A small snippet from the vaults.

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Scenes Five: Burnt soup

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Alarms were going off all over the house.

Gimli shut his eyes and tried to ignore the pounding in his head. Probably one of the cats had tripped a wire, he decided, making a mental note to check it out when he felt better. Elvish parties did tend to take it out of one. And then there was mystery of Merry and Pippin's appearance. He'd tried to broach the subject with Legolas but the elf just looked shifty and kept changing the subject.

"Aieeeeee"

A long yodeling cry made its way over the feline howling. Gimli turned over and stuffed a pillow over his head. Legolas' early morning chanting was enough to test the staunchest relationship.

"AieeEEEE!" There it was again. This time with a note of panic. Gimli gave a long resigned sigh and emerged from under the pillow. Clearly it was going to be one of those days.

The intruder alarms had distracted Legolas from his daily ritual. He looked across the extensive gardens and saw Galadreil tripping up the drive accompanied by a miserable looking Frodo. Damn! He thought the twenty cats were supposed to keep her away. Had she become immune? Could they possibly need more? The pair waved and Legolas automatically found himself waving back. Too late to pretend they were out then. An acrid smell reached his sensitive nose. Brilliant and now the soup was burning.

**

"Delicious"

Sip. Stir. Another, smaller, sip. This was very probably the worst liquid to masquerade under the name of broth he had ever tried but Legolas looked so miserable that Gimli felt obliged to at least pretend enjoyment. And it was so bad it had to be doing him good. Right?

Galadriel was sitting on the edge of the huge four-poster bed unpacking a basket of goodies. Her face had the same evasive look that Legolas' had worn the night before and her eyes were focusing everywhere but on his. By her side Frodo hovered, picking over the choicest morsels as they were unwrapped. Stopping smoking had done nothing for his waistline, noted Gimli, seeing how the buttons strained across the front of his waistcoat. From time to time Galadriel would slap the hobbit's hand away or remove a cake or a pie but Frodo simply turned his attention elsewhere.

Gimli tried again, "But they've...."

Legolas and Galadriel's glances met, for once in accord, as they tried to come up with a polite way of stating the obvious.

"Passed over."

"Chosen different destinies."

They spoke at once. Gimli looked from side to side and tried to sort out the garble.

"They're dead! You were drunk!" yelled Frodo. "Dead. Dead. Dead. Get it, dummy?" There was a shocked silence.

"Sorry," said the hobbit. He shrugged and looked around for something more to eat.

Gimli reached under his pillow and silently handed Frodo his pipe. Frodo grabbed it and raced out of the room.

Sighs of relief followed his exit.

"I did see them, you know," repeated Gimli. "With Gandalf in the smoking cupboard."

Galadriel's lips began to twitch. "Ah. I see. Well, the resemblance is certainly uncanny."

"What?" Gimli wasn't going to play 20 questions.

"Not my story to tell." She shook her head in a mysterious fashion, smiling maliciously at Legolas.

Legolas thinned his lips and began to gather up the remains of the bed picnic. There were crumbs and stains all over the pale linen sheets. Wonderful and he'd only washed the lot the day before. Arms full he pushed opened the bedroom door with a booted foot, managing to kick the crystal doorstop hard as he did so. Gimli glared at him but said nothing. Legolas knew he would not escape so lightly later.

Behind him he felt rather than saw Galadriel's smile. Bitch. He gave a low whistle and casually dropped a few tempting crumbs. The cats were well trained. He hadn't even reached the kitchen before the first of a long drawn out series of sneezes reached his ears.

**