“Why here?” John asked. The owner of the cafe didn’t owe Sherlock any favours. Sherlock wasn’t interested in food. And actually, Sherlock had nearly already gotten them kicked out for bullying a young couple into giving up their table because Sherlock hadn’t wanted to sit at the perfectly good free table at the back. He insisted on sitting on the small outdoor patio. When Sherlock had told him that they were going to Charing Cross and that it ‘could be dangerous,’ John had pictured something a little more exciting than sitting in a cafe having a tea.
“I want to show you something,” Sherlock answered. Turning in his chair and looking down the street.
“Did you want to switch seats?” John asked.
Sherlock levelled him with a ‘don’t be an idiot’ look, usually only reserved for John or Lestrade – two people who Sherlock had seemingly decided should be more intelligent than most.
“Do you remember the group we encountered at the restaurant the other day?” Sherlock asked.
John nodded. Of course he remembered. It wasn’t every day that your mad flatmate tells you that monsters are real, there is a secret paramilitary society that hunts them, and wizards and witches are real too only they’re mostly harmless. John was still trying to decide if he really believed it had happened, or if he should see about getting Sherlock, and possibly himself, some medication.
Sherlock craned his neck around to look down the street behind himself again.
“Do you see that man walking with the brown parcel under his arm? The one in the cloak,” Sherlock asked. John glanced over Sherlock’s shoulder and saw him.
“Keep watching him,” Sherlock instructed. “Do not take your eyes off of him for an instant.”
John obeyed. He watched the man’s uneven gate. He watched him look at a woman who passed by. He watched as he adjusted his hat. And he watched as-
“Why are you looking at me?” Sherlock asked.
John jumped and looked back to the segment of pavement the man should have been walking on. There was no one. He hadn’t gone into any shops. There were no alleys to duck into...yet, the man wasn’t there.
“Where did he go?” John said.
“Why did you look away?” Sherlock countered.
“I didn’t!” John said, but he must have, because one second he was looking at the man, and the next he hadn’t been. “I don’t know.”
“It’s the same whenever I’ve tried,” Sherlock replied, putting John slightly at ease. “No matter how hard I try to focus on observing the individual, there is always a point where I suddenly find my attention elsewhere.”
“How is that possible?” John asked.
“Magic,” Sherlock replied. “It’s how I discovered them. I know every inch of this city, and yet there are places I can’t seem to go – places that certain people are able to disappear into without me seeing how they do it.”
“What kind of places?” John asked.
“How can I know, if I can’t enter, John, really,” Sherlock replied. “I do, however, intend to find out. I just have to work out how.”
John nodded, looking back down the street, picking another person at random to watch. Sherlock turned in his chair and looked as well, as he explained further.
“They’ve made one mistake in their practices. It’s always in the exact same spot on the street that their people disappear. I’ve tried to explore the area, but I seem to walk passed it against my own wishes every time. They’ve got something that repels all others – affects their minds somehow,” Sherlock explained, still looking at the mysterious spot down the street. “I have not been able to overcome it.”
“I could show you,” a deep voice said from high above John’s shoulder. John jumped, turning to see the very tall American from the other day standing behind him. Sherlock’s attention whipped back around and he stared up at the man.
“Where did you come from?” Sherlock said.
“Sorry,” the tall man said, truly apologetic. John searched his memory – Sam. They had called him Sam. “Harry wanted to know what you were doing here,” Sam gestured across the street and behind him, to where Harry – the wizard, was standing with the other American. The other American was holding the young boy, Albus, on his hip, and there was the other young boy standing beside Harry. “I said I’d find out what you were talking about.” Sam continued. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just planning to listen in and report back that it was only a coincidence or something...but, um, it’s not, so...”
“Military training,” Sherlock muttered, and John wasn’t sure if it was an explanation for how Sam had snuck up on them, or if it was a reprimand to John for not noticing him.
“Yeah, so, um...do you want to...I mean, I could show you,” Sam said, shifting on his feet and looking down the street at the spot Sherlock and John had been attempting to stare at.
“Really?” Sherlock said, trying to sound sceptical, but John could tell he was getting excited. John glanced back to where the wizard and the other American were standing. The other American looked annoyed, gesturing towards Sam and rolling his eyes. The wizard shrugged, looked interested, and then they both started to make their way over.
“Are you allowed?” John asked.
“Harry’s not allowed,” Sam said. “But I can do whatever I want. Me and Dean aren’t bound by Wizard law – Harry said so.”
“Sam,” Dean’s voice said, as he placed Albus back on his feet beside Sherlock and John’s table. Harry and the other kid walked up and stood beside him. “You were supposed to listen in,” Dean continued, “not talk to them. You’re a horrible spy.”
“Yeah, but-” Sam started, but whatever he wanted to say was cut off by Dean grabbing his arm and pulling him a distance away. John watched them argue, but he couldn’t make out anything they said – their voices were too low and gravelly.
“Hullo,” Albus smiled.
“Hello,” Sherlock replied.
“I thought we told you not to come here anymore,” Harry said, looking at Sherlock.
“I happen to enjoy the coffee at this particular cafe,” Sherlock replied.
“No you don’t,” Harry laughed and shook his head.
“Are we seeing Uncle George now?” the older boy asked.
“Yes, James,” Harry said. “We just have to wait for Sam and Dean to finish talking.”
“Where’s your sister?”John asked Albus, “Did you manage to give her to someone else finally?”
“She’s at home with Mummy,” Albus giggled. “Dad’s taking us to see Uncle George, because we were driving Mummy mental – but Lily is a little angel, not demon spawn like us.”
“Albus,” Harry muttered. “Who told you”- then Harry looked over to where Sam and Dean were having a staring contest with each other and sighed.
“He was only joking, Dad,” James said. “We aren’t stupid.”
“But we were driving Mummy mental,” Albus confirmed. “She said so.”
“How does a wizard end up friends with a pair of Hunters, if I may ask?” Sherlock interrupted.
“Keep your voice down,” Harry said.
“Ah,” Sherlock replied. “My apologies.”
“They saved me from something,” Harry said softly. “Same way everyone else meets them, I imagine. We kept in touch.”
“And you aren’t worried about the danger they may pose to your community?” Sherlock asked.
“No,” Harry said. “They are less of a danger if they know everything, than too little.”
“Exactly,” Sam said, appearing beside Harry.
“Glad you agree?” Harry replied, confused.
“Sam’s decided to change our plans,” Dean explained. “Harry, you take James and Albus inside, me and Sam will be two minutes behind you.”
“What are you doing?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes and glancing between Sam and Dean, and then sweeping over Sherlock and John.
“You just said it yourself,” Sam said. “It’s better to know everything than too little.”
“Sam, Sherlock isn’t a threat to-” Harry said.
“I could be,” Sherlock grumbled. John kicked him under the table.
“Sherlock works with the police, right?” Sam said.
“Yes,” Harry replied. “I told you, he and John-“
John felt Dean’s assessing eyes on him, and he met them head on – trying to look as unassuming as possible while also not giving in to intimidation.
“I’m going to have to agree with Sam on this one, Harry,” Dean said, flicking his gaze off John and back to Harry. “At the very least, it’ll do them good to be able to spot when they might be up against something that’s not human...or muggle.”
“Dean, I can’t-” Harry started to argue.
“Which is why you’re not,” Dean said. “You’re going to take James and Albus to see George, and Sam and I are just going to stay out here and have a talk with Sherlock and John. Isn’t traveling to new places all about meeting the locals? Come on, this one’s even having tea!”
John looked down at his little silver tea pot and wondered briefly if he was some sort of stereotype – but, he liked tea.
“Fine, but how are you even-” Harry started again.
“We’ve got it worked out Harry,” Sam said. “Trust us.”
There was a pause in which Harry’s two children fidgeted, looking expectantly at their father.
“Fine,” Harry said.
“Yes!” James said, “Uncle George now!”
“Yes, yes, alright,” Harry said. “Come on then, you two, let’s go wait for Sam and Dean to finish <i>talking</i> .”
Harry made his way back across the street, holding both boys hands.
“I hope you two are comfortable with a little PDA,” Dean said.
“Sorry?” John asked. Sam rolled his eyes.
“Settle your bill and meet us in that alley over there,” Sam said. “We’ll explain.”
Sam and Dean waited just inside the lip of the alley. Dean was still giving Sam a slightly angry look – a mix between ‘you’re an idiot and I can’t believe I’m going along with this’ and ‘this better work, because I think that you’re right’ – it was hard for anyone else to really grasp Dean’s facial expressions the way Sam could.
Harry had told Sam and Dean about Sherlock Holmes though – about how he had stumbled upon the Wizarding world through a crime investigation. He had apparently stalked Diagon Alley for a fortnight, and when he couldn’t gain entry, he started to pick pocket anyone coming out – mostly, it seemed, stealing books. Eventually, the Aurors had arrested him, but by then he had gleaned so much information about the wizarding world – and about Harry himself, that he was able talk his way out of a memory wipe. Harry had been sent a full report while they still had Sherlock in custody and had written up an agreement for Sherlock.
The agreement was that Sherlock never reveal the existence of wizards to any member of the public, and, most importantly, stop stalking Diagon Alley and mugging people. In exchange, Harry wouldn’t tell them to wipe Sherlock’s memory, and he also would continue to wipe Sherlock’s brother’s memories – because the notion of it, Harry said, seemed to make Sherlock happy.
Of course, it all came down to definition, Harry had explained. Wizarding agreements were very hard to write without any loopholes – and Harry, at the time, wasn’t that practiced at it yet. Sherlock, apparently, could tell John Watson, because Sherlock didn’t see John as a member of the public. From Harry’s description of Sherlock Holmes though, Sam had the feeling that he and Dean should really have a talk with John Watson.
Sam hoped this worked.
“Gentlemen,” John greeted as he entered the alley just ahead of Sherlock.
Sam and Dean both gave them a nod.
“Ok, this is how this is going to work,” Dean said. “We have to move now. We can’t let Harry get too far ahead of us, or too close.”
Dean took out the crystal pendent that normally hung around Sam’s neck.
“This will get you through the door,” Dean said. “The charms that normally repel you won’t work as long as you are touching this crystal. We only have one to spare though, so...”
In one move, Dean grabbed both John and Sherlock’s wrists, and joined their hands together around the crystal.
“Ground rules,” Dean announced. “Don’t let go. There’s an off chance you won’t need it once we’re inside, but it’s probably better not to risk it. Second, you have to stick with me or Sam, no wandering off on your own. Third, turn off your phones. Don’t give me that look – I’m doing you a favour, the magic fries them. Fourth, um...if I come up with a fourth, fifth, or whatever, you have to do that too – basically, I’m saying you have to listen to me and Sam, got it?”
“Understood,” Sherlock said, as he and John both turned off their phones.
“Yeah, I bet,” Dean replied. “Ok, let’s go.”
They walked out into the street - Dean in front, and Sam just a little behind him, John and Sherlock hand in hand behind them. Sam looked to where he knew the Leaky Cauldron was – and found that he could still see it, just as he expected – only, it was hard to look at, and made his brain itch. He slung an arm behind Dean and rested his hand on Dean’s shoulder. Dean reached up and pretended to adjust his collar, while really he inched his own crystal pendent underneath Sam’s palm.
Dean turned his head to check that Sam was alright, and in response, Sam kept his eyes on their destination. He’d be fine once they got in the door.
“I trust that you guys know how to not draw attention to yourselves?” Dean asked.
Sam turned and saw Sherlock glaring at Dean as though Dean had just insulted his intelligence. Sam smiled, John smiled too.
“Yes,” Sherlock replied.
“Everyone will have been distracted by Harry’s entrance,” Sam explained. “So it’ll be even easier than usual. As long as we don’t make a show of ourselves, they’ll all just keep talking about Harry and not even notice us walk through.”
“Understood,” Sherlock replied, and Sam gave Dean a nod – and Dean opened the door to the Leaky Cauldron.
It was like stepping back in time, John thought – to the Victorian era, maybe, or even further back...only with witches, wizards, and magic. It was a fantasy world. It was extremely hard not to walk through the bar agape, but Sherlock squeezed his hand in a reminder that they were supposed to be inconspicuous – and that meant acting as though they belonged. John glanced at Sherlock though, and could almost see that great mind whirring behind Sherlock’s sharp eyes. John couldn’t help but smile, Sherlock lifted a corner of his mouth in response, but then squeezed John’s hand again in chastisement. John didn’t care though, these few seconds inside a hidden London would keep Sherlock’s mind occupied for weeks, which meant that Sherlock would be happy – which meant that John would be happy.
They moved through the bar at a sedate pace, like they had all the time in the world to get where they were going. John had noticed that Sam had taken his arm off of Dean as soon as they entered, giving Dean some meaningful nod when Dean gave him a questioning look. John didn’t think of it too much though, he was too busy listening to the conversation around him.
Dean had been right, and it appeared that everyone was talking about Harry and not giving them much mind. After their meeting in the cafe the other day, Sherlock had told John that Harry was a war hero who now had quite a bit of power and influence in Wizarding society, and was also head of the wizard police force.
Dean and Sam led them straight through the pub and out the backdoor into an alley with a trash can.
“Was that it?” Sherlock asked. “Just a pub? Why did we come out here?”
Sam smiled down at them.
“That wasn’t it,” Sam said. “Dean? You want to do the honours?”
John watched as Dean reached up and knocked on a brick in the wall beside them. There didn’t appear to be a secret door, but then, maybe John was-
Suddenly the bricks in the middle of the wall shifted, then shifted again, and then the wall was pulling open like a stage curtain. There, laid out before them was a narrow alley with lopsided buildings on either side of it. The alley was brimming with people – no, witches and wizards – and the shops...the shops were like no shops that John had ever seen before. John nearly had his arm pulled out of its socket as Sherlock surged forward.
“Inconspicuous, remember?” Dean chuckled, but there was far too much going on for anyone to pay them much attention.
“Come on,” Sam said, “I’ll give you the tour.”
Sherlock waited patiently as Sam and Dean took them up and down the alley explaining to the best of their knowledge what the various shops sold. Much to Sherlock’s disappointment, they explained that wizards used different currency, something which Sherlock had guessed based on his previous research – and that even if they had some, allowing Sherlock to buy anything magic would probably be breaking more rules than they already were. Still, Sherlock didn’t see the harm in going inside the shops just to have a look. Perhaps once their little tour was over, he could convince them to let him browse in at least the bookshop, or perhaps the shop that seemed to sell various forms of magical equipment and odds and ends.
In the meantime though, Sherlock contented himself by observing everything. Sam and Dean seemed to stick out like sore thumbs, and yet managed to not draw attention to themselves, a feat that Sherlock was most impressed with. Sherlock found that given the cut of his favourite jacket, dark hair and complexion, he actually fit in quite well. John was inconspicuous as always. Sherlock really loved that ability in his friend. It was one of the many reasons John was still with him, and not currently sitting in jail for having shot a cabbie.
In terms of the wizarding world itself, there seemed to be some sort of social hierarchy. Harry was obviously at the top of it, while there seemed to be darker part of Diagon Alley where the lowest bit skulked around.
“Knockturn Alley,” Sam said, at Sherlock’s inquiry, “don’t go there. Harry says it’s where the dark wizards hang out, and nothing good comes out of it. It’s hard to police.”
Sherlock decided that he should go there at the first opportunity.
They went to the bookstore first. Sherlock would have liked to say it was part of his genius plan, but really it just worked out. Although John and Dean were originally interested, they weren’t quite happy with the amount of time Sherlock wanted to spend in the shop. It didn’t help, of course, that John had to go wherever Sherlock went, and they only had one hand each available for holding books. So, by default, John had to prop up the other side of any book that Sherlock wanted to look at.
Sherlock could see that Sam and Dean had been to the bookstore before, because he saw Dean pull Sam into a brief conversation, they came to an agreement, and then Dean – blocked from sight from the rest of the store on purpose – pulled a crystal out from where it had been hanging from a chain around his neck and transferred it to his hand. Then the two brothers rejoined Sherlock and John.
“You mind if I borrow your partner for a minute?” Dean asked Sherlock, holding out his hand with the crystal in it for John to take. “I’m just thinking it’d be easier for you to read books with two hands, and John might like to check out one of the other shops. Sam will stay with you.”
“He’s free to do what he likes,” Sherlock replied.
“Okay,” John agreed, releasing Sherlock’s hand while simultaneously taking Dean’s. It was – odd, to see John holding hands with another man in public. Dean didn’t seem to be too comfortable with it either, and Sherlock wondered what would happen if they stopped touching the crystal. Hopefully he would have time for that experiment before they left as well.
“Ok, do what Sam says,” Dean commanded. “And stay around the shops at this end of the street, so that we know where to find you.”
“Of course,” Sherlock replied.
Once John and Dean disappeared out of the shop, Sam engaged Sherlock in a surprisingly interesting discussion of potions and non-magic users, as well as the differences between blood-witches and satanic witches. Sam was rather intelligent, Sherlock found, which only made him feel a bit guilty for his plans to lose the young hunter some point soon.
By the time they moved onto another store, it was quite obvious that Sam had developed a headache, and this only worked to Sherlock’s advantage really. His escape plan became less about needing to outrun the 6’4’’ trained hunter, and more about waiting for the right opportunity to either slip away unnoticed, or talk Sam into sitting down for a bit somewhere and leaving Sherlock on his own.
John was dragged into and through a very colourful shop called Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. Dean only paused long enough to wave at the young girl at the till, who seemed to know him. He took John right through to the backroom, where he barely stopped as he waved at Harry and his kids, and a red-headed man, and then he was pulling John up a staircase and into a small apartment. Behind him down the stairs, he heard someone say, “Did Dean just drag a man up to our apartment by the hand?” and yeah, John was beginning to be a little concerned about what exactly was going on.
Dean shut the door and directed John to sit on dusty couch, finally letting go of his hand. Dean paused, and gave John a long look, and then shrugged and put the crystal into his pocket.
“What’s this about?” John asked.
“Hunting,” Dean answered. “I figured I should give you the run down - find out how much you know, fill in the blanks, that sort of thing.”
“Why?” John asked.
“Because you’re more likely to come across it working with Sherlock,” Dean said. “And it’s better to know too much than too little.”
“Why tell me and not Sherlock?” John said.
“Because you’ll tell Sherlock,” Dean smiled, “and, because I don’t much like being condescended to. Also, because you’re carrying a gun in a country where even the police aren’t armed – if you aren’t already a hunter, then you sure as hell would fit right in.”
“How do you know I’m armed?” John asked. Dean smiled.
“Same way your partner does, I suspect,” Dean said. “I just know what to look for. I also know you served in the military – don’t know where though. Probably discharged after injury, otherwise you’d still be there. Sucks man, I’m sorry.”
“Afghanistan,” John said, because it seemed to be the answer to moments like these. “I was discharged after I got shot and developed an intermittent tremor in my left-hand - sort of ruined my dreams of being a surgeon that. You? Sherlock said you were trained by your father who was in the military-”
Dean nodded. “Vietnam, Marine. He trained me since I was around six years old.”
“So, then, what are you carrying?” John said, nodding towards Dean’s bulky clothing. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?”
Dean laughed, and then unloaded a small armoury onto the coffee table.
John wasn’t sure what the hell he should be thinking, but despite being slightly terrified, he was really starting to like Dean.
After a brief, horrifying, and extremely enlightening conversation about guns and monsters, John and Dean exchanged email addresses and then made their way back downstairs.
“Hey Harry,” Dean said as they passed through the back room. “I’m just going to go return John and his partner to the outside world, then Sam and I will be back, ok? Are the boys still having fun, or do you want to take off now?”
Harry glanced at the two young boys who were playing with toys that seemed to explode occasionally, much to their delight. “I think they’ll be fine for a bit longer. Has everything gone, ok?”
“Yeah,” Dean said glancing at John. “I think it was a smart idea on Sam’s part.”
“I hope so,” Harry said. “Is he with Sherlock now?”
“Yes,” John replied, suddenly realizing it had been a half an hour or more since they had parted ways with Sherlock and Sam. “We, uh, we better go check on them.”
“I’ll see you in a bit, Harry,” Dean said, and they left the shop.
Once outside, Dean started to walk back to the end of the street that they had last seen Sam and Sherlock. John, however, hesitated. He really just kind of wanted to go home.
“Come on,” Dean urged. “Why are you dragging your feet, I thought you liked the guy?”
“I think I’ll just go home,” John shrugged.
“What?” Dean said. “We have to get Sherlock and Sam first, or else they’ll-“
John kind of tuned him out. He was too busy thinking about his favourite chair and the tea kettle, and the fact that it was a bit chilly out.
“Shit-“ Dean said, “I forgot the...”
Then Dean was holding John’s hand, and John wasn’t quite sure why he had wanted to go home so badly just then. He looked at Dean in confusion, an apology forming on his lips, but then a panicked and angry expression came over Dean’s face and John bit his tongue.
“Come on!” Dean said, pulling John through the street roughly, and sending them into a light jog. “We have to find Sam NOW, that stupid lying IDIOT.”
They attracted just a little bit of attention, though Dean didn’t seem to notice or care. Most people just gave them quizzical looks, but John saw one very blonde man and his dark-haired wife give them a look of utmost concern as they emerged from a shop on the other side of the street just as Dean and John ran by.
Dean’s panic seemed to settle as soon as Sam came into view, but that’s when John’s panic began – because Sherlock wasn’t with him. Sam didn’t seem to notice them until they stopped right in front of him, which was a little odd for someone military trained.
“You said you were fine, you liar,” Dean said. “You said you couldn’t feel anything.”
“It’s just a headache,” Sam said, but he looked guilty.
“How bad?” Dean asked, and John’s eyes swept over Sam assessing him as much as he could with just a glance.
“Been getting worse,” Sam said. “I’d like to go now.”
“Where’s Sherlock?” John asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam previously stoic face cracked for a second and he suddenly looked like he was on the verge of tears. “My head hurt, and then he-”
“Gave you the slip,” John finished, feeling anger curl in his stomach. He wasn’t surprised, and that only made him angrier.
“Shit,” Dean muttered, looking up and down the street, “how the hell did you manage to lose him! One job, Sammy – we’re breaking the rules as it is. I do not want to get Harry in trouble for-”
John tuned Dean out because he suddenly noticed Sam’s eyes glaze over and stare into the middle distance, and then his fingers twitched...and then suddenly he was looking at Dean again a little confused but extremely guilty.
“Sam needs to sit down,” John interrupted.
“What?” Dean said.
“Now! Somewhere out of the way – over there,” John commanded, and together Dean and John used their free hands to guide Sam into a small passage between two shops.
“I’m ok, I just need to-” Sam started to say, as they sat him down on the top of a discarded barrel.
“Sam,” John asked in his most soothing voice, “do you suffer from seizures?”
“No,” Sam said.
“Sometimes,” Dean said. Sam looked confused.
“Okay,” John said. “Does he take anything for them?”
“No,” Dean said. “They’re really rare – very specific circumstances... his biggest problem is migraines, and then he just takes some pain killers. Sam, why didn’t you come get me?”
“I need to find Sherlock,” Sam said. “Can’t...”
And then Sam’s eyes glazed over again.
“Can’t what, Sam?” Dean said. “Sammy?”
“Absence seizure,” John said. “Not the first. Do you know what set him off? Is it environmental or health-related or...?”
“It’s environmental in this case,” Dean growled. “We need to find Sherlock, and then I am ripping that damn crystal out of his goddamn hand and shoving it-”
“Dean?” a voice said at the opening to the passageway, John looked up and saw the very pale, very blonde man from the street walking swiftly towards them. “What’s happened?”
“Hello Draco,” Sam said smiling, apparently back with them. “How are you? How’s Scorpius?”
“We’re both well, Sam,” the man, Draco, answered. “And you? Did you know that your nose is bleeding?”
“Is it?” Sam asked. John turned and saw that indeed, Sam’s nose had started to bleed.
“Great, now his brain is melting,” Dean muttered.
Sam looked over at Dean, who reached up and wiped Sam’s nose with his left sleeve like Sam was a two year-old.
“We need to get him to the A&E,” John said.
“The what?” Dean asked.
“What’s wrong with him?” Draco asked simultaneously.
“He’s an idiot,” Dean answered.
“I should have set a time limit,” Sam said. “What’s it been? Forty minutes?” It had been nearly an hour, but John didn’t want to confuse Sam further by correcting him. “Maybe if we had left after a half hour. He said he’d just be ten minutes, and I thought I could handle it.”
Neither of these responses actually answered the blonde man’s – Draco’s – question of what was wrong with Sam though, so John replied.
“He seems to be suffering from some neurological stress that is causing generalized seizures.”
Draco and Dean both looked at John, but John noticed that Draco’s eyes then slid to where John and Dean’s hands were clasped.
“Who are you?” Draco asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m a doctor,” John said.
“This is John,” Dean said. Dean carefully lifted his fingers so that Draco could see the clasped crystal between their palms. “Sam and I were showing him and his friend around the place, only-”
“Dean,” Draco said, suddenly wide-eyed and angry-looking, “you cannot just bring random muggles in here on a whim!”
“Listen,” John said. “We’re sorry, and we’ll leave as soon as I find my friend. Only we can’t very well leave Sam unattended when he’s...” John gestured to Sam, following his hand with his own gaze and realized that Sam’s attention had drifted off again.
“Fucking hell,” Dean said, and then pushed the hand that was clasped with John’s towards Sam’s chest, opening it enough for the crystal to be shared between the three of them. Sam seemed to immediately come back to himself, though John wasn’t sure he was quite with them yet.
John realized what was wrong with Sam.
“You mean he doesn’t have one?” John asked.
“How in Merlin’s name...” Draco mumbled.
“Drake,” Dean said. “Can you go find John’s friend? His name is Sherlock. He’s pale like you, but with dark curly hair – about as tall as I am, long black coat. Get him here somehow.”
Draco nodded, and John’s mouth fell open when instead of turning and walking out of the alley, he turned and disappeared completely.
“Yeah, they do that,” Dean said, then focused back on Sam, wiping his nose gently yet again. “Hey Sammy, how’re you holding up?”
“Was Draco just here?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, he’s going to find Sherlock so we can get you out of here,” Dean said.
“I feel better now,” Sam said, then he looked down at where Dean and John’s hands were pressing the crystal into his chest. “Oh,”
“Yeah, ‘oh’,” Dean said. “I swear to god, Sam, you can’t keep pulling this shit. John let go for half a minute and he wanted to go home.”
“It really wasn’t that bad...” Sam protested.
“In his defence,” John offered, “I was fine when we were in that apartment over the shop.”
“Right,” Dean said, furrowing his brow. “So, it can’t just be everywhere? Maybe...maybe just in the street? If we could get him to George’s place, then he would be alright there while I escorted you and Sherlock out.”
Before John could respond, there was loud pop beside them and Draco reappeared – and Sherlock fell on the ground looking rather paler than normal and a little freaked out. John would have been more sympathetic, but he was too angry. Instead he let go of the crystal that he and Dean were pressing to Sam’s chest, and launched himself at the crystal clutched in Sherlock’s hand – hauling Sherlock off the cobblestone in the process and pressing him rather forcefully into wall with his free hand.
“Please do not tell me that you purposefully abandoned a man having a seizure just so that you could go off gallivanting without a chaperone, or so help me, Sherlock-”
“What?” Sherlock said, eyes-wide.
“And don’t fake innocence,” John pushed Sherlock’s chest again.
“You’re angry,” Sherlock said.
“Genius observation there, Sherlock,” John seethed, “now answer the question.”
“He had a headache,” Sherlock said. “I suggested that maybe he would prefer to wait for me in one place, and I’d only be ten minutes in the next shop. Just a headache, and I was being considerate.”
“And how long ago was that?”
“Fifty minutes,” Sherlock said.
“And were you just in the next shop?” John asked.
“No,” Sherlock cringed.
“Where were you?” John asked.
“You know what,” John said. “Let’s see how you like it. Sherlock, I’m asking you to stand exactly where you are until I say so, do you understand?”
Sherlock nodded, a little confused. John smiled. Sherlock's look changed to one of slight panic. And then John took the crystal out of Sherlock’s hand and stepped back.
He watched the interesting interplay of emotions on Sherlock’s face. Really, he thought, this might not be a punishment, given how much not being in control of his own mind should interest Sherlock. Sherlock seemed conflicted, determined, confused, and then determined again.
“This is ridiculous,” Sherlock announced, straightening his coat and turning to leave. “I’m going home.”
John took that as his cue, and he grasped Sherlock’s hand again with the crystal still in his palm.
“Why did you want to go home, Sherlock?” John asked. “I told you to keep standing there.”
“I-” Sherlock frowned. “I didn’t...”
“Now, imagine fighting that little war for almost a whole hour,” John said, “just so that you could do two strangers a favour.”
Sherlock looked over to Sam then, who John realized was now resting against the wall, eyes closed with blood still smeared under his nose, while Dean and Draco were immersed in a whispered conversation.
“They said they had a spare,” Sherlock replied.
“It’s Sam’s,” John corrected. “He just thought he could go without it. Thankfully Dean and I found him before his seizures became more...alarming.”
“Stupid!” Sherlock cursed, “of course! The arm around the back – not just American affection – he needed to get in the door. The headache continually growing worse... I should have realized-”
“That perhaps you shouldn’t have left him alone?” John finished.
“Right,” Sherlock said, glancing at John, “but how is it possible? I didn’t even last a minute, yet he lasts nearly an hour?”
John didn’t have an answer for that. The important thing to John was that Sherlock was remorseful for leaving Sam alone. Perhaps only because Sam was suddenly a more interesting mystery, but at least it was some form of remorse.
“John,” Dean called him, and John turned his attention back to the other people in the alley, though Sherlock squeezed his hand tightly – either reminding him not to let go, or as an apology.
“Yes?” John said.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Dean said, “but we’re switching charges. I need you with Sam.”
“Understood,” John said, a small part of him enjoying being around the military again. Even if Dean and Sam weren’t exactly traditional military – Dean certain gave commands like he was.
John tugged Sherlock away from the wall and over to stand next to Sam. Dean had looped the crystal back over Sam’s neck, so after Dean counted down from three, they did a quick switch, and then John had his hand over the crystal and Sam’s heart – and Dean was holding hands with Sherlock. John blinked at that, and studied Dean for a minute, realizing that he had basically left Sherlock with someone who might possibly want to do him bodily harm.
“Ok, this is how it’s going to work,” Dean said. “Draco’s going to take Sam and the doc directly to George’s apartment with magic. Me and the detective here are going to walk.”
“Why aren’t you coming with us?” John asked.
“Because I hate going by magic,” Dean said. “And because Draco can’t take that many at once. And I’m sending you with him because you’re a doctor, and can look after Sammy for me.”
“’m fine,” Sam said.
“Shut-up,” Dean said. “I’m not talking to you.”
Then Dean proceeded to glare at John in a way that suggested that not only was he putting John in charge of his brother’s health, but if John were to fail at the task in any way Dean would break all of his fingers one by one. John did the only thing he could think of doing – he nodded. That seemed to satisfy Dean, and Dean gave a nod to Draco and then turned and pulled Sherlock out of the alley. Sherlock gave John a slightly panicked look before he was pulled away.
“Sam, can you stand?” Draco asked. Sam nodded and stood up, John instinctually moved so that he was tucked under Sam’s shoulder just in case – his hand still resting over the larger man’s heart and the crystal. “Once I get you there,” Draco said. “I’m going to have to leave immediately, as I’m not exactly welcome. So, I’ll say this now – Sam, when you’re feeling better, please send me an owl. Astoria and I would love to have you and Dean over for tea.”
“Sure thing,” Sam said. “Thanks man.”
“Will this be painful at all?” John asked.
“Just makes you a little queasy,” Sam said, patting John rather forcefully on the back in what must have been a comforting gesture. In truth, John had just been asking because he was worried about whether it was safe for Sam – it hadn’t actually occurred to him that his own safety was at risk as well.
“Ready?” Draco asked. Sam and John both nodded.
Draco reached out and grabbed both their shoulders, and then the world was ripped away and John was being sucked through a straw. The only thing that remained constant was the feeling of Sam at his side and Draco’s hand on his shoulder – and the straw wasn’t very long, but then they sort of bounced and there was a brief pause, before John felt his legs materialize under him and he found himself standing in another alley looking at an old wooden door. Sam was also suddenly using John to support most of his weight.
“Ugh, I hate doing that,” Sam moaned.
“Anti-apparation ward,” Draco said. “Sorry, this is as far as I can take you.” Then Draco banged on the door three times, and then turned and disappeared.
The door was opened by George. The man’s eyes widened at the sight of John propping up Sam, and then thankfully George sprang forward and tucked himself under Sam’s other arm and helped John bring him in.
“What happened?” George asked. “Harry!”
It was a back door to the shop, and it led into the back room that Dean had walked John through only a short time earlier. Harry ran forward to help.
“Sam, um, miscalculated,” John said.
“m’fine” Sam replied with a pout, just as they sat him down on the couch. Sam groaned and held his head. John shoved Harry out of the way and knelt down in front of Sam.
“Look at me,” John commanded, and Sam’s head snapped up with a wince. John made sure to keep eye contact. “Name?”
“Winchester? Like the pub and the rifle?” John smiled, checking Sam’s pupil dilation.
“Yeah, like the...pub?” Sam looked at him confused.
“Sorry, Shaun of the Dead is one of my favourite films,” John said.
“Oh, yeah, like the pub,” Sam smiled. “And the rifle. And zombies aren’t really like that.”
“What are zombies really like?” John asked, as he carefully checked Sam’s pulse against his watch.
“Zombies are crazy, and murderous, and you have to kill them by driving a stake through their heart and nailing them to their coffin,” Sam explained. “One of them broke my wrist once. It hurt.”
“Um, children in the room,” Harry said politely. John looked over to find Harry’s too young boys staring at them with wide-eyes. Sam cringed.
“Sorry, Harry,” Sam said, then he turned to the boys, “I’m just telling stories, kids – uh, I hurt my head and the doctor just wants to make sure I’m not brain damaged.”
“Is he ok?” one of the kids asked John.
“Yes, he’s fine now,” John declared. Sam breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back on the couch and closed his eyes.
“You got anything for a headache, George,” Sam asked without moving.
“Yeah,” George said, “be right back.” George ran up the stairs to the apartment.
“Let me guess,” Harry said, sitting down beside Sam. “You’re grand plan was to be self-sacrificing and give your amulet to Sherlock and John...and then you got a headache, and a nosebleed, probably started talking nonsense and scared everyone into thinking it was a medical emergency?”
“Seizures,” John added. “Also seizures.”
“Merlin,” Harry swore, “Sam, what the hell were you thinking?”
“I thought I’d be fine once we got inside,” Sam said. “Why would you have muggle repelling charms on the inside?”
“Helicopters, hot-air balloons, satellites,” Harry listed. “Not to mention the amount of merchandise in the shops that come pre-charmed to be muggle-repellent.”
“Oh,” Sam winced.
Sherlock was alone with an extremely angry, military-trained, homicidal mad-man. Well, maybe mad-man was a bit harsh, as Dean seemed to only suffer from PTSD and alcoholism – certainly the co-dependent relationship he had with his brother didn’t warrant a mental-illness classification, though it was probably a close thing.
Be reassuring, Sherlock thought.
“Sam will be perfectly all right in John’s care,” Sherlock said. “John is a very good doctor and excellent in an emergency.”
“Don’t talk to me,” Dean said, and he yanked a little harder on Sherlock’s hand, causing him to trip a little. “I’m not talking to you.”
Be apologetic then, Sherlock thought.
“I assure you that if I had known the extent of Sam’s distress, I would not have-”
“Shut-up!” Dean said.
“It’s not as though I kidnapped him, wrapped him in semtex, and pointed a snipers rifle at his heart!” Sherlock said.
That pulled Dean up short, and Sherlock nearly collided with him, as he stopped abruptly and turned to raise an eyebrow.
“Do I wanna know?” Dean asked.
“No,” Sherlock said.
“Good,” Dean said and then tugged Sherlock forward once more. “You’re lucky John likes you so much.”
Sherlock didn’t say anything, he just let himself be dragged through the street by the American. They finally came to the multi-coloured shop that Sam had pointed out earlier as belonging to Harry’s brother-in-law. Sherlock already knew about the Weasleys from his early reconnaissance work – large family, war heroes, only one daughter now married to Harry Potter – lost one son in the war, two others scarred for life.
The shop itself was humming with activity and bright colours, but Sherlock didn’t have time to take any of it in, as he was unceremoniously dragged through to the back room. The young girl at the till only giving Dean a bemused look as they passed. They entered the back room to find Sam having just finished drinking something out of a small bottle while John, Harry, and a red-haired man – Weasley, shop-owner, missing an ear and a brother; therefore this was George Weasley – hovered around him. Harry’s two children were watching from a short distance away, their toys forgotten.
“I told you he’d be fine,” they all spoke at once.
“What was that?” Dean asked, clenching his jaw and pointing to the empty bottle Sam had drunk.
“Just something for his headache, mate,” George Weasley said.
Sherlock watched as Dean looked at John for confirmation – interesting, comfortable in wizarding world, yet still trusts non-wizarding doctor more...no, it’s not that John’s a doctor, it’s that he’s military - Dean values authority figures, is comfortable deferring to older military men, doesn’t particularly like being in charge even though he has been in charge for a very long time.
“He’s fine,” John repeated, and stood from where he was sitting next to Sam, gesturing that Dean take his spot. Dean crouched down in front of Sam and Sherlock watched fascinated as Sam rolled his eyes, and yet immediately yielded to Dean’s need to make sure Sam was okay.
“Do you want to play?” a small voice asked from beside Sherlock. Sherlock looked down to find an auburn haired boy staring up at him - James. His brother, Albus, stood a little behind him, and looked up at Sherlock with large green eyes.
“I don’t-” Sherlock began to decline, but Albus held up a wand and interrupted.
“This is a trick wand,” Albus said, waving the wand and watching it turn into a fake snake. Then he held up a playing card, “an’ this card es-plodes.” Then he pointed to a bottle sitting on the shelf, “an’ if you drink that, then you daydream for a half-hour, but Daddy says we’re not allowed and Teddy said it was for girls. Uncle George has ears that can listen through doorways, an’ candies that make you turn into birds, an’ we can play with all of ‘em, because we’re family.”
“Yes, I would like to play,” Sherlock said quickly. “Show me how they all work.”
The boys smiled. Sherlock sat down on the rug...and of course he saw the way George Weasley smiled over at him, but thankfully, John, Dean, and Harry were too distracted by sharing Sam’s medical history.
In the end, both Dean and Sam walked Sherlock and John back into regular London. They once again used Harry’s departure as a distraction. This time, however, Sam walked with Sherlock and John walked with Dean – each pair with hands clasped.
Sam and Sherlock walked a little way ahead, out of earshot, but never out of sight. John knew that Dean had made them lead the way for that purpose alone. With Dean behind him, Sam couldn’t get annoyed at having his older protective brother watching over him. John could help but think of Mycroft watching Sherlock from behind his CCTV cameras.
“What’s so funny?” Dean asked.
“Nothing,” John replied. “I just was thinking about how both Sam and Sherlock drive their older brothers crazy.”
“Oh god, there are two of them?”
“Ha, yes,” John laughed. “Sherlock’s brother is far less personable though. Sherlock can’t stand him.”
“That is not reassuring,” Dean muttered. “Worse than Sherlock...I can’t even imagine...”
“Please don’t judge Sherlock on today,” John said. “He just...he gets overexcited, doesn’t think things through. If he hadn’t been overwhelmed with new territory, I’m sure he wouldn’t have left Sam on his own like that.”
“Still,” Dean said. “I know you like the guy, but I just can’t help but thinking that you could find someone else, you know? Someone a little less...douchey.”
“Sherlock is brilliant, really. I wish you could see him work, in his element...and I know it’s hard to see, but he does care about people-”
“About you?” Dean asked.
“Of course,” John said, immediately.
“Well, I guess that’s all the matters then,” Dean said. John was a little confused as to why that should be the only thing that mattered, but if it meant Dean was feeling better about Sherlock, then John certainly wasn’t going to question it.
Once they were outside of the pub, Sam led them back to the alley where they would be out of the public’s eye. Both Dean and Sam took back the crystals and hung them around their necks.
“So, uh, hope that was...” Sam trailed off waving his hand.
“That was great Sam, really,” John smiled, and then John gave Sherlock a significant look.
“Yes, thank you,” Sherlock said. “Do let me know if I can ever repay the favour in some way.” Sherlock glanced at John, who was still looking at him. “And I do apologize for not realizing the severity of your headache.”
“Yeah, uh, sorry I overextended myself there,” Sam said, looking down, as though he had reason to be embarrassed.
“So, curiosity satisfied? Or just piqued?” Dean asked.
John felt his jaw drop a bit, because he knew what answer they should give, but...
“Piqued, of course,” Sherlock replied. “Now I need to know so very much more.”
Sam and Dean both smiled, and Dean looked at John, as though waiting for him to answer as well. John remembered their conversation from earlier and knew what Dean was really asking.
“Piqued, yes,” John nodded.
“Good,” Dean said. “Stay out of trouble, though, or Harry’ll kill us.”
“Understood,” Sherlock nodded.
“We gotta go meet Harry and the boys around the corner,” Sam said. “So, it was nice meeting you.”
“You as well,” Sherlock replied.
“Take care of each other,” Dean said.
John and Sherlock both nodded, and watched as the two Americans turned and walked out of the alley.
“Come on, Sherlock,” John said, leading the way out of the alley, and heading towards the tube station. “You owe me dinner, and I want to try that new place-”
“I what?” Sherlock said.
“You owe me dinner,” John repeated, “I had to pay George for all that stuff you nicked. Oh, don’t look surprised, he’s a wizard! Did you really think he wouldn’t have spells that could detect that kind of thing? I’m just glad he was willing to take pounds.”
“I don’t-” Sherlock started haughtily.
“Unless you’re offering to pay for the cab too, I don’t want to hear it,” John said. “You could have gotten us into a lot of trouble today, we were lucky. I bet you learned loads though, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Not only about the Wizarding socity, but also about our two visiting Americans – for part-time con artists, they really are horrible at concealing-”
“Did you get a last name?” John asked, and he knew he was driving Sherlock mental by not letting him finish a sentence, but he couldn’t help it.
“No, but-“ Sherlock said.
“I did,” John smiled broadly. He didn’t care if it was ridiculous to feel so proud over something that had been so easy, but he couldn’t help it – especially when it made Sherlock’s eyes light up, in that way that meant that Sherlock thought John was brilliant.
“What is it?” Sherlock asked.
“I’ll tell over dinner,” John said.
“I’ll get the cab,” Sherlock said, smiling, “but we’re not going to the new place; they have a problem with bugs in the kitchen, if the window treatments are anything to go by. We’ll go to Angelo’s, he has a new lasagne recipe that he wants you to try.”
Before Sherlock had finished raising his hand, a cab had stopped in front of them. John wondered, not for the first time, if cabs just followed Sherlock around knowing that it would only be a matter of time... it was a little creepy, considering their first case.
They settled into the back of the cab, and John watched the family streets of London pass by.
“They were nice,” John said.
“Yes,” Sherlock replied. “Sam was surprisingly interesting to talk to. I do regret the fact that his...condition...limited the amount of time we conversed. What did you and Dean talk about while you were looking through shops?”
“Uh, mostly his line of work,” John said. “He’s a nice fellow.”
“He thinks that I’m not good enough for you,” Sherlock said.
“Mm,” John replied automatically, because it wasn’t that unusual. Sgt. Donovan recommended John get a new flatmate every time she saw him.
“Thank you for defending me, by the way,” Sherlock said. “Whatever you said, it seemed to have satisfied him to some extent.”
“I just told him how brilliant you were,” John said, turning away from the window to look at Sherlock – who was giving him a funny look. Then Sherlock looked out his own window.
“Refreshingly open-minded for Americans,” Sherlock said. “Of course, the reputation of the country rarely represents the attitudes of all its citizens.”
“Right,” John said. Then he paused and thought back on the conversation. “Wait, you mean...open-minded because they’re Hunters who are friends with Wizards, right?”
“No,” Sherlock said. “Though that too. I was, however, talking about the fact that they are two heterosexual men from the southern United States, who grew up in a predominately hetero-normative masculine society, and yet they were perfectly willing to spend an afternoon holding hands with two men they perceived as married homosexuals.”
“They thought that...” John said, gesturing to himself and then to Sherlock.
Sherlock smiled. The cab pulled up to Angelo’s.
“Oh, good,” Sherlock said, paying the driver, “our table is free. Come along, John – I believe you were the one that insisted on a dinner-date.”