The opening of the café was a sombre one. Gandalf had been admitted to the hospital with serious burns, and low oxygen levels due to too much carbon dioxide in his lungs, so Radagast had been there to supervise the opening. He had a large, old-looking camera that he used to take pictures of the customers and employees that were at the reopening of the beloved café. Radagast would often gather students to stand in front of the café, and would take a picture of them for Gandalf's sake.

That was where Merry found himself, sandwiched between Pippin and Gimli, trying to fake a smile so Gandalf would at least see them being happy. Merry was worried, however; extremely worried about Gandalf. Gandalf's wounds would not concern Merry in the slightest if Gandalf had been young, but as an aged man, the wounds that Gandalf had could be fatal.

They weren't allowed to visit him, despite the fact that Radagast had actually been on their side. The nurses and doctors said that Gandalf needed his rest, and that a group of young adults would only make his condition worse. Merry was wondering if the reason why they weren't allowed in was because they had caused such a ruckus in Frodo's room, but he didn't bring it up, because he was pretty sure that they were getting close to getting banned from the hospital.

The flash went off, nearly blinding Merry as Radagast said, "Very good, very good! Gandalf asked me to take these for him, so that he could brighten up his hospital room…." Merry then watched as the rambling man asked a group of girls who were sitting at a table and drinking some beverages if it was okay for him to photograph them.

Though Radagast seemed to not be very socially inclined and had a hard time keeping up a conversation (a case of ADD, Merry presumed, that had yet to be diagnosed), the old man did have a bubbly personality that made him quite agreeable to most people. Merry didn't mind him much, though he personally thought that Radagast was going to need a better camera if he was going to take pictures of the birds he and Gandalf were going to see when they went on their vacation to the rainforests.

Pippin stumbled into Merry as he attempted to get back into the serving part of the café, "Ack, sorry, I can't see," Pippin told him, rubbing his eyes with his palms. Merry knew that Pippin's vision was currently clouded by black spots, just as his was.

"Radagast could really tone down the flash," Merry commented as he watched the group of girls rubbing their eyes furiously after the picture. He smiled, and then nudged his head in the direction of the girls so Pippin could see them as well. The two of them had a little chuckle, before they both sighed.

"He's just trying his best to keep Gandalf happy," Pippin muttered, "I bet you Gandalf tried to convince the hospital that he was well enough to get out."

"Yeah…" Merry responded. It was a thing that Gandalf had tried to do often. There was one time when Gandalf had taken them all out to a movie as a post-exam celebration. Gandalf had brought along a bag that had quite a large amount of snacks inside of it so his employees didn't have to buy their own. The theatre worker, Gamling, who was a veterinarian like the girl that Boromir's brother fancied, told Gandalf that he wasn't going to be able to bring his bag into the theatre. The argument the two of them had was incredibly long; so long that Merry thought that they were going to miss the opening scenes of the movie. In the end, Gandalf had won, and the bag went in with them.

It seemed as though this time Gandalf hadn't won. Merry was rather glad that he hadn't, either, due to the way that Radagast was talking. It still seemed as though Gandalf was having trouble breathing without an oxygen feed. Merry didn't want to have to call the ambulance at the opening of the café if Gandalf had passed out.

"Oh no… the Caffeine Girl is back," Pippin groaned as he saw the girl walk in. "I accidentally knocked her over when we had that meeting at Legolas's house. This is going to be awkward."

"I could serve her," Merry offered.

"No, it's fine," Pippin retorted, and Merry thought that he saw Pippin's ears turn a little red. Merry smirked, but said nothing more. He was going to tease Pippin on their walk back from the café. There was nothing more obvious than the fact that Pippin liked the Caffeine Girl. Merry made a mental note to tell Gimli; Gimli was good at teasing people when said person was in love. He had heard the story about Aragorn and Arwen the day of Frodo's stabbing.

Merry went to go serve another group of customers. It was a couple, cuddled together. Merry didn't know where one started and the other ended. As long as they didn't start to suck face, Merry wouldn't mind. The couple ordered rather couple-y kind of drinks, all the while they giggled and nuzzled noses. Merry tried to use all of his law (prelaw) school knowledge to see if such affection in public was illegal. Unfortunately, to the best of his knowledge, it wasn't.

Merry was shuddering as he left the couple-y couple to go make their drinks. Couples like that were the worst ones to serve. They were too infatuated with each other that they seldom tipped, and they often would ask for extra whipped cream so they could put it on each others' noses and kiss it off.

Merry decided that if Aragorn, who was a politics student, ever got into a place of power, he would ask him to make it illegal to be as couple-y as the couple-y couple. At least they were being affectionate in the corner of the café farthest away from the window. If they were by the window, passersby would probably think that this café was a couples' café or something as romantic centric as that.

He served the drinks as quickly as he could, before he began to clear off the table nearby, stalking up the mugs onto a tray, and wiping down the table with his other hand. He dumped the cups next to Aragorn, who was busily working away at the dishes. Merry had the distinct feeling that Aragorn was only working on the dishes because he knew that Arwen was going to be in soon, and he didn't want to give Gimli anymore blackmail.

"It's pretty busy out there, isn't it?" Aragorn commented as he looked at the stalk of cups Merry had just set down.

"No sign of Arwen yet," Merry said, leaning back on the counter, "No sign of the Mordor College freaks either… have you heard anything about the arsonist?"

"Just rumours," Aragorn said, scrubbing a cup furiously most likely because of the fact that Merry had commented on Arwen. "I've heard from some other students that they think it was a kid that goes by the street name of the 'Balrog'."

"Ugh, you mean like the monster from one of Mr. Bilbo's movies? The one that the actor Glorfindel killed and his character died killing? These Mordor College students really need to get better names. Nazgul and now the Balrog?" Merry crinkled his nose.

"Nazgul?" Aragorn asked.

"That's what Gimli said the group of thugs that he saw outside of the café were called."

"I thought they were the Ringwraiths," Aragorn said.

Merry raised his eyebrows at the name 'Ringwraiths.' "I can't decide which one is worse, Nazgul or Ringwraiths."

"Well, Nazgul sounds like some foreign disease, where Ringwraiths sounds like somebody tried too hard," Aragorn said with a smirk, before he sighed heavily, "Disregarding their names, these guys are really serious. They want to destroy our school and everything in it, probably so their college gets more business."

Merry nodded in agreement, before he saw a hand fly up, "Sorry, I've got to go serve."

"It's fine… anyways, we shouldn't be talking about things like this when we should be celebrating," Aragorn said. Merry wondered why they were supposed to be forgetting about the dangers when they were celebrating. For all he knew, the group of poorly named thugs could be setting off a gas bomb that would completely destroy the café and kill everybody in it.

He shuddered, before he tried to fake a smile for the customers he was taking orders for. Part of him tried to convince himself that the students wouldn't go this far, but the other part of them told him that they had already lit two old men's house on fire. That wouldn't be much of a stretch.

He looked up at the security camera closest to him. They reassured him; at least if he was going to get blown up, there would be a camera to see it happen. Well, the camera might have been destroyed in the explosion, but the footage might survive.

Merry then decided that he probably should watch less action movies and start focusing on making his cinnamon latté instead. After the drink was made, he went to go serve it, and was stopped by Radagast, asking for an 'action shot' of Merry serving.

Merry could not refuse, the smile on the man's face was too large. The customers didn't seem to mind either. Merry was just glad that Radagast had not chosen to take a picture of the couple-y couple.

For the second time that day, Merry was blinded by the flash of Radagast's camera. His eyes were just readjusting when he looked out of the window. Perhaps it was the black spots littering his vision, or perhaps it was just him being paranoid, but he thought that he saw an eyeliner-ed figure standing, just briefly, outside of the café.


Thanks to BoricuaPinkRanger, Moonlight1300, tommyginger, Wanderingidealism, phantombuggo, BrightWatcher, Daeril Ullothwen, NTSFroes, SilverMoonrise, and Quiet Hiker for reviewing!

Thanks to WTF is going on here, MH Cynogriffon, mschriber67, freakess 360, and batman100 for favouriting/subscribing.


Just a note, I might not be able to update as frequently due to the fact that I have been really sick lately. I had to go to the hospital this week, and I'm probably going to have to go again. We unfortunately don't know what's wrong yet, but I don't think I'm dying. I also have exams, so I have to study for those. Have a nice day.


Thank you for reading, and please review.