Harry raced away from his pursuer. He was still a little shaky, but thankfully, after a month of being in Imladris, he had begun to become more adjusted to his new size and to his newly healed leg. He still felt he had a while to go, he still fell over more than he would like, but there was definitly improvement, and now, there was hardly any pain. Certainly Lord Elrond was no Madame Pomferey, but considering he couldn't just magic the wound closed, Harry's healing process Harry had ever known. Not one of the muggle doctors he knew of had been as efficient.
Harry could remember once when they were children, Dudley had broken his arm falling off of a swing set, and that had taken forever to heal. It had to be put in a cast, and even when the cast came off, Dudley had still complained that it had hurt terribly. Of course, that may have been a bit of an exaggeration on Dudley's part. Contrary to popular belief, Dudley wasn't stupid. Even as a child he had worked out that acting upset resulted in endless sympathies and excessive attempts from Aunt Petunia to distract him. These distractions more often than not came in the form of some sugary treat.
Harry ducked around a tree, diving through some low hanging branches and further into the green woodland. Behind him, the elf following shouted, and Harry laughed despite himself. It felt good to laugh, even if it was at something as ridiculous as a children's game of hide and seek.
He thought that adults, and he still very much thought of himself as an adult, could probably learn something from this. Laughing felt good, people should do this more often. Fred and George had known that.
Twisting again, Harry half tripped, and half leapt into a large shrub, where he crouched and hid, stifling himself by pressing a fist against his lips. He listened hard, staying very still and straining to hear somebody approaching. The twins hadn't been that far behind him, he was sure.
Still minutes passed, and Harry began to grow wary when there was no sign of his companions. What if they had gone the wrong way? What if they had gone back without him?
That had happened to him once, he had been invited to play with some of the local kids, and somebody had decided that they should play hide and seek. Harry had hidden under the climbing frame in the park. He had been there for five hours.
It was thus that after what seemed like hours, but really was only a few minutes, Harry cautiously poked his head from his hiding place, glancing around as though expecting somebody to be lying in weight. On seeing the coast to be clear he pushed himself up with his hands, emerging fully from the undergrowth.
He tensed, dragging in a breath to scream when he was grabbed from behind and litfted into the air. His immediate reaction was to claw at the arms, to try and free himself, however he didn't actually manage to do much before his mind caught up with him.
He had been lifted into a more secure hold, cradled against a large chest, and the laughing tones had transformed into comforting murmurs whispered in his ear. He buried his head in the chest, ashamed at his reaction, and at the fear which still lingered in his belly. He started to cry.
"Hush tithen pen, its alright. We did not intend to frighten you."
"We are very sorry for doing so."
"It's alright. You're safe here."
"We swear it. Nothing will hurt you here."
Harry was trying desperately to stop his tears. His shoulders were shaking violently as he kneaded at his eyes. Why was he crying? He hasn't cried in years. He had learnt early on that nothing ever came from tears. Particularly tears shed over nothing. It was nothing. Just a little startle. It shouldn't have upset him at all.
His body trembled, and he pushed his face further into the shirt of the elf holding him. The soft words continued, and a hand stroked his hair gently as he was carried back to the house.
The twins were uncharacteristically grave as they spoke. Harry had continued to sob, and the two had begun to worry that perhaps something greater than his shock was ailing him. Their first response was to search for their ada. Upon failing to find him in the healing halls however, they had to settle for Estel, who had been directed to them by one concerned elf.
While Estel was certainly no substitute for Lord Elrond, or even for Ithilwyn, he did manage to calm the elfling down somewhat. After settling in his arms, the child's tears tapered into short, quiet whimpers.
Having assured themselves that he was in no other way harmed, but in agreement that he had clearly exhausted himself, it was decided that Harry should rest, and he had been put to bed.
As soon as they were sure that he was asleep, Estel turned to his brothers with questioning eyes, begging an explanation for the distress still visible in his charge. His concern only grew when Elrohir spoke of Harry's reaction.
The twins were clearly upset at their actions, blaming themselves, but Estel didn't believe for a moment that this was their fault. They should perhaps, though not knowing his history, but knowing of his dreadful injuries when he had been found, have been more careful with the shy child, but from the sound of things it had been nothing more than what he would have thought regular play. It was something that children everywhere did, was it not. He could remember playing such games himself with Elrohir and Elladan – even Arwen at times - during his childhood years. Besides, Estel knew well enough that his brothers would sooner die than cause harm to a child - elf or otherwise.
That Harry had reacted so violently to what should have been a harmless reaction was worrying. Once more Estel wondered as to what kind of life Harry had led up to this point, that he was so afraid of simple play.
Furthermore, it concerned Estel that Harry had been unable to calm without him. The child had seemed inconsolable. According to the twins he had not calmed in the slightest until he had been with Estel. Certainly he was pleased that the child was growing to trust him, but it appeared that he still was unable to relax amongst the elves. He still was unable to speak around other elves, and would avoid their company where he could. Even the twins, who he had thought the elfling to be more at ease with had not been fully accepted.
It was important that the elfling did not become entirely dependent on him, that he began to understand that the elves would never hurt him. Loathed though he was to leave the elfling, Estel was aware that he could not remain in Imladris indefinitely. Harry would be safe with the elves, and though Estel would visit as often as possible, he had other jobs that he could not justify abandoning to remain at home.
They would have to discuss this with Lord Elrond once he returned.
Harry woke to a dim room. He was wrapped tightly in soft linen, and the dark curtain had been drawn, blocking most of afternoon sun. He was back in his own rooms. Slowly the happenings of the morning came flooding back, and Harry had groaned aloud. He had acted like such a baby. He could only assume that Estel had put him to bed, and now that he focused on it, he could almost recall somebody singing to him, though perhaps he had been dreaming that.
He couldn't believe he had cried.
Subconsciously Harry rubbed at one eye, looking around once more. He still felt weary, but he did not think that he would be able to sleep further. He didn't want to sleep further.
Shrugging of the blankets, Harry dropped to the floor. He had lost his outer shirt and shoes, but otherwise it appeared that he had been allowed to sleep fully clothed.
That saved him having to get dressed.
Harry stood shakily and padded across the room. Reaching up he gripped the handle and pulled towards himself, apparently with more force that he had though. The door swung open quickly and he tripped backwards out of the way, falling onto his rear.
Looking up he found Estel stood in the doorway, concern evident on his face. In his hands he held a large silver plate, piled up with fruits.
Before he could embarrass himself further he pushed himself to his feet and scrambled out of the way, hurrying back to the bed. Of course Estel - having much longer legs - was much faster, and swiftly placed the plate on the table beside the bed. Turning, he lifted Harry and placed him back on the bed, tucking the blankets around his legs.
"Are you alright?"
Harry nodded, pushing his face into a smile.
Estel did not look too convinced, a worried crease still visible on his forehead.
"We did not wish to disturb you, so I have brought you something to eat so that you did not have to rise for dinner."
Harry's reply was quiet.
Estel smiled in response. He was still worrying, Harry could tell. More than he usually did.
Estel reached for the plate, offering Harry the fruit, and waited until the child had eaten his fill before continuing.
He gently carded his fingers through Harry's hair as he spoke.
"Harry... If you should ever wish to speak to somebody... regarding your history, your family... I will listen."
The child beside him tensed, looking downwards. For a moment Harry was completely still, before he jerked his head to the side in what looked to be a subconscious movement and nodded almost imperceptibly.
"Perhaps... but not now."
"Of course child."
This is far far shorter than I was planning it to be, but the second half of the chapter is lost somewhere on one of my memory sticks, and I'm late for an Easter egg hunt. :( I'll try to locate it an upload it tomorrow if not tonight.
Thank you to everybody who stuck with me during that very very long hiatus. I do apologise for that. I will continue to keep writing, however I'm not sure how regular updates will be so I make no promises, particularly because we're now entering exam season. I'll do my best though.