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Pedagogy (Mary Sue Challenge)

Pedagogy (Mary Sue Challenge)

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This is my entry in stmargarets's "It's You, Mary Sue" Challenge.  The title is Pedagogy, which is a teeny bit of a pun in this story if you can spot it.  (I was originally going to do another entry, about a plane ride, but I don't think I'll get to it.  I'm in Maryland right now, preparing to pick up furniture and load it onto a truck to take to Rhode Island.)

Length:                                   About 2,660 words
Genre:                                    Crossover
Rating:                                    PG  for mild grossness
Warnings:                               Identity Theft; some gross images
Apologies:                              To the Arts Council of Gallifrey
More Apologies                     To the memory of Charles Dickens
Still More Apologies:            To moonette1
Special, Abject Apologies:  To anyaxstrindberg

by Rhetor

Anya stepped huffily out of the TARDIS and slammed the door behind her. The Doctor had categorically refused to accompany her, even though he knew she’d been looking forward to this for at least three (subjective) months. “A conference devoted to magic?” he’d scoffed incredulously. “To magic? Haven’t I taught you anything? What an utter waste of time!”
“But it’s Harry Potter,” she’d pleaded.
He’d ignored that remark. “This weekend there are twenty-seven conferences devoted to serious science on this planet alone. You could improve yourself.”
Anya had made a caustic recommendation as to what he could improve and stormed out. As she left, she’d heard him mutter something about “finding Jo Grant.”
Now she slammed the door again, just for emphasis.
A Police Call Box went apparently unnoticed on the fifth floor of this large hotel. But as she looked around her, something seemed off-key, or off-color, or just wrong. She’d come all dressed for the Keynote Address, in the smart little cocktail dress she’d made herself. (She’d had to make it herself: stuffed as the TARDIS was with clothing from dozens of eras and worlds, the Doctor had absolutely no sense of taste, and there was nothing even remotely appropriate for a semi-formal event.) But everywhere she looked, people were wearing various costumes out of the canon, or nearly. Witches’ hats, cloaks, British school uniforms and robes of various kinds abounded. She approached the information desk.
“Excuse me,” she asked sweetly. “When does the Fans to Fandom Keynote start?”
“That’d be tomorrow,” said the harried-looking, red-t-shirted woman behind the counter.
“Tomorrow? But I thought they were holding it on the 19th.”
“So they are, honey. Today’s the 18th.”
Anya whirled back towards the TARDIS in fury, just in time to hear the telltale whirring and banging that meant it was transitioning into another spacetime. (Of course, nobody else noticed.) Ooooh, when she got hold of him! He’d probably claim it was a glitch in the Relativistic Circumnavigation Circuits, or somesuch nonsense. He was alwaysclaiming that.
She blew a puff of air upwards, flipping her bangs. Well, all right. Here she was, and there were sure to be interesting things to do and see. She leaned against the wall, looking (she was sure) utterly sophisticated, and scanned the room.
Sitting on a bench across the foyer from her, next to the door of one of the conference rooms, was a middle-aged man with a prematurely grey beard and badly thinning brown hair. He was dressed in an awful flowered shirt, disintegrating Birkenstocks and last year’s shorts. Anya rolled her eyes and reminded herself that she was in public.
The man was scratching his right foot obsessively, but the grimace on his face told her that it wasn’t helping his discomfort. She could see that the skin on the foot was cracked and red, with large white patches; tiny chunks flew off as he scratched it. Anya looked away, nauseated. It was a good thing Annette wasn’t here; she’d probably faint.
There was a pop somewhere to her left, as if someone had opened a bottle of champagne. She looked hopefully in that direction, but there was no evidence of green glass or foam anywhere she could see. There was, though, a new figure she hadn’t seen before: Tall and thin, sallow-faced and hook nosed, with longish hair that badly needed professional attention, he glided through the room with an expression on his face as if the whole place smelled bad. He was wearing something flowing and black, which looked moderately dashing on him.
As the new arrival approached the middle of the foyer, the man on the bench gasped, hurriedly stuffed his horrid foot back into his Birkenstock and rose with his right extended.
“Mr. Rickman!” The shorter man gushed. “My name’s Kashmir. I’m a tremendous fan of yours.”
The taller man – Rickman, was it? – looked at Kashmir as if he were an odd variety of plant, not taking proffered hand. “Excuse me?” he said.
“I love your work,” Kashmir said. “You were wonderful in Sense and Sensibility, and hilarious in Galaxy Quest. I hear your Shakespeare is great too, but I’ve never had a chance to see any of it.”
Maybe-Not-Rickman spoke slowly, as if to someone who was hard of hearing. “What. Are. You. Talking. About?”
“Your films, your plays, of course!” said Kashmir brightly. “I think you’re one of the greatest actors of your generation.”
“An actor?” said Probably-Not-Rickman in disbelief. “You have mistaken me for an actor?”
“Aren’t you Alan Rickman?” asked Kashimr.
“I,” said Definitely-Not-Rickman acidly. “Am Severus Snape, onetime Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Anya’s heart skipped a beat.
A knowing smile appeared on Kashmir’s face. “Of course you are,” he said, elbowing Severus in the ribs. “Well played, perfectly in character. Nice costume, too.”
Severus stepped back a pace, his eyes widening in annoyance. “I am not an actor!” He insisted. Three or four people who were walking by looked over their shoulders at him curiously.
“I get it, I get it,” said Kashmir. “I know you’re not Alan Rickman, even though you do look and sound remarkably like him. But everyone at this conference is in costume, and yours is great. You make a very convincing Severus Snape. Congratulations.”
Severus (if that’s who he was) looked heavenward and then glared at Kashmir. “You pretentious, badly-dressed little man,” he snarled. “I tell you I am Severus Snape.”
Kashmir glanced at Anya and winked. “All right,” he said, “then tell me what the real Severus Snape is doing in New Orleans.”
“I am here,” Severus answered without missing a beat, “because I found that the organizers of this gathering are making free with my name.” He pulled a Phoenix Rising program out of his cloak (which didn’t really seem to have pockets big enough to hold something like that). “Look at this: Snape: Friend or Foe? And this: Snapeslash and Its Fans. And this: The Good Ship Granger-Snape. This is outrageous! It’s slanderous!”
“Actually, that would be ‘libelous,’” put in Kashmir.
Severus glared at him.
“I know you, I know your type,” he snarled. “You’re really taken with yourself, aren’t you? You flaunt your academic credentials and show off how clever you are – but why aren’t you at a conference with others like yourself? Why are you slumming with mere fans? I’ll wager your peers find you silly and irrelevant, don’t they? What are you doing here?”
Kashmir looked down at his scabby foot. “Well,” he said, not looking up. “I wrote a story.”
“Oh, a writer,” sneered Severus, as if Kashmir had just admitted to a humiliating perversion. “And what, pray tell, are you writing now?”
“Er,” muttered Kashmir, looking at his fingernails. “I’m writing a story about Severus Snape.”
“But, er, I can’t stay long,” said Kashmir quickly, evidently trying to change the subject.
“Oh? And why might that be?” Whether Severus had taken the bait, or was just playing along, Anya couldn’t tell.
“Well, it turns out that I have a pile of last-minute meetings with students, and they can’t wait.”
Severus’s hostility was now accented with surprise. “Students? I thought you said you were a writer.”
“No, I’m a teacher at a University; I just write for fun.”
“Whose fun?”
Kashmir looked like he was trying to think of something clever to say, but nothing came on. Severus made a derisive noise.
“At any rate,” Kashmir said, “it looks like I’ll have to go back after only a short time, because with flights being the way they are, I’ll never be able to get a plane back here in time for the conference.” He looked glum.
At this point Anya was unable to contain herself; she just had to get into this conversation. If this was really Severus Snape…
“Excuse me,” she said sunnily to Kashmir, drawing on every ounce of Southern charm she had. “I couldn’t help overhearing.  What is it that can possibly be so urgent for college students that you have to cut short a long-planned conference trip?”
“Final grades,” he said morosely. “This is the end of the spring term, and a number of the students are planning to graduate this weekend.”
“But some of them won’t?” asked Anya.
“Yes,” said Kashmir.
“Because of your subject?” she pursued.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “And there are others whose averages are so low that they’ll probably be withdrawn from the University after they get the grade in my course.”
“Ah, someone with standards,” said Severus in the closest approximation of approval he’d shown yet. “Nothing good ever comes of pandering to students.”
“It’s been a tough term, too,” complained Kashmir. “Three day sections, two evening sections and three overall preparations.”
“Spare me,” said Severus, rolling his eyes. “Try teaching ten double sections of first-through-fifth-year dunces, plus two sections of so-called advanced-level students. You wouldn’t last two weeks. You wouldn’t survive the grading of the first batch of essays.”
“I’ve never thought that the Hogwarts teaching schedule could be realistic,” muttered Kashmir.
“It’s realistic,” jeered Severus. “It’s just not for weaklings.”
Anya jumped in. “If you could meet your students quickly, then you could come back and enjoy the rest of the conference,” she suggested.
“I don’t think I could possibly arrange the travel,” said Kashmir.
“Wellll,” she looked slyly at Severus, “maybe somebody could Apparate you to your college.”
“You’re not seriously suggesting that he is who he says he is?” scoffed Kashmir.
“And why on earth should I bother Apparating this fool anywhere?” added Severus.
“To prove you are who you say you are,” she replied cheerfully. “If you’re able to Apparate, then he’d be unable to doubt that you’re a real wizard. And so would I.” She batted her eyes, just a second before realizing that the effect from behind her glasses probably wasn’t what she was hoping for.
“I fail to see why his belief for disbelief – or yours, for that matter – should make the slightest difference to me.”
“Maybe you are just an actor after all,” she said in an exaggeratedly disappointed voice.
He gave her a look that said he wasn’t taken in for a moment, but said, “Very well, very well, if it will shut the two of you up. I suppose you want to come along for the ride?”
She nodded excitedly. “I’m Anya,” she said, offering her hand.
“No doubt,” Severus replied. He turned to Kashmir. “Where is it you need me to take you?”
Kashmir still didn’t look convinced. “Providence, Rhode Island. Xavier Hall, located at the northwest corner of Claverick and Pine Streets. Second floor – that is, the floor immediately above the ground floor. Office 223, at the northeast corner of the building.”
Severus rolled his eyes. “I am not a Rhode Islander, you know; I am not even an American. Have you a map, perhaps?”
“Actually, I have one,” said Anya, pulling one of the Doctor’s few genuinely useful devices out of her purse. The chameleomap instantly transformed itself into a street map of Downcity Providence
 Looking grudgingly impressed, Severus examined the chameleomap and nodded. “Very well,” he said. “Each of you, bear but a touch of my robe, and you shall be upheld in more than this.”
“Beg pardon?” asked Kashmir.
“Grab my sleeve and be silent,” ordered Severus.
Anya and Kashmir each took a handful of Severus’s sleeve. Anya had the instant sensation of being crammed into an early Victorian undergarment, but it passed quickly and she found herself in a large, fluorescent-lit, badly-cooled office with at least six cubicles.
“Wow,” said Kashmir, gulping. “I guess you are who you say you are.”
“Is that an apology?” asked Severus acidly.
“I suppose it is.”
“Very well.”
“Cubicles?” Anya asked suddenly. “For university professors?”
“You don’t even have your own office?” said Severus in astonishment. “Even at Hogwarts we have that.”
“Never mind,” sighed Kashmir, leading them along a snakelike passage to the cubicle in the very rear of the office. “I’ll probably be speaking to them for about two hours. The two of you could go visit the Arcade.”
“Actually, I think I would find it instructive to observe these conferences with your students,” said Severus.
“Me too,” said Anya. If he was staying, she was staying.
“But, but – how? I mean, they’d never want to talk to me with visitors; these conferences are supposed to be private and confidential.”
“Elementary,” answered Severus. “We can simply use my invisibility cloak.” He pulled a silvery fabric from another one of his (apparently unlimited) pockets.
“Wait a minute,” said Anya. “You have an invisibility cloak?”
“Surely,” answered Severus.
“When did you get it?” asked Kashmir.
“I have always had it,” said Severus.
“No you haven’t.” Kashmir insisted.
“Now he is telling me what property I do, and do not, have,” Severus complained to Anya. She was going to retort something, but decided that she really wanted to see what it was like to be under one of those things, and determined not to annoy him.
When the first student knocked on the office door, Anya and Severus hid under the cloak.
Nearly two hours later, the last student left. Severus threw the cloak off them; Anya was now very hot and drenched in perspiration. She was relieved to have discovered, however, that Severus, despite his appearance, didn’t smell bad at all. He did seem to use an interesting cologne, though…
Kashmir, notably more worn, looked up at them. “Well?” he asked. “What did you think?”
Anya hadn’t really been prepared to answer that question. “Er – ” she said. Kashmir looked at her expectantly. Somehow she just didn’t have it in her to lie to him.
“It was – um – a little harsh,” she said apologetically.
“Harsh?” asked Kashmir, frowning and blinking.
“Oh, don’t sugar-coat it, my dear,” said Severus impatiently. “Kashmir, every sentence you uttered to those unfortunate undergraduates contained the following, clear message: You’re an idiot, and you’re wasting my time.”
“What?” said Kashmir, evidently shocked.
“You displayed no sympathy, no empathy, nothing at all, so far as I can tell, but an adherence to rules, a delight in your own superiority, and a desire for your own convenience.”
“You – you –” Kashmir spluttered. “You, of all people, are telling me about sympathy and empathy to students?”
“And why not? It takes one to know one, as you say in this linguistically impoverished country.”
“Since when have you ever shown any empathy or sympathy? Since when have you ever consulted anything but your own convenience?”
“I do not claim to have done so,” said Severus, “at least not overtly. But then again, that is precisely my point – I made no claims of affection towards the little wastrels who appear in my classroom, nor have I ever claimed to be helping them in any material way. But you, it seems to me, have taken on the pretense of actually caring what happens to them. Behaving so cruelly, therefore, is not only mean-spirited; it is hypocritical.”
Kashmir said, “I can’t believe I’m being lectured on now to be nice to students by Severus Snape, the man who put the ‘struck’ in ‘instruction!’”
“And I cannot believe that you are pretending to be a professional teacher when you cannot even be civil to students who may have to spend thousands of unforeseen dollars on another term or two of schooling!”
Severus’s hand was about to go for his wand, so Anya intervened.
“Gentlemen!” She said loudly. They both turned to look at her sullenly. “I think we can agree that there’s a genuine difference of opinion on this subject, but if y’all don’t bury the hatchet I might think neither you has any manners.”
They deflated satisfactorily before this onslaught. There was a brief silence.
Then Kashmir said, “Right,” and turned to Severus. “Potions master, were you?” Severus nodded, and Kashmir swung his loathsome right foot onto the desk. “Do you have anything for psoriasis?” 
  • The 'struck' in 'instruction'? That's getting really bad! And completely in keeping with a very amusing ficlet. The Tardis appearance was lovely, and the machinations of the Dr very amusing. Snape's sneer was permanently conveyed in everything he said.
    YOur description of your cubicles reminded me forcibly of the teacher's offices in our school in China - brought it back to me very strongly indeed.
  • Severus’s hand was about to go for his want, so Anya intervened.

    Should that be 'wand'?

    Personal/trite question - I thought your name was 'Ken'?

    I loved the Snape dialogue - 100% nasty for the entire duration!
    • Thanks, Brad. Yeah, I meant to say "wand." As for the name, I figured that for this to be a real "Mary Sue" story I had to make some token effort to hide myself. So "Kashmir" is a corruption of "kschneyer," my name on SIYE. (If I ever get around to finishing A Slow Boat to Shipper's Hell, watch for an over-emotional, sentimental twit named Kashmir to show up briefly in one of the chapters...)
  • Psoriasis Treatment

    The matter regarding the Psoriasis is very good and find the
    Psoriasis Treatment (http://www.squidoo.com/psoriasis-us)
    • Re: Psoriasis Treatment

      Thanks for the tip!

      (My psoriasis really isn't that bad (knock wood); but I was just itching (sorry) to put some sort of distracting thread into the story that would provide a punch-line.)
  • “I can’t believe I’m being lectured on now to be nice to students by Severus Snape,

    Excellent! If Anya was pleased just because she got cited, I can't imagine how thrilled she'll be to star in an actual story.

    (I have seen him in a Shakespeare play and he is brilliant.)
  • Not too impressed with your own pedagogic skills? Or dress mode or general apperance? Hm... The guy I saw in Jo's pics looked like a well dressed, kind gentleman, with glint in his eyes that proved him hugable. And I don't hug anyone.

    Apart from this denigation of yourself, which I feel is uncalled for (especially in a Mary Sue fic, aren't Mary Sue's supposed to be pretty, smart and witty? In addition to be a thinly disguise author insert?) - but I'm not one of your students, nor do I know RL you, so what do I know about the matter - apart from that (or was all that supposed to be ironic? Is it just me who's dense?), I loved this.

    Snape!Rickman turning out to be Rickman!Snape was cool, his disgust at Snapeslash and Granger-Snape shipping was feelable. A sentiment I share, I must admit. Anya being present through the story was a nice touch. Good thing she was there to calm down the two cockerels about to fight at the end. Nice punch line, too. Did he? :-)
    • "Huggable?" That does it; I'm catching the next plane to Oslo, and you can worry about how to explain it to the husband.

      Seriously, Berte, thank you. The truth is that I just couldn't bring myself to do the Author-As-Desirable-Hero bit. I'm typically an angst writer anyway, and so the best I could do was to make myself into comic relief. Was it supposed to be ironic, you ask -- Welllll, sorta. I picked my worst outfit to give Anya (who'd I'd written as a fashion queen) something to grouse about.

      I wrote Anya into the story initially to have a POV character who wasn't me or Severus. But of course, the more I wrote her the more fun it was to have her there. (It feels really weird to be saying this about a living person. "The more I wrote her" sounds almost indecent.)

      "Did he" have a psoriasis cure, you mean? Nah, no one does. And besides, would you take a curative potion offered to you by Snape? Lupin was out of his mind, if you ask me...
  • I thought for sure Kashmir referred to Cashmere - the ultimate in coverings for a straw man or a sock puppet. I see that you had issues with being Gary Stu and let Severus take over that role (he even smells good whilst prespring - he must be magical) I don't doubt that he has something in the potions cupboard for psoriasis - but he has yet to concoct a shampoo for oily hair.

    This was so funny since you three were such very different characters and yet seemed to somehow belong together. And if Snape did indeed have an Invisiblity Cloak - then every conspiracy theorist in the HP world would immediately have thousands of words to pour out on the internet. Best not spill that rumor.

    Funny how teaching was your common thread with Snape - it is a tough job even if you have full knowledge of the Dark Arts.

    LOL on the schedule at Hogwarts! Of course it's not realistic!

    This was a fun story, Ken! Thanks for sharing!
    • Thanks, Mary. Truth is, the line you're an idiot, and you're wasting my time is almost an exact quote from a colleague who was (kindly) trying to get me to hear myself in some of my unguarded moments. I was depressed about it for days. So when I started to write a scene between me and Snape, I had the morose thought that I'd appear overly harsh even to him, and so I wrote it that way.

      Not to worry; writing it was therapeutic.
  • Erm - shouldn't your Gary Stu have perfect skin that even the women gush over, begging you to reveal your secret for it's satiny smooth, completely unblemished glowing perfection, unable to keep their hands off of its velvety wonderfulness? Hah. Even Snape could have commented on it and you could have counseled him about how to add a warm glow to his sallow, pale countenance! Apology accepted, LOL. (except for the bit about the "small chunks" - I haven't forgiven you for that yet.)

    But all kidding aside, I did love Snape here.

    And my favorite line was this:

    Anya had the instant sensation of being crammed into an early Victorian undergarment

    That's just PERFECT!
    • Nah, Annette, you're the one who's good at writing stuff like that. Besides, my fantasies aren't about being wildly attractive -- and it'll cost you a bottle of good red wine to find out what they are about. ;)

      Sorry about the chunks -- it's not really accurate, and it's more of a verbalisation of my own disgust than anything else.

      I ejoyed that undergarment too -- er, I mean, I enjoyed Anya in that undergarment -- er, I mean...
  • *Scolds* Now see here! You had a definite Hemmingway in Cuba vibe going on with the tan trousers and braces with the breezy white shirt now! And everyone owns at least one floral shirt for chillin' in. Also you bear a fair resemblance to that playwright of playwrights, Strindberg!

    I loved the details in this too, especially the bit about champagne corks popping conjuring up images of green glass and lovely foam (Hey! how did you know about my pavlovian response!)Actually you write me better than I write myself, but I *do* want the Doctors goodies, super cell phones, magic maps, terrible, terrible clothes onboard the Tardis *sighs* These new Doctors are no Tom Baker! Except when I lean against walls looking terribly cool, it's usually followed by one of my ankles deciding to take a vacation before I fall and ruin the whole effect!

    *gasp* KEN! You're THAT professor! No Gary Stu ye! Embracing your stringent professorial standards in life and writing as the Professor who would flunk a nearly-graduating seniors and take them to task! (Actually good on you, if they can't be bothered to try hard in all their classes then NO DIPLOMA FOR THEM!) And Snape arriving to settle the hash on a few topics (IE: No Granger-Snape! Thankyouverymuch), is brilliant!

    “I can’t believe I’m being lectured on now to be nice to students by Severus Snape, the man who put the ‘struck’ in ‘instruction!’” <- Pure gold. I'm going to have to use that one whenever possible (it's loads better than "fun" in Funeral!) But between you and Snape it could be an endless day of entertainment via wordy sniping. A bit like watching a fencing match!

    But Snape calls me "My Dear" Be still my heart! But thank heavens he didn't smell lest he be subjected to a little Muggle potion called "F'Breeze..."
    • I have little to add except to concur that you are WAY too harsh on yourself! The 'tiny chunks' were, btw, hilarious.

      Anya and Snape sitting in a tree under an Invisibility Cloak for two hours. Oops. No snarky comments from this corner, or Lourdes will hunt me down and eviscerate me.

      KEN! You're THAT professor! No Gary Stu ye! Embracing your stringent professorial standards in life and writing as the Professor who would flunk a nearly-graduating seniors and take them to task! (Actually good on you, if they can't be bothered to try hard in all their classes then NO DIPLOMA FOR THEM!)

      YEAAHHH! *punches air*
    • (no subject) - rhetoretician - Expand
  • OMG! This was so funny. Kashmir indeed.

    No, I’m a teacher at a University; I just write for fun.”
    “Whose fun?”

    I was laughing so hard. It was difficult to read this with out taking time out to laugh.

    Oh and I loved this line He was dressed in an awful flowered shirt, disintegrating Birkenstocks and last year’s shorts

    I just love your writing.

    PS: Very enjoyable afternoon.
    • Thanks, Rachel. I liked the lunch too.

      (BTW, why wasn't the baby seal on the list of six icons you gave me last week?)
  • I change my icons a lot. Don't know why. I have the basic account so I can only keep a few at a time. I have a lot of icons though.
  • I'm really just a casual voyeur here, so this whole world of Mary Sues, Drabbles, etc. is still all a pretty foreign to me.

    That said, jeez, Ken, could you have been any harsher on yourself? :-P

    That said, it was a really fun read.
    • Glad you liked it. I'm new to this terminology etc. too. Don't be too concerned -- I just thought a self-deprecating Mary Sue was more interesting.
  • It seems I'm writing another essay for St Mag's challenge. May I refer to your story for it? Full citation will, of course, be given! I think you will be along the lines of "self-depracating Gary Stu" plus writing your friends into the story. If you're not sure the type of thing I mean, I suggest you have a glance at the project crumpet essay on my journal.
  • To be honest, you had me grinning at the first apology. Having read all the way through and the comments, I feel a bit shy of commenting but I enjoyed it enormously, particularly Snape's hypocritical remarks on Kashmir's manner with his students.

    The Dr Who references had me grinning widely as that was one of my earliest fandoms, way back when.

    • Hi, Xia! I'm glad you liked the apology; you're the first one to mention it so far! And I'm glad you appreciated the other Dr. Who refs. (And thanks for not reiterating the "you're too hard on yourself" chorus I've been getting from the other reviewers; I was getting ready to throw something...)

      Oh, and before I forget: Get offline and start writing.

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