Hello all. I am now posting the first chapter of my new fic because I am totally stuck and in desperate need for comments to I can get inspired again! Hope you like :)
Title: The Price of Family
Warnings: There will be some sexual activity between underaged boys, but it will be of the experimental kind. Otherwise nothing that needs a separate warning apart from the rating.
Summary: Set in the 19th century. Harry Potter is found by muggles before Dumbledore arrives that faithful night of Voldemort's attack. They leave him at a Union Workhouse. Years later Mr. Malfoy comes looking for a safe and controllable playmate for his son…
Author's note: I studied workhouses as part of a course a couple of years ago, and all the descriptions are pretty accurate, though please allow for some artistic freedom. I will during this story mention workhouses by name and historic events. I'll be sure to add links to any relevant articles. Also, I highly recommend the book "The Workhouse" by Norman Longmate, which I read for my course, but also re-read because it was so interesting and a good read.
Beta: Once again the lovely [info]hidden_lily has offered her services. Thanks so much for your hard work :)
The Price of Family
Nineteenth century, England:
A knock was heard in the middle of the night and the porter awoke with a grunt. He dragged himself out of his cot, took his lamp, and went to the gates of the workhouse. Opening the small latch he peered outside into the street. Before the gate stood a lone figure clutching a bundle. The porter grunted again.
"What do you want?" he demanded. The figure stepped forward into the light of the lamp. A man, a farmer from the look of his garb, stood holding a bundle and looked no more pleased to be there than the porter.
"I have an orphan, a baby boy, found in a destroyed house."
"Destroyed?" the porter frowned.
"We believe it has burned down. My wife and I heard some explosion earlier tonight and found only this child when we arrived. My wife wants to keep it, but we can't afford him." The porter grunted and opened the gate. The man slipped inside and the porter led him to the workhouse master, who was in an even fouler mood at being awoken than the porter. The man told the master that the parents were no doubt the Pattons, or something, who had lived in the now destroyed house. They never had many dealings with them, even though they had been neighbours for quite some time. The master summoned a pauper nurse, an elderly woman of some sixty years, who took the baby with obvious distaste and went to see if a wet nurse could be found among the inmates.
"Should you not ask the doctor to examine him? The child has a strange cut on his forehead," the man who had brought the baby asked. The master dismissed the suggestion with a wave of his hand, and told the man that it was not his concern any longer.
The pauper nurse found a woman admitted just a week ago with her own baby. Luckily that child had died the night before. The woman, sick with grief and lying on a hard bed in the infirmary, was woken up by a rough hand and told to take the baby.
"What's his name?" the woman asked, cradling her new child as if her own had never died.
"How should I know? Last name is Patton I think. Give it a name to put in the records," the nurse responded gruffly.
"How about Harry?" the woman asked hopefully. The nurse shrugged and left. The master wrote in the records: "Harry Patton, orphan, approx. one year old, distinguishing features: lightning bolt cut on forehead." The wet nurse cared for the boy as much as she could. When he was three he was removed from the nursery and the woman who had cared for him later died of tuberculosis. Harry didn't remember her, nor did anybody else.
The child was of course the son of James and Lily Potter, killed by Voldemort that very night. When Sirius Black arrived at the scene no sign was left of the Potter family. In a rage he left and hunted down Peter Pettigrew and was later confined to Azkaban for his murder. Aurors arrived after his arrest, along with Albus Dumbledore, but no one could figure out what had happened. How was it that Voldemort had suddenly disappeared and the house destroyed? Even more troubling to Dumbledore was the absence of the Potter child. Had the prophecy been wrong? Had Voldemort managed to kill the child and get away?
The Dark Lord, however, turned out to be quite gone, though no one knew exactly how, but then again why question a good thing? Dumbledore was of course one of the few who remained unsatisfied with the explanation of the Potter murders, even more so because of his knowledge of the prophecy. Unfortunately he ignored a very important detail: the muggle family living just down the road. It would take six years before Dumbledore came back to the scene of the crime and questioned them; unfortunately by then it was too late.
Harry Patton was brought to the union workhouse, a wizard in an appalling muggle institution. No one knew he was the Boy Who Lived; indeed the term was never invented, and no one knew the significance of his scar.
In the children's ward play was unheard of, toys non-existent. The boys were kept separately from the girls. They were allowed outside in the yard at the master's discretion, which meant usually no more than once a week. The boys were employed in shoe making from an early age, the girls in household chores as preparation to becoming domestic servants. On Sunday they were kept silent in the schoolroom, a room just as dreary as the rest of the house. The schoolmaster, an old pauper with a limp who used to be a sailor, taught them absolutely nothing except the art of keeping silent. Their clothes were all oversized and coarse, marking them all as workhouse children, and they were forbidden to even run about in the yard as it would wear their shoes out quicker. The food was just enough in quantity, but seriously lacking in anything remotely resembling flavour. If a visitor were to gain access they would find most of the children sitting listlessly on the floor staring into space, struck dumb with boredom. If asked of the future they would only reply that they looked forward to moving over to the men's wards. Most of them had never been outside the workhouse walls.
Harry "Patton" was no different on the outside than the other boys, except for the deep green eyes and strange scar; he was just as thin and seemingly lifeless as the others. But there was something decidedly different inside him, and not just the magic either, for he possessed a dream. He resigned himself to his fate, for now, but rebelled in other fashions. Instead of causing trouble like some boys tried on occasion he swore silently that he would one day escape entirely. He knew he was just an orphan, nothing special, but he would nevertheless escape the horrible master and matron of the workhouse and run away as fast as his short legs could carry him. He became even quieter than the other boys, who liked to tease him about his scar mercilessly, though he had long ago become immune to their taunting.
The master and matron of the house were a middle-aged couple, the man an old sergeant in the army. They had never had children of their own, but even if they had, their dealings with the children in their care would most likely have been the same. Indeed all the workhouse patrons, of all ages and conditions, were treated with the same contempt and ruthlessness. While dining in style themselves, the inmates were kept alive mostly on gruel, the growing children and sick as well. The workhouse would most likely have been characterized among the worst sort had an inspector bothered to visit. As it was that had not happened for many a year. The one time the young inspector had come he had been satisfied with a three-course lunch and a walk about the practically empty yard.
This was the place Harry Potter, the baby who had stopped Lord Voldemort, lived, though barely it must be said. No one from the magical world thought his name. They knew the name Potter, to be sure, but only as the people who were last killed before Voldemort's disappearance. They were believed to have managed to kill the Dark Lord before their own deaths. The baby, however, was forgotten, like many a child in the Union Workhouse.