October puts the book down. She feels disgusted, violated, raped even. How did the author know all this. She shivers. She needs a shower to wash all the ick away. She gets up leaving the book, a copy of The Eyre Affair, behind on the sofa.
October Morning pulls her car into a parking place on the third level of the underground car park of the skyscraper in the Docklands where her office resides and locks the car. She sighs deeply and rolls her eyes at herself. She unlocks the car, undoes her seatbelt and gets out of the car. Then she locks the car again. Shaking her head she walks over to the lift which takes her up to the seventeenth floor.
She reaches her office's floor and starts the long walk to her office. The distance is a good ten yards, but she is hesitant about going in. There will be questions about the book and she hasn't got the answers. There will be yelling. October halts before the door. She hears crashing sounds behind the door. She turns around and frowns at the receptionist.
"There was an accident," the woman replies. "I think you need to go in."
"I think I need my coffee break first."
October turns on her heels and heads for the kitchenette. She takes a mug from the cupboard and wants to take one of the coffeepots to pour herself a mug when she is distracted by a note posted over the pots.
'Researchers from the London School of Social Studies have shown that in a situation where there are two coffeepots always taking coffee from the emptiest pot makes for happier coworkers.'
October reads the short article and nods in agreement. Always taking coffee from the emptiest pot means there will never be two empty pots at the same time, under the assumption that people have the common courtesy to take the 30 seconds to set a new pot of coffee when they take the last drops from the pot. Two empty pots is high in the top ten of office aggrevations October notes from her own experiences. A few months ago this same research group showed that the halflife of teaspoons is 81 days. October checks which pot is fullest and pours her mug from the other one.
"Did you put up that note on the coffeepots?" she asks the receptionist.
"I did. I think researchers don't believe anything until it has been scientifically proven."
"That's true." October takes a sip. "You mean to say you made it up?"
"You shouldn't have said. I was willing to believe that there are government funded institutions out there that even do research during their coffee breaks."
Another loud crash from behind the office door. October can see sparks flying through the frosted glass.
"What exactly was that accident they had?"
"You should go in to see."
"You're no help." October puts her coffee mug on the receptionist's desk. "Guard this." She straightens her jacket and opens the door to the office.
The office is of the open-plan type. Rows upon rows of bookcases on one side of it; on the other side smaller offices have been made with the aid of wall components that run all the way up to the ceiling. A flash of light comes from one of these offices on the right, setting one of the bookcases on the opposite side on fire. A man with a powder fire extinguisher jumps forward to put out the fire.
"What's going on here?" October asks him.
"Have a look for yourself." The man nods his head towards the door the flash came from. It's the office where October has her desk.
Carefully she moves towards the door and peaks around the corner. It looks like a warzone in there: all the desks are turned over, what was on them is scattered across the floor. October sees her colleagues hiding behind a few of the desks; behind one of the other desks is an unknown redhead.
"What's going on here?" October shouts.
"October! Ma'am! Come here, quick, but stay down." One of her colleagues motions her.
Hunched over October quickly moves over to him.
"Clarence, what is going on here?" she asks him in a quieter voice as she kneels down beside him.
"There was an accident," the young man replies while cautiously looking over the edge of the desk. "A young wizard came from one of the books, and we ..."
October smacks the back of his head.
"Ow, what did you do that for?" He rubs the back of his head. "Do you think this is my fault?"
"Well, isn't it?"
"Well." The young man looks down at his knees.
"I take it it is then. Clarence, I know you're new here, being a trainee and all, but I'm sure you've already heard it a million times already: DO NOT BRING FICTIONAL CHARACTERS INTO THIS WORLD!"
"I didn't. Not on purpose. He followed me as I was leaving." Clarence whimpers slightly.
"Yeah, well, accidents happen," October allows. She nods in the direction of the red head. "Who is it anyway?"
"One of the Weasley twins."
"Great, a teenager with little respect for authority with magical powers."
"What are we gonna do now?"
"Put a stop to this, and then return him to his book. Joe, you try sneaking up to him from behind while I create a diversion at this end."
Joe nods and starts making his way round all the desk to get behind the young Weasley.
"Right. Weasley?" October shouts. "I want to propose a truce."
"A truce? What've you got to offer that I want?"
October rolls her eyes. "I don't have time for this." She jumps up. "Look here, you little wizarding punk, you don't belong here. It is time you left." She moves forward to the teen.
"Make me," he taunts her.
"Oh, I am so going to make you." I'm an apple tree. I hate my job.
The spark from the wand has hit her right between the eyes. In the middle of the ravages in the office now stands a mansized apple tree. The Weasley stood up, but is now folding with laughter. He doesn't see Joe coming up behind. Joe manages to grab the teen in a full nelson. The teen is unable to point his wand properly and free himself from this hold.
"Let go of me." The boy tries to wrestle away.
"I've got him, October," Joe says to the apple tree. "How about them apples?"
Haha, very funny, cheeky Joe. October tries to move her branches to see if she can smack him with that.
"Now, you first turn that nice lady back to normal," Joe tells the teen.
"You have to let go of me first. I can't point my wand this way."
"Oh, I'll help you point." Joe circles ninety degrees.
Weasley points his wand and turns October back to herself.
"Will you let go of me now?"
The teen has barely finished his sentence nor has Joe told him that is not going to happen, or October has flung herself at them, knocking them both over and breaking the boy's wand.
"You've broken my wand," the teen shouts in horror. The two pieces hanging together by the hair that forms its core.
"Well, Forge," October gets up and dusts herself off, "I'm sure it looks worse than it is."
"The name is George! And you've broken my wand. How am I going to do any magic now?"
"You're not supposed to be doing any magic here."
"I do magic in the book. Or do you think my wand has magically healed by the time I get back into the book?" Joe has renewed his grip on George to restrain him. "I don't think it works that way."
"Which book are you from anyway?" October looks down on the teen disdainfully, not much impressed by him now that he is disarmed and claims he can't do magic without a wand.
"Fifth." George spits the number at her.
"You leave half way through that book anyway," October shrugs.
"At three-quarters, and not after creating a swamp."
"Have your brother create the swamp."
"It's a joint effort."
"Can't you borrow someone else's wand?"
"A wand is a highly personal item." George is shocked at this much ignorance. "You can't just borrow one from someone else."
"I thought your brother Ron had a second hand wand."
"Ron had a second hand pet." Clarence helps out.
"Shut up, Clarence. I was trying to forget you are part of this."
"Now, how are you going to fix my wand?" George demands.
"Someone get this kid some superglue."
"You can't use superglue to put a wand back together," George says disgusted.
"You'd be surprised at the amazing qualities superglue has."
"Not much. My Dad is very interested in all things Muggle. I know about superglue, and it is not much amazing."
"Well, if you want your wand put back together, it will have to do." October beams a smile at him.
Clarence has returned with a little tube of superglue and kindly asks George if he could take his wand. George let's go of it with a deep sigh.
"I will never be able to do magic again," he mutters.
"There, there, now, George," October tries to say in a soothing voice. "It is time you learned that the magic is inside of you and the wand is just a prop to guide it."
George looks up at her. "Oh, please." He rolls his eyes. "You have got to be kidding."
"It's like Dumbo and his magic feather. The little elephant could fly all along; he didn't need the feather, just to flap his ears."
"You are comparing me to an elephant?"
"If the name fits."
"All done." Clarence presents the wand to George.
October quickly grabs it.
"This will be returned to you, when we get you back inside your book. Clarence, where is the book Mr Weasley came from?"
"I've got it here," Clarence replies afted digging through a pile of books.
"Right. Let's go."
October grabs George by his left arm. Joe takes the other arm. Escorted between them he is taken via the fire escape one floor down. A large part of the sixteenth floor is taken up by a laboratory, in the corner of which a machine stands that does not look unlike an airport security gate.
"You remember the Fiction Fence, don't you?" October asks sweetly. "That's how you came in."
George tries to shrug his captors off, but they keep holding on to him.
"Clarence, why don't you go find someone to operate this device?"
Clarence runs off and quickly returns with a man in his fifties who is not ammused at the sight of his visitors.
"This is a place of work, you know," he says. "We can't do any work if you just keep dropping in every time it pleases you."
"Well, seen as it doesn't please us to be here, I think we're all right. This little fellow needs to go home." October lightly shakes George. "Unless you rather have we just leave him here? We've got his wand fixed, so that'll be fun."
The man sighs. "I'll start up the machine. Do you have the book?"
Clarence gives it to him. "I was watching a Quidditch match."
"Sure you were," the man replies. "Can I insert him just anywere, or does he need to be in a specific place?"
"Best to put him where he came from," October says. "Clarence?"
"Yes, ma'am." Clarence takes the book and starts paging through it till he finds the passage he was last. "Here it is."
"Very well." The man clamps the book down to the console so that its pages can't flip over. "I can put the book marker anywhere on this page?"
"Yes, sir," Clarence answers demurely.
The man closes a lid over the book. "You have to wait a moment for the machine to warm up."
"You could let go of me now," George says. "I promis I won't run away."
"I'm not going to put that theory to the test," October replies.
"You still have my wand. I won't leave a place where my wand is."
"Good point. Still not letting go of you, though."
"Ready." The lab researcher punches a few keys and a doorway opens. Through the gate of the Fiction Fence now part of another world is visible.
"What are we looking at?" October asks.
"We're underneath the stands at the Quidditch field," Clarence replies.
"What were you doing underneath the stands?" October asks with a grin that turns Clarence red.
"Nothing. I just thought I'd get a quiet place for the Fence to open up."
"Well, Mr Weasley, there you go."
October and Joe escort George upto the Fence and push him through. George stumbles into his own world.
"Nah don't come back nah ya hear."
"My wand." George holds up his hand demandingly.
"Oh, yes. Go fetch." October throws the wand in.
The Fiction Fence closes on George making a rude hand gesture to October and October waving him cheerfully goodbye.
"Clarence, get your book. X, thank you very much for helping us out again. We'll try not to use your machine anymore for our personal entertainment, will we, Clarence?"
"No, ma'am, sir."
"Get back up stairs, Clarence. Start cleaning up the office."
October stands in the doorway overlooking the ravages George's short visit have caused. Joe and Clarence turn a desk back onto its feet.
Both from the tone and the time of day October can tell this is not a greeting. She sighs. I haven't even had my morning coffee yet. She turns and walks into her super's office. She closes the door behind her so that in case there will be shouting, and there will be shouting, she is sure of that, she will be taking the brunt of it. She's the senior officer. She's responsible for Clarence's actions. Even if he doesn't ask her permission for them.
A/N: notes to this story can be found in my forum.