Title: To Soothe
Author: Helena Larkin
Rating: PG
Summary: Frodo has a cold. Set in the Midgewater marshes.
Story Notes: No sex, slash, profanity, graphic medical detail, or violence. Contains
hurt/comfort, including cuddling!
Disclaimer: The characters, places, and story of The Lord of the Rings are the
property of J.R.R. Tolkien and consequently of the Tolkien Estate, with select rights
by Tolkien Enterprises. This piece appears purely as fanfiction and is not intended to
claim ownership of Tolkien's work in any way.

A/N: I would like to thank all the lovely people who reviewed Chapter One – I greatly
appreciate your kindness, as your positive feedback gave me the confidence to post
this second chapter!

To Soothe – Chapter 2

A dank mist has risen during the night, wrapping the marshes close and cold. I awaken some
time before the hobbits even stir – they are all finding this journey hard, unused to such long
hours of hard walking, lacking even a hot meal and comfortable bed at the end of each
exhausting day. Often, by evening, Pippin, the youngest, and Frodo, the most delicate, seem
worn out almost beyond their endurance. Several times I have seen Frodo close to tears, as
Sam tries to persuade him to eat – the rough food is clearly not what he is accustomed to, and
I have seen the faithful Samwise trying to secrete special morsels wherever possible – much
to the outrage of young Peregrin.

Frodo is curled sleepily against my chest, one little hand fiddling with the my shirt collar. He
still looks flushed, but when I touch his forehead he is only slightly warm. I hope he will be
well enough to travel today. I hear Sam murmuring something about 'taters' and a few
moments later he is sitting up, rubbing his eyes. He sees Frodo in my arms and hurries over,
grimacing at the scummy water and the unpleasant yellow-grey mist that swirls around him.
He squats next to me, and says in a low, anxious voice,
"Is he alright Mr. Strider? You should have called me, if he took sick during the night. I'm
used to carin' for him you see, since Mr. Bilbo left."
"I know, Sam. Yet I did not wish to waken you for a small ailment. He was unwell with a
slight fever, but this morning he feels more normal." Sam gently slips his hand inside Frodo's
white shirt, peering at him worriedly.
"Well, he don't seem right to me sir, beggin' your pardon, still a bit hot, and he seems
"Perhaps you could make some tea for him? Something sweet that he'll be able to swallow

Sam stirs the remains of last night's small campfire until they glow dark red through the mist,
and a few minutes later he returns to my side with a steaming cup.
"It's chamomile, sir, he likes that; with a bit of honey stirred in." It is, indeed, wonderfully
fragrant, the mere scent enough to transport me to a safe, warm hearthside, far from these dim
marshes. It is golden and smells of fresh summer and bright honey, sweet and fresh from the
hive. I whisper in Frodo's tiny, delicately pointed ear,
"Wake up, Little One… wake up Frodo." He stirs in my arms and I feel again a strong instinct
to cherish and protect, realising anew how small he is. His arms tighten around my neck for a
moment, and then he is awake, gazing out me sleepily. He does not speak, but, infinitely
weary, lays his head down once again upon my chest.

I take the cup from Sam and test it with my little finger. It is warm, but not too hot, and I
place it to Frodo's lips, tilting it slowly to encourage him to sip.
"It's just some tea, Little One," I murmur coaxingly, "chamomile – Sam made it for you."
"Yes. Take a sip." He relaxes and swallows some of the warm sweet liquid. A few minutes
later he is asleep again, calm and stiil in my lap.

Some time later, when we have all breakfasted on the meagre remains of the previous
evening's meal, the other hobbits gather around us. They are packed and ready to leave, so I
lift Frodo in my arms, laying his head on my shoulder, cradling him to my side as I would a
human child.
"Today, Bill must take my pack. I dare not lose time, but I think Frodo is not strong enough to
walk. I will carry him." And once more we begin to walk, carefully in the close mist, the
Ringbearer seemingly unconscious even of our presence.

Yet I wonder… sometimes he seems to be deeply asleep, yet at others, troubled by dreams
and fancies. Fortunately the fever is no worse, although his nose is running so that I must
often wipe for him in his sleep, on a soft linen handkerchief from Sam's pack. (I do believe
that less than half of the space in that pack is devoted to Sam's own belongings – he is so
keen that Frodo should always have such things as handkerchiefs.) I have hopes that within a
day or two he will be recovered from this cold, so long as he is kept warm and quiet, and
allowed to sleep. Sometimes he rouses enough to drink a little water or some more of the
chamomile tea – once he is even persuaded to eat a little soft bread. But for the most part he
sleeps. I think that he knows I carry him, however. For once – only once, in truth, but it was
enough to assuage some of my fears for his health – the other hobbits having fallen behind
slightly in the mist, he awoke and, looking up at me lucidly, whispered,
"Strider… thank you – for taking care of me," and then, blinking, "you are… very kind." A
moment later, falling back to sleep.


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