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

E-mail: febobe at yahoo dot com

Characters: Frodo, Sam, Aragorn. (Others to appear later.)
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: After their rescue, Aragorn wants Frodo and Sam to only gradually return to eating solid food - but the appetites of hobbits will not be denied.

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.


Part I: Frodo

"Sam, if I have to face another soft-boiled egg, I think I might go as mad as I did at Mount Doom. Honestly."

"I believe you, Mr. Frodo." For once Sam didn't hurry to hush me: sitting by my bed, he looked as mournful as if his entire garden had just wilted. "And I'd be just as sorry to see it as I was then, when it broke my heart fair in two."

I sighed, nodding, and pulled my knees up to my chest, attempting vainly to ignore my rumbling stomach. First breakfast had been only the usual tray of light porridge thinned with warm milk, accompanied by a cupful of fruit juice - that, at least, was nice, freshly squeezed from the strange fruit called oranges, like their sunny colour. Second breakfast was always a coddled or soft-boiled egg. . .no slices of hot buttered toast, no crispy bacon, no juicy broiled or fried ham. . .no muffins, piping hot from the oven and melting in my mouth. . . . Elevenses promised no better: I wanted scones with sweet butter and perhaps a sandwich, but instead a cup of beef-tea would arrive, albeit promptly on schedule.

And luncheon?

Luncheon was a mockery of a meal.

"Good morning, Frodo, Sam."

I heard Sam utter some polite greeting, but said nothing, burying my face in folded arms upon my knees as Aragorn entered. He approached my bed - even now, I spent much time there - and touched my back gently, as if hoping for a new response.

"Still angry with me, little one? Will you not at least speak to me?"

I pulled away from his touch, not looking up. "Good morning, Ringbearers' Bane."

Aragorn sighed. "Would that I could not deny you! But in good conscience I must beg - insist - that you return only gradually to solid nourishment, for you both were so long deprived of normal food. Lembas is not the same."

"So we noticed."

"Frodo, I only wish to prevent further distress to you both. I do not wish to see you and Sam suffer, and those who eat their accustomed foods and diets again too swiftly after long fasting or short rations tend to become dangerously ill. It has been seen many times. I am sorry."

"And so you allow us nothing but liquids and a few soft things."

"Only temporarily, Frodo. Only for a time. We will keep adding foods."

"Even the orcs fed me."

Silence fell between us. At last Sam cleared his throat.

"Begging your pardon, sir, but - it does seem awful cruel to poor Mr. Frodo. Couldn't at least he have a bit o'something proper? He ought to be eating things to fill him back out, tempt his appetite and all. . . ."

"I am sorry, Sam. But there is no other way." The hand upon my back again. "I could send up some more broth for you both this afternoon - "

"No." The word came out in chorus between Sam and myself, though Sam added a polite thank-you to his. . .I, however, fear that I was past manners, and sufficiently cranky from hunger to refuse anything other than the most irritable of communications with the cause of our distress.

A moment's hesitation. "I suppose, then, that this may not be the best time for me to ask how you are both feeling?"

I snorted, scowling into my knees.

"Well, you see, sir," I heard Sam begin apologetically, "it's like this. I'm feeling well enough, except for - well, a bit hungry. . .and Mr. Frodo. . .it is awful hard for him to feel well at all without much to keep him going. Eating nothing more than soup and milk for a long time after not having much of anything, when a body was going through what he was. . .that's no way for a body to get their strength back. Leastways not a hobbit. I think he'd be feeling a sight better if you'd just let him eat. . .begging your pardon, not meaning to seem rude nor anything. Surely some good roast chicken and vegetables wouldn't hurt anything? Surely he needs to be eating that kind of thing to get better."

At the mention of roast chicken, I suppressed a groan. My stomach complained in chorus, grumbling loudly.

"Forgive me, Sam. Yes, you both need those things. . .but at present, the best thing for you is to have only soup made from them, strained, as we have been giving you, and to add the solid foods back in slowly. If you continue to do well, by the end of the week we may be able to add some applesauce and perhaps a little white bread."

It was Monday.

"I assure you, there is much to build back your strength in the food you are being served. The beef broth with red wine will help build up your blood; it is an old remedy that goes back many ages. And the chicken broth is made with many good vegetables. There is the orange-juice as well, which provides nourishment that you both sorely need. Eggs will help you both to grow strong again. And there is the porridge. . .and milk. . .and honey. I will not allow you to starve."

"I wouldn't know that from my stomach," I muttered darkly.

"There now, Mr. Frodo." Sam's gentle hands touched my back this time, rubbing my shoulders, though I pulled away in frustration at the world. "There now, sir. . . . Just lie down and try to think of something pleasant. You need your rest; you didn't have a good night last night."

At last I looked up: it was necessary to shoot a baleful glare in his direction, which I turned to do. There was no need to say so with Aragorn present: I had hoped to endure nothing more than our usual evening examinations, but it was too late. An anxious expression darkened the grey eyes, and I felt my empty stomach tighten.

"A poor night, Frodo? Why did you not speak of it? Please, lie down. . .let me see how you are doing."

"I didn't sleep well because I was hungry."

"Why did you not call for a cup of warm milk?"

He felt my forehead, and I reached up, pushing his hand away irritably. "Hungry, not suffering from insomnia. Had the warm milk been accompanied by a few sandwiches and scones, then I could have slept."

A sigh, but he did not attempt to argue further, which I took for concession that we had reached an impasse. "You feel too warm - I believe you are still feverish. We must ensure that you drink more."

"How much more can I drink? All I have are liquids!"

Aragorn shook his head. "We must ensure that you drink more water, more broth, more fruit drinks - those fruit squashes you enjoy. Otherwise, you will become very ill; your fever will continue to rise, and you will feel very unwell."

"If you let us have something to eat, I'll try harder. And there's water in foods."

"A fine try, Frodo. But you are likely to be more ill if I allow you too much too soon." He shook his head and bent over to listen to my breathing, laying his ear just over my chest. I decided to follow Sam's instructions and think of something pleasant.

I contemplated pulling Aragorn's hair out.

-to be continued-