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Title: Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Sherlock - 4/4
Rating: PG
Pairing: Sherlock/John friendship
Word Count: 4,376
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to Auntie Beeb and Uncle Moff; Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world.
Crossover: Harry Potter
Warnings: none
Thanks: Many million thanks to my brilliant beta/Brit-pickers, [info]bethia, [info]ilovewales, and [info]katead - all lingering mistakes are just me being awkward.
Summary: The day after John recovers from Molly's de-aging potion, Sherlock decides to repeat the experiment on himself. Things do not go quite as planned.

Notes: This story is a continuation of sorts to [info]alice_day's marvellous fic When the Bough Breaks, which I liked so much that my muse decided I had to write a sequel.

Previous chapters here, here and here.




The next morning was blissfully uneventful. John bathed and breakfasted his flatmate, setting out the toys and books Mycroft had brought. Then he sat down at the computer, going over some patient files for Sarah. If he couldn't go in to the clinic, then he would at least help out however he could.

About 10 am, their buzzer rang. Molly beamed as John opened the door.

"Finished!" She gushed, holding up a phial of clear purple liquid. "The ouroborous scales were just the right aridity; they bonded with the yew sap just like that!" She snapped her fingers.

"Oh. Great! That's marvellous." John felt a rush of excitement…and, he was surprised to discover, just a twinge of disappointment. He looked over at Sherlock. The little boy was at the kitchen table, solving one of his jigsaw puzzles without the aid of a picture. When Molly came in he looked up expectantly. In a few moments that little face would be gone forever, replaced by its adult counterpart. John wished Molly had phoned first. He was just starting to get the hang of this babysitting thing.

"So! Something to mix it in? Milk, juice?"

"Fridge," John instructed, hopping quickly up the stairs to his bedroom. He grabbed something out of his desk drawer and descended again. "His sippy cup's over there. Won't be a mo'."

Gently, he lifted Sherlock up onto his hip for the last time. "Hey, mate. You ready for this?" The baby's cool stare didn't change. "Yeah, well I'm not. You're gonna hate me for this, but after the past three days, I think I've earned a memento."

He sat Sherlock down on the sofa. The light from the window backlit his soft downy curls, making them glow even whiter than usual.

John held up the camera he'd taken from his desk. "Perfect. And…cheese!"



The flash went. The baby blinked. John pocketed the camera and lifted Sherlock back down to the floor again. The little boy spotted Molly stirring three drops of the potion into his sippy cup, and immediately put his arms up for it.

"Oops! Clothes..." John fetched his flatmate's dressing gown and laid it on the back of the sofa. The garment seemed like an ancient relic…how long ago had John last seen it? How long since he'd seen it being worn? Then he herded Sherlock away from Molly, trying to keep him from attacking her knees for the sippy cup full of potioned formula.

"Slow down there, mate. Don't want to spoil the nice gear Mrs. Hudson lent us." He grasped the hem of the top Sherlock was wearing…then glanced up at Molly. "Er…" He quickly wrangled Sherlock back behind the sofa, to afford him some small measure of privacy when he changed back to normal. Then he removed the baby clothes and nappy, reaching over the sofa for the sippy cup. "Antidote?"

Molly handed it over, and John delivered it to his eagerly reaching flatmate. The little detective spat out the dummy and gulped the formula, and John gave a rueful smile…memorising the baby face, the little white curls, the snubby little button nose…then sighed. He walked back around the sofa to face Molly.

"So it'll definitely work this time. You're sure?"

"Yes. Definitely. Tested it on one of the lab mice first; it worked a treat!" John found himself a little unnerved that anyone could seem so delighted by animal experiments. No wonder she had a bit of a thing for Sherlock.

"Okay then. New rule: after this, no more magic. Our lives are strange enough on their own, thank you very much."

Molly nodded. "No more magic. Witch's honour."

John was on the point of extracting her absolute vow of secrecy on the matter when he heard a noise and looked down. Sherlock Holmes was not a modest man - he sometimes walked around the flat starkers for hours on end, probably just to annoy John - and neither was he a modest baby. A curly little head appeared at the arm of the sofa as naked baby Sherlock toddled around to its side, holding up his empty sippy cup for John to take away.

"Oh. Right. Forgot. Sorry mate - "

John reached down to take the cup…then jumped back again as Sherlock let out a violent sneeze. He sneezed again, falling forward onto his little hands with the force of it.

The potion was kicking in.

John and Molly stood frozen to the spot, watching in rapt fascination. When John's sister Harry was twelve years old she'd gotten a Growing-Up Cindy doll for Christmas. You cranked the doll's left arm forwards and its torso ratcheted up about an inch, two rubbery lumps appearing in the upper body to simulate breasts: instant puberty. Looking back, John questioned the tastefulness of adults marketing such a thing for children - he and Harry had fought like wildcats over that doll; probably, he now realised, for exactly the same reasons - but what was happening on the floor of 221b just now seemed like an exact real-life replica of it.

Sherlock's entire body trembled. Slowly…gradually…the chubby little limbs began to elongate. Soft baby fat became long, sinewy muscles. The little pot belly stretched into a slender, rangy torso, dark hair sprouting in the usual places. The downy baby curls darkened from white to blond to sandy to brown, and then to a sleek sable black. Finally, with a bone-jolting shudder, Sherlock was still.

Gingerly, he lifted his head. He pushed himself up with his hands…and abruptly lost his balance, nearly toppling onto his side. John was forcibly reminded of a documentary he'd seen on newborn baby giraffes. At last Sherlock got the hang of his own limbs again and pushed up onto his hands and knees, lifting one arm and flexing his own fingers as if they were a miracle of modern engineering.

"Oh thank God," he croaked. "Motor skills." He planted a thankful kiss on one of his own knuckles, then got unsteadily to his feet with the aid of the sofa arm.

"Wow," John couldn't help an admiring grin. "You were right, Molly, it worked a treat…Molly?" He glanced over his shoulder. The poor woman was staring openly, mouth gaping, eyes wide. John followed her gaze. Ah…yes. A superior intellect was not the only gift with which Nature had very generously endowed his flatmate.

Sherlock let out an impatient  huff. "Would you like to take a picture, Molly? I'm told they last longer." When Molly didn't answer right away, John realised with growing horror that she had missed the biting sarcasm in his flatmate's voice and was actually considering his offer.

"Thank you," John said quickly, taking Molly by the shoulders and ushering her towards the door. "He means thank you. Potion worked great; thanks very much…"

"…Sherlock, did you leave that dead pigeon on my doorstep this time, or was it just that nasty stray cat agai - oh!" Mrs. Hudson nearly collided with them in the entryway, but not before she'd gotten a proper eyeful of naked detective. "Oh, Sherlock! My eyes!"

"Oh please!" Sherlock scoffed, leaning down to fetch his dressing gown from the sofa. "You were with your husband twelve years, Mrs. Hudson; you've seen much worse."

"Right then, ladies, if that will be all." John herded them firmly out the door just in case that wasn't all, and quickly locked it behind them. Sherlock was tugging his dressing gown shut, tying to yank it closed as though it had done him a personal insult.

"Can't believe that…woman," he snarled, presumably meaning Molly. "Leaving such a dangerous substance here without proper warning…"

"Sherlock?"

"It's beyond irresponsible; it borders on the deliberately malign - "

"Sherlock?"

"Don't know what a menace they're dealing with down at the lab - "

"Sherlock!"

"What?!"

"You dropped something." With an absolute straight face, John held out the dummy he'd retrieved from the floor.

The cold blue eyes narrowed into irritable slits. "Yes, thank you, Doctor," he said, snatching the dummy and banging it down hard on the kitchen counter. He always used John's professional title when he was annoyed with him.

John allowed himself a grin while Sherlock loudly rummaged in the cupboards for the wherewithal to make himself a cuppa. He couldn't help it. Sherlock Holmes was in a fierce mood, cranky and sulky and liable to spew vitriol upon the first entity that crossed his temper.

Everything was perfectly back to normal.

******

"I still can't believe you were so blond as a kid."

"Of course I was. 'Sherlock' means 'fair-haired'; it's why Mother gave me the name. Do open a book now and again, John."

John and Sherlock sat at the kitchen table. John drained his cuppa while Sherlock tucked into his third bowl of cereal. Sherlock sometimes ate kids' cereal during a case, claiming the sugar rush helped him think. But it seemed an especially fitting culinary choice after his most recent adventure. John smiled quietly, wondering what price London CID would give for a picture of Sherlock Holmes snarfing down a bowl of Sugar Puffs.

"Do you remember any of it?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Don't have to. I remember being two the first time around." Which, John noted, was not exactly an answer. "Horrible hateful age; world full of oversized idiots with everything interesting placed up too high." Sherlock swallowed his current spoonful, and after a pause, said, "Anyway. I never meant to be…incapacitated...for so long. You staying here these past few days; taking off work…it was…good."

John looked at his flatmate for a long moment. Then he nodded in acknowledgement of the closest thing to a 'thank you' he was ever likely to get from Sherlock Holmes. "Well, if you ever have kids, just don't expect me to babysit." He took a swig of his tea. "I charge a hundred pounds an hour for nanny service. Twice that if it's a Holmes."

Sherlock almost smiled. As John got up to put the milk back in the fridge, he caught a glimpse of Sherlock from behind, hunched over the table…and was stricken by how similar his posture was to the toddler he’d so recently been. The dressing gown clung to his skinny torso, showing the ridges in his back and almost the outline of his ribs. John remembered the squeals of delight as he wiggled his fingers over those little ribs, Sherlock's odd coughing-monkey giggle ringing out through the room…

"Don't even think about it, John."

He gave a guilty start. "What? I wasn't thinking anything!"

"It won't work. I'm not ticklish anymore."

John snorted. "Bollocks. Everyone is; you've just got to find the right spot."

Sherlock grunted into his cereal.

"Alright. Fine." John said airily, picking up the morning paper and dropping down into his armchair. "Be that way. You've got to sleep sometime."

After that, there was silence for a while. John tried to read the paper, but found himself stealing little glances at his flatmate over the crossword. John was indescribably relieved that Sherlock was back to normal, whole and intact, but still…given his life and his dating habits, the last two days were the closest he would probably ever come to being a father. In spite of everything, he'd rather enjoyed it.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" The cereal spoon clattered in the bowl. "How much longer are you going to keep doing that?"

"Doing what?" John asked, genuinely taken aback.

"Looking at me and seeing a twee little tow-headed toddler. It's revolting."

John smiled, and was about to answer…then he remembered something his father had said when he was about to graduate medical school. "When I see you over them books, Johnny, frowning away like the weight of the world's on your shoulders, I see a wee little lad struggling to tie his shoelaces." John had been annoyed when his father said that. Now he thought he understood, a little.

"I don't know," he said finally. It was the only honest answer.

His flatmate grunted in annoyance. "I knew this would happen. You've gone all broody. Next thing you'll be knitting ickle booties by the fireplace." He looked up sharply. "You didn't do anything else unbelievably soppy, did you? Didn't take any more pictures?"

"No. Just the one."

"Didn't snip off a lock of my hair and put it in a scrapbook?"

"No." Only because he hadn't thought of it, though. John mentally kicked himself…those downy little baby curls had been rather sweet.

"Didn't take notes? Or God forbid, keep a baby book?"

John opened his mouth - then closed it again. "The Care and Feeding of Your Consulting Detective" was technically a blog entry, not a baby book. And besides which he had deleted it. "No," he said finally.

"Good." Sherlock returned to his cereal. A pause fell on the room. Then... "Oh, and John?"

"Yes?"

"'Synthetic' is spelt with a 'y', and there are two "e's" in "differential". Not three."

John's mouth dropped open. London's only consulting detective kept his eyes firmly on his Frosties.

Sherlock had hacked his account. Again. As a baby or an adult, John wasn’t sure; and wasn’t entirely certain he wanted to know.

Oh yes. Everything was very back to normal.

John finally gave in to the wry grin tugging at his mouth.

"You absolute bastard."

The dimples made a smug reappearance on either side of the cereal spoon.

THE END

* Note about the illustration: the picture is a photo manip of three different pics I found on the web, all taken from adverts, and does not depict any one specific person.




Q
EDIT: Now with a bonus epilogue, The Care and Feeding of Your Consulting Detective.
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