Chapter 9 : A Good sport
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Accidental school-wide event.
Good God, why?
“Archie!” Neville said cheerfully, beckoning him over to the particular unpopular corner of the staff room with an over enthusiastic wave. Archibald Penrose repressed a sigh and resigned himself to joining the man: as much as Archibald thought Neville was a great person and should be admired – particularly because Neville was a genuine hero – his hatred of people in general usually won out. Plus, there was only so much Archie could take of Neville getting slightly giddy over guddy roots and going on and on about his silly plants. How excited could you get about cucumbers? “Haven’t seen you around?”
He’d been hiding from Sybil Trelawney, the old bat. They’d been midway through a somewhat heated debate about the muggle zodiac versus wizarding clairvoyance at the pub (although Trelawney was as mad as a hatter, she was significantly less likely to mock him and was therefore a slightly better conversational partner than Terry Boot or Michael Corner ) and he happened to catch a glance at her bracelet. He’d had a strong suspicion that the bracelet was of muggle origins, having seen a similar one in a muggle magazine a week previously, and had agreed that Sybil could tell his fortunate if he could have a look at it.
It had been solid gold and branded with a well-known wizarding goldsmith and he’d been avoiding the woman since. Even if that did mean spending his free periods in empty classrooms and sending Hugo to fetch him meals.
“How are the muggles going?”
“Very well, thanks,” Archibald nodded, trying not to think about the last muggle studies lesson he’d just waded through – the forth years had been particularly difficult today and had given him another new and unimaginative nickname before claiming they needed to do a mock muggle ‘fire drill’ to really get a feel of the muggle tradition. He had a feeling one or other of them had been conversing with the Weasley duo. Still, considering Neville spent the entire day getting excited about deformed carrots he was finally in a position where no one could judge him and oh was it refreshing.
“Archie! Where’ve you been hiding? Gone on another muggle cruise?” Michael Corner grinned, Terry right behind him.
Well, it was been nice whilst it lasted, Archie decided, resigning himself to another round of muggle-lover-bashing. Nobody seemed to appreciate that muggle studies was a very valuable part of the curriculum… Admittedly, he’d spent the last two lessons allowing his NEWT students to try and play squash with Quidditch balls, and the only reason he hadn’t been fired was because the faithful sixth years promised to tell the nurse that the subsequent four hospitalisations were strange and unusual unrelated accidents. With characters like Dom and Fred involved, that was entirely believable (and it wasn’t really his fault – Archie certainly hadn’t suggested that particular charm). It was a slight added bonus that the effects of April fool’s day hadn’t quiet worn off, meaning everyone was slightly reluctant about getting him into trouble.
At some point he was sure it was going to swing back the other way and his students would land him in very deep water but, for now, everything was fine.
“Have you got anymore guddy roots growing, Neville? I’m running a little low,” Michael said sitting down.
“Where have you been Archie?” Terry asked, taking a seat on his other side and looking, for a moment there, mildly concerned, “you didn’t impale yourself on another electric whisk, did you?”
“Nope, it was my outstanding ability to interest students in the mundane this time. Lots of extracurricular activities. Fred Weasley wants to organise a basketball tournament..”
“Who’s he going to play against?” Terry laughed, “surely you don’t have enough students to scrape together two teams?”
“But that’s a great idea!” Neville said excitedly, “I was thinking, Archie, we could set up a joint project. I was reading about those muggle things, you know, when you rent out a garden -”
“Allotments?” Archibald suggested warily. He had no intention of letting Fred Weasley anywhere near a basketball, no matter how good a beater he was – and now he’d mentioned it in front of Neville the idea he’d go on about it until it was, not only implemented, but a national phenomenon. Neville was just so committed.
“Yes! I thought it would be really good for the students if they could actually grow stuff themselves – let them grow things the muggle way, you know, fertiliser and plant food... with spades and compost!”
“Yes, I suppose -” Archibald began.
“-I just think its fascinating the way muggles plants are dictated by seasons and the weather, and farming machinery –“
“Actually, Neville, I’ve got a lot on at the minute. Huge third year class, really, so I don’t think -”
“Ploughing, harvesting, sowing the seeds – it’s such a complicated process!”
“Like I said, Neville, -”
“And the farming revolution! All because of the industrialising revolution,”
“Actually, Neville, it was the industrial revolution and that wasn’t the only thing – there were lots of factors that contributed to the end of -”
“I know, you leant me that book all about the fences, and why muggles farm in patchwork shapes,” Neville said brightly, his round face beaming with pleasure. Archibald could practically hear Terry and Michael surprising the desire to mock and release a torrent of poor witty comments, “so we could set up our own Hogwarts,” Neville’s face screwed up in concentration for a second, “alopements?”
Archie smiled wearily, pulled one of his novelty pens out of his top pocket (a rather groovy number that glowed in the dark and had little glitter stars sparkled over it. He’d brought it because it had the declaration of ‘it’s like magic’ on the side and he appreciated the irony) and began clicking the lid to vent his frustration at the world.
“Oh, and Archie,” Michael grinned, “I’ll help out with the basketball tournament anyway I can.”
Archibald hid the grin that was beginning to form and nodded solemnly. Michael corner was going to regret the day he ever said that.
“Archie,” Aurora said, raising her thinly plucked eyebrows at him, “whilst I understand and admire your evident enthusiasm for the project,” Archibald was slightly alarmed to see that Aurora wasn’t being entirely sarcastic in mentioning this enthusiasm, which was entirely fictitious and had died somewhere in the midst of puberty, and seemed to have actually formed a belief that Archibald Penrose legitimately intended to organise a Hogwarts Basketball tournament, “but given what happened on April Fools… I am unwilling to allow it.”
Archibald nodded. Somehow, he’d gotten out of the whole situation unscathed. Perhaps, since April Fools his luck would continue to run on this all-time somewhat giddy high whereby offhand comments to Neville didn’t result in weeks of extra work and, likely, several contentious injuries – mental and physical – that would continue to haunt him into his old age.
“If that’s what you think is best,” Archie said, nodding slightly. He needed to at least appear somewhat upset by the failure of his plan.
“Dionne,” Aurora continued, “the same to you. I’m continually astounded by the amount of effort you put into the education of our pupils, but… basketball. I just don’t think it’s a sensible call.”
He’d dragged the Charms Professor into the proceedings the second Neville had mentioned it in front of the headmistress, insisting that it was her own fault for being so successful the previous month and that she was obviously the good luck charm he’d been missing since the day of his untimely and questionably regrettable birth. And now, they were both in the clear.
“It’s a shame,” Archie said, raising an eyebrow in her charming direction and smirking slightly.
“Yes,” Dionne said, also smirking, “I know how Archie was looking forward to it.”
“Well, it’s always a pleasure to work with you, Professor Scrivenshaft.” Archibald returned, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips.
“Likewise, Professor Penrose,” Dionne returned, “Although, of course, I meant the project in itself.” Dionne turned back to the front. “Archie was planning a whole host of Muggle sporting activities. He’s hiding the disappointment well.”
“Well…” Aurora Sinistra said, her eyebrows dipping down her face – looking almost detached from her eyes – and slanting alarmingly into an expression of thoughtfulness, “maybe…”
“No, no,” Archie interrupted, “I quite understand, Headmistress, my students… they’re not fit for extra circular activities.”
“The pancake day wasn’t a complete disaster,” Sinistra said, “okay, Archie, it’s a go ahead for the Muggle Sports day. Providing we make this into a castle-wide situation. We don’t do enough to really engage the students at a community level. I’m talking year events, house events, class teams – this could be really good for the unity of our school. I’m going to let you organise this, Archie. Is next week too soon? Friday?”
Archibald felt like he’d gone into a state of apparent shock. There were several words jumping at the forefront of his mind, most prominently ‘castle-wide’ and ‘sports day’ and ‘unity,’ but none of them seemed to make a great deal of sense: surely, his good luck hadn’t taken such a turn that he was being asked to run a whole school Muggle community project.
“Friday?” Archie questioned.
“Glad you agree,” Aurora said, “thank you, Archibald, Dionne.”
Professor Scrivenshaft pulled him up by the arm and towards the door, as his grasp on the whole concept of movement seemed to have dissipated somewhat leaving him staring, slack jawed at his boss. Castle wide.
“I’m so sorry,” the Charming Charms Professor said, ringing her hands, “I didn’t expect her to jump on the idea like that… I’ll help you with the Sports Day. Your students will help… it won’t be that bad. I’m sorry Archie.”
Good God this was actually happening. He’d gone from fictional basketball tournament to organising a Sports day involving hundreds of students. Half of him wanted to write and tell his mother that he’d landed himself with such a huge project… at least Sinistra seemed to actually trust him to pull this off (in nine days) which clearly indicated that she was absolutely insane, but at least then he wasn’t the only one.
And Dionne Scrivenshaft had not let go of his arm.
“I suppose you can’t help being so Charming,” Archibald said, shaking his head slightly, “well, I think I need to find Hugo. He’ll be devastated if he’s not in charge of the poster campaign.”
“I think…” Dionne looked worried for a split second, “you might need several student volunteers.”
“It’s a good job I have such a bunch of dedicated students.” Archibald said, thinking fleetingly of trying to convince Elliot Cooper to help him out, before regretting it: no thought process could possibly be improved by thinking about Cooper, unless perhaps a very violent one.
“Do you have any blackmail material?”
It seemed Dionne Scrivenshaft was most definitely well on the way to understanding what it was like to be a teacher.
“Not enough for this,” Archibald said, frowning at the castle walls, “if there was a way of getting the other teacher’s involved…”
“I used all my material in Peer Assessment,” Archibald frowned, “which leaves me with only one form of leverage.”
“I don’t follow…”
“The opportunity to humiliate me,” Archibald said, “either I lead them to believe that they will be instrumental in humiliating me and somehow pull out of the humiliation at the last moment, or I just need to grin and bear it. Sadly, I don’t think there’s quite enough time to perfect the plan.”
“So now you’re a martyr?” She questioned, offering a flash of white teeth as she smiled at him. Really, Archibald was trying to dredge up some sort of slow-burning irritation at the woman who’d plucked him from a barely-simmering frying pan and into a fully-fledged forest fire, but it was quite difficult to work up anything more than a grim appreciation of her charming abilities.
It seemed the woman could persuade anyone of anything. It was quite disconcerting, actually.
“For my students, Professor,” Archibald said, “in the name of closing the gap between Wizarding and Muggle culture for the generations to come.”
“How nobel,” Dionne said, smiling again, “well, I’m on hand to help.”
“Of course you are,” Archibald said, still not quite irritated but more than a little bemused, “you, Professor, are the champion of extra-circular activities worldwide. Charms club, Bonfire night, pancake day…”
“No,” She said, all charm and smiles, “Given its slightly my fault, I’d have to help anyway. But, more to the point, you definitely have blackmail material on me.”
Archibald narrowed his eyes at her.
“No one has anything on you…” he said. As he’d been assigned the task of introducing the Charming Charms teacher to the joys of Peer Assessment week, he’d had the whole staffroom cheering him on and trying to dig up something that could possibly cause some embarrassment. Or, at least, to raise a slightly blush. There had been nothing. Absolutely nothing.
“Well,” Dionne said, smiling slightly, “I certainly didn’t volunteer for all those extra-circulars to spend time with Elliot Cooper.”
Well that was a turn up for the books.
If Archie had ever doubted his career choice (which he did, seriously, several times a day) there was something slightly incredible about these few moments of affirmation. Although it was admittedly very far from perfect, and according to his Filofax he was still on odd numbers for the three legged race (the odd number being three) and had only half a football team. His sixth years had turned their posters on how-to-Muggle Sports into mass produced leaflets for the whole population of Hogwarts (with the help of Hugo Weasley, naturally) and, gradually, the numbers of those offering to help him was increasing.
He’d had to promise all students involved in organisation would be able to mention it on their resume, along with a flattering reference – even Eliot Cooper – along with several other perks (including a ‘get out of homework free’ card, straight from his let’s-explain-muggle-economy-to-wizards-monopoly set).
Still, he felt good about this. He’d cleared it with Sinistra for each dormitory to have at least one participant for the event which had helped, but even with the promise of house points, muggle sweets and eternal glory for winners and participants (well, losers, but as a teacher you couldn’t call anyone that) alike he’d still overheard several students who seemed less than keen.
As in, students who’d referred to the act of volunteering for the mass sports day a ‘sacrificial act’ and held a variety of amusing competitions and draws to work out who would be ‘volunteered.’
He’d made a note to try and get another copy of ‘The Hunger Games’ to be added to the muggle fiction section of the library (which he’d spent his first year of teaching continually campaigning for), with the idea of slipping some of them a copy… then again, it would probably be wilfully misconstrued as a threat. He could do without being accused of threatening to lock his students in an arena and forcing them to kill each other. Plus, last time he’d read the series he’d had a repeated nightmare in which he was trapped in the arena with his students and had continual flashbacks of his students trying to kill him. It had taken three weeks for him to be able to sleep properly and he still couldn’t look at his fourth year group in the same way…
“Sir?” A voice asked from the doorway, and Archibald was surprised when he looked up to find himself face to face with James Potter.
He hadn’t really come in contact with that particular part of the Weasley/Potter unit (a force onto itself, really), which he generally considered as quite a blessing – he’d heard enough about him to know that he was a sporting superstar, cheeky, loud and a bit of a handful.
“Potter,” Archibald said, stepping round his desk to cover up the fact that he was midway through a Sudoku to save the effort explaining, “to do what do I owe this intrusion in my office?”
“It’s about the basketball game, Sir,” James said cheerfully, “and your bet with Professor Boot.”
The bet was instrumental. He'd earnt himself another month wearing propaganda for 'The Squibs' and the first round of staff-drinks until he literally starved to death due to lack of funds, but it was the only way.
“Which you know about because..?”
“Common knowledge,” James grinned, “Corner leaked it to the student Newsletter. Dom’s been selling T-shirts and general propaganda.”
“Your point, Potter?”
“I’m willing to play for your team.” James said, with another of those grins.
“Assuming,” Archibald began, “you’re meaning in the basketball match, rather than an absurd, disturbing and inappropriate euphemism, then… why would you want to do that?”
“Don’t you want the school’s star chaser on your team?” James asked, eyebrows raising behind his glasses. “I’m a good player, Archie.”
“Professor Penrose,” Archibald corrected automatically, “what are your terms, Potter?”
“I’m allowed terms?” James asked, voice overly bright and a little too forced.
“Now, now,” Archie said, smiling slightly, “I have no influence over you and you have absolutely no reason to help me out. I’m neither naive nor idiotic. What does Boot want and what is he offering you?”
“The latest scoop, Professor,” James grinned, taking a further step into the office, “Boot has offered me the juicy details about you and Professor Scrivenshaft.”
Archibald frowned slightly. He hadn’t actually been aware there were any juicy details about him and the Charming Charms Professor and, as much as he wasn’t remotely opposed to the idea, it seemed a little early on in the proceedings for there to be rumours going around. It might account for the fact that a larger than normal number of students seemed to actually know who he was… but, still, he hardly though Terry Chocolate-Orange Boot would know anything more than he did.
Frankly, that would be really quite disturbing.
“And you care because?”
“Oh,” James said, “call it self-serving interest. This girl I’m seeing runs the student newspaper, and this is the biggest scoop since Sinistra started going bald.”
“So,” Archibald said, glancing at the ceiling, “Boot has you volunteer to play on Team Muggle, you ensure he wins, he gives you the gossip and your girlfriend gets her story?”
Archibald briefly considered that he should have worked in espionage rather than teaching, because there would be a great deal less of double crossing. He wasn’t in a wizarding school; he was traipsing around the set of bloody Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
“And you think that’s the best way to get your story?”
“No,” James said, grinning, “which is why I’m here.”
“I tell Boot you didn’t suspect a thing, he’s lured into a sense of security over winning the bet, you tell me the deal with you and everyone’s favourite Professor, Ms Scrivenshaft, I tell Opal and everyone’s happy.”
“Alright, James Bond –”
“– the name’s Potter,” James said, looking somewhat confused, “James potter.”
Why did he even bother?
“My mistake,” Archie drawled, rolling his eyes at the ceiling, “and why would I offer personal information for your girlfriend to practice her journalism skills on?”
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
“I’m really not interested in teenage dating habits,” Archibald said, “I don’t see why winning a bet with Boot is worth appearing in that trash for.”
“Well,” James said, “no offence, Professor, but the last time you appeared in the paper was after the Space Hopper Incident. You’re a bit of a running joke,” Archibald could have guessed that, really he could. “And Dionne Scrivenshaft had been voted as Hogwarts Hottest Professor –”
“– are you allowed to write that about your Professors?”
“Corner overseas the content,” James shrugged, “point is, Sir, you could do with a reputation boost. That April Fool’s day joke… you could be one of the most popular teachers in this joint. Think of the respect.”
“I teach Muggle Studies.”
“Could sell it as an endearing quirk? I don’t know. I’m not really involved. Except with a couple of the writers, if you get my drift.”
“I’d rather not,” Archibald said, “ah… in for a penny, in for a pound -”
“- what’s a penny?” Archibald stopped mid thought, ready to banish James from his office to cry. “Nah, I’m only yanking your toilet-flushing-device. So you’re up for it?”
“Tell Professor Boot that I saw through his plan and refused to let you on the team. I’ll give you your scoop after you’ve thrown the game in my favour. Okay, Potter?”
“I’m going to need some advance details,” James said, “to prove I can trust you.”
“Fine. I’ll talk to your reporter right before the game.”
“Pleasure doing business with you, Professor.” James said, grinning and offering a salute before exiting the office.
Archibald began to realise that he now had the somewhat mammoth job of convincing Dionne Scrivenshaft that him leaking details about their non-existent (but maybe not for much longer?) relationship to a student newspaper was actually a good thing, shook his head and decided that was most definitely an issue for future Archibald.
He settled back down to his puzzle book and briefly wondered whether he was throwing his game.
But, damn, he didn’t want Boot to win this time.
Dionne Scrivenshaft was holding a copy of the ‘Hogwarts: a Commentary’ (Hogs, warts and all!) and was looking decidedly amused.
“Archie,” Dionne said, lips pursing as she turned towards him, “I hadn’t realised we were married with several children.”
“Should I have informed you?” Archibald questioned, turning to smirk at her over the plate of buttered waffles.
“Or that we kept our eternal love a secret because my vicious pureblood parents couldn’t stand the thought of my marrying a Muggle Studies teacher.”
Archibald glanced back down at the paper feeling distinctly amused. Their epic love story – ‘PROFESSOR PENROSE’S PERPETUAL PAIN’ – was upstaged only by the lengthy story of how James Potter, the superstar of Hogwarts Quidditch, was utterly incapable of running in a straight line without falling over and that, had it not been for the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team playing on Team Wizard, Team Muggle would have been victorious.
“We made the front page,” Archibald shrugged, “as far as I’m concerned, everybody won.”
“Even James Potter?”
“His girlfriend loved the story.”
“Which is, of course, why you laid it on so thick?” Dionne said, a little closer than was probably necessary, wide smile sparkling. She really was quite, quite charming.
“In the name of love,” Archibald agreed.
“I never knew you were so emotionally invested in your student’s relationships.” She added dryly.
“I never realised they were so interested in mine.”
“You’re too engrossed in your Muggles to notice outside interest.”
Archibald was vaguely aware that most of the school was watching the pair of them sit at the Staff table and amicably eat breakfast (including Terry Boot, who seemed unsure whether he should clap Archie on the back or vandalise his bicycle again).
“I’ll put on some binoculars and watch out for it,” Archie said, wondering whether or not it would have been possible to factor in the other Quidditch players and the opportunity to avoid losing that damn bet.
“Don’t bother,” Dionne said, smiling again, “some short sighted glasses would do the job.”
Then she kissed him on the cheek, smiled, stood and left him watching her walk away.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a Spy Novel by John le Carrte (which I don't own). The Hunger Games are a series by Suzanne Collins and are not mine. I also don't own James Bond, which I made reference to (he's the property of Ian Fleming). The quote 'the name's Potter, James Potter' was a paraody of a well known quote from James Bond.
Also, can I draw attention to the pun in my summary? I get really excited over puns and I'm grinning my head off over that because this is the MAY chapter and it's about a MATCH in both sense of the word... okay, I'll admit it wasn't that exciting.
AND THIS IS ME OUT.
Thanks for reading :)
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