Chapter 11 : Don't stop the partaay
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Nearly the end of term.
One day in the very near future, Archibald was going to give up on the lot of his students. Hopefully that day wouldn’t come until after the school year finally finished and the next lot of students had gone through their exams without further incident, but having accidentally taken on extra work again he thought it incredibly likely that he was going to explode before Friday rolled around.
One week until the school year was over. One week.
“Cooper,” Archibald said, trying to repress the intense dislike enough that it wasn’t blatantly obvious in his voice, “you’ve got a topic for your extended project?”
After this week, he’d never have to look at Elliot Cooper again. And he’d have a whole summer of not having to deal with a bunch of acne-inflicted, hormonal, dead-beat students who’d rather poke muggles with sticks than learn about them... a whole summer free of trying to scrounge together vaguely interested lesson plans (with minimal resulting injuries).
Yes, he was still a bit homeless and slightly scared about contacting his ex-girlfriend to ask what she did with all of his stuff, but that was nothing compared to listening to Neville’s growing excitement over summer-plans and facing the Corner-Boot duo every morning for breakfast.
And Elliot Cooper. He was so done with Eliot Cooper.
“Yes,” Cooper said, “although...”
“What?” Archibald asked, rolling his eyes deliberately.
“I suspect it might be too complicated,”
“I’m sure the people on the Muggle Bureau can keep up with your intellect, Cooper.”
“It’s not them I’m worried about,” Cooper said, smug expression twisting up into a sneer.
“Oh, burn,” Simon ‘Squeaky’ Fawcett interjected, grinning as he dealt another hand of cards to Ronald McDonald, Vicky and Shelly (the accidental extra to his seventh year quartet).
“Pipe down, Squeaky,” Archibald muttered, “and Vicky, I know the concept of deceit is mostly above you, and I’m not expecting a Poker Face here, but you might do better if you stopped showing McDonald your cards. What’s the topic, Cooper?”
“Thermodynamics,” Cooper said, turning round his pad of paper to reveal a series of equations that made frankly no sense to Archibald whatsoever. He squinted at the paper.
“I’ll read up on it,”
“Don’t bother,” Cooper said, “stick to your Texas hold’em,”
“Oi,” Shelly said, turning an irritated glare at Elliot and flexing her nails slightly, “just because you decided to take on this extended project and therefore still have work whilst we’ve all finished, doesn’t mean you can take out your angst on Archie,”
“Skively,” Archibald said, wearily, “I said you could join the class if you promised to shut up,”
“Three of a kind,” Ronald McDonald said, placing down his cards with a satisfied smirk.
Miss Barbie and Squeaky were, apparently, dating. Of all the students he’d given nicknames, and of those there were a lot, he’d least expected Shelly Skively and Simon Fawcett to wind up together, but there it was. And Dom and Freddie had insisted on telling Archie the long story about how Muggle Studies had bought them together, which had led to them referring to him as Cupid for two hours before Archibald had threatened them with another modern adaptation of Shakespeare.
There was a part of Archibald that wanted to have a discussion with Shelly about the whole incident earlier on in the year, but the larger part was far too terrified of Shelly’s nails to even think about asking. Well, never mind.
“Fine,” Shelly said, “take my chips, bleed my soul dry – see if I care.”
“Aren’t chips supposed to be made of potato?” Vicky asked, forehead creasing as she pushed over the rest of her poker chips in Ronald’s direction. Vicky was losing which, frankly, wasn’t all that surprising. He’d spent a good twenty minutes trying to explain the four suits, without getting onto the intricate rules of poker.
“They are,” Shelly said, “I dare you to eat one, Vicky. With ketchup,”
“Professor,” Elliot Cooper said, voice full of evident distain, “my extended project?”
“Right,” Archibald said, “I’ll look at this over this before our meeting at lunch time. You can... well, do whatever the hell you like,” Archie shrugged, “provided no one get’s injured or emotionally harmed. And Vicky, do not eat the poker chips.”
He wasn’t teaching anymore. He was babysitting.
Still, the exams were finished and the scheduled lessons were not. He had to give them something to do, or they’d probably start eating one another.
“What is thermi... therm... thermal -?”
“Thermodynamics,” Eliot said, glancing over at Vicky with his usual superior expression, “it’s the scientific study of heat and it’s relation to work and energy,”
“Sounds like an extract of Archie’s love life,” Shelly said, “How is Professor Scrivenshaft?”
Archibald decided, on the whole, it might have been easier to become a baby sitter than a teacher; there would, at least, be less back chat.
The large majority of Archibald’s students had finished their exams now, which was a relief. He had a tendency to get more stressed out about his student’s inevitable road to failure than his own (he’d passed through fifth and seventh year in a breeze of over confidence, reading fine muggle literature all night and barely studying for any of his other exams; thus leading to the point in his life where this was his job), because he felt he should have been able to do something to prevent his students from replicating his mistakes. Not that he was given much to work with –because honestly some students were beyond the realm of his help – but, all the same, he’d rather the excessive amount of time his students spent in his classroom wasn’t utter useless.
Unfortunately, his tendency not to let himself take the easy route had led to him stumbling across a project where by students received an additional qualification in ‘Muggle Knowledge and Understanding’ which showed up on their CVs as a set of Muggle GCSEs... thus giving the opportunity to work in an actual Muggle Job should they wish too. Looking back on it, he decided that his brain cells must have been severely affected by the beginning of his relationship with the Charming Charms teacher, because – if he was sane – he would have thrown away the details about the extended project and let it rot in his waste paper bin with the discarded and half finished Sudoku.
“Archie,” Dionne Scrivenshaft said, leaning on his desk with her white teeth on show, “don’t you think this might be a little beyond the call of duty?”
“Undergraduate level physics?” Archie questioned, pouring over the textbook in question and squinting at the words, not entirely sure whether they were English or not, “this isn’t a matter of duty, it’s a matter of pride.”
“Cooper thinks he’s bested me,” Archie said, privately adding a few choice words to describe Cooper that he wasn’t allowed to voice out loud for the sake of his career. And his relationship.
“He’s Muggle born,” Dionne said, fairly, “he was bought up with this knowledge,”
“Oh, I am highly aware of that,”
“How many students are doing this extended project of yours?”
“Four,” Archibald said, “Elliot Cooper, Boris Belby, Dom and Gina,”
“She’s writing her extended project on Twilight,” Archibald grimaced, “and how the supernatural is portrayed in sensationalist young adult novels.” Archibald gestured to the stack of Vampire teen fiction with a slight shudder; for the large part, he was trying to block out how compelling he’d found the first four chapters of Twilight almost as much he was trying to block out the rest of the saga. Along with the several pages of fanfiction Gina had found on the internet. And the six other books she’d referenced.
He was somewhat impressed at her ability to conduct muggle research (one of the marking criteria of the extended project), but that most definitely did not eclipse (excuse the pun) how horrific he’d found having to read stories marketed at early-teenage girls.
(It was a good job his fellow Professor where so clueless about muggles, but he wasn’t entirely sure how he’d explain away his choice in reading material to Michael Corner).
“The London Underground,” Archie said, gesturing to the map that was currently stuck on the ceiling of his office. He’d ran out of wall space, what with the display of his stamp collection.
“Yes,” Archie said, pressing a hand to his forehead, “well, no, it’s about the muggle feminism movement, but after the third page I realised she’s tried to put in as many sheep puns as possible. Look at this... ‘I must lamb-ent the fact that the portrayal of sheep across fiction is a ram-pant display... we should be sheepish in offering such woolly facts...people flock towards this association... publishes are fleeced... people mince their words... the story line moves choppily... the shear extent butchers the perception...”
“Dom is...” Professor Scrivenshaft trailed off.
“I’ve been trying to work out the end of that sentence for three years,” Archibald muttered, dropping the document down onto his desk with a grimace, “And I think Freddie is dropping Muggle Studies after this year, so the sixth years have talked me into throwing a Muggle party,”
“Am I invited?” Dionne asked, raising hey eyebrows with a smile.
“I wouldn’t wish that upon you,” Archibald said, “but if you want to hang out with Xavier Boxton and Boris Belby then that’s your choice. As soon as I’ve finished reading about the laws of thermodynamics I’ve got to start making the pass the parcel,”
“Thermodynamics seems a tad dry,” Dionne said, idly turning over a page in the text book.
“It’s... surprisingly relevant,”
“This disaster,” Archibald said, “the second law of thermodynamics – things tend towards disorder,”
Hugo had been responsible for the posters, but the budding relationship between Simon Fawcett and Shelly Skively had been the reason the posters were necessary; Shelly had told Simon about the super-cool-end-of-year-muggle-studies-party, and suddenly his quartet of seventh years all wanted in.
He wasn’t sure how the invitation had ballooned out to encompass the blonde mob too but, Archie supposed he’d hopefully be losing at least half of them over the course of the summer (it wasn’t possible that all fourteen of them could want to continue onto NEWT level – he hadn’t made the classes that interesting to ensure that), so it seemed polite to invite them.
Then he’d ran into the lit duo vandalising Terry Boot’s classroom, and they’d asked whether there was anything ‘going down’ with the ‘Muggle crew’ and Archie – who’d been a little too amused about the obscenity branded on Boot’s Classroom – had invited them along too.
“I’m so ready to shake it like a muggle,” Dom said, shimmying into the classroom a good ten minutes early, using a packet of muggle crisps as a makeshift maraca and positively beaming, “our Hugo’s getting pretty good at posters, eh Professor Penrose?”
“You can’t say he hasn’t learnt anything from my classes,” Archie said, “how many of your classmates are coming, Weasley?”
“All of them,” Dom said, cheerfully.
“All of them?”
“Oh yeah,” Dom said, “I told them all about musical chairs and the return of the Space Hopper and they all promised they’d be here,”
“Oh yeah,” Dom said, shaking the bag of crisps to another imaginary beat, “and some of the people from Halloween. Not Guy Hamish Fawkes MacFarlan, but I think Katie Price is coming along to throw some shapes,”
“I hate to think what sort of shapes Katie Price will be throwing,” Archibald said, grimacing slightly, “I suppose you’ve persuaded the third years, too?”
“Oh yeah,” Dom grinned, “and the fourth years,”
She couldn’t be serious. Not his fourth years for the love of all that was holy. His forth years couldn’t possibly be coming along.
“But,” Dom said, just as Freddie arrived (alarmingly topped with a paper party hat), “don’t worry, Goliath Lockhart offered to be the piñata.”
Archibald had been damned sure that everyone was coming out of a sense of irony, but it seemed slightly odd that there were so many willing to act on such a ridiculous impulse. He had a hard time getting his students to show up to his lessons at the best of times, so the idea that they might all turn up to a Muggle Party was just absurd.
The blonde mob pushed through the doorway; not only the Malfoy-Scamander trio, but Chelsea, Shantelle and the others too. Nina walked in behind them in positive hysterics, glancing up at the banner Archibald had half heartedly erected before near-collapsing with mirth.
“I’ll get the beats,” Daniel Harrison Lawrence said, stepping into the room with Thomas Hardy and – good God, was that James Herriot? – which meant that, somehow, they’d become a literary trio. All he needed now was for them to adopt second year Connor Doyle and his life would genuinely be complete.
“No inappropriate language,” Archibald said, “and it has to be muggle,”
“Chillax, Penrose,” Thomas Hardy said, flicking his fingers in that chav-esque way of his, “we got this covered.”
He hadn’t realised that got this covered meant that a rather emotional power ballad from Whitney Houston. He stopped short and stared at the pair of them – surely, surely, he should have been expected something a little more... well, frankly, Archibald had been expecting hip hop at the very least. He’d been counting on some sort of explicit rap but... no. Whitney Houston.
“Sir,” Tabatha Street said, hand wrapped tight around Johnny English’s arm (were they still ‘dating’?), “sir, this is Jessie James,”
Archibald turned around feeling slightly wrong footed. Jessie James had yet to turn up to a single of his classes and had, for the most part, been utterly impossible to track down over the course of the year.
“Tabatha said there was food,” Jessie said, glancing up at him with such obvious indifference that Archibald was surprised the glare didn’t actually dissolve him into nothingness.
“Help yourself,” Archibald said, watching as his mystery – or not, as it turned out – student headed towards the snack table.
“Archie,” Dionne Scrivenshaft said from the doorway, stepping into the frankly rather full classroom with a smile (casually ignoring the wolf whistle, which had become a regular fanfare ever since the follow up article in the school newspaper which branded them as a new couple), “I’m not entirely sure you put enough layers on the pass the parcel,”
“No,” Archie agreed, “and we might need a few more chairs,”
“Can we play musical statues?” Hugo asked. Archibald wasn’t entirely sure when Hugo had turned up, but - unfortunately – he had. As much as Archibald wanted to suggest that Hugo play musical statues all by himself in a different room, he had a worrying suspicion that he actually would and that was too tragic to consider.
“You want to play sleeping lions, Edgecombe?” Archibald asked a bizarrely conscious Spencer, “Surely spending so much time vertically is a bit of a shock to your system?”
“How’s about a bit of parachuting?” A voice suggested. Archibald turned around to see James Potter and his reporter-not-girlfriend leaning against the drinks table (a selection of Archie’s favourite carbonated drinks –always a crowd pleaser) and began to worry.
There had to be something going on here. He didn’t think he’d ever seen such attendance to anything in his life... Franklin-stein, Herman Goyle... even Kevin Pips, who should be all rights stinking up some corridor with the pungency of his bad-boy attitude, was actually there (and talking to Freddie Weasley about something, which was definitely another point of concern). There was something distinctly not normal about the whole situation.
Seriously, he’d been trying to convince people that pogo sticks were the best things since sliced bread (another excellent muggle idea, thank you very much) for a long time, but he didn’t think Hugo’s artistic attempt to draw Archibald on a pogo stick had been particularly alluring.
“Maybe not,” Archibald said, “although maybe Xavier could talk you through the joys of muggle gaming. He’s rather fond of the x-box.”
It was too late in the year for Sinistra to take any more complaints from Xavier’s humourless parents seriously; besides, he was particularly proud of that nickname.
“Oh, Sir,” Dom said, cheerfully, “the summer will be long and dull without your fine sense of humour,”
“Right, Weasley,” Archibald said, “why is everyone here?”
“It’s the milkshake, Professor,” Fred said from the vicinity of the drinks table, “your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.”
“Damn right, it’s better than yours,” Archibald quipped back, rolling his eyes and wondering why he’d ever thought that was a good idea. It had not been a good idea. “Well, I suppose we might as well start the games... although, I don’t know how you’re all going to fit on the twister mat – ”
Archibald stopped quite abruptly, because Ronald McDonald was stood on the table.
He was entirely sure that, if frighteningly quiet and named ridiculously, Ronald McDonald was actually quite normal. He sat through lessons without making the usual odd jokes and joining in with the usual pranks and madness. If it had been one of his other students stood on a table, he probably wouldn’t have even blinked but Ronald McDonald...
“We are gathered here today –“
“– in the sight of God!”
Another terrible idea for a lesson plan, that one.
“– to present Professor Penrose with an award,” Ronald McDonald said, before promptly stepping off the table and returning to eating his way through the large bowl of jelly tots.
“The public has spoken,” Freddie said, his tone feigning seriousness, “and you, Archibald Penrose, have been voted as this year’s Professor of the year!”
Archibald stared at the lot of them.
“Is this some sort of joke?”
“No,” James Potter’s reporter not-girlfriend said, stepping forward, “you won the poll by a wide majority, Professor. The readers of ‘Hogwarts: a Commentary’ have been nominating and voting over the past couple of weeks,”
“You get a trophy,” Dom grinned, pulling out an actual trophy from under the jenga box (which begged a serious question as to where all his jenga blocks had gotten to, but that was a different issue all together).
“To commemorate your success in winning Professor of the year,” The reporter girl said, expression still blank.
“No,” Archibald said, “I understood that. I mean why... why am I this... why did I win?”
Shelly Skively pulled out a piece of parchment from her pocket and coughed.
“Archibald Penrose,” She read, glancing through her ridiculous eyelashes (and they had to be fake today, he was sure of it) to look round at the motley crew of students, “the previously innocuous Muggle Studies Professor, has been making the study of bicycles and electricity slightly less mind numbingly dull for a number of years. With sparkling wit, sarcasm and a number of questionable nicknames, Professor Penrose has become quite the figurehead over the course of this year. We all, of course, remember the legendary April Fool’s day prank in which Penrose convinced a large number of his students to campaign for him to remain in his teaching position (which was quite secure, as it turned out) – a feat which, we at ‘Hogwarts: a Commentary’ don’t believe many teachers would have been able to achieve. Archibald successfully tricked the reporters at this paper into printing an artfully fabricated history between himself and Professor Scrivenshaft (second in this poll) and, allegedly, took the revenge-prank from his students surprisingly well.”
Archibald supposed, by taking the revenge-prank surprisingly well, they meant he hadn’t put the lot of them in detention for the rest of the year... that wasn’t a mark of sentimentality, though, but sheer relief over the fact that they hadn’t genuinely jumped off the Astronomy Tower because of something he’d said.
“Beyond the humour, Professor Penrose has put on a variety of extra circular activities this year: from the school wide sports day, to free pancakes and fireworks, it seems clear that the Professor’s borderline inappropriate love of muggles is still ongoing and a real motivation for his actions. One of Professor Penrose’s students said ‘Archie’s a loveable idiot – the fact that we all know his girlfriend dumped him over a microwave and that he’s probably a squib just makes him more likeable’ whilst another reported that ‘he’s probably the only reason to pick Muggle Studies. It’s a terrible subject.’ Professor Penrose’s popularity peaked after his new relationship with charms Professor, Dionne Scrivenshaft. “She’s blatantly too good for him,” says sixth year, Shelly Skively, “but we’re rooting for them all the same.” Muggle Studies is one of the least popular subjects offered at Hogwarts, but perhaps after this success the department may be set to grow next year. Congratulations, Archie!”
Archibald stared at the lot of them for a few minutes feeling slightly dumbfounded.
On the whole, he wasn’t sure whether or not any of the above had been a compliment or merely a string of insults masquerading as something positive.
“Did you just vote for this,” Archibald began, “so I’d have to deal with more students?”
“One more thing,” Kevin Pips said, stepping forward, “we – ”
“No,” Lily Potter hissed, grabbing hold of his robes and pulling him backwards, “it’ll be better if you don’t tell him...”
“What is it, Pips?”
“I’m not dropping Muggle Studies!” Fred Weasley declared, throwing out his arms with a worrying grin. Kevin raised his eyebrows. Archibald had a sneaking suspicion that Kevin Pips had not been about to declare Fred’s intention to continue studying his subject, but it wasn’t like there was much he could do about that.
“We bought you a present too,” Hugo Weasley said.
“Here,” Vicky said, stepping forward and pressing something into his hands.
Archibald accidentally caught Elliot Cooper’s eye. He didn’t look remotely impressed but, then again, Cooper was rarely impressed by anything. Even Archibald’s mad in depth knowledge about thermodynamics.
He unwrapped the present clumsily.
“A ruler,” Archibald said, glancing up at them.
“A novelty ruler,” Dom corrected, “it’s scented.”
As much as the situation was utterly bizarre, what with ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ blasting out in the background, Nina laughing so much the girl was probably doing her lungs genuine damage, Gina looking cheerful for once, Spencer Edgecombe actually awake and Jessie James actually here... well, the whole thing was actually making him feel a little bit emotional.
Archibald decided to blame the whole thing on too much exposure to the Twilight books.
Things that I do not own and yet were referenced within this chapter of Muggle Studies:
Twilight, which belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
This quote “Your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” and “Damn right, it’s better than yours,” are referencing the song ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis.
The song ‘I wanna to dance with somebody’ which is Whitney Houston’s.
A scented ruler (although the shop where I work sells them).
And with that I give you the almost final chapter of Muggle Studies. The next chapter is going to be set during the Summer holidays (because no one wants school in August too) so it’s going to be pretty short and only have a few characters in... but there we go. Also, as a side note... because I’m an idiot and haven’t been updating in order there’s a possibility that you missed some of the new chapters (I only say this because there’s discrepancies of a couple of hundred reads in the read count) sooo... the newest chapters are number eight and number nine. Thanks for reading!
Hope you enjoyed it :)
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by Lizard Queen