|SIYE Time:11:26 on 3rd December 2023|
Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory
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Genres: Action/Adventure, General, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
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: 38035; Chapter Total: 815
Awards: View Trophy Room
Harry was milling about outside of the Defense classroom with the rest of the Gryffindors. None were particularly pleased about how their first day of classes had gone thus far, and few looked especially hopeful about their next class. Two minutes before class was to begin, the door to the room unlocked from the inside and the group of students filed inside.
Standing in front of them, Professor Umbridge wore a sickly sweet smile. Her desk was emblazoned with an official nameplate that read "Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge - Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic." She held her hands clasped in front of her primly as the students settled into their seats.
"Good afternoon, class!" she called out a bit too forcefully.
The few who murmured "Good afternoon" in return did not satisfy her.
"No, that simply will not do," she narrowed her eyes while her mouth remained frozen in an unsettling smile. "When I greet you, I expect you to reply, 'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge!' Let's try again, shall we? Good afternoon, students!"
An uninspired reply of "Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge" rose from the class.
"Well done. That wasn't so hard, now was it?" She scrunched her face in a way that Harry thought made her look like a pig snorting before she smiled again. "You may put your wands away and get out your quills."
Many of Harry's classmates quietly groaned or let their shoulders sag. Rarely had they experienced a fun or interesting class that began with stowing their wands. While the students rummaged for quills and parchment, Umbridge strode to the blackboard and tapped it twice with her stubby wand. The words "Basic Principles of Defense" appeared on the board. Once the rustling had ceased, she began to speak again.
"Your instruction in this subject has been woeful during your previous four years, hasn't it? You have been saddled with multiple professors who had no right to be educating young witches and wizards. It seems that your class, in particular, has not been exposed to enough of the ministry-approved curriculum specifically designed for students of your level. This has resulted in your being vastly below the expected standards of a beginning fifth year."
Harry gritted his teeth as he stared at her angrily. The only thing stopping him from arguing was the tiny, Hermione-esque voice in the back of his head that reminded him of Cedric's warning. Umbridge's patronizing voice droned on as if the lot of them were eight-year-olds who were incapable of coherent thought. "Yet I believe it possible to rectify this oversight through careful instruction and hard work. By giving your all to the curriculum of theory-based defensive magic, each of you has the chance to score well on your upcoming OWLs. You may begin by copying down the course goals."
She tapped the blackboard again, erasing the previous words and replacing them with three numbered sentences. The scratching of quills across parchment was the only sound for several minutes. Harry forced himself not to roll his eyes at the second goal, which was centered on knowing when the use of defensive magic was legal. If there were times when it was illegal to defend yourself, Harry thought, he was likely to have broken some laws during the numerous times he'd been attacked by various creatures, magical items, and deranged professors.
After the students all finished, Professor Umbridge returned to the blackboard. "Do each of you have your copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?"
A few murmurs of agreement accompanied several bored nods.
"It is quite simple to respond in a respectful way. We will have to work on that together. When answering a question, my expectation is for you to reply with a 'No ma'am, Professor Umbridge,' or a 'Yes ma'am, Professor Umbridge.' Give it another go. Do you have your books, class?"
"Yes ma'am, Professor Umbridge," replied the Gryffindors sullenly.
"Isn't that so much better?" Her smile grew wider as she surveyed the students. "Open your books to page five, where you may start reading the first chapter, 'Basics for Beginners.' Talking will not be tolerated."
Over the course of twenty minutes, Harry only managed to force himself to read four pages. The textbook was devastatingly uninteresting, transforming what had been one of his favorite classes over the past two years into an interminable slog. He glanced at Ron, who had propped his head up with one arm to feign reading while looking downward, but his telltale jolt when his head began to slip indicated that he was no more enthralled than Harry.
Beyond Ron, Harry could see that Hermione had not yet opened her book, which was the kind of phenomenon that happened so rarely that he felt a little startled. Instead, Hermione's book was closed on her desk while her hand was outstretched into the air. She shifted in her seat and switched arms, rolling the shoulder that had been reaching skyward. Her eyes were straight ahead, despite Harry's attempt to gain her attention. After nearly five more minutes and two additional arm swaps, Professor Umbridge must have decided she could ignore the situation no longer.
"Was something about the directions unclear to you or do you have difficulty reading?"
"No, the directions were very clear. I just have a question," she replied. Harry's eyes were glued to Hermione. Had a professor spoken to him in that way, he would not have been able to maintain such a deferential tone.
"There is no need for questions at this point. Simply read the chapter I have assigned." Umbridge smiled and cocked her head to the side slightly to indicate the end of the conversation.
"But my question is regarding your course aims."
Umbridge's smile diminished slightly as she stared at the girl. "Your name?"
"It's Hermione Granger."
"Miss Granger, I think the course objectives are very clear for anyone who has read them carefully."
"It doesn't say anything about actually using defensive magic." More than a few students looked to the blackboard to confirm, though Harry seriously doubted Hermione would be causing a fuss if she hadn't quadruple-checked first.
Professor Umbridge emitted a small, tinkling laugh as she shook her head gravely. "Using defensive magic? I assure you that no such need will arise in my classroom. You mustn't expect to be attacked while I teach, you silly little girl."
"We're not using any magic in this class?" said Ron a little more loudly than necessary.
"In order to be called upon in my class, a student must raise their hand, Mr. â€”"
"Weasley," offered Ron angrily, as he thrust his hand into the air.
Umbridge smiled more broadly as she ignored Ron's hand, who looked exceedingly frustrated. Harry's hand shot up, as did Hermione's. The woman's eyes flit back and forth between them until she called out in her simpering voice, "You had another question, Miss Granger?"
"I thought the whole point of this class was learning how to defend ourselves? How are we supposed to do that if we can't practice magic?"
"Tell me, Miss Granger," Umbridge's wide smile dripped with disdain as she spoke. "Are you a trained expert in the field of education? Have you been accredited by the Ministry of Magic to oversee the tutelage of students? Or are you simply a misinformed child questioning those who know better than she?"
Not all of the fifth-year Gryffindor students were entirely fond of Hermione. In fact, several thought her to be fairly insufferable. But the entire class seemed to take a sharply inhaled breath at the Professor's cutting words. Before Hermione could respond, Umbridge continued.
"I thought so. Our lessons will be much safer than what you've experienced. You will learn about defensive magic through reading and writing reports â€”"
"But how will we know how to use it if we never practice!" called out Harry, attempting to contain his frustration.
"Raise your hand, Mr. Potter!" replied Professor Umbridge in a sing-song voice, smiling as she ignored his fist as it thrust into the air. Turning, she encountered several more students with hands raised. "Name?"
"I'm Dean Thomas."
"Mr. Thomas, what is it?"
"Kinda the same question as Harry. How are we going to know we can do this stuff if we get attacked and we've never practiced any of it?"
"I do not enjoy repeating myself, but I will say it again: you will not be attacked while in this class." Harry thought she sounded as if she was speaking to toddlers afraid of a vacuum cleaner as her smile became somehow wider. "I prefer to remain on the positive side of things, so I try to refrain from criticizing the ways this school has been run in the past. But the wizards you have been unfortunate enough to call 'Professors' have clearly filled your head with ridiculous stories and unfounded fears. It is simply educational malpractice to have exposed you to such inappropriate magic and creatures, not to mention hiring one."
She turned back toward Dean just in time to miss Neville reaching across the aisle to grab Harry's shoulder and shake his head. Harry took a deep breath before training his eyes on his shaking fists.
"Professor Lupin was the best teacher we've had!" said Parvati with more than a little frustration. Several other students nodded emphatically.
"You have not raised your hand!" came Professor Umbridge's response with false sweetness. "Your class has been introduced to curses and spells far beyond your capacity, completely inappropriate for children of your age. I understand that you have not only been made to witness illegal curses being cast but have had them used against you."
"But that's because our last professor was actually working for You-Know-Who, yeah?" said Seamus. "Didn't he just get convicted of being a Death Eater?"
"You did not raise your hand!" Umbridge replied hotly, a touch of her sweetness melting away. "I have spoken with the Minister about the subject at length, and he assures me that the perpetrator is mentally unstable. Though the man may indeed believe he was working under the directions of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I must ask that none of you believe the deranged ramblings of a lunatic." Her eyes flashed at the multiple hands raised before pointing at a student.
"My name's Parvati Patil. We've got our OWLs at the end of the year, but isn't there a practical section of the test? How are we going to get through that if we haven't practiced beforehand?"
Umbridge rolled her eyes before responding, "If you study the theory that undergirds the use of defensive magic, you should have no difficulties with your spellwork under the close supervision of your exam proctors."
"Even if we've never cast them before?" Parvati looked nervous, along with a few other students.
"Yes, Miss Petal," she replied slowly, enunciating each syllable as though Parvati couldn't understand English. "Trust that I am much more aware of the requirements for a Defense OWL than any of you."
"And what about when we get out into the real world? You really think the theory alone is going to make a difference?" Harry was tapping his foot unconsciously to release some of the angry energy building inside him as he glared daggers at Umbridge.
She looked almost as though she would lose her composure, but pulled herself back, affixing the smile that she had lost in the deluge of questions. "Real world, Mr. Potter? There's nothing out there in the 'real world,' that will harm you, unless you count the people and institutions who don't take kindly to liars." Her smile became much more of a sneer as she nodded to Harry primly.
"Let me be clear: you've been told many falsehoods in the past few months by your classmates, newspapers, and even some of your faculty. These irresponsible rumor-mongers have attempted to fill you with dread about 'the return of a dark wizard' and how our world is in peril. Such talk is dangerous, and I will not abide it."
"You think I'm lying about Voldemort?!" Harry's voice had risen to a yell. At the mention of the name, Lavender gasped, Neville let out a small scream, and Seamus fumbled an inkwell off his desk, shattering it to pieces. Umbridge's smile only grew wider.
"You see how your lies affect those around you? That's twenty points from Gryffindor for your outburst. If you wish to ruin your chances for the House Cup on your first day of classes, please continue. I'm sure your fellow classmates would be thrilled by that." Her voice was softer again as she surveyed the classroom and soaked with pleasure as all eyes followed her. Harry wanted nothing more than to scream at her, but held his tongue.
"I do not understand why a few formerly-respected wizards and witches have chosen to believe the kind of lies that have been spun. Perhaps they are dissatisfied with the long era of peace and prosperity that Minister Fudge has ushered in, or maybe they hope to destabilize his administration in a foolhardy attempt to grab power. Or they may have simply been bamboozled by the lies of a misguided, attention-seeking child."
Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Harry with loathing written across her smiling face.
"Voldemort is back!" yelled Harry. "And if Fudge doesn't believe it, he's going to get a lot more people killed!"
"Mr. Potter! That's a week's worth of detentions!" The false sweetness had gone from her voice as her chest heaved. "My office, starting at five tomorrow evening."
She turned back toward the rest of the class, who were all in a state of shock. She did her best to regain her sickly-sweet demeanor, but her voice trembled with the rage beneath her smile. "I assure you that your classmate is lying. I work directly with the Minister of Magic and know for a fact that not one shred of evidence has crossed his desk."
"That's because he refuses to look at my memories or question me under a truth potion! If he did any of that, he'd know I was telling the truth!"
"Silencio!" With wand outstretched, Professor Umbridge glowered at Harry. She spoke in nothing more than a harsh whisper, but anger infused every word. "The Minister of Magic has far more important things on his plate than listening to the lies of an insolent child with a hero complex."
Harry tried to yell a reply but was incapable of producing any sound. Umbridge smiled and cocked her head to the side again before returning to her desk. Harry angrily grabbed a quill and scratched two words into the margin of his Defensive Magical Theory book before angling it toward Ron.
His friend looked every bit as furious as Harry felt, but there was hesitation in his eyes when he read Harry's note. When Harry tapped the words three times in rapid succession, Ron relented and began to search his bookbag. With a glance at Professor Umbridge to ensure she wasn't watching, he gripped his wand and whispered, "Finite incantatem."
Harry breathed out and heard the sound of the air leaving his nostrils. With determination, he stood up from his desk. "Hey! If you say Voldemort isn't back," many of the students around him jumped at his sudden return to sound-making and the name he uttered. "How the hell did my friend Viktor die?"
"I will not be spoken to in such a manner!" shouted Umbridge, rising from her chair. "I will not â€”"
"HOW'D HE DIE?!"
"With your temper and inability to control yourself, I wouldn't be surprised if it was you!" A collective gasp rose from the students. "Get out of my class this instant! To the headmaster's offâ€” No, to McGonagall's office! Maybe she can knock some sense into you!"
As Harry threw his things into his bag and stormed out the door, he heard her yell out at his retreating form. "Fifty points from Gryffindor and detention for a month!"
Harry stomped down the corridor more angry than he could ever remember feeling. He had mentally gone through half a dozen things he wished he'd yelled by the time he reached Professor McGonagall's door. He knocked much louder than necessary and was greeted by a very irritable-looking Deputy Headmaster a few moments later.
"Mr. Potter?! What are you doing here? You are supposed to be in Defense!"
She opened the door wider and indicated a chair for him before striding behind her desk and sitting down. Harry noticed her desk was covered in color-coded time charts broken down by the day, each with multiple slips of paper with class names stuck to them.
"Umbridge decided that fifty points from Gryffindor and a month of detention wasn't enough, so she sent me to you. She was going to send me to Professor Dumbledore's office, but she thought you'd be more likely to 'knock sense into me.'"
"What in heaven's name happened?" exclaimed McGonagall, taken aback.
"Well, it was a miserable class to begin with, but it really went downhill when she claimed that Voldemort isn't back and called anyone who says differently a liar," began Harry, trying to remember the order of events. "I lost twenty points for arguing with her on that point, then got a week of detention when I told her Fudge was going to get more people killed if he kept ignoring Voldemort's return."
McGonagall wore a pained expression as she listened, her lips growing thinner by the minute, but she did not interrupt.
"She cast a silencing charm on me after I said that Fudge wouldn't dare question me under truth potion or watch my memories. I got someone to dispel it, though â€”"
"Mr. Weasley, I presumeâ€¦" she posited, but the look in her eyes reassured Harry that his friend was not in danger from the admission, so he nodded.
"Ron dispelled the charm and I yelled that if she didn't think Voldemort was back, how'd Viktor die?"
"Of course you did. And how did she respond?"
"She accused me of killing Viktor, tossed me out of class, took an extra fifty points, and added another month of detention."
Professor McGonagall's eyebrows shot up in surprise as she released a long breath from her nose. She raked a hand across her face and said nothing for several long moments. She stood up and began pacing through her office, muttering to herself under her breath words that Harry couldn't quite hear. With one final sigh, she returned to her chair and pulled a tin from her desk drawer.
"Take a biscuit, Mr. Potter."
With a tentative hand, Harry reached into the tin and produced a small, buttery-yellow biscuit.
"Please eat and listen to me closely. When Minister Fudge appointed Dolores Umbridge to the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, Professor Dumbledore had already been speaking widely about Voldemort's return. The Minister has been vehemently denying the truth, as you are no doubt aware, and currently views the headmaster as an adversary. Even as his administration loses power, he has placed one of his most loyal surrogates here at Hogwarts to undermine the spread of the truth that he so fears."
Harry chewed his biscuit silently as he watched his professor struggle to pick the right words. He was reminded of his own challenging conversations with his friends about the rogue memory and his meetings with McGonagall and the other three members of the group.
"Professor Umbridge is likely to goad you at any and every available opportunity. If she can provoke you into outbursts like today, she will find ways to use that against you. And against our cause as a whole. Much of the evidence points to Voldemort's return, but he has not yet come into the open. If Dolores Umbridge can convince others that you are an untrustworthy source, whether here at Hogwarts or among the broader wizarding community, our work will become much more difficult.
"Over the summer, I spoke to the School Governors regarding the ways some students weaponized attacks against others through the media. They have agreed to ban interviews between news publications and current students, but that prohibition does not extend to faculty. A motivated Dolores Umbridge would not hesitate to use the press to discredit you in ways that the school would be hard-pressed to counter."
Harry polished off the last bite of the biscuit and released a long breath. "Thanks for talking to the governors, Professor. Knowing you did that means a lot." She gave him a small nod before continuing.
"Defense is not an elective, Mr. Potter. I cannot remove you from the class. As Deputy Headmistress, I have a certain amount of leeway when it comes to punishments, but I must impress upon you the seriousness of the situation. Would I prefer to have the House Cup in my office and for you to spend some hours of the day outside of detention? Of course. But your Defense professor is an expert in doing things by the book, trained through multiple years of ministry administration.
"The loss of points is not the most dire of circumstances. Professors typically dole them out a bit more generously during the first week of classes to help remind students of their ability to earn them for good behavior and participation. Gryffindor will likely not be too far behind by the end of the week if that's something you're worried about. I imagine she will make further attempts to use them to create a rift between you and other students, which is another reason to try to avoid provoking her."
Despite being buoyed by her insistence that the points weren't a great concern, Harry started to protest the characterization of him provoking Umbridge, but Professor McGonagall continued anyway.
"The detentions are another matter. I cannot overrule a professor who has given a student detention, but I may have a workaround to help in the short term." She pointed her wand at a massive book on her lowest bookshelf, which zoomed to her desk before dropping with a small plume of dust. She opened it to nearly its midpoint and began flipping through pages until she found what she was after. She read a few paragraphs to herself before addressing Harry again. "Professor Umbridge may know the laws governing the Ministry of Magic better than anyone, but she has not yet outpaced me in the understanding of our school bylaws."
The beginnings of a sly smile tugged at the professor's lips as she reread the passage in question. Harry couldn't make it out from his vantage point, especially not upside down, so he resigned himself to sitting quietly until she finished.
"Not that we've always abided by the letter of the law, but the rule on the books states that a professor may only assign detention to a student once per class period. She gave you one week first, correct?" She glanced up at him from the book and he nodded emphatically. "I should be able to have the second round of detentions expunged."
Relief washed over Harry as he allowed himself to relax, albeit slightly.
"Don't get too excited yet," McGonagall's sharp eyes were bouncing from paragraph to paragraph as she flipped pages. "Professor Umbridge will no doubt see this as an affront and an escalation. By using the rulebook against her, she is likely to study it for opportunities to wield it to her advantage next time. At the very least, I'm sure she will not make the mistake of assigning only a week's worth of detention to you in the future.
"Your wisest course of action would be to ignore her when she seeks to provoke you into confrontation. Remember that her goal is to discredit you and that no argument, no matter how cogently stated or truthful, is likely to sway her. Instead of engaging with her directly, tread carefully and keep your head down as best you can."
"But she's lying to everybody!" retorted Harry in frustration. "She's trying to convince everyone that Voldemort isn't back!"
"And the truth of that will come out, Mr. Potter. The question is whether you will choose to repeatedly provoke someone with the power to make your life much more challenging in the meantime."
"So I'm supposed to let her lie about it all?" Harry felt revulsion at the thought of leaving her falsehoods unopposed.
"I expect you to grit your teeth and ignore her antics as much as possible. Focus on what you stand to lose and let that motivate you. I'm sure that you would much prefer to spend your evenings with your friends and on the quidditch pitch rather than in Professor Umbridge's office. There are ways to combat her misinformation other than yelling at her during class."
The end-of-lesson bell rang and Professor McGonagall closed the heavy book in front of her. With a sigh, she looked back at Harry. "Here's your assignment: find creative ways to shine a light on the truth in a manner that Professor Umbridge cannot punish. Learn her tactics and oppose them wisely. And Mr. Potter?"
She stood and opened the door to her office with a flick of her wand. The faint hint of a smile flickered across her face. "I would be exceedingly disappointed if a future outburst denied Gryffindor the best Seeker our house has produced during my time at Hogwarts."
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