Dudley and his cronies had been at me all week. If they weren't mocking my parentage, they were mocking my weight, and if not that something else. There hadn't been a day without being taunted, having my books stolen, having my assignments ruined, being pushed down in the cobblestone courtyard. They were always gone by the time any of the school staff came around, just me left behind in humiliation.
Holmes, the only boy I had become friends of a sort with at this school, hadn't been around either, though I was relieved by that. It wouldn't do to look like such a fool in front of one of the few people in this dreadful place who could stand to be around me.
I had thought the study hall would be safe from them, but that illusion of safety was shattered when a crumpled ball of paper smacked me in the side of the head. Holmes looked up at the impact, then down at the crumpled ball, then in the direction it had come from. I didn't need to look to know it was Dudley and his friends.
"You don't need to look at it, Watson," Holmes said, turning back to his text and notebook. "Nothing that group has to say is of any importance to anyone."
I sighed. If I didn't, they'd just send another one, probably with something noisome squashed in the middle. I flattened the scrap of paper and beheld a rough caricature of a pig in glasses and a cap, underwritten with 'John HAM-ish Watson'.
The faint sounds of oinking from Dudley's table did not help me control the humiliated flush in my face, and I crumpled the paper in my hand.
Across the room, Dudley stood and began walking in my direction. I felt myself tense, thinking he couldn't be planning to physically attack me in the study hall in front of the proctor, but by Jove I was going to be ready in case he did.
Instead, as he passed by on the way to the toilets, Dudley jarred my elbow. A splash of ink slopped from my inkwell to mar a nearly full page of notes.
"Keep your fat elbows out of my way, HAM-ish," he said, snorting piggishly before carrying on to through the lavatory door at the end of the study hall.
The pulse in my head throbbed, and I felt my eyes pre-emptively prickle. Clenching my jaw, I blotted the spilled ink, but the page was a loss. The remaining letters began to waver before my eyes through a film of treacherous tears. I would not give Dudley the satisfaction of crying. I swallowed hard.
"Watson," Holmes said idly, continuing to write in his own notebook, evidently undisturbed by Dudley's actions.
I rubbed my eyes, sniffed, and straightened my glasses, determined not to look weak in front of my new acquaintance - hopefully friend - of only a few weeks. "Yes, Holmes?"
"Do you know what happens when you add a one percent aqueous solution of methylthioninium chloride to a person's drink?" Holmes asked blandly, without looking up.
"Methyl-what?" I frowned. Holmes was better in chemistry than I was, why was he asking me? Perhaps for a medical perspective? Unfortunately I'd not heard of the chemical before, so I had no information to offer him. "No, I can't say as I do."
A shrill scream erupted from the toilets, and I turned to see what was the matter. The screaming was followed by Dudley erupting from the lavatory, tucking his shirttails hastily into his trousers. "M-my water's blue! I'm pissing blue!"
A few students in the hall broke into snickering. The study hall proctor harrumphed loudly. "Such disruption and language does not become a gentleman, Master Grantham!"
"Dear God in Heaven, man!" Dudley snapped at the school official. "Sod propriety! I'm dying!"
The proctor turned an alarming shade of purple. "Report to the Headmaster at once!"
"Oi," said one of Dudley's less-thick mates. "Wasn't that what happened to King George before he went mad? His wee turned blue?"
Dudley gawped, horrified. "N-nurse! I must see the nurse immediately! Nurse Dribb!" He ran down the hallway, shrieking for the nurse, followed by his confused mates and the furious study room proctor.
On the side of the table away from the fracas, Holmes cleared his throat. I turned and found him smothering the barest hint of a smirk.
"I simply can't say as I have the faintest idea what might happen either myself, Watson," Holmes said mildly, dipping his pen and scratching another line in his notebook.
I looked at Holmes, then looked in the direction Dudley had run off, caterwauling. "Holmes, did you put-?"
"That is," Holmes interrupted, glancing at me from under his brow, "if such an unlikely event should ever occur."
"Ah. Yes. Unthinkable." I stifled a grin, hummed neutrally and listened to Dudley's distress echoing through the school halls.