General disclaimer:I don't own any part of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
It should go without saying that any recognizable idea doesn't belong to me. Parts of either story may be paraphrased within.
PLEASE NOTE: This is basically a fanfic of a fanfic. I don't want anyone coming around and screaming plagiarism at me when fanfics often use chunks of the original story, though I admit, I'll been using lots of chunks. Just re-read that disclaimer up there, I acknowledge that I don't own anything recognizable.
I was originally going to continue from where The Black Wizard by Azraeos dropped off but then I wanted to play beta since the first few chapters were kind rough and in the end, I decided I'd pick it up and give it my own spin. I recommend going to read the original by Azraeos if you don't like this story since I'm planning on making it significantly different (Or not, depending on your definition of 'significant'; remember I'll be borrowing heavily from the original). In fact, even if you do like this story, go read the original; it's freaking awesome even though it is incomplete.
Also, My main fandom is Harry Potter and I haven't the read the LoTR books or seen the movies in quite a while, so I preemptively beg for forgiveness for the canonical errors I will inevitably make and the heavy usage of Azraeos original writing – most of the difference in the story will come from Harry's reactions, not the situations the characters will be in; if Harry is not directly involved in what's happening, it will be left exactly the way Azraeos wrote it.
P.S. This is Fem!Harry because I can barely understand my own gender let alone guys.
Chapter One: The Mysterious Tapping Sound
It was a dreary July day at Number 4 Private Drive. Not to say that it wasn't usually unpleasant – it was normally boring and depressingly ordinary – but this particular day was increasingly dreary. This was in part because the Dursleys were in a remarkably nasty mood, which was taken out on Harry, and also because it was raining cats and dogs, which meant Harry couldn't go outside to get away from them even for a few hours. All in all, it made for a most unpleasant morning so far, and looked to continue into an even more horrid afternoon.
She was lying on her back on the rickety cot with her hands folded beneath her head, staring up at the whitewash ceiling. This was the position she had assumed every day for three weeks straight when she first returned to Privet Drive that summer. When not doing whatever frivolous chores her aunt assigned her, she was holed up in her room, agonizing over the awful end of the past school year.
After her furious fit in the Headmaster's office, Harry was all raged out. When she had the chance to think back on it, her anger frightened her. It made her brash, irrational, the very same trait that had her rushing forward and getting Sirius killed. It had her violently destroying what were clearly valuable possessions of Professor Dumbledore's when she just couldn't hold herself back anymore. Irrational and destructive; that reminded her too much of Voldemort for her peace of mind.
It was only after Moody of all people had unceremoniously grumped his way into her room one day – Dudley, oddly enough, standing hesitantly behind him – and gave her a firm shaking, did she crawl back out from her misery. Mad-Eye gave her a proper talking to, going on about the uselessness of moping, how she should realize how much harm she was doing to herself if the Dursleys had noticed, and how she should cheer up since the Ministry – in response to the confirmed return of Voldemort – had made an amendment to the under-age magic laws, lowering the age limit to fifteen instead of seventeen. He then tossed what looked like a wind-up cat toy at her, barked, "practice your aim!," and stomped off without a backward glance.
That last bit of at the end of the lecture had perked her right up, almost making her feel guilty of how elated she was when she was just so recently miserable.
Harry had then thrown herself into practicing her magic within the relative comfort of her room. Her aunt and uncle had turned a disturbing shade of white when Harry had gleefully told them of the new laws. Vowing to herself be less angry and vindictive, she took pity on them and placed silencing charms on her door, window, and walls so they could delude themselves into believing nothing had actually changed. All the same, she took to doing the indoor chores with Gertrude's Grimoire of House-witchery in one hand when the Dursleys weren't around.
It was the little things like that that had her steadily returning to her normal self. She received letters from her friends, especially Ron, going on how they were so relieved she was starting to feel better again and mentioning what their current favourite spells were and how to do them in case she wanted more spells to play with.
"Isn't it wonderful how much further along we can learn now that we can practice magic at home?" Hermione had squealed in a letter she had charmed to read the contents of the missive out-loud, much like a Howler but without the shouting. It was like Hermione was sitting right next to her, talking. "I found this marvellous charm in Enchantments for the Impaired and Incapacitated just this morning!
'Oh, Harry, you must give it a try; I stuck a copy of the instructions in the anthology maker I sent as well. It's got this rather odd set of movements, the most difficult I've ever done, so it'll be great practice. Any defensive spell with awkward movements will seem more simple afterward. I know I feel the spells in Standard Book of Spells, volume 6 are easier now."
So practice, Harry did. After merging all her old school books – that anthology maker was really something else, she'd never misplace a textbook again! – she skimmed through the text, looking for useful spells she might have missed before. She even pulled a Hermione by owl-ordering the seventh year set in advance to look over while she went through the various little spells she was picking up from whomever was writing her that day. Anything to distract her from wallowing again.
At the moment, while she was stretched out on her bed and staring at the ceiling, Harry desperately wanted to go outside. It figured that on the day she really fancied herself a nice, long walk, it would be pouring down like it would go on for forty days and forty nights. Maybe she ought to send a letter off to Hermione for a spell to build an ark if it came down to it.
Dimly, she noticed that at some point or other, someone had plastered a hole up in that ugly ceiling. The paint looked less white and more drab in that spot. Probably a result of an accident involving Dudley and his old – now mangled – toy musket. Harry was about to lean over to pry apart the loose floorboard under the bed, when she heard a tapping sound. Immediately, she looked towards the window, assuming it was an owl delivering a letter.
There was nothing there.
Confused, Harry looked about her room, curious to find the source of the noise, but to her frustration, she couldn't pinpoint its location. She cocked her head to the side, trying to listen to the direction it was coming from. The only clue she received was that it seemed somewhat hollowed, as though whatever it was, was being tapped from inside something. Like a cupboard or a wardrobe.
Harry strode towards her wardrobe and yanked it open, half expecting Dobby to fall out and tell her that they were playing hide-and-seek, but there was nothing there beyond her hung-up clothes. Maybe Dudley was learning Morse code?
TAP. Tappitytap. Tap. Tap.
The noise continued on for quite a good bit of time before it gradually died away.
Harry was quite certain that, whatever the sound was, it was most likely of a magical nature; her luck over the years would hardly allow it to be of any other origin. On the off chance that it was Dudley suddenly deciding to learn Morse code, his attention span wouldn't have allowed him more than five minutes at it before he discarded it for another venture and that thing had gone on for at least twenty. In conclusion, it was either a magical creature or some type of magical object.
Perhaps it was her old pocket sneakoscope? Perhaps after a few years the magic runs out of the thing and it starts tapping to get your attention so you could recharge it? Like a magical battery, maybe. Somehow, Harry found it hard to convince herself.
Another hour passed.
Harry spent the time reciting the twelve uses of dragon's blood, the ABC's, the times table, reading her Divination books of all things, and whistling a tune that she made up on the spot consisting of six notes in various placements. It was only when she was contemplating singing the Greek alphabet to the tune of 'Joy to the World' that Harry realized the sun had peeked through the cloud cover.
It was no longer raining!
Resisting the urge to whoop like an idiot, Harry quickly donned a pullover that was previously draped over the back of her desk chair. Just before bounding out of the room, she doubled back to grab the umbrella she remembered seeing shoved at the back of the closet as well. Couldn't hurt to be prepared after all. Harry went down the stairs as fast as she could without sounding like an elephant, and just as quickly went back up them again.
Wouldn't do to forget her wand.
Now armed for battled against Mother Nature, as well as any dark wizards that could be lurking about, Harry stepped across the threshold of Number 4 and briskly walked out. Sweet freedom at last!
As she rounded the corner, she took a moment to fluff her feathery pageboy hair in the moist air and take a good sniff. It smelled fresh and dewy and English. The soggy grass beneath her sneakers only served to provide Harry's nose with a more natural scent. Jarringly, she was reminded of Hogwarts. Which was rather odd, as Private Drive had never done that before. There was nothing artificial about Hogwarts. No pollution, no muck, only nature and magic, and Harry found it surprising that the after smell of rain should make her feel that way.
Mentally giving a shrug, she ambled down Private Drive and into Magnolia Crescent. She only remembered when he got there that this was the very street where she'd first met Sirius.
Ruffling her hair again and rubbing her face to clear her mind of any unpleasant memories that were fast clogging up, Harry turned towards her favourite swing in the park, the one she always went to sit and think in. It didn't occur to her that the swing might still be wet from the rain, and that her bottom would be soaked to freezing if she sat on it. Well, at least that's what would have happened, if a tapping noise didn't distract her.
TAP. Taptaptap. Tap. TAP.
There it is again!
Harry froze in mid-step. It was louder this time. A lot louder. Amplified almost. Almost like it was tagged by a Sonorus.
Harry spun around. She was sure she'd heard the sound right behind her. She peered at the empty space warily, not seeing or sensing anything. It could be someone with an invisibility cloak, she supposed, but she wasn't certain. Just to be sure, though, Harry rushed forward at the empty air, hoping that if anyone was under an invisibility disguise, they would be too surprised to move out of the way, and so Harry would run into them.
There was nothing there.
Harry stood with an arm outstretched in front of her, feeling a bit stupid.
'Of course it isn't someone with an invisibility cloak,' She thought to herself, still peering about nervously. 'What sort of person can make a sound like that?'
Maybe it wasn't a person?
More than a little jumpy at this line of thought, Harry tried listening to the direction of the noise, but this time it seemed impossible to find its location, let alone its source. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once, it was so loud. She wondered why no one was sticking their heads out of their windows to investigate. It was what the residents of Little Whinging seemed to be good at, spying. Why was no one else trying to find it?
Then it hit her! What if she was the only one who could hear it? It would certainly explain why the Dursley's hadn't complained about the noise when it first started up. They couldn't hear it. Maybe only wizards could hear it? Maybe it was a similar sort of thing with the entrance at the Leaky Cauldron, where wizards could see it but muggles couldn't.
But what was it?
Harry noticed what it was, was getting progressively faster. In fact, it was now so fast that it almost sounded like one continuous drone. And on top of that, a wind had picked up. The sort of wind that came just before –
It was raining again.
In fact, it was pouring again.
Harry considered putting up her umbrella but decided against it. It was now raining so hard, with the wind whipping around so much, that Harry's clothes were immediately soaked through and she could hardly see anything through her rain-splatter glasses. She considered putting a water-repelling charm on her glasses but immediately tossed the idea; she was in a place were muggles could see so it would still be illegal.
Harry kept on ear on the noise, which now sounded more like one long perpetual moan. Her ears her beginning to really hurt. It was like standing right next to an amplifier with metal music blasting away. It was as though the sound was right in her ears. She wouldn't be surprised if they started bleeding soon.
Harry dropped the umbrella, abandoning any pretense of caring about getting wet, and sank to her knees in agony, clasping her hands over his throbbing eardrums. It did nothing to lessen the intensity of the sound! It was like whatever it was, was inside her!
She cried out in pain. Harry didn't know how long it had been since she fell, but she wished and pleaded and begged for it to stop.
And suddenly, miraculously, it did.
Hesitantly, Harry released her grip from her ears and brought her hands to push herself up into a sitting position. Her breathing was shallow and wheezy; she must look like a drowned rat.
She took a moment to catch her breath when something off caught her attention. The wind was still blowing, making the swings fail about on the normally squeaky chains but Harry couldn't hear anything. Not the heavy rainfall, nor the sound of the wind, nor the rumble of lightening in the distance. Nothing! It was like someone had just turned the sound off of the world.
Harry looked about with renewed misery. She could only hope this was only temporary and that Madame Pomfrey could fix it when she returned to Hogwarts.
And then, something touched her shoulder.
Harry cried out in surprise, jumped up and twirled around, whipping her wand out of her pocket as she did so.
Standing in front of her was Remus, a look of concern on his lined face, his hands held up in a sign of non-aggression. Just a bit behind him was Tonks, who looked equally concerned and a bit wary. His mouth made the motions of speech but to Harry's dismay, she couldn't hear anything.
"Remus?" she tried. She could feel her vocal cords vibrating but she still couldn't hear anything.
Remus appeared to speak again, Tonks seeming to add in something as well, but Harry could only shake her head in frustration.
"I can't hear anything!" she said, pointing to her ear, pretty sure she had spoken a bit more loudly than socially acceptable. She hoped she didn't sound as desperate and hysterical as she felt.
Remus frowned, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. Tonks looked bewildered. Remus tried communicating again, this time with hand gestures. Eventually, Harry discerned that he was trying to tell her to put her wand away. She hadn't even notice that she had practically stuck it in the man's eyeball.
Harry nodded, and was just about to pocket it when she had a sudden suspicion. What if they were Death Eaters on Polyjuice?
"What's my Patronus form?" she asked suspiciously.
Remus smiled and quite distinctly mouthed, "Prongs."
Harry sighed in relief and pocketed her wand. Just as she was pushing off of the ground, the sound started up again, even more loudly and agonizingly than before. She screamed at the sudden pain, and roughly fell back to the ground, not even trying to block her ears this time. She just let the scream rip out of her.
It was as if someone took a knife and shove it into her ear canal! Just before she slipped into darkness, she registered Remus' and Tonks' looks of shock and panic as they bent over him. Her last thought was, 'I guess I'm not deaf after all.'