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Summary: (Co-written by KathyG and Dreamflower.) In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar fantasy world and part of an unexpected adventure. This story is AU, and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse. This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements. (Posted with permission from the admins of SoA.)
Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Rings belongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson. This story is not for profit, but is a gift for the enjoyment of those who read it.
Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies. Quotations from Tolkien's books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined. Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur. We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.
Thanks: We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable help of our beta, Linda Hoyland, another well-known and prolific LotR fanwriter, whose many wonderful stories also grace this site.
Chapter 2: Be Our Guest
“Come on, Merry!” Pippin urged impatiently. “Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam said they’d meet us for elevenses!”
Merry took his time as he finished brushing his foot hair and shrugging on his jacket, just because he knew it would annoy Pippin. “I’ll be ready in a moment. It would not hurt you to take a little more time with your own appearance, cousin,” he said, hiding a grin.
Pippin fidgeted silently, surreptitiously putting a hand up to smooth the tousled curls atop his head when Merry stopped to tiptoe up and glance in the mirror above the washstand. He yanked it down quickly when Merry turned around. He reached up and turned the doorknob, and then both of them used their combined weight to shove it open. Elven doors were heavy.
The two shoved it closed and headed down the corridor. They’d not gone a dozen steps before they saw the Lady Arwen and one of her handmaidens coming from a side passage with four children in tow. The young ones were oddly dressed; one boy and one girl appeared to be youths younger than Pippin himself by a year or three if they’d been hobbits, and another boy and girl seemed quite young. Pippin wasn’t sure of their ages, as he knew Men grew up at a different rate than hobbits.
He and Merry sped up their pace to catch up with the group. They soon fell into step with them.
“Hullo!” said Merry cheerfully. “We’ve not seen you here in Rivendell before.”
The whole group stopped. “Good day, Meriadoc and Peregrin! We do indeed have new guests.” Arwen introduced each of the McCloud children in turn.
Merry bowed politely. “Meriadoc Brandybuck, at your service. But you may call me Merry,” he said.
Pippin, blushing as he usually did in Arwen’s presence, also bowed politely. “Peregrin Took, also at your service.” He bowed again. “But most people call me Pippin, or even Pip.”
“We were heading down to the dining hall to meet Frodo, Sam, and Bilbo for elevenses,” Merry said to Arwen.
“And we were going to the same place, to see our newly arrived guests refreshed from their journey,” replied Arwen. She introduced each of the McCloud children by name.
Pippin noticed that the children were gaping wide-eyed at their size and at their hairy, bare feet and then at their pointed ears with curiosity and exchanging puzzled glances, though none of them said anything. He also saw the older girl give a start when Merry mentioned Bilbo, though how newcomers to Rivendell could know Bilbo’s name was beyond him. “Uh, hi,” she told the hobbits, and cleared her throat. “Pleased to meet you. How do you do?” She gave them an awkward smile. Kevin raised a hand in greeting, and then extended it to shake their hands.
As they made their way down, Lady Arwen explained that Merry and Pippin and their kin who awaited them were called “hobbits” and were not some smaller variety of Elf. Jennifer gave Arwen a bewildered look, but said nothing; she and Kevin exchanged a puzzled glance, and then she shook her head violently in an attempt to clear her head. “What’s a hobbit?” Kaylee asked.
“Not now, Kaylee. Later,” Jennifer told her little sister. “We’ll ask them later. Right now, it’s time to eat.”
The group entered the dining hall, where they saw the other three hobbits awaiting them. There was a large spread of food upon the table: various breads, cheeses, cold cuts of sliced meats, a large bowl of fruit, and a platter of sweet biscuits, tarts, and small fruitcakes. A teapot and teacups were in front of Bilbo. Frodo and Sam sat across the table from the older hobbit, but they jumped to their feet when the others entered. Bilbo remained seated; his old bones were not so spry as they used to be. The table was surrounded by benches for the diners to sit upon, rather than chairs. The three hobbits had been sitting on piles of cushions that enabled them to sit high enough to reach their food, and there were three more such piles on the benches: two on the bench that Frodo and Sam were using, and a third on the other bench where Bilbo was seated. The cushions that Frodo and Sam were sitting on scattered as they rose to their feet, and some of them landed on the floor. Arwen picked them up and gathered them together to form neat piles once more.
“Two of the piles of cushions are for Merry and Pippin, who will probably want to sit with Frodo and Sam,” she told the children, as soon as she had repositioned Frodo and Sam’s cushions. “The hobbits cannot reach the food otherwise. The third is for Miss Kaylee.”
While Mairen took her seat near the children, Arwen went to the kitchen to request more plates, and perhaps more food. She was unsure how much the children would eat, but she knew how much hobbits would, every time they sat down to a meal. And if any of the children were in a growth spurt, they might eat just as much as the hobbits did! She also wanted to make sure that Lucy was being fed.
Merry took the lead and began to introduce the children to the other hobbits. “Cousin Bilbo,” he said, “may I present Master Kevin McCloud, his sister, Lady Jennifer McCloud, his brother, Master Joey, and his younger sister, Miss Kaylee?"
Bilbo gave a gracious nod. “Bilbo Baggins at your service and your family’s,” he responded politely. He indicated Frodo and Sam. “This is my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins, and our friend, Samwise Gamgee.”
Frodo and Sam gave polite bows. “At your service,” both of them said in unison.
Jennifer looked rather gobsmacked, but managed to remember her manners. “Uh, hi. I’m pleased to meet you all. We all are. How do you do?” She gestured toward her siblings, who nodded, and then for the second time, she shook her head violently, as if attempting to clear it. Now she understood why some things seemed vaguely familiar. “Oh, my gosh! No way!” she gasped. “Nicole will never believe this!”
An astonished Jennifer sank down on the bench next to the third empty pile of cushions close to Bilbo, shaking her head in stunned amazement.
Kevin put a hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong, Jen?” he asked.
“Kevin, you know those Ring movies? You know—The Lord of the Rings? We’ve seen bits and pieces of them on cable sometimes?” Kevin nodded. “And Nicole’s been nagging at me to read one of her favourite novels. It’s called The Hobbit. And the main character is named Bilbo Baggins. There’s going to be movies about it, too. She wants me to read the book before the first one comes out this year!”
“Holy cow!” Kevin slapped his face. “I remember there was a character named Frodo in those Ring movies, and he looked an awful lot like this one here.” He looked at Frodo as he spoke. “I always meant to watch those movies whenever they were on TV, but they were so long, and I was too young when they first came out anyway…”
“Excuse me, Master Kevin,” Bilbo interrupted. “I think you had better tell us what you mean. Why do you call Frodo and myself ‘characters’?”
“And begging your pardon,” asked Sam, “but what is a ‘movie’?”
Kevin helped Kaylee to take her seat on the pile of cushions that one of the elves had stacked on the bench for her, and then he and Joey sat down at the table with their sisters. Merry and Pippin had gone over to the other side, so the children sat by Bilbo. Jennifer and Kaylee sat on his left, and Kevin and Joey sat to his right. Climbing onto their own cushions, Merry and Pippin sat across the table from them next to Frodo and Sam.
“Jennifer, you seem to remember more than me,” said Kevin. “See if you can explain it.”
She blushed, but bravely made the effort. “Well, uh, in the place where we come from, there’s a famous book called The Hobbit, and another one called The Lord of the Rings. A man named J.R.R. Tolkien wrote them. They’re make-believe stories.” Jennifer paused. “I’ve—we’ve never read them yet; none of us have.” She gestured toward her brothers and sister again. “Neither have our parents, I don’t think. And we’ve only seen bits and pieces of the movies. But my best friend, Nicole, she’s read and watched them. She told me that The Hobbit is about this small person named Bilbo Baggins who was very brave, and went on an amazing adventure with a wizard and some dwarfs…”
“Dwarves!” chorused the hobbits.
Jennifer looked abashed, but gamely continued, “Dwarves, then; we call them dwarfs where we come from. Anyway, she said the other book was about a hobbit who was related to Bilbo, named Frodo. But she wouldn’t tell me anymore, because she didn’t want to spoil any of it for me. So, I don’t really know much about either of the books.”
Frodo glanced at Kevin. “You said something about a ‘movie’ and seeing part of it.”
“Umm…” Kevin floundered a bit, trying to think of an explanation. “A movie is a way of telling a story with pictures that move. Actors take part in movies; they portray the characters in them. They’re like plays, except they’re filmed with movie cameras, and then they’re shown on screens.” He tried to explain a little more about what movies were, but stopped when he realized he was just confusing his listeners. He added, “Well, anyway, we’ve never really watched the Lord of the Rings movies, not all the way through. Just parts of scenes here and there.”
Jennifer nodded. “We’ve never read the books yet, either. I really don’t know a lot about them. I know that Bilbo Baggins had something to do with dwarfs and dragons. And the other book, with Frodo in it, had something about a ring.”
Kevin nodded. “I do remember once, when I was channel-surfing, seeing a scene with a bunch of the characters walking up a mountain, and one with a bunch of big, ugly, scary guys in black robes on black horses. And another scene with a funny creature of some kind, who talked weird and kept hissing. And maybe a couple of battle scenes. But that’s about all I recall. What the plot is—what the movies are about—I don’t know.” He paused. “But then, I don’t know what the books are about, either.” He shrugged.
“Pictures that move?” said Pippin doubtfully.
“It’s possible,” said Merry. “Uncle Merimac had a book he got from a merchant in Bree. Every page had a picture that was slightly different than the ones before and after; if you flipped the pages very quickly, the pictures seemed to move. His small book just showed a running horse. I think it would be very complicated to show a story that way, but it could be done, I suppose.”
Kevin nodded. “Where we come from, the way it’s done, it can be. It’s a lot more complicated than flipping through pages in a book, though.”
“I’ve seen lots of movies!” Kaylee interrupted, bouncing on her seat and smiling broadly. “My very favorite is The Wizard of Oz, but I love lots of Disney movies, too!”
Kevin smiled. “Yeah, she does. Jennifer, here, has some movies and a portable DVD player in her backpack. We were gonna watch them at the campsite this week.”
“Yeah.” Jennifer grinned. “I also have my own iPhone and a digital camera. We both have our own MP3 players, which we brought with us, and at home, we also have our own CD players and CDs, Kevin and me; you can play music on them. And Kevin has his own tablet.” She paused. “My iPhone and his tablet have some movies stored on them that we might also want to see while we’re on…uh…” She broke off, as it occurred to her that the hobbits might not know what spring break was. Who knew if Middle-earth had schools? Did people here even know how to read? Jennifer noticed that everyone else was looking very confused. Clearly no one had understood anything they were talking about. But then, she really didn’t feel like explaining everything just yet; she was too hungry. At that moment, her stomach rumbled.
“Can we watch a movie after lunch?” Joey asked.
“We’ll see,” Jennifer told him. “We’ll talk about that later. There may not be time today.”
“And besides, we’re gonna have to save our batteries while we’re here,” Kevin added. He smiled at Joey. “There’s no Wal-Mart here to buy new batteries at, Joey, and no way to recharge our batteries or plug in our DVD players here. There’s no electricity, not here.” Joey shrugged.
But Frodo’s mind was still back on what Jennifer had said about the books. It was very disturbing, and he could tell by the look on Uncle Bilbo’s face that he felt the same. “But how would someone from another place know so much about us?” asked Frodo. “Could it have been a wizard or an Elf with foresight who might write such a thing? How else would this man—this Jayarar Tolkien, you called him—know about us, and about Bilbo’s adventure?”
Jennifer laughed. “He wasn’t an elf or a wizard. He was just an ordinary man. A human being like us. All I know is that he made it all up out of his head and wrote it all down as a book. And then it was published and became a bestseller. Both books did.” She glanced at her brothers and sister. “Hobbits don’t exist where we come from; he made them up.” She glanced at Kevin and shook her head violently. “I don’t see how this can be real.”
“Me, neither,” Kevin agreed. Exchanging a glance with Jennifer, he grimaced. “I feel as if we’ve stepped into The Twilight Zone!”
With a snort, Jennifer nodded. “No kidding!” She shook her head. “I mean, how on earth did we wind up in a fairy-tale country? They don’t even exist!”
Arwen had returned in time to hear the latter part of the conversation. Her keen Elven ears had begun to understand the conversation while she was still a considerable distance from the dining room. These were matters best left to her father and Mithrandir. Exchanging a glance with Mairen, she interrupted, “So much talk when there is food on the table?” With a gesture from her, the serving Elves placed extra plates and platters of food upon the table and gave each of the children a goblet of fresh cold water. “Lucy is being fed in the kitchen,” she told the children, who smiled broadly.
“Thank you,” Jennifer said gratefully.
“Who’s Lucy?” Merry asked.
“Lucy’s our puppy,” Kaylee said.
“Nine weeks old,” Kevin added. “She’s a Cocker spaniel.”
Arwen sat down herself on the other side of Sam, and asked Bilbo, “Would you like me to pour the tea, Bilbo?”
He smiled. “Of course, my dear!” He carefully pushed the teapot and the cups her way.
Frowning, Jennifer turned to Kevin. “Uh, Kevin, before we eat, hadn’t we better say Grace?” she asked her older brother.
Kevin nodded. “Yeah, we had better. We know Mom and Dad would want us to.”
As soon as he and Joey, and Jennifer and Kaylee, had taken one another’s hands and bowed their heads, Jennifer looked down at Kaylee. “You can say the blessing, Kaylee.”
Nodding, Kaylee closed her eyes and looked down. In a singsong childish voice, she chanted:
“Thank You for the world so sweet.
Thank You for the food we eat.
Thank You for the birds that sing.
Thank You, God, for everything.”
Letting go of her little sister’s hand, Jennifer smiled at Kaylee and helped her to position her cloth napkin around her neck, tying it behind her neck like a bib. Scanning the open mouths of their companions, she explained, “It’s a custom where we come from, thanking God for the food before we eat. Not everyone follows it, but some people do. Our family does.” Kevin nodded agreement. Looking at the food, Jennifer added, “Uh, speaking of customs, what is the custom here for getting your food? Do we wait for someone to serve us, or do we serve ourselves?”
“You may serve yourselves at elevenses,” Arwen told her. “For some of our daily meals, we have different customs.” Jennifer nodded.
Skilfully, Arwen directed the conversation away from the hobbits’ past and future stories and got the children to ask them questions about life in the Shire. Soon all were chattering away in a friendly manner, though Arwen, Bilbo, and Frodo were careful to keep any mention of Rings and Quests out of the conversation. But she knew from the looks that both of the Baggins cousins kept giving her that there would be questions later. And of course, she needed to tell her father and Mithrandir about these far-flung tales from another land and time. A shame that the children did not know more, but she had no doubt that the Grey Pilgrim would have as much as he could get from them.
Arwen looked at Kaylee. The little girl appeared to have completely forgotten her dread of being separated from her parents, at least for the time being.
“Can I have a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich?” Kaylee begged, looking from Jennifer to Kevin. “And some Kool-Aid? Please?”
Jennifer exchanged an amused glance with Kevin. “I don’t think they have peanut butter or Kool-Aid here, Kaylee,” she said. “We’re probably gonna have to wait till we’re back home before we can have those again. We’ll just have to eat and drink whatever this place has.” Kaylee pouted, and Jennifer and Kevin laughed. The hobbits and Arwen exchanged amused glances.
Kevin pointed to one of the platters the Elves had placed on the table. “Look, Kaylee! Those look kind of good.” He picked up a roll that seemed to have cinnamon on it and put it on his little sister’s plate.
She sniffed. “It does kind of smell good…” She picked off a little bit and took a hesitant bite. Her eyes widened. “It is good!”
Joey, on the other hand, had needed no coaxing; he had already filled his plate with some of the rolls, as well as a few other things on the table, mostly baked goods of one sort or another. He crammed his mouth with part of a roll. “Ish ish eellee good…”
Jennifer gave him a look. “Don’t talk with your mouth full!”
Merry and Frodo looked at Pippin and laughed aloud.
“What?” said Pippin crossly, glaring at his cousins.
“Oh, that just reminded us of someone else when he was that age,” said Merry airily, as he, too, helped himself to more food.
Bilbo raised his eyebrow. “It reminds me of several young hobbits of my acquaintance, and not just Pippin.”
There was general laughter around the table, and the meal continued merrily.
But Arwen still was thinking about what she had overheard, and when Frodo met her eyes, she could tell that he was, as well. She was going to have to speak with her father and Mithrandir when elevenses was over, but first, she needed to see the children back to their quarters. She picked up her roll and took a bite.
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