The list of people I need to thank has grown pretty long in the year since the
germ of this story first infected my daydreams. Jen and Ash listened to some
really confusing attempts at describing it early on. My mother patiently
shared her knowledge of life in the sixties as well as her set of forty year-old
British encyclopedias. My Brit-picker was tri-delta-rific in his way. The helpful
people at the Writing a Good Summary thread are one reason anyone is
reading this right now. My encouraging, conscientious beta
NigthtZephyr is another. And J.K. Rowling is, of course, the first and
September 6, 1965
Six children gathered along the grayed wooden fence behind Lord
Muggle School in Ottery St. Catchpole one unusually sunny morning in early
"Can you see them?" asked the girl with floaty blond curls, standing
on the ground.
"Nothing," said the boys on the fence. One had large, round eyes,
the other a large, round stomach.
"Well, they're there," the girl insisted, resolute.
"We believe you," said a second girl.
"No, we don't," said a third, who flicked a braid of straw-like hair
behind one ear and began to pull flowering weeds from around the fence
The third boy shifted uncomfortably and wished he could say
something to make Margaret, the anxious blond girl, happy.
Then the second girl remarked, "Do you suppose that's our new
teacher?" and they all turned to watch a brightly painted Ford Anglia that had
never been seen before in the village as it approached the school lot.
"I wonder where she's fro-" began Julia, the girl with the straw-like
hair, but she was interrupted when Margaret gasped,
"Maybe she saw them when she drove by!"
"Let's go meet her!" cried the smaller of the boys on the fence.
"We can't go inside yet," Julia reminded him somewhat unkindly.
"Oh," he said, and they returned to discussion of the mysterious,
strange somethings Margaret said could be seen in the fields to the north of
The driver of the Ford Anglia had noticed he was the object of their
attentions. They made him a little nervous, as he was trying to attract as little
attention as possible. He had the sudden urge to make the car and everything
in it, including himself, disappear. But he couldn't do that. More precisely, he
shouldn't, which was just as prohibitive.
He wondered if they had noticed anything odd about him or about
the car. Had he left something important open? Was his new red bowtie
incorrectly attached? Maybe it was his hair. People were always staring at his
hair. For perhaps the first time in his life, he wished that people were staring
at his hair. Please let it be the hair.
Then he remembered. "They're naturally curious, children are,"
Quamble had warned him. "They'll stare and they'll ask questions. Don't be
evasive. They'll just want to know more. The best thing to do is lie. Come up
with some good, elaborate lies. And if they get too suspicious, just whip out a
good Memory Charm. You do have a decent Obliviate, don't you?"
That he did.
Arthur Weasley had not thrown himself whole-heartedly into many things
in his life. Certainly not the O.W.L. subjects he had taken so that he could
make his parents happy with an administrative job in the Ministry. It might
someday earn him enough money to have a wife to take on extravagant
vacations to the Wizarding Wonders of the World, but it did not excite him.
Not Quidditch, either. He loved to watch the sport, but had trouble
maneuvering a broomstick at high speeds. Things got blurry and he had tried
to catch a Bludger instead of the Quaffle a few too many times.
But the summer after his sixth year at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry, he had spent a week with a Muggle-born friend and
it had been the most fascinating experience of his life. One morning, as he
stared at a pot of water for his oatmeal, waiting for it to boil, he had the
epiphany. He suddenly knew what he wanted to do, all day, every day, for all
his days until his vision got so bad that he tried to use one of those neat little
"pencils" as a wand. He wanted to study Muggles.
His parents had thought the idea ridiculous. Muggle Relations was
probably the least prestigious department in the Ministry. His mother pointed
out that there was not time before graduation to earn the required O.W.L. in
Muggle Studies. He said he'd take another job and study independently until
he could sit the exam. Then his father had smirked.
"And you need a decent Obliviate. You can't work with
Muggles without an Obliviate." Arthur's mother had sighed in relief
at that, because, of all the things at which her son wasn't particularly good,
he was most particularly not good at Charms. He couldn't even change the
pattern on a teapot. He'd gone through three wands before the family had
accepted it. He'd never manage a powerful and tricky charm like
But he had. He had finally devoted himself to something like he
never had before. And, with the help of one very brave Gryffindor named
Molly Prewett, he had mastered Memory Charms - quite masterfully.
Of course, he had never expected to need to use one so soon. He
still didn't have his O.W.L. in Muggle Studies. He had applied for jobs in all
the Ministry departments his parents had recommended so that he could at
least earn some money while he studied, and had rather expected to be
testing Floo Powder batches for destination accuracy or something boring
and brainless like that. He was really quite shocked when he received the owl
from Quamble. He'd gone in for an interview and been offered a job pretty
much on the spot ("You do have a decent Obliviate, don't
you? And you live just outside Ottery St. Catchpole in Devon? Never spoken to
any of the villagers, though? No? Perfect.")
Then had come the minor caveat, but he'd said he'd do anything to
work with Muggles and he'd meant it. He understood now why they'd sought
him out. But he didn't care. This was his way in. If he could survive the year
-- just ten months, really.
He'd Flooed Molly right away to tell her and she'd smiled in that
misty odd way she'd developed. He wondered sometimes if he had perhaps
permanently befuddled her during one of his earlier charm attempts. She
seemed so different now.
When Arthur had first approached her for help, he'd actually been
terrified. The female sixth-year prefect had earned a reputation not only for
being able to Charm a textbook to talk, a thimble into a tureen of soup, and a
professor's hat into a nightingale with a full bladder, but for being able to
Hex you into next Tuesday if she didn't feel like coming up with a nice,
creative Charm. But he'd needed the best Charms teacher around, and she
was it. And he'd been lucky enough to grow on her--or that's what she told
him when he asked why she'd offered to help him with studying for his
N.E.W.T.s as well as the Memory Charms.
She'd been so proud of his results on those that she'd actually leapt
into the fireplace to hug him. That had been a bit disconcerting at the time,
but the memory was comforting now and he clung to it. He also told himself,
They're just children. And you're their teacher. You're in charge.
Those thoughts weren't nearly as comforting as the memory of Molly's hug.
Feeling a bit more confident, Arthur Weasley drew himself tall,
reminded himself that he was a Gryffindor, and tried to remember how to get
out of the car.
Twenty minutes later, he stood nervously behind a coal-colored metal
desk, very glad that Molly had charmed all of his dress-shirts to conceal any
signs of perspiration before she'd gone back to Hogwarts. He had tried to
mentally prepare himself for the day to come, but had ended up playing with
the stapler instead. That had kept him happy enough until the Head Teacher
had rung the bell for the students to enter the building.
He was only expecting six. It was a small village. It really shouldn't
have had its own school anymore, but the Ministry saw to it that Lord Muggle
School wasn't closed. Much like they saw to his teaching credentials ("Please
don't screw up. These are devils to fabricate. Our last set lost all credibility
when they found Mrs. Finch out. And there were canaries everywhere.").
He picked up a piece of pristine, crisp-edged chalk and carefully
formed the letters of his name on the board behind his desk. He at least
could go by his real name. That had been a source of nerves at first, but it
turned out that, while his family had lived in the area for generations, none of
the Muggles had ever heard the name Weasley. There was, however, a bit of a
legend about the clan of carrot-topped lords with unusual fashion sense who
had owned the land surrounding the village back in the days when lords
owned the land. Their last name was Muggle, so the legend went, and the
local school was named after one of them because Ottery St. Catchpole
Primary was just too much of a mouthful.
It was taking the children a while to reach Arthur's classroom from
the grounds. He nervously surveyed the two rows of heavy wooden desks and
the thick stone walls that were so thoroughly ancient-looking that they rather
reminded him of some of the brighter rooms at Hogwarts. The floor was
cracked and the classroom globe had a few localities labeled on it that
weren't actually independent political entities anymore. (Arthur had learned in
Chapter Four of his Muggle Studies text had only ever been recognized by
wizarding governments anyway.) The only bright spot in the room was the
one wall not occupied by banks of windows or the chalk board. It had been
inexpertly decorated by Arthur himself.
He wished he could have used magic on it, but that, of course,
would have been out of the question. It wasn't his top priority to create a
positive learning environment. Keeping appearances up and his ears open
were what was important. They were his real job.
That was what the Ministry had recruited him for: to be their eyes
and ears. It was a tricky business, keeping Muggles in the dark about witches
and wizards. Tricky enough in places like London, where at least the wizards
were scattered and discrete. But, with four old and slightly ostentatious
wizarding families around the very Muggle village of Ottery St. Catchpole, it
was one of the places the Ministry was most worried about when it came to
security breaches. Of course, adult Muggles would never mention any strange
things they'd observed if questioned by strangers, for fear of sounding crazy.
But, with children less ashamed to admit to belief in magic or seemingly
magical things and teachers in the perfect position to learn all about the lives
of their students, Arthur Weasley was positioned to be a perfect spy.
"You're damage control, too, Arthur," Quamble had said. "If there's
physical evidence you can't make go away, Memory Charms won't do you any
good. You'd have to do them every day and the effects do build up. Anything
you can' t explain or make them forget, you have to find a way to blame on
aliens. Aliens, got it? Little green men from space. They eat it right up."
"But, usually, there's not much need. Aurelia Diggory says she
spent more time keeping her own secrets from the children than dispelling
nasty local myths about us in general. The biggest trick is to never let on
anything you don't know. Always tell them to look it up. We've provided you
with a very good set of encyclopedias. Learn how to say that word."
Arthur was mumbling "en-sigh-clo-pee-di-ah"
under his breath and gesturing towards the collection in the back of the room
in a way that reminded him a bit of one of his first Charms lessons
(WingGARdium Leviosa. Swish and flick!) when his first pupil gasped.
Arthur's hand froze in mid-air. He really didn't want to have to
Obliviate anyone so soon. He'd have to at least wait until they were
all in the classroom. He moved his hand up to straighten his glasses and
turned with the widest smile he could manage before he remembered that
smiling was a sign of weakness, according to Quamble, and that he'd surely
be eaten alive. But it was too late and they'd forget the smile in a minute,
anyway. So he kept grinning.
And the boy who had gasped, eyes large and round and very much
like a mooncalf's, threw an arm behind himself and waved it around until he
made contact with the next child in line. Now with a fistful of a larger boy's
sleeve, he hissed slowly, but none-too quietly, without taking his eyes off
Arthur, "Ezra! She's not a lady!"
The boy behind him stifled a snort and Arthur stifled a sigh of
relief. He pretended not to have heard while a thin-faced girl, whose hair was
bleached lighter than her skin was tanned, squeezed past the boys.
"Timothy-" she started impatiently, then stopped. "Oh! You're right!
Well!" She stood indecisively, then twitched her hair over her shoulder in a
shrug. She matched Arthur's grin and said smoothly, "Pleased to meet you,
sir. I'm Julia." Then she stepped on the still-gaping first boy's foot.
The boy closed his mouth obediently and opened it again to say,
"I'm Timothy!" but didn't get much further than that before another girl
flounced into the classroom and dropped a curtsy.
"I am Margaret," she announced, lifting her eyes to smile at Arthur
from behind golden lashes.
"Wonderful," said Arthur weakly. There were so many of them.
"Now, if you'll all please take your seats..." The first four students had begun
to comply when two more appeared and Arthur braced himself for another
"I'm Benjamin," the boy said, sticking out his hand with an ear-to-
ear grin. "I can help you take roll, if you'd like, until you learn our names." He
was the smallest child in the class and Arthur had to look a long way down to
see into his bright hazel eyes when they shook hands. He had large
birthmarks on his forehead and chin, dark and haphazard like his short hair.
"Benjamin," Arthur repeated.
"And Julia Atwood, she's first on the roll-" the boy leaned over the
desk politely, and pointed, "And Timothy, and then that's me... Margaret
Roberts - she curtseyed you - Ezra's there, after her. And there," now he
pointed to a girl who had seated herself in the second row of desks, with hair
dark like his own, only a bit longer and thicker, "well, on the list, she's here
under Timothy. Catherine Davies."
"But we call her C.C.," interjected Julia, who was still hovering by
Arthur's desk as well.
"C.C." Arthur repeated, staring at the girl and trying to attach the
name to her. Her eyes were dark blue and solemn. Her blouse was unruffled
and white. She was wearing very sensible shoes and her hair was tucked
neatly behind her ears. He had never really tried to imagine what a girl called
C.C. would look like, but if he had, she would have been about as far from it
"Yes," said Julia, "C.C. Because she moved here last year from
Cardiff and said she used to be called Cath and so she was Cath from Cardiff,
you know, but that's so long and we got tired of saying it all the time. So now
she's C.C. for short. Isn't it perfect?"
"C.C.?" Arthur repeated. No child of his would ever go by that
name. Not that he planned on having children.
The girl in question glanced at Julia and said carefully, "Last year's
teacher called me Catherine. She was very proper, you see, about manners
and things. She said C.C. wasn't a polite name for school. I understand if you
think so, too." She paused and added quickly, "At my old school, the teacher
called me Cath."
Julia beamed at Arthur, "But you can call her C. C, of course."
Arthur straightened his bowtie and said, as thoughtfully as
possible, " I see." He wondered how far into the school year he could get
without calling the dark-haired girl by any name at all. Hopefully, it would be
longer than it took for the pinched-faced one to stop talking and take her
seat. He had forgotten about such issues as nicknames and proper names at
Hogwarts, where there wasn't really much question-Mr. Weasley, Mr. Wood,
Miss Prewett. Very simple. He liked things simple.
"Thank you, Miss Atwood," he said. The girl looked surprised and
sat down. He cleared his throat while hastily glancing down at his agenda and
read, "Now I will distribute textbooks."
That went relatively well. It was rather like the handing out of toads
or teapots to be Transfigured, only the students had to write their names
inside the covers of the books with their Muggle writing instruments, and
Arthur had to keep a list of who had what. He did this very carefully with a
Muggle fountain pen. He had tried what they called a "quill pen," but it just
wasn't the same as a proper wizard's quill. The Muggle paper was light and
flimsy, too. And very white. Over the course of that first morning, he
restrained himself five times from remarking, "My, isn't that bright," upon
revealing a new sheet. He did very much enjoy the printed lines on it, though.
They kept his script from wobbling down the page in its usual un-teacherly
The students did not notice Arthur's poor handwriting or his
enchantment with the Muggle paper. And it seemed that he had done the
bow-tie correctly, because there was no comment on that, even from the girl
who managed to comment on everything. They didn't notice anything amiss
when he remembered to launch into his carefully prepared Welcome Back to
School speech or listed the rules for the year.
What they did notice, about half-past eleven, when the sun had
climbed out of reach of the north window, was that the room was a bit dark.
Benjamin, in the corner of the room furthest from the windows, found himself
squinting to read his own writing of the year's first essay title: "What I Did on
My Summer Vacation" (The new teacher had especially encouraged them to
include anything odd they may have noticed around the village, to make it
more interesting). Puzzled Benjamin looked around at Timothy, who sat
behind him. Timothy was staring out the window.
He peered back at the page, then glanced sideways to Margaret.
She appeared to be hard at work, so he stepped on his shoe until it slid off,
and leaned over from his desk to fix it.
"Margaret. Can you see?" he asked in a whisper from the floor
between their desks. She shook her hair a bit to mean "no" and pointed her
pencil up at the lights. More precisely, she pointed at the unlit lighting
"What do we do?"
Margaret shrugged and tossed her curls this time towards Julia.
While Benjamin was trying to catch Julia's eye, Ezra, in the second row of
desks, noticed him on the floor and hissed, “What are you doing?” Benjamin
pointed up at the lack-of-lights. Then Ezra nudged the girl next to him, who
tugged lightly on one of Julia's braids.
They all looked at the ceiling, except Timothy, who was still looking
out the window. Ezra finally poked him awake, too. Then they all looked at
their teacher, who was at his desk, intently concentrating on something that
involved a lot of sellotape.
Julia nodded at Timothy, he raised his hand, and they all waited
expectantly. They had never had a teacher become so engrossed in sellotape
that she failed to notice such a disturbance in the classroom. Benjamin
scooted back into his chair in anticipation.
But nothing happened.
They all looked back up at the lights to check that they were really
out. Julia coughed a bit. Ezra coughed more loudly. But their attempts to draw
attention to the lack of lighting without drawing the attention and possible
wrath of their still-mysterious new teacher failed. Margaret had begun to
wheeze in a dramatic prelude to a sneeze when Benjamin took a deep breath
and stepped into the aisle.
He stopped a few feet in front of the teacher's desk. "Sir?" he
inquired. Arthur looked up with a start and dropped the sellotape into his lap,
where it tangled disappointingly. He felt his ears warming and wished
longingly that personal embarrassment were a worthy reason to cast Memory
Charms. It was a bit shadowy in the room just now. Maybe the boy hadn't
noticed. The shadows did not really strike Arthur as odd, as he was used to
classes in poorly lit dungeons.
"Yes?" Arthur finally responded. The class seemed to be holding
Benjamin glanced back up at the light fixtures. They were sort of
fascinating, he began to think. From this perspective you could see the
intricate workings through the glass without getting yourself blinded-he
looked back his teacher resolutely before he could get too distracted.
"We were just noticing, well, that it's getting a bit dark in here-" he
trailed off, hoping he could leave it at that, that the teacher would ask him to
get the lights on the way back to his seat, and maybe even not scold him for
getting up in the first place as he was, after all, just trying to help.
"That it is. I was just noticing myself," Arthur returned cautiously,
wondering if they wanted to see what he was doing with the tape.
Benjamin waited. He wanted very much to look back over his
shoulder to Julia or anyone-even Timothy-for a sign.
Timothy actually did come through. "Well, do you like it in
the dark or can we turn on the lights?"
This was met with a silence, during which time Benjamin wondered
if he'd get caught in whatever wrath was surely headed towards Timothy and
Arthur wondered if it was dark enough to subtly bang his head against the
He felt far too sheepish to compose a dignified response. Instead,
he was thinking desperately that one little Memory Charm really couldn't hurt.
There was a form that, if used immediately, was just about harmless to
developing minds. And Quamble had said that any government test scores
from Lord Muggle School were fixed anyway. But then Quamble interrupted
himself in Arthur's head, shouting, "Hang on, boy! What are you so
worried about? Never forget: YOU are the teacher, YOU are in charge, and
you are never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever wrong. Some of these new softies
think it's best to be open, human, and honest with children. But these aren't
just children. They're Muggle children."
The class was still waiting in silence. Arthur fingered his bowtie and
concentrated on resembling as closely as possible an indignant Professor
Doomb. But an image of Molly Prewett the day he'd accidentally skipped their
Memory Charms tutoring session for a date with Elspeth Brown overrode that.
He was now hoping that his red face was at least somewhat visible despite
the dark, as coloring was always good for intimidating effect.
"What are you?" he bellowed, or tried to. "Infants? Did your last
year's teacher turn the lights on for you? If you need lights, take care
of your own lights!"
It felt awful to shout like that. He looked around expectantly and
then added, "Please."
All six students jumped up and scrambled for the light switch.
Arthur watched very closely. All it seemed to require was a little nudge and
the whole room was amply illuminated. Ingenious, really. The next moment,
all six students were back in their seats, industriously scribbling on their
bright white leaves of paper.
"Thank you," he said. He glanced at his watch. Lunch was at noon.
"You have twenty-five minutes."
It was really too bright now to try to salvage the sellotape. He
shoved it into a desk drawer with a sigh and decided to review the science he
had planned for the afternoon instead. Quamble had warned against
attempting to teach any science or social studies other than assigning reports
from the encyclopedia. But he'd noticed, flipping through the student texts,
that there was a whole unit on the basics of Herbology. Of course, the text
didn't call it that, but he'd rather enjoyed Herbology and planting things
looked easy and fun.
The children disappeared for lunch, either home or to their
friends' homes, or just out to the schoolyard. Arthur, although very tempted
to spend as much time with Muggles as possible, was wary of lunching with
the other adults after the number of near-disasters he had hopefully averted
that morning with the children. So he lunched in his classroom alone-after
spending a few minutes of quality time with the classroom light-switch. He
noticed one in the corridor as well, and one in the loo. They were all a bit
different. He wanted very much to tour the building and try them all, but he
suspected that that might appear odd. He'd read about light-switches and
they seemed to be in very common use. He couldn't believe he hadn't thought
to turn the lights on.
Arthur was fairly certain that it had been his own six students he'd
passed by the fence that morning. Ezra's shape and Margaret's feathery hair,
which really did put one in the mind of an angel, were both still distinct in his
memory. So he kept glancing out at the yard as he ate, anxious to see if they
were back together again commiserating this time about him, commenting on
what an odd teacher he was, asking where he'd come from and did they not
have sellotape there. . .
But they did not conference about him or anyone. The first of them
to come back was the cheerful, helpful boy who reminded Arthur strongly of
an eager spotted dog, a combined effect of the large, dark birthmarks, lively
eyes, and the way he always appeared by Arthur's side. He was recognizable
from afar by his spiky hair, a style which was uncommon in the village. The
boy talked animatedly for a minute with the children eating on the school
grounds and disappeared again. A few others arrived before he came back,
bearing a striking white-and-black patched ball. Arthur hadn't noticed any
division into teams, but soon the children were all kicking at it in a somewhat
organized fashion. He decided to research this sport in his Muggle textbook,
as the rules and purpose were obviously universally understood among the
children. Margaret, Timothy, and Julia joined in when they arrived, as did the
last two of Arthur's students shortly before it was time to come back in. That
left no time for conversation.
Arthur's teaching instructions said he was to "Assess the students'
retention of mathematical concepts from previous study," so the first thing he
did when they got back inside was to ask them, "Now, can you tell me
everything that you remember learning about Arithmetic last year?" He started
trying to make notes on the board, but eventually gave up and whispered a
quick recording charm while Margaret and Timothy were arguing over
something he'd have to look up in his Muggle textbook, the student text, or
both, called a cal-Q-later.
That went on somewhat longer than he had expected so that he
barely had time to introduce the Herbology unit. Then he was sidetracked by
Margaret volunteering that she knew all about the subject already, as her
father was an "agriculturalist," Julia muttering that Margaret didn't know "all
about" anything, Timothy asking if his father was a "grickle-tourist," too,
because they both had farms, and Ezra falling out of his chair laughing.
Arthur didn't feel like that part of the day had gone too well
academically, but at least he'd managed to act fairly normal, he thought. And
soon he'd be home reading over the essays about the children's holidays and
preparing extensive lists of questions to ask when they read them aloud the
next morning. He cleaned the chalkboard, nudged the classroom light-
switch, emptied the dustbin, and nearly skipped out the door to the blue car
the Ministry had lent him for appearances.
He drove the car a few miles down the road to the carport at
Aurelia Diggory's small house, where he was staying in a spare room if
anyone asked, and minding the property while the owner was away. Arthur
would have liked that story to be true, actually, but he was the youngest and
his mother and father just weren't ready for him to leave home. "It will be
yours soon, anyway," they kept saying, even though he insisted that a place
like the Burrow really ought to go to one of his brothers, who actually
planned on having a bit of a family. But he was the youngest and being the
youngest in the Weasley home occasionally meant that you got spoiled, but
mostly meant that no one ever listened to a thing you had to say.
So instead of going inside, Arthur Apparated home directly from
the carport. His parents were nowhere to be seen and, even better, there was
a large package on the kitchen table being guarded protectively by Molly
Prewett's owl. With friends like that, who needed their parents to welcome
them after their first day on the job?
Arthur's students did have parents waiting for them, though.
They had to remind Margaret of that.
"Where are you all going?" she had demanded as they had
begun to scatter outside the school.
"Home," called Ezra shortly from across the street.
"But don't you want to go down Queen Mary Road to see - you
know - what I saw there?" Margaret asked while she hopped impatiently,
straddling her bicycle.
"Not really," he returned. "Come on C.C.," he said the girl next to
him. They were neighbors and were expected to walk home together. "My
mum'll have cookies and there's a tennis match on the telly."
"Our mums are expecting us," the girl called back to Margaret. "We
could get permission and come tomorrow. Wait – no - Timothy's got piano.
No one shook their head, so Julia said, "Right then. Wednesday.
Everybody check." Then they parted: Benjamin to the shop where his father
worked, C.C. with Ezra, and the rest of them heading home, all of them
forgetting to wonder about their new teacher who was not quite like any
teacher they'd had before, and not just because he did not wear dresses or