Back to the Beginning

Chapter 3


The past day

After the stunt almost sixty years back with the dwarves, his father, the King of Mirkwood, had expressly forbid Legolas to hunt alone, much less go on patrol duty. Basically under house arrest and feeling restless, the Elven Prince had secretly gone out to hunt for spiders alone again.

It was not like he thought he would get caught, as this certainly was not his first 'excursion'.

As usual, he had hung out high among the trees, a fair distance away from the usual patrol, keeping his ears open for any clicking or scuttling. He did not have to go far, as he heard practically a stampede of them.

There was a colony of the beasts, and they numbered so many even he had hesitated to attack. But there were something he recognized as iron bar prisons that lay deformed by what he supposed were the spiders that seemed to have broken out from within. The question was, how had they gotten inside? How had they been trapped?

They were fighting against something – someone – already. Legolas frowned. Who could be so foolhardy and reckless as to enter the forest renown as the Mirkwood, the Forest of Great Fear?

And in addition to that, there were strange phenomena going on; some spiders' legs were detaching themselves from their bodies in a most violent manner; some bled from wounds they had not received physically; some turned to ash, others just shrank and that was when he saw her: a maiden, with long and thick dark hair, bare but for the mingled blood of both herself and the spiders, wielding a sword. It was not so much the clumsily wielded sword that interested him; it was the strangely formed stick in her left hand. The stick seemed to be the source of all the strange happenings. As he drew nearer branch by branch, she suddenly threw down her weapons and just lay down for the spiders to devour her.

Not on his watch.

Drawing and notching an arrow, Legolas loosed arrow after arrow after arrow, some simultaneously.

The spiders had long learnt to be wary of arrows that rained from above, or below… arrows in general, because it normally meant that the elven patrol had come out to give them a warm welcome of death.

So they fled, leaving the maiden bewildered and looking around for the source of the arrows. Legolas briefly examined her body, in search for any wounds incurred by the spiders. There were a few scrapes, but she did not seem to have been, by some miracle, injected with the poison that paralyzed the victim. She could not be human, he idly noted, as she had no hair save for the dark locks on her head. Examining her face, he noted that she was also too fair to be of mankind. She would be considered fair even amongst elves. But there was nothing ageless about her that came to mark elves after a thousand years. In fact, she seemed much younger than he. So she was a young elf. His father would be furious that he was not informed of the birth of an elf in the last thousand years had not reached the ears of Mirkwood. Then again, with times as they were…

When eyes as green as the leaves met his own, Legolas barely managed to mask his shock with concern. Was there really such a color of eyes among any being?

Legolas started fumbling with his tunic, first forgetting to take off the quiver on his back, then his bow, thus having to untangle both. Silently, he cursed; he hadn't been this clumsy since his early elfling days! Finally separating his tunic from his bow, he held out his tunic, careful to keep his eyes on her face.

"What did you hope to accomplish by venturing alone into a forest?" He questioned. A bit too harshly, as she seemed rather taken aback by his words.

"I don't speak your language." The fight seemed to have addled with her head, as she had said this quite fluently, though with an accent he had never heard before. Then, as if realizing what she had just said, she looked embarrassed and apologized. "Sorry… I am a bit of a… mess, you see."

She then looked to him for permission to put on his tunic.

He nodded; for what other reason would he have given it to her? To eat? He bit back a snort at the thought.

After she had pulled on the tunic, he commanded, "Follow me. You are injured."

Legolas could see the hesitation in her eyes, before it firmed into determination. "May I pick up my weapon?" she asked and Legolas nodded. Though she was clad only in his tunic and wounded and only able to wield the weapon like an amateur at best, he could hardly fight well if he had to constantly worry about her. At least the sword would give her some amount of protection. Besides, he was curious as to whether the elegantly carved stick was truly the source of her power, and whether or not she would retrieve it.

He watched her out of his peripheral vision, and surely enough, she surreptitiously picked it up. He imagined she thought she had been sneaky as she managed to swoop down and pick both the sword and the stick in one fell motion. He had to acknowledge her; had it been any other elf than he, in all probability, she would have succeeded in picking it up unnoticed.

Leading the way back to the Mirkwood palace, Legolas also had admit that she was fleet of foot. Almost on par with male elves. Her movements causing him to forget her wounds he gradually performed harder and harder maneuvers for her to copy, just to see how nimble she was. But then he accidentally made one too hard.

From his tree, Legolas called – sincerely, "There are many different ways to reach this tree, and you are wounded. Do not feel the need to take the same path as I." Well, he may have added a bit of a taunt to his tone, as she had been able to replicate his movements with an exactness, and he knew she would be unable to replicate this one.

As she climbed onto the very same vine he had, Legolas' amusement faded. Surely she wouldn't be foolish enough to try and copy his movements. It was impossible for a female. And having no sheath for that sword (not to mention the small branch, which he'd kept an eye on) would further hinder her. Though he had said that she was wounded, the dexterity and reflexes she had showcased thus far had made him forget that her injuries were very real.

"Wait, your wounds – " Legolas' eyes widened as he realized he'd lost any and all sense of maturity and managed to make it sound like he was goading her into copying him. "Wait!" But it was too late as she had already made a magnificent leap from the vine to the tree he'd changed his trajectory on, and was now headed towards the branch he was standing on.

His heart was in his mouth when she fell just short, but landed on the branch beneath him. She turned to look up at him, her eyes sparkling with mirth.

"What was that you wanted me to wait for?"

Legolas was caught between wanting to strangle her and laugh in relief. "Only for me to climb down to the branch you are standing on."

As she pouted at his response, Legolas felt his edges of his lips tug up in amusement before he heard her say something about, "stupid bloody dreams". Alarmed that anyone, much less an elf, would have anything like 'dreams of blood' he asked sharply, "Dream? Mayhap 'twas a vision? Are you in possession of powers like Lady Galadriel?" 'As well as the powers you wield with that branch?' Legolas was tempted to add.

Perhaps that was why she was here? Having mistaken the woods of Mirkwood for Lothlórien, where she would be apprenticed to Lady Galadriel? He knew it was unlikely, but this elf seemed to be particularly foolhardy and reckless, so it was a possibility.

She opened her mouth and Legolas half-expected her to confess about her mysterious powers, but in the end she simply shook her head. Somewhat disappointed, Legolas led her through the forest in silence for the next few leagues.

It was most unlike him, but Legolas' curiosity eventually got the better of him and he attempted to get her to confess to him of her powers once more. "You never answered my first question about what you were doing alone in a forest."

"And I have yet to know the identity of my guide." But this was a sly fox. She had turned the question back on him.

So he straightened, put a hand over his heart and curved his neck as close to a bow as a prince was allowed to anyone but a king. "I am Legolas."

And to his surprise, the female elf was suddenly spilling with questions. Not of the prince Legolas… but…

"Of the House of the Tree?"
What did a long lost House of Gondolin have to do with him?

"Were you not the scout of Galdor?"
A Silvan prince, mistaken for a scout of a Ñoldorin elf?

"Why did you return from Tol Eressëa?"
He had never even entertained thoughts of setting sail to Valinor!

She had clearly mistook him for an Ñoldorin elf of the same name, but of a completely different identity. And, she had clearly realized this by his face expression. He felt his irritation melt and give way to amusement once more at her face, frozen somewhere in between confusion and embarrassed realization.

"I know not where you hail from, Stranger, but it is fortunate that you did not mistake me for a Ñoldor in front of an audience. The rest of my Silvan kind are not so forgiving." In fact, a fair number of them still held a grudge for some elves directly descended from Ñoldorin elves that played a more… prominent role in elven history wrought with strife. "And had you confused me for a Ñoldor before my father the King, consequences would have been less than pleasant."

After indirectly revealing he was a prince, Legolas snuck a look at the as-of-yet-unnamed maiden. But her face was blank, and unable to tell what she was thinking, he resumed leading the way back to the palace of Mirkwood.

"I have introduced myself. It would be courteous for you to do the same." He looked back, and was satisfied to see a slight flush on her face as he thought, 'Yes. You have forgotten your manners, Young Stranger.'

As she made a great show of picking her way through the admittedly various plants of Mirkwood, Legolas waited for her answer. But as he watched on, the young elf seemed to transform into someone of far more experience and age. "I go by many names. But you may call me Seron."

The word 'friend' with the strong implication of 'lover' caught Legolas completely off guard and he stared at her, startled.

Seeming to notice how off kilter Legolas was, the young elf promptly returned and seemed to be conflicted. "Or…" there was a long pause, as if she were trying to remember her own name. Or think of a name. "Niphredil, if you prefer."

Yes, Legolas did prefer Niphredil. By leagues.

But for now, Legolas was judging the authenticity of what he strongly suspected was an alias. "…Niphredil, a flower that braves the winter… and heralds spring." His eyes searched the alleged Niphredil's bright green ones and found no malice, only faded scars from dark experiences from which she had obviously come out triumphant. Though she could have chosen something more fitting of her appearance – a white flower was hardly suitable for long dark hair – but the symbolism was unmistakable. "It suits you."

They proceeded on the way back to the palace. Legolas could practically see the guillotine hanging over his head when he returned to his father with a strange elf maiden. He refrained from sighing.

To take his mind off of the consequences of returning in a less-than-secret manner, Legolas stated, "You speak in a dialect I have never heard before." She only followed him across a log, and did not answer. He did not suppose there was much she could answer with, for that matter. And 'oh really?' or 'is that so' would just be banal. From what he'd gathered of Niphredil's character, if it was not worth saying, she would not bother.

Besides, there was a much more interesting topic on hand: espying the carved branch – he recognized the wood to be elder, now – in her hand cleverly disguised as one with the sword, Legolas wanted to see if could push her into revealing her powers.

"Would you prefer to answer my first question as to what you were doing alone in our woods by the King's interrogation, or would you answer me now and have me vouch for you?" Legolas hoped that she would agree to the latter. Though how much weight the vouch of a rogue prince would carry he knew not…

Lips pursing, Niphredil replied, "I cannot bear to tell this tale twice, and much of it I do not remember. I will speak with your father, Prince Legolas."

Curses. Though displeased that he would have to hear the same version of the story the King would, Legolas nodded.

Now, instead of dreading the admonishment of his overprotective father, Legolas could not wait for the king's tirade to be over with; he wanted to get Niphredil healed and learn of her story.

As they entered the stone fortress however, Legolas felt the dread come back in full force. He saw guards pause and stare at Niphredil, whether it was her beauty or that she was brazenly clad only in his tunic, he did not know.

Truly, Legolas did not wish to know which one. He could only hope that the scandal would not spread too far. It was enough that he had been labeled as a rebellious prince, he did not want to add 'lecherous' to the label.

Finally, he passed the final stone bridge and walked past the guards up to his father.

Legolas remembered belatedly that the guards would not let Niphredil pass armed. Hopefully, she would surrender her sword. What she would do with the carved elder branch, he did not know.

When he'd gotten close enough to his father, he automatically knelt before the king as any other elf would. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that she had indeed had the sense to surrender the sword. He did not see the elder branch anywhere, however.

"Father, I found this young lady, Niphredil, wounded and battling many spiders alone in the woods, and came to her aid. She seemed in need of healing, so I guided her back here."

The king's expression did not change, but his voice was sardonic. "And I would have several questions of you, Legolas: how came you across this… Niphredil… in the first place?"

Legolas stood, standing his ground against his father, the king. "We can discuss this later, Father. Right now Niphredil is in need of medical aid."

"Actually, these are just scratches." Niphredil pitched in, most unhelpfully.

Legolas turned to Niphredil and glared at her. Did she not realize that he was sticking his neck out for her?

"Though a bath would not go unappreciated." Niphredil hastily added, spotting Legolas' face expression. "Nor would a set of clothes."

There was a tense silence, as his father looked at him disapprovingly, not having glanced once at Niphredil. Legolas stared back at his father, his eyes hard. He heard a sigh from Niphredil's direction. He wondered, briefly, how this would look to her; strife between a father and son.

Eventually, a voice broke through the silence.

"My King. I cannot see your face."

Legolas wondered if Niphredil had any sense of self-preservation.

Chapter Three

Of Control, Cojones, and Connections

And after hearing what his dream-self had said, Harry could not even close his eyes in horror, for his dream-self had taken control of his body.

The knuckles gripping the arms of the throne clenched and grew white. "What did you say?"

The voice could freeze fire, and Harry felt even the Gryffindor in him shrinking back. A trace of unease could be seen in Legolas as well, as he took a slight step back from his father's throne. But Harry's dream-self remained serene. "I merely wished to see the Elvenking of Greenwood the Great in all his splendor."

The knuckles loosened ever so slightly at the flattery.

Harry, having given up trying to take back control over his body, now watched the proceedings. 'With a silver-tongue like that, my dream-self could give a Slytherin a run for his money… Wait, elven king?'

The shadowed figure spoke, "Long has it been since these woods have been hailed as such." The shadowed figure rose from his throne and took a step toward Harry. "Who are you?"

Smoothly, Harry's voice answered, "I might ask you the same. Yours is not the voice of Oropher. I merely wish to see who has taken his place."

During this conversation, Harry found himself organizing thoughts in his head once more. So the pointy-eared people in this dream were elves!? They were such a far cry from reality's house elves that he felt like he'd been slugged in the face.

But at the mention of this 'Oropher,' who had apparently been the previous ruler, the figure darted forward from the shadows and gripped Harry's arm. Very tightly.

Though Harry's dream-self maintained the smile, Harry himself very much wanted to grimace, as it happened that he had suffered a rather deep gash in his arm in that very place. He may not be in control of his body, but he could still feel everything.

"You knew my father. His voice."

The king, Harry noted through the haze of pain, was as fair as his son and looked far too young to have a son Legolas' age. Maybe these elves stopped aging at a certain point, Harry hypothesized. But no amount of hypothesizing dulled the pain.

"Ah, so it is you, Thranduil. Forgive me for not recognizing your voice. You have matured." Harry didn't know how he knew the man – elf – king – but it seemed he did in this dream. And Legolas hadn't known – of course he hadn't known – and was looking at Harry with something between surprise and… was that betrayal? But Harry's dream-self seemed to take no notice, continuing to speak, "So Oropher now dwells in the Halls of Mandos."

Brilliant. Just brilliant. More backstory Harry didn't understand.

The elvenking stared hard at Harry, examining him. "Eyes the shade of emerald… Hair as dark as a starless sky…" Thranduil whispered. "It cannot be." His vice-like grip on Harry's arm loosened.

"Yet it is." Harry's dream-self sighed. Harry himself was mentally sighing in relief from the pain in his arm.

This Thranduil elf king was backing away very slightly. "Rumor was it that you had set sail about some three hundred years into Second Age – "

A very Harry-like snort emitted from Harry's unsettlingly elegant dream-self. "You forget who I was. I needed not set sail to take any soul to the Judge of the Dead."

It amused Harry to see how quickly the already pale man – elf – could lose what little color he had. He felt his lungs expand as his dream-self drew breath to ask (rather sardonically, too), "Tell me, O' great Elvenking… How much time has passed since I allegedly set sail?"

Rather shakily, Thranduil replied, "The Second Age lasted 3441 years and now we are 3018 years into the third age, my lady."

Harry had endured some unpleasant and unwanted titles through the ages, but the title 'my lady' had to take the cake. As if his dream-self was aware of Harry's horror, she laughed. "Come now, Thranduil, even if you were but an elfling when I last saw you, surely you remember I do not hold with titles. Let us simply go by the name my incarnate has chosen. Call me Niphredil."

"I do not understand, my la – " Thranduil shook his head. "Niphredil. What do you mean by your… incarnate?"

Harry then did a very feminine movement that he would never have done had he been in control of his body: he tucked his thick black hair behind his ear as he opened his mouth to answer.

Legolas' eyes widened and he exclaimed, "You are not of elvenkind!"

There was a moment of shocked silence following Legolas' statement.

To Harry's surprise, it was the king who admonished his son. "Watch your tongue, Legolas! She is far older and wiser than we!" Harry was torn between horror and laughter; as if mentioning age in front of a 'lady' was considered anything near wise… "She was present at the creation of Arda and is Nurundil, sole chosen satar of Mandos!"

Oh. Wot? Being present at the creation of the world would indeed… make Harry's dream-self ancient… some however-many-years-the-First-Age was + 3441 + 3018 = a very long time…

But what chilled Harry's bones was the title that literally meant 'Death's Friend'.

Upon hearing the word 'Nurundil' Harry's dream-self withdrew, leaving Harry bewildered and now seemingly an imposter of his own body, feminized though it may be. But Legolas' dismay at Harry's supposed 'deception' had moved onto his father's 'defense' of Harry.

Poor excuse of a defense that it was.

"Enough." Harry said firmly, trying to reign in the tension between father and son. Turning to address Thranduil, Harry said, "O' great Elvenking," He applied the same amount of sarcasm into his words as his dream-self had, "I think I would very much appreciate the bath now, thank you." He indicated his grimy body for emphasis.

The imitation did not seem to work as well as Harry hoped, as Thranduil seemed rather thrown by the change in subject. Harry privately breathed a sigh of relief when the king slowly nodded. "Of course… Niphredil." He indicated a few guards to accompany Harry to his chambers.

At once, Legolas made to follow.

Thranduil's sharp voice stayed him. "Stay, Legolas. I have yet more questions for you."

Harry winced when Legolas reluctantly remained behind. Well, he – or rather, his dream-self – hadn't succeeded in taking any of the tension away between father and son. If anything, he had exacerbated it. But who was to say his dream-self had the same motives as he did?

That thought made Harry stop dead in his tracks.

A guard noticed that Harry had stopped following. "Lady Niphredil?"

Was his dream giving him multiple personalities? Just for kicks?

Harry clenched his fist. 'By Merlin, I swear, James or Albus… Whichever of you it was…' Giving a painful smile to the guard, Harry replied, "Just… Niphredil. Please."

Nodding hesitantly, the guard proceeded to lead Harry to his chambers, and hopefully, the bath that would follow.

And Harry had to draw several, as the first few resulted in murky waters. It was only by the fourth bath that the water remained remotely transparent and Harry could begin to clean his wounds. Tergeo would only serve to irritate open cuts, as he'd found out the hard way back when he was still an auror wet behind the ears. Now that he'd cleaned away all the spider blood, he noted that his wounds weren't as bad as he'd first thought them to be.

In fact, the wound on his leg that had definitely been gouged by a branch now was only a relatively small cut. A side-effect of the dream? Well, he'd keep the cuts as they were, just to make sure it wasn't just his imagination.

Then again, it was a dream. Of course it was his imagination.

Harry's jet-black hair now reached mid-back. It was a miracle that strands hadn't gotten tangled in the tree branches or spider webs (then again, if they had, he wouldn't have hesitated to chop them off). The longest he'd had it in real life was to his shoulders, in tribute to Sirius, before Ginny had finally had enough. ("I don't care if it's a tribute to Sirius. Far from looking serious, you're starting to look ridiculous. Cut it. Now.") After that, Harry had worn his hair at normal length.

After considering whether he should cut it with a severing charm, Harry decided against it. It might be tradition to keep long hair here. After all, both Legolas and Thranduil had lengthy hair. And they were male. Wanting to maintain some amount of normalcy (his life desire), Harry resigned himself to long and, from his memory, rather tangly hair. Soaping his rather long hair with some difficulty, Harry desperately missed squeezable shampoo from the real world. But long had he realized that this dream was far from customizable. It seemed like the older Fred and George's customizable dream potion got, the more sinister it got as well; playing around with the dreamer's head, making things go seriously wrong whenever the dreamer remotely seemed to be having fun.

Harry would suggest making potions this way intentionally, if someone wanted to prank someone else. It would give them marvelous nightmares. With no feasible way to wake up.

As of now, he was trying his best to ignore his significantly changed anatomy. He'd gotten used to it physically, true, but that was because it was a dream. He wouldn't wish this on any man. Well, Voldemort maybe… no… Harry shuddered at the image of a female Voldemort. No, he would not wish that on the world.

When he was clean, Harry wrapped a towel around his shoulders and searched for something to wear. Spotting black cloth neatly folded nearby, Harry eagerly shook it out only to drop the cloth as if it had burned him.

"A… dress…" Harry choked out.

Nothing in all the wizarding world could force Harry Potter to wear a dress, even if it was only a dream.

So Harry used the Elder Wand (turned visible again as soon as the guards had left) to conjure breeches, a shirt, and a tunic as he had seen Legolas and guards wear (as well as a pair of underpants). He didn't care if it was suspicious, so long as he didn't have to wear a dress.

Now that he was fully clad and not so desperate for a bath, Harry got a proper look around his room. It was spacious and rather dark, but not unfurnished.

As tired as he was, Harry felt restless, and he wanted to organize what he had learnt in the dream. So, pacing back and forth in his room, that was exactly what he did.

1. The acromantula in this dream were much more aggressive than the ones in real life (which was saying something). But he would avoid any clicking sounds at all costs, so that would hopefully be a moot point.

2. There were these unearthly beings called Elves, ones that couldn't be more different than house elves. They fashioned themselves Silvan. But there were Ñoldors too. Who probably were elves as well, as his dream-self had revealed with the Ron Syndrome incident following Legolas' introduction. Were there any other kinds of elves?

3. Harry's dream-self had cojones. Metaphorically. If verbally facing down a king and winning didn't count as having backbone, what did?

4. His dream-self had connections. Knowing at least two generations of Elven kings.

5. His dream-self had hung around during the creation of this world, making him – his dream-self, that is, older than… the world itself. (So exactly how ancient was he?) His dream-self had been around nearly seven thousand years ago… at the very least.

6. His dream-self was known as Nurundil.
Death's Friend.
But as Harry's dream-self had withdrawn at the very title, it was obvious that the title did not sit well with him… her… whatever. Honestly, it didn't sit quite well with Harry either. Anything that concerned the word 'death' that didn't involve the act of dying itself gave Harry the chills. While the title didn't imply that Harry was the Master of Death, it did imply Harry's dream-self was closely related with death.

That was about it, really.

After organizing all the thoughts crammed into Harry's head within the day, Harry suddenly felt very tired.

Harry espied a wooden armchair that caught his interest. He didn't think it would be very comfortable, but he gingerly sat on the wooden armchair anyway. To his surprise, it sank in around him comfortably; of all plants, it felt more like a very mushy aloe vera than anything else.

"It is made of a tree called hwandorn."

Harry nearly jumped out of the chair in surprise. But he recognized Legolas' voice.

What sounded suspiciously like a voice in the back of his mind clucked disapprovingly, but Harry shoved the paranoid thought aside for now.

"Literally a tree of sponge, then." Harry commented as he turned his head to look Legolas in the eye.

The elven prince stood stiffly. "Forgive me my insubordination, Lady Nurundil, I – "

In a flash, Harry had leapt up and was in Legolas' face, hissing, "Do not. Call me by that name." Harry was not sure if this was himself or his dream-self, but for once, they were in agreement. For some reason, he disliked that name very much. He was not friends with death. It had taken too many of his comrades prematurely for him to call it friend.

Legolas looked very much taken aback at Harry's vehemence.

Harry, now more in control of himself, drew back, ashamed of his self. "Forgive me, Prince Legolas. But I would rather you call me Niphredil."

It may have just been Harry's imagination, but Legolas seemed rather relieved. "As I prefer Legolas." Apparently deciding to choose a safer topic, Legolas commented on Harry's attire. "Was the dress not to your liking, Lady Niphredil?"

Harry sighed. Could the whole 'lady' thing just off itself by getting eaten by a hippogriff? "I prefer more practical clothing. The attire I am most used to are robes, and I find a dress undesirable. Also please, just Niphredil. I am no lady." He smiled grimly to himself at that admission.

"We could provide you with robes." Legolas offered.

Harry's lips quirked at how hard Legolas was trying to appease him. "I am comfortable as I am now."

Meeting Legolas' eyes, Harry questioned once again, "Can we not be friends?" Once again, he used the term 'seron'.

Legolas shifted uncomfortably. "Niphredil, I do not quite think you know what being 'seron' entails."

Harry frowned. "What does it entail?"

Though tinged pink, Legolas explained patiently, "I have heard from my father the king that you are more familiar with Quenya. In Sindarin, however, 'Seron' can also mean 'lover.'"

Though he had no idea that he had known a language called Quenya (if it was a language at all) Harry felt heat creeping up his neck. Struggling to swallow his embarrassment, Harry cleared his throat, "Right, so is there something less… intimate?"

To say the atmosphere was awkward would have been an understatement. Legolas broke it by saying, "We can be 'mellon'. Sindarin for friends."

Harry broke out in a genuine grin. He held out his right hand for Legolas to shake. But the elven prince merely looked at it with puzzlement. Harry clarified, "It is tradition when friends meet. We shake hands."

Legolas smiled wryly. "I know of clasping hands. But 'tis a tradition among men, my lady." He looked more amused when Harry stubbornly held out his hand. Eventually, Legolas gave in and clasped forearms with Harry, who was somewhat taken aback, having expected a gentlemanly shake of hand-to-hand. Not clasping forearms.

But taking it in stride, Harry tightened his hold on Legolas' forearm. "And I seem to remember asking you to call me 'Niphredil,' not 'my lady'."

Legolas simply smiled. "All the better if it irks you, my lady."

Harry wanted to break Legolas' arm at that, but released his forearm instead, choosing to be the better man. Not that Legolas would know. He motioned for Legolas to sit. "Why not we talk more about each other, Mellon?" Harry sat back on the spongy chair, and after a moment of hesitation, Legolas sat upon a similar looking sofa. "I seem to recall receiving an apology," Harry started, "for a natural reaction. Why the apology? You would not have led me back to Greenwood had you known I was not an elf. The deception was not intentional, I assure you. But the manner in which I reacted to your apology, unwarranted in the first place, warrants an apology from me."

"Yet 'tis precisely for that I need forgiveness." Legolas admitted. "Upon your reaction back with the king, I had seen that you had no desire to be addressed… as such, yet still addressed you with it anyway. For that you have my apologies. I had not quite realized the extent of your aversion to the title. I must admit I am not quite as familiar with Quenya as I would like, Niphredil. May I ask what it means? I am aware that the suffix '–ndil' means friend in Quenya…"

Despite not knowing what this 'Quenya' was, the meaning of 'Nurundil' was all too clear to Harry. Leaning back in his soft chair, he grimly answered, "It means 'Death's Friend'." Legolas sharply drew in a breath. Harry waved off the apology he knew was coming. "I have merely seen death too many times for my liking, I suppose." Legolas had no reply to that. Trying to lighten the mood, Harry quirked his lips and asked, "Well, I doubt the Elven Prince himself would have come all the way here merely to goad and apologize to me, so I suppose you have another reason for this visit?"

Immediately, Legolas took the opening. "Yes, I actually came to ask where you'd gone, if you had not sailed."

That question gave Harry pause. 'Well, dream-self? Got a backstory for that?'

Very, very reluctantly, Harry's dream-self emerged. "Legolas, though we may be Mellon now, I am afraid I cannot tell you just a portion of my past without revealing the whole of it." Legolas' face betrayed his dismay. "It must be all or nothing; it would be unfair to both you and me otherwise." Harry felt his eyes burn into Legolas' blueish-gray ones. "When I am ready, I will tell you. Pray do not ask me before then."

Slowly, face unreadable, Legolas nodded.

When his dream-self retreated once more, Harry, annoyed, thought that even he could have said that. What was the point of surrendering his body to his dream-self, just to be cryptic? He didn't do cryptic, for Merlin's sake!

Legolas suggested that Harry looked tired, and Harry agreed. "Yes, that is a good idea."

"You need not see me out, Niphredil."

"Nonsense. Of course I would see a friend out. Especially if he's a prince." Harry teased as he walked Legolas to the door and waved cheerfully to said prince until his back was turned.

Shutting the door, Harry leaned against it sighed deeply.

Would this nightmare end when he went to sleep?

For some reason, there was no bed among the furnishings, so Harry fell asleep on the sofa, hoping that he would wake up with Ginny at his side, and be able to recount the dream for her, blow by blow. Leaving out, of course, the part that he was female…

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