The Sugar Quill
Author: Voldemort's Patronus  Story: A Muggle's Encounter with Platform 9 3/4  Chapter: A Muggle's Encounter with Platform 9 3/4
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Kings Cross

Kings Cross. Platform 9. 10:45. Devon reread the hastily written note for the third time that morning before shoving it back into his pocket.  He glanced up at the large clock that hung over the platform.

 

10:50.

 

She was late.  Bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet to get his blood circulating he let out an enormous, silent yawn.

He had left in a hurry that morning.  It had been another late night with friends over until the early hours of the morning watching poorly made American horror movies and talking about nothing.  He had fallen asleep on the sofa around 3:00. The dull throb in his neck reminded him yet again that the arm of his couch should never be used as a pillow.  He had barely woken in time to throw on some clothes, search frantically for the paper that had Cloe’s arrival information, and run out the door to Kings Cross Station.

Thinking of the rush in which he had left his apartment, Devon looked down and noticed for the first time the outfit he had managed to throw together.  Brown corduroy coat.  Jeans.  His old white (nearly grey) trainers.  A plain white shirt with a damp, greenish-brown stain on the front.  ‘I don’t remember eating that…’ he thought to himself, confused.  He hurriedly zipped the coat up to his neck to hide the stain and looked down the tracks.

A train was pulling up to platform 10 across the station from Devon. Still no sign of an arrival at platform 9, where he had been standing for the last 10 minutes.

“Hmmmm.”  He took another glance at the clock. 

 

10:54.

 

“She’s late.”

Cloe was always late. If you were throwing a party you could expect her to show up an hour after it started.  If you were meeting her for a lunch date, 30 minutes.  Her boss for work at the deli—at least 15 minutes.  Somehow you couldn’t help but forgive this chronic tardiness--it was part of her charm.  Her carefree, cheerful nature seemed to follow her around like an invisible cloud, infecting everything she came in contact with. Even a train that was consistently on time day after day was now 10 minutes late, as if the train itself had stopped for a pastry or ran into an old friend while on its way to Kings Cross station.

As he stood musing on this peculiar aspect of her personality, a sudden, cold gust of wind blew across the platform. He stamped his feet and thrust his hands into his pockets.  It was September 1st and already the air had a frigid bite to it.  Looking down at his trainers he saw a cold, bony ankle poking out.  Apparently he had been in too much of a hurry to put socks on.

Getting impatient, he began to pace up and down the terminal. His eyes scanned Kings Cross Station, taking note of his surroundings.

There was the normal stream of businessmen and students off to his right towards the main terminal.  A couple Asian tourists were talking excitedly to his left.  A man with a pointed mustache and wearing a business suit sat on a bench not far behind him. Further down, about three quarters of the way to platform 10, was an old custodian in a worn, grey uniform sweeping up rubbish.

There were a dozen or so other people meandering along the platform.  None of them were of particular interest, except for a couple of kids and their parents pushing enormous carts with what looked like giant cages on top.  The cages were rattling, and he heard a distinct “Hoot!” from one of them.  ‘Hmm, must be an owl,’ Devon thought absently to himself as he turned his gaze back to the blank stone wall across from him.

Realizing the oddity of what he had just seen, he quickly turned back around. The family was nowhere to be seen.


‘That’s odd…’ he thought to himself.  He moved to his right a few feet in order to see around a large, brick support column that was in his view.  Seeing nothing there he looked down the other end of the platform and saw the group coming toward him.

‘What the… How’d they get down there?’ he thought in astonishment. ‘Wait…’ This was a different family with about three times as many people as the first one he had seen.  Just like the previous group, however, the children were all pushing enormous luggage carts with cages perched precariously on top. It seemed odd to Devon that he would see two such out of the ordinary groups in such a short time. Curious, he craned his neck around and studied this new family.

There were about 6 children, all in their young teens from what he could guess, accompanied by 3 adults.  There was a definite air of strangeness about them.  Most of the group had bright red hair. Two of the red-headed boys pushing carts looked identical, though it was hard to tell from this distance.  The final two, a skinny kid with dark hair and glasses, and a girl who hadn’t brushed her hair that morning, looked distinctly out of place against the wave of redheads.  Accompanying the children were two tall men, one with a long scarlet ponytail, and a shorter, older looking woman who was dressed quite sloppily. Come to think of it, they were all dressed rather poorly; it looked like they had just thrown on whatever clothes they could find, regardless of color coordinating.

Devon watched the group closely, as they were by far the most interesting thing happening in the station at that moment. He studied them, trying to figure out why a troop of red-heads dressed in old, out of fashion clothing would be pushing giant carts (animal cages rattling on top) around a train station.  He puzzled about it for a moment.  Then the realization hit him.

 

‘Of course,’ he thought to himself. ‘They’re homeless.’

A small, almost fatherly smile came upon Devon's face. He felt a sudden condescending compassion for them, a mix of pity and fondness. They looked so happy pushing their little carts in front of them… probably had everything they owned right there with them.

Just then the group halted right next to the large brick column. The ancient janitor was sweeping several feet away, head down and mumbling to himself. Each member of the group began looking around the platform with anxious looks on their faces, almost as though they didn’t want anyone to see what they were about to do.

’Probably going to go through the rubbish bins,’ Devon thought knowingly to himself. With what he considered respect, he turned back around and peered down the long stretch of empty tracks again, allowing them a bit of privacy.

After about five seconds of forcing his attention on the tracks, his curiosity got the better of him and he took a quick, inadvertent glance back at the family.  What he saw next took him completely by surprise.

One of the red-headed boys, along with the girl who hadn’t brushed her hair and skinny glasses kid, were leaning against the large support column Devon Collin had noticed earlier. They were apparently chatting normally except for a small, mischievous grin that seemed to play around each of their faces.  Suddenly they leaned against the column and disappeared right through it.

Devon flinched noticeably. Was he crazy, or did he just see three people disappear right through a stone wall? He quickly looked around to see if the other people on the platform had seen it. The old man was still sweeping, his gaze fixed to the ground. The Asian tourists had taken a seat on a nearby bench, looking bored, and the businessman was still reading his paper. None of them seemed to have noticed what had just happened.

He gazed back in disbelief at the group of red-heads, shaking his head. He was probably just seeing things. The three kids were probably just walking around behind the pillar.

As he searched for them, sure they were just around the corner, he noticed the mother and the smallest child, a young girl with smooth red hair, start walking towards the same column. The young girl strained as she pushed the cart forward and the two of them broke into a jog.  Devon took a few steps towards them, amazement etched on his face. They were headed straight for the wall.  If they didn't stop, they would run right into it.... Whoosh!

But they too disappeared.

Now, the first time people had gone through the wall, Devon thought he had just been seeing things. But this time he was absolutely positive he had just seen a plump, older woman and a little girl run right through a solid wall. He was also considerably closer this time, having unconsciously taken several steps towards the column.

A feeling of supreme awe had crept over him. What was going on here? Something was up, and he had the horrible feeling that someone was playing a trick on him. He looked around quickly for any sign of a television camera.

Just then he realized that the last two red-heads, the two who looked identical, were looking right at him. Apparently they had been watching him for some time, because one was pointing at him and they were both chuckling. The one on the left leaned in to his counterpart and whispered. They both grinned.

 

Knowing he had been spotted, Devon watched the two redheads to see what they would do.  Thinking they may wait until he wasn’t looking before following their family through the wall, he was surprised when the first of the two pushed his cart through the wall ahead of him, marched towards the wall, arms swinging wildly, and disappeared right through it, grinning and staring directly at Devon the entire time.

The second twin (Devon could see now that they were twins, or possibly clones…) then made his way towards the wall.  Just before he disappeared he looked straight at Devon and made a motion with his hand, as if he wanted Devon to follow him. 

Devon's jaw dropped.  He was unable to move.  The thought of what he had just seen seemed to have robbed him of all movement.  After a brief paralysis, his curiosity overwhelmed him and he sprinted to the column. His eyes searched frantically over the wall, taking in every detail. It appeared to be made of ordinary, solid brick.

He threw his hands on its surface. Sure enough, it was as solid as any other wall. He felt every brick individually: pushing, searching, knocking.  What was going on here?  This was too crazy to be happening.  There had to be a reason, some sort of explanation…

Just then, as he began to feel the heat of frustration on his face and was ready to give up, something began to emerge through the wall.

He gasped and took a step back. The thing (or rather things, as there were now two of them) were slowly coming out of the wall, seeming to materialize from nowhere. They were getting bigger…He couldn’t recognize what they were. They looked like sides of two small, pale spheres, slowly swelling outwards. The spheres were a few inches apart and were growing at the same rate. He watched, amazed, as another pair of spheres appeared about two feet next to the first set. They too were growing in size, getting bigger and bigger. Now there were tiny flecks of red on each, like spots, or freckles....Then the figures emerged entirely, and Devon knew exactly what he was looking at.

The bare rear-ends of two pale-skinned, freckly redheads.

As this realization hit him, the two fully formed posteriors began to wave back and forth. Through the wall Devon could hear someone whistling the tune of “Oh, Britannia”.

He was thunderstruck. A variety of emotions ran through him at that moment: shock, amazement, disbelief, disappointment, confusion. In his bafflement at seeing human posteriors materialize through a brick wall, however, one absolute fact registered in his mind: He was being mooned.

The absurdity of the situation being entirely lost on Devon, he lashed out his foot in a long, sweeping kick.

His trainer connected with first with a fleshy buttock, then with a brick wall.  He heard a distinct yelp of pain from the other side as he repositioned himself to attack the second rear-end. As his foot went flying forward, however, it disappeared, sending his foot crashing painfully, at full force, into the wall.


Devon bellowed a curse and crashed onto the floor, writhing in pain. From behind the wall he could hear a moan, followed by roaring laughter: “A ha ha ha! Are you ok George? Let me help you…YOU’VE GOT A PRINT ON YOUR DUFFER! A HA HA HA!”

The voices slowly faded away. Devon got back onto his feet and yelled some more choice phrases at the column, kicking it with his good foot. He heard footsteps behind him.

“What the ‘ell you doing, son?” asked a gruff, weathered old voice behind him. Devon looked up, and his eyes met those of the old janitor. It suddenly dawned on him how odd it must look for him to be kicking and swearing at a blank wall.

He struggled to explain. “These people…red hair...they…went right through the wall…THEY MOONED ME!” he managed to blurt out.

It was fairly obvious to Devon that the janitor thought he was insane. “I swear! There were people going through the wall! It was unreal, it was…magic!”

The weathered old janitor fixed him with a look of intense annoyance. “What damned nonsense. Magic? No such thing as magic, son!” he spat in his gruff voice. “You get out of here, and don’t go kick’n my walls no more.”

The old man looked at Devon expectantly. He stared back incredulously for a moment…then turned and stalked off.

The janitor watched him go. A low whistle announced the arrival of a train at Platform 9. Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to the floor and resumed sweeping. 

“Stupid Muggle.”

 

 

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