It was a beautiful day outside the Smudged Thoughts Studio. The Autumn sky a crisp cotton-candy blue. Tables and chairs and a pavilion (presumably for dancing later, as hobbit-folk are apt to celebrate long into the night) had been set up all over the crisply browning grass. And inside, trapped behind a towering stack of cupcake boxes that rival her in size, Kenzie was trying exceptionally hard not to lose her mind.
“Has anyone seen Pippin?” Kenzie tottered into the kitchen and deposited the boxes onto the counter, wiping sweat off her brow as three crew members in bright green jackets jostled by with chairs and a slopping punch bowl. “He was supposed to be here an hour ago to rehearse.”
“Rehearse what?” Carswell Thorne slunk into the kitchen, lifted the flap on one of the boxes, and glided his fingertip over the rainbow-swirled frosting.
“HEY!” Kenzie scoffed as he popped his frosted finger into his mouth. “Hands off!”
“This whole thing is a bit over-the-top, don’t you think? Just give me the award and be done with it. I don’t require huge ceremonies.”
“Well, that’s a lie.” Cinder appeared at his side, looking anything but amused, and launched three progressively ugly ties at Thorne’s chest. “Here. Cress says you need to pick one for the ceremony.”
“I am not wearing these…”
Turning towards Kenzie, Cinder folded her arms and rested a hip against the counter. “Everything’s set in the backyard. I’ve got Winter in charge of the food. She seems to be the only one who can prevent Calcifer from burning all the marshmallows at this point.”
“This is plaid!” Thorne protested, holding up one of the offending ties.
“Thanks, Cinder.” Kenzie sighed and sagged against the counter, surveying the chaos of the studio. “And I thought housing the villains was chaotic… If I find mayonaise in my toothpaste one more time–“
A heavy crash from the upstairs caused all three standing in the kitchen to jump. Releasing a groan, Kenzie leapt to attention and stormed up the staircase–Cinder and Thorne in hot pursuit as they followed the dignified scolding of Professor McGonagall to the second floor.
“PEEVES!” McGonagall shrieked. “For heaven’s sake, put the pitchfork down!”
Bursting into the second floor corridor, Kenzie screeched to a halt beside Professor McGonagall, whose wand was poised to disarm a rather peevish looking poltergeist with a pitchfork.
“Ickle professorkins can’t make Peevsie do nothing,” Peeves was saying stoutly, brandishing his pitchfork as though preparing for war. “Professor Dumblydore told Peevsie to have a good time and enjoy his vacation, and that is precisely what Peevsie is going to do!”
“Professor Dumbledore will most certainly be hearing about the behaviors I have seen exhibited over the past two weeks, Peeves, mark my words!” Professor McGonagall said crisply before dodging a rather sharp blow from the pitchfork and–closely following–a sticky-wet raspberry from the poltergeist’s tongue.
With a cackle, Peeves disappeared and vanished through the ceiling. Screams from the third floor soon followed, and footsteps scrambled down the hall in such ferocity that bits of dust flecked onto their heads. Wiping the powder off her hat, McGonagall spun on Kenzie, eyes flashing behind her spectacles.
“Thank goodness you’ve decided to show up, Miss Kenzie. Peeves has been an absolute terror this morning. Would you mind telling me what you are doing with so many pitchforks in your closets?”
A beet red blush crept across Kenzie’s cheeks, and she stammered for a moment, before finally stuttering, “It’s a collection…”
“A pitchfork collection in a house full of imps,” Thorne supplied, adjusting his newly adorned bright purple and green tie. “Swell.”
Cinder smacked the back of his head.
“I swear, the next time Professor Dumbledore asks me to survey another one of these ridiculous award ceremonies… The students elected for such awards, I cannot fathom… Miss Granger would have never…”
“Aw, come off it, Professor!” Lee Jordan said, popping his head out of a doorway down the hall. “This has been a blast! Fred and George said it was grand, but I had no idea there’d be so many interesting people…”
“That ridiculous man you’ve been hanging out with has not been a good influence on you, Lee.”
“His name is Howl, Professor.”
“A ridiculous name for a ridiculous man.”
“He’s a wizard, Professor!”
“Not any that I have heard of, most certainly!”
“Have either of you seen Pippin?” Kenzie interrupted before Lee could provide a rebuttal. “I’ve been looking for him all morning. He’s supposed to start the ceremony, but I can’t seem to find him.”
“You mean the tiny little boy with the hairy feet?” Professor McGonagall asked through pursed lips. “Could use a good scrubbing behind the ears, if you ask me.”
“Er… Yes, that sounds about right.”
“I saw him and Sage whispering by the edge of the wood earlier,” Lee piped in. “Looked like a serious conversation. Not sure you want to get in the middle of that one.”
Great. Two mischievous imps lurking by the edge of a dark wood. That didn’t seem suspicious at all.
“Thanks, Lee. Be ready in ten, okay? The Ceremony is about to begin.”
“Aw man… I don’t wanna go…!”
McGonagall pointed her wand at Lee threateningly. “If you don’t get those dress robes on, I swear I will do it myself, Lee.”
Lee backed into his doorway quickly, putting as much distance between himself and Professor McGonagall’s wand as he could. “Right away, Professor, sir.”
“And that goes for you, too, Thorne. Ready in ten.”
“With a tie such as this, what else could I need?” Thorne asked drearily, popping the door to his room open to the delighted squeals of a very excited Cress.
“EEK! It looks so GOOD!”
Exchanging a look with Cinder, Kenzie started down the stairs, passing the Marauders as they sat hunched in a corner of the stairwell, whispering over a piece of parchment.
“That better not be something that concerns me, gentleman.”
“Oh no, nothing that concerns you. Nothing at all,” Sirius said very… well… seriously.
Slitting her eyes in suspicion, Kenzie turned her attention to the tallest and thinnest of the lot, who’s eyes looked a little more tired than the rest. “Remus. That Wisest Counselor Silmaril isn’t being used in contempt, is it?”
Before Remus–who looked just a smidge too guilty–could answer, James clutched a hand to his heart in disbelief. “Not in the least, my dear girl! How could you even consider such a thing. Moony’s counsel is one of utmost importance, I can assure you.”
Sirius and Peter dissolved into snickers as Remus turned red, and Kenzie sighed as she continued her descent down the stairs.
“Wonderful decision to have all the nominees from Hogwarts on the same floor, Kenzie,” she muttered to herself. “Certainly.”
“Talking to ourselves, are we?”
Kenzie jumped as she reached the bottom of the stairs, and a gigantic grin materialized in front of her, spinning slowly round as the rest of the figure dripped into view after it.
“Chess…” Kenzie sighed. “Finally decided to join the rest of the party?”
Chess grinned–not an unusual act–and examined one of his thick paws. “I prefer to be a fly on the wall, you know. I learn so much more that way.”
“You prefer spying, you mean.”
“If that’s what you’d like to call it.”
“Right. The ceremony’s starting soon. We’re meeting on the lawn. Think you can manage to deign us with your presence for a little while longer?”
“For you?” Cheshire twisted in the air, his long tail flicking curiously. “Most certainly.”
“Great. Just make sure that all of you is there, okay? We don’t need any creepy grins floating aimlessly by the cupcake tree.”
Cheshire grinned sharply in response, and the tip of his tail began to disintegrate, quickly followed by the rest of him. “Such a pity that the party is almost over…” he chirped sweetly as Kenzie walked away. “I do so enjoy watching you sleep.”
Kenzie shuddered. Well, that wasn’t creepy…
Pushing back into the kitchen, Kenzie found herself face-to-face with none other than the very individual she’d been searching for in the first place–Peregrin Took.
“Pippin! Where on earth have you–?”
“Mushrooms!” Pippin cut in with glee. With a plop, he deposited a heavy, rather soggy looking bag on the counter. “Took quite a trek to get me to Farmer Maggot’s crops, but that’s the only place to get the best mushrooms, y’see.”
“You… Pippin, please don’t tell me you walked all the way back to Middle Earth just for mushrooms.”
“Oh no, no, that would be quite ridiculous. This lovely lady–Lucinda or other–offered to pop me over there for almost nothing at all. There’s all sorts of magical people here, see. Gandalf told me to be wary of other witches and wizards, but between you and me–“
“You made a trade with Lucinda?”
“Not much of a trade, really. More like a deal of sorts. Something about my firstborn and a squirrel… Or my firstborn was afraid of squirrels? Can’t really remember now, can I. But either way I got us some delicious mushrooms for the ceremony!”
“Oh, Pip…” Kenzie sighed. “Well, I suppose it’s done now. You haven’t seen Sage, have you?”
“Sage? Oh no, not since this morning. Said he had some unfinished business to attend to. Figured he’d be back by now, though, what with the ceremony and all.”
“Right. Well, I guess we’ll just have to get started without him. You have the Silmaril Award, don’t you?”
“Safe right here in my pocket!” Pippin said proudly, patting the fabric. “Gandalf made me promise not to lose it. Not that I would. He’s always on me, you know. I told Merry, I said, ‘Best not to get on Gandalf’s bad side. He’ll never let you forget it, not once till the day you die, I’d bet.'”
“I’m sure Gandalf has his reasons for extra precautions,” Kenzie said dismissively, taking Peregrin by the shoulders and scooting him out the back door. “For now, let’s just focus on getting this Ceremony over and done with, shall we? Sage’ll turn up soon, I’m sure…”
Out on the lawn, the party was well under way. True to Cinder’s word, Winter had Calcifer quite under her spell, to the point where only three marshmallows were burned–and that only due to some unnecessary roasting by Julio. Pavilions and tents flapped lazily in a gentle autumn breeze, chairs squished expertly together to account for so many bodies (of various shapes and species) squished into one small space so that elbows and knees hardly bumped. The cupcakes dazzled brilliantly on the sweets table, and only a few were nicked before Nastya–self-appointed sweet sentinel–swatted them away (and then promptly swiped one herself).
Adjusting the tulle of her dress, Kenzie trotted up onto the makeshift stage that had been built at the forefront of the yard by her overnight crew and tapped her fingers thrice upon her microphone. “Ahem!” she coughed into the mic. “May I have everyone’s attention please? Thank you. Thanks.” Kenzie nodded her head as a penetrating quiet fell across the gathered crowd. Eyes–so may eyes–stared back at her, and immediately she felt the sweat start to prickle at her palms.
This was the worst bit, she reminded herself. It’d be over soon.
“Thank you all so very much for gathering here today to celebrate the seventh annual Silmaril Awards! When Jenelle asked me to lend a helping hand three years ago, I can certainly say that I had no clue what I was signing up for! Had I known, perhaps my answer would have been different.”
Many staring eyes blinked back up at her, and she swallowed. Great start, Kenzie.
“Ahem. I must say, housing so many imps has been quite the adventure. In the famous words of Bilbo Baggins, ‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve‘.”
More silence. Somewhere in the back of the crowd, she was pretty sure someone booed.
“Ladies and gentleman, Peregrin Took!” Kenzie swung her hand towards the edge of the stage where Pippin was waiting to take over, and it was with a very grateful curtsy that she let him take the microphone from her shaking hands.
Pippin adjusted his hands on the microphone–surreptitiously wiping off the excess sweat, no doubt–before turning his attention to the crowd. “Wow!” he said. “What a welcome! That was certainly different. Anyway, welcome one and all! It is this, the most marvelous of days in which I get to present the Silmaril Award to this year’s Most Mischievous Imp! No clue why I’m the presenter for this award, though. I’d say if anything, I should be presenting Most Epic Hero! That Frodo Baggins would never have gotten to Mordor without Merry and I, see. But anyway. Sam says the shoe fits, though that doesn’t make any sense since we don’t wear shoes, but–“
“Ahem…” Kenzie coughed.
“Ah… Right. To the nominations then, shall we?” With his free hand, Pippin flicked a suspiciously familiar-looking bit of parchment out of his pocket and began to read.
“In fifth place, with 5.66% of the votes…
A smattering of applause quickly followed, punctuated by a rather sharp, “BOOOO!” from somewhere deep in the crowd. A moment later, a Hogwarts toilet seat went sailing onto the stage at Pippin’s feet.
“WEASLEYS!” Professor McGonagall boomed, rising from her seat in fury. “YOU WERE NOT INVITED TO THIS CEREMONY!”
“Lee deserves better, Professor!” Fred–or was it George?–wailed.
With a grin, Pippin toed the toilet seat away from him and continued as though he hadn’t been interrupted.
“In fourth place, with 15.09% of votes…
“PEEVES THE POLTERGEIST!”
A torrent of screams split through the applause as Peeves rained gobs of mushrooms down on the gathered crowd, cackling his head off and completely ignoring Professor McGonagall’s efforts of trying to control him.
“PEEVES! I swear when Dumbledore hears about this–!”
With a howl of delight, Peeves splat a rather sloppy bit of mushroom at McGonagall’s hat and zoomed off into the sky. The mushroom bag drifted lazily down and landed on the stage, where Pippin gazed longingly at it for a moment, disappointment written clearly across his face.
“Well, that’s unfortunate. Onto the next one, shall we?” Smoothing the parchment, Pippin cleared his throat and read–
“In third place, with 16.98% of votes…
Amidst a round of cheers and applause, Thorne rose in his seat and gave a wave, dazzling the crowd with his charming grin. “I don’t have any mushrooms or toilet seats to assault you with, unfortunately,” he apologized. “Cress said no.”
“Oh, hush,” Cress mumbled, turning scarlet.
Pippin, eyes twinkling mischievously, hushed the crowd with his hand, flapping the bit of parchment. “Well, now, it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for, isn’t it? A very strange thing’s happened, very strange indeed. It seems, despite all odds, we have ourselves a tie.”
A hush befell the crowd. Kenzie swallowed.
Ah yes. She’d heard of that particular knot in the festivities.
“A tie for first place?” a voice near the front of the crowd piped up. “Unheard of!”
“Might as well give it to us all, then!”
Swells of agreement swept through the crowd as Pippin called for quiet. “All right, all right, HUSH! We’ve taken the count to the Ents, all right? They’re completely unsided in matters such as these. Deliberating the results as we speak, you know.”
Kenzie froze. “Pip… You put the Silmaril Award results in the hands of the Ents?”
“They take forever to deliberate.”
“And don’t I know it!”
“And when, exactly, do you think we’ll have the Silmaril results?”
“Er…” Pippin scratched the back of his neck. “See, I hadn’t gotten that far yet, to be honest.”
Just then, a low groan swept through the yard, emanating from the woods just on the edge of the lot. Before the crowd had time to react, the forest began to shiver, separating, shifting, breaking apart from the tree line. Seven enormous trees split from the wood and began to make their way with thundering steps towards the gathering. A wave of unease swept through the crowd.
“Ah! Here they are!” Pippin said delightedly. “They’ve decided early!”
The Ents shimmied and swayed to the edge of the stage, where they paused, their leaves and branches rustling in the wind.
“Hullo, Treebeard!” Pippin squeaked. “We’re so glad you’ve come. Have you determined a winner?”
Treebeard thought carefully for a moment, swaying this way and that as though taken up by the wind. When he finally spoke, it was in a slow, methodical voice. “Mmmmm, it was a very tricky decision to make, Little Orc. Very tricky, indeed. Many of us were at odds with one another.”
“Er… Yes. Sorry about that. But you do have the winner, don’t you?”
“The Ent-folk do not come to conclusions lightly. Things such as this take time. Much time. More time than we were given.”
“However, for you, Little Orc, we have made an exception. We have decided–though it wasn’t easy–who the winner shall be.”
“Wonderful! I don’t suppose you’d like to announce–“
Without warning, Treebeard took Pippin up in his twiggy palm and lifted him slowly up to eyelevel. A low hush rippled through his leaves, and Pippin nodded, seemingly understanding of the Ent’s hushed conversation.
“Ah. Very well, then! I’ll finish us off then, shall I?”
With a low hum, Treebeard released Pippin back onto the stage. The young hobbit hopped back into the center and beamed.
“Well, ladies and gents, it would appear as we have a winner! The Ents have made their decision!
“In second place, please put your hands together for…
“THE CHESHIRE CAT!”
Cheers split through the crowd, followed by some disgruntled mutterings as Chess appeared–rather unannounced–on the edge of the stage. His splitting grin didn’t waver a second as he gazed dolefully out at the crowd.
“I’d rather have second place any day,” he purred. “First is far too much pressure.”
“Say that to the Silmaril around your neck, cat!” Nymphadora Tonks shouted.
“All right, all right, everyone hush now!” Pippin called, summoning quiet. “It’s time to announce the winner of this year’s Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril Award! Isn’t that exciting?”
“Cut to the chase, Hobbit. You’re wearing on our patience,” Howl drawled, clearly put out by not making it into the finalists this year.
“Right then! At long last, the winner of this year’s Most Mischievous Imp Award, with 31.13% of votes, is…
Just then, before the name could leave Pippin’s lips, three very shocking things happened.
One. The paper in Pippin’s hand exploded into a shower of sparks, rising up into the sky to erupt into the most magnificent display of fireworks this side of the Shire, much to the whooping and hollering delight of the Marauders in the back row.
Two. A loud, deafening BOOM! shook the ground, emanating from somewhere deep in the forest, where the trees had started to crack and hiss in frustration.
Three. A thin figure came racing out of the woods, a twinkle of mischief in his green eyes and the swiftness of a fox at his feet. Leaping up onto the stage, he grinned out at the confused crowd as the roaring of the wood grew louder.
“Sorry I’m late. Did I miss anything?”
“Aside from the fact that you’re this year’s winner for Most Mischievous Imp, not real–“
“Sage, where on earth have you been?” Kenzie interrupted, shoving Pippin aside. “And what the blazes is happening in the forest?”
“Oh… That? See, I didn’t really think it through very well, I’ll admit. I just popped over to the other side to catch a glimpse of the dragon ceremony, and–“
“–saw this mangy excuse for a guy. Smog, or something. Cursing the sky and flapping his arms. Told him he looked insane–“
“Unfortunately, this was right before he turned back into a dragon. Wasn’t expecting that, I’ll be frank.”
“Turns out dragons don’t like you insulting them. He followed me into the wood, burned a couple trees…”
Treebeard bristled at this, his branches moaning softly in agony. “My friends…!” he seethed.
“And I dare say he’s on his way here right now to wreak havoc and destroy us all,” Sage finished proudly.
A silence followed this statement. Then–
The crowd parted, rippling out of their chairs like a tsunami. Screams and chaos crashed through the yard, the doors to the Smudged Thoughts studio ripped open to admit a swarm of fleeing fantastical humans and creatures. Over the tree line, a brilliant flame erupted, smoking the trees and sending leaf tips into burning candles. Another roar, this one louder and more fierce, and the pounding crackle of wings hitting air.
Sighing, Kenzie stepped across the stage, took the microphone up from where Pippin had thrown it down in terror only moments before, and tapped her fingers thrice upon it.
“Ladies and gentleman, thank you for joining us for the 2022 Silmaril Awards Ceremony for Most Mishievous Imp! Please remember to grab your coats by the door as you flee in terror. I don’t want to have to try and track you down over page and spine just to give you back your clothing articles. There are cupcakes in the back as well, if you’d like. Or, you know, just keep running and screaming. That’s fine too. Thanks, all, and goodnight.”
talk to me, peasants!
Oh goodness, gracious, I can’t believe that another Silmaril has come and gone! Three years now. Each one ending in chaos. Maybe next year will be a wee bit calmer. XD (I certainly hope so. Smudged Thoughts Studio has suffered a LOT of emotional trauma at this point!)
Well, friends, let’s hear what you think of the results! When I saw there was a tie for first place, I knew there was only one thing to do–take it to the Ents. XD Hopefully their deliberations were correct. Let me know what you think of the Silmaril Awards so far down in the comments below! Tell me your favorite thing that’s happened thus far, as well as which character (nominated or not) YOU would have given Most Mischievous Imp to–if you were an Ent, of course. XD
And before you go, DON’T FORGET that the Silmaril Awards will return TOMORROW over on Grace’s blog for Most Majestic Ruler! You are NOT going to want to miss it, friends! We also have the giveaway still running, which goes until the end of the Silmaril Awards, so make sure you enter if you haven’t already!
As always, until next time…
* flings cookies in the air and disappears *