Chapter 4 : On Your Bike, Sir
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Sixth year class.
It was nearly the Christmas holidays, something of which Archibald Penrose was acutely aware as he reached the middle of the week: not only due to the fact that his students were becoming either more distracted or more excited, depending on the type of student in question; but also due to how own mixture of exaggerated cheeriness and growing weariness.
He’d stuck on ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ to occupy his sixth years, mostly because he thought it was an excellent film – even though he’d had to spend two hours fixing up a magical protector so that the films were watchable. Naturally, he’d already made compatible copies of all his favourite films so that he didn’t get bored during term time, but it still wasn’t as easy as it would have been if he was a muggle.
Still, if he was a muggle he’d probably be out of a job.
He may have to make some more copies over the holidays, as his sixth years had already enjoyed most of his films: ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Notebook’, and ‘Mean Girls’ being his particular favourites (films were the instant-solution to a double period with rowdy students, something which he had learnt well in his time). His copy of ‘Grease' had been worn out by Fred and Dominique Weasley repeatedly watching it so they could learn the dance moves. Now they occasionally performed them to him in the corridors, which he always through was quite funny even though Professor Boot had never quite forgiven him for the time he had wound up with Fred Weasley’s finger up his nose when he’d been a little too erratic during the a recital of the final, fantastical number.
“Sir, this is boring.” Dom complained fifteen minutes into the double period, three days before the term was over. Dom and Fred were his anomalous students – they were always enthusiastic, a little too enthusiastic maybe, but he was entirely sure they didn’t really care about muggles or studying them.
Today, Dom was sporting a pair of elf ears jauntily placed on her head, whereas Fred had opted for reindeer antlers – he appreciated this references to muggle culture, but was slightly unsure whether it was appropriate or not. He often found himself asking that sort of thing around those two.
“Sir, I’ve asked my dad for some muggle drinks for Christmas, I thought we could all have a taster session.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Archibald nodded. Saved him planning a lesson, “wait,” he said after a second, “no – not a good idea.” By the look on their faces he could guess what kind of drinks they meant.
“We’re all of age, sir, so it wouldn’t be against the rules.” Dom added in helpfully.
“When did you turn seventeen?” Archibald asked her curiously. On Fred’s birthday he’d managed to acquire a cake with the face of a teletubby on the front (Archibald was really at a loss of how he’d gotten it – his own collection of teletubbies memorabilia contained nothing quite as exciting as a cake) which had resulted in Archibald having to explain what teletubbies were to an unprecedented amount of people. The strange thing was everyone seemed to think he was more insane for embracing muggle culture after the explanation, although that may have been down to the impression (big hug!).
Anyway, he couldn’t imagine that Dom would have let her birthday slip by without a similar, if not more ridiculous, incident.
“Well it’s in March – but I’ve got my sister’s ID, so...”
“I should report you for that.” Archibald muttered, rolling his eyes and pointedly turned up the volume of the film.
Dom poked the boy in front of her with her novelty flamingo pen (oh, how proud Archibald was); “whatcha getting for Christmas, Xavier?”
Archibald resisted the urge to suggest ‘x-box’ purely because Xavier Boxton hadn’t understood the concept at all, and had threatened to file a complaint against him unless he deceased with the nickname. Bloody spoilt brat. Nobody appreciated geeky muggle jokes anymore. Besides, it wasn’t like muggle children still had X-boxes these days.
Xavier looked up from taking notes in his exercise book (Archibald had mass ordered exercise books for half of his classes. His entire fourth year group had filled in the subject line with ‘doss studies’ and the form line with ‘Archie’s minions’ but Archie had been so surprised by the organisation and the coordination that this must have taken the bunch of buffoons that he still considered this a success).
“New broom.” Xavier grunted. They could blame deteriorating language skills on muggle technology all they liked, but it seemed that even wizarding kids were unable to talk in anything more than elliptical sentences. He doubted Xavier Boxton even knew what a preposition was; let alone how to use one.
“Imma getting a vacuum cleaner – for ornamental reasons.”
“I’ve told you Dom, bring it over to Ron and Hermione’s – they’ve got electricity. Then you could vacuum up Lily and she’d stop being a spoilt brat.”
“I’ve asked for a bicycle,” Gina McLaggen said, Archie looked up feeling startled: Gina usually spent every period of muggle studies angstily colouring in her fingernail’s black with her Raven quill (Hogwarts’ answer to the emo culture – not half as dramatic, Archie thought). Unless she had similar abilities to those groovy extra absorbent muggle sponges, he’d thought the only thing she’d get out of muggle studies was ink poisoning. Yet it seemed she’d remembered something of the four hours he’d spent explaining muggle methods of travel! Finally the forty five minutes he’d spent explaining the London underground felt worthwhile! “To help mum with the washing up, you know, but I don’t think she’ll get one – dad is clueless about things like that.”
Nope. Dreams crushed. Just another day in the life, Archie supposed.
“Aren’t bikes those things with wheels?” Xavier asked, flicking back through the pages of his notebook with an expression which seemed to indicate extreme misfortune rather than confusion about bicycles. He was chubby too. Not his favourite student, all things considered.
“I’ll bring mine in after Christmas.” Archibald said with a sigh.
“You’ve got a bike?” Dom asked gleefully, “Can I ride it?”
“Not after the incident with the space hopper.”
“Fred pushed me!” Whined Miss Barbie from the back row, well technically her real name was Shelly but quite frankly it amounted to the same thing. She was currently painting her nails fuchsia but at least she was listening whilst simultaneously stinking his classroom out. Recently she’d developed a habit of not looking at Archibald in the eye, which Archibald was generally quite glad about – it meant he didn’t have to be scared he’s say something inappropriate about Shelly’s dislike of charms or be terrified of her killer nails becoming a little too intimate with his eyeballs. “It wasn’t my fault the window broke!”
“Are you doing anything exciting over the holiday professor?” Dom asked cheerfully, her elf ears slipping as she cocked her head to one side like an over excited puppy.
“Yes actually, Weasley, my girlfriend and I are going on a muggle tour.”
“Is she a muggle nut too?” Fred asked.
“No, well, not exactly. I haven’t told her about the holiday yet – surprise,”
“She probably won’t like it.” Gina said, drawing festive branches of holly on her arms. Oh no, wait, on closer inspection he was pretty sure that she was attempting to draw barbed wire. She wasn’t very good at art either then. Just angst.
“She’s interested in my job,” Archibald said, suddenly feeling slightly unsure. His mother had often thrust books containing relationship advice in his direction (mostly when he turned thirty five and he still wasn't married) and in the end he had read the ones by muggle authors – primarily to understand more of the culture, of course – and he’d thought that he ticked the ‘being yourself' boxes by inviting her on the holiday-of-a-lifetime. “The tour looks really exciting, too, you’re not allowed to bring your wand and then you have to cook for yourself and you stay in muggle hotels and visit muggle points of interest and -”
“So you’d probably be getting an airport then?”
“Aeroplane, Boxton, but no it’s all in England!”
“Isn’t it going to be cold?” Barbie/Shelly said from the back, blowing on her nails to dry them off. She’d probably whack her toes out in a minute, “does she like freezing to death in rubbish muggle hotels when the central heating’s broken and you can’t turn the gas on so you can’t eat anything warm?”
“Speaking from experience, Shells?” Dom asked.
“My parents decided to get divorced on a muggle tour,” She said sounding thoroughly bored, “and that was the best bit of the holiday – at least after that we were allowed to go home. Well, mum wasn’t – but that’s beside the point.”
“Oh,” Archibald said. He’d whimsically thought they’d be sitting in front of open fires and roasting marshmallows (amongst other things) but...
“Never mind,” Dom said bracingly, “you could always join one of those muggle dating sites.”
“Quirky male, age fifty.” Fred began with a grin.
“Don’t be silly, he’s not a day over twenty five,” Dom grinned, “teacher, dark brown hair, interested in either gender...”
“Probably has commitment issues.” Gina said, looking up from her doodling – now a slightly decapitated santa clause. Poor girl.
“Poor fashion sense.” Miss Barbie chirped up, adding a third coat of nail varnish to her nails.
“Obsessed with computer gaming,” Xavier said grumpily, still writing notes about goodness knows what. It really wasn’t like anything educational was going on at this moment in time – the kid should really learn now to chill out. They were watching a film, for Merlin’s sake, and no one even seemed to be watching that.
“Looking for somebody, please!” Dom finished with a dramatic flourish which sent her elf ears flying across the classroom. They hit Spencer Edgecombe on the head but he was asleep so it didn’t really matter much.
“What’s the difference between a tricycle and a bicycle?” Muggle nut extraordinaire, Boris Belby asked eagerly. He’d been so fixated on watching the film (and a jolly good film it was too) that Archibald hadn’t been continually reminded of his really rather irritating presence, but now it seemed – all too soon – the credits were rolling and he’d missed that terrible emotional ending to such a classic story of love, childhood and naivety, “is it just the number of wheels... or is it the general target audience of the vehicle? And what’s a unicycle? Are they only used by children’s entertainers or...?”
“Why don’t you try work that out Belby? In fact, that’s your holiday homework – I want a page of notes about the difference between bicycles, unicycles and tricycles and whom you might expect to use them, the purpose of them ect... for the first day back! We have a double period, I do believe, and I will bring my bicycle in and the person who has the best notes may get a turn – or maybe not,” he said quickly, because he wasn’t letting Fred Weasley anywhere near his bicycle, “we’ll see.”
Gina scrunched up her face, which was pretty woeful at the best of time, and pouted at him slightly. There was an air of distinct tension about the room. Normally, Archibald Penrose did not set such things as ‘holiday homework.’
“Could we just do a poster instead?” Gina said hopefully, and then everyone seemed to relax – Xavier returned to making notes (was he writing a novel or something?), Dom continued trying to retrieve her elf ears without waking up Spencer, Fred returned to doing not very much and Shelly/Barbie continue doing something complicated to her nails that made them reflective.
“Fine,” Archibald sighed, slumping down on the edge of the desk, “knock yourself out.”
It was sad that he felt the need to add 'not literally' onto the end of that sentence. There was something in Fred Weasley's eyes that made him think it would be unwise not to...
- Again, this isn't edited because I'm terrible but its NaNo but I felt strange not having anything in the queue so... here we go. Chapter two. Enjoy, review, ect :)
Also, just to add - I don't own any of the things mentioned in this chapter. All thoes films? Not mine...
Miracle on 34th Street belongs to 20th Centuary Fox
The Notebook belongs to New Line Cinema based on a book by Nicola Sparks
Star Wars belongs to 20th Centuary Fox/George Lucas
Mean Girls - Paramount pictures
Grease - Paramount pictures
Teletubbies - Ragdoll productions
Bicycles? Also not mine. Damn.
Over and out.
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