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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

'Frodo and the Mermaid' ~ The Manip and the stories inspired by it….

Posted on 2006.12.17 at 16:20
Tags: , , , ,


Frodo in Leighton’s “The Fisherman and the Siren” ~ Detail.


In which an older Art Travesty is reworked, and the two fics inspired by it, pearlette’s Dark Waters: A Tale of Frodo and Undine and maeglian’s Frodo and the Siren, are presented.


~*~



When I first saw Frederick (Lord) Leighton’s “The Fisherman and the Siren” almost two years ago, browsing a site for 19th century Pre-Raphaelite paintings, I wanted to make a Frodo art manip from of it immediately.

The manip was made from a 19th century fantasy painting by Leighton depicting a water-maiden enchanting a beautiful young fisherman. Leighton calls her a siren, which makes me think of the Rhinemaidens, water-spirits in the forms of beautiful women whose songs lure sailors to their deaths. But, since the siren in this painting has a tail, I think she should more properly be called a mermaid.

But whether she's a siren or a mermaid, it's an evocative painting, skillfully executed, inviting its viewer into its beautifully imagined world.





The Manip:





1. The face:

~ Screencap from wagon ride to Havens, RotK:








2. The source painting:

~ “The Fisherman and the Siren”, by Lord Frederick Leighton, 1858:









The refurbished Frodo Art Travesty....









~ Frodo in “The Fisherman and the Siren” by Lord Frederick Leighton, 1858:















The Fics:


When I first made it, I posted the manip in the “Frodo’s Harem” thread at K-D, and it spawned two stories, both Harem canon. “Harem canon” describes a frankly AU premise for het fnafic in which Frodo, having sailed and now living at Bag End West on Tol Eressёa (BEWTE), is provided with loving companions in the form of lasses from the Shire, conveyed thither by the Valar, as a special boon to the Ring-bearer.

Writing recommendations for the recent “Het Challenge” at lotr_fics_rec, I re-read these two stories and loved them all over again. In fact, I thought them more exquisite than ever.

Since I don’t plan to do a great many more Frodo Art Travesties, and because I thought these stories so enchanting, I decided to refurbish my early manip and post it along with the two “Frodo and the mermaid” stories.

~*~


I really do love Leighton’s painting quite a lot.

*scrolls back up to look at it again*

At first view, I thought the mermaid was embracing the fisherman (made acquiescent in his dream-spell), in order to better gaze into his beautiful face. But then I noticed her tail. More like a serpent’s than a fish’s, she's twining it around his legs. Does she mean only to hold him closer, or does she mean to pull him down into the depths of the Sea?

Maeglian’s story, written first, provides one interpretation, telling how Frodo came to meet this creature of Ulmo and what transpired between them. Legend-like and steeped in the received tradition of mermaid fairy tales, I read this fic as though I am listening to an apocryphal oral tale told to a darkened room full of Westmarch folk on a winter’s night, far into the Fourth Age. The hour is late and the children are all abed. The mood mellows as wine slides down gullets and the fire crackles and snaps. “Tell us the one about Frodo and the Sea-lass!” says one, settling back against his companion. “Yes! Yes!" the others agree, "Frodo and the mermaid!" Stools and settles are drawn up closer, cups refilled, and the story is told.

Pearl’s tale, inspired by Maeglian’s story, is quite different in tone -- more mysterious, more frankly erotic, and more mythic. Ever the courteous well-bred gentlehobbit, Frodo brings along a tray of fine wine and dainties for their mutual refreshment down by the lily pond. But under the surface of the narrative runs a stream of darkness, dark like the water they swim in. It is a good sort of darkness, though, not evil – the darkness of Middle-earth under the stars before Morgoth and his minions filled it with terror. I told Pearl that her story draws me into its depths as strongly as her mermaid pulls Frodo down under the water.


In both these stories, in spite of the AU premise, Frodo remains very recognizable as the hobbit Tolkien wrote, and Undine the mermaid is a character that could have come straight from the professor’s tales of the Elder days when Arda was young. But both authors have given their own distinctive takes on the mermaid story, too. For me, their tales are vivid and rich with apt images, as well as deeply moving. They are stories to cherish.



~*~




Maeglian's Tale....


Frodo and the Siren

Author: Maeglian ( maeglian )
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Frodo and Undine, a mermaid
Word count: 2,500

Note: Harem Canon -- a frankly AU premise in which Frodo, having sailed and now living at Bag End West on Tol Eressёa (BEWTE), is provided with loving companions in the form of lasses from the Shire, conveyed thither by the Valar, as a special boon to the Ring-bearer.





Frodo had learned to love the Sea. The great expanse of water gave him a sense of comforting eternity. It had always been there, washing the shores, -protecting them – or drowning them, like Numenor of old. Yet the Sea remained a constant, though the lands might perish; - the oceans were always shifting, yet ultimately the same. He enjoyed the ever-changing colors. Now stormy-dark, now sullenly grey, now sparkling in every aspect of green and turquoise with white dots of foam, like daisies adorning a green pasture. The Sea could sparkle like fire under the bright summer sun, or display an unbroken calm, deep blue of quiet autumn evenings.

Frodo would inhale the salty smells deeply, fresh air that spoke of immeasurable distances and vast open spaces. He looked to the waves, sometimes ebbing and flowing pleasantly, sometimes roaring high in anger, throwing foam over any fool-hardy spectator standing too near their immense power. He looked to the skies, to the flaming red of sunsets over the Sea, or the huge towers of billowing white clouds rolling in from afar, or occasionally to the mean, grey, driving rain. He listened to the sounds, the din and thunder of storm-fuelled surf crashing to shore, the quiet lapping of small waves kissing the cliffs gently in calm weather.

Yes, the Brandybuck in him enjoyed the changeability and drama, the incessant movement and hint of danger and adventure. The Baggins in him appreciated the constancy, the comfort and stability inherent in the Sea’s unyielding strength. And something that was uniquely Frodo immersed himself in the majestic and overwhelming beauty, and was inspired by the living, breathing joys and wonder that the Sea provided his every sense with. The great Sea made him feel alive, and alert, and aware of the world.

~~~~


On hot summer days, Frodo would sometimes wander to the cliffs at the furthest shore of TE, where he would rest, contemplating the ocean, letting the sun caress his body and the cool waves splash around his feet. It was the perfect place and position for such days. The open spaces of sky and Sea provided him with ample entertainment as well as space and time for reverie and reflection, while the blazing heat of the sun was comfortably mitigated by the cool sea and the light breezes tousling his curls.

None of the lasses loved the Sea nearly as much as Frodo did. In truth, like most hobbits, they never managed to overcome their feeling of discomfort and unease brought on by the view of vast expanses of Sea, stretching unbroken to the horizon, with no land in sight. They’d learned to enjoy bathing in the BEWTE pond, of course, and even in the rivers, especially since Frodo was so creative in teaching them the delightful possibilities that such pastimes afforded them all. But when he went to the Sea, he often went the last stretch alone. The lasses would stay on the field beyond the shore’s cliffs, or on the gentle slopes at the other side of the bay, where they remained comfortable on firm ground and dry land, resting in the shades of ancient trees under the midday sun.

~~~~


One summer with uncommonly many sunny days often saw Frodo wandering to the seashore cliff he favored. He’d wear nothing much more than a pair of short trousers, and bring nothing except a towel and perhaps an apple and a book, or fishing gear. Often he’d encounter elves along his path, but by the cliffs at the shore he was left in peace, and felt himself to be alone. He’d enjoy the solitude, and listen to the sound of the waves. Sometimes in the afternoons he thought he heard singing mingled in with the sound of waves, - a haunting, piercingly beautiful voice, rising and falling like the surf. More than once the enchantment of it would make him stay past the return time he’d originally planned, though he knew he’d worry his Harem in being late.

One day in late summer, probably the last day with true warmth from the sun, he found his favorite place. Sitting back against the cliff, he splashed his wander-tired feet in the cool water, and smiled at the benign Sea. The sun blazing overhead made him tired. The now so familiar and haunting call rose far out at sea, lulling him with its distant melancholy. He fell asleep.

~~~~


When he awoke, the sun was dipping towards the horizon, and a cool evening breeze was stretching its airy tendrils inland from the Sea. But that was not what had disturbed his sleep. Someone or something had his legs in a firm grip! He sat up with a start, looking down in surprise at one of the most beautiful female forms he had ever seen. She was about his size, smaller than any elf – she had long blond tresses adorned with bands of gleaming pearls and red seaweed flowers, - and otherwise she wore not a stitch. Her soft white skin gleamed, borrowing a very flattering rosy flush from the setting sun.

Meeting his eyes boldly, she did not wait for him to react to her presence, but quickly wriggled her way up along his body, gripping his waist, then his shoulders, and finally throwing her arms firmly around his neck. Something long and sinuous wound itself tightly around his legs. Looking over her shoulder he caught a glimpse of gleaming fish scales and fins – a prolonged fish tail.

She pressed her lithe upper body against his, and clung to his neck, which she kissed tenderly and repeatedly, her lips soft against his skin. Then she started whispering to him, at first not in any words that he could understand. Nevertheless they created in him a longing to be with her, to follow her. Her voice had a distinct and haunting quality to it that he recognized; – hers was the voice he’d heard from the Sea.

He didn’t try to fight her off. The enchantment she worked was so strong that he leaned back towards the cliff, closing his eyes, focusing his mind on the lure of her sweet voice. Her intensity increasing, she was now speaking words that he could understand – perhaps only because her singing sounds were talking to his heart.

“I love you, most beautiful one. Come with me, I’ll make you happy.” She wiggled more fully onto his lap, causing urgent sensations that made her invitation even more alluring. “I love you, bright one. Come with me. Come with me. I will make you happy.”

Somewhere from deep within Frodo rose the certain knowledge that she had to be a Siren. He had heard dire warnings of ever listening to the Sirens’ call, though he’d always imagined that to be fairy tales without substance. That was stupid, he knew – in his life he’d already seen too many other fairy tales rise from the earth to walk and talk and breathe among elves and men and hobbits.

~~~~


Any other man or hobbit would have been lost. But Frodo’s strength of will was legendary. He had long resisted a stronger call and a more evil temptation. Regaining control of his senses he broke free of her spell, opening his eyes.

She met his gaze beseechingly. He saw real love in her eyes; - he’d seen it often enough in the eyes of his harem lasses to be a judge of such true emotion.

“Please, come with me”, she whispered in his own language.

He lifted his hands and laid them gently on her shoulders, pushing her away from himself a little.

“I cannot come with you. I cannot live where you live. I would drown. I would die, and you know it.”

“But I love you! I have watched you many times from the sea, and sung to you. I know I cannot live without you!” she said plaintively.

“If I came with you, there would soon be nothing left of the life and breath and spirit that is me – nothing left for you to love. I cannot come with you. It is impossible. You know that in your heart,” he sighed, seeing her clear eyes fill with bright tears.

“I am sorry that you’ve come to love me. I cannot follow you.”

She held on to him for a little while, saying nothing, battling her tears. Then she leaned forward to place a tender kiss on his lips. “Tell me your name?” she murmured.

He gave it, and she repeated it reverently.

“Frodo…… Frodo, I love you”.

Her tail uncurling, she suddenly broke free of his gentle grip, diving off the cliff and into the sea in one fluid motion. At once she disappeared from sight into the depths, and she did not resurface – although as he turned to leave for home, he imagined seeing a brief glimpse of something moving, far out at Sea. But it could have been a dolphin, or a sea otter, or any other of the Lord Ulmo’s many creatures.

He returned home to the smial, deep in thought, and he did not tell the lasses of the Siren. He pitied her, and respected her grief and her love, and so kept silent.

~~~~


One week later, on the first blustering day of autumn, a woman came walking over the fields towards Bag End West. Though she looked to be a woman grown, she was no taller than a hobbit; – but unlike hobbits she had perfectly shaped human feet. She walked slowly and placed her feet carefully, as if she wasn’t used to walking, or as if each step pained her. She wore no clothes, and tried to cover herself as best she might with her long flowing hair.

She happened on a couple of the Harem lasses just outside the Bag End West gardens, and bashfully looked down at her feet as she whispered one single word to them.

“Frodo….”

There was little doubt of her intentions or the emotions driving her. The lasses realized that at once, although they were more than puzzled at her appearance. Never had they seen a woman come completely unclothed to find her place in the Harem, and everyone who had come before had been hobbits. Yet they signaled for her to follow, and lead her through the garden, and into the smial, and to the door of the study where Frodo was sitting with a book.

He looked up as they knocked, and rose with an amazed exclamation as he saw the woman they were bringing.

“You! Is it even possible?”

She did not respond, but stepped towards him with a smile of joy and relief on her beautiful face. As he took her hand and brought her to the couch, the Harem lasses discreetly shut the door and left them alone.

“How is this possible?” Frodo asked, astounded. “You were a Siren, a mermaid – how is it that you can walk?”

Holding on to his hand, she lifted it to her mouth and kissed it before answering.

“I pleaded with the Lord Ulmo – I told him my love for you was more strong and more endless than the Sea itself. He took pity on me, and granted me this gift: A pair of human feet, a complete body – and one day and one night to enjoy them. After that time I’ll revert to my Siren form again.

“But can you survive at all – a Siren away from the Sea?” he asked, anxiously.

“No, I cannot.” She shook her head slightly. “A Siren needs to live submerged in water, or she dies. But I count that but little price to pay, now that I am here with you and can enjoy your company this day and this night. For you will not leave me alone, will you?” she asked, suddenly frightened.

“No,” he answered solemnly. “No, I will keep you close, and stay with you, and love you.”

With that he gathered her close and moved with her on the couch.

“Tell me your name?”

“Undine,” she replied simply, responding to his movements and molding her body to his.

“Undine. It is a beautiful name, fitting its bearer. I am honored that you are here with me, Undine.”

Silently he vowed to himself that her love for him would *not* mean her death. So fair, so desperate; – he *would* find a way to save her.

He kissed her then, letting actions rather than words speak of his feelings.

~~~~


The lasses saw no more of him or his unusual visitor that evening, and noted that none of them left the study all through the night.

But in the dim morning light they saw Frodo stepping from the study, carrying the small form of his visitor wrapped in a blanket. He walked slowly and without a word through the smial, out through the door, and along the misty garden paths. He opened the low wooden gate in the hedge enclosing the lily pond, and disappeared from view.

They tip-toed after him, mystified by his odd behavior. The pond was cold and uninviting in this weather, and there were no comforts to be had there.

After a brief time he returned - alone. They stared at him, surprised. Coming out of deep thought he noticed them now for the first time, and beckoned for them to join him. He turned back to look towards the pond.

“I think you all should come meet Undine, who has just joined us,” he said.

~~~~


Undine made her home in the lily pond, joining Frodo’s Harem in her own way, staying as close as she could to the one that she loved. She made friends with the other lasses, and would talk with them when they’d come visit her, telling them of her life and her people in the Sea. She dearly missed her home, the freedom of the deep, and the vast spaces, but she had made her choice based on love, and would not have chosen otherwise if given the chance.

During daytime, and through the coldest part of winter, she’d rest at the bottom of the deepest part of the pond, hidden in the cold dark depths under the water lily pads. But in summer evenings she would surface to linger at the pond’s edge, her long fish tail resting in the water. She would sing to Frodo and the Harem then, sad songs of longing and remembrance, or joyful songs of love – all of them so piercingly beautiful that they’d sit still, as if enchanted.

Sometimes Frodo would remain behind when the lasses left to walk back to the smial for the night. He’d stay then with Undine all night. Those nights soon achieved renown all over Tol Eressëa , - for in the darkest night hours Siren song would soar joyfully over the island, more beautiful than that of the famous elven minstrels, more piercingly sweet than any dream of Valinor. Elves and hobbit lasses alike took to wandering the gardens, listening to the Siren call, - yet keeping at respectful distance from the pond.

But Frodo never spoke of those nights or of the beautiful song, and neither did Undine. The secret of their nights together the two of them kept forever to themselves.





~*~





Pearl's Tale....


Dark Water: A Tale of Frodo and Undine

Author: pearlette (aka Nienna, aka Diamond of Long Cleeve)
Rating: R
Pairing: Frodo and Undine, a mermaid
Word count: 2,200

Note: Harem Canon -- a frankly AU premise in which Frodo, having sailed and now living at Bag End West on Tol Eressёa (BEWTE), is provided with loving companions in the form of lasses from the Shire, conveyed thither by the Valar, as a special boon to the Ring-bearer.

Acknowledgement by author: Maeglian is my muse for this story. I was so inspired by her lovely vignette 'The Siren and the Sea' (posted in her Harem vignettes 2004-2005 in the PG-13 section) that Undine swam into my imagination and into this sequel.
Author's Disclaimer: Frodo is not mine but Professor Tolkien's. Undine is not mine either. I make no profit except pleasure from posting this story on the internet.
Author's Note: Several perceptive readers have commented, most tactfully, on the difficulties of a hobbit-male and a mermaid making love. Perhaps Undine's tail is more akin to that of a dolphin's than a fish (mermaids being mammals, after all), in which case the problem is solved (for those who know about dolphin sex - grin). But, really, I intended this story to be more about metaphor than reality. So make of Frodo's and Undine's wild erotic water-dance what you will, and enjoy. :)



~*~




She is waiting for him. In the lily pond, under the shadows, under the weeping willows and the silver birches. He can feel her presence, like the sharp tang of salt in the still night air. A glittering presence, sleek as a fish, hiding in her dark pool … waiting for him … calling to him.

He always comes to her at dusk, that strange hour when light and darkness mingle, when the world seems suspended between the dying day and the night to be born. The ‘witching hour’, some Hobbiton folk used to call it. But Bilbo and Frodo preferred not to talk about hobgoblins or orcs during the magical time of twilight. They would remember instead the radiance of the Elves they had met in the woods of the Shire. Bilbo would hand Frodo a glass of wine (Frodo being then old enough to drink wine with his uncle) and they would go outside Bag End and gaze together at the first star of evening, Eärendil. And Bilbo would teach Frodo as many Elvish names for the stars as he could remember.

Now Bilbo lies deeply asleep in the house of the Elves in Avallónë and Frodo’s lasses are making Bag End West comfortable with soft lights and chatter: some making pies in the kitchen, some reading in the library, some lighting scented candles in all the bedrooms.

Frodo steps out from the round door of the elvish smial. A slight wind from the West stirs the trees. It is nearly dark: there is a pale glimmer on the western horizon, the very last embers of the day, and the sky is a deep glow, not quite black, not quite blue. The lilac bush beside the window and the gloriously elegant mauve wisteria (an exquisite import from the East, brought by some Sindarin Elves to the Enchanted Isle when they made the long journey home to the West) which grows over the porch release their heady fragrances into the night.

The Moon has not risen yet. Tilion is three quarters through his cycle. It will not be a full moon for another week. All the same, Frodo feels compelled to go to the lily pond this night.

He has a careful balancing act to accomplish, as he carries a small tray with two glasses of wine in one hand and a silver lantern in the other. The soft flame is welcome as he picks his way carefully down the flagstoned path, past the shrubbery, past the yavannamíré grove, down the terraces towards the lily pond. The flagstones are deliciously cold under his feet.

The twilight deepens and he is glad of his lantern light. The scent of water assails his senses: yes, water has a scent, the scent of leaves and rain and earth. You can feel the water in the air - feel the trees drinking it into their roots - hear the faint ripples lapping against the banks …

He senses her before he sees her. A faint figure, waiting in the pool. Her face is a pale sheen, her blonde locks the merest hint of silver.

She glides close as he reaches the waters’ edge. A pale arm reaches out, touches his feet, very softly.

Iorhael.

Her voice caresses him.

‘Good evening, my Undine.’ Frodo’s voice is measured but a thrill goes through him at the touch of her long fingers, restlessly stroking his fur-covered toes. (His feet, it has to be said, fascinate her). He sets the lantern and the tray carefully down on the path. (As a prevention against fireflies drowning in this finest of wines, the glasses are covered by little lace doilies thoughtfully provided by the ever-resourceful lasses of the Harem.)

You have brought me gifts?

Her voice is rich and amused, but he can hear the hunger in it. Not a hunger for his gifts, as he well knows. Those are merely courtesies. She hungers for him.

‘Vintage Second Age wine, my lady of the sea. Purchased in the market at Avallónë last week … this kind of wine is as rare as mithril …it comes with the compliments of my lasses of Bag End West.’

His voice sounds very loud in the flower-drugged night air. Undine makes no sign that she has heard, but she smiles anyway, in the darkness. She floats closer now, gazing up at him, resting her arms on the bank, her tresses laid out like flaxen seaweed on the darkly shining water.

You are all so kind to me. Come now into the pool.

‘Yes, dearling,’ Frodo murmurs. He sits down on the bank. The Elves have fashioned some steps, cunningly cut into the side of the bank, allowing a bather to enter the pond safely. Frodo lowers himself gingerly down into the water. The cold shock of it makes him gasp. But Undine is there instantly, twining herself round him, and the heat from her body flows into his.

It is astonishing, how such warm blood flows in the veins of this cold pale sea-creature. But Undine is not cold. She is soft and curvaceous in his arms, a warm and sinuous creature of light: her cheeks flushed with heat against his, her arms around his neck, her breasts billowing against his chest … he can feel her nipples, rosebuds he longs to taste, and his body stirs in response. Her hair streams down her back, across the water … the silver-blonde tendrils fall softly across Frodo’s shoulders.

I can warm you up, my lord.

‘I know,’ he whispers.

Frodo.

He closes his eyes. ‘Yes … name me. Call me. I’m yours.’

She kisses his neck. Her lips are as soft as cherries. Desire flares up in him then and he cups her face in his hands and lets his mouth take hers. Gliding, gliding deeply into the water … as they kiss, Undine is urging him gently further in, without the safety of the bank behind him. She twines her tail tightly around his legs and with a muscular push drags him suddenly underwater, baptising him in a sudden shock, keeping him anchored by her strong and powerful tail … releasing him just as quickly so that he pushes upwards, breaks the surface, gasping.

Her arms are still clasped round his neck. She has played this game with him many times. No, not a game. A ritual. As if she is marking him as hers. She would never drown him or hurt him, he knows that. He is gasping, with pleasure and excitement and not a little tension - she would never hurt him but she remains something of an unknown quantity, with more than a hint of danger or unpredictability. His harem back at Bag End West is like a garden of well-tended fruit: in that delightful orchard he can sample the wholesome fare of the Shire; apples and peaches and plums and pears and strawberries. But Undine is something else entirely. A mysterious creature of legend, a gift from the Sundering Seas.

Iorhael.

Her voice breaks over him in a wave of dark desire. She pulls away, grasping his arms, her strange eyes glittering, travelling all over his body. She is drinking in the sight of him … black curls plastered wetly over his forehead, rivulets streaming down his torso, his tailored linen shirt with the open-necked frilled collar plastered against his form … her eyes run up and down the length of him, and she seems well satisfied with the sight. She smiles at him in the darkness and he cannot look away. Then she swims close again, pressing herself against him once more. She pauses. Arwen‘s jewel glitters sharply on Frodo‘s breast. Undine touches it wonderingly, with reverence. She leans forward and kisses the gem, and then her lips graze his chest and her hand slips downward to find his shape underneath the surface of the water; her long fingers gently find him and cup, hold, caress. He groans and stiffens into her touch. His desire is growing unbearable but he never wants it to end.

Iorhael!

Her voice is a command and Frodo succumbs to its spell, gives himself up to the desire washing over him. Her hands are busy beneath the water, untying laces, pushing his breeches downwards. Frodo kicks free of them. Silly things. He should have disrobed completely before entering the pond. Next time he will do so. He should know better by now!

And yet it is thrilling to be at her mercy like this. She is humming low in her throat, enticing him, weaving a siren-song that pulls them together, twining fiercely in the water, gliding and turning, creating a dance all their own. He devours her mouth in a bruising kiss and she bends backwards, tipping her face up, allowing him access to her cool white throat. Hungrily he presses kisses there, his hands cupping and moulding her perfect breasts all the while.

Undine’s ululation of triumph swells out across the water. Once more she seizes him with her tail, twists him round, ducks him under, rolls him upwards so that they emerge, gasping, still clasped together, showering liquid sparks, in this wild water-dance under the stars.

They will make love like this for hours.

Undine, being a mermaid (which naturally imposes limitations in certain delicate respects), is inventive in the arts of love when it comes to pleasuring a hobbit-male.

Her songs will carry far into the night … and Frodo himself will cry out, again and again, in an ecstasy that borders on pain in its intensity.

And then as velvet midnight passes and the spring night waits for dawn, Undine’s song will mellow into a high sweet ballad on the very edge of sound. All the hidden creatures of the forest will compose themselves to listen. And far away, in the fair cities of Kortirion and Avallónë, the Elves will catch the brilliant threads of her song, woven into the stillness of the night.

Frodo, exhausted by love-making, leans back against the mossy banks of the pool, Undine languorous and sated beside him, running her fingers gently and possessively over his smooth bare chest. His arm is tightly wound around her. He reaches behind him for the wine glasses … hands a cup of wine to her and takes his own … together they drink to love. The glass chinks, sharp as crystal. The little flame in Frodo’s lantern flings out a small circle of light that is enough to bathe their pale and thoughtful faces. Undine’s silver-gold head rests on his shoulder: her wild eyes scan the night. Sea-grey, sea-blue, sea-green … the colour of her eyes changes according to the light. At night her eyes are dark, the pupils grown enormous, like a cat’s … He looks down at her and kisses her brow. She looks up at him, her dark eyes huge and full of shadows. Shadows he will happily drown in, again and again.

Her song murmurs in his ear like a brook. She will sing to him now of many sweet and forgotten things - of a hobbit-mother singing to her restless small son at night, the song carrying Frodo far away over the waters to a time long ago when he lay in his cot and his mother sang to him and told him stories about the Moon and the Stars. Then Undine’s song will change and she will sing to him of her ancient home in the vast waters of Ulmo, of the dolphins and whales and merfolk who follow the ships of the Teleri who-knows- where. She will sing to him of a fountain sparkling in the sun one summer morning in Minas Tirith, when Queen Arwen gave Frodo her jewel for comfort and her own place on a white ship. Undine will also sing to him of rivers overflowing their banks … of spring torrents in full spate … of waterfalls kinder than Rauros, plunging downwards to drench him and cleanse him and heal him through and through.

All the waters of this wide world are held within Undine’s song.

Each time he enters her domain of dark waters, she draws him further into her mysteries … so that he emerges, purified, to face the splendours of a new day.



~*~




Mechtild’s album of Frodo Art Travesties may be found here. Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them after they are opened.


~ Mechtild

Comments:


elgato_gamgins at 2006-12-18 00:26 (UTC) (Link)
I love the fic and the manip would lovely.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-18 14:03 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for commenting, Elgato. It was a pleasure to make the post. :)
Gentle Hobbit
gentlehobbit at 2006-12-18 01:02 (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Those stories are mesmerizing, and I can easily see how they were inspired by your photomanip.

I want to hear that piercingly beautiful song.

Wow.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-18 14:06 (UTC) (Link)
I would love to hear it, too, Gentlehobbit. I often have wondered if the singing of elves was supposed to be sort of like the singing of sirens for mortals, since mortal characters in Tolkien's world would become so enrapt in it -- almost wrapped up inside it -- while listening to it.
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-18 14:09 (UTC) (Link)
Leighton's sailor might almost be Frodo. His beauty is nearly as piercing as Elijah's.

You can see, then, why I felt it was a "natural" for a manip. It was icing on the cake (A LOT of icing on the cake) that it should inspire two magical tales of Frodo. It wasn't until Igraine wrote "Psyche" that I got to read another tale with that sort of magical darkness, sensuousness, and chords that strike deep.
Maeglian
maeglian at 2006-12-18 20:56 (UTC) (Link)
What a lovely swim down memory brook! ;-) Your manip is gorgeous and no wonder it inspired writing haremites.


(Thank you for making this entry. I can't pretend it didn't warm my heart. It's the first time anything I've ever written has gotten a rec or any kind of mention outside of the Harem thread & related site. )
pearlette
pearlette at 2006-12-18 22:51 (UTC) (Link)
Maeg, I loved all your Harem vignettes but the one you wrote about Undine was a huge favourite of mine. :)

I've only just remembered how obsessed I was with mermaids when I was a little girl. Other little girls like fairies. Well, I liked mermaids! I thought they were wonderful: beautiful and unusual, with their fishy tails. I used to draw pictures of mermaids (with shell bras, LOL) and write stories about them. :)

Then I got to write my own fabulous grown-up mermaid, with an incredible erotic, yet spiritual, power. Undine existed before we both wrote our stories, of course, but yours was the inspiration for mine! :)
pearlette
pearlette at 2006-12-18 23:01 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, many thanks for this. :)

I adore that manip. It may just be my favourite manip ever ... Frodo's face is so gorgeous, I LOVE that shot of him and Bilbo in the wagon, and that mermaid is so beautiful. I love the way she is so tightly twined round him ... as you say, that could be an ominous sign, but in the manip, I choose to see it in a much more positive light! :)

I appreciate your insight, Mechtild, about my story expressing 'a good darkness'. Yes, I guess I wanted Undine to represent that good darkness. We see that good darkness, for example, when the Elves awake under the stars by the shores of Cuivenen ... a scene that soars with a piercing, remote sense of holiness and mystery.

And, thinking of another story:

"Safe?" says Mrs Beaver to the Pevensies. "Who said anything about safe? But he's good, I tell you."

OK, Lewis might have been a bit put out by my borrowing that quality from Aslan for a sexy mermaid hellbent on seducing Frodo. :p Unlike Lewis's lion, Undine is not meant to be divine! Heavens, no: she's a spirit of nature, not a goddess. But in the imaginative worlds of Lewis and Tolkien, a sense of holiness does not rule out the existence of danger. And while I love Tolkien's characters for their virtuousness, there's nothing bland or boring about their goodness ... we see them really struggling to make right choices.

Actually, the story in which Lewis really does get this across is his final work of fiction, and possibly his finest: Till We Have Faces.

Going back to my story ... I think that in another context my Undine could - and would - be deadly. She has the power to be deadly, certainly, and she knows it. But she chooses, as a positive act of virtue, NOT to act on it. She will not drag Frodo to the depths to drown him, to make him hers forever. She is on Eressea, in the heart of the Blessed Isle, and she is aware of the presence of Ulmo, a mighty power himself but also a servant of Eru, in the waters.

She acts as an agent of healing in my story, not of destruction.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-19 15:34 (UTC) (Link)
Your Undine does represent the good darkness to me. As you better expressed it,

We see that good darkness, for example, when the Elves awake under the stars by the shores of Cuivenen ... a scene that soars with a piercing, remote sense of holiness and mystery.

That's just what I was thinking of. It's funny you should bring up Lewis' Aslan, who combines the notion of good with power, even danger. I think you bring this sense to your fic: that there is a good that is also powerful, even dangerous.

In LotR, there's a passage in which Gandalf tells Merry and Pippin that, yes, Treebeard is dangerous, but also good. Gandalf points out to the cousins that Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are dangerous, too, yet they are good -- and that Gandalf himself is good, but more dangerous than even Sauron. It's the same notion as Lewis', as expressed by Tolkien. We are used to thinking of the good as harmless, but Tolkien and Lewis' faith was in a power for good that wis, well, a power. Your mermaid encounter captures some of this.

I want to repeat some things I just wrote to you in a letter about your story and its relationship, because I don't want to forget what I had thought.

....[In the fic] you certainly gave Frodo "a good time". In fact, I think you gave him the time of his life. But you gave him so much more, and us with him. Re-reading it, I realised the story could not possibly have conveyed what it did if Undine were a normal woman or hobbit lass -- or even an elf.

Frodo could have had a "good time", yes, but the magic of the story -- and the magic of the encounter for Frodo in the story -- is there because the 'good time' is had with this person who is so completely strange. She is desirable, enchanting, but very much "other". Frodo (and the reader)can't assume anything about her. To enter into a tryst with her is to enter a new world. To be with her is like walking into the dark -- a good dark. But still, Frodo has to approach her; enter into intimacy with her, completely on trust.

I think that's part of the spiritual dynamic underlying your story. Likewise, people enter into relationship with a God who really is tremendously mysterious, even dangerous, and it's like entering into relationship with someone unseen, in the black of night, completely on trust, with a gut feeling or hope that we will touch our heart's desire in this commingling.

Is that what inspires our trusting? I am not sure. It's similar in the Cupid and Psyche myth when, before she knows her consort is the god of love, she goes into a pitch-black chamber to be the lover of she-knows-not-what. Her mind, her rational, conscious self may be filled with trepidation, but her deeper self says, "go for it." Same with Frodo entering the pool with Undine.

Again, thanks for a beautiful story, Pearl, with a lot of depth that stays with me.



Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-12-19 13:25 (UTC) (Link)
An enchanting manip and two of the most bewitchingly lovely stories, I have ever read at the Harem.

((((Thank you ladies))))

Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-19 15:36 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Este, I am so glad you saw this! Don't the stories look beautiful posted with the manip? I am so happy to see them presented this way.

Whiteling
whiteling at 2006-12-19 16:11 (UTC) (Link)
Oh! What a magnificent entry! The refurbished manip is simply gorgeous, Mechtild. So very tender and yet slightly threatening... no wonder the imagination of the Haremites was stirred, or better shaken.
It's great that you would post maeglian's and pearlette's fics with it - when I finally arrived properly at the Harem, the high times of the fics was over already. So I actually don't know neither of them. I'm looking forward to the days after X-mas when I will have time to read. :-)
Thank you!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-19 16:46 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for commenting, Whiteling. (Speaking of refurbished, wait until you see what I've done with Caravaggio's "Bacchus"!!!)

I think you will love the fics, Whiteling. Harem stories are very diverse, really: witty, even laugh-out-loud funny; tender and lyrical; darkly reflective, or almost sticky-sweet sentimental. Some are frankly in the *erotica* genre (see Ariel's "Fingertips").

The two posted here are gems of the "tale" type. And you know how tales can be: deceptively simple, yet they stick with you long after you have read them.
frodosweetstuff
frodosweetstuff at 2006-12-27 14:24 (UTC) (Link)
I love the manip - I cannot believe you took his face from that screencap! Well done! :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-27 14:32 (UTC) (Link)
Why, thank you, Frodosweetstuff! That's a beautiful screencap. I used it for the "Death of Chatterton" manip, too. Don't miss the Frodo as Bacchus I redid, which was posted after the "Frodo and the Mermaid". I think you will appreciate it.
julchen11
julchen11 at 2006-12-30 00:33 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Lady! I missed this post! The printer is running, I'll come back to this, promised. There's a lot to read (and translate), though the pictures speak to me, stunning.
I love this kind of nightwork.
Thank you, sweetie! See you later ! You'll see me anyway, you can't escape :-)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-30 02:06 (UTC) (Link)
It's an extremely magical painting, isn't it? And Frodo's transposition into the painting only increases its beauty and magic.
julchen11
julchen11 at 2006-12-31 02:39 (UTC) (Link)
Oh sweetie, I sat there for hours and I enjoyed this wonderful post a lot!
The original painting is so beautiful and the aura of it is pure magic.
Your manip is simply gorgeous (the old AND the new one). The screencap you used is perfectly chosen, I could look at this manip for ages. It left me breathless and it made me dream.

“We see that good darkness, for example, when the Elves awake under the stars by the shores of Cuivenen ... a scene that soars with a piercing, remote sense of holiness and mystery.”

Thank you for the links for the Harem fics, they are soooo beautiful, very tender and wonderful written. That lines above are simply what I thought.

I think I’ll return to this wonderful place more often.
Thank you so much, lovey. It’s always pure joy to visit your journal.
*hugs you very tight*
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-12-31 02:49 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Julchen, it's a pleasure to have such a visitor!

I'm glad, too, you resonated to the notion of a "good dark", and how Frodo might respond positively to it. Maybe whatever he experienced in the Undying Lands (even if it wasn't having a mysterious sea creature fall in love with him and take him for strange, intoxicating night-revels!) helped him reclaim night and the dark as a good thing.

Maybe he could come to see the dark places inside himself as good, too -- places of mysterious refreshment, like the waters Undine pulled him down into -- and not just dark with taint or rot.
taerie
taerie at 2007-01-02 04:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you Mechtild! This is lovely. I love mermaids and I love Frodo enjoying himself. Hopefully she won't drown him!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-01-02 04:26 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no. She won't drown him. *grin* You'll see.
anwise_gamgee
anwise_gamgee at 2007-01-06 10:17 (UTC) (Link)
this is simply beautiful, as always! Well done! :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-01-06 16:56 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Anwise. It's not much in the way of art from my side of the equation, but it makes the most of art that's already out there.
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