title: All Hallows Eve
author: undonne
characters: Shadows of Real People (sort of). I know – see ‘warnings’
rating: G

warnings: Involves two characters who bear strong resemblances to 'Real People'. I know that we won’t be doing RP in this community, but [livejournal.com profile] shebit gave me permission for just this one story because of who they are.

disclaimer: they aren’t really them of course, our players are simply shadows appearing on this peculiar stage. The RPs belong to themselves, and this (alas) never, ever happened. Middle Earth and all its wonders belong to the Professor.

Author’s notes: two strangers wander into the pub from a very long way away on a dark October afternoon



Two men made their way up the street side by side, shoulders hunched against the cold. Their collars were turned up against the blustery wind, their hats pulled well down to shield their eyes from the rain that lashed down from a slate-dark sky. The bells from the church towers were just chiming one o’clock on this afternoon, the last day of October. They walked swiftly, and somewhat grimly, through the water that washed over the cobbled way. Even though they walked side by side, they did not speak.

Suddenly the stocky figure on the right stopped. “This is abominable, Tollers. My boots are soaked through. If the others weren’t waiting…..”

“But they are. It’s Monday, Jack,” said the other man, his voice patient, as if reasoning with a somewhat recalcitrant child. “Come along. There’ll be fire and food and beer soon enough.”

A smile broke over the other man’s ruddy face, even as a large drop of water escaped the rim of his hat and fell into the gap between his loosely knotted tie and his neck. “True. And another chapter. Yes?”

“Yes, I've gotten them to Moria….” Suddenly a particularly fierce gust of wind almost blew the thinner man’s hat off, revealing a glimpse of pale skin, beaked nose and intelligent eyes. He impatiently clapped it back onto his head and pulled down the brim.

“Blast. Let’s get out of this. We’re almost there.” He drew the other man around the corner onto St. Giles Street. The rain was falling even more heavily now, a veritable deluge that obscured his vision. Tolkien knew the way by heart, though, so many Mondays had he spent with his friends at their favorite pub. It was only four more doors down on the right side of the street. Number 42.

“Here.” He pushed open a door that seemed somehow heavier, and much larger and creakier, than he remembered it.

His friend had stopped stock still behind him, squinting up through the rain at the pub sign.

“But, Tollers, look… this isn’t….”

“For heaven’s sake, Jack, come in.” Tolkien was wet, cold and exasperated. He reached back, grabbed onto one sleeve of his companion’s shabby tweed jacket, and pulled. Having hauled Lewis inside, he pushed the heavy door shut. He shook the worst of the water off his hat and turned around.

“I tried to tell you.” The voice at his elbow was low and amused. “It’s not the Bird and Baby. Sign says it’s the Five Armies.”

In spite of the evidence before his eyes, Tolkien said, “Nonsense. I know this street like the back of my hand….” His voice trailed off. It was not, in fact, the Bird and Baby. The walls and ceiling were darker, the room larger. The atmosphere was even smokier than their usual haunt, if that was possible. The space before him was lit only by candles here and there and a flickering fire in the fireplace on the far wall. But that wasn’t all. The people, or, rather …. He squinted into the gloom.

“We’d better sit down and try to blend in,” Jack Lewis said quietly. “Besides, wherever this is, they seem to have beer.” He led the way to a table in a dark corner close to the door. Luckily, the attention of most of the denizens of the pub was focused on a tall man standing by the fireplace, his tankard lifted in the midst of what seemed to be an elaborate toast to something or other. They settled down in heavy, curved chairs made of dark wood.

“Jack, look.” Tolkien jerked his head very slightly toward the next table, careful to avoiding gesturing or staring.

“Dwarves. Yes.” Lewis kept his voice low and his eyes on Tolkien’s. “Did you see the axes on the floor?”

“Look, you don’t think…?” Tolkien stopped, aware that what he was about to say sounded demented.

“I do think. Look at those black and silver uniforms over by the fireplace.”

Tolkien cast a surreptitious glance toward the fireplace, closed his eyes, then looked again.

“In my experience, Oxford also has no elves,” Lewis continued, tilting his head ever so slightly to the second table down on the left. “Where else could it be?”

“Middle Earth? Nonsense.”

“Didn’t you read your Sherlock Holmes when you were a boy, Tollers? He said that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.”

Lewis took out a pipe from a jacket pocket, looked in his other pocket for matches, and proceeded to light it. After two puffs, he continued. “Proposition A: Oxford possesses none of the following classes of beings: dwarves, Gondorrim soldiery, elves. Proposition B: Contrary to Descartes, I am certain that I am too wet to be dreaming. If neither ‘A’ nor ‘B’, then….”

He broke off when he saw that a large, bald man with an apron wrapped around his ample middle was standing beside them. The man's mouth smiled, but his eyes held wariness and curiosity. “Where do you gentlemen hail from? And what can I get you?”

After a slight hesitation, Tolkien sighed. “We are from… Bree.”

A muffled sound, somewhere between a snort and a laugh, came from Lewis, who quickly turned it into a cough, waving his pipe as an excuse.

Tolkien steadfastly ignored him. “Two pints, please,” he said.

~ to be continued ~

Another author’s note: thanks to [livejournal.com profile] makamu who gave me some pointers on geography. She has actually been to the Eagle and Child :envious sigh:
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