Word Count: 3880
Summary: Arthur and Molly visit the muggle primary school of James Sirius and Albus Severus
Ginny Potter looked at the clock as she wiped Lily’s face. Any time now… and sure enough, she heard the thunder of his feet as James and Albus came bounding into the kitchen. “Mommy, mommy, guess what?” James shouted. “Our school is having a Grandparent’s Day! Can Grandma and Grandpa come?” Albus jumped up and down. “Please, please, please! You know Grandpa loves muggle things!”
Ginny pulled her boys into a motherly embrace and then lifted Lily from her chair. “Tell me more. It sounds exciting!”
Before James could begin, Harry came out of the fireplace, dusted off his cloak and gave Ginny a kiss. “I’m home!” he said as he was attacked by his three children.
Ginny laughed. “So we’ve noticed! James and Albus were just filling me in on school today. James was telling me about …”
“Grandparent’s Day!” James interrupted. Albus broke in. “We’ll walk to school with Grandpa and Grandma and show them to our rooms and they’ll meet our teachers!”
Harry was bemused. “So Grandma and Grandpa are going to school with you? When?”
“Next Friday!” James suddenly looked solemn. “They’ll want to come, right?”
“Well, let’s ask them,” Ginny responded. She threw some powder in the fire. “Hi, Mom! The kids would like you two to visit their school next Friday morning. Are you available?”
“What a kind invitation!” Molly turned around. “Arthur!” As he was coming to the fireplace, she smiled to herself. She had never sent her children to a muggle school, preferring to teach them herself until they went to Hogwarts. When Harry and Ginny had told her they were sending their children to a local school she’d been wary. Now she could see for herself what the school was like.
Arthur’s face appeared. “How are my favorite Potters this afternoon?”
“You can come to school with us next Friday!” said James excitedly. “And you’ll meet our teachers and see where we sit!” added Albus. James continued, “Please, can you come?”
The flames of the fire accentuated how Arthur’s eyes lit up. “Well, I certainly can’t miss that! I’ve never seen the inside of a muggle school before. How exciting! What time should we be there?”
“7:30 will be fine,” said Ginny. “We’ll fill you in on the details when we come to the Burrow this Sunday afternoon for tea.”
Eager to begin their trip to the school, Arthur and Molly walked into the Potter kitchen at seven the following Friday morning after apparating just outside the front gate. The grandchildren flew into their arms. “My, you’re looking smart today,” Arthur said with a smile. Molly disentangled herself. “Are you two ready to escort us while your parents head off to work?”
“Hold on, Dad,” Ginny said as she gave him a hug too. “Albus has been growing so fast his favorite t-shirt is getting tight. Let me just loosen it a bit.” Ginny waved her wand. She smoothed out his hair at the same time. “There you go! Now, off you go, and have fun!”
The four set off in high spirits. Their chatter made the ten minute walk pass quickly and they soon arrived at the local primary school. James excitedly tugged his grandfather to his classroom while Albus took Molly down a different hall.
James and Arthur stopped outside a classroom at the end of a corridor. As he walked inside, Arthur saw that the room was bright, with windows lining one side. A multitude of colorful children’s drawings were hung on the cork boards on the walls. A short woman with a kind, round face, dark, curly hair and glasses, wearing a school sweatshirt and cotton slacks, greeted them.
“Hi. I’m Mrs. Ackerly. James, this must be your grandfather,” she said with a cheery, friendly smile.
James beamed with pride as he let go of Arthur’s hand. “Good morning, Mrs. Ackerly. This is my grandfather, Arthur Weasley. Grandpa, this is Mrs. Ackerly.”
Arthur smiled and held out his hand. “Hello, Mrs. Ackerly. James talks a lot about how much he enjoys coming to school.”
The teacher took his hand. “James is a good student with an active imagination. He’s a delight. Please look around. I’m sure you’ll spot some of his creative works.”
As he gazed around the room, Arthur’s eyes fell on a fish tank in the back corner. “James, is that a real aquamiar?” he whispered to his grandson.
James giggled at his grandfather’s mistake. “Yes, Grandpa, it’s a real aquarium. Want to see it?” They walked over to it.
“Fascinating,” Arthur said, looking intrigued. Peering at the tank, he added, “I’m surprised the fish like it so dark, though,”
“Oh, Mrs. Ackerly said the light was burnt out. But look at this, Grandpa.” James pointed down with a conspiratorial look.
Arthur sucked in his breath. “Oh, my, what a wonderful plug!” He leaned over to take a closer look.
“Do you know anything about aquariums?” Startled, Arthur bumped his head on the table holding the fish tank. Rubbing it, he stood up. “I’m just interested in the mechanics of one,” he told Mrs. Ackerly.
“I was hoping you would when I saw you looking at the tank and not the fish. The light stopped working a month ago and it’s beyond its warranty.”
Warranty? Arthur made a mental note to ask Harry and Ginny when he took James home. He always liked to learn about muggle activities. “Perhaps if you can show me …?”
James tugged his grandfather’s arm. “Grandpa can fix anything!” he stated.
Mrs. Ackerly flipped the switch. Arthur watched closely. “I don’t see anything happening.”
“And that’s the problem!” Mrs. Ackerly laughed.
Arthur looked down and James and smiled. “My guess is that you need a new plug. I just happen to have an extra one with me and the tools I need to replace it. Would you like me to take care of it? It would only take a minute. ”
“A plug? I thought the light was burnt out.” She looked doubtful. “Well, if you’d like to give it try, there’s nothing to lose I suppose. Oh, Ashdon’s grandparents just arrived. I’ll talk to you later.” She walked to the door.
Arthur bent over the James conspiratorially. “Just watch a master at work!” He leaned over to the plug again, looked around to make sure no one could see him, and did a small, quick flick with his wand. “See? After I switched the plugs I just did a charm to have a light come on when anyone touched that switch, and to turn off if they touched it again. The plug I had was a duplicate anyway, and now I have a type I hadn’t seen before. Now, don’t tell anyone, all right?”
James nodded, his enthusiasm bubbling behind his eyes.
Arthur looked around the room again. On the back wall, one corkboard had a handwritten label on top saying “When I Grow Up.” Tacked to it were sheets of paper. Arthur strolled over. On the board each of the students had completed the sentence, “I want to be …” Arthur read some of the responses. Annie wanted to be a veterinarian, Daniel wanted to be a fireman, Georgia wanted to be a movie star. He found the one he was looking for. James had carefully written, “I want to be a magician.” He gave a broad smile and looked for James who came over. “I think that that can be arranged, James.”
Mrs. Ackerly, temporarily free, came over as well. “James seems very enthusiastic about being a magician,” she smiled.
Arthur nodded. “I guess it runs in the family,” he said smoothly. “I have two sons who run a shop selling supplies to magicians.”
“I want to go to the magic school!” James interrupted.
“Of course you will, young man!” Arthur answered. “But you have to wait until you’re old enough.”
“I’ve heard of clown schools,” mused the teacher. “It makes sense that magicians too would have a school. Well, you certainly have an interesting family. James said he had an uncle who works with wild animals in Romania. And of course with his father working for the police and his mother as a sports reporter, he has a lot of different role models.”
Arthur desperately tried to remember what Ginny and Harry had said were their cover stories. “True. I and my third son have desk jobs in the Ministry, and another son works in a bank.”
Mrs. Ackerly stopped smiling. “Before Remembrance Day last November, James also mentioned an uncle who died in battle. Was that your son too, or was he from his father’s side?”
Arthur felt a brief pang as he always did when Fred was mentioned. “That was my son.”
“I lost a cousin in the desert too. He was a Royal Marine.” There was a short, awkward silence. Mrs. Ackerly glanced around the room to make sure she wasn’t needed anywhere. “James is very creative. Would you like to see some of the short stories he wrote?”
“Of course!” The three of them ambled over to the teacher’s desk.
Mrs. Ackerly walked behind the desk and pulled out a heavy oak chair. She opened a drawer, took out a folder, and quickly leafed through it. “Here they are!”
Arthur wasn’t surprised that the “short stories” were each a paragraph or two long. He ruffled James’ hair as he read the first one. “Nice story, son.”
The teacher smiled. “It’s interesting that he has the prince and princess fighting together against an evil wizard. At this age, most boys ignore girls or write about rescuing princesses, not fighting side by side with them.”
Arthur looked down at James. “You know your mom well. I can’t see her waiting to be rescued either.”
Mrs. Ackerly handed him the second sheet. “Here’s another nice story, this time about dragons.”
Arthur skimmed through it. After carefully scrutinizing the accompanying crayon illustration, he recognized the dragon was a Hungarian Horntail. The grandfather smiled to himself, thinking Charlie would appreciate how well James depicted the species. He then carefully phrased a question to James. “I like how the three managed to tame the dragon. I’m curious, though – you have two knights who are boys and one who’s a girl. Doesn’t the other knight have a girlfriend?”
James looked up with a serious look. “Yeah, but she’s still too young to ride a dragon yet. Dragons are very dangerous even if they are tame, you know.”
“Oh, of course.” Arthur softly chuckled. He was looking forward to telling Harry and Ginny about James’ stories.
Mrs. Ackerly smiled at James. “James actually got into a bit of dispute with Gregory when he read the story to the class. Gregory said girls couldn’t be knights. Of course I mentioned Joan of Arc.”
Arthur smiled, making a mental note to look up this person. She was obviously an important muggle.
“I was thinking about Aunt Hermione,” James confessed. “She’s brave enough to tame and ride a dragon and SHE’S a girl. Well, used to be, anyway. Now she’s a grown-up.”
Arthur grinned. “You’re right, James. She’s even brave enough to ride a dragon and THEN tame it.”
“This aunt sounds like another interesting family member! What does she do?”
Arthur thought quickly. “She’s sort of an, umm, human rights activist.”
“Well, she must be very successful at it if she could tame a dragon.”
“Yes, she’s a very successful advocate for the rights of others,” Arthur agreed, thinking of the werewolf, house-elf, and goblin legislation Hermione had managed to get through the ministry.
Mrs. Ackerly waved a hand. “Our reading nook is over in that corner. James, why don’t you show your grandfather your favorite books?”
James pulled his grandfather over. Bookshelves were arranged so as to make a semi-enclosed area. Within it, pillows were scattered on the floor and a chair was set with its back against the wall. A half dozen of James’ classmates were lounging on the floor, some in quiet conversation. “Grandpa, look,” whispered James. “This is one of the books that talks about magic!”
Arthur looked curiously at the book. “Really? Can I read it?” He was interested in how the muggles would portray magic. James gave him the book and he sat down on the chair. James stood next to the armrest.
“Jack and the Beanstalk,” Arthur read aloud. “Hmm, that doesn’t sound magical!”
James giggled. “Read it, Grandpa!”
Arthur turned to the first page. “Once upon a time, a poor widow lived with her son…”
He looked up to see the other children in the nook looking up at him. “Would you like to hear the story too?”
Eager with anticipation, they replied with a chorus of “Yeah!” and “Can we?”
“OK, gather around.” Arthur was reminded of when he used to read to his children. “So, a poor widow and her son lived in a cottage.” He stopped to look at the picture. Something was very wrong with the book. He unobtrusively fingered his wand under his sweater and pointed it at the picture. The children suddenly became entranced. “Hey, the pictures are moving! It’s like a TV!”
Arthur suddenly remembered that muggle pictures didn’t move. However, the kids looked so entranced … He came to a sudden decision. One time wouldn’t hurt. He continued.
Mrs. Ackerly looked over. The sudden excitement in the reading corner had caught her attention, but things were now quiet. Mr. Weasley seemed to be holding the children’s attention, so she resumed greeting grandparents.
Arthur was enjoyed reading to a small crowd. He turned another page. “But overnight, one of the beans sprouted and grew and grew and grew until the beanstalk reached into the clouds.”
“See, Grandpa?” interjected James. “Magic beans!”
“My, you’re right!” smiled Arthur.
“Wow, it looks like the beanstalk is actually growing!” declared one of the girls in an awed voice. “That didn’t happen last time we read the story!”
At that, Arthur looked a bit guilty and froze the picture. “Isn’t reading wonderful? It can put images into your mind so that you can see things come alive! Now, to continue …” However, seeing the disappointed faces before him, he secretly fingered his wand again. Maybe the movements of the pictures should be a little more subtle.
It seemed that all too soon he was at the end of the story. “Jack and his mother lived happily ever after,” he concluded. He looked at the children on the floor. He unobtrusively gave a final two flicks of his wand. The pictures froze.
“OK, everyone, I think Mrs. Ackerly is indicating that it’s time to go to the next activity.” He stood up and placed the open book on the rocking chair. Reluctantly, his audience stood up too.
At the end of the day, as Mrs. Ackerly was straightening up that afternoon before heading home, she picked up the book from the chair. She was about to close it when the picture caught her attention. It was odd – she had read that story repeatedly to her class, but she’d never noticed how the faces of the townspeople looked just like the faces of the students in her class. She looked at it for a moment, then closed it and put it back on the shelf.
Earlier that morning, as his brother and grandfather walked away, Albus grabbed his grandmother’s hand more tightly, tugging her eagerly. “This way, Grandma,” he told her, happy to be her guide today.
At the end of the corridor a woman stood by a door to a classroom that buzzed with noise behind her. “Miss Morrison, this is my grandma, Mrs. Weasley,” Albus said politely.
Molly put out her hand. “A pleasure to meet you! Please, call me Molly.”
“I’m so glad you could come today,” Miss Morrison replied, smiling. She was short woman with blond, wavy hair and lively blue eyes peering out of a slightly scarred but friendly face. She seemed full of energy. Molly liked her immediately. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting more of Albus’ family. As I told his parents, I’m impressed by his awareness of current events.”
Molly smiled back, a bit confused but hiding it. Maybe Ginny and Harry talked about muggle news in the house, even though she’d never heard them doing so. At least she hoped the teacher meant muggle news and that Albus hadn’t been mentioning something from the Daily Prophet. “Ah, are you referring to anything in particular?”
Miss Morrison glanced down the hall to make sure no more grandparents needed to be greeted at the moment. As the entered the sunny classroom, Molly saw that some other grandparents were already there. Miss Morrison looked around to make sure none of the others needed her right away and then motioned to her old oak desk which had a guitar on the chair behind it. The three walked over to it, Albus still holding his grandmother’s hand. The teacher picked up a month old newspaper and showed Molly the front page picture of the newly-elected prime minister leaving 10 Downing Street with some aides in the background.
“When I showed this to the class last week, I asked them who the man in the photo was. I got some interesting answers! Albus was the only one who was able to identify it as a picture of our new prime minister.”
Molly looked more carefully. In the background, Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt could be seen. The photo must have been taken when he was making an introductory visit on the British Prime Minister. It looked like Kingsley was about to leave, but because the picture was still it was hard to tell; the still muggle photographs could be confusing. Molly smiled. As an old friend of the family dating back to Order days, Kingsley was a frequent visitor to the house. That’s who Albus had identified.
Miss Morrison hesitated and went on. “Albus mentioned that you’d had dinner with the Prime Minister in the past?”
Molly looked up, trying to decide how to answer. “Well … actually we’re good friends with one of his top aides. I’m sure that’s who Albus was talking about.”
Miss Morrison looked slightly disappointed. “That makes more sense.” She gave a brief laugh. “I’d almost been hoping that we’d be able to get a letter from the Prime Minister for the class.”
Molly smiled. “I’m sure that wouldn’t be a problem. Our friend has quite a bit of influence in the government. Just let me know who it should come to.” She thought to herself how Kingsley might even be willing to suggest a personal visit the next time the muggle Prime Minister was in the area.
Miss Morrison beamed. “That would be wonderful! I’ll write up the information and give it to you before you leave.” She looked up at the door. “If you’ll excuse me, though, right now I have some more grandparents to greet.”
“Of course! Albus can show me around.”
Albus took Molly over to the window. On the sill was a row of flowers in small pots. “We planted these a couple of weeks ago,” said Albus. “See, this one’s mine.”
Albus’ plant drooped to one side. “I think you need to water it, dear,” Molly suggested.
“That takes too long. Grandma, can’t you …” Albus looked around and lowered his voice, “you know, just make it bigger?”
Molly gently hugged him. “We don’t have to use magic for everything,” she whispered to her grandson. “Sometimes we can just use muggle ways.”
Albus looked at her as he thought about what she said. “Mom and Dad say that sometimes magic can’t be used because it would give us away. Is that what you mean?”
“Partly. But sometimes even if we can use it we shouldn’t.”
Albus nodded seriously and then looked around. “Grandma, do you want to see where we read?” Before she could answer she found herself tugged over to a small nook filled with children’s books. A half dozen children, sitting or laying on cushions, had books in front of them. Cushions were scattered on the plush rug and a plush rocking chair was in the corner. “What’s your favorite story, dear?” Molly asked Albus.
“Well, none of them are as good as yours,” Albus whispered. Then, speaking normally, he said, “I like the stories with magic in them.” He looked over to a large brown-haired boy as if he expected something to happen.
The boy looked up and rolled his eyes. “Dork! There’s no such thing as magic.” Molly narrowed her eyes.
“So you say,” Albus calmly responded, and looked at his grandmother.
Molly sighed and gave Albus a wink. “Well, we can still read stories about it. Albus, why don’t you pick one out?”
Albus picked up one with a house made of what looked like gingerbread and candy on the cover. Molly sat down on the rocking chair and took the book in her hand. “My, what’s this one about?”
“It’s about how two children almost get eaten by an ugly wicked witch!” a thin boy who was nearby informed her excitedly.
Molly looked at him sharply. “Of course I’ll be happy to read it to you, but don’t you have a story with a nice, pretty witch?”
A girl with short blond hair who hadn’t appeared to be paying attention looked up. “But witches are ugly and wicked!” she declared confidently.
Molly sighed again. She would have to make sure Ginny and James talked to Albus about the wicked witch stereotype that so many muggles seemed to hold. She didn’t want her children exposed to such prejudices which is why she had kept her children away from muggle schools. Ginny and James, though, had wanted their children to get to know their muggle neighbors. Molly looked at the girl. “I’m sure some are wicked, but others must be very nice and even pretty,” she said, looked at Albus who smiled at her. “Just like there are good and bad people in every group.” She thought for a moment. “In fact, would you like me to read you a story about a poor, misunderstood witch?”
The girl looked curious. “OK.”
Molly reached into her purse, subtly waving her wand. She pulled out a copy of Babbitty Rabbitty and the Cackling Stump. “I just happened to have this with me.” She looked around the small nook. The children were all looking at her expectantly. She smiled and sat back in the rocking chair. “Now, gather around if you want to hear the story.”
When Miss Morrison was putting the books away after class, she paused when she saw one she didn’t remember seeing before. She smiled as she flipped through it – it must have been hidden on one of the shelves. “Hmm,” she mused to herself. “This is certainly different from the typical fairy tales the students usually hear!” She resolved to read it to entire class the next day, and instead of putting in it the bookcase she left it on her desk as she gathered up her belongings. She never heard the soft whisper of “good night” from the book as she turned off the lights and shut the door behind her.
*Full Image Credit: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/secondary-schools-league-table-find-2321856