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A Conspiracy of Hobbits  by Dreamflower 4 Review(s)
GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 22 on 11/9/2005
What a dilemma - to leave this review first or skip over to PippinHealers and read part eleven of your new story that just popped up in my e-mail! It's a good thing I *loved* this chapter.

What on Middle Earth is Brandy Hall doing with a stockpile of extra bathing tubs? No wonder Pippin likes to visit there so much!

"Buckland held so many sad memories for her husbandís cousin. But it was his childhood home, and his closest family were here, now that Bilbo had left. Maybe he had just beome lonely, rattling around that great hole all by himself. He had not always been so much a loner as he later became. When he was a small child, he had been such a delight, open, loving--the pet of the Hall. But after his parentsí death, all that had changed--he was still loving, but he was no longer open, and he did not want to be the pet of anyone except the mother and father he no longer had. It was not until Merry came along that she had again seen any joy on Frodoís face; but even afterwards, he still had bouts of melancholy that only Merry could erase."

That was so touching and sad it almost made me want to cry. How I wish that Frodo were still the open and loving hobbit he had been before his parents' deaths.

"Now he felt like blubbering on his own account--this might be the last night he would spend with his family, and he couldnít even let them know it. He had to stop this. If his parents guessed something was wrong, and pressed him, he was not sure he could lie effectively."

I'm so glad Merry had this opportunity for one last night at Buckland with his parents. It must have been so difficult for him to keep it together in front of them, especially since he has always been so open with his parents.

"Actually Pippin was more than a bit unsettled, he was scared, and he darenít show it. He glanced at Sam, who shook his head."

I hadn't thought of how difficult it must have been for Sam and Pippin to walk to Buckland with Frodo with all of the scary troubles they had with the Black Riders and *not* talk about what it really meant. For them not to be able to speak openly since Pippin supposedly didn't know what was going on - that must have been difficult for all three of them. However, I'm not so sure they would have wanted to discuss it anyway, since they were so frightened of it. And Pippin had the extra burden of not being able to even show that he *was* frightened for fear that when the time came to tell Frodo the truth, that Frodo would not allow him to come along on the Quest. That's an awful lot for a tweenager to carry inside of him for so long!

Celandine - lol!

I'm so glad you included that walking song! I couldn't help but hear Billy Boyd sing it as I read the words, even before I came to the lines that Pippin sang later on in the movie. You so nicely brought the two together and explained how there were at least two different tunes. Sung to the slower-Took melody, it really is more poignant, especially when you know what lies ahead for our hobbits on this dangerous mission.

Merry's letter - *sniff!* Merry is a gifted writer; that letter was beautiful. His parents must have been so worried! He must have felt wretched, leaving without saying goodbye to his parents and not knowing if he would ever see them again. How horrible! And to leave his parents to explain to Pippin's parents, especially knowing the temper that Paladin has. My heart goes out to Merry. He's a great son.

I loved the references to Gandalf, Elrond, Tom Bombadil, and Aragorn here. It's something mentioned in canon but which we do not get to see from Gildor's point of view.

I really am enjoying this more the second time around!

Author Reply: LOL! I think you are the first person to comment on the bathtubs! But Brandy Hall, by all accounts was "a warren" we are told, with a large and shifting population. And hobbits, we are told never throw things away, they just store them up as mathoms, in case they are ever needed again. I figure that perhaps when there are not quite so many hobbits living there, they store the extra tubs away, against the time when there *are*, or when there are lots of guests. It just seems rather a hobbity way to do things.

How I wish that Frodo were still the open and loving hobbit he had been before his parents' deaths.

He would, I think, have been a good deal like our Pippin, though perhaps less impulsive, as he had the Baggins in him to steady him down a bit, and enough Brandybuck to make him think things out. But to become the strong hobbit he would be when the Quest came along, he had to be tempered by tragedy and loss. When he accepted the duty of Ringbearer, he already knew what it was to lose the important things in his life, and so he could cope.

Poor Merry; he really was going because of Frodo. He loved his family and Buckland, and unlike Pippin, would have been just as happy to stay there and never seek adventure, though he'd never shy away from it if it came to him, and would meet it head-on and with a strategy. As of course, he did.

The walk from Hobbiton to Buckland was not going to have been easy for the three, even without putting Black Riders into the equation. As you have noted, they can't *talk* to one another about what's uppermost on all their minds. Though they outwardly seem light-hearted, they most certainly are not. Frodo and Sam can't talk, because Pippin supposedly doesn't know; and of course Pippin and Sam can't talk because Frodo is unaware that Pippin *does* know; certainly Frodo and Pippin can't talk, for each fears giving something away. How hard it must have been! But Frodo, of course, has not been "reading" his younger cousins as well, because of his own secrets. So it's no wonder he missed the subtle signs he would have noticed otherwise.

For years, I have always heard that to the rather nice tune Donald Swann wrote for The Road Goes Ever On. It's fairly upbeat and jolly. But Billy Boyd's adaptation for the last verse in RotK is so poignant and haunting that I loved it as well. And many songs, especially folksongs, have more than one tune to them, so it just made sense. And I like paying small homages to the movies as long as it will not violate book canon.

One problem of writing gap-fillers which overlap book-events that are shown, is the risk of just quoting huge blocks of the original, or skipping a lot of things altogether. One way around that is to use a different POV. And I wanted to show that the Elves were actually a lot more concerned and proactive than they let on to the hobbits.

I'm so glad. It's a lot of fun to go over it again with you!

PervincaReviewed Chapter: 22 on 4/10/2004
Very, very clever, working Bombadil and Aragorn's assistance to the hobbits into this chapter. You've written the elves as well as you have written the hobbits! I absolutely loved the Brandy Hall scene between Fredegar and Celandine. I think that she would be every bit as flirtatious as you have made her (in fact, I enjoy pairing her with Peregrin :P). It will be interesting to see how you use Merry's little slip-up in his father's study.

Author Reply: Thank you. We know that both Bombadil and Aragorn had heard about the hobbits' plight, and the assumption has always been that it was somehow from Gildor. I just made it more than an assumption. I'm glad you liked the way I wrote the Elves; I was a bit nervous about that. (Trying to avoid OCs when possible, I needed names for the messengers, though. I just ran random words through one of those online Elvish name generators until I got three that sounded right.
So if they are not quite right, that's why; I'm not an Elvish scholar.)

I wanted to do a little flirting scene involving Fredegar, and I remembered Celandine from the family tree, but when I went to check her, I saw she would have been way too young for Fatty. But this actually made it better. I don't know that hobbits would use the term "jail bait", but I was sure there would be the hobbitly equivalent of the concept. There's no actual explanation for how the age difference thing works, but I figure Pip at 28 is about the equivalent of around 16 or 17, which would make Celandine at 24 about equal to 13 or 14. Anyway, she's underage. Good old Merry to the rescue. Again.

Merry's little slip up? Well, that might actually be another story. 8-)

Grey WondererReviewed Chapter: 22 on 4/10/2004
Yet another wonderful chapter. Where do I start? I thought that you did a wonderful job of showing Merry's concern for his parents and how homesick he was. I also enjoyed seeig Frodo and Pippin and Sam as the elves saw them. I like the way you chose to write that part of the chapter. It was less about Frodo's pov and more what the elves saw which is something new. Enjyed how careful Pippin was trying to be so that Frodo didn't know how frightened he was. This really is wonderful!

Author Reply: I realized when I came to this part, that when I was showing the walking party, it would have to be from a different POV, or I would just end up quoting huge chunks of FOTR, with nothing new to show for it. Since we are not told too much about what this group of Elves thought, it was ready made for me.
Pippin is already having to learn to control himself in order to make things easier for Frodo.
Merry knows what this will do to his parents. It just has to tear him up a little.

GamgeeFestReviewed Chapter: 22 on 4/9/2004
Poor Merry! It's so hard not to cry in front of your mother sometimes, cuz you really just want to be cuddled and comforted, even if you are too old. But he kept it together wonderfully (though you really can never fool a mother, can you?)

So Gildor knew Sam was faking sleep! I never thought of him breaking up his traveling party to send out the messages, but that does make sense.

Great chapter. Keep it up!

Author Reply: It's pretty hard on Merry right now. I don't think he's in the habit of deceiving his parents on anything important, and also he knows how hard this is going to be on them, since he's an only child.
Gildor was one of the High Elves, and so was very perceptive (that's why I had him see the Fea) and I'm thinking that he would be able to tell when someone was asleep or not by that. I figured he sent out messengers because it would have taken too long for the whole party, while one or two runners could travel much more swiftly. I'm trying to tell the story of the walking party from a different POV than Tolkien used. Usually that's Pippin (because JRRT used mostly Frodo or Sam) but in this case, I decided to go with the elves.
I'm glad you liked the chapter. I posted it without my beta, because she told me she would be out of touch for a couple of days, and I really wanted to get at least one more chapter up for the weekend.

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