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The Gifts in Small Packages (NC-17) Print

Written by December

18 July 2018 | 43706 words | Work in Progress

Chapter 23.

He follows the Queen’s maiden through the corridors, and as they pass the other inhabitants of the palace, Pippin can feel the curious gazes. An Elf servant, radiant like buttery sunlight and easily fairer than any mortal noble-woman, and with her a Halfling clad in Gondorian black. He understands they make for an unlikely pair – but it irks him nevertheless that after all this time, people still stare.

Not as much, of course, as they would at the Queen herself.

In all the time of Faramir’s absence – in all the time of Pippin’s being in Minas Tirith, he has had extremely little interaction with her. Whether because Aragorn shields her from the tedium, or because of lack of interest on her own part, she involves herself little in the governance of the realm, and their paths seldom cross.

He knows no sure way to discern what Aragorn may have told her, what she may have perceived herself, and what she may want of him now – so he opts for his well-trodden and only available route, taking everything as it comes.

As the doors to the Queen’s quarters part, Pippin is greeted by the sound of music and water running.

Stepping through, he cannot help but gape about wide-eyed.

This is a very large place, almost a hall – or more or less like one, for on the far end where windows or a balcony should be, there is nothing at all. Not even a safety parapet – it opens straight into the cobalt mountain skies beyond.

Along both walls tall columns wrought in the likeness of trees stretch up to support the vaulted ceiling, marble branches adorned with golden leaves intertwining high above Pippin’s head. Two long pools of water, set right into the floor, run from one wall to the other. They cut the room into three sections: the one at the entrance, another leading to the open drop in the back, and a raised platform in between, from where water is cascading into the two pools. It is there that a desk is set up for the Queen, and Elven songstresses stand gently echoing the melody of the current with their crystal voices.

He is uncertain how he is meant to get there until his guide walks across the water.

Pippin gazes down and sees pillars set in the pool floor. Rising level with the surface, each is crowned with an ornate tile to form a path of sorts. As he carefully walks over, the water at his feet seems bottomless from the black-stone lining of the pool, and he can see many silver-bodied fish swimming swiftly below.

The illusion of depth plays with his balance, and he looks to the side instead – but this does not help at all, for suddenly the space around him explodes and unfolds into endlessness, and he is at once enclosed and out in the wide open. It takes a long, dizzy moment of blinking and tightness in the chest to realise that this, too, is an artful effect made with craft.

Every inch of wall between the stone trees is filled with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, so it is as though he has been carried through space and time and is crossing an enchanted river flowing through an infinity forest. The panes must be set at the slightest of angles, for somehow there is no image of a small Hobbit multiplied countlessly into the distance – only water and trees, as far as the eye can see, as far as the mind can imagine.

He breathes out, looks back down to his feet. Not far left to go, he can get through this with some semblance of poise.

The last few pillars rise up into the air like a disembodied staircase to allow access to the elevated platform, and Pippin’s knees are soft with relief as finally he steps back onto solid ground.

He dares not lift his eyes to his royal host straight away. So much of why Faramir cannot be happy revolves around her, and she is not only Queen of Gondor but so much beyond, yet somehow he is meant to not acknowledge any of it.

As Pippin tries to buy time by stealing a glance around, it becomes clear to him that this lofty place is, in fact, a workshop. Most of the floor is taken up by one enormous length of canvas, on which parts of a complex design are set in coloured inks.

The Queen herself is clad in a cold, dark blue, like deep water. It is, of course, expensively made, and the fabric is luxury incarnate, but if ever he has seen one, this is a working dress. The cut of the hem is wide and without a train – for unrestrained movement; the sleeves and bodice fit snug with no loose bits to get in the way, and the sole adornment is a white pearl at the cuff.

“You are come,” she says.

As he looks up and is caught in her gaze, suddenly he realises that although there is no apparent source of heat, the air is soft and young like the breath of spring, despite winter taking over outside.

He ought to greet the Lady in the appropriate manner, he is vaguely, distantly aware of this. Just as he is only distantly aware of his own self, of his own existence. She is everything, and the only reason his primitive consciousness is even permitted to mar the earth in her wake is that he may gaze upon her with love and wonder. Her eyes are like summer twilight, brimming with all the magic of the world. All the good that has ever been, and that could ever be, is already foretold in her face, and there is nothing else at all, no reason…

Arwen waits expressionlessly for him to weather the blow that is her beauty.

At the exact point when the pause would become a disgrace for him, she turns away to dismiss her maidens.

Pippin wakes up with a start and hears himself draw in a rushed, loud breath.

He throws his body down at the waist, for only a bow of this degree could be suitable. “Your Majesty!”

Bracing himself, he straightens up slowly, delaying as much as he can until he must look at her again. It is not much easier the second time around.

Her beauty radiates such tangible pleasure directly into his heart that he cannot help but stare, drink her in with his eyes. It is rude, but surely it would be even ruder not to give this divine loveliness its due.

Her bosom rises in a stifled sigh, and Arwen stands up, relieving him of the sight of her face.

“I would that you assist me.”

“Of course, my lady. Whatever you may wish.”

She sighs again, and it seems to him that he catches a heaviness, a note of disappointment in the turn of her head. That even someone like him cannot resist the sweet haze that surrounds her.

“I am making a tapestry. You will advise me.”

“Of course, Your Majesty. Though I am afraid I am not that much versed in the arts.”

“That does not matter, it is not style you shall be helping me with.”

She walks over to the canvas, presses some concealed lever with her foot, and the frame upon which the canvas is stretched turns upright, so they see it as though it were hung along a wall. A panoramic view of a landscape unfolds before him, done as a meticulously detailed, heavily stylised map. His eye instinctively goes to where a river cuts close to the perpendicular meeting of two mountain chains, and there sits the City of Kings, in all her fragile glory, across from a brewing pool of dark shadow.

“A remarkable project,” he comments respectfully.

“I have no interest in mediocrity,” she replies. Coming from her, the words strangely lack in arrogance, for she states them without affectation, as simple fact. “This is to show all of Middle-earth as we knew it at the cusp of ages. Five-score feet in length it will be, to give each realm its due. You,” she tips her right hand at him while with her left indicating an empty space towards the far end of the canvas, “will tell me how to best represent your homeland.”

Pippin laughs. “Your Majesty, you honour me beyond my merit to suggest I could grant you any understanding such that you could not gain yourself. Perhaps Frodo, and especially Bilbo, could tell you something new, but of all of us, I have always been the clueless one ambling along and walking into things.”

She gives him an odd, unsettling look. “It is not possible to call on their services.”

“Then I shall be glad to serve you to my best ability, my lady.”

“Do you require time to gather your thoughts, or can we begin now?”

“Whichever Your Majesty would prefer.”

“I have no desire to wait,” she says, picking up what looks like a long stylus, “I no longer have all the time in the world.”

That is hard to believe. She seems not so much young, as altogether untouchable by age. As though she gets brand new skin every day at dawn, as though hers is not so much one woman’s face, but rather the pure concept of a face. The thought of Illuvatar made visible.

Pippin’s heart cramps and hurts him at the thought that she will be lost someday, that her goodness must leave the world. He will do anything he can to make her stay if a little more worthwhile.

Arwen interviews him thoroughly, methodically, with a scholarly detachment – which in her case puts him much more at ease than any forced attempt at friendliness. Watching her at work, it is impossible to ignore how strangely alike they actually are, her and his lord. The same solemn nobility, the effortless grace, the smooth lustre of their raven hair. The measured, thoughtful tone of their voice, the at times unnervingly sharp edge of their minds.

Hours flow one into another, but he remembers neither thirst nor hunger. She listens attentively to his every word, nodding to herself and sketching down her understanding. Her long brows crease if perfection eludes her; she fills a pitcher from the waterfall, and pours it over the canvas, where by some unknown Elven method it dissolves the ink without wetting the fabric.

The light begins to change, it will soon be time to bring in the candles.

This has not been so bad after all. Quite a nice way to spend the day actually.

Until she asks him, with no change in tone, as she taps the Shire area with the butt of her instrument, “And what is missing here – to compel you to go all the way over there?” She nods her head, without looking, towards the layered white cake of Minas Tirith.

Pippins starts, looks at her in alarm.

She is just as before, her inquisitiveness calm and aloof. “I need to understand that which moves the heart. To show the essence of things, not their mere image. Appearance is not always directly proportional to what lies within.”

“It is not, Your Majesty,” he agrees.

“And so?”

“Must… something be missing, my lady?”

“Always – such is the way of the world. Ever since the first marring of Arda, in the time of the Great Music, every single thing has something amiss. And those few that do not, that are the closest to perfection – are not allowed to exist overlong. We are told not to rue the marring, for Arda remade shall be greater than Arda unmarred. I won’t be there to see it, and for now this is how it must be.”

“I am not sure I understand this sort of thing, my lady, I am sorry…”

“What this means in practical terms is, joy always has loss written into it, as love – sorrow. It is why we know fear, but also – hope. Desire holds a key to every heart. My people long for a glimpse of the things that had once been, the Dwarves yearn for cold things that shine and glimmer, and the evil creatures that hobble and crawl – they envy and ache to destroy all things of grace and beauty. And nowhere in the world will you find such hunger as burns in the hearts of Men – for many wild things, beyond reason and comprehension. But you!” she turns to him with such intensity that he nearly jumps. “I was told that of all peoples, yours are the only who can know true contentment, who are freed from the hankering for the innocence of your ways. But if you were free – why are you here?”

He tries to look nonchalant and composed, not like he is working hard to stall and think.

“Well, Your Majesty… It does not seem such a bad place to be.” Pippin spreads his hands to indicate the wonder of the room about them as just one of the many examples of Gondor’s greatness, but she looks about as impressed as if he had tried to offer her a dog’s bowl in the guise of a royal dinner.

“That may be for some, but certainly it would be less so for you. If my memory does not betray me – which it seldom does – you were of a high birth in your land, and would have been the lord of your people one day?”

“Well, we do not call it lord, as such. But yes, I would have, I was meant to.”

“Is it not also true that you had friends, and kin, and a way of life that was blissful and simple?”

“It is true, yes.”

“And you tore up that life, and what did you trade it in for? To toil as a servant, to scour and run errands – for a man not even of royal line, who will never see you as one of his own kind.” She tilts her head, watches him keenly. “Among people who are nobody to you, who neither understand nor care what moves you, who stare at you, at your height, your ears, your feet.”

He blinks, lowers his head.

“I suppose that I did, Your Majesty. When you put it like that, I guess that does make it look like things must have been pretty drab in the Shire, but if you’ll excuse me, I don’t think it had anything to do with that at all. Perhaps it speaks to my foolishness – but then again, I am a Took – it’s just that it was…”

“…it was the only way you could think of to be able to come here.”

He looks up, lets her eyes pierce him as he knows they would.

“You would pay any price,” she says quietly.

“I… I am not sure I am even given a choice, Your Majesty.”

Arwen turns to the empty skies in the distance, which are rapidly losing colour to the impending dusk. He cannot quite tell whether her pale face is stern or sad.

It is a long moment before she speaks again. “Do you…” she frowns, “do you ever wish to not have been woken from the life that you had? To keep your peace undisturbed, to have never known.”

“Your Majesty, I am sorry?”

She shakes her head, waves the question away, and the moment of candour passes.

Dipping the stylus in ink, Arwen returns to her project, and speaks to him as she etches new lines into the hills of his childhood. “So you are enamoured of their ways – few would blame you who walk the earth today. But it does not go the other way, remember that. This is the dominion of Men; the likes of you and I may join them in it, but do not think that it makes it ours. When the day comes that you and I are long gone, what do you think will be left of us in their memory, in their lore? Beyond such aspects of us that they found useful, or entertaining, or such that made them feel more important. You must look out for yourself, if you are to last here. Do not forget the capacity these people hold for greed, and pride, and selfishness. It is to them that we owe it that the great kingdoms of the Elvendom of old, and many of the lands in between, and the forests and beasts that grew and dwelled there – all lie at the bottom of the cold seas where the sun does not reach.”

He is trying to listen with due deference, but can feel his eyes glazing over.

She grins, and on such a fair face it is a disconcerting look.

“So, you think your master is different. I had thought so, too. He is quite… eager to please, isn’t he? Do you know, when first I came to Gondor, it was he who went to the greatest pains to ensure I was glad and had everything to my liking.”

“I had… not known that, my lady. But I cannot say I am exactly surprised.”

“Indeed. He…” her hand pauses over the canvas as her gaze turns inwards, “he can be so genuine about it. As though he actually cares, as though he truly sees the person in you, and not because station or interest dictate it. Take this room – had you heard of it before, or that it was he who designed and had it built for me?”

Pippin feels his mouth hang open. “Faramir? This?” He looks around with newfound awe, the previously intimidating space suddenly full of warm wonder.

“And so much else, too. Things that no one else had thought of, he took care of for me. He knows how to put at ease and gain trust, how to spark a connection that leaves you feeling like you’ve never known something quite like it. And so for a while he had seemed to me more as one of my own kin than a son of Men. Your master was – and is – among the few who look upon me with neither desire nor fear, which I had deemed a good thing. I had rejoiced to think that I would make a great friend in him.”

She gazes into space for a long time, and seems to Pippin surprisingly calm. Self-contained the way the sea can be self-contained, such that even when it overflows it can only overflow back into itself, return to itself, enclosed into its own unfathomable vastness and depths.

When she motions for him, he does not understand at first, until he sees the ewer. He fills it and hands it back to her, which she takes without looking.

She takes a step back to appraise the canvas, and shakes her head. “And you know what, in the end, he is just like everyone else. What is this phrase they use in Gondor? When push comes to shove, isn’t it? He will put himself first.”

Arwen lifts her arm and pours the water over the entire expanse of that day’s work. Not a single nerve moves in her face as the invisible force eats all the pigment away.

Pippin shudders, tries not to stare at the blank gap. “I am sorry it has not worked out as you would have liked,” he says, and for want of anything better to add, offers, “but I am sure Your Majesty has no lack of friends here.”

She laughs.

“I have no lack of loyal vassals and adoring servants, that much is true. But I did not come for friends – I would welcome them gladly, but if it does not happen, then so be it. There are other things I must attend to.” She glances towards the vast draft of her tapestry. “I have my task to continue, and you must be growing tired, for it is late.”

Like from a slap, he wakes up back to his body. To a parched mouth, stomach twisted with hunger, and an ache chewing on his lower back from all the standing.

Pippin bows, and the Queen thanks him for his assistance.

Just as he is about to turn and brave those aerial stairs back into the water, as though on an impulse, she reaches for him. The touch of her cool fingers on his arm is at once the softest and the most steel-like sensation he has known, these young fingers that have held things which are long ago nothing but dust.

“Pippin.”

She looks upon him, and he sees that despite the divide, despite their respective places in this mess of Aragorn’s making, she is not beyond compassion.

“Go to the Houses of the Kings,” she says. “In the Silent Street. You shall find comfort.”

“Your Majesty…?”

She knows he does not understand, but does not consider it necessary to explain.

“But do not go at night,” she only says.


To be continued…

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64 Comment(s)


NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Wow, very promising – and finely written, as always. :) Hope to see more soon!

elektra121    10 April 2011, 15:13    #

Love this…can’t wait for more.

— tree    11 April 2011, 18:12    #

It only becomes the more interesting! Well, there are certain shapes forming, but they stay in the shadow for now. I find you capture Pippin nicely and I’m very much looking forward to the Faramir of this story! ;) (And the reason it’s rated NC-17…)

elektra121    3 May 2011, 22:52    #

Many thanks to everyone for the ‘thanks’ and the kind comments :)
Elektra, Faramir is sure to come on stage shortly! And, well, yes, there’s obviously going to be some stuff that… you know, gives the story its rating ;)

December    16 May 2011, 08:18    #

Ah yes – there he is! :) And, man, Pippin is really smitten… I wonder what and if Faramir suspects anything. Can’t wait for more!

elektra121    19 May 2011, 17:01    #

Nicely done! Looking forward to what develops!

— Kathy    19 May 2011, 18:34    #

This is shaping into a very enjoyable story. I hate to be a whiner but… chapter too short. (I’m enjoying quite a lot.)

— Bell Witch    25 May 2011, 06:30    #

Love this line – “What he knew for certain was that when Peregrin Took is left overlong one on one with his own self, he is bound to eventually go and get this self involved in some highly imprudent typically Tookish endeavour” – and what you’ve conveyed so far. Looks like a lovely, though bittersweet, time for our Pippin.

Excellently written, as always!

Alcardilmë    14 June 2011, 21:50    #

Thank you a million, everyone, for the lovely comments!
Bell Witch, indeed, I’m trying a smaller chapter format for this story than I usually do. MAybe it’s got something to do with Pippin having the lead role here, he’s just so different from everybody I’d written before that I had to make a change for him.

December    15 June 2011, 16:46    #

I say, you do an amazing job making this constellation believable! Especially by pointing out all the difficulties, the social obstacles and Pippin´s realistic estimation of how people around must see him.

I think another interesting point is how putting somebody on a pedestal might turn into…well, not the opposite but certainly something to deal with. In Pippin´s opinion Faramir is so pure, so free of human flaws that serving this noble man becomes almost a burden for him – because there is hardly a chance to reach this ideal. I´m really curious how he will get out of this predicament…

And of course the local colour! I love the idea of Minas Tirith becoming a little multi-culural, including the porn version of multi-cultural. ;) Frankly I envy you for the fun you must have had making up each ethnicity´s sexual “speciality”! X)

raven22372    17 October 2011, 20:48    #

Well, FINALLY we’ve come to the REAL story! ;) After so much british 19.-century-butler-romanticism (which was fine in itself, but you promised an “R”-story!) now the not-so-completely-clean-ironed edge draws near…

elektra121    17 October 2011, 22:00    #

Thanks, guys, for taking the time! Your kind words mean a lot to me :)

raven, haha, I did indeed have fun. Since this is a Pippin story, it feels there should be more fun spots than otherwise warranted. And, funnily enough, I’d written that particular bit a few months back, and since then I’ve come to New Zealand – and my, the diversity of options here, teehee… I only then realised what my story subjected the ladies to xD

elektra, oh my, Pippin would be appalled at the notion, lol! He does take pride in his ironing you know :D

December    22 October 2011, 09:40    #

I must say this ship grows more and more on me with each new chapter! And this time, beside the tender sensual atmosphere and the emotional warmth I can also feel a strange conjunction with the comments you recently wrote me. Especially what you said about Pippin + candles + libraries = very bad idea. Why yes, the Peregrin Took we used to know was if not a fool so at least a safety risk. One could almost see the warning sign placed over his head: “Don´t give the Took any matches nor anything sharper than a fish knife and for the Valars´ sake don´t tell him any secrets” (okay, I agree he carries a sword). Well, this Took obviously has grown-up eventually. Back then there was always somebody to put him out of the frying pan; I think he was just used to have a kind of fool´s license and be liked that way even if not taken serious. But now he has a reason to – well, maybe not impress but to prove he´s worthy. And Faramir must sense he´s gone through a profound change. As kind as he may be, he is certainly able to estimate the risk he takes by giving Pip permission to shave him (which imo is a wonderful image). And it´s fascinating to witness the inner development of this character, always logic, always realistic and yet so enchanting.

And then Faramir´s sadness. You depict it exactly the way I figured it: a profound loneliness that doesn´t make him bitter but gives him an aura of… oh, I think you put it down best as you wrote “To Pippin, Faramir in his patient, undemonstrative sadness is beautiful.”

I´m sorry I spammed you with ramblings again. Actually I just wanted to let you know how dear your story (your writing in general) is to me. Not only that it makes me feel – it also makes me think. There are so many aspects to ponder about – I can´t even put it in words. Thank you so very much for that. :)

— raven22372    19 November 2011, 18:53    #

Oooh, Raven, thank you so much for that comment!

I’m very glad you find Pip’s character development all the nice things you say, and that in fact it comes across as development :D To me, personally, he seemed like one of the characters with the greatest potential for it. Take the Hobbits, for instance. Yes, of course, Frodo was never the same after the Ring Quest – yet at the same time, it felt to me the Ring had not altered anything fundamental in him, rather drew on what had been there all along. After all, he’d always been considered deep and strange in the Shire, long before any adventures. And it’s no coincidence he and no one other was chosen by Bilbo to receive the Ring, etc. And somehow the fact he stayed away from marriage also hints to me he was not of a very earthy sort.

Sam, too, had had this whole die-for-my-master thing going all along :)

Pippin, on the other hand, had been this jolly carefree lad who got involved into big epic quests out of sooooo-curious-wait-take-me-along-too and/or simply knowing no better (kind of like Merry, I guess). And then he sees the real other side of War, that people can die because of his foolishness lack of responsibility (Gandalf falling in Moria ultimately because Pippin threw the pebble and all the ancient evils awoke; and Boromir because Pipin was running amock screaming and attracted all the Orcs in the woods). Worse still, he sees that War does not necessarily unite everyone in the face of the common enemy – you know, the whole ‘my second son is an idiot, why o why do the Valar hate me so much’ incident. I must say that the rescue operation he and Beregond mounted for Faramir had secured for the two of them a very special place in my heart. One thing to fight courageously against the Nazgul and Shelob and stuff, entiraly another to perceive the wrong on your own side and have the guts to stand against it.

And I also loved it how Pippin had this moment of truth experience when he saw Faramir for the first time and his heart was touched with new and strange feelings. It had something of a meant-to-be, I always felt, because after all by then Pipin had met all sort of awesome folk, including Aragorn,w ho may have not been Kin yet, but still was pretty awesome :) But no, it was only Faramir who opened up something inside him…

So yeah, that’s why this pairing is so special to me. I don’t even necessarily mean in the sexual/romantic context, although there’s sure plenty room for thought in that department ;) It’s just that it feels like Faramir works as some kind of chemical reagent on Pippin, actually changing the stuff he’s made of. And that’s a theme extremely enjoyable to delve into :)

Because, you know, it seems to me Faramir is generally one of those people who can turn the course of another. Think of his impact on, beside Pippin, Beregond, and his own father, and then Eowyn. I am sure there were many others simply not included in the particular LOTR story-line.

And in Pippin in particular it felt to me Faramir had sparked the yearning for the romantic. Not only or necessarily in the love-romantic sense, but all things romantic, like going to battle with joy because you are following your beloved leader whom you trust infinitely, like opposing the system to save the man you think is good and true, etc. I guess what I’m thinking about here is the good old chivalry :)

One more fascinating fact to keep in mind about Pips: all this happened to him before he had even reached adulthood. Imagine a human 17-year-old going through all the same trials without losing it…

So on the whole, it’s always surprised and saddened we that the endless possible facets of the F/P relationship are rather underexplored in fanfiction. Much as I’ll be the first to cheer for a good F/Aragorn or F/Boromir story – where are all the hundreds of tales one could write about Faramir and Pippin…?

And as a final note – I love getting comments from you! It’s amazing, and it makes me happy, and it inspires my writing, and it makes me want to hug you. So yeah, please keep making them whenever you feel like it :)))

December    20 November 2011, 00:44    #

May I hug you a little now? In a very careful way that makes sure your laptop won´t suffer any damage? :) Yes? (hugs) Thank you. :)

I´ll try to keep this short because it´s early in the morning and I have to catch a train/up to RL. ;) And besides; what is here left to say? You pointed out everything, from Pips being the Hobbit quivalent of a teenager to the influence Faramir has on this fellow people. All in all things I was aware of rather vaguely yet you have such a wonderful lively and clear-sighted way to put them down it makes all perfect sense. No need to say I could listen to you all day, sitting by the fire, having a nice cup of tea and a cookie or two. :) Considering your skills with words and storytelling I can only assume there was an Elrond or Bombadil among your ancestors. :)

The greatest eye-opener, to speak with Sam Gamgee, is maybe the fact that strictly following the series of action – reaction events Pippin is indeed responsible for the death of at least two people. Plus he acted extremely careless in Bree and we rather cast the veil of charity over the episode with the Palantír. For him, a guileless and benevolent soul this must have been very hard to realize. I could even imagine it was a kind of relief to get into a situation that forces him to well, prove his qualities.

And what you said about the evil next to you… not long ago I was watching the movies together with a friend and afterwards she said: “Somehow Denethor is the creepiest character in the whole story.” She did not say “evil” but “creepy” and I think what she felt about him was exactly what you mentioned. It is a motif Tolkien uses very often: the inner decay in face of an outer threat. The break-up of families, the growing mistrust among people who are supposed to be a safe haven for each other. We can only assume how much of this resulted from his own experiences during the wars (quite a lot I guess) but I´m quite sure the man must have had his share of nightmares.

Oh dear, The Great Wall of China again! What happened to time? Precious has to go now! Bye! (flees)

— raven22372    22 November 2011, 07:07    #

I love the Walls of China! Build me a labyrinth of them :)

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to come back and write a reply.

Indeed, Denethor is the creepiest of all. Personally, I’d always also found Galadriel quite creepy, but in a different way, of course. A classic Faerie Queen, incalculable, perilous, what can you say… But Denethor. I agree, I don’t see him as evil at all. Tricked and used by the evil, certainly, but not an inherent villain. And I try to put myself in his shoes – he’s deen on Skype with Sauron for over 30 years, considering that, he fared not poorly at all. Most other folk, I reckon, would’ve got a balfry full of bats much earlier than that. Let’s not forget that when going into his whole suicidal thing, he was sincerely believing that all was lost, and was only trying to go between he and the remains of his family would be enslaved or tortured and murdered.

Also, much as he’s a fascinating character, and must’ve been quite a shocker for Pippin who no doubt had not ever seen anyone remotely like that, Denethor won’t be making an appearance in this story except that in mention. Because it feels to me that Pippin’s whole experience with him could be termed as ‘unsatisfactory’, and bad things don’t stick in Pippin’s mind. Where I’m from, it’s called “like water of a goose’s back”. It had utterly filled me with awe how after their captivity by the Orcs, him and Merry sat and had themselves a snack in the corner of the raging battle-ground. I mean, honestly, man!

December    23 November 2011, 08:46    #

Great Elephants, you really mentioned my picture! Is… is this for real? What have I… how did I deserve this? Thank you, thank you so much! ♡ Take this bear hug, please! :D (crackle)

The more this story develops the more I want to settle down in it. All the gentleness and the deference people have for each other! It gave me a tiny pang in the heart to figure Faramir feeling a bit guilty because he had robbed somebody else of his night sleep, attendant or not. I think he´s totally the person who would rather get up and walk all the way to the kitchen himself than bundling a servant out of bed whose day was as long and exhausting as his own. In fact you describe his consideration and Pippin´s care so touchingly I find myself wishing for an happy-end… or at least for them having a little joy.

Which seems quite possible at the time… just that for some reason I suspect it is not necessary a lady Faramir´s desire aims to – at least not due to the characters mentioned in the header though of course I might be wrong… ;)

By the way, and just out of Took-ish nosiness: I´m curious whether you already knew where to land your ship when you set sail. I mean… even a short story might undergo some changes during the writing process and how much more a long one would, that comes in parts and is influenced by so much feedback? Oh, and please, feel free to skip this part – I do not intend to disclose your secrets! :)

— raven22372    30 December 2011, 20:46    #

Just a short comment to say that the more I read about this story, the more I get into it. Not much at first, and now I wouldn’t skip a new chapter! Also love the comments, I never before read such an in-depth analysis about Pippin (which was quite interesting) and I laughed my head off at some of the things you all said. Oh, and I wanted to mention that the last sentence in the 8th chapter: “And then, very gently at first, it begins to change, the texture of Faramir’s loneliness”, it’s beautiful, it’s perfect, it’s intriguing, I love it!
Hugs from here,

— Nerey Camille    2 January 2012, 16:04    #

Wow, Nerey, for some reason I never got a notification of your comment in the mail, so it was a complete surprise for me now!

Mm, yes, sadly enough, Pippin doesn’t get much spot-light in Faramir-related fiction. There are quite a few stories out there where the various aspects of Pippin-Merry relationship are studied, but not much regarding Pippin-Faramir. And the latter always surprised me, given what a numerous followship Faramir has, and how many of us like Pippin, and how Faramir, both Book- and Movie-wise, had a very profound effect on Pippin. Besides, as discussed above, Pippin undergoes quite a change during his travels with teh Fellowship and afterwards, so surely he would be a fascinatingly inspiring character to address in fanfiction… At least so it is for me, this story allows me a tone I could not use in my other works, and standing behind Pippin’s shoulder I can acquire a very special perspective on things, something none of my beloved Men-characters could provide… Anyway. Thanks so much for joining in on this story! I understand a lot of people have certain reservations when it comes to a Pippin/Faramir, so every additional reader is especially appreciated given the pairing!!

I wonder though, what it was in the preceding discussion that you found especially humorous…

Raven, I’ve said this before elsewhere, and I’ll say it to you now: for me as an author there could hardly be a reader response more gratifying than my fiction/art serving as inspiration for their own creativity. It’s one of the things I so endlessly love about Tolkien’s original works, that they are literally so alive that so many people simply can’t help but at least temporarily inhabit his universe and give birth to some tales of their own. In that respect, your illustration was the highest comppliment to it – and I believe it deserves to be seen and everyone who likes this story deserves to know there’s an artwork to go with it :)

Regarding the possible hint in the list of pairings, you may notice I have changed that (smiles pleasantly). To be frank, this whole pairing system is always a point of self-debate for me. On the one hand, readers should obviously be able to choose about which characters they want to read, and many of us have some pairings we prefer to avoid. But at the same time the listings of pairings might give away more than the author may wish. Of course, in some stories this is not a problem when there is only one pairing and it is already clearly stated in the summary. Similarly, a pairing, even coupled with a high rating, does not yet go to mean there’s going to be romantic or sexual interaction between Faramir and this character. The rating may be due to there featuring a high-violence scene, or one where Faramir sees someone else having sex, or whatever. But still, we do make certain assumptions basing on who is mentioned to feature in the story, and… Well, I don’t want to limit the readers in their musings, and for this particular story, Pippin and Aragorn are not the only people Faramir will be depicted with, so I thought it fair to expand the list a little ;-p

I hope this won’t scare off any potential readers – if they are willing to read an R-rated Pippin story, they ought to be quite tough cookies, heheh. I for one am rather cautious when it comes to the possibility of interspecies relations involving Hobbits… Frodo/Sam, though not something that makes my heart beat faster, is something I can at least understand the origins of, but when it comes to Frodo/Aragorn or Sam/Boromir or such like, I don’t know, I just get creeped out, haha. Not so with Pips though, I can quite well imagine him having a thing for either of the stewardly brothers (though not Aragorn, let alone Denethor, bless me soul).

As for how I write. When puttigna s tory in publication, and this one no exception, I already have the plot-line, including the mainpoints of development both event- and psychology-wise, worked-out. I have many, many-many more tales in the making, but their plots are rather half-baked, and I feel it would be irresponsible of me to put out there something that I might end up not being able to finish because the plot comes to a dead-end. So in the large scheme of things, the answer to your question is no, the comments I receive do not change the direction of this story. Which I think is only fair on the other readers – I mean, if some reader, due to their profound involvement and commentary, ends up changing the course of a story, it wouldn’t be nice to other readers who may have their own opinions but have for whatever reason not expressed them. I mean, if such were the nature of my writing, then I ought to be conducting polls at the end of each chapter, like,
“Dear blokes and chicks, who would you like to see Faramir shagging in the upcoming episode(s):
a)Pippin
b)Pippin
c)hey, how about Pippin after all?
d)his wife, because yes he does have one
e)Arwen, just because
f)Aragorn, because shagging Aragorn is always a nice touch
g)have we mentioned Pippin already?
h)a ghost of his dead brother, because that would be just so random
i)nobody, because I totally would rather read some more about Pippin doing household chores
j)other, (please specify)”

Do we want a poll like that, for real? :D

But naturally feedback does tremendously inspire me, and small scenes do insert themselves into the story every now and again, scenes that help (so I hope) make better logical connections between events, that make for a smoother psychological development and explain certain aspects of the characters’ behaviour, or simply scenes that would help (again, hopefully), make Pippin’s world more life-like an dinhabitable, that would make it easier to imagine what his days consist of.

Thanks again for the comments, my dears, and while there is no new chapter today, you may if you wish have this reply from me for now ;)

December    4 January 2012, 03:47    #

Uh-oh, this seems to become slightly unpleasant… NOT the story, of course! The situation at court, I mean. The tensed atmosphere during dinners must be a real strain to everybody, the more because those dinners are more or less public, so it´s easy to see who is close to whom and who has fallen from grace. It´s bad enough to have such a subliminal feud among the members of a family but here there´s even the possibility of other people using the situation to push their own political purposes.

I don´t know whether you intended it from the start but Pippin´s POV gives you a great opportunity to take a very refreshing look at things. For example: After getting over the usual “GUH!” reaction most mortals show when meeting their first elf he looks at Arwen from a rather pragmatic angle. Why yes, she´s beautiful. And glamouros. And, err… beautiful, yes. Aaaaaaand… what else? Is she especially intelligent or funny? Does she have the ability to listen to people and counsel them with her wisdom? Not really. Do people feel relaxed in her presence, does she give them the feeling of being alright the way they are? Rather the opposite, though that might not be her intention. Did she fight for her people during war, does she have some special skills, anything that would be useful? Nothing of them. Looking closely she is rather designed as a symbol of immortal beauty than a real person. I remember that when I read the book first I didn´t even notice there was something between her and Aragorn. Okay, that might depend on the fact that at the age of ten your radar for love stories is rather less marked; but I think the main reason was that, given you would take away the Elvish glamour, there wouldn´t be much substance left. It´s different in the movie where the roles of Arwen and Glorfindel are partly melded, but I doubt the book version would be able to peel some taters without a manual. ;) Your Pippin is obviously very clear-sighted when it´s about people and their relationships to each other – even clear-sighted enough to have no illusions regarding his own role. No matter how serious he takes his duty, for the “big” ones around he will always remain a feyness of his master, something in between a jester, a knave and an exotic accessory. I think knowing that and getting along with it – reads: getting along with not being taken too serious – requires a good portion of maturity and a very relaxed ego.

Tsk tsk tsk, now I wonder who it might be Faramir has in mind… could we talk about that poll again? ;)

— raven22372    27 January 2012, 14:26    #

Hi December!

I just came to leave a comment on your last chapter and I found your answer to my previous comment. How nice!

So: lovely tenth chapter, which at least for me, completely uncovers what is going on (but then I know a bit about how your mind works, I hope). I agree with other readers about Pippin’s point of view being very refreshing, and I am beginning to believe that maybe, maybe, there will be no sexual Pippin/Faramir which for me is perfectly OK. For personal reasons, this loving-without-being-loved story, furthermore between a servant and his master, which forces Pippin to be absolutely selfless and unobstrusive no matter his feelings, has recently acquired a much greater meaning for me. I am even more interested than before to see how it develops under your clever hands :).

As for the funny things: well, the poll :). But in the previous comments: ‘my second son is an idiot, why o why do the Valar hate me so much’, ‘we rather cast the veil of charity over the episode with the Palantír’, ‘the Great Wall of China’, the image of Arwen peeling taters with a manual, and so on. It’s just the way you all write about it, I guess.

Anyway. Last but not least, it has been said before but I repeat it because I couldn’t agree more with it: I love this story because it makes me realize how much there is to that Pippin-Faramir relationship, to Pippin’s personality and the transformation he undergoes and more generally, to Faramir’s transforming effect on people (not least on me, haha). Any story that makes you think about some aspect of the characters you love that you never realized before is… just great.

Hm, just noticed I didn’t say much about why I liked the tenth chapter, which would be what you would be more interested in knowing, perhaps. So: there’s an unbelievable sadness and emotion to it that makes it so deeply moving. Pippin noticing every small detail about Faramir’s relationship with the King and Queen, and that same relationship itself, especially the bit about Faramir’s life revolving around Aragorn, and then Faramir’s reaction to Pippin’s question… it just stirs tenderness and compassion and pain in my heart, the kind I can sense Pippin is feeling. Thanks so much for a great chapter and for the very substance of life that you pour into each of your stories, making us feel and suffer and be happy with the characters, forgetting the noise of the world around and seeing nothing (not even the letters on the screen) but the expression full of concern and pity on Pippin’s face and the flick of torment in Faramir’s eyes behind his serene, kind, beautiful features.

Wow, I’m getting lyrical but that just tells you how moved I am. Maybe I’ll tell you more about it by mail.

Hugs,

— Nerey Camille    27 January 2012, 18:49    #

Hello, my lovelies! Thank you for the kindest comments, and sorry it has taken me such an uncivilised length of time to reply. But now that a somewhat painstaking chapter of my life seems to be finished, I hope to have more time for writing and reader-conferences, heheh.

Pray forgive my urge to digress a bit before I get to answering your specific points. And when the answers do come, they will be long enough for you to now go get yourselves tea or a poison of choice and settle down for a read if you feel like embarking upon it :) Just have to say that time and again I’m fascinated by how Tolkien’s world never fails to provide an emotional sanctuary, at least for me but I get the feeling that for others too, how it gives such a healthy reprieve from all that sometimes wearies and ails a person a little too much. I wouldn’t call this escapism, although I reckon that many might, but to me it’s more about the – forgive me the pompousness of the word – about the cleansing power of art and beauty on the whole. Because when I interact with the Professor’s world, be it through his books, or discussing them with others, or writing fanfiction – I feel something in me come into proper alignment, if you know what I mean, as Sam would say :) Ah, if I were a doctor I’d porbably prescribe Tolkien-therapy to people xD

So, ahem, more towards the point now – because as you can see, the first row in yet another oriental world-wonder is already firmly in place. Raven, about Arwen. I’d been thinking about her quite a while lately, and came to realise that to me she is one of the most mysterious of the trilogy’s characters. Because it’s either that, or I would have to call her flat and inanimate, and I definitely prefer mysterious by far :D What I mean is that I feel extremely little personality in her, and I hope to think that this is not for the lack thereof but maybe rather for the fact that little of it is revealed to us in the Book. Much as I did not at all appreciate all the tampering with her character in the film, which to my mind had turned her into nothing but a brunette version of Eowyn, what with disobeying her elders and galloping around slashing monsters for her beloved, which in turn to my mind quite undermined Eowyn’s character, since there were two of them now and it made Eowyn seem kind of generic – despite all that, I must admit that at least this move gave her a certain 3D quality in my eyes. At least in the movie she has some spirit, she has passion, she has doubts, she has defiance even. Whereas in the Book…?

She seems to me, too, more of a symbol than a person, this aggregate of princess-ness, this whole wait-in-the-ivory-tower-stitching-tapestries-while-my-beloved-is-away-doing-important-things-to-deserve-my-hand. I reckon an Arwen fan would object here that she had made a courageous decision to part from her people and trade her eternal life for a fleeting human lifetime at the side of her loved one. To which I in turn would object that in the Book it was not shown as much of a choice, as an act of her will and volition – but rather a “Doom”, something that falls upon you and so strong it is that you have nothing else to do but go with it. Not to mention the rather popular point of view that at least in part she was simply copying what Luthien had done, seeing as Arwen had mentioned that whole thing more than once. Yes, she fell in love with Aragorn – but this hardly makes her special in my eyes either, seeing as pretty much everyone in the story had fallen into various degrees of love with Aragorn, including Eomer, Legolas, Faramir, Eowyn, etc etc.

And recently I’ve become quite bothered by this little question – what did Arwen do all those three bloody thousand years of her maiden life? Let us do a little analysis here.

First, let’s see how she compares to other fairy-tale princesses, the ones who also awaited their prince in humble patience. Say, the ill-famous Snowhite (or is it Snow White?) and Cinderella, whom everyone but the utterly lazy blame for setting wrong role-models for little girls. Well, at least those two ladies had something to occupy themselves with. Yes, scrubbing floors and cleaning all day, and taking care of seven men with questionable standards of personal hygiene in one case and catering to the desires of fussy step-sisters in the other – all that is hardly easy work, but it is work nonetheless. And don’t forget the evil step-mothers. One can argue that it is rather idiotic to do all this ‘with a smile and a song’ (or on the other hand we could say that it shows hope and resilience of spirit, but let’s not go too far into this right now). What I’m saying is that those two knew hardship, and danger, and injustice, they were hard-working and they preserved belief in the goodness of life despite all objective evidence to the contrary. Whereas as Raven points out – had Arwen ever peeled a potato? Or mopped a floor? Or anything, really? For all that we know, her domestic duties boiled down to making decorative napkins and tablecloths, seeing as she was good at needlework. I mean no offence to that craft, it’s hard work as I know well enough having observed the women in my family dedicate endless hours to embroidery. But unless one does it for a living, it is still a hobby, a way to spend time, a form of relaxation and meditation. A productive form of relaxation, yes, but relaxation nonetheless. And this is the only thing that we know for sure that she actually did. That – and sing. An Elven woman sings. Wow! Who could’ve seen that coming?

And even at that, her singing apparently doesn’t reach par with Luthien’s. If anything, comparing her with the women in her line will do Arwen no favour. All of them are at least equally as pretty as her, while both Luthien and Galadriel had far more on their record that Arwen. Both were willing to leave the security of their home to follow the desires of their heart, Galadriel dreaming of establishing her own kingdom and Luthien fighting for love. If anything, in Luthien’s story Beren had seemed to me the boring one – whereas for Arwen and Aragorn, Aragorn is madly awesome, and what is Arwen? Arwen is Aragorn’s beloved. Which is probably the only thing that makes her at all interesting to me, that a man of Aragorn’s calibre had loved her all his life from first sight to last breath. And here I truly hope, for his sake at least, that he got more than this hypnotosingly beautiful, infantile maiden who had not even been able to appreciate the full weight of her choice until the payback time came.

She can hardly be blamed for this, I think, given her extremely shaltered existence. Again, what did she ever do? Her human counterparts in our world, the noble-born maidens of the Middle Ages – those had plenty of issues to deal with. I do not know for certain for other countries, but at least in Russia as late as the 19th sentury, one would be officially dubbed a spinster if not married by 18. I’m quite certain the Elves had no such problem – no ageing, no biological-clock business, no worries :) You’ll get married when the time comes, don’t fret about it. Similarly, I get the feeling that since Arwen’s beauty was hereditary and she was an Elf to begin with, she did not have to spend hours keeping herself up to a standard. At most she would need to brush her hair and teeth (although maybe Elven teeth don’t get plaque and cavities and all that human nonsense), and cut her nails every now and again. Don’t think that she had to look after her health either. Not likely to have had much intrigue at court, any plotting to put an end to, etc. I wouldn’t imagine her spending much time on her wardrobe either, seeing as Tolkien had described her raiments as rather simple, and given their Elven quality it likely took them decated to get worn and need replacement.

Did she have many girlfriends with whom she whiled time away? Did she go on hunts or any of those errands Elladan and Elrohir had? Did she assist her father in estate management or healing? Did she compose new melodies and write new songs? Did she make statues like Feanor’s wife? Was she a poet? A philosopher? A cook (again, taters, blast them)? Never seen any mention of that, no.

The European maidens often dedicated a good deal of their time to being pious and following religious rituals – doesn’t look to be the case with Arwen though, given the absence of Church or any suchlike institution.

What did she do?

Actually, the more I think about this, the more depressing it looks. Little wonder she snatched her first chance at something exciting when Aragorn showed up…

And even with him. “She lived in great glory and bliss”. Wow, man. Glory and bliss. To me, that sounds like basking in the light of your own majesty, attending fancy suppers and rolling in bed with your awe-inspiring king. While Eowyn had spent a time with her brother helping him restore the country after the war (and maybe also taking a time-out to think it through re Faramir), and at least she had an intention to learn medicine, although we are not told whether that ever went beyond an intention – with Arwen there is none of that. Yes, she had at least three children – which is great, but not like those children were important enough to her to keep her from withering when Aragorn passed. Maybe we as humans can’t relate to that, maybe it’s an Elven thing. Like Celebrian had sailed, leaving her and Elrond’s three children in ME (along with her husband), and Galadriel leaving Celeborn behind – I mean, this whole ‘I am weary of this world’ business, despite my body being young and strong and there being beloved people who need me. But I don’t know, to me it seemed quite weird that Aragorn was literally the only thing in her life that was worth living for. It is equivalent to saying that she had no life of her own. Which is… scary?

So no, in my stories Arwen doesn’t get an overly romantic or reverential depiction. My apologies to anyone who might prefer otherwise :)

Wow. This is by far my longest post yet. I wonder if either of you or anyone else will ever read it through. But anyway, at least I myself am glad that you have spurred this character anaylisis to come forth. Character analysis is always helpful for writing :)

Now, Nerey, regarding your wondering what Faramir knows of Pippin’s feelings and what he thinks on that. Er… I must say I have a very precise point of view on that. But – I can’t tell you. At least not now XD That would be a SPOILER, wouldn’t it now? :)

And yes, there’s a lot of sadness in this story. I don’t strive for sadness in real-life, not at all. And like I’ve written to you, this whole unrequited-love business seems far less fascinating to me now than it once had. I have somehow become more pragmatic about it with time, when it’s me I try to cut it off and strangle it, and when it’s the other person I feel burdened and bored and it is very difficult to be sympathetic. I feel like I simply don’t have time for useless loves.

You have asked me if I rely on experience to write this – and the answer is yes, to an extent. On past experiences. It is no longer like that for me – but I can still relate to what it can be like. Any in either case, the ‘me’ is not at all important here, it is ‘them’, Pippin, and Faramir, and the others, that live in this story – so I’d say that more than anything it’s imagination and empathy with the character. Because Pippin is not me, he does not feel or think like me, so I can’t simply substitute his name for mine in the story, I have to aim to impersonate him, like an actor grows into their role, becoming that person. It is easier to achive if I had had similar experiences, but it is far from the same. Just like when writing those Faramir/Boromir stories – I don’t even have a brother to begin with. Or a sister. Or a cousin that I’ve ever actually met. So I’ve never, for a second, been in love with my sibling or had any kind of ‘relations’ with them. And yet I have a very precise sensation of what those two would have with each other, and how it could evolve through time.

Not to mention that there is Faramir in this story – I haven’t met Faramir in real life (oh, isn’t that a shame?), so I can only try to imagine what loving Faramir would be like. Beautiful and painful, I should think. Or, we could say, great and terrible. Haha

December    10 February 2012, 00:26    #

Dear God, this is so sensual! Black satin (or the ME equivalent of satin) and a pristine white cape… my mind tries to push aside the word “virgin”, because it´s laden with so many clichés but it always manages to escape and slips onto the tongue again… Plus a slightly ironical break (“plumed helmets” – ROFL XD) that takes off the “romantic” peak and grounds the scenery – is there anything more perfect?

I´d like to grab this opportunity to express my sincere delight about the fact that you are back in the arena – I wasn´t aware how much I missed you refreshing cascades until their return. :) Congratulations and spiritual support for dealing with severe issues – the way you describe it makes it sound like a personal progressing, which is always a good thing. :) And it´s funny you should mention the healing effects of the Tolkien oeuvre – for I´m currently about to make the same experience. There are various things I´m concerned with; none of it being a threat for my own person, mind you, though nevertheless affecting me. Facing an unpredictable and quickly changing world raises questions – questions the books are mirroring in miraculous ways. How to deal with issues of loss and letting go? How to find my own position when somewhere decisions are made that are obviously against my own moral standards? Will I surrender to bitterness and disappointment? Or will I stand up and fight, with the confined possibilities I was given?
I´m far away from taking Tolkien´s work an all-cure. But as you said: there was no time in my life when delving into the books did not soothe and steady me. It might depend on the personal history of the author. We know he has seen two wars. We know he has seen the industrialisation of the country – and therefore the destruction of many beloved places. We know he has seen his friends dying and lived under the terror of the German air raids – and yet he believed in what he called the Eucatastrophe, the sudden turn to good.
There are many things in Professor Tolkiens works I would question. His perception of women, of course (one that was certainly widely spread back then). His firm belief in blood lines and inherited rights (as Terry Pratchett once wrote: “The ability to penetrate a 100 year old rose thicket doesn´t make one a good king and husband.”). His allocation of people in “noble” and “lesser” ones (again, with the nobility coming by heredity). But I will never doubt his unwavering humanity, his true belief in a universal good and the importance of keeping both of it up to lead a “worthy” life. Amen. Cough Err… yes.

Before I was flushed away by emotional ramblings I actually intended to add that there is one sentence that stands out for me in this chapter, perhaps because it fits what I was recently pondering about.
““No, no, no,” he murmurs in the way he has seen the elderly and slightly authoritative servants use so successfully on their masters.”
The servants. There´s not much written about them, neither in fanfiction nor in the original source. So what are they doing? Carrying things, yes, fetching things, preparing meals, presenting clothes to wear, cleaning the rooms and so on. Mostly they are perceived as a sort of background noise, something that is essential for the working of the clockwork though gets only important once it´s missing. But. They´re also people who are around our protagonists day by day. They see, they hear, they think, they talk to their masters and develop relationships to them. They learn about secrets, they take positions and become confidents. Which means: They take influence. Something I often thought about was this: Even though Denethor might keep rejecting his second son – how is the rest of the court doing? Not the ones in a position that forces them to tell their lord whatever he wants to hear but the other ones, the people who wouldn´t even be asked. Room maids, servants, craftsmen, peasants. What would they think? Due to what we know about the brothers I would say they surely adore and respect Boromir – but they deeply love his brother. Faramir is kind, in a way that doesn´t make people feel like inferiors. Faramir listens to everybody, he is patient, he knows there is nobody he cannot learn from at least something. And seeing how his situation is – wouldn´t those people try to ease his life? It might have been started in his childhood; when no “official” cares for a neglected but friendly and clever child there might have been somebody else. Workers who shared their knowledge with him. Maids who found time to tell him stories. And later, when the severe impacts start to hit, a battle wound perhaps, or, just to relaunch an old topic, a punishment, it might go on in a more subtle way. A quicker handout maybe, to spare him a painful movement, a careful question, whether he needs something, tiny things an outsider would hardly notice. It might sound exaggerated but I think he´s intelligent and socially skilled enough to build a cocoon of love and care around himself, unintentionally yet nonetheless affective.

And another thing you mentioned in a comment before (I´m afraid I selfishly overran it, overwhelmed by my own flashback): what you said about getting so close that sometimes, when the barrier between the dimensions gets thinner, you can almost, almost see his face; that´s incredibly beautiful and – to use the word I started this comment with – sensual. :)))

— raven22372    13 February 2012, 20:47    #

Hi again!

To December: thanks for your answer! Yes, it works like that for me as well when it comes to imagining the characters’ reactions: I’m not them, it’s not so simple as that, but I try to imagine how I would react in their stead and of course personal experience helps.
Now, I just wanted to comment on two very interesting topics that have been raised. Arwen. What the hell did she do all these 3000 years? I never thought about that, but you raised an interesting question, and though I still don’t think her especially smart or interesting, she might be more mysterious than boring, as you say. You gave me the desire to explore her further in a future story, cause yes, working with a character on which there is so little information allows plenty of room for freedom. Now, regarding what she might do with her days, I don’t have the book here to check the exact references, but from what I remember:

- she can ride (she arrived to Gondor on a horse)

- she likes to walk

- she knows old legends (Lúthien and stuff)

- she can sing (and play an instrument? I don’t remember)

- there is great love between her and Elrond, and he’s quite wise, so I guess she can’t be totally stupid. She had a long conversation with him in the mountains before their parting, and besides Tolkien specifically says she’s wise (“for all her wisdom” she was overborne by her grief at Aragorn’s death)

- she can sow beautiful flags

- maybe she has foresight; she seems quite certain that Aragorn will succeed, though maybe that’s just love at work

- she has met a few other mortals before marrying him

- Aragorn says that he often must put mirth aside (speaking of seeing her), which would suggest she can laugh

- she has done some travelling, if only between Lórien and Rivendell

- she waited for 30 years before making her definite choice (between her first meeting with Aragorn and the second), so perhaps she even thought a bit about it

- Aragorn and her spoke together in Rivendell at the feast, and also spent a season together in Lórien, so they must have something to talk about

- by the way, before she died she learned the history of Númenor

- she can be kind and make people at ease, look at her first meeting with Aragorn (he mentions his lineage and then she says they’re akin from afar)

- she’s called the Evenstar of her people, which may be a tribute to her beauty or perhaps something more meaningful.

OK, that still doesn’t amount to much, but I guess it shows that she had some hobbies and occupations and that she spent quite some time thinking. Doesn’t look like too much, but hey, Galadriel has a bigger record but she’s also way older, and we can always suppose Arwen might have gone to rescue Aragorn if he had needed it. Which would mean, Beren couldn’t look after himself and Arwen chose her mate much better? And if you look at other elves her age, like Legolas – what did Legolas do for 3000 years, besides shooting and maybe riding? No politics, no travelling, no reading that we know of. Yet no one would say he’s got no personality.
Anyway, that’s all I can contribute for the moment, but it sure is a question worth looking into.
The other matter – the servants. Again, great insight. I had never thought about it, but servants have endless ways of making your life easy or difficult, enjoyable or awful, probably without you even noticing there’s something going on. Again, I can relate to some personal experience here, even if I am not a servant nor have one. And I would think Faramir’s servants would be ready to do anything for him, probably even more so than Boromir’s. After all, Boromir is admired for his prowess, but that would be mostly appreciated by soldiers. Faramir treats kindly even the most humble, and he is loved by all; probably his servants would be all as devoted to him as Pippin is.
Wow, another wall of China! Better stop here. Looking forward to seeing how this debate evolves!

— Nerey Camille    20 February 2012, 14:44    #

Thank you, my lovelies, for your unwavering flow of feedback!

First of, allow me to apologise for misleading you – a lot of new stuff shall be befalling me soon, so maybe I will not be all that regularly present here for a few weeks to come… But I’ll still be working ont he stories when I can and eventually plan to return to more frequent updates.

Now, to the point. You both mention the servants. Now that I think of it, I’m beginning to wonder why it is I’m so drawn to taking this perspective in a story. Just like Nerey, I’ve never been on either end of the servant-master relationship. Moreover, I would imagine myself being quite awkward if I were to have a personal assistant/body-servant suddenly bestowed upon me. It means so much less private time and space. No more lounging around one’s quarters in a tattered bathrobe, picking one’s nose and scratching crotch, eating chips froma bag and watching utube poop for hours on end. There’s always a pair of eyes set on you, always a mind directed at you. Maybe one grows accustomed to it and stops noticing – but to me it still feels that having servants makes one into more of a public figure than a private person.

Now, Faramir, I believe, would be especially conscious of his servants’ human nature, that they are not just a function, but somebody with their own personal dignity, and he should “behave” in their presence (not that he would pick his nose in private either, of course). I believe he would not be very likely to get too personal/sympathetic with them though, or try to rid them of their duties, as that would in a way put their professional ability in question, and of course he would not want to offend anybody like that. But he would never be cold or brash, and he would treat them with the same grace and mindfulness that he would direct at a social equal or superior. Yet at the same time I feel there would be more distance between him and what Gondorian help he may have than there would be between him and Pippin. Foreigners are typically allowed a greater slack in adhering to the rules of conduct, and generally Faramir and Pippin had known each other on a personal level before their professional contract came into force :) So yes, I would imagine that as a boy Faramir received quite a bit of attention and care from the older man-servants and female servants of all age – but as he grew older and rose in status, such interactions would diminish as suppressed by social norms, which is sad but what you gonna do…

Back to Arwen – wow, my monologue was read!! Thanks, Nerey, for speaking in her defence :) While I wouldn’t deny any of the points you mention, I do feel compelled to argue a bit ;) as many of them do however seem to me as not much of an achievement if put in perspective.

Yes, she could ride a horse. But. If we put that in the context of their time – it’s the same as if a woman today knew how to drive a car. Exceptional achievement :) And as a rider myself, I personally don’t think that it’s that evasive a skill, especially if you have a few centuries to master it. I mean, it’s not racing, not jumping, not dressage, not mountain-terrain crossing – it’s just riding on a road, on a well-trained and clever Elven-horse. Even Gimli the Dwarf could do that!

About making people feel at ease and being nice to Aragorn. Well, why wouldn’t she be nice to anyone? I believe it’s actually very easy to be graceful and encouraging if all you’ve known in your life is love, and respect, and cherihing treatment. I don’t believe anyone has, ever, been mean to Arwen, or showed dislike/lack of interest in her, or ever neglected her or chose someone else over her. Has anyone ever told her they wouldn’t be friend with her or wouldn’t let her play with them when she was a child? Has a young gentleman ever proved numb to her charm? I don’t believe so, no… And when all your experience tells you you are special and beloved and full of light and goodness, and you meet this young human man who stares at you all smitten – why wouldn’t you be nice and gentle to him?

As for her wisdom – Tolkien does mention it,but at the same time I never found much action/speech on her behalf that would actually illustrate her wisdom. It’s not enough just to say that someone is wise, as it is a quality that must manifest itself in action, otherwise what good is it? And as both Aragorn and Elrond loved her very much, I think for them it was not so much important how clever/interesting she was, just to be near her and see that all was well with her would be a joy to them. Same thing for when Aragorn lived with her in Lorien, for all we know they may have spoken quite little, and he simply revelled in her companionship and being “allowed” to spend time together with her…

Her beauty, yes. That’s an interesting subject. In many cultures, beauty, especially female, is associated with the supernatural in one form or another, be it devilish or angelic. Extremely beautiful people cannot be entirely ordinary, right? What saddens me though is that this is her foremost quality. Yes, she’s also notable for being an Elven princess and for giving up her immortal future for a present with a beloved Man. But let’s imagine for a moment that there is no beauty, that Arwen is your average frumpy, potato-nosed Elven princess with mild skin problems. You know, like a lot of people out there (not that there’s anything wrong with potato noses, god forbid). She’s still the daughter of the stupendous Elrond, she’s still willing to be a mortal’s wife. But… Would the story be nearly as enchanting?

I think not. And at the same time I think that if this were the case, we would tend to ascribe much more personality to Arwen. If she is not beautiful, not even pretty – then there must be some substance to her, some special inner qualities that drew Aragorn to her. But such as it is… Ah, I don’t want to be mean to her, you know. But even the niceness and kindness some believe her to possess seem to me not so exceptional. I mean, that Faramir despite his circumstances of life managed to remain caring and merciful – that’s quite amazing. That good old Bilbo took pity on the not-so-very-charming Gollum, that’s impressive. But Arwen being nice to Frodo or Aragorn…? I don’t know…

And one point of interest remains. For all we know, no one’s ever crossed her path. She’s always had everything more or less the way she wanted, or else she accepted the authority of her elders or general tradition, which she seems to do quite calmly, like that she needs to wait for Aragorn to become King, etc. We do see that when life hits her, like when Aragorn dies, she doesn’t deal too well with that. And what if there’s an issue that makes her unhappy – like in the story that you, Nerey, are writing? Would we expect her to still be “graceful” and sweet and “wise”?

December    22 February 2012, 07:05    #

Hi December!

No need to argue, I fully agree with you! Apart from her beauty and her lineage (hereditary things so no credit goes to her for that), there’s absolutely nothing special about Arwen. No big achievements, nothing. But you asked what she might actually do with her time and I racked my memories for any evidence about that. So, the answer is: horseriding, singing, sowing, walking, etc. And I think you’ve got a big point with the fact that probably no one ever crossed her before and when life hits her, she doesn’t deal well with it. Still, still… when someone is as adored as she has been, it would be easy to be terribly stupid and conceited: her answer to Aragorn showed that she was not aloof or touchy (personally, I would have been offended by his remark re “why haven’t I seen you before, did Elrond keep you locked in a tower” though perhaps to her the remark wasn’t shocking at all). Anyway, still willing to explore this character further. And I’m also thinking, her mother got waylaid by Orcs when she was travelling on the mountains, and that affected Arwen’s brothers deeply, so we might suppose it also affected her (so I might take back that nothing traumatizing ever happened to her; it did happen at least within her family). The fact that she kept travelling between Lórien and Rivendell would seem to indicate she was brave enough to face that danger, or that she was not willing to stop seeing her relatives because of that… (actually seeing her mother’s family might have been her own way of keeping in touch with her roots, seeing as her mother sailed into the West and that is likely to have affected her as well).

As for servants… I think a good servant knows how to be invisible and be only there when required, so that wouldn’t interfere with the master’s freedom. What would be really horrible is this tradition in some societies that important people always have to have attendants, for status reasons. That really would make it impossible to have privacy. But that needn’t be the case with Faramir, at least as long as he’s only the Steward’s second son, and I don’t think even Denethor would tolerate servants at his side all the time if he didn’t want to, no matter what traditions said about it.

I also guess there are all kind of different relationships between master and servants, depending on the kind of servant: I mean, the people who serve your meals in public are not as close to you as those who put you in bed or help you bathe and see you when you are really tired and unguarded, are they?

Wow, wow, the more one thinks about it, the more nuances there are…

— Nerey Camille    22 February 2012, 13:06    #

Oh, Nerey, thank you for that!

I feel compelled to answer straight away – and thanks for letting me know via email by the way, because for some reason I’ve stopped receiving comment notifications from this site…

Anyway, you raise here a point I haven’t given much thought to before. Compliments in middle-Earth.

You know, trying to imagine Arwen’s perception, I don’t feel she would have reason to be much pissed by what he said. Of course, in today’s world, many a woman, especially a Western woman, would not take kindly to the whole ‘hey sweet mama, where you bin kept locked away all this time?’ pick-up line. But in Arwen’s case – for one thing, it’s something that had happened to her g-g-gran, being locked away that is, so maybe for her the phrase has a different meaning. Besides, she can see he means well, and maybe she would believe that from a thunderstruck young human one could hardly expect something more elegant. Besides, it really is not the worst thing a man could say to a woman in an attempt to express his appreciation of her intellect looks.

What my point here is, they do make cheesy compliments, don’t they? Faramir’s to Eowyn about how no Elven words could describe etc. I mean, come on, man! She’s probably heard the likes of that 20 times already, anyway. But maybe such is the tradition in their culture that for a man to say ‘you are beautiful’ is just a way to say ‘I would want you to be my woman’, as in an expression of serious intentions, the way it is/used to be in some of our world’s cultures as well. In our modern society such compliments often mean more like ‘I get a bit of free sexual enjoyment straing at your boobs/arse’ or ‘I’d like to take you to bed and never see you after that’ – but in middle-Earth it was likely more innocent than that, so I’d expect the women would be more lenient to these somewhat clumsy expressions of awe :)

Yet at the same time, this subject makes me think of this story – maybe Pippin is worried overmuch that his ability to express his feelings is below par? This whole question is something that will come up in the course of the story, the speaking of love/other things, and our little discussion makes me more comfortable with the way I’ve written out that upcoming scene, so thanks for that!

And returning back to the innocence of their culture (what Tolkien has mentioned), it would seem that similar compliments coming from someone who is not traditionally expected to have romantic intentions, such as a loyal servant to his master, I think they would altogether be seen as platonic and uninsinuating. You see what I mean? That back to the point where you said, how can it not be completely obvious to Faramir?

Furthermore, like you say, there are nuances to the servant-master relationship. I would fully concur that Denethor would be much more pragmatic and bossy with his servants, although I’m not a believer in him being generally abusive to staff, at least in the physical sense and at least without some form of justification, like an actual fault on the servant’s behalf. Anyway, I do believe that Faramir’s servants would be let closer to his heart than either his brother’s or his father’s had been to theirs’ – while at the same time maybe indeed he did not have that many of them before becoming Steward. In the scene where he welcomes Frodo in the cave, we see he quite naturally receives service from his men, and has signs of distinction like his silver goblet, so I’d expect that overall as a man of high breeding he would be accustomed to the idea of having someone in his position be attended to, and receive it all with natural grace. Yet on the whole he would likely see this as something that comes with the status and not give it too much thought so long as he knows he is treating his staff well. So in that sense Pippin’s position to him is quite unique, as I don’t quite believe that any of the servants Faramir had had before the commencement of Pippin’s employment, would be nearly as… well what’s the word here? From the case with Beregond we see that in Gondor there is more formality in the hierarchical cases, obey your lord and that’s it – Pippin seems to have a more flexible perspective, so likely his standing with Faramir would be more all-encompassing as well – if that makes sense :) And that in turn would mean that on average Faramir would give more slack in the interpretation of Pippin’s behaviour than that of a fellow Gondorian…

Bah, you need a torchlight to read that?

December    22 February 2012, 20:08    #

How come I’ve only now discovered this wonderful story? Words fail me for how much I’m enjoying it.

What strikes me most is how the narrative embodies the title: the attention to small details, the building of a larger mosaic picture through focus on the small tiles. Your writing is so vivid and evocative.

I find myself joining the crowds who hunger for new episodes. In your own free time, of course. :-)

Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity!

Best,
Tal

— Tal    4 March 2012, 02:16    #

Hi December!

No, I don’t need a torchlight because I am sitting in a sunlit street outside a bar (guess where?) but I’m having some trouble following the thread of your thoughts. Maybe my brains have been addled in the past few days, that could easily have happened. Anyway. Compliments? I always thought Faramir’s compliment was brilliant. He only speaks of her beauty after praising her courage and heroism, which is exactly what she wants to be valued for; and he says that he would love her even if she were married to Aragorn. How romantic is that? Only Gimli with Galadriel does better than that; I always thought he was the most romantic of them all. But well, I’ve always liked compliments about beauty when they are well-phrased, so maybe that’s why these don’t appear banal to me. And besides, Arwen and Éowyn and Galadriel are indeed strikingly beautiful, so why not pay homage to that? Their looks are the first thing that strikes those who see them (along with her sorrow in Éowyn’s case, which further shows Faramir doesn’t only care about looks). What I mean is, it’s not a cheap trick to flatter them (like in our societies most women get compliments about their looks, even though they’re just average), the women we are talking about are really outstanding beauty-wise. So, OK, Aragorn and Faramir and Gimli remark upon the obvious – what else can they be expected to remark upon, when they have just met them?

As for Pippin, I didn’t get what you were trying to point out – but I think you have a point in that his relationship to Faramir would be different, because he’s the only voluntary servant that Faramir has. I mean the others are surely more than willing to serve him, but they didn’t leave their own home of their own free will for that sole purpose. Which is also why Faramir must surely know that there is more to Pippin’s feelings than just devotion to him.
Anyway, I’m happy to know that you felt compelled to answer right away… now I’ll try to answer your email, LOL.

— Nerey Camille    9 March 2012, 18:13    #

Man, why did I do checking my mail today? Such busy life, can’t remember the last time I slept as long as I wanted to – but how can I not reply? lol

Tal, thank you so much! Always a pleasure to welcome a new reader. Episodes may not be that fast to come, I’m afraid, but oh well, heh.

Nerey, about servants and voluntarily going to places – Faramir knew Sam had come with his master Frodo through hell and to hell, without being forced… Was Faramir likely to think Sam loved Frodo…?

Compliments and such, you know, this is a strange subject. My standing on it has changed dramatically since moving countries. Even though even before I did not appreciate the stress so many cultures put on female beauty – now I appreciate it even less xD Coming from a place where a self-respecting woman simply must do everything in and outside her power to be hollywood-celebrity groomed and generally beautiful, I was quite strongly influenced by this attitude. It seemed unfair, but that’s how it was.

But here, here I see so many many couples where he is actually more attractive and often even more put-together than she, and still he obviously finds her hot and loveable and all. And looking at all this I come to reevaluate some things. Previously it had fascinated me that pretty much all the female characters in LOTR who matter are very beautiful (have difficulty finding any un-beautiful ones, except Ioreth perhaps, but she’s old – must’ve been a hottie in her youth) – in my eyes it added them something special, made them mysterious, meaningful. Even Sam’s Rosie – maybe not beautiful like an Elf, but Hobbits on the whole are not Elves, so for her kind she still seems above the par.

Back in Russia I wanted so hard to be beautiful and never felt remotely good enough. It’s difficult to relate to unless you’ve been there. So many women have as though stepped directly from a fantasy painting, these mesmerising sirens with bewitching eyes, slender, graceful and tall, perfect beyond what is normal for humankind.

But here, where the quality of life is different, and people’s benchmarks are different, I am seen as beautiful by so many. My beauty is spoken of as a thing understood. And now that I finally have it, I realise I don’t enjoy it remotely as much as I had imagined. It puts pressure on me, it tires me, it fills me with doubt re my actual intrinsic worth to people beyond what they see.

So now I find myself gravitating more towards literature descriptions of women’s appearance that pick out something else. Because beauty is such an overused term anyway.

Take, for example. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realised it.” My god, how much power there is in that sentence. Try and beat a woman like that.

Or take “War and Peace”. I don’t remember the exact quote, and it would be in Russian anyway, but Princess Mary was described as overall mousy and unpretty, but she had eyes that shone with all the light and kindness in the world. Was she beautiful? Absolutely not. But nevertheless people were drawn to her by what they saw in her…

And in that line, I’m beginning to feel that describing a character as very beautiful in some way takes away from their personal merits. I’m not saying make them ugly and repulsive – just, you know, when they’re blindingly beautiful, it does steal your focus a bit. I feel now that if Eowyn were just a normal woman, just generally pleasing to the eye but within reason, her story would have touched me so much more. And Faramir’s love for her would have meant more to me as well. Yes, you say he praises her courage, that is true, but still – there is a doubt inside me that keeps saying, if she was average, he would not have noticed her… You see what I mean? It’s a doubt, it’s not something we could prove or disprove, because Eowyn is written beautiful, and who’s to say what would have been otherwise. But I reckon I would have liked it if in the book, it were not only the exceptionally beautiful women who got to be loved.

December    9 March 2012, 21:19    #

Only the king. Ah, how I adore your talent for understatement. X) Which is only beaten by your sense for suspense curves. I only hope you will never start to write mystery thrillers. Your readers will surely drop dead with anticipation.

My favourite part is Pippin tormenting himself with his lines of gloomy thoughts (including that little sidestep to uncle Saradoc and his poor potatoe peeling – oh, hello taters!). When he raves about being abandoned and left behind all alone I had to think of a story psychologists like to tell their patients. (Just in case you are interested: It´s about a man who considers to go over to his neighbour and borrow his hammer. But he´s still hesitating: Maybe his neighbour will say no? Maybe he will remember our man hasn´t given back his power drill yet and refuse to help him out? Without the hammer he is not able to finish his work so he will have to drive to the property store. And what if he will have an accident or the police stops him and finds out his driving license has expired? Without a driving license he cannot drive, if he cannot drive he will loose his work, if he looses his work he will sink into poverty… at the end he sees himself dying in a poor house, all because of this hammer.) Poor Pip, his current mental state would be a cupcake with a cherry on top for every headshrinker. X) Which doesn´t mean it would be different from everybody else´s. On the contrary, you perfectly caught the way our minds sometimes work, there, in the hours “between dog and wolf”.

By the way, the story ends with the man knocking at his neighbour´s door and when he opens the door he yells at him: “Why don´t you just keep your bloody hammer, you f***ing bastard?” Thank heavens hobbits are less impulsive…

— raven22372    17 March 2012, 20:25    #

Oooh! Exciting!

— Laivindur    21 March 2012, 18:56    #

Only the king??! Well, you wicked wicked creature – what do you do with poor Pippin?! Making him suffer like this?
You better have something really really good in store for him in the end! ;)
Best wishes and happy Easter!

— elektra121    7 April 2012, 21:25    #

Ooph (surfaces from work), time for some cosy with the readers!

Thank you, my dears! Every kind word is sweet music to me, and every kind word gives me hope this story will, step by step, reach completeness. Because, bah, so little time, hehe. New and unexpected turns in life, so rewarding – but nope, no time for rest.

Anywaaaaay.

Raven, you know, this is one of the thing I enjoy about working “with” Pippin so much. He lets me wallow in the “human” aspects of life. Meaning we can be donw-to-earth with him, exploring the sillier, less epic and less picture-perfect sides of our nature. As you probably know, I strive in my writing for a measure of some every-day realism, so to say. It is more difficult to get into stories that deal solely with the “Big folk”, seeing as we have to adhere to a certain measure of idealisation and romantism when it comes to painting the darling Aragorn, Faramir, and the lot. But with Pippin, even though we know he’s as much a hero as them and generally a wonderful chap – still, it doesn’t take from his charm (at least imho) to show him like this, fretting and unreasonable :)

Laivindur, thank you!

Elektra, and a very happy Easter to you too!
Couldn’t not answer what you said in your mail about the beauty discussion, because you just hit the spot! What you said about the rules of heroic epos requiring that the ones who are good inside look good on the outside – this is exactly what gets me! I mean, I do understand the rules and where they come from, and probably understand the reasoning behind Tolkien choosing to adhere to them, especially in the case of Rohan. Although not just Rohan, we can see it throughout LoTR and Sil. Morgoth and Sauron were no longer fair to look upon once they had gone all bad-ass. Even Boromir and Maeglin, though depicted as good-looking to say the least, had their looks described in such a way that conveyed a flaw int he character, a foresight of a hamartia to come. Even Frodo, though hobbits are not generally pretty, was said to be fairer than usual. Possibly it is only Sam, who is neither of noble blood nor much of a looker, who goes against the prevailing trend of the main heroes being dashing princes in billowing cloaks.

All that said, it annoys me that Eowyn as though had to be beautiful to qualify for the ‘goody’ league. I understand that the book is big on the whole higher-race-lower-race thing, the details and possible implications of which (say in another couple thousand years in ME history) I would rather not think about – but somewhere deep I have this feeling that it is as though her exceptional looks and her exceptional deeds took her from being a princess of Lesser Men to a woman who deserves to be loved and taken to wife by a man of higher origin (seeing as Faramir was a Numenorean plus with some Elven blood). If she were just Eowyn, just a regularly attractive woman with a good heart – would have she been good enough for him to love her? I cannot get rid of this question. Maybe it is silly and not really justified by the canon itself, but this doubt is there. So in that line, I never had too much belief in the whole Faramir+Eowyn happily ever after. Even though given what kind of man he is, I believe he would love her and (try to) be faithful to her, I always felt he might not actually find his true ‘other half’ in her if you know what I mean. Yes, yes, I know he had spent some weeks getting to know her before they had settled everything – but at the same time he had fallen for her from the very start, and… I don’t know, I guess maybe it also has to do with gender roles here. You know I always snigger a little at these popular yin-yan stories where the male from one culture is all rash and vain and hotheaded, and the woman from another is all full of wisdom and nurturance, and she “awakens him” and opens his eyes on what life is really about: take “Avatar”, “Pocahontas”, “Fern Gully”, “Beauty and the beast” – the theme is to some extent present even in “Shrek”. For Faramir and Eowyn it is exactly the other way around – he has the “yin” and she the “yan”, and maybe it is him loving a strong and man-minded woman that has led to him being portrayed from a somewhat wimpy perspective int he film. I’m probably getting the amazons throwing rotten vegetables at me right now, but I guess you can see what I’m trying to say.

This whole beauty thing, coupled with all the rest, just unsettles me, bah. And similarly with Aragorn and Arwen, although in a different way. So I guess that’s one reason I gravitate to all this slash writing, as with men beauty as such is not so strongly correlated with the inner goodness, at least in our popular culture…

December    10 April 2012, 00:30    #

Dear me, what a fantastic writer of dialogues you are! More, what a fantastic writer of poetry! And I must say; I love the idea of them both being – at least slightly – drunk very attractive. It wouldn´t be half as interesting with, for example, Boromir, because he´s somebody one espects to kick over the traces now and then. But watching two characters who are used to be rather stern towards their own personal urges, granting themselves a loop hole – that´s way more intriguing!

Ah, poor dear Pips – I wonder how he´ll manage to get out of this – or if. Either way, that´s going to be a night to remember! X)

— raven22372    26 June 2012, 21:13    #

Dear Raven, why, you compliment me overmuch!
Ah, thank you dear for your lovely comment, and for always being a faithful reader :) It feels like such a long time since we’ve had one of these converations…
This whole scene, starting with Faramir getting ready for the evening, pretty much wrote itself, cloaks, wine, poetry and all. I’ll fess up, I always have reservations when it comes to writing people drunk. I mean, of course it’s very easy to write someone as being unconscious-under-the-table-drooling drunk – but when it ocmes to people still talking and doing things, only not in the exact same way as they would have if they were sober. Staying true to character is one thing – staying true to character while portraying that character in a state of altered consciousness is a completely new kettle of fish, and I’m so pleased you are pleased with how it came out.
And as for poetry, while I wouldn’t dare write anything full-blown and serious, I have always felt that going into Tolkien’s world and not doing anything in rhyme is… well, not fully proper. I’ve read a story once, “The Song of the Steward and the King” it was called or something very much like that, and the people there spoke in rhyme and verse about, well, maybe not half the time, but a lot. And I remember thinking, well, this is very true to the genre and to the original, it is! So yeah, here’s my little jocular nod in that direction – fear, fear, there might just be more to come!!

December    27 June 2012, 05:20    #

Hi December!

Wow, long time no see! And here’s a chapter where things evolve. Poor Pippin! And what a cliff-hanger at the end! How much shall he have to witness? How will he cope with it? Will he be caught? So many questions!
He sure must be quite thunderstruck at the moment, and at the same time, I guess the idea is not completely alien to him. And then what will he think of his own chances with the Steward? Learning that Faramir can feel attracted to a man, but then that man being Aragorn… At least, he should be happy that Faramir won’t have to leave Gondor… Actually, the more I think about it, the worse the cliff-hanger becomes! Gnnng!
Anyway, I hope real life is great and that we’ll soon see other chapters, both here and on your other wips.

Hugs,

— Nerey Camille    28 June 2012, 19:27    #

Hi again!

Great chapter: it was not easy to make a good job of Pippin’s feelings in this predicament. Very powerful final phrase, too, though I’m not sure what he means by “such beginnings” (but it sounds impressive all right). And why on earth should Aragorn be leaving? Is there an innocent explanation (like going for salve to heal Faramir or to get him breakfast in bed), or is he truly horrified at what he has done? Another cliffhanger!

— Nerey Camille    22 July 2012, 16:51    #

Wow, yes. It’s a lovely story! Great work. Looking forward to the next chapters!

— Laivindur    7 January 2013, 20:07    #

Aaaw, poor little Pippin! All alone among those strange big men with their strange behaviour he cannot really estimate. Of course, after such a long time he must have settled in his role and know how to deal with other people, but when it comes to the minefield of sexual intercourse, he´s not quite well-versed – and there is nobody he could ask about.

Again, love all the small details that upholster the story and make the base solid. Also, it gets palpable how much life in the citadel is based on duty – breakfast has to be made and laundry has to be done, no matter what. The show must go on and the fact that you feel confused and bewildered does not mean you can take a day off. What a difference from laid-back life in the Shire!

Welcome back, моя милая! It´s good to have you around again – have a very happy 2013!

— raven22372    12 January 2013, 14:27    #

Thank you for guys for the kind words and interest in the story! I’ve been a bit slow in replying, haven’t I…

Anyway, Raven, I’m glad to hear this is your perception of the chapter. You know, I had first intended to unite it with the following scene, i.e. what happens once Faramir gets out of his bedroom. But then I felt the effect is better when they are separate. After all, even if Pippin’s life more or less revolves around Faramir, this story is about Pippin more so than it is about Faramir, at least to the extent that we are following Pippin’s experiences, and we see only as much as Pippin sees. And since the previous two chapters, being off-duty, he has been pretty much an observer/bystander, I didn’t want Faramir to steal the show from him again, lol. Well, to be serious, I don’t want this to digress into another story of Faramir/Aragorn and their amorous adventures/struggles – I’ve written enough stories about that already, hehe. And little details, and mundane duties, and the larger duty that is made of these smaller ones – this IS what Pippin’s life is largely made of at the moment. As it is of anticipating things, and of constantly waiting for something else to happen. Which can sometimes lead to a chapter not being particularly “eventful” in the strict sense of the word – but otherwise I’m afraid the whole tone of the story might be damaged. So I felt this chapter in its own way is a very important one, despite its seeming quietness, and I’m glad you took a moment to say a nice thing :)

And a very happy new year to you too! Danke!!

December    12 January 2013, 22:43    #

Oh my! This is good original work. So fascinating. I loved the description of Faramir first meeting Pippin the next day.
Good explanation of the Hobbit as well.
I am thrilled to read more.

— Laivindur    25 January 2013, 22:32    #

Oh, how mean you are leaving your readers with a first-class cliffhanger..! If only you would just extend the story without end, then one could at least blame you! But you do such an excellent job, filling the gaps between the ´action´with small and smallest details, so the reader can´t help but devour them one after another, knowing only too good they drag him deeper and deeper into the story. I hope you feel at least the tiniest spark of shame! ;)

But now to serious business.: This is certainly the saddest thing ever and right now it makes me feel a certain urge of hitting Aragorn with a big shovel. To speak the truth I must even say it badgers me to a degree close to uncomfortableness – which of course doesn´t change the fact that you´re a wonderful writer :) Of course I would love to see any kind of happy end but at the moment I can´t spot any hint there will be one… Anyway: I´m far away from trying to push you into any direction (am I not noble?), so I will spend my days biting nails until your next update (royally noble). No, seriously. (sob) I can (sob sob) manage that (whine)…

— raven22372    27 January 2013, 22:45    #

Thank you, guys! You are the best (sprinkles shimmering love over you).

Oh, Raven, how noble of you indeed, to speak such kind words when it seems this update has given you little direct joy. And well, no, I can’t apologise for the cliff-hangers, I enjoy them immensely. You see, I am well aware of them showing up with dogged persistence, but somehow they feel appropriate in a Pippin-POV story. It always amused me in the Book and made me relate to Pippin very strongly that often he ended up left out of stuff, or at the very least not kept up-to-date with stuff, and that more often than not he would get himself involved by sheer accident (in turn often arising from a feat of curiosity/carelessness on his behalf), and when he did get involved, he would seldom get to see the full picture until much later on. So reading him always left me with a feeling of not quite knowing what in the world is happening, and things occuring with a certain startling suddenness – and therefore only further igniting his curiosity and wide-open-eyedness. So in a way to end in a cliff-hanged feels almost like paying homage to the character, like this is his element.

Not to mention that, well, I like to try and align the reader’s internal state with that of the POV character. So when the character is tense and uncertain, it feels a natural parallel to end an installment in this way. These cliffhangers are, so to say, in-the-story. Whereas when the character is experiencing no apparent tension/crossroads moment, and the cliff-hanger is put there in the form of stopping short of revealing to the reader something the character already knows, or sees as absolutely certain to happen in the nearest future – those cliffhangers do seem to me a bit effortful, yeah, and I try to be conscious of them.

Hehehe, your words about Aragorn made me grin from ear to ear. I can’t say why as that would be a spoiler, but you made me happy there, dear. And I must mention that while being extremely interesting to write in and of himself, being written from Pippin’s perspective, Aragorn becomes just a pure delight to work on as an artistic challenge. And I must mention here, while many analyses of the Book describe Aragorn as a perfect man, an absolute unattainable ideal of behaviour, I personally never quite saw him this way. Indeed he clearly has very powerful motivations and a strict internal code that guide his actions – but precisely for this reason… Oh well, wait, I probably shouldn’t be talking about this, or I might as well tell you how the story ends (insert big-grin trollface here).

Thank you again for sharing your impressions. And please do stick around, it despirits me immensely when I see someone leave. You’re always such an inspiration!

December    27 January 2013, 23:22    #

Dearest trollface,

IT WAS TELEPATHY. Definitely. Err… have you ever done this with lottery numbers? (gets pencil and paper) I´m all ears!

I feel like I should mention that in no way I was going to say that I didn´t enjoy it! It´s just that you give my all kind of feelings for your characters (which says a lot about your skills as a writer) and seeing their suffering I cannot help suffer a little myself.
All you said about Aragorn I could subscribe without hesitation. Apart from my craving desire for revenge I never felt a real fondness for him. Of course he is admirable – but not a person I would like to spend a Saturday night out with. Yes, there´s `FATE`written over his whole exístence, yes, he has to manage the pressure of a huge responsibilty – but that also counts for Gandalf, who is still able to communicate with ´normal´people anyway. On the contrary, unlike the future king Gandalf is well aware that it´s very often the ´small´people that pull the right strings at the right time – even though they have no knowledge of the full picture (probably because people like Mr. Aragorn take them for too unimportant to brief them). The funny thing is (apologies in case I´ve mentioned that a thousand times before) that it wasn´t before the movies that I realized Aragorn was in love with Arwen. Of course there was the marriage but to me it rather seemed like something that had to be done to keep things going. Fact is that (book) Aragorn never seems to be in love with anybody – or have any personal feelings, preferences or fondnesses. Not even a little whim, like Gandalf and his pipeweed, Faramir´s love for books or Boromir´s annoying but at least human attitude. I agree, the man IS perfect – so perfect you wouldn´t even know what to talk to him.

A spoiler? Hear hear! No worries, my dear, there´s no chance I will disappear into my box, especially not now! I will continue lurking on your doorstep, waiting with anticipation for the shovel to turn up! >:)

— raven22372    28 January 2013, 23:38    #

Hehe, I wish I did. I had tried my luck at the races not far back, and well, it was sooooo close, and yet so far (beh-heh-heh). So I wouldn’t go to me for lottery numbers if I were you. However I’ve always been good at coming across ownerless money and lost jewellery in the oddest of places, so maybe we could go on a treasure hunt one day, ey? ;)

Well, I meant that the chapter didn’t do much in the way of giving you positive emotions. I personally do derive a great deal of enjoyment through sad art and fiction, and I always remember the most the stories that had made me cry — but sometimes I do wonder if people come here for a smile and a pick-me-up – and I’m often not giving them that. Cause I lurve to see you cry (insert high-pitched witch-laugh here)!

You know, I do actually very much love Aragorn, but… he’s a little, well, not “weird” exactly, but sometimes he’s just way over my head. Which is probably the way it is supposed to be. I remember reading him as a kid, I totally didn’t get him, kind of like Pippin – didn’t preceive that he wpuld be King, or the whole Arwen thing. Thinking of him, I recall Shrek telling Donkey about Ogres, specifically that they are “like onions – multilayered”. And I see Aragorn exactly this way, he’s got this dry outer husk, and he can be quite the Deadpan Snarker, so it takes quite a lot of thinking and observation to get into him. Or, as Pippin saw it in the Book, he was “incalculable and remote” in his nobility. Which does not mean he does not feel – Tolkien does speak of how much it meant for him to be leaving Rivendel (i.e. Arwen), and how he dreamt of her in Lorien, and how it pained him to reject Eowyn, and how he was worried that Arwen would not come after all when all was done and won. It’s just that he really is very reserved in terms of feeheelings, and even the text description of them is so sprase and subtle that it is very easy to not notice them at all. And I can concur with your view of him as cold in regards to the scene of his passing, where Arwen pretty much goes hysterical and clings to him — and he’s like, da man gotta go when da man gotta go, that’s the way the cookie crumbles, honey (dies).

In saying that, I still much prefer him to the emotional doubting ladies’ man of the movie, but still… If I met him in real life, I’m pretty sure I’d be intimidated and feel very awkward. Maybe that’s in great part the reason why I want to write him, to see him put in such circumstances where he’d have to get out of the “husk”. It would be interesting to see, for example, how he would have fared if he had the setting of Faramir’s life, such as being the second son of Arathorn, and therefore knowing he would not be King, but still loving Arwen and doing stuff in her name, and then his older brother is slain and at once everything is turned round, and he can both have so much more impact, but at the same time suddenly so many more demands to shoulder, and things looking completely desperate – would he still handle all of that with a stiff upper lip and a pipe stuck out of the corner of his mouth? Not to mention if Arwen had initially loved, say, his older borther, and then after he was killed, would not be interested in Aragorn’s “pity” love. (I think a challenge had just been born)

December    29 January 2013, 00:53    #

Hi, hi, hi! Cliffhangers are becoming a permanent feature of this story. And I loved this chapter. I must admit I much preferred it to the previous one. Perhaps because Faramir’s in it :). I also loved the difficulty of Pippin’s role: making his lord’s life easier while pretending not to know about his problems. And the decision to resign is so much in character for Faramir. La suite!
Interesting challenge, by the way :).

— Nerey Camille    15 February 2013, 17:58    #

Hi there!

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been following this fanfiction since around the release of chapter 14, and that it is by far my favorite Tolkien fanfiction. It is of the highest quality of both depth in research into the subject of characters and setting, and in very intrusive thought on the main character, which is something that not only is rarely seen in this fandom’s works but in writing overall. This is truly a jewel that I’d love to see continued since I hold it so dear to my heart. It would mean the world to me, and I’m sure the others who have stumbled upon this work and also found themselves captured by it, if it could be continued! Your cliffhangers, though excellent, are completely unbearable when adding such a teasing wait of time after it. Also, I’d like to mention how impeccable your characterization of Faramir is; I love how you did it. And, the added background conflicts that present in Arwen and Eowyn; of course, Aragorn and Faramir’s surprising predicament as well! Now, /that/ was a shocker.

Thank you so much for already having gone so far and putting on the web such a wonderful piece of art for the rest of us to read and enjoy.

— Fionn    27 August 2013, 09:44    #

Oh my goodness, thank you Fionn!

Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking on this story just today. It is by all means not dead, just – well, I’m going to be really original now and talk about how life took over and I’ve not had much time/energy/inspiration to do much writing. But hopefully things are looking up now, we are finally settling for good in New Zealand, some of my professional commitments are getting done and dusted – and I’m virtually rolling up my sleeves to get some writing time in my schedule again, hehe.

Not promising any specific dates, but definitely have every intention of pushing this story (and the others of mine) along. Goodness knows I’ve missed it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, you’ve utterly made my day :)))))

— December    31 August 2013, 06:58    #

Let’s hope I pressed the right thing to post this as a response, welp. I’ve never reviewed on any of the other fanfics on this website except this one, haha.

I’m so glad to hear that! And gosh, no, I really do understand what you mean; I write as well and sometimes incentive drains away no matter how much you actually do want to keep the updates going. But – you’ve moved to New Zealand? I’m jealous! For years I’ve been wanting to move there, so hopefully when I’m in a solid place I can start trying to actually make that happen.

Anyways, yeah! You really have no idea how happy that makes me to hear that it’ll continue. I’ll definitely be dropping in more than usual to look for any surprise updates, then. And really, it’s both no problem and my pleasure to have commented. Take care!

— Fionn    2 September 2013, 07:56    #

Hi December! I came here to see if there were any news about the swap and had the good surprise to discover your new chapter. Good to see that you haved taken this story up again! Aaaaand… surprising chapter to be sure, but it’s interesting and even startling to see Pippin in such a rage towards Aragorn. How are you, honey?

— Nerey Camille    4 November 2013, 14:09    #

Oooh an update! Even though it’s been a while I remember this story so clearly (though I think I’m going to re-read it now!) – and the latest chapter is as good as the rest. Thank you! :)

— jewel    7 December 2013, 23:47    #

All I ask from Santa this holiday season was for this fic to update. :’)

Archivist's note: Please remember not to nag authors for updates.(Or at least, not just nag without saying something nice first...) Click the Rules & Help button under the comment form for more details.
— Fionn    25 December 2013, 09:37    #

Oh gosh guys, thanks for the comments! I’m sorry I’d been silent: my writing email account got blocked and I didn’t get any notifications or ANYTHING for 2 months… Thanks so much for following and wanting to see more :) I’ll definitely be working on that, though to be honest I’m currently 8 months pregs, so who knows what the update schedule’s going to look like… But anyway, your support means the world to me!

— December    31 January 2014, 18:55    #

I just wanted to tell you that this is one of my top favorite LoTR fics of all time; I feel as though it captures the characters and insightfulness of Tolkien in the cultures of Middle-earth flawlessly, and that I can almost see everything happen in my mind’s eye while I read, which I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve recommended the Gifts in Small Packages to a countless number of friends who in some way, shape, or form have always found at least one aspect that fully captivates them, and for the few days onward it’s all I’ll hear about! Even if this story isn’t going to end up being continued soon, or ever for that matter, thank you so much for putting the time and effort into this work that has given me much pleasure and entertainment through a countless amount of reads. It is truly a treasured work of fiction that I often think about. I hope that everything with the baby is well! Take care and stay well & healthy. :-)

— Buttercup    7 May 2014, 06:35    #

Dear Buttercup,

Thank you for taking the time to write this lovely review! It’s really so very heart-warming and inspiring to see that a work of mine touches other people like that.
Thank you, life is well – and very busy! What else is new? :)

— December    19 May 2014, 02:22    #

I just discovered this and wowie, of all the LotR fanfic I’ve read in my time, this has got to the very cream of the crop. The amount of background fills it entirely with life, even though we only see it through the eyes of a hobbit who mainly stays inside tending to one other person, and it is just so full of intrusive character exploration of so many more, and enticing drama that I want more than anything to read more of. But, with that said, what’s already done here is so much more than I’ve ever seen, so thank you for writing such a beautiful work… it is definitely an amazing experience to read.

— hals_hallow    10 July 2014, 07:20    #

Just finished reading the entire thing, and I am in love with this story and anticipatory of when you write more, which I hope will be soon. You have me quite on the edge of desperately yearning to know what takes place, and if Aragorn does anything, if Faramir does return, or if Pippin searches him out. Just write more soon, please.

— AvidReader    22 September 2014, 18:44    #

I read this front to back last night, and can I just that that this is my favorite LoTR fic of all time. It’s beautifully done, your characterization is amazing, and if you ever decide to write more, I’ll basically scream with joy. Stay wonderful!

— DiaGloGlo    12 November 2014, 23:00    #

Had to re-read some to catch up to Chapter 18. Not sure if I’ve seen 17 either… Poor Pippin. I don’t even know what else to say. We know his heart so much more than Faramir’s in this story—we’re seeing Faramir through Pippin. Hoping things get better for both of them.

— Bell Witch    16 September 2017, 06:18    #

I was so happy to see an update from you to this story, as I had given up hope that it would be added on to!

That said, I feel so sorry for Faramir and Pippin, and a bit frustrated at Aragorn. I love the part where Pippin missed supper and his attitude as he goes to meet Aragorn.

I do so hope for an update soon! You have me on the edge of my seat!

— AvidReader    2 October 2017, 06:41    #

I can’t even write in words how happy this made me, reading an update for this fic! I hadn’t expected to see one but just came along to reread for sentiment’s sake, and here it is! Thank you for continuing on in your work and sharing with us. You’ve always our audience with this wonderful work.

— Fionn    4 December 2017, 00:32    #

Oh how I am so thrilled to see an update. Your voice for Pippin is just perfect..it makes me smile and hope for happiness for them all..grin.. perhaps a little much to hope. rolls around in angst like catnip

— sian22    15 December 2017, 16:00    #

Screams. How did l miss all these lovely comments? Wasn’t seeing the notification somehow? This treasure was sitting here waiting for me all this time! Anyway.
hals_hallow wow thank you so much, that some very generous praise! Yes, it’s definitely an interesting challenge, given Pippin’s position provides a rather limited view. l’m so glad you find it life-like!
AvidReader thank you so much for your kind words, and coming back to check on the story! l hope you’ve seen the latest updates as well.
Bell Witch, yeah, it’s tricky to keep track with updates spaced out like that. l wonder if l can make the reading experience more cohesive somehow? Poor Pippin indeed, l (almost) feel bad for everything he’s getting put through.
Fionn, thank you so much! To think that people actually come back just to re-read. Squee! l definitely have every intention of continuing through to the finish line, just takes time sometimes…
sian22 thank you so much! Pippin is so fun to write. Oh, l hear you, angst is my catnip too. Obviously ;)

— December    6 April 2018, 08:53    #

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About the Author


December

Greetings, fellow fan!

What to expect to find here: All the stories are based on Book-verse for looks and personalities, although you will often find the canon bent (hehe) in terms of events. Please prepare for an unhurried, often bitter-sweet read with lots of sexual tension.

A bit about me: feisty redhead headquartered in New Zealand. Living in a wooden house in the old forest not far from the sea – probably goes some way to explain why I write what I do. Other than reading and writing, lover of music, art, travel, gardening, dance horses, and chocolate.

Was introduced to Tolkien at the tender age of six, was never the same since.

Always keen to collaborate with all ye good folke in the fandom. Feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for a beta reader, too.

Also, if you’re looking to visit New Zealand, happy to offer a bed and breakfast (second breakfast negotiable).

P.S. Don’t forget to have a look at the challenges – perhaps there is one waiting just for you!

And there’s also a bit of fanart for you to see.