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Harry Watson Investigates. G, totally G, totally ridiculous. This is, in its own weird way, a sequel to The dangerous book for boys. An AU set in the Sherlock universe, featuring Harry Watson, age eleven; with cameos from our favorite boy detectives. I barely remember being eleven, but I do remember liking rabbits an awful lot.


John keeps his hands in his pockets, except at streetcorners, where he still sometimes tries to get Harry to hang onto his sleeve as they cross. It's embarrassing. She walks ahead of him a little bit, to discourage that kind of thing.







Harry Watson is eleven years old. She'll be twelve in exactly nine days. She is one hundred and thirty-one centimeters tall. That's thirteen-point-one decimeters. Math is going well for Harry. And so is life in general: last month she was one hundred and twenty-nine, and now she's just taller than Ashley Rees. By a hair. Ashley Rees can take a bite out of that and choke on it.

"Harry," John calls, up the stairs. "We're going to be late!" Harry ignores him and stomps barefoot around the room, looking for her other striped sock. She's got one color in each hand: one red and yellow and the other blue and green. They go up to her knees. They ought to be easy to spot, except there are piles of clothes on the floor and her legos are dumped out in one corner. It's probably hopeless. Harry sighs and puts on the two socks she can actually find, pulls her boots up and clatters down the stairs. John gives her a strange look. "Interesting choice," he says, pointing to her feet. Harry sticks her tongue out at him. "It's alright," he sighs. "Express yourself."

"What's for lunch?" John unfolds the paper bag in his hand and peers down into it.

"Ham and cheese. And strawberry yogurt."

"Yum." She grabs the bag away from him and tucks it possessively under her arm. "You don't have to pick me up today. Dad says he's going to drive me to the library. Did you know that rabbits have twenty-eight teeth?"

"I did not."

"And they can't vomit," adds Harry.

"Wonderful," says John.





They walk to school by the park, Harry swinging her heavy bag as high as her arm can go. John keeps his hands in his pockets, except at streetcorners, where he still sometimes tries to get Harry to hang onto his sleeve as they cross. It's embarrassing. She walks ahead of him a little bit, to discourage that kind of thing.

Sherlock is sitting on a park bench. Harry spots him from the other side of the street, his legs are tucked up on the seat like a bug. Like a big black beetle in a wool coat, staring fixedly and buggily at everybody. He looks up as they get closer, and John walks faster than Harry does. She watches him walk towards Sherlock and watches Sherlock uncurl and stand up. He's so much taller than John, it's ridiculous. Harry feels a warm satisfaction at that, considering how John is taller and older than her and always used to hold it against her in arguments about bedtime and television. Not that he was prone to sitting on her or smothering her in the couch, like Tracey's brother Herbert. No, John was usually fair. Taller and older and fair and serious about everything. Ugh. They're laughing about something now, and not looking at her. Harry gets closer.

"Lucky you jumped when you did-"

"-could have had the decency to turn the engine off-"

"What fun would that be?" John says, and Sherlock smiles one of his John-smiles back. It's the better smile, not the fake shiny one. Harry's seen Sherlock smile at other people in a way that makes him look weird and not at all happy. It bothers her that people don't seem to notice.

"Are you talking about Ducky Ramsey?" Harry asks. John and Sherlock's heads swivel around and they both stare at her. "The boy who was stealing trucks?" They don't say yes or no. "It was in the paper on Tuesday," she says. She looks up at Sherlock. "I saw you circle that bit with highlighter." John cracks up at that, for some reason. And now Sherlock's smiling at her, but it isn't quite the John-smile. Still a good one, though; it goes all the way to his eyes. Harry feels a strange thrill. It's nice to be noticed. And Sherlock notices people really hard, and all at once.

"So I did," He looks back up at John. "Coffee?"

"Yes, please," says John.

The three of them walk together to the gates, and Harry has to keep from skipping a little as they go. She's too old to skip. Except skipping would feel good right now, because there are little lightning bolts humming in her knees and the soles of her feet. If she skipped right now, she'd fly. "Dad's meeting you later? Did he say what time?" John asks again, before he lets her go. She rolls her eyes. "Right, fine. See you." Harry is already halfway across the yard by the time he says you, barreling into Susan and Tracey, but she looks back for a minute to watch John leave.

"What've you got?" Tracey asks. She shakes her own lunchbox suspiciously. Harry smiles, secure, and squeezes the paper bag again.

"Strawberry yogurt."

"Lucky," says Susan.





In class Miss Patel asks them to sit down right away and read to themselves out of their workbooks. That's not normal. Miss Patel's voice is tired and serious, not at all like herself. Harry loves the way Miss Patel laughs, and she loves how often and how easily she can make it happen. That bright, carefree sound of happiness is one of Harry's favorite things. There is something very unpleasant going on. Something has stopped up that laughter, like a storm drain full of dirty leaves. Harry raises her hand.

"Miss Patel?"

"Yes?" Miss Patel stops in front of her desk.

"Is something wrong?" The other children stare at her. "Aren't we supposed to be feeding Charlie and Dave?" There are two hamsters that live in an aquarium on the counter. They're yellow and white, fluffy like baby chicks but a little smellier. Woodchips get stuck in their hair. Harry loves to watch them pick up pieces of apple in their tiny hands and shove them into their mouths like greedy, golden little pigs. Hamsters are great.

"It's alright, Harry. Just concentrate on your reading." Easier said than done. Harry sits and reads her chapter like she's supposed to, a boring story about a girl who wants to bake a cake. Harry's never baked a cake. She's eaten plenty of them. John decorated her birthday cake last year with a terrible picture of a pony, drawn by hand with chocolate icing. As ponies go, it had looked ugly but tasted great. That was true of almost everything John cooked himself. After a while, Harry folds up her arms and rests her head on top of them. It looks like she's sleeping, but she isn't. She's waiting. "Everyone," Miss Patel says at last, when there's been complete silence for almost fifteen minutes. "You can close your readings for a moment. I'd like to talk to you about something." She looks around the room, her gaze settling on the tops of their heads and then shifting away. "It's been fun having Charlie and Dave in class, hasn't it?" There are a few shaky, dutiful agreements.

"Yes," says Harry, loudly. Miss Patel's mouth rises into a half-smile.

"I thought so, too. I am sorry to tell you that Charlie and Dave are missing." Harry can feel her eyes actually widen with surprise. Weird. "They were in their house yesterday, and today they're gone."

"Did you check everywhere?" Harry blurts out, and Miss Patel looks over at her. "Because they can squeeze themselves up really small. Hamsters only weigh-"

"Yes, Harry, thank you. I checked their aquarium and everything inside it, and I checked the room as well." She looks back across the classroom. "I feel very disappointed, having to say this to you. Someone has taken our pets. Someone has decided to take Charlie and Dave. They have been very unkind to the rest of you. I hope that whoever they are, they'll think about what they've done, and they'll bring them back. If they do, I won't be angry. I'll just be very happy to have our friends with us again." She frowns. "And that's all I'm going to say about it. So please, open up your books and finish your reading, quietly."

Harry sits and stares into the top of her desk; her eyes blur the words together on the page. She's already read them, it doesn't matter. She knows how it ends: Nancy gets the eggs and the flour and the butter from the shop, and she bakes a cake and has a party, and everyone arrives on time after all. Harry hates her. Harry thinks about the way Charlie would come to the wall of the aquarium when she tapped it, the way he took almonds from between her fingers. Maybe she will never see him again. Maybe somebody stuffed them into their jacket pockets and took them home. Or worse, maybe they got free in the park- maybe someone dropped them in the park, to see what they'd do. Maybe they've already been eaten by cats or birds. Hamsters hibernate when the temperature drops. Harry imagines them just freezing up on the sidewalk, outdoors, all alone, their tiny hearts going four beats per minute. Harry feels a sharp surge of rage. They're so small. So small, and helpless. Except Dave, who sometimes bites. It's so horribly unfair. For some reason, it makes Harry think of John again. John is always finding the things that Harry loses; her socks and her hair clips and her Spiderman figurines. It's because he's so neat and she's so... not. If she asked him, he could probably find anything. Between him and Sherlock, since Sherlock looks at everything like he's seeing through it. Yes. They could definitely find Charlie and Dave.

The day goes by so slowly, and Harry barely tastes her yogurt at lunchtime, thinking about Charlie and Dave curled up in newspapers, Charlie and Dave accidentally trapped in a garbage bin, Charlie and Dave in a lunchbox hidden under Barrie Bennett's desk at home. Barrie is a prat. But he probably didn't take them, unless it was to eat them. Harry doesn't even pay attention to Susan, who is telling everyone about last night's Skins. Susan has an older sister who is really pretty and watches a lot of television.

After the bell rings, Harry heads for the gate and sees her dad standing by it, already waiting. He stands just like John, or John stands just like him, hands in pockets and back straight. He takes her bag when she skips up to him, and hoists it over his own shoulder.

"Good day?"

"Terrible day," says Harry. He reaches down and brushes her hair back a little, where it's coming loose from her braid. Harry lets him, even though Ashley Rees is probably watching and will make fun of her tomorrow. Harry doesn't care.

"What happened?"

"Nothing," Harry grumbles. "Some stupid person stole our hamsters." She takes his hand, and they walk together towards the parking lot. "Daddy, did you know that hamsters were discovered in Syria?"

"Hamsters, now?" He smiles down at her. "Aren't you worried the rabbits will get jealous?"

"The rabbits can wait a bit," says Harry.





As it turns out, Harry's on her own.

John comes home late that night. He slams the door and walks up the stairs without saying goodnight to anybody, and then slams the door to his room for good measure. Harry and her dad stare at each other across the Parcheesi board for a long minute, and then Dad gets up and goes after him, quietly. Harry hears the door to John's room open and shut. She creeps up the stairs to hear what they're saying, but it doesn't sound that important. John's saying he was over at Sherlock's house, and that he's sorry he's late, but he's just tired, and he apologizes for slamming the doors, and now he'd just like to go to bed. Dad isn't saying much. Harry wonders if John is telling the truth- he never goes to Sherlock's house. Sherlock is always here, sleeping on the sofa or eating out of the cupboards or making fun of Countdown. He acts like his house is boring and awful. Harry can't imagine that he would take John there.

She hears the door opening, and she scrambles back down the stairs. By the time her dad comes back into the living room, she's lying on her stomach on the floor, with her feet in the air, trying to look bored.

"John says he's sorry he interrupted." He sits down, cross-legged, on the opposite side of the rug. "Where were we?"

"I was winning," says Harry.

John barely speaks at all the next morning. They don't walk by the park, because John says he wants to stop at the coffee shop on the other side of school. John never gets coffee from anyplace but the deli by the park, so Harry is immediately suspicious. She gets even more suspicious when they reach her school gates and Sherlock is standing by them, all alone. He is scowling at rows of kids and parents as they walk by, with his hands in his pockets and his face blotchy with the cold. He looks like a murderer trying to figure out which person in the world he likes least. Harry sees him before John does, because for once she is holding onto his wrist- his arm stiffens up and he lets go of Harry after they cross the street.

"John," says Sherlock, immediately, where a polite person would have said hello. John stares at him from the other edge of the sidewalk, like he is thinking about taking a step backwards into the parked cars. Harry grabs his arm again, and he looks down. John smiles at her.

"Am I picking you up?" he asks. Harry shakes her head.

"Going to Tracey's." She isn't. "She's got the new Toy Story on dvd." It's a terrible lie, the same one she told her dad. She isn't going to Tracey's house, where Herbert the horrible will sit on their backpacks and turn their movie off so he can watch sports. No, Harry has more important things to worry about. "Bye." John waves and she walks away. She ignores Sherlock on purpose, because John is obviously mad at him. And John can be incredibly annoying and full of painfully sensible advice and Harry gets mad at him plenty, but John is hers. Sherlock is lucky she is opting for a very grown-up Silent Treatment instead of stamping on his toes. Behind her, she hears them talking. She glances back over her shoulder, just before she goes through the door, and she thinks she sees Sherlock's hand reach for John's sleeve. John must have given him the lecture about traffic safety, too. John is so ridiculous. But none of that matters, because Harry is very busy at the moment.

Harry has a plan.





After the last bell rings, Harry sits in the coat room for a long time. She has a book in her bag, one Dad's read to her before, a story about some children who like watching trains and solving mysteries about Russians. It has tattered edges. It's sort of inspiring. She reads it all the way through and then eats a granola bar she kept from lunch. Harry checks her watch: five o'clock. There's a rumbling sound like crooked wheels on linoleum, because that's exactly what it is: the cleaning cart. Harry slips into the lavatory and hides in a stall; she listens to the sound of a vacuum getting turned on and dragged around. It takes forever. Finally, there's quiet. But then the door of the lavatory swings open, and Harry climbs up onto the seat. She crouches nervously on the edge, wondering if she is going to get caught or if she's going to fall in first. The cleaning lady scrubs two of the three toilets, singing to herself along with the tinny sound of her headphones. Harry holds her breath. She is pretty sure this is it. But then there's the sound of the door swinging shut again.

Harry steps down off the seat and goes to the door; she pushes it open an inch and looks through. The cleaning lady is going out the door at the end of the hall, with a pack of cigarettes in her hand. Luck, Harry thinks. The universe is on her side. She sucks in a breath and scrambles back to the coat room, where she hides on a shelf under a couple of lost-and-found jackets.

Harry keeps waiting.

When the cleaning cart has rumbled past again on its way down the hall, Harry unfolds herself and pads out quietly to her classroom. All the lights are out. It's only seven thirty-five, but it's already dark. There are flood lamps outside, all around the building, so Harry can see the edges of things- desks and chairs and bookshelves, all outlined in faint light. Plus, of course, her pocket torch. She switches it on and startles when it reflects against the window like a bright flash- better keep it down, pointed at the floor. She makes her way over to Charlie and Dave's little aquarium, and peers down inside. Their plastic houses are overturned, probably from when Miss Patel looked for them in the morning. Their water bottle is still hanging on the side, half-full. Harry shines her torch down into the nest, pushing the paper fill around, and notices something shiny at the bottom.

It's a button, a round blue button made out of plastic, with a little anchor and rope design pressed into the top. It looks like the kind from jacket sleeves or from the front of a cardigan. There's still a thread attached to it. It's clean and shiny and not nibbled on, which Harry thinks is strange: Charlie and Dave nibble on everything in reach. Their first water bottle was plastic, and they gnawed a hole in it right away, before Miss Patel bought them a glass one. And everything they don't eat, Harry thinks, they're busy pooping on instead. There can only be one answer, that Charlie and Dave didn't have the chance to chew or decorate this button. This button was lost at the same time they were. By a thief. Harry squeezes the button in her fist and thinks murderous thoughts. After a minute, she stops thinking about violence and starts thinking about buttons and sleeves and shirtfronts. She pads back into the coatroom and fumbles through everyone's left-behind clothes in their own little cubbies. She discovers that Ricky Parker has thirteen candy bar wrappers in the pockets of his rain jacket, that Ashley Rees is hiding an old tube of lipstick in her boots. Harry uncaps the tube and draws on her finger; it's old and dry and breaks off onto the floor. Harry puts it back. Nobody has anything with blue anchor buttons on it. Harry sits on the floor for a long time, wondering what to do, and her stomach rumbles. It sounds like a volcano. Like rocks grating together under her ribs.

Harry packs up her bag and puts on her coat and sneaks out the back door; it opens loud and shuts even more loudly. It bangs and clatters against the frame and somebody down the hall yells something. Harry takes off running for the back gate by the sheds. The latch is easy to push up, and she keeps running down the street for a block or two, her heart pounding in her chest and sending warm spikes of fear through her elbows and knees. When she gets to the corner by the park she stops and breathes through her mouth. It feels like her heart is coming out of her nose. She glances backwards and there's nobody there, no lights turning on, no sirens. She straightens up and zips her coat and puts her hat on.

"I'm not a baby," she says to herself, disdainfully. It's only nine more blocks home. No big deal.

"Hey," somebody says. Harry turns around. It's an old man in a big brown coat, with a scarf over his mouth. "You lost, kiddo?" Harry can't answer. She ought to answer. She ought to say no in a very loud voice and then walk straight for the police station, which is- oh. She's not quite sure. She came out the back way, and John always walks her by the front. The police station is on the other side of the park, which is by Oak Lane. Harry glances over at the park, partly hidden by the squat shape of the deli. The deli! The lights are still on inside, and there's a couple of teenagers walking out of it. Harry's knees are shaking. "Hey kid, it's alright-"

Harry runs for the deli, through the parked cars and right into the street. Her feet slap the parking lot pavement. Behind her, faintly, she can hear the man calling after her. She's reaching for the door of the shop when it opens against her; she loses her grip on the handle and slips backwards, landing on her backpack. Her eyes well up until she has to blink. She looks up helplessly at the very tall person in the doorway.

"The Watson grace," says Sherlock. Harry bursts into tears. For a second, he looks completely horrified. And then he bends down next to her, muttering about scenes and females and pulling her to her feet. He dusts off her backpack ineffectually while she hiccups into the fabric of her sleeve, and then he crouches down to look in her face. "Is that helping?" he asks, coldly. Harry stops crying to stare at him.

"Maybe," she says, scowling. She scrubs at her face with her sleeve. "Alright. I'm done." His mouth twitches up in a half-smile. He stands up and glances around. "He's not here," she tells him.

"I gathered." They stand there awkwardly for a second, and Harry feels an overwhelming desire to take his hand or the sleeve of his jacket, like she would if John or her daddy were there. She doesn't. "There's nobody with you."

"No."

"Ah," he says. He looks at her very carefully, with his laser beams on high. "You told John you were going to a friend's. You lied." Harry gapes. "Aren't you eleven years old?"

"I'll be twelve," Harry says, drawing herself up to her full height, "in eight days."

"A minor detail," says Sherlock.





Sherlock walks her home. On the way she tells him about the hamsters, because she is dying to tell somebody. She expects him to make fun of her. But instead of laughing, he asks to see the button. She hands it to him. He turns it over in his fingers, looking closely at it, as if it were important. He's silent for a long second as they walk.

"Silk thread," he remarks. "But a cheap plastic button. Not the original stitching, then; it's fallen off before and been sewn back on. Who would waste silk thread on a child's button?"

"Somebody who had a lot of it sitting around?" Harry suggests. Sherlock rolls his eyes.

"Obviously." He hands the button back. "The question is, what for? Silk thread is used in hand-sewn clothes. Embroidery. Jewelry-making. Is there anyone in your class whose parents are involved in fashion?"

"Janice's mum sells clothes at the Primark," Harry says, dubiously, "but that's probably not what you mean."

They walk mostly in silence after that, with the flaps of Sherlock's big coat brushing her elbows as she walks. When they get to the corner of Harry's block, she grabs his coat and stops, caught with sudden embarrassment. He pries her fingers off of his sleeve and says something about her manners. "Don't," she says. "Please don't tell John. Please don't say I lied. He won't trust me anymore. I didn't do it to make trouble, I just wanted to know what happened. I just wanted to find them." She tugs at his coat again. "I really needed to know."

Sherlock stares down at her in silence.

"Go," he says. "Go on, then."

"Thank you," Harry says, beaming at him. She takes off running down the block and slows down in front of her own door. She turns around to look at Sherlock, who is still standing on the corner, watching her. She watches back until he walks away. Harry fishes the key out of her shoe and goes inside. It's warm and bright and smells like dinner. Her dad is sitting in the living room, watching a loud game show and eating out of a tin of peanuts. He looks up at Harry and smiles. Harry feels her heart swell and shake with happiness. With love. She drops her bag and flings herself across her dad's lap. He laughs and makes room for her to sit next to him. She steals the peanut tin and eats a huge handful, poking his legs with her bony knees and asking him questions about all the contestants.

"How was the movie?" her dad asks.

"I liked it," Harry lies.





By the time her dad comes in to wake her up for school in the morning, Harry is already awake. She's sitting on the edge of her bed.

"Everything alright?" he asks.

"Fine," she tells him. "Go away, I'm thinking." He laughs, which is totally insulting, but at least he closes the door and goes back down the stairs. She can hear him opening and closing the fridge in the kitchen and then the sound of him taking his car keys off the hook. Harry slips into her boots and clomps down the stairs. Her dad is standing in the front hall, waiting for her. They drive to school, because he is going to work and John has somehow already left for the day on a mysterious errand. Her dad pulls up to the front gate and leans over to kiss the top of her head.

"Have a good day, rabbit," he says. Harry wiggles her nose.

At school she sits in the coatroom after everyone else is gone. She's wearing her favorite sweater; it's big and fluffy and warm and has three colors of yarn in it. Red and orange and yellow all mixed up together. It has big wooden buttons at the cuffs and at the neck. Her dad bought it for her last year, when he was still working at the old place and sitting in front of the television every night after she went to bed. He'd gotten up one morning and taken her downtown and bought her a sweater two sizes too big. And then later he'd gone out and John had to go find him. At least she's grown into the sweater, and the arms don't flop down at her sides anymore. It's bright and it makes Harry feel happy, like she's wearing the sun.

Harry takes a deep breath and then she reaches down and pulls a wooden button off of her sleeve. It leaves a tail of yarn, bright red, dangling out in the air. Harry puts the button in her pocket and goes to class.

"Look," she says, to Susan and Tracey. She says it in her loudest inside voice. "Look, my button's come off. My sweater's ruined."

"It's nothing," Tracey says. "Herbert took my slippers and-"

"I've got the button," Harry whines. "But I can't sew." She sits down and kicks at the legs of her desk, obnoxiously. A couple of other kids turn around to look at her. "Neither can John. Neither can my dad. Nobody will ever sew this button on again and my sweater is ruined forever!" She puts her head down on her desk and sighs. Deeply.

"Um," says Ricky Parker. Harry spins in her seat to stare at him. "My mum fixes clothes. She's good at it." He seems to be blushing a little at having spoken at all: it's not his natural state. Mostly invisible Ricky Parker. Harry smiles at him with all her teeth.

"Really?" she asks, sweetly. "She does?"

"Oh yeah." Ricky nods. "She can make 'em, too. She does party dresses and stuff. She works on wedding dresses sometimes," he continues, a little more confidently. "Pretty ones. All silk." Harry feels a wild thrill of victory.

"Tell me all about it," she says.





Harry convinces Ricky that she's got to have her sweater fixed for a family picture. Today. Ricky stammers and deflects and gives in after about five minutes. He tells Harry that they can walk to his house after school and ask his mother to help. He lives on the other side of the park. He makes her promise that it won't take long.

"I promise," says Harry, batting her eyelashes. Beautiful girls do it in the movies all the time. Harry's a quick study.

When the bell rings, Harry says she'll meet him at the gate- she sprints ahead and finds John and Sherlock standing outside the crowd. They're laughing at something together; John's eyes are closed and he's holding his stomach. Sherlock's eyes are open, looking at John. Harry practically runs into them both.

"I have to go to Ricky's house because my sweater button fell off and it's important I've got to get it sewn back on and his mother does clothes, she's a tailor or something," she says breathlessly, glancing at Sherlock. John starts to argue that he can sew it on for her, and Harry shuts him down. "John can I go please, I have to go. You can walk me there and stand outside, it'll take five minutes I promise," she adds. Actually, that sounds like a good idea. John and Sherlock standing outside, ready to intimidate Ricky if he won't hand over the hamsters. This is turning out to be one of her better plans. She pleads and whines and kicks her boots against John's toes for emphasis. He's mostly speechless.

"Okay," he says. "Okay, Harry, okay. Calm down." He glances at Sherlock. "Would you mind?"

"No," says Sherlock. "I wouldn't."

Ricky joins them and they walk through the park, to a quiet neighborhood on the other side. It looks a lot like their neighborhood, although the houses are cleaner and they each have their own little parking spaces in the front. Ricky's mother isn't home, but he invites Harry in anyway, eying John and Sherlock with mistrust. They stay out on the sidewalk, talking intensely about gasoline and accelerants and other weird things. Harry goes inside and stands in Ricky's living room, finally alone with her suspect.

"D'you want a soda?" he asks.

"No, thanks," says Harry, politely. "Where are they? Where are you hiding them?" Ricky blanches.

"I'm not-"

"I know you are." Harry advances. "I found your button in the cage. I remembered when I saw you. You wear that big coat with the flaps on it. It's got anchor buttons everywhere. Just like this one." Harry slips the blue button out of her front pocket and holds it up. "Your mum works for a tailor and she sewed it back on for you." Ricky's actually trembling. "Admit it! You took Charlie and Dave!"

"Alright," he yells. "Alright, I did!" Harry puts her hands on her hips.

"Give them back," she says. "Give them to me right now."

"No."

"I'll kick you," Harry says. "As hard as I can. I'll scream." Ricky looks terrified.

"Please don't," he says. "I can't give them back. I gave them to my little brother. He thinks they're his." Harry frowns, confused. "His hamsters, they just died- my mum got them from the store for his birthday, and they were sick or wrong or something. I lied and said they went to the hospital. He kept waiting for them to come back. So I took them. I just looked at them, and I thought- I shouldn't have. Please. Are you going to kick me?"

"I'm thinking about it," says Harry. They stand together in silence in the living room for a long minute. "It was stupid to take them," she says.

"I know," Ricky says, miserably.

"Do you have ten quid?"

"I don't know," he says. "Maybe. I've got a plastic bank. Mum says I need to save for-"

"Go break it," Harry tells him. "We're going to the pet store. You need two hamsters and I need two hamsters and we've only got two, total."

"Are you going to tell Miss Patel?"

"That depends," she says. Harry glares at him. "On whether or not you've got ten quid."





"Would you explain to me again why I'm carrying a box of hamsters?" John asks. He sounds like he's trying not to laugh.

"School project," she says.

"Ah." John looks down at her. "Hamsters for science."

"For science," Harry agrees.

There are still lights on in Harry's classroom when they walk in. Miss Patel is sitting at her desk and rubbing her forehead with one hand. She looks up and smiles when Harry comes in. Harry takes the box out of John's hands and puts it on Miss Patel's desk.

"Why, Harry-" she begins, and stops when the box rustles. "Is this-"

"I found them," Harry says. Miss Patel frowns. "I didn't take them," Harry adds, quickly. "I can't tell you who did. He's really sorry and he learned his lesson. Probably." She pushes the box across the desk. Miss Patel opens the top and looks in at the pair of golden hamsters curled together in a corner, nose to butt.

"Thank you, Harry," she says, gravely. "Thank you very much."

Harry says she's welcome.





On Harry's birthday, her dad has to go to a job training session that's going to last until eight. He apologizes a lot, but Harry just makes him promise to take her to the pet store during the weekend instead. She is thinking about getting a guinea pig. They're from the Andes.

"Why not a hamster?" he asks.

"Guinea pigs are bigger," Harry says. "Too big to steal." He looks completely baffled but he says they can go on Saturday.

For dinner John takes her out to the Chinese restaurant by the plaza. Harry tells him he can bring Sherlock if he wants. John smiles and says he'll see, but then Sherlock meets them outside the restaurant anyway.

It's the kind of place with plastic tables and fish tanks in the back, Harry's favorite kind of restaurant. They let her stand in front of the tanks and ask questions about where the different kinds of fish come from. The crabs are the best; they are climbing over each other and snapping at the glass. Harry orders soup with noodles and then beef and broccoli. She eats half and then gives the rest to John, who is already trying to finish his roast pork and string beans. Sherlock has a hot tea and a pile of dumplings. He makes John eat some of those, too.

When they are walking back, Harry decides to tell John what she's been doing. He seems especially calm and slow right now, with a hand over his stomach and a glazed look on his face. She talks about the hamsters and then about staying after school and telling a lie. She leaves Sherlock out of the story. John stops by a street sign and hangs onto it for a minute while she finishes. He yells at her a little and Sherlock stands awkwardly to one side with his hands in his pockets. He looks as if he is trying to think about equations or something dignified.

"That was so stupid," John says. "Just really stupid. Nobody knew where you were. What if something did happen, Harry, did you think about that?"

"Yes," she says. "It was scary." John stops and looks at her. "I would have asked you to help, but I thought you were busy."

"Harry, you should always-"

"He was busy," Sherlock says. "We were catching an arsonist. A fairly sloppy arsonist with a psychotically malicious bent." John glances at him like he's trying to make him shut up with his mind. But Sherlock seems to think something about this is funny. "We chased a suspect down to the overpass and were caught inside the abandoned-"

"Okay," says John. "I was a little busy."

"Oh I knew it," Harry breathes, ecstatically. "I knew it. You solve crimes I knew it and you run about and get into danger and there's real criminals, John you big liar you told me you had a physics project!" She skips up and down. "You have to tell me all about everything, you have to! Did you catch him? Did he set fire to those bins on King's Road? Cause the news said it was a tramp but I thought it might not be, because why wouldn't a tramp live by the supermarket, that's where the bread always is, in the garbage after the bakery closes." Sherlock and John stare at her. "Tell me," she says. "Or I'll tell dad-"

"You'll tell dad that you lied about Tracey's?" John says, evilly. Harry stops with her mouth still half-open. "Right."

"You can tell me some things," Harry pleads. "Can't you, please?"

"It wasn't a tramp," Sherlock says.

"You're not helping," says John.

It is the best birthday ever.
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