Title: Poisoned

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd) E-mail: frodoatbagend@yahoo.com

Characters: Frodo, Sam, Gollum

Rating: PG-13 (Rather dark themes; no profanity, no sexuality, non-slash)

Summary: The addition of Gollum to the Quest prompts dark thoughts. . .and painful realisations. . .for Frodo.

Story Notes: TTT movieverse-based. ***SPOILERISH: If trying to avoid spoilers for the movie, you may wish to save this fic for later reading.*** Please don't flame me for slight AUness; I do realise this is somewhat deviant from Tolkien, and I make no claim that it necessarily follows the spirit of the tale as he wrote it.

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. Please e-mail me if you have concerns. Furthermore, please do NOT consider any treatments or remedies within this story safe or effective for use: these are included as fictitious hobbit care, not real human medical practice, and while some can indeed be traced to actual therapeutic practices, could be dangerous. Please consult your health care professional before treating yourself or others for any condition or symptom.


Part II: July 3019 (1419 Shire Reckoning)

I have not been well.

Not since before Weathertop, really. . .but at least our two months in Rivendell brought strength and comfort back to me. . .some measure of health.

Enough, at least.

After the embarrassment of having had to be carried to my room, I had worried even more how others would see me.

From the start, half the Fellowship had been able to lift me without difficulty: after all, Big People *are* rather big to us, and at my size, it was little work for Boromir or Aragorn to carry me, and even Legolas could lift me as easily as he might a child. To that I was well accustomed. But I had had a bout of dizziness while getting into my night- shirt, and Queen Arwen had caught me, lifting me with my weight all borne in the crook of one arm, the other merely steadying me against her as she brought me to her bosom, swiftly sitting to cradle me until I felt well enough to be moved again, to be put to bed.

And yet, for all that, she noted that I am stronger than I look, to judge from how tightly my fingers dug into the flowing sleeves of her gown, where I had inadvertantly twisted them in an effort to bear up against the pain shooting through my right hand and left shoulder.

We always marvelled at how strong Smeagol was, to be so thin.

It was all right at first. . .for a while I managed to keep pace well enough with the others, but I have fallen far behind. Sam, Merry, and Pippin have all regained flesh. . .I think Pippin weighs more now, in fact, than he did before, and the additional muscle so taxed by Sam during our journey now shapes his sturdy figure as he puts much-needed weight back onto his frame. Merry is filling out his clothes well, too: he had to have a new suit made just the other day, and Lady Eowyn fussed over making certain it would look fine with the colours of Rohan, now that he is a Knight of the Mark.

I, however, remain thin and drawn, a frightening, spectrally pallid figure wrapped always in layers of clothing, as if against bitter chill, though it is past midsummer.

Queen Arwen and Lady Eowyn reassure me that it is because I have been so ill. I still have fevers, my temperature fluctuating wildly back and forth, bringing on drenching sweats that leave me shivering and exhausted. Many times the thought of normal food makes me sick at my stomach, and sometimes any effort at eating provokes fits of vomiting that last for hours. Hir Elrond, Queen Arwen, and Lady Eowyn look after me: they take turns so that one, usually two, can be always at my bedside. Nothing elven hurts any longer; that seems to have passed with the destruction of the Ring, and I find the hands of Elrond and Arwen blessedly comforting.

Aragorn and Faramir are busy beyond belief, but both find time each day to come and sit with me, to talk of pleasant things. Sam, of course, would tend me personally night and day, if permitted, and my cousins would stay close to my side, but I have urged them toward their duties, and Sam toward enjoying the many epics now sung about us, encouraging him to describe them to me so I do not have to sit through three hundred exhausting verses on my worst days.

And those are too often now. I do not even feel like myself, if what I remember is at all accurate.

Lady Eowyn makes a warm drink of white wine, hot milk, and powdered sugar that helps me sleep, and Queen Arwen presses me to take light custards flavoured with mint or delicate fruit sauces made from elderberries or blueberries or blackberries. Someone made a small tea-pot and cup like a beehive for me, and they make chamomile or ginger tea in that; it will stay warm thus for a long while, and so it matters little if I take some time to drink it.

Merry and Pippin cannot understand - Pippin especially - why I cannot bear to think of the rich feast-fare, all sorts of sea-creatures and fowl, pies of singing birds - and Sam simply remains anxious to see me eating with good appetite, not merely taking a spoonful or two when pressed by my caregivers.

I have no words to explain it to them properly.

And how can I? What I remember of it all, what I recall of the final hours especially. . .

I feel as if something chills my blood, turning it to poisoned ice.

I was right, after all.

They don't understand.

And I cannot explain it. . .I can only try to remember who, or what, I was before.

And hope. . .hope despite the dark winter that seems to press always about me, like some starless, empty night.

~the end~