On a field in a distant County, just south of the winding Pyrenees, there inhabited some twenty-odd hobbits. It was not a dirty, wet field, spotted with little puddles and upturned pitch; nor yet a dry, sandy hole speckled with bare patches: it was a hobbit pitch, and that means an expanse of short, watered, green grass. The field was surrounded by well-cobbled, upright walls; it had a perfectly oval opening at the top like a giant skylight, and all ‘round lined up straight, freshly-painted seats with brass letters. The broad doors below opened into a tunnel: a very wide one, hung with photographs of hobbit-heroes past, and the floors were smooth. Just outside the tunnel doors, two dugouts provided chairs emblazoned with the hobbit badge, and lots and lots of pegs for mufflers and overcoats — the hobbits were fond of visitors, as they maintained a perfect record at home against them.
On our particular morning, the hobbit-forwards are practicing the “deep run” towards goal. They frolick about, flicking a glossy white orb this way and that. Suddenly, a blue-and-red figure – so fast it blurs to purple, then into sparkles of nothingness – flashes towards the net and nestles the orb in its silver web.
Fabregas nudges Iniesta. “I can avoid being seen if I wish,” he says. “But to disappear entirely, that is a rare gift.” Andrés nods in appreciative agreement as Lionel crystallizes again into hobbit form.
“That’s for shire!” Andrés cries. “He’ll score baggins of goals, he will!”
Víctor Valdés grimaces, scooping up the orb and tossing it lightly to Alexis. “It might not be so easy, you know,” he says. “They have a cave troll.”
“Meh,” replies Alexis, glancing the orb from one pectoral muscle to another. “They haven’t gotten a load of me yet. I’m a maravilla.”
“Hey, me too!” David dashes diagonally onto the pitch, then pauses to stroke a sprouting soul-patch.
“Oh no,” groans Iniesta. “Not the beard.”
“Well, it’s a little late for trimming the verge, don’tcha think?” David replies. “It’s my good-luck charm. Much better than a tattoo, or some shiny trinket.” He threads his fingers through his thick tresses, pointing them upwards. Fabregas does the same. The Bald Ones share an exasperated glance.
At mid-field, Xavi wags a finger upwards towards Busquets. “And you, behave yourself. The officials will be waiting, baiting their breath and biding their gold and crimson foul-badges.”
Busquets shrugs. “If you’re referring to the incident with Pippin Higgwins, I was barely involved. All I did was give him a little nudge out of bounds.” Dani dashes by, clipping Busquets on his woven ankle-sock. “Ouch,” Busquets complains, as Dani chortles past.
Xavi places his hands on his hips. “Whatever you did, you’ve been officially labeled a disturber of the peace,” he frowns. “So … watch it.”
In the defensive end, Mascherano charges and slides, charges and slides. “You cannot pass!” he cries, lashing out a cleated foot as he propels his compact body along the verdant turf. “You shall not pass!”
Puyol glances towards him. “It’s not necessary to slide-tackle the traffic cones, Javier.”
“You shall not pass!” Thud.
Puyol looks over to his partner, pecking away at a strange glossy device which produces magical musical notes and illuminated motion-pictures. “What are you on about, then?”
A gaggle of lanky hobbits skip down the sideline, waving their arms towards the sky like a wondruous deciduous forest at a canter. One steps out, onto the pitch, and glances over Gerard’s shoulder. “My own, my love, my precious …” he reads aloud. Puyol and the Young Ones snort and giggle.
Gerard snatches the device away and hoards it under his broad chest. “At least sssome of ussss are attractive to girlssssss,” he hisses. Pained, the lanky lad returns to his skipping.
“And you! You shall not pass, either!” Thud. Puyol and Gerard flinch.
“Okay, group,” calls Puyol. “Two more laps of silly walks and we’ll call it a day.”
And a fine day it was, that day in the hobbits’ lush green hollow.
End of Book II