Disclaimer, I do not own anything you recognise – J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien own them, I only play with their worlds.
Two days later, Harry was still languishing in bed after a deep sleep. For the first time since he had left the Dursley's house, he was waking without fear of what would happen that day. Stretching out luxuriously he listened to the sounds of elves talking quietly outside the window, the twitter of birds and instruments being tuned.
Under Elrond's watchful eye and healing hands, he was healing well and nothing bad had happened yet. His ribs and back felt much better; the pain was still there, but it was within bearable limits now.
Throwing his feet over the side of the bed, Harry padded across the room and slipped into some silky clothes that had been laid out for him the night before and wandered out of the room he had been given without any particular destination in mind.
"Good morning Caladel," A voice called from down the corridor and Harry jumped a mile; whirling around quickly, looking much like a startled cat, Harry looked up at Elrohir's grinning face and barely restrained a scowl.
"I was just coming to wake you," Elrohir said in a placating tone, his hands outstretched in a gesture of peace. "My father needs to speak with you."
Harry nodded and followed Elrohir to the Hall of Fire where Elrond sat waiting for him. Elrohir nodded to his father in greeting and then swiftly left the Hall leaving Harry alone.
"Come Caladel, sit with me," Elrond gestured with an elegant hand at a chair beside the fire.
Harry nervously shifted into the seat, sitting on the very edge of it, poised for flight, trying to hide that he was doing so.
"How are you feeling?" Elrond started casually, leaning back in his chair, steepling his fingers together in front of him, giving Harry his full attention – as though he had all the time in the world to sit and listen to him. Harry was reminded with a sad pang of Dumbledore.
"I'm fine," Harry answered reflexively, not relaxing in the slightest.
"Yes," Elrond said pensively, "You're healing well. Better than I would have expected, you are almost at full fitness once again, but that is not what I was asking. How are you?"
"I'm fine," Harry repeated a little more forcefully than he intended.
Elrond sighed in answer, but did not press the subject much to Harry's relief. "I have received news that delegations from Lothlórien and Mirkwood are coming here. They will arrive this afternoon," Elrond studied Harry closely, "There will be a High Council this evening to decide what will happen to you."
Harry paled at those words; he knew he had been too trusting.
Elrond watched the elfling's face pale dramatically at his words and hastily clarified, "It will be your choice ultimately, do not worry. You will be presented with different options, it is not something to fear, nothing bad will happen. It is for your own good. We want what is best for you."
Disbelief and distrust flashed momentarily through those unique green eyes. 'What has happened to you?' Elrond thought sorrowfully, feeling like shouting the words in his frustration. 'What is the cause of such distrust towards us? We only want to help you!'
"Will I have to leave here?" The elfling's quiet voice pulled Elrond out of his thoughts.
"If you wish to stay, you are more than welcome to," Elrond smiled and received a nod of understanding, not one of answer. "In any case, as I said, it is not something that you need to worry about," Elrond told Harry, ignoring his skeptical look. "For now though, it is almost time for lunch and you should eat. You may be getting better, but you need food to keep up your progress."
Harry stood fidgeting between Glorfindel and Erestor on the steps as they waited for the Lothlorien to arrive.
"Caladel," Glorfindel called softly. Harry was so wrapped up in his thoughts and nervousness that he jumped at the sound.
Glorfindel rolled his eyes light heartedly but Harry got the impression that it was a forced gesture.
"Come now Caladel, there is no need to be nervous. I'm sure Lord Elrond has already explained to you that we all wish what is best for you. It is important that correct decisions are made now, so you can have the best possible time as an elfling and the only way we can make the best decisions is through talking." Glorfindel reached out a hand slowly and placed it carefully on Harry's shoulder and squeezed gently, pleased when he received no adverse reaction. "You are going to be grilled for answers by two different well-meaning realms, so you can count yourself unlucky there though!" Glorfindel chuckled to himself.
Harry, for neither love nor money, could see what was funny about that and gazed incredulously up at the elf, trying to quell the suspicion all the elves were making light of the Council and the meetings to rid him of his anxiety. Instead, he concentrated once again on where the new elves would be coming from at any moment.
Glorfindel exchanged a nervous look with, Erestor, Elrond and his sons as they saw the delegation from Lothlorien approaching. They did not know how Harry would react to Galadriel and her magic, if she tried to invade his mind…well…
Casting a discreet look downwards they saw the child had once again taken to staring intently between the trees, looking a rather interesting shade of green – unaware of their own misgivings.
Elrond masked his worry expertly when the group from Lothlorien reached them and stepped forward to greet his mother-in-law and father-in-law. "Welcome my Lord, my Lady to Imladris. It is an honour to see you again."
"No need for such formalities Elrond," Celeborn said jovially as he dismounted from his horse elegantly, offering a hand to help his wife down.
His wife said not a word, her eyes fixed on Harry.
Harry stared into the face of the Lady Galadriel for a moment, before it began to swim in his vision. For a moment he thought he was going to pass out, then suddenly, he was elsewhere; captured in a whirling storm of confused memories. Overwhelmed with memories of his own life. Memories he had forgotten or pressed to the back of his mind.
They came in a flood, in no order; almost as if his entire life was occurring within minutes, but some stood out. Voices from his past spoke to him, all the emotions from those times swirling up within him.
Memory after memory of his time at Dursley's: the numbing boredom, the pain, the exhaustion, the humiliation 'I'm going to teach you a lesson boy. A lesson you won't forget. I'm going to beat it out of you, like I should have done a long time ago.' … Hagrid saying the words that set him free and yet paradoxically imprisoned him 'Harry – yer a wizard,' how bitterly cold that night had been, how bittersweet … His mother, holding him tightly in her arms, her voice a whisper as she spoke her goodbyes to an uncomprehending baby 'be brave my little one, and always follow your heart, you remember that my son, I love you,' … The total blankness in Cedric's eyes as he lay dead by his feet, the chilling mercilessness of Voldemort's voice as he commanded 'Kill the spare,'… the bleakness and undeniable truth of the prophesy intoning 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…'
The laughter and joy he had felt at the pranks the twins pulled … those famous words 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,'… His blinding fury directed at Bellatrix as he screamed 'Crucio!' after she had murdered Sirius … The loneliness and hurt he felt when Ron had ignored him during the Triwizard tournament … The sorrow he felt when Dumbledore told him that he could not visit the Mirror of Erised again 'It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,' … His powerlessness as Dumbledore was taken from him with those two simple words, 'Avada Kedavra.'
Those words that had ruined his life.
Harry shook his head violently from side to side as the emotions and images overwhelmed him. An intolerable anguish consumed him, beyond any grief he had ever felt and it gathered in his mind, growing and growing until it became too much for him to bear. 'NO!' He screamed mentally and felt the probing fingers that were attacking his mind retreat. He felt a sharp pain in his hand as he collapsed to the ground, unable to remain standing any longer.
Elrond heard a body thump to the ground behind him and was certain he knew the cause. He turned abruptly on his heel, ignoring all decorum for a far more important cause. He saw that Glorfindel had already picked Harry into his arms. Harry was unconscious, just as Elrond had thought he would be.
He turned back around to his mother-in-law, his grey eyes frosty, barely restraining glaring at her. Shock and confusion was written clearly over her face. It seemed that her mouth would have dropped open if not for her royal upbringing that did not condone such things. Glancing over at Celeborn, he noticed that he too was glaring at his wife.
Galadriel shook herself out of her shocked stupor and looked at them, pale and distressed shaking her regal head in disbelief and horror, her right hand rubbing her left wrist unconsciously. "I did not know he would react so badly."
"You did not even wait to be introduced to him before you violated his privacy!" Elrond cried, unable to restrain himself any longer. He was so frustrated that his mother-in-law was unable to control her curiosity like the rest of them, thereby putting the elfling's trust in a very tentative position.
"I…I am sorry." Galadriel said; her eyes wide as she watched Glorfindel retreat inside with the elfling still in his arms, cradled like a baby. The elves were shocked: it was not often that Galadriel stuttered…or that she apologised.
"It is not us that you should be apologizing to," Elrond replied, not quite snapping his words out but sincerely wanting to.
Harry groaned as he came to once again. His entire body felt limp and the beginnings of a severe headache were beginning to pulse behind his brow. When his mind had been broken into it had brought up some painful images he would rather not have remembered – images that were still burning into the back of his eyes. He swallowed around a very painful lump in his throat.
"Caladel?" A voice called, it sounded like it was coming from a far away place – through glass or water and the words that were said were hard to understand, but he flicked his eyes over to where he thought the sound had come from. It was Glorfindel.
"Are you alright?" Glorfindel asked, drawing closer to him. "Lady Galadriel was wrong to do that to you. She will apologise to you if you will let her – she is quite distressed by her actions."
Harry turned his face away and buried it in his pillow, a keen sense of betrayal stung within, though he knew it should not – he should not have become close enough to be affected.
He heard Glorfindel sigh heavily at his slight. Harry felt the bed dip as Glorfindel sat gingerly on the edge of his bed, "Lady Galadriel has a tendency to meddle where she should not meddle. She should have respected your privacy more, but she did not intend any harm upon you."
Glorfindel sighed again when Harry showed no sign of acknowledging his words. "You have the consolation that she has paid for her curiosity," Glorfindel tried again, and out of the corner of Harry's eye he saw Glorfindel lean back against the wall and had to grudgingly admit that his curiosity was roused by that statement, "You forced her out of your mind rather violently and she now has a rather nasty burn upon her left wrist." That tugged a wry smile out Harry and Glorfindel looked pleased. He continued speaking, "You also missed the entrance of Thranduil and his people, so you no longer need to concern yourself about that greeting!"
They sat unspeaking for some time. Slowly Harry felt his headache ebbing away. He felt dazed and strangely empty still; but somehow better now he knew that someone knew all his secrets, he would not have to hide from them anymore. Soon, he would know their reactions to what he was and what he could do.
Abruptly, Glorfindel stood up and brushed himself off. "If you will come, the council will begin momentarily." As if on cue, a single clear bell rang out.
Harry lingered briefly before he followed Glorfindel somewhat reluctantly.
When Harry entered the porch where the Council was to be held, he flinched as if from a physical blow as many eyes landed upon him and a sudden silence descended.
He swallowed hard and tried valiantly to avoid looking at anyone. He sat quickly beside Glorfindel and Elrohir ignoring the quiet murmurs of the elves in favour of the melodic bubbling waters of the river-bed that was situated close to the balcony.
The elves looked like they had been talking for a long time before he had arrived and when Elrond stood, Harry felt his stomach lurch with nerves. Seeing that everyone else had risen, Harry quickly scrambled out of his seat, almost knocking the chair over in his haste. He glanced out of the corner of his eye at Elrond for reassurance. He received a sombre smile, neither friendly, unfriendly, nor reassuring. He stood uncomfortably behind his high backed chair, waiting, hoping that nobody would notice that he was shaking like a leaf.
"Welcome my friends," Elrond began, his voice clear and confident. He looked at Harry and beckoned. Harry wanted to shake his head and walk away, but with a slight nudge from Elrohir he walked forward and stood beside Elrond, suddenly all too aware of the shocking height difference. "This is Caladel," Elrond paused abruptly as if he wanted to say something more, but didn't know quite what to say; instead he left the sentence rather blunt and unfinished. Elrond began introducing all the other elves around the table, who all seemed to already know one another. They nodded as their names were spoken but said nothing.
Harry tried to remember who everyone was but there were so many of them - all of whom had such unusual names it made them particularly difficult to remember and it became a nigh impossible task for him. He found himself forgetting them almost immediately.
At last, the introductions were finished and they were allowed to be seated once again, but Elrond remained standing.
"We have been discussing many things today, many dark and troubling and it is pleasant to turn our thoughts to some excellent news. Here is one who has been gifted to us by the Valar, perhaps the last of all elflings."
There was a murmur that rippled around all the chairs agaim. Harry sank back into seat as far as he could to avoid all the eager eyes.
"Why is it that we have not heard of this before now? Surely we should have been informed of this? Yet you say that none of the realms knew anything?" A very royal-looking elf asked. He wore a long silken green robe, with rich silver jewellery twining up his arms in delicate patterns. His silver hair flowed down his back like satin and upon it sat a simple silver circlet with a leaf in the centre.
There was a moment of complete silence, until Galadriel spoke gravely, "He was brought up in a far away place. His grandfather placed his sire there to protect him from… harsher times." Harry sat up straighter in his chair and became interested, this was something he did not know, had Galadriel known his grandfather?
The same man who had asked the previous question frowned slightly, "So why did he come to us now?"
Galadriel slowly turned her head to him, "The place where he lived became harsher than here. I am not of the liberty to give a fuller answer than that. Caladel will have to answer further if he wishes to."
There was another silence. This time it was expectant. Harry gulped audibly, but remained silent as he did not know quite what to say.
"Caladel," Elrohir said softly from his left, "Could you tell us a little about your upbringing? I understand this might be painful, but we would all appreciate it and we will not turn against you for anything you say."
Harry clenched his hands together to stop them from shaking and planted them firmly in his lap. Casting his eyes downwards at the patterned floor, he nodded and began speaking, stumbling as he didn't know what to say. He felt foolish and out-of-place as he began his speech.
"I'm Caladel as you already know. When I was a baby I lived with my mother and father. I can't remember them as they were killed when I was one. I was sent to my…" Harry hesitated, not sure what to call the Dursleys, "…other family, I suppose. They didn't really like me very much." Harry almost laughed - that had to be the understatement of the millennium - loathed the fact that he existed was a more accurate way of describing the Dursleys' feelings for him. "Erm… a while later I was rescued in a way..." Harry glanced up through his hair at the assembled elves to see that they were hanging on his every word. He wondered how much information he should give them. "I was sent away to a school, but I still had to go back to my family every summer.
"In my fourth year, the person that killed my parents came back and he has been trying to kill me ever since." There, Harry thought, that's enough information to satisfy them for now.
Under the elves gentle questioning, Harry found himself telling them what little he knew of his parents and talked a little of his time at the Dursleys – though what he did say was like pulling teeth - how he had been sent there for protection, cleverly avoiding the beatings he had received and also avoiding saying anything further about Voldemort and the war.
The elves all listened intently; their faces darkening when they caught a hint of a neglect or abuse, Harry realised that they were all experts at picking up on slightest of hesitations, or changes in his tone. It scared him slightly how well they interpreted what he was not saying rather than what he was.
"How old are you Caladel?" Celeborn asked gently.
Harry hesitated – these elves liked him because he was a child, would they stop caring for him when they found out he was seventeen and legally an adult in wizarding terms? He took a deep breath and braced himself. "I was seventeen this summer." He answered slowly.
He heard sharp intakes of breath from all around him and dropped his head, squaring his shoulders slightly.
"So young!" He heard an elf whisper, though he was not sure who. It took a moment for him to comprehend the words and once he had done, his head snapped up in surprise. That was not what he had expected to hear!
Elrond must have noticed his look of incomprehension and spoke quietly, in a voice made for his ears only. "I thought you were at least twenty one - certainly no younger."
Harry's eyebrows knitted together for a moment, how could they think he was twenty one? He was half their size for starters, his still looked very young, he knew nothing of what they knew and still they thought of him as an adult? Maybe he was a dwarf?
Glorfindel sat silently in his chair, his mind was still reeling from the information the elfling had given them. Seventeen! And he had gone through all of those things?! It befuddled the mind.
He seemed so much older than that: in the way that he spoke; the way he held himself; the way he acted and the way that he was. Only Galadriel seemed unsurprised, which in itself was unsurprising.
"We must decide what is best for Caladel's future," she said quietly, "Whether he was twenty or not, he remains an elfling and therefore under the care of all the elves, let his age not detract us from the purpose of this council. He needs someone who will look after him, come what may; love him unconditionally; protect him and provide for him; teach him, guide him and never harm him. But most of all to teach him what it is like to be in a family," Galadriel's intense eyes tracked around the assembled elves and the question, 'can any of you do this?' remained unspoken.
Glorfindel looked around the circle of elves himself and noted that all the elves had an affirmative answer to that question written on their faces. He wondered if they wanted to look after Harry for selfish reasons, if they did, he couldn't blame them – it was lovely to have an elfling in Rivendell again after all these years. He felt Elladan stir beside him and dreaded what he was going to say.
"I will take him," Elladan said confidently, "I request permission that Elrohir and I be allowed to adopt him." A wave of whispers rippled around the circle again.
Elrond shook his head, "No my son, this is not the time for the two of you to become fathers."
Elladan looked straight at his father and replied, "I know that it is different, but I believe that Elrohir and I found Caladel for a reason,"
"Nay. I agree with Lord Elrond," Galadriel said firmly but gently, "It is not the time for you to become a father; you are still children to us and you are still healing from your recent loss. Now is not the time."
Elladan flicked his eyes over to Galadriel defiantly, but when he looked into her eyes, he visibly deflated and sat back into his chair without another word of protest.
Harry was beginning to feel like he was something that was being sold at a market where only the highest bidder would win, yet nobody could decide what the thing of most worth was.
The elves were busy discussing who the best person to adopt him was; he may as well have not been there. Even elves that he had never met before offered to adopt him. Only Glorfindel remained silent at his side, watching the proceedings through slightly bemused eyes catching Harry's eyes a few times, smiling and shaking his head ruefully. It seemed he could not believe the madness that had possessed the elves either.
"And what makes you think that you would be better for him than us? Is it because he was brought here first?"
"This is madness," Glorfindel said finally, "You are squabbling like children! Stop this selfishness immediately for you are not being fair to Caladel. Now, I believe that we have decided that Lord Elrond, King Thranduil or Haldir should adopt him. Yes? Torn between three realms," Glorfindel did not give them chance to respond before continuing, "I disagree. Not for any disrespect for either of you, but because your duties demand great amounts of you. Also, you both have young children already who need you."
"Can you take on such a responsibility Lord Glorfindel?" Lord Celeborn asked, sensing Glorfindel's mind, "You have many draining duties as it is, perhaps that makes you unsuitable too. You also have no family, so Caladel would never know the joy of being part of a large family. You also have never raised an elfling before and Caladel is more unique than most." Their argument had an air of repetitiveness as the same points had been raised earlier.
"Indeed, I understand that, yet he would still be part of Rivendell's community which offers him family. Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan and Erestor would all play a vital part in his upbringing so it would not solely be me. My heart tells me this is the right path to take and I must trust my heart."
"Remember that trust is a double-edged blade; it can invite foolishness," Lady Galadriel professed. "There are many paths that could be tread, none is right or wrong, merely different. They all have the potential to lead to a different outcome."
Elrond turned to Harry, "Caladel, what would you like?"
Harry was taken aback from being asked for his opinion and stuttered undecidedly for a moment.
He didn't really want to be adopted, it seemed traitorous to his real parents and he hardly knew these people. Of course they had shown him kindness, healed him and not harmed him - excepting Galadriel - but was that enough to become their son? He would prefer the chance to get to know them better. He still had no clues as to how they would react when they discovered the real him. By allowing himself to be adopted, it was giving them the opportunity to discover him, and he was devoting himself to a relationship he couldn't get out of.
Perhaps that was what he wanted though. A relationship that he was in for lifetime. It would offer a form of stability. He didn't want to be an orphan anymore either. This was his chance to stop being one, in a whole new world where everything was different.
He surprised himself by saying without hesitation, "I would like Glorfindel to adopt me."
Authors notes: I apologise profusely for how long it took me to get this chapter out! My silly computer kept playing up and school kept piling on work so I found it very difficult to find the time.
Huge thanks to XinnLajgin, Gilraen Lunair, Wolven Spirits, Dannys Girrrl, Darkest Melody, Laura-Shi, the-bunnys-echo, Yana5, shinigami66, Wild KS Phoenix, Silvermane1, Azraeos, aliasangel3, Spirit White, A Rainy Day, Lucy, insanechildfanfic, Gertrud-Eveline, Skuert, klnolan, I-Y-T-Y, Fire of the lioness, Padme4000, Lady Prince, yamiyugi23, methoslover, Night Fury, Jade Aislin, frozenwands, DoubleTime, litlittledragon, Falling Right Side-Up, Jeremiah Lewis, Psycodemoness, Golden Princess, Viper, lilyflower01, Youko's Befuddled Fox, dellacouer, strfire, dead feather, Keg369, Curalium Lacrimo, gatogirl1, gemlou137, Rose-Aislin, Utena-Puchiko-nyu, Sharem, Mr. E. Nigma, starz4evr, Jess S1, the 1 hp fan, Neko-hanyou05, FrozenDream, Von, The Lady Reaper of the Shadows, Mou'Ikka and to all my anon reviewers! I love you all! I'm sorry I didn't reply to you all, but as I said, I had no computer for a long time!
I hope you like this chapter and that you're not too disappointed with my decision about the adoption. And please please please review!