a/n: My writing does improve during the fic since it is the first time I have ever written a full story before so critique and comments are always welcome to help me progress further!

so please enjoy

Chapter 1


20th of April 1990

11:47 a.m.

Pembride Children's Institute, Devon.

I stared out the single-paned window at the overcast sky. I could hear some children chattering in the next room, and the gurgle of the pipes. Overall the old house was quite still.

I had the best room. I had been there the longest by far, and the privilege served as a sort of apology. 'Sorry you've been forgotten in this human dumping ground', the four walls whispered.

There wasn't much to do in Pembride, mostly I read books and grew taller. Once I tried singing, but we had no radio, and I only knew Christmas carols. Pembride wasn't supposed to be a permanent home. This house wasn't meant to contain a person for more than a few months, yet it was all I knew. Once I turned eighteen and I was allowed to leave the home, I had towering aspirations of not being immediately locked up in a closed ward. A girl can dream.
I strolled over to my cot and lay down to admire my fingernails. Halfway through the task, I froze. It couldn't be. If I didn't know any better I would have thought that the front door of the building had just opened. The reception workers weren't due to leave until the change over at three o'clock, but I knew that creak. There was a burble of chatter, and a crash as the door was shut.

There was a stranger in the house. My skin prickled. I hurried to exit my room and made my way down the bright white of the dormitory corridor. At the stairs I paused, definitely voices. We didn't have a television, newspapers were rarely discarded within reach, and the home didn't take in children over twelve. It was the occasional visiting stranger that served as my window into the world beyond the institute's fences. A high beam of information to illuminate my solitary existence.

It was a man, he had been taken in by Ms. Cartridge to sit in the canteen. They sat across from each other at one of the hardwood benched. Two mugs of tea were placed between them. Someone was smiling down on me, the door had been left ajar. A wizened man with a congenial expression was just visible. His clothes seemed bizarre to me, but it's hardly his fault that the majority of the visitors here couldn't escape dressing in the most boring clothes available to womankind.

"Feel free to call me Albus, I'm so glad that you could find the time to help," he said, he smoothed down his impossibly long white beard and Ms. Cartridge followed his hand with her narrow eyes. She was the least helpful person on earth so already I was drawn in by the conversation.

"Help?" she hissed through the gaps between her long, thin teeth.

"You mentioned you could help me trace my family tree."

"I did?"

"Are you alright? You seem a little confused." The man didn't look as concerned as he sounded. He looked like he was waiting for something.

"I may have a head cold coming on, but that's immaterial. Our records are strictly confidential."

"But you've already given me the institutes' record on my Great Uncle Bertie," Albus replied pleasantly.

"Your Great Uncle?" Ms. Cartridge asked, "But our records only go back to 1968." I wondered if she even realised she was being rude.

"Yes, it was sadly empty. Odd since he was the longest remaining resident, he once told me he spent years here."

"You must be mistaken, no child stays long Mr. Dummeldore. This is a temporary dwelling for matters of urgency only. We've had a very rare exception to that, and I am not at liberty to discuss it."

"I wouldn't want to pry," the man replied in a tone that suggested he would very much like to pry. Ms. Cartridge sipped her tea through pursed lips, and grimaced as though it were bitter.

"The children are supposed to be taken from here by a guardian or a set of guardians put in place before they even arrive."

"It seems unlikely that a child would remain if that's the system."

"Sometimes the guardian falls through, in some cases, many do." In one case, all do. Ms. Cartridge had lost the run of herself, but it wasn't unusual for me to hear myself spoken of in such a way. I was an anomaly and an annoyance.

"What happens to the child then?"
"They wait, never long." Try seventeen years. They sipped their tea.

"Does such a child live here now?" the man asked, I could tell by her posture that she wasn't interested in answering, but then the reply came.

"Juniper Malfoy is a particularly unfortunate girl. We think she might be ill, but there's no doctor that can help her, and no guardian that will take her." Harsh.

"Malfoy, are you sure?" His tone was one of polite interest.


"I see, I'm afraid I must go, but I shall return."

"Return? What for?"

"That girl has been missing. She has people looking for her." Not possible.

"That's not possible." Thank you. "She's not the person you're looking for, we've looked everywhere for someone that might take her off our hands. No one wants her." and fuck you.

I didn't hear anymore. The bearded man was already standing, and I was forced to flee.

I lay on my cot that night, not standing to close the blinds or turn on the light as the room got darker. I chewed my nail. Could it be possible? I was an orphan, I'd been drifting all my life. could there be an end to that? Something else? Like a girl from a novel, could something more happen to me?

I didn't eat the next day. The man, Albus, he had infected me with a sickness. I could not afford to hope, but even that he might talk to me was exciting. That he might return to talk to me. My life had been so long, whiling away the days, pretending. Getting odd looks from staff who feared for their safety just because I had a tendency to daydream... and talk to myself... and guess things I shouldn't know. It's not a crime to have an imagination.

Three days and he had not returned. Maybe he wouldn't but I've waited longer for less. I sat and ate alone in my room. It wasn't a requirement for me to sit alone with the constantly changing queue of children's faces downstairs. The staff had given up on the charade of socialising me a long time ago. As far as they were concerned I was a stray dog that was too far gone. I'm sure it was heartbreaking for all of them that they couldn't just put me to sleep. I spent the day practicing baring my teeth.

I was in the hall, digging through a box of donated books hoping for something with actual text, when I heard his voice. I knew it's every lilt, had been holding onto the quality of the tone for weeks. I was ready to pop. He may has well have claimed there was a mix-up at the orphan hospital and that he was my Father. I had built a world of affection around him since his last visit. I scrambled to the door, it was an office. I peered through the keyhole.

"What's wrong with the poor girl?" he asked.

"She's not right in the head. She talks to herself. She's paranoid. She thinks mirrors can steal you if you look for too long. She's unstable. Her parents were the same, she ended up here with nothing after their little suicide pact. Mark my words, she won't last a minute outside of this institute when the time comes." This was becoming embarrassing. I'm not crazy, I just don't get out much. He could understand that though, he was smart.

Some kids in care don't learn to speak until much later than is normal because they don't have parents around them all the time. I learned to speak fine but I was still behind on some other stuff, like emoting, or reading people.

"I'd like to talk with her." What?!

"What?!" Ms. Cartridge shrieked helpfully. No adult had ever, in my memory, actually wanted to talk to me. I had thought I was prepared for this but I wasn't. When you spend so much time alone, nothing prepares you for words, conversation. It had happened a few times before. A new member of staff before they were warned off. I wayward social worker, a foster parent lost in a corridor. I never forget a hand I've shaken, probably because I could count them on my fingers.

"I have an interest in returning her to her roots," he explained, like that explained anything.

"There are regulations to be followed, not to mention the girl is almost eighteen," she protested reasonably, but Albus reached inside his robes and produced some papers.

"I think you'll find this to be in order," he said. I should go up to my room. I shouldn't be seeing this, this shouldn't be happening. I couldn't consider leaving Pembride, I couldn't even consider talking to someone who wanted to talk to me. This could not end well. I stepped back out of the way of the door, retreating toward the staircase. I wrapped my hand around the banister just as there was a creaking from the office. There stood the eccentrically dressed man, like a trickster from a story book. Ms. Cartridge was not in sight.

"I'm Albus Dumbledore." I nodded. "Will you walk with me in the garden?" he asked. I ran a hand through my prematurely silvery hair.

"I-," I croaked. It was the first time I had spoken aloud in so long. I nodded.

We walked together down the hall to the heavy, back door. I undid the latch and tugged the swollen, weathered wood from it's frame with a jerk. The icy April wind filled the entry way.

I wore my blue tartan skirt, and a white shirt. It was not suited to the bitter weather but I stepped out regardless. In my nervous attempt to act natural, I had failed to notice that my feet were bare. The cold gravel jabbed into the souls of my feet as it crunched under foot, but Albus said nothing, and I followed suit.

It was almost nice to be outside, even in the dingy courtyard. It been a while since I felt the breeze brush by me as it rattled from one portion of the wire fence to the other. I smiled at the greying sky, and then turned my pale eyes on Albus.

"What are you here for?" I inquired, in what I hoped was a polite tone. The words came slowly, they sounded so loud. My manner was awkward, like someone trying to use pencil immediately after handling a bag of ice.

"I'm sure you overheard me talking to your carer." I wasn't sure if carer was the right word, carers care. Still, I had been caught. Listening at keyholes probably wouldn't slide in my whole 'anti-paranoia' campaign.

"Am I in some kind of trouble?" The question was redundant. Dumbledore smiled kindly (at me), and pushed his half moon spectacles up his comically crooked nose.

"I've come to talk to you. I want to discuss your family, and your future. I come from the same, let's say, 'neighbourhood' as your parents." My brow furrowed.

"You knew my parents?" I was embarrassed, I didn't like that he knew about them. I tried not to stigmatize their illness but that didn't mean that this stranger would be so kind. What was the right thing to say?

"I know more about them than you have been told." He had stopped walking now, he was giving me a look that was obviously supposed to be comforting. I wished it could be but my heart was tight in my chest. "Not everything you've been told about your family has been accurate."

"Uhm, okay?" I crossed my arms and stared at the ground. What was going to happen to me?

"I am a professor and current headmaster at the school in which your parents were taught. I don't know what exactly they hoped to achieve by placing you here, but upon your seventeenth birthday the means by which they hid you could no longer prevent us from reaching you." I blinked at the gravel and began chewing at my nails.

"What?" I asked, around my mangled index finger. What was this about? Was I an heiress? A princess? Some kind of government experiment? Albus' mouth set at a tense angles and he placed a hand on my shoulder before continuing. I was pleased when I hardly flinched. I prepared myself for something more ordinary as the screech of the woman who ran the institute rang in my head 'you see what happens when you do nothing but read? Your head is off up in the clouds! what good is it to you there?!'

"Your parents had the ability to do things that the people in this place can't. They had the ability to do thing that you and I can. Have you ever made anything happen, Juniper? Without meaning to? Something that should've been impossible?" This was a test. I was being tested.

"No," I told him confidently. I had mixed feelings about his hands. It had been so long since I had been touched, it was distracting. Maybe it was also a little comforting. Maybe.

"You're a witch," he said. I stepped away from his touch. So this was how it was going to be? An old school witch hunt. I opened my mouth and then closed it again. I've fallen and hit my head. I've gone cracked. This is a prank. This man was completely insane. I wanted to roar with disappointment. What had I been thinking?

"I'm a witch?" I asked. Albus only looked pleased. Albus, the world I built around him crumbled.

"Yes, your mother was a witch also, and your father was a wizard, as am I. You are an adult by our laws, and so now I'm going to offer you a choice." Truthfully I've come into contact with worse potential foster parents. I'm not even kidding. "You may come with me and I will introduce you to the world from which you came or you can stay here and continue your life with no more interference from the magic-"

"You're serious?" I probed incredulously. Come on.

"Absolutely." He replied resolutely. I imagined just walking out of here with the loon... I could always just come back. Or not. I laughed a little, I felt as though I was calling a bluff. Playing some weird game of chicken with my residential situation. Oh God.

"I could go with you?" With anyone.

"Yes well, I could go inside and have your person removed from the non-magical records here at Pembride." He looked at me with stabbing eyes that gave the impression of looking through mine. I found myself wondering how a man who was obviously intelligent and kindly seemed to me so utterly taken with this madness. "Are you absolutely sure?" I thought of all that I had to lose. I almost laughed. The only thing the institute had going for it was that it was familiar, it was hardly home.

I really looked at Albus. My head beginning to shake slowly. Did he think he really meant it? He wasn't kidding?

"Sure?" I asked. What the hell, I could hit him over the head with a rock once we were passed the main gate and make an escape. Dumbledore did not look convinced, not at all.