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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: 247
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: 68072; Chapter Total: 1016
Awards: View Trophy Room


The end of the term came in a great rush of activity. Professors heaped work on Harry and his classmates, insisting that study over holidays was crucial to passing the upcoming OWLs. Ginny had to rub Harry's sore wrist after he finished writing his fourth essay in as many days, and he was beginning to think that the goal was to overwhelm all the Fifth Years with so much work that they didn't have time to cause as much trouble as in previous years. Even though none of his dormmates were known to be especially studious, Harry had walked in on each of them poring over one of their textbooks in bed a few times. He felt certain that Parvati was doing the same, especially since she and Lavender joined Hermione for study sessions much more often.

Many spirits were buoyed when Hagrid returned in the weeks following Harry's conversation with Dumbledore. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione visited Hagrid's hut several times as the term drew to a close and were accompanied by Neville on more than one occasion. He regaled the students with tales from his long travels, some of which Harry thought might have been meant to remain between the gamekeeper and headmaster. Hagrid seemed a bit cagey when it came to explaining why returning to Hogwarts took him such a long time and glanced over his shoulder into the Forbidden Forest more than once while stammering about the roads being slow going for folks of his stature.

It gave Harry a great sense of relief to hear that the giants had been amenable to Hagrid's entreaties. From what it sounded like, the giants were not too keen on meddling in the affairs of wizards, and the gifts presented on behalf of Dumbledore had curried a fair bit of favor from Karkus and the other giants. Things might be more difficult once Voldemort sent his own envoys to the giants, but a foundation had been laid for the giants to at least consider staying out of the coming war.

The Defense Club meetings took more planning time than Harry had anticipated. He was glad to have so many capable friends to help come up with ideas for the sessions, but deciding on what to go over and how best to teach it consumed more time than they had during their Friday lunches.

Though the other five had each made some real progress in their attempts to produce a corporeal Patronus, none of them had yet managed more than a wisp of white vapor. Harry was encouraged that Ginny and Ron both looked to be almost as consistent as Cedric in casting the spell. Cho was not too far behind the others, but Hermione lagged behind and often wasn't able to generate anything at all.

Harry tried to encourage her that the emotion behind the spell was an important part of the process and that her pain from losing Viktor was likely making it more difficult for her, so it wasn't a deficiency on her part that was holding her back. She wasn't used to having a spell be so challenging for her, especially when others were getting it more quickly, but she seemed to agree that her grief was affecting her ability to master it. The fact that Ron, Ginny, Cho, and Cedric were all understanding and encouraging helped ensure that her repeated failures didn't keep her too down, especially when Ron pointed out some of the other difficult spells they were practicing for the Defense Club that came to her easier.

While Defense Club planning wasn't always Harry's favorite, he relished his opportunities to actually instruct during the real meetings. He felt a little embarrassed when asked to produce his Patronus in full view of all the assembled students at the last meeting before the term ended, but he was encouraged to see the determination in many of the club members' eyes once they explained the ways a Patronus could be used for defense against Dementors and communication. Very few of the students could even create wisps by the end of their session, which made the clouds of vapor produced by the club leaders seem all the more impressive. Several older students looked positively gobsmacked to see Ginny's wand emit smoke that looked like it was trying to form into some sort of four-legged creature.

The highlight of the night's session was when Cedric cast his first true Patronus in front of the crowd. His face beamed with pride and excitement as a silvery badger burst out of his wand. The Hufflepuff students couldn't stop cheering for him, claiming that he must be the embodiment of their house to have his Patronus be a badger. Cho blushed furiously when he whispered something in her ear, hugging him tightly around the midsection. His triumph made the feat seem more doable to the members of the Defense Club. While traipsing back up from the Defense Chamber, Harry smiled at the amount of speculative conversations about who would be next to produce a corporeal Patronus and what each person's animal might be.

The actual Defense Against the Dark Arts class had become even more challenging. While students were still expected to silently read from their useless textbook for most of the class period, Umbridge had taken to spewing more and more of her screeds against the current Ministry, the Daily Prophet, and anyone who she considered an enemy of Cornelius Fudge. The tone with which she spoke of the former Minister of Magic was reverential, constantly espousing more and more far-fetched reasons why he was the last bastion of hope in a world that didn't deserve his fatherly protection.

Harry did his best to keep calm as the Defense classes dragged along. He alternated between planning for upcoming Defense Clubs meetings, mentally practicing his new Occlumency techniques, and his more-than-occasional daydreams about Ginny. He'd nearly lost his temper a few different times, but managed to reign himself in before Umbridge could catch him stepping a toe out of line. Ron had been less successful, earning three weeks of nightly detentions for storming out of the class during Umbridge's slanderous rant against ministry officials who coddled Muggles. Harry couldn't be sure, but he thought that his best mate might consider the punishment worthwhile after Hermione told him how much it meant to her that he and the whole Weasley clan cared so much about treating Muggles like her fairly.

When an outburst from Ginny landed her nightly detentions for the last two weeks before the holidays began, Harry had wanted to call in Marauder backup. Instead, Ginny assured him that she was more than capable of handling herself and that she would've considered the term a failure if she hadn't earned Umbridge's ire at least once. Even so, Harry couldn't help plotting retribution that would be hatched over the holidays.


A few short days before the students went home, Harry could barely contain his anticipation as he walked with Ginny to the Defense Chamber. Cedric had informed the rest of their Defense Club leadership group of exciting news from Professor Sprout: Professor Dumbledore was going to be leading their next gathering. He had even sent a personal note to Umbridge excusing Ron and Ginny from detention so that they would be free to join.

All six of the students had fluctuated back and forth between eagerness and trepidation as the hour approached, unsure of what a Dumbledore-led class would be like. Their nervous energy was apparent as the four Gryffindors met Cedric and Cho in the new student lounge above the Defense Club Chamber. Professor Sprout was animatedly speaking with the two older students, and all three held pots filled with a large, viney plant topped by a glowing bud.

"Excellent timing!" cried Sprout as the four Gryffindors entered the room. "Would you be so kind as to help lug some of these Moonflowers down? As much as being lit only by torchlight adds to the ambiance down there, I thought a few off these babies might brighten up the place." As they descended the stairs, the plants began to grow much brighter. It was as if they were absorbing the darkness around them and emitting light in return.

"Feel free to leave them here," said Sprout brightly once they reached the bottom of the stairway. "I'll get them situated some other time. To tell the truth, I'm probably just as excited about seeing what the headmaster has planned as you are!"

The seven of them entered the main room to find Dumbledore talking quietly with Moody and the other three Heads of House. Harry was a little surprised that the full complement of Advanced Defense instructors present, only to have his eyes widen further once he noticed Madam Pomfrey seated to the side of the room on a viewing platform with several chairs. The Chamber was already littered with objects that could be used for cover, much like those that had been conjured in the Charms classroom during their previous lesson.

"Ah, here they come! Professor Sprout, would you please confer with our other instructors while I brief the students about our objectives for today?" asked Dumbledore. The Herbology professor winked at them as she strode toward McGonagall. "I have been told by your professors of how well you performed in your previous lessons, and I have no doubt that the addition of Miss Chang will only serve to improve the group's quality."

Cho smiled nervously, but looked encouraged when Harry noticed Cedric's hand slip into hers.

"I am certain that each of you is quite capable of defending yourself using the spells you have already mastered and the quick-thinking and strategic prowess you have built over time. After discussing your strengths and weaknesses at length, we have decided that a more expeditious method of training would be for us to demonstrate different approaches to defense. By observing the ways others with more experience defend themselves in a battle, we hope to spark your curiosity and give you a glimpse of what is possible."

Hermione stared at Dumbledore hungrily as Ginny asked, "Wait, are all of you going to be dueling for us to watch?" The headmaster nodded calmly.

"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Ron, accidentally preventing Dumbledore from continuing. Hermione swatted his arm and tried using a full "Ronald!" to get her friend into line. The headmaster, for his part, merely smiled.

"Each of your instructors, myself included, favor different strategies and techniques in a duel. I encourage you to learn from each so that you can continue to develop your own style. The better versed you are in a myriad of defensive techniques, the better equipped you will be to face a variety of opponents.

"Please join me with Madam Pomfrey on the dais to observe from a safe distance. One of us will sit with you to help identify spells and techniques and ensure you are able keep up with the action." He began to stride toward the viewing platform as he looked at the adults gathered in a circle. "Alastor, would you care to join us? I believe our first encounter pits our four Heads of House against one another."

For several minutes, it was as if the six students had each been hit with a Silencing Charm. Harry's eyes darted to and fro as flashes of light and shouted spells vied to capture his attention. Madam Pomfrey looked both fascinated and displeased, though Harry only caught a glimpse of her when he occasionally tore his eyes from the battle when Moody or Dumbledore's commentary piqued his interest. If Harry's many exploits had given him a belief that he had a good grasp of what a battle entailed, the sights before him disabused him of that notion almost immediately.

When it came to an end at last, the four professors made their way to where the onlookers were assembled. Pomfrey set to tending to Snape's dislocated shoulder and nasty sprained ankle Sprout had sustained. Dumbledore inclined his head to the combatants graciously before turning to the students. "Before we move on for further endeavors, I would like to offer a chance for you to discuss what techniques you noticed and to ask questions about what transpired. Would anyone like to start?"

One of Hermione's hands shot into the air while the other clinched a piece of parchment covered in hastily scribbled notes. "Professor Flitwick, what was the spell you used when you were cornered by Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall?"

"An excellent question," said the Charms professor with a smile. "That's a little known spell that creates an image of oneself that can be used as a decoy. What you saw was only a projection that appeared to be me."

"Which explains why their spells didn't connect…" continued Hermione as she flipped her parchment and began writing on its back.

"Professor McGonagall," began Harry, not bothering to raise his hand. "Was the spell you got Professor Snape with the Inanimatus one we went over in class?"

"A more advanced version, but yes," she answered. "I had hoped it would force him to dodge to his left, but as you saw, he allowed it to strike him. In my surprise at his tactic, I was unprepared for his nonverbal stunner. Quite an ingenious move, Severus." Snape nodded curtly to acknowledge her compliment as he rolled his newly-healed shoulder.

"Speaking of nonverbal, I think more than half of everything you all used was without an incantation," noted Cedric. "We went over a little of that last year in Defense, but I've never seen so many spells cast without speaking. Did you sacrifice power to use them wordlessly?"

"Considering the battering my shields took back there, I doubt they lost much power at all," replied Sprout. "It always takes a bit off my spells to use them nonverbally, but that's never been my forte. Most of what I cast was aloud, but part of that was due to being overmatched. I have no qualms admitting that I'm far and away the least skilled dueler of us."

Cho laughed nervously. "I mean, sure. Maybe that's true, but what you just did… What you all did…" She trailed off, only for Ron to swear rather reverently to fill the silence.

Dumbledore chuckled to himself. "Yes, I daresay I agree with the sentiment. All four of them are excellent in their own right, and each possess a variety of strengths which came into play during their sparring. Mr. Diggory, would you be so kind as to explain what you noticed from Professor Sprout?"

"Sure, no worries. It seemed like she was very strategic from the beginning. She picked her spots to attack instead of going all out on offense, probably out of respect for their abilities. It looked like she was using the cover to good effect so that she didn't expend as much energy maintaining her shield. I saw her cast several disarming and stunning spells, but it looked like she favored lower-powered jinxes when the others had her more on the run. Thought she had Professor McGonagall, but Professor Flitwick got the drop on her before she could make the move. Damn impressive, though!" Cedric smiled at his Head of House brightly, and Professor Sprout gave him a proud nod.

"Very well noted," said Dumbledore warmly. "Miss Weasley, would you do the same for Professor McGonagall?"

A twinge of pink reached Ginny's cheeks and Harry thought it likely she had expected someone else to be charged with chronicling her Head of House, but she plowed forward nonetheless. "The thing that jumped out to me about Professor McGonagall was how well she used the environment to her advantage. I guess that makes sense, because she teaches Transfiguration, but it seemed like anything near her could be used in the duel at a moment's notice. Harry mentioned the spell that she used right before Professor Snape stunned her, but I was more impressed with how she made two of the things used for cover slam together to intercept one of Professor Flitwick's curses. That was incredible stuff."

Harry watched from further down the line of students as her gaze drifted upward and the tip of her tongue barely emerged in the very corner of her mouth as she tried to remember some other detail of the battle. He thought the look was ridiculously cute. He may have been staring a bit too intently, as Ron stealthily smacked his arm and gave him a protective brotherly look. Harry blushed and gave him a quick shrug before returning his attention to his girlfriend's explanation.

"She did a great job at controlling her spell power. I could tell that she didn't put quite as much behind some of the spells she was shooting that were meant to force others to move rather than strictly trying to knock someone out. When she saw an opening to really connect with someone, she channeled a lot more power into what she cast. Or at least that's what it looked like from here."

"Well, I suppose it's a good sign for my job security that the first thing she mentioned was my Transfiguration," said McGonagall with a hint of a smile tugging at her lips. "You're right about putting more power behind certain spells. In the midst of a battle, an opponent is likely to be wary of relying too heavily upon a shield, so casting a flurry of spells can be useful for maneuvering others into disadvantageous positions. The problem with doing so is the risk of tiring yourself out and leaving yourself vulnerable to counterattacks. By easing back on spells that are unlikely to connect, one can claim the benefits of pushing their opponents around without overextending oneself."

"As a proponent of using the environment to one's advantage, I must agree with Miss Weasley's assessment," said the headmaster as he trained his eyes on Cho. "Miss Chang, would you discuss how Professor Flitwick performed and what stood out to you about his technique?"

"Absolutely! Professor Flitwick started out at a disadvantage, both due to not being as quick as the other professors and because he had a target on his back as an internationally acclaimed dueler. It was pretty clear that everyone saw him as a major threat. But he did a great job of positioning himself so that he only needed to defend in one direction, which put the others in closer proximity with each other. He stayed defensive while the others were focused on him, but struck hard whenever an opportunity arose. The projection he explained earlier really helped keep him out of the line of fire.

"I'm not sure if someone got Professor Sprout with a tripping jinx or if she stumbled from something else, but it looked like Flit got her with a Total Body Bind before she'd even hit the ground!" She covered her mouth in embarrassment after accidentally using the affectionate nickname several older Ravenclaws had for their Head of House, but Professor Flitwick smiled and waved it off.

"I'd hoped you had a little more faith in my coordination than that," said Professor Sprout with a laugh. "Whose jinx was that, anyway?"

"Mine, Pomona," answered McGonagall. "You were getting too close for comfort, so I snuck it in when you were dodging a curse from Severus."

"Guess it was too much to hope for to turn it into a battle of the sexes." Sprout brought her gaze back to Cho.

"Once Professor Sprout and Professor McGonagall were out of it, Professor Flitwick moved to duel more offensively. Since Professor Snape was injured, his spells weren't quite as strong anymore and he couldn't press his size advantage as effectively. When his shield began to finally give way, Professor Flitwick pounced on the opportunity and got the knockout."

While Dumbledore praised Cho for noticing so much, a sinking feeling settled onto Harry as he realized who was left to describe Snape's technique. He had the distinct feeling neither Ron nor Hermione would be given the task. Sure enough, the headmaster concluded by adding a few details about Flitwick that had gone undetected and turned to Harry with a twinkle in his eyes..

"And Mr. Potter! Would you do us the favor of speaking on how Professor Snape dueled and any specific tactics you thought worked well?"

Snape scowled as Harry's green eyes met his dark ones. Part of Harry that sounded more than a bit like Sirius urged him not to acknowledge any of the things Snape had done well, but Harry ignored the thought as best he could. He thought back to his first Occlumency lesson when Snape had, however begrudgingly, admitted that Harry had more potential than he originally assumed. In his most recent session, Snape had again pushed him hard, but Harry did feel like he was learning from the man. He drew a long breath and began.

"I didn't hear Professor Snape utter a single incantation during the entire match, which is what stuck out to me at first. I could pick up what he was casting by his spell's color sometimes or occasionally from the wand movements. Or by seeing what effect the spell had when it connected. But his ability to hide what he was casting seemed really helpful and like a definite advantage.

"More than that, though, he seemed very much in control of himself. He never strayed too far from cover, which allowed him to protect himself without conjuring a shield. He kept a good distance between him and Professor Flitwick, who everyone was watching out for, but also made sure not to get flanked by Professor McGonagall or Professor Sprout while they were all active. He picked spots to attack when his spells could either connect or force an opponent into a position to be incapacitated by someone else."

Harry glanced at Dumbledore to see if he should continue or stop there, but the old man's look was unreadable, so he plowed ahead.

"I spent a lot of time training with Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall last year, and what I saw them do had me convinced that they would be the two best duelers out of all the professors. But after watching what we just saw, I'm not so sure. Professor Snape didn't come out on top, but he certainly could have.

"The thing that I don't get is why he let Professor McGonagall's conjured projectile hit him. The rest of the time, he kept away from most of the more threatening attacks or used a shield to deflect them. Trading a serious blow for one knockout when Professor Flitwick was still around seemed like a wildly different tactic than what he'd been using."

All eyes fell to Snape, whose face made it clear that listening to praise from his most-loathed student was not one of his favorite pastimes. "Being struck by Minerva's conjuration was certainly not a part of my plan. Unfortunately, Filius had surreptitiously cast a forceful Stunning Spell that was passing to my left at that moment. Given the situation, I opted to use the opportunity to return fire. Miss Chang was correct in assuming the injury diminished my ability to match Filius."

"Very astute observations," said Dumbledore sagely as he surveyed the students. "I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle. It would be wise for you each to ascertain which techniques and proclivities of your instructors are most similar to your own. For example, I understand that Miss Chang is top of her year in Transfiguration. By paying extra attention to how Professor McGonagall utilizes her strengths, she may be better able to understand how to hone her own skills."

Cho blushed at the praise and caught McGonagall's eye, who was nodding with a sense of pride.

"And knowing how to attack the weaknesses of different techniques is dead useful, too," growled Moody. "Keeping a mobile foe pinned down and forcing a slower opponent to move around. Knowing what to do against someone who comes in wand blazing versus how to counter someone holed up just trying to keep you back."

Hermione blanched and stopped taking notes. "But this is supposed to be Advanced Defense techniques. Surely we won't need to learn how to attack someone who's just trying to defend themselves, right?"

Moody laughed humorlessly. "It's not as cut and dry as all that. What if a Death Eater captured one of your friends and the only way to save them was to break through their defenses? What'd you do?" No answer came to her under the withering glare of the Auror. "You've got to be ready for any situation, and sometimes the best defense is a good offense!"

His example clearly affected Hermione, but she didn't look entirely convinced. Moody didn't press the issue, however, and instead turned to Dumbledore. "Now that they've got a better idea of what to look for, I want off the sidelines. I didn't come all this way just to watch the fun." He cracked his knuckles rather violently as he eyed the headmaster.

"And I wouldn't dream of denying you the opportunity, Alastor! I am also feeling particularly excited to enter the fray, myself. Why don't you choose a partner or two? I would like for them to see how a trained Auror leads allies in a duel against a single opponent."

Moody requested Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall join him. Ginny shifted closer to Harry and squeezed his hand in excitement as the four combatants strode forward. There was no disguising the eager anticipation on the faces of the students, but Harry could see that Sprout and Pomfrey were both watching intently. Even Snape had shed his look of indifference as he positioned himself in the best vantage point to watch the duel.

"While I hope you three won't do too much harm to an old man such as myself, I have full confidence in Poppy's ability to set me back to rights, should anything especially nasty break through my defenses. Are there any restrictions on spells you'd like to implement before we commence?"

"Same rules of engagement as in a real fight," growled Moody. "Showing them a fake battle while wearing kid gloves isn't going to teach them much."

"I'm of a similar mindset, though I'd prefer to finish this exercise intact," said Flitwick brightly. "If I'm forced to spend the entirety of the Christmas holidays in the infirmary, you shouldn't expect to receive a holiday card from me."

"It would probably be worthwhile to prohibit disillusionment, so that the students have a better sense of what's happening. And Albus, I would like to remind you of the amount of paperwork I keep from crossing your desk. Please remember how much your workload will increase should you accidentally kill your Deputy."

Hermione let out a nervous laugh before looking at the other students, but none seemed completely certain how best to respond.

"Rest assured that I will do my utmost to ensure that our demonstration remains non-lethal, both due to the high esteem in which I hold the three of you and because of how challenging my life would become should any of you be lost."

"Stop chattering with the enemy. He's trying to get into our heads," barked Moody. "We'll start on the far end to give our spectators a better view."

When the four were ready, Sprout cast red sparks into the air as the signal to begin. Immediately, Dumbledore rushed forward with more speed than Harry had ever seen him employ. A flurry of spells flew from his wand as the battlefield shifted around him. Five of the large objects that had been conjured for use as cover began to orbit the headmaster as he barrelled toward the three opponents on the opposite side of the Chamber.

A jet of blue light flew from Moody's wand, causing one of the objects to explode, while twin jets of yellow flew from the two professors connected with objects that deanimated in midair and fell back to the floor with ground-shaking thuds. Powerful jets of water sprayed from McGonagall and Moody, which were frozen solid by a spell from Flitwick with the boulder-like projectiles trapped inside, suspended in columns of ice.

With a flick of his wand, Dumbledore collected the debris caused by Moody's explosive blast into a cloud that swirled around Flitwick. When the diminutive professor slashed his wand at the cloud to dispel it, the debris swarmed his wand-arm and coalesced into a solid mass. The weight pulled the Ravenclaw to the ground, where he attempted to pull a spare wand from his robes with his free hand. The cover he was hiding behind split in half before he could retrieve the spare, and the Headmaster fired a powerful stunner between the halves that left Flitwick unconscious on the ground. Spells were flying back at Dumbledore before Harry had a chance to fully comprehend how quickly the man had neutralized an international dueling champion.

The barrage of light careened off of his hastily-cast shield, and several of the jinxes collided with the ground or nearby cover. Explosions of various colors caused Harry to squint against the light and heat. The crash of heavy structures being knocked together was pierced by a deafening screech accompanying a neon orange spell cast by Moody that looked to have caused Dumbledore's shield to evaporate. Once exposed, he pointed his wand and free hand at the former Auror while calling out an incantation Harry didn't recognize. A thick beam of purple light flew from his wand directly at Moody, though more slowly than the other spells that had been cast.

Alastor had enough time to dive behind cover a moment before the spell passed through where he'd been standing, only for the purple beam to halt in midair. Dumbledore's wand and hand were still trained in Moody's direction as he strained under the stress of whatever technique he was employing. With a thunderous crack that caused Harry and a few others to cover their ears, the spell exploded in all directions. Smoke impeded Harry's vision for a moment, but he was eventually able to pick out a tall figure darting back through the cover. He wasn't sure what kind of spell Dumbledore had used to take out Moody, but Harry felt confident the Auror would be sore in the morning.

From behind one of the remaining bits of cover, McGonagall aimed her wand at Dumbledore's feet. The stone of the Chamber floor began to move as if the grey rock were boiling beneath him. The headmaster was moving much more slowly than when he had begun the session and quickly sank down into the floor until his knees were no longer visible. McGonagall fired a series of stunners and disarming spells at the now-trapped wizard, but he conjured a strong shield that absorbed or deflected each of her volleys.

With great effort, Dumbledore pointed his wand at his feet. The stone around them shot upward, pulling him by his new stone shoes out of the ground. He fired a curse that exploded the rock around one of his feet, but had to refocus his wand on his shield as McGonagall fired stronger spells at his immobile frame. She pressed her advantage, firing spell after spell at the headmaster. She even sent chunks of rubble flying toward him, which he countered with a flick of his wand that turned the projectiles into fluttering clouds of moths.

McGonagall pressed forward while trying to remain behind available cover, sending curse after curse at Dumbledore, when the older wizard pounced. He pointed his wand into the air where the two frozen columns held up the cover that had orbited him earlier. With a yank of his arm, the ice melted and cascaded down onto and around McGonagall. He raised his wand aloft, spinning it in wide circles around his head as the water morphed into a ball around the professor. She swiped her wand back and forth in an attempt to rid herself of the watery prison, but could not extricate herself. After nearly a minute of struggling against it, her shoulders sagged and she released her wand.

In an instant, Dumbledore summoned the wand and allowed the water to fall away. She let out a ragged gasp for air as she fell to one knee.

"Do you yield, Minerva?" The headmaster's voice had become kind again, with barely a hint of the power that had been behind some of the most incredible magic Harry had ever witnessed.

McGonagall coughed twice before meeting Dumbledore's gaze and nodding. With a smile, he tossed her wand back to her so that she could use drying and warming charms while he walked toward where Professor Flitwick had fallen. "Poppy, would you mind checking on Alastor? The spell I used against him is tricky to control, and I'm afraid I gave it a little more power than I could have. I fear he would never have forgiven me if he believed I'd gone easy on him."

Madam Pomfrey hurried to where Moody was unconscious on the ground. Flitwick was up moments later, looking a combination of frustrated to have been bested and eager to learn how it was done.

Harry looked down the line of spectators to find various states of disbelief. All the color had drained from Cedric's face, and he appeared to be trying to ask something of a shocked Professor Sprout. Snape's eyes were fixed on Dumbledore as the man returned with Flitwick. The quill and parchment Hermione had been holding had fallen to the ground at some point during the session. Ron's eyes were wide as he surveyed the scene, while Ginny simply swore under her breath and squeezed Harry's hand.

Moody was limping as he made his way back to the group, but he refused Madam Pomfrey's offer to conjure a chair or to let him lean on her shoulder. Once the two of them rejoined the others, a smiling Dumbledore addressed everyone. "I must say, that was a rather exhilarating duel! Let's break down what happened, shall we?"
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