Southern Comfort

AN: Named after the alcohol I was drinking when I wrote it. I probably could have called it Getting Back on the Horse.

It's not that he wants to die, he just can't help but be dissatisfied with his humdrum life and wonders where that train Dead-Dumbledore offered might have taken him.

Hermione and Ron don't understand, mostly because they're so busy talking that they don't listen.

"It's only reasonable to miss a life of adventure when that's all you've known. You just have to find the adventure in living a rational and logical life."

"What you need is a bird mate. Have I told you Parvati asked about you?"

They practically drove him to it. They stood between him and his floo and made demands of him that no one else would have the balls to do.

"Harry, please, we're only trying to help you. These thoughts are only because of an imbalance, we'll fix you up and you'll be happy. I promise."

"Mate, I need to take your wand. I'm afraid of what you'll do with it."

He would regret one thing though; just before he jumped through the veil he remembered he'd forgotten his Father's cloak.


The veil hurts. He's spinning and being stretched and compressed, flattened and inflated until he can't remember what he's supposed to feel like.

He starts to think this is what madness feels like, what hell is; an eternity of eye popping pressure followed by a sharp lack that causes him to practically ooze into the space left behind. Then yet more pressure. It reshapes him, molds him into new shapes; short ones, fat ones, itty bitty skinny ones. He can't keep up, keep track of how he's shaped. He can't remember how he should feel.

The veil blinds him, light flashing so fast it makes his stomach roll, makes something roll anyway. He closes his eyes against it, but it penetrates his eyelids. He can't think, can't feel. There is a screaming in his ears low and high and so loud it vibrates his bones; His skin. He smells and tastes both every good and bad thing he's ever had. He tries to vomit but it gets stuck in his throat. He can't breathe but it seems he doesn't need to.


When it stopped, it took Harry a while to notice. The stench was foul, the sound of screaming metal clanging, manly groans of agony. The light was bright and Harry's body felt weird, but the pressure was gone.

After a moment Harry opened his eyes. A large hand was lifting him closer to the ugliest face full of sharp teeth and big ears and scarification all over its visible body. Its skin was a sickly albino white and it was covered in sticky icky stuff that was most definitely blood. The hand that lifted him was so big it covered Harry from shoulder to hip. It squeezed him until it was hard to breath.

It said something in a language Harry didn't understand and licked Harry's face. Voices behind Harry's field of view shouted out 'NO's" and curses. It smelled worse than the troll but there was a malice in its eyes that the troll had lacked.

Disgusted Harry clasped his wand tight, pointed it carefully using only his wrist, and cast a severing charm at its shoulder, cutting off the nasty thing's arm. The thing dropped Harry and he noticed the other arm was really a rake stuck into the socket where the other arm used to me. It now was missing both arms and looked kind of like a t-shirt manikin Harry had seen at a shop once.

Bulky hairy figures rushed by Harry and attacked the writhing thing. They stabbed it with swords and a dark haired one with a shining blade chopped off its head and held it up, palming the skull like a quaffal.

Harry had by now noticed the battling hordes of hairy figures facing stinky ugly things riding fierce wolves.

The stinky ugly things let out high pitched shrieks of fear at the sight of the pale head hanging lax in the hand of the victorious man. The stinky things began to run, some of them towards Harry. He readied himself to cut them down if they tried to lick him but suddenly two of the bearded men were before him, intercepting and killing the foul, troll like, creatures.

The blond one turned to him while the dark one with the bow kept watch and shot at any creatures that got to close.

"This is no place for a babe. How came you to be here?"

Harry grinned at him madly. "I took a train, or maybe hopped on a magic carpet,' He laughed.

"A mad elfling?'

The dark one relaxed his bow string, watching the creatures retreat. 'They're all mad Fili my lad.'

'Kili' the older man dropped the pale troll thing's head on the ground by the bowman's feet. 'Are you or Fili injured?' his face was stern but Harry had been raised on a steady diet of Snape and McGonagall and he could see concern and then true relief on the man's face as Kili told him they were fine.

'I'm fine too.' Harry said poking his middle to prove it. The older man came and dropped to his knees before Harry who promptly realized how tall everyone was. Either heaven was full of giants or this world was. Still Harry pouted a little to realize he was still quiet short.

'I saw you appear from nothing. Have you a magic ring little one? And why would you take it off before that monster. You could be been killed.' The man's beard looked soft and the beads in it looked shiny even though splattered in black goop that was probably the creature's blood. Before Harry thought to resist he reached out to grab one of the beads. The man caught his hand. 'Little one, how did you come to be here? Where are your parents?'

'Dead,' Harry said absently reaching with his other hand. This one slipped the man's attention as he was focused on Harry's words.

'I'm sorry little one.'

'Was it orcs?' the blond man asked.

'What's an orc?' Harry asked back, focused on cleaning the black blood off the metal beads in front of him. He slipped one off a braid to clean it with his shirt.

'Fili" the man kneeling reprimanded the blond. More men approached, all with thick hair and beards, or no hair and beards, but never hairless; always with a beard. Heaven was apparently very beardy. Each was heavily armed and covered in black goo.

'Hail the victorious king of the mountain,' one said as he approached. The man kneeling before Harry stood, picked up a squawking Harry and passed him to Kili. Harry squirmed, 'put me down,' and hit Kili soundly in the face until Kili wrestled him so Harry was held secure with his back to Kili's front and his arms caught by one of Kili's.

'Okay there brother?' Fili chuckled while Harry pouted and Kili pressed gentle fingers to his own eye which was puffing up nicely.

'Thorin…' the other men gasped.

One asked gingerly, 'where did you get an efling?'

Thorin sighed, 'he appeared amid the battle standing before Azog. The beast was going to feast of his flesh…'

'Uncle!' Fili protested seeing Harry pale.

'He was going to eat me?' Harry whispered in horror.

Thorin turned to Harry, 'he cannot, for he has not arms nor head.' He reassured. Harry reached for him and after a beat Thorin took Harry in his arms. Kili grumbled but everyone ignored him.

'I got his arm,' Harry told him.

'Yes,' Thorin said, 'and I his head.' Harry rolled his eyes.

'Fine, you win.'

Thorin blinked and then smiled. "Yes, I did win.'

"Thorin," one of the men nudged him and Thorin turned to see two groups of yet taller giants approaching.

'Are they going to eat me?' Harry asked, squirming to be set down.

'No, I'll not let them.' Thorin said and Fili and Kili stepped in front of them while the other fanned out behind them. Harry had seen them kill those troll things and felt rather safe.

From each party a man stepped away and came close. One was less hairy but dark haired and had a welcoming face. The other had long shiny and gleaming golden hair and might as well been made of ice for all that his face moved.

"King Thranduil, King Bard,' Thorin greeted the icicle first and then the other with a nod.

The icicle paused as he saw Harry and said, 'why do you hold an elfling in your arms? Do you mean to ransom the return of your treasure with the murder of this child?'

"Not a child,' Harry mumbled but couldn't be heard over the growling of Thorin's company.

"No,' Thorin said simply.

'Then he is free to come to me?' Thranduil asked tilting his head like a bird.

'Of course,' Thorin put Harry on his feet but Harry did not go to the cold giant. 'Go to your king.' Thorin ordered giving Harry a gentle push but Harry would not.

'I don't have a king,' he said

'Child,' Thranduil commanded, 'come.' Harry lifted a brow and crossed his arms leaning against Thorin's leg.

'No, I'm gonna stay with Thorin. I don't know you. I don't like you. Your face hasn't moved. If you smile will your face crack?'

Thorin's company laughed and even the giant Bard grinned.

'This is no place for children. Have a warrior collect the lad so was can talk.' Bard said.

With a nod Thranduil gestured forward one from his party.

"No,' Harry said taking a step deeper into Thorin's company. Thorin put his hand on Harrys shoulder.

"If Fili and Kili go with you will you let them at least see if you are wounded?" Fili and Kili looked up to it when Harry checked with them, so he nodded.

"Fine but I'm walking. None of you get to pick me up 'nless I say.' Kili laughed.

"By all means your bossiness, walk on." He bowed low as Harry walked to Thranduil's party and fell in behind Harry.

They took Harry to a tent full of moaning and bleeding wounded. He was marked with whispers of 'elfling'

Harry preferred not to ask questions but he had to know.

'Why do they call me elfling?' Harry asked the lady who was cleaning the scratches the pale orc had caused when he'd picked Harry up. She blinked and brushed her hair over her ear to show its pointed tip. 'Because you are a young elf. I too am an elf.'

Harry looked at Kili who'd been watching carefully and pestering the she-elf with questions. 'Are you an elf too?' Harry had noticed Kili's ears were also pointed though thicker ad more rounded than the elf. Kili puffed up with mock offence. 'Not at all young sir, I am a dwarf. Best race on middle earth if I say so myself.'

Harry nodded and said, 'them I'm not an elfling, I'm a dwarfling.

The lady elf frowned and then spoke in a different language. Harry blew her a raspberry. He felt the bed shake and looked over to see Kili's face bowed over crossed arms as if he was hugging himself and his whole body was rocking with laughter.

Harry grinned. He liked this place so far. The stinky-eating-people-things were dead or running away. The hairy-dwarf/giants were strong and nice and thought he was funny – sorta like a bunch of Hagrids.

The tent flap opened and the Ice King came in. The healer lady bowed to him along with every other elf and even the moaning quieted. The king's eyes never left Harry even when the healer went to him and whispered in that other language.

'Why's he stare'n at me?' Harry asked Fili pulling his blanket up over his lap modestly. Before they could answer the flap opened again to emit another elf. He looked like the king but his face moved a little and he had black goop in his hair and on his clothes.

"whoes'at?" Harry asked Fili and then again louder to the room at large when Fili shrugged.

'I am Legolas little one.' The elf said walking over with his hand on his chest. Harry pouted and crossed his arms. "Not little.'

'But you are,' the elf held out his hand, 'see how small your hand is to mine?' Harry buried his hands in his armpits. 'Just means you've big hands.'

Legolas grinned, 'stubborn."

"As a dwarf," the healer muttered taking up her pot of icky medicine to clean up Harrry's cuts.

"cuz I am a dwarf, " Harry reminded.

"No child," The ice king said, 'You are an elf. You cannot change what you are."

"You can't," Harry countered, "cuz you're a giant made of ice. I'm magic. I do what I want."

"Is that so?" Thorin said stepping into the tent with a normal sized man with a very normal head of curls and a waistcoat. Harry liked him immediately.

"Are you a dwarf?" Harry asked the nice average man who stuttered a little in shock and said, 'no I most certainly am not. I sir, am a hobbit of hobbiton; Bilbo Baggins." He said with a bow. Harry sighed sadly, that probably meant all dwarves were so tall.

"Are you a hobbit now?' Legolas asked and Harry glared at him.

"Nooo," Harry drew it out when he saw Kili grinning, "Still a dwarf."

Harry looked at Bilbo, "did you kill any ugly stinky things?"

Bilbo glanced around and then stilled oddly, "Yes, I guess I did."

Harry hummed in thought, impressed, "okay, you can be a dwarf too."

"Is that what it takes young one?" Legolas smiled, "I killed orcs this day, does that make me a dwarf?" the ice king's face cracked a little at that but Harry shook his head, "no you're not hairy enough. And you aint got beads."

The room broke into startled laughter and Kili ruffled Harry's hair saying, 'you're not very hairy either."

Harry pushed Kili's hand off. "Am so, I was named for my hairiness."

The ice king jerked at that. "And what is your name child?"

"Harry!" Harry grinned, "Harry the dwarf." And there was more laughter.

"And," Harry told them holding up his stolen bead, "I have a bead too, so there."

Thorin glanced at his braid and sighed, "I'd wondered where that went. Looks like we've another burglar on our hands."

Harry yawned, unreasonably tired and then glared at the she-elf in suspicion. She probably drugged him, that's what healers did.

But the room had noticed and soon after the king of the mountain and the ice king began to argue about what tent he should nap in. Thorin growled, and Thranduil lifted his nose and then all the kings elves and all the kings dwarves were shouting and pointing and generally being extremely entertaining if you asked Harry.

This left Harry and Bilbo watching together in stunned silence.

"so,' Bilbo said, trying to distract the boy,' I hear you can turn invisible?'

Harry patted his pocket and then remembered, 'no, I lost my magic cloak."

'A cloak,' Bilbo asked, 'I didn't know cloaks turned people invisible, I thought it was only rings.'

'Nope,' Harry shook his head, attention still on the fight, 'rings bring back the dead."

'Do they?" Bilbo asked in wonder. 'I'd not heard that story. How does it go?"

So Harry told him about the brothers and their deal with death and how it didn't go so good for them.

"But it's not so easy. Power like that isn't meant for average folks like us. It changes you."

Bilbo looked into suddenly ancient green eyes and said solemnly, "I'll remember that."

"So it is settled," Thorin shouted suddenly.

Thranduil nodded, "Yes, we let the burglar decide."

Suddenly every eye was on Bilbo. "Oh Dear."