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Chapter 9: Ember Orphanage
Kaitlin always found Christmas to be the hardest time of the year. It was harder to keep up the pretense during the festive holiday than any other time. Perhaps that’s because there were only so many times you could claim your parents were too busy to see you at Christmas before people began to get suspicious.
As it was she was at the Potter’s for Christmas this year. They’d all insisted she come – they hadn’t wanted her spending Christmas alone. Her lies had gotten harder to keep, she felt sure several people were close to figuring out her secret. She didn’t think she could hold onto it for much longer. It was getting too difficult.
The Potter’s had been most welcoming, of course they knew Kaitlin well as she’d spent the last week of summer with them every year since she started Hogwarts.
She always wanted to make a good impression on the Potter’s but as Christmas day was fastly approaching her friend’s didn’t make it easy on her. First there was Albus with his serious expression, taking her aside to discuss the event that happened between them a while ago.
She wished he would let it go but instead he kept asking her about the bruise. She’d had, where she’d got it from and who’d done it to her. He just refused to let sleeping dogs lie and she’d grown so scared of his next interrogation that she’d started to avoid him altogether.
Then there was James who was still outraged that Kaitlin’s parents were too busy to see her at Christmas. Besides that he couldn’t stop complaining about the girl Lily had set him up with – one of three to make it through Lily’s tests.
Kaitlin really didn’t want to hear about James’ love life. Kaitlin loved him so much it hurt, yet he still didn’t realize a thing.
Lastly there was Lily. Lily had always been on Kaitlin’s case as only a best friend can. Kaitlin knew Lily was concerned for her and knew Lily suspected something but she just couldn’t face letting her secret out.
Christmas morning is when it all went wrong. Each of the Potter’s had a large stack of presents by the tree. Even Teddy and Victorie – who were visiting for the holidays – had large piles.
However, Kaitlin only had presents from the Potters. Five presents to be exact, Kaitlin could see James eying her presents with a frown, like he knew what was missing.
‘Where are your other presents?!’ James asked her and everyone else stopped what they were doing to look at her.
Kaitlin kept her head down refusing to look at anyone.
‘You know I don’t think I’ve ever seen you write to your parents’ said Albus.
‘That’s right’ said Lily, ‘We haven’t even met them’.
The questions seemed to come really fast from all directions, ‘Where are your parent’s?’, ‘Why do you spend the holidays at Hogwarts?’, ‘How come we’ve never been to your house?’, ‘Why do you never talk about your home life?’ The questions went on until they became a blur in her head. She couldn’t formulate a lie with all the noise in her head, she couldn’t take it.
‘STOP IT! JUST SHUT UP!!’ she shouted, tears streaming from her eyes as she ran from the room.
Harry Potter glared at his children chastising them for pushing their friend too far, while both Ginny and Teddy disappeared to find the distressed teenager.
Kaitlin was sitting in the room the Potter’s gave her when she stayed and it was there that Ginny and Teddy found her. Her eyes were puffy and red from her tears and as she watched Ginny Potter silence the room she knew everything was over.
Kaitlin let Ginny sat beside her on the bed and rubbed her back in a soothing manner, while Teddy stood off to the side.
‘Hush now’ said Ginny softly, ‘Tell us what’s wrong’.
‘Yeah, you’ve not been happy for ages and we’re worried about you’ added Teddy.
Kaitlin couldn’t believe that after all these years of trying to keep her secret safe she was about to spill the beans.
‘I don’t have any parent’s’ she whispered.
‘Sorry, what did you say?’ Ginny asked confused.
‘I don’t have any parents, I’m an orphan’ said Kaitlin louder this time.
‘Oh sweety’ said Ginny hugging Kaitlin, thinking that was the end of it.
Kaitlin shrugged away from Ginny, not noticing the elder woman’s hurt face. If she was going to tell the whole story she’d do it now – she didn’t want any pity.
‘I live at Ember Orphanage. It’s a muggle Orphanage in London. Until last year I was a paid orphan. That means someone was paying for my keep and I wasn’t allowed to be adopted. Ember Orphanage has never had someone magical, they hated me, and didn’t and me there. When the pay stopped I became like everyone else, I was no longer protected. Albus called me out on it when he saw the bruise on my cheek in September’.
‘I don’t mean to be bad but the Madame who runs the Orphanage thinks I’m the devil. She would kill me if she thought she could get away with it. It’s my fault I know it is. I could have been nicer. No one wants me so I deserve it, that’s what she says’ wailed Kaitlin sinking to the floor in despair.
Ginny looked lost for words, tears glistening in her own eyes, while Teddy felt consumed with anger.
‘She hit you didn’t she, the Madame’ said Teddy.
Kaitlin merely nodded through her cries. Teddy’s knuckles turned white with the force he was holding within.
‘Teddy go get Harry, McGonagall and floo to the Ministry’ said Ginny and Teddy was gone in a flash. Ginny then asked Victorie to take the others to Molly’s, as she knew Kaitlin didn’t need their presence now. When Victorie returned Ginny told her of Kaitlin’s revelation and she listened intently her eyes taking on the same glow that Teddy’s had.
With the fall of Voldemort and everything that had been done to improve the Wizarding world, it was scandalous to hear that things like this were still going on. Having all but eradicated the notions of blood supremacy within the Wizarding world, no one had stopped to think of what it would be like for a muggle witch or wizard not be accepted by fellow muggles.
Teddy, Harry and McGonagall had returned in a flash, forms in hand. The Potters were wondering if the idea Teddy and Victorie had was the right way to go but as Teddy pointed out, Harry had been a saving grace in his life and if Teddy could offer the same love, warmth and protection to another, then shouldn’t he do it.
When Ginny asked Kaitlin if she could direct them all to Ember Orphanage, Kaitlin didn’t know what to think. She wondered if they’d had enough of her tears and had decided to take her back. However, the Potter’s had been so kind to her – how could she refuse their request.
So it was that the group set off for Ember Orphanage, reaching it in a quicker time than it took Kaitlin to reach Kings Cross Station. Upon arrival Kaitlin visibly shrunk back, this was somewhere that held only nightmares for her. It was a shock for everyone present to see the usually happy polite girl so withdrawn and pale. No one deserves to feel like that. The group looked imposing as they walked towards Madame’s office.
They blasted open the door – no need for secrecy here, they wanted the woman to feel fear.
‘What’s going on?’ she coughed, ‘How dare you! Who are you? You’ll be paying for that damage!’ she screeched.
‘Oh do shut up!’ said McGonagall.
The woman gaped unattractively like a goldfish, then she spotted Kaitlin.
‘What are you doing here?’ she growled, ‘Landed yourself in trouble have you. No one will save you now you disgusting waste of space’ she spat.
‘Don’t talk to her like that!’ said Ginny.
‘Who are you?’
We’re the people that want to adopt Kaitlin’.
‘What all of you?’ she shrieked.
‘Actually just us’ said Teddy pointing to himself and Victorie.
‘And why should I hand over the little vermin to you?!’ she asked.
‘Because you have no choice’ said Teddy.
‘And expect a police visit tomorrow’ said Harry.
‘I’d be surprised if you didn’t go to prison for a long, long time’ added Ginny.
The woman paled, ‘Where do I sign?’
‘Here, here and here’ said Teddy pointing to different sections on the form.
It was over in a matter of seconds, all the terrible years spent there seemed far away. Teddy and Victorie took Kaitlin into their arms and hugged her tight; it was like a perfect happy ending. The physical side was done and dusted. Now was the time for Kaitlin’s emotional side to heal, that and to tell her friend’s the truth, oh and make James release that he loved her as well. Oh well the last one was a bit of a stretch but hey, she could dream right?!