HARRY POTTER AND THE ELDER RACE

Chapter Six

A/N: can't write this fanfic w/o giving a nod to the LOTR films' great music. for this chap, it's evenstar. Hope ur listening to them while reading this fic. :)

also, I won't be able to write the archery scenes as well as one could watch in movies. pls share if u know of any. i can think of only one, aside from LOTR of course. It's the Korean film 'war of the arrows' – if u haven't seen it already. if u wanna see the bad guys looking as cool as, if not cooler than, the protagonists, that's the movie to watch.

EVENSTAR LYRICS

Ú i vethed nâ i onnad.

Si boe ú-dhanna.

Ae ú-esteli, esteliach nad.

This is not the end...it is the beginning.

You cannot falter now.

If you don't trust [this], trust nothing else.

Estelio han, estelio han, estelio,

estelio han, estelio veleth.

Trust this, trust this, trust,

Trust this, trust love.

~o~

Harry sat upon one knee, his bow fully drawn, trained down low. He placed the thumb of his right hand behind his neck, favoring the position at the moment for the slight increase in arrow speed it gave. He kept his target – a wild roe deer – in Elven-sight, and then silently cast a wandless spell on the arrow's head and shaft.

"Your prey won't stay still for long, Prince Aranhil," Haeldor said, standing behind him. They were at the top of a ridge overlooking the forest valley below, where Harry's target was, unaware of the impending danger. Harry kept his nerves steady, however, not even sparing the Elf-Captain half a glance, knowing Haeldor was baiting him to put him off his aim. He narrowed his right eye slightly as he concentrated on his target, a good three hundred yards away. He didn't know how he knew it, but Harry was sure Haeldor made some sort of signal, because a second later a bird call echoed in the distance, spooking the deer into flight. Harry had no choice but to loose his arrow at once. He waited for a beat before rising to his feet, his movements measured and sure, all the while keeping his eyes on the whistling arrow, following its trajectory as it zigzagged through the forest in pursuit of its prey. A second later, the arrow hit the target. The deer fell down and stayed still. Harry waited for Haeldor's inevitable comment but he only heard a quickly-smothered cough. Harry cast his laughing eyes down, though the smile that formed on his lips was spare.

Harry and Haeldor then ran down the ridge, both unmindful of the steep incline. Their feet moved lightly, barely touching the ground, but in places where they did, scree would roll down the earthen floor. Down the ridge the two Elven warriors ran, and then through the forest, Harry instinctively avoiding root outcrops, low hanging tree branches, and fallen tree trunks. They ran with the swiftness and grace of gazelles, until at last they reached Harry's prey.

They found it lying down, Harry's arrow standing erect on its side, with only the tip of its arrowhead touching the skin of the animal. It was as hard as fossilized stone, and yet its eyes were moving rapidly in fear – for Harry had merely struck it with a Petrifying spell; he had been careful not to hurt the deer.

Haeldor bent down and pulled the arrow from the deer's flank, but the animal remained frozen in its lying state so Harry nonverbally ended the spell. At once the deer bolted to its feet then sprinted as fast and as far away from them as it could. They watched it run and disappear back into the dim forest, Harry tracking it with his Elven sight long after it disappeared from view.

"You've grown in skill, Lord Aranhil," Haeldor said after a time.

No merriment touched Harry's answering smile this time.

Haeldor looked closely into Harry's face. "What is wrong?"

"Nothing," Harry lied. And then he turned his face away, pretending to check the string of his bow. The truth was, he could feel it now, almost all the time. Whenever he used his Elven sight, he also could feel its presence – the darkness that was inside of him. It was lying quiescent for now. Harry doubted that such evil could breach Imraudden's wards.

Coming to this place was a real godsend. He now had Caladhiel, a family he could call his own. And he had acquired skills and knowledge he didn't think were possible or even existed. There was a certain precision to his magic now, a certain purity. He could now do, not only wandless spells, but do them nonverbally as well. But it all came with a terrible price: the knowledge of what was inside of him. It was Voldemort, that much Harry was certain. Caladhiel agreed as much. She had sensed it, too, the first time they had spoken. Something must have happened when Voldemort cast the Killing Curse upon him when he was a baby. Harry didn't wonder though at how such a thing could happen, now that he had learned of Sauron and his ring. Harry felt that he too had become some sort of a vessel, playing host to a Dark Lord's malice and ... power?

And yet, even though it was not a part of Harry, that it was completely separate from him, still, it was there. It made him feel dirty, impure, and undeserving of this place...and of Caladhiel.

Haeldor was quick to pick up on the prince's mood. "I know you'll be leaving this place soon," he began, thinking it was the reason for Harry's lowness of spirits. He spoke as well with a rare awkwardness, for Elves seldom were unsure of speech and manner. "- but you will always have this place as your home, Master Aranhil."

Harry kept his head down, pretending still that he was checking the bow string.

Haeldor suddenly felt uncertain: how does one talk to a teenage Mortal? "You rule this kingdom now," he soldiered on, determined to pierce through Harry's funk. "Not only do you have the Princess's love, but all of Imraudden's as well. You won't have to carry your burdens alone now."

Harry looked into Haeldor's calm, steady face, unlined despite his thousand and five hundred years. Though they didn't shake hands, Harry recognized the bound promise in the Royal Captain's words and was quietly grateful for it.

They realized that they had reached Imraudden's borders, very near where Harry first appeared, but still within the cover of the tree line. In the excitement of the chase they both had almost forgotten their surroundings but now the murmurings of the presently still waters of Edhelmere became loud whisperings in their ears, as if urgently reminding them both that Harry must needs return to the outside world.

And Harry heard them, heard them all too clearly.

Haeldor lifted his gaze towards the sky. "It is time that we should be coming back, Lord Aranhil," he said. "The Princess will be waiting."

Harry nodded and quietly followed after Haeldor.

And indeed Caladhiel was waiting for them at the entrance of the palace. But Harry was obviously dragging his feet, and it took them longer to reach her than they should have. Harry carefully avoided looking at Caladhiel's face, though he had nothing to hide from her. She knew as much as he did. Still, he couldn't look her in the eye. The truth was, he feared going back to his friends, to Sirius, knowing what he knew now. He wouldn't be able to look them in the eye, either.

Caladhiel was watching his face – more the top of his head, really, for Harry steadfastly refused to meet her gaze, preferring to scrutinize the marbled tiles of the floor. She exchanged a quick look with Haeldor, whose face remained immovable. He was leaving the decision to her. She stared at Harry's head for a long time. Harry thought he could discern a pattern in the grains of the marble.

"Aranhil, come with me," Caladhiel said after a while. An order, not a request.

Harry lifted his head, puzzled at the imperious tone in her voice. He followed after the Princess, through the palace's long corridors, then into the Great Hall, right into the Throne Room, and into what he could only describe as the Eldar's version of a mathom room.

As before, the moment he stepped a foot into the door, radiant white light flooded the entire room. But Harry knew now where to look, and wondered if the Starlight was responding to his presence.

He only waited for a few seconds until his eyes adjusted to the bright light. Caladhiel was already heading straight to the Goblet of Eärendil's Starlight, Harry following just a few steps behind her.

They both stood there for a few moments, just staring into the Starlight, mesmerized by the dazzling display of light. In Harry's presence, this brilliant radiance was even more resplendent - as if at the end of every pinpoint of the shimmering starlight was a fiery core of the most perfect diamond. Its beauty filled Caladhiel's heart to brimming, knowing it was because of Aranhil, and she reached out her hand to touch the Goblet.

"How can such beauty cause so much grief?" she asked after a while, for it was true, for both the starlight's history and her nephew's. "And yet it is precious to us, the Eldar, for it is all that remains of the lost light of the Two Trees of Valinor. Yet now, at this moment, it is important to me for only one reason and one reason alone." Then she drew a deep breath as if steeling herself for something. She turned to Harry. "You know what this is?"

"Yes."

"You know you have power over it?"

Harry seriously did not know so he said nothing.

"You, born of mortals and yet an Elf, have the means to wield and magnify its power," said Caladhiel, speaking not as Harry's aunt, but with the authority of an Elven ruler.

Harry searched Caladhiel's eyes, asking silently if she thought it would remove the piece of Voldemort that was in him. She seemed to have understood his question, for she answered:

"The Star of Eärendil is a power of absolute good. Either it or ill will abide. They cannot exist both side by side, not when its power is fully harnessed. And that power is in you, Aranhil. But there is danger. Your body is still young and mortal. If you try to use it now, there is a chance that you may not be able to survive. But I've been trying to strengthen you, to waken the Elven in you. You don't have to make that choice now but know that you have a chance to remove this evil once and for all." She looked at him, and saw the fear and uncertainty in his face. She laid a gentle hand on his chest, where his heart was. "Hebo sador, Aranhil. I just found you. I will not lose you now."

Harry stayed in the room for a long time after that. Caladhiel let him, but left instructions that two Elven guards stay with him at all times. He sat on the floor, in the middle of the room, his back to one of the massive pillars in the room, elbows resting on his knees, eyes fixed on the Goblet. Could he risk dying now at the chance to remove the piece of Voldemort in him? He weighed the pros and cons of putting off doing so. He lived for fourteen years, since the night Voldemort killed his parents, without anything bad happening. He figured he still could live for years more. It was not without its uses, he thought, acting like a radio receiver sometimes. He wondered if he could use it to his advantage. But deep down inside he realized he'd rather not. He couldn't live with the idea of a part of Voldemort stuck in him, not for a single second more. But to risk dying now? It felt like he was running away from battle long before it had even started.

But how could he go on, knowing that he shared his mind, his body with Voldemort?

Minutes (hours? he couldn't tell, time was a different thing in this place) ticked by and still he stared at the Goblet. He stared at it until his eyes felt heavy and he fell asleep.

~o~

Voldemort stared at his long-fingered, white hands, the veins standing out lurid black. Yet he did not feel revulsion: all he felt was the power coursing through his veins. He imagined the very air tingling with it.

He looked up. He could see nothing of the dark night, or the dark waves lashing angrily at this remote island except what little the meager moonlight itself allowed to be seen. No matter; he did not come here to enjoy the view.

He thought back now, to the time he went to Albania searching for Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem. It was deep in the evening and he had taken rest on the banks of a mountain lake, upon whose still waters a shaft of moonlight glinted piercingly. And then he saw it. He thought it was merely a massing of clouds, hiding the moon's light. But no, it was more massive, and closer to earth, hiding from view even the black forms of the towering mountains that crowned the lake. And it was moving swiftly, towards him. He was too stunned – and not a little curious – to do anything. And if he were to admit it to himself, felt a little bit of fear. But he knew he couldn't die: he had already created his Horcruxes by then. So he just stood there, waiting, eying with detachment this massive shadow coming straight at him. And then it took him, utterly and completely. He did not feel fear, for the Shadow felt at once familiar. It seemed sentient and considered him for a time. Those who are weak would have named it evil, but he, Voldemort, the greatest wizard of all, recognized only power. They both recognized it in each other. (In truth, the Dark Shadow only recognized its own hunger for destruction in the Dark Wizard, but Voldemort, in his conceit, interpreted it as something else.) Finally, it left his body and then the Black Shadow disappeared whence it came.

Up to now Voldemort still wondered what it was, that Dark Shadow that took possession of him…and empowered him – for it must have passed something of itself to him. Even now he felt it, felt it more strongly, now that his body had been fully restored. He felt great power coursing through his blood. He was not afraid of anything now. The Dark Shadow had magnified his power and now no one lived who was more powerful than he. Not that meddling fool Dumbledore or that Potter boy. Still… how the Potter boy got away from him the night of his rebirthing….No, it must have been a fluke. Or something to do with that cursed prophecy….

Yet the power the Dark Shadow had given him remained. He would have wanted more. He wanted to have all, as much power as he could have. It was the reason why he returned to Albania, when he lost his body after his attack on the Potters. He scoured the entire land, but never found it again. He began to search all the dark places in the world, but only found a weak-willed wizard in Quirinus Quirrel.

But there was something else the Dark Shadow gave him – visions, images he could not understand. How to create servants that would bow down only to his will, servants that now would be extremely useful. He could hardly storm Hogwarts and the Ministry both with what remained of his Death Eaters. He needed an army.

He tried to remember what the Dark Shadow had shown him – mindless, vicious, man-like creatures and towering black demons with whips of fire. They were mere images, but he thought he had an idea how to summon these creatures to being. Tonight would be the first time he would try to create one.

Voldemort wielded his wand and three stones appeared several feet in front of him, the stones forming a triangle with each other. Another flick of his wand and a large stone cauldron, exactly like the one he had used for his own rebirthing, appeared on top of the three-stone hearth. A third flick of his wand and the stone cauldron gradually filled with a dark substance so viscous it looked like liquid mud. Then he lit a fast-blazing fire under the cauldron. The potion in the cauldron began to emit noxious fumes, like rotting eggs and stench of human decay combined.

The liquid mud potion started to boil, belching angry bubbles on its surface, and then the liquid began to spin furiously, forming a whirlpool in the center of the substance. It was time.

Voldemort lashed at the air with his wand, and human bones instantly appeared inches above the cauldron, spinning in tandem with the whirling dark potion beneath it. Then Voldemort shouted into the night. "Bone of a Muggle, unknowingly given, you will return to life!" With another wave of his wand, the skeletons dropped into the spinning potion, disappearing in its bowels.

Voldemort wielded his wand anew, and this time, a wild boar, bound and squealing, appeared suspended in the air. "Flesh of the beast, forcibly taken, you will resurrect this body!" Almost simultaneously, he removed the bindings of the animal and dropped it into the potion. It let out a blood-curdling scream as the heat and the potion consumed its body. He watched it writhe in the boiling potion with gleeful satisfaction and waited until it too disappeared under.

Then Voldemort brought his hand close to his mouth and blew into his palm, facing the cauldron. His fiery breath sped towards the cauldron, the potion whirling so fast now it began to suck in the fiery smoke into itself. And then Voldemort shouted once more into the night. "Breath of the Master, willingly given, I will bring life to death!"

The black potion began to boil more furiously, as Voldemort stoked the fires underneath it higher and higher until it had completely covered the entire cauldron. He began pacing around the cauldron, his strides long and pouncing, like a savage dance, unable to hide his excitement, the reflection of the fire shining redly upon his face. He could barely contain his exhilaration. It was the greatest feat of magic the wizarding world would ever know.

The waves of the seas lashed even more furiously against the island, as if in protest at the bastardization of creation he was committing, but Voldemort merely laughed derisively into the night waters.

And then slowly, as if the fire had run out of fuel, it began to die down. The smoke began to dissipate as well, as the potion began to spin slower and slower until it grew still. But only for a minute. For the potion began to stir again. Slowly a head emerged, soon to be followed by the rest of its body. A man-sized creature completely covered with the liquid slime then stood up from the cauldron and opened its eyes. Voldemort stared into his very first servant-creature: An Orc was born.

Voldemort walked around the cauldron, and with a lazy flick of his wand, vanished the tools he had used. Only the Orc remained, still completely covered in the liquid slime. Voldemort now spoke to it.

"You are just the first of many. Soon I will seed this planet with your kind. You will only do my bidding, for you exist only because of my will, and so shall obey only mine. And soon – very soon – the whole world will know the power of Lord Voldemort!"

The Orc grunted. Voldemort looked down and considered his wand. Hhhmm. The giants would come to his side with very little persuasion. The Dementors would answer his summons immediately. Yes, these creatures would become part of his new army. No force would be able to resist him. He tried to remember the other creatures he saw in his head – wargs, and that creature, a black demon, carrying a whip of fire. Could it have been a fiendfyre? No, in the vision he saw these fire-creatures were tangible, substantial beings. No, it was something else. It seemed they came from a long-forgotten age. But a few were still around.

He tried to remember the images he saw, of how to summon the fire-creature from the bowels of the earth. Somewhere from deep inside his subconscious, a word formed, as if someone was whispering to him. A Balrog. Yes, that is its name. He would summon these creatures back to the surface, to be part of his army...Voldemort halted. Red, hot anger was boiling from deep within his gut. Violent….And something else he could not fathom…. Justified? He realized he had felt it moments before, while in the midst of creating his first servant: the same death grip in his magical core, but the feeling was subsumed by the exhilaration of his achievement.

Doubt began to assail him. Was he not supposed to do this? Voldemort's thoughts went back to the lake, to the Black Shadow that possessed him. He began to feel excruciating pain. Perhaps he was overreaching himself and he was being punished. The pain became blindingly intense, as if the Cruciatus Curse from a thousand wands were being simultaneously cast upon him. The Orc made a grunting noise, and despite the haze of pain, Voldemort saw the hunger in the newborn creature's eyes and felt himself vulnerable. He slashed his wand against the air forming a fiery X. The Orc scrabbled at its chest then dropped senseless to the ground. But the pain, the pain persisted. Voldemort staggered around, clutching at his head, clawing at his clothes, his vision deserting him. It felt that every fiber of his being was being set on fire. And, for the first time in his life, there rose in him the desire for death. But it was the thought, so new and alien to him, that made him realize: it was not him. It would be the last thought in his dwindling mind as, finally, the pain overtook him.

Hundreds of miles away, far away in a hidden realm, a blinding radiance burst the darkness of the night sky. The light – so intensely bright it must have been sublimated to its purest form – rapidly jetted out in all directions as fast as thunderbolts of lightning. Only once in the history of the Earth that such light had been seen, some sixteen years before. But before a single photon could escape the dome of Imraudden's wards and betray itself to Mortal eyes, the light fell rapidly back in upon itself, as if by sheer power of will, something had halted its expansion in a singular instant.

~o~

All throughout the day, since the break of dawn, Merinelle had been sitting in the North Tower keep, watching the skies. After that incident in the Treasury Room – the details of which she could not wrangle from her father no matter what she did – the Prince had resumed his intense training, this time on the Annwynian horses. Mortals had difficulty seeing these horses, flying so fast, light reflecting on their shiny coats, that men failed to realize what they were seeing even if one flew directly over their heads.

Up here was where she watched him, as he trained with the other Elven warriors in horseback archery. It was breathtaking the way the Prince rode his steed up in the sky. There was a certain grace and sureness in his movements, the way he twisted his flank as he shot an arrow backwards. Or the way he made the horse underneath him writhe in midair trying to avoid another Elf-mounted horse barreling into them. It was as if he was one with his steed.

But sadly she did not see him today. Her father must have taken the Prince to train back in the forest or gone patrolling the borders. So Merinelle went back into her family's living quarters, dejected, avoiding the Elven she met along the way. She spent the rest of the day hand sewing a linen undertunic for the Prince. It calmed her that she could do this for him. That her hands had touched almost every single article of clothing that he had been wearing since he set foot in Imraudden. The clothes he came in were so ruined that he could not use them anymore. Nonetheless, they felt rough to the touch, unlike the Elven clothes that she was glad to make for him.

There was a knock on the door. And she wondered who could it be. They had very few visitors, mostly her father's men. She opened the door and there standing was the Captain of the Royal Guard of Asgard, Princess Caladhiel's kingdom up north.

"Holberen!"

"Merinelle," said Holberen. He was young, compared to her father's age yet Holberen already had command of the entire Elven warriors of Asgard, with the golden hair and the beauty of their northern kindred.

"Since when have you arrived?" Merinelle asked, starting to worry. The Princess would not have called him here, her most trusted guard, for no reason. Holberen was one of the best warriors in the Elven realm.

"We departed from Asgard this morning." He scanned the back of the room as if searching for someone.

"Forgive me," said Merinelle at once. "Are you looking for my father? Why don't you come in and wait for him inside?"

"I'm sorry, Merinelle, but I and a few others will be departing soon for Prince Aranhil's school on the Annwynians. I thought I might talk to your father before I leave."

"For the Prince's school?"

"Yes." He frowned, considering Merinelle. "Did you not know? The Prince will be leaving tonight."

It could not be. The Prince would leave and she had never spoken to him once. But what else could she have done? There was never an opportunity for her to talk to him, not even to be in the same room as him, except for that one time when he came looking for the hobbit. The rules of decorum at the palace were quite rigid, the places where unmarried women and men could go, separate. To openly seek Prince Aranhil out would be unseemly and for a Palace Elf-maiden as she – no matter her father's place in the court – to initiate conversation with him simply was not done.

Merinelle did not know for how long she kept pacing the room until her father returned. But she couldn't go tearing off through the entire palace searching for him. He could be anywhere. He could be with the Prince. And what she needed to say were for her father's ears alone. And then the door to their quarters opened, and her father walked in, looking uncharacteristically sad as soon as he saw the expression on her face, knowing that she had heard the news.

"Why didn't you tell me?!" Merinelle rounded on him immediately.

"Because you would have forgotten yourself and sought him out."

"And what if I did?"

Haeldor looked sadly at his daughter. He knew that she loved the young prince, the way her face bloomed these days. It pierced his heart, the way her love shone brightly on her young face. But how could he tell his only child? Her love is the kind that rushes headlong to a precipice.

"Remember your place, child, if you have forgotten everything else," was all Haeldor could say in reply.

"I am not a child, ada!"

"But you are, my love. And I fear the swiftness with which you have fallen for the young prince."

"But you love him too, Father. I see it every day on your face. You are proud of him."

"But my love for him is different from yours child."

"Is it, ada?"

"Merinelle, you only think of your love for him, but cannot you see? Lord Aranhil faces burdens you cannot even begin to imagine."

"I just want him to know that I exist. And that I'll be there if he needs me. That's all I want, ada."

"When the time comes, when it is right, and if it's meant to be… he will find you."

But Merinelle would not be satisfied and rushed through the corridors of the Palace, carrying fresh beddings for the late King's and Queen's royal chambers in her arms. She realized that was where he would be now. She felt her father following her but she did not care anymore. She had no more time left.

~o~

Harry stared at his reflection in the giant mirror above the chimneypiece in his Elven parents' bedroom. When he first came into the room, he thought the mirror, like the bed and the other furniture in the room, was gilded in gold. But he soon discovered that it was only edged in wood, the wood chosen for its color and burnished so that it gleamed golden in the beam of sunlight – as it did now, even with the last rays of sunlight spilling into the room through the open doors of the balcony, the curtains billowing in the gentle breeze.

He drew a deep sigh. He came to this room often whenever he wanted some peace, for very few people were allowed in here. Not even Fosco dared to trespass against the privacy of this place.

He looked at his face now. He was different. The physical changes could be attributed to his growing body, but even he could tell there was more. He wondered if his friends and loved ones back home would see the enormous changes in him. And it wasn't just the clothes. Since coming to Imraudden he had grown a couple of inches taller. The clothes he was wearing when he arrived at Imraudden no longer fitted him either, and he had, in fact, been wearing nothing but traditional Elven garb since then. But he could hardly return to Hogwarts wearing Elvish clothes. So now he wore a plain white shirt and pants made from homespun fabric that Fosco's people had made especially for him.

A presence fluttered at the edge of his consciousness. Someone else was in the room besides him. He was not using his Elven-sight, but sometimes, something or someone would tug at his mind, demanding his attention. Often it was only Fosco, especially when the hobbit felt there was something he had to urgently tell Harry. More often than not, the urgency was all in Fosco's mind. And Harry was finding it more and more necessary that he be able to control his Elven-senses, to use them only when he absolutely needed them, if only to have some peace of mind. So he ignored the presence. In any case, there were guards posted at the door of the room. And he would immediately know if it presented any danger to himself. It did not.

Instead, he picked up the crystal ball sitting on the chimneypiece. It was actually an Elven-toy, a ball of light. It made musical sounds whenever he moved it, the light inside breaking into a thousand colors with the movement, like diamond. Caladhiel told him that the late Queen had it made for him, a toy for her future child. Everywhere in the room, her eagerness for her coming child was evident, for the Elves had left the room just as it was the day the Queen left for the Hidden Forest. There was his crib. And there was the dresser filled with Elven-baby clothes. There were the other toys, mobiles and stuffed animals, a few even Muggle-made. Harry contemplated what it would have been like to grow up in this kingdom. He would be two different people, that was for certain. He would be solely James's and Lily's son. A wizard, but not an elf. He would be Aranhil, Ruellen's and Aeldred's son. An elf, but not a wizard.

When he surfaced from his musings, Harry realized that there was a new presence in the room. The earlier one had gone. He turned around. Haeldor was standing by the door.

"Princess Caladhiel is waiting for you, Aranhil," Haeldor said.

Harry returned the crystal ball back on the mantel and then turned towards the balcony doors. Haeldor joined him as he watched the sun began its slow death in the horizon.

"The Advanced guards had left for your school already, Lord Aranhil," said Haeldor after a time. "But as you requested, they would be keeping a low profile and would stay in the mountains surrounding your school. But if ever you have need of them, you can send word through any living creature in your school. They will hear your words."

Harry nodded. He knew this, the way Caladhiel's song reached him when he was a child. He turned his face back to the mountains of Imraudden, committing the sight to memory.

"Prince Aranhil, may I speak freely?" Haeldor broke into his thoughts. Harry turned his face to the Elf-Captain, waiting. "For a very long time, the Eldar have succeeded in keeping our existence hidden from Mortal eyes," Haeldor said. "That's the only way we could have survived all these centuries. Many of our kin have left these lands, driven by men and their war-mongering," he said, smiling bitterly to himself. He looked backed at Harry with imploring eyes. "I seek now your help, Master Aranhil. The Lady Caladhiel loves you. But her love has made her reckless, as those who love do – "

"I won't do anything that would put Caladhiel or this land in danger," said Harry at once.

"Do not get me wrong, Hîr nín. You have your people now. And we will do everything for you, to protect you. We will never abandon you and would gladly give up our lives for you, including my own."

Harry was about to protest, but Haeldor held a hand up.

"I will do it, Master Aranhil. Many times over. And not because I was tasked to protect you. But it is to war and battle that you will be heading. I ask only that you keep secret from the enemy your most valuable weapon as long as you can. Keep the knowledge of our existence close to your heart."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring so much danger to Imraudden," Harry said, feeling rotten.

"Do not feel guilty, Lord Aranhil. Doom is upon us all. For long we have known that it is coming – you have not brought it here. Let not your heart be troubled. Because of you, we know that we are not without hope."

"I don't know about that. I may be an Elf inside, but I'm still just a kid."

Haeldor smiled. "You underestimate yourself, Master Aranhil. No mere 'kid' could have turned an Elven battle sword to dust, as doubtless the hobbit would have told you." The latter Harry was sure Haeldor said in jest, but his mood was far from lightened.

Down below, lights started to flicker. The Elven guard that would take Harry back to the Mortal world had started to form, carrying torchlights. The lights started to pool under the balcony, waiting for Harry.

Harry gave the room one last glance, saying his goodbye, but knowing as well that this would not be the last time he would see this room.

The Elven procession moved silently through the forest, Harry in the middle of it, with Fosco glumly walking by his side. Harry carried nothing on his person but his wand and a new Elven cloak, made especially for him, tucking the green cloak inside his Wizard's robes.

Harry glanced down at the hobbit, walking in step beside him, still looking dejected. But Harry simply could not bring Fosco with him back to Hogwarts. He would be spending most of his time inside the castle while the school term was in session. Even if Fosco were to constantly wear an Invisibility Cloak, there was too much of a risk that he would be eventually discovered – which would then lead to the knowledge that Elves still existed.

"Fosco…" Harry began, though he hardly knew what to say. Both Caladhiel and Haeldor had set their feet down: except for Holberen and his men, Harry would return to the Mortal world alone.

"I know, Master Aranhil, you don't have to say anything. I know I can't come with you – now," said Fosco, glancing up at Harry at the qualifier. "But I sure am following behind you. As soon as the Elven scouts return from your school with news of your arrival, new Elf-warriors will be sent to guard you. And then I can join them," he vowed.

Harry looked down, certain Fosco would do it too. He wondered how it would work out. Maybe Fosco could join Sirius in his mountain caves. Fosco had proven quite adept in hunting for food. He wouldn't be hungry. Still, Harry didn't know what situation he would come back to in the Mortal world. He'd heard Caladhiel and Haeldor discussing ways to spirit him back to Imraudden if Harry's Elven guards deemed the situation demanded it.

They kept on walking, and as they neared the border, the Elves started to put out the firelights one by one. Only the slender shafts of moonlight filtering through the canopy of trees lighted their way now, Harry in the full shadows of his thoughts.

Soon they reached Imraudden's borders, arriving in the very same spot where Harry first appeared. Caladhiel was already there, waiting by the banks of the river, talking to Haeldor – who had gone on ahead – and several other Elven warriors. Harry joined them, but they did not speak. Caladhiel and Haeldor seemed to be waiting for something.

An arrow suddenly landed at their feet.

"That is the signal," said Haeldor. "Mortals are about, not far from here. Our people wouldn't have been able to get near enough to see whether these are magicless folks or wizards. But we cannot risk it. It's best for the Prince to depart from here."

Caladhiel nodded.

Haeldor then handed to Harry the Portkey covered in brown cloth. "We were assured that the magic would activate the moment you touch it with your bare skin." Then he offered his hand to Harry. "Na lû ir a-goveninc," the Elf-Captain said. They shook hands firmly. "Your school is not far from here, Prince Aranhil. Holberen would be reaching your school by now."

Harry nodded, familiar with the speed of the Annwynians.

Haeldor then stepped further back, allowing Caladhiel to speak with Harry a little more privately.

"Will you let the hobbit stay at the palace?" Harry asked Caladhiel.

Caladhiel smiled. "I was planning to even before you asked. We also need to keep an eye on him lest he decides to come haring after you."

"Thanks."

Then she lifted her arms to remove the necklace which Harry had only seen her wearing now. Its slender pendant hang on a chain of mithril and was made of a cluster of gems that shone like the stars. She then offered the necklace up to Harry who bent his head forward so she could place it around his neck. Once done, she stepped back, regarding the necklace on him. Harry fingered the gem, which instantly shone at his touch.

"It is the Evenstar, that once belonged to Aragorn," she said then gazed up at him. "It is yours by birthright. Take it with you and trust in the knowledge of who you are."

Another arrow landed at their feet, this time, with two-colored feathers. It was the all clear.

"Lady Caladhiel, it's time," Haeldor said.

Caladhiel turned to Harry. "I am sorry, that you have to carry this burden on your shoulders. But know this: You are not alone anymore. The entire Elven kingdom, not just Imraudden but my home up north as well, is behind you. We have lost you once, Aranhil. We – I – won't lose you now."

Then music began to play in the distance, the soothing Elven voices drifting back to Harry. His new senses allowed him to hear and understand the Elven words clearly. He turned his head back to the lands of Imraudden to listen.

Trust this.

Harry scanned the lands of Imraudden, framed against its misty background, taking in the green, the earthy scent of untouched forest, saying his silent farewell, wondering when he would come back again.

Trust love.

He turned his gaze back to Caladhiel.

"Ú i vethed nâ i onnad," she said, echoing the words of the music, lightly touching his cheek with a finger. "Si boe ú-dhannam, Aranhil. Estelio veleth nîn."

Harry gave her a small sad smile. "I muinthel en naneth nîn," he said, speaking tenderly. It was the sole term of endearment he could call her, for there was no Elvish word for 'aunt'. It was his thank you… and his goodbye. A single tear fell down the Lady Caladhiel's beautiful face; Harry wiped it with the pad of his thumb. He then turned to the Portkey in his hands, removed the cloth covering revealing a car wheel, and took firm hold of it. As the Portkey began to glow its blue light, Harry lifted his head to gaze one last time into Caladhiel's blue eyes. "Ni ithron a ni edhel," he said quietly as he let the Portkey's magic bear him back to the Mortal world.

~o~

Glossary:

Hebo sador - Have faith

Ada – father

Na lû ir a-goveninc – Until we meet again.

Ú i vethed nâ i onnad.Si boe ú-dhanna. This is not the end...it is the beginning. You cannot falter now. (from the LOTR song Evenstar, of course.)

Estelio veleth nîn – Trust my love.

I muinthel en naneth nîn – My mother's sister

Ni ithron a ni edhel. – I am (a) wizard and I am an Elf.

A/N:

Sorry for the delay. I purposely left out the talk about the horcrux between caladhiel and harry coz I felt that I'll just be saying something that's already known to everyone.

Also, hate to put this here instead of within the story, coz it means I'm failing as a writer, lol, but really can't see how. Anyhoo, even with the additional power the Dark Shadow gave Voldemort, Harry was already powerful himself when the killing curse hit him as a baby. So there's protection there already. And the dark shadow did not fuse with voldy's soul either, I don't think it's possible (rather, I'm not making it possible. Keke. ;D). So the horcrux in harry is still just a piece of Voldy's soul. DS only magnified the evil in voldemort, as well as gave ol' snake-eyes additional power.