Actions

Work Header

Prior Incantato

Chapter Text

A figure paused at the top of the street, shoulders hunched into its jacket.  Its head slowly shifted from one side to the other, considering options, before setting off straight ahead.  As it passed a single narrow alleyway, its shadow darted high and threatening over it, leading it toward a destination before shifting to follow behind.  Before long, the figure paused, hooded face lifting toward the building opposite.

The sandwich shop on the ground floor sat dark with its awning tucked away for the evening and its entrance shut to the night.  Though the outdoor light that sat between it and the flat next door was off, the glossy 221 lettering shone lightly from a street lamp a few feet down the pavement.  Upstairs, a soft glow the shade of a tempered fire lit the pair of windows that looked down on the street.  Movement shifted across one of them, a long arm reaching out to something unseen, and broke the light for the briefest moment.  A second arm joined it to pull it from view, and within minutes the light tapered down until the flat was dark.  The figure watching across the way remained.

It tucked hands into invisible pockets, head transfixed upwards to study the silent building.  Eventually, a soft rain began to fall.  The figure’s jacket grew limp, but still it stood.  A cab drove past, sending up a spray of water from the road and across the figure’s feet, seemingly pulling it from its trance.  It shook, once, before shooting 221 a final glance.  Setting off back down the street, it turned the corner and immediately vanished. 

Chapter Text

~Six Years Later~

John Watson groaned, one hand in his own hair and the other grasping around in the blankets around him.  He soon discovered the bump underneath them that was moving in steady up and down motions and clutched at it desperately through the fabric.  Sliding his other hand down the side of his face and neck to tuck it below the blanket, he guided it to the figure between his legs.  Fingers found a mass of curls and he dug into them, causing a muffled moan to sneak out from the opening in the blanket his arm had made.

A light tapping briefly distracted John, forcing him to crack a single eye open in search of the noise.  Unable to find a source, his attention returned to the ministrations below.  His next moan came alongside a trio of sharper taps, this time louder than before.  Both of his eyes shot open and his brows furrowed in confusion.  Before he could return his focus to the situation below, the tapping began again, now a continuous stream of noise.  John huffed out a sigh of frustration as he patted at the hidden head halfway down the bed.

“Sherlock…” he muttered, the end of the word shifting up half an octave as the body creating the lump shot up and out from under the blankets.  Sherlock Holmes glared around the bedroom, his hair a terror of frizzy curls and his lips wet and red.  He licked them as he narrowed his eyes at the window, where an owl shaped shadow seemed to be glaring right back.  Before either of them could move, a dull pounding of tiny footsteps echoed from the ceiling and grew louder the closer they got.  Sherlock’s head snapped to the door and his eyes grew wide as he quickly ducked back under the covers just as it burst open to reveal a tawny haired child.

“DA!  Are you awa- IS THAT AN OWL?!”  Cecelia Watson darted to the window with a squeal, pulling at the latch to let the bird in.  The owl ruffled its feathers with a low hoot and swooped into the room, immediately heading towards the bed.  Cecelia clapped and chased after it, waiting for it to drop its letter.  As soon as it had, directly on John’s head, she asked, “Can I, Da?”

“Yes, but be very careful, darling,” John replied, shooting the owl a scowl over Cecelia’s head.  “I don’t recognize this owl so I don’t know if it’ll bite.”

With a solemn nod, Cecelia rushed into the kitchen and returned with their bag of owl treats.  The bird watched on, intrigued, from where it had landed on top of the dresser and eventually glided down to the floor, tentatively hopping along towards Cecelia.  She held out a treat with a flat and steady palm, ready to be taken once the owl decided she wasn’t a threat, and waited breathlessly for its approach.  It reached out its beak slowly and snatched up the treat to nibble on as it and Cecelia eyed each other.  Within seconds it hopped closer, allowing Cecelia to stroke its back.

John kept one eye on them as he broke the seal on the parchment, noting the Hogwarts crest stamped into the wax.  He absentmindedly patted the bump that was Sherlock still below the blankets as he read.  A low purring of approval made its way out from under the covers and John grinned, shifting to reach his hand under to properly grab at him.  Just as he did, Cecelia appeared at their bedside.

“Da, where’s Papa?” she asked, searching the bed.  John panicked for a moment, clutching the blankets closer, but before he could respond, Sherlock popped back out, his hair somewhat tamed and face composed.

“Here’s your sock, John,” he said as he handed the item over.  “Honestly, why do you even bother wearing them to bed if you always kick them off and lose them…good morning, Cecelia.”

“Morning, Papa!” she responded with a large smile, her bright blue eyes that matched Mary’s exactly shining brightly.  She waved behind her at the owl that was slowly making its way over to the discarded bag of treats that sat by the door.  “Do you know what kind of owl this is?”

As Sherlock untangled himself from the bed, John turned his full attention to the letter.  His eyebrows rose the further along he read, his focus enough that he didn’t notice Sherlock letting the owl back out the window and guiding Cecelia into the kitchen.  Once he’d reached the letter’s end, he glanced up to say something to Sherlock and found himself alone.  Letting out a disappointed sigh at the blowjob that wasn’t meant to be, he pulled his sleep trousers back up around his waist and got out of bed to follow the noises in the kitchen.

Sherlock had already started the coffee pot and settled Cecelia with a bowl of cereal by the time he arrived.  He came to stand at Sherlock’s side, who instantly pulled him in closer with an arm wrapped around John’s waist, and John offered him the letter.  While Sherlock read, John grabbed the mugs and sugar from his spot in Sherlock’s grip, pulling him along if he couldn’t quite reach.  By the time John was pouring them each a cup, Sherlock had lowered the letter to study John’s face.

“Hogwarts?” he simply asked, keeping his voice low.  John shrugged and took a large sip. 

“We can talk about it properly once Cecelia’s off to Jeannette’s; she and her mum should be coming by to get her soon.  We can sit down and discuss it together then.”

Sherlock nodded and spun around to face Cecelia.  “Have you got your project ready to bring along?”

Cecelia shoveled the last bite of her cereal into her mouth and shot up.  “Nearly, I’ve just got to get the pictures sorted.  I numbered them, just like you showed me, but they’re kinda…”

“Kinda all over your bedroom floor?” Sherlock asked with a raised brow.  Cecelia stuck her tongue out at him and ran away, giggling her way up the stairs.  John watched with a grin and pulled Sherlock into him, his back flush with John’s front.

“It’s always amusing watching you scold her about tidiness.  As though you have any right.”

“She ought to keep her experiment notes organized.”

“Pot, kettle,” John replied, squeezing Sherlock’s middle and setting a soft kiss on his neck before breaking away.  “What do you say to bacon?  We’re gonna need something more than coffee if we’re gonna get through that letter.”

Sherlock hummed and said, “There’s broccoli and a fresh bag of cheddar in the fridge – omelets?”

“Never thought I’d hear you willingly ask for vegetables,” John muttered as he dug around in the fridge.  Before Sherlock could reply, Cecelia was back, dressed with her backpack slung over her shoulder.

“Did you remember everything?” Sherlock asked, his hands on his hips as he attempted to make his voice stern.  Cecelia bounced up on her toes and nodded.  “Pictures?”

“Check.”

“Notebook?”

“Check.”

“Mould culture?”

“PAPA!”

Sherlock sighed and rolled his eyes.  “Very well.  I suppose Jeannette wouldn’t appreciate a slide of decomposing plant life as much as we do.”

From the stove, John added, “Her mother certainly wouldn’t.”  Downstairs, the doorbell buzzed and they heard Mrs. Hudson talking to whoever was outside.  Cecelia ran to the main door to look before rushing back to the kitchen.

“They’re here!  Bye Papa!”  Sherlock bent down obediently so she could kiss his cheek.  “Bye Da!”  John stepped away from the stove just long enough for her to do the same with him.  As she rushed down the stairs, Sherlock followed as far as their door to watch.

"Be good, bee, and have Jeannette’s mum message me if you spot anything suspicious!”  Cecelia’s giggle followed him as he shut the door, a broad smile on his face.

“You do that just to annoy her mum, don’t you?” John asked, dishing their food out onto plates.

“Of course.  Horrible woman.  Blatantly homophobic.  The only reason she lets Jeannette be friends with Cecelia is because she thinks we’re well off, between the cases we’ve solved and you being a doctor.”

John snorted and nodded Sherlock to his chair.  “I knew there was a reason I didn’t like her.  At least her daughter’s the complete opposite.”

“That’s because her father’s having an affair with his male business partner and she knows about it.  She’s a clever girl; she’s aware that her father is the better of her two parents, despite the infidelity.”

John chuckled and kissed the top of Sherlock’s curls before taking his own seat.  “You’re the real clever one, you git.  Now eat.”

They both began eating in companionable silence.  Once Sherlock saw John take his final bite of omelet, he set aside his fork and steepled his hands.  “So.  Poppy Pomfrey?”

John sighed and picked up his mug, cradling it without taking a drink.  “She’s the nurse at Hogwarts, has been for years.  I’m surprised she hasn’t retired yet, honestly, although usually anyone working at Hogwarts either does it for life or only stops when they physically can’t keep up with it.  She’s amazingly good, definitely could have become a proper Healer if she’d wanted.  Looks like she might be getting ready to possibly rest for once.  Maybe she wants to give it a try to see if she enjoys it?”

“So…let me see if I understand this correctly.”  Resting his hands flat on the table, Sherlock stared down at them intently.  “Hogwarts’ nurse wishes to take a sabbatical of sorts, needs a replacement on a temporary basis, and has contacted you to become that replacement.  Should you take the job, you would be relocating to Hogwarts for the entirety of the school year, leaving Cecelia and I here to wait for your return, as long as you aren’t offered the full position should she decide to officially retire.”

“No!  God, no.”  John quickly set down his mug to reach out and clasp Sherlock’s hands in his own, stroking his thumbs along his knuckles.  “Love, you and Cecelia would come with me, of course you would.  Plenty of other Hogwarts employees have family close by, and I could never even consider taking any sort of position that would take me away from the two of you.”

Sherlock frowned, staring down at their joined hands, and nodded.  “Very well.  Then it would simply be a matter of deciding to leave Mrs. Hudson, Baker Street, and the work.”

“Which is why this needs to be a choice we make together.”  John studied him for a moment before standing, pulling Sherlock along with him.  “Come on, let’s move to the sofa.  I want to hold you.”

Following without comment, Sherlock let John lead him into the sitting room.  John positioned himself with his back against the sofa’s arm and settled Sherlock between his legs, his head and back resting against John’s shoulder and chest.  He gave Sherlock a squeeze and cleared his throat.

“Right.  Unfortunately, leaving Mrs. H and Baker Street would be a guarantee, at least for me.  Some of the professors Apparate home once classes finish each day, but as the Healer for the school, I would be required to remain on hand almost constantly in case of an emergency.  We certainly could visit, and obviously once the year is up we would come back, but for the actual school year, we’d be living at Hogwarts.  That bit we wouldn’t be able to compromise.  But the work…at least for you, I think we could figure it out.”

“The work’s not the work without you, John.”

John smiled into Sherlock’s neck.  “I’d still help, just…in a less active way.  You’ll always be able to use me as a sounding board, you’d just have to bring me photos and video of crime scenes rather than dragging me along to see it live.  But if we work it out with Lestrade – “  John froze, causing Sherlock to shift around and stare up at him.

“John?  What’s wrong?”

“We’d have to tell them,” John muttered, staring vacantly at the wall.  “All of them.  Mrs. Hudson, Greg, Molly…they’d never let us just leave without knowing why, or even just without an idea of where we’re going.  God, that would break so many of the laws under the Statute of Secrecy…”

“Don’t worry about that, Mycroft can take care of whatever might be involved.”

John groaned and ran a hand down his face.  “It’s not just that.  We’d have to tell them we’re wizards, Sherlock.  How are they going to take that?”

Sherlock turned back around and settled himself deeper against John’s chest.  “I suppose we should simply tell them the truth.  The three of them are really the only ones who ought to know – surely after years of what we’ve all gone through, they would be accepting of this.”

Sighing, John buried his face into Sherlock’s shoulder.  “They might.  If they react the way you did, I don’t think we’d be too badly off.  I’d rather not have to be in any small skirmishes to reveal I’ve got magic, though.”

Gently pushing him up and around, John shifted Sherlock until they were facing each other.  “Tell me honestly that you don’t want to go and we won’t, Sherlock.  The opportunity is a great one, but it won’t be worth shit if you or Cecelia are miserable.”

“As long as we’re with you, we could never be miserable.”

John smiled and cradled Sherlock’s face in his hands.  “Romantic sap.  But really, you would be okay at Hogwarts?  Away from London and Baker Street for so long?”

Sherlock remained silent for a long moment, watching John’s expression carefully as he thought.  Finally, he gave John a faint nod.  “I would be, yes.  I could finally see and learn about Hogwarts first hand, experience the library and discover its corridors and classrooms.  Cecelia would need to be taught while we’re gone – I could continue what we’ve already begun and along with it she could experience magic far more easily in her everyday life.  She deserves a chance to see and live in this other world and decide if she’d like to make it hers eventually.”

John broke out in a smile, pulling Sherlock in for a kiss.  He lingered for a moment, barely pulling away far enough to speak his words against Sherlock’s mouth.  “Thank you, love.  This means a lot.  It’s been years since I’ve been able to use my magic to heal.”

“Just about six years, isn’t it?” Sherlock remarked with a grin.  John laughed and kissed him again. 

“I’m sure there will be plenty of spell grazes much like yours, not to mention much more complicated injuries.  I heard that Harry lost all the bones in his arm once.”

Sherlock pulled back to gape at him.  “You can’t be serious.  How the hell did that happen?”

“An idiot professor tried to fix a break and made it worse, apparently.  I can definitely guarantee I won’t be as rubbish as that.”

Sherlock’s face softened as he smiled.  “You’ll be brilliant, John.”

Nuzzling into Sherlock’s neck, John pulled him back down to fully lie on the sofa.  “Thanks, baby.  We’ll see.”  For several minutes they simply remained entwined together, the dishes in the kitchen forgotten in favour of warm bodies and softly stroking hands.  As John toyed with the end of one of Sherlock’s curls, his eyes settled on various spots in their home, a fond smile ticking up one side of his mouth.  He tightened his grip to scratch at Sherlock’s scalp.  “Will you take your skull?”

Sherlock humphed and rubbed his face into John’s chest.  “Of course, I could never leave Billy behind.  Or my violin.”

“That’ll be a sight, you silhouetted in a Hogwarts tower window, the notes of the violin echoing in the stone corridors.  I doubt it’s something they get to experience often up there.”

“We’d be staying right at Hogwarts, then?” Sherlock asked excitedly, lifting his head just enough to meet John’s eyes.

“Well, I’ll have to for sure…I know Poppy’s got an office and living quarters right off the hospital wing so that she’s available any time there might be a problem.  I think most of the professors’ families live down in Hogsmeade – “

“No,” Sherlock interrupted, pushing himself up onto his elbows.  “We’ll stay with you.  I can’t imagine being that far away, not now after how much work went into becoming this.  I couldn’t…I can’t, John.  We have to stay with you.”

“Shh, love, you will, of course darling.”  His hand shifted from Sherlock’s scalp to the back of his neck, bringing his head down to rub their cheeks together reassuringly.  “God, I remember living without you and it was awful; I plan on making sure that never happens again.”  He waited until Sherlock had calmed down again before guiding him back to make eye contact once more.  “Let’s clean up and get dressed, yeah?  I can write Poppy a response and we’ll figure out a way to tell everyone while we make a stop down to Diagon Alley to send it.”

With a nod, Sherlock pushed himself to his feet and headed for the bedroom, John following close behind.

~~~

A few hours later, the pair walked arm in arm down Charing Cross Road, halfheartedly searching for a free cab but mostly enjoying one another’s company and the bright August day.  After sending the letter accepting Poppy’s proposal, they had meandered around Diagon Alley, darting between students and their families taking care of school shopping as they went.  While Sherlock restocked his supplies at the apothecary, John stood outside observing the teenagers, wondering how many of them he would be meeting soon and daydreaming of shopping for those same supplies with Cecelia in a few years.  It had become clear very early on that she shared her birth parents’ magical ability, reaching the point now where she was nearly as good at simple wandless magic as Sherlock was.  It had taken quite a bit of work to get her to understand that she could only use her magic at home, but now at nearly seven years old she could both control and hide it well.

“I think you should tell Mrs. Hudson first,” Sherlock said suddenly as he squinted across the street at Foyle’s.  John knew he wanted to go in and investigate what sorts of older books they might have on display that day, but the time in the afternoon in the summer meant the shop was filled with tourists.  He sniffed and went back to watching their path forward instead, clearly deciding it wouldn’t be worth the effort.  John guided them towards Denmark Street, hoping to avoid the madness of Oxford Street.

“I agree.  Why just me, though?”

Sherlock shrugged and stopped them in front of one of the many music shops on the road to study the instruments displayed in the window.  “It seems more appropriate.  We wouldn’t have found out about my magic without me learning about yours first.  Of course, if you’d like me to come with you I will, but you would be more suited to actually explaining the situation to her.”

“You just don’t want to deal with her crying all over you when she finds out we’re leaving,” John said with a smirk that grew wider when Sherlock glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.  John laughed and pulled him along by Sherlock’s hand resting in his bent elbow.  “Yeah, all right, it’s my fault we’re going so I might as well be the one to deal with the emotional reaction.  What about Greg and Molly?”

“I suspect that a crime scene is out of the question…”

“Yeah, let’s not give Greg a bloody heart attack while he’s on the job.”  Spotting a small, unoccupied churchyard, John led Sherlock along to sit side by side on one of the benches.  “I suppose we could ask them over for dinner sometime, maybe even make a going away party out of it.  We could have Mycroft and James over as well, have Mycroft as a sort of additional support…”

Sherlock’s nose scrunched into a wrinkle of distaste.  “I suppose we ought to, as much as I’d rather not.  You know how revolting it is to see the pair of them together, draping over each other like a pair of overeager teenagers.”

“Oi, that’s your brother-in-law and one of my best mates you’re talking about.  Besides, you know we’d need to see them at some point before we leave, not to mention that we’re hardly any better than them.  We’re better off just taking care of everything in one go rather than having to drag out the explanations over multiple discussions.”

“True.  Very well, I’ll let my brother and his much more delightful husband know to expect an invitation soon.  James ought to be told as well anyway, if Mycroft hasn’t spilled the entirety of our private lives to him already.”

“Right, well, if I’m going to tell Mrs. H, we should head back home.  We’ve only got a few hours left before Cecelia will be back and we’ve still got to tell her as well.”

With a nod, Sherlock rose to his feet and led them back to the road, where he instantly brought a cab forward to wait for their approach.  As they situated themselves and Sherlock told the cabbie their destination, John stared unseeing out the window, planning out what he would say to both Mrs. Hudson and Cecelia when they returned.

~~~

Once home, Sherlock immediately headed up to their flat and picked up his violin, the sounds of an unknown piece gliding down to John at the front door.  Taking a steeling breath, John straightened his back and headed for 221a, giving the door a sharp knock.

Mrs. Hudson answered almost instantly, wearing an apron and wiping her hands on a tea towel.  “John!  Come in, dear, I’ve just finished up with a batch of chocolate scones.  I know how your two loves adore anything sweet.”

“They’ll be thrilled,” John replied as he closed the door behind him and sat at the kitchen table.  “Ah, actually, the reason I stopped by was to tell you something that’s come up for the three of us.”

“Of course, what is it?” she asked over her shoulder as she continued to wash dishes from her baking.

“I’ve been offered a job,” he began, deciding to be straight to the point.  She set the bowl she had been cleaning aside to clap her hands and turn to face John with an enormous smile.

“Oh John, how wonderful!  I’m sure it will be such a good opportunity for you all.”

“Yeah, I think it will…the only thing is, it’s in Scotland.”  John watched her face fall as she walked over to sit down opposite him.

“You’d be leaving Baker Street, then?”  Her hands shook slightly where they sat folded on the table.  John reached out to grab them and squeeze them reassuringly.

“Yes, but only for a year.  Not even that, really, more like ten months, just for the length of a school year.  It’s at a school, you see…the one I went to when I was young, actually.”

Her face brightened once more.  “That’s perfectly fine then, dear!  It sounds like the ideal opportunity for you.  Does that mean you’ll be teaching?”

“Not quite – I’ll be the Healer, er, doctor on duty.  But there’s something else, that I’ve kept from you and even Sherlock for a while, too.”  He took a deep breath, firming his resolve, before meeting her eyes.  “I’m a wizard.”

She stared at him blankly for a moment, long enough that John worried he’d shocked her too much with his bluntness.  He was about to get to his feet to check on her properly when suddenly she burst into giggles.  It was John’s turn to gape as tears rolled down her face in her attempt to calm her laughter.  Eventually they subsided into the occasional chuckle as she looked at him with fond, if somewhat watery, eyes.

“Oh my dear, didn’t you realize I already knew?” she said, shocking John even more.  “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of you are very subtle about it.  Cecelia I could understand, I can’t imagine she knows how to control it properly when she’s so young, but surely wherever you learned it taught you to check downstairs that your landlady wasn’t in before crashing things about and making a ruckus.  The number of times I’ve caught one or both of you waving one of those sticks – a wand, I suppose?  Yes, I thought as much, knew it had to be – around as I left the flat or came up for something or other is frankly ridiculous.”

John blinked a few times before managing to find his voice.  “I…don’t know what to say.  Sorry?”

“It’s no trouble at all, John, really.  It isn’t as though you were disturbing anyone or anything more than usual once magic was involved.  And regardless of how careful you might have been, I’ve looked after Cecelia on my own.  The day she floated her glass of milk over to her without a second thought I realized she must have gotten it from you.”

“Both me and Mary, actually – wait, hold on.”  John tugged at his hair, a trait he’d picked up from Sherlock over time, and successfully ruined the swooped back look he had been favouring recently.  “If you’ve known for God only knows how long, why haven’t you said anything about it?!”

“You never mentioned it, so I assumed it was meant to be a secret.  If you wished to discuss it, I knew you would in your own time.”

John sighed and rose to his feet.  “Right, yeah, okay.  Anyway, I’ve been offered a temp job at my old wizarding school and I’m going to take it.  We’ll make arrangements for Mycroft to make sure the rent’s taken care of while we’re gone.  I’m due there in a little less than a month, but we’re planning on having a small do before we leave as a farewell and to explain to the others.  Sherlock and I both thought you ought to be told first.”

Mrs. Hudson followed him to standing and hugged him briefly.  “That’s so thoughtful of you, dear, but you needn’t have worried yourself.  I’m sure the others will take it splendidly as well.  And don’t you worry about the flat, I’ll keep it in perfect condition for when you return.”

“Yeah, thanks.  We’ll let you know about the party, okay?”

“Please do – I’ll be sure to make a cake for everyone!  You get upstairs and celebrate with your man, now, while you’ve both a few moments alone.”  She waved him off out the door and returned to her dishes, humming as she busied herself with finishing.  John shook his head again before heading upstairs to where the violin music was gradually coming to its conclusion.

“How did it go?” Sherlock asked as John came in and slouched down into his chair.  John huffed out a laugh and patted his thigh, silently requesting that Sherlock join him.  Sherlock placed his violin back in its case and draped himself across John’s lap, tucking his face into his neck and wrapping his arms around his neck.

“Well.  Really well, actually.  She already knew, in fact.”

“Wait, really?”  Sherlock pulled away from John’s neck in his surprise.  “How?”

“Caught us and Cecelia at it, apparently.”  John laughed again and ran his hand up and down Sherlock’s back.  “I suppose we really are rubbish at the whole secrecy thing, particularly when we’re here at home.”

Sherlock hummed and leaned back into John’s touch.  “At least that meant she wasn’t surprised when you told her.  I did say you had nothing to worry about.”

“Yes, I suppose you did.”  Downstairs, another ring at the front door followed by Mrs. Hudson’s voice told them that Cecelia was home early.  “So much for that alone time Mrs. H suggested.  You ready to tell our daughter the news?”

Without answering, Sherlock’s eyes lit up and he jumped up from his comfortable position to launch himself toward the door.

Chapter Text

Roughly a week later, John paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, desperately fighting the urge to run his hand through his hair and ruin it.  Greg and Molly were due any moment and Mycroft had just texted to say they too were on their way.  One bottle of wine sat open and resting beside the waiting food on the kitchen table, another chilling in the fridge.  John itched to go pour himself a glass, but he knew Sherlock would scold him for worrying too much if he saw.  As soon as he heard Sherlock and Cecelia’s footsteps coming down from her room, he froze and threw himself into his chair in an attempt at casual indifference.

From Sherlock’s frown, John knew he hadn’t succeeded.  As Cecelia skipped over to the coffee table to continue her colouring from earlier, twirling her dark violet dress as she went, Sherlock walked over to stand behind John’s chair.  He leaned down to wrap his arms around John’s chest, stroking along the smooth cashmere of his jumper.

“It will be fine,” he muttered into John’s ear, rubbing his nose against it.  John slowly blew out the breath he’d been holding and shifted to rest his temple against Sherlock’s cheek.  “They are our friends, by some mad chance, and they have experienced far worse from us than this.  At least no one has died this time.”

“Thank God,” John chuckled.  Raising his voice, he called over to Cecelia, “You look lovely, Síleas.”

“Thanks Da!” she called back without looking up from her colouring.  “Papa helped me with the zip up the back and we made sure my shoes were nice and shiny.  He showed me the wand movements and let me try it and everything!”

John glanced up at Sherlock over his head, who had the decency to blush as he avoided John’s eyes.  “He did, did he?  I thought we agreed no more spell practice in the flat.”

“It was just a little one, John,” Sherlock muttered under his breath.  “I thought, with it being up in her room…”

“It’s fine, love, I don’t mind.”  John leaned up to kiss him on the cheek and nearly jumped from his chair when the door opened downstairs.  Sherlock squeezed his shoulder reassuringly one more time before straightening and turning just as Molly and Greg entered, Mrs. Hudson and her cake close behind.

“Evening, gentlemen,” Greg said as he took Molly’s coat and hung it on the stand.  “I’m assuming that whatever news you’ll be sharing tonight will explain why you’ve both been so anxious the last few days.”

“Yeah, it should, we hope,” John said as he stood with a glance at Sherlock.  “Can I get you both anything?  Wine?  Water?  Juice?  I made sure to get something that both you can Cecelia could have too, Molly.  I wasn’t sure what would be best…Greg mentioned that you were having trouble keeping some things down.”

Molly placed a hand over her slightly protruding belly.  “Thanks, John.  Luckily the morning sickness has passed; it really was awful a few weeks ago.”

“The first months can be hell for sure,” John agreed.  “And then the last few as well, for different reasons.  The good news is, you should be fairly well off until the third trimester hits; enjoy the second one, it’ll be the best.”

Greg and Molly smiled at each other and John left them to their happy glow as he went to pour drinks for everyone.  By the time he got back, they were situated on the sofa, and Mycroft and James were just walking in.  Instantly Cecelia rushed to the door and stood before Thor, who waited patiently at James’ feet for the appropriate command.  The second James unhooked the leash, the two were playing together on the floor.  Within minutes, everyone was settled comfortably throughout the room, chatting amicably together.

Sherlock strolled over to where John was sipping his wine and leaning against the mantle.  “Shall we?  It won’t get any easier the longer we wait.”

John took his hand and gave it a squeeze before stepping in front of everyone.  The room quickly fell silent except for Cecelia humming to herself as she lay on her stomach on the floor, kicking her feet and colouring with Thor at her side.  Everyone else watched John expectantly and Sherlock placed himself close to John’s side for reassurance.

“There’s actually a reason we wanted to ask all of you here tonight,” John began nervously.  Before he could get very far, however, Greg interrupted him.

“Are you two finally getting married, then?” he asked with an enormous grin.  James leaned forward in his chair to study Sherlock’s hands.

“Nope, not yet, not unless they forwent the rings,” James commented.  “If he’s anything like his brother, Sherlock would only take it off on pain of death.”

“As you are all aware,” Sherlock cut in, his expression blank, “we’ve decided that given John’s past in regard to marriage, we would like to avoid it for the time being.  Just because all of you have said your I do’s doesn’t mean we must.”

John swallowed and clenched his left hand into a fist, glancing down at the floor.  “Ah, no, not that, not yet, sorry.  It’s actually…well, there’s something…Sherlock and I…are…”

“Da’s got a new job and we’re going to Hogwarts,” Cecelia interrupted matter-of-factly.  She didn’t even look up from the pages in front of her as she spoke.  Everyone glanced from her back to John, who shrugged.

“She’s not wrong.  But that’s not all.  Sherlock and I – and Cecelia, technically – we’re wizards.”

Mycroft, as expected, remained stoically unresponsive.  James blinked and glanced at him from the corner of his eye, but his expression remained open and interested.  Greg and Molly, meanwhile, shot each other guilty looks before distracting themselves with their drinks.  John looked from one person to another before breathing out a laugh that was half disbelief and half frustration.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” John muttered, just loud enough to be heard.  Cecelia sat up quickly to gape at him while Sherlock crossed his arms with a glare.

“Da!” Cecelia said, her voice scandalized.  “Language!”

“Yes, Da, language,” Sherlock agreed with narrowed eyes.  “Obviously we should have expected that if Mrs. Hudson was aware of our magic, others close to us might be as well.”

“But seriously, you all knew?” John asked the room.  Nearly everyone shifted uncomfortably in their seats.  “Why didn’t anyone say anything?”

“To be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anything about it,” James cut in, turning to Mycroft.  “Why didn’t you tell me, darling?”

Mycroft placed his hand on James’ knee, a genuinely regretful expression on his face.  “I am sorry, James.  I should have, I know, but it simply never came up after I revealed I work for the Ministry.”

James nodded with a soft smile and kissed Mycroft’s cheek in reply.  Sherlock rolled his eyes and turned fully to John, a look of utmost disgust on his face.  Greg, meanwhile, drained the last of his wine and shot Mycroft a look.  “Should have guessed he was part of the wizarding government as well as the Muggle one.  Are you a wizard too?”

As Mycroft shook his head no, John’s head shot up from where he’d been hanging it to stare at Greg.  “Wait…Muggle?  How the hell do you know the word Muggle?”  The room fell quiet as Greg’s mouth gaped open, his face paling.  He looked to Molly, who grabbed his hand reassuringly, before visibly gulping and wincing at John.

“I, um…may know about the wizarding world.  A bit.  More than a lot of people, actually.”

Without looking, John felt around for his chair until he found the arm and sat down on it heavily.  “Right.  So you’re a wizard too?”

“No, no, I would have told you two if I was,” Greg hurriedly explained.  “I’m…well, I’m a Squib.  A dishonoured one, if we’re being completely honest.”

“A Squib, of course,” John huffed, losing the battle with himself to run his hand through his hair.  “So which family are you from?  If you’re dishonoured, it’s got to be one of the ones that think they’re better than everyone else.  I swear to God if you end up being a direct relative of Mary’s…”

“You’re not going to like it, John,” Greg said, his voice steadier than it was when he began.  “I can tell you that much for sure.  Do you really want to know?”  When John simply stared back at him, Greg sighed.  “When I changed my name to Lestrade, it wasn’t that much of a stretch from my original last name.”

“Lestr…no.”  John shot to his feet, acting as though he was about to start pacing.  Instead, he shook his head, muttered, “No,” again, and walked from the room.  They heard his footsteps hurry across the kitchen floor before fading behind the firm snap of the closed bedroom door.  Greg held his head in his hands, Molly worriedly rubbing his back, and Sherlock approached him.

“Are you a from a death eater family?” he asked bluntly.  Greg’s shoulders stiffened at the mention of Voldemort’s henchmen, but he nodded in response.  Sherlock sighed and sat on the arm of the sofa beside him.  “You’ll have to go talk to him.  You’re a Squib; you’re not at fault for who your family is and what they have done.  John will understand.”

“How can he?” Greg asked, pushing himself to his feet to loom over Sherlock.  “You don’t understand, Sherlock, my family is actual shit, the horrible things they’ve done – “  He stopped to swallow, clenching his eyes shut in an attempt to control himself.  “My family has killed his friends and done worse to others.  He has every right to hate me for it.”

Sherlock slowly stood once more and placed a hesitant hand on his shoulder.  “Go talk to him.”

With a sigh, Greg nodded and slowly made his way to the bedroom.  Sherlock stood watching him silently as he went.  Cecelia pushed herself to her feet and came to stand at his side, glancing between Sherlock and Greg with enormous eyes.  Without breaking his gaze, Sherlock knelt to pick her up and hold her close, stroking her back reassuringly.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tightly, her own small sign of reassurance to him.

In the darkened hallway, Greg hesitated before the closed bedroom door.  Straightening his back, he gave it a single sharp rap with his knuckle and waited for a response.  He could hear John pacing on the other side, but as soon as he knocked John’s footsteps came to a halt.  When he heard no other response, Greg knocked again.  “John, please, give me a chance to explain.  You deserve to know the truth, even if you hate me for it.”

Eventually John pulled the door open, not meeting Greg’s eyes as he immediately went to sit on the edge of the bed.  Greg hovered in the doorway, not sure whether he should join him before steeling himself and entering.  He left a large enough space between them so that he had time to duck should John take a swing at him, but he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“What’s your real name?” John asked, steady and straight to the point.  Greg toyed with the cuff of his shirt sleeve and stared straight ahead of him, studying the periodic table on the wall sightlessly.

“Renatus Lestrange,” Greg replied without emotion.  “My brothers are – were, I have no idea if either of them is still alive – Rodolphus and Rabastan.  Fucking ridiculous, all of these antique mouthfuls of names, but it was tradition.  Anyway, they’re awful, all of them, and I’ve hated them my entire life.  I’m sure you know how shit they are to Muggles or even half-bloods – as soon as they realized I didn’t have any magic, I was no better.  They basically just kept me shut away in the house all the time, away from anyone who visited in case they could tell I didn’t have any powers.  God, it was just…horrible.”  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, clenching his fists on his knees.  “When they ignored me, which was most of the time, it was almost okay, but the other times…they were disgusted by me.  It was a bit like I was just another one of the house elves, but they couldn’t boss me around without me fighting back.

“At least they did let me go to Muggle school, so I wasn’t completely useless and I got a chance to get away from that hell house.  The second I turned seventeen, I left, grabbed as much shit of any value I could, packed up my clothes, and just walked away.  I doubt they even cared about what I stole because at least it meant that I was gone.  They probably didn’t even bother looking for me once I left.”

“Greg, I’m so sorry – “

“No, you don’t apologise to me,” Greg interrupted, anger strong in his voice.  “You aren’t the one who ought to be apologising.  You’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and I can’t accept an apology for that, not from you.”

“You deserve an apology regardless, though.  You didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were; no one does.  You got the shit end of the deal and paid for it way too much.”

“I dunno, mate…if I’d done something, tried harder to stop them – “

“No way.”  John shuffled closer to clap him on the shoulder.  “You were born a certain way and should have been valued for that.  You didn’t choose to be born a Squib any more than I chose to be born a wizard.  You should never feel badly for what you are or who you’ve become.”

“What they’ve done – “

“Is their problem, not yours.  Jesus, Greg, you’re a bloody amazing officer and a more than decent friend.  The fact that you’ve turned out so well growing up around all of that is proof of how amazing your character is.”

Greg nodded and attempted to compose himself.  Once he’d found his voice, he finally turned to fully face John.  “I know your parents were killed by a group of death eaters.  Were any of them…”

“None, I promise.  Though I may have dueled with both your brother and his wife at one point.”

 Chuckling, Greg rubbed his face to conceal the tears at the corners of his eyes.  “Did you win?”

“I think I knocked Rodolphus out, but Bellatrix…mate, she could fucking duel.”

“I would’ve loved to see his face when that happened.”  Greg stared down at his lap for a moment before shooting John a frown of indecision.  “Are…they alive?  Rodolphus or…anyone else?”

“Bellatrix isn’t, but I think Rodolphus is in Azkaban.  I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about your other brother.”

“No, that’s fine, it’s…I just needed to know.  I may hate them, but they are still my family.”  Letting out a sigh, Greg offered his hand for John to shake.  “Thank you for listening and understanding, John.  I can’t say how much I appreciate it.”

John took Greg’s hand in both of his.  “We can’t choose our families, Greg.  What they’ve done isn’t your fault and you’ve more than made up for it.”

“That was why I joined the force, actually.  I couldn’t do anything in the wizarding world, but if I became a police officer in the Muggle world, I could at least do something.”  Greg studied John carefully before continuing.  “You know why I chose Gregory as my new name?”  When John shook his head, Greg explained.  “It means watchman.  I saw it and just knew it was supposed to be mine.  I kept Renatus as a middle name because it means reborn, which is what it felt like to basically just start over.  I couldn’t stay Lestrange, it was too difficult, but I found the name Lestrade when I was in uni and thought it was close enough to remind me of where I came from without keeping its legacy.”

“You’re a strong man, Gregory Lestrade.”  Greg grinned weakly at the comment.  “I’m sorry I walked away, it just was too much.  First getting contacted by Hogwarts, then finding out Mrs. Hudson already knew about us, and everyone else…”

“Nah, mate, it’s fine.  Wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.  At least you didn’t hex me out the door.”

A knock on the door frame brought their attention to Sherlock standing there, Cecelia still curled up in his arms.  “Cecelia was wondering if you two were finished with your talk so we could cut into Mrs. Hudson’s cake.  It’s her special chocolate raspberry crème one and she’s growing impatient.”

“Not just me, Papa,” Cecelia piped in.  “Both of us.” 

Sherlock rolled his eyes, but he was smiling.  “Yes, I would like some cake as well.  Are you happy?”

She simply grinned up at him and squirmed until he set her down.  As soon as she was on the ground, she raced into the kitchen, calling behind her for them to follow.  Sherlock looked between Greg and John, concern causing his eyebrows to furrow.  John stood from the bed, pulling Greg with him, and walked over to stand in front of Sherlock.

“Don’t worry, love, it’s fine.  We’re fine.”

Sherlock nodded and looked over John’s shoulder at Greg.  “You’re a Lestrange.”

“Figured that out on your own, did you?” Greg said as way of reply.  Sherlock rolled his eyes and wrapped his arm around John’s waist.

“As long as you two have worked out your little emotional issue, that’s all I care about.  The last thing I need is my partner and my detective inspector caught up in a tiff.”

“Aw, his detective inspector.”  Greg elbowed John’s free side and grinned.  “Not to worry, John’s forgiven me for having a piece of shit family.”

“If I hated everyone who had a shit family, I probably wouldn’t even be with Sherlock.  Did you know what his brother did when he was a kid?”

“Time for cake!” Sherlock declared loudly enough to carry through the kitchen and into the sitting room.  John laughed as he was pulled along, glancing over his shoulder at Greg.  He watched as the previous tension hardening his face finally faded into his normal weathered expression.  They nodded a final time to one another before finally rejoining the rest of the group to celebrate.

Chapter Text

Nearly a month spent packing and getting everything organized didn’t feel like nearly enough, but soon September approached and the last of what would be coming with them from Baker Street had been sent on to Hogwarts.  All that remained was to grab their bag of essentials and give a final tearful goodbye to Mrs. Hudson.  Once she had finally bid them farewell, squeezing Cecelia in a nearly bone cracking hug, and returned to her flat, all they needed to do was a last check of the flat before taking a Floo to Hogwarts.

John shut the door after seeing Mrs. Hudson off and turned to watch Sherlock.  He stood beside the table surveying the room, his face thoughtful as he let his eyes dart from one object to another.  The majority of their furniture would be remaining at 221b, the necessities already provided for them in their new rooms at Hogwarts.  A few of their more treasured items, including the skull, the bison skull with headphones, and Sherlock’s violin would be joining them in order to make their new home more like the old.  Others, like their chairs and the crooked smile splashed across the Victorian wallpaper, would be forced to remain and wait for their return.

John approached Sherlock and wrapped his arms around his waist.  “All right?” he asked quietly once Sherlock met his eyes.

Sherlock nodded, but his mouth and the bridge of his nose were contorted into a frown.  “Yes.  I didn’t expect to feel so emotional over leaving, particularly since we’ll be back.”

“We’ve been through a lot here; it makes sense that you’d hate to leave it.  Particularly since the last time we both had to leave it was under less…positive circumstances.”

“Hmm, true.  Thankfully neither of us is dead or mourning this time.”  Sherlock pulled John up on his toes so he could kiss him softly.  “And we’ll be leaving it together, as it should be.”

“Definitely.”  John broke away and glanced around the room wistfully.  “Well, do you think we’ve got everything?  I mean, if we haven’t, you could always pop back through the Floo – I’ve already worked it out with Professor McGonagall to connect this fireplace to the one in our new quarters.”

The corner of Sherlock’s mouth ticked up into a small smile.  “You are aware that, now that you are both adults and you’ll be working with her, I’m certain she wouldn’t mind if you called her Minerva rather than Professor McGonagall.”

John rubbed the back of his head and grimaced.  “Ah, yeah, probably.  Force of habit.  I did it all through our time in the Order as well.  I’ll have to work on that.”

Sherlock pushed off from the table and leaned down towards John’s ear as he strolled past.  “I think it’s sweet, Master Watson.”  John shivered; ever since he’d received the paperwork from Hogwarts finalizing his temporary position as Master of the hospital wing, Sherlock had been particularly keen on the new title.  For once, John thought something finally beat captain as Sherlock’s favourite way to seduce him into bed.

Slapping Sherlock’s arse as he sauntered across the room, John leered at a chuckling Sherlock.  “We haven’t got time for a quickie, you tease.  Save the seduction for after Cecelia’s gone to bed and we can break in the new bedroom.”

Sherlock smiled over his shoulder as he made his way out to the stairs to shout up at Cecelia.  “Have you remembered everything, Cecelia?  We’re leaving soon and your father and I would rather not have to come back for something when we haven’t even been gone for a day.”

“I know!” Cecelia yelled back, her voice muffled through her shut bedroom door.  She yanked it open and bounded down to him, her Peppa Pig backpack bouncing along behind her.  Once she reached the bottom step, she launched herself forward to be caught in Sherlock’s arms with a huff.

“By the time we’re back, we won’t be able to do that any longer,” Sherlock commented as he carried her into the sitting room.  “I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

Cecelia giggled and handed him her bag.  “You’re very strong, Papa.  You wouldn’t be able to catch the bad guys if you weren’t.”

“To be fair, it’s usually me who’s doing the physical catching,” John added as he picked up their overnight bag and opened their jar of Floo powder on the mantle.  “Remember how it’s done, little bee?”

“I have to hold on very tight to Papa and make sure I keep my eyes and mouth closed until he says it’s okay,” she recited dutifully.  Sherlock secured her bag over his shoulder as John tossed a handful of powder into the dying fire.  It shot up in the enlarged grate, the green light dancing across the brick.  John kissed both of their cheeks as they walked to stand in front of it.

“Perfect, darling.  Remember, Sherlock, you’re going to the Three Broomsticks.  Once you’re gone, I’ll kill the fire and Apparate to meet you there.  Professor…Minerva should already be there waiting for you.”

Sherlock kissed him with a grin.  “I remember.  And excellent save.”  With that, he stepped into the fire and they were off.

John gave the room one last once over after he shrunk the fireplace and made sure it was out.  Smiling sadly to himself, he silently took out his wand and in seconds left Baker Street behind.

The Three Broomsticks looked fairly empty from where John Apparated outside of it.  He glanced through the window as he headed toward the entrance and spotted Sherlock speaking with McGonagall as Cecelia held his hand.  She watched the room with enormous, interested eyes and John could tell she wanted to explore the pub further.

“Da!” she shrieked as John walked inside.  Sherlock let go of her hand so she could run over to him.  “Can we go up to Hogwarts now?  Pleaseeeeee?”

“I’m ready whenever everyone else is,” John replied.  He shifted the bag from his free hand to his shoulder so he could shake McGonagall’s hand.  “How are you, Minerva?”

She nodded and shook his hand back.  “Very well, John.  I hope you understand just how much of a favour you are doing the school and Poppy by taking this position.  When she suggested you, I sincerely hoped you would agree.”

“Couldn’t say no, honestly; it’s a great opportunity for all of us.”  He offered his now free hand to Sherlock, who took it immediately.  McGonagall led them from the pub and up the path toward Hogwarts.  As they followed in her shadow, John was struck by the memory of Sherlock and him walking the same path years before when they returned after the drama of Mary’s reveal and death.  He glanced around, attempting to remember exactly where they had stood for their first tentative kiss.  When he thought he found roughly the right spot, he stopped them and looked up at a confused Sherlock.

Sherlock briefly released Cecelia’s hand as John took Sherlock’s face in a careful hold.  Sherlock’s eyebrows rose in question, but before he could voice anything John brought him closer to place a soft kiss on his lips.  When he pulled back, Sherlock blinked down at him, his expression so similar to what he wore after that first kiss that John felt his heart jump in his chest.

Once Sherlock finally focused on John’s face, his expression melted into fond warmth.  “Our first kiss?”  John nodded in reply.  “While I appreciate the sentiment, we’ve technically already passed the correct location.”

John barked out a laugh and let Sherlock go.  “You dick, of course you’d know exactly where it was.”  He took up Sherlock’s hand again and Sherlock copied him with Cecelia’s.  “Come on, before Minerva realises we’re not keeping up.”

They rejoined her just as she reached the front doors, a small smile curling her lips.  Cecelia had nearly been bouncing in her excitement, and when they actually entered, her tiny mouth fell open in shock.  Sherlock nearly dragged her to get her to follow them inside, her eyes enormous as she tried to take everything in at once.  When they passed the opened doors to the Great Hall, she let out a great gasp and pulled her hand out of Sherlock’s.  Running into the room, her footsteps echoing in the silent hall, she instantly looked up at the ceiling.

“Papa, look!  It’s just like my room!”

Sherlock followed her in and knelt at her side.  “It is.  I modeled the ceiling of your bedroom after this exact room.  But as the original, this one is even more special – watch.”

As they waited and watched, John and McGonagall stood observing them from the entrance.  Cecelia gasped and squealed as the clouds floating in the late summer sky outside were echoed in the hall, Sherlock pointing out the types and explaining how it worked.  Eventually McGonagall broke their silence.

“Did he really manage to replicate the ceiling?” she asked with open curiosity.

John nodded, hands shoved comfortably in his jeans pockets.  “It was right after we moved back in, long before Cecelia even paid it any attention.  Painted it by hand as a surprise for both of us.  Apparently he designed it specifically after the night sky above the Hufflepuff table.”

McGonagall shook her head, her smile growing.  “You have quite the sentimental man there, Master Watson.”

“Never would have expected it out of him, but I’m forever grateful for it.”  He raised his voice to call out to the other two.  “Oi, this is only the first spot!  There are still plenty of other places for us to check out – don’t you want to see our rooms?”

Cecelia whooped and ran to John, wrapping her arms around his leg.  Sherlock wiped off the knee of his trouser leg as he stood and followed at a slower pace.  They continued their journey through the castle, eventually making their way to the closed doors of the hospital wing.  Rather than leading them directly into the hospital, McGonagall produced a key and guided them to a room at their right.  Once unlocked, she passed the key over to John and waved them inside.

Overall the rooms were very similar to the ones they had the last time they stayed at Hogwarts.  The sitting room sat along the left, longer and more narrow than theirs back at 221b.  A pair of windows looking out on the grounds flanked a pair of armchairs, comfortable looking and well worn.  The corner of the room held a small fireplace, Billy the skull already sat on its mantle to survey the room.  A third, smaller armchair leaned against the wall between the other two, obviously meant for Cecelia, and a plush black sofa took up most the wall opposite, with a small coffee table before it.  A lush rug covered nearly all of the stone floor, bringing a cosiness and comfort to the room.  Its final touch came from the bison skull and headphones, which sat over the sofa to balance its opposite windows.

Cecelia instantly ran to find her room while Sherlock meandered into his and John’s.  John, meanwhile, followed McGonagall into a small kitchen, just enough room inside for tea anytime and snacks between Great Hall meals.  John peered into one of the cabinets and found a neat row of each of their favourite teas.

“How difficult was it to turn a single bedroom into a double?” he asked as he leaned back against the counter. 

“It took a bit of convincing, but eventually the stone relented,” she replied.  “It helped that the castle had to go through severe renovations after the battle.  The building has been more inclined to adapt to change ever since.  I hope everything is to everyone’s liking.  If you have any problems, please feel free to let me know.  Most of the other professors and staff are already here or arriving today as well.  We’ll be meeting for introductions at dinner tonight, at 6 o’clock as usual.  Sherlock and Cecelia are, of course, encouraged to attend.”

“Thanks, Minerva.  Everything looks amazing, we all appreciate it.”

She nodded and moved towards the front door.  “Of course.  It is the least we can do for what you’re doing for us.  Your office is right next door; simply turn the key I already gave you upside down and the door will admit you.  Would Sherlock like a normal key or one for the office as well?”

“Might as well give him both; who knows when he’ll want to burst in for some reason or other and it’ll be best to give him the means rather than waiting for him to figure out a way to open it on his own.”

“Very well, I’ll have it made and brought by as soon as it is finished.  I’ll leave you all to settle in.”  She headed back towards the door and closed it behind her with a snap, leaving John to make his way to the back of the flat in search of the rest of his family.

The two bedrooms sat side by side past the toilet, the bright purple door on the right obviously Cecelia’s.  John approached it, pushed the half open door the rest of the way open, and found Cecelia seated on the floor playing with an enormous collection of Legos.  Similar to her room at home, the ceiling was decorated in a night sky design, the stone walls dotted with astronomical charts and paintings.  Her coverlet echoed the space theme, shades of blue and black tinged with splotches of green and purple swirled with bright stars of varying sizes and shapes. The sheets below were a deep purple that was almost black, complete with matching pillows.  Her toys waited in a wooden chest below a window that should have been impossible.  John soon recognized it as a similar design to the ones in the lower levels of the Ministry that were meant to copy the weather outside.

“Da, look!  I’ve never seen so many Legos in my life!”  Cecelia interrupted his perusal of the room, jumping up from the round black rug at the foot of her bed to show him what she was creating.

“Professor McGonagall must have heard how much you like them.  We’ll have to make sure to thank her later.”

Cecelia nodded and went back to playing.  John left her to amuse herself as he went in search of Sherlock.  Their bedroom door was closed when he approached it, so he gave it a soft knock in warning before pushing it open.

He froze as soon as the door was open enough for him to see inside.  The majority of the room was taken up by an enormous four poster bed.  Sherlock lay sprawled across it, his limbs spread out decadently on the elaborate coverlet.  It was a goldenrod colour, nearly solid gold and blindingly shiny, with an elaborate floral damask pattern similar to the ancient wallpaper in 221b. The pillows and a folded blanket at the foot of the bed were a rich black that reminded John of the front door to Baker Street.  As he watched, Sherlock turned to rub his face into one of the pillows, his curls fading into the black of the fabric while emphasizing the paleness of his skin.  He arched his neck, his Adam’s apple showing prominently as he swallowed, and John groaned.

“Fucking tease,” he growled as he launched himself onto the bed.  He briefly grew distracted as the duvet brushed against his palms, sliding in his grip almost like water.  “Jesus, what is this made of, baby unicorn fur?”

“Interesting theory, but I suspect it’s merely silk,” Sherlock replied, lazily opening an eye to look up at John.  “Regardless, this bed is magnificent.”

John rolled away from where he had been hovering over Sherlock to sink into the mattress instead.  He let out a second groan, this one in contented comfort, as he settled further down into the sheets.  “Oh hell, you weren’t kidding.  I never thought I’d experience a bed better than the one you picked out back home.”

“This has to be magic, that’s the only explanation,” Sherlock said as he shifted to snuggle up against John’s side.  “No Muggle could create such perfection.”

John hummed and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.  He took the quiet moment to observe the rest of the room.  One wall was made up entirely of windows, giving them a view of one side of the hospital wing and a portion of the forest and hills surrounding the castle.  The fabric that currently hung at the corners of the bed waiting to be pulled closed for the evening were a somewhat gauzy black with a tiny design etched into it that was too small for John to make out properly.  When he reached out to pull it closer and inspect it, he let out a bark of laughter that jolted Sherlock from his position.  He lifted his head from John’s chest to glare down at him and John guided the fabric closer so he could look at it too.

“It’s got the Hufflepuff crest on it, see?” John said, rubbing his thumb along one of the tiny shapes.  “They decorated the room after my house.”

“I suppose that explains the yellow and black sheets,” Sherlock replied as he ran his hand up and down them.

“It’s brilliant.”  They lay together in silence for a few minutes more, the sounds of Cecelia talking to herself from the next room gently floating through the open doors.  John sighed in contentment and nuzzled Sherlock’s brow.  “Minerva’s invited us to meet the rest of the staff at dinner tonight.  Will you eat?”

“Perhaps a bit,” Sherlock said without enthusiasm.  John pulled him in tighter and rubbed his nape.

“It shouldn’t be too many people there, and you already know Neville and Minerva so it won’t be all strangers.  We don’t have to stay long if you’d rather not.”

“No, it’s fine.  I’ll have both you and Cecelia if it gets to be too much.”  Sherlock’s mouth ticked up into a sly grin.  “I’ll even do my best to keep my deductions to myself if I’m given the right incentive toward a future reward.”

“If that means using this bloody amazing bed, there’s no need for incentive.  I plan on thoroughly debauching it as soon as humanly possible.”

“Hmm, then why wait?”  With that, Sherlock grin widened as he pulled his wand from his sleeve to perform a silencing spell and crawled down John’s body.

~~~

At a quarter to six, John led Sherlock and Cecelia to the Great Hall, Cecelia skipping down the stones and Sherlock with his hands dug deep down into his pockets.  Cecelia was ecstatic to have a meal in ‘her bedroom hall,’ as she insisted on referring to it, but John could tell Sherlock was nervous.  Before they reached the hall, he felt around in Sherlock’s pocket to pull out his hand and clutch it in a tight grip.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so nervous about going to dinner before,” he remarked as he laced their fingers together.  Sherlock hummed as though he was indifferent, but John could feel his slightly sweaty palm.

“The only other wizards I’ve met are the extended Potter and Weasley families,” Sherlock replied quietly.”  He watched the portraits shift in their frames on the walls rather than meet John’s eyes.  “I’m concerned about their reactions when they learn I’ve only been studying magic for a few years.”

“Well, you’ll definitely meet some people who will think you’re not a proper wizard,” John agreed.  Sherlock’s head shot around and John caught an unusual glimpse of fear in his eyes before his expression became blank.  “Here, among the staff, though…I don’t think it’ll be a problem.  Minerva’s approved all of them and has worked with most of them for a long time and I trust her judgment.  She’s not the sort to hire someone who would look down on a wizard just because they haven’t been studying magic their entire life.”

By that point, they had reached the open doors to the hall where Cecelia had disappeared into and they could hear her amazed comments as she looked around at the room as a whole rather than simply the ceiling.  John stopped Sherlock before they entered too in order to pull him down into a soft kiss.

“Okay?” he asked quietly, stroking one of his cheekbones to reassure him.  Sherlock’s eyes darted into the hall before meeting John’s again.  He gave him a small nod and John grinned before sliding his hand back down to hold Sherlock’s and guide him inside.

The house tables were set up as usual, although they were empty and had been since the end of term in June.  The staff table had been shortened slightly, chairs set up along both sides like the house tables rather than all of them facing out toward the room at large as usual.  Many of the seats were already filled with professors chatting cheerfully with one another.  Cecelia stopped at the bottom of the steps leading up to the table, uncertain if she was allowed to continue.  When John and Sherlock approached, John placed his free hand on her shoulder.

At the end of the table facing them, Neville Longbottom’s head lifted as he spoke to Filius Flitwick and he instantly spotted them.  He broke out in a grin and shot to his feet to jump down and meet them.

“John!  Minerva mentioned you would be taking over for Poppy for the year.  We’re excited to have you, all of you!”

Cecelia had met Neville a few times since her first visit to Hogwarts as a baby, but she didn’t know him as well as some of their other friends.  As soon as Neville noticed her, he squatted down until he was at her level and held out his hand to her.

“Do you remember Neville, Cecelia?” John asked, hoping to jog her memory.  “He gave you that potted flower last summer when we visited Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny.”

Her face lit up as she remembered and shook his hand.  “You’re the one who had all of the colourful petals and hopping seeds in your pocket.”

Neville laughed and nodded.  “Good memory.  If you’d like, I can show you what happened to those seeds sometime.”

Her eyes were wide when she turned them on John.  “Can I, Da?”

“Of course, darling,” John replied.

She clapped excitedly as Neville straightened.  “Come on, let me introduce you to everyone,” he said as he guided them up the steps.  Their arrival had been subtly watched by those at the table, who gave them their full attention by the time they stood before everyone.  “This is John Watson, for those of you who haven’t met him before, our new Healer.  He’s just arrived with his partner, Sherlock Holmes, and their daughter, Cecelia.”

As John smiled and nodded at the table at large, Cecelia used the edge of the table to pull herself up on her tiptoes.  “This table is quite tall,” she commented matter of flatly.  Still holding the edge, she sank back on her flattened feet and turned to John.  “Will we be able to see over it, Da?”

A few chuckles scattered across the table as John lifted her up and rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, thanks for that, bee.  Only your papa is allowed to make jabs at my height, though.”

Sherlock smirked as they took their seats across from Neville and Flitwick.  Cecelia stared down the table, taking everyone in, before finally settling on Flitwick himself.  He smiled over his cup at her and winked.  “Nothing wrong with being a touch on the short side,” he commented.  “I’m part goblin myself.”  Her eyes widened impossibly more.  Flitwick turned to John before she could reply.  “John Watson, it is excellent to see you again, young man.”

“You as well, Filius, particularly if you make it a habit to call me young.”  They both laughed and would have continued their conversation if it wasn’t suddenly interrupted by an approaching pair of footsteps.  Minerva was followed up to the table by a man, who she gestured towards as they paused at the end.

“Everyone, this is Finley Doyle, our new transfiguration professor,” she announced once she had everyone’s attention.  “I hope you’ll do everything to make him feel welcome, as well as John and his family.”  Her eyes roved over the table until she found John.  She smiled at him as she sat at the end of the table, motioning for Doyle to take the seat next to Neville.  While the rest of the group resumed their conversations, Sherlock narrowed his eyes to silently study Doyle.

He appeared to be in his mid-thirties, fit but not excessively muscular, and only stood a few centimeters taller than John.  Given the various unfamiliar, blank looks he received when introduced, Sherlock decided he must have studied at one of the other European wizarding schools he had read about, most likely Beauxbatons.  His eyes were a dark blue that shone nearly black on his sharply shaped face.  His square jaw was framed by a neatly trimmed beard and moustache meant to emphasize his features and pull the eye to his well formed lips.  The image was completed by a splash of black hair, artfully styled and tossed to splay over his forehead and give him a boyish charm.  Sherlock realized that Doyle was smiling at him, watching Sherlock watch him, and he frowned back before determinedly returning his attention to the conversation around him.

“Yeah, we’ve been together for quite a few years,” John was saying, turning to grin at him.  “Been working together even longer, since it took us a ridiculous amount of time to realise how we felt.  It’s been worth it, though, the work and us both.”

“You make the work better,” Sherlock added.  He leaned in closer to John and lowered his voice.  “And me.”

John set his hand on Sherlock’s thigh and squeezed, leaving it there as he continued.  “There were a few rough patches before we figured ourselves out, but we’re better for it.”

“What exactly do you mean by ‘the work’?” an older man beside Flitwick asked.  His eyes sparked with subdued eagerness that set Sherlock on edge.

“He’s a consulting detective, only one in the world,” John parroted with pride.  As he went on to explain further, Sherlock watched as the man’s expression became increasingly more gleeful.  John leaned closer to Sherlock once he finished, placing a kiss under his ear before whispering, “Sorry, love, Slughorn’s likely to collect you now.  He has a bit of a thing for making sure important and successful people are close by.”

“Sounds like he would be better off as a politician then,” Sherlock whispered back, making John huff a breath of laughter against his neck.  He was about to respond when a new voice interrupted.

“You’re both Muggleborns, then?”  Sherlock lifted his head to stare across at Doyle, who watched him over the rim of his glass.  His voice was light and airy, a soft Irish accent instantly reminding Sherlock of a dead man’s gleeful giggle and making him shiver.  John obviously noticed it as well, his grip on Sherlock’s thigh tightening in response.

“Ah…I am, yeah,” John eventually replied, silently reassuring Sherlock with a soft thumb stroking the seam of his trousers.  “Sherlock’s a bit more…complicated.”

“My magic is much more subdued than with the typical wizard,” Sherlock interjected.  “I’ve only been practicing it for the last six or so years.”

Those sitting around them fell silent at his words, but Doyle leaned closer, interest bright on his face.  “Really?  How did you even find out you had magic?”

Sherlock attempted to stop his uncomfortable squirming, grounding himself in John’s reassuring touch on his thigh.  “Chance, mostly, through John revealing he was a wizard.  We’ve been working on developing it together.”

“It’s gone well, really well,” John added.  “He’s brilliant at everything else, so I knew once he set out to do it he’d be amazing, but he’s still surprised me.  You’d think the wand was part of his hand with how well he performs magic.”

“Fascinating,” Doyle muttered, rubbing at his beard with a grin.  “I look forward to experiencing this expertise you have with a wand firsthand, Mr. Holmes.”

Sherlock did his best to keep his expression neutral, but he could tell from Doyle’s widening smirk that he wasn’t entirely successful.  Sensing his unease intuitively, John redirected the conversation to Doyle himself.

“Where did you go to school, Finley?” he asked as he brought Cecelia’s glass closer for her to reach.  Though not one of the most sophisticated of maneuvers, it effectively brought the focus away from Sherlock and his discomfort.

“Beauxbatons – my mother is French and insisted.”  Doyle shrugged as though the conclusion was obvious.  “My father was a Muggle and only minded because of how far away I would be, but he inevitably bowed to her demands.  I’ve always wanted to visit Hogwarts, however, so when I saw that there was an opening, I couldn’t help but try.  I was delighted to have succeeded.”

Sherlock clenched his fist on the table, still unable to shake the uncomfortable feeling Doyle seemed to invoke in him.  He nearly jumped from his chair when another hand touched his knee, but when he shifted to peer under the table, he let out a relieved sigh.  Cecelia’s concerned face stared back up at him until he shifted his position so she could situate herself between his legs.  He dropped his fork so that he could wrap his arm around her and pull her close.  She took the motion as a sign to continue and climbed up to perch on his leg, resting her head against his shoulder.

“Are you okay, Papa?” she asked quietly into his shirt.  He smiled against her hair and kissed her head.

“Yes, I’m fine, Cecelia,” he said equally quietly.  “Are you getting tired?  We’ve had a long day.”  When she nodded, Sherlock caught John’s attention by stroking his hand.  “I’m taking Cecelia back to our rooms,” he whispered into John’s ear.  Understanding instantly, John smiled and kissed them both.

“You remember the way back?”  He waited for Sherlock to nod before removing his hand from his thigh.  “I’ll be back soon.  Read to her and wait up for me?”  Sherlock nodded once more before rising to his feet.  As he strolled down between the rows of tables with Cecelia in his arms, he felt an odd, uncomfortable sensation on the back of his neck.  He stole a final glance behind him as he walked from the room and instantly locked eyes with Doyle.  He grinned and winked at Sherlock, who barely withheld a shudder as he hurried away.

When John returned to their rooms an hour later, he found Sherlock and Cecelia cuddled together in Cecelia’s bed, The Hobbit propped up between them.  Sherlock growled low in his throat as he read Smaug’s lines, lifting a hand and tickling her stomach in faux attack.  She broke out in giggles and batted him away, her cheeks flushed in amusement.  Sherlock beamed down at her and traded his attacks for an arm around her shoulder instead.  He mimicked John’s voice for Bilbo as always, making it higher and more ridiculous than necessary as his eyes darted over to John in the doorway.

John rolled his eyes and walked in to climb on the bed, attempting to insinuate himself between them.  Cecelia laughed and pulled him up by his collar until they were all sprawled together.

“What are we reading?” John asked with mock curiosity.  Cecelia curled up until she was settled in his lap and propped the book up for them.

“You know, Da, don’t joke.  Bilbo is trying to get the Arkenstone from Papa Smaug.”

“Ah, of course.  I should have known.”  He kissed her head and grabbed one of Sherlock’s hands to squeeze it.  “And how is Papa Smaug feeling?”

Sherlock cleared his throat and replied in his fake voice, “Well, but better should Bilbo decide to join him and his little Arkenstone for reading.”

John laughed and pulled the book closer.  “Of course he will; how else will Smaug and the Arkenstone know how Bilbo properly sounds?”

Cecelia wiggled herself more comfortably with her fathers, waiting for them to continue the story.  By the end of the chapter, her mouth hung slightly open as they carefully extracted themselves from under her and left her to sleep for the night.

As soon as they were out in the hall between their rooms, John snagged Sherlock’s hand and pulled them both towards their own bedroom.  A few candles hung along the walls, unnoticed when they were unlit earlier in the day, and lit their way enough that John could easily guide them.  He briefly considered stopping to properly get them ready for bed, but when he noticed the unguardedly tired expression on Sherlock’s face, John decided that it could wait.  He settled Sherlock on the pillows on his usual side of the bed before climbing in and snuggling up to his side.

Sherlock automatically wrapped his arms around John, but remained uncharacteristically quiet.  John began to run his hand slowly up and down Sherlock’s chest, toying with the buttons of his shirt as he went.  He felt some of the tension gradually drain from him, his torso going lax with a long sigh.  John glanced up at his face, watching his eyes fall shut.

“I’m not entirely sure what happened at dinner tonight, and it’s fine if you’d rather not discuss it right now, really, but are you okay?” John finally asked, keeping his voice low and comforting.  Sherlock kept his eyes closed, but he shifted his head until his nose nuzzled into John’s hair.

“There’s just something about Doyle…I don’t have enough information yet, but he doesn’t seem entirely right.  He acted perfectly normal and more than pleasant, but I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable around him, as though he’s hiding something that not even I can see.”

John tucked his palm around Sherlock’s hip and threw a leg across his thighs.   “Well, if Minerva hired him, he’s probably not a felon or anything like that.  Maybe he just reminds you too much of Moriarty?  I noticed that there’s a lot of similarities and that might explain why he makes you uneasy without a specific reason.”

Sherlock sighed and nodded.  “Perhaps.  I can always just avoid him; it shouldn’t be too hard in a place this size.”  He glanced out the window, studying the dark night setting in over the forest.  “Shall we get ready for bed?”

“In a minute.  Right now I just want to hold you.”  Humming in agreement, Sherlock closed his eyes again and simply listened to the even sounds of John’s breathing.

Chapter Text

Sherlock studied himself in the full length mirror situated on the inner door of their wardrobe.  The students were due to arrive soon, but he still wasn’t entirely certain about the robes he and John had picked out for the occasion.  While John agreed that he should wear his usual suits on a daily basis, he insisted they all have a few sets of robes for times when they would be more appropriate.  Apparently, the arrival of the students was one such event, leaving Sherlock to attempt to settle the robes to his liking.

John marched into the room to check on him and his mouth fell open in shock.  The three of them had opted for the currently stylish robe that sat more like a long jacket, hoping they would all be more comfortable wearing them.  Sherlock currently wore a deep violet one with a high collar, a tightly belted waist, and sleeves that flowed out at the elbows slightly.  From his slim hips, two sides flowed open out to his knees, a row of tiny buttons decorating the deep v shape that split his left from his right side.  He completed the outfit with his usual black trousers and a black button up shirt underneath.  He pulled at the fabric around his neck uncomfortably, waiting for John to say something.

“God, you’re beautiful,” John groaned, launching himself forward to hold Sherlock by the hips.  “It’s a good thing you don’t want to wear these things all the time because it just might kill me.”

Sherlock shot him a tiny smile and took a moment to study John as well.  The design of his robes may have been the same, but because of his shape, they emphasized him differently.  His broad shoulders and chest were brought to attention by the black material encasing them.  Its length seemed to make him taller, elongating his legs and straightening his back.  He also wore black trousers, but a bright flash of yellow at his waist revealed his jumper below it.

“So are you,” Sherlock replied appreciatively, pulling him into a kiss.  It deepened quickly, John’s fingers finding themselves in Sherlock’s belt loops.  Just as he pulled Sherlock in flush against him, Cecelia’s approaching footsteps forced them to reluctantly part.

“Papa LOOK!” she cried as she jumped into the doorway.  Her robes were a light aqua, with a white floral printed dress and shiny silver tights underneath.  Sherlock easily assumed that John let her pick out her own outfit from the bright and abundant colours.  She twirled in a circle, making the skirt and robes spin, and beamed up at them.  “I LOVE robes!”

“At least one of us does,” Sherlock muttered, earning him an elbow in the side.  He raised his voice enough for Cecelia to hear and said, “You look lovely, Cecelia.”

After she thanked him, she rushed back to her room to grab her battered and well loved bee.  John and Sherlock met her at the front door and, after a final check of everyone’s clothes, they set off for the Great Hall.

The head table had been returned to its usual seating arrangement, turned to face the four House tables.  A scattering of professors had already arrived and stood chatting amongst themselves in their assigned seats.  When Neville spotted them, he waved them over.

“I’ve settled it with Minerva so you three can sit by me,” he said as he led them down the table.  “Figured you might prefer being around someone you know a bit better.  Fair warning, though, Horace is right next to you all as well and he’s likely to talk your ear off the entire evening.”

“I prefer him to Doyle,” Sherlock muttered only loud enough for John to hear.  They situated Cecelia between them and John pulled out Sherlock’s chair so he could whisper in his ear as he sat.

“Let me know if he gets to be too much and we can change seats.  If you and Cecelia need to skip out early again, I’ll understand.”

Sherlock smiled and nodded as he sat.  They subtly watched each other over Cecelia’s head as the rest of the professors trickled in and took to their chairs.  Thankfully, Doyle seemed to be seated at the opposite end of the table, but he still made a point to catch Sherlock’s eye as he entered.  He smirked at Sherlock before taking his seat and Sherlock forced himself not to frown in reply.

“Where’s Minerva?” Sherlock asked, noticing that her chair at the centre of the table was still empty.  Neville peered around John to reply.

“Someone’s got to bring the first years up from the boats.  Normally that’s not the headmistress’ job, but she used to do it back when she was the transfiguration professor and she’s just kept doing it since.  She hasn’t asked any of us to take over so I guess she enjoys it.”

Seconds later, the Great Hall’s doors burst open and the second through seventh years herded in, their voices an abrupt and overwhelming cacophony of noise.  They divided themselves into their respective houses, their ties the only suggestion otherwise of where they might belong.  Sherlock scanned the crowd, searching for brunettes and gingers he recognized.  John leaned back in his chair to tap Sherlock’s shoulder and point to the table on the far right.

“There’s Albus, about halfway down,” he said as Sherlock attempted to spot him.  “He’s next to the boy with white blonde hair.”  Just as John mentioned him, the blonde turned and glanced up at the head table.  He spotted John, Sherlock, and Cecelia almost instantly and prodded Albus, getting him to look up at the table with indistinguishable words and a pointing finger.  Albus broke out in a smile and they both waved up at them.  John waved back while Cecelia nearly jumped out of her seat to go see him.  John managed to stop her just in time, pulling her into her chair by the back of her robes.

“But Da!” she protested, pouting with her arms crossed.

“Not now, Cecelia, the feast’s about to start,” John said in a stern voice.  He relented slightly when her shoulders slumped and wrapped his arm around her.  “We’ll try to find all of them after, okay?”

She nodded reluctantly and returned her attention to her bee on her lap.  John looked back up to find Albus and his friend with their heads bent together talking.  Before he could do more than open his mouth, Sherlock stated, “Yes, that’s his friend Scorpius Malfoy.  I’m surprised we’ve never met him before, given – “

He was interrupted by the room suddenly going quiet as McGonagall entered the hall, a group of wide eyed first years reluctantly following behind her.  They watched in silence as the sorting hat was placed before them and began its song as usual.  John shot glances at Sherlock and Cecelia throughout, enjoying their expressions of amazement as they watched the proceedings.  When the first student tentatively approached the hat, John reached behind Cecelia’s chair for Sherlock’s hand.  Once Sherlock offered his palm, John began tapping his index finger against it lightly.  Sherlock caught the first word of Morse code and smiled to himself as he began translating automatically.

Wonder if you put on the hat, it would give you a proper house.

I thought you said I was a Slytherin, Sherlock tapped back after John squeezed his hand to indicate he was finished.

You are, but I wouldn’t mind the confirmation.  Sherlock turned enough toward John to see him rolling his eyes.

Perhaps we could arrange it with Minerva then.

They watched the rest of the sorting in silence, their hands still linked behind Cecelia.  Once the last student scampered off to her new house, Filch removed the hat and McGonagall faced the hall at large.

“Good evening, students, and welcome to a new year at Hogwarts.  As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, there are various new additions to the staff table this year.”  She gestured to Doyle, who stood and straightened his robes with an enormous smile.  “Taking over for Professor Allison in Transfiguration, we have Professor Doyle.”  A scattering of applause fell over the hall and Doyle bowed low in exaggerated thanks.  “Professor Doyle attended Beauxbatons Academy but has graciously decided to leave his position there to teach at Hogwarts and be closer to his family.”

She next turned to John, who was already halfway to his feet.  “Our nurse, Madam Pomfrey, has decided to take a year’s break in order to rest.  Taking over for her will be Master Watson.”  As John waved at the room, a louder and more enthusiastic cheer went up amongst the students as many of the extended Weasley and Potter family members recognized him.  He flushed somewhat in embarrassment and quickly returned to his seat.  “Master Watson was both a Hogwarts student, Healer, and a member of the Order of the Phoenix.  His partner Mr. Holmes and their daughter Cecelia will be joining us here as well.”  A low rustle of conversation followed her final statement, but was quickly quieted by others.  “I hope that you will all be sure to make them feel welcome during their time with us.  In the meantime, let the feast begin.”

Instantly the table filled with platters of food, at least double the amount than either Sherlock or Cecelia had seen during previous meals.  Both of them gasped in shock, simply staring at the now filled tables at first.  John’s quiet laughter seemed to break them out of their stupors.  He pulled a platter of pasta towards him and scooped a spoonful onto Cecelia’s plate.  She stared between it and him, her forehead wrinkled in an uncertain frown she must have learned from Sherlock. 

“Go on, try it,” John insisted, spooning some of it on his plate and Sherlock’s as well.  “It’s not poisoned and it’ll definitely be better than anything you’ve had from either me or your papa.”

Still uncertain, Cecelia picked up her fork and tentatively brought a small bite to her mouth.  Her eyes widened and she dug in, inhaling the rest of it within seconds.  When Sherlock didn’t immediately try his own food, she tried to pass him her fork.  “Papa, try it!  It’s amazing!”  John laughed and began to properly fill all of their plates.

“What makes this food any different than what we’ve been eating since we’ve arrived?”  Sherlock asked, lifting up a bite and studying it.  His confusion morphed into surprise as he ate, chewing the pasta thoughtfully.

“The difference, my boy, is that when the students arrive, the house elves double their efforts,” Slughorn suddenly added from Sherlock’s other side.  He delicately sliced into his beef and hummed as he chewed and swallowed.  “For the staff, they give their best, but for the students, they do even better.”

For several long minutes, the only sounds among the students and staff were clattering silverware and shifting glasses.  Sherlock was halfway through his plate before he lifted his head once more.  He caught John watching him with a tiny grin as he sipped from his goblet.  Sherlock sniffed and turned to Cecelia, making John laugh.

“Honestly, I’m just glad to see you eating with real enthusiasm,” John said.  “I never expected that the way to get you to eat like a proper human being was to bring you to Hogwarts when the students were around.”

A small voice clearing its throat interrupted them, causing them both to turn back to the rest of the room.  Albus’ blonde friend stood on the opposite side of the table, his hands clenched into flexing fists as he shifted from one foot to the other.  Before he could even work up the courage to open his mouth, Sherlock interrupted him.

“Boyfriend,” he stated without preamble.  The boy’s mouth fell open in shock.

“I…ex-excuse me?” he stuttered, his back straightening in an attempt at boldness that was lost in his uncertain words.  Sherlock took another bite and chewed it slowly before responding.

“Obviously we are the last people for you to be worried about knowing your sexuality.  It was clear from the moment you both sat down at the table together that something stronger than friendship existed between you and Albus.”

“I – how do you even know who I am?” he demanded, his surprise gradually becoming indignation.

“Please.”  Sherlock rolled his eyes.  “Surely we’ve known the Potters long enough to have heard the name Scorpius Malfoy.”

“Okay, that’s enough,” John cut in, glaring at Sherlock before turning a smile on Scorpius.  “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Scorpius.”

"You too, Master Watson,” Scorpius replied, smiling at him shyly.  He shot Sherlock a glance before noticing Cecelia watching him with narrowed eyes.  Scorpius’ face lit up and he leaned against the table to hold his hand up flat in front of her.  She instantly broke out into a grin and high fived him with a loud smack.  When he noticed John and Sherlock watching them, he shrugged sheepishly.  “Albus told me Cecelia loves high fives and he taught me how.  It’s not something my family would really know much about.”

Sherlock hummed and his face softened almost unnoticeably.  “Yes, a pleasure,” he said, surprising John by offering his hand to shake.  “You and Albus ought to stop by and have tea with us properly at some point.  And if anyone – “  His glance shot up to narrow around the room, landing specifically on those he noticed talking amongst themselves when Sherlock was announced as John’s partner earlier.  “Should bother either of you, do not hesitate to inform one of us.  We will see to the matter personally.”

Scorpius tentatively grinned at him.  “Most everyone leaves us alone about the whole…boyfriends thing by now, particularly since Albus is Harry Potter’s son, but thanks, Mr. Holmes.”

“Sherlock is fine.”

When Scorpius said goodbye and returned to an excited Albus, John nearly beamed at Sherlock.  “Given how that conversation began, I’m quite impressed with how you handled that.  Asking them over for tea?”

Sherlock shrugged and returned his attention to his food.  “It takes quite a bit of courage to be out in such a small school with typically backwards views in most things.  The fact that they are in general very open about it here, going so far as holding hands like they have been all night, is something to be encouraged and applauded.”

John looked down to where they sat and noticed their once again entwined hands for the first time.  “How about that.  Not bad for a pair of fourteen year olds.”

Simply smiling in reply, Sherlock snuck his hand back around Cecelia’s chair.  John took the hint immediately, giving it a squeeze as their fingers locked.  They returned to their meal, quietly copying the pair of boys sat down at the Slytherin table.

Chapter Text

Sherlock quickly realized that he would be on his own to amuse himself throughout the day while John worked.  For the first week of classes, he attempted to remain in either the hospital wing or their flat next door to stay close to John in case he had a free moment.  While Cecelia seemed fairly content to remain in her corner of the room amusing herself whenever John was taking care of a student, Sherlock found himself growing slowly more bored and irritable each moment he remained.  Eventually John shooed him away to the library, warning him to leave the students there alone to study in peace.

Almost a month after classes first began, Sherlock once again meandered into the library in search of something to engage him.  He had discovered a new area of the library that he hadn’t known about during his first visit to Hogwarts years before that seemed to be predominantly ignored by most of the students and staff.  Much of the information was long outdated, but Sherlock was pleased to see at least some wizards had attempted to combine Muggle technology with magic and write books about it.  He holed himself up in the small corner of the library, hoping it would give him some insight on a project he had to bring the internet to Hogwarts.

Sherlock leaned against the window frame in his section of the library, using the bright early October sun to help him read the tiny writing.  He sensed more than heard that he was no longer alone and glanced up, blinking away the sparkling dots from the sun’s glare.  When he didn’t notice anyone, he frowned and returned to his book.  Before he had read more than half a dozen more words, however, a warm palm suddenly settled on the hip that wasn’t resting against the window.  With a gasp, Sherlock’s head shot up and the book toppled to the floor.

A breath of soft laughter ghosted against his neck.  “Whoops,” a light Irish voice muttered against Sherlock’s ear and he shuddered in disgust.  He quickly darted out of Doyle’s grasp, turning to face him before bending down to fetch his book.  “Didn’t mean to startle you.  I would have thought you’d notice me, what with your detective background.”

“Though it may come as a surprise, to both you and many others, I am still human,” Sherlock replied stiffly as he held the book to his chest, a defensive guard against Doyle.  “I can’t be expected to pick up on absolutely everything.”

Doyle grinned, his hands shoved casually into his pockets as he rested his back against the wall.  His shoulders shoved back into the stone, thrusting his waist out suggestively while his hands bulged out his trouser pockets.  “Hmm, I suppose not.  A shame.  What are you doing?”

Unwilling to turn his back on Doyle, Sherlock shifted around to place the book on the table in the centre of the aisle without looking away from him.  His position placed him closer to the aisle’s opening as well as setting the table between them.  “Research.  Shouldn’t you be in class?”

Apparently refusing to take the hint, Doyle pushed away from the wall to round the table and join Sherlock’s side.  “I’ve a break this period.  I came looking for a book and found something more interesting.”

As Doyle inched closer, Sherlock pressed back against the shelves.  “You are aware that when someone calls John and I partners, it means romantically, don’t you?  Surely you aren’t dense enough to think otherwise.”  Sherlock felt Doyle’s hand settle on his hip once more and snatched at it, squeezing the fingers in an iron grip.  “Since you’re obviously as much of an idiot as the rest of the population, let me explain it to you in simpler terms: John is my boyfriend and I am more than happy to be in that position.  We’ve been together for over six years now and I have no intentions to leave him, particularly for someone as oblivious and moronic as you.”

Doyle’s smile continued to grow as Sherlock spoke, but he finally stepped away to give him some space.  “I’m aware of the situation.  Still, you can’t blame a bloke for trying when you’ve got a body like that.”

Sherlock barely stopped himself from punching him by reminding himself that doing so would do John more harm than anything else.  Instead, he used the now open space between them to step fully out of the aisle and into the library proper.  “I’d say that if you had any decency, you would refrain from forcing yourself on obviously disinterested parties, but clearly you would respect my words no more than you do faithful relationships.  This is your first and final warning: I am not nor will I ever be interested in pursuing anything with you and should you attempt to touch me again, you will immediately regret it.”

To Sherlock’s annoyance, Doyle simply laughed.  “I do so enjoy a feisty one,” he said as he breezed past, making a point to keep a safe distance away from Sherlock.  “Until next time, Sherlock Holmes.”  Before fully walking away, he reached into his robe and Sherlock grabbed at his wand in preparation.  Rather than producing his own wand, Doyle pulled out a rose, the pattern similar to an Osiria but black along the bottom rather than white.  He tossed it on the table and strolled away without a glance back.  Sherlock sneered at the rose and finished pulling his wand from his sleeve.  Without a thought, he incinerated it before spinning on his heel and marching in the opposite direction.

~~~

Meanwhile, John stood from his chair and pulled off his gloves, tossing them on the side table next to the bed.  The sixth year Ravenclaw who sat on the bed flexed his hand, studying the bandages wrapped around his fingers.

“Okay, Neil, come back round after dinner and I’ll check on those burns.  That potion should take care of most of the pain and damage, but I might want to apply a second coat to minimise the scarring.  You were very lucky; it could have been much worse.”

Neil pushed himself to his feet, grabbing his bag with his uninjured hand.  “Thanks, Master Watson.  It feels loads better already.”

“Good.  Take it easy for the rest of the afternoon and don’t be afraid to come back sooner if it gets painful.”  John stopped him with a hand on his shoulder just as he was about to leave.  “Also, I’d feel even better if you came back later and told me you’d gotten rid of the potion that caused it.”

Neil blushed and nodded before rushing out of the hospital wing.  John grabbed his tray of supplies and made his way over to the sink in the upper corner of the room.  He cleaned everything with quick efficiency, dumping the rubbish in a bin.  Once finished, he headed back to the far corner by the windows where the beds had been pushed away and a rug spread out on the floor in their place.  Cecelia sat cross legged on the floor there, a pile of books surrounding her and one open on her lap.  She leaned over it as her finger followed the lines on the page, her nose nearly touching it.  Frowning, John knelt down at her side.

“Hey baby girl, can I check your eyes while I’ve got a mo?  It’ll just take a couple of minutes, promise.”

She nodded and set the book aside, following him back to the front of the room and climbing up onto a bed.  John popped into his office for his bag of Muggle supplies, pulling out the small torch from one of the side pockets.  Though he used wizarding medical practices most of the time, some of the Muggleborn students, particularly the younger ones, were more comfortable with familiar techniques.  He particularly avoided using magic on Cecelia, preferring to wait until she was older and understood what was happening better.  He pulled his chair up to her chair and sat, flicking the torch on.

“Follow the light for me, okay, darling?”  Her eyes darted back and forth as she watched the light move.  Satisfied for the moment, John clicked it off.  “Wonderful job.  It looks okay right now, but next time we’re in London we’ll visit the eye doctor, yeah?  Your papa’s due for an exam too, you can do it together.”

When she hopped down, John nodded over to the sink.  “You wanna help me organise some supplies?”

“Yes!” she cried, immediately darting back to her corner for her step stool.  She situated it next to the counter and stood waiting patiently on it before John even had the chance to stand, her forehead barely poking over the edge.  Once at her side, he pulled open one of the upper cupboards and grabbed a box of bandages.  With a glance between her and the box, he nodded once before grabbing her under her arms and setting her on the counter instead, passing the box over once she was settled.  She balanced it on her lap before snatching up one of the rolls by its end and letting it unroll across the floor.

“Not exactly what I had in mind, but sure,” John said with a chuckle.  As she began to meticulously roll the bandage back up, John grabbed a second one along with his wand, sanitizing it with a quick spell before tucking it away in an individual plastic package Cecelia held out for him.  They worked in relative silence, broken occasionally by Cecelia humming to herself, and soon had a box of freshly cleaned and packaged bandages.  As John set the last one back in the box, he crossed his arms over his chest and studied her.

“Can you keep a secret for me, Síleas?” he asked.  Her face instantly lit up as she leaned toward him.

“Oh yes pleaseeeeee, Da, tell me!”  He lifted her back down and led her into his office, which sat just outside the central door to the hospital wing.  The room was small but cosy, the wall behind the desk made up entirely of filled bookshelves.  The desk itself took up nearly half the room, a long oaken block with papers scattered across it and a winged back chair behind.  John rounded the desk’s sharp corners to pull open one of the drawers.  He dug around to the very back, eventually clasping a small velvet bag.  Cecelia watched him with impatient curiosity from the doorway, leaning back and forth on her feet and bouncing up on her toes.  John knelt down before her with a creak and a groan, positioning her hand out flat as he upended the contents of the bag onto her palm.

She frowned as a pair of matching rings clattered out.  The bands were thick, a line of bright copper flanked by dark titanium on each side. Though most of the time John kept them safely hidden away in their bag, he took them out occasionally to wipe away any invisible dirt that may have collected, leaving them shining.  Cecelia lifted up the smaller of the two, rolling it in her tiny fingers before slipping it on her index.  It hung loosely rattling as she lifted it up to John in question.

“You have to make sure you don’t tell anyone, okay?” John said as he picked up the larger ring.  “I’m gonna ask your papa to marry me.”

Her confused expression immediately lit up in excitement.  She clapped her hands and John had to lunge forward to catch the first ring before it flew across the room.  He slipped them back into their bag and pulled the strings taut.  Tucking the bag away into his trouser pocket, he pushed himself to his feet and held out a hand for Cecelia to grab.

“Da, I’m so EXCITED!” she squealed as she nearly dragged him back into the hospital wing.  “When are you gonna ask him?  Do you think he’ll say yes?”  She pulled him to a stop and gaped dramatically, fluttering her free hand against her chest in an almost identical copy of an excited Mrs. Hudson.  “Does this mean I’ll get to be a flower girl AGAIN?!”

John chuckled and shook his head.  “I’m not sure when I’ll ask, I hope he’ll say yes but thanks for that reminder that he might not, and of course you’ll be the flower girl.  If we hold off long enough, maybe Aunt Molly and Uncle Greg’s little one can be in the wedding too.”

Cecelia turned back to him, hands on her hips as she looked up at him through her bangs.  “Da.  You can’t be serious.  Haven’t you waited long enough?  It’ll be years before the baby is old enough and you and Papa are not getting any younger.”

“Okay, Miss Sass, thanks for that insightful input,” John muttered, rolling his eyes.  “Remind me to make sure Uncle James is around the next time Uncle Mycroft agrees to look after you.  I think you’ve been listening to Mycroft’s tirades about our lives a little too much.”  Before Cecelia could reply, a pair of students burst into the wing, one guiding the other along.  The student being led was almost completely covered in long, thick hair, concealing their face and nearly tripping them up as they walked.  John sighed while Cecelia giggled and approached them, running her fingers through the hair that trailed across the floor.

“Hair growing potion gone wrong?” John asked the second student, who winced and nodded.  “Come on in, then.  This will take a bit of work.”

~~~

John finished stacking the logs in the fireplace of their flat later that night and cast a quick spell, settling it into a softly crackling blaze.  When he stood and turned, he found Sherlock padding out of the kitchen in his pyjamas, two glasses of wine in his hands.  He passed one over to John before folding himself up on one end of the sofa.  Before John could even settle himself on the other end, Sherlock had drained half of his glass in one swallow.  Raising an eyebrow, John sat sideways on the sofa to watch Sherlock finish his wine and set the glass aside, staring blankly ahead as he did.

“Hey, you alright?” he asked, holding out his free hand to Sherlock.  Instantly Sherlock crossed the distance between them, curling himself up in John’s lap.  Growing more concerned, John set his wine on the floor and wrapped his arms around Sherlock’s back and shoulders.  Running his fingers up and down his spine, John slowly massaged the tenseness out of his back until he lay pliant and comfortable in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock eventually mumbled into John’s chest.  “Today was…difficult.”

“No need to apologise,” John replied, continuing his loose rubbing and flexing.  “It’s been a lot, completely picking up and moving somewhere new.  You haven’t said anything, but I know it’s had to be rough on you.  I appreciate you doing this for me, but that doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I suppose so.”  Sherlock wasn’t sure why he didn’t want to tell John about what happened with Doyle.  Part of it may have been pride; he had dealt with far worse on his own before he had John and was more than capable of fighting off yet another heart eyed admirer.  He also knew he didn’t want to worry John and expected that it would only get worse if he said anything.  Instead, he burrowed his face deeper into John’s chest and sighed.  “How was Cecelia today?  She doesn’t bother you when I leave her in the hospital with you, does she?”

John shifted himself further down on the sofa until they were both sprawled out flat.  Automatically, his hand drifted downward to the curve of Sherlock’s arse, settling it in a loose grip with his fingers tucked into the space where behind met thigh.  The position was a usual one when they were resting together, the feel of Sherlock fully in his arms a comfort to John.  “She did okay, but I could tell she was bored sometimes.  I wonder if we could work something out for her to sit in on some classes occasionally?  I know she’s only six, but she’s brilliant and she needs something more than just us teaching her and playing on her own.”

“I’m sure some of the professors would be willing to work something out.  I certainly wouldn’t mind some firsthand teaching myself.”  They lay together in silence for a while, simply enjoying the moment together and the comfort of their flat.  John felt the weight of the bag of rings in his pocket and briefly considered whether now was the moment.  He glanced down at Sherlock, taking in the lines at the corners of his eyes and the slight frown that still remained around his mouth.  As John watched, Sherlock’s blinks grew gradually slower, the lines smoothing out as his face began to grow lax.  His breath against John’s t-shirt grew more relaxed until eventually they evened out completely, his eyes remaining closed.  Rather than disturb him, John ran his free hand through Sherlock’s hair to massage his scalp lightly.  Letting out a sigh of contentment, Sherlock fell fully asleep and John let him be, deciding that his proposal could wait for a day when Sherlock was less stressed and John was more prepared for what his answer might be.

Chapter Text

“Where shall we try first?” Sherlock asked Cecelia, holding her hand as she skipped along next to him down the corridor.  A few weeks after the incident with Doyle, Sherlock decided to take a break from his so far failing experiments with magic and technology.  The school had finally settled into the normal flow of another year, the excitement of their return after summer break finally fading.  Sherlock hoped that the settling into normalcy would allow the two of them a better opportunity to find a professor willing to let them sit in during class.  He already knew that transfiguration would unfortunately be out of the question; while he had started to leave Sherlock alone after their incident in the library, Sherlock still refused to trust Doyle.  The expressions he sent Sherlock’s way, even occasionally watching Cecelia with an odd sort of hunger that made Sherlock want to destroy him, during meals and if they met in the corridors were enough to ensure he never sought him out intentionally.

“Can we go see Neville down at the greenhouses?” Cecelia asked immediately.  Though they didn’t have the opportunity to go down there as often as either of them liked, Cecelia adored the greenhouses.  Sherlock made sure to bring her any time he went down to get fresh potion and healing supplies from Neville.

“Somehow I knew you would want to go down there eventually,” Sherlock said with a smile, summoning their jackets.  Each day seemed to bring cooler weather, emphasised by how much more north they were than in London.  Cecelia scrambled into her jacket and rushed to the main doors, waiting anxiously for Sherlock to follow.  He pushed the doors open and she dashed off, following the path that led down to the greenhouses.

Sherlock walked behind at a more leisurely pace, making sure to keep Cecelia in sight as she darted along the path after rocks and bugs.  Though Sherlock would always prefer the city, he had to admit that living out in the openness and peace of Hogwarts was doing them all good, particularly Cecelia.  Both he and John found themselves much more at ease than they ever were in London, the constant threat of danger against Cecelia in the city dissipating at Hogwarts.  She quickly became a popular fixture amongst the students and staff, particularly Albus and Scorpius.  They had followed up on Sherlock’s suggestion to stop by, knocking at their flat door one evening after dinner.  Albus already got on beautifully with Cecelia since she was tiny, but since Scorpius was an only child, Sherlock was more uncertain about him.  He happily was proven wrong, however, when Scorpius instantly engaged her in conversation and treated her as a younger sister.  They already had plans for the boys to watch her occasionally whenever John and Sherlock needed to make a trip back to London or wanted an evening to themselves.

Sherlock’s musings were broken by Cecelia calling out to him.  “Papa, can we go visit Hagrid while we’re here too?”

When they left that morning, John gave them a single condition to their adventures in finding a welcoming classroom: nothing dangerous, including chemicals or creatures.  While Sherlock trusted himself to watch over her properly should they find themselves down in Slughorn’s potions lab, he couldn’t say the same when it came to Care of Magical Creatures.

“I’m sorry, Cecelia, but your da and I don’t think you’re old enough for Hagrid’s class.  A visit with him will have to wait until a time when classes aren’t in session.”

She pouted, but soon brightened when the greenhouses came into view.  Speeding up and nearly tripping down the rest of the hill, she raced to the closest building and plastered herself to the window to try and see if anyone was inside.

“Try the next one,” Sherlock called, noticing a flash of robe in greenhouse two.  Cecelia skipped down the row and pulled the door open before Sherlock could reach her.  He hurried his pace and just managed to follow her inside as she rushed up to Neville at the front of the room.

“NEVILLE!” she cried, throwing herself at him.  He nearly toppled over as she attached herself to his leg and squeezed.  Laughter ran down the rows of students and Neville winced, prying Cecelia off of him.

“It’s Professor Longbottom in class, Cecelia,” he muttered when he managed to get her off.  “Or always when it comes to the students.”

“Sorry, Professor Longbottom,” Sherlock said as he lifted Cecelia up on his hip, making a point of emphasising the use of his proper name.  “We didn’t mean to interrupt the class.”

“No, that’s alright,” Neville replied.  He glanced around and grabbed a pair of shears from the table along the wall.  “Actually, you might be able to help us out.  We’re working on how to properly trim these plants so as to not ruin their magical properties.  Would you be able to help me, Mr. Holmes?”

With a nod, Sherlock set Cecelia on a free space of counter to watch.  Sherlock attempted to pay attention as Neville explained to the class what they would be doing.  Instead, he found himself taking up the shears on his own and frowning down at the plant.  He attacked it with narrowed focus, trimming it down until he had a small pile of leaves and a nearly bare plant.  When he looked up, Neville and his class were staring at him in shock.

“That…that was the exact opposite of how I described the process,” Neville said with a sigh, running a hand through his hair.  Sherlock frowned and waved a hand down at the leaves.

“Nonsense, this way is far superior.  The majority of the magical properties are contained within the stem, leaving it most logical to break the leaves off as close to the branch as possible.  While your method contains the magic within the leaf for a longer period of time, such aspects are unnecessary when the root is kept more intact by a lower cut.”

“Yeah, okay, so perhaps it would be best if you two came back at a different time,” Neville muttered, helping Cecelia down to the floor.  “You know, when there isn’t a class for you to show me up in front of.”

Sherlock’s frown deepened as Neville ushered them out of the greenhouse, calling over his shoulder for the students to collect their supplies.  He turned to Sherlock and Cecelia once they were on the threshold and winced at their expressions.

“Sorry, you two, but maybe being around while I’m trying to teach isn’t the best idea.  I’ve got a free period after lunch if you’d like to come down then instead.  I’d be able to give you my full attention for whatever it is you’d like to know…”

“Never mind, Neville, we’ll be off,” Sherlock sniffed.  “Perhaps another professor would be willing to have our participation in one of their classes instead.  Come along, Cecelia.”  Before Neville could respond, Sherlock guided Cecelia back up the path toward the castle.  Shaking his head after them, Neville returned to bring order to his class.

“Where are we going next, Papa?” Cecelia asked once they reached the front doors where they began.  Sherlock thought for a moment before starting up the stairs, slowing his pace once he heard Cecelia’s footsteps following.  Eventually they ended up at the door to the Charms classroom.  The door was open just enough for them to peer inside, the image of their faces one above the other inevitably comical.  They caught the attention of a few of the students across the room, who instantly had to try and contain their laughter.  Flitwick turned to them with a huff.

“What seems to be the problem?” he asked, following their eyes to the door.  When he spotted Sherlock and Cecelia, he hopped off of his platform with a sigh.  “Mr. Holmes, Cecelia.  How may we help you?”

“May we join your class, Mr. Flitwick?” Cecelia asked sweetly.  Flitwick’s face softened at her question and he waved them inside.

“Very well, have a seat.  Today we’re working on practicing our summoning charms.”

Cecelia led Sherlock to a free chair in the back, waiting for him to sit so she could climb onto his lap.  As she settled in and Flitwick returned to his position at the front, Sherlock bent down to whisper in Cecelia’s ear.

“Remember what we read about summoning charms, bee?” he asked.  When she nodded eagerly, he continued, “The spell works on everything except…”

“Buildings!” she cried, louder than she ought.  The students sitting closest to them turned to watch them with a mixture of annoyance and amusement.

“What else?”

“Animals and people and creatures and things,” she continued, growing even louder in her excitement.  “But if you wanna move it, you can summon something they have on or are holding and it almost works the same.”

“Ah, that’s very good, Cecelia,” Flitwick called from the front of the class, looking at them over the tops of his glasses.  “Perhaps it might be best if you and your father let me teach the class.”

“Sorry, Mr. Flitwick!” Cecelia said while Sherlock muttered his own apology.  They managed to remain quiet as Flitwick taught for a few more minutes before Cecelia began squirming in Sherlock’s lap.  She seemed to be staring intently up at the front of the class, but not at Flitwick specifically.  Rather, she stared down one of the extra pieces of chalk further down on the board.  Once Sherlock realised what she was doing, he began to whisper encouragements into her ear.  As the chalk began to teeter on its spot, Sherlock’s whispers grew louder and the students’ focus turned from Flitwick to the flickering chalk.  With a bit of concentration, Cecelia managed to lift the chalk and bring it shooting across the room.  Sherlock raised his hand to snatch it out of the air just as Flitwick turned to gape at them.

“What in Merlin’s beard is going on over there?” Flitwick demanded, his hands going to his hips.  “Mr. Holmes!”

“It wasn’t Papa, Mr. Flitwick!” Cecelia declared.  She grabbed the chalk from Sherlock and held it out for Flitwick to see.  “I was practicing my summoning, like you said we should!”

“Did she just – “ Flitwick’s head darted from the board back to them.  “She can silently summon without a wand?”

Sherlock shrugged with a grin.  “We’ve been working on it for a while.”

Flitwick shook his head, the movement shaking his whole body.  “Be that as it may, these distractions are growing to be too much.  I must insist that you both leave until at least this class is finished.”

Cecelia hopped down and brought the chalk up to Flitwick.  Sherlock sent him a grimace of apology and began to lead Cecelia from the room.  Just as they were at the door, Sherlock turned back to face the class.  “If you’d like any help with wordless summoning, let us know!”  Sending the students a wink, he pulled the door closed and followed Cecelia back down the corridor.

“What now, Papa?” she asked, facing him as she skipped backwards.  Sherlock sighed as he walked behind her, his hands deep in his trouser pockets.

“I’m not sure.  There are only a few other classes that might be of interest and still follow Da’s requirements…”

“We could go see Mr. Doyle in his class.”  She turned to pretend to fly down the corridor, her arms held out like aeroplane wings.  “He’s showed me some stuff and it looked really cool.”

“Cecelia.”  She turned at his stern voice, her face twisted in confusion.  Sherlock marched up to her and knelt down, placing his hands carefully on her shoulders.  “When have you talked to Mr. Doyle?”

She shrugged and shuffled her feet, refusing to meet his eyes.  “Just around.  Sometimes he comes to the hospital when Da’s busy and keeps me company.  He took me to the library once so I could get a book.”

Letting out a slow breath, Sherlock tilted her chin so she was looking him in the eye.  “Listen to me very carefully, bee – I don’t want you to be alone with Mr. Doyle, okay?”

“But whyyyyy?” she whined, her lips lowering into a pout.

He pulled her into a hug, rubbing a hand up and down her back reassuringly.  “Just do it for your papa, please.  Mr. Doyle reminds me of a very bad man your da and I once had trouble with and it would make me feel better if you stayed away from him.”

“Is it that man Da’s told me stories about and tried to say they were just pretend?”

Sherlock smiled into her hair.  “Yes, that man.  Do you understand now?”

She nodded against his chest and looked up at him with large eyes.  “I’ll stay away from him for you, Papa.”

Kissing the top of her head, Sherlock straightened and took her hand.  “Thank you, bee.  Now, should we go see Professor Slughorn down in Potions?”

She dragged him along in excitement and they made their way down towards the dungeons.  When they reached Slughorn’s classroom, they found it empty.  Cecelia marched over to one of the desks that had a leftover cauldron on it and climbed up onto the stool behind it.  Balancing precariously, she leaned forward on her knees to peer inside.  Sherlock quickly rushed to hold her up with a hand on her back.  She sat back on her heels with a pout to glare up at him.

“It’s empty,” she declared as she climbed back down to continue exploring.  Sherlock shot the cauldron a look before following after her.

“Probably for the best.  I can’t imagine a potion left unattended in an empty classroom would be a wise example of proper potion care.”

The office door at the back of the classroom creaked open, Slughorn’s face peering out with curiosity.  When he spotted Sherlock, he broke out in a smile and pulled the door the rest of the way open.

“Sherlock!  What a wonderful surprise!”  He spotted Cecelia and approached her.  “And Miss Cecelia as well, how excellent!  What can I do for you two this fine afternoon?”

“We wanna learn!” Cecelia declared, spinning around from the row of ingredients she had been inspecting to beam up at him.

“Do you now?  Well, I just so happen to have a free period at the moment, so I would be more than happy to assist.  Did you have any particular potion in mind?”

“How is the supply of pepperup potion?” Sherlock asked.  “We might as well help John with his work in the process, and I don’t believe I’ve ever taught Cecelia how to make it.”

“Excellent!  Let me just grab everything we’ll need…”  As Slughorn dug around through his shelves of supplies, Sherlock conjured a back to one of the stools to make it sturdier.  Once certain it wouldn’t collapse, he lifted Cecelia up into it and pushed her towards the table.  When sat flat on her bum, she could nearly rest her chin on the tabletop.  Slughorn chuckled as he brought over their cauldron of supplies, giving his wand a wave once his hands were free.  Her seat gradually rose until she could sit at the table properly, instantly reaching out to pull the cauldron closer.

“So then, Sherlock,” Slughorn began as Cecelia started to measure out ingredients.  “Your John was able to give me a few of the tales he’s written of your many exciting adventures.  Quite a life the two of you have led!”

Sherlock took up a knife and began to slice what Cecelia passed over to him.  “Yes.  Although John has always been quite fond of romanticising them, even before our relationship turned romantic.”

“Ah yes, I’ve heard that is a common trait of his.  He was a heartbreaker back in his Hogwarts days, so I’ve been told!”

“You weren’t working at Hogwarts while John was here, then?”

Slughorn’s expression turned troubled as he pulled out his wand, stirring the potion that Cecelia had been preparing nearly single-handedly from the instructions given to her.  “Not at that time, no.  My time at Hogwarts has been fraught with regret and bad choices.  I worked here once long ago, before either of you were born, and made the unfortunate choice to discuss very dangerous dark magic with a student named Tom Riddle.”

Sherlock’s eyes lit up at the mention of the name.  “You knew Lord Voldemort.”

“Unfortunately yes.  But thankfully those times are long since past.  And should anyone attempt to follow in his footsteps, we have people such as Harry Potter and yourself to take care of it.”

Sherlock hummed his agreement, only half paying attention to Slughorn as he continued to speak.  Cecelia remained dedicatedly focused on her potion, her forehead creased in concentration.  Despite several attempts to bring the conversation back towards Slughorn’s past with Voldemort, by the time they had several completed bottles of potion, Sherlock knew nothing more than when he began.  He piled them up with additional empty bottles to take to John and an invitation to return any time before Slughorn shooed them off to prepare for his next class.  Resigned to his temporary failure, Sherlock followed Cecelia back to their flat to show John their hard work.

Chapter Text

The next few weeks went by in a similar fashion to those before.  Sherlock took Cecelia down to visit Slughorn and practice potions at least once a week.  Occasionally they would arrive in the midst of a class, but whatever potion they were working on, they would be invited in with a smile and a wave.  Cecelia seemed just as skilled at ‘magic chemistry,’ as she preferred to call it, as Sherlock was.  Somehow, unlike the other classes, they managed to not get kicked out, most likely because they behaved themselves and didn’t attempt to cause trouble for a change.  Slughorn’s need to add Sherlock to his collection of successful acquaintances didn’t hurt either.

Doyle, meanwhile, seemed to have given up on pursuing Sherlock for the time being.  Occasionally Sherlock would catch him watching him out of the corner of his eye, quick to turn his attention away the moment Sherlock noticed.  For the most part, Sherlock could ignore him in favour of John, particularly since he had begun to be even more romantic than usual. 

Due to his job, most mornings John was up far earlier than Sherlock, leaving him unfortunately alone in their bed.  As it grew closer to Christmas, however, Sherlock began to find Osiria roses on his bedside table, waiting for him when he woke.  He tried not to get his hopes up for what it could mean, but he couldn’t help but wonder if they were a sign of an upcoming proposal.

As much as Doyle was leaving Sherlock alone, Albus and Scorpius were around even more often than before.  Cecelia adored both of them, often going with them back to their common room to spend additional time with them.  Sherlock and John, after years of caring for her without many breaks beyond the rush of cases, appreciated them for each new chance they had to be alone.  With Christmas break approaching, both Harry and Draco contacted John about the possibility of the three of them joining their families for the holiday.  When John was forced to decline due to the fact that he would need to remain at Hogwarts in case of an emergency with the remaining students, Albus and Scorpius instead decided to remain so they could all still celebrate together.  The two had plans to come to the flat for brunch with John, Sherlock, and Cecelia on Christmas morning and both of their families had agreed to send their presents along to go under their tree.

It was barely December when John dragged Sherlock out onto the grounds, intent on cutting down a tree for them the Muggle way.  They made sure to keep close to the forest’s edge, wary of the stories of what lurked within.  Sherlock burrowed his smile into his scarf as John climbed under their chosen tree and attempted to fight the branches in order to chop it down.  Eventually he let out a burst of laughter, his gloved hands gripping his knees to keep himself upright.  John, meanwhile, glared up at him from where he sat in a pile of wet snow, covered in needles and icicles from the branches.  Sherlock’s laughter came to an abrupt halt as John yanked at his coat, forcing him down into the snow with him.  They tussled for a few minutes, shoving snow down each other’s backs and fighting to hold down the other.  Before they realised it, their play wrestling became frantic rutting until the both of them found themselves cold, wet, and with pants soaked in come.  Once they realised what they’d done, they burst into heavier laughter, collapsing over each other until they could barely breathe.  Through their giggles, they cleaned up as best as they could, finished chopping down their tree, and returned with it to the warmth of the castle.

They made sure to take a trip into London to visit Mrs. Hudson the next day and pick up the Christmas decorations they’d left behind out of necessity.  She piled them with knitted jumpers and baked goods, promising to make and send them even more when she learned about Scorpius and Albus.  Her eyes grew teary as they described the young couple and the bond they had created with them.  As they prepared to return to their plain tree and undecorated flat, she made them promise to bring the two around once the school year was over so she could meet them properly.  Laden with more food than they ever could have been expected to finish, they returned to Hogwarts to begin their decorating.

Cecelia immediately rushed for the tree, dumping her backpack and all of its contents across the sitting room floor.  Billy the skull soon found himself with a pair of tiny antlers on his head, the bison skull topped with a jauntily placed Santa hat.  As Sherlock and Cecelia tackled the tree, John frowned at the tangled pile of fairy lights.  While the mess could easily be fixed with a wave of his wand, he wasn’t sure what point they would have if he couldn’t plug them into anything.

“Hey Sherlock,” he asked, setting a hand on Sherlock’s hip to steady him as he stood on a stool to reach the upper branches.  “You wouldn’t happen to have gotten any farther on your experiments with electricity, have you?”

Frowning, Sherlock adjusted the draping of one of the lines of tinsel.  “No.  For some reason, the magic simply refuses to communicate with electricity, no matter what I do to manipulate it.  It’s become much clearer why no one has managed to make it work yet.”

“Hmm.”  John rubbed one of the lights in his fingers thoughtfully.  “There must be something we can use these for instead.”  Glancing around the room, he spotted a jar of firefly dust they used a few days previously to touch up the glittering stars on Cecelia’s ceiling.  Curious, John took one of the lights and dipped it into the dust, sending a spray of sparkles across the floor when he shook off the excess.  When he pulled the light fully out, it gave off a soft glow.

“Da, what are you doing?” Cecelia asked, the spray of glittering shine distracting her from covering every bottom branch of the tree with decorations.  When John held up the glowing light, she let out a gasp and dropped the stuffed elf mouse ornament she held as she ran to his side.  “How did you do that?”

“Looks like the firefly dust works on fairy lights as well as ceilings,” he said.  She wedged herself between his legs as he sat on the sofa and watched intently as he dipped and shook out another light.  It came away glowing like the first and Cecelia’s eyes grew wide.  “Go ahead and give it a try; just make sure to shake it off really well so we don’t trail dust across the flat.”

Sherlock stepped down from the stool and raised an eyebrow at them.  “There doesn’t seem to be much of a point, given how much has already gotten on the floor over there.  Our sofa will be glowing for months.”

John rolled his eyes at Sherlock as he strolled past them into the kitchen.  While Cecelia helped him finish the first strand of lights, Sherlock scrounged around behind them, the noises trailing out into the sitting room.  For a moment, John simply sat back to stare at the room around him and he could barely stop himself from holding back an emotional sniff.  He never expected to return to the wizarding world once he left, let alone come back with his ideal happy family.  He hid his face in Cecelia’s hair, who remained completely ignorant of John’s emotional breakdown.

Sherlock soon returned from the kitchen with a tray of mugs topped with twirls of whipped cream.  The moment he spotted John’s expression, he set the tray aside and joined them on the sofa.  John instantly shifted so that he could lean against Sherlock, who wrapped his arm around John’s shoulder in such a natural way that John had to stifle another sob.

“Is this something about the dust on the floor?” Sherlock muttered into John’s hair.  “Because you know I really don’t mind.  You know how I truly feel about dust.”

John chuckled wetly and shook his head.  “No, you berk.  I don’t care about the dust either.  I’m just…happy.”

Sherlock hummed and pulled him closer as Cecelia moved away to find another strand of fairy lights to decorate.  John shifted the glowing lights onto the coffee table and pulled Sherlock into a proper embrace, wrapping his arms around Sherlock’s waist.  They nuzzled into each other as they watched Cecelia dart around the room continuing her decorating.  Her focused determination as she completed one task after another reminded Sherlock of himself so viscerally that his grip unintentionally tightened where it sat on John’s thigh.  When John glanced up at him, he was blinking harshly and gave his head a single hard shake.

“I think I understand what you mean,” he eventually replied, John chuckling in response.  Once Cecelia finished covering the last section of the tree, John called her over to join them on the sofa again.  She climbed up to sit between them, reaching out for the smaller mug decorated with penguins ice skating on a pond.  Sherlock held it by the bottom for her as she blew across the frothy surface and took a sip.  She hummed happily and took a bigger drink, resting the mug in her cross legged lap.  Making sure she wouldn’t spill it first, Sherlock grabbed the other two mugs and passed one over to John with a small smile.

It would be perfect, right now, John suddenly thought as he stared across at Sherlock.  The fire in the grate sat diagonally to him, the glow lighting up his face and the lines that told the struggles and joys of his gradually increasing years.  His eyes held a spark in the light that half came from the fire itself and half purely from Sherlock alone, the flecks of varying colours flashing with affection.  John’s thoughts settled on the ring pouch tucked away in his desk and he wondered if he could say the words without their comforting presence in his palm.

Before he had the chance to make a decision, a knock echoed down to them from the front door.  Hoping the distraction would help steel himself, John set his mug aside and went to answer it.  To his surprise, he found Madam Hooch on the other side, a stack of photographs in her hands.  She smirked at him before passing the pile to him.

“I was going through some old things in my office and came across these,” she explained.  John’s eyes widened when he realised what they were, flipping through them with increasing enthusiasm.  “I thought you might be interested in them.”

“Or that my boyfriend would be,” he said, raising an eyebrow at her.  Her smile widened as she crossed her arms over her chest and shrugged.

“You could say that.  If nothing else, you’ll get more use out of them than I ever will.”  With a wave and a wink, she headed back up the corridor, leaving John thoughtful as he clutched the photos to his chest.  All thoughts of the pair of rings fell from his mind as he contemplated a plan for his gift, slipping out to find a proper hiding place for them in his office until he could bring it to fruition.

~~~

The holiday grew ever closer, Cecelia’s excitement increasing with each day that passed.  She managed to trick both John and Sherlock into helping with her presents to them without either of them knowing.  John was caught one afternoon when Cecelia was forced to remain in the hospital wing while Sherlock returned to London for a day to help Lestrade with an emergency case.  Sherlock, meanwhile, spent an afternoon working on the present with her rather than their usual potion experiments in Slughorn’s classroom.  Satisfied with her work, she hid them side by side under her mattress and waited anxiously for Christmas to arrive.

Christmas morning began with a far too early wakeup as John was roused from their bed by a Gryffindor who had been tricked into taking a particularly bad Weasley product from a mischievous James Potter.  After telling him off with a threat to expose him to both his mother and grandmother, he sent the boys back to their dormitory and returned to Sherlock warm and asleep in bed.

With a sly grin, John crawled into the bed from the bottom, climbing under the golden duvet and tucking it back in to keep the warmth inside.  In the darkness of both the half morning light and the lowered duvet, he could only feel around for Sherlock’s legs to find his way.  Sherlock shivered when John’s fingers followed the opposite direction of the hair on his legs as he made his way up to his thighs.  His breathing still felt deep and steady when John snuck his hand up to rest against Sherlock’s chest.  While his body continued its journey up towards Sherlock’s head, John left one of his hands resting just to the side of Sherlock’s half interested cock.

Pushing aside the blankets, John popped his head up next to Sherlock’s, nuzzling into his neck as he traced the outline of his cock through his pants.  Sherlock still fought to remain asleep, but John could see his breath beginning to hitch and his eyes fluttering under his lashes.  John ran his thumbnail under the head of Sherlock’s cock where it pushed against the band of his pants, guiding it out to rub his thumb against the slit.  Sherlock’s eyes shot open on a gasp and his head thrashed until he could see John’s face.  His gaping mouthed surprise made John grin even wider.

“Happy Christmas,” he muttered as he bent down to kiss him, his hand busy toying with Sherlock’s now wet cockhead.  Sherlock groaned and twisted into the kiss, pushing down the duvet to give John more room.  Too impatient to bother letting Sherlock wake up enough to shift his pants fully off, John worked the top band down enough to fully expose his cock, leaving his balls trapped in the dark fabric.  He spread the wetness from the tip down to his base to help ease his way as he sped up, quickly bringing Sherlock off.  Sherlock gasped and blinked up at the ceiling after he came, running a shaking hand through his sleep mussed hair.

“Happy Christmas,” Sherlock echoed, his voice gravelly from both sleep and exertion.  He rested a hand on John’s neck, turning to blink down at him where he lay smiling up at him from Sherlock’s chest.  “Was that my present?”

“One of them,” John replied, kissing him again before sitting up.  “You can thank me properly later tonight – Cecelia’s bound to be up any second.  Best get yourself cleaned up.”

Sherlock rolled over onto his stomach and groaned, burying himself into the pillows and blankets.  John gave his bum a sound smack as he climbed back out and adjusted his own trousers.  Shooting him a glare with a single eye sticking out from the pile, Sherlock let out a sigh before gathering everything around him and shuffling to the edge of the bed.  As soon as John opened their door, Cecelia stood on the outside, still dressed in her Peppa Pig nightdress and bouncing on her toes.  Sherlock’s eyes widened and he fell across the bed to pull the end curtains closed, shielding himself.  John rolled his eyes and led Cecelia away, giving Sherlock some privacy.

John passed her stocking down to her on the floor as he went to go make them tea.  Albus and Scorpius were due to arrive at ten, not long after the house elves would bring them all a small brunch to share.  Though the trip down to arrange the special meal took nearly an hour, Cecelia enjoyed herself and the elves seemed delighted by her.  By the time John brought out the three mugs, Sherlock was dressed and sat cross legged and leaning against the sofa next to Cecelia.  He accepted the mug with a smile and John took a seat above them near Sherlock’s head.  They watched Cecelia as she gradually made her way through the stocking, John running his free hand through Sherlock’s hair absentmindedly.

Cecelia amused herself with the tiny toys in her stocking until the knock at the door announced Albus and Scorpius’ arrival.  While Sherlock went to lead them inside, John arranged the dishes of food as best he could with what room they had.  The children immediately made for the enormous pile of presents below the dust lit tree, sitting with surprising patience as Cecelia dug through it and handed over everyone’s gifts one by one.  Soon all three had their own individual piles surrounding them as they waited anxiously for permission to begin.

Once John returned to the room with fresh drinks for himself and Sherlock, he rolled his eyes at their anticipation.  “All right, go on then,” he said as he folded himself back on the sofa with Sherlock.  Instantly they tore into their boxes, wrapping paper covering nearly every available surface.  John shifted himself closer to Sherlock, burying himself in Sherlock’s chest as he smiled at the chaos around them.

“Thank God for magic or this would be hell to clean up later,” Sherlock mumbled, wrapping an arm around John’s shoulders.  John chuckled and was about to reply when Cecelia darted over to wave something in their faces.

“Da, Papa!  Grandmum Weasley sent me a new jumper too!”  John took it to study it better and she instantly rushed back to her pile.  The jumper was a lilac purple, the giant knitted c in the middle a darker shade.  He folded it back into a square and rested it on his lap with a shake of his head.

“Cecelia’s getting Weasley knits – we’re officially part of the family now,” John commented, leaning his head back to look up at Sherlock.

“Just what this family needs, more jumpers.”  John elbowed him and leaned forward to put his mug on the coffee table.

“Be nice or no more presents.  Cecelia, darling?”  He waited for her braided head to pop up before continuing.  “Have you found Da and Papa’s presents in all of this mess?”

Her face lit up and she scrambled to her feet.  Instead of searching under the tree, she ran back into her room, coming back with two packages in her hand.  She handed one to each of them and returned to the tree to find their presents for each other.

As John looked down at the construction paper creation, he couldn’t help but start giggling.  Cecelia had formed hearts out of the paper, complete with laced edging and covered in stickers.  In the middle, a picture of the three of them when Cecelia was still a baby waved up at them, obviously developed to be made into a moving wizarding photograph despite the image having been taken on a mobile.  The design of Sherlock’s was nearly identical, the main differences coming from the colours and the picture itself.  While John recognized that the image on his came from Sherlock’s mobile, the one on Sherlock’s came from John’s.  When John glanced over at Sherlock, he was barely hiding a smirk.

“She managed to trick us into practically making each other’s presents, didn’t she?” he asked, remembering when Cecelia came to him asking for a picture they could animate.  Sherlock nodded and let out a deep chuckle.

“You have to admit, she’s brilliant,” Sherlock replied, looking back down at his gift.  “Tricky, but brilliant.”

“Just like her papa.”  Sherlock’s cheeks turned pink as Cecelia wobbled over to them, attempting to carry both of their fairly large presents at the same time.  Albus darted forward to catch John’s just as it began to slide out of her grip, passing it over to him with a smile.  Cecelia delivered Sherlock his and made her way back to her own gifts to continue opening them.  With a quick look at each other, John and Sherlock began peeling back the bright paper of their presents.

John flipped the top of the box open and immediately gasped.  He scrambled to get the object out and inspect it fully.  Inside was a decent sized glass case, the bottom a solid black wood base.  It contained a single Osiria rose, preserved at full bloom and suspended in midair.  John shook his head, his grin widening and his throat growing thick as he turned to look at Sherlock.

Sherlock’s expression looked as wide eyed and shocked as John’s felt.  He had a rectangular shaped book propped open in his lap and he carefully turned the pages with a delicacy borne out of reverence.  Each page held between two and four photographs, many of them faded with rough edges but all of them perfectly clear.  Sherlock slid one of them out of its sleeve to look at it closer, his thumb rubbing the edge with a careful touch.

The one Sherlock chose specifically wasn’t much different than most of the others the album held.  John, most likely around fifteen years old, sat astride his broom, his Quidditch robes billowing down behind him.  He lifted a hand to wave at Sherlock and shot him a wink before darting away out of frame.  He returned seconds later, following a red ball and catching it just before it went through the hoop in the background of the image.  His arm flexed as he threw the ball back out of frame and he wiped at his forehead, his fringe sticking up wildly from the movement.  Sherlock let out a slow breath and returned the image to its appropriate place.

“If you look further back, there are some from when I was captain,” John said, pulling Sherlock out of his dazed staring.  He briefly looked up at John before skipping further back into the book.  His breath caught when he narrowed in on a picture of John on the ground surrounded by his teammates, all of them laughing with their arms around each other.  Clearly it was a practice, since John wore a pair of shorts and a t-shirt rather than the usual uniform.  The shorts clung tightly to his muscled thighs and the biceps that were normally hidden in the fabric of his robes stood out in relief where he stretched to wrap an arm around a friend.  Much of the youthful roundness in his cheeks had smoothed out into a face much more familiar to Sherlock.  Though still one of the shortest people in the picture, John stood prominent at the centre of the group, radiating light and joy.

“That one wasn’t long after our last game of the season, actually,” John said wistfully.  “We just barely beat Slytherin, one eighty to one seventy.  A bunch of the other seventh years and I decided to just have a scrimmage as a last hurrah type of thing.”  He pointed to the woman standing next to him, whom he had his arm draped over her shoulders.  As they watched, she latched her arms around his waist and squeezed him tightly, pulling a laugh out of him.  Sherlock heard the John seated next to him swallow and he clenched the fist that wasn’t holding his present.

“Is that Tonks?” Sherlock asked quietly, eyes on John.  He didn’t speak of his former best friend often, but Sherlock knew enough about her to assume this was her.  John nodded and took the picture to study it closer.

“It is, yeah.  I haven’t got too many photos of her…the last one was when she and her husband got married.  It was just a small, quick thing since we were in the middle of what was essentially a war, but they asked me to be one of the witnesses.”  He handed the picture back and smiled sadly at Sherlock.  “You would have liked her, and Remus.”

Sensing John’s increasing melancholy, Sherlock smiled and put the photo back before changing the subject.  “What position were you?  I know even less about Quidditch than I do Muggle sports.”

“Keeper.  When I first tried out in my second year, they tried to get me to be a seeker because of my size, but I was bored out of my skull.  Sure, when you spot the snitch it’s thrilling as hell, but most of the game you spend sitting around watching.  When I was a keeper, I could keep track of all the action still but actually got involved too.  Keeper’s basically a goalie in football but more exciting since it’s in the air and with three hoops instead of one goal.”

“Everyone always assumes you’re some great rugby champion when really you were off at your magical school playing Quidditch.”  Sherlock grinned and turned the page of the album.  “There’s always something.”

“To be fair, I did play a bit of rugby before going to Hogwarts and when I was at uni to become a Muggle doctor.”  When John glanced up, he noticed that Cecelia and the boys had finished opening their presents.  “Hey Síleas, come look at this.”

Cecelia climbed up between them and Sherlock placed the album carefully on her lap.  Albus and Scorpius followed her, each of them sitting on one of the arms of the sofa so that they could see as well.  Cecelia flipped through the pages without too much interest until she found the images of John when he was older and looked more like himself.  Her eyes widened and she pointed at one of them with enthusiasm.

“Da!  That’s you!” she cried, her face breaking out into a smile.

“I didn’t know you played Quidditch, Uncle John,” Albus said as he leaned over John’s shoulder to look closer.  “Were you any good?”

“I was captain my last two years and we won four cups while I was on the team,” John replied with a wide grin.  “I suppose you could say I was pretty decent.”

“My dad tried to teach me Quidditch when I was a kid,” Scorpius said with a grimace.  “It was a disaster.  Physical activity’s never been much of a thing for me.”

“I think it would be interesting to learn how to fly on a broomstick,” Sherlock mused as he shifted to rest his arm over the top of the sofa.  “I doubt I’d be much good at playing, but flying…that could be fascinating.”

“Maybe we could get you a broom and give it a shot,” John replied, excitement sparkling in his eyes.  “We could even get a toy one for you to try and see how you like it, eh, baby girl?

“Ooh, YES!” Cecelia said as she bounced in place.  “Would you teach us how to be keepers, Da?”

“Your papa’s already a keeper, but I’ll give it a shot.”  John winked as Sherlock groaned and rolled his eyes.  Albus and Scorpius snickered into their hands while Cecelia remained blissfully oblivious.

“You should talk to Madam Hooch about helping out with the Hufflepuff team sometime,” Albus said once he got his breath back.  “They could use it.”

“Yeah, their team’s rubbish this year,” Scorpius added.  When John raised an eyebrow at him, he winced.  “I mean…I don’t know much about Quidditch, but I know you need to score points to win.”

“Could do, yeah,” John said, grinning over at Scorpius to show he meant no harm.  “It might be nice to get back on the field, try out some of my old moves.”

Sherlock’s eyes lit up as Cecelia handed the album back to him.  “Would these practices involve the old workout gear as well?”

John drew his arm up over the top of Sherlock’s on the sofa and trailed his hand over to Sherlock’s nape, giving it a light squeeze.  “Hmm, perhaps.  I might even be inclined to give you a private show.”

“Ew,” Cecelia muttered, climbing down off the sofa.  John barked out a laugh while Sherlock simply grinned.  “Can we have food now?  I smell French toast.”

“Go ahead, it’s all set up in the kitchen.”  John shuffled over to place a kiss on Sherlock’s lips as the kids raced in to get their food.  “Your gift is beautiful.  Did you do it all yourself?”

“I found the rose out on the grounds about two months ago,” Sherlock replied as he snuggled against John’s side.  “I brought Neville out and he showed me how to harvest it without ruining it and gave me a recipe for a solution to preserve and suspend it.  He’s been holding on to it in his office for me so you wouldn’t find it.”

“Well, it’s perfect.  Thank you.”  He heard a crash and giggles from the kitchen and groaned.  Reluctantly, he shifted around Sherlock and rose to his feet, intent on going to investigate what trouble was going on in the other room.  He placed a kiss on Sherlock’s forehead and smiled when his eyes closed at the move.  “Happy Christmas, love.”

Sherlock’s eyes slowly opened as he smiled up at John.  “Happy Christmas, John.”

Chapter Text

One of the advantages to Christmas break was that John’s schedule became much more flexible, thanks to the smaller number of students left at the school.  He arranged a temporary system with McGonagall, creating a sort of pager with a fake coin to summon him back to the castle in case of an emergency while he was out.  The coin reminded John strongly of his last years in the Order, when they adapted the coins from Dumbledore’s Army that Hermione made to work for the wider group.  With the coin, he managed to join Sherlock and Cecelia as they explored the snowy grounds and the various shops in Hogsmeade.

On one of their trips into town when Albus and Scorpius joined them, John was struck by how idyllically perfect the place was during winter.  The cobblestones of the streets turned white from the Scottish snow that covered the roads and nestled into the curves of the wooden buildings.  It almost looked like the inside of a snow globe gently shaken to allow the snow to cover whatever surfaces it could find.  Walking the streets with his mitted hand clasped with Sherlock’s gloved one, John wished he could capture the exact moment to place on his shelf and return to when he needed a moment of peace.

Perhaps it was the setting, but John felt himself making sure he kept the pouch with their rings deep in the pocket of his jacket whenever they went out of the castle.  He still hadn’t thought of the ideal time or place to propose and the longer he waited, the more he expected one wouldn’t arrive.  More than once he attempted to simply let the words spill out without forethought or worry, but each time they caught in the back of his throat and refused to cooperate.  John feared that he would never manage to do it and grew to hope that Sherlock would get tired of waiting and demand that John hand over his ring so they could begin planning already.  At this point, the idea that Sherlock didn’t know what John was up to seemed unfathomable.

As John and Sherlock followed Cecelia, Albus, and Scorpius into the Hogsmeade Weasley joke shop, John wondered if he should take advantage of the two boys and their longstanding offer to look after Cecelia when they needed it.  He knew their unofficial anniversary, the day they first met in Barts and really became Sherlock and John, was approaching, and despite the fact that the students would long since have returned by then, surely he could spare an afternoon to propose to his boyfriend.  The students couldn’t get in too much trouble on a Wednesday in late January, so John pulled Scorpius aside while Sherlock was distracted showing Cecelia a new potion George had developed and asked what he thought about an afternoon of Cecelia watching.  Scorpius excitedly agreed and John made plans to drop her off at the Slytherin common room after their last class on the 29th.

John attempted to keep his nerves in check as the day grew closer, immersing himself in work to distract himself and prevent any suspicion from Sherlock.  On the day of January 29th, John went to the hospital wing in the morning as usual.  Sherlock headed to the library, hoping to get into the restricted section to search for more books on technology and magic.  He didn’t show up at the Great Hall for lunch, unsurprising given how often he normally missed that meal when Cecelia wasn’t with him to remind him.  Frankly, John was grateful he had some time away from Sherlock, his nerves growing increasingly worse as the day went on.  He eventually gave up on doing any more work, leaving a sign on the hospital wing door on how to contact him as he locked up.

He and Cecelia made a stop to the flat to grab a few toys for her to bring with her down to the Slytherin common room.  She skipped down the corridors excitedly, swinging her rainbow backpack on her elbow, and John couldn’t find it in him to tell her to slow down.  When they reached the common room, both Albus and Scorpius stood waiting outside for them, their bags still over their shoulders.  Cecelia sped up and threw herself at Albus, nearly knocking him over.  The smile on Scorpius’ face reminded John so strongly of how Sherlock looked at him when he was feeling particularly fond that John felt a new wave of resolve settle into his chest.  The boys wished John good luck as they led Cecelia into their common room and John straightened his shoulders in determination as he went in search of Sherlock.

He must have managed to pester Madam Pince enough that she relented and let him into the restricted section just to get him to leave her be.  When John asked her where Sherlock was, she rolled her eyes and gestured toward the section, saying that she last saw him halfway down the second to last row.  That’s exactly where John found him, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor with an enormous book propped against his knees.  His hair was a complete chaos of mad curls, an immediate sign to John as to how his research was going.

John approached him and placed a soft hand on top of the disorderly curls.  Sherlock jumped so much that he nearly knocked the book out of his lap.  John frowned in concern at the unusually strong reaction and crouched down to kneel at his side.

“Sorry, it’s just me,” John said quietly, smiling reassuringly down at Sherlock.  “You okay?”

“Yes, sorry,” Sherlock responded, his voice oddly shaky as he once again ran a hand through his hair.  He tried to smile back at John, but it didn’t reach his eyes.  “I must have been more absorbed in my reading than I thought.”

“You sure?  You’re awfully pale.”  John shifted his hand up to feel Sherlock’s forehead, rubbing his thumb there in a calming motion.  Sherlock’s eyes slid shut and he nodded, careful not to knock off John’s hand.

“Yes, I’m fine.  I’ve probably just been stuck in here too long.”

John’s grin widened and he straightened, holding out his hand for Sherlock to take.  “Well then, you’re in luck, because I’m here to take you out on a date.”

Sherlock knit his forehead up in confusion.  “A date?  What for?”

“Are you trying to tell me I can’t take my beautiful boyfriend out for dinner without a specific reason?”  Sherlock rolled his eyes, but the tops of his cheeks turned pink.

“Very well.  Where are we going?  We can’t go to London, you’re technically still on duty – “

“Don’t you worry about it, I’ve got it all settled,” John interrupted as they reached the front of the library.  He grabbed their coats from where he left them on an empty table and helped Sherlock into his.  “All you’ve got to do tonight is enjoy.”  And say yes, John thought, keeping the words to himself.  Sherlock narrowed his eyes but allowed John to place his coat over his shoulders without comment.  John quickly put on his own jacket and situated Sherlock’s hand in his elbow as he led them out of the castle.

“We’re not going to London, then,” Sherlock said thoughtfully as they made their way down the snowy path.  A few flakes drifted down around them, landing artfully in his hair.  He ignored them as he continued.  “Obviously this is a trip down to Hogsmeade instead.  There are only three places to go to eat there, and you mentioned dinner, so clearly we’ll be going to one of them.  I’d never set foot in that atrocious tea shop, as you are well aware, and while the Hog’s Head is a quiet establishment, you’re not particularly fond of the food there.  We must be on our way to the Three Broomsticks.”

“You can’t just go along with it and enjoy, can you?”  Sherlock glanced at him sheepishly, but John just laughed and squeezed his arm.  “It’s all right, and yes, we’re going to the Three Broomsticks.  Is that okay?”  Sherlock nodded and neither of them spoke as they continued on to their destination.

It was still early enough in the evening that the pub was fairly empty, a few regular locals dotting the tables near the bar.  John nodded to Madam Rosmerta, who smiled and winked, before leading Sherlock to the tables and chairs scattered in the empty dining room.  He chose a table tucked away in a corner near a window, once more helping Sherlock with his coat.  Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him, but allowed John to push in his chair once he sat without comment, watching him with interested eyes as John sat across from him.

Rosmerta arrived seconds later, two pints of butterbeer in her hands.  “On the house, gentlemen,” she said, grinning widely at Sherlock.  “Just let me know if you need anything else.”

John nodded and smiled his thanks as he took a sip and reached for one of the menus sat at the end of the table.  He began to scan over it but quickly grew distracted by the feeling of eyes watching him.  When he glanced up, Sherlock’s eyes were narrowed suspiciously at him.

“What?” he asked, attempting to sound as casual as possible.  Clearly Sherlock wasn’t falling for it as his mouth pinched into a tight line.

“This is more than just a usual dinner date.”  Sherlock scanned what he could see of John, which thankfully didn’t include the odd, lumpy shape of the ring pouch in his trouser pocket.  “You’re acting peculiar.  And since when do we get free things without doing anything to gain gratitude for them first?  I haven’t said more than half a dozen words to…whatever it is her name is, I’ve deleted it, so why would she bring us free drinks?”  His face smoothed out for a moment as a thought came to him before it twisted into a scowl.  “Does she not realise that we are a romantic couple?  Quick, John, while she’s looking, kiss me before she – “

John leaned across the table and placed a light kiss on his lips.  “That was to shut you up, not because you asked, by the way.  Rosmerta knows exactly what we are to one another.  Have you paid any attention to what today is?”

“Wednesday?”  John chuckled and wrapped one of Sherlock’s enormous hands in his.

“Well, yes, technically.  I meant more the date rather than the day of the week, though.”

Sherlock’s forehead furrowed in thought.  John knew the instant he realised from how round his mouth became.  “The 29th of January.  The first day we met.”

“Knew you’d get there eventually.  So yeah, there’s a good reason for a date and everything.  I let Rosmerta know we were coming and why, which is probably why she sent over the drinks.”

Sherlock nodded and gazed down at his drink, turning his hand around from where John held it down so their fingers could link properly.  “I hadn’t realised that you remembered the exact date.”

“It helps that I wrote my first proper blog post about it.”  Sherlock rolled his eyes and grinned at John through his fringe.  “Right, this is a dinner date which means you have to eat something or risk offending me.  What are you thinking?  Fish and chips?”  When Sherlock nodded, John squeezed his hand and stood.  “Okay, let me just go let Rosmerta know and grab us a couple more drinks.”

Sherlock watched as John headed to the bar, fighting to contain his smile and failing miserably.  He danced his fingers against his half full glass as he gazed absentmindedly across the nearly empty pub.  His thoughts returned, as they often did recently, to his suspicion that John would propose soon, wondering if this evening was meant to be more than just an anniversary meal.  Before he could grow too engrossed in his thoughts, a shadow at his side caused him to freeze and turn.

Doyle’s grinning face looked down at him.  He rested one of his hips against the table, his opposite hand loosely clasping a small tumbler of amber liquid.  Once he was certain he had Sherlock’s full attention, he lazily raised the glass to take a long and deliberate sip.  When his eyes slowly pushed back open, he narrowed them down at Sherlock, taking the opportunity of his for once taller position to survey his entire body.  While Sherlock managed to contain an uncomfortable shift in his chair, he allowed his disdainful sneer to be obvious.

“May I help you?” he asked through clenched teeth.  His grip on his glass tightened as he fought now to throw its contents all over Doyle without due cause.

“Just noticed you sitting over here all on your own,” Doyle said, his smile not quite meeting his eyes.  “Thought I might come over and see if you’d like a bit of company.”

“I’m not alone,” Sherlock was quick to snap back.  “John is currently up at the bar ordering our food.”

“Oh, really?”  Doyle shifted just enough to make it seem as though he glanced over his shoulder.  “How lovely.  I thought for sure that he’d never have the time to give you the attention you so rightfully deserve, what with how taxing that job of his is.  What luck that he managed to set aside some of his busy time for you.”

“Believe me, I receive more than enough attention from my boyfriend.”  Sherlock made sure to emphasize the last two words as a reminder to Doyle that he had no need of him.  “In fact, when we are home, often enough it is me who neglects him.”

“Mm, if I had a catch such as you, I’d make sure you never forgot who you belonged to.”  Before he could continue any further, John approached with fresh drinks and a frown of confusion.  He glanced between Doyle’s grinning face and Sherlock’s dark one as he sidled past Doyle to retake his seat.

“Finley,” he said with a nod as he sat and passed Sherlock his drink.  “Done with work for the day?”

Doyle shrugged and pushed his hip off from the table.  “Not quite.  I’ve got a stack of papers back on my desk to grade, but I thought I deserved a bit of a fortifying drink to help make it through them.  I noticed Sherlock here sitting all on his own and thought I might give him a bit of company until you returned.  I’ll leave you two to your dinner.”  Lifting his glass in a toast, he made his own way over to the bar.

“All right?” John asked Sherlock once he was gone, staring down at where his hand clenched his glass with concern.  Sherlock nodded tersely before draining it and reaching for the other.

“Fine.  Simply marvelous.”  All of the ease that had relaxed Sherlock’s shoulders since they left the castle had returned in the few minutes John was gone, thanks to Doyle.  Now his posture hunched forward like a curly haired vulture glaring down at a meal that refused to die.  John held his hand out on the table, palm side up, and waited for Sherlock to notice it and decide if he wished to return to their comfortable companionability.  Eventually he spotted the offering and took it with a sigh, his head falling down between his shoulders.

“Yeah, it definitely look like you’re great,” John replied sarcastically, but he couldn’t keep the concern out of his voice.  “Seriously, babe, what happened?  You were fine a few minutes ago.”

“I simply dislike Doyle, that’s all,” he said with a sigh.  He rubbed the bridge of his nose fiercely.  “He’s…unsettling.  There’s too much of Moriarty in him and it’s disconcerting.”

“Moriarty, really?”  John frowned down at the table, considering Sherlock’s words.  “In a way, yeah, I get that.  His voice is definitely similar, now that I think about it.  But love…Moriarty’s gone.  You got rid of him years ago.  You’ve got nothing to worry about, particularly not with some random bloke teaching a magical class.”

Sherlock nearly told John some of the suggestive things Doyle had said, but as he considered John’s words, he decided against it.  In the end, John was right; Doyle was not Moriarty, regardless of how much he reminded Sherlock of him, and his words were simply empty threats by a man who thought himself more important than he was.  Sherlock had John, who treated and loved him as a good and decent person would, and for that he could ignore the hollow words of an unsettling coworker.

Having come to his decision, he shot John a small smile and squeezed his hand.  Their conversation turned to lighter topics until Rosmerta brought over their food.  John dug into his pie while Sherlock picked at his fish, taking tiny bites in between tearing it into smaller pieces.  Sherlock felt John trying to meet his eyes but focused on his food, unwilling to continue their previous discussion despite how much he could tell John wanted to pry further.  He felt a fissure of guilt settle in his stomach at having apparently ruined their pleasant evening and sought something to lift the atmosphere.  Just as he decided to give it a shot, John jumped and dug around in his pocket.

He fished out a small coin, glaring down at it in annoyance.  Rubbing the back of his neck, he winced over at Sherlock apologetically.  “That’s my coin to let me know if there’s a problem back at the school.  I’m sorry, I’ll have to go back up there as soon as possible.”

Sherlock threw down the chip he had been twirling in his fingers and reached for his coat.  “That’s okay, we can go back; I don’t mind.”

John waved him away as he stood.  “No, you stay.  If I’m lucky, it won’t be anything too bad and I’ll be back in ten minutes.  Just keep playing with your food trying to make it look like you’ve eaten more than you have.”  He grinned when Sherlock frowned up at him.  “If I’m not back in twenty minutes, assume it’s something bigger than a kid scraping themselves up on the moving stairs and come back to the castle.  The bill’s already taken care of, so all you’ve got to do is try to enjoy the rest of your meal.”  John kissed his forehead as he pulled on his jacket.  “Do try to actually eat some of that, love.  You’ve only eaten one real meal today, and I’m not sure I’d call tea and toast even that.  I’ll see you soon.”

As he adjusted his collar against the increasing cold, John resigned himself to another failed attempt to propose.  Something about Doyle seemed to set Sherlock off, although John couldn’t fathom what, despite the knowledge of Sherlock’s connection between him and Moriarty.  Although he hadn’t personally interacted with him very often, each time Doyle seemed friendly enough, and nothing like the criminal they once fought and destroyed.  Yet since the moment they met, Sherlock seemed determined to be antagonistic toward him for no real reason, as far as John could tell.  The knowledge of Sherlock’s uncertainty about Doyle’s similarities to Moriarty went far towards explaining the issue, but John still felt that there was something more he was missing.  He wouldn’t get anything more out of Sherlock until he chose to reveal it, however, so John decided to wait for him to be ready to talk and hope for the best.

Sherlock, meanwhile, made the decision the moment John left the pub to give him five minutes before following.  He didn’t know whether Doyle noticed John leaving and didn’t wish to find out.  The sooner he got back to the flat with John and Cecelia, comfortable and content in their pyjamas before the fire, the happier he would be.  Knowing John would be able to tell how little he ate by the noises of his hungry stomach, he resigned himself to eating as much as he could before the five minutes were up.  He was halfway through his pile of chips when Doyle sat across from him, pushing John’s plate away to make room for his refilled glass.

Groaning and rolling his eyes, Sherlock used a great gulp of butterbeer as a moment to calm his nerves.  “Haven’t you ever learned when to tell when you aren’t wanted?  Surely I can’t be the only one constantly annoyed by your presence.”

“Oh Sherlock, you wound me deeply,” Doyle said, placing a hand over his heart.  His gleeful expression, however, showed just how little Sherlock’s words affected him.  “I only came over to keep you company since your boyfriend rushed out on you in the middle of your date.”

“He’ll be back any moment,” Sherlock replied loftily, hoping it wasn’t a lie.  “A small issue up at the school, nothing more.  Unlike some, John’s sense of duty to both his job and his personal life are equal and he takes into consideration both in everything he does.”

“Is that why I’m here and he’s not?”  Doyle’s smile grew as Sherlock’s frown deepened.  “Really now, Sherlock, surely you can afford to spend a few moments of your incredibly valuable time in my company.”

“I’d prefer not to,” Sherlock replied as he rose to his feet.  His appetite, what little of it there was, vanished the moment Doyle sat across from him.  He went to shake out his jacket before putting it on but found it gone from where he had draped it over the back of his chair.  When he glared over at Doyle, he held it in one of his hands, his wand in the other.

“Such a fine coat,” Doyle remarked, stroking his thumb along the red buttonhole at the top.  “How many cases must you have worked to save enough for such an extravagance?”

“None, actually, seeing as it was a gift.”  He rounded the table and held out a waiting hand.  “My coat now, please, Doyle.”

“Allow me.”  Doyle stood slowly and held it open for Sherlock.  When narrowed eyes and a low growl didn’t seem to deter him, Sherlock sighed heavily and turned around with his arms reaching back behind him.  He felt Doyle step closer than necessary, sliding the wool slowly up his arms to settle at his shoulders.  Before Sherlock had the chance to step away, Doyle locked his hands in a fierce grip on Sherlock’s elbows.  He inched impossibly closer to nearly plaster himself against Sherlock’s back, the coat acting as the only firm barrier between them.

“Back off, Doyle,” Sherlock growled, his fists clenching in preparation to fight if necessary as he bit out each word on a harsh breath.  Rather than taking the warning, Doyle spun him quickly until the small of Sherlock’s back was jammed fiercely into the edge of the table.  He released one of Sherlock’s elbows to jam his wand threateningly below Sherlock’s chin, causing him to freeze in thinly veiled concern.  Doyle cleverly hid the wand within the folds of his coat, making it practically invisible to anyone who might glance their way.  To any bystander, they simply appeared to be two men standing far too close considering one of them was practically engaged.  When Sherlock swallowed, his Adam’s apple nudged against the tip of Doyle’s wand.

“Now now, Sherlock,” Doyle muttered, leaning forward to speak his words against the skin of Sherlock’s neck.  Sherlock nearly sprawled himself backwards across the table in his attempt to get as far away from him as possible.  “I have been nothing but kind to you and your darling little daughter.  Do I really deserve such unreasonable animosity?”

“Leave Cecelia out of this,” Sherlock snapped.  Caring more about getting away from him than whatever threat his wand held, Sherlock wrapped his free hand around Doyle’s wrist that clasped his wand.  He tightened his grip, digging his fingernails into the tender skin below his palm, but Doyle seemed unaffected.  If anything, his expression turned more amused the harder Sherlock fought.

“Sherlock Holmes, you are far too pretty and brilliant for a broken old man like John Watson,” Doyle purred as he nudged his nose along Sherlock’s jaw.  His mustache and beard were rough against Sherlock’s face and he shuddered in disgust.  “You and that beautiful child deserve so much better, if only you would let me show you.”  He made the mistake of releasing Sherlock’s arm to trace his hand down his hip.  Sherlock took his chance and slid out of Doyle’s grasp, darting around so that he stood at his back.  Before Doyle could even realise what was happening, Sherlock grabbed Doyle by the back of his neck and slammed him face down against the table.  The movement rattled the plates still sitting on it, but rather than scaring Doyle off, Sherlock both felt and heard him chuckle.

“You are a disgusting, vile excuse for a human being,” Sherlock muttered into his ear, shoving him harder against the table.  “Approach me one more time and I will make sure you never see the light of day again.”

Doyle just laughed harder as Sherlock tossed him aside and strode out of the pub.  His eyes glittered as he looked over his shoulder to watch Sherlock retreat.  Rather than follow, he let Sherlock run away as he straightened and adjusted his robes.  Sherlock made the mistake of glancing into the window as he rushed past and his eyes locked with Doyle.  Doyle’s smile grew once again when he spotted the fear at the back of Sherlock’s defiant gaze.  Pleased with himself, he wiped invisible dust from his front and returned to the bar.

Sherlock shivered as he rushed back to the castle, only partially from the cold.  His careful ears stayed sharp to listen for any approaching footsteps, but the snow muffled much and only made his anxiety grow worse.  Both for reassurance and his own defense, he slipped his wand from his sleeve and gripped it tightly in his hand.  He couldn’t remember ever encountering a man who alarmed him in the same way Doyle did.  Much like John, he was stronger than his smaller appearance made him look, and Sherlock had to admit that in a physical struggle Doyle would most likely prove the greater.  Normally Sherlock wouldn’t be put off by this knowledge, but with the addition of his advanced skills at magic, he proved to be a much stronger opponent than most others Sherlock faced.  Without his consent, Sherlock found himself more terrified at what Doyle could and would do to him, and even Cecelia, if given the chance.

Swallowing back a sob, Sherlock ran up the final steps to the school, throwing open the door and leaning back against it once he was inside.  He gulped in breaths, attempting to calm himself down, and discovered that he was shaking violently.  Rubbing his arms, he bent his head and marched down toward the dungeons, intent on fetching Cecelia to reassure himself that she was okay.  Luckily he didn’t meet anyone on the walk down, giving himself the chance to calm down and regain his composure.  By the time he knocked on the Slytherin common room’s door, his shaking had stopped and his expression was neutral.

Albus and Scorpius didn’t notice anything off as they sent Cecelia along with Sherlock.  Cecelia linked hands with him and babbled about everything they had done while she was with them and Sherlock gratefully distracted himself with the conversation.  He almost felt normal again when they returned to the flat, finding it empty.  Sherlock briefly worried that something had happened to him, but Doyle couldn’t have been down bothering Sherlock and doing something to John at the same time, so he pushed his worries aside and began to help Cecelia get ready for bed.  Once they finished reading and he kissed her head good night, Sherlock made sure the flat was secure and went to find John in the hospital wing.

Most of the room was dark, bathed in soft moonlight from the windows that flanked most of the walls.  Sherlock spotted John standing beside a bed along the left side, the glow of a lamp creating a circle of golden light around him.  From where Sherlock could see him, he was bent over the bed with his wand in his hand, guiding it from the top of the bed to the bottom.  He straightened and gestured in the air, studying the results that floated before him.  Sherlock lurked at the end of the bed next to where John worked, just outside of the light’s reach.  Simply watching John work reassured Sherlock and for the first time since Doyle showed up at the Three Broomsticks, he felt himself breathe without a sense of foreboding settling in his throat.

John glanced up and seemed to automatically focus in on Sherlock.  He winced and stepped back, revealing a sleeping boy in the bed where he had been working.  Waving him over with a flick of his head, he walked to the end of the bed to wait for Sherlock to join him.

“Hey,” he whispered, kissing Sherlock lightly once he was close enough.  “Sorry, it turned out to be more of an emergency than I expected.  Apparently the kid thought it would be a good idea to go out for a nighttime walk in nothing but his pyjamas and bare feet.  I suspect he was sleep walking, but other than a touch of frostbite, he seems fine.  I’m keeping him here for the night just in case, though, so I’ll have to pop out a couple of times to check up on him.  He’s all set for now.”  John took Sherlock’s hand and led him out of the wing and towards their flat.

Unable to stop himself, Sherlock wrapped his arms around John’s waist and buried his face into his chest before they could get farther than the doorway.  John jumped a bit in surprise but quickly brought him in against his body.  They simply stood there in each other’s arms for several minutes, completely silent except for their quiet breathing.  Eventually Sherlock pulled away enough to stare down at the floor and John brushed a few stray curls off of his forehead.

“Seriously, love, are you okay?” John asked, cupping Sherlock’s face so he could guide it up and look into his eyes.  “You’re acting strange tonight and it’s freaking me out a bit.”

Sherlock stared at John’s worried face and considered his options.  He could easily lie and hope John dropped the subject, but given how obviously transparent he was being tonight, it seemed unlikely that he would let Sherlock rest without finding out the truth.  He clenched his eyes shut and sighed, resigning himself.  He wouldn’t reveal everything that happened in the hopes of keeping John from worrying, but he was tired of keeping his issues fully to himself.

“Doyle came back after you left,” Sherlock said quietly, keeping his eyes closed.  “He…isn’t always particularly kind to me when he finds me on my own.  I suppose I’ve grown weaker as I get older and can no longer simply toss aside whatever someone says any longer.”

“Oh baby, no.”  John stroked his cheeks, convincing Sherlock to open his eyes.  “You’re feeling badly about being human and you shouldn’t.  Words are the worst sort of weapon, and you’re allowed to be bothered by them just as much as the rest of us.”  His expression darkened.  “But whatever he says to you, he shouldn’t be allowed to make you hurt like this.  I’ll pound his smug little face in if he tries it again, just tell me the next time and it’s done.”

Sherlock smiled weakly and nudged one of John’s hands.  “Thank you.  I don’t know why I let him bother me so – “

“No, this isn’t your fault,” John interrupted firmly.  “If he’s the one saying it unprovoked, then he’s to blame, not you.  You are never at fault for how cruelty done to you makes you feel.”  He calmed when Sherlock nodded his agreement and pulled him back into a hug.  “Do you want to talk to Minerva about this?  If he says these things to you in private, it’s possible he’s doing the same with others, including students, and that’s definitely not on.”

“No, I suspect I’m the only one,” Sherlock said as he pulled away and took John’s hand.  “Something about the personal aspects of what is said makes me think the students are safe from his irritable wrath.”  As they walked into the flat proper, he considered John’s question carefully.  “I think I’d rather keep the matter to ourselves for the time being.  It sounds ridiculous, but I’m slightly ashamed of the fact that some young idiot is bothering me so much.”

“You’ve got absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, Sherlock, really.”  John studied him for a moment before guiding him to sit on the couch.  “If you’d rather not, we won’t, but tell me the moment he does it again and we’re going straight to her, to hell with whether you think it’s a good idea or not.  He shouldn’t be allowed to make you feel like this; no one should.”  He frowned at Sherlock’s slumped posture, but decided he had pestered him enough for one evening.  “You sit right there and I’ll make us some tea and build up the fire.  An evening of snuggling up on the sofa ought to make things a bit better.”

Hopeful to get rid of the feeling of Doyle’s hands on him, Sherlock smiled gratefully up at John.  “Thank you, John.”

John kissed the top of his head before heading for the kitchen.  “Of course, love.”

Chapter Text

Though he hated himself for it, Sherlock avoided leaving the flat without John, Cecelia, or both for several days.  At first he had a decent enough excuse as they prepared for Cecelia’s seventh birthday.  They had arranged for a day off to return to London so they could spend it with Mrs. Hudson and the others, Madam Pomfrey agreeing to return for the day so that John didn’t have to Apparate off every time a student came in with a cough.  Her birthday came and went, however, and still Sherlock was reluctant to venture out into the castle alone.

John attempted to broach the subject one night close to Valentine’s Day.  Sherlock sat in the armchair he had unofficially declared his own, a book sprawled open on his lap.  One of his hands absentmindedly toyed with his hair, his fingers wrapping around curls to form them into tight spirals before letting them spring free, while the other turned the book’s pages as needed.  John sat across from him and watched him carefully, his mouth twisted in a frown.  He took a sip from the mug of tea beside him and cleared his throat to get Sherlock’s attention.  Sherlock glanced up at him, moving nothing more than a raised eyebrow in the process.  He waited silently for John to speak, his eyes darting down to where John’s fist clenched and released.

 “So…seems like it’s been a bit since you went to the library,” he began, his voice falsely casual.  “Did Pince finally banish you?”

 Sherlock looked back down at his book but didn’t continue reading.  “No.  I’ve run out of useful books there.  I have Harry looking out for anything new to send me that might prove useful.  He seems quite interested in getting the Ministry equipped with internet and has been bringing several of his own Muggleborn Aurors in to see what they could figure out as well.”

“Ah.  Well, good.  I’m sure that between you and them, you’ll get everything worked out eventually.  Who knows, maybe someday Hogwarts will be hooked up with WiFi.”

Sherlock hummed his agreement and turned the page.  John wondered if he should let the matter drop, but his mouth made the decision for him.  “I noticed you’ve been skipping more meals recently.  You know how I feel about that, Sherlock.  You might not be burning calories running all about London at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can just stop eating.  You can’t expect to live off tea and biscuits; you’re not a teenager anymore.”

“Why don’t you just get to the point and ask me what you really want to know, John,” he snapped back, finally throwing down his book and staring directly at John.  “Your attempts at subtlety are growing increasingly more tedious.”

“Fine, I’m just concerned, that’s all.”  John leaned forward so he could place his hand on Sherlock’s knee and give it a gentle squeeze.  “As far as I can tell, you’ve barely left the flat since our date in Hogsmeade.  I know you don’t have as much to do around the castle as you do at home, but you can’t just sit around in this tiny flat all day with only me and Cecelia to keep you company.  Haven’t you exploded from boredom yet?”

“I just…haven’t been inclined to leave much recently.  I behave like this sometimes, John, you know that.  I’m simply inclined more towards solitude at the moment.”

“Look, if this is anything to do with Doyle – “

“I do not rule my life around Finley Doyle,” Sherlock interrupted firmly.  He rose to his feet, knocking John’s hand away in the process.  “If you’re growing annoyed with my constant presence, please just let me know.  I’m sure I could spend a few days in London helping Lestrade with cases if my being around constantly is bothering you.”

“Sherlock.”  John sighed and rubbed his face before following Sherlock to his feet.  He wrapped his arms around Sherlock’s waist and rested his cheek against his back.  “Of course it’s not bothering me; I’m just worried about you, that’s all.  I’ve never seen you so…I dunno, worked up, I guess?  You’ve never hidden away from a problem like this before and it’s freaking me out a bit.  If all of this is because of Doyle, something needs to be done about it.”

Sighing, Sherlock shifted in John’s grasp until they were standing face to face.  John loosened his grip in case Sherlock wanted to step away, but instead he curled up in John’s hold.  Smiling softly to himself, John brought Sherlock close to his chest and tightened his grip protectively.

“It’s not Doyle.”  When John remained silent, Sherlock lifted his head just enough for John to see him roll his eyes.  “It’s not all Doyle.  Really.  A large part of it truly is that I simply have had no desire to leave the flat.  There are only so many potions I can make or books to read before the process grows dull.  It’s been easier for me to remain at the flat and work on my magic than to be a bother to you about it.  It seems my plan has been less than effective, however, if it has caused you to worry so much.  I suppose I just expected that…well, honestly, that you wouldn’t even notice a difference.”

John lifted Sherlock’s chin so he could look him straight in the eyes, his worry still obvious.  “I’ve been neglecting you, haven’t I?”  Sherlock didn’t answer, but John could tell from his frown that he was right.  “Oh my love, I’m so sorry.  There’s been so much going on, between the holidays and Cecelia’s birthday, and then I started helping out the Hufflepuff team…oh Sherlock, you ought to have said something.  I never intended to make you feel like you weren’t just as important as all that, if not more so.”

“I didn’t want to be a bother.”  He buried his face back in John’s shoulder and shook his head in frustration.  “It’s stupid, it’s not as though I’m some child who demands constant attention, I can look after myself perfectly fine for God’s sake, but it just…I couldn’t help but think the only reason why you’ve stayed so long is because I’ve forced everything to be centred around me and now that that’s no longer a factor, the truth had come out.”

“It’s definitely not stupid if that’s how you feel.”  John held Sherlock by the shoulders, breaking their tight grip so that he could say what he needed while looking Sherlock in the eyes.  “You and Cecelia will always be my biggest priorities, even during the times when I’m shite about showing it.  This job is amazing, but honestly?  I miss spending all of my days with you.  My favourite part of the day is when I can close up my office and come sit with you to do nothing but be together.  Even if Minerva asks me to stay on for more than the year, I don’t think I ever could.  Going on cases with you, chasing after you through the streets of London, living with you at Baker Street…if nothing else, this year at Hogwarts has shown me that living that life, being with you, is what I am meant to be doing.”

Sherlock’s expression softened and he smiled weakly.  “I miss it too.  I thought, as long as we were together, it wouldn’t matter to me that I wasn’t on any cases.  This is Hogwarts; I just assumed that I would find more than enough magical things to keep myself amused.  It seems I was wrong…I’m sorry.”

“No apologies needed.”  John shifted his grip so that he cradled Sherlock’s face in his hands.  He rubbed his thumbs along Sherlock’s cheekbones, making his eyes fall shut in contentment.  “You know, there might be a way for us to be here and you to be on cases at the same time.”

“Lestrade has already been sending me cases by post, if that’s what you were thinking,” Sherlock replied without opening his eyes.  John smiled and kissed his nose and both eyelids before moving to his lips.

“No, but that was a rather brilliant suggestion on his part.  I was thinking more along the lines of expanding your consulting horizons to include working with Harry and his Aurors, particularly since you’re already in with them on the whole magical tech thing.  He’s suggested it in the past, remember?  But you said you wanted to wait until you had developed more of your magical skill first.  Why not now?”

Sherlock’s eyelids rose along with his eyebrows.  “I suppose I could, if Harry’s still amendable.  It certainly would be easier to communicate with him than it has been with Lestrade.  Could we connect our fireplace with the Floo in Harry’s office at the Ministry?”

“I don’t see why not.  I’ll talk to Minerva about it and you can send Harry an owl to see what he thinks of the idea.  If he’s as interested as he was back when he first saw you solve a case, I’d wager he’d be thrilled to hear from you.”

“Okay.”  Sherlock leaned forward, careful not to dislodge John’s hands from his face, and kissed him slowly and softly.  John deepened the kiss, nipping at Sherlock’s lips until they opened for him.  With reluctance, John pulled away before he could get too overwhelmed and they both gulped down breaths.  “I’m sorry I’ve been worrying you so much as of late.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t realise that I wasn’t giving you the attention you deserve,” John countered.  “Or how bored you’ve been.”

“I’ve gotten better at containing my strops,” Sherlock said with a grin.  “That isn’t a character trait that I’d like to pass on to Cecelia.”

“God no, for everyone’s sakes.”  John laughed and pulled him into a last, deep hug.  “I love and appreciate you, Sherlock Holmes.”

Sherlock smiled over John’s shoulder and squeezed him back.  “I love and appreciate you too, John Watson.”

~~~

Sherlock slept better that night than he had in days.  He and John fell asleep wrapped around each other, the moon blocked out by the curtains of their four poster.  When Sherlock finally woke up, he knew instantly it was long past breakfast.  John’s side of the bed had grown cold hours ago, the small part in the curtain where he climbed out creating a small slice of high sun across the sheets.  Sherlock sprawled across the centre of the bed, groaning low in his throat as his back cracked.  Unwilling to fully wake up quite yet, he pulled the covers up around his head and snuggled into them with a grin.  Peaking an eye open, he noticed a shape on his side table.  He opened the other eye and snuck an arm out to push the curtain aside.

On the table sat another osiria rose, angled so that the petals were open and faced towards Sherlock’s head.  John had stopped leaving him roses after Christmas and Sherlock assumed the gifts were part of the holiday.  Perhaps he thought Sherlock could use a reminder of his love and decided to surprise him.  Sherlock was forced to admit to himself that he appreciated the sentiment of it as he lifted the rose onto his pillow and allowed himself to fall back to sleep.

He woke up a few hours later to his stomach grumbling in complaint.  Groaning along with it, he reluctantly crawled out of bed and threw on his dressing gown, hoping to find something promising in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, between the small size of it and their general disarray, he found only an empty crisps wrapper in the bin and half a container of milk.  He considered simply making tea and waiting until the next meal, but even the thought of going without anything soon caused his stomach to protest.  Grumbling to himself, he trudged back into the bedroom to put on proper clothes.

Sherlock’s first stop once he had dressed was to the hospital wing to find John and Cecelia.  He strolled into the wing as he buttoned his jacket, his head darting around in search of anyone.  It soon became clear that it was empty and Sherlock frowned to himself as he stalked right back out.  He took a quick peek into John’s office to make sure they weren’t in there before setting off into the castle.

Considering his many options, Sherlock allowed his feet to guide him where they would.  He had no idea if he had slept through lunch as well as breakfast and cursed, not for the first time, the fact that he couldn’t simply check the time on his mobile.  As he passed down a window dotted corridor, he paused before one of them, squinting out at the sun and the horizon.  The combination of the light and snow reflecting off one another nearly blinded him as he stared out at the grounds.  Huffing out a frustrated sigh, he continued on down the corridor, falling in and out of the beams of light as he darted down to the end.

He soon found himself standing before the front doors leading out towards the grounds themselves.  A trip into Hogsmeade might have been a possibility, had he not struck it down almost as soon as he had the thought.  On a practical level, he would need to return to the flat to retrieve his coat and a handful of coins.  At the back of his mind, whispering to him from a part of himself that he tried to ignore, he knew that the real reason why he didn’t want to go into Hogsmeade alone was the memory of what happened during his last trip there.  He attempted to remind himself that his worries were ridiculous, even if they were founded; it was during the day, not to mention the middle of a school week, and Doyle would be forced to remain in the castle until after classes ended.  Still, Sherlock couldn’t convince himself that the Three Broomsticks was an option, no matter how hard he attempted to delete the experience entirely. 

Sighing, he shoved his hands into his pockets and wandered over to glance into the Great Hall.  Finding it as empty as he expected, he pondered a trip down to the kitchens.  While the house elves could be exceptionally energetic when visited by anyone, he knew he’d at least be able to finally find something to eat.  His shoulders slumping in resignation, he marched down towards the kitchens’ corridor and the satisfaction he would find there.

By the time Sherlock reached the kitchens, the afternoon frenzy to clean up after lunch had ended, leaving the house elves a moment of calm where they had the chance to rest between lunch and dinner.  Even after several years in the wizarding world, house elves in particular fascinated Sherlock.  Though they, for the most part, seemed more than content in what was essentially institutionalised slavery, a part of him would always want to do something to help them.  After spending years dedicating himself to saving those who couldn’t save themselves, seeing a group of creatures essentially taken advantage of for their easy persuasion sat uncomfortably with him.  He briefly remembered that John once mentioned Hermione advocated for house elf rights while she was in school and wondered if she might be interested in pursuing the venture again now, before he became completely surrounded by enthusiastic elves.

He barely had the chance to mention that he missed lunch before they were piling him with more food than he could eat in a week.  Settling on a sandwich and a cup of tea, Sherlock sat awkwardly at a table being watched by nearly a dozen elves that waited in silent anticipation to fulfill any of his needs.  He noticed one of the elves attempting to not-so-subtly stare at the shape of his mobile that bulged the line of one of his trouser pockets.  Although basically useless, he continued to carry it both out of habit and to fiddle with it to try to make it work when he was bored.  Setting his sandwich aside and reaching into his pocket, he waved the elf over to his side.

Her eyes grew wide in surprise and she glanced around before realising that Sherlock meant for her to approach.  She tentatively walked over and he patted the stool next to him, waiting patiently for her to sit.  When she did, he passed his mobile to her and began to explain it in depth.  She ran a finger over the buttons, her mouth round in fascination, and they quickly drew a crowd of interested bystanders.  His sandwich forgotten, Sherlock explained to the small group the purposes of his mobile and his hopes to eventually make it work in the magical world.

Eventually the elves began to disperse as the afternoon passed and dinner approached.  The first elf he called over shyly handed Sherlock his mobile back, a tiny smile on her face as she waved and ran off.  Sherlock grinned to himself as he downed the last of his food and thanked them all before heading back out into the castle.  He fended off piles of food that they offered up for him to take with him by promising to return soon with more Muggle items for them to investigate.

Finally satisfied, Sherlock walked at a sedate pace back down the corridor, considering his next plan of action.  He still wondered where John and Cecelia had gone off to and thought about trying to find them, but soon tossed the thought aside.  He had been meandering the castle to discover its secrets since the moment they arrived but still only had just barely begun.  If he attempted to find them without any clues as to where they were headed, they could be circling one another for hours without even knowing.  He would be better off returning to the hospital wing or their flat to wait for them to return, but now that he had ventured out, he wasn’t certain if he wanted to go back to the boredom of being stuck there alone.

Instead, he decided now might be as good a time as any to go down to the dungeons and see what new potions Slughorn might suggest he try.  Particularly now that he had a proper teacher, rather than simply trying to work through possible problems on his own, his potion making skills had grown.  Out of all of the professors, Sherlock never expected to get on best with the man who sought out famous wizards to make himself feel better about his own lack of success, but surprisingly Slughorn was a patient yet persistent teacher and a decent companion.  It always shocked Sherlock when someone admired his skills, whether it be at observation or potions, so when the two combined, they made an unexpectedly strong friendship.

The corridors were silent and empty as he followed the familiar path down to the dungeons.  Some of Sherlock’s favourite times to explore were when students were in classes, leaving him alone and yet surrounded by the occasional sound of a professor drawling on, quills against parchment, and spells being performed and perfected.  The students normally let him be even when they did meet in the corridors, occasionally watching him with curious eyes and an even less often hello.  He thought he would find the constant presence of so many children annoying, but he found them fascinating to observe.  The respect that he held as an adult over a group of teenagers helped erase much of the awkwardness he often experienced when dealing with other children when he was young.

As he drew closer to Slughorn’s classroom, an abrupt sense of unease settled into his stomach.  He attempted to ignore it, certain it was a result of his last incident with Doyle.  He refused to allow the event to dictate his actions and continued on with determined steps and an irritated scowl.  A shape darting out of a dark corner ahead of him made him jump in surprise, however, and as he stepped back away from it he felt a sharp poke directly into the small of his back, forcing him to freeze.

“Well isn’t this a lucky coincidence,” a low voice purred into his ear.  Sherlock felt his skin prickle as his sense of dread cemented into certainty.  Doyle drew his wand tip slowly up Sherlock’s spine, pausing when he felt each notch through his suit jacket.  Gritting his teeth, Sherlock straightened his back and kept as still as possible.  He hoped Doyle wouldn’t be foolish enough to try and curse him while they were standing out in the open where any student or professor could appear, but given the fact that he already had his wand out, Sherlock decided it was a chance he’d rather not take.

“Coincidences don’t exist,” Sherlock growled when Doyle brought his wand to the back of Sherlock’s neck.  He felt him twirl the end around a curl at his nape and step in close enough that his front was flush with Sherlock’s back.  “Do you make it a point to lurk in dark corridors waiting to attack disinterested prey?”

Doyle ran his nose along the back of Sherlock’s neck and laughed low against the skin there.  “Only when that prey is as particularly delicious as you.  You’ve been avoiding me, Sherlock Holmes.”

“Avoiding is such a weak term for what I’ve been attempting to do with you, Doyle.”  Sherlock clenched his fists and found himself hoping that anyone would show up in the corridor and force Doyle to step away.  “Cursing your existence is far more accurate.”

“You live to wound me.”  Doyle sighed, his breath rustling Sherlock’s hair.  Guiding him forward with a hand clenched bruisingly tight on Sherlock’s hip and the wand still at the base of his neck, Doyle forced Sherlock against the stone wall.  With the combination of the darkened spot of the hall and Doyle’s black robes shielding their bodies, they were almost completely camouflaged.  Using his hips, Doyle shoved Sherlock fully against the wall until his entire front was forced to either push against it or Doyle.  Choosing the lesser of two evils, Sherlock plastered himself against the rough stone, feeling it rub uncomfortably against the skin below his shirt.

“Why do you insist on doing this?” Sherlock bit out through gritted teeth.  His hands scrapped along the wall in an unconscious bid to get further away.  “Clearly I have absolutely no interest in you and forcing yourself on me certainly isn’t going to make me change my mind.”

The hand on Sherlock’s hip shifted to run lightly up and down his side instead, causing Sherlock to shudder in disgust.  When Sherlock attempted to fight his hold, Doyle shoved his hips into Sherlock’s arse to push him harder against the wall, working his hand up to grip the front of Sherlock’s neck.  Sherlock shifted his face to the side to avoid breaking his nose from the movement and Doyle took the opportunity to nuzzle in and place a kiss on Sherlock’s free cheekbone.

“Why?” Doyle whispered, and Sherlock could feel his smile against his cheek.  “To show you that you are nothing.  You may have convinced yourself that you are a wizard, but you never will be.  You are good for nothing more than doing the will of your betters – “

Footsteps echoed down the corridor, forcing Doyle into silence.  As he glanced around in an attempt to find the source, Sherlock pushed up onto his tiptoes and managed to free himself enough to call out.

“Help!” he managed to yell, his cry thankfully carrying down the echoing hall.  Doyle tightened his hold on his neck and shoved him back against the wall harder.

“Shut it, you,” he hissed, but the footsteps had already started to hurry towards them.  Whoever it was, they were coming from the opposition direction from where Sherlock’s face could see.  He silently hoped that it would be an older student or a professor; Doyle could easily threaten off a first or second year, leaving Sherlock to his fate.

“Sherlock?  What the fuck…”  Sherlock could have laughed in relief when he heard John’s voice.  Within seconds, the presence at his back vanished and Sherlock stumbled a bit to catch his balance at the sudden change.  He spun to lean back against the stone and spotted Doyle sitting on the floor, his wand in John’s hand and both it and John’s pointed at his face.  He glared up at John and shoved one of the wands out of his face.  In response, John growled, “Stupefy!” and he crumbled fully to the ground.

“John,” Sherlock muttered.  As soon as he was sure Doyle was incapacitated, John shoved the wands into his pocket and rushed to Sherlock’s side.  He cradled his face in his hands with a gentle touch, his eyes darting madly over him in search of injuries.  Sherlock sighed as his eyes fell shut in relief and he sagged into John’s hold.  John wrapped his arms carefully around Sherlock to pull him close in a reassuring yet loose grip.  Sherlock, in contrast, gripped his hands in the front of John’s shirt and pulled him in as close as he could.

“Jesus, Sherlock, are you okay?  Baby, look at me.”  He waited for Sherlock to lift his own face without John touching him.  His forehead knitted in concern as he studied the scratches caused by the uneven stone and lifted a tentative hand to his brow.  Sherlock pushed against John’s touch to encourage John to continue.  John ran his hand through Sherlock’s hair, partly in search of any unseen injuries and partly to comfort them both.

Sherlock used the movements as a chance to rest his face against John’s chest and breathe in his scent.  He knew he was shivering, but no matter how many deep breaths he took, he couldn’t seem to stop it.  Doyle’s whispered words forced all other thoughts out of his mind, the possibility of their truth affecting him more than anything Doyle did to him physically.

“God, Sherlock, I’m so sorry.”  Sherlock realised that John had gone from checking him over for injuries to whispering into his hair without him even noticing.  He cradled Sherlock differently than usual, holding him close as always but with a softer touch that made Sherlock feel as though he was broken.  “I knew I should have done something sooner, I could tell something wasn’t right after Hogsmeade.  This is all my fault; I should have noticed, I should have stopped this long ago – “

“No, John.”  Sherlock lifted his head from John’s chest but kept his fingers knotted in his shirt to make sure he stayed close.  “I didn’t want you to know the whole of it, I didn’t want you to worry.  I didn’t expect…it just kept getting worse…I thought I could handle it, handle him.  If this is anyone’s fault, it’s fully mine.”

John shook his head and ran a hand through Sherlock’s hair again, his eyes enormous and devastated.  “Darling, this is not your fault.  You told him to leave you alone and he didn’t; this is on him and you should never blame yourself for it.”  Sherlock bent his head to stare at the floor and nodded reluctantly, still not entirely sure he agreed.  John placed a light hand on Sherlock’s hip and he jumped, automatically reminded of Doyle’s similar touch.  Instantly John snatched his hand away, taking a step back and holding his palm up in silent apology.  When Sherlock looked back up at him, the pain in his eyes made him dart back into his space and pull him close.

“Did he do anything before I found you?” John asked, his voice wavering in worry.  He let out a steadying sigh of relief when Sherlock shook his head.

“He…his hands mostly stayed on my back, hip, and neck.  But he did…he kissed my cheek, right before you arrived.  I…it mostly was…what he said, he…”  Sherlock stopped and shook his head, frustrated with himself and his inability to simply say what happened.

“It’s okay, baby, it’s fine.”  John scratched the back of his neck where his hair met his nape reassuringly and Sherlock forced himself not to wince.  “We’ll go to Minerva and let her sort it out, okay?  He’s not going to do anything to you ever again, I promise.”

More footsteps and laughing voices began trailing down the hallway from the direction John originally came from.  Soon a small group of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, fresh from a potions class, approached and froze in their tracks at the sight of Doyle stunned on the floor and Sherlock and John embracing.  From the group, Rose Granger-Weasley shoved herself to the front and gaped at them.

“Uncle John?” she asked, her gaze darting from Doyle to John and back.  “What’s going on?”

“Rose, excellent,” John said as he stepped out of Sherlock’s arms and in front of him.  In a sudden panic, Sherlock grabbed at him to pull him back within reach.  Without thinking twice, John shifted so that he could pull Sherlock back in against his side.  “Will you go get Professor McGonagall for me, please?  Have her come right down here, I don’t want to move Doyle on my own.”

“Is he okay?”  She stared down at Doyle as she stepped around him and seemed to notice Sherlock for the first time.  He must have looked worse than he thought because the moment she spotted him, her eyes grew even wider.  “Merlin, is Uncle Sherlock okay?”

“Just go get Professor McGonagall, quick as you can.  I’ll take good care of Uncle Sherlock, don’t worry.”  She nodded and ran off, glancing back at them over her shoulder once before vanishing.  As soon as she was gone, John turned back to the group of students and searched their faces.  Spotting one of the members of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, he called him forward.  “Thompson, would you do something for me as well?”

Thompson jumped to attention and rushed over to John’s side.  “Course, Master Watson, what do you need?”

“Go down to the Slytherin common room and see if either Albus Potter or Scorpius Malfoy are around.  I left Cecelia down with Professor Slughorn and you all thinking I’d be back soon and I need one or both of them to look after her until we’re done with Professor McGonagall.  Just let them know that something’s come up and I’ll be down later to get her, okay?”  With a salute, Thompson adjusted his bag and darted off down the corridor.  Once he was gone, John turned to the rest of the group, who stood pretending they weren’t hanging on to every word of what was happening and failing.  “As for the rest of you, back to your common rooms until dinner.  I’d tell you to keep this to yourselves, but I know that would be an idiotic suggestion.”  They chuckled and awkwardly shuffled around Doyle to continue on their way.  As soon as they thought they were out of earshot, they began whispering amongst themselves.

Sherlock had hid his face in John’s shoulder as he dealt with the students, feeling overwhelmed and exposed.  John rubbed a hand up and down his back, the pressure familiar and nothing like Doyle’s.  “They’re gone, darling,” John muttered, kissing him on the head and then the lips when Sherlock lifted his head.  “How are you feeling?”

“Awful, honestly.  You said Cecelia’s with Slughorn?”

“Yeah, I got called down there for a student who burned herself on a potion and Slughorn was worried about moving her.  I didn’t want to wake you since you were sleeping so deeply and figured I’d just bring Cecelia down with me.  It ended up taking longer than I expected.”

“I was looking for you.”  Sherlock shook his head and knitted his forehead into a frown.  “I left to find you and get food, so after I left the kitchens I thought I would either find you or come to work on potions with Slughorn.”

“Baby, I’m so sorry.”  John held Sherlock close, stroking him from his back up to his hair to reassure him that he was safe.  Not long after the group of students left, McGonagall’s hurried footsteps signaled her arrival.  She scanned the scene with a stoic expression, her gaze finally landing on John.

“What happened?” she asked sharply.  As John explained as much as he knew, her face grew both sympathetic and horrified in turn.  Once he was finished, she glared down at Doyle with newfound disgust and dismay.

“First of all, Sherlock, I am so incredibly sorry that this has happened.  It is completely inexcusable.  I will have Filch help me bring Doyle to my office until I can contact Harry and have him come in.  I assume you would like to press charges?”

Before Sherlock could insist otherwise, John said, “Yes, definitely.  I don’t know if he’s done this to others, but he absolutely can’t be allowed to do it again.”

“Of course.  If nothing else, he will be put on immediate disciplinary leave until the matter has concluded.  I’m sure that Harry will want to talk to you both, but there is more than enough to keep him busy for a little while before that is necessary.  You most likely would like to get Sherlock back to the wing to check him over properly for injuries first, however.”

John glanced down at Sherlock’s face, taking in the wearied expression that he fought to cover with disinterest.  “Yeah, best do.  Thank you, Minerva.”

“It’s the least I can do, given what has happened.  Is Cecelia…”

“All taken care of, for a bit at least.  I’ve got Thompson getting her to Albus and Scorpius right now.”

Nodding briskly, she waved her wand at the still stunned Doyle.  Ropes shot out and tied him tightly at the arms and feet, incapacitating him should he begin to wake up.  John shifted his grip on Sherlock so that they stood side by side, the majority of Sherlock’s weight still supported by John.  As they made to pass, McGonagall’s hand shot out to touch Sherlock’s shoulder.

“I truly am sorry, Sherlock,” she said, her voice quiet.  “This should never have happened.  I will endeavor to see that it never happens again, particularly in regard to Doyle.”

Sherlock attempted to shoot her a smile, but it ended up turning out to be more of a grimace.  “Thank you, Minerva.”  With a final nod of thanks from John, they began to make their way slowly back to the hospital wing.  Sherlock expected John to take him directly to the wing to see to him and was surprised when he unlocked the door to their flat instead.  He led Sherlock to the sofa and pulled down the blanket that normally rested along its back, draping it over Sherlock’s shoulders before guiding him to sit.  Placing a kiss on his forehead, he headed into the kitchen to make them tea and allow Sherlock to have a moment alone to collect himself.

By the time John returned, some of the colour had returned to Sherlock’s face and the lines around his eyes had smoothed out slightly.  The shivering finally stopped, but Sherlock kept the blanket tucked tightly around himself regardless.  John set their teas down and sat down close at Sherlock’s side, brushing the hair off of his forehead and studying his expression.

“Drink this and then I’ll see after those scratches on your face.  I don’t know if you’re up to it yet, but I’d like to look over your front to make sure you haven’t been hurt too badly.”

Sherlock nodded and cradled the warm mug in both hands when John passed it over.  He remained silent until he was halfway through his drink, setting it aside and knocking the blanket off his shoulders.  “We need to take pictures of everything before you heal it.  Harry will need them if he’s doing an investigation.”

John set his tea aside as well and dug around in a drawer for the camera they had bought before they came to Hogwarts.  Sherlock, meanwhile, began unbuttoning his shirt and pulled it and his jacket down his arms to settle at his waist.  When John turned back around, his expression had shifted into the professionally detached look that he used when taking care of patients.  He briskly snapped a few shots, tilting Sherlock’s face and arms as necessary before trading the camera for his wand.

“I actually expected a bit worse,” he commented as he began to work on Sherlock’s face.  “Very artificial wounds, considering the stone of the walls and their roughness down in the dungeons in particular.  Even with the healing, you’ll probably be bruised and sore for a few days.  If it’s bothering you too much, let me know and I can give you a dose of painkillers.  You’ve been hurt worse, so I think your body will be fine.”

He made to stand to go get the pain potion, but Sherlock latched onto his sleeve before he could get very far.  When John glanced down at him, his eyes were wide and silently begged for him to stay.  Unable to say no to Sherlock at his best, John tossed his wand onto the coffee table and settled into Sherlock’s waiting arms.  They sat entwined together for a long time, Sherlock still shirtless and cuddled in close to John’s chest.

“It’ll be fine, love,” John whispered into Sherlock’s hair, reassuring both of them.  “You’re here, you’re safe, and I’ve got you.  Everything will be okay.”

Sherlock allowed John’s words to wash over him and felt himself succumbing to sleep in the warmth and safety of his arms.