The Sugar Quill
Author: Murasaki99 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Lions On A Banner  Chapter: Chapter 1. Romenna
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Lions on a Banner 1. Romenna

Lions On a Banner

A Harry Potter Fan Fiction

by Murasaki99

Sequel to Stars In the River

Any Harry Potter character you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling

Chapter 1. Rómenna

Harry was dreaming. He knew it was a dream because even though he flew over the sea at high speed he felt no sting from the wind, nor could he hear the roar of the dark ocean churning below. He was disembodied and weightless as air. Silvery light from a waxing moon glimmered on the tops of the waves as he skimmed over them, flying not quite low enough to touch, had he actually been there in body and not in thought. A dark mass came into view on the horizon, growing rapidly as he shot toward it. At almost the last instant his speed slowed and he came to rest on the narrow stony shore of an island that seemed mostly taken up by a small mountain.

Harry stared at the peak outlined against the stars, feeling something stir in his memory. I know this place! he thought with a mental nod, this is that island where we found Professor Snape, the Doctor, and the King. This is Númenor - or whatever is left of it. I've never seen it at night. As he looked at the mountain, a movement to his left caught his eye. The air glowed blue-gold and an instant later Gobardon Agnen stood on the strand, his black robes belling out in the ocean wind.

"Your Majesty!" Harry called, but even as he spoke he realized his voice made no sound and the king gave no sign that he had heard anything. As he hovered on the shore, Harry became aware that he could hear if not speak; the waves created a steady background noise as they rolled in.

The king turned slowly, his pale eyes sweeping the beach, passing over the place where Harry was without seeming to see him. Facing the mountain, Gobardon Agnen looked up at the peak and raised his hands in salute. "I have returned to you," he said clearly. "For a brief time, I would walk on the lands yet hidden, for I have need of something that lies below. With your consent, I will seek what is wanted in Rómenna." He watched the moon-limned summit in silence for several minutes, and then bowed. "By your leave." Moving quickly, he drew off his outer robes and removed the armor he wore underneath. Dressed only in his lighter underclothing, the king turned and without hesitation marched across the beach and into the sea. In six strides the water closed over his head and he was gone from sight.

"Your Majesty! Stop! What are you doing?" Harry shouted in a panic. He moved forward to the edge of the beach but was unable to go any further. The minutes crawled by slowly. How long could a person survive without air? Harry couldn't remember the exact number but he knew most humans drowned quickly - in minutes. Oh, Merlin! I've got to find the Doctor or Snape! Surely they can do something? As he drifted over the beach in sorrow and fear he kept checking the sea for signs of a body floating to the surface, but saw nothing. Surely he didn't intend to drown himself? What can I do? I've got to get help! "Help! Help!" He cried, shouting with all his strength over the steady noise of the surf.

"Harry? Harry!" The voices of Ron and Hermione echoed as if they were calling down a deep well. Harry moved toward the sound, still crying for help.

"Harry, wake up!" With an effort, Harry opened his eyes. His two friends stood beside him, Ron's hands on his shoulders, shaking him briskly.

"Stop Ron, he's awake now! Harry, are you all right?" Hermione leaned in closer to peer at his face in concern.

"I'm…" Harry stared around in confusion. He was sitting in the Gryffindor common room. It must have been late in the evening for the fire had burned down to a few smoldering embers and most of the rest of the students had gone to bed. A few seventh-years looked their way curiously, shrugged and returned to their studies. "I'm in Gryffindor? But… I was on the island just moments ago."

"Harry, you fell asleep in your chair," said Hermione.

"After reading Arithmancy for over two hours, I wasn't surprised to see you nod off," added Ron with a chuckle. He pointed at the neglected textbook, which lay in a heap by Harry's feet after it had slid from his lap. "But it seems to have given you nightmares. About ten minutes ago you began to mutter in your sleep, and then you started calling for help. That's when Hermione and I decided to wake you up."

"But it wasn't easy," said Hermione with a troubled frown. "It was as if you were drugged or under a spell."

"Well, I wasn't exactly here." Harry scrubbed a hand through his dark hair and looked around the circular chamber. "I was on that island where Snape and everyone stayed."

"On Númenor?" Hermione looked at him in concern. "Harry, you - or your body at least - were here all the time."

"Yes, I know. I couldn't make the king hear me, and I didn't seem to have a body. But I could see well enough, and I saw him walk into the ocean!"

"What?" Ron looked shocked, as did Hermione. "It's deep out there!"

"It may be almost summer, but the ocean is still cold," added Hermione. "What happened?"

At the chorus of alarmed voices, Harry launched into a quick description of what he had seen and heard.

The sea sang to him in many voices, deep and steady, of the strength in the waters of the Earth. Join with us, came the ancient siren call.

Gobardon Agnen did not need to fear drowning, but like the rest of his ring-brothers he did fear running water, from the smallest freshet to the greatest ocean. His trepidation lay in not in physical danger but in that loss of Self glimpsed only when he put his head and body under water. Altered perceptions made swimming a river frightening indeed. Once immersed, the palely visible world he was familiar with vanished into an infinite blue-grey void, vast beyond measure, teeming with voices on the edge of hearing. A man could go mad were he to linger too long. He still had unpleasant memories of crossing the river Anduin, which had taken only minutes, and yet now he marched purposefully down the gravelly submerged slope of Meneltarma deeper and deeper into the night dark sea on a journey that could take hours. Once the water closed over his head his senses expanded outward even as his eyesight was rendered useless.

Old King, older still are we. Be one with us, called the sea. Let your smallness dissolve and be Whole.

Not tonight, Gobardon Agnen thought as he hiked down the steep slope of the submerged mountain. Although I have business now in Mar-nu-Falmar, I am needed above afterward. With that goal to shield his mind, he paced on, moving through the water only slightly more slowly than he moved through air. Menteltarma had been a tall mountain. Even weathered by the ages and the sea, it still took hours to reach the places where the descent became less steep and the land began to turn into the gentler roll of what had once been fertile hillsides and farmsteads of Arandor, the Kingsland nestled in the heart of Númenor.

He stopped on the crest of one of the Tarmasundar - the roots of the Pillar of Heaven, ignoring his eyes in favor of his other senses. Before him the sunken lands spread out, covered with sea-bracken and the accumulated detritus of millennia carried by the currents. The land also bore the ruins of the farmsteads, homes, mansions, and palaces of the lost Númenoreans - he could feel them as brighter spots in the textured landscape. To his left, not that far away from the mountain, was the capital city of Armenelos, her towers remarkably whole and glowing softly in his mind's eye.

He waited, and little by little was able to discern small points of light, twinkling like distant stars through the bulk of the city. These were items of power made by the lost art and science of Númenor. He took inventory of them, taking his time. Most were not dangerous, so much as objects that the wizards of the modern era might find useful and beautiful.

In the Tower of the Queen, a steady fire caught his mental gaze. Seven were the seeing-stones that Elendil brought forth from the downfall, and seven were the number known among the people. But more there were in Aman, and one, it was said, was given as a gift to the first Queen, and kept hidden away from the knowledge of men. Now I see the rumors were true.

The king shook his head slowly, silvery-white hair drifting free in the water. It would go hard with the wizardfolk were their enemies to lay hands upon the device. Much as I long to look into the Palantír, I will forbear. Here let it rest under the wards of the Valar. Resolutely he turned away from Armenelos and began walking swiftly down the ancient road that led toward the havens of Rómenna.

Now that he had oriented himself, he was able at last to use some of the ring's power to move himself quickly along the road, but even so, his progress was not as fast as it could have been. He was reluctant to teleport beyond the range of his senses, preferring instead to navigate point-to-point. I may be able to wade through stone, but I have no desire to materialize deep inside a piece of the land that has shifted since last I walked it. Were it not for the ground beneath my feet, I would have long since lost my grasp upon the direction of the sky. To suddenly be immured in stone without a compass… Suppressing a shudder, he continued onward, ignoring the sea-song that called after him still.

Another hour of steady effort brought him to the outskirts of what had been the great harbor town of Rómenna. Here he halted, balked for the moment by a deep chasm that had opened in the land, stretching away beyond his 'vision' in either direction. As I suspected, my home did not survive without damage, he thought while inspecting the trench. The entire province of Hayarrostar seems to have split asunder as Númenor sank. Leaning over the edge, the deep chill of the depths caressed his face. He could feel life far below, but it was nonhuman and unconcerned with the affairs of the world above. Gobardon Agnen sighed - or at least he moved seawater in and out of his lungs in what would have been a sigh had he been on dry land. Concentrating, he sent his senses across that chasm, searching for the town on the scarp beyond.

Rómenna is there, I can feel it. He looked once again over the lip of the canyon. It will take a long time to climb down and traverse the pit, and climb up again, and I do not wish to wait. Raising the hand that wore the ring, he set his jaw stubbornly. It is close enough. I will go, now! In a flash of blue-gold fire he vanished.

"The king is what, Mr. Potter?" Severus Snape stood in the doorway of Eregion's flat, a small witchlight hovering above his head. He wore a long grey nightshirt with his outer robes pulled hastily over it and he looked and sounded more than a little rumpled. "It is… after midnight, Mr. Potter, and you insist upon rousting me out of a sound sleep to tell me what sort of nonsense?"

"The King's drowning, Professor! I saw it!" It was a sign of the younger wizard's fear and determination that he had chosen to bang on Snape's door and brave his ire. Even the look on the Potions Master's face did not deter him from his mission. "I saw him walk into the sea over an hour ago and he hasn't come back!"

"How do you know this?" asked Severus, grinding the heel of one hand into an eye in a futile attempt to wake up faster. Glowering at him dubiously, Severus sniffed the air Harry had brought with him. "You and your partners in crime haven't been experimenting with forbidden potions again, have you?" he growled.

"No, Professor!" Harry tried to keep his voice calm and reasonable, but few people could get under his skin quite so fast. Looking into the irritated face of his teacher, he thought, the feeling's mutual, in a sudden flash of insight. He found the notion strangely calming. "I saw him - on that island where we found you. He just… walked into the sea, didn't even try to swim. I couldn't stop him."

"I very much doubt anyone could stop Gobardon Agnen if he had a goal in mind," Severus muttered. His eyes suddenly widened slightly in alarm. "Hecate's hangnails, just what were you doing on Númenor, Mr. Potter?"

"I wasn't there-there, I was just watching, somehow."

"Now we are back to experimenting with potions or spells better left alone," Severus' voice dropped an octave and he stared at Harry through half-lidded eyes.

"Invite the young warrior inside, Severus," came the calm voice of Eregion. "If he is ill or in need of our help, letting him take a chill in the hall will not aid us."

Severus clicked his teeth together, then sighed in resignation and stood aside, pulling the door open to let Harry pass. "You are lucky – elves are very light sleepers."

"Um. Thanks, I think." Harry ducked quickly through the doorway and around the gloomy form of Snape, giving the man as much space as he could. Inside, many small candles now lit the parlor. Doctor Eregion stood with a taper in her hand and set flame to the last candle upon a tea table.

"Welcome to you, Squire Harry. You have news of the King?"

Harry tried not to stare, but it was impossible not to. He knew Eregion was an elf from a world long lost in the deeps of time, had seen her perform magic of a sort unknown to the wizards of this age, and yet, she had seemed so normal, so very human. Now he saw someone who seemed familiar and yet the difference was there, glowing in her body, lighting her eyes with clear fire. She was wearing a dressing-robe of deep forest green, her brown skin warm against the cooler color. Her unbound hair flowed loose, falling nearly to her bare feet. Her delicately pointed ears were fully uncovered in the privacy of her home. Young as the spring flowers she seemed and impossibly ancient. Eregion smiled at him in welcome and Harry felt an odd pang in his heart.

"You… I… ehm…" For some reason the words he had been so desperate to speak refused to emerge. As he floundered helplessly, someone thrust a cup of steaming liquid into his lax hands and he gripped it as if it were a life preserver.

"Here. Drink some tea and look at the cup or the floor," Severus said gruffly. "She affects everyone the same way. Be glad her entire family isn't here in the same room, we'd be overwhelmed." His mouth turned up in a wry smile as he looked at his wife.

Harry stared at him. The expression made his dour professor look twenty years younger. In his eyes burned the same light, softer and less old, but the same nonetheless. Time's river flowed around him as it flowed around his elvish lady.

"Professor, you're…"

"What is it now, Mr. Potter?" At least his acidic voice hadn't changed.

Harry blinked and shook his head slowly. "Nothing, Professor. It's nothing." He's like her? Does he know? How did that happen? He shook his head again. Later, I'll think about it later. "We've got to rescue the King! Even if he's taken some potion to breathe underwater, he could be drowned by now."

"Like some people I know, the King could simply have helped himself to the Gillyweed in my office. I do not think he would set out unprepared." Severus' dark gaze was sardonic, but his voice held little more than mild irritation, the presence of Eregion seeming to act as a calmative.

"Perhaps you could begin your story afresh, Squire Harry?" asked Eregion, taking a seat beside Severus. "It may comfort you to know that King Gobardon Agnen cannot drown as a mortal man would. He does not need to breathe air to sustain his life. Sit and tell us your tale, and do not be so troubled. There is time."

At her gesture Harry sank into a chair, balancing his cup on the arm and described once again, in somewhat calmer tones, what he had seen and experienced that evening.

Rómenna was less intact than the capital, having suffered a powerful seismic shock when it broke from the mainland and fell into the sea. Gobardon Agnen crouched on an upthrust chunk of rock, trying to catch his bearings in the tumbled landscape on the other side of the chasm.

Where is the harbor? he thought as he cast about. Far behind he could feel Meneltarma; its solid bulk provided a secure anchor point for his mind. The harbor was here, I can feel what was once the sea's edge, but it has been filled in. The land fell and the seabed rose when all collapsed. He waited, letting his senses absorb the feel of the seascape. Schools of fish were mobile forms of glowing energy. None of them came too near, veering away when they sensed his chill aura. He nodded slowly. If the old shoreline is before me, my ancestral home lies in this direction. Leaving his temporary vantage point he walked carefully along what had once been the foundations for the piers and docks of the city on the bay.

Another hour of hiking brought him at last to the place where he had been born and spent his youth. The walls of the old manor still stood, preserved more by the fine art of the stonemason than any magic. Sea-currents had kept the silt from building up too deeply. Although many generations after mine added to the estate, I still recognize the heart of the manor. Have any of the heirlooms of my family survived as well? Hand over his heart he stepped carefully over the threshold, walking gently among the ruins. The ghosts of his memories kept him company as he explored. Shivering a little he stopped and rested his right hand against the broken lintel of a room now open to the ocean.

Of the room that had once been his own, little remained but tumbled blocks. Any wood had long since rotted away into the water. A small school of fish sported in the space where his bed had been.

I knew it would be trying, but this is far more difficult than I thought. I have trod the corridors of Minas Morgul and Barad-dûr the accursed, but this… is far more painful than all the tortures I endured at the whim of the Dark Lord. Now at last do I feel in full measure the weight of the Ages. Long gone are the lords and ladies of Númenor. All passed to the Halls of Mandos and beyond.

Sadly he turned away and began to retrace his steps through the manor, navigating more from memory than by mental 'sight'. Under his foot something clinked, the merry chime of metal carrying through the water as if someone had rung a bell. Freezing in place he knelt carefully, reaching out with his mind. Yes, something by his feet glimmered with a soft glow of magic - magic wrought by the women of his family. Hands shaking slightly he swept his fingers through the debris and came up with that which he had sought. Carefully he brushed the silt away. The metal underneath glowed with undiminished power and he smiled for the first time since visiting the land beneath the waves. Perhaps we are not as forgotten as I thought? Here is a gift from the mothers of Númenor to their children-of-the-future. May it serve them well.

"Doctor Eregion said the king couldn't drown," Harry spoke through a cavernous yawn as they took breakfast in the Great Hall. "She said to give him this day and if he's not back by tomorrow, she'll start a search." He sighed and sent a small magical wave rippling through his porridge. "I trust her, but I really hope she's right."

"Can't drown?" Ron scowled at him. "What - he's a ghost or something? He seemed too solid for that."

"The correct term is 'ringwraith'," Hermione said briskly, buttering another slice of toast. "The Doctor is right. He can't drown, because he's not exactly alive anymore."

"Like a vampire then?" Harry's interest was piqued and he ceased playing with his cereal.

"No, not quite. He doesn't drink blood or anything like that."

"And how do you know all this?" asked Ron, grinning at her. "Don't tell me you read it in a book!"

With a small smile Hermione pulled a thick leather-bound volume from her bag and laid it on the table. "As a matter of fact, while we were looking for the King last night I saw this and borrowed it from his secret library."

Ron and Harry eyed the rune-covered binding. Pulling out his wand, Ron murmured the translation spell and read the title. "The Red Book of Westmarch. Sounds boorring. Why did you borrow that one? I had my eye on Ravenclaw Quidditch Secrets. I should've taken it when I had the chance."

"I borrowed that one because it's a history of the world the king is from. They called it Middle-Earth back then. It talks about the War of the Ring, and the parts the various peoples played in it."

"The king's in that old history?" Ron poked the book with a finger.

"Oh yes," Hermione's face grew sober. "Although his part isn't a very good one, I'm afraid. It's back when he and his fellows were all held in bondage by a powerful dark lord."

"You can't tell me he acted worse than he did when he first arrived here? Remember he nearly did for Professor Snape. That's pretty bad."

"Actually, that's pretty typical. He was possessed by an evil being for a very long time. He couldn't get free and he couldn't die." She nodded at the book. "The magic rings the dark lord gave him and his friends were supposed to give them immortality. Instead it changed them into something not-human and made them his slaves. The Red Book describes it as if they were under the Imperius curse with no chance to escape."

"So the dark lord lied." Harry propped his chin on his hands and looked thoughtfully at Hermione. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"

"Perhaps because you've had more experience than they did. I haven't finished the book, yet, so maybe somewhere in there it will explain how the king and the other eight victims were deceived." She lifted the book and placed it carefully back in her bag. "I have read enough to know that the king really isn't in danger of drowning, so you can relax." She rose and waited for Harry and Ron to join her.

"Well, what about being eaten by a giant shark?" Ron protested. "Is he immune from that, then?"

"Ron, honestly!"

"No, really. Or a big squid, or a whale."

"Whales have very small throats," Harry said with a grin. He still felt concerned, but his initial sense of panic had eased. Just the fact that the Doctor had taken him seriously made him feel better.

"A kraken is huge. They make the giant squid in the lake look sickly. Muggles don't think they're real, but they are. In the old days, a good captain would pay a wizard to sail with his ship to keep them away." Ron wriggled his fingers to imitate tentacles. "I really hope we don't have to go and search for him on the bottom of the sea. There's all sorts of slimy things down there, with big appetites."

Hermione pressed her lips into a thin line and walked faster. "Thank you Ron Weasley, you couldn't've left off the mention of slime?"

"But if you don't know about it, how will you prepare a defense for us?"

Hermione's indignant reply was lost in the shuffle of young wizards and witches pushing their way into the Transfigurations classroom.

Continued in the Chapter 2, Simbelmynë.


The story continues with the the further adventures of Severus Snape, Harry Potter and friends, the king from Númenor, Hogwart's resident elf, and various beasties. There are probably a few professors and students in this tale, too. I'm a little slow starting up, but I made it through the end of the fiscal year so life is good. :-)

Mar-nu-Falmar (home under the waves) is another of JRR Tolkien's names for Númenor. For the full list and some very nice maps of the sunken lands, do check out the Encyclopedia of Arda.

Acire - The Snapelet is on its way. I think Severus is still trying to wrap his brain around all the adventures he's had.

Ozma - Harry and friends know something is up with Draco. I'm sure they don't intend to become buddies with him, but they feel a vague obligation. Nothing like a growth opportunity! And the youngsters get to share the growth opportunity with the adults, including the king. The king is mature enough to appreciate the fact, I'm not so sure about Severus. :-)

Giesbrecht - Yes, the elves can have multiple kids, it's just rather rare. And quite a few have none at all, so I'm not sure if kids born = elves killed in battle. Action coming soon! Well, there's some in this chapter, it's just not dire action. You may have to wait another chapter for the dire action to commence.

Teresina Dragonwagon - We're working on the raising Númenor thing. It might be a long-term project for the wizardfolk.

Finduilas - Hopefully you'll enjoy the new story, too. :-)

Da Bree - Glad you enjoyed the story!

Frank - Yep, horses gestate for 11 months, so Eregion will beat Nox in the foal department. Of course given that Azra'mor can jump out of his pasture easily, I do wonder if he'll beat Severus by sheer numbers... I can see all the Muggles who keep mares for miles around being surprised by warmblood foals next year that tend to be dark bay or black. Azra'mor is a son of Shadowfax, so he has good reason to think highly of himself.

Aenjil Elf - Thanks, glad you liked the story. Yes, Númenor has so many names it's scary.

Romm - Severus can't help thinking about what lies ahead, which probably colors his attitude more than a little. But he has friends now willing to help him cope... or at least they'll keep him busy.

Jedi Skysong - Ok, here we are fulfilling the the terms of the Tolkien Curse - the last part of a trilogy! Harry ought to have a fun time - summer's coming up and there will be nothing to do except stay out of trouble. :-) Just because I'm writing an AU doesn't mean I can't take advantage of some of the new canon JKR has added to the mythos.

HeatherK - Thank you, so glad you've enjoyed the stories thus far. I figure Illuvatar (or even the equivalent of the Valar, etc.) have got to be in Harry's world, perhaps in even more forms than in the Muggle world. I do find that lack odd in the canonical books, but it could be JKR just didn't want to deal with it, given anything she wrote would cause problems for someone. But being a fanfic writer gives me a little more room to experiment since if readers don't like my imaginings, Warner Bros. won't be out $$. Heh, Severus had been happily ignoring the reproduction thing for years - he never figured he'd be dealing with it quite in this way.

The Good Doctor Monaco - Yes, at some point they'll ask permission - what may be surprising will be the answer! (Are you familiar with the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The Answer is... 42!) Nox and her mate will definitely be around for this set of stories. Although someone put me onto the idea of the king eventually discovering Muggle cars (a black Jaguar, anyone?), I don't think he's going to give up his faithful charger anytime soon.

Alexandra - Let's see, you asked a number of good questions, and I'll take a whack at answering them. Snape did progress pretty fast in these stories, but he was definitely in a 'change or die' series of situations (not what I'd recommend for most folks needing mental/emotional repair, but...). Epiphanies are hard to maintain, but just the knowledge that we had one can be life-changing. I was using that idea as the underpinning for Snape's progression. Eregion knew what was happening, and certainly helped as needed, but you must remember, she's an elf, not a human. As far as she's concerned, Severus has plenty of time to grow. She'll push if the situation truly warrants it, but she feels no need to meddle when someone is making progress, even if the progress is slow. Being an elf, she has a very large frame of reference unavailable to humans. I think on some level Snape knows very well he is doing work on himself. He just doesn't choose to think about it on a consious level. :-)

Birdsong - I'm answering your note here. Glad you have liked the stories so far and I hope you enjoy the new ones.

Sasmon - Glad you enjoyed the story! I haven't found too many LOTR crossovers yet myself - that might have something to do with why I ended up writing one.

Mary Anne - Yes, exactly! The big SUV with the snake hood ornament would be very much like Lucius, wouldn't it? The more muscular and intimidating, the better. Dark-tinted windows, too. LOL. I think he'd be very dangerous behind the wheel, although Narcissa might be worse, she's part of the Black family, isn't she? I think in some ways the king is rather delighted when he is surprised by the modern wizards. Got to agree with you, Numenor in its current state is quite peaceful - I wouldn't mind living there myself! If I find out where it is, I'll let you know. :-)

Grateful thank-yous to my beta-reader Judi.

Disclaimer: If you recognize the characters as being from the world of Harry Potter, then they belong to J.K. Rowling.
Further disclaimer: This non-profit fan-fiction is not meant to infringe on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, either. All his stuff still belongs to him (and his heirs).
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