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The Honorary Hobbit  by lovethosehobbits

Chapter 19

Stubborn and Stubboner

Elrond went to the basin and washed his hands and forearms thoroughly, but did not dry them. He nodded to Balorian who poured a pungent liquid over Frodo’s bared shoulder then directed the light over the exposed limb. Elrond sat near the bed and selected a slender blade from the tray. “He will likely feel this on some level. I cannot give him any further sleep inducing drugs due to his diminished lung function Gandalf, so you will need to hold him steady while I work.” Gandalf nodded in understanding, his face filled with pity. Elrond bent to the task and made a cut, reopening the dark wound that forever would mark the pale, white skin. Frodo lurched away, crying out, but did not fully awaken.

Aragorn heard the cry and a burst of adrenaline caused him to push himself up until he was sitting and could easily view the surgery. “Father, please let me assist,” he cried.

“Estel, you will be silent or I shall have you removed. Even now, I allow you to remain out of courtesy and respect of your feelings of protectiveness towards the Ringbearer,” Elrond said, never turning to look at the man. Aragorn forced himself to keep quiet, understanding how delicate the procedure was and not wanting to further distract the elf Lord. “Ah... see? An abscess has formed,” Elrond murmured to Gandalf, “A rather large one at that.”

He pulled the two edges open wider as Gandalf pressed down trying to restrain the hobbit. “Easy, my boy, it will be over soon,” he crooned into the pointed ear.

Frodo turned towards the much loved voice but continued to struggle, kicking his legs and swinging his head back and forth on the pillows. Elrond paused and shot a glare at his assistant, “Please see that he is still,” he chided softly.

“Yes, my Lord,” the young elf said, blushing.

Elrond again bent over the shoulder, “He is stronger than he looks,” he said by way of apology to the elf. Elrond nicked the abscess, forcing out the bloody pus. Balorian handed him a large wad of gauze and Elrond mopped the area thoroughly. “Balorian, the tincture, please,” he said without looking up. It was placed in his hand almost before the words had left his lips and Elrond smiled to himself at the elf’s foresight. He flushed the open wound with the liquid as Balorian sponged up the fluid before it could flow onto the sheets. The shoulder was the color of rusty metal by the time he had finished. He rinsed it a total of three times to ensure the wound was free of infection. A gauze pouch materialized in the air to his left and the elf Lord looked up at Balorian and gave the man a thankful smile. “Thank you, my friend.” It still amazed Elrond that Balorian possessed some strange ability to sense what he needed before he voiced it. With sudden clarity he realized it was much the same with the small gardener and the Ringbearer. He placed the pouch where the abscess had been moments previous and stitched the wound closed, leaving a small opening at the bottom where the tie to the pouch protruded. Once the wound was well on its way to being healed the bag of herbs would be pulled free of the surgical site and the skin would close over the small opening. Elrond gently washed the shoulder with antiseptic and stood, crossing to the basin to wash his hands. Afterwards, he dried them on a clean towel and went back to the bedside where Balorian was dressing the wound, and checked the Ringbearer’s pulse and breathing.

“How is his breathing? There seems to have been substantial blood loss looking at the toweling. What is his pulse? Is it elevated? Perhaps we should give him a pain killer to ensure he is more comfortable. Balorian, don’t forget to prop his arm and shoulder up on some pillows.”

Elrond shook his head as he grinned at Gandalf and Balorian, who wore similar grins. He turned towards Aragorn who sat perched on the side of the bed. A healer had propped the broken leg up on a pillow on a chair. Aragorn’s arms quaked with the effort to remain upright and he was very pale as his eyes roved over Frodo’s form.

“He is breathing shallowly, which he has been doing all along, despite my admonishments to do otherwise. There was significant blood loss, but we will keep him calm and give him fluids to help him regain what he has lost. His pulse is slightly elevated but that is to be expected considering how agitated he was, and it will return to normal while he is sedated. I will wait until he awakens to judge whether he requires additional pain killers. And, as you can see, Balorian has already padded and propped the arm up on pillows. Was there anything else, Estel?”

Aragorn blushed crimson before asking quietly, “How is his fever?”

Elrond burst out laughing and Gandalf and Balorian joined in.  Elrond’s face became serious again, “It is higher than I would like. Deara will continue to bathe him in cool water. Now that the source of the fever is known and has been dealt with, he should be able to fight off the pneumonia and finally heal.” He sighed,” Now I need to see to my more troublesome patients,” he said with a glare.

Years of living under that very glare caused Aragorn’s stomach to roil. He laid back and prepared himself for the lecture he knew was to come. Elrond sat gracefully down beside the Ranger’s bed, “It is at times like these that I wish I had taken up smoking, Gandalf,” he said softly. Gandalf chuckled as he made himself more comfortable beside Frodo’s bedside. He took out his pipe but at a glance from Balorian, decided better of it.


“I will talk, you will listen, Estel,” Elrond said shortly. The elf Lord took a deep breath before he spoke, “What were you thinking?” he boomed. When Aragorn attempted to answer, Elrond held up his hand, “It was a rhetorical question. If you had fallen you could have crippled yourself for life. You do not seem to understand the gravity of your situation, my son. Odds are against you already of walking without a limp.” Aragorn’s eyes widened. “This was a severe break happening as it did, directly beneath the knee. It has been too soon to place any pressure or even for you to change position, for it to heal properly. I will examine it to ensure you have done no further harm, but unless you wish to forever walk with a cane and are unable to rest at night due to the ache in the limb, you will promise me that you will remain immobile until I say otherwise,” he said loudly. “I ask this out of love and concern for your own well-being, Estel. Please do not challenge my trust in you,” he added softly.

Elrond’s words struck a chord with the Ranger and he was touched by the concern on the face of his foster father. “I will do as you ask, Ada. I am sorry I caused you concern but I did promise Frodo that I would protect him, and to that I hold.”

“And why would you think we would allow any harm to befall him? His care is of utmost concern to all who dwell here,” Elrond asked.

“I heard him cry out,” Aragorn started to explain, but realized how foolish he must sound.  His face fell, “I was not thinking clearly, Ada. I knew only that he was in distress and I needed to see for myself that he was being attended to,” he said quietly.

Elrond sighed as he rose slowly and folded back the blankets covering the broken leg. He frowned, as he saw how swollen the leg appeared above the break. He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer for both patience and that the limb would have no further damage.

He unwrapped the bandages slowly and looked closely at the break. He palpated the swelling causing Aragorn to draw in a hissed breath. The leg was red, perhaps due to the change in position but he could not detect a source of infection or smell, so he attributed the general puffiness to Aragorn’s stressing the limb before it was healed properly.  He felt along the break, feeling the knitting bones beneath his fingers. He glanced at Aragorn and saw the jaw muscles jump as the man tried not to cry out. A light sheen of perspiration lay beaded on his foster son’s brow.

Elrond turned to Balorian and whispered a request. With a nod the healer left the room, returning moments later with a steaming surgical tray. Aragorn’s eyes widened and he laid his head back and grit his teeth, preparing himself for the worst. “Hold steady, Estel,” Elrond murmured. He quickly cut two of the stitches on the end of the incision and popped open the cut. Aragorn groaned but did not move. Elrond sprinkled some powdered arnica over the opening and gently squeezed the newly opened wound but nothing came forth. He took a small suture needle and meticulously restitched the opening before looking up at Aragorn, whose eyes were closed tightly. Elrond retrieved a hot towel from Balorian and wrapped it loosely around the leg. After examining his work he pulled a light coverlet over the limb. “Change the toweling every half hour and monitor him closely for fever,” he instructed. Balorian nodded that he understood. “Now we need to see to your comfort, Estel, then we will give you a tea to help you to rest…and keep you in bed,” Elrond said with a faint smile.

“I do not need anything for pain, Ada,” Aragorn said softly, his features saying otherwise.

“Hmm…nonetheless you will receive something and you will take it. There is no shame in requiring a painkiller. Pain is not a weakness, Estel,” the elf Lord said simply.

They removed the blankets below Aragorn’s waist and unfastened the make shift nappy. Aragorn’s coloring deepened at the indignantly. “I do not see why I am forced to endure this. I am perfectly able to see to my own needs.”

“I am sure Master Baggins would feel the same yet he too is attired thusly.”

“That is different. Frodo is not well enough to be up and about…”

“NO, it is NO different,” Elrond boomed, causing Aragorn to flinch.

“You have already proven what damage can be done by being “up and about!” You will do as I say, Estel, or face my wrath, which you know about from when you were a child in this Vale.”

Aragorn’s mouth snapped shut at the rebuke as Balorian washed his nether regions with a warm towel then placed a clean nappy around him. “You will remain still and supine. I will not tolerate further insolence. Later, I will enlist the hobbits to give you a bed bath and…” Aragorn’s eyes widened as he began to sputter a reply. “…you will accept their attentions graciously. They have offered this small token of their care and concern for a dear friend whom they love and admire and you will accept it in the spirit in which it was given,” Elrond said brusquely. Aragorn relaxed, realizing that his friends needed to care for someone just by the very nature of being hobbits. Since Frodo was already being tended to and they had been given limited access to him, he understood that, as their friend, they would naturally turn to him and his needs.

Elrond bent to within a few inches of his face, “If I hear of any further compliance issues Estel, I will have you sedated for the duration of your convalescence,” his foster father said threateningly. A look at Elrond’s face and his serious expression caused Aragorn’s stomach to lurch. He had never seen the elf Lord ‘joke’ about much of anything and he had no doubt that the threat was real and not to be challenged. Elrond turned with a sweep of his robes and strode from the room.

Balorian retrieved some stew and a slice of bread from the fire, placed it on a tray and pulled a table up to Aragorn’s bed. He raised the man’s head and shoulders, propping him up with pillows.

“Allow me, my good elf,” he heard from behind him.

“Of course, Mithrandir, I will retire to my laboratory unless you require anything else?” Gandalf waved the man away and Balorian shot the wizard a pitying look and rare smile as if to say, ‘better you than me’.

Gandalf returned the smile with a wink and made himself comfortable beside the Ranger. He stirred the stew before lifting a spoonful to Aragorn’s lips. Aragorn swallowed dutifully and had to admit that it tasted wonderful. “I can do this myself, Gandalf,” he said.

“Hmmph…I wonder,” Gandalf murmured. “Very well, I will leave you to it then, my friend.” He placed the tray across Aragorn’s lap, feigning indifference, as he pulled his pipe from his robes. He watched the Ranger out of the corner of his eye as he pretended to study his pipe, knowing he could not smoke in the room. Aragorn seemed barely able to lift his arms and with shaking hands, he tried to collect a spoonful of the stew. His forehead was creased in concentration as he lifted the spoon slowly towards his mouth. The spoon fell back into the bowl with a clatter, splashing stew over the coverlet. Aragorn uttered an oath and Gandalf smiled.

“It is frustrating to be so weak and helpless,” the Ranger bit out.

“It is indeed, but we have all been there. The trick is to know when to ask for help or to *accept* it when it is offered,” the wizard said softly. He replaced his pipe in his pocket, took up the spoon and began to feed the man. This time Aragorn accepted the help gratefully. Once finished, Gandalf retrieved the tea Balorian had left warming by the fire. He touched the cup to Aragorn’s lips but the Ranger turned away. “Remember Elrond’s instructions, my boy, or do you truly wish to lie insensate when perhaps Frodo needs you most?”

Aragorn looked over at Frodo who lay in much the same position as before, the pale forehead creased in pain, before opening his mouth and swallowing the tea. His eyes never left his roommate even when they became unfocused and distant. Once the tea was gone a spoonful of the medicinal strawberry concoction was slipped between his lips which he swallowed reflexively.  Gandalf eased the pillows out from behind the man and made him comfortable. Soon Aragorn’s eyes slipped closed and at last, he slept.

Gandalf sighed, “Spare me from stubborn hobbits and humans,” he mumbled. He nodded to the remaining elf and left the room to finally have a smoke.

Long hours later the same elf knocked on Elrond’s door. The elf Lord slowly opened his eyes. He had been resting in the manner of the elves and enjoying a tranquil stroll in his mind, through a verdant valley. He rose from his chair and opened the door.

“My Lord, Aragorn’s fever has risen,” the elf said briefly before turning and walking back to Aragorn’s room.

Elrond pinched the bridge of his nose. He was weary and these two patients were beginning to not only tax his strength but his patience as well. He followed the elf healer to Aragorn and Frodo’s room and stopped at Aragorn’s bedside. The man twisted in the bed, first pulling the blankets up then pushing them away as he tried to become more comfortable, groaning as the heat rolled off of him.

Elrond placed his hand across Aragorn’s forehead and the Ranger stilled briefly, relishing the coolness. “Estel,” Elrond whispered. “Estel,” he said more loudly, but the man merely batted him away as he would an annoying insect. Gandalf sat silently by the bedside, his unlit pipe resting in his hands. “How long has he been like this?” Elrond asked.

“Less than an hour, my Lord,” the healer replied.

Elrond pushed aside the blankets and examined the leg but not seeing any further swelling, he recovered it. “Sponge him down and try to get some liquids into him. If his condition worsens we will take more drastic measures,” he instructed. The healer nodded and set about retrieving what was needed. Elrond washed his hands before going to Frodo’s bedside. “How does he fare?” he asked Deara who sat beside the hobbit with a cloth and basin of water.

“He is in some pain, my Lord, and has developed a fever as well,” she said as she washed Frodo’s torso and arms.

“This is to be expected, but if it rises significantly, call me. We need to coax some liquids into him plus the pain killing teas, if he can be roused.”

“I will try, my Lord. Balorian is already bringing me some tea for both Frodo and Aragorn,” she replied.

“Very well, but if we are unable to get them to drink it, we will have to take other measures to ensure they remain hydrated and get the medicines they need.”

Deara winced, knowing of what the Lord of Imladris referred to. Should either patient awaken while Elrond was conducting the procedure there would be a war to rival the second age. “I worry that the fever will linger and further weaken him,” she whispered.

Gandalf stood beside Elrond and looked down at the hobbit lad who was so dear to him. “He is a stubborn and willful Baggins, I have no doubt he will recover fully, my dear,” he chuckled. He looked at Elrond closely, “and how are you, my friend?”

Elrond smiled, “Wondering about your soon-to-be journey across Middle Earth with such stubborn and contrary traveling companions, Mithrandir.”

The smile fled the wizard’s face as he glanced between the two patients. “Hmm…I may have been hasty in volunteering my services,” he murmured. Elrond left the room but as he walked down the hallway, Gandalf heard the elf erupt into uncharacteristic laughter.


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