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A Study in Slytherin: The Chat in the Hat
Title:  A Study in Slytherin: The Chat in the Hat  
Author: [info]capt_facepalm
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: AU (BBC Sherlock & Harry Potter Crossover)
Characters:  John  Watson (aged 11 years), The Sorting Hat (age unknown)
Disclaimers: Hogwarts and its settings belong to J.K.Rowling; BBC Sherlock characters belong to Moffat & Gatiss (with a nod and a wink to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle); if there is anything left, it might be mine.
Summary:  Muggle-born John Watson is having a hard time adjusting to his new life at Hogwarts School.
Warnings:   Alternate Universe and ART!FLAIL
Word Count:  1670 plus dubious ART
Author's Notes:
~As introduced during [info]watsons_woes Second Anniversary Party


John Watson just could not catch a break. Self-pity did not come naturally to him, but even so, the events surrounding his short tenure at Hogwarts School were nothing short of disastrous.  Now he was answering the summons to the Headmaster’s office, hoping that he would be expelled.  There was still enough time to catch up on his subjects at his old school if he worked really diligently.  He might not lose the year if he left right away.

John paused in front of the headmaster’s door.  It was closed.  He did not know the password so after five long minutes he started to walk away. As he did, the door began to open on its own. John hung his head and climbed the stairway toward his fate.
The headmaster was busy but motioned John to take a seat on a rickety stool in the corner. John gazed around the room. There were many strange and wondrous objects scattered around on every obliging surface. John’s wandering gaze settled upon the worn out hat on the upper shelf. The Sorting Hat; the source of all his trouble!

As if sensing John’s glare of enmity, the Hat raised what could only be an questioning eyebrow.

“This is all your fault!” hissed John so that only the Hat could hear him.

“Watson, if you have something to say to the Sorting Hat, you must put it on your head,” said the headmaster from the other side of the chamber.

John had just learned the accio charm and was about to use it to retrieve the Sorting Hat when said article took action on its own.  It frowned, and twisting its peak, shrugged off dust and weeks of work by industrious spiders. Then using its brim, it hopped to the edge of the shelf and leaped  squarely onto John’s astonished head.

“Now, John Watson, what is this about?” the relic asked.

“Is it possible that you... I think I may have been sorted into Slytherin by mistake?”

The hat frowned. Since when had it become acceptable for children to question the decisions of wise and noble headgear? Young Watson was the most recent to do so and the Hat’s initial reaction was one of irritation. Yet, as it examined John, the Hat realised that this was not the same happy-excited-cheerful child that sat beneath him at the Sorting.  This John Watson was downright miserable.

“The Sorting is a time-honoured tradition. Both its precision and accuracy are unquestionable. Why do you ask?”

John and the Sorting Hat
Conversing with eleven-year old children was very frustrating for most ancient artifacts.  Their thoughts were often so scattered and impulsive. John’s response was no different: a flood of jumbled emotions, memories, and facts.

“I don’t fit in. The other kids hate me. Those bloody Slytherins treat me like crap because I am a mudblood! Owww!”

It had never occurred to John that he could have his ears boxed by a hat.

“Watch your language, John Watson.” warned the Hat. “Now, start again.”

John breathed heavily, then began again.

“The Slytherins don’t like me because I don’t come from a wizarding family.  They get after me at every opportunity.”

“Give me an example,” demanded the Hat.

“My Mum doesn’t understand owls so I still have to use the Muggle post system. Some of the third years stole my mail and read it out loud in the common room,” said John, but his memories were more intense. Being roughed up before being pinned down by the bigger kids while others rifled through his book bag... their discovery of the letter he was about to send, the contents’ public disclosure, the subsequent mocking of his misery, his homesickness, and concern for his father... the cruel reaction from the rest of the gathered Slytherins.

“Did you want to hurt them for hurting you?”

“Yes! I wanted to smash the smugness off their ugly faces! I wanted to stuff them all in a small box! I wanted them to burst into flame! I would... “

“Did you want to hurt anyone else? The others who laughed at you, perhaps?”

“Yes! Them too! Everyone! The whole school! I hate them all!” John cried.

“Really? Because that is not what I am seeing inside you. Your impassioned outburst is insincere. It is disappointment I see, not hatred.  It is natural to wish to retaliate against those who have done us harm. And it is a mark of great character to resist the temptation to lash out against the innocent.”

After a pause, the Hat continued.

“John Watson, you are courageous and would make a splendid Gryffindor.  Your intelligence would be well-suited in Ravenclaw. And, your huge capacity for loyalty would surely see you rise to the head of Hufflepuff, but the path you have chosen for your life is much better suited to Slytherin.”

“My path? I... I don’t understand.”

“Before you came to Hogwarts, you wanted be a doctor when you grew up. Is this not so?”

“Yes. I thought I did.”

“And when you arrived here you learned about magical healing and became interested in becoming a healer.  Is this also true?”


“The qualities of Slytherin are not evil;  they include ambition, the ability to handle power, and decisiveness. These are important traits for both Muggle doctors and wizarding healers; to stand between life and death requires them. The greatest wizarding healers have nearly always come from Slytherin. It has always been so. It is not by accident that even in Muggle culture, the symbol of the serpent staff still represents healing.

“But I am not like them. They are mean and cruel.”

“You must not judge your house by its current cadre of students. Yes, Slytherin tends to attract people for the wrong reasons. But it is also draws in people like yourself and helps them develop to their full potential as instructors, as leaders, and yes, as healers.

“It will be difficult for you, but remember this: although your fate is not written, John Watson, you have it within you to become ranked among the greatest healers in the wizarding world.”

This signalled the end of the discussion and Sorting Hat gently floated off the little boy’s head.  John, sniffed and hastily wiped at his eyes as he watch the hat drift lazily back to it’s place on the dusty shelf. He looked questioningly at the headmaster, who waved him off with a gesture of dismissal.

“Try to keep out of trouble, Watson. And stay out of the Forbidden Forest.”

John nodded, picked up his books, and fled the chamber. He did not want to cry in front of the headmaster.  He did not want to cry at all, but the words of the Sorting Hat were far from comforting.  Even at eleven years of age, John could understand their implications. They foretold of seven years of friendless isolation and a lifetime of suspicion. 

John plotted his route back to Slytherin House using as many disused corridors as possible. The few students he encountered looked at him with suspicion.  Lone Slytherins skulking in corridors late in the evening could only be up to no good.

As he rounded the third floor east corridor he was immediately confronted by five Gryffindors.

“What have we here?” a second year exclaimed, as the others circled round.  John was relieved to recognise Greg and Sally from the Hogwarts Express.  They had shared a compartment that first day. It had been wonderful, sharing their stories and their candies as they rumbled through the countryside. John had never been outside the city before. The green splendor of the scenery and his introductory experience with pepperimps had left him speechless. A boy named Anderson had taken the time to point out all the interesting features in the landscape. They were all a little nervous about starting at Hogwarts, but John was not overly apprehensive.  If the other kids were as pleasant as these new friends, school was going to be great.

That was before the Sorting.  Now in the darkened corridor, Sally sneered at him and Greg would not look him in the eye.  Anderson, also sorted into Gryffindor,  was nowhere to be seen, but had been very nasty to John ever since the ceremony.

John did not recognise the other three students. They were probably in second year.  Surrounded, he stood his ground but said nothing as they relieved him of his wand and his books.  Two of the older boys tried to provoke him into a fight, but John was having none of it, knowing that it would only make matters worse. They stole his school tie and marked his blazer with an strange, indelible glyph. Judging from the Gryffindor reaction, it had to be something degrading. Greg eventually stepped in and put an end to their fun.  It had taken him a while to become disgusted enough to challenge his seniors, but challenge them he did. The second years did not want to desist and their leader protested.

“Come on, Greg. Underage Slytherins should not be out in the evening. He was obviously up to some mischief.”

“He’s just a kid, Webber. I’m sure you’ve managed to disrupt whatever evil plot he was up to. Besides, you’re making him cry.”

“Are you crying, poor ickle crybaby?”

“Do what you want. Sally and I are leaving,” Greg said grabbing Sally’s elbow and starting down the corridor. Webber and his two remaining cronies regarded John. One of them shoved him hard into the wall. The other one tossed John’s belongings at him.  All three guffawed as John knelt to pick them up. They hurried to catch up to Greg and Sally; their laughter echoed down the empty corridor.

John retrieved his belongings and checked the time.  It was now officially past curfew. He still had to return to his dormitory without the upper year Slytherins catching him..  His previous scuffle with them had escalated into a full-fledged beating, and there is no recourse to take when it is your own house’s prefects who are the ones beating you.


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The Grim of the Baskervilles  
Sneak Preview! 

The visiting Durmstrang contingent was welcomed at the Slytherin table. The Slytherin senior students crowded around Sherlock and the other Durmstrang students, clearly impressed by the morning’s wizardry demonstration. Sherlock tired of their incessant fawning and looked around the Great Hall. There, at the far end of the table, sat that Slytherin first year who had volunteered. Well, volunteered was hardly the right word. Still, afterwards, the boy had picked himself off the floor, quietly charmed the rips and burns out of his robes, and with a glare of loathing for several of his house, limped painfully off the dais.

The Slytherins had many questions for him but Sherlock excused himself from their company and strode to the end of the long table..

"Was it Thestral or Hippogriff?"
"What?" the startled boy looked up from his scroll.
"You've obviously been in the Forbidden Forest. You've been attacked. By something large with hoofs. It wouldn't have been a unicorn. You're not their type. So, Thestral or Hippogriff?"
"Centaur. Not that it is any of your business,” he replied, gathering his things to leave. “By the way, it’s ‘hooves’, not ‘hoofs’, I think."
Sherlock's eyes widened with something which might be akin to interest and a genuine smile graced his face for the first time since his arrival. He raised his arm to bar John's path. 

The Grim of the Baskervilles

Alternate Universe Crossover
BBC Sherlock & Harry Potter 

...coming soon!


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Putting John in Slytherin was a challenge, but I did not want to exactly replicate the ideas of other writers.

The newest chapter, How to Train Your Broomstick, has just been posted.  I hope you like it!

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