Title: Inside the Box
Age-Range Category: One
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Eileen Prince, Tobias Snape, Severus Snape
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Summary: Eileen thinks the boxes mean safety.
She listens to the nurse describe each of the items in the box and how to use them. Safety. The box means the child will be safe. In her world that's important. Nothing is safe anymore, away from her own people and the ways she's used to doing things. The box will ensure the child's safety, though.
"Of course, you know that the box is no guarantee. It's what we're teaching you about your baby that will make him or her safer."
She nods but secretly she doesn't agree. She only has to acquiesce on the outside. Still, she learns about all the scraps of material that are in this box. As much as possible, the child needs to fit in with the neighborhood. So she plays with the zippers on the sleepers, she learns how to tie the undershirts, and studies the nappies. She can make all of those things work. She reads the instructions with the counsellor, and sees how to make the eating potion for the baby from common pantry staples... "formula," the woman calls it. Finally they get down to the most important part, the reason she wanted this box: the bedding in the bottom.
Using this box she can put the child to sleep in her potions room in the basement. There, he will be safe. The fool will never look there; truth be told, he might be a bit frightened of her space. The mattress and blanket will keep the child comfortable, and the fool might forget the child's existence if she does things right.
She takes the box home and puts it in the basement just before the whistle at the mill blows. She has enough time to warm up the stew before the fool gets home. If he succeeds in bumming some money from the pub from his mates, she'll have hours.
It was a box of sorts that got her into this mess, a mesmerizing speeding box of metal and rubber that went past the lane where she lived in a home that had seen better days along with a family that also had seen better days. He had slowed down and opened one side. "Hop in," he had said. Amazed by his machine, she hopped, the door shut, and off they sped.
He went down another country lane and stopped the box. The proper name was "car," he told her. She traced the wood and leather as he explained all sorts of things about torque and horsepower and other words that never in her life would have meaning to her but somehow she would never forget. All the while, he edged across the seat until she was entirely boxed in.
A month and a half later, it became clear what had happened. There was a desperate search for the man, who turned out to have been a fool who had stolen the car he used to seduce her. He was actually a mill worker barely able to cover his own costs. After forcing the marriage, because she was still their daughter and they didn't want her complexly uncared for, her family disowned her. She found a local woman who sold various remedies and made herself useful in the potions room she had made in the basement. The strange-looking money that brought in kept the rent up and put enough food on the table to satisfy the fool.
After a few more arrangements are finalized, her time comes upon her. The fool has no idea what to do. Perhaps he would have if he was sober, but it has happened upon payday. Somehow she slips away to the hospital where the nurse pats her arm and finds her a bed to rest on, in between the pains that keep coming despite her victory over each one.
The child is growing. He can pull himself up onto arms and legs now, and rolls over at will. He has an uncanny way of looking into her eyes as though he knows what she's thinking. Perhaps it's this feature of him that makes the fool hastily put him down so quickly, muttering that the kid isn't right. The nurse says he's lovely, though, growing and meeting all of the milestones, as she calls them.
The box won't work anymore, though, and there's no place to put a proper cot. She finds a breakfront at a secondhand store; she has just enough of her potions income saved up to purchase it and pay a man to wrestle it into her potions room. The bottom drawer is enormous. She can pad it and make it into a bed for him. He'll sleep soundly down there for years, and during the day they can simply shut the drawer tight.
She knew that eventually the breakfront would fail her, too. The child has grown again, his head wedged into a corner of the drawer while his feet extend above the opposite corner. Something else will have to be done.
The pantry closet in the kitchen is essentially empty. They never have much extra food in the house; what they do have is easily kept in the cupboard over the sink, next to the one that holds their slim amount of crockery. It's less safe, but she feels it's the best option. The fool rarely goes into the kitchen, and she can teach the boy a simple spell for locking a door at night. It's only another year and a half until the Hogwarts letter. Pray the fates will allow him a scholarship. If not, she will have to go to her family--those horrid children of her uncle--and beg that the skill he already shows not be wasted.
He looks around the dormitory and nods to himself. So far he's done everything correctly, except his dearest desire is in another house. He's a bit overwhelmed by the largeness of everything. The Great Hall nearly swallowed him whole tonight, and he's used to his smaller space at night time. Upon climbing on his bed and pulling the drapes he realizes that he's alone in a spot no one else can breach. He's safe, and in some spot within his soul he realizes he finally has something he never had much of at Spinner's End: room to grow.