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The Honorary Hobbit
"The Care and Feeding of Rangers"
Elrond decided that before he would allow Aragorn to rest, he would give him some of Frodo’s medicinal tea and perhaps some broth. As if they had read the Elf Lord’s mind, two Elves entered through the mouth of the cave carrying a small buck. The deer had been field dressed and all that needed to be done was for the meat to be cut from the bone and cooked. Sam smiled broadly, “It’ll be a treat to have some fresh meat, it will!” he exclaimed. The Elves placed the buck on a blanket near the fire and an awed Sam crouched down beside them as they began to section and cut the meat from the carcass. He smiled bashfully, “Thank you kindly, Mr. Elves, sirs.” The Elves smiled and nodded to him and Sam realized that they probably didn’t understand him. He held out a cook pot and after glancing questioningly at the hobbit and speaking something in rushed elvish, they placed a portion of shank inside of it.
Sam scurried to the fire and added water, carrots, onions, and potatoes to the pot as he quietly hummed to himself.
“Do you have more of Frodo’s tea, Master Gamgee?”
“Aye, I do have some though it’s about all gone, sir,” Sam replied.
“Never fear, I have something to contribute to it that has an appealing flavor,” Elrond said. Sam grimaced, somehow doubting that was true. Elrond upended a vial into the pot of tea and the liquid turned a dark purple.
“Just let it warm, Sam,” Elrond said softly.
“Aye sir,” Sam stirred the tea curiously before catching the aroma of black berries steaming up from the pot. Perhaps it would taste better after all, he thought with a smile. Once it was warm, Elrond took a cup of the drink and sat down at Aragorn’s side.
“Wake, my son,” he said quietly as he gently tapped Aragorn’s face. The Ranger’s eyes slowly opened and he stared up at Elrond. “You need to take some medicine before you sleep, Aragorn.”
“I do not want any, Ada.”
“You must in order to regain your health, Aragorn. It tastes quiet pleasant.”
Aragorn grimaced, also doubting Elrond’s words. “No thank you, Ada. Please let me sleep…I am so tired,” Aragorn whispered, closing his eyes.
“Let me try, my Lord,” croaked a small voice.
Elrond turned and saw Frodo was trying to right himself. Gandalf slowly placed the hobbit on his feet, holding his hands out in case Frodo swayed. Frodo *did* sway and Elrond noticed the pallor of the Ringbearer’s face and how his legs shook to support his weight. “Very well,” Elrond said, wanting only for Frodo to settle on the ground beside Aragorn before he fell into a faint.
Frodo walked wobbly over to Aragorn taking the cup from the Elf Lord’s hands as he passed. He knelt down in front of the Ranger, finally settling into a crossed leg position. He tapped Aragorn’s face lightly and the Ranger frowned.
“No, Ada, let me sleep,” the Ranger groused.
Frodo smiled, “It is Frodo, Aragorn,” he whispered. Unbeknownst to Frodo everyone surrounding the two had tensed, ready to stop Aragorn should he reach out for the Ringbearer. Sam crossed to the two, placing himself at Frodo’s left nearest to Aragorn and between the Ranger and his Master.
Aragorn’s eyes had opened upon hearing Frodo’s voice and he stared up into the blue eyes. “You are injured,” he said simply.
“Yes, but I am better thanks to Elrond. I feel fit as a fiddle, Strider, so you need not worry on my behalf,” Frodo said, forcing a smile to his face. Elrond watched one eyebrow arched at the easily executed lie.
“But, y…your arm,” Aragorn whispered, eyes slipping closed.
“Much better, thanks to you, my friend,” Frodo said smoothly.
“My friend…are we friends, Frodo?”
“I consider us to be very dear friends,” Frodo responded warmly. “But we need to get you fed, Aragorn. I have made more of my rare and special tea, your Majesty. Please do me the honor of joining me in a cup.” Frodo lied as he slipped into his earlier subterfuge.
At the words “Your Majesty” there was a collective gasp from all but the hobbits. Elrond’s mouth had dropped open in surprise and Gandalf chuckled at the rare reaction from the normally stoic elf.
Aragorn grimaced at the mention of the “special tea” and Frodo grinned. “My last batch was somewhat bitter but I have added something I think you’ll find most agreeable,” Frodo continued. “I made it especially for you, Aragorn, I hope you will drink it and feel the honor which I have endeavored to bestow upon you.” Gandalf and Elrond smiled, impressed by the manipulative skills of the Ringbearer.
Aragorn shifted uncomfortably, “I am honored, of course, Frodo. His expression was comical…a mixture of dread and courtesy, and it took all of Frodo’s considerable control to not giggle at the grimace on the man’s face. “I…I need to use the privy first, though,” the Ranger whispered conspiratorially, thinking it their secret alone.
“Of course,” Frodo whispered back. “I regret my privy is under repair currently but if you will allow me?” Aragorn nodded. Elrond pulled the man’s leggings down low as Frodo reached for the cup that was being used as the urinal. Aragorn filled the cup and sighed. Frodo handed it off to Merry who went to the mouth of the cave and dumped it. On his way back he retrieved Sam’s desecrated cook pot in case it was needed and set it by the fire to warm. “Are you ready for your tea now, Aragorn?” Frodo asked.
“I…I need to move my bowels, Frodo, give me a moment and I will join you soon.” Frodo did not know where the Ranger *thought* he was but it was obvious that Aragorn was straining. Frodo darted a look at Merry and the pot magically appeared. He placed it behind the man’s backside.
After a few moments the Ranger sighed in defeat, unable to void. Elrond reached into his bag and pulled out a reed, funnel and long piece of casing. All of the hobbits blanched at the implications of what was about to take place. With a nod to Gandalf, Elrond, along with two of the Elves who had helped before, eased Aragorn onto his right side. Aragorn cried out as he was moved but soon the blankets and toweling were situated so that the injured leg was supported and he was in a more comfortable position.
“Bend his left knee, Gandalf,” Elrond murmured. Gandalf bent the knee slightly, exposing Aragorn’s backside fully. The hobbits turned away to give the man some privacy although Aragorn was barely aware of what was taking place. Frodo had not turned away instead rising and crossing slowly to the Ranger’s other side. His eyes fell on Aragorn’s back and the now exposed sores and he gasped.
“How did this happen?” Frodo cried, he reached out as if to touch the sores and Elrond stopped him.
“Ringbearer! Do not touch the wounds. I will explain shortly but now we need your expertise to calm my son,” Elrond said firmly.
Frodo nodded, unable to drag his eyes from the weeping sores. He forced himself from his reverie and sat down at Aragorn’s head. Sam handed him a cool cloth and he began to whisper lowly to the Ranger as he mopped the sweat from the man’s brow.
“What is happening?” Aragorn whispered. Frodo shifted, uncertain as to what to say then decided on the truth.
“You cannot move your bowels, Aragorn, so Elrond is going to er…help you. You will feel much better once he is done, my friend.”
Aragorn looked confused but as Elrond inserted the reed into the man’s opening, understanding mixed with surprise caused the man’s eyes to fly open. “No…” he said trying to struggle free but in his weakened state his efforts were futile.
Frodo shushed him quietly and began to slowly comb his fingers through the Ranger’s dirty hair. “It will be over soon, and then you can have some tea. Sam has made a lovely dinner for you as well. Frodo pitched his voice evenly and the Ranger’s eyes began to creep closed as Frodo began to hum a song his mother had always sung to him whenever he had been ill. Frodo glanced up and saw that Elrond had attached the casing to the reed and the funnel to the other end. He slowly began pouring warm water into the funnel as Gandalf held the reed in place.
Aragorn’s eyes opened briefly but closed slowly as Frodo continued to sing in a slow hypnotic cadence. Suddenly, water and stool poured out of the man and into Sam’s defiled cook pot and Aragorn sighed in relief as the reed was withdrawn. Elrond handed the pot to the awaiting Elf who took it to be dumped. The reed was wrapped in toweling along with the other implements and placed back into the healer’s bag. Elrond then pulled Aragorn’s leggings up and re-covered the Ranger. He nodded to Frodo and the hobbit ceased singing. Aragorn’s eyes opened at the sudden quiet and Frodo smiled down at him.
“There now, I believe it’s time for our tea, your Majesty,” Frodo said cheerfully. Aragorn was smoothly moved onto his back and placed in a semi-upright position by the Elves who then slipped behind him for support.
Frodo retrieved the tea and he and Sam settled beside the Ranger. He spooned some of the medicine into Aragorn’s mouth and the man’s eyes snapped open in surprised delight. “Why Frodo, this is delicious,” he exclaimed.
“Thank you, Aragorn, I do believe it is one of my best batches yet,” Frodo said with a grin. The man finished his tea and Sam brought over a cup of the stew. Elrond took the cup and examined the contents under Sam’s watchful gaze.
“I fished out the meat, sir, and mashed up the vegetables, I hope that’s all right.”
“Excellent, Sam,” Elrond said with a smile. “It smells delicious.” Sam beamed in appreciation and took the cup to his Master. Frodo slowly fed the thick broth to Aragorn who seemed to be quite enjoying his meal.
“My compliments, Samwise, that was delicious,” Aragorn said after eating about three quarters of the cups contents.
“Thankee sir,” Sam said blushing.
“Could I have some more of your tea, Frodo?” Frodo glanced at Elrond who gave him a nod.
“Of course, Aragorn, as much as you wish.” Another cup of tea was placed in Frodo’s hand and he slowly spooned it into the Ranger’s mouth. Aragorn drank the tea automatically as he stared up at Frodo over the rim of the cup. Suddenly, his hand shot out to grab Frodo. Frodo had seen the movement but there was little time to react except to brace himself for the expected explosion of pain. Frodo had closed his eyes expecting the worst but when it didn’t come he slowly opened his eyes to see Sam holding the man’s wrist firmly within his grasp. Aragorn was staring up at Sam in confusion.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Strider, but I can’t let you touch my Master’s arm, sir. It’s still mighty sore, if you take my meaning,” Sam said firmly.
“Of course, Sam, how stupid of me. Is he well?”
“Yes sir, he’s on the mend,” Sam whispered, hoping fervently that his words held a flicker of the truth.
Aragorn’s eyes began to slip closed as he mumbled, “That is good…” Sam placed the man’s wrist gently on Aragorn’s chest and pulled up the covers. The two Elves easily maneuvered Aragorn back onto his left side as Elrond supported his broken leg.
Elrond turned and smiled at the two hobbits, “I am most impressed, gentlemen,” he said quietly. “Master Samwise, your reflexes are quite fast, I do not believe I even saw your hand reach out.” Sam blushed. “And Frodo, I am astounded at how easily you wield deception to get what you want,” the Elf Lord said with a smirk, emphasizing the word “deception”. “He seems to be quite susceptible to pleasing you. It does not surprise me over much since he admires you greatly.”
Frodo looked confused, “I do not know why that is, my Lord, I have done nothing worthy of his admiration.”
Merry shook his head, “We’ve had this discussion, my daft cousin. You may not see your qualities in yourself but others do.” Frodo smiled but continued to look confused.
He looked anxiously up at Elrond, “What are those sores on his back?”
Elrond had hoped Frodo had forgotten about the wounds but seeing as it wasn’t so, he sighed. “They are bedsores, Frodo.”
Frodo’s eyes flew open, “I..I didn’t know. Oh, I am so stupid not to remember that he would need to be turned. Poor Aragorn.”
“It’s my fault, Mr. Frodo, I should’a remembered,” Sam said sadly.
“You could have done little to make him more comfortable, my dear hobbits,” Gandalf said slowly. “Aragorn would have been too heavy for you to move without risking further pain and injury. Aragorn will recover, Frodo, do not worry,” the Istari reassured.
“Will he, Gandalf? Really? Can you *promise* me that, Gandalf? He would have been better off had I done nothing …all of his injuries were my fault. If he hadn’t shoved me aside he wouldn’t have been injured at all. But no, I caused his injuries and then, because I was too busy reading books all of my life instead of listening to my Aunt Zelpha go on about her medicinal plants, I was *completely* ignorant of how to care for him,” Frodo ranted, rising and pacing in front of a dumbfounded Gandalf and Elrond. The cave was completely silent accept for the heavy breathing of the irate Ringbearer. He wiped his forehead and stopped in front of Elrond.
Elrond stared at Frodo for a long time noting his pallor and flushed cheeks, the shaking hands and the wheezing breaths. “Frodo, you must calm yourself.” Frodo looked as if he was going to explode. “You did well, you saved his life! Without you, he would have perished. You could have done no more,” he added quietly. “Now, I believe you are in need of my attentions,” he reached out for the Ringbearer but Frodo took a step backwards, easily dodging the Elf Lord.
“I am perfectly all right, Lord Elrond, I assure you,” Frodo huffed, straightening his shoulders.
Elrond frowned, “I am afraid you have no choice, Master Baggins,” he said firmly.
Merry, Pip and Sam all rolled their eyes skyward at the Elf Lord. Obviously, Elrond had no idea what he had just set in motion. Frodo was by nature, a stubborn hobbit and Elrond’s declaration had left no room for argument which of course, meant Frodo *had* to argue.
“I appreciate your concern, my Lord, but I have no need for an examination and would prefer you use your skills on Aragorn instead.”
“Aragorn will not want for medical care, I assure you. You are obviously in pain and I believe you are coming down with a cold or perhaps something more serious. You are not that long from your own sickbed and more susceptible to illness.”
Frodo stood firm, blue eyes locked with gray, in the battle of wills. In the end neither hobbit nor elf gave way. Sam stepped up behind Frodo and placed his hands gently on his Master’s shoulders. “You’ve been right strong, Mr. Frodo, but now it’s time to make *you* comfortable, sir. Let’s get this done so we can eat and get you a good night’s sleep,” he said practically.
Frodo looked around at Sam, suddenly feeling foolish at acting so childishly. Merry and Pippin watched anxiously from behind Sam. “Yes, yes of course Sam, I don’t know what came over me,” he mumbled. He straightened in front of Lord Elrond, “What do you wish of me, my Lord?”
Elrond smiled in wonder at Sam then Frodo. “Here, sit Frodo, let me examine you,” he said softly. Frodo nodded nervously as he sat down on the ground next to Gandalf. The wizard squeezed Frodo’s right shoulder in reassurance.
Normally medical examinations were merely annoying to Frodo. He had endured them for years for Bilbo’s sake and found they were usually over and done with quickly. But since he had been wounded by the Witch King, examinations had taken on a whole different context. His shoulder and left side hurt abominably, his head felt heavy and fuzzy and he thought he might have a fever as well. As Elrond unfastened his cloak his stomach twisted nervously knowing that despite the Elf Lord’s best efforts to be gentle, this was going to be painful.
Elrond removed Frodo’s cloak very slowly and Frodo shivered violently. Gandalf’s staff flared, filling the surrounding area with warmth as Sam slowly removed the flannel shirt he had clothed Frodo in earlier. Frodo’s eyes were squeezed tightly shut but as his left arm came out of the sleeve, he could not hold back a whimper. Sam spoke softly to him as he spread a blanket about his Master’s shoulders. He looked worriedly over at Elrond before leaving his Master in their care.
Elrond bent to exam Frodo’s left side as Gandalf moved to shed more light over the elf’s shoulder. Frodo tensed, waiting for the touch he knew was coming. “Try to relax, Frodo,” Elrond whispered. He gently took the slim arm and pressed two fingers along the hobbit’s frigid shoulder. “Take a deep breath, Frodo and release it slowly,” Elrond said quietly.
Frodo did as instructed but could not keep his body from shaking. He squeezed his eyes closed as Elrond palpated the wound area. Tears slowly leaked from beneath his lids and coursed down his cheeks splashing on Elrond’s arm. The Elf Lord looked into Frodo’s face in empathy. “I am very sorry to have caused you additional pain, Frodo, we are done for now,” Elrond whispered apologetically. Frodo merely nodded and Gandalf reached out and pulled him onto his lap, covering him with his robe. “I would like to listen to your chest now.”
Frodo sat shivering and listless and Elrond looked at him in concern before placed his ear to Frodo’s chest. After a few moments he withdrew and motioned for Sam to join them. “His chest is congested…”
“It is only a cold,” Frodo mumbled.
“That may be, Ringbearer, but we do not wish it to worsen. You need rest in a soft bed, but since that is not currently possible, I believe an extended soak in the hot pool, a serving of Master Gamgee’s delicious stew and a good night’s sleep will have to suffice. Sam, please help your Master into the pool and join him so he can relax without drowning,” Elrond said lightly.
“Yes sir.” Sam walked Frodo slowly to the hot pool followed closely by Merry and Pippin who retrieved towels, a change of clothing and blankets. Frodo was eased into the pool and Sam settled beside him as his Master sighed in complete bliss. He talked quietly to Frodo for some time but, receiving no response, glanced over at his Master and saw that Frodo had fallen asleep. He pulled Frodo’s head up against his shoulder after checking that his Master’s shoulder was still completely immersed.
Some half hour later Elrond knelt beside the pool. Sam’s eyes were closed in slumber and Elrond shook his head. He motioned for Gandalf who chuckled at the sight of the two hobbits before carefully extracting Frodo and lifting him from the pool, wrapping him warmly in blankets. Elrond retrieved Sam, who woke with a jerk looking about for Frodo. “He is with Gandalf, Sam. Once you are dressed, please attend to your Master, and then we shall eat and rest for the night.”
“Yessir, Mr. Elrond.” Sam, Merry and Pippin gathered Frodo’s clothing and the three painstakingly dressed the groggy Ringbearer. Elrond watched them, noting how tenderly they handled their cousin. By the time Frodo was dressed in warm clothing he was awake and his eyes clear. Elrond concluded that the pain had abated somewhat gaging by the hobbit’s interactions with his cousins and the gentle laughter (followed by a prolonged, wet sounding cough from the Ringbearer) that the four shared.
The three bustled Frodo to a place close to the fire where Sam put a cup of steaming stew in his hand. Frodo ate slowly, listening to the Elves as they told stories and sang songs. The hobbits were mesmerized and transfixed by the strange but wonderful tales spun in the soft lilting voices. Elrond smiled over at Frodo and the Ringbearer smiled in return, thankful he had let the Elf Lord help him. After the meal was finished, Gandalf declared that they would all be leaving in the morning for Rivendell and that they should all get some rest. Sam steered Frodo towards a huge nest of leaves and blankets. Frodo gaped at the bed, “I don’t need…”
“Yes, you do, Frodo. Allow us to make you comfortable for once, cousin,” Pippin said. “There’s even enough room for all of us!” He chirped. The all settled down and were soon lost to exhausted slumber.
Elrond checked on Aragorn one last time before joining Gandalf at the foot of the makeshift bed. Frodo was in the center with Sam next to him, one arm draped protectively over his Master. Pippin was on the other side with Merry on the outside.
Gandalf lit his pipe and looked at Elrond, “Hobbits!” he said gruffly,he shook his head and chuckled as he walked over to his own bedroll.
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