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Muggles 101

By Yitzi Turniansky

Scifi / Humor

Chapter 1

Charity Burbage couldn't find the proper room. She had tried to find the Charms room, but it was all so confusing. And those damn staircases...

Is this... the Muggle Studies room?

She found herself standing in the doorway of a room with sleek black desks and a wall lined with books. On several desks there were various implements that Charity did not recognize. A shadow fell over her. Slowly, she turned around and looked up. Towering over her was the Muggle Studies professor, Professor Tornbeck. Charity cowered in fear and her mind raced. Who knew what sorts of horrible torture techniques this formidable foe knew from his study of the Muggles? She had heard something from her parents about Muggles using burning steaks, but she wasn't sure if Professor Tornbeck knew about this. What sorts of spells could counter Muggle magic? Did she even know any counterspells, for that matter? Calm DOWN, Charity.

"Hello there!," he boomed. Charity couldn’t hold back her shriek and she cried, “I’m a vegan, I don’t even like steak!” The man smiled and softened his voice. "First day?" Charity nodded meekly. "What class do you have now, young lady?" Charity replied "Ch-ch-charms," with all the grace and sangfroid of a baked potato. Luckily, the old man proved to be much less of a threat than Charity had anticipated. He dismissed her fears about missing her first lesson with a wave and a laugh. "I'll just tell old Flitwick that you were having a lesson in Muggle Studies! Come, let me show you something."

He led Charity into his classroom. She really should have been worried, but her curiosity overwhelmed her now quelled fear. Besides, she was sure Hogwarts must have some sort of wards against anything truly bad happening to little first year girls. She walked past the strange instruments, one of which started making alarming beeping sounds, but it immediately was placated by Tornbeck giving it a good smack on the head. They arrived at an ordinary looking door, but there was a small silver artifact slipped through a metal hole that prevented the door from opening or closing. The Muggle Studies professor twisted the front of the device, seemed to stop and think, twisted it in the other direction, and then twisted it back in the original direction. To Charity’s curiosity, the device made a click and separated, allowing the professor to remove it and open the door to the backroom.

What she saw in that backroom was astonishing. Walls completely lined with artifacts. Muggle artifacts. But now, she saw Hogwarts' Muggle Treasury in its full splendor, and she could not stop thinking about it. This made her eyes light up even more than the time her family took a tour of Gringotts Bank and she saw mountains of glimmering galleons. Yesterday, the phrase would have been laughable to Charity. The artifacts were not all beautiful, in fact, some of them were quite shocking looking. Underneath each item was a white label that said such strange things as “astrolabe”, and “grappling hook”. What on earth could they possibly mean?

I think I know what NEWT I want to take when I'm older...


"Okay, class, file in. Come on, I haven't all day!"

Charity Burbage was excited as ever for her first class of the term. A group of pale- looking Gryffindor third years filed into her classroom. She knew that not everyone was as excited about Muggle Studies as she was, but it was a critical subject, in her opinion. Wizards lived very cloistered lives, she often found. When she first became interested in Muggle Studies, she silently swore to herself that her children would be friends with Muggles, no matter what. And so many wizards were not just sheltered, but were raised to look down on Muggles, and that was just a shame. The Muggles have so much to offer wizards. Although most wizards did not educate their children until they were old enough to go to wizarding school, Charity sent her young daughter, Azelma, to Muggle public school, which started much younger. To be sure, educating your child on how to interact with Muggles (“under no circumstances are you to ever let anyone at school know you are a witch unless we meet them first!”) and dealing with the many questions that inevitably arise that neither parent knew enough to answer (“Mummy, why did the Pilgrims kill the Indians?”), but it was all worth it to hear Azelma chatter on and on about the many Muggle things she was learning. The best of both worlds, that’s what she has, and as soon as she becomes old enough, she will attend Hogwarts.

The last of the students found their seats and stared around the room. "Welcome to your first day of Muggle Studies. I am Professor Burbage. Muggles are fascinating subjects, but in this classroom, we will not treat them as subjects. They are our peers. I seek to enlighten you about the Muggle world, and if you keep an open mind, you will discover that Muggles are just as human as any witch or wizard. You may have heard some things from your parents that may conflict with what you hear in this classroom, and I will be more than happy to answer your questions, but please, please keep an open mind this term."

She was surprised that some students looked interested. Muggle Studies was a core class, and as such, students who'd rather be anywhere else were forced to take her class and once they got a passing grade, they never looked back. Charity was sure that whatever first-day-of-classes enthusiasm was at work would quickly wear off once the class got into heated debates about blood purity. One boy in particular, a red-headed little thing, was staring at her intently with his hand raised.

Charity pointed at him with her wand. "Yes?"

"Hello Professor Burbage," he squeaked "My name is Arthur. My father has told me about Muggles. He used to say that they're primitive creatures, like ogres, but less magical or deadly, and only slightly less smelly. Is it true that they have to burn things to see at night?"

"Well Arthur, thank you for your question. You see class, many wizards think a lot like Mr- er, what was your last name, boy?"

"Weasley, ma'am."

"Like Mr. Weasley's father, many wizards think that Muggles are helpless, because they are non-magical. But Muggles are very adept, just like magical people. A crucial thing to understand is that they don't know about magic, so they don't expect magic to exist. They don't feel robbed of anything, because they don't assume that that's how life works. For example, imagine you grew up not knowing ice cream existed. Would you feel like you’re missing out on ice cream? No. Now, to address Mr. Weasley's father's claim that Muggles need to burn torches to see at night: It is true that they cannot perform the Lumos spell. But as I have said, Muggles are very clever, and they developed devices that produce the same effect, even without magic. Excuse me for a moment."


This was Charity's favorite part of the class, her main reason for teaching here at Hogwarts, instead of losing herself in the magical Non-Magical world: Hogwarts' Muggle Treasury. Here, just behind a black metal door in her classroom, was a spacious museum with old, creaky shelves filled with Muggle artifacts. And not just modern artifacts; this collection had been started by Baron Lygwam Rotworth V, the first Muggle Studies professor in Hogwarts' history, the man who coined the word 'Muggle'. He pioneered the field, and when he wasn't teaching wizards and witches the wonderful ways of the world they had chosen to leave, he began the close study of Muggle artifacts. He gathered compasses of various makes, swords, bridles, and the piece de resistance, the artifact that most intrigued Rotworth. He called it a "fiery weapon not unlike an explosion spell" He considered this to be "the horn of Muggle innovation. These blighters sure do try to overcome their lack of magical ability. I will investigate further." Of course, modern Muggle Studies experts knew that it was called a 'bomb', from which the later spell "Bombarda" got its name, and that Muggles would spend centuries improving on it. "How interesting," Charity often mused to herself "that wizards copy from Muggles almost as much as Muggles copy from wizards, and yet, most wizards don't even know it. Or they refuse to acknowledge it." Charity moved past the weaponry shelves, past the time pieces, mechanical calculators, prototypes of various vehicles, and the newspaper clippings, and arrived at the electronics shelf. This, Charity considered to be the greatest section of the lot. She pulled out a light bulb, although her eyes flitted over the phonograph and the rusty radio longingly. She made her way out of the storage room and returned to the class.

"This is called a light bulb. It was invented by a Muggle artificer to provide light, not unlike a Lumos, but for Muggles. You see, when many wizards, like the elder Mr. Weasley, think of Muggles, they think of Muggles from Godric Gryffindor's time. Those Muggles were very different from Muggles today. Just as I'm sure many of you can think of all the different ways wizards have changed since then?" The class murmured in agreement as she passed the light bulb around. “Now, aren’t you curious how this device works?,” she asked, knowing the answer. The class responded in the affirmative and so Charity used a summoning spell to summon a battery and two wires. She connected the wires to the lightbulb, and one wire to the battery. Holding the second wire’s end close to the battery, she paused for dramatic effect and pressed the wire to the battery, lighting up the bulb. The class gave a half-enthusiastic cheer, and one student even clapped. Ah well, it’s still the first day.

She broke the circuit and continued her lecture. "That's what's so bloody brilliant about Muggles!" Charity was getting excited now. "They have changed so much! They have medicines, and technology, and they even surpass us in a few ways! Just because their photographs don't move doesn't mean they're lesser life forms. They have so much to offer us. I hope you'll all find their world as beautiful as I find it. Class dismissed."

If Charity Burbage could have gone back into the Treasury and gotten a photo camera and taken a picture of Arthur Weasley's face as she finished her lecture, she would have framed it and put it above her desk as a reminder of the rewards of the discipline of education. Never had she seen so much awe on a third year's face as she saw under that flaming hair that first day.

"I think I should like to marry a Muggle," the awkward boy blurted out. "I mean- someday. But my father would never allow it. He'd hate me."

"Well," Charity began carefully, "some wizards have very… closed minds about Muggles. Many centuries ago, in what the Muggles call the 'Dark Ages', Muggles hated wizards and witches, and tried to kill them. They were afraid. That's why we separated ourselves from them. But Muggle society, as I hope to teach you this year, has changed. Not only have they developed a kind of magic of their own, but they are more tolerant and loving. More than most wizards…" she muttered this last part quietly. She gestured to Arthur to wait as she ducked into the Treasury. She replaced the lightbulb and came out with a small bag, with little odds and ends of which the Treasury had plenty of duplicates: a small snuffbox from the Victorian era, an ancient trainer, a rubber duck, and more. Arthur looked into the bag and back at Charity with a grateful look on his face. "Thank you," he said.

"No, thank you. Stay interested." Arthur Weasley left.


Charity closed the door behind her, and locked it with a Masterlock, as well as a locking charm. She sat down in her office, which was behind another back door, and doodled in her spiral notebook. Charity knew things about Muggles that she would never teach here. No wizard could possibly handle it unless they were connected to the Muggle community somehow.

Not yet, anyway.

Charity's Aunt Joanne married a Muggle. She knew he was a very nice man, an accountant, but her grandfather shunned his daughter and her spouse. Intermarriage was a heinous crime then, just as it is now. Mrs. Burbage had always loved her sister, and did not cut Charity off from Joanne’s family, so Charity had a unique perspective into the Muggle world. In her own office, Charity had pencils and pens, not quills. There weren't any light bulbs, but she watched a little telly, when no one else was about. She knew.

THEY SENT. AN OBJECT. INTO. SPACE.

No wizard could ever do that, not even Dumbledore.

Muggles were not just keeping up with the magical world, they were quickly racing past it. And, if they knew about magic, they could easily kill all magical life. Charity knew about terrible wizarding wars, but if wizards and Muggles met, it wouldn't even be a war. Charity knew. She knew about the terrible Muggle war. Some wizards knew too, but they didn't know what Charity had been told and what she had seen on the telly. They didn’t know about how the Muggle War had been ended. And, she had realized, how the Muggles could end us.

"That's why what I do is so important," she thought. "Wizards and witches need to abandon their hateful ways if Muggles and wizards can ever share technology. Otherwise, the hubris of our kind will get us all killed."

When the lights go down and there's nothing left to be...

"It's up to me. Someone's got to teach these children."

When the lights go down and the truth is all you see...

"The possibility of a future Muggle-Wizard alliance starts with me."


R.I.P

Charity Burbage

1890-1997

Regrets took the place of her dreams.

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