Chapter 3 : On the Platform
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Ron nervously shifted from foot to foot as he watched his older brothers cross through the barrier to Platform 9 ¾. He couldn’t wait to get through himself and start looking for Harry Potter. The twins had been teasing him endlessly for weeks, but he didn’t care. He was finally going to meet his hero.
His eyes were darting back and forth when a scrawny boy with black hair, glasses, and oversized Muggle clothes approached them, asking for help with getting onto the platform. The boy seemed as nervous as Ron did, so Ron gave him his best attempt at a smile, though he felt like he was going to be sick from the combination of excitement and apprehension. Closing his eyes, Ron steeled his nerves and followed the other boy through the barrier. This was it. Harry Potter himself would be on the other side of this barrier, and Ron was determined to meet him.
As he exited out the other side, Ron did his best to scan the crowd, but it was hard to see much of anything with the billowing smoke and large amount of people. He suddenly felt very small. How would he ever find Harry Potter in all this? And even if he did, what could the boy who lived ever see in someone as ordinary as Ron? Feeling disheartened, and unable to spot any of his brothers, he hung back to wait for his mum.
“There you are, dear,” Mrs. Weasley called, emerging from the smoke with Ginny in tow. She looked slightly frantic, but her face softened as she spotted the anxious expression Ron was wearing. “It’s normal to be a little nervous your first year, Ronnie. Just don’t get involved in any of Fred and George’s mischief and you’ll do just fine.” She swept him up in a hug, and Ron decided not to correct her. Truth be told, he wasn’t nervous about Hogwarts at all. From everything his brothers had told him, it seemed like one of the greatest places on earth: living in a dorm with your mates, house elves to cook and clean, Quidditch, what could be better? Sure, there were some classes too, and homework, but he could deal with that in exchange for all of the good things. “No matter where you’re sorted,” Mrs. Weasley continued, “Dad and I will be proud of you.”
Sorting…right. That was another story. For the first time, Ron's thoughts were pulled away from the Great Harry Potter search. Both sides of his entire family had been Gryffindors for generations. What if he was the one to break the streak? What if he wound up a Hufflepuff, or worse, a Slytherin? He was glad when the twins reappeared, thinking it would take his mum’s attention off of him, but he was mistaken. Without warning, she leaned over and began attacking him with her handkerchief, mumbling something about how he had some dirt on his nose. Ron jerked away quickly, scrambling to free himself. He couldn’t believe that she would do something like that to him, here, in public. Harry could even be watching! As the twins taunted his obvious discomfort, Ron quickly glanced around again, trying to see if anyone outside of his family had spotted his scene of embarrassment.
“Shut up,” he muttered, feeling his ears burning red. As Percy approached, already dressed in his school robes, the twins switched to mocking him, and Ron was able to resume his scanning of the platform. He didn’t have much hope, though. If Harry were here, Ron would have heard about it by now. There would be whispers and a crowd gathered round, but there was nothing like that. Where could he be? Was it possible that Harry had his own personal way of getting to Hogwarts? Or maybe he was so advanced that he didn’t even need to attend Hogwarts at all. This was shaping up to be one of the most disappointing days of his life. Giving up, Ron turned his attention to his trunk and began to half-heartedly tug it toward the train.
“Hey Mum, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?” Ron heard Fred say.
“You know that black-haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is? Harry Potter!”
Ron dropped his trunk and turned back to see the twins giving him knowing looks. After living with them for so long, Ron could usually tell when they were just messing with him, but this time, they didn’t seem to be kidding. A million thoughts raced through his mind as he heard Ginny squeal something about wanting to go on the train and see him. Ron missed the rest of the conversation as he was craning his neck, hoping to get another glimpse of the boy from the station. He racked his brain for any details he could remember and kicked himself for not being friendlier. All he could remember was that the boy was awfully small and scrawny and had been dressed in Muggle clothes that seemed to be several sizes too large. He was nothing like what Ron had imagined.
A whistle sounded, bringing him back to the present. “Hurry up!” his mother called. Fred and George picked up Ron’s trunk and the three of them clambered onto the train. Ron leaned out the window to say goodbye to his mum and sister, but he could barely focus.
Harry Potter is on this train.
As the train began to move, Ron slid inside, closing the door behind him. “Well?” Fred said turning to his youngest brother, “are you just going to stand there? Harry Potter, the bloke you haven’t shut up about for seven years is sitting alone, two compartments down. What are you going to do about it?”
“Shut up,” Ron muttered again. He could feel his ears burning bright red.
“'Shut up!" Fred mocked. "You're so eloquent today. What’s the matter, ickle Ronniekins? Worried your hero won’t like you?” Ron ducked his head, his ears burning all the brighter. That was exactly it actually. After all those years of wishing for this moment, Ron couldn’t do it.
“Oh come on. You’ll never get into Gryffindor, courage like that,” George added, giving Ron a small push down the corridor. “Don’t be a prat. He seemed nice enough. Plus he was alone on the platform and he’s alone now. He’ll probably be glad to have someone to talk with. Just go say hello.”
Ron swallowed and nodded his head quickly, but he couldn’t force himself to move. “C-could you come with me?” he asked his brothers in a small voice.
Fred sighed loudly, “Go on, future Hufflepuff. George and I will come by in a minute to make sure you’re all right.”
Ron was too nervous to even turn and scowl at his brothers. Besides, they had a point. If he wanted to be in Gryffindor like the rest of his family, he’d have to start acting a little braver. Leaving his trunk with the twins and adjusting Scabbers on his shoulder, Ron lifted his chin up high and made his way resolutely down the corridor.
“Hey Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?”
“You know that black-haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?”
-dialogue taken from page 96-97 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (U.S. Edition).
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by K Stahl