Series Title: The Memory of Taste

Vignette Title: Silk & Velvet

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd)

E-mail: frodoatbagend@yahoo.com

Characters: Frodo, Celebrian, Elrond. Rating: G to PG-13 (This chapter PG to PG-13)

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. ***As a special note, I do think RPing with someone in a particular role often can influence one's writing; consequently, I could not present my work without acknowledging and applauding Elwen's interpretation of Elrond, which has, in my eyes, become one of the most pervasive influences in Frodo hurt/comfort fanfiction. Thank you, Elwen! :) ***

For permission to reproduce any part of this fanfic, please contact frodoatbagend@yahoo.com.

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. Original characters, such as (but not limited to) Bryonia and Forsythia, are my own work; please do not use my creations in your work. Please respect my original contributions. 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. No slash is intended or implied in this story.

for elwen

Silk and Velvet

Could a smell actually have texture?

Frodo was accustomed to the mild scent of the light cream soups usually provided for his lunch. . .there were never overpowering smells, only slight ones, with the occasional delicately aromatic broth offered for variety or when he was not up to anything so much as the creamed variety, but still wanted something more than herb tea with honey, less than applesauce or toast or egg.

But this one was different. It reminded him of nothing so much as. . .as a *feeling* rather than a particular place or time. . . .

The realisation settled around him with sudden comfort, and he wept with relief, tears beginning to flow where he thought there were none. Even before he opened them, he knew what the dish held, and at once he opened his mouth to admit the spoon.

*********

He had come directly back to his room rather than following the others to the dining-hall. . .not that he had admitted it to them, of course, offering Sam and Bilbo the absolute assurance that he wished to look for Gloin in the library, hoping that they could continue their conversation from the feast. Once around the corner, he had nearly tripped over his own feet in an effort to reach his room in time, narrowly reaching his own chamber and shutting the door in time. A covered chamber-vessel had been left beneath his bed, and he sank to the floor, pulling it into his lap, leaning back against the side of the bed.

Please no, no, no, no, no. . . .

But it was no use wishing: half a moment longer and he was violently ill, vomiting up what little refreshment he had taken that day.

I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.

His stomach twisted and lurched again, evoking a fresh bout of retching. Why? And how? He had not even been able to cast it into the fireplace at Bag End: how, by all the Shire, did he think he would cast it into this Fire, to which his hearth at what was his home seemed no more than a flickering candle? Would his companions, whomever they were to be, have to wrest it from him by force, and break his mind, body, or both in the undoing of this evil? Or must he cast himself in with it, hope that he had the wherewithal to press himself to the edge?

Another wave of nausea rushed over him with this thought. He felt stiflingly hot, though he shivered, his shirt clinging to his body. The repeated motion of muscles made his shoulder ache: it felt better than it had, but that said little, and the pain brought tears to his eyes.

The soft click of the door caused him to start. Even before he had time to fully look up, someone knelt beside him, sliding a gentle, though firm, hand beneath his brow, supporting his head. An arm encircled his shoulders, bringing that hand to rest upon his tummy, beginning to massage with the lightest of touches.

And it eased.

Slowly the nausea seemed to abate a little, and the retching fits grew further apart.

The gentle touch withdrew at last, supportive arms easing beneath his knees and back, then lifting him slowly. . .though smoothly, with none of the awkward hesitation it had taken for Bilbo to lift him when he had been a tweenager too ill with pneumonia to get up, and had had to be put into cooling baths. Frodo found himself resting against soft material. . .clothing of silk, with an overmantle of velvet. . . . Slowly, attempting to avoid another flood of nausea, he looked up.

Elrond.

It was Lord Elrond, his expression grave, but kind and concerned. Easing Frodo onto the bed, he reached for a basin still at hand on the bedside- table: the bedroom was still fitted with many of the accoutrements required in serious illness. ("Surely you understand, Mr. Frodo!" Sam had insisted. "You only just got up yesterday, after all, and before that - well, we thought till morning you were dying, sure as Shiretalk, even after they dug out that bit o'blade.") Settling this on the bed quite close to the hobbit, he disappeared from view for some minutes: though Frodo could hear soft hints of movement and cupboards and water, he dared not attempt to follow any motion with his eyes, closing them again instead to still any possible sickness.

A comfortably cool cloth, moist and soothing, touched his brow. Opening his eyes, he found himself gazing up at Elrond, who was carefully bathing his face and neck with the damp bathing-cloth. At once Frodo felt colour rise to his face.

"Forgive me, I - "

"Sshhh." Elrond hushed him patiently, setting the cloth aside. "Glorfindel told me that he had seen you turning away from the dining-hall, and that you looked quite pale."

"I'm fine. I simply. . .got a bit overheated."

The excuse seemed to have little, if any effect on Elrond, who smiled gently, shaking his head. "I very much doubt that, Frodo. . .though you have more than enough cause. There are warriors who would be more shaken than you by what has transpired today, and you are still not fully recovered from your wound. Have you taken anything at all today?"

"Some fruit and bread, and a little tea, when I rose. . .nothing since." Even this thought made Frodo shudder.

"It is always worse being sick on a stomach little filled." Gently Elrond began to unfasten the miniature buttons closing Frodo's green waistcoat and finely fitted shirt. "I think it would be best if we put you to bed and allowed you the rest that you have thus far been denied: I am sorry, but some matters have been too pressing to wait. Nonetheless, those are now addressed."

"Thank you. . . ." Frodo lay quietly, feeling too weak to move: it was a considerable relief to be tended, to have only to lie still while Elrond undressed him, unbuttoning everything, then sliding off the trousers and lifting him only once to remove shirt and waistcoat. Again there was the feeling of comfortably cool water: Elrond worked without forcing unnecessary movement, sponging him down, relieving some of the dreadful hot- and-cold sensations. At last he was patted with a fluffy towel and eased into a well-fitting night-shirt, the covers pulled back to tuck him into bed.

What happened from there Frodo could scarcely remember. . .Elrond tucked him in, and almost at once he fell into a comfortable drowse, waking only occasionally and tended through another brief episode of vomiting by the Master of Imladris. He was vaguely aware of Elrond tending his shoulder, applying a soothing salve and checking the dressings. Once or twice he thought he heard low voices, as if his friends had come to enquire about him or perhaps some assistant were speaking with Elrond on some related or unrelated matter. . .but always he fell swiftly back into slumber, too tired to think on them.

He awoke some time later, not knowing how long. Elrond remained at his bedside, exchanging the compress on the young hobbit's forehead for a fresh one. There was a faint scent of peppermint in the air.

"Good afternoon, Frodo. How are you feeling?"

"A. . .a little better, I think. . . ." Slowly he tried to sit up, to test the dizziness, but his curiousity was repaid even as Elrond caught him, gently pressing him to lie back down. "Still a bit. . .indisposed. . . ."

"More than a bit, I should say." Tucking him back in, Elrond took something from a small, rather strange lamp on the bedside-table - like most things of elven design Frodo had seen thus far, it was at once fascinating and ordinary in appearance, a small silver dish with a lid. Yet as Elrond lifted the cover, pouring the contents into a porcelain cup, it became evident that this was some sort of heating-dish, almost like a miniature pot. Stirring the contents, Elrond resumed his seat at Frodo's side, offering him a half-spoonful. At once the young hobbit shook his head.

"I don't want to be sick again. . . ."

"Nor do I wish that for you." Elrond's grey eyes were free from criticism, calm and patient in their gaze. "But if you are sick at your stomach again, with having taken so little, it may be better for you if you have had something. . .and after so long with so little nourishment, we cannot wait until you feel especially eager to eat. You have endured more strain than most can face and still live."

He offered the half-spoonful again.

This time Frodo accepted, swallowing cautiously.

Smooth, full. . .yet not overly rich, and he found himself opening his mouth for another taste. Elrond responded, administering another spoonful. . .and then another, continuing to feed his charge slow mouthfuls of the golden soup.

Chicken. It was a velvety chicken soup, with bits of minced chicken and a dash of white pepper, made with chicken broth and butter and milk, even some cream. Much to his surprise, Frodo found he did *not* feel ill after finishing the cupful. . .only pleasantly comfortable, his aching stomach now settling down.

"Is there anything else that you would like?"

Frodo shook his head, curling up on his side. To know what to do, his heart insisted. The answers. . .how? and what then?

But he remained silent, merely nestling into the comfortable array of blankets and sheets.

Large, though still slender, hands reached into the nest and took his small ones. Frodo looked up - rather, across, as Elrond knelt by the bed, offering an eye-to-eye view.

"Frodo. . .I do not claim to understand the ways of the Valar, or to know the full Music of Iluvatar. I do not know what will yet come to pass. But I know this: so long as you are in my house, which will be for some time yet, you shall have what comfort I can give, and this House shall be your haven, until it is time for the Ring-bearer to depart."

He pressed Frodo's hands lightly between his.

"I can give you little of light to take with you, apart from memories. Hold fast to them, for in the darkness ahead you will have great need of them. Memory is the gift of Eru Iluvatar to Firstborn and Second alike, to hobbits as much as any other race. I wish for you to take as many pleasant memories from the Last Homely House as you can, as important as what knowledge we can impart to you."

At this, he smiled a little, the expression strangely reminiscent of twilight.

"But for tonight, there will be no departure, nor on the morrow, and you are an honoured guest."

~the end~