A Conspiracy of Comedy by Dreamflower

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Story Notes:

Written in 2006 for the 20_rings Community.

 
Title: A Conspiracy of Comedy
Theme: Set #2, Theme #7, “Smiling face”
Genre (s): General
Pairing (s): N/A
Rating: G
Notes: My thanks to Marigold, who helped me over the hump with this one!
Summary:The Company tries to cheer Frodo up…

 


 

A CONSPIRACY OF COMEDY

"The Company were footsore and tired; but they trudged doggedly along the rough and winding track for many miles. The sun turned from the noon and began to go west. After a brief halt and a hasty meal, they went on again.” *

“This isn’t right, Gandalf.” The wizard looked with surprise at the hobbit who stood at his elbow with a mug of soup.

“Whatever do you mean, Meriadoc Brandybuck?”

“Look.” He gestured with his chin to where Frodo sat, taking his soup from Pippin, and thanking him solemnly, even though Pippin had presented it to him with an extravagant gesture and a flamboyant bow. “Even Pippin can’t cheer him up.”

Pippin glanced over at Merry, with a crestfallen face, and gave an apologetic shrug.

“I am sorry to see that, Merry,” Gandalf replied, “yet it is only to be expected that he will sometimes be feeling his burden too much to feel cheerful.”

“Yes, well, he’s always feeling thatburden. But I think it’s more than that right now. He’s feeling guilty again, that Pip and Sam and I are along--after the snow and the wolves and all. And he‘s not at all happy with having to decide that we are going through these dangerous mines of yours.”

“I am sure that you are right, Merry. Yet would you turn back to spare him the guilt?”

Merry’s grey eyes went flat. “No.” He looked at the Wizard speculatively. “But even though I know we are in a hurry, I don’t think we should press on until he’s feeling a bit happier. When he‘s miserable like this it wears him out. And it‘s dangerous.” He shut his mouth with a snap. Now that he was an adult, he knew more than he was comfortable with sometimes about what Frodo’s occasional melancholy could mean. But even if he said nothing more, he was sure Gandalf would know what he meant.

The wizard looked at him with a frown. “Meriadoc--”

“I mean it, Gandalf. Pip and Sam and I agree. We’re not budging a foot from here until we see a smile on his face again. We are all tired and footsore, but he’s got it worst of all. The least we can do is lighten his mood, if we can’t lighten his load.” He gazed back at the wizard firmly, as stubborn and steely a glint in his eye as Gandalf had ever seen there--fully as stubborn as Frodo himself. He sighed. One of the reasons he had wanted the hobbits to come was that he felt they would always be keeping Frodo’s best interests in mind, so that Frodo would not be in danger of being thought of only as “Ringbearer”. Clearly he had been correct, even though it was not exactly the most convenient of times for them to assert themselves. They really did need to reach the Gates of Moria before dark.

He cocked his head, to where Legolas stood, several feet away. “You heard,” he said.

The Elf nodded. Merry had been speaking quietly, but not nearly quietly enough to remain unheard by Elven ears. “They are very protective of him.”

“As they should be,” said Gandalf. He glanced over at Frodo himself. Yes, he saw the dark mood that Merry feared, gathered over the Ringbearer. He flicked his eyes to Legolas, who was speaking quietly to Aragorn.

Then Aragorn was having a quiet word with Gimli, and next Boromir. Gandalf twitched his lips. It might be worth a small delay to see what they could come up with.

A moment or two later, Gimli sat down next to Frodo and began to remove his boots. Frodo did not even glance in the Dwarf’s direction, but Pippin’s eyes gazed with intense fascination, and Merry curiously asked “What’s wrong, Gimli?”

“Nothing, Master Hobbit. But I do think that it is time that I changed my stockings.”

Now Merry and Pippin both stared in bemusement at the stockings that were revealed--they were bright red, with a heel and toe of grey, and on the right foot a large toe was peeking out through a hole. “I suppose I have some darning to do,” he said. As he peeled the stockings off to reveal his knobby feet, pale and hairless to hobbit eyes, the two hobbits backed up, as he waved them about a bit before rolling them up. Frodo merely wrinkled his nose, and did not seem to otherwise notice.

He pulled out from his pack another pair of stockings, this pair a vivid purple, with bright yellow stripes.

Boromir had come up behind him, and snickered. “Master Dwarf, it is as well that you will be putting your boots on over those stockings, for otherwise you would be blinding us.”

There were several moments of banter, as the others all came over and passed remarks upon the rather colorful stockings, but Frodo did not seem to notice. Finally, Gimli spoke up as he began to pull his boots back on. “What say you, Master Baggins? Are these not fine stockings?”

Frodo gave a slight start. “Oh, I’m sorry, Gimli! Did you say something?”

Merry and Pippin rolled their eyes, and Sam sighed. Gimli got up and stamped off, muttering to himself. Frodo merely shrugged.

They had begun to pack things up, although the glare Merry gave Gandalf clearly said that though they might be packed, that did not mean they were going anywhere.

Legolas picked up the bag containing their supply of rather shriveled apples, in preparation to putting it back on Bill; somehow he managed to get the wrong end of the bag, and all the apples came rolling out.

“Oi!” Pippin and Sam ran to gather them up, and Pippin tossed one to Legolas, who had already picked up a couple. With a little smile, he began to juggle the three apples. Pippin laughed, and Merry picked up another one and tossed it to the Elf, who added it to the ones he was already juggling. He spent a few moments spinning the apples in an ever widening circle, but when a glance showed him that Frodo was paying no attention, he sighed, and as he caught each one, placed it in the bag. He loaded it on the pony with a shrug and an apologetic look.

Boromir suddenly seemed afflicted with a bout of clumsiness; as he went to douse the fire, he stumbled, and as he tried to catch his balance, he caught his sword against a large rock, and then landed flat on his bottom. Merry, Pippin, and Sam began to snicker, and Aragorn and Gimli laughed outright, but Frodo got up and went over to the Gondorian. “Are you all right, Boromir?” he asked, concern writ large on his face. Boromir looked startled at this.

“No, Frodo, I am just fine, thank you. I was simply unaccountably clumsy. I am sorry.”

His eyes met Merry’s and Pippin’s over Frodo’s shoulder, and they could see the apology in them.

Gandalf had been watching all these antics with a glittering eye, as he sat smoking and waiting, his hat on the ground beside him. It was gratifying to see the efforts being made on Frodo’s behalf, but it was also disturbing to him to realize just how melancholy Frodo was. For normally Frodo was a very perceptive hobbit, and it would not have escaped him that these bits of clumsiness or other diversions were being aimed in his direction. Everything was nearly ready to go, and they could not much longer stay here if they hoped to make the Gate before darkness fell. He did not look forward to a confrontation with the three younger hobbits. Perhaps he might manage some bit of sleight of hand himself, if nothing else was forthcoming.

Behind him, Aragorn had turned over a large rock, and had taken something from beneath it. He held it in his cupped hands for a moment--and then glanced up.

Frodo happened to meet his eyes then, and his own widened in surprise as he saw the Ranger hold up--

A small lizard. It looked quite disgruntled at having its winter slumber disturbed, but the warmth of the Man's hands meant it was no longer sluggish. With a roguish grin he lifted up Gandalf’s hat, and dropped the lizard inside.

By this time, everyone except Gandalf himself had seen what Aragorn had done. When Aragorn handed him his hat, he took it with brusque thanks and set it upon his head.

Only to yank it off again after only a second, and throw it to the ground.


“Great elephants!” He exclaimed. “What on earth?” He snatched it up, and reached in, removing the offended lizard, which thrashed between his fingers. He aimed a glare in Pippin’s direction.

Pippin gave a frightened squeak. “Not me! I promise not me, Gandalf!”

But his protests were drowned out by the welcome sound of Frodo’s astonished laughter.

And soon the whole Company was laughing as well, except for Gandalf who was muttering imprecations.

But he glanced at Frodo’s smiling face, and then at Merry.

Merry could never be quite certain, but he always thought Gandalf had winked at him then.


______________________________


*From The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II , Chapter IV, “A Journey in the Dark”

 




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