:ahem:…I'm back! He he he…long time no see, hmm? Good times…good times…Anyway, sorry for the delay, hopefully it won't happen again. Um…a few quick things…the Half Blood Prince came out while I was between chapters and I've decided not to follow the events in the book. Don't get me wrong, I loved it…totally loved it, but I already had a kind of idea about what would happen in the Ancient Alliances Reborn universe after the 5th year and I want to see where it takes me. Sorry if that doesn't float your boat but….that's how its gonna be! I hope you'll give it a try anyway. Yeah I bet you're waiting for me to shut up so I guess I will…on with the fic!

Chapter 17

"Fine, they shucked us out. We should be used to as much by now, right?" asked Ron as he, Hermione, Harry and Ginny lounged under a large willow near the lake. "But why on earth did the bleeding twins get to stay in the meeting?"

"I suppose we should be lucky they let us children stay for breakfast," muttered Ginny sourly plucking grass by the handful.

"Well being bitter isn't going to do anything about it," sniffed Hermione from behind a book. "Ronald Weasly the fact that I'm reading doesn't mean that I can't see you!" she cried shrilly, snapping her book shut loudly.

Ron, who had been mimicking the girl to the great amusement of his other two companions, blanched and gulped loudly at being caught. Hermione had been a bit testy for the past few days, crying and shouting at intervals. Once, after having a door slammed soundly in his face, he had complained to his mother about Hermione's strange behavior and received from the red haired woman a pitying smile.

"Hermione's growing up," she had said, "Don't worry, the mood will pass in a few days time."

Watching Hermione growing increasingly red, shouting about things like "common decency" and "beastly red-heads," Ron found himself fervently wishing time would suddenly pick up its pace.

It didn't.

Ginny, meanwhile, found the situation extremely entertaining, more so than Ron's imitation of Hermione, which had actually been quite good. Harry wasn't surprised to find himself enjoying the girl's laughter. The two had grown closer over the past year and had been spending much more time in only each other's company over the last few months. He had been surprised to find himself with strong feelings for his best friends sister, but not unpleasantly so.

Harry left these thoughts for the moment and grinned as he watched his friends, glad for the sheer normalcy of the situation. If he really tried he could almost imagine that they were back in their second or third year, without the constant fear and unease in every area of their lives. Sirius was alive in that picture too, grinning roguishly and kicking Snape in the seat of his pants...

"Harry…Harry…" said Ginny as she gently shook his knee. Harry blinked rapidly and looked around, a bit embarrassed at being caught day dreaming by Ginny.

"You were gone for a moment. Go somewhere nice?" asked Ginny playfully.

"Yeah…yeah," said Harry quietly, his eyes tearing in the bright sunlight, or so Ginny assumed. "Somewhere very nice."

"Well I hate to bring you back to reality, but we're about to have a visitor," said Ginny with a nod in the direction of the school. "Two to one says he's coming to talk to you."

Harry stood and turned, watching Legolas approach, accompanied by Ron and Hermione who had run to meet him and were undoubtedly pestering him with questions about the meeting. As Ron and Harry were very comfortable around the elf, and rather than waste their breath and energy on the other members of the Order, they now went straight to the elf for all of their information needs. He didn't have any apparent qualms about divulging information, unless, as he put it, "The professor strictly forbade it." Hermione and Ginny were still a bit awed by the elf, but that was usually the case with young girls where the prince was concerned.

"There are Harry and Ginny, will you tell us now?"

The frustration in Ron's voice forced a smile out of Harry. The sensible elf had surely made his two friends wait until the group was together before relating what he had to say. 'Not that I blame Ron for being frustrated,' thought Harry as the two groups finally met. Ron bemoaned Legolas' reticence to a distracted Harry, whose stomach twisted painfully at Ginny's giggle when Legolas chastely kissed her hand.

'She likes him too!' he couldn't help thinking, while still trying to appear attentive to his friend. 'Of course she does,' Hermione's very un-Hermione-like giggle interrupted his thoughts, 'they all do.'

"Yes, Ronald, I shall tell you all what happened, though I fear it isn't particularly earth shattering news," said Legolas as he clapped Harry on the back in greeting. Harry tried to swallow his quickly rising jealousy toward Legolas and sat back on the grass with the others.

After warmly greeting the large willow Legolas smoothly sank to the ground in the middle of the semi-circle of friends.

"Well," asked Ron, his naturally pale face positively white in anticipation. "Was 'it' decided?"

"If by 'it' you mean the status of Hogwarts, than yes 'it' was decided." Each of the students immediately leaned towards the elf, Hermione toying with the ends of her hair nervously while Ginny began chewing her bottom lip.

"Hogwarts will open its doors once again," said Legolas with a soft smile. Ron fell on his back at the news, muttering something about a heart attack, while the others simply grinned and shared sighs of relief.

"But how did Dumbledore get the ministry to agree?" asked the ever-inquisitive Hermione after Ron had settled down. "I thought they were fighting it tooth and nail."

"Oh, they most certainly did," said Legolas as he leaned against the willow, which gave an unmistakable quiver of excitement at his touch. "They were vehemently opposed to continuing lessons. The new minister was just here arguing his case, but ultimately the decision does not lie in the hands of the ministry."

"Who then?" inquired Ginny, apparently trying to make an effort at being more herself around Legolas, though her cheeks were still stained a pleasant shade of pink. At least Harry thought it was a pleasant shade.

"The Board of Governors maybe?" offered Ron. When Hermione gave him a look of surprise he too brightened a few shades and muttered, "What! I know I heard them mentioned during the whole Chamber of Secrets fiasco…"

"Oh, nothing…just…nothing," said Hermione smiling strangely.

"The Board of Governors do have quite a bit of say, though I am afraid they were, shall we say, overruled in this situation," said the prince with a sly look.

"Then who?" asked Harry, privately thinking that perhaps Dumbledore had even more power than it seemed. To Harry's surprise Legolas said, "Not even Dumbledore could sway the board, so I had no choice but to remind everyone of one very important fact."

"And what was that?" asked Hermione, obviously very intrigued.

"I informed them that as the owner of Hogwarts, I simply refused to let the school close," said Legolas with a brisk nod.

"You…wait…what?" asked Ron, utterly confused. And he wasn't the only one. Hermione's brow was extremely furrowed and she appeared to be mentally reviewing every fact that she had ever learned about Hogwarts.

"I'm sorry," said Harry, shaking his head as if in the hopes that doing so would straighten out Legolas' last, strange sentence. "But did you just call yourself Hogwarts' owner?"

"Yes," said Legolas calmly.

"But you're not a wizard."

"No, that is true, but I do have vast quantities of gold."

The friends shared bewildered looks. Hermione finally managed to sputter out, "But I've read Hogwarts, A History and I…I just don't understand." Legolas offered his congratulations at her having read Hogwarts, A History, saying that he had personally found it entirely too dull after the first few chapters.

"However, the fact that I own Hogwarts is not at all as complicated as you seem to me making it. You see, long ago as mortals reckon, the descendant of a dear friend from my past came to me with a difficult situation. He told me that a group of well meaning wizard and witches desired to start a school where they could hone their craft and pass it to others who shared their passion. Naturally, I applauded their courage, for founding a school is quite the undertaking, and waited for his "but". I did not have to wait long. Apparently, though these people were well-meaning they were nonetheless incapable of providing the means for creating and maintaining a school. Where could the premises possible be? How would it be built? How could such a small number of wizards keep non-magical folk away? Quite a list of problems and only a handful of people to contend with them."

"Was he a good friend of yours, this man?" interrupted Hermione. "I only ask because that's quite a burden to put on someone who isn't very close to you."

"No, this was actually our first encounter," said Legolas thoughtfully. "Yet I implore you, do not think less of him for doing so. As I briefly mentioned earlier, his ancestors were very dear to me and before they died I vowed that as long as I was able I would be a friend and source of help to any of their line. Knowing this, and being faced with a problem beyond mortal proportions, he came to me, trusting that my vow held true despite the passage of many years. Quite obviously, I did help the man. The land upon which Hogwarts is built was once part of my fathers kingdom, Eryn Lasgalen. However, so many of my people had left these shores for the next that long stretches of land were void of both elf and tree, perfect for a large school and grounds. In addition, my land was particularly what the founders required because they were already enchanted to keep at bay those who were unwanted." Here Legolas stopped and laughed quietly saying, "That was a little trick my father taught me," his mind faraway, lost in another time and place.

After a few moments of silence Hermione softly said, "I take it you provided the building funds as well," bringing the elf back from fond memories of a tall elf with a soothing voice and comforting eyes.

Turning his attention back to the group, Legolas slowly blinked and said, "Yes, my lady, I certainly did. To do so was an honor. Though I don't entirely approve of the design they chose," he glanced at the gothic styled castle with barely veiled distaste. "I would have preferred something less dark, but…" he sighed, "mortals will do as they please."

"So you basically handed them loads of gold and the deed to some land? That was that?" asked Ron, clearly thinking that Legolas got the raw end of the deal.

"Well not really. I was distantly involved in the planning and construction of the school. As to my giving the founders the deed to my land, that did not happen. I retain full ownership of the building and land, for I am neither as young nor naive as some would take me to be."

"So did you just tell the governors whats what, then?" asked Harry with a grin. How he loved when those type of people were told off.

"No, I was quite civil actually," said Legolas, chuckling at the obvious disappointment in Harry and Ron's faces. " I simply applied the type of reasoning that works with people of their station and means."

"Meaning…?" asked Hermione.

"I informed them that I would expect rent payment in the form of a thousand galleons for every week the school goes unopened."

Laughing cheerfully, Hermione said, "Oh I'm sure they started singing a different tune after you made that known."

"Yes, for people who claim large amounts of wealth they surely abhor spending any quantities of it," agreed Legolas, smiling along with the others. He could still see the looks of horror on the faces of the governors as they each contemplated the thousands of galleons they would loose in closing the school. It had been particularly entertaining to watch them practically stumble over one another in their haste to revise votes.

"Well that's good to hear," said Harry, his friends all nodding their agreement. "At least I won't have to go back to Privet Drive."

"And now we know the fate of Hogwarts will always be in very capable hands," said Hermione, blushing when Legolas laughed musically and offered his sincere thanks. Ron, meanwhile, began gagging dramatically behind Hermione after she started to giggle. Harry, while trying to smother a laugh at his friend's antics, asked Legolas if he could tell them anything else about the meeting.

"I am sorry to disappoint the four of you, but nothing else very important happened. Well…other than the twins…" Legolas' voice trailed off and he laughed deep in his chest though he was obviously trying not to.

"Wonderful, what did my brothers do?" asked Ron, his eyes shinning with excitement. He turned to Harry and whispered, "They haven't pulled a good prank in awhile, so I've been waiting for something really big."

"I really shouldn't talk about it. Your mother might think that I condone such behavior ," said Legolas, his eyes twinkling at the memory. The elf rose gracefully and, looking towards the castle, saw several elves slowly making their way across the grounds. "Ah, I suppose we are all ready to begin. If you shall excuse me, ladies," he bowed in a very charming fashion to the young woman, to their great pleasure, "There is very important business that requires my careful attention."

"Wait, no!" cried Ron, scrambling to his feet as the prince began to walk away. "You can't just do that! That's just teasing, that's what it is! What did the twins do?" By this time Ron had walked up to Legolas and scowled at him in what he might have thought was an intimidating manner. And it may have very well been effective on someone else, for Ron had been looking forward to the twin's next joke for what seemed to be ages and was very angry about missing the event. However, despite Ron's considerable height for one his age, the prince towered over him, which made the scene quite comical. Legolas was certainly amused by the boy's behavior and, cocking his head to the side, he asked Ron if he planned on forcing it out of him.

"Guess not…" muttered Ron after sizing up the prince. After all, he may not have Hermione's intelligence, but he wasn't an idiot.

"I will say this," said Legolas, remembering the sting of being young and out of the loop. "I know for a fact that they had tips from our friends the Gryffindor Guardians. They also had several ferrets and large crates of rotting fruit. Oh, and your mother was more angry than I have ever seen," he smiled and quirked an eyebrow. "I invite you to call upon the deepest regions of your imaginations in drawing your own conclusions." Ron nodded slowly, his mind brimming with strange ideas.

By now the elves, Gilethiel, Keladon, Elendor along with three others none of the Gryffindors had previously met, had reached the willow. Gilethiel greeted each of the students warmly before turning to Legolas and saying, "My lord, the time is now ripe. The forest calls, we should tarry no longer."

"My lady is right, as always," said Legolas warmly, his face shinning with admiration for the elf-maiden. "We go to rally more allies to the side of goodness and light."

"In the forest?" asked Hermione, voicing the question on the lips of each young wizard and witch.

"Most certainly, young lady," smiled Legolas, Gilethiel's arm tucked snuggly under his own, "We go to wake the trees."

Sooo…what did you think? Please review, even if its just to yell at me…you can also e-mail me or whatever, I just really love to hear about what you guys think! Seriously! And I take criticism pretty well too :mutter:mutter: he he he just kidding. Alright I promise promise promise that there won't be such a long wait for the next chapter. I'll get to work on it asap. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye! Wow, I never realized how horrible that sounds. Okay I'll stop now. Please review!