This is for Claudia for she wanted more of a scene after Frodo woke with Aragorn. This is angst as well as comfort. Merry Christmas.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, they belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Fulfilling a Promise

"I think it is time for us to leave, even though the King has the hands of a healer, Frodo and Sam have only woken this day after a fortnight of healing," Gandalf said as he observed the Ring-bearer trying, but failing to keep heavy lids open.

Frodo had not left the bed since he had awoken that afternoon. His friends had been coming and going all day long. The festivities had finally caught up with him, trying to suppress a yawn using his uninjured hand to cover his mouth. After all, he was a gentle hobbit and it was not proper to show all of his teeth. "Please excuse me. I am sorry, Gandalf," the little master apologized, gazing at his friend in awe as he still could not believe that the Wizard was indeed alive and standing in front of him.

"Oh, Gandalf..." Pippin groaned, but found that he was covering up a yawn as well.

"He's right, Pip," Merry smiled sweetly at his cousin, looking into those big blue eyes, marveling that Frodo was sitting here, alive and well to be expected from the perilous journey to Mt. Doom.

"I'll be stayin' here, if'n you don't mind," Sam muttered, yawning wide himself.

"I am sorry, Samwise, but the healer had asked that you be brought back in so that he can soak your feet again. He wanted you stay at the Houses of Healing overnight," Gandalf said, picking up the gardener.

"But who will look after 'im, Gandalf. I made a promise to you and to him. I won't be leavin him and that's fact," Samwise protested, but no kicking or fuss he was doing as he was afraid he might be turned into something unnatural.

"Never fear for your master, Samwise, I will be sure to check in on him. Now, no more fuss, off we go, lads," he continued with exhuberant mirth, winking at Frodo as he ushered Merry and Pippin out the door before blowing out the main candle, leaving the fire in the hearth as the only source of light.

Settling back onto his pillows, Frodo found himself wondering if he could sleep by himself, always finding comfort that Sam was with him. The room had grown deathly quiet. The only sound was that of the crackling wood from the hearth. Turning onto his right side, he assumed a fetal position, pulling the coverlet up to his shoulders. Every muscle in his body ached, his hand throbbed from time to time, but that was easier to deal with than the feeling of emptiness that seemed to overwhelm the little hobbit. His left hand snaked toward his neck, but nothing was there to grab hold of. Darkness surrounded him as a slight chill made its way into his body. "No. I will not succumb again. Leave me alone!" he whispered. Snuggling closer into the blankets, getting as comfortable as he could, blue eyes mesmerized by the flames covering the wooden logs. His lids were soon getting heavy once more, closing off all light as his mind closed out all sound.

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It was not much of noise, but it was loud enough to rouse him from sleep as Frodo's eyes popped open, a pit of black within the sea of blue expanding to let in as much light as possible if he had to flee. His heart raced, thumping hard against already bruised ribs. Calm down, it will be all right, just stay still, he told himself as he strained to hear anything else. He heard nothing, but his nose picked up a familiar scent of pipeweed, leather, and Athelas. Then something graced his shoulder causing him to vault upright, his head spinning to his left coming face to face with the King of Gondor.

"It is only me, Frodo. I am sorry, I did not mean to startle you," Aragorn spoke softly caressing the Ring-bearer's cheek with one hand as he slowly sat down on the bedding.

Recovering his already frayed nerves, he closed his eyes for just a moment relaxing to the touch, remembering the same gentleness from long ago. Deep blue focused once again on the King's face, "I was not expecting anyone else this evening, is all," he confessed.

Steele Grey looked into those once excited eyes, full of mischief and thirst for knowledge. Now he only saw sadness, a lifeless soul. "I wanted to tend your hurts. The bandage on your hand has not been changed since yesterday evening and with all the excitement of your waking, well, it had been forgotten," concern filled the long ago Ranger's voice, reluctantly removing his hand from the once carefree face of his friend.

Turning completely around, the Ring-bearer winced as his left four fingered appendage managed to bear full weight, causing his elbow to give way, collapsing back onto the pillows. He saw Aragorn's hand coming into view to lend support, capturing it quickly with his right. "Please, I will be all right," he said definantly. He did not want to be treated like an invalid. He wanted to be independent again, and not have to know that someone was always there to catch him when he fell, failed, he thought to himself.

Taken aback by Frodo's sudden independence, he nodded curtly before getting up from the bed, bringing over a wooden bowl, setting it on the bedside table. Reaching into the all too familiar herbal bag, nimble fingers retrieved a few Athelas leaves. Bruising them between his fingers to release the oils, Aragorn blew on them whispering something in Elvish before dropping them into the prepared water. Reaching for the Ring-bearer's injured hand, he took it into his own, gently tugging at the knot that held the linen gauze in place. When he began to unwind the bandage, he felt the little one tense within his grasp as he neared the bloodied stump, the linen sticking in some places as he went. He stopped what he was doing, glancing from time to time at Frodo's grimacing face. In that instance, he laid a towel on his lap, transferring the bowl from the table to rest upon it, carefully placing the limb in the Athelas water to soak. "This will help the bandage come off easier as well as start to heal the limb. I am sorry to cause you pain."

Frodo looked up, whispering tiredly, "I know. At least if I can feel pain, then I know I am alive."

Aragorn smiled briefly, then he attempted to remove the rest of the bandages. The guaze slipped off, revealing healthy pink tissue. He heard a slight gasp, looking up to see the Ring-bearer staring intently at the wound. "Are you all right, Frodo?" the former Ranger asked, observing watery eyes.

"I...I did not...I mean I knew that my finger was gone, but..." he sniffled trying to choke back the tears. Images of him putting the Ring on, still struggling with his inner self of why he did as he walked around in circles flooded his mind. After Gollum bit off his finger to obtain the Precious, he only remembered the blood gushing out, anger taking over as no other thought crossed his mind except to get the Ring back and...This was the first time he had actually seen the result of Gollum's lust.

The King's heart went out, no words of comfort coming to mind, brushing one of the hobbit's stubborn curls out of blue eyes, drying fallen tears with calloused fingers. Setting back to task, the wound was bathed, an ointment made from Athelas leaves applied to the skin that had been folded over to create a flap covering the exposed bone. Lastly, a new linen bandage was started at the wrist, creating an anchor as it was wrapped around the shortened digit crossing the palm. This was done several times before it overlapped the forearm then tied off. Satisfied with the dressing, Aragorn disposed of the dirty linen and came back with a nice cup of warm tea. "Here, Frodo, drink this. It will ease your pain and help you sleep," he grinned knowing that the hobbit did indeed know what to expect from any teas that he personally offered when in his care.

From experience, Frodo knew not to refuse, because somehow, someway, Aragorn always got the brew down him. So, with his right hand he reached for the cup, but was caught off guard when the King helped him to sit up, cradling him within the fold of his arm as he drank from the proffered cup. Frodo had closed his eyes, revealing in the warmth and friendship he missed that extended from this man since their departing of ways at the Falls of Rauros.

"Frodo?" Aragorn asked looking upon the hobbit's serene face, concluding that the brew was having its desired effect. When there was no answer, the King lowered his lips, brushing a light kiss upon Frodo's forehead. "Man du, Frodo," he spoke in Elvish as he gently guided the little ones head back to the pillow.

"Please, do not go, Aragorn," the hobbit pleaded as his eyes opened wide, his right hand grasping at the Man's tunic.

"You need to sleep. I thought you were already," he said quietly, gathering the hobbit closer to him.

"It is just that...just," he thought outloud hoping that Aragorn would not laugh at him. He was foolish to think that something that meant the world to him, the King would think as simple. So, instead of asking he releashed his grip, "Nevermind, good night to you as well, My Lord."

Taking a deep breath, the King set his lips, "I do not think so, Tithen Min. Now, tell me what it is that you need...or want. You forget I know you all too well to just leave," he said, stroking the soft pale cheek with his thumb.

"Sam is not here. While we were making our way toward Mordor, he was always there. Sort of a comfort?" he said thinking he sounded foolish as he explained it, but continued, "Will you stay with me? I...do not want to be alone."

A soft loving smile crossed Aragorn's bearded face, embracing the hobbit. Frodo returned the heartfelt hug as his little arm encircled the King's neck. "Of course, Tithen Min. All night if you need me to," he whispered into the pointed ear, tears of happiness streaking his own features releasing all the fears he had pent up worrying over the Ring-bearer when he promised that he would have gone to the very fires of Mordor with him.

Frodo was sleeping without nightmares this night, cradled within the King's arms and was glad to be part of the solution, for his nightmares had left him as well.

the end.