Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Years After and a Sea Between

Author: Dana
Nominator: Dreamflower
2006 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Post-Grey Havens - First Place

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Short Story
Rating: PG -- Reason for Rating: Rated PG for slash content.
Summary: It isn't that he's longing for the sea... (Later on in his life, Pippin wonders about the sea.)


Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 10

This story is just absolutely and positively stunning! I generally read very little slash, but the slash in this is very mild, and is overshadowed by the beautiful imagery and the gentle love. I think, even among many of this author's stories that I enjoy, it has to remain my very favorite. It is an Alternate Universe story, in which, as Merry and Pippin are nearing the end of their lives in Gondor, and Pippin finds himself thinking more and more of Frodo. He is longing to see his dear cousin, and he is missing him more than ever. He Tookishly decides that the solution is to sail West in search of Frodo, and Merry goes along with the mad idea. With the support and blessings of their friends--Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, Eowyn, Gimli and most of all Legolas--the two hobbits prepare their little boat and set sail on their greatest and riskiest Adventure. This story is written in the author's trademark lyrical and dreamlike style, its use of present-tense heightening the poetical turn of the language. It makes the reader feel as though he or she is inside a dream as well, and lends a certain immediacy to the story, as we are inside Pippin's mind. The ending is so very touching and so very right and so very perfect!

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 10

What a special story. It starts so calmly while Merry & Pippin prepare for their journey to Valinor. All goes well with bittersweet leave-takings and both hobbits feel strengthened by each other – of which I have to say it feels so gentle and so fitting: simply wonderful. But halfway the story, just when I am curious if the Valar will allow them, I am plunged into the past… or so it seems, but halfway I find myself with Pippin in a nightmare. My goodness Dana, I didn’t see that coming. The confusion of both Hobbits after they finally made it to Tol Eressëa is heart warming and I love the way how Dana tenderly touched upon Pippin’s worry of his sundering from his Diamond, wherever the beyond Arda that might have been. But oh, the ending should have come with a tissue warning: Pippin’s observation of Frodo and Sam simply gives me the shivers. This story sparkles in the quiet tone in which it is told from Pippin’s perspective. It feels as if Dana remained close to Pippin himself, which gives it a very natural feeling when reading it. Nothing feels forced, not even the unusual (and yet not) pairing it has. It comes with a well-balanced portion of hurt/comfort, which kept me on the edge of my seat all the time. What a fantastic story Dana! Well told!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

I love the tone of this piece--in the tumble of narration, punctuated with conversation, Dana gives force to the fate or decision or call it what you will that moves Pippin. The need for healing, and for an end to exile from friends gone over the sea, suffuses the story, and the love and longing of the two aged, ex-patriots is palpable. So, too, the intimate, loving relationship between Pippin and Merry--more than friends or cousins, unapologetically in love and each other's comfort after the deaths of their wives, they have the feel of people who have gone through lives that have been stretched to the very limits. Dana writes them with a certain welcome spareness that mimics the way long time lovers really don't need to say much--they know each other so well, and yet when they do speak, it's hardly trivial. But being hobbits, they're not overly somber--the two set sail for the Straight Path and Valinor with Merry still insisting Pippin's cracked at long last, and Pippin quite willing to say he has and grina about it to cover the sorrow of leaving friends behind. Legolas feels just right in this respect, and the brief appearances of Aragorn and Gimli are both satisfying, despite their brevity. Very well done, Dana, I quite enjoyed this. Hobbit-lovers ought to enjoy this alternate fate of Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, as they light out on one last adventure.

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 10

I don't quite know what to say about this story, other than you must go and read it at once. It is absolutely stunning and I had no words to say when I first reviewed it, I was that gobsmacked. This story is an AU and it begins after Merry and Pippin's retirement to Gondor, and there is some slight slash content, which I would rate at a PG-13 at most, but the story also beautifully incorporates memories of Diamond and Estella. According to Llinos, my source for all things English, it is not an unheard of situation by any means, especially among the upper classes, to have both a happy marriage and a lover, the rule being "just so the servants don't find out". For me, when it comes to slashverse, Merry and Pippin share such a great and obvious love for each other that I have no difficulty in believing that their wives were content with this situation, for how could they be jealous of such a profound love. Certainly in this story I did not disbelieve the scenario in the slightest. In this tale Pippin is drawn to the Sea, in the hopes of seeing Frodo once more. Merry supports him all the way, though the idea is mad, and with blessings and help from their friends they build a little ship and set sail for the Undying Lands, Merry at the helm. There are glimpses of Aragorn, Eowyn, Faramir, Legolas, Gimli and others, and lots of terrific detail. Whether they get there or not I will leave it up to you to find out! The story is full of love and angst and clarity and so many other emotions! The wording is just beautiful, and the plot quite believable. Well done Dana!

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 8

This is a very beautiful story, with a hint of adventure as well. After several years of retirement in Minas Tirith Pippin decides that he and Merry should attempt to follow Frodo into the West, wishing to see him once more. It is a mad idea and so of course Merry goes along with it. With the help of their friends they build a little boat and sail away. The good-byes are simple, yet with such sadness behind them, for it will be the last time these remaining friends from the Fellowship are together. That Merry and Pippin share a profound love in Dana's universe there is no doubt. They know each other so well that deep and complex emotions can be conveyed in but a few words and Dana does this very well. I find their relationship completely believable even though they loved their wives as well, in fact I find it very realistic. Their voyage is fraught with peril, and the descriptions are excellent. I loved the ending! It was exciting, and it was perfect. Dana has a lovely style of writing. She never over-writes, but manages to convey so much so concisely and with beautiful word choices.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

This story has a powerful minimalist feel to it. Pippin is grown and weary but in a sense desperate for comfort. Anyone familiar with grief will recognize themselves in this very realistic portrayal. It told just enough to get the story apart while leaving enough unsaid to hint at the confusion and off-kilter feeling I'm sure Pippin and Merry would have at the end of their lives.

Reviewed by: Elanor -- Score: 4

A breathtakingly beautiful writing style distinguishes this AU—a sweet, gentle, anguished sort of longing is the breath of this story that creates, moment by moment, a private world honeyed with love and agreeably ambiguous anguish. Remarkably lovely and dazzlingly competent—a triumph of mood and language. I don’t know this world, but the story made my heart soften and hurt as it was supposed to nonetheless. A quiet achievement of considerable merit.

Reviewed by: Garnet Took -- Score: 2

The idea of Merry and Pippin sailing a ship to try to travel West is fascinating. The truly intriguing thing about this was the unanswered question, "did they make it?"