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The Unsolvable Riddle

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Platform 9 3/4 was packed with young witches, wizards and their fussing parents. Laura was no exception, her mother was worrying, almost crying, even though it was her fifth year at Hogwarts. But the war having just ended, almost everyone was reluctant to let loved ones go as they had done it too many times already.

'Mother please, I'll be fine, look I've just seen Madge get on the train, can I go now' Laura pleaded as her mother straightened her skirt which went to her ankles and was tweed, frankly, it looked like something a grandmother would wear. But they had made it together  out of her grandfather's old coat, in the spirit of make-do-and-mend during the war and they were sentimental about it.

'Oh ok, I'll be letting you go then.' Said her mother reluctantly drawing away with her hands still on Laura's arms. 'I know you'll do well in your OWLs, and remember, its what my father always told me, don't worry the knowledge out of your head. '

Laura laughed. 'Mother. Just two weeks ago you were singing about living in the now' Laura looked at her mother who smiling like a shy girl as she remembered the drunken episode, fuelled by wine, which was still hard to come by, so people either rationed it or enjoyed it all at once.

'Well, there is truth in what I said then too you know. But, within reason' She pinched her daughter's cheek fondly. 'We will be here when you come back. You don't have to worry about that anymore. '

Laura looked at her mother then, and all of a sudden didn't want to go at all. 'And don't you worry about me there mother, but I know you will anyway'

'I will. Now, you haven't long left until departure. I Love you' Said her mother as they were about to part.

'I love you too. But...' Laura stopped.

'Yes? What is it?' Her mother asked, looking worryingly into Laura's face.

'You will have to let go of me if I am to go and catch the train' Laura laughed as her mother let her go, hugged her and let her go again.

'Alright, alright, goodbye. And say hello to Madge and Sarah for me.'  She kissed her daughter on the forehead who then ran to the train and waved her goodbye as they pulled away and the parents on the platform soon turned to distant  colourful dots.

As the train rattled along, Laura walked along and looked into each compartment looking for Madge and Sarah. She passed a group of Ravenclaws who she had met last year in potions, they waved. She also went past a whole carriage of Slytherins, some of whom could tolerate her and were not ashamed to be seen talking to a half blood Hufflepuff, and then there were those who went with the crowd. That would be the likes of Crabbe and Goyle. Then there were the ultimate Slytherins, mudblood hating, snake loving Slytherins. Though even then, they were far and few between, but always clustered.

After escaping that scary realm, she finally found the compartment with Madge and Sarah already there.

'There she is! Finally!' said Madge embracing her into a tight hug. 'Its been too long!'

'Madge! I can see you haven't changed at all!' Laura said as she gasped for air dramatically to prove her point. 'And Sarah... wow... you're taller than...'

'I know, I had a growth spurt' Sarah laughed and hugged Laura, practically lifting her off her feet.

'And you, you've finally grown a couple' teased Madge, Sarah joined in and Laura blushed embarrassed with a hint of pride.

There was a moment of silence that sometimes falls after friends have reunited. The phenomenon often consists  of the people involved in regaining the energy just spent on greeting loved ones and reflecting on the fact they are back together. 

'So... OWls this year' sighed Sarah. Madge and Laura were relieved too, not everything they were reflecting on was happy, there had been difficult months. 

'I know, this has to be the perfect year, studying every day' said Laura, thinking about the exams, she was scared and didn't want to let her mother down and after the past year or so, they all knew every moment of life counted.

'Everyday! Come on Laura, fifth year, we're sixteen, can't we have some fun?' complained Madge.

'We always have fun!' Laura protested as she recalled that turning Professor Dumbledore's water into rum was the most rebellious thing they had done, and he enjoyed it, so in the end the prank failed.

'There will be a spring ball this year too'

Laura hadn't even thought about that, and it was somewhere near the bottom of her list of priorities, especially since she actually nearly failed defence against the dark arts last year due to an incident involving the professor's hair. Her lack of excitement was apparently visible on her expression, which was a pained one as she was remembering the hair incident.

'Come on Laura, who do you want to ask? I want to ask Avery Parker.' said Sarah dreamily. Madge and Laura raised their  eyebrows, they wondered whether after five years Sarah would finally ask Avery out.

'I don't know, we'll tackle that hurdle when we come to it, right now there's the hair situation-' Laura was was interrupted by a knock on the compartment door by a few nervous looking second years, all from different houses.

'We're collecting for the inter-house charity event...'  The three began to empty out their pockets of any loose change. It wasn't so long ago that they were walking around with Slytherins and Gryffindors collecting for the charity which was run collectively by all four houses.

'Thank you' and they moved on to the next carriage.

'I hate the fact that that inter-house bond doesn't last till seventh year. In a year or so, they'll never speak to each other again.' said Sarah as they watched the three children walk away.

'It's just the way it is.' Said Laura. There was a momentary silence. Laura began to think about the great divide which nearly tore the muggle world apart not so long ago. Sarah looked out of the window at the passing countryside. Her father had passed away last year, and Laura and Madge didn't  know whether they should say anything  just then. The silence was thankfully interrupted by a group of passing boys and girls talking loudly about trying for the quidditch team this year.

'Oh, I forgot to tell you, we got a wireless this year. My mother's boss gave it to her.' Laura said, remembering that Madge and Sarah would be impressed by this muggle device.

'A wireless? ' Sarah asked.

'Yes, it's a radio and you can hear the prime minister's speeches and the news and-'

'You mean the radio as when you can listen to what people are saying and they're not even in the same town? That kind of radio?' Madge asked, eyes almost wide.

'Yes!'  said Laura smiling, so proud of her muggle radio.

The rest of the train journey passed in a similar manner, remembering stories from the summer which they just had to tell each other. Laura felt relieved and glad to catch up and felt like the rest of the year would be great too. The train rattled on and the first leaves of Autumn began to fall.