"He must have known I'd want to leave you."

"No, he must have known you would always want to come back." - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The ground where the ring had lain was scorched, yet bare. The world seemed suspended in time as Harry stared at the blackened ground. Then the moment was broken as a bee flew lazily into view, hovering for a brief moment before moving onto more fragrant areas of the garden.

Harry kept his eyes tightly closed and concentrated on shifting back. His bones creaked in protest as they shrunk and thickened. The pain only intensified as the transformation completed, and Harry grimaced from the pain and slowly sank onto his knees in the grass. He had forgotten about the dagger wound; now, as his organs shifted back into place, he belatedly realized that transforming might not have been his best idea. He fumbled, trying to put pressure on his stomach, but the blood made his hands slippery. The blackened ground below was slowly taking on a rust-colored tinge.

"Don't move," Eowyn cried, rushing to his side. Her face was pale, either from the possession or fright at seeing him become a lethal monster. Likely, it was from both. Yet despite her fear, she approached him with a determined glint in her eyes and she expertly rearranged him so that Harry lay on the ground with minimal movement.

A dagger glinted in the sun, and for a heart-stopping second, Harry thought she meant to finish what Tom had started. Instead, the dagger continued downwards and out of sight. Harry heard the soft sound of tearing fabric and then hissed in pain as Eowyn took a strip of her dress and deftly wrapped it around his abdomen. He bit back another groan as she cinched it tight; the pressure helped, somewhat, but as Harry opened his eyes to look, he saw that blood was quickly soaking through the strips of her dress. Eowyn added additional pressure with her hands, but it was a futile effort. Harry coughed, and it was a wet gurgling sound.

"Stay with me," Eowyn said in a low voice.

"Will he be okay?" Legolas asked, moving closer. Despite his words, his tone was mild. It sounded like Legolas was asking after a distant friend of a friend, and his eyes still retained a slightly glassy, far-off look.

Harry tried to look away. He didn't want this to be his last memory of Legolas.

"Go find a healer," Eowyn snapped. "Can you not see? He is dying."

Legolas merely tilted his head and regarded Harry with those inscrutable eyes.

"It happens to all mortals eventually," he said.

The words slowly seeped into Harry's brain. He was having trouble thinking through the pain, but they sparked a note of confusion as he registered the meaning. He… wasn't quite mortal anymore, was he? Harry's vision was getting fuzzy along the edges. His thoughts flitted this way and that, but underneath there was a nagging thought that he was forgetting something. Harry wanted to go to sleep, but the feeling of missing something persisted like an annoying itch.

His pocket began to heat up. It started as an uncomfortable warmth but soon verged on a burning sensation. His broken wand: holly, 11 inches, with Fawkes's phoenix feather. As if following his thoughts, the feather pulsed even hotter.

A phoenix! He was a phoenix.

In his split second of clarity, Harry pulled out his wand and stared at the long crack that ran down its length. Part of Fawkes' feather peeked through, a brilliant vermillion brighter than a sunrise. His world narrowed down to that small reminder and Harry pulled on his magic and pushed. Like a warm sweater, the transformation slipped on effortlessly. There was none of the warring between forms as before; the potential of the basilisk lay dormant in the back of his mind.

As the world loomed larger and his body shrunk, his blood felt like it turned into molten lava. Harry twisted his neck and watched as the wound slowly cauterized under the heat. Just to be certain, he carefully delved into a painful Occlumency memory and cried a single tear. The liquid disappeared without a trace into his feathers, but Harry could feel its healing working; he felt imperceptibly lighter.

"You've managed to transform again," Legolas said dully, as if making an observation about the weather. His voice was still flat and unaffected by the events he just witnessed. "Good. I know you are Eclipse, but all the same… I wanted to say farewell to him personally. Farewell."

Legolas turned and Harry watched him leave with barely suppressed despair. This time, the tears came unaided by any old memories; thoughts of his future without the elf held immeasurable sorrow.

"My heart aches for you," Eowyn said softly, "but there is nothing we can do. Only the sea can cure him now."

"Maybe... there is something that can cure him," Harry said. He stretched his wings experimentally. Feeling no pain, he quickly flapped his wings and gained altitude.

Below, Eowyn lifted a hand to shield her eyes as she watched in confusion, while Legolas hadn't bothered to look up. Harry felt a pang of hurt, but even that couldn't douse the small spark of hope in his chest. He slowly flew over the elf and blinked, letting his unshed tears carefully fall on top of the elf's head. They landed in two unassuming drops and then disappeared.

Legolas's stride faltered for a split second and time seemed to freeze in place. Then the elf shook his head and continued.

Harry's eyes felt hot with unshed tears. His magic could heal the most vile orc, but wasn't enough to break the call. Perhaps it was because Legolas wanted to leave and there was nothing to heal him from.

An oddly pitched hum pulled Harry out of his spiraling thoughts. Harry reluctantly pulled his gaze away from Legolas and looked down at the grass below. There, his wand lay in the grass, almost seeming to vibrate on its own. More of the phoenix feather poked its way out of the broken wood, and it seemed to radiate heat.

Harry flew closer and he could almost hear Fawkes. As he picked up the wand in his talons, it was as if a radio knob had turned and the static was replaced with a clear, ringing phoenix song.

For that brief moment, a veil had lifted and Harry grasped for the magic which had lain dormant for the past year alongside his broken wand. The feather burned brighter in response and raw, untapped magic flooded through him. His own magic rose to meet it and the two entwined in a chorus only witnessed once before, when the wand had first chosen him on that fateful day in Diagon Alley.

The feather pulsed even hotter and the wood began to smoke. Harry knew what he must do. He closed his eyes and gave silent tribute to his wand, which had first introduced him to the Wizarding World all those years ago. But that was on Earth; this world relied on a different kind of magic. It had no purpose here, save for this one last task.

His wand burned in a blaze of glory, and Harry directed all of its residual magic at Legolas in a final, concentrated plea. Please remember, he thought as he poured his magic into breaking the elf's spell.

The magic hit Legolas and swirled around him in multicolored sparks of yellows and reds and oranges. Fawkes' feather incinerated the holly and then the fire turned to the feather itself, burning away any remnant of the wand.

Harry quickly landed on the grass and transformed as his wings gave out from fatigue. His magic had cooled and hardened, like a campfire that had been put out months before. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he would rarely use magic again; perhaps it could be roused in a time of great need, but it could no longer be used for tickling charms or dancing teapots.

It was a pity, Harry thought, as he stared up at the sky above. Middle Earth could use some dancing teapots.

Thoughts of charms were swept away as arms pulled him into a bone-crushing hug. Long blonde hair tickled his nose. "Oh, Harry," a muffled voice said near his ear.

Legolas pulled back from him, concern etched into his face. "I almost forgot you. My head was filled only with visions of the ocean waves and far shores of white, until I heard you calling."

The elf's eyes roamed over Harry's face, trying to memorize his every freckle and mole. Soon, however, his gaze caught sight of the flattened shrubbery and the blackened area on the ground.

"What happened?"

"It's a long story," Harry said, feeling lighter than he had all day, even as fatigue hit him and his knees buckled. The world seemed to tilt on its axis and darkness rose to meet him as he mumbled, "Perhaps after a nap?"

A/N: We're getting close to the end! Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey :)