Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe")
Rating: T for thematic darkness, graphic medical detail, and major canon character death. WARNING: Not for sensitive readers, those opposed to major canon character death, and/or those who cannot bear deviation from canon. Very, very AU. Read at your own risk. This does not have a happily-ever-after ending, folks; I'm warning you now. No profanity, no sexuality, no slash included, intended or implied.
Summary: After the war, plague strikes Minas Tirith. . .including one of its smallest and most honoured inhabitants, and there is nothing Elrond can do to save him. . . .
Author Notes: See Rating for warnings. Please don't flame me for canon character death or AUness; I do realise this is pure deviation from Tolkien, and I make no claim that it even attempts to follow the spirit of the tale as he wrote it. This story may not be the cheeriest I've ever written, but it demanded to be told, and told honestly and openly, so here it is. I can only hope that I've managed to do it some justice. To me it has a deep and sorrowful beauty all its own. I do hope some of you have read this far and will read and find value, if tears, in it along with me. I do apologise for the lengthy delay between posting the first three chapters and the final one, but I've had some difficulty logging into the site. Please forgive me. Thank you.
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 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.
CHAPTER FOUR: Lullaby
The last hours of the night were proving the most difficult for Elrond. Frodo was complaining of feeling nauseated yet thirsty, and had to be coaxed to take ice-chips and sips of ginger tea. His skin was clammy, and his breathing grew more shallow and difficult with each passing half-hour. Still he complained of aches, so Elrond took it upon himself to continue offering gentle baths and rubdowns now and again until nearly dawn, when he wrapped Frodo warmly and tucked him in. But the little hobbit proved restless, and so Elrond gathered him up and took him to the rocking-chair by the window, cradling the swaddled bundle in his lap.
"Is there anything else you would like, Frodo?"
The little hobbit shook his head. "Not that I can have. . .I mean, I wish I could see my friends again, but I can't, and I don't really have anything specific enough to say worth dictating a letter to them. You know what I want to say. Tell them."
"And I would have liked to have seen the Shire again." Frodo laughed softly. "But that can't be either. Sam will have to see it for me. Sam and Merry and Pippin."
"They will, little one." Elrond could only pray that the contagion had not spread. But by all reports, the other hobbits had remained healthy - a good sign thus far.
"And Bilbo. I am sorry to miss Bilbo."
"Perhaps you will see him again soon, tithen min. We do not know what happens to hobbits when they die, but I believe that perhaps they are reunited with their loved ones, as much as they love home and family. So perhaps you shall see your parents. . .and soon, Bilbo, for his days cannot be many more."
Frodo smiled sadly. "I wonder what my parents would think of me now. . . ."
"They would be proud, tithen min, and they would be right to be so. You saved your home, and indeed all the world. Without you, the world would have fallen into darkness. . .including the Shire. They should be very proud."
A violent fit of coughing seized Frodo, this time bringing up more blood than usual - enough that Elrond had to seize the basin placed beside their chair. When it was over, Elrond helped Frodo rinse his mouth and set the basin aside, cradling his little charge close.
"It. . .was worth. . .it all. . .to know. . .that the Shire. . .can be safe." Frodo mustered a weak smile. "Worth. . .everything."
Elrond found he had no words. Rocking Frodo back and forth gently, he began to hum an elvish lullaby sung to his children many ages past.
It was only then that he felt the tiny figure go limp in his arms.
Slowly he continued to rock Frodo back and forth, humming the gentle lullaby, singing the Ringbearer to sleep at last.