When Victor had been five, he’d asked his governess, Miss Horrocks, what exactly a family was. Miss Horrocks had explained that a family was a group of people who were related and who generally lived together. “You and your mother and your father are a family,” she’d said.
“But you and Barry and Mayhew live here with us as well,” Victor had replied. “Aren’t you part of our family?”
“Certainly not,” Miss Horrocks had said, almost too quickly. “We’re not related. You can only be family if you’re related, Victor.”
“But I like you. Why can’t you be family?”
“That’s just not how it works, Victor. Liking someone does not make them family. Family is who you came from – your blood. People whom you like are just friends. You cannot make someone family – except by marriage, of course, but we’ll talk about that much later. Now, let us continue your lessons.”
And that had been the end of it. That was what Victor knew for the next fourteen years of his life – family was who you were related to. Not necessarily who you liked. (Not that he would ever admit to not liking his parents, but – but he was reasonably certain at times they didn’t like him very much.) And there was absolutely no way to change that.
Then he’d gotten his foot caught in the ladder of a flying steam train and been dragged off to Secundus. And met Marty and Doc and Alice and scores of other people. People who liked him, who accepted him, who did their level best to make him happy. People who genuinely seemed to care about him, more than his mother and father – his family – ever had.
And that was when he decided Miss Horrocks had been wrong. Family was so much more than blood, than merely being related. Family was who you could depend on, who you could be sure would stand at your back. Who you loved.
That’s why he stayed in Secundus, he realized later. Because when he’d met Doc and Marty – he’d somehow instinctively known he was meeting the first members of his real family.