Characters: FrodoFrodoFrodo ...
Summary: Why can't the Frodos get along and what effect does it have on their fanfic readers and writers? Written after a minor pairing preference kerfuffle on a Yahoo group.
Disclaimer: Don't own them and don't make any profit from them.
Seven pairs of bright blue eyes (attached to seven identically adorable pale faces with unruly curls covering the most delightfully pointed ears) focused on the rather plump hobbit seated at the head of the long table in Bag End’s dining room. Their delicious grumbling—“what’s this all about … dragged away from festivities … riding for days and days and days without rest”—slowly died down until the chubby fellow with the perky eye was able to speak without the un-gentlehobbity necessity of raising his voice.
“Thank you for coming at such short notice. Most appreciative.” He bowed his head in turn to acknowledge each of the ravishingly beautiful hobbits seated around him. Though he tried not to, he found himself blinking rather hard between bows. Most peculiar, he mused to himself. LThey all appear exactly alike to the naked eye. I must remember to write Bilbo later.
Truly, the unblinking stare of so many enormous blue eyes was most unnerving. Creeping about the Lonely Mountain under the beady eye of Smaug could not have been nearly as alarming. Frodo (for of course it was the inimitable one) jammed one hand into his breeches pocket and fished about for … “Snakes and adders. Where did that dratted thing get to.” He cleared his throat once more, noting the fascinated gaze of his guests (just as he himself observed their matching responses as seven hands fished about in seven pairs of breeches pockets), and began his introductory remarks.
“As I was saying, I am most grateful that you were all able to join me today, especially at such short notice. I realize some of you traveled many long leagues and must be very tired. As I’m sure you will all agree, the situation is in danger of getting out of hand though I’m equally sure we shall be able to come up with a solution pleasing to all. I know you have your readers’ best interests at heart. Er …”
“Yes?” they all said, leaning forward with pink cheeks dimpled by indistinguishable smiles.
Frodo laughed, albeit a little nervously. “Well, to begin with … er …” Frodo scratched his head, took a deep breath, and said in a rush, “Would you all mind identifying yourselves? I’m afraid you look rather alike to me. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how you all managed to be descended from me.”
With that, the alternate Frodos burst into loud laughter. To book!Frodo (for the chubby one was most definitely pre-movie, plump, plain-faced but bright-eyed book!Frodo), the sound seemed a tad derisive. Sighing, he found he could not condemn them in his heart of hearts for he was homely indeed compared to their ethereal beauty. Hmph, he thought. LHandsome is as handsome does, as Sam might say. That laughter is not exactly ethereal.
Composing himself to his task, book!Frodo said softly, “Would you all mind introducing yourselves once more to me? I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch it all when you arrived, and I do so want to know each of you individually as you deserve.”
Well, that was apparently the right thing to say, for the Frodos all preened a bit, fluffing each others’ curls and feigning reluctance to go first. Finally, book!Frodo sighed and pointed to the Frodo seated to his right. “You first.”
Ignoring the sudden murderous glares from the remaining Frodos, the chosen one smiled, waited a moment, and finally spoke. Stroking his intricately embroidered silk robe, he nodded regally at book!Frodo and said, “I’m elvish!Frodo. While I’m normally paired with Legolas, I’m not averse to the occasional coupling with Elrond.” He lowered his voice and leaned confidingly toward book!Frodo. “Elrond knows the most delightful Elvish secrets that make joining with him utter bliss.”
Book!Frodo blushed bright red, which of course just made the faux Frodos burst into derisive laughter again.
Elvish!Frodo shushed the others and laid his hand on book!Frodo’s sleeve, stroking gently. “Your pardon. I forgot for a moment how sheltered you have been regarding the, er, more erotic arts.”
“Er, yes, quite.” Book!Frodo ran one finger around the inside of his shirt collar. How warm it was getting in this room. “Erm … next?”
Seated next to elvish!Frodo was a Frodo clad in a dark green suede suit of breeches and tunic. While the outfit might look a little outlandish to Hobbiton-bred eyes, to the more sophisticated book!Frodo it seemed to suit this particular Frodo.
Pulling out a long-stemmed pipe and knocking it against his hand, the green-clad Frodo said, “I’m man!Frodo.”
“A-hem!” This from a Frodo sitting directly opposite book!Frodo.
“Right. Sorry. Better call me aragorn!Frodo.”
“What?” Book!Frodo could not help this heedless ejaculation. “You … and … the Dunadan? Really? How extraordinary.” He sat back in his chair, his hand on his chest and a smile slowly turning up the corners of his mouth.
“Oh, yes. Really.” With a quick jab of his elbow into elvish!Frodo’s side, aragorn!Frodo snorted. “And believe me, I have no need of any fancy Elvish potions to make me ready for my Ranger of the North.”
Elvish!Frodo rolled his eyes. “I told you it helps.”
Aragorn!Frodo retorted, “And I told you there’s no need. I’m plenty tough enough. Plus …” And here his eyes went a little dreamy … well, a LOT dreamy which is quite too dreamy for most people to withstand without proper shielding of the eyes. As book!Frodo found himself doing so he could continue his observations. How much he would have to add to the Red Book tonight!
After a moment’s fond reverie, aragorn!Frodo continued, with the corners of his mouth turned up just so. “Plus … Aragorn quite knows how to take care of me in all situations, fair or foul.”
The other Frodos groaned. “Not that old chestnut.”
“All right, all right. You would have used it yourself,” aragorn!Frodo tossed off with a snappy little sneer. “Heh. Jealous.”
The alternate Frodos all began to speak at once, debating the merits of the dear old phrase and whether or not each individual Frodo would have resorted to its use (though book!Frodo was quite sure each one would have, regardless of their showy refusals). Eventually, when they showed no sign of slowing down, he coughed once, in an explosive bark. They quieted.
“Gentlehobbits, I beg you. How are we to help our readers in their time of trouble if we cannot even engage in introductions without dissent?”
The Frodos bowed elegantly in unison. In rapid succession, boromir!Frodo and sam!Frodo introduced themselves. Dear Sam, book!Frodo thought as sam!Frodo shyly talked about the peace and joy he had found in his loyal gardener’s sturdy but gentle embrace. Makes sense.
Book!Frodo nodded to the Frodo seated directly opposite him. Before speaking, book!Frodo noticed how gently this one turned his head and acknowledged sam!Frodo’s words. “Well said, my friend.”
Book!Frodo urged the gentle one to introduce himself. “And you are?”
Smiling happily, the hobbit said, “I’m faramir!Frodo. I’m ever so glad I was able to get here in time … Umbar is quite a distance from Hobbiton.”
Well, bless my boots. Faramir! book!Frodo thought. Curiouser and curiouser. Aloud, he inquired, “How is the Prince of Ithilien? And Umbar? Whatever are you doing there?”
A few snorts of laughter were stifled by quick fierce glances from sam!Frodo. Faramir!Frodo sighed. “He is very well, thank you. Er, Umbar, well …” Gesturing with one hand, he said, “It’s a long story. Shall we move on?”
Always alert to the feelings of others, book!Frodo said briskly (though of course tucked away the information, or rather, lack of information, for future investigation), “Of course. Next, please!”
The next Frodo seemed particularly shy, and truth to tell, a little gaunt. Book!Frodo wondered how he could have missed the hollow cheeks and fine lines around his eyes. “Yes … you are?”
Lifting his head, this Frodo’s eyes truly pierced book!Frodo’s heart with his clear gaze. “I am rosiesamfrodo!Frodo.”
“Goodness! That’s quite a mouthful,” book!Frodo replied. “Might I have that again?”
“That’s rosiesamfrodo!Frodo. Though you can just call me rsf!Frodo for short.” Rsf!Frodo smiled, and book!Frodo wondered how he could have thought they all seemed alike when this one had something … special.
“Well, rsf!Frodo … yes, that does come off the tongue quite well. But isn’t there already a sam!Frodo? Surely he just introduced himself a few minutes ago.”
“Well … but sam!Frodo doesn’t have Rosie in the mix, and I do … indeed, in our own private Shire Sam and I couldn’t do without her. Though sometimes I really do think they’d be better off without me …”
And here rsf!Frodo’s voice trailed off until boromir!Frodo said quite brusquely, “Now, now … none of that! No self-pity at this table. At least the significant other of your pairing doesn’t go and get himself killed every time.”
Rsf!Frodo looked over and, with a quiver in his chin but a tremulous smile on his lips, he said, “Right you are, b! You always do get me out of my self-pitying moods.” Turning to the last hobbit, he said, “Go on … your turn.”
The last one sat up straight and said, “Nothing easier. I am triangle!Frodo. I start out with a yen for one species but end up with another.” cough “Usually my own dear Sam, though once I did manage to end up with Faramir.” A happy smile of remembrance softened triangle!Frodo’s beautiful features. “Wouldn’t mind trying that again, if only, if only …” The smile faded away, and a look of sadness came over triangle!Frodo’s face.
“If only what?” book!Frodo asked, his brow wrinkled in perplexity. “Surely these things are repeatable, if I understand anything about this thing called fanfiction … which quite frankly it’s exceedingly likely that I don’t. Most peculiar thing.” Fixing triangle!Frodo with a sharp look, he repeated, “If only what?”
Triangle!Frodo shrugged his shoulders. “If only someone would write it again. It’s just that no one ever has, not like that anyway. Everyone seems so fixed in what they like and then the readers just want one thing and can’t bear even the mention of the other, and sometimes I just …” To book!Frodo’s astonishment, triangle!Frodo buried his face against rsf!Frodo’s shoulder and burst into noisy tears. Rsf!Frodo drew him closer and murmured tender words though they did nothing to stem the flood. If anything, book!Frodo observed with alarm that the tears seemed to be spreading, even most unaccountably to his own eyes.
Taking out his pocket kerchief, book!Frodo dabbed at his moist eyes, cleared his throat and asked, “Will he be all right? Shall I get him some more tea?”
Rsf!Frodo smiled and said, “He’ll be fine in a few minutes. He’s had some pretty bad reader experiences … well, we all have, but in some ways I think he’s had it the worst.”
“What is the problem?” book!Frodo asked, determined to get to the root of the problem at last. “I mean, as I understand it, there are readers who like to read these sorts of stories and who have an apparently insatiable appetite for them. I cannot deny that it seems odd to me that they would want to do so, but even the Master himself said that others would come after him to expand the tale in music and painting and drama, though …” cough “… it seems unlikely that he had quite these kinds of stories in mind.”
The Frodos preened again; even triangle!Frodo sat up a little straighter and wiped away his tears.
Book!Frodo shuddered. “Descended from me you are, yes … but otnay ootay rightbay,” he said. At their quizzical glances, he waved a hand. “A very ancient form of Elvish, accessible only in very old scrolls in Rivendell.”
Six Frodos turned and stared at elvish!Frodo. “What? Am I supposed to know everything just because I live in Rivendell much of the time?”
Boromir!Frodo snorted. “I think friend elvish!Frodo here is more concerned with Elvish potions than Elvish letters.”
“You know, that chip on your shoulder is going to make you lopsided if you don’t watch it.”
And again, the tinkling sound of the seven Frodos rose in the air of Bag End’s dining room, though this time book!Frodo wisely muffled it by dropping his head on the table and covering it with his arms until the hubbub died down with a few last insults.
Raising his head again, he said sadly, “I believe I understand now. It is no wonder to me that your readers have difficulty coexisting when you do no better yourselves. Have you not considered that they might sense the disrespect you feel toward each other? Is it not possible that they can hear the barbs you toss about so freely? Can you not get along for longer than a mere minute? Hm?” He sat back against his chair with a snort and folded his arms across his ample belly.
Book!Frodo was quite pleased to see the Frodos looking distinctly abashed and ashamed. They all lowered their heads in unison, faces reddening in an attractive manner. Gotta stop this unison business, it’s giving me the squicks!
After a few moments, the Frodos began to lift their heads, casting little smiling glances at each other and pressing each other’s hands tenderly. Faramir!Frodo said, “Our most esteemed ancestor is right. Surely our readers must be sensing our own petty disagreements. For they are petty, are they not? Boromir!Frodo, do you really resent the others? I know it’s difficult for you, considering your ending, but you don’t really find elvish!Frodo all that offensive, do you?”
Boromir!Frodo had the good grace to blush even more deeply. He said, “No, of course not. Just like to tease him a bit. Don’t begrudge him his Elvish fancies, not at all. And I wouldn’t trade my other half for all the happy endings in the world … er, not that I’d complain if someone wrote me a happy ending, that is, it would be fine with me. Really.”
One by one, the Frodos spoke softly to each other and agreed to be more considerate of each other’s choices and pleasures. Book!Frodo watched with a great sense of relief. Yes, I can see how they are descended from me, after all.
Aloud, he said, “Right. That’s settled then. Shall we have supper?”
“Oh, yes, please. Thank you!”
As the various and sundry Frodos stood and stretched their legs, a soft knock came at the door.
“Now who in Middle-earth can that be?” book!Frodo said as he walked through the kitchen and parlor, the others crowding behind him. Opening the round door, book!Frodo found to his surprise nothing more nor less than … a Frodo smiling and nodding on his doorstep.
At once, the other Frodos began backing away. As one, they said, “Oh, no … we didn’t think the deal included him … uh uh …”
Book!Frodo drew his brows together in perplexity (yet again). Turning to the fleeing Frodos, he asked, “But what is the problem? Here is but another of your brethren to join us. Does that not make you complete?”
The kitchen door slammed shut, but book!Frodo was able to hear a robust, “No!!!!” through the heavy timbers.
Though he was slightly flustered, he remembered his manners and turned back to this most lately arrived of all Frodos, who waited patiently on the doorstep. “And your name, my dear Frodo?” he asked.
In the most dulcet voice book!Frodo had ever heard, the new Frodo said, “I am gollum!Frodo.”
A/N: Sincere apologies to any Frodo/Gollum fanciers here.