There was something to be said for the tendency of magic to seep into stone. Skyhold was like Hogwarts's sleepy, more mature cousin. She was powerful and ancient, but she didn't find it amusing to move the stairs out from underfoot.
The power was less innocent, less simply pure. Instead it contained a more complex combination of disillusion and pragmatism, testament to the people that once lived there. (Somehow Harry suspected they hadn't been as mischievous as the average child set loose with a wand.)
But it wasn't cruel, so with pressing business to organise and letters to send, Harry trusted the castle not to drop a beam on his head and ventured inside to find a level surface to write on.
Mould and lichen fell away. The wall took on a less disturbing lean, loose stones straightened, rough edges smoothed out. Mortar flowed from a bucket and into the newly cleaned cracks in the wall. Progress moved in a wave around the satisfied conductor in the centre.
"Couldn't your skills be put to better use elsewhere?" Cassandra stepped over a broom waging war on centuries of dust, unimpressed. "The carpenters can handle it."
Harry shrugged. "They're busy. And it'd take them longer. And we really need this passage opened if we want to start sleeping in actual beds."
"You could be researching Corypheus."
"I thought you had volunteers for that kind of torture?" his nose scrunched in distaste.
She scoffed, showing her impatience. "They could use your help."
"I'm not an academic. Never have been."
"You were an enchanter," she pointed out in her voice that reserved for dealing with his bullshit.
"Due to practical skill far more than theoretical, I assure you. I couldn't read a dry book to save a life." Harry was very good at not learning more than he had to. Most of the things he knew, he only picked up I the first place because of experience reinforced under extreme duress. But hey, whatever makes the lessons stick.
"You're intelligent," she stubbornly insisted, dismissing his prior arguments entirely.
Harry rolled his eyes. "So are you, and you haven't got your nose buried in a tome." If her position by the Divine's side wasn't a dead giveaway, it was obvious after five minutes in her presence, that she had a mind like a steel trap. Anyone who though she was just a bruiser, with at most a few strategic designs, was just giving her a free pass to walk all over them.
Bookishness isn't a sufficient measure of intelligence. Creativity and resourcefulness were unconventional perhaps, but more useful than knowledge in a pinch. Harry and Cassandra had that much in common. In their lines of work, one often ran afoul of situations that required quick thinking. Idiots didn't last long.
"If we're short on manpower, I'll find people to do the research. If I know anything that might help, I'll tell them. But if the answer is in a book I could be staring right at it and I'd still never find it," Harry shrugged. He braced another beam in the ceiling while magic worked to reinforce the supports.
Technically, he was procrastinating. He really needed to get back to Tevinter as soon as possible but there was just so many important things to do here. Like ensuring Skyhold wouldn't be occupied by Corypheus by the time he returned.
Which was no trivial feat.
The keep had fading protections, and Harry needed to know how they worked before he tried to layer more on top in potentially volatile combinations. But they weren't wards, exactly, not in the sense that there were runes carved into an anchor, and therein lay the problem. Harry could learn alphabets and spells if someone held his feet to the fire, but that meant nothing when intuition was required.
Thankfully, this problem could be solved with proper application of Weasleys.
Harry hesitated before using the Resurrection Stone, recalling that last time the spirits of his past friends had been too solid and pained. The stone felt the same as it always did - slightly cold and lifeless.
Bill Weasley arrived normally enough, as if the mess with the breach had never happened. Which could have been either fortunate or unfortunate, because normal Bill tended to promote chaos. Especially when he encountered a new civilisation with unique cyphers and methodology.
There was a lot of exploring, strange metaphysical prodding, and of course there were explosions, in the dubious name of progress. Harry had run this gauntlet with Bill before, and he still didn't know if this was part of the process or if Bill was just enjoying spreading his influence in the living world.
But that didn't explain why Bill required so, soooooo much writing.
Harry felt very much like a bewildered puppet. His orders seemed completely out of left field. Why, exactly, could they possibly need to climb into the pipes? And pop up into a strange room, and –
"Oh. Hello Solas."
Their wide eyes met. Both magic users managed to look remarkably not caught out for people that certainly had been.
The silence was awkward. Harry cleared his throat loudly. "I suppose the fade taught you this, too?"
"Naturally. Many ancient buildings had rooms reserved for enchanted artefacts. I wished to see them for myself," Solas said. His gaze and curiosity fell over Harry's shoulder. "What is he? Not a true spirit or a shade."
"You don't think so? He's a spirit of disorder and confusion, from the deep dark burrows of the Fade. You wouldn't understand," Harry declared loftily, in an irritating manner that Solas would hopefully find familiar.
After that they came to a silent agreement not to ask questions.
Solas patched up the damaged artefacts in silence. Once he knew how it worked, Bill designed a set of wards that the castle stone happily accepted.
And even though they had two armies on their trail and conditions were miserably cramped, dirty, sick, hungry and cold – the people were hopeful, to a downright obnoxious level.
Harry understood the glow. Academically, at least. They were no longer sleeping on snow, so any individual that didn't have to face reality in their day job could be happily oblivious to more abstract problems until they came knocking.
Cullen's face was set in heavy lines as he stepped up the training. Josephine double checked numbers with concern. Leliana was never seen, but rumour said she still lurked. Cassandra clearly wanted to hit something, but setting up training dummies was a low priority and stabbing minions was bad for moral. The Herald was plainly sick of the constant arguments and uncomfortable under the responsibility that was piling up around her.
Yeah, time to go.
Harry still wore his armour, and it was showing evidence of the battle. It was scratched and scorched in too many places to count, and definitely not smelling its best. Wearing that to a diplomatic meeting –or at least what qualified by Tevinter standards– would be provocative beyond all common sense. If he presented himself to the Senate prepared for battle, he'd be asking for one.
But it was that or nothing. His trunk was still in Haven. It'd probably perished in the fire, in which case his unmentionables were probably scattered far and wide and in several different dimensions, because undetectable extension charms tended to fail dramatically.
Traders would arrive eventually, but until then Skyhold would be lacking in the textile department. Even then, they probably wouldn't carry anything in the Tevinter style that conveyed the level of grovelling that was socially appropriate.
He was already half doomed. At this point, he'd be lucky if he didn't get a fighting ovation right out of the country.
Cassandra was overseeing a crew reinforcing a side of the rotunda, unfortunately. He would've preferred to check in with Josephine, or even Leliana.
Ok, maybe not Leliana.
"I'm leaving for a few days," he announced with a showy sigh. "In about a minute. No time for a decent send-off, I'm afraid."
"Wait a moment," she sounded suspicious, and Harry definitely should've spoken to someone else. Tracking down Cullen would've saved time. "Are we supposed to trust that you will not give away our secrets, or our position?" the Seeker scoffed.
He decided that efficiency was the better part of valour and rolled on through. "You can tell me how much you missed me when I return."
Her expression darkened and he didn't stick around. He'd given them notice, time to postpone the consequences. He apparated.
Magister Tavius wasn't in his study. Harry had hoped to spring everything on him with as little warning as possible. The old man technically owned his freedom, so Harry did not want him getting it in his head to wring the situation for all it was worth.
Tavius was lazy and disinterested most of the time, but he was still a Magister. Leave him to his own devices and he'd certainly tug the leash, as it were.
Harry found the man in the library, after a run in with a helpful assistant.
"Potter." He did not look pleased. Bother. So much for getting belated permission. "You've been busy."
"I'm sure you've heard some highly exaggerated stories, this far from the action."
"Somehow I doubt they're all that far removed from reality. Explain yourself. Think of it as practice," he held up a crisp letter. Shit. That was fast. "The Archon has called for a panel to address your behaviour."
"I must've missed my summons somewhere between here and Orlais," he hedged, with a growing sense of dread.
Tavius's expression did not change. "You're not invited."
Ah, so it was the kind of meeting that was just a formality. Joy.
They made him stew for two days, which gave the assassins plenty of time to work. It kept him on edge and rubbed in the frostiness of his welcome, but with only half a dozen attempts, he was afraid they didn't consider him much of a threat anymore.
He was tempted to head back to Skyhold in the meantime, but he was grounded. There were spies on him at all times and they'd certainly blab to their masters if he put a foot wrong.
That meant no fighting, no social visits, no magic, early curfew, and no wandering away from the buildings directly around the Senate.
That left the baths and the Magisterium library. And there was only so many hours he could shrivel up in the steaming water before he felt guilty and bored enough to take desperate measures.
The stacks of books still smelt as musty as he'd tried to forget.
"Now, what was it Dorian was whinging about?" He hadn't paid that much attention. Something about genealogy, Harry thought, for Corypheus presumably. The Liberalum, then. Boring.
In a section he'd visited two times too many, in the past, there was a gap as wide as Harry's head where the giant book was supposed to be.
His curiosity raised its ugly head. If that dusty old thing was attracting attention, it may not be a dead lead after all. And if it had been removed for a different reason, it probably had something to hide.
Now that was more like it.
It wasn't on hold and it hadn't been shelved elsewhere. One distraction, an invisible walk and a bit of rifling through the head archivist's private office later, and Harry found it.
But that was as far as he got, because his minders noticed he'd avoided their sights and took issue with that.
He startled them as innocently as possible, as if getting on their nerves had been the full extent of his plans. It was perhaps not one of his better ideas.
The afternoon dragged by. Harry patched up his shiny new knife wound, but with nothing to do, the mystery had free rein over his otherwise unoccupied mind. Curfew could not come soon enough. Giving the spies the slip was far easier in the dark, and getting back into the library unseen was child's play.
"Never thought I'd miss an index," he groused, but it was mostly half-hearted. Dusty tomes weren't quite as dull when reading them was against the rules. This kind of illicit activity brought back fond memories.
He planted his head on his fist, his elbow on the table, and started flicking pages.
The threat of getting caught kept him alert at least, but the excitement faded when a quick perusal didn't turn up anything obvious – like, for instance 'Corypheus' spelt out in nice bold letters. He didn't have time to go in depth, nor the background knowledge to see any obscure connections. Besides, the book was written in Tevinter's archaic Latin, and Harry was so bad at verb conjugations that he suspected he was inventing the story as he went along.
Disappointed, he went back to bed.
The Archon had a detailed report of the battle. It hadn't diverged too far from the truth, which was certainly unhelpful. It didn't paint Harry in the most flattering light.
Tavius stood as soon as Harry entered the room. The Archon and another pair of Magisters didn't even grace him with their attention. They talked quietly among themselves, bored with proceedings. This would not take long, then.
"In the past months, you have acted as an agent to a foreign organisation. Your actions taken in their name are beyond small transgressions, far beyond what I can overlook."
And plan C was a bust now, too.
"Word of your involvement has travelled far. Your allegiance is in question. You will stay here, and such distasteful rumours will fade," Harry's patron said levelly.
So they just wanted something to hold over him. He'd agree, ordinarily, because it was actually quite generous but the situation changed things.
Oh this was going to cost him big time. He bowed, acknowledging the offer, and cleared his throat. "Perhaps we can negotiate. I must return. Tevinter is directly implicit now that Corypheus has revealed himself, and outside opinion is bad enough already. The last thing we want is an invasion."
Really, that would be messy for everyone.
Conversation stopped as the Archon raised a hand. He turned, grandly, eyebrow raised. "I will grant you a choice. Remain here, and use what you have learned in the South to close our rifts. Your citizenship will be withheld until you succeed. Or leave, and stop the Darkspawn upstart and be seen doing it. If you do not fail, you may return, and we will renegotiate the terms of your autonomy."
That dark glint in his eyes was satisfaction.
Harry bowed again, just a touch the wrong side of deferential. "Would his dragon's head serve as an appropriate trophy?"
Not the result he'd been hoping for. He was on shaky ground. At best, he'd have a lot more kissing up to do. Probably a few more years of servitude to boot. He'd been so damn close to the ten-year deadline, too. Blast it all.
He didn't have much more to lose. The ire of the most powerful librarian in Minrathous was nothing on top of his existing problems.
He left them a copy. He wasn't heartless. But the original, well, maybe Dorian could make something of it.
He blocked a knife to back on his way out. How unoriginal. "Honestly, it's like you're not even trying." The elf made his escape, Harry shaking his head.
And then the fire grenade went off.
Harry wanted nothing more than to pick a fight with someone and then return to his tent in Skyhold, kick out his numerous roommates, and brood. But he couldn't leave without at least trying to get some useful information.
He apparated to the Amladaris estate and walked up the path. He hadn't spoken to his ally recently; hopefully the Magister still fell in that category. He wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but if things went badly he might get to tick his wish for blood and bruises off his list.
Irian greeted him enthusiastically, and the warm hug was a surprise, but Harry accepted the changed dynamics quickly.
"How did you lose the eyebrow?"
Lunch laid out quickly on the table, and Irian's wife and child were visiting their country house so the flirting was out in full force. Merlin. Politics and seduction were two sides of the same beast in this country, and he was getting heartily sick of it.
Amladaris clearly knew his advances weren't well received; he was far too experienced for overconfidence. Which could only mean he was enjoying Harry's irritation. Apparently time and distance hadn't cured him of being an arse.
Harry zapped a wandering hand and felt much better.
"The Archon had a disturbingly accurate report of the battle," Harry brought up, when he'd relaxed enough. The wine probably had something to do with it. He needed to drink more often.
Hopefully the rumour had just spread through the Venatori to the slightly more reputable Magisters, because the alternative was the Archon had a contact in the army, and Harry did not like the implications of that level of involvement.
"Yes, the informant is supposedly a double agent working under Calpernia."
That left an unpleasant taste in Harry's mouth. "Working for and against who, I wonder."
"One can never be certain, with these things."
At the first sickly sweet bite, he knew that dessert was blatantly seasoned with poison. Harry couldn't blame Irian; it was the perfect balance for the strawberries. It would be impolite to mention it, and pointless besides: he'd suspected that might happen, he'd taken a bezoar in advance.
"Where does the Senate stand?"
Irian sighed. "No one is neutral anymore. Tilani and Pavus came down on our side, the rest are crowing with Gallus's lot. Alexius is back, Erimond still hasn't returned, and Urathus is coordinating something in Antiva."
"Damn." That was even worse than expected.
"They were impressed with how the Inquisition closed the Breach. Less so with how they managed to get their behinds thoroughly kicked afterwards. The Publicanium is with us, which of course means nothing. The Magisterium may be a lost cause at this point."
Alarmed, Harry put down his gourmet poison, "I thought the Magisterium refused to officially endorse Corypheus? The Archon gave me the impression he wants the whole business to just die quietly."
"It doesn't matter what he wants. The extremists are gaining too much momentum, soon it'll be bad enough that he'll bow to their every whim or they'll replace him. The dangerous talk has taken main stage in the Senate. Every debate nowadays revolves around it. They say we are already condemned; guilty by association."
"The Inquisition –"
"A band of southern vagabonds hanging together on desperation and thinning luck. They want to be on the winning side. Morals matter less now than they ever did." He slouched back, running a frustrated hand through his hair. "The world will only see a Tevinter at the helm and blame us anyway, even though the real culprit is one idiot from a long gone empire. Many believe we might as well align with the strongest power and come out on top. And since this thing claims to be a god… well. Well, it's bleak at best. More pudding?"
That's fucking depressing. "Have you got anything with a stronger dose?" Harry asked hopefully.
They strategized through the afternoon and as the sun began to set, Harry made to leave. The goodbyes drew out.
"Duty calls, but it's been good to see you," Harry said honestly. He had kind of missed the prick.
Near the main hall in Skyhold, bystanders heard two bangs. One was alien, the other the distinct sound of flesh meeting furniture.
"Which limp-dick shithead moved the bloody scaffolding!"
Harry was easy to find. And there were several groups of people looking for him, trying to get there first, but in the end it was Anders, recognising the vernacular, that honed in on his prone form. The mage immediately healed his mangled leg and dragged him into the war room.
Harry waved to Josephine as they marched through. She smiled that strained diplomat smile. "Welcome back, Harry. I'll notify the others."
Cullen and Dorian were already present, pouring over something in the Redcliffe area of the map.
"Nice table," he admired the ancient wood. There were a few notable blemishes sticking out of it. "You know you can set paperweights to stop unsanctioned parchment movement, there's no need to impale it."
"You're back? Oh I'm sorry, I wasn't aware you'd left," Dorian grinned.
"And to think I brought a present for you." Harry tsked, then unshrunk the slightly singed Liberalum and fostered it off to the other mage. "It should be punishment enough."
Feeling like he'd lost fifty pounds, Harry rolled his shoulders. "Now, why the fuss?"
He noticed her presence just before Leliana spoke. "The Chantry received word that you and Anders were with the Inquisition. They've rallied, and they sent representatives."
"I'm going back to Tevinter," he deadpanned immediately. "Give me assassins over priests any day."
He wished he could feel surprised, but they'd been relentless since the Blight. Their slightly more potent hatred of the Herald of Andraste could only shelter his presence for so long.
"Dear Giselle has been telling tales behind our backs," Dorian revealed.
Harry signed. Yes, she'd seemed like the type to go beyond disapproving rudely and loudly in people's faces. Roderick had been easy to ignore; that was all anyone else did with him anyway. But after the Mother and her entourage had turned up, just before the breech was closed, he knew it had been a matter of time.
"Why are they after your head?" Dorian asked with feigned indifference.
Harry ducked said head to examine his nails. "I'm more or less responsible for the Circle mages flying the coop, including a certain infamous Amell, as well as a Hope demon that became something of an abomination and slightly blew up Kirkwall. So they blame me for the civil war and everything they lost as a result of that – their control, the Divine, a bunch of shiny temples that got burnt down. I'm like their personal Arch demon darkspawn magister combo."
Cullen, surprisingly, rolled his eyes. "The political situation was far more complicated than that. The tension did not spring out of nowhere in a few years."
Surprised and bolstered by the unexpected support, Harry beamed. "I know! I was just a slightly tangential powder keg in a much bigger disaster."
"Yes, agreed," Lavellan and Cassandra marched in, slightly confused by lack of context but deciding that the description definitely fit.
"What are you talking about?" Cassandra was annoyed already.
"How Harry pissed off the Chantry enough that the Black Divine bid him welcome in Tevinter on principle," Anders helpfully supplied.
"Ugh, the priests," Lavellan realised with a groan. "I have been dealing with them all morning. If this is the reception you receive, I'm surprised you can go anywhere else."
"It's been worse. They used to have a Templar army," Harry shrugged. It'd been safe enough to travel south since the civil war, they lost a significant amount of their bite. "The dogma is annoying, but I can deal with it."
Lavellan snorted, and dryly informed him, "They've tried to incite a mob against you. Twice. Since this morning."
Cassandra shook her head despairingly. "I have never seen them behave like this. They are beside themselves."
He did tend to bring that out in people. "Do I still have wanted posters in Val Royeaux?"
"You do," Leliana smirked. "Sera has one in her room. You don't want to see what she drew on it."
More to the point, Harry did not want to know how she knew that. "This isn't going to blow over for a while, is it?"
"I said we should kick them out," Lavellan scowled. "But I've been loudly and repeatedly told that I can't do that."
Blasphemy. Dalish elf. Castle full of Andrastians. Fair enough.
"So, now what?"
"They demanded we had you over for justice. That isn't going to happen," Cullen stepped in. Reassuring. "The people have the real power. You have their favour for the effort you put into protecting Denerim and Haven, but the Chantry is working to change that. You can't give them any more ammunition."
"What more could they possibly need."
Leliana ignored Harry's muttering. "We've publicly rebuked the Chantry's position on your role in the war, and most people believe us, for now. You can't give them reason to believe you have anything to hide. Take no risks, work out in the open, no funny magic – don't scare any of them. Just until we can move the priests along. Anders, keep your clinic running, they love you already."
Harry groaned, and ran his hands down his face until he muttered into his palms. "Why can't they just be grateful I'm on their side and endeavour not to offend me?" Public opinion had been easier to manage back when he'd scared people shitless.
Dorian lingered after everyone else had filed out of the room.
"So you resorted to Tevinter."
Harry raised an eyebrow. No one picks gift wrapped slavery right off the bat. "The Chantry made damn sure nowhere in the south would welcome me."
It wasn't a hardship. At first he'd just being making the best of the bad, but Tevinter had some truly amazing sides. Really, the worst part was the elitism put Sirius off and his godfather didn't visit often.
"I had wondered how you got indentured to an old fool like Tavius."
"I needed a break. I attract a lot of the wrong kind of attention, and I had no citizenship rights; I was free game. Tavius and I, we had an understanding. He let me do whatever I wanted." Mainly because the Magister tended to directly benefited from anything Harry did. In Tevinter's eyes, Harry's successes were Tavius's. Since Harry's magic was novel by default, and his extracurriculars usually had a taste of incredulity built in, you'd think he'd have enough good points in the bank for Tavius to ignore his recent indiscretions, but no. Tavius was happy to take credit for a hundred steps forward, but not one step back. Typical.
Harry scowled. "He's decided this Inquisition thing reflects badly on his reputation. Now I just have to stop Corypheus, or rot."
"Ah. Well, I'll help of course," Dorian replied carelessly.
Harry blinked. "Really?"
Covering himself in bluster, Dorian scoffed. "As if I could walk away after seeing what happened at Haven." To break the uncomfortably sentimental moment, he added, "They're opening the tavern tonight. I hear the alcohol is tragic."
"That's the best news I've heard all day. Shall we?" He was still tipsy from Irian's wine. He might manage to get good and drunk on their watered ale after all.
Dorian scrunched his nose and did a good job of feigning disgust.
"How was everything back home?"
"Falling to pieces." Harry delivered the rest of the depressing news in bland monotone. Leliana probably expected him to file a report on that, come to think of it. Ah, bullocks. "Your friend, Felix, he made the biggest impression, but there's been little progress since."
Dorian looked proud and saddened. "He was the best of us."
Harry raised his tankard in support.
"What did I miss on this side? I notice you refurbished several rooms."
"Yes, we heard the impression it made on you." Dorian grinned.
From the war room? Wow. "Moving on."
Dorian indulged him, but if he didn't wipe that smirk of his face, Harry would set his moustache on fire. "Trade is flowing. We now have food, though the quality is decidedly rustic, and rebuilding is coming along. That's as far as the good news stretches."
Harry waved him on, impatiently.
"They tried to get the Herald to take the reins. She didn't take it well. She'd been planning to return to her clan once the breach was closed. As far as she's concerned, she's done."
His cup was not deep enough for this. "Shit."
"Did you know about her husband?"
"Caris? Of course." Surely that was common knowledge, she was always talking about him. Then again, Dorian had only been around for a few days and they'd been very hectic ones, so he was excused. "He's a hunter. He was supposed to be at the conclave, actually, but she took his place. Went behind a few backs to do it, I gather, since in pragmatic terms, she's irreplaceable to her clan."
She'd revealed a few things about herself in their brief conversations, and they came together now in an ugly picture in his mind. She was their head warrior; she basically ran the place; she hadn't trained an apprentice. Harry hadn't stopped to wonder how her clan might be fairing.
Dorian sighed. "The inner circle didn't know. Or, well, Leliana might've, but they strung together the nice words and gave her a big sword and she turned them down flat."
So she'd led the Inquisition this far because she was used to ordering people around and getting stuff done, not because she wanted to be a part of it. "Well that's a fucked up situation anyway you look at it."
"Because we need her?"
True, but not the point. "Because she can't quit."
She was on the roof. It was nice, the sun rising around them.
"So it's your turn to tell me what is appropriate to sacrifice for the wider world?" Lavellan asked without turning away from the view.
Harry stifled a yawn and stumbled closer. "No, it's your choice. We'll deal with whichever one you make. They're overdramatic, we can survive without you. Probably."
"Fantastic, then leave me alone."
"There's something you need to know." Gingerly, he sat beside her. "Corypheus will go after you."
"He wanted the anchor. That's why he came to Haven. But it's useless to him now, he has no reason to keep bothering me."
Harry wished it was that simple. Damn it, no one deserved this.
"He's decided you're in his way. Even if you're not interested in fighting, even if your name is dragged through the dirt and even your reputation doesn't pose a real threat, he will still chase you. It doesn't matter if it's irrational or bad strategy. It's what these maniacs do." No one asked if he wanted to fight Voldemort. They turned up with a pedestal and dumped the responsibility on him, his only choice was to survive, and even that turned out to be a lie in the end. "That's how they recruit heroes. The choice is an illusion: make yourself a real threat and maybe survive, or give up and die. It fucking sucks."
"You're saying I need the Inquisition's resources."
Callous, but, well, when you look at it like that. "I know it's not the life you want. Look, if you want to leave I'll help you anyway I can. I can get your clan halfway across the world. There are some protective runes I can give you, spells I can teach your Keeper."
Harry would try, for her sake, but he couldn't see that route ending in anything but tragedy. There was nothing he could give them anything that would keep them safe forever. It only takes one lax moment, one mistake. Lavellan wasn't stupid, she knew that already.
"I need to think about this."
Many thanks to my beta reader for making this story legible, and for the idea that provoked this weirdness:
A fair elf runs to a higher vantage point. He turns back, just a for a moment, to shout, "They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" But even he is not quick enough to dodge a large pewter cauldron and frayed trousers that materialise ahead of him, moving his way at quite a pace.
His enviable grace and pride takes permanent damage.
But more importantly, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Harry Potter mourns the loss of his favourite pants.