I really should learn to not write multiple stories at one time. Oh well, more fun this way.
Harry Potter doesn't belong to me!
October 31, 1998
Diagon Alley never lost its hustle and bustle. It picked up speed towards the end of summer when all of the Hogwarts letters were sent out. Hordes of children accompanied by loved ones swarmed to purchase supplies. Christmas holidays brought in a surge of frenzied shoppers. Even in the down times, which after the two busiest times seemed calm to denizens of the Alley, excitement was around every corner.
However, the war changed it, and it isn't what it was. Three years laughter and joy echoed off the walls of stores from eager students. War escalated, and the merriment subdued a mere two years ago. Only Weasley Wizard Wheezes had the exuberance of youth and life. This last year, no one lurked out unless they were in tightly-knit groups. A feeling of wrongness is present, even with the war months dead. It comes from the rubble of Gringotts, the ransacked shop that Ollivander is trying to salvage. Now the famous joke shop that was said to have rivaled Zonko's sits abandoned by its sole owner. Boards haphazardly cover the glass.
Now silence and solitude are the norm. Today, well now, today is an anomaly. A symphony of cracks, pops, and the whooshes of Floo precede a multitude. Tom doesn't bother to ask them what they want. He's gone, swept up with the others. Cloaks of black, brown, grey, and somber shades of Hogwarts House colors belie the clothing underneath. Elderly witches and wizards are decked out in their finest robes in their richest colors. Students, let out for the momentous day, have cloaks with their House's insignia on the left breast. Underneath were outfits from the Muggle world; none mismatched. A few adults 'tutted' and muttered about "the getup that Muggles wear" as small talk. They are the bridge between old and young. A harmony of Wizard and Muggle wear has become their style, and they've done their best, but a few mismatched items elicit stifled giggles from the students.
The sea of bodies flow to a part of Diagon Alley where a great many shops were destroyed by Death Eaters. Now the cobblestones have been cleaned and the rubble Banished. Pristinely clipped grass meets the cobblestones and extends as far as the eye can see. Rows of folding chairs are arranged around a magnificent black wall in the middle of the field. It didn't connect to anything and from the shadows, it seemed to jut out and retract in certain parts.
The chairs are set up on bleachers as if it were a magnificent sports arena. Golden ones, the closest to the wall, rest on the grass and are guarded by a plethora of magnificent Patroni. A stag, otter, Jack Russell terrier, hare, horse, vulture, tabby cat, and lynx lead the army which numbers around fifty. They let in the Hogwarts professors, a group consisting of students and adults bearing a Galleon with the numbers 31101998, and a red-haired family of six accompanied by two ethereal blondes. A few of the Galleon-bearing cast Patroni that join the honor guard. Others summon theirs to whisper to them before Apparating away. Quickly, they return with befuddled guests, obvious to all of the magical folks present that the newcomers are Muggles. Now, another group, a ragtag bunch, are let into the reserved seats. Those seated there snap up and salute, resulting in an amused salute in return. Hands are shaken, backs are clapped, and many heads of hair are tousled.
Behind them are silver seats with students' names on them in House colors. All of them were on bleachers. Proudly the Hogwarts crew took their seats. Casual chatter masked their somber eyes. Some had Muggle relatives next to them who were warmly greeted.
White chairs are the majority on the field. It's general seating on a first-come, first-served basis. On first sight it doesn't seem that there are enough people in the Wizarding world to fill them. But oh do they fill! The fact that all of Wizarding Britain has taking a holiday becomes apparent. Some people, desperate to have a spot, mount their brooms and hover above the crowd. A few brave souls try to hover above the golden seats, but the swan Patronus, aided by a bat, owl, Thestral, and a few other Patroni charge up to meet them. A lilting Scottish voice of a young woman snarls at them, "Not on my life buster." Then the unfortunate fliers become the target of the angered Patroni. Hurriedly they retreat, being pushed back farther than most of the mounted audience.
Slowly, as if in anticipation, the crowd lulls itself into a silence. A bell tolls ten times.