Protectors of the Plot Continuum

Mary Sue Division

From the Files of Polaris and Aria

Aria skipped down a corridor at Headquarters, whistling the Star Wars theme song to herself. Today was her day. Today was the day she would finally get a partner, and all those solo missions would end. The last one had been particularly a disaster, what with that dragon, and Voldemort stealing her wand, and Hermione's hair-straightener … Aria shuddered and skipped a bit harder to ward away the disturbing memories.

Reflecting back on previous missions did have an advantage. Within Headquarters, if you bothered to pay attention to where you were going, it could take up to nine days, on record, to get there. Because Aria was thinking about Hermione going ballistic with a curling iron, she got to her destination in less than five minutes.

Stopping in front of a blank bit of gray wall, Aria started whistling the Star Wars theme louder, and considerably off-tune. Almost immediately a door outlined itself in the wall and swung open. Giving the door a nod of thanks, Aria entered the office of the Director of Personnel.

The director itself, a daisy called the Marquis de Sod, was sitting in its pot at a desk in the middle of the office. Must you always sing that infernal song? it asked irritably.

"It's common knowledge that singing gets your attention faster," Aria told it cheerfully.

Yes, but that of all songs, the daisy lamented.

"My partner?" Aria reminded it.

Ah yes. The director seemed all too happy to end a debate on the merits of singing. She should be here ten minutes ago.

"That's helpful," Aria muttered. "You mean she should have been here ten minutes ago?"

Essentially.

"Open the door!" someone yelled.

That would be her, the director observed, and the door swung open.

Aria blinked at the girl in the doorway. Her first thought was that her new partner seemed awfully short. Her second thought was a mental note to never wear a purple vest over a green shirt, especially not with black slacks and boots.

Apparently this girl didn't think much of Aria's fashion sense either. "Fuzzy pink slippers?" were the first words out of her mouth.

Glancing down at the fluffy things covering her feet, Aria asked, "What's wrong with them?"

Sarcastically raised eyebrows were the only reply.

Agent Aria, the daisy put in nervously, this is your new partner, Polaris.

"Nice to meet you," Aria said automatically.

Polaris grinned back. "You too!" She seemed to actually mean this, which was surprising considering they'd been on the edge of an argument over slippers. Or perhaps it wasn't surprising. When you worked for the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, chances were you would eventually go crazy.

And now that you two have met, the director said, a slight note of panic edging its mental voice, I'll leave you to get better acquainted! The door slammed shut behind them, not bothering to take into account they had been in the center of the office moments before.

Polaris glowered at the door. "I hate it when they do that."

"It is annoying," Aria agreed, starting off down the corridor. "So. I take it you're not a new recruit. You don't seem very put off by talking to a daisy."

"No, I used to work for intelligence, but, er," Polaris coughed embarrassedly, "they decided I should transfer, and the Department of Mary Sues is understaffed."

"I'll say it is. Everyone's working double-time, and most in the Lord of the Rings continuum. The worst Mary Sues are always there. We have a trickier job, because there are almost as many Mary Sues in the Harry Potter continuum, but they are easier at blending. No one knows exactly why. I have to warn you, though, things are so bad we might have to work in Improbable Crossovers sometimes, or – have you read Lord of the Rings?"

"Yes," Polaris replied. "Do you always talk this fast?"

"Mmm?" Aria said vaguely. "Anyway, that's good, because there's always the chance we might be put on emergency Lord of the Rings duty. Ah, here we are." She gestured Polaris into a small office, the walls of which might once have been white, but were now covered with so many colorful posters it was hard to be sure.

"How … nice," Polaris said insincerely, sitting down on a beanbag chair.

The Harry Potter movie soundtrack began to blast around them. Aria leapt to the computer console at one end of the room and banged her head against the screen for a minute. The music stopped abruptly, and Aria stepped back from it, eyes slightly crossed. "Sorry about that. Only way to make it shut up."

"Maybe if you banged you head hard enough, you'd shut up," Polaris muttered.

"Sorry, didn't quite catch that," Aria continued cheerfully. "I figured music was better than that awful beeping noise it's usually set to. Anyway, that's the warning for our first mission. Take a look at the Words before you go." She glanced at them, winced briefly, and continued, "It's not that painful. This is a good first mission. Anyway, bring some things to entertain yourself with for a few days. We'll be going to Diagon Alley." She punched a few buttons on the console and a portal opened next to it. "Have any weapons? We're going to assassinate the Mary Sue, you know."

Polaris smiled wickedly and held up two knives and a sword.

"That won't do at all," Aria said, then thought a moment. "Actually, it'll do excellently, but as long as we're going to Diagon Alley, we may as well stop off at Ollivander's and get you a wand."

Polaris nodded, made a face at Aria's back as her partner stepped through the portal, then followed.

The portal, which had set their disguise in order to let them blend with the Harry Potter continuum, had them looking like Weasley-ish eleven-year-olds. This was all quite well and good, but Diagon Alley itself wasn't cooperating as nicely. It was looking vague. In fact, it looked like someone had started to sketch it, given up halfway through, and left the picture outside in the rain. Aria snorted in disgust. "Figures. Only a brief mention that the setting is Diagon Alley, and we get this place."

"Does that mean I can't get a wand?" Polaris asked in consternation, looking as though an answer would bring about the end of the world.

"Not on this mission," Aria replied. "Actually, we might as well just have Makes-Things get you one. It'd be much easier."

"All right." Apparently much cheered by this solution, Polaris wandered off through the sketchy Alley.

"Hey, don't go anywhere!" Aria jumped in front of her. "You haven't read the manual, you don't have you CAD, and weren't you listening when I told you to bring –"

"Cad?"

"CAD, Character Analysis Device. Very convenient thing, tells you how out of character your canon characters are. They used to have a separate detector for non-canon characters, to gauge if they're Mary Sues or not, but Makes-Things was good enough to incorporate the two detectors. Like I said, very convenient." Aria dug around in the book bag she was conveniently carrying. "Here, this is the manual –" and she handed Polaris a thick paperback book " – this is your CAD – " handing over a small handheld computer-ish device " – this is a sandwich for later – " said sandwich passed " – and this is a bag to put them in," she finished, pulling another book bag out of her own.

Looking overwhelmed, Polaris stuffed the book, CAD, and sandwich in the bag, then slung it over her shoulder. "Er … thanks?"

"By the way," Aria said, "know any card games?"

"What?"

"She'll be arriving around now," Aria continued, pulled out her CAD, and skipped off down the sketchy Alley. With a shrug, Polaris skipped off after her, and crashed abruptly into Aria's outstretched arm.

"Shhh," her partner hissed. "You don't want to attract the Sue's attention." She glanced at the CAD as Polaris pulled it out of her bag. "And you might want to set that thing on 'mute'."

Through the brick archway leading into Diagon Alley, which seemed to be the only reasonably well-defined thing in the place, tumbled an auburn-haired girl of about thirteen, bringing a large quantity of ash with her.

George Weasley appeared out of nowhere and caught her.

Polaris glanced at Aria in horror. "Since when can the entrance to Diagon Alley also be used as a Floo powder route?"

"Since right now," Aria replied, and pointed the CAD at the girl.

[Ellenora Bethany Zarnee. Human female. Non-canon. Mary Sue.]

"Amazing," Aria murmured. "The CAD hasn't gone bonkers." She looked at Polaris in relief. "This one isn't too bad." She grabbed Polaris's hand. "Here, take a look at George."

Jerking her hand out of Aria's grip, Polaris turned again to the scene before her. Ellenora's eyes were busy saying, "Your name should be Campbell, 'cuz you are mm.mm. good."

Polaris gave Aria a haunted look. "CAMPBELL?!"

"I know," Aria agreed. "It just got worse."

"That was her eyes speaking!" Polaris said hysterically. "Why by all the gods can we hear her eyes?!"

"Their words were in double quotations; therefore they were spoken aloud," Aria said reasonably. "Now, let's see what the CAD has to say about George."

With considerable misgiving, Polaris pointed the device at George. It read [George Weasley. Human male. Canon. Out of character 48.6%]

"How bad is forty-eight-point-six percent?"

"Better than it could be," Aria replied unhelpfully. "Watch for falling Weasleys."

Fred, Mrs. Weasley, Percy, Ron, and Ginny all biped into existence, looked momentarily confused, and then started very random conversations with each other. "Oy! George, quit flirting! Mum says we've got shopping to do!" Fred called.

The words WHO'S THAT? became visible on Ellenora's face. Aria and Polaris winced. "This," Polaris muttered, "is really, really disturbing."

"This," Aria said cautiously, "is an easy mission."

Polaris winced again. "I really don't like it here."

"If you don't mind my saying, why exactly are you in the PPC if things like this are disturbing you?"

"Search me." Polaris leapt to her feet. "So! When do we get to kill that annoyance?"

Aria blinked at her partner, reflecting on the wisdom and truth of the rumor that some homicidal maniac must be the one to pair all partners at the PPC. There was absolutely no other way to explain how everyone ended up with someone their exact opposite. Toying with the hope that maybe she'd find something in common with Polaris once they were back at Headquarters, Aria dismissed the idea. After all, they would probably be at Headquarters for two minutes, if they were lucky, before being handed their next assignment.

"We don't get to kill her yet," Aria finally told Polaris. "What we do first is teleport to the Burrow, which will be better defined, and sleep there for the night. In the morning, read the Words and the manual. I'll re-read the Words, so we can figure out where she officially disrupts canon. Then we kill her."

"Can I slit her throat?"

Feeling slightly queasy, Aria croaked, "Sure."

"Tell me," Polaris added, "since you seem to so love the idea of killing people, why are you in the Mary Sue department?"

"Because they gave me a trial mission, and it involved Remus Lupin and some blonde slut." Aria gave Polaris a dark glower. "Needless to say, I am not always willing to let things live."

"I won't ask."

"Smart girl," Aria said, her expression returning to relative cheerfulness. "Now let's go to the Burrow, shall we?"

"Half a moment." Polaris gestured towards a rather generic-looking mother-figure now being enthusiastically greeted by Weasleys. Shuffling through her pack, Polaris pulled out her CAD and was ready to point it at the woman when Aria grabbed her hand.

"Is that thing on mute?"

"No, don't think so," Polaris replied, looking suddenly very worried. "Will something awful happen to it?"

"It might make a beeping noise," Aria said, flicking a switch on the side of the CAD. "There, should be safe now. We don't want to attract the Sue's attention."

"We don't?" Polaris said, feigning surprise, and pointed the CAD at the woman. [Aunt Judith. Human female. Non-canon. Bit character.] read the device. "Bit character?"

"Bit character means she's not very important but we have to kill her too," Aria said a bit impatiently. "For the love of all that is good, just read the manual!"

"All right, all right. I'm supposed to read it at the Burrow, remember?"

"Right." Aria pulled another electronic-looking gadget out of her bag. "This is the teleportation-thingy. It'll teleport us to the Burrow." She opened a portal and stepped through.

Polaris rolled her eyes. "Teleportation-thingy. How very helpful."

"Come on! We've got all day, but I'm still in a hurry!" Aria's voice called faintly from through the portal. Rolling her eyes again, Polaris stepped through.

That evening found them lying on a faintly grassy greenness at the edge of the Weasleys' Quidditch field. Aria was lying in a plaid sleeping bag, staring vaguely into the middle distance. Polaris, sitting on top of her own black sleeping bag, looked up from reading the manual. "What're you doing?"

"Mmm?" Aria said. "Oh. I'm reading the Words."

"Why?" Polaris shuddered. "They're awful."

"I know. But I have to find out where this Ellenora Sue officially breaks canon, and it doesn't hurt to hate the story. It makes it considerably less painful to kill the Sue." Aria yawned. "Just wait. In a few chapters everything becomes one giant paragraph, so we're going to be a little squished. Enjoy the open space while you can."

"Oh, that's comforting," Polaris muttered, and went back to the manual. About ten minutes later, she leapt up and hugged Aria enthusiastically. "Yes! We get to charge her!"

Aria blinked. "Yes. What's so wonderful?"

"We can tell her every single thing she did wrong! And rub it in! And not give her any sappy last words! Yes! Yes!"

Pulling away slowly, so as not to frighten Polaris, Aria moved her sleeping bag a little farther away, muttered something about how the world was so cruel to her, and began to read more Words.

"Don't we have to watch her a bit to get charges?"

"YES," Aria snapped. "Now would you just let me … oh, that's terrible."

"What's terrible?"

"I skipped the first chapter," Aria explained, "because it was just idiotic background on our dear Sue. I just saw a bit of it, though, so listen to the horror – 'Her favorite part, though, was the Hogwarts motto, Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titilandus which means: The Dragon Sleeps While We Have Fun.' Last time I checked, it meant Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon. Am I right?"

"You're right," Polaris agreed gloomily. "This is awful." She brightened suddenly. "On the other hand, we now have a charge for her! Screwing up the Hogwarts motto!"

"We'll need more than that," Aria replied. "However, since nighttime seems slow in coming, I suggest we go inside to collect more charges."

"I don't think we can do that," Polaris told her. "Look here." She lifted the manual. "Page 320, paragraph four – 'Unlike canon characters, Mary Sues can see PPC agents. Because of this, it is essential to stay out of eyesight and earshot of all Mary Sues.' See?"

"And that," Aria said smugly, rummaging around in her book bag, "is the beauty of this continuum. Invisibility Cloaks are perfectly canon." She pulled two out with a flourish.

"Oooh," Polaris said enthusiastically, grabbing one. "Preeety."

Aria gave her a sidelong look. "Oy. Just put it on." Giving action to words, she threw on her own cloak and set off towards the Burrow, which was only slightly less sketchy than Diagon Alley had been. Still grinning over her own cloak, Polaris followed.

They arrived in the Weasleys' kitchen in time to see George come in with the Mary Sue and say in a sports-announcer voice, "May I now present.Ellenora Bethany Zaaaaaaaaaaarneeeeeeeeeeeee!"

"Bad grammar, check," Polaris muttered.

Aria winced and pointed her CAD at George. [George Weasley. Human male. Canon. 83.7% CHARACTER RUPTURE!] "This is getting really bad." As though determined to prove her right, George now stepped in front of the Sue and said to Percy, "You'll have to get through me to get to her!" in that same dramatic voice as before.

The CAD now read [George Weasley. Human male. Canononcanonanononcanon lalalaaalong timeagoinagalaxyfarfaraway] "Wonderful," Polaris hissed. "Just perfect."

The two assassins averted their eyes as Fred and George both defended the Sue against Percy (who was remarkably still only 17% out of character). Then George picked up the giggling Ellenora and proceeded to give her a piggyback ride as Mrs. Weasley and the bit character, Aunt Judith, whispered to each other.

Ellenora looked at George gravely, quite a feat while still being on top of him piggyback. "Do you think they're plotting our murders or maybe they're arguing about which one of us would make a better hostage?" she whispered loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

"Murder, dear girl, murder," Polaris whispered. Aria elbowed her sharply.

Meanwhile, the canon characters were busy thinking Ellenora's mediocre acting was hilarious. Ron nearly choked on his toast. Ginny giggled at Ron. George took her hands and, because those hands weren't specified, ended up holding Ginny's hands and saying fervently, "They can take me my dear, Ellenora!"

Ginny's milk almost came out of her nose. The Sue looked pleased, evidently thinking Ginny thought she was funny, but it was fairly obvious to the two assassins that George addressing her as Ellenora amused Ginny.

Out of morbid curiosity, Aria pointed the CAD at Ginny. [Ginny Weasley. Human female. Canon. Out of character 28%] Aria stared at the reading. Ginny was usually much less resistant to Mary Sues.

This particular Sue had her arms wrapped tightly around George and said in fake tears, "I won't let them darling. I'll never let them take you!" Everybody at the table broke into joyous applause.

"George, dear, maybe you should let go now," Mrs. Weasley said randomly, looking as though she was on the verge of laughter.

"Bad acting, check," Polaris said to Aria.

"Major character rupture, check," Aria said back. "Let's leave before I hurl."

"No problem." Polaris glanced back at the kitchen as they made for the door. "Hey, George has the hots for an eleven-year-old who looks his age. And he's looking sort of melted around the edges. Is this normal?"

"Our Ellenora has made him love her, and he's currently melting at her touch," Aria replied absently. "This is why I want to leave now."

"Right," Polaris nodded, and took one last look at the kitchen. "Say, I think the twins regained some of their character. Is her hair supposed to be purple?"

"Wake up!" Someone whacked Aria repeatedly in the stomach. She sat up.

"Awake, awake." She peered blearily at Polaris for a moment before remembering that the girl was her new partner. "Ah. Lo, Polaris. What is it?"

"Too squished to sleep," Polaris explained.

"The paragraph-a-chapter-long has started. Don't worry, it'll go away sometime tomorrow morning."

"That's a relief," Polaris said sarcastically. "And what do we do in the meantime?"

"Sleep."

"I'm not tired. It's too squished." Polaris looked up at the Burrow. "And everyone's still awake. Maybe we can get more charges?"

Aria gave her a sleepy glare. "Oh, all right."

The two donned their Invisibility Cloaks again and crept up to the Burrow's kitchen. Apparently all action in the Weasley home happened in the kitchen. At the moment, the action consisted of Ellenora tromping down the stairs and George noticing that, somehow, she could seem to be floating even when she was hobbling/jumping down the stairs.

Polaris winced again. "I wish we didn't have to see the bad sentence structure."

Eying the Sue as she floated downwards in a hobbling manner, Aria observed, "It's rather like dropping a balloon down stairs. It bounces, but it's sort of floaty." Seeing the look Polaris directed at her, Aria amended, "But humans shouldn't be able to do that, so we can add that to the charge list."

"All right then," Polaris agreed, and watched the balloon-like Sue with interest.

"Don't just stare you two.Go help her!" Percy, still a remarkable 17% out of character, barked at the twins. Their eyes got round as they edged slowly away from their irritable brother.

"I thought eyes only got that round in cartoons," Aria observed.

"And why are they so afraid of Percy?" Polaris lamented. "They're never afraid of Percy!"

"Character rupture," Aria reminded her.

The twins, for once in their life, heeded their brother's words and walked up the stairs to greet the Sue. They stood on the second step under her and offered their shoulders.

"Amazing," Polaris murmured. "Contortionists."

Slinging an arm around each of the twin's shoulders, the Sue was carried down the steps in style. She laughed and started to sing joyfully. Apparently she was singing vowels arranged into a beautiful melody, but Aria eyed the Burrow's windows with apprehension and Polaris curled into the fetal position, whimpering. Realizing her partner wouldn't be much use while traumatized, Aria grabbed Polaris and helped her out of the house.

"That was vile," Polaris moaned when she could once again speak coherent words. "Can we please kill her now?"

"No," Aria said. "And do you know what's worse? The Weasleys liked her 'singing'."

"Uggh," was Polaris's reply.

"This is getting very bad," Aria admitted. "I'll look over the Words again and see if I can't find an ideal time to kill her. You can …" She glanced down at her partner. Polaris looked faintly green. "You lie down a while, okay?"

"Sure," Polaris muttered, and crawled into her sleeping bag. Shaking her head, Aria returned to the Words.

The next morning, Aria was very cheerful. Polaris, who didn't appear to be a morning person, wasn't speaking to her partner, and Aria was getting impatient. It seemed to be just her luck she not only got a partner who was absolutely insane, but said partner wouldn't even ask her why she was acting so smug. Finally Aria commented, "We're going to King's Cross today."

Polaris leapt to her feet. "Really? Wow! I always wanted to run through the barrier at the station! This'll be so fun!"

She sounded so overly excited that Aria couldn't be sure whether she was genuinely pleased or being extremely sarcastic, though she suspected it was the latter. Pretending it was the former (after all, ignorance is bliss), Aria said briskly, "Excellent. Store your sleeping bag in a plot hole and I'll teleport us to the station."

Polaris did so, still looking rather too excited, and turned back to Aria, who was fidgeting and hadn't yet opened a portal. "Yes?"

"Well … the thing is …" Aria coughed nervously. "You realize that everything won't go back to canon once our Sue is gone, because there's still her Aunt Judith to take care of, and …"

Polaris frowned. "And?"

"Do me a favor, will you? Next mission, read the Words. It'll make everything much easier." Aria rubbed her forehead. "The Sue has a cat."

"And?" Polaris said again.

"It's non-canon," Aria explained rather miserably. "In other words, canon won't realign itself until we get rid of it."

Polaris's expression shifted rapidly from overly happy to utterly horrified. "We have to kill a cat?"

"We have to uproot the Sunflower Official," Aria corrected through gritted teeth.

"Sunflower Official?" Polaris repeated, momentarily thrown.

"Head of the Mary Sue division," Aria explained. "In other words, the one who wants all non-canon things out of the way, including poor innocent cats."

"Let's deal with the cat last," Polaris suggested. "Can we kill Aunt Judith now?"

As with the last time Polaris had mentioned killing, her partner turned faintly green and nodded. "You go right ahead."

"And what will you do, while I'm killing Aunt Judith?"

"Well, use your teleportation-thingy to –"

"Oh yes, my teleportation-thingy." Polaris smiled falsely. "I've had it for some years now. It's my constant companion. I know exactly how it works. I simply love my teleportation-thingy, but sadly enough, it's non-existent."

Aria blinked. "Point taken. When we get back to Headquarters, I'm dropping you off with Makes-Things so you can get a wand and teleportation-thingy and any other little gadgets you might want or need, and then I'm having words with the Sunflower Official." She paused. "And the Director of Personnel."

"Shall we discuss this for another few hours, or get back to the mission on hand?"

Aria straightened. "Right. Mission. Since you don't have a teleportation-thingy, I'll lend you mine."

"And I know exactly how to work it."

Giving her partner a severe look, Aria said, "You should. It's in the manual. Now, as I was saying, I'll create a portal to King's Cross. The Weasleys, the Sue, and the Aunt are all going to the station, but there I suggest we split up. I'll follow the Weasley kids and the Sue onto the train, and you stay at the station to, er, take care of Aunt Judith. Mrs. Weasley shouldn't give you too much trouble; the most she can do is hit you with her handbag. Once the bit character is gone, check Mrs. Weasley with your CAD – she should be back in character by at least twenty percent. Right now she's about eighty percent out of character, so she should only be sixty OOC after you finish the job. Got all that?"

"Yes. You still need to work on talking slower."

"Good," Aria smiled. "Now, after you've completed, er, getting rid of the bit character, find something to do with her body. I suggest the Loch Ness kelpie, but if you have any other ideas, you can use those instead. Use the teleportation-thingy to get rid of her, and then use it to come to Hogwarts in time for the Sorting. Got that too?"

"Talk more slowly."

Aria gave her partner a big grin. "Good then! Let's go." She produced the teleportation-thingy, pressed some buttons, and a minute later they were standing in King's Cross Station, trying their hardest to ignore Mr. Weasley randomly complaining about how awful gel pens tasted and the booming voice of an author's note agreeing with him on that point.

Handing Polaris the teleportation-thingy, Aria grinned again, whispered "Good luck!" and trotted off after the Weasley children boarding the train.

Once her partner's back was turned, Polaris shot her a dark look. They would give me a partner who doesn't enjoy violence. To console herself, she turned her attention to the undefined and now rather lifeless Aunt Judith. At least I don't have to charge the 'bit' characters. But I refuse to kill the cat.

Falling into step behind Judith and Mrs. Weasley, Polaris waited until they had left the station before pulling out her dagger. Tapping Aunt Judith on the shoulder, she held the dagger behind her back until the bit character turned to face her.

It was all over rather quickly. As Mrs. Weasley stood blinking in confusion, Polaris pointed the CAD at her, and was pleased to see that, while she was still not back to normal (and couldn't be until the Sue was disposed of), she was 25% less ruptured – better than Aria had predicted. Before Mrs. Weasley could regain any semblance of comprehension, Polaris opened the portal and dragged the bit's body through.

The darkness of the Forbidden Forest welcomed her. Dragging the body by the feet, she made her way toward the spot she had in mind. She noticed spiders scuttling along the ground next to her, and grinned wickedly.

Despite her enjoyment of her task, Polaris winced slightly when she entered the hollow. Spiders were okay, generally, so long as they took it into their heads to climb over her. However, spiders that were big enough to lift a full grown human caused her to shudder and suppress the desire to run screaming from the forest.

One of the aforementioned spiders, an old and milky-eyed beast, turned its blind eyes toward her. ''Why have you come here?" it inquired through clicking pincers.

"Brought you a present!" Polaris told it, dragging Aunt Judith forward. She dropped the body and turned to go.

To find her way blocked by hundreds of spiders.

Aria stared in horror at the scene before her.

Harry Potter Mary Sues were bad enough in their natural habitat – namely, Harry's fifth year and occasionally the Marauder era. But what she was seeing now, the messing up of already-made canon, was enough to make her queasy. She pitied the Lord of the Rings assassins. Deeply.

Her particular Sue was busy demonstrating that Harry and Ron only met through her intervention. She hissed "Go!" at Ron and pushed him through the compartment door. Ron was gazing at Harry in such blatant awe that Aria suppressed a gag.

The Sue sauntered into the compartment after Ron and sat down next to Harry, then proceeded to make random banter with Ron about her shoes, obviously thinking she was very funny. Then – Aria braced herself – the Sue turned to Harry.

"Oh, uh. I'm Elle by the way," she said holding her hand out for him to shake.

"No, Harry!" Aria couldn't resist whispering dramatically. "Don't give in!"

Harry shook the offered hand and introduced himself politely.

"So, Harry," the Sue prattled. "Where ya from?" "Surrey," he answered. "I'm from Tennessee…America," she added as an afterthought.

Aria writhed in agony for the paragraphs.

"Man, guys don't make conversation easy when girls are around, do they?" the Sue said as she stood up, and exited the compartment.

After waiting a moment, Aria entered Harry and Ron's compartment. Now that the Sue was gone, they looked quite a bit like rag dolls. Shaking her head, Aria pointed her CAD at Harry. [Harry Potter. Human male. Canon. Out of character 12%] Giving the unseeing boy a nod of approval, Aria exited and hurried off after the Sue.

She caught up with Ellenora just as Hermione stopped her in the corridor and asked quite rudely, "Is there a reason that you're walking around so loudly?" The Sue smiled widely, as though she had received a compliment, and Aria cautiously pointed the CAD at Hermione. [Hermione Granger. Human female. Canon. Out of character 29.6%] Well, it could be worse.

The Sue laughed cheerfully in Hermione's face and made a feeble excuse for her 'loud walking'. Hermione, looking terribly dubious, said, "Why are you walking around then?"

Aria resisted the urge to bang her head against the compartment wall, and resolutely took no notice of the very faint and urgent beeping her CAD was now making. Hermione, still looking confused, beckoned Ellenora into her compartment. Aria, standing just outside it, ignored their pointless conversation and instead muttered, "Three … two … one …"

Neville Longbottom, looking distraught, barged past her and flung open the door of Hermione's compartment. "What's wrong?" the girls asked in sickening unison. "My toad, Trevor, have you seen him? The pudgy little boy asked.

"Lack of paragraphs, lack of punctuation, check," Aria muttered before realizing she seemed to be picking up Polaris's habit of doing her mental charge list aloud. She sighed and turned back to the compartment in time to see Hermione apologizing for the absence of pet toads, pity billowing all over. It smelled rather like rose perfume gone bad. Aria wrinkled her nose.

Neville, in response to either Hermione's reply or her scent of pity, moaned and sighed, then introduced himself sulkily. Aria's CAD, sounding almost as sulky, beeped more loudly. Aria hit it.

"Well, Neville, I'm sure we can help you find Trevor!" the Sue said brightly to Neville. In return, the boy's expression lightened slightly. Rhetorically, he smiled a little and said to the girls, "Thank you so much! But, what are your names?"

"I'm Hermione and this is Elle," Hermione responded with sickening brightness. The Sue nodded with a smile. Even Aria, who probably grinned more often than was healthy, was getting heartily sick of all the smiling. Shaking her head ruefully, the assassin followed Hermione, Neville, and the Sue as they wandered the engine, taking turns in asking compartments if they'd seen Neville's toad. Apparently the engine of the train was now housing compartments as well. It was rather crowded.

The Sue and the two canon characters now stopped in front of a door with heavy laughing behind it. Aria frowned in concentration, trying to get her mind around the idea of heavy laughter. Ellenora raised her eyebrows and pulled open the door. "Oh, Hi guys," she said from the doorway. Inside were Fred and George Weasley and one other boy, who Aria recognized to be Lee Jordan. "Ellie! We'd like you to meet Lee Jordan. He's our best friend!" One of the twins said. 'Ellie' smiled and held out her hand. "It's nice to meet you Lee," she said graciously.

As Lee shook the outstretched hand with more vigour than strictly necessary, Aria pointed the CAD at him. After giving a sulky beep, it said [Lee Jordan. Human male. Canon. Out of character 19.8%] Aria raised her eyebrows. Impressive.

The Sue now queried "Oh, Umm...Have any of you seen a toad? He's green with brown splotches," The boys glanced at each other.

"Nope. Sorry, Ellie," Lee said. "Ah, 'Ellie'. Fred and George talk about me, I see," Elle said smugly. Lee laughed, "All the time. They won't shut up!"

Aria frowned again, trying to discern who was talking, and had to duck quickly to avoid having toad plastered all over her face. Luckily, the toad sailed over her and landed inside the compartment on top of Ellenora's head. She gasped a bit and may have yelled if Neville hadn't said, "Trevor! You've come back!" The Sue's eyes went wide as she took the toad off her head and handed it to Neville. "He likes you, Elle!" Neville exclaimed. She smiled at Neville. Everyone cracked up for no apparent reason.

In dread, Aria cautiously pointed the CAD at Trevor the Toad. [Trevor. Male horned toad. Canonnoncanonnoncanonnon canoniliketoeatflies inagalaxyfarfaraway] Aria gave the CAD a whack to make sure it wouldn't go ballistic and start beeping, then shoved it back in her book bag.

Turning back to the humans in the compartment, she watched them amiably chatting about nothing. Hermione looked perfectly content, and Aria hoped the CAD wouldn't short out soon.

She sat outside the compartment door for a while, listening to everyone discussing the finer points of Quidditch, and mentally corrected them. Then, quite abruptly, the train came to a complete stop, and Aria was thrown against the far wall of the corridor. She murmured, "Ow," and was just in time to scramble to her feet, albeit dazed, and look as though she had meant to be there in the first place before Hermione pulled open the compartment door with an anxious smile and said to the others, "Let's go!"

Aria followed them out of the train and was immediately at a loss. There were only first years on the platform, milling around Hagrid. The usual queue of carriages to tale older students to the school was missing, along with all the older students. Rolling her eyes, Aria stepped away from the platform into the dark Hogsmeade street, pulled her wand out of the book bag, and muttered, "Accio Comet Two Sixty," then sat down on the cobblestone to wait.

After a moment or three, a rather decrepit broomstick sailed down the street and into her waiting hand. Smiling at it, Aria sighed, "I love this continuum," and mounted the broomstick. She flew low, not to stay out of sight (for it was very unlikely the Sue would be looking up anytime soon – according to the Words she was in a boat arguing with Draco Malfoy, the boy in question being only six percent out of character), but because Aria was afraid of heights. Still, broomsticks were so fun she could risk floating seven feet off the ground.

Fuzzy pink slippers skimming the grass, Aria and her borrowed broomstick floated across the Hogwarts lawn. She slowed the broom in order to smile and nod at the Whomping Willow, which waved its branches at her in a friendly manner, knowing she was here to restore the world back to its original order.

These pleasant thoughts were interrupted by someone yelling loudly, "SPIDERSPIDERSPIDERS!" Aria turned towards the Forbidden Forest in time to see her partner, distinctly disheveled and worse for wear, come tearing out. Polaris, spotting Aria and evidently not registering the broomstick she was on, rushed over and grabbed the hem of her floating robes. "Run! Lotsa spiders from Forest after us!"

Aria, who didn't fancy spiders all that much herself, stole a furtive glance at the trees, then pulled her partner on the broomstick behind her and shot off towards the school, going considerably higher and faster than she usually liked to.

Landing in front of the school's front doors, Aria gave the broom a grateful pat and shooed it away towards the broom shed, then pulled the doors open, yanked her bewildered partner inside, and slammed the doors shut. The echo boomed through the entrance hall.

"And what, may I ask, were you doing?"

Still looking considerably shaken, Polaris said, "Getting rid of the bit character's body." She managed a shaky, false grin. "Aragog didn't like my present much, it seems."

Aria rolled her eyes. "Why didn't you teleport yourself out?"

Polaris had the grace to look sheepish. "Forgot. Too many spiders chasing me."

Sighing, Aria admitted, "I don't care for spiders either, so I'll let this pass. But next time, plan ahead, for goodness sakes!" She paused. "Now, we'd better get into the Great Hall or we'll miss the Sorting."

"Oh, we wouldn't want to miss something like that."

Deciding that comment wouldn't get the satisfaction of an answer, Aria simply pulled her partner into the Great Hall, then sat them down at the most convenient table, which happened to be filled with Slytherins.

Ellenora was just getting the Sorting Hat placed on her head by Professor McGonagall. With the benefit that comes of being a PPC agent, or perhaps just too much time listening to flowers talk in mental voices, both assassins could hear what the hat was saying to the Sue.

"Ah, Bethany. Wait, you can't be Bethany. You're definitely a Lupin though...Ellenora! Ah, yes. Well, it's fairly obvious that you've got at least some traits of all the houses, but the ones that stand out most boldly are from Gryffindor. That's where we'll put you then. GRYFFINDOR!" the hat said, screaming the last word.

The two assassins turned to each other, looks of identical horror on their faces. "Right," Aria growled. "Now it's personal. Related to a Lupin, are we?"

Polaris reflected that it was fairly impressive to see her partner actually wanting to kill something. Her train of thought didn't get much further, however, because now Ellenora sat in her seat on the train contemplating what the sorting had been like back in first year. Fred and George were laughing somewhere with Lee. She was sure they were close, yet they sounded so distant. It was their last year at Hogwarts. I'm gonna miss 'em, Elle thought. No more pranks. No more anything for that matter, she continued mentally.

Turning to Aria in a daze, Polaris commented, "That went fast."

Aria shook her head. "I'll say."

Sitting in the train compartment with the Sue were Harry, now looking as though he were about thirteen, Ron, looking impossibly tall but no different otherwise, and Hermione, who they only recognized because the Words said it was one Miss Granger. Hermione's teeth were smaller and straighter. She had somehow gotten her hair to calm down a little. She'd grown about an inch or two. She now had glasses with thin gold frames and elliptical lenses.

Both assassins' CADs shrieked. Polaris solved this by smashing hers. Aria's simply shorted out. In the compartment, Ellenora looked around, frowning vaguely, before Ron suggested a game of Exploding Snap and her attention turned back to her 'friends'.

"That game's so loud though, Ron!" Hermione protested. "I wanna play!" Harry and Elle chorused. "Cool!" Ron exclaimed, totally oblivious to Hermione's objection. She sighed.

"Who do you reckon is gonna be the Defense professor this year?" Hermione asked as she watched Harry and Ron Shuffle the cards with their eyes closed and faces turned in case one of the cards decided to blow itself up. "Lupin," Ron answered simply. "Dad," Elle said at the same time.

Aria's expression turned murderous. "I … hate … her," she hissed.

Polaris grinned. "That's why we're going to kill her."

Instead of turning green, Aria looked much cheered, and announced, "Beware of introspective memories. We are now switching points of view, ladies and gentlemen."

Polaris smiled toothily. "Wonderful."

Hermione nodded, remembering the first time she, Ron, Harry, and all the other Gryffindors, with the exception of Ellie, had realized that Professor Lupin was Ellie's father.

Unfortunately, at this point the narrative switched from Hermione's memories of the past to Hermione's actual experience at the time, and the two assassins found themselves in the Defense classroom. Lupin into the classroom holding an aquarium tank, and Polaris gave Aria an odd look as she squeaked, smiling mistily at the professor.

Lupin set the tank down on his desk and stepped aside for the class to observe. Just then, Professor McGonagall walked into the room. Ellie's left eye went sleepy looking. She breathed in through her nose, pulled back slightly, put her hands to her face, and sneezed three times. Lupin, just seconds after, had scratched his eye and then repeated the process exactly the same. 'Cats,' they had both muttered. Ellie turned and smiled at the professor. The Gryffindor students had noticed odd similarities between the two, but thought nothing of them.

Lupin beamed back. The smile. It was the exact same. They had the same, slightly crooked teeth. The same, raised cheeks. The whole class gawked. Lavender and Parvati had been the ones to raise the subject the night before.

Polaris snorted. "That was random."

"REMUS IS NOT ALLERGIC TO CATS!" Aria shrieked, and they were thrown back into the corridor of the Hogwarts Express with a jolt.

Draco Malfoy took that moment to come sweeping through the corridor and throw the compartment door open, saying in a wicked voice, "Look who we have here, boys! It's Harry Pothead, Ron Measly, The Lone Granger, and Elle Zookeeper!"

"He's talking to himself," Polaris lamented. "Draco, Crabbe and Goyle aren't with you!"

"This gets steadily more ridiculous," Aria commented, completely ignoring her partner's outburst. "Sure, I can accept Harry Pothead, though it was Potty last time I checked. But he calls Ron Weasel, not Measly, and not having any American pop culture whatsoever, Malfoy would call Hermione Mudblood, not anything else!" She shook her head. "Impossible."

"It's Zarnee, and unless you've got a purpose here, Dragon boy, leave. We don't need any ferrets in our compartment!" the Sue said tiredly.

She, Ron, Harry, and Hermione all made little chirpy ferret noises. Draco glared then turned on his heel and left. Polaris made a very rude gesture in the general direction of the Sue's compartment. Aria, pointing her CAD after Draco, remembered it was shorted and sighed.

"Hey," she said cautiously to her partner, who was still looking incredibly irate. "Would you please give me the teleportation-thingy? We're going to the Great Hall, two years from now."

"Why?" Polaris asked listlessly.

"We can kill the Sue there."

Eyes lighting, Polaris eagerly handed Aria the teleportation-thingy. "Here! Quick! Let's go!"

Aria opened a portal. As they stepped through, the disembodied voice of the Sue explained to them that Aunt Judith had died around Christmas (Polaris snorted), that Ellenora had gone to live with the Weasleys, and that the Weasleys had, by pure coincidence, become incredibly rich.

Then the two assassins were in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, and random people in wizards' robes were filing in for the reception. Grabbing her partner's hand, Aria dragged Polaris out of the Hall. "Quickly! We need to catch her before she comes into the Great Hall, graduates, and is proposed to by George!"

Ellenora wasn't hard to find. She was wearing generic graduation robes, complete with the hat, and Aria simply tapped her on the shoulder. The Sue turned around, glowing with happiness. "Oh, hello!"

"Hi," Aria said shortly. "Ellenora Bethany Zarnee, you are charged with changing the Hogwarts motto, messing with the characterizations of sundry Weasleys, Harry, Hermione, Neville …" She frowned. "Actually, messing up every canon character you come across, including Trevor the Toad! Anyway, you are also charged with utterly massacring canon, being related to an angel and Remus Lupin," she began to breathe harder, looking annoyed, "amazing sundry canon characters with mediocre acting, defying the laws of physics by floating while limping, creating stupid new nicknames for Draco to call Harry, Ron, and Hermione, killing my eardrums with that awful noise you call singing, and," she finished in a yell, "above all for making Remus allergic to cats!" Aria paused and looked at her partner. "Did I miss anything?"

"Yes," Polaris said, looking as though she were enjoying this much more than strictly necessary. "You are also charged with not separating your paragraphs, cruelty to the common comma, and being contradictory. Also for using really stupid character descriptions," she gave the Sue a frozen look. "Campbell? Excuse me?" She shook her head. "And lastly for giving Hermione glasses, which she does not wear."

"Do you have any last, non-sappy words?" Aria asked conversationally.

Ellenora, who didn't seem as dense as some Mary Sues, had cottoned on that two normal-looking, bespectacled Hogwarts students were trying to kill her. So, not caring that nowhere in the fic had she specifically been told she was related to an angel, she proclaimed, "You cannot slay a divine being, you demon!"

Polaris blinked, then smiled sardonically. "Oh, can't I?"

And Ellenora was suddenly sprouting a knife from her chest. She fell over. Polaris smiled more widely, kneeled down, and pulled out her knife, wiping it clean on her robes. Aria winced, and averting her eyes, commented, "Maybe when she said she was a divine being, she meant she was related to Remus?"

Rolling her eyes, Polaris sheathed her knife and slung the Sue's body over her shoulder. "I think she meant the angel side of the family."

Aria grinned and reflected that maybe having a partner wasn't as bad as it was cracked up to be. "So, what do we do with the body?"

Polaris's smile turned evil. "One word – Fluffy."

* * *

"Eat up, boy," Aria told the massive three-headed dog affectionately. "Ohh, you cute big puppy, you!"

Polaris scratched one of Fluffy's contented heads behind an ear. "He is sort of cute when he isn't trying to eat someone."

Aria started to say she thought it would be amusing to watch the dog eat Draco Malfoy, then thought better of it. Draco appeared to be Polaris's registered lust object, and suggestions of his demise probably wouldn't help their relationship any. Instead she suggested, "Let's tie up the loose end and go back to Headquarters."

"The cat?" Polaris nodded. "I'll take care of it."

Wincing and trying to ignore the tears pricking the corners of her eyes, Aria opened the portal to where Aunt Judith's house supposedly was. Stepping through, the assassins discovered that it was basically gray sketchy nothingness but for the fat orange tabby, which looked at them with evident interest, then trotted over.

Polaris crouched down in front of the cat. Fitz, as he was called according to the Words, sniffed her hand, then rubbed against it, purring.

"Um …" Aria tried, but her next words got stuck in her throat. Polaris getting friendly with the cat was a bad idea. She should've gotten her bow and arrows, and shot at it from a distance.

Looking up, Polaris said happily, "Let's keep him!"

Aria blinked. "What?"

"If we take him out of here everything will go back to canon, won't it?" Polaris said eagerly. "So let's take him back to Headquarters with us!"

"We don't have cat food," Aria pointed out feebly. Polaris and the cat gave her identical looks of reproach, and she sighed. "All right, if that's the only alternative to killing him." She smiled slightly. "But he's your cat, Polaris."

"Yes!" Polaris grinned, and scooped up the cat. "We're going back to Headquarters, Meringue!"

"Meringue?" Aria, having finished opening the portal, asked incredulously.

"Well, his name can't very well be Fitz, can it?" Polaris said reasonably, and stepped back into their office. Aria followed, shaking her head, and the portal closed behind them.

"All right then." She offered the orange tabby, now called Meringue, her hand. He sniffed it, then blinked at her, and let her rub a thumb behind his ears. Aria grinned. "He's your cat all right."

"Good," Polaris said, and set Meringue down to explore the office.

"Now," Aria said, "I'm going to talk to the Sunflower Official, and on the way back I'll pick up some cat food. You go to Makes-Things, and get a wand and your own teleportation-thingy and some new CADs for both of us and a bed for Meringue and anything else you can think of. Got it? Good." And she left before her partner could answer.

Polaris glanced down at Meringue. "Hopeless," she told him, and followed her partner out the door.