Platform 9¾

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A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

June 2nd, 2010


The countryside was starting to give way to more suburban surroundings. The beautiful hills and streams had morphed into one story houses, and in a few more minutes they would transform into the landmarks of the British capital, London. A young Japanese woman was staring out a train window, the regular click-clack of the train wheels creating a steady rhythm as the train progressed on its journey. She could see her own bright hazel eyes reflecting in the glass of the window. The events of the last few days had her head swimming. It left her depressed and unfocused, so much that she didn’t want to risk using magic for a while, not with her mental instability. So muggle transportation was the most prudent.

Aoi Kimiko Risa. She had successfully gotten a job with the Ministry of Magic, and beyond that, she had located her mother. She hadn’t just come to visit the UK, she had officially immigrated there. She already knew English, a decision made for her as a child as her family thought it wise she know the language. It was common in the world of business, and her family’s company had connections to both America and the UK. Though she had a late start, she was fluent enough to land a job and survive everyday life.

Leaving Japan had been difficult. She held a strong love for her homeland. The culture here in the UK already stood in sharp contrast. It was so relaxed in comparison. Aoi glanced around the train car, perking up as the conductor called for tickets. The young woman reached into the pocket of her cobalt peacoat, withdrawing the scrap of paper. The man checked over the ticket, returning it to Aoi upon completion of his examination. “It seems your stop is the next station, madam. King’s Cross station. We hoped you enjoyed your trip with us today.” Aoi flashed a smile at him, appreciating the professionalism he displayed.

King’s Cross Station was quite the sight in the blazing sun as the train pulled into the station. The clock on top of the entrance showed the time at 14:33. Early afternoon on Thursday would hopefully not be too busy for the London station. Crowds weren’t an issue, but they could be overstimulating, and she needed to focus. The first thing on her docket was to get to the address she had tracked down. The address of one Miss Evangeline Wood. This would be a surprise for Miss Wood, meeting Aoi, her daughter stolen away by a self-righteous man. Aoi wondered if her mother would even want her. She was 19 now, hardly a child anymore. Aoi didn’t even look like her mother, as far as she knew. Her mother possessed blonde hair which curled at the ends. Deep brown eyes and a crooked smile as well. Aoi let out a sigh. She wasn’t one to get nervous, but this time the butterflies were in quite the swarm.

The train lurched to a halt suddenly, startling Aoi out of her inner thoughts. She has arrived. She shook her head, focusing on what was directly in front of her. The young woman stood up in the aisle, unlatching the overhead storage compartment, and withdrew a black duffel bag. She pulled the bag over her head, letting the strap rest on her shoulder, and made headway toward the door. Her boots made loud clicks as she stepped down the steps, but the sounds were lost in the dull roar of the people inside the station. She looked around, checking for the nearest exit when her ears picked upon crying. A child’s crying. She scanned around rapidly, narrowing down the sound. It took a few minutes, but she soon found its origin. A girl, maybe 11 or 12 perhaps, was weeping softly into her hands. Aoi approached carefully. She didn’t have much experience with children. She delicately bent down at the knees and reached out to touch the girl’s shoulder.

Aoi already had a London accent. One she had picked up from her English tutor and nanny. It was soft and gentle when she wanted it to be, perfect for situations like this. “Hello, there little girl. Are you ok?” She wore a smile and waited for a reply.

Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare.

A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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Cypresse Lian was crying in a corner.

The little girl clutched the parchment in her shaking hands, teardrops staining the thin material, as she curled in on herself, backed against the joining of two concrete walls. Her fingers passed over the paper, over and over again, as she felt the raised dots on the surface. Tears leaked from the corners of unseeing eyes. Yet all she could hear were scattered footsteps, incomprehensible voices and the screech of metal against metal. Nobody noticed her, half-hidden in the shadows of the pillar.

The owl had intercepted her as soon as she'd gotten off the train, tugging her trunk behind her-- the same trunk that had been flung carelessly beside her as she wept. It had had to perch on her shoulder and nip at her hand to get her attention before she'd even considered reading the letter it held-- braille was chunky, after all, and she'd only recently lost her sight. The memory of color still haunted her dreams, echoing and tantalizing.

But.

Lian Yu-Ling

Witchling. You cannot be our daughter. Find your way in London, away from us.


Those first sentences were in English; the rest in Chinese, a barrage of lecture and scorn raining down upon her, crushing her, as she read the hateful words over and over again. You are not our daughter, the letter read. You are not our daughter. The girl crumpled the already crinkled paper, not caring that the fresh ink that now ran across the paper stained her fingers, and dropped her head into her hands.

Where could she go? What could she do? She was accustomed to a spoiled life - even she knew that her family had wealth, even she knew that she had near no chance out in this world. What kind of future was there in store for a lonely witch without sight, a mere child to the harshness of the world? What would come next? The tears only fell faster.

Something came in contact with her shoulder. The young girl gasped, then jerked upright and stared forward blankly - still not accustomed to her lack of sight, not really. Her befuddled mind began to analyze the thing on her shoulder, identifying it as a... that was a hand, wasn't it? Yes, and the person was, oh, speaking... a dull train of thought began to spin itself out monotonously, an instinctual habit stirred to life beneath sorrow and numbness.

Was she okay? A harsh, incredulous laugh stirred itself up from a deep, aching pit in her chest. It never made it out of her throat, blocked by an unhelpful hiccup. "Am I okay? No, not really. Shall I say I am fine, then?" Her usually flawless sarcasm was hindered again by her rather poor appearance and another hiccup.

Curse the hiccups.

"Who are you?" she asked curiously, although bluntly. That was a woman's voice she heard, a young one, but beyond that she could detect little else. She hadn't even noticed the approaching footsteps, after all; at the moment, her sensory skills seemed... compromised. Cy fought back the urge to curl up and cry some more, willing the tears to stop as she spoke, trying to keep her voice steady. In truth, she was frightened. She was in grief. She was frustrated. But she could let little of it show.

What if she had to introduce herself? Her mind was already a devastating hurricane of thoughts; she could barely make out each individual idea amidst all the chaos. What was her name now? Lian Yu-Ling, she'd been called. Cypresse Lian, she'd been called. But those were names given to her by her parents. What was she called now?

"My name is Cypresse," she decided firmly, even as the tear tracks glittering down her face remained. "From..." her words trailed off. Where was her home now? No longer Taiwan, of course. Perhaps the only one she could choose was one she'd known for less than a year, but what had become a sort of a home... "From Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and- and Wizardry." She stumbled over words as her lungs tried to contract again. In turn, Cy told her lungs to shut up already.

"I would say that I'm pleased to meet you, but I'm not quite ready to be pleased with anything just yet." The words slipped out before she could stop them, and crimson stained her cheeks after they were uttered - they were rude, she knew, but her parents - then-parents, anyway - never did do the best job at schooling her tongue, even if they admonished her for it. She was simply not willing. Instead, she gave the woman, whoever she was, the best glare she could without actually being able to see her target, simply guessing where she was. Hopefully she wasn't staring at someone's trunk randomly.
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A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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Aoi considered letting her smile fade away as her mind registered that this girl couldn’t see. It wasn’t some intuition or past experience that let her know this. It was the fact that the young girl was shooting daggers at the air, missing Aoi’s general position by a couple feet. However, she decided against tucking her smile away. Wearing it helped project a warm aura, and the girl needed some warmth right now, her tear streaked face conveying much more than the young child’s harsh words. Maybe those words would’ve been enough for some to simply ignore the situation. But Aoi knew they spawned from pain, a gnawing agony consuming the girl’s mind. She knew because she had felt the same pain when her father finally told her the truth of everything in exchange for success on her part.

Aoi withdrew a handkerchief from her jacket pocket, grasping the distraught girl’s hand, and firmly planting it in her palm. She cocked her head reflexively, radiating her warm voice softly. “No love, you needn’t say you’re fine. Sometimes people cry tears of joy, but with your response and time, I see otherwise.” Aoi’s knee had gone to the ground to brace her body as she spoke. She was simply kneeling before the girl now. “Hello, Cypresse. My name is Aoi. I understand it isn’t a pleasure right now to meet me, but I love meeting new people. And you are from Hogwarts? A risky thing to tell a stranger wouldn’t you think? Although many would likely just think you mad. But luckily I’m the right kind of person.”

A quick look around showed no one to act as claimant to the girl. Aoi’s brow furrowed. “Where are your parents Cypresse? I’m not very familiar with how things are done here in the UK, but I would imagine that parents pick up their children.”

Then again, Aoi was incredibly unfamiliar with British culture. Still, it didn’t seem to be a likely aspect of it. A part of her wanted to take the girl into a hug and comfort the sadness away. But as the girl was of no relation to her, and her family maybe be arriving at any moment. So it seemed a bad idea. Beyond that, Cypresse may not like the sudden contact, so Aoi decided against it. 

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Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare.

A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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The girl flinched again as skin contacted her cold fingers. The sleeves of the oversized, dark plum-colored sweatshirt that she wore were stained with her bitter tears, and the meshed fabric of one of the sheer stripes running down the sleeves had somehow been torn open. She accepted the little square of fabric with a mere whisper of thanks, gently pressing it to the raw skin around her eyes. The softness was a relief; sweater fabric and sheer wasn't the smoothest. The tears began to dry, leaving an unpleasant feeling of salt on her skin, but at least she'd stopped crying, mostly, in front of a stranger.

Briefly she was amazed by the woman's patience. She'd just snapped at her, rather rudely at that, and there was still no sign or retaliation or admonishment - most people would snap back or tell her that what she said wasn't very nice at the very least. Not only did the woman not scold her, but she comforted her - even in the absence of general courtesy. Her thoughts caved in on themselves as guilt and pride warred against each other.

Aoi was a Japanese name, wasn't it? She'd assumed the woman to be like everyone else in London at first; her voice had carried a typical English accent, but now that she thought about it... there was still an undertone of a foreign home. Briefly the girl contemplated an apology, but her tear-streaked face remained stoic as she withheld it.

"Well, clearly you're not a Muggle," she grumbled, reaching out to grab at Aoi's arm, the one that she'd placed on her shoulder at first. After a few empty grasps, her hand landed on the tough fabric of a jacket, and she moved her hand slightly to ensure - yes, the thing scraping across her skin earlier was a wand, or at least carried the shape of one. She'd barely felt the pointed wood that had slipped out of the woman's sleeve, but it was too small to be a nail, and she could feel the pressure of all five other fingers elsewhere. It wasn't cold enough to be a metal button, either, or hard enough to be plastic, though she realized that it might not have been the best idea to rely on such shaky evidence in the future. Her doubts, however, were kept hidden away in her ind as she continued. "Why would a Muggle randomly carry a wand in her sleeve? You'd have to be a witch, and I assume you are."

At Aoi's next comment, however, the now-familiar lump arose in her throat again, and she pulled away again to curl her knees up to her chest again, burying her face in her arms. Tears pricked insistently in the corners of her unseeing eyes, and after a moment of resistance, fell again, handkerchief forgotten in the tightened fist of her hand. But through it all, she was silent. Her hair cascaded down around her, forming a sort of curtain against the world.

She'd imagine that parents would pick up their children. Well, most parents would pick up their children. You are not our daughter. But she had no parents now, had she? She was no longer her parents' children, apparently, and she no longer had a home to go to as her year ended. Sorrow, anger, frustration, all of it took over her, but the one thing that commanded her mind above the other emotions - it was fear.

What was out there, waiting for her? Was there anything waiting for her at all? She did not know the world's dips and curves, did not know what to do in its frightening embrace. Where could she go? She'd walked past the streets with her then-mother before, when she could see, and stared at the homeless beggars on the streets before she was yanked away. The empty, hopeless look in their eyes terrified her - the thought that all they would do was keep begging for money, scraps of leftovers from the rest of the world, unseen and uncared for, until they disappeared themselves. Was that her fate now? Cy was accustomed to a life of fanciful delights and riches at the beck and call of her whim... she could not, would not survive the world.

When the young girl recovered enough to raise her head slightly, her words were twisted with vitriol and melancholy. "According to the woman who birthed me and the man who raised me, I have no parents." Another sob that she swallowed back to preserve any shred of dignity that she still had prevented her from further explanation, so instead Cy picked up the parchment that had been delivered by such an oblivious Owl and thrust it at the near-stranger with no particular valor.

It occurred to her that she was being quite gullible. What kind of child would spill her name and school to a stranger she'd just met thirty seconds ago, let alone this kind of personal information? She could've gotten up, ran away, and... she didn't know. She didn't care. Nothing mattered much anymore, not really - only that the woman had been kind and warm, even if the kind and warm was a front, even if she shouldn't trust it, her cold mind craved warmth, and there warmth was.

Or maybe she was just being paranoid.

Regardless, she dropped the parchment, realizing that not everyone could read braille. If she'd been able to tell, she would have noticed the ink that covered the back of the piece of parchment, a written copy of the scathing lecture punched in dots into the front, but unfortunately she could not. Emotion sapped the strength from her mind, though, and she did not explain, only allowed the parchment to flutter to the ground if it wasn't caught.
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A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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Aoi almost panicked at Cypresse grabbing her arm. For a split second, she thought it had been a trap. She’d heard about such things. Children feigning distress then stealing a helpful samaritan's wallet or worse. She’d been warned of such ploys by her family but had considered them over exaggerations. Not something that actually happened, at least not often. Perhaps it was that personal idea of invincibility that she secretly held. It fed her confidence and was a core aspect of her being, but it faltered for just a moment. The girl felt the wand tucked into her sleeve while Aoi’s mind struggled to form a working logic of the situation. Cypresse was either probing for information through her sense of feeling or trying to take the wand. Aoi already knew Cy was a witch, she probably had her own wand. Beyond that, it would be risky to attempt to take an adult’s wand without knowing what they were capable of, and so Aoi safely assumed the former.

Cy confirmed the assumption with her words within moments of grabbing Aoi’s arm. A wave of relief flooded over the young Japanese woman. She was hardly helpless without her wand, but it would’ve been difficult to cast magic in such a public place without unwanted attention. Thankfully the situation hadn’t boiled down to such a state. She didn’t have too much time to consider it though. Cypresse began crying again, her hair shielding her face from the world. Aoi gave her the time to grieve.

A glance around the station saddened Aoi. Everyone else was ignoring this young girl. As if she wasn’t there. As if she didn’t matter. Indignation for Cypresse grew in Aoi. How could these people be so heartless? Where was their humanity? Compassion? It sickened her to her very core. As she was about to rise and yell at the passerby when Cypresse spoke again. A voice filled with bitterness and contempt. The anguish of her words broke Aoi’s heart into pieces. To be abandoned by her parents, Aoi couldn’t imagine. She had elected to leave her father. This girl’s father had abandoned her, as well as her mother. What child deserved that trauma?

Cypresse thrust a letter toward Aoi, letting it drop from her grip. The sheet floated downward until Aoi picked it out of the air. A quick scan revealed Braille, which Aoi had no idea how to read. But on the other side, script. A little English, and then the rest was Chinese. Aoi sighed. She had no experience with Chinese. But the English was enough to convey the message. Aoi looked down at the girl, tears staining the edge of her eyes. Not that Cypresse could see that.

“Listen young one. I’m here to meet my family. My mother. I’ve never known her my entire life. My father isn’t worthy of me. But I believe my mother will value me for more than what I can accomplish.” Aoi looked down, realizing this was a risky gambit, but emotion ran the show right now. “If you like, do you want to come with me. I just moved here. If my mom won’t take you in, I will. If you want that is. I don’t have much, but you’ll have a roof until you return to school. Food to eat. And I can teach you how to better use magic in theory.” Aoi was more than a little nervous, and if the girl rejected her, she’d spend the rest of the day finding a place for her.

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Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare.

A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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The first emotion that rose in response to the other woman’s words was not gratefulness. It was not relief, nor was it joy. No, the girl had been crossed far too many times to not feel suspicious of this offer. After all, she was a blind child ridden with emotional trauma - an easy target to take advantage of. And what kind of person wouldn’t doubt someone she couldn’t even see? Paranoia writhed through her, and Cy curled back defensively, away from her, away from the crowd, toward the wall.

But then a sense of calm settled over the young Ravenclaw. Her parents were gone, that much was apparent; if she was to be used for money, then there would be nobody to pay. And where else did she have to go, what else did she really have to lose? All that she owned now was the discarded trunk at her side and her name. And if what Aoi was offering was true, although it was likely born out of pity, she’d be a fool not to accept. Cy had no home. She couldn’t go back to Taiwan now… she didn’t want to go back home, anyway. And she knew that she could not survive on her own, however hard she tried - Cypresse was a girl suited to wealth.

And - the offer to teach her. That caught her attention as well, for she'd struggled to learn in her short time at Hogwarts. Some of the professors had recommended that she receive extra help; she understood that it was extremely difficult for them to teach if they also had to constantly help her. Perhaps this would be her chance? Even if she was unsure - this woman hadn't even met her mother yet, what would she be like and how would she receive Cy? - it was the best chance she'd probably get in a long time.

Her attention turned to Aoi’s own story, though brief and not the most detailed. Loss was a thing known only through experience. That she knew now - she knew it so strongly that it was almost painful, that she could practically feel the fleeting glances that they spared her, the pitying pause in their steps before they moved on. Perhaps that was why she was not so suspicious anymore - because she had found something in common with her. That could, at times, be a flaw.

Gratitude softened her features, then determination set them. “Well, it’s not as if I have anywhere else to go,” Cy muttered, words accompanied by a bitter, quite incredulous laugh. The tears fell more slowly now, but the tracks still glittered on her cheekbones, and redness from tear-drying hinted at the raw skin near her eyes. Still, with great effort, she climbed to her feet, keeping a hand on the wall for balance, then felt around on the ground with her foot in an attempt to find her trunk. After a couple of tries, her foot hit the handle, and she grasped it carefully in a hand, hauling it up towards her other.

The girl had been broken by that letter, and she might not have quite been healed yet, but at least she’d gathered all her pieces. Her eyes flicked toward where Aoi’s voice had come from previously, trained in their faux focus as her features were schooled into nonchalance once again, even though she made no attempt to clear her face of tears. In an instant, she had gathered herself, had concentrated... changed, in a way that words fall flat in describing. For most, the transformation would seem magical; for Cy, it was instinctual. “Where to now?"
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A Chance Circumstance  Finished 

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Aoi couldn’t hide the surprise on her face, not that it mattered. She had expected to need more coaxing to get the girl to accept. Cypresse here was either hopelessly naive or simply resigned to her fate. That fact simply pulled on the heartstrings of the Japanese/British woman even further. No normal child would give in so quickly, no matter the reason. The pain bearing down on this young girl’s soul must be a truly arduous burden.

Aoi couldn’t provide much, as she barely had enough to provide for herself. At the moment anyway. A job had already been secured for her here. She would start a career with the Ministry of Magic here in the UK. Her credentials were outstanding and she knew it. She exemplified skill even amongst her peers back in Japan, and no doubt the Japanese Ministry was upset to lose her to the British. Had things been slightly different, who knows where she would’ve ended up, but there was no use dwelling on such things.

Aoi had to focus on conveying her emotions through her voice. An acute awareness of how much she relied on body language had washed over her. Aoi started to think quickly, muttering in Japanese out of habit. “簡単なはずです. できます. 自信を見せる. 弱さを見せないでください.”, came her voice, without the London accent that accompanies her English, but instead the Chugoku(China) accent of her youth that pairs with her Japanese. It would sound like her voice suddenly raised in pitch to any passerby listening in, as her speaking speed would increase with the language switch.

She stood suddenly, doing a quick scan of her surroundings. The passerby paid no heed to her or the tear-stained girl before her. Aoi didn’t think anyone would question Cy going with her. They both appeared to be of Asian descent, and the ignorance of westerners in discerning the different nationalities between the eastern nations was usually appalling. However, in this case, it worked to her advantage. Aoi would take Cy to her birth mother. “Ok, Miss Cypresse. We’re going to West Bremerton right here in London. A high rise building with flats for each floor. We’ll bring your trunk along, and get you situated. Then we’ll get something good to eat, whatever we can find here.” Aoi gently put her hand on the girl’s shoulder to let her know she was still there and held out her remaining hand, palm up and out. “Take my hand, and we’ll find a home together.”



Reducio
Translation: Kantan'na hazudesu. Dekimasu. Jishin o miseru. Yowa-sa o misenaide kudasai.
It should be easy. I can do it. Have confidence. Don't show weakness, please.

Aoi exits thread with Cy after her next post.
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Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare.