Author's Note : Frodo Baggins of Bag End helped with this chapter with Frodo's reaction.J

Chapter 30 : A new pain -- Shire 3001

There was nothing in the room but the sounds of the evening wind whispering against the trees. Another long night of restless sleep and endless waiting. Long hours of Angeline trying to get him to eat...and as time wore on it was easier and easier to sink into despair. No mail again the day before. It had become increasingly difficult for Angeline to get Frodo to eat anything at all. She had come in about 3 in the morning to see if she could coax some juice into him at the very least and found the covers thrown off of him as he tossed and turned in his sleep. He was soaked with sweat. She had patiently changed his sheets while he still lay in delerious, painful slumber.

She slowly began to apply cool water to his cheeks, wiping away at the clammy sweat while his breathing remained irregular. "My dear Frodo..." she whispered softly. "I wish I could ease your pain." Angeline knew what was troubling him...he'd spoken of it often enough and indeed in his sleep. He feared what was happening to the strange elleth who was always there to care for him in times like these. She wasn't here now...and Angeline was worried that he might not want to get well for fear he might not see here again. She continued to apply the cool cloth, wiping down at his chest, and softly humming.

He whimpered, beginning to cry afresh as he stirred in his sleep. "Gailethil. . . ." Frodo's fever seems to be worsening, rather than improving, and he grew increasingly restless, reaching out for beloved arms not there.

"Oh…Frodo dear…Its your Aunt Angeline…Your friend's not here…" She leaned over and brushed at his curls. "I've some juice for you…you weren't sleeping well…did you have a bad dream, Sweetie?"

He nods. . .and continued to cry as he clung to her. "Auntie. . .make it stop. . .please. . . . I don't know wh-why she hasn't come. . .something awful must have happened. . . ." He shakes his head at the juice whimpering again, "I can't. . .it hurts. . .though I *am* thirsty. . . ." Sniffling, he curled into a tiny bundle, his mop of dark curls damp against his brow.

Angeline coaxed him over to her side, turning the small bundle around even as he struggled against her, unwilling to face reality. "Frodo, sweetie…please…its apple juice…your favorite. I know you've been throwing up before…but…you haven't had anything today…" She took the cloth and wiped Frodo's forehead again tenderly. "I'm sure…sure that she's okay….she might just have….be having trouble coming here."

He shuddered…but slowly began to uncurl, finally nestling into her arms and yielding the struggle at last. He opened his eyes then and conceded to look toward the cup, daring to consider a sip.

Angeline sighed softly and held him, one arm gently wrapped around him. She held the glass near while he contemplated drinking. "Frodo…I know you're worried about her…but you must get strong again…even…even if it means you must do it on your own…I'll be here with you…all the way"

"I can't. . . ." Still he sniffled. . .but cautiously he ventured a tiny sip, barely enough to moisten his parched mouth. . .though this was at last followed by another. . .and another.

"Frodo sweetie…slow down…or you're going to make yourself sick again…" she held the glass away again but kept it near, fearful he might be taking too much at once for his condition. "Take a few breaths there…that's a good lad." She smiled gently and stroked his head with soft warm fingers.

He stopped drinking and pressed his small face into her shoulder, trembling. "That's all. . .can't. . . ." He was feeling a sharp pain in his stomach that was building rapidly and he knew that he could not take anything more.

Angeline frowned softly, "Frodo...I'm going to go get a pot of tea instead….Ginger tea...I think it will help your stomach, can you lie here for just a little bit?I won't be long, Sweetie, I promise."

He nodded weakly, he just wanted to lie there and perhaps the pain would go away. He relaxed his hold enough that she was able to ease him back onto the bed. "All right. . . ."

Angeline kissed him softly and whisped quickly out of the room. For a while…he laid there in the silence of his room late at night. Only a single candle flickered by his bed, and the fire danced weakly in the fireplace. It seemed…altogether lonely to him.

Frodo knew that something was terribly wrong with his stomach. The pain was more than he could bear sometimes. He also knew that it was not because he hadn't been eating…it was something else…something that was eating away at him. There were times when he was in so much pain that he thought he might faint from it. The doctor was chalking it up as pneumonia…but he hadn't told her about his stomach yet. He sniffled, they always liked to find the easiest route when it came to him. Frodo had had pneumonia before, certainly…but this wasn't like the other times. He had never been in this much pain from drinking or eating.

Normally…he would have told the doctor about what was going on…but he…didn't have the heart for it. He didn't care anymore…if something had happened to her…if she was never going to come back to him. If…she was with *him* now…he would rather not deal with it. Everyone he'd ever loved had left him or something terrible had happened to them. He stared at the ceiling weakly, he had his cousins…his Aunt…But his Aunty was pregnant again…and had children of her own. She barely had time for him anymore and was only here because Merry had sought for her. Why did this have to happen to him again…He sighed wearily and turned over to curl up into a little ball. She wasn't coming…

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