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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar 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.

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 8: Jolly Holiday

The Last Homely House east of the Sea was, as Bilbo once told the children, "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all"—or, as the children discovered, playing or exploring or reading as well.  Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.  Evil things did not come into that valley.

Rivendell was a place of tranquillity and beauty, and soon some of the anxiety and loneliness were lifted from the children's minds and hearts.  They did not stop missing their parents, but they soon ceased to pine for them, including Kaylee.  Kevin and Jennifer, in particular, continued to miss having modern-day conveniences, but they managed to find the strength to do without them, and to ration their use of the electronic gadgets that they had brought with them in order to save the batteries.  The children soon adapted to their current situation and grew healthy and content for the time being.  Though home always remained in the back of their minds, they found they were not pining for home quite so much.

For Kevin, Jennifer, Joey, and Kaylee, their stay in Rivendell was like one of their annual summer trips, only without their parents.  Arwen took them on a second tour of the Last Homely House, and Master Elrond or one of the other Elves periodically took them out to explore the valley of Rivendell.  The rest of the time, they explored the house on their own and played with the younger hobbits, among themselves, and with Lucy.

Every morning, after Lucy had had her own breakfast, the servants took the puppy down to the kennels for obedience training.  In addition to being housebroken, which was done on a pad and outside in the grass, Lucy gradually learned to sit, to stand, to stay, to lie down, to heel, and to come when called.  However, while she was soon housebroken (for which the children were grateful, as it spared them having to do that nasty job themselves), bringing her to the point where she was otherwise reliable in her response to commands was a slow process.

Kaylee spent a good deal of time on a daily basis playing with the dolls and stuffed animals that Arwen gave her, drawing pictures on the sheets of rag paper that Elrond gave her, and looking at the pictures in her storybooks.  Joey read his comic books, and he played with the toys in his backpack and the toys that Elrond gave him.  Both of the younger children also spent time playing with Lucy; frequently, they went to the kitchen by themselves or with the hobbits to visit the cooks and get something to snack on.

One afternoon, Kaylee was sitting cross-legged on the terrace, playing with Lucy.  As always, when feeling playful, the puppy growled and scampered about, crouching and chewing on Kaylee's fingers as she wiggled her hand about in Lucy's mouth.  The little girl giggled.

"Well, that looks like fun!" a now-familiar voice said above her.

Raising her head, Kaylee saw Gandalf standing over her.  "Hi, Mr. Gandalf!"  She smiled broadly and waved at him.  Chuckling, the wizard crouched next to her on the terrace, laying down his staff, and removing his bluish-grey pointed hat to set on the terrace next to it.

"And what are you and Miss Lucy doing?" Gandalf asked, his eyes twinkling.

"Playing!"  Kaylee giggled as Lucy ran toward the edge of the terrace and then back towards her, yipping.  "Lucy likes to play!"

Gandalf laughed.  "Yes, I can see that."  The puppy scampered up to him, and Gandalf lifted her up and rubbed her head.  Wagging her tail, Lucy licked his beard and then began to chew on his fingers.  "Still teething, I see, Miss Lucy," the wizard said in mock-sternness.  Lucy thumped her tail against his chest, and Kaylee grinned.

"She likes you," she announced.

With a chuckle, Gandalf set the puppy on the terrace.  "The feeling is mutual.  Lucy is a sweet puppy."  He re-positioned his legs and looked at Kaylee.  "Where are your brothers and sister, Miss Kaylee?"  He scanned the terrace as he spoke.

"Inside."  Kaylee shrugged.  "I wanted to go out and play."  She looked up at the elf-nursemaid who was sitting on a step nearby.  "Miss Mairen's with me."

Nodding toward Mairen, Gandalf agreed, "Yes, I see that she is."  Mairen smiled at them both.

"Hey, Mr. Gandalf, guess what?"  Kaylee bounced, smiling broadly.  "Mommy and Daddy's gonna take us to Disneyland this summer!"

"Are they, really?"  Gandalf tilted his head.  "And what is Disneyland, Miss Kaylee?"

"A theme park.  We've been there before.  We'll get to see Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Disney princesses and the Seven Dwarfs!"  Kaylee beamed at the prospect.  "And go on the rides and everything!"

Gandalf chuckled.  He hadn't the least idea of what she was talking about, but whatever this Disneyland was, it was clear that Kaylee and probably her siblings enjoyed going there.  "And what are you going to do before then, when you go home?"

Kaylee shrugged.  "Don't know.  School's gotta be out for the summer first."  She looked at Gandalf.  "I'm in pre-K.  We get to play games and draw and colour and learn stuff, and Miss Jackson reads to us."

"We?"

Kaylee nodded.  "The other kids and me. In my class."

"And who is Miss Jackson?"

"She's my teacher."  She smiled.  "And guess what?  I can write my own name, and my ABCs!  I can say them, too!  And I can count to ten!"

Gandalf nodded with a half-shrug.  He wished he had more understanding of the things the children spoke of.  It was disturbing to imagine a world so foreign to his knowledge; sometimes he felt that there might be something important in the child's prattle that he might miss because he did not know what she was talking about.  On the other hand, there was always something delightful to be found in any child's innocent prattle.  If nothing else, it made him smile.  "So are there many other children in your class?"  He had learned early on that the children of this family used the word for baby goats to describe other children—very odd.

Kaylee nodded.  "We have ten, six girls and four boys.  Most of them are nice, but sometimes Mikey—that's one of the boys—he gets mad, and then he's mean."  She scowled.  "Miss Jackson makes him stand in the corner.  She says it's 'time out'."

"And does that work?" he said with an ill-concealed smile.

Kaylee shrugged.  "Well, I guess so.  He's usually over being mad and says 'sorry' when she lets him come out."  Lucy ran toward her, and the little girl picked her up.

Just then they heard Jennifer calling, "Kaylee!  It's time to come in and get ready for dinner!"  She came out onto the terrace, and Mairen rose from her seat on the bench, taking Lucy from the little girl.  Kaylee turned back to wave at Gandalf, who smiled and waved back, and then Mairen and Jennifer escorted the little girl indoors.

Gandalf remained on the bench and took out his pipe thoughtfully.

-oo000oo-

Once a day, Jennifer spent some time practicing her baton moves with a tree branch that she had found on one of their exploring expeditions; she also spent some time every day reading the teenage novels that she had brought with her to read on the camping trip, until she had finished them all.  As often as they dared, she and Kevin also took pictures and videos of their surroundings and of their new companions with her digital camera and his tablet.  They fully intended to show the photos and videos to their parents when they returned to their own world.  It would be their proof that they were telling the truth.  In addition, in her bedroom, Jennifer read the books that she had brought with her.  After she had finished Little Women, she read, in gulps, The Legend of the King.  She also spent some time daily reading her teen study Bible.

One day, Jennifer was marching up and down the path, twirling her tree branch, flipping it in the air and catching it as she had been taught.  Over and over again, she did just that, and in between, she twirled it in her right hand.

"What are you doing?"

Startled, Jennifer froze, just managing to catch her branch before it slipped out of her hand.  Whirling toward her right, she saw Merry and Pippin standing in front of the other hobbits.

"Uh, h—hi," she said.  "I was just practicing.  You startled me."

Merry smiled sheepishly as he and the other hobbits approached her.  "I'm sorry," he said.  "We have never seen that before."

Jennifer shrugged.  "No, I guess you haven't.  Middle-earth doesn't have any marching bands or majorettes, does it?"

"No, it doesn't," Frodo said.

The young girl smiled.  "I've been twirling batons ever since I was little.  I was just seven when I first started learning.  When a band marches in a parade, it's our job as majorettes to perform with the batons.  Sometimes, during the parade, the procession stops, and then we do a dance routine with our batons.  We do that during halftime at sports events, too."

Without warning, Jennifer spun in a circle and then, facing the hobbits, she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, moving her arms from side to side, and she twirled her tree branch as she did so.  The hobbits clapped when she ended her dance routine to face them, arms at her sides, smiling broadly, with her branch dangling from her right hand.  Then she blushed as she realized that just beyond the hobbits, several Elves were also watching and had applauded, Lady Arwen among them.

-oo000oo-

Kevin turned on his tablet's touch screen.  After it had finished booting up, he tapped on the gallery icon, and a list of photos came up.  Jennifer looked over his shoulder as he tapped a folder that he had created a week after their arrival in Middle-earth.

"Look at that!"  He grinned, and Jennifer laughed.  With his tablet, Kevin had secretly taken a picture of the hobbits a few minutes before, while they had been gathered around, chatting.  Jennifer looked at the hobbits themselves, who were sitting on the other end of the terrace, chatting, and then exchanged a look with her brother, who nodded.

"Come here, Frodo!  Everyone!"  Jennifer gestured toward the hobbits.  "Kevin and I want to show you something."

The hobbits approached them, and Kevin held out his tablet.  All of them gaped at the photograph.  It had captured their images so perfectly!  "That's an eye-opener, and no mistake."  Sam shook his head, awe-stricken.

"How can this be?" Frodo asked, open-mouthed.

Jennifer blushed.  "To be honest, I know how to work it, but I don't really know how it works!"  She added, "But there are some people who do; they're the experts."

Kevin nodded agreement.  "That's true.  We have a lot of things that we don't know how they work, even though we do know how to use them.  But we're gonna take this picture home, along with all the others we've been taking here."

Glancing down at his tablet, he added, "I need to go over this tablet, Jennifer, before I take any more pictures.  The pictures I've got on it are taking up too much memory.  Some of them, I'm going to have to delete."

"All right."  Jennifer nodded, and Kevin stood up to go to his room.

A short time later, Kevin was in his own room sitting on his bed, doing just that, when he heard a tap on his door.

"Hey, Kev!  It's me; can I come in?"

It was Joey's voice.  "Sure, Joey!"

Joey found Kevin in his room lying on his bed, looking at his tablet.  For the past fifteen minutes, he'd been going through his pictures, trying to decide which to keep and which to delete, since he didn't want to use up too much of its memory.  And the more he kept stored on it, the easier it would be to use up the battery, too.  But it could wait.  "Hey, Kevin!  Look what I found!  Eledhwen said it used to belong to a boy who used to live here when he was little—not an Elf, but a human like us; I don't remember his name.  She said we could have it!"

With a broad smile, Joey held up a leather ball. It was round, and slightly smaller than a soccer ball.  Kevin examined it carefully.  Neither of them would be able to bounce it, he knew, but they could throw and kick it if they wanted to.  "Could we go outside and kick it around a little?" Joey asked hopefully.  "Maybe throw it back and forth?"

Kevin laid down his tablet and propped himself on his elbows to think about his little brother's request.  It would probably be a good idea to stop for a little while and play with him.  Joey didn't have too many people to play with, after all.  They were the only children here, and though the hobbits, especially Merry and Pippin, would play with him almost like kids sometimes, he knew they were actually grown-ups or, in Pippin's case, almost grown-up.

He sat up and reached over to ruffle Joey's hair.  "Sure, bro!  Let's go down to that little field near the stable."  He shut his tablet off and rose from the bed.

Joey grinned.  "All right!" He sped ahead, as Kevin got up to hurry after him.

The field was a wide meadow, sometimes used for grazing for the horses, but it was currently lying fallow.  It was a perfect spot for practicing dribbling and passing, and Kevin was enjoying it a lot.  He'd been about Joey's age when he had decided to give up soccer and football, and to concentrate on basketball.  Joey himself had decided to concentrate on baseball after this year, but both of them had enjoyed playing soccer and football¹ when they were little.  Their mom had always thought that soccer and basketball were both safer for kids than football.  They began to practice throwing and kicking the leather ball around the field.

They'd been at it about twenty minutes when they heard a hobbit voice shout, "Kick-the-ball!"  It was all four of the younger hobbits.  They showed Kevin and Joey the rules of what they called "kick-the-ball", which was almost like softball, except that it was played without a bat; they kicked the ball instead.  It was also somewhat similar to British cricket, since the pitcher more or less bowled the ball instead of throwing it.

They divided into teams of three: Kevin, Frodo, and Sam against Joey, Merry, and Pippin.  The two boys were amazed at how accurate all of the hobbits were at both kicking and pitching.  Finally, after the two teams had tied twice, they all fell back into the grass for a breather.

They talked for a while.  The hobbits talked of the various sports they played in the Shire.  Kevin and Joey explained the rules of football, basketball, soccer, and baseball, and the hobbits talked about roopie, nine-pin, and conkers².  The hobbits were surprised to learn that golf was played in the children's land, even though Joey said it was a "boring old people's game."

The afternoon had drawn on pleasantly, and Merry was trying to talk them into playing a tiebreaker, since he was used to winning when he played.  But then Pippin's stomach began to rumble and so did Joey's, and so they decided that going back for tea was a better idea.

-oo000oo-

Every night at bedtime, Jennifer read a story to Kaylee.  After she had finished reading to her little sister The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she commenced reading to Kaylee at bedtime the storybooks that she had stored in her backpack for their camping trip, sometimes two or three stories a night.  She also occasionally read the stories aloud to her little sister during the day.

One day, Jennifer sat down on the bench with Bilbo on one side and Kaylee on the other, as she took out The Big Book of Fairytales that Kaylee had brought to her just minutes before.  Among other stories, it contained Charles Perrault's classic tale of Cinderella, beautifully illustrated.  "This is a very old story from our...uh, land—a fairy tale," she told the old hobbit as she opened it.  "It's one of the best-known tales of its kind."  Bilbo nodded, and she began to read it aloud to him and Kaylee.

"Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen.  She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things.  He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.

"No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepmother began to show herself in her true colors.  She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl, and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious.  She employed her in the meanest work of the house.  She scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and cleaned madam's chamber, and those of misses, her daughters.  She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length from head to foot.

"The poor girl bore it all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have scolded her; for his wife governed him entirely.  When she had done her work, she used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused her to be called Cinderwench.  Only the younger sister, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called her Cinderella.  However, Cinderella, notwithstanding her coarse apparel, was a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters, although they were always dressed very richly.

"It happened that the king's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it.  Our young misses were also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among those of quality.  They were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in selecting the gowns, petticoats, and hair dressing that would best become them.  This was a new difficulty for Cinderella; for it was she who ironed her sister's linen and pleated their ruffles.  They talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed…"*

Bilbo was very attentive, his eyes wide at the magnificent and brilliantly-coloured pictures.  He could discern no brush-marks on the page.  And the words were the most even that he had ever seen; not even Elves could write so perfectly.  He did not recognize any of the letters, but he could not tell how they had been put upon the page.  Perhaps they had used some sort of printing process—but the woodblock printing they used in the Shire was never quite this perfect, either.  Still, as fascinated as he was with the book itself, he did not want to interrupt Jennifer's reading.  He'd ask his questions later.

He felt movement behind him. Jennifer had not noticed, but she was beginning to acquire a larger audience.  Pippin and Frodo stood directly behind him, and he could see Merry and Sam behind Jennifer and Kaylee.  Some of the Elves were beginning to drift their way as well, even more silent than hobbits.  They were attracted by the story, which was new to them.

Jennifer kept on reading, totally unaware of her listeners, and Kaylee grinned each time her sister turned the page—the story was clearly not new to her, as she would occasionally quote some of the words as Jennifer spoke them.

Jennifer finally came to the last page of writing, although next to it was a large illustration of what was clearly a royal wedding.  "...her two sisters found her to be that fine, beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball.  They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo.  Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and wanted them always to love her.

"She was taken to the young prince, dressed as she was.  He thought she was more charming than before, and, a few days after, married her.  Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the court." ³

Jennifer jumped in startlement at the sudden sound of clapping hands, and blushed as she looked around and saw everyone standing around behind her!

Before she could say anything else, Pippin leaned over Bilbo's shoulder and looked at her.  "What's a fairy godmother?”

-oo000oo-

...Exhilaration!  That's what Jennifer felt.  She was at the top of a giant roller coaster, ready for the downhill.  She stood and opened her arms wide, as—swoop! down she went.  She was as steady as a rock, although there were loops and swirls, and even one turn that went nearly upside down.  Her breath caught, not fear, but thrill.  She glanced down and saw there were miles to go to the bottom; she could not even see the ground, for she saw only clouds and mist below her.  It was like flying! If she wanted to, she knew she could simply launch herself forward.

Jennifer sat up suddenly and gave a little shake of her head as she realized she had only been dreaming.  She loved that particular dream.  She swung her legs out and put her feet on the floor.  She needed to use the convenient chamber pot located beneath her bed.  She stood up and padded over to close the door between her room and the room where Joey and Kaylee slept; then she pulled out the porcelain pot and used it to empty her bladder.  But her middle still felt full and a little sore.

Oh, dear!  She had nearly forgotten.  Biting her lower lip and shoving the chamber pot back beneath the bed, she laid back down and began to count the days backwards as well as she could recall.  They'd been in Rivendell over three weeks now.

She sighed as she snuggled back up in her blankets.  What could she do?  They were only supposed to be camping for a week, so she had not brought any of her usual supplies.  But now she knew the signs: she'd probably start some time tomorrow, or maybe in the middle of the night tonight.  Embarrassing as it was, she would need to ask someone what to do.

After breakfast the next morning, she slipped away from her brothers and sisters, and went to look for Lady Arwen.  She found her in the kitchen, discussing the evening's feast with the head cook.  As soon as Arwen had finished her conversation, Jennifer went up to her.

"Lady Arwen?  Are you too busy now?  I need to ask you about something."

"Of course, Lady Jennifer.  What is it?  Is there a problem?"

Jennifer felt herself blushing.  "Um...well, it's personal."

Arwen nodded.  "Ah!  Well, then follow me."

Jennifer followed Arwen to her solarium.  A maidservant was tidying and dusting, but Arwen dismissed her, and she gestured for Jennifer to be seated as she herself sat down in her own favourite chair.  Jennifer chose a chair across from her hostess.

Arwen leaned forward.  "Now, my child, tell me what troubles you."

"I, well..."  Jennifer stopped for a second, and then just blurted out, "It'stimeformyperiodandIdon'thavemysupplies."  She said it all at once, without taking a breath.

For just an instant, the Lady Arwen looked puzzled, and then the light dawned.  "I see.  Do not be discomfited, Jennifer.  This is a simple enough problem to solve.  Although Elf-women do not have female blood flow so often as the Edain, we are not completely immune.  And of course, we have often had women of the Dúnedain among us who needed to deal with their moon cycle."

Jennifer let out a huge sigh of relief.  Thank goodness Lady Arwen understands, she thought.

"Since you say that your time is close, we cannot stop it.  But I will provide you with strips of cloth that you can use for this time.  When they are soiled, simply put them in the buckets in the water closet provided for soiled rags, and they will be dealt with."

Jennifer nodded.  She had used pads when she had first started, so this probably would be similar.  She much preferred tampons, though.  But she was interested in one of the Lady's earlier statements.  "Thank you!  But what did you mean, 'stop it'?"

"We have a mixture of herbs that can be taken as a tea.  It is called dárithil*, and the main herb used in it is ithildin.  You must begin taking it about two days after this moonflow ceases and continue until the Moon is full.  Once the Moon begins again to wane, you must start taking it again.  I will provide you with a generous supply that should last you for many months."

"Oh, Lady Arwen, that would be wonderful!"  Jennifer smiled broadly.  Just think, no more periods after the one coming up, as long as they were in Middle-earth!

-oo000oo-

Every evening, the children spent some time together in Kevin's room as they always did in the living room at home with their parents, praying and singing hymns, praise music, and gospel songs, and Kevin would read aloud from his teen study Bible to his siblings as Jennifer read along in hers.  Every week, as they were required to do at home, they all memorized Bible verses, a separate verse per child, and they recited them to one another on Sunday mornings.  At mealtimes, Kaylee continued to ask the blessing before they ate.

"We need to talk, guys," Kevin told his siblings one morning after breakfast, as soon as they had entered his guest room.

"What about?" Jennifer asked.  Joey and Kaylee looked up at their older brother.  Lucy lay cuddled in Jennifer's arms.

"Well…"  Kevin perched on the edge of his bed.  "Remember when we first realized that we were gonna have start praying more ourselves, because our parents aren't here to help us pray?"

"Yeah," Joey mumbled.  Kaylee said nothing.

"And we've been praying and reading my Bible and Jennifer's quite a bit since then.  All of us.  Not just by ourselves, but together as well, every day.  And we've each been memorizing a Bible verse a week," Kevin went on.  "I don't know about you all, but I've been hearing God's still small voice in my spirit more and more ever since we came here."  Kevin cleared his throat.  He looked at Jennifer, who nodded agreement.

"Lately, I've been getting this feeling in my heart—my spirit—that He wants us to really start memorizing Bible verses.  Not just one verse a week, as we've always had to, or a verse a day for schoolwork, but as many as we can memorize.  A crash course of Bible verses."

Jennifer winced.  While she memorized verses because her parents and her teachers at their Christian school told her to, she had never enjoyed the task.  She set Lucy down on the floor.  "Uh, God wants us to do what?!"

Kevin touched her hand.  "I know."  He smiled grimly.  "I don't want to, either.  And I know Joey and Kaylee don't.  But this is what I'm feeling God's telling us."

Sighing, Jennifer lowered her head.  "Please, God," she complained, "do we have to do this?"  Immediately, her whole body stilled, and she remained motionless for the next few minutes.

At last, with a sigh, she muttered, "Yes, Father," and raised her head.  A resigned expression had replaced the resentment on her face.  "He's telling me the same thing."

Jennifer looked at Kaylee and then at Joey, both of whom gaped up at her with horrified expressions.  "Sorry, Kaylee, Joey.  I know you don't want to—I don't, either; none of us do—but we all have to do this.  If Mom and Daddy were here, we'd have to do as they told us, don't forget, even if we didn't like it.  Well, we also have to do as God tells us.  He's our Heavenly Father, remember."  She turned to Kevin.  "But how will we know what Bible verses we're supposed to memorize?  We don't even know what God has sent us here to do!"

Nodding, Kevin glanced at the ceiling.  "Yes, God.  How are we supposed to know?  Please tell us!"  His body suddenly stilled, and he lowered his head.  A few minutes later, he looked up at his brother and sisters.  "He'll tell us," he said.  "He'll tell us what verses to memorize, starting out, and when He's ready, I know He'll tell us what job He's sent us here to do.  In fact, I think I already know which verses for us to start on."  He looked at Kaylee.  "Since you haven't learned to read yet, Kaylee, one of us will read them to you over and over, and you'll have to keep repeating them back until you know them by heart.  The rest of us will read them for ourselves.  Jen, can I borrow your notebook so I can write the verses down for each of us?"

"OK."  Jennifer left the room, and returned a few minutes later with her spiral notebook, a pencil, a pocket pencil sharpener, and her teen study Bible.  Kevin removed his own teen study Bible from his backpack and then scanned his siblings' faces.  "If any of you feel a need to memorize a particular verse, tell me."  He looked at Jennifer.  "Since you brought your own Bible, you can use yours to memorize with.  I'll use mine to write down Joey and Kaylee's verses so they can practice theirs."  Jennifer nodded.

"But why?" Joey complained.  "Why now?  We've never had to memorize so many Bible verses before!"

Kevin glanced down at his Bible for a moment, then turned his gaze to Joey.  "I think," he said slowly, "it's because of the reason God has called us here.  He has a job for us to do here; I'm sure of it."  Jennifer nodded agreement.  "I'm thinking He wants us to know by heart as much of His Word as we can, so we'll be well-equipped to do that job."

"Yeah," Jennifer said slowly.  "I think you're right, Kevin.  After all, we don't yet know what God's called us here to do, or what we're going to face while we're doing it.  I get the feeling that it's something pretty serious, though, or God wouldn't be calling us to prepare this way."  She turned to Joey and Kaylee.  "We'd better get started, then."  Kevin nodded agreement, and Joey and Kaylee exchanged pouts.

-oo000oo-

Joey wandered around, muttering the Scripture passage that Kevin had assigned him that morning, memorizing it verse by verse.

"'Listen to your father, who gave you life,'" he muttered, "'and do not despise your mother when she is…'"  He paused and held up the piece of paper to refresh his memory.  "'…when she is old'!"  He shook his head.  "'Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.'"

Joey paused, and then examined the passage from the Book of Proverbs.  He read aloud, "'Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well.'" Looking up and dropping the paper to his side, he repeated, "'Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as—'"  He paused.  "'—as well.'"

He cleared his throat, and then started over, repeating them until he could say the words all the way through.  Then he held the paper up again and read the next verse aloud.  "'The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.'"

Joey continued with the rest of the verses on the paper, until he thought knew them all.  Finally, he paused a moment to catch his breath, and then started to recite the whole passage over.  "'Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well. The father of a righteous man has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.'"  He paused.  "'May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful.'  Proverbs twenty-three, verses twenty-two to twenty-five."

He blew out a deep breath, and took one in again, and then with his eyes closed, Joey recited the entire passage again, ending with the Scripture reference, and then yet again.  As soon as he had finished the passage that time, clapping from behind him startled him.  Whirling around, he saw Glorfindel and Lindir standing in the doorway, smiling down at him.

"Uh, hi, Lord Glorfindel.  Hi, Master Lindir," the child said sheepishly.

"Hello, Master Joey.  You have been quite busy, I see," Glorfindel said.

"You certainly have been," Lindir agreed.

"Yeah, well, Kevin told me to memorize this passage." Joey held up the piece of paper.

Glorfindel exchanged a glance with Lindir, and then nodded approval.  "Your brother did well to assign it to you.  Those are wise words you have just memorized, and you will do well to remember them and abide by them.  Well done."

Joey smiled.  "Yes, sir.  Thanks."

-oo000oo-

Elrond found himself angrily pacing the terrace.  He had to admit that he was as close to anger as he had been in a long time.  He was reluctant enough to allow the younger hobbits to accompany the mission; to allow young children to go was sheer folly!

There had been no question of it: they were not of this world, and they were too young for the peril of such a desperate journey.  He was fuming as he took his seat on the terrace, near Gandalf.  There was no way he could, in good conscience, allow this!

And yet, last night, the Lady Galadriel had bespoken him mind-to-mind, telling him that it was necessary that the older children must go.  "Each of the four children has a part to play; it is why they were sent here.  The little one must stay in Rivendell, for it is there she shall play her part.  But the older three must join the Company."

With a sigh, Elrond sat down.  For a few moments, as Gandalf sat silently near him, Elrond was deep in thought over his mother-in-law's revelation.  She had been quite firm; in all the things she had seen in her Mirror, the three older McCloud children had been in the company of those who were going on the Quest.

Elrond jumped as he felt tiny teeth digging into his big toe.  If he had not been so distracted, he would have noticed the puppy approaching him.  Looking down at his feet, he saw Lucy crouched in front of his foot, her front paws on the floor and her rear in the air, gnawing on his toe and growling playfully.  As he raised his head, he noticed that the McCloud children had followed the puppy onto the terrace.

"That is enough, Lucy.  My feet are not for chewing," he told the puppy with a mixture of amusement and exasperation, as he jerked both feet back.  He pointed a slender finger at the pup.  "Sit," he commanded.  He was glad when she complied; the kennel-master had made progress with the spoiled little animal, then.  "Good dog," he praised her in his warmest voice.  Bending over, Elrond patted her on the head, and she wagged her tail.  With the ends of his mouth quirked upward, Elrond held his index finger in front of Lucy's mouth, and allowed the puppy to begin chewing on it while thumping her tail against the flagged terrace.

Kaylee and Joey giggled at the sight, and Kevin, Jennifer, and Gandalf all laughed.  "Lucy wants to play with you!" Kaylee said, smiling broadly.

Elrond chuckled.  "Yes, I can see that.  Unfortunately, Miss Kaylee, I do not have time to play with Lucy right now."

"You'll have to excuse Lucy, Master Elrond," Jennifer said.  "She's teething.”

"Yes, she is, and while that is happening, she will be gnawing on everything she can get her little teeth on."  Elrond handed the wiggling puppy to Jennifer.  "Take her off this terrace, if you would, children.  Take her down to the stables and see if the grooms can give you an old scrap of leather for her to chew on.  Gandalf and I have things to discuss."

"Yes, sir."  Grinning, Kevin gestured to his siblings and led the way off of the terrace.  Gandalf chuckled, and Elrond shook his head in amusement.

As soon as Elrond was certain that the children were well out of earshot, he turned to Mithrandir.  "I had a communication from the Lady Galadriel last night.  She sought me out with osanwë and informed me that the three older children must go with the company when it leaves Rivendell.  She says they have some part to play in the events to come."  He allowed his anger at the news to show.  They were only children, after all!

He expected Mithrandir to share his consternation.  After all, it would fall to the Istar to be responsible for them if they went on what was sure to be a gruelling and perilous journey.  He was shocked when the wizard nodded.

"I must agree with the Lady of the Golden Wood.  It has been growing on my heart, in the days since you and I first discussed it, that the coming of these young ones at this time is not mere chance, if chance you call it."

Elrond shook his head.  Part of him wanted to argue with his mother-in-law and with Mithrandir.  But he knew from experience that while he could always argue with the wizard, it would be fruitless to argue with her.  Yes, they had agreed during their previous discussion that Eru may well have sent these children here for a purpose, but even so…  He shook his head again.

"Very well, though it leaves me with foreboding.  This is a dangerous journey.  There is no way to promise their safety."  Elrond sighed heavily.

"No, there is not.  There will be no safety for them, or any of us who journey South.  And yet there will be no safety anywhere in Middle-earth either, if Sauron has his way.  We do not even know when or if these young ones will be returned to their world.  My heart tells me they will be needed in some way before the end."

"I shall worry, nonetheless, old friend," said the Elf-lord.  "And not the least for you.  But my heart is somewhat comforted in knowing you will be with them."

Gandalf nodded.  "I shall take my leave now.  I would speak with your daughter about the well-being of the youngest child.  I fear she will not take well to being left behind."

Elrond nodded agreement.  "I fear you are right, Gandalf."  With an answering nod of his own, the wizard left the terrace.

The Master of Imladris leaned over the terrace wall, surveying his domain, and feeling not much mollified at all.  Even if he had to make the best of it and allow Kevin, Jennifer, and Joey to go, nothing would make him like it.  And Kaylee, he was sure, would like it even less.

-oo000oo-

1. Since the McCloud children are American, "soccer" refers to what the rest of the world calls "football", and "football" here in this context refers to American football.

2. "Roopie" is a hobbit ballgame that has found its way into fanon, but was originally created by the incomparable Baylor.  Nine-pin is a historical predecessor of modern bowling and is mentioned in The Hobbit as a sport played in the Shire, along with quoits.  Conkers is a traditional game played in the UK, and is "played using the seeds of horse chestnut trees—the name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself.  The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other's conker until one breaks. (Wikipedia)".  This game has also found its way into hobbit-fic fanon in a number of stories, and Bilbo admits having some skill in the game in the 2012 Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

3. This version of Cinderella comes from Andrew Lang's translation of the classic French fairy tale, as told by Charles Perrault, and is in the public domain.

*The name dárithil is courtesy of the Web site, http://funtranslations.com/elvish, Fun Translations, and means basically "stop moon".  Ithildin is a canonical flower, but its use in this case is simply made up for the story.






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