John opened his eyes and squinted at the sunlight pouring into his room. He must have forgotten to close the blinds when he came in last night. Christ, he thought, holding his hand over his eyes, what time had he gotten in? He couldn’t remember drinking, but this headache … it was like the worst hangover he’d ever had in his life, and it had somehow taken root in every muscle of his body.
Rolling over to look at the time, he blinked at the two unfamiliar items on his bedside table. A small potion bottle, and … his wand.
With a surge, he remembered everything that had happened the night before. Mycroft flooing to Baker Street. Hogwarts. Sherlock debating with the portraits in the headmaster’s office. The Forbidden Forest … Oh yes, he definitely remembered what had happened in the Forbidden Forest last night.
He also remembered Madam Pomfrey’s instructions to take the pain potion when he woke up this morning. She had been reluctant to let him leave, but had finally agreed if he promised to bring the prescribed potions and to contact her if there were any further problems.
Reaching up gingerly with his left hand, careful not to jar his bad shoulder from long months of practice, he picked up the bottle … and realized his shoulder didn’t hurt at all. And that he could feel his fingers.
Merlin, his shoulder!
He sat straight up in bed, and then fell back on the pillows with a groan. Not smart, he told himself. Take the pain potion first she’d said. He carefully thumbed it open and downed the potion before shutting his eyes and waiting for it to take effect.
And then he blessed magic with every atom in his body because he’d forgotten how fast it was. Poof, just like that, the lingering pain from the cruciatus curse was gone. He smiled up at the ceiling and then reached out with his left arm and slowly raised the arm all the way over his head. Just like that. Easily, as if it were nothing.
As if he had always been able to do that. As if he hadn’t had a career-ending injury in Afghanistan just a matter of months ago, one that had left him with ongoing pain issues and nerve damage.
He practically bounded out of bed and stood, twisting his arm, his shoulder, in every possible direction. There was some stiffness—to be expected, considering how little he’d been able to move some of these muscles for the last six months—but there was no actual obstruction. Madame Pomfrey had performed a miracle and given him the full use of his arm back. Oh, there was a bit of pulling around the scar tissue, but the nerve endings were healed … which meant the arm was fully functional again. He could be a surgeon again.
His breath caught. Christ, he could be a surgeon again!
Except … how was he supposed to explain any of this to the NHS? A certain amount of nerve regeneration and healing was always possible, but this? He laughed, and tried to ignore the mix of hysteria and bitterness in the sound. Having his arm back in full, working order was enough of an unexpected blessing. It wasn’t like he was going to go back to the army at this point. He had a full life here with Sherlock, and anyway, John had never made a habit of looking backward. Life was all about the forward motion … even if you got stalled once in a while.
Right now, though, he had no complaints. The sun was shining, his headache was gone, his shoulder felt better than it had since that patrol in Afghanistan and .. Merlin, how had he forgotten? He had his magic back.
He stared now at his wand and reached for it, remembering the rush the night before as the magic had coursed through him. The agonizing combination of electric shock and the cruciatus curse that had made him feel burned clean, hollow … worse than anything he’d ever felt. But that had been followed by the flood of magic filling in those empty places. Or, well, he supposed that was hyperbole, because really he hadn’t felt that part at all. He’d been too busy trying to find his feet again, needing to somehow defend himself and his friends armed with nothing more than a muggle gun loaded with silver bullets. (Because, really, they had been going up against werewolves, and what did it hurt?)
He did, very clearly, remember the disbelief when his shield charm had actually … shielded. His magic had worked, for the first time in twenty years.
Gingerly picking up his wand, he reminded himself what Hermione had said the night before about his very much not registering as a muggle anymore. The wand felt alive in his hand. This could work. It had worked last night when he’d lit the fire for Sherlock.
Oh, Merlin. Sherlock. Everything had moved so fast last night, he hadn’t had time to think … Sherlock Holmes now knew about magic.
He could just imagine all the experiments his flatmate was going to want to perform now.
Not that there was time for that. When John stumbled down the stairs to the sitting room, he found Mycroft and Sherlock staring as usual … except, this time, they were both looking at him—Mycroft with some concern, Sherlock with anticipation.
Remembering their conversation the night before, John sighed. He had promised to show off his magic before Mycroft learned of it from someone else—though, with Mycroft and his intelligence services, John had doubts about that being possible.
Still, with Sherlock looking almost like it was Christmas, how could he resist? He was pretty sure he remembered the spell, too.
Gripping his wand—which he didn’t even remember carrying down with him—he asked, “Would you like some tea?” Then, concentrating hard, he flicked his wand and mentally said the incantation … and nothing happened. The look of disappointment on Sherlock’s face mirrored his own, he was sure. But then there was a rumble from the kitchen, a box came flying out of the room, hitting the back of John’s head and scattering PG Tips teabags around his chair.
There was a long silence and then, “Obviously, I’m out of practice,” John said, tone as dry as he could make it. “I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t the boiling kettle. Would you like some hot water with that?”
Mycroft was actually speechless, but Sherlock had already regained his composure. “Most people offer milk or sugar, John.”
John was considering the teabags scattered about the rug. “I suppose the water is rather understood when offering tea,” he murmured just before waving his wand and gathering all the sachets back into their box which he took lightly in his hand as he stood. “I’ll just do this the old-fashioned way then, shall I?”
He headed for the kitchen as Mycroft finally found his voice. “John. You’re…”
“A wizard again,” John finished. “Yes, apparently. There was an … incident … last night involving a cruciatus curse and, somehow, an electric shock from my mobile that … jumpstarted things. I don’t understand it at all, but … it happened.”
“I thought you said that was not possible?”
John turned back to the doorway. “Apparently it’s not. Knowledge of the curse itself has apparently been deliberately lost for centuries and there’s no known cure … although, centuries ago, there was no such thing as a mobile phone, either. I don’t know how the electric charge in the phone was enough to make a difference, but … it melted in my hand so I’m inclined to think it contributed somehow. Either way, though, it’s unprecedented—and unlikely to be repeated.”
“Not surprising,” Sherlock said from his chair, “John has always been a statistical anomaly.”
“Ta, Sherlock,” John said, turning back to pour boiling water over the teabags before heading back to his seat.
Mycroft was watching him with an intensity John hadn’t seen since their warehouse meeting. “It’s gratifying to have proof that you are, in fact, one in a million—as if living with Sherlock wasn’t already proof enough.”
John was just opening his mouth to respond when there was a knocking at the window. He looked up to see a rather elegant tawny owl watching him. Uh-oh. He opened the window with a gesture from his wand and the bird flew in, dropping a letter in his lap before immediately flying away. “That can’t be good,” he said out loud.
He glanced up to see identical looks of shock on both faces, and longed for his camera because obviously that was never going to happen again. He wondered if anyone had invented a photography spell that could be enacted with a blink, or if you could extract an image from a memory. Wouldn’t that be handy? Even more convenient than using a phone, because you wouldn’t need your hands, just your eyes that you had with you anyway…
He blinked. “Oh. Sorry. Wizarding mail.” He picked up the stiff parchment envelope and grimaced at the Ministry of Magic seal. “Damn.”
“Problem?” Mycroft’s eyebrows were almost at his hairline.
“Apparently I’ve been performing magic in a muggle household and that’s illegal per the Statute of Secrecy,” John said, skimming the letter. “There are aurors on their way.”
Now Sherlock looked concerned … and just a little bit anticipatory. “Are they going to arrest you?”
“No,” John said, reaching for his phone and dialling, “But we’d best make sure nobody gets obliviated. Call Anthea, Mycroft, I mean it. Right awa… Oh, hi. Harry? We’ve got a problem. Apparently there’s been magic performed here in my muggle home and the aurors are on their way to ‘take care of’ the problem—and I don’t think that’s particularly fair to Sherlock and Mycroft especially after last night. Anything you can do about that? Yeah? Great. Hurry, would you?”
He had barely rung off when a series of popping noises came from the hallway.
John moves to stand in front of the door, hands carefully lifted to show his wand as three aurors burst into the room, wands in hand. “Look,” he told them, “Everything’s under control here.”
“Sir? You’re in violation of the Statute of Secrecy. Please step aside.”
John could hear Sherlock starting to rise out of his chair, but he waved a hand at him, attention focused on the man standing in front of him. “No, you don’t have all the facts, and I’m not going to let you make a mistake. This is my place of residence and these two gentlemen both have legal knowledge of the wizarding world.”
The tall auror shook his head. “That’s not possible. This flat does not have a magical signature and is not registered as belonging to a wizard. As you know, a license is necessary in the middle of muggle London for identification purposes.”
“Nevertheless,” John started, “There are extenuating circumstances you need to know about before you do anything permanent. And you could please stop pointing your wands at my flatmate and his brother.”
“Your flatmate, sir? That doesn’t excuse ... and it doesn’t change the fact that this is a muggle flat.”
John didn’t flinch. “I think you’ll find that it actually changes quite a lot.”
“Sir, we are going to need to see some ID,” the first auror was saying when he was cut off by another crack. John glanced back to see Anthea standing defensively in front of Mycroft.
The wizard in front of him, though, was staring at Anthea. “Ariadne? What are you…?”
“Put your wand down, Reaver. The man you are about to obliviate is the muggle government’s main contact with the wizarding government—not to mention my boss. Do you want to start an Incident?”
“But, I…” The wizard looked flummoxed for a moment, but then looked between John and Sherlock, eyes settling on the detective. “What about the other one?”
“That is Mr Holmes’s brother and also resident of this flat, along with John Watson—the wizard standing in front of you.”
Now one of the other aurors spoke. “I’ve never heard of a John Watson.”
“There’s a good reason for that,” came Harry’s voice from the door. “Stand down, Reaver.”
The tall auror turned, looking flummoxed. “Mr Potter? But…”
“I said, stop pointing your wand at one of the heroes of the Battle of Hogwarts and stand down.” Harry’s voice crackled—literally—with power as he spoke, and John was relieved to see the wand arms of the three aurors drop. Harry looked over at John and gave him a smile. “Hey, John.”
“Hey, Harry. Thanks for coming.”
“It’s no trouble—though I wouldn’t have minded a little more sleep. It was a late night.”
The aurors all nodded, obviously having heard of the events the night before. John could tell by the way they looked at him and Sherlock that they were feeling smug about being “in the know” in front of ignorant muggles.
“But, Mr Potter, er, sir,” the lead auror said, stammering, “This really isn’t something you need involve yourself with, it’s far below your security level. We have it under control. It’s just that this flat is not registered…”
Harry just nodded. “As I said, there’s a good reason for that. John has been living as a muggle since Hogwarts. There hasn’t been any need for him to have a license …” He paused and cocked his head to the side, as if thinking. “Oh, I suppose that he technically should have gotten the license, but … have you had any record of magic being performed here before this week?”
The female auror pulled out a scroll from her robes and scanned it. “No, sir. There has been no magical activity at this location prior to the last 48 hours.”
“Which is why,” Harry said firmly, “He’s not in technical violation of anything.”
The tall auror in the front narrowed his eyes. “But … he performed magic today, sir.”
Harry just snorted. “He’s a wizard, Reaver. And he’s performed, what, one or two spells? In the privacy of his own home after living here … how long, John?”
“About six months,” John said.
“I think we can forgive that, don’t you, Reaver? Especially since the violation is a result of my oversight.” Harry pulled a scroll out of his robes and handed it to John. “I apologize for not getting this to you sooner, John. It’s the application for a wizarding residence license. Like I said, it was a late night.”
It was all John could do not to beam at his old friend. “It was good to see Hogwarts again.”
The other two aurors were staring at John now. “You were there last night? When Mr Potter took down the Neode group?”
Harry laughed. “More like John, here, pulling Ron’s and my bacon from the fire, after Sherlock Holmes—hi, Sherlock—identified the danger in the first place. It’s only been a few hours since the two of them saved my life last night.” His voice sharpened as he accented the words, making the three aurors flinch.
The look Reaver gave John now was entirely different—almost respectful. “You helped Mr Potter last night? Both of you?” He looked back at Sherlock with disbelief.
“All four of us, actually,” John said. “Which is why I’m telling you for the last time—stop pointing your wands at my flatmate.”
Finally … finally! … the wand arms dropped and the aurors began to look a little less wand-happy. John spared a glance at his flatmate, wondering how he was reacting to the possibility of having his memory tampered with. To his surprise, Sherlock looked utterly confident and calm, as if the possibility of John failing had not even occurred to him. John couldn’t help but feel flattered.
“Right,” he said, “Perhaps we could start with introductions? In my experience, law enforcement usually announces itself before committing permanent damage on innocent bystanders.”
The auror to Reaver’s right looked offended. “I assure you, sir, standard obliviating spells are perfectly safe.”
“Tell that to Lockhart,” John said with a snort. “Did he ever recover?”
Harry grinned at him and shook his head. “Never did, but he’ll be happy to sign a few pictures for you if you stop by, for old time’s sake.”
“You knew Lockhart?” the other auror asked.
“Of course he did,” Harry told her. “John was in my class at Hogwarts. Like he said, some introductions are in order. John, these polite, well-trained, and entirely reasonable aurors are Reaver, Flobberweight, and Durning.” He turned to the aurors and said slowly, as if speaking to idiots, “And this is Doctor John Watson, former Gryffindor, dorm-mate to me, Ron, and Neville—not to mention Dean and Seamus. He fought at the Battle of Hogwarts, saved the life of Charlie Weasley as well as many others. Afterward, he joined the British army and has been off serving his country in a warzone in Afghanistan. He’s been back in London for six months, yes, living as a muggle, but I can assure you, he has every right to carry and wield a wand whenever he sees fit.”
John was trying not to feel embarrassed at the almost awestruck looks he was getting from the younger auror as Harry continued. “And then we have his flatmate, Sherlock Holmes, the one and only Consulting Detective who helps solve crimes and was instrumental in saving not just my life but Ron’s as well last night. He wasn’t able to help with the fight, but I’m told he and Snape’s portrait had a rousing discussion and even Nigellus Phineas admitted that he supposed not all muggles were bad.”
John couldn’t stop the grin as the jaws dropped all around him—even Anthea looked amused, but Harry was continuing, “Last but not least, allow me to introduce Mycroft Holmes, the primary contact between our government and the muggle one. He’s often described as personifying the British government and I can assure you, the mere threat of obliviating either him or his brother comes with punishments you really do not want to contemplate. Now,” Harry concluded, crossing his arms over his chest, “Is there something you want to say about the way you burst in here with wands raised over what should have been a simple first warning for … what was it, John?”
“A levitation charm,” John said.
“Right. For a wizard using a levitation charm in his own home in front of his flatmate and the British Government?”
The aurors all looked terrified, now, and John couldn’t help the surge of satisfaction at seeing it. It took a long moment as John could practically feel Sherlock smirking before Reaver said, “We … that is … I apologize. You are right. We should have assessed the situation before making any assumptions.”
“And before threatening my flatmate with your wands.”
“Well, isn’t this just lovely, having this taken care of,” Mycroft said as he calmly rose to his feet. “Thank you for your assistance, Mr Potter. Do pass on my regards to your friends. It was a pleasure to meet them. Sherlock, John, thank you for an unusually … interesting … morning. I look forward to hearing the details.”
Anthea said nothing, but glared at the offending aurors before giving John a small wink, taking her mobile from her pocket and following Mycroft down the stairs.
John turned back to look at Sherlock who had sat back down in his chair as he studied the remaining people in his sitting room.
The youngest auror spoke up hesitantly. “Did you really argue with Professor Snape?”
Sherlock lifted an eyebrow. “Not so much of an argument as a discussion of the comparable merits of chemistry versus potions. The object was not to win so much as to share information.”
Harry just looked amused. “Snape wasn’t exactly known for being a disinterested sharer of knowledge—not with his students at least.”
“Especially you,” John said with a chuckle. “I don’t think he ever resisted a chance to take points from you for … anything.”
“I don’t think he even tried to resist,” Harry agreed with a grin. “Hopefully he was a little more forthcoming with his peers, though. He really was a master at potions, even if perhaps not the best teacher.”
“No,” agreed John, “But then, I can’t imagine Sherlock teaching chemistry to beginners, either.”
The aurors were looking curious now, as Harry, John, and Sherlock bantered back and forth. Finally the woman—Flobberweight, John thought—ventured a question. “Did you say you help the muggle police? Doing what?”
“He solves puzzles when they can’t figure them out,” John put in quickly. “He’s extremely good.”
“Puzzles, you mean… like that mad bomber I remember hearing about a while ago? The one who was turning people into bombs?”
John tried not to flinch at the memory as he waited for Sherlock’s diatribe to begin, but he was surprised when Sherlock said calmly, “Something like that, yes. I am a consulting detective. I observe details that others miss and draw conclusions from those observations. For example, I can tell that you have a new cat at home, by the fur at the hem of your robe and the snag from the claws.”
“Oh, please,” said Reaver. “How can you turn a person into a bomb? Without magic, it’s impossible.”
“I remember that case,” Harry said, voice thoughtful. “It wasn’t a matter of transfiguration. The bomber made vests out of explosives and made innocent people wear them. Hostages, wasn’t that right, Sherlock? Were you involved in that one?”
“Yes.” Sherlock’s answer could not have been sharper had his tongue been transfigured into a razor.
John saw Harry looking his way and just shrugged a bit, very much not wanting to get into a discussion about this. “The bomber got away in the end,” was all he said, but Harry nodded, accepting that. Nobody liked to think about their failures, after all, the criminals who got away, the patients that died on the table.
Sherlock flounced back in his chair, pulling his dressing gown around him as he looked at their guests with a slightly disgruntled expression. John just shook his head. “You’re frustrated because you can’t deduce wizards properly, aren’t you?”
“What? Of course I can,” Sherlock said automatically.
Flobberweight’s brow creased. “You mean he can’t use his … er … gift on us because we’re magic?”
Which immediately brought up Sherlock’s patented “I Can’t Believe I’m Surrounded By Idiots” expression. “No,” he told her in exasperation, “I just don’t have enough data. I can tell an airline pilot by his left thumb, but I don’t know enough of the wizarding world to know whether Reaver’s robes are falling like that because his wife left him and he’s too lazy to do something about his appearance or because the extra wand he carries pulls it that way.”
“Both, actually,” Auror Durning said, drawing a dirty look from Reaver. “How’d you do that without magic?”
“I told you,” Sherlock said with assumed patience, “I observe. Had you lot done the same, you would have stopped short of accusing John of illegal magic in his own home. And, really, is a team of four really standard response for a simple case of minor magic use in front of a non-magic wielder? Wouldn’t a simple warning and a fine of some kind be more commensurate for a first offense? It’s not like he was blasting curses, or whatever you call them, in the middle of Trafalgar Square.”
Harry turned to look at Reaver. “That’s really an excellent question. I know the Auror department is well-staffed these days, but this reaction does seem a bit out of line.”
Reaver’s jaw tightened. “I’m sorry, sir. I was overzealous.”
Harry just watched the man for a long moment and then gave a nod. “Right. Well, as you can see, things are under control here. You three are dismissed, but I expect a full report on my desk when I get back—along with a list of the things that you did right and the things you did wrong.”
There were grumbles of “Merlin, it’s like being back at Hogwarts,” but they all left without any real complaint, even Reaver, who cast one last look over his shoulder before disappearing down the stairs.
There were a series of cracks from the downstairs hallway, and after the third one sounded, Harry nodded to himself. He turned back to Sherlock and John and cast a shield around the room.
“So, that bomber … Moriarty, right? What can you tell me?”