AN: Thank you for the many reviews again. This chapter took a while to write, and the next one will take even more so - the first three weeks of December are full of deadlines for me, most of them for monstrous essays of 20 or so pages. Ugh. Anyways, that means I can't write as much as usual (which isn't that much to begin with), but hopefully I'll be able to make up for it once Christmas holidays start. We get a whole month to ourselves! I love that side of university studies. Oh, sorry for babbling - on to the story, hope you enjoy it!
...And someone get this Wolf Whistling Song out of my head.
Summary: Harry was always a sickly child, but it all came crashing down with one word: Leukemia. Trapped inside a hospital since his 14th birthday, one night and one charm would change it all...
Warnings: AU, Harry's run-off mouth/mind, Future Slash and (far-off future) Mature content.
Disclaimer: The Venus Flytrap had a very short but fulfilling life, before Ginny's ghostly karma made it choke on popcorn. Plant Heaven welcomed the new addition with open petals.
Memory of Tomorrow - Chapter 4
Harry missed having his sketchbook. Sitting at dinner, watching all the splendor around him, the aristocratic elves and the massive feast - and they had one everyday! - he had never wanted to hold a pen and paper more than right then. He didn't know if there were drawing supplies available in this world, but since they had books and the rooms were works of art themselves, he suspected they did - perhaps he could ask Lord Elrond or Mereniel to find some for him.
"You should eat more, Eryndir, you are thin as a stick", Elladan whispered to him from his right side, disturbing his thoughts. Elrohir on his twin's right nodded his agreement, smuggling a piece of pickled fruit to Harry's plate. The elfling scowled at the new addition, poking it with his fork.
It wasn't that he wasn't hungry, or that he didn't like the food. He was just so used to his stomach rebelling against food of any kind that the thought of eating, by now, made him slightly nauseous all by itself. He suspected it would take a while for him to get used to eating properly again. The twins were asking the impossible, anyway. Hadn't he managed a whole plate of fruits already? What did they want, to stuff him like a pig? Harry snorted at the mental image of a Harry-pig with green eyes and black hair, tied over a happily blazing fire. He had pretty much come to the conclusion that elves were all vegetarians, so they probably weren't going to fatten him up to eat him for snack.
"I see the twins have decided to adopt you", Lagorind grinned at him from his left. "It is a good thing, since they have been growing discontent with the lack of activity as of late. Perhaps now they will have something else to occupy their minds."
Harry looked at Lagorind with a horrified expression on his face.
"You'd dump me to their mercy? You're crueler than you look, Lagorind", he complained, giving the peach on his plate a particularly vicious poke.
"Whatever did the poor fruit do to you, child?" an amused voice asked from the left side of Lagorind. Harry peered around the elf and took in the tall figure sitting there. He wasn't an elf, that much was clear - he was a lot more muscled, scruffier and rougher than them, and obviously missing the telltale pointed ears. This must be the elusive Estel, then. He looked strong, and even with the lack of elvish features managed to convey an aristocratic air. Perhaps spending enough time with the elves did that to you. Maybe Harry would manage it some day, himself.
"I have a name, you know. H- ..Eryndir. You could use it", he informed the man. The man laughed quietly, a sort of gruff, chuckling sound that Harry found himself liking instantly.
"And I'm Estel. Lagorind has told me a lot about you - I swear, not a minute passes without him mentioning your name. Just earlier he forgot his sword, so intent he was on the story of your meeting with Lord Elrond", Estel told him. Lagorind choked on his mouthful of food and started protesting wildly, but his cheeks were tinged a telling pink, leaving no doubt of the truthfulness of the tale. Harry grinned wildly.
"It is no wonder - an elfling, of all things! We are all overjoyed by the appearance of young Eryndir", Mereniel came to save the poor man from behind them. Harry turned his head to look at the she-elf, a question in his eyes.
"I thought you looked like you were finished, Eryndir. We should head to your rooms, I am sure the day has been long and you would like to rest. You are still recovering, after all", Mereniel smiled at him but aimed a warning glare at the other elves with the last note. They all shared a sheepish glance before wishing Harry good night and turning back to their foods. Harry couldn't help but notice the several disappointed looks that followed the two as they left the dining hall and made a note to never be found alone. He didn't fancy being smothered to death by overly eager creatures, no matter how fair and majestic they were.
When they reached Harry's current dwellings, Mereniel insisted on helping him get changed into his nightwear - it was a new, white robe instead of the one from the morning - and combing his long hair. There was a torch lighting the room with soft, golden glow, and Harry found himself relaxing with the soothing feel of the comb brushing through his long, black strands. He felt like purring and curling up to sleep right there in the chair.
"You have very nice hair, Eryndir", Mereniel murmured to him, twirling a loose strand near his ear in a thoughtful fashion. "It is as black as Lady Arwen's, but with a green shade... I wonder where you get that from. I have never heard of an elf with green tinged hair, before."
Harry paused in the middle of his yawn. It really was no use asking him. He hadn't even had the hair before coming to this place, so how would he know where the green came from. Though hearing Mereniel comment on it, it seemed to be yet another thing to set him apart in here. It made him wonder if he wasn't a full elf. Creature inheritances weren't that uncommon, so perhaps he was only part - but being a part human wouldn't explain the green either, so maybe that wasn't it. Come to think of it, would his new body suffer the same illness he had in his world? If it was made with the same genetics, it might. He wasn't sure where the cancer had come from, but it must've been in his body for a while, and probably helped along by his dna, somehow. He didn't want to get sick. Would the immortality Lagorind had mentioned protect him from it? Was he even immortal if he wasn't a real elf?
Harry sighed, drawing Mereniel's attention from her own thoughts and making her frown.
"What is the matter, Eryndir?" she asked worriedly, laying the comb down on the nightstand and straightening the collar of his night gown.
"Nothing, I'm just tired I guess", Harry offered quickly, attempting a smile. Mereniel didn't look overly convinced but allowed him to distract her with getting the elfling in the bed and properly bundled in the lush blankets.
"Good night, Eryndir", Mereniel whispered after she deemed everything to her satisfaction, standing at the doorway.
"Good night, Mereniel", Harry whispered back, watching the woman extinguish the torch and close the door, her soft footsteps fading away down the stone corridor. The elfling lay in the silence of the room for a long while, watching the sky outside, unable to sleep. He finally drifted off to the gentle caress of the wind reaching for him through the open balcony. He dreamed of his faraway home and family, crying near his empty hospital bed.
Harry came back to the real world with the realization his eyes were already open and the sun was much too bright for such ungodly hours. No matter he didn't know what the hour was, it was always too early for waking up to sun induced blindness. He sat up in his bed, rubbing his eyes and wondering how he had managed to sleep with them open. He didn't think it was a habit of his, or at least no one had ever told him if it was. He was pretty sure Charlus would have made fun of the fact, though, so maybe it was a new occurrence. It didn't really matter anyway.
Yawning widely, Harry stretched and was pleased to note that the small aches from yesterday were completely gone. He idly wondered if his body would revert back when he found his way to his own world, then realized it was better not to think of it. If he he thought about it too long, he might decide he didn't want to go back - being so healthy was great after all the time spent ill and in a hospital.
As he got up to brush his hair, he wondered if Mereniel would come by soon to make sure he got dressed 'properly', since apparently he couldn't be trusted with his own clothes. He didn't have any idea what time it was though. For all he knew, it could've been 8 in the morning or three in the evening. Someone would've woken him up before that, though - right?
A knock on the door stopped his worrying and he called out a short 'Enter' while continuing the battle with his uncooperative hair. Really, for all he loved the thing, it was way too unruly and got tangled so easily... Though it still beat the option of not having any.
"Good morning, Eryndir", two cheerful voices greeted him in duet from the doorway. Harry felt like groaning. Even though the twins were fun and good company, he didn't feel like putting up with them so soon after waking up, especially when his brain wasn't working to its full capacity yet. Lagorind really should've watched his words more carefully. Self fulfilling prophecies were bitches.
"Morning", he answered the twins reluctantly when it became clear they were content to wait until he gave up the pretence of not seeing them. He got twin beaming smiles in return.
"Mereniel sent us to make sure you got dressed in something that wouldn't make a dwarf cry in horror", Elrohir told him helpfully. His only response was a slow blink and a tilt of head from the elfling. While they were having a battle of wits full with a staring contest, Elladan had dug into Harry's wardrobe and emerged with a set of clothes he lay on the bed.
"There, these should do. Now get dressed, Eryndir, we are taking you out", Elladan commanded, making Harry scoff at him before grudgingly reaching for the clothes laid out for him. He paused when the twins just stood there staring at him, making no move to leave. Harry furrowed his brow, looking pointedly between the two elves and the door. Nothing happened.
"For Merlin's sake!" Harry finally exploded. "Do elves have no sense of privacy? I'm asking you to leave while I get dressed!" He got identical deadpan looks for his troubles.
"Merlin?" Elrohir asked, while Elladan pointed out the obvious: "You are an elf too, you know."
"Yes, I'm an elf, and apparently the only one who respects the privacy of others!" Harry huffed out, ignoring Elrohir's question.
"Fine, fine, we're going", Elrohir told him raising his hands up in surrender. "No need to get so worked up over it, little elfling!"
Harry didn't answer and merely glared at them until they closed the door behind them, leaving him in his blessed peace and quiet. He sighed. If he was already so exhausted after five minutes of dealing with the twins, the day wasn't promising to turn out as well as it had started.
"Are you done yet?" a voice suddenly asked, Elrohir's face peeking at Harry from behind the door. He was answered by a shoe hitting him in the face and the enraged yelp from the elfling occupying the room.
The twins' idea of taking him out included horses and hours of riding. The two older elves were astounded when Harry told them he had never ridden a horse in his life, and had made it their mission to make him a natural born rider within a day. Harry was tempted to tell them how impossible that was but refrained simply because riding was actually quite fun, and the horses were really nice. They seemed to understand him without any gestures or words, going where he wanted the way he wanted before he even got to direct them.
"It's unfair! It took me weeks to get my horse to listen to me properly, and here you come and they act like you were their mother!" Elrohir complained, sulking on the back of his white stallion.
"Now, 'Rohir, it's not Eryndir's fault if he is a better rider than you", Elladan informed his brother cheerfully from the sidelines. He had opted to stay on the ground and make sure there were no accidents. Elrohir huffed irritably but went back to instructing Harry on the proper way of holding the reins, not that his mare seemed to actually need them.
At the end of their impromptu lesson, which had lasted quite long since the sun was starting to set by the time the twins deemed Harry decent enough a rider, the elfling climbed off his horse aching and sweaty but happier than he could ever remember being. Even if Elrohir laughed at the way his legs bent or he had to pat the horse goodbye and leave it in the hands of another elf (who kept stealing glances at him), Harry ignored this all with good cheer and chattered happily to the two, pleased elves as they headed to the private quarters for freshening up before dinner.
Harry was listening to the twins argue about the benefits of using a saddle or not when he faltered slightly as something at the edge of his mind tried to warn him. Even so, the Pull came as a complete surprise. Harry had barely enough mind left to recognize the feeling from his days of being sick, all of his willpower focused on fighting off the insistent tugging. He dimly realized he had stopped walking, and from the confused and apprehensive looks on his two companions' faces figured his expression must've been interesting, but didn't spare much attention to those details. The Pull was persistent and strong and he knew he had lost the fight, even before he felt his legs give out under him, one of the twins catching him as he fell. He saw the frightened face of Elladan and heard the elf's voice shouting something even as his vision wavered and he slipped into the familiar darkness.
A voice was calling his name. His real name. Harry thought this odd, for some reason, though he couldn't really say why. His mind was broken, scattered like fragments of glass across the mental path the Pull had dragged him along. His eyes were heavy and his thoughts slow, disoriented. His body felt like lead, his limbs useless objects he couldn't figure out enough to move them. The scent of illness hung over him like a storm cloud, ready to strike at him the moment he opened his eyes and got his panting breathing under control.
"Harry! Open your eyes!"
The voice calling him was relentless and Harry found himself grudgingly obeying it. He slowly struggled his eyes open half way, relieved at the dim lighting in the room. The white ceiling and walls were like a slap against his face, filling him with unexplainable panic as his mind fought to reorientate itself. Why was it so odd that he was inside a hospital, for that was obviously where the room was - that specific white shade was only found in health institutions like this one. Why did it feel like he shouldn't be here?
"Harry! You're awake - oh Merlin, we've been so worried", a female voice cried out as a weight suddenly settled next to him, dipping the surface he was on. A gloved hand reached to his face, stroking his cheek.
"W-" was all Harry managed to croak out, his voice cracking and ending in furious coughs. He wasn't sure what he would've said anyway - who, where, why, water, or maybe something else entirely.
"Wait a second, dear, I'll get you some water", the voice told him, and the weight on the mattress disappeared. It was soon replaced and a glass filled with cool substance appeared in front of his face, hands helping him keep his head up long enough to drink some of it.
"What happened?" Harry rasped in question, trying to open his eyes fully. The hands eased his head back down and the glass of water was placed on a nearby table with a soft clink.
"You've been very sick - the healer firecalled us last night. They weren't sure if you'd make it for a while. You're in isolation again, dear. You've been unconscious for a day", the voice - his mother, he realized - answered.
"A day...?" Harry asked, furrowing his brows in confusion. There was something wrong with that. Something wrong with this whole situation. What was...
The memories flooded his mind suddenly, as if someone had cast a reparo on the fragmented thoughts scattered around his head. The forest, the charm, the spider, Lagorind, Mereniel, Lord Elrond, the elves, the twins, the horse riding, the Pull...
"Why am I here?" he blurted out, finding the strength to force his eyes open in his desperation. Oh gods. He had been looking for a way back, but not like this - never like this. He was sick again, it was easy to tell. He struggled his right hand up from the bed, reaching for his head to confirm what he already knew - no hair. Only the fabric of the hat he used to cover the loss. Harry felt like sobbing aloud. What would the elves think? He remembered the panicked looks on the twins' faces. Was he dead in there? Had the place even existed? Had it all been just some trick of his ill mind, a hallucination of some kind? But no - he knew the difference between reality and dreams by now. The world had been too real, too strong, too there. There was no way to imagine all the details, all the scents, all the sensations. It had been real. It had to be real.
"What do you mean, sweetie?" his Mother asked, still sitting on his bed, stroking his cheek. She looked worried and confused by his question.
"I..." Harry floundered for something to say, to explain. What could he tell her? If he told of the other world, the elves, they would think him mad. Lilyanne and even Charlus might have believed him, but this was his mother. No matter how much he loved her, she was much too sensible, much too realistic to even consider the possibility her son was telling the truth, not recounting a dream or turning a raving lunatic on her.
"I'll go tell James and the kids that you're awake", Lily told him suddenly, apparently content with his non-answer. Maybe she was still out of it with his sudden awakening.
Harry watched his mother stride out of the room and turned to look at the room he was in. It was his usual room in the isolation ward - the window showed the sky and nothing else, since it was located higher, on the 7th floor, rather than the 3rd floor of his other room. He wondered what they had told Lilyanne and Charlus - had they been told he had almost died? Probably not. Even his father wouldn't do that. At least he hoped so.
"Lily told us you're awake", a quiet male voice spoke from the door. Harry turned to look at his father. James was inspecting the room, avoiding looking at his own son. Harry didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was always like this with his father. He would come to visit, look uncomfortable, try to exchange a few words, then decide he had done his duty as a father and leave. He always looked relieved when he left.
"Nice to see you too, father", Harry told the man.
Charlus and Lilyanne sprinted into the room past James' form, both jumping on the bed and hugging their brother fiercely. They were both wearing face masks charmed to sterilize their breath and gloves with similar spellwork on them.
"Mum said you were sick", Lilyanne told Harry, sniffling slightly.
"I was, but I'm all better now - see?" he told his little sister, ruffling his hair and smiling more happily than he felt.
"The doctors were whispering", Charlus informed him quietly, trying to keep his voice low enough that Lilyanne wouldn't hear. "They said you might.."
Harry shook his head, stopping his brother from continuing. He smiled more genuinely this time and ruffled his brother's hair as well - he hadn't done that in a long while.
"I'm just fine. The doctors are always exaggerating", he said. Charlus smiled a little shakily under his see-through mask and just hugged Harry once more before shifting to sit on the chair next to his bed. James still hadn't moved from the door.
"Harry, your eyes are weird", Lilyanne told the eldest brother suddenly, poking at his cheek. Harry blinked and looked at Charlus for clarification. The younger brother frowned and peered at his eyes for a moment before making a small sound of surprise.
"She's right - they do look kind of weird. They're somehow... greener than I remember. Kind of eerie, really", Charlus said.
"You wouldn't happen to have a mirror with you?" Harry asked, curious. Maybe something had followed him.
"No, I don't think so - Mum might have one, though. Hey! You made a necklace out of the charm I gave you! You didn't have to, it wasn't anything that special", Charlus exclaimed. Harry started and his hand flew to his chest as if it had a mind of its own, discovering the wooden block resting there, tied with a soft silk thread. He didn't even try to stop the wide smile that broke out on his face. The accessory was proof of the world he had just left behind. It had existed! He had really been there, met all those elves, been healthy and happy for the first time in his life. It hadn't been a dream!
"Why're you smiling, 'Ry?" Lilyanne asked, giggling herself at seeing her brother so happy.
"Nothing, squirt. Absolutely nothing", Harry laughed, hugging his sister close to him and prompting Charlus to join in, forming a chuckling and squirming group hug bundle on the bed, which was the scene Lily walked back to with the healers.
"Well, you certainly seem to be feeling much better", the healer, an old, balding man Harry had never liked drawled, writing something down on his notepad. "Since the emergency is over, we'll have to ask you to leave Mrs. and Mr. Potter, the visiting hours are long past. Young Mr. Potter will be just fine now."
Harry noted his mother didn't look at all happy with this but James was nodding and agreeing with the other man, shaking his hand and offering his thanks. Sighing, Lily turned back to Harry's bed, smiling at her eldest son.
"You heard what the healer said, Harry. I'll come visit you with Lilyanne and Charlus tomorrow - I'm sure Father will try to come soon, too", his mother told him. Harry snorted quietly, but only Charlus heard. The younger child offered him a sympathetic glance, rising from the chair and giving him one last hug.
Lilyanne didn't want to go yet and it took Harry some serious convincing, bribing and tickling to get his little sister to let go of him long enough for their mother to pick her up. Even then Lily was forced to carry her all the way from the room, much to James' dismay. Their father only offered a gruff 'take care' before hurrying out himself, leaving Harry alone to his thoughts. And boy did he have a lot of them.
Even though the necklace was proof that the other world existed, it didn't give him any more clues as to what the place even was, or how he had gotten there. Obviously his bodies here and there were separate, otherwise his family would've been looking for a lost child, not worrying over a sick one. So what did that mean? Any form of magic was ruled out, since it didn't allow you to switch between bodies unless you were some freak ghost with the gift for possessing stuff, and even then it wouldn't work since the worlds were somehow separate. Time travel wouldn't create a new body as far as he knew, though he could've been wrong. But even if it did, there was no way to travel that far in time.
In the end, Harry felt like he was left with even more questions than answers. At least he knew he wouldn't worry his family if he managed to find his way back to the elves - who were probably worried sick over him, right now. How did he get back there? Last time he had fallen asleep, he thought, so perhaps the key lay there. Except how many times in his life had he fallen asleep in his bed before and woken up just the same? Well, there was nothing lost trying, right?
With that thought, Harry settled down to try and get some sleep. Even if it didn't send him back to the elves, it'd at least take him away from the feel of illness and the white walls. Maybe he would dream of something nicer, like the forests near Imladris or going riding with the twins...
He fell asleep without even noticing the shift, and felt the Pull instantly tug him away.
End Chapter 4
AN: So, that's the latest chapter. This one was an annoying piece of work, kept bugging me and refused to be written. It didn't help that ideas for a MushishiHP x-over and a Twelve Kingdoms x HP x-over are bouncing around in my head, persistently vying for attention. I haven't started writing either of them, for the simple reason that I don't have the time or attention to spare.
As mentioned before, don't expect the next chapter for a while - I'll be busy with deadlines from now until Christmas or so. Have to make/buy presents too... * sigh *
Answers to reviews went ahead of this sentence.
brightsun89, Daku Mauji, Katsy17, BAD HERO, yukino89: Thank you!
popupman: That's... a rather ominous history. And kind of impressive. I know next to nothing about programming, but I imagine it's an achievement to do something like that, so young. Congratulations? Not too sure if I should say that since technically it was a worm and all, but... Yeah, well done. I think Glorfindel is older than Elrond, by the way, though I'll have to check to make sure. Guess that's a negative vote for him from you. And no, Harry won't become a woman just because he's an elf - he's still a man, thank heavens. Thank you for the review, again!
libsrevenge: The twins are fun to write since they're not nearly as formal as all the rest. Glad that you liked them, thank you for reviewing!
kura-wolfgoddess: Forest friends... For some reason that made me laugh. Are the bugs included in it? I hope so, they're much too underappreciated, poor things. I feel a little sorry for Erestor too, he's not really all that bad - just a bit stuffy. Thanks for the review~
Yana5: No, he's not in a coma - as you probably realized from this chapter. Thank you for reviewing!
calileane: I'm glad you like the disclaimer, though it's a little odd to hear that, since it's not even part of the story. But thanks anyways! I think I've read some x-overs with Lily and James alive but there being magic before. Quite a few actually, but in different fandoms. Twilight for one. The charm had a lot to do with Harry's sudden trip, but it's not the real culprit. And Ginny happily chokes on pop corn whenever somebody takes their eyes off her - thank you for the review~
Halimede: There is something there - well done with the guesswork, once again. I'm glad your worries were laid to rest, since I don't intend to go with such a cruel trick on the readers. I'm writing this for you, after all, so that would be just silly. I believe Elrohir and Elladan had a short appearance in the movies, perhaps in the director's cut or something - don't remember too clearly. Thanks for reviewing again!
Saharra Shadow: Harry's zoo is a happy little family of its own. Not sure if they'll be appearing a lot, but I'm glad you liked them nevertheless. Thank you for leaving a review!
To like: Shakespeare, indeed. I have one quote of his I rather like, but I won't bother writing it here now. In Finland we don't get to know his works all that well before university level, so I've only ever read two of them, sad as that is (and both in my freetime). I don't believe myself to be uneducated, so I'll take your word for not implying that - thanks for the review, I'm happy that you like the characters!
AnimeIceFox: I didn't really think of that too much when writing the scene, but I guess you're right. Huh. A lot of stuff will happen, hopefully interesting enough to keep you happy. The twins will give Harry a nickname - in fact they already have, in their heads. It'll just take a little while for them to call Harry by it, since they'll have to have a good relationship with enough trust between all three of them before they do. Erestor is The Fake-Snape! Thank you for reviewing!
Basia Orci: Thanks. And as an (un)interesting little tidbit of information, I've used that image you're using right now as my msn avatar several times. It's so cute...
Fire Dolphin: Well, I don't see Harry wearing a blue and yellow dress anywhen soon (who came up with that colour combination!), but otherwise he's your helpful, everyday Snow White. I don't think Elrond and Glory will get to see the whole zoo, but the twins will probably entertain them with the stories for years to come. Thanks for the review!
tamzingrace: You're the second to give me the image of Harry in a hideous yellow and blue dress, with a bow and dreadful hairdo... Not that I have anything against Disney or Snow White, since I love both, but still... Creepy. The twins will certainly do their best to drag him into trouble. And my hand's all better- didn't even leave a scar. Thanks for asking, though! And I have a grudge against Venys Flytraps, one tried to eat me once. Thank you for reviewing again!
(mysterious empty space): Mereniel is the name - but indeed, it slipped her mind mostly because it slipped mine. To give you an idea of my poor memory and short attention span, I can never remember my own age, and sometimes it takes me until my birthday to realize it is, in fact, my birthday. Though maybe that's just avoidance of the aging issue. I sure started early in that case. I'm glad you liked the zoo and thank you for the review!
Laura-Shi: Erestor got the short end of the stick, but someone has to. The elves from other settlements will come into picture with some time. Some of them will visit Rivendell, others he'll be meeting elsewhere, but that won't be for a while yet. Haldir will at least make an appearance in this fic, so rest assured on that front. Thank you for reviewing once more!
Kayls Cullen: The story is slow going atm, but there will be time skips in the future. I doubt anyone would want to read the next fifty or so years in detail, anyway. Still not sure of the pairing, but Legolas is in consideration. There's not enough love for the twins~ Thanks for the review!
I'll try to update before christmas, at least, but I'm not promising anything. Until next chapter~!