SIYE Time:10:46 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: 38013; Chapter Total: 892
Awards: View Trophy Room


That evening, Harry strode down the corridors of the castle with the egg under his arm and his invisibility cloak draped over himself. The quiet footsteps garnered no attention as he made his way through the empty hallway on the fifth floor. After passing the statue of Boris the Bewildered, Harry found himself in front of a locked door. He clearly spoke the password and heard the door click.

Sprawling before him was the fanciest bathroom Harry had ever seen. Everything was made out of white marble, from the floor to the sinks. A bathtub the size of a small pool lay empty in the middle of the room, surrounded by a myriad of golden taps and faucets. On the far wall hung a painting of a sleeping mermaid seated on a rock jutting out of the sea. Her delicate hair shifted with each small snore.

After experimenting with several of the faucets, which each created a different kind of bubbles along with its flow of water, Harry disrobed and took a running leap from the diving board. The water was pleasantly warm and quite aromatic. He swam back and forth a few times, reveling in the heat during a bitterly cold winter. As expected, however, no new insights regarding the cries that had emanated from the egg occurred to Harry.

He paddled his way back towards the edge where he had left the egg by his pajamas, noting with some frustration that he had splashed his own clothes when jumping into the water. He grasped the egg firmly and braced himself before opening the egg again.

The same ear-piercing shrieks from the post-task party echoed throughout the bathroom. Harry slammed it shut forcefully. With extreme care, he barely cracked the opening of the egg, only to have his ears assaulted just the same.

He pressed his hand on his face as he inhaled a long breath. Harry hadn't had high expectations about Cedric's advice, but his own lack of progress weighed on him.

"Good evening, young one. I haven't seen you here before."

Harry gasped and instinctively thrust himself under the water. After a few moments, he came to the realization that he was unlikely to be able to hide beneath the surface forever. As his head emerged tentatively, he rubbed the water from his eyes and tried to focus on his surroundings. He grabbed his glasses from his pile of discarded clothes, but didn't see anyone matching the feminine voice he had heard after affixing them in their regular position.

"No need to worry, I'm not going to hurt you."

Harry turned to see that the mermaid in the portrait had woken up. She was smiling down at him while brushing her hair with what looked to be part of a sea urchin.

"You scared me half to death!" Harry's heart rate had skyrocketed and his entire body felt on edge. He did not appreciate being surprised while separated from his clothes and wand.

"And you woke me from a most pleasant dream with that egg, so I will call it even." Her voice was serene, and Harry thought to himself that the noise from the egg would be a rather displeasing alarm.

"Sorry about that," called out Harry. He grabbed the egg, careful not to open it, and swam toward the end of the pool closest to the painting. He was careful to remain where the bubbles were most dense. "I'm supposed to figure out some sort of clue from the egg, but I'm having a difficult time with it."

"The older boy did the same thing. He was in here for hours before he sorted it out."

Harry's face brightened. "So he solved it in here? I was worried it was a big prank."

"No, he told me that a professor had hinted at bringing it in this room. That was only two days ago."

"Okay, well at least I know I'm on the right track…" He started to reach for the egg again before stopping. "Hey, I didn't catch your name. I'm Harry Potter."

"A pleasure to meet you. I am Agea Eventide." She nodded before returning to brushing her hair.

"I hope it's not too much of a bother, but I'm going to keep trying to work on this egg."

"Don't worry about it. I think I'll simply take my leave so it isn't quite so grating on my ears." She winked at him saucily before diving beneath the cerulean waves of her painting.

Over the next twenty minutes, Harry poked and prodded the egg in every way he could think of. He racked his brain for some missing piece of the puzzle that could help crack the case.

What could Cedric have meant when he had suggested taking a bath? Harry pondered the question again and again as his attempts to solve the egg proved fruitless.

"If only I'd asked the mermaid for a hint," he thought to himself. "But who knows how long she'll be gone now, and she can't even hear me since she's…"

Under the water!

He plunged the egg beneath the surface and opened it again. Instead of the screeching that had been driving him spare, a faint and melodious sound bubbled up from the water. He couldn't understand what the words were saying. He sucked in as much air as he could hold before submerging his head.

Ethereal voices filled the waters. Harry struggled to memorize the riddle they sang out before he gasped back out of the water. It took several minutes of him memorizing a few lines, climbing out of the water, and jotting them down on a spare parchment he'd had in his robes before he was confident he'd transcribed the entire clue. Without stopping to consider its meaning, he dressed, gathered his things, and set out for Gryffindor tower.

When Harry pulled off his invisibility cloak in the mostly empty common room, he noticed three students seated near the fireplace. Hermione was perusing a thick book, while Ron and Ginny were in a heated chess game that looked well-matched.

Hermione's book snapped shut as he approached. "Harry! We didn't think it'd take so long. How did it go?"

Both Weasleys brought their focus away from the board as Harry began. "I figured out how to get the clue. Had to listen to it while the egg was underwater, and it turned into a song. Reckon Cedric was right about it being easier to solve in the tub."

"So the screeching was actually the clue? What did it say?" Ron looked relieved that the task wouldn't be an assault on Harry's ears.

"I copied it all down, though my parchment got a little wet in the process. You all can take a look at it."

He withdrew the paper from his pocket and gave it to Hermione, who immediately read it aloud.

"Come seek us where our voices sound,

We cannot sing above the ground,

And while you're searching, ponder this:

We've taken what you'll sorely miss,

An hour long you'll have to look,

And to recover what we took,

But past an hour - the prospect's black,

Too late, it's gone, it won't come back."

"Well, that sounds ominous," said Ginny once Hermione had finished. "Any idea what the riddle means?"

"No idea. I just copied it down and came back to the tower. Figured four heads are better than one."

"Fair enough." Ginny looked at Hermione, who was elbow-deep in her book bag searching for parchment to use for notes. "At least we've got something to work with now. So should we start by trying to determine who's doing the singing?"

"Absolutely! Once we know what you're up against, we should be able to piece together the rest of the riddle." Hermione was copying Harry's scribbles onto a large parchment with extra margins for whatever notes she was sure to write during her upcoming research. "The first two lines are what most pertains to the 'We' who are singing the riddle…"

Harry nodded slightly. After straining to comprehend how to get the clue for quite a while, he wasn't enthusiastic about trying to solve the riddle right away. He looked from Hermione's frenzy of copying to Ginny who was trying to read over her shoulder. Ron had put away the chess set and was staring into the fire as if he could will answers to jump out of the flames. With a sigh, Harry flopped into a seat on the couch. If his friends were this eager to help, he wouldn't protest.

As the new term approached, four Gryffindor students found themselves spending an inordinate amount of time in the library. Harry had sent off an owl to Sirius the day after taking the egg to the bath. It wasn't quite as long as his nearly novel-length letter detailing the play-by-play of the first task, but it outlined their progress on the riddle and the immediate challenges ahead.

Tackling the second task was daunting, but the addition of Ron and Ginny made preparations much more enjoyable. Harry was exceedingly grateful for Hermione's talent in research and training him to summon, but he found the four of them had a more pleasant energy when working together. Hermione's skill of seeking out obscure clues and logical thinking made her an ideal helper on the front end, but both Ginny and Ron had better background knowledge of the magical world as a whole. Each was better equipped to know what kinds of spells were possible.

Hermione hadn't taken much time to determine that merpeople's voices were only intelligible underwater. Ginny recalled Charlie talking about mermaids in the Black Lake from his upper year Care of Magical Creatures classes, and Hermione soon confirmed that a population of merpeople resided there from her copy of Hogwarts, A History. The two main problems were that none of them could ascertain what might be stolen that Harry would need to reclaim and none of them had experience with magic to allow for such a long, deep dive.

Harry had decided that it'd be better to focus on the means to rescue rather than the object to be rescued. Hermione found an almost hopelessly-complicated option called the Bubblehead Charm, but the skill and precision required created problems of its own. If Harry was able to cast the charm effectively, which was already a large if, it would severely hamper his ability to cast anything while swimming. Should he lose concentration, the charm could fail and leave him drowning beneath the waves.

Faced with the competing desires to begin training to cast the charm and search for a better solution, Ron came up with a plan. Harry would request tutoring from Professor Flitwick so that he would be ready if he ended up needing to use the Bubblehead Charm, but the other three would keep researching other means of carrying out the task. With the new term beginning, it was the best option they had.

Their professors were wholly unsympathetic as their pupils shambled from one class to the next with exhausted looks during their first week back. Harry's homework was piling up already by the time he, Hermione, and Ron traipsed toward Hagrid's hut for their first Care of Magical Creatures class of the term. The three were surprised to learn that their friend and professor was absent, replaced for the day by Professor Grubbly-Plank.

After what Harry begrudgingly considered one of the more engaging classes they'd experienced, a gleeful Draco Malfoy shoved a copy of the Daily Prophet into his hands. As the three read Rita Skeeter's front page scoop about Hagrid's parentage, they could hear Draco jeering and mocking the professor to Crabbe and Goyle. By the time they reached the Great Hall for lunch, the entire school was abuzz with the gossip that Hagrid was a half-giant and had yet to teach any of his classes.

"This is absolutely disgusting!" exclaimed Ginny after she read through the article at the lunch table. "How in the world did she learn about Hagrid's mother?"

"I just don't know. I get that Malfoy and a bunch of Slytherins have been feeding her stories, but he never even told us about this." Harry looked toward the head table, where Hagrid's seat was conspicuously empty. "You two said he might get fired if word got out. You don't think that Dumbledore…"

"I dunno, Harry. I bet they're both getting flooded with owls, probably Howlers, too." Ron frowned as he looked at the headmaster, who betrayed no sense that anything was amiss.

"I hate that this happened to Hagrid, but at least our substitute was good," offered Hermione. "The unicorn lesson was one of my favorites we've had in the class."

Harry shot her a look of betrayal. "Well, I'm going to talk to Hagrid and let him know we missed him and that we don't care who his parents are. With all the times he's been there for us, it's the least we can do." His tone dared Hermione to disagree.

"Oh, that's a great idea, Harry," Hermione quickly replied as she tried to recover from his withering gaze. Ron gave a thumbs up before hurrying to finish his meal.

Harry looked to Ginny, who spoke cautiously. "I don't know him as well as you three, but if you think it'd help, I'd be glad to come along. I just don't want to impose." Her brown eyes were fixed on her plate.

"No, I bet he'd appreciate having all of us there," interjected Harry. "Should we head that way now?"

With mouth still full, Ron held up his hand for them to pause. He swallowed before chugging the rest of his pumpkin juice. "Right, now I'm ready! Can't go comfort someone on an empty stomach!" Hermione rolled her eyes as they made their way back outside toward the forest.

But Hagrid was not in his hut when the four arrived. Fang bounded up to them in greeting, nearly knocking Ginny to the ground, but there was no sign that their friend was nearby.

"Well, we've got classes all this afternoon,'' reasoned Hermione. "Maybe we can check with Professor Dumbledore at dinner if Hagrid isn't in the Great Hall. He might have gone to the Ministry of Magic to file a complaint or get things sorted out?"

"Or gone to a pub…" muttered Ron. Harry had a strong feeling about which of his friends was more likely to be right.

Harry was unsurprised when Hargrid's seat remained unfilled that evening during dinner. An unexpected development was that Professor Dumbledore's chair was also empty. Resolved to at least make an attempt, the four friends approached Professor McGonagall after they finished eating.

"Excuse me, Professor. I'd like to talk to Hagrid, but I haven't seen him today. Do you know where I could find him?"

Her eyes closed for a moment before she replied. "Professor Hagrid has taken a leave of absence and is not at the school right now. I'm certain that he will be happy to speak with you once he returns."

"But it's not fair! That foul woman dragged his name through the mud! He needs to know that the students don't care about all that and that we want him back!" Harry's distress was leaking into his voice.

"Mr. Potter, I assure you that when Hagrid returns, you will know and will have ample opportunity to encourage him. At present, there is nothing you can do."

"What about Professor Dumbledore? Can I talk to him? We don't want to see Hagrid fired!" Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were nodding.

"The headmaster is away from the school this evening. While I'm sure he appreciates your advice when it comes to matters of employment, Professor Dumbledore has the situation well in hand."

Harry sighed deeply. "I don't mean to come across as rude, but Hagrid has had it so rough. He got accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets and was thrown into Azkaban. He spent so much time and energy trying to help Buckbeak last year. Now this?" He looked imploringly at his Transfiguration professor. "We just need him to know that we're behind him."

Professor McGonagall's eyes softened and she gave the students a small, sad smile. "Very well. Professor Dumbledore indicated that Hagrid would likely return on Sunday. I will personally let him know that you wish to meet with him that afternoon."

"Thank you, Professor."

"How did your training with Professor Flitwick go this morning?" Hermione was holding a large book in her hands and had a heavy-looking bag slung over her shoulder as she walked towards Hagrid's hut. She strode beside Ginny, with the boys trailing behind by a few paces.

"Ooh, yeah! I want to hear how it went! Does he think you'll be able to master it by the second task?"

"Well, not much luck yet," said Harry wearily. "Flitwick told me that's to be expected since it's a NEWT-level charm. He does think I can get it figured out in time but encouraged me to look at other options, too. If nothing else, it made me feel like there's got to be another way to do it."

Ron piped up. "If he thinks there's another way that'd be easier for you, maybe it's not a spell. Hermione, most of what we've been looking through are different charms that Harry could learn. Maybe we need to broaden our search?"

"Ron, that's brilliant!" cried Hermione. "If we can find a non-spell solution, that could leave Harry able to use his wand more freely while he's in the lake!" She stuffed her book into her bag as they approached the hut.

"Just thought it might be worth considering," said Ron a bit sheepishly. He stepped forward to knock on the door.

"Come on in, yeh lot," came a very subdued voice from inside. They entered to find Hagrid seated at his table looking forlorn. He had great tear streaks running down his cheeks and took a large swig of something from a flagon as they sat down. "Nice o' yeh to come by 'n see me."

Hermione spoke first. "Of course we wanted to come see you, Hagrid. We've missed you this past week."

Harry was nodding enthusiastically. "I don't care what that foul woman says about you, we know the kind of person you are. Malfoy and the other Slytherins who talked to her are a bunch of liars. Anyone with a brain could see they're making up things to make you seem like a bad teacher. Who ever heard of a bite from a flobberworm? They don't even have teeth!"

Hagrid sniffled. "Doesn't matter. By now there'll be a hundred owls callin' fer me to be sacked fer bein' a half-giant."

"They can't do that! It doesn't matter who your mum is, you belong here at Hogwarts!" Ginny had found her voice. "It's not fair that you've been blamed for so much that was never your fault to begin with!"

"Parents won't want me around their kids. Dumbledore's already stuck his neck out fer me too many times."

"HAGRID!" Harry's voice seemed to shake the walls of the small hut. "I don't care what we have to do. We can help with research like last year with Buckbeak's trial. We can talk to Professor Dumbledore. But we're not letting you get fired. Do you understand?"

"We don't care that you're half-giant." Ron was looking straight into Hagrid's eyes. "Anyone who knows you knows you wouldn't hurt a soul. You're a helluva lot better teacher than Snape, and he's still here after all these years."

"If Professor Dumbledore is really considering sacking you, I can start researching laws on discrimination and employment," began Hermione, who grabbed a parchment from her bag to start jotting down notes.

Hagrid shook his head. "Professor Dumbledore said he wasn't going to do tha'. Said he would take care o' the parents an' governors. Great man, Dumbledore. But I reckon I should just resign and save 'im the trouble."

"But if you bow to pressure from people who hate you because of who your parents are, you're just letting them win," argued Hermione. "What happens if they decide that muggle-borns like me shouldn't be allowed to teach?"

Hagrid let out a small laugh. "If yeh wanted ter teach, no one in the world could stop yeh, Hermione."

"But that's the thing, Hagrid," interjected Ginny. "They're trying to disqualify people based on their family. No one loves magical creatures more than you, and it'd be wrong for you to lose your chance to share that love with students, just like Hermione being a muggle-born witch shouldn't stop her from following her dreams."

"Look at Harry's aunt and uncle. Great bloody idiots if ever there were any, but Harry turned out just fine." Ron looked over at Harry to see if he was upset by the remark, but Harry merely shrugged.

"Yeah, if you hold people's families against them, I'm definitely not doing so well." Harry thought for a second. "Back in second year, when everyone thought I was the Heir of Slytherin and had opened up the Chamber of Secrets, you didn't abandon me. Even if some parents decide to be idiots and believe the worst about you, it doesn't mean we will."

Hagrid pawed at his eyes. "'S not the same, though. You never did all those things."

Ginny took a deep breath. "That's true, but I did." All eyes turned to the smallest person in the hut. She gathered herself before continuing. "Even if it was because of Tom's diary, I still did those things in my first year. I sent the basilisk to attack people. I killed your roosters. I hung Mrs. Norris up by her tail."

Ron started to interrupt, but Hermione grabbed his arm as Ginny continued. "It's been hard, knowing that some people still look at me differently. But I've been trying to remember not to let myself be defined by things I can't control. And the people who really matter don't hold it against me.

"Your mum is a giantess, and that's part of who you are. But the people who really matter aren't going to treat you differently because of it."

Large tears fell onto the table as Hagrid's shoulders sagged. "Yeh're better than I deserve, you lot." Hagrid wiped his nose on his sleeve. "Yeh really wan' me back as yer professor?"

Four heads nodded back at him.

"Alrigh' then. Professor Dumbledore refused ter accept my resignation anyway." Hagrid let out a long breath. "Well, how are yeh doin' workin' out yer egg? Yeh know what yeh'll do yet?"

"Well, I think we're on the right track," hedged Harry. He was glad to have gotten reassurances that Hagrid wouldn't be sacked, but his nerves about the second task gripped him as soon as it was brought up. "We think that I'll have to dive to the bottom of the Black Lake to retrieve something that will be taken from me. Professor Lupin went over a lot of the underwater creatures I could run into during Defense last year, but we're still trying to figure out how I can hold my breath for an hour."

"We've researched the Bubblehead Charm, which would let him breathe normally while swimming, but it'd hamper his ability to defend himself with magic," added Hermione.

"Well, I don' know how to fix that fer yeh, Harry. But I've spent a lot o' time in and 'round the Black Lake. If yeh want any pointers on what you really need ter look out fer, I'd be happy ter help."

Harry's face lit up with a broad smile. "That would be great. I need all the help I can get."

"Well, I can certainly help yeh with what critters yeh might encounter. Might be worth checkin' with Professor Sprout about the plant life. There's more'n jus' animals down there."

"Yeah, okay. I'll ask her about it after our next Herbology class."

For the next hour, the four sat in rapt attention as Hagrid explained the various creatures that inhabited the Black Lake, where they each were most likely to be found, and the best means for bypassing them. Hermione was furiously scribbling notes as Hagrid spoke, no doubt already sorting anecdotes and facts into lists to be researched.

When he wrapped up his explanations, Hermione looked up at him from her notes. "Hagrid, that was incredible! This is going to help us so much as we get Harry ready for the task." He beamed with pride as the others nodded their agreement. "I think this is one of the most effective ways you teach: when you're explaining about animals you've had experience with and showing others what you've learned about them."

Hagrid's huge cheeks reddened. "Thanks, Hermione. This kinda thing's my favorite thing ter do. Just talkin' 'bout creatures an' how they do."

Harry could sense Hermione trying to tiptoe up to a point, even though he wasn't exactly sure what it was yet.

"I'm sure you've already got your lessons for the term squared away, but I was wondering if you might be up for doing some of your classes like this. I'll bet lots of students will be interested in what's in the Black Lake after the second task."

Hagrid looked like he was considering the idea. "Yeh think students would care 'bout all this stuff?"

"Absolutely," said Hermione emphatically. "I'm sure everyone will want a better idea of what the champions had to take on."

Ginny had apparently caught onto Hermione's tactics. "Ooh, and maybe you could do a lesson about the four kinds of dragons the champions faced. Lots of students are still talking about the first task, and I'm sure everyone would like to learn more about how they're each different."

"That'd be wicked!" exclaimed Ron. "I'm sure you're saving a lot of the more dangerous stuff for your NEWT classes, but the whole school's a bit obsessed with dragons at the moment."

By the time they left Hagrid's hut behind, they'd discussed several exciting topics that could be covered in Care of Magical Creatures, none of which involved Blast-Ended Skrewts.
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