Title: The Holmes Factor, Parts 8-12
Fandom: Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes (BBC)
Relationship(s): James Potter/Lily Evans, Tim Holmes/Wanda Evans, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Dumbledore/Grindelwald
Content Rating: T
Warnings: Dark Themes; Discussion-Sexual Abuse (Non-Graphic, Blink and you’ll miss it); Discussion-Other Trigger Topics (Mental Health)
Author Notes: My thanks to Fashi0n for all the amazing art on short notice.
Word Count: 46,700
Summary: Petunia Dursley might not want her nephew to live with her, but she did care about what might happen to him, and she had other resources. That made all the difference. When Harry Potter is left at her doorstep, Petunia calls her cousin, Wanda Evans Holmes. In doing so, she changed the course of more than one future, throwing Albus Dumbledore’s plans awry with the Holmes Factor.
Part 8: In which there is progress, and an old villain provides new information
The weeks sped quickly after that. Mycroft, it developed, did, indeed, have enough magic to train, and he lacked the blood curse that affected Eurus. Mycroft, however, adamantly disagreed with the notion of going to Hogwarts, as it affected his ability to train appropriately in the non-magical world.
Arcturus Black offered an elegant solution: By taking the Holmes family into his ancient house as a protected cadet branch, Lord Black could arrange for private tutoring for Mycroft, to be added to his regular schedule as needed. With private tutoring, Mycroft could be on track to take his OWL exams at 15, as was typical.
“Magical cores have physical limitations that fall away as one ages,” Arcturus explained to the young genius. “It won’t be possible for you complete the practical work before that age, at any rate.”
“With my current education plan, I will be ready to finish my graduate work at Uni at 15,” Mycroft said. “If all goes well, and it suits, I’ll be joining my father in service to the Queen.”
Arcturus nodded and smiled. “A noble pursuit.”
That settled, attention turned to Eurus, who began the suggested potions regimen to cure her of the blood curse, and Wills, who got his magical inoculations and became Harry’s very best friend and big brother in magic. Sirius gladly oversaw their early magical training while providing much-needed respite for Wanda, who saw that Eurus needed more concentrated attention, and therapy, as her ability to empathize returned incrementally.
The family was less happy with the lack of news about from Healer Banks, who continued her research into rituals that might rid Harry of the Voldemort essence in his head, but had little to report.
They tried not to let that bother them for the moment, and after a raucous holiday season at Black Manor, the Black and Holmes families seemed to be in great accord moving into the new year.
Things were not going so well for Albus Dumbledore, however.
A thorough investigation into Dumbledore’s background showed that not only had he been forsworn, but that the Potter vaults were not the first he’d attempted to usurp. With help from the goblins, who were quietly and gleefully pleased to see the wizard taken down from his pedestal, investigators found that Dumbledore made a habit of declaring himself to be the magical guardian of certain orphans and Muggleborns who came to Hogwarts, and then, helped himself to any funds left for them in the name of their educations and upkeep (despite the fact that he had no legal right to do so).
His trial, for kidnapping, theft, and oath-breaking, promised to be an Event.
Amelia Bones requested an impartial judge from the Queen, and Judge Marsh agreed to return to the bench to preside, so long as the Queen’s Representative was also in attendance. Tim agreed to attend, as well, in that role (though he was as keen to see the outcome of the investigation as anyone else).
The trial date was set for February 15, which allowed time for investigators to complete their work and turn their evidence over to the prosecutors. Dumbledore, held in magic suppressing cuffs in a solitary cell in the basement of the Ministry, under close guard, was allowed a defender, and time to work on his case.
As part of the overall investigation, Ms. Bones, herself, was sent to Nurmengard to interview Gellert Grindelwald. She did so accompanied by Tim Holmes, who secured Queen’s Veritaserum for the event.
February 1, 1982
Upon first glance, Tim thought the villain of Grindelwald’s war should be allowed a toothbrush more frequently.
The once-handsome scourge of Europe was missing most of his teeth, and his greasy hair looked more black than blond. The man looked thin as a rail, and Tim made a mental note to look into the humanitarian conditions of his prison.
“Ah, Mr. Grindelwald,” Ms. Bones acknowledged. “We’ve not met. I appreciate your willingness to speak with me today.”
Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. His hands, encased in cold iron embossed with magic-suppressing runes, were bolted to the table, and his feet, in heavy metal boots likewise embossed, were bolted to the floor.
“I don’t know that I had much choice, Madam,” Grindelwald said courteously. “May I know with whom I am speaking?”
Ms. Bones looked uncomfortable. “I am Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for the British Ministry of Magic. With me is Sir Timothy Holmes, the Queen’s Representative. Sir Holmes has the authority to use the Queen’s Veritaserum for this interview to ensure the validity and truthfulness of your responses to our questions.”
Tim interjected. “You may, of course, refuse to answer any question to which we put you.”
“Will my cooperation weigh at all in my favor?” Grindelwald asked dryly. “Only I would appreciate a shower, and perhaps a toothbrush.”
Tim raised both eyebrows. “Are you not allowed such?”
The laser focus of Grindelwald’s bicameral eyes fell on Tim’s face. “No. I get hosed down when the guards decide I smell.”
Tim’s jaw firmed. “That’s certainly a human rights violation. I will inform the Queen, regardless of your responses today.”
Ms. Bones had paled. “I believe the guards at Nuremberg are maintained by the International Confederation Of Wizards, Sir Holmes.”
Tim smiled thinly. “Nevertheless, the Queen will be informed.”
Grindelwald nodded acknowledgment, his eyes not leaving Tim’s face. “How may I assist the Queen and the British Ministry today?”
“We have questions about your husband, Albus Dumbledore,” Ms. Bones said briskly. “If we may? Sir Holmes has the Queen’s Veritaserum.”
“Of course,” Grindelwald said, and Tim leaned forward to place three drops on the prisoner’s tongue. Grindelwald leaned back, and his expression softened. “Ah, Nicolas’ work.”
Tim nodded. He’d suspected as much.
Ms. Bones cleared her throat, set up her parchment at Dicta-Quill, and nodded to Tim, who asked, “What is your full name and date of birth?”
“Gellert Bathsheba Grindelwald. March 15, 1883.”
“Making you 98 years old?”
“How do you know Albus Dumbledore?”
“I married him in 1910.”
“To your knowledge, are you still married to Albus Dumbledore?”
“Do you still have a relationship with Albus Dumbledore?”
“While I am not allowed to write to or regularly communicate with my husband, I get one visitor a year, and it is Albus. He comes on my birthday, usually. Depending on the guard, I might get hosed down the day before.”
“What do you talk about?”
“We discuss the weather. The cells. The state of Hogwarts. His plans for the future.”
“What can you tell us about his plans?”
“Albus has many plans. I need a more specific question.”
“What do you know about his plans for Harry Potter?”
“Ah, the prophecy child. Harry Potter is to be Albus’ new Dark Lord.”
“Did he have other Dark Lords?”
“Who were they?”
“Myself, of course. Albus set me up as the villain in our game to lead the Wizarding world to a better place for the Greater Good. Tom Marvolo Riddle, who would be his villain moving forward after we were forced to give up the game. Young Mr. Potter will be the new Dark Lord against which Albus will battle to further his reputation and bring about the best for the Wizarding World.”
“And what, in your judgement, do you think is best for the Wizarding World?”
“The complete separation of Wizard from Muggle.”
“And how do you two propose to do that?”
“Wholesale slaughter didn’t work, so we’ve been using legislation and political change to create distrust and discord. Eventually, wizards will want it for themselves. When that happens, we have a spell or two that will help create a pocket dimension into which the wizards can go.”
“And what will happen to the muggleborn, without access to those spaces?”
“They will be stolen when named at birth, their parents obliviated, and their lives lived out in the pocket dimension.”
Tim felt appropriately horrified and momentarily speechless. He shared a glance with Ms. Bones, who couldn’t get any more pale, and mentally regrouped. “Right. How long have you been working on that spell work?”
“Since we were schoolboys.”
“Do you believe Albus Dumbledore to be actively working toward this goal?”
“Given your advanced age, do you expect to live to see that goal realized?”
“Yes. Albus has a philosopher’s stone. We have all the time in the world.”
Tim looked a bit flapped. “Isn’t that the stone that appears to grant immortality?”
“It doesn’t appear to do so. It does so, given the drinker takes some every year.” Grindelwald smiled wistfully. “Although it does nothing for teeth. I shall have to regrow some at some point.”
Tim thought for a moment. “What do you know about blood curses?”
“Terrible things,” Grindelwald said. “Albus’ father was fond of them. He got rid of several old families that way.” His focus narrowed. “Including yours, I believe. You do look like Sherlock Holmes.”
Tim took a deep breath, held it, and let it go. “Perhaps.” In fact, Tim’s grandfather was Mycroft Holmes, the first. To his knowledge, his great-uncle Sherlock had never married, content with his bachelorhood.
“Good that there’s a cure now,” Grindelwald commented. “It wouldn’t do to let such disturbed individuals into polite society. I wouldn’t wish them on Muggles, even.”
Tim stood impassive. “Are you aware of the circumstances that led to the blood curse being placed on the Holmes line?”
“Yes.” It was said with a smirk, forcing the next question.
“And those circumstances are?”
“Holmes had the ear of Queen Victoria, and the means, therefore, to cause problems for Brian’s plans to subjugate the Muggles,” Grindelwald shrugged. “He decided to remove the Holmes family from the board.”
Tim pursed his lips. “It didn’t work as he intended, then.”
“Likely not, as you’re here, and you don’t appear to be insane,” Grindelwald acknowledged.
“What else is there about Albus Dumbledore that we need to know in order to stop your plans from coming to fruition?”
“That is truly a heinous question. I can’t answer it. My husband is skilled in many areas, and it would be a truly bad idea to try thwarting him. There’s a reason he is out there, and I am in here, and it has everything to do with his ability to pretend to be Light and reasonable. I never pretended to be anything but what I am, and look where it got me.”
“Thank you for your time.” Tim leaned to the side, and murmured quietly to Ms. Bones, “Anything else?”
She shook her head negatively. There was quite enough to be going on with, and the prisoner wouldn’t be leaving the facility.
As the pair passed through security and headed out to the terrace of the castle in the Alps, Tim shook off the dull feeling of the place. “I think that was productive. We have confirmation that Albus Dumbledore is in fact married to Gellert Grindelwald, and in cahoots with him. Investigators can take it from there to look at the legislation and political machinations of the man himself, yes?”
“I believe so, yes,” Ms. Bones said. “Are you quite alright?”
“At the moment,” Tim said. “I was aware of the blood curse, obviously, and I am a victim of it. My core atrophied, but my mental health is stable. My daughter has not been as lucky, and she is taking the cure now. My sons seem to be free of it entire, which is a lucky break.”*
“What made you think to ask that question?”
Tim shrugged. “Shot in the dark. Good one, though. The Dumbledore name is one that our healer told us to investigate with regard to the curse on our blood line. I’d though, perhaps, having married a Dumbledore, Mr. Grindelwald would know about them.”
Bones nodded thoughtfully. “I think it’s a question we’ll need to put to Dumbledore as well, if we’re able.”
“If Mr. Grindelwald is correct in that the curse was placed on my great-uncle, than it’s highly unlikely Albus Dumbledore had anything to do with it,” Tim pointed out. “However, he might have additional information about the curses and how they work, or even what families were likely to have been targeted. That could be useful.”
February 8, 1982
Tim and Mycroft Holmes sat in a small office off the main family library, going through boxes of family papers left behind by Mycroft the first.
With Mycroft’s reading speed and eidetic memory, he was a logical choice to help Tim skim through and see if he could find the origins of the blood curse on the Holmes family.
The pair, undisturbed, read through several boxes of materials over the course of the day, with just one call to a meal at noon. At the dinner call, Tim sat back and rubbed his eyes.
“Nothing so far,” he muttered. “Mycroft?”
“Not that I can see,” the boy admitted. “I’ve found nothing on any relationship to a man called ‘Dumbledore’ at all. Though I’ve waded through his love letters to Nan. I don’t think I’m really old enough for flowery Victorian love poetry, Father.”
Tim chuckled. “I’m wondering, now, if the curse itself wasn’t put on Mycroft the First, then. Grindelwald did say that I looked more like Sherlock Holmes. Given that, I wonder if perhaps the curse was laid on Sherlock?”
“But if it’s a bloodline curse, shouldn’t it have stopped when Sherlock died?” Mycroft asked. “We don’t have any records of him having children.”
“No, he was a bachelor to the end,” Tim acknowledged. “Died in the 1920s, after a storied career as a consulting detective. Pioneered work in forensics that remains standard to this day. Really should see where his papers went.”
Mycroft nodded. “It could be that it’s him who ran into Dumbledore and got himself cursed.”
“But how would that affect us?”
Mycroft shrugged. “Maybe ask the Healer?”
“A wise course of action, son,” Tim said.
Tim decided to save the question of how a blood curse could have skipped laterally in favor of looking into the more intimate diaries of Mycroft the first.
He had a thought, and it certainly wasn’t one an eight-year-old needed to be privy to, as of yet.
By all accounts, Mycroft the first had been morbidly obese. Unhealthily so, and it lead to his early death. The massive sedan chair kept in storage as a memorial certainly attested to that.
Would such an obese man be, ahem, able to perform the act necessary to impregnate his spouse? Did they, perhaps, have a fertility problem?
And if that might have been the case, could his brother, Sherlock, have been willing to provide the necessary service? Or at least, the raw material?
He mentioned the idea to Wanda after the children were in bed, who looked at him thoughtfully.
“You know, that’s a possibility,” Wanda allowed. “Your father was an only child, and and he appeared well into their marriage. In that era, that could very well mean fertility issues, multiple miscarriages, or the sort. I’d expect to see that pattern, at any rate.”
“My father was born in 1906; I was born in 1943,” Tim mused.
“Yes, you’re a Blitz baby,” Wanda smirked.
“I actually think I’m a ‘condoms-are-going-to-the-troops-so-oops’ baby,” Tim said drily. “That said, John Holmes probably waited as long as he could to have a child. He couldn’t have waited much longer and been sure of training me to the Queen’s service. The war was tough on everyone.”
Wanda hummed noncommittally. She’d met the formidable John Holmes and his dour wife, Katharine, just once, when she and Tim started dating at uni. The elder Holmes had died from injuries sustained in a car crash shortly after their wedding, with Katharine at the wheel. It had been ruled an accident, but Wanda knew Tim suspected foul play, given that Katharine never drove.
“If, indeed, a Holmes heir was needed, and Sherlock provided the necessary to make that happen, would they have written that down somewhere?” Wanda asked. “It seems something that would be quite a secret.”
Tim pursed his lips. “Mycroft the first was excessive about journal keeping. Sherlock, too. I think his old notebooks actually reside at 221B Baker Street in London, still. You know, he bought the property after lodging in it for, oh, more than twenty years. He and his partner, Dr. John Watson, retired to Sussex in 1905 to keep bees. They were called out to service during the Great War, but, for the main, kept to Sussex after that.”
“So who owns the property now?” Wanda asked.
“Actually, I think it technically goes to our Wills now,” Tim said, thinking. “It’s family property, thus mine, but it was to go to the first of the Holmes line to also carry the Sherlock name.”
“Which would be our own dear William Sherlock Scott,” Wanda said, rolling her eyes. “Is that why you insisted on the name?”
Tim shrugged. “Sort of? It wasn’t as though I planned it that way, but I did want to honor my great uncle, and it never hurts a second son to have property in his name.”
“True enough,” Wanda acknowledged. “The Sussex properties?”
“Sold after his death by John Holmes. Watson died during the Great War.”
“When you said partner ….” Wanda hesitated. “Were Sherlock and John?”
Tim smiled softly. “Officially? Unknown. Unofficially, I suspect they were partners in every sense.”
“That’s nice,” Wanda said, and leaned forward. “You know, you’re awfully nice, too, Mr. Holmes.”
“Indeed, Mrs. Holmes?” Tim slid a hand under her pajama top, just brushing the underside of a soft breast with his knuckles. “Want to check and see if we have condoms? We really don’t need another ‘oops’ baby.”
Wanda laughed, and rolled herself on top of him. “Not to worry; we’re all restocked.”
“You’re truly brilliant, love,” Tim praised, and started taking off her clothes.
Part 9: In which Tim Holmes investigates the blood curse.
February 13, 1982
Wanda sneezed as the dust flew up from the short carpet in the foyer of 221B Baker Street.
“Oh, dear,” she said, and sneezed again. “This place needs cleaning.”
All four children and Tim were along, with Sirius as backup. Tim had requested the wizard to come along on the Saturday tour of the old lodging house in London under the notion that, perhaps, a wizard Holmes might have left surprises behind.
Sirius readily agreed that it was a possibility, and magical assistance might be a good idea.
Therefore, the entire family stood sneezing in the front foyer before Sirius raised a wand and quietly called out, “Tergeo!”
The others watched, fascinated as the dust was sucked into his wand, leaving behind a sparkling foyer that still had hats perched on the row of hooks to its left.
“Handy, that,” Wanda commented. “I think I shall let you and Tim go ahead and clear the dust before I bring the children up.”
Sirius flashed her a grin, and started up the narrow staircase to the first floor, sucking up dust with his wand as he went. Tim followed closely, looking ahead for obvious traps. He saw none as they made the first landing; only one open door and one closed. They stepped through the open door into what was obviously a front room or study.
A gold divan rested against the wall immediately to Tim’s right, and said wall was decorated with bullet holes shot in a pattern. It made Tim smirk (surprising Sirius, who’d begun to think nothing could flap the elder Holmes), and he took a good look around.
A black marble or granite fireplace took up the center of the opposite wall, with a dusty grate and a heavy wooden mantle that contained a collection of dusty pictures. To its right, a corner held a desk with glass chemistry equipment dating back to the turn of the century, and a small wooden chair held a violin. To the left of the fireplace, bookshelves lined a corner that ended on the wall to Tim’s left, which held just enough space for a desk placed against it, a door between the desk and the shelves connecting to the closed room beyond.
Numerous things crowded the room, as if hastily packed away and stowed, and Tim frowned.
“It looks like Sherlock, or whomever, left the space in a hurry,” Tim observed quietly.
Sirius pursed his lips. “I don’t feel or see anything obviously magical in this room. Though the violin has a glow about it.”
“You can see a glow around the violin?” Tim raised an eyebrow.
Sirius shrugged. “I have a touch of mage sight. Generally useful for seeing magic associated with objects.”
“Right, useful.” Tim turned to the door on the wall and turned the knob to lead them into what was obviously a man’s bedroom. It was tidy, but in that way that said it wasn’t much used at all. A narrow bed on the wall to the left, past the other door (which obviously led to the hallway), was made up with old duvet, but the case on top of the duvet beckoned.
Sirius held out a hand to stop Tim as they heard the children thunder up the first stairs. “That case contains something magical. Caution, please.” He peered into the glass case from over the top, leaving himself room. “Oh.”
“Is that a good ‘oh’?” Tim asked, listening as Mycroft exclaimed over the books in the front room, and Wills clearly made for the violin.
“It’s a confused ‘oh’,” Sirius admitted. “That’s a wand, hidden in plain sight as a pipe of some sort.”
“Interesting,” Tim said. “Why would he have left a wand here?”
“And that’s why I’m confused,” Sirius said. “Most wouldn’t be caught without their wands.”
“But he left it behind,” Tim observed. “Is it safe to pick up?”
“Nothing dodgy about the case,” Sirius acknowledged. “There’s a hat in there, too, but it appears to be nothing more than a hat.”
“Right,” Tim said, and called back to Wanda, “There’s a case here that might be useful. We’ll be taking it along.”
After hearing her acknowledgement, Tim and Sirius went up the next narrow flight of stairs to the two rooms on the second floor. One was labeled, “Mrs. Hudson’s Room.” The other was labeled, “Dr. John Watson.”
Tim smiled. “Why not label Sherlock’s room?”
“Because he needed reminding that the other rooms weren’t his, I suspect,” Sirius chuckled a little as he opened Mrs. Hudson’s door, and found the room empty of everything but dust. “Detectives aren’t known for their adherence to rules governing personal space. Hmm. Nothing here.”
Tim opened Watson’s room, to find a fascinating collection of medical paraphernalia from the turn of the 20th century, including a skeleton hanging in one corner. But, and this was interesting enough to confirm a rumor in Tim’s mind, at any rate, there was no bed at all.
“Clearly Dr. Watson’s office,” Tim murmured. “Anything magical?”
Sirius looked around carefully. “Nothing. Though if I were you I’d go through the desk and see if the good doctor left any notes behind.”
“Excellent idea. If you deem it safe, I’ll get Mycroft up here to look,” Tim said, using his fingertips to trace the nameplate of the man for whom he suspected his own father had been named.
“Should be fine,” Sirius said, casting a couple of other spells that revealed nothing.
Tim leaned back into the hallway and called out. “Mycroft, I have a project for you!”
Sirius went up ahead while Tim settled his son in front of Watson’s desk with instructions to find everything that could be found, and read, if possible. Mycroft nodded importantly and immediately started his work while Tim went out on the landing to call to Wanda. “Darling, there’s an empty room on this level if you’d like to let them run.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Wanda called back. “There’s far too much in the way of fuss on this level for the wee ones.”
Tim heard her hustling them together and up the stairs to Mrs. Hudson’s room, which would now likely be designated for play, as he headed up himself to the third level, and another two rooms.
“Likely for other boarders,” Sirius said. “The one on the right is empty, too, but the one on the left is packed with boxes. Long-term storage or leftover things from other lodgers, at a guess. Nothing magical that I can see, or that my spells have revealed.”
Tim looked at the left door. “Well, then, nothing ventured …” He turned the knob, to find Sirius was right. Boxes were piled to the ceiling, some of them labeled, some of them not. He pushed his way in, minding the integrity of the stacks, to first see if anything was clearly labeled, “Holmes.”
Clearing the room would not be the work of a day, certainly, Tim mused, looking around and seeing boxes labeled “Watson,” “Hudson,” and an odd box with assorted small items labeled, “Lestrade.”
No other box was labeled “Holmes”, but it seemed likely to Tim that if Sherlock himself did the boxing up, nothing would be labeled but the others’ things. “Simple explanation is best,” he muttered to himself.
Sirius poked his head into the room. “Did you say something?”
“Not loudly, no,” Tim said. “Just looking about to find that most of these boxes really are Holmes’ things. I think. Everything is labeled except for Holmes, so I’m starting with the supposition that he did the packing up and labeled what wasn’t his.”
Sirius cocked his head slightly and nodded. “Seems logical. I’ll head up the next level and see what’s what.”
“Be careful,” Tim reminded him, needlessly, as Sirius went up to the fourth floor, which Tim assumed held the building’s only bath and WC. He turned back to his musings among the boxes. “It would be fantastic if a box labeled ‘read me first, I have all your answers’ would simply pop up in front of me.”
To his amazement, a box near the back began to glow. It removed itself, carefully, from a stack of other boxes, and hovered in front of Tim until he slid both hands under it, getting a good grip. The glow faded.
“Hm.” Tim decided to be grateful, rather than astonished. “I guess I’ll start with you.”
He moved into the other empty room on that floor, setting the box down in the middle, and examining it. On the surface, it appeared to be a plain wooden packing box, about three feet square and deep. Absolutely nothing about it appeared anything other than absolutely ordinary.
Except for the fact that the lid wasn’t tacked on, like the others in the room.
In fact, it looked sealed. Seamless. As if there was literally no way to open it.
Tim heard Sirius rumble down from the top floor. “I’m in here,” he called out, and Sirius found his way into the room where Tim was contemplating the smoothly sealed packing box that had magically found its way into his hands.
“Oh, interesting,” Sirius said, sitting on the floor next to Tim. “It’s a family box.”
“A family box?” Tim asked, looking closely around its edges without again touching it.
“Yes. Of the sort left to heirs,” Sirius explained. “If the next heir is not known, for one reason or another—such as no direct children of one’s own—it’s possible to enchant a box to reveal itself only to a person worthy of being the heir to the one who left it. Well, I say ‘worthy’. The conditions are known only to the caster, honestly.”
“I said it would be great if one of those boxes just jumped out and said ‘read me,’ and this one glowed, moved, and dropped itself in my hands,” Tim said tonelessly.
Sirius chuckled. “Sounds about right. Especially if the caster was looking for someone with that sort of humor. Or had it, him or herself.”
“Right, well, how do I open it now?”
“Pull the sword from the stone … Oh, you mean this box?” Sirius took note of Tim’s dry look, and laughed harder. “Conditions specific to the box. Clearly, you’re meant to go through this one, but opening it will require other conditions. You touched it to bring it here?”
“Then it’s not mere touch,” Sirius said. “Must mean it’s a puzzle for you to solve.”
Tim closed his eyes and pinched his nose. “Of course it is.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard,” Sirius commented. “The caster wants you to open it.”
“Not too hard?” Tim asked, stunned. “If we’re right, this box was created by someone who was once known as the best detective in the world, a man who thrived on puzzles and who was rarely fooled by anyone. Or anything. And I’m to solve the puzzle of it?”
“Well, you or his heir, if not you,” Sirius clarified.
“His heir,” Tim repeated, and huffed (making Sirius chuckle again). “Get Wills for me, will you? And perhaps the hat and wand we found?”
Sirius rolled to his feet. “I’ll let Wanda know what you’ve found, too, shall I?”
Tim nodded, and continued his examination of the box while he listened to Sirius thump down a level, talk quietly to Wanda, and collect Wills, who insisted, loudly, on carrying the case with the wand and the hat.
“Ob’is’ly, Daddy,” Wills said solemnly as he entered the room. “He left this on purpose so I could open the box.”
“Oh, right, obviously,” Tim said, just as solemnly, as he watched his young son deftly open the glass case, pull out the hat, place it on his head, and twirl around. “It suits you.”
Wills giggled, then reached for the wand, which shot off sparks in his hands. “Wow!” The preschooler giggled madly, swooshing his wand around.
And it clearly was Wills’ wand, if the surprised and concerned look on Sirius’ face was any indicator. “Less with the mad movements, darling boy,” Tim said firmly. “What do you do next?”
“Oh!” Wills looked right at the box, the hat falling over one eye, and tapped it with the wand. “Open up!”
The lid melted back to reveal multiple journals, with a massive scrapbook on top labeled, “Read First” in a fine copperplate hand.
“There ya go, Daddy!” Wills said. “He says I’m not old enough to read these yet, but I can let you cuz you’re daddy.”
“Who says, Wills?”
“The hat. The hat says his name is Sherlock, and for Daddy not to worry, because he’s not really real. He’s just sort of real,” Wills explained importantly. “And only I can hear him, I guess? I think that’s weird.”
“It is, very weird,” Sirius said slowly. “And I think it would be a good idea to take the hat off now, Wills, and hand it over so that I can take a look at it.”
Wills cocked his head, clearly listening. “Sherlock says that’s a good idea, too. He also says he’s glad I have at least one smart person with me. What’s comp-it-ant?”
“Competent?” Tim asked, clarifying.
“Yeah, that,” Wills said.
“Capable of competing tasks efficiently,” Tim explained automatically. “I’m glad he considers us that. Will he speak to me?”
Wills listened again. “He said he can only speak to his heir, sorry, and I guess that’s me. But that the journals should explain most everything.”
It took time to pull everyone away from their respective tasks, but eventually, they were all packed up. Mycroft had found case notes in Watson’s desk, so he’d brought those along, and Wills’ box had been carefully packed, open, in the back of the family van that Tim had upgraded to the week before. (Three children fit in a back seat. Four do not.)
Sirius claimed a seat next to Harry in the middle row, while the three Holmes children sat in the back row, with Wills in a booster seat between Mycroft and Eurus.
They made their way back home, stopping off once to pick up fish and chips for a Saturday night dinner. Sirius joined them for the meal once they were all in the house, helpfully reheating the fish as it had gone cold during the chaos of moving everyone and their cargo inside.
They all pulled up to the table, tucking in with good will, even as Harry looked to be nodding off into the mushy peas and Mycroft looked antsy, clearly eager to go back to the case notes he was reading.
Wills was unconcerned that Sirius had confiscated his hat, only telling him to be “vewy cawfuw” with it, the lisp that he was growing out of the only indicator that he, too, was tired.
The wand had been placed back in its case, and Tim put it up in his personal office with the explanation that Wills could have it when he needed it, which Tim privately hoped would not be until he was much older.
Eurus simply observed. While she was feeling much better, the family outing—and its accompanying chaos—had been a bit much for her still-healing neural-synapses, and she was looking forward to a bit of quiet in her own room.
Wanda encouraged them all through dinner, then led the younger three up to their rooms for bed while Mycroft headed off to his father’s office to read. Tim and Sirius, on the other hand, stayed in the kitchen, did the tidying, and then sat back at the table to look at the nondescript deerstalker cap, made with houndstooth fabric, that had caused both relief—answers!—and consternation (as it literally talked to Wills). The general rule of thumb, Sirius told them, was that one should never trust an object that talked if its brain wasn’t obvious.
“Anything that does talk and hasn’t got a brain has clearly been enchanted to do so, and that could mean anything,” Sirius instructed. “Without knowing the caster and the intent of the enchantment, nearly anything could happen to the one using it. I think we can say the hat is relatively safe, because it only speaks to Wills and seems to be entailed to its heir, but until we have a better grasp of who enchanted it, and what the enchantment itself was, we need to be cautious.”
“That seems eminently reasonable,” Tim said, “and that is irritating, because I would dearly love to know what my great-uncle was thinking.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. Again. He did that a lot, Tim thought tiredly. “If Wills is his heir, it’s unlikely the caster is an uncle.”
“Didn’t you say an heir could be anyone worthy, or who met the caster’s conditions, in the event there were no immediate children?” Tim asked archly.
“I did, but I’ve never seen a wand respond that way to anyone who wasn’t a direct descendant of its original owner. The only exception that I’m aware of was the Elder Wand, and it’s been lost to history. Its loyalty lay to whomever was strong enough to take it, and its history is bloody. I’d say it’s very unlikely that the wand’s original owner was an uncle.” Sirius suddenly closed his mouth, then opened it cautiously. “Is this news to you?”
Tim pursed his lips. “Not really. Wanda and I have speculated because of the blood line curse that perhaps, my grandfather was not the brother that is listed on my father’s birth certificate.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “Blood line curses only pass to direct descendants.”
“And in my interview with Grindelwald, he named Sherlock Holmes as a thorn in Brian Dumbledore’s side.”
“Huh.” Sirius sat back in the kitchen chair he was straddling. “It could be very easy to determine paternity, actually. Have you ever done a family tree?”
“The Holmes keep the entire line tallied in a few ornate books I keep in storage,” Tim said. “But it’s unlikely Mycroft the first would have recorded anything other than what he wanted to be known.”
“Was he a wizard?” Sirius asked.
“I’m not certain. It seems likely, but I’ve never found any hint that is the case,” Tim said. “Of course, I’ve not been terribly motivated, either, given that I thought myself to be magic-less.”
“Three magical children beg to differ,” Sirius observed. “Though it’s possible the Evans line isn’t as non-magical as has always been thought. Did we even think to test Wanda for magic?”
“Ah, I don’t think so,” Tim said, a bit taken aback. “Though I can’t think why we didn’t check. Given that Harry is her cousin by blood.”
“Well. My thought was we could create a magical family tree. It would self-update as marriages, births, and deaths occurred, but it would also give you as far back as the spell can determine,” Sirius explained. “And there’s no lying on one, frankly. It’s one way the old families can keep track of true and legal heirs.”
“That would be a useful check on any information we find in Sherlock’s box,” Tim admitted. “How would we go about doing that?”
“Usually it’s done with materials that can take a semi-permanent form, such as a specially treated tapestry,” Sirius said. “That’s what we have for the Black family. I believe that can be ordered directly through Gringotts, as the goblins have a vested interest in making sure heirs are legal and true.”
“It’s a spell, combined with a potion that uses the blood of the youngest currently known descendant in the family. In this case, as you’re looking for the Holmes line, you’d use Wills’ blood,” Sirius said. “He’d probably get a kick out of it.”
“No doubt.” Tim rubbed his eyes. “Right, then, I guess we’ll have to order the tapestry parts and get cracking on that.”
“I’ll ask Grandfather if he knows about any other valid method, as well,” Sirius said, getting up from the table. “Still coming to dinner tomorrow?”
“Of course,” Tim said, rising himself. “She won’t say it, but Wanda loves the Yorkshire pudding your elves make.”
Sirius laughed. “I’ll make certain it’s on the menu. See you tomorrow.”
“See you.” Tim watched as Sirius turned on his heel and disappeared.
Wanda came into the room. “Mycroft has fallen asleep in the den with those notes.”
“I’ll haul him upstairs,” Tim said. He paused by his wife, kissing her gently. “Busy day.”
“Yes, it was,” Wanda said tiredly. “But we press on.”
“Yes, we do.”
February 14, 1982
Wanda came awake to find a tray already prepared at her bedside. It held a pot of tea with a cup, a croissant, and a bowl of fresh strawberries, along with a single red rose. Her bed contained only her, and through the door, she could hear the calm voice of Tim as he directed their children in breaking their own fasts.
They normally didn’t do much for the romantic holiday, but a thoughtful breakfast tray from her husband, with accompanying child-free quiet time, made her very happy.
She basked in the peace, nibbling on the strawberries while reading from a Mills & Boon romance she kept in the bedside drawer for light bedtime reading.
Things for her family had changed significantly, but in good ways, since she and Tim had agreed to take Harry.
She had a lovely quiet hour before a soft knock at her door alerted her to the end of her time. “Come!”
Eurus poked her head in the room. “May I come in, Mummy?”
“Of course, darling girl.”
Eurus closed the door carefully behind her, then crawled up on to the bed with Wanda, tucking herself into her mother’s side. “Boys are loud, Mummy.”
Wanda stifled a giggle. “Yes, they can be.” She ran her hand through Eurus’ dark curls. “How are you feeling today, love?”
It had become a standard question, yes, but Eurus knew Wanda meant for her to give truthful answers.
“Tired. Irritated. Boys really are loud, Mummy. I think Wills is building something to explode again. Mycroft has Harry playing with trains in the den and is making all the noises, too. Daddy is cleaning up after breakfast, and he said I didn’t need to help him, but I really wanted to, Mummy. There’s so much to clean! Daddy shouldn’t have to clean all by himself.”
Wanda’s heart just melted.
“No, no, he shouldn’t, darling girl, but he’s giving us a present of peace and quiet and strawberries,” Wanda explained, cuddling Eurus closer to her side. “We will do something equally nice for him some time soon, just to show him that we love him.”
“Okay, Mummy. Will you help me think of something?”
Tim finished the tidying, then joined the boys with their trains in the den. Wills was, indeed, attempting to make something “explode” to disrupt the train service. A spirited game of catch-a-crook would likely ensue, so Tim kept a weather eye on his youngest charge. Harry, however, looked more than up for the challenge, as every time Wills got close to the tracks, Harry would squint, hard, and Wills would be backed off by several feet.
He’d heard Eurus head up to see her mother, and he assumed Wanda would let him know if she needed assistance. The quiet, however, meant the females of their household likely were taking refuge from the noise together, and that made Tim grin.
He knelt down next to the track that Wills was trying to blow up, and raised one hand. “Harry, don’t you want to see what happens when Wills tries this?”
Harry pouted. “NO.”
“Aw, Harry, I just want to explode it a little. For science!” Wills puffed his chest out importantly and held out the small device in his hand.
Tim got a good look as it went by. Where on earth had his youngest gotten gunpowder?
Quickly, he caught it. “Ah! Now I’ve got it. I’m the super villain now. Come get me!”
Harry and Wills exchanged looks of glee, while Mycroft rolled his eyes. Tim smiled, wide, and happy, and took off through the house.
The group assembled at noon, tidied up and ready for inspection, to head by port key to Blackmoor.
Tim took Sirius aside as they landed and got the children sorted.
“So, I think Wills is making gunpowder with magic in his efforts to make things go ‘boom’,” Tim said bluntly. “Ideas on how to make that stop?”
Sirius started laughing.
“No, honestly, Sirius, help,” Tim said. “I cannot have him blowing things up with gunpowder. That way lies madness and a term in a juvenile prison center of some sort. Truly. Help.”
Sirius put up a hand to ward Tim off as he laughed so hard tears began rolling down his face. Arcturus came into the foyer to find a fuming Tim and an out-of-control Sirius, and quirked a grin. “Problem, gentlemen?”
“Your grandson thinks my youngest son’s predilection toward explosions is funny,” Tim said drily. “Wills appears to be creating gunpowder with magic. I can’t think of another way he’d get his hands on it.”
Arcturus smiled. “Probably wished for something that would help make things go ‘boom.’ It’s early for that kind of transfiguration, but not unheard of. I imagine Sirius’ breakdown there comes from the knowledge that he, himself, preferred to make things explode as a child. Though I’m not sure I ever heard that he created gunpowder with accidental magic.”
Sirius tried to stand, wiping his eyes. “Just, really?”
“Really, really.” Tim said, starting to get the humor. He allowed himself a small smile.
Sirius steadied himself. “If you’ll allow me, I’ll give him space to create things that explode in a controlled environment.” An ominous giggle escaped. “I can set things up, with safety measures in place, to perhaps guide his destructive tendencies toward a positive outcome.”
“So your solution to counteract the accidental is to make it purposeful?” Tim inquired.
Sirius nodded. “With knowledge, rules, and supervision. Give him an outlet.” Another ominous giggle escaped. “Better than an accidental leveling of a city block.”
“Which did, in fact, happen, when Sirius was about six,” Arcturus said without inflection, setting Sirius off again.
“Ah.” Tim said.
“Thank all the gods for repair charms,” Arcturus added. “And empty warehouses.”
“In my defense, I scouted out the location carefully.”
After a truly excellent roast beef dinner, which included Wanda’s favorite Yorkshire puddings, Sirius took the Wills and Harry into the backyard for flying and roughhousing, while Eurus and Mycroft chose to curl up in the library with basic magic books. Wanda joined Arcturus and Tim in main room with the scrapbook from Wills’ box and a number of questions.
“First,” she began, “can you provide the same magic test you and Sirius used for me? We’re curious about why our children all appear to be so magical.”
Arcturus summoned the ball and handed it to her. “Think, Lumos!”
It gave off a faint glow.
“Some magic, not enough to be trained. You likely have some kind of gift, though,” Arcturus said.
“Intellect,” Tim murmured. “Eidetic memory.”
“Truly?” Arcturus asked, looking to Wanda.
“Yes. I have doctorates in math and chemistry. I did take time off from my positions to have our family. I hope to return after, but.” Wanda drew a deep breath. “Women do have a difficult time returning to academia.”
“Oxford is holding your position,” Tim said quietly. “And I have no doubt you could go anywhere you pleased when you’re ready.”
“That is, indeed, a gift,” Arcturus said.
“Second,” Tim said, “Sirius suggested we do a family tree to confirm my father’s paternity. We do believe, now, that it was in fact Sherlock Holmes who fathered him, and not Mycroft. How, I hope will be revealed in the journals, somewhere.”
Arcturus nodded. “A tree seems reasonable.” He gestured toward the long wall in the main room, which looked blank to the Holmes, and with one word, “Revelio,” uncovered the tapestry that rested there.
Stunned, Wanda and Tim watched as the Black family tree rose in its glory. At the bottom, they saw “Sirius Black” as son of Walburga and Orion Black, grandson of Arcturus Black through Orion. A silver thread linked Sirius Black to Harry James Potter, indicating magical guardianship and a godparent relationship.
“Will ours do this, too?” Wanda asked, avidly scanning the family lines.
“It will,” Arcturus said. “It’s a specially treated tapestry, in combination with a potion using the current youngest’s blood, that reveals back as many generations as there’s space. This one shows the last seven generations, but everything also is recorded in the family book, which is in the vault, as far back as King Arthur Pendragon’s vassal, Bedivere.”
“How fascinating,” Wanda said softly. “Will the work reveal non-magical ancestry, as well?”
“Yes,” Arcturus said, pointing to his niece’s marriage. “Andromeda married Ted Tonks, who is a magical muggleborn. His parents would be revealed on here if I touched his name, like so,” he demonstrated, “and light up in blue to denote non-magical.”
“I should very much like to see something like this for my own family line,” Wanda said raptly. “Should we do two?”
Arcturus shook his head. “No. All should be revealed through the use of Wills’ blood. There is a paternity spell as well, but it can only be used to reveal the immediate blood father of the person in question. It wouldn’t be useful in Tim’s case, as we’re concerned about his biological paternal grandfather.” He drew his wand. “With your permission, Wanda?”
She nodded, and Arcturus tapped her head with a “Paternas familia!” Wanda glowed, and “Henry Edward Evans” floated in the air, in gold, above her head.
“See?” Arcturus turned his wand to Tim. “With your permission?”
“Of course,” Tim said, and listened to the whispered incantation. He glowed, and from Wanda’s soft gasp, he gathered a name had appeared over the top of his head.
“It’s red,” Wanda said. “John Michael Holmes.”
“Red?” Tim raised an eyebrow and looked at Arcturus.
“Cursed line,” Arcturus said, solemnly. “I didn’t realize it would show up that way.”
“Interesting,” Tim said. “How long do you think it would take to get the tapestry and the potion together?”
“If you place the order with the Goblins tomorrow, it should be ready by the end of the week,” Arcturus said. “Now, are we ready to read some journals?”
Wanda took Tim’s hand and squeezed it. “Ready.”
“As am I.”
Tim decided to first place Sherlock’s journals in some sort of chronological order, while Wanda and Arcturus started looking through the big scrapbook. Tim could hear Wanda softly exclaim over some of the photos and items, which apparently had to do with original casework.
Tim’s focus, though, went to the first of the journals, which started in May of 1881.
He read quietly, learning about his grandfather’s first forays into forensic science, his complicated relationship with his older brother, and his distaste for using magic when science would do.
He smiled when he read the entry that introduced him to his new flat mate, Dr. John Watson.
It was clear to Tim from the start that Sherlock and John had a tempestuous relationship. John, for one, had quite a reputation as a ladies’ man, while Sherlock himself generally had no interest in the opposite sex at all. One exception, a Miss Irene Adler, proved to be attractive to Sherlock because of her brain, rather than her feminine attributes. Things between two men came to a head with John’s marriage to Mary, and Sherlock’s subsequent fall in Switzerland in 1891, pursuing the criminal James Moriarty.
Upon Sherlock’s “return” from the dead, the men had taken up residence together again. Mary Watson had died in childbirth, and John had been bereft. It was after Sherlock’s return that Tim noticed a different tone in Sherlock’s references to John. Fondness, affection, and even love colored the remarks as Sherlock detailed the cases that marked the progression of their relationship from flat mates to friends, then after the fall, from friends to lovers.
Sherlock hadn’t been so crass as to go into physical detail, but it was clear by 1899 that the men shared a bed, leaving John’s room to be used for his medical offices.
And then Tim saw it.
I was called to Diagon Alley today to attend to a mystery. I was able to successfully show B. Dumbledore was responsible for the death of a young mundane, much to his enormous displeasure. He’d thought he’d covered his tracks very well.
And there was the connection. Damn, Tim thought. He read on, through a few more case notes and studies, until he read this:
It seems I’ve been cursed. My magic doesn’t come as easily as it did. While it hardly makes a difference in my daily life—I do live among the muggles, with my dearest John—I wonder about the long-term effects of magic’s disappearance in my very core. The Healers tell me they’ve seen this curse before, and that at the moment, there is no cure. They also tell me it’s likely to have been set by B. Dumbledore, as he’s known for holding grudges and using this type of curse to avenge himself. It’s quite, quite, irritating, but I shall manage. B. Dumbledore has gone to Azkaban, and at any rate, could not remove the curse himself once set. I think I must press on.
Tim swore softly, catching his wife’s attention. Wanda looked up. “Found something, dear?”
“Just an entry that confirms that Sherlock was cursed, and that Brian Dumbledore was likely responsible.” Tim shook his head. “I know we thought it likely, but to have it confirmed by another source is upsetting.”
“I’m sorry, darling,” Wanda said.
Tim shrugged. “Nothing to be done for it now, at least not for me. But I’ll read on.”
He turned his attention back to the journals, reading through more case notes as Sherlock’s attentions to his casework waned with the loss of his magic, which seemed to be affecting his mental faculties.
My dearest John wants us to retire. I’ve often thought of doing so. Acquiring a bit of land, perhaps. Studying bees. I’ve always been fascinated by bees. John says he’s found a bit of property for sale in Sussex that might suit admirably.
Tim read of Sherlock’s decision to accept John’s proposal of retiring together to Sussex to raise bees, and to bow out of the criminal scene. It was 1905.
And then he saw another critical entry.
My dear brother has married, as he needed to do so to secure the Holmes line for service to the Crown. However, his chosen bride is more interested in her books than in consummation, and my brother, in his ill health, seems unable to perform. I have been asked to supply the means by which an heir could be conceived.
Dearest John thinks this is terribly funny.
I know an heir must be procured, but I am more than unwilling to actually lie with Elspeth. John, as a medical man, has suggested the use of a syringe to apply the necessary bodily fluids to the correct place, and I am positive he was amused greatly by the entire thought. Elspeth is amenable, so long as it is John, as a physician, who does the actual task.
Well. At least my dearest will be present at the child’s conception. Should it work, I will consider him or her to be his as well as mine and Mycroft’s.
Oh, and Elspeth’s. Of course.
Of course, Tim thought drily. He read on:
It seems that John’s grand plan to help create the next Holmes Heir has worked. I can only hope that Elspeth is safely delivered of a boy, so that we need not go through this again.
Several pages of notes about bees followed. Tim saw notes about temperatures, weather, and honey production, before he spotted another personal entry.
The child is a boy. John Michael Holmes. May he live long and happily.
Long, perhaps. Happily? Tim had his doubts. But still, the mystery solved, here, could be confirmed by the family tapestry when he had it made.
Wanda came over to see what he’d found, then hugged him.
“Confirmed, Arcturus,” Tim said calmly. “Sherlock notes the method of John Holmes’ conception and his date of birth. It was, in fact, Brian Dumbledore who cursed Sherlock Holmes. He appeared to be unaware, at least at this point, that his curse was a bloodline curse.”
“Well, good to know, but not applicable to Albus’ trial,” Arcturus observed.
“No, not at all,” Tim said. “But definitely good to know.”
“Meanwhile,” Arcturus gestured to Tim, waving him over to look at the scrapbook. “This last page should interest you.”
“Oh?” Tim rose and wandered over to where Wanda and Arcturus had the scrapbook resting on a small table conjured for the purpose. “What?”
Arcturus pointed. “There’s your hat and wand, in a glass case. Fascinating black and white photo, with a spell written around the margins. It’s actually a clue about the origins of the hat. I suspect we’ll find, as we read, that Sherlock imbued the hat with his remaining magic and an imprint, such as what we might find in a portrait, accessible only by his future heir. What prompted him to do so is not listed here. But the spell listed on this page is one I recognize as being of use to portrait artists. Modified, obviously.”
“So my grandfather really is speaking to my son?” Tim asked. “At least, when he dons the hat?”
“Well, an imprint of him, at any rate,” Arcturus said. “It’s not really him. But his knowledge, skills, and memory at the time he imbued the hat would be present for Wills to use. Eventually.”
“And he left this behind, telling us to see it first?”
Wanda laid a hand on her husband’s arm. “I imagine so that we wouldn’t worry, should his heir be as young as he obviously is.”*
Tim used the tip of his index finger to outline the spell, which glowed under his touch briefly, then faded. Spirals of additional spell work suddenly bloomed, with Latin and English instructions and details that Tim had no current hope of understanding, but which made Arcturus draw a sharp breath.
“Well, and he was a genius,” Arcturus said intently, reading. “He … well, it looks as though he based his ideas on the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.”
“The what, now?” Wanda said, absently stroking her husband’s arm as he stared in wonder at the page.
“All students put it on as they start at Hogwarts,” Arcturus explained softly, continuing to examine the spellwork outlined on the page. “Godric Gryffindor is said to have worn it first, and imbued it with the spellwork that allows it to competently sort children into their houses at school. It looks as though your ancestor here figured out how he did it, then did something similar to that deerstalker cap.”
“Fascinating,” Tim said, somewhat stunned. Then he cleared his throat, stood, and tucked his hands behind his back. “I could do with a cup of tea. And a walk.”
“Take the walk first, darling,” Wanda advised. “The boys are out back. I’ll organize tea for when you come back.”
Tim leaned down and kissed his wife’s cheek. “Thank you, darling.”
She smiled up at him, then waved her hands forward. “Shoo, love.”
Part 10: Pause for a trial
February 15, 1982
Family revelations aside, Tim quite looked forward to the trial of Albus Dumbledore, set to begin at 9 a.m. He expected it to take the better part of the day.
Amelia Bones had attempted to have the trial delayed, in order to better investigate some of the information that come from Grindelwald’s interview, but Judge Marsh, pressed into service once again, had ruled that the trial could proceed, as the current charges could be addressed, and others could be laid in the future should it be found necessary.
Thus the Wizengamot assembled, and court was brought to order at precisely 9 a.m. with the introduction of Judge Marsh by the acting Chief Warlock, Tiberius Ogden. Judge Marsh took her place, then spoke.
“This court is called to hear the case of the British Ministry of Magic against Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Grindelwald, who is charged with kidnapping a minor of a noble house, attempted line theft, and multiple counts of embezzlement. Present, the defendant; his counsel, Elphias Doge; the Ministry’s Prosecutor, Amelia Bones; the Queen’s Representative, Sir Timothy Holmes; and the noble members of the Wizengamot. This proceeding has been closed to the public, though a full record of these proceedings will be distributed to the press and posted in Diagon Alley.
“Mr. Grindelwald, how do you plead?”
Albus Dumbledore stood slowly, weighed down by the cold iron runic shackles that shackled his magic in the court. “Not guilty, Your Honor.”
“Very well; you may be seated. In accordance with the procedures laid out by Wizengamot Code, the prosecution shall make their case against Mr. Grindelwald first. Your opening statement, Ms. Bones?”
“Thank you, Your Honor. The Ministry of Magic intends to show that Mr. Grindelwald, by virtue of his many positions within the Ministry and without, did, with malice and forethought, conspire to take the current Heir of the Earl of Gryffindor from his lawful guardians and hide him from the Wizarding World. We will show, through his own words and that of others, that this act was not the first time Mr. Grindelwald committed this crime, and that, indeed, Mr. Grindelwald willfully stole at least three noble lines that we can prove. He also stole money from noble heirs, and again, we can prove he did so for at least three noble lines.” Amelia Bones drew a deep breath. “Your Honor, there is no statute of limitations for line theft or attempted line theft under the Wizengamot Code, and as our investigation is continuing, I expect we will be bringing Mr. Grindelwald before this court again.”
Judge Marsh nodded, and looked to the dock. “Mr. Doge?”
Elphias Doge rose. “Your Honor, this man is Albus Dumbledore. The use of the name Grindelwald in this proceeding is base and meant to bias this good court. We will show that the actions taken by Mr. Dumbledore were made legally, and for the best interests of the Wizarding World.”
Judge Marsh leaned forward. “Mr. Doge, your client’s legal name ends with ‘Grindelwald.’ His marriage to Gellert Bathsheba Grindelwald has been confirmed by record and by the man himself, so the use of your client’s legal name shall stand. But by your statement, Mr. Doge, am I to infer that your client does not deny his actions, but instead, intends to justify them?”
Doge paled, as did Albus. “Yes, Your Honor.”
“Hmmm,” Judge Marsh looked up. “Ms. Bones, in the interests of clarity and transparency, please present the findings of your investigation to the court.”
Over the course of the next hour, Amelia Bones laid out her case, starting with the pensive projection of Albus’ own interviews with regard to Harry Potter, which asserted his intent to purposely isolate the lad with those who didn’t love him, purposely keep his magical guardian from assuming his guardianship, and purposely try to assume control of the lad’s vaults. Additionally, she added the bit of interview from Gellert Grindelwald that pointed to motive; the crowd was utterly silent as she showed that the couple had conspired to take over the Wizarding World first as revolutionaries, and second through political machinations. The revelation that they had a philosopher’s stone stunned the crowd.
Next, Ms. Bones turned to the evidence she’d collected regarding the Grindelwalds’ actions surrounding the orphaned Tom Marvolo Riddle. With the help of testimony from the Gringotts Head Manager, she showed that Albus had introduced Riddle to the Wizarding World, failed to show Riddle the single vault which would have come to Riddle upon his entrance to Hogwarts, and instead, taken it for himself.
“Mr. Riddle is no longer available to interview,” Ms. Bones solemnly informed the court. “And as Gellert Grindelwald makes clear, he was to be Albus Grindelwald’s adversary, a new Dark Lord. Albus Grindelwald did, in fact, succeed in this effort, as we now know Riddle as the Dark Lord Voldemort.”
The crowd gasped, and then a dull roar of fury from multiple corners filled the court.
Albus sat, stone-faced.
Ms. Bones continued, showing how Albus had assumed magical guardianship of several orphans of the last war, Riddle among them, in his role as Hogwarts Headmaster. Through those efforts, she maintained, Albus had accessed their vaults and left them penniless.
“Revolutions need money, after all,” Ms. Bones said coolly.
When the presentation of the case against Albus wound down, Judge Marsh nodded. “My thanks, Madam Bones.” She looked at the parchment on her desk, clearly labeled evidence of every crime the man in front of her had committed, then looked up. “Mr. Doge. In your opening plea you implied that Mr. Grindelwald did, in fact, commit these crimes, but that his actions were justified. As you are no doubt aware, there is no such plea as ‘not guilty by reason of knowing better,’ and, in fact, many villains attempt that claim when they find themselves in the situation that your client is in at this time. However, your client is entitled to a defense, and you have pledged to mount it. Present your case for Mr. Grindelwald’s innocence.”
Doge stood, a bit shakily, and said, “Your Honor, the evidence that the DMLE has provided appears to point to one conclusion: That Albus Dumbledore is guilty of kidnapping, line theft, attempted line theft, and embezzlement. However, the evidence presented does not show Mr. Dumbledore’s reasoning for his actions.”
Judge Marsh tapped her gavel to the bench. “I have already ruled that we must use the defendant’s legal name in this proceeding, Mr. Doge. Use his false name again, and be held in contempt of this court.”
Doge swallowed audibly, paling still further. Sweat began to bead at his temples. “Your Honor, I am unable to call him by his legal name.”
Albus ground his teeth.
Judge Marsh raised an eyebrow and asked, “Why not?”
“I believe myself to be cursed,” Doge choked out.
Bedlam broke out in the courtroom, and the Auror on duty raised the silencing wards. Judge Marsh nodded her thanks, and turned to Doge. “Are you able to tell us the nature of this curse?”
“I am bound to the Dumbledore family,” Doge continued to choke out, slowly, while Albus watched, helpless to interfere because of his bindings. “I was ordered to call my client by that name.”
Tim’s eyebrows rose, as did those of Madam Bones. (Really, eyebrows rose all over the courtroom in a universal British gesture of ‘I-beg-your-pardon-did-I-really-hear-that’?)
Judge Marsh simply looked at Albus, then his defender, then to Ms. Bones. “I do believe the court needs to hear about the circumstances under which such a binding can occur. Because I can’t be hearing that Mr. Doge is enslaved to the Dumbledore family, can I? Because that is most certainly illegal in the United Kingdom.”
Ms. Bones cleared her throat. “Those are the most likely circumstances, however, Your Honor. One family bound to another through magic usually occurs as a result of the settling of a blood feud or similar, and of course, slavery of sentient human beings was made illegal a century ago in the Wizarding World.”
“Mr. Grindelwald, can you explain your defender’s circumstances?”
Albus eyes’ glittered, but he made no sound.
Judge Marsh nodded. “I see. Sir Holmes, as the Queen’s Representative, have I permission to question the defendant using her Veritaserum?”
Tim looked at Albus, seeing that the man would refuse to cooperate unless he did. “You do, Judge Marsh.”
“Please approach and administer the potion.”
Tim stood, carefully straightening out the lines of his suit as he did so. He moved toward the bench, then turned to look at the defendant. He reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled out the vial.
“Mr. Grindelwald, please open your mouth.”
Albus clenched his lips tightly.
Tim sighed. “Your Honor, the defendant refuses to cooperate.”
“So I see,” Judge Marsh said calmly. “Ms. Bones, I will entertain your motion to remove Mr. Doge as Mr. Grindelwald’s defender on the grounds that he is magically compromised.”
“Wait!” Albus blurted out. “That’ll kill him.”
Judge Marsh looked to Albus. “Do tell, Mr. Grindelwald. Please. Cooperate with Sir Holmes.”
Albus reluctantly opened his mouth, and Tim laid three drops on the man’s tongue.
“Please state your name for the record,” Tim ordered quietly.
“Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Grindelwald.”
“Describe the circumstances under which Elphias Doge became bound to the Dumbledore family.”
“He discovered Gellert and myself in a compromising position while on holiday from school. He threatened to expose us. We overpowered and bound him to the Dumbledore family for all eternity.”
“Why not the Grindelwald family?”
“Gellert is the last of his line. We wanted Doge to be bound for as long as possible. We did not yet have the philosopher’s stone. And a slave is always useful.”
Tim’s jaw tightened.
“And how do you feel about Elphias Doge today?”
“I do not want him killed by the oath. I regard him with some affection. He has been of use to me in many ways since my husband was imprisoned.”
“Please describe the ways in which Elphias Doge has been useful to you.”
“He has helped to implement some of the changes I have been trying to make in the Wizarding World. He has warmed my bed. He has seen to my every need.”
“Are you able to release him from his binding?”
“Are you able to rescind orders once they have been given?”
“Yes. But it’s rarely necessary.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Tim saw Doge hunched down in humiliation, face burning red.
“Does the binding affect only Elphias Doge? What of his family?”
“It only affects Elphias Doge.”
At that, Doge’s head shot up, and his dark eyes burned accusingly at Albus.
“Was he aware of that?”
“No. I let him believe that his obedience meant his family would be safe from the binding.”
Ms. Bones’ soft, “That utter bastard,” could be heard throughout the chamber.
Doge’s eyes shut, tightly.
Tim asked Albus, “Under what orders is Elphias Doge at this time?”
“To always call me Dumbledore. To always do exactly as I say. To defend me as best as he is capable. To keep my secrets.”
“And the penalty for defying your orders?”
“Death by magic.”
Tim could see that the crowd would be roaring without the silencing wards, and he looked around at Judge Marsh, who looked as though she’d sucked a lemon. “Your Honor? Further questions?”
The Judge leaned forward. “Ask him if he’s done all the things he’s accused of.”
Tim nodded, and looked at Albus. “Did you, in fact, do all the things of which you’ve been accused in this court today?”
Albus’ face turned red as he visibly fought the potion. He struggled for a long minute before blurting out, “Yes!”
Judge Marsh nodded, firmly. “Having heard all the evidence brought by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and the further questioning of the defendant Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Grindelwald, this court finds the defendant guilty of all charges. He will be remanded to the Queen’s Custody, held in the magical cells of the Tower of London, under guard with magic suppressed, at the Queen’s Leisure. Let no one interfere with the Queen’s Justice.”
Elphias Doge stood, and defiantly shouted, “He’s Albus Grindelwald.”
And collapsed, dead, to the floor of the Wizengamot chamber.
Never, in all his life, had Tim pictured the scene that he now took part in.
Escorted by six Aurors in full dress, Albus Grindelwald, in magic-suppressing shackles, was marched underground to a secret Underground station, with Tim and his assistant, John, at their head. They boarded the single car there, and sped quickly to Westminster Pier, exiting at the station there and out a normally unnoticed exit to the Thames. A dark boat rose out of the water there, and cloaked in conjured fog, the party boarded the boat for a trip up the river to the Tower of London.
The last non-magical criminals to be housed in the Tower were gangsters, twin brothers who spent their time waiting for trial after their arrest at the Queen’s Leisure in the Tower, some twenty years before. When the Queen had been informed of the scope of Albus Grindelwald’s crimes, she’d ordered the magical cells opened, aired, shored up, and freshly warded in anticipation of the sentence.
At least, Tim thought wryly, she wasn’t using the example of Henry VIII, who ordered the swordsman for Ann Boleyn’s execution a week before her trial.
Still, fortune favored the prepared, as the Queen had commented, and as she was preparing to have Tim launch an investigation into Azkaban conditions, again, she preferred to have any high security prisoners at the Tower. The placement there of the magical world’s most infamous prisoner, currently, served the secondary purpose of reminding the magical world that they served the Queen, too.
Thus, here stood Tim, witnessing a phenomenon not seen in more than a century, of a prisoner brought by boat to the Tower complex, and passing through the Traitor’s gate from the riverside. Though the gate appeared bricked over from the water, it masked the magical entrance that kept the water at bay as they arrived.
The Aurors urged Albus to his feet, and marched him off the boat, up the dock, and directly into the Queen’s Quarters, where the magical cells had been repaired and warded.
Tim stopped to discuss the conditions of imprisonment with the head Yeoman Warder, a stalwart non-magical whose daughter had attended Hogwarts, and confirmed with the man the policy of no visitors. Solitary confinement to the cells, except for meals that would appear three times a day. Supervised showers once per week; other sanitary facilities discreetly in a corner of the cell.
It would be Albus Grindelwald’s abode until the Queen decided otherwise.
That is, in fact, what “at the Queen’s Leisure” meant.
Tim witnessed Albus entering the cell, still in shackles that would not be taken off—the man clearly was a magical threat—and be sealed inside. The door to the cell itself magically disappeared into the wall, and Tim could see combinations of runes embedded into the stone that would keep the cell sealed to any but those authorized to approach with food.
“Done and dusted, Sir Holmes,” one Auror said. “We’ll be posting a guard here to aid the Warder.”
“The Queen and I thank you,” Tim said. “I’ll make my way home from here.”
All but two of the Aurors left, and those two took positions at the wall.
Tim nodded to the Warder, and wandered out of the Queen’s quarters. He walked up the cobblestone pathway to the corner behind the Vaults, where a tea cart did a brisk business. He bought a cup, then made his way over to a bench near the green to drink it.
“It’s universal, isn’t it?” A deep baritone voice drew his attention.
Tim looked up. “What?”
“A cup of tea to soothe the spirit,” Arcturus Black said, taking a seat next to Tim with a cup of his own.
“Quite,” Tim said, taking another sip.
The men relaxed into the silence, considering the events of the morning. Behind them, the marker placed that marked the Tower’s execution site glinted ominously.
“Well,” Arcturus said, eventually. “I’ve ordered the tapestry and potion for your tree. Gringotts had some on hand, actually, and pledged to deliver it this afternoon. Interested in solving that mystery today?”
Tim pursed his lips, then finished his tea with a swallow. “I think I’ll wait until the family can all be present. The children and Wanda are tied up with lessons and activities this afternoon until dinner time. I do believe Saturday is free, however.”
“Saturday will do,” Arcturus confirmed, and finished his own tea. He stood. “Need a lift?”
Tim shook his head. “No. I’m actually quite close to my own office.”
Arcturus regarded Tim for a moment. “You’re not at Westminster?”
Tim smiled softly. “No. My offices were established when the White Tower, there, was new. You’d likely be able to guess where they are, as they survived the Great Fire. But I’d ask you not to, for security’s sake.”
“As you wish,” Arcturus said, a faint grin on his face that reminded Tim of Sirius. “I’ll see you Saturday. The elves will be thrilled to make luncheon for the family. I think they’re quite bored with just me, and now Sirius, to look after.”
“Wanda will appreciate the effort,” Tim said, and nodded. “I’ll just stay here a moment more.”
“Right,” Arcturus gave a little wave and started strolling off, toward the public exit of the tower complex on the Thames side.
Tim sat, as he asserted, a moment more, feeling the melancholy that occasionally plagued him roll through his frame. He closed his eyes against the sensation, knowing now that it was his magical core responding to its loss, and drew a deep breath to remind himself of three things:
Tim nodded decisively, stood, and spun his umbrella as he walked off to his offices.
Part 11: In which a family looks to its history
February 20, 1982
Wills and Harry leapt at Sirius when they arrived at Blackmoor Castle, and he went down in a heap with the little boys cackling madly.
“Ouch,” he said, but there was no heat in it.
Eurus and Mycroft followed a bit more sedately, and Mycroft extended a hand to the young wizard he was beginning to think of as a kind of young, hip, uncle. “Come up, Sirius. Honestly, you, two.”
Wills and Harry bounded up, one on either side of Sirius. Harry was quite proud of his ability to run, and at eighteen months old, already demonstrated the significant control of his body that could mark a future athlete. Wills, of course, just liked the chaos.
“Mycroft, thanks.” Sirius grinned at the oldest Holmes. “How’s life?”
Mycroft rolled his eyes. “Adequate.”
“You’ve got to be the most dignified eight-year-old I’ve ever met,” Sirius mused aloud.
Mycroft looked gratified. “Thank you.”
“Makes me want to prank you,” Sirius continued with a smirk.
“Yes,” Wanda said, a trace of exasperation in her voice. “Please don’t.”
Sirius laughed and gestured toward the house. “Everyone in, if you please, Grandfather is waiting in the ritual room. I’ll show you the way, we’ll do the thing, and then we’ll have lunch. I saw some truly excellent-looking hand pies in the kitchen earlier.”
Tim bringing up the rear with Eurus, smiled. “Sounds good.”
The family paraded behind Sirius as he led them through the foyer to the study, and revealed a hidden stair behind a bookcase with a tap of his wand. They trooped down the stone stairs to what should have been a cellar, but looked instead to be a large, mostly empty room carved out of stone. Perfect grooves, in concentric circles, started from the very outside edge of the room and worked inwards, until the center circle gave a diameter of about four feet—enough for a single wizard. At its center, Arcturus stood with a potion and a length of fabric.
“Welcome, Holmes family!” Arcturus intoned. “This is the Black circle. As you can see, it’s set up to be used by any number, though when one is conducting a ritual it’s best to use a magical number — 1, 3, 7 or multiples thereof. We’re not conducting a ritual today, per se, but we are making magic and enchanting a tapestry, so it’s best to use a well-warded space, like this one.” He unfurled the blank fabric, which looked, to Tim’s untrained eye, to be woven of coarse, cream-colored thread of some organic nature. “This is pre-treated linen,” Arcturus explained, glancing at Tim. “It will expand or contract to whatever size tree is revealed. Once the potion is complete and sprinkled on, the tree will expand to however big it needs to be to encompass all your living magical relatives, and back six generations from them.”
“That could get quite sizeable,” Mycroft observed keenly.
“Indeed,” Arcturus nodded. “Another reason for our use of a large, empty, space.” He gestured to the room, which, now that Tim really looked, seemed much bigger once in it that it had been from the doorway.
Tim and Wanda approached, clasping the hands of two children each, with Sirius bringing up the rear. Mycroft and Eurus held on to Tim, while Wanda held Wills and Harry. As they approached, Arcturus uncorked the vial he had in his hand, and asked, “Wills, may I make your finger bleed a little, for the potion?”
Wills, having been warned of the necessity and asked in advanced if he minded, nodded importantly. He held out his hand, and Arcturus chanted a quick spell to make blood rise to the surface of Wills’ finger painlessly. Wills pursed his lips, but didn’t say anything, as he’d been warned to say nothing once the blood was drawn. Arcturus drew Wills’ blood from his hand, then, using his wand to direct it to the vial, which glowed a soft white as the blood was added.
Then, Arcturus winked at Wills, and emptied the vial with a toss onto the tapestry.
It shimmered, glowed, and started rapidly expanding.
Shimmering black, green, red, and gold lines spread across its surface as it grew, and grew, and grew.
“Did you know we had so many relatives, Daddy?” Eurus asked.
“No, my dear, I’m sorry to say I did not,” Tim murmured, lowly, watching the tapestry expand and wondering when it would hit critical mass.
Arcturus watched the lines as they formed. “Hmm. A number of these names show they are no longer among us. See the names in black? Means they’re already in the great beyond. Green for living; see here? William Sherlock Scott Holmes. Red connections for blood-adopted—there’s one of those here. Bit different from the paternity spell. Ah, see, Tim, look.”
John Holmes, according to tapestry, had three parents. A dashed black line joined him to Sherlock Holmes and to an Elspeth (Lestrange) Holmes, with a red line connecting him to Mycroft.
Arcturus muttered, “Mycroft must have blood-adopted the lad at some point after his birth. That could explain the anomalies.”
“What anomalies?” Tim asked, wondering if he actually wanted to know.
“Well, clearly, Sherlock was cursed, and you’re his direct descendant, as are the children. You, Tim, should have been mad by now, and your father would have been as well. Wills escaped the curse entirely—though that might be because of something Sherlock did for his heir, knowingly or unknowingly—as did Mycroft. That’s just not generally possible, though clearly it IS possible, given that it did happen. A blood adoption could account for it.” Arcturus continued to examine the tapestry. “Come, look. Harry’s on here, too. It’s quite safe now that it’s stopped expanding.”
With a shrug, Tim stepped forward, letting go of his children when they tugged at his hands. Mycroft and Eurus ran up to look, and Wanda walked over to where Arcturus stood to see her tree, bringing Harry with her, while Wills sat down next to his own name.
“Harry, love, see?” Wanda pointed to his name, in green, under the black names of his birth parents. “James and Lily.” She traced Lily’s name, and drew her finger up to their common grandmother. “Evangeline Ross Evans. She’s your common great-grandmother, children.”
Harry reached chubby fingers out, copying Wanda, to trace the name. “G’ama!”
Tim thought the lack of green on the tree to be terribly sad. The concept of living relatives, plus back six generations, sounded lovely, but when unfurled, the reality appeared to be he, Wanda, and their children, including Harry, were all that remained of … hundreds. Holmes and Evans.
“Who are these two?” Tim asked. He apparently shared a common second-great grandfather with a Rudolphus and Rabastan Lestrange, shown in green.
“Ah,” Arcturus said, uncomfortably. “They’re being held for the attempted murder of the Longbottoms. They’re followers of Riddle.”
Tim raised an eyebrow. “I see.”
“Love, I’ve got another living magical relative, too,” Wanda called from nearly the opposite end of the room. “A Minerva McGonagall. We have a common great-grandparents through the Ross family.”
Sirius blew out a breath. “Well, Holmes family, it appears that you’ve relatives on both sides of the recent conflict. Professor McGonagall is the Transfiguration instructor at Hogwarts, and a fine tactician herself. She’s head of Gryffindor house, actually, though I don’t know how things will change now with Dumbledore gone.”
“So many gone,” Tim said softly, looking at the dates. Many of the deaths were fairly recent, at least in his generation. “So much damage to the Wizarding World.” He looked up, beyond his own grandfather to the Holmes line that stretched back, unending, with the few names intermarried that were not close enough to show as living relatives—Black, Prewett, and Weasley among them.
“In that, the Grindelwalds’ plan makes no sense,” Arcturus said. “Culling the magical world made no sense. Unless they didn’t care about collateral damage at all.”
“Power. That’s what they cared about. Care about. We shall have to be vigilant,” Tim agreed.
Mycroft turned wise eyes on his father, but said nothing. The truth? Tactically, leaving the Grindelwalds alive, even if imprisoned, also made no sense. They could become a rallying point. They could become martyrs. They could … Well, Mycroft could see trouble ahead. He had read The Art of War, after all.
“Constant vigilance,” Sirius said, as if reciting by rote. “The motto of one of the best Aurors I know. And one of Dumbledore’s best friends. Or, he used to be.”
“Well, enough talk of that, I think,” Wanda said briskly. “Nothing to be done today, and believe we’ve found all the living relatives and a corroboration of our discovery of John Holmes’ true parentage. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hungry.”
“To the pies!” Sirius instantly cried, and all the younger Holmes and Potters repeated the rally with a shout. “To the pies!
Wanda rolled her eyes, Tim smirked at her, and Arcturus laughed outright.
“Well, then,” Arcturus said, still chuckling. “To the pies, indeed.”
It was only later, when the children were settled and Wanda and Tim were tucked up in bed together, cuddled closely, that Tim gave voice to his fear.
“I don’t think we’ve completely eradicated this beast,” he whispered into his wife’s hair. “I fear dark times ahead.”
Wanda tightened her grip on Tim. “We’ll take things as they come, my love. Appreciate what we have. Plan for the worst. And do our best to raise these little geniuses, with their sharp minds and their brave hearts.”
Tim’s throat closed, and he nodded, gripping her tightly.
May 12, 1982
“I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get some answers,” Healer Banks said, genuinely remorseful. “As far as I can tell, the scar on Harry’s forehead is unique.”
“But you do have some,” Wanda replied. “Answers, I mean.”
“Yes, though I’m not pleased with what we’ve been able to uncover.” Healer Banks looked around at the small assembly in the small parlor at Blackmoor Castle. Sirius, Arcturus, Tim, Wanda, and Harry sat in the room, while Minx kept an eye on Wills and Eurus. Mycroft, of course, had tutoring.
“And that is?” Sirius asked, pointedly.
“It appears that on the night—Riddle, is it?—attempted to kill Harry, a piece of Riddle’s soul itself broke off and attached itself to Harry’s forehead.” The baldly stated words raised eyebrows around the room. “It’s a little known fact about that particular spell; it destabilizes the soul, leading to increased mental health problems in those who use it. But a wizard long ago discovered that with the right ritual at the right moment, a shard of soul could be broken off the whole and contained, in effect providing the caster a sort of immortality.”
“That sounds a nightmare,” Tim commented.
“Well, most would think so,” Healer Banks said. “I’m not a theologian, by any stretch, but I can only imagine that a soul must be whole to make its way back to wherever it is they come from when we’re born.”
“Right,” Wanda said. “So Riddle cast the AK, destabilized his soul, cut out a shard of it, and it ended up in Harry?”
“In the backlash of the protective magic that Lily Potter laid on her son in her final moments, yes,” Healer Banks said. “Riddle’s corporeal body disappeared, his remaining soul escaped, and that one shard ended up in Harry’s scar, surrounded by the protective magic of his mother.”
Harry, who’d been idly playing with a glowing ball in Wanda’s lap, looked up. “Mummy?”
“Yes, Harry,” Wanda said. “Your mummy protected you from a bad man, didn’t she?”
“Yep,” Harry said, grinning widely.
Healer Banks smiled faintly at the byplay. “The issue is that the ritual isn’t widely known, and when it was used in the past, it was discovered the the containers—which were all stable, inanimate objects, as far as I can tell—were nearly indestructible. The only things that could destroy them were things already massively destructive: basilisk venom, Fiendfyre, or the like.”
The horror of that thought washed over the room, and Arcturus cleared his throat. “And as you’ve not found another animate container, you don’t believe it’s been done before?”
“No. And that means we are actively looking for a way to separate the soul shard from Harry’s forehead without resorting to those measures,” Healer Banks confirmed. “It’s doing him no harm at the moment, isolated as it is within his mother’s protective magic, and I’d be hesitant to make a move on it before we have a way to ensure the Harry’s safety.”
Tim said, slowly, “You will have the Queen’s resources, should you have need of them. She is fully committed to Harry’s health and safety.”
“Thank you, Sir Holmes,” Healer Banks said swiftly. “But I think our lay lies in research, and perhaps in ritual. With your permission, I’d like to bring this to the Department of Mysteries. It contains some of the best scholars of our world, and they might know of a creative solution.”
Arcturus nodded slowly. “I would agree, Tim. Also, I will make the Black Library available. We have an extensive collection of volumes in dark magicks, of which I cannot imagine this sort of ritual would not be a part.”
“That would be an enormous help,” Healer Banks said, excitedly. “And a boon to our research.”
Arcturus waved it off. “We must ensure Harry’s safety and well-being,” he said.
“Agreed,” Sirius said curtly. “Whatever needs doing, shall be done.”
“I will review my ancestor’s journals, as well,” Tim said. “I don’t know that the Holmes knew of such magicks, but they were resourceful and intelligent people. I will read on.”
Wanda spoke suddenly. “What of Sherlock’s hat?”
All eyes turned to her. “Pardon?” Healer Banks said politely.
“Sherlock’s hat. Didn’t Sherlock have a way of imprinting himself on the hat?” Wanda asked slowly. “Is that procedure anything like moving a soul?”
“I think I shall prioritize reading Sherlock’s journal, dear heart,” Tim said quietly. “And perhaps I’ll ask Will to put on his hat.”
“There’s something else to consider,” Healer Banks said softly. “For this to have happened accidentally, we suspect Riddle’s soul was already damaged.”
“Meaning?” Arcturus said, eyebrows drawn together.
“It’s quite likely there are other objects containing shards of Riddle’s soul about,” Healer Banks admitted.
“Isn’t that just the way?” Tim muttered. “Right. I’ll need a task force with a purpose: one, to find a way to remove a soul shard from a living body, and two, to determine how many of Riddle’s soul shard containers exist and destroy them all.”
Sirius looked at Tim. “I’d like to be included on that task force. I’m rather talented and rather invested.”
Tim managed a nod, and looked to Wanda, whose resolute expression ensured her agreement.
“I’m happy to look over research,” Wanda said, firmly. “I may not have magic, but I do have my mind.”
Healer Banks spoke. “I will head the research into the medical area of removing the shard, and contact the Department of Mysteries.”
“We have an accord,” Tim said. “I will inform the Queen. And let us all tap the resources we have at our collective disposal.”
May 18, 1982
Wills, now a very self-important four-year-old, looked pleased to be headed back to Baker Street with his hat.
The adults had all agreed that the Baker Street location offered the best access to materials Sherlock might need, and in any case, it would be familiar surroundings for the, er, hat.
So Wills sat in the front of the same crowd gathered for the Healer’s reveal a week previous, ready to put on the hat.
“Remember, Wills, to let him see this conversation,” Sirius coaxed gently. “Allow him to hear what you hear, and see what you see. Tell him your cousin has a soul piece in his scar, and ask him if he has any ideas. Don’t worry if they don’t make sense. Just repeat what he says.”
“Kay!” Wills said, and put on the hat.
The adults stayed silent as Wills relayed the problem to the entity in the hat. Wills giggled.
“He says you’re all smarter than he thought.” Wills scrunched up his nose. “Think of the hat as a computer with Sherlock’s brain in it. It’s not really his soul, he says. That moved on. Oh! It’s me, now. Cool.”
“Very,” Tim said wryly. His grandfather had been reincarnated in his son. Fabulous. “Does he have any ideas?”
“He said, ‘In-ves-tig-ate portraits. Talk to Sorting Hat? And the Grey Lady at Hogwarts. He doesn’t know the answer. But that’s where he started in thinking about the hat.”
“Right, then,” Tim said. “Tell him thank you.”
Wills scrunched up his face again. “He says you’re welcome. And he wishes he could help more.” Wills fell silent for a minute. “Baker Street on a ley line?”
Sirius sat up at that. “Baker Street is on a ley line?”
Wills rubbed his temples. “Ouch, hat. Stop shouting. Yes. Good place for magic things. No in-ter-fer-ence like Hogwarts.”
“Actually, I believe London itself is at a convergence of ley lines,” Tim murmured. “If one runs under Baker Street, that makes it a good spot for tapping the extra power of it.”
Wills said, “Can I take off the hat now? He says he doesn’t have anything else we could use for this problem. And he’s loud.”
“Of course, sweetheart,” Wanda said.
“Bye, hat!” Wills said, and took it off.
“Well, that was interesting,” Arcturus said. “Portraits, the Sorting Hat, the Grey Lady at Hogwarts. And Baker Street on a ley line. That’s all useful information, even if he didn’t have any particularly specific help.”
“The journal didn’t detail the procedure he used to isolate his memory into the hat,” Tim said. “I imagine he thought it proprietary. It’s interesting Wills used the word ‘computer’ to describe the hat.”
“He said something about a computing machine and a dictionary and I guessed, Daddy,” Wills said.
“Oh. Well done, then, Wills.”
“Well, I think this place will be useful down the road for any number of things,” Wanda summed up. “But it’s back to research for the lot of you.”
“We do believe that this will work, Mrs. Holmes,” the DOM worker known as Croaker said quietly. “You’ve reviewed the research yourself.”
Wanda sat back, reviewing all the available data accumulated over the last four years. While she’d prefer an option that would allow for an experiment before the ritual (her scientific soul prefered a trial that did not involve her youngest child), they had every reason to believe that the ritual developed by the healers and researchers would work.
It required three wizards, and object of some sort of pure metal or gem, and a procedure cobbled together from a variety of sources that should, in theory, remove the soul shard from Harry’s forehead and place it into the object of the ritual, which would then be destroyed.
The researchers also had found a way to track the other pieces of shard, while contained. They were hopeful they could also find the original soul somewhere, too, but at this point, the variable of containment was the best they had to work with, seeing as Harry’s scar was already contained. A procedure to shift the shard from container to container without destroying the container had been successfully tested, moving a shard found in an old gold locket at one of the Black properties to a platinum box made for the occasion.
“And if it doesn’t?” Wanda asked quietly, needing to know the alternative should something disastrous occur; needing to hear it spoken out loud.
“Lady Potter’s magic still protects young Harry,” Healer Banks said. “He will live, and we can try again.”
Wanda nodded decisively. “Then, let’s go ahead. When would be best?”
They settled on the new moon, in the ritual room at Blackmoor Castle, which would be February 8. Healer Banks, Croaker, and Sirius would be the casters, and Harry would be at the center of the ritual circle, next to the platinum box they proposed to use. Harry, who knew of the collective research to remove something terrible and magical from his forehead, would be informed. At five, he was capable of staying still when he needed to, and fascinated by magic.
“Though, I suppose, we could put him to sleep for the ritual to ensure that he’s absolutely still,” Healer Banks said. “It shouldn’t affect the ritual’s efficacy.”
Wanda agreed. “I think I like that option best. Harry will know that he’s going to undergo a procedure, but keeping him asleep for it might help keep him from being traumatized by it.”
“Sounds like we have a plan, then,” Sirius said. “I’ll go inform the gents.”
“The gents” being Arcturus and Tim.
“Right, then, go forth and be productive,” Wanda pronounced. “I must collect the children from their tutors.”
She found Eurus, Wills, and Harry huddled over a book in the main library at the private school that hosted the trio four mornings a week.
“What are we reading with such avid attention, my lads and lass?” Wanda asked.
“Treasure Island,” Wills said with bit of a growl in his voice.
“Ah,” Wanda said. “And how do you find it?”
“A bit scary, Auntie,” Harry said, pursing his lips. “But Wills is all about the pirates.”
“Adventures, and sailing the seven seas! Yo, ho, maties!” Wills crowed, earning a “Shhh” from stern-looking librarian at the desk. Not even a little cowed, Wills rolled his eyes and lowered his voice to a whisper as he finished the line. “And a bottle of rum.”
“I do quite like the idea of buried treasure, Mummy,” Eurus said, sedate as ever. “I wonder if that’s something we could do?”
“I think it’s something best reserved for an adventure on the high seas. Or at least the beach,” Wanda suggested. “We could consider a holiday to the beach this summer and investigate for pirates. Perhaps find some buried treasure. Perhaps bury some ourselves. What say you, maties?”
“Sounds arrrrrrrr-duous,” Wills growled out. “Let’s do it.”
“I think it sounds like a plan,” Wanda said. “We’ll discuss it with your father and Mycroft tonight.” She nodded to their school bags and jackets. “Armor on, lads and lass. We’ve got to get some lunch in us before music lessons.”
Grumbling only a little, the children shouldered on their jackets and bags, and followed Wanda out.
At dinner time, the family gathered to hear of pirates, make plans for the beach, and, of course, eat roast chicken and veg. As the meal drew toward dessert, Wanda cleared her throat. “I do have some news that we need to address.”
“Yes, Mother?” Mycroft asked, alertly, as the others simply looked up at her.
She glanced at Tim, then said, “We believe we have found a way to help Harry. It’s a ritual, Harry, on the night of the new moon, which, if successful, will transfer that bit of no-good in your head to a box, which can then be safely disposed of.”
Harry scrunched up his nose. “Will it hurt?”
“Not a bit,” Wanda assured him. “In fact, we’ll have you asleep for the whole thing, and when you wake up, it will be gone.”
“And you believe this will work, Mother? Father?” Mycroft asked, seriously. At twelve, he’d nearly completed his regular education, received tutoring on magical subjects, and was on track for his placement at Oxford in the fall. (The collective having decided that Oxford would suit very well for dual educations in magical and non-magical politics and international relations.)
Wanda nodded. “I have reviewed the research myself at every step. We have a successful case of inanimate-to-inanimate transfer. While I’d prefer an animate-to-inanimate trial to go ahead first, there’s no way to safely do so. With his mum’s protection already at play, Harry will be perfectly safe, even if it doesn’t work.”
Mycroft looked seriously at Harry. “Mum thinks it will work and it won’t hurt, Harry. What do you think?”
“I wanna do it,” Harry said. “I want this icky thing gone.”
“Then it’s settled,” Wanda said, noting how Eurus and Wills moved a bit to flank Harry and take his hands firmly.
Tim smiled at all of them. “Settled. Now, I believe there was pudding?”
February 8, 1986
Wanda let out a deep breath as she was brought to Harry, who lay asleep in the bed kept for him at Blackmoor Castle.
The ritual had worked.
All scans indicated that the soul shard had been removed from the scar on Harry’s forehead, while Lily’s magic, curiously, remained in place in what appeared to be a sort of personal ward. Croaker told Wanda that it hadn’t been seen before, and while the researcher was keen to figure out how it worked, he respected Tim and Wanda’s negative position on the subject.
Harry was a child, after all. When he was grown, perhaps, Harry could choose to allow Croaker to study him.
Given Harry’s personality, however, Wanda thought that would likely be a no.
Still, seeing him still, quiet, and asleep, the scar a faded white line on his forehead, filled her relief.
Harry was safe.
Part 12: In which we see glimpses of the future, and a fate averted
Their bit of beach was crowded with flashing lights, shouting men, and lots of equipment whose names Eurus didn’t know. What she did know, however, was thankfulness, because their friend, Victor Trevor, had a chance.
They’d been playing an elaborate game of hide-and-seek, involving pirates, treasure, and assorted traps, all along the beach when Victor hid a little too well. Eurus had figured it out, calculated the tide, and ran for her mother.
Her little brother, Wills, looked at Eurus with keen eyes.
“And how did you know where Victor was hiding?”
Eurus rolled her own eyes. “It wasn’t hard to figure out. As it happens, I don’t think he intended to hide down there.”
The siblings watched as emergency crews helped their friend out of the well he’d fallen into during their play. Six-year-old Harry ran up to them. “What’s going on?”
Nine-year-old Eurus took his hand. “Victor got himself trapped in the well on the beach during our game.”
Harry looked up at her doubtfully. “Really? I thought he could keep up.”
“Apparently not as well as we thought,” Wills said grumpily.
The trio watched as Victor emerged from the well in the arms of a burly fireman, to be brought to the waiting ambulance at the top of the cliff. Wanda hurried over to her brood. “Well done, my lads and lass, on getting help as soon as was possible,” she said, kissing each of their foreheads. “You’ve certainly saved his life. The water was rising very quickly in that well.”
Eurus smiled. “I’m glad.”
“Me, as well,” Wills said grumpily. “Though he really was the best Red Beard. And now he’ll be gone for the rest of the day.”
“Perhaps a new game?” Wanda suggested. “I’ve a mind to put all of you right where I can see you for the rest of the afternoon.”
The three glanced at each other, exchanging information in a complicated code of eyebrow raising, heated looks, and bitten lips. Apparently, Eurus was elected, in the end.
“Could we maybe make surprise pies in the kitchens instead?” Eurus looked pleadingly at their mother.
“Bit warm for that, isn’t it?” Wanda asked, surprised.
“Well, we wanted to bury and find treasure,” Eurus responded calmly. “If we can’t do it on the beach, maybe we can bury it in food and surprise Sirius with it later.”
Wanda laughed. “I like it. Let us prank the prankster!”
“To the pies!” Harry yelled, in what had become a well-worn family war-cry.
“To the pies!” The others cried in return, and they scampered up the beach to their summer home.
The owl that winged its way into the Holmes kitchen caught everyone off-guard, despite the knowledge that Eurus’ Hogwarts letter would likely be arriving at any time. Auntie Min had said so, and since making her acquaintance years ago, the children had found that Minerva McGonagall did not lie. At most, she’d refrain from speaking or pretend not to notice miscreants under her feet.
Eurus liked her a bit better for it.
She still had her days in which apathy set in, but it was a manageable apathy. She could recognize the symptoms as well as any, and she would tell her mother, who would ask her to grade her feelings on a ten-point scale. One meant: Eh. Might be moody but ultimately not in need of intervention, and ten meant: Get me the potion and a quiet room, please.
Eurus did not prefer the potion option. It was sort of a Pepper-Up? Not quite, she didn’t think. But it helped her keep the dark side of apathy at bay, pepped her up a bit, and allowed her to get through to the other side with the help of the techniques she continued to learn through her therapy.
The non-magical psychologists thought she was a bit of a miracle, though they were still wary of her. Sociopathy and/or psychopathy, diagnosed at her early age, warranted caution.
But Eurus truly did feel better. While she’d likely never be entirely free of the blood-line curse’s effects—the potion stopped the physical restriction of her magical core, after all, but could not account for the emotional and physiological effects of the five years that it had been bound—her mental health could be managed. Best of all, she could feel: Love for her family, happiness for her friends, empathy for others, compassion for those less fortunate.
But could she manage Hogwarts?
Auntie Min seemed to think it doable, if the owl currently pecking Eurus’ left ear was any indication.
“Stop it,” Eurus scolded gently as she reached for the envelope attached to the bird’s foot. “Have a piece of bacon, then. We’ll reply with our own owl.”
The school owl, a large tawny, nipped her ear, snagged a piece of bacon, and flew off.
The rest of Eurus family—just Wills, Harry, and Mummy this morning, as Mycroft and Daddy had gone already—looked at her in varied states of anticipation. “Come on, ‘Rus,” Wills said, setting down his toast. “Read it out loud.”
She rolled her eyes, but dutifully broke the seal and opened the parchment envelope, reading out loud:
“Dear Miss Holmes,
“We are pleased to inform you of your acceptance into the Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary equipment and supplies.
“Term begins Sept. 1. We await your owl no later than July 31.
“Professor Minerva McGonagall”
“Etcetera, etcetera,” Eurus said. “There’s a second sheet. What do you think, Mummy?”
“We’ve had this discussion quite a bit, darling, and you know that the choice is utterly yours,” Wanda said gently. “You have choices. You can be homeschooled in magic and continue your non-magical education. You can go to Hogwarts and complete your non-magical education via correspondence. Minerva does truly believe your conditions can be managed at Hogwarts. Your potions will be in the infirmary, and a quiet room available for the bad days. Your Head of House, whomever that is, will be informed of your needs and tasked to help you manage them if needed. And, frankly, if it doesn’t go well, you can come home, and nothing more said.”
Eurus bit her lip. (Wills and Harry were crossing their fingers under the table, which Wanda found amusing.)
“I think,” Eurus said slowly, “that I would like to try. I would like to try school, at any rate, and I think, with my magic, Hogwarts is the best place. But Mummy, I want to continue with my violin, too.”
“That won’t be a problem, darling,” Wanda assured her. “We’ll add it right to your school schedule, and you know that Uncle Arc will arrange for your magical music theory tutor to go right to Hogwarts with you.”
“Then, yes,” Eurus said. “I’ll go to Hogwarts.”
Wills whooped, Harry jumped up and started dancing around the kitchen, and Wanda smiled. “Wonderful, my love. Let’s send the owl, and we’ll make a trip to Diagon Alley later this week.”
As she was tackled on either side by her little brothers, Eurus wondered if actually going to school would feel as good as the decision to go.
Diagon Alley, of course, was packed. It seemed that everyone had gotten their letters and headed straight for the shopping. Eurus frowned.
“I don’t like these crowds, Mummy,” she said.
“I’m not sure I like them, either, Eurus, but as we’re here, and Sirius is wrangling your brothers, I suppose we’d best make our way forward and make the best of it. One to ten?” Wanda asked, briskly.
“Four,” Eurus grumped. “But it could head toward ten pretty quickly.”
“Let’s focus on the most important bits, then,” Wanda said. “Ollivander’s, your uniform, trunk, books, then general supplies. If it gets to be too much, we’ll come back later or send someone else for it. The only bits you truly have to be here for are the wand and the clothes.”
Eurus took a deep breath, counted to four, slowly, and back down from four with her long exhale. Then, she raised her chin. “Let’s go, Mummy.”
Wanda led the way to Ollivander’s, which, thankfully, had no waiting. The wandmaker himself came to the front as they walked into his front door, and he smiled.
“Ah, another Holmes!” Garrick clapped his hands once. “So delighted to see you all back. And how is young Mycroft’s wand serving him? Elm and dragon heartstring, 12 inches, bendy, but strong.”
Wanda smiled gently at the wizard’s enthusiasm. “He’s quite taken with it,” she told him. “And his tutors find no fault with his learning at this time.”
“Good, good!” He turned to Eurus. “And you, Miss Holmes? Are you here for your first wand?”
“Yes,” Eurus said politely, paying no attention to the tape measure flapping about her face.
“Hmmm,” Ollivander peered at the measurements it displayed. “You are one who has been cured of a bloodline curse?”
Eurus had no reason to lie. “Yes.”
Ollivander nodded briskly, his eyes taking in the readings and the knowledge. “Right. You’ve worked with other instruments in wood, yes?”
Eurus exchanged a glance with her mother. “Yes? I play violin.”
“You might find you have an aptitude for making magic through your music, young lady,” Ollivander said, raising his voice a bit as he went back into his stacks. “You should discuss it with your tutor, if he or she is magical.”
Eurus looked to her mother again, and Wanda shrugged. “Worth mentioning, I’d guess,” Wanda confirmed.
Ollivander came back and laid out three wands. “First one here, cypress and unicorn hair, rather inflexible. Give it a bit of a wave.”
Eurus picked it up, and it sparked half-heartedly.
“Ah, no. This one, then. Elm and unicorn hair,” Ollivander said.
She waved it, but nothing at all happened.
“Well, definitely not, then,” Ollivander said. “Not much to be said, then. Try this one. Rosewood and unicorn hair, elegant and rather bendy.”
Another swish, and ice speared out of the wand, headed directly for a shelf behind Ollivander, who ducked.
“Hmm. I’m off track altogether,” he mused. “Though that rosewood … here, try this one.” He dashed off and brought out three more wands. “Maple and unicorn hair.”
Almost, Eurus thought, as the wand sparked under her hand.
“Oh, very close,” Ollivander said. He pursed his lips. “I was using unicorn hair under the presumption that your magic might not be as aggressive as it could have been, but … perhaps I’m wrong.” He rummaged on a lower shelf and brought out another wand. “Maple and dragon heartstring, 13 and a quarter inches, somewhat inflexible.”
Eurus picked it up, and warmth ran through her entire body as a soft shower of sparks emanated from the wand tip.
“There we are,” Ollivander said softly. “How very interesting.”
“What does that choice signify?” Wanda asked.
“Oh, maple is a wood that is highly sought after, but it’s discerning, and generally chooses only those with the ability to achieve great things. As dragon heartstring learns quickly and adapts with its user, I think we’ll find Miss Holmes has great potential. This is, in fact, a learning wand,” Ollivander said. He smiled at Eurus. “I should think we have a young Ravenclaw in our midst.”
Eurus raised an eyebrow, but happily took the wand, now nestled in its case, from the elder wizard. “Thank you, Mr. Ollivander.”
“You’re quite welcome, Miss Holmes.”
Wanda counted out seven galleons, handed them over, and thanked the wizard as well before the pair set out down the alley to Madame Malkins to fit for robes. That shop, unfortunately, was a bit more crowded, and they browsed through accessories for a bit while they waited their turn.
“Do you suppose I really will be a Ravenclaw, Mummy?” Eurus asked, eyeing a particularly nice silver and blue woolen scarf.
“You won’t know for certain until after you’re sorted, darling,” Wanda said, “but I should think of all the houses, Ravenclaw might suit you best. It’s allegedly for scholars, and you’re certainly one of those.”
Eurus smiled at the compliment, and the pair looked up as their names were calmed. “Holmes? We’re ready for you, next.”
Eurus stepped up to be measured, and Wanda ordered the lot required, as well as an extra set of woolens. Scotland, after all, would be cold.
Task complete, Wanda asked again, “One to ten, dear?”
“Still four, Mummy. Let’s get the trunk.”
Wanda nodded, and they headed out to get the trunk and complete the shopping.
In the end, Eurus stuck it out to the very end of the shopping list before saying, in a small voice, “Mummy, I’m getting to a six or seven.”
Wanda tucked the last of the purchases away in her ever-expanding bag–a gift from Sirius–and held out her hand to Eurus. “Quiet room at home? Or tea and a snack at that quiet shop down the road?”
“If the shop’s not crowded, tea, please, Mummy.”
“Let’s go see,” Wanda said, squeezing Eurus’ hand firmly, and leading the way.
September 1, 1988.
Eurus was a bit concerned that the Hogwarts Express would be too much for her, so she asked for a potion right away when she got up. It would help her cope with the stress of the new environment in the absence of other grounding.
Wanda provided it without comment, and the family shuffled itself out to the waiting car, trunk already loaded up with her school things.
Wills and Harry argued over who should sit in the very back seat while Tim took the wheel for the ride to King’s Cross. Mycroft, of course, had gone on to school the day before, wishing his sister well as he, himself, set off for Oxford.
As the family got on the road, Wanda checked her bag and handed back a basket. “This is for the train, darling,” she told Eurus. “There’s a bit of lunch, some pocket money, and a new book.”
“Thank you, Mummy!” Eurus said, excitedly looking through the basket.
“Boys, if you’re well-behaved as we see Eurus off, there’s a basket for each of you, here, too,” Wanda said. “Your treasures will remain a surprise until that eventuality, however.”
Wills smirked at his mother, and Harry gave an innocent smile.
“Right,” Tim said, glancing in the mirror. “That would be the carrot, boys.”
They wiped their faces and looked solemn. “We solemnly swear not to ruin Eurus’ day,” Wills said. Harry nodded along.
Wanda looked back. “You said nothing about mine or your fathers’ days, lads.”
A silent conversation between the boys, accompanied by increasing giggles from Eurus, alerted their parents to the potential for mischief later, but as that remained a perpetual danger, Tim and Wanda elected to ignore it.
The silent-but-obvious conversation continued until the family reached the lot next to King’s Cross, when the boys competed to help Eurus with her trunk and drag it into the station, their parents close behind them. They were met at the entrance to the platform by Sirius, who’d brought a gift for Eurus.
“This way,” Sirius said, after greetings were exchanged. “This gift is best given away from prying eyes.”
He led the way through the brick wall to Platform 9 ¾, then to an open spot about half way down the train, before withdrawing his hand from his pocket to reveal a fluffy, gray-and-white kitten with a rather squashed nose.
“This wee lassie needs a name,” Sirius said, holding her out to Eurus. “I know a familiar is a personal thing, so if she doesn’t suit, I’ll take her home with me. She’s half-Kneazle, so she should be very smart, and it seems to me she’d make a good friend for you.”
Eurus took the small kitten with shining eyes, her throat closing up. She looked up at Sirius with a wide, wide smile, that he returned.
Tim cleared his throat. “It looks like a gift well-appreciated,”
Eurus nodded vigorously, cuddling the kitten close. She opened her mouth and closed it a few times before managing to whisper, “Rain. Her name is Rain. Thank you so much, Siri!”
“You are quite welcome, Russie.” Sirius leaned forward to kiss her forehead. “Think good thoughts, learn great things, help me prank the miscreants when you get back for the holidays.”
She giggled, and her voice was stronger as she said, “I will!”
The train ride passed quietly, with Eurus cuddling Rain and reading her new book. She shared her compartment with three other like-minded quiet people, which she genuinely appreciated. They exchanged pleasantries and bits of lunch when appropriate, but otherwise, her companions–all just a bit older, and wearing silver and blue accessories–left her to her reading with faint smiles.
As she left the train at Hogsmeade, Eurus saw Hagrid, whom she’d met before, leading the first years toward the boats for a trip across the lake. While Eurus had seen Hogwarts many times–Mummy and Auntie Min often took tea together in the summer–she’d never quite seen it from this perspective.
As Hogwarts lit up the night sky, Eurus smiled, feeling warm and happy.
It seemed like no time passed at all before she sat on a large stool in front of the entire Great Hall, and felt the Sorting Hat on her head.
“Ah, such brilliance here,” the Hat whispered into her head. “And such a long journey to get here already, you brave, strong girl. Where to put you? Such bravery could be rewarded with Gryffindor, Miss Holmes. But such a fine mind! Rowena Ravenclaw herself would have loved having you in her house.”
“Let my brothers be brash and brave, Hat,” Eurus whispered back. “I want to study, and learn, and grow.”
“Then let it be RAVENCLAW!” The hat shouted at the last, and her new housemates cheered as she took off the hat, and joined them.
Because of the ways their birthdays fell, Wills, at twenty months younger than Eurus, ended up ahead of Harry by a year and behind Eurus by two in Hogwarts. As his welcome letter was dropped in his breakfast plate two weeks before Harry’s tenth birthday, Wills seized it with a cackle.
“Mummy! Got my letter!” Wills shouted as he tore open the seal to see the official notice of his acceptance into Hogwarts.
As the heir to Sherlock Holmes, Wills, of course, had had his wand since he was four. He’d also had access to the wealth of knowledge left him by Sherlock in the hat, though he’d rarely used it.
Tim and Wanda maintained strict control of the deerstalker, and Wills knew they planned to allow its use only as needed until Wills himself was of age.
Something about letting him grow into his own person first? Whatever.
While not quite at Mycroft’s calibre of genius, given the latter’s eidetic memory, Wills himself had a substantially high IQ and talents for chemistry and the sciences, as well as a grasp of logic and keen observational skills that could not be measured. He, too, played the violin, though he was not a prodigy, like Eurus.
In short, Wills was good at all sorts of things, but his siblings just edged him out in their chosen areas.
If it hadn’t been for Harry, Wills might have let his disgruntlement with that state of affairs lead him down some very dark roads.
As it was, Harry kept him grounded. His little brother needed Wills to be a steady influence, partner-in-mischief, and occasional tutor. Harry’s status as the Duke of Gryffindor and the future regent of magical Britain–kept under wraps for the most part–meant he needed a highly specialized non-magical education as well as his magical training, and Wills was best placed to assist Harry in his studies.
It also gave Wills something else to do. Something beyond blowing things up.
Though blowing things up made his day. In so, so many ways.
Wills made a mental note to schedule time at The Marauders’ Den with Sirius soon.
“So a trip to Diagon needs planning, then?” Wanda queried as she brought more bacon to the table and set it in front of Harry, who promptly piled most of it on his toast for a sandwich.
“Yes, please,” Wills said. “I’ve got my wand already. But I’ll need the uniforms, the trunk, and the other stuff.”
“Can I go, too?” Harry asked.
Wills wrinkled his nose. “You know how people get when you show up on Diagon, Harry. Are you sure you want to put yourself through that?”
Harry wrinkled his nose, too. “Yeah, I know. Maybe we could get Sirius to do a color charm on my hair or something?”
Wanda set down the letter, which she’d picked up from her second son, and looked at the pair of them. “We could do that. Let’s send Sirius an owl and see if he’s able to join us on Saturday. I’ll release your wand to your care at that time, too, Wills. I’d like to see if Ollivander could tell us what it’s made of.”
“Certainly,” Wills said. “I’d like to know, too.”
“That’s settled, then.” Wanda rose. “I’ll go and send that owl. I believe you two are working on magical history this morning?”
“Right,” Wills said, and he shoved the last of his bacon sandwich in his mouth, Harry following suit. “‘Ot ‘oo et oo Arc’s.”
“Mouth closed at the table, Wills,” Wanda said absently, already composing the note that would find its way to Sirius’ house in Kensington. “And Arcturus is expecting you in ten minutes, so I’d expect to see you leave shortly.”
Eurus wandered into the kitchen, Rain perched on her shoulder. The teen seemed sleepy, but Wanda wasn’t worried, what with that perpetual state of not-enough-sleep that seemed to belong exclusively to teens. “What’s for breakfast, Mummy?” Eurus yawned through her question.
“Bacon sandwiches,” Wanda said, pointing to the table. “If Harry’s left you any.”
Harry nodded, getting up from the table. “Half a plate, ‘Rus. Plus the good toast.”
“Thanks, Harry,” she said, settling herself down. “Where’s Myc?”
“Off with your father already,” Wanda replied, sealing her note. “They’ve got some pet project for the summer.”
“Right,” Eurus said, piling bacon on toast. “I’ve got practice this afternoon, Mummy. I’ll be with Ms. Frakes from 1ish, on.”
“When is the concert again, darling?”
“Oh, it’s just the first bit with the London Symphony Orchestra,” Eurus said. “I’m the guest soloist for the Sunday series in two weeks. I’m just working it out today, and I’ll be practicing with the Orchestra next week.”
“Make sure to get a schedule on the bulletin board for me, love,” Wanda reminded her. “We’ll get you where you need to go, but we need to know that you need to get there.”
Eurus grinned. “Of course, Mummy. I’ll write it up after breakfast.”
“Bye, Mummy!” Wills shouted from the parlor, with Harry echoing him as the pair dissolved, the portkey to Blackmoor Castle obviously in use.
Wanda wandered to the backyard to get their owl, Wolfgang, and Eurus sleepily finished her sandwiches.
Diagon Alley on Saturday seemed just as crowded as it always was. Harry, disguised with blond hair and blue eyes, wandered the shops with Sirius while Wills and Wanda followed the same route: Ollivanders, Malkins, the trunk shop, books, and general supplies.
Ollivander, who popped out when Wanda and Wills stepped into his shop, stopped short when he saw what Wills already had in his hand.
“Oh, my,” Ollivander said. “What have we here?”
“My wand,” Wills said. “It was left to me specifically by my great-grandfather.” He and Wanda had agreed privately to keep his reincarnation and status as Sherlock Holmes’ heir quiet. “We wondered if perhaps you could tell us about it.”
Ollivander gently took the wand from Wills. “This wand is walnut, 11 ½ inches, flexible, with a dragon heartstring core. Oh, you Holmes and your dragon heartstring.”
Wills grinned. “Neat, right?”
“This wand belonged to my father’s very great friend, Sherlock Holmes, if I’m not much mistaken,” Ollivander murmured. “I met him once, you know, when I was very small. He seemed so very large to me.”
Wanda cleared her throat. “Is it safe for him to use?”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Ollivander said, handing the wand back to Wills. “If this wand chose young Mr. Holmes here, it clearly knows what it’s about. I look forward to seeing what you do with this, young man.”
Wills grinned, tossed his dark curls back out of his eyes, and winked. “As do I.”
September 1, 1990
Tim required a van for the trip to King’s Cross this year, as Mycroft was available to go along. Transporting two trunks and assorted school paraphernalia also meant a need for more space.
Eurus curled up in the very back seat with Mycroft, who was attempting to get Rain to jump up on demand, while Wills and Harry took spots in the middle seats.
Harry seemed glum, but with his companion heading to school, that was to be expected.
“I wish I could go,” Harry said. “I know I have to wait until next year, but I’m going to be bored without you, Wills.”
Wills shrugged. “Just make sure to go and visit Sirius often,” he advised. “He’ll help keep you from being too bored.”
“And, don’t forget, you’ll have special tutoring in magical law and organization this year with Arc,” Tim said, glancing in the mirror to make eye contact with his young ward. “You’ll be busy enough. And Wills and Eurus will both be back at the holidays.”
Harry frowned. “I just don’t really want to be at home alone.”
Tim and Wanda looked at each other, and Wanda glanced back. “I suppose, then, it’s time to tell you of the plan for you pick your familiar early.”
Harry perked up. “Really?”
Wanda smiled. “Yes. Sirius has asked to bring you to the pet store on Diagon this week to help you find the right pet.”
“What about me, Mummy?” Wills asked.
“Oh, he’s bringing yours,” Wanda assured him, a twinkle in her eye. “Apparently, the beast nearly asked for you by name.”
“What?” Wills asked. “How is that possible?”
“I’m sure, if you think about it, you’ll figure it out,” Wanda said, and ignored the spate of questioning that followed with the skill of one who’d spent a great deal of time helping college freshmen learn problem-solving.
The interesting question of what Wills’ familiar might be occupied the foursome right up until they got to King’s Cross. Mycroft took Eurus’ trunk for her, while she carried Rain and her carrier. Wills hauled his own trunk, and Harry kept up a steady stream of speculation as they approached the barrier to Platform 9 ¾. They passed through, and met Sirius on the other side.
A pug puppy rested in a carrier on the floor next to him, his tongue hanging out.
“Who’s this, then?” Wills asked, excitedly.
“This young lad told me he wanted to come home and befriend a youngling,” Sirius said, laughing as Wills held his hand out for a sniff. “I already cleared it with the school, as a dog isn’t exactly on the approved pets list.”
“What do you mean, he told you?”
“I met him in my animagus form,” Sirius explained. “I’d gone for a run in the dog park near my place in London, just after I’d been with you. He was clear that your scent was for him. I transformed back, talked to his owner–thankfully, she was open to giving away another puppy from his litter. So here he is. He’s been answering to Jack.”
“Has he been out?”
“Yes, I just took him for walkies before we got here,” Sirius said. “And I’ve included a self-cleaning kennel carrier. It’s lined with newspapers at the back, bigger on the inside than on the outside, and ready for use at Hogwarts. I’ve been kennel training him for you.”
“Jack,” Wills said, reaching through the mesh front to rub his ears. “It’s great to meet you.”
The train ride was boring except for a meeting between Wills and a pair of ginger-haired twins in the corridor that culminated with plans to prank their older siblings.
“Percy’s a bit of a stick-in-the-mud,” Wills’ new friend, Fred Weasley, said, “so we’re honor bound to stir him up a bit.” His twin, George, nodded vigorously.
“Well, Eurus isn’t so much a stick as a boulder,” Wills admitted. “Nothing flaps her. And when it does, it’s best to lie low until she works it out of her system. I wouldn’t cross that line on purpose, lads. But she’s a good sport, too.”
They passed the time discussing the varied pranks they’d pulled over the years, and the pair of second-years introduced Wills to their friends Lee Jordan, who was with them in Gryffindor, and Adrian Pucey, who was in Slytherin House.
“Is it easy to make friends in other houses, then, if you’re sorted one way?” Wills asked.
“Oh, yeah,” George said. “I mean, I guess people used to take House rivalry pretty far? But McGonagall won’t let us get away with too much. Mainly, it’s a Quidditch thing at this point.”
That, Wills, understood, having had a fair few arguments about Quidditch with Harry and Sirius.
When they arrived at Hogsmeade, the twins and their fellows waved goodbye to Wills and sent him off with the other first years to Hagrid, who conducted them across the lake. Wills took in everything as he and his cohort were led inside Hogwarts for the first time.
He marched in with his fellows and stood patiently in the Great Hall, until finally, he heard,“William Sherlock Scott Holmes!”
He sat on the stool, suffered the Sorting Hat to be placed on his head, and waited.
“Where to put you …” The hat whispered in his ear. “Brave, yes, cunning, absolutely. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! And loyal, oh dear.”
Wills rolled his eyes. “Anywhere but Ravenclaw, hat. I do not wish to suffer my sister’s presence for longer than I must.”
“Well, then, better be, SLYTHERIN.” The last was shouted, and Eurus could be heard to say, “Of course he is.”
“Finally!” Harry yelled, voice full of righteousness. “My letter!”
All three of his elder cousins looked at him. “Right, yes,” Mycroft said. “Guess it’s to Diagon Alley this week for you.”
“Ollivanders, Malkins, the trunk shop…” Eurus trailed off. “Mummy, may I be excused from the Diagon trip? I only need books and supplies.”
Wanda set another tray of scones on the table. “Leave me your list, yes. Wills, are you going?”
“Of course!” Wills said. “I need to ensure my baby brother has everything he needs.”
Harry scowled. Fred and George Weasley were a menace to brothers everywhere, he thought, and were bad influences on his partner-in-mischief.
Mycroft smirked. “I think I’ll come along this time,” he said. “Keep the riff-raff away. You can hardly go to Diagon as someone else. Everyone will be expecting to see you this year.”
Harry shrunk down in his chair. He’d forgotten that part.
“Are you going into the office today, Myc?” Wanda asked, adding more fruit to the bowl.
“Yes, actually. Want to come along, Harry? Your office is looking spiffy,” Mycroft teased.
Harry shrunk down further. “I’d rather not. It’s supposed to be excellent Quidditch weather today.”
“Well, your office will be there tomorrow, too, I assume,” Mycroft said, and grinned widely.
“You’re a terrible big brother,” Harry said stiffly.
“Yes, yes, I am,” Mycroft said. “Reminding you of your peer obligations on perfect day. Terrible of me.”
Wanda sighed. “Mycroft, be nice. Harry is not required to attend to any peer obligations this summer, short of any sort of government collapse, as you well know. And it is a perfect day. Wills, Harry, why don’t you contact Sirius and head to Blackmoor for some flying?”
“Thanks, Mum!” “Thanks, Auntie Wanda!”
“And let him know we’re heading to Diagon on Saturday, as usual.”
With general assent, the youngest boys headed out to take their portkey to Blackmoor, and Wanda turned a gimlet eye on Mycroft.
“Quite enough, Mycroft,” Wanda said. “You know that he’s not sold on his status, and that the Queen will not force him to take his place as magical regent. He may well choose a different career at this juncture.”
“And you know, Mummy, that Harry will do nothing of the sort,” Mycroft said, smiling softly. “He’s got quite an aptitude for leadership, a strong head on his shoulders, and a desire to help others that will take him quite far in this field. He’s going to make a fine regent, because he will want to be. He excels in his politics and history lessons. He’s simply almost 11, and more interested in flying.”
“Which is as it should be,” Wanda said firmly. “I’ve agreed to all the lessons, but we will allow him to enjoy his childhood while we can.”
“Of course, Mummy,” Mycroft said, and rose. “Father’s already at the office, but I’ll be on my way now, too. Have a good day!’ He turned a heel and disappeared with a crack.
Wanda looked at Eurus. “Love, how do you feel about a girl spa day?”
Eurus set down her tea. “Amenable. Let’s go, Mummy.”
Ollivander looked surprised to see Harry Potter in the midst of a crowd of Holmeses, but he took the boy’s appearance in stride.
“Well, Mr. Potter!” Ollivander strode forward, measuring tape in hand. “How nice to meet you!” He looked around at the Holmes brothers and their mother. “And how do you come to be with this fine company?”
Harry looked up, momentarily nonplussed, until he remembered that his guardianship remained a closely guarded state secret in the magical world. “Ah,” he said. “Well, these are my cousins, Mr. Ollivander. Auntie Wanda and my mother shared a grandmother.”
“I see,” Ollivander said, and indeed, he did see.
The Holmes name had faded under the bloodline curse, but their relationship to the Boy-Who-Lived clearly had facilitated their return to magic, and the magical world.
“Mrs. Holmes?” Ollivander asked. “An Evans, then?”
“Yes, actually, though our great-grandmother was a Ross,” Wanda allowed. “As you’ve surmised, my husband descends from Mycroft Holmes and Elspeth Lestrange.”
“Quite distinguished families, all,” Ollivander said. “And here we have a Potter with close ties to the Ross and Black families.” He waved a hand at the measuring tape, which started its work of showing Ollivander character traits that might be useful in determining a wand. “Well, anything goes with this one, eh? Let’s get started.”
It seemed to Harry, later, that he’d tried every wand in the shop before he felt the warm tingling and sparks that signified he’d found his wand.
“Phoenix feather and holly,” Ollivander murmured. “And a brother wand to Tom Riddle’s.”
Mycroft looked up alertly. “Pardon?”
Ollivander looked up to see Mycroft’s razor stare, and said, “Ah.”
“Would you mind explaining that, Mr. Ollivander?” Mycroft said politely.
“The phoenix whose feather resides in this wand gave just one other feather, which I used to make the wand that chose Tom Marvolo Riddle,” Ollivander said. “That the other chose young Mr. Potter here is notable, if not necessarily useful, given that Mr. Riddle is no longer among us.”
“I see,” Mycroft said.
Harry shuddered slightly. He wasn’t sure he liked Mr. Ollivander. But that information was no doubt useful, and he could tell, by looking at Mycroft, that it was significant.
At dinner that night, Tim waited for his family to clear their plates before he brought up the issue that had plagued Harry’s thoughts since he’d left Ollivander’s shop.
“Mycroft tells me, Harry, that your wand is the brother to Tom Riddle’s,” Tim said calmly. “I think it’s time to share with you the whole of your story, as we know it, so that you’ll understand a bit about choices, and what they mean to you and your future.”
Harry sat up importantly, and looked to the man who’d taken on the responsibility of being his father, even though he wasn’t required to. “Alright, sir.”
And so, Tim began to tell the story of the orphaned Tom Riddle, who had been groomed by Albus Dumbledore Grindelwald to become a Dark Lord, a murderer, and a man who condemned his own soul through ritual murder.
“I want to be clear, here, Harry, that when Tom Riddle’s wand chose him, Tom was as innocent as you are, with great potential to cause great harm, or great joy. Albus chose him to groom for the role of Dark Lord because Tom also had a terrible start to his life, and he had come to know, as we do now, that, such people must work harder than others to maintain their ability to be good, and do good things,” Tim said. “He must have seemed like the perfect candidate. And, in fact, he was. Riddle caused great harm, and a prophecy arose that told of the only person who would have the power to vanquish him, one born as the seventh month died in the year in which it was told.
“It could have been anyone, really, but Albus Dumbledore decided it meant one of two babies born at the end of July: you, or your friend, Neville Longbottom. He let that opinion be known, and Tom Riddle decided it meant you, setting in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy. He came to your home in Godric’s Hollow, murdered your parents, tried to murder you, and gave you that scar. That scar, which contained a fragment of Riddle’s soul, and which we rid you of when you were five.
“Albus planned for you to be raised by your Aunt Petunia and her husband, Vernon Dursley, both of whom are known for being less than tolerant of anything, or anyone, different from them. He planned to groom you, as he had Tom Riddle. But Petunia loved you, and knew herself and her husband well enough to know that you would not be best served in their care. And she called Wanda.
“We took you in, Harry, because we loved your mother, and because no child should live in a home without love. The moment we saw you, we fell in love with you, and you became our child. Our youngest child, to round out our family.
“Many actions and decisions rippled out from that decision, Harry, but the biggest thing you must know, is that you are loved.”
Harry’s eyes were wet, as were Wanda’s. Mycroft and Wills moved to grip Harry’s shoulders tightly, while Eurus reached under the table to take Harry’s hand.
Tim continued, gently, “And you have fulfilled the prophecy, Harry. You had the power to vanquish him. And the soul he left in your scar was the key to our finding the rest of him. There’s just one piece left to find, and we’ve been working on your behalf to take care of that bit.
“You may or may not face the remaining bit of Riddle, Harry, but your very existence facilitated the end of the harm he could cause, and for that reason, I believe the prophecy to be fulfilled.”
Harry cleared his throat. “Could I be there when he’s gone for good?”
Tim’s eyes flicked to Wanda, then to Mycroft. He looked back at Harry. “If it’s safe for you to be present, then yes.”
Harry nodded, and leaned into his brothers and sister.
September 1, 1991
By this point, Harry had been to Hogwarts many times, though never across the lake in a boat. He sat with Ron Weasley, the younger brother to Fred and George; Hermione Granger, a bright girl with a memory to rival Mycroft’s; and his friend Neville Longbottom, who’d been a regular playmate when he was younger.
“My sisters will probably be coming in two years,” Neville said glumly. “But at least I get a little time off from the pestering.”
“Twins?” Hermione asked, curious.
“Triplets,” Neville said.
Hermione’s mouth made a faint, “Oh,” while Harry buried his smile behind the noble mask Mycroft had been coaching him to use.
They marched into the Great Hall in pairs, and Harry smiled to see the floating candles. He ran into a few other former playmates, shaking hands with Heir Malfoy and Anthony Goldstein when he saw them, but remained quiet, for the most part, until his name was called.
“Harry James Potter!”
He walked forward, and confidently sat on the stool. As the Duke of Gryffindor, he thought it highly unlikely that he’d be placed anywhere but Gryffindor, but needs must. Hermione and Neville had already made it into Gryffindor house, so he’d have friendly company, anyway.
The Hat perched on his head.
“Of course, you know, Your Grace, that I can really only place you in your own house?”
“I do know, Hat,” Harry whispered back. “But my sister and my brother are in other houses. It’ll be fine.”
“Know that your cunning, intelligence, and loyalty would have made you a fit for any of the houses, Your Grace.”
“Thank you, Hat.”
Easter Break, March, 1992
Tim looked on calmly as the last of the soul containers known as Horcruxes was destroyed in front of him.
“That’s the last,” a grim Sirius Black commented. “All that’s left is whatever piece of his soul was flying around in the first place.”
Harry, who, as Tim promised, was present, looked up. “One more? What will happen now?”
“If our research is correct,” Tim said quietly, “having no anchor, the remaining spirit should cross over to the other side on its own, or become no more than a ghost here. A malevolent ghost, to be sure, but if we can locate it, we can exorcise it.”
“Reports put him in Albania, Father,” Mycroft said. At 19, he’d completed all his formal education and now worked exclusively for his father in the Queen’s service. His eidetic memory, a boon to service, also functioned as a security nightmare. In the wrong hands, Mycroft could be used grievously.
So his father ensured he was trained. Thoroughly. In magic, combat, self-defense, tactics… in short, Mycroft lived simultaneously as the Queen’s best resource and her best asset.
Though he did have a distaste for field work.
Tim looked at Sirius and Mycroft. “Go, then. Let me know what you find. You have your mandate from the Queen.” He paused. “Take James.”
His blond-haired, blue-eyed former driver melted out of the shadows and into the light. “Sir?”
“They might need a double-oh,” Tim said simply.
James Bond nodded sharply, and the trio left.
Tim and Harry portkeyed home, to Wanda, Wills, and Eurus.
The Albanian forest lay still and quiet as Mycroft, Sirius, and James wandered through to the spot the Grey Lady had identified as the site of her demise.
Mycroft’s keen eyes noted signs of habitation nearby, and he pointed them out to Sirius. “Marks here? A snake, do you think?”
“A rather large one, I’d say,” Sirius said. “Recent.” The trio worked their way closer, with Mycroft stopping on occasion to cast revealing spells, and a special spell he’d learned via Wills’ hat to reconstruct a crime scene.
“Just there!” Mycroft yelled as an enormous snake with red eyes struck from the bushes.
James took its head off with one clean swipe of the machete he’d been using to break down foliage.
Sirius sat hard on the ground, looking at the corpse. “Was that?”
Mycroft cast the spell again. “Yes. This snake was possessed by Tom Riddle. See his magical signature, there? But whatever soul was there; it’s gone.”
“Burn it,” James suggested. “Be very sure.”
Mycroft nodded, conjured a fireproof box, and levitated the snake into it. Sirius cast two wards to clear the ground and keep the fire from spreading, and Mycroft cast Fiendfyre.
It burned to ashes.
The reigning British monarch always placed a Holmes at his or her left hand, but the position remained shrouded in secrecy. Rarely, someone traced a Holmes back to the monarch’s service. Tracing them back to the magical world? Even more rare.
So it came as no surprise, to Tim, at least, that the magical world never knew of the Holmes’ role in the incarceration of Albus Dumbledore Grindelwald, or the final death of Tom Marvolo Riddle, or the placement of Harry Potter as regent to magical Britain.
When, in later years, someone asked, “Whatever became of Albus Dumbledore?” Tim would smile gently, and say nothing. When his second son took to calling himself “Sherlock,” completed degrees in chemistry and forensic chemistry, and talked about becoming a consulting detective, Tim quirked a grin and helped him set up his offices at 221B Baker Street. He and Wanda attended Eurus’ violin concerts with pride, and when he retired, leaving his office to Mycroft, Tim made himself available to advise the new Duke of Gryffindor in his role as appointed regent of the magical world, while Wanda went back to her research.
Time marched on, and magical and non-magical alike virtually forgot the Grindelwalds, the threat of Tom Riddle, and the darkness left behind when a young Harry Potter had been left on his aunt Petunia’s doorstep.
In their blooming age of magic, they’d quite forgotten The Holmes Factor.