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The Honorary Hobbit
Cast of Characters: Aragorn, Frodo,Merry, Sam and Pippin, so far
Rated:PG for grossness and the occasional bare Ranger bottom
“Nothing. She is gone, don’t worry Pip,” Merry said, ruffling his cousin’s hair as he gave him his best, albeit exhausted, smile.
Pippin felt a pang of guilt looking at Merry’s glassy eyes and noting the slump of his shoulders. “You need to sleep, Mer’, I can stand watch for a while,” Pip said softly.
“No, we must continue on, Pip. Frodo and Aragorn need help and they are counting on us.” He looked around at their campsite. It had poured down rain all night and their fire was a mere puddle of partially burnt wood and ash. He sighed, “No fire this morning, Pip, let’s have a quick cold breakfast and hurry on. Pip would have objected normally but Merry had sacrificed his own comfort for him. Daylight, or what passed for daylight, was slipping away from them, so he chose to rummage through his pack, pulling forth a small wedge of cheese, a loaf of hard bread and some apple slices instead. They ate in silence then packed up their remaining supplies and bedrolls and resumed their trek towards Rivendell.
They hiked for some three or four hours, Merry trudging in a habituated march while Pip scanned the countryside for any signs of trouble. Merry stopped suddenly causing Pip to crash into him. “Merry what…?” Pip started to say, but stopped himself as he heard the unmistakable sound of hoof beats. “Should we hide, Mer’?” Pippin asked, looking about in a panic.
Merry smiled, “No, I don’t imagine Elrond would allow dangerous ruffians into his lands.”
Pippen looked skeptical as he thought of the Big Cat from the night before.
Seeing the hobbits, Elrond kneed his steed and raced towards them. He stopped just short of the hobbits, quickly dismounted and knelt before the bedraggled duo. Soon he was joined by the others who also dismounted and stood at Elrond’s side.
“Are you well little Masters? Are you injured?” Elrond spoke hurriedly. This gave Pippin his chance to tell of the Big Cat and all that had occurred the night before. He rushed over the words as Elrond marveled at how long the hobbit could talk without taking a breath. A small smile touched Gandalf’s lips and he began to chuckle. Pippin slowed his speech when he came to how Merry had chased the foe off and had sat watch over him as he slept.
Merry smiled then his eyes widened and he exclaimed “Frodo!” It was then his turn to breathlessly tell of all that had transpired with Aragorn and his cousin. He had taken Elrond’s hand and begun to pull the elf towards his horse as he spoke, conveying the urgency of returning to the caves. Elrond allowed Merry to urge him into action; the hobbit’s anxiety was palpable and contagious. He mounted quickly, pulling Merry up in one motion across the saddle.
“You will rest now, Meriadoc,” he said simply as he spurred his mount into a run. The others had quickly remounted, Gandalf placing Pippin in front of him, as the whole host broke into a gallop after Elrond’s mount.
A gentle prodding brought Frodo awake and he swatted impatiently at the hand. “Leave me be, Sam, I am not hungry. ‘Tired though, so very tired,” he mumbled sleepily.
“That may be, my dear hobbit, but you *will* eat nonetheless,” a much loved voice grumbled.
Frodo’s eyes flew open and he saw Gandalf hovering over him. “Gandalf!” Frodo exclaimed grasping the Istari’s arm in jubilation. “Thank the stars that you are here!” he smiled joyfully.
Gandalf smiled as he studied Frodo’s face, noting the weariness and how Frodo held his left arm close to his body. The hobbit’s face was pale save for two ruddy spots on his cheeks and the Maia knew that worry over Aragorn and being responsible for the others had taken a grave toll on the frail hobbit. Frodo had neglected his health despite Sam’s best efforts to compensate for his Master’s actions. Gandalf rose, thumped his staff on the rock, causing the cave to ignite in brilliant light and warmth. “It is far too cold in here and hard on my old bones,” he mumbled.
Frodo’s attentions had turned to Elrond as he examined Aragorn and his injuries. Elrond looked up at Frodo, “Master Baggins,” he said in greeting.
“On the contrary, Ringbearer, you have most probably saved his life. Under the circumstances it is a miracle that he yet lives and only by your efforts does he still draw breath,” Elrond said, raising an eyebrow.
“Still, I feel my efforts were lacking. I have no healing skills. We made him a medicinal tea,” Frodo rose quickly to cross to the fire and staggered as vertigo assailed him. Elrond reached out and steadied the hobbit, knowing that he most probably had two patients, instead of one.
“Steady Frodo, do not over exert yourself,” he cautioned.
“I must have stood up to fast,” Frodo stated flatly. “I am fine.”
“You are many admirable things, Master Baggins, but *fine* is not one of them,” Elrond responded.
Frodo gently pulled from Elrond’s grasp, “I do not wish to appear ungrateful, my Lord, but it is Aragorn who needs your full attention currently. I am well enough,” Frodo said stubbornly.
Elrond gave him a small smile, content for the moment to concentrate his efforts on the Ranger. There would be time later to deal with Mr. Baggins. “Please, bring me the tea you prepared,” he said. Frodo retrieved the tea, handing it to the elf.
Elrond sniffed the tea then dipped his finger in it, tasting the concoction. He grimaced, but nodded, “I see you have learned much while you were ill, Frodo. I can taste all of the ingredients in addition to athelas and I approve of your choices. It is a bit strong… however did you get Aragorn to take it?” he asked.
Frodo smiled, “I used manipulation.”
Elrond raised his eyebrows and smiled, “You must tell me more about this later.” Frodo giggled, relaxing upon hearing that his herbal choices had been good ones. “Nonetheless, I have brought my own elixirs to speed Aragorn’s recovery,” the elf Lord added. He pulled a light green vial from his bag and Frodo winced in empathy for the Ranger.
Frodo knelt down at Aragorn’s side, “What is in that one, if I may ask?” Since trying to treat Aragorn he had become increasingly aware of his own lack of knowledge about such things and now found he had a genuine interest in knowing more about what things in nature could be used to create curatives for the ill. Merry crowded closer to Frodo, also wanting to know more. Sam already sat on the Ranger’s left, watching all that Elrond did and Pippin heard everything even when he wasn’t supposed to. Merry locked eyes with Sam and a silent agreement passed between them that they would learn all they could should Frodo have need of it on their journey. Merry hoped the knowledge would go unused.
Sam seemed to file all of this away as did Merry, while Frodo nodded in understanding. With a nod from Elrond, Elladan slipped behind the Ranger, propping him up into a sitting position. Elrond unwrapped the bandage around Aragorn’s head and examined the concussion. “You did well in cleaning and bandaging the wound. Has he been conscious since the accident?” Elrond asked quietly.
“Yes, although the last two times he was awake he was a bit outta his head, sir. Talkin’ nonsense,” Sam said. Frodo shuddered, remembering what Aragorn had spoken of and decided he would ask Gandalf about it later.
“What did he say?” Frodo looked towards the voice. Pip was sitting in Gandalf’s lap watching and listening to all that took place.
“We’ll discuss it later, Pip,” Frodo said. Both Merry and Pip looked even more curious and would have pushed the issue further but saw that Elrond had begun to tap Aragorn’s face in an attempt to wake him.
“Ada?” Aragorn whispered, seeing who had waked him.
“Yes, my son. I am here. You have been very ill and I have prepared a cordial to help you mend. Will you drink it for me?” Aragorn nodded slowly, not really caring one way or the other. Frodo knew from past experience that had Strider refused the cordial, it would have been forced on the Ranger anyway. The twins moved closer to their adopted brother, tightening their hold on him in preparation for the ordeal. Without hesitating, Elrond poured a large portion of the vial into Aragorn’s mouth then held the man’s jaw closed. He blew into Aragorn’s face, causing the man to swallow reflexively.
After much swearing and many sips of water to wash away the taste, Aragorn settled. Elrond nodded to the twins and they braced themselves. The elf Lord upended the vial depositing the remaining liquid onto the unsuspecting Ranger’s tongue. As Elrond held the man’s jaw tightly closed and blew into Aragorn’s face, the Ranger struggled, but he was weakened from his illness and quickly gave up, swallowing the elixir. Colorful curses and other promised threats and expletives poured from the man and even Elrond looked shocked at some of the more creative ones, wondering from whom he had learned such words. He looked over at Frodo who was blushing furiously while his cousins and Sam gaped at the young Master of Bag End.
“I’ve heard some of those but only from Bilbo!” Pippin squealed in shock.
“It seems, dear cousin, that some of our more colorful curses have been taught to our dear Strider,” Merry said matter-of-factly.
“They are meant to heal a body, not taste good, Master Baggins,” Elrond said archly.
Elrond paused, staring at the Ringbearer, “I will experiment with the ingredients once we return and see what can be done,” Elrond said flatly. Frodo could tell that the elf Lord’s feelings had been bruised although Elrond would have never admitted to such a thing.
Aragorn’s eyes had settled on Frodo and he stared long and hard at the hobbit. Frodo smiled at Aragorn, a little bashful under the man’s intense scrutiny. He pulled his water pouch to him, “Would you like more water, Aragorn?” he asked quietly. Aragorn only continued to stare at the hobbit. Frodo brought the canteen to the man’s lips and Aragorn drank deeply. “That cordial was a little nasty, wasn’t it? I have found that a long drink of water goes a long way towards washing the taste from one’s mouth. That and a spoonful of honey, but since we don’t have any left,” he looked up at Sam and Sam shook his head indicating that the honey was all gone, “we’ll have to do with just water, I’m afraid,” Frodo murmured softly while dabbing at the Ranger’s face with a cool cloth. Elrond could not resist a small smile watching the hobbit caring for the man so tenderly.
Aragorn had finished drinking and lunged forward grasping Frodo’s left arm tightly. Frodo yelped in surprise and pain as Elrond leaped forward, grasping the man’s wrist and disengaging his hold on Frodo.
“Frodo?” Aragorn whispered as Elrond placed himself between the two. Sam moved to support his Master’s shuddering body and saw that Frodo’s eyes were squeezed tightly shut as he fought for some semblance of control over the pain. Frodo leaned to the left and retched, unable to stop the overwhelming nausea that washed over him. His arm hung limply at his side and Gandalf eased Pippin out of his lap, picking Frodo up off the rock, pulling him into his chest and engulfing him in the voluminous folds of his robe. Frodo offered no resistance; he hadn’t even realized he had been moved. A persistent buzzing sound seemed to fill the air around him and after three days of falling, bumping and struggling against the pain he realized he had finally reached the limits of his control over his body. He lay quiescent in Gandalf’s arms and the wizard saw that the hobbit had lost consciousness.
“Elrond, you need to see to Frodo as soon as you may,” Gandalf whispered worriedly.
“He will have my uninterrupted attentions as soon as possible, Mithrandir,” Elrond said as he reached into the hobbit’s shirt, laying his hand over Frodo’s wound. It was ice cold. He lifted one eyelid and gazed into the blue iris. “Samwise, bring some hot rocks wrapped in cloth and place it beside your Master’s wound.”
Sam jumped up to do as requested while Elrond turned his attentions back to Aragorn. As he cared for the Ranger, he shot worried glances over his shoulder at the Ringbearer.
Aragorn had become highly agitated, calling for Frodo and struggling against Elrond. The elf Lord spoke softly to the Ranger and Merry saw Strider’s movements still. When Elrond rose he could see that the Ranger was once again asleep. He watched as Elrond began to carefully unwrap Strider’s leg. Elrond examined the splint and nodded in satisfaction. “You did an excellent job splinting the break, Master Brandybuck. The bones are aligned precisely as they should be,” Elrond said with a small smile.
“Thank you, my Lord. We all worked together to help Frodo as much as we could,” Merry replied.
“I am curious, is it always the eldest that is placed in charge of a situation?”
“Of course, the eldest is always thought of to be the wisest and most experienced. Except of course for my cousin Tan,” all the hobbits nodded and chorused their agreement on this, “he’s never the one to go to for assistance,” Merry said solemnly.
Sam’s eyes flew open that someone would be so hair-brained to do such a thing while Merry nodded, “Couldn’t see why it took so long to grow vegetables, he said.”
“I woulda’ skinned him alive,” Sam said then looked down shamefacedly at voicing his opinion and about a gentlehobbit at that.
Merry smiled, “Old Dodadoc almost did that very thing, Sam!” Pippin giggled. Elrond merely shook his head and smiled.
Merry looked worriedly at Strider, “Will he be all right? I worry for his leg and I can’t even imagine what Frodo would do if Strider lost his life. He would blame himself I know. He thinks very highly of Aragorn.”
“I noticed that you usually call him ‘Strider’,” Elrond’s eyes twinkled as he turned the conversation.
Elrond studied the Brandybuck as he worked on the leg. He had unwrapped all of the bandages and saw the athelas leaves lying across the break. His eyebrows rose, “Whose idea was it to place the leaves on the wound?”
Merry looked worriedly at the leg, “Frodo decided that the tea wasn’t working fast enough. Strider had two leaves left that he had blown on,” Elrond’s eyebrows rose even higher on hearing this, “so Frodo decided that the leaves would be more useful placed directly on the wound. Is it wrong? He was only trying to help.”
Elrond smiled, “No, not wrong, only interesting that Master Baggins should do it. Be at peace, Merry, Frodo did very well. The leaves are a potent cure for inflammation and infection. Frodo’s instincts were correct in placing the leaves thusly; it was the best possible thing to do. I believe hobbits know more about healing than they say.”
“It *does* look a little better, I suppose, at least those red lines are gone,” Merry said looking at the black and blue leg.
“Red lines? Where were they, Merry?”
Merry pointed above the break on the inside of the leg. “That would indicate a life threatening infection, Merry, little surprise considering the conditions you were forced to care for him under,” Elrond murmured. “I am still stymied by how you managed to move him from the tree up to this cave,” he continued.
Sam smiled, “It weren’t easy, sir. It was a bit like how ants will carry grains of sand so much bigger than them, if you take my meaning?”
“I do indeed, Master Gamgee. I have learned much from ants while watching them on a sunny day,” Elrond said conversationally. “Your Master saved Aragorn’s life. Had he not set the break correctly, made the medicinal tea and ‘lied’ to get him to drink it,” the elf Lord smiled, “and used the athelas leaves on the wound, Aragorn would have died not long after you saw the red lines on his leg.”
Merry, Sam and Pip all grinned proudly. “Frodo’s hurt too, Mr. Elrond, sir. Could you see to him as well?”
“I intend to, I assure you, Samwise,” Elrond said firmly.
Elrond washed the leg with warm athelas water and rewrapped it in clean gauze. He looked up at two tall elves and gave them a nod. Sam wondered if elves were able to talk in their heads as he watched the silent communication. The elves easily moved Aragorn onto his left hip while supporting the leg. The tunic the Ranger wore was in tatters, torn open by the hobbits so they could cool the man. Elrond cut the remaining cloth from Aragorn’s body. Sam looked at the Ranger’s back and paled.
Merry walked around and knelt beside Aragorn’s back. “No Sam, but these are what my mother called bed sores. You get them from lying in one place for too long.” He wrinkled his nose, “They smell bad too.”
Elrond studied the oozing wounds. Bone was visible on two of the wounds. “You could not have moved him, gentlemen, without causing great pain or further injury. You did all you could under the circumstances.” He gestured to the two elves, speaking in rapid elvish. The two elves nodded, bowed and left quickly. Sam looked at Elrond in awe.
“Where are they going?” Pip whispered in Merry’s ear. Merry shrugged. Pip startled when it was not Merry who answered.
“They are retrieving some things I need to keep Aragorn remain propped on his left side, Master Took,” Elrond said as he washed the sores tenderly with the athelas water and placed a large padded cloth on the Ranger’s back.
Elrond studied the hobbit’s face. “He is very ill, Meriadoc, but I will do all in my power to see him back to health. He has multiple areas of infection and he is very weak, but thanks to your cousin, he has a good chance of recovery.”
Elrond looked over at Gandalf and the hobbit that lay within the folds of the wizard’s robes. “I hope he did not sacrifice his own health too greatly to accomplish this. I will need to examine him thoroughly, his wound has obviously been exacerbated by all that has occurred, and he appears thinner, almost frail, from worry over Aragorn.
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