A/N: Long chapter is long.
This Isn't Hogwarts
When Dave finally arrived home that evening, his father was sitting in the living room watching the news. Paul looked up, saw the bruises covering his son's face, sighed, and said, "Again, Dave?"
Paul muted the television and stood up, brushing a hand over his goatee. "You want to tell me what happened?"
Dave shrugged. "I said something I shouldn't've, and I got beat up."
Paul considered this for a minute, then nodded. "Well, as long as you understand why it happened. Are you in trouble for it?"
"I don't really know. I don't think it's anything big."
"Are you suspended? Extra detention?"
Paul nodded a second time. "Okay. There's ice in the freezer." Dave turned towards the kitchen. "Hey, there's a basketball game on if you want to watch," Paul said.
"Uh, no, I'm okay. I've got some work to do." Dave shrugged again. "History stuff."
"Okay, sure. You need any help with it, you let me know. I didn't get my masters in European war history for nothing."
As Paul went back to the television, Dave grabbed some ice from the freezer along with a can of Coke and headed upstairs, shutting his bedroom door behind him. He did have work to do, but it wasn't for history class; not many people knew that he was actually really good at history and he hadn't needed his dad's help with it since the fourth grade. Instead, Rachel had given him the assignment to find a song that would be fitting for the duet she'd so casually thrust upon him. He'd protested by saying that he had little to no music knowledge and that they'd probably be better off with something she knew, but she'd rolled her eyes and said decisively, "Don't be ridiculous, Dave, it's your apology. You've got to choose the song."
He pulled out of his pocket a piece of paper with Rachel's ridiculously neat handwriting listing the qualifications she'd defined for the song. According to her, it had to be A) in Dave's wheelhouse, B) of a subject matter he was somewhat uncomfortable with, and C) lyrics that obviously stated that he was at least willing to try his best to be part of the Glee club for as long as he was a member. Dave shook his head, having absolutely how he was going to find a song that met Rachel's freakishly specific standards. He sighed, put the bag of ice against the side of his head, and dove into Internet Land.
He wasn't entirely sure how long it had been when he loaded yet another YouTube video, predicting that this song would be just as useless as all the others he'd found, and realized that he'd finally found a song that fit the bill perfectly. Rachel had left him with the instructions to "go home, get on the computer, find a song, and then call me as soon as you find one so that I can start working on the arrangement immediately," and had written her phone number on the top right corner of the sheet of paper she'd given him, punctuating it with a shiny gold star sticker. Now, Dave grabbed his cell phone off the side of his desk and punched in her number.
A groggy and slightly confused voice answered on the fourth ring. "Hello?"
"Um... yeah, who is this?"
There was a pause. "Oh. Oh, right. What is it?"
Dave frowned. "Um... you told me to call you as soon as I found the right song."
"I didn't mean in the middle of the night."
Dave glanced at the tiny clock in the bottom corner of his laptop screen. It read 12:52 A.M. "O-oh, uh... whoops?" He hadn't even noticed that it had gotten dark outside, let alone that it was after midnight.
Rachel sighed on the other end. "That's okay, just give me the name of the song and where I can find it, and I'll listen to it in the morning while I'm on the elliptical."
Dave read her the keywords that she'd need, and he could hear her scratching them down on a notepad.
"Okay, thanks, Dave." She yawned. "Good night."
"Uh, yeah, and sorry about waking you-"
Dave shook his head, glanced at the tiny clock again, and reached into his backpack to grab his history homework.
Tina tried to stay out of drama as much as possible. She loved gossiping about other people's relationship troubles, hair/boob jobs, style changes, family hardships, etcetera, but when any of that entered her own life she felt pretty miserable, so she made a point to stay on the sidelines as much as she could. Which, in this particular club, was a lot easier said than done. Still, she liked to think that she'd done a pretty good job of it, all things considered. When Babygate had gone down, she'd said nothing. When Artie had started dating Brittany for reasons that still remained dubious, she'd accepted it without so much as a word. When Karofsky had first strode into the choir room and awkwardly taken a seat, she hadn't protested. But now, watching him hesitantly walk back in two days after blatantly insulting both Kurt and the rest of the club, Tina was the first to stand up and voice her opinion.
"No. You are not just waltzing back in here and expecting us to pretend nothing happened," she snapped, pointing an accusing finger at him. Most of the other kids had also dropped what they were doing and had stood up, either glaring at the football player or watching him questioningly. Even Mr. Schue looked surprised.
"Get the hell out of here, man," Finn spat from the other side of the room, sanding down the dowels for their wands.
Dave opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly Rachel was in front of him, facing the rest of the club. "Wait," she said. "I asked Dave to come back."
"WHAT?" shouted Finn, Mercedes, Tina, and Puck in unison.
"Why would you do that!"
"Whose side are you on?"
Tina looked over at Kurt, who had been working on sewing cloth onto the skeleton of the dragon but was now watching the exchange in silence. He appeared neither angry nor offended that Karofsky was there, and seemed to be genuinely curious as to what the football player would do or say.
"Hear me out," Rachel said quickly, holding up her hands in a peacemaking gesture. "We need people to join next year, which means we need someone to play Quirrell now, and we don't have time to find someone else. Dave has assured me that he's truly sorry about what happened, and maybe I haven't forgiven him, but I'm at least willing to let him try to make amends. I know that my forgiveness isn't the most important-" Her gaze flitted over to Kurt but then refocused on the entire club. "-but maybe you all, or at least some of you, could follow my example."
"Rachel, were you even there?" Finn asked incredulously.
Her jaw twitched slightly. Tina knew that look. "Yes, Finn, I was, actually. And what I remember is Dave accidentally saying something offensive, and you taking that as justification to beat him to a pulp. You've said plenty of accidentally offensive things too, Finn, and no one's beaten you up."
Finn swallowed and glanced at Kurt, shifting to his other foot.
Rachel spoke again to the entire room. "How can we expect Dave to be able to change his views if we don't give him a chance?"
"That is a fair point," Blaine said reluctantly.
At long last, Kurt stepped forward. "So give him a chance," he said to Rachel. "Don't do all of his talking for him." He turned to Dave, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
Tina could see Dave tense up a little now that the spotlight was suddenly on him. "Um, I just... I know that me saying sorry doesn't exactly mean anything any more, but I'd still like to say it. I'm sorry for what I said; I really am. Not just 'cause Finn beat me up, but because it hurt your feelings. And honestly, I've been a real jackass. Actually, that probably doesn't even come close to covering it." There were a few murmurs of agreement, but Dave plowed on. "But I hope that some of you, at least, can give me a chance, like Rachel said. And you were right, Mr. Schue, I was just scared of looking stupid. So, in order to show you that I can get over that, I want to perform for you guys."
There was a loud snort from the bleachers, and all eyes turned to see Puck quickly look up at the ceiling in an attempt to look innocent.
Dave hesitated, but forced himself to continue. "I guess maybe if I can get over looking dumb, I can get over some other stuff too," he finished.
Mr. Schue finally decided to step in. "Okay, Dave," he said. "Show us what you've got."
Tina took her seat again, wondering why the hell Rachel had to be so damn logical.
Rachel pulled copies of the sheet music for their number out of her binder and handed them to the band guys as Dave, Mr. Schue, and a couple of the other guys worked to move all the costumes, props, and the folding work table off to the sides of the room so that there was space enough on the floor to move around. Finally, Schuester and the boys sat down on the bleachers and waited for Dave and Rachel to start.
Dave took a deep breath, remembering what Rachel had said - "Just give it your all, and you'll be fine" - and signalled to the band dudes to start.
"I hate this place! I can barely keep the misery off my face!" he began, and he could see most of the other kids quirk their eyebrows, wondering if this was some weird attempt to insult them even further.
"Yeah, there's one place I'd much rather be," Rachel chimed in, a hand on her hip and an award-winning smile on her face.
"Taking Transfiguration and Arithmancy, and hanging with my friends in the Owlery," Dave sang, watching as surprise and mild amusement crossed his audience's faces. The tune didn't have a lot of variation and was easy to sing, which made it so much less nerve-wracking to be the center of attention. Feeling a little more confident, he kept up the rhythm. "But instead I'm learning parts of speech, and trying not to fall asleep, and avoiding the only girl in school who might like me..."
Santana laughed a little more loudly than she should have at that.
"It's so grotesque," Rachel started in on the second verse. "When the guy sitting next to me drools all over his desk - and I almost raise my hand to complain..."
"But then I realize that I wanna be doing the same," Dave cut in. "So I put my head down on my desk as well. And suddenly I'm learning a spell to make my teacher's head swell, but then he wakes me up and I can't help but yell..."
"ENGORGIO!" Rachel cried, pumping her fist in the air. At this point, most of the other kids had relented their stony expressions and were laughing along with the song.
"You know what's gross," sang Dave. "When the lunch meat looks like three-day-old soggy toast. But as I ate it anyway I overheard, this guy I hardly know calling me a nerd, so I cast Sectum Sempra on him inside my mind."
"I wish there were House Elves making my food," Rachel sang wistfully. "And everything was perfectly spiced, and the only one being rude was the poltergeist. And here's what's true-"
"I'd do pretty much anything to go to wizard school! I'd even call Delores Umbridge my friend..."
"...if it meant I never had to go to gym again, but I look around at all of this crap that's part of my life." Rachel slumped her shoulders and feigned misery. "No ghosts stalking the halls-"
"-or hanging in the bathroom stalls, and the stairs don't move, 'cause there's no stairs at all!"
Dave and Rachel joined voices to sing the chorus. "This isn't Hogwarts! This is a concrete box, and the pictures on the wall are never gonna talk, and the teachers don't care that the kids don't try, and the most magical thing we have is flourescent lights!"
"And they don't put you in Hufflepuff if you're not cool-" sang Rachel, and they began to alternate lines.
"Instead they sort you in the parking lot after school-"
"And I think if I looked into the Mirror of Erised-"
"I'd be wearing wizard robes with gold and red..."
"I'm not saying I'm not proud to be a nerd," shrugged Rachel.
"But public school ain't no place for a wizard," agreed Dave.
"Yeah, public school ain't no place for a wizard!" they sang in unison. "Public school ain't no place for a wizard!"
The final drum beat of the song was hit, and Rachel giggled as she took a bow. Mr. Schue was laughing and standing up as he clapped, and about three-quarters of the other kids were clapping as well. The remaining few who were refusing to clap were Puck, Finn, Mercedes, and Lauren, and all of them except for Finn were clearly trying to hide their amusement. Only Finn was sitting at the back, his arms crossed and a scowl etched into his face.
Kurt stepped forward, his hands on his hips. "Well, I have to say, if that had been taped, Jacob Ben Israel would have absolutely ruined your reputation," he laughed. Shaking his head, he held out his hand. "Apology accepted. At least for now."
Dave grinned, relieved, and shook his hand. A couple of the other kids whooped and clapped.
What little tension was left was shattered by a statement from Brittany. "Wait, I thought a Hufflepuff was a kind of hamster..."
A/N: On a technical note, this number was actually surprisingly difficult to write because there was no choreography to describe, so I kind of felt like I was copy/pasting the lyrics, which is really at the absolute top of the list of Things Not To Do When Writing Fanfiction. Still, the mental picture of Karofsky and Rachel singing that song together is endlessly amusing, so I still had a lot of fun.
Credit for the song, titled "This Isn't Hogwarts", goes to Hank Green in all his incredible Nerdfighter awesomeness. Does he know that I used his song? Nope. Do I want him to know? HELL YES. If people could send this link to him, that would be TOTALLY AWESOME. Oh, and review too. That would be nice.
DFTBA! I'm off to make bread.