Finnian (or Finn, as many call him) grew up in a mildly Christian Muggle family in the east side of Seattle, spending most of his time then playing on the waterfront near the Pike Place Market, where his mother sold trinkets during the day as his father helped build and repair ships in the shipyard. He was a happy child and very imaginative, always the leader in the games that he played with the other children. They were fanciful games, about monsters and evil witches and goblins and faeries, and they were all played out in the busy streets of Seattle or on the beach, hiding behind logs of driftwood or brandishing sticks at one another. All of the other boys loved to play with Finnian, because things always seemed to happen around Finnian. Rocks would sail through the air further into the ocean than they should have, lobbed by a seven-year-old's arm. The air would warm mysteriously while they played "Thirst in the Desert," even on the coldest of days. Bruises would mysteriously disappear before suppertime. And strangest of all, though the children seldom noticed it, no one ever seemed to get hurt, despite all of the time the children, namely Finnian, spent darting through streets and playing in the waves. No child around Finnian ever seemed to be taken by the traffic, or whisked away by a sneaker wave.
It took Finnian quite a long time to realize that his powers might be extraordinary. He had always dreamt of being magical, like in the stories his father would tell him at bedtime. Vastly powerful warlocks and horrible dragons and princes and knights, and everything twice.
Most of the time, Finnian could scarcely sleep for the wideness of his imagination. He was nine years old when he first had an inkling that he might be extraordinary. It was something he kept from his parents, a secret, just in case it wasn't true. Had it not been for his love of the theatrical and the telling of stories, Finnian would have been a rather quiet boy, and very secretive.
When he got the letter by owl in his tiny cityhouse kitchen when he was eleven, Finnian was not the least bit surprised. He swelled with pride and ran to tell his father, who was so exuberant that he swooped down on Finnian's mother and kissed her right then and there, exclaiming, "I knew he was bound for more than this!"
Soon afterward, a representative from Salem Institute came and took Finnian out to purchase his wand (Holly, 13 inches, Gryffin feather core. Quite flexible.) and the rest of his school supplies.
It was something that Finnian counted as one of his happiest memories, and uses it still to fuel his Patronus, which manifests as a long-tailed fox.
Being a recent graduate of Salem Institute of Magic, Finnian is tall and lanky with deep brown eyes and mousy hair, with a somewhat boyish face. His main interest at Salem was Charmswork, as well as Transfiguration.
As a child he'd been a dreamer.
Roamed the streets without a care, played down by the docks and on the shore. He hunting clams and playacting at swordfights with bits of driftwood with the other uptown Seattle boys. His demeanor lent itself to storytelling, a faraway glint in his eye as he gazed over Puget Sound, wind in his hair.
He'd gotten more than one slap on the wrist by the nuns in elementary school for it, but that only made the daydreams more vivid: grand adventures punctuated by the ebb and flow of tides and expanded by the imaginations of other boys made Villainy in their image, billowing dark creatures with white caps and round, pale faces.
Finnian was happy to leave Sister Constance and all her disciples behind the day he left for Boston, good riddance.
Good always won in the end, he knew so.
As a student he'd been a dreamer.
He wasn't sure when the transformation took place: perhaps the first day he donned maroon and held a wand-- his own wand-- in his hands, walked through a resplendent show of fall color in the autumn. Seattle was his place but this place was suddenly better, saturated with magic, an open door to a world he'd never known possible.
And he soaked up knowledge like a sponge, clambering for anything and everything he could find on this fantastical world. History was tangible, alchemy possible, and he could work real charms himself and make his textbook fly up into the air and back down into his arms.
There was a girl called Sequoia who told him to call her Flynn instead, so he did, and they were friends after that. She sometimes climbed the drainpipe down onto his balcony and into his room, and they'd stay up all night with crisps and chocolate frogs, sometimes with homework and sometimes without. If Finnian had a best friend ever in his life, surely it was her.
He was a Catholic boy by upbringing but she blurred lines between which rules should be followed and which ones were baloney, and his collar was sufficiently loosened by the time he graduated.
Sister Constance would have been horrified.
And as a graduate he was, still, a dreamer.
He'd left for New York City almost immediately after graduation, determined to make his living as a writer living in a high-rise building above glittering lights and glamorous street scenes. To Flynn he wrote letters, To Flynn from Finn, and sometimes he got letters back.
Writing didn't pay bills but waiting tables did, almost. The days didn't become hungry until time slipped away from the world as a whole-- the Time Warp, the newspapers called it-- and those glittering lights and glamorous streets became darker and dirtier, more dangerous, and he didn't have a home in Seattle to return to for a hot meal or a warm embrace.
It took him six months to realize he'd lost everything, and another two to own up to doing something about it: there was nothing left in New York for him, unless he were to count the tables which needed to be waited, and he didn't count those.
What he had left had elected of her own accord to cross the Atlantic, and one day Finnian Flooed there with a carpetbag of belongings and never went back.
London was a city too, dark as New York was dark, and still dirty; but it was home because he said it was, and made better for a familiar face or two and no tables to wait.
As a starving writer he'd been told by others to write what he knew, but what he knew was whittled down to memories of the halcyon days of childhood and family, framed by the idyll of schooldays and finally the iciness of the penniless days, apartment dripping and quiet. There was a career just beyond his fingertips, he could feel it, if he could only figure how to write what he knew.
It was a friend suggested it, the Prophet. Finn lived in a less-drippy flat in London with a roommate, and Flynn had become less and less herself.
Eroded from the golden days Finnian found himself sprawling in adulthood and scrabbling for footholds, clutching at whatever grazed his fingertips.
He was twenty-four and very tired, and he was a realist.
There was no time for dreaming.