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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: 247
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.

Original Timeline

Voldemort's Victory - Chapter 1-5 (Feel free to skip if you don't like major character deaths)

Tenochtitlán - Chapter 6-9

New Timeline

Harry's 4th Year - Chapter 10-28

Harry's 5th Year - Chapter 29-68

Harry's 6th Year - Chapter 69-Current
Hitcount: Story Total: 68060; Chapter Total: 1310
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
It is absolutely wild that we've reached the end of Goblet of Fire. When I started this project I had an idea of how it would go, but it's grown so far beyond what I imagined. It's so fun sharing it with y'all, reading your comments, and anticipating how y'all will react. Some of the highlights of my week are when I receive an encouraging comment from a reader who noticed something I put special care into.

There will be short hiatus for RLM next week since I'll be out of town for spring break with my wife and our two kids. Gonna give myself a little time to soak up some family time and prepare for the events of Order of the Phoenix. Things have remained pretty similar to canon so far, but that's changing in the next few chapters! Looking forward to sharing it with y'all!


With the end of term rapidly approaching, Harry found himself with more free time on his hands than ever. Most of his classes were preparing for finals or finishing them, but he had been exempted from all such examinations. With Defense suspended due to the lack of a professor and Harry fully removed from Divination, he found himself wandering the castle and the grounds more often. He also had more time freed up now that he wasn't training weekly with Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, and the imposter Moody.

A few visits with Hagrid had boosted Harry's spirits. The man's beady, black eyes shone with tears as he recounted to Hermione, Ginny, Ron, and Harry how the headmaster had praised him for his lessons in the second term. The classes about the similarities and differences between the dragons that the champions faced and the lesson by the lake (complete with an appearance from the Giant Squid) were especially well-received by the students.

The four friends spent a good deal of time together as the term drew to a close. Hermione was distant, often failing to engage in conversation or leaving abruptly from a meal. After she hurriedly packed up her books and made for the stairway to her dormitory one evening, the three remaining friends watched her with forlorn expressions. Ginny had followed behind her the last two times this had happened, but this time she hung back.

"How do you think she's holding up? Is she doing any better?" asked Harry quietly as Hermione disappeared up the stairs.

"She's having a really hard time," answered Ginny, her shoulders drooping as she turned back to the chess board that no longer held her attention or Ron's. "I can't imagine what all she's feeling. And feelings aren't exactly her strength…"

Ron's eyes caught Ginny's with a look halfway between hurt and defensive, but before he could say anything, Ginny continued.

"That came out wrong. I meant that she's so good at thinking through everything, but she can't think her way through this. She can't analyze her way through heartbreak."

Ron's look softened and he nodded, returning his gaze to the chessboard. "I dunno what to say to her," he mumbled. "It's not like I was Krum's biggest fan or anything, but I didn't want him to end up dead. He seemed like a decent enough bloke, especially when he went after Malfoy."

"You seemed like a pretty big fan of him after the World Cup," noted Ginny cautiously, meeting Harry's eyes while Ron examined how to extricate his bishop from a sticky situation. "It kinda felt like you got a bad taste in your mouth about him after he took Hermione to the Yule Ball."

"Well, yeah…" said Ron, a hint of pink tinging his ears. "But he was competing against Harry at the time, so I was worried. Didn't want him using Hermione to get to him…"

Ginny didn't push but didn't give her brother an easy out either. Harry had no desire to attempt to sort out what was happening, so he simply sat back and tried to anticipate where the two chess masters would move next.

"But I guess he ended up being alright, in the end. Good luck to the next guy who asks her out though," Ron's focus was so intent on his bishop that he completely ignored Ginny's knight intruding on his queen. "International quidditch star and Triwizard champion… That'll be a tough act to follow."

Ginny smirked as her knight ousted Ron's queen, causing him to swear. "Eh, I don't think she cared much about all that stuff. When we talked about him, a lot was just how it made her feel to have someone listen to her. She's got so much in that head of hers: a million questions about how the world works and a million more ideas on how to make things better. Viktor just let her talk and made sure she knew he cared what she thought."

Ron's concentration on the chess game seemed to be waning with each passing moment. Harry leaned forward. "You really think that's why she liked Viktor?"

Ginny rolled her eyes as she pushed a rook forward. "The fact that he asked her at all was a big deal, too. Being bold enough to tell someone you like them means something. But yes, it factored in. No offense, but neither of her two best friends seem all that interested in what she thinks a lot of the time. You're quick to ask for her answers on homework, but aren't always sparkling conversation partners."

Harry considered the point as Ron attempted to fight his way back after his blunder left him down a queen. "It's not like you're always wearing a S.P.E.W. badge or talking Hogwarts: A History with her," countered Harry.

"True, but we talk about other things," answered Ginny cryptically as she pressed her advantage on the board. Soon, her bishop was staring down Ron's now-checked king. "I'm just saying that Hermione really wanted someone who would listen to her, and Viktor stepped up. That's probably part of why she's taking it all so hard. He's the person she's used to talking through things with, but now he's not there."

"I still think whoever asks her out next has big shoes to fill…" muttered Ron as he dejectedly positioned his bishop to protect his king.

"Well, it'll probably be a while before she's interested in anybody after losing Viktor. But she'll bounce back, eventually."

Ron was well behind on material, which left him scrambling to regain some semblance of his usual dominance. The fire crackled as a friendly silence fell over the three of them, punctuated only occasionally by the cries of a captured piece.

Ten minutes later, it was Ginny who let out a swear once she realized that her opponent had maneuvered himself into a stalemate instead of her desired checkmate. Though defeated, Ron regained a bit more of his pride as his sister stuck out her tongue at him. He cleaned up the remaining pieces before he and Harry wished Ginny goodnight and climbed the stairs to their room.

Neville was propped against his headboard with a large tome in his hands as the two began readying for bed. "Can't believe this is our last night at Hogwarts as fourth years."

"No kidding," said Ron as he pulled his shirt over his head. "Looking forward to the summer?"

"For the most part. It's kinda boring not having you all to hang around with, but at least there's no Snape over the summer. What about you two?"

"Mum's been quiet about our plans, but I figure it'll just be hanging around the Burrow, mostly. Hopefully we'll get to bring Harry over at some point, yeah?"

"Dumbledore wants me to go stay with my aunt and uncle for the first of the summer, but I might get to go to the Burrow later on, which would be great. And Snuffles said I might get to stay with him if everything works out."

"Either way, anywhere's better than with your relatives…"

Neville glanced at Harry as if he wanted to say something, but quickly dropped his eyes back to the book on his lap.

"Yeah, I'm not looking forward to dealing with them at all. What's it like for you, Nev? Boring sounds kinda nice to me."

"My Gran is pretty strict. She's always going on about upholding the family legacy and how I need to live up to the standards my parents set. Last summer, she started making me come with her to the Ministry for Wizengamot sessions every week. They're really boring, but she said I can get my own greenhouse if I keep going. Not like I have much choice, but at least I'll get to have somewhere for my plants."

"Ugh. Percy tries to tell me about Wizengamot stuff sometimes, and it seems like the most boring thing in the world." Ron frowned for a moment. "Of course, he could probably make quidditch sound dull…"

"I hear you on having people constantly comparing you to parents. It's like every time I meet someone, they say 'You look just like your father! Except you have your mother's eyes!' Folks think that since they knew my parents, they know what I'll be like. Do people do that to you, too?"

"Yeah, I get that a lot," replied Neville, looking a little bit braver. "My dad was apparently really popular and talented, and my mum, too. They were both Aurors, but Mum took time off when I was born."

"You're parents are Aurors?" exclaimed Ron and Harry cringed internally at his phrasing. "That's wicked! I was thinking about being an Auror after Defense with Moody this year, though him being a fraud who tried to kill us made me rethink that a bit."

"Well, that's the thing…" Neville's boldness eluded him after having opened up this much but not having any avenue to stop the flow of information. Ron didn't pick up on his friend's hesitation, but Harry did.

"I heard your parents got attacked not long after my family," said Harry cautiously. "Right when most folks thought things were going to be safe."

Neville hung his head as he nodded while the color drained from Ron's face.

"Bloody hell…" whispered Ron. "I had no idea. I'm so sorry, mate."

After a few moments, a sniffle broke the silence that followed. Ron glanced at Harry with a look of befuddlement, but Harry didn't know what to do, either.

"That's why I live with my Gran," said Neville thickly. "Mum and Dad are stuck at St. Mungo's in the long-term spell damage ward. I go visit them during the summer and on holidays, but it's hard because they can't really communicate or remember much."

Whatever Ron intended to say was swallowed up by silence. Neville's eyes had locked onto Harry's, and neither boy seemed capable of breaking the eye contact.

"The Death Eaters who did it… Apparently, they thought they could use the Cruciatus to get my parents to tell them what happened to You-Know-Who. They wanted to bring him back."

Ron found enough voice to swear. Harry kept looking at Neville steadily. Even if he was unable to say anything to make this less painful, he was determined not to look away.

"So, I think Gran expects me to be just as good at magic and as powerful and popular as my dad was, but I'm obviously not. She even gave me his old wand to use, but I'm barely better than a squib."

"Wait a sec, that's not fair," interjected Harry. "You're good when you're confident and not even Hermione can touch you in Herbology!"

"But I'm rubbish in Potions and barely keep up in Charms and Transfiguration, and I've almost failed Potions every year."

At this, Ron piped up. "You can't blame yourself for Potions, mate. Snape is a git and he hates you as much as he hates Harry."

"If you weren't so good with plants, I never would have found out about Gillyweed. You saved my skin," replied Harry. "If your Gran expects you to follow in your parents' footsteps, that's on her. You don't need to be an Auror. You'll probably be the plant version of Newt Scamander!"

"Nev, did you say you're using your dad's old wand?" asked Ron. Neville gave a quick nod as he lifted the wand for Ron to see. "I used a hand-me-down wand from my brother Charlie my first two years here, and I kept thinking I was useless at loads of magic. Part of that was when it mostly broke when we crashed into the Whomping Willow, but it didn't work properly for me before that, either. I remember Charms and Transfiguration were always the worst because I just couldn't make my wand work right.

"But when I got this new wand, everything just sorta fell into place. It's not like I'm better than Hermione or anything, but I keep up without setting things on fire, plus Flitwick and McGonagall aren't mad at me as much."

Harry could see Neville was a bit hesitant as he looked at the wand in his hand. "Maybe your Gran would take you to Ollivander's over the summer to see if there's a wand that fits you better," suggested Harry. "You wouldn't have to give up your dad's wand, but it might be nice to have one that's more suited to you before our OWLs year."

"Don't remind me about OWLs," said Neville ruefully. "Not looking forward to all the work we'll be given next year."

"No kidding," added Ron. "We've got to make sure to stay on Hermione's good side, or else none of us will have a chance."

"What do you mean, we?" asked Neville with a faint twinge of a smile. "I don't see her getting mad at me or Harry very often."

"Yeah, I try to steer clear of her wrath, unlike some other people I know…"

"Uncalled for!" Ron tossed a pillow at Neville, who tried to dodge but only managed to fall backward off his bed. "I've been better this term!"

Harry snickered as his friend while Neville climbed back onto his bed, making a rude gesture at the redhead. "Maybe you've been a bit better as of late, but I have my doubts about how long it'll last."


"Another school year has come and gone!" Professor Dumbledore's voice boomed through the Great Hall as the students and professors watched and listened. "A year unlike any in recent memory, and one we will not soon forget.

"We must acknowledge the grave loss we have suffered and the young man who should be here celebrating alongside us. Please stand and raise your glasses to honor Viktor Krum."

Bench legs scraped across the floor as the student body rose to its feet. Goblets were hoisted toward the enchanted ceiling, and in one voice, the collected students and faculty uttered the name of the fallen. Several Slytherins were quick to return to their seats, but most stood for a moment as they took a sip of their drink and watched the head table. Once everyone had returned to their seats, Professor Dumbledore continued.

"Viktor Krum was an outstanding student and competitor, both in Quidditch and within the Triwizard Tournament. He was a son and an older brother. He was a good person."

A somber silence had befallen the amassed students, punctured only by occasional sobs from Hermione or one of the Durmstrang students.

"Viktor was cruelly killed after the completion of the Third Task. Though many of your parents do not wish for me to explain the circumstances of his death, I find that truth is preferable to lies. It would be a disservice to his memory to allow rumors to go unchallenged or to leave you wondering if Viktor met his end by some fault of his own."

Albus Dumbledore heaved a long sigh as he collected himself before continuing. "Viktor Krum was murdered by Lord Voldemort."

Whispers began circulating as soon as the words had left the headmaster's lips, and Dumbledore waited a few moments before raising his hand for quiet.

"In his final moments, Viktor was offered the chance to save his own life by turning against others. Given the choice, he elected to remain true to his ideals and refused to turn against Muggle-born witches and wizards. And for this decision, Viktor Krum was killed.

"Many do not wish to believe that Lord Voldemort has returned. But our world depends on being willing to face hard truths and meet the moment. Viktor Krum did this, and we must prepare to do the same."

Murmuring began to grow again within the ranks of the students. Dumbledore simply stared out into the ocean of faces, waiting until the students quieted down after a few prefects shot looks at their peers.

"I must also bring up another student who faced the same dangers as Viktor. Harry Potter managed to escape the trap laid by Lord Voldemort. Voldemort used an imposter disguised as Alastor Moody to enter Harry into the Triwizard Tournament and to transform the Cup at the end of the Third Task into a portkey. Harry escaped, in part, due to his bravery and quick thinking. Though he was able to return to Hogwarts, he sustained multiple injuries during the harrowing ordeal. I ask that you respect his privacy regarding the matter."

Though Harry appreciated the sentiment, he couldn't help noticing that most of the students had trained their eyes on him during Dumbledore's explanation.

"The aim of the Triwizard Tournament is to build connections between students, schools, and countries. It appears that these kinds of relationships will soon be more important than ever. I urge our guests to remember Hogwarts as a place in which you will be welcome. Should the need arise, this school would be honored to host you again. We hope that you will bear our goodwill back to your home countries and communities, and that we can strive for a better world for all together.

"One of Lord Voldemort's greatest strengths is his ability to sow discord and mistrust among those who should be united. We can fight against such division by looking past differences of language, culture, and blood status to find that which binds us together.

"I believe that challenging times are coming for us all, though I hope to be mistaken." Dumbledore's gaze traveled across the room as he spoke. "Our best hope of meeting these challenges is to work together.

"Some of you have already experienced loss at the hands of Lord Voldemort or his followers. Families have been ripped apart and lives have been lost. A student was taken from our midst. May we remember Viktor Krum, and what happened to a good young man who faced evil."

Hedwig hooted angrily as Harry bumped her cage into Hermione, who was holding a very frustrated Crookshanks under one arm and a heavily-laden bookbag over her other shoulder. The wait for the carriages that would transport the Hogwarts students to the train was taking longer than usual since the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students were also saying their goodbyes before departing. Ginny, Ron, and Neville milled about by their trunks nearby.

"Easy, girl," said Harry in an apologetic tone. "I'll let you out for a fly once we get onto the train, I promise." Hedwig looked back at him skeptically but refrained from hooting at him further.

Harry watched as dejected Durmstrang students filed away from the castle. Without Karkaroff or Krum, the group looked much less regimented than they had when they'd first arrived. The lack of a clear leader left them much quieter and more reserved. Many had already boarded their ship before the Hogwarts students had exited the castle.

"'Arry!" All five friends turned to find Fleur bounding in their direction. Ron swallowed hard as he attempted to keep his composure, but he at least didn't sputter as much as he had during the first term. "'Ave you recovered from your injuries?"

"Yeah, I'm feeling a lot better. Just a bit sore now and then. How about you?"

"Madame Pomfrey took very good care of me. I am much better now. I will spend the summer back in France, but I begin working with Gringott's in August! Perhaps we will see each uzzer again sometime?"

"That'd be great," said Harry with a smile. "When you're in England, feel free to send an owl. I bet Cedric would be happy to catch up with you again, too."

"Zat would be lovely," replied Fleur, her dazzling smile gleaming in the bright sunlight. She turned to Ginny and Ron, who were standing by Harry's side. "Eet was a pleasure to meet your family before the Third Task. Would you be so kind as to do me a favor?"

Ron's gaze seemed a bit fuzzy, but Ginny paid him no mind. "What do you have in mind?"

"I meant to send a letter to your bruzzer, but I theenk the school owls do not trust me because I am part-Veela. I could not convince them to take my letter. Would you be willing to pass it along to him for me?"

Ginny regarded the older girl for a moment. "I think I could be convinced to help you out, for a price…"

"What do you have in mind?" asked Fleur. She didn't seem intimidated by the suggestion but didn't betray any feelings of being above granting a request to the younger girl.

"I heard you were quite good with charms on a certain Ravenclaw's undergarments," began Ginny with a smirk. "As the youngest with six brothers, those kinds of charms could be quite useful…"

The awed expression on Ron's face melted into horror as the memory of what had been unleashed on Roger Davies roared into his mind.

"Ah, a woman I can respect!" Fleur reached into her bookbag and soon produced a thin book with loopy calligraphy on the front. "Eet is in French, but you seem more than capable to use a translation spell for eet. I added a few notes in the margins, and I'd love to hear how they work for you." She slipped an envelope marked 'William' into the middle of the book and passed it to Ginny, who looked as mischievous as the twins while she slipped it into her bag.

"I must 'urry to ze carriage, but I am so glad to 'ave met you!" She swept down to place a quick kiss on each of Harry's suddenly-warm cheeks before waving goodbye and turning toward the carriage where Hagrid was helping Madame Maxime tend to the horses. Harry saw her wait near Adeline, who was tearfully bidding goodbye to Alicia. The chaser kissed her once more before they parted, Adeline's arm slung over Fleur's shoulder.

Soon enough, the train was loaded with luggage and the compartments were filled with excited students. The sun shone down through an unclouded sky, oblivious to the ominous tidings of the previous weeks.

Harry was holding his own in a game of Exploding Snap against Ron and Ginny, with Hermione and Neville sitting just outside of the danger zone. With an exasperated huff, Hermione wadded up a copy of The Daily Prophet and tossed it aside.

"That's not an encouraging sound," said Harry as he met Hermione's eyes. "What did they write this time?"

"It's not what they wrote, it's what they're not writing," explained Hermione. "There's nothing about You-Know-Who, Crouch Jr, or any of it! It's the most important story in years and the newspaper is completely ignoring it!"

"Well, that's just until Skeeter gets her next scoop," said Ron with a hint of disgust. "Bet she's furiously writing up a story about how Harry ruined the tournament because he's an unhinged maniac and that he got a professor fired for no reason."

Hermione let out a small laugh. Harry thought it was the first time he'd heard her laugh since Viktor's death.

"Rita Skeeter isn't going to be writing anything about us for a while." She sat looking very pleased with herself while her friends remained perplexed. "I figured out how she's been listening in on our conversations for her little stories. Turns out, she an unregistered animagus!"

The four friends stared at her, mouths agape. Ginny was the first to recover her ability to speak. "That's so illegal! Is she something small, like Scabbers?"

"Even smaller. I got the idea after Harry mentioned the idea of her 'bugging' us with listening equipment. It took me a long time to put it all together, but she wasn't just listening in. She was hiding nearby anytime something big went down, watching and listening herself!" Hermione triumphantly produced a glass jar from her bag that contained a stick, a leaf, and an ugly red insect. "Check out the markings on its face. It's the same as those horrid glasses she always wears!"

Sure enough, as the students huddled around, the bug fluttered its wings angrily and bumped into the lid before falling back to the bottom of the jar. Its tiny legs reached skyward to no avail until Hermione shook the jar vigorously enough for it to land right side up on the leaf.

Neville's face grew rather pale. "Are you saying that's Rita Skeeter?" Hermione simply smiled.

"We saw that bug when we stumbled onto Hagrid when he was talking to Madame Maxime!" exclaimed Ginny, pointing at the jar accusingly. "That's how she knew about his Mum!"

"Precisely!" replied Hermione, clearly relishing the opportunity to inform the others of her discovery.

"And the window was open in Divination the day you had that dream," said Ron. "She must have been listening in on our class!"

"Yes, she's been snooping around for stories all year. But this jar is unbreakable, so she's not writing anything until I figure out when and where to release her. From what I've read, being an unregistered animagus can get you some serious time in Azkaban, so I think she'll be quite interested in making a bargain with me."

The compartment door slid open to reveal a very smug-looking Draco Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. Each looked exceedingly pleased with themselves as if Christmas had come early.

"Bravo, Granger! You finally figured it out. Took you long enough," drawled Malfoy, rolling his eyes. "It doesn't matter, anyway. The Dark Lord has returned and Dumbledore will be gone soon, then nobody will be around to protect you. You blood traitors and Mudbloods will be the first to go, mark my words!"

Draco sneered as he let out a laugh as he turned to Goyle. "Well, maybe not first to go, because that honor went to Kru-"

A flurry of blinding lights flashed through the room, followed by three loud thumps. Harry removed his glasses to rub the spots from his eyes. In the doorway, Draco lay unconscious beneath the large frames of his fellow Slytherins. Each looked to be dealing with a variety of spell damage not only from the five students they'd been accosting.

"Damn!" said Fred as he stepped on Goyle to enter the compartment. "I would've thought it was impossible to make these three any uglier. Who used the Furnunculus?"

"That was mine," said Ron. Fred gave him an impressed nod.

"Apparently, those don't mix well with my Jelly-Legs Jinx. Eww, look at the little tentacles sprouting from Malfoy's face…"

George feigned tripping as he entered, knocking his shoe into Malfoy's ribs. "Almost feel bad for What's-His-Name on top there. Ginny, was that your Bat-Bogey Hex?"

"You know it!"

Another voice came from the hall and Cedric poked his head through the doorway, followed by Cho. "Saw these gits heading your way and figured you might want some backup, but it kinda seems like overkill at this point. I just used a Stunner. What about you?"

"Same here." Cho was looking at the three Slytherins with disgust. "Do you all want us to leave them here, or should we try to move them?"

Harry smiled at the two. "I've had to look at them more than I'd like this term already. How about we stash them in somewhere else?"

Between Cho, Cedric, Fred, George, and Harry, the three unconscious Slytherins were levitated into the next train car, where they were left at the feet of Blaise Zabini, Theo Nott, and Daphne Greengrass for safekeeping. Harry felt little affection toward the three Slytherins from his year, but none said anything to him as they deposited their dormmates unceremoniously on the floor.

"They tried to come after Harry and his friends in their compartment," said Cedric after dropping his levitation spell. "It'd probably be best if they stayed in here until we get back to London."

Blaise watched as a bogey-colored bat crawled out of Goyle's nose before tossing a blanket over the pile of classmates. "You couldn't have taken them to Parkinson? She would've loved the chance to play nurse for him."

"Ugh, I don't want to think about what that cow likes to play," said Cho with an exaggerated gag while Daphne rolled her eyes. "Just try to keep them from getting their arses handed to them again, okay?"

Theo laughed. "That's harder to do than you'd think, but they look like they'll be out a while."

"Appreciate it," replied Harry as they moved to leave. "Have a good summer."

"You do the same, Potter," called Zabini as the door slid shut.

Cedric and Cho walked with them back to their compartment, but Harry wasn't too surprised when they decided to turn down the offer to come sit with them. Cho's fingers quickly interlaced with Cedric's as they walked down the corridor.

Several games of Exploding Snap later, Fred had the compartment howling with laughter while describing an unfortunate accident that had befallen George while testing a new joke product.

An uncharacteristically blushing George smacked his twin. "If you give away all the secrets of our process, the joke shop won't get off the ground!"

"Joke shop? You're not really going through with that, are you?" Hermione appeared to be doing her best McGonagall impersonation.

"Absolutely! We're a bit behind on the startup funding since bloody Bagman swindled us, but we've got our first few items sorted out and should be able to do some serious product testing over the summer and next school year."

"Wait, how'd Bagman swindle you?" asked Ginny.

"Remember how we put down a big wager with him before the World Cup? The git paid us back in Leprechaun gold. A few hours later, all our winnings had disappeared."

"But that had to be some sort of mistake," said Ron.

"We thought so, too, but he kept dodging our owls or avoiding us when he was here for the tournament,' replied Fred. "We eventually cornered him in Hogsmeade, and he flat-out refused to pay us. Said we were too young to be gambling and wouldn't even give us our money back from the original wager."

"Turns out that old Ludo has a bit of a gambling problem," added George. "He owes lots of galleons to lots of different folks, including a hefty sum to the goblins."

Neville grimaced at the mention of goblins. "Ooh, owing money to the goblins gets dicey fast. A cousin of mine owed a bunch of galleons to a goblin, and he ended up fleeing the country once he realized he couldn't pay it back. We haven't heard from him in years."

"Sounds about right," said George with a grim nod. "Anyway, turns out Bagman put everything he had left on you to win the tournament. Figured if you came out on top, he'd win enough to pay back most of his debts."

Ginny's eyes lit up. "That's why he kept offering to help you! He wanted you to win so the goblins wouldn't hunt him down!"

"Well, does that mean he can pay the two of you back?" asked Harry with hope.

Fred laughed ruefully and George shook his head before replying. "Nope. Turns out the goblins outsmarted him on the bet, not that it takes too much outdo him. They said he bet on you to win outright, but you tied with Krum. The poor idiot had to make a run for it, and we don't expect to see him around."

The brakes of the train began to squeal as they approached the station, and students excitedly bustled out of the doors onto the platform. Before the twins could exit the compartment, Harry gave them a meaningful look, causing them to hang back. They looked at Harry questioningly.

"Are you two serious about starting a joke shop?"

"Yeah, of course," answered George. "We've been planning it for years."

"Someone's got to keep ol' Zonko from getting complacent," added Fred.

"Excellent. That's what I was hoping." Harry dug into his bag and produced the sack of galleons Fudge have given him as tournament winnings. "This oughta get you started since you never got your savings back from Bagman."

"He's mental, he is!" said Fred as he tried to push the sack back toward Harry.

"No, I've more than enough gold to my name. I don't want it and I don't need it, but I could use a few more laughs, yeah? Take the money and get inventing. I think we're going to need more joy really soon."

"You've got to be mental," whispered George reverently. "That's a thousand galleons!"

"That's gotta be enough to do some research on a line of prank undergarments like the ones Fleur jinxed, right? Just make sure your mum doesn't know you got the money from me. I'm not willing to risk losing out on her cooking for this."

Harry tossed the sack to Fred, who fumbled it as if it were red-hot, barely catching it by the string. "And how about you do me a favor? I know Ron and Ginny both want to try out for the quidditch team next year, but the school brooms are terrible. Maybe use some of that gold to get them something to fly?"

With that, Harry grabbed his luggage and hopped off the train. Molly Weasley was talking animatedly with her two youngest when Harry walked to their group, followed by a rather shell-shocked set of twins. She gathered each of the three into a hug in turn before they headed through the barrier. Hermione caught sight of her parents quickly, and said hasty goodbyes while her mother and father strained under the weight of her school luggage and bookbags.

Uncle Vernon looked none too pleased as the raucous contingent of teens walked his direction. Mrs. Weasley stared at the man with just as much contempt, if not more, and pulled Harry close for a quick word. "I've talked to Professor Dumbledore about getting you to come see us as soon as possible, but it will probably be a few weeks before we can swing it. However, I don't want you showing up looking like you didn't eat a single meal in the meantime. Send Hedwig to us if you're not getting enough to eat, and we'll do what we can."

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley. That means a lot."

Ron gripped his hand tightly while Fred and George clapped him on either shoulder and gave him a grateful look. When Ron released Harry's hand, Ginny pounced forward, wrapping her arms around his midsection. Though somewhat aware of her mother's watchful gaze, Harry squeezed her in return. Her cheek was pressed against his chest and a flowery scent that connected him to his rogue memory wafted around him.

Harry smiled.

When Ginny let go, Harry did his best to regain his composure while promising to write each of them over the summer. His mind drifted back to the memory as he loaded his things into Uncle Vernon's car and climbed into the back seat. He had promised himself that he'd try to make it through the tournament and the rest of fourth year before spending too much time deciding what to do about the vision of him alongside an older version of Ginny. With a small smirk, Harry thought to himself that he now had some time to figure things out.
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