SIYE Time:10:08 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: 37998; Chapter Total: 1014
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
Combined two chapters, which means the tone change will begin with next week's chapter. Hope y'all enjoy!


The late-spring sun shone brightly in the clearing where Harry landed. He immediately covered his eyes, accustomed to the low light of the vault as he was. A thicket of trees lay a few dozen yards away, and Harry quickly made his way towards them. He drew deep breaths, marveling at how fresh the air smelled. He was not meant to live underground, that much was certain. He wouldn't have called it optimism, hope, or even happiness, but he did feel somehow lighter now that the subterranean world was behind him.

He crouched down behind a tree so that he was obscured by the trunk and some shrubs growing near it. He directed his wand towards the dozens of small punctures and cuts on his forearms and legs. While he could be reasonably assured that he'd never be able to cut it as a professional healer, his wounds had soon closed enough that he wouldn't leave a trail of blood droplets wherever he went.

Harry had apparated a good half mile from the pond. He hoped it was far enough away to keep anyone who might be monitoring the Weasley's property from being alerted. He looked around for landmarks so that he could get moving.

A little ways off, he noticed the plot of land where Bill and Fleur had said their vows less than a year prior. Memories of the night came flooding back unbidden.

Fred and George setting up a prank that they later sprung on Ron. Bill's happy tears as he watched Fleur walk up the aisle towards him. Mrs. Weasley smiling warmly while straightening her husband's tie. Mr. Weasley resting his hand on Harry's shoulder while chatting amicably with some distant family member. Ginny beaming as she danced back down the aisle after the new bride and groom had left.

Harry shook his head quickly from side to side, trying to dispel his memories. He needed to press onwards to meet up at the pond, and he needed to do it carefully. He didn't think this could be an ambush, but he wasn't about to let down his guard.

He grabbed into his pocket for his DA coin. A moment later, it warmed in his palm as the words "safe at pond?" materialized. He was grateful to feel it warm again less than a minute later, with the words "yes. you coming?" etching themselves into the metal. He quickly replied, "be there soon" before he pulled his invisibility cloak from his pouch and covered himself.

Through the underbrush he crept. Months of living on the run had helped train him to step softly and to avoid anything that might betray his position if stepped on.

Harry stayed on the side of a gentle hill as he moved silently towards the pond. A little ways away, he was able to catch a glimpse of the clear water pool as the sunlight glinted across its rippled surface. A silvery hare hopped back and forth near the water's edge. Though he couldn't see Luna herself yet, her Patronus somehow seemed to warm his insides, as if a tiny dementor that had been hovering over him had been chased away.

His fears of an ambush were dispelled, and Harry began to run forward. The sudden, overwhelming need to see another human being, an actual friend, bubbled up inside him, and he was sprinting towards the pond before he fully had time to comprehend what he was doing.

The hare looked up from a patch of grass it had been examining and cocked its head to the side. While Harry was still a few steps away from it, he felt a pull at his ankle. The world was suddenly upside down, and he watched his cloak float down to the ground that was a good six feet below him.

"Luna! It's me! Are you all alright?" The rush of blood to the head combined with the panic of being upside down suspended by his leg reminded him, albeit too late, that rushing into a clearing based solely on an ethereal rabbit wasn't the wisest decision.

A jet of red light struck him in the chest, and he felt his wand fly out of his hand. Harry kept one hand on his face to keep his glasses from falling off as he frantically looked at his surroundings.

"Petrificus Totalus!" called out a dreamy voice from behind a nearby tree. Harry felt his entire body become still, but not before the slight twinge of a smile reached his eyes.

Harry felt his body being eased to the ground. When his back was steadily against the cool grass, his eyes darted back and forth to the three faces that stood over him. Their wands were out and at the ready.

"Right then," said the dark-haired young woman. "How can we be sure it's really him?"

The younger blonde girl next to her looked quizzical. "I've got a question that only Harry would know the answer to."

The redhead young man opposite her replied, "Me too. How about we each ask him something."

The witch next to him nodded. "We're each going to ask you a question, then release you from the full body bind. Answer quickly, and don't you dare make us think you're trying something tricky, got it?"

Harry couldn't actually move his head to nod, but the look in his eyes seemed to be enough of an answer.

"This should be easy enough for the real Harry:" the redhead smirked to himself. "What did Fred and I give to you back in our fifth year? Next?"

"When we lost our first match in my fifth year, what did Wood do afterward?"

The wizard next to her sputtered in laughter. "Damn, woman! That's better than mine."

She punched him good-naturedly in the shoulder, then turned her attention to the youngest of their group.

"Hmm. How about this… When you and Ginny barged into the fourth-floor broom closet…"

"He took Ginny where?!" called out the male voice.

"...I had already been in there with someone for a while. You seemed very embarrassed and blushed rather a lot before promising to never mention it to anyone. Who was I with?"

The source of the male voice snorted loudly and nearly fell over as Harry's eyes grew wide. "I must be losing my touch. You both put me to shame." He brandished his wand and readied it at Harry's unmoving body. "Ange is going to lift the spell, and Merlin help you if you don't know the answers. Ready?" The two girls nodded.

Harry felt the bind dissipate as it was removed..

"Right, well… Umm…" Harry's cheeks were suddenly red. He kept his gaze fixed away from the blonde. "George, you two gave me the Marauder's Map so that I could sneak into Hogsmeade in my third year. You didn't even realize that my Dad helped make it." The three standing over him noticeably relaxed a bit but kept their wands pointed at his prone body.

"Ang, I wasn't conscious for many of the times that Wood had to mourn a loss," George laughed again, "But I remember him trying to drown himself in the showers. Very glad we came back to win the Cup that year."

Angelina smiled wide, and her wand was back at her side, as was George's. With reddened cheeks, he looked imploringly at the last inquisitor. "Do I have to?" She nodded.

"Fine!" Harry looked away and muttered in a low voice. "We found you in a passionate moment with Parvati."

Luna smiled sweetly. "For the record, I knew it was you as soon as you started blushing. But you are exceptionally fun to tease."

Harry sat up, only to find a freckled hand in front of his face. He grabbed it and felt himself being pulled up to his feet and into a tight embrace.

"It's good to see you, Harry. We were all worried, especially after the last couple of days." George released him, and Harry had just enough time to see tear streaks on his face before Luna wrapped her arms around his midsection and squeezed.

"You look like you've been through hell. I'm glad you're okay." Harry blinked back his own tears as she held him for several long moments.

She sniffled a few times during the long moments before she let go, and Angelina pulled him into a hug, too. "Get over here, Harry. It's been too long. We thought we lost you."

The breath caught in the back of Harry's throat. He was certainly not used to being embraced, and the isolation of the past few days on top of the previous months made it all the more jarring to have friends surrounding him like this. Hugs had been few and far between, usually either awkward, sisterly hugs from Hermione or decidedly non-sisterly hugs from Ginny. He did his best to swallow a sob that had begun to materialize.

"I think it would be beneficial to get Harry somewhere safe," said Luna as Angelina ruffled his messy black hair. "We can swap news and try to figure out some next steps."

George nodded emphatically. "Ang, you're better at side-along apparition than me, and he's pretty banged up. Want me to take Luna and you help Harry?"

"Should I be jealous that you want to apparate with another girl, George?"

"Eh, I get the feeling that, despite my devastating good looks, I might not be her type." He tried to grin at Luna, even though the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "And note that I'm not getting defensive about you apparating with a bloke who's been on the cover of Witch Weekly. That's very secure of me if I do say so myself."

Angelina gave Harry a quick look up and down. "He's pretty scrawny… I probably won't look to trade you in for an upgrade. At least not yet."

Harry saw George proffer an arm to Luna while giving Angelina a rude hand gesture. He grabbed tightly onto the older girl's arm and felt the familiar pull of his body into nothingness.

The next few hours ended up being some of the most excruciating of Harry Potter's life. After reaching the safe house (the home of Angelina's parents), the four sat down to swap news about what had been happening. By the time Luna, Angelina, and George shared their updates the hollow look in Harry's eyes had fully reappeared.

As best anyone could guess, Voldemort had decided to go on an all-out offensive after leaving Gringotts. Harry was speechless as the others relayed the rumors that had filtered out from Hogwarts paintings and ghosts. A fallen ministry had allowed the despondent Myrtle to give a summary of Voldemort's purge of the castle that she'd learned from portraits, and with better details regarding the battle in the Great Hall that she'd personally witnessed.

Each death seemed like a battering ram to Harry's chest. He didn't bother to hide his sobs as he learned of so many who were killed. He collapsed onto Angelina's shoulder when she told him about McGonagall. A modicum of pride flashed onto George's face and she recounted how his products had helped his favorite Professor.

After finishing up how things went at the school, George took over as the lead storyteller. "We haven't been able to confirm anything officially, but it seems as though members of the Order were all targeted. I'll spare you the details for now, but we lost…" his voice shook with emotion. "We lost a lot of good people."

Angelina moved to sit on the couch next to George, wrapping an arm around him as he gathered himself.

"There's no easy way to say this." Harry wanted to shout for George to hurry up but also wanted to bolt out the door, as if hearing the news would make it more real. George let out a cry, and Harry knew the Weasleys must have lost someone.

"I was out on guard duty when they came. I only got knocked out as the Death Eaters broke into Aunt Muriel's, but Mum, Dad, Ginny, and Fred…" A strangled sob wracked George while tears flowed from Angelina and Luna.

Harry's head was spinning. It couldn't be true. He sprang out of the chair before the dizziness hit. His vision was suddenly blurry and he had the sensation of falling.

He awoke to find Luna kneeling over him, attempting some sort of incantation. Harry turned to see George curled up on the couch with his head in Angelina's lap. He didn't seem to notice the fat teardrops that regularly dripped from the tip of her nose onto his shirt.

Realization of the horrible truth began to set in. Harry looked frantically back and forth between Angelina and Luna. Luna was the first to move, confirming with a small shake of her head.

The Weasley parents, who had taken him in and treated him like a seventh son. A twin who'd protected him, both on the Quidditch pitch and in the halls when everyone thought he was the Heir of Slytherin. The girl he'd saved in his second year, who'd recklessly stood by him in the Department of Mysteries, and whom he spent the happiest days of his life with, their fingers interlocked.

He would never see that blazing look on Ginny's face again. Never watch her sprint forward, quaffle in hand, aimed at an overmatched Keeper who didn't stand a chance. He wouldn't get to marvel at her ferocity when being teased by her brothers. He would never experience being on the wrong end of her Bat Bogey hex for making her mad, never get to enjoy making up under the big tree behind her dad's shed. Harry would never get the chance to tell Ginny how he felt about her, that he…

Suddenly sick to his very core, Harry scrambled to the bathroom and vomited, the burn in his throat matching the stinging in his eyes.

By the time he reemerged and steadied himself on a chair near George and Angelina, he felt completely hollow. More news washed over him like waves crashing against a battered shoreline. Bill and Fleur had been able to flee to France and Charlie was still in Romania, but Percy had been killed in a purge of ministry officials who had connections to blood traitors. His death coincided with most of the Aurors, including Tonks and Shacklebolt. The werewolves had been ordered to execute any of their number not loyal to Voldemort, and Remus had been lost that same day.

Luna wrapped up with the members of the DA that she was aware of. The Creevey brothers hadn't made it. Neither had Hannah Abbott. Angelina and George had apparently not yet run out of tears, and their muffled sobs restarted with the news that Katie Bell had been killed. And the portraits had confirmed that Neville, Parvati, Padma, and Seamus didn't make it, either.

Harry lost track of time and the count. It was more than his mind could comprehend. So much loss. By the time the three had finished, a numbness had overtaken him.

Finally, it was George who broke this silence. "I know you're in bad shape, Harry. You look like you've been through hell. But do you have any news?"

Harry didn't respond for a long moment. He didn't speak, didn't even move. Eventually, he whispered, "I lost them both." He then dissolved into tears once more.

A great and terrible cry rose up and out of George. In a fit of rage, he put his fist straight through the wall, tore it back out, then repeated the feat a second time before Angelina could reach him and pull him away. George slumped to the floor, ignoring his bleeding hand. Angelina pulled his head to her chest. Whatever attempts to comfort him she made were lost to her own sobs, but she held on for dear life as grief wracked both of them.

Luna's face was in her hands, clearly overwhelmed by the flood of emotions. With a herculean effort, she walked to the chair that held a shaking Harry and gently took his hand in hers.

The four of them stayed there for a long time before sleep finally caught up with them.

Harry had offered the last of his Dreamless Sleep potion to the others, but none accepted. When he finally awoke in the Johnson's spare bedroom, the late morning light was streaming in through an open window. George's bed was already empty. Harry reached to a small dresser to grab his glasses and his wand.

After a quick shower and getting dressed, he sat down on his bed to think. His friends hadn't pressed him for details last night, but he knew they wanted to know more about how things had gone so very wrong.

Harry winced. He did not want to go through each detail of his year on the run, but he also didn't want to leave his friends in the dark. Dumbledore had given permission for him to share about their lessons and the work of undoing Voldemort's horcruxes with Ron and Hermione. With them gone, (Harry shuddered involuntarily as tears began to pool in his eyes) it made sense to tell someone else. With as many close calls as he'd experienced, Harry couldn't help seeing the wisdom in ensuring that someone knew of the horcruxes for when he eventually met his end.

On the other hand, by involving them in this hunt, he'd basically signed the death warrants for his two best friends. Would things have been different if he'd gone on the search alone? Would they be alive, would so many of his friends be alive, if he'd taken up this mantle on his own?

Harry gasped for a gulp of air when he suddenly realized that he'd been unconsciously holding his breath.

As much as his inclination was to blame himself, he couldn't help knowing that Voldemort would have done this eventually. He thought back to all their frustrations with Dumbledore, with his secrets and lies. Harry would never be a wizard as powerful or as intelligent as his former headmaster, but he could learn from some of the old man's mistakes.

Though his body felt like it was made of lead, Harry trudged downstairs. Angelina's parents were already gone for the day, so Ang, Luna, and George were huddled around the kitchen table. From the untouched food on their plates, it looked as though none of them had recovered much of an appetite.

"Bit of good news this morning," said Angelina, though her voice did not sound like good news was something she really believed in. "Heard from Alicia. She and Wood were able to grab a portkey to Barcelona, then made their way across the pond. She couldn't give many details, but they should be safely to Canada by now."

Harry didn't smile, but his countenance did seem to become slightly less dour. He sat next to Luna and dished some cold eggs onto his plate, before promptly ignoring them.

"Are you three going to head out, too? Do you have any idea what you'll do next?" Luna looked to Harry and to George and Angelina. "With my father gone, I'm having a hard time thinking through what to do."

"It sounded like Ange's parents were going to try to leave England. Is that right? Are you going to head out with them?"

Angelina looked over at George. "Have the last few weeks changed your mind about wanting me to move in with you? It seems like I'll be trying to find a new career since the Quidditch league has been reduced to shambles, but I'd rather prefer doing that with you."

"Well, I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing from here on out, but I suppose I could be persuaded to spend some more time with you." George waggled his eyebrows just a little as a smirk crossed his lips. Even though the smile didn't look all that genuine, Harry felt slightly better to hear George teasing.

Angelina made a rude hand gesture toward the redhead before turning to Harry. "What about you? Any ideas on what's next?"

Harry sighed. It was as good of an onramp to the conversation as he could hope for.

"That's kinda complicated," he began, not meeting anyone's eyes. "I'm sure you've guessed, but we were doing some stuff to fight against…" Harry trailed off and grabbed the bridge of his nose. "I'd completely understand if you don't want to hear the details, especially since it's cost us so much…"

He felt like he was drowning. How in the world could he explain two years of training, searching, fighting, fleeing, and loss?

As he paused, Angelina stood up abruptly, opened a cupboard, and reached for the top shelf. George nodded and conjured four glasses. Before Harry could protest, Luna spoke up.

"We're with you, Harry. We're not going to judge. If you're up for telling us, we will listen."

"You don't understand," whispered Harry, his fists clenched tightly. "This is stuff that got Dumbledore killed. The mission he set me on… I told Ron and Hermione that they didn't… If they hadn't been with me, they might still be…"

"ENOUGH!" yelled George, with no trace of the prankster remaining on his face. Harry sat stock still. "You aren't allowed to pretend this is all your fault! You saved Ginny's life in my fourth year and Dad's life in my seventh! You bankrolled Fred and me to start our shop! I'm still shocked Mum and Dad never found a way to adopt you, and all of us were looking forward to you being a brother-in-law someday!" George's chest was heaving and his face had gone Weasley red. "Did I miss anything?!"

"I believe Harry saved Ronald with a bezoar after he was poisoned in my fifth year," posited Luna.

George gave a slight bow to Luna. "Do you see, Harry?! How can you not understand? I'm here trying to list off all the ways you've made the life of the Weasleys better, and I bloody forgot a time you saved one of our lives because you've done it so many bloody times!"

Harry had just started to open his mouth to argue when Angelina pointed her wand at him. "Silencio!" Harry's mouth opened and closed animatedly, but no sound came out. He eventually looked at George, then Angelina, then Luna. He released a large, inaudible sigh.

"Okay," started Angelina. "We're going to try this again. Harry, I think it'd be fair to assume that you've got a lot more to share. I will do my best to prevent this beautiful manchild," she waved her wand at George, "from interrupting you if you can do your best to explain things without blaming yourself. Agreed?"

Harry nodded.

"Excellent. Should we head to the living room?" She didn't wait for a response before grabbing George's hand. He managed a small shrug before following her to a couch.

It was a challenge to tell the whole story. Hermione was so much better at explaining everything so that it all made sense. He made it through his own sixth year fairly quickly, pledging to go back through and give further details on some of the memories later. There were quite a few gasps when Harry told the tale of the horcrux hunt. None of the three had ever gotten the full story of the night that Death Eaters broke into Hogwarts, and they looked stricken as he explained the last few minutes of Dumbledore's life.

"Bloody hell…" murmured George in a way that felt very much like Ron.

"But at least you got the horcrux!" interjected Angelina, who was clearly shaken by the story.

"No, actually we didn't."

Harry took a long breath before restarting the tale. George and Angelina both unleashed quite a few swears once Umbridge became a character. All were impressed once he reached the part where they infiltrated the Ministry of Magic.

Soon, Harry had come to one of the parts he was most wanting to avoid. How could he in good conscience drag Ron's memory through the mud, especially less than a week after he'd readily sacrificed himself on account of others?

He did his best to gloss over the incident and didn't dwell much on the intervening time until he reached the point when Ron triumphantly saved him from the locket in the pond. He didn't explain that the horcrux had taken the form of himself and Hermione in a state of undress, but made sure that they knew that it took the form of some of his greatest insecurities and that he bravely destroyed it.

Soon, he was walking them through their capture and how they were taken to Malfoy Manor.

Luna was glad to do most of the heavy lifting on this part of the story, having been there for most of it and having been filled in by the trio afterward. This gave Harry a chance to refill his glass. The fire whiskey burned going down, but his throat felt slightly better after a few sips. As Luna finished with Dobby's heroic sacrifice and burial, Harry readied himself for the final push.

It took several attempts and much longer than he wanted, but Harry eventually shared how the Gringott's mission fell apart. To his great credit, George listened intently without interrupting as Harry muddled through Ron's last few moments and his choice to give his life to destroy a horcrux. He sat there in the silence that followed for a few long minutes as Harry tried to compose himself. Tears streaked George's cheeks. He eventually stood and looked out the window into the distance.

With voice a hoarse voice and a shaking hand, he lifted his glass. "Ron. The best of the Weasley brothers, even if he never could see it himself." He downed his fire whiskey as the others followed his lead. George then reached over and grabbed Harry's closest shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Harry nodded and returned to the story.

It was less than five minutes before he got to Hermione. Luna had been standing near Harry's seat while listening, but as his voice began to shake again, she moved to sit on the arm of his chair. She reached down and took one of his hands in hers, applying light pressure. He pushed forward.

He shook when trying to describe how Hermione had blasted him into the vault, securing his safety at the cost of her own life. Before he could describe her actions, Angelina gasped. "Oh no, Harry. Did she… Did she force you through the doorway? Is that how she…"

A sob escaped him as he nodded. Had Harry looked up, he would have seen Luna's face paler than he'd ever seen it. Angelina's hands were steepled around her mouth and nose. George, who was still reeling from what had happened to Ron and a significant amount of alcohol, hadn't quite followed.

"Wait a sec. What did Hermione do?"

"She knew she didn't have much time after the cutting curse hit her stomach, so she used the last of her strength to get Harry to safety. She saved him." Angelina answered.

George swore loudly and shook his head as he stared at the ground. "I teased her for being a rule-follower for so many years. A goody two shoes…" He let out a mirthless laugh. "Only later do I find out that she must have broken more school rules than Fred and I ever did, on top of twice breaking into the Ministry of Magic and leading a raid to destroy a bit of You-Know-Who's soul by breaking into bloody Gringotts. She puts me to shame."

Luna lifted up her glass. "To Hermione. The bravest witch of her age."

Harry's eyes burned as much as his throat as he knocked back another drink. He could feel that he was losing a bit of his ability to communicate clearly, so he quickly finished his tale. He explained how Kreacher had come to his aid and been able to transport him to Grimmauld Place. He mournfully told of how the elf had defied his insane former master by helping him escape before the Death Eaters arrived. And before he'd fully realized it, he had recounted the entire story.

Though his vision was a little blurry from the drinks he'd consumed during the marathon of narrative, Harry couldn't detect the anger or disappointment he'd been unconsciously expecting.

"Lemme say something, Harrikins." said George, who seemed more than a little tipsy at this point. Angelina looked a little nervous, but Luna seemed quite ready for whatever was going to happen next. Harry did his best to look him in the eye, at least as much as his overactive sense of guilt would allow. "I've lost too many family members already. Five family members in a week!" Angelina squeezed his hand. "Dammit! I keep forgetting about Percy! Damn it all, I was so bloody angry with him and now I can't…" He took a breath and tried to regain a bit of composure.

"What I'm saying is that I've lost a lot of family in the last few days. Fred and I have considered you like a little brother for a while, as did Ron. Just about all of us had you pegged as the only one we'd consider allowing Ginny to marry someday. Merlin knows she loved you. And none of that's changed." George angrily shook his head, as if to clear the fog that had been rolling into his brain for the last hour or so. "I hate that we've all lost so much, but none of what happened changes that you're part of the family." He drained his glass again and got to his feet unsteadily.

Harry's eyes brimmed with tears as George stepped towards his chair while Luna pulled on Harry's hand and forced him to his feet. George engulfed him in a bear hug. And there in Mr. and Mrs. Johnson's living room, between two of his few surviving friends, Harry James Potter heard words that hadn't been spoken aloud to him since he was a baby.

"Love you, Harry."
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