Title: Meeting of Minds
Fandom(s): Harry Potter, Sherlock (BBC)
Categories: AU, het, Crossover, xover, erotica, romance, drama
Summary: Playing games net Hermione Granger a bit of extra income and an unexpected romantic interest. Socializing results in Sherlock Holmes meeting a female who can match his intellect and interests.
Characters/Pairing: Hermione Granger/Sherlock Holmes, John Watson/Mary Morstan, Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter,
AN: Merry Christmas Everyone!
- Please take this as AU since I'm not staying true to canon plotline and some OOC is to be expected — this is fanfiction people.
- Timeline shift for Potterverse 10 years into the future. The Golden Trio started school in 2001 not 1991, Harry born 1990 not 1980, Battle of Hogwarts in 2007, etc. Harry Potter, AU starting before Deathly Hallows epilogue. B7EWE.
Warnings: graphic sexual imagery. Not for Young Innocent Minds. light BDSM elements. Dominant Sherlock. Submissive Hermione
Spoilers: Sherlock S3, Magnussen and Moriarty.
Beta: My lovely beta BT, thank you for your patience. Any mistakes still in are mine, from last minute tweaks.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hermione Granger, Potterverse and co, J.K. Rowling does. I do not own BBCs Sherlock and co, Moffatt and Gatniss do. I'm simply playing with the characters without making any money from this. The plot alone is mine.
For: LJ Community hermione-smut Round8. Many thanks to Keelhaulrose for organizing this round, and the deadline extension.
3: Prompt: Sapiosexual: One who is attracted to intelligence or the human mind. A few years after graduating from Hogwarts Hermione has, for fun and a bit of profit, taken to going to pub trivia nights. She's the only one of her friends who is not currently attached and she is starting to feel like the constant third wheel when invited along places, and the trivia nights have given her an excuse to turn down invitations. Things have gone smoothly, she's been easily winning most (or all) of the matches she goes to. Then one night she finds herself in a battle of wits with a young man who can recite facts like a human computer. She finds his intelligence is a complete turn-on, and he seems to have the same feeling towards her.
Additional comments: Bonus points if the chosen paramour has noticed Hermione at a previous trivia game and prepared for the next one in order to impress her.
Summary: Hermione knows it is not easy being single when everyone around is married. Sherlock encounters someone who Intrigues him.
~ooO Meeting of Minds 01 Ooo~
"Hermione, do you have any plans for tonight?"
Hermione Granger resisted the urge to bite her lip and say no, just to hear what would follow. Because she had a pretty good idea of it. 'You must come to dinner and meet A Wizard. I think you'll like him.' Thankfully she could be honest and avoid the matchmaking. "Sorry Ginny. I have other plans."
Ginny Potter huffed. "What plans? You have no social life!"
And it was true. Sort of. Kind of. But not quite. "Actually I do. In the Muggle world."
Ginny frowned. "Muggle world?" Her lips twisted into something not quite derisive but very close.
For all the Weasley claims to be Muggle-lovers and blood-traitors they did not understand the greater non-magical world and Hermione's strong attachment to it. It was the reason why she had broken up with Ron and resisted all urgings to 'make-up'. She did not want to 'make-up' and settle for someone who looked down on where Hermione came from.
"Yes, the Muggle world. They have hundreds of music bands and there are always musical concerts or events going on. And art gallery showings and live theatre and movies and museum events—."
"Yes, yes!" Ginny cut off the older witch impatiently. "But none of that is going to help you find a husband." Hermione bit her tongue to cut off the caustic comment that she didn't want a husband. "No one sees you other than at work and you never ever socialize at work! Don't you want a husband and family?" Ginny asked in a coaxing voice, as if she were trying to lure in a wild animal with treats. "I just want you to be happy as I am."
And the sad thing was Ginny was being honest. It was the bane of every single witch — all your married friends wanted to see you married and 'happy' as they were. Too bad Hermione knew she would never be happy with a wizard, even a fellow Muggleborn. She had spent too much time investing herself in her birth world. It began as a knee jerk reaction to resist the magical world that was drawing her away from the parents who she dearly loved. As she grew older the non-magical world became a refuge from the chaos, pain, pressure, and bigotry she experienced in wizarding society. It was her birthplace, her homeland, and she was not willing to give it up for a society that did not truly accept her for all that she was. They kept trying to pigeon box her into a specific slot and bury her and Hermione did not like that.
"I am happy Ginny. I have lots of hobbies and non-work interests. Unfortunately no witch or wizard is interested in what I like."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I attend the lecture nights offered by Muggle universities and I haven't met a single witch or wizard there? I have season tickets to various theatres and music halls and everyone I asked said they weren't interested in joining me?"
Ginny blushed because She had been one of those who Hermione had asked. And she had said no. Fleur was the only one who had accepted Hermione's invitations to go to a few music concerts but after Dominique was born Fleur began refusing the invitations, preferring to stay at home with her baby.
"So what are you doing tonight?" she asked, determined to try and change Hermione's mind about meeting Harry's new auror partner, an exchange auror from Italy.
"I'm meeting a few friends at a pub. They are Muggles who I met at a high-energy physics lecture series. We have the most interesting discussions over a few drinks."
Ginny made a face. The redhead was not academically inclined; she was more interested in results than theory and research. She also knew Hermione was interested in theory and had fun studying and reading. Moments like this Ginny had serious doubts about the Sorting Hat's mental state because it put Hermione in Gryffindor instead of Ravenclaw. Still, Ginny was smart enough to cut her losses. Pushing Hermione never accomplished anything.
"All right then. We do expect you to have lunch with us this Saturday."
Hermione smiled. "Of course. I'll definitely stay a bit after. I haven't seen the kids for a few weeks."
"You've been busy on the weekends."
"A personal project."
"Is it finished?"
"Not quite. But it's getting there."
"Are you going to tell me what it is?"
Hermione laughed. "Nope. You'll find out when I'm ready." She glanced at her wrist, an old-fashioned quartz wristwatch that was not affected by magic. "And I have to run now. I have a meeting in twenty minutes I have to prep for."
Ginny sighed as she watched the curly haired brunette settle her lunch bill and rush off.
Hermione Granger had a secret her magical friends were not aware of. She preferred entertaining herself in the Muggle world — it was cultural and intellectually stimulating, constantly challenging to exercise and develop her intellectual and critical thinking skills — and it was also monetarily profitable.
She had not originally thought of it as a source of income. She had not thought of pub trivia nights at all. It had simply been something she had fallen into. When her new uni-lecture acquaintances invited her to the pub after a lecture night she had said yes to fit it. When they asked her to join them in the trivia rounds she had said yes to fit it. She had not expected to do as good as she had done that first night. Hundred pounds for spending a few hours doing something she liked: using her brain and sharing her knowledge. Easy money.
A little bit of research and casual questioning gave her more information. Many pubs in all the big British cities had some sort of regular trivia night. You paid a small entrance fee and if you won, you or your team took the pot home. Hermione had researched all the pubs in the British Isles with the biggest trivia night pots, the day of week/month they held trivia night. Apparation and portkeys made it easy for her to play in different cities almost every three to four nights a week. If the prize was a gift card or tech toy, or credit for a tab at the pub, it was not difficult to sell it at slightly below market value for hard cold cash; cash that would help her achieve her dream of working independently as a consultant and doing private research.
Currently any truly ground breaking work she did would belong for the ministry due to a buried clause in the standard Ministry employee contract. She needed to resign before she started working on her ideas with real economic potential. Hermione did not want to ask anyone for a loan — Gringotts, Harry, Neville — she did not want to be obligated or tied to another's interests. She wanted to be free to do what she wanted, study what interested her be it magical or Muggle. She had no desire to become like all other witches and wizards, without logic or critical thinking or scientific methods. Thanks to this new source of income she was almost at her goal of financial independence. Just fifteen more big pots and she could resign from the Ministry of Magic.
Besides pub trivia nights gave her a legitimate excuse to turn down invitations from well-meaning friends trying to hook her up with any single wizard.
This was the hundred and twenty fourth game she was playing.
She'd taken the main prize in eighty percent of the games, deliberately throwing fifteen percent to take second place, and honestly winning the second place prize in the remaining five percent.
Her name and face had become well known in the trivia circuits.
Some of the pub owners had suspected her of cheating but had not been able to prove it because she was not cheating; she was just that good.
Her Muggle friends had urged her to sign up for the larger televised events, because the pots were larger, but she preferred not to.
There were Muggleborns and half-bloods who watched the telly and she did not want anyone from the enclaves to find out what she was doing.
She was pretty confident this pot would be hers. Her hundred and twenty fifth.
"Pardon me but I would like to cut in."
Hermione blinked and looked up at the voice that had thrown off her rhythm. A tall slim man dressed in a dark grey bespoke suit and maroon shirt, no tie and expensive Italian shoes had stepped into the central area and was walking to the trivia night host. He was rather attractive with a mop of dark brown curls and pale milky skin.
The host clearly recognized him. "Mr Holmes! It is an honour—" Then his expression fell. "Are you here on business? A case?" It set a wave of murmurs among the audience. Many of them recognized him and it confused Hermione. Just who was this Mr Holmes? On a case? Was he a bobby?
"No! No. I'm here with Doctor Watson. He is attempting to expand my cultural horizons to include pub trivia nights. And it would be most unfair if I were to play but I wish to do so. Simply for the experience, not the prize."
The host looked confused and turned towards the bar where an older gentleman nodded vigorously. Presumably the shift manager or pub owner.
"Mr Holmes, like you said it would be unfair for our regular contestants so how about this… Once this round is over and the winners settled we'll have an extra round for the top three and you. No prize but bragging rights. How does that sound?"
"He's Sherlock Bloody Holmes. I'm not going to pit my brain against his!" Someone from one of the contestant tables shouted.
Sherlock Holmes snorted. "And I am not interested in playing against You."
"Then who do you want to play against?" A tipsy bottle blonde yelled from the audience.
He moved swiftly to stand across Hermione's table and leaned forward close enough for Hermione to see his face. Defined planes, long nose with large flared nostrils, high defined cheekbones, full cupid-bow lips, slanted pale blue-green-gold flecked eyes.
"Her." "Sectoral heterochromia."
He blinked rapidly. "You are correct. I do have sectoral heterochromia." He cocked his head to one side. "Only child of upper-middle-class parents. Dentists. Private boarding school. Experienced a great deal of stress in your late teen years. Bullying? PTSD? But no substance abuse. Work in an office or research position that requires you to handle and read printed or out-of-print books. From the ink stains on your fingers, a fountain pen, no… a quill user?" He concluded incredulously. "Who on earth uses quills these days?"
Hermione controlled the reflex to flinch and smiled blandly. "Alternative boarding school. Writing lines is more difficult with quills and it makes students more wary about breaking rules. I got a taste for it. I'm also part of a historical re-enactment group."
He gave her a half-confused half-intrigued look. "You like order and guidelines. It shows in your wardrobe." His face twisted. "But not all rules. You pick and choose what you follow and what you break. It shows in your carved ivory and bone accessories. Not very PC of you," he added but not disapprovingly.
A not-a-witch-Hermione would have agreed but witch-Hermione knew natural material were the best conductors and capacitors of magic. And gems were much more expensive than carved bone, horn and antlers. Of course she could not say this, but she also could not resist teasing the very intelligent and very logical Muggle. "When I break rules I tend to throw them out the window Mr Holmes. You seem to be the same sort."
He looked affronted. "I do Not follow rules!" he proclaimed haughtily.
"Sure you do. You're wearing clothes. That's a society rule. If you truly didn't care you'd go around naked and risk frostbite and getting arrested." Hermione countered cheerily. "And there is gravity. If you weren't subject to it you'd be floating off into space."
He set his hands on the table and leaned forward. She could see his eyes moving rapidly over her, ruthlessly examining and taking in every inch of her, spotting all flaws and tells. Hermione remained still. She had been subjected to worse and personally insulting scrutiny from purebloods and bigots. He might be able to deduce her personal history but he would never deduce she was a witch and magical. His sort were usually too blinkered by science and logic to rise above it.
The host coughed, drawing both their attentions. "Miss Granger, are you agreeable to an extra round with Mr Holmes?"
Hermione smiled demurely though her eyes were anything but. They challenged Sherlock Holmes as she answered the host, "I have no issues with an extra round."
Sherlock Holmes was not a pub crawler. Pub crawling was more of a John Watson thing. But here he was… pub crawling… sort of… trying to be 'social' after his four-minute return from exile and solving the faux Moriarty case. Faking one's presence on electronic media was much easier than faking one's death and autopsy if one had the correct technical skills and equipment. Like that second-string lieutenant trying to capitalize on Moriarty's mystique. John had insisted on a night out drinking after solving that case and being discreetly pardoned for his efforts.
~ooO Begin Flashback ~o~
"John, I will concede to the occasional drink but I see no reason why I have to endure these… trivia nights." Sherlock stated with a grimace. "Facile games that require no real thinking are not my idea of entertainment."
"Sherlock, I'm not asking you to play. That would totally destroy everyone's enjoyment. But there's no reason why you can't watch." John's expression turned sly. "Trivia nights can get fiercely competitive with a lot of cheating. I'm sure you will be plenty entertained by deducing who is cheating and how. The pub owners would appreciate it if you let them know quietly. Perhaps they'll even pick up our tab for your services!"
"I doubt it but if you insist I will accompany you and Gavin."
"That's Greg!" DI Lestrade corrected the younger man as he made his way to the bar and placed his order. "Two lagers and a scotch for the curly-haired chap."
~o~ End Flashback Ooo~
As John had predicted, Sherlock spotted several cheaters and pointed them out to the pub owners. They didn't offer to pick up their entire tab but offered to write off fifty pounds. That allowed John and Greg to indulge more than their financial budgets would usually permit.
It was also the first night he had seen Her.
Months later, if one asked Sherlock Holmes, what had first caught his attention, he would promptly answer 'Her voice'. Clear, polished, slightly husky, composed and confident. There was absolutely no doubt in her responses. And she was right each and every single time, no matter how obscure or specialized the subject matter. Some of the questions even went over Sherlock's head because they were about topics he considered irrelevant: astronomy, popular fiction, modern art. And unlike the other contestants, she was playing in a team of one and not distracted by the audience or her fellow contestants. She was utterly focused on the host, breaking only to sip from a glass of iced water. No liquor. She was definitely in it for the money, not the liquor. Given how she was checking her wristwatch, she was not going to stay and drink even if she won the pot, a two-hundred pound drinking tab.
Curious he paid closer attention and found himself thrown off. She was not easy to deduce. And even then he was not certain of the deductions made. Some of her character traits were odd, old-fashioned and things Sherlock had rarely seen in someone her age. Like her navy-blue calf-length heavy, layered skirt and the old-fashioned high collared blouse made of sheer cream georgette and lace. She wore black low-heeled calf-high boots that vanished under the edge of her skirt. A sand-coloured leather book bag rested against a table leg near her foot. She wore no make-up, only a light dusting of powder and peach gloss. Her curly brown hair was twisted up into an old-fashioned Edwardian pompadour secured by Japanese-style kanzashi. And there was a charcoal grey cloak thrown over the back of her chair! A cloak, not a coat.
Intrigued he began investigating. It had not been difficult to find out her name. She was a regular pub trivia night player and winner but not a drinker. Hermione Granger.
~ooO Begin Flashback ~o~
"Sometimes she does stay for a drink and chat, especially when her uni friends are here."
His well-lubricated source was not difficult to deduce; administrative office worker in her sixties with two cats and a grandchild, granddaughter.
"They're a nice bunch. Not really uni students but they attend the lecture series offered to alumni and the public. Hermione is particularly fond of theoretical physics."
"Does she work in a research lab?" Sherlock asked casually.
"Research yes, lab no. Her boss has her doing all the paperwork, not experiments. She doesn't like it."
"Definitely not," another middle-aged woman chimed in. "She wants to research what interests her, not the department. Said they were too conservative to venture into uncharted waters, to rock the boat."
The first woman snorted. "If someone didn't rock the boat and take a leap of faith then where would we be? Living like peasants in thatch-covered houses, that's what."
Quite insightful and accurate.
"Well, I for one hope the poor girl gets the chance to get out and work for herself."
Unlikely. Unless she is independently wealthy. Then something struck him.
"You mentioned she is a regular for pub trivia nights."
"Oh yes. Usually she wins the big pot. Sometimes second place."
"She doesn't keep the prizes though. Most of the time she sells them. Says having more than one camera, music player and cellphone is silly. And isn't interested in drinking herself sick every weekend. But she's quite fond of trivia nights."
"Edna mentioned that she saw Hermione play in Leeds, in the Fox and Crown."
"Barbara said she saw Hermione in Edinburgh. Don't know if she played there."
"She went to boarding school in Scotland. She was probably visiting her old teachers."
~o~ End Flashback Ooo~
With that information it wasn't hard for Sherlock to do a bit of research, make a few phone calls, hack a few databases, and find out that for the past year Hermione had been a regular player in almost every pub with a respectable prize-pot — even those outside London. And even more interesting she was maintaining an almost impossible schedule, playing a game in Leeds Sunday evening and then another came in Edinburgh Tuesday night. How was she managing it and a regular nine-to-five job?
John Watson scowled at his best friend who was carefully filling out five whiteboards, each labelled with a different city's name. Across the top were the names of pubs in each of the cities, down the side were a list of date/times with an X under a pub name.
"Sherlock, stop it! Hermione Granger's not a criminal!"
"I am not saying she is," Sherlock spoke impatiently, his focus on the white boards before him. It helped to display all the evidence visually. "But she has been keeping an impossible schedule John." He turned to his best friend. "Look, I've tracked every pub trivia game she had participated in, the cities she played in, mapped the cost, distance and travel time required to go there and back from London. Even if she won every pot and sold the prize, she would be just breaking even with rail ticket expense. And she would be exhausted from all the travelling!"
"I don't know Sherlock. Maybe she got a discount on an unlimited rail pass. Maybe she sleeps on the train back to London and goes straight to work. Maybe she likes the thrill of winning pub trivia games and not the actual prize."
Sherlock frowned, not appreciating anything that was derailing his chain of thought. "John, it still does not explain how she travelled from Leeds to London in thirty minutes."
"Maybe you made a mistake."
"I Do Not make mistakes."
"Of course you do. If you got the info from a local paper or blog maybe it was a typo."
Sherlock frowned and shook his head. "John, I watched the security tapes. They were time stamped. She was in one city at eight-twenty-eight and in another at nine-fifteen."
John Watson rubbed his face and wished he could somehow restrain his best friend. "Listen Sherlock. You dragged me all across London interviewing bartenders and wait-staff and regular pub-goers. They all say the same thing… She's bright, smart, sharp, very insightful in a polite way, in short a nicer you. She doesn't do the cutting deductive thing in public unless she wants to warn by-standers of someone who is Not Good."
Sherlock frowned. "But she is breaking the laws of physics!"
"So you say Sherlock. But unless I see it with my own two eyes I won't believe it. I'm sure there is a perfectly logical explanation. You just don't have all the facts."
That was a valid possibility. And Sherlock had exhausted his usual resources. Then next thing would be to interview the person directly involved… Miss Granger herself. Unfortunately her address was unlisted. Truly unlisted and unavailable unless Sherlock was willing to use a favour to get it from Mycroft, which he was not.
"You know Sherlock, if I knew you were going to go paranoid over a pub trivia night contestant I would not have taken you with me."
Sherlock smiled broadly. Perhaps he did not have to involve Mycroft after all.
"John, when is the next trivia night at the Lion and Crown?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"John, if you don't tell me I'll go online and find out myself."
"It's next week Wednesday."
Sherlock turned towards his laptop and began researching the types of questions generally asked in pub trivia nights. It would not do to be unprepared for his current case! Sherlock wasn't planning on participating in the game himself but it could become necessary to get close to his target.
On the Wednesday in question, John Watson reluctantly accompanied Sherlock Holmes to the Lion and Crown. Mary Watson had decided to accompany her husband, to 'put a break on any Sherlock fits' as she described it.
Sherlock spent forty minutes deducing the pub goers, scanning the crowds for one particular individual. He finally caught sight of her ten minutes before the trivia night was due to start.
She was smiling at the host as she handed her pre-filled contestant card and five pound participant fee. Then she wandered into the private party room that was set up for trivia night. She knew many of the other occupants — regular trivia night participants. Most of them greeted her cheerfully, a few with carefully veiled malice. From her expression she clearly was not concerned about unspoken threats. Unlike the rest she requested a jug of iced water. She poured herself a cup while she listened to the host go over the rules and prizes, her expression calm and unconcerned.
She was not feeling any pressure. She was confident she would win this. How or why Sherlock was uncertain. Maybe she had played against all the current contestants and was familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe she had prepared, reviewed and tested herself. Sherlock was curious to know. How she could be so supremely certain in something that had an element of chance?
So he watched and understood why.
She was certain because she was that good. Her knowledge base was broad and all encompassing. She was equally good at biology, chemistry, physics, maths as she was in history, arts, literature, culture. Questions about obscure, almost irrelevant factoids did not throw her. Questions about cutting edge hard sciences did not phase her. Questions requiring fairly complex mental computations were answered just as easily as those involving conjuring Greek verbs and doing Russian translations. Her IQ had to be in the genius range. She was probably using a technique similar to his Mind Palace to organize and retrieve such a wide variety of information.
With each question answered, each round completed and tallied, the number of contestants remaining dwindled. They were showing signs of stress — flushed skin, perspiration, damp underarms, tense muscles — but Hermione Granger looked just like she had at the start — relaxed and composed, sipping iced water and chatting with a few acquaintances in the audience.
He suddenly realized he did not want to wait until she won the game. She had a tendency to vanish right after she won or dropped out — Sherlock was absolutely certain she was deliberately throwing twenty percent of the games, the ones that she got second place.
"Pardon me but I would like to cut in."