Wrenchman frowned and scratched his knee. Then he remembered that it wasn't really his knee and that it was Snape's knee. Weird. He paused, and leaned against the wall.
He was lucky that so few of the fanwriters bothered to come up to the fourth floor annex. Despite being a popular hangout for the minor canon characters (see: Hufflepuff House), the area gave him enough privacy to let his guard down once in a while. Glancing around to make sure no one was coming, Wrenchman scratched his head furiously. Snape's hair was itchy.
Sometimes he wished that they had never found the wart of Mary Sue, stolen the book, or managed to brew the potion that left him stuck in a very uncomfortable character body. But that had been Ruthander's plan. The thing about possession!Sues, Ruthander had told him, was that they could go without notice if you made an effort. So, here he stood, one poor liberal arts major stuck in a fanficto-reality Snape, wandering the halls of Hogwarts. HFA, rather. The difference was striking.
The wooden box on his belt was buzzing. Wrenchman sighed and ducked into an alcove.
"Have you found it yet?" said Ruthander's voice from inside the box.
"No," said Wrenchman. His voice came out as Snape's, something that still creeped him out.
"Did you ask?"
Wrenchman wanted to explain that it wasn't as easy as that. He couldn't ask a canon character; the ones who knew about it traveled in packs on account of the safety-in-numbers principle (more characters together meant more fun for all when a rogue luster tried to glomp one of the group). He couldn't ask a fanwriter; they didn't even know about it, and he was uncertain what would happen if he got attacked and Mini-Aragogs showed up to rescue him. That, and the fanwriters scared him. Quite a bit.
"Wrenchman, you need to find it before it's moved. How many times have I told you this?"
"Every time," said Wrenchman. He paused. "Sometimes I worry about all this exposition."
"That's not what I'm paying you for, Wrenchman," said Ruthander.
Footsteps, pattering quickly through the halls. Someone was coming.
"I'm on," said Wrenchman. "Out."
"Oh, good, Professor! There you are!"
Wrenchman spun around to see Hermione Granger standing at the mouth of the corridor. "We've been holding off the 'Sunken Ships' lecture. Please hurry, I don't know how much longer Professor Dumbledore can hold off the fanwriters with his magic tricks."
"Err... right," said Wrenchman. A stone weight dropped into his stomach. This was just the sort of exposure that he didn't want.
"Now that everything's settled down from the canonshift," Hermione was saying, "we figured we'd set down the law on who is a canon couple and who isn't."
Snape, think Snape, you are Snape. "Like that will prevent them from writing pairings where I wind up with anything that moves," he said coldly.
"Well, Miss Brin says it will be educational for them to be reminded of our natural order, and to see canon triumphing properly," said Hermione. She smiled in a very grim way. "And if making out with Ron on stage will prevent me from winding up with you in even one fanfiction, I'm game."
"Please, some of us have eaten today," said Wrenchman.
He wondered if he could just run. Surely she wouldn't chase him? But Hermione had a Mini-Aragog whistle, she wouldn't have to. The spiders would get him for sure. And that would be suspicious, too, if Snape ran away from a chance to torture --ah, educate. Of course. Educate fanwriters.
Good on me, that was a very "Snape" thing to think, thought Wrenchman. Then, I am going to need serious therapy when this is over.
But Snape might run away if the fanwriters said something that hurt his oh-so-fragile psyche. He would just have to overreact disproportionately to something the fanwriters said very early on in the lecture. He could do that.
Hermione lead Wrenchman-as-Snape to the Transfiguration classroom. It had been magically expanded, as most of the classrooms had been, to accommodate the sheer volume of students of HFA. Wrenchman eyed the students warily as he followed Hermione to the front of the room, where Albus Dumbledore was pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
"But Professor, we just saw you put the rabbit in the hat," Artemisia Duncan pleaded. "We know it's there!"
"It's clearly slight-of-hand," said Somali Lynx, HFA's only Kneazle student. "Not even real magic."
As Wrenchman passed Dumbledore, he chanced a glance at the hat the wizard was holding. Dumbledore moved to stick the rabbit back into the hat, and just as it was out of the students' line of sight, the rabbit vanished. Dumbledore caught Wrenchman's eye and winked. "I just found the whole slight-of-hand thing too difficult, Severus."
"Now that we're all here," said Hermione, taking her place at the podium, "we can begin today's lecture. As you know, the release of Deathly Hallows has now formally solidified our canon."
"Which means we can take you to task for violating who we end up with. Isn't that right, Astoria?"
Wrenchman had to squint. There appeared to be someone there, and he supposed that she was Astoria Malfoy nee Greengrass, but she looked very... insubstantial.
"That's right, fanwriters," said Draco smugly. "I get married. I am not shagging Potter or Weasley or Granger--"
"Much to our relief," said Hermione.
"So stop pairing me with them!" said Draco.
"But, but she's so... two-dimensional?" said Jareth_Tights.
"Hey, minor characters have feelings, too!" said Astoria. "Why don't you write a story about me, flesh me out a bit? Huh?"
Draco put his hand on her arm. "Trust me, dear, you'd rather they didn't. It's a slippery slope to canon-suedom."
"Moving on to some other ships, you will note that Ron and I are happily married at the finish of the series?" said Hermione.
Elisa Tyfied raised her hand. "So why aren't you older?"
"I beg your pardon?" said Hermione.
"Why don't you look older and married?" said Elisa Tyfied.
"You still look like teenage-Hermione. Why didn't the canonshift age you up?"
"Well, that's a very interesting question," said Professor Vector, appearing at the door carrying a corkboard covered in graphs and tables. "What I have deduced is a concentration of characterization combined with the age range set by canon. If you look at the density of character development for your 'Epiloguizens', as I call them, you will see a break between where their arc of potentiality reaches its apex..."
Victor and Trelany, the Mini-Aragogs that trailed Vector, caught the look from Hermione and shepherded Professor Vector back out the door. There was a nod from Hermione that promised extra kibble that night.
"The short answer, fanwriters, is 'because'," said Hermione.
Ron walked up behind her and put an arm around her shoulder. "You heard the lady."
There was a chant beginning somewhere near the back of the room. It sounded to Wrenchman suspiciously like "Demonstrate! Demonstrate!" He clapped a hand to his forehead.
Hermione shuffled her notes on the podium as the chant grew louder, then blushed and kissed Ron. Ron staggered a bit, before Hermione broke it off, her face as red as her Gryffindor tie.
"Happy? I hope so," said Hermione gruffly. "You are very, very lucky I am willing to indulge in your--"
Ron looked at Harry, shrugged, then pulled Hermione away from the podium and out the back door. Wrenchman tried to ignore the odd thumps that followed.
"So, I think that puts me in charge now," said Harry. "This is an easy one, guys. Me and Ginny. That's all."
Kurome Shiretsu jumped to her feet. "Excuse me, but, for posterity, you see, uh, what exactly did Ginny get you for your seventeenth birthday?"
Harry blushed. "Th-that's none of your business."
Ginny smiled like a cat.
"S-Snape, don't you want to say something now?" said Harry, edging away from the crowd.
Wrenchman jumped when he realized that it was him. "Uh, yes," he said. Snape, think Snape. But what would Snape say in this lecture... uh, right.
"I don't end up with Sirius! Disgusting fanwriters. He is dead, and I was never involved with James, nor Remus. And I don't end up with Hermione or Harry, or Draco, as you can see," he said. Just give me an excuse to overreact and run out of this room, he thought. The fanwriters' attention was on him, and he could feel himself starting to panic.
"What about Lily?" said Subieko.
"What about Lily?" said Snape.
Some moments roar up before you like a tidal wave. Some pass without notice. This moment just appeared. Wrenchman-as-Snape looked at the door, where HFA's canon character-100%-Bonafide-Angus Snape stood. Wrenchman's jaw dropped. Harry Potter surged to his feet, and produced a Mini-Aragog whistle. He blew a blast (Sirius Black fell to his knees, cursing) and the classroom was swarming with Mini-Aragogs. "Impostor Snape!" shouted Ginny.
And Wrenchman could only watch as the Snape in the doorway was brought down by a pile of furry black spiders.
Author's Note: I'm hoping to keep this going on a semi-regular basis, and I'm sorry if the story's a bit rusty getting back into itself. I really appreciate any comments or criticism at this point, as well as any requests for characters or items to appear. The Harry Potter Canon is filled with so many characters that I don't often realize if I've neglected any one significantly.
I'm also keeping a livejournal nowadays, and I will try to keep all apprised of the status of this fic there from now on. (See link on my author page ^).