Christmas at the Prancing Pony

by Peregrine

Christmas had come once again to the Prancing Pony. Long strings of green holly and brilliant red branches hung from the rafters. The air smelled of pine, cider and pumpkin pie. Candles winked on every table and the bar was ladling out mug after mug of egg nog. Laughter filled the air as the many patrons of the Pony huddled around the fire or sat at the tables, sharing jokes and stories. Many were the people within—some human, some Hobbit, some Elven, some Dwarven. Scattered among them were stranger things yet—a King of Mice, a falcon Captain, a flipping super-cat—perhaps, a goat, perhaps even a blob…multitudes of strange and familiar faces filled every spare inch of the inn.

The Fellowship was there, too, along with others—and they were dressed especially for the occasion.

Gandalf wore his best white robes. His shoes, also white as new fallen snow, had tiny holly plants and gold bells tied to them. He jingled every time he moved.

Aragorn was magnificent to behold in his crushed-velvet shirt of deepest red and black pants. The cloak thrown over one shoulder was the deep green of a pine forest. Arwen, standing close to him and sipping at her cider, wore a dress of red velvet to match his shirt.

Faramir and Eowyn each wore silken clothes of silver and gold, the pair all but glowing as they stood beneath the mistletoe. Most people decided it was best to leave them to themselves...

Eomer, standing with a mug of spiced cider, was dashing in his black gold-embroidered tunic and pants. A gold belt ran around his waist and his long hair was pulled back in a golden ponytail, tied by a red silk ribbon. Many a woman swooned over him, the Rohirrim making a point to ignore them all.

Boromir and Theoden, too, were there, chatting merrily in a corner about the best ways to make a scene. Boromir wore his belt of golden leaves over a green tunic and black pants. Theoden wore a deep blue tunic with silver embroidery forming a rearing horse upon his breast.

The Hobbits each wore their finest clothes—and each had a set of stuffed antlers perched atop his head. Laughing like children, Merry and Pippin chased each other around the inn—each trying to snatch the others’ antlers off. Frodo and Sam stood sipping egg nog with Rosie and the Gamgee children. Frodo laughed merrily while watching the duo race around, his own antlers tipped at a jaunty angle. Sam merely sighed and shook his head at the sight, he trying to ignore his own pair of antlers. Every one of the Gamgee children also had their own pair of mini antlers.

Bilbo was somewhere over by the bar, getting his third glass of egg nog—the adult kind. Needless to say, he was an extremely joyful Hobbit.

Gimli was dressed as Santa, his regular suit of chain-mail and heavy boots replaced by a brilliant red outfit with fur-lined hat. He ho-ho-hoed merrily, swinging his axe like a toy. People were wise to give him wide berth. He had already taken out a table and had given it no notice.

The only one missing was Legolas. He was still hiding in the bathroom where he had been for the past half hour. No one had even seen him. As soon as the Fellowship had arrived, he had dashed for the back and hadn’t come out since.

Gandalf was beginning to get irritated. Gimli and the Hobbits were pulling their bit as Santa and his reindeer—so there were a bit more then eight…at least they were tiny. The least Legolas could do was make an appearance.

Ungrateful Elf.

Gandalf glanced over at Aragorn.

“Has he come out yet?” he asked the Gondorian King. Aragorn shook his head. Arwen, standing with her arm through his elbow, looked toward the bathrooms.

“Is he all right?”

“Oh, I’m sure he’s fine. He’s just a coward.” Gandalf muttered and marched to the back of the room. He took no notice of the fact that the Pony had suddenly quieted a bit, everyone watching him and waiting for him to drag Legolas back out.

Stopping at the bathroom door, Gandalf pounded on the door with his staff.

“Occupied!” a voice called from inside.

“I know it is, you idiot!” Gandalf barked. “You’ve been hiding in there since we got here! Now you’ve had your fun—so get out!”

At first there was no sound, and Gandalf was beginning to think Legolas would just not answer. But then, from the other side of the door, there came a soft little, “no.”

“No?” Gandalf shouted, surprised by the Elf’s refusal. “Why not?”

“Because I look like an idiot.” Legolas told him.

“Of course you look like an idiot--you keep acting like an idiot!” Gandalf shouted back. “Now get out!”

“No!” Legolas shouted back.

“You get out this instant!” Gandalf roared, causing the rafters to shake, “Or so help me—I’ll blow down the door!”

Legolas seemed to consider this a moment. Then he sighed.

“Fine.” Legolas said, the bathroom door cracking open. He stepped out into the inn. “But no one laugh—”

The Hobbits—even solid little Sam—took one look at the Elf. A moment later all four of them were on the floor in tears, howling with laughter. The children giggled like little snowbirds and Rosie hid her mirth behind a hand.

Legolas stood in the doorway, hands at his side, feet planted firmly, and a look of pure vexation on his face. His blond hair—still unbound save for a circlet of braids running down its length—was topped by a little green, curving hat with a gold bell on the end.

But that wasn’t the worst of it.

His normal outfit of green jerkin, breeches and soft boots had been replaced by…well, at least it was still green.

Legolas was dressed like an over-sized version of one of Santa’s own elves. He wore the gaudy green tunic with its sleeves and bottom cut into the annoying shape of stylized leaves. He wore a red-and-white stripped shirt under that, the long sleeves running to his wrists. His breeches had been replaced by red-and-white stripped stockings and his feet had been re-shoed in green slippers with the curling toes and annoyingly large gold bells hanging from the tips.

The Hobbits continued to howl—joined by the muffled guffaws of every other person in the Pony. Even Faramir and Eowyn had ceased their…mistletoe-ing…to stare at the laugh and roar with laughter.

“Ah, laddy!” Gimli howled. “You look like an—”

“Say it, Dwarf,” Legolas growled, “and I’ll rip off your beard.”

Though his eyes still twinkled with mirth, Gimli smartly snapped his mouth shut with an audible click.

Gandalf, taking deep breaths to make himself stop laughing, finally stood up again and smoothed out his robes.

“Ah…” he chuckled, wiping at his eyes, “Legolas, if we just do what we came here for, you can change and be done with it if you like.”

“Fine.” Legolas growled. He stalked over to where Gimli was sitting and took his place at his side. The Hobbits—all of them—scampered over to the pair and took their places before them—the tallest in front with the children in front. When they were all there—Bilbo had to take his time because he kept stumbling into chairs and hiccuping—Gandalf raised his staff.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Yes!” they all chimed.

“No.” Legolas mumbled.

Gandalf ignored him.

“Okay…and a one…and a two, and a one, two—”

“We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Pippin New Year!” they shrieked—somewhat musically—Merry and Pippin doing so the loudest. At the end of it, the Pony erupted into cheers and laughter and applauded the chorus.

“And now,” Gandalf said as the Hobbits and Elf moved away from Gimli seated in his chair, "everyone gets a chance to sit in Santa’s lap!”

“Wait—what?” Gimli yelled. “You didn’t tell me anything about—”

But a moment later his lap was swarmed by all the Gamgee children and there was nothing else he could do. Nor could he do anything about the line forming.

Gandalf laughed.

“Merry Christmas, Prancing Pony!” he cried.

“Merry Christmas!” everyone chimed. “And a Happy New Year!”