I know it's been a while, but this piece popped into my head back when I first read [livejournal.com profile] ribby's Unexpected Guest. I got the wrong end of the stick when I read it, but I liked my end, so I'm subverting her story to my own ends, to some extent. My tavern, my rules.

Title: Ripples
Author: SheBit
Rating: G
Disclaimer: These toys are all the Professors, but how we love to play with them.

Summary: Two drinkers notice something odd going on in the Tavern.

The two sat silently in a darkened corner, one smoking a long-stemmed pipe but drinking nothing, the other nursing an ale in a heavy tankard, wolf-like eyes shadowed by a heavy hood, the richness of its thread hidden in the dim firelight.

All around men drank, and one group raised their voices in a solemn call, their toast passing around the musty room as others raised their cups in salute.

The richly cloaked man was roused from his thoughts by a disapproving grunt from his companion, and glanced up at him with curious eyes.


Still unsure of his friend's meaning, he followed his gaze to the man who stood in the centre of the tavern, his tankard still raised, those about him glass-eyed with grief and memory.

His breath caught as he beheld the other man. Keen grey eyes beneath a weathered brow. Dark hair falling about strong shoulders. A mouth whispering a silent prayer of remembrance. His eyes shot back to the silver-bearded wizard, but he said nothing, still too shocked. His eyes held more questions than his tongue could ask. At length, the wizard spoke once more.

"Ripples. This place is adrift in time, Aragorn. Time is as a river - one greater even than Anduin. It flows ever toward the sea, carrying memory in its swift current. But here, here there is no river. Here time is the Great Sea itself - flowing ever in every direction and none. A droplet washes onto the shores of Anfalas, and then about the docks of Mithlond, before returning, carrying with it all that it has seen."

He broke the king's gaze to glance again at the ranger across the room.

"He is you, as you once were. And yet, he knows of things that had not passed in his time. He is a ripple, passing between the shores. Soon he will flow back into the great waves. That is the way of things here." The wizard's voice had seemed distant, carried upon the sea breeze as he spoke, but now it returned to the dark and smoky tavern, gruff but resigned. "A stupid way of doing things, if you ask me. Time used to be so much simpler."

The king smiled sadly at his old friend. "As were many things, Gandalf, as were many things."

The two figures were gone before the turn to raise a toast was theirs; one to prepare for the journey ahead, the other content to let the ranger share his grief with the men of Gondor, while he shared his with the silent stones of Minas Tirith.
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The Five Armies

May 2006

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