“It’s rude to stare!”
A Muggle girl watches some familiar faces…
“Emma!” calls my mum sharply. I wander over to where she’s standing,
through the dark forest of legs and waists. I long for the day when it
will be a forest of faces. You see, that’s what I like to do, watch people
but mum is always telling me – “It’s rude to stare!” she hisses at me
as we settle on the bench at Platform 10.We’re meeting Daddy off the 7
o’clock train. This pleases me, as he’s promised me presents and on top
of that I get to watch all the different people at King’s Cross!
I twist in my seat and gaze at the barrier behind me and beyond that
to platform 9. Mum has pulled out a book and started to read (another
skill I long for!) so I take this time to have a good look.
There are lots of children, I notice, my brow furrowed and my thumb
in my mouth. This helps me think. They all seem to be meeting parents
and families. But where have they come from?
I crane my irritatingly short neck and search the crowd. As my gaze
rests once again on the barrier, I gasp. A boy and girl have just appeared
from nowhere! From nowhere? I look around; surely someone else has witnessed
this? Not anyone that I can see. I look at the boy and girl.
He’s very tall and has hair the colour of one of my favourite crayons,
the one I use to draw tigers and fires. He’s looking at the girl in a
funny way but she doesn’t seem to notice. She has amazing hair, I decide.
It’s bushy, brown and thick and I finger my limp blonde plaits disdainfully.
She’s biting her lip and staring at the ornate antique trunk before her.
I notice that on top of this is a cage containing the tiniest owl I have
ever seen, tweeting madly.
I rub my eyes and look back at the barrier. Another girl has appeared
on her own. She has hair and identical hue to the boys and seems younger
than the brown-haired girl. She looks sad somehow. Is it sad?
A plump woman with a friendly face and the same red hair walks over
to them, swiftly embracing what can only be her children. The boy’s ears
grow rapidly pink but his sister looks relieved to have her mum nearby.
Once again I look to the barrier. Yet more redheads! Two older boys,
identical twins appear. A smaller black-haired boy with a serious face
and glasses follows them. Sitting proud on top of his trunk is the most
magnificent owl I have ever seen, even in my picture books, a white and
black snowy owl. I marvel inwardly. They all head towards the others.
The black-haired boy catches sight of a very fat man with a moustache
who has such a grumpy expression. I ache to go and show him how to smile.
I just know he’s not the boy’s father.
The boy turns, to say his goodbyes, presumably. The red-haired woman
embraces him like a son. The bushy-haired girl hugs him tightly and kisses
his cheek. I wonder fleetingly if she’s his girlfriend. By the narrow
eyed expression on the tall boy’s face I’m not the only one wondering.
Nonetheless, he grins widely at the black-haired boy and says something
I can’t make out. Slowly the boy turns and leaves. I notice the red-haired
girl follows his steps with bright eyes.
The family gather their things and pile their heavy trunks onto trolleys.
They start to make their way slowly to the exit, the girl leaning on her
mums arm, saying nothing and the twins whispering together excitedly.
The tall boy waits behind. He seems to be trying to say something but
looks stuck for words as he looks at the girl. To compensate she grabs
him in a huge hug, which he looks both shocked and enormously pleased
at. She pulls back after a minute and kisses his cheek, in my opinion
her lips linger fleetingly. Red-head’s ears go crimson and he looks at
her earnestly, saying something quickly. She nods and smiles. They hug
briefly once more.
“Oy! Ron!” shouts one of the twins. Ron looks sadly at the girl.
Bye…I see him say. He walks away slowly, slouching slightly over the
trolley. He turns to look at her one last time but she is sitting on her
trunk, obviously waiting for someone, lost in a huge old book. I see him
shake his head incredulously, mouthing wordlessly. I think she does too,
because she is smiling softly.
But why do all these mysterious people look so worried? I bite my lip.
It looks as though something terrible must have happened to them…
I watch, as the bush-haired girl is met at last by her parents.
She stands up and smiles, a little melancholy. I wonder if she misses
her red-haired boy. Her parents hug her then take her trunk, as she fumbles
in her bag. She removes a glass jar, which she smiles grimly at. I watch,
fascinated as she lets a fat beetle out onto the platform. It scuttles
away. She and her family turn and walk slowly towards the exit.
I glance at my mum. She’s still engrossed in her book. I bite my lip
once more and decide to risk it. I run over to the barrier and touch it
expectantly. Nothing happens. Disappointed, I trot back to mum who looks
“Emma…” she begins.
“It’s rude to stare,” we say together. I giggle and Mum smiles. I settle
back down and watch as Dad’s train pulls in.