Disclaimer: Not mine
Hermione walked along Diagon Alley listening to the footsteps echo back to her. She had never seen it like this, without the shop windows full of the latest products, without the bustle of the early morning shoppers. When she first walked through the Leaky Cauldron she had felt a wave of nostalgia sweep through her, but here she felt only sadness and overwhelming loss.
Everywhere she looked images flashed in front of her eyes and awakened memories she had forgotten. Some she remembered in pain, some brought a smile to her face, but all she thought of quickly changed to the next as she walked on.
Most of all she remembered Ronald. She saw him as she had seen him all those years ago, with his nose pressed against the glass in awe at the newest broom. She saw him running with Harry, afraid of Molly's wrath if they were late. She saw him standing outside of his brother's shop shooing James off to home, Lily standing on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek goodbye and Albus stepping back least he get a hug in public. She saw him as he had walked with Rose, on their way to pay for her wedding dress and turned to look down the pavement, expecting to see him and Hugo coming towards her.
She wanted to call out. She wanted to just once more see his face light up when he saw her as it always had. She wanted just once more to scold him about some trivial thing and watch as he gave her that damned lopsided grin. She wanted him to hold her one more time.
She was startled at the voice and spun around, nearly crying out in surprise, only to see Harry walking toward her.
"I thought I would find you here," he said softly. "Lily wants you to come home. She's worried."
"I told her I wanted to be here when it happened. I know where to stand."
"It's not safe. This has never been done. It's all theory."
"It's a good thing he isn't here to see this." She looked at the façade of the building in front of her, seeing it as it had looked when she had been a child.
"Come." Her put his arm around her waist and pulled her into a slow stroll as they meandered to the end of the pavement.
"I wish there were still time turners," she mused.
"No you don't. You could never leave the kids."
"Yes I could. They are grown and gone off on their own. I would go back in a heartbeat. I could be there when he stepped off the curb and…"
"No. Hermione, don't think like that. I was there, remember? It was too fast, there was nothing you could have done."
"I miss him," she said, her voice breaking. "I used to come here just to…to make me feel close to him. Now it's all being taken away."
"And Rose needs you. Her baby's due any time now. And Hugo has…what three now? And even my Albus would miss …"
"And they all treat me as if I am an old lady come visiting. I don't want that. I don't want to be alone the rest of my life. Harry, wizards and witches live a long time. I don't want to live a hundred years without him."
"We have to leave," he stopped and pointed to a shimmering at the tops of the roofs. "It's starting."
"How long will it take?"
"Only a few minutes for the man made structures to go, but a couple of hours to rid the place of all the magic it's stored over the years."
"I researched it you know." Hermione lifted her chin and reclaimed her professional voice. "Diagon Alley
was already a well known magical community before the Romans came. I was thinking of doing a book on it."
"You need to include a chapter on the Ministry," he said as he guided her back toward the Lead Cauldron. "That has to be next and I hear rumours that St. Mungos is moving."
"They may move them, but they won't destroy them. It's all going to the different now. It's all going to be like the Muggle world."
"There are still places like Hogsmeade."
"For now. For a few years until they… they build more towers and perfect that …that G.P.S. thing and put satellite cameras up that can see through the wards and install those damn security cameras on more streets. That's what started all this they said. When the cameras came into this part of the city."
"They tried to stop it," Harry sighed. "The courts said…"
"Soon even Hogwarts will be true ruins and not just what the Muggles see. What happens then? How do our grandchildren learn it all? What happens then?"
"What worries me is that it will be easier for another Voldemort to go unnoticed. Look what he did and people knew who and what he was. Dumbledore recognised it when he first saw him."
"We should hurry," Hermione looked up to the shimmering light that had just reached the top of the first floor. "If we have to walk through the …"
"No," Harry pulled her to the middle of the pavement and stopped. "Let's watch."
Waves of burly light radiated off the buildings reminding Hermione of heat coming off the pavement on hot summer days. She felt Harry pull her closer and knew he was feeling the same sense of loss as she.
Soon the structures seemed hazy, lost in a fog, and the cobblestones beneath their feet became translucent. Hermione could see tall blades of grass pop up where once lampposts had stood and dusty patches of ground that once the bookshop had stood on.
A warm rush of wind engulfed them, forcing them both to turn to each other, huddling against the sting of swirling sand. Lifting their heads, they were not surprised to find themselves standing in the middle of a vacant lot.
"It's so small," Hermione said, turning in a circle.
"Like the tent, remember?" Harry said, turning with her. "We need to go now. The next spell can sap you magic."
"You go on," she sighed. "Just give me a minute."
"Sure," he said, leaning down and kissing her cheek. "Ginny wants you to come back with me. She is taking it hard too."
"We can have tea. Now go."
She waited until he had walked away surprised that she could not see him walk into London only that he seemed to have walked into a fog. Turning back to the empty lot, she saw small dust eddies taking the last of Diagon Alley away as if in a small storm of protest.
Ron's voice replayed in her mind as she ran forward and stepped into the swirling dust and sand. Her hair rose and caught dry leaves and memories as the Ally shuddered in final surrender, reverberating under her feet.
She was startled at the voice and spun around, nearly crying out in surprise, only to see Ron walking toward her.
"It's too soon," he said looking at her quizzically.
"I thought I would find you here." She smiled and stepped back into a bustling Diagon Alley, feeling his arms welcome her home and saw his lopsided grin.