They stopped at Platform 9. Eden became very fascinated by his shoes as his father walked to his mother and they began to quickly talk between themselves.
He looked up when he heard Cecil snicker, his brother motioning his head towards a confused looking family. Evelyn giggled and they too began to whisper to each other, their eyes darting between one another and the other family. Lilian wasn’t paying attention to either her siblings nor her parents, her eyes focused on the dark owl that she had brought up to be at eye level with her. Eden could only guess that she was trying to assert superiority over the poor thing. Lilian only just got it, with his parent's strict rules on not having a pet until they were at least on to their second year. Cecil was going onto his fourth year and he still didn’t even have one due to his mother’s insistence on him still being too immature to care for a pet.
(Eden never mentioned it to any of his siblings that his mother had sat him down the night before they went shopping for their supplies and asked if he wanted one. He didn’t want to give them more reasons to be upset with him.)
Shuffling uncomfortably, eyes scanning his surroundings to try and find something even remotely familiar, Eden felt suffocated under all of the layers his father had piled onto him. It wasn’t even that cold, but his dad had panicked when Eden had tried to step out of the house with only a light jacket on.
Eden knew his constitution was significantly weaker than his siblings, but he didn’t see how Evelyn and Cecil were both able to wear shorts and short sleeves while he was forced to wear a heavy coat and a scarf.
His hands grasped uselessly at each other. The lack of something to fiddle was only causing his anxiety and feeling of misplacement to worsen. Eden regretted listening to his older brother about putting away Momo. He didn’t care if other people here saw him with a stuffed animal, but his brother said he didn’t want Eden to embarrass him and insisted on the stuffed rabbit being hidden away.
The texture of the jacket was also starting to bother him. Eden didn’t want to sound ungrateful, but he wished his parents had bought him a smoother coat instead of the scratchy and rough one he was wearing. The feeling it had made him cringe each time it brushed against his bare skin.
Eden continued to stand there uncomfortably until his parents granted him the mercy of drawing the attention of him and his siblings.
His mother had the usual expression she did when she was nervous, a tight frown and pinched eyebrows. Eden was forced to pick apart each tiny difference in his mother’s expression since she refused to make it easy for him to tell how she was feeling. His dad didn’t require that, not that he didn’t try to hide away his more negative feelings, usually in some desire to avoid projecting those feelings onto his wife or children. But his dad was considerably worse at doing that than his mother.
Very much worse.
But his father was also nervous.
Eden had a suspicion that it, once again, had to do with him.
He wasn’t present during his siblings’ departure last year, as he had caught a nasty cold right before the 1st, but he couldn’t imagine his parents being this worried. In fact, last year they were both ecstatic, more mutely in his mother’s case. They were both happy to see their children go on their way to becoming brighter and better people.
Eden didn’t see why he was the exception.
Nor did he dwell on it too long, as his father’s voice jerked him out of his thoughts.
“Alright then, this should be simple. We’ve done this ourselves many times before and none you. Excluding a certain someone who thought it would be cool to try and go backwards.” The comment was very clearly directed towards Cecil, who was trying to act like he wasn’t there.
Eden’s mother spoke up, “We have to leave as soon as possible so we can’t escort you all in so I’ll go over the instructions I told you in the car again,” she paused, her eyes flickering over her children, “and by the looks on your faces, you have no idea what I'm talking about.” His mother said.
Eden actually did have an idea since he was too nervous to not listen to his mother describe in detail every little thing he was supposed to do.
“Cecil, Evelyn. You both are going to Eden’s trunks while Lily and Eden follow behind. When you get through, at the very least, one of you must be with Eden at all times until you get off of the train. Do you understand?”
Eden couldn’t see it since he was looking very diligently at the wooden buttons on his mom’s coat, but he knew Cecil and Evelyn were rolling their eyes as all his siblings confirmed that, yes, they do understand.
His mother scrutinized them for a moment, her eyebrows further furrowing before her expression smoothed out. She nodded once towards the divider between Platform 9 and 10 which was what Eden assumed was Platform 9 ¾.
Cecil and Evelyn grabbed Eden’s bags and went through the barrier first. Eden’s mother stopped them on the way, grabbing them both right by the platform’s entrance. She whispered something to them before briefly squeezing them into a one-armed hug and kissing their foreheads. Eden swore he saw Cecil’s ears turn pink before he was suddenly gone.
This wasn’t Eden’s first time seeing someone pass through. The years prior his parents usually dragged him along to send them off, too afraid he’d get himself hurt if he was left alone. But despite the numerous times he saw his siblings pass through, it still hurt his head. Like he still had the brain of a toddler, believing that because he couldn’t see it, it didn’t exist. He still couldn’t fully register the fact that a whole human person disappeared within mere seconds.
Eden was startled by a hand gently touching his shoulder, which jerked back when Eden jumped. He turned to see Lilian towering over him, her long black hair cause muddy shadows across her face. Her eyes were wide and her expression was pinched, why, Eden had no idea.
“Are you ready to go?”
Eden suddenly felt the coarseness of the jacket again. He felt the rough material scratch against his wrists and neck and he felt the heaviness of the scarf on his shoulders and wrapped around his neck. He felt the coat hang heavier around him, it’s small needles digging into his flesh and embedding themselves there, becoming heavier and heavier, weighing and dragging him down. The scarf turned into a viper, constricting around his neck until his windpipe shattered under the force-
“Yes.” he forced out.
Lilian’s face scrunched more before it smoothed out into her usual expression of apathy, “Don’t worry. There’s a 75% chance of you being put in the same house as one of us. You won’t be alone.”
Eden just nodded his head and walked to the platform.
Evelyn said a few nights ago that the best way to get through if you were nervous was to get a running start. Eden’s mother shushed her quickly after before telling Eden that he had nothing to be nervous about and that he just needed to walk through it.
How could he not be nervous though? What if he tried to walk through and he just hit the wall, drawing attention to himself. What if he tripped and stumbled and busted his chin or lip open. What if the portal just didn’t work for him? What if it rejected him and Eden would just be left there, standing in a dirty train station, alone with his mother and father looking at him with those pitying eyes--
Eden didn’t get to turn around before he was abruptly shoved through the barrier. He didn’t realize he had been pushed until he looked around and realized he was already through.
Cecil’s ears were still pink, as was the rest of his face, and Evelyn was talking with a smug and mocking expression. Eden walked towards them and stood to his sister’s side, waiting for Lilian to come through.
Eden listened to Cecil and Evelyn bicker, staring at the portal he just came out of and counting the seconds until Lilian came through.
He reached 37 before Evelyn jerked her head towards him, asking, “Where’s Lily? Did she already come through?”
Eden shook his head no and about 5 seconds later Lilian was through the portal.
“Wow, you sure took your time, huh,” Cecil said, any bite to the sentence immediately softened by his embarrassed, red face.
He was promptly elbowed by Evelyn at the severe look Lilian had. Lilian’s bottom lip was trembling and her fist was clenched tight around her owl’s carriage.
“Let’s go.” She grits out, immediately pushing in between Evelyn and Cecil towards the Hogwarts Express.
Evelyn took the lead, guiding them with ease onto and throughout the train. She paused at a slightly open compartment and beamed when she peeked inside. Eden also peeked inside when Evelyn moved forward. Eden saw two other girls, both he assumed to be around his sister’s age, on one side of the compartments. Her cat had been let loose and obediently sat down and curled up between the two girls. His sister had packed his and her own bags next to the other girls’ before she turned around and crouched to his height.
“Eads, I’ll keep all your stuff in here and you can just come back in and get it, Okay?” She immediately grabbed Eden’s other bag and crammed it up next to the others.
The implication that Evelyn wouldn’t be riding with them caused his skin to prickle.
Cecil scoffed, “You’re joking? You’re just going to throw the responsibility mom left for both of us onto me so you can get an easy train ride with your friends? That’s bad even for you.”
Evelyn’s face twisted, “Cecil, I’ve been worrying over him for the past two weeks! I just want to relax before we get to school! I’ve done most of the work getting them both prepared and even on the train, just watch them for the time before we get there!”
Cecil rolled his eyes, sighing, “Whatever.” before adjusting his bags in his hand and walking out.
Eden didn’t want to cause more trouble. So, he followed quietly after Cecil, Lilian following shortly behind.
They walked past a couple more compartments, Cecil, more or less, stomping through while Eden and Lilian followed behind quietly. He tried to ignore the looks they were getting.
Then they heard someone shout Cecil’s name and when Eden looked up he saw another boy around his brother’s age hanging out of one of the compartments, waving at Cecil. Cecil shouted at the other boy, a grin splitting across his face.
Lilian cleared her throat and Cecil’s smile immediately dropped. He groaned before turning to look at them.
“Listen, I love you both. But,” Cecil leaned over them, “you can survive by yourself for a couple of hours. Also, this is, like, probably the safest place you can be. So…”
Cecil trailed off, before straightening his posture. He made a vague, dismissive gesture before saying, “Scram. Get lost. There are so many carts just go find one.”
Cecil, after saying that, had no hesitation before turning quickly on his heel and jogging to the other boy’s compartment and shutting its door firmly.
‘What a good start to the year,’ Eden thought bitterly.