SIYE Time:9:51 on 3rd December 2023

Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory
By Forge2

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Category: Post-HBP
Genres: Action/Adventure, General, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 198
Summary: After the horcrux hunt implodes leaving most of those Harry loves dead, he starts a new life with a few fellow survivors far away from wizarding Britain. But the discovery of an ancient ritual that promises to send a single memory back in time sparks hope that maybe things can change. Dark ending to DH followed by a tweaked retelling of GoF through DH. Harry/Ginny. Friday updates.
Hitcount: Story Total: 37989; Chapter Total: 881
Awards: View Trophy Room


In the corner of the Gryffindor common room, three friends spoke in hushed tones. A fire was crackling in the fireplace, adding a warm glow to the trio.

"So, Dumbledore swore you to secrecy about this rogue memory?" Hermione was not pleased about a lack of full disclosure.

"Yeah, he was pretty adamant about not telling anyone until he'd done more research." Harry did his best to sound frustrated about the predicament, but inside he felt a bit of relief to have an excuse not to share the details. His voice became even quieter. "It seemed like he might let me tell you eventually, but he thought it was related to Voldemort."

"But you're sure it wasn't an attempted possession like you thought at first?" Ron was clearly trying to keep his tone from sounding panicky but had obvious concern.

"No, Professor Dumbledore seemed pretty certain that it was a memory, even though neither of us could pull it out to watch it in the Pensieve."

"If you weren't able to look at it, did you describe it to him?" Hermione asked.

"Basically, yeah. I just sat there and did my best to recount what I remembered, even though I'd never done what I was doing in the memory."

"Wait a sec, what do you mean by what you were doing in the memory? Were you in the memory? Is it something you've experienced before?" Hermione was sitting straight up by now and examining Harry as if he were a specimen under glass.

"Well, err, that's kinda what I'm not supposed to say…" Harry fumbled his words as he tried to find a way to right the ship. "Okay, I shouldn't say more than this, but I am a part of the memory, except it's not me when I'm younger. It seems like a memory of me that hasn't happened yet."

Hermione let out a small gasp. Ron looked stricken as he spoke. "Harry, you can't mean… Could you have been messing around with a time-turner?"

"No, he can't have. They're heavily regulated and nearly impossible to get, plus they don't work that way. There's got to be something else to it, though…" Hermione looked at the fire as she murmured to herself about time being tricky and unpredictable. Ron gave Harry a smile as she seemed to be thinking through everything she'd ever learned about time. With a jerk of her head, she turned back to Harry.

"In this memory, are either of us there?" She indicated herself and Ron, whose eyes lit up at the question.

Warmth spread to Harry's cheeks as he realized that his friends were knocking on a door that he wasn't interested in opening.

"That's kinda the stuff Dumbledore wanted me to keep secret…" Imploring looks from Hermione and Ron broke Harry almost immediately. It was just too good to have both of them by his side again that he didn't want to deny them. "Okay, okay! But no more after this! Neither of you are in the memory. Happy?"

Ron immediately asked, "Is You Know Who in it?"

Harry rolled his eyes as Hermione attempted to give Ron a scolding look, but her curiosity had peaked and she couldn't contain herself.

"No, he's not, and that's all I can say!" Harry's voice raised slightly as he tried to prevent himself from divulging any further secrets which he'd promised to keep to himself an hour beforehand.

"Alright, alright, my bad!" Ron was apologetic. Hermione offered, "We're just so interested! Is there anything else he said to you that you can talk about?"

"Actually, yeah," replied Harry. "He suggested that I try to get extra help in preparing for the second task. He was a bit cagey about it, since he didn't want to help me directly, but I got the feeling he wanted me to talk to Professor Lupin and Sirius about the egg and the task, and that I should get help from the professors to train once I know what kind of spells I need to practice."

"That's brilliant! Since Professor Lupin doesn't work for the school, he could help you out, no problem! And I bet Sirius could come up with some great ideas!" Ron was already enthusiastic about the option.

"It might be hard to contact Sirius safely right now, but I agree that Professor Lupin would be helpful…" Hermione considered the two. "I'm more excited about the prospect of special training with the professors. I'm glad that we're both proficient in summoning charms, but I'd be happy to have experts helping you prepare for the next task."

"For sure. He also warned me not to procrastinate on the task. He didn't say it outright, but I think he wanted me to believe it'll be more difficult than the first task."

"Bloody hell! How much harder can things get? You had to get past a dragon!" While the idea of facing danger and difficulty beyond a Hungarian Horntail felt grim, Harry couldn't help but be buoyed by Ron's indignation on his behalf.

"And that was it, Harry?" Hermione was dead set on mining for every available detail.

"Mostly. When he was after me about not putting off the task, he added that I shouldn't wait until the last minute before finding a date to the Yule Ball, either."

"That's good advice, Harry," stated Hermione in a rather matter-of-fact tone. "Lots of girls like to coordinate their dresses to match their dates, so the earlier a boy asks, the easier it is for her to figure things out."

"And if you wait too long, all the good-looking girls will be taken," said Ron with a laugh. "Imagine having to go with Eloise Midgen!"

"Ronald Weasley! Eloise is such a nice girl! It's terribly rude to say something like that about her!" She turned toward Harry. "I hope you won't pick a partner based solely on who the prettiest witch you can find, like some insensitive berks!"

She stormed across the common room and up the stairs to the girls' dormitories.

"What was that all about?" asked Harry in the wake of her departure.

"I dunno, but I stand by what I said…" He scrunched his nose. "Mostly. I figure you oughta figure out who to ask and do it quick before some other bloke beats you to it. Any idea of who you're gonna ask?"

Harry didn't notice the nervousness in his friend's voice as he scanned the common room. He saw Parvati and Lavender chatting animatedly on a couch and several first and second-year students gathered around a game of Exploding Snap.

In the opposite corner of the room, he saw his quidditch teammates sitting at a table and laughing at something. Angelina Johnson's tall frame and braided black hair stood out next to the shorter Alicia Spinnett, whose hair was much lighter and cut above her shoulders. Katie Bell was barely visible behind them, though her distinctive laugh confirmed to Harry her presence in the group.

As he watched, Harry made to answer without meeting Ron's eyes. "Uhh, I dunno yet. I kinda figured that if I'm not exactly looking to date someone, I might just see if someone would go with me as a friend."

"Oh, like Hermione or somebody?" The tension in Ron's voice would have been unmistakable had Harry been paying attention, but instead, his focus was on a redheaded girl who had apparently been hidden from view behind Angelina.

Without thinking, Harry replied, "Err, no. Not really. Going with Hermione would be…" He searched for the word. "I dunno. But I wasn't planning to ask her."

A silent sigh escaped Ron's lips as Harry watched Ginny laugh with the older girls from the team. "I thought you might think of asking Cho? She's pretty and is a good seeker."

Harry suddenly regretted sharing that observation with Ron after a match the year prior. "Yeah, but I don't really know her well and she's really popular. Plus she's a fifth-year. I'm not thrilled about having to ask anyone at all, much less someone who might turn me down and then hafta ask somebody else."

Ron considered the point. "That makes sense. You'll figure something out."

The conversation turned to other topics as Ron brought out his chess board. He was so engrossed in thrashing Harry's pieces that he didn't notice the occasional furtive glances his friend made to the other end of the room.

"So everybody's staying for the Yule Ball, yeah?" Seamus had chosen the moments right before Harry drifted off to start up a dormitory-wide conversation. It was all the buzz of the school in the two days since he'd met with Dumbledore.

"I am, and so's Harry. He's got to start it off with a dance since he's a Hogwarts champion."

"I know I'll be staying," replied Dean. "What about you, Nev?"

"Figure so. Gran sent an owl saying she expects me to be there to represent the family well."

"Well then, we're five-for-five!" Seamus exclaimed. "So the question is, who're ya askin'?"

Harry covered his head with his pillow and tried to feign sleep.

"I was thinking of asking Katie, the fifth year," Dean attempted to sound nonchalant as he answered, but seemed to be a little nervous about saying it out loud.

"She's certainly a looker, but do you really want to take a girl who's better than you at Quidditch?"

"Hey, we don't know that she's better! I was thinking about trying out for a chaser spot this year before the season was canceled. I could have taken her spot!"

Ron replied, "You should lead with that when you ask her! I'm sure it'll go over well."

"Oh, suddenly Weasley thinks he's an expert on girls. So, who're you going to ask?"

The standard Weasley blush found its way to Ron's cheeks. "I'm not sure yet." His voice was much softer than it had been while mocking Dean.

"No surprise there." Dean laughed as he turned to Seamus. "Anyone you've got your sights on?"

"I caught that sixth-year Hufflepuff named Matthew giving me a look a few weeks back. He and Devon broke up back in September, so I might see if there's any interest." Seamus cupped his hands behind his head and lay back on his bed. "Longbottom? Does your Gran have a date planned for you, too? Does she require you to find a respectable pure-blood with a large estate attached to her name?"

The others laughed as Neville replied, "No, nothing like that. I don't think she cares who I bring, just that I 'uphold the family honor by presenting myself at social functions.' I don't have any idea who I should ask, though." Neville glanced away and didn't meet anyone's eyes.

"Well, here's a hint that might set you up nicely," said Dean with a glint in his eye. "If you're nervous about asking someone our year, you could always ask someone in second or third. They can't attend the ball unless asked by a fourth year or older."

"Not a bad thought, Dean." Neville as the tension in his brow began to dissipate. "I hadn't thought of that. Maybe if I asked a younger girl, she'd be happy enough about getting to go that she'd be okay with me as a date."

"What about Harry? Is he already asleep?" Harry didn't stir as the other boys looked to his four-poster. "Guess he's out. Ron, any idea who he's going to ask?"

"Not yet. But the poor bloke's gotta find somebody. McGonagall told him he and his date hafta open up the dancing and basically told him he's gotta show up with somebody."

"What if I went with him?" asked Seamus with a grin. "Think Dumbledore would have a conniption?"

"I dunno, he seems pretty cool with everything," answered Dean. "And I don't think he's ever been married. Maybe you should ask him instead, mate!"

Seamus laughed. "No way, definitely not my type. Beards are the worst."

Harry shifted under his covers as the conversation died down. He thought about the predicament before him. Dean was right: the girls in the year below theirs might be more receptive to an invitation than those who could freely attend, with or without him.

As he imagined himself asking a younger student, his mind kept returning of its own volition to the rogue memory of him next to Ginny. Truth be told, the memory was rather pleasant, and he'd spent more than just a few passing moments recollecting how some version of him seemed to be enjoying an excellent afternoon.

While he'd set aside his jumbled thoughts about Voldemort and his horcruxes for now, the words his other self had spoken seemed to be echoing in his head. "Just how happy I feel right now. And how much I wish I'd started to get to know you sooner." Harry couldn't help but think that the memory Harry had felt like he was rather happy. The feeling was palpable when he thought back to his time by the lake.

The voices of his dormmates were gone, replaced with Ron's snoring and the occasional wheeze from Neville.

Harry's mind wandered back to Ron's sister and began weighing possibilities. She was a third year, so she wouldn't be able to attend the ball if she didn't find an older date. That made it more likely that she'd say yes if he asked. Yet even Harry wasn't thick enough to have missed the fact that she'd had a crush on him back in her first year, which could make things awkward if she got the wrong impression. He certainly didn't want to upset her, and he didn't fancy facing a swarm of angry brothers, either. But his new memory did seem to indicate that he had once wished to have more time with Ginny.

He closed his eyes and remembered the floral scent when his other self kissed older Ginny's head. A smile crept onto his face.

Perhaps it would be worth the risk to ask Ginny to go with him, as a friend. He could make sure that she had someone to go with and it didn't have to be more than that. Harry let out a small, "Hmm!" as he mentally decided to make that his plan. He wasn't sure how he was going to accomplish this feat but figured he could sort that out later.

A week had passed, but Harry still hadn't made any progress toward securing a partner for the Yule Ball, and his tension was steadily rising. Gaggles of giggling girls heralded that the asking had begun in earnest, and a surprising number of students could be seen holding hands now that they'd officially paired up.

Harry felt more nervous than ever. He didn't want to miss out on his chance to invite Ginny, but the whole school seemed to be going relationship mad. While he made a detour through one of the secret passageways so that he wouldn't be late to charms, he bumped into a Ravenclaw sixth-year prefect snogging a Slytherin fifth-year. He blushed furiously as he slipped past them, though neither girl seemed to notice him.

Part of his problem was that he rarely saw Ginny on her own. He certainly didn't want to pull a stunt like Ron, who had succumbed to Fleur's Veela allure and asked her to the ball loudly in the middle of the Great Hall. The stunt had not won him any goodwill from Hermione, who had done her best not to lecture him, but could occasionally be heard mumbling about how certain boys "only thought with their eyes" and "didn't deserve Eloise Midgen."

As the three friends sat down for lunch, Harry noticed that Ginny was grabbing a plate and looked to be heading outside again.

"Hey Gin!" he called, trying his best to sound normal. "Do you want to eat with us today?"

Ginny smiled brightly. "Thanks for the offer, but I promised Luna I'd eat with her today."

"Oh, alright," replied Harry as he stifled a bit of disappointment. "Is Luna your friend from Ravenclaw?"

"Yeah, she is." Ginny looked at Harry appraisingly. "I didn't think you knew her. How'd you meet?"

Harry was suddenly fumbling for answers. "Err, I don't think she and I have actually met. I just noticed you talking with a girl from Ravenclaw a few times and figured you were friends." Harry willed his traitorous cheeks to remain their usual color.

"Oh, okay." Ginny looked slightly perplexed, but not displeased. A shy smile spread across her face. "She and I eat by the big tree outside sometimes to catch up. If you want to meet her, you're more than welcome to join us."

Ron was busy piling food high on his plate. "I'm not sitting out in the cold and missing out on seconds!"

"Well, it's a good thing I didn't invite you, then." She stuck out her tongue at her brother. Meanwhile, Hermione was giving Harry a curious look.

"I'm going to eat quickly and then head to the library, otherwise I'd come with. I was going to see if Harry wanted to come work on our Potions essay with me, but it's up to you."

Harry had already been thinking that eating with Ginny might provide him with an opportunity to ask her about the dance, but Hermione's offer of Potions homework settled the matter. "We've still got a week until that essay is due. It'd be nice to meet your friend. I'll grab my stuff!"

Ron rolled his eyes and scooted down toward Dean and Seamus while Harry slung his bag over his shoulder and grabbed his plate and pumpkin juice. He followed Ginny out the doors into a crisp, autumn afternoon. It wasn't uncomfortable when he was in the sunlight, but the chill got to him when they walked through a shadow.

As they approached a large tree, Harry could see a slight, blonde-haired witch leaning against the trunk. Her uniform indicated that she was a Ravenclaw student, but she seemed very unlike the Ravenclaws he was accustomed to. Her earrings were made from butterbeer corks and her shoelaces appeared to be enchanted to coil around like little creeping vines around her ankles. In her hand was a copy of a newspaper that he'd never heard of titled, "The Quibbler."

"Hey, Luna! I hope you don't mind, but I brought a friend with me today." Ginny didn't seem to notice or care about her friend's strange appearance, so Harry decided it better not to make note of it.

"Hello, Ginny. I don't mind at all." Her voice was more than a little dreamy and Harry thought it sounded far off, somehow. "Oh, your friend appears to be Harry Potter."

"Err, yeah, that's me. Ginny told me that she ate outside with you every once and a while and thought it'd be nice for me to meet you. She said your name is Luna?" He set his plate and bag down and settled on the ground near the tree.

"Yes, I'm Luna Lovegood. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." She gazed at him and Harry felt a little bit uncomfortable. "You were close with Professor Lupin last year, correct?"

"Sure. He was way better than Quirrell or Lockhart. I learned a lot from him and… ahh…" Harry wasn't sure where the question had come from, but he felt compelled to explain. "He was actually friends with my Mum and Dad when they were in school. I'm a bit sad that he's not teaching again this year."

"I understand. I feel a certain closeness to Ginny's Mum because she and my mother were friends before she died."

Harry's eyes were suddenly very wide as he attempted to avoid spitting out his potato. "Oh, I didn't realize… I'm sorry about that."

"It's kind of you to express sympathy, even though you don't know whether my mother was a good person worth mourning or not." She took a sip of her juice as the color drained from Harry's face. "She was a good person, by the way, and an excellent mother."

Harry let out a long breath. "Ahh, well that's good to know…"

Ginny smiled at him. "Luna is a really great friend, though she can be a bit more direct than most people. She sees the world a bit differently, which is nice."

A nod was all the response Harry could muster.

For the next twenty minutes, Harry was more of a spectator than full participant in the conversation as Ginny and Luna talked about a variety of topics. Ginny would attempt to bring him into the discussion, but he felt more comfortable chewing his food and listening as the two girls talked through their shared classes and life in their dorms.

Despite her obvious quirks, Harry found himself appreciating the chance to get to know Luna. Several older students, including those in her house, had apparently been picking on her through the years, which was frustrating to Harry. While Cho wasn't one of the main instigators, she seemed to be part of the problem. Harry frowned as his opinion of the older girl took a hit, and he felt rather pleased that he'd not asked her to the ball.

"I'm sure the Yule Ball will be interesting. Hogwarts is sure to have many Polytaras flitting around on their annual migration. I asked father if I could stay for the holidays, but he had already planned a trip to Morocco. Will you be staying at school?"

Ginny's cheeks were already tinged pink from the cold, but her color reddened a bit. "Well, my brothers all wanted to attend the Yule Ball, so my parents said we'd all stay here together while they go visit Charlie in Romania." Her eyes remained unswervingly focused on Luna. "There aren't many of the Gryffindor girls in our year who've been asked to go, so I'm not sure what it'll be like, but I'll make the best of it."

"How about you, Harry?" Luna turned to him as if he'd been chatting with them the entire time.

"Well, I'm sorta required to go to the ball." He shrugged as he explained. "Professor McGonagall said that, since I'm a Hogwarts champion, me and a date hafta open the dancing in front of everyone. The thing is, I don't even know how to dance and it's not like I've got a girlfriend."

His heartbeat quickened as he continued. "I was thinking about trying to ask a friend to go with me, but I haven't exactly figured out who to ask yet."

"Oh, it's unlucky for you that Hermione's already got a date, otherwise I'm sure she would have gone with you as a friend," offered Ginny.

Harry looked over at her as if she'd sprouted a second head. "Wait, Hermione doesn't have a date, does she? She didn't say anything to me about it."

Ginny let out an "Eep!" as she clapped her hands over her mouth. "Harry, I'm so sorry, but I don't think I was supposed to say anything. I just figured that if you were asking a friend, Hermione would be at the top of your list. Please don't tell Hermione I said anything!"

His mind reeling through possible blokes who might have asked Hermione to the ball, Harry waved off her apology. "Not a problem at all, although now I'm curious about who she's going with…" A thought occurred to him. "Is she going with Ron?"

Ginny snorted. "Ron's been way too busy asking out French Veelas to see the girls right in front of him."

Harry and Luna laughed, too.

"Harry, it was nice to meet you, but I must head to Herbology. Ginny, I'll see you in Charms!" With that, Luna grabbed her things and started walking back towards the Great Hall.

"Yeah, I guess lunch is almost over, so we should probably go inside, too." Ginny's voice softened as Luna left as if a little bit of confidence had left with her friend.

Harry gulped as he began to stack their empty plates to bring inside. "Actually, err, I wanted to ask you something if that's alright?"

Harry took a deep breath as Ginny turned back towards him with a smile.

"So, like I said, I'm supposed to find a date, er, partner for the dance and was trying to think of a friend who might want to go and wouldn't mind coming with me…" How was he rambling this much? He'd rehearsed in his head a quick and painless way to ask, but it had completely vanished into the recesses of his mind. "Anyway, I was thinking that, maybe if you were interested, and since you'll be here for the holidays anyway, maybe you might come with me?"

The red in Harry's cheeks had nothing to do with the chill in the air. Luckily, Ginny didn't seem to notice. Her grin was wide as she responded enthusiastically, hugging him briefly before saying, "Harry, that'd be wonderful! I was really hoping to get to go, but I didn't think any of the older boys would ask and then I'd have to stay up in the common room while everyone else enjoyed the party…" Her brow furrowed slightly. "My Mum didn't send me any dress robes since it wasn't required for third years, but I think there's still enough time to owl her and get something figured out. What do yours look like?"

"Not sure, but your Mum picked them out for me, so I bet she knows."

Ginny had turned into a whirlwind as she grabbed their empty pumpkin juice goblets and began walking briskly toward the Great Hall. Harry followed her before she stopped in her tracks. She stared right at Harry with a dangerous look on her face. "Did the twins put you up to this?"

Harry laughed with a bit of relief. "No, Ginny, I swear. I just wanted to bring a friend and I figured you'd be a fun girl to hang out with."

Her smile returned. "Good. If this was a prank, the three of you would all have to suffer my wrath." Harry thought to himself that, even for a short girl a year younger than him, she could be fairly intimidating.

Ginny walked back into the doors as students flooded down the corridors. She called out, "See you later, Harry!" as she ducked into the mass of bodies, and Harry smiled as he watched her red hair disappear into the crowd.

Ron and Hermione both looked cross that evening when Harry dropped his bag at the table where the two were working on Transfiguration.

"Hey. How bad is it?" he asked while searching the depths of his bag for his notes.

"It's terrible! She assigned 24 inches and I'm stuck after six," huffed Ron. "It's not my fault that I'm a concise writer."

Hermione tutted as she looked back to her book. "It's not as bad as all that. Ron's just grumpier than usual."

"I am not!" shot back Ron. "And even if I was, it's because the whole school has gone spare over this idiotic Yule Ball!"

"Have all the good-looking girls been taken? Eloise is probably starting to seem like a pretty good option now, huh?"

Ron scoffed. "Look, I'm just saying that this whole thing is overrated. I mean, none of us have dates, and it shouldn't be that big of a deal."

"Actually, Ron, I do have a date," stated Hermione primly. "And I heard a rumor that Harry had found a date, too."

Ron gaped at Hermione, then at Harry before responding. "Oh, I get it. Neville finally bucked up the courage to ask you to go with him as a friend. I don't think that really counts, Hermione…"

Harry grimaced as indignation built in the chair across from him. "Ronald Weasley! I'll have you know that I was asked by someone else before Neville, but that shouldn't mean you tear down a friend and dormmate! It's no wonder you don't anyone to go with you!" With that, she stormed out of the common room.

"What's got into her?" Ron asked. "And what was she on about saying you had a date?"

Harry ran his hand through his hair. "Well, she's not wrong. You see, I was trying to think of someone to ask to go with me, just as a friend. And while I was talking with Ginny and her friend Luna, I figured out that Ginny was staying over the break but wasn't old enough to go to the ball, so we agreed to go together." Harry kept his tone casual as he pretended to be interested in his Transfiguration homework.

"You asked my sister? Harry, you're a Hogwarts champion and on the quidditch team! You coulda asked just about anyone!" Ron was flabbergasted at the news. "You don't, you know, like Ginny, do you?" He didn't seem as angry as Harry had imagined, but his tone wasn't exactly friendly.

"No, it's like I said," started Harry. "This whole thing has been so stressful, so I figured I'd ask someone I already knew to go as a friend."

"Well, Ginny'll be happy enough. Bet she was really excited about going to the ball. Just don't give her the wrong idea." Ron considered the situation. "And don't do anything that'd make me have to cream you."

"Not to worry, Ron. Any idea who you'll ask?"

Ron's gaze darted around the common room. "I don't know…"

"After the mess with Fleur, it might be worth it to think about it a bit before you ask next time."

Ron looked dejected. "I know, I know. It's just when she comes around, everything seems to go a bit wobbly."

"Maybe Dean or Seamus have an idea of which girls in our year haven't been asked yet. At least that way, you could be sure not to go after someone who already has a date."

"Good idea, Harry." He was still looking over at his shoulder across the common room, toward the stairs to the girls' dormitory. "Do you think Hermione really has a date already?"

"I reckon so," answered Harry. "But I don't have any clue who it could be."

Ron grunted in reply as the boys both struggled to make progress on their work without Hermione's aid.
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