Title: The Boy and the Ring
Author: hoshi-tachi/Lachesis (non-ffnet)
Category: Book Crossovers
Rating: T, possibly edging on M
Harry bit back a cry of pain as Wormtail tightened the knots even further, trapping his arms at his sides and making it hard for him to breathe. Forcing his mouth open, the older wizard stuffed a length of black cloth into the boy's mouth with trembling fingers. Then he rose and hurried out of sight, leaving Harry tied to the crumbling headstone unable to even turn his head to follow him.
Cedric's body lay crumbled perhaps twenty feet away, the Triwizard Cup tipped over on its side a bit past him. Closer, almost close enough for Harry to reach out a foot and touch it was the bundle Wormtail had been carrying. It was moving now, whatever was inside the swaddling clothes twitching restlessly, and as Harry watched a particularly vigorous movement sparked a wave of pain through his scar. He did cry out, now, a cry strangled by the gag, and tried to struggle against his bonds.
Something brushing against his foot garnered another cry and even fiercer struggles as the young wizard saw an enormous snake glide through the grass. It circled around the grave, Harry following it with frightened eyes; looking elsewhere, he missed Wormtail's return until the man and the bath-sized stone cauldron he was pushing were nearly on top of him. Pettigrew's face was flushed in the darkness, and he was breathing hard when he at last had the cauldron positioned at the base of the grave.
Whatever was inside the bundle was thrashing now, as though trying to break free. Harry drew his legs up, trying to get as far away as possible from the thing that continued to send needle-sharp throbs of agony through his skull. Earlier he'd wondered what was inside; now he'd give anything in his possession, from his beloved Firebolt to his father's invisibility cloak, not to ever see what it was.
Wormtail pulled out his wand and waved it towards the cauldron, and crimson flames leapt from the ground beneath it. It didn't take long for whatever the liquid inside was to heat; Harry knew it wasn't water, because as it boiled angry red sparks began to appear amongst the billowing steam. "Hurry!" that cold, whispery voice that had ordered Cedric's death shrieked.
Wormtail cringed even worse than Harry did. "It is ready, Master."
Master? Harry thought with a dawning horror. No, it couldn't be…
"Now…" the voice ordered, and the traitor bent to pull the shielding clothes away from the bundle. Harry's yell of horror was again muffled.
It wasn't a child. It wasn't anything like a child, except perhaps in size, which had been Harry's first thought. His next was demon, as its eyes glowed red in a serpent-like face, its skin covered in black and red things that weren't quite scales. It made him gag and nearly choke on the cloth in his mouth, as Wormtail reached down to pick it up and it curled its sticklike arms around his neck. The wizard's hood fell back, and the expression on his face matched Harry's revulsion perfectly. He carried the thing over to the cauldron and lowered it in, until it sank beneath the surface.
And all the while, the burning in Harry's scar only intensified.
"Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son!" Wormtail chanted with a trembling voice, pointing his wand towards the grave at Harry's feet. The boy squirmed away best as he could as the ground split, and a fine, pale dust rose up into the air. Wormtail beckoned it over to the cauldron, and as the dust sifted down into the liquid its contents shifted from colorless to an unwholesome blue.
The older wizard had begun to shake, now, as he pulled a silvery, rune-covered dagger from within his robes. "Flesh…of the servant, w-willing given," he stuttered, holding a hand out over the cauldron and holding the blade awkwardly to its wrist, "you will… revive your master…"
Harry realized just in time what he intended to do, and closed his eyes, but nothing could stop him from hearing Wormtail's scream of agony and the following plop as his severed hand landed in the cauldron. When he dared to look again, the potion had turned a bright, searing red, and sparking ever the more.
Sobbing in pain, Wormtail crawled toward Harry, pressing the bleeding stump of his right hand into his chest as the other clutched almost desperately to the dagger. He reached for Harry's arm, only to be stymied by the ropes still cocooning him to the headstone. A quick slash with the bloody knife severed half a dozen, baring the boy's skin to the blade.
The gag stifled yet another cry as Wormtail slashed deeply into his arm, then dropped the knife and fumbled inside his robes. He pulled out a little glass vial that he pushed against the skin of Harry's elbow, collecting a portion of the blood streaming down the wizard's arm. Staggering to his feet, the rat animagus lurched back to the cauldron.
"B-blood of the enemy, forcibly… taken, you will resurrect… your foe," Wormtail chanted one last time, his speech almost slurred with shock. He dumped Harry's blood into the potion, turning it from red to a blazing white that burned Harry's eyes.
The Boy-Who-Lived tried to turn his face away from the sight, and was amazed to find that he could. The ropes had loosened, unraveling away from the few Wormtail had cut, and he raised his bleeding arm to tear at them. He almost couldn't manage it; the ropes were still fairly tight, but the blood trickling down in a stream that would have been worrying if he could think clearly past the pain in his scar lubricated the limb until he could slip it free.
It took only a few moments after that to wrestle free of the ropes. Harry stood on shaking, nearly boneless legs, unnoticed by Wormtail, whose attention was split between the hissing cauldron and his stump. The boy's first instinct was to run, but before he could take more than a step away his conscience began to scream.
He couldn't let them get away with it. He couldn't let… him… return when there was any chance Harry could stop it. Not with poor, dead Cedric lying there, a silent witness to the atrocities of the ritual. With a quiet sob, Harry ran for the cauldron.
Wormtail wasn't physically strong by anyone's definition, but he was fully-grown compared to Harry's half, and he'd had trouble moving the cauldron into place. When Harry first gave the cauldron his best rugby tackle it barely did more than shiver. He threw himself against it again, and again, as Wormtail shouted furiously from behind for him to stop. Harry crouched and pressed against the cauldron from below, sobbing in pain as the flames licked at his hands and clothing. It began to tip…
He couldn't have managed it, if at that moment Wormtail hadn't thrown himself at the younger wizard to pull him away, and so added his own weight to Harry's. The giant stone cauldron fell in slow motion, spilling out its contents onto the ground as the traitor howled out a protest. The flames leapt up, briefly, then died, and at first Harry thought it was himself screaming those shrill, penetrating cries of pain.
But no… on the far side of the cauldron the tiny, demonic caricature of the Dark Lord was screaming as the heat it was no longer protected from by the magic of the ritual cooked it alive.
"NO! Master!" Wormtail shouted, as Harry fell to his knees and started crawling closer, needing to finish it, end it once and for all... "Get away from him!"
He struck Harry at very nearly the same instant the magic the wizard had called into being with the interrupted ritual rose to do his bidding. Harry sprawled on the ground, the breath knocked out of him by the wizard sitting on his chest. He had just enough time to reach up and try to push Wormtail off of him, and feel the smooth handle of a wand in his hand, before a crimson, shimmering wave enveloped him, pouring inside him and burning, burning, burning…
It was with relief, and even a little elation that he let go of consciousness, as the ritual's magic hurled the Boy-Who-Lived away.
The only sounds he heard were of horse hooves on the trail and the muted jingle of Larsk's tack. No one spoke, the members of the twelve-man patrol each too disturbed by that morning's news to break the silence that had held all day. Now the sunlight was slanting long shadows to their right, deepening Lebennin's endless green fields to emerald.
A horseman trotted past, and a moment later another came back from that direction; the changing of the point guard. The young lord nodded his approval, sitting up straighter on his steed to glance back over his little company. They rode two-by-two down the trail, an arrangement that would have to change later on when they reached areas not so heavily traveled by the people of Pelargir. They'd only left the harbor city that morning, and as of yet none of the guardsmen were showing signs of wear.
They'd stop for the night soon. The news from Pelargir was worrying, but hardly urgent.
"Sir!" the call from the point guard broke into his thoughts. "There's something here you should see."
Frowning, he nudged Larsk into a trot. As he neared the point guard he could see the disturbance that had prompted the call. The knee-high grass to the side of the path had been flattened, crushed in a trail going back into the field two or three lengths deep. At the far end lay a crumpled figure in black, as though whoever it was had been thrown violently from a horse, and rolled.
"Anador, with me," he ordered, dismounting and loosening his sword in its sheath. "The rest of you, be ready."
The body didn't stir as they approached, nor when he nudged it with his boot. It breathed, though, so with a warning glance back at his men he knelt and rolled it onto its back, revealing a boy just beginning to approach manhood. He wore thick, heavily scorched dark robes, and on his slack face was perched an odd construction of wire and glass. With the way his clothing was charred, it looked as though he'd been standing directly in the flames, but the grasses around him weren't so much as singed.
A breath hissed from between pursed lips as he noticed the unconscious boy's hands. They were badly burned, the skin already beginning to peel away. Dried blood covered his right arm, and fresh was seeping sluggishly from a deep cut that looked to have been cauterized and then cracked open again. Despite the deep and unquestionably painful searing, his left hand was clenched tightly around a carved stick of a pale wood that might have been pine or yew.
"Sir?" Anador asked quietly, the older guardsman letting his hand fall from his sword. He had a son only a bit younger than the stranger. "Do you recognize the lad?"
The rider shook his head. "No. And I've never seen the like of his clothing. He's in great need of a healer, however," he said, noting the paleness of the boy's skin and how his breaths were shallow. He rose to his feet. "Larsk!"
The well-trained horse was by his side in a blink, and its rider carefully slipped his arms beneath the boy. His burden groaned as he was lifted in front of the saddle, but didn't wake, which was undoubtedly a boon. "We'll make camp under that stand of trees," he ordered, pointing with one hand at a copse a few minutes away while the other steadied the boy.
"But milord, there's still an hour of daylight left," on of the younger guardsmen, Kelentor, protested. "We could make another good four or five miles before sundown."
"And we'll need that time to care for his wounds," Faramir, second son of the Steward of Gondor replied, climbing up behind the boy and wrapping a careful arm around his chest.
"We'll make camp now, and see what the morning brings."
A/N: I originally wasn't supposed to post this until I had five complete chapters written, but I didn't want everyone to think I was dead or had stopped writing. Things in RL have been busy lately; on top of the usual distractions of writer's block and my addiction to the MMORPG known as MapleStory (anyone else play? I'm in Broa...), I finished my first year of college with about a 3.5 GPA and started my first ever paid job. I'm currently trying to finish chapters for Know Thyself, Storm Child and Lacrymae Rerum, so wish me luck.
Oh, and no real pairings planned for this story. The possible, mythical sequel is crystallizing around one, though.
Disclaimer: I own nothing that pertains to the worlds of either Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I especially don't own recognizable quotes from either of them.