Title: A Night at the Silver Crown

Author(s): Linda Hoyland

Rating: PG

Fandom: LOTR/Harry Potter/ST TNG

Character(s): Aragorn, Faramir, Guinan, Hermione, Minerva McGonagall

Summary: Aragorn and Faramir encounter a mysterious bartender, an inquisitive girl, and a remarkable cat at their favourite tavern.

Warnings: None

Author's Notes: I have used artistic licence with the powers of floo powder and time turners.

With grateful thanks to Raksha and Deandra.

Disclaimer With apologies to Tolkien, J.K Rowling and Paramount Pictures who own these characters,

There were few ways to spend an evening that Aragorn and Faramir enjoyed more than a quiet pint at "The Silver Crown," a convivial tavern in the sixth circle of the city.

Dressed in their old Ranger garb, they could sip the innkeeper's excellent ale, unrecognised by their fellow drinkers, and watch the world go by from their table in the corner.

A cosy fire burned in the hearth, which tonight was graced by the presence of a large tabby cat on the hearthrug. Faramir reached out his hand to stroke the handsome feline, but it hissed at him; then started to groom its immaculate white whiskers.

When no one came to take their order after several minutes had passed, the two friends made their way to the bar and called out "Is anyone there?"

Instead of the familiar bearded figure of old Mardil, a woman appeared in the innkeeper's place. She was dark skinned and wore a curious flat-topped headdress.

"Greetings, mistress," said Aragorn. "Is the innkeeper unwell?"

"Master Mardil has been called away," said the woman. "I am Guinan. I tend the bar, and I listen."

"Are you from Harad, mistress?" Faramir enquired.

"I am an El-Alurian, here to help out an old friend," the woman replied. "What might I get you gentlemen to drink?"

"Two mugs of your best ale, if you please, mistress," said Faramir.

"You two come here to escape from your cares," said Guinan.

"That is true," said Aragorn. "I expect many of your customers do the same.

"You have heavier cares than most," the woman replied, with a quick, soft but pointed look at him. She poured their drinks, then began to polish the mugs behind the counter.

Aragorn and Faramir took their drinks back to their table and sat down again.

"What a curious manner of speech that woman has!" said Aragorn in a tone too low for any save Faramir to hear.

"I must ask Ambassador Tahir about El-Alurian," said Faramir. "Did you ever visit the place during your travels?"

"I have never heard of it," said Aragorn. "It must be a very remote region."

The two friends looked around at their fellow customers. They were surprised to see none save a young maiden sitting in a corner. Not only was it most strange to see any woman, other than a serving wench in a tavern, but this maiden was most oddly attired in black robes, which did nothing to flatter her bushy brown hair. Round her neck was a gold chain with a small hourglass hanging from it. She held a large book in one hand and a quill in the other with which she appeared to be taking notes.

"A maiden should not be in a tavern alone," said Faramir. "Maybe she is in trouble and needs our help?" He rose from his seat and went over to where the maiden was sitting. "Pardon, me, mistress," he said. "May I be of assistance?"

"Thank you, yes," the girl replied. "I'm looking for someone called Aragorn Elessar. He might have information that I'm searching for."

Aragorn, having heard the exchange, went over to the maiden and his Steward. "And why do you seek this Aragorn?" he asked.

"I believe he overthrew the Dark Lord of your time," said the girl. "I need to know how he did it."

"It was not Aragorn who overthrew Sauron, but two Hobbits, Frodo and Sam who vanquished him by destroying his Ring," said Aragorn.

"Ah!" the girl said triumphantly. "A horcrux!"

"It was a piece of jewellery into which Sauron poured all his power, not an immoral woman," said Aragorn. "A young maiden like you should not speak of such things."

The girl sighed in exasperation. "The folk here make the Weasley brothers look like geniuses!" she said. "Your dark lord was truly defeated so he could never return?"

"His spirit was carried away by the wind," said Aragorn. "But who are you?"

"I am Hermione," said the girl. "I am trying to find out if the Dark Lord and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named are one and the same."

"I assure you that Sauron will never have the power to take shape again," said Aragorn. "Do not fret yourself, lass."

"How can muggles understand?" Hermione said with another deep sigh.

"I think you are in a muddle, not I," said Aragorn. "What drink would you like, and when you have finished it we will see you home safely."

"I like butterbeer," said Hermione.

"You know old Barliman?" Aragorn exclaimed. "How is he nowadays?"

"Miss Grainger, stop bothering these gentlemen and return with me to Hogwarts at once!"

Aragorn and Faramir turned in the direction of the hearth from whence the voice came. The cat had vanished and in its place was a tall elderly woman clad in similar robes to the girl. On her head, she wore a tall pointy hat, not unlike Gandalf's. Aragorn and Faramir were two of the bravest men in Middle-earth, but they quailed at the sight of what must surely be a shape shifter. The woman must have powerful magic indeed.

"Professor!" the girl exclaimed. She did not appear unduly alarmed,though.

"Miss Grainger, I have warned you against tinkering with time turners," the woman continued, completely ignoring the King and Steward. "They are only meant for travelling back hours, not eons."

"But it can be done," said the maiden. "My research has proved most helpful. The former Dark Lord was utterly overthrown when his horocrux was destroyed."

"Come now, before you interfere with the very fabric of time," said the woman. She reached inside her robes and took out a little bag of silvery powder, some of which she sprinkled on the fire. The flames immediately turned a brilliant shade of emerald green. Then she took the girl by the hand, and much to Aragorn and Faramir's horror, the two stepped into the flames. The girl fiddled with the little hourglass she wore around her neck. Instead of screams and the stench of burning flesh, though, there was nothing. The two had completely vanished. The flames returned to their usual orange hue.

Aragorn and Faramir sat down heavily, their heads spinning.

"You two gentlemen look as if you could use a drink?" Guinan approached their table, two foaming mugs in her hands.

"Did you behold that woman and the young maiden?" asked Aragorn. "Are we seeing things?"

"I have seen many things that I cannot explain," Guinan replied.

"So have I," said Aragorn, "but never the like of this before!"

"Drink up," said Guinan. "It is real ale."

Aragorn and Faramir drank deeply.

000

The two friends were still baffled when they walked home an hour or so later.

"Could tonight's events really have happened?" Aragorn mused. "Maybe we drank too much ale?"

"Or maybe we fell asleep and dreamed it all," Faramir suggested. "We have both been working especially hard of late."

"That is true," said Aragorn.

" I wonder what our wives will say about our adventures tonight," Faramir mused. "They will never believe us."

"Arwen has seen many wonders in her long life," Aragorn replied. "Strangely enough, there was something in Guinan's eyes that reminded me of her, something ancient and wise, but I must be imagining things!" He gazed up at the sky as if seeking answers and beheld a large full moon.

"Maybe Tilion is playing tricks with Isil on those that venture out beneath his light?" he said and smiled.