Rating: PG (for one use of mildly salty language)
Summary: Sometimes a writer just can't please everyone, as Frodo discovers...
A/N: This collaborative story is the result of a rather silly late night IM conversation in which Dreamflower and Celeritas came to the conclusion that the reason that so many of the exciting things that happened in Rivendell and Hollin were left out of the Red Book is because it would have made the story far too long. (Readers may spot a number of familiar references...perhaps you will even see yourself...)
(Written for Hobbit Ficathon's "Conversation Challenge", and inspired by a late night IM chat session.)
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You have got to stop doing that, Frodo reminded himself. He deliberately moved his left thumb away from his stump, and then shoved both his hands in his pockets. It’s downright unsettling. He didn’t know when he had picked up the habit, but he’d noticed it pretty quickly and tamped it down. The fact that he’d even started this time only showed how nervous he was.
And it was silly to be nervous, really, for he’d already taken all the notes, and he knew he was a good writer, but there was still that feeling of panic you got as you were hurtling towards the water, fearing that this time it wouldn’t buoy you up to the surface...
Goodness. If he were kept waiting much longer, he’d suddenly find himself biting his nails. “Well?” he said, when he could no longer contain himself. “What do you think?”
Pippin looked up from the book at his cousin, perplexed. “You’ve left an awful lot out, Frodo.”
Frodo blinked. “Of course I did, Pippin. I had to. There was a good deal of material that was irrelevant to the story.”
“Irrelevant? Good heavens, Frodo! I certainly don’t see how those things could be irrelevant! They were important!”
Frodo raised his eyebrows. He hardly thought that Pippin’s painfully attenuated, poetry-ridden crush on Arwen counted as “important,” but he knew Pippin well enough to realize that he had a tendency to make words mean very different things. “Important they may have been,” he said mildly, “but compared with what I did include, I think one would have to argue that they were rather... minor events.”
Pippin looked shocked. “I don’t see how you could possibly think they were ‘minor’ events! Why Frodo, why didn't you put in the part in Rivendell when I nearly drowned saving Legolas? Or the part where you got captured by orcs, and Merry and Boromir rescued you just in time? Or when we went into that little town for supplies and nearly burned it down? Or the part where you and I were caught in an avalanche on the way up Caradhras?”
“Pippin! I can’t include everything. I should have thought you’d be able to accept the limitations of an author’s challenge, and if you keep this... this perversity up I shall have to consider killing you off at the Black Gate.”
Pippin looked taken aback for only an instant. “You couldn’t kill me off at the Black Gate. I’m still here.” He grinned cheekily. “And you did leave a lot out! What about when Legolas and Gimli and I had to travel through a gorge separated from the rest of you? Or when the ruffians captured you and Legolas in that forest? Or you nearly drowned getting captured by water goblins? Or when Sam and Legolas got washed down a river and then captured by Ruffians…”
“Yes, yes, or when you talked Boromir into dangling you over a precipice so that you could find his mother’s ring...” Frodo bravely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Pippin kept on going.
“What about when I rescued Boromir from the thornbushes? Or we both got trapped on a ledge? And how about all those times Aragorn had to carry you because you kept getting sick from falling in rivers or getting buried in snow?”
“If I included all those, people would be forced to conclude we couldn’t--I couldn’t--take three steps without falling into some fresh and deadly peril.”
“Well, not everything that happened was dire. You could include some of the fun we had! What about all those lovely things we did for Yule?”
Yule. He hadn’t even thought of Yule, though now that he was thinking of it it appeared to have gone on for at least six days...
Pippin was prattling on with no concern for his cousin’s sanity. “Like when we made that holly wreath for Boromir, or when he and I both got stranded hunting for our Yuletide supper and I sprained my wrist. And all the Yule carols! And all the other songs! Why didn't you put down all the songs I entertained people with on the road?”
“Pippin, I hardly believe that singing ‘One Hundred Apple Pies’ four hundred and eighty-six times counts as ‘all the songs!’”
“Well, there were all the genealogy lessons we gave Boromir. And there were the games we played like the spitting contest; or the conkers contest..."
“Ugh, don’t remind me...”
“Yes, and the pissing contest, too!” Pippin chortled at the memory.
“Language!” Frodo paused just long enough to make sure that his glower of disapproval had registered. “Of course, if we’re going down the road of your considerable immaturity, I suppose I could also put in all of the times you and Merry pulled stupid pranks and endangered everybody!”
Pippin shut his mouth with a snap, and glared at Frodo. Then after an instant, said hesitantly, "But... it shows character development?"
Frodo’s lips quirked up in a smile. “Or perhaps the time Merry and I had to force you to take a bath! Or had to give you a haircut because your hair was so tangled it couldn’t be combed?”
Pippin pursed his lips in thought. “Well, perhaps you have a point about relevancy. After all, it would take several volumes just to get us to the other side of the Misty Mountains if you included all of that.”
“Yes, Pippin. It would. And now that we have that matter settled...”
He could tell that Pippin wanted to argue the matter further, but just then, the study door opened. Merry and Sam came in, bearing tea trays. Pippin's face lit up like a beacon at the sight of the bountiful repast. “Are those strawberry tarts?”
The four of them settled into the comfortable armchairs by the hearth, plates of sandwiches and cakes in hand, as Frodo poured the tea.
“Frodo,” said Merry, “I’ve been thinking about the parts of the book you showed me, and I think you left out some important parts, like the time Boromir and I rescued you from those goblins that had kidnapped you? Or the time I saved us from that ruffian by throwing my knife?”
Frodo’s eyes widened. Not Merry, too... Oh, well, at least I can count on one person to suppor--
“And Mr. Frodo?” Sam added diffidently. “I really think you should have put in more about Bill! Good old Bill saved us several times—like when Gandalf used him as bait to try and get that warg what was tracking us? Or when he kicked down that wall of boulders we was trapped behind?”
Frodo threw his hands up in despair. “Look, you three. I am the one writing this tale, not you, and if you’d like to include any of the other things that happened on the Quest, you’re more than welcome to write them down yourselves!” He glared at them, and then firmly shut the book, hoping that that would make things final.
He really needed to get new beta-readers.
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Chapter End Notes:
For those of you who are curious about the various stories which were referenced in this story, the Reference List has a list of Authors and links to the stories.
If you'd like to guess which episodes came from which story, spoiler space is provided, followed by quotes and reference numbers, so that you can check your score!