Title: Beds
Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd/Febobe)

E-mail: febobe at yahoo dot com

Characters: Frodo, Faramir, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn.
Rating: PG. This story falls within the guidelines of the FrodoHealers group in both letter and spirit, free from profanity or sexual content.

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

Summary: The Day of Coronation is at an end at last, and Aragorn is king. That very first night, Faramir has to quickly arrange lodgings for everyone in the Citadel. Where does the new king sleep? What about the hobbits? Much ado about sleeping arrangements ensues. (Non-slash, folks.)

Story Notes/Announcements: A baby plot bunny from Shirebound's hutch, its tiny nose still wet, fed on lots of carrots and lettuces and love.

For permission to reproduce any part of this fanfic, please contact 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 presented 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.

BEDS

"Are we still on war rations for regular meals? I do hope not; breakfast really ought to be something special the morning after you've been to a coronation."

"And how would you know?"

Frodo heard Merry's laughter as if from a distance: he felt himself following behind, but it seemed as if he were detached from his body. Strong hands held him, and strong arms caught him up, and he suddenly realised that he had been on the verge of fainting. The thought caused him to huddle against Faramir's warmth gratefully.

"Those should be improving, Pippin, now that we are no longer indefinitely blocked in. We shall see what can be done. But at the very least, I think an improved breakfast will be available for the heroes of this war." The comfortable vibration of voice in chest soothing to his weary nerves, Frodo closed his eyes. "For now, however, I hope that tonight's feast will at least last you a few hours! Should it not suffice until breakfast, there is fruit and bread available; I have had full baskets placed by your beds, and decanters of the purest cool drinking-water besides."

"Where will we all sleep?" Pippin's voice. "Does Merry have to go to the Houses of Healing? Can he stay with me? Can't Frodo and Sam stay with us too?"

Faramir's laugh sounded as a warm, gentle music. "Merry does not have to go back. I have given the two of you a room I think you will enjoy. It was the room Boromir and I shared when we were lads - I hope you will not take offense, but the beds are just the right size for your heights. Yes, he was taller than I then; he was the elder. I shall leave it to you, however, to fight over which of you is the taller. There are other places, but I thought you would not like to be separated, and - " He hesitated, and Frodo could hear the soft catch of his breath. It made him swallow as well. " - I know how fond you were of Boromir, and he of you. He would be so pleased."

"Thank you." Merry's voice was thick, heavy in the way that it had been when he spoke to Frodo at length for the first time after their terrible separation. "Thank you, Faramir - we would love that."

A moment's silence as they continued on. It was a relief that no one asked questions, and Frodo said nothing.

"What about Frodo and Sam?"

Pippin again. Sam had said nothing; Frodo had assumed he was still plodding along beside them, for it had been his hands that caught his master. Opening his eyes, the Ringbearer surveyed the corridor: yes, not only Merry and Pippin looked up at the Steward, but Sam as well, his attention more on the bundle in Faramir's arms. At once he smiled, and Frodo managed a small smile in return.

Dear Sam.

"Sam is well enough to remain in a room here. I have chosen - "

"Begging pardon, sir, but what about Mr. Frodo?"

Faramir paused, and even Frodo found himself uncertain. He had not given thought to the matter of where he would sleep that night, knowing that Aragorn or Faramir or Gandalf would give him a bed, a real bed, to which he could return. Little else had mattered until now.

"I have been told that Frodo needs continued care that will require his return to the healers. Therefore, I must take him back to their charge for the night. He will remain there in bed until they give permission for him to rise once more."

A chorus of complaints arose at once, and Frodo found their progress halted - much to his appreciation, considering the news - as Faramir attempted to address the cacophony of pleas.

"Is there some crisis of which I have not learned? Or have we run out of mushrooms?"

Aragorn's calm, amused voice cut through the chaos. At once Frodo breathed a sigh of - well, half-relief, uncertain what the King's response might be. Anger? Annoyance? Exasperation? It was Strider, after all, but. . .

"My lord." Faramir bowed as best he could with an armful of hobbit. "Our heroes are not, I believe, happy with the sleeping arrangements for the Ringbearer."

"Really?" Aragorn studied first Frodo, then the others curiously, arching dark eyebrows. "Pray, tell me, what are the sleeping arrangements? For that matter, what are mine? Perhaps I will object to mine as well."

"The royal chambers, of course, your Majesty." Yet Faramir smiled a little, seeming to Frodo relieved by Aragorn's tone. "They have been prepared for you - fully aired for many days, a new bed made with the finest pillows and the softest linens. There are fresh flowers, such as we could find, and refreshment." He pauses. "Not, in fact, unlike the hobbits' arrangements - Merry and Pippin in the room that Boromir and I shared as boys, Sam in the room just across the hall. . .and Frodo back to the healers' care."

"I see." Aragorn looked from Faramir. . .to Frodo. . .to the others. "And which part - or parts - of this do you find objectionable?"

"Frodo should be with us." Pippin first, of course.

"It's only that we do hate the thought of him having to go back, alone - I'd gladly go with him, but will they let me? And then that leaves poor Pippin alone - "

"I'd like to know what sort of care Mr. Frodo needs as I can't see to." Sam, stubborn as ever.

"Indeed." Nodding, Aragorn turned to Faramir. "As I understand it, what Frodo requires during the night is simply someone to keep watch over him. . .to administer nourishment periodically. . .to give some medicines and keep him comfortable." A momentary silence, and he smiled at Frodo. "Put him in my chambers. It is only fitting that the King's bed first go to the Ringbearer."

Frodo opened his mouth to protest, but others were already doing so.

"But Frodo will still be alone - "

"I mean, not that you aren't anybody, Strider, but - "

"No other hobbits - can't we help him?"

Aragorn laughed then, and shook his head.

"Sam at least can come. You two rascals, if you promise to be very careful of your cousin, may come and stay with him. . .though he is to rest, mind you, and not be kept awake half the night by wagging tongues! Faramir, you may as well have everything moved. For tonight, at the very least, I believe I have company."

Frodo sighed comfortably as he felt himself transferred gingerly from one set of warm arms to another, going from the scent of ferns and southern herbs to the familiar aroma of pipe-weed - mingled less strongly with sweat than usual; Strider had had a bath fairly recently, at least. The thought made him smile, and he snuggled against Aragorn's chest.

He knew little else until he felt himself being laid down. Opening his eyes, he found himself upon a great bed, enormous and elegant and soft, draped with fine fabrics, just as Faramir had said. The bedside table held a basket filled with breads and fruit, some kinds strange and unfamiliar: Frodo recognised apples among them, and grapes, of course, were familiar, but the varying sizes of brightly-coloured fruits with porous skins were new and strange, though they seemed to emit a pleasantly aromatic fragrance. There was a tall crystal decanter of perfectly clear, pure water, so beautiful it made Frodo wish to weep, and cups for drinking. A cabinet stood close by - liquours, it seemed to hold. Too exhausted to further examine his surroundings, he turned onto his side, curling up, only to find Aragorn's hand against his back moments later.

"Frodo - will you allow me to put you to bed properly? You need not move. Only let me care for you, and let Sam give you a little something to swallow, and you can sleep. Your cousins are here. No one will disturb you. We all wish only to make you comfortable."

He nodded faintly. It had been such a long day. Yawning, he lay still as Aragorn undressed him, drifting in and out of a hazy half-sleep as he felt the warmth of a damp sponge against his body: a warm bath, and warm towels and blankets tucked over him to follow it. The soothing touch of Aragorn's strong hands against his back, massaging tenderly, felt wonderful, and he forget to feel anxious at the thought of the others seeing. There was only, for the moment, relief.

"Frodo?"

Frodo started. He had fallen nearly into solid slumber as the King rubbed his back and limbs. "Mmm? I - I'm sorry - "

"Quite all right." Aragorn smiled warmly. "Come now, just a little. You must take some extra nourishment and liquid; you are still too weak from your ordeal, and this is the only way to build back your strength."

At Aragorn's coaxing, Sam came close, touching the spout of a feeding-cup to his master's lips as Aragorn supported Frodo's head. Cautiously Frodo tasted: lightly warmed apple juice with hints of spices and sweetening - nutmeg and honey, perhaps?

Beside him he felt the warmth of Pippin's soft, comfortable snuggling. He heard Merry's voice, but felt too comfortable to move, glad when he felt Sam settle close to him. At once he nestled cosily between the pair, and smiled as he heard Pippin make a small murmur: Merry had settled on the other side of him, though one arm came across; Frodo could feel the calming hand brushing his arm, and felt soothed. Aragorn settled soft down pillows - like the one supporting his head - beneath his still-aching, tender feet, and tucked him back in, lying down at the foot of the bed with one large hand resting upon Frodo's feet. But not asleep. . .he lay watching in silence, keeping vigil. Sleepily Frodo smiled and closed his eyes.

It would be all right. He was certain of it. All would be well.

At least, all involving down pillows.

-the end-