|SIYE Time:10:55 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: 38018; Chapter Total: 560
Awards: View Trophy Room
Harry thought that few things in the world were more magical than Christmas at the Burrow. He and Sirius had arrived laden with gifts, which joined the mountain of presents that were already threatening to crowd out the tree. Mrs. Weasley outdid herself with a holiday feast that wouldn't have looked out of place spread across the entire Gryffindor table.
Bill and Fleur planned to leave via portkey to France in the early afternoon to spend a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Delacour and catch up with Gabrielle, but that didn't stop them from arriving at the Burrow with a bottle of Molly's favorite wine and several gifts of their own. Charlie wasn't able to take time off because of a dragon that was about to lay eggs any day now, but Percy had sent word that he'd be joining them before making his way to visit his girlfriend's family for the first time.
Ginny relayed to Harry that Percy hadn't been around much as of late, but that he and their father had been eating lunch together every week or two. Apparently, Fudge's fall from grace had caused some soul-searching for Percy. His missteps during his time under Mr. Crouch had not been completely forgotten by the new administration, but his work ethic and near-maniacal desire to prove himself to be exceptional had led to Minister Bones offering him a position. It was more of a lateral move within the sprawling bureaucracy of the Ministry, but Arthur had assured the family that he was working with good people who had their heads on straight and that Percy was learning a great deal about life in the real world that didn't get covered in any of his NEWT classes.
Though the delicious meal was a bit uncomfortable at times due to tension between Percy and his siblings, Harry enjoyed himself thoroughly. The only time things went far enough to warrant a reproachful look from both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley was when one of the twins loudly asked Sirius if he'd received a formal, written apology from Fudge just as the man was shaking Percy's hand while being introduced by Harry. Percy's face flushed quickly as Molly grabbed George by the ear, but Sirius merely let out his bark of a laugh and gripped the embarrassed Weasley's hand more firmly.
"For what it's worth, I don't have time to hold a grudge against everyone who thought I was a raving murderer," said Sirius with a grin. "I figure the more good people we have in the Ministry trying to make the world a better place, the better off all of us will be, yeah?"
The loud voice of Mrs. Weasley having a go at George in the next room and Sirius' placating words helped Percy keep his composure. The young man met Sirius' gaze. "That's just the kind of spirit I love to see. My father has told me quite a bit about you in the last few months, including that you were instrumental in saving Ron and Ginny from the late Mr. Crouch's deranged killer and bringing him to justice. Though I did not get to spend nearly enough time with Mr. Crouch before his untimely death, I'm sure I speak for all those who respected him when I thank you for what you did that night."
Sirius snorted as Percy shook his hand rather more vigorously than necessary. "To be honest, I was never a fan of Crouch, even before he tossed me into Azkaban without a trial. But I'd rather die than let someone hurt Harry or any of his friends, and that seems to cover anyone with the last name Weasley."
Harry watched Percy's face drain of all color, but Sirius slapped him twice on the back before sauntering toward Fred, who was surreptitiously shaking a present and listening to its contents intently.
"Perce!" cried Ginny with a predatory look toward her boyfriend. "Did Dad tell you that Harry finally asked me out over the summer?" Harry grinned as he ruefully shook his head while she led him by the hand next to her third-oldest brother, who looked a little perplexed.
"Over the summer? I was under the impression that you two were together at the Yule Ball."
"Not a chance! It took him the whole next term and then some to get his oblivious head out of his â€”"
"Presents!" called out Mrs. Weasley from the sitting room, which led to a small stampede as Weasleys and guests all clamored for a seat. Gifts were passed around and soon the room was filled with the sounds of wrapping paper being torn and gleeful cheers from grateful recipients.
Harry was quite pleased with the Practical Defense book he got from Hermione, only to laugh when his gift from Remus was a copy of the very same book. Ron had gotten him some sweets, which perfectly matched the present he'd purchased for Ron.
Sirius had bought Harry tickets to see the Holyhead Harpies take on the Chudley Cannons, which he'd gotten for Ron and Ginny as well. His best mate looked starstruck while his girlfriend looked predatory. Harry thought the match was likely to create a fair amount of friction between the three of them, but he couldn't help looking forward to it anyway. There was also a note scrawled on a piece of parchment at the bottom of his gift box informing Harry that his godfather had another present for him to open later. A thrill of excitement shot up his spine when he caught Sirius' exceptionally mischievous look.
Ginny's gift for Harry was twofold. First, she had rewritten the poem she'd sent to him in her First Year, now complete with illustrations. Harry snickered at the green blob with legs that was clearly meant to be a fresh-pickled toad, but thought it was a great keepsake that he could hold onto. She also presented him with a heaping helping of Treacle Tart, which she informed him that her Mum had been teaching her how to make. He knew how little enjoyment Ginny got from anything cooking-related, but Harry couldn't help see the pride on her face when he truthfully told her he loved it.
Ginny's gift from Harry was a small golden pendant that had once belonged to his mother. Sirius and Harry had been walking through the Potter vault when Harry noticed some jewelry in a small box. Sirius explained that the simple pendant had been something Lily wore occasionally while she was at Hogwarts. He assured Harry that it wasn't some family heirloom that might send the wrong signal if given away, and that he believed Lily wouldn't have minded it being given as a gift.
When Ginny opened the present and heard Harry's explanation that it'd once belonged to his mother, her voice caught in her throat. He assured her that he was happy for her to have it and that it meant a lot to have something connected to his family that he could share. After he placed it around her neck, she intertwined her fingers in his and leaned her head against his shoulder. Across the room, he watched as Fleur whispered something to Mrs. Weasley and furtively pointed in his direction. The two women smiled broadly as Harry felt his face begin to flush.
There was no need to guess what Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's lumpy present contained, but Harry's smile grew wide as he opened a newly-knitted Weasley sweater. This year's edition sported the Gryffindor red and gold colors with a Snitch sewn onto the front. Moments later, Ginny squealed when her sweater matched Harry's, the only difference being its size and the Quaffle emblazoned on the front. Ron's looked similar, except his had three hoops, while Fred and George's both had a bat with their initials on them.
When Harry went to thank Mrs. Weasley with a hug, she squeezed him extra tightly as her husband gave him a wink. "Alright, alright. I witnessed firsthand how much time and effort Molly put into these gifts, so they come with two requirements: First, I need a picture of the five of you wearing your sweaters." The Weasley boys let out a few mock groans, only to be quickly silenced by Arthur's reproachful look as Molly rummaged for a camera. "And second, you lot have simply got to win the Cup this year!"
A great cheer rose up from all five current members of the Gryffindor team, as well as most of the adults present. Even Percy, who wasn't known to care much for the sport, got a bit caught up in the revelry as the team posed for a photo. When Harry finally left with Sirius via floo late in the evening, he felt a warmth in his chest from spending so much time with such good people.
The night ended with Sirius handing Harry a small box no larger than a deck of cards. When the paper had been torn away, Harry held a small mirror that fit in the palm of his hand. With a bit of a flourish, Sirius produced an identical mirror from his pocket.
"Your dad and I enchanted these back when we were in school. They're Communication Mirrors and they'll let you contact me anytime. Prongs and I would use them when we got separated for detentions or over the holidays if I wasn't staying with the Potters. As much as I appreciate Hedwig bringing updates about how your term is going, I'd like to hear how things are going without having to decipher your scrawl."
After a few minutes of explanation about how to use the mirror, Harry marveled at the gift while walking back to his bedroom. While not nearly as eventful as the previous Christmas, Harry felt like it was shaping up to be one of the best holidays ever.
In between trips to the Burrow and Ginny and Ron visiting Grimmauld Place, Harry spent much more time with Remus than ever before. The two made a habit of cooking together whenever the former professor was staying under Sirius' roof, which was more often now that the weather was bitterly cold and his role as envoy to various packs of werewolves had slowed down for the winter. Sirius and Remus both spent an hour or two drilling Harry on some form of defensive magic or dueling on most days, and Harry enjoyed watching his parents' best friends good-naturedly compete with each other. As they grew more accustomed to each other, Harry felt more and more connected to the man.
One evening, Harry found himself lounging on the couch in the sitting room as Remus read through the latest edition of the Daily Prophet. The Defense book that he'd received for Christmas lay open to Harry's right, but it felt much more pleasant to absent-mindedly stare at glowing embers in the fireplace than do something that approximated studying during the holidays.
"Remus, I've got a question for you," said Harry as he propped himself up against the arm of the couch using his elbow. "What's up with you and Tonks?"
Remus smiled ruefully and shook his head. "How much did Sirius offer you to ask me about her?"
"Nothing like that. I just noticed her around a lot more and it seemed like you got along well over the summer. Ginny said she was certain that Tonks had feelings for you, so I figured I'd ask what was up."
With a sigh, Remus folded up the paper and set it aside. Instead of meeting Harry's gaze, he stared into the fireplace as the warm light danced in his amber eyes. "Well, there's definitely something there. She's incredible, even if she has poor judgment when it comes to men. But lycanthropy just complicates matters too much. She's young and whole. Saddling her with a broken man like me would sentence her to a life of discrimination and revulsion. It's too dangerous to even consider, not to mention that there's no certainty that my disease wouldn't be passed onto our children. I can't do that to her."
Harry sat up and looked at the man, but didn't speak for a long moment. Remus made no move to explain himself further, instead opting to continue watching the fire. When Harry finally spoke, his voice was quiet and a bit unsteady.
"I hadn't thought about it that way. Whenever I'm around you, I sometimes forget about the werewolf thing. You're just Remus to me. But I could see how wanting to protect others from danger would affect you." Harry breathed in through his nose and tried to summon extra confidence. "We're kind of the same in that way. With Voldemort trying to kill me, being close to me is probably way more dangerous than being with you, especially since you've got the Wolfsbane Potion. Do you think I made a mistake by asking Ginny out?"
That question got Remus' full attention. When he answered, it was with a pained expression. "Harry, that's completely different. We're going to win this war and you're going to have your whole life in front of you. You can't put everything on hold just because Voldemort has it out for you. Even once he's gone, I'm still going to be a werewolf."
"But you're choosing not to be with Tonks because you want to protect her. Because you care about her so much," argued Harry not unkindly, but with a good deal of emotion in his voice. "Why shouldn't I do the same for Ginny?"
"It's not the same," answered Remus forlornly, taking off his reading glasses and rubbing between his eyes. "The two of you are great for each other. I'm far too old and broken down for someone like Dora."
"Why do you get to choose that for her? Why can't she decide who makes her happy?"
"Look, Harry, I've been over this with her multiple times. Sirius, too. But I just can't ruin her life by shackling her with someone like me."
A long, slow breath slipped out of Harry's lungs as he watched Remus' shoulders sag. "For what it's worth, I think you could make her really, really happy."
"I appreciate that you think so," said Remus softly. He rose to his feet and began walking toward his room on the second floor next to the drawing room. "I'm going to turn in. Goodnight, Harry."
"'Night, Remus," replied Harry, returning his eyes to the fire.
The next morning, Harry awoke to find a rather surly-looking Remus rummaging in the kitchen for food. Even though the full moon wasn't for another week and a half, the man looked decidedly like someone who had gotten any rest.
"Morning, Harry!" greeted Sirius brightly before taking a bigger-than-necessary bite of an apple. "Sleep well?"
"Sure did. What's the plan for today?"
"Well, we've got to grab some things to get ready to host everybody for New Year's. With the amount of people coming over, we're going to need an awful lot of food. I also figure we might as well put up some decorations. We chucked most of the old stuff that had been gathering dust since my childhood, but I think Molly left a box or two from when we surprised Hestia for her birthday. Where'd that end up, Moony?"
"Think it got stowed in the drawing room, but it was at least five boxes. Want to grab them together?"
The three abandoned the kitchen and traipsed up the stairs, careful not to disturb the painting of Walburga as they passed the landing. Down the hall, they stepped into the drawing room as a touch of unease began to fill Harry. The room had always given him a sense of foreboding and his mood was rarely positive after the few times he had been tasked with cleaning it over the summer. Several boxes had been piled haphazardly in the corners and against the walls.
"Make sure to check your boxes before lugging them downstairs," advised Remus a bit grouchily. "I think the room has become a bit of a dumping ground for all sorts of odds and ends over the last year. No use carrying a heavy load all the way to the sitting room just to find out it's full of his dear old Mum's undergarments."
Sirius chuckled to himself as he began to sift through the boxes along the far wall and Harry busied himself in the near corner. Remus worked opposite Harry, occasionally grumbling to himself as he tossed around various boxes that the kids had haphazardly stacked over the summer.
After twenty minutes of searching, all three were in a sour mood. Sirius and Remus had snapped at each other more than once, and even finding two of the sought after boxes was not enough to bolster their spirits. Harry was muttering under his breath that Hestia should have taken her supplies with her when he opened a small box that lay almost hidden beneath an old, folded curtain and behind several larger boxes.
It was as if a cold, ominous wind had blown straight through the room and down Harry's spine. Gleaming malevolently upon a deep maroon cloth sat a heavy golden locket emblazoned with a serpentine S.
As Harry peered down at the locket, foreboding thoughts flashed through his mind. Doubts about Sirius' ability to take care of him, whether Remus was safe to be around, why Ginny was spending time around someone whom Voldemort was targeting, how other students looked to him for answers when he was barely skating by on luck on the cleverness of others. In rapid succession, multiple fears assaulted Harry's heart as the golden glimmer of the locket shone in his eyes.
He wanted to drop the small box, or maybe to fling it away, but his fingers gripped it all the tighter. Harry shuddered involuntarily as he slowly brought the locket closer to his face. Much as his heart was repulsed by the idea, he couldn't shake the feeling that he needed to examine the locket more closely. Perhaps he would be able to understand its mysteries if he could only hold it and perhaps get it to openâ€¦
A long way off, Harry faintly heard someone calling his name, but he ignored it as he gazed unblinkingly at the golden locket. A wry smile flitted across his face as he unconsciously decided that such a treasure was far too valuable to share with anyone else, and that he should plumb its secrets on his own.
A rough hand caught Harry on the shoulder and yanked him backward with great force. The box remained in Harry's vise-like grip, but the sudden change in direction caused the locket to fly into the air as Harry was flung away. He stumbled over his own feet and collapsed in a heap in front of a bewildered Sirius, who had his wand out and pointed at a spot near Remus' feet. The former professor had a wild look in his eyes as he drew his own wand and positioned himself between Harry and the locket.
"Moony! What the bloody hell happened?" shouted Sirius as he scrambled past Harry to form a united front to defend his godson.
"Something's all wrong, Padfoot," answered Remus as his eyes bore down on the locket. "When I called for Harry, I caught a glimpse of him and he looked bewitched. He was holding onto a box and wasn't responding. Think one of the Black family heirlooms might've slipped through our search last summer."
Sirius swore vehemently as he ducked down to check Harry as he lay on the ground. "Harry! Are you alright? Say something!"
Harry grimaced as he tried to collect himself. Most of the dark thoughts had abated slightly, at least enough for him to feel confident they had to do with the locket he'd just been holding. It took a great deal of effort to spit out a few words. "Locketâ€¦ Cursedâ€¦"
Another swear from Sirius was interrupted by Remus barking orders. "Get Harry out of here! I'll cover you!"
Harry felt strong arms hoist him into the air as Sirius rushed him out of the room while Remus maneuvered himself to remain between them and the locket. Once the two had made it into the hallway, Remus swiftly followed and slammed the door shut. Harry felt a bit better the moment the door closed, even as his godfather jostled him a great deal as he hurried down the staircase to the sitting room. Walburga began shouting epithets at them as they raced past her landing, but a strong spell from Remus behind them slammed the curtains back into place almost immediately, muffling most of what she screamed at them as Sirius made for the nearest couch.
Harry had hardly touched the soft cushions before the back of Remus' hand was pressed to his forehead while Sirius tried to peer into his eyes. A flurry of questions were leveled at him as he lay, but it seemed neither Marauder had the good sense to allow him the time to answer.
"Grab some potions!" Sirius' voice held more than a little panic as Remus leapt up and bolted for their storage. "Should I send for Pomfrey?"
Harry coughed twice, but the cough faded into a bit of a laugh as he lay on the couch. His godfather's face was pale with worry as he watched a small smile emerge on Harry's face. "No need for Madam Pomfrey, but maybe you could get Dumbledore?"
Sirius' eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head as his jaw became slack. Harry's smile widened as he imagined the myriad of possible outcomes that might be swimming through his godfather's mind at a request for the headmaster.
"Unless you want me to be the one to tell him we found another Horcrux."
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