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Dreamflower's Mathoms II  by Dreamflower

(This was written for Febobe, who won a ficlet from me by stumping me on a challenge.)

AT THE COTTONS: 13 RETHE S.R. 1420

Poor Mr. Frodo. He looks dreadful--Mam sits by him, putting cool cloths on his brow. My dad hovers over, looking ever so worried. “I’m thinking mayhap we ought to send for Sam.”

I’m thinking the same thing. My Sam would want to know that Mr. Frodo was so ill. But Sam’s all the way to the Woody End, getting some saplings as he’s wanting to plant, to take the place of some of the trees them Ruffians cut down. It would take ever so long to find him and bring him back.

“No!” Mr. Frodo’s voice is stronger than I’d thought it could be, though it has a horrid rasp to it. He reaches up, and takes my dad’s arm. “Don’t--don’t say anything to Sam. Promise me you won’t worry him over this!”

I step back a bit, wondering what my dad will say. But it hurts my heart to think what Sam would think, if he thought we were keeping aught from him if it were to do with Mr. Frodo’s well-being. Whatever my dad says, I’m making no such promises. I look at Mam, and she shakes her head, and I know she agrees with me.

But Dad, he says “Be at ease, Mr. Frodo. I won’t say nothing you don’t want me to.” Still, Dad looks awful worried. I’m thinking he’d know that Sam would have hard words for him, for making such promise.

Mr. Frodo gives a moan, and a bit of a gasp. “Water?”

I move to the ewer on the dressing table, and pour out a cup, and take it over to Mam. She helps him sit up just a bit, and he winces, but she holds the cup for him, and he takes a few sips. Just the effort of drinking makes him break out in a sweat. He falls back heavily against his pillows, and as he closes his eyes, there is a deep furrow of pain on his brow. I feel tears come to my own eyes, just thinking how much he must be hurting.

Dad bites his lower lip, and twists his cap in his hands, and looks at Mam. “It didn’t feel right to make that promise, but I couldn’t deny him, could I, Lily?”

“Don’t worry, Tom,” Mam says. “You did what you thought right. We’ll let you know if he gets much worse.” She pursed her lips, and said softly, so as not to let Mr. Frodo hear. “He gets much worse, we’ll send for a healer, whether he likes it or no.”

Dad looks troubled at that as well. It goes hard with him to think he’d be going against Mr. Frodo’s wishes, but he sees the sense in it. He goes out, giving me a pat on the shoulder as he passes me by.

Mam stood up. “I think he’ll sleep a bit, Rosie-lass. You watch by him, and call me if need be. I’m going to see if I can’t fix him somewhat that he can eat when he wakes up.”

I sit down alongside him, in the chair Mam left. He’s so white. He’d always been fair--fairer than most hobbits, but this is more than that. He’s almost like glass. I can see the blue veins beneath the skin of his hands, which pick restlessly at the covers, twitching even in his sleep. I see his right hand, and my eyes go straight to the place where his finger’s no more. Sam had told me what happened to it, swore me to secrecy, for he’d said there’d be no secrets betwixt the two of us. He’d wept to tell of what that evil creature had done to our Mr. Frodo.

But Mr. Frodo, he didn’t like anyone to notice about his finger, so we all pretended not to.

I remembered something else my Sam had told me. I looked at that jewel around Mr. Frodo’s neck--it just peeked out from his nightshirt. He’d told me the new Queen, who was an Elf, had given that to Mr. Frodo for his comfort.

Feeling a bit embarrassed to be so bold, even though he’s asleep and won’t know, I take his hand and put it up to that jewel. He clutches at it, and it seems the pain on his face eases a bit. I stare: the jewel--it must have some sort of Elf-magic in it--it starts a-shining, glowing from behind his hand and between his fingers, like he’s holding a star in his hand. His face eases some more, and his other hand stops its picking, and he seems to be rightly asleep finally. I pull up the blankets a bit, and sit back to watch.

And that jewel, it just kept shining, just like him.

After a while, he stirs and wakens, just a little flutter of his eyelashes, and then he looks at me, kind of confused, as if he don’t know me at first. But that passes in only a minute, and he says “Rose?” His voice is still all raspy.

I don’t wait for him to ask, but I get up and pour him another cup of water, and I’m helping him sip at it when Mam comes in with a tray.

“It’s not a lot, Mr. Frodo,” she says, “just a bit of chicken broth, and some toast with strawberry preserves, and some chamomile tea with honey.”

She puts the tray down, and gets a flannel, and she wipes his face and hands like he’s a faunt. I’m thinking this must be awful embarrassing for him, to be cared for like this, for his pale face turns red for just an instant. But he looks at Mam, and whispers “Thank you, Mistress Lily.”

She shakes her head. “We’re all right fond of you here, Mr. Frodo, and ever so glad to have you back. We’ll do what we can for you. Will you try and eat a bit for me?”

I get up, and let Mam have the chair by his bed, and she slowly coaxes some supper into him. He doesn’t seem hungry at first, but he eats anyway--about half the broth, a couple of bites of the toast and jam, and he took all the tea, just a few sips at a time. “You--you are so kind, Mistress Lily,” he whispers.

He lays back again, and gives a shudder. Like as not he’s chilled. Mam seems to think so, too. She motions for me to bring over an extra blanket.

“You go and get yourself some supper, Rose, and rest a bit. I’ll fetch you to watch him again when I get too tired.”

I nod, realizing for the first time that I’m hungry. “Mam,” I say, “if--if he looks to be having bad dreams or somewhat, put his hand to that jewel around his neck--it seems to help him.”

Her eyebrows rise up in a question. I blush. “Sam told me.”

“Ah.”

I take my supper by myself in the kitchen--everyone else had finished and gone out. Then I go and lay down upon my bed, atop the coverlet, still dressed. I might be needed after all.

But Mam never does call for me, and it’s morning when I wake up, to the Sun in my window. I get up, and go to the room where Mr. Frodo’s staying. Mam’s awake, and she smiles at me.

“ ‘Morning, Rose. I do believe he’s feeling somewhat better.”

He does look better. His face is no longer all tight with pain, and there’s just a touch of color in it.

“Do you want me to stay with him?”

She shakes her head, says “Would you see to breakfast this morning, lass? And if you would, bring him a bit after all are done. You can sit with him then.”

So I go to the kitchen, and make breakfast. It’s just Dad and Tom and Nibs. Jolly and Nick went with Sam. Dad cuts the bread for toast while Tom lays the table, and I fry up some sausages and taters and eggs. When they are finished eating, I cut some more bread, and boil an egg, and make some tea. Then I make up a tray, and take it to Mr. Frodo’s room.

He’s sitting up, now, and talking to Mam, and he looks ever so much better than he did the day before. Mam stands up, and says “I’ll leave Rose to get some breakfast into you, Mr. Frodo. I’m glad you are feeling better.”

He nods, and then catches at her arm. “You will remember your promise?”

She doesn’t look at him, but she says “Don’t you worry, Mr. Frodo,” and she pats his hand.

I place the tray for him, and sit down beside him, and watch as he eats most everything. It’s not much, but at least he didn’t leave anything but a few crusts of the bread.

He keeps giving me a look, like he wants to say something. Finally, he says, “I’m glad Sam wasn’t here to be worried over this. He’s worried over me enough already.”

I don’t say anything. I haven’t made any promises yet, and I don’t mean to. ‘Tisn’t right to keep such things from folk as love you.

I take Mr. Frodo’s tray. “Why don’t you try and get some more rest, Mr. Frodo?”

“Thank you, Rose, I think I will.” He looks at me. “Sam’s a very lucky hobbit.”

I blush, and go out. Luck’s got naught to do with it. There’s not a steadier nor more loyal hobbit in the Shire than my Sam.

I’m the lucky one.

But I can’t help wishing Mr. Frodo had the luck *he* deserves.





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