20. The Smell of Smoke
“There's not that much to tell,” Lina said reluctantly, staring up at the ceiling. She had been cornered by a group of girls the moment she had entered the lecture theatre with Aragorn (who had also been quickly cornered, but a few hard glares from the mini-Balrogs had chased most of them away), and her unwillingness to say much had only piqued their interest. By dinnertime nearly every girl in the University (and some of the boys) had been by to ask and pry for details.
A few even tried to bribe her to get the room location of their favourite. She'd been offered everything from free massages to nail polish, but she'd had no urge to tell. Strange, that. Just a few weeks ago she would probably have told anyone so many times they'd start to hate the story.
“Oh, you're hopeless! You spend a whole night there and tell me there's not much to tell? Did Caesar go to England and went 'I came, I saw and there was nothing much to see'? I think not. Tell us, you evil being.”
“I slept most of the time.”
“You're impossible,” Dot sighed, and patted little BreadLegs who was trotting about on the floor, looking as happy as always and licking butter from the buttercup.
“I just didn't feel like sharing with the whole University, okay? It's…” she waved her hands. “It's like you don't share with anyone when you have little perfect moments, right? Because they wouldn't understand why it's perfect.”
“You're being odd.”
“Maybe I am,” Lina replied softly. “Come on, we have an essay to write. Shit, I have two. Sauron gave me one and I better get cracking on it. Let's head for the library.”
Truth be told, she wasn't quite sure what to tell. She felt dazed, and would catch herself fingering the chain around her neck every now and then. It felt so… Complicated, yet simple.
Hoo boy. Best to bury herself in Elven history for a while, or Elrond would duck her in mushroom scent (thus insuring a stream of hobbits following her wherever she went).
Dot followed reluctantly, probably remembering Elrond's threat. Sometimes the Elf Lord was worse than Sauron, which was saying a lot. It shouldn't really be humanly possible to be worse than Sauron, but then again Elrond was no human.
There was a slight ruckus at the library, with Jera and Rain fighting over a gardening book ('Become Master Gardner In Three Difficult Steps') and Syndarys mistaking Tex for Pippin (“Hobbits look the same when viewed from above!” the Elf girl vigorously defended herself with)
Then the hobbit versus elves paper fight broke out, and all the humans could do, was take cover. And as always, fights drew in the Dark Lords like Tom Bombadil to a poetry reading. Morgoth sided with the hobbits (their species was after all ultimately responsible for the fall of Sauron) while Sauron rallied some of the human girls and a few from the Sisterhood of Evil. It didn't take long for the library to look like a battlefield, little towers of books everywhere.
Lina joined the hobbits just for good measure, enjoying throwing paper balls at some of the girls that had been pestering her earlier.
Of course the fun abruptly ended when the Librarian walked in and gave them all detention and set them all to clean up the mess (except Sauron and Morgoth, who split faster than you could say 'Hey, shouldn't you two help as well?').
“Hey, Dot, have you ever thought about who's Headmaster here?” Lina asked as she and Dot were sorting through some of the thrown books.
“You mean it isn't Gandalf?”
“No. He's assistant headmaster, I think.”
Dot shrugged, then picked up BreadLegs. “I'll take it for a walk, maybe I'll lure Legolas out. He liked your pet, right?”
“Yeah. Just keep it out of the toilets,” Lina cautioned. She really didn't want to be reminded of the whole Witch-Wall business (although she had the funniest feeling she would be, in some weird manner).
The library slowly emptied, soon leaving only Lina (who had an extra blasted essay to write). She heard someone else walk in, but did not really pay much attention until she smelled smoking. It was a distinguishable enough smell, reminding her of her grandfather. Pipe weed.
“Staying up late, Lina?”
She lifted her head, but couldn't really tell where the voice came from.
“Yeah…” she said hesitantly. A thought struck her. “You're the Headmaster, aren't you?”
“You can call me that,” the voice said again. “Are you enjoying my world?”
“I think it's wonderful,” fell out of her before she could think. “Except that it has a lot of painful things in it. And how no one has killed Tom Bombadil yet I'll never understand.”
“Oh, he's harmless,” the voice sounded amused, and Lina thought she detected a puff of smoke coming from the shadows.
“Have you heard his poems?” she replied.
The man chuckled, and this time she was sure she saw his pipe lit up.
“Consider it – payback.”
She almost thought she heard a chuckle, then the door opened and closed again and she was alone in the library.
Only the smell of pipe weed lingered in the air for a long time.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.