“Gandalf?”, piped up a tremulous voice. “I cannot believe it…. Gandalf….. GandALF…. GANDALF….!!!” As the voices of the two Hobbits gained in strength, they almost shouted out the name in excitement.
“You know, while you know him as Gandalf, he never really took to the name”, replied The Old Man. “He much preferred to be called Mithrandir. It was him, by the way, who interceded on your behalf, and prevented you two from disappearing.”
“Who is this Mithrandir?”, asked Poison Ivy
“My dear, you don’t know Gandalf? Oh no, no, no, no…. You could not know him, but surely you know of him?”
“Nope, sorry”, replied Poison Ivy. “I really don’t explore ancient history, you know”
“Ah, but you must!”, replied The Old Man, almost dancing as he spoke. You must! I will teach you some ancient history, and then you will become much better at what you do!”
“If you aren’t Gandalf, then who are you?”, demanded Sam, with suspicion rising rapidly in his eyes.
“Ah, if you want to know who I am, then you must come home”, replied The Old Man. With a snap of his fingers, a cloud of smoke enveloped them, and when they opened their eyes again, they found themselves in a comfortable room. They were seated in comfortable, cushioned armchairs. A large oaken table, laden with fruit, was in the centre of the room. Sunlight streamed through the large windows, and when they looked out they saw that they were in a wonderful, wooded area. Small pixies and elven creatures seemed to dance amongst the plants that surrounded the place.
“Where are we?”, asked Poison Ivy in shock. “What am I wearing? This is not sexy at all!”. She looked down at herself in dismay. Gone was the tight-fitting costume, to be replaced by a flowing gown that shimmered in shades of red, green and orange.
“Ah, welcome, welcome, welcome! You are in my home”, replied The Old Man. “His eyes gleamed when he looked at Poison Ivy. In her new costume, she was ravishing indeed to his old eyes.
“A rose for you, my dear? A chocolate, perhaps? Will you be my Valentino?”, he asked. “A heart shaped chocolate, my dear, for you.”
“Ah, sir, it is Valentine, not Valentino”, laughed Poison Ivy.
A loud slap resounded in the room, and the chocolate and the rose fell from his hand. The Wench stood there, glaring at him, arms akimbo, fire emerging from her nostrils.
Frodo looked at her in fright, as her face turned red. Was it love he saw in her eyes, or was it hatred? “Two sides of the same coin”, he muttered to himself, and he snuggled close to Sam.
The intensity of her emotion frightened them both, and they shrank almost into the boards of the floor.
“Valentine, Valentino…. My foot”, she hissed.
“Valentine or Valentino, what difference does it make?”, trilled The Old Man. “I was just making the young lady comfortable.
“Do that”, replied The Wench. “Just remember, it is I who have been your faithful companion and partner these many centuries. It is I who have stayed with you and looked after you. It is I who have made you comfortable and shielded you from prying eyes and writers. It is I who have kept your secret and your mystique alive. So, don’t you go giving chocolates, Valentines or Valentinos to any young lady.”
“Kind sir”, piped up Frodo, his voice shaking. The atmosphere in the room had become heavy and suffocating. He sniffed the underlying love and hatred that the two felt for each other, and the yearned for the sunshine to flow through the windows again. He yearned, once again, for that unbearable lightness of being.”
“Kind sir”, he said, tentatively. “Can you please tell us who you are, and who this beautiful lady is”.
“You’re a good lad”, The Wench smiled, and she took The Old Man’s hand, as they danced a little jig around the room. The sun was shining again, and she poked The Old Man in the ribs, and kissed him on the lips. “Go on, tell them who we are.”
“Ah yes,”, replied The Old Man. “Introductions are indeed in order. You may call me….. let’s see……. “
He paused for effect.
“You may call me Merlin”, he said. “You may call my beautiful lady, Vivien”.