Bagenders – The Mince Pies

Season 3, Christmas Special

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Notes, apologies and whatnot: It might have taken us a while, but we’ve managed to get it finished in plenty of time for Christmas. It turns out that we’ve got these things called ‘deadlines’, so we’ve been a bit busy. And we know that we’ve simplified what we’ve said about which groups of Elves certain charaters belong to, but if we’d explained it properly we’d be here all night.

18th October

“Calling to order the Official Christmas Meeting.”

The Fellowship were sat round the kitchen table. Christmas (as a celebration of eating and drinking far too much, rather than anything religious) was very important to the hobbits, and as such was worth planning. The Christmas cakes had already been made in July, and Gimli had devised a drip feeder to force vast amounts of brandy into the cake.

“Merry, Pippin, is the mince pie production line ready for operation?”

“All ready. We propose a twenty percent increase in mince pie production on last year, to take into account both natural wastage in the production process-”

“Which would be you eating them-”

“-and the fact that we are expecting more visitors.”

“Yes, I am reminding everyone that we are expecting Thranduil, Boromir, Radagast and possibly the Twins.”

“The Twins?”

“The message on the answering machine went along the lines of ‘like dude, we’re like in France beep beep beep dude it needs more money beep beep beep like, where would you put the money beep beep beep I’m pressing all the buttons beep beep beep beep beep please hold the line beep yeah, like, the thing with the turkey beep beep beep we’re like – no dad, we’re not using the phone.’ Which could either mean they’re coming for Christmas, or they’ve got a turkey for a pet.”

“Where’s everyone going to sleep?”

“Thranduil gets Legolas’ room. Legolas, and possibly the Twins, go in a tent in the back garden. Radagast goes in with Gandalf. Boromir goes in with Aragorn, as long as they both promise to wear those anti-snoring strips.”

“So Boromir’s going to be incarnate?”

“Apparently the Valar have decided on joint custody.”

“Oh, great. So now we have to buy presents for someone who’s going back to the afterlife in a few weeks.”

“Just get something we can all use.”

“Christmas puddings and cakes are made, the freezer is being filled. You will all be issued with further orders closer to December. Any other matters arising?”

“Yes. Just because there is a water shortage it doesn’t mean that certain members of this fellowship can stop washing and insist that they will only drink imported beer.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1st December

Merry and Pippin woke up and were instantly disappointed by the lack of snow. They tried a couple of verses of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ to try and encourage the weather to co-operate with their Christmassy mood, but all this achieved was abuse from the rest of the house. So they went downstairs to look for their advent calendar.

Frodo had excelled himself this year. The calendar occupied a whole wall in the hallway.

“Now, there’s only one chocolate in each day, so you’re going to have to share.” yelled Frodo from the kitchen.

“Awwwwwwwww-”

“It’s a 200g bar of chocolate in each one. It’s not that much of a hardship!”

Merry let Pippin, as the younger, open the door.

“And today’s picture is – Zoe, 23, from Coventry, who is a vetinary nurse.”

“Wow. Thanks Frodo!”

Frodo smiled, in the knowledge of a job well done. Every day up to Christmas Merry and Pippin would find a different topless Page Three girl in their advent calendar.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

23rd December

The Fellowship were sitting around in tidy clothes in the living room looking respectable. They were in ‘waiting for visitors’ mode. Or at least, most of them were sitting around looking respectable, Legolas on the other hand, was rushing around the house in full Elven dress clothing trying to see to any last minute tasks that Thranduil might notice that they hadn’t done.

“Legolas, I’m sure you’ve put enough oil on those bows. And do you really need both of them?”

“I don’t know, I mean maybe I need the Mirkwood bow, or maybe I need the Lothlorien bow… he might have given the Mirkwood bow to me because I’m sure I remember getting it as a begetting present from someone, but it might have been mum, and if I got it from mum I can’t let him think that I like it, but then what if he’s fallenoutwithGaladrielandIusetheLothlorienbowand-”

Aragorn looked at him sternly. “Pick one.”

“Which one?”

“Just close your eyes and pick one.”

Legolas closed his eyes and reached out for the Mirkwood bow, but his hands slipped on the amount of oil on it and it fell on to the floor and rolled under the coffee table, so Aragorn handed him the Lothlorien bow.

“You’ve got fingerprints all over it!”

“No I haven’t, it’s dripping with oil, which you should possibly wipe off it you want to have any chance of shooting anything with it ever again. And pick the other one up before Frodo complains about what it’s doing to the carpet, he only had it shampooed last week.”

Frodo came through from the kitchen, carrying an assortment of mince pies and other christmassy snack foods arranged tastefully on the best plates. “What time are we expecting everyone?”

“Thranduil said he’d be here at eight, so he’ll be here in about half an hour complaining about the trains, the nursing home said they’d bring Radagast whenever they could be bothered and Boromir should be manifesting at about nineish.”

“I’ll put the kettle on then.”

There was a squeal of brakes in the street outside, some loud swearing and the noise of the nursing home van’s engine as it sped off into the distance. Radagast barged into the house, breaking the door chain and set the deckchair he was carrying next to Gandalf’s armchair.

“Olorin!”

“Aiwendil! What have you done with your pets?”

Radagast opened his cloak and several hairy creatures emerged. “I’ve got a few more now. And look what else I’ve got.” Radagast produced a three litre bottle of surgical spirit.

“That’s us sorted for the next few hours.”

Gandalf and Radagast performed a complicated handshake at high speed.

Frodo was looking at the pets. “I would really rather appreciate it if they didn’t live in the house. Animal hair is so difficult to get off the furniture.”

“They’re like family to me.”

“I Would Really Rather Appreciate It If They Didn’t Live In The House.”

“But-”

“Please don’t set him off before Christmas. We’ll never manage without him.”

Radagast looked at the faintly crazed look in Frodo’s eyes and backed down. “If they could just stay in the porch…?”

“As long as you clear out the litter tray.”

“Fine.”

Everyone let out a sigh of relief.

“Legolas, would you please stop jiggling your leg?”

“Am I…? Oh.”

“Why don’t you just calm down, have a cup of tea.”

“I’d rather have a cup of valium.”

There was a knock at the door. Legolas gripped the sofa so hard that his knuckles turned white.

“Legolas, do you want to answer the door.”

There was no response.

“Legolas?” Frodo waved a hand in front of Legolas’ face. “It’ll make a good impression if you answer the door.

Legolas stood up stiffly and walked to the door as if it were the gallows. Taking a deep breath, he opened it.

“Ay oop, lad. ‘Ere, I thought tha said tha were livin’ somewhere posh.”

“Err… aright, dad.”

“Am I comin’ in, or am I spending Christmas on t’doorstep?”

Legolas stepped aside to let Thranduil into the house. “Why is the hallway papered with pictures of lasses in the buff?”

“It’s an advent calendar… for the Hobbits.”

“Never did hold with things like that. Can’t say I think much of what you’ve done with the sitting room, but needs must; it was either this or spend Christmas with your mother.”

“Hello Thranduil.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Frodo, I’m a Hobbit, and this is Sam, Merry and Pippin, they’re Hobbits too. And this is Gandalf and Radagast, they’re Istari, and Aragorn.”

“I know him, round our palace all the time, eating all the food and drinking all the wine.”

“I only ever visited once.”

“Really? Legolas, who am I thinking of then? Anyway, at least you’re not still hanging round with that bloody dwarf.”

“Actually, he lives here too, he’s just at work at the moment.”

“Oh.” Somehow, Thranduil managed to express aeons of disapproval in one short syllable.

Legolas tried to change the subject. “So, how’s mum?”

“Still immortal, still bloody annoying. She’s spending Christmas with some cousins of hers who’re even more annoying than she is, I wouldn’t want you to think I’m spending time with humans, hobbits and,” Thranduil took a deep breath, “dwarves out of choice.”

“Mince pie?” Offered Frodo to diffuse the tension.

“What’s it got in it?”

“Well, um, dried fruit and sugar and spices and pastry and brandy…”

“Any bananas? I don’t hold with bananas.”

“No… They don’t normally have bananas in them.”

“That’s alright then.”

Thranduil took a mince pie and chewed on it sullenly.

“I must say I prefer homemade to shop-bought.”

“It is homemade.”

“Oh.”

Frodo decided to make another attempt at conversation. “Well, this is pleasant isn’t it?”

“Is it?” asked Merry, who received a kick in the shins for his comment.

“Yes. It is.”

They sat in silence until nine o’clock.

“When are people supposed to be incarnating?”

“Any time now, really.”

They sat in uncomfortable silence for another five minutes. Boromir may have been annoying, but at least he created conversation. Usually it was along the lines of ‘Boromir, put that down, it’s not supposed to do that and you’re just going to electrocute us all’, but it was better than spending the evening looking at the walls.

Eventually a portal opened and sounds of distant fighting emerged from it. After another thirty seconds or so, a hairy man was thrown through it with considerable force. He landed on the floor with a thud and made an obscene gesture towards the portal as it closed.

“Rohan 1, Gondor 0.” He turned round. “Evening everyone. Where do you keep the beer in this century?”

“Eomer? You’re not Boromir.”

“I know, and every time I bump into Elbereth I make sure that I thank her for that.”

“Why are you here instead of Boromir?”

“Well, me and Faramir found out about the joint custody arrangement and since neither of us wanted to spend Christmas with our wives we decided to jump him and fight it out for who gets to come through the portal. But because Boromir and Faramir are brothers and have a lot of experience of fighting each other, they were far more interested in kicking the shit out of each other and I jumped through when they weren’t looking. But more importantly, is there beer? If there’s no beer, I’ll settle for mead, but beer is what these midwinter festivals are all about.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At 2am the Fellowship awoke to a strange noise and gathered in the kitchen.

“Who the hell drives an ice cream van playing ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ round and round the same streets at 2am in the… oh no… it can’t be…”

“It’s got to be the Twins. Who else could it be?”

“Legolas, go out and flag them down before they wake anybody else up.”

“It’s a bit late for that.”

The Fellowship (with the exception of Frodo, who believed that all guests should be welcomed with food and was thus now frantically making cheese on toast) all gathered in the front garden and waited for the ice cream van to come back.

“Eomer? Shouldn’t you be wearing something more than boxers?”

“Why?”

“It’s cold, for one thing.”

“Not that cold. I don’t see why I have to wear them anyway, I never wore anything in bed in Rohan.”

Pippin turned to Merry. “See? I told you real men don’t wear undies.”

Before an argument could erupt an ice cream van came round the corner slowly. Elladan had one foot on the serving shelf of the van, and was holding on to the ‘Mr Whippy’ sign with one hand and shining a torch at house numbers with the other. He caught sight of the Fellowship and leapt off the van.

He flung his arms around everyone one in turn. “Mirkwood Dude! Big Mirkwood Dude! Little Dudes! Gondor dude! Rohan dude!” There was a slight pause as important information made it’s way through Elladan’s consciousness. He pointed at Eomer suspiciously. “Dead dude?”

“More ‘temporarily incarnate dude’.”

“Oh. Dude.” He hugged Eomer again for good measure. By this point Elrohir had managed to park (or rather abandon diagonally) the van, and went through the same greeting. Thranduil was visibly fuming. They headed towards the house, but the Twins stopped suddenly.

“We forgot something.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

They went back to the van, and retrieved an unconscious figure from halfway into one of the freezers. They put him down on the lawn and shook him a bit.

“Dave? Dave!”

“DaveDaveDaveDaveDaveDaveDaveDaveDave-”

“What?” The figure tried to focus two bloodshot eyes on the Twins.

“We’re, like, here.”

“Where’s here?”

“Where we were going-”

“You, like, said you were going to visit your parents-”

“Who like, live round here.”

“Yeah, yeah. I did. Right. Ok then.”

“Where do they live?”

“Dunno. But if I walk around it’ll come back to me.” With that Dave staggered off into the darkness.

“Are you two sure he’s going to be all right?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?”

“He’s stoned off his face, has no idea where he is, it’s December, the middle of the night and he’s only wearing shorts.”

“He’ll be fine-”

“Like, he always is.”

There was a collective shrug and they filed into the house. The Twins (and incidentally the hobbits, who were never ones to let a late night snacking opportunity go to waste) were plied with mince pies and other festive foods. The hobbits then decided to go to bed, apart from Frodo, who felt that this was a good opportunity to make a start on the next day’s cooking.

“Frodo? You really should go to bed. Really. Look, your masterplan says you have to be up at seven tomorrow and you need your sleep.”

“But I can make headway! And if I get this lot done I might even have time to make the extra four hundred mushroom vol-au-vents that Merry and Pippin want.”

“Four hundred. Now, Tell me how much freezer space, as measured by Gimli yesterday, there is left.”

Frodo mumbled into his shirt. “Four cubic centimetres.”

“And how were you going to get all those vol-au-vents into that space?”

“I was going to rearrange things, and we’ve got to defrost some more stuff now the Twins are here.”

“Frodo, you already spent six hours this week playing freezer Tetris. And anyway how many mushroom vol-au-vents are there in the two chest freezers in the fallout shelter?”

“Three hundred and forty-three.”

“Frodo, just go to bed.”

Frodo gave in and went to bed muttering “I can handle my cooking, I can stop any time I want, really…”

Legolas went back to rejoin the others in the sitting room. The Twins, Aragorn and Eomer were all piled onto one sofa, watching ‘Gladiator’ while nitpicking about fighting techniques and reminiscing. Gandalf and Radagast were playing a magical version of ‘pin the thong on the Playboy centrefold’, though neither had any incentive to win. Legolas joined Thranduil on the other sofa, sitting upright and failing to make any conversation.

After one anecdote had left the other sofa in fits of laughter Eomer looked over at Legolas, “That reminds me – remember the time when we were in Minas Tirith and got completely slaughtered on Elrond’s home brew and persuaded the Captain of the Tower Guard and the Second Marshal of the Mark to get up in drag and stand on a balustrade singing that song about the Maid from Ithilien, you know, the one with the actions.”

Legolas froze.

Eomer looked at him, puzzled. “Come on, you must remember. That was the first time you managed to persuade me that elves weren’t humourless gits.” Eomer looked at Aragorn. “Oh yeah, and you were on the terrace below, with that ambassador from Harad-”

“That was you? I knew someone must have put them up to it. Bastard!”

“It was funny though.”

“Not for me! I had to say that a lot of Gondorian women were butch and hairy.”

“That just makes it funnier. Anyway, you were the one who gave me that set of guest chairs for the Meduseld that made a farting noise any time anyone sat on them.”

The conversation continued along much the same lines, so no-one noticed Thranduil dragging Legolas out of the room by the point of an ear. He dragged him into the larder, turned the light on and shut the door.

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaad-”

“Shurrup son. I never thought I’d live to see a son of mine living with the worst sort of humans, dwarves and-” Thranduil shuddered, “Noldor.”

“They’re not proper Noldor, dad.”

“No, they’re part bloody human and that makes it worse.”

“Just because you’re a bloody speciesist who’s still stuck in the Second Age doesn’t mean you have to make me like that!”

Thranduil cuffed Legolas across the head. “Don’t you dare talk to your dad like that! Didn’t I teach you any bloody manners?”

“No, you just taught me ways of killing giant spiders!”

There was a pause. “I only ever wanted the best for you, lad.”

“Oh, so that’s why you had me out in t’forest killing spiders when I were forty-five!”

“That’s our way son, and it was the same for your brothers and sisters-”

“Which is why I don’t have as many brothers and sisters as I should have!”

“Well, we did learn after the first two. And that’s why you were one of the greatest archers in Middle Earth!”

“It was learn or die.”

“Character building. Made you what you are today.”

“Depressed and selling tea and coffee on the trains?”

“That’s not the point. We brought you up proper. Not like those degenerates in the sitting room.”

“Whose dad owns half of Scotland-”

This earned Legolas another cuff around the ear. “Money isn’t everything, lad. We were poor, but honest.”

“We weren’t either! We were moderately rich underhand bastards!”

“Yeah, but we weren’t Noldor.”

Legolas knew this was an argument that couldn’t be won, so he turned on his heel and stormed out of the larder. This resulted in a crash and large amounts of swearing as he knocked over the Twins, Aragorn and Eomer who had been listening at the door.

“We were, erm, just leaving.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The argument in the larder had resulted in Thranduil storming off to bed, and Legolas sulking in a tree in the back garden. The others had gone back to the sitting room for yet more reminiscing, but were now hungry.

“Like, we need food-”

“We should get out of the house-”

“Because, like, Frodo’s going to kill us if we eat anything out of the fridge-”

“We like, need kebabs.”

“What are kebabs?”

“You don’t know what kebabs are?”

“Noo…”

“Like, I bet you don’t know what pizza is either.”

“Noo..?”

“You need, like, cultural education about the twentieth century-”

“Yeah, and Legolas needs cheering up-”

“Does Mirkwood dude like pizza?”

“He liked it last time-”

“Yeah, but he’ll eat anything after he’s had special lembas.”

“Have you brought any with you?”

“No, like, on the way up-”

“Service stations are like so expensive-”

“And Dave was, like, really hungry-”

“So he ate some of the lembas-”

“Which made him more hungry-”

“So he ate the rest of the lembas-”

“Which made him even more hungry-”

“But only for a bit, because then he passed out.”

“Right. Come on Eomer, I’ll lend you some clothes.”

“Why does he need clothes?”

“Because wandering the streets in only your underwear is not generally acceptable.”

“Oh. Really?”

“Since when?”

“Always, just that people have generally been too polite to tell you two.”

“Oh. Ooops.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eomer had taken to kebabs like, well, Gandalf to Stolichnaya. He was more suspicious of pizza, involving far too many vegetables for his liking, but had been won over by the festive turkey and stuffing pizza (without the sprouts). They were now taking a long time meandering home, since the nearest all-night kebab shop was a very long way away.

“Legolas, why did you agree to have your dad over for Christmas?”

“I didn’t agree. The old git just wrote and told me he was coming.”

“Oh. Right. Sorry about dropping you in it.”

“S’alright Eomer. It’s not your fault. It’s their fault. He hates Noldor, why did you have to turn up for Christmas?”

“Because mum and dad and grandma threw us out.”

The Twins suddenly looked rather lost. “You wouldn’t want to make us spend Christmas on our own, would you?”

“Since ‘Christmas’ is fairly meaningless to people whose grandma is on first name terms with gods, I don’t see what the problem is.”

“Oh, like, sorry-”

“But, like, the damage is done-”

“So we might as well stay.”

“You’re probably right. It’s not like we don’t have enough food.”

Eomer was worried about Legolas. When he’d known him he was a positive (if a bit aloof, but nothing a large amount of alcohol couldn’t cure), forward looking elf, not this cowed wreck. He flung an arm round Legolas’ shoulder. “We need to boost your morale. Get you back to your old self. Aragorn, any orcs left in these parts?”

“Nope, all gone years ago.”

“What about them?”

Eomer pointed to a group of nylon be-tracksuited drunks staggering along the opposite pavement.

“Nope, not orcs. Actually human, or so I’m assured.”

One of the not-orcs heard this. “What the fuck are you saying about my fucking girlfriend?”

This was a bad idea. If there had been a bar brawling Olympics Rohan would have taken the gold every single year. And since the Rohirric concept of the afterlife basically involved drinking and fighting, Eomer had had thousands of years of practice.

So he was ready with a comeback, “Nothing, only that I’ve seen more attractive horses!”

“Just you fucking come over here and say that!”

By this point the Twins were muttering under their breath ‘fightfightfightfightfight’, and Legolas and Aragorn were debating whether to call the ambulance now or wait until someone was actually bleeding in the gutter.

“No, why don’t you come over here – oh, wait, men with small dicks can’t balance properly. Just you take your time, I’ll wait right here.”

“I’ll fucking have you!”

“So, you’re a poof as well, ah that explains it, your girlfriend’s a man.”

The tracksuited man made an incoherent noise and launched himself at Eomer, who waited patiently until he was within range before throwing a punch that knocked the man half way across the road.

“You just going to lie there?”

The next few minutes were a little confused. One of the women started screeching at Eomer, who traded insults for a bit. Then she launched herself at him, but he batted her away. Then all hell broke loose, as the entire rest of the group decided to attack Eomer. Aragorn and the Twins retired to a safe distance to observe, and give marks out of ten. After a moment’s reflection on Legolas’ state of mind they rudely shoved him into the middle of the fray.

Legolas found himself in the middle of a large scale fight, where Eomer was just about holding his own. Then a fist went past only millimetres from his nose.

“Not the face.”

That was rather the end for the pub fighters. Legolas was angry and he’d had a bad day. A few moments later they were surrounded only by groaning bodies. Eomer gave Legolas a manly slap on the back. “That’s the elf I know!”

Legolas readjusted his hair. “Are we on cctv?”

They looked round themselves and shook their heads.

“In that case, we do a runner before the police turn up.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

24th December

Those members of the Fellowship in regular employment had gone to work, in the case of Merry and Pippin, in a better mood than normal, since in today’s advent calendar was a Playboy centrefold and a kilogramme of Dairy Milk. After the events of the previous night it was eleven before Eomer crawled out of bed and demanded breakfast, while the Twins had been up for hours ‘communing with nature’, which mainly seemed to consist of playing leapfrog in the back garden. This was cheering up Legolas’ stalkers no end, but their view was slightly obscured by Thranduil, who was sat up a tree muttering about the state of the world.

After Eomer had had breakfast, then had the concept of showering explained to him, then the workings of the shower explained to him, then told that he wasn’t getting any more beer until he had a shower, he was stood in the kitchen trying to be Helpful. Since Eomer knew nothing about cooking that didn’t involve an open fire and a stick he was basically performing the role of ‘stepladder’.

Frodo was in the midst of stuffing a world record sized turkey. To assist in this he had acquired a set of vet’s shoulder length rubber gloves, and was now up to his armpit in turkey, feeling for new gaps to shove sage and onion into. Eomer was hovering in the background, ready to pull Frodo out by the legs if necessary.

At this point the doorbell rang, and Eomer jumped.

“Just the doorbell. Like knocking, but louder. Go and answer it, would you?”

“Don’t you have people to do that?”

“Yes, I’ve got you, go and answer the door.”

Eomer went and opened the door. A woman was stood outside, shaking slightly.

“Hello?”

“C- c- c- c- c- Cockroaches.”

“Yes?”

She managed to make eye contact with Eomer. “Cockroaches.”

“Are you selling cockroaches?”

“Frodo?”

Eomer turned round and yelled to the kitchen. “Frodo, there’s a woman at the door trying to sell you cockroaches!”

Frodo paused in stuffing the turkey. “You what?”

“There’s a woman who seems to know you, gibbering about cockroaches.”

“Bring her in here.”

The woman was duly shown into the kitchen.

“Sandra! I’d give you a hug, but I’m covered in giblets. Have a sit down, Eomer, put the kettle on, now, what brings you round here?”

“Cockroaches.”

“I think we heard that. Where?”

“Everywhere. Bed. Sink. Bath. Crawling. Skittering.” She tailed off and sat there, shaking.

“Can’t you get someone in to deal with them?”

“Coming on the 27th.”

“Oh, dear. Can’t you go round your mum’s?”

“No. Gone to Australia to see Auntie Susan for Christmas. Didn’t want to go because Australia’s full of creepy-crawlies. Now my flat’s full of creepy-crawlies.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll be very welcome here, Sam and I will move into Merry and Pippin’s room, and you can have ours.”

“Don’t want to cause any trouble-”

“I’m not having you spending Christmas with cockroaches. Now, if you’ve only got that handbag you won’t have any clothes, so you’ll have to go out and buy some. Eomer, will you take her out shopping?”

Eomer did a passable impersonation of a deer in car headlights. Frodo, having finished stuffing the turkey, removed the gloves with a flourish. “I’ll just have a quick word with Eomer here, and then you should be heading off so you’ve got a reasonable time to shop.”

Frodo dragged Eomer into the sitting room, where he explained decimal currency, buses, modern etiquette, the concept of lingerie (which simultaneously confused and intrigued Eomer), and the nightmare that is shopping on Christmas Eve.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Out in the back garden the Twins had decided that Thranduil needed cheering up, and were doing impersonations.

“Look, look, Thranduil, this is Galadriel-”

They both tried to look regal and ethereal, by looking up and waving their arms about like string puppets.

“And, and, this is Elrond-”

They both folded their arms and tried to look very grumpy.

“And this is Haldir-”

They ponced about a bit looking smug.

“And this is the Witch King of Angmar-”

They both pulled their shirts over their head and hissed ‘eeeeevil, eeevil’. Then one straightened up. “Dude! Like, Frodo!”

“Ooops. Right, right, we need better impersonations. Do your Julius Caesar, go on.”

“Ok then.” Elrohir cleared his throat, and stood up in stentorian mode. “Veni, Vidi, Vici! Veni, Vidi, Vici! Ner-ner-ner-ner-ner, I rule Rome! Noooooo, Brutus! Erk!” With this he dropped onto the ground and writhed in unconvincing agony for a few moments.

“Dude, he doesn’t look cheered up.”

“But, like my Caesar impression cheers everyone up.”

“Thranduil-dude? Like, what wrong?”

“What’s wrong? You pair of inbred, ill-bred, uneducated, part human Noldor bastards are asking me what’s wrong?”

“Yeah, that’s what we’re asking.”

“If you have to ask it’s not worth telling!”

“Dude, you so sound like mum. And Arwen.”

“Like, do you think he’s got PMT?”

“We could, like bring you cake, or like mince pies.”

“Bugger off.”

“No! Like, you’re a fellow elf in distress, we can’t leave you.”

“I won’t stop being in distress until you go away.”

“Why?”

Thranduil stayed silent. Then a window opened and one of Legolas’ stalkers leaned out. “Look, he just doesn’t like you. Really. I mean, read that body language. All confrontation.”

The Twins turned back to Thranduil. “You don’t like us?”

“No, I bloody well do not!”

“Why?”

“Cos, like we did impersonations and offered to bring you cake.”

“Why? Why? Did your father never teach you anything about family history?”

“Well, yeah, but we weren’t paying attention.”

“Noldor and Sindar do not get on. End of story.”

The Twins turned back to the stalkers’ house. “Scuse me?”

The window was opened once more and a head was struck out. “Yes?”

“What’s he talking about?”

“Sounds like a family feud to me. Takes ages to get over them. Two of our cousins aren’t speaking because of a broken lasagne dish five years ago. Best let him sort it out by himself.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eomer, Sandra, Merry and Pippin arrived home together. Frodo was surprised at how chipper Eomer looked, and dragged him to one side.

“How did it go? Are you alright?”

“Fine.” Eomer caught Frodo’s disbelieving expression. “Look, if you’re talking about clothes to a woman everything she wears looks lovely. It’s not that difficult. But I must admit that some of that lingerie stuff looks dangerous.”

Thranduil had deigned to come into the house to see what the commotion was about. He took one look at Sandra, muttered ‘bloody humans’ and skulked back into the garden.

“Did he just say ‘bloody humans’?”

“No, erm, bloody women. Doesn’t like them, sorry, he’s Legolas’ dad, we didn’t invite him, he just turned up.”

“He looks a bit young to be his dad…”

“His family all age well. Mince pie?”

Sandra took a mince pie. “Am I going to be the only woman here?”

“Yes.”

“Oh… erm, I mean, is everyone else here, erm, you know, I don’t like to pry, and it’s not like I mind, but…”

“Oh, no, not like that at all. Thranduil, Eomer and Aragorn are all here because they can’t stand the thought of spending Christmas with their wives. Sam’s wife died, but that was a long time ago now, and Merry and Pippin are divorced.”

“Repeatedly” added Merry.

“Yes, and I don’t know if Gandalf’s ever been married-”

“There was that time in Vegas-”

“Oh, yes, but he got that annulled as soon as he sobered up. She was a female Elvis impersonator, if I remember rightly. Legolas doesn’t really see the point in relationships. Oh, and there’s Gimli, you haven’t met him yet, he’s a bit of a dark horse.”

“What about the twins playing leapfrog in the hall?”

“Well, I’ve always assumed that they never sobered up enough to really be sure about things like gender.”

“Dude, are you talking about us?”

“No, the other twins playing leapfrog in the hall.”

“Oh, okay.” There was a pause. “Heeeeey!”

“We were asking which team you batted for.”

The Twins looked blank.

“Which way you swung?”

“Both ways-”

“Like, cos when you’re on a swing, it has to go both ways-”

“It doesn’t work otherwise.”

“No, no, we were asking about your sexual orientation.”

Both the Twins looked horrified. “It has to be orientated?”

“Like, do you need special equipment?”

“Never mind. Didn’t you say you wanted to go out carol singing?”

“Yeah! Like, we so need petrol money. We’ve been running the van off some oil this nice Chinese restaurant gave us for the last hundred miles and it smells funny.”

“Makes you want to eat wan-tons all the time.”

“Why don’t you take Merry and Pippin with you? Get them out of the house.”

“It’s cold outside and there’s food in here, don’t want to go.”

“You need the fresh air.”

“We’ve just had all the fresh air between here and the bus stop.”

“You won’t leave the house all tomorrow, and you’re all good singers and might make some money.”

This incentive was finally enough to get them to leave the house, though Frodo had to persuade the Twins to put some more clothes on, since wandering round in surfing shorts and hawaiian shirts was a little conspicuous in the middle of december.

Aragorn, Legolas and Sam arrived home just as the Twins were leaving, and just in time for the ‘Weakest Link’ Christmas special. Gimli woke up early, to try and get his body clock in synch for being awake on Christmas day.

Just before dinner the carol singers arrived back home.

“Dude, that was like, so cool!”

“Yeah! Like, we were great! Really great!”

Legolas was sorting through the understairs cupboard, in search of apocryphal lost Christmas presents, and only giving the Twins partial attention. “Really? What did you sing?”

“We’ll sing it for you.”

The Twins linked arms and began to sing, swaying in time to the music. Every harmony was perfect, every crescendo approached with gusto. After they were two words in Legolas put down what he was working on and looked at them with increasing confusion. They finished and looked expectant.

“What do you think?”

“That’s not a christmas carol. That’s the anthem of the Soviet Union.”

“But everyone we sang it to gave us money and told us how good our singing was.”

“Because most people round here don’t speak Russian. But you do.”

“It’s Christmassy!”

“Since when were lyrics about the triumph of Communism and Lenin Christmassy?”

“When we were in Moscow at Christmas they sang it.”

“And when would that have been?”

“1980?”

“Yes. So they just happened to be singing the national anthem.”

“We did sing something else.”

“Go on.”

The Twins sang again.

“You know, I really didn’t think that people would put the time and effort into translating ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ into Latin.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Later that evening Frodo and Sam were moving their things into Merry and Pippin’s room. This was after Frodo had managed to co-opt Eomer and Aragorn into battling the most fearsome laundry and crockery piles, and fighting them into specially reinforced bio-hazard bags. The room had then been hoovered and filled with air freshener. Then there was the question of the camp bed.

“Look, if you take the camp bed I have to share a bed with Aragorn.”

“Yes, but if you don’t give me the camp bed I have to sleep on this floor.” Frodo lifted his foot from the floor as demonstration. The carpet took about five seconds to gradually peel off the sole of his foot.

Eomer sighed. “You win. But if he kicks me in his sleep I will come through here and kick you.”

As Eomer and Aragorn closed the door behind them Sam noticed the list pinned to the back of it.

“Things Thranduil Doesn’t Hold With.”

They looked at Merry and Pippin. “Well, he doesn’t hold with such a lot of things we thought we’d better keep a list. Might come in useful.”

Sam read the list out. “Bananas. Advent calendars. Dwarves. Humans (especially Rohirrim). Noldor (especially the Twins). The word ‘procrastination’. Istari. Channel 5. The way Legolas plaits his hair. Marmalade. Elastoplast. UPVC windows. The word ‘flange’. Shop-bought mince pies. Home-made mince pies. Tinsel. Dwarves. – you’ve got dwarves in twice.”

“Because he really, really doesn’t hold with them.”

Sam continued. “Smoked salmon mousse. TV remote controls. Hobbits.”

“Hands up for moving before next Christmas and not telling Thranduil where we’ve gone?”

All the hobbits put their hands up.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

T’was the Night Before Christmas…

“What the hell was that?”

“I thought it was one of those modern noises.”

“No, no, definitely not. Modern noises tend to be mechanical. Not yodelling.”

“Well, go and find out what it is then.”

“Why me?”

“You live here, I don’t.”

“But this is my bed, so you can go and look.”

“Whatever it was just did it again. All the more reason for you to go and find out.”

“Why don’t we both go?”

“And lose all the bed-warmth? No, I’ll stay here and keep the duvet warm.”

“I thought you said you didn’t feel the cold?”

“I don’t, but there’s no sense in you coming back to a cold bed after getting up. You’ll catch your death.”

“But you’re already dead, so you don’t need to be warm. Cold is your natural state.”

“So’s being maggot-infested and you don’t see me inviting any of them to bed.”

“We need a compromise. We’ve done diplomatic negotiations, we can figure this out.”

“Ok, you get up and I won’t hit you. It’s still bloody yodelling.”

“No, more complex diplomacy.”

“Sword, rock, parchment?”

“Well, I was going to suggest scissors, paper stone, but we’ll do it your way.”

There was some confused movement.

“How about we do that again with the light on?”

Aragorn got up to turn on the light. Eomer grabbed the rest of the duvet and wrapped himself in it, like an overfed caterpillar.

“Since you’re up…”

“Bastard.”

Aragorn went over to the window and opened the curtains. Now he was here the noise seemed to be coming from the roof. He opened the window, leaned out and looked up.

“Dude!”

One of the Twins’ heads appeared upside down over the guttering, causing Aragorn to jump and knock his head on the windowsill.

“Ooooh, sounded painful.” The Twins vaulted in through the window.

It was at this point, with Aragorn still half out the window, the Twins half in, and Eomer dragging the duvet over to help, that Sandra and the hobbits came in.

“Erm..?”

“We heard yodelling.”

“Like, we were on the roof waiting for present-dude-”

“And we were bored, so we yodelled-”

“And we heard a noise, and saw Estel-”

“And he, like, hit his head-”

“So we came through the window to help.”

“Who’s Estelle?”

“Oh, like, that’s what Aragorn was called when he was little.”

“His parents called him Estelle?”

“No, like, our dad called him Estel.”

“Your dad? What?”

“Erm, he was fostered when he was younger, and Estel means something different where the Twins come from.”

“Where do they come from?”

“Like, this valley with trees and rocks and waterfalls and Glorfindel and flowers and plants and dad and-”

“Right, thank you.” Sandra turned to Frodo. “I don’t want to know what glorfindel is, do I?”

“Don’t worry, he’s a person.”

Legolas came in through the window.

“Do none of you use doors?”

“It was locked. The drainpipe was easier. What’s going on?”

“Like, you all have to go to bed-”

“Present-dude won’t come when you’re awake.”

There were wary looks between the rest of them. It was Sandra who broke the silence. “Aren’t you a bit old for this?”

“Like, present-dude has never disappointed us before-”

“We, like had to get used to presents coming on different days-”

“But there are always presents.”

“So, like, we want to meet this guy!”

“He must be so cool.”

“You still believe in Father Christmas?”

“Well, like, he’s got lots of different names-”

“So, if we meet him, we can ask him what his real one is-”

“So we can address his letters properly.”

Sandra took a deep breath. She looked at the others in the room, who nodded.

“Elladan. Elrohir. I hate to be the one who has to break this to you-”

Frodo grabbed Sandra’s arm. “Actually, no, look at them.” The Twins were staring unfocusedly at a lampshade and a bookcase respectively. “Could you do that to them? It’d be like kicking a puppy.”

“What’s she going to do?”

“Dude, I think she wants to kick us.”

Both the Twins tried to hide behind Aragorn. Orcs they could deal with, but they knew from experience with Arwen that girls fought much dirtier than orcs. And that kicking could be very painful.

“Erm, ok, right, I hate to be the one that breaks this to you but Father Christmas won’t come unless you’re really asleep and not pretending.”

“Oh. So no yodelling?”

“No yodelling. Sleeping.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

25th December

As per usual, the hobbits managed to wake everyone up at about four thirty in the morning. Merry and Pippin had special glam-rock pyjamas with which to start the morning by doing Slade impersonations in the hall (just in case anyone managed to stay asleep). Everyone managed to get up, and were immediately plied with bacon rolls by Frodo (keep the strength up for present unwrapping). As soon as the presents were unwrapped (which we won’t bore you with, since most of those present were people who ran out of present ideas quicker than new things could be invented) everyone disappeared to put on their Christmas clothes.

This was fine with everyone except Eomer and Aragorn, who had been given England rugby shirts. Normally this would have been a well received present, were it not for the unfortunate redesign. They were skin tight, and incredibly revealing. Both of them were very uncomfortable, and had a strong feeling that the phrases ‘rugby shirt’ and ‘visible nipples’ should not be associated.

Thranduil had retreated into a silent disapproval of everyone and everything around him, which suited everyone else, since they could just ignore him. It probably suited Thranduil as well, because, as far as they could tell, he liked Not Holding With Things.

After everyone had recovered from Christmas lunch enough to move (about 5pm) there was the air of anticlimax and boredom that always comes on Christmas afternoon. Taking the piss out of how much you could see of Eomer and Aragorn’s post-turkey beer guts only amused for about fifteen minutes.

“Let’s play some party games.”

“Chase my neighbour up the passage!”

“Pippin, do you remember the list of Forbidden Games?”

“Oh, sorry, there was that one, and beggar my neighbour, and postman’s knock, and, and-”

“Scavenger hunt, because you can’t tell the difference between scavenging and theft. And murder in the dark.”

“How about British Bulldogs?”

“No. Let’s see if we can make this two Christmases in a row where no-one ends up in casualty, shall we?”

“Tig?”

“No. Pippin Rules Tig is more dangerous than British Bulldogs.”

“Charades then?”

“Yes, on the proviso that you use no porn titles.”

“But I had a really good one worked out for ‘Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!’.”

“No.”

“We’ll go first! We’ve got a good one!” The Twins were bouncing up and down.

They started miming.

“It’s a book-”

“Lots of books-”

“And- and- a scroll?”

The Twins nodded.

“Nine words. In what language is this nine words?”

“Like, English. We’re not that mean.”

They continued to mime.

“Fourth word-”

“Constipation?”

“Lower back pain?”

“Epilepsy?”

“Wasps?”

“Fighting?”

The Twins made encouraging gestures.

“War? So it’s got war in the title.”

“Like, I think it would be easier if we mimed the subject matter.”

“Isn’t that what you were doing?”

They continued miming, including using props, furniture people and interesting acrobatics. Eventually light dawned on Legolas.

“Are you trying to mime ‘A History of the War Between Athens and Sparta’?”

“Yes!-”

“Dude, it must have been your Thucydides impersonation.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, in the Halls of Mandos…

“Why are we doing this again? I think our mere presence here has come down quite firmly on one side of the religion question.”

“Because, dear,” the word was used as a weapon, “in Rohan we always remembered Midwinter festivals. And wedding anniversaries.”

Faramir cowered away from Eowyn.

“I think what my brother was trying to say was, why today, because we don’t have much in the way of time or weather.”

Eowyn looked at Boromir. “Oh, I’m sorry, is it wrong to want to do something nice with your family for once? Oh, I remember, not in your family, your idea of a good family get together involves homicide. I know, you get your father, I’ll get some firelighters and we’ll have a good old fashioned Gondorian family get together!”

“Look, he wasn’t himself, driven out of his mind by a very evil Evil. And he’s apologised.”

“Only because you made him! If you think I’m going to forgive someone who nearly chargrilled my husband, then you have another thing coming!”

Faramir tried to be placatory. “Look, let’s not mention father, shall we? We just avoid each other now. And anyway, we’re non-corporeal and so not flammable.”

“Are those new tapestries?”

They all turned to look at Lothiriel. “No.”

“Oh. When’s my husband coming back?”

“Since he’s incarnated somewhere where there at least twenty types of beer he’s never tried before, who knows?”

“That’s good, I can get my embroidery done then.”

They ate in silence for a bit. Boromir turned to Faramir. “Tell us a story.”

“Look, you know all the old ones backwards.”

“You were in the middle of a new saga, and you stopped just at an exciting bit.”

“Oh, so I was. Right. Lord Vader stepped towards Luke Skywalker, and….”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The evening everyone was watching the tv and being fed a combination of turkey sandwiches and mushroom vol-au-vents. Or in the case of Pippin, turkey, mushroom vol-au-vent and ketchup sandwiches.

Then there was that terrible moment, dreaded everywhere at Christmas…

“Let’s all play Trivial Pursuit!”

“In teams! I’m not playing on my own.”

“There aren’t enough pieces anyway.” Frodo had got the box out and was starting to set it up. “Right, I’m assuming the normal teams; me and Sam, Merry and Pippin; Legolas and Gimli; I suppose Radagast and Gandalf, you can play together, but not cheating!”

“Us? Cheat?”

“Would we do such a thing?”

“Yes, repeatedly. Anyway, the Twins can be a team, so can Aragorn and Eomer. That’s six, and we’ve only got six pieces-”

“I’ll be on your team, Frodo.” said Sandra, possibly a bit too quickly.

“So what team do you want to be on, Thranduil?”

Thranduil was seething again. “You’re rather implying I’d be happy to be on a team with any of these… things. I never thought I’d see my son taking the side of a dwarf against his father!”

“Right, you take that back right now!” Thranduil had been getting up Sandra’s nose since she’d first met him, and this was the final straw. “How dare you speak like that! None of us can help how we’re made, and quite frankly I’d rather be him than you!”

“At the point that I’d ever take advice from a woman-”

Thranduil was cut off by a stinging slap across the face from Sandra. He sat there, completely shocked. then he pulled himself together.

“Right son. You’re disowned. I’m leaving now, get my suitcase from upstairs.”

“There’s no trains till the 27th, dad.”

“Oh. Right. Well then. You’re still disowned, but I can’t leave.”

“How many times is this that you’ve disowned me now? Seven? Eight?”

The circular argument continued as Sandra went to talk to Gimli.

“Are you alright?”

“Och, I’m fine. Seems I only get talked to to be insulted.”

“Oh, I know the feeling. Why do you put up with it?”

“Deep down, they’re all good people. Apart from Gandalf.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

26th December

The paper had been cleared up, the turkey fricasseed, the sprouts hurled into the dustbin and everyone was bored again. Frodo strode into the living room, determination written across his face. Outside, the temperature dropped by three degrees and the wind picked up.

“We are going for a walk.”

“Oh, no we’re not.”

“It’s Boxing Day, you’ve all eaten far too much, you haven’t been outside in over twenty-four hours, so you’re all going for a walk.”

“We’ve got things to do.”

“Such as?”

“Well, Pippin and I were thinking of Power Napping. It sounds interesting.”

“Walk, then nap.”

“But it’s all concrete and-”

“We’re going to the park, Aragorn.”

“We should go riding instead.”

“No, walking. No horses, ok? Right, everyone, wrap up warm, don’t forget hats, scarves and gloves, and be at the front door in five minutes. And that includes you two.”

Gandalf and Radagast looked utterly shocked. They both rather assumed they were operating under diplomatic immunity.

“We are elderly wiz-”

“Bollocks. Up and out!”

After much cajoling, threats and abuse they were all eventually lined up outside the house. Gandalf was in his wheelchair, and Radagast was busily harnessing his various pets to the front of the chair.

“What are you doing?”

“Boxing Day Hunt. Traditional. Tally ho!”

“It’s not traditional in a wheelchair in suburbia.”

“Most foxes are now suburban.”

“I thought you liked animals?”

“I do.”

“Then why are you going to chase down and rip apart a fox?”

“Rip apart?” Radagast looked horrorstruck. “No! It’s been lonely since Basil died, and my neck’s cold. I need a new fox to keep my neck warm. I take very good care of them.”

“Oh. Erm, that’s nice for you.”

Radagast climbed onto the back of the wheelchair and pulled out a hunting horn. He blew a call, yelled “View Halloa!” cracked his whip and they were off.

“How long do you give them before they’re arrested?”

“An hour, tops.”

They started walking. After about ten feet Merry and Pippin managed to persuade the Twins to carry them. They finally managed to make their way to the park.

“Why are you throwing bread at the ducks?”

“Because. It’s what we do.”

“Ah, I see, fattening them up for later.”

“No, we just feed them.”

“This century is downright weird.”

Sandra turned to Frodo, after listening to this exchange between Eomer and Aragorn. “What is he on about?”

Frodo sighed. “Look, I come clean. We’re all immortal, we’re all at least six thousand years old, only Aragorn and Eomer are even human, and up until a couple of days ago Eomer was dead, he’s just visiting for Christmas from the afterlife.”

Sandra paused, then laughed. “That’s dead good, you should do stand-up, you know. But I think the not human bit’s going a bit over the top. Oh, yeah, and why are Legolas and his dad talking to trees?”

“They’re not talking to trees. They’re bitching to trees about each other.”

“Ok, why are they bitching to trees?”

Frodo considered the truth, then decided against it. “They’re hippies. Releasing the bad feeling back into nature.” Although Frodo had a feeling that Legolas was hoping to persuade a tree to drop something heavy on Thranduil.

“Ah, that explains it. Is that why they don’t get on, ‘cos Legolas is a corporate sellout?”

“Nah, I think they don’t get on because Thranduil’s a bit of a bastard.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few days later Eomer had been ‘persuaded’ (read: threatened with terrible, horrific tortures of his immortal soul) to return to the Halls of Mandos. He was wandering along past the various halls of his, and other people’s, ancestors, carrying large amounts of beer (or possibly the celestial souls of beer) and humming to himself.

Then he suddenly felt an arrow-point at his neck and a sword point at his groin.

“Welcome back, Eomer.”

“Oh, shit.”