Title: What May Come
Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd)
E-mail: febobe at yahoo dot com
Characters: Celebrian, Frodo, Elrond; Gandalf, Bilbo, various others.
Rating: PG-13 or so. It's probably just PG-13, generally, but I don't know angstiness and h/c level for every single chapter yet. This chapter rated PG-13.
Summary: Frodo's healing in the West is not as he had hoped. . .and yet it is more; in Tol Eressea he finds a new home and family, and a different kind of healing. . . .
Feedback: Welcomed. Constructive only, please. . .no flaming.
Story Notes: I am delighted to finally publish a story that I began work on more than a year and a half ago, though to this day I cannot say it will not undergo further revision before some final version. However, it is very dear to my heart, and I thought I might go ahead and share it here as a work-in-progress - open to you all the drafts, notes, etc. - of the past many months and hope that you, too, will enjoy them. The interpretation, of course, is purely mine and was touched upon in "The Memory of Taste" (original publication of first chapter 1/18/03). . .others may disagree, or may share this view, but this is an old project of mine and simply a view I hold. If you wish to hear my reasoning, please ask, and I'll dig up links to my LJ comments dicussing the tale or engage in a discussion with you. But I hope that whether my rationale is important to you or not, you will enjoy the story. . .I don't think it's necessary to know the reasoning behind my thought pattern in advance to find pleasure in the tale. :) At least I hope it isn't!

Warning: pure fluff (sometimes angst-filled, sometimes not) written for its own sake. It's not intended to have a grand plot. Lots of Frodo h/c in this, though, so if you like that, you'll enjoy 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 canonical points, at least, of what we know, including 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 canonically purist story. This is purely for pleasure.

Part VIII Notes: An extra-extra-extra-special thanks to all those who have reviewed thus far! A word of reassurance for those who still worry. . .as I've promised, no, this one is not a deathfic; I have no plans for the Ringbearer to expire. . .so please don't fret!

For permission to reproduce any part of this fanfic, please e-mail your request to febobe at yahoo dot 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 Mornaduial and Narien, 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.

Part VIII: Darkness Waxing

Cold. . .so cold. . . .

Frodo awoke, shivering violently, only to find that he was not in Bag End, nor even on the ship, but tucked up into bed in a house, with Elrond at his side, one warm hand resting gently on his brow. It felt good, and Frodo closed his eyes, wishing the warmth would melt through his entire body.

"Please. . .wh-what is. . .th-the t-time?"

"Half-past midnight," came the familiar, comforting voice. "Celebrian thought you might be close to waking; she has gone to warm some milk for you. Will you try a little?"

Frodo nodded faintly, though he felt sick, with no appetite for anything more than water, if even that. "I could t-try. . . ."

"It will do you much good."

There was a soft sound of rustling cloth, and Frodo recognised the faint scent of sea-water and strange but delightful-smelling herbs. At once he opened his eyes, a glance confirming that Lady Celebrian had returned, bearing a tiny feeding-cup. She smiled tenderly as she bent over him, setting the cup aside and offering her arms.

"Frodo, I think you would be more comfortable - warmer - in a lap. Will you permit me?"

Shyly he nodded, feeling a bit babyish for allowing such a thing, but relieved at the prospect of more warmth. . .he felt so cold and sick, and the idea of curling up in her lap sounded wonderful. As she slipped her arms beneath him and gathered him close, he offered no protest, merely snuggling into the warmth as she drew him close against her bosom.

"You do not have to drink it all. But I hope you will try a little if you can."

The spout of the cup touched his lips, and he sipped weakly, tasting the drink cautiously. Yes, it was plain milk, nicely warmed to just the right temperature, as he had warmed bottles for Elanor when Rosie was sleeping. The thought made his eyes prickle and his throat thicken, and he had to pause in his sipping to steady himself.

"Thoughts of home?"

Her perception startled him, but he nodded.

"Thoughts of home often troubled me when I first came here. Already my heart was disturbed by the sense that I would not see my children again." She smiled sadly, stroking his hair. "I am happy for them, though. And who is to say that my daughter's choice was not the best?"

He had no answer for that, and was grateful that she touched the feeding-cup to his lips again, coaxing him to take more of the warm milk. But memories of Elanorelle and Sam and Rosie were beginning to fade before the black shapes filling his mind like suffocating shadows. . . .

No. . . .

Yes.

No. . .no, you cannot have me; it is ended. . .you were destroyed!

Were we?

His shoulder throbbed miserably, causing him to suddenly whimper. At once the lady set aside the cup, cradling him closer so that his left arm was tucked warmly against her, shushing gently. He was vaguely aware of Elrond moving about, and within minutes the scent of athelas filled the room, fragrant and calming.

But still he felt so cold, and it hurt so. . .and it was increasingly difficult to hear Lady Celebrian's firm reassurances that he was not alone, that he was safe at home.

Home? Where is your home, wandering Ringbearer?

He had no answer, and pain and cold assailed him even as he struggled to think of something.

You have no home. . .have had none since your parents died. Bilbo took you in out of pity, you know!

No, he didn't! Bilbo loves me.

Another wave of icy pain.

Bilbo has not known how to love since he took the Ring. He is no more capable of love than was Gollum, though he still seems it.

He wept, tears stinging against his cheeks.

And you - you will never remember anything pleasant again. Not even the simple taste of bread or fruit. That has been lost to you forever. All your beloved memories will fade into the Wheel of Fire. . . .

If he had felt well enough, blinding fury would have seized him. . .but as it was, he folded up in Celebrian's arms, sobbing in choking gasps until he could scarcely breathe.

-to be continued-