Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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HOGWARTS EXPRESS eleven o’clock
A tall, wrought iron archway stood parallel with the steam engine. People in long, draped robes ran right out from under it, materializing from the front first as though they had just stepped out of a thick fog rather than a solid wall. Families continued to come through the gateway, pushing their carts forward and into the crowd without even glancing back at the platform entrance. But once in a while there was the odd person who kept staring at the arch and checking, apparently, to make sure they were actually there when they had come though the barrier.
These were the people dressed in normal clothing, but they looked rather out of place among the odd, robed general community of the train station. Some of them kept muttering mutinously ‘they should put it on the ticket, no consideration… platform nine and three quarters, really!’ under their breath.
A thin, red-haired boy appeared at the gateway, pushing his cart forward towards the train with a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He had a strong jaw and kind, brown eyes. His long, rather shabby black robes brushed the floor occasionally as he pushed his way towards the crowd, waving to someone a little ways off before disappearing from view and into the current of the excited mob.
Another boy appeared at the archway, panting and pushing a cart loaded with his trunk and the family owl, Errol. He had clearly taken the gateway at a run. This boy was around eleven, and clearly the other boy’s bother, as he too had flaming red hair. It was long so that his fiery strands danced merrily about his thin face as he called out for his brother. “Oi! Charlie! Where’d you go?” He stood on tiptoe as if in hope to see him over the heads of people before him.
“C’mon, Fred!” said another red-haired boy who had just appeared under the arch, signaling for his twin to follow him. They were identical down to the very last freckle.
He grinned as he steered his cart over towards the other, calling out, “Where’re the others, George?”
“There,” said George, pointing.
Beyond a huddle of young teenagers stood Percy, a tall boy of thirteen with glasses, discussing something animatedly with the youngest of the brothers. The nine year old, whose feet and ears were much too big for his body, looked very small in comparison to his older brother. The plump woman wearing a hand knitted sweater was holding the hand of a small girl of eight. She and her parents were standing on their tip-toes trying to see over the crowd for any sign of red hair. The steam billowing from the train mixed with their exotic hair color gave the odd illusion that the whole lot had their heads on fire.
Fred nudged his brother on the arm. “C’mon.” The twins joined the crowd headed for the train.
They passed a thin faced boy talking to his mother. “Mum, I think I’ve forgotten my Arithmancy textbook,” he said, his face buried in the bag around his shoulder which he was rummaging through.
“Oh, Oliver,” she sighed, her hands on her hips. “I’ll send it to you with Danae tomorrow.”
They pushed passed the pair and through one of the many entrances to the train. Following a slim corridor, George found an empty compartment at the back, beyond the compartments packed with the earlier arrivers. The glass sliding door revealed a metal rack stationed towards the ceiling, above two seamless leather benches which sat facing each other, parallel to a heavily fingerprinted window. Fred heaved his trunk onto the luggage rack without too much difficulty before their mother’s voice came wafting in through the open window. “Fred? George? Are you there?”
“Coming Mom,” they chorused, and sidled back through the corridor and out onto the platform where their mom was waiting to kiss them goodbye.
When the boys emerged back onto Platform 9 ¾, the girl was complaining loudly to her mother, “Mum, can’t I go? It’s not fair!”
“Yes it is, and you know you’re not old enough yet,” her mother said absently, fishing for something in her tatty robes. “Where did I put—oh thank you Arthur, dear. Obligo!” she pointed her wand at her youngest son’s untied shoelace, which promptly tied itself into a perfect bow with a jet of purple sparks. “Tie your own shoes next time, Ron.”
Fred and George cleared their throats loudly. “Hi Mum”
Their mother smiled blandly. “Hello boys.” She opened her enormous red handbag and said, “I’ve made you all sandwiches… here you are, Fred… no, they don’t have mustard…Charlie? Where’s Charlie? Here you are, dear…”
Percy emerged suddenly, already dressed in his billowing black Hogwarts robes, horn rimmed glasses untarnished. “Hello, Mother,” he said, accepting yet another of the sandwiches from his mother’s seemingly bottomless handbag.
“Boys, you’d better hurry,” said their father, glancing at his gold wristwatch, “the train’s due to leave any minute.”
As if in reply to Mr. Weasely’s remark, a loud whistle like the steam from a teapot blasted suddenly above the noise of the chatter, and Fred, George, Percy, and Charlie were bustled hurriedly onto the train by their red-haired family. Ronald and Ginny, the youngest children in the family, waved sadly as the four boys clambered onto the scarlet steam engine. The twins hurried along the corridor until they reached their compartment, where they said their last goodbyes from the window.
“Bye!” George called, “We’ll send you loads of letters.”
“We’ll send you all our dirty laundry,” Fred grinned wildly as the train slowly began to roll along its tracks.
“See you at Christmas!”
The youngest children ran alongside the train until it gained too much speed, and then they fell back and waved. Platform 9 ¾, with its lofty pillars and teary-eyed families was rapidly falling behind as the train picked up speed; going… going… gone.
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