Note: Eight years since the last update. I think that's a new record or something. Drew and I are sorry that it's taken so long to get this to you. It's been sitting on our hard drives for that entire duration, including multiple computer crashes and HD wipes. How we managed to keep the file and our notes through all of that, no one knows, but I think that's quite an accomplishment.
On a fresh note, I, AW, am writing this as my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, in an attempt to finish it with Drew and myself editing it before it's being posted here. It is the year of The Hobbit (The Desolation of Smaug coming soon to a theatre near you!) and, for years, this story has been in our conversations, starting with, "We really should finish Urn."
Life got in the way.
Drew and Hubby moved, started a new job, had another little girl (the original reason this story was paused), Drew started a business, Hubby started a new, new job, and they moved a few more times. I went back to college and stayed for the whole three years, this time to receive a special piece of paper stating that I can do what I learned during those three years. Then, in between jobs, holidays, dance recitals, boring daily life, general summer busyness, and living four hours apart, time steadily ticked away and before we knew it, eight years had passed. We got old. Now, between doctor's appointments, visits from the grandkids and drop-in days at the Seniors' Centre, we might have time for writing again.
We are sorry.
We love this story and the wacky versions of those beloved characters that we have twisted for your entertainment. We know we've lost some readers over time, but here's hoping that we can find a lot more new ones. Life goes on and before I get too philosophic, I'll close with this: 'You can't stop time as it is constantly flowing forward. Keep on doing your best and never stop learning.' Now that this note has turned to mush, I'll let Bilbo Baggins give his philosophy on life.
"It's a dangerous business, walking out your front door; once you set your feet on the road, you never know where it might take you." - Bilbo Baggins
Disclaimer: We don't own anything. Not even the pea green hippie van that is now in many, many still-smouldering pieces. All the Lord of the Rings characters are property of New Line Cinema, as well as the Tolkien Estate. Drew and I belong to ourselves, unless, at such time as this is made into a movie, our likenesses will belong to that production company and the respective actors. Jean Coutu is a real drugstore. Sticksville is not a real place, but could be if you clap your hands and believe! Anything else that you recognize as possibly belonging to someone else, probably does, but since it's used in this story as parody, we're safe from lawsuits.
Chapter 4: Eight Men and a Cadaver
And so it happened that Mama came to the table only to be presented with a strange partial freeze-frame: Drew was staring wide-eyed at Father; Father was aghast, staring, open-mouthed at Aragorn; Aragorn had a puzzled look on his face; I'm sure I hadn't moved yet. And the hobbits? The hobbits had served themselves breakfast and proceeded to shovel pancakes into their mouths as if they hadn't eaten in weeks.
As none of her family moved, Mama cleared her throat and placed another plate heaped with pancakes in the middle of the table. I blinked. Now faced with the truth, I marvelled that neither Drew nor I had figured it out sooner! In our defence, if it wasn't the last group of people we expected to see in Sticksville, they were certainly near the bottom of the list.
"Mama," I said, then cleared my throat when my voice cracked, "This is King Elessar." I nodded at him, still in shock.
Mama, ever calm and possessed (now I know where Drew gets that tendency to /look/ calm), nodded and gave me a strange look, "Yes, dear, I know. You introduced us last night." Without comment, she wiped up the spilled coffee and refilled his cup, effortlessly producing a perfect cup and sliding it into his hand.
She /obviously/ didn't get it. I tried again. "Mama," I said as she turned to look at me, "This is King Elessar. You know? Wingfoot, Estel, Strider, Thorongil…" My voice trailed off. Aragorn was looking at me, clearly wondering why I knew all his names, and Mama was nodded again.
"Yes, AW, I know," she repeated, "You introduced us last night." Then the light bulb went on. "/You/ didn't know, did you?"
I numbly shook my head no, but my mouth said different. "Of /course/ I knew, Mama. I'm not... an idiot. Please pass the pancakes and syrup?" My sights quickly went from Mama to the plate in the centre of the table. The plate that was passed to me had the slightest remnants of pancakes on it and when I looked at the face of the passer, Sam, it was very apologetic. That made my eyes go back to Mama. "Could we have more pancakes, please?"
She smiled. "Sure, Butterfly." And taking the plate back, she headed to the other end of the kitchen again. I hated it when she called me that, especially with company. And most certainly with /this/ company. Legolas began snickering from the other side of the table. I'd be fuming if I wasn't prepared. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my blackmail material. I gently waved the picture, smirking in the blond's direction. When he caught a glimpse of what I held, his smile vanished and quickly transformed into a scowl. Satisfied, I replaced the Polaroid back into my cargos.
Drew frowned slightly. She'd just realized she was missing something. I'd have to fill her in later. Or maybe not. It depended on her level of fascination with the famous elf.
I struggled to wrap my mind around this. How were the Nine... well, Eight Walkers of the Fellowship sitting at our kitchen table? What were they doing in Sticksville? How did they get here, having not aged at all? And /why/ did they come to Sticksville, who's city motto is 'Canada's Hole in the Ground'? I tried to form a coherent question.
"... How?!" Apparently, I had failed miserably. Everyone blinked at me, family included, then they looked at each other.
"How what?" Pippin asked, mouth full of pancakes.
I tried again. "How... being you... here... what?" I was having a bad morning for thinking clearly. Drew passed me a cup of tea. I'm not sure if she was trying to jumpstart my brain or shut me up, but I sipped it, hoping it would help.
While I was sipping, Drew, with a puzzled glance at me, addressed Aragorn, translating for me. "And how did you get here... sir?"
Frodo piped up from the other end of the table and stated simply, "Giant plot hole."
"...They exist?" Finally! Exactly what I wanted to say!
It looked like Aragorn was losing his fear of Father and there was a hint of a high pitched whistle. "Obviously, they do."
"Oh... Right... When? Where?" My questions were losing it again.
"AW is asking for details." Sometimes, Drew sure comes in handy.
"Well," Merry said as he swallowed his toast, "a few days after the wedding of Strider and Lady Arwen, we were having second breakfast in the Grand Dining Hall, when an enormous plot hole opened up under the table and sucked us in; food, chairs, Fellowship and all. All ten of us."
"The strange thing also was," Frodo added as Merry decided that he has spoken enough and started to eat again, "that our best dress was suddenly changed into our traveling clothes... Then we were dropped very unceremoniously next to a phone booth in the middle of the parking lot of a Circle K in San Dimas, CA."
Ignoring the strange sense of déjà vu, I addressed another issue. "How did the plot hole change your clothes?"
A voice that hadn't spoken yet because the person that the voice happened to be attached to hadn't been at the table finally spoke. "Do not meddle in the affairs of plot holes, for they are mysterious and smell of tuna." Everyone looked up to see the smiling eyes of the owner of the voice, and the person who owned both was Gandalf. And without another word, he sat down in his empty seat and started eating the newly refreshed plate of pancakes. After everyone blinked a few times, it was Drew's turn to ask a question.
"You mentioned ten people being transported, and yet there are only nine of you. Wh-"
Aragorn banged his fist on the table. "Arwen was with us for the first few days, traveling east across the southern states, but when we reached Dallas, Texas, she was grabbed by an even larger plot hole and vanished."
I nodded. "Yeah, they like to do things really big in Texas."
Aragorn didn't seem to appreciate my comment to lighten the mood.
The hobbits, who were still devouring all that was put before them, only partially paid attention to the conversation. They were already up to speed as to who they were and how they got from there to here. That was old news. What was new news was, there was fresh food in front of them. An opportunity they were not about to pass up. The conversation between them consisted of comments of approval on the tastes, textures and overall pleasantness of the food and requests of passing of syrup, eggs, bacon, salt, tea, milk, sugar, and the occasional injection of wishing there were hash browns as well.
Gandalf had to occasionally remind them that they were guests in someone else's home and not to get too carried away, as they quite often did. Gimli, on the other hand, was continually restrained by Mama to cease and desist in attempting to light his pipe in the house. "If the greatest Istar cannot light a pipe in the house, than neither can a dwarf, no matter how important his house is to Dwarven kind." Mama had a no-nonsense aura about her when she was serious and was to get her own way. I supposed she had to, seeing as she had lived with Father for as long as she had.
As we talked around the table and the eating slowed to munching, then to picking, it was decided that breakfast was finished. The hobbits were also informed that there was not going to be a second breakfast and that the next meal was to be a late lunch. I'm sure I saw Pippin stash the last few pieces of toast in his pants pockets. I hoped they were not already covered in jam for his pants' sake.
The table cleared and the majority of the table's occupants moved to the living room, Gandalf having retreated back into Father's library for further study and a break from being around such an interesting group of individuals, we settled down to clear up what was not discussed at the table. Mainly, why it had taken us so long as to figure out who they were.
To be fair, all of you reading this would just assume that this was the Fellowship, mainly because it is in the Lord of the Rings section of , as well as being fans of the books and/or movie. But you have to see it from our perspective! To us, the Fellowship is history. /ANCIENT/ history. As in, the book that was originally written to describe the events of the Quest for the Ring, as in The Red Book of Westmarch, is dust by now. Sure, there are some copies that are maintained and others copied to preserve it for future generations, though usually hidden from mortal eyes; they get pretty weirded out by immortal beings, which is why we keep as low a profile as possible. (It's a little harder for me, being blue and all, but I manage to a point.)
But back on point, these are what I call Book People. The type of people you read about in books. It would be like George Washington, or Sir John A, or Queen Victoria showed up at your place of work and asked for directions to the nearest garage. It just doesn't happen, nor does it occur to you that they would be who they really are. Why would you? I don't think you would be so quick on the uptake! So there.
Now full of food, Aragorn seemed to be much calmer than before, though there was a little bit of dried blood still under his nose. I wasn't about to tell him and in doing so, remind him of his troublesome morning. "Since we were all together, we decided to just do it and go for a road trip. Gandalf gave us a general heading-"
"Only because you wouldn't allow him to tell you where to go," Legolas interrupted.
"I'm a Ranger!" Aragorn said, finding it important that he remind us once again, that he can Range very well. "Besides," he added, more quietly, "Gandalf tends to do his own thing. He never tells us straight out what his plans are, so there is always an air of mystery and uncertainty about him."
"'E was the one that led us ta the used car dealership, Laddie." Gimli piped up from the couch. Even though he was in the process of stuffing his pipe with leaves, Mama seemed to instinctively know what he was doing. Her head appeared from around the corner in the kitchen and she gave the dwarf the evil eye. He quietly placed his pipe on the arm of the couch. I guessed that he was going to be borrowing an umbrella as soon as this conversation seemed to be relatively wrapped up.
"But that was only after everyone turned down my idea." Aragorn protested.
Legolas sighed. "As much as I love travelling by horse, it is not very practical though more economical to travel literally across the country via horse."
"You have to admit," the elf continued, "that we covered much more ground in the van than we ever would have on horse… in the same time period that is." He added when he saw that Aragorn was going to protest. Aragorn closed his mouth again, having lost the argument before it truly began.
It was only then that I noticed that Father had become rather quiet. Normally, this would cause my hair to stand on end. He likes to talk, and likes to be heard. He likes for people to think he's social and pleasant. But for some reason he hadn't said a word since we sat down on the various couches and chairs. I glanced over to see how worried I should be.
I really shouldn't have been concerned. It seemed as though Mama was way ahead of the game and had slipped Father her famous and medicinal /calming coffee/ when she had replaced Father's earlier. There was a small smile on his face and he was slouching slightly in his chair as he sipped his coffee.
It amazed me, how Mama could always be on top of the situations that would normally be out of control, but I guess she got plenty of practice when I was younger. I never was one to be too predictable.
Father suddenly sat up, though he swayed a little. "Anything you need, I will do anything within my power to help you with," he said, speaking to the group but mostly to Aragorn. "It is the least I can do for you, with you having had risked everything to destroy the Ring of Power and all." I was sure that Father's generosity had nothing to do with how grateful he was, and more to the fact that the coffee was doing a number on his senses.
The former Ranger raised his eyebrows at this. I could tell that he hadn't quite clued into why Father had changed his manner so completely. "Thank you, sir." He said, sitting forward ever so slightly. "That would be very much appreciated." Aragorn, seeing he had very little choice, thanked Father as befitting a king on behalf of his group and made plans to stay.
Drew's eyes lit up. If they were staying, they'd need new clothes, a new car, new shoes... I could almost see the words forming in her head: "Shopping Spree!"
How she managed to maintain her Miss Perfect facade /and/ snag Father's gold card with a sweet 'Thank you, Ada,' I'll never know. She won't tell me. I've asked. It's a neat trick to see, though, that's for sure. She should be on stage. Penn and Teller have nothing on her. One minute she was sitting on the couch mentioning something about the 'poor fellows who'd lost all their worldly possessions and shouldn't we, who have more than we need, be helping them out?' The next, she was kissing Father's cheek, gold card clasped tightly in her hand and her purse in the other, ready to go out the door. I just blinked! What did I miss?
The hobbits walked in at this point, having freshened up in the laundry sink in the basement and looked ready to face the world now that their stomachs were full, or should be full. Who really understands the stomach of a hobbit other than another hobbit?
"Are we goin' som'where?" Pippin asked, looking from Drew to Aragorn, to Father, to me, to Gimli, and just so he didn't feel left out, Legolas.
"We're going to get you some better clothes, and at least a change of clothes." Drew said, holding up Father's card in a stance of power.
"W'll that's goot." The young hobbit said as he looked a bit perplexed at the shiny gold card in Drew's hand. I wasn't sure if he or any of them knew what a credit card was, but by the end of the trip, I'm sure Father certainly would remember, and perhaps regret having coffee this morning.
All the guys looked ready to accompany her. I knew better. Drew, gold card, shopping mall... no good can come of this. While I couldn't save everyone, I was going to do my best.
"Nono, Drew," I said calmly, though I must admit, my teeth were grit quite tightly, "you can't possibly fit everyone in your car. /Remember/?"
Father smiled and agreed with me, "Of course not. You will have to take two trips. Start with... them" He pointed vaguely to the hobbits, more to get them out of the house before they got hungry, than any gesture of goodwill, I thought. "Well done, son. That's using your head." With that, he pat-patted me on aforementioned head. You'd think I'd have outgrown this sign of... affection... I'm /how old?/ Gah!
Disappointed that they were not allowed to ride on top of the car this time, even if it was just because it was raining, the hobbits all packed into the back seat, with Frodo and Merry sharing a seatbelt. Even though they were full-sized adults, rules and regulations stated that it was not safe for them to be in the front seat due to the force of the airbags, should they deploy. Sam seemed to take offense to this, saying he could take on any airbag he wanted. I don't think he understood fully what an airbag was. I think he thought it was more of an insult, like Windbag.
Gimli was going to join them, until he found out that he was not allowed to smoke at the mall either, and decided to stay home for now. I found him an umbrella that attached to a lawn chair so he could sit outside while it rained. Legolas, not wanting to get too wet either, decided to seek out my spider plant, and to sit in view of Gimli, inside the house while the dwarf smoked. It seemed the most agreeable solution to the situation.
I do know for a fact that Drew regretted that little shopping spree with the four hobbits. I haven't seen her get that frazzled too often, except for that time from that one ocean liner I mentioned before. When she got home from the mall, she took a nap. Drew never takes naps.
Drew: I'm not sure how I managed to stay sane after that. I nearly turned into another /you/.
AW: Well, we certainly couldn't have that.
So, AW stayed home to clean up the basement and to keep an eye on the remaining Fellowship members, as well as Father, who had finished his special coffee and was now out chatting up the neighbours on how wonderful the weather had been lately and how his recipe for squirrel BBQ was unmatched.
I, on the other hand, made it to the drugstore quite uneventfully and without many comments from the backseat. It was only until we walked up to the doors of the store, when I noticed the sign on the door that usually most people ignore for good reason.
No shirt. No shoes. No service.
Well, the first prerequisite was fulfilled, but the second was a little lacking. I stopped and bit my lip, turning to the hobbits. They looked up at me, expectantly.
"Are we not going in?" Frodo asked politely.
I looked down at him and smiled. He was always such a little gentleman. I wasn't sure exactly what he saw in the others, though Sam was loyal to a fault. Yes, I am related to AW, but I have no choice in the matter; you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. Ilúvatar sees to that. … Oh, right, he /was/ related to the other two. Bad luck, Frodo.
I took a deep breath and attempted to explain. "Footwear must be worn in the store," I said apologetically.
It took a few moments for this to digest and process this statement. It was Merry who saw the light bulb first. "Oh!" Then he looked down at his feet in realization. "Oh." The other hobbits joined him in looking at their feet.
"But," Pippin said, looking up. "I don't h've any shoes."
"None of us do, Pip." Merry explained.
Frodo looked a bit perplexed, trying to think of a solution. "I do not think that there will be any shoes made for hobbits out here."
I shook my head. "No, not likely. I'll see what they have while you wait outside, and we'll see if we can't come up with something."
With a chorus of nodded heads, they all leaned their backs up against the display glass window and I pushed the push bar and strode into the Jean Coutu.
For the size of the store, I was constantly amazed that they managed to fit such a lot of merchandise in and it never seemed too cluttered. As I walked from aisle to aisle, three words kept repeating over and over in my head as a strange mantra that would have got me looks from the other patrons had I been saying it out loud. 'Shoes for hobbits. Shoes for hobbits. Shoes. For. Hob-'
I was getting strange looks from the other customers and even some of the employees. I had been speaking in my head… hadn't I?
Inside voice. Outside voice. Inside voice. Outside voice. I was sure I had it right the first time.
Forgetting the mantra, I called over one of the employees and asked if they had footwear that was suitable for those who had an unusual foot condition.
"What kind of foot condition?" she asked.
This was going to be a challenge. "Um," How was I to phrase of the fact that they were for people who don't wear shoes… ever? "Large amount of foot hair at the top and …" I looked around as I tried to form the words "get irritated if the shoes are too tight." Words. Hello words? Where are you? "Toes that can't be crowded."
"So, open toe?" She helped.
"Yes! Open toe shoes…!" This was going better than I thought it would.
"What about flip-flops?"
I could have just hit myself. Of course flip-flops would do the trick and be open enough so that the hobbits wouldn't have much to complain about, if in fact they did complain. "Would you please direct me in the direction that I might find them?"
The girl, being slightly confused as to why I hadn't thought of that particular footwear before on my own, pointed with her hand at a large wire bin that was filled to the brim with flip flops of various sizes and a variety of colours. Right. Behind. Me. I'm not entirely sure how I missed them, though having people stare at you for talking out loud does tend to distract you at times.
I thanked her and crossed quickly to the silver bin and looked across the small sea of formed foam footwear. It was then that I found I could have kicked myself again. I hadn't measured the Hobbit's feet and therefore wouldn't know what sizes to get them. Not that I wanted to go near any of their feet. Hobbit feet are not the most attractive feature of their kin, let me tell you.
I closed my eyes and tried to picture each hobbit and the side of their bipedal area. With each one clearly imagined in my mind, I carefully took the cut foam for each hobbit and prayed to Ilúvatar that they would fit properly. I walked to the cash and the cashier rung them up without incident. While standing there, she asked if I wanted a bag for my purchase. I said no thank you, but could I have a pair of scissors, please. She immediately understood and began to cut off the tags and thin plastic loops that insisted on holding the summer shoes hostage. Again, I thanked her and with each shoe residing on one finger apiece, I exited the drugstore with none of the pomp and circumstance that I sometimes get from the general populace.
The hobbits did not look happy. They were all looking down at their feet, or the sidewalk.
"Did I miss something?" I asked as all four of them continued to look down the ground.
"Someone refused to call us hobbits!" Sam was probably the most angry about this.
"What did he call you?" I asked, still holding footwear.
"Little people!" He said, still in his huffy way, but quieted down a bit. "We told him we were hobbits, but he just smiled and walked away. I know when I'm being belittled."
"We're already little enough." Merry added.
"Well," I said, handing off two pairs of shoes for Merry and Pippin "That is what we call political correctness. Usually someone will say something in such a way avoid offending the other person, or in some cases, they can get offended on behalf of people said person thinks he needs to defend. That guy probably just thought he was being polite."
"Well he wasn't." Sam said, crossing his arms.
"Easy, Sam." Frodo patted his friend on the shoulder. "This is a different world, with different people in it. They all do things differently."
I nodded my head, handing the two remaining hobbits their rudimentary footwear. "And sometimes they do things wrong, differently." I smiled.
Both Frodo and Sam smiled sweetly at that, and then looked at the shoes they were just handed. They turned them over, looked at the soles, then turned them again, taking in the tops.
Frodo blinked. "These are shoes?" He asked, without looking up.
"Barely." I said. "But they'll do in a pinch. In fact," I added pointing out some children across the parking lot, "many people do wear them all summer. I just never found them very comfortable myself."
The four hobbits awkwardly put on the flip-flops and made small jumps, testing the new foam underneath their unaccustomed soles. They wiggled their toes and gripped the thong between their big toe and second toe, then ungripped it.
"These feel odd." Merry stated, lifting one foot then the other. "Do we really have to wear these?"
"If you want to go into the stores, yes, you do." I explained.
"Sanitary reasons I would expect."
"But, wouldn't shoes be dirtier?" Pippin asked, looking skeptical at me.
"Look." I said, slowly losing patience. "You have to wear shoes on your feet if you want to go shopping here. I'm not sure how you managed to go shopping before, but I'm not going to get thrown out of stores just because your shoes feel odd."
"They wouldn't let you in without shoes, even if you were the Queen of England," I said, and started walking to the children's clothing store two shops down. I had thought that would settle the matter.
"Queen of Who?"
Apparently it didn't.
"England. It's a country across an ocean."
"Do you vote for her?"
"You don't vote for Queens, Pip."
"Does she have a special sword? Most Kings have special swords."
"Strider has a special sword." Sam chimed in as I held the door open for the hobbits to ender the clothing shop.
"Strider has quite a few swords." Merry added.
"Yes, but only one really special one."
"I have a sword." Frodo said half absentmindedly as he looked at a T-shirt that had a frog on it.
"A special sword!" Sam pointed out.
"Forgive my impertinence, your Majesty," Pippin bowed very low in Frodo's general direction, following his voice, because he couldn't see him for the clothing racks. Frodo just gave him the look that I always give AW when he's being an idiot and I want him quiet. He gets that look a lot.
"These shoes feel strange." Merry shifted his weight.
Back on the shoe topic.
"I wish I had a special sword," Sam said, sulkily. "All I got were rope and seeds."
"The thing between my toes hurts a little."
"I got a sword for my station in Gondor," Pippin called from the back of the store.
"Yes, but it wasn't a special sword." Sam pointed out.
"I think the plastic strap is messing up my foot hair." Merry sounded worried.
"Well at least a sword is better than seeds!" Pippin practically danced down the aisles.
I looked at the store clerk. She looked completely lost. She looked from hobbit to hobbit, wondering if any of them were actually listening to each other. I would say it was half true.
"Are you sure there aren't any other shoes we could have had?" Merry wiggled his toes, trying to relieve the discomfort he was feeling. "Why not some nice boots? Or clogs?"
I sighed. "I gave you flip flops because they were the most open shoe in existence. I thought they would be the most comfortable for you." I looked around at the clothes hanging from the walls, seeing if there was anything there that I could hand him and make him forget about the poor footwear.
"Gandalf has a special sword." Sam piped up.
"I'm hu'gry." Pippin commented, still standing in the back.
"I'm sure I would have liked some nice walking boots," Merry pouted.
"I'm not buying you boots just to shop for clothes."
"His sword glowed when Orcs were near." Sam had found a Hawaiian shirt that he was holding up while standing in front of a mirror on the change room door.
"I don't much care for frogs." To my dismay, Frodo had joined in the random and disconnected conversations.
"Fine, wear the one with the duck."
"I bet Frodo's glowed brighter."
"I don't much care for ducks either. They're near water. I don't like water."
"Do you have the seeds now, Sam? I could eat the seeds now." Pippin suggested, helpfully.
"These shoes slap my feet when I walk," Merry said, walking around and demonstrating the slapping shoes to everyone who didn't care.
"I'm never giving you my seeds, given to me by Lady Galadriel!" Sam snapped, angrily. "Eat your own foot and leave my presents alone!"
I had a slow sinking feeling that I was slowly going mad. None of this situation made any sense. The voices would never stop, they would never listen to each other, and they would be with me always. On the other hand, it made complete sense. I could follow the conversations, but I saw no point to it, nor where they were heading. I saw no end to this conversation. I had suddenly wished I had brought AW with me to help herd this randomness.
My eye twitched.
Oh, dear. Not this again. The last time my eye twitched was when I was working in Italy on this bell tower and kept on getting interrupted by wars of men. The builders also started construction where I clearly said not to, and it started to lean. I haven't been back to Pisa since.
The conversation continued to descend into a connected morass of words, thoughts and themes and I was beginning to understand Aragorn's nose whistle. I also felt a pang of sympathy for him and the others that had been travelling from the lower States and north to here in Sticksville, South-Eastern Ontario.
By the end of it, all hobbits had a couple of t-shirts, a few pairs of capris each and Merry insisted on getting a fedora. He was convinced it suited him, and because he had one, all the others wanted one too. I left the children's store with what looked like four little mobsters in Hawaiian shirts on vacation, and the world's biggest eye twitch. I just prayed I could concentrate enough to drive home.
I made them wait outside on a bench with some frozen yogurt cones while I jogged into the adult clothing store across the parking lot. The sooner this nightmarish shopping trip was over the better. As I stared at the racks of dress shirts, golf shirts and T-shirts, it occurred to be that I didn't have sizes for anyone else. And what style? Knowing AW, he'd want to get Pokemon shirts for Legolas and Gimli. …Not that AW /likes/ Pokemon. No, he'd just be tickled to see /them/ wearing the shirts. Same goes for the killer bunny boxer shorts. I draw the line at buying undies for epic historical figures. Just no. AW's not earned that degree of happiness yet. They can owe me later. Turns out, I really /didn't/ need AW here to corral the mayhem. I could hear him creating his own, in my head.
'Drew! Get Aragorn the pink shirt with cowboy hats all over it!' 'Wouldn't Gandalf look fantastic in short shorts?' 'I really think culottes would be best for Gimli – that way he could conceal his axes /inside/ his pants.' AW, get out of my head!
And speaking of Gimli, what size would he be? He's certainly broad enough to be a large, but they also assume you have to be six feet tall to be that big around. He'd trip on the hem, or get it caught on his axes and tangled. Honestly, designers of men's clothes are just as stupid as the ones that design the women's. Didn't they know that Dwarves needed clothes, too?
I ended up just grabbing an armful of medium and large shirts and skipped out on pants completely. If they wanted to go get new jeans, they were on. Their. Own. I'm not even sure I'd volunteer to drive them.
By the time I got back to the hobbits, they'd finished their snack and were wandering around the sidewalk. Sam was quietly weeding the little garden plots around the ornamental trees, Frodo was watching a squirrel dart back and forth on a lawn across the road before he risked running out into the street, and Merry and Pippin were still arguing about swords, feet, and now, whether or not frozen yogurt counted as ice cream, and therefore junk food, or yogurt, and was therefore healthy. I shoved the bags into the trunk and did my best to smile as we all piled back into the car. The drive back was, by standards set this morning, rather quiet. I will be eternally thankful for that.
I pulled into the driveway as the sun peeked through the clouds to say hello finally and I saw Father on the roof. Putting the car into park, I slowly exited the driver's seat and looked at Father with my head to one side. What in the name of Arda was he doing on the roof and… singing?
Author's end note: Ok, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that no Aragorns were harmed in this chapter. We offer no guarantees about future chapters.