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fic: Harry's Game

Title: Harry's Game
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Harry/Sarah, Sherlock/John, past Harry/Clara
Rating: R
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 2414
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: In a world of winners and losers, Harry Watson has always been a winner.
A/N: written for pisaci's birthday - happy birthday to her! Thanks to blooms84 and thimpressionist for beta wisdom and encouragement. Part of the Trouble With Harry series.

Harry's Game

In a world of winners and losers, Harry Watson has always been a winner.

Look at her now, tanned and relaxed, glass of orange juice in front of her, stretching lazily in the sunshine, perfectly content to watch the movements of the pretty sulky waitress clearing away the surrounding tables, trayloads of half-empty glasses of water and tiny coffee-cups with their thick sugary silt. She doesn't know what's making the girl scowl – a hangover, or a quarrel with the boyfriend (or just possibly girlfriend), family troubles... Could be anything, really. Pity; she'd look much nicer if she smiled. Harry bets she can get a smile out of her, though. In ten minutes, or fifteen at the most. She's never failed yet at anything she set her hand to.

Not everyone sees it that way, of course. Harry's loser of a brother doesn't, for a start. But then John doesn't even know what a loser he is. Joins the army to please their dad, who Harry could have told you wasn't going to take a blind bit of notice. Gets shot in Afghanistan, comes home a wreck, then moves in with a lanky ex-public-school tosser and starts playing cops and robbers with him. Two grown men: it's pathetic. Not to mention John's embarrassingly obvious crush on his flatmate, who of course is the last to know. Makes you laugh when you think of Sherlock's reputation as a detective; Mr Oblivious couldn't even see what was right under his nose. And meanwhile John went on mooning after him and pretending to be interested in girls, which frankly fooled nobody. So far back in the closet he could see Narnia, if you asked Harry. Which nobody did.

She'd tried to talk to John about it once. Not the Sherlock thing, god, no. Years before that, when John was still at Bart's and he'd had that thing about the scrum-half from Guy's, whatsit, Frank Clayton. Who was obviously queer as a coot and madly interested in John. But would John do anything about it? Not bloody likely. She doesn't remember the details of that conversation – admittedly, she might have been a bit pissed at the time. But whatever it was she'd said, or John had said, it was clear after that that they weren't going to talk about it again. Or anything like that, ever.

Internalized homophobia, her ex Leanne would have called it. Typical academic, Leanne; always did like her jargon. Trust her to find a fancy way of calling someone a screwed-up closet case. Depressing, having a brother like that. Mind you, the parents would have had a fit if he'd come out. They still don't know about him and Sherlock, not properly. They couldn't really cope with her and Clara, even though they liked Clara.

Everybody liked Clara. Harry pulls a face now, thinking about it. Everyone felt sorry for Clara – spends all that time putting up with Harry and then Harry walks out on her, it's just not fair, such a lovely girl. What do they know about the constant strain of living with a fucking martyr? All that silent good-girl disapproval. Oh, she'd never say, but you knew what she was thinking all right. Watching the easy tears well up and fall, silently, over something Harry was supposed to have done.

Harry doesn't cry – hasn't, more than, oh, two or three times in her life that she can remember, but when she does her tears are like rusty wire, pulled out of the heart of her, wrenching, wrecking.

Clara made her cry, once. Just the once. Harry doesn't give anyone a second chance to hurt her: it's one of the things that makes her a winner. She doesn't remember what the row was about, but she still hears Clara's voice sometimes, saying that thing she said: People aren't real to you, are they? They're just counters in a game.

Harry had cried, and said she was sorry, and promised to be different from now on, and gone out and shagged someone else, the very first chance she got. Then walked out properly and told Clara to file for divorce on grounds of adultery. Clara, the fucking pedant, had said it wasn't adultery and there wasn't going to be a divorce because a civil partnership is not a marriage by law. Filed for it just the same, though, and got custody of most of their friends in the process. Not that Harry cares about that. Fuck 'em: if they don't want to be friends with her, she doesn't want them either.

What kills me is that you don't think this is worth fighting for, Clara had said. Which made no sense at all. She'd made it obvious she didn't love Harry the way she was – why on earth would you stay with someone who felt like that about you? Everyone's always trying to change Harry, but that's because she's been unlucky in the people she's been close to.

Until now, that is. Because now she's found the right one, and it's all going to be fine.

Harry stretches again in the sunshine, feeling the glow of contentment seeping through her bones.

Who would have thought that prim little Sarah Sawyer would be such a tigress in bed? John doesn't know what he's missing, the silly bugger. It'd be even more fun if he did, of course, and Harry had rather assumed they had done the deed, but apparently not. Still worth it though, god, yes, because Sarah really is the woman the others had only seemed to be.

Harry doesn't usually care for missionary work – she had her wild youth of converting misguided women who thought they were straight till they met her, and in her experience it's often more trouble than it's worth. But there's a quality about this woman that the others never had. Not just her extraordinary appetite for sex, though that was a welcome discovery, but a vulnerability that catches at something deep in Harry. Not like Clara – Clara seems quiet and gentle and in need of protection, fools a lot of people that way, actually, but she's not someone you ever want to get in a fight with. Typical nice middle-class girl, steel right up the backbone. Sarah – Sarah is hopeful, and that makes her soft, and open, and completely irresistible.

It had started as a challenge, after that awful scene at the hospital. Harry doesn't like to think about that, even now. She really had thought John was going to die. Going to die because Sherlock was such a stupid arrogant prick that he'd got the two of them blown up by some Irish nutcase. She'd screamed and fought with Sherlock, that day in intensive care. Blood everywhere, because he'd burst his stitches, fighting back (obviously nobody had ever told him you're not supposed to hit a girl). Place looked like a battlefield.

Sarah had been – impressive. She'd calmed everyone down, including the staff who wanted to throw Harry out and ban her from the ward right there and then. Took Harry off for what felt like gallons of black coffee, read her the riot act, told her to shape up if she wanted to see John at all over the next few weeks, drove her home and dumped her on her doorstep.

Well, Harry wasn't having that. Obviously. She had to get Sarah to see her as something other than a hysterical drunk, a loser, because she absolutely is not that and never has been. She bet herself she could do it in a fortnight. Bring Sarah round. Make her see Harry as the dashing, funny, sexy, irresistible woman she really is. A fortnight's the absolute maximum she'd usually need to get from hello to bedtime even with a straight girl, though she can do it much quicker than that if the conditions are right. This time she knew she wasn't starting from hello, so she'd adjusted her expectations: no point setting yourself up to fail. Three weeks, four at the outside.

Flowers and contrition and impossible-to-get concert tickets (courtesy of Mycroft Holmes, of all people, though Harry's not about to tell Sarah or anyone else about that). Harmless history walks, art galleries, TimeOut's top picks for what to do this weekend... Best behaviour all the time, and there are few things as dazzling as Harry on her best behaviour. Just the right balance of swagger and vulnerability; she knows how it's done. Implication that never quite spills over into anything as coarse as innuendo, but there's a language of flirtation that Harry speaks better than most people do their mother tongue, and she uses all of it. So it's no surprise to her when (finally!) dinner at Chez Valentin (scallops, obviously, and their 100% success-rate chocolate truffles) leads to some serious rubbing and grinding in Harry's kitchen and a very satisfactory first shag up against the sink unit.

And really, that might have been enough, for the purposes of scoring off John. Except that she still felt she had some ground to make up with Sarah. Except that Dr Sawyer had turned out to be a revelation in bed. Except that John, who was hardly well enough to be out at all, had dragged himself down to the surgery to dump a load of guilt and anxiety and warning and disapproval on Sarah, who'd told Harry about it. After that, there was no way Harry was giving up on this one. And then, before you know it, she was hooked.

(Hooked isn't right, of course. Hooked is what happened with the others, the wrong ones.)

No, she realized before the month was out that this was the woman she wanted to be with for the rest of her life – and when Harry gets an idea like that, she has to act on it. People bore on about waiting, and being sure, but Harry's with William Blake on this one: sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

She'd have thought Sarah would take more persuading, and she did take a certain amount. But Harry persuaded her – verbally and physically – that she was completely over Clara, that it was only the impossible slowness of the fucking legal system that had kept them tied to each other this long.

Plus, there's something about Sarah that actually wants risk, you can tell that. Just the way she'd talked about that mad caper she and John got mixed up in with the Chinese smugglers made that clear. She doesn't want a quiet life with Mr Average and two point four kids in a nice suburban home. She wants sex and danger and adventure, like the tigress she not-so-secretly is. And Harry had promised her all of that, cross her heart.

Clara had to go and be a wet blanket about it, of course, but what can you expect? Acting as if there was something weird about Harry asking John to be their witness. Not that it's any of Clara's fucking business anyway. If Mum and Dad weren't going to be there (so unfair, when they'd been there for her and Clara, but then they'd always liked Clara better than their own daughter), then of course Harry wanted someone who's family. Her family. Sarah's family are nice, of course, but they're Sarah's relations, not hers. In Harry's experience, other people's relations usually are more fun than your own. (That's because they don't know you, John had said, unforgivably. He'd pretended it was a joke, afterwards. Some joke.) Anyway, John was obviously longing to make himself feel better about dumping Sarah. So Harry was practically doing him a favour by including him.

She'd regretted it, of course. God preserve Harry from puritans, pedants and killjoys. Between John and Clara, she's had a basinful of that over the years, and nowadays if you get John you also get bloody Sherlock

Of course Sherlock has the statistics on CP breakdowns, and second marriages that end in divorce, and recidivism in dried-out alcoholics and a few other choice weapons at his disposal, and he's not afraid to use them. Harry doesn't have the stats because she's not a fucking freak or a calculating machine. What she does have, as she'd pointed out to Sherlock when John was in the loo, is someone who loves her enough to want to make a lifetime commitment, make it legal, which is more than can be said for Sherlock, or indeed for John. At which point Sherlock went white as a sheet, very satisfying, and stormed out. Leaving John in the lurch. Not that John need have made such heavy weather of it. Honestly, anyone would think he'd been cast adrift in an open boat or something, the way he was carrying on.

Harry still doesn't know why he felt the need to bring an outsider into it. She'll admit Lestrade made himself useful, talking to Sarah's family and stopping John being even more of a pain in the arse than he was already. She didn't like some of the looks Lestrade was giving her, though. He and Clara would get on like a house on fire: the We Hate Harry Watson Club. Probably have their own treehouse with home-made badges and secret passwords. You think you've left all that behind you after primary school. Just goes to show how wrong you can be.

But all the tedious disapproval and whispering behind her back can't alter the fact that Harry Watson is a winner. She's got the girl – and what a girl! She's got away from them all, and away from her boring job, at least for this golden fortnight. Lesbos would have been a cliché, but Crete is just right. And the scenery certainly is attractive.

Harry raises her glass of juice – who needs retsina when you're on honeymoon? – and calls out a remark about the weather to the sulky pretty waitress, who still doesn't crack a smile but mutters something in reply. Harry looks at her watch – ten minutes gone. Sarah will be back soon with another batch of postcards – never seems to run out of friends and relations to write to, she's a marvel, really – and then the day will get even better. But for now, sitting here in the café with a glass of orange juice and five minutes of her bet left to run, Harry is quite content. Life is good when you're on the winning side. She's always said so.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/78467.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC)
oh my goodness, this is so perfect! ugh, i love your harry so, so much, she's just this engrossing combination of spitfire swagger and cracked mosaic. this was such a surprise to receive, and an utter delight to read, thank you ♥
Apr. 22nd, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
yay! I'm so pleased you like it - and of course this one had to be for you. I love your description of Harry! *beams*

Apr. 22nd, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
This is great, although that's not quite the word I want. How do you adequately praise something where you've shown the self-centredness and unpleasantness of a character so well. You've really captured a triumphant Harry and yet there lingers the feeling that one drink, one small thing going wrong and we'll be seeing a totally different Harry.
Apr. 22nd, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! I'm delighted that you think that about it. *beams*
Apr. 22nd, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, what an absolutely delicious Harry you've developed here! I love her confidence, her snark, her spot-on exasperation about John. Really enjoyable read. Thanks! :D
Apr. 22nd, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm so pleased you liked it! the sibling rivalry is fun to write...
Apr. 22nd, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
awe, siblings. May god bless their little hearts. lol.
Actually, if one takes out the alcoholism and stealing of potential girlfriends/boyfriends, Harry here is a bit like my sister. :)

Great job. I love the language you use. It makes a very bright picture.
I love Sherlock hitting her back, though, I dunno why but it makes perfect sense and I guess if she attacked him first people wouldn't mind so much.
Apr. 22nd, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm glad you enjoyed it! as I said to holyfant, sibling rivalry is fun to write...
Apr. 22nd, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I am going to read the other parts in the series some time this week. I'm curious to see what happens next and what's happened before.

And it's so true. I think anyone who has a sibling goes through something like this.
It also reminds me of this British show called Fortysomething, where the middle brother steals the oldest brothers girlfriend. Benedict Cumberbatch is in it as the o,der brother, which is partly why I watched it.

Apr. 23rd, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
I've never seen Fortysomething but am curious to do so because of BC...

the sibling rivalry is there at the start of this 'verse, but I suppose it's also playing on Sherlock's suggestion in ASIP that maybe John doesn't get on with Harry because he liked Clara!
Apr. 24th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
BC plays the oldest son Rory. and Hugh Laurie play's the father.
It's a pretty funny show. But, the humor is kinda dry, but I figure that's just a British thing. I appreciate it though because most comedy shows on US television has crass jokes and humor, so it's nice when things are subtle but you totally know what's going on.

I wonder if Harry has a history of taking Boyfriends or Girlfriends from John because that's just what they have always done and maybe he never steps in and tells her to back off. So yeah, he liked Clara and maybe they dated, but then Harry stepped in and ruined the relationship so that she could get Clara or something. I really do love how you wrote her, but I kinda detest her because I don't see her as a 'winner' but more like she's saying stuff like that to cover up what she feels are her failures. If that makes any sense.

Sibling rivalry sucks. But it's part of all siblings lives. Like, I was thinking about this the other day. But, I've always followed the rules of the house, but my other siblings just seem to break all the rules, so they think Mom and Dad play favorites when in reality Mom and Dad are just reacting to the broken rules and punishing them for it. They don't have to do that with me because I don't break the rules - so I'm getting more of the aproval than my siblings. Only, it's their choice to break the rules and its my choice to follow them. So, it makes our relationships just a little more...kind of like John and Harry's because we're all different people and we all make different choices and sometimes we don't always appreciate why someone else has done something.
Apr. 23rd, 2012 02:22 am (UTC)
Very good! Your Harry is quite incredible. Love the description of the wedding and what she said to Sherlock to cause him to turn so white! Greatly enjoyed this!
Apr. 23rd, 2012 09:20 am (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm glad you liked it, and especially the description of the wedding and the row with Sherlock. I knew there'd been a row, but until I actually came to write it I didn't know what Harry had said!
Apr. 23rd, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely! I love your Harry—she's very confident in herself, doesn't see her own flaws, but to the audience the flaws are visible, just barely. Really brilliant!
Apr. 23rd, 2012 09:21 am (UTC)
thank you very much - I wanted the flaws to show through the confident presentation, and I'm glad it worked for you!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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