Title: Butter

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe")

Rating: G

Warnings: Mild angst, some food detail.

Summary: Following the Quest, Frodo dines with Faramir...and remembers.

BUTTER

Butter.

Frodo stared at the pale yellow pats upon the plate before him. His hands trembled as he lifted knife and bread, and after a moment he set both back down uncertainly.

"Frodo? Are you all right?"

Faramir's gentle voice at his ear drew his attention: the Steward was waiting upon him as if he were some grand lord, something that felt strange indeed. Yet in truth it was welcome, for he was one of the few with whom Frodo felt he could comfortably tell the truth, could admit things that sounded strange to others. In Faramir he found a listening ear and open heart.

"Yes, I. . .I. . ." He struggled for words. "It's only. . .I haven't had butter since. . .Ithilien, with you and your men."

The smile softened to a more sombre nod. "Indeed." Bending closer, Faramir lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "Would you care for some assistance with your bread?"

Frodo nodded.

"You seemed hungry. . .the last time we met." Taking up the warm slice carefully, Faramir began to spread it amply with butter. "I was glad that you seemed to enjoy sharing our meals."

"They were wonderful." Frodo accepted the bread shyly, blushing, glad that this was his private meal. The others to dine with him had been called away at the last minute, mercifully enough, and Faramir seemed more intent on tending to him as Steward than aught else, seeing that he had all that he might need or wish. "We. . ." He stopped, unsure of how to continue. "It. . .without your provisions. . . ."

"King Elessar told me." Faramir's strong hand rested lightly upon his back, gently rubbing it as Frodo bit into the bread. "He said that there were a few fragments of waybread left in Sam's belongings; the two of you had no food otherwise."

He hesitated.

"And. . .I saw you. Sleeping, and well after the King had tended your hurts. . .and yet I could still see." Faramir sighed. "You had been. . .among other things. . .starved."

Frodo said nothing, taking another bite of bread.

Starved.

Part of him felt like laughing. . .after being beaten, stabbed, stung, bitten, and so much more, the lack of food sounded such a small thing.

And yet. . .as he let the bit of buttered bread melt on his tongue, flashes of memory shot through his veins like lightning. The last shreds of memory, before darkness closed over him and the wheel of fire claimed even his oldest memories: the scent of gingerbread baking, his mother's receipt. . .a mugful of mushroom soup, creamy and warm and silky-smooth save for bites of mushroom. . .sandwiches made with plain, good bread and whatever was in his kitchen, jam or cold chicken and pickles or cucumbers. . .soft-boiled eggs cracked into a bowl of buttered toast pieces cut into shapes, richly saturating them with the yolk.

How he had longed for food. . .how *desperately* he had longed for something to eat, something good to eat, something like what they had brought him in Rivendell when he had finally woken from his sleep after the dreadful wound and horrible weeks of cold, wet, painful travelling in such grave danger. But this time, he had realised with an ache, there would be no Rivendell. There would be no comfort for him at the end of his journey. Only the memory of the comfort he had had in Ithilien for a few fleeting hours, only so long as he could cling to those memories.

And now. . .

He merely nodded shyly, looking up at Faramir, who sat close beside him, allowing the big man's hand to continue resting compassionately against his back.

Abruptly Faramir swallowed, blinking as he turned back to the table, buttering another hobbit-sized slice of bread. "Would you like a bit more, Frodo?"

"Yes, please." Frodo was somewhat surprised to hear the words from his own lips. . .but it sounded nice, and he accepted with a smile. "I. . .thank you, I would."

-finis-