Brody and Vanessa met during Canada's winter, both ending up at the same cabin with the owner accidentally overbooking it without realising. Seeing as both went alone, neither of them complained. They didn't see each other again after that one week but it was enough to conceive Cleo. Vanessa didn't realise until three months later but they'd agreed they'd keep their fling during that week, not contact each other, so she had no phone number to call, not even a last name. Both her parents were dead but they'd left enough for her after they died that she could use to help raise a child. It was enough to allow her to live without working for a few years at least, plus another few years on the money she had saved herself. Living in Toronto, she gave birth to Cleo and for a few years, everything was alright. It was those two against the world. Cleo was a smart, inquisitive child and her mother encouraged this mentality. It wasn't until Vanessa married John that everything began to change.
In only two years of their marriage, when Cleo was six, did John's behaviour began to change. At first it was gradual, whenever he and Vanessa argued, he'd get a bit rough, yell louder than necessary, small habits that Vanessa was willing to overlook but as months, years, went by it got worse and worse until both girls knew not to cross his temper. Cleo was accustomed to hiding in closets whenever she'd even get the hint of the raise of her step-father's voice. Generally, though, Cleo was never touched, save for maybe her own nails digging into her own skin. Later, when John would leave for the local pub to get drunk, her mother, often bruised, would retrieve her daughter. Of course, her mother tried to leave, multiple times but she grew too scared. Plus, John had control over all their finances anyway. Still, the one thing Cleo loved was school. Still having that curious nature, Cleo was the top of her class and often went above and beyond for what was expected of her.
When she was nine, she had her first magic incident. She was alone in her room, her mother cooking dinner, her step father still out at work. She'd accidentally cut off a chunk of her hair by accident, only just messing around really. However, she'd found it had grown back in a few moments when she began to become hysterical over it. She never said anything, in belief no one would believe her. When she was ten, her mother decided enough was enough. John had put a hand on Cleo. The final straw for Vanessa, through the next three days, she'd began to secretly pack clothes, and when John came home drunk, she got Cleo and left. Making a large withdrawal of her funds, she used it to move the two of them to London, making sure they left no traces back to Canada. In London, she worked as a waitress at three restaurants, with Cleo going to a public school.
Cleo was happy in London, beginning to blossom and feel safe. It was during this period did she receive her Hogwarts letter. At first, both of them were skeptical with Vanessa skeptical enough that she was slightly unwilling to let go of Cleo. Though, this might be under the belief that she was scared her child would be in danger again. However, she began to realise she couldn't hold her own child back due to her own insecurities. Now, Cleo is gearing up to be sent to the school. She's excited, though, for the simple reason that she has the opportunity to explore a whole new world and have a future she never dreamed of having.