Chapter 7 : Charming Assessments
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Fourteen students (plus a Charming Charms teacher).
Archibald Penrose had actually left his classroom during his free period, which was something that he rarely felt the need to do. Usually he was more than happy to spend the hour, or more if it was a good day, sitting with his feet up and engrossing himself in another novel (muggle, of course) and ignoring everyone who happened to try and disturb him in every way.
He attended dinner with the rest of the staff, showed his face in the staff room (and usually his efforts resulted in merciless laughter and mockery) and even joined them in the Three Broomsticks at the weekends – which he thought made him classify as sociable, but for the third time this month Terry Boot and Michael Corner had ganged up on him and declared that he was a recluse and thus Archibald was making the trek towards the Staff Room.
“Well,” Archibald heard the Charming Charms teacher say down the corridor, “I’m obviously going to be reporting you to your Heads of house -”
“How?” Another voice demanded, one that Archibald remembered only too well. The sort of voice that haunted his nightmares continually, particularly whenever Neville Longbottom had made him one of his cups of herbal tea. “You don’t know our names, so how can you report us?”
“You’re going to tell me your names.” The Charming Charms teacher said, falling just short of the authoritative tone that she was attempting. Normally, Archibald rejoiced in other teachers flailing along and messing up but the Charms teacher was both charming and new – and Archibald couldn’t help but feel slightly sorry for the woman.
“So whatcha gonna do?” The other demanded.
“A simple description would probably suffice,” Archibald commented, walking down the corridor to stand side by side with the Charming Charms teacher, “two imbeciles with limited job prospects, stupid hats and even more ridiculous ‘g’ accents covering up an even more ridiculous middle class Bristol accent. Advice, Lawrence, if you really are attempting to replicate the Muggle ‘Chav’ do change your name from Daniel Harrison – it doesn’t fit with your image. These two would be Daniel Harrison Lawrence and Thomas Hardy, Professor Scrivenshaft. Seventh years. What have they been doing this time?”
“Graffiti,” she answered, “they appear to have attempted to paint some sort of symbol on the wall outside my classroom.”
“I’d ask if it meant anything, but I’m not entirely sure they’ve quite grasped the ability to write – ironically enough.”
“Students of yours, Professor Penrose?”
“Oh, no,” Archibald returned with a smile, “they didn’t seem up for a subject as rigorous as Muggle Studies, I had the pleasure of teaching these two students in remedial Muggle Studies after the unfortunate Halloween incident.”
“Hardy, Lawrence, off with you,” The Charming Charms teacher said, “but rest assured, your Head of Houses will definitely find out about this.”
“Slaters!” Archibald called after them in his best mocking tone, feeling rather satisfied with his decision to leave the classroom – he did love a chance to insult students and mock them for being ridiculous.
“I’ve been here over half a year, and still...”
“I’d like to say it gets better,” Archibald said, “but I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
“You’re very good at remembering names,” The Charming Charms teacher said, smiling in that usual friendly way of hers, “I’m hopeless.”
“Well, those two are easy,” Archibald said, “DH Lawrence and Tom Hardy are both muggle authors, quite famous ones really, so... well, I refer to them as the Lit Duo.”
“A bad habit of mine.”
“Better than a lot of bad habits.”
“One of many, I assure you.”
“Do I have a nickname?”
“Go on.” She smiled, flashing her row of straight white teeth. Archibald hated to admit these things, but he could see where Miss Barbie was coming from – for a charms teacher, she was very charming.
“You’re... the Charming Charms teacher.” Archibald admitted, wondering whether or not he should be mortally embarrassed or not – a question that he asked himself at least four times a day. If Dom or Freddie were around, this was to be multiplied by the number of caffeinated drinks they’d had that morning.
The Charming Charm teacher blushed.
If Archibald was honest (which was something that he didn’t do very often as a teacher) the reason he’d wanted to be sociable was purely down to peer assessment week: where every teacher was to be partnered up with another teacher, observe the other teachers classes, be observed and offer formal feedback. It was some bizarre idea enforced by the Ministry to ensure that teachers continued to learn after the fourteen day training course he’d been required to take before taking the job.
As Archibald could hardly consider himself as one of the ‘it teachers’ that were popular amongst their peers – he was more of a joke than Neville, for God’s sake – he’d thought it wise to immerse himself into social situations before the pairs were released, but given all he’d managed to achieve was making the lovely Dionne Scrivenshaft embarrassed and causing Terry Boot and Michael Corner to laugh at him until he thought his ears were going to start bleeding, it didn’t seem like the most successful endeavours.
Peer assessment week was brutal. It was Hogwarts tradition that when you were ‘observing’ you had to cause as much physical embarrassment to the other teacher as possible: one year Terry Boot had once suggested that Archibald’s love of muggles was sometimes borderline inappropriate in front of his group of fifth years, another Archibald had told a whole class of first years about Michael Corner’s divorce and on the year Archibald had been partnered with Professor Trelawney – who famously didn’t join in with anything – she’d loudly and persistently had ‘visions’ of all Archibald’s students failing due to his incompetence.
Given this year, at that dratted new year’s party, Archibald had been goaded into tell the entire population of Hogwarts teachers the gritty details over why muggle cruises end in fantastical break ups (right before he’d agreed to that bet about not doing magic for a month), he very much suspected that by the end of peer assessment week every one of his students would be able to resite the story by heart.
He’d been prepared for this since the first of January, when the full consequences of his actions had really hit home (along with mild nausea and a killer headache – bloody teachers parties). Still, he could only imagine what his students would do with that sort of knowledge.
And it wasn’t pretty.
“Who are you hoping for, Archie?” Neville asked, his round face clearly showing that he, too, knew that the worse was coming.
“Not Boot or Corner,” Archibald muttered in response, “I hope they get each other and slowly tear each other apart.”
“I want Trelawney,” Neville said feebly, “she’d just tell everyone about how I used to be clumsy.”
“This is Scrivenshaft’s first year,” Terry Boot said, sitting down next to Archie (internally, Archie swore) and joining their conversation seamlessly, “she doesn’t know about the tradition.”
“Whoever gets our favourite charms teacher,” Michael Corner continued, as where there was one there was always the other (the epitome of a bromance), “will be very lucky indeed.”
“The classic don’t humiliate them until the last lesson approach.” Terry nodded.
“She needs to learn, after all.”
“And who wouldn’t want to spend hours observing Dionne Scrivenshaft?”
Archibald fought a smile at this and exchanged a look with Neville (who, as Miss Barbie’s head of house had been informed about her little situation). She really was charming.
“I’ll make it my personal mission to get back at whichever lucky idiot gets Miss Dionne Scrivenshaft.” Michael finished.
“So,” Dionne Scrivenshaft said, walking around Archibald’s empty classroom as they waited for the students to actually turn up, “what am I letting myself in for?”
“Well,” Archibald said, pushing his register towards her with a grimace, “you’re in for a treat: my fifth years, otherwise known as the blonde mob.”
“Are they usually this late?” Dionne asked.
“Yes,” Archibald muttered, “they’ll be doing their hair. Ah, Scamander!” Archibald declared as Locran/Lysander (Archibald neither had the time nor the inclination to work out which was which) pushed open the door with Scorpius in tow. “It’s my general opinion that the reason these three are friends is because it’s aesthetically pleasing and because they understand the woes of being platinum blondes, but there you go. Miss Scrivenshaft is observing us today. I assume you know her.”
Chelsea and Shantelle were the next to arrive, and Archie introduced them with a gesture to their questionable blonde hair and the comment, “fake blondes.”
They were muggle born cousins, but rather than being in Muggle Studies to show off their supreme muggle knowledge, they were actually just too stupid to take any other classes. Archibald often thought that they’d been sent Hogwarts letters by accident and no one had the heart to tell them of their mistake. He’d never seen them perform magic, in any case.
The usual stream of blondes followed, trickling in over a period of ten minutes – which was quite good for his fifth year class. Then again, the students knew the Peer assessment week traditions as much as the teachers did. They’d be waiting for the habitual humiliation to begin.
“Nina as a resident brunet,” Archibald said as the ever-giggling-Nina arrived and took her seat by the almost-normal Emma, “Francis never turns up, so we might as well start.”
“Today we’re continuing our study of Muggle medicine, now, who wants to tell Professor Scrivenshaft what we’ve covered so far? Malfoy?”
Scorpius Malfoy had, from what Archibald could assume, picked Muggle Studies as a sort of rebellion. And as, the three platinum blonde boys couldn’t possibly be apart, he’d landed both Locran and Lysander too. Still, they were eager enough and just fine – providing you’d brought your sunglasses.
“Muggle Healers are called Doctors,” Scorpius muttered, “and the inject people with things.”
“Vacuums.” Lysander nodded.
Nina began to giggle. Damn muggle born students.
“Vaccines,” Archibald corrected, “and does anyone remember how they work?”
“They inject you with a sort of... mild version of the illness and then your body sort of learns how to kill the illness?”
“Near enough,” Archibald said, “so, today we’re going on to -”
“Can we try injections on each other?”
“As tempting as it is to say yes, it would be quite awkward for me to explain if you all died. Particularly with Professor Scrivenshaft as a witness,” Archibald said, rummaging around on his desk and pulling out a wad of sheets. “Answer the questions on these sheets in pairs, and we’ll feedback in ten minute.”
“Have you got a needle, sir?” Scorpius asked, his blonde eyebrows knitting together. It didn’t matter whose child the teenager was, or what they were interested in, or how clever they were – no student could resist the backchat.
“I wish,” Archibald muttered, “get on with the sheet, Blondie.”
“They are very blonde,” Dionne said quietly as the fifth years resumed their chatter about a number of subjects that Archibald was sure wouldn’t have anything to do with muggles, “I guess your nick names are all quite accurate then.”
“I do my best.”
“Dom Weasley?” Archibald asked, looking up sharply to see Dom sat at the back of the classroom in a baseball cap trying to look inconspicuous. “Weasley, get out of here. Go study for your NEWTs or something. How did you even sneak in here?”
“Right,” Archibald said, “figures.”
“We need to talk Archie,” Terry Boot said, appearing in the middle of the corridor, “it’s four days into peer assessment week and you’ve done nothing to humiliate Scrivenshaft.”
“Well, Dionne hasn’t done anything to humiliate me either.”
“Because she doesn’t know the tradition!” Terry exclaimed. “Don’t let me down here, Archie, I know we clipped the wheels of your ridiculous bicycle – but it’s all in good humour! You were only in the hospital wing for ten minutes. Archie, come on, let me help you destroy her.”
“You put Skunk’s roots in Neville’s boots,” Archie said levelly, “that’s hardly destruction.”
“Oh,” Terry grinned, “but I haven’t finished yet. He thinks it’s over. He doesn’t know about the events I’ve organised for his last observed lesson. Come on, Archie my man, let’s do this together. I’ve been digging and she got kicked out of the Leaky Cauldron for -”
“No,” Archibald said firmly, “it’s a stupid tradition anyway.”
“You’re going to regret that.” Terry added ominously.
Archibald didn’t doubt that.
Despite Terry Boot’s threat, Archibald felt like he’d had the best peer assessment week of his life. For once he’d made it through the entire Monday-Friday period without feeling so embarrassed that he considered handing in his resignation and becoming a Muggle. Admittedly, the usual horror of the teacher he was forced to observe was a fair consolation prize, but he was not in a position where he’d ever managed to win.
Now, he was about to walk into his last observed lesson – sixth years, this time – and he was safe in the knowledge that the charming charms teacher had no idea she was supposed to do something terrible and horrifyingly embarrassing at Archibald’s expense.
And he was perfectly okay with that.
Plus, he liked the woman and she’d gone up in his estimations as one of his favourite work colleagues (not that this meant much, as he hated just about all of them) and, altogether, he was feeling rather positive as he pushed open the door to his classroom.
His apologise for being slightly late died on his lips as he took in the scene.
Dom had pulled her knees up to her chest and was shaking with silent laughter, whilst Freddie was in tears of mirth. Even Gina, who Archibald often considered to be the personification of teen-angst, was smiling. It was not usually a good thing to have so many cheerful students, particularly in peer assessment week.
“And then,” the charming charms teacher continued, he eyes sparkling as she saw Archie standing in the doorway, “She said ‘it’s like you’d rather have a romantic dinner with your toaster.”
Archibald felt his heart sink slightly, stepped further into the classroom and shut the door behind him. He should have known better.
“And Archie, sorry, Professor Penrose, told her that he genuinely thought the toaster was more interesting than listening to her rants about her mother.”
“Nice break up line.” Dom muttered breathlessly, pressing her fists against her jaw to suppress her laugher.
“Yes,” Archibald interrupted, “then she blew up my microwave.”
Apparently, this was the limit for Dom who finally let the loud peals of hysterics through her lips, followed by several of the usually quiet members of the class joining in the chorus of undiluted mockery.
“If it helps,” Spencer – and, by God, he was conscious – “by the look of the picture in your office, she wasn’t much of a looker.”
Archibald considered it best not to ask whey Spencer had been in his office, or point out that the picture in his office was of his mother.
“Sorry,” Dionne Scrivenshaft, the not so charming charms teacher, smiled, “Terry and Michael talked me into it.”
“Of course they did.” Archibald muttered, sitting down next to her and watching his sixth years laugh.
At least, for once, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. And as Archibald observed (it was still peer assessment week, after all) Dionne’s wide smile, he decided that – to hell with it – he was enjoying himself too.
I couldn't help it. I just started shipping them together. I don't even know where she came from. Reviews are lovely :)
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