John Watson is looking right at his Third Year big sister Harriet, smiling too wide for her face and watching expectantly from the Gryffindor table with her group of red-and-gold friends, when he is sorted into Hufflepuff.
The table of yellow and black gives a loud round of applause, but John doesn't move from the stool. Rooted to the spot, watching the smile drop straight off his big sister's face. He doesn't move until the Headmistress shoos him politely in the direction of the beaming faces at the Hufflepuff table. He doesn't look at his sister when his wobbling knees drop him into a seat next to a round-faced boy. The round-faced boy has a knowing smile, claps him once kindly on the shoulder.
"All right, mate," the round-faced boy says in the nicest way possible. "I didn't think I'd be wearing yellow either."
John turns concerned eyes to him, the feel of his sister's eyes burning symmetrical holes in his neck. "Is it awful?"
"No, it's fantastic!" The boy grins. "Michael Stamford. You can call me Mike, if you like."
John slowly, sadly swallows his hopes and dreams and pride. "John Watson."
When dinner starts, John expects Harriet to come to his table and congratulate him. Or at least say something. When he throws a glance over his shoulder, she's laughing and talking with her friends as if he'd never existed. She washes down a laugh with pumpkin juice that she gets all over her tie. They think it's hilarious.
The Head Girl walks them to the common room. John's knees haven't stopped knocking since that hat hadn't shouted out GRYFFINDOR! He doesn't know a single one of the faces that walk and chat alongside him (he'd sat with Harriet on the train, talked about how the stairs to the girl's dorms turned into a slide if a boy tried to go up them, about Andrew West, Quiddich captain, how fast he was going to scoop John up for Keeper or even Beater). He doesn't know a soul and he's in the wrong house and he's frankly both very angry and very upset about the whole thing.
"Perspicacity!" the head girl says when she comes to the enormous still life. The painting swings open to the warm common room, low ceilings and a wall-sized fireplace, all draped with yellow and adorned with plant-life. It hums with life, with warmth, with happy people and the smell of sweet rolls. John doesn't want it to feel right.
He's not listening when Mike shows him the boy's dorms, down the the left-hand perfectly-circular tunnel, when he picks up the yellow-and-black scarf and frowns at it. He's not listening when the other first-years file in, looking well at-ease and perfectly docile, tucking themselves into the poster beds with warm-honey hangings; when they turn the bedside lanterns out and only John's is burning. Solitary and sturdy. He gets to sleep somehow.
(He will definitely go to the Headmistress tomorrow, explain that he was meant to be in the same house as his sister, explain that he's not supposed to be a Hufflepuff but a Gryffindor and it's all a big mistake.)
He wakes up and something is different. The Something Different is in his chest, pressing all of his other organs out of place. But it's warm, like a little sun taken nest halfway down his throat. Maybe it's the covers pulled snug and cocoon-like around him. Maybe it's the sound of happy laughter echoing down the circular tunnels. Maybe it's because no one's left him alone.
Another First Year, even though he's fully dressed and looks half-ravenous, sits at the edge of his own bed and ties and re-ties his tie as he waits. When John sits slowly up, the boy's head bobs up from his neck and he smiles, and his front teeth are almost too large for his mouth.
"Morning," he says. "Sleep all right?"
John runs an unsure tongue over his lips in the silence. "I guess."
"I'm Carl. Carl Powers." He seems altogether too happy. "You're John Watson?" He nods to the name in blocky letters his mum had put on his trunk. John tried not to flush with pure embarrassment.
"Yeah, er..." He wonders how this possibly couldn't sound suspicious. "Why're you still here, Carl? Isn't everyone going to breakfast?"
"We Badgers 've got to stick together." The boy hops from his bed. His hair is the same color as the black on his tie, just like John's is nearly the same as the yellow on his.
Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow he'll go to the Headmistress and tell her he's supposed to be a Gryffindor. He matches Carl's smile.
The first time John Watson meets Sherlock Holmes, it's a cold Tuesday in late September, three weeks after Sorting and three weeks wearing yellow-and-black. Mike looks up from his plate, something halfway between a smile and a frown creasing the sides of his mouth. John blinks and immediately turns to follow Mike's gaze.
It's a Slytherin boy, standing directly behind John and peering at him like he's the most interesting thing in the world. Bushy black curls frame bright, inquisitive, smart eyes that look just as silver as the snake on his crest. The boy smiles oddly, too tightly. Then his eyes flick over to John's lunch partner.
"Sherlock," Mike says. He clears his throat. "John, this is Sherlock Holmes. First Year, too. My dad knows his mum. Sherlock-"
"John Waston," Sherlock interrupts quickly. "I remember you from Sorting. Neither of us lived up to our siblings' expectations when it came to the houses we were sorted into, did we?"
John feels his throat go tight, especially when that boy smiles again. It could almost look cruel if he wanted it to. Before John can stop his mouth from flapping, the Slytherin continues.
"Your sister, she's a Gryffindor. There was no mistaking that look on her face. It looked a bit like the disappointment on my brother Mycroft's face at the Ravenclaw table. A prefect, looking to be Head Boy next year if he gets what he wants. Mycroft gets what he wants."
And suddenly the boy is sitting with them, on John's left and completely ignoring personal space.
"It's a long line of Ravenclaws I come from. All of them are in the Ministry. Or that's what they say when anyone asks them. Mummy's horrified. With so many Slytherins jailed after the Battle of Hogwarts, they don't have a good reputation. All villains are born in Slytherin."
He cocks his head like a cat, and John opens his mouth again to ask him to leave, but he keeps talking.
"And you're under the impression that all heroes come from Gryffindor. And that only Gryffindors are heroes." He purses his lips once in thought. "You want to be a hero, especially in your sister's eyes. For your father. He died fighting the Death Eaters, didn't he?"
John's whole jaw is wobbling against his will, and the Slytherin's eyes become a gray blur as John's eyes fill with angry tears. He hadn't cried in years, not since the funeral. Not since the hero's funeral that had been given for Harold Watson when he was barely old enough to remember anything but crying into his big sister's middle. His throat makes an awful noise, and he hates it, and he's moving before he can tell his legs to take him anywhere.
Mike calls after him once and rounds a heated glare on Sherlock, whose nonplussed surprise is written all over his slim face.
"Well done," Mike says, taking off after John before the boy got himself lost on the staircases.
He finds John leaning up against the banister of the main staircase, his shoulders shaking but no sound coming from the sturdy boy. It was perhaps the easiest he'd ever seen anyone take a dressing-down from Sherlock Holmes. He lets John sniffle for a few minutes more, keeping an eye out for any nosy onlookers. He gives a young Ravenclaw a pointed stare, and she dashes up the stairs immediately.
"He always does this," Mike hisses at last, not coming close for fear of interrupting something he oughtn't. John's shoulders stiffen. "Don't listen to him, okay? He does it to get a rise out of people."
He doesn't turn around. He hastily wipes his eyes and nose and stands up as straight as he can. When he turns, Mike can tell he's trying to look strong, a bit like a boy trying to fit in his father's boots. Sherlock is always right, Mike knows it. It doesn't mean he has to like it.
"You don't want to be a Hufflepuff?" It comes out, but John doesn't flinch, and Mike likes him more for it.
"I do. I mean, I didn't at first. I mean, no heroes ever came from Hufflepuff, did they?" He scratches the back of one leg with the toe of his shoe. "But I do. I like it here." He changes the subject, sniffling one last time and looking away when he does. "Who was that?"
"My family knows his," Mike replies. "No one really likes him."
"Can't imagine why," John says stiffly, and he finally smiles. It's sad and it's small, but it's a smile.
He's had double Charms with the Slytherins for three weeks, and it's only after the Holmes boy accosted him at lunch that John notices the black-curled boy staring at him from across the room. John frowns horribly, definitely not meeting his eye. He wonders if Professor Flitwick will notice an odd charm sent across to where the Slytherins are sitting. He wonders when they'll be learning hexes.
Carl leans in and asks John how the wand movement goes again, and he forgets about Sherlock Holmes.
Harriet (no, she's going by Harry now) finds him on the way to lunch and grabs him in the same rib-crushing embrace she's always given him. She says she's sorry, she was a right twat and she should be proud of him no matter what stinking house he's in. He grips feebly back at her, and he's happy.
She brings him back to the Gryffindor common room, introduces him to the Second and Third Years (Sally Donovan, a year older than him, is the newest Chaser on the Gryffindor team; she looks a bit like a hero). They treat him nice, they give him some biscuits, and after an hour he skips away back down to the warm kitchen corridor and the still life.
"Amity," John says plainly, and he's grinning ear-to-ear when he sees Mike and Carl waiting for him by the fire.
Gryffindor wins the House Cup at the end of the year, Ravenclaw coming in at a close second and Hufflepuff in third. There was a rumor going up and down the tables that two-hundred points had been deducted from Slytherin in one afternoon by the Holmes boy (someone said explosion in the Astronomy tower; someone else said he burnt through five cauldrons; another girl said he'd been caught stealing from Professor Slughorn's stores, and some really dangerous stuff had gone missing; even a few of the Hufflepuffs were saying that the boy had been in the restricted section of the library after hours, looking into some rather shady things). And another fifty following that when he refused detention for his actions.
John is content with third place. He'd like to share that cup with his sister, gloat about it when they got home, but he rather liked where he'd ended up. In looking over his shoulder at her, his eyes linger on the Slytherin table. They're all bunched up in the middle so that they can afford a wide space at the end, where a solitary, dark-curled figure huddles alone over his food.
AN: Hi, everyone! I don't really know what enticed me to write some Hogwarts!Sherlock (maybe it's all the quality art and fic for it, I dunno), but it's been put to paper! I plan on a chapter per year, this one's only rather short because there's so little interaction in their first year. Also, I hope no one hates me for making John a Badger. He embodies so much of both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and I wanted to write one where he doesn't exactly get what he wants (also I'm a Badger and it's a shameless ploy to get John all to myself). Thanks so much for reading, let me know if you liked and are interested in more, and as usual STAY AWESOME!