Here we are again, number three.

This fic may take a while to come together, there's a lot going on right now school-wise, so my writing hours are becoming painfully constricted.

This story is an important one. A lot will happen. There will be deaths, spilled secrets, mentions of child abuse, and possibly substance abuse, but I haven't properly decided about that yet.

On a lighter tone, John discovers girls…

Disclaimer: Like before, I don't own any rights, ect.

This is a follow on from A Study in Four, and Babysitting Detail. I strongly suggest you read those first, if you haven't already.

Chapter 1

The sun rose over the Holmes estate to reveal two boys, fast asleep on a sofa, the books they had been studying on the floor. The first thing that John Watson realised when he woke up was that someone had placed a blanket over him. The second thing he noticed was that his head was on Sherlock Holmes's shoulder.

Instinctively he jerked away, which turned out to be a bad idea for both his aching limbs and Sherlock, who woke abruptly when he toppled onto the floor.

"John…" he whined sleepily, scrabbling back on to the sofa. Before he could complain further there was a knock on the door, then Mycroft strode into the room.

"Go away, Myc," moaned Sherlock. "I'm asleep."

"I can see that, Lockie, but mummy wants both of you to come downstairs for breakfast. She would very much like to meet John, as she didn't get the opportunity last night."

"We'll be down in a minute," yawned John, searching his rucksack for fresh clothes. Mycroft nodded, and swept out.

"There goes the queen," muttered Sherlock, getting to his feet.

Ten minutes later, John was tentatively following Sherlock into the enormous dining room. He was oddly curious; Sherlock never talked about any of his family in favourable tones, least of all his mother.

"Ah," said a sharp voice. "Mr Watson, it's nice to meet you."

Mrs Holmes was tall and slender, with dark brown hair that she wore in a tight bun. Even if John hadn't been introduced to her, he thought she would be easy to spot as Sherlock's mother. Only a Holmes could have those cheekbones.

"Nice to meet you too, Mrs Holmes," said John, copying Sherlock in taking a seat. His mouth watered at the sight of the cooked breakfast. There hadn't had a lot to eat since the end of term. He tucked in cautiously, and then found Sherlock staring at him, studying him like he would an interesting experiment. It was quite creepy. He didn't say anything.

"So what time did you arrive last night, Mr Watson?" asked Mrs Holmes.

"About nine o'clock," he said. "We did mean to come and see you, but we fell asleep."

"Yes, so Mycroft informed me," she said. "I hope you can cheer my sons up, while you're here. Even Mycroft has spent too much time in his room these holidays."

Sherlock snickered, and Mycroft whipped his head around to glare at him.

"Sherlock tells me you have a younger brother," continued Mrs Holmes. "Is he still at home?"

"No, Harry's staying with the West's for the rest of the holidays."

"Good family," said Mycroft. "I believe they have twins in his year?"

"Yes, Callum and Clara."

"Their brother Andrew is going into fifth year. I hear he's been tipped for prefect."

Mrs Holmes finished eating, and rose gracefully to her feet.

"I must be off, but I will join you later for dinner…" she paused as an owl swooped through the open window, and deposited three letters. A few moments later, Mycroft was smugly pinning his brand new head boy badge on his chest.

"I didn't expect anything less," said Mrs Holmes coolly, waltzing out of the room. For a moment John saw hurt and disappointment cross Mycroft's face, but just as quickly it was gone, and he turned on Sherlock.

"How much do you know?" he hissed in a half venomous, half resigned voice.

"About your girlfriend?" sniggered Sherlock. "Hardly a difficult deduction."

"A girlfriend?" asked John. "A bit normal for a Holmes, isn't it? Sherlock said you guys were more into arranged marriages."

"That is the tradition," sighed Mycroft. "Unfortunately mummy would not approve of her."

"She's a muggleborn," noted Sherlock. "Not that there's anything wrong with muggleborns," he said hurriedly, seeing John's expression. "Mother isn't really that prejudiced, but the Holmes's have been a strict pureblood line for centuries. We must be the only ones without an established Slytherin connection."

"Mycroft Holmes, going against tradition…"

Mycroft glared at John. "We can go to Diagon Alley on the Wednesday. Tell your brother to meet us there; you got your Gringotts keys mixed up."


Wednesday dawned hot and sunny, and everything was set for their trip to Diagon Alley. John was ridiculously excited. The novelty of the magical street still hadn't worn off, but Sherlock had to admit that he was looking forward to it. Perhaps it was the idea of sharing it with someone who wasn't mummy or Mycroft. He decided that was probably the case. Shopping trips were always so dull, this one had promise to be a little more interesting.

Johns temporary addition to the Holmes household had benefits. Sherlock was now much less bored than he had been all summer, and John's presence diluted the usual estate hostilities. Even Mycroft was cheerful, even if he insisted on using the ridiculous nickname. At least 'Lockie' was better than... Sherlock stopped the thought with a shudder.

John had never used floo powder before, a concept that Sherlock's mother found baffling. John was obviously bewildered by the bombardment of advice he received, but managed very well, even if he did have to knock over Sherlock when he ploughed out of the fireplace. A pair of nearby girls laughed when they saw them sprawled in a heap. They laughed even harder at their sheepish expressions when they managed to pull themselves upright. The third girl in the group looked on sympathetically.

"Don't worry," she called to John. "I used to have real problems with floo powder. You'll find your feet soon enough. Are you a first year?"

John flushed with embarrassment.

"Third," he informed her. She gasped and blushed too.

"I'm so sorry, I thought-"

"It's okay, I know I'm short," he laughed. "I'm John Watson."

"Sarah Sawyers," she said. "I'm in your year, but in Gryffindor."

"Nice to meet you, Sarah."

"Likewise... Look, I'd better go. I'll see you at Hogwarts then."

"Yes," said John. "See you at school."

The three girls made their way out the back of the pub. John watched them leave.

"I think you're dribbling," said Sherlock. John scowled at him.

"Ha ha very funny."

"Are you boys ready?" asked Mycroft, who had been waiting patiently to one side.

"Yes, let's go," said Sherlock, and they set off towards Gringotts.

When they entered the cool marble hall, a fair-haired figure sped towards them, and slammed into John.

"Hey, Harry," laughed John. "Did you miss me?"

"No," chuckled Harry. "It was a good break. I get fed up of seeing your ugly mug every morning."

"Don't be cheeky," said John, pretending to give his brother a clip around the ear. "Here's your key, don't lose it! I'm trusting you to look after it for the entire year, if you're sure you're grown up enough."

Harry nodded eagerly and took the key. Sherlock sighed. This was going to be a long day.


They were in Flourish and Blotts when John felt a gentle tugging on his sleeve.

"Carl?" he gasped. "Is that you?"

The boy nodded, looking down on John. John just thought it was plain humiliating. The kid was a whole year younger than him.

"Hi John, had a good summer?"

"Not bad. What about you? I can't believe how much you've grown!"

"Nor can mum. She keeps complaining that all my robes are too short. I don't know why SHE'S miserable. She doesn't have to wear them. Personally I think she's more upset about the swimming trunks, but it wasn't my fault they-"

"John are you... Oh hello Carl."

"Hi Sherlock. Look, John, I'll find you on the train. My sister's given me a load of ideas for pranks, and I've heard that there's a new transfiguration teacher to test them on."

"Yes, that's right. Professor Moriarty."

"Exactly." The boy grabbed the book he had been looking for, and swung around the bookshelf with a quick 'see you!'

"He likes you," remarked Sherlock. "You've got a faithful pet there."

"Sherlock don't be mean, he's a good kid."


"Don't tell me you're jealous."

"Don't be ridiculous."


Sherlock didn't even acknowledge the girls as they settled in the compartment. He wouldn't have minded, but Molly sat far too close for comfort, and Sarah had captured John's attention, and Sherlock could see that he wouldn't be getting it back any time soon. Ignoring Molly he closed his eyes, pretending to go to sleep. Outside it was getting dark. They'd be lighting the lamps soon. As he thought that, the compartment was bathed in light. He opened his eyes when the other's chatter stopped abruptly.

Four Gryffindors were standing in the doorway, obviously looking for a fight. Sherlock recognised them. Anderson, and his pathetic girlfriend were in his year. Sally Donovan and Dimmock the year above. He suppressed a smirk. This would be fun.

"Hello, freak," said Anderson smugly.

"Ah, Anderson. Still hiding behind your lackeys?"

"Sally what's going on?" asked Sarah.

"I think I can answer that," said Sherlock before Donovan could speak. "Anderson wants to beat me up, this is his idea. But he knows, like everyone else how good we are at fighting, with or without wands, so he needs help. Of course his girlfriend agreed immediately, and once she was in Dimmock decided to come along as he fancies her and wants to impress her, even though he spent all morning snogging Donovan. Donovan is also secretly snogging Anderson, though she doesn't really think much of him. Anderson, being relatively young and inexperienced thinks that Donovan is the best kisser in the school, but isn't quite willing to dump the girlfriend, who is reputed to be beautiful. He likes having her on his arm, even though Dimmock recently told him she was a worthless slut in an attempt to get them to split up so he can have 'his turn'. Any questions?"

There was a moment's silence, and then the girlfriend burst into tears. She punched Anderson in the gut and ran away down the corridor; leaving him crumpled on the floor. Dimmock ran after her, and Donovan fled.

"Oh and Anderson," finished Sherlock. "Your friends had the right idea when they ran away."

Anderson painfully staggered to his feet, and hurried away after Donovan.