"Oh . . . shit." Another dead end. Rowen had a knack for running into those in HQ; mostly, she ran into them face first. It was sometime in the early afternoon by Rowen's estimation, and she had run into three walls already. So it was too late to be morning, but too early to be more than an hour or two after lunch. The young Asian gently touched her nose. At least it wasn't broken, she told herself.
Somewhere, the Laws of Narrative Comedy took note.
The PPC Headquarters was never a friendly environment. Meaning, of course, the headquarters itself didn't have the friendliest habits. Agents, of the sane and not varieties, weren't friendly or hostile on average—neither were flowers. The only thing that a new recruit had to worry about immediately was the dangers of HQ itself. Enter Rowen Windfall, former bit character.
Agent Rowen was a vertically-challenged young woman, about sixteen years of age. She was built with structural integrity, not aestheticism, in mind. Her legs were short and thick, with wide hips attached to a torso that could have belonged to a boy. In short, Rowen was no top-heavy Barbie. She was more like a patchwork human—thankfully, without the stitches and medical bills. Her eyes were almond shaped, a brown so dark they were nearly black. She was fresh out of basic training, and every senior assassin knew her type: excitable, high-strung, not covered in blood. They tended to stick out.
"Why did I have to get lost again, on today of all days?" Rowen muttered to herself.
Today was going to be her first real mission—with a partner, and weapons, and Sue guts, and everything. She had been hoping to at least look a little bit competent to the senior agent who she was to be partnered with. Rowen absentmindedly pulled the gloves on her hands a little tighter as she turned to backtrack through the hall.
Rowen believed in dressing well. Currently, she wore a blouse, slacks, and gloves. All of them were black. She took special care to match them all so that they were the same shade of black. Rowen's almost-over-dressed appearance was thrown off by the combat boots on her feet. These too, were black; even if Rowen didn't dress very sensibly for an assassination, at least she had proper footwear. And she got the colors right.
The recruit considered her situation for a few seconds. What had that senior agent told her about getting around in this madhouse? It was something about not paying attention, or making an animal sacrifice to the Forgotten Realms god Cyric. Rowen wasn't sure at the time; her Forgotten Realms language skills were rather questionable. The Realms didn't have such a high Sue population as others, so their languages weren't as up to date in the translators. In any case, she didn't want to make any dangerous assumptions—and she didn't even know where to get an alligator at this time of the year (or a set of dental tools for that matter). The first option seemed a lot easier, and a lot less sticky.
Rowen shoved her hands into the pockets of her slacks and began to make her way down the hall once more. This time, she began to quietly hum a song about a Hedgehog. She was on verse nine when she walked right into another very solid wall.
Hissing expletives, the girl stumbled back from the wall, holding a hand over her forehead and nose. When Rowen took in her surroundings, she screamed in frustration. The floor and ceiling had doors on them, and the walls were completely gray without interruption. Somehow, the world had turned approximately ninety degrees.
The girl dropped to her knees and then sprawled onto the floor. (Or was it the wall?)
"Don't wait to place your orders, viewers! Order now and get not one, but two Magic Drawing Boards for the mere price of $39.95! But wait! THERE'S MORE!" she proclaimed loudly, rolling around on the wall with her hands over her head.
"Call within the next five seconds and we’ll include the mini—sweet merciful Eru!" Rowen rolled away from the hard object that she had just gone over. Grasping at a now very sore spot in her back, Rowen glared at the cause of her pain. It was a door knob. It was attached to a response center door.
Rowen threw herself onto the door, kneeling on all fours with her face so close to the numbered panel that her nose nearly touched it.
"Can it be true, Rowen? Have we found the right door?" She blinked at the numbered panel for a few seconds, just daring it to change. Then she pulled herself into a kneeling position on the door. Rowen wasn't at all sure how gravity was going to play into this. Gravity acted like a drunken, lecherous door-to-door salesman around these parts. He wasn't to be trusted.
"Okay, Rowen. We're going to put our best foot forward, and hopefully escape our first mission with all of our limbs intact. We're going to do a Good Job!" The door didn't make any response.
"Right," the recruit huffed. After one last glance around the hall, Rowen turned the knob.
At that moment, a violent explosion rocked the hallway. Rowen yelped and stumbled back as the door to the response center blew open, scattering debris and sparks through the hallway like a tornado going through a trailer park. The explosion was followed by a very irate mini-Balrog, who came hurtling through the charred doorway and barely avoided landing in Rowen's lap. It clambered to its feet, roared indignantly, and set off down the hallway with its flaming whip.
A voice yelled "Thiranduil! Thiranduil! Oh, for Hades' sake—come back here! I am NOT cleaning this up! THIRANDUIL!"
A second figure emerged from the smoke, coughing and wiping ash off of his face. It was a tall, bronze-skinned man with long gray hair, dressed in a standard PPC jumpsuit with the arms cut off; there was a plastic package of bacon tucked into his belt, and at least three daggers strapped to various limbs. "THIIIIR-AN-DUIIIIILLL!" he called, apparently not seeing the bowled-over recruit in front of him. "Here, demon-demon! Come on, Dio'll have my hide if you run away . . . ah, bugger it."
The agent pulled the package of bacon out from under his belt and tossed it over his shoulder into the response center, from which clouds of smoke were still issuing. For the first time, he looked down and saw the nervous Rowen staring at him. "Yasu, kid. You look like a rookie. Lost?"
"Er . . . " Rowen looked up at the man, then at the wreckage, then the door, then finally down the hall that had un-rotated itself ninety degrees before shouting at the halls. "What do you have against me, you gray walls of evil?"
The long-haired man shrugged. "Ah, they always do that. It's Tuesday," he added, by way of explanation. "You must be a newbie." Looking her up and down with a detachedly critical air, he continued, "If you don't like that, then pray you never have to go down to the Employee Lounge, that's all I'm saying."
Rowen sighed. "Is it really that easy to tell?"
"Well, your eyes aren't twitching and you look like you got eight hours of sleep. It's not terribly hard."
"Oh." Cue awkward silence. Rowen looked up at the strange agent, who was around a foot taller than herself. She wondered if she should be running away.
Surprised, the man noticed the worried expression on Rowen's face, then looked down at himself. He appeared to notice the ash, grime, and numerous implements of sharp pointy destruction for the first time. "Oh—heh—sorry," he said sheepishly. "My partner's mini-Balrog fell asleep on our stash of Bleepka and . . . well . . . you know what a Molotov cocktail is? Think of a Molotov keg party.
"So—back to what I was saying—are you looking for something?"
"I'm supposed to meet up with a senior agent—first mission."
He hissed sympathetically in reply. "First mission with a senior agent? Bad, bad, bad. I hope you brought Kevlar. Who's the agent?"
The tall man raised one eyebrow. "Not necessarily. I once knew an agent named FluffyKitten, and by the Gods she could use a machete!" He paused, as the first part of her statement came back to him—then, to Rowen's surprise, she found her hand being firmly shaken by a grip like a mangle. "I'm Agent Suicide. You must be the new kid they're sending me; my last rookie is still in Medical with a bad attack of Dibbler pork pie. C'mon in!"
Rowen blinked a few times, wondering if her arm was going to be shaken out of its socket. "Oh . . . well . . . okay," she managed to say rather haltingly, letting the information sink in. Not for the first time that morning, nor the last, Rowen began to wonder if she was going to end the day with most of her bits attached.
The recruit carefully walked into the response center and looked around. It reminded her of a video she had seen of nuclear fallout, only messier.
A casual observer of the response center, if cunningly trained in psychology, would soon get the idea that five or six opposing personalities had all tried to decorate it at the same time—each personality having approximately thirteen spare hands. An eclectic collection of furniture was strewn this way and that, and what appeared to be a see-through copy of the Book of Moria was being used as a coaster for a very large coffee mug with "Support Bacteria, it's the only culture some people have" printed on it. A rug had been haphazardly arranged across the buckled metal plating of the floor, but was slightly marred by a massive burn mark in the center. Small fires were still glowing in various corners of the room, and a thin layer of ash had settled over everything, including the console.
Suicide gave the mess a critical look, then turned to Rowen and shrugged. "It's not so bad."
Indeed, it was not unlike the rooms in which recruits received basic training. The only difference Rowen could see was the lack of gibbering, crying, or twitching recruits. Well, that and the video screens where the No-Drool Videos were shown. No! Rowen reminded herself never to think of those horrible, horrible things again, and a rather pained expression—which could have been interpreted as PTSD from Vietnam—crossed her face. She mumbled something which sounded just a little like "The Librarian . . . and the yogurt cups . . ." under her breath.
"Hey, I don't judge what you do in your own time," the Greek said briskly. "None of my business, right? Okay . . . my last partner was an Elf, so the bathroom's still full of Herbal Essence and stuff, but you can chuck it out. Sling your sleeping bag anywhere—just don't touch my bronze armor, or you're going home via FedEx. And for the love of the gods, stay away from the microwave! We think it's possessed." He crossed his arms. "And this concludes our tour. Any questions?"
"What do you suppose my life expectancy is?"
"Depends. Are you sane?"
"Not likely to run down the hall screaming 'MILLENIUM HAND AND SHRIMP, BUGRIT!' Again."
"Well, I'm more sane than the average potato, tentacled variety or non." She twiddled her thumbs. "But if you're referring to that incident with the gingersnaps, that happened only once!"
"Okay, then. You should be fine. But I'm keeping any baking products away from you, got it? I don't want to wind up an urban legend." Suicide shuddered at the thought.
Rowen shuffled her feet a little. "Do you know what fandom we're going into?"
The Greek relaxed slightly as the conversation moved away from potentially lethal yet comedic forms of injury. "Technically, we're Department of Mary Sues, LotR division, but almost anything comes down the pipeline these days. Been to Narnia a few times. If the laws of Universal Comedy are obliging, we'll get a mission any second now . . . "
Rowen thought about this. Quite frequently, LotR Sues tended to involve unicorns. Or flying horses. And there were horses to contend with in Middle-earth right off the bat! Given that anything vaguely equine seemed to have a personal vendetta against Rowen, things were not looking up. Or at least her immediate future wasn't looking less than slightly painful.
"Hmmm." Suicide tapped his fingers against his hip. Then he tapped some more. Once or twice he winced reflexively, but nothing seemed to be happening. "Odd . . . " He moved over to the console, brushing off the layer of ash and peering at the screen concernedly. "Maybe it's broken . . . "
"GYah!" Suicide yelped, falling backwards onto a chair. "GODSDAMMIT, it ALWAYS does that!"
Rowen peered at the mission specs that appeared on the screen. "It's a Potterverse mission, and—ye gods!" She winced, putting her hand over her mouth.
"Potterverse?" Suicide repeated from the chair. "Don't tell me. Unlikely slash?"
"Aaaugh . . . no. It's the Sueiest Sue that ever nanced into the Great Hall, at least that I've ever seen. Butterfly wings? Why not have blatant shape shifting powers?" she spat, then re-read some of the words. "Oh, wait, she does."
"You've got to be kidding me. Butterfly wings?" The Greek clambered unsteadily to his feet, peering over Rowen's shoulder. "That's . . . that's . . . wait a minute . . . she . . . " Words failed him. "This has to be a troll," he said finally.
"Well, it's the best impression of a preteen Suethor that I've ever seen, if it's a troll." She shook her head. "Either way, we have to go kill her."
"NOW you're talking!" The agent's face lit up. "Have you been on assassination runs before?"
"Oh, sort off." Rowen wracked her memory, which was rather patchy and missing bits in some places. "I did it before I came to the PPC. Big mess." Her voice trailed off.
Suicide's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" alarm went off, and he shook his head. "But that's all monkeys under the bridge, right? Right." He darted over to the battered weapons cabinet, opened it, extracted an overenthusiastic mini-dragon that instantly attempted to lick him to death, and started pulling equipment out and tossing it onto the floor. "You pick the disguises," he called over his shoulder. "I'll get the ordinance. What's your weapon?"
"Ur . . . " Rowen recalled her basic weapons training. It wasn't a pretty sight. "Dagger, or something equally small and sharp—perhaps a garrote," she replied, looking at the disguise generator. She was about the right age for a student, so she set her own disguise to be a random student. But Suicide? Rowen looked over at the Greek. Random teacher. The recruit wasn't quite sure exactly how many teachers there were at Hogwarts, but there were surely enough students at the school that not every single teacher had been mentioned. That, and the fact that the Suethor didn't mention a lot of the teachers. And it wasn't as if Suicide could pass himself off as a student. She didn't want to think about setting 'ghost'; a lot of agents tended to take that the wrong way.
Reaching into her pocket, Rowen pulled out a small white pen, and jabbed herself repeatedly in the leg with it. Mentor or not, Suicide was attractive and Rowen wasn't taking any chances. She replaced the pen in her pocket; at higher doses, Anti-Lustin worked like a sedative in a pinch.
"Something wrong?" Suicide called over his shoulder.
"No, everything's fine!" she replied. "Except for the fact that we're practically walking into Ragnarok," Rowen added under her breath.
"I heard that."
"I never said I disagreed. Pink underwear and sparkly wings sure as Hades sounds nasty to me." The Greek walked back across the response center, his arms loaded with gear. He dropped a Bowie knife, a stiletto, and a Punjab lasso on the console in front of Rowen. "Hope this'll do; most of the daggers are buried somewhere under the laundry in the closet, and unless you have a hazmat suit, that's kind of a no-go area."
Rowen made a mental note to herself to avoid the laundry as she tucked the weapons away about her person. She looked at the knife. Okay, Rowen, we can do this, the recruit thought to herself. It's not what we used the first time, but we know how to use it. I think. "How many bits did there end up being?"
"More than you'd think," was all Suicide would say. He winced at the recollection. "Disguises all ready?"
"Pretty much. I set you to be a 'random teacher', just so you know." Rowen couldn't recall any canon students that were built like Suicide: like a walking death trap.
Suicide examined the display of the disguises selected. "Good thinking. I never did get used to being four feet tall." He looked at Rowen, a little concerned. "You okay, rookie? Ready to go?"
She winced. "As much as I'll ever be."
"It'll be all right," the Greek muttered uncertainly. Words of Comfort weren't really his area of expertise. "Uh—once you're in, the insanity really takes over, so it shouldn't be so bad." He produced the portal remote and swiftly keyed in a command; with a woourrrnnn noise, the shimmering blue gateway appeared in midair. He gestured to it. "Ladies first."
"Uh, thanks." Rowen fought down a blush, which was a lot harder than it looked, and walked through the portal. Silently, she thanked just about every deity there ever was for the invention of Anti-Lustin.
Suicide shook his head as his new partner disappeared. Oh, well. At least she wasn't glomping . . .
* * *
Rowen found herself in a very undescribed Platform 9¾. At least with the lack of description it was in all of its canonical glory.
They didn't have time to enjoy it. The second after they landed, both agents were violently jerked sideways. The platform blurred and vanished, and the pair landed hard on the floor of the Hogwarts Express. The carpet did absolutely nothing to muffle the gasps as their breath was knocked out or, a moment later, Suicide's colorful language. Sadly, Rowen's Universal Translator was working perfectly.
She arched an eyebrow, or would have if she could. At the moment, she was currently muttering her own expletives in fairly fluent Speaking Into Carpet. Although, Suicide's language was a bit more creative. She would have to remember some of those for later.
"God . . . damn . . . scene . . . change . . ." Suicide panted, having exhausted most of his more graphic expletives. "Is it . . . too much to ask . . . to make a scene . . . last more than one . . . sentence?" Currently immobilized, he stared at the Words in the dusty fabric of the carpet.
They watched out the fogged up window as the calm waters of the lake peeked through the passing forest, once in a while, and they could see the small first years being lead to the castle by Hagrid in the twenty or so huge boats.
There was a nauseous sensation of folding, and the world gave an unhealthy lurch—the result of first years being led across the lake when the Hogwarts Express hadn't yet got into the station. "Rookie," Suicide managed to say to the carpet (a very interesting red paisley), "charge for time discrepancies and—ugh—" The rest of this sentence is unfit for publication.
"Mucking with time space and most likely the dimensions four through six-point-two." Rowen produced a pad of paper and a pen, then began to scribble down the charges.
Finally the trees cleared and the huge castle came into view. Few of the windows were lit as all the teachers and staff had congregated into the great hall for the sorting ceremony and feast.
The world gave another great lurch, and Rowen found herself skidding across the floor, until she crashed into a few chairs and ended up under a house table.
"Hey—rookie—you okay?" a disheveled Suicide hissed, sliding to a halt and poking his head under the table. "The world's really mucked up—they didn't even notice that!" He pulled the chairs out of the way and gave her a hand up. "Now, since this is your first mission, I'm supposed to make sure you've got everything down. What's the latest charge we can get from that little incident?"
"Neglect of the common comma." Rowen accepted the hand up, looking rather murderous as she did. "I already got 'unnecessary scene changes.'"
She did calm down, however, when she looked down at the tables. A misspelling of "silverware" had caused all of the house tables to be covered in brilliant silver clothing. She tugged gently at a scarf. "Suicide, lookit this!"
"Holy—!" The Greek looked down at the table in front of them, which was overflowing with brilliant silver clothes of every description. "Hey, this is real silver thread!" he exclaimed. "I saw a scarf with real silver sold in the Lakedaemonian camp—fetched a damn good price, too. Quick, grab as much as you can!" He quickly hit the Pause button on the Canon Analysis Device and dashed over to the Ravenclaw table, scooping the heavy, shining fabric up in armloads and dumping it on the floor. "Shirts—tunics—I can trade this duster for a hell of a lot of Purple Stuff—"
Rowen scrambled over to the far end of the hall, carefully lifting plates to assure that none of the food spilt onto the fabric while she gathered her own armfuls of clothing. "Wouldja look at this? The embroidery alone!" she exclaimed.
"Worth a mint in the PPC," Suicide grunted, heaving a suit of silver-embossed chain mail onto the ground. "I can portal this stuff back to the RC—just pile it on the floor."
"You said that you had a partner who was out from a pie attack. He's an Elf, right? I bet some of this would make him feel better," Rowen said, trying to keep a dress made of brocade silk from touching the floor.
"Not really a pie attack . . . more like, a pie used to prevent him from further attack and property damage," Suicide corrected. "But yeah, it would. And it would probably keep his wife from trying to kill me, too. Good thinking."
Quite a large pile of silver clothing and accoutrements had built up next to him by now. He pulled out the remote activator and keyed open a portal in the floor, and the shimmering garments fell through. "NARNIA NO-LONGERFLED!" the Greek yelled down through the portal. "TOUCH THOSE AND YOU'RE DRAGON STEAK, GOT IT?"
There was an answering roar.
Rowen surveyed the considerably less silver Great Hall with a look of satisfaction. "Well, at least this story was helpful in some ways. But, I think we can charge her with 'mistreatment of clothing.'"
"Mistreatment of nice clothing, too." Suicide dropped a silver-embossed leather quiver through the portal. "I know where we can trade in some of that jewelry for a Pan-Galactic Bleeprin Blaster."
"Really?" Rowen had occupied herself at the front of the great hall, putting forks in a suspicious chair that had been left empty for a Mysterious Newcomer.
"Yep. I hear it's like having your brain bashed out by a bottle of tequila wrapped around Sigmund Freud."
"And that's very alcoholic?" She put a few scoops of mashed potatoes on the chair for effect.
"Very alcoholic, very mind-numbing, and very bad for you. The best way to unwind after a mission like this. Stand clear," he called, and Rowen stepped back from the now-booby trapped Chair of Mysterious Mystery. With a sigh (he really enjoyed having a break from this thing), Suicide pressed the pause button again, and the Hall flashed back into motion.
"Oh, and about that time shift . . . don't forget to add 'annoying PPC agents.' Never neglect the human interest angle." He glanced up at the Words, winced, and looked across the Great Hall to where Dumbledore was informing the students that “I would also like to announce the new head girl and boy! Hermione Granger, of Gryffindor, and Draco Malfoy, of Slytherin.”
"Girl and boy, that sounds like some strange vestigial twin or something. And I'm pretty sure that's messing with Dumbledore's character. He doesn't announce heads like that, does he?"
"It's the resurrection aspect that doesn't work for me." Suicide squinted up at the dais. "That's wrong."
"That too. It's supposed to be seventh year. Should be Minerva up there?"
"Uh—not that. Look at the other aspect." Indeed, the world was attempting to rationalize the existence of Dumbledore—a dead man—in the only way it knew how. That explained the slimy, grayish Inferius now standing up at by the teacher's table and smiling benevolently. It was rather off-put by the unfortunate smell.
Rowen blinked. "Oh my . . . just look at those maggots. Preventing the dead from getting their well deserved rest . . . " she muttered, scribbling down the charge.
The agents' speculation was interrupted by a dramatic crash as a wave of McGonagall's wand opened the doors to the Great Hall. Everyone was "taken back" as Dumbledore announced the arrival of their newest student; the resulting shift in furniture and bodies nearly knocked both agents over as Suicide leapt to avoid a collision with Lee Jordan.
"Bloody—" Rowen leapt onto one of the tables, holding her robes out of the way like a skirt, then fell back into a chair as the furniture came to a crashing halt. "Well," she hissed from her position on the floor. "I suppose that our speshul miss Sue just arrived." She pulled herself off the ground and irritably sat down in the chair.
And indeed . . .
“Please let me introduce Tatiana Jocelyn Malika, who will be attending school here for her seventh and final year.” He waved a hand towards the empty corridor to which the doors opened to.
The crowd was now suddenly alive with whispers, things like, ‘Dumbledore rarely used a full name so this person must be special’, ‘there’s no one there…he must have finally lost his mind’.
"In this fic? You bet," Suicide muttered. He crossed his arms, taking a moment to irritably swipe away the long sleeves of the dark-green teacher's robe. "All right, universe, hit us. What've you got?"
It took all of Rowen's self control not to burst out laughing, or fly into a murderous rage, as Tatiana came flying into the room. Instead, she tried to quietly creep closer to the Sue, wondering how easy it would be to sever those wings from her back.
Suicide clamped a hand on her shoulder. "Didn't they teach you anything in Basic?" he hissed. "You never jump in like—"
The guys gasped, eyes widening, as the girl flew on, the girls just stared, a hint of jealousy lying behind all of their eyes. It was not only the wings that took peoples breathe away, but her innocent beauty, which made you crazy with love.
Her hair was pitch black, tied into two pony tails which hung loosely down her front. Small strands of hair brushed in front of her face, were two bright purple eyes laid gleaming in the eerie shine of the candles. She was skinny and short only about 5 feet tall and at the most 90lbs. her wings were shaped like a monarchs but had a silvery color to them, which, when light hit, showed every color imaginable.
She was curved nicely, and as all the guys saw, had a chest which was perfect for her small frame, but still extremely noticeable.
He stopped. "You have GOT to be kidding."
"Apparently, the Suethor isn't kidding," Rowen observed, glancing at the Sue's attire. "Now, that's just plain tasteless—at least three more charges for that description alone."
"'Innocent beauty which made you crazy with love'—" Suicide groaned. "Textbook. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Textbook."
"'her skirt flipped up slightly with each step and almost rhythmically all the guys’ heads bobbed down, trying to get a glimpse of what lay beneath.'" Rowen waved her hands about wildly. "Ye Gods! The Sue-induced hormones in this room are almost tangible!"
The girls were all jealous at the complete and un-dying attention the guys gave her, but couldn’t help but like Tatiana."Being jealous yet liking at the same time?" Suicide added. "Hey, rookie—is that normal for girls?"
"Sadly, it happens," Rowen said. "I never quite figured out how it works, but it only happens between friends. Otherwise, you want to rip the other one's earrings out. Through the rest of the ear."
"You should have been in Sparta." The Greek shook his head. "You know, they say that it was a male-dominated culture, but let me tell you something—it wasn't King Leonidas who wore the tunic in that family. Does that make a charge for incongruous behavior, then?"
"I do believe it does." She began scribbling. "By the way, how easy do you think it would be to, say, tear those wings off of her back?"
"Marvelously easy." Rowen had never known that teeth could look so evil.
There was another, less sickening lurch which signaled the end of the chapter, and an Author's Note thundered down on them:
A/N- hey this is my first fan fic so I need lots of reviews and hard criticism to make my future stories better!
"No bets taken."
"I'll give you a hard criticism . . . right where the sun don't shine . . . " Rowen brandished the charge list at the ceiling.
The scene unfroze, and chapter two—ominously titled "The prophecy"—began with the Sorting Hat making a dramatic pronouncement: “Ahhh...….finally….I have been waiting hundreds of centuries for this,” the old battered hat said, “This girl has a heart of gold, and helps those I need.”
Rowen began banging her head against the house table. "Making. The. Sorting. Hat. Wait. Hundreds. Of. Centuries." Each word was punctuated by another blow to the table. "And what is with that sentence? 'helps those I need'?"
"I shudder to think what kind of needs a hat has."
"Perhaps just repair, and moth balls in the winter," Rowen speculated, almost drowned out by the sounds of the Hufflepuff table cheering.
Suicide snickered. "The way this 'Sue thinks?" He clasped his hands and started strutting around, imitating Tatiana's wriggly walk. "Oh, yes, Mister Headmaster . . . I haven't been worn in years . . . "
Rowen snickered. "Looks like you have a broken leg there, Suicide."
Rowen continued laughing. "Oh, we get to find out about her super speshul11!!1 history, I bet. I bet that it has to do with Harry, or Voldemort."
"Nah. Malfoy's more 'in' this season."
"What about Snape? Never count him out of the game. She could be a distant cousin twice removed, or something."
“Yes, yes she has the attributes of all the houses, equally divided in her. She too does not know to which house she belongs but I do…..I remember a tale, from the very beginning of Hogwarts.”
Suicide blinked. "Whuh?"
"This ain't gonna be good."
Rowen licked the end her pen, and set it to the already lengthy charge list.
“As you have been told many times there were once four founders of the school- Salazar Slytherine, Helga Huffelpuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Goderic Gryffindor (A/N- if I spelt any names wrong please tell me!). But what you are not aware of is that there was another.”
Suicide burst out laughing as two mini-Aragogs leapt out of the story towards them. Goderic Gryffindor loped towards Rowen and began to nuzzle her leg, while Salazar Slytherine merely squatted in front of them and gave Suicide a "You are not worth my time, maggot" type of glance.
Rowen looked down at the mini. "Aww! Iz cute!"
"Creation of minis . . . oh, and making the Sorting Hat yell bad grammar."
"Involving a variation of my name in this tripe!"
Rowen looked around shiftily, then shrugged. "Couldn't hurt."
"Yeah, you're a PPC agent, all right." Suicide glared back at Slytherine, who rolled his eyes—a disturbing sight on a mini-Aragog. The potential conflict, however, was averted by the Sorting Hat's next announcement:
“Yes there was one more headmaster and her name was Daphena Dracona. She believed that there would be people who did not fit into any house, because they were so different, or like Tatiana, so much the same as all the other houses….. And because of this belief Dracona was formed.”
"Headmaster? HEADMASTER?!" Rowen rose out of her seat, the rage almost radiating from her person. "As if it wasn't enough to create a new house!" She jabbed the pen at the air, ink flying. Goderic Gryffindor yowled softly and clung to Rowen's leg, looking cutely frightened.
Rowen was prevented from outright attacking the Sue when she was hit with a flying author's note.
(IMPORTANT A/N- DRACOna is not named after Draco Malfoy, I just changed the spelling of DRAGON abit….just so you know!)
"Never seen anybody that color before," Suicide commented as he helped Rowen up again.
Rowen sputtered incoherently and gingerly touched her nose. There hadn't been a crack, but it hurt like hell getting hit in the face with an author's note. "That's it. She dies. I can take her. Lookit her, the little anorexic-ish bint. I bet she snaps like a twig!"
And somewhere, the Laws of Universal Irony laughed menacingly.
Meanwhile, Suicide was doing his best to calm his new partner down. "Look," he said matter-of-factly, "We can't kill her yet. There's still three chapters to go." He glanced up at the Words. "We can, however, take a break. There's a mechanical love scene coming up soon. I say we find the Room of Requirement and bunk in for the night."
"Fine. We'll take a break," she agreed, but not before more author's notes had the chance to rain onto the Great Hall.
Suicide nodded, took one more look at the Words, and then began to rummage in his backpack. "But wait, she meets the trio . . . you wouldn't like this. Want to listen to my CD player?"
"Sure," she answered, looking at the Words. The corner of her mouth twitched as the Hall burst into applause. "'A nice few of me...'? But wouldn't that mean—" A gaggle of mini-Sues popped into existence.
Suicide facefaulted. "Author's notes are NOT substitute for description!" he snapped to the world at large. A few nearby students gave the dark-skinned teacher odd looks, but they soon fell back under the sway of the 'Sue and recommenced staring and adoring.
Rowen scowled as the very dead Dumbledore began giving the Sue ridiculous privileges.
Suicide shot a death glare at Tatiana, currently simpering at everybody concerned. "Somebody's got a date with cruel irony."
"That, and tea." Rowen snuck up behind the 'Sue and held up a cup of tea, letting the ends of the long, trailing pigtails soak in it. She had added a dollop of honey for extra effect. The simple trick proved extremely cathartic, which was handy: in the next minute, Tatiana proceeded to grind both agents' teeth by (a) manifesting telekinesis, (b) being a super-speshul metamorphmagus, and (c) growing extra arms like it was nothing.
"Now . . . waitaminute. I was just under the impression that growing extra limbs would hurt. What with the nerves, and the bones."
"Charge—uber-abilities and uncommon knowledge of anatomy. You can't tell me she'd know where to put a radial artery." Suicide toyed with one of the small knives hidden in the sleeves of his robes. "I, on the other hand . . ."
Rowen suddenly found the ceiling very fascinating. It didn't make her feel any better to dwell on the deadliness of Agent Suicide. Except, of course, when she did realize that the Sue would eventually be on the receiving end.
After Dumbledore had talked to the rest of the teachers (you shall soon find out why) he stood up, “well this has been a most enjoyable evening,” he said, as he cleared the tables of the leftovers. Everyone rested, chatting quietly until he spoke again.
Rowen narrowly ducked the flying parenthesis.
"This is becoming tedious," Suicide yawned. "Tedious, and painful. Howzabout we skip the bit where she replaces Hermione as Head Girl and go find that Room of Requirement?"
"Sounds good to me. But Hermione upstaging? It's just done so often, and it's really just obnoxious by now. Honestly, I would have been more surprised if this Sue didn't upstage Hermione."
"Hell, everybody's out of character. We could probably add a low-grade Reality Disruption to the list, too." Suicide slung his pack onto his back and produced the remote activator. "Portal?"
Rowen held the charge list with one hand as she grabbed her own bag with the other. "Please do."
"Okay . . . one Room of Requirement, coming right up." The portal shimmered into being, swallowing the agents whole and neatly depositing them next to the famous tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy and his trolls. Rowen looked up at the moving portrait (Barnabus was trying to hide behind a rock, and a troll dressed as a fairy queen was prying him out with a long stick) with at least a mild interest.
Suicide closed his eyes and began to walk back and forth in front of the tapestry, concentrating hard. We need a place to sleep and recover our sanity . . . we need someplace to hide from this travesty called fiction . . . please don't make us suffer through a bad preteen love scene . . . Rowen walked alongside her partner, thinking along the same lines.
They both stopped and opened their eyes. A brown door with a brass knob had appeared. Suicide glanced at Rowen, nodded, and opened the door.
It might have been a Hogwarts dorm—key word, "might." Two huge curtained beds were at opposite ends of a long rectangular room, with screens modestly placed in front of each one for privacy. A half-open door situated exactly halfway between them revealed a scene a lot like the Prefect's Bathroom, complete with sunken tub, shower, and a painting of what looked suspiciously like a Nac Mac Feegle in a swimsuit. Stacks of books were haphazardly piled on shelves—everything a PPC geek could ever want, including the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien and every Doctor Who novel ever written. A punching bag, a dartboard shaped like a ridiculously curvy woman, and a large target for throwing knives completed the scene, along with a pile of prepackaged magical foods. Suicide's face lit up.
Rowen dumped her bag in the middle of the room and dashed into the bathroom. "I can scrub away the uncleanliness of uncanon!"
"Dibs on the jerky!" the Greek shouted with equal glee. "Lembas! Miruvor! A full six-pack of Orc-draught! And . . . " he gasped, his eyes opening wide. "Bleepka!"
A loud shout of jubilation filled the rooms. "Bathrobes!" Rowen exclaimed.
"Do they give you free samples of shampoo and a pillow mint, too?"
"You can have mine." Suicide, who had never cared for chocolate, tossed his onto Rowen's bed and proceeded to mutilate some novelty kangaroo jerky. "Hiss ghud," he mumbled, mouth full. "Hreahl fuhd!"
* * *
Twenty minutes later . . .
Rowen re-entered the main room, toweling off her dripping-wet hair. She was dressed again in her PPC uniform.
Suicide had already gotten ready for bed. He had changed into a loose white tunic and sweatpants, and was sitting cross-legged on the ground with a flask of Orc-draught and a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Hearing Rowen enter, he looked up. "Everything okay? You were in there a pretty long time."
"Ever tried to wash and condition nearly three feet of hair?" she inquired. "Combing it is a real pain in the ass."
Suicide grinned. "Not me, personally. But the native Spartans would really go overboard with their hair—especially before a battle. They used to say that long hair was the one thing which made a handsome man more comely and an ugly man more terrifying." He closed the book and stretched, yawning mightily as he did so. "I checked the Words. Right now, our 'Sue and Malfoy are engaging in a very clumsily written make-out scene. Personally, I've seen sexier movement on a coffeemaker, but that's just me. When do you want to kill 'er?"
Rowen's eyes glazed over slightly as she looked at the Words. "Well, there's a lovely bit in chapter five where she and Señor Bits-a-Lot get separated. They'll be all alone, with no one else around . . . " Rowen Grinned. Not just grinned; Grinned, mind you. Suicide privately wondered why he always wound up seeing that expression on the faces of his partners, but hey, no looking a blind man in the mouth and all that.
"Sounds good. We're gonna need a unique death for Chicky-Sue, though. Since she's big on this dragon thing, I say we feed her to the Hungarian Horntail." Suicide climbed to his feet and stretched again, yawning even more widely.
"And kill it? I swear that Sue has enough radiation to cause a nuclear war by herself! We can't feed her to a poor, unsuspecting creature like that. What . . . with all of her freakish powers and all, she'd kill anything we fed her to . . . " Rowen paused, and looked up at the ceiling. "Unless, we fed her to something already drunk on the blood of a demon . . . "
Suicide straightened up. "That was a little too convenient, rookie. You got an idea?"
Rowen smiled the little smile of all homicidal Asian women. "Ever heard of the Hindu Goddess Kali? She fought this demon; but every time the demon bled, another identical demon would spring from the earth. So she covered the battlefield with her tongue to prevent more demons from spawning. After she became drunk on his blood, Kali became an unstoppable killing machine, slaughtering anything in her path. I don't think anyone would notice one more body in a legend like that."
"Not even, say . . . one more body in gratuitous pink underwear?"
"Who says it'll be pink when Kali gets done with her?"
Suicide tapped his fingers together thoughtfully. "Of course, we could get in trouble for feeding a 'Sue to a religious figure . . . but I don't think Headquarters has really covered that in the Regulations." Now he had a smile to match Rowen's. "I like the way you think, kid. We have a plan." He paused. "And we also have time to sleep, so I recommend you turn in, rookie. PPC field accommodations aren't always as good as this." He tested the mattress on his bed with one hand, nodded, and pulled back the covers. "If any house-elves come in, they're your responsibility. Neuralyze 'em."
He tossed Rowen what looked like a black pen with a dial on it. "You learned to use one of these in Initiation, right?"
Rowen nodded. "Yeah, and I know that I didn't screw up, because I can remember most of my basic training." She unzipped a pocked on her bag and took out a pair of sunglasses, placing them on the floor by the other bed.
"Okay. Anybody walks in, zap 'em and just say that they've been sleepwalking and need to go back to bed. Speaking of which . . . " Suicide turned around, leapt in the manner of all overenthusiastic six-year-old boys and landed hard on his bed, bouncing two or three times. "Ahhh. Comfort."
"Haven't seen comfort in a while, eh?" she inquired, pushing aside the covers of her bed. Rowen took out the neuralyzer and the pen from her pocket, placing them both in arm's reach. It didn't do anyone any good to roll over and brainwash someone in their sleep, just because you left the thing in your pocket.
"Are you kidding? The camps of the Lakedaemonians were . . . what's the English word . . . dumps. Officers lived all right, but I wasn't an officer. And talk back to someone who was, and you'd get an eight-hour assignment being forced to push a tree down. The PPC's better, but we tend to catnap instead of get a full eight hours. Enjoy it while you can, kid." Suicide pulled the covers up and blew out the oil lamp beside his bed. "'Night."
Rowen slid into her bed, and reached out to make sure that both pen-like devices were in easy reach, just in case. "Goodnight."
And a very short moment later, both agents were soundly asleep, lulled into their odd dreamlands by the steady hum of bad writing and the thudding lack of commas. There was only one instance that interrupted their sleep . . .
But Peeves was sent on his way, bribed with a sock and a few sticks of chalk.
* * *
Agent Rowen was awoken by a far-too-chipper baritone voice and a violent shake. "Up and at 'em, rookie!" the voice sang out. "Breakfast in the Great Hall! We get to enjoy the legendary Hogwarts cuisine . . . oh, and watch everybody stare in total jealousy at Mary and Malfoy. Duty calls!"
"Aaaggha? Oh, right. I'll be right here." Rowen rubbed her eyes blurrily as she mumbled, and went about looking for the tie for her disguise in the bathroom.
Rowen re-entered the room when she felt presentable, which is pretty subjective, considering the fact that she had the equivalent of a noose tied around her neck. "So, I bet Skippy and and that poor boy are all mushy and such all meal long, amIright?"
"Well, let's see. . . actually, I think we've got HotHotLover!Draco instead of Romantic!Draco. Oh, and Tatiana's going to shout at everybody in the Great Hall for staring at her." Suicide grimaced, distractedly tugging at his dark green teacher's robes. "Don't want to miss that."
Rowen rolled her eyes. "Oh no, not for the world. I would stare at her. The little freak that she is."
When the agents walked into the hall, they were just in time to watch the grand entrance of the Sue and Malfoy, all arm in arm. Accordingly, everybody turned and began to stare at them, the boys open mouthed at the sight of Sue-hawtness and the girls dying of jealousy. Suicide had picked up a plate of omelet from a confused-looking Hufflepuff first-year, and now began flicking mushroom bits at Tatiana.
"'practically all of them had been with Draco at least once' What, even the Gryffindors? I doubt it. Rookie, charge for making Malfoy a slut."
"Will do," she said, scribbling down the charge. "Would that also apply for undermining the morals of Hogwarts students?"
"Yep. Conservative British institution, where males can't even get into the girls' dorms and the students are watched like daytime TV? I somehow doubt there's that much canoodling going on behind Dumbledore's back . . . even if he is pushing up daisies." A small chunk of onion bounced off Malfoy's head. "Charge."
"Done, and done." Rowen paused to wave her fork at the impending confrontation between the golden trio and Malfoy. "Oh look. She tries to be all . . . Switzerland. Or was it Sweden?"
"She's trying to be all 'I have nothing to do with this'. Sure, it's noble. But all of the Sues do it. Or they magically make everyone get along." A flying piece of food hit an unfortunate, and very confused, Ravenclaw across the room.
"Whoopsie." Suicide squinted at the scene, where a triumphant Tatiana and a worshipfully lustful Draco were marching out of the Great Hall. "So . . . shall we portal to the 'Dracona'—" he snickered "—common room and watch the mechanical love scene?"
He paused. "Or, to save our sanity, we could eat breakfast here and catch up with them in Potions instead."
"We might get to miss all of the horribly sugary sweet nonsense, if we're lucky."
"I wouldn't call it sugary, even." Suicide squinted at the Words. "More like . . . NutraSweet. Supposed to be the same, but somehow lacking in flavor and leaving one with a faintly metallic tang in their mouth. Hey—cinnamon toast!"
Rowen drummed her fingers on the table as she ate breakfast. The Great Hall, with the absence of the 'Sue, was oddly unsteady. There were more than a few confused students who had seemed to have imagined a loud teacher nicking various breakfast foods from their table; but when questioned, they could never be sure that they knew who the teacher was . . . or whether he had once glanced up at the ceiling, tapped an Asian student on the shoulder, and said "Having a fridge in Hogwarts—she has got to die." But the few who remembered this incident shook their heads and turned away, positive that it was just their imaginations. Maybe a hallucination caused by lack of food . . . now where did my toast go?
Said Asian student munched on the remains of a strip of bacon, looking at the Words. "You know, it's probably a good thing that we're over here. I'm just wondering if we'll still be affected by the authors notes and—" The agent never got time to finish her sentence. Hogwarts gave a great lurch and seemed to spin as the story changed from third person to Draco's point of view.
The horrendous POV shift sent both agents flying out of their chairs and crashing to the stone floor of the Great Hall. As they lay there, panting, the world jerked horribly again and they were back in third person.
"Hate—this—Sue—" Suicide panted, raising a heavily bruised face from the stone. "I—"
The world lashed back like a whip as it shifted to Tatiana's point of view, and then settled back into third. Rowen groaned and muttered incomprehensibly into the floor, before pulling herself into a sitting position. Both agents were thrown across the hall twice more as the world switched once again to Draco's point of view and then back to third.
"I—think she's just—met our 'Stu—" Suicide groaned. "Heard Malfoy's voice calling her—a slut—truer word never spoken. Ow."
"Does that mean that he hasn't been completely replaced? We don't have to go looking for the real one, then."
"Just . . just possessed, I guess," the Greek managed, finally hauling himself to his feet. A plate of scrambled eggs and ketchup had had a very unfortunate collision with the front of his robes. "We'll need to exorcise him . . . ow . . . after we immobilize Her Sueness."
Rowen wearily stood up, glaring at the rest of the hall. "It's so out of canon around here that they didn't even notice. We'll have to go back to the Room of Requirement to get the exorcism supplies."
"Not necessarily . . . " Suicide rummaged in his pack. "I was reading last night, remember? And if the army teaches you one thing—it's to never turn down something you don't have to pay for." He rummaged in his pack, and produced a copy of The Half-Blood Prince, handing it to Rowen. Maybe it was just the agents' imagination; but when the Asian girl held the heavy book, the room around her seemed to grow a little more solid, a little more—real. Suicide winked and flipped out a cigarette lighter. "Book and candle. Voilà."
Rowen tapped the hard backing of the book. Yes, it would do very nicely. "Very nice," she commented, turning the book over in her hands. For a piece of bound literature, it felt at least a little . . . enraged. "Do you suppose that we could knock the 'Sue out with the canon? It could neutralize her apparition powers." The book practically roared for revenge.
"I think that would be very doable." For what felt like the thousandth time, Suicide scanned the shadowy writing on the walls and ceiling. "We need to follow them into the Dracona dorm—there's an OOC Malfoy snogging a bit character we need to get."
"Shall we portal?"
"Sounds good to me." Rowen gripped the book.
Suicide opened the portal, and the two agents crept through. They landed in a shadowy corner of the blue-and-green Dracona common room, where an open-mouthed Tatiana was observing something very . . . un-Malfoyish.
As Jacob moved into the common room and the door closed behind him, he ran into Tatiana. “Hey Tats what ya doing?” Tatiana was standing there staring over at the couch.
Jacob looked over her shoulder to see Malfoy and the huffelpuff, Lucy, snogging with their shirts off. Tatiana turned away, “my god Malfoy! Why can’t you do that in your own room! Or at least warn me!”
It was rather sloppy, and wet sounding, but most definitely undignified and pretty gross.
“By Drakie! Meet me you back here later!” called the bit-character Hufflepuff as she ran past them and out through the door, pursued by the mini-Aragog huffelpuff. Draco turned to Tatiana in high dudgeon and demanded to know what Tatiana's problem was. The Sue responded with nothing much, although she did manage to drop a parenthetical author's note into the middle of her statement.
Tatiana then proceeded to apparate the bit Jacob and herself out of the room.
"Should they be able to do that?" Suicide whispered to Rowen.
Rowen's grip on the book was tight enough that her knuckles were showing white. "No, Suicide. They. Should. Not." The beginnings of a twitch were present under her left eye.
Suicide laid a hand on his partner's shoulder. "Calm down, rookie. You know what they're doing now?"
She scanned the words, then Grinned. "They're going to have a Romantic little tête-à-tête, far away from everyone else."
"Anybody else who might . . . notice things?"
"That's right. There isn't another soul about the grounds, according to the Author, that is."
"Well," Suicide said mock-gallantly, offering her his arm, "We must trust the Author on these things, mustn't we?"
"That we shall!" she answered, taking his arm. "Mustn't let such a grand opportunity pass us by."
Suicide glanced over his shoulder at Draco, who hadn't moved since Tatiana disappeared. "The Words don't tell us that Malfoy moves . . . which means that as long as he's here, the common room won't disappear. We can come back and get him after we kill the 'Sue. Ready?" And he opened a portal to the edge of the lake, right near where the romantic tryst was to take place. "Now for wrath, now for ruin—and the Red Pen!"
Both agents ran through the portal, landing not three yards from where the Sue and Stu were running. The two uncanons were a good several feet from each other.
Rowen sprinted, closing the distance between herself and the supposed heir to the "fifth house." When she was close enough, she hurled Half-Blood Prince like a thunderbolt and nailed "Tati" in the torso. She then proceeded to tackle the Sue to the ground in a manner that would not have looked out of place in a rugby match.
Jacob, running ahead, screeched to a halt and turned around. "What are you—" he began, but soon found himself unable to speak. This is mostly because of shock, although the short spear sticking through his left shoulder may have had something to do with it.
After a brief hair-pulling, fingernail-scratching scuffle, Rowen managed to get the Punjab lasso around the Sue's neck, with one knee jabbed into where one of the Sue's kidneys might have been. In the brief tussle, the hardbound copy of Half-Blood Prince had landed under the Sue. "Tatiana Jocelyn Malika, or whoever the hell you are—" the agent began.
"One second," Suicide interjected. He pulled the book out from under Tatiana and slammed her upside the head with it several times. "Make—me—get—banged—up—with—your—gods—damned—view—shifts—you—little—kariola—" he snapped, punctuating each word with a further impact of the book. When Tatiana was looking thoroughly stunned (oddly enough, the book itself wasn't harmed in the least), he put it down and stepped back. "Sorry. Go ahead, rookie."
"Thank you, Suicide. She's not squirming as much now." Rowen cleared her throat. "Tatiana Jocelyn Malika. You are hereby charged by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum with: messing up time-space by having the first years being led across the lake when the train hadn't pulled in yet, making the Sorting Hat wait hundreds of centuries, unnecessary scene changes, causing Dumbledore to come back from the dead, messing with said 'should be dead' character, preventing the dead from getting their well-deserved rest, gratuitous shape shifting, causing incongruous behavior between girls, creation of the mini-Aragogs 'Goderic Gryffindor,' 'quiditch,' 'huffelpuff,' and 'Salazar Slytherine,' making the Sorting Hat spew bad grammar, creation of a new headmaster, mistreatment of nice clothing, uber-abilities, uncommon knowledge of anatomy, upstaging Hermione, character assassination, redundancy, somehow being kind, helpful, AND evil at the same time—I'm pretty sure that you can't do that—making Draco Malfoy's eyes change color numerous times, creating a new house (namely Dracona—what kind of stupid name is that?), gratuitous use of in-text author's notes, making Draco Malfoy a slut, undermining the morals of Hogwarts students, possession of Muggle technology (a refrigerator) in Hogwarts, apostrophe abuse, neglect of the common comma, not wearing a uniform in Hogwarts, changing the prefect system, teeny-bopper prose, creating co-ed dorms, creating gratuitous bit characters, telepathy, Reality Disruption—i.e., mucking up the characters of just about everyone you came into contact with, messing with the history of Hogwarts by adding a FIFTH founder, turning all male students into hormonal twits, making Draco prefer one "paring" to another—"paring" is a method of cutting things up—and even though I'm sure that Draco would prefer to cut you up than to cut up Hermione, it doesn’t make any sense! Double character corruption in the form of making Draco both nice and sex-obsessed, messing with the abilities of metamorphmagi, causing horrible changes in point of view, really pissing off PPC agents, being a right horrible little slut, having a really stupid name, and being a nasty, irritating Mary Sue, you are hereby sentenced to death. You do not get a trial. You do not pass Go. You do not collect one hundred dollars! And as you are, I don't think you're going to get out any last words." Rowen twisted the lasso tighter. Eventually, the Sue stopped squirming altogether.
Suicide applauded. "Nice going, rookie! Now then . . . " He produced the Remote Activator with a certain amount of flourish, and pressed several keys. A portal opened beneath the quivering Jacob, and he disappeared with a trailing scream.
"Dropped him into the Horntail's nest," he explained to nobody. "As for you, Little Miss Shape Shifter, we have something a little more—original planned for you. You can thank Agent Rowen for your upcoming painful demise. Buh-bye!" And a second portal opened in the air.
They emerged into a hideous wasteland. The sky was dark with smoke, tinged red where the light of hundreds of fires colored the atmosphere. Mutilated corpses were piled left and right, some torn in two; it was as if something had come at them, something so angry that it couldn't have been bothered to walk around them. Instead, it had walked through them. The rumbles of battle and distant screams could be heard on the horizon, and the entire place stunk of death.
Rowen let out a low whistle. "Cheerio, beautiful." Both agents tossed the Sue onto the ground with ease, as the Sue was but ninety pounds. Rowen removed the choking lasso and slapped the Sue across the face a few times, trying to wake her.
"Hnaah . . . " Tatiana groaned. " . . . leav me aloen you stupid freak . . . "
Rowen smiled. "Oh I will, I will. Don't worry, you'll find yourself in much better company in a few seconds."
The Greek agent was staring intensely at the horizon. The rumbling seemed to be getting closer. "It's coming back this way!" he said urgently. "Quick, tie her up!"
"Awdamnit!" Rowen began hastily tying up Tatiana with the urgency that only comes from knowing that every second takes you further away from a messy, messy death. "Andsoweleaveyoutoyourmostcertaindemise, tata!" she said, before both agents made a hasty retreat through the portal.
Tatiana shivered and looked up. A cloud of smoke was coming closer, whirling like a tornado. Within the smoke she could hear shrieking, and far above her head, a distant suggestion of arms . . . and a flash of steel—
Let the record show that a certain deity now has one more skull to add to her belt.
* * *
"That was . . . interesting," Suicide observed as the two agents tumbled through the portal back into a deserted corridor of Hogwarts. "Now we have to get rid of that bit and exorcise Malfoy—shit!" He stopped. "Forgot to charge the 'Stu!"
After a moment's consideration, he opened a small portal in the floor. A distant roaring could be heard, and jets of searing-hot air shot up through the small gateway. "Jacob Fairwen!" he shouted down. "You are hereby charged with being a Gary Stu, an obnoxious plot device, and for convenient stupidity—to whit, not seeing that Tatiana was looser than a flag in a thunderstorm. Your punishment was death. Ta!" With a grin, Suicide closed the portal. "Now then. Exorcism?"
"We have to get that last Hufflepuff bit first, don't we?"
Suicide groaned. "I guess. Where d'you suppose she is?"
"Well, she was only designated running out of the dorm. She might be just outside of it."
"Let's go find out, then," he sighed. "The dorm's back that way . . . 'a brightly lit hall at the south end of the castle' . . . whatever happened to description?" He muttered. "We're looking for the painting of the dragon wrapped up in snakes."
Rowen winced. "Sounds painful."
"Bets it's supposed to symbolize inter-house unity or some such."
The junior agent nearly gagged. "I wouldn't put it past this fic . . . " After much ambling about the castle, the offending picture was eventually located, with a shirtless bit standing almost right outside the door. The lost-looking huffelpuff was standing right next to her, looking cutely (and evilly) lost.
"Charge 'er, rookie," Suicide said, turning away. "I'm not looking at that."
Rowen coughed into her hand. "Right." She stepped in front of the bit character and pulled out the knife she had received earlier in the mission. "Lucy no family name. You are hereby charged with being a bit character, a plot device, and contributing to the character rupture of one Draco Malfoy. You are sentenced to death by the PPC." The bit blinked once or twice before the knife came across her throat.
"Wash the uniform in cold water," Suicide advised, opening another portal beneath the dead bit. As the heat wafted up again, there was a wet squelch noise, and a roar of delight. "Otherwise, the stains'll never come out. And yes, black fabric does stain, trust me on this one. Otherwise—" he hesitated a little, as if not sure how to phrase the next sentence. "Um—good job—Rowen."
Rowen looked down at the knife. "I know that black stains and that you wash with cold water. I'm female, remember?" She paused a moment before speaking again. "But thanks, Suicide."
"Oh—right." Suicide thought back on that statement and decided Not To Think About It. There were some questions that even a career soldier didn't ask. "Anyway, nice killing. You're good for a rookie. Now then—" he gestured to the door. "Let's beat the 'Sue out of Malfoy and go home. This has been way too weird for me."
When they entered the common room, Draco was right where they had left him. He was dazed, with a clouded look in his eye that came from Sue corruption. Suicide tossed Rowen the cigarette lighter and a pack of pink birthday candles.
"Light them in a ring around him. I'll handle the 'Sue."
"Sure thing." Rowen crept around the possessed canon, leaving a circle of pink candles all around him. She cursed once or twice when a candle refused to stand up; the agent ended up sticking them to the floor with melted wax. When they were all lit, she stood back. "It's all yours."
"Right." Suicide took a firm stance, clutching the thick copy of Half-Blood Prince like a shield. Advancing on the stunned Malfoy like the wrath of a god (a minor one, anyway) he slammed the book into the character's uncanonically muscular chest. "Vade retro, Suetana! Get thee behind me, Author! The power of ROWLING compels thee! In the name of ROWLING I cast thee out! Get thee behind me, foul spirit! OUT!"
"Avaunt! Avaunt! And other such phrases! Get thee behind me, Sue!"
Malfoy slumped forward, and a thick fog poured off of him. A female figure coalesced in the smoke, wailing piteously. "Nooooo! I am the chosen one of the five founders! I must have every boy in Hogwarts fall for me—"
Then the spirit of the author was forced from the story by the waving of sharp and pointy implements. Draco Malfoy fell to the ground groaning as the Authoress was dispelled. As the last shreds of smoke faded away, the room around them began to rumble. Hogwarts was deciding that where they were, shouldn't exist.
"SHIT!" Suicide yelled, fumbling with the remote activator. When the portal fizzled into existence, he practically hurled the canon character through the portal before he and Rowen followed behind. They landed on the grass, close to the lake.
"You've still got—the neuralyzer," Suicide panted. A small part of his brain observed critically that he was doing that a lot these days, and was promptly kicked into silence by the rest of him. He fumbled in his robes, and produced two pairs of mirrored shades, tossing one to Rowen and donning the other himself.
"That I do," she said, pushing the sunglasses onto her nose. She set the neuralyzer for approximately the day before yesterday. When she pressed the button, a blinding flash was emitted from the top of the device. Draco Malfoy looked blankly ahead, slightly slackjawed, but very relaxed.
"All right," Rowen said to the brainwashed canon, "you haven't finished your Defense Against the Dark Arts homework, but that's all right because Professor Snape will give you an O whatever you do. You fell asleep by the lake and had a nasty dream, but you can't remember it now. You're going to go inside and get back to work on your plan for killing Dumbledore. 'Kay?"
Draco nodded pleasantly and strolled off towards castle. Suicide looked at Rowen sideways.
"Plan for killing—"
"The seventh year hasn't happened yet, right?" she explained. "With all these people alive, it'll automatically revert to sixth year. No muss, no fuss. Right?"
"Hopefully. I was sick of Undead!Dumbledore anyway."
"Well, at least it was a change from Senile!Dumbledore."
"Or, gods help us . . . Rapist!Dumbledore." Suicide shuddered. "I heard a rumor that they're going to send a team into a fic like that—something about Snape and a sex change. Gods help us all." He paused. "They wouldn't do that, would they?"
Rowen winced. "Well . . . I don't know. I heard about that one time when they sent a team into you know . . . 'Celebrian'."
"Hey, my previous partner was recruited in that 'fic. Night before last, he was napping on the rug and woke up screaming about lavender body parts."
Rowen made a sympathetic hissing noise. "Poor thing. I hope he doesn't get flashbacks. Does he?"
"Ah . . . well, that's good to know. At least I'll be in the right place if I ever decide to choke on my food."
"If you could call what we get in Headquarters 'food.'" Suicide crossed his arms, staring across the scene towards the lake. In the shallows, the giant squid was being fed kippered herrings by a couple of daring seventh-years. "Zeus, I wish we could stay . . . it's great when it's not being mucked up by a 'Sue."
Rowen shuffled her feet. "It really is, isn't it? I'll never get why people could read the books and then mess it all up." She shifted her weight from foot to foot. Damn, her leg hurt from all of the times she had jabbed it with The Pen that day.
The Greek looked over at her. And to her surprise, he winked. "Don't think I don't appreciate it, kid."
She smiled weakly and shrugged. "I do what I can."
"A damned lot, from what I've seen. Raging hormones aren't exactly a walk in the park." He produced the remote activator and began pressing a few buttons. The charred response center, although with ash now almost entirely obscured by heaps of silver clothing, fizzled into view. "Ladies first—again."
"I thank you, kind sir," she said, jumping through the portal, then tossing her bag into a corner. For a first mission—Rowen stopped herself from continuing on that line of thought. Never ever give the Laws of Narrative Comedy any more ammunition than necessary.
And for once, the ironic deities that govern the fate of all Canon Protectors had absolutely nothing to work with.
* * *
Agent Rowen settled into the PPC with minimal hassle. She's still waiting to be assigned a permanent partner and response center, but with the badfic crush these days, it won't be long before she gets either. Salazar Slytherine, huffelpuff and quiditch were dispatched to HFA with a minimum of fuss, but Goderic Gryffindor clung to Agent Rowen's leg and absolutely refused to let go. He is now living in her backpack. His silk goes for a very good price, which enables Rowen to stock up on Bleepka when she needs it.
Agent Suicide sold the suit of silver-embossed chain mail to a Dungeons & Dragons fan for a hefty profit. He bought a whole new supply of alcohol, fireproof sleeping baskets for Thiranduil and Narnia No-Longerfled, and a supply of concentrated Anti-Lustin ProMax in pill form for Agent Rowen. He continues to deedle-deedle-dum his hours away, unaware of the fate that looms over his head . . .
They both made some very valuable trades with the silver wear.
Kali, Goddess of Death, barely noticed one more body underfoot. And, just as it had been predicted, the pink clothing was unrecognizable by the time all was said and done.
Nobody ever asked what happened to Jacob.
The Universal Laws of Comedy continue to stalk Headquarters, smiting agents with beeping consoles and occasionally laughing maniacally, usually whenever they spot Agent Suicide. They are close now. So close to achieving their goal . . .