Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor Lord of the Rings
Summary: Eternity is a gift that comes with a price, but Harry never wanted it in the first place. How much more will he have to give up before he can finally find a stable home and just let himself be happy? Legolas already knows the answer and is just waiting for Harry to come round and listen.
Warnings: Slash. Harry/Legolas. Also, this does in fact stray from the LotR canon – obviously – post-RotK. Post DH
* * * Big thanks out there to ALL who reviewed, favourited, and alerted. I'm still in shock at how many people read it and wanted more. Thank you! (And I apologise for the few I wasn't able to respond to.)
All your comments, suggestions, compliments, and support were very much appreciated and gave me the energy and conviction to send this next chapter out to you as soon as I possibly could. So again, thank you. It was great to hear from so many readers and I hope this next part will be to your liking. * * *
Falling to Stranger Charms
Raise It Up
Legolas froze. Ederynion was asking for his company.
He had caught Legolas in his hunt and was now calling him forth. Legolas blushed at being called out for stalking, and then flushed even more when he saw the teasing smirk on the wizard's face.
Blushing or not, though, it was not in him to refuse.
Stepping lightly from behind the tree, fully into view, he quickly, yet with all the grace of an elf, walked towards Ederynion and jumped swiftly to take a seat next to him before the wizard could say otherwise. He almost sighed in relief when Ederynion did not pull away.
"I had not wanted to disturb your peaceful walk," Legolas offered by way of explanation for his odd behaviour of silently trailing him. He wondered just how aware the other was of Legolas' fascination with him. He hoped not too much, for Legolas would be both further embarrassed and more than a little upset at his feelings being purposefully ignored for so long, truth be told.
"You never seem to want to," Ederynion replied with what Legolas thought he caught as a roll of the eyes, "which is why I made the decision to break the silence for myself. Though I hope you do not mean that your presence will cause a disturbance, for I did not think elves were capable of being so noisy."
Ederynion was teasing him. He knew very well how boisterous elves could be in their merry-making, though Legolas believed he was referring to his people's ability to travel silently and give due respect to the wonders of nature in this particular instance.
So teasing was the only possible answer, which was quickly made quite obvious from the amused glint in Ederynion's eyes, the quirk of his lips, and the way the deep scarlet-coloured aura around him flickered to life with a childish gaiety around him. It made Legolas' spirit soar to see such a simple, happy emotion coming from the man that he almost forgot that Ederynion was making a jest at his expense.
Not to be outdone, and wanting to keep the smile on the man's face, Legolas tried to respond in kind. "True as that may be, we nonetheless find cause to when the occasion calls, and as I was not sure which way the wind would take my mood this afternoon, I dared not risk disturbing your commune with nature. Likewise, that hummingbird looked to be most taken with you, I would not have presumed to interrupt." He tilted his head towards Ederynion conspiratorially and smiled lightly, knowing he was being silly and hoping it would have the desired affect on Ederynion.
But the man just snorted lightly and gave a wan smile that was more of a polite acknowledgement than anything else. That wouldn't do. Where was his elvish wit and fun-loving sense of humour when he needed it? It wouldn't do for his thoughts to become all muddled at a time like this. This was his first private moment with Ederynion and he had to make the most of it. Spider and fly, bees and honey. Saying the first foolish thing that popped into his head wasn't going to convince the wizard to keep Legolas in his close company at all.
Legolas decided to change tactics and meet Ederynion's bluntness with some outright candour of his own. "Well I suppose now that I am here it no longer matters, at least for as long as you will allow me to stay. In which case I would like to put a question to you while you are at your leisure." Ederynion made no move to stop him or indicate that he would soon be taking his leave, so Legolas forged on.
"I have often wondered why it is you prefer the silence of the forest to the company of others, a trait which is by far more elfish than human?"
Ederynion, however, was not to be taken similarly off guard and didn't miss a beat before answering.
"Perhaps I am sparing others the dullness of my company, Prince Legolas," Ederynion replied with a blasé shrug, leaning more weight back onto his hands.
Watching the movement of Ederynion's body shift and stretch minutely as he sat, Legolas ventured to casually let his other hand fall close to one of Ederynion's under the pretence of leaning further back on the trunk as well, while feigning the motion of running his fingers across the soft bed of moss beneath.
It was clear from the curious, slightly wary green eyes glancing at him out of their corners that Ederynion was aware of Legolas close presence and wasn't sure what to make of it, but it heartened Legolas when Ederynion made no move to shift their positions.
Somewhat assured for the moment, Legolas deftly picked up where the conversation had left off.
"I would highly doubt that to be true, your supposed dullness, that is," he replied after a moment, "For you still do not fail to be the subject of conversation for many in court at least several times within the full cycle of a moon. How ever do you manage that and still repel my people with your companionship?"
"You never specified whether the conversations were in my favour or not." Ederynion tilted his head mockingly back at Legolas in mirror of his earlier gesture.
"I assumed that went without saying," Legolas shook his head in jesting scorn. "It is either all good or neutrally curious. And if the majority of it was bad I would likely never say so to your face to avoid the risk of being found on the wrong end of your spell work." He shot a wary look down to the holly wand stuffed haphazardly in the wizard's deep green tunic.
With that it was as though a damn had broken and a peal of laughter came forth. Ederynion fell back and clutched at his sides for several moments as he rode the merriment out in deep, heartfelt chuckles, choking out momentarily that, "No indeed, royal elvish decorum would certainly lean towards white lies in prioritising the act of self-preservation."
"Indeed," Legolas repeated distractedly, inwardly crowing in victory at the sound of laughter, and looking on in delight as he watched a bit of colour return to the wizard's cheeks.
Gladdened, his excitement tumbled out into words before he'd even known what to make of them. "It is delightful to hear you laugh so uninhibited, my dear Ederynion."
The response was immediate and withered the elf's joy just as swiftly as it had bloomed. Ederynion sobered quietly, sat up, and turned his head from Legolas' stare, suddenly seemingly embarrassed. Or maybe he was mad? Legolas wasn't sure.
He held his breath, watching Ederynion in tense silence, waiting for him to jump down and leave at any moment, all the while mentally kicking himself all the way to the Undying Lands. How rash and reckless of him to just blurt out something like that! What had he been thinking, he inwardly fumed, never taking his eyes off the mess of shoulder length black hair that gleamed blue in the sun and the tense shoulders that rolled forward like they carried a heavy burden.
But the seconds past and Ederynion didn't move from his spot. He eventually turned his head back to look out on the surrounding trees with a neutral, reserved expression on his face, but otherwise said nothing. The moment of gaiety was certainly lost, and so spectacularly so that Legolas had to wonder if he had not just dreamt it altogether. But at least Ederynion had not left; perhaps he was still willing to give Legolas a chance.
Silently breathing out a sigh of relief, Legolas decided that all was not lost and he would not be giving up just yet. Taking his cue from Ederynion, he relaxed and fell silent by his side, taking in the joys of nature. He didn't move from his position, leaning across the trunk of the tree, for a moment, and neither did Ederynion.
They passed the rest of the afternoon in stillness and peace; no more words were spoken. Legolas, though, was content for the moment that his company at least was being accepted by the elusive wizard.
It was a start.
You can't choose what stays and what fades away,
And I'd do anything to make you stay
Tell me what you want me to say
For reasons unknown, or perhaps just unspoken, Harry stayed in Mirkwood for the entirety of that year. He had planned on travelling south of the Gondor border and exploring what remained of the shadowy lands of Mordor that were said to be still barren of all greenery, but he no longer felt like leaving.
It was in confusion and deep contemplation that he made his way back to his little abode that day on an early autumn evening. Many things were weighing heavily on his mind, and his unusually long stay here and Legolas' daily company, along with the elf's strange ability to find him no matter where he went each day were only the tip of the iceberg.
Humming a vaguely familiar tune to himself that he couldn't quite place yet wouldn't leave the back of his mind, Harry climbed his way down a steep incline of dirt, boulders, and exposed roots. At the bottom was a tiny hidden valley, open to a miraculous spot of sunshine away from the shade of the surrounding trees.
Down the incline and through the valley ran a small stream of cascading waterfalls, which flowed down and wrapped around the base of a tall wall of rock. Growing oddly off the side of the wall, through small cracks in the stone was a small twisted and bent tree, leaning its body up towards the sun despite its precarious development. Its limbs had taken on a life of their own and reached out in all directions. One's eye would be immediately draw to its peculiar yet exuberant growth and consequently miss the other side of the rock, which was covered with hanging moss and hiding the entrance to Harry's small cottage, half built into the cool stone cave, half created from the small cop of trees that grew directly to the cave's right.
Harry was particularly fond of the place. Many of the elven homes were naturally part of the landscape, and then enhanced by the elves coaxing the trees to grow in certain shapes and patterns over the years. Added with a little bit of Harry's own brand of magic, he had constructed for himself a quaint little woodland house by the end of his first year in Middle-Earth that any elf would be proud of. And Harry was indeed quite proud of it.
He had never shown his place to anyone before, preferring to keep it hidden and have his own space where he could unwind and recuperate after a long day, where no one else could find him. But the following morning he would be breaking that unspoken rule when he opened the door to let the invited Legolas in.
For now though, he just let himself inside, relishing in the quiet and warm atmosphere that greeted him when he opened the door. But the familiar environment of darkened halls, the smell of cedar, and the hushed rustling of the trees greeting him home, did nothing to quell the churning in his stomach at the knowledge that come morning he would be opening his house to another person. A friend, yes, but still an additional person who would be climbing down the valley, walking over Harry's familiar steps, and meeting the trees that closed in Harry's walls.
Kicking the door closed behind him, Harry barely spared a glance to his travelling bag that lay neglected in the entranceway. It hadn't moved since Harry had dropped it there on his first day back from the Lonely Mountains over a year ago. He knew he should either put it away or make use of it and repack, but he wasn't sure what he wanted to do yet. So it stayed there by his door, a constant reminder of his indecisiveness every time he passed it.
But his indecisiveness on whether to leave or not was not his most pressing issue at the moment. Having his first ever guest in his little cottage in the Forest of Mirkwood was.
Groaning aloud as he made his way to the small pantry for a small snack instead of a full supper, he masochistically replayed the day's conversation in his head. He realised that he hadn't even given a second thought to inviting Legolas over at the time when Legolas had expressed an interest in seeing his home. In fact, it had seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea in the moment.
Curse Legolas' natural, charismatic elf magic for bringing out the social side in him with such ease. It was like he was on some kind of drug when in Legolas' company, and he only sobered and came back to his senses after the elf had left. Why were the signs not more obvious right from the onset? Like today for example…
Legolas was munching on a sweet apple, one from the bushel he had brought to greet Ederynion with that morn as they met up beneath the warped roots of a tree that was as old as the forest.
" –and apparently dwarf women have beards as long as the men, which explains the confusion on whether or not dwarves just spring up from the stone they care for." Legolas finished yet another story about his dear friend Gimli, also one of the Nine Walkers, with a laugh, calling forth answering chuckles from Harry as well.
"Their fascination with stone is something I still fail to understand, though," Legolas said later with a sigh after the both of them had come down from their merry laughter at the amusing regalement.
"I see that it is as precious to them as the forest and the stars in the sky are to my people, and I have seen the wonders of the Glittering Caves with my own eyes, yet their admiration for such cold, inanimate objects is baffling. Though I dare not speak such blasphemy to Gimli in respect of our differences, and neither do I mention this in jest to my people for they are not as respectful of the dwarves, as you well know."
Harry nodded. He understood that he was a good medium for Legolas to share his opinions and thoughts with, strictly belonging to none of the races found on Middle-Earth and thus being a fairly neutral party. And it did feel good to know that Legolas felt so comfortable as to confide in him with anything. At times it reminded him of a friendship he had had long ago with a brown-eyed, bushy-haired know-it-all and tall, gangly redhead with a ridiculous sense of humour.
"Pray tell me," Legolas said suddenly as he turned his body to fully face Harry as opposed to the side-by-side position with both of them staring out into the trees as they had been before, "What is it that so fascinates you, dear Ederynion? Be it Nature's wonders or some magic I know not? There must be something that holds your interest dearly as the forest's wonders do for the elves."
A puzzled look fell over Harry's face. "Like an obsession of some kind?" Legolas shrugged ambiguously and settled back, waiting patiently for Harry's answer.
Harry's immediate thought was Hermione and her love of books, or Ron and his fanatic devotion to the Chudley Cannons. But besides his once-love of playing the game of Quidditch, Harry could not really think of something he associated strongly with himself like the elves with the forest and the dwarves with their stone.
He lowered his eyes in thought, absently playing with the twice-bitten apple in his hand. Did he even have such a strong affinity as Legolas was asking? Did large destinies and the power to kill dark lords count?
Sensing his silence as loss for an answer, Legolas prodded him with another question. "Usually it is something you keep close to you, or have something to act as a reminder for you of the place you feel most at home."
At the mention of home Harry had a brief thought of Hogwarts and his four-poster in the Gryffindor Tower. But surely he did not have a piece of the castle with him, let alone anything from his life in the wizarding world. Well, other than his wand, that is. Perhaps magic? It was indeed the only thing he could connect to his life before Middle-Earth; himself and his magic. That was all he had left.
Would he come to forget his friends one day? Would he ever lose the memory of the thrill of flying on his broom, catching the snitch, lounging in the Gryffindor Common Room, laughing with his friends, collapsing in the dorm room at the end of the day, listening to his dorm mates snores 'lull' him asleep?
Such reminiscent were already so distant, so fuzzy, already fading...
His mood had taken a definite drop as Legolas' questions and presence dragged him deeper and deeper into another bout of nostalgia for his old home and friends, which now only existed in mere fading memories.
Oblivious to Harry's growing distress, Legolas continued to try to get an answer. "Perhaps something you decorate your home with? Like we elves surround ourselves with nature, some have collections of beautiful seashells or peculiar shaped nuts. What transforms the place where you rest your head for the night into a home?"
Harry shrugged noncommittally. He wasn't sure, as he didn't really think of his place as his home in the strictest sense. He did wish this line of questioning would end. This had long ceased to be fun several minutes ago.
Unfortunately Legolas wasn't done with him yet. "Perchance it is something you have not thought about consciously, but an outsider would be able to see what you could not." Legolas smiled at Harry's blank, evasive stare and waited a few seconds before saying, "I would most like to see your home some time to see what hobbies and interests hold you. Do you ever entertain visitors?"
And just like that Harry forgot his rule of keeping his space his own and obligingly gave Legolas the invitation he was after. Maybe it was more in an attempt to quiet the elf and move the topic of conversation along, but either way he was now roped into 'entertaining' a houseguest for tomorrow. In hindsight, he should have realised what the sneaky little elf was after when he refused to let the subject drop. Morgoth's bane!
Currently, though, as he lie in bed looking up at the aged roots that acted as his vaulted ceiling, conflicting emotions raged inside of him. On one hand, an odd sense of peace and contentment stayed with him, something he recognised from when he kept company with Legolas – otherwise labelled as the aftereffects of those elven drugs. On the other hand, nervousness at Legolas seeing his place tomorrow permeated his body and increased the queasy feeling in his stomach. He still wasn't sure whether this was a good idea or not, but knew there was little he could do about it now.
So trying to push tomorrow's problems from his mind, Harry forced his body into an uneasy sleep. And after tossing and turning half the night away, he eventually succeeded.
Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
Every demon wants his pound of flesh,
But I like to keep some things to myself,
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn.
The next morning it was raining, hard. Harry half expected Legolas not to show up; he half hoped that Legolas wouldn't show up. But when did a bit of rain ever stop an elf from getting to their destination? Especially one as stubborn and unrelenting as Legolas?
Legolas did indeed show up, bright and early, looking barely affected by the heavy water droplets that ran down his face, dampened his hair, and made his light, airy clothing stick to him like a second skin. When Harry opened the door and ushered him inside with a towel and a promise to give him the whole tour once he was dried off, he just smiled. Smiled as bright as the sun that was currently missing from the skies, and bade Harry a good morning.
"I must confess that I have not been down in this particular ravine before. I had wondered on my way here whether I had not taken a wrong turn; it seemed to lead me to a dead end. A trick of your magic, perhaps?"
Harry knew he was joking, for he had to have noticed coming in that it was just nature's natural magic at work, which Harry had been lucky enough to find, but he shook his head and rolled his eyes in answer anyway.
"You have a wondrous little piece of Almaren here." Legolas said in amazement, steely conviction in his voice. His head spun in every direction with wonder in his eyes as he spoke, looking at the curve of the entranceway made from the curvature of the roots, the natural light that shone through from the tiny cracks between stone and tree, and how the thick branches braided together and split down the middle to form open doorways and arches into each separate room.
Harry smiled at the praise and turned his head so that Legolas would not see the blush rising up from his neck. And between the sudden rush of activity in getting Legolas in and drying him off and then giving his friend a proper tour of everything, Harry forgot altogether to be nervous over Legolas seeing his place.
"A piece of Almaren indeed," Legolas sighed as they finally settled in for tea at the kitchen. "It is good that no other has been here for you would soon become the envy of every elf in Mirkwood if they were even to set eyes upon this place. I hope you know now that you will not be able to stop me from visiting you often now that I know where to find you."
Harry rolled his eyes for the second time that day, surprised to find that the idea of Legolas darkening his doorstep no longer seemed such an issue as he'd made it out to be the night before. Not that it mattered though, for Legolas was right about knowing where he lived now. And in any case, when did Legolas not know where to find him?
Harry said as much, the reflexive teasing pouring from his lips without thought before adding, "Your silver tongue has not failed yet to bring a grin to my face, no matter the circumstance, so I am sure you are well aware by now that you can get anything out of me that you wish." He grinned playfully as he wondered aloud to the ceiling in mock thought, "I wonder whether it is a trait of the elves or born from being the well-mannered son of a king."
But far from rising to the challenge of wits, Legolas merely smiled softly in return. "No matter where the skill comes from I am grateful for it since it has long been my goal each day to make you smile."
Harry, for the first time in many decades, felt truly embarrassed and blushed brightly in response. He had not been expecting that, he didn't think anyone had ever said something like that to him before, and suddenly having Legolas in his home did not seem as innocent as he had first thought.
Busying himself with his tea, Harry refused to meet Legolas' eyes for several moments. It felt like fourth year with Cho Chang all over again, except….different this time. Just different. Legolas didn't like him that way after all, right?
It wasn't but a few seconds after that thought that Legolas picked up a new topic of conversation, seeming to sense Harry's discomfort. He began asking more questions about the structure of Harry's cottage and goaded Harry into explaining some of the magic behind it that no elf would ever be able to accomplish in quite the same way. And just like that they fell back into a comfortable rhythm, awkward moment purposefully forgotten, at least on Harry's part.
In the end they never did figure out what Harry's secret affinity was, but by the time Legolas left that evening, just as the sun was going down, they had forgotten all about the flimsy excuse Legolas had used to wheedle his way through the door. It didn't really matter any more; it went without saying that Harry's little cottage was now officially open to the sweet-talking prince – just as Legolas had planned and expected no doubt. And closing the door behind the fair-haired elf that night, just as his eyelids were starting to droop, Harry found that he was okay with that.
I have this breath and I hold it tight
And I keep it in my chest with all my might
I pray to god this breath will last
As it pushes past my lips
It was amazing what you could learn about a person in a few months' time. It was amazing how you could learn more about said person in one meaningful conversation than you were able to in the seventy-some years you had known him.
Upon simple observation, it was easy to see that Ederynion was polite enough, engaging in conversation and merriment when he was called forth, never refusing, and was liked by all the elves of Mirkwood, which was no mean feat, considering. It seemed almost impossible for one man to be so kind of heart and pure of soul, but Legolas knew him to be very genuine.
Now it was the little things that caught Legolas' attention, reading the subtle hints about Ederynion's character from the simpler acts he performed everyday without thought. Legolas liked how Ederynion didn't think twice about instantly drying Legolas' hair with his magic when Legolas came through his door on a day the skies were thundering and pouring buckets, but would never lift his wand to do the same when boiling the water for some tea. And how Ederynion had come to favour a sword or bow equally to his wand when fighting off some of the bigger, nastier giant spiders and smelly orcs that lived near his father's borders. Ederynion had once confessed that the motivation to use magic to fight in Middle-Earth had waned when he was not dodging returning hexes from his enemies, and that just felt weird.
But it mattered not as Ederynion was as good as any elf wielding a blade, having been taught by the elves themselves, though not as good as Legolas with a longbow.
Still, though he surprisingly fit in very well with the elves of Mirkwood – the only human to do so in many millennia and be granted such acceptance and generosity – he was still different.
For one, he was a wizard, which made him, in many ways, an outsider, no matter how well liked he was. And Ederynion still had so many secrets he refused to share. Politely refused, of course, and was subsequently able to change the subject so fast and fluently that the questioning elf was far from insulted or mad, but instantly reengaged in the conversation again. But all the same he remained partly shrouded in mystery.
Legolas was willing to wait patiently for Ederynion to open up, but though the light was no longer fading from the wizard's spirit, it was not getting noticeably brighter either. It wasn't that Legolas needed the man to fall head over heels in love with him, he just wanted him to stop fading and find his place among the living. The immortal living, if he could have his way.
It seemed morbidly ironic that the one he falls in love with just happens to be human, who also just happens to be immortal, yet is the one immortal man who has chosen to fade from the land instead of embracing his immortal life. It was confusing and frustrating and depressing on so many levels. But every so often something amazing would happen, a piece of the puzzle would be solved, a boon would be offered, however small, and Legolas' faith would be renewed.
It was over tea, sitting down at Ederynion's kitchen table that the biggest, most significant, momentous event took place since Legolas' first meeting with Ederynion.
It had been a few months since Legolas had been invited into his friend's home for the first time, and since then it had become routine for Legolas to stop by every morning for breakfast. Sometimes he would come carrying a basket of food from his father's halls, other times he sat down for one of Ederynion's specialty home-cooked meals, which were usually much better than anything Legolas brought, yet Ederynion always insisted that he appreciated the gesture of not having to cook each day.
On one such autumn morning, when the crisp air was just coming in through the walls and the two companions were silently relishing in the quiet morning atmosphere and admiring the changing colour of the leaves outside, Legolas spoke up and broke the comfortable silence.
"Autumn has always been my very favourite season here in my home. The forest always seems fresher, livelier at this time of year. Everything is dying that should be so that new growth can occur in the spring; a time of change and a soft farewell to the summer months until next year. Don't you agree, Ederynion?"
Ederynion smiled as he looked outside on the same scape Legolas was favouring and he started to nod in placid agreement, but then stopped and seemed to freeze for a moment, like he was caught by a sudden stray thought. If Legolas didn't know any better, it would seem like he was raging an inner battle with himself. But it lasted only a few seconds before he seemed to steel himself, and said, "Harry. Call me Harry."
Ederynion looked almost as shocked as Legolas felt as soon as the words came out. Legolas didn't even have to ask for him to clarify.
"It's my name from my home, the world I was born in. I know it's been over seventy years, but I still think of the name as my own. And I'd like, I mean…you can call me that, if you want, I suppose."
Legolas was speechless. He was completely struck dumb. Harry. Harry was his name. Harry.
Legolas could only nod mutely, not able to express the feeling of gratitude that overwhelmed him at being granted such a high honour, being entrusted with his companion's real name. He felt completely powerless against the huge smile that spread across his face in response to that thought.
"Harí," he said slowly, letting the new sounds roll around in his mouth with pleasure. "That is much more fitting than Esselóra, though my tongue is still partial to Ederynion, for it is how you came to be here with me.
"And," Legolas quickly continued with a joking smile upon seeing his friend shift uncomfortably in his seat at Legolas' words, "Randir, 'the wanderer', is also a nickname I am particularly fond of, for the Valar must have instilled in you, upon your arrival to Arda, a desire to wander in your blood far stronger than any elvish longing for the sea. Unless, of course, I speak too soon, and you have always had this predisposition to travel and explore."
Harry – for that seemed so much more intimate and fitting right there sitting cosily in his kitchen– looked down at his hands clasped atop the table and seemed to have left Legolas' company for a world of his own all inside his head. He seemed to be thinking deeply about something, maybe on Legolas' comment on his need to travel and explore, maybe regretting revealing his name to Legolas. Legolas hoped that was not the case. But either way, his thoughts were impenetrable to Legolas. It was all so much so suddenly. Perhaps pushing him to tell more about his past was too much too soon.
Legolas tensed slightly but kept his peace for the moment, unsure if he should apologise for his brash words or keep Harry silent company as he entertained his deep thoughts. But something else niggled in the back of Legolas' mind that demanded to be asked; a thread connected the revelation of Harry's name, the wizard's wandering nature, and something else.
After a moment, he felt compelled to quietly voice that final concern that he could not seem to keep to himself any longer. Unfortunately he frequently tended to drop many inhibitions when in Ederynion's – no, Harry's – company. Most of the time he found that he didn't mind, believing that the more he opened up to Harry, the more likely Harry would return the favour.
Like sharing his name from Earth.
So without further thought, Legolas blurted out and asked, "Why do you insist on being so alone all the time?" For even though Legolas had managed to wiggle his way into Eder –Harry's life, and was the only other person to do so successfully, he was still not where he wanted to be.
At times it felt as though their friendship hung in a tentative balance and one wrong move, one inappropriate question would end it all. Ederynion still preferred his solitude much of the time and Legolas still felt the boundary between them, a boundary that should he dared to cross, it could crumble all the hard work Legolas had done to situate himself by Ederynion's side into nothing. Then it would be all for naught and Legolas would have nothing to show for it because Ederynion would be completely erased from his life.
But now he was Harry. Just being able to call him that was certainly a step in the right direction, Legolas confirmed. Perhaps he had already made it past the invisible barrier, at least part way?
The wizard truly made his head hurt something fierce at times, running himself around in circles with every word he spoke. But then he would just look at the man who still appeared so lost, even when sitting comfortably among the tree of Legolas' home, and Legolas would remember why all this was more than worth it.
He was lucky enough, by the Valar's will, to have found his match, someone of similar spirit, similar disposition, and similar soul. He would not let himself give up on that goal. Ever.
Still though, biting his lip, he was unsure if he was not testing Harry's patience and boundaries so soon after vaulting over such a big barrier between the two of them.
Legolas opened his mouth to turn the conversation back to lighter topics of Harry's house, travels, adventures, and magic, but Harry opened his mouth first and drew in a soft breath before Legolas could speak.
"I don't know, really," he said, suddenly sounding very much like the lost boy he sometimes looked. "I never used to want to be alone when I was younger. I always longed for a good home where I would always be welcome. I craved for attention and love from my family, which I never got." As he spoke with a low, guttural voice, his fingers reached out to trace the grains of wood on the table and he kept his eyes trained down.
Legolas longed to take his hand and run his own fingers down Harry's palm, wrist, arm, the side of his face, and through his hair in a soothing manner that most elves enjoyed. But he stayed his entire body and let Harry continue, sensing that there was more to come.
"Then I was thrust into a foreign world, not this one, mind you, but the wizarding world, after being told my whole life that there was no such thing as magic, where I ended up receiving all the wrong kind of attention." He paused and Legolas guessed there was much more to that story than Harry was willing to share at the moment. He had told them about the wizarding world and some about his formative years learning, making friends, and overcoming a few challenges thrown at him, but like the war Harry obviously played an important part in, these uglier, more dangerous aspects of the wizarding world remained taboo.
"I guess after I left that all behind me, I decided that no attention was for the best, after all. And being by myself was more comfortable and safe. Now I just don't know how else to live."
Legolas' heart lurched painfully in his chest. How could a child be led to think such a thing? Every child should be loved and wanted. Harry, who was so genuine and kind-hearted, should be loved and wanted. Always. Always.
Legolas' determination to bring Ederynion –Harry now– back from fading was further resolved right then. He would teach the wizard how to live again, and give him all the right kinds of attention he deserved, until Harry realised it too.
Sooner or later in life, the things you love you lose
Harry couldn't understand it.
He seemed to be spending most of his waking moments with Legolas, who had suddenly become stuck to his side like a bur. If the king did not expect Legolas home to greet him each evening and morning, Harry was sure the prince would finagle his way to kip on Harry's living room floor each night.
And oddly enough, the king permitting and despite Harry's better judgement, he would probably let him. Legolas had wormed his way so thoroughly into Harry's life by now that a part of him knew he'd be lost if Legolas failed to show up one morning or stopped sharing stories of his adventures, friends, and experiences over his long years on Middle-Earth.
Harry was finding himself with a slew of odd emotions that warred against his stone façade, went against every mental wall he had put up since coming here. And yet could not truly find it in himself to care. He had wanted a good friend, after all. Someone close to him like Ron and Hermione had been in his life. That's what Legolas was, a friend. A very good friend whose company, conversation, and even his silent presence when there was no need to talk, Harry enjoyed.
Harry felt happier than he had had in a long time and knew all too well that Legolas was the source and cause.
That also got him thinking, dreading, waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was always another shoe. Harry's life had never been so simple as to allow him to actually keep any bit of happiness for too long. Nothing good in his life ever stayed. He could site as far back as the little things he had had for brief periods at the Dursleys, or Sirius, or even his comfortable home and life with his friends after the war, but this...
This loss he knew instinctively would be the greatest of them all.
But he also knew, for such was the way of life, that if he didn't fade soon, Legolas would end up leaving him one way or the other. Maybe the Mirkwood elves would finally kick him out, or he would finally end up on the losing end of a battle with an orc, giant spider, or some other undesirable creature that roamed Middle-Earth. Happiness just wasn't in Harry's future. Doom and gloom seemed inevitable.
So maybe he wanted to let Legolas know what his friendship meant to him. Maybe he wanted to keep Legolas by his side forever. Even just to hear him say his name each day. He was Harry now, not Ederynion – unless Legolas was feeling playful or saw need to bring Harry's many other names up. But Harry knew if he voiced any of these desires, it would all end that much sooner.
Then again, this waiting, this not knowing when the fallout would occur was also killing him. The longer his time with Legolas went on, the more his mind would be tricked into thinking that maybe none of it had to end. But that was folly. He couldn't afford to be foolish anymore. Despite his young appearance, he was too old for childish notions of perfection and happily-ever-afters. Maybe this was what Gandalf had meant in giving up his foolish notions of perfection. Maybe in his own way he was warning Harry that he couldn't have it all, that he would have to learn to accept that and settle with his lot in life at some point.
Who knew really?
In any case, the answer was slowly becoming clear to Harry. Why delay the inevitable and let his hopes raise all the higher only to fall and crash down spectacularly when the time came?
Sometimes I wish for falling
Wish for the release
Wish for falling through the air
To give me some relief
Because falling's not the problem
When I'm falling I'm in peace
It's only when I hit the ground
It causes all the grief
The next morning, instead of going out to meet Legolas in the forest to see the sun rise on top of the highest trees as they had been doing for the past several days, Harry stayed home and packed his travel sack.
He was finally doing it. He would finally leave Mirkwood and perhaps go farther north this time, past the Grey Mountains. Maybe see the old elven forest of Beleriand and beyond. Little was known of what lay out there, but perhaps Harry could spend the rest of his days finding out, writing down his findings in a Bilbo-like fashion, and pass his notes on to the first Dúnedain he encountered.
He was just in the kitchen, packing as much food into his bottomless bag as he could –which was obviously everything he had in his pantry if he so chose – not knowing where his travels might take him and when he would be able to find the next available food source, when there came a knock on the door.
Harry contemplated staying as still as possible and pretending he was not home. Legolas would leave eventually, possibly thinking he'd missed Harry on his way out to meet him.
"I know you're in there, Harry." No such luck apparently. "I know not whether you have somehow taken ill or are hiding, but either way I will sit out here all day until you let me in. We elves are well known for our virtue of patience."
Harry closed his eyes, sighing in defeat, and moved to let his friend in. Legolas would probably let himself in eventually if Harry did not. Or he would actually stay out there all day just to make Harry worry and wonder insanely whether he was okay until Harry caved and let him in anyway.
Upon swinging open the door, Harry immediately noticed that Legolas' face was flushed, his hair a tad off kilter, not neatly braided up and out his face as usual, and his eyes were wide and wild with a mix of untamed emotions Harry dared not name.
Silently, Harry stepped back to let him in, more than a little disconcerted by his friend's appearance. Yet at the same time, he feared that if he opened his mouth to ask he would somehow give himself away. Legolas must not know anything of his plans until it was too late, Harry was long gone, and Legolas realised he wasn't worth the effort to follow.
"I am sorry for not coming out today," Harry began, lying with a scary ease, "I must have overslept and lost track of the time." He offered a small smile long enough to be believable before turning his face to close the door. "Tea?"
Legolas, however, did not seem to be placated in the least, but he allowed himself to be led into the kitchen.
Harry tried to stay several steps ahead of him and once he entered the kitchen, quickly swept around the table to hide his bag in the pantry before Legolas could see.
Unfortunately, elves were not known for being quick and agile for nothing.
"What is that?" Legolas asked accusatorily, pointing blatantly to the bag spilling over onto the floor by Harry's foot near the open pantry door.
Kicking at the bag in vain to move it further out of sight, Harry waved an idle hand and quipped, "Nothing. I was just thinking of paying a visit to Queen Eowyn and King Faramir," he said with a shrug of his shoulders. "I am sure I have been indulging your attentions for far too long now; surely the Prince of Mirkwood has other things he is expected to do with his time than cater to the whims of the local wizard." He smiled it off as a joke, but at the same time he had given himself an alibi for his future absence, as well as subtly offered Legolas an easy out for 'severing ties' with Harry if he wanted. Unlike Percy's letter to Ron in fifth year, he knew that this would not turn out to be any joke.
Legolas just stood staring at Harry for a moment, going back and forth from the pack and spilt food on the floor to Harry's guarded expression. Ignoring the comment about how he would prefer to spend his time, Legolas said, "You don't need all that for a trip to Rohan."
Harry mentally banged his head against the table. How thick was this elf? Did he not see what Harry was trying to do for him?
"No, I'm thinking of maybe travelling in a different direction than the Road, I'm not sure yet."
An awkward silence stretched, as Legolas didn't respond at first, just continued to stare. Then asked, "Why?"
Harry gave up on all pretence of hiding the pack and walked a few paces to slump down into a seat. "I don't know. I just felt it was time for a change. I've already stayed much longer than I usually do as it is." Much longer, he silently added.
His admission was met with a tense, pregnant pause; Legolas seemed inclined to neither move from his spot frozen in the doorway nor speak and voice his opinions on Harry's plans.
Getting tired of the awkward moment, Harry got up and began to make the promised tea. He didn't even have to ask, he knew how Legolas liked his.
As he was taking down two cups from the cupboard, he heard Legolas call his name softly, forcing him to turn around and look at the elf, who was finally sitting at the table in his regular spot, rather stiffly as though his legs had suddenly given out, and turned pleadingly toward Harry.
"Please don't leave me," Legolas whispered, somehow looking so very young and lost sitting there with such an open expression on his face.
"Huh?" Harry set the cups down harshly and ignored the bubbling of the water unsettled inside the kettle on the stove. The way Legolas had said that…it almost sounded like…surely Harry had misunderstood. Misheard. False hopes. Harry wouldn't let Legolas get the best of him. Not now. Not when he was so close to finally leaving before it was too late. (Because it wasn't too late, he told himself harshly in response to the derisive snort he was sure he had heard in the back of his mind.)
Legolas interrupted his mental conversation with himself and began with a deep breath, "I've watched you over the years, fading; you're just letting yourself fade from this world like you don't care. I beg of you to stop, to come back, and stay…with me."
Harry blinked in shock. With Legolas? Was Legolas truly offering what Harry thought he was? No. He couldn't be. He just couldn't be. Friends. He had already told himself it was just a good friendship that would meet its end like so many others, no matter how great, but friendship nonetheless.
Even if Legolas was so disillusioned and spending time with Harry because he fascinated him somehow, the glamour would eventually fade and Legolas would tire of Harry once the mystery was solved, once there were no more questions to ask and the stories and tales of wonder dried up.
Or else Legolas would just change his mind eventually and leave sooner or later with no warning. He would find out that Harry wasn't worth the effort of committing to a serious relationship with and abandon him like so many others had before. Harry couldn't even believe he was entertaining this idea to begin with. It was preposterous.
Besides, Harry liked being alone. He was meant to be alone. Anyone with a brain could see that. So he may as well just nip this whole ordeal in the bud right now.
"I know this may seem a bit sudden," Legolas continued before Harry could protest. And instead Harry was shocked into silence once again, though this time from the way Legolas was rushing over his words like Harry had never heard any elf do before. "And I wanted to wait longer," he hurriedly added, "but you can't tell me you haven't –", Legolas broke off and seemed to think better of what he had been about to say. So he swiftly changed tactics.
"We have the same aura, you and I." His voice had evened out a bit more now that he was in explanation mode, but Harry was no less shocked. This was getting weirder and weirder.
"I noticed it the day we met and have been able to think of nothing else since," Legolas persisted, leaning forward in his chair in earnest, as though he could hear Harry's thoughts. "We are of like minds, like souls. You are my match in every way, and every fibre of my being screams like a child terrified, in fear of losing you. Whether it be a result of your own wish to fade, from your rejection, or both."
Legolas stopped and searched Harry's eyes, as though waiting for Harry to stop him there before he said the words that would clinch it all. And though not sure if this was in either of their best interests, Harry couldn't find it in himself to call Legolas to stop. His voice had lodged itself in his throat and wasn't budging.
"But if you'd let me," Legolas began again tentatively, his voice strangely breathy as he stared Harry straight in the eye and fisted his hands in his lap. "I would be the happiest elf alive if you would allow me to attend to your every need and become the home you so desperately seek."
Legolas stood up and stepped closer to Harry. Heartened when Harry did not shy away, he took the last few steps until he was standing directly in front of him, only a couple hand lengths apart. Harry pressed himself further back against the counter, but otherwise made no move to get away. First his voice, and now his body wasn't listening to his brain either! Too close. Way too close!
"I would keep you safe like no other and make you feel so loved and protected. For eternity. You deserve it…Harry. You deserve peace. You deserve to be loved. And I would love you like no other, on my word as an elf."
Legolas had finally come out and said it; he wanted to love him. Love him. Him, Harry. Unbidden, and not entirely sure where the sudden surge of emotions had come from, Harry felt himself choking back a sob that threatened to build its way up his throat, blocking all attempts at air getting into his lungs. His chest screamed in agony and he knew it had all to do with the desperate look in Legolas' silver eyes that promised painful death to their owner if Harry refused.
Refused to be loved. Refused to accept a loving, safe, protected, welcoming home from the one elf that had not left his side since the moment he had arrived in Mirkwood. Taking the whole situation in, this new development shouldn't be this much of a shock really.
If truth be told, which Harry had been very desperately trying to ignore for a long time now, Harry had guessed that Legolas' trailing, ever-present figure had been more than just simple curiosity about Harry's brand of magic and the wizarding world, or even his enjoyment of Harry's company.
Legolas had been fascinated with him since day one in a way Harry had only ever seen when he had watched Ron and Hermione interact. And even their bouts of staring into each other's eyes tended to pale in comparison to how Legolas looked at him. It was like… as though… Harry knew he should be able to admit it now, now that Legolas had come out and bluntly said it, but…
He looked at Harry as though he had fallen completely and desperately in love with him.
Harry had tried to ignore it, write it off as something else; funny elvish ways, mixed signals, delirium. But he had known. He had known since he had invited Legolas to sit by his side instead of trailing fifty paces behind him, had known since he first invited him into his house and Legolas had said he wished for nothing more each day than to make Harry smile, and maybe he knew before then as well. But now that Legolas had admitted it aloud, how could Harry, in good conscience, ignore it any longer?
And had his reactions to Legolas' stares ever been completely indifferent? He knew his body liked to betray him at the most inopportune moments, but this was so much more than ignoring gooseflesh raising on your arm, or enjoying the occasional shiver down his spine when Legolas let a casual touch graze his shoulder.
His insides squirmed under the scrutiny coming both from himself, in a voice that sounded much too similar to Hermione's, and Legolas, who had not taken his eyes off Harry since he had started speaking. But did either of them really even know what they were getting into? Did Legolas even understand the meaning of 'love' as Harry thought of it?
I'm not scared to jump
I'm not scared to fall
If there was nowhere to land
I wouldn't be scared at all
Finally finding his voice after a moment of controlled breathing and listening to his pounding heartbeat, Harry spoke his main concern with Legolas' promise. "Eternity is a very long time." He wished his voice had been a little stronger, but given the fact that a balloon was still lodged deeply in his throat and something, maybe a snake, was currently taking residence in his stomach, he was surprised any sound had come out at all.
But more importantly, he thought, who would want to be with me for an eternity anyway? Harry didn't want to be with himself for eternity, how could he put that fate on this brilliant, handsome, pure of heart, selfless elf? And even the ones with the kindest of intentions would leave eventually. That was just the way of things. There was no escaping it. Harry knew this to be true.
Legolas smiled softly and reached up a hand, slicing the remaining space between them to card his fingers through Harry's hair, and then lifted the other to cup the side of Harry's face in a gentle caress, effectively brushing all thoughts of worry from Harry's mind with it in an instant, banishing all thoughts into oblivion, in fact.
"That's what I am hoping for."
Getting control of his tight breathing, or rather trying to, and recollecting his thoughts from whatever dusty corners they had flown off to before, Harry reasoned that he was mad, Legolas was. No two ways about it. Completely mental. Didn't know what he was saying.
Harry tried clarifying again to make sure Legolas understood completely, which was a hard thing to do – think clearly and form a good argument – while a gorgeous elf who had already become so much more than a simple friend held your face softly, securely in his palm.
"With me?" Harry said at last, clearing his throat, hoping to rid his voice of the high-pitched waver it had taken on as of the last few minutes. "I'm not an elf. I'm not anything. I don't even belong here as it is, and though your father and people, and you of course, have been so nice to let me stay in Mirkwood, I –" he cut himself off as he realised that he was rambling and not doing a very good job of getting his point across to boot.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out again, Harry decided to square his shoulders and just be blunt about it, just like those who had told him this in the first place a very long time ago had been while a cupboard door had slammed in his face.
"You don't want me for eternity, putting up with me for that long, weighing you down. I'm useless, I'm a freak of nature, I'll–," the steady tone he had been gaining faltered and he slipped into a whisper, "I'm just a burden."
Are you strong enough to stand protecting both your heart and mine?
Legolas sighed and smiled sadly with a pained, incredulous expression.
"I do want eternity with you," he said slowly, clearly, and with so much conviction that even Harry was almost convinced. Almost.
"Who else could there possibly be?"
A little bit more this time. How could Legolas sound so sure of himself?
"The only burden I have is following you around at every possible opportunity and not being able to make my heart known to you."
Harry bit his lip. This was getting harder and harder. Those eyes were impossible to ignore!
Legolas stepped even closer, leaning his body forward into Harry's bit by bit, from the tips of their toes to their foreheads, and all manner in between. Harry stopped breathing altogether and felt the colour rise rapidly in his cheeks while his eyes had taken on a rabbit in the headlights expression. This couldn't possibly be happening.
"You could never weigh me down," Legolas insisted softly, "I would gladly carry any burden you hold and wear it proudly, knowing it's a part of you. And I would take all eternity to prove that to you."
There was that word again. Eternity. He was throwing it around like it was nothing! Harry opened his mouth to argue, to make Legolas see the fault in all this. But nothing came out. It was like someone had pressed 'pause' on him and was scrambling his thoughts in a blender. He could still hear the cynical, doubting voice in his head trying to shout above the clamour, telling him to snap out of it, wake up and realise that this wasn't real, it simply couldn't be. Good things like this just didn't happen to him, regardless of what he wanted.
But, a tiny voice managed to speak up above all the head-pounding objections, you do want this, you do want to be with Legolas.
And he did, he realised. It was a fact as simple as breathing, as simple as his immortality in this 12th century world, and as simple as the knowledge that Legolas would be there to greet him everyday and wish him a good morning simply to see Harry smile at him in return. And he knew he could be dense at times and slow on the uptake, but didn't that say it all?
If eternity was what Legolas wanted, then…wasn't that what Harry wanted too?
Trying again, Legolas leaned down the few centimetres between them, pressed his nose to Harry's crown, and breathed in. Their bodies were pressed as close together as physically possible, Harry's nose against the pulse of Legolas' neck, and Harry wondered how in this position he had managed to stay mute to Legolas' ardent as well as silent pleas for so long.
"Promise to be mine forever?" Legolas asked softly, his lips brushing against Harry's temple as he spoke.
Overcome with the sheer intensity crackling heatedly beneath his skin at every point of contact between them and the joy spilling from an unknown region in his chest, so sudden, and welling up inside him like mad, Harry could only tilt his slowly back until Legolas got the cue and met him that short distance for a kiss.
There is love in your body, but you can't hold it in
It pours from your eyes and spills from your skin
Tenderest touches leave the darkest of marks
And the kindest of kisses break the hardest of hearts
It was exhilarating, it was electric; it was bliss, peace, and ecstatic happiness, all at once. And right then, despite how often he had scoffed at silly fairy tales and girls at Hogwarts who had been waiting for their Prince Charming to come and sweep them off their feet, Harry felt in that moment like everything centred on the two of them. Him and Legolas. It was perfect, his own happy ending, their own happy ending.
When they finally pulled apart, Legolas rested his forehead against Harry's again and slowly opened his eyes to stare into vibrant green ones.
"I know I haven't learned all there is to know about you yet, but nothing would make me happier than if you granted me every day from hereon to try."
Hereon sounded suspiciously like eternity.
Warring emotions of longing, contentment, excitement, hope, fear, and worry battled in his head. Every sense of logic he possessed told him to say no and run for it, leave and never come back to Mirkwood, just as he had planned. This was a huge step to be taking. A huge commitment to, well, commit oneself to.
But the child inside him that still longed to be loved, to find love and a home where he could feel safe and protected – all the things Legolas had promised – was dragging his heels in the mud and shouting at Harry to stop his pointless inner monologue and just stay. Say yes, you big dolt!
Lightly calloused hands stroked the sides of his face, and that, combined with the heat coming off of Legolas, transferring from Legolas' face to Harry's, was quickly vanishing all rational thought from his mind – again – and what little of it that was actually left fled. He could only feel Legolas' desperate stare – all mentions of elvish patience having gone out the door long ago– and felt the words of acceptance starting to rise up effortlessly in his throat in response.
Apparently he had taken too long to respond, though, despite how effortless it was, and Legolas spoke up softly again, imploringly asking, "Let me be your home."
Home. He'd never had one of those before, at least not like Legolas described it in such sweet tonnes. Harry wanted that home, the child in him and all. It was as simple as that; want, need, and love. And Legolas.
Closing his eyes, he sighed, and let a small, barely-there smile relax upon his lips. "I'd like that."
Not waiting a second more, Legolas surprised Harry by grabbing him tightly, picking him up, and spinning him around the room, all the while laughing joyously with a huge, ecstatic smile on his face, a smile that Harry was most proud to have helped put there.
No more words were said, but Harry felt that all was right with the world as he let Legolas hold him close and he wrapped his own arms around Legolas' neck comfortably, squeezing back.
But I'm not giving up,
I'm just giving in
Never let me go, never let me go
Suddenly, and without any warning, mid-spin, a golden light sprang up from between them and engulfed them both completely. For several blinding seconds they froze, not even knowing what had hit them.
The light, Harry felt more than thought, was warm, comforting, and playful. It covered his entire body, inside and out, and he felt no qualms in letting it do just that as he rested his head against Legolas' shoulder. No worries of evil or malign magic entered his thoughts; this was a good magic, he just knew it intuitively.
When the feeling finally subsided and the light died down several seconds later, leaving just as abruptly as it had come, Harry blinked his eyes open cautiously. He felt…great!
Actually, he felt strangely calm and content, in a way he could never remember ever feeling before. Perhaps this was a result of the little bit of accidental magic he'd just performed in the wake of Legolas' embrace. For what else could possibly have caused all this?
Lifting his head, he looked up at Legolas to see what he had made of that whole lightshow just now. Harry hadn't ever said much to his companion about the effects of wayward magic since it had been nearly a century since Harry had had any problems controlling his magic, and he wondered how Legolas would react. Two things happened then that promptly distracted him from that thought. One, Harry noticed that his vision was awfully blurry; and two, he heard Legolas gasp in surprise.
Peering into Legolas' face he found that he couldn't see much with blurry vision. He reached up to clean his glasses from the odd dust that had settled on them, or maybe there was something in his eyes. Upon taking them off his vision cleared completely. In fact, he could see much better than ever before. Harry blinked several times and looked from his glasses in his hand to around the room, checking the distance and range of his sight. Yep. That was definitely a change.
Why couldn't his accidental magic ever done thatbefore? It would have saved him a lot of 'specky git' jokes growing up. But his startling, new discovery was put on hold for a moment as he suddenly became aware of the shrill whistling of the kettle behind him that was now painfully piercing his eardrums. How had he been able to ignore it before? With an annoyed flick of his wrist, he wandlessly moved it off the burner and silenced it.
The next moment, Legolas reached up and grasped Harry's arms in an iron hold, startling him with its intensity. Looking up properly this time, Harry suddenly registered that Legolas was looking at him in wonder and confusion.
And it wasn't the 'I'm acting like a dope because I love you and can't believe you love me too' look, but more of a 'what in the name of Sauron' stare. It was an expression of either horror or wonder, fascination at the very least; maybe it was a mixture. Harry found he was more interested in watching Legolas' expressions, though, than worrying about what was causing them. They both seemed to be physically fine, after all.
And yet, Legolas kept staring.
"What is it?" Harry finally asked, somewhat impatiently – he didn't like to be stared at – and was momentarily confused by the sound of his own voice, which seemed a little different, clearer and stronger. But Harry paid it no mind; he was getting a little worried for Legolas now. The elf still hadn't moved and Harry was beginning to wonder if he had inadvertently put him under a Petrificus Totalus, even as Legolas' arms wrapped that much tighter around Harry in reaction.
Harry looked down at himself, figuring that Legolas must be seeing something Harry hadn't yet cottoned onto.
Well, he didn't know what exactly was happening right now, but maybe there was more to this whole accepting an elvish partner thing than Legolas had let on. Were they supposed to stare at each other for an hour now or something? Maybe he'd broken Legolas somehow by accepting? Or maybe, Harry wondered, his thoughts spinning out of control, Legolas thought he was the one responsible for the flash of bright, warm light just now. He supposed it might be possible, secretive elvish magic and all, but you'd think Legolas would have warned him to what kind of voodoo was involved in these things before spinning him about like that.
Harry started when he felt Legolas' hand reach up and brush the tips of his ears, then quickly retract his fingers as though they had been burned.
"What?" he repeated agitatedly, definitely noticing the clearer, lighter quality of his voice this time – must be the residual magic, he thought. Because if he didn't know any better, he would say that he sounded an awful lot like…no. A shadow of suspicion crossed his face – Legolas was no help at all, still staring at Harry in silent wonder – and he reached up to brush his own hand across the tips of his ears.
They were pointed and had taken on a distinctive leaf-shape quite different from their normal curve. What…
But Legolas just shook his head and swallowed loudly. "I've never heard of this before." His eyes raked across Harry's face, his hands tracing everywhere his eyes went; the bridge of his nose, his lips, his chin, his cheekbones, eyebrows, and ears. "Amazing," Legolas breathed softly. "You're amazing."
Harry chuckled nervously, not entirely sure what to make of all this while dealing with his brain continuing to be mush under Legolas' attentive care. All the same, he tried to counter Legolas' statement with well thought-out reason, employing whatever was left of his befuddled mind.
"This was all you, not me. I have no elvish magic in me."
Smiling in confused, yet no less delighted excitement, Legolas shrugged and with a shake of his head said, "You do now," before bringing his smiling lips down upon Harry's once again.
This was definitely the elvish magic, then, he thought, not knowing what exactly it was he was referring to this time. He seemed to use that phrase a lot, blaming elvish magic on the simplest of unexplainable things. He guessed he would finally get to know what it was all about now that he was an elf. An elf! Harry Potter was an elf. And wasn't that the oddest thing you'd ever heard?
Ignoring his jumbled thoughts and confusion for now, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to be swept away in the moment with little protest, giving back as good as he got in the many kisses that followed. If this was what it meant to be an elf, he could honestly say that he wasn't complaining.
When Midas is king and he holds me so tight,
And turns me to gold in the sunlight
News of Harry's, or rather Ederynion's –only Legolas would ever be allowed to know and use his real name, after all –change spread fast through Mirkwood. Harry figured it was a combination of him being the resident wizard suddenly turned resident wizard-elf, and the fact that he was now with Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood of the Woodland Realms; a dangerous combination for the rumour mill.
It was as though a whole new person had come to Mirkwood and stolen their prince's heart. If Harry had thought he was popular among the elves before, it was nothing to how they treated him now; like one of their own.
Feasts were served several times a week within the first few months of their announcement. King Thranduil now looked upon Harry like a second son, and it felt amazing. He had never felt so accepted, part of a real family, in his whole life.
At first, though, he had to admit that it had all made him feel like a bug under the microscope, ready to be squashed at any minute from the suffocating care and attention. It was like being on the receiving end of a never-ending hug from Mrs Weasley. Awkward at first and had one quickly begging for it to end, but when you finally gave in and let yourself enjoy it, it was perfect. And then you never wanted to be let go.
So whenever he had the urge to run again, just to be away from the endless stares, he would look over at Legolas' happy face, which was frequently directed at Harry, and then down at their clasped hands. This was why it was all worth it. He belonged here. He was no longer a guest of the elves, but one of their kin now. Home.
Perhaps Gandalf was right in the end, now that Harry understood his words a little better, though Harry would hardly say he had given up on any ideas of perfection and fairy tale-like happy endings to accomplish the task of setting his roots down. If anything, his expectations had been a lot lower than the final reality of it all.
But then again, he hadn't thought to take Legolas into the calculations at the time of his pathetic projected self-expectations in life, and his blond elf was so much more than Harry could ever have imagined. He had been genuine in his offer to be Harry's home and it was only a year after Legolas' promise that he finally left the halls of his father and moved in with Harry.
And he hadn't left since.
And in the spring I shed my skin
And it blows away with the changing wind
Harry's travel pack lay unceremoniously in the very back of the closet in their bedroom, empty, unused, and forgotten, collecting dust over the many, many years. Though he still liked to travel and visit friends from all over Middle-Earth, he and Legolas tended to travel together now and did not bother themselves with anything more than a bow and quiver for Legolas and a sword for Harry. It made for more of a challenge that way and Harry did love a challenge.
In fact, he loved all of Middle-Earth with a much finer appreciation since he had turned away from fading, humanity, and ignoring his love for Legolas. Not surprisingly, all those things had happened around the exact same time, so he wasn't sure if his newfound awareness was from his elven eyes, his renewed enjoyment of life, or having Legolas as a constant by his side in general. They all were one in his eyes in many ways, so perhaps it didn't really matter. As long as he had his happiness with Legolas that was all that counted.
"Harry," Legolas called from the kitchen, breaking Harry from his silent reverie, "I was thinking of taking a walk over to the old ruins by the Ring of Lesseirl for the day."
That was a beautiful area; Harry loved to go there and read under the shade of the huge trees growing between and around the crumbling stones of what once used to be some kind of structure from before even the Silvan elves had settled in Mirkwood. It was a mystery; just the kind of thing Harry loved. And Legolas knew Harry's favourite spots all too well.
"That sounds perfect," he called back, closing the closet door and moving to the bedside table, rearranging a few pillows as he sat down at the edge of the bed "Let me grab a book. You want anything?"
"I'm good," came Legolas' muffled reply. Harry assumed he was in the pantry, putting together a small snack of fruits and nuts, as he was wont to do whenever they went out for the day. Most likely, they would not be back until the wee hours of the morning, as Harry was just as wont to fall into a sleeping trance under the sun, curled up in a tree, while Legolas watched him, slowly carding his fingers through his dark hair, unwilling to stir him. When Harry would finally come to, the sun would have already set and the two would spend hours talking about everything and nothing late into the night until the sun was ready to rise again.
Harry loved days like that.
Eager for a day of rest, relaxation, and Legolas, Harry grabbed his book from the nightstand and headed towards the kitchen to help Legolas prepare. He wanted to make sure he didn't forget to pack the freshly picked strawberries from their garden out back.
Several minutes later, the door to their cottage opened and Harry and Legolas walked out, hand in hand, taking unhurried, meandering steps towards their destination. They'd get there whenever they get there, no rush. It was all about the journey, after all, not the destination.
Looking up at the sky in contentment, Harry squeezed Legolas' hand in his and smiled. He was home.
Your heart is the only place that I call home
A/N: Well that's it for this little story. I hope you all enjoyed it and that it met your expectations.
Let me know what you think, if you feel so inclined, and if you have any thoughts on the story as a whole. Thanks! :-)