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Chapter 3 : Compulsions and Convulsions
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Thirty three students (+ student 'helpers').
Archibald Penrose had now been patrolling for two hours. He’d practically assaulted the Charming Charms teacher with his eagerness to take over her patrolling-shift, half locking her back in her office as he continued to pace up and down the corridor pretending that he was actually doing something. She was new, so he supposed she might buy the story he’d sold her (really didn’t mind patrolling, walking around helped him clear his head, dreadful migraine, no need for two of them to do it), but mostly she probably thought he was doing something quite illegal and just wanted her out the way.
This wasn’t strictly true. The problem was the Headmistress wanted to see Archibald in his office pronto and the more things Archibald managed to find to do in random parts of the castle the longer it would take for Aurora Sinstra to find him and drag him, kicking and screaming into her office. Then, he suspected, he’d either be presented with another letter of complaint, a pay reduction or would be fired – and he really wasn’t in the mood right now.
He’d have to return to Nottingham and, really, his girlfriend was already irritated enough at him without them having to actually co-inhabit the same apartment. That was bad enough over the summer holidays.
Neville had given him the heads up over dinner and thus Archibald Penrose had hurriedly placed down his cutlery and said something incomprehensible about extra-curricular activities, had taken on three separate teacher’s patrolling duties and had thought of several ways he could pitch Muggle Studies as a valuable aspect of the curriculum that shouldn’t be dropped, just in case.
“Archie!” Michael Corner said cheerfully and Archibald knew that this amount of happiness radiating from one of his co-worker meant he should be aware of where his wand was at all times. And possibly a gun.
“Got to... er, dash.” Archibald said quickly, turning back down the corridor and walking as fast as he could in the other direction. He found himself in the entrance hall and thought, to hell with it, pushed the large double doors open and stumbled outside. He found himself walking to Hagrid’s hut to give him some reason for wondering around the grounds at night. He searched around for something that could determine the reason behind the visit (he really was not a sociable man). His mind settled on the date: first of November. Four days to go. That was a good enough excuse. Bonfire night.
“-I can’t,” Archibald told Aurora Sinistra quickly, “I can’t... there’s... I’ve got lots of things on.”
“What?” The Headmistress asked, raising one of her skeletal eyebrows in his direction and tilting her head dangerously.
“I’m organising a... Bonfire night thing. I was talking to Hagrid about where would be best to build a fire I... I won’t have time.
“Archie,” Aurora began, and Archibald knew this battle was already lost, “there is no way we can give every single student caught trick or treating in front of the muggle villages of Hogsmeade a criminal record. It’s simply not feasible. There were over thirty students. So, the Ministry is demanding an alternative – that alternative is a course of intensive, compulsory Muggle Studies lessons. You are our Muggle Studies teacher. Of course, if you’d prefer for me to find someone more willing to take on the responsibilities of the job...”
Archibald repressed the desire to tell her that yes, actually, he’d be much obliged if she replaced him with some other strange, kooky muggle nut who’d invariably believe that they would be the one to finally make Muggle Studies exciting for everyone. With a set of compulsory Muggle Studies lessons lined up until Christmas, they wouldn’t last a week.
It was bad enough teaching students who’d selected Muggle Studies – the reasons behind the bizarre choice not withstanding – but to teach a bunch of students who’s interested in the Muggles stretched to adopting the Halloween tradition of trick or treating into illegal muggle bating was... well... not appetising.
This was why the Wizarding world needed ASBOs.
Archie was beginning to become quite scared of how vivid the day dreams of hurting Professor Michael Corner and Professor Terry Boot were becoming since they had suggested ‘student helpers’ so innocently. Of course, the students that actually volunteered to help him run these God awful compulsory Muggle Studies lessons were going to be even weirder than the ones who picked Muggle Studies in the first place. He wasn’t sure he was entirely prepared for things to get weirder.
There was the usual anomaly when it came to the number of students from his sixth year group who’d popped along to help out – Dom and Freddie (of course, they always seemed to be involved somehow) along with Borris and Gina, who was looking particularly angsty today. Shelly, it seemed, was still desperately trying to avoid him. A surprising lack of blonde representatives, just the giggling Nina, and then the entire quartet of seventh years. He hadn’t asked the younger students – he didn’t want to single them out for the bullies any more than they were already.
“Watch out, Sir,” Fred said in a carrying voice, “Guy’s on the warpath. He feels like his dementor Halloween costume didn’t really classify as breaking the statute of secrecy, so he doesn’t want to be here.”
Archibald very much wanted to ask who does? But the answer to that was the bunch of loyal misfits who’d turned up to help out, and it would hardly do to offend them too.
“Guy?” Archibald questioned. “As in, his name is just guy. Like the gender.”
“Guy Hamish Fawkes MacFarlan.” Dom added happily.
“His... his name is Guy Fawkes?” Archibald questioned, suddenly feeling quite excited about what he had planned. Then he remembered that the plan also involved fireworks, a bonfire and Freddie Weasley. The excitement waned.
“This is Thomas Hardy,” Dom said brightly, “he’s hard.” She added, flicking her fingers in a way that Archibald rather hoped was ironic. Still, that was Muggle Culture right there – he’d definitely seen a TV show where there’d been lots of pre-teens wearing hoods, lots of gold chains and rather ridiculous hats placed at jaunty angles. Thomas Hardy seemed to be attempting to emulate this chav stereotype: the usual pointed wizard-hat had been crumpled to the point of absurdity and was almost definitely on backwards, his robes had been brought several sizes too big making Archibald want to stand on the edge and see how far he’d could walk away before he tripped over, and his own variety of against-uniform-policy gold chains that probably weren’t gold.
“Daniel Harrison Lawrence.” Thomas Hardy’s friend and partner-in-fashion said, jerking his neck in a way that made it seem like his ridiculously posh name should be impressive in some way. Add in the fact that is voice seemed to be thick with an odd mixture of brummy, cockney and undertones that just screamed of something more middle class... He wished he had a dictionary at hand to throw at him – he rather thought he might need it.
“Thomas Hardy and... DH Lawrence?” Archibald asked slowly, the usual wash of disbelieving amusement washing over him. Wizards really were thick.
“Yeah.” Daniel Harrison Lawrence said, doing the weird neck-jerk again.
“How much do you love your mother?” Archibald asked before he could stop himself.
His face crumpled and creased in quite an alarming fashion.
“It doesn’t matter.” Archibald said, silently and ironically branding them as the lit duo for the rest of time and pointing to their assigned seats feeling particularly grim.
“Who else are we waiting for?” Dom asked, stretching up on her tip toes to glance at the list in Archie’s hand. “Oh, John Jigger’s nice! Katie Price isn’t too bad, I suppose.” Archie decided not to comment on that one. He didn’t trust himself. “Doris Dingle! Ah, Penelope Pilliwickle is always good value.” He had to admit that with surnames like Jigger, Dingle and Pilliwickle it wasn’t hard to understand why some Wizards thought such ridiculous first names were acceptable. “John Watson...” Dom continued.
“Sorry?” Archibald asked, looking back down at the list and trying to find that last one. He’d missed that name on the list; maybe such a beautiful occurrence had been lost amongst the obscure. “I didn’t see...”
The name most definitely wasn’t there.
“Struggling with observations?” Dom offered him a grin.
“You just made a muggle joke.” Archibald said, feeling something akin to pride stirring up in his stomach.
“We’ll make a Sherlock Holmes out of you yet.” Dom grinned.
Archibald shook his head slightly. There was good in the world.
“No, Jigger – don’t snigger at me.” Dear Lord, his rants had succumbed to actually rhyming. That didn’t help the current state of his classroom and as much as Archibald liked to think he could pull off strict teacher he hadn’t bothered attempting it for awhile, and it wasn’t going well.
“Muggles are just thick, ennit.”
“No they’re not. The reason the statute of Secrecy holds up is because every time a moron like one of you lot exposes muggles to magic they have to run around playing catch up and obliviating innocent -”
“- I wish I could obliviate this from my memory.” Guy MacFarlan muttered, to another snigger from John Jigger.
“- meaning their memory is permanently damaged. Does anyone know how severe the effects of memory charms can be?”
“That Goliath Lockhart kid... his Dad had his memories wiped.”
“And look at him.” Freddie put in, giving Archibald a thumbs up as if he was being remotely helpful. He wasn’t. Still, fair point.
“Look,” Archibald said, glancing round the classroom with a feeling of utter distaste, “you need to respect muggles. You can’t just dress up as dementors and pull out your wands in front of them just because you don’t understand. That’s how wars start.”
He glanced round at his student ‘helpers’: Borris had his face crunched up in concentration and was somehow still writing notes, Gina was colouring in the wrinkles in her knuckles nails with her quill, Elliot Cooper was looking obnoxious and smug and a little irritated, Vicky probably didn’t know where she was and both Ronald McDonald and Simon ‘Squeaky’ Fawcett looked slightly vacant and bored. Fred leaned forward and quietly suggested “how about you get the space hoper out again?”
“So,” Archibald continued, trying not to lose heart, “in these lessons you’ll be learning a couple of the differences between Wizarding and Muggle culture, just so your ignorance doesn’t suffocate you completely. We’ll start basic as you’re clearly a bunch of delinquents.”
Archibald dug around in his desk and pulled out a wad of lined paper, a packet of pencils and a pack of cheep biros. “Ink and parchment alternatives.” Archibald said, walking up the row of students and dropping a pen and a few sheets of paper on each desk. “Vicky, why don’t you explain the differences between parchment and paper?”
“Parchment... is thicker.”
“Thicker than what?” James Herriot (Archibald was still woefully amused, but was too scared he was going to get punched in the face to comment on it). “Surely not thicker than you, Vicky.”
“What was your involvement in the events on Thursday night?” Archibald asked sharply, over the jeering and general use of foul language that was being thrown around his classroom. No one insulted the intelligence of his pupils but him – it wasn’t decent.
“I sent a jet of water at a muggle out of my wand,” He said arrogantly, “she needed to cool down.”
“Well,” James said, sending a look round the classroom before turning back to the front, “we went up to her and we said ‘trick or treat’. She said she’d didn’t have no sweets cause she was just walking back from the pub, and that I weren’t dressed up neither. So then I said I’d just take her money and she got angry.”
“You do realise that’s not even trick or treating? I’m pretty sure that’s classified as mugging. Anyway, Herriot, you obviously don’t think you need to be here. That’s fine by me. I’m actually a little insulted that I have to let you in to my classroom. But, you’re lucky that all your friends are just as stupid as you – because if it wasn’t for the fact that the Ministry doesn’t want to embarrass themselves by how little progress they’ve made with muggle relations. But, the point is Herriot, next time you attempt to mug a muggle, you’re going to have a permanent black mark on your record. Then, the next time you perform magic in front of a muggle, they’re going to take away your wand and, you know what? I can’t wait until you walk into your first day at a muggle job, because you can’t work anywhere else and they fire you because you don’t know how to use a muggle pen. For future reference,” he finished, holding the pen in front of his face, “you click the top bit.”
Archibald walked back up to the front of the classroom feeling slightly elated by the absolute silence that had fallen over the classroom. He’d dreamed of moments like this.
“What you want us to do with the paper?” Thomas Hardy asked.
“I don’t know,” Archibald said irritably, “write a lot of whiny poetry? Okay, no... write down five things you used magic for today.”
“It doesn’t smudge.” Penelope Pilliwickle said, sounding quite delighted.
Archibald wanted to engage her in a conversation about the extensive selection of novelty pens in his office, but thought that now possibly wasn’t the time.
“Now, when you’ve done that – although I’ll give you a little longer, I know the English language is complicated for some of you – we’re going to go through and talk about what you’d have to do if you were a muggle. Okay, any questions?”
“What’s the point?”
“Were you just not listening before?” Archibald muttered irritably. “I know none of you want to be here. I certainly don’t want to be here. I don’t care of your enjoying it or not, but you will listen to what I say or you’ll be in detention until you graduate from this place. Unless you drop out to go to prison, in which case I hope you can enjoy dressing up as dementors as much in Azkaban.”
“No,” a slightly tearful looking Doris Dingle said, “I mean, what’s the pointy bit of the pencil for? Just because, I’ve broken the point off mine...”
“Muggle fireworks are a bit boring.” Dom commented, spit roasting her marshmallow over the questionable bonfire. In reality, it was more of a campfire than a bonfire but given he’d given his compulsory-students the encouragement (read: bribery) that those who got top scores on the test could come along to the Bonfire night celebrations and get free marshmallows... well, he’d decided that having a nice, small, controlled fire was preferable.
“I liked them,” Penelope Pilliwickle said brightly, “they were pretty.”
“Watching Penrose try to light ‘em was proper funny.” Thomas Hardy said, in his usual eloquent prose. Still, the Lit Duo had been lured onwards by the promise of food and had apparently jinxed Elliot Cooper and threatened him until he told them everything he could about muggle culture – which, as far as Archie was concerned, was a win on all accounts. He’d certainly impressed Aurora Sinistra with the enthusiasm he’d managed to generate amongst some of his compulsory pupils (although James Herriot had remained aloof and uninterested and despite his greatest hopes, the only question Guy Hamish Fawkes MacFarlan had been able to answer had been about muggle cigarettes). Still, there wasn’t much the promise of a great big fire and some free food couldn’t do.
They should have mentioned that at some point in his training course.
“Well,” Archibald said dryly, “I’m honoured to have amused you.”
“Ignore him,” Miss Barbie said, “he’s just bitter because he’s signed his robes.”
“Good to have you join us, Skively.” Archibald countered with a small smile. He was actually really quite happy. There was something quite nice about sitting round a fire with his pupils – and Hagrid, Neville and the Charming Charms teacher for extra supervision – watching them quite calmly toast marshmallows and marvel over the excitement of Guy Fawkes trying to blow up parliament. Admittedly, Fred had taken the remember, remember the fifth of November chant a little bit too far, but those sorts of things were nothing compared to how truly terrible the daily compulsory lessons had been.
And, yes, he’d had to ban most of his students from using the sparklers but that hadn’t exactly been a surprise. And it was probably for the best that Hugo Weasley learnt that sort of language at this point, rather than stumbling across it in a situation where Fred was available to explain and define what each choice swear word meant. Really, it was healthier this way.
“Well,” she shrugged, “Gina said that you’d delivered some fantastic rants.”
“I heard you made Doris Dingle cry,” Kevin Pips added, with a sort of expression that was like a smile but had a lot more attitude attached to it, “by telling her she was going to go to prison.”
The Charming Charms teacher looked slightly alarmed. No doubt she was the type to tell all her students that they were all going to fulfil their potential and get their dream jobs. And she seemed charming enough that it wouldn’t seem patronising.
“You shouldn’t believe gossip, Pips.”
“But it was totally true,” Lily Potter added in an undertone, “Freddie told me.”
“You shouldn’t believe Fred Weasley either.” Archibald said, glancing over to where Fred Weasley was winding up Hagrid with talk of how dangerous hippogriffs were. Archibald very much thought that Fred Weasley didn’t consider anything to be truly dangerous, but more fun. Like irritating a half giant.
Scorpius, Locran and Lysander were doing something strange and probably blonde-related on the other side of the fire – possibly talking to Neville, who was fond of the peculiar trio. He could hear Nina giggling somewhere. Goliath Lockhart was talking at people. Hugo was annoying Elliot Cooper with lots of questions about the Lord of the Rings. Hardly any of his horrific forth year group had turned up. All together, everything felt rather nice.
A very loud, high pitched, swear word pierced the air.
“Vicky!” Simon ‘Squeaky’ Fawcett continued. “Drop it! It’s on fire!”
Archibald stumbled to his feet to be met with the sight of Vicky rather stupidly staring at the stick she’d been using to melt her now burning Marshmallows, which had caught alight rather spectacularly.
“Don’t drop it on my stuff!” Elliot Cooper yelled.
“Your stuff isn’t important right now, Cooper,” Shelly yelled, “in fact, your stuff is never important.”
“Drop it you idiot!” Simon yelled, knocking the burning stick out of Vicky’s hand and sending it flying towards the blondes, who scrabbled outwards and sent the entire pack of marshmallows into the greedy bonfire flames.
“I’m not an idiot.” Vicky protested.
“You’re all idiots!” Elliot yelled.
“THE MARSHMALLOWS.” Dom screamed. Archibald was going to need an ear transplant after that performance. Ah, melodrama.
“The grass is on fire!”
“We’re not actually muggles you know!” Elliot said, pulling out his wand and sending a jet of water at the singular blade of grass that seemed to have caught fire. His efforts were rather too enthusiastic and had just about doused the entire bonfire/campfire to nothing when Shelly threw something at him.
“Huh,” Penelope Pilliwickle said, blinking rapidly, “I guess we could have done with James Herriot being here,” She looked up at him conversationally, “he’s quite good at water spells.”
“Muggle Studies is fun,” Thomas Hardy commented, “ennit.”
This one contained a lot of references to other things which aren't mine. The "how much do you love your mother" line is referring to Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence. Whiny poetry comment was in reference to Thomas Hardy. I couldn't resist a Sherlock Holmes reference or two (what with RDJ on the banner and all) so obviously that's Conan Doyle's. The name 'James Herriot' is borrowed from a character from 'All Creatures Great and Small'. You can probably only see these things if you squint, anyway, but... well... they're not mine. I just really enjoyed throwing them in there. It's one of those days. I actually just flat out had a lot of fun this one. Hope you guys enjoyed the first chapter of Muggle Studies month? Oh, yeah! TheGoldenKneazle gets credit for the idea of calling a character Guy Fawkes and that they should celebrate Bonfire Night in this chapter. Reviews would be lovely :)
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