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Chapter 8 : Regular Dom-foolery
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April Fool's Day.
Too many students.
Although his life was generally in a state of perpetual hell and mockery, there were some days that were much worse than others. This was rated fairly highly on the disaster scale.
The door of the broom cupboard creaked open, causing Archie to look up from his rubix cube with the usual sense of growing dread. Instead of the angry mob he’d almost been expecting, Archibald Penrose found himself taking in the confused looking Dionne Scrivenshaft (which, really, was much more than that man could have ever hoped for given his current situation). The thrill of horror that had crept up his spine upon seeing the chink of light lessened quite significantly: not an angry mob, nor one of his students nor Michael Corner and/or Terry Boot. Instead, this was replaced by a resigned embarrassment - he had, after all, been found sitting on the floor of a broom closet. Worse, it was self-inflicted.
“Er… Dom Weasley said there was some sort of vicious animal in here?” The charming charm teacher questioned, looking as amused and charming as ever.
“That would be me,” Archibald said, “watch out for my vicious talons. Damn, knew she’d seen me.”
“Any, erm, reason why you’re hiding in a broom cupboard?”
“It’s April Fool’s Day,” Archibald said, “and I usually end up as the fool.”
“Ah,” Dionne Scrivenshaft said, her eyes sparkling slightly, “Gryffindor?”
“Ravenclaw.” Archibald returned, “with an unhealthy academic interest in Muggle Studies. You?”
“Hufflepuff,” She said, frowning slightly, “so you’re hiding from…?”
“My students,” Archie supplied, “And Corner and Boot. Just until midday,” Archibald sighed, “I did have a three point April fool’s plan, but then Dom ran at me holding what I think was a makeshift bow and arrow, if the screamed Robin Hood slogans were anything to go by, and I panicked. Normally, I lock myself in my office… but this was a bit quicker.”
“it’s er… Muggle thing. Well, sort of… actually quite a few articles suggesting Robin Hood was a wizard, but it's -“
“English folklore. Nottingham, right?” Dionne asked, tilting her head slightly. “I dated a muggle once.” She added by way of explanation.
“How did that work out?”
“Badly,” Dionne said, “he had a child and there was… an incident with a Space Hopper.”
“Story of my life.” Archibald returned.
“How bad can it be?” She asked. “There’s no one out here now, I reckon you make the daring escape to your office.”
“Do I have to?” Archibald asked, making a face, “why does April have to come so soon after Peer assessment? My nerves haven’t recovered.”
“Do you still think I’m charming after that?”
“Once a charming charms teacher, always a charming charms teacher, Professor Scrivenshaft.”
“Well then, Professor Penrose, how about I charm you out of this broom cupboard and I’ll tell you about that Space Hopper incident in the safety of your office?”
She held out her hand to help him up. Archie, who wasn’t entirely sure how the scheduled day of hell (wait, weren’t they all scheduled that way? Whoever had given him a double period with his forth years right before a double with his sixth years was clearly in on a conspiracy theory to insure a complete mental breakdown) was suddenly taking an upwards turn, reached out and to take it… precisely as an invisible force pushed the Charming Charms teacher into the broom cupboard.
Dionne Scrivenshaft stumbled forwards, the door swung shut and the pair of them were plunged into darkness. Then, a click of a lock, a burst of mad maniacal laughter, running footsteps and a ringing silence.
“Well that’s original,” Archibald commented, relighting his wand to continue trying to solve the blasted rubix rube - he was two squares off having the damn thing perfect.
“We appear to be locked in a broom cupboard.” Dionne said, raising her eyebrows before gingerly taking a seat on the floor.
“So it would seem.” Archie agreed. “At least,” Archie said, “we’re relatively safe in here.”
And that was when the first dung bomb went off.
“I’m not sure there are enough cleaning spells in an existence to make me feel clean again,” Archibald commented dryly, pulling off his robes and wondering whether it was too much to ask the House Elves to have it dry cleaned at the earliest opportunity. Frankly, after spending a grand total of forty seven minutes locked in a broom cupboard with an unsociable number of dung bombs he thought his sudden slightly obsessive need for cleanliness was justified – his nostrils had well and truly been assaulted.
Well, the charming charm’s teacher’s quick thinking bubble head charms had prevented them both from passing out due to the smell, but she’d been slightly too late to avoid the stench completely and the following forty six minutes following the bubble head charms were spent attempting to communicate and occasionally knocking bubbles together then laughing like slightly awkward teenagers.
God damn April Fool’s day.
“I think,” Dionne said, smiling slightly, “You’d be better off with some sort of charm.”
“Charming,” Archibald said, as she tapped his robes with her wand, “as always.”
“I hope you don’t mind citrus. My mother used to be able to make everything smell of roses, but I haven’t quite for the hang of it.”
“I’ll skip the roses,” Archibald said, inhaling the now most definitely citrus sent that hung around his robes. Infinitely better. “And preferably the rest of the day. I have my sixth years. Unfortunately, Freddie Weasley takes the fact that April Fools is his namesake’s, and of course his father’s, birthday a little too seriously. Those were definitely Weasley Dung bombs.”
“You can tell?”
“It’s the burn at the back of your throat,” Archibald said, “the way the smell makes you feel like you’re going to throw up.”
Archibald wasn’t exactly proud that one of his many talents was an ability to differentiate between the slight variants in branded dung bombs, but having taught Dom and Fred for three years and having had all sorts of wannabe troublemakers and general hooligans sat behind the desks in his classroom, he’d developed a bit of a knack for it. It had now gotten to the point where he could work out which of his rather uncreative and frankly hellish forth years had been the one to put the dung bomb under his chair due to which particular brand they used – a surprisingly useful talent, actually, and he was not above boasting any talent to Dionne Scrivenshaft given how utterly charming she was. And it wasn’t like he had many options of which talent to plug, he was largely a talentless oaf.
“Yes,” Dionne said, one of her hands reaching for her throat, “I know what you mean, actually.”
“Teach a subject as unpopular as Muggle Studies, and you’ll have the difference down pat within a week.”
“Really?” Dionne asked with one of her wide smiles.
“And how does payback usually work?”
“Vaguely sarcastic nicknames? The occasional chance for humiliation? Causing all my students to fail? Okay, that’s not true – well, not really. Hopefully.”
“I realise that, fairly recently, I conspired against you Archie but… are you at all interested in co-conspiring?”
“I enjoy conspiracy as much as the next jaded Professor,” Archibald said, “but I’ve rather given up with my sixth years.”
“You might have done,” Dionne smiled, “but they’ve pulled me into their games, Professor Penrose, and I haven’t given up on winning just yet.”
“Teacher’s don’t win,” Archibald said, glancing at her, “I’m not entirely sure there’s a way to win.”
“I have an idea.”
Changing the clocks by five minutes had been a stroke of undeniable genius from his colleague (in both teaching and, now, treachery). Of course, all of his students were so used to stumbling in late that they were nonplussed that he’d effectively changed time and with a few exaggerated sighs and glances at his watch, they seemed to have gotten the message that they were ‘late’ which meant everything was going perfectly.
Archibald made a vague note to ensure an on-going relationship with Scheming Scrivenshaft. His plans largely had self-humiliation in a starring role; whatever he attempted to do, it always seemed to turn inwards and result in further catastrophe.
“All right, guys,” Archie said, just as the tampered with clock stated that it was twelve, “before you all head off, I’ve got a bit of an announcement.”
“You’re coming out of the closet!” Miss Barbie declared.
“He literally came out of the closet earlier today.” Dom interrupted, grinning.
“I’d avoid saying too much about that, Weasley,” Archibald interject, “given you obviously had nothing to do with that unfortunate string of events. No. I’ve got to… there’s no easy way to say this guys, but… After next week you’ll be getting a new Muggle Studies teacher… Professor Chitty.”
“As in, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?”
Archibald smiled slightly. There were many people, including his ex-girlfriend and his late mother, who’d tried to convince him that teaching Muggle Studies to a bunch of children who were snotty, smelly and – worst of all – uninterested was a very bad idea. For the large part they were both completely and utterly right, but then there were moments like this when payback was just around the corner and, better yet, Boris seemed to have absorbed something of his ‘culture’ section about musical and remembered Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Or at least, the title of it.
“Yes, Boris, exactly like that; he’ll be taking over from next week. I’ll miss you guys, you’ve been a good class, but… I’ve got to go.”
“Headmistress Sinistra deemed Professor Scrivenshaft and I being found in a broom closet together inappropriate.”
“Is she going?”
“No, but Professor Scrivenshaft has a cleaner track record. I think the Space Hopper incident is still counting against me.”
“But that’s our fault?!” Shelly said, looking up from her vivid orange nails looking oddly horrified.
“I don’t want you guys to blame yourself,” Archibald said, “it’s a number of things, but the fact is I don’t think I’m going to be your teacher for much longer. But it’s been fun… I’ll miss you lot.”
There were a few seconds in which the classroom was utterly silent, starting at him with expressions of genuine horror. Shelly, in particular, looked like her painted-on expression was about to give way due to the contortion required to reach that particular appearance of dismay.
“We’ll tell Sinistra,” Dom said, suddenly, “who’s with me? We’ll tell her it was us. We’ll just get detention. Let’s save Archie’s job!”
“It’s Professor Penrose to you lot,” Archie added.
“Charge!” Fred agreed, standing up so suddenly that his chair fell to the floor with a loud crash. Dom followed suit, hand on hip as she stared down the rest of the class. Her chair didn't fall, so she kicked it over with her shoe for that dramatic effect.
“We can get Hugo to make posters!” Dom declared. “He’s got such an excellent eye for punnery and the use of colour!”
Shelly glanced at the clock, which now displayed the time four minutes past twelve, which meant he had exactly one minute before he had to stop lying and let the event take its course. “You’re serious?”
“I’m always serious,” Archibald said, which wasn’t true. Always sarcastic was probably more accurate.
“For Professor Penrose,” Boris said, somewhat solemnly, as he stood up too.
Shortly after that, things got out of hand. In a rush of limbs and quickly pieced together tag lines, his sixth years seemed to assemble themselves into a legitimate group of protestors and burst out into the corridors yelling things about the freedom to use Space Hoppers and occupy whatever broom cupboard they wished to occupy.
By the time he’d left his classroom twenty minutes later, there were a number of felt-tip coloured in posters (which simply smacked of Hugo Weasley) reading ‘ARCHIE FOR EVER’ and ‘PENROSE FOR PRESIDENT’ – presumably, this time Hugo’s posters had been magically reduplicated rather than created individually, because whoever had put up the posters had slapped them over doorways and hinges and windows indiscriminately.
“Sir,” Thomas Hardy said, running up to him in the corridor, “sir, are you really in trouble with Sinistra?”
It was past twelve but, frankly, Archibald Penrose had spent the entirely of his life with the joke being placed on his shoulders and he wasn’t about to give up this sudden elation of actual success just because of the convention of time.
Archibald put on his best world weary expression (decades of practice, finally worth it) and nodded grimly.
“That’s raving,” Lawrence declared (Archibald assumed, from the tone of his voice, that ‘raving’ meant something similar to ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ but he tended to feel like he needed a translator whenever he was talking to the Lit Duo). “We’ll tell her that it was us that planted and set off them muggle fireworks, sir!”
Archibald actually hadn’t realised that was them. He’d honestly thought it was Kevin Pips, or possibly one of his fourth years, but the resulting fire (and the loss of half his collection of fine muggle literature – including his entire collection of Mills and Boons books) had earned him a stern telling off and a warning.
Apparently the idea that Archibald would keep Muggle, and therefore extremely volatile, explosives in his office was a little too believable for Sinistra to dismiss.
“We got your back, Sir.” Thomas Hardy said, snapping his fingers at him before half running down the corridor to go and own up for his misendeavours.
“So that wasn’t you,” Dionne Scrivenshaft said, grinning as she stepped into the corridor, “word in the staff room is that Sinistra owes you about six apologies due to students confessing to framing you.”
“Currently, Miss Skively and Mr Weasley are attempting to convince Aurora that a legendary incident involving a Space Hopper was actually their fault, rather than yours.”
“This has been somewhat more successful than I suspected,” Archibald said, holding back a grin, “who knew teenagers had the ability to be so forthcoming?”
“You’re a hero, Archibald, and I should think everyone is very eager to buy you a drink.”
“Well, Professor,” Archibald said, glancing over at the charming charms teacher, “as the brains behind the whole operation, how about I buy you a drink?”
“That sounds acceptable.” Dionne said, offering him one last wide smile before disappearing in the direction of her office.
Well, Archibald thought as he regarded one of the posters (Hugo seemed to have drawn him with green hair and a rather orange face, and breasts – but you couldn’t have everything), that was an exceedingly good day.
It's been a long time and, for this, I am greatly sorry. I've missed Archie though... and for once, things went his way! Shocking ;)
I don't own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is in fact a musical based on a novel by Ian Fleming and most definitely nothing to do with me.
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