I stepped through the seemingly solid brick wall onto the very familiar Platform 9 ¾. The smell of burning coal and hundreds of bodies packed together met my nostrils and I could not help but inhale deeply. Some might think the scent was disgusting, but it always reminded me of home. It was the most comforting smell in the world.
I felt someone collide painfully with me as they too stepped through the portal and the same person cursed loudly a moment later as they were followed by the rest of their family.
“Get out of the way, Rose,” my father’s gruff voice snarled as he dusted himself off impatiently. “We don’t have time for your dawdling today.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled, grabbing the handle on the side of my trunk and dragging it behind me as I walked away from my family.
It was always like this. Even when I was leaving for school and I wouldn’t see him for nearly four months he was acting like a jerk. Sighing, I turned to look for Albus and James. They were some of my best friends, despite the fact that we were cousins. At school, Al and I were nearly inseparable and were joined by James during meals and Quidditch games and practices. Sure, I had other friends, and got along pretty well with most of the girls in my dormitory, but there wasn’t anyone specific who I would call my best friend.
Finally I spotted Al’s messy raven hair through the mist and headed towards the end of the train, elbowing people out of the way as I went. “Al! James!” I cried, waving my hands above my head.
“Rose!” Al yelled, jerking me by the arm through the last throng of people and into his arms. “It's good to see you!”
“It’s good to see you too!” I smiled, giving my cousin a hug. He always smelled so wonderful – like the lavender soap Aunt Ginny used and some sort of musky cologne.
“How was your summer?” James asked, coming over and clapping me roughly on the shoulder.
“Same as always,” I answered somewhere between a grimace and a sigh.
“I’m sorry, Rosie,” Albus soothed, stroking my long auburn hair affectionately.
“Rose!” My father’s voice barked suddenly. “You can’t just run off like that!”
“Dad, I’m sixteen. I think I can handle myself in a group of people.”
“What do you think I am, stupid?” he hissed venomously, pulling me from Al’s arms to stand in front of him.
“No, I think you have issues,” I replied just as venomously.
“Rose Nymphadora Weasley, I will not be talked to like that,” he yelled, making several people turn to stare at us. My dad grinned sheepishly at them and then turned back to where I was standing in front of him. His grip tightened around my wrist and I could feel my fingers starting to lose feeling.
“Let go of my wrist,” I snarled, trying to sound as confident as I could while on the inside I was shaking like a leaf.
“Ron,” my mother’s voice called from behind him and he released his grip instantly. “Here you guys are. I was helping Hugo get his trunk onto the train. What’s going on?”
She eyed us suspiciously, her eyes landing on my hand which was slowly returning to its normal ivory color. Her chocolate colored eyes narrowed and she glared at Dad.
“Ronald,” she began her tone of voice dangerous. “What did you do?”
“Leave it be, Hermione,” he replied, his voice just as dangerous. “It’s none of your business.”
“None of my business?” she cried indignantly. “The welfare of my daughter is none of my business?”
I groaned inwardly, and moved to step in between my parents before my mother had time to draw her wand. It was like this most of the time. But right now we were in public and were supposed to be a “model” family – whatever the hell that meant. Dysfunctional was more the word I would use.
“Please think about where we are right now,” I whispered as I moved in between the two. My mother automatically removed her hand from her pocket and smoothed out her hair while my father straightened his tie and cleared his throat anxiously.
“Thank you, Rose,” my mother said stiffly, turning to look sympathetically at me.
“It’s not a problem,” I answered robotically, while the little voice at the back of my head screamed that it really was a problem, and that they should act like adults for once in their lives.
The two minute warning whistle sounded from the engine of the train and everyone around us scrambled to get their children, pets, and belongings onto the train. Sobbing mothers hugged their babies goodbye with promises to write often and soon and kids of every age were literally hanging out the window to get one last glance of their family before being whisked away to Hogwarts.
“I guess I should be going now. The trains going to leave soon,” I said voice empty of any emotion.
“I guess you should,” my mother responded sadly. “I’m going to miss you Rosebud.”
“I’ll miss you too, Mom,” I said affectionately, enveloping her in a big hug. I felt her press a few teary kisses on my temple before she released me.
“You have a good year. Study hard. And try to behave yourself, you hear,” she chuckled, wiping a tear from her eye.
“I will, Mom,” I said, wiping a tear from my eye.
“I love you, Rose.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
We hugged one last time and I planted a soft kiss on her slightly wrinkled cheek before she released me. Slowly, I turned to my dad who was waiting to say his own goodbyes.
“Have a good year Rose. We’ll see you at Christmas,” he said coldly, pulling me into his chest roughly and patting me on the back awkwardly. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I said more by habit than by meaning. “See you guys at Christmas.”
The whistle blew again and I grabbed my trunk. Putting on a fake smile I glanced again at both of my parents and ran towards the train. I reached the last door just as the steamer started pulling off. Parents and children screamed goodbyes as I shoved my trunk aboard with all my strength and jumped aboard with a hand from a Seventh year who happened to be holding the door open.
When I was safely on board the train and the door was closed, I turned to take one last look at the platform before it disappeared completely from sight. A plethora of people were standing on the concrete, including Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry, Uncle George, Uncle Percy and his wife Penelope, and even my grandparents on my dad’s side. Out of curiosity I scanned the end of the platform for my own parents but they were already gone.
I felt my anger bubble up in my stomach again, but I forced the lump in my throat back down and told myself not to cry. They had been disappointing me my entire life. Why should I expect anything different now? Sighing, I dragged my trunk to the fifth carriage from the last. It was one of those unsaid rules of Hogwarts – the Gryffindor Quidditch team always got the fifth compartment from the end of the train.
“Hey guys,” I chirped as happily as I could, pulling open the sliding glass door to reveal the tangle of limbs that was my friends.
“Rosie!” was the collective cry before I was smothered by six pairs of arms all trying to hug me at the same time.
“Can’t – breath” I choked out and they all fell back into the seats laughing. I heaved my trunk up into the storage bin and then squashed myself in between Al and Jason, a blonde haired, blue eyed fellow Sixth Year from Australia, who had moved here with his mother a few years ago.
“Rose, your hair has gotten even longer over the summer! How are you going to play with it so long?” Kat Finnegan asked, twirling a piece of her brown feathered bangs around her finger and subtly batting her eyelashes at Jason.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” James chuckled, looking up from the newest edition of The Quibbler. “Rosie, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to cut it soon. I’m afraid that it’s going to get caught in your broom or that the Slytherins will pull it or something.”
“James,” I sighed, snatching the magazine from his hands, “can we talk about this later? I’d rather catch up with you all before we start talking strategy.”
“Fine, little-miss-rude. But don’t think I won’t kick you off the team just because I’m your cousin. I’d do it you know.”
“No you won’t,” a stern, clearly American accented voice said from near the window. I turned to see the long black hair of my best female friend sway unhappily as she turned to look at James. “She’s one of the best chasers we’ve got. And you hate tryouts.”
“That I do, babe,” James said, waggling his eyebrows at her in such a way that his namesakes would have been proud.
“Don’t call me babe,” she snarled, her blue eyes turning an icy gray.
“Relax, Reagan. I can call you whatever I want,” James chuckled, his own brown eyes glinting mischeviously. “I am the captain now.”
“There’s no need to keep flaunting that,” a quieter voice said from in the corner. Everyone turned from their own conversations or various articles of reading material to look at Ben, who had been playing a very violent, by the looks of it, game of Wizard’s Chess with Reagan until she and James had gotten into it again.
Ben was Uncle Charlie’s only child, and son, and was the same age as James now. I could tell he was disappointed by not getting the spot as captain – everyone had thought it would have been him. McGonnagal positively adored him; he got excellent grades, had only gotten a few dozen detentions in his entire school career, and was probably the most responsible and most mild mannered of the entire team.
“What, do you want me to just give up the title?” James snarled, and I sat back in my seat in shock. I had never heard James use that tone of voice with anyone.
“No,” Ben replied, his voice filled with just as much venom, “I just asked that you stop rubbing it in our faces is all.”
“I am not rubbing it in, I’m only stating a fact-“
“You are, James! You’re an inconsiderate prat who deserves to be –“
“SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!”
In an instant the entire compartment went so silent I was sure I could hear the people in the next carraige talking about the first meeting of the Gobstones Club. Everyone turned to look at Albus who was on his feet, panting hard from yelling, and looking murderous.
“The two of you are bloody insane. You’ve been going at it all summer since you found out who got captain, and it’s driving me mad. James, stop reminding us all that you’re captain. WE KNOW! And Ben, stop taking it so personally. James is a bloody wanker who needs to be knocked from his pedastal, but right now is not the proper time.”
The compartment got quiet again as Al sat down again and I could not help but let out a small giggle. Next to me Jason was biting his fist in a futile attempt to curb his oncoming laughter and Kat rocked silently from side to side.
“What is so bloody funny?” Al asked sharply.
“It’s just nice to be home,” I chuckled, laying my head on my cousin’s shoulder.
A/N: So this is the first chapter in a my new series. I know things seem a little vague, but it's just what I would call a prologue. We'll get to know the characters better in the first chapter. Tell me what you think of the chapter in a review (please :-P). Thanks for reading!