Inkling Challenge: Take the Fellowship to Work/School

by Primula

The Fellowship go the Library

"Okay! Lunches are packed? Backpacks are ready? Let's go!"  Primula opened the front door on a freshly rained on Oregon morning and held it open to let her charges file past out to the waiting station wagon. It was time to be getting to school! "One, two, three, four five..." yes, her own three and the two neighbor kids were all present...."six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen....how are we all going to fit in the car?! Let's see. Aragorn, pull up those little handles in the back, that lets those way-back seats pop up. Yes those - thanks. Okay everyone, time for a little creative seating arrangements.  Gimli, you and Legolas up on the rack...oh all right, you picky Elf. The wind damage wouldn't be that much, but you can sit in the middle of the back seat if you hold a hobbit on your lap.  Merry, would you mind? Aragorn, please give Gimli a boost and would you mind joining him up there? Thanks, Gandalf - good advice. Yes, Pippin would make a fine hood ornament.  Just hang onto this thing here, Pip.  Kids, squoosh together! Bluebell is going to hold Frodo. Gandalf's legs are too long for those tiny back seats - kids, scoot to the back so he can sit in front. Boromir, you don't mind having Sam on your lap do you?"

The overloaded wagon finally creaks out of the driveway and heads to school. It is a fairly short drive and though Pippin looks a little wide-eyed everytime a car comes the opposite way, arrival is made in good time.  Barely clearing the edge of the parking lot with squeaking shocks, the wagon swings into a parking place and it's many passengers tumble off like clowns from an overstuffed circus car.

The kids hug each of the Fellowship goodbye and head to their classrooms. "This way, guys." Automatically falling in line behind Gandalf, they follow along through the halls past the wide-eyed office staff and down the stairs to the library.  Primula unlocks it and flips on the lights.  "Now you guys have to understand that I've got work to do - but I don't think I have enough work for all of you. I've signed you up as Parent Volunteers, so you will have to do whatever the teachers need."

Pippin and Merry settle down to stamp a stack of books, Sam is soon lost in a gardening book about Baroque Gardens and Gimli pokes around the a medieval weaponry guide.  Frodo comes up behind Prim as she's entering subjects on a book and suddenly startles.  "Why is there a picture of me on your calender?" He picks it up and flips though it. "There's pictures of all of us here - take a look!"  The others gather round in fascination, taking turns flipping through them and making comments. "Oooh - I like this one." "Now that's a pretty good likeness." "Remember that?" "Is my nose really that big?" "Haha - look at the expression on your face in this one!"  Prim rolls her eyes. The phone beeps and she answers it.

"It's the office. They need two of you to go help with morning recess duty. Boromir, Legolas, come with me."  They troop up the steps and Prim issues each of them a whistle on a lanyard.  "These are to blow if the kids are doing anything wrong - you know, hurting each other or something like that.

"I have a better one." comments Boromir critically. 

"Yeah, yeah - whatever. Hurry now - they need you outside!"  They head out to the schoolyard where swarms of assorted-aged children are streaming from each building. In moments there's a resounding blast from the Horn of Gondor.  Prim runs out to the yard to find Boromir. "What did you do that for?"

"Two boys fighting with sticks. Bad form! They need to circle each other like this...and hold their heads up...."

"Boromir....never mind. You did the right thing, if for the wrong reason. Boys - put down those sticks!"  There is an ear-shattering blast from Legolas' whistle and Prim turns to find him cornering the custodian against the building.

"Yrch!"

"Thats' not an orc, Legolas - that's the janitor! He just has his weed-spraying gear on!"

Legolas suspiciously lets the grouchy janitor continue on towards the bushes then climbs a nearby tree to keep an eye on things from up above.  Recess is nearly over when a group of the bigger boys begin fighting by the breezeway.  Drat that Boromir - he's egging them on and telling them how to punch better!  Prim heads for the tangle of boys but before she reaches them there's a cry of "Elendil!" and Aragorn leaps off the roof of the breezeway right on top the boys.

The bell thankfully rings before anymore confusion can ensue and the kids all file back into the buildings leaving Boromir and Aragorn arguing about whether or not the fight should have been stopped.  Prim takes their whistles and sends them back inside.

In the library, Pippin and Merry have finished stamping the books and are experimenting with stamping other things, like the carpet and each other.  Sam, still engrossed in his book, bears several stamps across his back and a sticker that says "Reference Only."  Gandalf, Gimli and Frodo are missing.  "Where did they go?" she asks.

Pippin looks up from where he is carefully stamping the name of the school on the bottom of his foot. "The office people called again. Said something about hot lunch?"

Prim heads back upstairs, calling out to the the Men and Elf to follow.  In the cafeteria she finds Gandalf dishing out vegetables and brownies on an array of trays.

"Mr. Gandalf is a marvel!" the kitchen lady comments cheerfully. "He got our gas oven working again - don't know how he did it."

"Are Merry and Pippin behaving?" asks the wizard, doling out an especially large brownie for himself.

Prim hesistates. "Well, they're making a bit of a mess with all the ink..."

"I might have known. Send them up here. They can help wash the dishes."

"Good idea!" Prim picks up the cafeteria phone and rings the library. "Hullo?" says the voice at the other end. "Pippin? Come to the cafeteria and bring Merry with you!"

Legolas, Boromir and Aragorn start setting up all the tables and chairs. Now to find Gimli and Frodo.  After peeking in a number of classroom windows Prim finally locates Gimli in the kindergarten room where he is cheerfully chopping up playdoh with his axe to the delight of the children, who liked his being so close to their size. Watching kindergarteners pressing chunks of playdoh onto his armor to make pretty patterns, she leaves him there and seeks Frodo next.  Wait - was that his voice?

Rounding a corner she peers into Bluebell's classroom - sure enough there he is.  She seems to be presenting him to the class as her science project...it seems all her studies about hobbits are finally paying off.  He seems content enough to answer their questions, and when they call out for a song from the Shire he obligingly dances up on one of the desks and begins the Man in the Moon song. Thankfully, the teacher cuts it short before he falls...

The day is moving on apace and Prim hasn't gotten any library work done yet! Back to the library. To her astonishment Sam is methodically checking in all the books that the classes returned that morning.  He smiles at her.  "I couldn't do the reshelving, though I tried. Sam Gamgee, I said, your legs are too short so use your head! So I started just checking them in. Hope you don't mind ma'am."

"Sam Gamgee, you're a marvel! Thank you so much."

After lunch, they all pitch in to help clean the cafeteria back up, then another recess is underway. In spite of Prim's efforts to restrain them they decided en masse to attend it.  The hobbits are delighted with the equipment that is scaled to their size, and Boromir is soon doing pull-ups on the twirling bars.  Gimli rummages around in the ball bin pulling up various items that were buried at the bottom of it, and Aragorn and Legolas practice their archery in the field with the boys all cheering them on.  Gandalf amuses the younger ones with hat tricks.  In all it is a much better success than the first one was.

After recess, the office calls again. Someone needed to run copies.  Boromir, Legolas and Gandalf all head up the stairs to the office copy room. They consider the machine carefully. Gandalf hmms and ah-hahs over it, opens the top and peers in a bit then pushes a button, making it whir and flash in the most alarming fashion.

"What is this new devilry?" asks Boromir examing the copy of Gandalf's beard that came out the side of the machine.

Gandalf blinks, trying to see again. "It is a copier. A task beyond any of us..." 

Legolas' eyes widen in consternation. "How can we do this task then?"

Gandalf considers it, then extends his staff towards the machine and utters a command.

The copier begins to copy...and copy...and copy.... reams of paper, each bearing an imprint of Gandalf's beard spill out of the side of the machine.

"Run!" cries the wizard as they beat a hasty retreat back down the stairs.

The library is still a mess, in spite of Sam's efforts. Prim sighs and sets  the hobbits to cleaning up the stacks of cookbooks that are scattered about. The taller members are given the task of reshelving with Gimli working the carpetsweeper. Ever resourceful, Merry soon has a system going with Sam and Pippin calling out the call-numbers, finding the spot on the shelf and tossing the book from hand to hand into its slot. The end of the schoolday is drawing near, so  they begin to gather up their assorted scarves, cloaks, weapons etc. to go home.

Frodo, however,  sits at the desk and choosing a nice clean sheet of paper writes in his firm, flowing script "Thank you for a very enjoyable day."