Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
(31 October 1928)
A cold, autumn chill visited England that night; the likes of which invaded the senses and seeped through children's skin, no matter how many tattered, patched blankets they had bundled to their shivering bodies already.
This chill met Wool's Orphanage, a young, tightly swaddled babe, and its holder right outside the front door.
"We love you, Harry. Make sure to be a good girl for your future mummy and daddy, okay, love?"
A soft coo and a cherubic smile answered back.
The dark haired man returned the baby's smile with a sad one of his own. "Paddy's got to go right now, but he'll come back to visit in the future. God-Daddy just needs to run from some highly pretentious, big-headed, ugly old Aurors in need of a fashion update at the moment and needs to go into hiding."
The man quickly kissed the baby's forehead and carefully placed her down on the porch he stood upon. After casting a warming charm on her to ward off the cool chill that nipped at his own skin, he placed his attention on the auspicious looking door in front of him.
After moments of hesitation, he gathered himself visibly. With one quick inhalation of the frigid air, he rapped three times on the wooden door and quickly made his way off the porch, trying to keep out of sight. As he stood halfway across the front property, the scraggly-haired man stopped in another bout of hesitation to turn back and take one last glance at his god-daughter.
The young youth, already sensing the lost of his magic, started to cry, wailing at the top of its tiny lungs for him to come back and take her with him. But he couldn't, he thought desperately, not when he was on the run, not when he had too many enemies that would be glad to see him dead, not when he had another murderer to kill. With one last wave and telling wet cheeks, Sirius Black turned away and dissapparated with a loud pop.
At the sound of a pop, the rickety door opened and revealed an astonished caretaker staring at yet another baby lying on their steps.
The matron was having a rough day that day. One of the older boys, sick with fever, had hallucinations and screamed at the top of his lungs every time the caretakers tried to put him to sleep. One of the girls had stuck bubblegum in another girls hair (lord knows where she got it), forcing Mrs. Cole to give her a rough haircut. On top of that, the government money they needed to fund for the whole orphanage depleted quickly before her very eyes. The money could not stretch for food, clothes, and maintenance of the orphanage, let alone enough to cover for medicine.
Before long, Mrs. Cole would have to decide whether or not to give up some of her caretakers or to further ration the food for the children.
In her heart of hearts, she knew the children were her top priority, but even she had to agree, there were simply too many children living in her too small orphanage. But she had to try her best.
A light tap on her door startled her out of her thoughts.
"Yes? Who is it?"
"It's Lizzie, madame," came the response of one of her best caretakers.
"Oh, of course, come in, come in"
The blonde lady that entered was a young thing with tired eyes. The poor girl had gone through too much. Swaddled in her delicate arms was a sniffling baby with hair dark as ash and eyes green as emeralds.
"I found her on our doorstep; no note."
Mrs. Cole sighed heavily. Great, another child to feed and look after. The money would have to stretch even more.
"Any insight on her name?"
"I saw a name inscribed on her blanket," the lady said, hesitantly, "but it's quite odd. It said Harry Lily Potter, but Harry is a boy's name."
At the sound of her name, the baby looked up and sniffed again, hands reaching up to tug firmly on the blonde lady's curls. The blonde winced in pain and patiently started prying her locks out of curious hands. Side-tracked by her task, she murmured, " I don't think we should call her that, though. The other orphans would laugh at her. You know how children can be."
The matron hummed in agreement, "That is true, but you know our policies. The children must go by the names they are given. It's the adopter's choice if they want to change the name."
"I understand," Lizzie paused in uncertainty, "Where shall I put her? We don't have anymore cribs to place her in."
And it was true. Each crib already hosted its own resident young one, and the madame could not afford to buy another one. The heavy-set woman felt guilty and ashamed that she could not provide for this child the same way she had provided for the others. Mrs. Cole rarely indulged in unfairness but it could not be helped.
"We just have to make her share one with another baby."
A nod and a twitch of her lips were the matron's only response and the woman felt even more guilt set upon her shoulders.
Lizzie held the dark haired babe in her arms, and her heart went out to the young one like it did to all the others.
The cruelty of leaving a baby on the doorstep of an orphanage disgusted and horrified her. Though Lizzie knew that sometimes the situation could not be helped, it did not soothe the anger and hate that dwelled within her for those so-called parents. At least a third of the children at the orphanage weren't orphans, or at least orphans by definition. Most had a parent still living who was unable or unwilling to look after his or her kid. That did not even take in account the amount of children that had secondary family whom refused to take care of the 'unproper sort'. These children had feelings and personalities that there biological parents would never get to know. They didn't deserve to know them.
And this one, bless her soul, did not even come with a note to explain her situation. She came with no birth date to honor her own special day, nor confirmation that her name was even the one sewn on the bizarre blanket with flying golden baseballs. The baby did not even possess an explanation of what to tell her when she would start to ask questions. Nothing.
An unfortunate thing, really. Tragic even.
Lizzie quietly eased one of the doors open and gazed out at the nursery. Six cribs stood in an array, each filled with a tiny sleeping resident of its own.
The blonde felt another small twinge of sadness for the baby in her arms that liked to tug at her hair.
She didn't even get a crib to herself.
The lady sighed; it took so long for the young ones to settle down enough to sleep. It was always the roughest chore to do and had kept her up for the past two nights. If one baby began to cry, the rest would be jostled enough to join in...all except one.
Tom Marvolo Riddle had always been odd, Lizzie thought. He never seemed to cry like the rest of them and never seemed fooled like the others when she would try to play peek-a-boo with him. If anything, he made her feel quite silly and stupid when she tried to pull that one, which was completely ridiculous. How could a baby, only 22 months old, make her, a full grown adult, feel dumb?
The boy was beautiful, not unlike the baby she was currently holding within her arms. She believed he had a hidden intelligence behind those navy blue eyes which seemed to notice everything. It sometimes made her skin crawl with how observant those unnerving eyes were.
He would not cry ever. When he wanted something, he would tug roughly on her sleeve, hair, or anything of availability to get her attention and blankly stare into her eyes while she frantically tried to figure out what he needed. And that was only when she was nearby! Other times, if she stood too far away, he would throw whatever was convenient at her to get her attention. Lizzie would often wonder how the boy had the strength to grasp onto his entire blanket and chuck it far enough to get to her across the room, but, then again, Tom had always been odd.
Casting Tom's oddness aside, Lizzie believed Tom was her best bet to a complete night's rest for the first time in a while.
With the hopes that the boy would not break his no-crying streak, Lizzie carefully placed the baby girl inside his crib.
Tom's eyes instantly opened at the sudden breach of space.
Lizzie gasped and kept as quiet as possible, praying to God that he would not burst into tears and give her another night of no sleep.
Tom slowly sat up to look at the other baby sitting right next to him. Mutely aware of the yellow caretaker right outside the bars of his crib, Tom was taken with a rush of pure warmth and comfort of...something that was emanating from the girl next to him.
It was new and inviting to him. It coursed through him and grasped on to him like a hug he had never received. It giggled and whispered it's greetings to him, holding tightly on to him like a security blanket.
He was entranced. Never had he felt such power rolling off another child. Not like his own.
Automatically and without thought, he reached out with his own something to greet her back, a pudgy hand unconsciously moving to interlock with one of hers and hers squeezing his back.
The young dark-haired girl giggled lightly back at him, and he answered back with a small smile he hadn't really done before.
With that, the two orphans laid down and drifted off to sleep, one excited and overtaken by this new something and the other relieved to finally feel the touch of magic again after the brief absence.
The blonde caretaker watched in amazement at the events that just unfolded before her. Never had Tom taken such a liking to another child before, much less anyone else.
She backed away slowly and without a sound to exit the nursery.
As Lizzie closed the door on the way out, she felt a slight shiver go down her spine. She could not help but think that something had changed irrevocably.
To be continued...
A/N: Well I actually don't know if I want to continue this, but I am leaving the 'To be continued' there if I ever do plan on finishing it.
I admit it's not a new concept to have, but I still think I took an okay crack at it . . . please review?