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The Orphanage Of Pity

June 20, 1992, 4:40 PM, King’s Cross Station, Exit

Adam Clarke

Stepping out of King’s Cross station and finding myself back in the world of the Muggles was a surreal experience. “This feels weird.”

“Doesn’t it?” Su said from beside me. The girl walked ahead, staring in wonderment at the mishmash of architectural designs of the buildings surrounding the station. “After living in a castle for a while, seeing streets, lights, buildings…”

“Yeah.” Harry added, doing his best not to look at Su’s mother, Yan, who was standing very close to him.

I stifled the urge to laugh at the poor boy’s plight; this was probably the first time such an attractive woman was standing right next to him.

I took a breath and winced at the strength of whatever fragrance she was using. Overdoing it on the perfume, lady.

“Yes.” Yan said, smiling down at us for a moment before looking at me. “Mr. Clarke.”

“Just Adam is fine, Miss Li.” I said, waving her off before she could say anything.

“Adam.” She said without missing a beat, her light voice overcoming the background buzz of the cars passing by. “I hear that you kept my daughter out of danger this year. Something about a forbidden corridor which leads to a few death traps?”

My eyes bugged out. “Aren’t you…”

She shook her head and reached into her blouse’s sleeve, pulling something out just enough so that I could see.

A wand handle. I thought, eyes narrowing with interest as she put it back again.

“I have been apprised of recent events.” Yan said, her black eyes roving over my form, lingering on my burned hand and my white eye. “And, seeing you right now, I can tell that the letter I got was probably downplaying things.”

“I don’t doubt it.” I said, sighing and looking away from her.

“How bad was it?”

“If I made a single mistake.” I said, recalling the events for a fraction of a second before banishing such thoughts away. “I would have probably, um… kicked the bucket, so to speak.”

“I see.” Yan said, approaching me. “Then my family owes you a debt of gratitude then, young Clarke.”

“It’s fine.” I tried to wave her off only to stop at the woman’s light glare.

“It is considered rude to refuse the gesture of a grateful party, Adam.” Yan said, her alluring smile only intensifying the glare she sent me.

I swallowed. “In that case, then; you’re welcome?”

The woman scoffed, but sent me a nod, anyway. Su was looking at her mom in equal parts exasperation and embarrassment.

“I can see that my daughter is keen to leave.” Yan said, seeing the girl’s expression and correctly deducing what Su was likely to be feeling. “So, I won’t waste any more of your time.”

“Our time is not being wasted at all, I assure you.” Sirius said, giving the woman a light smile. “If anything, it’s being enhanced.”

Yan tilted her head at Sirius and gave him a once over before giving him a smile. “Is that so… In that case, you all should come and visit.”

“How about it, Su?” She turned to her daughter and wrapped an arm around the girl. “Would you like that?”

“Yes!” Su said, sending us smiles. “Can we invite Tony and his family, too?”

“Of course, dear.” Yan said before giving her daughter a pat on the shoulder. “Now, come on, love. It’s time to go.”

Su deflated at that. “All right, mum.”

She gave me and Harry a hug before standing by her mother. “See you soon!”

“See you.” “Bye.” Harry and I said, watching as the two walked off, weaving their way past a few passersby and joining the massive crowds of people around us. I stared at where they were for a few seconds longer before turning to Sirius and Harry. “Well?”

“It’s about time we part ways, I suppose.” Sirius said, though he was frowning. “I’d like to stick around until they come to pick you up, though.”

“Fair enough.” I said, and so we just stood there, waiting. I could tell from Harry’s fidgeting that he was getting bored, and Sirius as well, though less so.

I suppose I should probably make some conversation. “So, this place we’ll be living at, where is it?”

Sirius grimaced. “I’d rather we lived elsewhere, if I were to be honest with you. It’s a place that was left by my dear, departed family.”

Twelve Grimmauld Place, it is, then. I thought, blinking at the way the man addressed it. “The place you ran away from?”

“You know about that?” Sirius said, a little surprised.

Harry stepped up. “I told him.”

“I did tell you, didn’t I…?” Sirius said, nodding to himself before wincing. “My memory’s still not particularly good; a long-term effect of exposure to the Dementors, I’m told. It’ll take a long time for me to heal from that.”

Another symptom in a long list. I imagined, feeling bad for the man. If only I’d spoken up sooner, he would have been out in the first few months.

“But yes.” Sirius said, breaking the short silence. “My old family home. I’ve cleaned it up some, as best as I could. Remus has been living there with me, as well. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“It isn’t.” Harry made sure to say.

He was probably happy that he wouldn’t have to be a slave to the Dursleys any longer. He would have been locked up in his room if things had progressed like canon had.

I shook such thoughts away. It was pointless to try and predict the future now. The board pieces had been scattered, shifted, mixed and matched to the point that it would soon be unrecognizable compared to the canon I had been familiar with.

People like Greengrass, Su, Mira, Tony and Amy Broduk existing as real people with fleshed out personalities; my helping in the creation of Alef Ard; Grindelwald escaping from prison and recruiting various people to his cause in the process; everything had changed.

“The more, the merrier, I say.” I ended up saying. “I hope he doesn’t have to sleep on a couch, or something, though. I would feel bad.”

“Oh, no, don’t worry about that.” Sirius said, shaking his head. “We’ve cleared up a few rooms already, so we all have our separate bedrooms.”

“Oh.” I said, nodding. “That sounds good, then.”

“And besides.” Sirius said. “We won’t be staying for too long in that house.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked as I saw a man with a white sign walking around in the corner of my eye. I kept my attention on Harry as he continued to speak, though. “Are we going to be moving again?”

“No, no.” Sirius said, shaking his head. “We aren’t; but, I am going to have the place properly cleaned near the end of July. We’ll be taking a trip, then.”

“Where to?” I said, finally sending a look to the guy with the sign. His back was to me, so I couldn’t see what it said just yet.

“Haven’t decided yet.” Sirius said, shrugging. “I’m sure we’ll figure something out, then.”

I shrugged and turned my gaze away from the man holding the sign, deciding that he wasn’t going to turn anytime soon. “Fair enough.”

“And we’ll be leaving from time to time, too.” Sirius said, smirking. “You cannot, in good conscience, reject the invitation of Miss Li, Adam. It would be rude.”

“Rude, indeed.” I said in a dry voice, and the man’s eyes crinkled in amusement.

“Hey, Adam.” Harry said, nudging me before Sirius could say something.

“What’s up?”

“Your name’s on that sign.” Harry said, pointing in the direction the man I’d seen before was. My head swiveled back to his direction. Sure enough, written in big, bold letters of black was the name:


“That’s me, then.” I said unnecessarily. “He doesn’t look familiar, though.”

I shrugged and moved towards the man, my trunk trailing behind me with noisy purpose. The man turned around one more revolution before he finally noticed us heading to him.

It was then that I spied a familiar person beside him. “Oh! That’s Jenny.”

“She works there, I gather?” Sirius said as the man spoke to the woman, Jenny, before pointing at us. She looked in my direction and nodded.

“Yeah.” I said. “She was one of the nicer caretakers, but is really strict if you annoy her.”

I never really asked why the woman was working at a place as dreary as the Orphanage of Pity. Word had it, however, that it was because Jenny had found out that she couldn’t have children— this was her way of coping with that.

I felt bad for her, until she punished me for not wanting to comply with any of her directives, finding them boring.

She wasn’t a bad person, but she couldn’t possibly wrap her head around the concept that I was an adult in a child’s body— not that I would have ever explained it to her, to begin with.

God, my formative years sucked.

“Adam!” Jenny said, nudging the man beside her to stop what he was doing before she hurried to my position. “There you are.”

She stood in front of me and opened her mouth to speak before she stopped, staring at my face with wide eyes. “Your eye… What happened?”

“There was a chemistry accident at school some time ago.” I lied, pulling my sleeve away to show the burn scars.

“Wha—” She stopped speaking again to stare at the burns. “We were informed of an incident, but to think that it was this bad… Why has the school not contacted us in person?”

“I assume that it’s because of the custody transfer.” Sirius entered the conversation, extending a hand towards the woman. “Sirius Black.”

Jenny’s gaze went between myself and him before taking his hand in her own and giving it a shake. “Jennifer Layton.”

“The custody transfer?” The stranger rolled his R’s as he spoke, his deep voice taking on a lilt of confusion.

Sirius let go of the woman’s hand and addressed the man’s question.

“I’m to be Adam’s guardian in three weeks, and so I was the one contacted as to the details.” Sirius fibbed like a champ, changing the subject. “And you are…?”

“Oh.” The man said, shaking Sirius’ hand. “Robert Gray. Nice to meet you.” 

“I haven’t seen you before.” I said, sending the man a curious look. “New, I’m guessing?”

“Got it in one, kid.” He said. “Started a month ago, actually.”

I nodded, finding it odd that he had accompanied Jenny here, but it wasn’t important enough to comment. “All right.”

Turning towards Sirius and Harry, I began to speak. “So, this is it.”

“I’ll take the trunk.” Sirius said, stepping forward and holding his hand out. “Save you the trouble of having to haul it later.”

“Sure.” I said, moving the trunk’s handle enough that he could hold it. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, Adam.” Sirius said, stepping back and looking awkward as all Hell. Likely, he wasn’t sure whether he was supposed to hug me, or something.

I solved it for the both of them by putting my fist out. Sirius stared at it for a second before shaking his head and bumping his fist against my own. Harry smiled and followed suit.

“We’ll see you in two weeks, kid.” Sirius said, and Harry nodded alongside him.

“Yes.” I said, grinning. “Count on it.”

And then they turned and left.

I stared at their backs for a few seconds before Jenny cleared her throat, getting my attention.

“You ready?” She said, turning slightly and gesturing to her left.

“Yeah.” I nodded and we were off. We weaved our way through the crowds, past a fellow playing a guitar to gather what scraps of money he could before the rush eventually died down and entered an adjacent street.

It took another five minutes of walking until I spotted the familiar, beat up Vauxhall.

“That thing hasn’t died yet?” I said, scoffing at the sorry state of the vehicle. Was this thing really supposed to get us all the way back to Warminster?

It had been an excruciatingly long three hour drive the first time around— and that was without a single break.

“She still has some life left in her.” Jenny said, while the other man rolled his eyes and opened its back door for me.

“Thanks.” I said, tipping my head for him and entering the car. I got adjusted in my seat, taking in the scent of old car before wincing.

This is going to be a long three hours.


June 22, 1992, 3:30 PM, Orphanage of Pity, Warminster

It had only been two days, and I was already prepared to run away from this place.

It’s just three weeks, Clarke. I thought as I took another potato in hand and began to peel it with care. Just three weeks and you’ll be out of this place forever.

The orphanage hadn’t changed a bit. The paint on the walls still looked like it was peeling off. The bathroom still had that strange, musty smell which meant that there was mold somewhere. I didn’t blame the orphanage workers for this; they did what they could with the tools they had on hand.

Hell, Jenny would routinely bring her own just to help out as much as she could— this place was just a nightmare, that was all there was to it.

The matron, Doris Crackle, however, claimed that the place didn’t have enough funding.

Good old Doris. I thought as I moved about the kitchen area in some attempt to stave off the near mind-numbing boredom I felt.

Considering that the damned woman had never made a comment about their subsidies getting lower, I imagined that this could only mean one thing.

Embezzlement. I thought, nodding to myself as I took another potato and began to peel it. She’s been taking the money meant for maintaining this building and instead has been squirreling it away, somewhere.

I huffed. I didn’t have any proof of this. It was very possible that I was just jumping to conclusions.

Won’t be my problem anymore in twenty days, that’s for sure.

I put a little too much pressure on the potato and the knife overshot its mark, scoring a cut on my index, just below the nail. The knife flew out of my hand, clattering a few feet away from me.

Fuck.” I swore, instantly putting the half-peeled potato down on the table and taking my index finger in a tight grip.

“You alright?” Another kid who was on tomato cutting duty said.

His name was Jack. He was fifteen and had never been adopted. The poor guy was probably never going to be, at this rate.

I honestly felt bad for him, but there was nothing I could do to help.

This was the brutal reality of life.

“Got a cut right under my nail.” I said, banishing such thoughts away. “I’m a little rusty.”

“I’ll say.” Jack said in amusement. “You used to be a pro.”

I frowned at that but realized that he was ultimately right.

What was there to say?

Nearly a year of being served food on the daily and barely any cooking practice had not done me any favors.

I picked up the knife and set it on the table even as he spoke to me. “Get that cleaned up, first.”

“Of course.” I said. “I’ll do it now.”

I left the kitchen without another word before moving through a few halls and taking the first room on the left.

One of the workers was standing by, a bored, middle aged lady who kept eyeing her carton of cigarettes with ravenous hunger.

Getting the cut cleaned and covered didn’t take very long, though it was because I hurried it to get away from the woman’s pervasive, nasty, smokey stench.

“Thanks.” I managed to say as I escaped the room and hurried back towards the kitchen.

The sooner I’m done with this, the sooner I get to just sit down and relax. I thought as I reached into my pocket to grasp the handle of my wand.

From that light touch, a warmth emerged, coursing through my hand, permeating through every fiber of my being, covering it all like a protective blanket.

It sucked that I wasn’t allowed to use magic over the summer, but there was nothing I could do about it.

I let go of the wand and returned to the kitchen, doing my best to ignore the pang of longing that went through me.

After having spent every day of the year surrounded by magic in all its forms, being here now felt like all life was being drained out of me.

Still. I thought as I came back into the kitchen and greeted Jack with a nod. Showing magic to the people here would probably get me in some serious trouble, anyway.

Hell. I took my knife from the table and gave it a good cleaning before I went back to peeling potatoes. The matron is crazy and will try to kill me in some idiotic attempt to appease God.

As if she knows a thing about God. I thought with open derision before shaking my head.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the big guy upstairs. Knowing what I did only cemented such beliefs, though it also raised many more questions.

Was He the reason why I was here? Or was there some other rival deity messing with me for laughs? What is the point of such an existence? What was the plan here?

I had many more questions such as these plaguing my mind, but I was unable to even begin to look for answers.

I lost myself in the tedium of another day at the orphanage, and, before I knew it, I was already on my old bed; my old, rickety bed with the one spring that dug into my back like a knife.

I listened to the sleeping sounds of the other occupants of this room as I tried to join them in a blissful state of slumber.

Sleep, however, was keen on eluding me. I kept my mind on the prize, even as I turned to my side, feeling the spring dig into my ribs with merciless fervor.

I continued to fidget in bed until I managed to find the one good sleeping position I needed.

Tomorrow will be a new day. I thought. “Soon, I’ll be back where I belong.”

I never noticed the invisible eyes staring at me from above, waiting until I lost consciousness before the owner of said eyes made their move.

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