"Wake up sleepy head."
Nanny 1 of 3 cooed, her voice chipper and sing-song but still inexplicably chilling and hollow. "It's your birthday today. One whole year."
. The baby with the tousle of jet black hair fought to stay asleep. Even at this young age day to day life was unappealing, not worth waking up for. When he finally awoke, held carefully in the stick-thin arms of Nanny 1 of 3, and was dressed in the usual stark white outfit, the day began.
Despite it being "one whole year" since his birth into the world, today would be like any other day. He couldn't comprehend a birthday, or a party. So naturally nobody bothered throwing one. As the years went on he wouldn't even be able to comprehend a day, a week, a year as anything more than concepts that he had to learn to perhaps one day function in the world. His comprehension of days and nights were just endless cycles of sleep and awake. Indeed the only way he knew a year had passed was when Nanny 1 of 3 would wake him with her birthday greeting.
Throughout his developmental years nothing changed. The hands and eyes and voices of his everchanging nannies were all so cold. His environment was sterile and stark. It was not lived in, for this was no life. There were no crumbs in the carpet. No cookie smell wafting from the kitchen. No grass stains on the flawless white onesie that became white trousers and tee as he grew. Truly, he never had the chance to feel grass. To feel the warm rays of sunshine on his face. To have the wind whip through his hair. He only existed, within the confines of his home. Of his prison.
Until one day, a letter came. He wasn't sure how it got there. He didn't have any windows, and the only door was the one into and out of his bedroom, and then of course the bathroom. His Nannies always seemed to appear and disappear out of thin air. One minute Nanny 1 of 3 was there, the next Nanny 2 of 3 was taking over where she left off.
By his count it was his 11th birthday, 6 times past the last time Nanny 1 of 3 stopped telling him which one it was. What was so special about the number 11? Racking his brain he began to recite all the important things he had learned from Nanny 2 of 3, his tutor, about the number 11. "In a deck of Tarot, card number 11 is 'Justice'. Footy, cricket, American football and field hockey are all played with teams of 11 players on the field. In Biblical Scripture Jesus had Eleven Apostles. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In Chemistry, the element of Sodium has the Atomic Number 11."
He continued to rattle off things about the number, pacing in the parlor and debating whether he should pick the letter up. He had never seen an envelope like that before. He only ever saw manila packets with forms about his growth and surveys on how he was feeling that day and tests on what he had learned. He felt another surge of 11s facts coming on just as the tell-tale sound of footsteps from Nanny 2 of 3 were heard down the hall. He grabbed the envelope and raced to the bathroom, feeling as if he might be sick from interrupting his recitations. He sat on the edge of the bathtub and peered down at the envelope with emerald green, shimmering scrawl.
To Mr. Connell S. Kendrick
Secret Research Facility
Which Looks Like A Bread Factory
But Is Really Housing A Child
Used For Psychological Testing
130 Portland Street
If he felt sick before, he knew he was sick now. After lifting the lid of the commode and hurling the contents of his stomach into the bowl he got the nerve to open the envelope and read the letter inside. He had superpowers - no, magic powers...magic. A wizard. But wizards didn't exist. Magic didn't exist. There were no facts in his studies that would have ever led him to believe they did exist. So why was this letter here? How was this letter here? And why did it say what it did on the address? Was he an experiment? Was his life a lie after all? Eleven years of existing and going through the motions had led to this. What was he supposed to do? The letter said to leave from Kings Cross Station in London. He had seen maps, and knew of the outside world, but he didn't know the first thing about how to get about in it. He didn't even know how to leave his house.
His overactive brain continued to raise questions that he had no way of finding the answer to, and it began to give him a migraine. This was far too much to take in at once. He had been raised in a structured, ordered, and now apparently false environment. He felt even less human than he ever had. Nanny 2 of 3 found him passed out in the bathtub. When he awoke the next morning, somehow tucked into bed, the letter was nowhere to be found. For the first time in his life he was truly angry. He had something to fight for. A reason to resist the routine. The routine was safe and familiar, but there was something more out there for him. For weeks he refused to follow orders. He fought as hard as he could against Nannies 1, 2, and 3 of 3.
His privileges were revoked. No more studying Geography. No more studying history. No more social studies. No more psychology. No more reading for pleasure. If he asked to read about it he was refused. Eventually he was left with math and engineering for his summer studies. If anymore letters came he didn't know about them. He felt his resolve slipping, stopped keeping track of the days. Fell back into his routine. Gave up. Did nothing. And they took their notes. Kept their smiles glued eerily in place.
In the dead of night a different they came. Who, he couldn't be certain. But they found him. Many wore masks and spoke in hushed tones, standing around his bed. Nanny 3 of 3 slept down the hall, oblivious to the intruders. And Connell was too terrified to speak. He had never seen anyone aside from the Nannies. And he hoped they would stick around, despite how utterly terrifying the were to have suddenly appeared in his bedroom.
A broad shouldered man in navy stood off in the corner of the room, shaking his head and talking to a man in black. He left the room with a man in burnt sienna, like the crayon Connell liked the most, and from their footsteps he could tell they were heading to the Nanny's bedroom. He felt he should warn her, but couldn't find his voice. A woman in black approached the bed, a finger to her lips. That gesture it meant......shhh he made the connection. It always took him a minute with social clues like that, since he didn't have much experience in practicing them. He nodded silently, his blue eyes wide with a mix of fright and excitement.
A screech echoed suddenly from down the hall, "NOW!" yelled the man in black. The woman tossed him a baseball. He caught it, and barely had time to revel in the feel of it - all leather and bumpy thread just how he imagined - before his navel was thrust abruptly out and up. He tried to scream as a blinding flash of light and color filled his vision, all the more startling coming out of his dark room, but no sound escaped as he clenched his eyes tightly shut.
He landed with a thud, still gripping the baseball, on the dirty wooden floor of yet another dimly lit room. But it was as if he had been transported back in time compared to the sleekly modern chrome and white environment he was used to. Oil sconces shone the only light for him to see by. None of the people who had...rescued him were to be found. A note was pinned to the bed addressed to him, along with another envelope same as before.
To Mr. Connell S. Kendrick
Room Number 4
The Leaky Cauldron
0001 Diagon Alley
The letter included a detailed account of all that the apparent Headmaster knew of Connell's life. It angered the boy, to be so clueless and to have someone know more about him than he knew about himself. He read a little of the letter at a time, taking breaks for meals delivered to his room by the skittish barkeep, and to let the details sink in.
He had been conceived on purpose, but not in the way most parents set out to do such a thing. His father, the man in navy, had been drugged by some lunatic psychiatrist hell bent on experimenting with whatever kid she could get out of a union with him.She was curious about Squib theory - whatever that was - and wanted to raise a magical child in a controlled environment to see if he exhibited signs of magic naturally.
However, Bruce told him, the environment he was in was not at all natural no conducive to proving or disproving her theories. His lack of emotion or stimulation hindered his ability to show his powers. It was only after Bruce sent the initial letter, and Connell began to fight back, that vases exploded or he found the strength to wrestle his way out of his Nannies' grasps.
When his "mother" found out about the letter from Nanny 2 of 3 she demanded that the restrictions be put into place to further test the theory and return to the controlled state, since she had seen what the variables would do. Chances were she was pretty pissed off now that her experiment had been stolen right from under her most dedicated servant's nose.
His father, who wished to remain nameless, had asked that Bruce step in as godfather and he had accepted the task, knowing he could keep an eye on him while Connell was at Hogwarts - of which his attendance was mandatory. If nothing else in obligation to Headmaster Wayne for staging his rescue and keeping tabs on him after all this time.
An elderly man and a kid around Connell's age arrived shortly after breakfast the next morning. They were going school shopping and Bruce - the kid's guardian as well, it would seem - had asked them to stop by and take him with them. The closest thing he had ever had to a friend was first found in the charismatic and brainy Richard Grayson. And it has somehow lasted to this day, despite their being placed in separate houses at school.
The Sorting Hat took longer than usual with him. There were too many thoughts, brand new pieces of information, and a confusing state overall with him. I normally place students based on their personality it crowed in his mind, as he ground his teeth in frustration at the invasion But it would seem you don't have one. You are a determined little fellow, with bravery in your heart. And I see you going on to do great things if you manage to resist the darkness I see here in your mind. Better not take any chances. It'll have to be "GRYFFINDOR." the hat cried, with an eruption of applause from a table of scarlet and gold.
They were all smiles and he mimicked the expression, joining them and shrugging to Dick across the hall where he sat with the Hufflepuffs who seemed determined to hug him to death and anxious for the food to arrive. And arrive it did - by what else, magic.
It's been six and a half years since his fresh start and sometimes he still can't believe it's real. He still has moments where he gets mixed up or recites trivial facts. And he's not the most talkative of guys. But he's happy just sitting on the sidelines and being thankful for all that he has. Sometimes he can get a little down in the dumps, and he's famous for his moodiness and especially his temper. He's got a short fuse and has to make himself leave the room and calm down rather than be able to address the problem rationally in real time. But he's working on all of that. It's a learning process and there are gonna be growing pains.
To combat the bad memories and the bad attitude that has followed him into almost adulthood, every day Connell is tries to appreciate the little things. Every day he tries to do something different, and break out of his shell. The rigidity of the class schedules is safe and comforting, but also terrifying because it reminds him of what his life used to be. Thankfully the mixture of pure joy and anxiety every time the staircases change keeps him on his toes. ;3