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Title: C/O 221B Baker Street, Muggle London
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: PG
Prompt: John and Sherlock are forced to adopt a 7-year-old Harry Potter.
Other: written for an anon for the Sherlock kinkmeme. You can find the original prompt and fill here.

It was a perfectly ordinary day. There was clear weather outside, and though the sky was rather more grey than blue, there was enough tepid sunlight filtering through the clouds to warm the passerby that ambled along the sidewalks below in their fall coats. The flat was relatively quiet, save the occasional shift-scratch of paper as Sherlock flipped the pages of the London Sun.

Over the course of his lifetime and his various careers, both official and unofficial, John had grown to become suspicious of ordinary days. It was always on the most apparently ordinary days that the most extraordinary things happened. While that wasn’t to say that John didn’t enjoy ordinary days, it was simply that he always felt as if he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Living with Sherlock, it usually did.

As John leaned to pick up his rapidly-cooling mug of tea, there was a knock at the door. He glanced to Sherlock, who didn’t even raise his eyes to show he’d heard or cared about the knock. With a sigh, John clambered to his feet and went to get it himself.

“Good afternoon, John,” Mycroft said with a thin but pleasant smile. He strode in, twirling his umbrella in one hand. By this point, John knew better than to ask if he could hang it up for him; the answer would always be an unequivocal ‘no.’

“Afternoon, Mycroft. What brings you around?”

“There’s something I need to discuss with you and – Sherlock, I know you can hear me from in there. You may as well show yourself and be civilized.”

Sherlock’s voice floated, disembodied, from the sitting room around the corner. “John, I think you may have left the door open. Do close it, lest something nasty lets itself in.”

John rolled his eyes. “Come on in, Mycroft,” he said, shutting the door behind him and motioning towards the sitting room. It was best to bring business to Sherlock on days when Sherlock didn’t feel like moving. “Tea?”

“No thank you.” Mycroft stepped in smoothly, settling himself down across from Sherlock. John nodded, following him in and reclaiming his chair. “Now, I suppose I should begin by-“

“Why are you here?” Mycroft shot Sherlock a dark look for interrupting, but Sherlock didn’t seem to notice. “You don’t have a case for us, that much is obvious. And you of all people would know that I’m not really up to doing you any favors.”

“Sherlock…” John murmured over the lip of his mug, but he left the admonishment hanging.

“No, it’s alright, John. I know that Sherlock always appreciates it when we get straight to the point.”

“Indeed. So would you be so kind as to do so?”

“Very well. To put something of a blunt face on it, I’m here to ask that you accept the position of legal guardian for a young boy. He’s seven years old, so I shan’t accept any whining about nappies as an excuse,” he said with a nod towards Sherlock.

John just about dropped his mug, managing only at the last second to regain his grip and prevent a mess. “I’m sorry? You want Sherlock to adopt a child? What exactly makes you think this would be a good idea?”

“I wouldn’t, except that I trust your capacity as a good influence, John, on both Sherlock and the boy. And the circumstances make such a move… frighteningly necessary.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “In what sense?”

“He was living with his maternal aunt’s family. Not only were they hideous examples of human beings, but they were emotionally abusive and neglectful. He has been sleeping in the cupboard beneath the staircase,” Mycroft concluded with an icy expression that boded ill for whatever pitiful creatures were on the receiving end of it.

“Oh, God,” John said, setting down his mug in horror. “In the cupboard?”

Mycroft nodded. “Exactly. The man who arranged his current housing did so under the reign of my predecessor. You can be assured that were I to have been in office at the time, this would never have occurred,” he said darkly. “They were his closest family ties, after the death of his parents. Since they are indubitably unsuitable guardians, we have had to look for the next closest blood relative. That would fall upon our family.”

“And you couldn’t take him?” Sherlock said acidly.

That only earned him a scoff from Mycroft. “Really, Sherlock, do you think I have the time to devote to raising a child?”

Sherlock looked unconvinced. “Exactly what family ties are these, anyway?”

“He’s the son of our aunt Sophia’s brother Reginald’s niece, Lily. Our cousin, technically, once removed.”

“We don’t have an aunt Sophia,” Sherlock said flatly.

Mycroft cleared his throat. “Actually… we do.”

“Strange. Mummy neglected to inform me of this in the course of my childhood.”

“That’s because she’d decided it was in your best interest not to know. You see, Sherlock, aunt Sophia is a witch. Our whole family’s made of witches and wizards, but you’re a squib – that is, a child born to a magical family without actually having magic themselves. Given the choice between dangling something in front of you your whole life that you couldn’t have or allowing you to think that the world is somewhat simpler than it actually is, we chose the latter.”

“Very funny, Mycroft.”

“I knew you’d say that.” With that, he drew his wand out of seemingly nowhere, flicking it in Sherlock’s direction. “You simply won’t believe anything you haven’t seen for yourself. An admirable trait, of course, Sherlock, but something of a frustration when we’re trying to work out bigger issues. Now, hold still. Wingardium leviosa!”

Sherlock’s expression swiftly turned from sullen glaring to frozen shock as he began to lift bodily out of the couch. Mycroft kept his wand pointed at Sherlock, tilting it further to raise Sherlock a full foot and a half above the couch cushions. After he decided that his example was proof enough, he lowered Sherlock back down to the sofa and slid his wand away. Sherlock opened his mouth, but for a moment, nothing at all came out.

Finally, he managed, “This is madness! Utter madness! John, I w- … John, why aren’t you up in arms? You saw that, didn’t you? Don’t tell me I’m hallucinating!”

John paused, licking his lips. “Sherlock… the thing is, I’m a wizard, too.”

Sherlock looked betrayed.

“Sherlock, don’t give me that face! Honestly, I just thought you were a muggle when I met you, and then when Mycroft kidnapped me, he made me promise not to tell.”

Sherlock’s fingers tightened on the armrest of the sofa. “Strange. That’s the first time you’ve followed one of Mycroft’s orders.”

“Yes, but Mycroft’s the Minister of Magic, so I can’t just go-“

“The what?!”

“The Minister of Magic. It’s sort of like… like the wizarding version of the Prime Minister. They run the government and act as a liaison to the muggle world.”

Mycroft steepled his fingers. “Sherlock, when you said before that I was the British government, you were right. I’m just not exactly the British government you were referring to.”

“Is there anything else anyone wants to tell me? Hmm?! Perhaps that you’re an alien, John, or that Lestrade is actually a very well-made robot? Maybe there are fairies wandering about London?”

John winced. “Well, there… there actually are fairies, yeah, but they’re nasty little buggers, as soon bite your finger off than grant any wishes, and …” he trailed off upon seeing the pinched look on Sherlock’s face. “Right. Anyway,” he said, clearing his throat.

“Yes. The entire matter of magic is besides the point. I’m sure that John can fill you in later.” John had the brief urge to throttle Mycroft for putting the entire responsibility for explaining the wizarding world to Sherlock on his shoulders. “The real point is the boy. Will you or will you not provide a home for him?”

John sighed. “Not that I appreciate you putting us on the spot like this, realize, but… His last family was monstrous to him, and he has nowhere else to go? I don’t know how we could turn him away.”

There was a moment of silence. Sherlock cast a long look at John, who could all but hear the cogs whirling his head, before he nodded. “Very well.” John blinked, surprised, but pleasantly so.

Mycroft beamed, putting a hand over each of John’s and Sherlock’s. “Wonderful!”

There seemed to be some unspoken signal, because as soon as Mycroft had removed his hands, Anthea stepped through the door, shepherding along a boy in front of her. And part of John that was ridiculous, because they’d only agreed thirty seconds ago, and it was patently incredible that they would be thrusting a seven-year-old boy at them after they’d only just said ‘yes.’

But then, the boy was there, and there was no arguing with that fact.

He had black hair sprouting up in all directions, as if confusing onlookers and inciting pity for his poor hair care was his only real self-defense mechanism. His hands were lost within the sleeves of an old plaid shirt, far too large on him, though the slight shifts and tremors in the fabric seemed to indicate that he was fidgeting them nervously out of sight. He stared at his shoes through the lenses of a gigantic pair of glasses, constantly sliding down his nose, that couldn’t quite manage to disguise the brilliant green of his eyes.

“Sherlock, John, I’d like you to meet Harry James Potter.”

John choked dangerously on the mouthful of tea he’d just sipped. It took several minutes and a pound to his chest for the coughing to die down. “Harry – Harry Potter?! You didn’t say he was Harry Potter!”

“Oh, didn’t I? My, my, what an oversight.” Mycroft’s innocent expression was suspiciously blank. Though the entire conversation was whizzing by straight over Sherlock’s head, John was beginning to understand exactly why Sherlock referred to Mycroft as his archenemy. The man was evil. An evil unholy genius. That was probably how he’d gotten elected as Minister in the first place.

Sherlock frowned, examining Harry from his seat on the couch for a moment before returning his gaze to Mycroft. “Can we at least assume that you will arrange all of the paperwork and official documents for us, or would that also be an oversight on your behalf?”

Mycroft lightly tapped his umbrella against the floor. “No, you’re quite right, my office will ensure that all legalities are taken care of.” He rose to his feet, nodding.

“Well, at least there’s that…” John mumbled.

“Now, I suppose it’s best to leave you three to bond, hmm? Do enjoy yourselves.” With that, Mycroft and Anthea apparated out of the room with a resounding crack. Sherlock stared at the empty spots where they had been standing. From the thin set of his lips, it was clear that he was restraining himself from waving his hands through the air where they had disappeared.

John revised his previous judgment. Mycroft was a very cruel evil unholy genius. There was simply no other explanation for it. He sighed, rubbing his temples. He could feel a headache coming on already.

The flat was quiet for a long moment, the hesitantly ponderous quiet that settled in when nobody was quite sure what to do or say. It was only the faint scuffle of a trainer tread against the hardwood floor by the doorway that reminded John and Sherlock that Harry was actually still there. John swiftly dropped his hands, returning his attention to the boy.

Harry stood in the hall, fingers knotting together in a loop of wrinkled fabric, trying to pretend like he wasn’t looking around the flat with curiosity. God, he was so young. Had John been that small when he was seven, too? He bit his lip, then got to his feet, stepping over to Harry and kneeling down in front of him so that he could talk to him on his level.

“Hi, Harry,” he said, extending a hand out to him to show that he intended to treat him like an equal. There would be no cupboards under the stair in this flat. “My name’s John. John Watson.”

After blinking at John’s hand for a moment, Harry cautiously put out his own and shook. “H’lo,” he said, and while that was hardly the most eloquent response, it was something. They could work with that.

“Nice to meet you. That’s Sherlock. Say hello, Sherlock.”

Sherlock was watching them with his chin resting on his interlaced fingers. Still, he had apparently decided that he was going to allow John the lead in this venture, so he said obediently, “Hello,” and John was pleased to note that he didn’t sound grudging about it.

“H’lo,” Harry repeated, looking at Sherlock from under his impressive mop. So far, his vocabulary seemed to consist of one word. Considering the home he came from, John wasn’t entirely surprised that he was reticent to chatter.

“How about you go sit next to Sherlock, and I’ll see if we’ve got some biscuits?”

Harry paused, then bobbed his head in a nod. He padded over towards the sofa and climbed onto the seat opposite Sherlock. He perched carefully, careful not to allow his trainers to dirty the couch, even though it was already hopeless after the beating Sherlock had given it over the years. No doubt a behavior conditioned into him from his aunt’s. It just about broke John’s heart.

Still, unless he wanted Lestrade hunting him down for the cold-blooded murder of a London family, it was best not to think about that for now. He rummaged through the contents of the cupboards for anything sugary a child might enjoy that wasn’t contaminated with some sort of poison, virus, bacteria, mold colony, or contact with human remains. It was a bit of a desperate search, and he was finally forced to lower his standards and accept the dusty box of plain shortbread biscuits that had been stuffed at the back of the cupboard since May. When he unwrapped them, though, they were still crunchy, and they were unquestionably clean of infection, and that would have to do for the moment. He sighed and returned to the sitting room, setting them on the coffee table in front of Harry.

“There we are, then. Help yourself.”

Harry looked at John as if he’d told him that they were going to have a bouncy castle installed in the flat for his own personal enjoyment. He realized only belatedly that if Harry had been relegated to the cupboard under the stairs, it was unlikely that he was told to eat as many biscuits as he wanted with any sort of regularity.

After a moment, Harry reached out and took one, crunching hesitantly. When nobody told him that they’d changed their minds, he smiled widely and mumbled around the crumbs in his mouth, “Thank you!”

Sherlock tilted his head ever so slightly, a look John had come to know very well as his deducting face, and opened his mouth. “While your aunt’s family told y-“

John stepped on his foot. Hard. “Eat as many as you like, Harry, we’ve just had dinner and couldn’t eat another bite,” he said with a smile that turned decidedly pointed when it was aimed at Sherlock, who cast him a withering look in return. There would be no discussing details of Harry’s past today – or, at the very least, not out loud. These were things that they could discuss later, once Harry felt comfortable around them. John was sure that Harry had been unhappy enough, but Sherlock’s manner of tolling out personal miseries like yesterday’s laundry would do nothing to help the matter.

Harry made a happy noise and what sounded like an enthusiastic ‘okay!’

“Now, as far as your room,” John continued, “we’re going to have to make a few changes around here.”

“Yes,” interrupted Sherlock with a sharp look. “We don’t have room here.” And judging by his expression, moving was an entirely unacceptable conclusion. Though he may have accepted Harry joining them, that didn’t mean that he was going to stop being an obstinate pain in the ass.

“Not a problem.” John cast him a slow smile that was colored by a roguish smirk at the edges. “We can hire a few wizarding architects. Harry hired this group once; pretty prompt and efficient. Wouldn’t mind doing business with them again.” He folded open his wallet, flipping through the various business cards that were neatly organized within the pockets. “Where did their – ha! There we are.”

Out came one cream-colored card, which John set on the coffee table. He slipped his hand into the sleeve of his jumper, pulling out his wand from a slyly hidden forearm holster. Short and stout, a hearty hornbeam, excellent for counter-curses. Sherlock eyed it as John drew it out, no doubt wondering exactly how he had missed its presence. “I don’t have an owl on me, so I’ll have to use their little charm-card.” He tapped a red spot on the card thrice with the tip of his wand, and then the spot turned blue.

Rordham’s Redecoration and Rearchitecturation, Richard Rordham speaking,” came a smooth voice appearing to resonate straight from the card.

It was possibly just a little sadistic, but John would forever treasure the expression on Sherlock’s face when he jumped upon hearing Rordham’s voice.

“Afternoon, Mr. Rordham, Dr. John Watson. I’m currently living out in muggle London, and I need to add another interior room without violating the exterior. Don’t need any muggles asking questions. Anyway, I remembered the work you did on my sister’s place, and I thought I’d give you a call, see if you could come out and give it a look.”

Watson, Watson… Harriet Watson?”

“That’s the one!”

Of course! I’m due for a standard floor-and-ceiling-swap out in Blackpool at four, but I could drop by around… say, six? If that’s not too late.”

“Not at all. That would be lovely, especially on such short notice. We’re at 221B Baker Street. Do you need apparition coordinates?”

No, no, I should be fine. Did a job a block east last month; I could use the exercise!

“Alright, then. Look forward to it. Thank you, Mr. Rordham.”

Thank you, Dr. Watson.”

John tapped the spot twice, and it suffused back to its original red. He slid his wand away and settled back in his chair before looking up again. Though he had been told of magic briefly by Mycroft, Harry still looked as if John had just hung the moon. Sherlock, on the other hand, looked as if he was torn between swallowing a sour lemon and scientific amazement.

“Right, then.”

For a moment, he was lost at sea. The flat was all too quiet after Rordham’s departure. He drummed his fingers on his knees absently. Now what was he supposed to do? It was hard enough to entertain Sherlock for a day at home without cases, but to entertain Sherlock and a seven-year-old boy? They had seemingly endless hours to fill until six in the evening rolled around, and – oh, God, this was a day at home without cases. What were they going to do when they had crime scenes to visit and work to do? When John had to go to the hospital, or worse, when Sherlock was having one of his sullen turns and was no more fit to take care of himself than to take care of Harry? He’d told Mycroft they could do this, but really, what business did he have saying yes to something this monumental? There were poisons and guns and drugs in their house, and they’d just said they could take care of an innocent child, and Harry was inevitably going to end up dead in a ditch somewhere and it was all going to be their fault because they were completely unsuitable guardians for –

“Are you hungry?”

John raised his head, momentarily interrupted from his internal apocalypse.

Unexpectedly, Sherlock had aimed the question at Harry, who was fiddling with a few loose threads on his oversized shirt.

Harry shrugged mildly, but raised his head. “A little.”

“Do children eat Chinese?”

It was such an absurd question that John was almost tempted to laugh, but he was too busy staring in desperate amazement at Sherlock.

“… I like Chinese…” Harry said cautiously, unsure of what the correct answer was, but obviously convinced that an answer of some sort was, nonetheless, required.

“Very well, then. Chinese.” With that, Sherlock stood, looking as decisive as if he had just told Lestrade that the killer was actually lying stunned in the cellar, and could they please start giving Anderson a face mask for the sake of humanity.

John watched him tug on his great coat and scarf, then they both looked to Harry, in his worn shirt and jeans. Sherlock grabbed an old zip-up jumper of John’s that was lying on the couch and draped it over Harry’s shoulders. It came down nearly to his knees, but it was thick wool that would keep him warm, and that was what counted. Harry looked pleased by the gesture, even though they could probably have fit three of him inside the jumper.

“Are you coming to eat, John, or are you going to stare all day?”

He couldn’t help a single exhale that was nearly a laugh before he clambered to his feet, eyeing Sherlock and Harry with a growing smile that warmed him deep between his ribs.

Thank God. Maybe they wouldn’t end up killing Harry before he turned seventeen.

All in all, it was rather anticlimactic. They got a table for three – John nearly tripped over his own tongue correcting it from their usual ‘two’ to the poor waiter – and they each ordered their usuals while he explained to Harry what was in lo mein. Harry was relatively quiet, but he would answer when they prompted him.

Soon enough, though, they ran out of questions. They talked amongst themselves instead for a little while, and it was no small victory that after a time Harry was feeling comfortable enough around them to pipe up in the midst of their conversation with a little, “What are you, then?”

John smiled to himself. That was the spirit. “Well, I’m a doctor. So I heal people for a living. But I’m also his friend,” he said, pointing his chopsticks at Sherlock, “and I help him out.”

At that point, Harry swiveled around to peer at Sherlock. “What are you?”

Sherlock, not having entirely grasped the limited vocabulary of seven-year-old boys, said, “I’m a consulting detective.”

“That means he’s smart for a living,” John translated with a grin.

Harry nodded sagely. “Okay.” He paused for a minute, trying clumsily to pick up a noodle with his pair of chopsticks. “Our neighbor Mrs. Figg is smart,” he finished, with the nuanced conversational connections of children everywhere.

“Pah!” this earned him from Sherlock. “Patently unlikely.”

Harry blinked at Sherlock with a wide-eyed look John had previously only seen on the faces of very small owls. It occurred to him that this was exactly the sort of audience Sherlock had always dreamed of: easily awed, not liable to interrupt, and impressionable. He had probably doomed poor Harry to the next ten years of listening to Sherlock ramble about proper scientific theory. I could be arrested for child abuse for that, he thought with amusement.

“Take, for instance,” Sherlock continued on, “your trainers-“

John cleared his throat pointedly. Sherlock paused to cast him a glance, and he muttered quietly, “Remember, he’s only seven.” There was a moment of awkward staring in which it appeared that Sherlock was sorting through exactly what rules John was trying to lay down for him, before he made a jerky-graceful nod, the sort of contradiction that was all Sherlock, and returned to his deduction.

“Your trainers. As I was saying. Obviously second-hand, but they don’t fit right. Nobody buys shoes that don’t fit at a second-hand shop, so they’re hand-me-downs. You were living with your aunt’s family, so your cousin. A boy, by the colors. Fat, by the size. Unusually fat, by the breaking seams on the very outside edge of the sole of the foot. But the shoelaces are strangely worn at the plastic ends, which says that the previous owner was not very good at tying shoes, so he was also exceedingly stupid – your knots are much neater, bravo, Harry – and a bit of a glutton, if the brown old ketchup stain is anything to go by. The only real wear on the tread matches your smaller feet, which tells me that he was a sedentary boy, avoiding any physical activity whenever he could.”

At this point, Harry had given up on his lo mein entirely to stare at Sherlock.

“So, what we have is a male cousin, very fat, bad at tying shoes, very stupid, messy eater, and a complete slug-about lazy bum. A very nasty person indeed. Am I close?” he finished with a smirk.

Harry’s mouth formed a small ‘o.’ “Wo~ow!” he said, drawing out the vowels until the ‘w’s hardly knew where they were supposed to fall. “That’s brilliant!”

“What was his name?” John asked gently.

“Dudley. Aunt Petunia calls him Duddykins.”

Both John and Sherlock grimaced in disgust.

“There is one good thing about that hellchild,” Sherlock said, raising one eyebrow.

“What?” Harry took the bait, forehead furrowing. He couldn’t think of a single good thing to say about him.

Sherlock leaned over the table with a mischievous grin. “He’s not allowed in our flat.”

Harry didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the meal. John found that he was having difficulty doing so as well.

They caught a cab back an hour before Rordham’s arrival. John opened the door to let him in; he was clad head to toe in a bright peacock blue that John supposed must have been fashionable. His robes were a more modern cut, nearly an Indian design, featuring a long robe over matching, sharp trousers. He would have attracted attention outside on the muggle streets, but at least nobody would have thought that he was dressing up for Halloween, like some wizards he knew.

“Come on in, Mr. Rordham.”

“Don’t mind if I do!”

Sherlock looked up from where he had been inspecting the marks on a few reams of paper. Though very little could tear him away from his experiments, he had clearly decided that he was painfully ignorant of the world of magic and was doing everything in his power to fix that fault. He set his papers down, heading over. Harry, who had been watching him like a hawk, scurried after.

“So, the thing is, Mr. Rordham, this is all we’ve got to work with, but we need a new room.”

Rordham spotted Harry following Sherlock and smiled. “I think I can see why! You want your own room at this age, hm?”

Harry nodded slowly, unable to smile because he was a little too busy being overwhelmed by the bright blur that was Rordham’s fashion sense. John smiled and led Rordham around the flat, showing him the various rooms, pointing out all the exterior walls that would have to remain the same – at least on the outside. By the time they retired to the kitchen to make dinner, Rordham was happily measuring and casting test spells.

Just as they were doing the dishes, Rordham emerged again with a sheet of blueprints for Harry’s room. They all leaned over them, Harry included, though Harry wasn’t entirely sure what it was the rest of them were looking at.

“Well, that looks good to me. Sherlock?” John said, checking for approval.

Sherlock was eyeing the blueprints with suspicion. “And this will… fit,” he said slowly.

“Absolutely! Our personal guarantee. Not a single exterior brick out of place. You’ll gain… oh, about nine square meters in floorspace, not a bit of it visible from the outside.”

“Right. You take Gringotts, I assume?”

“Of course, Dr. Watson.” Rordham produced a tiny square of wax, slender and soft. John tugged a beaten old bronze key out of his wallet and pressed it into the wax, leaving the impression behind. Rordham tucked the wax into a cloth, which disappeared into his pocket. “Then I’ll get started on the spells!” With that, he returned upstairs to begin working.

“Some sort of bank, I presume?”

“Yeah. We use the keys kind of like credit cards. Not quite so convenient, though. In some ways, we’re still in the stone ages.”

“And what-“

“Sherlock, I will sit down and tell you everything you want to know, but can we do that after we’ve got Harry to bed in his room?”

Sherlock frowned, but he didn’t protest, and as far as John was concerned, that was a surrender. It was possibly a dangerous decision to promise to tell Sherlock everything he wanted to know, because usually everything Sherlock wanted to know encompassed quite a great deal indeed. But the promise was made, and it was making Sherlock shut up for the moment.

“So, Harry.” John put his hands on Harry’s shoulders, and the boy looked up at him. “This is going to be your bedroom. Only right that you get to pick what it looks like, then. What do you say we sit down and work out a plan for Mr. Rordham to put up once he’s got the thing built, hm?”

Nobody had ever asked Harry to pick what he wanted before. Harry was halfway between elated and overwhelmed when they shepherded him to the sitting room to talk about paint colors. They eventually managed to decide on blue, white, and John’s addition of blonde wood. It was rather late by the time the entire project was finished, but the finished product was apparently worth the effort.

They’d decided that a room on the first floor would be a little too obvious for when Mrs. Hudson came up to visit, so instead of simply leading to John’s room, the slender staircase climbed to a small landing with a door on both sides of the hall. The first led to John’s room, unchanged. The second opened to a new room that defied the very logic of physics by its existence. Still, it was a very cheery illogical room, all powder blue, white wainscoting, and blonde wood furniture. There were fresh striped sheets that had never before been used by any fat cousins. The desk by the window was full of small chapter books for young readers. There was even a small closet just Harry’s size, waiting to be filled with a new wardrobe of clothes that actually fit. There were a few watercolors on the walls, a sailboat on a calm lake, an owl merrily carrying a letter, a dinosaur munching on some ferns.

They had rather expected Harry to go running in, to jump on the bed and laugh. Instead, he stopped dead in the doorway, eyes wide as dinner plates. John had to nudge him lightly before he would even step inside, and when he did, it was slowly. He touched everything in the room once, reverentially, especially the little stuffed hippopotamus that was perched by the pillow, as if he expected all of it to disappear overnight, wisping away, no more than a wonderful dream long since past.

“So, what do you think?” John couldn’t help but ask.

Harry swiveled back around to look at John and Sherlock in amazement. “This is all mine?”

“That is generally what is intended when someone says ‘your room,’” Sherlock replied.

“Yes,” John translated.

“Thank you!” Harry exclaimed, and John was fairly sure that there was something wrong with that somewhere, that children weren’t supposed to be this enthusiastic about having a room, but Harry looked so happy that he figured it didn’t hurt.

They gave Harry an old t-shirt of John’s to wear as pajamas until they could find him some better clothes, then they trundled him into bed and flicked off the lights.

“Good night, Harry,” John called from the doorway, and it was strangely like tucking in his little sister, only simultaneously a world apart.

“G’night, John. G’night, Sherlock,” came the sleepy reply, muffled by a pillow.

John shut the door gently, then sighed and turned around.

He nearly had a heart attack when he did, because Sherlock was standing right behind him with a half-mad expression.

“Gah! Sherlock, what are you-“

Sherlock didn’t wait to hear the end of the sentence. “Explain. Now.”

“Sherlock, I-“

“I waited until he went to bed to ask, which seemed to be what you were after, and now I’m done waiting! Explain.” He put both hands on John’s shoulders and shook him for further emphasis of his point.

“Okay! Okay! Just – come on, let’s go downstairs. We’ll just wake him up again, talking here.”

Sherlock allowed John to tramp downstairs without complaint, but only just. It was apparent that the thin veneer of self-control he’d been employing all day had cracked, and now that it had, there was no putting it back on. He tossed himself onto the couch with abandon, nodding to John’s usual chair diagonal to him. “There. Now explain.”

“Yes, yes, I got the picture when you said ‘explain’ about the twentieth time!”

“Then you should do it!”

John frowned, eyebrows knitting together, and leaned forward. “Sherlock – “

“No,” he said firmly, then mimicked him by over-enunciating, “John.” He matched John and leaned forward as well, setting his hands against his knees all too tightly. “I don’t think you understand. You are complicit in a conspiracy my family has been running against me since my birth. You have lied to me about the very existence of an entire second world, an entire branch of science. I just agreed to raise a child with you from that very same world, and I think that that entitles me to some explanations! If. You. Please,” he bit off.

Falling silent, John dropped his head. “Yes,” he said eventually. “You’re right. You’re … absolutely right. I’m sorry.”

Sherlock watched him with sharp eyes, but said nothing.

“Where do you want me to start? Wands, school, traditions, politics…?”

After considering for a moment, “School.”

“Right. Well, I went to Hogwarts. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I was in the Hufflepuff house.” He smiled a little. “That was a right charming place. We had classes in everything: Potions, Arithmancy, Charms, Transfiguration, Flying, Ancient Runes…”

He talked long into the night, wandering off on tangents when Sherlock prompted him, taking only occasional breaks to moisten his throat with a cup of tea. He talked about anything and everything, flying between subjects of study and magical law to concealment from muggles and magic theory. At points he had to apologize for his ignorance on certain very specialized fields of theoretical magic and promise that he would find some texts and bring them home for Sherlock. That seemed to appease him momentarily, but then he would only begin demanding information on a new subject, and they would start all over again.

By the time John got around to explaining why he had been so shocked at Mycroft’s charge being Harry Potter, and at that point he raised his eyebrows to emphasize the verbal italics, it had stopped being late at night and started being frighteningly early in the morning. And though John had half expected Sherlock to tune out Harry’s personal history and its relation to the fall of Voldemort, Sherlock continued to listen attentively, watching him like a hawk with his elbows loosely around his knees from the couch.

Eventually, he had to protest wearily, “Sherlock, I don’t think I can think of anything more to say tonight.”

Sherlock scanned his face for a long minute before nodding. “You can tell me more tomorrow,” he said, and though it was still firm, the anger of his previous demands had bled out. The tightness around his eyes and hands had softened, and John managed a tired smile.

“Right, then. I’ll make us some tea.”

They drank their cups in amiable silence and went to bed.

In the morning, John had practically forgotten anything had happened. The light on his face through the window was the same as it was every morning. He woke early, as was his fashion, and dressed in his usual jumper and khakis. The flat smelled the same, the scent of John’s laundry detergent and old explosions. But when he stepped out of his room, there was another door on the second landing, a door currently hanging open to show a small boy perched on the end of his bed, tying his shoes with exaggerated care.

Right. Harry Potter. His new… son? Charge? Cousin-of-the-flatmate?

John suspected it was another damning piece of evidence that something was wrong with him that he found it far stranger to see a child in his flat than a decapitated head in his fridge.

He cast that thought aside. “Morning, Harry!”

Harry’s dark head popped up with a bright smile. “G’morning!”

“You want some breakfast? How do you feel about eggs?”

“I like eggs,” came the pleasant reply. John was beginning to think that Harry liked everything. He wasn’t sure if that was because he had been raised in a house where he was denied everything, or if that was simply his easygoing personality.

“Right. Eggs it is.” He paused a moment there, hovering on the stairs, before he padded downstairs and into the kitchen. As he was pulling out the frying pan and the box of eggs, he heard a lighter pair of children’s feet tromping down the staircase after. A quick glance into the sitting room found Sherlock lying on the couch in his bathrobe. It was questionable from a distance whether he was asleep or simply ignoring their existence. John shook his head, cracking a handful of eggs into the skillet. They hissed and began to bubble as Harry appeared in the kitchen, pulling open drawers and cabinets one by one. “Uh… Harry, what are you doing?” he asked with a frown, eyeing him with concern.

“Setting the table,” Harry said sensibly, and then it struck John that his drawer-opening was a methodical search for the plates and silverware.

“Oh, that’s – right. Why don’t you let me do that, hm? I should – oh, shit, Harry, don’t go in that cabinet! That’s – right. Thank you,” he finished lamely, clearing his throat. “You can, ah…” a thoughtful pause, before continuing, “you can forget I said that word, right?”

Harry bobbed his head in a nod.

“… Right. Right. Okay.” John pulled out three plates and flipped the readily hardening eggs onto them, making a mental note to have a Serious Conversation with Sherlock about childproofing the flat. He sighed out slowly, rubbing his forehead. Childproofing. He was childproofing the flat he shared with Sherlock Holmes. What was the world coming to? His sister was going to laugh her ass off when she heard about this.

He carried the plates out to the sitting room, if only because the kitchen table had been completely taken over by a chemistry experiment from last Thursday, and settled them down on the coffee table. Harry got the hint immediately, settling down and working on his plate. John leaned over towards Sherlock.

“Sherlock.”

Sherlock’s eyes snapped open immediately. Not asleep, then.

“We’ve got breakfast.”

“Bravo. Why did you see fit to inform me?”

“Because breakfast is when human beings eat.” John accompanied this by setting the plate of eggs casually on Sherlock’s lap.

“Human beings except for me. I’m not hungry.”

John pressed a fork into Sherlock’s hand. “Yes, you are. Because no child raised under my roof is going to go about skipping meals and thinking that it’s healthy. You’re going to be a good role model. All you have to do is eat a plate of eggs.”

Sherlock slowly turned his head to look John in the eyes. There was a long moment of silence in which Sherlock didn’t blink, and John stared him back inch for inch. After what felt like ages, Sherlock finally sat up and curled his fingers around the fork. “I was mistaken. I’m starving,” he declared, and though his tone was rather unconvincing, he ate.

With a smile, John sat down beside him and began to do the same. They could handle this.

Once the breakfast dishes had been cleaned up, the three of them grabbed a cab and headed to Oxford street. John shepherded Sherlock and Harry into clothing shops, grazing through the boy’s section for tees, shirts, trousers, jeans, shoes, socks, pajamas, a coat that wasn’t a repurposed jumper from John, everything a young boy could need to wear. John helped Harry pick out clothes that would be comfortable and durable. He waited patiently outside the changing rooms and he squeezed the toes of Harry’s new trainers to make sure they had room to grow.

And if Sherlock happened to wander off to the bookshop next door twenty minutes into the excursion, John thought it was a valiant display of willpower that he had even lasted that long. He reappeared miraculously as they were checking out, and that was all that John could ask of him anyway. The clothing found its way to the hangers in Harry’s new closet, and when Harry finally threw out the old hand-me-downs from Dudley and got dressed in jeans and a shirt that actually fit properly, he began to look like a boy that actually had a home.

John was beginning to believe that he did.

Next part.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
grannysknitting
Jan. 19th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Wow
I love fics like this - even more so when they are as well written as this one!

Onwards to part 2!
sra_danvers
Jul. 3rd, 2012 11:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for to melt my two fandoms! I'm loving this!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )