Title: The Surprise
Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe")
Rating: G (K)
Summary: In Rivendell before the Quest, Frodo has a terrible sore throat...but his friends, guided by Arwen, find a way to help the situation.
"Now, Mr. Frodo. You know you've got to eat something."
Frodo shook his head adamantly, despite the stern look from Sam. "Can't. Hurts to swallow."
"Well, Lord Elrond said you need nourishment to help you get better, sore throat or no. Isn't there something you reckon you could eat? Wouldn't you like some o'that nice creamy chicken and mushroom soup you always love so good when you're sick? What about that?"
"No, thank you, Sam. Not even that. Soup stings my throat."
Sighing, Sam shook his head, wringing out a fresh compress in cool water and gently replacing the one on his master's forehead. "Well, let me just go and see about a cool drink for you, then."
"Thank you, Sam." Frodo closed his eyes, resting quietly against his pillows, as Sam climbed down from the bed and reluctantly plodded from the room. However, he was greeted at the door by Merry and Pippin.
"How is he?"
"Will he eat?"
"Can we bring him something?"
"How is his fever?"
"One question at a time!" grumbled Sam. "He ain't well, and that fever ain't going down while he's refusing to take a thing, if you ask me. Won't swallow a spoonful of soup, though at least he hasn't said no to a good cool drink, which is what I'm going to fetch him now."
"Frodo still will not eat?"
Arwen's voice startled all three hobbits, and they looked up in some awe, though Sam held his own, shaking his head disapprovingly.
"No, and don't think I haven't tried with him. Won't even take his favourite soup."
"I see." Arwen crouched before the little gardener, smiling mischievously. "Sam, how would you like to help coax your master into eating?" She motioned the others closer conspiratorially. "You two as well. I will need all three of you if this plot is to succeed. . . ."
Frodo lay staring at the ceiling, tracing patterns on the high carved beams - the same patterns he had been tracing for hours.
He was bored.
That being said, he felt too ill to get up. . .the worst of both worlds, as it were: too ill to get out of bed and too bored to find relief and comfort in staying there.
Suddenly he heard a soft knock at his door, followed by a now-familiar voice.
The Lady Arwen! Flushing a shade pinker, Frodo turned toward the door. "Yes?"
"May I come in?"
"Of course." He could hardly refuse her in her own home! But when she entered - followed by Sam, Merry, and Pippin, Sam and Merry each carrying a covered silver tray - he felt his heart fill up with dread. Did she actually expect him to eat? That didn't sound good just now; his throat still felt as if the insides had been pounded to pulp with a mallet. Patiently she took a seat on the bed, moving weightlessly as she bent to move the compress and kiss his brow. It felt so good that for an instant he nearly forgot about the trays.
"My poor Frodo. We have brought for you a treat. Will you at least look at it before you send it packing?"
Frodo hesitated, but could hardly refuse. "If you wish, my lady."
She laughed, the sound low and musical. "Please, Frodo! I am only Arwen." Gesturing for Sam to set the first tray close, she lifted off the cover to reveal a strange - something - smooth and lumpy-looking at the same time, slightly pink. . .and a similar concoction in an off shade of creamy yellow-white. . .and a third in a pale peach colour.
Frodo blinked. "What is it?"
"It is called ice-cream. Will you try a little? It is frozen cream and flavouring. This one - " She indicated the yellow-white creamy stuff. " - is vanilla, and this is peach, and the other - " She pointed to the pink stuff. " - is made with strawberries. It is very good for you, but it tastes sweet too, and slides easily down an aching throat. Will you not try a spoonful for me?"
Hesitating, Frodo reached for the spoon and dipped it into the strawberry ice-cream, bringing a small taste to his lips.
He could feel the frostiness rising from it.
Maybe this *would* feel good after all.
Cautiously he slipped it into his mouth. . .and swallowed.
THAT was delicious.
At once he dug in for more, continuing to eat - he hadn't realised before now just how hungry he really was. It had been many hours since he had eaten anything, and even then he had mostly picked at his breakfast, prompting Lord Elrond to discover his sore throat and fever and bundle him back off to bed. But this. . .
Now this was something good.
This was what he really wanted.
It was only after he finished both the strawberry and the vanilla ice-creams completely that he thought of glancing to the tray Merry held. "What's that?"
Arwen smiled and handed the finished tray back to Sam, motioning for Merry to deposit his burden upon the bed. "This is something a little different, but very like. It is a frozen custard such as they make in Gondor. . .it is made differently and contains some different ingredients, such as egg yolks. It would be very good for you if you could eat this; it is very nourishing. This kind - " She pointed to one of the creamy dishes. " - is blueberry, and this is honey, and this - " She pointed to a third, smile broadening. " - is made from shaved chocolate."
Frodo's eyes widened. Chocolate? He had had hot chocolate to drink in the mornings and evenings here, but it was a rare treat at home. And frozen custard?
"Thank you!" Eagerly he set to work, begining with the honey. Arwen laughed.
"There you go. Eat up, before they melt."
"Mmm." Frodo nodded through a mouthful of custard.
"Do you think this is all right on your poor throat, then?" ventured Arwen after a few minutes, when Frodo had made significant progress on the frozen custards.
Frodo looked up. Sam was fairly glowing with pleasure, and the worry lines across his brow had unfurrowed; Merry looked pleased as punch; and Pippin - well, Pippin was Pippin, looking delighted and interested and simply relieved.
He nodded. "Yes. . .this is lovely, thank you."
"Then this is what you shall have. I shall give orders that you be served ice-cream and frozen custard so long as your throat continues to pain you. When you wish for other food, you have only to ask, but until then, you may have all the ice-cream and frozen custard you wish to eat. How does that sound?"
Frodo blinked in astonishment. For a moment he had no words; then shyly he put his arms around Arwen, embracing her gratefully.
"Thank you," he whispered. "Oh, thank you!"
"You are welcome, tithen min," she breathed into his hair. "Anything you wish. Anything at all."