(Not sure if I posted this here at all initially, but what the heck, I’ll put it here anyway. This response is to Penny’s stink bug challenge and is actually a continuation of a bit of fanfiction I toy around with involving Harry Potter. If you’d like to check out the first story – and possibly understand this one a bit more – you can find it on my personal blog here)
There it was – again. Stupid little git. She grumbled menacingly under her breath at the creature, which remained completely indifferent as it stretched itself on the keyboard, flicking its antennae every so often. Irene tapped the capped end of her pen against her notebook, attempting to ignore the bug and failing miserably. It just sat there, minding its own business, ignoring her very obvious presence as it languidly bathed itself, stretched out over the ‘e’ key. She shouldn’t have been so bothered by it, but she was. Deeply.
Maybe it was the fact that it was on her turf. Her laptop, interrupting her peace and quiet. Granted, she wasn’t exactly using the electronic device most of the times it showed up, and the bug didn’t exactly do much beyond sit there, but still. Its mere presence was distracting, and she didn’t have time for distractions. As always, she attempted to ignore it and, as always, failed miserably. Rather than focusing on her work, she found herself studying the bug, watching its every move as though there would be a thorough exam on the creature later that her entire grade in a vital test depended upon. Her previous observations led her to determine that the creature was a stink bug; she’d captured and released enough of the foul beasts in her college dorm room to recognize them. This time, however, she wasn’t as certain – it was the same bug, undoubtedly, but in the half light of her twilight encased bedroom, it seemed much more beetle-like. And familiar.
“No,” she gasped, pointing an accusing finger at the intruder. “No. Not again. I refuse to fall prey to this. Again. You, get the hell out of my house!”
The beetle glanced up at Irene, its expression far too intelligent for its own good. It scurried toward her, causing the woman to yelp girlishly and attempt to back away. Misjudging the distance, she felt herself falling off the edge of the bed, but the fall was far greater than it should have been. DAMN. IT, she screeched into her mind as she continued to descend, her bedroom slowly morphing into an entirely different scene. Eventually her backside met solid ground, though the grass she felt under her palms was not the texture she’d hoped to experience.
“This is not happening; please tell me this is not happening…” The sound of her own muttering voice, an all-too-familiar yet unusual British lilt to her words, gave her the answer. She groaned lowly, keeping her eyes screwed shut in the hopes that, if she pretended she lay on her bed, it would be true and she wouldn’t have to deal with –
“Jo? Er…what are you doing?” Harry Potter – Harry fucking James bloody Potter – asked the girl splayed across the ground, a hint of concern behind his question. Irene winced at the name (again, life…seriously?!) and slowly rose to her feet, finally opening her eyes. The perplexed expressions of fourteen-year-old Harry and Ron Weasley gaped at her openly as she stepped forward, straightening her robes slightly.
“I was arguing with a bug,” she explained stiffly, enjoying the continued confused faces of the two boys despite her unfortunate situation. Right, focus…Rita Skeeter is around…this is obviously Goblet…but when? She glanced about, taking in the large tent behind them and the faraway sounds of students making their way back up to the castle. A slight breeze, far cooler than it should have been back in the spring of upstate New York, teased her hair as she nodded, turning back to Harry and Ron with a determination fixed in her voice. “November 24th. Oh damn, I’ve missed it, haven’t I?”
Harry stepped forward, taking her shoulder lightly in concern. “Missed what, exactly? Jo, are you feeling alright?”
I’m forced into another one of these delusions and I don’t even get to see a dragon. This sucks. “Never mind. Nice job out there, Harry. You did amazingly.” The boy broke out into a grin, sheepishly nodding his appreciation. He really is adorable. Shaking herself slightly, she threw an arm around him and pulled Ron forward as well. “Come on, I’m sure there’s a tower full of excitable Gryffindors eager for an excuse to make fools of themselves in celebration.”
They began the trek up to the castle, Irene more than slightly ecstatic that she’d actually get a glimpse inside more than the hospital wing this time, even though she’d probably bashed her head against her side table and actually lay unconscious on her bedroom floor back home. Harry and Ron chatted awkwardly behind her, rekindling the friendship she knew would prove to be invaluable. She had little control over her presence in whatever the hell this could be called, but she refused to interfere and change anything excessively, even if it wasn’t real. Despite it all, she would not allow the true plot line to alter. That was, until…Ohhhh no. Oh no, lady. It’s on.
“YOU!” she shrieked, startling both boys as she stormed toward the highly surprised Daily Prophet reporter. Irene reached Skeeter before she could even consider her next move, grabbing the woman by the collar gruffly and forcing her to make eye contact. “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! TAKE ME BACK, YOU INFURIATING INSECT!”
“Bloody hell, Jo!” Ron yelped as he and Harry attempted to pry her off the terrified reporter. “I know she’s a right bitch, but blimey!”
“NO,” she growled, focus still on Skeeter despite being held back by the teenagers. “NO. YOU BROUGHT ME HERE, YOU’LL SEND ME BACK. DO IT NOW OR YOUR SECRET IS OUT.”
As all color drained from the woman’s face, Harry faced Irene, his expression stern. “Enough, Jo. What is the matter? Calm yourself down already!”
She took a deep, shuttering breath, sending Skeeter a final glare before locking eyes with the Boy Who Lived. “It’s….complicated. Honestly, Harry, I’d tell you if I could, but…” But you’d think I’m nuttier than Xeno Lovegood and I’d be at St. Mungo’s before I could blink. Not worth it. She sighed, pulling herself gracelessly out of the boy’s grip. “Never mind. Let’s just go.”
Without glancing backwards, she stalked toward the castle, eventually hearing her fellow Gryffindors (holy hell, that’s right, I’m a Gryffindor. Take that, Pottermore) scurrying behind her. Somehow she led the way to the common room, unable to appreciate the trip as she plotted her next move.
After the raucous celebrations that lasted nearly half the night, Irene As lay in her bed considering the various ways she could uncover Skeeter’s whereabouts, when a sudden buzzing directly beside her head made her jolt upward in surprise. YOU SHALL NOT ESCAPE MY WRATH, RITA SKEETER. Smoother than she expected herself capable, she grasped the empty cup on her bedside that once held water and slammed it over the impressive insect, effectively trapping it. It started impressively, quivering in fear, as she grasped the cup and silently made her way into the common room below, wand grasped tightly in her hand. Once she stood before the fire, Irene pointed the wooden instrument at the bug, dark fury in her eyes.
“You have thirty seconds, Skeeter,” she muttered low in her throat, accent making the words even more menacing. “Transform and talk or face the consequences.”
She’d barely even finished before the woman appeared, the cup clattering to the floor as she nervously shifted under Irene’s gaze. Zero backbone, even when faced with an inexperienced teenager…figures. The reporter attempted to compose herself, back straightening slightly as she looked down at her with a sneer. “What do you want, Miss Murray? Galleons? Fame? Name your price for your silence.”
“What did you do to me?” Irene demanded, ignoring her questions and leaving Skeeter blatantly flabbergasted. Stalking forward, she once again stood nearly nose to nose with the reporter. “One minute you’re a bloody stink bug bothering me while I work, the next I’m stuck back in this fictional world. Fix. It.”
She sighed, lifting her glasses to rub at her eyes once she realized from where Irene’s irritation stemmed. Moving her hands to her hips, she studied her intently, pondering her answer. “If you want the true answer to that, you’ll have to ask Dumbledore,” she began slowly, tapping a finely manicured finger against her side. “I am merely the Hermes to his all-powerful Zeus. There is a reason for these lovely visits of yours, but you’ll have to go to him for more.”
Rita Skeeter is working for Albus Dumbledore? We have officially reached the farthest lengths of bizarre. Irene opened her mouth to demand a less riddle-drenched answer but was interrupted by a strange tugging beginning deep within her stomach. She suspected it was a similar sensation to Apparation (though Apparation doesn’t work inside Hogwarts, the Hermione Granger in her hotly insisted) and glared at the now smirking Skeeter.
“Time’s up this time around, dear,” she muttered, twirling her hand in a mocking farewell. “We’ll meet again soon, I’m sure.”
Irene let out a disgruntled screech just as she was wrenched away, landing unceremoniously back on her own bed. She gazed about at the familiar setting, frustrated at being in the room for the first time in recent memory. Eventually, her eyes narrowed on the laptop that remained stoically at the foot of the bed, taking in the tiny stink bug that still sat against the keys.
“You get a pass this time,” she muttered at the insect, which merely blinked up at her in amusement. “But if I don’t get my answers next time…we’re through.” Heaving a great sigh, she scooped the creature up and headed outside, intent upon releasing it until their next inevitable encounter.