"Try for that one over there, the red one," Lenny said, pointing to the top shelf. "I can't see the title on it."
Bruce was standing on an upside-down small rubbish bin that was on the seat of a chair that was on a table that was pushed next to the library stack. The make-shift pillar swayed as he stretched his arm over to a small red book.
"Get down; you're going to fall down," Owen snarled.
"You know, it would help if you would just remember what she said," Bruce retorted before he jumped off the small bin and onto the table top. The chair tipped over and there was a loud noise. Everyone looked at the door, but no one was there.
"It would help, too, if you'd just get it down, Chaucer," Bruce said with a sacrastic tone. For him, being left under the supervision of a house-elf was as humiliating as being stuck with a baby-sitter.
Chaucer blinked but said nothing. He was sitting on a chair, watching the children as if they were in a pantomime. The floor was littered with rubish from the bin, but because the children made the mess, the Community rule was that the children had to clean it up.
Owen was on the floor, on his stomach, looking at the book spines. "Just look for 'cross-universe' in the title. That's what the he said. And Lucy wouldn't have her books here anyway."
"Are you sure Lucy read it in a book? That someone didn't tell her?" Bruce said as he pushed the table over a few more feet and picked up the bin.
"Didn't she tell you?" Owen replied. "She told me all about what a stupid baby you were--"
"Shut up, Owen, or I'll take your Major Tom and--"
"It's ruined anyway. I'll bet it never gets cleaned. Whose idea was it to go get Healer S's stuff? She's going be really mad when she finds out."
"Some of them looked like space monsters," Lenny said. "I didn't tell those goblins to come here."
"Some of the goblins looked like Healer S's stuff," Bruce said. "Maybe they are? Maybe the room can enlarge stuff. Maybe it's all fake. Maybe the so-called 'king' is a liar."
"I want the horse thing," Leia said, as she tried to pull a chess piece from her cousin's back pocket.
"No!" Owen shouted. "Can't you leave anything alone?"
"I've got all the little people, and they need a horse," she said.
Owen rolled over to protect his knight and hurt his bum as a result.
"It's all your fault," he told Leia. "If you weren't such a big baby."
"I'm not a baby," she said. "Jareth said so."
"Jareth is not going to take you to any stupid dance, or underground, or anything else. And neither is Healer G, so you can just quit being an idiot around them."
"I am not an idiot! You are!" She swung her purse full of chess pawns at him and hit him on the knee.
"I wish the goblins would come back and take you away," Owen snapped as he pulled the knight out of his pocket.
"Found it," Lenny said. "It's a grey cover. That's the problem."
"Looks kinda new to me," Bruce said as he looked at the small paperback book. Professor Kirke's Guide to Cross-Universe Travel had different fonts for the lettering, and a small illustration of an owl pointing to the words. The book looked as if it had just been purchased recently. The back was still smooth, and the covers were stiff. "Are you sure this is it?"
Lenny shrugged. "Let's look."
He and Bruce sat down together, ignoring the slap fight that was going on. Owen stuffed the knight into the front of his shirt and sat down on the floor on the other side of Lenny. Leia, not wanting to be left out, sat down too.
"Let me look," Bruce said, making a grab for the book.
"I found it," Lenny said, avoiding Bruce. "I think I found it. It's in the back here. 'Underground. Mostly harmless. Small contained kingdom primarily occupied by beings referred to as 'goblins', height ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 metres and other non-human creatures. Ruled by king, presumed immortal, named "Jareth". Appearance is described as "a beautiful man with mismatched eyes." Key geographic features are bog, castle, city, city dump, gardens, labyrinth or maze, oubliettes...."
"What's that?" Wilf interrupted.
"...sewer, slums, walls. Entrance to universe strictly controlled by king: No other way known. Primary reference information by Kezia Pennington, age 115, and Olive Bones, age 92, each claimed to have been there in her youth. Other accounts discovered in estate diaries, some of Muggle origin. See appendices. See also: goblins, logic games, music, orbs (crystal), owls, tests of character." Finished, Lenny looked up at the others.
"That's it? Let me see," Bruce said, successfully taking the book away from him. "Anyone can fake that. Let's see what it says about cleaning up. I bet he has to."
"Chaucer, can I go to the loo?" Wilf whined.
Chaucer got off the table. "Everyone come with Chaucer and Wilf," he said firmly. With some grumbling, the small group left the library and went to the washroom that was inside the closest classroom.
As the younger children took turns using the small room, Bruce asked Chaucer, "I'll bet you think that this whole thing is really stupid. I'll bet that I end up having to clean the Anti-Grav room. I'll bet that Jareth is just a clown Lucy met and she made the whole thing up. I wish she'd left me out of it."
Chaucer waited until Bruce finished his turn. The other children had gone back to the library and were playing with the chess pieces, using books to make walls and towers. "But Lucy Graves did not make it up," Chaucer said as the two went to join the others.
"How do you know?" Bruce said.
"Because Chaucer went there," he said. "Chaucer met Soldat at cross-universe convention. That's where Chaucer got clothes."
Bruce looked at the outfit Chaucer had on. "You mean that...that idiot wore those?"
Chaucer looked pleased with himself. "Chaucer made clothes fit. Goblin King said Chaucer looked good. Where was Bruce when Goblin King said so?"
"You mean you know how to get there?" Bruce said loudly. The other children stopped their play and looked up.
"Chaucer knows," the house-elf said. "Chaucer Apparated with Soldat."
"Can I go?" Leia begged.
"Then how do we get there?" Lenny asked.
"We are NOT going there," Bruce shouted. "Don't tell him, Chaucer!"
Chaucer blinked. "Lenny would get to Underground if Lenny was babysitting and said to baby, 'I wish the goblins would come and take you away, right now.'"
Goblins jumped in from nowhere. They seized the children and disappeared.
Chaucer stood alone in silent room, blinked and then Apparated.