Author's Note

Hey! Chapter seventeen here! And filled with non-HP characters...sorry people! I really think I'm better with making up my own characters, so...maybe fan fiction's not my true calling, but...whatever! =)

Please inform me of typos (since I hate those and all)! =/


Word Count: 4,996


Diagon Alley (Part III)

Friday, 29 August, 2008

Scanning the letter she'd received by owl two days before, Raveena frowned—yet again—wondering why her aunt and uncle had decided, after all these years, to get involved with her and her son, Evanius. She knew the answer to her ponderings, of course, but wasn't at all happy about it. Her son's Hogwarts' letter had arrived—thank Merlin!—back in November the previous year, shortly after his eleventh birthday, and they just wanted to horn in now that they knew he wasn't a Squib like his mother. This infuriated Raveena, since any time she'd ever had contact with any of them—mostly the Salvatore side of the family; her own parents, her brothers, and their wives and children—they'd scorned both her and her son. Some of them had even been quite cruel. Her brothers had ridiculed her obsession over her son's father—a man whom, though she'd never actually revealed to them his identity, became quite obvious as time went on and the boy grew—saying that, because she was a Squib, she wasn't woman enough to keep any man—let alone Severus Snape—and should never have considered herself worthy; their wives turned up their noses, as if Raveena were some unpleasant odor or a dirty house-elf; their children scoffed at Evanius' very existence, taunting the boy mercilessly; and her parents did nothing to put an end to it. For the most part, her father ignored both her and her son—his youngest grandson—which was better than the treatment she usually received from her mother, who'd actually once said that she'd made her bed and must now lie in it. It was because of all this that Raveena had done her darnedest to keep the news of Evanius' imminent departure to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from them. Why ever would she want them around after they'd rejected her so completely?

But the aunt and uncle who'd owled were not Salvatores. Instead, they were Malfoys—which in some ways was worse, given how low the Malfoy name had fallen during the war. This uncle and aunt were Raveena's mother's younger brother, Axarus—and his grown son, Maximus, as well—and Axarus' never-been-married twin sister, Adora. They'd never been anything but kind to Raveena and her boy—though they'd been decidedly absent over the years.

Their kindness, however, did not impress Raveena. Because all three had spent most of the past twenty years out of the country—in Germany, in fact—Raveena was furious with the lot of them. It was true that, over the years, she'd received regular owls and significant amounts of money from them—pity money, she called it—but...why hadn't they been around to stick up for her and her son when others in the family had obviously just wanted to hide her and her transgression from the world?

For her son though, she was thrilled—he wasn't a Squib like she and would be able to join the ranks of their large family where she had not been able. He'd be able to go off to school and learn what he'd been born to—not that he wanted to. In fact, Evanius was quite bitter himself. For eleven years her son had watched the world around him and saw it as completely unjust. As the son of a Squib, he did not seem to fit in to the world his mother had been born to—but neither was he a Muggle. His extended family—grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins—while they constantly harassed him and his mother about their status—or lack thereof—were adamant that they not venture out into the non-wizarding world. Where they thought he and his mother would go was anyone's guess, but, because of this, he and his mother had no one else.

And it was because of this...this no one else...that caused Raveena to accept the fact that her aunt and uncle—and cousin—would be arriving shortly.

Crumpling the letter, the blonde woman held it over the cooker in her kitchen and watched it burn—dropping it into the sink when the flames reached her fingers, then staring down at it.

"Mummy?"

Turning, Raveena saw her son standing in the doorway and tried to smile at him.

"You all right?" he asked, a black brow arched worriedly.

Glancing into the sink and seeing the charred remains of the letter, Raveena quickly reached for and turned on the faucet, then looked back at her son. "Yes."

"They're coming today, aren't they?" Evanius asked, his tone acidic.

Raveena nodded.

"Why?"

Frowning, the woman grabbed a hand towel and dried her hands, then went to her son. "They're insisting on accompanying us today," she said with a roll of her gray eyes.

"But...why?" he asked again.

"I don't know," she whispered. And she didn't know. Though she was a Squib, she'd been to Diagon Alley several times over the years and hadn't needed anyone from the family to go with her, but...the letter made it clear that she and her son were not going alone on this day. "Maybe they think we can't get there on our own."

"I hate them!" her son snarled through clenched teeth, his small hands fisted in his fury. "I hate them all!"

Blinking, Raveena continued to frown. She knew that, over the years, she'd bad-mouthed the family, and deservingly so—in her opinion—but despite everything, she didn't really hate them. She disliked them immensely, because of the rejection and cruelty, but...they were still the only family she and her son had.

The one she truly hated was the man who was her son's father, because it was his rejection that was the cause of all this. She'd practically worshipped the man—she'd lain with him and given him a son, and he'd walked away. He'd turned his back on them, which, to her mind, had caused her own family to turn on her. It wasn't true, of course—it wasn't Severus Snape's fault that her family loathed her, it was her non-magical status. But Raveena couldn't seem to see that.

"Don't say that," she said quietly. "They're not all bad." Then angrily, she went on. "This is all that man's doing!"

Evanius nodded; he also hated the man who'd created him. Over the years he'd heard enough disparaging remarks about the man—mostly from his mother, but from others as well—to put up a near-impenetrable barrier around his heart so that he felt nothing but loathing for his dead father. Or so he told himself. But if he was honest with himself, he'd be forced to admit that he was curious.

"Why do we have to wait for them?" he asked.

"Because they will find us if we go on our own," Raveena answered with an exhausted sigh. "And then there'd be questions...questions I'd rather not be bothered with." There were always questions, if not from others, then from her son—but he seemed satisfied by her response and didn't push further. With another sigh, Raveena glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall and said, "They'll be here any second. Are you ready?"

Evanius nodded. "Yes, Mummy."

The tiny lines on her forehead smoothing, Raveena tried to relax. Over the years, Raveena had matured. In most ways she'd done right by her son—better than one might have expected, given her upbringing—but she still failed in some areas. She'd managed to clean up their surroundings and keep them both fed and in decent attire, but she still had her opinions and prejudices—just like anyone else.

But provide, she had. She'd taken Mrs. Avery's advice about selling Severus' house and using the monies to refurbish her own into something pleasant and livable—something decent enough in which to raise a child. The selling of Severus' house had taken some time though—because no one seemed to want to move onto Spinner's End—but in time she'd been successful. And once sold, Raveena had taken most of his belongings, including a vast library of books—only half of them spell books—into her home, where she proceeded to read each and every one of them. It took years, but what else did she have to do while raising her son. She supposed she could have gone out and gotten a Muggle job—but why do that when it seemed she now had plenty of money to stay home with her child. Selling Severus' home had given her some of that money, but that was not all she had. Her parents, though they seemed to loathe her, sent her a monthly stipend. She called this stay-away money, and stay away she did—though she did use her parents' money for money expenses. But there was also the pity money she regularly received from her aunt and uncle. This money, however, she never touched. Instead, she put it in the account at Gringotts that she'd opened for Evanius. That day had been interesting—the day she'd opened Evanius' account—because she'd discovered that there were already several accounts with her son's name on it.

"Mummy?"

Blinking, Raveena focused on her son.

"You all right?" he asked again.

Nodding, Raveena reached out to run a hand over her son's cheek. "Just thinking."

Evanius watched his mother carefully. She often said she was just thinking and it always worried him. She always looked sad and lonely, even when they were having fun together—and now that he would be going off to school, he worried about her being truly alone.

"Mummy?"

"What is it, Ev?"

"I don't have to go," he said. He wanted to go—if for no other reason, but to see what else was out there—but he hated the thought of leaving her by herself.

Smiling, Raveena tried to look cheerful. "Of course you do. This will be—"

And then she was startled by a deafening CRACK in her living room—which caused her son to roll his black eyes.

"Raveena, dear," came her elderly aunt's voice from the other room, "we're here."

Glancing at her son, Raveena whispered, "As if we couldn't hear them Apparate in."

Their conversation forgotten, Evanius giggled.

"Don't think we didn't hear that, Cousin," came a deep voice.

Rolling her gray eyes, Raveena sighed, then gestured for her son to follow her. Stepping into her main living space, Raveena eyed them. Her aunt and uncle looked...older...which they were, since she'd not seen them in a few years, but good too—and her cousin, Maximus, who was her age, didn't seem to look any different than he had the last time she'd seen him. Unlike most of the family, Maximus wasn't blonde and pale. Like his Italian mother—who'd died giving birth to him—he was dark-haired and eyed and had wonderfully naturally tanned skin.

Quickly, Raveena went to her aunt—but stopped in front of her, not quite sure how to greet her after all these years.

"What is wrong with you, child?" her aunt asked as she reached out and drew Raveena into her arms. "Don't you dare confuse me with my sister!"

Startled, Raveena hugged back—but was scolded when she attempted to pull back.

"The initiator of the affection is the one who should end it, my dear."

Blushing, Raveena nodded. "I'm sorry, Aunt Adora."

Waving a hand dismissively, the older woman smiled. "You look good, dear. Healthy."

Pursing her lips, Raveena tried to smile, but she hated being on display. "Th-thank you," she sputtered, then glanced at her uncle. "Hello, Uncle."

Her uncle's demeanor was less touchy-feely than his twin sister's, but he did smile warmly before taking her hand and kissing it. "It is so nice to see you again, Raveena. It has been...a while."

Raveena nodded. "Yes, Uncle, it has," she agreed, hoping she managed to keep the bitterness out of her tone—and knowing she failed when the white-haired man cocked his head and frowned.

"And what about me, Cousin?" Maximus said with a grin. "Where is my hug?"

Smiling, Raveena allowed herself to be pulled toward the man. Smashing her into his broad chest, he squeezed her tight—too tight, as far as she was concerned—but only briefly.

"Now, let's see this boy of yours," her cousin went on. "You've sure grown!"

Evanius narrowed his black eyes at his mother's cousin. "Of course I have!" he snapped. "You've not seen me in five years."

"Evanius!" Raveena hissed, her face flushed with embarrassment.

But Maximus laughed. "That's quite all right, Cousin. The boy is just pointing out the truth. It's been far too long between visits."

Nervously, Raveena glanced at her aunt and uncle—and was surprised to see them nodding.

"Very much like his snarky father in more ways than appearance, isn't he?" Uncle Axarus said, his pale eyes going to his niece.

"I am not!" Evanius objected, his arms crossing defiantly over his chest.

Axarus' brow shot up and his eyes went to Raveena—who pointedly looked away—then the man looked back at the boy. "There is nothing wrong with sharing traits with Severus Snape, young man. Despite what you may have been told, I'll have you know that he was a very brave man...braver than most. Yes, he made mistakes...just like everyone else...but he died a hero."

For a moment, Evanius boldly glared up at the white-haired man—but soon it became a confused frown.

"Now!" the older man said. "Let's get this day moving, shall we?"

"Yes," his twin agreed. "And let's take our time...stretch out the day as long as possible."

At this Maximus chuckled. "Avoiding something, are we, Auntie?"

"Oh. Merlin, yes!" Adora drawled with a roll of her pale gray eyes. "The longer we make this shopping expedition, the less time we have to spend over at your Aunt Amulara's," she said to her handsome nephew. Then quickly, she turned and patted Raveena's arm. "No offense, dear, but if I have to sit there and listen to your father and brothers go on about pure-blood politics, your mother and sisters-in-law prattle on about their silly ladies' functions, and your cousins bicker about utter nonsense, for more than a couple hours, I think I'll have to perform an Unforgivable on myself," she complained—then frowned. "Mind you, I mean no offense," she repeated.

Raveena grinned. "Oh. None taken, Aunt Adora."

"Pfft! What's with this Aunt Adora rubbish?" the old woman carped. "I know I've been neglectful, but—"

"I'm sorry, Auntie," quickly Raveena corrected herself.

"That's quite all right, dear, but...please do stop apologizing. You might have been born a Salvatore, but you've got Malfoy blood in you too. And Malfoys do not express regret over something that can so easily be rectified."

"Yes. Of course, Auntie."

"Are we ready know, Sister?" Axarus asked when he could finally get a word in.

"Hmm. Quite."

"All right then," the old man said, then smiled at his niece. "Has the boy Apparated Side-Along before?"

Raveena shook her head.

"Hmm. Well then. Maximus, would you do the honors?"

"Of course, Father," Maximus said, then looked at the boy and held out an arm. "Brace yourself, Evanius. Apparation can be...disconcerting the first few times."

Looking up at his mother, fear in his obsidian eyes, Evanius slowly reached out and grabbed Maximus' arm.

"Ready?"

"I think so."

Chuckling, Maximus addressed the others. "See you there!" Then, with a crack, they were gone.

XxXxX

Raveena arrived in Diagon Alley moments later, one hand clutching her aunt's hand, the other in her uncle's—she did not like Side-Along Apparating at all, but what choice did she have.

"I think I'm going to be sick," she said, quickly releasing the hands she clung to and rushing to a large potted plant. After retching, she fumbled for the bag she carried, her eyes filling with tears. "I'm so sorry," she said, obviously expecting words of derision.

"What did I tell you about apologies, young lady?" her aunt said as she magicked a tissue into Raveena's hand and gently rubbed the small of her back. "I'll hear no more of them!"

"But...if I wasn't a Squ—"

"I don't want to hear that either, dear," the woman scolded. "Plenty of witches and wizards can't abide by Apparation. Your magical status has nothing to do with it."

Raveena frowned as she continued to blot her quivering lips, then chanced a look at the others—they were watching her, but politely.

"It's true, Cousin," Maximus said. "Took your brother, Rufus, years to get over his aversion to Apparating."

"Threw up every time, for Merlin knows how long," Axarus added.

"Of course, Splinching himself those few times might have contributed to the problem," Adora said with an almost evil grin.

"Not that your delightful brother would ever tell anyone about any of that," said Maximus, snickering his amusement. "I wouldn't bring it up though."

Her eyes wide, Raveena shook her head. "I would never. Rufus would likely hex me silly."

Adora got serious here. "He'd better not!" she snapped—then frowned. "Growing up under that roof must have been...excruciating."

Raveena shrugged. "It wasn't fun," she admitted.

Still frowning, the older woman snaked an arm around her niece and squeezed her. "Had I truly known, I'd have tried to do something."

Raveena nodded, but didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say.

"Are we going to get this boy the things he needs or stand here all day?" Axarus finally asked.

XxXxX

"I don't see why he can't have a broom," Maximus complained loudly—for at least the third time. They'd made their stop at Flourish & Blott's to get Evanius' books—which Axarus had shrunk and placed in his pocket—had finished up at Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions—where Adora had practically bought the place out—and were now heading down the street to Ollivander's to get a wand.

"Students are not permitting brooms during their first year," his father reminded him.

"Pfft! That's ridiculous!" Maximus very nearly growled. "I had one long before entering Durmstrang. How's one supposed to play Quidditch without one?"

"First years rarely make their House teams, Son," Axarus reminded his grown son.

Ignoring his father, Maximus looked at the boy. "If you make your House team, send me an owl immediately and you'll have the fastest broom available," he promised.

Evanius grinned up at him and nodded—then frown, because he hoped he wouldn't disappoint them. Sure seemed like his mother's cousin was expecting a lot out of a kid born to a Squib.

"Stop it, Max!" Adora scolded when she saw the child's face. "The boy's not ever sat a broom before. Give him a chance to get acclimated. He'll take his flying classes, like everyone else, and we'll see if he has an aptitude. If he does, great! And if he doesn't, that's fine too. I assure you that there are plenty of other areas to find interest."

"Of course, Auntie, but—"

"No buts!" Adora said as she turned toward a shop and waved the door open wandlessly. "In, in...let's get this done!"

XxXxX

"Be right with you," came a voice from somewhere in the back.

Evanius looked up at his mother—who smiled down at him encouragingly—then let his dark eyes wander around the shop. It was a tiny place, narrow and shabby with a dusty window, and empty except for small counter and a single, spindly chair—a chair that sat an old man, who was now staring at them.

"Good afternoon," the man said in a soft voice as he rose, his old bones creaking, and approached. Stopping in front of them, the man narrowed his pale eyes—eyes that shined like moons through the gloom of the shop—and leaned in close to Evanius.

"Umm. Hello, Sir," Evanius said awkwardly, uncomfortable with the creepy old man's nearness—he wasn't used to people doing that.

"Hmm. Another one," the man said. "Two on Monday, three on Wednesday...and one today."

Confused by the man's strange words, Evanius glanced at his mother again, but she only shrugged, just as confused as he.

"You have your father's eyes, young man," the old man said after a moment.

"M-my f-father?" Evanius sputtered, his black eyes wide with surprise. "You k-knew my father?"

"And his hair as well, I believe," the man went on, ignoring Evanius' question. Then he reached out and grabbed Evanius' hand and squeezed it firmly—more firmly than the boy thought someone so aged was capable. "Good hands. If I had to guess, I'd say you'll be quite proficient at Potions...just like your father was. He was a master, you know."

Evanius, though frightened by the crazy old man's words, was intrigued as well. Did he really look that much like the man who'd created him? he wondered. Having never seen an image of his father, he didn't know—but he vowed to find one as soon as possible. Glancing at his mother again—she didn't look too happy—Evanius sighed.

"There you are!" came another voice—an exasperated one. "Mother's been looking for you, Grandfather. She has your tea ready."

All eyes turned to look at the newcomer; he was a much younger version of the crazy old man, but obviously related.

With a sigh, the old man said, "Does horrid things to the hair, I'm told...mixing potions, I mean...but you'll be good." Then he turned and shuffled toward the younger man. "Try Willow."

After the old man was gone, the younger one faced his customers. "So sorry 'bout that," he said. "My grandfather has seen better days." Then he eyed Evanius—who looked nothing like the three blonde-haired people with him, and equally unlike the darker man with them—and frowned. "I am...umm...Mr. Ollivander...the proprieter. Off to Hogwart's come Monday, are you?"

Evanius nodded.

"Well then, you'll be needing a wand then, won't you?"

Evanius smiled shyly and nodded again. "Yes, Sir."

Having been silent thus far, Adora placed one hand on Evanius' shoulder and held out the other. "Adora Malfoy, Mr. Ollivander."

Surprised by the surname—it had been years since the Malfoys had been seen in public—Mr. Ollivander took the older woman's hand and gently shook it, then said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Madam."

Nodding, Adora pulled her hand back and gestured at the others. "And this is my brother, Axarus, and his son, Maximus, my niece, Raveena, and her son, Evanius Salvatore. Obviously we're here today to purchase Evanius' wand."

Mr. Ollivander nodded. "Yes. Yes, of course," he said quickly. "Well, let's get started. Put out your wand arm, so my tape measure can get to work, and I'll just go pull out a few boxes."

Turning, the man sped away—his heart beating a mile a minute and his mind reeling. What were the chances of six, nearly identical, children entering his shop in a matter of just five days? he thought as he manically pulled wand-boxes from his shelves. On Monday he'd helped the Snape twins—whose mother was introduced as Holly, and hadn't objected when he'd called her Mrs. Snape—then two days later, in traipsed the Avery triplets. Though the Avery triplets—along with their "parents"—didn't go by the name Snape, it was now obvious to Mr. Ollivander—given what he was seeing today—that those three children were also—most definitely—products of Severus Snape. He'd bet his life on it!

"All right. Here we are!" he said as he gently piled the wand boxes on the counter, glanced down and studied the stats his Quick Quill had jotted down for him, then picked up one of the boxes, pulled off its lid, and set it in front of the boy. "Let's start with this! Willow and dragon heartstring. Seven inches. Nice and swishy. Just take it and give it a wave."

Smiling nervously, Evanius reached out and took the wand and, feeling silly, waved it a bit—but Mr. Ollivander quickly snatched it out of his hand and put it away.

"Nope! Too small. How about this!" the man said. "Also willow, but with a phoenix feather. Nine inches. Swishy as well, but somewhat whippy."

Evanius tried—but he hardly raised the wand when it too was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.

"No, no," the proprietor said as he dropped the wand in it's box, closed it, and pulled out another. "Willow and unicorn hair. Eight and half inches. Swishy. Willow is always swishy. Go on now, try it out," he said when Evanius didn't immediately take the proffered wand.

Again Evanius tried—and tried and tried and tried—but none of the wands would do anything for him. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for, but the stack of tried wands in their boxes was piling up and Evanius was beginning to think he'd have to leave without getting a wand—and that worried him since his mother had no magic at all.

And then something did happen. The next wand that was handed him jumped out of his hand and back into its box—making him think his previous thoughts might actually be true. Positive he wasn't destined to be a wizard after all, he was completely crestfallen.

But Mr. Ollivander seemed pleased and encouraged by the development. "Oh! Finally! We're getting closer. You're a tricky one, son. But not to worry...sooner or later we find a wand for everyone." Frowning, Mr. Ollivander pushed the wand boxes they'd already opened out of the way and pulled toward him the few they had not. "Hmm. Grandfather insisted on willow, but I'm not so sure. Still, he was an expert in his time, so... Willow and centaur tail hair. Eleven and three quarter inches. Swishy as all get out."

Not expecting anything, Evanius took the wand—and was surprised by the warmth that instantly made its way from his fingertips, up his arm, and into his body. Smiling, he raised it over his head and brought it swishing downward through the dusty air of the shop—green and gold sparks shooting from the end.

"Look, mummy," he said happily. "I am a wizard."

Raveena grinned. "Of course you are, Evanius," she said proudly.

XxXxX

Raveena watched as her son went off with the others. She'd made an excuse about needing to stop at Gringotts and promised to meet them at the Leaky Cauldron when she was finished. Though she didn't truly need to go to the bank, she desperately wanted to check something out. When they were finally out of sight, she turned and hurried away.

Navigating back down the busy main street of Diagon Alley, she stopped at the snowy white building that towered over all the little shops and eyed the goblin who stood outside next to the burnished bronze doors. He wore a uniform of scarlet and gold, and bowed as she came up the steps and went inside.

Once inside, Raveena faced a second set of doors, silver this time, opened them and walked quickly past two more bowing goblins, and into a vast marble hall with a hundred—or more—goblins sitting on high stools behind a long counter scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, and examining precious stones through eyeglasses.

"Good afternoon, Sir," Raveena said once she was standing in front of one of the goblins. "Is there someone I could speak with about the accounts I have here?"

His eyes narrowing, the goblin stopped writing, wrinkled his nose, and stared at her. "You may speak with me."

Nodding, Raveena reached into her pocket and pulled out a key and pushed it across the counter. "There are several accounts associated with this key, but...I've only opened one of them. Could you tell me who has opened the others?"

Picking up the key, the goblin looked at it closely, then shook his head. "I could, but I will not."

"But the account is mine and my son's," she said with a huff of frustration.

"That is true, but one of your solicitors has requested that his or her contributions be anonymous.

Biting her lip, Raveena frowned. Of course! "One of them?" she queried, as she knew all the others who'd been helping her.

The goblin nodded.

"Is there any way I can get in touch with...that one solicitor?

The goblin looked down at the ledger he'd been making notes on, then reached for a piece of parchment—which he pushed, with obvious annoyance, across the counter at the woman. "You could have us send him or her a note."

Raveena stared at the blank parchment, then grabbed it and scribbled out a note.

Not sure who you are or why you've been depositing

money into my son's account at Gringotts—or what your

connection to us may be—but I must say that

the money has been extremely helpful over the years and

is very much appreciated. I would sure like to meet

you, if that is possible—to express my gratitude in

person. Perhaps we could have lunch? If this is acceptable

to you, please owl me at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Raveena Sidonia Salvatore

Rereading her letter—twice—Raveena bit her lip, then slid the parchment back across the counter toward the goblin. Nodding when he indicated that he would need to read it, she waited the few seconds that took, then watched him fold it up and put it in a Gringotts' envelope, then stamp it—magically—and place it on what was obviously the outgoing post pile.

"That will go out today?" she asked after several seconds of silence.

Having gone back to his ledger, the goblin looked up at her again. "Of course. And will there be anything else, Miss Salvatore?" he asked.

"Umm. No. I think that is all. Good day, Sir."


Questions/comments - I'd be happy to address them!

Characters:

Raveena Salvatore (43) - woman who got herself knocked up by Severus Snape; Squib (my goodness...I've made her WAY too immature for a 43 year old)

Evanius Salvatore (11) - Raveena and Severus' son

Adora Malfoy (74) - Raveena's aunt (her mother's younger sister/mother name is Amulara Salvatore); Axarus' twin sister

Axarus Malfoy (74) - Raveena's uncle (her mother's younger brother); Adora's twin brother

Maximus Malfoy (43) - Axarus' son (mother died in childbirth); Raveena's cousin; not married/no children