[identity profile] baranduin.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] lories_friends
I wrote two fics for the book. Here's the first.

Fic: The Bookbinder and the Hobbit
Author: Baranduin
Rating: G
Characters: Frodo, OMC
Summary: Frodo finds something to do in Minas Tirith.
A/N: The illustration is by [livejournal.com profile] lilybaggins



The Bookbinder and the Hobbit



“What do you want, child?”

The harsh voice was not encouraging to Frodo’s ears; nor was the look of the man. He might have been one of the tattooed Haradrim except that the colors appeared to have been applied sporadically and without pattern to both clothes and skin. Not to put too fine a point on it, the man looked like a walking pen wiper.

“Your pardon. The door was open. I did not mean to intrude.” Frodo bowed and turned to go, regret tugging a little. Even without a courteous greeting from the man, Frodo felt drawn to this little stone room carved into Mindolluin’s side. There was something cozy about it that he could not quite fathom. Perhaps it was the scents of leather, parchment and fresh ink, not to mention age-old dust coating most of the room’s surfaces.

“Wait a minute.” The man stepped away from his work table, wiped his hands on his stained apron and knelt to peer intently into Frodo’s eyes. His voice gentled a little. “You’re one of the pheriannath, aren’t you?”

“Frodo Baggins at your service.”

“Parvadan at yours.”

So began a most unusual acquaintance during the unusual summer of 3019.




The archives in Minas Tirith were vast and built to last through the ages of Middle-earth. Most of the oddly-shaped rooms burrowed into Mindolluin’s rock and were connected by winding corridors and stairs that were tricky. Just when one was sure one’s current path would not lead anywhere but more stairs, one suddenly burst onto something new and wonderful, that is assuming one found rooms filled with ancient books and piles of crackling manuscripts wonderful. Frodo certainly did. He found it both restful and invigorating to wander the place, though perhaps his wandering ended for a little while once he found this particular treasure trove, though it masqueraded as a workshop.

“It reminds me of Brandy Hall,” Frodo said the day after he met Parvadan, King’s Bookbinder. He wondered if Aragorn even knew yet that he had such a person in his service.

“Brandy Hall? Wherever that is. Still can’t fathom how you found me. I thought I’d managed to keep myself well hidden.”

Frodo laughed. He suspected a kind heart beat within the crusty exterior. “I don’t know how I found you either. But I have always liked wandering around. May I watch you work?”

“Only if you lend a hand.”

Frodo clenched his fist before he had time to think, but he wasn’t quick enough.

“Ah, you’re that perian. Well, you can still help. It’s just one finger. I’m missing two.” Parvadan held up his left hand, and sure enough, the tips of two fingers were gone. “Printing press mishap.” He grunted at Frodo’s widened eyes. “Well? Are you going to stand there gawping or are you going to help? Unless of course you’ve retired from active life …”

“I have not!” Frodo flushed at that, his irritation earning him the first smile he’d seen from the wretched man.




“You want me to what?” Frodo’s mouth dropped open. He stared at the disordered stack of pages. They were stained and yellowed, crackling with age.

“Put the pages in order, my good hobbit. Very interesting word, by the way … hobbit. I think there must be a Rohirric connection, not that the horse boys would have much of a written record. Still, they have good memories, and sometimes a good memory is better than the written word if it’s been copied too many times by careless hands. Not that I’d admit to that in public.” He winked. “I’d be out of a job then, wouldn’t I?”

Parvadan was starting to remind Frodo of Butterbur in his ability to talk while working. Frodo said, breaking into Parvadan’s flow of words, “But how am I to …”

When Parvadan laughed, mischievous delight was written clearly across his face for anyone to read, even an irritated hobbit. “You don’t think I’d set you to binding and leather carving before serving an apprenticeship, do you?”

“Certainly not!” Frodo shook his head at the leaning stack. It seemed at least six feet tall, and every page was out of order. This Parvadan, or whatever he called himself–Frodo thought parva meant book and he knew what adan meant after Bilbo’s tutoring–was mad to think that anyone could create order out of such complete confusion.

“Well?” Parvadan was actually grinning. “Too big a job for you?”

“Certainly not!” Frodo repeated. Was that all he could say? “I just have no idea how I’ll ever manage in the time you’ve set for me. It’s not …”

“Whatever it’s not, you’re wasting time blustering, my little fellow, when you could be sorting.”

“Blustering? Fiddlesticks!”

But once he stopped complaining and began concentrating, Frodo soon lost himself in his task and found it soothing to mind and body. He handled the pages as gently as he could, admiring their proportions and stopping to inspect the occasional illustration. Some bore traces of colored inks, though the bright reds and greens were faded to soft washes. Every now and then a line of old gold gleamed.

“Set out well, isn’t it? Proper Gondorian bookmaking, I call it. Not quite a lost art, not in my family at least. I’m not the first Parvadan.”

Frodo bent to his task and smiled. It was good to have something useful to do. Gandalf had been right.




“Well done, Frodo.”

Many days had passed. The six feet of pages were not only sorted properly but sewn together into several volumes. Dark green leather covers now enclosed each book.

Frodo stroked one, feeling for each curving indentation where Parvadan had carved a horse’s head into the supple leather. Gold curled from the horse’s mane, but when Frodo turned the book over, mithril flashed.

“Oh! It’s the tree by the King’s fountain, isn’t it?”

“Yes, as best I could do in such a short time. The owner wanted the horse on the front but left the back to me. It seemed fitting, another way to give the books new life. Open one.”

The pages were still old and sere, but Parvadan had bound them well with strong thread. It would take many years to loosen the sheets again. Frodo thumbed through the first few pages and then spread open the volume, tracing the text’s perimeter.

“But why is it like that, with the bottom margin the largest?” he asked. “I noticed it before but never thought to ask why the margins are not equal on all sides. Was it a mistake?”

“No, merely an older way of doing things. It is rarely done thus these days when people are too hasty to wait to do the job properly. But the old ways, observing the golden section, is still the most beautiful to my mind.”

“Golden section? What is that?” He liked those words; there was something about them that made him shiver happily.

“The Numenoreans called it so, as being the most beautiful way to place words in books and therefore most encouraging to the reader’s eye. If you were to measure this page, you would find that the length of the text is equal to the width of the page, the inner margin is half the width of the outer margin, and the top margin is half the length of the bottom margin. The text lies within the golden section.”

“Is the text kept safe within those boundaries then? It seems like it should.”

Parvadan sighed. “If only it were that simple. No, the margins will not keep the words safe, just as staying at home does not keep a man free from danger. If I were able to do such a thing, I would not be a humble bookbinder, I think.”

“I am sorry. I did not mean to make you sad, especially not after you have been so kind to me.”

“Kind? I am never kind.”

“I think we shall have to disagree, having experience with such kindness. You remind me of Gandalf.”

“Mithrandir. Of course. You are his friend. I should have remembered. He is the owner of these volumes and he will be here soon to collect them.”

Frodo started to say, “Is he?” but then stopped and listened to his memory.

“Why don’t you explore the archives? It reminds me of Brandy Hall in places. And who knows? You might even find something useful to do other than hang around and be toasted day and night!”

“Indeed,” Frodo murmured.

“What?”

“Nothing, my friend.” Frodo gently closed the book. “Come, let’s look through them all together again, before we let them go. You can tell me more about the golden section.”

“And you can tell me more about this Brandy Hall of yours.”

They paged through the books, stopping occasionally to exclaim over a particularly interesting drawing, admiring their work of restoration. When Gandalf arrived, he found them laughing, their heads bent close to an open volume, and knew that his plan had succeeded.




Author’s Note: To apply the golden section principle for this story, I arranged it into four parts, where each part’s length relates to the others according to 2:3:4:6 proportions. Section 1=200 words, Section 2=300 words, Section 3=400 words, and Section 4=600 words.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canons_of_page_construction for more information on the philosophy and science of page layout.


Date: 2008-02-03 10:30 am (UTC)
ext_28878: (Default)
From: [identity profile] claudia603.livejournal.com
ah, yes! The bookbinder! :-)))) *grins*

Date: 2008-02-03 01:36 pm (UTC)
ext_16267: (commbooks)
From: [identity profile] slipperieslope.livejournal.com
Ah lovely... as a librarian I cannot express to you the surge of joy I feel when upon taking a broken beloved book into my hands to inspect the margin and find them wide enough to merit a trip to the bindery! Rebirth!

Date: 2008-02-03 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] addie71.livejournal.com
This is a lovely healing story.

Date: 2008-02-03 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elanorgardner.livejournal.com
Wonderful story!! Your bookbinder is a delightful curmudgeon and the whole discussion of the golden section made it very tempting to launch myself into the Wikipedia article and never emerge again after wandering around in equations for a while. And arranging the story to match the "canon" is just amazing. Funny how the human brain seems to yearn for that kind of symmetry.

*heaps praise on your head for all your work on this project* I know that we can never thank you enough for all you put into this project, but rest assured in those hours before dawn when lie awake and wonder if anything you do
can push back the dark, this book is a beacon to what love can build.

Date: 2008-02-03 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hanarobi.livejournal.com
I love have you have woven so many different stories into this one tale. And it all fits just beautifully. Plus, there is just the wonderful bonus of getting to see a happy, healing Frodo, loved for and cared for by the ever-wise Gandalf. Yup, there are just layers upon layers of meaning here.

Bless you.

Date: 2008-02-03 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hanarobi.livejournal.com
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I chuckled when Parvadan referred to the Rohirrim as the horse boys.

Date: 2008-02-03 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mews1945.livejournal.com
I so enjoyed this story. The tart old bookbinder is just the tonic Frodo needs, along with real work for his hands.

Date: 2008-02-06 01:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shirebound.livejournal.com
This is such a special story, forever linked with both Lorie and the love we all have with books and tales.

Date: 2008-02-07 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilybaggins.livejournal.com
*meeps* This tale really warmed me . . . I'm feeling very fluttery right now.

And am humbled that my wee drawing accompanied it... thank you.

Date: 2008-02-07 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilybaggins.livejournal.com
Oh, and I've learned a new word---gawping!! It's the perfect word to describe the process, really.

Date: 2008-02-17 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elderberrywine.livejournal.com
I can't tell you how much this tale delighted my book-loving math teacher's heart! *sighs ecstatically*

I can't help but think this might have been a far more healing place for Frodo to end up than far over the Sea. Thank you very much for this delightful story!
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