Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Breath of Winter

Author: Cuthalion
Nominator: Cuthalion
2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Featuring Pippin or Merry - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Short Story
Rating: PG-13 -- Reason for Rating: Dramatic, dangerous situations and angst
Summary: After the attack on Weathertop the memory of a dramatic childhood incident gives Merry an idea how to keep his wounded cousin warm


Reviewed by: Mechtild -- Score: 10

This story had many, many wonderful moments for me in it. The conceit is a good one: the hobbit friends, from the excellently-written POV of Merry, are presented with the frightful situation of Frodo in dire straights -- in terrible pain and very ill from the wound on Weathertop -- left by their “authority figure”, Aragorn, to do for Frodo without him. Frodo’s major presenting symptom is coldness. I loved the way you let Merry express it: [“Once more I take your hand, and once more I shy back from the coldness, flowing down from your shoulder and burning my skin like ice.”] This leads into a very well-imagined, well-suited flash-back to a time when the shoe was on the other foot (not that hobbits wear shoes – poor choice of expressions!). Frodo is a ‘tween in Buckland, and Merry and Pippin are lads, during a hard winter. Merry and Pippin go wandering off to look at the ice and snow; a storm comes and they are trapped in the weather. Everyone goes out to search for them, including Frodo. Long after the horn is blown for the searchers to come back in from the worsening storm (such a moving use for the Horn of Buckland!), Frodo finds the little hobbits. Merry has found a place for them inside a fallen, ruined oak (wise Merry – and already being helped by trees!), but Pippin, so very little (one could die from “Awww!”s to hear Pippin, so little and blithe and trusting, asking Merry if he’s brought a picnic when they reach the Jewel Tree), is on his way to frostbite. This all is vividly described (super description of the snow scenes, concerned parents, etc.), with lots of suspense, but the best is yet to come. How I loved the scene inside the oak. Frodo is simply, well, ‘wonderful’ is an understatement. If you wrote certain sorts of fic, I might feel a little alarmed to witness Frodo’s decision to strip himself and the children, to hunker with them under the sheepskins he had brought (the “good shepherd”!), snuggling them close to warm them, keeping them calm and rapt by singing them songs. [“I thought we would die”], Merry confides. [“I won’t let you die”], Frodo assures him. *SOB* The verse, [“Breath of winter, so cold and white”], was excellent in itself. Was it yours, or does it come from somewhere in Tolkien? I can’t tell, it fits so well. And so the night goes, with Frodo watching over them, tending the fire he has made, holding them close until morning comes. You end back in the Quest. The remembrance inspires Merry to return the favour to the now freezing, deathly ill Frodo: the hobbit friends strip Frodo and themselves, right down to their skivvies, snuggling close to keep him warm and living, chanting to him the song Frodo sang to them, years before, when he kept them alive through a winter's night. Again, if you wrote another sort of fic, I might read this scene as if it were written with a bit of a wink. But, as it is, I thought the scene was lovely, convincing and moving. This fic, more than many have done, shows the young hobbits in a way that thoroughly explains why they should love their older cousin so, thinking the world of him, and having complete confidence in him. Well done, Cúthalion!

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 6

This is such a moving story where the story narrated within the story is brilliantly written. The firm dosage of angst on the first pages where we have to see through Merry’s eyes how Frodo slips away after being stabbed by the Nazgul blade only gets doubled when Merry recalls being stuck in a fierce snow storm with little Pippin. The beautiful friendship captured in Cuthalion’s words, the song Frodo sang when he rescued the little hobbits only gains more on impact when we are pulled back to the present. Even though Pippin vaguely remembers the event and Sam does not, it is so moving to see how those three do anything to prevent Frodo from slipping away from them. This story is very evocatively written and keeps my eyes bound to paper from the first word to the last.

Reviewed by: Nienor Niniel -- Score: 5

I already enjoyed this story a lot when I first read it. It explores the friendship between Frodo, Merry and Pippin by retelling a moment from their youth and tying it in with a moment that could have happened on the Ring Quest. I like that the age difference between Merry and Pippin comes into play: too often are those two seen as a pair of exchangable providers of comic relief. And I also like that we get a feeling of what Frodo's relationship to his younger cousins might have been. Sam is not left out either, although he did not share the others' earlier adventure. All in all, this is an enjoyable fic which explores the friendship between the Hobbits and fits well into canon.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 4

I love this "story within a story", told from Merry's POV. During the long night, after Frodo has been stabbed at Weathertop, Merry remembers another time long ago, when Frodo saved his two young cousins from freezing to death when they were lost in the snow. This gives him the idea of how to warm his increasing chill older cousin. The story is very touching, and you can really feel the strong bond of love. I also like very much the song/poem of winter, sung to help keep spirits up, in both the past and present. Very nice story!

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 4

I like the way the past and present are twined together - and that Merry and Pippin take on the responsibility of caring for Frodo, who now needs their help. And of course Sam would join in - for Frodo. A hobbit huddle is probably the very best thing they could do for him right now - I'm sure Aragorn will be impressed when he returns. And I'm sure Merry and Pippin's mothers would love to have been able to keep them on the homeward side of the tulip bed. But good for Middle-earth that they didn't manage it!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 3

Frodo's hand, arm, and shoulder are growing increasingly cold, reminding Merry of two situations when he was a child and Pippin still little better than a toddler, when Frodo managed to reassure and save them. The final image of Merry, Pippin, and Sam all trying to warm Frodo with their own body heat is so beautiful.

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 2

I particulary liked Merry's remembered brush with Estella here - it complimented the more dramatic parts of the story nicely.

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 1

An enjoyable story within a story that highlights the relationship of the cousins.