It was Ginny's idea originally to send the children to the local muggle primary school. She found the idea fascinating and was keen for her children to learn about the muggle world as much as possible before they started their magical education. Harry hadn't considered the idea until Ginny suggested it when Albus was only days old. His only reservations came from his own experience at any school that wasn't Hogwarts and Ginny gently reminded him that this would be different.
They went to visit the school, Ridge Oak Primary, with four-year-old James in tow (Al was with Mrs Tonks) who thought the school was the most wonderful place he'd ever visited. He was won over by the brightly coloured display boards and smiley teachers who laughed affectionately when he told them confidently he was a wizard who could do magic. They agreed to try it out but the second any of the children seemed unhappy, they would take them out of school.
James flourished at school, making friends easily and impressing his teachers with his above average abilities. Magical children tend to outstrip their muggle peers and Harry and Ginny glowed with pride at every parents' evening. It also meant that, for six hours of every school day, the house was calm and peaceful and free from the squabbling and over-zealous 'playing' James tended to get up to with Al.
When it came to the time two years later when Albus was old enough to start school, he confidently told his parents he wanted to go too and be just like James. It was somewhat of a theme of Al's life that he always wanted to be just like James. The teachers commented at parents' evening that Al was quieter than his brother but also possessed the same abilities and was settling in well.
By the time Lily started, the headteacher was well acquainted with Harry and Ginny, having had them in her office a few more times than the average parent. The problem was, James was starting to get a bit bored of being top of the class and mastering the muggle work with no problems. This, combined with his magic starting to show, made for a few awkward conversations about just how the class hamster had ended up in Mr Mullen's lunchbox when James had been seen with it last or precisely who was to blame for Mr Mullen's car mysteriously disappearing from the car park and turning up round the back of the football field.
Harry wondered how his son, not even old enough to have a wand yet, could sometimes cause him more stress than his job as Director of the Auror office, answering only to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement.
"It's that Mr Mullen's fault." Ginny hissed as they left the headteacher's office after yet another awkward meeting. "He doesn't give James enough of a challenge, no wonder James is bored, he never acted up like this in year four."
"Also, our son is a wizard." Harry muttered in a low voice with a grin.
"So's Al! We don't get these problems with him, even with the accidental magic." Ginny retorted in a whisper as they were shown out of the school by the smiling receptionist.
Albus' accidental magic was another situation entirely. Where James seemed to channel his magic in frustration towards his teacher, Albus seemed to react magically when he was worried or scared about something.
"At least his teacher seems to understand him a bit more." Harry sighed, thinking back to the memory.
Although Harry and Ginny had attempted to explain away Albus somehow managing to summon all of his teacher's marking pens into his school bag after a particularly difficult maths test, Harry felt that Miss Emerson hadn't been fully convinced. She had found it extremely difficult to understand why the normally polite and delightful boy had seemingly turned to thievery and she was even more confused as to how he had ended up with every single pen, even the ones she kept in her desk at home. Poor Albus had been mortified when he had to apologise for taking all of the pens. Miss Emerson had kindly accepted his tearful apology with some confusion while Harry looked on, feeling extremely guilty and already planning what treat Al could have.
"We'll talk to James at home about reigning things in a bit, how's that?" Harry offered as they walked around the side of the school building towards where the classrooms let out at the end of the school day.
"I'll get Lily, you get the boys." Ginny nodded and headed off towards the infant classrooms while Harry hung back, waiting on the playground for his sons. It wasn't at all common for both Harry and Ginny to be at the school at the same time, Harry had had to take time off work to attend the meeting with the headteacher and he'd left one of his Aurors, Kevin Fenwick, in charge of the department in his absence.
Despite knowing he looked like a muggle, Harry always felt people were watching him more than usual when he collected any of his children from school. He didn't dare think that it could be because their children came home talking about what 'naughty James Potter' had done that day.
The classroom doors started to open, the teachers scanning the faces of parents and directing children towards their various adults. James came careering around the corner, a huge grin on his face as he spotted Harry and came bounding over.
"Dad! I didn't know it was your day to pick us up? Where's mum?" he thrust his book bag into his father's hand and bounced up and down on his shiny, black school shoes.
"Mum's collecting Lily." Harry said shortly and James stopped bouncing.
"Oh. You're both here." He said in a small voice.
"I assume you can guess why." Harry said, slightly unsure how stern to be with his son. James bit his lip nervously. "We'll talk at home."
James stared down at the ground, kicking his shoe against the concrete as the crowds of children started to filter away. Harry gestured for James to follow and James didn't dare stray from Harry's side as they both walked towards Al's classroom door, from which he was the last child to emerge.
"There's Dad, Al." Miss Emerson pointed to Harry and guided Albus towards him, catching Harry's eye. Harry's heart sank, what had happened now? "There's a first aid slip in his bag, he bumped his head at lunchtime." She gave Al's hair a fond pat and Harry felt relieved that was all it was.
"It's Miss Emerson's birthday and look! She made us cupcakes!" Albus proudly presented the cupcake out to Harry. James threw a jealous look at his brother and his smiling teacher and his colourful classroom and his cupcake. Miss Emerson spotted the look and turned back inside the classroom for a second.
"Happy birthday Miss Emerson." Harry said awkwardly as he took Al's bag from the hand without the cupcake in.
"Would you like one too, James?" she was holding a tray of spare cupcakes out and looking at Harry for permission. Harry gave her a nod.
"Thankyou!" James said politely, selecting a cupcake.
"And here Al, take one for Lily too." She smiled and placed another cupcake in Albus' empty hand. Harry didn't need to ask how Miss Emerson knew his other children's names despite it being her first year at the school. If Al chatted away to her about home as much as he chatted away to Harry about school, it made sense that his teacher would know his brother and sister's names.
"See you tomorrow Miss Emerson!" Al called over his shoulder as the three Potters began to walk away to meet up with Ginny and Lily.
"Am I in trouble?" James asked bluntly. "Because I swear it wasn't me! Mr Mullen hates me..."
"Do you still like going to school?" Harry asked his son, taking him by surprise. He had discussed it with Ginny and they reminded each other of the promise they'd made when James was four. He didn't have to go to muggle school and he certainly didn't have to go if it was making him miserable.
"Do you still enjoy it?" Ginny asked when James failed to respond.
"I like my friends, and I like playing football at lunchtime almost as much as Quidditch!" he said enthusiastically.
"You don't... tell your friends about Quidditch do you?" Harry asked, suddenly concerned.
"I'm not stupid Dad!" James huffed and saw his father's expression and grinned sheepishly. "Yes, I do like school. Anyway, I've only got one more year before Hogwarts!"
"I love school!" Al said serenely, looking up from his book.
"That's because you have Miss Emerson." James said unkindly. "I wish I was in her class. I hope she teaches year six next year." He stared off into the distance wistfully.
"Sorry James, year two." Ginny said, reading from the letter the school had recently sent home with the teachers for the following year. "That means she'll be Lily's teacher."
"Not fair!" James sulked for the rest of dinner.
Despite his reservations, James settled well into his final year of primary school and was acting up a lot less with his new teacher. He had happily told his family over breakfast about the science experiment he was planning to carry out that day and Harry thought fondly of the memory as he arrived at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for work.
His in-tray was already full and three paper memos flapped around his chair. Harry grabbed them as he sat down, reading each one in turn. Two were standard and uninteresting but one caught Harry's attention.
Are you free this morning? Don't worry if not but I'm not sure who else to talk to about this.
Harry confusedly scribbled a reply back, telling Kevin to drop by any time before twelve, wondering what his recruit needed to talk about.
Kevin Fenwick had come fresh from Hogwarts into the Auror training programme. He'd kept his head down and got stuck into the training, earning himself a spot as an apprentice on a high profile mission. Although he was only just twenty-three, he was one of Harry's most trusted Aurors and was rarely seen not sporting some grizzly injury from the field.
There was a tap on the door and it opened to reveal Kevin, the memo clutched in his hand as if he had sprinted over as soon as he had received it. His cheeks were pink and there were bags under his blue eyes. His dishevelled, dark hair gave the impression he had been running his hands through it.
"Kevin, sit down." Harry nodded to the spare chair and Kevin threw himself into it dramatically.
"What would happen if I quit?" he blurted with no preamble.
Harry blinked, taken aback. "Well, for a start, I'd have a seriously big hole in my next mission team. But mainly, you wouldn't work here anymore."
Kevin nodded as if deciding what to say next. "I don't."
Harry gave him a questioning look.
"I don't quit." Kevin continued. "Probably."
"Probably? Kevin, are you not enjoying it here anymore?" Harry felt like he was asking James if he was still enjoying muggle primary school.
"I love it here!" Kevin's head snapped up, offended. "I don't know what to do."
He gave Harry a desperate look and Harry felt a protective urge over the younger man. "Start from the beginning Kevin." Harry presumed Kevin was perhaps doubting himself as an Auror, an experience he had been through and could offer advice on.
"It's my girlfriend." Kevin replied, stunning Harry.
"Yes, my girlfriend, Isabella. Her name's Isabella. She's my girlfriend." He repeated himself erratically. "Well, I don't want her to be my girlfriend."
"Kevin, have you come here to ask for advice on how to break up with your girlfriend? Because I'll tell you now, I am the worst person to-"
"Break up with her?" Kevin looked shocked and seemed to replay his own words in his head. "Oh! No, I mean, I don't want her to be my girlfriend because I want her to be my wife."
"And you... aren't sure how to propose?" Harry suggested, feeling more confused by the second as Kevin twisted his hands in his lap.
"She's a muggle." Kevin said in a small voice, looking up at Harry. "She doesn't know I'm a wizard."
"Ah." Harry said, grasping the situation.
"She thinks I'm a policeman. It's been easy to hide it, my parents are pretty good at remembering not to mention magic. She thinks I went to boarding school; my Hogwarts friends invented one we all met at. I've stripped my apartment of anything obviously magical, even the fireplace is disconnected from the floo! But I don't want to hide it anymore, I love her and I want to marry her and she says she loves me too but she doesn't know who I truly am and what if she leaves me when she finds out?"
Kevin said all of this very quickly. Harry was still not entirely sure how he had ended up on the receiving end of this conversation.
"I wanted to ask, legally, do I have to tell her? Because I swear, I'll snap my wand in half and go and live as a muggle if that's the only way to be with her!"
"Ok, Kevin, calm down. You do not need to abandon wizarding society just so you can marry your muggle girlfriend. Your first step here is telling her what you are, if you love her, you can't hide this from her."
"I do love her." Kevin said with a watery smile.
"I'm going to put you in touch with my brother in law, Percy. He's married to a muggle. Maybe he can give you some advice on how to tell her? But Kevin, only you know if it's right to tell her or not."
Kevin Fenwick was the sort to wear his heart on his sleeve and it became rather clear to Harry how the encounter had gone when, days later, Kevin bounded into the office with a huge grin on his face and Harry found a wedding invitation in his in-tray.
Harry stuck the wedding invitation on the fridge and Ginny smiled at it fondly. "It's nice he's met someone." She sighed. "Will we all go?"
Harry shrugged. "Might be fun, a muggle wedding."
"I know all about weddings!" came Lily's excited cry from the kitchen table where she was making something. "I've learnt all about them at school."
"Have you?" Harry replied, moving around the table to sit with her. "What's that you're making?"
"It's a painting for Miss Emerson!" Lily said proudly, looking for Harry's approval.
Harry stared at the painting, which seemed to depict a plate of pink sausages adorned with glitter. As this was nowhere near the weirdest thing Lily had ever painted, Harry wasn't too surprised and didn't find it difficult to express how beautiful it was and what a wonderful artist his daughter was.
"She can put it next to the blast ended skrewt you drew her last week." Ginny said to her daughter, sharing a smirk with Harry. "She must be amazed at Lily's imagination." She muttered into Harry's ear as she passed him.
"Probably expects it after the issue with Al's homework last year." Harry teased his wife.
"We don't talk about that." Ginny scalded, tapping him across the shoulder with the tea towel in her hand.
The year before, Albus had come home with his homework task: to write down everything he already knew about the Second World War, ready for the class' new topic. Unfortunately, it had been Ginny's turn to help with the kids' homework and Albus had arrived at school the next day with his homework explaining everything he knew about the Second Wizarding World War including a detailed diagram of a scene from the Battle of Hogwarts. They had managed to pass it off by saying Al had misunderstood the homework task and thought he had to write a story. Miss Emerson had been bowled over by Al's imagination and attention to detail.
Chuckling at the memory, Harry helped Lily roll up the strange creation for her teacher and instructed the boys to put their school shoes on so they could leave in time.
The day of Kevin's wedding came round quickly and Harry was thankful everything had gone off without a hitch. They'd had quite a time of in the office recently and there was a period of time when it looked like Kevin would be out for the scheduled date.
Now that Kevin's soon-to-be-wife knew he was a wizard, it was much easier for him to explain away some of the stranger things that happened to him but Harry doubted he would have been forgiven for missing his own wedding.
"Kids, one last time, what do you have to remember?" Ginny straightened Al's collar as she spoke.
"No mentioning magic." James replied in a bored voice.
"It's a muggle wedding." Albus added.
"Behave like we do at school." Lily put in.
"Excellent." Ginny praised them.
Kevin Fenwick's wedding to his fiancée Isabella would be predominantly a muggle, due to the fact that the bride came from a huge family, all of whom were muggles. Kevin's smaller family, his Hogwarts friends and some other fellow Aurors were the only witches and wizards in attendance.
The Potters hadn't been invited to the wedding ceremony itself, only the reception. Harry and Ginny were secretly pleased as they knew their children would not have sat still for an entire muggle wedding ceremony without loudly wondering where the magic was.
The venue was dressed smartly with fairy lights hung from every possible surface. Albus was staring at them, waiting for them to move, and it occurred to Harry that he probably thought they were real fairies like they decorated the house with at Christmas.
There was a large, shiny dance floor and Harry could see James almost itching to take his shoes off and go skidding across it in his socks. Lily, meanwhile, was proclaiming everything to be 'absolutely beautiful' and 'just like we learned at school'.
The music dimmed and a voice spoke over a microphone. "Presenting, Mr and Mrs Fenwick!" Everybody clapped as Kevin entered the room, his smiling, blonde wife on his arm, looking pleased and proud.
"He looks happy." Ginny commented and Harry grinned at her.
"Mummy, who's that lady?" Lily asked loudly, as the new couple started to dance together. A few people at their table laughed at her comment.
"That's Kevin's wife, Lily." Ginny explained calmly.
Lily peered at the couple as they twirled a bit closer to their table.
"No it's not!" she said, again loud enough for the rest of the table to hear.
"Who else would it be dear?" Ginny asked, amused by her daughter.
"That's Miss Emerson!" Lily stated.
"What?!" Harry and Ginny both said in unison, staring at their daughter then looking straight back up at Kevin and his wife who were dancing, oblivious. "That's not Miss Em-"
Harry stopped himself when he realised that Lily was absolutely right. The blonde in Kevin' arms was in fact Lily's school teacher. The school teacher both he and Ginny had worked tirelessly to keep magic from for so long. The school teacher who now very clearly knew all about the wizarding world, now she had just married into it.
"Are we at Miss Emerson's wedding, Daddy? She told me all about it when I made her that card with her pretty ring on the front. I drawed her whole hand and her sparkly ring."
Harry turned to his wife. "You know how it was your turn to have the next awkward school conversation?"
"Oh Merlin no, Harry. We're doing this one together."
They waited for the first dances to finish, all the while avoiding eye contact with the couple and preventing Lily from running up to her teacher in the middle of the dance floor. When the dancing had become much more informal, the newlyweds stood to one side, greeting various guests. Harry and Ginny shared a look and stood up to deal with this new, slightly awkward situation.
"Miss Emerson!" Lily cried gleefully, running to the bride and grabbing at her forearms. She looked down in shock at being addressed by her teacher name and smiled uncertainly when she saw it was Lily Potter.
"Lily! What are you doing here?" Miss Emerson held her gently and looked up, spotting Harry and Ginny. "Hello." She said, slightly awkwardly, Kevin watching the exchange in confusion.
"Sorry." Harry said as he came closer, "Lily, come away." He removed Lily from Miss Emerson. "Er, congratulations."
"Thankyou! You must know Kevin then." She said simply, glancing around from Harry to Lily, then over to Ginny and down to Albus in her arms and James who hovered behind. Her eyebrows raised a fraction and her eyes widened. "Oh my God." She breathed.
Harry knew that in that second she had guessed how they knew Kevin. Kevin's sheepish look and mumble of 'how did you know?' was interrupted.
"This explains everything!" she exploded, a huge grin on her face. "Lily's paintings and Al's homework and their grandad being so fascinated with my pencil sharpener and James. Oh yes, of course, it all makes so much sense now!" she seemed to be battling with some internal monologue. "You're all wizards aren't you?" she looked around at the Potter family, as if daring them to deny it.
Harry nodded, wrapping his arms around Lily from behind.
"I can't even imagine how this would go down in the staff room!" she was grinning from ear to ear. "Oh if only I could tell Mr Mullen that everything James had done was magic. You should have seen him absolutely seething in the staff room last year, it was hilarious!"
James grinned proudly then caught his mother's eye and let his face fall.
"And my pens last year!" Isabella Emerson reached out and gave Albus a warm hug. "I knew you didn't steal them, Al. I just knew it wasn't you but I couldn't explain how I knew. And it was your magic wasn't it?"
Albus nodded shyly. "You're my best ever teacher." He whispered.
"You're my best ever teacher Miss Emerson." Lily said.
"Mrs Fenwick now." Isabella laughed, still looking around at each of them in bewilderment. "Mr Mullen didn't stand a chance did he?" she grinned at James.
James shrugged. "I didn't mean to."
"Well, you can come to me if any more accidental magic happens while you're at school. I can smooth things over." She said kindly, smiling at James. Harry considered her words and shared a look with Ginny. It would be hugely beneficial to have a teacher in the school who understood that what the children could do was magic.
And so, when James' teacher was off sick and Mr Mullen covered his class and somehow ended up with his pants on the outside of his trousers part way through a maths lesson, Miss Emerson (Mrs Fenwick now but it was hard to remember to call her that) swore he'd accidentally arrived at school like that and it had nothing at all to do with James Potter.
And when the headteacher expressed her concern at Lily's behaviour on the playground, (because, really, she could have sworn the child was flying?) Miss Emerson offered to speak to her parents instead which ended up being a very pleasant chat over a cup of tea, during which Harry and Ginny amusedly answered some of Isabella's more interesting questions about the wizarding world.
And when Al's current teacher stumbled across the infamous war homework and expressed concern at the kind of films Albus was being allowed to watch at home, Miss Emerson explained how bright and imaginative Al really was. She then read the homework piece again, this time fully understanding what she was reading, and later she showed it to Kevin and he told her all about the war and the impact it had made on his family.
And the following year, when James was at Hogwarts, he got the shock of his life when he came home to find Miss Emerson (and Kevin) had come for dinner. She entertained him all evening with tales of Mr Mullen's more amusing reactions to James' magic.
And years later, when Isabella and Kevin had a child of their own, and Isabella found herself trying to explain to Darcy's teacher just how exactly her daughter had been elected onto the school council she so desperately wanted to be on, despite not having been on the ballot paper, she realised just how lucky the Potters had been to have her.