There was nothing particularly strange about Lauren Arrington. Her plain brown hair did not attract the gaze of passerby, her slightly plump hips did not sway in any pleasing manner when she walked, and her hazel eyes held no sort of inner light. No, Lauren was the type of girl most would consider to be completely and utterly normal.
That is, of course, for her unusual knack for getting herself into trouble.
It wasn't that Lauren looked to put herself in these situations. In fact, she rather detested being the center of attention. Which was why she was currently hanging back from the rest of her classmates as they chatted happily, exchanging summer gossip before they boarded the train to return to school. She silently pulled a chocolate from her bag, and popped it into her mouth as she leaned back against the barrier separating the platforms nine and ten.
And then, all of sudden, Lauren found herself falling painfully onto her back, and staring up at a ceiling that was definitely not King's Cross. Smoke from a large scarlet steam engine floated above her, a wrought iron archway had appeared where the barrier had been, a brown and black striped cat brushed past her on it's way across the station, and she was reasonably sure she'd just seen an owl swoop by. Which also indicated to her that she was beginning to go mad.
When she sat up and saw the large sign reading Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, she nearly screamed. Every shred of common sense that she had was crying that no such platform could exist – after all, only a moment ago she had been leaning on the barrier between platforms nine and ten, and now that had gone and turned itself into a wrought iron gate. Why did things like this always have to happen to her?
She had almost come up with an answer when a red haired boy about her age appeared in front of the gate, nearly tripping over Lauren, as she was still sitting on the floor. This time, she did scream, and the boy quirked an eyebrow at her.
"Not quite used to all this yet, huh?" he said, offering her a hand up. "Well, I'm told it all becomes second nature pretty fast."
Lauren took the hand, and stared at the boy. "All what?"
He gestured around him. "All this. I imagine it's all very strange, growing up around Muggles. I didn't, of course, so--"
The boy now looked confused. "You know, non-Magic folks. Didn't they explain all this to you in your letter?"
"The one that said you'd been accepted to Hogwarts."
"I didn't get any letter."
"They why are you here?"
Suddenly, the boy seemed to understand. His jaw dropped, and he looked horrified over the things he'd just said.
"If you didn't get a letter, then you shouldn't be here. It could be dangerous for you," he told her.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, there are people here who don't like," he paused, choosing his words, "you know, your kind."
"Muggles," Lauren said, and the boy nodded.
"You're sure you didn't--?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
He cocked his head a little as he looked at her, then he moved aside and said gently, "Well then, you'd best get back to your platform."
Lauren, looking incredulously at the apparently solid metal in front of her, didn't move. "Go on," the boy urged. "It's easy. You just step through."
Tentatively, Lauren brushed her fingers against the iron. It felt real enough, but the more pressure she put on it, the more she could feel it giving way. Just as she was disappearing, she turned around again. "Wait, I didn't get your name."
The boy looked at her sadly. "Sorry," he said, twirling a little stick of wood in his hands. "It's Charlie." And then he pointed the wand at her, and muttered "Obliviate."
Lauren picked up the chocolate wrapper she'd dropped next to the divider on the platform, and dropped it casually into the rubbish bin. There was nothing at all extraordinary about her, nor about the way that she smiled to herself as she recalled the most wonderful daydream she'd just been having.
What was extraordinary was how, several years later, when a group of strangely dressed men in black robes and masks attacked the café she was sitting in, she remembered that the name of her savior was Charlie.