Chapter 10: Witch!
"There's something wrong with Kili."
For half a second there is silence.
"What do you mean, something's wrong with him?" Fili says in a sudden panic, standing instantaneously. Thorin does the same; the entire party arise and rush through to the living room.
"Out of the way, get out of the way!" Thorin calls to the group ahead, parting them like the red sea with his strong arms, "what's the matter with him? Kili-!"
"He won't wake up," Ori says from the back of the group in a trembling voice, "I've tried over and over, but he will not wake-!"
"Let me through, let me through!" Oin says. He puts his thick fingers to Kili's neck. "The Lad's pulse is fine, he seems to be breathing alright."
"He's okay," I try to call over the hullabaloo of the others, "he's just sleeping-!"
"Then there's nothing wrong with him!" Gloin yammers, "Ori, you useless trollop, fancy giving us all a fright like that-!"
"He won't wake!" Ori repeats defensively, pulling at his mittens in anguish, "That's not right, is it?!"
"The lad's right," Oin says, "one of you fetch my ointment from my bag."
"I'll sort him out," Dwalin calls; he pushes the others aside and quickly strikes Kili around the face with the palm of his hand.
"Kili!" he roars, teeth bared in the face of the sleeping Dwarf, "oh, by the might of Mahal... wake up now, Laddie! Come on now, get up, son! You've got a quest to be going on!"
"This is witchcraft," Thorin says, then turns to me. "What have you done to him?!"
"Me?!" I shriek, stepping back, "I haven't done anything-!"
Well you have, Alice. You've put him in a coma.
"Witch!" Gloin proclaims suddenly, "she's a witch! She has placed a curse on him in the night-!"
"Why the hell would I want to do that?!"
"Because you're a bloody witch, that's why!" Nori interjects, pointing an accusing finger my way.
"What?!" I shriek, "that doesn't even make any sense!"
"Enough!" Gandalf says, pushing through us all and over to Kili, "enough of this foolishness! Do you truly think I would not recognise a Witch amongst our fold?! Now move aside, all of you. Let me see what is the matter with him."
"Well I don't know what's wrong with the boy," Fili says, clearly itching with worry, "but I'm going to kill him when he wakes up-!"
"There will be no need for that, Master Dwarf," Gandalf tells him. "There is nothing the matter with young Kili; he is simply asleep."
"Then why won't he wake up?"
"That, I believe, would be a result of the night's festivities," Gandalf proclaims with a low chuckle, "it would seem that he has drank himself into quite the frenzy. Perhaps you were right in telling your brother not to drink so much."
"He's drunk?" Nori bleats, "that's all that's the matter with him?"
"It is rare, but I have seen it happen several times before with Hobbiton wine," Gandalf muses, straightening himself back up, "the blend of ingredients can occasionally induce a person who is not accustomed to it into a deep prolonged sleep, particularly when the drinker is as young as Master Kili; he will be fine."
Bilbo Baggins comes out from his bedroom, hair askew, and quietly asks, "what on Earth is going on out here-?"
"Quiet, Hobbit!" Gloin proclaims, "we are facing a crisis!"
"This is no crisis," Gandalf reassures the group. "No harm has come to him, I can assure you. He is perfectly safe... just asleep."
"For how long?" Fili says, the relief thick in his voice, "we are supposed to be leaving today."
"The effects depend on the person," Gandalf continues, "it may only be a matter of minutes, or it might be several days."
"Several days?!" Dwalin barks, "but we are already supposed to have left!"
"Do not panic. Let us wait it out a little while longer; place the lad in bed, if Master Hobbit does not object-?"
Bilbo welcomes them through; Dwalin and Nori carry the young Dwarf through to Bilbo's room. Kili lies still on the bed, face serene and breathing deeply, and Gandalf dismisses us all.
"I'll stay with him," Fili says, kneeling at his brother's side, "just in case any thing should happen."
"It will not," Gandalf reassures him as we leave the room; he takes me by the shoulder and leads me into the study, away from the others. His silence tells me all I need to know.
"It's not a Hobbit-wine induced coma," I say, stating what we both already realise. "It's me, isn't it?"
"I suspected as such," Gandalf says. "Would you care to tell me all that has happened to you since we last spoke, Miss Lavender?"
I do. I fill him in on every detail, from waking up in my house to the Nutella and ham toasted sandwich; Gandalf listens intently, and when I am done, he speaks.
"And you say you awoke with your head on young Master Kili's shoulder?"
I clear my throat, a little embarrassed at that for some reason. "Yes."
Gandalf nods. "I will not pretend to understand any of this, Lavender. I can only offer speculation. But perhaps the physical contact between the pair of you was the original cause; his consciousness, I would assume, remains in your realm, in the body which has manifested there... clearly this is not transportation, as we all saw you sleeping last night. Tell me, when you fell asleep to return here, were the two of you touching at all?"
"No," I inform him quickly, "no... Kili was in the bed, and I was on the floor on a bean-bag."
Gandalf looks slightly befuddled.
"You slept within a bag of beans?"
"No," I say quickly, stifling a laugh. "... No. But we weren't touching."
Gandalf nods. "Well then, I have one suggestion; sleep, Miss Lavender. Observe your realm, find out the state of the young Dwarf, and, if at all possible, try to bring him back."
He reaches out and places his hand upon mine. "With touch," he says. "I believe that is all it will take."
I nod, looking away; a pang of sadness sweeps through my veins and for a moment I feel as though I might cry. "What's going on here, Gandalf?"
He shakes his head. "That is yet to be seen, my Lady."
"Won't you come with me?" I ask hopefully, "after all, if it's me touching people that's causing all this, can't I take you with me to my world? You're a Wizard, you'll know exactly what to do once we get there."
"I am needed here," Gandalf says with a shake of his head and a smile. "This is your adventure. Besides, a Wizard has no time for sleep... good luck. And do try to bring him back to us."
With that Gandalf leaves; I sit alone for a moment, just thinking, before curling up on the Hobbit-sized chaise lounge and closing my eyes.
Sleep, I tell myself... well, the do say it cures all things.
Look into my eyes look into my eyes...
... Aaaand you're back in the room.
I sit up from my make-shift bed on the floor with a flourish and realize that I am alone.
"Josie?!" I shout, "Kili!?"
"Down here!" Josie's voice calls; I venture downstairs and find the two of them sat on the sofa in front of the TV, sharing a bowl of home-flowered popcorn and on the edge of their seats.
"Oh, thank God!" I call from behind them, "Kili, I thought something had happened to you!"
"Shh!" Josie hisses, "we're watching TV... look, Kili, this is it, this is the part!"
"Shut it, Alice!"
Kili hasn't even noticed me come into the room. He sits mindlessly in front of the television set, throwing handful upon handful of popcorn into his mouth as he stares with eyes wide as telescopes. I sit the other side of him on the sofa and give him a poke to see if he's real, praising the heavens that he is okay.
"I thought something really bad had happened," I say to Josie, who silences me again; the event that she has been waiting for occurs on screen, and Kili let's out a pained groan.
"She was in the barn the whole time!" Josie tells him, "see?!"
"That's horrible!" Kili yelps in disgrace, "who would want to record such a thing?! Where did this happen?!"
Something clicks, and I frown at my best friend. "Josie, have you told him that this is all real?!"
Josie side-glances at me guiltily and says, "it was this or Duck Dynasty. I thought he'd like zombies better... didn't want to ruin the magic, you know?"
"It's not real, Kili," I reassure him as he sits with his eyes still glued to the screen, "it's all acting. Like a play... but anyway, that's not important. Why the hell aren't you asleep?!"
"I was asleep," he defends, still gulping down handful upon handful of sugared corn, "for quite a long time, I think you'll find. And then I awoke, and here I was, still in your realm. You were asleep, so I came downstairs and your friend introduced me to the telovisin."
"Te-le-vision," Josie corrects, and Kili nods.
"Yes. The tevelision."
"Jos, did you stay and watch us?"
She nods. "It was really boring. You didn't disappear or anything; it was just the pair of you snoring for ages and ages, so I came down and stuck the TV on. Kili came down just after nine so we watched Strictly Come Dancing, I rang your Mum like you told me to and she's fine with me staying over. Then I made us popcorn and we stuck this on, and now here you are."
"Kili, you weren't there," I say to him once Josie finishes, "I woke up back in Bilbo's house. It was morning time, and you wouldn't wake up; everyone was panicking, but Gandalf fobbed them off with some story about the wine getting to you. We put you in Bilbo's bed and Fili's sat with you right now, waiting for you to wake up."
Kili looks horrified. "How do I wake up?"
"Gandalf gave me an idea. But it means you've got to go back to sleep."
"Oh, not again," Josie mutters, "it's so boring when you're all asleep."
"You've got Pewter to keep you company," I tell her. "Come on, Kili."
I lead him back upstairs as Josie whines at the bottom of the steps, throwing popcorn at our backs.
"You two suck!"
A piece of popcorn hits me in the back of the head. "You'd best clean that up, Missus!"
Kili gets back in my bed, edging away from my cat who sleeps atop the covers. I pull back the covers on my side rather uncomfortably. Kili looks baffled, a half-grin on his face.
"You're getting in with me?"
"Yep," I say, ignoring my flushed cheeks as best I can, "Gandalf said this is how we get you conscious and back in your magical little world... probably. ...Maybe. Get your gloves off and take my hand."
I offer my palm to him, and he encloses it within his own. We lie down next to each other, the pair of us rather embarrassed, and I wish him goodnight, closing my eyes.