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The Honorary Hobbit
White Lily Tincture
Frodo’s eyes cracked open and stared at the person setting next to the bed. “Bilbo,” his voice husked. His throat was so dry that his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as he tried to form the dear hobbit’s name.
The old hobbit stirred and smiled sleepily over at his nephew. “My lad, how are you feeling?” He reached out with one knarled hand to grasp Frodo’s.
“Oh, of course my boy, how thoughtless of me to not have even offered,” Bilbo tsked. A cool glass was brought to Frodo’s dry lips and he drank thirstily. “There, there…not so fast lad or I’ll have to take it away,” Bilbo chided lovingly.
Frodo forced himself to slow his swallows although he was desperate for the cold liquid on his tongue. Finally, he slumped back onto the pillows. His mouth still felt dry, his thirst apparently unquenchable and he eyed the cool glass for a moment. He was horribly hot, his nightshirt stuck uncomfortably to his skin and he pushed the comforter down, freeing his arms.
Bilbo pulled it back up, tucking it about his shoulders. “You are very ill, my boy, and I have strict orders to keep you covered and warm.
Frodo objected sharply, “I *am* warm and covered. If I were any more warm or covered I’d scream!” He exclaimed frantically pushing the blankets aside.
“Very well, I’ll not fight you on this Frodo, but do keep calm or you’ll begin coughing again.”
“Which is exactly what we wish, Bilbo,” a cool voice answered from the doorway. Elrond walked slowly into the room and laid his hand across Frodo’s forehead. Frodo leaned into it, welcoming the coolness. ‘He is much too warm and could suffer a seizure like Aragorn if I do not find a way to curb this fever,’ he thought to himself. He briefly considered the White Lily root tincture before pushing the thought aside feeling a rare moment of panic. ‘He is too small. Never have we given it to one so small. It would be too dangerous,’ he thought. ‘How do you know unless you try,’ a voice whispered inside his head, ‘it may be just the thing to bring the fever under control.’ He had to will the voice to silence. ‘There are still other herbs and cordials to be tried, only then…’
Balorin entered silently and stood off to the side of Elrond, interrupting his internal struggle much to the elf Lord’s relief. “Prepare a cool bath for the Ringbearer…”
“Frodo…my name is Frodo,” a small voice interrupted.
Elrond smiled and looked down at the Ringbearer, “Indeed it is, I apologize Master Baggins,” Elrond murmured, his hand smoothing the damp bangs back from Frodo’s face.
“No apology is necessary, My Lord,” Frodo gasped, “I just think ‘Ringbearer’ is more descriptive of a ‘thing’ and not a living being.” Frodo’s efforts at speaking were too much for the hobbit and he began coughing violently. Elrond turned him on his side as Balorin produced a basin. As Frodo choked and fought for each breath, a bloody plug of mucus mixed with bile dribbled into the basin. Elrond gave two sharp strikes with the heel of his hand to Frodo’s back, causing the hobbit to jerk in pain but it cleared his airway and once again, a wheezing breath was taken.
Frodo closed his eyes and slumped over Elrond’s forearm, drained. Elrond wrung out a cool cloth, wiped Frodo’s mouth then placed another folded cloth on the hobbit’s brow.
“Water, Frodo?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Frodo said weakly.
The elf lifted Frodo’s shoulders and offered the cup and Frodo could not help gulping greedily, trying to clear the sour taste of vomit from his mouth. Elrond withdrew the cup, telling him to sip only, which the hobbit did fearing the cup would be removed. Finally settled, Elrond turned back to Balorin. “As I was saying…”
“I am sorry I interrupted, my Lord. I also apologize for interrupting you a second time,” Frodo said with a wan smile.
Elrond returned the smile as he finished his instructions, “…add Athelas to the water, the vapor should help the Ring…Frodo, breathe easier. Leave him thus until the water grows uncomfortably cool then return him to his bed. I also think an alcohol massage is in order,” he finished. Balorin nodded and withdrew and soon a line of elves entered and began preparing the bath.
“What can I do, Elrond?” Bilbo asked, wringing his hands. No one save the old hobbit, Gandalf and a handful of Elders called Elrond by his first name, yet Elrond was not offended by the familiarity. The old hobbit was a dear friend and had proven to be a wise and knowledgeable confidant over the years.
“If you would undress him and wash him down with the cool water, Bilbo that would be most helpful. I must prepare a cordial for your charge…”
“No…no cordial,” Frodo moaned.
“…and will return shortly.” Elrond departed in a swirl of silk robes.
Bilbo undressed Frodo and began washing him in the cool water, “My poor, dear boy,” he tutted quietly. Soon the bath was ready and Balorin approached.
“May I, Master Baggins?”
“Of course, of course,” Bilbo replied, dropping the rag into the water. Balorin easily lifted and carried the sick hobbit to the bath as Bilbo walked alongside the two, holding Frodo’s feverish hand. The healer knelt beside the tub and slowly lowered Frodo in. Frodo sighed in relief feeling as if flames were being quenched all over his body by the enveloping water. He could almost imagine he lay under the old oak on top of Bag End. Suddenly he was there, his back cool on the ground, looking up into the canopy of the ancient tree. It was summer and the air rang with the low buzzing of insects and utter stillness of the stifling heat. Yet, in the shade, he was almost too cool making him relish the sanctuary all the more. He reached beside him, picking up a forgotten book of children’s folk tales he had borrowed from Bilbo’s vast library.
“Frodo,” he heard. “It’s time to come in, lad” Bilbo’s voice called.
“In a moment, Uncle, I am much too comfortable to leave just now,” Frodo called back.
“No, my boy, it’s time to return to bed, my lad. Come along now.”
Return? Bilbo was standing at his side now, the Sun backlit the hobbit and Frodo couldn’t see his features, but he knew his Uncle was smiling down at him nonetheless. “No, Uncle, I want to stay here for a time. It’s so nice and cool,” Frodo said irritably.
“Nonsense, a nice soft bed awaits you. There now, come along,” Bilbo whispered. Frodo felt himself being lifted and placed carefully out in the Sun.
“Bilbo, it’s too hot,” he groused. For some reason he continued to just lie in the Sun instead of rising and moving back into the shade. A cool glass of water materialized and he drank deeply.
“I know my boy, I am sorry…”
Frodo opened his eyes and stared. Bag End and the old familiar oak, the coolness of the shade, the little acorns that had pressed into his back as he had lain there, that had all felt so REAL, but it was gone, all gone, no more than a dream. He was in Rivendell, ill and in bed. A crushing wave of despair assailed him and a single tear slipped down his cheek. How he had taken his life for granted. The beauty and peacefulness of the Shire—he had not truly appreciated it and now he was so far away, perhaps never to return.
“My poor boy,” Bilbo crooned, wiping the tear away with a cool cloth.
Frodo turned his face into the pillow, closing his eyes as he thought about the delightful shade and utter peace he had experienced however briefly. A small smile touched his lips, pleased that he was yet able to have such a precious memory to keep with him.
Elrond slowly blended the butterbur and wood spurge into the sweet milk. He dipped his finger into the concoction and tasted it, grimaced and added more honey. He would never admit that the good natured barbs about his tonics tasting so nasty had bothered him but decided to *try* to make them more palatable nonetheless. Frodo was renowned for his resistance to Elrond’s cordials and tonics and Elrond had no desire to see the Ringbearer…Frodo, he corrected mentally with a smile, upset or excited. Satisfied, he poured the warm mixture into a teapot, covered it with a cozy and turned to leave. He turned towards the door then stopped and turned back, gathered a pinch of Valerian root powder and adding it to the teapot, giving it a stir. ‘He has already had enough excitement for the day, some rest is in order,’ he thought to himself. His eye trailed along the counter and lit on the innocuous looking bottle of White Lily tincture. His mouth went suddenly dry and his hands shook as they, seemingly of their own volition, moved to the bottle. ‘NO,’ his mind screamed, yet he proceeded to open the bottle, dispensing one small drop of the liquid into the cordial, ignoring the still small voice that warned him to do otherwise. He stood there for a moment deep in thought, ‘It will be alright, ‘it is but a drop,’ he tried to reassure himself, feeling uncharacteristically unsure of himself. He schooled his features and left the room.
“Hold him steady,” Gandalf’s voice boomed. The elves surrounded Aragorn’s bed, holding the wild man down. Aragorn’s eyes moved relentlessly around the room keeping each foe in sight as he struggled to free himself. The injuries to his leg ignored, he kicked with all his might at the elves, landing a blow to one elf who ventured too close to the Ranger’s feet. The elf held his ground even though blood dribbled down from his broken nose. “His jaw!” Gandalf demanded. Two elves captured the man’s twisting head, holding him firmly whilst another pried open the jaw. Gandalf slipped a healthy dollop of poppy paste under the Ranger’s tongue then the elf held the jaw closed until the man’s eyes began to lose focus. He still struggled weakly then his efforts waned until, finally, he stilled, eyes closed. Everyone in the room breathed out in relief and Gandalf smiled at the group. “Well done, you have my thanks on behalf of my friend, for your efforts,” he said with a little bow. The elves bowed in turn and quit the room. The elf with the broken nose remained as well as another. “Cella? You should be attended to,” Gandalf said.
“I am well, my Lord, this is the second time I have received a broken nose from worthy adversaries. Both will do well to have such strength when traveling to the dark realm. It is my own fault for daring to come within striking distance of their feet,” he said with a small smile.
“Indeed,” Gandalf’s bushy eyebrows rose. “And who, may I ask, dealt the first blow?”
The elf colored while the other looked down, grinning. “The Ringbearer, my Lord,” he said softly.
“As you said, both are worthy adversaries and hobbit feet are their best defense mechanism, there is no shame in admitting that.”
“Thank you, my Lord,” the elf said as he turned away to gather a sheet. Gandalf smiled as he winked at the other elf, causing the elf to almost lose control and break out into laughter.
The younger elf turned back and nodded to his smirking brother and together they pulled a light blanket up to Aragorn’s neck. On top of this they lay the sheet and began pouring ice onto it. Once finished the Ranger resembled more a frozen mountain slope than the future King of Gondor. Elrond approached silently and it was Gandalf’s turn to give a startled jump. Elrond smiled to himself at catching the Maia off guard for a change. Outwardly he looked as stoic as ever but for the twinkle in his eyes. “How has he been?” he asked to no one in particular. Gandalf knew that Elrond already *knew* how the Ranger had been and of the great fight the Ranger had mustered against an army of elves moments earlier. Nothing within the boundaries of Rivendell’s vast lands escaped the awareness of the elf Lord. But Elrond could be quite intimidating, as the elf knew, so he gave his men an opening in which to speak with him in an attempt at making him seem more approachable.
“The hallucinations have increased in strength and duration, my Lord Elrond,” the elf with broken nose said nervously. Elrond frowned and walked over to the Cella, tipping the elves head to the left then the right.
“I see that they have indeed,” Elrond said flatly. He reached up to the elf’s face and Cella jerked back a step. A stern look from Elrond and a raised eyebrow were all it took for Cella to move back to where he had been, closing his eyes. “It will hurt a little, Cella,” he said casually “but as I recall, you already are aware of that.” The young elf blushed furiously as his companion burst out into loud laughter. Elrond shot him a scathing look, silencing him immediately. Elrond placed his fingers on both sides of the elf’s nose and jerked slightly. Cella had been distracted, watching the other elf blanch at his Lord’s glare. It made the young elf feel vindicated and…
“Ouch!” he exclaimed, followed by a deep blush at his outburst over such a minor thing as a broken nose. Elrond gave him a small smile and reached over to a nearby table taking up a roll of tape. “Truly, my Lord, that is not necessary,” Cella stammered.
“Ah but it is, Cella. This is the second break in the same spot. It must be secured or you will have a badly bent nose to have to explain to everyone over your long lifespan.” Cella stilled, he would be a laughing stock for now but the idea of being one for his whole life, which could be many thousands of years, made him comply with the treatment and he stilled, allowing Elrond to finish. “You should place a cold compress on it and rest,” Elrond murmured. Knowing that this was not a request but a dismissal, Cella nodded and thanked him with a bow before departing. When a significant amount of time had passed for the elf to be out of earshot Elrond and Gandalf shared a small chuckle. The second elf who remained did not join in.
“Poor Cella, he is still so young that things of this nature seem of utmost importance, ah to be that young again,” Elrond whispered.
Gandalf smiled, “Yes, to be utterly innocent of the world would be a delight again, would it not?”
Elrond smiled then turned to the other elf. “Pray finish Master Cella’s recounting, Serra,” he said brusquely.
“Yes, my Lord,” Serra said, all trace of his previous mirth vanquished from his face. “Lord Aragorn was trying to hit and kick us violently, my Lord. He used both legs,” he added slowly.
Elrond’s eyes went to his son. “Remove the ice over the injured leg,” he commanded. Elrond quickly unwrapped the leg and sighed in relief once he had examined it. “It is unharmed,” he said gratefully. Noticing the bluish tinge to Aragorn’s lips he bent to check the Ranger’s breathing and temperature. “How long has he been under the ice?”
“Some half hour, my Lord,” Serra said nervously.
Elrond nodded, “Remove the ice and bundle him. See that the linens are freshened and we will have to continue to restrain him,” he said. “I have made a wormwood oil ointment for the sores which should help speed their healing. I also have a mullein and coltsfoot tea to ease his breathing and perhaps clear the infection from his lungs. It does not always work on cases of lung fever, but it should be tried nonetheless,” he finished.
Gandalf nodded in agreement knowing the benefits of coltsfoot tea were well known. Were it to have little or no effect they would move onto other remedies. The elf began removing the ice as Balorin entered the room and began assisting him. In quick elvish Serra relayed Elrond’s instructions to the Master Healer and the elf nodded in understanding. Balorin left the room returning a moment later with six elves. They lined up along both sides of Aragorn’s body and with a nod lifted the Ranger smoothly from the bed. They stood thus as the sheets and comforters were quickly changed then slowly lowered him back onto the bed. After he had been made as comfortable as possible, Elrond moved to his foster son’s side. He placed a cool hand on Aragorn’s forehead and closed his eyes. After a few moments he opened them again and gave Gandalf a small smile. “His fever is reduced somewhat whether from the tea or the bath I am uncertain but it is a good sign. Now we must do something that is hard for someone so ill. We must pound on his back in an attempt to expel the infection from his lungs.
Gandalf grimaced, it was an unpleasant procedure but known to be quite effective at easing the patient’s breathing and speeding their recovery. Elrond nodded to the elves and they carefully rolled Aragorn onto his side, mindful of the broken leg. Balorin sat down on the bed and began pounding vigorously on the Ranger’s back.
Aragorn’s eyes shot open and his hands grasped onto the sheets and mattress as if to firmly anchor himself. “Aghh,” he cried. “Stop…please, stop,” he cried then began to cough deeply producing a thick mucus which was forced from his lungs into an awaiting basin.
Many rooms away down the long hallway, Frodo was sleeping restlessly. He had dutifully drank his tea and taken his cordial then demanded Sam turn in and get some much needed rest. The gardener had resisted mightily, but his Master had *ordered* him to bed and Sam could never disobey an order from Frodo. The shades had been pulled and the room’s doors stood open to a balcony allowing a cool breeze to freshen the sick room. It felt lovely and before long Frodo had slipped into exhausted sleep. But his dreams were chaotic, jumping from one scenario to another in rapid succession. The one prevailing sequence involved an injured Strider being held against his will and tortured by his captors. Frodo’s body trembled and his brow furrowed as his head moved restlessly on the pillow. “No..no,” he muttered to himself knowing that he could help the Ranger if he could only slip past the enemy guards to Aragorn’s side. He would cut the bindings and free the Ranger and could, perhaps, even secrete a knife within the Ranger’s hand so the man could defend himself and escape.
A cry of agony rent the air and Frodo’s eyes snapped open as he jerked fully awake. He knew from whom the cry originated, “Aragorn,” he cried out. He carefully slipped from the bed, staggering a step ‘before regaining his balance. ‘I am so weak…so tired, and my head feels so muzzy. No one else was in the room and for that he was grateful. He stopped as a thought occurred to him, “‘How ever will I slip past the guards?” he said out loud and rather forlornly. ‘And like a burglar, I slipped right past the guards and they were none the wiser…’* Frodo smiled at the commonly told tale “Of course! If Bilbo could do it then why not Frodo Baggins?” He grabbed the Ring from the chain about his neck. It was strangely warm in his hand, “I shouldn’t…Gandalf said to never put it on,” he said to himself. ‘But this is an emergency, Frodo,’ a small voice intruded that was not his own. ‘Aragorn is in danger and if you do not help him they will kill him…’ it continued. Convinced that Aragorn’s very life was in his hands, he grasped the Ring, slipping it onto his forefinger, disappearing. He opened the door and headed slowly down the hallway towards Aragorn’s room.
*This is a paraphrased version of Bilbo’s tale in the Hobbit. I do not have a copy of the book handy as I am on vacation so I am posting it as a paraphrase.
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