Bagenders – The Shadow of the Past

Season 1, Episode 2

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Disclaimer: JRR Tolkien owns all the characters used here: have just borrowed them, will be returned in almost working order. Debt to ‘Father Ted’ in the characterisation of Gandalf. General situation debt to the ‘Young Ones’. Evil Harry Dread, the Stupid Lizard Men and the obscene song about the hedgehog all belong to Terry Pratchett. At the Sign of the Dog and Rocket out of obscure children’s book of same name.
Rating: PG-13 (comedic violence; flatmate strife; language; sideboards and garden gnomes) Reviews: yes please, please or else it means we have to revise/work.
Story notes: An AU where the fellowship become immortal, and end up living together in the house share from hell (story is semi-autobiographical, so help me god). Based on both movie and books, hence strange attempts to write Merry and Pippin’s accents. Would help to read in order.

“And of course the advantage of this over other types of milking machine…”

Gimli had had a bad nightshift, and that meant ‘Farming Today’ (5am on BBC Radio 4 for those of you not familiar with that hour of the day) at full volume from the kitchen. Aragorn awoke and realised that while he had been deprived of sleep his knowledge of agricultural technology had been increased without his consent. Legolas was already sat bolt upright and looking about as disgruntled as an elf can; elves may not need sleep the way humans understood it, but they most definitely did not need ‘Farming Today’. Legolas looked exasperatedly at Aragorn “Its not even as if he’s a farmer.”

A few hours later when Aragorn sat down at the breakfast table he was already not having a good day, so when Frodo cheerfully put a full fried breakfast with all the trimmings (black pudding, white puddingand haggis) down in from of him he had to fight the temptation to stick various parts of it where the sun didn’t shine. This was not helped by the fact that Frodo, having recently recovered from his last psychotic episode, was in an unusually good mood and bouncing around the kitchen humming hobbit walking songs.

After taking three attempts to start the landrover Aragorn eventually got to work where things were not going to get any better. The most over-excited class of seven-year-olds were waiting to be shown the wonders of nature and pull its legs off. Orcs, he could deal with, Uruk-hai, and on a good day even the Nazgul, but a school trip was beyond even the former king of Gondor. By the way they were acting he managed to deduce that they had been given large amounts of sugar on the bus journey because it was either that or hard drugs, and most primary teachers don’t carry hard drugs (except for personal use, obviously).

Aragorn was relieved to have successfully shepherded them around the forest, managing to stop them from stepping on or killing anything too rare and got the same number back onto the bus as got off it. This was not out of any parental instinct, but the forest was his territory and having lost hyperactive children in it worried him about as much as the time in the Middle Ages when Evil Harry Dread had taken up residence in his cow byre after one of his Stupid Lizard Men burned down the Shed of Doom. It was quite embarrassing for an ex warrior for the forces of good to have one of his outbuildings turned into the Evil Byre of Terror, but Aragorn felt so sorry for Harry that he didn’t have the heart to move him on. And there was definitely room for the cows in one end of the great hall. Arwen hadn’t been terribly happy though…

So now he was going to give up. He found his thermos in the back of the landrover and using his ranger powers to their full extent he hid in the forest, hoping that there were no squirrels intent on making his life any worse. Not that that would have been an easy task.

Back in the house the hobbits were coming home from work (shockingly, Merry and Pippin still seemed to be on course for holding down a job long enough to get paid) and found Frodo sat on one of the kitchen chairs very still, staring at the table. They paused inside the door; Sam cautiously approached him and in a soft and above all non-threatening tone of voice said “Frodo…? Are you feeling alright?”

Then their eyes followed his gaze to the object on the table. An airmail letter. With a New Zealand postmark.

“Oh no,” murmured Pippin.

“We’ve got to hide,” said Merry.

“Sideboard,” said Frodo blankly without taking his eyes off the envelope.

The four hobbits slipped into the sitting room being careful not to wake Gandalf who had reclined his chair and was asleep in it, snoring like the fires of Mount Doom when Sauron was in residence. There was considerably more room in the sideboard now as Sam had removed all the glasses, reasoning that the best way to save the money they often spent replacing them was to put them somewhere else.

Legolas arrived home a few minutes later dressed as Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice post-swim. Well, no, that’s a blatant lie, but it’s a lot more fetching than his polyester work uniform. He went into kitchen and was confused by the fact that in a house which at this time of the day should have four hobbits in it, none of them were either cooking or eating. Then he listened, his elven hearing picked up voices coming from…the sideboard? (This of course was over, or indeed under, Gandalf’s volcanic snoring) He went into the sitting room and addressed the relevant piece of furniture. <p”frodo?” <p=””>”It’s alright, I’m fine. Sam’s in here with me.”

“And me.”

“And me.”

“Wh – ” began Legolas before the hobbits replied “Look on the kitchen table” in whispered unison.

Legolas looked back into the kitchen and cursed his elven eyesight as he saw the envelope.

“Room for one more?”

At this point Merry burst out of the sideboard gasping “No, there I’n’t room for one more and there i’n’t enough oxygen for the four in here already. We need another plan.”

The other end of the sideboard opened and Frodo stuck his head out suggesting: “There’s always behind the sofa.”

When Aragorn arrived home later (and later than was usual because of the roadworks) that afternoon there were four hobbits and an elf hiding behind the sofa and Gandalf in a different position from before, snoring a little more quietly but drooling onto the carpet. Aragorn, however did not see any of this as he headed straight for the kitchen to make some coffee. This didn’t help much as the kitchen was designed for the members of the household who did most of the cooking: the hobbits. After doing creatively painful things to his back he sat down at the apparently oversized table and saw The Letter.

He stormed into the sitting room and sat down in the sofa, causing everyone who was cowering behind it to yelp. He stood up again and looked behind it into the five terrified, pointy-eared faces.

“I think you should leave.”

They nodded gratefully and headed for the door. As they reached it Merry shouted back “Gandalf? Tha comin t’pub?”

“FECK OFF!”

“Fine, on your head be it. Aragorn just got a letter from Arwen,” said Legolas.

He shut the door and turned round to see Gandalf at the front gate complete with hat and staff.

“Which pub?”

Aragorn stared at The Letter, but The Letter didn’t stare back. Arwen. It had all gone horribly wrong. Well, the relationship had worked well for a few thousand years, but you know how it is. People change and drift apart. Or rather Aragorn had drifted apart. Arwen saw it somewhat differently, and now there were issues. Emotional blackmail from three continents away, dredging up things that happened 5 1/2 thousand years ago is unreasonable. Using the remains of their children as pawn in this was not fair. He was really never going to forgive her for donating two of them to the British museum. They were two cases along from bodies preserved in peat bogs. It was just so undignified. And train tickets to London are not cheap (Legolas had refused to claim that Aragorn was his live in lover to get a staff discount). There was nothing for it – he was going to have to read it.

Inside the ‘Dog and Rocket’ (one of the few pubs none of them had been barred from). Pippin was standing on a bar stool attempting to get served.

“Look, its no a fake ID. Jeest because I’m only 4 feet tall doesnae mean I’m ten years old. Have you got a problem wi’that?”

Pippin was looking threatening, so Frodo hurried over to prevent them being barred from yet another pub.

“Is there a problem?”

“Yeah. Fake ID. You can all take yerselves back to playgroup, not down the pub.”

“Discriminating against those with genetic disorders could be construed as something we could sue for. Look, we both have ID; do I look ten to you?” Frodo was aware of not having the barman’s full attention, and turned round to see Legolas wrestling with Gandalf to prevent him using his staff in public. There was a thump as they both fell off their chairs. Frodo improvised hastily. “My friends are not terribly happy with this you know. He hardly ever gets a day out you know, are you going to deny him his pint as well?”

Gandalf started cursing, in various dead languages. Amid streams of elvish that were making Legolas gape and blush the word “Drink!” was being repeated in an increasingly desperate tone of voice. The barman looked sympathetic. “He’s with you?”

Frodo nodded. “He lives with us. I’m his, his…” he cobbled together a story, aware that Pippin was looking at him with his mouth open. “Carer. Yes, I’m his carer. He’s… an old professor, of, of Philology. It gets to them all in the end.”

The barman sighed, “Anything for a weird life” and began to get the drinks. Gandalf visibly calmed down. Legolas looked at him sideways and realised at that moment there was only way he was going to keep his sanity. He was going to have to get Gandalf put into a home.

Back in the house Aragorn was on the phone. Arwen had lost her latest modelling job and was trying to get maintenance money. Aragorn’s argument that she had already in the first part of the year earned more than he was likely to earn over the whole of the year was not cutting much ice. Incoherent elvish screaming was coming down the phone at him. The latest threat was Anduril was going to be left out in the rain to get rusty and then used as a poker. When they had separated Arwen had taken the precaution of acquiring everything Aragorn owned (with the exception of his clothes, but only because they were the wrong size). Previous financial woes of Arwen had led to the Palantir being sold to a ‘Madam Gypsy Rosie’, a fortune teller who had unexpectedly got a hell of a lot more accurate, and his relics of St.Francis (a personal friend) to TV evangelist. After 10 minutes of elven screaming from both ends Arwen slammed the phone down. Aragorn sat staring into space. It was at times like this he could really do with going to hunt some orc.

In the pub several drinks have been consumed. And then several more. The company were now being seen as some kinds of floor show by the rest of the pub – except not too close. Gandalf had over the long years developed an unusual smell, which was not exactly offensive but was unaccountably disturbing. The Fellowship, through close contact had grown immune, although when Gandalf first moved in it was particularly distressing for Legolas’ elven sense of smell. His gift of bubble bath had been totally ignored. Pippin was singing an obscene song about a hedgehog being the luckiest of all the animals. Merry was having issues with the floor and the concept of ‘vertical’. Sam was having issues with Frodo, who was declaring to all and sundry “You’re my best friend you are”. Despite Legolas’ best efforts Gandalf had moved onto the whisky chasers after the first pint and was now propping up the bar and attempting to chat up anything with breasts. Gandalf was being surprisingly successful – but then he did have magic powers. Legolas just wanted to be swallowed up by a hole in the ground: flock wallpaper was one of the few things elves could not camouflage themselves against. It was time to take action.

“I think that it’s time to go home.”

Sam nodded in relieved agreement. Gandalf objected, and Pippin stopped mid song and said “Oanly if we can go back via the offie and the kebab hoose.”

Legolas sighed. If that was what it took to get them out of the pub, so be it. Next time he would leave them at the pub and go to the cinema. More specifically the Art house theatre, for un-subtitled foreign language films. The one place he knew he would never meet any other members of the Fellowship. Well, if he avoided the ones involving deshabilleL (of course, being lovely and intelligent he can use long foreign word like this. Naturellement). Not understanding a word of the dialogue did not seem to put Merry and Pippin off those films.

They arrived home with bags clinking with strong cheap alcohol, which bore a close resemblance to drain cleaner. The hobbits and Gandalf were attempting to eat kebabs, but mainly failing to eat kebabs. Frodo, for reasons best known to himself had one arm round Sam’s neck and had given up on his own kebab and was attempting to eat Sam’s. Gandalf took advantage of this situation to pinch Frodo’s kebab.

“Hey!” Frodo was finding focusing that high up somewhat of a problem. “You stol’ m’kebab, bassard!”

“Do you take me for a stealer of cheap Kebabs!” Gandalf attempted to make himself look tall and scary, but the effect was lost with the amount of swaying that both he and Frodo were doing. Sam, ever conscious of Frodo’s somewhat fragile mental state kicked Gandalf hard in the shins. Gandalf raised his staff “I think it is high time I finally turned you into something… unnatural, Samwise Gamgee!”

This would have all gotten very nasty had Merry and Pippin not chosen that moment to simultaneously be violently and noisily sick over the next door neighbour’s prized garden gnome collection. A silent mutual decision was made to forget their differences and get inside before they were on the receiving end of a ballistic, vomit covered garden gnome.

Merry and Pippin were sent to clean themselves up, while the others went into the sitting room, where they found Aragorn on the sofa, clutching an empty bottle of cherry brandy, which was the only alcohol which had been left downstairs, being too disgusting even for Gandalf to drink. Gandalf resumed his chair and turned the TV on to his customary late night Channel 5 soft porn. Legolas sat down beside Aragorn, took away the brandy bottle and put his arm gently around his shoulders. Aragorn threw himself at Legolas, buried his face in his chest and started wailing and sobbing. Legolas somewhat at a loss of what to do patted him worriedly on the back, and looked meaningfully at Sam who dragged Frodo out of the room.

“All elves are BASTARDS!”

Legolas decided to let this one pass.

Aragorn did yet more wailing and sobbing, but began to calm down a little. He looked up at Legolas with red eyes and a runny nose. “Where di’ it all go wrong? How di’ m’life end up li’ this? I used to be a king y’know, now look at me. You w’there. Coronation. Pretty. Coronation pretty, no’ you pretty. Arwen pretty. The bitch! Where di’ it all go wrong?”

“For you, about the year 1700 I think.”

“Shut UP Gandalf” said Legolas. “Aragorn, you’re too drunk for this. You’re going to bed.” This was at least partly to stop him wiping his nose on Legolas’ uniform which he was going to have to wear again tomorrow.

The Morning After The Night Before:

There was no bouncy Frodo at breakfast that morning. In fact there was no Frodo. Or Sam. Or Aragorn for that matter. Merry and Pippin, hangover free, therefore used this opportunity to have breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses and lunch all in the one sitting. Legolas came in and looked for the muesli, one of the few foods safe from hobbits. “Where’s Sam?”

“Frodo.” Answered Merry indistinctly through his fried egg and dorito sandwich.

“Uhuh. I’ll phone in sick for him. When you go back upstairs tell him if anyone asks he’s got flu. As has Aragorn, but I think it would be better to leave him a note…

Upstairs Aragorn, former Ranger of the North, former king of Gondor, Isildur’s heir, employee of the Forestry Commission dreamt of elven genocide…

NOTE: For people not speaking French deshabille means not wearing anything. Nudge nudge wink wink.