Author's Note – I wrote this for a FicExchange – It was written for Kristine (flipflop_diva) of Hufflepuff who requested some angst with a hopeful ending. Disclaimer – If you recognize it – I don't own it.

London was burning.

Despite everything going on around him, despite the fevered process of evacuation, that was the one thing he focused on.

London was burning.

The attack at the school had devastated the forces of Light. They had been scattered to the winds, attempting to escape the oncoming Death Eaters and hoping to reunite later in a more secure location. However, not all of them had gotten out.

London was burning.

From his place on the ship, he stared at Big Ben. He focused on the clock, trying to block out the last images he had of Hogwarts. He wanted to wipe away the images of her burning towers and the bodies of her students. So many still figures strewn like matchsticks on the grounds surrounding her.

London was burning.

His eyes burned as he tried to prevent the tears from falling. During the mad flight to some kind of safety, they had lost even more. He could still feel the shock as he watched his friends being cut down. They had never expected it to get this bad so quickly.

London was burning.

Their faces flashed before his mind's eye – Mad-Eye Moody, Professor Flitwick, Ginny Weasley, Seamus Finnegan, Molly and Arthur Weasley, Cho Chang, Hannah Abbott…and Ron.

London was burning.

Although Hagrid had been his first friend, Ron had been the first one his own age. He had given Harry a place in his life, and in his family. Now, he was gone like so many others. So much blood, so much death to lay at the feet of Voldemort.

London was burning.

He could not tear his glazed and shocked eyes from the spectacle of the burning city. It seemed to represent all of his hopes and dreams, lost in the fires of war as surely as the city. He had been fearful before, but now his spirit flickered…it felt like a strong wind was trying to blow it out.

London was burning.

Even as the flame in his heart sputtered, a hand touched his arm and a voice whispered beside him.

"Harry?"

Barely moving his head, he brought his gaze around to meet the brown-eyes of his remaining best friend.

"Hermione."

Her eyes were red with weeping, and she buried her face in his shoulder. He shifted so that he could put his arm around her. Holding her tight against his side, he felt the silent outpouring of tears. He leaned his cheek against the top of her head. The two friends stood their for several long minutes alone, grieving for their loss.

London was burning.

Another hand touched his left shoulder and then moved up to brush back his hair as a comforting yet hoarse voice reached his ears.

"Hey, pup, I'm here too."

A small lift of the corner of his mouth was all he could manage, but it seemed to be enough. Sirius moved around to the railing a few feet away and stood looking back at the land they were leaving.

London was burning.

The back of a man's hand brushed along his cheek, wiping away some of the tear remnants. This voice was lower, more soft spoken.

"Harry, cub, you need to take Hermione down to get some rest."

Another lighter voice came from the other side of Hermione, its usual bantering tone lost in the weight of the moment.

"I could take her, if you'd like."

Hermione burrowed even closer to him. Harry shook his head slightly and a sigh echoed in the wind.

"All right, cub, but take her down soon."

Remus and Tonks moved to join Sirius at the railing, all three of them casting concerned looks over their shoulders even as their own eyes grew misty.

London was burning.

Harry could feel himself being surrounded. When he finally looked up, he carefully met the eyes of the others around him. He had been joined by Neville, Luna, the Weasley twins, Susan Bones, the Creevey brothers, and even a few Slytherins who had chosen to flee instead of bend the knee to Voldemort: Blaise Zabini, Millicent Bulstrode, and the Greengrass sisters. As he straightened, he saw the adults move to join them – not only Sirius, Remus, and Tonks, but also Madam Pomfrey, Bill Weasley, Charlie Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Professors McGonagall, Sprout, and Snape. This small band of the Light gathered closely together and looked back.

London was burning.

Taking a deep breath, Harry turned to face them. His eyes wet with tears and his voice heavy with grief, nonetheless, he managed to put power and force behind his words.

"We will be back."

With that one sentence, he drew Hermione away from the edge and towards the cabins, trailed by the others of the Light who had chosen to follow him. Glancing once more over his shoulder, he fixed the sight in his mind and the resolutely turned his back.

London was burning…but not forever.