The station was bustling with activity. Men in suits walked with powerful strides to their destinations as their briefcases swung at their side. Women in dresses and high heels weaved in and out of the crowds expertly with their heads bent low as they texted on their mobile phones. Children of all ages in their school uniforms carried heavy books and other supplies in their backpacks as they hurried to their platforms.
One family stood out from the crowd of commuters as they walked calmly but quickly to their destination. There were four girls in almost identical school uniforms walking alongside their dad. A smaller boy was holding onto the hand of his mum while he stared wide-eyed at his surroundings. The pair was lagging slightly behind the rest of their family because the little boy couldn't help but gawk at all that was around him. His little mouth was parted in awe as he looked at the crowded shops and the large number of people walking quickly through tunnels and the station's busy lobbies.
They turned a corner and he stared with wide-eyed wonder at the towering walls which held up a domed, glass ceiling. He looked at the high-speed train stopped against the platform, all shiny and gleaming, and his lips parted in a small gasp.
No matter how many times the little boy had laid eyes on King's Cross station over the years, he still couldn't get over at how large and grand everything seemed to be.
"We're here!" exclaimed the smallest of the girls. Her red curls swayed above her shoulders as she rocked on her heels in excitement. She tugged on her dad's sleeve and pointed at the stone wall which held up the signs for Platforms 9 and 10.
The man smiled softly. He shared a look with his wife who gave him a little grin. In an authoritative voice that could be heard above the din of the crowd around them, the man said, "Alright then. Hannah, you can go first. Holly and Heather will follow while I take Heidi. Mum will go with Henry."
The tallest of the girls nodded her head. She walked to the front of the barrier and glanced at her surroundings. Her long black ponytail brushed her shoulders as she moved her head. There was a shiny badge the shape of the letter "P" pinned to the lapel of her black cloak. Her white blouse was buttoned to her neck and a tie of silver and emerald gave a pop colour to her otherwise all-black outfit. When there were finally little muggles around them, Hannah walked into the wall separating platforms 9 and 10. She disappeared from sight.
The little boy was vibrating in anticipation as he watched his oldest sister go through the barrier. He couldn't wait for his turn!
"Go on then, darlings," their mum coaxed the two identical girls. They looked exactly alike, save one was wearing glasses and the other had none. Twin smiles lit up their faces and dimples appeared on their cheeks. They linked arms and walked to the front of the brick wall. They looked at each other, nodded their heads once, and stepped forward. They, too, vanished from sight.
Henry all but dragged his mum to the front of the barrier. "We're next, we're next!" he exclaimed.
Heidi giggled at her younger brother and stepped aside. Mum winked at her and she smiled wider. Her little brother was always so excitable. It was a feat that they hadn't drawn any of the muggles' attention though she had an inkling Daddy had a hand at that.
Their dad gave a hearty chuckle and nodded his head while stepping aside as well. His green eyes were shining brightly as he watched his son pull his wife towards the brick wall. The little boy didn't even wait to see if the coast was clear before he disappeared followed by his mother.
Heidi and her dad followed suit. After a quick glance around them to ensure that they hadn't caught any of the muggles' attention, they stepped forward and disappeared through the red and brown bricks.
The place beside the wall which held the sign for Platforms 9 and 10 stood empty for the whole family of seven had vanished.
The incredibly busy and incredibly lively Platform 9 and ¾ greeted his eyes when he appeared on the other side of the barrier. The bright red steam engine of the Hogwarts Express stood stationary on the tracks with all of its doors and windows opened. Students hopped on and off the train while parents helped with loading their trunks. Train attendants strolled up and down the platforms ready to assist with any matter. Owls were released from their cages so they could start their flights to school while cats were carefully ushered onto the locomotive. Shouts of well-wishes and "I'll miss you!" were heard all throughout the platform as the parents bid their children goodbye. At the same time, loud squeals of joy and laughter drifted to his ears as friends who haven't seen each other the whole summer were finally back together again.
Harry Potter felt the familiar twinge in his chest as he took in the sights and sounds. He remembered the many times he was on the platform as a child. Back then, September 1st carried a promise. It carried the promise of friendship and family. It was the day he looked forward to all summer long since it was the day he was finally going to see his friends and the day he was finally going back to Hogwarts. It was the day he was going back home.
But that's different now. While Hogwarts still held the best memories of his childhood, it was no longer his home. He felt Heidi squeeze his hand tighter as she dragged him to where the rest of their family stood. He saw his beautiful wife chatting to their twin daughters who stood on either side of her. He saw his eldest and his youngest giggling to each other as they whispered secrets into each other's ears. They and Heidi were his home now, and there was a wide smile on his face as he joined them.
"Daddy!" The twins squealed when they saw him. "Can we get our things, please? We want to let Apollo out now!" They said in perfect unison.
Harry gave a small nod of his head. He dropped Heidi's hand and grabbed his wand. In a few short seconds, all of the girls' trunks and school items, including their pets, were in front of them after being removed from the interdimensional store he kept around his wrist.
"Thank you!" Holly and Heather chirped. They carefully opened Apollo's cage and let the snowy white owl jump onto Heather's shoulder.
At the same time, Hannah stepped forward and opened Athena's cage. The brown eagle owl let out a hoot as it hopped onto her arm. The two owls rubbed their heads together before they expanded their wings and took flight. They would see the two owls at Hogwarts.
Heidi had already crouched low on the ground to take her pet out of its cage. The white Siamese cat weaved in between their legs saying her goodbyes to the rest of the family for she knew what was coming as well.
A train attendant approached their group and made quick work on all of the trunks and empty cages. He shrunk them back down and said that the kids should expect to see them in their respective dorms. He strode down the platform and began assisting another family.
The train whistle sounded twice to signal that the Hogwarts Express would be leaving in ten minutes. Harry watched as his wife addressed his kids.
"Well," Hermione Potter began. "I think it's time to say goodbye," she said with a sad smile.
There was a collective sigh of "Oh, mum!" as all of the girls surrounded Hermione and gave her a hug. Harry grinned and ruffled Henry's hair who was watching his mum and older sisters embrace each other on the platform.
"Make sure you write," Hermione said, tearily. "And I better not get any letters from the Headmistress or any of your professors," she added, sternly.
"Of course you won't!" Hannah assured.
"And you better do well in your classes!" She reminded them.
"Of course we will!" The twins chirped.
"And you better look out for Heidi!" She said. She turned to her youngest daughter who had just turned eleven that past summer and was now starting her schooling at Hogwarts. "Darling, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, but it doesn't matter what house you're sorted into. I know you were worrying about that but just look at your sisters!"
"I know, mum," Heidi said with a grin. "Only Holly is in Gryffindor since Hannah is in Slytherin and Heather is in Ravenclaw. Maybe Henry and I would be the first Hufflepuff!"
"Maybe," their mum replied. "But thankfully, your little brother wouldn't be going to school for another two years," she continued as she brought her little baby to her side. Henry turned red but snuggled into his mother.
The girls turned to their brother and said their goodbyes as well. They promised to write to him and tell him all about their adventures. In turn, he promised to send them many snacks.
Finally, the girls surrounded Harry and gave him a big embrace. Hermione watched from the side with a smile on her face. Harry absolutely adored the children and that summer was the best summer they've ever had. She and Harry were both able to take a longer break from work so they took their whole family to the Caribbean. For a whole month, they enjoyed the beach, the seafood, and the fresh air. They played Quidditch with the sand underneath their brooms and the sun shining brightly in the sky. They took diving lessons and even went parasailing, though everyone agreed that being in the air without a broom was very nerve-wracking.
While in bed, Harry had turned to her and said that he was going to miss spending time as a family. Heidi was going off to school and soon, Henry would be as well. Hannah was going into her fifth year and in two years she would be finished with Hogwarts. She had already expressed interest in continuing her studies for a potions mastery since she loved the craft. Her school of choice was in Japan. Even the twins were raving about a summer exchange program that Hogwarts recently introduced.
"They're all growing up so fast," he had said, a note of sadness in his voice.
She turned to him in the dark and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Yes, but they will always be our babies," she had replied.
Now, Hermione saw acceptance in her husband's eyes as he hugged every one of their daughters and kissed them on the forehead.
"We'll see you for Christmas," he said softly. "We'll miss you and we love you."
The girls sniffed and tearily returned his sentiments.
"It's time to get onto the train, darlings," Hermione announced. Nearly all of the students were already in compartments and only older witches and wizards remained out on the platform.
After another round of hugs and kisses and "I'll miss you"s and "I love you"s, the Potter girls boarded the train. Harry and Hermione stood on the platform waiting for 11 o'clock with Henry in between them.
"It never does get easier," they heard from behind them. They turned around and smiled widely when they saw their best friends approach.
Luna Weasley hobbled next to Hermione and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Henry saw his aunt and tried to give her an embrace as much as her pregnant belly would allow.
"Never," Harry said in agreement as he kissed Luna's cheek.
"I think I cried more than they did," Ron Weasley commented as he looped an arm around Hermione's shoulders.
"I did all of my crying last night," Hermione said. "But afterwards, I laid in bed thinking of all of the mischiefs they're going to cause. Heidi's…"
"A riot," Harry finished for her. His wife nodded in agreement.
"At least the two Professor Longbottoms would be there to keep the children from trouble," Luna said in her fairy-like voice.
"Or help them get into more," Hermione rebutted.
The blonde nodded her head once. "Indeed."
Their conversation was interrupted when the train whistle blew loudly. In the background, they heard a church bell start ringing.
If they weren't doing so already, the students aboard the train stuck their heads out of the windows of their compartments to say their final goodbyes to their parents.
Harry and Hermione saw the girls in the farthest two compartments. The Weasley children were with them.
It was too loud to hear what anybody was saying, but Henry was waving his hands wildly in the air as his sisters and their friends waved back.
The train slowly started to move. The chimney-like structure at the top of the engine spouted clouds of steam.
As the final bell tolled, the Potters and the Weasleys, as well as the rest of the people on Platform 9 and ¾, watched as the Hogwarts Express rolled out of King's Cross. They watched until there was only a speck of red seen in between the stone archway of the station where the tracks passed through.
The witches and wizards on the platform started to leave. As they passed by the group, they gave respectful nods of greeting to the Minister of Magic and the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. They also smiled at the little boy in between them.
Luna and Ron left after saying their goodbyes. Eventually, it was only the Potters remaining on the platform.
"We'll see them soon," Hermione whispered softly to her two boys. She wrapped an arm around her husband's waist while Henry hugged her side.
"I know," Harry whispered back. "But I already miss them."
"I bet they already miss us too," she mused.
Harry smiled. He took hold of one of Henry's hands while Hermione grabbed the other. Together, they turned around and started to walk to the apparition point on the far side of Platform 9 and ¾. It was time to go home.
It had been twenty-two years since the final battle and it had been the best twenty-two years of his life. He had never once imagined he would be where he was now. His days with the Dursleys were long gone, but he remembered thinking back then that there was nothing more to life than their hatefulness and the darkness of his cupboard. He was eleven, only two years older than his youngest now, when he first experienced what real friendship was like. He was eleven when he first found a home.
But even then, the feelings of security never lasted for very long. He faced trials no kid or teenager should ever have to overcome. He thought he wouldn't live past seventeen for he fully believed he had to die.
But a lot changed in twenty-two years.
He lived. He defeated the dark lord. He realized he was in love with his best friend. He became an Auror to hunt down the escaped Death Eaters and restore order to the Ministry. He saw the rebuilding of wizarding Britain. He married his best friend. He became a father. Again. And again. And again.
His past was behind him. His present, bright. His future, gleaming.
Together, the family of three apparated home.
All was well. All was as it should be.