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SIYE Time:11:01 on 3rd December 2023


Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory
By Forge2

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Category: Post-HBP
Characters:All
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: 38023; Chapter Total: 379
Awards: View Trophy Room






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"The headmaster has requested that we accelerate the timetable for your Occlumency training," said Snape dispassionately. "He wishes for you to focus time and attention on blocking out specific memories, rather than blocking out the Dark Lord's intrusions entirely."

Harry sat uncomfortably in a front-row desk as he listened to Professor Snape. He took in the man's words even as he did his best to focus on steadying his breathing. Running to make it to an Occlumency session on time in November had left him stressed mentally and physically out of breath, which led to his worst showing all term. Even though Harry had arrived at the Potions classroom ten minutes early this time, his nerves were still on edge.

"Your progress in the art of Occlumency thus far has been… uneven. You have displayed far more aptitude than I thought possible at times, then have regressed substantially in subsequent sessions." Snape paced back and forth in front of the blackboard, his face dour. "I think it probable that your mental shields will be tested sooner rather than later, and the headmaster agrees with my assessment."

Another long breath escaped Harry's lips as he willed his heart to remain calm. This was unsettling news, but it wasn't totally unexpected. Voldemort had been laying relatively low in the first few months since his return. With Fudge ousted and Minister Bones attempting to project strength, the Dark Lord and his followers had not been acting openly yet, but Sirius had assured Harry that there was a great deal happening behind the scenes.

Professor McGonagall narrowed her eyes as she stared at Harry from her seat in a chair she had conjured. "If they are correct, your mastery of protecting certain memories shall become even more crucial."

"Professor McGonagall has agreed to provide you with specific memories to protect from my attacks. Before each attempt, she will specify the memory or memories from which you will attempt to turn me away." Snape sneered as he stepped into his storage closet to give McGonagall a moment with Harry, even if it didn't reach the level of malevolence Harry expected the Potions Master.

"Alright, Mr. Potter," began McGonagall as she stepped closer to his desk so her voice could remain quiet. "I have three memories that I would like for you to protect. Each of them varies in terms of how familiar Professor Snape will be with them. The first is our memory of our first Occlumency lesson. Because you both experienced the event, it will be good practice for fending off incursions by an enemy like Voldemort, who could use the shared experience of your fight in the graveyard as an entry point into your mind."

Harry nodded slowly as his mind returned to his first lesson of Occlumency from the previous term. He was quite sure he'd rather not have Snape perusing his emotions and thoughts more generally, but Harry was certain that it wouldn't be ideal for Snape to know just how their interactions made him feel..

"The next memory for you to protect is that of our conversation after our foray into the Chamber of Secrets over the summer," said McGonagall thoughtfully. "Professor Snape was not privy to that conversation, though I daresay you might prefer for him not to be aware of your dalliance into the Slytherin Common Room. The added desire to keep that bit of knowledge from him should be an added incentive to repel his attack, though he would also be saddled with the reminder of the myriad ways you have excelled in fighting for others over the years. If he is going to be forced to see your inner thoughts, it may as well be from a moment when you displayed humility in the face of earnest praise."

She allowed a faint smile to grace her lips, but Harry was far too concerned with the possibility of Snape realizing that he'd gained entry into his house's restricted space to care much. If Snape realized that he, Ron, and Hermione had pilfered Boomslang skin from his personal stores to create Polyjuice Potion, the three of them would be in a world of trouble.

"And the final memory you will be protecting is one regarding the Rogue Memory which has, in part, given rise to your need for Occlumency." Harry's eyes grew wide as any semblance of calm fled his face as McGonagall continued. "This instruction comes directly from Professor Dumbledore. He feels confident that the memory itself is completely safe in your mind due to its own protections, otherwise he would have had better luck examining it for himself. Instead, he wishes for you to protect your recollection of speaking with the headmaster regarding the implanted memory.

"It is likely that Voldemort would attempt to search your mind for memories including Professor Dumbledore, since he poses such a threat to the goals Voldemort and the Death Eaters pursue. As such, the memories of your conversations with him are both the most likely to be targeted and those that could do our side the most harm. When advising us regarding this change in tactics for Occlumency lessons, he has required that Professor Snape relent if and when the matters you discussed with the headmaster become clearer. Though I trust him fully, please alert me should any of his attacks set off alarm bells for you."

With the flick of her wand, the sound of two knocks on the storage room door and the immediate reemergence of Snape indicated that Harry's nerves were about to be tested. He attempted to re-slow his breathing as the man stepped forward.

"Severus, I've informed Mr. Potter about our objectives and which memories he will be attempting to protect. One is of our first Occlumency lesson, the other is a moment from over the summer after an excursion here at the castle, and, of course, the memory which Albus suggested."

"Very well," said Snape, his dark eyes focused on Harry. "The act of protecting your mind from general intrusion is similar to defending from a more targeted attack. The main difference is that you may choose to allow an attacker to delve into the memories which you are not defending, potentially slowing their progress toward more important memories."

Harry nodded slowly, trying to absorb the information that almost felt like real advice about how to succeed.

"My target will be the first lesson of Occlumency. Prepare yourself. Legilimens!"

A thought occurred to Harry as the man's wand began to raise, but he ignored it as he tightly closed his eyes and focused on steadying his breathing. The black void of his mind was only blank for a few moments before the classroom Harry was sitting in began to materialize in his mind.

With great effort, Harry turned away from the memory, attempting to pull a broom in another direction, but the image seemed to swell into view as he moved. He plunged himself downward in an attempt to leave the memory behind, causing the image to fade slightly from the edges of his peripheral vision.

Snape would not be denied. He pressed into Harry's mind more fully as the memory rematerialized as Harry's consciousness focused entirely on the targeted thought, details of the conversation between the three participants and Harry's emotions swimming before Harry.

A gasp gripped Harry as his eyes shot open back in the classroom. Snape looked unsurprised as he frowned and scribbled something onto a parchment on his desk.

"You are not yet proficient in defending against intrusions of the mind," Snape said quietly. "But I will admit that I thought it likely you would have regressed while away from Hogwarts. I assume you practiced nightly?"

Though his breathing felt ragged already, Harry managed a "Yes, sir." Snape glanced at McGonagall, who looked almost smug. Snape looked back at Harry with his face expressionless.

"My next target will be your conversation with Professor McGonagall," replied Snape, his wand already raised.

"Professor, I have a question…" Snape didn't lower his wand but also didn't cast his spell. "If Voldemort uses Legilimency on me, will it alert him that there's important stuff in my head that I'm trying to hide if he notices that I know Occlumency? Would me knowing anything at all about Occlumency tip him off?"

Snape twirled his wand between his fingers as he lowered his arm. "A reasonable line of inquiry… The Dark Lord's powers are exceptionally potent, especially regarding his ability to know the mind of another. In this case, however, it seems unlikely that progress would be unexpected. The Dark Lord will no doubt assume that Dumbledore would desire for your mind to be better protected than when he delved into your mind so easily at his resurrection."

Harry nodded while trying to steady his breath. The moments of respite while Snape was explaining were helpful, but the next attack was likely to still come sooner than Harry would have preferred. As if he sensed Harry's thoughts already, Snape raised his wand.

"Legilimens!"

The spell was cast before Harry had a chance to squeeze his shut, and the black of Snape's eyes met Harry's green. With no warning, the memory of his conversation with McGonagall swam in his vision in all directions. Her voice echoed in his ears as his face burned under her sincere apology. He tried to turn away from the memory, only for it to remain firmly in front of him until Snape relented.

"Do you think that the Dark Lord will give you warning before attacking? You must be ready at a moment's notice to protect your mind!" Harry rubbed his temples as Snape seethed. "Your prospects for defense drop precipitously if you allow an attacker such a foothold, much less allow for prolonged eye contact!"

"I know, I know…" groaned Harry, frustration bubbling up in his gut. "It's hard to pay close attention to your instructions when I know that your going to invade my mind at any second."

"May I ask what you were able to glean, Severus?" interjected McGonagall.

"Another conversation in which Mr. Potter's ego is further inflated," answered Snape with a scowl. "Perhaps you would benefit from reviewing some of his moments of mediocracy?"

"No, I've dealt with Potter both in Transfiguration and as his Head of House. I'm very aware of both the heights to which he can ascend and the disappointments he can produce. I only asked because there was a detail in that conversation that I thought likely to provoke a response from you. Perhaps young Mr. Potter was able to protect it, even if the remainder of the memory was compromised."

The dull pain that was already working its way through Harry's head was enough to make it difficult to concentrate, but Harry had no problem noticing the venom spreading across his professor's face. "An interesting theory, but highly doubtful. I would be more than happy to test it out, though. Legilimens!"

Harry's eyes were well and truly shut well before Snape began to speak, creating a vision of an inky black void in his mind. It only took a few moments for Harry's feeling of flying to shift toward the image of the corridor leading to the Chamber becoming clearer in his head.

The ache behind Harry's temples blossomed again as he tried to concentrate on a different memory, any other memory. He briefly thought about his first time on a broom, diving after the Remembrall Malfoy had tossed away. But the vision quickly dissipated like a candle's smoke in a great gust of wind, leaving Harry staring at the ever-clearer memory of his conversation with McGonagall.

His match First Year in which he'd accidentally caught the Snitch in his mouth? No sooner had he envisioned the moment that it fluttered away into nothingness. With a jolt, Harry opened his eyes in the potions classroom, sweat beading down from his aching brow. He wiped his forehead with his sleeve as Snape sauntered back to his desk to write something on his parchment.

"Mr. Potter was at least able to attempt a defense on that effort, feeble as it might have been," the man finished his notes with a stab of his quill. "Should Mr. Potter or any other of your students attempt to enter Slytherin House in the future, I can assure you that their punishment would make anything levied upon them by Dolores Umbridge seem pleasant by comparison."

"Of course, Severus," said McGonagall stoically. "Mr. Potter has no doubt put his rule-bending ways behind him after all these years." Harry has a sinking feeling that there would be further investigations by Snape into the means by which he'd entered the Slytherin Common Room, but didn't have much time to dwell on his growing unease.

"The final memory. The headmaster has given instructions about how I should go about attacking in this case. Once I reach information of substance, I will cease the incursion into your mind. Given how quickly that is likely to happen, this may be over more rapidly than your previous attempts. Ready yourself! Legilimens!"

Again, Harry clamped his eyes closed and experienced the black nothingness of his mind. With a pained shudder, the vision of Harry sitting on Dumbledore's overstuffed chair began to materialize.

With desperation, Harry tried to focus on the recent match against Hufflepuff. He thought of the feeling of anticipation and nervousness once he'd located the Snitch, how he tried to throw off Cedric by pretending to be interested in coaching up Ron, and the exhilaration of speed as he raced toward his target. His focus was unwavering as he pictured the colorful jackets worn by the crowd, the sunlight fighting to break through the low, grey cloud cover, and the glint of gold out in front of him.

Suddenly, it was as if he had projected the memory into the space before him, only for it to open up into a three-dimensional recreation of those moments. The Snitch was only a few broom-lengths in front of him as the wind whipped through his hair. He reached forward and clasped his fingers around the small golden ball as the voice of Lee Jordan echoed through his mind. He was being mobbed by Ron, then Angelina, then the remainder of the team as the crimson-clad fans roared.

Harry let out a grunt of pain as Dumbledore's office superimposed itself into his mind's eye. The headmaster was quietly offering a lemon drop… The throngs of fans were cheering for Gryffindor's win… Dumbledore steepled his fingers… Friends jostled the shoulder that had been injured in his collision with Cedric…

Gritting his teeth with exertion, Harry tried to focus on the memory of the match even though the pain in his head steadily grew in intensity. He caught a glimpse of Ginny's warm, brown eyes and refused to see anything else.

"Enough!"

Harry's eyes opened to see Professor Snape leaning over his desk, partially supporting his weight with an arm that was clinging to the wooden furniture. The sensation of a searing pain overtook Harry as he blinked back unshed tears and he let out a sharp breath followed by a swear. For long moments, Harry focused on breathing in and out, the pain radiating from somewhere behind his eyes subsiding slightly with each released breath.

Professor McGonagall had stood up from her seat but made no move to break the quiet stillness of the room as Harry and Snape caught their breath. Her eyes were narrowed as she peered back and forth between the two. Snape drew himself back up to his full height and looked across the room to his fellow professor.

"That was his best effort to date," he said softly while meeting McGonagall's gaze. "He was able to repel my attack more effectively than any of his previous attempts. By focusing on a specific Quidditch match, his mind became a great deal more focused. I ended the exercise when it became clear that I would not be able to make more progress toward the protected memory without using a heightened level of force. Those tactics would be inadvisable when dealing with this specific memory."

Snape didn't look back at Harry as he spoke, focusing solely on McGonagall. Still, Harry could sense a grudging respect behind his professor's voice.

"Mr. Potter, could you explain what happened, since I was not fortunate enough to have a window into your mind as you fought to protect the memory?"

"Err… Yeah, I guess," replied Harry. His head was still swimming in pain, but he tried to focus on what had just happened. "I was trying to concentrate on a specific memory with a lot of detail, so I went with our last match against Hufflepuff. When Professor Snape began to go after the memory with Professor Dumbledore, I tried to envision what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling during the match. In the past, the memories I focus on seem kind of like a huge image, but this time it was like…"

Harry searched for the right words to describe the experience, but he had a hard time putting it into words.

"It was as if he were not merely viewing the memory, but was immersed within it," supplied Snape, furiously writing notes on his parchment. "I was only able to see brief flashes of the protected memory after that, and they were jumbled by the detail of the Quidditch memory."

With a slight grimace from his headache, Harry nodded. "Exactly. It was like I was in a Pensieve, except that I wasn't watching myself experience the memory from the outside. It was like I was doing it all again."

McGonagall looked intrigued, but she refrained from asking further questions. "Very well. Unless you object, Severus, I think it would be prudent to allow Mr. Potter to visit the Infirmary and then get a good night's rest."

Harry attempted to remain impassive, but a great flood of appreciation washed over him as his Head of House gave him a small nod. Snape declined to object to her suggestion, leaving Harry able to give hasty goodbyes to them both before hurrying to see Madam Pomfrey. Within a matter of minutes of her giving the all-clear, Harry was fast asleep on his four-poster, dreaming of Quidditch glory, a long corridor with a locked door, and Dobby wearing a tuxedo with a top hat and cane.

~RLM~

The following weeks felt like a blur to Harry. There was always something he was expected to be doing, and those expectations didn't always line up with what he wanted to do. His professors had redoubled their efforts to prepare the Fifth Years for their OWLs by assigning enough homework to make even Hermione grumble. Harry and Ron had all but given up on History of Magic, only turning in the most cursory of work. Even so, Harry was still drowning in assignments.

Angelina had seemed magnanimous when she canceled Quidditch practice in the week after their victory over Hufflepuff. Unfortunately, a letter from an undisclosed professional team (Ange wouldn't say which) had her drilling the squad relentlessly once training resumed.

Advanced Defense lessons and the Defense Club were definitely highlights for Harry, even though planning for them took a great deal of time and effort. Cedric and Harry were no longer the only two of the leaders to have successfully cast a corporeal Patronus. Cho, Ron, and Ginny had each managed the feat over the holiday break or during the first months of the new term.

Harry was pleased and relieved once Hermione finally managed to do so herself. The silvery mist from her wand had looked almost ready to turn into some sort of animal for weeks, even though it dissipated before it could fully form. Her determination grew as she practiced next to Ron, who was doing his best to encourage her without being a distraction. When her otter joined Ron's terrier, Ginny's horse, and Cho's swan, she shone with the kind of joy that Harry had long missed seeing on her face.

Despite her long struggle to cast a Patronus, Hermione had returned from the holiday break with a helpful addition to their group. She had researched a fairly advanced spell called the Protean Charm as a means of keeping the Defense Club organized. It took her a while to perfect, but she was able to create a set of simple cards that were handed out to members of the group. Each had two blank spaces which would populate once Hermione wrote on the original versions. After the leaders determined when the Fourth Years were going to have their specialized meeting, Hermione simply wrote the day and time it would be onto Ginny's card, which disseminated the information to all of the other Fourth Years. She could also update all the members about when their combined meeting would be by adding the time and date to her own card. Every card would heat up or vibrate in their pocket, thus cutting down the amount of time the leaders spent tracking down students.

At the Gryffindor table, Ron was sitting opposite Harry and Ginny while having a lively argument with Hermione regarding Muggles, much to the chagrin of the other students seated to either side of them. Harry was doing his best to stay well out of the conflict, especially since Ginny kept poking him under his ribs whenever he went to take a sip of his juice.

"I'm just saying that it's absolutely mental!" exclaimed Ron, gesticulating wildly with a sausage-topped fork. "How am I supposed to believe Muggles got all the way up to the moon? It's rubbish!"

Hermione released a longsuffering sigh as she tried to make eye contact with Harry, who was purposefully avoiding her gaze. "Just because I can't explain all the intricacies of space flight doesn't mean that it's rubbish!"

Before she could really settle in for a retort, a flurry of owls began to wing into the Great Hall. A ruddy brown owl swept over the Gryffindor table and dropped its burden in front of Hermione. A copy of the Daily Prophet was neatly bound with string so that most of the cover story was obscured. Only the headline was legible to the group of students who were suddenly staring with mouths agape.

Azkaban Breakout!

Dementors Abandon Ministry!
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