Obviously it took years for them to ever get around to speaking to each other. Sherlock reasoned that it was natural: as well as being in different, some might even say rival, houses, there was also the social class divide and the fact that Sherlock always gave off the general air of someone who never wanted to talk to anyone, in his life, ever. As a general rule Sherlock felt that unless someone was directly benefitting him by being alive in his presence he would do his best to tolerate them, but if not they could bloody well bugger off and do their dull living /breathing /sleeping /eating /talking /having fun business somewhere else.
His mother said it was just his age, that teenage years were awkward, his anti social nature was a phase he was going through. Sherlock rather suspected that it wasn't so much his age as his life. And he wasn't awkward, he was perfectly poised. It was the rest of the world that was awkward and unpredictable and usually mundane but occasionally fantastic. None of that explained his preoccupation with the other boy.
He'd actually first noticed the other boy years ago, standing on the railway platform, waiting for the train, with his trunk, new uniform, owl in it's cage, parents (obviously his parents, neither particularly tall, sandy blonde hair and nose inherited from the father, large eyes from mother) standing proudly next to him. Sherlock wasn't quite sure what it was about the boy that got his attention. Perhaps it was the way the boy, unlike every other child their age waiting for the train didn't seem nervous. He chatted with his parents but didn't give off any tell tale signs that he was worried or even the slightest bit perturbed about the journey. Before Sherlock could make any other deductions about the unusually calm looking boy, Mycroft had started to talk to him about the importance of not letting the family down, about appropriate behaviour, following school rules and such and Sherlock lost sight of him in the crowd.
The boy, John Watson, had been placed in Gryffindor later that evening. Sherlock, like a long line of Holmes's was placed in Slytherin. Mycroft had smiled at him from the other end of the long table, where he was sitting with the other prefects, obviously relieved that it would easy to keep an eye on his brother through his first year at Hogwarts. Mycroft had graduated at the end of the year and had easily secured a 'minor' position within the Ministry of Magic. Meaning, of course, that he actually ran it but let other people believe they were doing it.
Sherlock didn't stop noticing John Watson though. They were in the occasional lesson together and John was usually surrounded by a gaggle of friends, mainly boys for the first few years, with the odd girl creeping into the group around the start of third year, looking smug when they got to hold John's hand walking to lessons. John isn't talented to the same level Sherlock is, but he is certainly intelligent, answering questions voluntarily, teachers seem to like him. Most teachers accept Sherlock's brilliance with a certain wariness, then become exasperated with him when he deletes the things that aren't important to him after acing the examination. Or when he's blown up the labs (again).
He notices John when he's playing Quidditch. Sherlock detests pretty much everyone in his house, mostly opting to spend his time in the potions laboratory, in the library, or with his cat, Elixir, in the dormitory. However, around the middle of his third year Mycroft swoops in for a visit, supposedly to see how Sherlock is doing but obviously to also stick his nosy beak into Hogwarts affairs. Sherlock takes him to watch a Quidditch match, because Mycroft misses playing himself (Sherlock thinks, rather uncharitably, that since his brother dropped off the exercise he should perhaps start going easy on the biscuits as well.) They sit in the stands and Sherlock gives his patented withering look to any of the halfwits in Slytherin who look as if they might question his presence at the game.
Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw is the first game Sherlock ever witnesses and try as he might, he will never be able to delete it. He wasn't surprised when he saw John Watson on his broom, he'd seen him dozens of times in his gear heading to and from practice. He was slightly surprised when he took his place in front of the hoops, however. Sherlock had read, in one of the books on the school's history he'd examined when he'd been determined to discover a secret passage that would get him out of school grounds undetected, that the Keeper was usually a role taken by a taller individual with greater reach. John had grown over the years, as all the students had, and he's certainly well built, but he's compact, he couldn't have been more than five feet and seven inches tall.
Then the game began and Sherlock saw why John had been selected for the position. The calm nature he had witnessed that first day on platform 9 3/4s was there, channelled into an almost lethal weapon. While all the other players sweated and slogged it out, John Watson serenely floated on his broom, always managing to be exactly where a rival Chaser wanted to score a goal, batting away the Quaffle like it was just a minor annoyance. The game was won by Gryffindor, with Ravenclaw having only managed to score once. Only when the match ended did John seem to come out of his almost meditative state, grinning and laughing with the Gryffindor team, getting his hair scruffed and patted on the back.
"You seemed to enjoy that." remarks Mycroft, looking at him over the rims of his half moon spectacles. They made him look stupid, in Sherlock's opinion, particularly as Sherlock knew he had perfect eyesight and was only using them for effect.
"Yes. It's a rather engrossing game."
"Gryffindor's keeper is quite something." Mycroft watches John swooping down towards the changing room. Sherlock didn't know how he managed to treat his broom as an extension of his body; it looked as if he were born attached to it.
Sherlock starts going to Quidditch games after that, carefully making sure that it wasn't just the ones John was playing in that he went to. Besides, he could usually glance John in the stands at matches he wasn't playing, sitting with his teammates and either talking strategy or cheering along. He found he actually enjoyed watching the match, seeing the potential outcomes of the games based on the player's stats. He usually felt rather gratified when his predictions were correct
One afternoon, when he was hurrying to watch Slytherin versus Gryffindor (he had a feeling his fellow housemates would eat him alive if they knew he was secretly cheering for the opposing team) he overhead a rather intriguing conversation. Using one of the back corridors as a shortcut he happened upon a few of his house'mates' whispering to each other.
"It'll be easy, no one will know it was us. We'll make loads from the bet money we've taken." Augustus Milverton, a slimy, vindictive character in Sherlock's year was saying.
"But what if we get in trouble? Something could go seriously wrong."Rachel Howells sounded whiny and imploring. She was a malicious little person, who enjoyed spreading rumours around the common room and then complained when she got found out.
"Stop being a bloody wimp." That was Jonas Oldacre a fifth year, insufferable idiot, cruel to anyone he thought wasn't 'pure' blood, particularly Katie Mcfarlane's, new Hufflepuff boyfriend. The fact that she was his ex girlfriend might also have had something to do with it. His scathing tone was clear and disparaging. "Besides it's already done. It'll only takeout the best player, don't worry, no one'll suspect a thing."
Obviously the three of them were up to some nefarious doings. Sherlock lurked in the shadows, well out of sight, as the gaggle sloped off. He wondered what it was about and decided to investigate further after the match.
It turned out that he didn't need to. He realised that they'd enchanted a Bludger to attack the best player on the Gryffindor team. The best player was John Watson, who despite some valiant efforts to get away, was now lying unconscious on the ground, students and staff racing over to him. Sherlock couldn't see if John was breathing or not and he definitely had a few broken bones. Rachel, Augustus and Jonas watched white faced as the stretcher carried John off to the Infirmary.
"How can you be sure?"asks the head of Slytherin house, and old friend of Sherlock's father's, "Sherlock, I hope you realise that this is a very serious accusation." Sherlock is sitting in his office, which despite being filled from floor to ceiling with books, still manages to be drafty.
"I heard them talking before the match. I didn't put two and two together until John was injured."
"Ah yes, the resilient Mr Watson. Are the two of you friends?" Sherlock tries not to hear the hopeful note in the teacher's voice, that Sherlock 'problem child' Holmes might have made a friend. He's had enough of the 'school isn't just about learning, Sherlock' talks to last him a lifetime
"No. We've been in a few lessons together, I don't really know him." Sherlock replies, ignoring the odd feeling the thought of being John Watson's friend gives him.
"I see. So you're telling me you believe that Milverton, Howells and Oldacre have been taking bets on Quidditch matches... bearing in mind that this is serious enough on its own, but also enchanted the Bludger?"
"Yes. Well I checked their library records", Sherlock found the relevant paper in his pocket, "Jonas checked out a book on enchantments. And I asked around, Rachel has a herbology lesson on Tuesday mornings, down by the equipment room. She's the best of the there at Charms, so she was probably the one that enchanted the Bludger. And ... I found this in the dormitory."
He pulls the small lockable tin out of his satchel and places it on the desk. The head opens it and finds the money and incriminating notes on who owes what written in Milverton's handwriting (as well as some particularly nasty comments about 'putting the frighteners' on students who Augustus felt owed him money.)
"This was in the dorm?"
The tin had been hidden at the bottom of Milverton's trunk, covered in half a year's supply of clothes, books, shoes, papers and a couple of charms designed to repel the faint hearted. Technically it had been in the dorm...although not in any place that Sherlock could have happened across it by accident.
The head of Slytherin regards Sherlock with a look of almost admiration. "Leave it with me, Holmes."
A total of three hundred points are docked from Slytherin. Milverton, Howells and Oldacre are on near permanent detention. There was a lot of pathetic snivelling from the three of them, particularly when the headmaster screeches "You could have killed him!" loud enough for it to echo all around the Great Hall. Sherlock finds that he is now extremely unpopular with his Slytherin housemates, who have of course found out that The Freak (as people have come to call him) was the one who told on the idiots who nearly killed a Gryffindor Keeper. Sherlock, more than anything is annoyed. Not because the trio did wrong and the other students in the house wanted to protect them, but that no one seems to care about the truth.
Interestingly though, students in other houses are almost cordial to him. One boy from Hufflepuff, who he later finds out is called Victor Trevor, took to following him about between lessons, which was rather odd, but at least not hostile. He actually has a fairly pleasant conversation with Molly Hooper, a member of Ravenclaw who is almost as good at potions as he is. She's a bit wet, but nice enough and doesn't have a duplicitous bone in her body. And then John Watson speaks to him.
It's about two weeks after Sherlock had watched a lifeless John be carted off to the Infirmary, feeling an anger at injustice like he'd never felt before when John lopes up to him the cloisters one lunchtime. Sherlock is reading a book, tucked away into the wall, out of sight, when a shadow falls over his page. Sherlock glanced up and pushes his dark tangle of curls out of his eyes, to see John Watson, his wounded arm in a sling, grinning at him.
"Hello. I'm John." Sherlock has to stop himself from saying 'Yes, I know' because he suspects it's not normal to have known this boy's name for four years but to have never spoken to him. John has put out his good hand.
"Sherlock." he replies, in a voice that he hopes sounds cool and detached, but rather suspects just sounds wary. He shakes John's hand.
"I know. Look, I just wanted to say thank you. For, you know, dobbing in those kids. It was really decent of you."
Sherlock is rather glad that he ruthlessly taught himself when he was about eight, to suppress the impulse to blush. Being so pale, he looks like a moron if he lets blood rush to his face, which it is trying to do now, in the light of John's praise. John, who is now sitting down next to him.
"It was nothing." Sherlock dismisses.
"No it wasn't! Look, if nothing else you told on other members of the Slytherin house, you must be seriously ostracized, especially as they lost you those points. Look just, thanks. If they'd gotten away with it they might have done it again. I mean, I was lucky to walk away with just this" he gestures to his arm, "Well this and a hell of a lump on my head. I suppose I just didn't expect someone in Slytherin to be so honest."John smiles, almost shyly.
"Well I can hardly be said to have much house spirit, points don't really bother me either way."
"You've been at quite a few Quidditch matches."John points out.
Sherlock controls another flush, annoyed with himself at being so tremendously pleased John's noticed him in the crowds.
"Yes, well an interest in sport doesn't necessarily mean I'm interested in any of my dim-witted house."
"You don't like being in Slytherin then?"
"I don't particularly care either way. I suppose I have the traits which Slytherin is supposed to value so highly."
"You're really clever though, you could've been Ravenclaw, I suppose. I was in your Defence Against the Dark Arts Class last year, when you actually corrected that Professor." John sounds admiring. Sherlock sneaks a glance at him, expecting to see that look of exasperation he generally sees on people's faces when he does anything other than sit quietly. Instead John actually looks impressed with him.
"Yes. Well. Anderson was a fool."
"Yeah, that he was. Still didn't deserve what happened to him though."
"If anyone is stupid enough to pick a fight with a Womping Willow just to show off, they deserve exactly what they get."
"What, their brains to get smashed through their arses?"
They start laughing.
"It can't have hurt that much, I'm not sure he had enough of a brain to make a serious impact when it smashed through his arse."
John laughs harder then shakes his head, trying to stop himself.
"We can't giggle over the death of a Professor." he says.
"You're the one who brought his arse up."They are off again, and Sherlock is amazed at how easy it is to speak to John.
"He's not the worst Defence teacher we've had though. Did you have Brunton? The one who got stuck in his own enchanted briefcase and was stuck there for most of Spring term?" John is smiling at the memory, the sun glinting in his blonde hair.
The rest of the lunch period passes with the pair of them chatting, somehow already comfortable in each other's presence. A few of John's friends call him from the other side of the grass and John gives them the universal understood between friends of 'give me a minute'. Sherlock can't help but feel smug, particularly when one of the girls, Sarah, is waved off and she adopts an expression akin to someone sucking a lemon. When the lesson bell rings she marches over, however, and takes John's good arm as he stands.
"Come on, John, we can't miss the start of Transfiguration." she eyes Sherlock sceptically, as if the fact that she and John are both wearing red and gold ties means that she has more of a right to talk to him.
"Yeah, coming. Hey, Sherlock," John calls as Sherlock has turned away to repack his satchel, "You want to go into Hogsmeade tomorrow? Take you for a drink to say thanks properly."
Sherlock stares at John for a second as the question sinks in. "Yes, that would be nice."
John beams at him and Sherlock has the biggest desire to peel Sarah's fingers of his arm and drag him off somewhere to do things that he had previously thought he'd had no interest in. Curious. He's also slightly worried that Sarah might know what he's thinking, by the way she is staring at him with venom in her expression.
John meets him at the gate at midday on Saturday wearing a black jacket, stripy jumper and jeans. Sherlock is wearing his coat. He loves his coat; he and his mother bought it on Oxford Street just before Christmas. He's not vain, but he equally knows that certain things don't really suit him, but the long dark fitted yet flared coat suits him down to the ground, making him look older than he actually is, swirling dramatically in even the slightest breeze. He gets annoyed he can't wear it with his uniform.
"Nice coat."John says.
"You look even more like a beanpole than normal."
"... thank you." Sherlock replies, dryly, knowing he's being teased. It's a novel experience.
John smiles his beguiling smile. "Sorry, it's the prerogative of all short people to make the tall feel self conscious about their height. It's a jealousy thing."
Sherlock wants to say that John is perfect at the height he is, but he's not entirely sure how to say that in a way that doesn't sound either fatuous or bordering on romantic so he settles for just smiling.
They spend an enjoyable time in one of the smaller pubs. They chat about a great number of subjects, school life, home life, muggles. Sherlock finds muggles fascinating and greatly dislikes many members of Slytherin for dismissing them. Muggles,Sherlock reasons, make brilliant music, food and clothes without magic. They are to be admired, if anything.
Obviously everyone recognises John and they get the occasional questioning glance from other students. Most leave them be, but one girl in a Gryffindor scarf stage whispers to her friend:"What's John Watson doing hanging round with The Freak?"
John's demeanour immediately changes when he hears that, his spine stiffening. Sherlock's heart sinks, but it was no more than he was expecting: John's going to realise that he's wasting his time with a social outcast, will fob him off with some banal 'I'll see you in History of Magic' and then never speak to him again. He's still looking down into his drink when John addresses the girl.
"I think John Watson's trying to have a drink in peace, with his friend, and doesn't appreciate people using nasty nicknames when they should know better."
The girl, a third year, flushes bright red, which clashes violently with the jumper she's wearing. Sherlock fights to keep a smile off his face. It's weird, he doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, never has, apart from this short, sporty, surprisingly funny and intelligent boy in front of him.
"S-sorry." the girl stammers, obviously not used to being chastised by the star of the Quidditch team. John raises his eyebrows at Sherlock, and Sherlock realises that it's his apology to accept.
"It's fine." Sherlock says, and the girl and her friends scurry off.
John winks at Sherlock as the door bangs shut and they both start laughing again.
"Sorry, just that kind of attitude pisses me off, you know? I heard her the other day in the common room banging on about how bad bullying is and then she takes the attitude that it's fine as long as someone's been deemed fair game. It's just utter crap. She only listened to me because I'm on the team, if I wasn't she'd have ignored me. And I know when you say you don't care what people say you actually don't care but it doesn't make it alright."
John looks contemplatively at his drink. "I suppose that's why it took me so long to get up the nerve to talk to you."
"How do you mean?"Sherlock frowns.
John licks his lip and shrugs self depreciatingly, but holds Sherlock's gaze. "You just always seemed so...disinterested in everyone around you. And I sort of... this sounds stupid, alright? But I thought you seemed interesting and I always wanted to talk to you but I was kind of worried about getting brushed off."
Sherlock isn't quite sure what he's supposed to say to that. In fact he's rather shocked by the knowledge that John has wanted to be friends with him, for maybe not quite as long as Sherlock, but still, longer than just last week.
"Sorry, if I've made you uncomfortable."John mumbles, looking embarrassed and no longer meeting Sherlock's eyes.
"No. No, it's not that. I'm just surprised, to be honest. I mean, of course I'm more interesting than most of the dullards you hang around with but... why are you laughing?"
"You, my friend, need to learn a lesson in humility."
Sherlock finds himself frowning again, despite feeling pleased that John has called him his friend. Twice. "You yourself owned that I seem interesting. Sorry, did I offend your boring friends?"
John grins at him. "So do I fall into the same category as them? Boring?" he asks, head tilted on one side, in an oddly adult, assessing manner.
"No, I think you're something else entirely."Sherlock replies as honestly as he can and is rewarded with a quietly pleased look from John. They both take a sip of their drinks.
"And what about me?"
"What about you?"
"What category do I fall into?" Sherlock can't help but feel like he's flirting with John. Which is insane, because he highly suspects John either has a girlfriend or is single and trying to pick which of the little bunch of girls that hang around after Quidditch practice to start seeing next.
"You? I'm tempted to say that you fall into the category of Trouble."
Well that didn't sound good. Still it was a fair assessment "Is that a problem?" he asks.
John smiles that magnetic smile once again. "No. It's fine. It's all fine."
Sherlock can't help but smile back.