Platform 9¾

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On Platform 9 3/4, two women stood very near the platform edge. They each looked very alike one another, the younger simply being a wrinkleless version of the elder who could be safely assumed to be her mother. The mother shifted her slight weight from foot to foot, occasionally ruffling a hand through her neat blonde bob. Her fair skin glimmered with a stress sweat, and two pale green eyes flitted across the platform. "Surely the train didn't take this long before. Sofia, did it take this long?" she fretted, running her french manicured nails across her painted lips in an attempt to not bite them.

Her daughter was a sharp contrast to her well-dressed mother. She was dressed in black sweats and a dark tank top, the clothes hanging off her small athletic frame. Her blonde hair would have reached her shoulder blades if it was left loose, but it was tied into two stiff boxer braids. She paid little attention to her surroundings, finishing a text then slipping her phone back into her pocket. "It'll be coming soon, mum. You can head, if you want. I'm sure I can handle one more kid." The mother immediately scoffed, flapped a hand and shook her head at her student daughter. Though she acted as if Kalani was a well behaved child, that wasn't the case. As a sports science major - and also a girl trying to make her way into the lucrative business of professional quidditch - she spent a lot of time helping out at the local high schools and at sports clubs, so she dealt with a lot of energetic kids. Kalani was among the wildest.

Over the long year, Suzanne and Sofia Anderson worried themselves sick. Kalani played it tough, and so did they, but the two of them fretted. She was a small, slight, deaf and mute girl, not pure of blood, hardly aware of magic, and with a history - both from her parents and herself - that branded her horrid. If anyone found her weak of heart, would they try it? Try to poke her til she broke? Try and make her cry? But Kalani wouldn't cry, that was for sure. Wouldn't break.

She would explode, a firecracker packed full.

So, they truly, deeply, passionately hoped that she had been left. They hoped children were kind. They hoped, they hoped, they hoped beyond reasonable hope, that she had made even one good, sensible, brave friend, who would stick up for her if she couldn't herself. And while they worried and hoped, they learned.

The house was full of binders, of flashcards, of long notes taken in late night lectures. What is in those binders, those flashcards, those notes, you might ask? BSL - British Sign Language. Between them, the pair were becoming fluent. A sweet, honey and sugar coated surprise for the young girl.

The ground rumbled.

The experienced whooped in excitement and anticipation. The new - the muggles, particularly - gasped and held their breath, baffled by the concept of an earthquake in good, honourable, peaceful London. However, confusion faded, excitement grew, as the Hogwarts Express pulled into Platform 9 3/4.

All at once, the sliding doors flew open. The shouting immediately started, long calls of foreign names: "Philomena!" "Laverne!" "Zygmunt!" One name played on Suzanne and Sofia's lips, of course: "Kalani!" "Lani, honey!" It didn't take long for the two of them to remember that this was a useless pursuit; Kalani was currently stuck in a crowd of other preteens, without the most vital sense in such a situation; hearing. It didn't take long for Suzanne to take the lead. "Excuse me, ma'am, if you see a young first year girl - you'll know her from her bracelets, ma'am - could you tell her that her aunt and cousin are waiting for her at the end of the platform?" "Hey, Tugwood! It's Anderson, from NEWT Flying! How you doin'? Any chance that your brother knows where my little cousin's at? Little thing, deaf and dumb..."

In time, there was a tug at Sofia's hand. The university student snatched her hand away, before taking the time to look over her shoulder.

There stood Kalani Anderson, face full of boyish mischief and glee, large black trunk sitting by her feet. Her dark hair hung low, almost by her shoulders, but everything else about her was the same.

Unhurt. Beautifully, gracefully, oh so blessedly unhurt. The spark in her eyes hadn't faded. Her smile was still imperfectly lopsided. She was untouched by the toxicity that festered in high schools, which had, when Sofia was her age, turned her rotten. She had survived.

Sofia's face broke into a toothy smile. "Hey, kid! Where ya been?" Kalani rolled her eyes, let out her distinctive I-don't-know-what-I-sound-like laugh. She pointed towards the train, then down towards the carriage near the bottom. It made sense; Kalani wasn't the type of kid to trek down to the end of the platform to give herself an easier time getting off at the end. Sofia just took Kalani in one hand and her trunk in the other, and started making her way through the crowd to find her mum.

When Suzanne spotted her niece coming, she went down into a crouch despite her heels. She held out her arms to Kalani, and the young witch broke the distance and jogged into the hug. Kalani was the first to break away, and gave her aunt the same smile she'd given her cousin, all crooked teeth. Suzanne frowned for a moment, but passed over it with a mental note. "How've you been, honey?" she asked, every movement of her mouth over-exaggerated. Kalani responded with an enthusiastic nod.

Sofia leaned over her cousin's shoulder. "Check the time, mum," she warned.

Suzanne glanced down at the watch on her wrist and swore. "I've really got to get going. Morton'll kill me if I don't get back on time." She wrapped Kalani in one more hug and planted a taffy-pink kiss on her warm cheek. She stood up straight, and dug into the pocket of her navy blazer. She pulled out a five pound note and a few pieces of change, holding them out to her daughter. "You two go get a coffee. Maybe a hot chocolate for you, Lani? I'll catch up with you later, honey." With that, she rushed across the platform, disappearing through the wall.

Suzanne Anderson worked at a muggle law firm. The firm defended high profile clients, and had a high win rate. The pay was impressive; that was what kept Suzanne in the business of defending rich muggles, rather than becoming a Wizengamot worker. She couldn't bear working her way up again, from promotion to promotion. Who knew if she'd be able to reach the high position she had now in the twenty something years that she had left before retirement?

Sofia watched her mother go, then took Kalani by the hand. "Let's go get coffee," she said, and the two left the platform, Kalani trying to free her hand the whole way.

STA: 5 / AGI: 8 / STR: 2 / CTL: 7 / ARC: 3 / ACC: 5