QUICK NOTE: So, I know I said it would take a while for the Dwarfs to show their faces, but everything I wrote, they kept wheedling themselves into. What can I say? Even if they're only in my imagination, they're still stubborn little bastards and refused to be ignored! So, I ended up changing the progression and tweaked the plot a tiny bit to introduce them sooner. I just want to underline how much I have messed with both Potterverse canon and Hobbit Canon! And will continue to do so! If this sort of thing annoys you, please turn back and forget this fic! This is fair warning. Either way, Enjoy!
Being a Durin had many more pitfalls than it did benefits. Being a descendant of Durin the Deathless, with forefathers as great as the original, left a bitter taste of having to live up to high expectations from a sturdy and boisterous race, and an even more headstrong family name. They often lived short lives, compared to their actual possible life span, passionately, with many battles, both emotional and physical, and the worst of all, many died bloody. In fact, Frerin thought, the only one he could name off the top of his hairy head as not having died by enemy hands, in battle, or in some freak accident was his sixth times great grandfather, Thrain the first. Now, that was a legacy to live up to.
However, as much hardship and heartache his family lineage faced, and while being worldly known, there was one thing not many out of his direct line knew of. A Durin should never, and he sincerely meant never, make a joke. That was their real curse. Not the gold sickness, not their often young deaths. It wasn't some poor act to keep up a front to the outsiders of their race, they did that well enough with their own brutish, stand-off-ish and blunt personalities, there was no need to seem more dour and solemn, that kept them from cracking a quip here and there. It wasn't a safety net for themselves, keeping people away, especially with where their attitudes towards his race veered towards in this day and age, protected them emotionally from the scorn and deprecating looks and remarks.
No, they didn't, or shouldn't joke, because Mahal found high amusement in twisting their words against them. His father, Thrain, had warned him of doing such a thing, letting his tongue run wild in the heat of the moment, when his own humour ran to high for their gods liking. But, as he often did when he was a youngling, he brushed the whole thing off as one of his fathers nuggets of wisdom that he did not need to heed to. Well, unfortunately for him, or fortunately when you took into account it was just a budding beard and not the whole of his nephews hair, Frerin, son of Thrain the second, son of Thror, made such a quip.
It was a peaceful day in Ered Luin, the sound of the lit forge a constant background noise to the symphony of the inhabitants. The sun was out, the children playing in the community nurseries, his sister Dis and her two young ones by his side. All was good, all was well, all was bright... Until little Kili, barely out of toddler-hood with a proud beard on its way in on his cheeks, grumbled about his slightly older brothers, Fili's, already lengthy beard and mustache. The two had been the same their entire life, Fili always just one step a head, of course he was, he was five years older, nothing but a blink to a dwarf, but it ground on his younger brother like nothing else, Kili always running to get ahead of his brother in just one aspect.
All in good nature of course, Frerin didn't think even a One could come between their bond, which in retrospect, would never happen. The boys were too much alike, too close, and really, with their own dwindling female population, a shared One would not be the first triad, or the last. In fact, it was quiet common. Dis, his own sister was nearly in one until one of the Dwarf lads died in a battle. And Frerin, among every other dwarf who had survived the sacking of Erebor, could see the light in the boys eyes when they visited Nori's little daughter. Aule knew how hard it was too pull those three apart, and Frerin was sure he wasn't the only one with the same suspicion, despite all their young ages... But, that was a discussion for a whole different day.
Frerin had just sat down with lunch at his sisters table,a lovely wild boar roast, on one of his rare days off from helping his father and brother run his grandfathers kingdom from a place not their home or land, when for the fifth time in the space of fifteen minutes, Kili muttered under his breath about how it was not fair, not fair at all. By the crossed arms, petulant look and pointed glances at Fili's beard, newly decorated with silver clasps and Jewelled beads, signifying his family and direct lineage of Durin, it wasn't hard to figure out why Kili was acting like he had only just started walking, still young in dwarf standards, but old enough to know better.
Frerin spoke the words he wished he could take back when. Curling in tighter on himself, Kili scoffed and glared adamantly at his untouched plate. Finishing his drink, Frerin laughed loudly, slamming his tankard onto the stone table, making the ale spill from the force, knowing how Kili felt as he had felt exactly the same when Thorin forged his own beads and clasps and Frerin could only look on in poorly concealed envy, wishing for his time to come quicker, where he could display his pride at being a Durin.
"Lad, you keep scoffing and muttering like that, the next time you're in the forge, you'll singe your whole beard off. I've seen many a Dwarf with missing patches from such a thing happening. Why do you think Dwalin is bold on top?"
And so, with one final laugh and hearty shake of his own head, Frerin had sealed the fate of Kili's blossoming beard. That very night, in the wee hours of dusk, Kili shucked out of his mothers rooms and watchful eyes, stumbled into the still lit forge, planning to make his own beads and clasps before he should have and, as you have likely guessed, burnt off his entire beard in his foolish and hasty plan to stoke the fire higher than was possible sane to, in hopes and warped logic of if the fire was bigger, it would be hotter, and if it was hotter, he would be finished before anyone would wake up and notice his departure, his prize in hand. The damage was done, and despite when the years passed and many of the dwarves his age had hearty and full beards, Kili, bless his impatient soul, was only left with stubble.
Frerin grimaced at the memory until his dying day, and Dis, his loving and friendly sister, always managed a fierce death glare shot his way when the notion of hair, in any form, was brought up.
Dis had learnt her lesson in jokes in a harsher way than her brother, Frerin, had. Kili and Fili, her babes, still only toddlers in Dwarven culture, were fast asleep in their own room, tuckered out from fighting over who got to hold Nori's new born Dwarfling, her families housing for once silent in the night. Her husband, Domrer, sat beside her in their living room, both soaking in the peaceful atmosphere, having not had a blissful moment such like this since their youngest Kili was born, or since the sacking of Erebor. To say her sons were a handful would be the understatement of the century and the sacking of Erebor had dusted loss, strife, struggle and pain on every dwarf. However, Dis would not change a single moment of it for anything in the world, not if it meant losing her boys or husband. To be blessed with one Dwarfling was a miracle, but two? That was a sign from Mahal himself. Her boys, her little sun and moon, were her pride and joy, her very essence. There was nothing she wasn't or wouldn't be willing to do for them.
The same could be said for her husband, her one and only Domrer. Their love had been hard to acquire, harder to keep, but worth every uphill battle. She would go through all the struggles if it landed here right in this exact moment and place, her sons sleeping soundly in the room next to her, her curled up with her husband, simply enjoying being next to one another. Their heartbeats matching as much as their breathes did, beat for beat, inhale for exhale, fingers laced through each others. This was where she was meant to be, right there, with her family. Of course, like many things, peace could not be kept forever and the pressing matters of tomorrow were playing heavily on her mind.
Tomorrow, Domrer with a small company would be guarding one of their many traveling merchants to their trading spot in a man city. It was nothing to be worried about, Domrer had made the same pass many times before since the sacking, but that was before floods of reports of Orc raids and attacks on the very same pass Domrer had to take came flowing in through Ered Luin's makeshift halls and rickety doors. That night, unlike the many others before Domrer traveled, worry and dread sunk Dis's stomach like a lead ball thrown into a still lake. She couldn't shake off the feeling that something... Something horrible would go wrong. But Dis, in all her personality, had one blaring flaw that even she herself recognized. One she shared with her other brother, Thorin. She was proud. And her pride would not let her voice those concerns, not when she was so adapt at sweeping them under the rug and pretending everything was fine.
When Domrer stated he would be off to bed, needing an early night to be ready and wide eyed for the long travels tomorrow, despite her pride, Dis refused to let his hand go and relinquish her hold on him, forcing him to stumble back and take a seat next to her once more. When he sent a questioning glance her way, all she could say was three little words, dripped in whispered anxiety.
"Be careful tomorrow."
Domrer laughed, pulled her closer so she was nuzzling his chest, playing with an errant braid, he playfully berated her for her worry with a quirk of brow and teasing grin.
"What? Are you going to miss me Dis?"
To this very day, Dis wished she could take her next words back, to cram them down her throat and never give them to the light of day. But she couldn't. She had said what she had said and she had paid the price of it. So had her sun and moon, her boys. All because admitting how deep her feelings really were for the Dwarf next to her, at the time, had seem so much like a weakness and not what it really was, an opportunity to say she loved him over and over again until her throat dried and tongue bled, a chance to say everything she had never said. A chance she no longer had and had waisted when she did have it.
With a smug grin and a joking lilt to her normally deep and easy voice, Dis gave a solid hit to his chest with her fist as she looked up at him, already regretting the words as they spilled out of her mouth, her fathers voice echoing in the back of her mind. Be careful of what you say Dis, daughter of mine, our words have a nasty habit of swinging back and hitting us. Never say what you don't mean truly, you will live to regret the day. If I teach you one thing, let it be that.
"Of course not, I'm just waiting for you to die on this trip so I can raise our mischievous sons by myself. If you haven't noticed, I've been eyeing that new baker up, what's his name? Waldron?"
One month, two weeks and five days later, the scouting party sent out to look for the missing caravan brought his body back, bloated, blue and still with an Orc sword buried deep within his chest. Thorin had taken her sons in for the week, not wanting the young, impressionable lads to see their father that way, or Dis for that matter. Dis had been waiting at the front gate for the last week and a half, ever since the due date for Domrer's arrival back home had come to pass.
When they had finally let her see him, her Domrer, well, more like she bulldozed her way in and refused to be turned away, dress wrinkled, beard and hair scruffy and frizzy, wide eyed, she collapse across his body that had been placed on top of his stone wrought tomb, as was their custom. With tight hands clutching his tunic, for the first time in her life, hardy, headstrong, stubborn Dis cried. She sobbed until her voice grew horse, and then she sobbed more, all the while repeating one thing over and over again. The one thing she had never told him, the one thing she had had the chance too, but due to her pride, had relinquished over a poor joke that had torn her heart out still beating. The tacky joke that had left her One-less, her sons fatherless... The joke that had ruined her family, her life.
"I miss you Domrer.. I miss you...I miss you..."
But it was long too late for Domrer to hear those words, and the coil of dread in her gut turned to self hatred and deprecation. It was just one joke, one slip of the tongue, and she had paid so high for it.
Thorin learned his lesson through, not his own pain, but witnessing the continued pain of a close friend, pain he inflicted through a thoughtless, tacky joke. The Ri brothers weren't royalty, no drop of blue blood in their veins, and in so, had run through very different circles he and his family had trailed before the fall of the Lonely Mountain.
Before the sack and subsequent relocation, he had only heard of the middle brother, Nori, through overheard conversations, having only visited Dori's modest Tea shop once and having spotted the young Ori in the corner. Thorin didn't care for tea and after a taster, had left rather hastily. At the time, Nori had been a respectable Dwarf, a spymaster to his father, a rather epic feat considering his humble background.
It was only as they settled in the Blue mountains, where each and every dwarf became equal in their struggle for survival, their uphill battle to place roots in a mountain not their own and build life anew, that those circles that had segregated them before began to fade and crumble. It had been hard, but they had all learned to lean on one another, especially with the other races prejudices against them climbing at an alarming rate. It was during this time he met all those he could truly call friend for the first time in his life. Dwalin, Balin, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Ori, Nori… Lily.
The woman, who he had originally believed to be a crazed human, had appeared out of the blue with a even more preposterous story of her arrival. Who could blame him for originally not taking her seriously? Witches, wizards, a whole other world and a painting that sucks you back and too between them. Yes, he had originally laughed her off… To her face, which, in hindsight of now knowing what Lily was like, had been one of his most grievous mistakes. Of course, it did not take her long to correct him, not when she used a twig of all things to turn his skin blue and hair bright pink with a flick of her thin, human wrist.
At first, she being a stubborn thing, had refused all contact or help, trying fruitlessly to go back through the painting she had said brought her here, with no use. It was during this time, Thorin would hazard a guess, that Nori had wormed his way into her good side. Soon, the weeks turned to months and then the months turned to years and before anyone knew it, Lily was simply there, one of them. Of course, Thorin did not know their whole tale, he wasn't present for most of it, Nori too refusing to talk about those days, too painful no doubt, but he knew the basics.
They married in spring and soon after, weeks even, Mahal had blessed them with a baby. A rare honor indeed, to have a little one so soon when many could not at all. It was during one of his visits eight months after the birth, as was customary in Dwarven tradition, leaving the family six months of seclusion to ensure the babes health, that everything was ruined with a slip of his tongue. Dis, Fili, Kili had been present, having visited as soon as tradition let them, Dis having grown close to Lily, so were Dori and Ori along with the newly formed family.
It had all been going so well, laughter, good drink, better food and smiles all around. Fili and Kili, both still Mizimith's themselves, had been playfully fighting over the babe most of the night, wanting to play with the little thing, arguing over who got to hold her longer, pulling faces at her from over Lily's arm that cradled her. Fili had been holding her, Lily keeping his arms in the right position and everything had been calm and peaceful… Until the babes hand had shot out from her warm knitted wrappings to snatch at Fili's blossoming mustache, laughing loudly like a squawking eagle as she gave an almighty tug.
"Ow, ow, ow! Don't laugh Kili, she has me by the whiskers and her little grip is strong! Don't just stand there! Help!"
Dis and Kili had joined in with the laughter, the former helping Lily in her attempt to disengage the boisterous babe from ripping his nephews sparse hairs straight off his lip, the latter elbowing Fili in the side when he was finally free.
"She's just sick of your ugly face! Teach you right! I told you she liked me more. Can I hold her now Lily? Please, please, please-"
"Okay Kili, but only for a little while longer, she's going to need some milk and sleep soon."
Kili sat in the chair next to Thorin, nearly bouncing as Lily gently fixed his arms and then placed the babe into them. The pair sat quietly for a minute or two, until Thorin felt a curious gaze burning in the side of his cheek. Glancing down, he was met with the rounded face, copper curled little bundle staring up at him. Oh, her hair was all Lily, that fiery shade, with a hint of Nori's copper, her face too resembled Lily, but those eyes, grey and large and sparkling like a knifes edge or the bright moon, those were all Nori. She reminded him of his nephews back in the day. Back when they had a real home, where they didn't need to fear their neighbors or wonder if they would have enough grain or food come winter. Perhaps, with this small child, they really could begin again, they could create a new home. He found himself speaking without taking his gaze away from the curious, gummy smiling, dribbling… Adorable thing. He would never utter that word out loud, no matter how much he had come to care and like both Lily and Nori.
"Does she have a name?"
Before Lily, Ori, Dori or Nori could answer, all going to, Kili beat them to it with his never-ending energy and enthusiasm. The boy could talk and sometimes it was hard to distinguish the words when he began to ramble. However, oddly, he seemed to know he couldn't talk so loudly, not while holding a newborn.
"Her names Harri. I helped choose it didn't I Lily? It's because she makes a Ha-Ha sound when she laughs and she's always laughing. See, she's laughing again!"
Lily shot his nephew a warm smile, all gentle summer breeze and buttermilk, as she reached over and tickled the babes nose with the tip of her finger, eliciting more laughter. Now that his nephew had pointed it out, she did have quite a distinct laugh. Loud, high-pitched, almost like a bird's caw without the harshness of the C.
"Aye, you and Fili helped."
Kili, for a moment, looked a bit petulant at being reminded his brother had had a helping hand in the name choosing process. Still, his nephews should be honored at the privilege. It wasn't often any couple let even a suggestion of a name be placed upon their child from an outside source. Names, in their world, were coveted, secret, the holders to the owners destiny. Names, to them, meant a lot. They represented the person, who they were, who they was and who they would be. Still, a name that related to laughter, to joy and happiness... It was a good choice and an even better hope for the child's life. Thorin nodded.
"Tis a good name. Strong."
It was then that Nori spoke up, and now, thinking back, he wished he never had. It was this moment that began that dreadful boulder rolling down the hill that left a destroyed family and home within its wake.
"Do you want to hold her?"
Thorin could only nod, taken back by the trust Nori had in him to hold his child, his child that was so young, so rare. When the babe was slid into his arms, a grumbling Kili going back to sit with his mother, Ori quickly cheering the boy back up as the two bantered back and forth, Thorin met the babes eyes once more. He smiled then. He couldn't remember the last time he had smiled… Perhaps back when he had held his own nephews.
"She's a pretty little thing. Too pretty for this world, aren't you? Just like your mother."
And so, the boulder crashed. Soon, Lily took the child back, heading towards the kitchen to fetch some milk. Only, as she stood just in through the wonky doorway, as something bright and blue began to glow from the kitchen depths, as Nori jolted from his seat with just enough time for Lily to turn around and face them, eyes wide and fearful.
Lily's voice then, so scared, so melancholy, would forever haunt him. Before Nori or any of them could make it to the room, the door slammed shut as wind, unnatural and chilling, picked up. Nori threw himself at the door, Thorin yanked at the handle, hoping to break the metal, Dis pulled the children, Fili and Kili back, afraid for their safety, Dori yelled and pounded, shouting for Lily and Harri, and Ori began to quake, still a child himself. When the horrid light from under the doorway faded and the door magically became unstuck, they all fell through. When they had looked up, it had been empty, no Lily, no baby Harri… Only a glowing painting hanging over the kitchen hearth. A painting Nori dashed for, ripping off the wall and shaking it as if he could slip Lily and Harri free from the depths.
"No, no, no, no! It shouldn't be here! I burnt it! Lily scattered the ashes! What's it doing here? What's it doing here?! Lily? Harri? Harri?!"
Dori looked around the room, dazed before he tried to pull his brother away from the painting.
"Stop lad, it won't do no good. Not now."
Nori broke then, crumbling to the floor as if his strings had been cut, ugly, twisted, heart wrenching sobs wracking his form. And Thorin? All he could do was stare, watch, a frozen witness. What… What had he done? His father had warned him… Frerin had warned him… Dis had warned him so brutally… Dear Mahal, what had he done?
That guilt had never eased. Not in the twenty-two years since that night. Why do you think Thorin let Nori off the hook so many times? All the trouble he brought to their new mountain, all the complaints and hissing and booing, even when they had it tough already? All the little trinkets that went missing from surrounding human villages that smeared them all with the same brush? It was because it was his fault.
His fault Nori had slipped from his high post of spy-master and was sludging in the muck of petty thief. It was bellow Nori and his talent, everyone knew that. And yet, Thorin knew why he stooped low and continued to wade in the mud and grime. The most precious things of his had been taken, his child, his One, ripping a void within him that he was trying to fill. Perhaps he felt if he took enough, the world would right the wrong of taking from him.
However, Thorin's pride never really let him apologize, not outright and with words, and so he showed his repentance through his actions. Letting the petty crimes slide against the wishes and annoyance of fellow dwarves being the chief route it went through. He would never get to see Lily again… And like they had gone, so had his hope to ever settle in a place other than the Lonely mountain. Thorin pulled his gaze determinedly away from the painting that hung on the main wall of the tea shop, adamantly pushing down the memories it rung forward. Dori had kept the damn thing in torturous hope that one day, Lily and the babe would come tumbling back through, back home, where they belonged. Turning to face those gathered, he spoke with resounding finality.
"We need to discuss the consolidation of the trade route to and over the river lune..."
Harri pushed herself further into the corner she had squirrelled herself away in, her mother's diary clasped tightly in her hands, the only light coming from the stubby candle she had perched beside her. Funny enough, when faced with the danger of a painting of all things that seemed to be trying to swallow her whole and followed her wherever she went, she had run to the safest place in the house. Well, what she had felt was safest. The basement. There was something about it, the cool, rough brick, being deep in the earth, that settled something unnamable inside her. Secretly, Harri had hated Gryffindor tower for that very reason, being up so high and out in the open… It felt unnatural.
But, she supposed, unnaturalness followed her like bees did with flowers. It had been two weeks since that fateful night, when she had heard the fireworks and seen the party brought to life in oil and shading. It had only gotten worse since then. She had tested the bloody thing with every detection spell she knew, but it all come up with zilch. Nothing. Nada. Whatever it was, it wasn't made from magic, at least not the type her kind knew and used. That scared her the most. The unknowing.
Then, it began to follow her, if a painting could do such a thing. It would appear in the kitchen while she cooked breakfast. It would be there, taunting her when she opened her eyes and gazed at her bedroom wall. Even the garden was not safe, the fucking thing had appeared dangling from a tree when she had turned her back. She never saw it move, but by Merlin, it did. The painting itself had changed with the tides of the sun and moon, mirroring each day and night.
She had grown fed up then, angry, and she had lashed out. She burnt it until it was nothing but a pile of ashes in the smoke-pit in the backyard, only to walk back into the house and to see it hanging above the fireplace. She had smashed it. Cut it. Dumped it in a lake. Nothing worked. It always came back. And so, she found herself bloody cowering in the basement, invisibility cloak wrapped around her shoulders, searching her mother's diary for any answers. Perhaps if she found out the grey mans name, perhaps Harri could hunt him down and give him his damned painting back. Merlin knew she didn't want it.
Scoffing to herself, the muggle was likely long dead, she flicked over to another page, drawing the candle closer to have a better look. So far all she had found was three closed envelopes squished inside the pages, all magically sealed by her mother so only the recipient could open them. Harri cast her gaze to the other side of herself, eyeing up the pile of parchment rectangles. Maybe they weren't even letters, perhaps they were poetry, especially with the words Dori, Nori and Ori scrawled across the aging parchment.
"Oh mum, what have you done? What's going on?"
No voice answered her and Harri felt the crushing weight of loneliness bare down upon her shoulders. However, the candle flickered, the yellow book jumped out of her hands and as Harri pushed herself away, knowing what happens with books and journals that acted on their own, a wind she could not feel flicked the pages in quick succession, before finally settling on the last third of the book. Harri's eyes scrunched as she folded in on herself, breathless and lost in memory, waiting for Tom's voice to degrade and mock her…
His voice never came and when Harri's heart calmed enough for her to peek a look at the book, she only saw nothing. Blank. No writing, no drawings as her mother sometimes included, and no poetry. Huffing, believing it was just her magic brashly oozing out at her untampered emotions and lack of sleep, Harri plucked the book back up and as soon as skin met paper, colours, words and life seeped into the last pages, spreading out like an ink spill… Only, Harri's eyes could not see it, pupils and irises bleeding white, not when her mind was dragged to somewhere old, forgotten and hidden. Seeing things from long ago.
Her mother was standing in the front room, young, seventeen-ish, fresh out of Hogwarts, the painting was glowing blue and the world flashed as she brought her hand up and touched the brush strokes. When the light settled, she was gone.
The page flipped over.
Her mother was standing with a man, dressed in all grey like she had described, only his hat was pointy, he was tall, ever so, and his robes were tinged with dirt around the edges.
"I'm sorry, there's no way back just yet. Not until the time is right and even then, I fear, you will not think it so."
Another page flipped.
"She was lost in the woods, I couldn't just leave her there. She can stay with us, can't she Dori? Until she can get back on her feet, of course."
Her mother was standing in a small tea shop, muddied, twigs sticking out of her hair with dirt smudged across her face as if she had rolled through a woodland. Small people with beards… Well, people Harri's size, even young her mother towered above them, where looking between the one standing next to Lily and Lily herself. One was old, hair white and braided into a bun, rounded with stout, calloused fingers that were fiddling with a tea cup. His beard was well kept and brushed, oiled and slicked into two plaits that faded into a trailing one at the very end. He had a kind face, homely and welcoming.
The other one, half hiding behind the legs of the white haired one, was young, a child really, despite the first few fluffs and tendrils of a beard brushing his cheeks. He even had little honey brown whiskers tickling his top lip. He was dressed in thick wool, a bobbled hat pulled down over his head, a long scarf circling his neck and mittens hiding his hands from view… But he was smiling at Lily with childish wonder and excitement, even if he was a little shy.
The last one stood close to her mother, barely a hairbreadth away. He was clad in leather, rough and dark with an axe strapped to his back and mud caking his boots. His hair was shining copper, twisted and coiled into a star shape, a few shades lighter than Lily's own spiced wine red… Harri had copper hair too… And those gunmetal grey eyes… Harri could no longer think on the matter as the white haired one… Dori, smiled widely and ushered Lily to a seat.
"Of course, of course! What kind of dwarf would I be to set a lady back out to fend for herself? Now, tell me dear, what type of tea do you like?"
The page flipped.
Her mother was sitting on the steps to the tea house, the moon high in the sky as she stared up and out into the void. Thud, thud, thud, thump. The man, the red haired… Dwarf as Dori called them, sat next to Lily on the edge, following her gaze. After a moment of silence, her mother's voice danced out into the cold air.
"One year, five months. I've been here a whole year and five months… I don't think I'm ever getting back despite what Gandalf has said. What am I to do Nori?"
Nori turned to look at her, the moonlight illuminating his face. He looked sad then, with a little down twist of his lips hidden beneath his own braided beard.
"Is it so bad being here?... Being with me?"
Her mothers smile was anything but sad as she reached across the distance and clasped Nori's hand.
"No. That's the problem, you see… I don't won't to go back… Not without you…"
The page flipped.
It was spring, the flowers were blossoming, jaunty, rustic music filled the air of the little tea shop and the place was crowded with dwarves. Her mother, dressed in white and rosy cheeked stood above them all, towering in all her beauty and grace. She looked angelic, heaven sent, holding a delicate allure that Harri could never hope to reach. If her mother was a glass rose, Harri was the stone cactus. Nori stood beside her, gone with the leather and weapons, replaced with a silk tunic with silver trim. A dwarf… A woman with a midnight beard, just like the men, bulldozed her way to the couple, two children, squirming in her arms, fighting for freedom.
"Congratulations! Oh, it was precious! May Mahal bless you both! A wedding was just what we needed to lighten the spirits around here!"
Her mother hugged the woman tightly, making sure not to squish the children.
"Thank you, Dis. May Mahal bless you and your kin too."
Lily pulled away and just as Nori was about to speak, the two children, a blonde and brunette was all Harri could see from her vantage point, broke free, darting into the crowd. Dis huffed.
"Hold that thought. Fili! Kili! You get back here right now or so help me…"
The page flipped.
Her mother was laying in bed, hidden under thick furs and blankets, curled up on her side, dawn fast approaching. The door to the little bedroom opened, Nori slipping in through the crack, quietly shutting the door as he stealthily made his way to the bed, sitting down as he began to undo his boot laces. Lily's neck stretched as she looked over her shoulder to him, a sleepy smile gracing her face. Nori smiled back as he abandoned his laces to reach and grasp her mothers hand.
"You're meant to be sleeping. You need all the rest you can get in your condition."
Her mother rolled to face him and there was a hint of something rounded and large before it was swallowed by the blankets again. Now Lily only looked cheeky.
"I would, but she has other plans. She punches and kicks just as strongly as you do. How was the meeting with Thorin? Still as grumpy as ever?"
Was some woman hurting her mother? Was she ill? A lump formed in Harri's throat but she couldn't move, couldn't speak, could only watch as Nori laughed heartily as if her mother being beaten was some sort of joke.
"Aye, he's a right sour bastard, but I can't blame him. He has a lot of weight to bare and this conflict with the human village is helping none. Enough of work, let me feel bunnanunê."
Her mother sat up, shirked the blankets and Harri's heart thudded to a stop. The rounded thing, it was no pillow… It was her stomach. Lily… Lily was pregnant and by the look of her age, eighteen, nineteen… That was Harri inside there. As Nori leant down, whispering to the swollen stomach in a language Harri had never heard before, but soothed something ragged and painful inside her, rubbing the skin affectionately, it all made sense. It was poetry… In a way.
No-Ri. Do-Ri. O-Ri… Har-Ri. Nori. Dori. Ori. Harri. The names, they bonded family together… Like surnames... Family, her family. The eyes, the hair, her size and rather athletic, compact and muscular build, her strength... James Potter was not her father, the red-haired man with her copper tinge and steel eyes were. She couldn't breath. Her head swam and before she could stumble towards the bed...
The page flipped.
Her mother looked most happiest here, more joyful and content in any photo Harri had ever seen of her, surrounded by Nori, Dori, Ori, Dis, the two children that had scarpered at the wedding and a dwarf she did not know. The unknown man was holding her, smiling down, the same inky tresses Dis sported cascading down his back in glorious, shining waves and braids. Even in his tatty fur cloak, he looked majestic.
"She's a pretty little thing. Too pretty for this world, aren't you? Just like your mother."
Harri got a look at the babe and it only made her feel more dizzy. That was her alright, copper curls, turned up nose, silver eyes. Her blood churned and went sour. Only, as she looked up, watched the banter, watched the laughter and saw the smiles, indescribable pain pierced her heart. What went wrong? How did Lily end up back in the other word? How was Harri left abandoned… Alone. Just another orphan?
What would it have been like growing up here, with family? With love? Without war and pain and blood and death? Would she no longer have nightmares? Would her scars and battle wounds be finally seal closed? Would she not be so irrevocably alone? Just what went wrong? Her mother answered that horrid question when she took baby Harri back from the man, excusing herself to the kitchen. It all happened so fast from there. The blue light, the yelling and pounding, the slamming of the door and a flash. When the door finally opened it was empty and the very same painting that haunted her sat atop the hearth, having the final laugh once more.
The page flipped.
Lily was huddled with James in Godric's hollow, pale, clutching Harri to her chest. James was looking frantic, shaking Lily by the shoulders.
"James, he's coming, we have to run! Please, I can't see my best friend or daughter dead. We can make it, I know we can! If we leave by the back door and run for the woods-"
James cut her off, his voice deep and sorrowful.
"There's no time. He's here and his deatheaters have this house surrounded. We'll survive this, and when all is said and done, we'll get you back there, back to your husband and family and everything is going to be alright Lils, okay? But right now, you have to hide. Go upstairs and no matter what happens or what you hear, don't come down!"
Her mother nodded and ran, slamming the nursery door behind her and locking it with every spell she knew. She placed baby Harri in the cot, tears misting her eyes as she frantically looked around herself… Gaze landing on the little yellow diary. Picking it up, she looked all around her until her gaze met Harri who had been forced into the corner of the room. Could she see her? Could Harri stop the madness before it ever began? As Harri stepped forward to warn Lily, to get her to run, the woman was speaking and all of Harri's ill formed hopes and half shaped dreams shattered.
"I-…. I don't know if it's you whose found my diary, but I pray it is. It was never meant to come to this Harri, never. You were meant to grow up happy and surrounded by family who love you and my only hope is that that dream of mine can still happen. You're not meant for this world Harri, not meant for this life. You can only stay in a world not your own for a short time..."
Lily's breath hitched as she heard a bang ring out from outside, but she turned back, speech growing frantic.
"The painting, it was only trying to fix what it started. You see, you can't stay in a world you're not born too, that you don't belong in, not for long. It accidentally sent me there and righted its own wrong by bringing me back… Only it brought you back too. You weren't born here, your blood doesn't belong here, and I hope it will fix the wrong it has done to you too. Magic is a funny thing, it doesn't work on time scales or wants and wishes. But it will end what it's started and the only way to do that is to send you home."
Her mothers voice broke and the first tears began to fall.
"If your hearing this, seeing this, it means I couldn't make it back with you like I so hoped to. I have letters hidden within this diary for our family, your family, explaining much more than I can right now. You see, the clock has struck night and It's time to go to sleep. You're strong, just like your Udâd, you'll make it, I know you will. I don't know what your life has been like, if your happy and well, I pray you are… But you have family out there, waiting for you. If you're anything like me, like your father, like the strong dwarf you are, that will mean so much to you. Please, don't turn your back on this. I fear Nori will need you as much as you will need him. He will be able to tell you so much, teach you things I can't… But there's no time. I'm sorry it has come to this, I tried my best to get back home, back to Ered Luin but evidently, I never managed it."
Harri was crying now too, silently, bitterly, fingernails digging into the palms of her hand until she felt something hot and thick begin to drip onto the floor from between her fingers and clenched palm.
"Tell Nori he is and always has been my star in the night sky. Tell him I love him forever and always. Tell Dori I'll miss his tea and talks. Tell Ori to keep wrapped up warm, I know how cold he can get… And Harri? Find them, your family. Smile. Laugh. Love without bounds… And go home… Go home, for both of us."
Lily looked away then, pulling out her wand and pressing the tip to her temple, drawing out thin, shiny tendrils of lights… Memories. The memories Harri had just seen. Flicking her diary open, she placed them inside before shutting the book with a resounding bang.
"This is where my story ends… But yours, my darling Harri, is only just beginning."
Lily threw the book out the open window, away and gone from the death and blood about to tarnish everything within this home, and just as the door slammed open to the nursery, as baby Harri began to wail, as a cloaked figure slithered in, the world faded to black and Harri was back in her basement.
Harri was crumpled on the floor, not knowing how long she had stayed there after her sight was her own again. How long had she been crying? How long had it been since the memories had been replaying in her mind? Long enough for the candle to burn itself out. Everything had been a lie. All that she knew, the foundation of her life, it had been shattered beneath her feet and Harri felt like she was free falling into nothingness.
Who even was she? Who was her mother? Nothing made sense. The prophecy, the timing, Dumbledore's stubborn adamant proclamation that it had to be her to fight the war, but how could it be? How could any of it make any sense if she wasn't even meant for this world? If she could not stay in it? She feared she would only know those answers if she ever got the chance to talk to the grey man. He knew. Harri knew he knew. As she went to push herself up, something crinkled underneath her hand. The letters. They… They were her family. Her father, uncles. Merlin, she had uncles. Family, right there…
Could she really go? Abandon all that she knew? Hermione, Ron, the Weasleys, Neville, Luna, dammit, even Draco. Only, they had their own lives, didn't they? They had their own families, their own endings. Was she being selfish for even contemplating going? But this could be her only chance to have the one thing she has always wanted, the one thing always just out of reach.
The basement began to glow blue. Looking up, at the far end of the basement, she saw the painting, not taunting as she originally thought it was, nor mocking, no. It was welcoming, beckoning, calling her home. She just had not understood, had refused to listen as she often did. Go or stay. Memories, for that was all she had here, or family? Now was the time to choose. In all honesty, it did not take long at all for Harri to choose as she scooped up the letters, made sure her invisibility cloak was strapped on tight, hid her wand and Lily's diary in a flap of her cloak. Selfish. For once in her life, she was going to be selfish. Perhaps one day, she would visit back here, and even if she never did, what truly was she leaving? An empty home? Strained friendships? A life she did not want? So what if there were risks? She was a Gryffindor, they thrived on risk taking. It was practically air to them.
Harri chose family, she always had and she always will.
As Harri made it to the painting, her hand stalled before she could touch it. Casting one last glance over her shoulder to the basement, she gave one last smile. She was off on another adventure, and just like the Gryffindor she was, she couldn't wait. As fingertip landed on brushstroke, the room flashed electric blue, the sound of Harri's bird like laughter ringing bright and true. When the light faded, the room was empty once more, and in the dank darkness of the basement, the painting that had caused so much trouble, finally disintegrated into nothing, the doorway between the two worlds closing for the last time. At the exact same time, worlds and centuries apart, two brothers made a quip to a flustered Ori that they wouldn't have to learn to court properly, against Thorin's orders, and that their one would fall right into their lap…
A.N: So, like, hate?... I'm sorry about the extreme length between updates, life got in the way as it sometimes does, and to make up for it, I hashed together a few of the chapters I was going to keep separate in hopes to make up for the delay.
Quick question: I'm heavily (And I mean heavily) leaning towards having Thilbo in this. What can I say? I adore those two together and I really can't help myself! What do you guys think? Yes to Thilbo or am I going to get boo'd?
Mizimith- Jewel that is young
Bunnanunê- My tiny treasure
Udád- Father (greatest of)
THANK YOU to all those who reviewed, you're the reason I decided to come back to this and work on it. Thank you to all those who followed and favourited, and I hope you are all enjoying the story so far.
As always, Please drop a review! They really do keep me writing and thinking about this fic, aswell as helping me work on where I go wrong or expanding on what I'm doing right.
Until next time, stay Beautiful! ~AlwaysEatTheRude21