A Study in Magic: The Application
by Books of Change
Chapter Three: Thoughts on Sleep
John Watson didn’t dream.
To be more specific: John so rarely dreamed that the occurrences of thereof were worth remembering, even if the dream itself was usually forgotten.
Therefore John was quite surprised when she found herself in a middle of a dream and being perfectly aware of the fact on the evening of Harry’s birthday. So is this what lucid dreaming is like? John wondered with detached amusement, as she surveyed the landscape.
The setting was Baker Street, and John was hovering several feet above the rooftops, facing the pavement below. It was hard to make out any of the buildings beyond 221B, for a thick grey fog covered the entire area. There was also a strange swirling darkness that seemed to encroach upon the peripheries of John’s vision. Am I a ghost here? John mused as she made an attempt to move, preferably fly. But all John could do—if one could call it that—was rise higher. Figures I can’t do what I want, even in a lucid dream, John grumbled as she drifted skyward.
John continued to float towards the heavens like an untethered helium balloon. Then suddenly, her ascent stopped. A silver lion of impossible size burst through the smog, which receded like a reverse shockwave. The ominous darkness vanished as well. John caught a glimpse of Baker Street, now several hundred feet away, from the clearing, and several moving dots on the pavement. Then the lion filled the entirety of her vision like a shining full moon.
The first impression John had of the beast was that it was unspeakably beautiful and magnificent. The ones that followed were ‘terrifying’ and ‘untamed’. Inexplicably, John wondered what would happen if the lion shook his mane. Then the lion opened its jaw, grabbed John by the cuff and dove.
Then they were free-falling. John didn’t feel the wind or rain as the ground approached rapidly. The dots on the pavement proved themselves to be people, one of which was Harry. He had his wand pointing to the heavens. He also looked drenched; his black hair was plastered all over his pale and wet face, his glasses were fogged up and his lips were blue.
Harry, go back inside, you’re going to catch your death, John thought, alarmed.
Everything turned pitch black as soon as the thought passed. John felt startled at the abruptness of it and wondered why her subconscious brought this about.
…John blinked awake. Her heart was pounding as though she’d just escaped a firefight, and her limbs felt heavy. A crowd of freckled redheads was gathered close, and most of them looked as though they’d just returned from a swim at a pool. The person closest to John was a white-haired boy who has green eyes. He was staring at John with acute desperation if not outright despair.
John stared quizzically at the white-haired boy. She should know his name, but it wasn’t forthcoming.
“Who…?” John started and felt intense remorse the minute the word was out of her mouth, because the white-haired boy was Harry, who, of course, reacted like John had stabbed him in the chest
“STOP IT!” he roared, a splash of red flaring on his cheeks and his eyes brimming over in an instant. “THAT’S NOT FUNNY! WHY’D YOU SAY THAT?!”
“Sorry, Harry,” said John, feeling like a contrite murderer. “Mummy brains.”
Harry was neither amused nor convinced, however. He jumped to his feet and started breathing rapidly, like he was hyperventilating. Soon he was clawing at his hair—so white; John was never going to get used to it—and before long, the air in the living room started to crackle as though full of static.
John looked at Sherlock. They shared a brief look and a nod. Then Sherlock picked up Benedict and turned to their guests.
“Get out,” he told them.
“…What?” said Arthur, looking and sounding astounded.
“Leave. Now,” Sherlock ordered, shooing everyone towards the door.
That moment, the cow-head lamp burst into flames. Hermione’s parents took their daughter and fled the room, after giving Harry a look of horror. The Weasleys, Julia, and Neville left after them. John saw the look of understanding and anguish on Molly Weasley’s face and felt a rush of sombre gratitude.
Sirius lingered, despite Remus’ urging.
“Is this—?” said Sirius, dragging his feet, making John wanted to punch him. Hard.
“We need to go,” said Remus, pulling at his friend. “Let them handle it.”
Sirius gestured at John, the well-meaning prat. “But what about—?”
Remus shoved Sirius out to the hallway. Immediately Sherlock stepped over the threshold and shut the door behind him. Not a moment too soon, it turned out. A phantom explosion left a huge crack on it.
John let out a long sigh and braced for what was to come…
“What was that?” Hermione heard her mother demand as soon as the door shut behind them. “What’s going on?”
Unsurprisingly, Sherlock ignored the question and marched into his room, Benedict blinking in his arms. He only started to cry when Sherlock slammed the door.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley shared a rueful look in the quiet that followed.
“After the war… well, a lot of people had trouble coping, especially young ones who lost parents,” Mrs. Weasley explained, at last. “Arthur and I housed a few ourselves … they’d bottle up until they couldn’t and then, well…”
She gestured at the door, where the sounds of muffled explosions could be heard. Neville looked down at his lap, and Mr. Weasley patted his shoulder sympathetically.
“I guess the magic makes it more … outwardly manifest,” said Dad, looking very distraught as he was wont to when he felt guilty. “And I suppose … John and Sherlock lived through a lot of … that, especially in the early days when they … uh, didn’t know magic existed.”
No one said anything in response to the largely rhetorical question.
Hermione supposed no one possibly could.
Harry calmed down in ten minutes, after which he was a picture of mortification. John reassured him that his dignity was intact, and then told him hiding inside the cleaning supply closet would undermine any of his future efforts to keep it that way. Sherlock texted John as soon as the crumbling plaster settled:
“Let’s go get some non-prescription glasses tomorrow,” John said as she replied: Good. Let everyone in. “Ginny had a point—you look much better with them.”
“I’ll look like a hipster,” complained Harry, scrunching his face. “So you’re not worried about me losing my eyes from shattered plastic frames?”
“Wizards probably invented Unbreakable Charms to protect their hipster glasses,” John reasoned. “It can’t be anything else. Just look at Dumbledore’s.”
Harry snorted. He then took a deep breath and sat straight as John walked over to open the door.
“Excellent, are we carrying on?” said Fred Weasley brightly as he bounded in, his twin George skipping behind him.
“Yep, round two,” said John, smirking fondly at the two.
“In your dreams,” said Sherlock haughtily as he sauntered in, a flailing Benedict in his arms. He quickly transferred their baby to John, who cuddled him under her chin, murmuring: “Yeah, yeah, sorry, baby, you’d think your daddy would’ve learned by now…”
Sherlock sat on his customary chair like a king seating himself on his throne before his lowly subjects. He even did his fingertips-touching-in-front-of-his-face pose to complete the image. Vain and theatrical twat, John thought.
“I might as well give a summary of things,” Sherlock intoned. “It will assure all of you, I’m sure.”
Everyone turned to listen, some despite the instinct to curse him to oblivion, like it was no doubt the case for Sirius.
“His Majesty Holmes is letting us hear his address,” Fred whispered loudly.
George pretended to tear up. “I feel so honoured.”
John swatted them. “Shut it, you two. His Highness is speaking.”
Sherlock gave the three of them an ugly look before continuing:
“That Dementor attack was a sortie,” he began. “One designed to gather information and see how we would react. All things considered, the attack ended in our favour, almost embarrassingly so.”
John let the pause draw out for a beat so Sherlock could have his dramatic moment.
“How?” John asked, at last.
“The most reasonable response to the attack is the adult wizards taking care of the situation,” said Sherlock. “That means you, you, you or you—” he waved at Arthur, Molly, Remus, and Sirius, “—or a combination of you, facing the Dementors. If you managed to fend them off, LV still gains something because you would be left shaken and wondering if it will happen again. If you failed, all the better for LV. But that’s not what happened. Harry was the one who figured it out and drove them away.”
He nodded at Harry, the tiny upturn on the corner of his mouth the only hint of how immeasurably proud he was.
“Now consider the purpose of the sortie,” Sherlock went on. “LV wanted to gain intelligence. Why? His goal is becoming the ultimate wizard, one who is immortal and omnipotent, with all Humanity grovelling at his feet. For that, he needs to destroy Harry Potter in a very public manner. But he won’t do it lightly, not after what happened at the Ministry of Magic.”
“Because what happened there ruined the undefeatable image he’s trying portray?” Mrs. Granger guessed.
“Obviously,” said Sherlock, nodding at her in approval. “He will take precautions. He will also try to find out where we are weak. Speaking of, he is probably beating himself in the privacy of his own mind for his weakened state. We know what or who he will blame for it.”
His missing soul jars, John thought, but didn’t say aloud. Everyone else murmured something about Harry’s blood, which John expected.
Albus Dumbledore had explained to everyone LV used the worst possible blood to resurrect himself: Harry’s blood, willingly given. The blood was a shared secret because the kids were there when Harry deduced the reason why LV was trying to kidnap him on the sly during the Triwizard Tournament. The soul jars—Horcruxes—were not.
Sherlock and Dumbledore, for once, agreed that they should keep the subject of Horcruxes on a strict need-to-know basis, considering that their destruction was the crux of their offensive manoeuvre. Among those present, Harry, his closest friends, Sherlock, and John were the only ones in the know. In all honesty, John would rather no one else did. LV’s mind-reading ability didn’t exactly make things easy to have shared secrets, and John would rather shoot her own children than compromise anyone’s life.
John hoped they could find all the remaining soul jars, however many there were out there. Dumbledore guessed six, since seven was a magically significant number, and with six soul jars, LV would be a seven-part soul. John found it assuring that out of the potential six, three had already been destroyed. LV’s diary, Harry burned with Basilisk’s poison. The antique and historically significant cup and ring, which LV also turned to soul jars, Dumbledore and Grandmaster Shin found and destroyed. Whether LV knew about all this, didn’t matter. He must believe some of them were no longer available, for Snape had told him about the Diary.
“Considering this, what would LV do?” Sherlock asked.
“Make himself stronger?” said Hermione, looking terrified.
Sherlock twirled a finger to show her she was close, but not quite.
“Stop himself from getting weaker,” said Harry grimly.
Sherlock nodded. “Good defence is good offence and vice versa. LV knows some vital cards are still available for him for the taking, because if they weren’t, he’d be dead.”
“So what should we do?” asked George eagerly. “We want to help.”
“George!” exclaimed Molly.
“Boys,” Arthur protested. “This can be dangerous…”
“C’mon, Dad, this is important and Sherlock wouldn’t let us listen if he didn’t think we can’t,” Fred argued.
Not exactly assuring, John thought, while Molly swelled with motherly rage.
“And I won’t ask them to do something that will put them in mortal danger,” said Sherlock soothingly. “I’m a parent, too.”
Still not assuring, John mused, as she thought about the things Molly and Mrs. Granger raked them over the coals for.
“Safety is an illusion,” Sherlock argued. “The current situation is only highlighting the fact. You cannot rule out the possibility LV will use some of his followers’ children to plan and execute an infiltration to Hogwarts. And why not? They’re readily available as students.”
The Grangers turned white, and Molly Weasley gasped.
John sighed, “Could’ve argued that better.”
“I was telling the truth,” said Sherlock defensively.
“Yeah, but now the mums are seriously thinking about pulling out their kids,” said John.
“We’re not running away!” the school-age Weasley children, Hermione, Julia and Neville shouted indignantly, making Arthur do a major face-palm in defeat.
“So you want us to spy on the Slytherins?” asked Ron. “I reckon Malfoy would act as the leader, even if he actually isn’t!”
“Don’t assume,” said Sherlock sternly. “LV can just as easily use someone else to do the job. He won’t care who as long as it gets done. That is, if he is thinking to infiltrate Hogwarts.”
“So you need us to keep an eye on Hogwarts,” said Julia sensibly.
“Obviously,” said Sherlock. Then he gave Harry the Look. “Again, don’t assume LV will plan an attack just because I said so. Remember his purpose.”
The children nodded—all except Harry, who was frowning slightly as he tried to figure out what Sherlock was hinting at.
It wasn’t long before a look of epiphany dawned on his face. It made John sigh wistfully.
You’ve only just turned fifteen and you’re already light years ahead of thinking Sherlock’s thoughts after him, John thought. When did this happen?
John continued to bask in the second-hand admiration directed towards Harry as he directed the troops afterward. His presence and words seemed to assure the Grangers and Weasleys more than Sherlock’s did, for there was no hint of reservation when they left.
Lestrade stopped by to pick up his daughter a few minutes after that. He looked like someone thoroughly abused by bureaucracy when he entered.
“Heads up: the MM is looking for an opportunity to see you, Sherlock,” he said.
“He shall look in vain,” said Sherlock dismissively.
Lestrade growled at Sherlock for making his life even more complicated, presumably. Julia rolled her eyes at him and then pressed a toy jeep into John’s hands.
“Grandpa told me to give this to you,” she said. Then she herded Lestrade out of the flat.
There was a moment of sudden stillness after the door shut behind them.
“Bed,” said John to the remaining residents.
“It’s still early,” Harry protested.
John shook her head firmly. “You just fought soul-sucking, joy-eating monsters. Bed.”
Harry huffed. “Fine,” he grouched.
“You raised him well,” said Sirius while Harry stomped noisily upstairs. Then, apparently feeling embarrassed, he hurried downstairs to his own flat.
John and Sherlock took Benedict to their rooms. Sherlock and Benedict, rather incredibly, went out like a light.
John stayed awake. The evening nap, which Sherlock deduced as Dementor-induced, managed to mess up her already discombobulated sleeping schedule. John worried about her levels of zombification come morning as she stared at the ceiling.
John was finally feeling a bit drowsy when the door to the room creak opened a sliver. John glanced at the narrow opening without turning. She saw white hair and a pale face.
So grown up, and yet not quite… John thought sadly.