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We Call It All Home

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“I'm telling you, that bloody Scamander is driving me insane,” John Watson fumed as he peeled off his soaked cloak and scarf and hurled them onto the table.

Tina Watson, who was sat cross-legged in front of the Gryffindor common room fire, watched with a hint of amusement as her twin brother went on his usual post-practice, anti-Slytherin tirade. “Did they try to override the signup sheet again?” she asked idly, balancing her Potions textbook on her lap.

John stopped in the middle of the mostly vacant room and flung his arms in the air. “Of course they bloody did!” he yelled. “We didn’t even get halfway through when they came waltzing into the pitch and cut our practice short. And now that Moriarty’s captain, it's ten times worse, because he's already Head Boy and he's got the—the womanizing factor—”

Tina raised an eyebrow. “Womanizing?”

John flopped down next to Tina and leaned back against an armchair. “Help me, Teen,” he groaned dramatically.

Tina set her book aside and turned to face her brother. “What about the other Scamander?”

“Who, Newt?” John scoffed. “Nah, he just hangs round the greenhouse reading up on herbology and talking to his weird bowtruckle. Have you ever even seen him and Sherlock together?”

“They get along,” Tina pointed out mildly.

“So do we,” John replied. “Sometimes. Doesn't mean I'd be able to talk your head out of your arse.”

“Well,” Tina said, getting to her feet and yawning, “I'm sorry practice was rough. Did you see Sarah, at least?”

“Who?”

“Sarah Sawyer was in the bleachers.”

John handed his sister her textbook and stood as well, frowning. “What? She was?”

“Yeah, but I guess someone was too busy obsessing over”—“Hating,” John corrected her—“the Slytherin Seeker to pay attention. If you don't ask her out soon, I can't be held accountable for what happens.”

John heaved a long-suffering sigh and grabbed his sopping wet clothes. “Whatever,” he grumbled. Tina flashed him a grin, gave him a quick hug—honestly, it really wasn't fair that she’d ended up taller than him—and went off to bed.

--

Sherlock ran into Newt on his way back from practice. It was starting to pour, but of course Newt had made himself a little umbrella out of enchanted leaves and a branch and seemed in remarkably good spirits. It was vaguely irritating.

“Wet outside today, isn't it?” he said with a barely concealed grin.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “It's called rain, Newton. Brilliant observation. Where are you going?”

“Just got to nip in and check on the nifflers.”

Sherlock was about to respond when he spotted something sticking out of Newt’s collar. “Please tell me you aren't planning to take Pickett inside.”

“Hm?” Newt asked innocently. Then he patted Sherlock on the arm. “I'll be back in a jiffy, if you’d like to wait.”

“I’d rather not,” Sherlock replied evenly. “Goodnight.”

Newt waved in response and continued merrily on his way. Sherlock shook his head, hoping for both their sakes that Newt would stay out of trouble; since the first day of school, Mum hadn't stopped assaulting them with owls inquiring after the other twin. Has Newt gotten bitten yet? Has Sherlock blown the school up? Should I be making pre-arrangements at St. Mungo's? And it was only the start of October.

Sherlock passed Queenie Goldstein on his way to the Slytherin common room. She was a nice young woman who had, to Sherlock’s knowledge, always been kind to his oddball of a twin. Not that Sherlock was any less of an oddball. While Newt’s social ineptitudes lay more in the realm of being soft spoken and shy, Sherlock simply gave no heed to social etiquette, and his unnerving deductive skills and smart mouth landed him in detention on a regular basis. The brothers’ poor mother had despaired from day one, eyeing her friends’ popular sons with envy and trying to socially engage the twins, even just a smidge. However, her standards seemed to lower annually, and come seventh year she informed her boys that she’d happily settle for no near-expulsions, Newt perhaps having a lasting conversation with someone other than his brother, and both her boys successfully graduating and moving up in the world. After six years at Hogwarts, Sherlock certainly had a number of enemies, but everyone was so plebeian anyway, he didn’t have two shits to give about them.

Particularly John Watson.

--

The next morning was a Saturday; the sun came out, and glistening droplets of water clinging to blades of grass were all that remained of yesterday’s torrential downpour. Tina ate breakfast quickly, as she had a meeting with an Auror visiting the school, and bade Queenie a hasty farewell and the tail end of a promise to go to Hogsmeade later. The two best friends hadn't been able to spend much time together, what with the start of their seventh year and Tina’s tunnel vision when it came to school. Queenie was getting a little frustrated, but her temperament was so patient and understanding that she couldn’t really complain.

As Tina left the Great Hall and hurried down the corridor, she heard a small crash from a room to her left. Pausing, she decided it wouldn't hurt to investigate, and cautiously opened the door to reveal Newt Scamander standing alone in the empty classroom. That, in and of itself, wasn’t particularly notable. What was notable was the fact that he seemed to be speaking in tongues to... a baby dragon?

“Are you KIDDING me?” Tina screeched.

Newt spun around, eyes widening, and froze. “Hello,” he said after a split second, giving a friendly little wave. “Erm... nice weather today!”

“What the hell is that thing?!” Tina gasped. It looked like a crumpled up umbrella, really, and it hadn't set anything on fire yet, but it was definitely, definitely a dragon, and this was not a good idea.

Newt hesitated, then carefully moved to the side so she had a clear view of the baby. “It's, well... it's a dragon, see.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Tina said dryly, and took a step forward, gripping her wand. “Why was there a crash?”

“A what?” Newt feigned innocence.

“A cra—oh, for god’s sake,” Tina snapped, rapidly going from shock to concern to irritation. She didn’t know Newt very well, and for the most part he’d always seemed like a nice, quiet guy, but this was seriously pushing the envelope. “You can't have that thing here. At all.” How he managed to smuggle an illegal dragon egg into Hogwarts was a mystery. Either he was a brilliant wizard, more so than he let on, or he was very very stupid. Possibly a combination of both.

“I know,” Newt said. “It's only that—”

“Where’d you get it?”

Newt faltered.

“Newt!”

“Well. It's a bit of a complicated situation.”

Tina crossed her arms. Behind Newt, the baby dragon flapped its wing wildly and accidentally shattered a glass vial, which Newt hurriedly repaired and placed back on the desk, hiding it behind him as though nothing happened. “Try me,” Tina said flatly.

Newt cleared his throat. “There's a trafficking ring. For dragons. And, uh... I might have sent an owl or two expressing interest.”

“Interest in... trafficking dragons?”

Newt shifted uncomfortably. “The main point is, I saved thee—saved this dragon. It hatched last night.”

Tina narrowed her eyes at him. “It's just this one, right?”

“Sorry?” Newt asked.

“You don't, I don't know, have a stash of dragon’s eggs floating around the grounds?”

“Dragon's eggs don't float,” Newt responded pragmatically.

“Show me,” Tina said firmly.

“But—”

“Show. Me. Or I'll report you.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you have a bunch of illegal dragon eggs at Hogwarts.”

“Oh. That's. Well, alright.” Newt hemmed and hawed, but finally his shoulders drooped in defeat and he gently scooped up the baby, concealing it awkwardly beneath his cloak.

Tina fell into step next to him. “You know that's not gonna work once it starts growing. What'll you do then?”

“Yes, well, worrying means you suffer twice.”

Tina couldn’t produce a suitable comeback, so the two of them walked down to the greenhouses in silence. “Please for the love of Merlin tell me you aren’t planning to raise a load of dragons in the Hogwarts greenhouses,” Tina felt compelled to say as they neared Greenhouse #7.

“Not in them, exactly.” Newt’s response was not at all reassuring, and when he motioned for Tina to crawl beneath one of the tables she was pretty sure he’d lost his mind.

“What’s that?” she asked suspiciously when curiosity got the better of her and she followed Newt underneath the table.

He pointed, stooped over. “It's a trapdoor.” Well, this was getting weirder and weirder.

“Does—who knows about this?” Tina spluttered.

“I think it's got some magic attached to it,” Newt explained as he lifted the brass ring to tug the wooden door open. “I came in here with Credence and it wasn't the same for him.”

Tina furrowed her brow. “Why not?”

Newt shrugged. “I don't know if it'll work with you,” he admitted.

“Well, let's find out,” Tina answered reasonably, and stepped down. Where she was expecting to find stairs, however, she found a rope, and toppled a short distance before landing on the dirt floor with a thump.

“Oh no—sorry, so sorry!” Newt apologized, deftly sliding down the rope himself and helping her hurriedly to her feet. “I should've mentioned that particular detail. It had stairs for Credence.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Tina replied, brushing herself off. Then she looked around. “So what is this place?”

It was a simple cellar, not very expansive at all, but despite being underground it was somehow also illuminated with daylight. Something akin to the Great Hall’s enchanted ceiling, Tina assumed. There was a workbench in the corner, papers strewn about, and in a makeshift fire pit were three dragon’s eggs.

“Really?” Tina asked exasperatedly, standing akimbo. Dragons were definitely not pets that could be brought into the school without being approved by the Headmistress, and the fact that they were being illegally trafficked opened a whole other can of flobberworms.

Newt had the decency to appear sheepish. “There are only three more. The dragon dealers were going to sell and torture them,” he added plaintively, “you must understand, they aren't dangerous!”

Tina didn't know what to say, torn between upholding the school rules and appreciating Newt’s kind heart. Instead, she knelt down by the eggs and gingerly ran a finger over them. “How do you know no one else is gonna come in and take them?” she asked, turning to look up at Newt.

He knelt down next to her and gently deposited the baby dragon on the floor, where it started flapping about and making high-pitched noises. “I don't,” he confessed. “But it's the best option I have right now.”

“What's your plan?”

Newt glanced at Tina, licked his lips nervously, and shook his head. “I don't know,” he said quietly. “I need to find someone who’ll take care of them, I suppose.”

“Yeah.” They both fell quiet. Then Tina remembered her meeting, and leapt to her feet. “Merlin’s pants, I'm going to be so late—I was meeting with an Auror and I got distracted,” she said, cursing her own inability to mind her own business. “It’ll be too late now.”

“I’m so sorry,” Newt said in dismay, also standing. “Is it really too late?”

“It’s fine,” Tina sighed. “Let’s just go back to the castle.”

“Are you certain?”

“Yeah, Picquery said the Aurors will come by another time. I can talk to Professor Grindelwald about it later anyway.” Much as she disliked the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, he was efficient and well-connected. Professor Picquery, of course, was always Tina’s go-to—despite running a tight ship, the headmistress had always proven herself to be a fair and wise leader—but since this was such a busy time of year, her office was booked round the clock.

“I’m sorry, anyhow,” Newt said. He sounded genuine, more genuine than most people would have been. “If you wouldn’t mind, it’ll only take a second, but...”

Tina hadn’t totally zoned out during Care of Magical Creatures. “Brandy and chicken blood?” she asked, quirking the corner of her mouth.

“Well. Yes.” Newt retrieved a bucket from a cabinet Tina swore hadn’t been there earlier, and gave it a sniff. It couldn’t possibly smell good, but Newt, because he was obviously slightly mad, seemed satisfied and poured a bit into a smaller bowl for the baby dragon. “There you go,” he said. Tina, watching the tenderness with which he regarded this potentially lethal creature, felt something tug at her heartstrings.

“Ready?” Tina asked when he put the bucket back. He nodded, and together they left the cellar.

“You can name her, if you'd like,” Newt piped up once they were out in the open. Thankfully, no one had noticed two seventh years popping out of the greenhouse floor.

Tina looked over at Newt. “What?” she asked sharply.

“It's a she. The dragon. She liked you, I think.”

Tina softened slightly. “How do you know?”

Newt shrugged and pushed his bangs out of his face. “You can tell. If they like a person.”

“Oh.” Tina fell silent. Then, “How about... Delphine?”

“I like that name,” Newt agreed. “Delphine it is.”

“Okay. But you have to figure out a way to get rid of them,” Tina reminded him sternly. “I'll think about it. There are reserves... I’ll have to look into that. Does Sherlock know? About the dragons?”

Newt sighed. “He will, once he takes one look at me. He knows everything.”

“Is he as awful as John says he is?”

Newt smiled at that. “He isn't particularly awful. Just... a bit of a smart arse, I suppose. And too clever for anyone’s good. I've always looked rather daft in comparison.”

“You aren't daft,” Tina blurted out automatically, then felt embarrassed. She wasn't one to hand out compliments, even in such an innocuous form.

Newt turned slightly pink and said thoughtfully, “I'm... eccentric.”

Tina grinned. “Maybe a little.”

“Newton!” Sherlock made a beeline for his brother as Newt and Tina re-entered the school. “Mother sent you an owl, and it won’t stop attacking me until I’ve fetched you.”

“Well,” Newt said to Tina as he stopped to wait for Sherlock. “I suppose I'll see you later.”

Tina nodded. “Bye, Newt,” she said, and the two parted ways.

--

John was heading out to the Quidditch pitch after chatting to Queenie for a bit when he heard an explosion coming from a vacant classroom. Figuring it was probably a bunch of idiot first years, he braced himself and threw open the door.

Sherlock Holmes was in the middle of the room stirring a massive cauldron, dark curls sticking to his forehead in steam and an array of ingredients spilling over the table beside him. As John stood in the doorway, momentarily taken aback, Sherlock tossed something in and flames suddenly shot out of the potion.

“What the hell are you doing?” John yelled.

Sherlock spun around. His lip curled. “Oh. Hello, Watson.”

John shook his head vehemently. “Don't change the subject. What. Is that.”

Sherlock gestured to the cauldron with a flourish. “A cauldron. Do keep up.”

“No, I know that,” John sputtered, “but what's in it?”

“A potion.”

John rolled his eyes. “Couldn't be a little more descriptive?”

Sherlock looked at him impassively. “No.”

God, John hated the guy. “Fine. But if you set the school on fire, I'm still winning next week’s match.”

“Your sloppy technique may significantly impair that rather lofty goal.”

John gritted his teeth. “We beat you last game.”

An owl swooped through the open window presently, interrupting the boys’ row. It came straight at Sherlock and promptly began attacking him. “Dear god,” Sherlock muttered, waving his wand and attempting to protect himself.

John smirked. “Guess he doesn't like you very much, huh.”

Sherlock cast John a withering look. “It's for Newton.”

John frowned. “Why didn't it go to him then?”

With a sigh, Sherlock managed to ward off the owl for a moment so he could explain, “Mother likes to remind us what happens when we toe the line. She sent a Howler to Newton last year when she discovered my grades.”

Sherlock was smart as a whip and could easily get all O’s, but he didn't much care for most subjects. John was pretty certain, in fact, that the Slytherin deliberately did poorly on exams to demonstrate how little he cared. One year a rumor went around that Professor Esposito gave Sherlock an O in Herbology despite his failing grade, just to spite his rebelliousness.

“Lovely as this discourse has been, I've a brother to shout at,” Sherlock said briskly before John could formulate a response, folding the letter back up. “Apparently Mum would very much like an explanation as to whatever it was he left under his bed. Can’t be too dangerous, of course, it’s only Newt and the idiot wouldn’t hurt a flea... but he does tend towards risk-taking out of the goodness of his heart. Sentiment,” the Slytherin scoffed. “Always the downfall.”

The owl flapped its wings and launched itself at Sherlock again; swearing under his breath, he poured a sample of the dodgy potion into a vial and waved his wand—the cauldron slid neatly back into the supply cupboard—while trying to protect himself from the aggressive bird of prey. It was incredibly entertaining, but John, much to his chagrin, found himself speechless.

Sherlock paused one more second, probably waiting to see if John could come up with anything remotely coherent to contribute, before giving a little head shake and striding out of the room.

“Bye,” John said cleverly.

Why on earth was he so damn tongue-tied around Sherlock? It wasn’t as though Sherlock’s arrogance was warranted or attractive, of course. But John had to have some sort of objective appreciation for the Slytherin’s Ravenclaw-caliber intelligence—rumor was, their mum Ismene was so hoping Sherlock would carry on her bloodline’s legacy and be an eagle that he convinced the Sorting Hat to place him in Slytherin instead—and as far as strikes against him went, his appearance admittedly wasn’t one of them.

This was all irrelevant, though. Better to focus on the present. And important things like family and friends, rather than arch nemeses. Where had Tina gone to, anyway? Keen on hearing how her meeting with the Auror was, John pulled himself together and went on his way.

Chapter Text

“What were you doing with the Watson girl?” Sherlock asked Newt once the owl business had been squared away. It wasn’t human blood, which was the most important bit. And it wasn’t technically illegal. Or technically alive. Now that Newt had been properly scolded by an irate but relieved Ismene, the two brothers were sitting in one of the courtyards, enjoying the weather, while Sherlock frenetically jotted down pages of notes on his most recent Potions experiment and entertained Newt with unsolicited observations of their classmates.

“Tina, you mean,” Newt corrected him.

“Yes, her.” Sherlock flicked his fingers vaguely.

“Oh, erm...”

Sherlock’s head snapped up. Newt seriously considered hiding behind a tree, or diving into the lake, but his brother had already narrowed his eyes at him. “What have you done?” Sherlock asked slowly.

“Nothing,” Newt lied.

Sherlock scoffed. “Don’t even try with me, brother.” His gaze flickered over Newt, who could only stand there and await his fate. Then, “A dragon?”

“I can explain—”

“Could you obtain a blood sample?”

Newt blinked. “What?”

Sherlock put down his notes and looked at his brother earnestly. “I’ve been experimenting with different bloods, and none of them have quite the properties I’m looking for.”

“I’m not going to hurt Delphine!” Newt objected.

Sherlock shot Newt a condescending look. “You named it?”

“Maybe. No. I’m not hurting her, is the point.”

“You needn’t hurt her. Just a small prick would do nicely.”

“No.”

Sherlock sighed. “It would be considerably more conducive to my current predicament if you’d not throw a fit like a two-year-old. If you don’t provide a blood sample, then rest assured, I am not above involving our dear mother. I’m sure she’ll take very well to the idea of her son stowing away an XXXXX-classified creature.”

“I’d rather get told off by Mum than injure my baby,” Newt maintained staunchly.

“Really, the sheer sentimentality is unbelievable,” Sherlock said scathingly. “Sometimes I can't believe we're related, the level of weakness you demonstrate in the most clinical of situations...”

That was the thing about Sherlock. For the most part, he and Newt had always happily coexisted. Neither of them were the combative type, Newt because he didn’t want to upset anyone and Sherlock because he didn’t care about anyone. However, Sherlock’s words could certainly destroy even the hardiest of egos, and every so often he would get caught up in his own desires and go off on his brother. It wasn’t with malice; it was simply his way of expressing himself, with little to no regard for others' feelings. But it still stung.

Unlike Sherlock, Newt was on the more confrontation-averse side (arguments were more trouble than they were worth, in his opinion), so rather than start a fight he knew he wouldn’t win, he simply stood up, gave his brother a stiff, formal nod of acknowledgement, and headed back into the castle.

He had a lot to think about.

--

Queenie watched from across the courtyard as Newt Scamander quickly walked off, leaving Sherlock looking a little remorseful.

“Hey, Teen,” she said when she saw Tina heading her way. “Didja talk to Newt, by any chance?”

“No,” Tina said too quickly. “I mean, yes. But not now, no. Why?”

“He and Sherlock had a row.”

“What’s this about a row?” John interrupted keenly, appearing from behind a pillar. Queenie jumped.

“Queenie just thinks Sherlock and Newt had a row,” Tina said dismissively. Then, ruefully, “I missed my meeting.”

“Why?” Queenie and John asked simultaneously, shocked that hard-working, career-focused Porpentina Watson might miss an important meeting.

“It’s a long story. Please don’t,” she added to her best friend.

Even though Queenie couldn’t help it much of the time, she tried as hard as she could to manage her Legilimency. When she came to Hogwarts as a young child and was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of people, it was overwhelming. As she got older, and with the help of her parents, she was able to contain it more—somewhat like a Muggle television, controlling the volume and channel—and pledged never to read her close friends' minds without their permission, as a sign of respect. It was hard when Tina was sometimes a locked box to the outside world, but on principle Queenie was determined never to ‘cheat’ and therefore stopped herself every time she started absentmindedly delving into her friend’s thoughts. Tina did the same kindness with her Occlumency.

“Yeah,” John said absentmindedly, now glaring at Sherlock. Right before he turned back to Tina, the Slytherin looked up and locked eyes with him. It was an incredibly uncomfortable and oddly tense moment in which neither seemed able to break eye contact quickly enough. Tina didn’t pay it much mind, but the Legilimens beside her certainly did and, gaze flickering between John and Sherlock, giggled.

“What?” Tina asked, nonplussed.

“Nothing,” Queenie replied.

“Shut up, Goldstein,” John snapped, ducking his head. Across the courtyard, Sherlock unfolded himself from the bench and slunk back inside the castle. “I hate him!”

“‘Course you do, honey,” Queenie said mirthfully.

“Okay, if I tell you something, you lot can’t tell anyone else, got it?” Tina interjected, dragging her friend and brother over to a stone bench. “It’s about Newt.”

“Ooh,” Queenie commented, already excited.

“He’s got a bunch of dragons.”

Queenie nearly toppled off her seat. “He’s got what?”

“Dragons. One of them hatched last night, but there are three eggs that are going to hatch any minute now.”

“Oh, he’s going to get in so much trouble,” Queenie fretted. “He can’t have them, not without Professor Picquery’s permission!”

“I know. But I said I’d help him. He cares about them, he doesn’t want to get in trouble.”

“Famous last words,” John scoffed.

“We’ll figure it out, honey,” Queenie promised her friend, ignoring John. “Aren’t there reserves somewhere?”

Tina nodded. “That’s what I thought. I mean, they’re just dragons, right?”

Famous last words, indeed.

--

The following evening, Tina was dotting her i's and crossing her t's on an essay in the library when Newt darted in out of nowhere, grabbed her by the hand, and dragged her out into the hallway.

“What the hell?” Tina hissed, disgruntled. She waved her wand at the table, where her books flew neatly into her book bag, then summoned the bag itself, crossing her arms as she faced Newt. “This better be good.”

“They're hatching,” Newt said in an undertone. He licked his lips nervously. “Can you come?”

“Can I—it's almost curfew!” Tina sputtered indignantly.

“Yes, well, they don't know that.”

Jacob Kowalski passed the two of them and waved cheerfully. He was well-liked in the school, and Tina had secretly wanted to see him with her best friend for years. Queenie was sweet, and Jacob was down to earth, even though Tina really wasn't the matchmaking type. 

“Hey, Newt,” Jacob said, joining them. “You coming back to the common room?”

Newt did a horrible job of acting casual. “Erm... yes. Yep.”

Jacob, bless his heart, only looked concerned. “You okay, pal?”

“Hm? Oh. Yeah. Just a tad stressed, but, you know.” Newt gave an unconvincing laugh as his gaze darted everywhere but at the other Hufflepuff. “Anywho.”

“Tina will keep you out of trouble,” Jacob professed jovially. He clapped Newt on the shoulder and grinned at Tina. “See you soon.” He stuck his hands in his pocket and headed down the hallway, whistling.

“What are you gonna do?” Tina asked urgently once Jacob disappeared from view.

“I don't know,” Newt replied hoarsely.

Tina didn't approve of this at all. At all. However, Newt looked so genuinely distraught that she didn't have it in her to leave him alone. He wouldn't beg, that much was obvious, but it was clear as day he needed her help. That's what Aurors did, wasn't it? They also upheld the law, of course. Still...

“You needn't come,” Newt added hastily.

“It's fine,” Tina decided. It would be one thing if Newt was doing this for his own selfish gain, but out of all of the students she had encountered in her years at Hogwarts, he seemed by far the most deserving of a partner in crime.

Newt hesitated. “You could get in trouble.”

“You really aren't helping your case.”

The Hufflepuff fell silent (albeit with a small smile) and together they headed towards the greenhouses.

--

It occurred to John right before the clock struck ten that his sister still hadn’t returned from the library. If she was faffing around in a classroom somewhere, she was sure to be caught and sent straight to the common room, but it was unlike her to miss curfew in the first place. The only time she had was when she valiantly got caught up defending Credence Barebone, a timid Hufflepuff, in fourth year. Picquery let that one slide and stuck the bullies in detention.

John decided a quick look around the area wouldn’t do him any harm, and besides, Greg had long gone to bed, so he popped out of the common room, ignoring the Fat Lady’s frankly obnoxious “Oooh, you’ll get in trouble if you’re out after curfew!”

“Watson.”

Of course Sherlock just had to appear out of thin air. “Scamander,” John returned tersely.

“You haven’t seen Newton, have you? He’s normally in bed being asocial with his magizoology books by nine.”

“I’m looking for Tina, actually. You don’t reckon they’ve run off together, do you?” John joked.

“That isn’t amusing,” Sherlock declared, though the corner of his mouth quirked just so.

“I’m very amusing,” John countered. “Anyway, he’s not Teen’s type. She’s probably just studying late.”

“Mm. Well, if Newt’s found loitering near the Forbidden Forest, I daresay it isn’t my problem to deal with. Goodnight.”

“Wow, what a supportive brother,” John said dryly. Sherlock looked at him impassively. “Just... give me a shout if you happen to see Tina, would you? Unlike Newt, she’s probably not gallivanting around with some sort of dangerous... galloping gargoyles!” How could he have forgotten?

“What?” Sherlock asked, taken aback.

Did he know? He probably knew. “Dragons,” John said, waiting for Sherlock’s reaction.

Comprehension dawned; so Sherlock did know. He frowned. “You know?”

“Do you?”

“Newton has a dragon,” Sherlock said at the same time as John said, “Newt’s got three dragon eggs.”

“What?” the Slytherin asked, eyes widening. “Dragon’s eggs?”

John was smirking. “Sorry, did Sherlock Scamander miss something?”

But Sherlock was already pacing in circles, fingers steepled below his chin as he muttered, “Eggs eggs eggs, how could I have missed it, I forgot the lower third of his right sleeve... oh, there's always something... obvious, obvious."

“Yeah, well, apparently not obvious to you.”

Sherlock glared at John, who allowed himself a moment to bask in the glow of knowing more than Sherlock before realizing that their siblings could currently be in very very hot water.

“Okay, genius, where d’you think Newt’s keeping the dragons?”

“It would have to be somewhere concealed, somewhere with protection spells or... oh!” Sherlock said suddenly, and without further ado spun around and started speed-walking down the hall, cloak billowing behind him.

--

Tina cast Disillusionment charms on herself and Newt. This didn’t mean they wouldn’t be caught, but at the very least they wouldn’t be wandering round the castle in plain view.

“They’re different species,” Newt whispered to Tina. “Here, I know a shortcut.”

She followed him, crouching behind a line of statues despite her disguise, if it could be called that. Hogwarts was full of enchantments and protection spells and to think they could ever really get away with any sort of sneaking about was just plain stupid. She could try, at least. “They’re from the same dealer, right?” she clarified. "But they're different?"

“Dealers take what they can get,” Newt said fiercely. “It’s despicable. Delphine’s a Norwegian Ridgeback. I’m hoping for an Antipodean Opaleye, they’re gorgeous.”

“You can’t tell from the egg?”

Newt shook his head ruefully. “They use some sort of concealment to make the eggs all look the same. That way no one can pick and choose. ‘You get what you get and you don’t get upset,’ I suppose.”

You get what you get and you don’t get upset. It’s a peculiar Muggle saying, and it’s oddly endearing that Newt should be quoting it.

They arrived at greenhouse #7. Tina removed the charms and reached for the brass ring of the trapdoor, then hesitated.

“Will it work for me again?”

“I don’t know.”

“If they’re in there, won’t they fly out if I open this?”

“They’ve only just hatched. They aren’t flying yet.”

“Right,” Tina said, feeling stupid. Then she tugged open the trapdoor. The rope was still there, and down below the faint glow of fire was visible. Taking a deep breath, Tina slid down and landed on the floor—this time on her feet. The cellar was no longer lit with daylight, but rather warmly illuminated by flickering golden lanterns in each corner. That, combined with the crackling flames in the fire pit, created a misleadingly tranquil atmosphere.

“Mummy’s here,” Newt announced, immediately falling to his knees before the three miniscule reptiles hobbling around the cellar. “Oh, you’re beautiful,” he sighed, gingerly running a finger over one of them. “It’s an Opaleye,” he told Tina like a proud mother, and a beam split his face in two at that. “Look how sweet they are.”

“Where’s Del—” Tina started to ask, but suddenly a blast of fire narrowly missed her hair. Wheeling around, she came face-to-face with the Norwegian Ridgeback, who was glaring at her new companions.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Delphine, come have a look,” Newt called. He looked boyish and excited, eyes shining rather than glinting with fear as they had minutes before, and Tina was inexplicably touched by it. “Come on,” he coaxed. "Are you peckish?"

Delphine scooted along the ledge and hid behind Tina.

“If you’re going to have a strop, that’s no dinner for you,” Newt said sternly.

The Ridgeback flapped her wings tentatively and managed to go airborne long enough to settle on Tina’s shoulder. “Help,” Tina said, because she wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of a volatile fire-breathing creature being that close to her face.

“She likes you,” Newt said, grinning. He went to the cabinet and removed three more bowls, which were somehow also all magically filled with brandy and chicken blood. “They refill every half hour,” Newt informs Tina, “I don’t know how.”

A lot of things weren’t making sense, and a lot of things were seriously breaking the rules. Magically refilling feeding bowls were the least of Tina’s worries at present. “Isn’t she not supposed to breathe fire until she’s a month, at least?” Tina asked. She gingerly peeled Delphine off of her clothes.

Newt shrugged. “I suppose she’s precocious.”

“That’s what they say about children who learn to fly when they’re toddlers, not fire-breathing illegal baby dragons,” Tina said. Delphine fell to the ground with a thump. Tina gasped, but the reptile rolled over back onto her claws, appearing very embarrassed at her clumsy show, and scurried behind Tina’s legs.

“See, she likes you,” Newt insisted.

“What are we doing, Newt?” Tina asked, flinging her arms outward. “I mean, this is great, and I’m glad you like them, but you can’t have them here. The longer they’re here, the higher the chance they’ll escape and do something dangerous. And dragons grow.”

“I know dragons grow,” Newt said defensively. Which was not the point, at all. But based on Tina’s observations thus far, he seemed quite adept at picking out and refuting the least salient points in every argument.

Tina sat down cross-legged beside her... friend? Were they friends, in light of all of this? It didn't matter. Delphine scrabbled around before finally planting herself in Tina's lap. “Go eat,” she told the Ridgeback. “All your friends are.” Indeed, in a neat line, the three other babies were drinking, bobbing their heads in and out like little birds. She paused, mortified but curious, and asked Newt, “What are baby dragons called?”

To his credit, he didn't roll his eyes or make her feel stupid. “These are hatchlings,” he explained, “for the first few days. They’re dragonlings or wyrmlings for the first year—wyrmlings is a bit archaic now, but some dragonologists still use it. After that, they’re dragonets, then fledglings once they reach adolescence.”

“Oh,” Tina said, absentmindedly skimming her hand across Delphine’s spine. “That makes sense.”

“They don’t spend nearly enough time on dragons,” Newt said glumly, resting his chin on his knee and pushing his bangs off his forehead. “In Care of Magical Creatures.”

“It’s not very practical, I guess,” Tina put in. “They’re strictly regulated, it’s not like we’re going to work with them much in our careers.”

“I want to,” Newt said quietly.

A thought occurred to Tina. “What do you want to do, exactly?” she inquired.

“Magizoology,” Newt answered immediately. He may be shy and understated in his normal environment, Tina realized, but he came alive in technicolor when he was in his element. Like this bizarre magical cellar with four illegal creatures. Honestly, Tina would be hard-pressed to find someone (including herself) who was as passionate about their career.

Before she could respond, the hatchlings all emitted high-pitched noises and flocked to the corner of the cellar. Three seconds later, the trapdoor was flung open and two bodies flew through the air, landing with a thump.

“John?” Tina asked at the same time as Newt jumped protectively in front of the dragons and said, “Sherlock, what are you doing here?”

“Merlin’s pants, Teen, what the hell are you doing?!” John yelped. He turned on Newt. “And what are you doing, dragging my sister around after curfew?”

Now that there were four very agitated seventh years to go with four very agitated dragonlings, things got rather chaotic, everyone talking over one another.

“How did you find out about—”

“What on earth would possess you to—”

“How did you get into the—”

“Do you know how much trouble—”

“I’m going to tell Mum—”

“I swear, if this doesn’t stop right now—”

Finally John bellowed, “SHUT UP!” and the cellar went silent. “Right,” he said, turning to Tina. “We’re going back to the common room before you’re expelled.”

“What about Newt?” she protested.

“The Scamanders are more than capable of dealing with their own messes,” John said snarkily. He regarded Newt with far more stoniness than Tina felt was strictly necessary. “Come on, Teen.”

“What about the hatchlings?” she asked in genuine dismay. Delphine clung to the hem of her cloak.

“We can deal with that later. Right now I’m trying to not get us expelled.”

“I’m sorry,” Tina apologized to Newt as John scampered up a ladder that had appeared—this cellar just got weirder and weirder—and yanked her with him. “We can talk tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Newt said rather forlornly. He was clutching the three hatchlings to his chest now. “Come here, Delphine.” It took a solid minute to separate the Ridgeback from her new best friend, and she whined piteously when Tina disappeared.

“Are you mental?” John fumed as they crawled out from under the table. Tina cast Disillusionment charms again and refused to answer, slinking along walls and behind pillars in an attempt to be as covert as possible. Her heart was racing, her hands were shaking, and this was far too much danger and excitement and rebellion for being a seventh year. These were the sorts of shenanigans that she, as Head Girl, was supposed to dissuade first and second years from doing.

“Newt showed me a shortcut, come on, we’ll just sneak back in... we aren’t that late,” Tina reasoned, “it’s only half ten.”

“Remember you said that when we’re both on the train home,” John grumbled, but the closer they got to the common room the more he relaxed.

That is, until everything fell to pieces.

Tina felt an odd sensation, like having warm water poured over top of her, and, glancing down in bemusement, realized that her Disillusionment charm had been lifted. So had John’s and, close behind them, Newt and Sherlock's. “What the—” the now royally-screwed Head Girl started.

“Oh, bloody hell,” John groaned hopelessly. Tina looked in front of her and froze. Shit.

Headmistress Seraphina Picquery stood at the top of the stairway, nostrils flared and eyes flashing dangerously.

“Good evening,” she said. “Enjoying yourselves?”

Chapter Text

In two seconds flat, Newt and Tina found themselves sitting meekly in the headmistress’s office as Headmistress Picquery towered over them behind her desk, looking infuriated. She started with Newt.

“Mr. Scamander, am I to understand that you and Miss Watson were witnessed emerging from beneath Greenhouse #7’s table?”

He cleared his throat nervously, staring at his lap. “Er... yes.”

Picquery’s eyes flashed. “And what, may I ask, were you doing?”

“It wasn’t his fault,” Tina blurted out. Newt’s head snapped up.

“You, Tina, disappoint me,” Picquery said loftily. Tina flinched. “All these years, I never would have expected such inappropriate conduct and lack of consideration for the rules of Hogwarts. Rules which you, as Head Girl, have always reinforced and exemplified.”

Newt cast Tina an anguished sort of look.

“As for you, Mr. Scamander... I should hope you have a very good explanation.”

“We were... playing hide and seek,” Newt lied lamely. Tina buried her head in her hands. That did not help.

Seraphina raised an eyebrow. “Were you.” She pressed her fingertips together and stood up, sweeping out from behind her desk to pace the room. “Mr. Scamander, if I had a galleon every time I heard that excuse, I would be a wealthy woman.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” Newt muttered, ducking his head.

“That’ll be fifty points from Hufflepuff,” Picquery said sternly, “and a hundred points from Gryffindor. This will not happen again.”

Tina squeezed her eyes shut briefly in nearly physical pain. She’d never lost more than twenty points. This was a major transgression given that she was Head Girl and they’d left the castle (and Picquery seemed to be making certain assumptions about her and Newt’s activities). It could seriously affect her record going forth—including and especially with regards to her future career.

The headmistress wasn't finished. “I will be putting you both in separate detentions, for the next week,” she continued. “You are not the first star-crossed lovers to grace these halls, and you will not be the last. But the rules of Hogwarts are sacred.” Picquery softened slightly as she sat back down behind her desk and folded her hands, then nodded at Tina. “That being said... I understand.”

“Oh, no—” Tina started, because Picquery was really jumping to a whole lot of uncomfortable conclusions here. “No, we aren’t—”

“You have been well-behaved from the moment you stepped foot in this castle, Miss Watson, save for the few times you spoke your mind too strongly and the incident with Mr. Barebone. It stands to reason that come seventh year, your will would have worn thin. Nobody can be perfect.

“That is why, while I have perfect reason to, I will not revoke your status as Head Girl.” Tina heaved a sigh of relief. “Nor will I contact your parents, because I daresay Ismene has quite enough to worry about, between her two sons, without disciplinary action”—she looked pointedly at Newt, who mumbled an apology—“and neither of you have committed offenses of this magnitude before.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Tina said gratefully.

Picquery mustered a small smile. “Now, it’s getting late, and I for one am exhausted. I just had the distinct pleasure of dealing with a chain of projectile vomiting; when fourth years will learn that joke shop merchandise manufacturing ought to be left to the professionals I don’t know... but it is my job, after all.” She sighed. “You both take care.”

--

John and Sherlock faced off outside the headmistress’s door while she chewed out their respective twins. Well, John was doing most of the facing off, while Sherlock stood there looking infuriatingly disinterested.

“This is all your brother’s fault,” John hissed.

Sherlock scoffed. “As though Tina has no free will. She elected to involve herself, Watson.”

“Oh, blame the victim, why don’t you,” snarled John. “If Teen’s demoted from Head Girl, I’ll kill Newt.”

“I wouldn’t joke about those things if I were you,” Sherlock said mildly. “Did you notice something odd about the hatchlings?”

John blinked, caught off guard by the non sequitur. “The what?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “The dragons, John.”

“Oh. Right. Erm... no, I was a little preoccupied trying to get my sister not expelled.”

Sherlock sat down on the floor, knees awkwardly bent, and said thoughtfully, “Something wasn't right. The one attached to Tina was close to flying and breathing fire when it is newly hatched.”

John seated himself cross-legged across from Sherlock. “Okay... well, that's great, but I'm a bit worried about the fact that Newt’s got four dragon babies in a magical cellar and no plan.”

Sherlock’s brow was furrowed. “There are dragon reserves. If we can get in touch...”

John frowned. “Hang on, ‘we’? Uh, hate to break it to you, but I'm not involved in this.”

“Fine,” Sherlock said coolly. “When the dragons rebel and the entire wizarding world is wracked with darkness, you can rest in peace knowing you declined to aid in efforts to prevent it.”

John was about to retort that Sherlock was being incredibly unnecessarily rude when Tina emerged, appearing frazzled but not devastated.

“Hey,” she said to John when he jumped to his feet, “so... I lost us a hundred points. And Picquery thinks me and Newt are dating.”

“Where is Newton?” Sherlock asked a bit anxiously. 

“Hm? I dunno, he's still in Picquery’s office. Anyway, I'm not doing that again anytime soon. Let's go,” Tina said to her brother. He was all too happy to comply.

--

“Mr. Scamander, a word?” Picquery requested as Newt and Tina headed for the door. Exchanging confused glances with Tina, he stepped back inside the office. “I’m sure you know what this is about, Newton,” the headmistress stated when he cautiously came to sit down again.

Oh no. She knew about the dragons. She knew, and she was going to expel him. Stacking up his arguments, Newt was about to explain that he was rescuing them from cruelty and they really weren’t dangerous at all, when she went in a completely different and unprecedented direction and said,

“Miss Watson is a kind and intelligent young woman. Please be careful with her.”

“What?!” Newt yelped.

Picquery sighed. “While the two of you are a fitting couple, I know you can be careless. I am simply reminding you that Tina rarely admits to weakness, which is why she has thus far never been in a romantic relationship. She is an Auror through and through—she will take risks to save others from harm, but when it comes to her own emotions—”

“No,” Newt blurted out. “We aren’t... we aren’t a couple.”

Picquery’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Ah. I apologize. I assumed, the way the two of you were acting...”

He shook his head vehemently. “No, never. Never.”

“So you were...? I'm sorry, but I really don't believe you would play hide and seek, knowing that you risked serious disciplinary action.”

“I'm afraid I can't tell you, Professor,” Newt said meekly.

Picquery nodded. “Very well, then. I won't keep you any longer.”

It was this sort of respect for her students that compensated for Picquery’s sternness. She may rule with an iron fist at times, but she was nothing if not full of integrity. Newt paused and gave a little head bob before turning away. But then Picquery spoke up, stopping Newt in his tracks.

“Secrets have a funny tendency to come out in the most inconvenient of ways. Tread lightly, Newton.”

Because that wasn't at all foreboding.

--

Gellert Grindelwald was awoken by the portrait above his head.

“The tall one noticed!” Sir Lexington Sneed said excitedly, waving his arms about in the picture frame. “He noticed one of the hatchlings was breathing fire!”

Of course Sherlock Scamander would be the only one who noticed. Other people operated on confirmation bias, explaining everything away that they could. People like Sherlock and Gellert, however, did the opposite: they faced life with meticulous scrutiny, picked apart every discrepancy, and never gave the benefit of the doubt.

“They’ll be trying to send them off, you know!” the portrait exclaimed.

“Calm down, Sneed,” Gellert said wearily. What Sherlock was doing up and about after curfew remained to be seen (and probably divulged at breakfast, during Seraphina’s daily staff briefing). It was intriguing, though.

“Don’t you need to stop them?!” cried the portrait.

“No,” Gellert replied. “Everything is going to plan...”

--

The next morning at breakfast, Tina waved at Newt from the Gryffindor table. His face lit up, seeing as he probably thought she was angry with him, and she was just about to say something reassuring (even though she really ought to be mad) when John shoved past her and marched over to the Hufflepuffs.

“This is all your fault!” John shouted at Newt.

“John, calm down!” Tina snapped irritably. He’d always been very much the ‘only I get to torture my sister and if you lay a hand on her I'm giving you hell’ sort of brother. She didn't even want to know what he might be like if and when she got a boyfriend. Which, despite Picquery’s humiliating implications, was very far off.

“Watson, contain yourself,” Sherlock cut in, striding over from the Slytherin table. “Good lord.”

“It's fine, everything's fine,” Tina said loudly. She yanked John by the arm. “You don't need detention too.”

Greg Lestrade, John’s best friend, came ambling over to the scene. “Come on, mate, let’s not,” were his calming words. “We’re seventh years, now. Can't be seen getting into all sorts of mischief...”

“Yeah, it would suck if we jinxed each other,” John replied, and whipped out his wand, aiming at his best friend. “Locomotor Wibbly!”

Greg collapsed on the ground, swearing at John good-naturedly.

“This is why you are not Head Boy,” Tina informed her brother with a sigh. She took out her own wand and performed the counter-jinx.

“Nah, it’s ‘cause everyone goes for Moriarty's macho-ness,” John said dismissively.

“You are terrible role models,” Tina informed John and Greg. “Seriously.” Everyone was starting to stare, and if there was one thing Tina hated, it was being the center of attention.

“Jinxing one another at the breakfast table, are we?” Potions Professor Charles Magnussen interjected, striding over. He and Professor Grindelwald were often associated with one another given the fact that they were both cool, calculating, and just shy of intimidating—though Grindelwald was less aloof and more charismatic when he wanted to be. “That’ll be ten points from Gryffindor each, Watson and Lestrade.”

“He’s the one who jinxed me!” Greg objected.

“You provoked me,” John said, grinning.

“How are you happy about losing points?” Greg protested indignantly.

“Just leave it,” Tina muttered before Magnussen could dock more points. The two boys followed Tina back to the table, bickering all the while.

--

“Could you maybe not become best friends with my arch enemy’s brother?” John requested on Monday after classes ended for the day. He, Tina, and Queenie were hanging out by the lake; Greg was off trying to seduce Molly Hooper and had promised to take John off of the girls’ hands as soon as he got back. Not that the Gryffindor Seeker was some high-maintenance toddler—he was, Tina always stated in his defense, one of the smartest and bravest guys she knew. He was just also a 17-year-old boy.

“I’m not best friends with him. We’re just talking. And I’m still gonna help him,” Tina established, putting down her quill to frown at her twin, who was lying prone on the grass tossing a Snitch around while Tina and Queenie wrote essays.

John groaned. “C’mon, Teen, he got you in trouble. You’re really gonna hang out with someone who screwed you over that much?”

“I got myself in trouble,” Tina corrected him. “It’s not like I couldn’t have said no. But I wanted to help.”

“Anyone else, I’d get it. But my arch enemy’s brother? Must you?”

“Sherlock isn't an arch enemy,” Queenie chided him. “You have to get over this thing with Sherlock.”

John pulled himself into a sitting position and stuffed the snitch back in his pocket. “Never,” he declared. “Not until he stops being a prat.”

“Newt’s sweet,” Queenie said, beaming at Tina. “Sherlock's strange, but I think if you'd give him a—”

“Fat chance,” John scoffed. He flopped back down onto the grass. “It's just that everytime he opens his mouth, I want to—”

“Hello,” Newt said, pausing as he walked by.

Tina jumped to her feet. “Hey! What are you doing?”

“I was just passing.” Newt gestured uncomfortably, then licked his lips and said after a beat, “Enjoying the weather?”

“Hello, Newton,” John intoned threateningly from the ground. Tina kicked him.

“Yeah,” she replied, walking a few paces away from her brother. Then she took a step closer to Newt and lowered her voice. “How are they doing?” she asked in an undertone.

“Good, although they're getting rather rambunctious. Sherlock is looking at reserves and I've sent an owl off to the Dragonology Society. I thought I'd check in on them in a bit. If you'd like to join.”

“Of course,” Tina said instantly. Newt’s fondness for the creatures was contagious, whether she liked it or not. Besides, most students didn't frequent greenhouse #7, which slightly lowered the risk in an incredibly high-risk situation. “I have to finish my Charms essay, but then I'll be free.”

Unlike most other seventh years, Tina was taking seven N.E.W.T.s, and they were certainly no joke. She had achieved O’s in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Transfiguration, and Arithmancy, and E’s in Potions, Alchemy, and History of Magic. But she’d always been over ambitious, and her lack of relationships outside of Queenie and John, coupled with her disinterest in social drama, helped her remain focused. Now that this whole dragon thing was happening, she was beginning to think she’d have to start re-structuring her time to ensure her grades didn’t suffer.

“John’s gonna be with Greg,” Tina reassured Newt. “In case you were worried about getting yelled at again.”

“Or I could tag along with you!” John called. “I still don't trust him.” Queenie shoved her hand over John's mouth.

Newt looked slightly alarmed, but to be fair he’d grown up with Sherlock, so his bar for 'rude' was fairly high. “How about half four?”

Tina nodded. “I'll see you then.” John made a big show of looking between the two keenly, earning him another kick from his sister.

To his credit, Newt smiled. “I look forward to it. We can meet in the library.”

Tina nodded, feeling extremely self-conscious all of a sudden. While she had never had any social anxiety, primarily because she didn’t socialize, her interactions with Newt in the past 24 hours were probably the most intensely social she’d been in quite some time. It hadn’t occurred to her until now to worry what he might think of her.

It was risky and possibly stupid to still spend time with Newt after what happened. While Picquery may not have explicitly banned them from seeing one another, on principle Tina disengaged from any situation that got her in trouble. As it was, she was serving evening detentions with Charms professor Percival Graves. He wasn't bad, and he respected Tina—poor Newt was stuck with Professor Grindelwald—but she'd already tarnished her squeaky clean reputation. It could not happen a second time.

At the same time... it was Newt. Something about him was inexplicably appealing to Tina. He wasn't throwing himself into a dangerous situation for personal glory or because he was an idiot. He cared about his dragons more than Tina had ever seen anyone care about anything, and he was humble and genuine. There were a lot of nice people at Hogwarts, but none of them had touched her like Newt did.

“Ooh, that was so cute,” Queenie started once Newt walked away.

Tina glowered at her friend. “Stop it, we have a serious situation here.”

“I think he likes you.”

“We don't even know each other, Queenie, and that isn't the point—”

“I,” John stated, pointing a finger at Tina, “will disown you, if you start dating a Scamander.”

“I'm not dating anyone!”

“Why are you acting weird with him, then?” John challenged his sister as she sat down again and picked up her parchment.

“I’m not acting weird,” Tina insisted.

“Yeah, you are, you so are.”

“I just... don’t know what I’m supposed to do. What does he want from me?”

“I think I know,” John commented, wrinkling up his nose. Queenie hit him disapprovingly.

Choosing to ignore her brother’s splendid display of immaturity, Tina sighed. “Oh well, I’ll just do my best to help him out, I guess. He said he’s put feelers out to dragonologists. You guys have any brilliant ideas?”

“Nope,” John said blithely. He spotted Greg approaching from across the way and waved at him. “I never have brilliant ideas. That’s how I ended up with a T in History of Magic.”

“You can be serious, you know. I know you have it in you,” Tina told her brother.

“Fine,” he said, straightening up. “I asked Dad on Saturday after you told us about the dragons.”

Tina gaped at him. Their father, a famous magizoologist now working for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, was estranged at best, his only contribution to their lives in the form of a decently-stocked Gringotts vault. Frankly, he’d been gone so long that Tina often forgot he existed. “Why?”

John shrugged. “I dunno, I just reckoned he was the best contact we had. Anyway, he said there are dragon reserves. The biggest one is the Romanian Dragon Sanctuary, but there would be a lot of explaining to do and he doesn’t know the people who work there. Since a bunch of stuff with dragon dealers happened back in the 90’s, apparently they’ve been keeping a low profile. But they might take Newt’s dragons, especially since there’s a lot at stake here. D’you know if Newt reached out to them?”

“Oh, I love it when he acts mature,” Queenie beamed, pecking John on the cheek.

“So condescending,” he grumbled. The Legilimens responded by patting him fondly on the head.

“Hey, you lot,” Greg announced his arrival. He stood akimbo and looked down at the three students. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” John replied, and got to his feet. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

After dinner, John and Greg sat cross-legged in the common room playing Exploding Snap. The two had been best friends since first year, when they got detention together for mouthing off to Professor Grindelwald. Cleaning enchanted slugs off the floor of the Transfiguration classroom was quite the bonding experience, and from then on they were inseparable.

Seventh year notoriously placed a strain on a lot of relationships; although at the end of the year, everyone inevitably became best mates out of sheer nostalgia and obligation, the pressure of graduation and N.E.W.T.s affected everyone differently. Studious students like Tina were at risk of getting lost in their studies, while the less academically-motivated ones like John were wont to become increasingly careless in maintaining friendships. Dating someone new in seventh year was a definite no-no: everyone was going their separate ways, and emotional attachment just didn't seem worth the effort and eventual heartache.

“How's Molly?” John inquired of his friend.

“Good, good,” Greg replied, barely hiding a grin.

John put down his hand of cards and eyed his friend suspiciously. “What happened?”

“Nothing, mate... nothing.”

Greg and Molly had been dancing around each other for years now. Molly pretended not to be interested, had even spent time openly fancying Sherlock and subsequently dating Tom Eldritch of Hufflepuff, but the entire school assumed she and Greg were endgame.

“Come off it,” John scoffed, reading his best friend’s expression. “Did you snog?”

Greg shook his head. “Nah. But we’re, uh... we’re going on a date. To Hogsmeade. Yeah.” Dating was difficult at Hogwarts given the fact that the only times students could really go on a date was weekends, and Hogsmeade was rather limited in its options and privacy. Therefore, most relationships developed over the summer, when there was more time and flexibility, and continued throughout the year.

“Finally!” John exclaimed, and reached over to clap his best friend on the back. “Cheers, mate.”

“Yeah,” Greg said, looking sheepish but chuffed, “thanks.”

The two of them continued half-heartedly playing Exploding Snap between rambling conversations, until a first year ran in to inform Greg that Molly was waiting for him outside the common room. He leapt to his feet so quickly the cards flew everywhere; sighing, John gathered them back into a deck and decided to track down his sister. The nice thing about having a twin was that there was always someone around whom John could bother when he was bored, and who was contractually obligated to still love him. Tina was just parting ways with Queenie when John ran into her in the hallway.

“Bye, Teen,” Queenie said, beaming, and kissed Tina on the cheek. She gave a little wave to John. “Off to see Sherlock?”

“What?!” John spluttered indignantly. “No, why would I—I wouldn’t—I didn’t—shut up!”

“Ooh, someone’s tetchy,” the Legilimens teased him, but walked off before he could summon a suitable retort.

“How was Greg? Are he and Molly finally official?” Tina asked, falling into step beside her brother.

“Yeah, they’re going on a date—”

“Tina!”

Tina spun around, Newt was running towards her, clutching a scroll.

“Great,” John muttered, rolling his eyes.

Newt skidded to a stop, panting. “Tina—hello, John—I've just gotten an owl from the Dragonology Society!”

“Really?” Tina cried.

“Brilliant,” her brother put in sarcastically. "Let's go, Tina." Tina shook John's hand off her arm.

“Yes, and they just opened up a sanctuary in America!” Newt’s eyes were shining. “Its headquarters are behind the Franklin Park Zoo, it's a bit like Platform 9 ¾, I suppose... they didn't go into detail, but look,” and he unrolled the letter.

“Tomorrow night?” John asked loudly as he read it over Tina’s shoulder.

Newt nodded. “The dragons are still small enough that the rescuers said we can try and sneak them into Hogsmeade and they'll take it from there.”

“We can't go into Hogsmeade when it's not open to students,” Tina said in alarm, handing the scroll back to Newt.

“We can wait til next weekend, they don’t grow that fast,” Newt insisted.

Tina stood her ground. “This sounds illegal.”

“It's their only chance,” Newt implored her to understand. “They’ll want to be a bit cautious with the Swedish Short-Snout, and the Ukrainian Ironbelly is the largest breed in the world, you know... but that's alright since they're only hatchlings now.”

“This could really only go terribly,” John declared.

“Newt, I don't think—” Tina started when they were once again interrupted.

“Newton!” This time it was Sherlock who came hurtling round the corner. He sighed when he saw who was accompanying his brother, but gestured nonetheless. “Come with me.”

Newt turned uncertainly to the Watsons.

Sherlock groaned. “Oh, for—they can come too, we haven't a moment to waste.”

Tina felt partially responsible for this and didn't want to leave Newt alone, and John both wanted to protect his sister and have the pleasure of witnessing any arse-whooping of Sherlock's that might occur, so the two of them hurried after Sherlock as well. Unsurprisingly, the four students found themselves in greenhouse #7.

“Is it the dragons?” Newt asked anxiously.

“You'll see,” Sherlock said. Grimly. Which was not good. He raised his wand and cast some sort of charm over the currently vacant greenhouse; nobody questioned him, seeing as he was an arrogant genius in his own right. No matter how complex or brilliant the enchantment, however, there was an automatic guarantee that Picquery could no doubt lift it in an instant, so time was of the essence.

“If I get eaten by a bloody dragon, I'm killing you all,” John warned through gritted teeth.

"Don't worry, I'll Transfigure your grades," Tina said sarcastically. "Mum will think you got all O's."

"Nah, make 'em E's," John said. "Better be believable."

"Good lord, is this how other twins behave?" Sherlock said behind them. Newt shushed his own twin as they all crouched beneath the table, and sure enough the trapdoor appeared as though cautiously peering out of the dirt ground. “Brace yourselves,” Sherlock murmured. The other three gripped their wands.

The ever dazzlingly clever Slytherin Seeker pulled open the door, but nothing happened.

“Wow, good job you,” John sniggered.

“Wait, Watson,” Sherlock snapped. “You can go first, then.”

“No,” John retorted. “I never wanted to be involved!”

“Yet here we are.”

The two of them had a sort of stare-off. Newt and Tina exchanged glances when it went on several seconds too long. Finally Newt said, “Well, I suppose I'll go,” and jumped in. Tina followed.

When they straightened up, both froze. The little cellar had somehow expanded to what appeared to be full capacity, if the straining walls were anything to go on. And filling it almost completely were four adolescent dragons.

Adolescent.

“Oh, bugger,” Newt said weakly.

“Newt, what happened?” Tina asked fearfully. As the two of them stood there, one dragon—the Short-Snout—turned and narrowed its eyes, which glinted threateningly between scaly lids. Instinctively, Tina jumped behind Newt, gripping his arm before apologizing hastily and letting go.

Sherlock and John came tumbling down the rope now and scrambled to their feet. Sherlock’s jaw was set, his mouth a somber line. John swore loudly and raised his wand in defense.

The Short-Snout hissed.

“No, no no no,” Newt was murmuring in horror. “No, John, don't—don't provoke them—”

The dragons weren't full size, but they certainly weren't hatchlings anymore. They were about Newt and Tina's height (so a few inches shorter than Sherlock, but towering over John), which was still large enough to do some serious damage. While they didn't seem perturbed yet, this was, to put it lightly, a major problem. Not to mention the fact that, unlike babies, adolescent dragons could fly and breathe fire, and the Short-Snout’s flames were lethal.

“Right,” Newt said, “right, we... Tina?” Inexplicably, he turned to the prospective Auror as though she might have better ideas than him.

“I...” Tina's throat felt dry. “We have to move them.”

“Move them? Are you bloody kidding me?” John shouted.

“John!” Newt said sharply. The Ironbelly was beginning to appear agitated too, spine stiffening visibly and claws digging into the ground.

“It's got to be a—a potion, or an Aging spell, right?” Tina asked desperately.

Sherlock shook his head gravely. “I tested it. This is dark magic. Possibly possessed.”

John gawked. “Possessed? Like... the Imperius Curse?”

“Along the lines.” Sherlock drew himself up and sniffed. “Newton, you are the only one here they will trust. You must do something.”

“I'm not going to hurt them!” Newt objected.

“You don't have to. But you do have to subdue them, so we can actually think... though I know that may be a stretch for some.” He jutted his chin pointedly in John’s direction. “They respect you.”

“I think... I think we’d better leave,” Newt assessed. “You guys should, at least. I’ve got to stay with them.”

“I’m not leaving you,” Tina said determinedly, at the same time as her twin brother said, “Well, okay then,” and moved to exit. This was proving to be a bit of an issue: John didn’t want to leave his sister and Sherlock didn’t want to leave his brother, but John and Sherlock also hated one another. (Well, John hated Sherlock. Sherlock only gave an eye for an eye.)

Newt gave Tina a small smile at her refusal to abandon him, but shook his head. “They trust me. I daren’t chance them lashing out at any of you.”

“Delphine,” Tina said softly, ignoring Newt, and the now-adolescent Ridgeback came creeping towards her tentatively. “What happened to you?”

“She grew up, that’s what,” John said.

“And circle gets the square, as always,” Sherlock said dryly. John scowled.

Delphine hesitated, then dipped down and pressed her snout against Tina’s forehead briefly. When Tina looked the dragon in the eye, it hit her: Delphine seemed lost and scared more than anything. Tina thought suddenly of a ridiculous Muggle film wherein a teenage girl and her mother swap bodies. Delphine’s eyes were young—it was just that the rest of her had aged in its capabilities and physical development.

“They didn’t grow,” Tina realized quietly.

“What?” John asked, hovering near her protectively in case Delphine might suddenly attack.

“It’s... they’re still just babies, look.”

Newt had coerced the gentle Opaleye into his arms, and he nodded at Tina. “Someone did this to them. They must know that hatchlings are more volatile—there’s a reason they don’t learn potentially harmful behaviors until they’re old enough. I’m inclined to agree with John: this is a recipe for disaster.”

“But look,” Tina repeated. Newt pushed past John to join her. “She’s so... sweet.”

Newt glanced over at her quickly, then licked his lips anxiously and rested his fingers along Delphine’s scaly shoulder. “I know,” he murmured. “You see it?”

“I didn’t think I’d ever be petting a dragon, but stranger things have happened,” Tina admitted. “Yeah, I get it.”

Newt’s face lit up, if briefly before receding back into the group's unanimous expression of concern. It was as though he’d never known anyone who could read creatures like he did, which could very well be the truth. Tina couldn’t help slightly hoping she was unique, in that regard. John and Sherlock, for once on the same team, exchanged confused looks.

“Well, I for one don’t get it,” John announced. “What are you talking about? They’re still babies? Do you see how big they are?”

“No, it’s...”

Footsteps came from above. The dragons, which had calmed and were sitting patiently on the dirt floor like obedient dogs, started whining.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Newt said with increasing urgency. “As soon as they’re gone.”

“If you wouldn’t mind, I would still like to collect a sample—” Sherlock began.

His brother crossed his arms and glared at him. “No.”

“Oh, please. We’re stuck here until the third-years trespassing get detention—it’ll be ten points from Slytherin each, and just lines if they're lucky—and the dragons are calm.”

“And they’re going to stay that way,” Tina added almost as fiercely as Newt. “Don’t touch them.”

Sherlock sighed. “It’s in the name of alchemy and potions.”

Tina and John shushed him simultaneously. Straining their ears, the foursome could just barely make out the sound as, sure enough, a prefect arrived and dragged the two interlopers off. “Let’s go,” Tina said the moment the coast was clear. They all clambered out of the cellar and ambled as casually as possible through the greenhouse and onto the school grounds.

“Okay, that was enough excitement for the foreseeable forever,” John said once they were inside the castle.

“Do they have names?” Tina asked presently.

Both John and Sherlock gaped at her, the former asking in bemusement, “Are you actually mental?”

“What? I just thought they should have names.”

“Well, you’ve named Delphine,” Newt said thoughtfully.

“You should name the Opaleye,” Tina decided.

“Estella,” Newt said immediately. “I’ll call her Estella.”

Tina approved. “What about the Ironbelly and the Short-Snout?”

“They’re both male. I was thinking...” Newt paused. “Sherlock and John, why don’t you name the other two?”

John crinkled up his nose. “I’m not playing baby name games with a bunch of illegal dragons we still have no idea how to get out of our hair.”

“Hephaestus, for the Short-Snout,” Sherlock spoke up unexpectedly. “It seems only appropriate.”

“I like it,” Tina said. It was honestly one of the first times she and Sherlock had ever directly interacted. (Though, the way this whole ill-advised adventure was going, all four of them were going to be interacting a great deal, a prospect which was significantly more appealing to some than others.)

Newt waited expectantly for John. “That leaves the Ironbelly. It’s the largest breed in the world, so I’d recommend something in line with that,” he said encouragingly.

John thought for a moment. Then, “Bob."

The three others goggled at him.

“It’s a good name,” he insisted.

“This isn’t a joke,” Tina said annoyedly.

“I’m not joking! You guys got all fancy with yours, I’m just going the other route. Bob.”

“This is absurd,” Sherlock scoffed. “Why we are sitting around wasting time christening dragons—”

“My sentiments exactly,” John cut in. “Okay, you lot, we have...” He checked his watch. “Two and a half hours 'til curfew. What’s your brilliant plan?”

“You do realize you continually act as though you are playing no part in this,” Sherlock said to John. “When in reality you have accompanied us and repeatedly entangled yourself in the very situation you claim not to be involved with.”

“I’m not playing a part," John argued. "I’m an innocent bystander who’s gotten dragged into it because my idiot sister thinks she’s some badass.” Newt shot John a reproachful look at the slight to Tina, which John returned with a ‘what the hell is your problem’ face.

“Either way, stop acting as though you’re the gormless idiot you present to the world and actually utilize your brain. You might find it does wonders,” Sherlock concluded.

John's jaw dropped in outrage, not for the first time this week. “Gormless—I swear—”

“Good evening,” Headmistress Picquery interrupted smoothly, gliding in between the two Seekers. “Bickering again, are we?”

“No ma’am,” John answered meekly. He was probably the only one of the four who was still slightly terrified of Professor Picquery.

Picquery raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “I never thought I might see the Scamander and Watson clans coming together after all these years, but after your last rendezvous, I can hardly be surprised.”

Newt and Tina squirmed. John tried to figure out what to do with his limbs and face and hands and everything so as to not arouse suspicion, while Sherlock remained apathetic as ever. Picquery gazed imperiously at all four, pressing her fingertips together lightly, then gave a little (could it be?) amused sigh.

“The job certainly doesn’t get old,” she said lightly. “Well, seeing as you're up to no mischief at present, I'll let you go on your way, but please do consider a more active effort to stay out of trouble. Much as I enjoy your company, I enjoy it significantly less when under the circumstances of our last conversation.” She turned around, robe swinging gracefully around her.

“That makes two of us,” John muttered.

Picquery stopped and turned around. “What was that, Watson?”

Tina stomped on her brother’s foot. “Nothing,” he replied quickly. “Thank you, Professor.”

--

Their troubles didn’t end there. Deciding that it wasn’t worth attempting to sneak out again, despite the dragons underground being a ticking time bomb, the four... partners in crime (John maintained firmly that he would never be friends with a Scamander) called it a night.

Supposedly.

When John noticed that Tina had disappeared into thin air somewhere between arriving at the portrait hole and seeing an ecstatic Greg, it was with considerable resentment that he went searching for her. And, as luck would have it, ran into Sherlock. Again.

“I think Newt’s gone back to the greenhouse,” Sherlock said urgently. Before John could say a word, the Slytherin swiftly invaded his personal space, pressing his hand against the small of John’s back, and hurried him down the corridor at an inhumanly fast pace. “He never did like to listen, Newton, but if I am preaching there being a time and place for misbehavior, then you know...” His voice trailed off as they arrived.

“You really think they’d be that stupid?” John asked.

Sherlock bit back what was surely about to be a snide comment with regards to whether or not John should really be assessing other people’s stupidity. “I should hope this is as stupid as they get,” he replied. The two young men met eyes, then hastily clambered beneath the table and tugged open the door.

There was no sign of Newt or Tina. There were, however, four unpredictable and hungry adolescent dragons prowling around the cellar, which as aforementioned was void of the only two people they seemed to behave for.

This was maybe not a good idea.

“Okay,” John said bracingly. “Yeah, let’s g—”

But it would seem that the Short-Snout had a very short temper to go with his name and could only handle so much unsolicited ogling, and in a split second Hephaestus pounced forward, flapping his mighty wings, to land directly in front of his target. Sherlock.

Oh no. No no no. This was not good.

“Sherlock!” John cried. Bob (stupid Bob) moved in between the two 17-year-olds, clearly Team Dragon, and John tried to shove past the giant hunk of reptile with exceedingly poor results.

As Sherlock backed up, he tripped and toppled onto the ground, wand rolling out of his hands. Hephaestus flared his nostrils.

There was no logical explanation for what happened next. Instinctively, John ducked behind Bob and leapt in front of Sherlock, raising his wand and bellowing, “Conjunctivio!”

With his eyes swelled shut, Hephaestus wheeled around in his disorientation and mis-aimed. The flames shot out of the dragon’s giant maw, singeing John's arm hair where he had raised his forearms to shield his face, but avoided direct damage to either victim. Yowling like a toddler whose attempt to do something naughty had been thwarted, Hephaestus plopped down on his haunches, making the entire cellar shake.

Well then. That just happened.

John reached out a hand automatically to help Sherlock up, then remembered Sherlock wasn't a girl on a date and such gallantry was totally uncalled for, especially with his arch nemesis. The Slytherin didn’t seem fazed by the withdrawal and stood on his own, straightening his robes.

John wasn’t sure what to say. It wasn’t like he’d just saved Sherlock’s life, per se, but he’d also probably prevented grievous bodily harm of some sort. As John was struggling to figure out what the hell was happening, Sherlock tilted his head almost quizzically and took a step closer to him. There was something uncomfortably charged, though it was likely the magic that Sherlock had mentioned. Or perhaps the Slytherin himself had spontaneously invented some sort of magical, magnetic field.

The door swung open and Newt and Tina landed behind them. “No!” Newt cried, jumping up and sliding to his knees next to Hephaestus. The dragon appeared instantly guilty, even with his eyes swelled shut. “John!” the Hufflepuff admonished, clearly appalled.

“Right. Brilliant. That's cool,” John said. "Sorry I hurt your baby. Not like I was saving your brother's arse, or anything."

“Oh no, are you okay?” Tina said in dismay, inspecting her brother’s injury.

“Fine, yeah,” John said. He winced slightly; there were small probably third-degree burns, but he was a 17-year-old man, for heaven's sake.

“We’ll need Oculus Potion. It’s the only way,” Newt fretted, patting Hephaestus on the back. “You shouldn’t have done that, Mummy isn’t very happy, but we’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.” He turned to his brother. “You must have some on hand.”

Sherlock blanched. “I don’t know if I can—”

“Newt,” Tina said in a strange voice. She had swung open one of the cupboards and discovered a vial of Oculus Potion, along with enough meat to hold the dragons over until something could be done. Knowing this bizarre cellar, the food supply was likely self-replenishing as well. Newt took the potion gratefully and administered it to Hephaestus, speaking to him like a mother trying really hard to sell disgusting anti-influenza potion to a fussy child.

“There you go. No, don't spit it out—if you want to feel better, you'll drink this right now. I saw that. Stop it, Haephestus. You have to actually drink it. Now, that is below you. Don't you give me that attitude, you've only just hatched. So please—ah, there you go. That wasn't so hard, was it? You apologize now,” Newt finished sternly.

Hephaestus pretended not to understand.

“Do it.” Newt stood up; the dragon’s eyes followed him. “Up you get, come on.”

Reluctantly, Hephaestus stood, shaking out his wings, and then stilled as though asking, "Now what?"

“Apologize to Sherlock.”

“My god, Newton, you’ve gone insane!” Sherlock said in genuine distress.

Newt shushed him. “They’ll never learn manners—”

“They’re bloody dragons!” John exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air. This thing kept getting more and more ridiculous. “Why are we having etiquette lessons with illegal freakishly-aging dragons? Why are we with illegal freakishly-aging dragons to begin with?”

“John!” Tina said sharply. Then, “Here, let me see,” and despite his grumbling about how manly he truly was, John allowed her to heal most of his injuries, while Hephaestus begrudgingly lowered his head and nudged Sherlock’s shoulder gently with it.

“Say you’re sorry,” Newt demanded.

The dragon assumed as contrite an expression as any dragon could.

“Sherlock is our friend,” Newt said firmly. “No burning him to ash. I quite like having a brother.”

“That is possibly the most sentimental declaration either of us have made in our entire lives,” Sherlock said in shock. "What is the world coming to?”

“I don’t know, but I want to go back to the common room and hear about Greg and Molly and get some sodding sleep,” John snapped.

“Yeah, I think we could all do with that,” Tina admitted, yawning. “Newt?”

He tore himself away from Estella, who had flocked to him, then nodded at Tina. She tossed several of the hunks of meat onto the floor for the dragons (sure enough, more appeared in their place in the cupboard), and ran a hand through her hair, clearly frazzled.

“Ready?” she asked Newt rather than John. John felt just slightly wounded.

Newt motioned to the rope. “After you.”

“John,” Sherlock stopped him right before he could follow his sister out of this hell.

“What?” John snapped.

“I... thank you.”

John felt extremely awkward all of a sudden. “It’s fine,” he replied gruffly.

“No, it is glaringly evident that you hold only disdain to the utmost degree for me, and I appreciate—”

“Stop,” John said in alarm, shaking his head, “please don’t.”

Sherlock frowned. “I’m expressing my appreciation. Usually people enjoy that.”

“Well, I don’t,” John said. “Just let it go.”

Sherlock opened and closed his mouth, then took a quick breath and seemed to steady himself. “Alright,” was all he said. He was last out of the cellar and shut the door firmly, as though shutting the door on the dragons might actually end this nightmare.

It didn’t.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Herbology Professor Rosemary Esposito asked to meet with Tina right after breakfast, before classes commenced for the day. Tina, panicked, instructed John in an undertone to update Newt on this development, then followed the professor to her office, pretending not to be internally dying of stress.

“I am sure you know why you’re here,” Professor Esposito began.

Play dumb. Play dumb. “Uh... no, actually,” Tina replied as flippantly as she dared.

“It has come to my attention that you have been spending an exorbitant amount of time in greenhouse #7.”

Tina struggled to swallow and made some sort of vague strangled noise of affirmation. If Esposito noticed, she didn’t comment.

“I was simply wondering if you’d be interested in considering a career change. You need not feel like the Auror route is the be-all, end-all. Herbology is a wonderful field, and I would be more than happy to accept you into my N.E.W.T. class, given your stellar academic record and reputation.”

Not what she expected, but back in the safe zone. “Oh,” Tina stammered, “that’s... that’s really nice, Professor, thank you. I’m... I’ve just been doing some research. Just a bit of reading up. For my Auror training,” she improvised wildly, “and that’s the only reason I’ve been there.”

“I also understand that you have been frequenting greenhouse #7 with Newt Scamander?”

“Um... yeah.”

“He is a nice young man,” Professor Esposito said approvingly. “Deceivingly soft spoken. I trust he has been a worthy research partner?”

Was the professor seriously buying this whole ‘research’ story? Tina nodded emphatically. “Definitely.”

“Well, if you do a write-up on your findings, I would love to read it,” Professor Esposito concluded kindly. Tina started feeling rather guilty about all this misrepresentation. It wasn’t like her to lie, but it also wasn’t like her to break a million school rules. None of what had transpired in the past 48 hours was like her at all. “I won’t keep you any longer. Just know that my office is always open.”

“Thank you,” Tina said gratefully, jumping to her feet. Professor Esposito gave a fond little head shake and bent over the essays she was grading. When Tina stepped out of the office, Newt was waiting expectantly.

“Are you okay?” he asked urgently the second she appeared.

“Yeah, actually, she just wanted to know if I wanted to change my career.” Tina grinned. “I said we were doing research.”

Newt smiled. “Nice.”

“Yeah. Have you...?”

Newt nodded. “I snuck down there before breakfast. They don’t seem to have grown any more.” He hesitated. “I... I’m not sure what to tell the Dragonologists. I think they’re still counting on the hatchlings. What about your dad?”

Tina faltered. Could he be trusted? Merlin, it was easy to feel old and mature as a seventh year at Hogwarts, but in the grand scheme of things they were really just helpless kids not at all equipped to deal with these sorts of situations. Then again, nobody could have predicted something like this arising in the first place.

“Teen, there you are!” Queenie cried, descending upon Tina and giving her a massive hug. “I was so worried, John told me you were in trouble?”

“No, I... oh, no. I completely forgot to—” Tina checked her watch. “Queenie, we’ve got to get to Charms, and I’m going to ask you this once to read my mind. I can’t explain it out loud.”

“Okay,” Queenie said, brow wrinkling in concern. “Bye, Newt.”

“Bye,” he said rather forlornly

Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs took N.E.W.T. level Charms class together, meaning that Tina, Queenie, John, and Greg were in the same class. (John and Greg were forcefully separated at least twice a week.) The only class Newt had in common with Tina, John, or Sherlock was Transfiguration with Professor Picquery, though he and Queenie were both in Transfiguration, Astronomy, and Divination.

Once they were seated, Queenie had caught up to speed and was looking as concerned as Tina had ever seen her. “What are you going to do?” Queenie asked in an undertone as they took out their textbooks. John and Greg entered after them and sat down across the room, waving at the girls.

“I really don’t know,” Tina admitted.

“You have to tell the Dragonologists! They’re expecting hatchlings. And there’s no way we can get them to Hogsmeade, even if there were shortcuts or passageways. We can’t even get them into the castle. We can’t move them at all like this.”

Tina was rather touched that her best friend immediately jumped on the bandwagon, using ‘we’ instead of pinning it all on Newt. “I know, I know, I’m—”

“Page four hundred and thirty seven,” Professor Graves said loudly, walking over to the two young women.

“Sorry,” Tina said hastily, and flipped to the correct page. John sniggered, but Greg had turned his textbook neon pink and it kept making inappropriate noises, so really he was one to talk.

The rest of the day flew by; Tina was too busy studying at lunch to talk to anyone, and she had back-to-back exams. She and John arrived at dinner fifteen minutes apart, as did Newt and Sherlock, and Queenie was ‘helping Jacob with something’, so it wasn’t until after dinner that the two sets of twins ended up clustered together, conspiring outside the Gryffindor common room.

“I have practice in an hour,” John said. “And the Slytherins are not interrupting this time.”

Sherlock returned the glare. “For the last time, Watson, I have no control over what Jim decides to do as Captain.”

“For the last time, Scamander, I don’t care!”

“Uh, guys,” Tina said when the two Seekers didn’t budge. “We have a situation here. Can’t sports wait?”

Both Sherlock and John’s heads swiveled over to gape at her. “Teen... Teen,” John started disbelievingly. He shook his head as though trying to make sense of an impossible arithmancy question. “Tina. Tina Esther. Porpentina Watson.”

Tina crossed her arms and sighed. “Are we nearing the point?”

Her brother drew himself up and declared loftily, “Sports can never wait.”

“Quidditch is not a mere sport,” Sherlock added in agreement. John nodded emphatically. Tina looked at Newt to see if he was getting any of this; he wasn’t. Ironic considering the way John and Sherlock had briefly bonded over completely not catching onto the whole dragons-being-babies-in-adolescent-bodies thing. “Quidditch is—”

“Are you gonna come in or am I just gonna sit around here twiddling my thumbs when I could be having tea with the Duchess of Bennyhoff?” The Fat Lady interrupted loudly, crossing her arms.

“Whatever,” John muttered. “Anyway, we’ll see you later.” He grabbed his sister by the arm.

“Wait, no, I gotta talk to Newt,” Tina said. “You go get ready for practice.”

“I have alchemy homework to do,” Sherlock announced primly when they turned to look at him. “Goodbye, Watson.”

“Okay, so it’s you and me, I guess,” said Tina said to the lone Hufflepuff.

“I guess,” Newt echoed.

They ended up deciding that, seeing as their brothers weren’t being overly helpful, they ought to pen a letter to the Dragonology Society trying to explain away the situation. While neither particularly wanted to hand off weird mutating volatile cursed dragons to unsuspecting innocent parties, they also risked expulsion at this point, considering the magnanimity—literal and figurative—of the situation at hand. Tina’s career depended on a squeaky clean record at Hogwarts; she couldn’t risk jeopardizing it any more than she already had been. They cycled through a few drafts before settling on the final one:

To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for your prompt response. Though I originally said we would be transporting four hatchlings, I misspoke for fear that you would not be receptive. As a matter of fact, I have encountered four adolescents. They are currently being held in stable condition in a vacant cellar on the Hogwarts grounds. We are wondering if you have advice regarding the issue of transport. We hope you can understand our caution and desire for discretion around this matter.

Regards,

N.S. and T.G.

“Are you certain about signing it with your initials?” Newt asked Tina anxiously as they read it over together. “You needn’t be involved—”

“Yeah, well I, unlike my brother, take full responsibility for my actions. I chose to get involved,” Tina pointed out.

“Thank you,” Newt said in relief. He tied it to the owl’s leg and sent it on its way. The two of them perched on a bench inside the owlery for a moment, lost in thought and palpably stressed. Newt tucked one knee up and rested his chin atop it; Tina swung her legs back and forth absentmindedly.

Chances of getting anything by Picquery were slim to none, no matter how brilliant the magic. They could only hope that the dragonologists, in whom they were putting utterly blind faith at this point, might have a fully-formed plan that would end this once and for all.

“Well, it’s getting late,” Newt spoke up.

Tina hopped to her feet. “Yeah, let’s go.”

“Tell me honestly,” Newt began soberly as they headed down the hall, “you really can’t do anything?”

Tina faltered.

“Like it or not, smart as I may be, you and Sherlock are our real brains,” Newt said pragmatically. “If the two of you work together.”

Tina chewed on her lip, torn. “I don’t know if he’d work with me anyway.”

Newt gave a small smile. “Oh, he will, because much as he hates to admit it... he does care about me. Even if it’s primarily in self-preservation.”

“Speaking of self-preservation,” Tina said grimly as John headed towards her with an expression that spoke volumes.

“What?” Newt asked, confused. Tina halted him as John seemed to drag his feet the rest of the distance.

“What did you tell her?” Tina asked menacingly.

“Just... er... the whole situation, more or less.” John uttered a nervous laugh. His sister did somewhat tower over him, after all, not to mention the fact that Tina had perfectly mastered the steely, intimidating, intent gaze of an Auror.

“Are you kidding me?” Tina gaped. “What were you thinking?”

“I thought she’d have suggestions!” John defended himself.

“That is utter rubbish and you know it!” Newt’s eyes flickered nervously between the twins. “What if there’s something else going on?” Tina demanded. “Sherlock said it was dark magic. What if Mum gets caught up with dark wizards because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut and you just wanted to tattle on your sister?”

John paled. “I did not consider that possibility.”

Tina groaned and pressed a palm to her forehead, taking several deep breaths. “Whatever. I don’t... we’d better check on the dragons before curfew.”

Newt looked at John, who did appear genuinely contrite. “Would you like to come?” the Hufflepuff inquired kindly.

“No, he’s being a prat,” Tina said loftily, and brushed past her brother.

“I think he was only trying to help,” Newt suggested cautiously. Conflict resolution was not his forte.

“Oh, by making sure that if dark wizards come knocking, our poor mum will have information for them to torture out of her?” Tina snapped.

“I told you, I didn’t think!” John protested.

“You never do!” Tina yelled. “Ever! Who’s the one who—”

John’s eyes were flashing too now, and he crossed his arms and spread his feet as though bracing himself for battle. For a split second, he and Tina bore such a striking resemblance that it was uncanny. “Like you do!” John shouted back. “You’re the only reason we’re in this mess to begin with!”

“I don’t think,” Newt started tentatively, but unsurprisingly the heated Watson twins ignored him.

“It’s because you think you’re so great,” John continued, “oh look at you, you’re the brave Auror—”

“You know what? There’s a reason you’re only taking four N.E.WT.s, John Hamish Watson,” Tina hissed fiercely. Somehow her hissing was even more terrifying than her screaming. “Because all you ever do is play your stupid Quidditch and faff around with Greg, and really, the best you could do on your exams was a bunch of A’s and a P—”

John spluttered. “Maybe I don’t want to follow in your footsteps! Ever consider that? I don’t like school, and it’s not because I’m stupid!”

“I didn’t say you were stupid!”

“Yeah,” John scoffed, “you really basically did, is the thing.”

Tina hesitated. “I just said you’re unmotivated. I don’t think you’re stupid.”

John raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you? God, you know what, maybe Newt and I have more in common than I thought, because both you and Sherlock have the biggest effing superiority complexes, looking down your noses at everyone else who isn’t following the exact same path as you. I don’t want to take seven N.E.W.T.s! I don’t know what I want to do! That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to offer!"

Newt’s jaw dropped slightly. The row was starting to stir up attention as well, and Tina seemed to remember abruptly that she was Head Girl and this could not go on much longer. “Whatever,” she repeated, giving a sniff that didn’t really help make her seem any less arrogant than John was making her out to be. “Let’s go, Newt.”

Newt felt very badly about this entire situation and had no idea what to do. He couldn’t help but sympathize with John, because it was true that Newt had always been the twin in the shadow of a brilliant counterpart. Tina’s words were unnecessarily harsh; however, he had a sneaking suspicion they were more out of her own stress than actually trying to insult her brother. She respected and cared about John, even if neither of them could tell at this moment. “Perhaps we ought to call it a night,” Newt suggested.

“Yes, perhaps we ought to.” John gave Tina a slightly shabby version of her haughtiest look. “Thank you, Newt.”

“Whatever,” Tina said for the third time that evening. She ran a hand through her hair wearily and turned around. “I’m going to bed, then. You have fun making bad decisions with Greg and wasting your potential.”

“That was uncalled for!” John said in outrage.

“You could perhaps be a bit gentler,” Newt said, and why oh why was he trying to get involved?

“Fine, whatever, I really could care less at this point,” Tina said in frustration, “and you lot shouldn't be loitering in the hallway.” A gaggle of first years appeared terrified by the Head Girl’s admonishment and disbanded, scattering in the direction of their respective common rooms. Before anyone could say anything, Tina marched off.

--

John was fuming, but also extremely concerned and stressed out. He didn’t do stressed out very well. There was still half an hour before practice, so John decided to take a bit of a breather and attempt to clear his head.

“I’d say you were rather harsher than was called for, but then again you tend to compensate for your argument’s lack of viability in volume.” Sherlock sidled up next to John in the empty courtyard and took a seat.

John didn’t even have it in him to argue. Besides, he was starting to think Sherlock wasn’t all that bad. Even though he hated to admit it. “What the bloody hell are we supposed to do about this?” John asked the Slytherin.

Sherlock pursed his lips, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. “I don’t know,” he said grimly. “John, there...” He hesitated before turning earnestly to the Gryffindor. “I don’t want to upset the others, but there is something going on. I have yet to suss it out. There is dark magic and nefarious motivation, no doubt. Why else would anybody do this?”

“D’you reckon it’s a spell, or something?” John asked.

“I...” Sherlock frowned. “I don’t know yet.”

“Well, you’d better hurry up, because the clock is ticking.” John paused. “Do you think Newt fancies Tina?”

Newt was alright, but playing the obligatory overprotective brother role, John personally didn’t think Tina ought to date anyone ever. He was astute enough to know that she wouldn’t take a heartbreak well—that she avoided relationships because of it—and so far John had few reasons to trust Newt. In fact, he had every reason not to trust Newt, because that idiot was the reason Tina was running around getting into danger with potentially lethal consequences, literally and with regards to her future career. Which, despite their row, John still supported and admittedly admired.

“I mean,” John said when Sherlock took too long to reply, “you’re his brother, so I thought, I dunno, you’d... deduced something.”

Sherlock was staring into space with a pensive and slightly pained expression on his face. “I couldn’t say. Feelings aren’t really my area.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

Sherlock cast John a sidelong glance. “Sarah is very pretty. Objectively speaking. And she likes you.”

“What? Who, Sarah Sawyer?”

“I overheard a nauseating conversation between her and her gaggle of friends. I would rather chop off my right arm than match-make, but I felt I should tell you. I haven’t the faintest why.” Sherlock shook his head, looking genuinely confused. “Anyway. It is imperative at this point that we distance ourselves from these cursed dragons as soon as possible. I’m concerned my brother may have the delusional idea to continue ‘protecting’ them, and I know that while you may dislike me, you wish the same safety for your sister.”

“I don’t dislike you,” John blurted out. What the hell? It was true, though. Seeing Sherlock’s slightly more caring side was beginning to affect John’s previously scathing opinion of the Slytherin. He still thought Sherlock was tremendously arrogant, of course, and didn’t like him, but this ridiculous dragon business seemed to have stirred up a lot of changes.

“Oh,” Sherlock said in surprise. Then he got to his feet. “I suppose I ought to find Newt.”

“Okay,” John agreed, and jumped up as well.

“What?”

“Let’s go find Newt, then. He tried to defend me. I think. He’s not the most assertive person ever.”

Sherlock appeared bemused. “You’re coming with me?”

“If you don’t want me to...”

“No, I was taken aback. Never mind.”

John fell into step next to Sherlock. “D’you reckon he’s back at the greenhouse?”

Sherlock paled. “I should hope not.”

“Oi!” John called at a second year who was lingering by the exit nearest the greenhouses. “Have you seen Newt Scamander leave the castle? Tall skinny bloke, curly red hair, bit daft-looking.”

“Auburn,” Sherlock corrected him, very unnecessarily. “He isn’t daft-looking,” he added under his breath.

“I think he went that way,” the second year replied.

“Cheers,” John said, and headed towards the greenhouses. “Oh no, this could be really bad,” he realized belatedly, and sped up. Sherlock was gripping his wand as if preparing himself for battle.

Professor Esposito was cleaning up in greenhouse #7 when they sprinted in, then skidded to a stop.  “Hello, gentlemen!” she said pleasantly. “Can I help you?”

“No,” John answered hurriedly. “Erm... just looking around a bit. Sherlock needs something for a potion, doesn’t he.” He nudged Sherlock.

“Ah. Yes.” Sherlock swept forward, leading the professor to the far end of the greenhouse, away from the table hiding the cellar. “If you wouldn’t mind, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on a plant that would best counteract the effects of...” Their voices trailed off. John hadn’t particularly expected to be abandoned, but he was perfectly capable himself.  Taking a deep breath, he clambered underneath the table, thankfully hidden by a row of large potted plants, and heaved a sigh of relief when the trapdoor appeared for him. John took one last glance around before swinging it open and sliding inside.

Oh shit.

Lying prone on the ground, barely conscious, was Newt, sporting severe burns on his arms and what looked like a nasty puncture wound to his abdomen. The dragons were nowhere to be found.

Nope. This was so not what John had signed up for.

Heart racing, he slid to his knees beside the teenager and checked immediately for a pulse. There was one, a bit fainter than John was happy with, but it was there nonetheless.

John knew some Healing spells, just basic ones from classes. He’d snuck a peek before into Tina’s more complex textbooks, the ones she was using for Auror training, and could panickedly recall a handful of other incantations. He really wasn’t certain any of them would be any use, and Healing was a more natural gift like Legilimency. It was difficult to learn Healing if the potential wasn’t there to begin with.

“Newt,” John said urgently, shaking Newt. The Hufflepuff moaned in pain, hand going to his abdomen, and his eyelids flickered only slightly. “Right, okay,” John said, swearing fluently under his breath. Step one was to staunch the bleeding. Except he didn’t know any spells except Tergeo, which would siphon the blood off but wouldn’t do anything to stop it.

Suddenly, without warning, something warm and strange-feeling washed over John. It seemed to run through his veins, making his hands momentarily tingly, and then was gone. And John knew what to do.

He couldn’t repeat or voice the spells if he tried, but he felt immediately compelled to wave his wand in a certain formation, and yes, the wound was starting to close up before his eyes. John’s hands hovered above Newt’s abdomen, and he shut his eyes instinctively as he could have sworn he felt the injury, could feel almost inside, every individual vein and muscle, and knew exactly what he needed to do to fix it.

It was a strange, heady feeling to have that much control. When he opened his eyes, the gash was gone. It occurred to him that they were far from out of the woods yet, because even if the outside was fixed, there could still be internal damage. The area around the wound was still tender and rather gory, but it looked significantly better than before. John managed to rip a strip of cloth from his cloak and used it to bind the area.

“John?” Newt mumbled, eyes opening.

“Yeah, hi,” John said awkwardly. “Listen, I’m kind of on a roll here with the Healing thing, so just... try to relax.”

“...not very helpful,” Newt said before squeezing his eyes shut and inhaling sharply in pain. John winced in sympathy.

“Sorry, sorry,” he said quickly, tying the fabric in a knot and then switching to Newt’s burns. “Don’t move,” he added when the Hufflepuff made to sit up. “Just stay where you are, I’ve still got to check you out and I don’t know what other injuries you might’ve sustained.” What other injuries you might’ve sustained. Since when was he talking like a dictionary?

Newt complied (which was nice because had their roles been reversed John would probably have punched Newt in the face and told him to bugger off) and John turned his attention to the burns. He could feel the heat emanating off the wounds; the skin bubbling looked positively excruciating. John knew spells to help burns, but those were from things like cauldron fires. This, he made an educated guess, was from dragon’s fire. That was a different game entirely.

John shut his eyes again and took a deep breath, allowing instinct to take over. Where was Sherlock? It didn’t matter now. The same tingly feeling spreading through his hands—so they felt as though they were nearly vibrating with energy—John applied a cooling spell first and then set to work doing a lot of things he’d never done before. The skin wasn’t healing as fast as John had hoped, and he had to bite down frustration. How Newt wasn’t howling in pain was anyone’s guess, though John recalled Sherlock saying once that Newt had dangerously high pain tolerance. Upon second glance, John noticed that Newt’s jaw was clenched tightly, muscles rigid, and was no doubt feeling it but managing not to cry out.

This was really not fun.

John couldn’t fix the burns. He knew burns required a unique brand of magic and that these ones would likely be resistant given their cause, but it made him absolutely furious that he could have healed the puncture wounds and not these horrible burns. He ameliorated the pain slightly, at least, and they seemed to look somewhat less angry. John tore another strip of cloth and used his wand to wet it thoroughly with cold water before wrapping Newt’s arms in it for the time being.

“How do you feel?” John asked his patient.

“Rubbish,” Newt said weakly. “Can I sit up?”

“Hang on.” John moved back to Newt’s abdomen and ran his fingers delicately over the entire area. No alarm bells seemed to go off—nothing felt off, there were no changes in sensation or temperature—so John nodded.

Grimacing, Newt sat up and immediately clutched his head.

Oh right, that. Head injuries. The most complex of injuries to Heal. Great. “You good?” John asked. Which was a stupid question, really, given the situation.

“It’s alright, it was just a bit of a bump,” Newt insisted.

At this point John knew curfew was fast approaching (he had long missed Quidditch practice) and had no idea what had happened to Newt’s brother. Frankly, he didn’t care. What he did care about was getting Newt somewhere discreetly, and finding Tina, who was his last hope and probably the only one other than Picquery capable of dealing with this. They could address the dragon’s disappearance and actual cause of Newt’s injuries later.

“I can get up the rope,” Newt stated unconvincingly. He looked very pale. Glancing down at the ground, John realized that a significant amount of blood had been lost.

“Uh, obviously you can’t,” John said. “Your arms are kind of a mess.”

“What am I supposed to do, then?”

“I’ll pull you up.”

Newt looked severely unimpressed. “I don’t think you can.”

John scampered up the rope, kneeling beneath the table. Thankfully, the greenhouse seemed to have cleared. Then he lay on his stomach and leaned down into the hole as far as he dared. “Grab on,” he directed Newt.

The bottom of the rope had a large knot, ostensibly to break the fall (it had thus far been very ineffective, John thought, considering the number of bruises he now had from falling into the cellar), which Newt was able to perch himself on, gingerly gripping the rope in front of him with his elbows and thereby avoiding the worst burns on his forearms.

“I’m gonna pull you up.” John warned. “Ready?”

Newt still appeared skeptical. They didn’t have a moment to lose, however, so John mustered up all his strength (that whole Healing thing had exhausted him a lot more than he thought it would), grabbed onto the rope, and yanked it upwards. Somehow he managed to pull hard enough for Newt to clamber out onto the ground, panting, and kick the door shut with his foot.

"Now what?" Newt asked.

"I don't know," John replied. "I seriously don't know."

Chapter Text

“Okay, okay,” John said as Newt lay there trying to catch his breath, “um, here.” He draped his cloak over Newt’s shoulders to hide the makeshift bandages. “We need to find Teen. And I don’t know where Sherlock went.”

Newt managed to crawl out from under the table and follow John back into the castle. Thankfully, the halls were sparse and Professor Picquery was nowhere to be seen as they made a beeline for the Gryffindor common room.

“Is Tina in there?” John asked The Fat Lady.

“What’s it to you?” she returned coyly.

“Oh, sod off—poppycock,” John said.

“That’s the one,” The Fat Lady confirmed, swinging open for him.

Tina was frowning at an essay when John barged in, seized her by the arm, and pulled her out into the hallway.

“Hey!” she said indignantly. Then she saw Newt, who was looking understandably worse for wear. “What’s wrong?”

“Hello,” Newt said in a poor attempt to be cheerful.

“Come on,” John said in an undertone, “we’ll have to find somewhere private.” This would be so much easier if they were all in the same house.

The three of them found an empty classroom and slipped inside. Newt nearly collapsed on a chair, and John’s legs were feeling a bit wobbly as well. “What happened?” Tina demanded anxiously, sitting down next to Newt.

“I’m gonna find Sherlock,” John announced. “Newt can explain.”

John seriously hated his life as he speed-walked down the hallway. This wasn’t how he was meant to spent his seventh year, at all. No, it was supposed to be him and Greg and pranks and girls and throwing caution to the wind but in a fun sort of way rather than an illegal beast one. Deep down, though, John had to admit that it wasn’t Tina’s fault; it seemed that he couldn’t quite keep away from the danger and drama if he tried. He could bloody well keep on blaming her, though.

John found Sherlock hovering by the Slytherin dungeon, apparently waiting. Where had the Seeker been anyway? It was his own brother who was wounded, for Merlin’s sake.

“Where the hell were you?” John hissed.

“It wasn’t there,” Sherlock said. He looked pale (for someone as pale as he already was) and distraught, which gave John pause. “Professor Esposito left, but I checked under the table and the trapdoor wasn’t there.”

John ran a hand over his face, pained. “Okay,” he said. “Okay, cool. This is fine. Let’s...”

“Where’s Newt?”

“Uh... about that.”

Sherlock’s eyes widened in fear as he scrutinized John; it clearly didn’t take him long to put two and two together. “John?” he said nervously.

“Come on.” John motioned wearily, and Sherlock followed until they reached the empty classroom. It was pitch black outside now, and they had ten minutes until curfew. At this point, John had resigned himself to breaking a whole lot of rules anyway, and they had significantly more pressing matters on their hands. Newt was still clammy and white as a sheet when they arrived.

“Newton, galloping gargoyles,” Sherlock said in horror. “What on earth have you done?”

“Please don’t tell Mum,” Newt requested, and sucked in a breath as another wave of pain evidently washed over him. Tina was hovering by his side, clearly concerned (John personally thought it was rather inappropriate, her level of concern, given that she really didn’t know Newt at all), and reached out to clumsily put a hand on Newt’s shoulder when he winced.

“They were dragon burns, I don't know how to treat them,” John said, even though Newt had probably explained the entire situation. “Tina?”

“If you only paid any attention in class—” Tina began in outrage, but Sherlock cut her off.

“Much as I relate to your superiority complex, might I remind you that even had the Hogwarts curriculum covered beast burns extensively—which, incidentally, it did not—going on yet another tirade about your brother's supposed lack of academic motivation, though it improves every time, is going to do very little to abate the situation.” Sherlock defending John was weird. This whole thing was weird. John didn't like it.

“Sorry,” Tina muttered. Then, “I don't know either,” she admitted, chewing on her lip. “If we take Newt to the hospital wing, we’ll need to explain.”

“I can say a hex went pear-shaped,” John suggested. “It isn't hard to believe that I'd botch a hex and end up singeing someone's arm hair off.”

“You'll get in trouble,” Sherlock pointed out. “And it isn't possible for you to replicate dragon fire.”

“Got any better ideas?” John countered. “Besides, as my dear sister has pointed out on multiple occasions, I'm not exactly the prime student. What's a few house points?”

“I could say it was a potion,” Sherlock mused. “Or alchemy gone wrong. I work with sophisticated magic, and nobody expects chivalry or discretion of me.”

“If you'd make up your minds sooner rather than later,” Newt mumbled. “I'm in extreme pain, see.”

Sherlock got to his feet and yanked his brother up with him. “Right, it's our best bet. I'll take Newton, say I accidentally set a fire doing an alchemy experiment, and ask if Nurse Goff can heal the burns.” He inclined his head at John. “Well done on the Healing, by the way. I didn't know you had it in you.”

“Yeah, me neither,” John replied. Maybe he did have a future, after all.

Well, he wasn't going to get it by sitting around while a bunch of vicious dragons were missing and a fellow student had been attacked.

“Wait, Newt,” Tina started as Sherlock led him towards the door. She took a few steps towards the Hufflepuff. John raised an eyebrow. “I'm, um. I'm really sorry about all of this,” Tina stammered.

“What?” Newt asked blearily.

“Just, you know. I'm sorry I left you to fend for yourself.”

“Oh, it's quite alright,” Newt answered weakly. “I'm used to it.”

“Well, you shouldn't have to—” 

It occurred to John now, based on Tina's reaction, that Newt must have grown up feeling rather alienated. His twin brother should have been the person ensuring Newt wasn't constantly fending for himself, but Sherlock was obviously not the prime example of brotherhood, or at least the conventional definition. John couldn't deny that by most standards, he and Tina could be considered 'close', as far as siblings go. Being twins, neither ever felt isolated.

“If you don't mind,” Sherlock interrupted loudly, catching his brother as he stumbled. “Heartfelt apologies can be exchanged later.” 

Tina appeared torn, but let the Scamanders go.

“Okay, what's your problem?” John jumped on her the second the door closed. Despite his own miniature revelation, he wasn't about to actively bemoan Newt's lonesomeness or have some sort of pity, so the fact that his sister appeared to care more than she should about the Hufflepuff was rubbing him the wrong way.

“With what?” Tina responded defensively.

“With Newt. You don't owe him anything. It's his own fault.”

“I feel bad, okay? He asked me to go with him and I said no and if I’d been there...”

“Then I would've been dealing with my sister almost bleeding out too,” John pointed out.

Tina bit her lip. “Was he really bleeding out?”

John nodded, beginning to become exhausted as the adrenaline wore off. “It was bad.” He detailed what happened from his point of view, doing his best to downplay his own involvement in it and his bizarre, newly discovered skills.

“John! You should be a Healer!” Tina declared ecstatically when he was done.

John shook his head vehemently in alarm. “No, it’s... new. I dunno.”

“No, you should! This would be brilliant, Mum will be so thrilled.”

“Stop it! I don’t know what I did or if I can even do it again, Merlin’s beard, it was one of the most stressful moments of my life.” John sank down in his seat. There was way too much going on right now for someone whose life had been quiet and stress-free until now.

“Okay, okay.” His sister backed off. “Should we go back to the common room? I don't want to ditch them.”

“We have to, it's curfew,” John answered, then smacked himself in the forehead. “Oh, Merlin’s pants, I'll have to explain why I missed practice, and we've got a match coming up. Dammit!” He kicked the leg of the table for good measure.

“What if something bad happens?” Tina asked anxiously.

“Nah, I can’t be kicked off the team by now, I’ll just say I got sick and vomited everywhere.”

“With Newt and the dragons,” Tina said, gritting her teeth. “Do you guys really care that much about Quidditch?”

“Something bad’s already happened,” John said. “And yes, yes we do. Anyway, we need to sleep, we have classes tomorrow and honestly, Teen... do the dragons really matter that much? I mean, good riddance, right?”

“Sherlock said there was dark magic,” Tina reminded John as they set off down the hall. “If there’s dark magic, we can’t just let it go. It shouldn’t be near the school in the first place.”

It shouldn’t, but it certainly was.

--

Deep in the Forbidden Forest, Gellert Grindelwald waited.

A hooded figure appeared at half past ten. Excellent—right on time.

“They've been transported,” Gellert informed Abernathy Guthrie. “Have you received them?”

“In the cells as we speak,” Abernathy affirmed. “What was it you said about the boy?”

“One dragon injured the keeper before I could seal it off. His brother has taken him to the hospital ward.”

“And will they suspect?”

Gellert shook his head. “If anything, they will assume the boy is to blame. We are safe, you and I.”

“Good,” Abernathy said in relief. He was such a mousy man, pathetic in Gellert’s eyes, but important as the impressionable middleman. A fail-safe, so to speak.

“My earnings?” Gellert inquired next.

Abernathy licked his lips nervously and fidgeted. Not a good sign. “To be determined. Someone reported a nest of Hungarian Horntails.”

“You will take care of it accordingly,” Gellert said smoothly, a statement rather than a question. It wouldn’t be difficult. “Is your mother still ailing?”

Abernathy nodded. He was close to his mother, a weakness easily exploited.

Gellert stroked an index finger over his chin thoughtfully. “Have you brought her to a Healer?”

Abernathy shook his head.

Gellert sighed and reached into his cloak, pulling out a velvet drawstring bag heavy with gold. “For your troubles,” he told Abernathy.

“Thank you, sir,” Abernathy thanked him.

“I trust you will continue with discretion,” Gellert added just a little menacingly.

Abernathy’s eyes widened. “Yes, of course, sir.”

“Because,” Gellert said, now pacing in a circle like a beast cornering its prey, “if you do not," he neared the younger man until their faces were centimeters apart, "I will kill you.”

“I-I know,” Abernathy stammered.

“Very well,” Gellert said. He changed his tone to concerned and paternal, and unexpectedly reached out and drew Abernathy into an awkward hug. “You have been so brave... so smart.”

Abernathy stood there limply, but when he pulled away Gellert saw the glint of fear in his eyes.

Good. He would need that, going forth.

--

Sherlock got spectacularly chewed out by Nurse Alexandria Goff, and Seraphina rolled her eyes and docked Slytherin 30 points accompanied by a long since pointless warning not to tinker with volatile substances. Newt was doing better with a special ointment and had to spend the following two days in the hospital wing. John, who was curious about potentially having found his calling in the Healing field, spent his free time lurking around the wing, and took Greg along for the ride, who laughed at a vaguely annoyed Sherlock for supposedly messing up so badly.

Tina didn’t have much time to spare seeing as she was taking three more classes than John and Greg, but came by briefly to say hello. Newt seemed to make a miraculous recovery energy-wise when she walked through the door, becoming far livelier and more animated than he’d been all day. Sherlock narrowed his eyes at his brother and exchanged looks with John.

It was becoming incredibly uncomfortable, the amount of time John realized he was spending with the Scamanders. His budding friendship with Newt was one thing; after all, if Newt (the first guy Tina had ever really interacted with) attempted to become romantically involved with Tina in any capacity, it would be important for intervention purposes for John to have an in, so to speak. Furthermore, Newt seemed like a nice fellow, modest and brave in an admirable way.

Sherlock... there was no good excuse for hanging out with Sherlock. It was only that they’d gotten into this bizarre mess of illegal activity and danger, so of course John would relate to others in the same situation. Definitely excusable in that regard. His concern now was that they might get a bit too chummy, and he needed a competitive edge come Saturday's game.

That evening, Newt and Tina penned a letter to send to the Dragonology Society claiming that they found an alternate arrangement but thank you kindly for your willingness to help. Now there was still the issue of what happened to the dragons in the first place.

“John!” Tina called after her last class. John and Greg had been aimlessly meandering the halls and turned around. “Hey,” Tina said, then stopped and glared none too subtly at Greg, who frowned back at her. For whatever reason, the two of them had never gotten on very well, probably because Tina blamed him for encouraging her brother's antics.

“Hi, Greg,” Molly Hooper said, flashing Greg a smile as she walked by, and without further ado Greg was gone, trotting after her like a lovesick puppy.

“Cute,” Tina commented dryly, then shook her head and turned back to her brother. “The trapdoor, it’s completely gone.”

“What?”

“Yeah, maybe it would appear for Newt, but it’s closed up. Whoever took the dragons was definitely behind the cellar in the first place.”

“Sherlock said he couldn’t get in, but I figured it was because we needed Newt. But it opened for me when I was alone,” John recalled, flummoxed. “The thing is...” He faltered, not sure what to say without probably getting another lecture on responsibility from his sister.

Tina nodded, knowing in a moment of twin intuition exactly what he meant. “We could just drop the whole thing.”

John shrugged. “The dragons are gone, Newt’s okay, there’s no reason for us to get involved any more.”

Stepping away was obviously appealing to Tina. This way, everything could be put behind them. They wouldn’t be breaking any more rules, John could pursue this Healing business, and he could also focus on the game on Saturday instead of sneaking around. Tina wouldn’t have to worry about tarnishing her reputation any longer.

Except that wasn’t, for whatever reason, what John wanted to do. From the looks of it, Tina felt the same.

“I’m just curious,” she said defensively. “I kind of want to see if we can figure out where the dragons went. Newt’s worried they’re going to be abused anyway.”

“Yeah, plus he’s pretty unlikely to let it go,” John agreed. “Especially after talking to him in the hospital wing.”

“So...”

“So I reckon we see what Newt has in mind next.”

“What about Sherlock?”

“What about him?”

“He's involved in this, isn't he?” Tina sighed. “I know you hate him, but he's really smart.”

“And smug. And a prat. Even if he’s started being weirdly nice to me,” John said.

“He’s Newt’s brother. He’s on our side.”

“He’s on Newt’s side,” John corrected her.

“Which, by association, means he’s on our side. We need his Slytherin traits, you know.”

“What, the self-preservation and narcissism? No thank you.”

Tina sighed. “Fine, but I’m going to talk to him and Newt, whether you want to come along or not.”

“Fine,” John said petulantly. He thought back to the fact that Sherlock had confided in him about the dark magic, had included him in something instead of acting like he was too stupid to wrap his mind around a serious topic. Sherlock seemed to have odd, unprecedented lapses in his disdain, but John also continually reminded himself of the way Sherlock had regarded him in the past. John didn’t like people looking down on him. While yes, there was capacity for change, and Sherlock’s changed attitude towards him could be very valid, John didn't like the benefit of the doubt.

“Yeah, thought so,” Tina said rather smugly, after watching her brother for a moment. “Bye, Johnny.”

John hated when she called him that.

--

The following night, Newt lay in his hospital bed, thinking.

His burns were mostly healed, though any movements that stretched the skin were extraordinarily painful. Nurse Goff promised he could be discharged tomorrow and resume classes on Friday. He was more concerned about the dragons; Delphine, Hephaestus, Estella, and Bob had obviously been manipulated, and if the trapdoor had closed up, this was certainly no coincidence.

There was still the issue of what made the dragons age in the first place, however.

It was around midnight that it hit Newt. Cursing himself for having been so stupid and blindly trusting, he got zero sleep and waited anxiously until the morning for Tina’s visit. Nurse Goff wasn't too keen on him being up and about at six o’clock, and firmly shoved him back against the pillows after scheduling a nine o'clock discharge.

John showed up first, looking rather peeved. “Got chewed out by Mattie,” he grumbled. Matilda Sussman was the Gryffindor Quidditch team captain; she’d been a Chaser from her first year and appointed Captain her third—which had been unheard of—and was obviously headed for a career in the sport. Newt, who had shared classes with her over the years, respected her and knew that normally she was nice and supportive of her players. However, the Gryffindor team had recently suffered back-to-back defeats (the only reason he knew this being Sherlock gloating about every loss) and she was on edge. “Went on about how I should've told her sooner or come to practice even if I was vomiting everywhere.” John flopped down grumpily in the chair.

“Where's Tina?” Newt blurted out.

John immediately became defensive. “On her way, why? What d’you want?” he demanded.

“I just wanted to talk to her about the dragons,” Newt clarified hurriedly.

John crossed his arms. “You can't talk to me?”

Oh, this was ridiculous. It wasn't that Newt didn't trust John. It was just that he felt more of a companionship with Tina in a way difficult to explain given the shortness of their acquaintance. “I can, I’d just rather she be here as well,” he said patiently.

“Hey!” Tina said right on cue, making a beeline for Newt’s bed. “When are you getting discharged?”

“Later today. Listen, Tina, I realized something last night.”

Tina’s brow furrowed as she joined John at his bedside. “What?”

“The food. It was enchanted, it had to have been. And I was a blithering idiot, thinking I could just give them whatever was there...”

“It's Hogwarts, how were you to know?” Tina pointed out. “It's supposed to be safe.” She paused. “Are you sure?”

“As sure as I can be with such limited information,” Newt replied. “It's the only explanation short of someone actually enchanting them, and that in and of itself would be challenging, not to mention how difficult it is to break past Hogwarts’ barriers undetected.”

“I guess...” Tina said skeptically. “But it’s not your fault.”

Newt ignored her and rambled on, “I have to speak with Sherlock about advanced potions and alchemy, but I'm certain it's possible. They make those sweets with aging potion in them, don’t they? It would be easy enough... even though this would need to be a lot stronger than the gag version of it, seeing as that version wears off in a matter of minutes... and of course the physiology would be slightly different between dragons and humans—they metabolize differently, being reptiles, and have a bit more resistance to common—”

“Spare me the lesson, would you,” John cut in. “What, so they ate the food and mutated?”

Newt frowned. “The real question is why. Sherlock said the cellar had dark magic attached to it. This must be more than just illegal dragon trafficking.”

“Maybe they weren't being trafficked at all,” Tina suggested. “They could've tricked you.”

Why couldn’t Newt think? “There has to be someone behind this, someone who wants to harm them or use them for something," he said in frustration.

“Well, I've got to get to class,” Tina said apologetically. “We’ll talk at lunch. Come on, John.”

Newt nodded. “Alright,” he agreed. “See you later.”

The question wasn't only why, it was also who. Hogwarts’ security and Picquery were nearly impossible to get past; either this person was dangerously skilled, or it was an inside job. Or both. 

The thought that anyone at Hogwarts might be behind something like this was chilling.

Newt was quarantined to the Hufflepuff common room after discharge, until Nurse Goff could make sure he was in a fit state to go to dinner. This meant he couldn't see Tina or the others, and he was starting to get very irritated about the segregation between houses. It didn't make sense, particularly considering that houses shared classes, and it would stand to reason that inter-house friendships would develop.

Finally he was released for dinner. Tina, unsurprisingly, was running late, but ate quickly once she arrived and congregated with Newt and a hesitant Sherlock after the meal.

“I did some research,” Tina began. “I thought there's gotta be something they could want the dragons for. And I think I found something.”

“Really?” Newt asked eagerly.

“Dragon fighting,” Tina stated.

“That was discontinued decades ago,” Sherlock said loftily. “The Ministry keeps a careful eye and has taken all magical precautions to prevent illegal dragon fighting. There is no conceivable way for someone to get past the firewalls, let alone do it covertly.”

"The Ministry isn't always effective," Tina said. "They have weaknesses too."

Sherlock cast her a disparaging look. "Unlike you, the Ministry is intelligent and efficient. You couldn't even heal my brother's injuries."

Newt’s head snapped up. Since when was Sherlock so harsh?

Well, every day, but usually only towards those who deserved it. Besides, Newt could've sworn he was starting to notice a positive shift in his brother's attitude. Sherlock usually respected Tina; it made no sense that he would turn on her.

“Sherlock!” Newt said reproachfully, which was honestly as assertive as he usually got. “That isn't the point. Maybe Tina is correct.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Let us all remember that I am the one who recognized dark magic in the first place.”

“Yeah, okay,” Tina said; she was clearly hurt by Sherlock's scathing comment, and Newt felt awful. “Well, we still have to work together.”

She and Sherlock appeared to have some sort of stand-off while Newt stood by, extremely uncomfortable. He had so hoped that his brother would go easy on Tina and work with her, because the two of them were undeniably the brains of the group. If only because Sherlock cared about him.

“Whatever,” Tina muttered, reaching out and grabbing her book bag to fling it aggressively over her shoulder. “We can talk tomorrow.”

“Tina...” Sherlock started.

“Oh, why don't you save it,” Tina snapped. “Goodbye, Newt,” she said, and stomped out.

“What the bloody hell?” Newt turned on his brother.

Sherlock sneered. “She has no idea what she's talking about.”

“She does! Magic isn't foolproof, Sherlock, surely you know that.”

“I'm sorry.” Sherlock suddenly looked very weary. “It has been... a day.”

Newt was starting to lose his patience, so rather than accept his brother’s apology—and Sherlock apologized once in a blue moon, so their mum would likely throw a fit if she knew how Newt was behaving—he said, “Bugger off,” and followed Tina’s lead.

They were being ridiculous, Newt thought angrily as he walked down the hall. All the angst, all the bickering, was going to get them nowhere. He knew Sherlock, and something must have happened to set him off. Although Newt wasn't exactly good at expressing feelings, his brother was far worse, and often ended up displacing whatever was bothering him onto the next available target.

It became very apparent to Newt what had caused this tantrum when he ran into John, who was heading the opposite direction and looked positively stormy.

“Your brother is an arse,” John informed Newt succinctly.

“Did you have a row?” Newt inquired. “He took it out on Tina, you know.” As soon as it came out of his mouth, he realized that was a terrible idea. John was on the protective, ‘only I can torture and insult my sister’ side and Newt rapidly tried to backpedal, “I mean... he was just a bit upset. I believe we've all been a tad tense lately.”

“I hate him,” John fumed. “And I'm so gonna win Saturday’s game.”

“What did you argue about?” Newt queried.

“That's none of your business,” John snapped. “It was stupid, and he can go f—”

“WHY ARE YOU NOT IN BED?!” Nurse Goff shrieked, descending upon Newt. Oh no.

“Just going there, sorry,” Newt said hastily. John stalked off, leaving Newt to reassure an irate nurse that he wasn't overexerting himself. Nurse Goff had noticed he had other injuries as well despite John’s healing, but he had lied and told her it was from a broom mishap. It didn’t stop her from being concerned about their healing process as well and repeatedly bemoaning his low pain tolerance and claims of being ‘fine’ when he clearly wasn’t. “I was just passing,” Newt explained, backing up. “Truly, I was on my way. Be there in a jiffy.”

Nurse Goff seemed not to believe him, and followed him all the way to the common room before saying goodbye and advising him be careful during classes tomorrow. Because note-taking was such a high-risk activity. Sighing, Newt plodded to his dorm, where a concerned Credence immediately asked what had happened.

“Everything,” Newt answered cryptically as he collapsed rather dramatically onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. “Every bloody thing.”

Chapter Text

Friday was rainy again, and it was Sherlock’s turn to return from practice soaking wet and in a horrible mood. He and John were pointedly ignoring one another. Their row yesterday had been so ridiculous Sherlock really shouldn’t be paying it any heed, and yet hours later he was still infuriated and hurt by the words that had been exchanged.

Was it his fault? Perhaps. He was the one who brought up Sarah in the first place. It was only in passing that he asked whether she and John were an item yet, and that was purely because they had once more ended up speculating as to the nature of Newt and Tina’s relationship. For some indiscernible reason, John completely blew up at Sherlock for being ‘nosy’ and ‘condescending’ and saw fit to point out Sherlock’s utter lack of experience or appeal in the romance department.

Sherlock, of course, fired back with his best acerbic comments regarding every single unappealing aspect of John’s personality and pointing out that John was just as single as he, and that there must be a reason for it. In retrospect, he had taken it a bit far, but no one could deny that John had many traits which would likely make a relationship with him unpleasant. Besides, John was more than vocal in expressing his own intense dislike for Sherlock. Whatever semblance of good will that had seemed to be developing between them was gone. Sherlock convinced himself he really didn’t care.

“Hello,” Irene Adler said, sidling up to Sherlock when she stumbled upon him brewing potions in a spare classroom. Professor Magnussen liked Sherlock, was happy to fund his interest in alchemy, and didn’t mind giving him access to his supply cupboard. “Are you alright?” the Ravenclaw asked keenly.

“Fine,” Sherlock answered shortly.

Irene wasn’t convinced. The two of them were acquaintances, which in Sherlock’s book made her one of the peers with whom he was closest at Hogwarts. They were currently taking Alchemy and Ancient Runes together. Irene shared Sherlock’s acumen and was kind to him; people had often assumed the two of them were dating. Sherlock would be lying if he said he’d never had interest in Irene, but relationships were ill-advised and he knew she never fancied him anyway.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sherlock said quickly, in response to her raised eyebrow.

Irene sat down on a desk next to where Sherlock was stood and sighed. “What’s going on with you and John Watson?”

That was the problem with the size of Hogwarts, especially come seventh year, when most houses combined for N.E.W.T. level classes. Most of the electives now took students from all houses, and everyone knew each other well enough that they had no qualms getting into one another’s personal lives. Not that personal lives were even much of a thing in full-time boarding school.

“Nothing,” Sherlock responded adamantly. “He and I are not currently on good terms.”

“Ah, because you were jealous of Sarah,” Irene said sagely.

Sherlock looked over at her sharply. “What?”

“Your voices do carry, you know. I overheard your domestic yesterday.”

“I don’t understand him,” Sherlock admitted. “His hostility...”

Irene shrugged. “Love and hate are closely intertwined.”

Sherlock frowned at her. “This has nothing to do with either.”

She shrugged again. “Either way. He’ll come around. Molly thinks so, at least.”

“Molly... Hooper?” Sherlock tried vaguely to avoid Molly after the whole Valentine’s Day disaster of fifth year. “What does she know?”

“She’s dating John’s best friend. She knows a lot.”

Who? Ah, Garrett. “Oh.” Sherlock pondered this. “Well. Thank you.”

Irene gave a knowing little smile that did not put Sherlock at ease. “I’ll see you around, Sherlock.”

Sherlock tried to gather his thoughts for a solid ten minutes before confiscating the entire batch in frustration. Newt was up and about now, thankfully, though Sherlock was keeping an eye out for any hint that the injuries may resurface. He knew how unpredictable wounds inflicted by magical beasts were, and that healing didn’t always work the same way it did with other types of injuries. If Newt’s injuries were to return unexpectedly and with a vengeance, St. Mungo’s may not even be able to save him.

Sherlock went to the Slytherin dungeon briefly to change into dry clothes, then headed to the library for a bit of studying. Well, when he said studying.

He didn’t study, at least on anyone’s terms but his own. It was mostly ruminating. There was still the dragon business to consider as well...

Regardless of Tina’s ridiculous suggestion about dragon fighting, Sherlock could not deny that there had been an aura of dark magic surrounding the cellar. He could tell. It wasn’t the eggs themselves; those were bona fide. But this was no mistake or innocent experiment. The dragons were in all likelihood going to be abused, as Newt feared, and Sherlock was feeling the pressure of solving the puzzle.

He regretted briefly the fact that he had alienated John. The Gryffindor Seeker had, for all his shortcomings, been the person with whom Sherlock inexplicably found himself most comfortable working. Working with Tina always felt like a battle of wits, while working with his brother brought him too close to the situation. Not to mention he admittedly felt an obligation to protect Newt’s more sensitive nature. Sherlock was the opposite of sensitive, and knew that Newt was much tougher than he appeared, but the passion that the Hufflepuff possessed for this issue was bound to cloud his judgment. Emotional involvement was a dangerous game.

Newt was in this because he cared about the dragons. Sherlock was involved because he wanted to uncover a mystery. Tina was in it because she obviously fancied Newt, and as a future Auror (despite Sherlock’s scathing comments, he was certain she would be an invaluable addition to the force) for some reason she felt it was her duty to see it through. As for John... well, it was the lion in John coming out, really. He’d been sorted into Gryffindor for a reason. It was his idiotic chivalry, his fierce loyalty to his sister, and his undeniable moral compass that was shackling him to something so risky. Sherlock almost admired it, were it not for the stupidity that seemed to come hand-in-hand with all things sentimental.

“Hello!” Newt greeted Sherlock brightly when they crossed paths in the Great Hall at dinner. “How are you?”

“You’re rather chipper,” Sherlock observed with some suspicion. “Have you been with Tina?”

Newt flushed. “No. Yes. Why?”

“You seem to enjoy her company a great deal.”

Newt shifted uncomfortably. “Well. She’s been very helpful.”

“I did apologize, you know,” Sherlock said.

“I know,” Newt replied. “I appreciate it.”

“Do you think she’ll forgive me?”

Newt faltered. “She can be a bit stubborn, I think.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Yes, I suppose it runs in the family.” Glaring at John from across the way, he made a point of it to turn his back. Newt’s gaze flickered shrewdly between the two. He opened his mouth to say something, but Sherlock cut him off hurriedly. “Are you coming to the game tomorrow?” Most students and faculty attended all Quidditch games, but there were the few who were otherwise occupied or had such a lack of interest in the sport that they preferred to go to Hogsmeade or study instead.

“I think Tina said she’s going,” Newt answered, which wasn’t really much of an answer.

Sherlock waited for elaboration. None came. “So... you’ll be going, then.”

Newt nodded, glancing over Sherlock’s shoulder. When he turned around, Sherlock wasn’t one bit surprised to see Tina walking towards them. Good lord, it was as though Newt had never had a friend before, the way he was acting around Tina. Credence had joined the Gryffindor, and the two of them waved as they headed over. Sherlock often forgot Credence even existed, seeing as he was as soft spoken as Newt, and remembered now how Tina had come to Credence’s defense a couple years ago. That was something to be respected.

For someone determined to have no feelings or opinions about most people, the Watson clan was going to be Sherlock’s undoing. He resolved to stop dwelling on them and focused on the present.

“Hello,” Newt greeted Tina.

“Hi,” Tina replied.

“What a fascinating repartee,” Sherlock said dryly despite his recent efforts to be tolerable. Tina wrinkled up her nose at him, eyes narrowed. He was obviously unwelcome here anyway, not to mention extremely tired and sore from practice, so he bade his brother farewell and gave Tina a cursory nod which hopefully conveyed his continued contrition. Really, he was trying to make amends. This was why people were dull and until now Sherlock had been perfectly happy keeping his social engagement to a minimum.

“You looked bad out there today,” Sally Donovan, fellow seventh year and one of the Slytherin Chasers, commented snidely the moment Sherlock entered the Slytherin dungeon. She was sitting at a table doing homework, her cloak drying by the fireplace. “You’re off your game. Why were you in such a hurry to leave after practice?”

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” Sherlock replied smoothly. She’d been a real pain in the arse since they were first years. “Weather conditions are poor anyway.”

Sally closed her textbook and stood up, crossing her arms. “No, you’ve got something else on your mind.”

“I really don’t.” Sherlock tried to force his way past her, but she swiftly moved from behind the table and blocked him. “Donovan, enough.”

“Tread carefully, freak. Whatever you’re up to.”

“Yes, thank you very much,” Sherlock said sarcastically. “See you tomorrow.”

When he walked off, he could feel her gaze boring a hole into the back of his head. Why on earth he was suddenly under scrutiny by these women was inconceivable. Everything between him and John was nobody else’s business but theirs—and more to the point, there wasn’t even anything between them.

What the hell had happened since Newt brought those ghastly eggs into the picture?

Sherlock lay in bed, fingers steepled beneath his chin, and thought.

--

Tina spent Friday evening poring over a large stack of books in the library with Newt after parting ways with Credence. They’d found every item related to dragons and the history of dragonology, combing through them for any hints or tales of something like this happening. So far, nothing had come up.

“Look,” Newt said, sliding a dusty book over to Tina and tapping a page.

Dragons, being unique in physiology and sturdy in body, require a specific branch of magic to match the efficacy of most wizarding spells. Very few have managed successfully to create potions or spells which work as effectively on dragons as their human counterparts. Pictured is the father of dragonology, Prometheus Maw, believed to have been the first to master dragon magic so as to gain full control over a group of full-grown beasts. His apprentice, known only as Garrick G., worked closely with him for 17 years, until a mysterious falling out forced the two of them to part ways. Garrick G. was never heard from again.

“So it’s possible to make potions strong enough to work completely on dragons,” Tina said.

Newt nodded. “But it could’ve been enchantment, too,” he added. “It could have been any number of spells, advanced spells...” He bit his lip and fell silent for a moment, obviously very dejected.

“Hey,” Tina said softly, reaching out to put a hand on his arm. “You okay?”

Newt flinched at the unexpected contact, causing Tina to hastily withdraw, and blinked as though just realizing she was still there. His shoulders drooped. “You see, I don’t care so much about how this might have come to happen.” He shut the book and returned it to the pile at the corner of the table, then met Tina’s eyes earnestly. “I care that it happened at all.”

“You’re worried about the dragons,” Tina stated.

“I’ve a terrible feeling that they’re in danger,” Newt confessed. “I... I don’t quite know what to do. Where they’ve been taken, or sent.”

Tina was once again inexplicably touched by Newt’s concern. He’d had the dragons for less than a week, yet was fretting over them as though they were his own children. The Scamander boys were an interesting duo: While Sherlock seemed distant and closed off for the most part (except perhaps when he was fighting tooth and nail with John), Newt was open and sincere and showed an ability to care beyond anyone else Tina had met. It was this capacity, more than anything, that was keeping her involved in this situation. She may not love the dragons as Newt obviously did, but she wanted to reunite the aspiring magizoologist with the creatures that knew him, however briefly, as Mummy.

The library was closing, so Newt and Tina put away the books and headed for the doors together. “I’ll walk you,” Newt offered kindly.

“Alright,” Tina agreed, feeling shy all of a sudden. “How are your injuries?”

“Sore, but mostly healed,” Newt answered. “Have you talked to John about it?”

“What, the Healing?”

Newt nodded. “I was unconscious for most of it, but I sustained critical injuries which, were it not for tremendously advanced healing magic, I would likely not have survived. I daresay he may have found his calling, not that I have any business in saying so.”

Tina had in fact talked to John about it, as much as Tina could talk to John about anything he didn’t feel like talking about. He was an odd duck, her brother, almost determined to be mediocre. She sometimes worried that she was to blame for any of his self-destructive tendencies. When they were toddlers, John needed help with his language purely because Tina constantly talked for him, so he never spoke up himself.

From day one it was clear that Tina was the ambitious and domineering twin, while John was the lovable and sociable one. Frankly, he didn’t give himself enough credit for how personable and well-liked he had always been as a result. Sarah wasn’t the only girl keen on John; Tina had had interested parties approach her countless times, trying to get an in with her brother. For some reason, he rarely reciprocated. He flirted, sometimes fooled around, but never seemed interested in an actual relationship. Their mum had interrogated Tina about it once in a supremely uncomfortable conversation. Tina figured that John, like herself, just wasn’t a relationship guy.

If she had to guess, she would say that her twin’s stubborn unwillingness to discuss a potential career choice was mainly due to his own self doubt. He was also easily overwhelmed, given his otherwise laidback, if hot-tempered, nature. Tina understood stress and used it to motivate herself. John, on the other hand, wallowed and then ran away.

“I tried to talk to him,” Tina told Newt. “It wasn’t too successful.”

Newt smiled. “I understand. Talking to Sherlock can be a bit like a conversation with a brick wall as well.”

“What’s up with him and John, anyway?” Tina thought to ask.

Newt sighed. “They keep fighting. It’s absurd, but I haven’t a clue how to stop it.”

“Sherlock seems nice enough,” Tina allowed. “I mean, I know he’s my brother’s worst enemy or whatever, but even though he can be pretty harsh, I don’t think he’s as terrible as John thinks.”

“He can be pretty terrible, though,” Newt acknowledged.

Tina grinned. “Well, there’s that.”

The two of them seemed to be walking at a snail’s pace as though mutually intent on drawing out their time together as much as possible. They took the long way to the Gryffindor common room, the subject changing to lighter topics, when they crossed paths with Professor Grindelwald. He gave Newt a swift onceover, then his eyes flickered to Tina.

“Good evening,” was all he said, and he swept off.

Something wasn’t right. Tina couldn’t put a finger on it, but her infant Auror intuitions gave her pause. “Hang on,” she told Newt, and doubled back to follow the professor. “I’ll see you later.”

“Wait,” Newt objected. “I’m coming with you.”

Tina was taken aback not by his words but by his delivery; Newt acted like it was obvious that he should accompany her. He said he was used to fending for himself, and come to think of it so was Tina. What did it mean, now, the two of them working together like this? Now was not the time to overthink things, Tina reminded herself sternly, and only allowed, “Oh. Okay.”

They took off in the direction they thought Professor Grindelwald had gone, walking on tiptoes because something about this felt incredibly dangerous, even knowing that Picquery was in the castle and they should trust their professors. Finally, down a darkened hall, they heard voices.

“Shh,” Tina shushed Newt (even though he hadn’t said a word), and flattened herself against the wall to slowly creep along the edge of the corridor. The door to Professor Grindelwald’s office was open a crack. Tina cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself and Newt, just in case, and got as close as she dared.

It seemed as though the professor was talking to himself. Then Tina clocked the crackling of flames and the very pale green glow seeping into the hallway and realized he must be speaking to someone via Floo powder. It wasn’t typical means of communication, but it wasn’t unheard of either.

“When do they start fighting?” Grindelwald asked.

“They need to be trained,” a male voice replied.

“They are hatchlings. Their lack of control and their impulsivity is the reason I have sent them to the ring.” Grindelwald sounded impatient.

“It’s complicated. There are grown, trained dragons available.”

“You must get my dragons into the ring, Victor.” Tina’s ears perked up. A name.

There was a pause. Then, “Abernathy was caught trying to steal a nest of Hungarian Horntails.”

“Pity.” Grindelwald’s tone would indicate some sort of sarcasm, as though enjoying a private joke with himself. “When can they begin training?”

“Soon. This weekend.”

“I can leave during the Quidditch game tomorrow,” Grindelwald promised.

“That works for us. There’s a tournament next weekend. I will speak with the trainers and see if we can squeeze yours in. Providing they survive training. Your last batch were weak.”

Tina could practically hear Grindelwald bristle. “They were acquired as adults accustomed to the company of humans,” he countered sharply. “They had learned restraint. I assure you this batch is different, impressionable.” He hesitated. “I am willing to up the ante if need be.” Tina heard the slight jingle of coins shifting.

“Well, we always like it when you up the ante. I’ll speak with them tomorrow.”

“Very well.” There was a barely audible pop, and this Victor person evidently vanished.

Tina’s head was spinning and based on the stunned look on Newt’s face, he was in the same boat. But footsteps sounded in the direction of the door, so Tina hastily beckoned her friend to make a run for it. They did, sprinting as quietly as possible and partly concealed, until they reached a shadowed archway near the Gryffindor common room and Tina lifted the charm.

“It’s Professor Grindelwald. It’s dragon fighting,” Newt said in a hushed voice. “He mentioned a tournament, they must be catching dragons and forcing them to fight. I’m certain there are potions and spells that can make them more aggressive, make them attack one another for money... oh, it’s sick.” The expression on his face was pained, then resigned, then defiant, then determined as he squared his shoulders and faced Tina. “We have to save them, Tina. All of them.”

Tina gawked at him. It was sweet in theory that Newt should care about these dragons, but just because she had eased up on the whole ‘illegal dragons’ thing, especially since they had disappeared, did not mean she was about to endorse an operation the magnitude of what Newt was suggesting. “Newt, no,” she protested. “You can’t chase after them. We can report them to the Ministry.”

Newt’s jaw was set, his brow furrowed, and he looked remarkably like John when John dug his heels in. “The Ministry doesn’t care about their well being,” Newt insisted fiercely. “They imprison and chain their dragons, I know they do. It’s a step up from dragon fighting, but they don’t understand, dragons aren’t dangerous. They need to be treated with dignity and care. Neither dragon dealers nor the government are willing to provide that.”

“Tina!” John barked, poking his head out of the portrait hole.

“I have to go,” Tina said apologetically to Newt, who was still visibly dismayed by the latest revelation. “We’ll figure something out.”

“I’m going,” Newt said stoutly as she moved to go to the common room.

Tina faltered. “What?”

“Teen!” John called again, more insistent this time.

Newt licked his lips nervously. “I’m going to follow Professor Grindelwald. Tomorrow, during the game.”

“Newt! You can’t!” Tina objected immediately. “This is dangerous.”

“Those are my dragons. He can’t touch them. He can’t hurt them.”

This wasn’t a good idea, but it also wasn’t a good time to start this sort of argument. “Just... meet me tomorrow at breakfast,” Tina told Newt, wildly trying to concoct some sort of concrete plan in a millisecond to convey to him. “We’ll figure something else out, I promise.”

“I don’t have all night, you know,” The Fat Lady complained, as disgruntled as John.

“Don’t do anything dumb, please,” were Tina’s parting words to Newt. She wasn’t sure he heard, and even if he did, she rather doubted he would listen.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning was perfect weather for a Quidditch match. The sun seemed to restore Sherlock’s spirit, and Newt for one was relieved. Today would be significantly more stressful if it were dreary.

Tina meant well, but she didn’t understand. Newt cared about few people simply because he didn’t feel the need to interact with many, and not in the defiant, disparaging sort of way of not needing anyone that his twin brother flaunted.

These dragons were important to Newt. He knew the trafficking network, he knew dragons were abused, conditioned with pain, sold and separated from their families. He had taken these four eggs in the hopes that he might save even a fraction of the population from that fate. It was cruel, what Grindelwald had done to the dragons. To force them into adolescent bodies and exploit their volatility and vulnerability was sickening.

Newt did his best to subtly keep an eye on Professor Grindelwald at breakfast. After the meal was over and students began milling around, Tina slid onto the bench next to him.

“Don’t do it,” she said in an undertone.

Newt stood his ground. “I have to. I need to figure out where they are.”

“Don’t,” Tina pleaded. “I don’t want you to get in trouble, and this will get you in trouble, and I won’t be able to do anything about it.”

Newt looked blankly at her. “I wasn’t asking you to do anything about it. I’m accustomed to fending for myself, it’s quite alright.”

“No, it’s not!” Tina said in frustration. She had flinched slightly, as though hurt, when Newt said that he wasn’t asking her to do anything about it, which made no sense to him. “It’s not alright. You don’t know what you’re messing with. This is dark magic. Professor Grindelwald knows a lot, more than he should. It’s dangerous. And he’s a faculty member, so he can easily tell Picquery that you’re to blame for anything that might go wrong.”

Newt hadn’t considered that particular point, but he was prepared for all inevitable risks. “Enjoy the game,” he told Tina firmly, getting to his feet. Professor Grindelwald was talking quietly with Professor Magnussen; as he watched, the conversation seemed to end and Grindelwald walked with purpose out of the Great Hall. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Barely two seconds after he had headed off a safe distance behind the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Tina joined him. “I’m coming with you,” she said staunchly.

What? “Oh, no, I’d much rather you not risk—”

“If you’re gonna risk it, then I can too.”

“What about John?”

“He’ll be fine—”

“Newton!” Sherlock called sharply from behind them.

Oh, bugger. Siblings were so inconvenient.

“What are you doing?” the Slytherin demanded to know. “The game starts in two hours.”

“We’ve just got, er, an errand to run,” Newt improvised.

“Yeah, so we’d better—” Tina started, when of course Queenie appeared as well.

“Teen, Newt, Sherlock,” she greeted them all breathlessly. Jacob was in tow, and they were also holding hands. So that was why they hadn’t seen much of her lately. Not that Newt was accustomed to seeing much of anyone anyway. “How are you...” Queenie’s voice trailed off, eyes widening as she gawked at her best friend. “Tina, no. You can’t.”

“What?” Tina said defensively.

Sherlock was turning his critical gaze on Newt. Newt wanted to sink into the floor, because Sherlock may not be a Legilimens, but he could read Newt like a book. “What are you up to, brother?” Sherlock inquired slowly.

“Nothing,” Newt lied. Nobody seemed to believe him.

“Hey, am I missing something?” Jacob asked in bewildered concern. “What’s going on?”

Queenie was now regarding Tina with utmost disapproval. “I thought this all was over. You said it was over.”

Tina crossed her arms. “Well, it’s not. There’s just... a few loose ends.”

“Newton,” Sherlock said commandingly. “You are not to go chasing down dark wizards!”

Jacob’s eyebrows shot into his hairline. “Whoa there,” he started. “What was that, now?”

“Nothing,” Newt and Tina replied simultaneously. Sherlock rolled his eyes; Queenie sighed. Poor Jacob was still very confused.

“Why are we having a party over here?” John announced his presence, blustering past Sherlock to face the other four in the group. “And you lot better come to the game.” Of course Greg was with him, and as John took in the scene, Molly appeared. Newt was now surrounded by one disapproving brother, two couples holding hands, and one grumpy Gryffindor Seeker. He was pretty sure Tina was the only one on his side right now.

“Have you finished the History essay?” Tina inquired of John and Greg in a rather poor attempt to change the subject.

Out of the corner of his eye, Newt caught Grindelwald watching them before slinking away.

“Newt,” Queenie hissed, reaching out and grabbing his wrist in a warning. “Don’t.” She looked scared, which was the only thing that really made Newt hesitate.

“What did you hear?” he asked quietly.

“You wanna tell me what’s going on?” Jacob interjected.

Queenie bit her lip, torn, and then shook her head. “Don’t worry,” she reassured her new boyfriend. “I’ll meet you outside in a few, okay?”

Jacob kissed her on the cheek, then turned around (probably in relief) and made his way out of sight.

Queenie turned back to Newt. “I can’t tell. He used Occlumency, and just stared at me when I was trying to read him. It’s not safe.”

“Professors probably all use Occlumency,” Newt reasoned. “For privacy, you know.”

Queenie shook her head. “Not like this. I wasn’t even snooping. I hardly realized I was paying attention to his thoughts until he reacted. He’s guarded. It doesn’t feel right.”

It was food for thought. Newt didn’t doubt the validity of Queenie’s words. But if Grindelwald was using Occlumency against innocent students, then there must be something worth hiding. Even Sherlock had picked up on something. Dark magic, he had said. And then all of this happened.

John and Tina were now bickering over the essay, and Molly looked two seconds from making a run for it. Newt hoped she would, because she would take Greg with her. One of Queenie’s Hufflepuff friends came by to ask if she could help do her hair, and Queenie, obviously realizing that Newt wasn’t going to budge, reluctantly went with the girl.

“I think I’m going to head out, actually,” Molly said right on cue. “I need to check something in the library.”

Greg clapped John on the back. “Good luck, mate,” he said cheerfully, and followed Molly to the library.

Tina and Newt exchanged glances. Neither John nor Sherlock looked very amused with the current state of affairs. Then, “Watson!” Mattie Sussman barked, striding over. She was already outfitted and had her trademark game face on. “Alexis and Blake are already out there! I told the team, I want to go over some things early, which you would’ve known if you’d come to the last practice—”

“I’m coming,” John said hurriedly. He stopped and pointed a finger at his sister. “You’re coming to the game,” he said firmly.

“I don’t know if—” Tina started.

“Scamander,” Mattie interjected coldly. Newt winced before realizing she was aiming her stony gaze at his brother, who was returning the glare in full force.

“Sussman,” Sherlock intoned.

Mattie crossed her arms. “That cup is ours, you know.”

“Quite cocky, are we?”

“You know you only won the last game because you happened to start falling off your broom in the direction of the Snitch. It wasn’t strategy, it was luck.”

Sherlock stiffened. “And you have authority to speak like this because...?”

“I hear you haven’t been very nice to John, either,” Mattie continued. She really was a nice person, except when it was time for a match, at which point the opposing team and her own team members generally tried to give her a wide berth.

John’s eyes widened in alarm. He stomped none too subtly on the Captain’s foot. “Don’t,” he muttered.

“I have only treated him as he deserved,” Sherlock said. Newt grimaced, certain that that couldn’t have helped ease any tension between his brother and John.

“Because you, oh so mighty Sherlock Scamander, Quidditch hero despite the fact that we’ve won against you nearly every year, have the upper hand here?” Mattie said. She scoffed. “Please. Tell me another one.”

“Why does everyone care so much about Quidditch?” Tina interjected in exasperation as the two players shot daggers at one another with their eyes.

Their heads swiveled towards her.

“Sorry, what did you say?” Mattie asked.

“I just... don’t get it. It’s just a sport.”

Sherlock halted Mattie. “It’s a lost cause,” he stated. “She insists on complaining about it every time it is so much as mentioned. Ignore her.”

“Oi, don’t talk like that about my sister,” John interrupted. Newt groaned.

“John, you’ll make it worse,” Tina advised.

“Don’t worry, Teen, I think Sherlock’s done a damn good job of that on his own,” John retorted, now glowering heatedly at his adversary.

“Bickering again, I see,” Professor Picquery said as she passed by. She paused to assess the scene and smiled at Mattie. “Good luck, Matilda. Make our house proud, but at minimal cost to the Slytherins. John... please don’t injure yourself, or anyone else.” Her gaze flickered to Sherlock, then back to the Gryffindor, who was now looking very shifty. “Nurse Goff isn’t too fond of you since you put an enchanted frog in her desk drawer.”

Sherlock snorted. Newt took the opportunity to try and subtly back away from the situation. Tina caught on, and also began inching backwards, seeing as Picquery was now focused on John and Sherlock and the palpable tension between them. John, who was as terrified of the headmistress as ever, had turned his attention to quavering under her gaze. It worked; though Professor Picquery turned around and raised an eyebrow at the two of them as they retreated, she did nothing to stop Newt and Tina or indicate any suspicion.

“I’d like to apologize for my brother’s conduct,” Newt said to Tina as they hurried down the hallway.

“Don’t worry about it. John isn’t exactly the picture of perfect manners,” Tina replied dismissively. “Holiday dinners have gone way worse than that before.”

“Yeah,” Newt said distractedly. They both fell silent, focused on their search. The classrooms in the hallway were all void of Professor Grindelwald.

“Do you think he went to Hogsmeade?” Tina inquired anxiously. “I doubt he’d stay in the castle if he’s doing something illegal. He’d want to be out of sight.”

“But he usually attends Quidditch matches,” Newt pointed out. “Maybe he intends to watch for the first bit and then sneak off?”

“Maybe,” Tina concurred. “You don’t think he’d go to the Forbidden Forest, do you?”

“Honestly, he could be anywhere. I’m certain he could travel, too.”

“Oh, I hope not,” Tina said, chewing on her lip. “Should we just go to the game then?”

“Yes.” Newt paused. “But listen, Tina, I... I did not mean for you to get involved. If you would like to back out, I would harbor no ill will—”

“No,” Tina said, appearing surprised and then annoyed, which didn’t make any sense to Newt either. He wished he was slightly better at reading people. “This is part of what I’m supposed to do as an Auror, isn’t it? Investigations?” Newt hesitated, then nodded. “Exactly. So, I’m not leaving you. Guess you’re stuck with me.”

“There isn’t anyone I’d rather be stuck with,” Newt blurted out before realizing how stupid that sounded. Tina seemed to take it in stride, though, and actually smiled, shyly tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, and motioned to the door.

“Wanna go see if we can find him out there?” she asked.

“Very much so,” Newt replied, loath to squander the lovely weather anyway, and the two of them headed out to the Quidditch pitch.

--

John was semi-convinced that someone had spiked his pumpkin juice with something, because his feelings seemed to be all over the place lately. Sherlock continued to infuriate him, but he also felt indignant when Mattie had gone off on the Slytherin in his defense. It was most likely out of pride; he could fend for himself, couldn’t he? Still, he had to stop himself from apologizing to Sherlock. Yes, John decided as he changed into his robes, it was really that he didn’t want any drama. Yet the more he claimed he didn’t want drama, the more dramatic things seemed to become.

Mattie gave her usual speech about coming out on top and keeping their eye on the prize, with a few well-placed jabs at Sherlock and Moriarty, and by the time the bleachers were full John was definitely in a much better head space. Sherlock was just another player, an opponent that John was confident he could beat.

Fifth year Annie Otters commentated the Quidditch games. She talked fast and loud in real life, so it was a fairly suitable assignment. Plus, being a Ravenclaw, she was at least intended to be impartial here. Then again, she was dating Theseus Fido, a sixth year Gryffindor, and had been since first year, so both the Ravenclaw Head—Professor Pesce—and Picquery hovered over her every time she stepped up to the podium.

John gripped his broom tightly as the teams took their positions. He avoided looking at Sherlock. The two captains were engaged in an intense stare-off, though the intensity seemed primarily to come from Mattie rather than Moriarty. He was similar to Sherlock in many regards, with the apathy and seemingly permanent sneer, though something about him was just slightly more unsettling.

Madam Flyte refereed their games. She was a nice enough woman who was a retired professional and good at the whole impartiality thing. As John carefully tuned out the sounds from the bleachers and the fact that everyone on the other team seemed to be quite a lot taller than him, the whistle blew.

“...don’t be an idiot, everyone knows Professor Anderson’s an utterly gormless—” thundered around the pitch. Students looked at one another, then at History of Magic professor Philip Anderson, and sniggered.

“Miss Otters!” Picquery snapped.

“Oops, sorry, didn’t realize it had started—sorry, Professor Anderson, love your class—oh! Mattie’s got the Quaffle, which makes sense since it looks like Donovan was busy yelling at Scamander—you snooze you lose, I guess... oof, that’s gonna hurt, Scamander’s down—okay, he got back on his broom, good thing too since that’s what Quidditch is all about, brooms and flying and stuff—Bertrand streaking across the pitch, last time I went that fast I collided with the tower and spent three days with Nurse Goff—she wasn’t too amused when Theseus tried to break in after visiting hours, can’t imagine why—and Gryffindor scores!”

“Nice one,” John said to Chaser Alexis Bertrand, who grinned and gave him a thumbs-up. A Bludger streaked past John’s ear, catching him unawares, but Gryffindor Beater Bryce Pennington blocked it with his bat and sent it flying towards Moriarty.

Annie continued, “Watson looks like he’s seen something—never mind, he was scratching his head—where’s Scamander anyway?”

“If you cannot keep track of the players,” Picquery started.

“No, no, there he is, sorry he’s so pale and skinny he kinda blends in with the sky... anyway, Slytherin’s got the Quaffle again—nope, Gryffindor—good one, Bertrand, you go—oh, rats, Slytherin scored—if only Nesbitt would stop making eyes at his crush down there—”

“Impartiality, please,” Picquery reminded Annie wearily.

Blake Nesbitt, Gryffindor Keeper, had indeed appeared to be ogling his girlfriend in the stands. John rolled his eyes. Moriarty was hovering around the hoops, looking stormy at the fact that Alexis had already gotten one by him and that Bryce had nearly broken his nose.

Shaking his head, John continued to fly around and between the players, expertly dodging Bludgers, but with the sunlight glinting it was difficult to pick out the small golden Snitch. Sherlock’s eyes were narrowed as well as he accelerated, pointedly going much faster than John was.

“You’d think Watson would’ve seen something by now, I’m a bit disappointed,” Annie commented.

“Annie!” Professor Pesce and Picquery admonished her.

“Okay, sorry, love you John—and Bertrand’s got the Quaffle again, this girl means business—Mattie’s back again in full force, I’m so glad she’s captain—then again Moriarty’s not looking too bad, just a bit creepy, but he’s always looked like someone’s shoved dragon dung under his nose, hasn’t he—”

“Annasophia,” Picquery began. Professor Pesce had given up and taken a seat. “You are merely commentating, not sharing your opinions.”

“Sorry, sorry—Sussman’s flying across the pitch—well, she’s technically flying already, but she’s going damn fast—watch it, Moriarty—nice, Pennington got that Bludger, just missed the new Slytherin Chaser by a hair—what? Oh, Virgil Jenkins, bit of an unfortunate name—shit, Moriarty blocked it, now Jenkins has the Quaffle and is throwing it to Donovan—they’re heading for the goalposts, come on, Nesbitt—where’s a Bludger when you need it?—who’s the Slytherin Beater that looks like a caveman?”

“Anthony Schloemer,” Picquery said through gritted teeth.

“Another unfortunate name, sounds like someone vomiting—”

Then John saw the Snitch as it paused for a moment near Anthony’s ear before whizzing off towards the ground. John sped towards it, but Sherlock had also sprung into action and they were neck and neck and the stands were going wild...

“HE’S SEEN IT, HE’S TOTALLY SEEN IT!” cried Annie excitedly. “I should’ve worn my glasses today, everything’s a bit fuzzy—”

“You are commentating a Quidditch match,” Picquery said through gritted teeth.

“Yes I am, Professor, and my vision’s clear as day too—go on, John, get the damn Snitch, I have an essay to do after this—yes, he’s definitely seen it, Scamander’s chasing after it too!”

...and then the Snitch suddenly did a loop-the-loop, then headed back up in the other direction. John wheeled round and changed course, but hadn't realized how close Sherlock was and accidentally smacked him in the mouth with his broom handle. The crowd gasped; Sherlock tumbled backwards and only just managed to grab onto the broom before he could plummet onto the ground.

“Get the bloody Snitch!” Mattie bellowed at John, who hesitated and briefly lost sight of the prize. He and Sherlock made eye contact then, Sherlock raising one eyebrow and jerking his head towards the Snitch, which had just reappeared and was fluttering by the Slytherin goalposts within John’s reach.

“Fair’s fair,” Sherlock said quietly.

“Get it!” Moriarty yelled at his own Seeker. For a split second Sherlock and John sized each other up; then John reached out, hauled Sherlock back onto his broom, turned around, and flung himself head first at the small golden ball.

And caught it.

Annie Otters squealed. “And Gryffindor won! Didn't get as many Slytherins injured as I had hoped... what was that weird moment with the Seekers anyway? Doesn't matter. That was one of the shortest games I've ever commentated, good job Gryffindor—”

“Enough, Miss Otters,” Picquery said, and dragged a still-chattering Annie off the podium.

Mattie seized the entire team in a massive group huddle in the air, shouting and hugging whoever was within her grasp. Moriarty looked as sour as ever and descended quickly. He stalked off before the rest of his team could even land; Alexis and Mattie did victory Catherine wheels in the air. Professor Picquery made eye contact with John from the stands and gave a little nod.

“Yeah, cheers,” John said to student after student once the team hit terra firma and his peers were crowding around congratulating him and clapping each other on the back. Greg approached, slinging an arm round his best mate’s shoulder happily.

“Knew you could do it! We were laughing, the way Sherlock came off his broom—”

Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Sherlock slinking away out of the pitch.

“Hang on,” he told Greg, and hurried after the Slytherin. Greg looked confused, but Molly appeared with an invitation to Hogsmeade for lunch and her ex-boyfriend was walking by, so that sufficiently occupied a jealous and slightly insecure Greg.

“Oi, Watson!” Mattie stopped John as he headed towards the other side of the pitch. She had taken off her robes, face flushed with excitement, and jogged over to meet him. “Good win out there. I mean it. That was some really good flying.”

“Thanks.”

“Nice touch with Scamander, too,” Mattie continued.

“Oh, that wasn't intentional—” John started.

The Captain winked at him. “Sure it wasn't.” Then she gave him a quick hug. “See you at practice.”

Did people really think he’d knocked Sherlock off the broom on purpose? John sped up. “Sherlock!” he called.

Sherlock turned around. His brow creased when he saw who it was.

“Hey,” John said breathlessly. “Listen, er... I'm sorry about that. It was an accident.”

Sherlock’s face was unreadable for a moment. John waited with bated breath for... what? Then the Slytherin mustered a small, barely there smile. “Of course it was,” he stated.

“It was!” John insisted.

The corners of Sherlock's eyes crinkled ever so slightly. “If you say so.”

John felt a sigh of relief leave him unbidden. At the very least, Sherlock obviously realized that John hadn't intentionally knocked him off his broom. That was what mattered. Not because it was Sherlock. It was the principle of the thing.

“So,” Sherlock said crisply. “Might I take this as an apology?”

John’s jaw dropped in indignation. “Apology? For what?”

Sherlock pursed his lips, seemingly waiting for John to complete his alleged apology. Something had changed between them. Something warm, and almost pleasant. As though they had come out of this better friends than before. Were they friends? His pumpkin juice had definitely been spiked with something. John fell into step naturally beside his Quidditch adversary. “For your outburst,” Sherlock clarified.

“Sorry, have you forgotten—” started John, when Sherlock gave a sharp intake of breath.

“Where's Newton?” he asked urgently.

John skimmed the crowd. Usually Tina met him after the game, even if she had been studying during the game, or would at least hover around to reluctantly acknowledge her brother's success. Not today. “Where's Tina?” John countered.

He and Sherlock’s eyes met, the same mingled fear and dread in their gazes. Without another word, they ran towards the castle.

--

Here’s a quick rundown of the Quidditch teams, for those who might be interested. The number in parentheses is their year.

Gryffindor

Chaser & Captain - Mattie Sussman (7)

Chaser - Alexis Bertrand (4)

Seeker - John Watson (7)

Keeper - Blake Nesbitt (5)

Beater - Bryce Pennington (4)

Beater - unknown

 

Slytherin

Keeper & Captain - Jim Moriarty (7)

Seeker - Sherlock Scamander (7)

Chaser - Sally Donovan (7)

Chaser - Virgil Jenkins (6)

Beater - Anthony Schloemer (4)

Beater - unknown

Chapter Text

Tina tried to assemble her thoughts as she and Newt found a place in the bleachers. Professor Grindelwald was nowhere to be seen, but she had a hunch that he too was planning to attend the beginning of the match so as to allay suspicion. Newt kept glancing over at Tina and licking his lips nervously, and when they sat down his knuckles were white where he grasped the edge of the bench.

“You don’t have to do it, you know,” Tina said quietly.

“I have to,” Newt said more confidently than Tina might have expected. Truthfully, he had always seemed a tad meek to her. Timid, perhaps. But everything had changed with the dragons. “This could be much larger than just a bit of dragon fighting.”

“What do you mean?” asked Tina.

Newt stared straight ahead, brow furrowed. “I don’t quite know. I just have an inkling that Grindelwald is involved in more than illegal dragon trafficking.”

“Oh, okay,” Tina replied rather un-insightfully, and fell silent.

“When did John become interested in Quidditch?” Newt inquired after a beat.

Relieved at the momentary subject change, Tina launched into an explanation of John’s enthusiasm for the sport. It had started when they got their first brooms for Christmas nine years ago, which honestly was something of a sympathy gift from their aunt, who felt bad that their parents had split the year before. Tina had been rather underwhelmed by the present, preferring the stack of books gifted to her by mum Clara, but John had thrown on his winter gear and hopped on the broom before anyone could point out that he didn’t know how to fly.

He toppled into a snowbank, of course, but as soon as the weather warmed, Clara taught John the basics, and within weeks he was literally flying circles around her. Frankly, as the twins grew up it became evident that Quidditch was the area in which John most excelled and actually felt self-assured, and for this reason Tina had always made it a point to attend every game he was playing, even when it was inconvenient to her studying obligations.

The match started (Tina snorted at Annie’s commentary; comic relief was much needed right now) and she and Newt were first to spot the Snitch. Both Seekers were oblivious to it, which was entirely unlike John—and Sherlock, for that matter, considering the two of them were usually evenly matched. They were off their game, Tina realized. Something was weird. Glancing at Newt, she could tell he picked up on it as well.

Their speculations about their siblings had to be put on hold, however, when Tina saw Professor Grindelwald appear out of nowhere, scan the area, and then quietly slip away. She looked sharply at Newt, who wordlessly got to his feet. Everyone else seemed focused on the game and Annie's biased commentary, so they were able to leave unnoticed. It took a minute to get through the crowds in the bleachers; by the time they'd left the pitch Grindelwald was out of sight.

“Bugger,” Newt muttered, scanning the area.

“He can't have gone far,” Tina said more confidently than she felt.

“Excuse me,” Newt asked a stray first year, “have you seen Professor Grindelwald?”

The boy nodded. “He went towards the Forbidden Forest.”

The Forbidden Forest? Of course he did. Thanking the first year, Newt turned to Tina. “I’m going,” he said.

Tina wavered. If they were caught, they would likely be expelled, and even being in Picquery’s good graces (which at this point they probably weren't) wouldn’t save them. Particularly seeing as they were seventh years who ought to know better and set a good example for the younger students. But the Forbidden Forest was forbidden for a reason, and Tina could not in good conscience let Newt enter unaccompanied.  Still, she needed to think long and hard about her future, because expulsion from Hogwarts would almost entirely eradicate any chance she might have of becoming an Auror. Then again, if somehow miraculously she and Newt And their twins saved the day... Tina couldn’t deny the appeal of such an accomplishment and the recognition that would follow.

“Tina?” Newt asked tentatively. Tina realized she had been staring into space for quite some time.

“I’m coming,” she decided.

Newt faltered. “Are you certain?”

Tina nodded. “Let’s go, then,” she said before she could change her mind.

The Forbidden Forest was like stepping into a greenhouse; the dank humidity hit them the moment they stepped foot inside. Black flowers littered the ground, the air was unpleasantly musty, and it was dark. Much darker than made sense, given that it was broad daylight only feet away.

“Where do you think he is?” Tina whispered cautiously.

“I don’t know. I daren’t use magic,” Newt replied.

They couldn’t be more out of their depth or at risk of getting in trouble. “Maybe it isn’t worth it,” Tina started, nerves getting the better of her.

Newt shushed her suddenly. “Do you hear that?”

Tina froze. Voices, indeed, were coming faintly from... somewhere. There was a massive blind spot up ahead, which Tina did not feel remotely comfortable with, in the form of several thick-trunked trees bunched together and absolutely no visibility.

“I think they’re below that ridge,” Newt said in barely a whisper, jerking his head beyond the group of trees.

Tina frowned. “What ridge?”

“There’s a ridge, just there.” Newt motioned. Very, very faintly, Tina saw what Newt was talking about, but the edge was so indiscernable it blended into the rest of the undergrowth and shadows.

“There’s no cover,” Tina said in dismay. After they passed the blind spot, there would be nowhere to hide if they were caught.

“I’m going,” Newt said. Tina could hardly be surprised. Really, Newt was a lot gutsier and more resilient than she would have expected. It was nice. Not that Tina had low expectations, but John and his friends’ genre of bravery seemed to be more of the reckless, proving-a-point, throwing-caution-to-the-wind variety. She wondered whether Newt ought to have been sorted into Gryffindor instead.

“Wait,” Tina said, and quickly cast Disillusionment charms over the two of them. It was a feeble disguise, but even if she had acquired an Invisibility Cloak, it would be far too risky and difficult to navigate under one of those. At least the darkness of the forest would act in their favor. Even so, Tina knew better than to assume that they were in any way able to pull the wool over any of their professors’ eyes.

“Thanks,” Newt said, looking at Tina a bit oddly. If she was being honest, Tina was generally accustomed to looks of irritation or impassive displeasure thrown her way. She'd learned to ignore the eye rolls and scowls—years of dealing with her twin brother's attitude had hardened her to those. But Newt looked almost as though he was admiring her. It was more than a little disarming.

“Come on, then,” Tina said after a slight pause. Taking a deep breath, she stepped past their protection and got a full view of the clearing. The forest was filled with sounds she did not like one bit: slithering, chattering, crunching, hissing, water (blood?) dripping. Everything before them looked the same; she worried briefly whether they would be able to find their way out. It was only a matter of time now, anyway, before they would encounter something that they’d read about in Care of Magical Creatures. And Tina was willing to bet they were a lot less friendly in real life, facing off with trespassers, than they had been in colorful textbook illustrations.

They tiptoed closer to the ridge that Newt had identified. Then, dropping onto their stomachs, the two students inched through the remaining grass and peered warily over the edge of the embankment. Several feet below, two hooded heads were visible, both bent over something.

“Move things along,” Professor Grindelwald said impatiently. His voice made Tina shiver. Something about it was evil, the way his s sounds drew out into the hiss of a snake confronting its prey, the misleading softness reminiscent of sirens luring sailors to their doom. It was becoming clear that Grindelwald put on quite the facade at school.

“It isn’t so easy,” the other man said.

“I am tired of waiting, Victor. Perhaps it is time we reconsider our little deal.”

Victor, to his credit, didn’t seem remotely fazed. Tina would have run for the hills by now, courage and the greater good be damned, but he seemed annoyed more than anything. “You’re tenth on the list. It’ll be a few weeks, a month at most.”

Grindelwald sounded frazzled. “I need them fully trained.”

“You already have income from your last batch," Victor snapped.

“Money is irrelevant to my plans, Victor. You know this.”

“But—”

“The longer  they  roam the earth, the stronger they become, and the more impure wizardkind will become. Unlike you, I care about more than mere galleons.”  They.  Who? Tina looked to Newt, who was listening intently.

There was a long pause. Then Victor rolled up the scroll they’d been poring over—it looked like a lineup, a list of some sort—and sighed. “You know where to go, then,” he said.

Grindelwald paused. “Eurus,” he replied slowly. Tina and Newt exchanged confused glances. “You disappoint me, Victor. You are weak, incompetent, and spineless, sending me running to your master in lieu of handling the dirty work yourself.”

“It would befit you to be more patient,” Victor returned.

Grindelwald didn’t seem to have a sufficient comeback. If anything, he seemed suddenly weary. Preoccupied. “We will speak soon,” the professor said mildly. It was actually rather disturbing, the way his tone of voice and mood seemed to shift so quickly and unexpectedly.

Either way, Victor was apparently unfazed and tucked the scroll into his robes. Newt jabbed Tina in the side urgently, motioning for them to move. She jumped to her feet; both men seemed to be headed in their direction. They scrambled to hide behind the trees until Victor went one direction, Grindelwald the other, and, hearts pounding, the two students could heave sighs of relief and emerge from the Forbidden Forest.

“What’re you doing?” a Gryffindor third year asked keenly. She looked familiar.

“Erm... bit of research,” Newt lied.

The girl crossed her arms. “You're not supposed to be in there.”

“And you're not supposed to give the Head Girl attitude,” Tina retorted.

“I'll tell,” the girl said fiercely.

Who did she think she was? “No, you won't,” Newt cut in.

“Help me with my Charms essay,” she bargained with Tina. “You’re smart.”

“Fine,” Tina sighed.

“Sorry, who are you?” Newt asked before he and Tina could walk away.

“Modesty,” the girl said.

Modesty. “Credence’s sister,” Newt said. He hadn’t spent much time with her, despite her being his best friend’s sister.

“Yeah,” Modesty replied cautiously. “You're his friend. Newt.”

Newt nodded. “I am.”

She turned to Tina. “You're the one who defended my brother—”

“Tina!” John shouted, running over to them. “Where the hell— oh, hi,” he said offhandedly to Modesty. Who blushed. Tina rolled her eyes: of course Credence’s little sister just had to have a crush on John. It wasn’t uncommon, to be honest, though he remained mostly clueless. “Teen?”

“We’ll tell you later,” Tina replied to her brother as Sherlock joined the group. “I'll see you soon,” she added to Modesty.

“What was that?” John demanded.

“We just got blackmailed,” Tina said begrudgingly.

“Where were you?” John asked next.

“We’ll fill you in later,” Tina said through gritted teeth. Her brother was nothing if not impatient. Always had been, and probably always would be. She loved him to death, but Merlin’s beard, it could drive her up the wall. Especially when subtlety was of key importance and he was wont to loudly broadcast things the more excited or agitated he became. Grumbling, John obliged, and the four students walked back to the castle in amicable silence.

--

After homework (on behalf of Tina and Newt, at least) and dinner, the foursome reconvened in an empty classroom. Newt and Tina took it in turns to recount what they had overheard in the Forbidden Forest. Sherlock pursed his lips but was clearly secretly impressed by his brother’s gumption, and even John couldn’t conceal a bit of envy. It just seemed awfully brave and stupid, and he was usually known for being brave and stupid.

“Eurus,” John said, frowning, once Newt and Tina had finished. “Bit of a weird name, isn’t it?” He glanced at Sherlock. “Never mind.”

“Just because you have the most pedestrian name—” Sherlock started.

“Oh, stuff it,” John snapped. “D’you reckon it’s a code?” he asked Tina.

“It sounds familiar,” Newt said, wrinkling up his brow. “I couldn’t say why.”

Sherlock looked extremely disinterested. “Eurus means ‘God of the east wind,’” he said dismissively. “It’s meaningless.”

“Didn’t Mum have a locket that said ‘Eurus’ on it?” Newt piped up. "She chucked it into the bin at Christmas. I asked her what it was and she got all shifty and forced me to do the dishes, and when I went back to find it later it was gone."

Sherlock scoffed. “That doesn’t mean anything.”

“I think it’s a name,” Tina said slowly. “I just... have a gut feeling.”

Sherlock went from extremely disinterested to supremely unimpressed. “Ah, yes. Because gut feelings are notoriously the foundation of logically intricate discoveries. You’re being terrifically cavalier about all of this, aren’t you?”

John bit back a defensive remark. It was beginning to dawn on him that Sherlock being Sherlock was something he would have to accept rather than getting up in arms about every abrasive comment. Nothing could be achieved, no mysteries solved, if the only thing they did was bicker. Tina glanced sharply at her brother; she didn’t seem disappointed that he hadn’t come to her defense, but she did seem far more shrewd than John was comfortable with.

“It doesn’t matter what it is,” Newt pointed out after an awkward pause. “We need to save the dragons.”

“Yeah, but what if Eurus is a person who’s the key to getting them?” John said.

“Then we need to do some research,” Tina replied. Everyone looked at her. She sighed. “I’m not doing all of it.”

“Come on, you live for this,” John reminded his sister, kicking her in the shin. She kicked him back. He leaned over and cuffed her on the shoulder.

“Sorry, are we children?” Sherlock interjected before Tina could return the assault. Tina and John stopped. “Very well, Tina and I will do research. The library closes in two hours.”

Even though he had previously been on Team Tina-Does-All-The-Work, John was slightly disgruntled to be left out of the equation. “I can help,” he said crossly.

“You are ridiculous,” Sherlock said with a bit of a smile. John gathered that this was not an actual insult.

“Yeah, he is,” Tina concurred, ruffling up John’s hair. She hopped off the desk. “Newt, you coming too?”

Newt had been staring into space and started when Tina spoke. “Sorry, what?”

“Are you coming to the library?” Tina asked.

Newt nodded slowly. “Oh. Yes. Sorry.”

“Is he normally like that, all zoned out?” John asked Sherlock in an undertone as they walked down the hall. “He seems smart and all, but maybe a bit... scatterbrained?”

Sherlock sighed. “My brother is an enigma sometimes. He’s highly intelligent, just not in the same way that Tina is. Or myself, for that matter. He operates well in silence and disorganization and becomes overwhelmed and useless if there’s too much going on.”

“That might be kind of a problem, don’t you think? If we’re gonna be chasing after bad guys and dealing with mutating dragons and all that,” John suggested.

Sherlock smiled. “When it comes to his creatures, it’s an entirely different situation. And he can certainly hold his own. It’s more of an issue with social situations. He is not the most socially adept person you’ll come across.”

“Must run in the family,” John quipped.

Sherlock pursed his lips but picked up on the teasing tone. “So must bizarre names, as you cleverly pointed out,” he said, then paused before confessing, “Our parents are Ismene Jocasta and Stavros Sotirios, and Newt is Newton Artemis Fido.”

John wrinkled up his nose. “Yeah, what’s up with that anyway?”

Sherlock shrugged. “It’s a family tradition. All the Scamanders have names like that.”

“What about you?” John queried.

The Slytherin paused. “Sherlock William Holmes.”

John was taken aback. “What? Your family’s got all those elaborate Turkish names and you get William Holmes?”

“Greek,” Sherlock sighed.

“Come again?”

“They’re Greek names, John.”

“Oh.”

Rolling his eyes but letting it go, Sherlock explained, “William Holmes was the Healer who saved my life when Newt and I were born."

“Wow,” John said, impressed. Then he frowned. “Wait, what happened?”

“I wasn’t breathing when I was born,” Sherlock said. “They thought I was dead, actually. I was at zero on the Apgar scale.”

“The what-gar?”

“It’s a Muggle thing,” Sherlock replied. “It measures overall newborn wellbeing on several criteria.” In recent years, the wizarding world had begun adopting some Muggle medical techniques and methodologies, incorporating or adapting them into their practices. John thought it was cool considering his interest in Healing, but Muggles sure had a lot of weird names for things.

“That’s terrible, mate,” John said, eyes widening, and almost ran face-first into a post as he was processing this. He was awful with babies and steered clear at all costs, fearing he might break one, but he obviously had a heart and couldn’t imagine how scary it must be for a newborn to be born like that. After rerouting his path so as to avoid future incidents involving marble columns, John glanced up and realized that Tina and Newt had already entered the library in front of them. Well, they were certainly getting buddy-buddy.

“All’s well that ends well, as our mum would say,” Sherlock said. To his credit, he didn’t mock John for the post collision mishap, but there was an unmistakable smile on his face. He actually had quite a nice smile, really, when it was genuine and not mocking or otherwise forced. John hadn’t seen it much before.

“Yeah, I hope we can say that at the end of this whole thing,” sighed John. Sherlock hummed in assent, and the two of them followed Tina and Newt into the library.

Chapter Text

The four seventh years plodded off to bed in defeat, having made next to no progress in their research efforts. Probably by virtue of the stressful past few days, Newt couldn’t fall asleep that night. No matter what Sherlock said, he was positive that their mum had a locket with the name Eurus on it. Newt came across her gazing at it a bit tearfully one Christmas, and when he asked what it was she nearly jumped ten feet in the air and chucked it in the bin as though it had burnt her. He had considered going back and looking at it afterwards—he wondered what was inside—but then Sherlock created a spectacle wherein the house nearly exploded, so Newt was suitably preoccupied with that. When he returned later, the locket was gone. Whether it had been discarded or retrieved and kept, he couldn’t say.

Part of Newt thought to contact Ismene, if only to say hello. Like it or not, he was a bit of a Mummy’s boy, and he did miss the quietude of their home life. After tossing and turning for half an hour, mulling over the issue until the word Eurus was burned into his mind’s eye, Newt slid out of bed and tiptoed down to the Hufflepuff Basement, where he found a piece of parchment and quill and sat down in an upholstered armchair to pen his note.

Dear Mum,

There is nothing to worry about. Sherlock has been well-behaved.

Newt paused, then scratched that out.

Sherlock has been keeping out of trouble

He paused again, then added,

for the most part. Anyways, I hope you and Dad are well.

Was that pushing it? He never did know the exact status of his parents’ relationship; Stavros had always been somewhat detached and distant. Reminiscent of Sherlock, actually. Newt wondered sometimes how his parents had even come across each other and decided to raise a family. They were so different, but not necessarily in a complementary way.

I hope you and Dad are doing well.

He shook his head and crossed that out too. Best to leave Stavros out of it.

I miss you. Seventh year is very busy with schoolwork and studying, though Sherlock has barely opened a textbook.

I came across the name Eurus the other day and wondered if you knew anything about its origins. I know you were a Healer once and perhaps it was the name of a significant figure in the field? I have been unable to find any insight in the library.

Love,

Newton

Although students were most certainly not supposed to be wandering the corridors at night unless there was an emergency, Newt felt somehow compelled to send the letter as soon as possible. He cast a Disillusionment Charm on himself—Tina must be rubbing off on him—and padded down the hallway to the Owlery. It was an inconveniently long walk, and Newt was quite tired at this point, but he managed to wake a very cross school owl, who gave him rather a lot of attitude before taking off, letter in tow, with much more wing force than necessary. By the time he reached the dorms again, thankfully undetected, Newt was exhausted and fell straight into a fitful sleep.

He was very small. It was warm, wet, and cramped; for a moment he thought he was drowning in a pool, but realized that he could breathe. Someone stirred next to him. Before Newt could take a proper look around the dark enclosure, or wherever he was, a streak of green light shot through the pool. Instinctively, Newt jerked out of the way, but there was a small grunt as it made contact with the person beside him. He could not get a clear view of his companion.

Suddenly, he heard voices. A man speaking as though through a wall of impenetrable material. He sounded angry. A little girl, it seemed, responding. Then an unmistakable incantation , and everything was quiet once more.

Newt woke up gasping for air. He rubbed his eyes and checked the time: 3 o’clock in the morning. Heart pounding, he slowly laid back down, trying to make sense of what had just happened. It wasn’t a nightmare, per se, but it was off-putting and frightening to feel so out of control and confused by his surroundings. Newt wasn’t much of a dreamer to start with, which led him to believe that, silly as it may seem, this had to have been meaningful. It almost felt like... a memory? But a memory of what? Shaking his head and making a note to tell Tina about it in the morning, Newt laid down for the last time and finally, finally fell asleep.

--

At breakfast the following morning, Sherlock was surprised when an envelope fell on his plate. He hadn’t done anything sketchy lately, except for all of the dubious dragon trafficking investigations, but Professor Picquery was currently oblivious to that. It must be another concerned note from his mum. Sighing, Sherlock opened the envelope and scanned the letter.

Dearest Sherlock,

I was ever so pleased to hear from your brother that you’ve been staying out of trouble.

His brother? Sherlock glanced up sharply and narrowed his eyes at Newt across the Dining Hall. Newt made brief eye contact, then froze, appeared very guilty, and hurriedly looked down at his lap.

Your brother asked something peculiar and I was wondering if he had mentioned it to you. He asked if I was familiar with the name Eurus. Of course I haven’t a clue

Sherlock rolled his eyes; he’d told Newt that it was nothing.

but would appreciate it if you addressed whatever prompted Newton’s question.

Much love,

Mummy

Sherlock finished his breakfast and caught up with Newt. “What did you ask Mum?” he demanded.

Newt shrugged. “She’s clever, and I’m certain that she had a locket with the name ‘Eurus’ on it,” he replied.

“Even if this is true, ‘Eurus’ could be being used in an entirely different context,” Sherlock countered.

Their bickering was interrupted by the arrival of Tina, whose appearance Newt regarded with a level of excitement that Sherlock’s grudge against the Watson tribe did not like. Tina looked rather worse for wear, particularly considering that it was still October and the seventh years (at least, the ones who cared about their education) were in for a rough ride. Before Sherlock could make a comment about the long-term repercussions of squandering sleep for studying, however, Tina announced, “So, I was up all night thinking about this Eurus thing.”

“Me too,” Newt said. “I had a dream...” Then he glanced at his brother and clearly thought better of it. “I’ll tell you later.”

Sherlock frowned. He had always dismissed Divination and dream studies as utter nonsense, but Newt so rarely discussed them that his interest was piqued. “No, do tell,” he said in what he hoped was a minimally sarcastic tone. The three of them paused by a marble column and moved out of the way of the stream of students heading outside to enjoy the lovely Sunday weather.

As Newt recounted his dream, Sherlock felt an odd sense of deja vu. He certainly wasn’t one to dream; the last time he recalled any dreams was when he was a toddler, back when common sense hadn't quite kicked in. But he could swear, as his brother continued talking, that he had had the exact same dream last night, except he had been the unidentifiable figure Newt described. The same jet of light had hit him in his sternum, nearly shocking him out of his sleep, and he too heard the unmistakable charm being cast on somebody beyond the barrier between him (and ostensibly Newt) and the outside world.

“...I know it’s silly, but it happened right after I was thinking about Eurus, so I thought perhaps it was related...” Newt trailed off and, before Sherlock could interject, John joined them. “Hello, John.”

“Have you seen Greg?” the Gryffindor Seeker asked. “I think he’s run off with Molly again.”

“Who?” Sherlock asked blankly.

“Molly Hooper,” John said slowly, as though Sherlock was very dense.

“No, Greg. Who is Greg? We don’t have a Greg in our year,” Sherlock responded. Next to him, Newt and Tina groaned.

“Greg Lestrade,” John said even slower. If he wasn’t somewhat friends (?) with John, Sherlock would say a thing or two about who really was in a position to be condescending here.

“His name is Garrett—” Sherlock began, but wisely, John decided to take his leave, stumbling into another marble pillar as he did so. Tina watched in amusement. “So, your dream,” Sherlock said loudly to Newt. It would seem that he would rather forget most of his interactions with John. “I do hate to admit it, but I daresay your conclusions may not be off the mark. At the very least, it is possible that some of the content might prove to be... significant.”

“What do you mean?” Tina inquired.

Sherlock explained the strange feeling he had that he too had dreamt of the same situation last night. It was colloquially known that there was something like twin magic, mysterious and primitive, which allowed some twins to be intricately connected. But Sherlock and Newt had never been the sort to read each other’s minds or finish each other’s sentences. This was the first time, to Sherlock’s knowledge, that their dreams had coincided whatsoever. Yet here they were, in the midst of a dragon trafficking ring and Merlin knows what else, and he and Newt had the same infuriatingly confusing dream.

“That’s bizarre,” Tina said, frowning. “It can’t be a coincidence.”

“Eurus must be relevant somehow,” Newt mused. “Mum wrote me back, too, and pretended I didn’t ask my question about Eurus in the first place.”

“Surely she knew that I would share her letter with you,” Sherlock started, then realized that, up until the past few days, it would have reasonably been assumed that he would keep it entirely to himself. His dynamic with Newt had certainly changed recently; he did not quite know how he felt about this particular shift.

Newt seemed to come to the same conclusion. “Either way, I think Eurus has a connection to Mum, or vice versa.” But what could it be? 

“If this is a family thing,” Tina started, “maybe I shouldn’t get involved.” She sounded a little disappointed. Or was she put out? Sherlock was unaccustomed to reading others’ emotions, because up to this point it had been an entirely useless and irrelevant skill for him to master. Why it had evidently become something worth acquiring now was beyond him.

“Oh, Tina, no,” Newt said hurriedly. “You mustn’t feel left out—”

“I am sure Tina is perfectly happy to leave us to our own devices,” Sherlock cut in. “Either way, there is little to no point in going in circles, and I suggest that for once we pay heed to our mother and let the matter rest.”

Tina narrowed her eyes at him. “I thought you liked investigating,” she said in a thinly veiled challenge.

Sherlock paused. Admittedly, it was unlike him to let something like this go: yes, generally speaking, if there was a problem to solve or a code to decipher, Sherlock was front and center. But he was shaken. Between the clear Dark Magic that had been involved in the rapidly aging dragons and the disconcerting dream he and Newt had shared, it was true that he was beginning to balk—beginning to fear that they may have bitten off considerably more than they could chew. As naturally curious as Sherlock was, he was also pragmatic, and although he rarely cared much for rules and regulations, felt that this was the sort of dangerous exploit they may be better off avoiding.

“Fine,” Tina said, crossing her arms. “I’m going to keep looking, then.”

“Very well,” Sherlock replied coolly. “And when you make the front page of the Daily Prophet for entangling yourself in an illicit dragon trafficking scheme, fully expect myself and Newton to claim ignorance.”

“Actually,” Newt began, then cleared his throat. He licked his lips nervously and looked between Tina and Sherlock, who were now engaging in some sort of stare-off. “Actually, I think I’d rather...” He mumbled incoherently, then finished, “...with Tina.”

What? Sherlock shook his head quickly, then snapped, “Don’t be stupid.”

“I care about the dragons,” Newt implored. “I need to rescue them.”

“At what cost?” Sherlock shot back. “You will be a criminal before you even graduate Hogwarts!”

“Okay, guys, enough,” Tina interrupted. “I’m going to keep thinking about this. Sherlock, if you’d like to forget the entire situation ever existed, I honestly don’t care. Newt, if you want to talk more about this, you know where to find me. Good day,” she finished rather defiantly, and before either Scamander could respond, turned on her heel and flounced off.

Sherlock felt quite weary and it wasn’t even noon.

“You’re scared, aren’t you.” It was a quiet statement, not a question. Newt pushed his curly bangs out of his face. “You know the dream meant something.”

Sherlock pressed his lips together. “I know it didn’t mean nothing.”

“You hate double negatives,” Newt pointed out.

“I hate fool’s errands.”

“This isn’t a fool’s errand,” said Newt quietly but confidently. “There is a reason I acquired the eggs.”

“Yes, because you are a fool,” Sherlock responded acerbically.

Newt shook his head. “I just think it’s peculiar that all of this should happen to us.”

“Well,” said Sherlock, already walking off, “if we stopped looking for trouble, then perhaps it would not be happening to us.”

His brother followed him patiently. “We aren’t looking for trouble, exactly. It’s more that it’s finding us, you see,” Newt put in thoughtfully.

Sherlock scoffed. If trouble was finding them, as Newt claimed, then it stood to reason that the only solution would be to hide from it. Sherlock bristled at the very thought of surrendering, succumbing to his... not fear. Discomfort? Unease? Visceral sense that something was not right? It was now a battle between his drive to be right, and his staunch dedication to being logical and rational in his every calculation.

And all Sherlock ever really asked out of life was an empty classroom and ample potions supplies. He gleaned the same pleasure from his work with potions and alchemy that he suspected Newt did from his work with those creatures and beasts. That Newt should so clearly miss cursed dragons that he’d known for less than a week made little to no sense, yet it was Newton—and he was never well known in the family for making sense. Then again, neither was Sherlock. But at least that was mostly because his intelligence and vernacular were superior to all in the household, as well as the fact that everyone else seemed to have little to no interest in the topics he found so fascinating.

Remembering that Newt was still following along behind him, Sherlock sped up. “I will see you at dinner,” he said pointedly.

“Wait!” Newt said, grabbing Sherlock by the elbow. “Are you going to reply to Mum?”

Sherlock snorted. “And say what?”

Newt sighed and stopped walking. By the time Sherlock looked back, his brother was gone.

--

On Monday morning, Tina was relieved at the distraction that classes provided. It had been the unanimous conclusion that this whole Eurus mystery ought to be dropped, at least for the time being. The fact that Sherlock was so spooked did concern Tina; he was the most indifferent and, in his own odd way, bravest of their group, and that emotions would ever prevail in a situation was unprecedented. She was perfectly content to turn her focus to being a normal student in a normal school with normal friends.

All of this came to a grinding halt when Queenie scurried over to Tina before dinner. “I know you followed him,” she said. “Didn’t you?”

“Who, Grindelwald?” Tina asked.

Queenie nodded. She looked off. Rattled and not herself. “How much did you overhear?”

Tina lowered her voice and recounted the main points. “We’ve been trying to figure out what Eurus means,” she concluded. "Without much luck."

“Don’t,” Queenie said.

Tina sighed. “Queenie...”

“I’m serious, Tina. You don’t want to get involved.” If Tina didn’t know better, Queenie seemed confused more than anything.

“Have you been getting enough sleep?” Tina inquired.

Queenie furrowed her brow. “No,” she said quickly. "Yes."

“Uh... okay.”

“Hi girls,” said Jacob, coming over and slinging his arm around Queenie’s shoulders. “Hey, you okay?” he asked of his girlfriend when she turned to look at him. Her expression had gone a bit clouded over. “You feeling sick?”

“I think a nap would do me good,” Queenie mumbled. “And some hot cocoa.”

Jacob grinned. “She loves her hot cocoa,” he said fondly to Tina.

“I know,” Tina said patiently. “I’m her best friend.”

“Alright, well, see you around then,” Jacob replied jovially, and took Queenie by the hand. He was good for her; Tina felt a little bad for having been less than friendly towards him. It was initially that she didn't like the time Queenie was spending with him rather than Tina, and eventually turned into a vague annoyance at his general cheerfulness. Nobody should be that cheerful all the time.

“Wait,” she said to Jacob. He turned around. “Um... thanks for, you know.” She nodded at Queenie.

“No problem,” Jacob said with a warm smile. “I’ll bring her round at dinner if she’s feeling better.”

Tina nodded and watched the two of them. Queenie was even walking strangely, and turned around to look piercingly at her once, conveying a message that Tina did not understand. Frowning, Tina shook her head and set out to find Newt.

--

John wasn’t exactly surprised when Professor Grindelwald asked to see him privately. There was no denying that he was doing abysmally in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and frankly he couldn’t quite recall whether he even turned in that essay.

“You missed our last class,” Grindelwald said when John walked into his office.

“Did I? Yeah, sorry about that,” John replied. It was dank and cold and rather unpleasant in here. He also didn’t like the way Grindelwald was eyeing him, as though sizing him up.

Then the professor’s demeanor changed, which was even more terrifying than before. His features softened and relaxed, and with a fake smile he invited John to take a seat. His voice had gone quieter, almost seductive. John resisted the urge to make a run for it. Tina and their mum would never let him live it down if they found out he scarpered. Grindelwald seemed self-satisfied as he appraised John, then said, “How much attention would you say you pay in class, Watson?”

“Er... a medium-ish amount,” was John’s clever answer.

Grindelwald raised a pale, ashy blonde eyebrow. Actually, everything about him was rather pale and ashy. It seemed somehow at odds with his character, which tended towards the darker side, in John's opinion. Perhaps he was masking something. “What do you remember of the Unforgivable Curses?” Grindelwald quizzed him next.

This John knew; Tina had gone on about them for years. “They’re Imperius, Cruciatus, and Killing Curses,” John said confidently. “Imperio makes someone do what you want. Crucio causes torturous pain. Avada Kedavra kills someone.”

Grindelwald licked his lips. He was giving John some serious snake vibes. John eyed the man suspiciously. “What do you think of them?” the professor asked softly.

“I mean, they’re unforgivable, so they’re obviously bad. Yeah.” John really wasn’t helping his case here. “I do like your class, though,” he put in as a weak attempt to recover.

Grindelwald sighed. “You do not. You spend the majority of it conniving with Lestrade, and I am sure you are aware that you are dangerously close to failing.”

Well, it wasn’t un true. John shrugged. “I just don’t really get it. I mean, I do, I get why it’s important. It’s just... I don’t plan to go into any profession that would require it. That’s all.”

Grindelwald stroked his chin with white, narrow fingers. “You would be surprised,” he said after a moment of uncomfortable staring. “Dark Arts can infiltrate any career. You see, Dark Magic does not discriminate.”

If he was trying to scare John into passing, it was working. At least the scaring part was. Passing... well, if it meant a free ticket out of this disarming meeting, John was fully prepared to hit the books at least half as hard as his sister, if not more so.

“Shall I test you?” Grindelwald challenged the Gryffindor.

“I’d rather you not,” John said honestly. “But I reckon you’re gonna do it anyway.”

Grindelwald raised an eyebrow again and withdrew his wand. Before John could open his mouth or prepare himself, the professor said coolly, “Imperio.”

A strange but pleasant sensation passed over John. He felt like he was floating. This was fun. Gone was the stress and anxiety of the past few days, replaced by a feeling of elation he never wanted to end. For a moment he was out of it, realizing that he had a dopey smile plastered to his face, and dimly saw Grindelwald stand. As though bidden, John stood himself while the professor circled round him.

“Very good, John,” said Grindelwald. He came within centimeters of John now, and suddenly John felt a tug on his hand. Looking down, he realized that Grindelwald had deliberately cut him with a flick of a knife. “My apologies.” Strangely, John didn’t feel any pain. The cut was bleeding, and should have hurt like hell, but it was like someone had put numbing solution on his skin so that it was barely a tickle.

Out of nowhere, however, something else hit John. Something that seemed to jerk him out of his trance. “What are you doing?” he demanded, feeling frightened for a split second before returning to his state of relaxed happiness. His words were slurred, yet there was no reason for them to be.

“Don’t worry,” the professor said smoothly.

Actually, John was worried. “No,” he said loudly. Every muscle in his body was tensed, as if he was gearing up for a fight, except his feet were apparently plastered to the floor until Grindelwald told him to move. His head and heart were pounding; he was convinced he heard them echo off the walls of the room. “What did you do?” he asked fearfully.

“Relax,” Grindelwald said, still circling.

John shook his head vehemently. This was awful. His stomach felt queasy and he was breaking out in an inexplicable sweat, like he was exerting some sort of great effort even though he was standing still. “I don’t want to,” he found himself stating.

“Stay there for a minute and collect your thoughts,” Grindelwald said gently. The way a predator would talk to their prey right before pouncing.

“I don’t want to,” John repeated through gritted teeth. It was true. He didn’t want to obey. A memory of Tina came flooding back as he stood there, face scrunched up in effort as his thoughts rattled around in his currently jumbled brain. What sets the Imperius Curse apart from the others is the potential ability to defend against it, his sister had chattered away before they’d even gotten their Hogwarts acceptance letters. It takes enormous strength of will but it is possible to resist. Even when you’re under it, you can have moments of lucidity. John had asked if lucidity was some sort of disease, then, thus ending the conversation.

Now, he must be fighting it. Defending against it, like Tina said. Grindelwald was glaring at him, still gripping his wand. “Do as I say,” the professor hissed.

“No,” John said staunchly. He was beginning to feel much, much better. 

Before Grindelwald could give another command, the door to the office was flung open and none other than Sherlock excessive-middle-names Holmes came flying in. He slammed the door behind him with his foot and shoved Grindelwald away from John. The professor raised his wand; it became a duel, for a split second, and John backed up into a wall in shock. Sparks and jets of light were flying, and Sherlock was dodging every one.

“Oi, guys,” John started weakly. He felt exhausted. Without thinking, he raised his wand at an opportune moment and fired something at Grindelwald, who stumbled.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Sherlock bellowed, and Grindelwald fell to the floor, thereby finalizing a duel that couldn't have realistically gone on for more than ten seconds. Kicking the professor’s wand out of the way, Sherlock hurried over to John and seized him by the collar. “John. John,” he said urgently. “Are you there?”

“Could you stop saving everyone’s arses?” John murmured. “It’s making me look really bad.”

Sherlock’s shoulders slumped in relief. “You blithering idiot,” he said with a hidden smile. “You resisted.” There was something like wonder in his tone. John felt very good.

“I reckon so, yeah,” he replied. Then he winced. “My hand.” Raising it up, he realized that the cut was still bleeding, and it hurt. “He must’ve been testing me.”

“It’s not going to last long,” Sherlock said, glancing over at their temporarily paralyzed professor. “I really did not expect to land that curse.”

“Oh, I think I might’ve confused him a bit,” John contributed. He waved his wand limply. “Pretty sure I did something with it.”

Sherlock paused, tilted his head, gazing at John, and the corner of his lip quirked. He patted the Gryffindor awkwardly but warmly on the back, then spun around. “We have to Obliviate him.”

“Why, can’t we Imperius him back?” John asked, following Sherlock to the center of the office.

“With all due respect, John, I highly doubt that you have the ability at present to cast an Unforgivable Curse of this level. Moreover, they are Unforgivable for a reason, and unfortunately, I have come to realize that life is not a Quidditch match. The concept of ‘tit for tat’ is sadly inapplicable here.” John grumbled something uncooperative. Ignoring him, Sherlock raised his wand. “Obli—”

But Grindelwald lunged to his feet, grabbed his wand, and beat Sherlock to it. “Obliviate,” he said twice, and in the blink of an eye, John and Sherlock forgot.

Chapter Text

The rest of the week passed uneventfully. Things seemed to be the same as they were before the dragons, except Newt found himself spending quite a bit of time with Tina. It was new to have friends like this, and Tina was fascinating. Newt began to study her like he studied his animals: he memorized the sound of her laugh, the wrinkle between her eyebrows when she was concentrating on something, everything she liked and disliked. He tried his best to listen and to remember it all.

“I don’t normally talk this much,” Tina informed him on Friday after classes as they hung out by the lake.

Newt skipped a stone across the water and smiled a little shyly. “Me neither,” he confessed. “I suppose I’m more of a listener. Or perhaps that’s just a good excuse for being asocial.” He paused. “I’m not sure what Sherlock’s excuse is.”

Tina laughed. “I don’t think Sherlock cares,” she replied.

Newt shook his head. “He cares,” he said confidently. “He’s just convinced himself that his brain can reign over his heart. I suppose it’s more comfortable reason everything away than admit to having emotions. Our mum is rather overly emotional, and our father... well, I think ‘opposites attract’ is the best explanation of their relationship.”

“You are talking a lot,” Tina said, grinning.

Newt was momentarily embarrassed before realizing she’d said it in jest. “So have you been, for the past four days,” he countered. “But at least I know exactly what to cook for you if you come to our house for Christmas.” He’d meant it as a joke, but apparently hadn’t mastered the whole joking tone thing yet, because Tina suddenly seemed a bit uncomfortable. “Sorry,” Newt added hastily.

“No, it’s alright,” Tina said.

“I didn’t mean it. That is, it wasn’t an unsolicited invitation. Not that I wouldn’t like you to...” Oh, bugger. Things were really going downhill. Newt tried to collect himself. “If you wanted. Only if you wanted. But I didn’t mean to be presumptuous. I know we’ve only just met. Er... we would love to have you.” Ismene at least would gladly welcome anyone into her home, as it would reassure her that her sons actually did make friends, though Newt was rather alarmed imagining the likely scenario in which she tried to set him up with Tina. Sherlock, until his competition with Tina was over, would regard her in frosty disapproval, and Stavros would engage as minimally as acceptable for social situations. Then again, Newt was probably getting quite ahead of himself. He didn’t even know that Tina would want to subject herself to a meal at the Scamanders, much less during the holiday season. “Well. I, for one, would love to have you,” he concluded his sorry tangent.

Tina smiled. A little dimple appeared on her cheek when she did so, which always made Newt want to make her smile all the more. “Don’t worry,” she reassured him, “I’m just not used to being invited to places with a lot of people, to be honest—Queenie!”

“I need to talk to you,” Queenie said in an undertone. “In private.”

“I can leave,” Newt started, but both Queenie and Tina shook their heads.

“No, I trust you,” Queenie said, and patted his arm reassuringly.

Newt thought he saw Tina scowl at her best friend before asking, “What’s wrong? Do you feel better?”

Queenie nodded. “Yes, but I can’t remember anything.”

“What do you mean?” said Tina in alarm.

Queenie looked distraught. “Nothing. I remember feeling a bit odd, but I didn’t remember talking to you. Jacob had to tell me. I didn’t feel unwell, I felt real elated, actually. Happy.”

Newt wracked his brain. What she was describing... he looked at Tina, but Tina evidently wasn’t drawing the same conclusions as he was. Suspicions began to grow, nonetheless.

“But then the strangest thing happened,” Queenie continued. “I can’t read Professor Grindelwald at all anymore.”

“Well, you said he used Occlumency before, didn’t you?” Tina reasoned.

“No, but with my Legilimency, it ain’t that straightforward,” Queenie explained. “Even when I’m not trying, I can still hear people’s thoughts, like... radio static in the background. I sense it, I guess. The energy. When Professor Grindelwald used Occlumency against me, I still felt and heard that static, like there was still thoughts there, I just couldn’t access them. But today, I saw him, and he didn’t look at me but it was silent. It wasn’t normal.”

Newt struggled to wrap his mind around this for a moment. “Perhaps he preemptively used Occlumency,” he suggested. “Knowing that you are a Legilimens and deciding to better protect himself?”

Queenie shook her head. “It was like... a firewall. It was like I couldn’t access him even if he wasn’t using Occlumency. I think something happened. Something changed.”

The three seventh years fell silent for a moment. Queenie was chewing her lip nervously, Tina was furrowing her brow in thought, and Newt was starting to put pieces together but did not like the puzzle that was forming. His initial instinct was to say that she’d been Obliviated. Perhaps she had witnessed a conversation Grindelwald did not want her to recall. But a simple Memory-Modifying Charm was unlikely to result in the disorientation and dissociation that Queenie was describing. Moreover, if Grindelwald had modified her memory, everything ought to have returned to the status quo when the memory was removed, meaning his thoughts would still be within Queenie’s periphery, even if she could not gain specific entry to them. The professor would surely have known that she would notice such a change, and taken measures to prevent that. It was more likely, therefore, that the change had been inexplicable and unforeseeable.

No, what Queenie was talking about sounded like the Imperius Curse. And Newt was willing to bet that it was Grindelwald who cast it. It was chilling to believe that a professor at Hogwarts would be performing Unforgivable Curses unwarranted. Queenie could have forgotten whatever Grindelwald disliked her overhearing, but he must have wanted to use her for something. To do what? Dissuade the Scamanders and Watsons from pursuing this mystery? Or to gain access—access to their thoughts?

It would have been a poorly cast curse for Queenie to be aware enough to have this conversation. Hastily cast, more likely than not. Even though professors were a cohesive group who unconditionally (or so it seemed) had each other’s backs, Headmistress Picquery’s eyes were always on her faculty. Grindelwald being caught cursing a seventh year girl would not have ended well for him or Queenie, and he was smarter than that. Not smart enough to properly cast the curse, though, or to take measures to prevent any recollection of the experience. Which once more led Newt to believe that the shift in dynamic had occurred outside of Grindelwald’s expectations and control.

All of this was racing through Newt’s head as Queenie went on, expressing her dismay at the fact that she was so disoriented and couldn’t remember what happened, which in conjunction with the newfound barrier between her and Professor Grindelwald was ringing all sorts of alarm bells. But Newt’s hypothesis was far too dark and unproven to divulge at this point, especially when he, Sherlock, and the Watsons had essentially decided to stay out of it. Instead, he stood there quietly listening until Queenie was beckoned over to deal with a group of unruly third years, leaving a very concerned Tina in her wake.

“I mean, what could it be?” Tina fretted.

Newt shrugged. “I haven’t a clue. Perhaps she was ill, or tired?”

“No, I know she’s been fine...” Tina’s voice trailed off and all of a sudden she fixed her gaze sharply on Newt, who shriveled a little bit under her imposing glare. “You know.”

“Erm... not know, exactly. I have a hunch, but I can’t prove it.” He ran a hand through his hair nervously. “I daren’t say anything and condemn innocent people unless I am reasonably certain. I’d hate to create red herrings, and I know you were hoping to abandon the issue altogether.”

“Tell me,” Tina insisted. “You heard me, I had a hunch the other day too. I trust your hunches.”

Newt faltered, then glanced around the vicinity to make sure they weren’t being watched or overheard. “Let’s go somewhere else,” he suggested. The castle was relatively empty, as most students were milling around outside, and Newt motioned for Tina to follow him. She did, albeit skeptically, and they found themselves on the fourth floor standing before a tapestry depicting Barnabas the Barmy attempting to teach trolls ballet. Opposite to it was a blank wall.

Newt had read about the Room of Requirement before. Although he tended towards Herbology and magical creatures in his studies, considering the amount of time he spent reading in lieu of socializing, it was unsurprising that he should stumble across a variety of topics. There was limited literature on it, and what little Newt recalled had really only been suspect testimonies by past expelled students and house-elves, but he had always thought to test this theory and never gotten a chance to. Now that he thought about it, the cellar in Greenhouse #7 must contain many of the properties of the Room of Requirement. If the greenhouse in its enchanted form even existed anymore. At any rate, he was going to feel very silly if this didn’t work.

“I know this sounds absurd, but please bear with me,” Newt told Tina. She nodded. “Walk past this wall three times, and you need to think ‘I need a place that Grindelwald cannot access,’” he instructed her. “I’ll do it with you.”

“You’re really lucky I trust you,” Tina said. She sighed. “Alright, then. Now?”

Newt nodded. Together, they walked past the wall three times.

I need a place that Grindelwald cannot access. I need a place that Grindelwald cannot access. I need a place that Grindelwald cannot access.

Beside him, Tina gasped. A plain but very real wooden door had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. “Quickly now,” Newt said, glancing around anxiously, and followed his friend into the room. Inside was a small area resembling a cozy study, complete with a fireplace and books lining the walls. There was a table for four in one corner; at the center was a sofa and two armchairs.

“What the hell is this place?” Tina demanded. Newt took a seat at the table. Tina followed suit, still gaping at their surroundings.

“The Room of Requirement. I wasn’t sure if it existed, but apparently so.”

“Apparently,” said Tina in awe. Then she frowned. “Wait, why the thing about Grindelwald not being able to access?”

“Because I think he tried to use the Imperius Curse on Queenie,” Newt introduced his theory. Tina raised an eyebrow, a silent Go ahead, explain yourself. Newt explained his prior musings, staring fixedly at the corner of the desk for fear of Tina’s reaction. What if she thought he was being overly paranoid or straight-up stupid? “As I said, it’s only a hunch,” he finished. “I have no real right to be saying this...”

“No, it makes sense,” Tina said immediately. “I hadn’t thought of that. I mean, he’s a professor. I guess we’re trained to believe professors wouldn’t do stuff like that. But he’s clearly up to no good... remember what we overheard?” Tina paused, then asked, “So now what?”

“I don’t know,” Newt replied. This seemed to be where they always ended up: armed with new knowledge, or at least supposition, but unable to do anything about it. “I suppose we wait.” Then something occurred to him. “What if he’s attempting to curse students, and not just Queenie? What if he was successful?”

Tina’s eyes widened. “That means he could do it to us. We wouldn’t even know.”

This gave them something to do. “We have to resist it,” Newt said decisively. “And we have to tell the others.”

“Do you... do you think we can?” Tina sounded vulnerable now. How she could possibly doubt herself was beyond Newt.

“Of course you can,” he said with certainty. “You’re the most brilliant student in our year. It is myself, and probably John, who should be worrying.”

“The most brilliant?” Tina said, quirking the corner of her mouth a bit.  

Newt flushed. Was that too exorbitant of a compliment? “I only mean that if anyone can do it, I truly believe it to be you,” he clarified. “You are an Auror in the making, after all.”

Tina reached over and touched his arm lightly. “Thank you,” she said sincerely.

“I cannot possibly be the only person to have pointed out your potential,” Newt replied.

Tina nodded. “I think you’re the first person who really meant it. Without resentment or agenda.”

Something in her tone made Newt wonder. Tina’s brilliance, like Sherlock’s, must come at a social cost. Unlike Sherlock, Tina would be the type to care. Tough as she may be, in his short time knowing her, Newt was well aware of her softer side—and he knew from his own experiences that nobody appreciated the student who knew all the answers, whose hand shot into the air at every question, who actually tried and succeeded above and beyond expectations. Having a twin sibling, regardless of gender, was bound to compound this effect; some competition between siblings is inevitable, and even more so when in the same year, sharing the same professors, and amongst the same peer groups.

“It’s just that with John and everything, school always felt like a competition that I would always win,” Tina continued somewhat bitterly. “I didn’t mean for it to be that way.”

“Of course not,” Newt responded.

Tina chewed on her lip thoughtfully. “I’m not exactly popular, that’s all. Except for Queenie, most of my friends have been... not jealous, exactly. It was just hard. They thought I judged them for not getting all E’s and O’s.”

“I’m sorry,” Newt said, not quite sure what else to say. “I don’t know you very well, so I cannot speak with authority, but you don’t strike me as the type to be judgmental of others. I can see that you want to help.”

Tina smiled at him, a real genuine smile that made his heart do something funny. “Thanks, Newt,” she said softly, and touched his arm again.

“Oh, bugger,” Newt said, thankfully distracted by looking at his watch and realizing that they’d be late to dinner. Tina came to the same realization and jumped to her feet. “We have to tell John and Sherlock,” Newt reminded her. “We need to practice.” The two of them exited the Room of Requirement, the wall fading back into its original innocent blandness, and together they set off for the Dining Hall.

--

Sherlock was ambling around the Hogwarts grounds alone, deep in thought, when Irene approached him. “Are you okay?” she asked, falling into step beside him.

Sherlock frowned. “Why would I not be?”

“Well, you were in a bit of a hurry on Monday,” Irene replied. “I meant to ask you about it sooner, but I couldn’t track you down.”

“What?” Sherlock thought back to Monday. It had been a normal day of classes, half of which he skipped, and then dinner, and then bed. He enjoyed the monotony of his life in that regard. People knew to leave him alone, and he wasn’t caught up in emotional turmoil like so many of his peers. “When?”

“You ran past me in the hallway when I was on my way to the library, saying something about John being in trouble,” Irene said. “You don’t remember? I asked if you needed me to come with you, but you’d already run off.”

Irene was definitely making this up. “Is this part of your quest to promote my undying love for John Watson?” Sherlock said. “If so, rest assured that your attempts are futile as always.”

Irene began to look concerned. “No, seriously, you don’t remember?”

“I...” Sherlock genuinely did not recall, but Irene also wasn’t one to make up tall tales. Something was suspicious. He stopped in his tracks and looked around the area. Nobody seemed to be paying attention for him, except across the courtyard he made sudden eye contact with Professor Grindelwald. It sent a chill down his spine, their gazes locking, before Grindelwald turned away and slunk off.

Sherlock needed to talk to John. Why that was his immediate reaction was beyond him, and frankly he strongly resented this fact. Nonetheless, his world seemed to have gone topsy-turvy without his permission, so he was willing to give in. If he couldn’t trust his own judgments and urges, then whose were he supposed to trust?

“Everything is fine,” Sherlock said hastily to Irene, and set off to find John who, unsurprisingly, was loitering with Greg and Molly. He looked rather annoyed, actually, and when he glanced up and saw Sherlock, his face did something resembling lighting up. Probably just relieved to be rescued from an awkward third-wheeling situation (it had nothing to do with Sherlock, of course). Without further ado, Sherlock swooped in, grabbed John by the arm, and yanked him in the direction of the castle.

“Oi,” John said, shaking off Sherlock’s grasp. “What’s your problem?”

“We need to talk,” Sherlock said in an undertone.

“Do we, though?” John retorted. “Ever?”

“Nobody’s watching,” Sherlock said loftily. “You can stop pretending to resent me.”

“I’m not pretending,” John muttered.

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “I am entirely accustomed to people saving face around me.” John looked rather guilty. Sherlock felt bad but brushed past it. “Did I save you yesterday?” he demanded.

“What?” John asked, flummoxed.

“Did I save you? Irene claims I ran into her and said that you were in trouble.”

“Er... no.”

“I knew it,” Sherlock said, trying desperately to make sense of things, and began to pace back and forth. Something happened, something to do with Grindelwald. He couldn't remember whatever it was that had sent him flying down the hallway, according to Irene, allegedly to rescue John. It would not have been for something minor that Sherlock would have ever felt compelled to do such a favor; no, he would have had to believe John to legitimately be in danger. His bizarre dynamic with John must have been sufficiently overridden last night such that his aversion became secondary to his typically suppressed need to protect those who mattered to him...

“Wait, what?” John cut into his thoughts. It hit Sherlock that he’d been thinking out loud.

“Nothing, nothing,” Sherlock insisted, standing in place with his fingers steepled beneath his chin and staring somewhat fixedly at the ground. Embarrassment? No, he didn’t get embarrassed. After a beat to collect himself, Sherlock seized John by the arm again and herded him into an empty classroom, closing the door with a flick of his wand. “I believe that Grindelwald attempted to harm us. Or you,” Sherlock corrected himself.

John looked alarmed, then annoyed. “Come off it,” he scoffed. “You’re just being paranoid.”

Frustration began to bubble up. This was the problem with people: they never trusted Sherlock’s deductions, always thought he was simply being arrogant and trying to prove a point. “John,” Sherlock said urgently, grabbing John’s shoulders and forcing the Gryffindor to look at him. “Do you remember what you did on Monday night?”

John scrunched up his face. “Monday? That’s a long time ago, isn’t it?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I know you have the short-term memory of a goldfish, but surely you can at least vaguely recall your movements four days ago.”

“Uh, I think I was with Greg after dinner. Then, um...” John struggled to remember. “I don’t remember.”

“Exactly!” Sherlock relinquished John and spun around, cloak billowing around him, to pace at the front of the classroom. “Grindelwald must have attempted to cover up whatever happened. A Memory-Modifying Charm would have done the trick. He must not have accounted for Irene, because he likely had no idea what conversations may have precipitated me coming to your rescue.”

“Hang on a minute,” John interrupted. “I just have a bad memory. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Yes,” Sherlock replied patiently, “but I don’t. I store everything in my mind palace.”

John gaped at him. “You’re mental.”

Sherlock spared a smile. “So I’ve been reliably informed. I am absolutely certain that my foggy memory is attributed to something beyond the typical range of human forgetfulness.”

“I don’t believe it,” John proclaimed. Sherlock groaned. It wasn't surprising that he’d be the skeptic. Anyone with superior intelligence... of course. Tina. Tina would listen to his thoughts and more than likely believe him.

“Never mind. Where’s Tina?” Sherlock changed tack.

“Probably with your brother,” John answered snappishly. “They’re always together now.” His protectiveness of Tina was touching, albeit somewhat comical given that if anyone was equipped to be protective, it was probably the Auror-to-be, four-inches-taller-than-her-twin-brother Head Girl in their midst. Then, “Hang on, why do you want to know?”

“No reason,” Sherlock said loftily, and sped off in search of the only other person he suspected would understand.

--

Gellert Grindelwald was not accustomed to performing poorly. He was absolutely not accustomed to being shaken by a group of 17-year-olds, and he was even less accustomed to being chewed out. Normally he did the chewing out. After glimpsing the familiar handwriting on the letter that fell into his lap courtesy of an unmistakable screech owl, he tossed into the fireplace.

Of course, it didn’t burst into flames as he had foolishly hoped. Instead, it leapt out of the fire rather mockingly and smacked him square in the face. “Wonderful,” Gellert sighed, and reluctantly broke the seal.

Gellert,

I wanted the boy NOT the Legilimens. Her only tie is to the Head Girl. I have told you, the Gryffindor Seeker is the one to target. His sister would be too difficult (or so I thought, or rather placed a great deal of trust in your so-called magical capabilities) to curse, and of course the ones of interest must have their autonomy for the time being.

Gellert grimaced. If he was being honest, he wasn’t that invested in this bit, as it wasn’t integral to his own motives, and thus had gone for the convenient option. Queenie was still a confidante of Tina, and Tina could ostensibly speak for the rest of the group. As if reading his mind, the letter continued:

I have no time for your weak excuses. The time is NOW.

Well, if the time was so NOW, then why were they waiting on the dragons? Why were Gellert’s desires somehow unimportant despite his position in the operation? Victor was closer to the kingpin than Gellert, even though it ought to be the other way around.

And should we discuss your feeble attempts to perform a very straightforward and simple task, once which I could have done blindfolded before I was even old enough to go to Hogsmeade? Have you forgotten how to properly Imperius? Should I be rethinking our deal?

Frankly, the “rethinking” threat was getting old. Gellert rolled his eyes. He was needed in this operation, regardless of how he was currently being treated. Of this he was confident.

The Legilimens’ suspicions should have never been aroused, nor should you have had to cast an equally poorly executed Memory-Modifying Charm on the two boys. It cannot have escaped your keen eye that the Gryffindor Seeker was able to resist the Imperius Curse, yet you did not even prepare for the mere possibility.

Gellert certainly hadn’t anticipated that Sherlock would come barging in the way he had. He knew that the boy was a favorite of Magnussen, but had clearly underestimated him. Clearly underestimated all of them, for that matter. John’s ability to resist the Imperius Curse with no practice, at least to Gellert’s knowledge, was remarkable.

I am proof of the fact that you should NEVER make assumptions about the limits of a young person’s magic. They will continue to catch you unawares unless you begin to fight them as equals. Have no mercy.

In closing, I am beginning to think that I should take matters into my own hands, and you know how I despise getting them dirty. If your work does not improve, consider our relationship terminated.

Gellert sighed and tossed the letter on the floor.

--

October 30, 1999

She was running in the woods the day before her ninth birthday when it happened. As she stopped by a small pool to take a closer look at the algae clinging to the rocks, a hooded man came into her peripheral. Swiftly spinning around, it was already too late. Occidere eos. A jet of light shot out from his wand and hit her twice: once in the head, once in the heart. She collapsed, and the man was gone.

When she stumbled out of the woods for dinner, her mum was beaming. We have some very special news, darling. Something didn’t feel right anymore. As she walked up to the front door, she fell to her knees and retched, head spinning and heart pounding abnormally. Mum and Dad rushed to her side. The special news would have to wait. But even then, she knew.

Chapter Text

Despite being late, Tina purposefully took her time walking back to the Dining Hall with Newt. Something about him was inexplicably appealing to her, so much so that she didn’t want to part ways. He was smarter than she would have expected given his slightly eccentric appearance, and he had treated her with such sweetness and respect that her Auror-in-training heart couldn’t help but melt a little, despite priding herself on not being a softie. Plus, she wholeheartedly believed that Newt was right about the Imperius curse—and, frankly, was rather miffed at herself for having not figured it out herself. Perhaps she didn’t want to think that such a terrifying thing could happen to her best friend. But at least now they had a plan, or something to do, because Tina had a feeling that none of them (except maybe John) would be able to let go of the matter. Even if it meant extended periods of time with Sherlock.

Right on cue, Sherlock and John came into view. John looked annoyed and slightly confused, which was pretty much his default expression, especially around Sherlock. Sherlock, on the other hand, appeared to be on a mission. “Tina!” he called, and strode swiftly over to her. “I need to talk to you.”

Tina exchanged looks with Newt. “We need to talk to you too.”

“Does no one need to talk to me?” John butted in, sliding in between Tina and Sherlock and glared up at the Slytherin. “Can you get out of my sister’s face?”

“You and your personal space,” Sherlock scoffed, but took a few steps back anyway. “Tina. Something happened on Monday.”

Monday. That had been the day that Queenie was acting weird. Had they come to the same conclusion? “The Imperius Curse,” Tina said confidently, at the same time as Sherlock said, “A Memory-Modifying Charm.” This was followed by a “What?” from both parties as well as a bemused John who had to crane his neck to look up at Sherlock.

“Why on earth would you jump straight to Imperius Curse?” Sherlock asked, appearing horrified. “That’s an Unforgivable Curse.”

“We know,” Tina said impatiently. Beckoning her brother and Sherlock closer, she and Newt took it in turns to divulge their own findings. Sherlock was smart; Tina had no doubt that he would believe her. John... well, John was likely to react in horror and disbelief, probably followed by denial. He preferred his life to be simple and conflict-free, and wanted to see the best in everyone. (Everyone except Sherlock, it would seem.)

When they finished debriefing, the rest of the student body had congregated for dinner, leaving very little time to confer before going to their respective house tables. “I believe you,” Sherlock reassured Tina as they hurried into the hall. “We will discuss later.”

Relieved that Sherlock at least was on her side, Tina went to dinner. Her mind was reeling as she sat at the table, and she barely paid attention to what she was eating. Even though they’d agreed to drop the ‘Eurus’ issue, she couldn’t help but feel it was somehow relevant. It had to be. And, based on what she knew and suspected thus far, it was related to the Scamanders.

After dinner, John was dragged off by Greg, Sherlock retreated to whatever empty classroom Professor Magnussen had given him permission to tinker in this time, and Newt went off to tend to his garden. Tina headed to the library, where she walked through the aisle of bookshelves, running a hand over the spines and hoping something would catch her eye. Nothing did; still at a loss, she began pulling books from random sections and had almost circled back to her table when she glimpsed something interesting.

“What’s this?” she asked the student shelving books next to her, and headed over to the small cart. “We haven’t had this before.”

“Oh yeah, they’re used books for a Galleon,” the student replied. “Professor Grindelwald suggested it.”

Tina paused, frowning. “That seems unlike him, doesn’t it?” she asked.

The student shrugged. “Nobody’s touched it, anyway.”

Things were getting stranger and stranger. Why on earth would Grindelwald ever suggest a used book section of the library? Suspicions aroused, Tina knelt down next to the cart and started scanning the titles. Baby Names for the Uncertain Parent . Baby names... perhaps this would settle, once and for all, whether Eurus was a name. Of course, anything could be a name, including inanimate objects—Tina had heard of a Muggle celebrity whose daughter was named Apple—but it could at the very least provide some sort of hint.

Dropping the rest of her books in a nearby bin, Tina headed over to her table, already thumbing through the considerably worn baby name book. The pages were dog-eared and faded, so much so that she was a little worried about ripping them. Once seated, she opened to the E section and started scanning the list with an inexplicable increasing sense of foreboding. Finally, her finger landed on it: EURUS, f. God of the east wind.

Except this wasn’t all. The name was there, but it had been crossed out viciously with red ink. Below it on the page, the same person had written SHERRINFORD, underlined twice. Disconcerting still, the second Tina finished reading, the ink disappeared, as did the entire name entry itself. The rest of the names on the list shifted upwards to replace ‘Eurus’, and it looked as though it had never been there at all.

What? Tina flipped to the back of the page. Nothing. She started going through all of the pages before and after. Still nothing. The index was organized by name meanings; she checked G for God, E for east, W for wind. Still nothing. This was getting stranger and stranger. Glancing around nervously, Tina ripped the page out of the book, folded it up, and stuffed it in her pocket. Then she set off for the Gryffindor common room, hoping to track down her brother.

As soon as Tina had left, a third year quietly slipped out from behind a bookshelf. She leafed through the pages, spending extra time in the E section. Once satisfied, she waved her wand; the book disappeared, and, mission accomplished, she went on her way.

--

John was about to destroy Greg in chess when his sister came hurtling through the portrait hole, seized him by the elbow, and yanked him out into the hallway.

“What’s your problem?!” John spluttered.

“We need to talk, now,” Tina said. She paused. “Damn, we really need to come up with a better way to meet up with Sherlock and Newt.”

“Er, no, we don’t,” said John, who was perfectly alright never seeing Sherlock again. He made him feel weirdly uneasy and judged. And it was annoying that he was so objectively good-looking. It made John feel rather inadequate, if he was honest.

“We do. Let’s find them,” Tina said urgently, and started walking at about 500 miles an hour. “Where do you think Sherlock is?”

“Do we have to include him?” John complained.

Tina shot him a stern look. “You need to—” she started, but then a minor explosion caused both twins to spin around. “Sherlock,” Tina said confidently, and marched over to the source. Sure enough, an exacerbated Sherlock was standing there holding a shattered flask while some sort of white powder slowly drifted down onto his shoulders.

“You’ve got a bit of dandruff, just there,” John said, sniggering. Sherlock glared at him. John tamped down something that could almost be called excitement. Probably anxiety. Or anger taking some sort of strange form. He was never excited to see Sherlock.

Tina waved her wand at Sherlock and the dandruff-y dust disappeared, the flask reassembled itself, and the Slytherin’s unruly black curls were impeccably mussed once again.

Impeccably mussed. John hated himself for a moment. Since when had he even noticed hair, especially blokes’? It was just that Sherlock’s hair seemed to suit him. John preferred the clean-cut look himself. He’d always gone for a more military-style haircut, actually, and wondered briefly whether Sherlock thought it looked stupid. Why he even cared what the arrogant Seeker thought of his hair was beyond him, but—

John,” Tina said, rescuing him from whatever rabbit hole he’d fallen into.

“Yes,” John said hurriedly, and avoided making eye contact with Sherlock. His sister gave him a shrewd look, which he did not like one bit because she was probably going to start bragging about her people-reading skills and come to a lot of unfair assumptions. The amount of times, since Tina decided to be an auror, that John had been forced to put up with Trust me, I can read people like a book and You know how important reading people is for my future career and I can tell by your body language that you fancy her and If you were going into the same field as me, you’d probably be better at it was totally indecent. If she wasn’t his sister, he’d want to kill her on a daily basis.

“John?” Sherlock said suddenly.

John realized abruptly that he’d only been half-listening, preoccupied as he was with resenting whatever implications Tina’s little glances between him and Sherlock were making. “Something about Eurus being a name,” he said insightfully.

“What’s Sherrinford, though?” Tina said thoughtfully.

John was silent, not wanting to admit that he had no idea what she was on about. Sherlock glanced at him; he attempted to appear deep in thought, but the Slytherin rolled his eyes and explained, “Tina found the name Eurus in a used baby name book, but it was crossed out with the word ‘Sherrinford’ written beneath it. As soon as she read it, the entire entry disappeared.”

John nodded sagely. “Ah.” Then he furrowed his brow. “What’s Sherrinford?”

Sherlock and Tina exchanged exasperated looks. “That’s the question I just asked,” said Tina.

“Okay, so we’re on the same page. Good,” John said. He cleared his throat and stood akimbo. “Well, then. What’s the plan?”

“We need to find Newt,” Tina suggested. “But he’s probably in the Hufflepuff common room.”

“Where’s Queenie?” John asked. “Aren’t you two always connected? She has that mind-reading thing, doesn't she?"

An extremely exasperated Tina consequently explained that Legilimency has certain restrictions that prevent pretty much all but a select few prodigies from extending their powers past a specific distance. Furthermore, she said (somewhat patronizingly, John thought), the magical gift is also not a dog whistle or one of those "ring bell for service" situations.

They ended up locating Newt through Queenie, who happened to be passing by and fetched him. A few minutes later, Tina’s new best friend (apparently) met the other three students outside the Hufflepuff common room, looking equal parts nervous and excited. Despite his misgivings about boys showing interest in his sister, John actually quite liked the fellow; Newt was the exact opposite of Sherlock, so what wasn't there to like?

After briefing Newt on the ‘Eurus’ phenomenon, the four students relocated to the empty classroom where Sherlock often practiced alchemy and potions so as not to be overheard. Newt was as dumbfounded as the others, and the library had already closed, leaving them with nothing but their own knowledge (limited in varying degrees).

“You really haven’t heard of Sherrinford?” John asked Sherlock, who looked affronted. “What? You know everything.”

“Not everything, John,” Sherlock said patronizingly. “Just because I have not spent my entire life meeting the bare minimum in school, playing Quidditch, and snogging girls—”

“Oi! You play Quidditch too,” John objected. “And don’t act like you’re such an academic, you hardly ever go to classes and it’s only ‘cause you’re so smart—”

“Stop it,” Tina cut in, looking extremely fed up. She sighed, kicking her legs where she sat on the desk. Newt was watching her intently. Too intently. He was really giving Tina too much credit, John thought somewhat defensively. She wasn’t that great.

“It’s getting late, I’m afraid,” Newt said ruefully after a pause. “Are you going to Hogsmeade tomorrow?”

“I don’t know, I was thinking of having a lie-in,” John started, before realizing that Newt had only been asking Tina. The Hufflepuff appeared to catch himself, however, turning slightly pink and quickly looking at his brother and John as well. His pretenses that he actually cared whether John or Sherlock were involved in this little mystery were as unimpressive to the Slytherin as they were to John; the two Seekers exchanged a look, inexplicably half-smirking at each other. Tina raised an eyebrow at John in response, causing John to also turn slightly pink and cough loudly to dispel the awkwardness.

“I have an idea, actually,” Tina said, fortunately. “Not about Eurus. It’s a bit complicated, though.”

“Yeah, we obviously hate complicated stuff,” John replied sarcastically.

She rolled her eyes at him and looked to Sherlock. “How well do you know the castle?” she asked.

“Quite well,” he answered. “Believe me, while I may regularly miss classes, my time is spent on far worthier endeavors than playing Exploding Snap and ogling girls.” What was it with Sherlock’s sudden attack on John’s heterosexuality?

Tina thankfully ignored this comment. “Could you sketch a map of it if I gave you specific instructions?”

Sherlock nodded. “Absolutely.” Well, that was the most agreeable John thought the Slytherin had ever been. Maybe this strange new dynamic was having a positive effect.

“It’s a little crazy, but if it works we could at least stop having to track each other down,” Tina said. “I thought that might make things a bit easier.” She faltered and looked at John. “How good are you at memorizing if you try?”

Okay, so memorizing stuff by rote was possibly not John’s strong suit, at least when it came to history. But he had successfully mastered quite a bit of strategy in Quidditch, which meant memorizing every quadrant of the field and learning all the nuts and bolts of the sport, so in his opinion everyone should give him a little more credit. “It depends,” he said honestly.

“If it’s Quidditch, he’ll be fine,” Sherlock said loftily.

“Is that a compliment?” John asked in confusion.

“Take it as you will,” his arch nemesis replied. Tina sighed loudly.

“Let’s meet tomorrow in the library,” Newt suggested. He jerked his head towards the hallway. “Shall we?”

And, all of their minds no doubt reeling over their newest finding (including John’s, even though he was trying to act not remotely freaked out about this sketchy business), the four intrepid seventh years went on their way.

--

After breakfast bright and early Saturday morning, John and the others congregated at the library, where Sherlock passed Tina a map that he’d made of the castle. They had apparently been on the same wavelength, because although she hadn’t explicitly asked him to, he had also neatly labelled both axes, resembling the Muggle game Battlefield.

“Geminio,” Tina said, tapping the map, and repeated this process two more times, so they each had an identical copy. Then she reached into her book bag and produced a small money pouch. “Take one,” she instructed the other three. John reached in, fingers wrapping around a galleon, and withdrew it, exchanging confused looks with Newt and Sherlock. “Look at the serial numbers,” Tina instructed them. John was about to complain that his had no numbers when Sherlock reached over his shoulder and flipped the coin over.

“So...” John prompted his sister. “What next?”

Smiling a little smugly, Tina tapped the map with her wand, and then held the galleon aloft to do the same. The coin vibrated suddenly in all of their hands, and as John watched, the numbers around the edge shifted into what seemed to be a set of coordinates and a time in military format. He was rather disappointed that the galleon evidently had no value, but also extremely curious and slightly confused.

“So we need the map in order to use the coin?” Sherlock said somewhat critically.

“No,” Tina replied smoothly. She wrapped her hand around the coin before unfurling her palm and tapping it once again. The coins vibrated; the numbers changed. “It took me all night to come up with it, but it should work. As long as you think the coordinates very clearly, with no distractions, it should change with the incantation.”

“Neat,” Newt said in awe. “This is incredible, Tina.”

Tina turned pink. “Thanks,” she said rather bashfully.

“It isn’t bad,” Sherlock allowed. Which, coming from him, was quite the compliment.

“Now we know when and where to meet,” Tina explained. “You’ll just have to memorize the map’s coordinates, but that shouldn’t take us too long, we’re all smart.” John was actually a bit chuffed that she seemed to include him in this statement. He might be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but it wasn’t that he was stupid; part of it was wanting to set himself apart from Tina by being more sociable and entertaining, including playing the goofy Quidditch player, and the other part was not caring very much about school.

“Shall we go to Hogsmeade now?” Newt asked, standing up and offering Tina his hand before hastily withdrawing it when she gave him an odd look. John scoffed. What a gentleman. “I heard that they have a new drink at Madam Puddifoot’s.”

“Just don’t try to pay with the magical galleon,” John quipped. Nobody appeared to find this very amusing. Unprompted, Sherlock clapped John on the shoulder briefly as he got to his feet. John jerked, not expecting the physical contact, and when he glanced up he saw the tail end of Sherlock looking away with a slightly embarrassed/wounded expression on his face. Oops. Attempting to make amends, John tugged on Sherlock’s sleeve before the Slytherin could make a run for it. “Hey, wanna go practice in the Quidditch pitch?” he asked.

Sherlock paused. “I have a potion brewing... but I suppose it won’t be ready for another 27 hours, and you could use a bit of practice.”

John took it in stride, as he was beginning to realize was a more appropriate response than indignation and defensiveness. The majority of the time, Sherlock seemed to only be teasing. “Right, I’m gonna pretend you didn’t just insult my impeccable athletic abilities, and also what in Merlin’s name are you brewing that takes 27 hours?”

“Some of us are able to focus on one task for more than 30 minutes without instant gratification,” Sherlock said loftily.

“Yeah, ‘cause that clears it up,” muttered John, and together they left the library and headed to practice.

--

Tina was quickly convening with a classmate about a group project due Monday which nobody had worked on yet when Modesty approached Newt.

“Hello,” he said as she strode purposefully over to him.

“Listen, can I talk to you?” Modesty asked. “It’s about Tina.” Newt agreed immediately, of course, and the two of them stepped off to the side. The third year lowered her voice as she said, “Something is going on.”

Newt’s interest was piqued. Could she know about Grindelwald? Before he could ask any questions, however, Professor Grindelwald himself walked by and stopped the two of them. “Miss Barebones,” he said smoothly. “If you would be so kind as to follow me to my office.”

Modesty looked dismayed, but had no choice. Newt saw her grip the handle of her wand as she followed the professor. He frowned; why would she be preparing to defend herself from a professor? As he watched them walk away, Modesty looked at him over her shoulder and mouthed Grindelwald , leaving him even more confused and concerned than he was before.

--

November 1, 2010

The pub was crowded when Eurus arrived. She maneuvered through crowds of rowdy drinkers before finding a spot at the bar. It was a Muggle bar, known for sketchy dealings, and Eurus needed something. She just wasn’t sure yet. A few men were ogling her from the corner booth. She was used to the attention and only exploited it when it was convenient for her.

“Chilly out there,” the bartender, a blond man with pale eyes, commented, pushing a beer across the bar.

Eurus nodded and took a swig. “Very,” she agreed.

“Are you from out of town?” the bartender asked.

Ah, yes. Eurus knew she’d developed a Welsh accent. Of course, she could imitate any accent she wished, but on nights like these she saw no benefit. Then again, fitting in was always preferable to standing out. At least here. “Southwest Wales,” Eurus replied. “Tenby.”

The bartender appeared surprised. “Not in Pembrokeshire?” he said. “That’s a tourist-y area, isn’t that?”

Eurus nodded. “You know it?”

“My mum visited there last year,” answered the bartender. “Where do you live?”

Before Eurus could respond, another man slid into the bar next to her. “The usual,” he said shortly. Eurus frowned at his rudeness; he appeared not to notice, and instead began making small talk about the weather. Eurus wasn’t quite sure if she was talking to him, and something about his attitude made her vaguely uneasy. She wasn’t usually uneasy.

After about ten minutes of pointless conversation, Eurus decided to head back. It was late, rainy, and unpleasant out, and nothing had occurred to her regarding her problem. And, if she was being totally honest, it was a bit irritating that neither man seemed to give her any of the attention she was accustomed to. Deeming this night pointless, she excused herself from the bar, leaving a half-drunk beer behind. The pub was wall-to-wall with people escaping the glum weather now, and Eurus had to repress the urge to use magic to maneuver more easily through the crowds. When she finally exited onto the sidewalk, she nearly jumped. Both the bartender and the rude man were standing before her.

“Going back to Sherrinford?” said the stranger. “They’ll be missing you there.”

Eurus blanched. “Who are you?” she demanded.

“Victor,” he replied. His features suddenly appeared somehow more pointy, his hair a shade closer to black. Then he gestured to the bartender. “This is Gellert. We’ve heard about you and we want to help you.”

“How do you know anything about me?” Eurus countered.

“That’s not important,” said Gellert. His tone switched from vaguely impatient to disarmingly soothing. “Come with us. It’s wet outside.”

The weather was the least of her concerns now, but Eurus’s interest was piqued. She could fend for herself, after all—even against the two men, if need be—and had nothing better to do with her time. And so, hand still resting on her wand just in case, Eurus followed.