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The Honorary Hobbit
Cast of Characters: Aragorn, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam and appearances from the rest of the Fellowship.
These characters and Middle Earth are the sole property of the Tolkien Estate. I have no rights, no money—nada, zip… yada, yada, yada….
Aragorn’s eyes slowly crept open. He lay perfectly still, relying on his long time experience as a Ranger to assess where he was. It was raining but he was warm, snuggly ensconced in layers of blankets and covered in something that caught the majority of the rain. He was damp but the rain currently feel on a slicker that lay over him, with a tap, tap, tap drumming. His head pounded, and his right leg was in agony. He could hear quiet conversation— chatter between hobbits, he realized. There was a comfortable weight on his chest and he canted his head to look down, seeing only dark chestnut curls. Frodo, he thought. Aragorn wondered if the Ringbearer were injured. He studied the way Frodo laid across his chest but could not discern whether he was well or not. The hobbit slept, his breathes coming in the slow, regular inhalations of one asleep. He thought Frodo might be feverish as Aragorn felt unusually warm with the hobbit lying on his chest. He shifted, trying to stretch out muscles that had tightened from lying too long in the same position. He couldn’t help the cry that escaped his lips. Instantly, he was surrounded by a band of concerned hobbits. Frodo’s head looked into his face, large worried blue eyes staring up at him. The blankets and slicker had been pulled back and Pippin’s green eyes hovered over his face.
“Get back, Pip. He doesn’t need to see your pinched up face so close as to give him nightmares,” Merry said.
“I’ll have you know that I am considered quite becoming for a Took,” Pippin snorted.
“Well, that’s a frightening thought,” Merry said.
“Hust you two,” Frodo scolded. “How do you feel, Aragorn?”
“You took a branch in the head, Strider. You jes lie still and we’ll take care of you, sir,” Sam said. Frodo moved carefully from Aragorn’s chest up to his head and looked down at him. He laid Aragorn’s hand down on the man’s chest as he shifted off of the Ranger to the right side.
“My right leg…”
“I am afraid it is badly broken, Aragorn, we set it as best we could,” Frodo said softly.
“Let me see,” Aragorn said, trying to sit up. Four pairs of hands gently pushed him back down as his world whirled and spun around him. He hurriedly rolled to the left and emptied his stomach, narrowly missing Sam’s lap. He was instantly on his side, surrounded by hobbits stroking his forehead, whispering reassurances, and wiping his face and mouth. Sam had jumped back just in time. He pulled his water bag from behind him and gave Aragorn a drink.
“Thank you, Sam.” Slowly they lowered him back onto his back. Aragorn could think of no better care givers that a band of hobbits with their nurturing nature. He hadn’t had a chance to get to know them as well as he wished, yet their love and concern for his well-being was as if he were an honorary hobbit. The empathy and caring that their race automatically dispensed towards anything injured was so unlike the race of men who held themselves apart from others, suspicious and untrusting.
“Let that be a lesson to you, Aragorn. You need to lie still and let us take care of you,” Frodo said as if from a distance.
“Where are we?” Aragorn whispered his eyes closed.
“Not far from where we had luncheon,” Frodo answered.
“Frodo, are you all right? Did you get hurt?” Aragorn asked softly. There was a long pause and Aragorn slowly opened his eyes. Three hobbits were staring at an obstinate Frodo. The Ringbearer gave them a warning glare and looked down at Aragorn with a quavering smile. Aragorn’s eyebrows moved upward, letting Frodo know that he had seen the silent conversation.
Aragorn smirked up at the Ringbearer, “I hadn’t put much thought into it, I admit. I shall try to plan accordingly should there be a next time.” The Ranger’s smile slowly faded as he studied Frodo’s face and posture. He could see that the hobbit was favoring his left arm, mostly because Frodo held the arm close to his chest and perfectly still. ‘I may be injured but I am far from blind, Frodo Baggins’ he thought. His energy exhausted, his eyes slowly closed.
Frodo sighed and looked up at three pairs of incriminating eyes. “Merry, is the travois ready?” he asked.
“Yes Frodo, I was just about to wake you when Aragorn cried out.” They all rose, Frodo slower than the others. Merry frowned, “Perhaps we should build a second travois,” he said evenly.
Frodo gave him a warning glare as Sam and Pippin stepped back a pace, trying to distance themselves from the battle that was sure to follow.
“How are we to get Strider onto the travois, Frodo? AND how are we supposed to get him up to the caves? It’s obvious to anyone you’re not at full health, and I don’t believe three of us can carry Aragorn on flat land, let alone uphill and over boulders to the caves.”
Frodo gave Merry a withering look as he squared his shoulders and ground his teeth together. There was a bright flush on his cheeks as he whipped around, facing Merry. “I think you go too far, Meriadoc Brandybuck,” he bit out. “I am not so injured that I cannot give you a healthy shiner, cousin, so mind your mouth.” Frodo’s stance and appearance was of pure rage and Merry recognized the cousin who had frequently been forced to be his childhood disciplinarian. He realized he had gone too far, but was equally as stubborn as Frodo Baggins.
“You are injured, Frodo. You will not be able to help us in this. Perhaps you should go up to the caves and build a fire so that the cave will be warm when we get there,” Merry pressed.
Sam’s eyes widened and he grabbed Pippin’s arm, taking a few more steps back and dragging the open mouthed Took with him.
If it had been possible Sam was sure he would have seen steam coming from Mr. Frodo’s ears. He knew that his Master was normally a calm, reserved and diplomatic hobbit, but Frodo had a large stubborn streak and, when pushed, could be a formidable enemy. Although his temperament was usually genial it only served to mask the steel of Frodo’s mettle. He had a horrid temper, seldom seen, but once triggered, a frightening thing to behold. Everyone in Hobbiton knew that the normally placid hobbit could become a force to be reckoned with if pushed too far. Sam was absolutely sure that Merry had just pushed Frodo too far.
“I am not helpless, Meriadoc. My left arm pains me, yes, but I can carry my share of Aragorn’s litter quite easily on my right shoulder, which is what we will all be doing since it will make the litter stronger and more stable than simply using two hands. I am fine, cousin, but you…you soon will not be if you continue to bait me,” Frodo said in a low threatening voice.
“I appreciate that, Merry.” Sam didn’t think it really sounded much like Mr. Frodo *preciated* anything at that moment. His Master’s fists flexed open and closed, his voice was barely civil and his body was taut as a bowstring. “However, *I* am not the one you should be concerned for. Aragorn is burning with fever, he will not survive if we do not get him to the caves in all due haste. We will need to send for help after we get something warm to eat and some rest. So if you would please stay focused on the task before us, namely saving Aragorn’s life, then all will be well,” Frodo turned back towards Aragorn, kneeling down. He grabbed a man sized blanket off the unconscious man. “Help me, Sam,” he said, calmly. Sam rushed to the opposite side of the Ranger and knelt down. “Sit him up slowly,” Frodo said. Frodo easily slipped into the leadership role, his quiet power emanating from him. It wasn’t ego; it was an expected role for Frodo as the oldest and wisest of the four of them. Had anyone else taken the lead it would have felt wrong. He would see that Aragorn *was* saved and *would* be made well, if only by the sheer will of Frodo Baggins. They slowly sat the Ranger up, his head lolling forward. Pip moved to Aragorn’s front, supporting the man’s head.
Frodo rolled out the blanket, bunching most of it at the base of Aragorn’s back. They then slowly lowered their friend back down. “Sam you will lift Aragorn’s left side, Pip you’re going to pull the blanket down under Aragorn’s hips so that he is lying on top of it.” Pip nodded. Sam grunted as he lifted Aragorn mere inches from the cold ground while Pip’s deft fingers pulled as much of the bunched blanket under the left hip. Merry stood quietly staring down at the them, still stunned silent by the tongue lashing his angry older cousin had given him. “Are you going to help us Merry, or just watch?” Frodo asked evenly.
Merry nodded dumbly and knelt down next to Frodo on Aragorn’s right side. While he copied Sam’s actions, Frodo reached under Aragorn’s hip, pulling as much of the blanket down as possible. Frodo and Pippin continued to pull the blanket down under the Ranger’s legs, while Merry and Sam lifted the legs out of the way. Finally, the blanket was in place beneath Aragorn, leaving a sizeable border around the man. Frodo sighed heavily and sank back on his haunches. “We are going to lift Aragorn onto the travois by grabbing the blanket and pulling him.” Merry’s mouth opened as if to say something but Pip shot him a glare and he closed it with a snap.
Merry retrieved the travois and laid it at Aragorn’s left side. Frodo ran a hand over the tightly woven leather and wood. He smiled over at Merry, “You did an amazing job on this, Mer’,” he said.
Merry smiled back, feeling the angry tension of moments before, ease. “Thanks, Frodo. One of my *elderly* cousins taught me how to do it,” he chuckled.
Frodo harrumphed before becoming serious again. “All right, we’ll each grasp a corner of the blanket and lift Aragorn towards the litter. On three…one, two, three,” all of them lifted, sliding and moving Aragorn a few inches towards the travois.
“He don’t look that heavy, does he Mr. Frodo? But he surely is,” Sam panted.
“Dead weight, Sam, although I am sure, being as Aragorn is all muscle, he weighs more than he looks too,” Frodo grunted.
On the next lift they were able to tug and pull Aragorn over the edge of the travois then on the third and fourth lift, had him situated in the middle. They sat back, breathing heavy. Frodo’s left hand had been useless so he had wound the corner of the blanket around his right wrist in order to do his share. The right arm now had a nasty welt from the blanket, but otherwise he was rather proud of himself.
Sam spread the blankets over Aragorn, tucking them in then covered him in the slicker. Frodo and Merry then lashed the Ranger down with the rope Sam had had the foresight to bring. When they were done all that could be seen was the Ranger’s face.
“Now, we need to lift him,” Frodo said, looking down at Aragorn and wondering if such a thing were even possible.
“If each of us gets as far under him as we can, then we just stand with the travois edges on our shoulders,” Pip said. As if to demonstrate he crouched down on one side, then he frowned, “Well, how about if we lift Aragorn up like we’re going to stand him up, then move underneath him?” Pip grinned hopefully. Sam, Merry and Frodo stared at him, unsure.
They all gathered at the top of the travois near Aragorn’s head. They counted out loud to three and amidst loud groans tilted the travois enough for Merry to dart under the right edge while Sam moved under the left of the litter. With their shoulders doing the work they slowly rose from a crouch, Frodo and Pip darted under the back edge, Frodo’s right shoulder and Pip’s left under the weight of the travois.
“We stand on three,” Frodo panted. They counted to three together and lifted, resting the travois firmly on their shoulders, their backs straining. Pip was a little shorter so his end of the travois dipped a bit, but all in all, Frodo was surprised and pleased that their team work had been successful.
“Frodo, I hope we can make it to the caves. Strider is pretty heavy even with the four of us,” Merry panted.
“There is no other way Merry, Aragorn will die if we don’t do this. We *have to* get him to shelter. Whatever happens, we have to try and stay in position. If we step out of line, the litter will tip and Aragorn will fall. If one of us should slip or fall it could be disastrous so we need to move slow and steady,” Frodo gasped.
“You alright, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked. He couldn’t look back since Frodo was behind him and their right shoulders were struggling to hold up the length of the left side of the travois.
“Fine Sam, let’s go,” Frodo said, dodging the question. There were more immediate concerns than his own comfort. “Count off your steps…one…two…one…two, in that way we will step at the same time,” Frodo called.
Very slowly they made their way across the plateau and under the trees to the Rimrock. When they got to the rock fall it was more of a scramble to move around and over the rocks and Pippin and Frodo soon devised a way to get around the rocks. They would lay their end of the travois on a boulder, run around and then get back underneath the travois again. Using the same technique, Sam and Merry would place the travois above the ground on the Rimrock, then skirt around the obstacle and return under the edges of the travois to continue on. After a while the four had developed a rudimentary system, but it was slow going and exhausting work. Frequently, one of them would slip, the travois dipping precariously as the other three hobbits struggled to counter balance and avert disaster. It was full dark when they at last, were able to maneuver their fallen friend over the top most edge of the Rimrock.
“Now we just need to retrieve our packs,” Frodo said tiredly.
They all groaned, but still didn’t move. Finally Frodo rolled to his right side with a groan. “First a fire, I think,” he said.
“I saved the broken branches,” Pippin exclaimed, as he jumped up then his face fell. “They’re in my pack,” he said dejectedly. He pulled Merry then Sam up to their feet.
Frodo smiled widely, “That’s all right, Pip, there’s a lot of wood lying around,” he gave Pip a loving squeeze.
“Frodo, Pip and I are going back for the packs,” Merry said, crouching down next to his cousin.
“Take Sam with you, you two can’t carry five packs,” Frodo said.
“Master, I should stay and get a meal started and you might need my help,” Sam said.
“No Sam, I will stay with Aragorn. There will be time to eat later. Besides,” he looked up at Sam, a knowing look and a twinkle in his eye, “all of our food along with your pots and pans are in the packs.”
Sam blushed furiously, “I didn’t want you to be left alone, is all,” he muttered.
Sam nodded, “You won’t be wanderin’ around or anything, will you Master?”
Frodo grinned widely, squelching the desire to burst into laughter, “Oh Sam…no, I plan not to move from Aragorn’s side.”
Sam blushed again then joined Merry and Pip at the cave entrance. “We’ll be back soon, Master,” Sam said with an anxious look.
He set the pouch aside and began removing the blankets from his friend. Aragorn groaned and Frodo was immediately at his shoulder, looking down into the face of the Ranger.
“Aragorn?” he whispered. He re-wet the cloth and washed Aragorn’s brow and face.
“Thirsty,” the Ranger mumbled.
Frodo forced his left arm to work, slipping it behind his friend’s shoulders and raising the man’s head. He could not help the whimper that escaped his lips. He held the water bag shakily to Aragorn’s lips as the man drank deeply. Then he slowly lowered the Ranger back down with a sigh.
Aragorn’s eyes cracked open, “Are you all right, Frodo?” The man asked, concerned.
“I am all right, Aragorn, just a little…sore,” Frodo said wearily. “Aragorn, you have a fever, I have your medical bag, what should I do?” Frodo asked.
“Am I bleeding?” Aragorn asked. Frodo lifted the blankets off of the leg and looked at the wrappings. There was a large spot of blood on the gauze at the break, but the rest of the bandages were relatively clean.
“I see some, but not a large amount,” Frodo said uncertainly.
Aragorn nodded, wincing, “Willow bark tea will help with the fever and pain. I also have some powdered yarrow root in my bag that you can sprinkle on the break to help with infection,” he murmured.
Frodo’s eyes lit up, “I found that, but had only heard of using yarrow as a tea,” he exclaimed.
“It can be used both ways. The roots are more concentrated and when dried and ground into a powder, can be sprinkled directly onto the source of the infection,” Aragorn whispered.
“Are you in pain?”
“I am unfortunately, in a great deal of pain, my friend,” Aragorn replied.
“Is it safe to give you poppy, Aragorn or should I give you something else?” Frodo asked feeling completely overwhelmed.
“Poppy is safe in people with head wounds only if the patient knows his name or the name of the person taking care of him.”
Frodo leaned over Aragorn’s face and looked into his eyes, “Who am I?” he asked.
Aragorn smiled, “You are Frodo Baggins of the Shire and my good friend,” he said, remembering what Frodo had said to him when he had called Frodo ‘Ringbearer’.
Frodo’s smile wavered as tears began to run down his cheeks. “I treated you abominably. How can you ever forgive me for my outburst?”
Aragorn raised his hand to Frodo’s face and thumbed a tear away. “There is nothing to forgive, Frodo, I took no offense.”
Frodo wiped his face with his sleeve, “How much poppy should I give you?” He asked as he retrieved the jar from the bag.
Aragorn took the jar from Frodo’s trembling hands and opened it, taking a large dollop on his finger he slipped it under his tongue. “You would give a hobbit about a third as much,” he murmured.
Frodo retrieved the jar, capped it and placed it back in the bag. He turned back to Aragorn, “Would you like more water?” But the Ranger’s eyes had closed and the man now breathed slow and rhythmically, obviously asleep.
Frodo held the water bag in his lap as he watched the Ranger sleep. He suddenly felt terribly alone, and he began to cry. After a few moments, he laid the water bottle down and slowly began to unwind the wrapped leg. He hissed in empathy once it was laid bare. Angry shades of black and blue ran the entire length of the leg. The area of the break was swollen but not extremely so. He picked up the pouch of yarrow root powder and sprinkled it liberally over the wound. He tested the straps to make sure they were not too tight and loosened a few. He rewrapped the leg in clean gauze, then wrapped Merry’s tattered cloak around the limb. Next, he placed a small flat rock under the heel of Aragorn’s foot and pushed some of the leaves into a pile under the knee to keep it elevated then he pulled the blankets back over his friend.
He rose, fed the fire again, then returned to the Ranger, wetting a cloth and leaving it on Aragorn’s forehead. He sat holding Aragorn’s hand and speaking softly to the man. His eyes began to droop and he curled up next to the Ranger, crawling under the edge of the blanket and lying against Aragorn’s chest. He drifted into a restless doze.
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