The Toad’s Hollow School
My Darling Lucius,
Last week Draco and Harry stepped down as the owners and administrators of The Toad's Hollow School. It was a bittersweet event, culminating last evening in a retirement party for them. Scorpius was the Master of Ceremonies and you would have been so proud. He held the audience in the palm of his hand. He reminded me so of you, and as a result, it made me miss you even more and wish that you were still with us.
After an absolutely divine meal Scorpius lifted his glass and sipped the rich Merlot before glancing at the guests seated around the room. To his left, sat his parents. As you know, not his mother and father, but his parents nonetheless. Our Draco and Harry. They smiled as he stood. He reached into his pocket and removed the notes he had written earlier, moving towards the podium at the end of the table. Scorpius paused to clasp first his father's shoulder and then his papa's. They each responded with a smile and a pat to his hand. Settling his notes on the podium, Scorpius took a deep breath and began.
"I'd like to thank you all for coming tonight. Forty years is a long time for anyone to do the same job," he paused at the crowd's laughter. "But for anyone who knows my parents, the real miracle here is theirs. Not only do they work together every day, but they go home together every night. No small feat for two people who despised the sight of one another for a good portion of their lives." He looked down the table at Draco and Harry.
Harry smiled at Scorpius and Draco laughed and raised his glass.
"Those of you here tonight remember these two men as the backbone, the heart, if you will, of Toad's Hollow. I, however, have a much different view of the past forty years. You might recall the day they purchased the school and turned it into the Wizarding world's premiere nursery school. I remember the day Mr Potter came back into my father's life and consequently into mine."
Scorpius paused and took a sip from the glass of water that stood next to his notes.
"I was four when I first met Mr Potter. Like all small wizarding children, I'd heard all the tales of how Mr Potter had saved the world from Voldemort. How he was responsible for making our world a better, safer place. I expected to walk into my new classroom and see a larger-than-life figure. What I saw instead was a man, down on one knee, speaking to a little girl who was crying. He daubed at her tears with a handkerchief and whispered a few words gesturing around the room. In no time she was smiling and walking off with her mother to find her cubby in the cloak room. He looked up at us, with the greenest eyes and the most welcoming smile. When he stood, he was just slightly taller than my father. I remember whispering, in that four-year-old I think I'm whispering although I'm really quite loud voice, "Father, he's not so big. How did he beat a dragon and Voldemort?"
The following silence in the classroom was deafening. Then suddenly there was a rumble and then laughter like I'd never heard before. Mr Potter was bent over, his hands on his knees, laughing until tears ran down his face. "Merlin, Malfoy," he choked between guffaws, "if the blond hair hadn't given him away, that alone would have convinced me that this was your son."
My father gave me a look and then began to laugh. From that moment forward, I've since learned, that their past was just that and their future had begun.
Shortly after that first meeting, I remember Mr Potter coming to our house. Father was quite happy to see him. I was worried; none of my teachers had ever shown up before. Even at four I was inquisitive and hung around the stairs as they entered the library."
Scorpius paused when his father coughed out what sounded surprisingly like 'nosy' and the crowd chuckled.
Turning towards Draco, Scorpius nodded and grinned widely. "Yes, probably a bit nosy also, and so I moved to stand outside the library listening to Mr Potter and my father argue. Truth be told, I was a bit worried that Mr Potter was there to tell my father that I'd threatened to turn Olivia Mosby into a piglet for stealing my Hobnobs that day.
Instead I heard the beginning of an argument that I didn't understand. My father was saying things like 'it's just dinner' and 'I'm not asking you to move in.' And Mr Potter kept saying 'I don't date the parents of my students.' Finally Mr Potter stormed out of the library and out the front door. I looked in at my father. He was sitting on the edge of his desk, shoulders slumped and running his hands through his hair. I remember thinking he looked so sad. I went in and hugged him around the knees and offered to leave school so Mr Potter would like him. Father smiled at that and told me 'While I appreciate your offer, son, I'll figure things out without sacrificing your education.'"
Scorpius paused again, turning to smile at his parents while the crowd quieted again. He knew just when to pause and when to continue through the laughter. His father had taught him the gift of public speaking well and at a young age.
"I worried for some time after that," he continued a bit sombrely, "that Mr Potter would treat me differently in school or I'd be asked to transfer to a different classroom. A few weeks later, I was certain my fears had been met. Mr Potter knelt by me during free time, asking if everything was alright. How could I answer and tell him my greatest fear? So I shook my head and remained quiet. Mr Potter took me to his office and with a bit of prodding, I blurted out my fear that 'since he wouldn't date my father, that he wouldn't want anything to do with me either.'
Mr Potter and I had a brief talk about my being in his class, his role as my teacher and a bit about how he felt about my father. While he never said anything that might have actually let me come to any conclusions, in my young mind I was convinced that I, with single-handed skill, had resolved the rift between my father and Mr Potter. And while that could not have been further from the truth, a short time later I was accidently responsible for just that.
Hallowe'en was a favourite of all the students. There were contests and games and copius amounts of sweets to be had by all. Callum Finnigan and I were paired in the three-legged-race. We stood with our legs tied together, convinced we would win. The flag dropped and we were off like a shot. About half-way down the track, we lost our stride and went down. The last thing I remember was Callum landing on my stomach as my head hit the ground.
When I woke I was at home in my bed, my favourite stuffed dragon under my arm and my father clasping my hand, eyes tightly shut and whispering 'please let him be fine' and 'I promise to take better care of him'. Even at four I knew it was not his fault and croaked out 'I'm sorry I lost the race.' His head shot up, eyes opened wide, and he pulled me into his arms and cradled me against his chest, laughing. I fell back to sleep, comforted by the sound of his heartbeat.
Later that evening, Mr Potter stopped by to see how I was faring. He and father sat on the chaise by my bed, talking softly. I was about to tell them I was awake, when my father said 'I couldn't bear to lose him'. Mr Potter shifted close to my father's side and took him in his arms. I watched through lidded eyes as they rocked together and then to my delight, Mr Potter kissed my father's cheek. My father turned and the second their lips touched...
Well, I think we all know what happened from there."
You would have laughed so, Lucius. Right after that Harry grabbed his napkin from his lap, wadded it and gave it a toss in Scorpius's direction. "You were supposed to be injured and asleep, nosy git!" he called out through his laughter. I like to think that Harry would have brought laughter back into your life. He is a good man, with a compassionate soul and he has been good for our family. But I digress and I do wish to share with you the rest of the Scorpius's speech. He recovered well from his Papa's teasing and continued.
"Their relationship began that night and Mr Potter was a frequent presence at our dinner table. By the new year, he was also often present at our breakfast table.
Now that I'm older I appreciate what a moral dilemma this was for Mr Potter. As my teacher he worked very hard to not show any sort of favouritism towards me, but as a young child I could never understand why I was punished for misbehaving. After all, I'd eaten breakfast with this man and now I was being made to sit in the quiet corner for knocking over Ethan Rhys-Davies tower of blocks.
But Mr Potter was consistently fair and doled out the same punishment across the board. He often made up for having to punish me by bringing my favourite sweet the next time he visited. Not that I'm complaining, mind. What child didn't love being on the receiving end of his choice of Honeydukes?"
The crowd laughed again and Scorpius stopped to sip at his water before continuing.
"The following fall found me back at Toad's Hollow and in a new classroom. Mr Potter was no longer my teacher, but my new teacher was a pretty witch with pretty blue eyes that crinkled at the corners when she smiled. The boys in our class were completely smitten. She was nice, but I missed spending my class time with Mr Potter.
Right before Christmas, my father brought me into the library after supper. Mr Potter had not been over since the day there was a big snow storm. We had played outside, making snow angels and having a snowball fight. One of my last snowballs had hit Mr Potter directly in the head and I was beginning to fear he was not going to return and that that was the reason for this visit to the library. My father sat me in a chair by the fire and knelt before me.
'Scorpius,' he said in a very serious tone, 'you know I have been seeing Mr Potter, Harry, for some time now.'
I rolled my eyes.
'I'd prefer less cheek and more respect, young man. I have asked Mr Potter to move into our house. He refuses to do so, unless I check with you first.'
I remember staring blankly at my father. 'Well that's dumb.' I told him, with that how could you be so stupid tone that all five-year-olds have perfected. 'He's here most of the time anyway.' I shrugged and made to move down from the chair.
'No, you misunderstand, my father continued. 'I have asked Harry to marry me. He would be your father.
'So I'd have two fathers?' I whispered. 'How will you know which one I'm calling for?'
My father laughed loudly. 'Well I imagine you could call him Papa, then.'
'Papa,' I recall repeating it, as if trying the word out on my tongue. 'I like that.'
And that simply, at least in my mind, is when Mr Potter became Papa.
The wedding was a small, grand affair, held in Paris at the height of spring when the daffodils are ablaze with colour. Well, at least that's what I'm told. What I remember of the entire ordeal was being forced to wear very uncomfortable robes and endure endless witches pinching my cheeks and prattling on about 'what a handsome boy I was'.
While I have scattered memories of the actual event, my memories of spending the time they were on their honeymoon with my Grand-mère Narcissa in her Chateau are perfectly preserved. I won't bore you with them, but I hope my parents had half as much fun as I did during that fortnight."
Scorpius paused to wink at his parents and they both smiled widely and raised their glasses in response. He then turned towards me and did something he'd not done since he was a small child. Before he continued, he blew me a kiss, which I captured in my hand and held for safekeeping.
"When I was seven, Papa stopped teaching and became the administrator at Toad's Hollow. The school had been terribly managed and was at risk of closing. Papa worked feverishly to turn things around and by the time I left for Hogwarts, it was on the road to again being a great school. But Papa missed teaching and now that the school was back on track, he was quite unhappy about his administrative position. One day when he was helping me with some child-appropriate spell work, I remember asking him why he got so excited when he taught.
He paused and then replied very softly, 'I like to think that I can make a difference.'
I looked at him, quite confused.
'I think,' he continued slowly, 'that if Tom Riddle had had a teacher, early in his life, that it would have made a difference. I know for sure that if I'd had someone to guide my magic from an early age, my life would have been different.'
'But you might not have been my teacher then,' I said sadly.
'I believe in destiny,' Papa replied. 'You and your father are my destiny. We might not have come together the same way, but we would have found our way to each other.' He hugged me tightly. 'Of that I'm certain.'"
Tears welled in Scorpius's eyes and he stopped to wipe them. It was not difficult to see how much he loves Harry.
"I've learned that it's quite impossible to argue with Harry Potter when he's made up his mind. My father discovered it when Papa decided that they should purchase Toad's Hollow and become business partners, as well as life partners. Father thought it was a ridiculous idea and voiced his opinion on the subject loudly and often.
It wasn't until Papa suggested hiring one of my father's rivals as his new administrator that father sat down and listened to his plan.
They argued for days about everything related to Papa's plan. Father had listened, but still wasn't certain it was the best idea for them to spend so much time together. The fact that we'd be moving into the small cottage in the meadow behind the school was almost more than Father could handle. Everything came to a head one night after they had said good night to me.
I had innocently asked if I could have a pet when we moved to the school. Papa told me he had no problem with it and Father started in before they left the room.
Only now do I realize how my father's protestations were silenced so quickly and so completely in the hallway just outside my door."
The crowd burst into laughter and Harry's and Draco's faces turned several shades of scarlet. When the laughter died down, he continued.
"And just like that, Harry and Draco Potter Malfoy were the new owners of The Toad's Hollow School. Father managed the school and Papa went back to teaching one of the four-year-old classes.
With me at Hogwarts, I think it was the perfect solution for them both. Time passed very quickly and before long, I had completed not only my time at Hogwarts, but had also graduated from university.
With my parents blessing, I took an apartment in London — and began a life of my own. But I took with me the things that my parents taught me every day, in their words and actions. Now that I have my own grown children, I appreciate more the sacrifices they both made so that Wizarding children could have a great start at the best education possible. I know that Toad's Hollow is being left in the best of hands. My parents wouldn't have it any other way. So let's raise our glasses in a toast to two of the finest men in education. They think their contribution was small, but to those of us that know and love them...well let's just say the world is a better place because of their love and dedication."
Scorpius raised his glass and turned towards his parents, "To Harry and Draco. They taught so many children through the years and I think each one of them is a better person for it. Father, thank you for raising me when my mother abandoned us and for bringing us the wonderful man I'm proud to call Papa. Papa, thank you for loving Father and me and for making certain I always knew I was your son too. Enjoy your retirement, you've earned it."
As I watched, Scorpius moved to his parents hugging them when they stood to greet him. There wasn't a dry eye in the room, but Harry and Draco only had eyes for their son and his family as they gathered around them. Scorpius watched his parents interact with his children and knew that with his oldest daughter, Narcissa, as the new owner of the school and her husband as the Administrator, the school was being left in competent, capable hands.
And so now I close another letter and place it in the box I have kept all of my letters to you in. One day, when I have joined you, I will leave instructions for them to go to Draco. I hope then, he will learn how very proud I am of him and how very much I wanted you to be part of our lives forever.