Shadow of a Doubt

Chapter Twenty-four: Chrysalis

by Capella

A/N: Erlack a pongoes, you guys....I can't believe I could ever finish this. :) It's the last chapter...*lip quivers*

I'm feeling all sentimental. I didn't want this story to end at all, which is probably why I tried to drag this chapter out. However -- I already have an idea for the sequal, which will involve Draco and Katherine, who I haven't really covered yet. Should be cool. ^_^

Sorry it took so freaking long -- I agonized for days about whether Legolas should be sent to Hogwarts or if Harry should somehow go to Middle-earth for weeks. This is what I came up with, so I hope you like it.

MJ -- Uh, I didn't understand your review, exactly. I didn't exactly understand what you had a beef with -- I explained why everything happened, so if you don't get it, I suggest you reread it. And I write in third person limited -- which means I only tell what goes inside

Can't think of anything else to say that wouldn't sound seriously corny at this point. So thanks a million for all your support/beautiful-review love, hope you stick around with me :)

P.S. Twilight -- it was not an April Fool's Joke. Worked way too hard on that damn chapter for it to be a joke. Plus, that would be really, really mean. I'm not *that* mean, you know. ^_~

And here it is, chapter Twenty-four of Shadow of a Doubt: Chrysalis.

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"...nothing's so sacred as honor and nothing's so loyal as love."

- Headstone of Wyatt Earp

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

-Alexander Graham Bell

____________________________

"Harry, you really need to get your mind off it."

Harry ignored the soft voice that interrupted his thoughts as easily as he did the wind blowing his hair across his face. He stared blankly at the Quidditch hoops from where he sat on the bleachers. The hand that touched his arm gently made him flinch a little.

"I mean it, Harry. This isn't healthy. Look, Professor McGonagall asked you last week if you wanted to help teach DADA with Professor Lupin." Hermione didn't mention that it was obviously to try and keep Harry's mind occupied. "Those second years are complete idiots," she continued, voice light. "I bet you just being there would make them straighten right up."

Is that really what you wanted to say? Harry wondered, but kept silent. He picked at the hem of his jeans, waiting for Hermione to say something to break the silence between them. She stared out onto the Quidditch field, quiet, obviously thinking.

"It wasn't Death Eaters, was it." It was not a question. Harry turned and stared at her in amazement, but she kept her gaze firmly fixed on the bright green grass. "Ron said he's seen you sometimes, when you think he's asleep. He says the way that you look at those scars -- how you trace them, sometimes, glance at them with this...this strange look in your eyes --" She jumped when Harry interrupted her.

"They mean nothing to me!" he said, more harsh than he intended. He made an effort to control his voice and continued. "He shouldn't have told you that." Hermione said nothing for a few minutes, but when she continued, her voice was steady.

"Harry, I don't know what happened to you. I heard the story you told the professors and the Headmaster, but I don't believe it. And I don't think this is the time to pry the truth out of you. I'm going to go help Professor Lupin with DADA. Think about coming, Harry." Hermione stood up, placed a gentle kiss on Harry's forehead, and left him to his thoughts.

__________________________

"I'm sure you have heard the other years talking about these particular creatures. There's a simple spell to counter -- oh, Harry! I'm glad you could make it. Class, Mr. Potter has decided to help with this lesson today."

Hermione looked up from the notes she was copying on the board for the professor and saw Harry standing at the door, smiling awkwardly. She glanced around the entranced class and knew that Harry was aware of all the stares on his scar and the vivid red whip lash that crept above the neckline of his shirt. He looked at her for a moment, and she winked.

"I'm sure Hermione told you of the lesson plan for today, Harry."

Hermione winced. She had been so busy with her Arithmancy homework that she'd completely forgotten to tell Harry. But then again, with the lesson the second years were studying, she figured that Harry would have no problem.

Lupin smiled warmly and turned back to the rest of his class. "Since we are studying boggarts today, you will all get a chance to see Harry's magnificent Expecto Patronum. Now, can anyone tell me the spell to defeat the boggart? Miss Thatcher?"

Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione saw Harry start violently at the name.

"Riddikulus," the girl said in a high voice with an obvious Irish accent. She grinned, showing a rather large gap in between her front teeth, when Lupin nodded. Hermione wondered what had startled Harry so badly.

"Five points to Ravenclaw. So," he said with a decidedly wolf-like smile, "who wants to go first? Hermione? Harry?"

Harry, who had been so caught up in staring at the young Irish girl, jumped when Lupin mentioned his name. "I'll go, Professor," Harry said, and Hermione noticed a tired note to his voice. He pulled out his wand.

Lupin walked to the doors. "Ready, Harry?"

"Ready."

Lupin pulled open the door and a cloud of dirty gray smoke came out of the closet. Hermione's eyes widened as she saw the figure that emerged from the soot. It was in no way what she had expected.

"How wonderful to see you again, sweet."

"Professor Lupin, I don't think that's a dementor..." Hermione whispered through her teeth, but as she was automatically reaching for her wand, the figure looked in her direction and she was somehow pinned by glittering black eyes. Full lips turned up in smirk, the figure turned its attention back on to Harry.

Hermione saw Harry's wand drop of out his hand, and as she shifted her focus to his eyes, she saw that he was staring at the strange cloaked form in horror. She saw his lips move to whisper a spell, but no words came out, and it seemed all he could do was watch as the beautiful figure, hair raven-black and dark eyes glinting, advanced on him, tapping a whip against a black-clad thigh.

"Legolas?" Harry choked out. Hermione frowned, trying to place the unfamiliar name, but suddenly she saw the pointed ears. Her gasp was lost in Legolas's reply.

"Come on, Harry," the elf -- Legolas -- said as he prowled closer, smiling cruelly, eyes roving over Harry's terrified expression. Harry's chest was heaving as his breathing sped up. "Forgotten me already?"

"No, I -- I don't --" Harry stuttered, face a strange mixture of anger, fear, and some wholly different emotion that looked almost like a twisted sort of love. Hermione blinked in confusion.

"I see you will keep me with you always," Legolas said smoothly, reaching out a finger to trace the scar visible above Harry's shirt. As Legolas's hand hovered above Harry's skin, Hermione knew suddenly with a growing sense of terror that if that creature touched him, Harry would die.

Even as Hermione opened her mouth to shout a warning, Harry snapped out of his daze and took a step back, and then another until his back hit the wall. "Bastard," he hissed. His eyes were a more liquid green than she'd ever seen them.

Lupin finally broke the fog that seemed to be engulfing the room, and he jumped in front of Harry, diverting the boggart. "Riddikulus!"

The last of Harry's strength seemed to disappear with the boggart. His legs gave out, and he slid slowly down the wall, knees pulled to his chest and arms wrapped around his legs. He rested his head on his knees.

"Get out," he said.

The second years looked uncertainly at Lupin, who was staring at Harry.

Suddenly everything not bolted to the floor shattered, the desks flying apart in tiny splinters of wood, the windows exploding into glittering slivers that caught the light.

"Please."

Lupin silently herded the bewildered second years out of the classroom, all of whom seemed to be alternately trying to get a peek at Harry and whispering to their friends. Hermione walked up to the hunched over form and gently touched him on the shoulder. She heard him snarl right before he knocked her hand away and glared up at her, clutching a strange glass orb tightly in his hand. She hadn't even seen him get it out of his robes. His eyes were bloodshot and shiny with tears -- but the same emotion she'd seen moments earlier still shone there.

Hermione stood up and slowly backed out of the room, keeping her eyes on his until the door was closed. But as soon as the door clicked into place, she heard a scream from the room that nearly shook the walls. Her hand hesitated over the doorknob for a moment before she lowered it to her side and sighed. She slowly trudged up to the Gryffindor common room, and as she walked down the hallway she couldn't help but wonder if she had only imagined the happiness in Harry's eyes.

Then, as she neared the Fat Lady, she heard a voice call her name.

___________________________

Harry felt a shard of glass crunch under his foot as he stood, but the noise was lost to him. The glass ball swirling with smoke was what had grasped his attention and held it; he stood, stroking it lightly and feeling strangely warmed metal underneath his fingers. He walked towards the door, avoiding the larger pieces of desks and chairs and window panes.

A curious sort of peace had come over him, along with a sense of determination. He'd made one mistake by leaving Middle-earth, but he would not make another by staying at Hogwarts.

That, however, would obviously not be as simple as it sounded.

The only link that remained to Middle-earth was the glass ball that Manwe had given him. It was strange that it had not broken as the other one had that had taken him to Middle-earth in the first place.

Suddenly, Harry stopped in his tracks.

I believe the Valar have correspondence with someone in your world.

Harry started running towards Gryffindor Tower.

_____________________________

"Hermione! Hermione, wait!"

She spun around and watched with a suprise as Harry sprinted up the stairs to her, panting and out of breath, as Hermione was half in, half out of the portrait hole. "I have to talk to you, Hermione. Please. It's about -- it's about Legolas. "

Still a little suprised, she nodded, taking in Harry's flushed appearance but choosing not to comment on it. She stepped in the rest of the way, motioning Harry to follow her, and headed over to the chairs by the fireplace. She sat. "Start from the beginning."

Harry took a deep breath and did.

Hermione listened with barely controlled amazement as Harry unfurled his incredible story. It was filled with stuttering halts and places where Harry stopped, unsure of himself. Time after time Hermione asked questions and made him go back to fill in some place in his story that he'd forgotten. For some reason, Gandalf and Saruman caught her attention especially. She was fascinated with the idea of an entity living inside of Harry and possessing him.

She frowned. He still hadn't explained the scars.

She had lost the thread of his tale while she thought, and she caught it again as he talked about following Legolas to Mordor. Suddenly something made her sit up.

"What?" she asked excitedly.

Harry paused. "I just said that I saw this gigantic spider who someone had stabbed," he said, staring at her. "Why?"

Her mind was whirling with possibilities. "Think, Harry. Where else have we seen a giant spider?"

"I don't kn -- you can't be thinking of Aragog?"

"Don't you remember what Aragog told you and Ron about where he had come from? From far away, in the pocket of a traveler! Don't you see?"

Harry stared at her in disbelief and then dawning realization. "Manwe told me that someone in this world had correspondence with the gods of that world," he said slowly. "But -- could Aragog really be --"

"Yes!" Hermione exclaimed. "We have to go talk to him!" She thought she saw relief in Harry's eyes and remembered his tale. "But first -- continue."

"But I -- " he started, and then his shoulders slumped in defeat. He sighed. "After I saw this spider, I heard voices, Orc voices, coming down the path. I hid and attacked them, but one of them cut me -- right here," he said, and pointed at a large scar running down his calf. "I passed out, and when I woke up, I was in a cell. An Orc came to get me, to bring me to Sauron. I told you about him already." Hermione nodded, and she saw his eyes get a little liquid with tears, a little distant with remembered, painful memories. "I was brought before him. He said he had a -- a present for me...Legolas. He'd been...he'd been turned." He stopped suddenly and bowed his head, looking at his hands.

"He raped you, didn't he?" Hermione said quietly.

Harry's head came up; his eyes got shielded and dead. It was obviously an avenue of conversation he had not meant to delve into. He opened his mouth to speak and closed it, fists clench to hide his obvious shaking. "It wasn't him," he said at last, softly.

Hermione remained silent, waiting for him to speak.

"It was the reason I left," he said after a few moments, almost inaudibly. "I hated him, but I hated that even though I loved him, I couldn't stand him touching me." Hermione reached out and took his hand, but she could tell he didn't register the contact. "Every time he came near me, all I could see was -- was him, standing above me with a whip, telling me it was okay to scream." His grip on her hand was suddenly tight.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," she said and smiled at him gently. He gave her a grateful smile in return. "Go on. I want to know how you got out of Mordor." She listened as he continued, voice soft, story full of halting pauses. Then he stopped completely.

"I don't know quite how to put the next part," he said with a rueful smile. "So I'll just put it blunt for you. I did some magic on this lieutenant, he got really angry and cut my throat -- right here," he said, drawing a line across his neck. "And, well, I -- died."

Hermione's jaw dropped. "You're kidding," she said after a moment.

Harry shook his head. "No," he said. "Everything just went black, sort of. I don't remember anything and then suddenly, I was sitting up on this stone bier in the city of the gods."

Hermione tried to contain her incredulity until Harry finished with his return to Hogwarts. After he was done, he sat there silently, his hands folded together, staring through her with a faraway look in his eyes. "I want to go back," he confided softly. "I want to go back to him so badly. I dream about going back to Middle-earth and seeing him again, staying there with him. But then, I start to wonder -- if I found some way back, what if nothing changed and I still couldn't be near him? And then, if I stayed and everything went back to the way it was, what would happen when I died? He's immortal, Hermione, and I don't want him to die for me. I -- I dream about that, sometimes, too." His voice became tired and wistful. "So I don't sleep."

For the life of her, Hermione could not find the words to say. "Oh, Harry --"

He stood abruptly, cutting her off. "C'mon," he said, and smiled down at her. "Weren't you all excited about going to talk to Aragog?"

"I suppose I was," she whispered, and stood. She cleared her throat and offered him a smile in return. "We don't really need to actually go talk to Aragog. We just need to find out who Hagrid got Aragog's egg from. Let's go."

Without another word, Hermione walked towards the portrait hole, hearing Harry's footsteps hurry behind her to catch up. Her thoughts were whirling, and with a feeling of guilt she realized that she was thinking about lying to Harry to keep him at Hogwarts.

They walked in silence out of the school and out to Hagrid's hut. The knock on the door was startlingly loud and shattered the awkward silence between the two. The door swung open.

"Harry!" Hagrid said with obvious suprise. "Hermione! Aren't you two supposed to be at yer classes?"

"We just have a quick question, Hagrid, and then we have to leave," Harry said. "Can you tell me who you got Aragog's egg from?"

Hagrid's face broke into a thoughtful smile. "Well, ya know, I was never really sure. Someone left it in my dorm room my firs' year and I raised it since then -- but ya know, I've always thought it was Dumbledore. That's how 'e knew it wasn't me who set that monster loose. Harry? Hermione? Where're you going?"

But they were already halfway back to the castle.

________________________

"I should have known it!" Hermione said, panting as she tried to keep up with Harry. He cast her an amused glance over his shoulder.

"How could you have?" he asked, and was rewarded with a ferocious glare. Despite the nervous churning of his stomach, he smiled into the wind -- some things, it seemed, would never change. He ran out of the courtyard and into the hall leading to Dumbledore's office, Hermione jogging close behind him and oblivious to the stares of the other students.

"Harry! Harry, wait!"

The voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Harry! What in the hell are you two doing?" Ron walked up to them, still in full Beater gear and holding his broomstick, red hair a mess from the wind. "Have you two gone completely mad?" he asked, a little out of breath. Harry's heart clenched in misery as he saw the soft look Ron gave him.

"No, we haven't, exactly," Hermione said, stalling, as she threw Ron a nervous glance. Ron paid her no attention, walking over to Harry and giving him a gentle kiss. Closing his eyes and ignoring the leather of Quidditch gloves as Ron cupped his cheek, it was easy to imagine someone else's lips on his own. He heard Hermione clear her throat. Harry flushed and moved away, trying to ignore Ron's hand resting on the small of his back.

"Yes, well, we were just going to see Dumbledore about -- about -- the classes I'm going to teach next year," Hermione stuttered, a faint blush on her cheeks. "Since, you know, I'm going to be helping out as a teacher."

Ron gave her a grin. "I know, Hermione. Well, Quidditch practice just ended and I've got nothing to do. Maybe I'll just come along with you." He missed the panicked expression that came over Harry's face. He mouthed 'no' to Hermione over Ron's shoulder.

"I don't know, Ron, Dumbledore didn't exactly say I could invite anyone else along."

Ron laughed. "Oh, come off it, Hermione. He knows me well enough. Besides, it can't be that top-secret. See? I'm a Head Boy, I even know the password." He flashed his badge proudly.

Harry sighed in defeat. "The statue's right there, Ron. We might as well get this over with." Please, Dumbledore, be discreet, he prayed silently as they walked up to the statue.

"Sherbet Lemon!"

Harry blinked. "Wasn't that the password from second year?" he wondered out loud. Ron shrugged.

"Don't ask me. I've never been able to figure him out. Poncy old git won't even give the Head Boy his own dorm room."

Harry forced out a small laugh as they climbed the stairs to Dumbledore's office, acutely aware of Ron's presence behind him. He knocked on the door cautiously.

"Who is it?"

"It's Harry, sir."

The door suddenly swung open, and Dumbledore smiled at them from his desk.

"I was hoping you would show up soon, Harry. I have a visitor for you." There was a strange twinkle in his eyes.

"Hello, Harry."

Harry's heart stopped in his chest. He turned slowly around, feeling as though he was trapped in some sort of surreal dream, and faced the chair sitting behind him, that he hadn't even noticed in his rush to speak.

A pair of fathomless blue eyes stared back at him calmly.

"Legolas," he whispered, and dimly realized that his entire body was trembling. He watched through a strange haze as Legolas's lips moved as if to speak, and stopped. Harry wondered why, but then felt a possessive hand grasp his own.

"Who is this, Harry?" Ron asked slowly. Harry didn't answer and resisted the urge to pull his hand out of Ron's grip. Legolas's eyes never wavered from his face. There was a long moment of silence.

Suddenly Legolas smiled, and held out his hand. "Where are my manners?" he said, finally taking his unnerving blue gaze off of Harry. "I am Legolas, son of --" His lips twisted slightly. "I am Legolas Greenleaf," he finished smoothly. "Who are you, may I ask?"

Cautiously, Ron took Legolas's hand and shook it, relaxing a bit. "I'm Ron Weasley," he said. And then, letting go of Legolas's hand, added, "Harry's fiance." When this piece of news produced no visible effect in Legolas's cool demeanor, Ron smiled and relaxed fully. "How do you two know each other?"

For a moment there was a flash of some strange emotion as Legolas looked briefly at Harry before glancing back to Ron. "We became acquainted during his -- imprisonment."

Ron's hand suddenly tightened on Harry's own. "You don't mean to say that -- I mean, you did not cause --" Ron broke off suddenly.

Legolas's eyes became guarded and cold. "Explain to me what you mean," he said tightly.

"Forget it," Ron said hastily, shaking his head. "Forget it."

There was an awkward silence, in which Harry was only aware of the beating of his own heart and the steady gaze of Legolas as Harry kept his eyes on the floor. He finally raised them and was pinned immediately by the emotions churning in Legolas's stare. Finally Legolas broke the uneasy quiet. Without taking his eyes off of Harry's own, he spoke.

"I believe you and I have a problem, Ron Weasley."

"Excuse me?" Ron said uncertainly.

Legolas sighed, and then offered a slight smile which looked dangerously close to a grimace. "If I am not mistaken, we are both in love with the same man."

Ron's grip on Harry's hand became suddenly so bruisingly tight that Harry's couldn't help a tiny gasp. Ron ignored him in favor of both his rising temper and Legolas, who was looking at him coolly.

"You must be mistaken," he ground out, glaring at Legolas all the while and clutching Harry's hand in his own as if he wanted to crush it. Legolas met Ron's glare calmly.

"From your reaction I assume that Harry has not told you about the time he spent away from you."

"No, he did not." Ron finally let go of Harry's hand in favor of clenching his own into a fist by his side. In the face of Ron's anger and obvious betrayal, Harry felt a wave of guilt. A tear slipped down his cheek.

Legolas suddenly seemed to lose a bit of his confidence as he looked into Harry's tear-filled eyes. His suddenly lowered his own to the floor and took a deep breath. "Perhaps I should leave you two alone," he said softly.

Ron snarled at him, slipping a possessive arm around Harry's waist. "Perhaps so," he growled. Keeping his eyes glued to Legolas's, he placed a lingering kiss on the side of Harry's neck and then stared defiantly back at Legolas. Harry clenched his teeth as Legolas looked away.

"I'll wait outside," he murmured, walking out of the office without making a sound. Dumbledore and Hermione both cast worried looks at Ron and Harry, and filed out of the doors after Legolas.

An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. Finally Ron spoke, pulling away from Harry only to put both hands on Harry's shoulders, gripping them tightly. "Tell me what happened, Harry," he said in a tightly controlled voice. "Tell me the truth. It's -- it's the least I deserve, isn't it?"

So Harry did.

He omitted nothing -- he told everything, down to the last detail. Some of it was painful to tell, some of it he almost couldn't choke out, but he managed. And the entire time, Ron stood there with a blank expression on his face. It never wavered.

Harry finished, and braced himself for the flood of anger. It never came.

"Suppose you'd best get on with it then, Harry," Ron said, expressionless. When Harry looked at him askance, he continued. "It's obvious that you want to leave. So why are you even bothering to tell me at all?"

"Ron, I'm sorry --"

"Sorry?" Ron said softly. "Sorry." Harry wondered why the first sorry seemed a repeat of what Harry had said -- the last, an apology. Then suddenly he was sprawled on the floor, jaw aching fiercely and his head ringing. He lifted himself up onto his elbows from where he lay on his back, staring up at Ron incredulously. Ron glared back down at him, eyes an angry liquid blue. His shaking wand was pointed at Harry's face.

"Sorry!" Ron was taking huge breaths now, and as he breathed out, the air going through his clenched teeth made a curious sort of hissing noise. "You -- you should be sorry, God damn it!"

"Ron --" He honestly could not think of the words to say. All the eloquent speeches he had prepared had flown from his mind the instant Ron's fist had connected with his jaw and he had seen Ron's eyes staring down at him angrily.

"Weren't we happy, you bastard?" Ron yelled, and Harry looked nervously to the door. "Weren't we?" He grabbed the front of Harry's shirt in one hand, hauled him to his feet, and suddenly Harry found himself being kissed furiously. It was not a gentle kiss, Ron's teeth clacking up against his and Harry's lip getting split sometime during the exchange. He felt blood trickling down his chin. His cheek felt hot from where it was beginning to swell.

Finally Ron let him go and shoved him violently backwards. Harry hit a table and braced himself there, inexplicably saddened by the hate and betrayal on Ron's face.

"Get out of here," Ron snarled, his wand pointing again towards Harry and his hand noticably trembling. Harry opened his mouth to protest, but seeing the dark look Ron cast him, backed out of the room carefully, keeping his eyes on Ron's the whole time. Finally the door slammed shut behind him and he breathed a sigh of both relief and regret.

"Harry! Harry, what happened?" He could hear Hermione's footsteps hurrying up to him and moments later he felt a tentative touch on his shoulder. When he turned around, Hermione stared at him with huge, disbelieving eyes. She laid a gentle hand on his swollen cheek.

"He was a little angry," Harry said wryly. She gave him a look.

"I figured as much," she retorted, and took her hand off his face, grabbing his hand instead. "You know Ron when he gets upset -- the best thing we can do is just let him cool off, and then you can try to talk to him again. What did you tell him?"

"The truth, Hermione." Harry suddenly felt very tired. "Nothing but the truth."

She winced but didn't comment. "Your visitor is still here," she said, unnecessarily. She never said things without a reason; it was a mark of how much distress she was in. "I'm sure he's anxious to see you. He's outside in the courtyard. Why don't you go talk to him?"

"Hermione -- what would you think if I told you that I was planning on leaving for good?"

He could tell that he'd caught her off guard.

"Well -- I would say, I suppose, that you should do what makes you happy," she admitted, haltingly, pulling up the words as if they were painful to her. "And if your happiness doesn't lie with Ron and I -- well, I expect that's if that is truly the way your heart feels, I don't have a right to try and change that." She gave him a sad smile. "I will miss you though, Harry, and no matter what Ron says, so will he."

"Thank you, Hermione," Harry said quietly, for a moment overcome by her unassuming friendship. "Will you -- will you say goodbye to Sirius and Draco for me?"

She managed another smile, this one not so grieving. "I suppose I can do it for you, even if it means I have to talk to the prat. You know I never liked him, even if you do. And I'm sure Snuffles will understand perfectly."

"I know," he said, heart a little lighter. "And -- about Ron --"

"I'll explain things to him. I know you don't want to talk with him, but...I think perhaps a letter would be in order. And, if you could manage it someday, a visit or two." She winked.

"God, I'm going to miss you, Hermione," he breathed, and enfolded her in a bone-crushing hug. She patted his back reassuringly.

"I know," she said, and he could hear the amusement in her voice.

Suddenly, Harry felt what seemed to be a vice with hooks grab onto his shoulder. Hermione laughed in delight.

"Hedwig," Harry murmured and stroked one of her feathers. "I'm glad you didn't let me forget you." She nipped his finger contentedly in response.

"Don't you want any of your school stuff?" Hermione asked hesitantly. Harry thought about it for a moment before replying.

"A few things -- my parent's photo album, my broomstick, stuff like that. Will you go tell Legolas I'll meet him in the courtyard in a few minutes, and that I have some important things to tell him?"

"Of course, Harry," Hermione said, and leaned up to place a kiss on his cheek. "Don't you dare forget me."

Harry smiled. "I won't," he said. "You can count on it."

_______________________

Photo album....broomstick...servicing kit...old Quidditch robes...Griffyndor scarf...a few books...

"I see thou hast made up thy mind, Harry," said a somehow familiar two-tone voice that seemed to echo about the room.

Harry whirled around and stared, disbelieving, at the speaker, clutching Advanced Magical Medicine in his hand.

"You cannot be suprised. I am sure that you knew it was I." Dumbledore reverted back to his raspy, gentle speech and Harry gave a little sigh of relief.

"I suppose I did know it was you," Harry said slowly, wondering all the while why the man before him was wearing strange robes of sea-blue.. "Professor Dumbledore."

Dumbledore smiled gently. "You may call me Alatar, for that is my true name. But -- you have questions for me, do you not?"

Harry nodded a little warily. "I do," he said. "Just one. I guess -- could you answer for me, sir, why I was sent to Middle-earth in the first place?"

To his suprise, Dumbledore sighed a little. "I can only speculate, Harry, about why you were given that orb. My first instinct is to say that it was indeed meant for me, since my powers have diminished to such an extent that I can no longer visit my brothers in Middle-earth. However, I do not know why it would be in your quarters. I'm afraid that will have to remain a mystery for now, my boy."

Suddenly, a part of what Dumbledore had just said struck Harry like a blow. "You -- you can't send me or Legolas back to Middle-earth?" he gasped out. To his suprise, Dumbledore smiled.

"I think you will be able to find your way back, Harry," he said, and ruffled Harry's hair gently. "And now, my boy, I think you have someone waiting for you."

Harry nodded unsteadily and dropped his book into the suitcase on his bed. Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled down at him.

I too shall watch over thy fate...how thou struggles to live, and how thou faces death.

Harry blinked at the ringing voice that suddenly echoed through his head. He stared at the back of Dumbledore's blue cloak as the old wizard walked out of his room. "Alatar?" he whispered, but Dumbledore didn't turn around.

Harry blinked at the ringing voice that suddenly echoed through his head. He stared at the back of Dumbledore's blue cloak as the old wizard walked out of his room. "Alatar?" he whispered, but Dumbledore didn't turn around. Harry stayed, frozen in place, until the door shut quietly. Then his lips quirked up in a little smile, and he shook his head, turning around to grab Quidditch Through the Ages and shove it in his suitcase. ___________________________

The clap of his shoes on the stone floor sounded somehow final. Hedwig hooted softly from his shoulder and nipped his ear gently, ignoring Harry's distracted attempts to make her quit. His mind, at the moment, was on other things; namely, the gleam of long blonde hair and the pale beauty of Legolas, staring out at the lake absently. Harry stood off to one side in a doorway of the castle and watched Legolas's eyes widen a bit when he saw a tentacle emerge out of the water with a splash.

"It's the squid," Harry said quietly, looking out at the lake, seeing out of the corner of his eye when Legolas glanced his way. "It likes to watch our Quidditch matches sometimes. I never could figure out how it knew when all of the Slytherin and Gryffindor matches were."

Legolas didn't ask what Harry was going on about. Harry saw him nod his head and take a deep breath.

"Look, Legolas --"

"Harry, I --"

Harry smiled a little. "You first," he said. He saw Legolas smile tightly in return. When the elf spoke he sounded more like the composed, two thousand year old being that Harry had met his first night in Middle-earth than the slightly unraveled Legolas of late.

"Harry, I know that you and -- Ron, is it? -- are engaged. I just want to say that I have no business interfering with that --"

"Don't you?" Harry interrupted, finally turning to face Legolas fully. Despite Legolas's air of calm, Harry saw a sort of wildness, a sort of desperation, about him that Harry had never seen before. There were dark circles under his eyes that hinted at too little hours of sleep.

Legolas's blue eyes flickered before he started again. "No, I don't," he said firmly. "From what you've told me, he's known you for years -- loved you for years -- and I have not. I have -- I have no right to come between you two."

Harry smiled gently up at Legolas and lifted up a hand, tracing the fullness of Legolas's bottom lip with his thumb. He felt Legolas's breath hitch slightly. "You don't have to worry about that," Harry said, and saw Legolas's eyes brighten. "We -- ah -- had a bit of an argument. So I thought -- that is, if you still want me --"

All of a sudden he felt two hands grab his shoulders to pull him forward, and a pair of soft lips pressed to his own hungrily, taking the breath from his lungs and the strength from his legs. The world stopped, and for a blissful moment he was whole.

When they pulled away for breath, finally, Harry laughed a little. "You didn't let me finish. I was going to say, if you still want me to go to Middle-earth with you…?"

"Of course I want you to," Legolas murmured, a little wistfully, and he put his hand into his pocket. "However, I think getting there might be the problem." When he withdrew his hand, Harry saw the glitter of glass. "The orb Manwe gave to me shattered as soon as I arrived here." He dropped his hand to his side, and the glass tinkled to the ground.

Harry looked at him and winked. "Lucky for me that mine was a little better made." He dug into his bag, felt his hand close over cool glass, and tossed it to Legolas. Legolas automatically brought up his hands and caught it, then stared at it with some strange emotion. When he looked back up at Harry his eyes shone.

"Harry -- this would be wonderful -- but first I need to know if you can ever forgive me for what I did…"

"It fades from my memory even now," Harry whispered, and leaned in to place another soft kiss on Legolas's lips. Legolas smiled down in pure elation at him.

"Then let's not waste any more time."

His hand grasped Harry's own, his other hand folding over Harry's holding the glass orb. "I love you," Legolas whispered, his lips touched Harry's gently and, in a flash of bright white light, they were together, worlds away. __________________________

A/N: Well folks. That's it! I know it leaves off a bit abruptly, but that's because the sequel is already in planning. It should come out about August or so. Well, my lovelies, this is Capella, signing out. Thanks for all your support and reviews and love!