----

Title: _Harry Potter and the Horrid Pain of the Artiste_
Author: Mary Sue Whipple
Rating: PG-13
Alternative source: http://www.geocities.com/school_idiot/hp.htm

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and all characters within that
universe belong to J.K. Rowling, and no infringement on my part was
intended. The original text is copyright 2001.

Notes: Slash, but nothing explicit. And this is Yenta Sue. I apologize ahead of time.

----



It was the talk of all the Seventh Years: Defense Against the
Dark Arts had been dropped entirely (no one saw the point
anymore, especially after all the adventure, excitement, and
incredible plot twists of the previous year), and in its place
was a class Dumbledore thought would "prepare the children
for life in the Muggle world, should events conspire against
them, and the movie stink worse than a mermaid market at
high noon."

Being a wizard, however, did not give Dumbledore quite the
Muggle point of view when it came to success in the modern
world: He instituted a creative writing class.

"I've seen a motion picture once or twice," he'd said
soothingly to Professor McGonagall, who was rather
suspiciously against the entire venture; "I've seen what kind
of treatment authors are given: heaps of Muggle money,
hardcovers on all their sales, well-publicized/attended book
signings, and a large villa with a pool, a maid, and several
palm trees."

He'd smiled innocently. "How far could that deviate from the
truth?"

So the Seventh Years discovered that instead of buying
textbooks with strange reddish ink and an unmistakable garlic
smell, they were buying all sorts of Muggle texts like: "How I
Became a Writer", "Writing in Twelve Easy Steps", and "The
Sobering Saga of Myrtle the Manuscript". (No one could
find that last one, which was just as well. It destroyed
illusions faster than a Patronus, only with a great deal less
flash.)

While all this was going on, no one knew that Neville
Longbottom was now related to a Fifth Year. In a prequel yet
to be written, a perky young scamp had been found
wandering the streets of London with no memory and very
little clothing (she claimed the lipstick and extreme
eyeshadow were remnants of a life she couldn't, just
_couldn't_, remember, drat the bad luck) -- she'd then been
adopted by Neville's grandmother for reasons that eluded
_him_, not to mention the entirety of the wizarding
community (with the wild exception of Severus Snape, oddly
enough; but that's prequel territory again).

And so it was that on the Hogwarts Express Harry, Ron, and
Hermione were introduced by Neville Longbottom to his new
kid sister, Mary Sue Cutebottom. Draco Malfoy happened to
be walking past just as Mary Sue was hugging everyone, and
so was embraced as warmly as all the protagonists, which
suggests something about this story. (Malfoy, reading these
words, glanced about the page nervously and left before Ron
said something rude.)

Little did anyone know that a vicious -- yet at the same time
rewarding and at times adorable -- love hexagon had begun,
only to be resolved through several revisions and at least two
sequels.

----

"I just don't see how it is that The Art and The Artiste will
help us 'adjust' to the Muggle world," Hermione muttered to
Harry and Mary Sue, just before the bell rang. It was the first
day of school, and Seventh Year Gryffindor and Slytherin had
morning class together. Neither group had been quite
prepared for what awaited them.

Hermione's face wore a worried frown. "I mean, my family's
_all_ Muggles, and I don't remember _anything_ like this."


The Art and The Artiste was being held in the same room
Defense of the Dark Arts had been, but it didn't look nearly as
well-kept as it had before. Strange piles of paper huddled in
the corners; ripped posters and faded newspaper articles hung
slantwise on the walls; lamps with their shades missing lit the
room with shadows and weak yellow light; books with their
covers missing and their pages dog-eared were stacked on
broken bookcases; half empty inkpots littered desktops;
hundreds of Muggle pens overflowed dirty mugs, all of
which left brown ring stains on whatever they were standing
on. And every inch of available space was covered with little
black stickers, shaped like beer bottles.

Harry poked at one of the stickers with his wand. He heard a
fizzling noise, and suddenly he couldn't help but say, "I know
I should be working on my latest but, hon-hon-_honestly_,
how can I work under these conditions, I ask you? Eh? Eh?
What with that bloody git making at least 2000 pounds more
than me with _every single sale_, and you know he couldn't
put together a complete sentence if his gods-be-damned
_typewriter_ gave him grammar lessons--"

Harry stopped abruptly, as the strange effect of the bottle
stickers wore off. He looked around; he hadn't been the only
one to test out the stickers. Ron was merely mumbling
incoherently between hiccups, but Draco Malfoy, across the
room, was raging quite loudly about critics and their inability
to "find a well-planted plot device if given a torch and a
bloody tourist map." Considering the looks people were
giving Malfoy, Harry felt quite better about his own outburst.

"Well," a scratchy voice called out, "I see you've found the
Inspirations."

Everyone turned to look at the speaker. In the front of the
room, beside one of the larger patches of bottle stickers, they
saw a short woman with brightly dyed hair and a cigarette in
her hand, smoothing her robes and smiling at the few
students still Inspired by a sticker ("--royalties! I'm telling
you, they're cheating me out of my royalties, the packager
scum!--").

"My name's Professor Susan Jimison," the woman said in a
pronounced American accent, "and here's a hint for the
future, kiddos: Wait until the Inspirations flash before you
poke your wands at them -- you'll get more done that way."
Professor Jimison smiled again, took a drag on her cigarette,
then wandered toward the closest pile of papers and pulled
off the top sheet.

No one spoke for some minutes. Finally Hermione raised her
hand, and said, "Professor, I'm sorry. I can't seem to find any
flashing bottl-- Inspirations."

Jimison snorted, muttered "Trash," and crumpled the sheet
she'd been reading. She looked up at Hermione. "Of course
they aren't flashing. It's neither 3 a.m. nor a week before your
deadline. Those are the only times they flash spontaneously."
Jimison stalked past the pile of papers and toward a
bookcase. She snapped her fingers, and dozens of small blue
notebooks appeared on a shelf, displacing the books that had
been there before. A second snap, and the notebooks flew to
the students' desks. "Everyone, I want you put your name on
the cover and then write, ah, two haikus and a three page
essay about your summer holiday. Due tomorrow."

Immediately, Inspirations began flashing, almost too quickly
to tap. After Harry had written his name on the notebook, he
opened the cover to the first blank page. He put quill to
paper... and realized he didn't know what a haiku was. He
raised his hand. "Professor Jimison...?"

She ignored him in favor of pawing through a collection of
literary review magazines.

Mary Sue Cutebottom leaned over to him. "Harry, tap the
flashing Inspirations! They'll help! Look!" She held up her
notebook, showing him an essay labeled, "Cutebottom's
Summer Holiday: Prequel Material".

Harry nodded and looked around his desk for an Inspiration
to tap. He missed twice, and ended up yelling epithets about
ineffective agents for nearly half an hour. Finally he nicked a
flashing sticker, and while the fizzling noise was louder, his
mind was suddenly filled with word choices and plots and
other marvelous things, most of which were completely
useless for his current purposes. Still, he wrote down what
he could, and discovered that haikus were particularly daft
sounding poems, and that his summer holiday consisted
mostly of sexual yearnings.

He didn't like how his essay turned out. It didn't at all sound
like how _he_ remembered his summer holiday, and it
certainly didn't sound like something that should be turned in
to Professor Jimison.

Ron nudged him. "What's your essay about, Harry? Mine
kept going on about inferiority complexes and other rubbish,
in between some good stuff about Quidditch. What about
you?"

Harry looked at his third paragraph. *It wasn't until this
summer that I truly noticed how my feeling were affecting
my judgement. My cousin Dudley's weight problems had
always disturbed me, but his blond hair now reminded me of
the one that I wish I... I wish I could touch, could run my
fingertips through his hair, hair so bright it'd burn... and so it
was that I found myself sharing some Chocolate Frogs with
Dudley. And I still don't feel sorry for doing so, even if he
did try to beat me up for the rest of them.*

Harry swallowed. "Quidditch. Mine's about Quidditch too."

"Oh," said Ron. He shrugged. "Maybe Hermione's got
something embarrassing. Hermione! Write anything weird?"

While Ron and Hermione argued about what constituted
strange or not, Harry thought about his essay, and how he just
couldn't allow anyone else to read it...

"Harry?" Mary Sue whispered.

He jumped, then tried breathing steadily. "What, Mary?" he
whispered back, hoping she wasn't going to ask him about his
essay.

"Harry, are you all right? You're breathing funny."

"Noth-Nothing, Mary. I'm just... nervous about my essay."
He hadn't meant to say so, but Neville's little sister just
seemed to project an air of attentiveness and trust. He didn't
think that anything he told her would be passed on to anyone
else, but he also thought that any advice she gave him would
be well-worth his following. Protective, yet mischievous.
Adorable, yet wise beyond her years. Underage, yet
disturbingly perky.

It was quite an amazing air she had.

"Harry, you shouldn't feel pressured to talk about a subject
that makes you feel uncomfortable," Mary Sue said quietly,
for once a smile not on her lips. "If you--"

"Mary," Harry said abruptly. He looked nervously at the
floor. "I don't suppose you'd, y'know, read my essay before I
hand it in, maybe help me rewrite it if it doesn't... sound...
right?"

"Of course, Harry," Mary Sue said, just as the bell rang for
lunch. "Anything I can do to help."

Harry smiled in relief. "Thanks, Mary," he said. "Good thing
Dumbledore let you join this Seventh Year class; I don't
know what I'd do without you."

Mary Sue Cutebottom giggled appreciatively.

---

After lunch, Mary Sue was making her way to McGonagall's
Fifth Year Transfigurations when a hand roughly pulled her
into a sheltered alcove. Expecting one of her friends from
Gryffindor, or one of her _other_ friends from behind the pub
in Hogsmeade, she let herself be pulled, but the person
dragging her out of sight wasn't Ron or Hermione, and it
certainly wasn't Big Eddie or Hairy Vincenzo the Tireless
Vicar.

It was Draco Malfoy.

"Oh, hallo Draco," she said cheerfully, remembering how
well Malfoy had hugged on the train ride to Hogwarts. "Can
I help you?"

Malfoy pressed her hard against the alcove's stone wall. If it
wasn't for Mary Sue's inexplicable enjoyment of tall, rude,
dangerous young men with posh accents, she'd be worried.
When he spoke, his voice was low and harsh. (As menacing
as it was, Mary Sue rather liked being threatened -- it gave
her fond memories of the prequel.)

"Listen, Mudblood," he said, "I don't like you. I don't like
being cheerfully halloed by you. And I don't like that air of
attentiveness and trust you project, all right?"

Mary Sue's forehead crinkled in thought. "Then why'd you
drag me over here, Draco? I'm going to be late in a moment."
Understanding suddenly flooded in. She looked him in the
eye. "Is there something you... want to talk about?"

Malfoy let go of her arm and turned to lean against the wall
beside her. He rubbed his eyes with one hand. "Why me," he
muttered. "Why now?" He glanced toward Mary Sue. "I
don't know why I stopped you, Mudblood. Except that I
think you could help me."

"If it means hurting any of my friends, Draco, you know I
can't do that."

"Ha. And your friends are, let me think... most of my arch
enemies here at Hogwarts. How utterly convenient.
Weasley, Granger, Potter... ha. Potter _most_ of all... "

Mary Sue looked puzzled again. "Why do you keep _saying_
'ha' instead of, you know, actually laughing?"

"Literary device. And this author's writing style, which tends
to explain a great deal."

"Oh."

"Like I was saying, though, I think I... need... your help."
Malfoy began rubbing his eyes again. "Gods, that's
embarrassing to say. I'm never working with this author
again."

"Draco," Mary Sue said carefully, "this wouldn't have
anything to do with our writing assignments, would it? Your
essay... ?"

"Not the essay, Mudblood," Malfoy said wearily. "The
haikus. Bloody things. I wrote about twenty of them, and all
on topics that... " He leaned his head back and stared up at the
ceiling. "... that I'd rather die than discuss right now, thank
you."

"All right, Draco," Mary Sue said, "I'll help you. I'm going to
be meeting with Harry sometime after dinner, but I'll come by
the Slytherin dungeon afterwards, all right? Fortunately,
Professor Dumbledore told me the passwords to all the house
doors -- this air of attentiveness and trust of mine is damned
convenient at times, let me tell you."

"So I imagine," said Malfoy. The bell rang. "Don't tell
_anyone_ about our conversation, Mudblood." He slipped out
of the alcove, and began running towards Professor Flitwick's
classroom, probably for Seventh Year Charms. Mary Sue
caught a glimpse of fine silver-blond hair and rather shapely
legs before he was out of sight.

"This is getting interesting," Mary Sue murmured, leaving the
alcove for her own class. She waved her wand in
anticipation, and smiled when a heart shaped cloud appeared
briefly in the hallway.

"_Very_ interesting."

----

(cont. in 2/7)