I was wandering through my folders and found this :). It was for the connotations zine and it timed out in Feb, but I totally forgot to post it ::g::
They had been living together for a little over six months now and the whole Moriarty affair was behind them, thank God. John had chosen not to ask what actually happened to Moriarty, but after the whole swimming pool incident, Sherlock had stopped playing games, teamed up with Mycroft and if Moriarty was lucky, he was dead. That was one of the reasons John did not want to know, Mycroft was a very scary man when someone threatened his little brother and, as it turned out, Sherlock was a very scary man when someone threatened John. All in all it had been a very eye-opening experience.
John was even almost used to Sherlock's annoying habits, which was why when they changed it worried him. Sherlock could often be found staring into space, but there was always that intense look in his eyes that said there was a very sharp mind calculating things. Those moments John had learned to interpret and he knew when to interrupt and when not to, what was worrying him were the other moments. They had started about two weeks previously after a case which had been weirder than usual. It seemed they had a killer who was fond of fantasy books and movies and had taken to recreating famous death scenes. There had been Boromir from Lord of the Rings, Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter and the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz (that had involved acid and had not been pretty).
John was not sure what about the case had affected Sherlock, but he was sure it had been something, even though Sherlock had put the pieces together and solved the crimes as usual. John would have thought that if anything was going to affect Sherlock it would have been the Moriarty debacle, but, it seemed, not. Ever since the end of the last case, John had noticed changes in Sherlock's behaviour and every now and then he would find his friend staring off into space looking confused; as if he had lost something. Frankly it was unnerving and John had read enough about mental illness thanks to his own condition to know that something was wrong. He also had a fair idea of what kind of thing it was, which was the one and only reason he walked up to the surveillance team Sherlock had pointed out days previously and demanded to be taken to see Mycroft.
"Hello, Dr Watson," Mycroft greeted when he stepped into the nondescript office that Sherlock's brother had decided to use as their meeting point, "have you changed your mind?"
"What has Sherlock forgotten?" he asked, not bothering to beat around the bush and for the first time he saw genuine shock on Mycroft's face.
At that point he was absolutely sure of his diagnosis; Sherlock had some form of amnesia.
"What has he told you?" Mycroft asked, for once sitting down and, unlike the three one on one meetings they had had since his moving in with Sherlock, John did the same.
"Nothing," he said honestly, he was not here to play games, "but I know the symptoms, I've seen them in soldiers on the front line. Is it post-traumatic or dissociative amnesia?"
"A little of both," was the surprisingly forward answer, "but what symptoms? Sherlock has never shown any inclination to recall what he has lost."
That didn't surprise John, but it began explaining a few things about Sherlock that had had him wondering. Of course Sherlock was a person designed to make others wonder, but that wasn't the point.
"I keep finding him staring into space as if he's trying to remember something, but isn't quite sure there is anything to remember," he said simply; there had been other things, but those incidents were what he considered the most significant.
"Oh dear," was the response and for a moment Mycroft actually appeared to be a human being.
The whole situation was a bit of a revelation to John.
"Has he done anything?" was Mycroft's next question and the way 'done' was stressed made John frown.
"Done?" he asked, since he was not quite sure what Mycroft was getting at; Sherlock did a lot of things, but he was pretty sure the question was more specific than that.
"Anything odd?" was the cagey response.
He just gave the other man a look; ninety percent of everything Sherlock did was odd. Mycroft rubbed the bridge of his nose as if trying to stave off a headache.
"Have there been any occurrences which seemed to defy logical explanation?" the man finally elucidated.
That wasn't quite what John had been expecting, but now that Mycroft mentioned it, there had been a few odd things, like his phone vanishing from his pocket while he had been waiting for a call from a potential date and then turning up on top of the bookshelves an hour or so later. When he had confronted Sherlock, the genuine surprise he had seen and the fact Sherlock had promised faithfully he hadn't done it had convinced him his flatmate was not the culprit. Sherlock did things he thought he needed to do, but he did not tend to lie about having done them. Then there had been the fire in the kitchen. He had bought flowers for his date when he had finally managed to connect with her and he had left them in the sink while he got ready. They had caught fire somehow and even with Sherlock's weird experiments there had been no readily available explanation. He told Mycroft about the incidents, for once not feeling as if by doing so he would be betraying Sherlock's trust.
"This is not good," was Mycroft's succinct opinion, "or perhaps it is, it is difficult to tell."
John had to admit he was confused and the penetrating stare Mycroft gave him was more than a little intimidating. There was definitely something going on behind those piercing eyes, but John could not tell what.
"Could it have been the last case that triggered something?" he asked, voicing one of the possibilities that had occurred to him.
"That undoubtedly had something to do with it," Mycroft replied after a moment, "but it could not have been just that; there have been other events in Sherlock's life which would have caused the same reaction. No there has to be something else as well."
John felt very uncomfortable when Mycroft then narrowed his eyes at him. He was almost inclined to fidget, which was not something that usually happened to him anymore.
"It's you," Mycroft finally decided after what had to have been some of the most awkward minutes of John's life.
"Me?" was his instant response.
"Yes you," Mycroft replied and for the first time John thought the other man was looking at him as if he wasn't an insect; "you are the difference."
As they stared at each other it was as if a light went on behind the other man's eyes.
"He trusts you," were the words that were whispered almost like a prayer.
This was getting weird; Mycroft's tone almost sounded like awe. John did not think that revelation was worth awe; he didn't trust easily anymore, but trust wasn't extraordinary. He knew that he trusted Sherlock; not quite in a conventional way, because there was nothing conventional about the man, but he did trust him. Sherlock may have defined himself as a High Functioning Sociopath, but whatever controls Sherlock put on himself they were definitely geared to the greater good.
"And?" he asked, since Mycroft seemed to think this explained everything.
"My dear doctor," Mycroft said, leaning back in his chair and steepleing his fingers in a gesture that was awfully similar to Sherlock, "I do not believe you realise how significant this is. Sherlock has trusted no one since the incident which caused his amnesia, come to think of it I believe he may only have trusted five people in his entire life."
That did make it a bit more significant.
"And you think that and the case have triggered him to start remembering?" John asked, not that it was really a question. "So what should I look out for?"
There was no question in his mind that he had to help Sherlock through this; the man was his friend. At his question, Mycroft's face went blank and he knew without a doubt options were being considered and scenarios drawn up. He just hoped Mycroft didn't expect him to stay out of it, because that could result in the man ending up on the wrong end of a gun. If there was one thing John was serious about, it was his friends.
"I am going to reveal some things to you now that you will have trouble believing," Mycroft said after what felt like an eternity, "but believe them. Everything I am about to tell you is perfectly true and if you wish to help Sherlock you will need all the information."
That sounded more than a little ominous.
"You'd be surprised what I'd believe," he replied; since Afghanistan and then taking up with Sherlock he had seen more things than the old him would ever have imagined.
Mycroft smiled; it was unsettling.
"Are you familiar with the works of J.K. Rowling?"
That really was not the kind of question John had expected and he almost laughed, but Mycroft appeared to be completely serious.
"Um, yes," he said since you had to have been living under a rock not to know something about Harry Potter.
He was never admitting that he had read them all of course, although as he thought about it he realised Mycroft probably already knew just by looking at him.
"What would you do if I told you they are not so much fiction as propaganda to indoctrinate the population so that when the reality of the situation is revealed they do not react inappropriately?" Mycroft asked in a very matter of fact tone.
"I'd laugh," he replied without hesitation.
"That would be unfortunate," was the calm response, "because it is, in fact, the truth."
John just sat there waiting for the punch line of the joke.
"You're serious," he eventually said when Mycroft's expression did not change.
He was aware that Sherlock had a very odd sense of humour, which he had no doubt Mycroft shared, if the man had one at all, but this did not appear to be a joke.
"Completely," Mycroft replied, "and before you ask, no I am not a wizard, Sherlock is the only wizard in our family."
At that John almost did laugh, but managed to catch himself and took a leaf out of Sherlock's book and analysed the situation.
"He doesn't have a wand," he pointed out the first hole he could find in the assertion.
Surprisingly Mycroft reached into his inside pocket and then placed something on the desk. It was long and thin and looked rather like a wand.
"Magic is part of what he has forgotten," Mycroft told him in a tone that begged no argument. "I have held this for him from the day he put it down in case he remembers and wants it back. I think perhaps you should carry it now."
John honestly did not know what to think or what to do; this was beyond insane.
"Magic is not real," he said as his logical mind pointed out the obvious.
"It is very real," Mycroft replied in the same even tone, "just hidden. The magical war was also real and after it was concluded the magical world decided they could not allow it to happen again. There is a long term plan to introduce magical and muggle society; children's' books are a small part of it."
War was one thing John understood and that gained his attention.
"Something happened to Sherlock in the war didn't it," he said as things began to add up.
He had seen men with no memories, either because part of their brain had been damaged or what they had seen was so horrible they had blanked it out, and he knew what that looked like.
It occurred to him that he appeared to have just accepted something completely crazy and he realised he had been spending so much time around Sherlock Holmes that he was becoming good at things like that. The facts were revealing themselves and he was simply taking them in to be analysed when necessary. If he had been the worrying sort, he might have reacted to that revelation, but if he had been the worrying sort he would not have been sharing a flat with Sherlock.
"Sherlock has always been different, even as a small boy," Mycroft replied with a nod, "but the war changed him. There is a real magical school in Scotland, although it is not called Hogwarts, and he attended it; he was, as you can probably guess, what we shall refer to as a Slytherin, for ease of recognition."
John wasn't sure if he should just start running now or if it was already too late. Life with Sherlock was crazy, but this was that one step further.
"Although Muggle born, my brother's brilliance drew him to the attention of both sides in the war. The prejudices as described in the books did exist, but, as you can imagine, in real life were not so cut and dried," Mycroft told him as he did his very best to make his head believe that this was not a fictional conversation. "He reasoned that the light would win and hence joined the side of the dark in order to spy for the light; he found it exciting. From all accounts he was a very good spy until someone betrayed him. He was tortured for information over the course of what I believe was one week before the stronghold where he was being held was overrun. He was virtually catatonic for several months until one day he just woke up and began acting as if he had never heard of magic, nor the war. He distanced himself from everything and has continually refused all offers of help from myself or any of his old acquaintances."
Totally blocking out a whole section of a life without losing everything else had to be virtually impossible, but John had learned not to put anything beyond a mind like Sherlock's.
"But why now, why would trusting me be breaking down his barriers?" he asked as he tried to put the puzzle together without all the pieces.
He was subjected once more to one of Mycroft's stares.
"The man who betrayed Sherlock," Mycroft said eventually and paused, looking directly into his eyes, "was his lover, he has been functionally asexual ever since."
For a moment John did not see the connection and then it hit him like he had been slapped in the face.
"Are you saying..?" he didn't finish the thought.
They were flatmates, nothing more.
"What I am saying," Mycroft told him evenly, "is that Sherlock locked his sexuality away in some recess of his brilliant mind and it has had no reason to re-emerge. However, you have gained his trust in a way no one else has managed to do and at a subconscious level this has triggered that part of him to begin to resurface. With it are the memories associated with the buried parts of his psyche."
Very little made John's thoughts stall completely these days, but that did. It was kind of huge.
"We already had the conversation of married to his work," he pointed out as his mind threw up all sorts of problems with Mycroft's hypotheses.
"You have become part of his work," Mycroft pointed out, "and I did say subconscious. What we have to worry about is the emergence of these things into his conscious."
The thought of the level of trauma that Sherlock had to have been through to cause such a complete shutdown of part of his psyche filled John with horror, because Sherlock did not deal with trauma like anyone he had ever met. Bad things just seemed to bounce off him and the idea of what might be coming back to his friend made him shudder.
"How do you feel about my brother?" Mycroft asked and dragged him out of his musings.
"What?" he said and then realised how stupid that must have sounded. "I don't know," he corrected himself as his brain caught up, "I've never thought ... I mean ... I'm not ... and ..."
"Not completely averse then," Mycroft concluded, interrupting his blathering, "that will have to do."
John wanted to protest, but he opened his mouth and nothing came out. For a moment the thought of how his parents would take to their other child being gay as well flicked across his mind, but he silenced it ruthlessly. He did not fancy Sherlock, he just found him fascinating and they were friends, however improbable that had seemed at first.
"There are some details I need to tell you and some contact information you will need to know," Mycroft said, brain clearly working at the astronomical speeds that left mere mortals in the dust.
For a moment John considered objecting, but then he realised that he had to help Sherlock no matter what and, for once, that meant listening to Mycroft.
When John arrived home Sherlock was sitting in his usual chair and he was met by a cold stare.
"I've been to see Mycroft," he said before Sherlock could demand anything of him; "I needed to ask him some questions."
Sherlock did not look in the least bit surprised, which was what he had expected and why he had decided to be upfront from the outset.
"About me?" was Sherlock's hostile reply.
"Of course about you," he replied and threw his coat over a pile of discarded boxes before sitting down in his own chair; "I'm not likely to talk to him about anything else, am I?"
His straightforward approach was confusing Sherlock, he could tell. There weren't any obvious signs, but John had learned to read the less obvious ones and he could tell that Sherlock had expected him to be cagier about what he had been doing.
It wasn't a question that Sherlock asked often and John knew the other man did not need to ask it now.
"You tell me," he said simply.
That earned him a frown and a glare; sometimes Sherlock liked to deceive himself, but he wasn't getting away with it this time. John saw the flash of uncertainty that shifted across his friend's face and he waited. Sherlock had to admit that there was something wrong or they would never get beyond square one.
"I am exhibiting signs of some form of mental aberration," Sherlock finally said after they had been engaged in a staring contest for nearly a minute.
John sat forward in his chair and he knew he was getting somewhere. Sherlock was one big mental aberration in the scheme of things, but they both knew they weren't talking about Sherlock's usual issues.
"And if I am going to help you I needed to know what it could be," he said, making sure that Sherlock could read everything in his eyes, "so I asked Mycroft. You have dissociative amnesia brought on by PTSD and probably some of it is post-traumatic amnesia as well; we're more alike than we realised."
Sherlock's face took on that blank expression John knew meant his friend was processing that information. He was well aware that deducing something yourself and being told something were often different things and although probably less different for Sherlock, given his complete faith in his own abilities, it was still not the same.
"I have no memory of anything in my life which could be considered that traumatic," Sherlock eventually said, "or anything that would hint I am repressing such an event."
"Which is the point," John replied, since they both knew it. "Being you, you have undoubtedly done a better job of rearranging your mind to wipe everything away."
Only a mind as complex and sometimes inexplicable as Sherlock's could have done such a thorough job on his own memory. Mycroft had explained many things and John knew they were in for one hell of a ride.
"What have I forgotten?" Sherlock all but demanded in a sudden flurry of motion.
If he had not become used to it, John might have felt intimidated as his friend was suddenly looming over him.
"A lot," was all he replied; he was not about to put things into his friend's head, "but I'm not telling you what. You need to remember or not remember on your own and I'm going to be there for you at every step of the way."
Very little frightened Sherlock, he always seemed to be above such simple human emotion, but John saw a flicker of it then. It seemed the only thing that could really get to the genius was the suspicion he was not completely in control of his own mind.
"I do not understand this," Sherlock admitted eventually and seemed just a little lost
From Sherlock that was huge; John had heard his friend admit he did not understand certain things about human interaction, but this was about himself and Sherlock tended to be very clear on his own motivations.
"No one really does," John said and gently placed a hand on Sherlock's arm, "but if anyone has half a chance it's you. The last case triggered something and you're starting to remember, so what we have to do is make sure you're prepared to deal with it."
Sherlock's eyes were on John's hand where it was still resting gently on Sherlock's arm, but he did not move it away. There was self-examination going on in that genius brain, he could tell.
"Not just the case," Sherlock said eventually and looked back into his eyes.
Then, with a frown, Sherlock was gone, off to his own room and John decided it was better to give his friend a little space for now. The sound of a violin soon reverberated through the house and John touched his pocket where Sherlock's wand was now safely stowed.
John spent the next two days watching Sherlock like a hawk and worrying endlessly. It was actually a strangely comforting state of affairs, because it let his doctor instincts run wild. He made sure Sherlock ate, had enough liquids and, even once, sleep. It was more than he usually managed and he had the kitchen spotless after the first half day, just in case. Just in case what, he had no idea, but it seemed like the right thing to do.
Sherlock on the other hand didn't really seem to be doing anything apart from thinking. He spoke when spoken to, but did not initiate any conversation. John caught his friend watching him carefully from time to time, but that was as close as they got to real communication of the non-functional kind. It was more than obvious to John that Sherlock was trying to force what he was sure had to be left to happen naturally, i.e. the memories to return. John just bothered himself with worrying about what would happen when they did and what he could do about it.
He kept Sherlock's wand on him at all times, carefully stowed inside his shirt where it was safe should Sherlock need it. Sometimes memories came back all at once, sometimes bit by bit and he just watched for any signs.
"Something is happening to me," Sherlock said and the tone was half analytical, half panicked, which was quite a feat even for Sherlock.
John's mind flicked into doctor mode and he crossed the room in two strides, crouching down beside his friend's chair and putting himself at eyelevel with Sherlock.
"What is it?" he asked, hoping that he was ready for anything.
"I can feel something," Sherlock said, voice tight and nowhere near as coldly rational as usual, "inside. It's moving."
Sherlock tensed, grabbing his hand in an unusually needy gesture.
"Tell me about it," John encouraged, not sure if this was a physical manifestation of what was going on in Sherlock's mind, or something else; either way he had to make sure Sherlock was alright.
"John," Sherlock said, other hand reaching out and gripping his bicep hard, "I don't ... it's ... I've never felt this before. Energy, so much energy; it burns."
It wouldn't have made much sense to someone who did not know what Sherlock had forgotten, but John had a nasty suspicion it might be magic making an appearance. He did not begin to understand it, but Mycroft had told him enough so he could help Sherlock.
"I think you do know what it is," he encouraged gently; "you've just forgotten."
"But I don't know," Sherlock said, sounding on the verge of panic.
John just kept looking into his friend's eyes.
"Try to stay calm," he said, holding himself to the same standard, "just let things bubble to the surface. You understand, somewhere deep down you know what is happening. Try to let yourself remember."
Sherlock appeared so far from his usual emotionless self and John's heart went out to his friend. This had to be terrifying and for once he had to be the unshakable rock. Usually Sherlock was a whirlwind of logic, a force that was like a gyroscope, pulling others into sync and keeping them all level even when he himself was chaotic, but right then, John was the only thing stabilising the moment.
"There's so much," Sherlock whispered to him with almost awe in his voice, "so much power ... so much ... so much ... so much magic."
Sherlock's eyes flew open in shock and his breath came in little gasps, so much so that John reached out to steady Sherlock.
"Oh, John," Sherlock said, eyes wide and mouth open, trying to snatch in breath, "I'm ... sorry."
He had no idea why Sherlock was apologising, not until it hit him. Sherlock's eyes turned silver, no whites, no iris, no pupil, just silver and that was the last thing John saw as energy jumped straight at him, directly into his brain via his own eyes. He would have screamed, but every nerve in his body froze as white fire lanced into his mind, trying to burn him away. It was like no force he had ever known and all he wanted to do was rip himself away from it. He tried to escape, but it consumed him and he could feel himself being taken apart, synapse by overloaded synapse.
He could have given up then, let it take him, but he clung to the knowledge that Sherlock needed him. It was the only thought in his head that would make sense and he used it. Trying to run from the force did not work and so, logically, all he could do was surrender to it. He stopped fighting, let it in and allowed it to flow into his body, along his nerves and into his cells. It seemed to touch every part of him, almost as if it was exploring, and it burned, but it was not a consuming flame, not like it had seemed at first. It flowed through him like a current, one long continuous stream and, as he began to pass out, he faintly wondered if he would ever wake up.
John came back to consciousness feeling, well he wasn't quite sure how he was feeling really, everything was a bit of a muddle. For some reason he couldn't quite put his finger on he expected to be in pain, but he wasn't. His limbs were tingling, as was most of the rest of him, he was incredibly tired and there was a heavy feeling in the centre of his chest, but other than that he felt fine. Even his shoulder wasn't aching, which it tended to do if he had been immobile for any length of time. Eventually he decided to open his eyes and find out what was going on.
Almost as soon as he did there was a blond man leaning over him, a blond man he had never seen before, which was odd because he didn't really expect complete strangers in his own bedroom.
"Hello, Dr Watson," the man said in a tone that was startlingly familiar to all men of the medical profession, "just try and relax, I'm Draco Malloy and I'm a mediwizard. You've been through a magical explosion and it's taken a lot out of you."
Several hundred things ran through John's head at the same time, including the analysis of platinum blond hair, sharp features and grey eyes, half of the plot of Harry Potter, and what had happened just before he passed out: that won.
"Sherlock," he said, trying to sit up and finding it very difficult indeed.
"Is doing well," Malloy told him and gently pushed him back onto the bed; "he's downstairs in his own room. Sherlock's brother had a magical watch put on the building, so when Sherlock's magic broke through it alerted us. Harry is keeping an eye on him while I am with you."
"Harry?" John asked, because he just had to.
He could all but see the mental eye roll.
"Yes," Malloy said as if he'd answered the question a hundred times, "the same self-sacrificing bastard from the books. He didn't quite win the war singlehandedly like Ms Rowling liked to make out, but he had a good try. Harry's an Auror and my partner in the field; we attend magical emergencies like this one."
"Mycroft made sure you got this one," John deduced.
That earned him a genuine smile.
"Of course," the wizard replied, "and we owe it to Sherlock; his information saved our lives more than once towards the end."
That was something John could easily believe; when Sherlock did something he never did it by halves.
"Why did Sherlock's magic explode?" he asked, falling back on needing to know rather than wondering about the distant past.
"Simply put, because he hasn't been using it," Malloy told him as if understanding his need. "Magical children often have outbursts in times of stress because they have no way of regulating their magic normally. Sherlock has been like a child, only he stockpiled it without even realising he was doing it, when his control slipped because his walls started to come down it exploded ... through you."
That part caught John's attention.
"Through me?" he asked, rather shocked.
When Malloy had said magical explosion, he had assumed there had just been the equivalent to a small bomb.
"Yes," Malloy told him with a distant look in his eyes for a moment, "and it is likely that is the only reason this house is still standing."
That was a very ominous thought.
"It's not supposed to be physically possible to damn up that amount of magic in one person," Malloy said and shook his head as if bringing himself back to the present, "but somehow Sherlock did and somehow you channelled it, Doctor."
"John," he said in a vague tone as he considered that revelation.
"Then you can call me Draco, John," Draco told him and peered at something on his chest.
It was only then he noticed there was some sort of medallion sitting on his torso and it was where the heavy feeling was coming from.
"What's that?" he asked, pretty sure it had to be some form of magical medical device.
"It's a stabiliser," Draco replied and smiled at him, seemingly quite happy with whatever check he had just made, "it is draining the excess magic from your body and stabilising the rest that has bonded with your system."
John was getting too many shocks at the same time.
"Bonded?" he asked in what he suspected was a very helpless, somewhat stupid tone.
"Indeed," was the response; "normally that amount of magic passing through someone would literally fry then, somewhat like lightening. That's what I meant by 'somehow channeled'; you adapted and survived and in doing so, congratulations, you have gone from being a Muggle to being a squib."
He wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry; this was too much.
"I'm going back to sleep now," is what he actually decided, since he really was very tired and he just couldn't deal with all this yet.
Draco gave him another smile.
"Probably a very good idea, John," Draco said and he found himself closing his eyes even before his companion had finished speaking.
The next time John woke up it was because he was suddenly sure something was wrong. Running on instinct rather than anything coherent and feeling like he was back in Afghanistan when wounded were being brought in, in the middle of the night or something, he sat up, climbed out of bed and just went where his hind brain told him to. He was down the stairs and into Sherlock's room before he had even thought about it.
What he found might have made a lesser man back out again, but he'd already proved on several occasions he wasn't a lesser man and he was also slightly unhinged. Sherlock was crouched in the far corner of his bed in a curled, defensive position, holding a wand, which John assumed belonged to one of the two men standing towards the back wall in what could only be described as the universal stance of 'we're not going to hurt you'.
Sherlock seemed to have the same type of device that was still somehow adhered to John's chest on his and he might have been awake, but John knew a flashback when he saw it. He had no idea what Sherlock was seeing, but it wasn't his own bedroom in 221b Baker Street.
"Sherlock," he said in a very firm, but calm tone and stepped towards his friend.
He wasn't sure what he was doing, but instinct seemed to be working so far, so he kept going. Staring, frightened eyes glared at him, pupils almost completely blown to make them nearly black. He just waited then, giving the new information time to sink in to Sherlock's probably whirling brain and finally he saw the glare soften.
"John?" Sherlock asked in a very uncertain voice.
"Yes, Sherlock," he replied, stepping just a little closer, "it's me. The nightmare, it's not real; you're safe; you're home at Baker Street."
Sherlock frowned just a little at that, as if he didn't quite comprehend what John was telling him.
"Baker Street," Sherlock more mouthed to himself then said, muttering it under his breath and looking down at the wand in his hand.
When Sherlock looked back up at him, John could see all the fear and pain etched on his friend's face. There was so much confusion there as well.
"John," Sherlock said, sounding so lost it hurt, "what's happening?"
That was his cue, he knew it without a doubt. He stepped forward, took the wand from Sherlock's hand and then he almost instantly had an arm full of shaking, lost man. There was really only one thing to do, so he wrapped Sherlock in the warmest, most comforting embrace he knew how and sat down on the bed.
Ten minutes later Sherlock still had his face buried in John's shoulder, but they were sitting more comfortably, half lying really, the wand was back with its owner, Draco, and John had finally met Harry Potter, or rather Proctor in the real world. Harry really did have startlingly green eyes and messy black hair, but he was wearing rather stylish glasses and jeans and a t-shirt that fitted perfectly.
"You really shouldn't have exerted so much energy yet," Draco told him after casting what he assumed was yet another diagnostic spell on him.
"Yes, well I knew something was wrong," he said simply, looking down at the dark curls beside his chin, "and I didn't get much choice in the matter; my body is trained to react before my brain gets there."
In war sometimes that was the difference between life and death.
"How did you know?" Harry asked from where the man was standing in the corner watching Draco work "There is a silencing charm on this room, no one outside can hear what is going on inside."
John just sat there and thought about that for a minute; he had assumed he had heard something.
"I don't know," he finally said and instinctively tightened his hold on Sherlock, just a little.
The previous day, since he had noticed the date on Sherlock's phone and he had lost a lot of time, he had been in control, but now he just felt confused. This was not a world he understood, not when there were two fictional characters standing in the room and Sherlock was anything but his usual controlled self. Logically he knew what Mycroft had told him, but his brain wasn't feeling particularly logical.
"I think I have heard that enough for one lifetime," Draco said with a long suffering sigh; "you soldier types are all the same; act and then think later."
"It keeps us alive," was Harry's equally as long suffering response.
It was clear the pair had had that discussion more than once.
"Sometimes it keeps other people alive as well," John added his own two pennies' worth and Harry smiled at him for his trouble.
Draco gave him a long cool look, but it was nothing compared to what Sherlock could dish out when in a bad mood, so it was water off John's back.
"Harry," Draco said before John and Harry could gang up on him anymore, "how about exercising your culinary abilities and rustling up some sandwiches and tea? I want John to replace some of the energy he's used before he tries to sleep again."
John didn't bother pointing out he really didn't feel like sleeping any time soon, since he was rather hungry.
"One day I will teach you to make something without asking a house elf," Harry said, but did head towards the door. "How do you take your tea, John?"
"He'll have it strong with milk and sugar," Draco said before he could reply; "energy replacement, remember."
It seemed very old fashioned, but John knew a few army surgeons who swore by the same concoction, so he just smiled and nodded when Harry gave him a questioning look. He couldn't help wondering if Harry used similar methods to cope with Draco as he did with Sherlock.
For half an hour after Harry returned they talked about nothing and polished off the doorstop sandwiches Harry had made. It was clear their kitchen had been restocked by someone, because John was very sure they hadn't had any uncut bread in there. Sherlock did not move through the whole thing, John was very sure, because he was keeping a close eye on the younger man, but about twenty minutes in he did feel Sherlock beginning to relax. By the time he had finished his last sandwich he was pretty sure Sherlock was asleep.
"I think he's drifted off," he said when he was all but sure.
"Good," Draco replied, picking up what looked like a slate off the bedside table.
John had realised it acted like several medical machines all rolled into one when he had glanced at it and seen continually changing numbers.
"I had hoped not to have to give him a potion, he needs as much natural rest as he can get," Draco added, seemingly satisfied. "You should try to sleep as well; this whole experience has been very rough on your system."
"I can't yet," John replied honestly, "not until I'm sure he's okay. It's the doctor in me, can't help it."
Draco gave him a very long look.
"Well in this case I am the doctor," Draco told him, "but I do understand. As long as you promise not to do anything more strenuous than lie back and drink tea, I think we can come to a compromise."
John smiled at that; he was beginning to think he liked Draco.
"I'll do my best," he promised.
There was of course one other thing keeping him awake; abject curiosity.
"So," he said, looking between the two men, "did you know Sherlock well in school?"
"I didn't," Harry said, seemingly perfectly happy to talk about it, "at least not until the last year really."
"We were in the same year and the same house," Draco added, which made John do a few calculations in his head and come up with the wrong numbers. "Yes, I know, the dates in the books are not accurate," Draco said as soon as John opened his mouth to point that out. "I knew of Sherlock, but I didn't get to know him until our third year. We were paired for a Potions project and we came to the conclusion that continuing the acquaintance was to our mutual benefit."
John saw Harry roll his eyes and couldn't help agreeing; why Draco hadn't just said they were friends was beyond him.
"I know the school isn't called Hogwarts," he said, finding his curiosity piqued, "but are there really four houses?"
"Yep," Harry said with a grin, "and there really is a hat that decides which house you're going to be in, but it's done when the prospective first years visit the school with their families a week before term begins rather than at the opening feast."
That sounded a lot more sensible.
"That was when I was all but adopted by the Wesleys," Harry said with a smile. "Molly saw that I was alone and immediately took me under her wing."
"I think she was only three steps in front of half the mothers there," Draco commented dryly; "you were adorable at eleven and no one had realised how much trouble you could get into at that point."
John would have laughed if he hadn't been worried about disturbing Sherlock.
Mycroft had given him information he needed to help Sherlock, but Harry and Draco were full of all sorts of other information that John was far too curious to let lie. Hoping that his companions were in a giving mood, he began to mine for information.
Exactly when John had fallen asleep he wasn't sure, but he woke up just as rapidly as the previous time. Once again he found that his slumber was being disturbed because of Sherlock; his friend was sitting up in the bed staring at his hands.
"Sherlock?" he asked, still groggy from sleep.
When Sherlock looked at him, he barely recognised his usually rational flatmate; there was absolutely nothing rational about Sherlock now. Before he could really comprehend what was going on, John was playing catch up again as Sherlock reared off the bed and ran towards the door.
"Harry," he heard Draco shout as the door opened, "don't let him leave."
It was only then that John realised only Draco had been in the room with them. He knew that Draco probably wanted him to stay in bed, but there was no way he was letting Sherlock cope with whatever was going on alone, so he threw off what was left of the covers and followed. He found Sherlock standing stock still in the living room still staring at his hands as if they didn't really belong to him. Draco was just inside the door and Harry seemed to have come in through the kitchen; no one was moving.
"John," Draco said, eyes firmly on Sherlock, but clearly knowing he was there, "try and talk to him. We need to get him back to bed if possible."
The way Sherlock was swaying slightly was more than indication enough to John that Draco knew exactly what he was talking about, so he carefully walked towards his flatmate.
"Sherlock," he said gently, not having a clue what was going on.
This time there was no response at all, Sherlock just stayed exactly where he was. John could feel something strange in the air, almost like a sound that couldn't he heard by the human ear, only felt. It was a bit like some of his experience on the battle field, where distant artillery caused the ground to tremble. Something was going to happen, he knew that without a doubt, but he had no idea what.
"Sherlock," he tried again and this time Sherlock made a noise, but he wasn't sure it was in answer to him.
It was a quiet little whine and the feeling was ramping up. He went to step towards Sherlock, but before he could his friend suddenly thrust his hands out palms down. John was honestly shocked as real flames simply erupted from Sherlock's palms, hitting the carpet in one long burst.
"Bloody hell," came from Harry's direction, but John was far more worried about Sherlock.
The magical stabilizer on Sherlock's chest went pop and promptly fell off and then Sherlock was swaying far more than was healthy. John reacted and crossed the final distance between them, catching Sherlock as his friend's legs finally seemed to give up and pulling Sherlock into a sitting position on the sofa. Sherlock was trembling and John did the only sensible thing, he pulled his friend towards him and held him close, lending his strength and support.
"What the hell was that?" he asked, trying to keep his voice calm, because he did not want to upset Sherlock further.
"Anther magical outburst," Draco said, walking over and picking up the broken stabiliser from the floor, "much smaller, but still an outburst. It shouldn't have been able to happen with this in place."
"Well it did," John said, feeling just a little annoyed, because he was way out of his depth and didn't know what to do to help, "so what do we do?"
Draco wandered over towards Harry and showed him what was left of the device and they had a quiet conversation that John did not bother to listen to. He was more worried about Sherlock.
"We need to get Sherlock somewhere a magical outburst will not be noticed," Draco said from where he was now standing the other side of the living room. "It's not safe here."
Looking at the black spot on the carpet, John had to agree, but he wasn't so sure taking Sherlock out of the flat would be a good idea. Sherlock was barely responding to anything except him and removing Sherlock from his familiar environment could be a very bad thing.
"It would have to be somewhere Sherlock knows," he decided in what was a professional opinion as well as a personal one.
Harry and Draco looked at each other and had a very fast non-verbal conversation.
"School's in mid term," Harry pointed out eventually.
"Then it will have to be Malloy Hall," Draco decided in a tone that John suspected meant the decision was made. "Sherlock stayed there one summer before the war really began. We spent the whole time trying to find my great great great great Uncle Marius' vault; an old family legend. He knows it well and my parents are in Switzerland so there is no one there."
Something flashed through Draco's eyes when he mentioned his parents, but John was not Sherlock, he could not tell exactly what it was.
"Sherlock," he said, placing a hand on Sherlock's arm to drag his friend back to the present, "Malloy Hall, what do you think?"
Sherlock blinked at him for a moment and then nodded.
John could only imagine what was going on in Sherlock's head, but the silence was eerie. Sometimes Sherlock didn't talk, just like he had warned John when he moved in, but it was never like this, never because Sherlock couldn't do it. He watched Sherlock carefully all the time now and he saw little things, tension that came and went, small expressions and he could only conclude that Sherlock's powerful mind was putting everything back in the right order. Sherlock had not said anything since that question in the bedroom.
"I'll organise the port key," Harry said and promptly disappeared with a soft whooshing sound.
It was much more delicate than the bang J.K. had insisted occurred.
"Do you want to pack," Draco asked, tone much gentler now, "or do you want me to just guess?"
John looked at Sherlock who did not appear to be taking any notice of them.
"You guess, thanks," he said, since he was pretty sure Sherlock would not remain so passive if he tried to get up, "I don't think I can leave him. My case is under my bed, I'm not sure Sherlock has one; he did an experiment in the last one."
Draco gave him a little smile at that; it was a little crazy.
End of Part 1