The discovery of his mother’s diary had sent the world of one Harry James Potter reeling. That his mother had even kept a diary had not been something the young man had even considered; that she had kept a series of them from the time she had learned to write was even more confounding. But it was one surprise that he was more than happy to have thrust upon him.
Those first diaries were filled with childish drawings and the hopes and dreams of a child who knew nothing of the wizarding world - dreams of being first a veterinarian and later a teacher.
Pleasant surprises. Like learning that his aunt had not always been afraid or resentful of magic - that there had been a time when she had found her sister’s tales of magic and the wizarding world to be enthralling. A time when she had encouraged Lily Evans to pursue her charms work beyond the school’s curriculum, when she had been the elder sister who was supportive of her younger sister’s dreams and ambitions.
Tales of his father’s antics in school, of the way he had won the heart of Lily Evans over years of boyish charm and slowly unfolding good looks. The happy, blushing bride writing about her wedding the day after.
And then the not so pleasant surprises. The young woman who had fallen out of favor with the family of her husband after only a few short months. The sleepless nights waiting up for James, only to have him stumble in after a night of drinking with Sirius and a few of their auror friends. The young wife who was so certain that he would come ‘round, if only she gave him time, gave him the space to grow and have his moments with the boys.
The nights he would come home smelling of perfume cheaper than the firewhiskey he imbibed. The stories she only half heard from the aurors when she would bring him his lunch - anything to get a few moments with a sober James.
Meeting Sherlock Holmes. Befriending him - seeing the same loneliness in him that existed in her, even if he would have denied it with his last breath. Conversations over tea as he became bored with his university work, far too simple for a brilliant mind like his. Never mind that he was a muggle - she certainly didn’t mind. He listened when she talked, challenged her to rediscover her old curiosity.
And then it wasn’t just James stumbling home after a few too many drinks - it was Lily, too. Harry blushed at the thought of that - his sweet, red-haired mother drinking, enticing a man who was not his father to dance with her. Spending nights in another man’s room, even if they were strictly platonic friends.
Drinking too much, not remembering the events of a night, and then two, and then three. But knowing that she had been safe - after all, she was with Sherlock, a man who had insisted on their first meeting that he was not interested in any sort of a sexual relationship. He didn’t understand love, he had insisted. And he certainly had no interest in lust.
Discovering that she was pregnant. Not understanding - she hadn’t been with James in months. Hadn’t been with anybody. Questioning Sherlock, having him admit that he remembered something along those lines happening once, several weeks ago when they had drunk too much. Admitting that he had been high on other substances, as well.
Harry’s mind couldn’t quite grasp the implications of that at first. A first child, before him - that had to be it. She had obviously terminated the pregnancy, he told himself. She had reconciled with James - with his father - before he had been born.
But the dates didn’t fit. The date that this child have been coneived - it matched too neatly with what he might imagine his own conception date had been. This child would have been born too near to his own birthday.
Tearfully recounted arguments with James, a decision to leave. Even if Sherlock would not claim the child as his own - she dared not even ask, she admitted to the diary - she could not force her husband to claim a child that was not his.
Several blank pages later, Harry despaired of discovering the truth. Only to come upon his mother’s neat handwriting once again, writing about her happiness at finding herself pregnant with James’ child. Her confusion, as to why she had not written in this diary before. Her words were a confused jumble Harry had encountered before, though normally they were spoken and not written.
The words of one who had endured a memory charm.
. . .
It took Harry only three days to track down the only Sherlock Holmes who had ever attended a university in the London area. The only Sherlock Homes he could find anywhere on the internet.
THe man’s website he completely ignored; at first glance he could already tell that it held nothing in the way of personal information. And he couldn’t care less about the different types of tobacco ash.
Crime scene reports. Mentions of Sherlock Holmes in the media. Consulting Detective - lived in a flat with another man who may or may not have been his lover. But all of that was speculation from the media - and Harry had enough of that to last him a lifetime.
But those same media reports held something that Harry latched onto like a starving man at a banquet hall. Pictures. So many pictures. Pictures of Sherlock leaving his flat in London clad in nothing but a towel. Sherlock with his flat mate; a smaller man with dirty blonde hair that somehow reminded Harry of Remus, never mind that the man was not a werewolf and neither did he sport a mustache.
The looked alike. Harry hadn’t been expecting that, somehow. Had expected that whoever had placed the memory charm on his mother had done something - some complicated combination of charms and potionwork. In retrospect, he should have known that his mother would fall for a man who resembled her husband.
He looked more like Sherlock Holmes than he ever had James Potter. The same jaw line, the same cheek bones, the same shape to their eyes. He got his eye color from his mother - that could not be disputed. But nearly everything else really had come from his father - and for once in his life, he could see it.
William Scott Sherlock Holmes. That was his full name, and Harry had little doubt that he was the same man his mother had mentioned in her diary. Still, there was the chance - however slight it might be - that he had the wrong man. So he brought the journal along with him that warm day in July, buried in a backpack along with a change of clothes and the key to his gringotts vault.
The day he went to confront his father.