Five Reasons To Love Sheep

B2: The Desolation of Smaug (Prologue)

AN: Hello lovelies. We're back with book the second, which begins a week or so after the last one ended. Enjoy, and keep on being fabulous!

Book Two: Desolation of Smaug


My Ma was the one who found us. She had decided to visit because she had been ringing the house for hours and no one was answering their phones. When she walked in, using the spare key I kept for Josie's house which she had found underneath a peculiar-looking assortment of leathers and furs in my room, she had found Josie lay half-covered on the battered leather sofa, in only her underwear, and myself curled up on the floor beside her supposed mute Belizean cousin, trying my best to get back to sleep so that I would be able to find Josie. Kili was still sleeping, his life and conscience still laughing with the other Dwarves on the top of that cliff face where the Eagles sought to leave us after the battle with the Orcs.

My mother pulled me up, asked a million questions which all rolled into one, and did her best to ignore my ragings about Goblins and Wizards and a mythical land which I visited in my dreams; once she realised that my best friend, Josephine Maddox, had fallen into a comatose state for a reason which even the doctors were unable to determine, she would put these bizarre rantings down to delirious shock, and decide not to have me put forward for counselling after all.

As for Kili- or Cedric, as Josie and I first introduced him as- he was to stay in Josie's apartment until she was well again, to keep it occupied so that her landlord wouldn't decide to evict the piles of action figures and Comic Con souvenirs littering his smallest flat. I was to return home immediately and stay there until I was stable enough to return to daily life. And Josie, my poor Jos, was to be taken to the hospital, and that's where she was to stay; where she still is.

"Visiting time ends in five minutes," an automated voice says twice over the hospital's audio system.

Respiratory devices, wires and tubes stick out of my best friend as she lies motionless in the hospital bed. She does not move, she does not speak... she does very little at all. The rising and falling of her chest and the rose flush of her cheeks are the only things which give away any sign of the life which once filled her.

Friends and distant relatives have weaved their way through the hospital doors ever since Josie was admitted; even her estranged mother, Jackie, has made a few appearances, fawning over Josie's bedside with tears in her eyes and a bottle of what she claims to be water clutched to her breast. 'Get Well Soon' cards and bunches of half-withered grapes surround her head-board like a macabre halo, her every-colour hair fanned out on her pillows as she sleeps.

"She says there's been no change," my Ma says, coming back into the room after her talk with Doctor Trancy. "She's still completely healthy, there's no reason... I can't understand it." She laughs a little under her breath, though there's no mirth to the gesture. "When I first found the three of you, I thought you'd been taking some sort of drugs; Cedric and Josephine both asleep like that, so rigid and stiff, and you, half way there. Then I thought you were in some sort of trance, it was cult-like the way you started screaming at me... oh, honey. Our poor Josie."

You worry about her here, I think, and almost laugh myself. I don't worry about her in this world; here she is safe, warm, fed. In that colder, harsher world, there is more to fear than sleep; whenever I close my eyes to sleep I almost scream, seeing Josie in a hundred ways; being torn apart by a wild Warg, ripped apart by Goblins, turning on a Troll's spit-roast.

Kili appears through the door of Josie's ward, and sits down beside my mom. She gives a contented sigh and smiles fondly at him as he hands her a boxed sandwich from WH Smiths- she has grown very fond of him since Josie's accident, if it can be called that. She says it's his polite manner and concern for his ill cousin that she loves so much, but I think it's probably more so his flash of a smile, dark eyes and his muteness. Seeing as he can't speak in her presence due to the lies which Josie and I told, my mother- being a woman who has always loved the sound of her own voice- is quite content to talk away and revels in the fact that he physically can't get a word in edge-ways, save a burst of laughter or an agreeing 'hmm' or 'ahh!'

My mother worries that I've started sleeping so much; she thinks it's the creeping arms of depression, weaving their way into my mind like the tendrils of a spider's web, ready to suffocate. I refuse to believe that depression is the cause; I know why I must sleep. She invites Kili over every morning before she goes out to work, desperately trying to get me to keep awake; but even when he is there- which is most of the time, as I know he hates being in that flat alone- I sleep, and he does, too. More often than not, my mother finds the two of us asleep on the sofa when she gets home, his arm around my shoulder and dried tears on my cheeks.

I want to tell her the truth; I don't want her to worry about me. I have to sleep, because I have to find her. When I do, I'll hold her tight and kiss her and sob and not let her go until the pair of us are asleep again, and safely back in our own world; and once she wakes up in that hospital, connected to a thousand monitors and tubes and wires, I'm going to strangle her in her bed for all of the pain and worry she has caused whilst she has been gone.

Unless she is dead.

If she is dead, I... I don't know what I'll do.

"Visiting time has ended," the automated voice drills, "please collect your belongings and make your way to the front exit. Visiting hours shall begin again tomorrow morning, from nine AM until 12 PM. Afternoon visits shall take place from three PM until five PM, and night visits shall last from seven PM until nine PM. Thank you."

The message plays three times as to drill the point home. My Ma kisses Josie quickly and makes her way down to the car; a passing nurse gives Kili and I a disconcerted glance.

"Just one more minute," I tell him, and he heads down the corridor with a sharp clip to his step.

Kili's hand comes to a rest on my arm, a signal that we really have to go. I give my best friend's hand a quick squeeze and kiss the top of her head, brushing away a thick strand of purple.

"Tonight, Josie," I tell her. I'll find you tonight. "I promise."

I promise the same every night.

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