrossed his arms and nodded. "Of course," he allowed. "All rational reasoning is valuable."
"Then let's put those reasoning skills to work," Hermione indicated the kitchen table covered in books, scrolls, and notes scrawled across scraps of parchment and led Sherlock away from the entry hall. Their voices trailed off as Hermione described the work the former golden trio had started to watch for signs of Moriarty in the Wizarding world.
John shook his head and turned to laugh with Ron at how the two brains had taken so quickly to each other. "Well how do you like that," he said.
"Blimey," he exhaled, ignoring John's comment. "I'm going to be a dad!" The red-head smiled a goofy, toothy smile, "Again!"
John laughed, and clapped him on his shoulder. "It's great news, Ron. Congratulations!"
Ron beamed in reply.
"Naked women and spies?" Ron laughed. "Really, mate, couldn't you even try to be normal?"
John mumbled his response into his tea.
"I'm sure it's not as funny as it sounds," Hermione comforted him. "No one really wants to be put in life-threatening situations."
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow pointedly in John's direction.
"Well, I shouldn't say no one, I suppose," Hermione self-corrected, spurring her husband on to another bout of laughter.
"It's like he goes looking for it." Sherlock commented, as John blushed. "Quite the adrenaline junkie." The detective's tone was dry, but his eyes danced with delight as Ron and Hermione chuckled again. He had never been a part of such camaraderie before. Though, he'd observed it in others. He'd wondered about it briefly, before dismissing it as not quite for him. Now, he was discovering the merits of teasing a friend in good humor.
"Sure, and I suppose you're the innocent bystander here," John replied as he set his tea cup down, "and not my supplier."
"It's not about the adrenaline, John," Sherlock denied, "It's about the Work!"
John shook his head and laughed softly. The evening had gone better than he'd hoped. He'd kept his promise of another visit to Ron and Hermione, and his promise to take Sherlock back to the magical world, and it had ended in neither violence nor tears.
They'd shared their efforts at identifying the shadier characters in Diagon and - more importantly – Knockturn Alleys with Sherlock, as well as their plan to utilize sympathetic and freed house elves to watch for signs of Moriarty. Ron had contacted a few members of the old Order of the Phoenix who could provide eyes and ears in various ministry departments, key businesses, and at Hogwarts. Sherlock had recommended adding an informant in Gringotts, as well, and had laughed at John's recommendation of Mycroft.
The thought of Moriarty infiltrating the Wizarding world so shortly after its recovery from the last Wizarding War was horrifying to John. Yet, sitting with his friends, planning and preparing with some of the best minds he'd ever known instilled him with a sense of confidence and resolve.
"Look mate," John spoke lowly, his warm hand holding Ron's shoulder steady in the dark at the threshold to his building. "Keep an extra eye out, yeah?"
Ron's eyes darted around the empty street. "Worried about surveillance?"
John nodded and glanced in Sherlock's direction. He stood at the bottom of the steps from the building's entrance to the street, collar up, hands in coat pockets, rocking on his heels.
"Those killers we ran into at Adler's place," John explained, "Were well trained. Sherlock suspects a Langley connection."
"Like those American muggle spooks?" Ron's eyebrows disappeared into ginger fringe.
"Just keep an extra eye out. If they're following us, I don't want to drag you into all this."
Ron clapped his friend on his back. "It was good seeing you, John," he said. The name still felt awkward in his mouth, but it was getting easier every time.
"Come on, John!" Sherlock beckoned.
John shook his head as he pulled away from Ron's quick embrace. "See you soon, Ron," he grinned and trotted down the steps to join the detective.
Sherlock began walking the moment John's stride caught up with him.
"Door steps are an awful place for a sensitive conversation," Sherlock scolded.
John bobbed his head in agreement. "Needed saying, though."
Sherlock sighed. "With proper vigilance, the warning is redundant and the risk is increased by such conversations, rather than diminished," his tone equal measures petulance and pedagogy.
Sherlock turned his head, eyebrow quirked in inquiry.
"CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" John shouted without warning, grinning broadly as Sherlock flinched away in surprise.
John laughed harder, hearing a familiar guffaw from Ron as they walked away.
updated chapter - just the end bit on 16 April 2016