A/N — Written for the bonus round using "How did I end up here" and shattering glass. More of an extended drabble than a one-shot really.
"How did I end up here again?" John muttered sullenly to himself, standing in front of the gargoyles leading to the Headmasters office. It was different being here as an adult — different being here without a looming detention — but that same feeling of trepidation filled him as he took a deep breath and, glancing at the sheet of parchment still in his hand, said: "Jelly babies." Why McGonagall — Minerva, now — had opted to keep this password theme was beyond him.
The gargoyle stepped aside to reveal the staircase, giving a rough "good luck" that had John infinitely more worried than he had been. He hadn't even been aware the thing could speak.
He rubbed his sweaty palms against the thighs of his trousers and stepped onto the moving staircase; he didn't bother walking, just allowed the stairs to carry him up.
"Ah, John," Professor McGonagall — Minerva, John had to remind himself — said; she looked worried, haggard, strands of hair escaping from its normally immaculate style. "Do take a seat."
He moved towards the seat she'd indicated, lowering himself hesitantly into the chair and leant his cane up against the desk in front of him. "I — I'm here about the job interview," he stuttered; this felt exactly like detention.
"Hmm, yes," she said noncommittally, and then: "Biscuit? Tea?"
"Oh, uhm … tea would be lovely, thanks," he said, hoping maybe having something for his hands to do — other than twisting nervously in his lap, that is — would help him calm down a little. There was no way he'd get the job like —
"The new school year starts on the first of September," she said, waving her wand and tracking the movements of the teapot with her eyes. "You can take the train with the students or make your own way," she pulled a tin of biscuits out of the top desk drawer, "but I would suggest leaving some belongings in your chambers beforehand. Less to carry."
"Sorry," John said, mentally kicking himself for even asking, "I thought this was just an interview?"
"It is," she said, following her statement with a very deliberate sip of tea. John picks up his own cup, cradling the hot china in his palms. "You're the only applicant."
"Ah." John couldn't help feeling a little disappointed at that; he hadn't been confident in getting the job, but he'd at least hoped if he had got it he would have done so on his own merit. "Well, I — thank you," he said at last; his smile felt a little strained, but she didn't seem to notice.
"There is … one member of staff I should probably warn —" she cleared her throat "— introduce you to before term starts." John took a sip of his still scalding tea, and it took all of his self-control not to choke loudly at both the heat and strength of the drink, though he couldn't stop his eyes from watering. "He can be a bit … eccentric."
"Well," John said, his voice still a bit strained, "I'd best meet him then."
Minerva nodded. "He'll be in the dungeons, I imagine." She gestured to his mostly full teacup and said: 'If you're ready, we can go down now." John hurriedly set his cup down, nodding. Minerva stood, waving her wand to clear her desk, and led the way to the door.
John cast one last look around the room before following at a slower pace, still trying to push away that feeling of punishment the room possessed that lingered from his school days, twenty-odd years ago now.
Minerva knocked loudly on the door to one of the old dungeon classrooms — one that John couldn't remember being used for much more than storage last time he was here — and said: "I'll leave you two to it, then." She was off in a billow of cloak before John could reply.
He considered calling after her — how did she even know … she hadn't even told John his name — but he knew it would be pointless. She clearly did not want to be here.
John sighed, raising his hand to knock again, when someone called: "Enter." John shrugged to himself and pushed open the heavy door.
"Hi, I'm —"
"I know who you are," the man snapped from where he was hunched over a workbench. Stoppered vials full of bubbling liquids of varying colours were lined up in a rack next to him, but John was more concerned with the putrid smelling potion the man was leaning over.
"Shouldn't you be wearing goggles or something?" he asked, stepping closer.
The man looked up, stepping around the desk in a fluid movement with far more grace than John would have expected of someone so tall. "My name's Sherlock Holmes. And you're John Watson, Hogwarts' new school nurse."
"How did you —"
"They send a letter notifying us of any staffing changes," Sherlock said.
"Oh." John didn't know why he was so disappointed, really. He held out his hand. "Well, it's —"
"What spell was it?" Sherlock interrupted.
"Sorry?" John dropped his arm back to his side.
"Your shoulder. What spell was it?" Sherlock asked again. "It looks fully healed."
"Well, it isn't," John snapped. "I need a cane."
"No you don't," Sherlock said with more confidence than any one man should rightfully possess. "It's psychosomatic. Your leg wasn't even injured."
"And how would you know?"
"You've barely used the can since you opened the door, and you weren't really using it in the corridor either. You only need it when you're thinking about it." Sherlock explained it all as if it were so obvious, and yes it was almost exactly what the Healers had told him — though far more sympathetically, of course — but how could he possibly — "I notice the right things," Sherlock said. "You just need to pay attention —"
The potion let out a sound like a sputtering cough and bubbled over, the liquid melting quickly through the wooden workbench. The vials fell to the floor, shattering, their contents spilling and mixing with the potion. A sickly green vapour rose up, its smell sticking to the back of Johns throat, and the room felt warmer though the accident didn't seem to have caused a fire.
"We should leave," Sherlock said, already pushing past John towards the door. He stopped to grab his cloak, putting it on with unnecessary flair. The oder from the smoke was getting stronger, and John found his breathing becoming laboured.
"Shouldn't we try to air the room out?" John wheezed, coughing loudly into his fist.
"Bad idea," Sherlock said, grabbing John's wrist and dragging him from the room, slamming the heavy door shut behind them and locking it with more spells than were strictly necessary. "It'll clear itself out eventually," he said by way of an explanation. "Wouldn't want to … exacerbate the situation." Sherlock paused for a moment, staring at the crack under the door. Smoke was already beginning to curl up from underneath, and parts of the wood were beginning to give off a different vapour and the smell of burning wood was getting stronger. "Should probably clear the entire corridor, actually."
John wanted to ask how Sherlock expected this to resolve itself — okay, really John wanted to ask what the hell Sherlock had been making — but instead he just shook his head and muttered: "Well, so much for paying attention."
At least it was unlikely his time here would be dull.