Diary of an Undercover Sue
DISCLAIMER – The academy, and all members of it, are mine. People mentioned in the academy and visitors to the academy are normally somebody else's, (but I ask permission first, so I shouldn't get sued (in the legal sense, not the Giri sense)). Middle-earth is Tolkien's and although I can't ask his permission, I can bow down in awe at his brilliance, and make a small stand against the vandals who mangle it. Any mangling I do is purely unintentional, and I apologise profusely.
Tom Lehrer is a musical genius. I am just a fan – ergo the songs and introductions I may quote in this, previous and subsequent chapters, are his work, not mine.
Wicked is a fantastic musical that I claim no rights to, only deep love.
Scenes containing Dafydd and Selene are being, at the very least, run past their creator first.
Chapter 25 - Preparation.
I'm in a forest.
I shouldn't know that it's a forest. There is a heavy mist drifting through the trees, and the dawn light turns it translucent and pearlescent; I can't see more than a few metres in any direction, and it is entirely possible that the tree line ends just beyond the point of visibility.
But it doesn't - I know, without any evidence that I'm aware of, that I'm somewhere in the middle of a sizeable forest. I'm holding a long bow and dressed in a simple linen shirt and trousers.
I'm also fairly certain that I'm dreaming.
This seems the most reasonable conclusion, or at least, the one supported by more evidence: after all, I fell asleep on a couch at TAMS, I didn't have a bow to hand (that being said, if I can get hold of one before it all kicks off, that would definitely be a bonus), I don't own clothes anything like what I'm wearing, and I wasn't anywhere near this calm.
Perhaps my unconsciousness is on my side for a change. With a big day ahead of me, it's given me somewhere tranquil to focus myself, prepare for what is to come without any distractions…
…Legolas steps out of the mist.
Cursing my subconscious, the laws of dramatic irony and narrative comedy, and everything else in existence, I hesitate; the urge to turn and run wars with the urge to go to him. I hesitate just long enough to realise that he isn't alone.
Gimli steps out of the mist to stand by his side; then Aragorn follows, and Frodo, and Boromir… slowly, the entire Fellowship step into view and stand facing me.
Behind them I can make out Elrond, Arwen, Theoden, Galadriel… the entire population of Middle-Earth seems to be filling the forest, with no regard for differences of time or geography or allegiance. Gollum crouches in front of Isildur, Elanor Gardner stands next to Thorin…
In unison, they all raise their right hands, and press their fists to their chests, bowing their heads.
It should be an overpowering sight in terms of its scale, and possibly a little self-indulgent. Instead it is solemn, and beautiful. I swallow the lump in my throat, and return the gesture. If this is just a dream, then it is exactly what I need to centre myself, and bring home just what we are fighting for. And if it is something else, something more… then I'm not inclined to question it.
The mist starts to thicken, and the figures fade from view, 'til I am once again alone with Legolas. He smiles, and mouths "Good luck".
I'm still smiling back when I realise I'm now awake. The dawn light streaks the stone walls rather than mist-shrouded trees, and Elizabeth is sitting on the edge of her bed speaking quietly with Platy and smoothing her fur with a soft brush.
Platy notices I'm awake first, and nods in my direction. "Good morning." She climbs off Elizabeth's lap and tilts her head, studying me. "Are you ready?"
"I think so. Oh, if you can get me a bow and a full quiver, Elizabeth, or arrange for one to be in position, that would be good."
Platy raises an eye ridge at me, and I chuckle. "I haven't forgotten my own rules, don't worry; I know I can't actually shoot anyone, but we might as well have a touch of the dramatic on our side as well." I stretch out my shoulders. The couch made a remarkably comfortable temporary bed – probably because I'm short enough to fit on it – but I still need to be more limber than I am.
Platy mutters "Pity" under her breath, and starts to groom herself with her bill.
Elizabeth nods, toying with the brush and attempting a smile. "Can do. I'll make sure there's one up there; with all the fluttering that will be going on, no one will be paying much attention… though finding a free moment might be difficult."
As though to emphasise the point, someone starts knocking on the door. Fortunately, we were prepared for this; I drop to the floor and roll under the bed, Platy quickly jumping down and following me. There's more than enough clearance – we checked last night – and as long as we stay back from the edge, we can't be seen by someone standing in the doorway.
Still, I find myself holding my breath as Elizabeth opens the door.
"Good morning Headmistress!" The secretary's voice is a little too bright and sweet; I imagine her smile is as false as her figure, and I'm only slightly regretful that I can't see her face to gauge her mood.
"Good morning; is everything nearly ready for the ceremony?" Elizabeth remains in the doorway, blocking it just enough to obstruct a clean line of sight into the room without appearing hostile. This was part of what we discussed last night; Elizabeth's "change of heart" has to appear as natural as possible, and that means maintaining just enough tension to avoid raising suspicions. If she's suddenly completely cooperative, anyone with half a brain would realise that she's up to something,
…so, we're probably being far too over-cautious, but better safe than sorry.
"Yes; breakfast is just being served now, and then we'll get the tables cleared and the seats arranged. We've announced that lessons will be suspended until after the end of the presentation." She sounds a little more sincere anyway, the smug tones of someone certain in her fait accompli growing stronger.
"If you think that's best. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to finish getting ready; I'll be down in my office shortly." Elizabeth pushes the door shut before the secretary can respond.
I can see her feet and very little else from this angle; she's staying close to the door, probably listening to make sure the secretary is going away.
"All clear." Elizabeth's feet step away from the door, and Platy and I wriggle our way out from under the bed.
"That's good news about the cancelled lessons," remarks Platy. "Nicole and Sally will be able to get around without any hassle."
"Yes; I'll see if I can get a message to one of them about placing the bow." Elizabeth stares into the distance for a minute, thinking, before nodding decisively and turning to me. "I'd better get down to the office before they decide I need an armed escort to keep me under control. Will you be okay on your own? It'll be about an hour or so before they have things even remotely ready for the ceremony to start; I'll see if I can arrange for them to ring the bell fifteen minutes before… ostensibly, to call all the students to gather, but it should also serve as a signal to you, to allow you to get into position. The spare key is in the jewellery box."
I nod, and Elizabeth leaves the room. I hear the door lock, and sit on the edge of the bed, thinking.
"I don't think I've heard a bell in all the time that I've been here." Platy says, and taps on my foot.
When I look down, clears her throat significantly. I obey the unspoken command, and lift her up onto the bed. "Now you come to mention it, I don't remember hearing on either. It's handy that there is one though, isn't it?"
"Very convenient." Platy glances around the room, eyes lingering on the fourth wall and the locked door. "So, what are we going to do for the next hour?"
The time passes quickly enough, with muffled conversation and quiet music filling the minutes. We quickly tire of discussing the plan – there is only so many times you can go over the same thing, after all – and start placing bets on which members of staff will turn out to be Sues, and which ones will be transformed fangirls.
"We'll have to open the betting to the others, before the PPC start scanning them all," Platy grins. "I wonder what they'll do with the Sues?"
"I suppose it will depend on if they can trace them back to their original stories or actually put together a list of charges… I'm fairly sure that, if nothing else, being part of this school will warrant some action. I mean, all of the things Sues normally cause in their own stories? The teachers are potentially – let's be honest, almost definitely – spreading that to every future story that any pupil here ever writes. It's a corruption of canon on a major scale."
"I knew I should have brought my poison spurs – this is definitely the big leagues." Anything else Platy was going to say is cut off by a bell ringing. "And to stick to the sports metaphor, Batter up…"
"You go first. Get in position; if you can coordinate with the others without being seen, go for it – but remember, you and I have to stay out of sight until it all kicks off."
"I know the drill, Lizzie." Platy shakes her head at me and climbs down to the floor. "Do you always panic this much?"
"Normally I'm just writing the plans, not leading them; I think a little panic is justified." I grab the spare key and move to the door to listen; it's quiet out in the corridor. "Ready?"
Platy nods; I unlock the door, silently count to three, and then open it.
Platy slips through the gap, and the last I see of her before easing the door shut is her dashing down the corridor, a small brown furry shadow scooting along the edge of the floor. She makes it look easy.
Given it's my turn next, I really hope it is.