Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wax and Wane: The Next Morning

The sun slowly peeked above the horizon entering the Ring-bearer's room, its line of rays inching for the coverlet covering the hobbit. Russet brown curls splayed across the pillow, the face relaxed where once it had displayed lines of pain. Tiny fingers lying loose against the white quilt, not guarding and fighting off intruding hands.

Samwise sat vigil in the high back cushioned chair, his feet propped upon the side of the bed with his head on chest, snoring. He would play a game in which he would close his eyes for a few moments,then pop them back open. Each time, his lids stayed closed a little longer, soon finding he lost when he did not awaken.

That is how Aragorn came upon the scene when he entered the chambers. He had come to check on Frodo's condition, since he also had not slept much. Tossing and turning all night long, anticipating a gentle hobbits' gardener knock. Finally, tired of being on the sea Arwen suggested that he get up and go see for himself how the Shireling was faring. "At least one of us will get some rest," she said smiling pushing him out of the bed.

The King of Gondor, also masquerading as private healer, quietly crossed the gray in laid stone floor until he came to the side of the bed blocking the rapidly rising sun. With callused, but gentle hands, he placed his palm upon Frodo's forehead trailing it down his face. Gaging the temperature was normal, he retracted his hand satisfied.

A small sigh escaped the hobbit's lips, turning his head into the cool hand, his brows furrowed upon the sudden removal. Cool blue's met steel Gray as the hobbit slowly opened his lids looking into Aragorn's friendly face.

"How are you feeling this morn, Frodo?" Estel whispered putting his finger to his lips then pointing to the opposite side of the bed at the sleeping gardener.

Licking his dry lips with what to have seemed to be a cotton coated tongue he managed a hoarse whisper, "Wa...Water?"

Reaching for the water pitcher, the cool clear water poured soundlessly into the pewter cup. With gentle care, the large arm cradled the little one's shoulders as he lifted them off the soft mattress, pressing the cup to Frodo's lips.

The Ring-bearer cringed as his stomach muscles were cramped into the new position. Not wanting to upset Strider, he took a couple of sips, just enough to wet his lips and soothe his tongue. After the last evening, he did not want a relapse upsetting his stomach, or the pain that went with it. Pushing the cup weakly away he whispered, "Thank you."

Concerned at the lack of fluid intake and the pained expression on the little one's face, Aragorn questioned Frodo again, "You did not answer my question, young hobbit. How are you feeling?" he asked sternly, sitting on the side of the bed now.

With his eyes closed swallowing carefully, fearing at any moment his stomach would rebel the small amount of liquid, he answered as truthfully as he could, "Better this morning." A rustling of covers and a weight lifting off the bed, Frodo assumed that the former Ranger had left until he heard a hushed voice in his ear.

"Frodo, I know you say you feel better, but your actions betray you. I just want to make sure your muscles are relaxed, all right?" Aragorn peered at closed eyes until he saw a slight nod from the Ring-bearer giving him permission to continue.

The hobbit felt heat rush to his cheeks as the cover was lifted from his body, clad only in a nightshirt. Eyes opening in a flash, terror seized the hobbit as he felt Strider lifting the only cloth that stood between him and his all together.

"Relax. I have seen you in worse condition," he mused knowing how modest Frodo was.

"Well, that was against my own best judgment. As I recall I had been drugged and who knows what else," he said flustered, trying to bat away the Man-sized hands. "Cannot you examine me over my night clothes?

"No. Be quiet or you will wake Sam. He has been up most the night and needs his rest. Here, I will cover you up down there while I have your belly exposed, deal?" he offered holding up the quilt in his hands.

Feeling ashamed, the hobbit nodded and quickly the exchange was made with little exposure on Frodo's part.

Aragorn retrieved a warming stone that he had wrapped in a soft cloth, placing it between his hands the heat transfer to his palms. Perspiration beaded on the gentle hobbit, his eyes looking out beyond the window. "Tithen Min, this will not hurt. Just relax," he spoke soothingly.

He felt huge hands on him. His stomach retracted at the touch, a small cry emerging from his lips, "It hurts. All right...it still hurts," Frodo pleaded placing his small hands around the Man's wrists, looking into the healer's eyes.

"I know. I am sorry. I am almost done. Just leave your hands on mine and follow," Aragorn said, schooling the sorrow he felt to cause or even see his friend in such pain.

At last the examination was over, and Frodo exhaled the breath he had been holding, only wincing a couple of times. Aragorn managed to get him to keep an Athelas leaf under his tongue to help ease the pain. He was coaxed to lay on his side for a while, a couple of warming stones at his abdomen. Then the thick down quilt laid on top, tucked around his body, revealing a fetal position. Soon his eyes became heavy and the last thing he saw before slipping into the darkness was the King positioned in a chair the same as Sam, head upon chest his eyes closed.

the end.