A/N: I own nothing save some of the plot. Revamped (twice) since it was written 2 and a half years ago, and doubled in length. I may do the same to later chapters, if and when I have time.
It all started as the Hobbit's and Strider left Bree. At first only Strider noticed it, though he held his peace. No need to give the Hobbits further cause for worry, he reasoned. While he knew perfectly well who it was and that he was in fact perfectly harmless if you didn't happen to be a creature of darkness, he was rather intimidating. Less than a day after, Frodo noticed it, and quietly asked what it was. Strider replied, for the benefit of all 4 hobbits,
"It is not a foe, but a much valued friend. He just keeps his own counsel much of the time, and truly though I have noticed his presence out in the wilds many times before and spoken with him 3 years ago when he first arrived in Arda, but I know little enough about him. He spends most of his time wandering or oftimes I have seen him speaking Gandalf, Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel. He is a man of few words these days. Once, he spoke more, much more, but his hunt for darkness has made him a more reserved man."
"What sort of a man is he?" Pippin piped up.
"He is a wizard, younger than any of you in years, though Gandalf has hinted that he is a veteran of a terrible war, and has come here to heal, something borne out by what he has said."
Merry looked perplexed and asked, "What wounds take three years to heal?"
"Wounds of the heart. And of the soul." Was Striders cryptic reply.
The Hobbits collectively jumped out of their skins as they heard an eerie, and somehow bitter chuckling noise in the forest on their left.
"W-W-What was that?" Pippin trembled.
"I think we said something that amused him." Strider said dryly as they marched onwards to Weathertop.
On their way to Weathertop, Strider told them that the wizard's name was Harry Potter, and he was one of the few beings the Ringwraiths had learnt to fear. That night, the hobbits decided to cook some dinner, reaching for some familiarity in the insane situation. At least until Frodo put it out and the night was torn apart by the unearthly screeches of the Nazgul. The Hobbits retreated to the top of Weathertop and drew their short swords. They stood no chance, brave as they were. Tossed aside, all they could do was watch the five Nazgul advance on Frodo.
As Frodo was stabbed and Strider began to fight the Ringwraiths with blade and flame, an unearthly apparition in the form of a silver glowing stag charged the Ringwraiths, scattering them. They desperately attempted to avoid the apparition, followed by its master, Harry Potter, the dark hunter who had long since been dubbed 'The Wizard in the Shadows'. He was dressed much like Aragorn, down to the long coat, but all in black and holding what appeared to be a small stick. His green eyes burned with anger and as Frodo saw him through in the world of the unseen, he saw a bright figure of white flame with green flames for eyes, whose brightness caused the wraiths to shy away.
Any doubts about the effectiveness of the stick as a weapon were dispelled when he pointed it at one of the Ringwraiths and uttered something in a strange language. Before he had arrived it had never been heard in the lands of Middle Earth. But like many things changed when Harry Potter was present. Such as the odds. The words caused a massive fireball to issue from the stick's tip, setting the nearest hapless Ringwraith alight. It shrieked and fled from its enemy, who turned on the others, directing his silver stag to herd them away.
Strider hurled his flaming brand into the face of the lasts hood, causing to shriek and follow its fellows in fleeing. After making sure all the Ringwraiths were dealt with, Harry knelt down and examined Frodo's wound.
"He needs Athelas," he said abruptly in a voice that rasped somewhat due to lack of use.
Strider also examined Frodo and nodded his agreement, then the hobbits gasped as Harry flicked his wand and a stretcher appeared under Frodo and floated to waist height.
"Cover our retreat," Strider said quietly. Harry nodded and slipped to the back with casual grace. They moved as quickly as they could, and not long after they descended the ancient watchtower, a Ringwraith screeched behind them. Harry abruptly melted into the forest provoking a startled but thankfully muffled cry from Pippin. He was not used to being in the company of one such as Strider, let alone their mysterious black clothed defender. The Ringwraith screeched again, this time more shrilly, and a flickering firelight could be seen through the trees, and the creature shrieked in distress. The firelight quickly moved away.
The wizard reappeared, smiling grimly. "That was Khamul," he said quietly. "The second. The Witch King himself is here." Looking at Strider, he said, "Why?"
"Not now," Strider said. Harry narrowed his eyes, and Strider shook his head.
Eventually, Strider set Frodo down. Harry started a fire with a casual flick of his wand, then disappeared with a crack.
"What is he?" Pippin asked, in hushed awe.
"He is a wizard," Strider said. "Not quite like Gandalf, but similar. His power is more obvious and more easily wielded. He is young, younger than any of you. And he is very powerful." There was the by now familiar startled shriek of a waylaid Ringwraith. "Be very glad that he is on our side."
Pippin looked off into the shadows nervously.
"People in the Prancing Pony were telling stories about him," Merry said in a low voice. "They say he hunts dark creatures. And kills them. And that he kills people as well. That he can kill you as easily with his knife as he can with his magic." Remembering Weathertop, he added, "and he seems to do that very easily."
"People fear his power," Strider said. "He kills orcs and the like without remorse, but I have only very rarely seen him kill something that is not Darkspawn. And that is only when there is no alternative. As for the knife work, he is the best knife wielder among mortals."
"They said that he was mad," Pippin said quietly. "Is he mad? Do you trust him?"
"I trust him with my life," Strider said. The hobbits noted that he avoided the question of madness. "Sam, I need you to find some Athelas – Kingsfoil," he said urgently.
"That's a weed," Sam said.
"It will slow the effects of the poison," Strider explained, going off to find some. "Merry, Pippin boil some water."
Harry returned with a crack, and moved to stand by Frodo.
"What are you doing?" Merry asked suspiciously. He shivered as the green eyed gaze turned to him.
Harry smiled a small smile. "Looking for trouble," he said softly, leaning back and relaxing against a tree. After that, he said nothing, eyes scanning the shadows. One hand held the stick that had already done so much damage, while the other held a well-used and well maintained elvish long knife. Merry got the feeling that despite his relaxed position, if he wanted to, Harry could move to attack in the blink of an eye.
When Glorfindel arrived, Aragorn in tow, he arched an eyebrow and said, "Hunting wraiths again, Black Wizard? The twins have missed riding in errantry with you. They say it is more exciting when you come along."
Harry nodded, and said voice still a little raspy, "I figured something was odd. I saw Aragorn walking towards Rivendell with four hobbits. Hobbits rarely go further than Bree. I felt the presence of five the Nine, the Witch King among them. I decided to shadow them." He smiled slightly. "Maybe some other time. Now, I work alone."
"And it is fortunate that you did. I could have driven them off alone, but it would have taken rather longer," Aragorn replied. "Time we do not have."
"Can you not apparate him to Rivendell?" Glorfindel inquired.
Harry shook his head, "The shard. The Witch King is too close. His power interferes with mine." After that, he lapsed into a watchful silence.
They continued towards Rivendell, Glorfindel eventually sending Frodo on his horse as the wraiths threatened to overtake them. As Frodo led them to the river, the rest followed, boxing the wraiths in between them and the river.
"What is that phrase you used to love?" Glorfindel asked.
Harry's face flickered in a small smile, drawing his wand and solemnly saluting Glorfindel. "Showtime."
Then, Glorfindel began to glow with an inner light that shone in both the Seen and the Unseen worlds. The Wraiths shied away. Then Harry unleashed hell, in the form of an enormous stream of silvery-blue flame, which made the Wraiths flee into the river. That was their mistake.
"They're going to get Mister Frodo!" Sam gasped.
Then the river was filled by a surge of water that swept the Wraith's and the horses away. The surge of water took the form of horses.
"Or not," Merry said.
Aragorn looked at Harry. "Do I detect your touch in the horses?"
Harry shook his head. "Gandalf," he said.
As the hobbits crossed the river, they mulled over the incident. It cemented a certain wariness towards Harry. Elves they expected to be odd and otherworldly. Apparently ordinary looking young men? Not so much.
The elf on guard smiled in greeting when he saw the motley company, though his expression changed to one of concern when he saw Frodo.
Harry glanced down at Frodo, and then looked at Aragorn and Glorfindel as if asking permission for something. "It is close enough. He has not the strength oppose me here. Not after what just happened." They both nodded after a moment. The Hobbits understandably yelped as Harry and Frodo disappeared with a loud crack.
"Where's he taken Mr Frodo?" Sam demanded angrily.
"Peace, Sam. He has only taken Frodo to Lord Elrond for healing, by a wizard's spell. It transports instantly, though it does feel rather unpleasant," Strider said quietly, shuddering. "The time saved may be Frodo's salvation."
"I've never seen Gandalf do anything like that," Merry said doubtfully.
"Master Potter is a very different breed of wizard to Gandalf, Master Hobbit," Glorfindel said as they made their way to Rivendell. "His talents and his reputation may yet save us all."
Well? What do you think? Good, bad, or ugly?