As Close As

Author: Dana

Nominator: Dreamflower

2008 Award Category: Genres: Romance - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Married hobbits, het

Summary: After their arranged marriage, Merry and Estella get to know one another all over again.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 10

This is an unusual story for Dana, one that does not fit perfectly into her accustomed continuity. It was written as a request for a fic exchange, and so needed to fulfil the person’s wishes for a story about an arranged marriage between Merry and Estella. I think that she did that brilliantly, in her very subtle way. Dana’s writing is all about nuances--much is implied, and there is always a lot of subtext. This story is an excellent example of that. Few could manage to make a story about a honeymoon stay within the required rating of PG-13. There is a sweetness to the relationship of Merry and Estella in this story. We see Estella’s point-of-view as she and Merry embark upon a journey of discovery. It seems clear that they love one another--it was just that they did not expect to be married quite so soon and in quite this way. Nevertheless, and in spite of initial awkwardness, they find themselves getting on well. One of the things I love about this are all the hints, hints about Frodo especially, without ever mentioning him by name. Estella is a very distinct personality in this story. She is quiet and observant and determined. I love the way she begins to piece together the things about Merry that she hasn’t known before, and the ways in which his journey changed him. There are a lot of beautiful passages, for Dana’s prose is, as always both sharp and gentle, but I think the following is one of my favorite parts: [“There was something shining about Merry, and she hadn't ever noticed it before – but now she found it difficult that she would see him as anything else than this shining bright lad, her Merry, brilliant as the Sun.”] A lovely and lyrical story.

Reviewed by: PipMer  ✧  Score: 6

This was written by Dana in response to my request during a Yule fic exchange. She met my criteria exactly; noone else could have done it better! She perfectly interwove the feelings of tentativeness and shyness with attraction and love. The subtle nuances of emotion that Estella is feeling is very well done. I especially liked her handling of the situation between Merry and Pippin; I am actually fond of the slash pairing of Merry/Pippin when it is done properly, and I've liked Dana's other writings pertaining to this pairing. I also appreciated how she wove in some references to Frodo, and how Merry is affected by his absence. Estella is portrayed as very warm and sensitive to Merry's feelings in this regard. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale that was written especially for me.... and thank you once again, a year later! :)

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

The response to a challenge, this tale fills it marvelously as we realize there was a history of mutual attraction between Merry and Estella that allowed them to come to terms with this arranged marriage. But as I read it I found some of the Prophet's words running through my mind: "Drink from one another's cup, but not from the same cup." "Let there be spaces between your togetherness." Gibran would approve of this story, I think. As far as LOTR goes, I tend to be hopelessly heterosexual, and not even your writing can coax me into accepting slash between Merry and Pippin, I fear. The implied acceptance of this state within Estella I therefore find perhaps disturbing, yet somehow endearing as well. But I so love when she realizes just how deeply Frodo's leaving has left her beloved bereft. Thank you for that scene--it moved me more than I can say.

Reviewed by: viv  ✧  Score: 5

A nice twist on the whole newlywed honeymoon theme. I like how they don't rail on how the decision to marry was made for them rather than by them. Fighting it seems a cliche in fic, and in novels for that matter. How refreshing it is to see characters who make the best with what they're given. I think it says a lot for them. And this was a nice simile: [gentle as a wing]. As much as I enjoy good R-rated het romps, this particular fade-to-black was very satisfying. Finally, I'm impressed with how subtly you paint the relationship among the hobbit Walkers: neither slashy nor completely platonic, but somehow deeper than either. Even more brilliant is that Estella *gets it*.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 4

Like the author herself, I can't see Hobbits having to cope with arranged marriages, but I thought the issued was handled intelligently. Yes, there is uncertainty and awkwardness - conveyed very well - but there is also a basic trust and willingness to make it *work* that I find very appealing and convincing. This is a story of two people who basically like each other, but have to find a way to this new, much more intimate relationship. It was very heart-warming to see how that awkwardness slowly loosens up during their honeymoon.