(TW for spousal abuse and self-injury)
Brinley was born into a highly wealthy, pureblood family in England, the only son and heir of Abraham and Carlotta Grisham. Abraham was an unspeakable at the ministry of magic, a dark and mysterious career that Brinley was always intrigued by. Carlotta, on the other hand, was a socialite, away from the home more often than she was there, leaving Brinley to be raised, for the most-part, by the family’s pair of elderly house-elves, Stumpy and Diddy.
As a young child, Brinley was unaware of the politics that lay the foundation for his home life. He was unaware, for example, that his parents’ marriage was an arranged one, deemed necessary by Carlotta’s supremacist parents, who would not have included her in the family inheritance if she had married anyone else. He was equally unaware of the fact that his father was an abusive sort, a male chauvinist who saw it as his given right to beat his wife if she didn’t perform as expected, or that the reason Carlotta spent more time away from home than in it was out of fear of her husband. What Brinley was aware of was that his mum was rarely home, and when she was home it was with a class of sherry in hand and a vacant expression on her face. He grew up certain that his mother neither loved nor cared for him, and that his father--distant, but smart and prestigious and brave--was the type of man he should aspire to be. As a result, Brinley threw himself into his studies, determined to be just as intelligent and prestigious as his father. He had an especial fondness for potions, and by the age of five was a regular subscriber to three different quarterly potions journals.
Brinley was ten years old when his father passed away--an accident at work, the details never fully disclosed to the family. Brinley was distraught. His mother was relieved, and perhaps as a result--or perhaps because she never had gotten to know Brinley well--she offered him little in the way of comfort. By that time her parents were dead and she, already the heiress to the Castellano fortune, was finally free to live her life as she wanted to. She spent no more time home than she had before Abraham’s death, and if, in the time she was home, she was happier than before, it was no comfort to her son.
Brinley turned inward in his grief, and he turned angry. He began self-injuring, marks he hid with long-sleeves and bitterness. By the time he started at Hogwarts at eleven, he was master of keeping to himself. He avoided friendships, instead throwing himself into his studies. When the letter came from his mother informing him that he had a new stepfather and two new sisters, he didn’t bother to reply. Instead, he set fire to his four-poster and spent a week in detention--a childish lark, the professors thought, and nothing worth writing home about.
And then Brinley was sent home for the summer, except it wasn’t his home. His mother and stepfather had purchased a new manor together. He suddenly had two step-sisters to contend with, neither of whom he connected with. And his mother had dismissed the house-elves--freed them, at her new husband’s request. She couldn’t understand Brinley’s upset at that, but in Brinley’s mind it was just one more loss in a list of losses--the only friends he’d ever had, and the only creatures who had ever actually seemed to care for him, no longer around.
The incident occured one day while Brinley’s mother and stepfather were out of the house. Adelle, fourteen, had been left in charge of Brinley and Fiona. Brinley was in his bedroom, in the attic. He had just started self-injuring when the door burst open and Fiona skipped in. She didn’t mean to impeach on his privacy--and, in truth, at seven, she didn’t entirely understand what she saw. But Brinley, embarrassed and scared and angry, lashed out, screaming for her to get out of the room and pushing her.
He didn’t mean to push her down the stairs. He didn’t even think about it. And when he saw her flying backwards, he regretted things instantly, dropping his knife at his feet in favor of rushing towards her.
She broke an arm in the fall--nothing life-threatening, but enough of an injury for a hospital visit. Brinley hated himself for it. He apologized to her, and he apologized to her dad. But all Carlotta saw when she looked at her son was her late husband--angry, abusive, and only sorry when it was too late. It didn’t help that he wouldn’t explain why he’d shoved Fiona. Left to draw her own conclusions about it, Carlotta determined that he thought himself better than a halfblood female, as his father would have. She determined that she’d already failed him--that he was a carbon copy of his father before him--and that he was a danger to the household.
As a result, she sent him to live with his uncle--her brother--in Melbourne. Waylon was a squib, and had moved to Australia as a teenager to escape bigoted parents to whom his lack of magic was one shame, and his sexuality another. He married young, and he and his husband lived in an apartment above a clothing shop they ran together where they sold items of both muggle and wizarding fashion.
It was more than a bit of a change for Brinley. Though his mother sent a substantial stipend to Waylon and Edmund as recompense for taking Brinley in--and though both men were plenty kind to Brinley--he found himself living in a two bedroom flat above a store, a far cry from the manor life he’d grown up on. Worse than that, for the eleven-year-old, was the time change, which meant that, though in England summer vacation had just begun, in Australia they were only halfway through the school year. He had precisely a week to meet his uncles and settle into his room, and then he was sent to school, to complete the second half of first year again. It was like being held back, or sent to summer school, and it was all but unbearable.