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Conspiracy - Pipwise Brandygin

Author: Pipwise Brandygin

Title: Conspiracy

Rating: G

Theme: Lion & Lamb

Elements: Bold/Shy

Author's Notes: These elements were a little hard for me as there are not any circumstances under which I can imagine my hobbit muse (Pippin) being shy. So I tried another hobbit instead.

Summary: From unassuming gardener to reluctant conspirator and keeper of great secrets, Sam wise tries to deal with Merry and Pippin’s demands

Word Count: 2,148


The conspirators chose the Elm Tree Inn on the East Road as a meeting place because it was little frequented by their acquaintances and hidden from view along the road itself by the elm trees it was named after. All three had arrived separately just before dusk and met in one of the pub’s many nooks and crannies, hidden from curious eyes.

The initial light conversation quickly gave way to more serious talk.

“I’ve been doing a lot o’thinking, Mr Merry and Master Pippin,” Sam began, his eyes lowered as he played with the cuff on his right sleeve nervously. “An’ I’ve decided it ain’t proper to be keeping secrets from Mr. Frodo, even if they’re supposed to be for his own good. All this meeting in the dark out here makes me feel uneasy, like I’m doing somethin’ wrong by him.”

“The only reason we’re keeping secrets from him is for his own good, Sam,” Merry said quickly. “We’re doing it for him, even though he doesn’t know it yet. There is no disloyalty in letting us know what he’s thinking and doing if it means we can help him.”

Sam sighed. He was stuck firmly in the middle of this predicament and knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get himself out of it. Merry was a smart lad and used to getting his own way. He certainly wasn’t used to saying “no” to anyone like him, at least not since he had come of age.

The Significant Event had happened two days ago and Sam’s mind had been a whirl ever since. Now he was torn between getting everything off his chest and keeping his mouth firmly closed. Forever.

He looked suspiciously at his mug of ale and wondered if it was likely to be a friend to him if he carried on drinking it. The remoteness of the Elm Tree Inn wasn’t the only thing that had originally influenced Sam to suggest it as a meeting point, but on hindsight it was probably an accident waiting to happen that he had chosen a pub whose house ale had a reputation for being a tongue-loosener following several incidents that had passed into local lore and were now engraved in the wall above the bar.  He pushed the mug away.

Frodo had trusted him – Samwise Gamgee, of all hobbits – with a matter of the utmost importance, a matter too big even for the Shire.

It sounded like something that would make Ted Sandyman fall of his chair laughing if he found out about it, but the thought alone made Sam sit up a little straighter. Ted hadn’t believed any of the things Sam had said the other day, about Elves and walking trees, and here Sam was now, entrusted with wizards’ business and looking likely to meet an Elf himself before too long. It awed him that a simple hobbit like him had got mixed up in this, but there was something else, something that made him feel that he was ready for it.

Well, Sam thought to himself. It’s time to make a decision, and you’d better make the right one because Mr. Frodo himself will have you turned into a spotted toad if you don’t.

He looked up from one to the other and saw the earnestness in their eyes as they waited for him to speak. If Sam were a different hobbit, he would have enjoyed this moment, an about-turn of normal social conventions, but the only thing he cared about was the secret he had been entrusted with that meant so much to his master and Gandalf.

He took a deep breath, and ploughed ahead. “Well, it has to do with what I overhead between Mr. Gandalf and Mr. Frodo two days ago. It’s all come to a head, as it were. And it’s a terrible burden, sirs. Mr. Frodo would be angrier with me for gettin’ you mixed up in this than he would be for not keeping his secret.”

As he spoke, Merry looked about quickly to see if anyone was sitting nearby, whilst Pippin leaned in more closely, fear and curiosity clear in his expression. Sam felt a pang of compassion, familiar enough with the lad to know that, for all his talk, he was only going to make Pippin more determined to know everything.

“Does he know that you heard this, Sam?” Merry asked intently.

Sam also shuddered at the memory. “He knows all right. They knew I was outside clipping the grass while they were talking and I suppose that I was listening so hard I forgot to keep clipping. In the end, Gandalf appeared at the window, an’ I’ve never seen his face like that before, sirs. I reckon not even you have, Pippin. His beard was all bristling and his face was red … and his eyes, it was like they were looking right inside me to see what I was thinking. It’s because of this secret, you see. Gandalf’s involved somehow, right in the heart of it, and it’s not something for idle talk.”

Pippin seemed impressed. “What happened then?”

“He pulled me through the window, shears n’ all,” Sam blushed. “Both him and Mr. Frodo were frightful angry, wanting to know if I’d been eavesdropping. Mr. Frodo said he’d personally see to it that Gandalf turns me into a toad if I had and if I dared tell any of it, so I told them I’d only heard just snatches of things that didn’t rightly make sense.” He blushed again; the thought of telling bold-faced lies to a wizard who could see right through him, and his own dear master at that, was making him suffer even after two days.

“My, that was marvellous acting, Sam!” Pippin said, excitement in his voice. “I know how shy you are of old Gandalf, but you really kept it together under pressure.”

“Well it wasn’t all acting, Master Pippin,” Sam replied. “His words may not have the same effect on you, but that’s the first time he’s ever dragged me through a window. Dead serious, he was.” He drained his mug with one gulp.

“It is true, though,” Pippin mused, looking at Merry. “Gandalf has changed. He’s not nearly as cheerful as he was, and he always seems to be in a hurry, or thinking about something else. He must be very worried. Frodo must too; I can’t imagine him saying such things to poor Sam.”

“This doesn’t change anything, though,” Merry put in after a moment’s silence. “You can’t abandon the Conspiracy because they swore you to secrecy. Now that they know you know, it will be easier to gather information.”

“Well that’s all the good that’s come of this, from where I’m standing,” Sam replied, adding, “And this is the last thing I’m tellin’ you, so help me.” His eyes wandered across to the window, fully expecting to see Gandalf standing there, his eyes bright with fury even in the growing darkness. “If you hadn’t set me to eavesdropping, Mr. Frodo wouldn’t be taking me to see the Elves.”

Pippin started and Merry’s mouth opened in an exclamation he quickly suppressed, but before he could say anything he met Pippin’s gaze and Sam saw something fierce pass between them, something, Sam supposed, that did not need words.

When Merry turned back to Sam, his eyes were grave. “Sam, I know you think your part in this is over, but it’s not. It’s time you told us everything. You know Frodo can’t do this alone and I’m glad you’re going with him. But it’s not enough.” He lowered his voice to barely a murmur. “I know what this is about. If you know as much as I do, then you know that Frodo needs us.”

“He means the Shire to us and we mean to follow him wherever he has to go, no matter what happens,” Pippin added.

Sam found himself nodding as he looked from Merry to Pippin and back again. They were deadly serious too, he realised; just like Gandalf. And if Merry wasn’t just bluffing, then he might even know something of what he was getting himself into.

“Well then, here is it is,” he sighed, and paused, fervently hoping that his words to follow wouldn’t lead them all down a path to regret. “If Mr. Frodo finds about this, I hope you’ll speak well o’ me.”

He proceeded to tell them exactly what he had heard about the Ring two days ago about Bag End. As he spoke, the expressions on his companions’ faces darkened, but they did not look away or say a word. Then, he recounted the terrible moment that Gandalf revealed that the name of the Shire had been spoken in the Land of Mordor, the words sending shivers through him even as he spoke. At this, Merry could be silent no longer and he slammed down his mug and hissed, “Gollum! That treacherous monster.”

Pippin looked appalled. “I thought he was nothing but a harmless scoundrel from a story.”

“No harmless scoundrel, Pip. He would have killed Bilbo, and now he’s going to bring all Mordor right to our…” Merry subsided, looking shamefaced at his outburst. He gestured at Sam to carry on.

Sam swallowed. “Well, this is the part you were waiting for, Mr. Merry. The part where Mr. Frodo decided it’s time to leave the Shire.”

He told them the rest, as both of his companions’ eyes filled with tears at the news of the selfless decision their cousin had taken alone.

“Thank you, Sam,” Merry said as he finished. “I know you have risked a lot telling us this and we are not going to let you down any more than we would let Frodo down. We’ll let Freddy know what he needs to, but no-one else. And that’s why you have to stay in the conspiracy, or this will all be for nothing.”

“Well, Mr. Merry, he won’t sell his hole and move out without telling you so I’ll mind it’ll be easier now, to see what he’s up to, even if I’m not relaying messages.” Sam was reluctant to say it straight out, but the fact of the matter was that Pippin and Merry knew everything they needed to know to start getting ready for what was coming, and they didn’t need him anymore.

Merry studied him for a long moment and Sam felt uncomfortable under his gaze, wondering if the heir of Buckland could do anything outlandish that would make him obey.  In the end Merry simply offered him a small smile, and patted his hand across the table.

“You’ve done a marvellous job, Sam. Thank you. And I understand why you want to call it a day. For one thing, you’ve got Gandalf breathing down your neck, and for another, you already know Frodo will be all right because you’ll be going with him. But --”

“It’s not just that, Mr. Merry,” Sam jumped in, and blushed. “And forgive me for interrupting. But you’re his family; no matter how angry you make him, he’ll come round in the end. Imagine how shaming it would be if I was caught tellin’ his personal business. Mr. Frodo would never trust me again. I don’t want him leavin’ me behind.” He stopped and blinked back tears at the thought of it, unable to say what was most important: that he wanted to protect Frodo too, no matter how silly it sounded coming from a gardener.

Unexpectedly, Pippin was the one to answer. “He’s right, Merry. After everything Sam’s done he deserves a dignified retirement.  Now it’s our turn to be more vigilant. We’ll just have to be in Hobbiton more often.”

Merry relaxed a little, and smiled at them both. “All right, Pippin. That sounds like a solution that will involve lots of tramping, ale, and pipeweed, as only you could think up. Sam, I hope you won’t think badly of me, but I wouldn’t be so hard on you if Frodo wasn't so dear to my heart. And, of course, if you do find out anything that is not sworn to Gandalf’s level of secrecy, I hope you’ll tell us.” He smiled again as Sam nodded and smiled back, and the tense atmosphere began to ease.

As the barman came to the table to refill their empty pints, the group fell silent. It seemed clearer than ever to Sam that his companions were going to part of this new chapter with Frodo and it eased his heart to know that the burden would be shared between more hobbits, especially these special friends of Frodo, who would watch out for him and keep him close to the Shire in spirit.

He was surprised to find that he felt less anxious now, despite the lingering threat of discovery. Just keep trusting your instincts, Samwise, even if it don’t come natural; he thought to himself. No matter what Gandalf does to you.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
rawr_balrog
Mar. 21st, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Hey, would you mind putting this behind a cut?

If you don't know how: When you're typing/editing the entry, make sure you are using the "HTML" option, not "Rich Text" (which has the text formatting buttons at the top and usually types in Times New Roman/any font other than Courier). In the beginning of the text you want to hide (ie, the body of your fic), type <lj-cut text="whatever you want it to say"> ... then the body of your post, and close the cut with </lj cut>.

If you do know how, sorry for being obnoxious! lol
azur_infinie
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! I thought I had, but didn't have any way of checking until after it was published :/ Sorry!
shirebound
Mar. 21st, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
I told them I’d only heard just snatches of things that didn’t rightly make sense.

I love thinking that Sam was only pretending not to understand the conversation he 'overheard'. This is a wonderful scene.

You're writing again, yay! :)
azur_infinie
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
Thanks Shirebound! It's been fun to read this part of FOTR again. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)
lindahoyland
Mar. 22nd, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
I loved this behind the scenes glimpse of the Hobbits making their plans.
azur_infinie
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading!
blslarner
Mar. 22nd, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
I don't doubt that the image of himself as toad in a garden filled with snakes is haunting Sam's mind right now, and that he is both anxious and relieved now that he's told the last of it to his co-conspirators. And Merry would coax even more out of him?

Love Pippin's input particularly. Yay, our beloved Peregrin! Wise before his time!
azur_infinie
Mar. 22nd, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
Yes, Merry's self-confessed obsession with finding out what was going on with Frodo probably blinded him a bit here to poor Sam's feelings.

Yay, our beloved Peregrin! Wise before his time!
:D I don't think he is ever quite as invested in the details of things as Merry is, and that gives him a clearer sense of what needs doing this time around.

Thank you for reading this!
(Deleted comment)
azur_infinie
Mar. 23rd, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
Yes, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I think it's fascinating to think how much was going on behind the scenes with Sam in those first couple of chapters of FOTR and he obviously had a lot of hard choices to make.
foxrafer
Mar. 22nd, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
Such a great look at these three friends as they conspired together to help Frodo. Really nice use of the prompts.
azur_infinie
Mar. 23rd, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm so glad the prompts made sense :)
thunderatiger
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
What a layered and nuanced look at Samwise! I love this slightly different perspective of him when Gandalf pulls him through the window. Being in on the Conspriacy, he clearly knew far more than he let on, but seeing it fleshed out like this in fic form is marvelous. You've done a superb job! This definitely feels like the gardener who made it through Mordor and back while still keeping intact his hobbit sensibilities. And Merry and Pippin are in fine form, too. Merry is wonderfully forceful, and Pippin's suggestion of greater vigilance is perfectly timed. Excellent stuff, all the way around!
azur_infinie
Mar. 24th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am so glad you enjoyed the story!
dreamflower02
Mar. 24th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
This is just wonderful, dear! I am so glad you decided to join with us in this challenge!

I LOVE Conspiracy stories, and this is a very plausible look at how Sam's revelations came about! I love Merry's obsession with finding out as much as he can, and Pippin's assurances that they can manage without Sam now, if they need to!
azur_infinie
Mar. 24th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dreamflower! This is the first new fic I've written in years and I really enjoyed it, so thank YOU for the inspiration!

I'm glad you enjoyed this and that the characterisations seemed good. If you have a second to recommend some conspiracy fics, I would love to read them!
dreamflower02
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Well, I am very glad to see you writing hobbits again! BTW, you seem to have locked this story, so if you could unlock it?

Here's a link to my own Conspiracy story: http://www.lotrgfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=147

It's one of my earliest fics, so it's an oldie. I'll keep my eye out for some others I can link you to as well! I'm pretty sure I remember a couple by GamgeeFest, though I don't recall the titles offhand.
azur_infinie
Mar. 28th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Thanks Dreamflower! I'll make sure to read this. I had the entry locked as "members" and have changed it to "public."
alphien
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this quite a bit. The way you filled in the gaps worked very well; it was believable and not too far off the mark, as far as the storyline Tolkien gave readers. The characterisation of Samwise and the other Hobbits was very nice, too. You stayed true to the character-type many readers have come to love over the years, but didn't fall into the category of dull/repetitive portrayals.

Wonderful piece.
azur_infinie
Mar. 28th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading and leaving feedback - I really appreciate it!
mrowe
Mar. 27th, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
I loved this view of the Conspiracy; meetings like this must have taken place, and the tensions between the Conspirators are well-portrayed.
azur_infinie
Mar. 28th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and thank you for commenting!
paranoidangel42
Mar. 27th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
This is a great look at Sam and how he is and why he does the things he does. And how the three of them conspire to help Frodo.
azur_infinie
Mar. 28th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading and commenting!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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