In the Keeping of HFA
by Meir Brin
Author's Notes: This is the sequel to The Hogwarts Fanfiction Academy, and for greater understanding and enjoyment is best read chronologically. And now, the Disclaimer:
I, Meir Brin, do not own the world of Harry Potter (property of J.K. Rowling and her publishers), the OFUM (property of Miss Camilla Sandman, who has authorized this spin-off), the PPC (property of Jay and Acacia, plus the Flowers That Be), The Lord of the Rings (property of the Tolkien Estate, I put that in because references may be made), Discworld (property of Terry Pratchett, ditto), or any other recognizable fandom which are obviously not my own. I make no money from this, and, for good measure, will add that I am very poor.
There are, however, quite a few things in this story which are mine. Do not mess with them. You will regret it. Severely.
For enrollment papers, please visit my website, which is accessible from my author page. It is necessary to not take oneself too seriously to enroll in HFA. Thank you.
Upon the first look, the grounds of Hogwarts, or, rather, of HFA, were calm and peaceful.
But that was only upon first look.
Upon the second look, one would note some a multitude of oddities, even for Potterverse, such as the Death Eater Quidditch team playing the Order of the Phoenix over on the pitch, or a chorus of squeaky, ear bleeding-inducing voices from a mob of house elves that were cleaning the student dormitories.
A final inspection, however, would note even more insanity. One would notice a constant stream of movement within the Forbidden Forest as spiders went about their business in the shadows of the trees, the groan of the castle as yet another spell shook its foundations, or the regular scream and splash as a wayward Mary Sue was apprehended and systematically dumped into the lake.
It was highly unlikely, though, that one would notice Jack Wrenchman, who was currently sitting in a shrub next to the main entrance, unnoticed by the Canon and Uncanon staff of HFA.
Indeed, he was hidden quite well. Too well, in Wrenchman's mind. He shifted uncomfortably in the bushes and cursed the fact that his lack of money had forced him to take such a job. Everyday he considered that this was all a big dream, that he would wake up and resume studies at University and never give the past week a thought. Really, who in their right mind would recruit a starving college student to spy on some fantasy school that Wrenchman wasn't even sure really existed?
Oy, Wrenchman! called a voice through a small wooden box that was attached to his hip, fuming slightly. To clarify, the box was in fact smoking, and the person who was talking into the box was in a sour mood as well. Wrenchman pushed a button and activated the device. Yes, sir?
It should be coming your way right now. Take a look and tell me what you can see, ordered the box.
Wrenchman edged around so that he could peer out of the bushes at the front steps of a large castle. His employer had told him he was going to the land of Harry Potter, only different. Wrenchman had only seen the movies, but was pretty sure that Potterverse was not in possession of so many weird creatures, like a walking buffet line and millions of large, furry spiders.
I don't see anyone here, sir, said Wrenchman, squinting. Are you sure- No, wait, here's something. There's a carriage pulling up to the drive, headed by a, a, sheesh, I don't know what it is. Looks like a great big shrub or something.
Is there anyone coming from the castle? asked the box eagerly.
Wrenchman craned his neck as the huge doors opened. Yes, there's someone coming, he whispered. Tall sort of woman, and a teenager. Oh, and there's that old wizard, Dumbledore, he's here as well.
The shrub dismounted from the carriage, then opened its door like some perverse type of footman. Wrenchman did a perfect double take as a short pine tree stepped out of the vehicle.
There's a pine tree here now, said the student, leaning forward to get a closer look. He's got a parcel of some kind, brown paper and a bunch of stamps, it would seem.
There was a stream of frantic whispering coming from the box. ... they're not sending an agent, but why that? Important, must be important, R must know, he'll want to do something, is it really it, though? Wrenchman struggled to pick out and understand what was being said, but could not. At last, a command was given to him. What's going on now, Wrenchman?
They're speaking, I think, he said.
Well, what are they saying?! exclaimed the box indignantly.
Wrenchman rolled his eyes and crept closer, until he could pick out what was going on. He must be dreaming, he had to be. Trees didn't talk, the Potterverse wasn't real, and he was one sick collegian...
... you must be crazy to entrust this to us, the woman was saying. After what happened last year?
It's already been arranged, Miss Brin. It will be kept here, said a rustling voice, which Wrenchman assumed was the pine tree (he had surely drank milk past the expiration date, said part of his mind, that was the only logical reason for it).
It won't be a problem, said the teenager. After last year, what's the worst that could happen?
Miss White, please don't bring the Ironic Over-power down on us, said the woman. That's the last thing we need, especially with this thing here.
said the teenager, adjusting her gold-trimmed uniform. I just don't think anything can compete with plagues of Mary-Sues.
Albus Dumbledore sighed, looking even more tired than usual. You have now sealed our fate, Ally.
The pine tree stamped its trunk impatiently. Are you going to take this from me or not? it asked. The teenager, Ally White, hurried forward and took the brown parcel from the plant, struggling under its weight.
We'll try to keep it safe, said the tall woman, looking as if that was more of a prayer than a confidant statement.
I hope so, said the pine tree. And remember, no one is to know that it's here.
Except the staff, interjected Ally.
And the Canon Characters, added Professor Dumbledore.
If the pine tree had had eyes, it would have rolled them. Yes, yes, very well. Just keep it safe, and don't let those fanwriters near it.
Ally nodded, and she and Professor Dumbledore walked back into the castle, out of Wrenchman's range of vision. The tall woman, Miss Brin, stayed behind to talk with the tree.
I also ask that you keep an eye out for anything unnatural going on around here, said the pine tree secretly, and Wrenchman had to shift so that he could catch the rest of the conversation.
Most things that go on here are unnatural, said Miss Brin. People don't normally walk around with wands and trade Famous Fangirl Cards; as a rule, this place is generally very unnatural.
Meir, you know what's going on in the Real World, I expect you've heard of the campaigns, and that suit, said the tree covertly.
whispered Miss Brin, suddenly serious. Yes, of course.
There are rumors going around the fandoms. Characters dropping out of stories, an abundance of Evil Avatars by the same authors. Only last week we had an agent disappear entirely from inside a Bad Slash fiction.
That's nothing out of the ordinary, though, rationalized Miss Brin. Suvians avoid some characters entirely, why, I haven't seen a story about Argus Filch for four whole months. And Evil Avatars are hardly rare, you know. As for the other one, Bad Slash does tend to turn some people into maniacs, my cousin Marokee, for one, is-
It is hard to place, but there is a bad feeling around. I was told to tell you that Potterverse is becoming too lax. These new fanwriters that are coming, they must be trained better. Do you see-
What was that? asked Miss Brin suddenly.
Wrenchman slithered back into his bush, trying not to even move. You did not see me, you did not see me, he chanted to himself. The pine tree and the woman were staring at the shrubbery in which he was concealed. Wrenchman wasn't especially afraid of them, but he would lose his job if he was seen. R wouldn't like it, and Wrenchman couldn't afford to pay the rent if he didn't make at least five hundred dollars on this job.
A Mini-Aragog, I expect, said Miss Brin, when the bush was still for five minutes time. They are getting so innovative these days, always finding new ways to navigate the castle and making pretty pictures in their webs. Some of Draco's name-mistakes have even started creating portraits in them. Letting them watch Charlotte's Web' was a good move on Hagrid's part, I must say.
The pine tree didn't appear to be taking in a word of this, as far as Wrenchman could tell, but then again it was a pine tree, and he had no idea what its facial expressions looked like (did it even have a face? ).
I depart, then, said the tree, stepping back into its carriage. Miss Brin waved as the vehicle ambled down the walk, then it vanished completely. Before its leaving, Wrenchman had noticed the letters , , and emblazoned upon the back, along with various other sayings that looked more like graffiti than anything else (Rincewind was here, Pea Pea See, Slytherin droolz, and some scratching writing the might have been Sindarin).
Wrenchman, report, said the wooden box. Have they taken the package?
What? Oh, yes, it's in the castle, said he. The tree left, but that woman's still here. Do you need anything else? -wait, what's this?
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley ran down the stone steps, out of breath. The bespectacled boy stopped in front of Miss Brin. It's really here? Why is it here?
So that we can keep an eye on it, said Miss Brin, turning back to the stone steps.
I don't like it, I think it'll cause trouble, said Hermione Granger, walking out of the castle composedly.
You worry too much, Hermione, said Ron.
But it's, well, it's the you-know-what! said Hermione.
We're not going to start this whole thing again? groaned Harry. Call things by their names, please. And I thought we were making progress with Lord Voldemort and all.
Ron flinched, and then a small, blistered creature the size of a human baby toddled down the front steps. Are you talking about me? babbled the creature. It is not nice to gossip about your colleagues, you know.
Sorry, LVJ, said Hermione.
There you all are, said a motherly voice, and Mrs. Weasley bustled out of the castle, accompanied by Dobby. We've just finished cooking supper, and would be much obliged if you would all come and eat. I hear that there are certain important things that we have to talk about, she said, with a meaningful look at Miss Brin.
Dobby has made ice cream pie! squeaked the house elf excitedly, his black leather tea cozy bobbing up and down. Dobby had recently joined the Elves in Black (Leather), and was quite the fashion statement.
Well, that's good news, at least, said Miss Brin as the group proceeded into the castle. They did not see the tense figure in the bushes collapse in exhaustion as the doors swung shut.
They're going to dinner, sir, and my guess is that they ain't going to be back for a while, said Wrenchman. Can I return now?
hissed the voice in the box. What have we all told you about using improper grammar around that place?! Won't, Wrenchman, and it's may I', may I'!
Wrenchman rolled his eyes and started to gather up his things. I really don't see what the big deal is, sir.
Yess, you canses, but you mays notses, yess you canses, but you mays notses... hissed something behind Wrenchman's back. The phrase was repeated over and over again, and when Wrenchman turned in horror he saw four large, furry spiders closing in on him.
Take me out of here, now! cried Wrenchman as an arachnid claw descended upon his rucksack.
Told you so, said the wooden box smugly. The air around Wrenchman shimmered, and he was gone. The Mini-Aragogs that had been attracted to the use of incorrect English skittered around confusedly, looking for the person who had been there mere seconds ago.
And inside Hogwarts, a large brown-papered parcel was being concealed deep within the castle.