Disclaimer: I own nothing except Emily Kindling & Jimmy Walker.

A/N: The first couple of chapters are a little slow, so apologies in advance. They are really just to set the scene and establish character and tone, so I've kept them deliberately short. Characters you recognise from the series will start making appearances from the third chapter onwards. I haven't written fiction outside of script-form for about 6 years now, so reviews are always welcome! I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1: She Who Hesitates Is Lost

Emily Kindling was anxious. Now granted, she was prone to the odd bout of nerves, but who wasn't? She was anxious for a very specific reason; her very first assignment. Undertrained and underqualified as she may have been, these were desperate times and someone in VFD thought she had 'the right stuff' for the job so here she was, hesitating before the grand old doors of Prufrock Preparatory School.

Remember; she who hesitates is lost.

She squared her narrow shoulders and strode into the grounds. Many members of VFD had trodden these corridors as children. Emily was not one of them. Her surroundings were entirely unfamiliar, bearing no similarities to her small private school back in England. It was funny; the fact that she was to be stationed at a school was the main reason she'd agreed to take the post. To help mould young minds, provide counsel to troubled teenagers, instil a glint of hope in some poor underdog – that would truly make things worth the struggle if something were to go horribly wrong. Given her lack of training, she was almost certain something would.

Weaving her way through the winding narrow corridors, she passed a trophy case where she took pause to peer inside. Dusty, not a great many trophies and the few that did reside there were clearly from decades past.

She who hesitates is lost.

Onwards, past a wall which had been turned into a mural of black and white photographs of preceding students and teachers. Up a flight of stairs and into an atrium where dusty old cheerleader and jock uniforms were entombed in eternal stillness behind glass on the walls. She didn't bother reading the plaques.

Echoes of bygone eras were screaming out at her and they weren't even from her own. Emily had never liked old things; her grandmother had been superstitious and she remembered her warnings of ghosts of the past attaching themselves to objects of the same era only to haunt whoever possessed them years down the line. She suppressed a shudder and continued on.

Emily finally found herself hovering outside a weathered looking door with some disjointed harmony playing on the other side.

She who hesitates is lost.

The Baudelaires would be arriving in the next week or so – hopefully sooner rather than later but really that depended on when that bloody banker managed to read the signs VFD were sending him to track down their whereabouts. They all knew the children were at Lucky Smells, of course – but for now they had to let Poe believe he was still in charge of the situation. Soon it would be Emily's responsibility to protect the children from anyone seeking to harm them. Apparently there had been a great deal of trouble relating back to a former VFD member named Count Olaf – a man whom Emily had neither met nor indeed even seen a photograph of. Fortunately, a kind if serious man she had met on occasion would be joining her shortly to provide any missing information and offer her guidance should she require it. Larry was already on the Baudelaire case and would at least be able to identify this Count Olaf and his troupe if trouble arose.

She was stalling.

She who hesitates is lost.

She raised her hand and rapped on the door.

'Vice Principal Nero?'