SIYE Time:10:32 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: 38007; Chapter Total: 853
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
Dealt with writer's block for about a month, but finally pushed through to complete a chapter I had been dreading but now feel really good about. It's a good thing I'm about ten chapters ahead of what I'm posting each week... Big thanks to everyone who reads and especially those who review! You're encouragement and support helped me push through and keep going.


The clock struck eleven while Harry was making good on his promise to save a dance for Hermione. She gushed about how kind and attentive Viktor was and how much she was learning from him. Harry's mind wandered as she tried to explain how Bulgaria and Britain were connected through the International Confederation of Wizards but was quite happy to hear her speak so excitedly about her time with Krum.

"He's such a good listener, Harry," repeated Hermione for the third time in as many minutes. "You can tell he cares about what I'm saying and he asks such good follow-up questions and I just…" She threw her head back and grinned up toward the ceiling.

"I'm glad you're having a good time. He seems like a good bloke. Have you talked to him at all about House Elves?"

"Not yet, but I'm waiting for the right opportunity," she replied. "I don't want to force the issue with him, but having someone famous like him supporting the cause could be a big deal!"

"Don't want to force the issue, huh?" Harry gave her a wry smile. "I seem to remember you 'forcing the issue' with a number of other people…"

"Oh, don't you start!" she said as she swatted his arm. "Have you and Ginny had a good time so far?"

"Yeah, we've had a lot of fun. Err, I think she has. I know I liked dancing a lot more than I thought I would."

"From what I saw of her, I think she's enjoying herself, too."

"Well, from the looks your date has been giving me, I get the feeling he'd rather like to get back out here with you." Viktor was looking at them from behind the several girls who were attempting to chat him up or pull him towards the dance floor. "I'm going to go check on Ginny so that you can go save him. Thanks for the dance, Hermione!"

She gave him a sisterly hug before quickly walking back toward Viktor, who looked relieved as he excused himself from the contingent of now-disappointed girls. Harry found Ginny talking animatedly with the five other third-year girls who'd been invited to the ball. Her eyes were alight with mischief as he arrived at the table.

"Harry! Perfect timing!" Her tone was conspiratorial as she began to whisper, "I just saw George and Angelina slip out the doors heading outside. My dear older brother has been giving me a hard time about coming to the ball with you."

Harry looked alarmed before Ginny reassured him, "No, no, it was all in good fun, but I've been looking for a chance to pay him back. You up for it, or are you too scared to sneak around without an invisibility cloak?" She raised her eyebrows at him in challenge.

"I'm not scared, but I do have a healthy amount of respect for the pranking abilities of the twins. What are you thinking in terms of payback?"

"Let's walk and talk." Ginny waved to the others as she started towards the doors with Harry. "I figure that if we're precise about it, we could use a quick 'Wingardium Leviosa' on the snow under George. Imagine the look on his face if he were in the middle of trying to chat up a certain quidditch captain when a sudden influx of snow found its way into his underwear."

Harry snorted as he held the door. "Ginny, I fear you might be the most dangerous Weasley of all. Remind me not to get on your bad side." He followed Ginny as she stealthily moved behind a shrubbery, then crept to the large tree under which they had sat with Luna. With a single finger over her lips, she peered around the tree trunk. Seated on a bench beyond a statue of a reindeer were two immense figures gazing at a water fountain. Before Ginny could redirect Harry in a different direction, he heard Hagrid's voice call out pleadingly.

"Wait, please! Don' go yet! I've never met another like me before."

"Anuzzer like you? What do you mean by zat?"

Both Harry and Ginny held their breath, not wanting to alert the two that they'd stumbled into such a private conversation. Harry fidgeted in the cold stillness, while Ginny stared at a beetle that was crawling on a nearby tree limb.

"A half-giant, like me, o' course!"

Ginny's hand covered her mouth as she silently gasped.

"You presume to say zat I am 'alf giant? Zees is unbelievable!" Madame Maxime rose from her seat on the bench. "I cannot believe you would insult me in such a way! 'Ow dare you?" The sound of an open hand striking a cheek echoed off the stone wall of the castle. The Beauxbatons headmaster stormed up the path back to the doorway without noticing a mortified Harry and Ginny hiding behind the tree.

As the great doors slammed shut, Harry and Ginny tentatively looked at the silhouette of their friend and professor. His shoulders were slumped and he made no sound. Hagrid stayed on the bench for a few long minutes before he rose to his feet and began to trudge through the snow toward his hut. By the time he rounded the corner of the castle, Harry thought he could hear a large sniffle.

"Harry, I think we should go…" Ginny whispered even though there was nobody else nearby. She sounded deeply uncomfortable about something.

"Yeah, sure," replied Harry quietly. She didn't meet his eyes as she walked back toward the doors. "Err, Ginny? Is everything okay?"

"I just had no idea that Hagrid…" She looked for reassurance from Harry, but found him only looking back at her with a blank expression. "I guess it must be different for you, not having grown up with magic. My brothers would tell scary stories about giants, how vicious and terrible they were. They talked about them tearing people in half and eating them…"

She had stopped in her tracks as she explained but was shivering as she spoke. Harry didn't know if it was because of the cold or from being so shaken.

"On some level, I know that they were just trying to rile me up. And I've got Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures, so I know he'd never hurt a fly. But even so…" Ginny looked imploringly at Harry, willing him to understand. "It's a way bigger deal in the magical world than I can say. If word of it got out, there'd be calls for him to be fired."

"I guess that explains why he's never mentioned it," said Harry, feeling a bit defensive about the person who introduced him to magic. "I just feel bad for him for how Madame Maxime treated him. Hard to believe that she's not half-giant if Hagrid is. She's even taller than him."

Ginny nodded. "The poor guy… It must be hard to not have anyone you can talk to, then think you've found a kindred spirit, only to get shot down like that. He's probably lonely."

Harry considered the point. "Yeah, he probably is. Maybe that's why he loves animals so much. They don't judge him by his size, just by how he treats them."

"And maybe that's why he looks for the good in creatures that most people fear or hate? He can see the good in them, just like he wants people to see the good in him." Ginny's teeth looked to be on the verge of chattering from the cold as she spoke.

"Oh, I didn't even think about how cold it is out here!" exclaimed Harry. "Let's get inside and warm up. Everything should be winding down pretty soon. Unless you still want to find George?"

She shook her head with a smile. "If he's convinced Angelina to give him the time of day, who are we to stop them? Plus, I wouldn't mind her hanging out around the Burrow more often."

"Then let's go!" Harry grabbed her hand and pulled her through the doorway, back into the warmth of the castle.

The Great Hall had cleared significantly by the time the two Gryffindors reappeared. Many of the students had taken their leave, while several of the remaining couples had abandoned all pretext of dancing and had locked lips as far from staff eyes as possible.

When the main singer for the Weird Sisters announced that they were gearing up for the last song of the night, Harry gave Ginny a look. "What do you say? Head back to the tower or one last dance?"

"How many chances will we ever have to dance to the Weird Sisters? I'll stay if you will."

As they began to dance, Ginny rested her head against Harry's shoulder. Her hair was still quite cold from the night air, but Harry didn't mind as they gently moved about the dance floor. As he caught a whiff of something flowery and familiar, a soft smile emerged on his face.

"Hey, Harry?" Ginny spoke quietly, and he could barely hear her over the music. "Thanks for inviting me to come with you. I've had a really great time."

"Glad to get to bring you, Gin. I had a lot of fun, too. I couldn't have asked for a better dance coach."

"Well, I'm glad you were a fast learner."

Like a bolt, a thought occurred to Harry: the evening had gone remarkably well. He and Ginny were on a date, even if it was supposed to be a friendly one. They had danced together quite a bit, and now she was resting her head against his chest while the final song of the night played. He glanced to and fro, spotting multiple other couples who apparently had already thought through these kinds of implications and were acting on them. Surely, the halls and corridors were already littered with students who were spending quality time together.

His heart pounded a little harder in his chest, and he hoped against hope that Ginny didn't suspect why a small panic had gripped him. Harry's mind raced as he imagined how to extricate himself if he'd given Ginny the wrong idea. What if she tried to kiss him? Should he go along with it?

The damned memory of his older self with an older Ginny flashed in his mind, but he forced himself to focus on the present. The last song was drawing to a close, but he felt no certainty about what to do next.

Ginny gave a long, contented sigh as she and Harry came to a stop. "This has been such a good night, but I'm dead on my feet. Mum sent me heels so I wouldn't be at eye level with your navel all night, but they hurt really bad. Are you ready to head back to the tower?"

"Sounds good to me. Although I didn't think you were that short, right?"

She arched an eyebrow at him as she reached down to remove one shoe, then the other. She then stood up to her full height. "Without these, I would have barely been able to reach your shoulders to dance. My arms would have fallen off from being held straight up!"

"Oh, you're exaggerating and you know it!" The two began walking up a flight of stairs toward the tower, Ginny with her shoes still in her hands. Despite Harry's worries, they only ran into a few students snogging in the corridors, and both of them descended into fits of laughter after passing some of their more amorous fellow students.

As they climbed into the common room, the flicker of the fire cast a warm orange glow on the two of them. Harry hadn't come up with a real plan to end the night yet and kept thinking of more and more implausible ways that it could happen for him. As he considered the possibility of Sirius dragging him away in dog form as he'd done Ron in the spring, he found strong arms wrapped tightly around his midsection.

"This really was an incredible night, Harry! Merry Christmas!"

She gave him one extra squeeze before releasing him and turned to bound up the stairs to her dormitory.

Before she reached the first landing, he heard himself call out without conscious thought, "Hey Ginny?" She stopped and peered down at him.

"Merry Christmas, Gin." She beamed at him before disappearing up the stairs.

The day after Christmas, Harry made his way to the Great Hall for lunch, having slept well past breakfast. He plopped down next to Ron, who was just finishing up his first course. As Harry groggily spooned potatoes onto his plate, Hermione and Ginny sat down across from them.

"Good morning," said Harry as Hermione hoisted her book bag onto the table.

"Good afternoon, Harry," replied Hermione while Ginny let out a small laugh.

Ron looked up from his lunch with a bit of hesitation. "I ended up going back to the tower after dinner last night since I wasn't very interested in dancing." His cheeks took on a twinge of pink, but he kept his tone casual. "How'd the rest of the night go?"

Ron's eyes had latched onto Harry, who couldn't help but wonder if his friend really wanted to know the details. "I thought it went really well. We danced some more and listened to the music. Oh!" Harry suddenly considered the conversation between Hagrid and Madame Maxime that had kept him from sleeping well the night before. He glanced to the left and right to see if anyone was listening. "Ginny and I heard Hagrid talking to Madame Maxime about something in the courtyard."

The two of them recounted their attempt to prank George and how they'd stumbled into the conversation. Hermione didn't react much to the news, but by the end of the story, Ron's eyes were wide and he had a vacant look about him.

"I think I kinda suspected something like that," said Hermione tentatively. "I mean, he's certainly massive enough. He couldn't be full giant; they're usually 20 feet tall, but half-giant makes sense."

"Shhh!" whispered Ron. "Don't say 'half-giant' too loud. You two don't understand 'cause you didn't grow up around magic. Giants are feared for a reason. They've all been driven out of Britain, but they… They kill just for the fun of it. If word got out that…" his eyes darted toward the staff table where Hagrid's seat was empty. "If people knew about this it'd be a huge deal."

"I was trying to explain it to Harry last night," continued Ginny. "We all know him well enough to not let it bother us, but a lot of giants joined You Know Who during the war. It was really bad and people are still scared of them."

"I just feel so bad for Hagrid about how she treated him," mused Hermione. "He really deserves better than that."

Harry saw someone approaching their table out of the corner of his eye and quickly signaled for his friends to cease their conversations. When he looked up, he found Cedric Diggory walking toward them.

"Hey Harry! Missed you this morning. I was hoping we could talk for a couple of minutes?" His demeanor seemed relaxed and his tone was friendly.

"Okay, sounds good." Harry grabbed one last bite of his potatoes before standing up and following the older boy toward a nearby hallway. Cedric ducked into an empty classroom and Harry did the same. Once the door closed behind them, Cedric began to speak.

"So, I wanted to thank you again for the tip about the dragons. I dunno what I would have done if I'd just learned what we were facing a few minutes before getting thrown out there, but I don't think it would've gone well."

Harry shrugged. "Just seemed like the right thing to do."

"Well, in that case, I figured maybe I could repay the favor. Have you figured out the clue in the egg yet?" The look on Harry's face was all the confirmation Cedric needed. "Okay, here's the deal… It just shrieks when you open it, right? If you take it with you for a bath and mull it over, I think you'll figure out a solution."

Harry was very confused as to how this constituted a repayment of the favor. Harry cocked his head to the side and looked rather incredulous. "You're saying I should take a bath with the egg?"

"Yep! Just that simple," replied Cedric. "Oh, and I'm guessing your dorms don't have bathtubs in them either. Ours don't. But the Prefect bathroom on the fifth floor has a huge tub you can use. It's the fourth door on the left and the password is 'Pine Fresh.'"

Cedric leaned back on his heels and looked rather pleased with himself. If this was his idea of a prank, Harry thought he had a long way to go before reaching the rarified air of the Weasley twins. "Err… Great. Thanks for the tip."

"Best of luck! I'm still going for the win, but I figure I'd rather have a Hogwarts victory either way. See you later, Harry!" He left the classroom and made his way toward the Hufflepuff table, leaving a flummoxed Harry in his wake.

Hermione, Ron, and Ginny all looked to be waiting with eager anticipation as Harry returned.

"Oi! What'd he want with you?" asked Ron.

"Well, he said he wanted to return the favor since I gave him a heads-up about the dragons. He told me to take a bath with the egg, and that would somehow help me figure out the clue."

"You told him that the first task was going to be facing dragons, and he repays you by saying 'take a bath'?" Ginny scoffed.

"Harry hasn't even tried it out yet, so we don't know how helpful the clue will be," chided Hermione. "Have you made any progress on the egg yet?"

Harry shook his head ruefully.

"Now at least you've got a lead to follow! The question is, where could you find a bathtub to use?"

"Cedric actually pointed me in the right direction on that. He gave me the password to get into the Prefect bathroom, so I figure I'll try it out there first." Harry's memory of Dumbledore warning him to prepare well in advance flashed in his mind. "I'll try it out tonight and see if his hint is worth anything."
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