FIC: THE PINE-WOODS EXCURSION, CONCLUSION

AUTHOR: Lily Baggins

RATING: PG-13 (This part G)

Disclaimers. The usual. I make no money off of this and do not own these characters, much to my chagrin. They belong to Tolkien Enterprises and New Line Productions, and I only give them interesting---and usually unpleasant---ways to spend their time. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that all medical treatments contained herein are purely for entertainment value and are not meant to replace professional medical advice.

I have to say a HUGE thank-you and am actually down on my knees worshipping all you wonderful reviewers out there. I never dreamed this story would get that many, and I thank you for your patience in seeing it through. :)

***

Ah, it felt very good, Frodo Baggins thought to himself, to be wearing a clean, fresh nightshirt---as opposed to sleeping in the altogether---and resting comfortably dry in his soft bed without sweating the sheets down every hour. He still had a touch of fever and Aragorn or Arwen rubbed ointment into his skin regularly to soothe his remaining hives, but the hobbit knew he was regaining strength and was on the road back to a normal existence---if bearing the One Ring could, in fact, be considered normal.

His leg was healing well, although it was still very painful. Flipping the sheets back, Frodo grimaced at it. The swelling had nearly disappeared, but his calf was greatly discolored and right now looked most unsightly. Master Elrond had assured him, however, that in a few weeks he would have nothing but a tiny thin scar to remind him of the horrible event.

He balanced a thick, leather-bound book on his lap, sighing. He was beginning to feel a bit antsy from spending so much time in bed, even with the knowledge that he was so weak he'd not be able to walk two steps without falling.

Next to Frodo, Bilbo lay propped up against the headboard, nodding off in sleep. It was one of the old hobbit's favorite pastimes now---to sit beside Frodo and keep an eye on him, making certain the younger hobbit got enough rest and sleep. Except, Frodo mused to himself, Bilbo usually fell asleep first. Across the room Sam lay snoring on one of the large overstuffed chairs, and Merry and Pippin, ebullient in spirits since Frodo had started recovering, could have been anywhere. Frodo thought they were most likely in Rivendell's great kitchens overdosing on roast beefs, chicken pies, and bread puddings. Frodo himself had managed, to Elrond's pleasure, to finish half a tray of tasty-but-simple hobbit-fare just a bit earlier.

Leaning past Bilbo a bit, Frodo gazed out the window. The sky had already darkened, which meant, no doubt, that Master Elrond or Aragorn would be coming soon with a sleeping draught. It tasted pleasant enough, and it *did* enable Frodo to sleep deeply without pain, but just the same, he was getting rather weary of medicine.

Turning back to his book, Frodo groaned quite loudly, causing Sam to jump up as if bitten and Bilbo to jerk his head up, his eyes flitting about the room wildly.

"Lad, what is it? Are you in pain?"

"Mr. Frodo? Can your Sam help?"

Creasing his eyebrows together, Frodo shook his head and stared at the book in front of him, heedless of the heart attacks he had just nearly given to two hobbits dear to him. "Bilbo----Bilbo, this one is too difficult. You're well aware that my knowledge of Quenya is not as great as yours----I shan't ever be able to translate half of this one!"

Bilbo sighed and Sam looked as if he was caught between hugging Frodo or punching him for scaring him so.

"Frodo, my boy," Bilbo said, "why don't you put the book down and try to rest. There is plenty of time for reading later---Master Elrond wants you to get plenty of sleep, and it is getting dark outside." As if to emphasize his point, Bilbo yawned.

Scowling, Frodo set the book down, trying to hide his own yawn in response to Bilbo's. "Rest, rest, rest . . . I'm not tired, Bilbo---"

A knock at the door interrupted his tirade as Gandalf poked his head in, looking about briefly before entering and coming to sit in the chair at Frodo's bedside.

"Well, well, my dear hobbit---it *is* good to see some color back in your cheeks and some brightness in your eyes. How are you feeling?"

Laying the book down, Frodo regarded the wizard. "Much better, Gandalf. Very ready to be out of bed and up and about." He let out a deep breath and spoke hesitantly. "Master Elrond tells me I will be allowed up for short intervals in a few more days. He said I shall have many weeks to recover my health before I . . . before I must leave."

Gandalf nodded. "Rest and take what time to ease your cares that you may, Frodo, and enjoy Rivendell while its comforts are open to you. You need not worry about anything at the moment."

"I know. And I am grateful for everyone's help . . . I suppose being the Ring-bearer is of little consequence when just a few short days ago I did not expect to live to see next week."

Smiling, the wizard patted the hobbit's arm gently. "But you came through it splendidly, as Bagginses are wont to do. Now, it is quite dark outside, and you should put away your book and lie down to sleep."

"Honestly, Gandalf, I would rather stay awake a bit---"

Suddenly the door opened again and this time Aragorn looked in, smiling at Frodo. "Ah, Frodo . . . you have a visitor. Er . . . several visitors, as it were, if you feel up to it."

The hobbit's eyebrows knitted together as he wondered who in Middle-earth could be visiting him in Rivendell that he hadn't recently seen. Pulling his covers up to his chest, he leaned back against his pillows and stared, a bit confused.

"Uh, please . . . show them in."

Aragorn entered, followed by Elrond and Arwen, and held the door open for several more elves with various musical instruments. Frodo recognized Lindir among them---and at the sight of the last elf to enter the room---a tall male with shining golden hair---the hobbit's face lit up in delight.

"Glorfindel!"

"Well met again, Frodo Baggins." Glorfindel smiled as he strode to Frodo's bed and sat gingerly on its edge, laying a hand on the hobbit's pale brow to ease some of the lingering pain. "You are looking well. I would have come by to see you much sooner but, unfortunately, was on an errand far outside Rivendell. I have only just returned."

"I am glad you came by," Frodo told him, remembering all that Glorfindel had done for him at the Ford and just before. "And how fares Asfaloth?"

Glorifindel chuckled. "He is well, and stubborn as usual. You shall have to visit him in the stables when you are strong again." Gently clasping Frodo's shoulder, he rose. "I would like to visit with you longer, Frodo, but you do need your rest, and we have something for you."

Frodo nodded, a bit regretful that he was not able to talk further with his friend but put at ease by Glorfindel's touch. "Thank you." He did not feel *very* tired, as everyone seemed to think. However, he saw Elrond talking with Aragorn in the corner and knew, without a doubt, that the elf-lord would have medicine aplenty for him after the others left. Next to Frodo, Bilbo had again nodded off to sleep, and across the room, Sam watched the goings-on with wide brown eyes, a bit taken aback to see so many mighty folk in one rather small place.

With the exception of Elrond, the other elves in the room gathered together. Arwen, her eyes shining, nodded to Frodo as a smile curved her lips. "Well, Master Frodo, since you cannot visit us in the Hall of Fire, we have decided this evening to bring the Hall of Fire to you." Here she paused, glancing over at Aragorn, who in turn looked at the floor as if he were trying not to chuckle.

"However," Arwen continued, "we wish to begin by singing what Estel and Master Bilbo have told us is one of your favorites, Frodo, before going on to our more traditional ballads. Everyone?"

After a few seconds to get the right note, the minstrels began to sing and play---Lindir looking just a *tad* uncomfortable with the choice of melody.

"There is an inn, a merry old inn,
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog . . .

Frodo, remembering his ill-fated singing of this tune at The Prancing Pony, could not keep the huge smile off his face. He glanced over at Aragorn, who winked, and then at Gandalf, who sat puffing thoughtfully on his pipe, his eyes twinkling. Even Bilbo woke up long enough to nod appreciatively. Sung in the melodic elven voices, the song took on a life it had never quite known before.

Then that particular tune ended and the singers immediately launched into one of the Elvish songs Frodo had heard several times in the Hall of Fire. The voices were enchanting and as the hobbit listened, he could detect a few of the words and understood that Arwen and the others were singing of the Blessed Realm.

Soon, unable to help himself, Frodo grew a bit drowsy, and as he listened, he saw in his mind a blue swirling Sea, and green rolling fields and sun-filled meadows in far lands, and leaves of trees filled with sweet fruits the hobbit had never seen nor imagined.

Only a few minutes later Frodo's eyelids became too heavy to stay open and his head drooped as the words swept him away. Arwen, noticing, stepped out from the singing group and to Frodo's bed, removing the book from the hobbit's lap and feeling his brow, pleased to find it of a nearly normal temperature.

"I do not think he will require a sleeping draught this evening," the elf-maid remarked as together, she and Aragorn sat the now-sleeping Frodo up and removed some of pillows from behind him. Laying him comfortably back, they tucked him warmly under the bedclothes and then did the same with Bilbo, having not the heart to wake him and knowing Frodo would benefit from his presence.

Seeing Frodo settled and breathing deeply and easily, Aragorn and Arwen blew the lamps out about the two hobbits, smiling as Bilbo turned over and snuggled close to his heir. Frodo did not stir except to sigh contentedly, soundly lulled to sleep by the Elvish minstrels' melodies. And all that night he dreamt not of the circle of gold about his neck, but of golden rivers in the Blessed Realm he never thought to see.

**NAMARIE---THE END**