How It All Began
Saint Agnes Home For Orphaned Children was a neat little building, quite normal looking in every way. Run by a convent of nuns, the twenty-three children currently living there were good Catholic, god-fearing children. Well, all except one.
Hermione Jane Granger was not a normal girl, and in more ways then one.
She was extremely intelligent for her age; at almost six years old, she could already read a newspaper, had decent handwriting and had conquered enough math to be considered a prodigy. Maybe her intelligence would have been viewed with awe and glorified if she didn't have her other unusual... ability. For as long as she could remember, Hermione had been able to make the impossible happen, like making objects hover in the air and fly across the room with nothing but a glance.
The nuns and the other children feared her and made her life miserable. With already strict punishments in place for the orphans, such as the bamboo canes wielded liberally by all the nuns and the leather strap of the stony-faced Mother Superior, whenever Hermione was caught doing something 'unnatural' the nuns would make her kneel and pray in front of a cross for hours on end or they would lock her in what the children called 'The Black Hole' for days, a small, windowless room without bedding, ventilation or light, going without food and sometimes without water... and the other children were just as vicious.
Living in the oppressive environment of St Agnes, the children had little means of escaping the sense of powerlessness, and one of those means was the bullying of those singled out as 'different'. They'd steal anything she owned, and they'd physically hurt her. She was different. She was a freak, the devil's spawn.
For three long, long years Hermione had lived under the harsh reign of the nuns and their attempts to exorcise the devil from her, the worst being when at age five Sister Bernedice was injured when her 'secret talent' caused a cup to explode and Mother Superior had burned her legs with a red-hot poker.
She used to be a sweet girl who sat on her mother's lap as Dr. Jeanne Granger read Shakespeare aloud to her young daughter, and learned basic arithmetic concepts with her father, Dr. Archidemus Granger. But when she was three years old, her parents had been cruelly torn from her, and she'd been sent to Saint Agnes's- or, as she called it, Hell. To survive, Hermione had had to become clever and cunning, with a side of ruthless, but even that was not enough. Not until the night, at age six, that she decided to take action.
Hermione stared at the shadows dancing across the whitewashed walls of the locked room she was in, with only a thin mattress and a bible, envious of their freedom, though relieved that she was finally in a room with light again, after three whole days in the Black Hole. Her thoughts turned to what got her locked up this latest time- she had, once again, been caught by the nuns doing the secret thing.
The day in question had started normal enough. She had risen with the rest of the orphans, ate her small meal of breakfast then set to work on the chores for the day- she'd been on gardening.
She actually liked the garden, partially because she enjoyed been out of the stifling institution that she had the misfortune to call 'home', but also because she liked making things grow, tending to them lovingly, even though by the end of the day her hands were often raw from tending to the garden without protection for her hands, and either shivering from cold winds or red from the sun.
Hermione let out a low sigh, as she reflected on what had happened that day. She had checked, she had been so careful, but Sister Bernedice, who still nursed a special dislike for her, had caught her doing the secret thing to mend her broken trowel. Which was why she was in a room alone, no one else wanting to share with the freak, her stomach still hurting because she'd yet to be given anything but bread and water, staring at the shadows dance.
God, she hated this place. She hated the stiff grey uniforms, she hated that all the lessons were pathetically easy and yet her intelligence earned her nothing but scorn, she hated the endless hours of praying, she hated the other children, who either ignored her or spited her, and most of all she hated the Sisters. More and more she'd find herself wishing that she had the strength to hurt all of them the way she was hurt.
Hermione took a deep shuddering breath and tried to imagine she was somewhere else, a better place in a kinder time, when she was loved and no one ever hurt her, and once she'd calmed, she turned her attention to the battered watch she'd stolen from one of the other kids, stolen because hers had been ripped off her wrist and stomped on by one of the older girls. She watched the second hand tick and then, at the stroke of midnight, Hermione squeezed her eyes shut, making her birthday wish as she turned six years old.
She wished, with all her heart, that she was free.
And then the padlock, locking her inside the room she had the misfortune of calling her bedroom, floated soundlessly to the floor, meeting the ground with a soft clunk. The door swung open.
Hermione froze for a few seconds, then decided to grant her own wish. She crept out of her room, silently slinking along the wall, hidden in the shadows. She made it to the kitchen safely and then set about getting enough food to at least last a few days- a loaf of bread, a couple bottles of water and a bunch of apples, unable to help her trembling with fear as she thought about what would happen to her if she was caught.
Next making her way to the coatroom, a room where the children were forbidden to go, Hermione found a small satchel into which she placed the food.
And then she used her secret thing to unlock the door of the orphanage and creep out into the dark of the night.
Little Hermione walked for hours until she reached the city of London. Her feet were bruised and blistered, her legs ached and her eyelids were so heavy she could barely see ahead. The first park she found, she curled up under one of the thick bushes and fell into an exhausted sleep.
She slept there for three more nights. It was uncomfortable and cold and on the third night it rained, soaking her to the bone, until she used her secret thing to dry herself again. The food didn't last long and the nights and days stretched on forever. She was dirty and exhausted and starving, but it was still better then Saint Agnes's.
And then, on the fifth day of her new freedom, everything changed. That's when she met Sting.
Sting was a boy and he was ten. He'd also been living on the street for two years. He took her under his wing, introducing her to other homeless, street kids and teaching her how to survive. He taught her how to pick pockets so that they could eat. He taught her how to find the various hidey-holes, like burned out warehouses and vacant lots, how to spot dangers, like the police, and men with eyes that stared too long, too interested. He taught her where the good places to sleep were, and how to fight, both hand to hand and with blades, stealing for her her first switchblade.
It was Sting who told her she needed a street name, and so Hermione Jane Granger became just Jane. And, for the first time in years, Jane was happy.