Chapter One: Unexpected Happenings
When little Harry Potter was left on the chilly doorstep of Number Four Privet Drive, Albus Dumbledore had no clue that his idealized theory of Harry's upbringing was completely false. He assumed that when Mrs. Petunia Dursley opened the door in the morning, she would welcome her sister's son with open arms, especially after reading in the letter of her dear sister's murder. Instead, the eighteen-month-old baby boy would be greeted with a scream. In a few hours time, as the sun rose, the Boy- Who- Lived would be introduced into an entirely new world.
Justin Benson, at age 18, met Taylor Levey in some boring English class in Justin's freshman year of college. It was one of those core classes that everyone had to take, even art majors like him, but everything changed when that tall, dirty blonde-haired man sat next to him with a smile. Taylor was, surprisingly, similar to Justin in many ways. Despite their outwardly clashing personalities, what with Justin being an artist and Taylor planning on becoming a doctor, they got along extremely well. Both men were gay, or in Justin's case, bisexual. The artist could appreciate beauty and love in any form, though he lacked experience of any kind. The relationship between the two "friends" grew into something more at a stupid college frat party, that neither man could now remember the cause for. Both were drunk, and Justin had sloppily kissed his best friend in front of a room full of people before running off. They shared their first real date the next day.
Like all relationships, the "perfect couple" hit a rough patch after nearly two years that ended in a nasty break-up. Unfortunately, this separation lasted for the final two years of medical school for Taylor. Despite this long span of not speaking, Taylor showed up at Justin's apartment in New Hampshire in July, with a bag of clothes in his car, and hands shaking with nerves.
"Taylor?" The artist barely dared to breath. "What are you doing here?"
He took a deep breath. "The hospital where I'll be doing my residency is about half an hour from here, and I'll be starting next week. Once I'm done with that, there's a few pediatrician's and doctor's offices within an hour of here, which is easy enough to commute."
Justin leaned against the doorframe. "What are you saying, Taylor?"
Big blue eyes stared at him. "That's why we broke up. Because I was always gone to classes, and I was always really busy, and we didn't know where I'd end up for my residency or what I'd do after. And now I know, and I'm making sure that I can be near you."
Chocolate brown eyes widened in comprehension, quickly becoming moist. "You want to try again?" The older man nodded, too nervous to speak. Justin grinned. "Better come inside, then."
The newly reunited couple spent the next few days catching up, and talking (and a few other "activities"), and finally went out for dinner together as a couple again on the thirtieth of July. By the time their first anniversary rolled around, they were looking into buying a house together, and on the second, they were living in a beautiful home on Piper Hill Road in Colebrook, New Hampshire, with two horses in the field, and magnificent trails in the other 20 acres of land. The house was bought with the money Justin's father left him upon his death; money that had initially been set aside for a college fund, but became a house/car/whatever fund upon receipt of multiple art scholarships.
Justin and Taylor's third Christmas together of "Take Two", as Justin called it, was coming around, and the pediatrician was getting worried that the relationship would last. After the purchase of their house, neither had brought up any other major issue; they were content with their lives. But with the pediatrician's thirtieth birthday sneaking up on him, a large hole was becoming present in his life; the entire reason he became the type of doctor he did. Taylor loved children. He grew up in a big family, where there were always a few older cousins running around to help take care of him, and when he was older, younger cousins racing around for him to look after. Children were a risky subject, since not all people wanted kids, and certainly not all 25 year old men were ready to be fathers. It wasn't until after Thanksgiving that the doctor was able to bring up the subject, right as they were going to bed. "What do you think of kids?" he blurted.
The artist frowned at him. "What sort of question is that?"
Taylor gulped. "Do you like kids?"
"Yes, now tell me why you're asking!" Justin was close to panicking.
"Iwantakid," he rushed, squeezing his eyes shut.
He chuckled. "You're going to have to repeat that, hun."
"I want to adopt a kid," Taylor whispered, feeling his partner freeze beside him, not daring to open his eyes. This was it- the breaking point. If Justin didn't want children… he didn't know what he would do.
Soft lips descended upon his, pressing into them hungrily. "Please tell me you're not joking."
"I'm not joking." Taylor shot back warily.
"Good. Because tomorrow, we're going to call an adoption agency." He grinned at his partner.
Taylor stared at him, shocked. "Wait, you want a kid too?"
The brunette frowned at him. "When did I give the impression that I didn't want to have a baby?"
He shrugged. "Never explicitly, but I assumed that since you didn't say anything…."
Justin kissed his doctor's cheek, fighting back laughter. "I wasn't ready? I thought the same thing about you."
Taylor shook his head. "Well, I guess we're both idiots then. Girl or boy?"
"Does it matter? He or she will be our baby. Well, not baby baby. I don't think I can handle that."
"Agreed." Taylor sighed. "But not older than six. I want a couple of years before he or she has to go to school."
"Definitely. Now sleep. I know you haven't been sleeping well for a while."
He groaned. "How did you know?"
Justin rolled his eyes. "Hun, we've shared a bed for three years. Do you really think I don't know your sleeping habits by now?"
Unfortunately, it was much harder to adopt a child than they anticipated. With no marriage, few agencies they contacted were willing to even consider them as viable parents. Even fewer social service agencies offered them foster care as an alternative. As much as Taylor's medical degree helped, neither man wanted to have a foster child that could be taken away from them at a moment's notice. They were reaching a breaking point by the time their third anniversary neared, and Taylor was glad they would be leaving the country and going abroad for two weeks in celebration. It would be a nice break from their slowly dwindling hopes.
On their anniversary, Justin was getting a bit stir-crazy, so instead of spending the day in their hotel, the pair decided to drive through the countryside, near Surrey. Taylor drove that day, so Justin could watch the country go by, and be ready for a photograph. It wasn't long before Justin saw something that had the potential to stop them for hours, and a significant chance of depressing them: a sign for St. Augustine's Orphanage. Taylor sighed, looking at his partner. "Are you sure you want to do this today?"
"Please?" the artist begged. "It might be good luck to try today!"
Blue eyes rolled. "Okay, if you're sure." He pulled over and turned their rental car around.
The long driveway set the old brick building back from the road. The grass was neatly trimmed, ivy on the walls restricted from windows and doors, and the glass panes were clean. The laughter of children could be heard, and when the pair got out of the car to peer around the side of the building, they found a playground with several children under the age of eight playing.
A simple waiting room, not unlike that of a doctor's office, greeted them once through the front door. The receptionist was reading a book, a bored look on her face. Looking up, she pasted a smile on. "How can I help you?"
Taylor smiled at her. "My partner and I were wondering if we could meet some of the kids. We want to adopt, and we haven't found the right one yet." She didn't appear too surprised; she just smiled that fake smile again and nodded.
"Of course. I'll have to see some identification, just to protect the children, but then I can have one of the sisters give you a tour and introduce you."
After about ten minutes of waiting, and some paperwork filing, again for safety, Sister Agatha, a plump woman in her mid-fifties, briskly led them down the quiet hallway to the left of the reception area. "What age group are you thinking about, gentlemen? And do you have any preference to gender or anything like that?"
Justin crinkled his forehead, frowning slightly. "Why would gender or anything else matter? We were hoping to find a child under five, but other than that it doesn't matter to us. As long as we have a kid we can make happy, and love."
The woman smiled warmly at him. "I'm glad to hear that, Mr. Benson. Did you want to meet the infants? We thankfully only have two right now, a little boy and his twin sister, six months old. They were left at the hospital after their mother passed away in an accident. The father didn't want them."
Taylor looked at his partner. "I'm not sure we can handle babies that young. We're fine financially, but…"
Sister Agatha smiled again. "That is understandable. We would rather not have unprepared parents to such young children. The playroom for the toddlers is over here." She opened the last door on the left, letting them enter first. "These children are between two and four. Go on in."
Taylor and Justin stepped into the brightly painted room full of shouting children. There were perhaps ten children in the room, three girls they could spot and many boys. Some boys were playing with the blocks in a corner, the girls were playing with the dolls, and others were coloring or playing by themselves. Another nun, who had been playing with the children, stood to greet them. Justin, however, didn't get a chance to get her name, as he was mobbed by four children and dragged over to their corner, where he was instructed to build them a tower.
Taylor decided he was going to go over to one of the children playing alone. In another corner was a small table, and seated at it was a small black haired boy who was maybe one and a half, coloring. Kneeling next to him, Taylor looked at his drawing. The page was covered in blue and orange scribbles. A distinctive 4 legged animal with a tail and some sort of point on its head, perhaps meant to be an ear, stood out in its vibrant purple crayon. Talented, for someone still perfecting their fine motor skills.
"Hi there. What're you drawing?"
The little boy looked up and stared at Taylor with eerily beautiful green eyes. "'Nicorn." he said softly, barely even whispering. He continued drawing, grabbing a blue crayon.
"I'm Taylor. What's your name?"
The boy didn't even look up. "Ev'n." He added a scribble on top of the purple unicorn.
"Can I draw with you Evan? I love drawing." He gave no answer other than a shrug. Taylor sat next to him quietly, taking a piece of paper. They spent the next ten minutes in silence, sharing the pack of crayons. When he was done, he held up the picture for Evan to critique. "What do you think?"
Evan burst into giggles at the stick figure drawing, and a stream of senseless chatter followed. After another twenty minutes of drawing, Taylor had made up his mind. "Evan, do you want to meet my friend Justin?" He glanced over at his partner and moved his head minutely. Justin immediately stood up and left the boys to finish the tower-turned-castle.
Evan frowned. "Is he nice like you?"
"He's very nice." Taylor smiled up at Justin. "Justin, this is Evan. Evan, this is my friend Justin. He likes drawing too, and he's much better at it than me."
By the time nap time came around, the Americans had made a decision, without having to talk to each other about it. Sister Agatha closed the door to the room behind them, smiling. "I saw you bonded with little Evan."
The two madly grinning men nodded. "We want to take him home." Justin blurted.
She smiled warmly at them, and began walking to her office. "There will be quite a lot of paperwork involved, as you two live in the States, but you should be able to adopt him. I would suggest legal consul for what needs to happen on your end to allow Evan to remain with you. Once he is adopted, you will have to apply for dual citizenship for him, I believe. We will have to do a background check, naturally, and you will have to be approved by Social Services, including an inspection of your home. I sincerely hope that everything turns out well. Evan is what we classify as a 'slow to warm up' child. He doesn't connect with many people, but he certainly bonded with both of you."
Curious, Taylor asked her about the toddler's age. He and Justin were surprised when she shrugged. "We weren't given his birth certificate, and he was left on our doorstep in early January. Thankfully he wasn't outside long enough to have any physical damage. The doctor's best guess is that he is nearly two, based on his development." She sighed. "Evan's had a few social problems, and according to the doctor, he may have more problems later on." Taylor nodded, knowing already what she was going to say.
"He has problems talking, and he seemed a bit distant, almost like he didn't want to connect with us at first."
Sister Agatha looked at him in surprise. "Yes, exactly. It most likely stems from being abandoned, especially in such cold weather, and then being brought here, where we sadly don't have enough one-on-one attention."
Again, Taylor nodded. "A lot of children with neglectful homes or not enough attention during the first two years of life have similar problems. I'm a pediatrician, so I know what the norms are for development," he explained.
Over the next six months, Justin practically lived in the U.K., staying very close to the orphanage. He visited with Evan every single day that he was there, making sure the boy knew he was wanted. Social Services approved them quickly, especially after seeing their financial situation, and knowing Evan would be well cared for. The paper work and legality of the adoption itself, as Sister Agatha suggested, caused Justin and Taylor to hire a lawyer in the U.S. and consult him often.
Phone bills escalated over night, as the couple talked nearly every day. They had lived together for so long that both men had problems sleeping alone. Their relationship, thankfully, didn't suffer too much from the separation thanks to these expensive phone calls. Many nights were spent talking about a Plan B, if they couldn't adopt Evan. Justin was quite partial to kidnapping, and his better half was inclined to agree. Taylor flew out to England for the last two weeks of the process to finalize his part of the paperwork, while Justin stayed home to prepare Evan's room and take care of the horses.
Evan Jameson, son of Taylor Levey and Justin Benson, went to his home in Colebrook, New Hampshire on December 10. Dual citizenship was granted, and when it came time to produce a birth date, Justin and Taylor had some troubles. The government produced a new birth certificate for him that listed 'unknown' for mother, father, and town. The country, obviously, was listed as England. After much deliberation, the couple decided that Evan's birthday would be celebrated on July 31, the day after their anniversary, unknowingly choosing the true day of his birth.