Chapter 1 : Wish-there'd-been-more-space hopper.
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It happens a year before the events of Muggle Studies, when Dom, Fred and that class are all fifth years :)
Archibald Penrose was excited. Admittedly, there was the debate about whether it had been worth the teasing he’d gotten when the space hopper had arrived via owl(s) this morning and had been ceremoniously dropped in front of his breakfast, had bounced and hit Neville in the face, before Archibald had been able to reach out and grab one of its handles. Then he’d spent the rest of breakfast trying to justify that it wasn’t some weird muggle blow up doll to Terry Boot whilst reading the irritated note that had come attached to the Space Hopper – apparently Archie’s girlfriend was, once again, rather irritated to receive a letter only with a request that he send more of his ‘muggle junk’ in the post and she’d been even more irritated when she had to drag the ‘blasted thing’ to the post office in Diagon Alley because their owl hadn’t been up to the job by itself.
(He actually found that the image of his girlfriend carrying a Space Hopper though Diagon Alley hilarious and thought that, if anything, her irritation was a complete bonus - he just had to make sure that when she inevitably brought it up over the Easter holidays that he didn’t immediately burst into manic laughter….but Michael Corner had managed to get hold of the note and Archie thought appearing concerned that his girlfriend was pissed was probably more functional and/or advisable than the actual nonplussed reaction).
Still, none of that could take away from the fact that his fifth years were about to have the class of their life. They were about to experience the space hopper.
The ‘childhood experience’ topic had been declared by Dom Weasley as ‘boring’ and since then he’d had a hard job getting them remotely excited about Primary school or babysitters. Dom and Fred Weasley had a remarkable amount of influence amongst their fellow classmates which Archie generally attributed to their magnetism and general ability to make things genuinely fun (at least for them; innocent bystanders and victims might not have the same perspective) that lead to his entire fifth year group taking their word as law. He’d had to change the whole politics, class and culture module because Fred had declared that he didn’t give a rat’s arse about wizarding politics, let alone Muggle politics, and was force to sneakily teach them it via a mock-election. Boris had won. Archibald was still assuming the voting had been ironic, rather than due to like of either Boris or the Lib Dems. Still, he’d been almost out of inspiration as to how to reengage the bunch of bumbling idiots about how exciting growing up muggle could be… then the answer had come to him in a moment of extreme epiphany. A Space Hopper.
No one, not even Voldemort himself, could look upon a space hopper and not be struck by how brilliantly absurd muggles were. They were actually amongst his top three muggle artefacts of all time (rated right up there with the jigsaw and the electric whisk). And it was fair to say that Archibald was a bit of a fan of muggle stuff.
“Right,” Archibald said, leading his fifth years into the corridor and then glancing at all of them, “who wants to volunteer?”
“You haven’t told us what you’re volunteering for.” Boris complained – the usual dulcet tone Archibald had long since associated with boring whining. Merlin, he was a miserable creature.
“I’ll do it.” Fred said eagerly.
Archibald pretended he hadn’t heard him.
“Right,” Archie said, stepping back into his classroom and emerging with the space hopper at hand. Internally, he’d expected an awed silence to follow its dramatic appearance. Instead, there were just a bunch of slightly confused fifth year students who were, no doubt, again debating whether or not they should actually call St Mungos. This particular space Hopper was an alarming shade of Weasley-orange and it’s crudely outlined face looked a tad… murderous, Archie had to admit. But on balance, he thought the slightly alarming appearance of the toy would endear it to the bunch of fifth year nutters. He’d rather thought Fred would have been delighted by its appearance and yet… the reaction as woefully underwhelming. He was slightly disappointed by the following silence, but given Archibald’s career choice he was more than adept at continuing despite perpetually disappointing situations. The show must go on. “This is a space hopper; it’s a kid’s toy.”
“What do you do with it?” Gina asked, folding her arms moodily and blowing a piece of dyed jet back hair out of her face. He was sure last time he'd seen Gina her hair had been green, but it seemed she'd moved from a jealous hair colour to flat out angst. It suited her personality (and she hadn't been overly happy when Archibald had told her that, even though he'd intended this comment to be encouraging and to make her feel better about how washed out she looked after the dramatic hair change).
“You ride it.”
Archibald regretted his choice of words the second they’d left his lips, and the outbursts of sniggering weren’t particularly unpredictable. Evidentially all his space-hopper-related excitement had dulled his teacher’s instinct to the point that he forgot the first rule of teaching – never say anything that could be taken as a euphemism, particularly with Dom or Fred in the vicinity.
“Can you give us a demo, sir?” Dom asked, her shoulders shaking with silent laugher.
Archibald thought about this for a minute. He didn’t think he would actually ever live it down. He could imagine both Michael Corner and Terry Boot approaching just at the wrong moment, as Archie was mid bounce down the corridor... and with peer-assessment week coming up fairly soon, it wasn’t something he entirely wanted to risk.
“Er, no,” He said quickly. He looked around his students in an attempt to find the lesser of the many evils that blinked back at him through the usual thick layer of teen-deodorant and general repulsiveness. Fred and Dom were out – their usual over enthusiasm to the point where he was left questioning whether or not it was ironic couldn’t be good when combined with, well, one of the greatest things to have ever happened in the universe. Boris was annoying. Archibald still hadn’t gotten over the complaint filed by Xavier’s parents and so was still pretending that Xavier didn’t exist. Spencer would, no doubt, fall asleep the second his fat arse wasn’t required to be stood up... Gina was far too angsty to enjoy it, and he really wanted it to be a hit... His eyes fell on Miss Barbie, who was examining her long nails and casually flicking her picture-perfect hair out of her face. Perfect.
“Skively,” Archibald said, gesturing towards the space hopper, “take a seat.”
She sent him a look which made him fear that her nails might soon be embedded in his beloved space hopper, but he was sure even Shelly Skively couldn’t be so cruel to such an innocent object. She sat down gingerly.
“Now grab hold of the handles.” Archibald said.
“They look like the udders of a cow,” Fred said helpfully, “so you could always pretend you were milking it.”
“Thanks for that, Weasley.”
“Pleasure, sir.” Fred said, bouncing all the balls of his feet slightly.
“Now what?” Shelly/Miss Barbie asked through the heavy burden of too much mascara.
“Now,” Archie said with a barely suppressed grin, “you bounce.”
Shelly looked slightly dubious at first, but then after the first fated bounce she seemed to develop slightly more enthusiasm for the whole thing.
“Wow,” Dom breathed, “I want to be a muggle child.”
“Can I go next?” Fred asked, his eyes wide.
“Er...” Archibald said, watching as Shelly bounced her way up and down the corridor, her usually perfect hair flying out behind her. For once, Archibald felt he’d managed to reach a level where it seemed the girl was having fun, “yes, okay.” Archibald said.
This was, quite predictably, a mistake; upon hearing that it was his turn next, Fred began sprinting down the corridor in the space hopers wake, Dom at his side and several other students not far behind.
“Noo!” Shelly yelled, side-hopping away from Fred’s dive and frantically hopping away from the massacre.
“Wait!” Archibald yelled helplessly, as Fred pulled out his wand and tried to immobilise the space hopper with his wand. “You can all take it in turns!” Dom had now grabbed hold of one of the handles and was being drag along in Shelly’s wake. Boris was folding his arms and following behind at a distance, yelling about how they should all share or something boring and crap like that.
“YOU WON’T CATCH ME!” Shelly yelled, heading towards the furthest end of the corridor at top speed.
The next few moments seemed to happen in slow motion. Fred reached out and pushed Shelly in the base of the back, just as Dom sent some sort of spell at the floor – both the space hopper and Shelly travelled in a fantastical arc, leaving the ground much further behind than what the muggle-inventor had no doubt intended, spurred on by Dom’s spell and the momentum of Fred’s push.
Shelly tumbled over the top of the space hopper and began her decent back to the ground, landing with a thump and several swear words that Archibald was sure he hadn’t known until he’d graduated Hogwarts. The space hopper, meanwhile, continued flight until it collided with the great window at the very end of the corridor.
The following smash was the first sign that in the unlikely battle between window and space hopper, the space hopper had actually won. The second was the blood curdling scream from Headmistress Sinistra, who had been taking a stroll around the grounds and had been somewhat surprised to look up and see an unidentified flying object heading towards her head at top speed.
It didn’t land on her head, in actual fact, and instead collided with the roof of Hagrid’s Hut before rolling into the paddock by the pumpkin patch and being devoured by one of his – as Archibald learned later – favourite hippogriffs.
“That,” Shelly said, standing up and blinking out the window, “was awesome.”
And now you know. I don't own the concept of a space hopper, which really sucks. Thanks for reading. You should all definitely check out Muggle Studies, if you haven't all ready (lots more from Archie, Shelly, Dom, Fred and Boris...) Reviews would be lovely :)
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