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The Accidental Book Club of Bag End   by Grey Wonderer

The Accidental Book Club of Bag End
Some time after the Quest at Frodo’s Smial

“I’ve had too much ale this Yule,” Merry sighed.

“As you do every Yule, Meriadoc,” Pippin yawned, stretching out on the sofa and closing his eyes.

“No, I believe I've had more than usual I’d say,” Merry said thoughtfully.  He peered at the book in his hands and frowned.

“I lost count of your consumption this year so I dare not comment,” Pippin said.  “And, as there were, and still are, a great many hobbits about, all of whom have likely had too much ale, I doubt you can put a number to it.”

“You were counting?” Merry asked looking up from the book for a moment.

“I always do in the beginning.  Then things become slightly hazy and I begin to question myself.  Was that number six or number nine, I say to myself.  Those two always put me to some bother as upside down it’s one of them and right side up it’s the other, so usually I lose count at six,”  Pippin said.  “Of course, if I make it past six, then I tend to lose it at nine.”

“No, I was meaning to ask, why were you counting my ales?” Merry said, more directly.  You had to be direct with Pippin or you got such nonsense as that information about the sixes and nines.

“I always do,” Pippin repeated raising up on the sofa, seemingly wide awake now when only just moments before he had looked about ready to drift off.

“You make it a habit to count the number of ales that I have and you do this for what purpose?” Merry asked looking slightly annoyed.  “Even my mum doesn’t count my drinks.  Why would you?”

“So I can see how many I should have,” Pippin said as if this made perfect sense.

“So, you decide how many drinks you should have by counting mine?”

“I do.  I think it’s very practical of me.  It might be one of the few practical things I do.”

“How, by any stretch of the imagination, is this a matter of practicality?” Merry asked now more curious than annoyed.

“Well, normally I come to these Yule events with you, so I like for one of us to be able to find our way home again.  If I count your drinks, then I can determine if you will be able to get us home again or back to where ever we might be staying.  If you’ve had too much then I know that the task will fall to me,” Pippin smiled.  “If it’s my duty to see us home, then I try not to have more than is prudent.”

“So, with both of us visiting here at Bag End for Yule, and both of us sleeping just down the hall or being able to sleep where ever we fall, you still decided it would be necessary to have an accounting of my ales?” Merry asked, the annoyance back in his voice again.

“Oh, it’s just habit now,” Pippin said with a wave of his hand.  “I keep count because I’m used to doing so.”

“But, since you don’t seem to know the amount of drinks that I’ve had this evening, I’m guessing you didn’t do a very accurate count,” Merry pointed out with amusement.

“It’s a good system but it still has its flaws, Meriadoc.  Most systems do,” Pippin said and now *he* looked annoyed.  He folded his arms over his chest and leaned back against the sofa cushions.  “I don’t know why you brought this up to begin with.  If it doesn’t matter how many ales you’ve had, then why remark upon it?”

Merry frowned for a moment as he tried to recall.  Pippin had a way of taking you on a verbal side trip and making you lose the path.  If you weren’t careful, the point of things got lost in the muddle.  Then it hit him, as plain as the nose on his face, which some said, was very plain indeed.  “It’s this book.  I was reading this book, which I know very well because I’ve read it every Yule since I was twelve or so, but tonight, I keep finding things in the story that I don’t recall being there.  I suspect that I have either had too much ale to recall the story accurately or that I’m mixing up the words having blurred my vision with the ales,” Merry explained.

“That can happen,” Pippin said.  “What book is it?  Would I know it?”

“I think everyone does,” Merry smiled.  “It’s a special favorite this time of the year.  It’s all about change and the turning of the new year.  They read it aloud at the Ivy Bush every year during the week before Yule.”

“It takes them that long to read it?”

“It’s a large book with lots of chapters and besides, some of them are usually drinking ale while they read.  That makes the entire process go less efficiently.”

“What is the book called?”  Pippin asked looking over at Merry.

Merry held it up and revealed the cover to his younger cousin.

“The Adventures of Oblib or Over There and Back Here Again.  Oh, I know that one!  Pearl used to insist on reading that by the fire when I was very young.  She loves that book,” Pippin said.  “I liked parts of it but on the whole, I thought it was too long and there are far too many characters in it.  I didn‘t like the poems much either.”

“My grandfather read it to me when I was about twelve and I’ve loved it ever since, especially the poems,” Merry smiled at the memory.

“Maybe he read better than Pearl,” Pippin mused.  “She tends to drag things out and after each chapter, even if it is a dull chapter, she wants to discuss it until everyone in the room is well sick of it.”

“He didn’t do that,” Merry said, still lost in the memory.  “He would come into my room at bedtime with the book underneath his arm and a pocket full of sweets.  He would look at me and say very seriously, “Budge over, Merry-lad.” and I’d move over onto the side of the bed.  Then he would sit down, hand me the sweets and open the book and begin to read.”

“That’s better then,” Pippin said.  “You had sweets.  I can listen to anyone read anything if there are sweets.”

“He had a nice, gravely voice too.  I enjoyed hearing him read.  Also, he didn’t suffer fools.  If you nodded off and missed some bit of the tale, he wouldn’t tell you what you’d missed.  He’d just frown and say, “Keep up.  It spoils it if I have to go over what I’ve already read.” and he’d keep on reading from where he was.  You had to pay attention or you missed the good parts.”

“I wish he were still around and could teach Pearl that,” Pippin sighed.

“So do I,” Merry said with a small, sad, smile.  “So do I.”

“Maybe the book seems different because you’ve come to one of the parts you slept through,” Pippin suggested.

“No, because he read it to me every year and then later, I read it for myself,” Merry said.  “I may have slept through these parts of the book once or twice but I like to think that I’ve read it often enough to have caught all of it by now and this bit here, this never happened as I recall.”

“Books don’t change, Merry,” Pippin objected.  “They are always the same.  Even if you want them to change, they just won’t.”

“Why would I want the book to change?” Merry asked.

“You might, if it didn’t end well,” Sam said coming into the room and taking a seat across from Merry.  “There was this one book what old Mr. Bilbo loaned me when I was just getting on with my reading.  It was called Jack and the Giant Tomato Plant. It was about this lad who found some magic beans in his garden and he planted them and grew a giant tomato plant that reached all the way to the sky.”

“I’ve read that!”  Merry grinned.

“Did you like the ending?” Sam asked.

“I thought it was good.  The giant dies and the lad, Jack gets the gold coins.  What’s wrong with that as an ending?” Merry asked.

“They chop the tomato plant down,” Sam sighed.  

“In order to keep the giant from climbing down and killing everyone in the village,” Merry pointed out.

“Still, I would have liked it if just once, they’d found a way to kill the giant and keep that big, ole tomato plant.  Just think of all the sauces they might o’ made.  And nothing is any better than a big, ripe tomato on a summer’s day.  Such a waste,” Sam sighed.

Merry hid his grin.  Sam was such a practical fellow even when it came to reading.

“Or if they could have tamed the giant and moved up into the castle and lived with him,” Pippin suggested.  “I always wanted to live in a castle.”

Merry rolled his eyes.  “You’d get lost going from one room to the other.”

“I would not once I got used to it all.  Beside, my way, Sam gets to keep his great, big tomato plant and then everyone is happy.”

Sam shrugged.  “It would suit me fine if Pippin keeps the castle.  I just want that tomato plant.”

Merry shook his head in wonder.  “Well, I’ll tell you what I want.”

“What’s that?” Sam asked curiously.

“I want my favorite book to stay just as it was and still should be,” Merry said.  “This is all wrong.”  He held out the book and Sam took it from him.  

“I’ve read this one,” Sam said.  “And they were reading it at the Ivy Bush last week.  It’s about that adventure where everyone finds treasure and they kill a dragon and all.”

“They always kill the dragons in books,” Pippin said sadly.  “The dragons are mostly my favorite parts of the stories.

“Well, the dragon in this book was a right evil creature,” Sam said.  “I suspect they had to kill him.  He stole their treasure and he burnt a whole bunch o’ folks up while he was at it.  They couldn’t just let him get away with that, could they?”

“He might have had his reasons,” Pippin said.  “The story is told from Oblib’s point of view, not the dragon’s, so I suspect we don’t ever get the full story.  We just get Oblib’s side of things.”

“Well, maybe that version of things will end more to your liking, Pip,” Merry said pointing to the book that Sam was now reading.  

“Who is this lass?” Sam asked.  “I don’t remember her at all.”

“Token?” Merry asked.  “I didn’t remember her either but she is all over the book now.  Every time anything important happens, there she is!”

“I don’t recall her at all,” Sam frowned.  “But here she is right on this page making a speech about what’s right and fair to do and talkin Armulus into going off to rescue Oblib and his friends.  Her speech goes on for about three pages.  Seems she has a whole bunch to say on things.”

“Is she right?” Pippin asked.

“In a way.” Sam admitted.

“Who’s Armulus?” Pippin asked.

“Oh!  That’s another thing!” Merry said.  “Armulus is in the next few books but as far as I recall, he wasn’t even in this one, but there he is, listening to Token talk about what’s fair and just.”

“So, if he weren’t in this one, she’d be telling her opinions to no one?” Pippin asked.

“That’s just it,” Merry said.  “She shouldn’t be there and he shouldn’t turn up until the next book so what Sam is reading is an entirely new scene with two characters that aren’t in the book!  Now, how is that possible?”

“I think Armulus fancies her,” Sam said.  “He seems willing to disobey his kin and listen to what she wants him to do.”

“He’s not the only one,” Merry sighed.  “Kell fancies her too.  He’s mad for her.”


“Yes, and we all know that Kell’s people, the Dwarves of the Green Hills, and her folk, the Elves of Milkweed, don’t get on at all,” Merry said.  “They shouldn’t even want to speak to one another but there is an entire scene when Kell is being held captive by Armulus’ Father where Token comes to see him in his cell and they talk.  You can tell that she fancies him and he fancies her too.”

“What page is that on?” Sam asked.

Merry got up and went over and turned to the page in question.  “It starts right there.”  He pointed to the offending paragraph and Sam begin to read soundlessly.After a few minutes they could here Sam sniffling.

“This is sad,” Sam said, becoming misty-eyed.

“What is?” Pippin asked.

“Poor ole Armulus is in love with Token but his father doesn’t want him to be,” Sam sighed.  “He wants Token to stay away from her because her folk ain’t as grand as his.  Armulus is the son of a the King of Milkweed so Token is too common for him.”

“I thought you were reading about Token visiting Fell in the prison,” Pippin objected.

“I was but thanks to old Mr. Bilbo, I’m a fast reader don’t you know and I finished that bit which, if you don’t mind me sayin so, was a might impossible to get into, but this bit here with poor Armulus and his Father is just so sad,” Sam said wiping his eyes.  “I can imagine that happenin all the time in royal families.”

“You mean like Aragorn’s?” Merry asked.

“Of course,” Sam said.  “What if Aragorn had fallen in love with some serving lass at an Inn or something?  He wouldn’t have been able to marry her, would he?  She wouldn’t have been of noble birth so she’d have not been suitable for him.”

“Aragorn was lucky though,” Pippin grinned.  “Arwen was Elf royalty so it worked out.”

“It did but I don’t think her father was best pleased,” Merry said.  “After all, she was immortal and Aragorn isn’t so her father must have been less-than thrilled.”

“How could you be less-than thrilled with Strider?” Pippin objected.

“If you had a daughter and she was immortal and supposed to sail to the undying lands with the family, would you be happy if she decided not to go because she wanted to marry a mortal?” Merry asked.

“Well, when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like something I’d be too keen on,” Pippin agreed.

“Exactly!” Merry said.  “You see my point for once.”  Pippin rarely did, so this was, in Merry’s opinion, a rare moment of clarity.

“You know, this makes me a bit angry here,” Sam said, interrupting Merry‘s moment of joy.  It was obvious that he had ignored the discussion of Aragorn and Arwen’s romance and was still reading the book.

“What does?” Merry asked turning from Pippin and back to Sam.

“This part here where Armulus’ Father insults Token by letting her know that she’s not good enough for his son.”

“It’s only a story, Sam,” Merry said gently.

“Yes, but if I was in that story, I suspect I’d not be allowed to marry Armulus neither on account of me being the son of a gardener and all.  It’s insulting!”

Merry looked stunned.  “I suppose, when you put it that way, it is insulting.”

“Skip ahead,” Pippin suggested.  “That ‘s what I do.  Maybe Armulus’ father dies and they get married and live happily ever after.”

Merry was shaking his head.  “Armulus’ father shouldn’t have bothered being an ass about things.  Token is really not in love with Armulus anyway.  She’s in love with Kell.  Even if she were considered good enough for Armulus, she would still want to marry Kell.”

“That’s a poor choice.  He dies in the book,” Pippin said.  “She is in love with a character who is going to die anyway.  Maybe after he dies, she will fall in love with Armulus.  That could work out for them.  Well, it could if Armulus’ father dies.”

“I don’t care who she marries,” Merry sighed.  “She isn’t supposed to be in the book.  I want to read about Oblib and the Dwarves of the Green Hills.  I want to read about the part where they go visit Boar who turns into a bear.  I want to read about their journey to Silbury Hill to recover the gold that the dragon, Smug, stole from them when he terrorized all of their people all those years ago.  I don’t give a tinker’s damn who she marries!  She’s mucking up my favorite book!”

“Beggin your pardon, Merry, but I kind of like this new book,” Sam said.  “I like a story with a romance in it and before, this book didn’t have one.”

“And not all books need one!” Merry said.  “Some books are about adventures and treasure and dragons.  Other books are about romances.  If you want to read about a romance, then you just read another book!  I went for pages and pages and pages in that thing and didn’t read a single word about Oblib and what, may I ask, is the title of the book?”

“The Adventures of Oblib”, Pippin and Sam both said, Sam with very little enthusiasm.

“Exactly that!” Merry said.  “So, if you call a book “The Adventures of Oblib, then the story should be about what?”

“Oblib’s adventures?” Pippin asked.

“Exactly right! The book should be about Oblib but if you read that for very long you get to believing that it’s all about Armulus and Token and Fell and two or three chapters later you put the book down and you start to wonder who in thunder Oblib is!”  Merry was pacing now, a sure sign that a long tirade was coming on.  “If I want to read about the romantic adventures of Token, then this is the book for me!  If I want to read about how many times Token and her people, the very ones that don’t think she’s good enough to marry the heir to their King, come to the rescue of Oblib and his friends, then this is the book for me!  If I don’t like Boar of the Bear clan then this is a great book for me because, guess what folks?  He’s barely in the story!”

Pippin laughed.

“What’s funny?” Merry demanded.

“You just said that Boar was barely in the story and since he’s a bear, that’s kind of funny, isn’t it?  You made a pun,” Pippin pointed out.

It was Sam’s turn to hide his smile.

“That wasn’t my point!  My point is that Boar is supposed to rescue Oblib and the dwarves on several occasions.  He lets them stay at his house.  He loans them his ponies.  He feeds them.  Then, at the end of the story, he joins their battle and kills lots of the enemy with his huge bear claws!  He is a pivotal character, but now, in this book, he just gets a brief mention.  If I were reading this for the first time, I wouldn’t even care who he was.”

“Since you don’t like this book, can I borrow it?” Sam asked.  “I need to read the rest and find out if Token marries anyone at all.”

“You know she can’t marry Fell because he dies,” Merry said.

“Maybe not,” Pippin objected.  “Token wasn’t in the story before so maybe Fell lives this time around.  Maybe the dragon lives too.  Can I read it when you’ve finished, Sam?”

“Of course you can, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that dragon living if I was you,” Sam said.  “Smug gets killed just like he done in the original book.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Merry objected.

“So Smug doesn’t die?” Pippin asked hopefully.

“Oh, he dies all right,” Merry said, "but not the way he died in the original book.”

“So Bored doesn’t kill him with an arrow by hitting the one tiny, almost impossible to see spot where he doesn’t have on any armour?  I always thought the odds on that were a bit slim anyway,” Pippin said.

“He kills him with a huge arrow using a make-shift bow and resting the arrow on his son, Bergil’s shoulder.”

“He has a son?  I don’t remember that part,” Pippin looked confused.

“That’s because he didn’t have one in the original story!  He was a lone hero, a man apart, Bored the Bowman, the savior of Rivertown.  He was the most noble man among his people,” Merry said.  “In this book, he steals fish to feed the hungry and raises a family and he has to have his son’s help to kill the dragon, Smug.  His character is all watered down.”

Pippin laughed again.

“What now?”

“A watered down character from Rivertown!  They live on the water,” Pippin said as Merry glared at him.  “It’s amusing if you think about it.  Everyone who lives there is probably watered down, wouldn’t you think?”

“I don’t’ believe you want to know what I’m thinking just now,” Merry growled.

“It does make him more interesting though,” Sam said softly.

“What does?”

“Him having a family and all.  It makes him more, more, more real I guess you might say.  He has more to lose if Rivertown falls to the dragon.  He’s protecting his family when he kills Smug,” Sam said.  “You can well believe that a man would want to protect his family.”

“Does he have a big family?” Pippin asked.

“Three little ones and he’s all alone on account of his wife dying and all,” Sam said.  “Bored is raising those three children on his own in a town right next to a mountain with a dragon living in it.  The man’s got to steal fish to make a living and in the end, he’s a hero because he steps up and does what’s right.”

“I wish he had tamed the dragon and trained it and then he could fly on it in battles and-”

“That sounds like another story altogether,” Merry sighed.  “After Sam reads the book, lay it down and maybe when you read it, that will be in it.”  Merry paced the length of the room muttering.  “Training dragons!  As if that could happen.  About as likely as killing one by using your son to steady your giant arrow that the town’s folk just happen to have lying about.  That’s happening.”

Pippin had moved over and was reading over Sam’s shoulder now.

“What are you three doing in here at this hour?” Frodo asked.

“Just reading,” Pippin said without looking up from the book.

“Whatever you are reading, it must require a lot of shouting,” Frodo said tying his robe about his waist.  “I could hear Merry *reading* all the way in my room.  Are you each taking turns reading aloud without me?”

“Not exactly,” Pippin said.

“I should hope not because you know how much I enjoy it when we read aloud,” Frodo said still looking slightly hurt.  After all, he helped teach Merry to read.  It didn’t seem fair that Merry might be reading aloud in his house without inviting him to join in.  “What are you reading?”

“The Adventures of Oblib,” Pippin said.

“They just finished doing that one at the Ivy,” Frodo smiled.  “I read chapter fifteen and chapter eighteen.  We took turns and people were assigned certain chapters.  They announced who was reading each chapter so folks would know.  There was quite a crowd on my days.”

“That is *not* The Adventures of Oblib,” Merry said tightly as he plopped down into a chair.  “The New Adventures of Oblib, maybe, but not the original story at all.  I’m surprised that you would have that thing in your smial, Frodo.”

“Turn the page, Sam,” Pippin whispered.

“Try to read a might faster, Pippin,” Sam said softly.  “You’re slowing the natural flow of the story down for me.”

“I like to read it slow so I can enjoy every word,” Pippin whispered.

“I could enjoy them twice over if I was to slow down that much,’ Sam muttered.

“Besides, I have to read slow in order to keep all of the characters straight.  Why do you suppose the author named them all such similar things?  Boar of the Bear Clan and then Bored the Bowman.  They sound too much alike sometimes,” Pippin complained.

“Maybe he weren’t too creative with names.  Besides there’s a whole bunch of them characters in the book.  Must be hard naming that many imaginary folk without repeating yourself,” Sam reasoned.

“Just turn the page.  I need to see if Morris MapleShield gets anyone to toss Oblib off the wall of the castle or not,” Pippin whispered.

“At least that part is familiar!” Merry said.  “and Oblib is in that part which is a rarity for this book.”

“Now, you’re just being nasty, Meriadoc,” Pippin said shaking his head.

“What is wrong, Merry?” Frodo asked, putting a hand on Merry’s arm to calm him.

“Someone changed my favorite book, Frodo.  Surely you will understand.  You love books.  You’ll know what I mean,” Merry said.

“I will certainly try to understand if you will settle down and explain it without waking the Shire,” Frodo said.

“It was quiet in here,” Merry began and even though Frodo had trouble recalling when it had been quiet, he listened intently as Merry ran through the entire story including the ale-counting nonsense.

“So, I thought the ale had caused me to invent little twists and turns that weren’t originally in the book, but since Sam and Pippin are reading exactly what I was reading then that isn’t it at all,” Merry said.  “Books, especially well loved books, shouldn’t ever change.  They should be exactly the way they were the first time you read them, shouldn’t they?”

Smiling faintly, Frodo got up and went over to the bookshelf and pulled down a large, well-worn volume from the shelf.  He handed it to Merry.  “This is what you were looking for, Merry,” Frodo smiled.  

Merry looked down at the familiar, dark red cover with the gold lettering and smiled.  “The Adventures of Oblib or Over There and Over Here Again” by GWW Talkin.”

“That is The Adventures of Oblib,” Frodo smiled giving Merry’s curls a rare tossel.  These days since the Quest, Frodo often felt that his younger cousin was too mature for such things but just now Merry seemed to need it.

“But that book that Sam and Pippin are reading is also called The Adventures of Oblib”, Merry pointed out as he held the book Frodo had given him reverently.  

“It is, but,” Frodo paused and extended a hand to take the book from Sam.

“Don’t lose my place,” Sam said reluctantly giving the book to Frodo.

“It’s page 310, Sam,” Pippin said.  “I looked in case he closes it wrong.”

Sam seemed relieved.

“Look at the cover of this book, Merry,” Frodo said.  “Tell me what you see.”

“It says as plain as day, The Adventures of Oblib right there on the cover,” Merry said.

“And below that?” Frodo prompted.

“Over There and Back Here Again” Merry read.

“Then below that?”

“Is there a point to this?” Merry asked.

“Just humour me, Meriadoc,” Frodo said.

“Below that is it says, The new and improved story of Oblib’s Adventures as enhanced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Phillipa Boyens,”  Merry read with disgust.  “It didn’t need enhancing or improving.  Who are these people and what have they done to my book?”

“This is a new interpretation of the original.  See, right there it says, based on the works of GWW Talkin and used with permission from his heirs,” Frodo said.

“So, this isn’t The Adventures of Oblib?”

“It is in a way.  This is just another person’s view of how things should have happened.  I read in the forward that characters were put into the book so the story would appeal to a wider audience.  When GWW Talkin originally wrote the story, it had a wide following among dwarves, but it was noted that none of their wives read it and that folks who weren‘t dwarves didn‘t read it either.  These folks, Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens, they took the book and changed it in an effort to give it wider appeal.”

“I bet one of them is an Elf,” Merry said in a grumpy tone.

“I think Boyens is, but Jackson and Walsh are both dwarves,” Frodo said.  “It is one of the first collaborative efforts in literature by the elves and the dwarves.  That was rather an important thing in the world of literature.”

“If you ask me, they should never had been allowed in the same room,” Merry said showing his distaste.

Sam tapped Frodo on the shoulder.  “If you’re through showin’ Merry the difference in the books, could Pippin and I have the good one back?”

“The good one?” Merry objected as Frodo handed Sam the book.

“Everyone has different taste, Merry,” Frodo said gently.  “We need to be tolerant of the opinions of others.”

“You tolerate them,” Merry said.  “I prefer to ignore them.  This is the only version of the book that I need.”  He cradled the book in his arms like one might a child.

“Then, if everyone is happy with the book of their choice, I might try to go back to sleep,” Frodo said.

Sam and Pippin were both laughing now.

“What is so funny now?” Merry demanded.

“There’s this guy in the story who is trying to get out of fightin in the battle of fifty armies by wearin a frock,” Sam grinned.

“I think something like that might work too if you did your hair up right and had the proper make up,” Pippin said.  “It’s not that bad an idea really, if you were a coward and all.”

“Or if you had three sisters and they made you do it,” Merry said dryly.

“This guy ain’t got no sisters,” Sam said quickly, cutting off whatever reply Pippin might have made.

“It doesn’t say that,” Pippin frowned.  “How do you know?”

“I got sisters so I know he don’t have any,” Sam said.  “You know it too if you think on it.  You got sisters.  Would they let you do such a poor job of it as this Alf guy is doin?  Ole Bored the Bowman was on to him in a second.  If he’d done it right, he could have fooled Bored completely.”

“You’re right, Sam,” Pippin agreed.  “Bored was in a hurry.  He hardly glanced at Alf.  Alf could have got away with it entirely if he’d had a sister or two to advise him.”

Merry rolled his eyes.  “You mean there is a guy in that story who is dressing like a lass to get out of the battle?”

“There is,” Frodo said.  “I didn’t enjoy that character at all.”

“I think he’s funny,” Pippin grinned.  “Comic relief and all.”

“He’s not my cup of tea,” Frodo said.  “The author wastes too much time on him and the other characters suffer for it.”  He leaned in close to Merry and whispered.  “The read suffers too.”

“I can’t believe you read that book once you realized what it was,” Merry said, looking surprised.

“It was a gift,” Frodo said.  “At the time, I thought I might have to discuss it and I didn’t want to insult the giver of the gift.”

“What friend would give you a thing like that?” Merry asked.

“Gimli,” Frodo said.  “He told me that his father read it to him when he was a small child.  I was curious.  I wanted to see what dwarf children read.”

“This explains a great deal about dwarves,” Merry sighed.

“I thought so too,” Frodo agreed quietly.  “I had no idea how romantic they could be.  And of course, some people seem to like it.” He nodded his head toward Sam and Pippin who were both reading away.

Merry hugged the book that Frodo had given him and smiled.  “I’ll stick with the original.  Some things aren’t meant to be changed.”

As Merry and Frodo left the room, they heard Pippin say,

“I hate that nasty one-legged Orc.  I’m glad Morris killed him.  It would have been better if Token had killed him but that would have ruined her scene with Armulus and Fell and Armulus‘s father.”

“Let’s don’t talk much about that one, Pippin,” Frodo could hear Sam saying as he and Merry started down the hall toward the bedrooms.  “I’ll start crying if I think on that too much.”

“So will I,” Merry sighed.


The reference to the film, "How to Train Your Dragon" if you noticed it, is intentional as is the reference to a rather strange version of "Jack and The Beanstalk".  Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Phillipa Boyens had nothing to do with this story or anything in it and are mentioned only to improve upon the satire.  No dragons were actually killed during the writing of this story.

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