Sincere Disclaimer: I would love to own these two large franchises, but I don't and that's the end of it.

Back to the Beginning

Chapter Seventeen

Of Search and Sabotage

Harry supposed that he had been rather temperamental, yelling at Aragorn like that, but the Ranger had touched upon a sensitive subject. He had grieved to see Legolas in such a state. In hindsight, it occurred to him that Aragorn had merely been testing him. He had noticed the suspicious looks Aragorn had been giving him, and it meant either that he thought Holly was with the Enemy, or Holly's biggest and not-very-well-kept secret that she wasn't Sataressë.

At least, not completely.

He couldn't become Sataressë (nor did he particularly wish to) until he unearthed the secrets the Maia was keeping from him. It was like keeping secrets from one's own self, however.

'You can't keep them from me forever, Sataressë. I'll dig them up sooner or later.'

Per usual, though Harry somehow knew that his counterpart had heard him, there was no answer.

Sitting on his bed with his back against the wall, Harry examined his – no, the Elder Wand. He was starting to slip in his thoughts concerning Elder Wand. It was not his wand. For the first time in a while, Harry thought back to his previous world. Where his family remained.

His heart had constricted painfully when he recalled the scene of the King embracing his son and niece.

Once, that had been him, hugging his children like that.

…Of course, minus the King part.

And with a whole lot more people, but even with only three people, Harry was reminded of his family and how much he missed them.

Ginny, Teddy, James, Albus, Lily…

…But at the same time, Harry had found a purpose in Arda, if only a temporary one.

Now that he'd become aware that he'd been drafted into a different world via hints the Valar of death and destiny had given him, Harry was ashamed to admit that he'd gotten bored with his life in the wizarding world. Holding the position of Head Auror for a couple of decades became quickly tedious after the first few years (if not months), especially with the paperwork. His children and godson had already gotten families and jobs of their own, and flown out of the nest, so to speak.

To be honest, he –

A knock at the door knocked Harry out of his own thoughts.

Rather reluctantly, Harry slid to his feet and went to the door. Upon opening it, he found the King's niece standing in the doorway, her blonde hair and white dress in a tamer condition than they had been earlier in the day.

It seemed that unlike before, she was making a conscious effort to look and act composed. Harry supposed it was in part due to an actual semblance of genuine composure – now that her uncle knew her again – and another in part to maintain her dignity before another female.

At least, Harry thought wryly, another female form.

It just showed how far Harry had come in terms of discomfort in being regarded as a female in his Maia form than he had before. He still didn't find it comfortable by any means, but he no longer flinched nor found it unnerving to walk past a mirror and see Sataressë's reflection where the eighty-five – no, now it would be eighty-six – year old Harry Potter's reflection should be.

For now, Harry decided it best to focus on the situation at hand. It was rude to keep a lady at a door so Harry stood aside and invited the King's niece in. "May I help you?" Harry politely inquired.

Éowyn – was it? – shook her head and merely replied, "I simply wanted to thank you for restoring my uncle to his normal self."

Very seldom, Harry found, did people do any such things such as expressing gratitude twice – the second time intentionally sought out – without an underlying motive.

So he waited.

"I do not believe I've introduced myself," the woman stated, "My name is Éowyn, and I gather you already know that I am his majesty's niece." After a pause, she continued, "and I also gather you know of my brother's exile."

A silence filled with a significant request ensued.

So that was the motive. Harry sighed. "And I gather, you want to find your brother."

Almost too eagerly, Éowyn nodded. "To tell him of the good news of our uncle."

Harry almost snorted at (from his point of view, at least) the pathetic excuse of a reason she'd come up with, but understood her need to find her brother; her family. Even if her desire was not so much hinted at than shoved in his face. Managing to keep his tone understanding, Harry said, "As much as I'd like to help, I must discuss the matter with my comrades; they are eager to set out for Gondor."

Éowyn's face minimally stiffened, but her answer was gracious still. "Thank you for your consideration. When might I expect your answer?"

"Tomorrow at the latest." Harry replied.

"Then I shall await your reply."

Harry watched on as Éowyn turned and walked out of the room, back straight, shutting the door with a purposefully measured volume; not banged, but not too softly.

Harry stared thoughtfully at the closed door. He truly wanted to help the King's niece, but when Harry had told Éowyn that he needed to ask his companions' cooperation – that is to say, mainly Aragorn and Boromir – it had not simply been an excuse.

Now, Harry found himself at a crossroads between wisdom and pride. From what he'd seen of Boromir's protests against staying earlier, the Gondorean was in a rush to return to Gondor so Aragorn would be much easier to convince…

But he'd just had a big row with the man.

Even as he headed back to Aragorn's rooms, Harry was shaking his head at himself. He was sinking from his 'saving people thing' to 'helping people thing' now, was even sacrificing his dignity for it.

Harry's pride as an auror was rapidly crumbling down in the face of this particular situation. As Head Auror, he'd never had to ask permission to go on a mission. Had he been working solo in his previous world, he wouldn't have hesitated to help search for a missing person, but the fact of the matter was that he was not traveling solo and this was Arda, and he'd promised himself (or rather, Sataressë) that he'd support Aragorn.

But he was also the only one with the particular brand of magic that could locate people.

Yet, there was another angle to this search request that Harry doubted the King's niece had considered: he had never been even remotely fond of politics, but her implied request could potentially help Aragorn regain his rightful place as King of Gondor. Expediting the return of the King's nephew would help cement the alliance between Rohan and Gondor. Rohan would essentially be in Gondor's debt. Aragorn would surely see this.

…Assuming the man actually wanted the position of king. But Sataressë had added 'the restoration of the rightful Númenórean King' to Harry's to-do list and now Harry was determined to fulfill it.

So Harry swallowed his pride and knocked on Aragorn's door.

Aragorn opened the door, and raised an eyebrow upon seeing Harry again.

"Are you quite certain you have the right door?"

Harry gave Aragorn an arch, no nonsense look, to which Aragorn shrugged in response. "Well, it seemed quite recently, I'd be the last one in Middle Earth you'd talk to, much less seek out again."

Harry replied in an even voice, "The King's niece came to me with a request, and I wanted to ask for your advice."

Aragorn stared down at Harry, both eyebrows raised now. "Advice." Aragorn stated, more than asked.

"Yes, advice, Dúnadan, for I am no longer familiar with this world's tactics concerning negotiations or politics." Snapped Harry. "They are too fractured. I have not interfered with court affairs this much since the sundering of the Elves."

Aragorn crossed his arms. "I'm listening."

"Éowyn came to me, implying very strongly – and not so subtly, I might add – that I would be of great help in the search for her exiled brother." Harry looked intently at Aragorn. "But now that I've found you, I do not intend to be separated from you or the others if I can help it."

Aragorn snorted quietly, clearly thinking back on the times Harry had followed him.

Ignoring the unvoiced jab, Harry continued, "But you know what benefits might accompany fulfilling such a request far better than I." He carefully searched Aragorn's face for even a flicker of emotion.

But Aragorn's face remained impassive. "How long do you think it'll take to find him?"

"That depends on how far away he is, but by myself, it shouldn't take me longer than a day." Harry added drily, "Though I'm not entirely sure the King's nephew would listen to a female as you do."

Aragorn scoffed. "You are no mere female. And you said that you'd revealed yourself to Sauron. There is no need to hide your identity any longer."

Harry sighed. "I don't know what you've heard about me, but if 'attention seeking' was one of them, you are sorely mistaken." Harry met Aragorn's gaze squarely. "Perhaps I share similarities with a certain somebody, hesitating to reclaim his rightful place as King of Gondor even on his way there."

Aragorn smiled ruefully. "Nay Holly, I have already long prepared myself to reclaim the throne; 'tis just my identity I am wary of revealing."

Harry raised his eyebrows. "Though I note a slight lack of enthusiasm in your tone, I will pursue the subject no more. Personally, I want to find the King's nephew, as I've the means to help. I came here to hear your opinion, for even if I go, much of the potential political advantages will come to naught without your company."

Aragorn seemed to consider Harry's words carefully before saying, "If Lady Éowyn asked for aid in such an endeavor, we must assist – if Théoden does indeed desire our assistance."

Harry sighed in relief. "I am glad you approve." At Aragorn's questioning look, Harry admitted, "I had depended on convincing you first, for I believe Boromir will heed the words of a fellow man who has a vested interest in Gondor more than those of a Maia gone for several ages." He smiled rather bitterly. "Not all edain are as open-minded as you, Aragorn."

For a moment, Aragorn seemed to be at a loss of words. Deciding to relieve him of his discomfort, Harry said lightly, "Now, shall we go find Boromir?"


It had been almost a week since they'd been traveling along Dagorlad and they were slowly but steadily nearing the Black Gate.

But sometimes when Frodo was on watch, he thought he heard hoarse whispering and stiffened, hands ready to draw Sting, but whenever he did so, the whispering abruptly faded, making him think he'd imagined it, and no attack came. And Sting never glowed, which meant the whispering came neither from orcs nor goblins.

On the third night he heard the whispering, when Legolas was about to take over the watch, Frodo finally voiced, "Legolas… during some of my watches, I hear…" the hobbit swallowed; he knew Legolas wouldn't laugh at him, but he was still somewhat nervous of telling the elf his thoughts.

Legolas looked at him with worried eyes. "You hear things at night, Frodo? What things?"

Frodo hesitated to answer, but managed to finish, "Whispering."

He shouldn't have worried of being paranoid or scolded for not telling the elf earlier, as Legolas immediately stiffened and shot an astonishingly nasty (for an elf, that was) look towards Gandalf. In a soothing voice that quite contrasted with his withering face expression, Legolas said, "Worry not, Frodo. The voice merely belongs to the one who has been tailing us from the depths of Moria."

"Gollum!" Frodo wasn't sure if he should be more surprised or alarmed. Perhaps leaning a tad more toward alarmed. "He talks to himself?" Frodo had heard of Gollum's odd persona from Bilbo, but the phrase 'talking to oneself' really brought that tale of Gollum's insanity to life.

Legolas gave a mirthless snort. "Talks to himself, plots with himself… his personality has long been fractured since discovering the Ring."

Frodo felt a wee bit uneasy. No, he was deluding himself; he felt outright alarmed and horrified as he snatched up the Ring on its chain. "I'm not going to turn out like that, am I?" He was repulsed by the very thought.

At Frodo's obvious alarm, Legolas showed a hint of amusement. "Gollum had borne the Ring for far longer than both you and Bilbo combined and thus had many more years to be influenced by it." The elf reminded Frodo.

Remembering Bilbo and the number of years he'd carried the Ring without becoming as decrepit as the wretched creature at their heels, Frodo sighed with relief. Still, the way Bilbo had reacted to the Ring when he'd taken it out… Frodo shook the thought out of his head.

Anyways, they were off to destroy the thing.

Just past the Black Gate that loomed closer and closer…

Past the orcs…

Up Mount Doom…

Drop it into the lava…

Then it would be over.

Absently toying with the Ring that hung upon the chain round his neck, Frodo could not help but wonder how such a short list could sound so daunting. But he had taken on the job, and it was his duty to finish it.


Legolas tensed. At this point, even Frodo had realized something was wrong; the Elven Prince sent Gandalf a glare, though whether the wizard hadn't seen it or had magnificently ignored it Legolas had no idea.

In the end, Legolas settled on telling Frodo the truth, even if only a partial one. Carrying the burdensome title as Ringbearer, Frodo deserved to know.

For days, Legolas had lain alert even during others' watches, trying to discern even an iota of Gollum's plan. They were in vain, however, as Gollum's 'conversations' were either useless or next to unintelligible to him. It had been a miracle that he had deciphered the first conversation.

So leaving out Gollum's active plotting, Legolas informed Frodo of the source of the whisperings that obviously unsettled the hobbit. Frodo's unease had noticeably increased when he'd brought up Gollum's name. Inwardly, the elf sighed. What was Gandalf thinking, leaving Frodo in the dark like this? And it seemed the hobbit's time wearing the Ring was slowly taking its toll, as Legolas saw a glimmer of precious metal twinkling between Frodo's fingers before he turned his eyes to the watch.

The next few days passed uneventfully; Legolas no longer heard Gollum's conversations, nor were there any signs of them being followed any longer.

Though such an abrupt departure was suspicious in and of itself, Legolas turned his mind elsewhere; Legolas had long been wary of the Morannon and its guards, and grew warier still the nearer they approached. For the hundredth time, he looked along the top of the wall and the gates, eyes running over the guards, when he gave pause.

The Orc guards stationed atop the ramparts were unusually alert. Like they were expecting something… Focusing on something…

Something in his mind clicked.

"Mithrandir, Morannon is not safe." Legolas urgently informed the wizard.

Gandalf heaved a sigh. "I am well aware of the fact, Legolas. But I cannot think of another way in."

Legolas grimly shook his head. "You misunderstand me, Mithrandir. I believe the creature Gollum plans to – "

A groaning of gears sounded and all of a sudden, a shower of debris rained down from the sky.

Gandalf sprang into action. "They have discovered us! Run to the wall, the catapult cannot reach us there!"

Legolas' eyes narrowed. A catapult was a weapon primarily used to knock walls down, running to the wall's shadow to dodge the rocks would be just what they expected. "Mithrandir, I do not think – "

"Hurry! I will draw their attention away! Holly did not give you those lumps on your back to molt!"

Though his lips were peeled back to bare his teeth in a snarl, Legolas knew that arguing with Gandalf would aggravate things. He threw back his cloak to unfurl his wings, grabbed Frodo and Sam round their waists, and flew to the wall.

Even though he strongly suspected they were flying into a trap.

He felt stinging sensations on his wings and body, but sheltered the hobbits the best he could and pelted forward. When they were not quite at the gate but on the edge of it, hidden by a boulder of the mountain, Legolas set the hobbits down. He felt slow trickling sensations from various places on his body.

"Legolas, you're bleeding!" Frodo cried out.

So that was what the trickling sensations were, Legolas dimly thought. A bright light shone from even behind the large boulder; still in battle mode, Legolas looked from behind the boulder to see what Gandalf was doing and where Gimli was. But even his elf eyes could only see a blinding light and he quickly ducked behind their refuge again. "I have to go back for Gimli." Legolas said distractedly.

"No!" This was said simultaneously by both Frodo and Sam.

"Gandalf's out there as well. We'll just have to hope they'll be alright." Though his voice was even and the words spoken were calming, Frodo's true feelings were betrayed by a white-knuckled fist clenching what Legolas vaguely supposed was the Ring.

"'Sides, you're hurt!" Sam, usually quiet, was adamant about this. "I may not know a lot about you Elves, but judging from your eyes, what you're running on right now is battle fever, and when you cool down, I reckon all you'll feel is pain."

Sam might be correct, Legolas thought, but if Gimli died here, he knew he would regret it for the rest of his immortal life. The light slightly dimmed and Legolas chanced another glimpse.

And this time, his elf eyes did not fail him; he saw a tall figure holding a staff up high, blowing away every rock and metal flying toward him; some distance away, he saw a stocky figure of what could only be a dwarf holding his own and smashing every big rock that fell from the sky near him into pieces. Gimli's dented helmet had seen better days by far, but the dwarven warrior was doing quite well in his own right and Legolas felt a surge of pride for Gimli, whom he could now veritably call a friend.

Legolas trusted his friend was strong enough to survive. Even so, Legolas prayed to Elbereth that Gimli would make it through the storm of debris safely.

Sensing another presence on the borders of his heightened senses from behind them, Legolas sharply whipped around. Frodo and Sam both shrank back at the suddenness of Legolas' movement and seeing their fear, Legolas managed to smile and assured them, "Worry not. Gandalf and Gimli are both holding their own." Noting the extreme relief in the hobbits' eyes, Legolas made a split second decision that made him hate himself. He continued, "But we must continue ahead whilst they are distracting the Enemy."

Frodo's blue eyes widened. "But – "

Legolas quelled Frodo's dismay with a stern look. "The Enemy knows we are near the gate, and if we are caught now, Gandalf's and Gimli's efforts will be for naught."

This seemed to convince the Ringbearer, as Frodo's resolve seemed to harden when he said firmly, "Then we will climb the Outer Fence if we must, to keep their actions from being in vain."

As he folded his wings, Legolas held back a wince. Sam had been right when he had said that he would feel pain after the battle fever had subsided; even if flying up *Ephel Dúath was a choice, he had a feeling that his wings would be useless for some time. They would have to hike up the path, and, as Niphedril had been fond of saying, 'wing it'.

Looking over to where he had felt the skulking presence, Legolas narrowed his eyes in thought. Perhaps… as treacherous the creature was, what did they have to lose by giving Gandalf's theory a try? He turned to Sam.

"Do we still have the coils of the rope we received at the Lórien?"

[*Ephel Dúath: Sindarin for the Outer Fence, the western mountain range of Black Gate]


Though it took the combined efforts of him and Holly and a good deal of time to convince Boromir that not accompanying the search party for Théoden's nephew would do more harm than good, the Gondorean finally relented.

"I am better known to them as a representative of Gondor, so I should go as well." Boromir said resignedly. Aragorn heard a hint of bitterness in his voice. It seemed that the son of the steward still hadn't completely reconciled himself with Aragorn's position as Elendil's heir and Gondor's King.

The search party was being put together, consisting of Prince Théodred, three other Rohan men, Boromir, Aragorn, and Holly – Éowyn had fought tooth and nail to be included. The King and his son had tried to convince her that Éomer wouldn't be pleased to see his sister in such danger. Éowyn had looked to Holly for support; Holly had looked conflicted and asked the King's niece if she could wield a blade. Éowyn had quickly nodded, and after gauging her sincerity, Holly had looked at Aragorn briefly before saying, "If she can wield a blade, then she is as capable of protecting herself as any other man. And should the need arise, I myself will protect the whole search party."

Holly had sounded so confident that it was no wonder that the men caved and allowed Éowyn to join. The next step was convincing Holly to ride a horse…

When Aragorn brought up the subject, Holly had flat out refused. Aragorn, as well as the men of Rohan, protested. "You came all the way here – "

"The least we could do is provide a horse – "

"I came as a horse, not on one." Holly stubbornly held out.

"'Twould be discourteous to reject their offer." Boromir quietly pointed out.

That gave Holly pause, but Aragorn saw that she was still going to refuse, so he said in an offhand manner, "Gandalf rides and is capable of magic, so the Lady Holly should also be able to do the same."

Théodred clapped his hands. "Then 'tis decided! We shall give Lady Holly her pick of horses!"

Holly glared at Aragorn, knowing that he was goading her. He gave her an innocent look in return. Making sure the others couldn't hear, she hissed at him, "I don't know how to ride!"

Aragorn shrugged. "You didn't know how to fight with a sword before, but you learned."

"We had not made an enemy of time back then." Holly spat back. "If we are slow to find the king's nephew, know that you have yourself to blame."

When they set out that noon, Aragorn discovered Holly had not been in jest when she had said that she didn't know how to ride a horse.

She knew her animals, yes, as she had immediately gravitated to the fairest – but apparently unlucky – mount. Yet even then, she had seemed unsure. And when it came to saddling her mount, she had shifty eyes, as if she were imitating what others were doing; she occasionally fumbled with a strap and was always a beat behind him, he noticed. He wondered what would happen if he sped up his saddling, but refrained.

But had not Holly admitted rather venomously to him that she could not ride, everything could be dismissed as rustiness due to a long time away from the saddle. What ultimately gave her lack of horse-riding experience away was the awkward way in which she mounted the stallion, especially in comparison to the smooth confidence in which the Rohirrim mounted their own.

Aragorn winced when he realized how Holly would feel after her first time riding a horse.


'Aragorn is a prat. Aragorn is a prat. He is a Ilúvatar-forsaken prat.' was constantly running through Harry's mind as he galloped in the direction that Éomer was in.

He'd felt Aragorn observing him keenly all through the process, starting with the choosing of horses – Mearas, the Rohirrim called them. His eyes had scanned over the horses, and landed on a black horse that had a white star on its head. As he neared, the horse eyed him as if x-raying him, weighing him, judging his worth. It reminded him a bit of… well, him. Or at least, the Harry Potter of the wizarding world, marked forehead, battle-weary eyes. He reached out tentatively to stroke its muzzle and the horse's eyes closed in acceptance.

"This one." Harry whispered.

"Are you quite sure, milady?" asked the Stablemaster, his tone setting off alarm bells in Harry's head.

Hand pausing to a rest on the horse's forehead mark, Harry asked, "Why do you ask?"

The Stablemaster shifted. "Well, that stallion there had 'most six masters previous, but as they were all slain in battle, rumor's have it that he's cursed."

At the word 'cursed,' the horse opened his eyes, as if daring Harry to back away at the new information. "What's his name?" Harry asked the Stablemaster absently, staring into the horse's eyes.

"Originally, 'twas Nightstar, but what with the deaths of all his masters, the stable hands have taken to calling him Déaþscúa – it means Death's Shadow in Westron. That or Deathbearer."

'Death left its mark on you too, I see.' Harry thought silently. "I'll take him." At this, the supposedly cursed horse closed his eyes and nuzzled his hand.

"It seems that horse has chosen you as well." Théodred declared. "That stallion is experienced in battle, but we had not expected to find him a new master in you, Lady Holly. May you break the curse on him like you did my father."

The Stablemaster opened the gate and the stallion immediately followed after Harry. "I've a feeling that we'll get along famously." Harry said dryly, giving the horse a sidelong look. More quietly, he said to the horse, "You do realize that you chose to associate yourself with death by choosing me?" The stallion snorted and tossed his head. "Well, I won't have a horse named Deathbearer carrying me, so I'll call you Erêl, for the single star on your forehead."

At this, the horse shook his head vigorously, as if disagreeing. "What, you like being called… what's it… Dathshwa?" Harry said a bit more loudly than intended.

"Déaþscúa, Holly. Daey-th-shu-ah." Aragorn enunciated slowly, as if Harry were a dunce. Which he had been acting one, Harry admitted, in this case, butchering the Rohirric language while pointlessly talking to a horse. But it seemed like he would have to learn how to pronounce that particular name, seeing how the stallion seemed a mite more content now.

After choosing Déaþscúa – it figured he would choose a horse with a name difficult to pronounce – Harry had been able to fumble through saddling by carefully watching others.

But as everyone fluidly mounted their horses, Harry knew the moment of truth had come. He mounted his own horse and inwardly winced because it was done with so little grace compared with the others. Granted, it was his first time mounting a horse, period, so he felt he could be forgiven. The only other times he'd had any number of hooves beneath him was far back in his school years and riding Firenze or Buckbeak. And that had been bareback. Maybe he should have done bareback.

But it was literally a lifetime ago.

As if Déaþscúa could feel Harry being wistful, he gave a whinny to interrupt his rider from his thoughts, as if telling him to focus. Harry was used to intelligent owls, but intelligent horses were a first.


"Where are you going?"

Hearing the familiar voices, Harry grimaced, as did the other remnants of the Fellowship. They had not asked Merry and Pippin to come along, because, Harry was loathe to admit, they would slow them down. Let Aragorn take care of it, Harry decided.

"We are going out briefly to search for the King's nephew. We'll be back."

Predictably, Pippin crossed his arms. "You're not going anywhere without us."

"You can't expect us to sit here and smoke our pipes while you're out there in danger. We might be hobbits, but we're not cowardly folk." Aragorn hesitated, giving Merry the chance to hammer the final nail into the coffin. "Besides, what with Pip here barely knowing his toe from his elbow and most of the palace not knowing our race, what if we're separated?"

Éowyn, empathizing with the hobbits, said, "Our Mearas may not be able to hold both a man and a halfling and still be swift, but they are able to hold a woman and a halfling. And luckily," she caught Harry's eye, "we have two women."

Oh no. Two inexperienced riders on Déaþscúa, a horse whose name Harry could barely pronounce, much less ride? But he grit his teeth and helped Pippin up onto the front of his saddle.

Wanting to find Théodred's cousin and have this over and done with more than ever, Harry summoned his wand, "Point me, Éomer." Worst case scenario, he could just get off Déaþscúa and run while carrying Pippin; his pride was not priority here. His – no, the Elder Wand swung left, roughly northwest.

"To the northwest!" Harry pitched his voice so it carried to what little company they had.

Though Harry would have preferred to ride at the back, he knew that would be inefficient, as he was the only one who could locate Éomer. Not to mention Théodred and Éowyn insisted that he lead the search party. Great. The royalty among the horse lords would find out the he'd never ridden a horse. He would just have to trust that Déaþscúa would know where he wanted to go. He admitted sheepishly to Pippin that he didn't really know how to maneuver a horse, so the young hobbit might be in for a bit a rough ride.

Pippin gulped, but to his credit, smiled shakily and said, "It's okay, Holly. Besides, I know you wouldn't let me get hurt."

Harry was rather touched by Pippin's stalwart trust in him. Then he would do his best to be worthy of that trust, Harry thought as he nodded back.

He nudged Déaþscúa with his left knee as he had seen others do to turn their horses left and gently tugged on the reins, well aware of what he was doing could hurt the horse, as he himself had been one on the way to Edoras. Luckily, as Théodred had said, Harry had chosen a seasoned horse that began to gallop northwest when Harry showed the inclination to begin moving.

Every so often, Harry would check what direction Éomer was located in comparison to the search party, and adjust accordingly. When the search party was on the verge of stopping for the evening, however, Harry's keen ears heard battle sounds. He held up a hand, signaling the search party to halt, hoping to Ilúvatar to disprove his suspicions with a Point-Me spell performed while not moving.

The Elder wand was twitching a few degrees whenever Harry did the Point-Me spell. "It's moving slightly." Pippin observed. "What does that mean?"

Smiling grimly down at the hobbit, Harry replied, "Nothing good." Closing his eyes in resignation, Harry turned, and Déaþscúa instinctively wheeled around; it still surprised Harry how perceptive and obliging his new horse was. As if reading his master's thoughts, Déaþscúa snorted.

Perceptive and obliging, with a slight attitude problem, Harry corrected himself. Returning to the matter at hand, Harry addressed Théodred, "Your cousin was exiled with about a hundred troops?"

"His Éored, a cavalry of a hundred and twenty men, chose to follow him. Why do you ask, Lady Holly?"

"Because we're about to ride into the middle of a battle."

A/N: I am so sorry folks I have had no time to write/update… but one internship ends tomorrow! Another reason for my slow update speed is that though I have the major plot points down, I'm hazy on the details (eg. Black Gate) so I'm just improvising.