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confusedlock
Fandoms: BBC Sherlock/Harry Potter
Beta: notboldly
Brit-picker: the_physicist
Rating: Light R
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Word Count: ~2,400
Disclaimer: Property of Gatiss and Moffat. No money made, no copyright infringement intended. Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and Scholastic Press.

Summary: John doesn't know what he's found beneath Sherlock's floorboards, but he'll be damned if he's going to give it up.

Dragon Heartstring in Ebony, Nine inches, Quite Stubborn


When John returns to 221b a month after Sherlock’s death, every electric line in the immediate vicinity boasts a parade of owls. All shapes and shades. They blink at him when he peers suspiciously out the window.

“Fuckers,” John mutters, and Mrs. Hudson chastises him. He purses his mouth, not-quite-contrite. “No, seriously. They’re looking at me. And why aren’t they asleep, aren’t they nocturnal?”

“That little short-ear is a diurnal species, John Watson. Humph.” She bustles out, chin in the air, and John turns back to the window. The golden eyes of a gigantic Eagle owl bore into him, like it knows something John doesn’t.

“Fucker,” John says, and pulls the curtains shut.



Mycroft visits. John makes tea and doesn’t look at him.

“Lovely weather,” Mycroft says mildly, blowing into his mug. It says “doctors do it on call” across the side, but he seems determined not to give John the satisfaction of a grimace at not being afforded the fine china.

“It’s bloody August and hot as a footballer’s arse crack in here.” John stares resolutely ahead, drumming his fingers on the armrest.

“Well. John. You could open the curtains and the windows. It’s a bit… dreary.”

“Nope.”

“I see.”

John rolls his eyes. His gaze cuts to Mycroft for a fraction of a second before skittering back to the wall.

“Owls. Everywhere. Day and night. I even called animal control, but every single time, the arsehole on the other end claims an urgent appointment elsewhere and leaves me on hold for the next half hour.”

“I did see them. Curious creatures, aren’t they? Majestic, one might say.”

John clenches his jaw, his fist. Stares into his lap.

“Why are you here, Mycroft?”

Mycroft shifts, uncrossing his legs and recrossing them in the other direction. He balances his mug on a knee.

“I should like to help you take care of Sherlock’s things. I understand you may want to let his room in his absence —”

“No.”

“No?”

“No. And I’ll take care of his things, thank you.”

“John, really—”

“No, you know what, Mycroft? You can fuck off. You can fuck right off, and don’t bother coming back here because the man who put my best friend in his grave is not welcome in my home. Get the fuck out.” John is standing, looming over Mycroft, muscles strained from the scowl he’s pulling, and he doesn’t remember how he got there. Mycroft breaks eye contact and settles his tea on the table. He stands, smoothes out his suit.

“Your language, dear doctor, has devolved since I saw you last.”

“Get out, Mycroft. And don’t let me see you again.”

Mycroft hovers near the doorway fondling his umbrella. He taps it on his foot.

“John. I never meant for any of this.”

“Intentions and a tuppence get you on the bus, Mr. Holmes.”

“Not any bus in London.”

“Fuck. Off.”

He does, and John sits back down. He presses the heels of his palms into his eyes. He can hear the muted din of London beyond these walls, the tick of the clock in the kitchen, the reliable thump of his heart in his chest. Heat presses in on him. Long minutes pass and he gasps for breath — he hadn’t realised he’d been holding it.

He gets up and flings the curtains open. All the owls are gone.



In Sherlock’s room, underneath the floorboards of his bed, John finds a long, slim parcel wrapped in a blue and black striped scarf. John unravels the scarf to reveal a beautiful box, cherrywood or something such. His hands hover over it — it feels important, like he should give this moment weight. Sherlock was hiding something in this box, possibly something Mycroft wanted. Before finding it, John overturned the sitting room, this bedroom, the kitchen cupboards, and found nothing Mycroft should have come snooping about after. Regular Sherlocky things. Antlers and canned haggis and vials of spinal fluid. But this. John’s heart stumbles.

John flexes his hands. Holds his breath. The box at first seems electric, practically buzzing, but in John’s lap it goes… quiet somehow. He opens it.

It’s a stick. A weird, polished stick, tapered, with the odd lump or five, nestled in crushed velvet the colour of a twilight sky. It’s almost-black and carved with intricate designs. It weighs more than a stick should.

“A fucking stick?” John whips it at the wall. It clatters to the floor without much fanfare. “Fuck! Fuck you, Sherlock!”

There is not quite an echo. John’s breath stoppers, comes in heaves. He presses his forehead to the floor.



John collects the stick after some time. He clutches it in his fist, twirls it between his fingers. Once, he darts his tongue out to taste the tip. Just wood. Like any door or table or what have you. Just a bloody stick.

“Nutter,” he says, and he doesn’t even know who he’s talking to. “Barmy, cracked, bollocking nutter.”

He takes to sleeping with it under his pillow. He wakes with his fingers locked around it until they ache. He brings it along with him when he lands another locum job and is obligated to leave the flat, finds pockets in whatever he’s wearing to secret it away in.

He pats it often, just to make sure it’s there.



Months after the lavish black Rolls Royces have ceased their lurking, Mrs. Hudson lets someone into 221b, someone old and regal and female and wrapped in far-too-posh clothes that have just a hint of otherworldly sheen to them. All John has to see is cheekbones halfway to the moon and a pair of chameleon eyes to know who she is.

“Mrs. Holmes,” he says when he manages to compose himself. She fixes him with a chilly stare — sees right through him, of course. He catches himself before he can say something mortifying, like I hadn’t realised you were alive. “Care for a cuppa?”

“Dr. John Watson,” she says, and her accent is like some relic from the beeb taught a French woman how to put on airs whilst having a stick shoved up her arse. “I’ve heard so much.”

She comes up barely to his shoulder but manages to take up all the space in the flat. She extends a hand, palm down, and for one wild moment, John panics, unsure of whether or not he should kiss her papery little fingertips. He settles for a firm grip and a slight bow, and she wanders away from him as if utterly uninterested and stands at the window. Sherlock’s window.

“He used to practice,” John says. “His violin. Just there.”

She hums out a little note of polite disinterest. John clears his throat.

“I’ll get that cuppa. Earl Grey?”

“Lapsang souchang, if you have it.”

John does. It’s months old — Sherlock had favoured it, though for his own part John finds it vile, an affront to his tastebuds, an offence to the name of tea. Sherlock had called him a plebeian, John had flicked two fingers at him, and they went about their lives. He hadn’t the heart to get rid of it, after.

When it’s done steeping, he pours Mrs. Holmes a cup — from the delicate high tea set, thank you very much — and sets it on the windowsill before her. He takes a seat, and just looks at her standing there. Neither of them say a word. Her hair is silver, pulled back rather severely, but the effect is softened by the tumble of curls that frames her face. He imagines her as a young woman, bewitching and sharp along the edges and utterly irresistible. In the cage of his ribs, John’s damnable heart squeezes.

“I imagine you are curious as to my presence in your home, Dr. Watson,” Mrs. Holmes says at last.

“Well. Yes. But you’re perfectly welcome. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Mrs. Holmes.”

“You may call me Aurelia, Dr. Watson, if you don’t abuse the privilege.”

John laughs once, a sharp bark of a thing. Mrs. Holmes doesn’t seem to notice. “Then you should call me John, certainly.”

“John.” The J sound is too soft when she says it, somehow, like her mouth cannot recreate the sound properly despite living in Britain for the past, whatever, fiftysome years. “John Watson.”

John swallows. Brings his cup of lapsang to his lips. It’s still too hot to sip, but the bitter scent of it already burns at his throat.

At the window, Mrs. Holmes straightens and turns her head just slightly toward him, presenting him with her half profile. The shadows thrown across her face are haunting.

“Did you know, John, that my youngest son left home permanently more than fifteen years ago? He was…upset about recent events in our circles, distasteful business, really, and simply apparated away, never to return. Oh, he was certainly not hiding, nothing of the sort, but he — was quite firm.”

“I see.” John doesn’t, not in the least.

“He wouldn’t return to the estate. Wouldn’t return to help rebuild Hogwarts. Wouldn’t even come to his poor father’s funeral.” She turns fully then, and fixes John with an overfamiliar gaze. “Selfish mongrel. And yet, I can’t help but feel responsible. I told him he’d never survive in the muggle world. I told him he’d be eaten alive. He proved me wrong, year after year, didn’t he?”

John wonders which language is her native tongue and just what those unfamiliar words mean, but doesn’t dare ask. He goes with the tried-and-true polite nod.

“Well,” she says with a flick of her wrist. “Until now. Destroyed himself quite properly, this time.” She turns back to the window just as the incipient lump in John’s throat threatens to thicken. “It’s come to my attention, my dear doctor, that you have a keepsake of his. I understand that you were…fond of him, in your way, but this item is of no value to you. A bit of tinder. For my part — for our parts, mine and Mycroft’s — it represents… the core of him. His true self. You understand why I must insist you return it to me.”

John suppresses the automatic urge to clutch at the stick in his back pocket. It’s a miracle he hasn’t snapped it, carrying it about there, but it’s hardier than it looks.

“Mrs. Holmes,” he says carefully. “Aurelia. With respect, I believe the item belongs with me. He left it here, you see. In a secret place. If he’d wanted anyone else to have it, he would have made that happen.”

Mrs. Holmes whips around to face him, eyes flinty, jaw set.

“You would deprive a frail old woman something by which to remember her dead son?”

John’s lips twist in a humourless smile.

“I don’t believe for one second that you’re a frail old woman.”

Mrs. Holmes appears to find a kernel of calm as she straightens, squares her shoulders, and raises her nose.

“I could summon it to myself right now, Dr. Watson. Effortlessly. It is only out of respect to you and your muggle ways that I do not.”

“Madame,” John says, allowing a touch of the old soldier to harden his spine. “By your own admission, you didn’t see Sherlock much, maybe didn’t even care to. You weren’t in his life. I was. He was… everything to me. And this—” John gestures about the sitting room, where Sherlock’s friend the skull and his violin and his preposterous harpoon still haunt John’s life. “—is what I’ve left of him. Please. Please allow me that.”

Mrs. Holmes lets out her breath through her nose. Her eyes are narrowed, and she smoothes down her gown, a very Mycroftian gesture.

“Good day to you, Dr. Watson.” And she leaves, her tea untouched. John shifts enough in his seat to touch the stick, and his own breath leaves him.

In the morning, John’s hand gropes beneath his pillow and finds nothing.

John’s eyes burn and burn.



Ten months after he took a swan dive off the roof of St. Bart’s hospital, Sherlock returns to 221b slightly worse for wear and tangled around the shoulders of a compact man about Sherlock’s age who probably can’t see between the messy fringe and the cracked glasses. The pair of them stop short in the doorway, Sherlock staring at John as if he’s the last finger in the fridge, John just gaping from his seat in front of the telly.

“Oi,” the stranger grunts. “You’re a heavy punter, you know.”

“Just there.” Sherlock flings a hand out toward the settee, and the stranger half drags him over and deposits him there before collapsing into a chair himself.

“What the fuck,” John says. The stranger has a funny crooked smile he slants at him, and Sherlock only sends John an imploring look.

“Oh, I like him, Holmes,” the stranger says. “I bet he keeps you in line.”

“Potter,” Sherlock says. “You can go now.”

The stranger rolls his eyes, but gets up.

“This dissolves the life debt between us,” he says, and Sherlock gives a single, decisive nod. The stranger turns, nods at John, and leaves the flat. Curious — his glasses had gleamed as he left, perfect.

In the ensuing silence, John crosses his arms and glares at Sherlock. For his part, Sherlock looks sheepish.

“I would never have called it in,” Sherlock says. “Just, he stumbled upon me in Istanbul while I was in a bit of a bind, and he could always be so tiresome about owing anyone anything. It’s not as if I asked. So. It’s done now, anyway. How are you?”

“Oh, grand,” John says. “Just bloody brilliant, watching the match, and are you fucking insane? Are you actually completely screamingly out of your mind, Sherlock Holmes? What the great buggering fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“John—”

“I hate you. Oh my God, I actually hate you.”

“Yes, alright, John.”

“Do you have any idea—”

And John is up, out of his chair, on the settee, wrapped around Sherlock like some kind of gastropod. Sherlock smells of sweat and smoke and just a bit of blood, and he clutches John to himself with as much desperation as John feels, with great shuddering breaths gusting from his lungs into John’s shirt, warming his chest. The whole while, John curses his name into his hair, calls him all manner of dreadful things, and grasps him tighter, tighter.

Something clatters to the floor, unnoticed.



Much, much later, John discovers the stick on the sitting room floor. It fits into his hand, just as it once did, a pleasant weight.

“Bitch,” he mutters, and then his mouth tilts up in a smile.



End

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
maybe_amanda
Mar. 14th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
I love this so much. Poor John. Crazy Sherlock. Just lovely.
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
:) I'm glad you liked it. Thanks!
antesqueluz
Mar. 14th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Muy interesante...I like this 'verse. Seems appropriate.
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
:) thanks!
daisychains123
Mar. 14th, 2012 02:22 am (UTC)
God, this is a stunning little piece - brilliant work!
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
melonator79
Mar. 14th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
So great. But you know what i want now...life debt backstory. What have you done?
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
I will find a way to blame this on you, you realize.
shadowfireflame
Mar. 14th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
“No, you know what, Mycroft? You can fuck off. You can fuck right off, and don’t bother coming back here because theman who put my best friend in his grave is not welcome in my home. Get the fuck out.”

Oh, man. I’ve never before considered John’s anger towards Mycroft, even though it’s such a big part of Reichenbach.

Holy shit, John just stood up to Sherlock’s crazy-intimidating witch mother. *hugs him* But, of course, the stick was hers as soon as she walked into the room, as she pointed out to John. :(

It’s so fascinating seeing John reading Harry from an outsider’s perspective. Really fascinating.

Damn, this was so intriguing. Definitely my favorite HP crossover, and now I’m really interested in the backstory and everything. Well done!
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Oh in my headcanon, John will never, ever forgive Mycroft.

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.
sophia_helix
Mar. 14th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
This was really terrific and fun to read!
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
pony_rocks
Mar. 14th, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
Great one! :D
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
thank you!
trista_zevkia
Mar. 14th, 2012 08:13 am (UTC)
Wow! Perfectly done and I love it =)
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
swissmarg
Mar. 14th, 2012 10:51 am (UTC)
Coming from many years in the HP fandom, this is utterly perfect. The way you integrated events from the HP verse like the second war and the destruction of Hogwarts makes this extra special. I also *love* what you've done with Mrs. Holmes. She must have been in Slytherin (and Sherlock in Ravenclaw, judging by the blue). Is Mycroft a Squib, then? Otherwise why would he live in the Muggle world too. Ooh, can you tell I'm excited about this verse? Lots to think about!
clarkward
Mar. 14th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
MYCROFT IS SO A SQUIB
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Nope! :P

Thanks for reading!
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Mycroft is not a squib! How else would he have gotten the owls to go away?

I spent 4 years deeply in HP obsession, but alas, I cannot write it. This verse ends here. I'm glad you liked it, anyway.

Thank you!
Guh Bub
Mar. 14th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks
Always look forward to a new story from you!
I've been following your work with great appreciation
and interest since I discovered 'Applied Linguistics'. Thanks!
what_alchemy
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks
Thank you! I'm so flattered!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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