Harry wanted to die, not that it was a new thought or anything but he had thought about it. It really wasn't fair of Death to keep him from dying, from joining his family in Death's Realm, he just wanted his farce of a life to be over.
It was a foolish idea to do the ritual, but he was desperate, and that was all he could really say for himself. He landed in a land of darkness, same as he had left, but he was laying on the remnants of a bridge that teetered over a river of lava, Harry didn't know how long he watched the river flow but after a time he knew he should leave and so he did.
Harry climbed down the volcano carefully, the last thing he wanted to do was deal with this new world with injuries, or come across monsters in a weakened state, and Harry was sure that this was a different world than his own, the magic felt wilder, freer, stranger. It recognized him as a wizard for sure but it would take some getting used to, using the magic.
At the base of the volcano Harry looked around and, deciding that it would be best to avoid the fortified whatever it was, Harry chose a direction and walked, climbing over a ridge of mountains, glad that Death had fixed Harry's vision and given him the ability to make death painless if he wanted to after he had become Death's Master, he had used his new ability for making Death painless often during the last few years of his war.
So, Harry walked and walked, and when he could walk no more he slept, always placing a shield around himself, he didn't think to stop to find food, not that he saw much in the wasteland he had found himself in. And Harry shuddered as he walked through the marsh, the water filled with the bodies of people who had foolishly been lead away from their path, as the water swamped over the tops of his boots Harry could feel their ill-content at the way they had perished, the hissing reminisce of each body's last breath, stolen by the murky waters.
It took days of standing in a stream and scrubbing for Harry to feel clean after he finally exited the marshes, one of the few places he had walked for days without sleep to leave as quickly as he could, restless souls, forever damned, forever seeking, and leading astray those who mistakenly wandered where they dwelled, never to exit themselves, doomed to stay and make it their home as well.
Harry had been glad to make it out of the marshes, it was what had awaited him outside of them that had taken him by surprise, he didn't know what they were but at the sight of him they had licked their lips and attacked him, Harry had been most thankful that Griffindor's sword had made the journey with him, though he would be forever saddened that the blade had broken off from the hilt at one particularly harsh blow from one of the beings, though Harry had dropped the hilt ducked under the creature's blade, scooped up an abandoned one from one of the fallen ones and quickly disposed of the remainder of the foul smelling beings.
Harry had searched for the blade among the dead and found it, slipping it into its sheath along with the hilt, spelling it to remain there until he found a way to fix it, then he searched among the creatures for a worthy weapon, finding only stolen weapons, none worthy of being taken, but he chose the best of them, the last thing he wanted to be was weaponless in a hostile world.
Harry looked over the beings he had killed and wondered what they were, they were ugly, and smelly, like rotting corpses, though the fact that they had tried killing him on sight left little to the imagination on how they came to smell that way and Harry wasn't sorry for ending them at all, not if they had killed and eaten people. Harry supposed that it was Death's fault that he was so accepting of causing death.
Harry ran into many more of the beings, always they would see him, lick their lips and attack him, and always Harry would search among the dead for a better weapon, he had yet to find one, just as he had yet to find any traces of normal people, it couldn't be that the creatures were the dominant race, could it? In fear that the answer might be yes, Harry stopped his walk, not daring to go farther, he stayed near one of the few rivers that was not tainted with marsh water and began making his home there at the very outreaches of the marsh, building his house out of marsh weeds and the few marsh trees that grew, no matter how tainted they were.
But Harry decided that he liked this world, despite the creatures and the marsh, it was peaceful, and beautiful, everywhere he turned there was something amazing to be seen as long as he went far enough, and he loved exploring his new world.
Over the years though, as less and less was to be discovered in what Harry deemed his territory, a place where the nasty creatures came but didn't leave, Harry began to track their packs, especially since some of them had half a brain and they stopped coming near his place, so, Harry expanded the area he kept clear of them, and it was during one of his tracking s that he came upon his first sign of humans.
Harry watched as what seemed to be the majority of the pack came from the trees, some carrying weapons but others carried what looked suspiciously like bodies, Harry hoped that wasn't the case. Harry waited until the beings settled their bundles in a pile, away from them as they huddled around their little fire, dropping their weapons as they slumped down to the ground.
"Which one should we eat first?" One of the creatures asked.
"How about none?" Harry asked as he stepped out of his hiding spot after drawing a short sword that he had relieved from the hand of one of the marsh-souls after asking permission of course, the soul had been rather accommodating in handing it over.
The creatures growled and came at him, Harry ducked under one swing as he dragged his blade through its belly and stabbed another with its own weapon after grabbing it's wrist and twisting it around, Harry danced and ducked and parried and soon all of the creatures were laying on the ground, and Harry never one to make a mistake that could come back and kill him, quite literally in this case, well, not really, but even getting a mortal wound hurt like hell while it healed, went over to each of the bodies and made sure they were dead, then he walked over to the bundles and untied them.
The children that fell out of the bundles sobbing surprised him into taking a step back. Harry watched as they helped each other stand and the older ones to seemingly take a head count before turning to him and looking shocked that he was alone.
"Hello." One of the smaller ones said waving.
Harry looked at them curiously, their clothing was something out of the medieval time, at least from his world's time periods, which, now that he thought about it, explained a whole lot, especially the lack of towns and the like.
"Excuse me, sir?" Harry was drawn from his thoughts at the voice of one of the children, one of the older ones.
"Hmm?" Harry returned.
"My name is Saree, Daughter of Leon, can you tell us where we are, so we can get home?" She asked, some of the younger children clinging to her skirt.
"I don't know where this is, Lady Saree, Daughter of Leon, but I will see you children home." Harry said, "Follow me." And Harry began walking in the direction that the creatures had come, using his tracking skills to follow their path back as the trees thinned out into grassland and hills.
Night fell quickly, though, and Harry found himself looking back and finding the older children struggling to keep up as they carried the younger ones. Harry sighed and stopped, he had forgotten that others tired easily, and children especially so.
"We make camp here, stay while I go get firewood." Harry said as the children settled down.
"Won't that be dangerous with Orcs out here?" Saree asked as she settled the little ones together and the older ones on the outside of them.
Harry shrugged, "I'll keep watch. Besides, your parents are probably looking for you, if they see the fire they'll come over."
Harry gathered the wood quickly, the child was right, the packs of Orcs, she had called them, followed each other around, and they ate the remains of their fallen brethren, Harry had been curious about what they would do with their dead so he had waited around and had been horrified, eating other creatures was one thing, eating each other was just wrong.
Harry made up the fire and watched the children sit around it and warm themselves.
"Mister?" A boy child asked walking over to where Harry sat at the edges of the light cast by the fire.
"Yeah?" Harry looked up at the boy.
"What should I do about that?" Harry asked tilting his head curiously, it had had been a long time since he had felt hungry, and longer still since he had eaten anything, though he had no way of knowing how long exactly it had been, or how long he had been in this land.
"Don't you have any food?" The boy returned.
Harry shook his head, he couldn't even remember the last time he had eaten food or what that meal might have been, though it may have been one of Mrs. Weasley's amazing meals.
"Oh." The boy said softly.
"What do children usually eat?" Harry asked.
"The same thing as adults." The boy said slowly, as if he thought Harry was a dimwit.
"Hmm." Harry thought tapping his finger against his lips. "Ah!" Harry exclaimed standing up, "I'll be right back."
It took Harry a few moments to find the rabbit hole in the dark, the one he had stumbled upon as he had gathered the firewood, sure enough there was two rabbits inside and he carried them back to his camp of children. He held them up as he walked into the light of the fire, and both rabbits kicked at his hands wildly.
"Food." Harry said holding them out to Saree.
Saree giggled, "You should kill them and cook them first."
"Oh." Harry murmured quietly, "How do I do that?"
Saree looked at him strangely but took one of the rabbits and the knife Harry handed her and slid it quickly through the poor rabbit's head before she skinned it and cut it into strips that she placed on a stick and held over the fire. Harry watched her intently but got tired of the rabbit kicking him and snapped it's neck while he waited for Saree to finish with his knife, once she handed the knife back Harry copied her actions, even stabbing the rabbit's head, though his rabbit strips were sloppier than Saree's.
"You are a quick learner." She praised him as he handed out the stripes.
"Thank you." Harry smiled.
"Aren't you going to eat?" One of the little ones asked.
"No, you go ahead." Harry said softly.
"So, what is your name?" Saree asked.
"Harry, Son of Lily." Harry said introducing himself the same way Saree had, only he had used his mother, because his father's actions had made Harry slightly ashamed of the bully his father had been, and his mother had died for him and he didn't have a lot of memories or stories of her, like he had of his father.
"Well, Harry, Son of Lily, thank you for saving us." Saree said quietly before she laid down and closed her eyes.
Harry wondered what she would say if he told her that he hadn't meant to save them, that it was an accident, that he had only intended to kill the Orcs and be on his way.
"You're welcome." He said instead.
Harry stood and walked to the edge of the light that the fire cast, returning to build up the fire several times during the night and slipping away from the camp a few times to take care of the Orcs that got a little too close for his comfort. Harry stayed up all night and like always he watched the sun rise, he waited a few hours longer before he woke the children and led them to a stream to do their business and drink, carefully avoiding the remains of the Orcs that he had killed in the night, then he led them back to the camp, again avoiding the Orc remains, where he removed the remnants of their presence and re-found the Orcs' trail and continued to lead them home, though his pace was slower than the day before, accommodating the children better.
Saree caught up to him at around mid-day, when Harry had stopped to allow the children a rest and a bit to drink from the river he had stopped by and looked up at him, Harry had taken off his boots and rolled up his pants before he had waded into the river and put his hands and forearms into the water to catch fish for the children's lunch, since he hadn't caught them breakfast, he had already caught five, but Harry wasn't sure of how big a child's appetite might be, Saree had taken each fish, cooked and divided them to the children, feeding the younger ones first, then moving onto the older ones, Harry figured that she would eventually hand out seconds.
"Harry, do you know where you are going?" Saree asked, as she approached the edge of the river, thankfully not stepping into the river.
Harry looked away from the water that he was looking at to look at the girl, her blonde hair was coming loose from her single braid and her blue eyes looked up at him imploringly, her green dress was dirty, from both dirt and the blood from the rabbits, though the stains had been lessened by a little bit of cleaning.
"No, I'm following the tracks the Orcs left." Harry told the girl the truth as he waded out of the river to place a hand on the girl's shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting manor.
"Oh," The girl looked down at the ground before she looked at him excitedly, "Where did you learn to fight? I didn't think anyone could take on that many Orcs and live to tell about it."
Harry shrugged and led the child back to the others, where he told them to get ready to go and that if they had business to do to do it quickly, and he probably should have told them silently, but they were moving in minutes and Harry walked ahead of the children with Saree by his side, talking his ear off, he probably learned more in the afternoon with Saree than he had since he had arrived.
"Shh, listen, do you hear that?" Harry asked as he stopped suddenly and knelt on the ground, tilting his head to hear better.
Saree's lips curled into a grin, "It's the villagers; they did come looking for us." Saree said and ran ahead shouting for her parents as they came into view, the other children following as Harry stood up and watched them with half a smile on his lips.
After a moment of watching Harry turned and began to leave, stopping short as someone shouted at him, he turned back and was almost knocked down as Saree wrapped him in a hug. Harry shifted uncomfortably in the girl's arms as the adults walked over to him, children clinging to them tightly.
"You saved our children, for that we are thankful, Harry, Son of Lily." One of the men said, and Harry realized that the entire party was men, all with weapons in their hands, probably on their way to kill the Orcs and more likely than nor collect whatever remained of their children.
Harry carefully extracted the girl from his waist, pushing her towards the group after he succeeded.
"You are welcome." Harry said, nodding to the man.
"If you need anything do not hesitate to ask." Another shouted.
Harry frowned in thought and looked at their weapons, they looked well crafted, much like his short sword and as faithful as it had been Harry couldn't help but long for one of longer reach.
"A sword would be helpful, though if you haven't got one to spare I understand." Harry said quietly.
"A sword, that's all?" One of the other men yelled incredulously.
"There is nothing else I need." Harry said simply, shrugging.
Their leader smiled, "Come with us to the village and we'll make your sword."
Harry nodded and followed the men, watching as the children milled about but stayed within reach. They camped just before nightfall, and the men made a fire and set a watch, and a few of them left, returning with a deer, Harry watched with the same intense eyes as the men cooked the meal and divided it, he was pleased that the children were fed first.
Harry sat at the edge of the fire's glow and looked out into the distance, he wondered what other creatures were out there, if humans existed, what else did. He knew that once his sword was made he would journey to find out, and if he guessed right, he could follow the Orc packs and perhaps find other villages, they came and went so many places, the marshes being only one of them, and now that he knew there were other creatures nothing was keeping him at the marshes anyway. There was no reason to go back either, he kept all of his things with him and the house would crumble into dust if he wasn't there to reinforce it, leaving nary a trace of him ever being there.
It only took the village smith three days to make him a proper sword, though the smith had asked about the sword that Harry carried on his back and Harry had shown him the broken blade and had been unsurprised when he had been told that the smith didn't have the skill to fix it. One of the mothers had made him a simple leather sheath for his new sword while another had had made him a bag for his things, not that he had much that wasn't carried in his pocket, where he kept his old school trunk, though it had been a while since he had taken anything from it, but when the woman had given him the bag it had been filled with clothes and food and one of the children had put in a blanket and a rag doll.
Harry had smiled at the villagers and waved as he walked away, new sword tied to his belt and his new bag over his right shoulder, with no proper destination and without the name of the village that he had just left. He was merely heading farther away from the marshes, he just walked and walked, he came and left villages and camps and cities, and he found out that Elves existed here, and not the like House Elves either, but tall, regal ones, and Dwarves, and some sort of creatures called Hobbits, that he couldn't wait to see and learn about.
Harry was walking along the road, curious about the Shire that held the Hobbits , when four small children tumbled down the side of the mountain. Harry stopped and watched the children for a few moments and one of them yelled at the others to get off the road and they threw themselves off the road, Harry turned to look in the direction that the child had looked and he froze.
/Neither living nor dead, they do the bidding of darkness and search for only power./ A voice whispered in his mind.
Harry shook himself and dove out of the creature's way but it took him a few moments to catch his bearings though once he had Harry ran after the children and didn't think twice about lifting the one that wasn't on the raft up and jumping onto the raft before letting the boy go and standing at the very edge of the raft and watching the frustrated creature that had been chasing the boy rush off, others with similar garb and mounts rushing off before and after it.
"Who are you?" One of the children asked, not the one he had saved, this one was chubby with light brown hair and wide trusting hazel eyes. "And what do you want?" he asked as an afterthought.
Harry looked at the children, "I am Harry, Son of Lily, I want to know why four children are running for their lives."
"We're not children, we're Hobbits ." One of the other children shouted.
"Really?" Harry asked excitedly, derailed from the previous conversation subject, it really was easy to distract him, perhaps too easy, but he liked learning new things about this world, "I was on my way to that Shire place to have a look at Hobbits, they really intrigued me, I had never heard of or seen a Hobbit before, so, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity. Well, now, what are your names?"
"Frodo Baggins." The only one with dark hair whispered, with a flimsy smile curling about his lips, "And this is Samwise Gamgee," He pointed to the one that had asked who Harry was, "And they are Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck."
"But most people call us Merry and Pippin." Merry or Pippin said, Harry wasn't sure which one was which.
"Alright, so where are we going?" Harry asked.
Samwise grinned, "We're going to meet Gandalf at the Prancing Pony in Bree."
Harry nodded, "Wonderful, I haven't been this way yet. Well, I suppose visiting Hobbits in the Shire area shall have to wait, and I will be delighted to make sure you arrive at the Prancing Pony, for whatever reason you need to be there."
By the time they arrived at the gates of the town that the Hobbits needed to be at it was night and it was raining down harshly, Harry was quite pleased because it would get rid of their tracks, both scent and marks that could be tracked, though there wasn't much he could do for the shivering and wet Hobbits except for slight drying charms and warming ones, he wasn't sure how Wizards were viewed in this world and he wasn't going to take chances.
They were let into the town with little trouble and the Hobbits were warming themselves with ale and food, Harry was a little weirded out, to him they looked like children and he supposed that, with the amount of years he had, they were still children to him, which wouldn't change, for a while yet, if it ever did.
It was when Frodo disappeared that Harry knew something dangerous was afoot. Harry smiled slightly as he followed the three remaining Hobbits when they went to defend Frodo from the stranger that had been watching him since they had first walked on and sat down, loyal friends like that were hard to come by, Harry knew from experience, Ron had a freak-out when he realized that Harry wasn't aging after the War ended, of course that was after his initial one when Harry had told him that not only was he not marrying Ginny, but that she was the wrong gender anyway, even if Hermione had reacted stronger to that revelation, she was Muggle-raised, and even if that hadn't bothered Ron much he had been married to Hermione, that had been the day their friendship ended.
Harry sat awake with Strider while the Hobbits slept and late that night the strange creatures shrieked their displeasure, waking the Hobbits that slept in the man-sized bed, that Strider had given up for them to sleep in.
"What are they?" Frodo asked quietly and Harry listened only slightly to the answer, they sounded rather like Voldemort's Death Eaters, who had been lured to him with a promise of power and been betrayed because when Voldemort had finally been killed, so had they, their Marks had given Voldemort access to their magic and his death had drained them, leaving only dry, withered husks, not even Snape hadn't escaped that fate.
Harry walked with Strider, keeping pace with him easily, though the Hobbits seemed to have trouble. Harry was just entranced with everything around them, it was green and beautiful, and the air was sweet smelling and fresh which made Harry take deep breaths, hold out his arms with his face turned to the sun and spin as he walked, the Hobbits had been amused the first few times he had done so, now it was just one of his quirks.
"So, who are you?" Strider asked.
Harry turned to look at him in surprise and found the man watching him like he was a child discovering the world for the first time, it made Harry blush at being caught.
"Harry, Son of Lily."
"Your father?" Strider asked curiously.
"James, Son of, you know I'm not sure." Harry shrugged, Harry wasn't sure why most people introduced themselves for their fathers, and he hadn't liked the stares he had gotten in some of the villages after he had given his name.
"But you introduce yourself with your mother's name." Strider seemed confused and Harry wondered why.
Harry nodded, "Why shouldn't I, she carried me around for nine months and gave birth to me, my father did not." Harry explained.
Strider nodded, glanced back at the Hobbits as they tried to make camp to make food, Strider yelled at them before he turned back to Harry, "We give our father's name when we know it, when you don't people assume that your mother was lose in nature, and that you were unworthy of your father's notice." Strider explained.
Harry frowned but nodded. "I'm still introducing myself for my mother, let idiots think what they want, I have no reason to care what they think of me, and if they want to underestimate me then they can."
With that said Harry walked ahead of them, though he had no idea where he was going, with Strider's light chuckle echoing after him.
They camped on and abandoned and crumbling tower a few days later and Harry watched with slight amusement as the Hobbits slumped bonelessly onto the ground for several moments before they began to make camp and then wondered up to the top of the tower where he lay on his back and watched the stars, meditating lightly, to recover some of the strength that he had lost while he stayed up with Strider to keep the Hobbits safe, he was sure that now was not a time to be sleeping, at least not for him.
He jumped to his feet when he heard the first screech and wasn't surprised that the Hobbits ran to where he stood when they reached the top of the crumbling watchtower, Harry drew his short sword instead of his longer one, cursed blade against cursed blade seemed fitting.
Harry defended only not willing to leave the Hobbits open to attack, brave as they were these creatures would not fall to them. But while he was fighting they were separated and as Harry ducked under one of the creature's blades he heard Frodo cry out, Harry didn't think about the consequences, he abandoned the one he was fighting and slashed his blade across the back of the one that stabbed Frodo, ducked under the return swing it tried to deliver and cut off the hand that held it's sword before Strider came to their rescue and chased the remainder of them off.
Harry knelt next to Frodo and pressed his hand to the wound, he couldn't heal it, he dealt in death not life, but he could take the pain away, which he did. He watched as Strider lifted the boy and the Hobbits followed him quickly while Harry went to the blade the creature had dropped and picked it up. It was cursed, same as it's wielder, poison to any who was stabbed with it and burned any who held it that was not it's master, just as it burned Harry to hold it now, Harry let the Sword fall to the ground and watched it's Blade crumbled to dust.
He watched for hours, to be sure that the creatures weren't coming back, then he turned and went after Frodo, Strider and the Hobbits, following the frantic trail that had been left behind in Strider's haste to get Frodo to some kind of Healer. Harry caught up to them in time to see a woman rush off with Frodo but he had done all he could for the boy so he stayed with Strider as they traveled. They arrived only days after the Lady had, and Samwise was so worried for Frodo as were Merry and Pippin that they bombarded their greeter with questions. Harry watched in slight amusement as the Elf that greeted them tried to answer them all, even as he was interrupted by a new question.
"Enjoying Lord Elrond's floundering?" Strider asked, his own amusement coloring his voice.
Harry nodded with a smile before they were led to the rooms that they would occupy for their stay at the Elven City.
Harry was sitting next to Frodo, glad that the boy was between him and the Dumbledore look alike because that was just kind of freaky, at a meeting that he wasn't sure he should be at, about a Ring that had to be destroyed, but all that seemed to be happening was arguing. Harry waited a while, hoping it would die but it only seemed to increase.
"ENOUGH!" Harry shouted standing as his temper got the better of him, though he had gotten rather good at controlling it, Harry turned to the Ring and glared, Frodo's tugging on his shirt-sleeve brought him back to the situation and Harry looked at the now silent group of Elves, Dwarves, Men, one Wizard, well, two if they were honest, and Frodo, "Right, then, are you all children, don't answer that, that Ring is evil," Harry pointed to make sure they knew what Ring he was talking about, he wouldn't put it passed some of them not to know, "it is tainted, it needs to be destroyed, someone must take it to this Mt. Doom place, if you can't decide which one of you will do it then make a group, honestly," At this point Harry's hands were on his hips and he was ranting, "are you creatures that daft, Orcs are smarter, I should have just gone back to the marsh, at least the only dumb creatures that go there are lost or will be dead very soon." Harry muttered as he returned to his seat next to Frodo, arms crossed over his chest.
Frodo giggled, before he caught the glare of disapproval from the look alike.
"And who are you to say such?" The red haired Dwarf asked gruffly, most likely still smarting over his attempt at destroying the Ring.
"I am Harry, Son of Lily, really, I don't know why I'm even at this meeting; don't even know why there's a meeting in the first place, Bloody thing is evil and obviously needs to be destroyed." Harry scowled as he slouched in his seat, crossing his left leg over his right knee.
"I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way." Frodo said as he stood with an embarrassed smile.
Two men, Strider and a young man named Boromir, an Elf who went by Legolas, a Dwarf called Gimli, the wizard Gandalf, and of course his three hobbit friends vowed to accompany him. Harry thought about whether he should go too or not, and he looked at Frodo, and for a moment he saw a boy of eleven with dark messy hair and a great burden which he carried that no one could truly help him with, but instead of the blue eyes of Frodo, the other boy's were deep green.
Harry swallowed and stood, "I will join your company, young Master Baggins, if you would allow it." But Harry could not look at the boy, not now that he had drawn parallels, it hurt, hurt so much.
"Of course you can, you've already save my life once." Frodo smiled.
"Ten companions, you shall be known as the Fellowship of the Ring." Lord Whoever, Harry thought it was the same Elf that had greeted them, Elrond or something similar, said, Harry rolled his eyes at the dumb name and walked from the room with Frodo and the other Hobbits at his heels.
Over the weeks while the Hobbits were taught some rudimentary swordsmanship and Harry found himself seeking out Legolas' company, mainly because he had found that the Elf would exit Rivendell's walls for days at a time and Harry needed to get away from all the people sometimes, it had been a long time since so many people had tried to have conversations with him, and anything they wanted to talk about, Harry knew little about anyway.
Legolas rarely talked, Harry was always talking, though, it wasn't as weird as when he was alone even if Legolas didn't answer at least Harry wasn't talking to himself anymore, but Legolas would show him to a new place each time they left Rivendell, and he had watched Harry's excitement light up his face at each of his new discoveries. Sometimes Legolas would show Harry plants and explain to him what they did and what they could be used for, especially the ones that would help with injury.
They had run into Orcs several times, when they strayed far enough from Rivendell and Harry quite liked the look of shock that Legolas had worn after the other had seen him fight for the first time, even if he didn't really know why the other had been shocked, so what if he was small, he had been taught to fight with a sword by the Goblins of Gringotts, and the Centaurs had taught him the bow and arrow, which he rarely found a reason to use, at least in this world, though he might want to carry a set with him.
Yet the thing Harry had enjoyed the most was the tales the others told about their travels, though he had never joined in, what exactly could he tell them? Not the truth surely, according to the stories Dragons had all been killed off years ago, and Harry still looked like a child himself when he compared his looks to other men. Harry also enjoyed the songs that the others would sing at meals, especially when Merry and Pippin would dance on the tables, they reminded Harry so much of Fred and George in their making of mischief.
But the time at Rivendell passed quickly and Harry was glad to when the time to leave came.
The night before they were set to leave Harry took the bag he had carried since he had begun his exploring properly and opened it for the second time since he had been given it from the village whose children he had saved, the first had been to empty it of the food after it had gone rotten, Harry opened the bag and dumped it onto the bed he had been given for his stay, he refolded the clothes he hadn't used, and the blanket he had forgotten to use, and picked up the rag doll gently.
Harry looked at the doll, it was soft, and the stitching indicated that it had been made by a child, it was a girl doll from the little white dress it wore, it's skin an off-white color, it had green stitched eyes, and red cloth had been braided and attached to its head, Harry turned the doll over gently and was surprised at the words that had been stitched to the back, 'Lily, Mother of Harry; Protector of Children.'
Harry repacked the bag, the clothes going on the bottom, the blanket next, and the doll last and set the bag by the door before he settled in the window seat and slept with the moon on his face, the same as he had every night since they had come here, the bed had been too soft, he had slept for two days straight and had a headache when he had woken.
Harry walked out of Rivendell next to Frodo and Samwise the next morning, his bag over his shoulder. It was quiet among the company as they left the comforts of the Elven City, but Harry for one was glad to leave, it had been a long while since he had stayed in one place for so long, at least in one stretch of time and he was unused to so many people milling about, so he had been getting antsy, and wanted to walk, but he had promised Frodo he would walk with him.
They made camp the first night silently, well, except for the Hobbits , but they were children yet, no matter who said otherwise and Harry couldn't help but smile indulgently at them as they made their dinner, children were precious, no matter the species, Harry knew that if he had ever crossed paths with an Orc child it would be treated just the same as an Elven child, a Dwarven one, or a man child.
"Why do you look at them like that?" Boromir asked suddenly from where he was seated next to the fire.
Harry started and turned to the man, the others were watching him too, and Harry frowned in confusion.
"Like what?" He asked, not sure what the man meant.
"Like they are children." Boromir snapped.
Harry smiled, "Because that is what they are, children."
"They are closer to adults, Harry." Strider said softly as he sat next to Harry, coming back from looking around.
"Perhaps in a man's eyes, but in mine they are children and children are to be protected, no matter what, no matter species, gender, or anything else." Harry murmured.
"'Sounds like an Elf to me." The Dwarf muttered.
Harry smiled but said nothing more and took the plate of food that Samwise handed him, he was unsure of what to do with it, it had been so long since he had eaten food, he had hoped that Death would take pity on his body if he stopped eating and it withered away, Death had merely removed the need to eat and made him like a flower, knowing that he would never be able to bring himself to hide away in the darkness, he got everything he needed from the sun and from water, when it rained, because Death had found he loved dancing in the rain. Harry slowly ate the food, not sure he could eat, and he hadn't made it through half of it when the others began to get ready to sleep. Harry watched the company bunk down and wondered when the last time he had slept was around actual people, in a camp like this, he had gotten tired of people yelling at him for waking them up by screaming when his nightmares made an appearance instead of dreams
"Harry, do you want first watch?" Strider asked as he rolled out his blanket.
Harry shrugged and set his plate aside and stood up, stretching a little before he sat himself at the edge of the fire's light and listened to the others sleep, and when dawn came he turned to watch the sun rise, like he always did.
Legolas jumped awake when the sun's rays hit his face and frowned at him.
He walked over to Harry to stand next to him. "You did not wake us for watch."
"Should I have, Strider said I had first watch." Harry asked curiously.
Legolas looked at him strangely, "Watch is divided among us each night, you were supposed to have the first few hours then wake one of us for second watch, and so on. We don't want anyone too tired to fight if its needed."
"Oh, it has been a long while since I traveled with anyone." Harry explained.
Legolas nodded and went to wake the others for breakfast. Harry took only a few pieces of the bacon, feeling odd for doing so, and Legolas kept looking at him for some strange reason, Harry wasn't sure if he liked it, though he did like Legolas, but he knew that most Elves had Soul-mates that they searched for and knew at first sight, though Harry wondered if he might be obscured by being Death's Master, since even Elves could die and he couldn't.
They broke camp and walked for hours the Hobbits begging for tales of great adventures.
"Harry, why didn't you wake me for second watch?" Strider asked quietly as they walked at the back of the company, Boromir just a few paces ahead of them, while Gimli was entertaining the Hobbits with a tale, Gandalf and Legolas at the front of their company.
"I didn't know I was supposed to." Harry said softly.
"You thought I wanted you to stay up all night?" Strider asked surprised.
"I'm sorry." Harry said.
"Didn't you have watches with your other companions?" He asked.
Harry looked at him, "I have never traveled with any one before." Harry told him.
"You're joking!" Boromir shouted as he stopped to look back at the two.
Harry shook his head and wanted to say something about eavesdropping but decided against it, "No, I've met people on the road but we didn't travel together."
The others looked at him in shock.
"Is there something wrong with traveling alone?" Harry asked.
"What do you do about Orcs?" Gimli asked.
"I kill them, what else?" Harry was confused at their behavior.
"Alone?" Frodo asked quietly.
Harry nodded, "I don't understand what is wrong with that."
"You are either very brave or have a death wish." Boromir muttered.
"Perhaps a bit of both, Boromir." Harry smiled.
"Well, we take turns for watch, tonight you can sleep through, though, since you were up all night." Strider said.
"Thank you, Strider." Harry said.
"Aragorn, might as well call me by name." Aragorn muttered.
Harry didn't understand why they were climbing the mountain, he had never needed to climb a snow covered mountain, though Harry decided that after this trip was over he was going to take a mountain route home, just because. He did feel sorry for the majority of the Fellowship as they were stuck wading through the snow while he and Legolas walked on top of it and Boromir had glared at him for that, as though it were his fault that he was light enough to walk on the snow. Harry had cast slight heating charms for them though, even Gandalf, and he expected the Wizard to pull him aside for a talk of some sort, though he hadn't given an indication that he knew what Harry had done.
Legolas suddenly rushed ahead and to the edge of the mountain, "There is a fell voice on the air." He said.
After a moment Harry heard it too, as the others yelled about falling mountains, Harry reached out to the magic of the world and asked if he could use it, like he always did, it answered an affirmative and Harry wrapped the magic around the others and anchored it to Frodo's sword, weaving protections into the magic, ensuring that each person would be protected from some injuries.
But it was decided that they would go the way of mines, Harry wondered if they were the same ones that he had fallen into at one point, and why they hadn't gone this way in the first place. It didn't take long for them to reach the base of the mountain and slip into the cave that led to the entrance of the mine dwellings.
Harry ignored the Fellowship as they attempted to open the doors in favor of watching the creature that garded the entrance, it was sleeping until one of the Hobbits threw rocks into the water, Harry was glad that Aragorn had halted the boy but it was too late, the creature was waking up and the doors were opening and then Gimli was bawling, Harry didn't understand why but his noise let the creature know that they were there.
Harry watched blankly as the hungry creature dragged one of the Hobbits up and began to lower it towards its mouth.
"Harry, do something!" Aragorn shouted from where he stood next to the open door.
Harry glanced blankly at the man and then up to where Frodo was dangling. Harry sighed and began wading into the water, he didn't draw his sword, why should he, the creature was only hungry after all. One of the tentacles swept towards him and Harry ducked under it only to be caught in the chest by another, he slid he legs up before the creature could tighten its grip, drew his long sword, and waited until he was close enough to the tentacle that held Frodo to put the blade of his sword on one side, grip the tip of it and jump from the tentacle he was on, slicing the part that held Frodo off allowing Aragorn and Boromir to pull Frodo from its grasp. Harry pushed himself into a standing position, curling his hand empty into a fist as he did so.
"Get into the mines." Harry said urgently as he stumbled out of the water, "Hurry."
"But we should go back and use the road." Boromir growled, and the creature began screeching louder and thrashed even more wildly as it seemed to realize that it was missing a piece of itself and that its dinner was getting away, and one of its tentacles hit the top of the cave and rocks began raining down.
Harry began running towards the mine, "Get to the mine!" He shouted, needlessly.
When the dust settled and Gandalf had given them a little light as they walked, Aragorn turned to Harry.
"Why didn't you do something before I called out to you?" He asked.
"It was only hungry." Harry said simply.
"So, if an Orc was hungry and put you on the menu, you'd let it eat you?" Boromir snapped.
"I'm sorry, I'm not used to keeping track of other people."
"You keep saying that, Mister Harry, but that is no excuse." Samwise said softly.
Harry looked at the boy, and then away, "I am sorry. I..." Harry fell silent knowing there was little else he could say to make them understand.
They walked silently after that, until they made camp and Harry sat away from the others as they huddled around the fire and Samwise passed out the food, it was Merry that walked over to him and handed him the plate of food.
"It has less than the others', Sam noticed that you never manage to finish it if you have the same amount, and it's a shame to waste food." Merry said as Harry took the plate.
Harry ate slowly, making sure that he tasted every bit of flavor that Samwise had put into the meal, though it was difficult to hold the plate with his fist closed, but another thing that he hated about Death was that, while he couldn't die, he didn't heal instantly, each of the surface wounds that he got took the same amount of time to heal as a normal person, he just didn't feel it as they did so, and he wasn't really hindered by them, but it was a pain to explain how he could still walk when his leg had just been broken.
"So, why didn't you help Frodo?" Merry asked as he watched Harry eat.
Harry set the plate in his lap, "When I was little, the lake outside our village had a creature like that living in it, not many children believed that the creature existed, and didn't take the adult's warnings about a child eating creature to heart, we out on the lake one day and one of the children fell in, I dived in to save him, but some of the more nasty creatures were holding him under and they were very strong, and we were running out of air, but I didn't want to leave him..." Harry fell silent a moment, closing his eyes to remember the incident, it was a little different, but only a little, he, Ron, and Hermione had been bored and had transfigured a boat and gone to the center of the lake, Ron had wanted to see the Giant Squid and leaned too far over the side and fallen in, the grindylows had dragged him down to the bottom of the lake and Harry had gone after him, "A tentacle wrapped around us both, pulled us away, lifted us out of the water and set us on the lake shore, it then pushed the boat back to shore. Needless to say the other children no longer feared the lake monster." Harry smiled, sadly, "It took me a moment to realize that it wasn't the same creature that had saved our lives."
"Oh, why don't you come and sit with us though, can't be fun in the dark all by your lonesome." Merry said pulling Harry up and dragging him to the others.
"You could have told us that, Harry, we would not have thought the worse of you for it." Aragorn said softly as Harry sat down next to Legolas.
"What happened to your hand?" Frodo asked, looking at Harry's curled hand.
Harry looked down at his hand, "Just a little cut, Frodo, nothing to worry about."
Legolas raised an eyebrow, "Than uncurl your hand." He demanded as he pulled Harry's hand into his own.
Harry scowled but did as requested, and Legolas carefully bandaged the wound.
"Harry?" Pippin asked as Legolas wrapped Harry's hand, "Will you tell us about some of your adventures, you had to have had some before you came across us, and Gimli is starting to repeat himself."
"Heh, see if I tell you anymore tale." Gimli muttered.
"My travels were largely uneventful, Pippin, I hunt Orcs, you see and my travels are mainly tracking them and killing them. I am sorry to disappoint you." Harry explained as Legolas gave him his hand back.
Then a few days later Gandalf lost his way Harry stayed silent as the others milled about as though they were lost and Harry knelt down and pressed his ear to the rock below him and listened, something dangerous dwelt here, something evil, and he wasn't speaking of the Orcs that were wandering the halls of the Dwarves.
"Ah, it's this way..." Gandalf said suddenly and the company followed as did Harry, wondering why he felt more unease as he did so than he had before, was it because they slipped nearer to the evil creature that dwelled here, or was it Death that awaited them.
Harry shook his head and glanced behind them to make sure the strange creature, harmless, but dangerous when tempted properly, was the only thing following them, it wasn't, but the Orcs were far enough back and unaware of their presence, for now. Harry followed the Fellowship into the room and closed the doors quietly behind him as Gimli mourned for his fallen brethren. Harry ignored Gandalf reading to pull Pippin away from the skeleton and to tell him and Merry not to make a noise. Harry pulled the four Hobbits closer to him as the Orcs got nearer, they were loud, what could be that loud and why would it be with the Orcs.
"Mister Harry, what is wrong?" Samwise asked quietly in fear.
"Shh, listen." Harry murmured, so quietly that Legolas struggled to hear it.
"What is it?" Boromir asked, not being quiet at all.
Harry jumped as there was a thud against the door.
"Mister Harry, what should we do?" Samwise asked.
"Draw your swords and try not to die, or get stabbed, infections are horrible." Harry murmured as he pulled out his sword, stepping so that he was in front of the Hobbits and the door shattered inwards, "Oh, a troll, I haven't fought one of those yet." Harry whispered.
Harry didn't move as the Orcs fought their way in and he didn't move his feet when they engaged him, defending only, it had been a long time since he had defended, because it had been a long while since he had anything to defend. It was easy to use their weapons against them but the hardest part was standing still, he wanted to move, to attack, like he usually did when he fought Orcs.
"Mister Harry?" Pippin asked.
"Shit!" Harry gasped as an Orc caught him in the side, "Merry, Pippin, Frodo, Samwise, up onto that ledge, stay there, don't move," Harry waited until they obeyed and then he was moving, he needed to incapacitate the troll, it was allowing more in, it was a distraction more than a fighter.
Harry stabbed its foot, dragging its attention from where Frodo was crammed into a corner, and darted away from its large crushing feet and threw himself over the tomb that had been centered as the troll roared. Harry ducked its swing and used his short sword to stab its arm, it roared again and dragged its arm over its head to swing again, Harry used the moment the arm was above the troll's head to let go of his sword and dropped down onto the being's neck, and he used the other sword to stab the troll in the back of the neck, it dropped down to the ground and Harry went flying into a wall, hitting his head.
Harry pushed himself into a standing position, leaning on the wall as he tried to focus the people in the room, he stumbled over to the troll's arm and took his short sword back, slipping it away.
"We should be leaving." Aragorn said, and Gandalf began to lead them away from the tomb.
Harry stumbled after them and they were surrounded by Orcs in the great hall. Harry glance at what looked like flames coming from the end of the hall and heard the Orcs scramble away, cowards that they were, but Harry still couldn't focus enough to know what it was.
"Whatever that is, totally not good." Harry muttered, as he glanced at the others, trying to remain standing.
"To the bridge!" Gandalf shouted.
Harry focused on keeping up with the Fellowship, he didn't bother trying to think anymore, it hurt more than he wanted to admit. Harry saw the others jump, and Aragorn and Frodo fall to the other side and the bridge piece fall into darkness.
"Mister Harry!" Samwise shouted looking back.
Harry didn't slow down as he ran, if he did he didn't have a chance at making it over the gap, but he also waited until his foot touched the edge, flinging himself across the gap more than jumping it. His feet landed on the very edge of the other side which began to crumble under the weight of his landing, Harry's mind wasn't working fast enough to realize that though, and he would have to thank Boromir for saving his life later, Boromir kept his arm around Harry as they continued to run, Harry barely noticed, he was dizzy and just wanted to puke and then sleep.
Harry closed his eyes tightly against the bright sun that shone down on them as they exited the mine, he felt like he had missed something important, but he stepped away from Boromir, collapsing on the ground to empty his stomach and looked blankly at the blood in his vomit.
"That can't be good." He whimpered as he pushed himself into a standing position, swaying slightly.
"Are you okay, Mister Harry?" Pippin asked as they began running again.
Harry tried to smile, but it was very weak and it turned into a wince as his head throbbed. "Never you mind, I'll be fine."
They made camp at nightfall, three days of running and no sleep later, and Harry tried again to focus on something, but still nothing became clear, and he kept looking in the darkness instead of the fire, it made his head hurt less. Harry closed his eyes and tried to block out the murmur of noise behind him.
"Mister Harry?" Samwise asked.
"Yes, Samwise?" Harry didn't bother opening his eyes to look st the Hobbit.
"Are you hungry?" Samwise asked.
At the mention of food Harry felt ill and scrambled to stand up and move far enough away that they others wouldn't smell the sick and ruin their appetites. Harry leaned against a tree, letting himself sink to the forest floor, and wished for something cool to be pressed to his forehead as his eyes fell closed again.
"You're not okay, are you?" Aragorn's voice asked.
Harry opened his eyed and turned his head towards the shadowy figure, "'M fine, 'be fine, 'dizzy, 'blurry. 'Wanna sleep." Harry slurred.
"Yeah, not fine." Aragorn muttered as he lifted Harry up and carried him back to their camp.
Harry was curled against Boromir, at least he thought it was Boromir, as the man took watch, and he didn't feel like moving. When morning came Harry didn't want to wake up and his entire body hurt like hell, and he hated Death for making him unable to die. He was coherent enough, briefly, to realize that they were moving but he couldn't tell who was carrying him.
It was days later that he woke, he sat up slowly and shivered, he didn't know where he was but he didn't like it.
"Hello, my name is Galadriel, and you are Harry, Son of James."
Harry scowled, "Harry, Son of Lily. Why am I here?"
"You were very near death, you are lucky to have made it to us before you were beyond help." Galadriel said.
"Lucky?" Harry asked getting up, "You and I have different views on luck, Ma'am." Harry snapped brushing passed her.
Harry found the others easily and prepared to leave, reassuring the Hobbits that he was fine as they packed.
They left the Elves on boats and Harry was forbidden from rowing by Aragorn and Boromir both and Harry had glared at them, much to the amusement of the others. When they pulled the boats onto bank of the river Harry decided that he needed to talk to Boromir.
"Boromir?" Harry called before the man could vanish after Frodo, "We should talk." And Harry pulled the man away from the company though they remained in sight of them; Harry sat on one of the rocks.
"Sit, Boromir." Harry made a motion to a fallen tree across from him.
"What?" Boromir snapped, refusing the seat.
"The Ring would not save Gondor." Harry said softly.
"And how do you know?" Boromir growled, as he paced.
"It is not a mere Ring, Boromir, it is a bit of your Dark Lord." Harry explained.
"And what would you know of it?"
Harry sighed and unbuttoned the buttons that held the neck of his shirt closed, and he kept unbuttoning it until half way down his chest. He opened the shirt slowly, revealing a mark much like the one that Frodo was gaining from where the Ring rested on his chest, Harry's was different, darker in color, it was as though he had tattooed a necklace on himself, with a heart-shaped impression over his heart.
"I have dealt with similar items before, the ones I destroyed, Boromir, were a great deal harder to destroy than returning them to where they were made, items like that become tainted with their creator's ill will, they can do nothing good, Boromir, no matter how pure the intention behind using them." Harry looked at the man as he re-buttoned his shirt, "You are a good man, do not let the darkness of the Ring take that from you."
"Is that why you act so strange?" Boromir asked after a few moments of silence.
"In part, but there is much more to my strangeness." Harry smiled, but it slipped from his lips as he heard shouts. "The others!"
They turned in time to see Frodo take one of the boats onto the river, Boromir went to follow but Harry held him back, "He will be taken to Mt. Doom, but not by one of us, our paths separate here, we must find Merry and Pippin."
Boromir nodded and they fought their way through Orcs and Uruk-Hai to where Merry and Pippin were doing their best to keep the Orcs and Uruks from getting them, Boromir and Harry easily made their way to help the little ones and began to protect them, Harry paid little mind to the injuries he was acquiring, and it was only out of the corner of his eye that he saw the arrow hit Boromir in the chest, his eyes followed where the arrow had come from, and watched the creature draw another, Harry shifted his grip on his short sword and threw it toward the creature, using magic to insure that it imbedded itself into the being's chest before he refocused on the Orcs around him, but he didn't have a chance to draw his second blade, instead he used the Orcs' against them, but somehow they grabbed Merry and Pippin and ran off with the two as Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn arrived and helped dispatch the remainder of the Orcs.
Harry ran to Boromir as the man collapsed onto the ground curling his arm under his shoulders as he gently lowered him down to lay on the ground.
"Boromir!" Aragorn shouted as he knelt next to the man.
Harry pulled the arrow from Boromir's chest, Harry looked down at the gasping man as Legolas carefully began to pull Boromir's shirt away from the wound, using some of his water to cleanse it, Boromir was lucky it had been only one arrow.
"You are a very lucky man." Harry murmured.
"I think you and I have a different idea about luck." Boromir gasped.
"Perhaps," Harry hesitated, "Do you want me to take away the pain?"
"Don't give me false hope." Boromir growled.
Harry smiled, "Legolas, stop a moment." Legolas stopped and Harry pressed his hand over the wound and pulled the pain from it, leaving only dull twinges as Legolas began to sew the wound closed.
"You're going to explain that, later." Boromir muttered.
"You are not healed, but there will be no pain while it does heal, so you will have to keep a good eye on it to keep it from becoming infected." Harry explained, "And if you are good, I might tell you, but no guarantees."
Boromir nodded as Legolas let him up.
"We should catch up to Frodo and Sam." Legolas said as he rushed toward the boats.
"I'm going after Pippin and Merry." Harry said quietly, "Even if they are safe until they reach your Dark Lord, what will he do to them once he realises that neither has the Ring?" Harry shook his head, "I won't let them suffer that fate." Harry said turning and running in the same direction that the Orcs had carried Merry and Pippin off in.
"Harry's right." Aragorn said softly.
Gimli nodded, "Let's go then."
And they ran after Harry. They ran for days, Harry lost count, it did not matter any way but each time they came close, the Orcs sped up. Human riders going passed them on the plains they were crossing made Aragorn stop and cry out to them.
"What news from the Mark?" He shouted.
"Who are you?" The man asked angrily as he and his men circled them.
"Give me your name and I will give you mine." Gimli growled.
"I am Eomer, Son of Eomund, but the stranger should name himself first." The man said.
"I am Gimli, Son of Glion."
Their leader sneered, "What business do three men, an Elf, and a Dwarf have at the Riddermark?"
"We look for two Hobbits , taken by a group of Orcs." Aragorn said.
"We killed the Orcs in the night, we left none alive."
"They would be small, only children to your eyes." Aragorn returned.
"We burned the bodies, you are welcome to search. Take these horses, may they bare you to better fortune than their previous owners." The man said motioning someone to bring four rider-less horses to them.
Aragorn nodded, and took the reins of the four horses, and they watched the men ride away. Harry took the reins from Aragorn when he offered them and slid into the saddle easily, petting his horse's neck gently.
"Strange, that you know how to ride but not how to act around people." Boromir teased.
Harry smiled, "Animals are simple creatures."
They rode to the burn pile and Harry watched the Orcs burn for a moment before he turned away, he thought about just returning home, but he was tired of being alone, tired of traveling alone, of coming and going and never being able to stay.
"What would possesss them to go in there?" Gimli asked they stopped in front of a forest.
"Fear, Gimli, fear." Harry slipped off of his horse, "Let's go fetch them then." and Harry entered the forest not even glancing back to see if the others would follow, but by the time they entered the forest Harry had vanished.
Harry followed the strange footprints, knowing that Merry and Pippin were with the being because the protection spell was still in place and it wasn't telling him that the two were in danger, though the ones around Frodo and Samwise were buzzing constantly. Harry found the children and the strange beings that Harry had seen in passing, but had not discovered what they were called, in what seemed to be a meeting.
"Harry!" Pippin yelled running over to launch himself at Harry.
"Hello, Pippin, Merry. Are you doing alright?" Harry asked as he drew Merry into a hug as well.
"We're fine, what about the others?" Merry asked.
"Last I knew they were fine." Harry smiled.
It was hours later that they were riding on Treebeard heading toward Isengard, Harry meditated as they walked and wasn't surprised when Treebeard screamed, calling the Ents to battle, and they detroyed the industry that Saruman created, Harry convinced the Ents to let him be on the ground, he ended up at the edges of Isengard looking out in the direction he knew his home to be.
"Harry!" Someone shouted.
Harry turned to see Boromir and the Fellowship. He smiled as he walked to the horse he had been given and pulled himself into the saddled after whispering to the horse.
"I am afraid that this is where our paths separate." Harry said quietly, ignoring the protests that Merry and Pippin made.
"Why?" Aragorn asked.
"We will see each other again, soon, but..." Harry trailed off, the spell he had cast on Frodo was telling him that something around him meant him ill.
Boromir nodded, "We will see each other again."
Harry smiled and wondered if he was lying to them but he turned his horse and pushed it into a run. As soon as he was out of sight he dismounted the horse, "Thank you." He whispered and asked the magic to take him to Frodo, he appeared only a few miles away from their camp, he could see the light from their fire. He would catch up to them later, but first he needed to find out why this place felt familiar. He sat down and meditated again.
When he opened his eyes in the morning Harry knew where he was and why it was familiar, this was where he had been all those years ago when he had first came here. Harry caught up to Frodo, Samwise, and Gollum the next day just as they were about to enter the plains of Mordor.
"Frodo, thank goodness I found you, I've been looking everywhere." Harry exclaimed as he pulled Frodo and Samwise into a hug, dropping to his knees once he reached them so he was at their level.
"Harry." Samwise said softly into Harry's neck.
It took Harry a moment but he felt the taint, "Frodo, are you okay?"
Frodo's eyes filled with tears, "It hurts, Harry, it feels like it is dragging me down." He cried as he buried his face into Harry's shirt.
"Frodo, you don't have to continue." Harry murmured petting Frodo's hair softly.
"What do you mean?" Frodo asked as he pulled back and dried his tears.
"If you don't want to continue, I will take the Ring to Mt. Doom." Harry said quietly as he stood and looked down at the child.
"Really?" Frodo asked excitedly.
"Yes, I know where to go from here." Harry turned to Gollum, "You will take Frodo and Samwise to Minas Tirith, and make sure there are no accidents planned, clear?" Harry asked, wrapping a little magic to insure that he would be listened to.
Gollum nodded in fear.
"The Ring Frodo, and you will be on your way." Frodo handed the Ring to Harry and Harry slipped it around his neck, nodded to Frodo and Samwise and walked away.
Harry walked into Mordor during night time and began climbing the volcano that he had once climbed down, he didn't know how long he climbed for, nor did he know how long it had been since he had left Frodo. When he finally stood on the remains of the bridge he sat down and he watched the river of fire for a while, just as he had done when he had first woken up here, why did he arrive here, of all places to show up, why not Rivendell, or the plains of Gondor, why this place?
"Because, this is where I can take a tangble form." A voice said suddenly. "And here is where I had the power to transport you, You should have died during that ritual, Master, but you didn't, I couldn't let you, so, here is where I brought you."
Harry stood quickly and turned to face the voice that he knew belonged to Death, no one else called him Master.
"Death. Why are you here?" Harry asked the cloaked man, though his robes were much finer than the Nazgul's.
"Because you have a choice to make, Master." Death said.
"And what choice is that?" Harry asked.
"The Ring must be destroyed, there is no doubt, Sauron has avoided me for far too long..."
"Much like Tom." Harry interrupted softly.
Death nodded, "Much like Tom, your choices, Master, are staying here, or returning to the world you left behind."
"I would like to stay here, I like it here, I like the people I met."
"Even knowing that they would die and you would not, you would stay?" Death asked in surprise.
Harry paused before he nodded. "Yes, I would stay."
Death inclined his head, "Drop the Ring into the river."
Harry did so, watching the Ring fall into the red river and watching the river begin to rise as Death stepped behind him on the edge of broken bridge. "What now?" Harry whispered.
"Now I tie your life to your mate's and release you from your duties, the gifts I gave you will remain, but in return I will be taking the three Hallows." Death said quietly into Harry's ear.
"And will you tell me who my mate is?" Harry asked turning to face Death.
"He will know you when he sees you next, and I will see you when it is time to collect your soul, You will forever be the only Master Death will ever be glad of having." Death whispered as he pressed a light kiss to Harry's lips before they vanished and suddenly Harry was on a high point of the volcano's uneven rock, surrounded by lava and Death was gone.
Harry stood on the rock and raised his arms to the sky as the lava flowed around him, he was mortal-ish, tied to his soul mate's life, but that was fine. Harry was more surprised he had a soul mate. Harry waited for hours and climbed onto the eagle behind Gandalf when he came to fetch him.
Harry pulled his long hair into a single braid and then he walked down the stairs to have dinner with the Fellowship, it would be the first time that he was allowed down into the hall, he had been a lot more injured than he had thought, and he had passed out as the giant eagle flew them to Minas Tirith.
Harry smiled as he watched Frodo laugh with Samwise, Merry, and Pippin and he settled himself on Pippin's right, him being the last one of the Hobbits at the table and there was an empty seat there, and Harry felt hungry for the first time in ages, though he was smart and only put a bit of food on his plate. Harry looked across the table and smiled at Boromir.
"Feeling better?" He asked.
"Yes, I feel wonderful actually." Harry returned, making the hall fall silent.
"Don't ever do something so stupid again, Harry." Aragorn shouted as he crushed Harry in a hug.
"I can't promise that, what if another Dark Lord has a stupid idea?" Harry asked.
"Don't even think about it." Aragorn growled.
"What am I supposed to do then, If I can't help." Harry asked.
"You could be a medic." Boromir suggested.
Harry paused to think and then nodded, "I can do that. But being around a lot of people is going to take a while for me to get used to." Harry smiled around the room and his gaze fell on Legolas who was just watching him, like he was amazing and wonderful.
It took Harry a week to finally get Legolas alone, a week and Aragorn on his honeymoon with Arwen and Boromir escorting the Hobbits back to the Shire, and Gimli entertaining some of the city children with tales of his adventures.
"Legolas?" Harry asked as he stepped into the gardens that Legolas had been hiding in. "Why are you avoiding me?"
Legolas looked at him in confusion, "You do not know then."
"Know what?" Harry asked sitting beside the Elf.
Legolas looked into Harry's green eyes with his own blue.
"You are my mate." Harry whispered, almost inaudible.
Legolas nodded and looked away.
"You thought I wouldn't want you, didn't you?" Harry asked.
"We barely know each other." Legolas murmured.
"Then we remedy that, Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood." Harry said simply.
And they did.
They had all been surprised that not only was Harry a Wizard but from another world entirely, when Harry finally felt brave enough to tell them years later. Gandalf had had many questions about the Wizard community from the other world, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Samwise, and Bilbo had been greatly amused by the tales of his youth, though Legolas, Boromir, and Aragorn had nearly had heart attacks when Harry revealed the truth about his own Dark Lord, and Arwen had loved his descriptions of the creatures of his world, unicorns especially.
But Harry only ever told one person the whole truth of how he came to be in Middle-Earth, his husband and Mate was the only one that he had told that the ritual should have killed him, but because he was Death's Master at the time, and unable to die after too many years of trying he had attempted the ritual that had taken him to Mt. Doom. He had also told him of his years hiding at the edge of the Dead Marshes, afraid that he was the only human, of course Harry only told Legolas this when the Elf had asked why he hadn't been able to sense him the first time they had met, then Harry had had to explain that Death had tied his life to Legolas, and how he had become the Master of Death in the first place.
He had also reassured Legolas that the three Hollows had been taken by Death so there was no chance of anyone acquiring them again.
Everyone lives happily ever after, except Saruman, and Sauron, oh and the Orcs and Gollum.