Gift of the Valar - Chapter 26:Fading Light
The Gaffer had come back to Bagshot row to seek news of his Master only to find a distraught Sam, begging him to "hurry Da, Frodo's hurt his self....'e needs us". Gaffer pulled Sam quickly up upon the cart and he urged the pony to a cantor as they headed to the bluff. Bilbo sighted the nearing cart "praise Arda, Sam's found a cart" he said as he stroked Frodo's cheek, seeking to bring him comfort. But Frodo did not want comfort, he turned his head away and shuddered with the shock of pain the movement caused him. Prody directed Gaffer, Sam and Bilbo to carefully lift Frodo to the back of the cart and with Sam stabilizing his friend's arm, they set off for Bag End.
The healer was brusque as he spat out commands upon their arrival at the smial. "Sam, fetch hot water from the hearth....Gaffer, carry him to the table in the kitchen and Bilbo clear the table for this is where I'll fix the arm." As Gaffer laid a pale and sweating Frodo upon the table Prody started to mix his sleeping draught. Bilbo, coming back from his gathering of towels, blankets and bandages nodded approvingly as he saw Prody slip a tincture of Belladona to the mixture. He knew that the lad would need to rest for many days before he'd be fit to ride after Chrys. 'Chrys, you poor lass....why did this have to happen?' he asked himself. He had to push the thoughts of the broken hobbit lass from him as he cleared his mind to deal with his charge.
Prody broght the draught to the table and lifted Frodo's head gently to bring the cup to his lips when his wrist was gripped tightly by Frodo's good hand. "No" he said coldly. Bilbo came to his side "Frodo lad, you are injured, quite badly I should say and if you want Prody to do all he is able...why he must have you still." Bilbo insisted. Frodo turned cold and angry blue eyes to his dearest cousin and Uncle...the elderly hobbit who'd brought him into his life. "No" he said emphatically "I'll not be drugged for then I shall be too disabled to go after Gandalf". Bilbo was aghast "Go after Gandalf, my dear boy...if you're lucky Prody will fix your arm that you may someday have use of it again...you'll not be going anywhere for a long while I'd guess" his fear and exhaustion making his voice sound shrill. Frodo's loudly indrawn breath and shaking shoulders told how aware his body was of his pain, but it was his mind that would win out. "No, I will not be drugged....I shall remain perfectly still" he said staring angrily at his Uncle. Bilbo looked in amazement at his stubborn nephew "Now lad..." "Stop it Uncle, just STOP it" Frodo's voice rose and echoed harshly in the now silent room. He squeezed his eyes shut and tensed his lips then opening his eyes once more said "this morning I was old enough to take a wife....I am able to determine what I need."
Bilbo sighed and shook his head "stubborn Baggins" he muttered and then turned and spoke a few words with Prody. Sam took this moment to sidle up to Frodo's and taking his good hand in his "I'll be right 'ere for ya Frodo" he whispered knowingly. Frodo, not looking at Sam, but needing his strength, squeezed his hand in reply. Prody came back to the table. "Now Frodo, this is yer last chance lad....this settin' is gonna be right painful. I've not the strength in me arms ta do it myself...I'll be asking the Gaffer ta do the pulling." he paused and leaned down to whisper in Frodo's ear "Chrys'd not be wantin' ya ta be in pain Frodo." Frodo nodded and turned his head to say " I am not wanting either of us to be in pain, I just want to be able to go to her" he let a lone tear streak down his dirty face "at least feeling pain is feeling something besides fear" he whispered. Prody placed a comforting hand upon The injured Hobbit's shoulder and squeezed it in sympathy. "All right then lad, are ye ready?"
Gaffer took his place at the side of Frodo, Sam remained holding his hand and Bilbo took up position near to his feet...ready to hold them least he start to kick in his agony. Prody readied the herb soaked dressings and stablilizing wrappings and showed the Gaffer where to position his hands to pull most effectively. They all held their breath as Gaffer pulled and twisted the arm with all his strength. Frodo's face broke out in a clammy sweat and he bit down on his lips till they bled, but he moved not at all. After the second try Prody had to admit that the muscles of the arm were tightening from the long hours of no treatment. He pulled Bilbo aside "This 'twill only get worse Bilbo....I'm not sure how much more of this the lad will be able ta stand" he said as he gazed in Frodo's direction.
Frodo was panting heavily after that last attempt. True to his word he had not moved, but his face was pale and his lips were taking on a faint blue tinge from the speed and shallowness of his breaths. Bilbo couldn't stand it "I'll take the blame Prody, just give him the draught." Prody nodded and gestured to Gaffer to stand up by Frodo's head and to lift the hobbit's shoulders when given the signal. Sam, unaware that they were to go against Frodo's wishes, was wiping his friend's forehead with a cool cloth and speaking words of encouragement. Of a sudden, Gaffer lifted Frodo up abruptly as Prody moved with one hand to open Frodo's jaw and with the other to force the liquid in. Bilbo reached across Sam and pinched Frodo's nose shut, placing his other hand over the lad's mouth to force him to swallow. Frodo shot the assembled grown hobbits a look of hatred and disgust as he did indeed swallow the drug laced herb infusion. "Lad, it 'tis for yer own good" Prody tried to reason with him. Bilbo moved to other side of the table and reached to stroke his lank curls....but Frodo jerked his head away "Don't touch me" the angry hobbit hissed "You don't know what is for my good any longer." Bilbo stepped back, clearly hurt and dismayed by his nephew's angry words. As the drug started to take effect Sam looked down to his friend's eyes "Don't let...don't lethem...give me anymore" Frodo slurred as he fell unconcious.
With Frodo's body totally relaxed the Gaffer was able to set Frodo's broken arm after only two more attempts. As Prody saw to the stiching of the arm where the bone had protruded and to the gash upon the dark haired hobbit's head, Sam pulled his Da aside. "Da, that t'weren't fair and ya know it." Gaffer, not liking being corrected by his youngest son nodded anyway, "aye, yer right Sam, but 'tweren't my choice now...this 'twas atween Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo....we'd best stay clear of it." Sam nodded reluctantly, he knew how stubborn his Mr. Frodo could be....he didn't reckon this was going to be an easy rift ta mend.
Sam tried to be about Bag End as much as possible over the next few days, but the Gaffer had clearly been asked to keep him away from Frodo and so he found himself engaged in many chores over the next four days. On the fifth day he was allowed to go and see Frodo. Bilbo met him at the door and brought him into the study "Here, set down will you Sam? Good lad, yes right there is fine " Bilbo nodded absently as Sam looked for where to set and decided upon the sofa. He fiddled with the brim of his cap nervously, not liking the obvious feeling of sadness that hung around the master of Bag End. Bilbo looked quietly at his hands for a few moments and then began to speak " Frodo is still quite angry with me, no matter your opinion Sam of what I should have or shouldn't have done...well, it's over now, and believe me it was in Frodo's best interest." He looked Sam right in the eye "Frodo's been very ill, he spiked a fever and became delirious...he struck out at me and at Prody, trying to leap from his bed to ...well you know what he wanted to do." The elderly hobbit took a deep breath "the thing is Sam, I've had to continue giving him the medicine and we 've taken to restraining him....so he wouldn't hurt himself you see..." Sam stared appalled "Ye've tied 'im ta his bed? Well no sir, I don't....I don't see how ye could do such a thing...and maybe it's not me place sir...me Da will be right angered when he 'ere's what I'm daring ta say ta ya" Sam took a deep breath and with a sudden tear in his eye, he rose and went and kneeled at Bilbo's feet " 'e loves ya Sir, more 'n 'e loves all else...he'd be wanting ya ta know that if it were you 'urt you could count on 'im...you could trust 'em ta come to ya no matter what it was that got in 'is way. Don't ya see sir? " Sam looked up to a teary Bilbo " 'e is a stubborn one Mr. Bilbo....but that's how 'e shows 'is love....the hard way I guess...but it's 'is way...'e loves as big as ya let 'im, but ya gotta take it the way 'e gives it sir, with his whole heart." Sam tentatively reached a hand to Bilbo's knee, only to find himself wrapped in a hug that smelled of Old Toby and ink. "You are right Samwise, I love him so much it hurts me sometimes...and I guess this silly old hobbit was just scared....just downright scared since I've come so close to losing my lad so many times already this past year. Let's go see how he is faring shall we?" and with a ruffle of Sam's honey colored curls they set off to Frodo's room.
There, they found all in a disarray. Prody was, with the help of the Gaffer, trying to carry a trembling and shaking hobbit from the bed to a cooling tub of water. Bilbo quickly rushed to help. "What in the name of Arda has happened Prody? He was getting better a short time ago" Bilbo huffed as he set Frodo in the tub, mindful of keeping his sling and swathed arm from the water. "He's spiking a fever Bilbo, don't know if it's from the break or perhaps a reaction to some of the drugging we've had ta do ta keep him calm."
They worked, the four of them that night to keep Frodo's fever from completely overwhelming him and as morning came the fever broke and Frodo slept.
It was much later that afternoon as Frodo began to finally awaken. He found a grey and exhausted looking Bilbo sleeping in the chair beside him. He tried to lift his head from the pillow, entertaining briefly, the notion that he might follow his heart to Rivendell, but quickly, upon realizing how weak he was, giving up his plan.He found himself recalling his fever induced images, Chrys broken upon the rocks, her ailing body wracked with fever as she rode to Rivendaell, A tall elf laying hands upon her with a tear in his eye. A sob caught in his throat as he realized that what his heart had tried to tell him during his hours of fever, might in fact be true. He felt he would never see Chrys again and he felt his world close in as he shut his eyes and willed himself to darkness once more. He could not yet face those who loved him, when one he loved was close to leaving him forever.
Bilbo woke when he heard Frodo's sob and as he reached to comfort him, to hold his hand and bring his dearest friend and nephew some measure of comfort, he watched the veil of darkness cover the wan features upon the pillow.
Frodo slept much of the next four days, he would awaken and wordlessly take water when offered, but would refuse all food. He slipped in and out of his dark refuge and Bilbo grew increasing more worried.Growing rather irritable as he paced back and forth in front of the window in Frodo's room "Prody...the infection seems to be gone, we've stopped giving him the medicine....what holds him in this sleep?" Bilbo asked with great aggitation.
Prody sighed, and took a drink from his tea cup, he was silent a moment and then putting the cup down upon the chair side table he rose to place a comforting hand upon Bilbo's shoulder. " 'tis sadness my friend....I've no medicine nor herb for a broken heart...his, nor mine" he said as he reached a hand to rub a tired and aching forehead. Bilbo looked to the healer's pale and tired face "Oh Prody, I am insensitive...forgive me friend, I worry so much for Frodo...and for Chrys. I must have hope for both of them, and so must you." Bilbo smiled bravely "we shall know in only a few days time, for Gandalf said he'd be back to us on or by the 6th of October...have hope dear Prody" Bilbo said as he carefully helped him down the hall of Bag End, to his guest bedroom where he sent the old healer to bed.
The next day Frodo woke for gradually longer periods of time, taking water and even managing some small amount of broth which was fed to him by a very persistent Sam. Frodo looked to his friend with pain dulled eyes and as Sam encouraged the sickly hobbit to continue eating Frodo waved the food away. Sam sat a moment, then not knowing what to do stood to go. "stay my friend" Frodo's hoarse voice rasped. And so Sam did, he sat with Frodo, upon the edge of the bed...his sturdy shoulders leaning against the elegantly carved headboard. They sat in silence, Sam every once in a while reaching down to brush a curl from his friends thin and pale face, he was careful not to move or jostle the bed in any way for fear of bringing his friend more pain. More pain was exactly what he felt Frodo could not bear.
"She's gone from me Sam" came the quiet plaintive whisper in the comfortable stillness of the room. "Now sir, ye don't know that...ye'll jest have ta give Mr. Gandalf a few more days sir...he said by the 6th." Sam moved a little closer to put a shy arm about Frodo's shoulders, where his frail form was elevated with many pillows. "Ye can't give up yer hope sir" the younger hobbit whispered. "I shall have to learn to live without hope Sam....my dead heart tells me her light is fading...where shall I find my path now...with no light to guide me?" Frodo's enormous blue eyes, made larger from days of sickness and shadowed with dark circles, were floating in tears that would not fall. He turned away from the teary eyes of the hobbit lad beside him and sought once more the forgetfulness of his dreams.
Many thanks to those of your who spend your precious reading time with my stories. I hope to soon work out a way to reply to any review you may feel inclined to offer. This story has a sequel, of sorts, "Faces of War" on fanfic.net