Done fof the HPFC's "The things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts" challenge. Nothing is mine except for Mary. And even she is partly borrowed by those who've come before me...

A warning to all readers: Please do not take this fanfiction seriously as even the writer herself could not. Cheers.

The Path to Awesomeness

Step One: Make a Killer First Impression

For this purposefully unidentified year, a transfer student was brought in to sort of...liven up Hogwarts in all its stuffy British Polly-poof glory. Only...no one knew that at the time.

Oh no on the contrary, most were convinced she was here to simply learn and to be taught like any other good student. Only later did they realize the uncomfortable horrors this girl would soon release.

Looking back, Albus Dumbledore would always cling to the weather being off or his spectacles being dirty the day he first introduced himself to her. He just didn't see Trouble when it flashed its 'I HEART ZOMBIES' t-shirt and stone-washed bellbottom jeans.

Or when its cell phone's unusually loud ringtone turned out to be 'Amish Paradise'.

This new student was just some random girl on tour in London, who happened to demonstrate a bit of magic at the wrong place and the wrong time. Attempted to be discreet in a crowded café, as if that ever worked.

Little did she know the Wizarding World's Greatest was sitting a few tables over, absently finding out how many sherbet lemons he could fit into his mouth at one time.

It intrigued Albus to see her skills, especially since she risked so much for such a silly thing. More mini marshmallows; her cocoa apparently wasn't complete without them (although already brimming over with a generous portion). She had stared and stared at the source of her sugary goodness and wrinkled her nose, then at the last moment when Albus thought for sure she meant to relieve herself, the girl cocked her eyebrow in a funny sort of 'I used to be a mad scientist; now I just have Parkinson's' kind of way...and suddenly the bag appeared at her side.

He was astonished. She looked blankly at her treasure and then ate a handful of marshmallows without noticing anything was wrong.

Curiously, at that very moment Albus saw something of himself in her. This girl would be a student of his if he had any say in it at all. Which he did. It was good to be Headmaster.

A boasting privilege for almost three whole days, in the beginning the old wizard would sit back and brag he just sensed something important would happen the day he found poor Mary lost in her world of muggles. It was all his fau—er, credit that this girl came to Hogwarts at all.

Truly, at first Mary was amazing. She didn't even realize she was a witch! She laughed her ass off when Albus explained. If he remembered correctly, instead of trusting him outright as originally planned she called him a senile old loon and flipped him off.

He smiled fondly at the memory.

"Listen Santa, I think you should recheck your meds. The only magical thing in my life happens to be caffeine, which I already have plenty of, thanks."

"My dear," Albus graciously plowed past this new nickname, "how else would you explain that silent accio charm?"

"....I finally mastered the Force?"

Well, truthfully the old wizard had doubted what he'd seen at first too, almost missing it completely had he not glanced over to check the clock right behind the girl's highchair.

As it was she used no wand at all, a funky lavender octopus keychain taking its place. Mary clutched it as she stink-eyed the waitress whose man-hands held hostage her marshmallow prize. Again, looking back Albus tried to convince himself she simply transfigured her wand into an inconspicuous ... cartoony mollusk (?)...but after a while her company proved this was not the case....

Hmm...

So anyway, here the story goes back to when this girl first transferred to Hogwarts against her better judgment, standing awkwardly tall among the group of first years at the Sorting. She of course was far from being a first year – past eighteen, though this was never fully disclosed – but traditions were traditions.

And until she could rile up the place a bit the girl was willing to humor most of them.

"Suevoumonteasey, Mary!" Professor McGonagall yelled above the crowd, adjusting her square glasses when the tall well-developed American stepped forward. Obviously Minerva hadn't been told this would be no eleven year old.

"Er, uh...just sit right there young la – uh, sure."

Mary squashed onto the stool and huffed cynically to herself, taking in all the gawking faces around the Hall. This year would be quite different she concluded with disappointment. Not a fun looking stooge in the whole bunch. Just how was she to cope with this inhospitable dork-a-thon ? How would she find enjoyment in beating up straight-laced tea bags and pansy-boys?

And how exactly would she manage with boring minions? She couldn't handle the thought!

But, at least Santa seemed pleased with this arrangement. She'd ask him for a bicycle later on.

Mary sighed and looked back at McGonagall – who had somewhere in this time forgotten she was still holding the crux of this event. A blush or two later, the old lady snapped into action.

As soon as the hat touched Mary's head it rang with disgust.

"Oh just lovely.

"I, the last surviving influence of Gryffindor himself, outlive the ages collecting dust at the bottom of a hat box and for what? So some greenhorn foreigner can dirty up my brim with her –" it sniffed deeply, like any hat would do, "– cheap American shampoo and leave-in conditioner!?

"Eh, put the American in....I don't care...Hufflepuff or what have you. Bloody Americans, always ruining our good time..."

"Hey, – question."

"What?" The hat's gruff wheeze sounded vaguely surprised, "...Yes?"

"Say I don't like Hufflepuff. What's your return policy?"

"....We don't have one."

"I mean, okay Hufflepuff." Mary shrugged without concern, "Sounds good in theory I guess, I might make a few lackeys or something. They are a soft sort of breed.

"But what if I suddenly find myself wanting to try on a new tie? Switch robe colors? Live somewhere besides a freakin' Hobbit Hole?

"Am I always to be confined to this House or can I elect to trade if dissatisfied?"

For several seconds the hat was speechless. Then at last it spoke.

"Bloody Americans."

"Sure, sure. But what of my House?" She remained impassive, frowning slightly.

"PICK ANYONE YOU WISH, YOU FILTHY WHINER!"

"...I choose you, Pikachu?"

"SLYTHERIN. NEXT."

Mary frowned again.

Not about getting nowhere with the hat, I mean – who really cared what a crinkly old hat thought anyway? No, she frowned because she had only just realized why this seemed familiar to her. Why – since the moment she managed to conjure those mini marshmallows – she'd been having the damnedest déjà vu:

She'd been here before.

Okay, frankly that was impossible. The one rational strand in her mind was squeaking its disapproval at this very thought. Before Santa found her in the café she was nothing more than muggle, if that. She hadn't physically been inside Hogwarts before tonight.

No...it was almost as if she'd...read all this in a book or something.

But for her to read (well, read something besides the Skeptical Inquirer at least), was as rare as a unicorn dipped in chocolate sauce. Sprinkled with crushed nuts – no, toffee chips. Or those chocolate minty things she absolutely adored. Ohh – peanut butter chips. Forget the mints; yes, it was settled. Peanut butter chips.

Or perhaps a blend. This was just too hard.

There would definitely be whipped cream and a cherry somewhere in the mix, mini marshmallows...

Gah.

Now not only did Mary feel she knew this place like the back of her hand (to her surprise she later tested this theory and was taken aback at how unfamiliar the back of her hand actually looked, but that's a tangent we won't go on just now) but her stomach growled something fierce. Everything really was too familiar for comfort.

She frowned again just in time to lock eyes with a boy in the crowd. One...with a wicked awesome tattoo on his brow! She squinted from her perch on the stool, ignoring the fact that not too far behind her an eleven year old was now weeping over his Sorting's delay.

From here that tattoo almost looked like...like...some sort of staircase! Maybe it was a metaphor or something. The Staircase to Pimples... Didn't that just sound deeply metaphorical? Probably not. Actually it sounded like a really funky Hardy Boys episode where Frank might discuss the aches of adolescence.

Mary shrugged and jumped off just before McGonagall could threaten House Points.

Disregarding the order of things, Mary moseyed her way from the Great Hall without staying for the meal, hands stuffed in jean pockets (after taking off those God-awful robes of course. Layering really did help in a pinch) and having nowhere to go. This all just seemed too familiar, she had to investigate.

She figured the floating candelabra were simply a trick of the mind, and the old guy she still referred to as 'Santa'...some inside joke gone terribly wrong. How badly she longed to pull that fake beard off and point and laugh.

And not far from Santa's left she couldn't help notice a little elf fellow, who overcompensated his stunning lack of height with an equally stunning lack of fashion sense. Damn thing looked like a beaver in a suit. Usually midgets freaked her out but all she wanted to do was make him sing songs of Oz and hold a lollipop.

Great fun this place.

But none of this prepared Mary for what was to come, as she stared mouth agape at several moving portraits in the corridor. They definitely presented a challenge to her semi-sane mind.

Little people – actual little people (not just Mr. Beaver) – stared up at her from the canvas! And holy hell one of them spoke. Then another. And another. It was a growing trend, just like herpes.

Each and every one of them seemed......almost alive...

Freakin'...sweet.

It was so curiously satanic that the girl lost herself in uncovering its secret and for several seconds could do nothing but experiment.

"I say, girl, I SAYdo stop that incessant POKING. Some of us more civilized members of society consider it rude." said a squat little knight over folded arms and armored beer-belly.

"Hmph. Kids these days and their abhorring manners."

For several seconds Mary remained silent and unmoving.

Then in a sadistic flash, the sharp swish of a knife was heard over the din of painted screams.

"Sweet..."

"Students are to remain in the Great Hall until dismissed," A dangerously low voice interrupted from behind, making the girl curse and withdraw her blade.

Mary turned and found herself staring at the Adam's apple of a rather greasy looking...well, git, whatever that meant. Funny how the word just came to her like that.

She frowned and looked up a few more inches until her eyes roughly met his. Couldn't help but notice his mouth, which when he wasn't yelling, was affixed into a god-ugly sneer. One just knew by looking at that thick frown the yellow teeth beneath were in a poor state.

She shook her head sadly. But tips on dental hygiene would have to wait.

He looked sour and bitter and oddly satisfied at what he'd just done. He also needed a good bath as far as she could tell.

"Ten points from...what was it again? Hufflepuff?"

"Dude I don't care," Mary snorted suddenly as she shrugged into a more relaxed stance. It felt better to let down her shoulders, which had crept up and bowed forward into the standard evil 'no-neck' pose sometime beforehand.

Her voice became distorted with parody, "Take my points if you must; strike me down while you can. But I shall have the fat one for my own! MWHAHAHAHA..."

She suggested with a wave of her hand the beer-gut tin man who had given his opinion earlier. He shivered and hid behind a rock in his painting.

Snape sneered and drew himself to his full height.

"You will address me in the proper manner and speak with respect. Ten more points from Hufflepuff."

"Why so serious?" Her twisted reply and half-spirit fingers taunted. Her tongue was threatening to stick out at any moment.

The glow of Snape's last victory died abruptly with the girl's insubordination.

"Ten more from Hufflepuff!"

Mary laughed, unaffected.

"Man, I should tell you – I'm not even a Hufflepuff."

For a moment Snape looked genuinely befuddled. Then sick realization seeped in and his features told the tale of a man learning for the first time that his death would be slow and painful. She was a Slytherin. She was in his House.

Merlin help him.

"...Back," He couldn't quite will himself out of the shock, making his voice fall quite toneless and flat, "to the Great Hall with you. Leave my sight."

The girl frowned with disappointment.

"But...the fat one has insulted my honor. For that he shall die..."

She made several uncertain pouty noises and held out her knife with longing, only to be waved away by Snape.

"Leave."

Mary sighed heavily, defeated. Her knife was slipped back into the pocket of her jeans and, with folded arms, she gave one more fruitless pout before turning back toward the Great Hall.

"I'll be back for you later, Tin Man." She whispered darkly much to the portrait's chagrin. Her lopsided maniacal sneer caused little painted sweat drops to form on his brow. Mary made the universal sign of death with a finger swipe across her neck. "Shhhhkkk."

She was just about to the doors when Snape once again stopped her.

"You will wear your student robes at all times," he indicated warningly to the pile of forsaken wool near the wall, "Miss...Su....Suzu...."

"–Suevousmonteasey."

"Yes, that."

Mary rolled her eyes and sighed with fervor. She threw her arms into the air with great theatre-common finesse.

"TCH, FINE. I'll wear the schoolgirl outfit! But I absolutely refuse to roll my skirt past my upper thigh, no matter how much you beg."

And with that she nabbed the heap of robes and ducked inside the Great Hall, leaving a flustered and very dour-faced Snape alone to fester in his thoughts of murder and who knows what else.