Back to the 30 writing challenges I’m supposed to be doing. Challenge one – rewrite a classic fairytale – is covered in a previous post, Jack, A Lad In Confusion, so I will move on to challenge two.
This challenge simply says ‘write a fan fiction’. Now, I can honestly say, that is something I have never done in my life. I have heard of them, of course. I have even read a few. But writing one myself? It had never occurred to me. I was stumped. After quite a lot of thought, I came up with the following. Taking my cue from the fairytale challenge, where I’d fused two tales together, I decided on fusing two books together. My apologies to LOTR fans everywhere, and also to fans of a certain young wizard…
Hobbits and Hogwarts
Gandalf strode back to where, ten minutes beforehand, they had briefly rested. His companions trailed behind, heads bowed, studiously avoiding any eye contact. Elvish whispers mixed with Dwarvish mutterings as they grumbled amongst themselves.
“Frodo! What are you doing? We must make haste if we are to reach the Mines of Moria before nightfall!” The wizard’s eyes gleamed, and the tip of his staff glowed as his temper rose.
Frodo sighed. Could he never get any peace? He marked the page in his book, and peered up at Gandalf.
“I’m reading. You know, expanding my mind? You should be pleased,” Frodo said. “This book is about a wizard at school. Did you ever go to a wizards school Gandalf?”
Behind the tall wizard, muffled sniggering could be heard.
“Is there anything so foolish as a Hobbit?” Gandalf spoke in but a whisper, yet still the companions flinched, as if he roared like a sun struck ogre. “Some do not know the meaning of the words ‘make haste’. Others clearly do not know when silence is the better option!”
The sniggering stopped abruptly. Merry and Pippin edged behind Aragorn, hoping the tall Ranger would deflect any more of the wizard’s wrath.
Gandalf glared at Frodo. “Get up, Master Baggins, and shoulder your pack. I do not use the words ‘make haste’ lightly.”
Frodo remained still, loathe to stir from his comfortable position. Comfort had been a rarity so far on this quest, but Frodo had managed to find it here on this mountainside. The sandy soil between large boulders cushioned his backside perfectly. His pack, after a few minutes of wriggling to and fro now supported his aching back just so as he reclined upon it. His large feet were enjoying the respite from trudging over rough terrain. A cool breeze tickled his toes, airing them nicely.
“But Gandalf, it really is an excellent book.” Frodo tapped the cover with one long fingernail as he spoke. “I feel sure you would like the young wizard Harry. And the headmaster of the school – why, he reminds me greatly of yourself. It’s almost as if the author has used you as the inspiration for the character!”
“Aye, the halfling speaks truthfully,” a rough voice interrupted. Gimli shouldered his way through the assembled group. Legolas hissed in warning. The Dwarf halted next to Gandalf, leaning on his axe as he continued.
“I have heard tell of this book. It is sweeping across the land faster than Sauron’s fell army. Only it brings joy in place of despair.”
The wizard mumbled to himself, but the glow of his stave’s tip lessened. Gimli pressed on.
“You would do well to listen to the halfling, Gandalf. Heed his words. This is a good book.”
Gandalf flashed Gimli a look that would have withered the stoutest of men, his dark eyes glowing once more. Gimli stepped back a pace.
“The day I need advice on my reading matter from a Dwarf, Gimli, son of Gloin, has not yet arrived! Learn from the two fool Hobbits – silence is best!”
Legolas stepped lightly forward and rested his hand on Gimli’s stout shoulder. The dour Dwarf grunted, but refrained from shrugging away from the lithe Elf’s touch.
“Gandalf – Mithrandir,” began Legolas, his voice light and musical in the thin mountain air. Gandalf turned his gaze upon the Elf. “As much as it pains me to agree with a mere Dwarf, the gallant Gimli is correct. This book, about the schooling of a young wizard, has brought joy to many. In these dark days a little light should always be welcomed. Is this not so?”
“Enough!” Gandalf planted his staff into the rocky ground. The ground cracked, the staff shot a lightning bolt high into the cold blue sky. The wizard’s shout echoed across the landscape, the very mountains trembled.
“And what say you two?” Gandalf stabbed a finger at Aragorn and Boromir. “Do the mighty men of Gondor have naught to say of this book?”
Aragorn met the wizard’s fierce gaze with his cool grey eyes. His countenance was calm, but inside his spirit quailed. He had been witness once before to what happened when Gandalf the Grey lost his temper. He had no wish to see it again.
“I know not of this book, or of the Harry of which it speaks, Gandalf.” Aragon was pleased to note his voice remained level, no quaver betraying the turmoil he felt within. “Maybe Boromir has heard of it in Gondor.”
Boromir shook his head vigorously. “Uh, no, not I. But I have been otherwise employed, defending my land from Sauron’s minions.” He glared at Aragorn. “I leave the reading of storybooks to children and womenfolk.” He felt it prudent not to mention his own copy of the book secreted in his pack.
“Uhm, excuse me sir, if I may?” Sam stepped out from behind Boromir. Merry and Pippin attempted to wave him away, but he ignored their flailing hands and whispered cautions. All eyes turned on him as he moved to stand before Gandalf.
“Samwise Gamgee, well well,” said the wizard. “What, pray tell, would a Hobbit gardener have to say about such a literary work? And more fool me for enquiring!”
Sam wrung his hands together, nerves getting the better of him. “I, well… Umm… I…”
Gandalf pointed his staff at Sam. “Well, what is it? Spit it out Samwise. Speak now, or forever hold your peace!” Sam flinched but held his ground.
“Begging your pardon Gandalf sir, but Master Frodo, he be right about this here book. Misters Legolas and Gimli have the right of it too.” He nodded at the Elf and the Dwarf, who nodded in return. A faint smile played on Legolas’ lips. Sam stood straighter, emboldened by their support.
“There’s many a child back in the Shire that’s read about the wizard Harry, about his friends and their adventures and such. And, well…” Sam faltered, his face reddening.
“Say what you mean to say, Master Gamgee, my patience is wearing thin!” Gandalf folded his arms and scowled at Sam. His staff stood on end of it’s own accord, standing sentinel by it’s master’s shoulder.
“Well, the headmaster – Dumbledore – he, well… he,” Sam stammered, blushing furiously. Eight pairs of eyes watched him intently. Even the chill mid afternoon wind abated, as though waiting to hear what the Hobbit would say next.
Sam took a deep breath, and spoke in a torrent of words. “Master Frodo was right. Dumbledore is just like you. I mean, you’re just like him. I mean, you’re both like for like, Gandalf sir. When I first clapped me eyes on you I thought you was Dumbledore himself, stepped right out of the pages of the book to say hello!” Sam fell silent as he ran out of breath.
Gandalf blinked. He furrowed his brow, drawing his bushy eyebrows together. He hmm’d and he ahh’d. He looked back along the way they’d come, down the mountainside at the thick forest which sat below, silent, dark and brooding. He looked along their chosen path, the high mountain pass which was their destination grey, cold and forbidding.
Sam wrung his hands. Frodo lightly caressed his book. Boromir, Aragorn, Merry and Pippin drew close to Legolas and Gimli, the companions crowding together as if for mutual support.
“So!” the wizard said at last. “I have reached a decision, after thoughts that were both long and deep. If this book is good, as both Master Gamgee and Gimli, son of Gloin, have attested.” Sam blushed once again. Gimli looked on, stony faced.
“And,” Gandalf continued, “If it is indeed a small glimmer of light in these dark days, as our Elf friend has claimed.” Legolas bowed slightly. Gandalf nodded back. “Then I believe that it will be in all our best interests to hear what it says. Maybe we all can learn some lesson from it. Not all that is dark is lost, when a light, however small, still shines.”
“And you wish to know more of this Dumbledore, as you are so alike,” Gimli growled. Gandalf gave him an evil look. The Dwarf watched the small speck of a bird soaring high above them, stoically ignoring the wizard’s gaze.
Aragorn spoke up. “If we are to listen to the story Frodo has in his book, then we had best make camp.” He looked around, his experienced eye taking in the surroundings. “This is as good a place as any.”
Gandalf spoke a quiet word and a campfire appeared upon the ground, flames crackling brightly. The companions shrugged off their packs and dropped wearily to the floor, making themselves comfortable around the fire. Legolas produced two rabbits he had slain and skinned that morning. Aragorn spitted them and hung them over the fire to roast. Merry and Pippin lit their pipes, and competed with Gandalf at blowing smoke rings. The wizard, who had plucked his already lit pipe right out of the thin air, comfortably won each round.
At last, the amicable chatter tailed off. The rabbits had been consumed, and mugs of frothing ale poured. The sun began to slip down behind the high mountain tops, and dark shadows crept in from the east. As one, the companions inched closer to the cheery, dancing flames. Gandalf tapped out his pipe, emptying the bowl into the fire, and looked across at Frodo, who had been silent for some time.
“Now then, Frodo my lad, where is this book of yours, hmm?” Gandalf’s good humour was a stark contrast to his foul temper of that afternoon. “Why don’t you return to the beginning, and read it aloud for all our ears?”
Frodo started, suddenly brought back to the reality of the evening. Good company, good food, good ale, and a warm fire had lulled him into almost believing he was back in the Shire, back in the warm confines of Bag End. But no, here he was on a lonely mountainside, in who knew what part of the land. He wished, not for the first time, that he had never seen or heard of the One Ring, that Bilbo had left the blasted thing under the mountain where he found it.
His only comfort on this journey had been reading about the exploits of the young wizard Harry, who lived in a made up fantasy land. This land contained self propelling carts called cars, and even bigger devices for transporting passengers the author had mysteriously called trains. Steam trains. Frodo’s imagination had worked hard at visualising the weird and wonderful contraptions described in the pages of the fantastic story, and he delighted at the images it produced.
But now he would have to share the book’s wonders. If Gandalf said it was for the best, then so be it. He sighed.
“I’m no good at reading out loud Gandalf,” Frodo said, glancing at all the faces peering at him in the gathering darkness. He held the book out. “I think… no, I know you’d be a lot better at it than I.”
The wizard took the proferred book and studied the image on it’s cover. He refilled his pipe, lit it, and blew out smoke which took the shape of a flying owl. He looked from face to face, interested to see eager anticipation etched on each one. Anticipation to match his own, he noted, surprised at the notion. Gandalf opened the thick volume and turned to the first page of text.
“Very well,” he intoned, “then I shall begin. Chapter One… Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say…”
The old wizard read the story of the young wizard and his school. The companions listened, entranced. The night drew on, and somewhere, in the darkest of dark places, a small light glimmered into life, casting back the pervading evil. If only for a little while.
Alen B Curtiss 2013
Curtiss Creations 2013