Dislaimer: Lord of the Rings is Tolkien's. A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens'. Avanwe is my sister's.

"Quiet down! Quiet down!" Gandalf called. Everyone quieted down. "I called you all here because Lord Aragorn -"

"Strider!" Aragorn shouted. "For the hundredth time, Strider!"

Gandalf sighed. "- because Strider has heard requests from the people of Gondor that we perform a play. I now turn this over to Avanwe."

An Elf stepped forward. "Thank you, Mithrandir. Now, I have a play that I would like you to do -"

"Politeness, Avanwe, politeness," Gandalf interrupted.

"- that I would request that you put on. It's called A Christmas Carol."

Everyone present exchanged confused looks. A Christmas Carol? What was that?

"Before I decide who is going to be who, I need to know how well all of you can act."

"Well enough to fool the Uruk-Hai," Merry put in.

Avanwe smiled. "Uruk-Hai are not known to be the brightest of creatures, Master Meriadoc. What I'm doing now is passing out pieces of paper. You will receive a randomly-picked monologue, and, after five minutes, you will perform them."

"No fair, Merry's is shorter than mine," Pippin objected.

"I'll switch," Merry offered.

"No switching," Avanwe ordered. "Five minutes start . . . now."

"Time's up," Avanwe announced after five minutes. "Who would like to go first."

"I will," Pippin volunteered.

"Go ahead, Peregrin."

"Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life
Whose misadventures piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
And the continuance of their parents' rage
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove
Is now the two-hours' traffic of our stage
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend."

Everyone was impressed. It sounded like Pippin was actually saying something intelligent; no one could understand him except Gandalf.

"Very good," Avanwe smiled.

"What does it mean?"

"Never mind that. Meriadoc?"


"Would you like to go next?"

"Why not?" He paused for a second for effect. "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid." Merry grinned. "Who said that? It's very true."

"Never mind who said it. Samwise?"

Sam put his hands behind his back and started.

"And that raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On that pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!"

Frodo shivered, impressed. He hadn't known Sam could talk like that. "Frodo?" Avanwe asked. The Hobbit was still shivering. "Frodo?"

"Huh? Oh, yes. Ummm . . .

We took a look.
We saw a Nook.
On his head
he had a hook.

On his hook
he had a book.
On his book
was "How to Cook".

We saw him sit
and try to cook.
He took a look
at his book on the hook.

But a Nook can't read,
So a Nook can't cook.
SO . . .
What good to a Nook
Is a hook cook book?"

Sam smiled. That was funny.

"And what's a Nook, anyway?" Frodo asked.

"Never mind that," Avanwe said. "Gimli?"

The Dwarf took a deep breath. "Let's be clear," he said slowly. "The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. Wehaven't gotthe power to destroy the planet, or to save it. But we may have the power to save ourselves."

Legolas smiled. That was one way of thinking about it.

"Legolas?" Avanwe asked. "Ready?"


He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings: then turned with a jerk
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleight, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere they drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

"What's the 'down of a thistle'?" Pippin asked.

"Never mind," Avanwe said.

"It means like seeds in the wind," Faramir explained.

Avanwe scowled. "Faramir, you just volunteered to go next."

"Thanks, Pippin," Faramir laughed. He turned to Avanwe and his expression turned serious. "I'd won. I was trying to smile, but it was the smile of desolation. Inside I felt only the pity and the terror and the waste of it all. Everyone I'd ever loved and who ever loved me, all gone, all gone now. But then Galahad returned, and brought with him the Holy Grail and Spring, and the cycle of death and darkness ended. And so does my story." He smiled. "Why, Avanwe, I think you gave me that one on purpose."

"Never mind that. Aragorn?"

"This is ridiculous."

"Oh, come now. Just because you're the King of Gondor doesn't mean you don't have to audition."

"No, I meant my monologue is ridiculous."

"Oh. Well, go ahead."

Aragorn sighed.

"Tell me! Would you rather be a dog or be a cat?
It's time for you to think about important things like that.
Would you rather be a bullfrog or be a butterfly?
Which one would you rather be? Come on, now. Tell me why.
Tell me. Would you rather be a minnow or a whale?
And tell me, would you rather be a hammer or a nail?
Would you rather have a feather or a bushy tail behind?
Which would feel the best on you? Come on! Make up your mind.
And would you rather be a cactus or a toadstool or a rose?
And which would look the best on you - the long or shortish nose?
Would you rather be a Skinny or would you rather be a Fat?
Would you rather be a ball or would you rather be a bat?
And once more I'm going to ask you . . . how about that dog and cat?"

Aragorn looked around. "Did Pippin write that?"

"Never mind that. Gandalf?"

"Can't I just do the special effects?"

"No. Read."

"Look up at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. So whenever you feel alone, remember that they will always be there to guide you. And so will I."

"Awwwwwwww," Aragorn grinned.



Avanwe smiled. "Eomer?"

"Must I?"

"You can't have gotten something that bad."

"I did."

"Well, that's life. Go ahead."

Eomer sighed.

"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now!
It's fun to have fun but you have to know how.
I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake!
I can hold up these books and the fish on the rake!
I can hold the toy ship and the little toy man!
And look! With my tail I can hold a red fan!
I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball!
But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all!"

"That wasn't so bad," Pippin shrugged. "Can you really?"

"No. Do I have a tail?"

"Never mind that," Avanwe interrupted.

"I wish she'd stop saying that," Eowyn sighed.

"Your turn, Eowyn."

"Mutants. Since the discovery of their existence, they have been viewed with fear, suspicion, even hatred. Across the planet, debate rages: Are mutants the next link in the evolutionary chain, or simply a new species of humanity fighting for their share of the world? Either way, it is a historic fact: sharing the world has never been humanity's defining attribute."

"But we're better at it than Uruk-Hai are," Aragorn pointed out.

Arwen suppressed a laugh. "Arwen, you're next," Avanwe smiled.

Arwen looked over at Frodo and smiled. "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of this world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are."

Frodo smiled and gave Pippin a pat on the shoulder.

"Elrond?" Avanwe asked.

"Um . . . I never got a paper."

"What were you doing for five minutes?"

"Helping Arwen with hers."

"Of course, what a considerate father. I'll come back to you. Galadriel?"

"If you can talk with crowds, not lose your virtue,
And walk with kings, not lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
And if all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the world and everything in it,
And, which is more, you'll be a man, my son."

Elrond nodded slowly. "Avanwe, you still didn't give me a paper."

"Of course. Here. Is there anyone else?"

Just then, a Wizard burst through the door. "Sorry I'm late; Gwaihir got me here as fast as he could. What'd I miss?"

"We're putting on a play," Gandalf explained.

"You called me all the way here to put on a play?!?"

"Well, yes."

"Who's the Elf?"

"I'll deal with you as soon as I'm done with Elrond," Avanwe sighed. "You ready, mellon nin?"


"Go ahead."

Elrond grinned. "And while you're just hanging there, pay attention. The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do, and what a man can't do. For example, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man, or you can't, but pirate is in your blood, boy, so you'll have to square with that someday. Now me, for instance, I could let you drown, but I can't sail this ship into Tortuga all by my onesie, savvy? So . . . can you sail under the command of a pirate, or can you not?"

Aragorn smiled. He hadn't expected that from his foster father.

"Now, Radagast," Avanwe sighed. "What can I do with you? I'm out of monologues. Can you sing?"

"I guess."

"Good. You have two minutes to come up with a tune for this."

"You're kidding."

"No. One fifty-five."

"I've heard this before."

"That's nice."

"You left off two out of three verses."

"I couldn't make it too long."

"Why didn't you do the first one or the last verse, then?"

"You're as bad as Pippin."

"Forget the two minutes; I'll go now."


"Can I do all the verses?"


"Okay, fine.

Every man has his daydreams, every man has his goals
People like the way dreams have of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning, nightingales have their song
And don't you see I want my life to be something more than long?

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky"

Aragorn clapped. Elrond looked over at him. He stopped clapping.

"Very good, all of you," Avanwe smiled. "If you'll all leave now, I'll have your parts in ten minutes."

"Ten minutes?" Radagast laughed. "You're fast. By the way, when exactly are we doing this play?"

Avanwe watched them all leave, and then called after them when the door was closed. "Tonight!"

"Tonight?" Elrond exclaimed. "Is she insane?!?"

Radagast nodded. "Yes, she is."

"How can we possibly be ready to put this on tonight?"

"We can't."


"But we have to."

"Why? Who made her in charge?"

Everyone looked at Aragorn. Elrond sighed. "Of course."

"Well, you always said Elves were the wisest -"


"Oh. Well, how was I supposed to know?" Aragorn asked.

"Maybe the fact that she wants us to be ready to perform a play that we've never even heard of by tonight should've given you a clue!"

"I didn't know she wanted us to do it tonight!"

Avanwe poked her head out of the room. "Quiet! I'm trying to think!"

So they were all quiet for ten minutes.

"I'll go bug her," Radagast said. "It's been ten minutes."

As if on cue, Avanwe stepped out of the room. She took out a nail and a hammer and nailed a sheet of paper to the door. "Take a look; I'll be right back." She walked off.

"Why does she have to be so punctual?" Radagast sighed. "I wanted to bug her."

"She's an Elf," Arwen shrugged.

So they all took a look at the sheet. It read:

Cast for A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge: Eomer

Bob Cratchit: Samwise Gamgee

Fred: Faramir

Collectors for the Poor: Meriadoc Brandybuck
Peregrin Took

Jacob Marley: Elrond

Spirit of Christmas Past: Galadriel

Boy Scrooge: Meriadoc Brandybuck

Fan: Arwen

Young Scrooge: Legolas

Belle: Eowyn

Fezziwig: Gimli

Party Guests: Frodo Baggins
Samwise Gamgee
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Peregrin Took

Spirit of Christmas Present: Meriadoc Brandybuck

Mrs. Cratchit: Eowyn

Tiny Tim: Peregrin Took

Cratchit Children: Frodo Baggins

Fred's Wife: Arwen

Spirit of Christmas Future: Aragorn

People in the Streets: Frodo Baggins

Old Joe: Gandalf

Woman: Galadriel

Man: Gimli

Turkey Boy: Frodo Baggins

Turkey Man: Gandalf

Lights: Gandalf

Special Effects: Gandalf

Costumes: Radagast

"Did she flip a coin or something to decide these?"

"Who are these characters?"

"What's a cratchit?"

"Whatever it is, I'm its kid."

"I do not live in the streets."

"I'm not a turkey."

"And I'm not a fan."

"I'm young?"

"Well, compared to me."

"And why wasn't I at the party?"

"Apparently I'm not, either, Laddie."

"I'm not Fred's wife; I'm Aragorn's."

"Why was I invited to the party?"

"I just wanted to do the special effects; who's Old Joe?"

"Maybe he's related to Young Scrooge."

"I hope this part doesn't have a lot of lines."

"Good luck, mellon nin; it probably does."

"How much can Bob Cratchit say?"

"Sam, do you want to switch?"

"I only got one part."


"No switching!" Avanwe announced, coming up the stairs.

"Why do Elves have such good hearing, Sam?"

"Never mind that," Avanwe said. "Let's get to work."

"Can we have a lunch break?" Pippin asked.

Avanwe nodded reluctantly, knowing they would get nothing done with Pippin complaining about being hungry. "Pick up a copy of the script and study it while you eat. Meet back here, ready to go, in an hour."

"Whew," Legolas sighed when they were out of even Avanwe's hearing range. Everyone readily agreed, except Radagast, who had stayed to help Avanwe with costumes.

"Let's find someplace to eat," Pippin suggested.

Faramir grinned. "I know just the place."

Aragorn tossed his crown aside, pulled his hood up, and hurried to catch up with the others.

The fourteen of them walked into the bar and sat down together. "You have tall chairs here," Pippin commented.

Faramir smiled. "You haven't seen anything yet."

"Avanwe, I shouldn't have to tell you this is impossible," Radagast sighed.

"Oh, mellon nin, you worry too much."

"You just sent everyone out for an hour! Together! Do you have any idea what will happen?!?"

"Do you?"

"No, and that's what worries me."

"Come on, let's get to work on costumes."

Radagast sighed. "At least they took their scripts."

After about an hour, all the costumes were done. So Radagast finally asked the question he'd been pondering over for the past hour. "Avanwe, why the play? It wasn't really the people of Gondor's idea, was it?"

"No," Avanwe admitted.

"Then why? And why tonight? Why so soon, without any sort of rehearsal?"

"It was a bet."

"With who?"


"Which explains why he wasn't with the others."

Avanwe nodded. "Please, Radagast, you mustn't tell the others. They mustn't think they're doing this for me."

"But surely Gandalf and Aragorn already know."


"You should've known better then to make a bet like that with Celeborn."

"It sounded easy enough. One play, no less than two scenes, good costumes, good lighting, performed well, in one day."

"It's the 'performed well' that you'll have to worry about, mellon nin. How many chances do you get?"

"Until I get it right or give up."

"How perfect does it have to be to be 'performed well'?"

"You said it. Perfect."

"Perfect? No missed cues, no missed lines, no wrong lighting? Nothing?"


"Avanwe, that's impossible!"

"I told Celeborn I could do it."

Radagast looked at the Elf for a moment and smiled. "Well, Avanwe, if it's that important to you, I'm with you to the end. Come on, let's find the others and get to work."

"You won't tell them, will you?"

"I don't think they'd understand."

"Oh, thank you, Radagast. Do you know where they are?"

"No, but I have a guess. Follow me."

"One more thing. If you will, I'd like you to be my Assistant Director."

"My pleasure. Now come on."

Avanwe followed the Wizard to a bar. The sounds of song and laughter were pouring out. "Oh, dear," Radagast mumbled. He opened the door.

"You have never seen the likes of me before, have you?" a very drunk Hobbit asked anyone who was listening.

"Bah, humbug," the King of Rohan replied. "I am not the man I was!"

"Scrooooooooooooooooooooooge," the Lord of Rivendell wailed, taking another large sip of his beer. Aragorn pointed off in one direction after another.

"Brother, I've come to bring you home," Arwen insisted, tugging on Merry's shirt.

Gandalf was cackling hysterically as Galadriel shoved a tablecloth at him. "Bed curtains, eh? Ye didn't take 'em off with 'im lyin' there, did ya?"

"Yoooooooou willlllll beeeeee hauuuuuuunted by threeeeeeee spiiiiiiiirrrrrrits," Elrond warned.

"Humbug," Eomer insisted.

Radagast looked over at Avanwe. "This is a disaster."

"No, it's not," Legolas grinned. "Have I changed towards you?"

Avanwe raised an eyebrow. Merry, Pippin, and Gimli were on a table, dancing. "Got to find my corrrrrrnerrrrrr," Pippin sang before falling off the table.

"Of the skyyyyyyyy-iiiiiiiii," Gimli finished on a very high note, causing everyone to drop their drinks and cover their ears.

"Avanwe, if you ever want to do a musical, make sure he gets a very low part," Radagast suggested. Avanwe just stared at the scene. How could they ever get the Fellowship all sober by that night?

"Galadriel," Radagast went over and appealed to the Elf who appeared to be the least drunk. "Get them off the table." He was referring, of course, to Merry and Gimli, as Pippin had fallen off moments before. Galadriel promptly yanked the tablecloth out from underneath them, and they toppled to the floor.

"Okay," Radagast insisted. "Everyone back! We have to rehearse! And I mean now!" Dancing and singing, everyone made their way out the door and back to the tower.

That night . . .

"People of Gondor!" Radagast announced, stalling for time. "Tonight we have an amazing performance for you . . ." He then proceeded to list the cast, first in alphabetical order, then in order of appearance.

"Are you ready yet?" he whispered to Avanwe. By this time, the audience was reaching for things to throw.

"No, keep stalling. Sing something."

From his seat, Celeborn laughed as the Wizard started singing while trying to dodge fruits and vegetables, not always successfully.

"We've got magic to do - just for you
We've got miracle plays to play
We've got parts to perform - hearts to warm
Kings and things to take by storm
As we go along our way . . . Ouch! Hey! Avanwe!"

"Almost ready."

"What's - ouch - taking so long?"

"Sam's costume!"

"Oh, dear. Too big?"

"Too small!"

"Oh, dear."

Finally, after poor Radagast had done the chorus nearly a dozen times, Avanwe said she was ready. He came backstage. She smiled and picked a little piece of tomato out of his hair. "I owe you one."

"Let's just get going. Are they ready?"

Avanwe looked back at the still half-drunk group of actors. "As ready as they'll ever be."

The curtain came up. The lights came on. Sam was sitting at a desk, pretending to write, every so often taking a sip from a mug he'd insisted on bringing onstage with him. Eomer came in and slammed the door just as the Hobbit was taking a drink. Sam laughed, spewing beer all over his papers, and all over Eomer.

"Cratchet, have you been using all my coal again?" Eomer demanded, wiping his face with his sleeve.

"Um . . . yes, sir . . . er . . . no, sir . . . um . . ," the Hobbit stammered. His lines had been on his paper, which was all wet now.

"Get back to work!"

"Sorry, sir."

"I suppose you'll be wanting the whole day off tomorrow."

"If it's convenient, sir."

"It's not, and it's not fair! Why should I pay you for no work?" He stormed over to another desk and took a drink from his own mug.

There was a knock on the door. "Come in!" Eomer called. There was another knock. "Come in!"

"The door's stuck!"

Eomer sighed, but got up and pulled on the door until it came loose. Radagast entered, still pulling bits of fruit out of his beard and ushering two unsteady Hobbits.

"We're - burp - collecting money for the poor," Merry informed the floor.

"The poor can go to the workhouses for all I care!" Eomer screamed at the three of them, or at the door, none of them could tell which.

"Many -" Pippin started before falling to the floor.

"Many can't go there, and many would rather die," Radagast finished for him.

"Then they'd better do it, and decrease the surplus population!"

There was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning. "Not now," Avanwe hissed at Gandalf.


"But, sir -" Radagast continued.

"Good day, gentlemen!"

Radagast, ignoring the fact that Eomer was supposed to refuse them a couple more times before they left, scooped up Pippin and followed Merry at the door. Eomer slammed it behind them, once more jamming it.

"Is Pippin okay?" Faramir asked, adjusting his cap.

"He just fainted," Radagast nodded. "Go ahead, you're on."

Faramir tried the door. It wouldn't open. Gandalf came up and whacked it with his staff. It still wouldn't open.

"Stand back," Radagast ordered. Then, getting a good running start, he charged at the door. It flew open, but the Wizard crumpled to the ground.

"Two down," Avanwe sighed.

"Is he okay?" Faramir asked.

"No. Go on."

"Merry Christmas, Uncle! God bless you!" Faramir shouted joyously, though his gaze was still drawn backstage.

"Bah! Humbug!" Eomer suppressed a laugh at the sight of the Steward of Gondor with his coat on backwards.

"Christmas a humbug? Surely you don't mean that, Uncle!"

"I do! What right have you to be poor? You're merry enough!" Eomer shouted.

"And what right have you to be rich? You're gloomy enough!" Faramir insisted.

"Uncle!" Eomer yelled.

"Nephew!" Faramir yelled back.

Sam looked up. Huh? Most of the audience had the same look.

Faramir realized why and slapped his forehead. "Come have dinner with me and my wife tomorrow."

"No," answered Eomer, ignoring the improper English and still confused about why Faramir had slapped himself.


"Why did you marry that girl?"

"Because I fell in love," Faramir answered passionately.

"That is the one thing you have said to me that is even more ridiculous than 'Merry Christmas'!"

"Hey!" Eowyn shouted from backstage.

"Good day!"

"But Uncle!"

"Good day!" Eomer jumped up and threw his mug at Faramir. The Steward ran out the door.

Thunder rumbled. Lightning flashed. "Not yet," Avanwe whispered to Gandalf.


"Clock, clock."

"Oh." Bells chimed Eight o' clock. Sam jumped down from his chair, which was a rather high jump for a Hobbit, so he fell flat on his face. Eomer didn't even look up from his drink. "You may go, and have the day off tomorrow, but be here all the earlier the next morning!"

"Oh, I will," Sam assured him as he stumbled out the door. The curtains came down.

Eomer came running offstage. "Is everyone all right? Pippin? Radagast?"

"Pippin simply fainted, from a combination of drinking and the overly-hot stage lights that we can blame my cousin for," Radagast informed him, adjusting his arm into a makeshift sling. "If anyone cares, my arm is probably broken. Please do not slam the door so hard next time."

"I'm sorry; Avanwe said she wanted it real."

"Not that real, or we'll have a broken door soon," Avanwe sighed. "Now get back out there. And Elrond, get ready."

The Lord of Rivendell was swaying from side to side. "Avanwe, I was born ready."

The curtain rose again. Eomer was sitting in his chair, eating something or other. "Scrooooooooooooooge," Elrond wailed very convincingly from offstage. Eomer looked up, startled.

"Scroooooooooge," came the wail again. "Scrooooooooooge, I caaaaaannooooooot getttttt the dooooooooor oooooooooopen."

"Not again," Radagast sighed.

"I've got it," Gandalf answered him. "Stand back, Elrond." Getting a running start, Gandalf rammed his staff into the door. It swung open.

"Now why didn't I think of that?" Radagast asked. Gandalf shrugged.

"Scrooooooge," Elrond called, entering the room, all covered in some kind of flour.

"Who were you?" Eomer stammered.

"Ask meeeee whooooo I aaaaam."

"Who are you, then?"

"Innnn liiiiiiife I wasssssss your paaaaaartner, Jaaaaacob Maaaaaaarleeeeey."

"I think you just answered the first question."

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!" Elrond screamed.

"Mercy! Why do you trouble me?"

"Doooo yoooooou beeeelieeeeve innnnn meeeee or not?"

"Yes, I must, but why do you come to me?"

"Tooooo warrrrrn yooooooou, Ebeneeeeeezer, that yooooooooou still have a hoooooooope of escaaaaaaping my faaaaate. Yooooooou will beeeee haaaaaaunted byyyyyyy threeeeeee spirits. Expect the first at one, the second at twooooooooooo, and the third when the laaaaaaaast stroke of twelve haasssssss ceeeeeeeased tooooooooooo vibrate." He floated slowly out the door.

"Wait! Spirit! That doesn't make any sense! Twelve comes before one and two! How can - oh, never mind. That was all a dream. A bit of underdone -"

"Now, Gandalf," Avanwe whispered.

"Oh, sorry."

The thunder rumbled. The lightning flashed. "Sorry, sorry," Eomer whimpered. The curtains came down.

"Ready, Galadriel?" Radagast asked, wincing as Avanwe put some ice on his arm.


"Ready, Eomer?"

"Ready!" Eomer answered loudly.

"Then go on."

The curtains rose. Eomer lay in the bed, snoring. The clock chimed one. There was a long silence. Eomer sat up. "What's going on?" he whispered.

"We have - hic - a - hic - problem," came Galadriel's reply.

"Oh, dear."

"The show must go on," Avanwe insisted. "Go back to sleep, Eomer." So he did.

"But Avan - hic - we," Galadriel protested.

"No buts. Now go on."

So Galadriel, still hiccupping, came onstage. She came up to Eomer and lightly tapped him on the shoulder.

Eomer sat up straight. "Wha - who - are you the Spirit that was foretold to me?"

"I - hic - am the - hic - Spirit - hic - of Christmas - hic - Past."

"Long past?"

"Your - hic - past. Come, fly - hic - with me - hic."

"But I can't fly!"

"Bear but the - hic - touch of my hand - hic - here, and - hic - you shall be - hic - upheld in more - hic - than this."

The lights went all weird so it looked like they were flying. Merry came on and sat down, which actually meant jumping up into the chair. He picked up a book and rapidly flipped through the pages.

"Do - hic - you recognize this - hic - place?"

"Recognize it? I would know it blindfolded!"

To this Galadriel responded by blindfolding him.

Arwen rushed in. "Ebenezer! Ebenezer, dear brother, I've come to bring you home!"

"Home - burp - dear Fan?"

"Yes, home for good. Father is so much kinder than he used to be and I asked him one night if you could come home and he said yes, you should, and he brought me in a coach to get you and you are to come home and never leave again."

"You know, that is the longest run-on sentence I've ever heard," Eomer commented as Merry and Arwen hurried offstage.

"Always - hic - a delicate - hic - creature, whom - hic - a breath might have - hic - withered - hic - hic - hic -"

"Hey!" Arwen objected.

"Hic - but - hic - hic - she had a - hic - large heart - hic."

"That she did."

"She - hic - died a young - hic - woman, and had, - hic - I think - hic - hic - children?"

"One, my nephew, Fred."

"My time - hic - grows short. Come. Hic."

The lights went all weird again. Legolas came on and sat at a desk. Gimli ran on, tripped over his costume, got up, and continued running. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop, and ran right past Legolas. He turned around. "Christmas, Ebenezer! No more work tonight!"

All the other party guests - Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir, Arwen, Elrond, and a worn-out looking Radagast - ran on with Eowyn. They all danced, drank, and danced some more. Frodo started singing about a cow and everybody went wild. Finally, everyone but Galadriel and Eomer danced off.

"Such a - hic - small matter, to - hic -make these - hic - folk so - hic - happy - hic - and drunk - hic. Surely - hic - not much - hic - money."

"Oh, no, Spirit, it's not that at all. You can't measure this sort of thing with money. The happiness he gave us was more important!"

"I see. Hic - hic - hic. Look you - hic - here."

The lights went strange again, and Eowyn ran onstage, crying. Legolas ran on after her.

Eowyn turned. "Please, Ebenezer, take it back. You are not the man you were."

"I was a boy. Have I changed towards you?"

"You have changed, Ebenezer. If you could choose now, would you choose a poor girl like me?"

"Belle . . ."

"With a full heart for the love of the man you once were, I release you, Ebenezer Scrooge." She dropped her ring to the floor and ran off. Legolas waited a moment and then stormed off in the other direction.

"You loved money and yourself more than people, and you lost her forever."

"Hey, you stopped hiccupping!"

"Hic - you had - hic - to - hic - mention it - hic - didn't you?"

"Um . . . Spirit, take me back! I wish to see no more!"

Just before the curtain came down, Avanwe ran out and called, "Intermission!"

"Oh, man," Avanwe sighed. "That was ridiculous."

"You're telling me," Radagast nodded, picking broccoli out of his hair. "They used to just throw squishy things - tomatoes and rotten oranges and stuff. Who thought up throwing broccoli?"

"The play is ruined."

"Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad."

"It was terrible. Celeborn'll never accept that as 'performed well.'"

"Well, then, I'd say it's a good thing this isn't your only chance." He put his arm around the Elf, the one that wasn't bandaged and in a sling, that is. "It'll be okay. What was it you told Galadriel? The show must go on?"

"You're right," Avanwe declared. "Places, everyone! Time for the second act!"

The curtain went up. Eomer was again in his bed. The door swung open with a creeeeeeeak, for once working right. In came Merry.

"Wake up, Ebenezer," the Hobbit called with a drunken laugh. "Wake up!" Eomer didn't budge.

"Bells, bells," Avanwe whispered.

"Oops," Gandalf apologized. The clock struck two.

Eomer sat straight up. "Ah! Who are you?"

"I am the Spirit of Christmas Present!"

Pippin couldn't resist. "My birthday pressssent," he hissed from offstage. Frodo ran, screaming, across the stage.

Merry recovered quickly. "You have never seen the likes of me before, have you?"

"No, never."

"Hahahahahahaha." Merry hoped laughter would hide the fact that he'd forgotten his lines.

Eomer caught on. "Spirit, do you have something to show me?"

"Yes, follow me."

Eowyn, Frodo, Legolas, Gimli, Arwen, and Elrond came in and sat down. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten a table, so they sat down on the floor.

There was a knock on the door. "There's your father now," Eowyn smiled. Legolas ran to answer the door.

"Father!" they all shouted, and piled on poor little Sam and Pippin.

"Let's eat," Sam said when he was finally uncovered. "Father, we thank thee for this wonderful bounty. We thank you for family, for each other. God bless us."

"God bless us," the others echoed.

"God bless us, every one," Pippin grinned.

"Spirit, will Tiny Tim . . . live?" Eomer hesitated.

"I see a vacant seat by the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die."

Eomer paused a moment. Merry had remembered his lines perfectly! That had been the best moment in the play so far! "Oh, no, kind Spirit, say he will be spared."

"If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none of my family will find him here. But why do you care? If he is to die, let him do it, and decrease the surplus population. Come, Scrooge, there is more to see."

The others made a discrete exit as Faramir and Arwen entered. Faramir was laughing. ". . . and he called Christmas a humbug, and he believed it, too."

"Shame on him," Arwen scolded.

"Oh, I pity him. All alone with his money, no one to look after, and no one to look after him. Who suffers from his gloominess? Only him! All he's lost is a very good meal!" He raised his cup to make a toast. "To Uncle Scrooge."

"To Uncle Scrooge?"

"Well, he's given us plenty of merriment tonight; I dare say we might drink to his health."

Arwen smiled. "To Uncle Scrooge."

They both made their way out the door, drinking and laughing.

"I must leave you now, Ebenezer; my time on this globe draws to a close." The clock started to chime as Merry slowly faded. The chiming grew louder, longer. Dong. Dong. Donng. Doonng. Doonngg. Ddoonngg. Ddoonnngg. Ddooonnngg. Ddooonnnggg. Dddooonnnggg. Dddooonnnnggg. Dddoooonnnnggg. Dddoooonnnngggg. Ddddoooonnnngggg.

"Gandalf, enough! That's fourteen already!" Avanwe whispered rather loudly, pushing Aragorn through the door. "Come on, you don't even have to talk!"

Pippin grinned. "Black Rider!" he shouted. Everyone ran around in a panic. Frodo collapsed, clutching his shoulder. Aragorn drew his sword and ran onstage. But at least he was onstage, even if the ghost of the future wasn't supposed to have a sword.

"Am I in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?" Eomer asked. Aragorn ran back offstage, handed his sword to Elrond, ran back onstage, and nodded, slowly, mysteriously. Then he remembered to pull his hood over his face.

"And you are going to show me things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us, is that not so, Spirit?" Aragorn nodded. "Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any specter I have seen. But, as I know your promise is to do me good, and as I hope to be a better man than I was, I am prepared to bear you company. Will you not speak to me?"

Aragorn only pointed offstage. "Very well, lead on, Phantom."

A strange mist covered the stage. Legolas, Elrond, and Radagast entered, Radagast because Frodo was still in shock from the false-alarm Black Rider attack.

"When did he die?" Elrond asked.

"Last night, I believe," Radagast answered.

"I thought he'd never die," Legolas said with a laugh.

"What was wrong with 'im?" Elrond asked.

"Who knows?" Legolas shrugged. "And who cares? What I want to know is who he left all his money to."

"He didn't leave it to me, that's all I know," Radagast cackled as they walked offstage.

"Spirit," Eomer protested. "This are obviously the events surrounding the death of my partner, Jacob Marley. But that is Past! You are Future!"

Aragorn just pointed. A mist covered the stage. Gandalf came on and sat down at a desk. Gimli and Galadriel approached, carrying bags.

"Well, what 'ave we got 'ere?" Gandalf asked, opening Gimli's bag. "Pots and pans - very good. Shoes - I don't know how these ever fit 'im. They look Elven."

"They are."

"Mellon nin, where are my shoes?" came a voice from offstage. Gandalf handed Gimli some coins and Gimli rushed offstage - right into an angry Legolas.

"What 'ave you got?" Gandalf asked Galadriel.

The Elf poured out the contents of her bag. "Sheets, and bed curtains."

"You didn't take 'em off with 'im lyin' there, did ye?"

"I did. An' why not? He's not goin' to need 'em where 'e's goin'."

Gandalf handed Galadriel some money and, still laughing, they both made their way offstage.

"I see, Spirit," Eomer nodded. "The case of this unhappy man may be my own. Already my life is heading in that direction. Spirit, can you show me no tenderness connected with a death?"

The lights went all weird again and Eowyn, Frodo, Legolas, Gimli, Arwen, and Eowyn entered. Everyone but Eowyn sat down.

"Your father should be back soon," Eowyn assured them.

"He's late," Arwen sighed.

"He'll be here, he'll come," Frodo said, still somewhat in a trance.

"I think he's been walking a bit slower lately," Legolas commented, ignoring Frodo's non-script addition.

"I remember he used to walk with . . . with Tiny Tim on his shoulders, and very fast, indeed," Eowyn sighed.

Everyone got up and hugged her. Unfortunately, Gimli hugged a little too hard, forcing her legs together and causing her to fall over. Legolas, in turn, still mad about his shoes, tackled the Dwarf. Frodo and Elrond jumped on top of the pile. Only Arwen was still standing, a look of disbelief on her face. "Adar!" she exclaimed. Elrond didn't notice.

At that moment, Sam opened the door and jumped onto the pile. Pippin, who had stolen Gandalf's robe when he removed it to play Old Joe, ran on, shouting something in an attempt at Elvish and using Gandalf's staff to knock Arwen onto the pile. Merry followed him, and then Gandalf, screaming, still in his Old Joe costume. Galadriel ran on and threw bed curtains over the whole group, except for Aragorn and Eomer, who were still standing off to the side, Eomer laughing and Aragorn shaking his head.

"I'm sorry, Avanwe," Radagast sighed.

"It's not over yet," Faramir shouted back to them as he ran onstage.

"Faramir, don't!" Radagast yelled. He had a pretty good guess at what the Steward was trying to do.

Faramir grabbed Gandalf's staff out of all the ruckus and tossed it to Avanwe, just before being pulled into the pile, which had turned into a free-for-all fight. The staff gave Avanwe total control of the stage lighting. There was a blinding flash of light and then total darkness.

"Get offstage!" Avanwe shouted. Then, as an afterthought, "Aragorn, Eomer, stay put! Go on with the show!"

Somehow, when dim lights came up onstage, only Eomer and Aragorn were there. Aragorn pointed to a little tombstone, which was actually Gandalf's robe draped over Legolas' shoes.

"Spirit, before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point, tell me, are these the shadows of things that will be, or only may be?"

Aragorn only pointed. There was a weird silence. "If a man . . ." Aragorn whispered.

"If a man should change his ways, then the course of his life might also be changed. Is that not so, Spirit?"

Aragorn pointed, and Eomer moved closer. The king of Rohan dropped to his knees. "Spirit, I am not the man I was! I will not be the man I would have been! Tell me that these shadows might be changed!"

Aragorn pointed, but his hand wavered, either because it was supposed to or because he'd been holding it up so long. "Spirit, I see that your good nature pities me. Why show me these things if I am past all hope? Give me some sign that all is not lost! I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year! The Spirits of Past, Present, and Future shall live within me! I will remember the lessons they have taught! Tell me that I may sponge away the writing on this stone! Give me a sign!"

Aragorn tried to find the trap door that he was supposed to disappear through, but the stage was dark, so he couldn't find it. So he ran offstage. The curtain came down.

"Is everyone all right back here?" Aragorn asked. He could hear moaning and groaning, but could see nothing. A light came on.

"Hardly, Dunedain," Avanwe answered. Almost everyone was lying on the ground, unconscious, bloody, badly drunk, or simply exhausted.

"What can we do?" Eomer asked.

"Eomer, you stay here, help me get them up. Aragorn, take Radagast and buy us some time."

"I can help, too," Faramir insisted, trying hard to stand. He'd been pulled into the bottom of the pile, and looked worse than most of the others.

Aragorn helped his friend to his feet. "Hannon le." Faramir smiled and the three walked onstage.

The curtain came up, but everything was dark. Radagast whispered something to the other two. Then he started singing:

Morning glow, morning glow
Starts to glimmer when you know
Winds of change are set to blow
And sweep this whole land through

The others joined in:

Morning glow is long past due

Little lights started to come on, slowly. Faramir started singing:

Morning glow, fill the earth
Come and shine for all you're worth
We'll be present at the birth
Of old faith looking new

The others joined him:

Morning glow is long past due

More lights came on as they all sang:

Oh, morning glow, I'd like to help you grow

The lights grew. Aragorn sang:

We should have started long ago

So, morning glow all day long
While we sing tomorrow's song
Never knew we could be so strong
But now it's very clear

They all joined him:

Morning glow is almost here

More lights came on. They all sang:

Morning glow, by your light
We can make a new day bright
And the phantoms of the night
Will fade into the past

All the lights were on now. Fireworks went off and everyone ran onstage as they all sang:

Morning glow is here . . .
At last!

The curtains came down.

"Hannon le, you three!" Avanwe exclaimed. "Thank you so much! Eomer, Frodo, Gandalf, ready?"


The curtains came up. "I'm back!" Eomer exclaimed. "I'm alive! My bed curtains aren't torn down! Oh, thank ye, Spirits! Thank ye, Jacob Marley!"

"Yoooooooou're Weeeeeelllllcooooooommme," Elrond, Galadriel, Merry, and Aragorn chorused from offstage.

Frodo cam on, whistling Roads Go Ever Ever On. "Hey, Lad!" Eomer shouted. "What day is it?"

"Today? It's Christmas Day!"

"Christmas! I haven't missed it! The Spirits did it all in one night, even though twelve comes before one and two! Lad, do you know the poultry store down the street?"

"Of course."

"Do they still have that prize turkey?"

"They sure do."

"Go an' fetch it! Here's some money to pay for it!" He tossed Frodo a bag. Frodo fell over as he caught it, then looked inside and screamed as he realized it was full of little gold rings. He ran offstage. Gandalf, laughing, brought the turkey on.

"Take that to Bob Cratchit's house, and don't tell him who sent it! Here, keep the change." He tossed Gandalf a bag. The Wizard looked inside and screamed when he saw dozens and dozens of well-carved little Balrogs. He dropped the turkey and ran offstage. Legolas and Gimli, laughing, came on, picked up the turkey, and left. The curtain came down.

"Who did that?!?" Gandalf exclaimed. "Who did that?!?" Everyone pointed to someone different.

"If I don't learn who did it, everyone gets turned into ducks!" Gandalf exclaimed. Everyone pointed at Faramir.

"You did that?!?" Frodo and Gandalf exclaimed together.

"Where did you get the time to - " Gandalf started.

"Places!" Faramir shouted.

"This isn't over!"

The curtain came up. Faramir and Arwen were onstage, still laughing. There was a knock on the door. Faramir answered it. "Nephew!"

"Uncle!" Eomer exclaimed. "Wait."

"Mother-brother!" Faramir grinned.

"Sister-son!" Eomer answered. They embraced. "May I still have Christmas dinner with you?"

"Of course."

The curtain came down.

"Okay, who has the turkey?"

"Here it is!"

"Oooooh, I want some!"

"Just a moment, Peregrin."

The curtain came up. Sam, Eowyn, Frodo, Legolas, Gimli, Arwen, Elrond, and Pippin were sitting onstage. There was a knock on the door. Sam answered it. Gandalf entered with the huge turkey. Pippin rushed over, forgetting his crutch, followed quickly by Frodo. Merry ran on from offstage. Everyone started eating the turkey. The curtain came down.

"Okay, one more scene," Avanwe grinned. "Eomer?"



"Mmmmmmmm-hmmmmmm," the Hobbit replied, his mouth full of turkey.

"Okay, let's go."

The curtain came up. Eomer paced. And paced. And paced. Until finally Sam came running up.

"You're late, Cratchit," Eomer complained.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Scrooge, sir, I was . . . eating a lot of turkey with my family last night."

"I won't stand for this any more, Cratchit, I won't have it! Therefore, I am going to . . . raise . . . your . . . salary."

"Oh, no, please, sir, please don't . . . what?"

"I'm going to raise your salary. Your family should eat that well every night! You'll never need anything, ever again! I promise."

Everyone came on. Everyone looked around. There was supposed to be a narrator right there. But they didn't have one. Avanwe came on.

"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more. And to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, as good a man, as the good old city ever knew, or any city. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that truly be said of us, all of us. And so, as Tiny Tim observed . . ."

Everyone turned to Pippin. "Huh? Oh . . . God bless us, every one. And where's the rest of the turkey?"

The curtain came down, and back up. Everyone bowed. Gimli fell over. The curtain came down again.

"Good job, everyone," Avanwe grinned.

"That was fun!" Pippin exclaimed.

"I like plays!" Merry added.

"Can we do another?" Elrond asked.

"Here comes the answer." Radagast pointed to Celeborn, who was coming towards them.

"Good try, Avanwe, but hardly what you promised," Celeborn said, but the others except Avanwe and Radagast were too busy congratulating each other, they didn't pay any attention to him. Legolas heard him, though, but kept silent.

"I know," Avanwe nodded.

"Do you give up?"


"Very well." He left. Avanwe and Radagast joined the others in partying.

"So can we?" Elrond asked, sounding very much like a little child.

Avanwe looked around, at Merry and Pippin, still looking for the turkey; at Aragorn and Eomer, laughing because they hid the turkey; at Gandalf, chasing Faramir; at Faramir, running everywhere; at Eowyn, trying to distract Gandalf; at Frodo and Sam, imitating Faramir, Aragorn, and Radagast singing Morning Glow; at Legolas and Gimli, fighting about shoes; at Galadriel and Arwen, watching everyone and laughing; at Radagast, whose arm wasn't broken, just bruised, giving everyone high-fives; and then back at Elrond.

Avanwe smiled at the Lord of Rivendell. "I don't think we're going to have a choice."

Muahahahaha. Yes, that means there will be more. Suggestions for plays, anyone? If it's something I haven't read, it may take me longer, but I will get to it. :)