Title: Fighting Another War

Author: CrimsonSnowflake

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings belong to J.K Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien, all the copyrights associated with HP and LOTR belongs to them. Only the ideas contained within this story are the property of the author. No profit is being earned by the writer of this story.

A/N: Please read!

Wow, this is the end you guys, the very last chapter of Fighting Another War. I began the journey of writing this story when I, after having grown tired with just the regular Harry Potter genre, made my way into the world of crossovers. Consequently, I ended up looking at the HP/Lotr section and found myself to be horribly disappointed. While there were some good stories, most of them were too short for my liking and I decided that if you wanted something done, then you'd have to do it yourself. Thus an author was born inside me. And now, after three years, a round of re-writing and many times of frustration I can finally say that am done.

Also I know that I promised that there would be Mpreg, but I found that it wouldn't really fit in with the rest of the story and so I'm sorry to say that for the good of the story I broke my promise and decided to cut out the Mpreg part. Hopefully you won't be too disappointed.

If any of you have any questions I'd love to answer them, leave a review or send me a PM.

I'd also like to thank my beta. I love you Kapa, really I do, if it hadn't been for your help and the way you guided me through every single problem I encountered I'm afraid to say that I probably wouldn't have been able to stick with this and see it through to the end. So really thank you so much for that!

Chapter 39 :

The End Of A Journey

The ground was painted red, overflowing with blood and mangled bodies that kept piling up. The sky was a foreboding grey as the clouds grew darker and darker, threatening to let loose an onslaught of both rain and thunder. Screams echoed in the air, shattering the idyllic silence that usually reined the grounds of Hogwarts. Students, who usually were absorbed in studying, playing pranks and discussing their love lives, were now locked in a fierce and merciless battle of life and death. It was unfair, brutish and plain torture. It was hell.

Fierce brown eyes were narrowed in rage, full lips pulled back in an almost feral snarl and petit hands were tightly clutched around the solid wood of a wand. Her breath was coming in quick gasps, barely having the time to exhale what with all the ducking, jumping, spinning and sidestepping she had to perform. Not to mention all the retaliation. She had lost count of how many lives she had taken, how many death eaters she had severely injured and left to die. It truly was an ugly battle. Everything was allowed. No one cared what was done, so long as your attack did not hit your allies. The lone eyeball lying on the ground before her was sole evidence of this.

With graceful movements she moved on, sparing the eye one final glance as she passed it. It was only her newfound experience with such things that kept the bile from rising in her throat. The last year had been nothing but a blur of battles, missing Harry, hunting for and destroying horcruxes. It had all come to this, the last stand, the final battle which outcome would decide the fate of millions of people, both magical and muggle.

With a hissing breath she dropped to the muddied ground—barely avoiding a bright green spell sent her way—rolling a few times before just as easily pushing herself onto her feet. A menacing glare covered her face as she turned to face her attacker, and without further ado she immediately began fighting back. With practiced movements she waved her wand back and forth in various patterns, sending off spell after spell in a furious manner. She barely stopped to see if they hit their target, as to do so would most probably come at a high price: her life.

Brown eyes scanned her surroundings, landing on a long stick lying abandoned in the chaos of the fight. A quick flick of her wrist was all it took and all of a sudden Hermione was diving to get a hold of the now deadly sword. Confidently her fingers closed around the rough leather handle and immediately began swinging the lethal weapon in the air. The sharp clang of metal grinding against metal, and the strong vibrations that shook her arm alerted her of the large axe that she had barely kept from splitting her skull.

Her muscles screamed for reprieve as they stayed in their deadlock, pushing against each other, sizing each other up, deciding who was the strongest. Her gaze flickered from the point where their weapons were grinding against each other in order to get a proper look at exactly who it was that she was fighting. And so she found herself to be looking straight into the impossibly dark eyes of one Rabastan Lestrange.

"Such a joy it is, to see you here, Rabastan." She'd had several encounters with this man, always fighting him in some way, both physically and mentally. During the many fights that had taken place since Harry's disappearance they always seemed to find each other, seeking the other out. It had become a sort of game, always injuring each other, always playing a game of wits, but never robbing the other's life. No, whenever it came to that point they would always draw back, waiting in anticipation for their next battle, longing to see what new surprises the other would have in store.

Rabastan Lestrange had corrupted her. Waking emotions in her that she had never known herself to be capable of: hatred, bitterness, cruelty and worst of all lust. Forgotten was the innocent love she had once held for Ron, replaced by the horrible fascination she held for the man in front of her.

"Hermione," He grunted, dark eyes taking in her figure. "Lovely as ever I see."

"Of course, only the best is good enough for you, after all." She drawled, making sure to put even more force behind her sword.

A deep, wicked laughter suddenly reached their ears, and a rather familiar figure entered their line of vision. "Quit playing with your little pet, dear brother, and get on with business!"

A sneer transformed Hermione's face and she gave one final push against Rabastan before suddenly leaping back and sending a vicious cutting curse his way. It had always bothered her how the few Death Eaters who knew of their association considered her more of a pet than a worthy opponent, thinking her to be less than she truly was.

She hated being thought of as weak.

"Serious today, are we?" The man questioned, deflecting the curse with an effective shielding charm.

"Did you expect anything less?" Hermione questioned, tightening the grip she had on her sword before shifting into a crouch, muscles tense and ready to spring into action.

With the grace of an experienced dueller, Rabastan copied her movements, widening his stance and watching her every move with sharp eyes. The playfulness which they had previously behaved with seemed long gone now; the severity of the situation finally having become clear to them. Their game was over. There was no more flirting, no more chasing, no more sparing of lives. This was it. One of them would have to die, or at least beaten to the point where they could no longer fight. It was the final battle, after all. Everything would end and begin with it.

And Hermione was utterly terrified of what the outcome would be.

A high pitched screech wrenched the air apart, slamming so harshly into her ear drums that she cringed in pain. Her bloodied chest covered in scratches and mud, frantically rose and fell in time with her panting breaths. She was trembling, her body pushed to the limit, on the brink of exhaustion. They had been fighting for hours, pushing and pulling, dodging and attacking; locked in an everlasting battle between equals. Their many encounters had served to level the playfield. They had gotten used to each other, used to the other's method of fighting, enabling them to read each other. After the first hour it had become clear that they were at a deadlock.

Almost like a predator she moved into a squat, pointing her sword straight at her opponent, ready to take on any attack Rabastan might deliver. It seemed, however, that her opponent was occupied with something else, for instead of keeping his gaze on her—as it should be—he was looking at something to the side. Shock, disbelief covered his face. And, was that a hint of despair? Yes...yes it was.

Making sure to keep both her sword and wand levelled at her opponent, she turned ever so slightly, trying to catch sight of whatever it was that had Rabastan so affected. Her jaw dropped, brown eyes widened in shock and she couldn't keep from taking a faltering step back. There, right in the middle of the battlefield, stood Neville, face ashen and with an expression of disbelief. His entire torso was covered in blood, not his, but the one he'd just planted his sword in. The one and only: Lord Voldemort.

The ship rocked steadily, back and forth from side to side. It was easily manipulated by the gentle waves surrounding them. The wind blew strongly into large sails, pushing the rough fabric to its limit as they gradually moved forward. It wouldn't be long now. There was nothing more than a couple of hours. And then the only thing standing in his way would be a massive sea of orcs: easily handled. Not something he would've been too worried about had it not been for the fact that Harry was somewhere in that sea.

He knew perfectly well that his mate was more than capable of taking care of himself, no matter how questionable his methods in doing so were. Legolas could not, however, shake off the persistent and foreboding feeling that something bad was going to happen. It made him anxious, impatient and restless. His feet had left a permanent mark on the ship's deck from all his pacing. And he was quite certain that Aragorn and Gimli were becoming more and more unsettled by his obvious worry. Consequently, the whole ship was brimming with tension.

"You are worried." Aragorn came to stand beside him, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the railing before pulling out his beloved pipe. Wizened eyes gazed out at the shore slowly passing by while experienced hands began stuffing the long stemmed, wooden pipe.

Legolas drew a deep breath, licking his suddenly parched lips. His knuckles turned white as he tightened his grip on the railing, his mouth pressing into a thin line and his blue eyes narrowed as he confirmed. "I am worried."

"Gandalf is with him, protecting him." The man muttered as he lit fire to the tobacco in the pipe chamber, watching as the flame died down and embers began glowing. "Harry will be all right."

"There are some things," Legolas whispered, his gaze following the tendrils of smoke escaping the pipe chamber and playfully floating up into the sky, "that not even Gandalf can protect him from."

He grew restless again; his whole body trembling as he roughly pushed away from the railing and once more began pacing in an agitated manner. White teeth glinted in the air as they latched onto his lower lip, mercilessly abusing it. His breath came in short and rapid inhales. His eyes darted back and forth, unable to find something to settle on. The elf's entire frame mirrored the restlessness on the inside.

Finally he came to a halt, spinning around to stare straight at his quiet companion. "I knew from the very beginning that Harry is not from this world, how could he be when there is something so otherworldly about him? I've accepted this because it is a part of who Harry is, but ever since he parted from us in Lothlorien I have had this niggling suspicion that refuses to leave me no matter what I do."

Frustrated, the elf dragged a hand through his long, blond locks. "Even though I know Harry is mine to keep, I cannot help but to feel as if his world and everything in it will rob him from me."

"Nonsense!" Gimli's brusque voice suddenly cut into their conversation as the dwarf came marching up on deck. "As if the lad would ever allow such a thing!"

"But that's just it," blond brows furrowed as a frown covered Legolas' face. "What if he wants them to? It's his home for Valar's sake; Harry wanting to return is inevitable. What am I compared to that?"

And then Aragorn, still contentedly smoking his pipe, spoke up. "I think that you are underestimating Harry's love for you, Legolas. You should trust in him."

The ragged looking man's words were measured, carefully weighed before having been uttered. Calm grey eyes gazed at Legolas with such certainty that it was near impossible to doubt his words. Still, Legolas could not quite push away his worries. What could he offer that Harry didn't already have back in his world? What was he compared to the family that was no doubt waiting for him to return?

"It's easy then, isn't it?" Gimli commented, "All you have to do is find Harry and ask him. Simple."

"It's better than what you are doing right now." Aragorn pointed out when Legolas turned to him for his opinion. A cloud of smoke escaped the man's mouth as he spoke, his thin lips rough with dry and cracked skin. "It gives you something to focus on—other than Harry being in danger."

"You'll see my friend," Gimli added his two cents, "everything will turn out just fine."

His heart was breaking, shattering into thousands of pieces, devoured by an icy darkness that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. It was as if his very soul had been ripped out of him, as if the very ground he was standing on had been dragged out from under his feet, leaving him in a floating pool of naught. He wanted nothing more than to lie down, to lie down and waste away until he could finally join his Harry in death.

He couldn't see anything; his surroundings were nothing more than a blur. The world was a fickle, insignificant little thing compared to the one lying unmoving on the cold stone table before him. His life no longer held any meaning; everything that was good had vanished the moment Harry's soul had left his body.

"I..." Gandalf's voice came from his right, accompanied by the weight of a hand settling on his shoulder. "I am sorry, my friend. I never should have left him to fight on his own."

Blank blue eyes shifted to look at the old man with an uncomprehending glint, as if unable to grasp what the wizard had just uttered. The room grew silent as the elf turned back to his beloved mate. He stood unmoving, almost like an ancient statue. Like a hollow shell, a puppet whose strings had been cut.

"Perhaps you should sit down." Despite his words Aragorn made no move to guide the elf to a chair, instead he turned to join his friend in watching the body—Harry's body. Taking in the pale flesh, the closed eyes that would never open nor shine with life again and the way that chest refused to move, no matter how much Aragorn willed it to. Suddenly, he found himself struggling to keep his bearings, repeatedly swallowing in order to rid himself of the lump residing in his throat that had grown uncomfortably large. The burning in his eyes signalled that he was just moments away from crying. A thought suddenly struck him—almost like lightning struck a tree. Oh how much agony Legolas must be in. His own pain could be nothing compared to that of the elf.

Once again he found himself looking at his friend, growing more and more concerned by the lack of reaction on Legolas' part. It wasn't natural, wasn't healthy that from the moment Legolas had heard of Harry's death he had expressed nothing. No pain, no sorrow, not even anger. Aragorn had never witnessed an elf's fading, but from the stories Lord Elrond had told him as a child he was absolutely certain that this was not how it happened. He knew that it was usually something...more, something more desperate, agonized. And for Legolas, who had always been so in touch with his feelings, to not even show a sliver of emotion was not normal; not at all.

"We should bring him somewhere else." Aragorn murmured, sharing a concerned look with Gandalf. "Give him some time to process things."

Without a word Gandalf moved forward, grabbing a hold of the blanket keeping Harry modest and gently moved it to cover the rest of his body. Having done this he turned and, with the help of Aragorn, began guiding the elf out of the room. Step by step they neared the door, Legolas growing tenser as they did so. And by the time they had set foot out in the hallway, the elf was near frantic in his need to return to Harry. With a loud reverberating growl, he tore himself out of Gandalf and Aragorn's arms and ran straight back to his mate's body. Swiftly, he ripped away the sheet covering Harry and buried his face in the crook of his throat, his entire frame sagging with relief as he inhaled Harry's magnificent scent.

It was perfectly clear: Legolas was not to be removed from his mate.

And so minutes turned into hours, hours into days and not a single sign of Harry awakening was seen. Steadily their hope dwindled, and the only thing keeping them from giving their friend a proper burial was the elf that reacted violently each time they tried to move Harry from his sight, and Gandalf who kept insisting that something would happen if they only believed in Harry.

They were at a standstill, frozen without any means of escape. It was as if time itself was working against them, doing its very best to keep them from moving forward. And then, exactly one week after Harry had died, everything changed.

He woke up.

"I love you." Harry whispered immediately shooting up into a sitting position, ignoring the way his barely healed wounds stretched in protest and latched onto Legolas in a crushing embrace, burying his face in the softness of the elf's hair.

"I love you," he repeated the words until they became a mantra, flowing across his tongue and lips without pause. Green eyes turned blank with tears, his nostrils flaring as he desperately inhaled Legolas' scent. Years, it felt as if it had been years since he had last seen him.

He gained no response.

A bit put out he leaned back and cupping Legolas' jaw drew careful circles with his thumbs, as if trying to imprint the feel of him, confirming that he was truly there before him. Attentive green eyes flitted back and forth, hungrily taking in every single detail, from the firm muscles clenching and unclenching in Legolas' chin to the play of colour in his eyes. And still he was not gifted with any reaction.

A shaky whisper escaped him, "Legolas?"

"He has been like this for days now. I'm afraid he did not take the news of your death particularly well." A figure moved in the far corner of the room, shifting as if to make itself more comfortable. "I believe he may need some time to recover."

"But he's alive." Harry stated, as if to reinforce that idea. "He's alive..."

"Yes, he is." Gandalf rose from his seat, calmly making his way over to the younger wizard. A gentle smile dominated the old man's features, as he grabbed a hold of Harry's shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze, silently urging him to lie back down. "Did you succeed? Did you manage to do whatever it was that you needed to?"

"Of course," Harry replied, refusing to budge from his position, "would I be here otherwise?"

"No, I suppose you would not."

Harry shifted, an expression of discomfort flitting across his face as he tried—with no luck—to worm his way out from under Legolas' upper body. He was beginning to lose the feeling in his legs and at the same time a pressing matter had suddenly made itself known, literally. He had to pee.

With a lot of squirming, tugging, hisses of pain and after many attempts, Harry finally managed to move away from Legolas, making sure the elf's torso was securely placed on the cold surface of the stone table. Drawing a deep breath, Harry moved so he was sitting with his feet firmly planted on the ground, while at the same time clutching at his stomach—as if that would keep his wounds from hurting. He took his time, repeatedly curling his toes while trying to get some feeling back in his limbs. Carefully, he rose to his feet, making sure to keep a tight grip on the table to support himself.

His muscles were trembling with the effort it took for him to keep himself upright—a simple manoeuvre being more exerting than it should be. He steeled himself, building up the guts to finally move his foot and taking a step—albeit a small one—forward. His strength failed him, gravity came into the picture and with a sharp gasp and a cry of pain Harry fell to the floor.

One week of simply lying there and doing nothing, had not done anything good for his body, it seemed.

"C-could you help me to the bathroom, please?" Harry winced, feeling his cheeks filling with blood at the embarrassment of needing assistance to do something so simple as to relieve himself.

A concerned looking Gandalf crouched so they were on the same level, reaching out to grab a hold of Harry's arms. "You should have asked me to begin with. You are not invincible, Harry, you still have the same wounds you had when you died."

With strength his looks belied Gandalf lifted Harry up onto his feet, wrapping an arm around the younger wizard's waist while at the same time throwing Harry's left arm up and over his broad shoulders, willingly taking on Harry's weight. Slowly, they moved towards the exit, stopping now and then to allow Harry some respite from the pain that accompanied their every move.

"Is it all right to leave him here? What if he wakes up?" Harry questioned when they'd finally reached the door, glancing back in Legolas' direction.

"He'll be fine. I'm sure we can make it back before he wakes up. Don't worry." Tightening his grip on Harry, Gandalf gently led him out into the hallway, using his foot to close the door behind them.

The resulting slam echoed through the empty hallway.

A sigh of relief escaped him as he exited the bathroom and gently closed the door behind him, having finally relieved himself. A pair of strong hands immediately settled on his shoulders, gently guiding him back in the direction from which they came. The strain of moving was finally taking its toll, wearing him down to the point of him stumbling with each step he took.

"Easy, Harry." Gandalf murmured, putting a light pressure on his right shoulder in order to slow him down. "There's no need to hurry. Legolas won't be disappearing off without you there."

"Gandalf!" A panicked voice suddenly rang through the air, followed by a frantic Hobbit running in their direction. "Gandalf! They're gone! Legolas has run off with Harry!"

"Legolas is gone?" Gandalf murmured, ignoring Pippin's round eyes and sudden lack of breathing as the little man caught sight of a living Harry. "Are you certain, Pippin?"

"Pippin!" Harry was frozen, his green eyes frantically darting back and forth between Gandalf and Pippin. His muscles were tense, ready to jump into action the very moment Pippin confirmed what had already been voiced. Legolas was gone.

A slight, hesitant nod was his cue.

His hair flew about his head in an unruly mass of curls, swishing from side to side with his every movement. Grimaces flitted across his face at a rapid pace, his breathing hitched and irregular. Every step he took was pure agony, a horrible throbbing pain shooting through him as he sprinted through the hallway. And yet, no matter how much pain he was in it paled in comparison to the prospect of never seeing Legolas again.

With this in mind he quickened his step, ignoring Gandalf shouting for him to slow down. His bare feet barely made a sound as they skidded across the cold stone floor. He was drenched in blood, and by the time he finally reached his destination, the red liquid was running down his stomach in heavy streams. Feebly, he pushed at the door, his pale face losing even more colour at the sight that greeted him. The room was empty.

A weak whimper escaped him, his whole body turning heavy as he fell to the hard floor with a muted thud. Black dots tainted his vision as it became harder and harder to breathe. Blood had begun pooling around his body, a small pond of thick, hot, crimson liquid. . Trembling he fell to lean against the rough wood that made up the door, closing his eyes for a short moment.

That was all it took. The simple action of closing and opening his eyes was all it took for the tears to start running. Choked sobs rocked through his body, merciless and unstoppable. A trembling hand reached up to clutch at a vulnerable throat, clawing at it, his nails leaving behind red scratches.

"Harry...?" A hesitant voice sounded from behind him, barely registering in the chaos that was his mind.

A couple of minutes passed in silence with Harry slumped on the floor, uttering no sound—with the exception of the occasional whimper and sob that managed to worm its way around the fist he had taken to biting on. Strong hands reached down to grab a hold of his shoulders, gently lifting him to his feet while at the same time being extraordinarily careful not to open his wounds even further. Slowly Harry was guided further into the room and carefully placed on a couch located only a few feet away from the table he had been lying on for the past week.

"You shouldn't be up and moving." The 'You shouldn't even be alive' went unsaid. Aragorn moved into a crouch, cradling Harry's left cheek in his warm hand, his thumb caressing in slow circles as if to make sure that Harry truly was warm and breathing. That he was alive.

"Harry?" Aragorn whispered, leaning back to rest on the balls of his feet, attentively taking in everything about his friend. A few seconds passed before grey eyes widened in shock as he finally caught sight of all the blood covering the young wizard.

"Lie down for me." The rugged looking man ordered, gently pushing on Harry's shoulder. It concerned him how little protest the young wizard made. Aragorn had gotten used to how Harry acted when it came to treating his injuries—usually preferring to ignore them and act as if he had never gotten them rather than admitting it and asking for help. Something—other than him dying—must have happened for Harry to be so complacent.

"I don't know how you managed to sneak by Legolas, Harry, but this was incredibly foolish of you, opening your wounds like this. Where is Legolas, by the way?" Calloused hands gently smeared on some sort of green salve to his wounds, making sure to thoroughly cover them before Aragorn rose to his feet in search of some new bandages.

Unaware of how Harry's face twisted into a grimace at the mention of Legolas, Aragorn continued. "Now that I think about it, it is rather odd that he'd allow you out of his sight now when you've finally woken."

"He didn't." Harry whispered, barely audible. "He was asleep."

"I see." Aragorn spun around, two rolls of bandages clutched in his hands as he made his way back to Harry's side. "He must've been thrilled to wake up and discover that you were gone. And where was Gandalf? I was under the impression that he was watching over you both."

It became clear to Harry then that Aragorn was in no way pleased. In fact, he sounded quite agitated as he began wrapping Harry's torso with the clean bandages. Though, whether it was with him or if it was Gandalf the man was so irritated by, he didn't know. It was difficult to say really.

"There, that should do it." The man muttered as he rose to his feet, taking one final glance at the now covered wounds to make sure that the bandages were properly fastened before turning and dragging the chair Legolas had practically been living in over to the couch. "Now, would you care to tell me why you're alive when mere hours from now you were so obviously dead?"

Once again silence was the only response.

Blank green eyes stared unseeingly into the air as Harry sat stock still, having retreated into his own mind, leaving his body an empty shell. He doubted himself, doubting his decision to stay and, in turn, abandoning his friends and family. Guilt was eating at him, both for Legolas and for the world and people he had chosen to leave. Cowardly, that's what he was, he concluded. A complete and utter coward for having so selfishly decided to stay with his mate instead of going back to finish what was his to finish. By destroying the horcrux within him and choosing to stay in Middle-Earth Harry had painted half the fence and left the rest of it for someone else to complete.

Had he not, ever since he had arrived in Middle-Earth, strived to find a way back home? Had he not done everything in his power to fulfil his wish of seeing Ron and Hermione again? How was it that he had given it all up so easily and with no thought of the repercussions it would bring?

His answer came in the form of a door being violently slammed open.

A loud bang—loud enough to startle him out of the trance he found himself to be in—echoed off the walls, making way for a new array of noises, or more specifically voices. Soft, beckoning voices; the kind of voices used when dealing with a dangerous creature. Frantic shuffling of feet suddenly mixed with the voices, growing in volume until three—no five—figures clumsily stumbled into the room. The fellowship—minus three—was once again gathered together.

"Careful!" Gimli warned in a gruff voice as he cast a worried look at the ones behind him, or more specifically at Gandalf and the one he was supporting.

Harry's breath caught, his eyes drinking in the sight before him like a ravenous man would a glorious feast. Legolas had seen better days, that was for sure. His blond hair was tangled and had a slight sheen of grease to it, as if the elf hadn't washed it for a while. Dark circles put years on his face, making it seem as if he was an elf who had lived for thousands of years, an elf that was slowly but surely moving closer to the brink of death. And yet, despite all of this, Harry was so happy and relieved at seeing him that Legolas had never been more handsome in his eyes.

He wanted to speak, desperately trying to force his voice into working, but all that came out was a pathetic little whimper. It did the trick though. Because the moment it escaped him Legolas immediately took notice of him.

Time seemed to stand still as their eyes met, green clashing with blue. Harry jerked forward into a sitting position, hissing as his body protested his movements. Ignoring Aragorn's restraining hand he reached out to his elf, a pleading look in his eyes as his arm trembled with effort. For one painstaking minute nothing happened. And just as Harry was about to give up and lower his arm in defeat, Legolas reacted.

A rush of air was his only warning before he found himself bundled up in Legolas' embrace. The elf's arms restraining him in a possessive grip, immediately spinning around so his back kept Harry from the others' view.

"Is it you?" A shuddering breath left the elf, sending shivers down Harry's spine as it brushed against a patch behind his right ear. "Is it truly you?"

"Yes." Harry whispered, reaching up to cup Legolas' cheek as if attempting to provide him with some proof that, yes it really was him. Weakly, he caressed the flawless skin with his thumb, rubbing in soft circles.

"I'm sorry," He began when it became obvious that no answer would be forthcoming, "I'm sorry for putting you through so much, for always disappearing when we've finally resolved our problems. It's downright cruel and vicious of me, taking several steps back when I have promised to take one forward. I'm sorry for dying, for scaring you so."

"Why?" Legolas' voice was hoarse from disuse and a sliver of accusation lingered behind the elf's eyes. "Give me a reason, anything that can explain the continuous hell I've been through these last few weeks."

"I..." Harry hesitated for a second, not sure if the words about to leave his mouth were the right ones. And a sigh escaped the confines of his mouth as he came to the conclusion that the time had come, he would have to be honest and tell Legolas the truth. For if he did not he feared that nothing could redeem him in Legolas' eyes. It was apparent; the elf had been pushed to the limit.

It was time to come clean and inform them of the plan that had ruled his actions for the last couple of weeks.

And so with a deep breath Harry began. "At the beginning of my stay here all I could think of was finding a way back home. My only reason for joining you on this quest was so that I could accomplish that. Everything changed though, what with me being your mate. All of a sudden I had to take you into consideration and everything turned complicated from there on. And then I didn't know what to do because there were you, and then there were my friends and family and either way I had to choose one or the other."

"Then we split up. I met Alantar and finally got the answers I was seeking, which in turn led to this. I've known for quite some time now that my stay in this world would—no matter what I did to prevent it—end up with my death." He lay back then, giving in to his screaming muscles and ignoring the way Legolas shifted as if readying himself to prevent any attempt of escape on Harry's part.

He continued, doing his best to find a comfortable position—one that wouldn't send a jolt of pain through his body every time he drew a breath. "Where I come from we have something called horcrux, it's very dark magic that involves tearing ones soul apart and storing those pieces in various inanimate objects—a sort of half-assed attempt at gaining immortality. Voldemort—the dark lord who killed my parents—had in total seven Horcruxes. Seven pieces of a soul that had to be destroyed before Voldemort could die. I was one of these. Thus, I had to die."

A tense silence filled the air for a moment, grim faces surrounding him on all edges. Until suddenly a voice piped up, "I don't get it. You say you had to die, but you're still here."

Pippin, as always, voiced what everyone thought, but did not dare to say.

"I did die—or rather Voldemort's soul died. You could say that I—for a moment—had one foot in the grave and the other in life."

"But you're here to stay, right?" Merry joined in, his large eyes staring at him in a hopeful manner. "You're not suddenly going to disappear on us again, are you?"

For a long moment nothing happened. No sound was uttered, no movement was made—everything was quiet in anticipation of Harry's answer. And then the young wizard shifted, his green eyes moving to take in all those that surrounded him.

"No," Harry finally replied, pointedly gazing at Legolas as a smile spread across his face. "I'm here to stay. For good."

The End