SIYE Time:9:55 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: 37992; Chapter Total: 1050
Awards: View Trophy Room


Chapter 3

While Voldemort was still angry that he had now lost three of his six horcruxes, his rage had simmered into a dulled malevolence. Yes, Dumbledore had figured out some of his secrets, but the old fool had missed the horcrux right under his crooked nose!

It was regrettable that he had exhausted the limits of horcrux creation… Whatever sliver of his soul was cleaved off by the process of killing was no longer large or stable enough to bind to an object. But still, he had two remaining, and that should be more than enough to assure his immortality. Even if he decided not to fully rely on his horcruxes, he supposed he had the time and mental acuity to plumb the depths of magic for alternatives. Perhaps the creation of his own Philosopher's Stone was in order.

One plan that needed to go into action right away had been a long time coming. With the losses his enemies had sustained, their forces were scattered and hiding out as much as possible, with a few exceptions. Most of those exceptions resided right here in the castle. It was past time to thin the herd and send a statement to any who considered opposing the rule of Lord Voldemort.

It was only five minutes until lunch when the doors blew off of the Transfiguration classroom, causing screams from the third-year Ravenclaw students who were supposed to be practicing their spells. Professor McGonagall just barely intercepted one of the doors, turning into loose straw before it careened into her students in the first row.

"Minerva, I regret to inform you that your services are no longer required at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." The students gasped as Voldemort himself walked into the classroom. His wand was trained on her. With remarkable speed, she dodged a jet of green light while pointing her own wand at her desk. Hundreds of papers flew into the air, flapping just like a flock of birds. They surrounded the intruder, swarming around him and obscuring his view.

"Students! You must escape through my quarters! At once!" Her voice was almost deafening, though none of the students had seen her cast a Sonorus. The entire class was panicking as they clambered to the back door in the classroom, even as Voldemort slashed his wand through the enchanted papers, causing them to alight with fire. The pages had become flaming arrows, which were directed towards the students jamming through the back exit.

McGonagall pointed her wand at a nearby table, which animated and flung itself in front of the volley of arrows. "Engorgio!" she shrieked, and the table grew as it fell to its side, absorbing the strikes of the arrows as the last of the terrified students disappeared into the doorway.

A flicker of a smile crossed Voldemort's face. "I must admit, I had thought rumors of your prowess must have been exaggerated. I fear that you may be the last of my foes that I ever consider to be formidable." His eyes narrowed. "But now it is time for all who oppose me to perish. I don't suppose you're interested in joining my ranks?" Another spell launched from his wand, narrowly missing the witch as she dodged right.

"No, I can't say I'm interested," she spat while parrying another curse. If she could only stall him a few more moments, perhaps the students would have enough time to warn the rest of the staff. A wry smile flit across her face as she remembered her stash of items she'd confiscated without alerting those who might punish the students harshly for them.

Voldemort laughed, a cold and joyless laugh. With a swish of his wand, McGonagall's hand was severed, her wand clattering to the floor. A howl of pain escaped her. He strode forward into the center of the classroom with his wand trained on her. "Any last words before you meet oblivion?"

The green was already forming at the tip of his wand when she transformed. The burst of light ripped through the space where the Professor had been a moment earlier. Her feline form darted to a sealed box on the floor in the corner, where she resumed her human stature. "God bless those troublemakers," she said as her remaining hand activated a myriad of items that had been stored for safekeeping.

She was struck from behind by a fiercely cast Avada Kedavra. Voldemort couldn't see the edges of a smile forming on her lips as she died.

The room exploded with colored light and deafening sounds almost at once. The Dark Lord quickly conjured his most powerful shield, wondering what kind of defenses the old professor could have unleashed. Whatever it was that he was prepared for was most certainly not what he experienced.

Voldemort was suddenly plunged into a swamp more than a foot deep, which then grew to nearly three feet deep. Enchanted fireworks careened off of the walls, screaming back and forth until they collided, bursting from two into a dozen, then repeating. Round discs caromed around the room, with enormous teeth that chomped down onto anything unfortunate enough to venture too close to their fanged mouths. Then, without warning, everything was engulfed in a darkness so deep that it seemed nothing could ever escape. The sound of the fireworks screaming by and the frisbees squelching into the muddy water were the only noises to betray that Voldemort had not, himself, been transported into some subterranean cavern miles beneath the Earth's surface..

With water and foul-smelling mud up past his knees, Voldemort made to vanish the incantations. As soon as the spell left his lips, the swamp had doubled in size. With it localized solely in the Transfiguration classroom, the mud and water were suddenly up to his chest. Not that he could see anything. The Peruvian Darkness powder had encompassed all the remaining air and turned all the water pitch black, too.

Annoyance turned to anger with frightening speed as Voldemort concentrated his power as he yelled, "Finite Incantadem!" The Fanged Frisbees fell motionless into the muddy water, but the fireworks only seemed to become more agitated. Their screams doubled, and Voldemort had the momentary wondered if they increased in number by several fold, or if they had each just become that much more intense.

When the water and muck levels again doubled, all thoughts of fireworks left Voldemort's mind.

The swamp had expanded once again, and now the mud bottom of the Transfiguration room was at his waist. The inky water had nearly reached the ceiling, and Voldemort was well and truly underwater.

The Dark Lord had experienced panic very few times in his life. This had much to do with his own power being so overwhelming that few ever set to the task of opposing him directly. But it must be said that part of his lack of experience with panic was due to not spending much time on the receiving end of Weasley pranks.

Red eyes searched the darkened water for a way out, squinting against the lack of light, but it was no use. A twinge of fear mixed with overwhelming rage crossed his mind as he pointed his wand straight down and roared.

The floor of the classroom melted away, as did the entirety of the contents of the room directly beneath the room. In fact, a chasm had opened where several rooms on lower floors had been moments ago. Gravity pulled the swamp down the shaft, leaving a soaking wet wizard flying in what had once been a place of learning. He sealed the door behind him after exiting the room, cleaning himself off with a spell.

Fury rose in his chest as he thought about the indignity of fearing something, even for an instant. His nostrils flared as he breathed in and out, his traitorous lungs succumbing to their need for air. He slowly raised his wand to his throat.

A collection of third-year Ravenclaws ran into the Great Hall searching out their diminutive Head of House when a deafening voice rang out above the subdued chatter of the students at their tables.

"Students and faculty of Hogwarts! Meet in the Great Hall at once, if you do not want to surrender your life. Be ready to account for yourselves in fifteen minutes. Anyone not present will answer to Lord Voldemort directly!"

Panic swept through the hall. Professor Sprout and Professor Flitwick rushed to their house tables, and Slughorn was next to the Slytherins moments later. The hysterical third-year Ravenclaws were stumbling over themselves to explain to Flitwick what had happened, with the two other Heads of House listening in. As realization sank in, the three looked at each other.

Of course they had known this was a possibility, but they had always assumed that if an end had to be made, Minerva would be standing with them, leading them. Many students were already crying, others were tugging at the robes of their Head of House. Several looked ready to make a break for the doors, when Sprout's voice rang out.

"SILENCE!" Every eye turned to the woman, and the room fell quiet, except for a few muffled cries and sobs. The Herbology professor climbed atop the nearest table and spoke with a strong, clear voice. "Students, listen carefully! You must all leave immediately. Leave through the main gates toward Hogsmeade, get to a shop, a pub, or any magical home, and use the floo to get to safety. Your teachers will remain to provide you the time to do so safely. It has been an honor teaching you. May you find safe harbor somewhere beyond the reach of this monster. Now GO!"

Before the crowded room could begin to move a voice called out. "Not so fast! Don't anyone move a muscle!" came a voice entering the Great Hall. Amycus Carrow's eyes were flashing with excitement. "You'll all ignore her blathering and wait for the Dark Lord, or you'll pay for it in blood!" Alecto walked forward from behind her brother, with her gaze fixed on Professor Flitwick.

In an instant, there was an incredible flash of blinding light. Both Carrows covered their eyes with their hands as Slughorn's wand produced a Lumos Maxima that shot straight in between them. Before they could recover, Sprout and Flitwick rushed forward. It was suddenly quite apparent how Filius had won dueling championships in his youth, as he parried the blindly-cast curses of the Carrows. And though her spellwork was not at the same level as her counterpart, Pomona's wand slashed with a fury. In seconds, both Carrows were left unconscious in a heap.

Flitwick turned at the sound of cheering behind him. "What are you waiting for? You've got to get out of here before You Know Who arrives!"

As the students began to run for the doors, a red light burst from further down the hallway, knocking the Charms professor to the floor. His wand flipped in midair as it flew into the outstretched hand of the Headmaster.

"Filius! What the hell do you think you're doing?!" spat Snape. He watched as students ignored them and rushed towards the gates to the Hogwarts grounds. "Pomona! He'll flay you both alive for this!"

"I won't stand by and watch students tortured anymore! I won't watch them be led like lambs to the slaughter!" Flitwick pulled a spare wand from within his robes as he stood back up and walked forward to stand next to Sprout.

"We may not be enough to fend off You Know Who, but we can buy the students precious seconds." Pomona's face was hard as stone as she pointed her wand at Snape. "Severus, if you ever were the man Dumbledore believed you to be, you must see that your Master is bent on killing countless innocents. Will you be able to live with yourself if you don't fight for them now?"

Before he could answer, a jet of green light flew from the pile of Carrows. It struck the short professor in the shoulder, and the gleam in his eyes was gone before his body had time to crumple to the floor.

A scream of agony and anger escaped the Herbology professor's lips. Her wand pointed to the stone archway above the Carrows, which exploded into rubble and collapsed on their prone bodies, crushing them both.

Snape fired a disarming spell at Sprout, but she dodged to her left. Before he could fire a second time, he was forced to hastily conjure a shield to block a curse from Slughorn, who had moved to flank his position. He shot back a Sectumsempra at his old Potions teacher's legs. The older man was not particularly athletic, and a cry of pain let him know that his aim was true, even as he turned his attention more fully to the spells fired by Sprout.

Things were spiraling out of control quickly. Snape glanced out the window to see the stragglers of the student group nearing the gates. Chances were that many would be captured or killed in Hogsmeade, but he had to give Pomona credit. Forcing the students to leave had been a smart choice. It looked like most of the Slytherins had followed her advice as well, as only a few of the older students had remained back. Bold enough to stay in the Great Hall, but cowardly enough to not jump into the fray with powerful witches and wizards dueling and all manner of curses flying around.

The problem was that he had no recourse. There was no way to signal to his opponents that he was still on their side, still working toward the downfall of his Master who even now was tearing the castle apart and who would arrive any minute now. He had long since resigned himself to killing when necessary, but couldn't help but feel remorseful as Filius' body, which somehow seemed smaller in death, lay between him and the kind Professor Sprout.

He hoped that the injury to Horace would be enough to convince him to flee. He had never been a brave man, and even the half-hearted curse he'd shot at his former professor should be enough to make him tuck tail and run.

"Do you have any idea how many students I've had to comfort this year, Severus?! How many dozens of children, CHILDREN, Severus, have come to me for aid because they feared you or your Carrows would torture them if they took their injuries to the hospital wing?" A wild fury was etched onto her face as she shot spells one after another. She didn't even bother with incantations and kept accusing her enemy as she shot another flurry toward him. "Not just my 'Puffs, but Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, too! I've even patched up Slytherin first and second years who were put under the Cruciatus by the Carrows and your Junior Death Eaters! You are no teacher," a bright blue spell flew dangerously close to his left shoulder, "no headmaster," a sickly grey spell almost hit his right knee, "and a disgrace to these hallowed halls of education!" a pink curse slipped just under his hastily erected shield.

Electric shocks shot up from his foot all the way through his torso. The pain wasn't as bad as a Cruciatus, but it also wasn't pleasant. Snape growled as he ducked against a wall, trying to regain feeling in his fingers. He would have to banish her through one of the windows… Yes, perhaps that would be enough for her to see the benefit of living to fight another day.

Severus leaped back to his feet, blocking a dark blue spell from Sprout before dodging a hex fired Slughorn from his position lying in a growing pool of his own blood. The fool had somehow summoned the will to drag himself to a position to fire the hex, which he only just noticed at the last moment. Snape fired a blasting hex at the ground near Slughorn, before returning his attention to Sprout.

A squelching sound and a spray of blood caused Severus to look downward. There, protruding from his chest, was a significant length of arrow.

Another suddenly burst forth from his chest, not six inches to the right of the first.

Snape turned to look down the hallway. His already fading vision saw Firenze galloping towards him, a third arrow already aimed at him. As he fell to the ground, the third arrow found its mark. He didn't even have time to fully remember Lily Evans' face before the darkness closed in.

Firenze emerged into the Great Hall in time to see Professor Sprout tending to Horace's leg wound. "Pomona, it is not safe to tarry here. We have little time."

"I'm not leaving. Every moment we hold You Know Who's attention is a moment for our students to escape." She looked from Firenze to Slughorn. "I'm sure most of the faculty has fled by now. Minerva had planned for the eventual deterioration of our standing here. When he announced his presence, anyone with a floo should have quickly taken any nearby students to safety. With any luck, the castle is almost deserted as we speak."

"Which means that we should follow their lead, 'Mona," said a frantic-looking Slughorn. "I'm not too proud to say I doubt we stand a chance against him, even without his lackeys."

Firenze looked into the distance. "My prowess in archery will do little to slow down such a wizard, but a slain centaur, even one as disgraced as I, may be worth the sacrifice should it galvanize the herds. Pomona, if you stay, it will not be alone."

"Thank you, Firenze. You deserve a world better than this."

Slughorn struggled to meet Professor Sprout's gaze. He looked to the back of the Great Hall, where several older students, Malfoy, Parkinson, Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott by the looks of it, were huddled behind an overturned table. A small touch of pride swelled in his heart when he realized that some of the students he'd personally mentored, like Zabini and Greengrass, hadn't stayed. The remaining students might have an easier time of it by pledging themselves to the Dark Lord, but the others were made of better and stronger stuff. They wouldn't serve at the pleasure of a madman who delighted in the kind of torture and mayhem they'd seen over the past year.

Horace shakily stood back up, leaning uneasily onto Firenze for support. "Firenze, you're not even a man, and yet you're a better man than me." Slughorn winced as the newly-closed wound on his leg stretched and threatened to reopen. "I don't have much of a chance at running away on this leg, and the fact that I fought against the Dark Lord's minions, against so many fellow Slytherins, means I'm not likely to survive long even if I were to escape. But maybe I can follow Firenze's lead and give some misguided students a different idea of what the Green and Silver can stand for. And I'll be damned if I let one of my favorite students," he winked at Pomona, "steal all the glory."

"Horace! How very touching!" Voldemort's voice seemed to surround them, coming at them from every angle. "You seek to teach the few loyal enough to me to remain how to be a coward? I'm sure they have far too many examples of that already."

An arrow was at the ready in Firenze's bow, and Pomona's wand pointed towards the corridor. Slughorn fumbled with his wand before sidestepping to the right. Pomona moved in the opposite direction in an attempt to spread their attacking forces out.

"You seek to slow down my progress? To prevent me from reaching the students? My followers in Hogsmeade are already making short work of them. Any who escapes will soon find that there is no haven to be found. I own the Ministry. Hogwarts is mine. Soon, all of Britain will fall to me, and then my rule will only spread. Surely, you must realize that the world is full of those yearning for the power and the permission that I promise."

Voldemort casually spoke to his three remaining enemies while strolling down the center aisle of the Great Hall. His tone was matter-of-fact as if he were explaining his plans to a group of particularly dense children. "You have seen how the numbers of my followers expand quickly, while those willing to lay down their lives for the ideals you espouse dwindle, like sand falling from an hourglass. Severus and the Carrows reported that even the students you work so hard to protect were being molded to my purposes. As foreign-born wizards and witches learn what I have to offer, the number of Death Eaters will swell."

A window of the Great Hall exploded inward, showering all of them in shards of broken glass. Mounted on her own personal broom, Rolanda Hooch sped through the opening while firing spells directly at Voldemort. "Caught ya' monologuing, ya' great bloody bastard!" she yelled as she made a pass by him, peppering him with more jets of light. Pomona and Firenze took her emergence as the signal to begin fighting, and their arrows and spells were soon flying. Slughorn couldn't help muttering, "Hooch is crazy…" before he began firing a flurry of his own curses.

Despite their numbers and the element of surprise, Voldemort clearly had them outmatched. When the broom she was riding exploded, Rolanda was blasted off course, chunks of wood and splinters piercing her. She collided with a stone column at the side of the hall with a sickening crunch and didn't move.

Firenze valiantly fired arrow after arrow, but saw that none were penetrating the shield of his foe. Instead of aiming for Voldemort's well-protected vital areas, he changed tactics and attempted to hit lower extremities. He let loose an arrow that struck the ground before bouncing back up and under the shield, ripping through Voldemort's black robes and catching the wizard's lower leg. The wizard hissed in pain before turning on the spot and yelling, "Avada Kedavra!" Firenze's hooves couldn't find enough purchase to leap out of the way. His lifeless form collapsed to the floor.

Pomona whipped her wand towards the long Ravenclaw table next to her, which rocketed towards her opponent, who simply slashed with his wand to split the table in half. She cried out in anger and frustration as her next spells were each parried to the side. In the blink of an eye, Voldemort was upon her. He grasped her by the throat and lifted her from the ground as her wand fell from her hand.

Slughorn's hand shook from fear as he shot errantly. The few spells that were on target merely bounced off of the still active shield. Still holding Sprout aloft, Voldemort turned to face his former Professor.

"You were weak enough to give valuable information to that old fool and stupid enough to think he could provide you with safety. You've made your choice, now for some fitting consequences. How about you do the honor of ending one of your students? Imperio!"

Horace couldn't feel the pain in his leg anymore. Nor could he feel the exhaustion that had been gripping him moments before.

He heard a voice inside his head. The disembodied voice told him to kill the witch in front of him. A nagging thought in that back of his head feebly fought with the voice, but it was no use. Killing her would be easy, and it would make everything better.

The portly wizard stepped forward and trained his wand on the witch, who was kicking at another wizard robed in black. Quite impolite of her to kick like that, he thought. The wizard seemed to almost be caressing her, but she struck at his outstretched hand. Yes, killing her was the best course of action.

The nagging thought was becoming more and more frantic. It was trying to wrest his concentration away from his task. It seemed to be trying to convince him that he knew this strange woman. And there was something familiar about her… But no, the voice was certain that he must kill her. There just wasn't any other option.

"Hor… Horace…" wheezed the professor, even as Voldemort's grip tightened.

Slughorn's glassy eyes shot open. "'MONA!" he cried, as a blast of green light shot from his wand, not at his former student, colleague, and friend, but at the monster holding her. Before the light reached its target, Voldemort brought her in between the curse and himself. Her body went limp in his hand, and he flung her corpse to the floor in front of the horrified caster.

Horace Slughorn fell to his knees. His wand slipped from his fingers as he grabbed Pomona's still-warm hands in his. Voldemort stepped forward and said something to him, but he didn't hear what had been spoken. He simply looked at the bright and inquisitive student who had wowed him all those years ago with how quickly she took to potion making. His thoughts fluttered to her fifth year when she had actually taught him about lesser-known properties of gurdyroot and how it could enhance potions. He'd just gone over those findings with his sixth-years a week ago. Last year, he'd headed to her greenhouses to remind her of the story as soon as his class covering gurdyroot had finished. With everything that was going on, he had yet to mention it this year. He'd planned to remind her of it over the weekend.

A flash of green light reflected in the tears that were flowing freely down his large cheeks.
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