The sun has already set and the moon has appeared over the majestic school building. It is surprisingly cold for the beginning of September. The harsh wind blows leaves through the fighting branches of the Whomping Willow. The Forbidden Forest lies in the dark and is completely still, no gigantic spiders are to be seen. Thousands of stars, far away from pollution, are shining in the sky.
The relative peace is interrupted for a moment when a young man suddenly appears with a plop in front of the school gates. He walks purposely through the opening gates and hurries up the long way to the school. His large black coat is blowing behind him, resembling a large, dramatic bat.
The strange figure is Sherlock Holmes, and he is late for school. Usually, the teacher are required to arrive at least one week before the new term starts to attend teacher conferences and prepare their class room. Professor McGonagall also demands her teachers to hand all their class schedules to her, so that is another task to be done.
Sherlock Holmes has perfectly finished doing most of that (however tedious some teacher meetings may be — really, nobody can expect him to concentrate on all of them), but today he had to return to his rented flat at Baker Street in London because apparently, his experiment hasn’t died off completely and had given his landlady, Mrs. Hudson, nearly a heart attack. Cleaning was required, and for some reason, Mrs. Hudson insisted on him doing it.
Only one hour beforehand, the first year students had set off on their boat ride over the Great Lake. It has been a long tradition for the school and is beloved by the first years. They would have seen Hogwarts for the first time, and Sherlock still remembers exactly how enchanting that felt for him; he experiences this feeling every time he walks up to the castle. Only now, he sits on the other side of the Great Hall, at the long teacher’s table under the ever-changing sky of the Great Hall.
The school has gone through some reforms under Professor Minerva McGonagall as the new headmistress, after Albus Dumbledore was murdered at the Astronomy Tower 16 years ago. She had offered Sherlock the job as teacher last year, only seven years after he had initially left Hogwarts as a top grade student.
One quickly ended career as an auror and an unfortunate drug addiction later, Sherlock found himself as an unemployed man laying in a hospital bed at St. Mungo, with an annoying older brother and fretting parents. The job offer from McGonagall was his saving grace, although Mycroft had at first laughed at him. Surely, such a rude, uncontrolled and impatient man could never be a teacher, no matter how clever — yet Sherlock had grown to love his job. He enjoyed teaching. At the moment, he is the primary potion teacher, since Professor Slughorn is either on a very long holiday or writing a book, depending on the moment you decide to ask him. The work keeps his mind from other, more dangerous subjects, which is welcome to him. As a nice advantage, Mycroft will keep his curious nose out of Sherlock’s business as long as the younger Holmes is at Hogwarts.
Filch is opening the grand entrance door for him with a disgruntled face, but Mrs. Norris meows happily at him. During his seven years as a student, Sherlock had smuggled her pieces of fish and other cat treats, to keep her from snitching on him whenever he sneaked out of the Ravenclaw common room. Mr. Filch did not appreciate it then, and he is not a big fan of the young potion teacher now. Sherlock winks at Mrs. Norris, then continues his journey through the deserted school halls. He can hear a lot of wild clapping, so that means he must have missed the Sorting Hat Ceremony. Sherlock fervently hopes McGonagall won’t be too upset — he does have a good explanation — and enters the Great Hall. Lots of students follow his way as he walks between the wall and the Gryffindor table. Some pointing is also involved, which Sherlock ignores. They will get to know him soon anyway. McGonagall does serves him a disgruntled look, but she doesn’t seem to harbour murderous feelings towards him. Perfect.
He slips on his old seat next to Professor Flitwick, when he suddenly notices his new neighbour. How he did not notice him immediately is a mystery. The stranger must only be two or three years older than him, with blond, short hair and curious blue eyes. Sherlock nearly falls under the table from the intensity of this gaze alone.
The blond stranger smiles — SMILES — at Sherlock, and then he focuses his attention back on McGonagall who has continued her speech.
“This year, I am happy to announce that Professor Holmes has agreed to continue his position as the potion teacher.“ She doesn’t sound too thrilled (still angry about him arriving late then), but Sherlock quickly stands up and bows his head. He is secretly pleased to hear that the students are clapping and some are even cheering. Maybe he isn’t so bad at his job after all?
And much more important, who is the handsome man next to him?
“Another exciting addition to our teaching staff is Professor Watson. He will be our new teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts. I hope you will give Professor Watson a warm welcome.“
The famous Harry Potter, who taught Defense Against the Dark Arts before, had decided to focus more on his three young children, since his wife’s Quidditch career is at its peek, and she is not often home.
The students clap happily when they hear the news, and Sherlock does not miss a few appreciating looks from the older students into Watson’s direction. He is not the only one who has noticed how good the new teacher looks.
“Furthermore, the ministerium and I have decided that from this year on, we will introduce new clubs and sport teams for you students to participate in. These extracurricular activities will help you meet new acquaintances from the other houses and hopefully also further your interests. The professors will introduce their clubs tomorrow and you can sign up to their lists in the common rooms.“
Wait. What? Is this another announcement Sherlock missed? He certainly did not set up any clubs or sports teams.
He is ripped out of his growing confusion by a gentle touch to his elbow that sends immediate shocks through his back.
It is the mysterious Professor Watson, who then actually winks at him. Sherlock cannot remember when someone last did that towards him, so he carefully winks back. Watson chuckles, a lovely and low sound that makes Sherlock ache to hear his voice. It lights up Watson’s whole face.
“Enjoy the feast!“ McGonagall finally announces, and with a wink the five long tables groan under the weight of roast beef, potatoes, bread, chicken wings, fish, salad, the ever-present chips, noodles… Everything you could wish for. The table for the teachers is a bit more individual, depending on what the teachers like to eat the most. Sherlock finds himself confronted with mountains of cooked rice, fried chicken, dumplings and sweet duck. He puts little pieces of everything on his plate, then starts dragging it from one side to the other over his plate. He does not feel very hungry.
“You should eat more, you look absolutely ravished.“ A new voice addresses him from the side. Sherlock turns his head so quickly that he hits his knee under the table. Professor Watson wears a cuddly, brown jumper under his dark robes, and there are a few grey streaks in his blond hair, which makes him look more sophisticated.
“… Sorry?“ Sherlock asks, with an unusual delay for him.
“You can have some of mine, if you want it. I don’t think I ever tasted a better roast beef, my mother’s excluded.“ Professor Watson says and starts dumping food on Sherlock’s plate. Sherlock watches this unexpected manoeuvre confused. This professor somehow already managed to catch him off guard twice.
“I expect you are used to caring for people, being a trained healer.“ The words fall out of his mouth, and Sherlock wishes he could shove them right back.
Watson blinks at him: “How did you know I used to be a healer? Did McGonagall tell you?“
“Maybe, but I did not really listen. I know because you cut your meat with your wand with a precision that is unusual for, let’s say, an accountant. There is of course your caring nature, with becoming a teacher and all. You used to be an auror, but were cursed and you now struggle with a limp and an aching shoulder. I can fix your limp, your shoulder just needs a bit more time.“
Sherlock can also read the man’s depression from the cane that is laying under their table, but maybe this better reminds unsaid.
“How do you know I used to be an auror?“
“You are the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, they prefer professors with experiences in fighting against the dark arts. You probably only just got the job, since I did not see you at any of the teacher conferences. The position was cursed for years, with no one staying longer than one year, until Mr. Potter came in. Since he is gone now, I imagine other possible applicants remain cautious. Maybe you know Potter from your shared experiences fighting against the Dark Arts, and he recommended you to the headmistress. The way you hold yourself is very calm, respectful and disciplined, it practically screams military training. Then of course your injury. Not many jobs involve being cursed that badly.“
Sherlock waits with bated breath. Not his best deductions, certainly, but maybe Watson will not be angry.
“Brilliant.“ The former auror slash healer exclaims so loudly, that Flitwick nearly chokes on his pumpkin juice.
Now it is Sherlock’s turn to blink surprised. Thank Merlin Mycroft is not here to witness his embarrassing evening.
“That is not what people usually say.“ Sherlock confesses.
“What do people usually say?“
“Shut up, or I will force you to. Not that they would have a fighting chance against me. After all, teachers at Hogwarts are exceptional at their craft.“ Sherlock boasts.
“We really are amazing.“ Watson answers, and the two giggle together. Sherlock picks up a piece of duck and eats it to satisfy the doctor.
“I’m John Watson.“ The man finally introduces himself, and Sherlock shakes the offered hand. John’s hands are rough from the hard work, and they fit perfectly into Sherlock’s.
“That sounds like an unique name. Your father’s?“
“My grandmother’s, actually. She is French.“
John laughs and Sherlock hides his smile behind his glass. John did not appear to be someone who often smiles, and Sherlock has made him laugh several times now!
“So, how will you cure my limp?“ John asks.
“Oh, that will come quite naturally. When we are searching for the first student who is lost at night in the Forbidden Forest, you will have entirely forgotten about it. You are not haunted by danger, you miss it.“
“That is… quite a brave statement, though not the strangest thing I have heard today. Do students still run into the Forbidden Forest alone? Surely, in some generation, the students will have learned better.“
“You would think that, but it still happens, often in the first weeks, when the older students prank the first years. At least the Forbidden Forest is no longer used for detention. McGonagall tries to keep the number of students with missing limbs and concussions to a minimum.“ Fortunately, McGonagall has ended that insane detention tradition long ago, and Sherlock has the peace and quiet to look for new plants and visit the thestrals. He does not tell John that, though.
“Good, that school practice was an awful idea. Anyway, what all the winking was about… I want to ask you if you are up to starting regular Quidditch practices for the students who do not make it into the official house teams. Students at Hogwarts really need more exercise, and I think it is unfair that only seven players in every house get to play it.“
Sherlock nods approvingly: “That is a good idea, I never thought of that.“
“Did you play Quidditch when you were a student?“
“Yes, I was the seeker, from second to seventh year.“
“You were a Ravenclaw, right?“
Sherlock is flattered that John guessed correctly.
“Oh, yes. I loved the extra library we had in there, and my own room of course.“
“Wait, you had a room for yourself?“ John’s mouth drops open in surprise.
“It’s more like a closet, with a cupboard, a table, a chair and a bed, but it barely fits in.“
“That is so unfair! In the Gryffindor common rooms, we had to share one bathroom and one bedroom, and we were five boys! One of them snored very loudly, and we could not make him stop.“
Sherlock shudders at the thought of sleeping seven years with five boys together who probably hated him. Awful. The Ravenclaw students are privileged with their own rooms. They are allowed a small space for working and experimenting late at night, so as not to disturb their classmates.
“Let me guess: You were the captain and chaser, right?“
The two concentrate on eating for a while, allowing the general noise and festivity around them to dwell on. John appears to think about his next question very carefully.
“Did you ever have a visitor in your closet?“ John suddenly asks hastily out of the blue, not looking up from his plate.
“No, not really. Most students did not appreciate the deductions I made about them, and for the rest of the time, I preferred the library or an empty classroom.“
“Shame, really. Must have been a perfect hiding place, for you know…“ John waves his arms awkwardly around.
Sherlock stares at him.
“You know what I mean. Did you ever had a girlfriend?“ John asks and takes a big gulp of his steaming cup of tea.
“No, not really my area.“ Sherlock answers.
“Boyfriend, then? Which is totally fine, by the way.“
“I know it is fine.“
Sherlock did have a little… crush? On a boy a year above him, called Victor Trevor from Hufflepuff. Sherlock’s feelings didn’t last for long.
John stares at the plate. Sherlock does the same.
“So…“ John concentrates his gaze on the black sky in the hall. „What about now?“
“Do you have someone now? A boyfriend?“
Sherlock shakes his head, not trusting himself to speak. What is John Watson hinting at?
“That’s good.“ John clears his throat. Sherlock’s face feels like it is burning and coughs loudly. Flitwick, who so far had tried to listen secretly (not secretly enough though), suddenly turns to Binns and engages him loudly in a discussion about the current prime minister (Mycroft is really the country’s leader, but officially, he is only the first assistant). Sherlock wonders if the other teachers are as interested in their conversation as Sherlock is.
Sherlock gathers the last shred of his bravery and asks: “What about you?“
John blushes madly: “Neither of them, at the moment.“
“You just broke up with someone.“ Sherlock guesses.
“Yeah.“ John scratches his head. “We discovered too many… differences between us, so I ended it a fortnight ago.“
“Right. Sorry to hear that.“ Sherlock says, he hopes he sounds empathetic and not to obviously interested.
“Don’t be, we were only fighting at the end anyway.“ John sighs, then shoves his now empty plate aside. Sherlock does the same, and the main courses are switched with desert. The rest of the feast is spent in silence until McGonagall ends the evening and sends all the students away. The newly made perfects run around to collect the frightened first graders, and the students trickle out to their common rooms. Sherlock pretends to finish drinking his tea until everyone is gone, so John won’t feel embarrassed because of his limp (not that there is anything to be ashamed of, but John Watson must be a proud man). John gathers the hateful cane in his hand. Sherlock and John slowly leave the Great Hall together, and Sherlock is just about to leave to his rooms, when John stops him with a hand on his arms.
“Can we meet tomorrow after the sixth lesson to start about the Quidditch training?“
“Of course.“ Sherlock stutters. To be honest, he entirely forgot about that thing. The rest of their conversation had been much more exciting.
“Great. Thank you for welcoming me to Hogwarts.“ John says, smiles at him one last time, then disappears.
Sherlock is left alone at the grand entrance, totally speechless. A cat with a particular fur runs across from him, and Sherlock could swear he hears her giggle.
Sherlock has moved most of his stuff already into his dozens of closets and cupboards, and he has spread his plans for the different classes on the desk. His bed is shoved into a corner, and the moon is shining through the two big windows. Sherlock can see directly over the Forbidden Forest, which is practical if he plans a spontaneous visit. He quickly changes into his favourite blue dressing gown and pyjama and throws one last look at his schedule for tomorrow. Everything should be fine, although he is starting the school year with the first graders on Monday. Well, that cannot be helped.
With an exhaustive sigh he drops on his comfy bed. With a flick of his wand, he opens the wall behind his bed frame.
The potion is still there. Sherlock checks it, but everything appears to be untouched. The next full moon will only be in a month, but it is better to stay prepared. The potions masters have come a long way in discovering the best potion, and the new version is certainly improved. Sherlock does not turn into a werewolf — harmless or not — if he takes the potion, so he can continue working, but it still causes terrible cramps, headaches, sometimes nausea and leaves him completely battered. Sherlock still needs to add the last ingredients, but that has to wait till one day before the full moon, otherwise it will not work.
Officially, discrimination against werewolves is illegal, but unofficially… If someone finds out and the news is spread, most students and their parents will not want a werewolf as their potion teacher. McGonagall will be forced to fire him, and Sherlock would be left at stage one again.
He does not remember who bit him. It happened during one of his drug binges, and he turned at the next full moon. Thankfully Mycroft appeared just in time to rescue him from biting people himself, and Sherlock is forever terrified of growing uncontrolled again. That’s why he hides the potion well and mixes the ingredients himself. Better safe than sorry, as Mrs. Hudson often preaches.
Sherlock wonders if John will still smile at him when he finds out he is a potential drugged monster, then disregards the thought. John will never find out, easy as that.
What exactly happened between the two of them this evening? Of course, John must be the most interesting person Sherlock has ever encountered. A limping healer and ex-auror, broke up with his girlfriend, spontaneously decided to be a teacher, used to play Quidditch, popular at school, had about fifteen girlfriends — and presumably two boyfriends —, is friendly and patient from the outside but his career establishes the fact that there is a hidden steeliness and brutality behind the kind blue eyes.
Victor was never on that interesting level.
Yet, Sherlock could not risk it. He had never tried being in a relationship, or kissing. Or, anything else.
Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.
These words from his brother Mycroft may as well be their family’s motto. Most events in Sherlock’s past have proven his brother right.
Aside from that, there is also his secret to think about. Anyone coming closer to him could find out about him being a werewolf. Sherlock’s heart stutters when he even contemplates his secret getting revealed. He would never find work again, and the work is all he has.
He closes the curtains with his wand and throws the blanket over him. Tomorrow, dozens of students will expect him to be healthy, interesting and engaging, and Sherlock needs to sleep for that, no matter what he would prefer.
In his dreams, Sherlock and John fly on their brooms under a round moon.