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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 Ringsbelongs 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 51: Share This Day

It was a beautiful morning, but Kevin certainly was not enjoying it right at the moment.  He looked enviously out the window of the ward, where blue skies beckoned.  After all the gloomy overcast of the last several days, he longed to be out there.  He knew that Jennifer and Joey were waiting for him.  They were going to have a picnic with Legolas, Gimli, and the hobbits.

"I will not stay here, tucked into blankets like a baby!" Haleth exclaimed.

"But they haven't released you yet," argued Kevin, feeling like he was repeating this conversation for the umpteenth time.  "You cracked your head pretty bad yesterday.  They need to make sure it's not serious."

"I am a warrior, not a sick old man.  I can take a crack on the head!"  Haleth pouted, and Kevin sighed.  Nope, his friend was not a sick old man; he was a cranky toddler!  But he knew better than to say it aloud.  And truthfully, he'd heard a few others on the ward trying out similar arguments, who were plenty older than Haleth and had a lot less excuse.

Just then a stern-looking nurse—Kevin remembered her from the night before (Dame Ioreth, is it? he wondered)—came over.

She looked sternly at Haleth, both hands on her hips.  "Young man, you will go nowhere just yet.  You will rest until the healer comes, and you may try your arguments on him."  She turned to Kevin.  "You have been very patient with your friend, but so long as you are here, he will only argue rather than rest.  Shoo yourself out of here, and go and seek some sunshine and fresh air.  Are you not young Joey's brother?  Go and talk to  him!"

Kevin turned and gave his friend one last look and decided to do just as she said.  Grinning, Kevin raised his hands.  “Yes, ma’am!”  He turned again toward Haleth.  "I’ll see you later, Haleth."

Haleth sighed and gave a half-hearted wave of his hand.  He was still sulking.

Kevin went out into the hall and found Jennifer and Joey and Pippin waiting for him.  The four of them went up to the other ward, where they found Merry, who was ready to get up and wander around.  They collected him and went out into the garden of the Houses of Healing.  No sooner had they arrived there, than they saw Legolas and Gimli approaching them.

Together the friends walked awhile, just talking of trivial things, but Merry soon got tired, and Jennifer suggested they sit on a nearby wall; it looked to the south and onto the wide flats and green haze of Lebennin and South Ithilien.

And now Legolas fell silent, while the others talked, and he looked out against the sun, and as he gazed he saw white sea-birds beating up the River.

"Look!" he cried.  "Gulls!  They are flying far inland.  A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart.  Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships.  Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea.  The Sea!  Alas!  I have not yet beheld it.  But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir.  Alas! for the gulls.  No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm."

"Say not so!" said Gimli.  "There are countless things still to see in Middle-earth, and great works to do.  But if all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay."

Kevin looked confused, but Jennifer shook her head sadly.  "Oh, Legolas I hope not!" she said.

Merry and Pippin were quick to add their objections to the idea of Legolas sailing, but Kevin was still confused.  "Sail?"  He looked from Legolas to Gimli to the hobbits, still confused.  "Sail where?"

Legolas looked at Kevin, pain in his young/old eyes.  "To Valinor," he said softly, "where, eventually, all my people will sail, never to return to Middle-earth."

"Oh."  Kevin glanced over at Jennifer, who was giving him her 'I'll-tell-you-later' look, so he dropped the subject.

"Let's not dwell on things like that," she said.

"I agree; don't be so gloomy!" cried Pippin.  "The Sun is shining, and here we are together for a day or two at least.  I want to hear more about you all.  Come, Gimli!  You and Legolas and Jennifer have mentioned your strange journey with Strider about a dozen times already this morning.  But you haven't told me anything about it."

"The Sun may shine here," said Gimli, "but there are memories of that road that I do not wish to recall out of the darkness.  Had I known what was before me, I think that not for any friendship would I have taken the Paths of the Dead."

"The Paths of the Dead?" said Pippin.  "I heard Aragorn say that and I wondered what he could mean.  Won't you tell us some more?"

"Not willingly," said Gimli.  "For upon that road I was put to shame: Gimli Glóin's son, who had deemed himself more tough than Men, and hardier under earth than any Elf.  But neither did I prove; and I was held to the road only by the will of Aragorn."

“And by the love of him also,” said Legolas.  “For all those who come to know him come to love him after his own fashion, even the cold maiden of the Rohirrim.  It was at early morn of the day ere you came there, Merry, that we left Dunharrow, and such a fear was on all the folk that none would look on our going, save the Lady Éowyn, who lies now hurt in the House below.  There was grief at that parting, and I was grieved to behold it.”

“Alas!  I had heart only for myself,” said Gimli.  “Nay!  I will not speak of that journey.”

And so, it was left to Legolas, with occasional additions by Jennifer, to tell them of the haunted road under the mountains, and the dark tryst at Erech, and the great ride thence, ninety leagues and three, to Pelargir on Anduin.  "Four days and nights, and on into a fifth, we rode from the Black Stone," he said.  "And lo!  in the darkness of Mordor my hope rose; for in that gloom the Shadow Host seemed to grow stronger and more terrible to look upon.  Some I saw riding, some striding, yet all moving with the same great speed.  Silent they were, but there was a gleam in their eyes.  In the uplands of Lamedon they overtook our horses, and swept round us, and would have passed us by, if Aragorn had not forbidden them."

They went on to tell of capturing the ships at Pelargir.  Kevin looked at Jennifer, eyes wide, when Gimli said they had come on a big battle, but she shook her head.  "I wasn't in on that, Kevin.  Elladan put me someplace safe to wait it out.  I was just really shot from the long ride, and I don't think I could even have drawn a bow at that point."  Kevin nodded, relieved.

Gimli continued the story of the battle and how the Host of the Dead had come and swept over the enemy, terrifying them into fleeing, as though they had all gone mad.

"Strange indeed," said Legolas. "In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself.  Not for naught does Mordor fear him.  But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien?  Never shall that line fail, though the years may lengthen beyond count."

"Beyond the eyes of the Dwarves are such foretellings," said Gimli.  "But mighty indeed was Aragorn that day.  Lo!  all the black fleet was in his hands; and he chose the greatest ship to be his own, and he went up into it.  Then he let sound a great concourse of trumpets taken from the enemy; and the Shadow Host withdrew to the shore.  There they stood silent, hardly to be seen, save for a red gleam in their eyes that caught the glare of the ships that were burning.  And Aragorn spoke in a loud voice to the Dead Men, crying:

'"Hear now the words of the Heir of Isildur!  Your oath is fulfilled.  Go back and trouble not the valleys ever again!  Depart and be at rest!”

The story continued, and Jennifer said, "I didn't see much of any of that part.  While the freed slaves were helping to get the ships ready, I got to stay at an inn with a nice old lady, and get some rest."  She smiled.  "She was very motherly, and she took good care of me."

The story continued of how they had sailed up the Anduin until they had reached the Pelennor Fields, and then Jennifer spoke up, looking at Legolas and Gimli.  "I'm still mad at you!"

The Elf and Dwarf looked at each other, puzzled, and then at Jennifer.  "You guys just rode off to battle and left me asleep on the ship!  I had to get my own self off to the battlefield!"

Kevin really was horrified now.  He knew how awful the battle had been for him—he sure didn't want his sister to have to deal with that!

"It had mostly passed on by," she added, correctly interpreting her brother's expression.  "But I managed to get one of the horses and get off—and a good thing too, for Halbarad!  I was able to find him and get him back to the ship."  She shook her head.  "An orc had tried to kill him with an arrow.  If it hadn't been for Kaylee, he would have died."

"Kaylee?"  Kevin furrowed his brow in puzzlement.

Jennifer grinned.  "I didn't think to tell you this, but Kaylee gave Halbarad a present.  Remember the little rock she brought from home?"  Kevin nodded.  "Well, she made him a pouch and put the rock in it, and then she gave it to him before he left Rivendell.  I heard him tell Aragorn, when we were riding to Dunharrow after Gandalf and Boromir took Joey and Pippin away.  He was wearing it when we arrived at that battle on the Pelannor, and when an orc tried to shoot him, its arrow bounced right off of it!  It saved his life."

Joey frowned.  "Kaylee gave him that rock?"

Jennifer laughed.  "She sure did, Joey, and good thing, too!  `Cause he'd be dead now, otherwise.  I mean to tell her how her present saved his life when we see her again."

They talked together for quite a while longer, as Jennifer told her part in the tale, and Joey and Pippin explained what they had done during the siege.  They talked until Pippin said they had already missed second breakfast and elevenses, but if they'd stay put, he and Joey would go fetch the lunch that Pippin had requested for all of them from the kitchens.

It wasn't very long before the two returned, with two laden baskets.

"Nothing but water for drink," said Pippin.  "I filled both our skins full up, and we can share.  But we've got food enough for us all."

"Uh-huh," Joey added.  "There's some bread and cheese and apples.  And there's some kind of spicy sausage we can share, and some pickles, too."

Jennifer made a face.  She wasn't terribly fond of spicy food.  "I'm fine with bread and cheese and an apple."

They all ate until the food was gone, and then it was agreed that Merry was getting too tired, and needed to go back to the Houses of Healing.

The friends had made sure Merry was tucked in.  Legolas and Gimli left, and Kevin, Jennifer, Joey, and Pippin talked with Merry for a little while longer.  Kevin and Merry talked a little about the ride from Rohan.  

"Good day," said a voice behind them.  Merry grinned, as the others turned around.

"Boromir!" Jennifer exclaimed.  "It's so good to see you!  How is your brother?  And your father?"

He smiled.  "Sleeping.  I came to speak with them, but as they are asleep, and I also need to speak with all of you, I thought to come by here.  Peregrin and Joey are staying with me, but I should like to invite you, Jennifer and Kevin, to join us for dinner in my quarters.  We have much that we should discuss about what will be happening next.  This is not the best place for such conversation."

"But...what?"  Jennifer was going to ask, but Kevin shook his head at her, and she stopped.

Boromir turned to Pippin and Joey.  "Pippin and Joey, as soon as you finish your visit with Merry, report to Labadal, and he will give you my orders."  Now he looked at Kevin and Jennifer.  "I will be dining at sunset, and will see you then."  He turned and left rather quickly, leaving all of them puzzled. 

"What was that all about?" asked Jennifer.

Kevin sighed.  "He wants to wait to tell us until later, so it is probably something that will take a lot of explaining."

Pippin nodded.  "I am guessing only, you see, but there was that meeting this morning.  All of the captains and Gandalf and Aragorn—I suppose they are deciding what to do next, or they did decide."  He turned to Joey.  "We have our orders, don't we?"  Then he looked at his cousin.  "And you need your rest."  He leaned over and hugged Merry briefly.  "I'll see you later, cousin."

Merry gave him a stern look.  "You'd better!  And you'd better tell me everything!'

Pippin nodded, and he and Joey took their leave.

"What do we do now?" Jennifer asked Kevin.  "I could use a little rest myself."

"I suppose we could go down to that house where we slept last night," said Kevin.  "Gandalf and Legolas and Gimli are staying there."

"That sounds good," said Kevin.

-oo000oo-

Kevin woke up to the sound of his sister singing in the next room, and peered out the window.  It wasn't sunset yet, but it looked close to it.  No one else had been there when they had come in, so they'd found the rooms they had used the night before. Their packs were already there, and it had not taken long to clean up and then rest for a while.  He sat up and ran his fingers through his hair and yawned.  He was dressed, except for his surcoat.  

He heard a rap on the door.  "Kevin?"

It was Jennifer.  "Yeah!  I'm awake."

When the two of them arrived downstairs, they were surprised to see Legolas and Gimli there.  Legolas was just sitting quietly in a window, looking out, and Gimli appeared to be making some repairs to his chain mail.  They turned and greeted Jennifer and Kevin, and then there was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Jennifer called, and the door swung open.  Joey poked his head in.  Pippin stood behind him.  “Boromir has sent us down to escort you two to dinner.  Can we come in?”

“‘Course, you can!”  Kevin laughed.  “You know you always can, if we’re not busy, and you’re not needed somewhere else.”

“Thanks!”  Grinning, Joey and Pippin entered the room and shut the door behind him.  “Are you ready to go?"

"Don't rush them," said Pippin.  "We do have some time, just not a lot."

Jennifer rose to her feet.  “Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hungry!”

“Me, too!”  Kevin laughed.

"Well, I am always hungry," said Pippin, with a grin.

Legolas and Gimli shook their heads.  "We are not invited," Gimli stated.

"What?" asked Kevin, surprised.

"We are to dine with Aragorn and Gandalf, and a few others," said Legolas.  "As we were not at the meeting of the captains, they want to see us."

Pippin nodded.  "We only had orders to fetch you two," he said.  "If you are really ready, we can go now."

After saying goodbye to Legolas and Gimli, the four of them walked together companionably, Pippin or Joey occasionally pointing out some spot where they had been.  There still were not a lot of people around, and most of those who were seemed to be warriors who were coming from the Houses of Healing, or somebody or other in a hurry.  

“Guess what!  I made a friend here!” Joey announced, smiling, as they strode up the hall.  “Actually, Pippin and I both did, but he’s closer to my age than Pippin’s.  His name’s Bergil; he’s ten.  He’s a year older than me.”

Pippin grinned.  “Beregond is his father; he’s a Guard of the Citadel.  We met him first, and then we met his son.  We’ll be meeting with Beregond later, when we’re on guard at the Citadel.  When we first met Bergil, he wanted to stand us on our heads, but we managed to persuade him that wouldn’t be such a good idea.”

“Yeah!”  Rolling his eyes, Joey shook his head.  “But he’s our friend now, and I hope he can soon play with me.”

"Well, play's the last thing on anyone's mind right now," added Pippin.  "Bergil's got duties as an errand boy for the Houses of Healing, and we are pledged to Boromir's service now."

"Yeah," Joey said. He looked up at Kevin and Jennifer.  "I'm his page, and Pip's his esquire!  It’s like being knights, you know?  That’s how people became knights in the Middle Ages—by being pages and then squires, remember?”

Kevin nodded and exchanged a look with Jennifer.  “Except you won’t be becoming a knight, Joey.”  He thought for a moment.  Well, if we go home.  But I'm going to think positive.  Surely God wouldn’t separate us from our parents forever!  They’d be worried sick.  He didn't mention his momentary doubt aloud.  Of course, we’ll get home!  God sent us here; He’ll send us back when our job is finished.  Why wouldn't He?

Joey shrugged.  “True, 'cause we’ll have to go home.  Well, anyway, it's kind of like Boromir's our boss, and it's our job!  Except he made a promise, too, to take care of us.  He said he would take care of me like a father until we see our father again."

Kevin was glad that Joey seemed to have no doubt.

"That was nice of him," said Jennifer, smiling.  "So, who else do you know?"

"Well, there's Faramir, Boromir's brother—he's still in the Houses of Healing, along with Lord Denethor, their father.  But we already told you about the fire and everything.  And then there's some other boys—Sador, Kevin; you saw him, remember?  I don't think I remember the other boy’s names, it was kind of hectic right then."

Kevin nodded.  "He was also helping, you said.  Isn't he a little young for that?"  He frowned.  In our world, he’d be in school!  And so would Joey.

"He's eight," Joey said.

"His parents are dead, and his brother is in the Guard," added Pippin.  "It was thought best that he help in the Houses of Healing when his brother is on duty."

"And there's Dame Ioreth!" interrupted Joey.  “You met her, too!  She's in charge of all the helpers there.  You know, the nurses and all the errand boys."

"Yes," said Pippin.  "Rather stern and talks a lot.  Looks like a tall hobbitess!"

At this description, both Kevin and Jennifer laughed and nodded.  Each had seen her, but they had not known her name.  “That must be the nurse who shooed me away from Haleth’s side when he wouldn’t stop complaining about having to stay in bed,” Kevin said.  "She showed me where everybody was!"

Joey smiled broadly.  “And don’t forget Bergil!  We met him and his daddy the day we got here.”  He frowned.  “If only there wasn’t a war, Bergil and Sador and I could be friends!  We could play together.”

“Well, maybe you’ll yet get to, Joey, when it’s over,” Kevin said.  He turned to Pippin.  "What do you think Boromir will tell us, Pippin?" Kevin asked the hobbit.  Even though he knew that Pippin wasn't technically an adult in his homeland, he still was a lot closer to it than Kevin was, and the hobbit was pretty sharp and clever.

"I'm fairly certain," Pippin replied, "that he will tell us all the things they talked about this morning.  And it seems to me that we'll find out what we are doing next."

"What do you mean?" asked Joey, frowning.  "We won!"

Pippin shook his head sadly.  "We won a battle.  But the war isn't over, Joey.  Anyway, we are nearly there.  We can wait to hear what Boromir says."  Joey shrugged.

Indeed, they were nearly at the steps of the Citadel.  As they walked up, Pippin and Joey greeted Beregond, who stood at the door.  He gave them all a courteous nod, but did not say anything, as he was still on guard duty.  The group passed through, and Pippin and Joey led the way to Boromir's rooms.

The anteroom was already set up.  Labadal had arranged the food on a sideboard, and a table had been set up that was large enough to accommodate the guests.  

Pippin and Joey had automatically stationed themselves by the sideboard, but Pippin was counting the chairs.  "You have two extra chairs, Lord Boromir," he said, assuming his role as squire.  Joey nodded silently, letting Pippin do the talking.

Boromir chuckled.  "You and Joey are the extra guests, Peregrin and Joey.  I wish you to consider yourself off duty for the evening.  I have much to tell you all."

"Oh," said Joey.  Darn, he thought, pouting.  I wanted Jennifer and Kevin to see how good a page I am!

"Fear not, Joey," Boromir said, seeing the boy's expression.  "You will have many more opportunities to serve me, and you will have other opportunities to show your brother and sister your skills, but tonight I have much to tell you both, and would rather you sit by my side this time."

Joey nodded.  “Yes, sir.”  He stood behind one of the extra chairs, and Pippin stood behind the other.  He looked at Kevin and Jennifer.  “Uh, don’t sit down yet, but stand behind your chairs.  We gotta do something first.  It’s a custom here.”

Boromir gave Joey a nod of approval that made him blush with pride.  Kevin and Jennifer stood next to their chairs and watched curiously as Boromir, Joey, and Pippin turned their faces to the West.  Jennifer and Kevin did the same, and stood quietly for a moment, until Boromir gave another nod, and then all sat down.  

Jennifer quietly reached for Kevin and Joey's hands, as she sat between them, and they briefly bowed their heads and closed their eyes as Jennifer said a quiet blessing.  Boromir and Pippin waited, as they were used to the children doing this before their meals.

“What did we do before we sat down?” Jennifer asked Boromir.  “What was that about?”

Boromir smiled.  “It is a custom here in Gondor, Jennifer, to stand and look towards the West before we sit down to eat.  It is called the Standing Silence, as we look to lost Numenor, and toward the Blessed Land beyond.”

Jennifer furrowed her eyebrows as she recalled what they had been told about Numenor.  “You miss Numenor, don’t you?” she said quietly.

Boromir shook his head.  “Numenor was destroyed a long age before Faramir and I were born, so we never had a chance to miss it.  But it was the land of our forefathers, and we show them respect.”

His guests nodded their understanding.  “And the Blessed Land beyond—that’s where the Elves live, right?” Kevin asked.  “The ones who don’t live here, I mean.”

Boromir nodded.  “And the Valar and the Maiar.”

Labadal came now and served each of them a thin, brothy soup.  It was golden in colour, and it tasted of chicken and garlic and lemon.  They ate it with some of the crusty bread in the middle of the table, and it was followed by a roasted bird stuffed with vegetables.

Boromir waited until everyone was busy eating, and then said, "This morning, there was a debate among the captains of the Army of the West.  It was decided that in order to give a certain person and his friend the chance to finish their Quest, we shall march on Mordor."  Even within these walls, Boromir was circumspect in speaking of the Ring.

"What?" Jennifer exclaimed.  "But...why are we going to Mordor?"

The Gondorian shook his head.  "We are not all going.  We decided that I will go, and Peregrin, as my esquire, you will also go."  He looked at Joey.  "Pages, however, will not be going.  You will have to stay here, Joey."

Joey's eyes grew big.  He did not know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

“It’s for the best, Joey,” Kevin said gently.  “Children shouldn't fight in wars.”  Biting his lower lip, Joey nodded.  He had mixed emotions about whether he wanted to go or not.

"Jennifer, you will also be staying here to keep an eye on Joey."  Boromir glanced at Pippin.  "Merry will also not be going, for Aragorn says he is not yet recovered enough to go."

"That's good," said Pippin.  "Merry's had his chance to fight, and that's enough for any hobbit."

Jennifer looked apprehensive.  “What about Kevin?” she asked.  “You can’t make him go!  You can’t!”  She laid a hand on her brother’s arm and looked at Boromir fearfully.  He looked at her with compassion.

"After much discussion, Aragorn and I decided that will be Kevin's choice,” said Boromir gently.  "He may not be an adult in your homeland, Jennifer, but he is not a child, either.  He is free to go with us, or to stay here and help defend the city, and watch over you and Joey."

Kevin looked surprised.  He really had not thought about anything further than the battles he'd already fought in.  It was pretty bad, and he had been troubled with unpleasant dreams he couldn't recall ever since the last one.  But...well, he had some fighting skills, and he could be of use to the cause.  He knew how small their army would be compared to what Sauron could send out of Mordor.

Anything to help Frodo and Sam, he thought.  But would it be better to stay and protect my brother and sister?  I just don't know.  I'll have to talk to someone, I guess.

Boromir looked at Kevin with concern.  "We will be leaving the day after tomorrow," he said, "with as many as can be spared to go.  You have some time to make your decision."

Labadal brought forth a large fruit pastry that looked delicious, but even Pippin did not have much to say, though he ate a large portion.  The meal ended quietly, as all of them had a lot to think over.






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