Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry about the mix up with Here in an Instant, Gone in a Flash earlier!
The first day she became Joanna "John" Harriet Watson, she had come to the cold hard realization that the world she thought was her escape from an absolutely awful home life wasn't as good as she had thought. Sure, there were a few creature comforts that made it more tolerable, but peel away the layers...lo and behold, it's a new form of misery, except this one comes with many new ways of forcing you into a box you couldn't escape. Not with any real success.
After yet another day of zero help for her mind after seeing Cedric die right in front of her, and worse, realizing she was being stalked by inept amateurs, she knew that she had to do something.
So she visited the library under the premise of escaping the heat.
And on a whim she went onto the library computers and typed in Hogwarts.
What she found left her in shock.
The lie about equality for muggleborns was the boldest lie she had ever seen in her life. Not only were the conditions worse, but it was a long painful road just to get a crappy job in the mundane world after graduation.
It came as a cold, hard shock realizing that she'd never be more than a brood mare and poster girl if she survived to graduation. Dumbledore sure as hell wasn't going to train her. From what little her 'friends' and godfather had alluded to, the man was screening their mail and keeping her in an information dead zone.
And that was the last straw. Thanks to the forum she stumbled upon, it wasn't that hard to realize if she wanted to have a proper life, she would have to reinvent herself and leave Hogwarts far, far behind.
That meant money, and a pressing need to get a new name because Potter was too recognizable.
Fortunately she had a plethora of names to choose from, and the perfect place to come up with an escape plan in peace.
It wasn't until she found an old book, a fictional novel of a great detective based on an actual detective and his arch nemesis that she came upon a stroke of genius.
Everything began to tumble down from there. Letters sent to Gringotts on the sly with the ones she sent Hermione and the others (all boring letters that left almost the same amount of information they gave her, with enough variances that they wouldn't assume it was all written at the same time), a discreet portkey and time turner allowing her to become her own alibi, and a long in depth talk with the goblins meant she was about as prepared as she would be to leave and never look back.
God knows she had no reason to have any real fond memories of the magical world.
It was the attack by the dementors that pushed her over the edge though. While Petunia and Vernon drove Dudley to the emergency room, after locking her in her own, and the multiple visits from the owls, she knew it was past time to make a break for it.
The dementors, as she had been repeatedly told, were controlled by the Ministry. That meant someone there wanted her dead, or at the very least expelled.
Well, far be it for her to give them the satisfaction of a kangaroo trial. And the goblins were more than happy to give her a body double long enough for her to escape and only come back when she was of the age of majority.
By the laws of magic, not even Dumbledore could tell her where to go or how to live her life once she hit twenty-two.
Which meant she had to make herself scarce until that time. The longer she kept her pursuers off, the hard it would be for them to make her their puppet, or worse force her to clean up their damn mess.
Three days before the "Order" would bother to remove her from the house, she had already left to start her life over.
Living in a boarding house for orphaned girls was weird, but it was still preferable to the Dursleys or Dumbledore's idea of protection. And as long as she followed the rules, she could blend in. Be as anonymous as everyone else.
She loved every moment of it.
It wasn't until she was seventeen before she realized something.
She wasn't as enthusiastic about guys as most of her roommates. In fact she found them to be dull, lifeless and downright boring. The few times she attempted to date one, she had gotten so fed up with their stupidity and their blatant attempts to get into her pants that she didn't go out for a second date.
At her 'magical majority' as most believed it to be, she came to the revelation that perhaps she would be better off batting for the same team.
At seventeen and six months, she had a date with a girl and actually enjoyed herself. It all snowballed from there.
Joanna could appreciate men, and is fully aware that she is bi, but with a higher preference to women. But something inside her snaps and something new clicks into place.
She's happy. Genuinely happy.
Even as she works her way into attending Barts, because if she's going to get hurt then she wants to be able to patch herself up rather than rely on the "mercies" of people who need to work on their bedside manner.
She wanted to be the one people turned to when they needed help. To learn how to fight and heal at the same time.
And really, the support group helps more than anyone could have believed. Having people who understood her desire to be free of the idiocy that is the magical society. To not have to deal with the hypocrisy that thrives, even as the war begins to kick into gear the moment Voldemort and Dumbledore both realize she's very determined not to be found, much less dragged into their fight.
She learned more about magic going to those than she had in four years of magical schooling at Hogwarts.
Life was good, and it was only getting better now that she had quit sitting on her ass and letting people supposedly wiser dictate how her life should go.
Ten Years Later...
Walking with a limp was absolutely bloody annoying. Honestly, she didn't know how Moody could stand it.
"John! John Watson!"
Joanna turned to the voice, and recognized Mike after a brief moment.
At this point she was used to the fact her preference to wear baggy shirts and multiple layers, and keep her hair cropped short made people believe Joanna was a man. As a result, people simply called her John Watson, and she rarely bothered to correct them. The misconception of her gender had made it laughably easy to hide.
As they sat drinking their coffee, Joanna lamented on how hard it was to find a flatmate that wouldn't be put off with the fact she was a lesbian with a few weird habits. She was polite enough to never bring her one-night stands home, or to broadcast her preferences blatantly, but there were a few homophobic people out there. Or idiots who thought they could convince her to a threesome.
God she hated those.
"Well you're the second person to say that to me today."
"Who was the first?"
And why did Mike have such a strange expression on his face?
In the lab...
Her first impression of Sherlock Holmes was that while he was arrogant, it wasn't to the same point as Draco Malfoy or his father had been. No, this was a self-assured arrogance that had been tested and proven multiple times.
It hadn't taken more than three seconds after Sherlock asked "Afghanistan or Iraq?" that she realized he had an observational capacity at the same level as herself.
She also noted with a great deal of amusement, though her confusion hid it well enough that he didn't realize, that he has made the same critical mistake in her gender as damn near everyone else had shortly after she got her hair cut short.
It wasn't until Sherlock left that Mike broached the topic she had been unwilling to discuss in a public setting. Certainly not in a park.
"So what happened? Last I heard you were being shot at in the desert."
"Officially I was shot, and they sent me back."
"I had a...disagreement...with three sons of some high ranking generals when they found out my gender. I agreed to leave the service without raising a fuss in exchange for a full pension, with the agreement I not press charges."
The last and only time he heard of someone attempting to take advantage of Joanne's gender ended up with the assailants with a permanent fear of doctors with light hair.
Joanna tolerated idiots who thought the fact she was a lesbian was a sin...but she did not suffer fools who tried to force themselves on women.
Mike had heard rumors of the damage she had done to people like that. And that she had allowed others to make the mistake about her gender and name to lower the chances of being harassed.
And really, what little she said about the matter said more than enough about what happened.
He almost pitied them, but anyone attempting to force themselves on Joanna deserved anything her horrifying devious mind could come up with.
Joanna has to avoid quirking her lips in open amusement. Because really, Sherlock's arrogance is almost grating, except she's been around far worse.
His level of observation is astounding, but the conclusions he draws are so off it's taking everything she has not to laugh.
Sherlock has no way of knowing that the phone he 'borrowed' actually is John's, and that she had broke it off with Clara after a mutual agreement.
Clara wanted children and had found a nice man in their support group. John wasn't anywhere near ready to have children, but wasn't going to stop someone from finding their own happiness.
Really, she had to find a way to get rid of her bad habit of self sacrificing for the good of others. Her former friend had called it a saving people thing.
Joanna's former psychiatrist had said it was an ingrained response from her abusive childhood. A need of a child who had been denied far too much attempting to make others like her, even if it meant giving up her own happiness in exchange.
And yet the strange thing was that her natural charisma made such actions increase her sphere of influence.
Right now she was just trying her very best to laugh while her potential flatmate make all the wrong conclusions.
"So I'm right."
Sherlock's attention zoomed in on Watson.
"Clara left Harry, Harry has poor eyesight but hates wearing glasses at night. And Harry is short for Harriet."
Left unspoken was that "Harriet" was in fact Joanna, and that they had broken up by mutual agreement. Clara had found a nice man, Joanna wasn't ready for kids. They still talked amicably at their support group.
"Harry's your sister," said Sherlock, looking like he wanted to kick himself for missing that possibility. "Always something."
Joanna's amusement went up again. She briefly toyed with the idea of telling him that Harriet was in fact her, but decided against it. If and when he copped on to her actual gender, then she could tell him.
However that amusement went away very quickly upon meeting Sergeant Donovan. Anyone that so casually called someone who was a little different a "freak" just because they had a slightly grating personality was no one she wanted to know. Let alone be friendly with.
Seeing Sherlock give them a richly deserved embarrassment in front of their co-workers, her estimation of him went up. As flatmates, she could certainly do worse than an eccentric guy with a crime addiction.
Though her attitude alone meant Joanna wouldn't think twice about leaving time-delayed prank spells on her.
Seeing the dead body, the only thing she could think of was...
That is way too much pink, and for a woman her age it just makes her look horrible.
"Well Dr. Watson, what you do think?"
"Does she have a phone on her?" she asked intently. Because really, the only reason she could openly think of for a woman who was dying to write something like "Rachel" would be if it were the password to something.
"There was no phone," said Lestrade.
"What about a purse, a suitcase?"
"There was no case. There never was a case," said Lestrade.
Sherlock's estimation of Dr. Watson went up. Clearly he wasn't as big an idiot as half of Scotland Yard.
"What makes you think there's a phone?" asked Sherlock, as if asking Watson to explain his reasoning.
"Come on, everyone has a mobile these days. And from the expensive nature of the shoes alone I'd say it's a smart phone. That means it has GPS. And the only reason for a dead woman to write something like a name would be if it was a password to something, likely her mobile to track it."
As they walked out, Joanna could see she had gained a bit of respect in Sherlock's eyes. More than Anderson or Sergeant Donovan had in any rate.
She could have done without the weird stalking via the phones though.
Joanna looked at the almost pristine scarecrow in front of her, and had an epiphany just hearing him speak.
This man was almost certainly Sherlock's brother. She hadn't heard that tone of voice since meeting the Weasleys during that fiasco at the World Cup.
Concern for the welfare of a sibling, and considering the lines he was betting older.
"Dr. Joanna Harriet Watson."
"Well you're more perceptive than your brother at any rate," said Joanna.
That threw him off.
"It's fairly obvious. You show concern for Sherlock Holmes, but the tone says that it's more out of familial concern than any criminal activity. From the way you hold yourself you have the same ingrained arrogance, but you've learned how to temper it by being diplomatic about it. And the only way you'd be able to get those files so easily would be if you were in the government. Very high up in the government."
"Impressive," he replied.
"Well that and we make a point to know those in the position to do some actual good who come from magical families. But you already knew that, didn't you, Mycroft Holmes?"
Mycroft had a thin smile on his face. This wasn't how he expected this meeting to go.
Then again he wasn't anticipating being busted almost immediately. Let alone being faced with an observation on the same level as his own brother.
He had thought he was dealing with a muggleborn who came up under dubious circumstances from overseas. One who had the sense to keep up with their magical education enough that they were able to make something of themselves.
"What is your opinion of Sherlock?" he asked, deciding to change tactics.
"He's an arrogant, but brilliant young man who thrives on solving crimes the Yard can't, and he knows it. Still better than half the people I've tried to share a flat with before," deadpanned Joanna. "He also hasn't figured out that I'm a woman."
Mycroft had a strange look on his face.
"I could be 'bribed' for photos you can use for blackmail or teasing rights, but I will not act as a spy," said Joanna flatly.
"Trust issues, this says. Why do you trust Sherlock Holmes?"
"I find him amusing. That and I got the distinct impression that even after he finds out the full truth about me he won't be impressed in the least, much less care. And frankly I'd rather have someone who actually sees the world for what it is than another idiot who looks at the world with rose-tinted glasses."
Joanna made a rather favorable impression, all things considered, with Mycroft. She could live with him keeping an eye on her since it was more for her proximity to Sherlock than anything else.
Somehow she had a feeling she was going to enjoy her time at 221b Baker street.