A young man was pounding on the door to the local orphanage. From the dim light you couldn’t see his expression, but you had no doubt frustration was adorned on his face. You turn to keep walking, but sigh to yourself as you hear the pounding continue even louder. The boy then abruptly stopped. You could hear the faintest sound of a sniffle before the banging continued.
Mrs. Cole was an extremely light sleeper. If she wanted to let that boy in, she would have already done so. She must be trying to give him a lesson to not stay out so late, but even it was too cruel for her to deny a bed to a child. She was completely unlike the orphanage you
and Michael were raised in.
With a reluctant heart, you turn around. You let out a sharp cough as you approached the steps to the orphanage. The boy, maybe around the age 15 or 16, obviously on guard against you. He pressed himself against the door as if you planned on doing something malicious. The boy had neat black hair and his clothing was kept exceptionally clean for an orphan. You’ve seen him in church but knew little of him.
Something is wrong with that boy, ever since Tom was born he was an odd child. Misfortune always follows him.You couldn’t help but wonder what exactly he did to get on Mrs. Cole’s bad-side. Most likely just getting in trouble too many times whenever Mrs. Cole’s patience finally run out with the other children. He certainly didn’t look like a trouble maker. Snapping out of your thoughts, you spoke as gently as you could to him.
“Did Mrs. Cole lock you out?”
“Yes ma’am. I seem to have upset her earlier today. She’s never liked me anyway.”
He looked a little perturbed but didn’t seem scared. This must have happened before. His face morphed into a pitiful stare. Watery eyes looking up at you hopeful, but wary.
Oh dear. Your heart melted a little.
“You really should be more careful in not staying out so late and getting Mrs. Cole so angry. She probably wanted to teach you a lesson about tardiness, but this is too harsh of her. Well, Come along now. I don’t have a spare bed, but we’ll make do. It’ll be much better than sleeping out here.”
You held out your hand and waited. He continued to hesitate, and his eyes seemed to dart around the area.
“Oh, don’t worry. How about as repayment you help me with some errands or chores for a couple of days? It should help ease Mrs. Cole’s worries about you anyway if you are busy with helping me out rather than running around. She’s strict but she really wants the best for all of you.”
Tom huffs slightly as if laughing at the thought, but his shoulders relax a touch. He placed his smaller hand in yours. His hand was freezing cold. He shouldn’t be this cold in the summer.
“Come on, let’s get you warmed up and fed.” You smiled softly at him.
That morning you personally dropped Tom off at the orphanage. You didn’t want Mrs. Cole to misunderstand if Tom did mention that you housed him for the night or accuse you of something horrible. She never said anything to you, but her face seemed to fill with panic as she ushered Tom inside.
You didn’t dwell on it as you left for work.
You were relaxing on the couch after a long shift like usual, about five days from when you first let Tom stay the night when you heard a knock on the door. You open it cautiously but relax when you see Tom. He looked a little nervous as if he expected you to slam the door in his face.
“Mrs. Cole locked me out again. I’m sorry, I was exploring a little and was too forgetful of the time. Can I stay here?”
You give him a little grin, “Well, I’ll let you spend the night I guess, but you get to go to the store with me tomorrow and carry my bag not to mention helping with the dishes.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” He seemed relieved as you stepped aside and let him in.
“Oh please, just call me big sis or auntie. You’re making me feel like a spinster.” You joked.
Tom flushed slightly and nodded. “I- well if you wish, um, sis.”
You feed him and tuck him in when he fell asleep on the couch. Something warm and maternal floods your heart.
Tom seemed to wander by your house more and more. You couldn’t help but coax him inside for a meal, he was still too skinny in your eyes. He seemed more open and relaxed as you busied yourself in the kitchen while he sat and watched you cook. Such a thoughtful child, keeping you company.
Tom washed his hands, ate politely, listened well and made sure to help with the dishes. How could Mrs. Cole dislike him? You sigh and look out the window, the sun was setting.
“You probably should go now Tom, before Mrs. Cole shuts you out again. Don’t worry about cleaning, I’ll take care of it.” You tell softly as he dried the dish in his hand.
He froze, but spoke timidly- hesitantly, “Sis, I- Can I stay the night again, I promise I won’t be any trouble.”
You heart hurts and you lift your hand to pat his head, only to have him flinch away at the motion. You reel. His dark eyes flicker to yours as you repeated the motion again but slower and let your fingers nestle in his hair. Tom’s shoulders slowly relax as you pat his head. You remain silent as he slows his breathing.
Something raw and ugly churns in your stomach. You don’t know what caused this reaction in him, but you know something has happened.
“Don’t worry Tom you are always welcome. I’ll get you something more comfortable, okay?”
He’s tucked in on your couch and seems at peace once more. You hold back your anger. Tom’s attitude makes you think of
Michael. You miss him.
Tom doesn’t return to the orphanage after that. You slowly fill your house with new items for him. He’s delighted when you gift him some new clothes. His smile is dazzling. You feel appreciated and well, you may have to work more hours, but it’s worth it for his rare smile.
“You go to a boarding school?” You are a little shocked, how could the orphanage have afforded that sort of education?
He looks a little worried. “I can get a job to pay for-”
You look at him sternly, “Tom you aren’t an orphan anymore. I’ll handle the costs if I can. Just tell me how much for your schooling.”
You sigh a little in relief as Tom lists off the costs. It was a little pricey, but you could handle it.
Tom looks at you with some hope. “Are we a family now? I never-well I was raised in the orphanage. I never thought...Anyone would want me.”
You hug him and restrain your tears.
Besides Michael, You doubt there is anyone else who cares for you. You’re grateful for Tom. For a family.
“Sis, I’ve been going to the train station by myself for years please, just go ahead and go to work. I am almost an adult I can handle myself.”
You sigh. You planned on showing up late to work so you could escort Tom, but he is mature enough to get there without your help.
“Well, if you insist, but let me give you this. We haven’t been a family for too long, but just let this serve as a reminder that there is someone back here thinking of you. That and to not get into too much trouble.”
It was a locket that your mother gave you to comfort you when you left to live on your own. You put a picture of yourself as well of a small photo of Tom. Tom grasps it slowly and smiles up at you.
“Thank you, sis. I’ll always keep it with me.”
You hug him and hold him close. It will be a long time before you see him again.
“You’re welcome, now get going before I cry.”
He gives you a nod and a smile as the two of you headed in different directions.
It’s been a little lonely since Tom left, but you’re okay. You worry about him more than anything if the clothes you bought him were keeping him warm or if Tom was having issues with his peers. He never seems to get along with children his age and it worries you.
You meet up with Michael to stave off the loneliness and anxiety with Tom gone. Michael just came back into town and asked to spend dinner with you. You didn't hesitate to agree.
His smile was so brilliant just like when you two were children. You felt butterflies as he walked you home and wished you a warm farewell. Michael has always been a gentle person with warm hands that hold your own so gently.
You wanted to kiss him, but refrain. Even with your history, it's better to wait until a couple of more dates until anything like that.
You invite him to lunch that weekend.
You think of Tom often. You spend most of your time alone or working. It’s too quiet sometimes, but you’ll be okay.
Tom’s first letter came about two weeks after he left for school. The mail came from an owl who was impatiently tapping his beak on your window. You opened the window and opened the small container on its leg. A letter.
I know using an owl must seem strange to you, as it was to me at first, but the school refuses to let go of the tradition along with it’s odd name. Make sure to give it a snack before letting it come back or it may try to bite you. I missed being at school and learning with my classmates, but I long for your home cooked meals and company. Hogwarts used to be my refuge from the orphanage, but now I long to come back home. I never thought I would come to view any place other than Hogwarts a home, but I’m happy that I now can.
I plan on coming back home during the winter break, if that’s alright? Christmas was never really celebrated at the orphanage and I wish to spend it with you, no matter how simple. Also, I wished to go on a trip with my class and was wondering if you could sign the permission slip? Some spending money would be nice as well, but I understand if you are unable to send any. Please take care of yourself.
You hope you have enough time to give him a good gift. You sent the owl back with a little you had saved and gave it a snack for good measure.
You speak with Michael about Tom. Michael asked to join the two of you for dinner before leaving town. You agree.
You were waiting at the train station frantically trying to find the train Tom was on when a voice called out to you.
“Sis! I’m glad I found you. I got worried when I didn’t see you.”
You turn around and Tom is standing next to you with his luggage.
“Tom! how are you? Did you have any issues coming back? Oh, my you’ve gotten tall.” Tom was 15 this year, almost an adult.
“Everything went well. Don’t worry sis. How have you been? Not too lonely I hope.” He winds his arm around yours as you walk. Such a thoughtful boy
“Don’t worry about me Tom I am an adult. Oh, one of my friends is preparing dinner for us right now. I’ve been wanting to introduce you to them for a while, so I hope you are okay with them staying for dinner.”
Tom tilts his head. “A friend of yours? It’s no problem at all, I was wishing to get some time for us to catch up though. It has been awhile after all.”
You smile, “Ah, don’t worry it’s just for tonight. He’ll have to go out of town soon and we’ll use the rest of the break to spend time together and catch up.”
Tom’s smile seems to twist but goes back to normal in a second.
“I’ll be on my best behavior.”
Tom seems to freeze as he sees
Michael. Michael stands up and holds out his hand for Tom to shake. Tom hesitates a moment but accept the handshake. Your eyes dart between the two of them.
“Well it’s nice to meet you.” Tom’s smile seems tense. Well the two of them need to have a chat man to man. They should be able to chat a little more freely if you give them some space.
“Why don’t the two of you chat for a little bit while I finish dinner okay?” You give a hopeful smile towards the two of them before leaving.
After a couple of minutes,
Michael rushes into the kitchen panicked. He had a terrified look on his face as he grabs your hand and starts tugging. “Michael? What’s wrong?”
I just- I can't explain it. We need to go before-" His panicked whispers alarm you.
You turn off the stove
and try to stay calm as you escape his grasp. Michael is even more insistent.
"You aren't safe here, please-"
You dodge from Michael’s attempt to grab you and hurry into the living room
You aren't leaving without Tom.
You stare in shock as your furniture is seemingly repairing itself as Tom stares at it. Tom looks over at you and his face grows dark. Tom storms up in a flash and looks at Michael all too coldly. Michael moves you behind himself. Keeping an arm on you, the two of you move back into the kitchen slowly as Tom crept forward. You're trembling.
"You should have just left like I said. Now I have to kill you, but first, Crucio"
Michael starts screaming and you fall backwards with him in your arms. You stumble trying to support his weight and your head hits the counter with a sickening crack. You choke back tears as you see Michael in such pain. You've seen him get beat before and not say a word, but this, this is torture. Michael suddenly stops screaming. You can still feel his heartbeat so you think he passed out from the pain.
Tom, What are you doing? Tom! what the FUCK is going on!”
You see Tom
in a way you've never seen him before. His eyes are filled with rage and disgust. Who is this snake you let in to your home? "I'm the only one you need. He shouldn't have touched you. He shouldn't look at you like that!"
Tom kneels in front of you. His hand cradles your head.
The grip he has on your hair is painful.You try to push him away, but he pins you underneath his weight. "I am not your possession! How could you-"
You're right! You're my precious older sister who spoils your cute, little brother oh so very much. Sorry about this, but I'll introduce you to magic gently after I get rid of this awful memory. You'll accept it if I move something or make flowers bloom for you, since you love me so very very much. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of your wound like a good little brother. You can keep living in this fantasy so, let’s get you cleaned up and then off to bed now. Hey, I just had a wonderful idea, Why don’t I make you a horcrux? To own a part of your soul would be gratifying. Ah, not like that means anything to you anyway Sleep well, dear sister.“
You are frozen in fear as his eyes meet yours.
You wake up with a headache. You feel your head and find it is bandaged carefully. You don’t remember much, just that you hit your head on the counter, but something feels wrong about your body. You feel like something is missing. You walk into the kitchen bare foot and find Tom there. He’s staring down at the locket you gave him. Your eyes linger on the locket for just a moment before you shake your head and look back to Tom. You smile fondly.
“Hey what are you up to?”
He looks at you a little startled and rushes towards you.
“It’s good you’re awake. You hit your head pretty hard yesterday.”
You smile, “Hey don’t worry about me, I’m not too hold that a knock to the head is going to make me kick the bucket just yet.”
Tom lightly laughs back, “Oh I’m not worried about anything like that. Here, I made breakfast you go ahead and eat while I take out some trash. I don’t want you to knock out any more screws in there.”
You call back out to him as he opens the side-door.
“Oh, ha ha. Just for that you’re carrying the groceries today!”
You sip your drink and ignore the hollow feeling in your heart.