“And now it is time for Nibbleses Holiday Special Show!” The purple rabbit flopped about on the top of the table that was part of the makeshift stage. Politely, everyone in the room clapped as Nibbles bowed to them, her long floppity ears slapping the top of the table with each bow. As the applause died down, Nibbles was set off to the side by the small hand that was controlling her from behind the stage. “And now, here are our stars!” shouted the voice that had been given to the rabbit. “Talli and Vilya!”
The two young ellith sprang up from behind the stage, each of them dressed in their best yule dresses, hair up in colorful bows. They had their arms spread out, one up and one down as they had seen the stage actors do to present themselves. “Welcome to our show!” they announced together. Around the room, their were many smiles and grins, especially from their parents.
“We have for you a holiday show,” recited Talli. “We hope you will enjoy it.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Elrond could see his wife mouthing the words along with her young sister. He knew that someone had to have been helping them come up with this little idea of theirs. As everyone in the house took a task to ready for the yule celebration, Tallasinde and his daughter, Vilya, had felt left out. They were in their tenth year now, and decided themselves old enough to have tasks of their own instead of simply helping with a bit of something here or there or being told to go and play. The pair, who were inseparable best friends because of their age despite truly being aunt and niece, came to him with their idea, which he allowed and was rather curious how it would turn out. Here now was the fruit of their labors.
After three short songs about winter that they performed along with some pantomimed actions, they put on a short little play using stuffed animals, of which Nibbles was the center of a story about friendship. She was trying to get someone to help her fix her sled, when everyone else wanted to simply play with their own toys. When someone finally did help her, the two of them had more fun together with the sled than any of the other stuffed animals did on their own.
Again the family clapped at the end of the performance, and thinking it done when the girls began to curtsey, Elrond started to stand up to call an official end to the day’s festivities (except for those who would join him in the study for brandy, and perhaps a pipe, for Gandalf was here), but sat down after the next announcement. “And now, Vilya will end our day with a magic show.” Even Tallasinde looked a little skeptical of this, but she gracefully swept herself away from the stage and sought out her father, crawling up onto Celeborn’s lap for a good seat for the rest of the performance.
“As you can see here,” she began, holding up a big, ugly, black hat that appeared rather worn, “this is an ordinary hat. Sir,” she said, stepping up to Orophin, “may I have your assistance?”
“Who, me?” he asked, but really, it all seemed rather planned to Elrond. “Why, what can I do for you, miss magician?”
“Please examine this hat for me. I do not want any disbelievers,” she said sternly, which caused a few audience members to giggle.
Orophin took the hat and turned it around in his hands. “It seems like an ordinary hat to me,” he said, handing it back towards her, but Vilya held up a finger to him as she began to walk across the room.
Perhaps no one else had seen it, for everyone’s eyes had been on Orophin, but Elrond had noted that his daughter had slipped her hand into her pocket, and held it now so that something, though he knew not what, was concealed in her palm. “Just a moment, please. I think someone misplaced something. Sir, would you tell me, are you missing anything?” she asked Glorfindel.
“Hmm? Me? Not that I know of,” Glorfindel answered, and this made Elrond more curious, for he could tell that this was not something planned, at least not on Glorfindel’s part. Vilya was already observing him closely, with a furrowed brow, until an ‘a-ha!’ expression came upon her face.
“I see just what it is,” she said, and using a bit of sleight-of-hand magic, produced a faux golden flower from behind his ear. “There you are,” she said, handing it to him.
Glorfindel actually looked amazed, and touched behind his ear to be sure he wasn’t spouting more fake blooms, while those in the room laughed. Even Erestor couldn’t help but chuckle at the confusion on the blond’s face. This caught the older elf off guard when Vilya circled around to him and scrutinized him. “You have something, too,” she announced, and before you could say ‘Abracadabra’, managed to pull out a colorful silk handkerchief out of the ex-counselor’s nose and drop it on his lap.
“How long has that been up there?” teased Glorfindel as Erestor tried to rub the red from his flushed cheeks.
Orophin, still holding the hat, nudged Rumil and said, “I am now getting the image of Erestor shoving things in his nose as a child.” Vilya came back, took the hat from Orophin, and went back up ‘on stage’ with it. She set it down on the top of the table, with the top of the hat resting on the top of the table. “Here, we have an ordinary hat. But, I say the magic words- Angolteliangol!- and-“ Vilya reached down into the hat, and pulled out Nibbles, the stuffed, fluffy bunny, whom everyone had lost track of, and no one noticed had been set carefully under the table by Tallasinde before she had left the stage- no one, except Elrond, who smiled and clapped louder than the rest in the room.
“Thank you, thank you everyone,” she said, and then cleared everything off of the stage. “I will need a volunteer from the audience for my last trick,” she said, and though many hands were raised, she pointed to one of her brothers. “Thank you, sir, I would be delighted if you would help.” The ellon hurried up to the stage and stood next to his little sister. “Please, would you tell everyone what your name is?”
“My name is Elladan. Hi, Nana! Look, I am on stage!” he said, waving to his mother amid more laughter.
“Elladan, do you believe in magic?” she asked as she motioned for him to help her push the little stage area aside. Behind it was a big, wooden box with a lock on the front. Her brother nodded vigerously. “Elladan, do you believe I can make you disappear?”
“You would not be the first sister to suggest it,” he said with a wink. Vilya grinned.
Unlocking the box, she pushed the lid open. “What I have here is an ordinary wooden box. If you like, please, come up, examine it,” she offered. A number of the audience members did in fact examine the box, including Elrond. It did seem perfectly normal, albeit a little plain. Once everyone was back in their seats, Vilya went to Erestor and took the cloth from his lap. “I am going to tie my brave assistant’s hands together to keep him from finding a non-magical way out of the box, and then, lock him inside. This is an airtight box,” she announced solemnly, “so once the lock it set, he will have only thirty seconds for me to find a way to free him.” After tying the fabric around her brother’s wrists, she said to him in a whisper that traveled to the audience, “Let us all hope this works. I have never done this one before.” He nodded while the audience snickered. “My assistant will now climb into the box.” Once the elf had knelt in the box, Vilya came around the back of it. “And now-“ she pushed the lid closed with a loud slam, then locked it. “Whew! That was hard work,” she exaggerated. “I need something to drink.”
Walking back over to the counter, she waved her hands over the hat, and pulled out a large pitcher of what looked like lemonade and then a glass. Despite the murmuring in the audience regarding how much time had passed, she poured herself a glass and began to drink it.
“Excuse me, miss, but perhaps you should-“ began Orophin, but he was silenced as Vilya held up her hand, continuing to drink her juice. Noises began to come from the box- a violent pounding and kicking, but still Vilya did nothing, now looking for her misplaced wand in a relaxed manner. Finally, at the very last minute, she waved her wand over the box, and the noise suddenly stopped.
“Is he gone?” asked Celebrian, trying not to panic. Obviously, to Elrond, she was not aware of this addition to the show. Or else, she was just a very, very good actress.
“Either that, or he has passed out,” joked Celebdreth.
Vilya cleared her throat to get their attention again. “I will now make Elladan appear. Angolteliangol!” She aimed her wand at the door at the back of the room, where there was suddenly a puff of smoke (courtesy of Gandalf) and in from the smoke, walked Elladan, waving the silk handkerchief to them all. “Thank you everyone for coming!”
“Hold on.” Haldir pointed to the box at the front. “That could be Elrohir,” he said, looking back at the door, “and you could still have Elladan in there.”
Vilya pouted. “A non-believer, I see. Fine, then.” Vilya stomped back up to the stage, pulling a key out of her pocket. She raised it up and looked to the audience. “Do you want to see what is in the box?” she shouted. Everyone nodded and affirmed this. Shaking her head, she fit the key into the lock and turned it. Flipping the top back, she kicked the side, and all of the sides fell to the ground, revealing nothing within.
“Some trick, huh, Ada?”
Elrond practically jumped in his chair to find Elrohir sitting beside him. Confused, Elrond looked back and forth between his sons, to his wife, to his sons, and then up to the stage where his daughter was still standing. “Psst! Ada! You have to end the celebration,” she reminded him.
“Ah, yes. Ah, thank you all for coming,” announced Elrond. “Anyone wishing to continue the holiday cheer, I invite you to my study for brandy and a smoke,” he said, with a nod to Gandalf and Gimli.
As everyone began to clear out of the room, no one noticed Elrohir ditch a second handkerchief, the one that had originally been pulled from Erestor’s nose, into Vilya’s hat.
Bunniverse. 130 Fourth Age Yuletide, ten years after the story 'Yuletide'. Second ed., 2011.
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