Incantations and Deductions Chapter 2 (BBC Sherlock/ Harry Potterverse)
Even though Sherlock was fairly assured of his new friendship with John Watson he didn't expect John to come and talk to him at breakfast in the Great Hall on Monday morning. John only ate breakfast at the same time as other students four days out of seven, as the Gryffindor Quidditch team practiced on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays before lessons. Usually John would eat his breakfast and then chat with his (many) friends in Gryffindor or read whatever the owl had brought him.
Today though John sits down on the bench next to Sherlock, still eating a round of toast with jam, a cheerful "Good morning" mumbled around the bread. Sherlock is so surprised he closes the book he's reading (Brewing Charmed Possets from Everyday Kitchen Ingredients by Delilah Smythe) without marking the page.
"Morning." Sherlock replies. He's is acutely aware that all the students around them, particularly those sitting by the spot John had recently vacated on the Gryffindor table, are now talking in hushed whispers and staring at the pair of them.
John seems blissfully unaware, eating his breakfast (he's even brought his mug of tea with him) and then raising his eyebrows at the book Sherlock was reading.
"Bloody hell, bit of light reading for a Monday morning then? My mum swears by Delilah Smythe. You planning on poisoning someone?"
"Sadly no. I couldn't pick who I wanted to do in from the shortlist."
John snorts through his nose.
"So in the end I just ended up dumping a load of belladonna into the raspberry jam, so I could just get it out of them all out of the way in one go..."
John stops chewing and gives Sherlock a look. Sherlock adopts an innocent expression then starts laughing.
"Piss off." John says, giggling after he's swallowed the last of his toast.
People are still whispering, and looking confused. John takes a sip of his tea.
"So, do you sit as far away from them as possible, or are they just scared of you?" John nods his head towards the rest of the Slitherin pupils sitting around the table, nowhere near John and Sherlock.
Sherlock glances at his fellow house members, some of whom shift uncomfortably under his scrutiny. He's aware that in the past it's been very easy for him to intimidate people into leaving him alone, being tall for his age and having a masterful command of the English language to help him come up with the most scathing insults. The thing is, he finds most of them too dull to even bother with.
"Perhaps a combination of the two." Sherlock owns and drinks some of his black coffee.
John makes a face. "How can you drink black coffee?"
"It's an acquired taste."
"Why would you want to acquire a taste for something that's so dark and bitter?"
"Yes, why would you?" asked a voice from behind them. They both twist around to see Sally Donovan standing there, her arms crossed over her chest, looking distinctly annoyed. A few more members of Gryffindor are standing behind her, but as one of the Gryffindor chasers she'd clearly been elected as the one to speak.
"Sorry, what?" John queried, but from the way he's gripping his mug Sherlock suspects he understood her meaning loud and clear.
"What are you doing sitting on the Slytherin table, John?"
"With him." Sally sounds impatient.
"Oh well, I suppose Sherlock's technically drinking coffee."
Sherlock controls the urge to burst out laughing at John's effortless evasion of the obvious. It's like he's playing Quidditch and Sally's questions are the Quaffle.
"I mean, why have you suddenly started hanging around with him?" Sally eyes Sherlock like he might put a curse on her any second.
"Sally, no offence, but I didn't realise that I had to present all my potential friends to you for inspection."
Sally leans in closer to John, probably attempting to get some privacy from Sherlock. Sherlock, who is sitting possibly a grand total of twenty inches away from John. Honestly, this girl was ludicrous.
"I've heard stuff about him." Sally whispers.
"I know, so have I. Recently, I've heard he's sitting next to me and can hear everything that's being said." John pantomime whispers back. Sally frowns.
"Well then you must know that he-"
"Sherlock was the one who found out about the enchanted Bludger. You remember the one that nearly killed me and could have actually killed someone else?" John takes another sip of tea, being falsely nonchalant as the fact that he's annoyed with her sinks into Sally's consciousness.
"Yeah." Sally and John hold each other's gaze for a moment and some kind of psychic teammate understanding seems to be taking place. Sally breaks their staring match by rolling her eyes.
"Fine, hang out with him. But don't say I didn't warn you." Sally turns on her heel and is followed by the sycophantic group, who leave without having uttered a word to either Sherlock or John.
"Well that was interesting." John says.
"I think she was probably trying to warn you about the time that Polly Fitzsimmons drank the Polyjuice potion I'd brewed and got turned into an earwig for a week." Sherlock volunteers.
"Heard about that."
"Or the time they had to evacuate the greenhouse because I set all the Mandrakes off at the same time and three people had to go to the Infirmary to have their ear drums stitched back together."
"Yep, knew about that too."
"Or the time I exploded the-"
"Sherlock .I know. I told you, it's fine. You're fine." John looks at him, his eyes are sharp but the rest of his expression is soft. Sherlock takes pride in his ability to give everything in his world a name, to categorise it, but he can't be entirely sure what colour John's eyes are supposed to be, somewhere between dark blue and light brown. Something can't be dark and light at the same time can it? Sherlock doesn't know. For once he doesn't really care.
John finishes his tea and stands up as the bell rings. "Ah...History of Magic. Means another couple of hours of sleep for me. You coming?"
They head off together, neither boy noticing how despite their differences in height and stride, they fall quite easily into step with one another.
The rest of their third year passed relatively quietly. Sherlock manages not to blow anything up and the majority of the Gryffindor house seems to accept that John and Sherlock are friends. A few times John attempts to get Sherlock to hang around with him and his other friends but Sherlock declines. The first couple of times John seems to accept it without argument, but after a while a new little frown line appears between John's brows when Sherlock cries off.
"What?" Sherlock asks. They are sitting in the grassy quadrangle on a sunny Saturday afternoon, supposedly doing homework but mainly just watching the clouds and Elixir attempting to hunt. She got bored and is now curled up on John's lap, butting her head happily against his hands as he strokes her soft sandy brown fur. Sherlock is sprawled out on the grass, his long legs in front of him, leaning back and resting on his forearms.
John purses his lips and looks like he's thinking about how to say something carefully, watching a bee buzz by.
"Do you not want to meet my friends because they aren't..." John pauses and scratches the cat's ear.
"Aren't what?" asks Sherlock, getting slightly agitated.
John clears his throat. "Pure bloods."
"Is that what you think?" Sherlock retorts.
He doesn't realise that he's raised his voice until he notices that several people are looking over curiously. Elixir opens her eyes and gives Sherlock that quite clearly says 'Why are you making noise near me, you pathetic human?'. Sherlock's not sure if she learnt that look from him or if he learnt it from her.
"Well I thought maybe-"John begins, flustered.
"That I'm like all the other Slytherins and actually care about things like that?" Sherlock can't keep the irritation at bay, as well as another, more alien feeling: hurt. He's hurt by the implications of John's question, surprised that John actually has the power, even in this short span of their friendship, to hurt him.
John licks his lip, "No. No, I'm sorry, I didn't think that-"
"Oh right, one of your little friends has been saying things again. Brilliant." Sherlock flops down on the grass, irritated.
John is quiet for a while, but Sherlock can practically hear him thinking. It's not as obtrusive as when other people are thinking in their teeth grindingly slow manner. It's rather nice having John Watson close enough to hear him think.
"You're right, and I'm sorry. I know you're not like that, you're nothing like the rest of them. But there must be a reason why you don't want to spend time with my other friends. You might like them."
"Don't be stupid, John."
"I'm sorry but around you that seems to be my default position." Now John sounds irritated as well.
"I'm not interested in any of your friends. I could feign interest in them if you'd like?"Sherlock offers, knowing that John hates falseness, in all its forms.
"I just suppose I don't understand why I'm different." John says, not even dignifying Sherlock's suggestion with a response.
Sherlock sighs. "Don't be an idiot John, of course you're different."
"Why? I like the same things as they do; I can chat for hours about things you'd say were 'dull' or 'banal'. I'm nowhere near as clever as you-"
"And yet you're sitting here with me. Look John you're different because you choose to be. Can you not complicate things, please?"
Sherlock doesn't want this line of conversation to continue. Of course, there are a multitude of reasons why John is different and a multitude of reasons why Sherlock has no desire to hang around John's friends. Sherlock has not yet ascertained, but rather suspects, that the two sets of reasons are inextricably linked. Rather like an ancient and extremely delicate tapestry Sherlock is worried that if he tries to untangle some of the threads and organise them in his ruthlessly organised mind then the whole thing will unravel. It's better just to acknowledge that this confusing mass of motivations exists than to attempt to make sense of it. He doesn't want John to probe the basis of their friendship too closely for fear of dismantling it entirely.
"Alright, fine." John still seems subdued though. Sherlock decides to change tack.
"Is this all because of that letter your squib brother sent you this morning?"he asks, casually.
John's head snaps up so quickly Sherlock can't be sure that he didn't hurt himself.
"You received a letter this morning at breakfast. I deduced it was from a sibling judging by the handwriting on the envelope and the fact your family owl was carrying it, I obviously didn't read the contents, but from the expressions you were making it while you were reading it wasn't easy reading, you stopped twice. You haven't expressed any particular distress, however, so I assume that your family is well and its more of a personal problem, awkward sibling relationship then. Awkward because you, the younger brother possess the magical talent."
"How can you possibly know Harry's a squib?" John seems to have completely forgotten about their previous conversation.
"Obvious. You don't have any siblings at this school, the handwriting on the envelope is that of a left handed teenager and the letter was sent from your home address. You obviously feel some guilt over being the magically gifted one, as you still have the letter tucked into your potions book and you're probably going to read it a few more times before you reply. Perhaps you were questioning my feelings over blood purity to gauge my feelings about squibs because you have such mixed feelings towards your brother. Then there's your schoolbag."
"My schoolbag?" John glances at the blue canvas bag.
"Yes, it's sturdy but has seen quite a lot of wear, more wear than one might expect from three years of carting around a relatively small amount of books. Of course, your older brother had it first, as we can discover from the fact that 'Harry Watson Class 7B'is scrawled on the inside of the flap there, in the same appalling handwriting as the letter."
John is staring at Sherlock. He's even forgotten to keep scratching Elixir's ears.
"That... that was brilliant."
Sherlock could feel a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth, a rather common occurrence when John was around. A smile was always threatening to break through.
"Yeah? You think so?"
"Of course ,that was bloody amazing! You did all that without magic, based on a letter and an old tatty book bag."John is grinning now.
"So I was right?"
"Pretty much. Harry gave me this bag when I started here... Harry's a squib but it didn't used to matter," the look in John's eyes dampens a bit, "it didn't used to matter, we were so close, you know? It was obvious that I had magical skill, like mum and dad and Harry didn't but it was fine. Then the letter from Hogwarts came for me. For a while it was still OK but over the last couple of years... It was like a wall went up between us."
John scrubs a hand through his hair. His hands and forearms tan easily in the weather and his hair is steadily being bleached by the sun. Sherlock isn't an idiot, he knows he feels a certain level of attraction towards John and because he's not an idiot he will never act on the attraction or make the other boy aware of it.
"Well, I didn't expect to get everything right." Sherlock says mildly, dragging his attention away from John's arms.
John's grins at him, despondency forgotten. "Harry is short for Harriet."
"There's always something..."
"Well you should know pride comes before a fall, you arrogant sod...So is that how you worked it out about Milverton and that lot?"
Sherlock pulls a face. "No, those three were just stupid enough to have a clandestine conversation in a darkened corridor."
"Ah yes ,obviously they should have avoided something so derivative. If they'd been chatting about it in the middle of the Great Hall at lunch they would never have been overheard." John observes.
Laughing at literary and film conventions, earlier disputes forgotten, they spend the rest of the afternoon revising for their end of term exams. Once again, neither boy really considers how easy they are in step with one another.
More importantly, neither realises they are being watched.
The week before the end of term is a hectic routine of revision, exams, finding clothes, papers and books to take home, the dull routine of packing. Sherlock doesn't see much of John, the occasional wave in the corridor or a brief 'Hello' in the Great Hall. Once, on his way to the greenhouse, he turned a corner near the Gryffindor common room and saw John kissing Sarah against the wall, his hands on her hips, her arms looped around his neck. It actually brought him up short, stopping his usually purposeful stride. Almost as soon as he's stopped walking he started again, turning on his heel and setting off on a different route.
He's at Hogsmeade station, waiting for the Express to arrive before he sees John again. He tells himself that he hasn't been deliberately avoiding John, even though he also knows that is patently untrue. He also suspects that John wouldn't actually notice anyway.
"Sherlock!" John calls, jogging down the platform towards him, "I thought I was going to miss you."
John retrieves a rather ratty looking notebook and a pencil from his pocket.
"Write down your address." he demands, thrusting the items at Sherlock.
"Why?" Sherlock asks.
John rolls his eyes. "So I can write to you over summer, you idiot .Here's mine, by the way." he gives Sherlock a scrap of paper, with his address written in his abominable handwriting on it.
Sherlock finishes writing his address and hands the book back.
"So what are your plans for the holiday?"John asks, reaching up to stroke Elixir's head. She's sitting daintily on Sherlock's shoulder, as she has categorically refused to get into her cage since she was a kitten.
"We're visiting my grandparents for a while. They live in Bordeaux."Sherlock loves visiting his grandparents, although he suspects it's not particularly cool to admit it. His Grand-pere always tests him on his observation skills and his Grand-mere teaches him to make poisons, and they both let him drink wine.
"That sounds nice. I'm going to Romania. One of my dad's schoolmates breeds dragons out there, so I'm going to work for him for a bit. The address of the hostel I'm staying at is on there too. " John looks excited at the prospect and Sherlock can't help feeling a little envious. Spending the summer with dragons sounds fascinating.
"John!"shouts Sarah from down the platform, the train is approaching. John looks at Sherlock apologetically.
" I better go. Look I'll see you next term, right?"
"Of course." Sherlock replies. For a second John hovers and Sherlock wonders if John is going to hug him goodbye. Sherlock isn't entirely sure what to think about that. However, John just grasps his hand in affirm handshake, grins at him and then lets go.
"Write to me!" John shouts and is then lost in the throng of students.
Sherlock spends three weeks with his mother and grandparents in France. They pick all the grapes in the five acre vineyard in one afternoon using a complicated combination spell, then spend the rest of the day getting steadily drunk on last year's crop, much to his mother's annoyance.
"He is nearly fifteen! Nearly a man!" Grand-mere insists.
When they return home there is a letter waiting from John, which Sherlock takes to his room to read. John is full of dragon talk and raves about the mountain air and other trivialities. Still it is inordinately nice to hear from him, and he tucks the letter into an old cigar tin Grand-pere gave him, in which he keeps important things and interesting things.
He writes to John and tells him about France and the excruciatingly dull dinner party that Mycroft threw at the family home when they returned. Boring officials from the Ministry, Governors from Hogwarts and many other dull individuals milling about telling Sherlock how much he'd grown (he refrained from saying, 'Yes obviously I have grown, that is what teenagers do') while whispering about how much he looked like his father.
He doesn't tell John that bit though. John doesn't need to know those bits yet.
All in all three letters apiece are written between John and Sherlock over that summer. John talks about the new broom he's been given (' I know you don't care, but really it's bloody fantastic.') and Sherlock talks about his experiments on various water creatures he dredges from the pond ('It's not cruel, it's science. I know you get sensitive about pond life John, I've seen some of the people you hang around with') and casually snipe at each other ('I count you as one of my friends, you lanky tosser. Looking forward to seeing if even more of your latent giraffe gene has reared its head and made you grow another three feet over summer') ('Well I hope for your sake it hasn't, I'd hate for you to get permanent neck damage every time you try to talk to me, short arse. If I'm part giraffe what are you? A pixie?')
So when they meet on Platform 9 3/4s they have a lot to cat about, particularly as John sits with Sherlock. Sherlock doesn't miss the way Sarah stalks passed John on her way to boarding the train without so much as a second glance. John certainly omitted breaking up with her from his letters, as it's fairly obvious that John was the one who called it quits. Sherlock raises his eyebrows and John shakes his head.
They sit in a carriage with one member of the army that is John's friends, Mike Stamford, a fellow Gryffindor. Sherlock finds he doesn't detest the boy on sight, thanks to his quietly affable demeanour and the fact he isn't a complete prat. Sherlock had noticed Molly Hooper hovering nervously and solitarily on the platform and John had followed his gaze. When they got on the train he asked her if she wanted to sit with them. She and Mike struck up a conversation about potential future careers at St Mungo's and she seemed to come out of her shell a little.
"So it sounds like you had a good summer." Sherlock remarks.
John is deeply tanned, apparently it was quite sunny in Romania. He hasn't gotten any taller, but his muscle tone has increased and his hair looks almost golden in the early autumn sunlight glinting in through the windows.
"Yeah it was great. Dragons are just so special. And so... fucking dangerous." John laughs and Sherlock imagines him standing there, with his calm demeanour, staring down a Romanian Longhorn. He hopes he'll see it for real one day.
Sherlock makes John, and surprisingly Molly and Mike as well, laugh with his impression of the Minister of Magic attempting to eat Salmon en croute while holding up his end of an argument on Muggle rights and spraying one of the Head Auror's with pastry. It had been one of the highlights of that dreadful dinner party.
"So your brother's a pretty big fish in the Ministry then?" asks Mike.
"You could say he's a pretty big, mostly invisible fish."Sherlock admits.
"Like a river pike?"John asks in his typically flippant manner.
They arrive back at the school and it's the usual first year merry go round with the Sorting Hat, then the back to school 'You must apply yourself, don't let yourselves or the school down, don't put your wand up your nose' stuff. Sherlock and John find a moment to compare their timetables and discover they have potions, herbology and astronomy together. John grins at him and claps him on the back.
"Looks like it's going to be a good year." he says. Sherlock agrees, returning the smile.
At that point, of course, they couldn't have known they were only two weeks away from a porter discovering the body of a missing 2nd year student on a small beach by the lake. But when Carl Powers is found dead everything starts to change.