Gift of the Valar - Chapter 12: The Way of Pain
Gandalf and Prody carried on against the raging fever all the next day until Prody was also near collapse. There was no help for it, Gandalf was forced to bring Sam up from #3 and he was moved into the guest room while Prody and Bilbo recovered their strength. Sam proved to be a tireless worker and easily adjusted his own sleeping patterns to fit the needs of his friend. He cleverly devised a system of filling oilskin pouches with water which he would leave outside to freeze and he used them to pack around Frodo when the fever spiked.
As days 4 and 5 slipped past Sam watched his friend anxiously, but came to believe that the worst of the fevering was behind them. Sam was right, but on the day the fever broke he found himself wishing it had not left so soon. The delirium from the fever had masked the pain of the skull fracture and as the fever left the pain set in. Now Frodo moaned and tossed in endless agony, and though he remained unconcious, his body's pain was horrible to witness. Prody, Gandalf and Bilbo all struggled to bring Frodo back to a concious state hoping to give him herbal concoctions to help with the pain. Sam left the room on more than one occassion with tears in his eyes from watching his friend suffer so.
However, if any of them had thought that days of fever or pain wracked motions during unconcious slumber were bad, nothing prepared them for the day Frodo finally opened his eyes. It was early morning, Prody had gone home to gather more herbs and Bilbo was sleeping in his room while Gandalf dozed in front of the fire in the study. Sam was resting his eyes in the armchair by Frodo's bedside when he was suddenly brought out of his restful state by a loud crash. Sam started awake to see a bleary eyed Frodo sitting up and staring wildly around the room, his bandaged hands were busily trying to unwrap the dressing from his head as he, in his pain wracked motions, knocked over the water pitcher by his bed.
Sam jumped up and tried to restrain his friend "No Mr. Frodo....leave it be sir...it's fer yer own good to have the dressings on..." Sam grunted as he tried to hold Frodo's hands down. Gandalf reached the room as Sam was nearly atop Frodo, who was groaning with pain and had nearly succeeded in removing his bandages. Frodo dripped with sweat from his struggles, not a meaningful word or sound came from him, only moans and whimpers. Sam stared in horror as Frodo gave up trying to remove the bandages with his hands and proceeded to slam his head back into the pillows as he thrashed this way and that, desperately trying to free himself of the agony of the dressing that encumbered his head. "Frodo, stop it...please...yer just hurtin' yerself worse...please stop it...yer outta...yer head sir...please" Sam pleaded as he tried again to use his body to still his friend's frenetic activitiy. Gandalf took one look at the situation and went to the table by the window to grab some bandages and started to tie Frodo to the bed.
Bilbo appeared in the doorway "What in the name of Arda is goin on here?" he asked. Gandalf continued his task "Sam" the wizard grunted "hold him still"
Sam looked to Gandalf "What are ye doing? Have ye taken leave of yer senses? " the hobbit lad asked his voice reflecting his horror at Gandalf's actions "Hold him still Sam, I am nearly done" the wizard said. Frodo continued to try and move his head from side to side but at last his body was restrained by the bandages where Gandalf had tied his arms, legs and waist to the bed. Bilbo, seeing at last what Gandalf was trying to accomplish brought two more pillows and gently placing them on either side of Frodo's head tied one more wide strip of bandage around the pillows and over his nephew's forehead, fastening them to the bed as well. Frodo looked to his Uncle, tears of pain and betrayal running down his face. He shut his eyes and let the silent tears stream down his cheeks.
Bilbo looked down at the wasted figure beside him " I am sorry my boy....it's for your own good Frodo, don't you see?" he said sadly as he wiped a tear from Frodo's cheek. Frodo stiffened at the touch but refused to open his eyes to look at any of them. "Why Gandalf? Why?" Bilbo whispered. Gandalf was checking the tightness of the restraints and he turned to Bilbo and said "He is, as Sam so elegantly phrased it, 'out of his head' with pain...we must do our best to keep him still." Bilbo continued to stand by Frodo's side, he reached down and brushed his hand through Frodo's sweat drenched curls "Settle lad, it will get better....I promise" Frodo's eyes opened and he looked at his Uncle, blue eyes seething with anger. Then he closed them again, silent tears falling as he bit his lip, to contain his pain, until a trickle of blood was seen.
Gandalf moved to the head of the bed to check on the damages to Frodo's dressings and he swore softly under his breath "by Arda, now he's done it....go fetch Prody Bilbo....quickly, I'm afraid he'll be needing more stiching" the wizard said as he pointed to a growing stain of blood on the pillow.
Sam brought over an infusion of pain killer and sleeping draught that Prody had gotten ready earlier. Together Sam and Gandalf tried to get Frodo to open his mouth, to no avail. Finally, Gandalf was able to force Frodo's lips open and quickly Sam thrust the flask into the Hobbit's mouth and tipping it managed to get some of into his mouth. Frodo coughed, sputtered and spit most of it right at Gandalf.
Sam was taken aback by Frodo's behavior, this was not the sweet, gentle companion of days past. "Mr. Frodo, please" Sam pleaded "please take some of this into ya....we're just wantin' to help ya" Frodo stared bleary eyed at Sam and shook his head ever so slightly as tears continued to come from his eyes...but he did try once at Sam's request to take some of the infusion into his mouth. Frodo coughed and sputtered some more as the medicine dribbled from his lips...he was unable to swallow.
Just then Prody came in accompanied by Bilbo..."now, now....what's this all about?" the healer demanded He examined the head wound as Gandalf held the hobbit's head still. "yes, he'll need more stitching....there'd best be no more stunts like this young Baggins" the healer admonished the Hobbit. Prody readied his supplies and with Sam holding Frodo's hand and Gandalf steadying the head, Prody began to stitch. The injured Hobbit could stand the pain no more and his eyes rolled back into his head as he lost his battle with conciousness. Prody began to re-dress the wound when he finished stiching, but first he showed Gandalf the swelling. "His pain comes from the swelling, but we don't know what part of his brain is being afflicted by it...so we must keep the dressing on to keep the swelling down...or there's no telling what he'll be left with" the healer finished grimly.
Sam ran his hand along Frodo's cheek "Can we not loosen it a little, it brings him such pain" he whispered. Sam was scared "I can not stand ta see him like this"..he sniffed loudly. "Sam, we can't loosen it lad....the swelling will get worse and then we may lose him" the healer said sadly.
Bilbo joined in "we need to get some medicine into him...why does he spit it back?" Prody paused "Well, can't say for sure...may be his throat is injured as well...if only I could get the medicines past his throat...." the healer pondered the situation.
Gandalf had an idea, something he'd seen his friend, the master Healer Elrond do with a soldier who'd had his throat hurt in battle. "Bilbo" the wizard said "I once saw Elrond cut an opening here", he pointed to the notched area of Frodo's breast bone "and then us the hole with a tube of sorts to provide nourishment to a soldier wounded in battle. It could be dangerous, but may be our only choice. What do you think Prody?" The wizard asked. Bilbo was skeptical, but he knew Elrond to be a master of healing "Well Prody, old friend...is this something you're up to trying?" he asked.
Prody paused for only a moment "I'll not sit by and watch any patient of mine suffer so Bilbo Baggins, not while there is a cure that yet may be attempted." The healer said hotly " Especially this one...who saved my Chrys and the Gaffer's Mari...no, this one we save at all costs" he said determinedly. Prody busied himself finding the right knife and dressings " Gandalf" the healer said " I'd ask you to stay and Bilbo as well....I'll need yer help holding the lad down, but Sam my boy...you may not want to see this" he said gently.
Sam looked at Frodo and he felt his resolve harden "No, I'm staying...ye can't make me leave....Mr. Frodo may yet need me" he said. "Very well" Prody said and after soaking the knife in brandy and hot water he motioned to Sam and Bilbo to hold Frodo's shoulder's down. He unbuttoned Frodo's nightshirt and taking a deep breath plunged the knife carefully into the notched area at the base of Frodo's throat. Frodo's eyes flew open and his back arched as his body convulsed in pain....but Bilbo and Sam held him gently down as Gandalf held steady his head. Frodo's blue eyes were awash with pain, anger and betrayal. Sam tried to talk to him "Frodo" he said urgently "lie still as ye can...Prody's gonna help ye take the medicine ye can not swallow" then he added as he read his friend's thoughts "he's not trying to hurt ye sir, he's trying to save ya." Sam watched Frodo intently and then realized that his thoughts and message had gotten through as he saw Frodo trying to relax and quiet his body. Frodo clenched his eyes closed and readied himself for Prody's next move....this next cut proved more than he could bear and he slipped once more into his unconcious slumber.
Sam wiped a tear from his own eyes and sighing heavily he sat abruptly down by Frodo's bedside and sat upon the floor. He rested his head on the side of the bed and closed his eyes briefly. The movement of Sam's head upon the bedside caused Frodo's bandaged hand to slip off of the covering and land gently on Sam's shoulder. Sam looked up and taking Frodo's bandaged hand in his own, he stroked it carefully and thoughtfully as Prody set about fashioning a tube to be used for Frodo's throat. As Sam quietly sat and held his friend's hand a flood of images came to his weary mind...he knew suddenly he was one with his friend and his memories...the scene at the sledge hill....sliding down into dark cold water...fighting madly to get through the ice....the biting pain of splinters of ice in his hands....looking up to see the face of one beloved to him....seeing his own face contorted in pain and anger...the gentle release of death...the gentle glimmer of lights upon faces he once held dear...an overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort which filled his very soul and finally, horrifically being ripped from the faces of those he loved....feelings of pain, coldness and fear gripped him as he descended into a world of blackness and emptiness. Sam shook his head a moment as he returned to his own mind and thoughts and he looked with gratitude towards Gandalf.
"I understand now" he whispered so that only the wizard would hear "Thank you...." Gandalf nodded. He knew that for Frodo to survive this newest ordeal he wold need all the strength Sam had to offer. He had briefly transfered his own powers of mind reading to the Hobbit lad setting upon the floor by Frodo's bed. That brief moment gave Sam the strength and knowledge he would need to walk with Frodo through this and many other dark times.
With the hole in Frodo's throat Prody was able to use a variety of herbal infusions and remedies to lessen Frodo's pain and bring him sleep. But, the healing of the head wound was maddingly slow and Sam endured every tear and groan from Frodo with endless displays of compassion. Each day Sam observed his friend's agony he himself became stronger and more certain that somehow their fates were bound together.
While Frodo was still unable to speak, it felt to Sam as if he could at times almost read the thoughts of his friend. What he read there saddened him and brought him no comfort...it was clear to Sam that Frodo was giving up. He felt only sadness at the core of Frodo's being, for each treatment that brought his friend closer to physical health seemed to send his spirit further away. He watched as his Mr. Frodo gained strength and waited to see what choice Frodo's
soul would follow.