Health Warning: This story contains elements from J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series, as well as Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Silmarillion'and 'Unfinished Tales'
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, J.K. Rowling and possibly New Line Cinema. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for this work.
More than six thousand years after the departure of the Ring-bearers from the Grey Havens, Celeborn of Imladris, late of Doriath, Eregion and Lothlorien, had decided that it was time for him to finally sail West to re-join his wife and daughter. Rivendell, once in the foothills of the Misty Mountains, was now a tiny island off the Baltic Sea coast of Germany. Some few of the Galadhrim still lingered there and in Thranduil's caves, further up the coast, but no longer enough to need the guidance of one such as Celeborn. He packed a small suitcase, persuaded Haldir to row him across to the mainland in Rivendell's only boat, and set out for Mithlond.
Celeborn had taken the overnight ferry from Hamburg to Harwich and then the boat-train into London. His rail connection from Euston to Birmingham would not leave until the afternoon, so he decided to see the sights of London for one last time before continuing his journey into the west. He sat on top of a wall, above an old, apparently deserted courtyard to drink a cup of tea from one of the many cafes, and was enjoying his improved view of the cityscape when he saw a man and a woman both dressed in mediaeval-style robes emerge from an archway where there had been a brick wall only seconds before. Celeborn was aware that his own dress-sense might be considered somewhat old-fashioned in this modern age - he insisted on wearing a suit and tie and always removed his hat indoors - but he at least attempted to keep up with the times. As he was contemplating the couple's strange attire, the archway disappeared again, bricks moving to seal the wall. He decided this was even more peculiar than the clothes, so he hopped down from the wall, stepped up to the man and spoke to him. "Excuse me, but would you be so kind as to tell me how you created and removed that doorway you walked through?" he said in the politest manner he could muster.
"Obliviate!" cried the man, waving a small stick at Celeborn.
Celeborn wondered momentarily if this was a mediaeval word for 'hello' or 'good morning' that he had forgotten over the years, but then the woman said "hurry along dear, we don't want that awful Muggle to speak to us again!" which sounded remarkably like modern English, except for the word 'muggle' of course. He hid himself in the shadows, as well as only an Elf can, and waited to see if the wall performed any other tricks.
About five minutes later an exceptionally tall man - taller even than Galadriel's dratted half-cousin - accompanied by a small boy came up to the wall. The tall man tapped one brick three times with a pink umbrella and there was the archway again. The man and the boy walked under the arch and Celeborn could see a bustling mediaeval street beyond them. Before the archway could close itself once more Celeborn dashed through it and it sealed shut behind him. Still staying in the shadows Celeborn moved along the street, keeping close to the man and the boy; close enough to hear the man tell the boy that the creature standing outside the largest building was a Goblin. An Orc! Here in supposedly civilised London! The Orc did not appear to be menacing anyone, nor did it have an obvious weapon, but Celeborn had enough experience of the foul creatures to know that they were not to be trusted.
The man and the boy went into the large white building with the Orc doorman, and Celeborn could see that there were many more Orcs inside. He decided that it would be better if he did not go in, as he was only marginally more fond of Orcs than he was of Balrogs. He wandered further down the street, to where it narrowed significantly by a sign reading 'Knockturn Alley'. Outside a bookshop labelled 'Flourish and Blotts' was tied a small creature wearing a smock that was quite possibly made out of a pillow-case. The creature was muttering to itself and Celeborn heard the words 'master' and 'punish' in its monologue. It did not look Orcish, and it did look decidedly more friendly than most of the humans on the street, so Celeborn bent down to speak with it. "Good day," he said, "my name is Celeborn and I am a stranger in these parts. Could you tell which part of London this is, please?"
"I am Dobby," said the creature, "Dobby the House-Elf. Dobby would be honoured to tell Celeborn the name of this place. Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley," he indicated the wider and the narrower streets in turn, "are in Wizard London." The creature looked proudly at Celeborn.
"Thank you, but you say you are an Elf?" Celeborn asked, "You do not look like any Elf I have met before! Are you truly one of the Firstborn Children of Eru Illúvatar?"
"Dobby is a House-Elf," it said, "Dobby does not know who his father is. Dobby's master will not tell him. Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby! Now Dobby has spoken ill of his master and Dobby will have to punish himself!" The creature began to hit its head on the wall behind it, but then a woman with long blonde hair emerged from the shop and ordered the House-Elf to stop. She untied it and swept away, glaring at Celeborn as she went.
Celeborn quickly got over his shock at the creature's claim to be an Elf. In this strange place where Orcs did not look or behave like Orcs, why should Elves look like Elves? He reflected on the creature's other remark. Wizard London. Were all these people Istari, like Mithrandir and Curumo? Surely they could not be, for the Valar had sent only five wizards to help deal with Sauron, and Sauron was long gone. He decided that the word 'wizard' could not refer to an Istar in this case and went into the bookshop to try to find out more.
In the shop, which was filled with more books than would fit onto its many shelves - quite a few were stacked in precarious piles on the floor - Celeborn encountered a short, stout red-haired lady, who was accompanied by five red-haired children and a beleaguered-looking red-haired man. "Excuse me," she said, "where can I find a book on the proper method to de-Gnome my garden? It's over-run with the nasty little things."
Celeborn agreed with her that Gnomes could indeed be nasty. Many, if not most of the Noldor were a nuisance as far as he was concerned, with the exception of his wife - and sometimes even she did the silliest things, but he did not understand why any Noldor would take up residence in someone's garden. If his recollection was accurate, a Noldo was infinitely more likely to build a vast stone fortress than live in the garden of a Human. "I'm afraid I don't work here Madam, so I wouldn't even know where to start looking for such a book. May I ask why there are Gnomes living in your garden?"
The lady took a closer look at Celeborn, apparently noticing his clothes for the first time. "You're a Muggle, aren't you," she said.
"I beg your pardon," said Celeborn, "but I am not familiar with the word 'muggle'."
"I thought so. Arthur," she called, "come here, I've found you a Muggle! He's very polite; he might even talk to you about plugs and rubber ducks."
"A Muggle!" said the man, who Celeborn assumed must be Arthur, "Are you really? How fascinating!"
"What is..." began Celeborn, but Arthur interrupted
"A Muggle?" he finished, "A non-magical person. Studying you Muggles is my favourite hobby." Celeborn considered this. While he had never possessed Galadriel's talent for mind-reading, he was by no means lacking in the abilities that Men called 'magic' in Elves. However, he didn't want to make a scene, so he let Arthur continue. "Would you mind answering a few questions for me about the domestic habits of British Muggles?"
"I shall try," said Celeborn, "if you would answer some questions I would like to ask you." Being neither British nor technically a Muggle, Celeborn decided to make up details as necessary.
"Oh, splendid, absolutely splendid," said Arthur, "come with me and we can talk over some of Florean Fortescue's most excellent ice cream."
At Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour Celeborn selected strawberry ice cream in a small glass dish, which had the dual advantages of being a flavour he recognised (unlike peanut butter) and it could be eaten in a civilised manner, without the ice cream melting and getting all over the hands and face of the person eating it, as he saw happen to a small child. Arthur had chosen a double chocolate and pistachio cone, and Celeborn tried very hard not to show his disapproval when the man didn't even bother with a spoon.
"I have a plug collection at home," confided Arthur, "batteries too, but ekeltricity doesn't work around magic, you know, so it's very tricky to find out how all these wonderful Muggle devices work."
"I can see that it would complicate matters," said Celeborn, who had found that electric lights were superfluous in a place like Rivendell where many of the inhabitants glowed in the dark anyway, not to mention the Fëanorian lamps that the Noldor had left behind when they went west.
"But the thing I really want to know," said Arthur, "is how a fellytone works."
"A fellytone?" asked Celeborn, "I daresay you mean a telephone."
"That's the one," said Arthur, grinning at Celeborn.
Celeborn thought for a moment. No one in Rivendell owned a telephone, but there was a call box on the mainland, not too far from the jetty the Elves used. It worked like a Palantír, he recalled, but connected by wires to the telephone at the other end. "When you talk into the receiver at one end," he said, hoping he had remembered Haldir's lecture on the topic correctly, "the sound is converted into electricity so it can travel along the wire to the telephone at the other end, where it is converted back into speech."
"Oh," said Arthur, looking impressed, "you Muggles are terribly clever to think of something like that. We wizards fire-talk when we want to speak to other wizards. You have to be very careful, or your hair gets singed."
Communicating by fire was a method that Celeborn remembered very well from the Third Age. His twin grandsons had told him about the Beacons of Gondor, although he didn't see why they bothered when they sent the Red Arrow too. He was surprised that these wizards were still using the same procedure six thousand years later, although he perhaps shouldn't have been, given their apparel. "One of your wizards waved a little stick at me earlier," said Celeborn, "do you know why he might have done that?"
"I expect that was someone trying to hex you," said Arthur, "you're still here, not in Saint Mungo's Hospital, so it probably wasn't dangerous." Arthur waved a stick similar to the one Celeborn had seen before and whispered "Finite Incantatem," under his breath, quietly enough that Celeborn would not have heard it without his Elvish hearing.
"Then the stick gives you magical powers?" asked Celeborn.
"No, no," said Arthur, "it's a wand." As if that explained anything.
Celeborn abandoned his line of questioning. No doubt an explanation of the word 'obliviate' would be equally unedifying. "What exactly is a Gnome?"
"Gnomes are just garden pests, they're small and they look a bit like potatoes with arms and legs. They can give you a nasty bite if you don't mind your fingers."
"I see," said Celeborn, trying not to laugh. He would find his first meeting with his father-in-law far less intimidating if he imagined Finarfin as a potato.
"What brings you to Diagon Alley today?" asked Arthur.
"I followed a very tall man with a pink umbrella," said Celeborn, "He tapped a brick with the umbrella, a hole appeared in the wall and he walked through it, so I did too."
"Do you mean to say that you aren't accompanied by a wizard or witch? I assumed that you must be here with one of the Muggle-born children here for their orientation day."
"No," said Celeborn firmly, "I'm here on my own."
"Goodness gracious me," said Arthur, "that won't do at all. I shall have to escort you out of Diagon Alley at once. It's a good thing I found you rather than an Auror, or you'd be on your way to Azkaban now." He shuddered.
"It's the... Oh, I mustn't tell you that, it would only be one more thing to... Where were you going before you came here?" Arthur finally managed to ask.
"Euston station, if you must know," said Celeborn, rather resentful of Arthur's sudden change in attitude. What right did this upstart have to tell him where he could and could not go? What right did any Man have to dictate anything to an Elf who had been born in the lands that now lie beneath the waves, two thousand years before the first Men woke with the first sunrise?
"Right," said Arthur, "you must leave here at once. I'll get you out through the Leaky Cauldron and set you on the road to the station. It's not far away."
Celeborn found himself being dragged along the street, his half-finished ice cream left behind on the table. Arthur tapped the wall with his stick, the arch appeared and he was back in the courtyard. "This way," called Arthur, pulling Celeborn into the grottiest pub he had seen since he visited Edoras during the Fourth Age, and that inn had at least had the excuse of housing several horses during a particularly harsh winter. Before the stench and the dirt had time to bother Celeborn too much, Arthur had shoved him out of the front door into a different road, where the inn was sandwiched between a bookshop and a record store.
"It was nice to meet you," said Arthur. As the wizard had done earlier in the day, Arthur waved his stick a Celeborn and shouted "Obliviate!" Celeborn was about to ask what the word meant, but Arthur didn't give him the chance. "Euston station," he said, "no, I'm afraid I can't give you directions. I'm not a local myself." He scurried back into the pub, 'The Leaky Cauldron', the sign said.
"That's alright Arthur," called Celeborn, "I know my way from here!"
Arthur gave him one last fearful glance over his shoulder and Celeborn heard him mumble "It's no good, I'll have to send the Ministry after him."
Celeborn arrived at the station quarter of an hour before his train was due to leave. He bought his ticket - one-way, of course - and found the correct platform for the 1440 to Birmingham New Street. As he waited he saw some people dressed like the wizards he met earlier. He realised that they were looking for him and he put on his hat to cover his silver hair before hiding among the crowds of people milling about. As he was boarding the train one of them finally noticed him, and brandished her stick, yelling "Petrificus Totalus!"
"Stupefy!" cried her companion.
Celeborn briefly felt a slight tingling in his hands, not unlike the feeling Elves get when they are somewhat inebriated, but the hexes had no other effect on him. He climbed aboard the train, slammed the door behind him and settled down in his first-class seat for the journey. In Birmingham there were more wizards, but this time they did not see him at all, and he found he had enough time to buy a bag of cookies and a couple of muffins before he had to catch his next train. The journey across Wales was uneventful, although it rained so he couldn't see the scenery as well as he would have liked, and the train arrived in Aberystwyth a mere ten minutes late.
Ulmo must have been in a generous mood that day, because there was Círdan waiting at Aberystwyth station. He was grinning happily through a beard that was longer than ever. "I heard you were coming," he said, "the ship's all ready for you, but my wife and I would be delighted if you would join us for dinner before you sail. I don't doubt you have some fine tales to tell us and as I've always said, a tale goes down much better with a bite to eat!" Círdan put Celeborn's bag into the back of his car and they set off along the road to Mithlond, which was little more than a dirt track just a few miles beyond the station.
Over dinner Celeborn updated Círdan and his wife on the latest events in Rivendell, then he told them about his curious day out in London. Círdan's reaction was fairly predictable; "Don't tell Alatariel about the Gnomes," he said. It was sound advice, but Celeborn knew that he would be unable to resist teasing his wife about it.
The sun had set before Celeborn finally went aboard the ship that was to carry him to Aman, or at least as far as Tol Eressëa. He had not thought that he would ever be happy to leave Middle-earth, but he found himself feeling strangely content as the ship sailed beyond the harbour. He was going home at last, to Galadriel.