Series Title: The Memory of Taste

Vignette Title: Prologue

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd)

E-mail: frodoatbagend@yahoo.com

Characters: Frodo, Celebrian. Later to include Elrond, Gandalf, Bilbo, various others

Rating: G to PG-13 (Prologue: G to PG)

Summary: A series of vignettes from Frodo's memories, all centered around or prompted by the memory of food and drink. Ranges from early years through post-War of the Ring, though in no particular order.

Feedback: Welcomed. Constructive only, please. . .no flaming.

Story Notes: Pure fluff (sometimes angst-filled, sometimes not) written for its own sake. It's not intended to have a grand plot; it's not intended to be impressive, serious fanfic. Just a little set written episodically (read: as the mood strikes me) for the fun of it and nothing more. Lots of Frodo h/c in these, though, so if you like that, you'll enjoy this. Lots of little details, so if you like those, you may be fond of this. . .especially if you like food detail! If you don't. . .my apologies; to each her (or his) own taste. :) I make absolutely no claims whatsoever that this is a canonically thematic portrayal of the West, though I have attempted to follow some remote semblance, at least, of what we know in that there was never a guarantee of *how* Frodo's healing would come, if it did, but that he might seek it there. . .as well as in some other matters, such as some of the book's characters actually being there at this time. Beyond those little points, I'm not even attempting to create a canonical story. This is purely for pleasure.

THE MEMORY OF TASTE

PROLOGUE

"There now. . .ssssshhh, Little One. . . ."

Frodo yawned as he felt Celebrian's arms around him, gathering him up gently. Snuggling gratefully against her warmth, he made no effort as yet to open his eyes: he was still sleepy, and he knew there would be no urgency. Already he had come to love the morning routine. . .Lady Celebrian would come gather him from his bed, wrapping him in a warmed quilt and carrying him to a rocking-chair near the hearth, where she would rock him in her arms like a child, allowing him to sleep as long as he wished. His bedding would be changed by other elves, and when he finally woke enough to open his eyes, Celebrian would give him sips of something warm to drink, nursing him quietly while his breakfast was brought: toast and fresh fruit, porridge, milk and fruit juices, various favourites. . .not that he felt very much like eating yet, most days. Assistants would fill a bath while Celebrian fed him, and after the meal, she would bathe him, either in a tub or cradled in her arms, using comfortable water scented with herbs and oils. The other healers would not come until mid-morning, after those tasks were completed, and even then they were quiet and careful with him. Usually Celebrian would return him to his bed first, tucking him in cosily with freshly warmed blankets and fluffed pillows.

Afternoons were pleasant as well: Bilbo came every day, and they took afternoon tea together. Though still frail with age, he had changed, and for the better. Frodo had long ago abandoned hope that Bilbo would ever remember what had transpired regarding the true end of the Ring, but the healing virtue found in the West was such that much of the confusion clouding his mind had swiftly cleared, and there had been a day when the healers brought him to Frodo, urging gently that it was time for the story to be told again. . .so Frodo began with the night of Bilbo's departure from the Shire, continuing until the day they boarded the ship at the Grey Havens together. And this time, to Frodo's astonishment, Bilbo understood.

*Truly* understood.

He listened, nodding peppered with small exclamations of shock or sympathy. . .and held his nephew's hands, rubbing them tenderly. For the first time, Frodo wept in the explanations, and Bilbo simply held him, embracing him and rubbing his back as he had when Drogo and Primula drowned more than forty years earlier. It had been an exhausting day, but one Frodo would not have traded for all the world thrice over.

Bilbo had a hobbit-hole, of course. . .but Frodo had fallen ill within hours of boarding ship, and had been given directly into the care of the healers. They seemed, however, to have anticipated this: his room had a great many things designed in round or circular shapes, avoiding the angularities common in elven architecture. Even the doorway was arched, and the windows were great circles of glass, with fine curtains and soft window- seats for reading or rest, though as yet he had been too ill to be out of bed, save carried in someone's arms, as he was with Celebrian. He wondered how they had known, but felt pleased that someone had considered this. They assured him that he, too, had a place. . .a little hole beside Bilbo's. . .though sometimes he feared that these were only words to calm him, to keep him from abandoning hope of recovery, for he had been so sick with pain and chill that often he believed death could not be far away.

And yet they kept up efforts that seemed to indicate otherwise. . .coaxing repeatedly for him to take regular meals and snacks, administering medicines to help sustain his strength, exercising his limbs gently with careful motions designed to stretch muscles without hurting him. . . .

Snuggling cosily in the warm nest of quilt and arms, he opened his eyes at last, blinking in the low firelight. Celebrian smiled reassuringly at him, bringing one slender hand up to brush back his curls.

"Good morning, Little One."

He opened his lips a little as she touched the feeding-cup to them: warm milk, sweetened with honey and a dash of cinnamon. Sipping slowly, he managed a faint smile.

Primula.

A flash of dark chestnut locks, heavy and full over bright, laughing eyes.

The same sweet taste of warm milk with honey, cinnamon dusted atop it, then stirred in.

"Go to sleep now, poppet. Mamma's here."

His breath caught. Celebrian stroked his hair gently, bending over him so that her silver hair fell in a curtain about his face, shielding him.

"What is it?"

"My. . ." He swallowed against a suddenly dry throat, at once startled, saddened, and elated. "My mother. . .she. . .used to make something like this for me. I. . .had forgotten."

She cradled him close, offering another small sip, rubbing his shoulder and arm soothingly. "Memory is tied to not only the mind, but all the senses. . .taste and smell among the strongest. This may be more true for hobbits, perhaps, than even for elves or for men, for whom those senses can evoke powerful memories. And so many of yours before the quest must relate to food and drink. . .simple comforts, but not unimportant ones. Far from it."

He swallowed cautiously, taking a little more of the warm drink. "It was what kept Sam so. . .grounded, I think. . .and one of the things that helped for so long. But. . .but then I. . .it seemed those memories were all burned away, leaving nothing between me and the Wheel of Fire. . . ."

"And so it was. There are many ways one may find healing, Frodo. . .sometimes it comes not in potions or salves, but in the simplest of things." She touched the cup to his lips once more.

"Drink, Little One. You are safe."

~to be continued~