The Other Side

It was yet another day in the busy streets of London. People filled the streets, busying themselves with their almost certainly monotonous daily tasks. Distant sounds of buses and cars created a dismal cacophony of meaningless background noise. It was hard to see anything through the mist; people, lights and colours were blurring together into a dull greyish blend. Though, if one cared enough to look, they might see two small figures, a boy and a girl, walking quickly along the wet sidewalk.

The girl was brightly dressed (today in a sharp green), and was easier by far to distinguish amongst the sea of people clothed to match the colour of the sky above them. The boy, however, wore clothes of considerable contrast - dull hues of grey and black, and if one looked at his feet they would see a pair of tattered, worn socks tucked neatly into his equally worn shoes. The two children were hand in hand, chatting idly as they made their way to King's Cross Station. An adult couple just behind trailed after them pulling a pair of identical trunks, smiling bemusedly at the pair of them.

"Did you remember to bring your train ticket?" the boy asked the girl.

"Severus, what makes you think I would forget something so incredibly important?" countered the girl, with a mock toss of her head. Her hair fanned out behind her, and the boy stopped for a moment to watch it with a twinkle in his eyes. She reached into her pocket, and out came a small ticket just big enough to fit into her palm, which read in clear bold letters, "Platform 9 3/4".

The boy named Severus merely smiled back at her. They had by this time made their way into the station, and he stared at the clock on the wall. His eyes widened slightly and he grabbed the girl's wrist. "Come on, or we'll be late!" he admonished, as they began to walk a bit faster. The girl's eyes widened in a similar fashion and she turned back to look at her parents, who, by this time, were pushing trolleys loaded with their trunks. "Mum! Dad! Hurry up, the train's going to leave any moment now!"

The four of them ran until Severus abruptly skidded to a halt in front of a large, very solid, brick wall. "Here it is," he said, gesturing towards it. The girl and her parents stopped behind him and looked the wall up and down.

"How is this wall going to get us to the Hogwarts Express?"

"Lily, this is the wizarding world, remember?" Severus reminded her. "You saw what it looked like back at Diagon Alley. Trust me. All you have to do is run towards this wall and it'll take you there. I'm positive, I read all about it."

"You're positive?" she repeated, incredulously. Severus could tell that as much as Lily wanted to believe that he was right and she wouldn't kill herself running into a brick wall, she looked like she couldn't quite get her head wrapped around it. "Sev, if I run into that wall and die of a concussion, I just want you to know that I swear I'll come back and haunt you until the day you die."

Lily's parents raised their eyebrows at each other. "That can't be right," said Mrs. Evans. "Lily, give me your ticket. I'll go and ask the officer over there."

"No!" said Severus, afraid of what might happen if Lily's parents went and asked an officer for what seemed to be a non-existent train platform. "Look, can I have my trolley, please, Mr. Evans? I'll go first and you can follow right behind me. We aren't going to crash, I promise you." Shaking his head slightly in disbelief, Mr. Evans decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and pushed the trolley towards him. Severus caught it before it could veer past him and took it in his hands. Taking a few steps back, Severus stared at the wall, looking as if he were sizing it up, then ran headlong towards it, faster and faster, until...

"Wow!" said Lily. "Did you see that, Dad? He went right through it!" She ran to the other side of the wall and returned quickly, her hair bouncing around her as she did. "And he didn't come out of the other side, either. Come on!"

Somewhat reluctantly, her parents nodded, and the three of them stepped backwards, braced themselves for what was to come, and ran towards the wall, waiting for the crash which never came.

On the other side of the wall, Severus gasped as he took in the scene around him. Wizards and witches strolled along the platform, unloading their trolleys, hugging their children, and ever so occasionally, chasing after a troublesome familiar which had escaped from its cage. The Hogwarts Express, with its bright red paint gleaming in the light, stood proudly next to the people there, and the sign which bore the name of the platform above him told Severus that he had come to the right place.

He heard the sound of wheels screeching behind him, and only had enough time to get out of the way before he saw Lily and her parents hurtling out of the wall they had just run through. Lily had her eyes closed, but as soon as her feet ground to a halt, they opened. Her eyes glittered as she saw the platform for the first time - the people, the train, the children – and she gave a little hop as she punched the air, punctuating her actions with one word: "Yes!"

As soon as they had placed their trunks in their respective places on the train, Lily and Severus ran to the nearest door onto the train. "Lily!" her parents called, and Lily turned to run back towards them. Severus turned, too, and quietly watched as Lily's parents gave her an affectionate and loving embrace. Mr. Evans kissed her cheek as Mrs. Evans said into her ear, "Take good care of yourself whilst you're away, will you?"

Lily answered with a nod of her head. "I'll write to you, as often as I can."

Lily's parents looked back onto the platform, their eyes searching. Severus looked around, hoping to aid them in whoever they were looking for, until he suddenly noticed their eyes on him. Mrs. Evans gave him a warm smile, and beckoned him towards them. Severus looked behind him to make sure they weren't beckoning to someone else, but only saw the red train door at his back. Cautiously, he walked towards them, hands clasped behind his back, feeling just a little shy. Lily's parents hugged him too, and Severus couldn't help but return the gesture, revelling in the unfamiliar sensation of having people who cared about him. He felt a small tickle next to his left ear. "Take care of Lily for us too, Severus," whispered Mr. Evans. "She could use a friendly companion in school."

Extricating himself from the tight hug, Severus looked Mr. Evans in the eye and said with a determined finality about him, "Always."

The whistle blew and the two children got onto the train as the wheels began to turn. With one last look back at her parents, Lily blew them multiple kisses while Severus waved until he was half-sure his arm was about to fall off. The train started, turned the corner, and the platform with all the people on it disappeared into the fog.