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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: 239
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.

Original Timeline

Voldemort's Victory - Chapter 1-5 (Feel free to skip if you don't like major character deaths)

Tenochtitlán - Chapter 6-9

New Timeline

Harry's 4th Year - Chapter 10-28

Harry's 5th Year - Chapter 29-68

Harry's 6th Year - Chapter 69-Current
Hitcount: Story Total: 54591; Chapter Total: 1177
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
We’ve finally arrived at the beginning of the Order of the Phoenix arc! I’m super excited about some of the upcoming storylines and characters. Since I was away on vacation last week, I thought I’d drop this chapter a couple of days early. Important note: a reader let me know that my section breaks hadn’t been showing up once I posted a chapter, which led to weird transitions between sections of the story. I think that problem should now be solved, and I’ve backtracked to ensure all previous chapters were fixed.


In the smallest bedroom of the house at number 4 Privet Drive, a teenager with messy hair sat at his desk surrounded by opened envelopes and parchments of various lengths. The longest of the letters was signed by Hermione Granger. A hastily-scrawled letter from Ron Weasley lay to the boy's right, which rested upon a more formal-looking parchment folded underneath it from Neville Longbottom. A letter from the twin Weasley brothers was being used as a page marker in a nearby book. A brightly colored sheet of paper containing the correspondence from Luna Lovegood was propped against the wall with a short note from Cedric Diggory beneath it.

Harry Potter didn't consider himself much of a letter writer, but he'd responded to each of the letters his friends had sent him over the past three weeks. Except for the one in his hand which he was rereading again.

It wasn't that he hadn't had the time. With his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon determined to ignore his existence and his cousin Dudley's wariness, he'd had lots of time to himself. But things were a bit more complicated when it came to responding to the youngest Weasley.

It wasn't that her letter to him had been anything ground-breaking. Ginny wrote about the stresses of temporarily moving out of the Burrow to an undisclosed location, her frustration at not being able to take her new Cleansweep for a ride in the orchard behind her house, and her hope that she'd be able to make the Gryffindor Quidditch team in the upcoming term. Her mother was out of sorts as she adjusted to life in a new home, and that was causing tension between the two female Weasleys. Her dad was stressed by the move and by his job at the Ministry of Magic, which was not meeting the dangerous moment their world had been thrust into.

Hedwig had brought the letter the previous day, along with one from Ron. But try as he might, Harry couldn't figure out how to send back a message that seemed reasonable. He'd started four different letters only to scratch out multiple sentences on each one before chucking his parchment into the bin and starting again.

The response to Ron had been simple, but it remained safely in an envelope in the desk drawer. Hedwig had become rather agitated when Harry refused to give the letter to her, insisting that both letters bound for the Weasleys be sent together. His failure to put quill to paper for Ginny's letter resulted in hiding the completed response to Ron from his owl until he was ready to send both.

Harry's eyes raked over the letter one more time, bouncing up from her signature (she had simply signed off with "Gin") to the sentences which concluded her letter.

"Hoping you'll get to join us sometime soon, but at least we're not having much fun without you. When you arrive, we'll hafta make up for lost time!"

Harry's stomach turned an uncomfortable flip as he read the words again. His eyes closed, and a vision of a memory that he'd never technically experienced flooded his senses all over again.

He could feel the warm, summer sunlight even with his eyes closed. A soft breeze blew a few strands of fiery-red hair across Harry's face, tickling his nose just a bit. He scrunched his bare toes in the grass as he leaned against the thick tree trunk supporting him from behind.

Ginny, or at least some sort of older version of Ginny, was leaning against the tree to his right, with her head resting on Harry's shoulder. Her left hand flexed slightly within his right, and he felt his thumb making small circles around her knuckles.

The floral scent he associated with the youngest Weasley filled his mind and he sighed to himself in contentment. It really was quite the good memory, even if he'd never actually really experienced it.

"Hey, Harry? What are you thinking?" asked Ginny, a grin plastered across her slightly-swollen lips, and Harry couldn't help thinking about what might have been recently happening to leave her in such a state.

"I dunno, Gin. Just how happy I feel right now." Despite the harrowing weeks he'd experienced, Harry felt like there was truth in what his alternate self was describing. "And how much I wish I'd started to get to know you sooner. Especially after your first year, all of us should have done a better job of supporting you. Me, Ron, Hermione… Even the twins."

A feeling of hope swelled inside his chest. "It woulda been great to realize you were this amazing sooner."

Harry leaned over and pressed his lips onto the crown of Ginny's head, thinking to himself, "I can't believe this girl fought one of Voldemort's horcruxes all on her own for nearly a year." The thought still didn't make much sense to Harry, but he was focusing in on the response Ginny was about to give.

The memory began to fade, but he smiled as Ginny's laugh caught his ears before she whispered, "I guess we'll hafta make up for lost time."

Those words lodged in his head as he leaned back in his seat, peering down his nose at the parchment as he balanced on two chair legs. "Make up for lost time…" The way her words from the memory mirrored those written in Ginny's letter had flung Harry's emotions into chaos.

The question in Harry's mind was no longer whether he was interested in Ginny as more than just a friend. The answer to that question had been staring him in the face for several months, only for him to stuff such feelings away when an errant glance or accidental brush of an elbow caused him minor heart palpitations. Harry had thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her at the Yule Ball and during their Hogsmeade excursion, as well as the hours of friendly banter while training for Triwizard tasks and evenings spent playing games in front of the Gryffindor fireplace.

Though Harry didn't consider himself as good-looking as Cedric or as funny as the twins, he thought there was at least a moderate chance that Ginny still harbored some feelings for him. She had seemingly enjoyed spending time with him, both alongside Hermione and her brother as well as when they'd been one-on-one.

More pressing was the matter of Harry not being confident about how to go about dating someone. He hadn't seen too many relationships up close and certainly didn't feel confident about asking for advice. Even if he knew what questions to ask, Harry didn't exactly have a long list of people he could go to. Ron was just as clueless, if not more, plus he was a danger to blow up about relationship things regarding his sister. Hermione had some dating experience and knew Ginny well, but Harry got the feeling she wasn't the ideal candidate to offer him advice. If not for the circumstances, Harry thought Ginny might be the most helpful advice-giver out of the three.

In the end, he decided that Sirius was his best hope, but he wanted to talk to his godfather in person about the situation. Since he was going to explain the rogue memory to him soon, Harry figured that he would have ample opportunity to brief him on his growing interest in the subject of the memory and request help. Sure, Sirius was likely to tease him ruthlessly, but it'd be worth it to get his advice.

A part of him worried about the possible repercussions of a relationship with a member of the closest thing to a family he'd ever known. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were kind enough to allow him into their home and treated him more like a son than his Aunt and Uncle ever had, but Harry wondered if that goodwill might evaporate if he walked into the Burrow holding their only daughter's hand.

Then again, Harry found himself grinning at the mere thought of walking around with her hand in his.

As the trepidation regarding her parents subsided, the image of six protective brothers flashed in his mind. If Harry was honest, he wasn't too worried about Ron. His best mate could be overprotective at times, but Ron hadn't objected to him taking Ginny to the Yule Ball and had declined to stick with them as a self-appointed chaperone when they'd gone off to visit Sirius. Likewise, Fred and George had pranked Harry on more than one occasion, but they had always stuck to the kind of good-natured teasing all of the twins' friends expected.

Ginny's older brothers were harder to gauge.

Percy was much more concerned with rules and appearances than any of the other Weasley siblings. Their conversation at the Ball had been polite, but Harry recognized that Percy had not been inclined to believe that Harry hadn't entered the tournament himself. With the Ministry disputing Dumbledore's description of events, there was a chance that Percy might not be thrilled to have the night's sole corroborating witness dating his sister.

Harry had less experience with Bill and Charlie. Both had seemed nice enough during his few times around them. They were both the kind of cool that Harry admired. They worked in dangerous professions doing interesting work, as few jobs could stack up against Curse Breakers and Dragon Keepers. They also exuded confidence.

Harry had noticed Bill sticking close to Ginny when he and their parents had visited for the third task. From conversations during the term, he knew that Bill had a special place in his heart for his only sister and that they were quite close. Charlie was away in Romania caring for dragons most of the time but had been kind when they'd occasionally run into each other.

Even with multiple unknowns, Harry had the feeling that Ginny could make all of them fall in line if she so chose. She had flattered Percy into being more reasonable and loudly put Ron in his place within the space of an hour at the ball, not to mention that she'd described herself as more like the twins than anyone else. Knowing her, Ginny probably had Bill and Charlie wrapped around her finger, too. Beyond that, Harry wasn't sure that he cared whether her brothers had anything to say about who Ginny dated.

Out of all the potential complications which had been fluttering through his mind, the main problem was the memory on which he had just been dwelling. Harry wondered what Ginny would say if and when he told her about the memory that had attacked him the previous year. It wasn't that he wanted to keep it from her, but it was rather personal and could end up embarrassing. Her reaction when he'd explained how the memory came to him and a bit of its contents had been distrusting and fearful at first, but that made sense considering her experience with Riddle's diary. She'd eventually come around to believing it wasn't malevolent.

But how was she going to react when he revealed that the rogue memory not only involved her, but also had been the catalyst that spurred him to ask her to the Yule Ball? Would she be frustrated with him? Would it change how she thought about the past few months of becoming better friends?

He crumpled up another parchment and sighed deeply. He thought it rather stupid to second-guess himself constantly when he didn't even know if Ginny was even interested in him, so he decided to do his best to put quill to paper.

Thirty minutes later, he stared at his page sheepishly. It wasn't the kind of letter anyone would swoon over, but he had at least included a few more details than he'd written in his response to Hermione and had more than doubled what he wrote to Ron. He tied both letters to Hedwig, who hooted at him in frustration and nipped at his fingers before winging into the early evening light.

From the floor below his feet, Harry heard Uncle Vernon swearing, then the stomping that indicated his imminent arrival. The latch on the outside of his door rattled before the man burst into Harry's room.

"Ruddy owls!" he yelled, his face advancing from its normally pale hue to a deep crimson. "That's the third day in a row an owl has flown to or from this house in broad daylight! I won't have the neighbors thinking our house is infested with pestilent birds!"

"I can't help it that my friends send me letters…" said Harry crossly, knowing that he'd made an unforced error by not waiting the extra hour until darkness had fallen. In his eagerness to get his finally-finished letter into the air, he'd forgotten the growing tension he'd noticed from his brief interactions with his uncle over the previous days.

"That ruddy bird flew out from your window just now in full view of the Greenlees! They've been in their back garden all afternoon!" A vein in Vernon's neck was bulging threateningly as if it were ready to burst at a moment's notice. "You'll have our reputation in ruins!"

Harry scoffed, allowing his voice to rise more than he'd intended. "I'm sure the Greenlees already aren't fond of you after Dudley hit their car with a rock two nights ago!"

Vernon glowered at Harry. "You know damn well that wasn't Dudley! It was probably you, ungrateful little ingrate!"

"I don't need this," spat Harry, conspicuously pocketing his wand before storming past his uncle. He was halfway down the stairs when he called back over his shoulder, "I'm leaving!"

"Don't expect any dinner!" Harry heard the door slam behind him as he walked across the grass in front of the house. Muttering to himself, he made for the park a few streets over. Most of the equipment had been broken or defaced by Dudley and his gang of friends, but Harry found a lone swing that had survived their rampages.

He sat dejectedly, kicking at the gravel at his feet. It took a few minutes for him to cool down, but he soon felt regret about the situation. Not about telling Uncle Vernon off; Harry felt quite good about throwing his cousin's misdeeds in Vernon's face. But he'd promised Dumbledore that he would remain at Privett Drive unless extenuating circumstances arose, and his lump of an uncle yelling a bit surely didn't qualify.

Harry had wandered around a bit over the previous four weeks but had forced himself to remain in the house during the evenings and at night. It wasn't precisely what Dumbledore had wanted, but the headmaster hadn't forbidden him from leaving the house completely.

The sound of a crude song being sung loudly and off-key made Harry look to his left. Dudley and three of his friends were careening out of an alley on their bikes. Several bins had been knocked to the ground with garbage strewn in their wake. The frustration that had been subsiding flared back up as Dudley steered at one of Mrs. Figg's many cats, which narrowly avoided being flattened by the bike.

Dudley Dursley was still large for his age, but a year of dieting had slimmed him down considerably. More than that, he'd grown broader in the shoulders and less prone to losing his breath after short stints of activity after taking up boxing. Though Harry had long since moved past fearing his cousin, he wasn't fond of the idea of the teen being more adept at throwing punches.

His pugilistic prowess had spurred even more confidence, which had translated into Dudley and his friends running amok through the neighborhood ever since the start of the summer holidays. Harry had been careful to avoid the mayhem they caused, if only to ensure he wasn't blamed for their destruction.

He wondered how his cousin would react if the boys came upon Harry in a seemingly vulnerable position. Dudley was quick to bully kids smaller and younger than he was, especially when flanked by Piers Polkiss or other members of his little gang. Harry, on the other hand, was more than capable of defending himself, though Dudley was the only one of them aware of that fact. Would he risk trying to push Harry around just to save face in front of his friends, or would his fear of magic force him to back down?

The rebellious side of Harry yearned for a chance to find the answer, but he thought better of it. Dudley met Harry's gaze for a brief moment from half a block away and turned down a sidestreet. He resisted the urge to call out one of Aunt Petunia's pet names for her son (Dudders or Diddly-Dinkums would have surely gotten a rise out of his cousin) and simply watched as the group headed toward the Polkiss house. They had just passed from his view when a slight chill went down Harry's spine as gooseflesh raised on his arms.

"Harry Potter!" came a clear, deep voice from Harry's right.

Harry whirled around to find a tall man with a dark complexion and a stern look on his face approaching his swing quickly. He wore Muggle clothes, but Harry immediately got the impression that the man was a wizard. His right hand rested on the wand that he had stuffed into his pocket, but his position in the swing prevented Harry from producing it quickly.

The man must have noticed because he raised his hands slightly before speaking again. "My apologies, Harry. It wasn't my intention to startle you. My name's Kingsley Shacklebolt. I'm here on Dumbledore's orders." His eyes shifted from Harry to the sky, which was darkening at a rapid pace. "Get your wand out, but don't use it unless I give the word or I'm incapacitated. Do you understand?"

Harry stood up abruptly and pulled his wand from his pocket. "What's going on? Why are you here?"

"Dumbledore has been keeping tabs on you to make sure you stay safe. I was on guard duty when you were rowing with your uncle and followed you here. Would have remained hidden if not for this feeling that something is off."

The explanation seemed reasonable to Harry, especially since a Death Eater would have likely cast curses rather than engaging in conversation, but the memories of the graveyard were flooding back into Harry's mind. The man claiming to be Shacklebolt had a wand in his hand as his eyes darted to and fro, but it wasn't pointed at Harry and he certainly seemed to be on the defensive.

"How do I know I can trust you?" asked Harry while drawing his wand.

"Not much I can say at the moment so I don't expect your trust, but I am going to do everything I can to keep you safe. If something goes wrong, get back to the house as best you can. It's got enough wards to keep you safe from just about anything. We can head that direction." He cast his eyes skyward and swore to himself. "It feels like it might be dementors. The darkness and the chill… Lupin said you could cast a Patronus?"

The knot that had been steadily growing in Harry's stomach loosened slightly at the mention of his former professor. "Yeah! He taught it to me in third year!"

"Good. Hopefully, you won't need to use it, but stay sharp. I'll cast it first if needed. Plenty of experience with these things as an Auror. But have the memory you'd use at the ready and make sure to keep focused on what's in front of you if a dementor comes near. Don't let yourself get distracted by how they make you feel."

The thought of being attacked by dementors increased the dread Harry felt, but he did his best to follow orders. The two moved swiftly from the empty park back toward Privett Drive. Harry gripped his wand tightly as he tried to think back to the various positive memories he'd experienced that he could draw power from, but the task was challenging with the knowledge that he might soon come face to face with soul-sucking wraiths. He hadn't yet tested whether the rogue memory would work properly for conjuring a Patronus, and he mentally kicked himself for overlooking such an important detail. After a stressful minute of following Shacklebolt while wracking his brain, Harry settled on his memory of completing the second task and celebrating alongside Ginny, Ron, and Hermione.

A strong arm shot out in front of him, and Harry nearly lost his glasses bumping into the man's elbow. The night sky, which had been dotted with the first few stars of the evening and a glowing, crescent moon, was now inky black above them. The streetlights looked to be in a losing battle against the encroaching darkness.

"Straight ahead," whispered the Auror as he pointed into the distance. "Two of them."

Harry peered forward, but he did not need to see the black-cloaked creatures to know they were there. Their rattling breaths grew louder as they glided toward the two wizards, and the air in Harry's lungs felt like ice. His mother's cries began to echo in his mind, followed by high, cruel laughter, and then the screams of Viktor Krum under the Cruciatus. With as much effort as he could muster, Harry shook his head back and forth, willing himself to ignore the visions appearing before his still-open eyes.

"I'll use the charm first. Two dementors shouldn't be a problem on their own, but there could be more. Plus there's a chance there are Death Eaters waiting to attack. I'll yell to you if I need your help, but you're focused on getting back into the wards at your house. And if one of those things gets close to you?" He turned and met Harry's gaze. "Give it hell and damn the consequences."

"Yes, sir," said Harry instinctively. Whatever misgivings he'd had about the wizard minutes before had evaporated. Shacklebolt nodded.

"We're about half a mile from the house. I'll cast and we'll make a break for it. Once we make it past them, you take the lead while I stay between you and them. If you see anything, call it out. Ready?"

Before Harry had a chance to respond, Shacklebolt thrust his wand forward and bellowed, "EXPECTO PATRONUM!" A silvery Lynx burst into the darkness, causing the two dementors to come to a stop. With a powerful slash of his wand, the Lynx bounded forward at the creatures. Harry had to sprint to keep up with his protector, who commanded his charm back and forth as the Lynx herded the dementors aside.

The voices in Harry's head grew louder as the two ran past where the Lynx was squared off against the dementors. From the corner of his eye, he could see the nearest one reaching its skeletal hand toward him, longing to take him by the throat.

"Get to the house!" shouted Shacklebolt as he slowed to remain between Harry and the dementors. Harry's legs burned with exertion and cold air stabbed at his lungs with each breath, but he did not slow down.

After another minute of all-out running, Harry reached the Dursley's front door and flung it open. The older wizard was right behind, and soon they were both gasping for breath in the hallway with the door securely shut behind them.

Before either had time to collect themselves, a scream emanated from the kitchen. Aunt Petunia had dropped her best glass salad bowl at the sight of Harry and an unknown stranger careening into her home. The sound of a chair scraping against the floor before toppling over preceded Vernon's appearance in the doorway to the kitchen.

"What's the meaning of this? Who the hell are you?"

Harry started to pipe up when he felt a strong hand grip his shoulder. "I apologize for startling you. The weather took a strange turn earlier and the wind slammed the door behind us. Please let me introduce myself. I'm Officer Shacklebolt."

At the introduction, Vernon's face hardened and he glowered at Harry. "Officer? What have you done this time, boy? I swore I'd have you out of this house if…"

"Excuse me, sir, but this young man has done nothing wrong. Quite the opposite, in fact!" Shacklebolt squeezed Harry's shoulder ever-so-lightly before continuing. "You see, there have been some miscreants running around the neighborhood recently. Criminal mischief, vandalism, that sort of thing. We've been gathering evidence on the matter and believe the ringleader is a local youth by the name of Piers Polkiss."

Vernon appeared to be doing his utmost to remain impassive while Petunia had shuffled closer to her husband, no doubt enticed by the prospect of neighborhood gossip. After hearing the name of Dudley's best friend, however, both could not contain their looks of shock.

"Well, Polkiss and a few of his friends have become bolder. This evening, four of them accosted a neighbor of yours, Arabella Figg. Attempted to swipe her purse. Young Harry here," the man clapped Harry's shoulder, "ran to her aid while my partner and I went after those ruffians."

Petunia's bony hand was clutched to her chest. Vernon had gripped the doorframe so tightly that his knuckles were turning white. Neither made eye contact with Harry.

"Have you and your partner… Apprehended any suspects?" Vernon's voice was shaky, and it was impossible to tell whether it was out of frustration that Harry was being praised or fear that his son had been involved.

"Not yet, but the victim was confident she could identify at least one of her assailants. Don't worry, we'll find them." Shacklebolt turned to address Harry. "What you did tonight was very brave. Who knows what would have happened to Ms. Figg had you not stepped in."

He met Vernon's eyes again. "May I borrow this fine young man for a few more minutes? I've got to get back to my partner and try to sort this mess out, but I need to get a quick statement from Harry first."

Petunia finally recovered enough of her voice to say, "Take as long as you need, sir! The sitting room is to your left!" before she hurried back into the kitchen. Harry was so dumbstruck by Shacklebolt's smooth delivery of lies that he didn't even take time to grin at the panicked expression plastered on his Uncle Vernon's face as he retreated with his wife.

"Harry, I don't have much time, so this will have to be quick. I need to get help to sort out why two bloody dementors just showed up in Little Whinging and make sure they don't attack anyone. I'll make sure Dumbledore knows what's happened, but I need your word that you won't leave the house until he gives you the go-ahead. Is that clear?"

"Absolutely. Not a problem," answered Harry quickly.

"Good man. That story I wove should be enough to keep your Uncle from giving you a hard time tonight. Once we're sure the area is safe, I'll send someone to modify their memories. If I can swing it, I'll try to get them to leave some of the realization about your cousin and his friends. Good thing I've been paying attention while on guard duty." Shacklebolt winked at Harry before moving toward the front door.

"Err… Mr. Shacklebolt?"

"Call me Kingsley."

"Oh, okay. Right, Kingsley. I just wanted to say thanks for looking out for me. I hate dementors; they affect me a lot more than most people. I wouldn't have wanted to take them on alone."

"You're welcome," Kingsley replied with a smile. "Stay safe and someone will be in touch soon. I imagine I'll be seeing you again."

The tall wizard called out a last goodbye to Harry's aunt and uncle before stepping outside and into the warm night air.
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