Title:  In Clear Focus

Rating: PG

Summary: A seemingly minor infection causes a major trauma

and some deep introspection for Frodo.

Disclaimer:  I own nothing and expect and receive no

payment for this work, other the feedback of its reader.

The treatments and procedures described here are strictly

for entertainment and should not be considered medical

information or advice

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 It was early evening.  Frodo Baggins had just watched the sun set over Rivendell.  The sight of the mountains glowing like fine gold, the sky with its delicate peach and lavender tints and violet clouds was exceeded only by the faces of his friends who had been so concerned about him and his healers who had taken such good care of him.   Seeing these things again, indeed seeing anything again in clear focus and without pain, so overwhelmed him that he fell to his knees and poured out his heart in thankful prayer.

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The problem appeared the morning after Elrond's council.  It had to be morning, Frodo thought because he felt so well rested.  Why was it so dark in his room?  He tried to blink, but could not.  Obviously, something was terribly wrong.  Had the Nazgul blade taken his vision?  What if Elrond had missed a fragment and it worked its way up to his eyes? Without thinking, he dashed into the hall, still in his nightshirt, only to slam into a wall.

A female voice gasped and its owner was at his side in a heartbeat.  "Let me help you," she said.  Her voice was steady, but full of concern.

"What's wrong with my eyes?  I can't open them!"  Frodo cried.

 The elf slipped her hand under Frodo's jaw and lifted his face gently.  "Your eyes have been stuck shut with dried exudate," she told him, "but come.  Let me attend to you. My name is Arwen."

Arwen carefully led the terrified hobbit back into his room and sat him down in a large velvet armchair.  After wrapping a quilt around Frodo to keep him warm, she knelt in front of him and placed her hands on his shoulders.

"Breath with me," she instructed him, taking a deep breath herself, "in through you nose, out through your mouth…."

Frodo complied; he trusted Arwen.  She seemed gentle and caring, just as her father had been. Maybe she could help him without the others having to know.  As Frodo calmed down a bit, Arwen excused herself, explaining that she was going to boil water for his medicine and get a cool cloth for his cheek.   Hot tears came to Frodo's eyes and quickly unsealed them, but what replaced the darkness wasn't much better.  Everything was blurred.  Would he ever see in clear focus again?  Not expecting Arwen back for some time, Frodo allowed his tears to fall freely.  He was startled to hear her gently speak his name.   Looking up at her hazy form, he tried to apologize for his "shameful weakness", but instead of answering, Arwen took him into her arms and began to sing an elven song.   Soon Frodo was crying openly.  It was a much-needed release for all the emotions that he had kept bottled up until that point.

He was almost asleep when there was a knock on his door.  Who could that be?  He hoped it wasn't one of the Fellowship.  He wouldn't want them to see him like that."Frodo, are you all right?" someone asked anxiously.

Frodo's heart sank when he recognized the voice.  Strider, of all people!  The co-leader of the Fellowship was going to see him in the arms of his future wife weeping like a hobbit of ten!  What would he think of the Ringbearer now?

"You may come in, Aragorn, but please do it very quietly," Arwen told him.

Accordingly, Aragorn came in and walked quietly over to the chair to look at Frodo.  Frodo shut his eyes quickly.  Maybe Strider wouldn't bother him if he thought he was asleep.

"I suspected something was wrong when Frodo didn't come for breakfast," he told Arwen softly. "Is he sick?"

"Yes, he has conjunctivitis," Arwen explained.

"Pink eye.  Yes I noticed last night that his eyes seemed to be bothering him.  I was going to speak to him about it but he had already gone to bed."

"His eyes were stuck shut this morning which was very traumatic, as you can imagine," Arwen continued, removing the cloth from Frodo's cheek, "and he hit a wall which accounts for this bruise."

"All this when he had barely recovered from the Nazgul wound," Aragorn commented.  "So much to happen to anyone in so short a time."

Frodo's distraught state of mind kept him from hearing the compassion in Aragorn's voice, so when the ranger reached out to gently touch Frodo's hurt cheek, the hobbit gasped and jerked his head away.

"Oh, you're awake!" Aragorn said cheerfully.  "It's all right, it's just me, Strider.  Let me have a look at you."

He tried to gently turn Frodo around so he could examine him, but Frodo just held tighter to Arwen, burying his head in her arm and sobbing with an irrational sense of fear and humiliation.  Aragorn didn't understand this, but knew better than to try and force it. 

"Alright, Frodo.  I won't touch you again if you don't want to me too," the ranger assured him.  "Have you treated him for the condition?" he asked Arwen.

"I put the water on, but there are no herbs, and getting them would have meant leaving Frodo alone feeling like this.  I was going to get them when he was asleep.  If I remember correctly, he needs equal parts of eyebright, goldseal, bayberry and raspberry leaves, and half a part of red pepper seeped in a pint of water."

"That's what he needs, and I can get them.  It's best if you stay with him for obvious reasons.  And Frodo," he said softening his voice again as Frodo lifted his eyes tentatively.  "I know this very upsetting, but please try to relax.  Conjunctivitis is very common, and very treatable."

Arwen resumed her gentle rocking as Aragorn left the room. "You mustn't be afraid," she whispered to Frodo, "Not of Aragorn, he cares more about you than I do and it would impossible for him to think any less of you for something that isn't your fault."

Frodo thought about this until he fell asleep again.

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